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    by Craig B | Sep 21, 2018

    cover for Larry McMurtry's novel, Lonesome DoveBook Review: Larry McMurtry's winner of the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Lonesome Dove

    One of the more interesting things about Larry McMurtry’s 1986 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Lonesome Dove, is that it started out as a screenplay.  Peter Bogdanovich wanted to do a Western with McMurtry after he successfully adapted McMurtry’s The Last Picture Show in 1971, so the two collaborated on a little piece they called Lonesome Dove.  Well, actors (John Wayne included) didn’t like it and so, after 12 years of the project being stalled, McMurtry bought the rights back for something like $35,000 and turned it all into the novel I just finished ... and found to be quite good.  Later the story did get its movie magic makeover, of course, with Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones, so it all came full circle, but again the really interesting thing is this failed-screenplay-to-novel thing.  I guess this can’t be the first time something like that has happened, but, to me, it does feel like it; it feels like some sort of landmark keyed into our culture’s transition from print media-centricity to the YouTubers of today.  Sort of like, anecdotally, Fido is the first “regular” movie I ever “streamed,” and now some of the best stuff is made by streaming services and not the traditional studio system.  The Handmaid’s Tale anyone?  I doubt the traditional studio system could have handled Margaret Atwood's dystopian tale so well, though I could be wrong.  It's happened before.

    But back to the title.  Born and raised in Texas, McMurtry certainly seems to have the chops to write about desolate landscapes, geographical and otherwise.  (I guess it really is like the song says, "If you’re gonna play in Texas you gotta have a fiddle" … born in Texas.)  Human failings and achievements, the seeming meaninglessness of it all, giant distances and punishing geography are all captured here, but don’t get me wrong, this novel seems to be asking questions not just diatribing on whatever it is that gives existentialism its fuel.  Within the novel it seems that there might be hope and room for optimism; McMurtry just stops short of including such things.  Part of the reason there seems to be room, though, is because of the depth of the characterization in figures like Woodrow F. Call and Lorena Wood.  The characters make one sort of want to know what happens to them, even at the risk of a sequel that would probably end up being a cliché-fest full of fan service and wish-fulfillment.  But, good news!  There is hope!  For there is a sequel and from the plot points I saw enough characters die in the intervening time between the novels that it might just summon enough conflict to be operational.  Maybe I’ll have to give McMurtry’s The Streets of Laredo a go is what I’m saying.  At the very least that novel is shorter than Lonesome Dove making the time commitment less of a problem.  I mean, some of our calendars are just not as desolate as the Texas llano and the conversational stylings of a certain former Texas Ranger.  Page count must simply be a central consideration when deviating from one’s reading list into sketchy sequels with possibly unsustainable narrative arcs.  Of course the strictness of that admonition leaves me feeling a little desolate and without hope.  What is life without a little chance?


    Craig B author Craig B is a thirty-something lover of books, movies, and rock and roll whose grandmother still worries that he might not be eating enough. (Love you, Grandma!) He lives with his charming wife in the small town of Berne, IN (in sight of the clock tower) where he busies himself keeping the Roses of Sharon in check and training his chinchilla in the ancient arts of the Ninja. Craig’s current favorite book is Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann.
    by Kay S | Sep 19, 2018
    Book Review:  Believe in Me by Josie Litton

    On to the second book in Ms. Litton’s Viking series, Believe in Me. Lady Krysta, aka Josie littonSuper I-Talk-To-Animals-and-Fantasy-Creatures Girl, is the heroine and she is a Norse woman who has been forced by her brother to marry Lord Hawk. Lord Hawk is our Saxon lord and he is being encouraged by King Alfred to wed Krysta. You know that this wouldn’t actually be a romance without the requisite bad plan, only this time it’s the heroine who has the stink-a-roo. Krysta is going to – wait for it – wait for it – disguise herself. Instead of pretending to be a boy, she is going to pretend to be a servant. She plans to ensconce herself in Hawk's stronghold so she can keep an eye on him. She just wants to be very sure he is a trustworthy sort before she commits herself. If she had really thought her plan out, she would know that she didn’t really have any choices, but this is make-believe. She dyes her hair black (I’m not sure why because I don’t think Hawk has ever seen her). She also brings two of her trusty servants along. These servants have been with her since she was a child and her parents abandoned her. Here’s the deal. Krysta’s servants are not what they seem. Raven, the female servant, is a shapeshifter and she can turn into birds. Mainly, ravens, hence the name. Krysta’s other servant, Thorgold, is a troll. I’m not actually sure what the benefit of having a troll for a buddy can be. The bird I get, because a bird can fly into a room and eavesdrop – which is what Raven does. But a Troll, they live under bridges and collect money. Not sure how that would be of any use to Krysta.

    As you may have guessed there is a slight paranormal element in this tale, and I wonder why. When the story begins, we are told that Krysta’s mother wasn’t human, or we are led to believe that she wasn’t. Because Krysta’s father could not accept whatever it was that Krysta’s mother was, her mother was “called” back to the sea and never seen again. So, all of Krysta’s life, everything she does all centers around a paranormal mother. I suspect the mother was a Selkie because Selkies used to show up a lot in older romance books. However, we never actually know. All we know is that Krysta has to marry a man who will really, really love her, even if she does swim with the fishes. And, paranormal romances are fine, I don’t have a problem with them, as long as they are treated as such. What this story does is bring up all the shapeshifting, trolls, and non-human stuff and then just sort of forget about them as the book progresses. The story then turns into a Saxon/Norse non-paranormal story with the villain from the previous book. I think this book would have been a lot better if those paranormal elements had either been left out or been written stronger. For me, the narrative didn’t blend the paranormal elements into the story very well.

    Let’s talk about Lord Hawk. When I compare Hawk to the hero from the previous book, Wolf, Hawk doesn’t stand up too well. Just making a hero big doesn’t really add anything to his character. Hawk was a pretty flat guy; quite a cardboard person. Sure, sure, all the correct body parts twitch when they are supposed to but there wasn’t any substance to it. There was also tons of sex with no chemistry.

    After an interesting start with the first book in the series, Dream of Me, Believe in Me was a let-down. I was disappointed in this book; there was just nothing to it. It does come as part of a package, but it doesn’t really enhance that package. Second story - not so good.

    Time/Place: Vikings, Alfred the Great time - long, long, time ago
    Sensuality: Lots of mediocre sex.

    kayKay is an avid reader of historical romance books, maybe with a little trip into paranormal land and an occasional journey into mystery world.
    by Kay S | Sep 17, 2018
    awardRomance Writers of America (RWA) announced the winners of the 2018 RITA®.  The RITA—the highest award of distinction in romance fiction—recognizes excellence in published romance novels and novellas.

    Congratulations to the winners!

    2018 RWA Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient: Suzanne Brockmann

    Suzanne BrockmannSuzanne Brockmann is the New York Times best-selling author of fifty-seven novels, including her award-winning Troubleshooters series about Navy SEAL heroes and the women—and sometimes men—who win their hearts. Her favorite book is All Through the Night, in which her most popular character, FBI agent Jules Cassidy, marries the man of his dreams. In 2007, Suz donated all of her earnings from this book to MassEquality, in perpetuity, to help win and preserve equal marriage rights in Massachusetts. 

