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Litchfield MN 55355

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Friday, October 13, 2017

New Young Adult Titles for You!

By Jan Pease

October 14 marks the end of Teen Read Week 2017, “Unleash Your Story.”  This week of encouraging teens to use their libraries began in 1998.  In honor of Teen Read Week, here are some interesting new books for young adults.

“Truthers” is a new novel by Geoffrey Girard.  Publishers Weekly said, “It’s a fast-paced nail-biter with a resourceful heroine, packed with surprises that force readers to question every revelation and take nothing at face value.”  The plot revolves around conspiracy theories about the attack on U.S. buildings on September 11, 2001. This book received 4.6 out of 5 stars at Amazon with no negative reviews, which is remarkable. I have a difficult time accepting that an event in my life time is considered history.

Libba Bray has a new book in her “Diviners” series, “Before the Devil Breaks You.”  “Booklist” says its “a gripping, unsettling read that peels back the shiny surface of the American Dream.  Like the ghosts facing the Diviners, Bray’s novel has teeth.” Most reviews at Amazon were positive, but one said, “I’m done with this series. Loved the first book.  Liked the second book. Hate this book.”  I may have to read this series yet. 

“The Arsonist,” by Stephenie Oaks, is another complicated thriller with “history, lies, humor, and grief” according to the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. I love that professional reviews are available at amazon.com along with reviews by “everyday people.”   The plot of this book centers on events that occurred in 1989, just before the Berlin Wall fell.  Using the diary of a freedom fighter who died in 1989, the protagonists try to piece together events leading to the death of freedom fighter Ava Dreyman.  Again, it’s interesting to see an event that I remember portrayed as history.

With all of the talk about the border with Mexico in the news, “Disappeared,” by Francisco X. Stork, is a timely read.  Mr. Stork tackles the issues of sex trafficking, drugs, kidnapping, and poverty in Juarez, Mexico.  These issues seem to be a bit much for a children’s book, but I think “Disappeared” is written for an older audience.

“The Final Spark,” the seventh and final book in the “Michael Vey” series by Richard Paul Evans, has just been released.   Yes, Richard Paul Evans is THAT Richard Paul Evans, famous for “The Christmas Box.”  It’s been interesting to see his success with a crossover Young Adult Sci-Fi series.  Most of the reviewers who chimed in at Amazon liked the book and were sad the series is ending. 


Litchfield has teens who read!  I have often mentioned that right now is kind of a golden age of young adult novels.  Adults enjoy reading them, too.  Sometimes novels can get bogged down with too much character development, or too much sense of place.  I’m not afraid to say that I like to read young adult fiction!  These and many more exciting novels are waiting for you at Litchfield Public Library.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Don't Know Much About History

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  Authors are always coming out with new books about history to teach us about the past, and our library has a number of recently-published choices.

Starting way back in 247 B.C., Patrick N. Hunt’s biography Hannibal gives readers an opportunity to learn about one of the great generals of the ancient world.  Hannibal Barca of Carthage (which is now Tunisia) crossed the Alps with war elephants to invade Italy.  It’s a little hard to imagine!  Hannibal’s tactics are still taught in military academies, and generals from Napoleon to Norman Schwarzkopf have studied and admired him. 

Moving ahead just over two thousand years, another recently-published book covers the experiences of the first American women in the Army.  The Hello Girls: America’s First Women Soldiers by Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman tells the story of the women who served in the Army’s Signal Corps in World War I.  General Pershing needed experts to run telephone switchboards to keep the commanders in touch with the troops under fire, and women were the experts in this new technology. The Hello Girls faced many kinds of challenges in the war zone, sometimes serving directly on battlefields.  When they were discharged after the war, they received no veterans’ benefits until a handful of survivors finally won those in 1979. 

The book Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities covers a massive range of history and prehistory, from 800,000 BC to the present.  British historian and TV documentary producer Bettany Hughes has written what some are calling a biography of the city that has been named Byzantium, Constantinople, and Istanbul.  It has been the capital city of the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires and for a long time was the most important city in the world.  Hughes writes with an enthusiastic narrative style, full of details and drama.

