The Library in Spring.

So spring took a little longer getting here this year. But now that’s it’s here – for good this time-  it’s time to get busy. The library has lots of resources to help you shake off the winter cold and dive into spring.

Perhaps you’re thinking about repairing or expanding a deck, or adding a pool? Maybe you want to take the family on a road trip across Indiana or embark on a Hoosier-themed foody adventure. Maybe your spring cleaning resulted in the uncovering of some old family photos and you’d like to learn how to preserve and share them.  

The library has you covered for all these and much more! Stop in and ask how we can help make your spring more productive, informative, active, and fun.


Jo’s Picks for April

Image of item Daddy’s Gone a Hunting by Mary Higgins Clark, and Protector by C. J. Cherryh are also new arrivals..  Other new books by Nora Roberts, James Patterson, and Kristin Hannah will also be arriving.  
If you haven’t read a John Grisham novel then you have missed some great reading.  Grisham writes fascinating legal thrillers.   Grisham practiced law for several years, but gave up his practice after the success of his second novel The Firm which was a bestseller.  He has written some twenty-five novels and many of them have been made into successful movies.  His novels include The Pelican Brief, The Rainmaker, and A Time to Kill.  I have read several of his books and also have enjoyed Skipping Christmas and Playing for Pizza which are not thrillers.  Checkout Grisham and enjoy a master of the legal genre.

Mysteries for March

March is a great month for mysteries.  It is still cold enough to want to stay indoors and snuggle up with a good “cozy” mystery.  Mysteries intrigue the reader as they become more and more engrossed in the story and try to solve the “whodunit” which is what makes reading mysteries so enjoyable.   

My first experience with mysteries was the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew and at an early age I was hooked.  I love a good mystery and pride myself on being able to solve them way before the final chapter.    There are several different types of mysteries such as the caper, the hard boiled, police procedurals, legal/medical, private eye, historical and the sleuths.  If you want to read a mystery series checkout Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum mysteries, James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux mysteries or Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swenson mysteries which also contains recipes since she is a bakery-owning amateur.  Whether you like your mysteries on the light side or hard boiled you will find excitement awaits you as you try to solve the crimes!


Watch for these New Books this Season

If you have “cabin fever” you will enjoy the new books coming out. Books by Lisa Kleypas and J.D. Robb should please their readers. Kleypas’s book Crystal Cove continues the Friday Harbor series and Robb’s book Calculated In Death continues the In Death series. So both romance readers and mystery readers should enjoy these. Other new books are The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult once again Picoult writes about a dilemma when an old man asks Sage Singer to kill him and tells her of the heinous crime he has committed. Sage is faced with the decision of whether someone can ever redeem themselves or do they deserve to die. This will be a fascinating can’t-put-down read.

Other new books include The First Prophet by Kay Hooper, The Black Box by Michael Connelly, and Touch and Go by Lisa Gardner. So make some hot chocolate and light the fire and settle down with a good book. Enjoy the “wintery” evenings.

Check our catalog for these new and soon-to-be published books to ensure you’re the first to get a copy!

A Real Life Game of Thrones

A fascinating story out of Britain today: the remains of the last Plantagenet king, Richard III, have been identified after being discovered under a municipal parking lot. Richard was killed in battle against Henry Tudor (subsequently known at King Henry VII) and the whereabouts of his body remained a mystery for several hundred years. The death of Richard, and the marriage of Henry to Elizabeth of York (who, trivia buffs, was a daughter, sister, niece, wife and mother to various kings of England) ended the War of the Roses.

There’s a reason why George R.R. Martin cites the War of the Roses as inspiration for his epic fantasy A Song of Ice and Fire – the political intrigue and positively dysfunctional dynamics of the Plantagenet family are legendary. They are also marvelous source material for contemporary authors of historical fiction.

And no one is doing historical fiction better right now than Hilary Mantel, the two time Booker Prize winning author. She struck gold first with Wolf Hall, a novel about Henry VIII, his marriage to Anne Boleyn and his failing out with Sir Thomas More, all told from the perspective of one of Henry’s principle advisers, Thomas Cromwell. Mantel presents Henry as an almost sympathetic character, no small feat considering his popular image as a lustful, obese consumer of roasted turkey legs.

Last year, a  sequel called Bring Up the Bodies was released to widespread acclaim. It tells the story of Anne’s downfall and execution and Henry’s match with Jane Seymour.  A third novel, chronicling Cromwell’s own fall from grace and subsequent execution is planned for the future.

Following close behind Martel is Ken Folltet who has authored two novels featuring medieval English politics. The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End are set in a fictional town called Kingsbridge and closely follow various English royalty including the Empress Maud, Henry II and his “troublesome priest” Thomas Beckett. Pillars of the Earth has also been made into a TV miniseries.

Finally, Sharon Kay Penman has a stand alone novel – The Sunne in Splendour – about Richard III, whom she casts in a good light. She also has a great series featuring Henry II and his queen Eleanor of Aquitaine starting with the novel When Christ and His Saints Slept.