    2018 RWA Cathie Linz Librarian of the Year
    librarianFran Strober Cassano
    North Bellmore Public Library, North Bellmore, NY

    Fran Strober Cassano is an adult reference librarian, dedicated to all that is romance and erotic genre fiction for the North Bellmore Public Library in North Bellmore, New York. She is also an advocate of libraries and for genre collection development on the state and local levels. Frannie is a contributor over at Library Journal’s Xpress Reviews, writing reviews for their E-Originals section. She has been a contributor over at Scandalicious Book Reviews doing OverDrive and Libby app recommendations. She has presented at the RT BookLovers Convention, and she has been invited to give talks on libraries at local RWA chapter meetings.

    2018 RITA® Winners!!!!

    take the lead
    alexis daria
    Best First Book Winner
    Alexis Daria
    Take the Lead

    Falling hard lexi ryan Contemporary Romance:
    Long Winner

    Lexi Ryan
    Falling Hard - epub
    Tell me Abigail Strom Contemporary Romance:
    Mid-Length Winner

    Abigail Strom
    Tell Me
    Second Chance Summer Kait Nolan Contemporary Romance:
    Short Winner

    Kait Nolan
    Second Chance Summer
    wicked Dirty J kenner Erotic Romance Winner
    J. Kenner
    Wicked Dirty
    Between the Devil and the Duke kelly bowen Historical Romance:
    Long Winner

    Kelly Bowen
    Between the Devil and the Duke
    waltzing with the earl Catherine Tinley Historical Romance:
    Short Winner

    Catherine Tinley
    Waltzing with the Earl
    Now that You Mention it Kristan Higgins Mainstream Fiction
    with a
    Central Romance Winner

    Kristan Higgins
    Now that You Mention It
    hunt the darkness
    Stephanie Rowe Paranormal Romance Winner
    Stephanie Rowe
    Hunt the Darkness
    forbidden river Brynn Kelly Romance Novella Winner
    Brynn Kelly
    Forbidden River - epub 
    then there was you Kara Isaac Romance with Religious
    or Spiritual Elements Winner

    Kara Isaac
    Then There Was You 
    the fixer HelenKay Dimon Romantic Suspense Winner
    HelenKay Dimon
    The Fixer
    seize today Pinip dunn Young Adult Romance Winner
    Pintip Dunn
    Seize Today

    kayKay is an avid reader of historical romance books, maybe with a little trip into paranormal land and an occasional journey into mystery world.
    by Craig B | Sep 14, 2018


    cover for Father John Misty's album, God's Favorite CustomerThis newest album, God’s Favorite Customer, made me happy in the most oppressive way.  With lines like “you can take what I know about love and drown it in the sink” and “a love that lasts forever really can't be that special”, the album establishes a merry bleakness that I find difficult to resist.  Not to mention it felt like quite a step up from Misty’s last album, Pure Comedy.  That album verged on being spoken word poetry (though I’ve only listened to it once and should probably give it another go), which I found artistically less interesting than actual melodramatic, pop musicality that I could sing along with whilst performing various household tasks.  God’s Favorite Customer gives me hope that Misty’s mojo has not been utterly depleted by success and I’m happy to say, “Carry on, Father John, and keep reminding us that the sunrise will burn out your retinas if you look at it long enough.”

    Suggested Use:
    I could see putting some of these tracks on as alarm clock music.  The softer rock sensibility and enervating nature of the content could pair well with the dreary necessities of a Monday morning.  My only fear would be that the power of association between Mr. Misty’s music and the trauma of achieving wakefulness could overwhelm one’s tolerance and liking for certain tracks.  This is why I mainly rely on the generic buzz of a phone left on vibrate to wake me up in the morning.  That and my dogs’ restlessness.  They’re always on the verge of being ready to go outside and their love is real and unproblematic … and forever; an aspect I find affirming in a dog but (not too repeat myself too much) may find maddening in a song I’ve stuck on repeat … in the morning … forever.

    craig Craig B is a thirty-something lover of books, movies, and rock and roll whose grandmother still worries that he might not be eating enough. (Love you, Grandma!) He lives with his charming wife in the small town of Berne, IN (in sight of the clock tower) where he busies himself keeping the Roses of Sharon in check and training his chinchilla in the ancient arts of the Ninja. Craig’s current favorite book is Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann.
    by Kay S | Sep 12, 2018
    Book Review:  Dream of Me by Josie Litton

    Anyway, a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away there was an author by the name Josie littonof Maura Seger. Ms. Seger wrote a goodly number of historical romance books between 1983 and 1998. And then she disappeared. I, like a number of other people, kept looking for her. But alas, she just vanished. Probably to the Island of Disappearing Authors. Then in 2001 Bantam Publishing introduced a brand new author by the name of Josie Litton. They were excited because this new author was the bee’s knees! This great new author had written an exciting Viking trilogy which was going to be the bestest thing ever! But there was a mystery surrounding this new author. No one knew who Ms. Litton was or where she came from. Nothing could be found on her. The questions were many, the mystery only increased, (along with sales). Now, we all know you cannot fool romance readers for very long. No siree. Soon the hubbub hit the fan and it was discovered that Josie Litton was actually Maura Seger. Yes, Ms. Seger wasn’t on the Island of Disappearing Authors after all. Why all the “new” author hype? I’m sure Bantam had their reasons. For me it was all very odd. Especially when one considers alllll the authors who have tons of aka’s. There are many who use different nom de plumes when writing in different genres; it was all very puzzling. Even more so was the fact that a lot of us knew Ms. Seger had published under different names in the past. However, it wasn’t the use of a different name I found bewildering, it was the secretiveness which was employed by the publisher. I have never quite decided whether I should or should not have been insulted by someone trying to pull the wool over my eyes.  Regardless of the reason, Josie Litton aka Maura Seger, aka Jenny Bates, aka Laura Hastings, aka Sara Jennings, aka Anne MacNeil, aka Laura Michaels, aka Laurel Winslow was back, and even after all these years, her Viking trilogy is worth reading.

    Vikings, Vikings, Vikings. What a forgotten romance genre. I wonder why. The first book in Ms. Litton’s Viking series is Dream of Me, which was written in 2001. The hero of this book is Wolf Hakonson and we know he’s a Viking because his last name has three syllables and ends with “son.” By the way, all the heroes in this series have animal names. Speaking of names, what’s with the heroine names? All three heroines in this trilogy have absurd names. Their names seem as if they should be in the futuristic fantasy genre not the historical genre. In Dream of Me, there is Cymbra, aka Super I-Feel-Your-Pain Girl. Yes, all the heroines have some kind of tiny paranormal thing they do. But don’t get toooo excited, the paranormal aspect of the stories is long forgotten by the end of each book. Krysta, aka Super I-Talk-To-Animals-And-Fantasy-Creatures Girl. Krysta is in the second book, Believe in Me. And, Rycca, aka Super I-Hear-The-Truth Girl is from the third story, Come Back to Me. Now that I have introduced you to all the heroines in the series, let’s take a look at Lady Cymbra and the book in which she resides, Dream of Me.