Ken Burns is America’s favorite TV documentary-maker.  His new one is The Vietnam War, which we will be getting on DVD for the library.  The companion book is The Vietnam War: An Intimate History, co-authored with Geoffrey C. Ward.  Full of photographs, this book gives as comprehensive a look at this controversial war as you are likely to find, from its causes to its legacy.

For a fresh look at the Revolutionary War, check out Scars of Independence: America’s Violent Birth by Holger Hoock.  The publisher’s description of the book says, “The American Revolution is often portrayed as an orderly, restrained rebellion, with brave patriots defending their noble ideals against an oppressive empire.”  The author sets aside the usual nostalgia to examine the brutal violence that both sides engaged in, including the torture of Loyalists, the rape of colonial women, the starvation of prisoners, and the genocidal campaign against the Iroquois.   


Other new books about historical topics include Stanton: Lincoln’s War Secretary by Walter Stahr, Ike and McCarthy: Dwight Eisenhower’s Secret Campaign Against Joseph McCarthy by David A. Nichols, and The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek by Howard Markel.  Learn more about history by picking up a book about a time or topic that’s new to you.  

Adult Coloring - New Program at the Library



No need to sign up.  Supplies provided.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Fall Books: a Little Science, a Little Fall Color, and a Whole Bunch of Big Words!

 By Jan Pease

As I was looking for information about 3D printing, I stumbled across the story of Jose Delgado Jr., who uses a prosthetic hand that cost $42,000.00.  Jeremy Simon of 3DUniverse.org decided to make Mr. Delgado a hand using open source software and a 3D printer.  He calls the result the “Cyborg Beast” prosthetic hand, and Mr. Delgado reported that his printed prosthetic works better than his expensive myoelectric hand.  The Cyborg Beast hand can be made for about $50.00.  I think this exciting technology will literally change the world.  


So now we get to the reason I was interested in 3D printing.  One of the newest books in the children’s department is “Beauty and the Beak: How Science, Technology, and a 3D-Printed Beak Rescued a Bald Eagle,” by Deborah Lee Rose.  Beauty is a bald eagle whose beak was shot off. Her life was saved by Birds of Prey Northwest director, Janie Veltkamp.   Janie, Nate Calvin, who is a mechanical
engineer, and volunteer dentists and veterinarians worked together to print Beauty a new prosthetic beak. Their website, birdsofpreynorthwest.org, contains links to videos about their work, and other information about how discoveries in science are benefitting all kinds of birds.  An update to Beauty’s story is that her natural beak began to slowly regrow, pushing her prosthetic beak off.  Beauty can feed herself and they are evaluating her condition to see if a replacement for her replacement beak is a good idea.  She lives in her own large aviary, which is large enough for her to spread her wings and fly a bit.  This is an amazing story.


“Animal Heroes: The Wolves, Camels, Elephants, Dogs, Cats, Horses, Penguins, Dolphins, and Other Remarkable Animals that Proved They Are Man’s Best Friend,”  by Julia Moberg is a completely lighthearted look at the stories of 40 animals throughout history.
This is a book for animal lovers of all ages. 

Susan Patterson and her husband, James Patterson (yes, THAT James Patterson) have just published a unique alphabet book for older children, “Big Words for Little Geniuses”.  Each letter has a sophisticated word and definition that will enlarge vocabularies for everyone in the family.  For example, A is for Arachibutyrophobia, which is the alarming fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth.
If you love words, this is the book for you!






Finally, the perfect picture book for this time of year is “Full of Fall,” by April Pulley Sayre.  This lovely book combines science with full-colored illustrations.  Little scientists can learn about why the leaves change color and fall off the trees.   What! You mean it isn’t Jack Frost?




Friday, September 22, 2017

A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That...

By Jan Pease


Fall children’s programs have begun in earnest.  One of the highlights from today was watching a group of very young children using paint dabbers to make colorful fall trees.  They worked so hard on their pictures, and every picture was unique.  One of the things I enjoy about fall is that leaves on each tree change color in their own way. 

