Thursday, May 18, 2017

Great Crime Authors!

One of the best crime fiction writers out there right now is Jo Nesbo. Many critics have compared him to Stieg Larsson, but I think Nesbo is in a league of his own. His books are set in Oslo, Norway and follow Detective Harry Hole. When he was rising to fame, not many of his books had be translated into English so the first book I read was Redbreast (#3 in the series now). The series is up to eleven books now. I think they are all good but the one that really sucks you into the world of Harry Hole is Redbreast. 

If you are in the mood for an Irish setting, then Tana French is the author for you. She writes crime fiction that revolves around the Dublin Murder Squad and each book follows a different detective. There are six books in the series and she writes one about every two years. Start with In the Woods.

Another great but overlooked author is Tania Carver. She is the pseudonym of husband and wife team Martyn and Linda Waites. These crime novels are set in England and follow Detective Inspector Philip Brennan and psychologist Marina Esposito as they solve serial murders. This eight book series is not for the faint hearted because of graphic murder scenes, but they are fantastic at showing the points of view of both the killer and the police. You should read this series in order and start with The Surrogate. 

And finally, try crime novelist J.T. Ellison. She has two well-known series: Taylor Jackson is an Nashville detective introduced in All the Pretty Girls. The second series stars Tennessee medical examiner Samantha Owens, beginning with A Deeper Darkness. Read Jackson's story first because Owens first appears in the this series and you learn her back story.

So, consider reading one of these great crime won't be disappointed.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Best Kept Secrets

Have you ever just wanted to get away? Relax and have a do nothing day or better yet a do nothing week? sounds heavenly to me.

I thought I'd introduce you to a few books that have ideas of little known destinations that will lead to the relaxation you are looking for and other destinations that will be perfect if you crave adventure. Here are the destinations and a few tips you may want to consider when planning your next trip.

Last-Minute Travel Secrets: 121 Ingenious Tips to Endure Cramped Planes, Car Trouble, Awful Hotels, and Other Trips From Hell Last Minute Travel by Joey Green
This guide provides travelers with more than a hundred handy and unusual secrets to overcome obstacles and upgrade accommodations using common, easily found products. 

Make the Most of Your Time on Earth by Rough Guides
This is truly the ultimate inspirational guide for world travelers and those who dream of hitting the road. There are 1000 adventures with full color photos and brief summaries of each adventure.

Lonely Planet's Where To Go When: The Ultimate Trip Planner For Every Month of the Year by Lonely Planet
Have you ever wondered where to visit and what time of year to travel there? If you have this is the book for you. There are 12 chapters one for every month of the year and 30 detailed vacation locales for each month and all the information you need to plan your trip. Just want to dream about going away--this book will work for you as well.  

100 Places You Will Never Visit: The World's Most Secret Locations by Daniel Smith
The world is full of secret places that we either don't know about, or couldn't visit even if we wanted to. Now you can glimpse the Tora Bora Cave in Afghanistan, visit the Tower of London Jewel House, and see the Chapel of the Ark. This fascinating guide book takes a look at 100 places around the world that are either so hard to reach, closely guarded or so secret that they are virtually impossible to visit any other way. 

Hopefully if you choose to take a wonderful vacation far from home you can find tips and secrets that will help you enjoy a safe, relaxing getaway, and maybe save money as well. If you prefer a staycation these books are definitely for you. The pictures will make you feel like you were there. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

No Man's Land by Simon Tolkien

Back in 2016, we blogged (V1) & (V2) about some of the poets, mostly British, who wrote about, served in, and made the ultimate sacrifice during World War I. This month we are featuring more poets and authors who participated in WWI, including several Americans.  This is to highlight the new novel out by Simon Tolkien called No Man’s Land.  It is based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s experiences during the war, and he just happens to be the author's grandfather.  So, check out No Man’s Land and some of the works by these other great authors as well.

Richard Aldington (1892–1962) was an English writer and poet.  He was known best for his WWI poetry and the 1929 novel, Death of a Hero.  Aldington joined the British Army and was wounded on the Western Front. 

*Edmund Charles Blunden (1896–1974) was an English poet, author and critic. He wrote of his experiences in WWI in both verse and prose. He ended his career as Professor of Poetry at Oxford. He was nominated for the Nobel in Literature six times.

*Mary Borden (1886–1968) was an Anglo-American novelist and poet.  At the outbreak of WW1, she used her own money to run a French field hospital and served as a nurse. Her war poems were published in 2016 in: Poems of Love and War.

Louis Bromfield (1896–1956) was an American author and conservationist, born in Mansfield, OH.  He joined the Ambulance Corps in WWI and was awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Honor. He won the 1927 Pulitzer Prize for Early Autumn.