    Dream of Me begins with Viking prisoners being marched through Lady Cymbra’s brother’s village. Even as she watches from afar, she can spot the biggest, most handsome one, and parts of her body start tingling. Because Cymbra is also Super I-Feel-Your-Pain Girl, she must check on the Vikings to make sure none of them are injured. She’s just that kind of caring girl. Well, her senses must have taken the day off because the Vikings are tricking the Saxons. Oh by the way, Lady Cymbra is a Saxon. Anyway, the Viking's leader, Wolf, has allowed himself and some of his trusted cronies to be captured. He has one of those romance hero plans. His sole purpose in coming to the Saxon stronghold is to kidnap You might be wondering why. Well I’ll tell you. You see, he suggested an alliance between the Vikings and the Saxons. He sent a marriage proposal to Cymbra suggesting they wed. He received an insulting letter back. He and all the Vikings in the world were insulted and degraded. He must have revenge. However, when a stunningly beautiful Cymbra meanders into the dungeon where the Vikings are located, Wolf’s mind becomes muddled (his other brain takes over). You see, not only is Cymbra the most beautiful woman in the world, she is also very gentle and doesn’t seem to have a problem helping disgusting Vikings. Even though Wolf starts to discard the revenge plan, he still kidnaps Cymbra – ‘cause that’s what Vikings do. And, the romance begins.

    Dream of Me is a standard, old-fashioned Viking tale, similar to some of Julia Garwood’s early medieval romances. If you are looking for hard-core, blood-thirsty, sweaty, Vikings, this story is not for you. These Vikings have a sauna. There is never any doubt as to what we will be getting in this book. There are no surprises and the misunderstandings are easily resolved. Curiously, this Viking story is almost gentle. While I may not have been blown away by the story, I enjoyed the mature quality of the writing. This story was a refreshing change from my usual Regency books and I delighted with being transported back into the Viking world, (even if it wasn’t as gritty as it really may have been).

    Spoiler. The villain/villains trek through all three books in the series.

    I do recommend this book. I enjoyed the romance between Wolf and Cymbra. It didn’t really bother me that misunderstandings were cleared up rather quickly. I thought the whole pace of the book was a pleasure. Even with the stumbling-block name of the heroine, I would have to say that this story is made for those nice pleasant reads at the beach. Or maybe on your porch, with a cup of coffee in your hand and the birds tweeting in the distance. Nice story.

    Time/Place: Alfred the Great/Viking North lands somewhere
    Sensuality: Warm/Hot

    kayKay is an avid reader of historical romance books, maybe with a little trip into paranormal land and an occasional journey into mystery world.
    by Kayla W | Sep 07, 2018

    Video Game Recommendation: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 5

    "The world is not as it should be. It's filled with distortion, and 'ruin' can no longer be avoided. Those who oppose fate and desire change... From time to time, they were referred to as Tricksters. You are the Trickster. Now is the time to rise against the abyss of distortion."


    Persona 5

    There are video games where the opening animation plays, and you instantly know that it is going to be a terrible or a great time. Persona 5 has the distinction of having an opening animation so good that I am certain that it was a big reason why the game sold as many copies as it did in its first month of release early last year – it’s all anime flash and rebellious, funky dancing. Luckily for the people who may buy the game based on its energy, they are fortunate to be entering in a series that is growing steadily in its cult audience, so that it is now very near to entering that so coveted Western gaming mainstream, right alongside Final Fantasy

    Persona 5 is a game that comes from a series with a reputation for breaking the boundaries of what is expected of games (see: my previous recommendation for Persona 4: Golden). They contain a great deal of depth, both in their gameplay mechanics as well as in their stories. This is especially true on the sub textual level, one which a lot of other makers of video games neglect to fully explore. That is quite literal, with the Jungian elements of the story becoming interactive.

    In most cases, the series features teenage characters that are treated in a mature manner, which doesn't just mean that the characters are in stories that tend to go on the dark side of the human experience; more importantly, they are given full and sometimes quite painfully honest character arcs.  

    The fact that it is likely going to be my favorite Role Playing Game of last year means that pushing just how great it is is beside the point. Anything that got me to stop playing Darkest Dungeon at least deserves some attention, to be honest. If you still haven’t played this game in spite of it being the sort of thing that hits your sweet spot of character driven gameplay with a major focus on dungeon crawling and student life simulation, then I insist that you at least try it. Where else are you going to find that scratch for a niche itch, anyway?

    This game has so many mechanics and contains the trappings of oh so many genres – including some that don’t actually exist, but this series, much like the Yakuza series, creates and makes work – that not only is it worthy of multiple play throughs, it is absolutely necessary to play through this already long game more than once to experience almost everything that it has to offer.

    So the short answer is that if you haven’t played a Persona or a Shin Megami Tensei game before, it is not crucial to play any of the previous games before this one (because there is no connecting story between the games), but this is a great introduction to the series, re-introducing elements that haven’t been in the series since number three, at least. This includes the use of very helpful guns and the interesting mechanic of being able to talk to monsters to recruit them to your protagonist, Joker’s, side.  Which leads to bizarre moments in the middle of battle where you have to figure out what you want to take from a captured shadow as well as what the best way to speak to this particular personality would yield the best results. Cue trying to figure out how best to get a child-minded monster to trust you or how to make an ultra-masculine monster get chummy with you - during a hold-up.

    The question is, is this game worth spending a ridiculously long amount of time with?  The answer that I would give for either longtime fans or people who've enjoyed previous Persona titles is that while this game performs above and beyond for the woefully underutilized genre Atlus have made for themselves, Persona 4 just performs better. It is especially the Playstation Vita remake, Persona 4: Golden, that shines as the reigning best of the series in my opinion. But, wow, does Persona 5 only just fail to rise to the high standard that its predecessor set for it. 

    So I recommend playing it immediately. And preparing yourself for at least a hundred hour journey.

    Kayla loves all things weird, wonderful, and macabre.  Her soul’s in writing, and her hobbies include gaming, watching movies and television shows, reading anything and everything. Her black cat’s TOTALLY, 100%, not evil.

    by Becky C | Aug 20, 2018
    Image from Dennis Skley flickr page

    How do librarians know what titles are coming out when?  How do we decide which of those titles we'll purchase for the collection?  We have several sources, but Publishers Weekly (PW) is one of my personal favorites.  PW reviews around 9,000 books a year. 

    For this month's post, I've taken the liberty of going through the July issues of Publishers Weekly (PW) and sharing the upcoming releases their reviewers are most excited about.  Each of these titles received a starred review.  We don't have all of these titles in the collection yet -- most are due to hit the shelves in bookstores and libraries next month -- but you can place a hold on your copy now.  Or, if you're like me, and you're typically at the 5 holds per person max, you can keep tabs on your picks a couple of ways.

    My favorite way to keep track of books I want to read is through ACPL's catalog.  Heather wrote an excellent post on how to do this -- click here for the details.  Goodreads and LibraryThing are also options.

    Do any of these titles catch your eye? I'm mostly a fiction reader but the titles that really caught my attention this time around are nonfiction:  The Dinosaur Artist, How To Invent Everything, and We Fed An Island.