Jo’s January Picks

If you’re in the mood for a little western fun then Linda Lael Miller is a “must read” author. Her contemporary western fiction includes some of the best romance series that can be found. Known as “The First Lady of the West,” she is a New York Times bestselling author.  
If you haven’t read any of Linda Lael Miller’s books I am recommending her Montana Creed series about four brothers who find the women who can lasso their hearts. The first book in the series is Logan followed by Dylan, Tyler and Lincoln. Each story is a fun read and will have you turning the pages and staying up late to finish them. If you like this series you should also read her newest series titled Parable, Montana. The first book in the series is titled Big Sky Country followed by Big Sky Mountain and Big Sky River.   
Checkout Linda Lael Miller and enjoy an evening of western fun!

Hail to the Chief

Five living US presidents.

In just a few days, Barack Obama will be inaugurated for a second term as President of the United States. All politics aside, the peaceful and orderly investing of power (or in this case, the re-investing of power) that happens every four years is a big deal and worthy of celebration by conservatives, liberals and anything in between. Why not celebrate with a good movie or book?

The American President

The West Wing

My Fellow Americans

The president’s photographer: 50 years inside the Oval Office by John B. Bredar

The president’s house: a first daughter shares the history and secrets of the world’s most famous home by Margaret Truman

A White House garden cookbook: healthy ideas from the first family to your family by Cara Silverstein


Downton Abbey

It’s almost here, Anglophiles! Season 3 of Downton Abbey begins on Sunday January 6!
If you want to enhance your Downton experience or find a fix for those days when the suspense around Matthew and Lady Mary’s romance just isn’t enough, you might enjoy some of these titles.
Manor House – Reality television as done by PBS. One family gets to be the aristocrats. Everyone else is a servant. If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy others in this series like Colonial House, Frontier House and 1940s House.
Gosford Park – Surely you’ve seen this dazzling murder mystery, written by Julian Fellowes and starring Maggie Smith?

Lady Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence – Censored by the US government and not (legally) available here in all its naughty glory until 1959 (Wikipedia has a great run down on the legal fight to overturn the government’s censorship of the text, including the tantalizing threat of one US senator to read the steamy portions of the book aloud on the Senate floor),  DH Lawrence‘s tale of class conflict and smoldering sexuality in the post-World War One Britain is a classic.
Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones This recent novel from acclaimed British writer Sadie Jones mixes dry wit and dark humour.

Lady Almina and the real Downton Abbey: the lost legacy of Highclere Castle by the Countess of Carnarvon Take a look at the history of the majestic house used for the fictional Downton Abbey.
Fall of Giants by Ken Follett – Grand in size and scope, this 1000+ page novel chronicles the upheaval wrought by the First World War across Europe and the Americas.
The Time Machine by HG Wells I put this book on the list in a nod to the Dowager Countess. After electric lighting and a telephone are installed at Downton, the Dowager exasperatingly says   “Sometimes I feel as if I were living in an HG Wells novel.”
The American Heiress by Daisy Godwin A wealthy American named Cora marries into the British aristocracy near the turn of the 20th century. Sound familiar?


Short Stories and Novellas

Nobody ever says they want to write the great American short story. Or the great American novella. It’s the novel, always the novel. 

This is a shame. These literary forms – the short story and the novella – can be every bit as powerful and carry the same literary punch as their larger cousins. Furthermore, these forms are a great way to fit some reading into your busy schedule. Short stories are also good ways to explore genres or authors you’ve always wondered about but were never quite able to get around to.

Here are some suggestions if you don’t know where to start.  

The library recently acquired some new editions of Richard Russo’s short stories. These stories are bound individually and are easy to overlook in the stacks – they are so small! Thirty or forty short pages, you can knock one of these out in one sitting easily.

Still not sure about George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series? Check out his “Tales of Dunk and Egg”, set several years before the events of the novels.

Not ready to commit to an 800 page screamer by Stephen King? Try some of the stuff in Everything’s Eventual – a nice mix of horror and more literary stories.

Maybe you’d like to try an up-and-coming modern writer. Karen Russell’s St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised By Wolves is full of surrealist character driven stories. 

Finally, one of my favorite books – A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller – is actually three novellas combined into a single work, tying together in a grand epic.



Wolves, Hot Air Balloons and Gunpowder

Fifty years ago, long before the Lemony Snicket books were written, Joan Aiken published the first in her Wolves Chronicles series. Set in an alternate England where James III rules and wolves roam the countryside, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase has a wonderful combination of brave kids in danger, truly unpleasant adults, and slightly grim humor.

Although there are a few jokes that are funnier if you know something about English history, Aiken has really made a world that stands on its own. The main characters of the series, Simon, Sophie, and Dido, have to make their way through a dangerous world full of Hanoverian plots to overthrow the king, relatives plotting to steal fortunes, and even a few magical misunderstandings.

I first encountered the series when my grandparents gave me a copy of the third book, Nightbirds on Nantucket. It was one of the weirdest things I had ever read, and I loved it. Dido is not always perfect, but she is brave and always has a keen sense for when things are not right. I gradually read the whole series and they became some of my favorites.

I mentioned Lemony Snicket at the beginning of this post because I think that readers who like the Series of Unfortunate Events would like Joan Aiken’s books as well. They have a similar mix of plucky kids, villains and a wacky but wonderful world. Although they were written fifty years ago, the Wolves Chronicles have a timeless appeal, not just for kids but for readers of all ages.