E. E. Cummings (1894-1962) was an American poet. In 1917, he enlisted in the Ambulance Corps.  Later, he was held for 3½ months in military detention on suspicion of espionage. Cummings used this experience for his novel, The Enormous Room

John Roderigo Dos Passos (1896–1970) was an American novelist. He was a member of the Ambulance Corps in Paris and in Italy, and later the Army Medical Corps. He published One Man's Initiation: 1917, followed by an antiwar story, “Three Soldiers”.

Ford Madox Ford (1873–1939) was an English novelist and poet.  In 1915, he joined the Army and was severely wounded by an exploding shell. He published war poetry and later wrote Parade’s End which is considered one of the greatest works of WWI literature.

Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) was an American author.  In WWI, he was an ambulance driver in Italy.  In 1918, he sustained severe wounds and received the Italian Silver Medal of Bravery. His experiences helped form his novel A Farewell to Arms.

*Joyce Kilmer (1886–1918) was an American journalist and writer, mainly remembered for his poem "Trees".  His "Rouge Bouquet" commemorated the deaths of 24 members of his regiment. He was killed by a sniper at the Second Battle of the Marne.

Thomas Edward Lawrence ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ (1888-1935) was a British diplomat and writer.  In the Army, he was sent to Arabia on a mission, where he played a key role in inciting the Arabs to revolt. Two months after leaving service, he was fatally injured in an accident. His major work is Seven Pillars of Wisdom, an account of his war experiences.

Clive Staples Lewis (1898–1963) was a British writer, academic, and Christian Apologist.  Joining the Army, he was wounded in France by shrapnel. WWI was a huge influence on his writings.  He is best known for The Chronicles of Narnia.

Archibald MacLeish (1892-1982) was an American author, poet and Librarian of Congress. He was an Army ambulance driver and artillery captain during WWI. He expressed his disillusion with war in his poem” Memorial Rain”, published in 1926.

Frederic Manning (1882–1935) was an Australian poet and novelist.  In 1915 he experienced action at the Battle of the Somme. In 1929 he published The Middle Parts of Fortune which has been described as the greatest novel of war ever written.

William Somerset Maugham (18741965) was a British writer. During WWI, he served with the ambulance corps, before being recruited into the Intelligence Service.  He used his spying experiences as the basis for Ashenden: Or the British Agent.

Erich Maria Remarque (1898-1970) was a German novelist who created many works about the terror of war. His best known is All Quiet on the Western Front.  During WWI, he volunteered for the Army and was wounded five times. Later, the Nazis burned his works, called him a traitor and murdered his sister.

*Alan Seeger (1888-1916) was an American poet.  He joined the French Foreign Legion and was killed at the Battle of the Somme, cheering on his fellow soldiers after being hit several times. The uncle of Pete Seeger, he is best known for the poem, “I Have a Rendezvous with Death”, a favorite of President John F. Kennedy.

*Robert William Service (1874–1958) was a British-Canadian poet and writer.  When WWI broke out; he worked as a stretcher bearer and ambulance driver. He wrote Rhymes of a Red Cross Man and dedicated it to his brother, who was killed in France.

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892-1973) was an English poet and writer who fought in the trenches during WWI.  He came down with trench fever and he spent the remainder of the war deemed medically unfit for service.  His war experiences influence his works. He is best known for The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

**Amos Niven Wilder (1895–1993) was an American poet, minister, and professor.  He volunteered in the Ambulance Corps and was awarded the Croix de Guerre. “Battle Retrospect” was a volume he wrote about WWI. His brother was Thornton Wilder.

*John Allan Wyeth (1894–1981) was an American poet.  He joined the Expeditionary Forces as a translator in 1917. His collection, “This Man’s Army”, was re-published in 2008 as part of Matthew Bruccoli's Great War Series of lost literary classics of WWI.

*= available through Search Ohio

**= available through OhioLink

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Escape from the Library - New Program & Locked-Room Mysteries

The Library is hosting a new program this month that I'm really excited to promote: Adults Breakout of the Library

The program is inspired by the Escape the Room subgenre of videogames. The premise is simple: a person or a group of people are locked in a room or building and are forced to find the means to escape by  solving clues. The first real life games, called breakout rooms, started appearing in Japan around 2006 and have increased in popularity ever since.

In the Library's program, which will have 3 scenarios to choose from, your team will have 45 minutes to decipher a series of riddles, piece together all the clues, and find the key to save the world. If you think you and a team of your friends or family have the skills needed to win, please register and give this a try!

The program is on Saturday, May 20th, 6p-8p. It is open to ages 16 and older, so you can bring the family if you have older teens. We recommend groups be anywhere from 4 to 8 people.  

Registration is required by filling out this form. We wanted to give people lots of options for registering so you can: 1) fill the form and email it back to us at, 2) drop it off at the Library next time you are in, or 3) give us a call at 937-433-8091 ext. 2 to have a staff member register you.