    General Fiction coming to the collection August 2018

    The Golden State  The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock  The Rain Watcher
     Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen  My Struggle  Unsheltered
     The Governesses  Waiting for Eden  The Clockmakers Daughter


    Sunrise Highway   Little Comfort City of Ink 
     The Devils Wind  Nameless Serenade  Wild Fire
     Idyll Hands  Death at Sea  The Man Who Came Uptown
     Depth of Winter  Solemn Graves  Big Sister
     Holy Ghost  The Accident on the A35  I Know You Know

    Science Fiction/Fantasy

    The Spaceship Next Door  Dreadful Company  The Fated Sky
     Bloody Rose  The Sisters of the Winter Wood  An Easy Death


    The Paris Seamstress    



    Nonfiction coming to the collection August 2018

    Wasteland  The Dinosaur Artist  The New Essentials Cookbook
     Bing Crosby  The Last Palace  The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters
     How to Invent Everything  We Fed An Island  The King and the Catholics
     Betty Ford  Its What I Do  Palaces for the People
     Solo  Quintessential Filipino Cooking  A Mind Unraveled
     Road to Disaster  Book Girl  Seeing Green
     Beastie Boys Book  The Big Fella  Leadership in Turbulent Times
     Rush  Football for a Buck  Twisting Fate

    Becky CBecky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her favorite books are The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz and The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman..
    by Emily M | Aug 17, 2018

    If you've been enjoying free audiobooks and music through Hoopla's website or app, there is now a brand new way to listen!  Amazon's Alexa can play Hoopla audiobooks and music on the Amazon Echo, Dot, Spot, and Show devices.  You will still need to visit the Hoopla website or app to check out new materials, but Alexa can provide information on what titles you have checked out and play your Hoopla music and audiobooks.

    If you've never tried Hoopla, now is a great time!  Hoopla allows digital downloads of movies, ebooks, audiobooks, and music.  All you need is an email address and your library card number to set up an account on Hoopla's website or app.

    Check out Alexa and Hoopla in action together below!

    EmilyLong before becoming a librarian, Emily was an avid library patron. She enjoys reading fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, biographies, and classic children’s literature. Her favorite book is Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.


    by Kay S | Aug 15, 2018
    Yes, it's time for a few fiction upcoming releases coming to a library near you! These are not everything that is coming out - there just wouldn't be enough space for that. Hopefully some of these may be of interest to you.

    Historical Romance
     Tessa Dare Tessa Dare
    The Governess Game
    Girl Meets Duke series
    August 28
     Lorraine Heath Lorraine Heath
    When a Duke Loves a Woman
    Sins for All Seasons series
    August 21
     Sophia Jordan Sophie Jordan
    The Duke Buys a Bride
    The Rogue Files series
    July 24 - Yes, I missed it last month!
     caroline linden Caroline Linden
    An Earl Like You:
    The Wagers of Sin
    August 28

    Historical Fiction

     Pat Barker Pat Barker
    The Silence of the Girls
    August 30/September 11
     Kate Furnivall Kate Furnivall
    The Survivors
    September 6
     Douglas Jackson Douglas Jackson
    Hammer of Rome
    Gaius Valerius Verrens series
    September 6
     Andrew Miller Andrew Miller
    Now We Shall Be Entirely Free
    August 23

    Contemporary Romance/Mainstream/Women's Fiction/New Adult

     kenji jasper Kenji Jasper
    Nostrand Avenue
    Mainstream Fiction/suspense
    August 28 
     Beverly Jenkins Beverly Jenkins

    Second Time Sweeter
    Blessings series
    Contemporary romance
    August 28
     Christina Lauren Christina Lauren
    Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating
     Sharon Sala Sharon Sala
    Come Back to Me
    Blessings Georgia series
    August 28
     Tiffany Warren Tiffany L Warren
    The Outside Child
    Mainstream fiction
    August 28
     Carl Weber Carl Weber  
    Mainstream fiction
    August 28

    Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Romantic Suspense

    Nancy Bush  Nancy Bush
    August 28
     Vivien Chien Vivien Chien
     Dim Sum of All Fears
    Noodle Shop Mystery series
    August 28
     JT Ellison J. T. Ellison
    Tear Me Apart
    Sequel to Lie to Me
    August 28
     steve hamilton Steve Hamilton
    Dead Man Running
    Alex McKnight series
    August 21
     edwin hill Edwin Hill
    Little Comfort
    Hester Thursby Mystery series
    August 28
     sofie kelly Sofie Kelly
    The Cats Came Back
    Magical Cats Mystery series
    September 4
     Ward Larsen Ward Larsen
    Assassin's Run
    David Slaton series
    August 21
     karin slaughter Karin Slaughter
     Pieces of Her
    August 21

    Paranormal/Paranormal Romance/Science Fiction/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy/Horror

     Ilona Andrews Ilona Andrews
    Magic Triumphs
    Kate Daniels series
    Urban Fantasy
    August 28
     robert Jackson bennett Robert Jackson Bennett
    Founders series
    August 21
     FG Cottam F. G. Cottam
    The Lucifer Chord
    September 1
     john alvide lindqvist John Aivide Lindqvist
    I Am Behind You
    Platerna series
    August 23

    Young Adult/Teens

     Elly Blake Elly Blake
    Frostblood Saga series
    August 21 
     Fischer Nancy Richardson Fischer
    When Elephants Fly
    September 4
     abbi glines Abbi Glines
    Losing the Field
    Field Party series
    August 21
     morgan rice Morgan Rice
    A Crown for Assassins
    Throne for Sisters series
    August 21

    Inspirational Romance/Mainstream Fiction

     colleen coble Colleen Coble
    Freedom's Light
    September 11
     roseanna white Roseanna M White
    An Hour Unspent
    Shadows Over England series
    September 4
     cindy woodsmall Cindy Woodsmall
    As the Tide Comes In
    August 21

    kayKay is an avid reader of historical romance books, maybe with a little trip into paranormal land and an occasional journey into mystery world.
    by Craig B | Aug 13, 2018

    cover selection from film, AdaptationBook Review: Alison Lurie's winner of the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Foreign Affairs

    The pun in Alison Lurie’s title of her 1985 Pulitzer Prize winner, Foreign Affairs, seems acceptable mostly because the rest of the book is restrained and full of insightful, character-driven complexities.  For example, “Is Fred Turner likeable?”  I mean, he seems like a nice guy, but then, it’s easy to be nice when no one has ever really told you “No.”  Also, there’s, “Vinnie Miner is a kleptomaniac.”  Yet we seem to be expected to sympathize with her.  Is that ok?  Perhaps I’m the victim of a gross misreading of the text (a bit like the time I misunderstood the point of The Graduate, thank you 500 Days of Summer), but I think we are supposed to sympathize with Vinnie … and her dog … at least, if we’re not, that’s a lot of pages to dedicate to a character that, well, I mean, is this The House of Yes, here?  At least we can say this about Vinnie; she doesn’t seem to steal from friends, just corporations, which, though they can often have a hard row to hoe are at least faceless.