Our September book is “In the Middle of Fall,” by Kevin Henke.    We “painted” leaves one week with markers on color diffusing paper, using water to make the colors run together.  I have to find one more leaf craft for next week.

Another highlight from our week came on
Thursday afternoon at Beginner Book club.  We read the book “Dog Diaries: Secret Writings of the WOOF Society,” by Betsy Byars and her daughters Betsy Duffy and Laurie Meyers.  These secret writings are short stories from the dogs’ point of view.  Some are very funny.  The kids especially enjoyed chapter four, “The Invisible Enemy,” which tells about the mysterious interloper in the kitchen sink, named “Disposer.”  One of the boys started reading out loud, without being asked, and we read an entire short story together.  Because no one had read all of the stories, we will continue our discussion next month about “Dog Diaries” and hand out books for November.



The children asked to read “Cat Diaries: Secret Writings of the MEOW Society.”  By the way, WOOF stands for “Words of Our Friends,” and MEOW stands for “Memories Expressed in Our Writing.” 

My goal for Beginner Book Club is for the members to read for enjoyment.  Yes, we have a few discussion questions and sometimes look at character development and plot.  But I want these children to enjoy reading for its own sake.  When they started spontaneously reading aloud, I almost wept.  Beginner Book Club meets once each month on the third Thursday, and is for students in grades 1-3.

Make it a point to look around the library at the fall decorations.  The staff who decorated switched things around.  I think some of the items that are usually in the children’s department are in the adult areas, and some of the adult decorations are in the children’s department.  Whatever was done, and whoever did it, I like it!  Books from the “Harry Potter” series appear here and there, and the effect is, dare I say it, magical!

Finally, be sure to look at the LEGO creations on display near the children’s desk.  This display will be up for one more week, and then everything will be broken up and put in the LEGO totes.  I especially like the flying hair salon.  It would be so much simpler if the beauty salon flew to the customers.  Also be sure to look at the red diamond shape.  The builder started at the point of the diamond and built outward.  It’s an interesting bit of engineering. Next week we will have challenges from the new Booster Bricks Box. It should be fun.  If you’re aged 4-14, come and join us!

  






Friday, September 15, 2017

Hot books for chillier days

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Fall is here, daylight is shorter, and the weather is bound to turn cooler soon.  Time to find a good novel to curl up with!  Look for these novels that are getting some buzz this fall.

John le CarrĂ© is a British master of the spy novel.  He is 85 years old, and for the first time in 25 years he has come out with a new George Smiley book, A Legacy of Spies.  This new installment connects back to his classic novels The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy but is set in the current day.  Cold War novels had seemed to be a thing of the past, but everything old is new again.  You might expect that le CarrĂ© couldn’t effectively go back to storylines written in the 1960s and ‘70s, but reviewers say it’s fresh and brilliant.

For those who like science fiction, The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones offers a literary take on dystopia.  In this version of the future, deadly ticks have caused the remnant of the United States to retreat to a safe zone within a ring of scorched earth for protection, although the society within is tightly controlled and full of fear.  But people who pay enough and are brave enough can venture out to see more of the world on guided expeditions.  A group of these adventurers, strangers to each other, get captured by a community of outer-zone survivors, and they have to decide which side they’re on. 

In 2004, Lily Tuck won the National Book Award for fiction for The News from Paraguay even though she wasn’t a well-known author.  She’s still far from being a household name, but her new novella is getting some literary attention.  Sisters is a second-wife’s rumination on what her new husband’s first wife must be like.  The reader never learns the name of either woman.  The narrator becomes obsessed with all that her husband doesn’t tell her about her predecessor, whether she can ever equal her, and the way she betrayed her.
 
Jesmyn Ward is also a National Book Award winner for her novel Salvage the Bones, which won in 2011.  Her new novel is Sing, Unburied, Sing.  It’s a Southern road novel, and reviewers are so excited about it, comparing it to Homer’s Odyssey and the work of Toni Morrison, William Faulkner, and Flannery O’Connor.  A black woman and her two children drive from her parents’ farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi to the state penitentiary to pick up the children’s white father, encountering dangers on the journey.  Incorporating drug addiction, the legacy of racial violence, and the long-term damage hurricanes can cause, this timely novel ventures into magical realism. 