If this sounds intriguing and you want to read something in a similar vein, make sure to check out the subgenre of locked-room mysteries. These mysteries are essentially howdunits - in some of them, you even know who the killer or criminal is. The plot is primarily focused on  how a crime was perpetrated or how the perpetrator was able to evade detection. A few locked-room mysteries that I've enjoyed:

Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino
When a man about to leave his wife is found murdered and the wife has a too-convenient alibi that convinces a smitten lead detective of her innocence, Professor Manubu Yukawa is tapped by a concerned Kaoru Utsumi to solve a seemingly impossible case.

Camera Obscura by Lavie Tidhar
A puzzling murder inside a locked and bolted room on the Rue Morgue in Paris takes Lady De Winter, an agent for the Quiet Council, to the highest and lowest parts of the city, and causes her to question reality.

Midsummer Crown by Kate Sedley
As Richard of Gloucester begins his bid for the English crown in 1483, Roger investigates the disappearance of a young boy whose tutor has been found murdered in an apparently locked room.

Envious Casca by Georgette Heyer
A colorful assortment of guests at a festive holiday house party discover there is a killer in their midst when their universally reviled host is found dead-in a room locked from the inside.

Monday, May 1, 2017

May's In the Queue

Enjoy spring with some great new books from May's In the Queue!

Sycamore: A Novel by Bryn Chancellor 
A mesmerizing debut novel and coming of age story. When human remains are linked to an unsolved disappearance, resident of the town reminisce about the past and explore the forces that drive human nature.

The Switch by Joseph Finder
Michael Tanner pics up the wrong Mac Book at the TSA Security line. By the time he gets home and realizes his error it is too late. The laptop belongs to a U.S. Senator and has top secret documents on it. Unbeknownst to Tanner Senator Susan Robbins broke the law and uploaded  classified documents on her personal computer. If the documents wind up in the wrong hands it could be Snowden 2.0 and her political career over. Suddenly Tanner finds himself a hunted man, terrified for the safety of his family, in desperate need of a plan, and able to trust no one.

G-Man by Stephen Hunter
Charles Swagger finds a cache of his grandfather's hidden FBI memorabilia and vows to discover his grandfather's fate. As he works to uncover the truth he discovers someone wants the truth buried, and will do anything to keep it hidden.

Dying Breath by Heather Graham
Historian Vickie Preston first saw a ghost when she survived a brutal attack by a serial killer. Now authorities recruit her to help them track another serial killer with the aid of a victim's ghost. 

It's Always the Husband by Michele Martinez
A suspense novel written by a former New York City federal prosecutor depicts an increasingly troubled friendship among three former college roommates. Kate, Aubrey and Jenny were best friends in college. Twenty years later, one of them is standing on the edge of a bridge and another is urging her to jump. How did their friendship get here and can it lead to murder. 

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig
This is a quirky, charming, bighearted, and at times poignantly dark debut novel. Ginny is an autistic teen who has been adopted by a wonderful family, yet she longs to be with her baby sister, who remains in the care of her drug addicted mother. 

The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme C. Simsion
Despite his happiness, Adam Sharp wonders how different his life might have been if he hadn't let Angelina Brown, a strong willed actress, walk out of his life. When she calls unexpectedly, he wonders what she wants, and if he has the courage to find out. 

New Books by Best Selling Authors
Paradise Valley by C. J. Box
Matchup: The Battle of the Sexes Just Got Thrilling edited by Lee Child
Dangerous Minds by Janet Evanovich
The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand
You Will Pay by Lisa Jackson
Since We Fell: A Novel by Dennis Lehane
Murder Games by James Patterson
The Girl Who Knew Too Much by Amanda Quick
Use of Force by Brad Thor
Kiss Carlo by Adriana Trigiani
Indecent Exposure by Stuart Woods

Bill O'Reilly's Legends and Lies: The Civil War by David Fisher 
Bill O'Reilly's Legends and Lies shares lesser known stories about the civil war and its leading figures to debunk common myths and reveal forgotten factors.

Al Franken, Giant of the Senate by Al Franken
 The Harvard graduate, comedian, and U.S. Senator, chronicles the story of his unlikely campaign and details what his service has taught him about America's deeply polarized political culture.

Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002 by David Sedaris
An anthology of the author's favorite diary features excerpts that inspired his famed autobiographical essays and shares insights into the intimate areas of his life. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Spring Reading: Favorite Books that Remind Me of Spring

Have you ever read a book that encapsulated the feel of a particular season? 

Of course there are Halloween books or Christmas books that make you think of those holidays and the seasons they are associated with, but what about a random book that just seems to invoke a certain seasonal feeling? For example, Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring always reminds of me of a crisp, golden afternoon in early Autumn. Tolstoy's Anna Karenina makes me think of a grey snowy day in winter (even when at least half of that book is actually set in spring and summer). 