    Speaking of faces, I was struck by the similarities between Alison Lurie and the character Vinnie Miner.  They share an interest in the teaching and writing of children’s literature as well as being immersed in academia.  Considering the kleptomaniac aspect, let’s hope that’s where the similarities stop, but of course that detail offers another chance for an “insightful complexity.”  Is my worry that Lurie is a kleptomaniac (and should never visit my home!) because she wrote herself into a kleptomaniac character actually an overinflated concern with dividing fiction from reality?  Aren’t all stories fiction on some level?  What I mean is that even if Lurie were to write her autobiography we would probably do well to take it with a grain of salt.  It’s probably been dramatized.  She’s human after all and we all remember things differently than others on a regular basis.  Who is to be believed?  And do we really want completely believable elements in our stories?  Most of our lives probably don’t feel as if they were scripted by Spielberg (though Lurie’s life might feel more that way than others).   Often, it’s more like our lives are scripted by Kaufman, and only the first 30 minutes of Adaptation.  Yup, the boring part.  And yet, if we look closely at our non-Spielberg lives (and the first 30 minutes of Adaptation) I feel certain we can learn something.  Or make something up.  Novelists have been doing it for years.


    Craig B author Craig B is a thirty-something lover of books, movies, and rock and roll whose grandmother still worries that he might not be eating enough. (Love you, Grandma!) He lives with his charming wife in the small town of Berne, IN (in sight of the clock tower) where he busies himself keeping the Roses of Sharon in check and training his chinchilla in the ancient arts of the Ninja. Craig’s current favorite book is Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann.
    by Kayla W | Aug 10, 2018
    Movie Recommendation: Paprika

    ...the Internet and dreams are similar. They're areas where the repressed conscious mind escapes.  – Dr. Chiba



    Satoshi Kon is the late-great master of the imaginative. Through his body of work, it is apparent that the artist just as equally possessed the ability to bring across this sense of a stark, unfeeling reality, as well as never failing to show a staggering amount of well-honed creativity. I believe that Kon deserves to be remembered in the same breath as Haruki Murakami or Neil Gaiman, where the abnormal is treated as passé and what’s “normal” is treated as exotic. He was an artist that held a sense of underlying humanity – one that was prone to flights of the imaginative and some truly moving instances of empathy - which was, nevertheless, sometimes tempered by a shocking ruthlessness. To me, he could, like so many creators who are lauded as being ahead of their time, peer into some strange vision of the future. This is a trait he shares with some of his personal influences, such as Philip K. Dick and Terry Gilliam. He also happened to be one of those rare and thankfully more than talented enough artists who are not afraid to acknowledge the fourth wall separating fiction from reality - his characters from their audience - but was skilled in breaking it, as shown in his late work, Opus.

    On a personal note, this artist's widely differing and truly fantastic body of work is a lofty goal I aspire to one day live up to creating my own version of. Probably sounds silly, coming from someone with unfinished manuscripts to be comparing themselves to a master, but he is truly one of the great creators whom I am profoundly influenced by.

    To Kon, genre was a set of tropes and tools that he used freely and without any restraint, save for the choice of what is the absolute best one to use in that moment. As an audience member, his work will have you switching effortlessly and in a sophisticated manner between, say, the heavy feels of Millennium Actress to the nail-biting tension in the short film Magnetic Rose. Kon's work is still sometimes unbelievably hard to find (where are you in print, Paranoia Agent and Perfect Blue?), but all of his movies, books, as well as his single television series, are more than exceedingly worthy of being hunted for. I don't mean to bum you out unnecessarily. A good deal of his work is still in print, and I don't foresee a future where all of his work is going to wither into obscurity.

    I can comfortably say that if Kon could have chosen something to do the proverbial mic drop on, he could have done a lot worse than this film. Paprika is a thesis statement to what were his obsessions as a creator, a volatile but somehow immaculate tempering of childlike wonder with chilling, abruptly shocking coldness, as well as a flagrant disregard for a supposed line between reality and imagination. It’s magical realism with a heavy kick to the abdomen of “realism”.  

    Paprika is bright, colorful, and demented one moment, then moody, slow, and emotional the next. It's intelligent, engaging, and is astoundingly "mature", in the sense that it requires the full engagement of its audience and rewards it. The film is the work of a master at the height of his ability, one with a deep and profound understanding of pacing, mood, and the knowledge of just how far to push boundaries. Kon (and I would be remiss to not also cite the legendary Madhouse animation studio who crafted it) took what I can best describe as a proto Inception story (but better) and with a lot of the moody noir reminiscent of Blade Runner, injecting it with personality and color to spare.

    It’s an experience, like all of his filmography, that truly must be seen to give justice to it, but the plot could best be summarized as followed:

    A team of research psychologists use a special, prototype technology which enables them to interact with patients through dreams. Following me on this?

    One of these experimental psychologists, Dr. Chiba, illegally uses a "borrowed" set of the device in order to provide therapy to clients. During these deep dives into their subconscious, she takes on the persona of Paprika in her clients' dreams, transforming her into a carefree, younger woman. As Paprika, Dr. Chiba is able to identify what her clients’ deeply embedded problems are, and for a while things are great. However, although the doctor has good intentions by using the device she sneaks out in order to perform this therapy, there are terrible consequences when one device is stolen by a thief who uses the still prototypical interface to hack into people’s dreams: including the clients that Dr. Chiba had been trying to help.

    The film becomes a unique mix of noir thriller, magical realism, and psychological science fiction, full of beautiful and compelling concepts that can make something as silly as a parade seem uncontrollably sinister, and presents many things which are not what they first appear – and require multiple movie viewings to truly grasp the reality of.

    Although it is based off of a book, I haven’t had the chance to read it myself, so I cannot attest to its quality in comparison to the movie that it became the basis for. What I can vouch for is that this is a truly great film that is more than worth your time.  And if you ever happen to find his short movie collection, Memories, watch it immediately.

    Kayla loves all things weird, wonderful, and macabre.  Her soul’s in writing, and her hobbies include gaming, watching movies and television shows, reading anything and everything. Her black cat’s TOTALLY, 100%, not evil.

    by Mindy L | Aug 08, 2018

    Some books sit on your nightstand for weeks as you read a little bit each night. These are not those books.

    The High Tide Club by Mary Kay Andrews

    The High Tide ClubNinety-nine-year-old heiress Josephine Bettendorf Warrick summons attorney Brooke Trappnell to Talisa Island.  Over a few meetings, the ailing Josephine spins a tale of old friendships, secrets, betrayal, and a long-unsolved murder. She wants Brooke to help save her island from developers -- and to find her three best friends from her youth so that she can make amends to them.

    This is a much darker book than many of Andrews' others. It reads well and the characters are interesting and well-drawn. Several times the Kleenexes were needed.

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    Fiction Can Be Murder by Becky Clark

    Fiction Can Be MurderMystery author Charlemagne "Charlee" Russo thinks the twisty plots and peculiar murders in her books are only the product of her imagination - until her agent is found dead exactly as described in Charlee's new, unpublished manuscript. Naturally Charlee becomes the prime suspect. Mostly a cozy with a bit of grit, this is a nice quick read for a summer evening.