If you’re looking for a thriller, The Woman Who Couldn’t Scream by Christina Dodd could fit the bill.  The fourth book in the Virtue Falls series features newly-elected sheriff Kateri and a case involving her old friend Merida, who is mute and has returned to town with a different name, a new look, and a plan for revenge after living as a long-suffering trophy wife.  Merida and Kateri are looking for the truth about something that happened nine years earlier and the identity of the person who’s murdering women in the small community. 


Some other novels released in September that you may want to seek out include Enemy of the State by Kyle Mills and the late Vince Flynn, Enigma by Catherine Coulter, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, and The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz, which is a continuation of the late Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series.  You can order these online through our catalog or stop in to ask a staff person to help you find a copy.  

Friday, September 8, 2017

How I Spent my Summer Vacation

 By Jan Pease
Those of you who have facebook can click on this link and see our favorite spot.
https://www.facebook.com/beautifulnorthshore/videos/1852324971449915/



As many of you know, we like to get away “Up North” and spend some time looking at Lake Superior and reading a lot of books. So this is the annual “what I read on my vacation” article.

My husband Dave is working hard to get our house painted before the snow flies. This year our vacation turned into a staycation.

I read a lot.  Some of it was very good.  Some of it was truly embarrassing.  One of the best books I’m still reading is “The Benedict Option: a Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation,” by Rod Dreher.  Mr. Dreher calls attention to the way our culture erodes the family and the church.  He
foresees a coming  dark age nearly as bad as the one in Europe during and after the fall of the Roman Empire.  The  book is an interesting, controversial read, and definitely makes you think.  Reviews at Amazon.com range from “awful” to “vital.”



I discovered Ann Aguirre, a young adult author and her trilogy, “Razorland.”  The titles are “Enclave,” “Outpost,” and “Horde.” Ms. Aguirre does a good job of world-building her post-apocalyptic societies in and around   New York City, which is in ruins.  There are tunnel denizens, various races, and isolated communities who live in walled villages, all faced by an implacable cannibalistic enemy.

I also read “When the English Fall,” by David Williams.  This is another post-apocalyptic novel, told from the point of view of an Amish farmer. The world of the outsiders, called “The English” collapses after a massive solar storm.  The Amish aren’t affected at first by the loss of electricity and the internet and all of the amenities of modern life, but gradually their peaceful world is invaded by desperate people willing to kill just for the sake of killing.  I really enjoyed this book, and hope that Mr. Williams continues the story of a peaceful family surviving in a terrible world.
 
Because so many people read Charlaine Harris, and because I watched a summer  tv show called “Midnight, Texas” based on her books, I finally read Ms. Harris.  Four of her books! I read “Midnight Crossroad,” “Day Shift,” and “Night Shift,” as well as the first Sookie Stackhouse book, “Dead until Dark.” They are too silly, and have too much romance, and too many vampires, were-tigers, demons, and fallen angels for me. I hope this doesn’t offend any of her fans, but these four and no more.


Jo Nesbo is a Norwegian author who is very popular in our area.  He has been on my list of “to be read” also known as TBR for quite awhile.  I finished the first Harry Hole novel, “The Bat” and thoroughly enjoyed it. Even though I’m not on vacation now, I’m looking forward to reading “Cockroaches,” the second Harry Hole book.


“The Girl in the Spider’s Web” continued the story of Lisbeth Salander that started with “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by the late Stieg Larsson. 
David Lagercrantz  is writing the series, now renamed “Stieg Larsson’s  Millennium Series.”  The first time I tried reading “The Girl in the Spider’s Web,” I just couldn’t deal with the difference in style, even though Mr. Lagercrantz writes a lot like Mr. Larsson.  But now it’s been long enough since I read the first books, and I’m enjoying getting reacquainted with this Swedish series.

 See you at the library!