With the weather being as erratic as it has been this year, where it seems like we have moved from winter to a hot summer with very little in between, I have decided to make  a list of my favorite books that always remind me of actual spring: mild weather, misty rain, buds and flowers, new life and fresh beginnings.

Enchanted April1. The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim
This one feels like a bit of an obvious cheat, but really, no spring reading list can be complete without what is a quintessentially spring classic. The Enchanted April follows the lives of four English women as they decide to leave behind their dreary London routines and unhappy relationships and rent an Italian castle for the month of April. It's a lighthearted read with beautiful scenery descriptions, likable characters, and a dash of witty dialogue.  

Chalice2. Chalice by Robin McKinley
When the Master of Willowlands dies with no heirs, the king's youngest brother returns from the mysterious and mystic Priesthood of Fire to take up the role of ruler. Mirasol, a beekeeper in the province finds herself thrust into the role of Chalice, which is a mix of adviser to the ruler and emissary of the land itself. Mirasol must deal with a role that she was never prepared for, try to heal a land fractured by the previous ruler's tyranny and abuse, and learn to help a man who is no longer truly human and burns everything that he touches. This is one of my favorite fantasy books, more like a dreamlike fairy tale, with some beautiful writing and a hint of a Beauty & The Beast-esque romance.

3. The Bees by Laline Paul 
Follows the life of Flora 717, a lowly sanitation honeybee, who finds out that she is able to produce offspring which puts her in direct conflict with her hive's queen. I don't read a lot of anthropomorphic novels, but this is a good one. Not only is it a fun read with a slightly sinister dystopian undertone, it's also super informative as well if you ever wanted to know anything about bees.

Kingfisher4. Kingfisher by Patricia McKillip
Everything written by Patricia McKillip is dreamy and illusory, and this novel is no exception. When Pierce, the son of a powerful sorceress, finds out the truth about who his father is, he leaves behind his home in the middle of nowhere and gets caught up in a quest to find a mysterious artifact of an ancient god. This reads like a loving homage to Arthurian legend, set in an interestingly modern fantasy setting that is not in the urban/contemporary sub-genre. With several characters and subplots, this is a strange but pretty fantasy novel that stuck with me a long time after reading it. 

5. To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
To the Lighthouse loves to show up on many "most difficult books to read" lists, but do not be deterred from giving it a try! Virginia Woolf uses nonlinear narrative and stream of consciousness here, but the writing is absolutely wonderful. The novel follows the Ramsay family on their vacations to The Hebrides over a ten year time span. Very nostalgic in tone with lyrical writing and wonderful descriptions, it's not an action-packed novel by any means, but is incredibly atmospheric and feels something like an impressionist painting in book form. 

I Capture the Castle6. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
This is an super charming and romantic bildungsroman that is a great read for adult and young adult readers alike. The novel is told through 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain's journal entries, who is currently living in a dilapidated English castle with her father, stepmother, and older sister. In order to hone her writing skills, Cassandra fills the pages of her journal with descriptions of her current life and how things begin to change when a family of wealthy Americans move into the estate next door. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Spring is in the air

Once Spring arrives, the mood in the air changes. You see more smiling faces and hear more laughter. The library offers multiple kinds of books to keep you in good spirits. Whether you are looking for true stories, fictional adventures, or just plain, old romance, then the library is the place to be-either in person or digitally.

Some great reads for true story lovers are:
Oogy: the Dog Only a Family Could Love by Larry Levin--a tale about a puppy that endured so much and the family who loved him unconditionally.
The Secret History of Jane Eyre by John Pfordresher--follows how the author Charlotte Bronte wrote her classic novel and concealed that fact from her closest friends so as not to reveal her own personal struggles.
We: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere by Gillian Anderson--inspires women to use practical, spiritual, and psychological tools to create a more fulfilling life.

For you fiction lovers:
We were the lucky ones by Georgia Hunter--a novel based on a true story of a Jewish family in Poland that were scattered throughout the world by WWII and their quest to find each other.
All Grown Up by Jamie Attenberg--is about an alcoholic designer that hides her unhappiness and anxiety from her family and friends until a newborn's illness forces them to re-evaluate their lives.
The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova--follows an American tourist in Bulgaria and her efforts to return a mysterious package to the family she shared a cab with.

And finally, for those of you who feel romance in the air:
The Undateable by Sarah Title--is a fun tale about an "undateable" librarian who agrees to let a reporter find her "perfect match".
Accidentally on Purpose by Jill Shavis--follows a guy unwilling to commit to his girl but who sabotages her dates with others.
Someone to Hold by Mary Balogh--is about a woman who leaves London to teach at an orphanage and the artist who awakens something new in her.

So open your mind and try a different genre this Spring. You never know, you might like it.