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    Medusa Uploaded
    by Emily Devenport

    Medusa UploadedA fast-paced science fiction thriller about the limits of power and control, and the knife-edge distinction between killing for revenge or for a greater good.  Oichi’s voice is exceptional -- it's conversational, funny, and tragic. She, along with the Executives and the servants, has to overcome inherent bias to uncover the devastating plot that could destroy their starship.

    I'm looking forward to the next book in the series!

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    Crime & Punctuation
    by Kaitlyn Dunnett

    Crime and PunctuationMikki Lincoln, newly widowed, moves back to her childhood home (now a fixer-upper), and becomes a freelance editor. Lenape Hollow is not the thriving tourist destination it was decades ago. Not with a murderer on the loose . . .

    Murder, conspiracies, and editing. Mikki’s a fun character, not a gauche 25 year-old. She’s tough and funny and works hard to find out who dunnit.  I look forward to more in the series.

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    In the Valley of the Devil
    by Hank Early 

    In the Valley of the DevilI don’t usually post reviews of books I didn’t like but I'm going to make an exception here.  The first book in the series, Heaven's Crooked Finger, was hard to put down. Racism, religion, romance, mysticism, family drama:  it had it all and I was really looking forward to the sequel.

    Those same ingredients are still in the mix in the sequel but somehow nothing jelled this time.  I found myself getting progressively annoyed with the main character, Earl Marcus. How many times do you have to make the same mistake -- how many times do you have to get beat up, cut up, or shot, before you get a clue? I think the author may have been under pressure to get the second book out. The whole book was basically a fugue of the same thing happening to Earl. Over and over.

    Maybe the third book will get the bugs worked out (I am usually willing to give the author a second or third chance).

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    *Cat emoji images via freepik

    Another month, another cat pic:  Ursula aka VOC (very old cat) is taking a nap.  She's over 20 years old.


    Mindy works at the Little Turtle branch.  She's a cat lady, an avid reader, and an old boomer.

    by Evan | Aug 03, 2018
    Bloody ShirtSometimes I read books because I should read them, even if I don't immediately want to. They're like eating unseasoned vegetables -- nourishing but possibly bitter. Still, I do feel enriched after finishing them, and before long I will choose another one.

    The broccoli in my CD player this month is The Bloody Shirt: Terror after Appomattox by Stephen Budiansky. Actually, it's a pretty interesting read, but the subject matter -- how the Ku Klux Klan and its supporters won the peace after the Civil War -- is so dispiriting that I have to take it in doses.

    Most of the book tells the stories of several individuals who tried to make Reconstruction work -- tried to give black Americans equal rights in the South. They displayed a lot of courage, but it turned out the Confederacy was not the only Lost Cause.

    Racism pervades time and space in our country. (In fact, we are getting a new book about how black settlers were abused in Indiana and the rest of the Old Northwest. The title of Anna-Lisa Cox's work is The Bone and Sinew of the Land: America's Forgotten Black Pioneers and the Struggle for Equality.) But powerful 19th century Southern whites celebrated their racism, made it the bedrock of their society -- and millions of people have suffered accordingly. 

    One of the buzz terms in my own social circles is "white privilege." It's a bitter morsel indeed -- hard for a lot of people to swallow in today's time of supposed equal opportunity. But when you work through something like The Bloody Shirt, you can see how racism is down but not out. 

    Anyway, reading for fun is great stuff, but I hope people will also use the library to read about the problems of our world -- be they social, moral, environmental or otherwise. Hey, a few months ago I even listened to the autobiography of a politician for whom I had no love. I still don't love him very much, but at least I can better understand him.

    EvanEvan - Married, three children, two grandchildren, formerly a newspaper journalist, now a public librarian, at all times a board game nut.
    by Craig B | Aug 01, 2018

    cover for Bebe Rexha's album, ExpectationsThis debut album, Expectations, from Rexha has some delightful self-discountenancing / awareness (such as these lines from "I’m a Mess," “Everything's gonna be alright / Everything's gonna be OK / It's gonna be a good, good life / That's what my therapist say”) and Rexha did kind of break my heart with "Grace" (pun intended; listen to the song, it will all come clear) near the end of the album, but I wish I could have squared some of the lyrics from that song with the song following it, "Pillow."  I mean, if you’re lonely and hugging your ‘pillow’ maybe you should have stuck with that near perfect guy from "Grac …" ahh, I don’t know.  We’re all a bit of a mess aren’t we?

    Suggested Use: Need some music to help you get back up to speed on “adult-ing” in your day-to-day life?  The pop lightheartedness of Rexha’s album combined with its semi-world-weary outlook typical of many in their late 20’s should help get you out of bed, schedule that dentist appointment, and/or budget the increase in your monthly commitment to your 401(k) you’ve been putting off.  I know, it’s tough to make good on the promised freedoms of adulthood when you realize most of what your parents spent their time doing involved checking boxes on organizational forms, but it will all seem a little better after a track or two from Expectations and that first cup of coffee, I promise.  If not, if I’m wrong, I do apologize for promoting a misshapen set of “expectations.”

    craig Craig B is a thirty-something lover of books, movies, and rock and roll whose grandmother still worries that he might not be eating enough. (Love you, Grandma!) He lives with his charming wife in the small town of Berne, IN (in sight of the clock tower) where he busies himself keeping the Roses of Sharon in check and training his chinchilla in the ancient arts of the Ninja. Craig’s current favorite book is Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann.
    by Becky C | Jul 30, 2018
    One of my favorite types of questions at the reference desk involves investigating what book a person is looking for when they only remember a few details -- the type of book, a general outline, maybe a character's name.  Cover details can also be helpful.  Between the wealth of online resources available, the fact that I personally read a lot, and the fact that I'm acquainted with a lot of people who read a lot, it's rare to not be able to match the remembered details to the book.  It's not always a fast discovery -- the fewer the details, the longer it tends to take.  There are instances, however, when even a wealth of remembered details do not lead to an immediate answer.  

    Recently, I decided to put my readers' advisory skills to the test.  There are a few books that I read as a teenager back in the 1980s that I remember better than books I read just last year.  I'm not referring to the required reading in English class, either, although I can still feel my heart's reaction to the The Pigman by Paul Zindel.  I'm referring to the mass market paperbacks that I could typically finish in an afternoon. 

    One book I remember particularly well was about a girl named Marnie and a boy named Lucas.  While their parents were friends, they were not.  When the story began, they lived in a city.  Then, both sets of parents decided that it would be best to move to the country, together.  They buy a farm and share a house.  Marnie is devastated -- at first.  But somewhere along the way, she discovers that she has feelings for Lucas.  Given their prior antagonistic relationship, this is awkward.  She pretends to knit a sweater for herself, but deliberately sizes it to him, so that the obvious thing to do is to give it to him.

    That's a fair amount of detail, right?  I even vaguely remembered the cover of the book -- I remembered that the girl was a brunette and the guy was blond.  But I could not remember the title or the author.  So, I approached it the way I would any other question like this one.  I first tried keyword searches -- many library and bookstore records include basic summaries.  No luck. No luck with NoveList either.

    Next, I turned to my good friend, Google.  I began with a Google image search for 1980s "teen romance" "book covers"; I saw many covers I remembered, but not the one I was looking for.  I created a keyword search for "1980s teen romance fiction" and received several results.  Goodreads has a Teen Romance of the 1980s list and I scanned it first.  I clicked a few titles that seemed promising but didn't find a match.  If I had scanned the Goodreads list for Out of Print '80s Teen Series, I would have found my book, but I passed that list by -- and I'm glad I did.  Why?  Because my longer search led me to discover an amazing blog called Cliquey Pizza.  It hasn't been updated since 2014, but its posts live on, and if you are interested in teen fiction from the 1980s, it's a treasure trove of information.  The blogger evidently loved teen fiction and wrote a series of detailed posts focusing on the popular series from that decade. 

    While scrolling down a  post published on February 5, 2010, titled 80's Wildfire Teen Romances, I saw it.  The cover featured a blond guy in a flannel shirt with his arms around a brunette in a country-western shirt.  I remember wishing that guy would enroll in my high school -- and since I'm a brunette, it was easy to picture myself as the girl on the cover. And, if there was any doubt that this was The One, it was erased the minute I read the description the blogger had included:  

    An April Love StoryToday,” My father announced, “I bought a farm in North Carolina. We’re leaving the city, Marnie.  We’re going back to the land.” Back to the land?  Leaving the city? Marnie Macdonald can’t believe her ears, her parents must be kidding. Worse, they’re going with the Petersons…sharing a house with them. And Marnie can’t stand their son Lucas. At first. But by April, when the MacDonalds and Peterson’s have lived and worked together for almost a year, Marnie finds herself head-over-heels in love with Lucas! Now if Lucas would only notice.

    The book in question is An April Love Story by Caroline B. Cooney.  We don't have a print copy in the system but it's available online via Hoopla.  Like my teenage self, I read it in an afternoon, and I'm pleased to say that it has stood the test of time.  I loved it then and I love it now. 

    What about you?  Are there books you have fond memories of but you just can't recall the title or the author?

    Becky CBecky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her favorite books are The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz and The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman..
    by Becky C | Jul 27, 2018
    Ever wonder what library staff like to read?  Wonder no more!  Here's a quick look at some books we've enjoyed this month.  Click on a book cover to read a summary and check availability — it’s as easy as that!

    General Fiction
    How to Walk Away  Florida   How to Paint a Dead Man
     One Less Problem Without You  The Ninth Hour  House Rules
     The Chilbury Ladies Choir  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society  Frankenstein
     The Goldfinch  Tell the Machine Goodnight  

    The Outsider    


     End Game Ill Will   The Woman in the Window
     A Taste for Vengeance  The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie  

    In His Hands  Love and Other Words  

    Science Fiction/Fantasy

    The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy  Ashes  Persepolis Rising
     Ka  Ivory and Bone  Mistborn
     All Systems Red  Artificial Condition  

    Young Adult
    The Poet X Children of Blood and Bone   My Plain Jane


    Adventure According to Humphrey  Paddington Bear in the Garden   

    Graphic Novels
    My Boyfriend Is A Bear  Nimona   

    Want more recommendations?  Click here for previous What We're Reading posts. 

    Please let us know what books you've been reading that you've really enjoyed.  We're always looking for our next great read!

    Becky CBecky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her favorite books are The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz and The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman..
    by Becky C | Jul 27, 2018
    Ever wonder what library staff like to read?  Wonder no more!  Here's a quick look at some books we've enjoyed this month.  Click on a book cover to read a summary and check availability — it’s as easy as that!

     Best Cook in the World  The Boys in the Boat  Look Alive Out There
     Midnight in Peking  The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything  How to Change Your Mind
     Spook  The Order of Time  Calypso
       The Glass Castle  

    Want more recommendations?  Click here for previous What We're Reading posts. 

    Please let us know what books you've been reading that you've really enjoyed.  We're always looking for our next great read!

    Becky CBecky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her favorite books are The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz and The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman..
    by Emily M | Jul 25, 2018

    Looking for a book recommendation?  Look no further!  Here are a few good books I've enjoyed lately...

    lifeafterlifeLife After Life by Kate Atkinson

    In February of 1910 a woman goes into labor.  The doctor is unable to get through the raging snowstorm and she is attended only by a 14-year-old kitchen maid with no experience assisting in childbirth.  The umbilical cord wraps around the baby’s neck and the baby dies. 

    No, wait.  Let’s try again. 

    In February of 1910 a woman goes into labor.  Despite a raging snowstorm the doctor arrives just in time to cut the umbilical cord from around the baby’s neck.  Little Ursula Todd will live.  So begins the story of what could have been and what could be. 

    Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life is a fascinating and unusual story.  Have you ever wondered how different your life would have been if just one variable had been different?  Have you ever wondered how all of human history may have been different due to just one small change? Life After Life explores these questions through the life of Ursula Todd, born in 1910 to an upper-middle class family in Great Britain.  Over and over again, Atkinson starts Ursula’s story from the beginning.  First, she dies at birth.  Then, she survives her birth, only to drown in the sea.  Then, she survives a near drowning to fall off a roof.  Initially, it seems the author is exploring all the way Ursula could die, but the more one reads the more evident it becomes that the author is exploring all of the different lives Ursula could live. 

    The unusual format of this book is not for everyone.  You won’t find clear-cut answers and a definitive ending, but Life After Life has much to offer.  In addition to exploring all the different directions a life can go, it delves into the bonds of familial love and exposes the realities of life in Great Britain during World War I and World War II.


    sonsandsoldiersSons and Soldiers: The Untold Story of the Jews who Escaped the Nazis and Returned with the US Army to Fight Hitler by Bruce Henderson

    When Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933, it quickly became apparent to Jewish Germans that it would be best if they left the country.  Sons and Soldiers is the story of six young Jewish men who were lucky enough to escape Germany and make it to the United States.  When the United States entered World War II, they were understandably eager to join up and fight Hitler and the Nazis.  Initially rejected by the US army for their “enemy alien” status, these young men would eventually be drafted for non-combat duty, before being selected for a top-secret army intelligence program.  With their fluent German and intimate knowledge of German culture, they were the perfect candidates to be trained in the interrogation of German prisoners of war.  Following the stories of these six young men from childhood to the end of the war, Henderson’s narrative nonfiction is a gripping tale of six Jewish men who, against all odds, not only survived Hitler’s mass genocide, but played a key role in defeating him.


    callmeamericanCall Me American: A Memoir by Abdi Nor Iftin

    Call Me American is the story of an immigrant.  It is the story of a boy whose child- and young adult-hood were spent in a war zone.  It is the story of a teenager who fell in love with American movies and music, who idolized Michael Jackson and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and who taught himself English.  It is a story of a young man who refused the only two options available to young men in his city: become a Muslim sheikh or join the army.  It is the story of a brave man who made contact with a Western journalist and risked his life to share his story with NPR.  It is the story of a desperate refugee trying to gain entrance to the United States.  It is the story of a man who is supported by Americans who care about him, but is still struggling to adjust to a new country and culture.  Abdi’s story is fascinating and heart-breaking, and if you want to understand the political situation in Somalia, how it developed and why the violence persists, read this book.

    What about you?  What good books have you read lately?

    EmilyLong before becoming a librarian, Emily was an avid library patron. She enjoys reading fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, biographies, and classic children’s literature. Her favorite book is Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.


    by Kayla W | Jul 20, 2018

    Manga Recommendation: Princess Jellyfish

    Terrifyingly enough… there’s a male princess in Tokyo.  A strong, beautiful male princess. – Tsukimi Kurashita


    Princess Jellyfish


    Although it hurts my heart, because I will miss the adventures of the Amars, I am at the last (ninth) volume of this series. For anyone who’s read and has fallen in love with this manga, it’s an easy thing to understand. After all, it’s a great series that has a lighthearted tone and an actual ending that is within believable reaching distance (unlike so many that NEVER seem to end and outstay their welcome!).  

    Although I am sad to be getting ready to say good-bye, I was happy to spend my time with such an upbeat, adorable story. Especially one that features grown women who love who they are and aren’t ashamed of their hobbies and passions.

    This manga is a cute and strangely sober look at the minds of both shut-in fangirl culture as well as haute couture fashion.  It’s a dramedy about a house full of women united in their absolute devotion to their individual fandoms, hobbies, and bizarre behavior.

    It has a cast mostly made up of female characters who have chosen a self-exile to focus on their eccentricities and dreams. Calling themselves Amars (nuns), instead of living in squalor, or at the mercy of family members like spinsters of old, they have come together to live in an aging estate, which has become a communal gilded cage.  Together, they ignore an outside world that has shunned them (in real or imagined ways), with the occasional interaction that they have outside of the house literally turning them to stone when approached by people they’re unfamiliar with!  But, above all, they’re trying to do everything in their powers to avoid a potential run-in with the most dreaded class of people of all.

    The Stylish

    The youngest and most approachable of the Amars, Tsukimi, is much like her Amars’ sisters in most ways, with her own fixation resting almost entirely on jellyfish. Yes, jellyfish.  She draws them, daydreams of them, and retains fond memories of a mother she lost, the fondest of all memories being ones spent visiting an aquarium where she first became enamored with the unlikeliest of creatures. 

    Her life changes with a split decision Tsukimi makes in order to rescue a jellyfish that would otherwise die.  It leads to her teaming up with a Stylish.  It’s not long before she discovers that not only is this beautiful woman dead set on situating herself firmly into Tsukimi’s life (and that of the rest of the Amars’), but that she’s more than make-up and perfect clothing.  To be exact, “she” is a young man who loves to dress as a woman.

    The clash of values, culture, wealth, and identities leads to a fascinating story, with make-overs and rabid attempts to save the Amars’ home from being demolished, working in tandem with a journey through the invention of a new focus in Japanese fashion.  It’s… *Deep breath*   Jellyfish.  No, really.

    Although I usually enjoy a good romance plot (especially the stranger and less logical it seems), I must admit that, to me, the love triangle that this manga insists on centering on is actually by far the weakest aspect of the series’ story.  However, among a sea of truly eye-rolling romance plots in mangas, Princess Jellyfish comes off surprisingly clean and light, in comparison to its cliché-riddled competition. Where the manga truly shows how special it is, however, is with its gentle depiction of its characters, not only poking fun at their more absurd behavior and fixations, but offering reasons why they do what they do and showing how they’re more than capable of overcoming odds stacked against them in wonderful and inventive ways.

    Indeed, what ultimately elevates this story is how it playfully pokes at these damaged characters, taking genuine joy in revealing the – Princess or Prince – beneath the surface of every worthy character, the humor never turning into excuses to punch down on these people for their strangeness or supposed defects.  The “makeovers” seem to be more indicative of a physical manifestation of a deeper possible change, a potential that’s there, if only it can be grasped. And I think that’s beautiful.

    A true disappointment is that the short-lived anime series based off of the manga was ultimately cancelled really early in the series’ story arc.  I believe it is still worth watching – the comedic timing and all of the heart of the manga is there, even though it was cancelled after a pretty big cliff hanger.  One thing I am hopeful for is that the next brand-spankin-new series that Higashimura has made, Tokyo Tarareba Girls, will offer a lot of the same heart and humor that this one has in spades.

    Kayla loves all things weird, wonderful, and macabre.  Her soul’s in writing, and her hobbies include gaming, watching movies and television shows, reading anything and everything. Her black cat’s TOTALLY, 100%, not evil.

    by Craig B | Jul 18, 2018

    cover for William Kennedy's novel, IronweedBook Review: William Kennedy's winner of the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Ironweed

    Suicide is a recurring theme in William Kennedy’s novel, Ironweed, though Kennedy makes it clear from the very beginning, that his central metaphor of a flowering plant named for the “toughness of its stem” pretty much takes suicide off the table for his main character, Francis Phelan.  We begin following Phelan from just getting out of jail for accepting money to register to vote multiple times (21 in all) to a midnight raid on The Jungle; Albany, New York’s 1930’s hobo settlement.  In Francis Phelan, we are introduced to a complicated character that, despite his misdeeds, we mostly end up cheering on, though if I were in his daughter, Peg’s shoes, or even those of his son, Billy’s, I’m not sure I could.  But then, what has one to gain from unforgiveness when forgiveness could make a broken family whole again?  If only hindsight was more current!

    Speaking of which, the title of this post is not mine.  That first part is a cliché and the second part comes from Kennedy himself.  Kennedy’s phrase for me is a good example of the pith and vigor of his prose and the environment it brings to life (pun intended … keep reading you’ll see) with its inclusion of dreams, destitution, and actual ghosts (ha!).  Simultaneously hard-edged and fantastic, the story is often energized by the juxtaposition of terse language and composed, dreamy forays into the spiritual world, all to say, yeah, the man, Kennedy, can write.

    Kennedy’s life as writer began with a glowingly serendipitous event for all the bleakness of this novel.  Born in Albany, New York, he met his mentor-to-be, Saul Bellow, in, no, not New York, in Puerto Rico, and received encouragement to become a writer of novels.  I mean, speaking of fantasies, I’ve had one of sitting in Le Creuset in Nashville, making a profound impression on Nicole Kidman when she came in to buy some cast iron kitchen ware and receiving encouragement from that muse of many herself, but, as my friend pointed out, that would never happen.  Nicole would never visit Le Creuset; she has someone who does that kind of stuff for her.

    Anyway, this is a small novel (for which I was grateful) about a smallish place that looms large in my experience because of Kennedy’s artistry.  The novel, of course, reflects the world around it; a world small enough for Bellow to be met by a burgeoning writer in Puerto Rico, but a world also enlarged by the incorrigible serendipity of such an event.  Not to mention the ghosts.  I haven’t seen any lately but Kennedy’s novel is full of them which makes the 227 pager vast despite itself.  A world full of the dead begets infinity, I mean, because, well, they got all the eyes.


    Craig B author Craig B is a thirty-something lover of books, movies, and rock and roll whose grandmother still worries that he might not be eating enough. (Love you, Grandma!) He lives with his charming wife in the small town of Berne, IN (in sight of the clock tower) where he busies himself keeping the Roses of Sharon in check and training his chinchilla in the ancient arts of the Ninja. Craig’s current favorite book is Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann.