According to an issue of Library Journal from earlier this year, mystery novels are the most popular type of books for adults in libraries throughout the United States. That seems to be true here in Litchfield, as well. William Kent Krueger’s newest, Trickster’s Point, has a substantial waiting list of 64 people on the 26 copies in the system. While you’re waiting for your copy to arrive, here are some other new mysteries you can check out from our library.
Queen’s Bounty by Fiona Buckley is part of the Ursula Blanchard series. Ursula is a special aide to Queen Elizabeth I. She receives a threatening letter from a countess who was exiled for treason against Elizabeth, a plot Ursula helped uncover. Strange things begin to happen, and Ursula is accused of being a witch.
Die a Stranger by Steve Hamilton is the ninth Alex McKnight novel. Set in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, this mystery starts with bodies left behind after a shoot-out at a remote airstrip. This is followed by the disappearance of Alex’s best friend Vinnie, an Ojibwa tribal member. This series is known for its UP ambiance.
The Crowded Grave: A Mystery of the French Countryside by Martin Walker is part of another mystery series, one that features Bruno Courreges, chief of police in a French village. Bruno investigates a modern body with a gunshot wound, found at a Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal archaeological site. A series of attacks by animal rights activists on foie gras producers and an upcoming international summit complicate the investigation.
Crime Fraiche by Alexander Campion is another mystery set in France and featuring its food, with more of a cozy mystery style. Detective Capucine LeTellier arrives in Normandy with her husband for pheasant hunting season, but a series of hunting accidents kill several employees of a local cattle ranch, and Capucine has to investigate.
The Yard by Alex Grecian is the first novel in a new series, set in Victorian England. Walter Day is newly hired by “The Murder Squad”, Scotland Yard’s group of twelve detectives dedicated to investigating the many murders in London. Public opinion of the Murder Squad is low after they failed to find Jack the Ripper, and then a member of the squad is murdered. Walter teams with Scotland Yard’s first forensic pathologist to solve the crime.
What Comes Next by John Katzenbach is set in modern-day Massachusetts. A retired professor sees a teenage girl abducted. A sadistic couple features her torture in a webcast, but the police can’t find her. The professor decides to find her himself, but he is racing against not only the kidnappers, but also a disease that is destroying his brain and causing him to experience hallucinations. The professional reviewers praise this book, but the average people on Amazon are divided on whether the book is wonderful or terrible.
All of the books listed here were purchased by our library with funding from our local Friends of the Library group. When you shop at our monthly book sale, that money goes to the Friends, which supplements our regular book budget as well as children’s programming and other needs. Our next book sale will be held on Saturday, September 15, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
How I spent my vacation, or a peek in the Pease family book bags. We enjoyed our week away, but as always, the time passed too quickly. I spent hours reading, napping, walking and even did a tiny bit of writing. When I look out over the expanse of Lake Superior, I feel a sense of far-sightedness, somehow seeing more clearly than at home. The Lake rewarded us with its constantly changing moods, gray and still one minute, blue waves with white foam crashing on the rocky beach the next.
I always bring a mystery or thriller along for vacation. This year I read “Red Mist,” by Patricia Cornwell. This, the 19th Scarpetta novel, reminds me of some of her early books, written in the first person. I enjoyed the book. A long-running series tends to become a little tedious, but I think Cornwell is back on track.
I usually bring along a nonfiction book, because I tend to read fiction but think I should read more nonfiction. This year’s book is “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” Written by Susan Cain, this book celebrates the quiet ones. Since I’m a person who needs a lot of down time, this book resonates with me.
Another nonfiction find is “A Jane Austen Devotional,” by Steffany Woolsey, and Jane Austen. This devotional book pairs excerpts from the Austen novels with scripture and a short devotional thought by Steffany Woolsey. I enjoy reading Steffany’s thoughts on favorite passages from my favorite novels. Her choice of Scripture is always appropriate
Because of my enjoyment of all things Austen, I tried “Shades of Milk and Honey,” by Mary Robinette Kowal. Amazon.com called this book “a quasi-Regency fantasy debut.” Ms. Kowal blends characters that would fit quite well in “Pride and Prejudice” or “Persuasion,” with a light touch of magic called “glamour.” It could be Jane Austen with magic, but somehow it isn’t. But it was a great quick vacation read. If I could work “glamour,” I’d find something more interesting to do with it other than hiding bad teeth or making wall murals.
Another, more successful blending of wit reminiscent of Miss Austen with the paranormal, is “Soulless,” the first book in the “The Parasol Protectorate” quintet, by Gail Carriger. Amazon.com says that “Soulless” is “is a comedy of manners set in Victorian London: full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.” I’m not a fan of paranormal fiction, but this blend of steampunk, the paranormal and Victorian London is a lot of fun. I plan to continue on with the next four books even though vacation is done.
The other series I’m reading is George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire.” We watched the dvds based on the series, HBO’s “A Game of Thrones” each night before going to bed, which made for some interesting dreams. I’m reading the newest book, “A Dance with Dragons” as slowly as I can, to savor the experience. Mr. Martin is working on the next book in the series, but it won’t be published for some time. I plan to re-read the series to get a better understanding of the complicated plot and characters and will enjoy every word
Dave is reading Brandon Sanderson, the author chosen to finish Robert Jordan’s monumental series “The Wheel of Time.” Dave read the first two books in the “Mistborn” series, “Mistborn,” and “The Well of Ascension.” (He already read and enjoyed the George R.R. Martin books.) He also continued to read his Bible, as he reads it in its entirety every year. I admire his discipline. Some years I get stuck in Leviticus or the minor prophets and don’t make it farther. It’s hard to admit such frailty, but there it is.
Finally, I should admit that I really didn’t bring a book bag. All of my books fit on my e-reader, with room to spare. Technology really is amazing. See you at the library!
As we look ahead to fall, I’d like to invite you to put some Litchfield Library events on your calendar.
The first is really an end of summer event. It’s taking place Thursday, August 23rd, at 3 p.m. We’re having a special event for the end of our summer reading program. Kids of all ages, especially those who are in elementary school, are invited to Professor Marvel’s Dream Machines, a fun-filled magic show. Magician Robert Halbrook always focuses his show around children’s books, both classic and new, to fire kids up about reading. This summer’s show is based on our summer reading theme Dream Big: Read. I can’t say I’m a big fan of magicians in general, but I love to watch Robert. His shows are interesting, he’s funny, and he gets the crowd involved in a really enjoyable way. I’ve seen a huge crowd of both kids and parents having a great time at a show he did here in Litchfield a couple of years ago. Drop in to the children’s department at 3:00 to celebrate summer and reading. Kids can still turn in their reading logs until the end of the month.
In September I’m starting a new adult book club. We will have a brown-bag book club for adults that will meet at noon on the second Tuesday of the month. We’ll meet in the library meeting room for about 45 minutes, but if you need to get back to work after a half hour, you are welcome to leave sooner. You may bring your lunch if you wish. I’m hoping this will be a good opportunity for adults working in town who can get away on their lunch break, people who have jobs that aren’t 9 to 5, retirees, and stay-at-home parents who don’t have their kids with them at that time. Our first meeting will be on September 11th, and our first book is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I have copies available; stop in to pick one up if you’d like to join us.
Our gaming club is continuing on Monday nights from 6-8 p.m. It’s for adults, teens, and kids ages 10 and up. We have been getting a small but steady turnout from all of those age groups, and they’ve been having a good time. Sign up at the library if you plan to come every week or just once in a while, so that our volunteer leader can plan the night’s activities. So far they’ve played Dungeons & Dragons, BattleTech, and Magic: The Gathering. If you have a tabletop game you’d like to bring in and demonstrate, talk to me about setting up an evening for that. If you’re into something like Settlers of Catan or Dominion, we’d love to have you teach others how your new favorite game is played.
Save the date for the Litchfield Public Library Foundation’s wine & cheese fundraiser on Thursday, October 25th. It will be held at the Litchfield VFW from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available now at the library, at the Litchfield liquor store, and from library board members. The foundation is asking for a donation of $20 per ticket. The event will feature local authors, as well as wine, cheese, and chocolate tasting. Invite your friends and make it a fun night out.
*BattleTech: At its most basic, the game of BattleTech is played on a map sheet composed of hexagon-shaped terrain tiles. The combat units are 30-foot-tall (9.1 m) humanoid armored combat units called BattleMechs, powered by fusion reactors, armed with lasers, particle projection cannons, autocannons, and both short and long range missiles.
*Magic the Gathering: In a game of Magic, two or more players are engaged in a battle as powerful wizards called "planeswalkers". A player starts the game with twenty "life points" and loses when he or she is reduced to zero or fewer. Players lose life when they are dealt "damage" by being attacked with summoned creatures or when spells or other cards cause them to lose life directly.
Thursday 6PM to 8PM, library large study room
*D&D Campaign: We will be using a different meeting room than normal. Jason would like to run this with everyone who has come previously if possible. If you cannot make it please let Jason know so he can reschedule.
Also, if anyone has a game they would like to host or DM please let Jason or Beth know so we can schedule it.
We will not be meeting on a Saturday in August.
Guest book reviewers Nick, Jennah and Natalie have made my job so much easier this week. I love to receive book reviews, and hope that more readers will turn in their thoughts before the end of August.
Nick, who is 11, almost 12, read “Ghost Detectors book 2: I’m Gonna Get You!” He says this book deserves five stars because “ the author puts humor, mystery, and adventure together in one book.” The “Ghost Detectors” is a series by Dotti Enderle. Copies are available in Litchfield, and they look like a great fit for someone about Nick’s age.
Natalie, age 12, read “Small Persons With Wings,” by Ellen Booraem. She says that the book deserves five stars. In Natalie’s words, “You would think that a 12-year-old would not like a book about “small persons with wings” (fairies), but this book turned out to be a treasure. The “fairy parts” are very good and as realistic as fairies can be; the fairies had normal emotions and even cliques. This book also deeply explores the feelings of a typical 13-year-old girl through the main character, Mellie Turpin. I feel like I can relate to her feelings. The next time I’m asked for a book suggestion for a family read aloud, I’m going to recommend “Small Persons with Wings.”
Jennah, age 13, reviewed two more books. The first, “The Dangerous Days of Daniel X,” by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge, deserves five stars because “the book is full of adventure, mystery, some unique magic, and a sarcastic wit. James Patterson has again created a series, with help, full of all those traits that will capture any reader’s attention.
Jennah also read “Heart to Heart,” by Lurlene McDaniel. Jennah says the book deserves five stars, because “the book is very inspirational and tells about things that happen that most people couldn’t even begin to describe. It tells of friends, severed by death, but reunited partially through the girl who got a heart.” Lurlene McDaniel writes about teens and their families who are facing some kind of tragedy. In “Heart to Heart,” she tackles the issue of heart transplants, hinting at the concept of cellular memory. Does some part of the donor live on in the recipient of a heart? Interesting question.
Finally, the High School Book Club, which will meet at 3 p.m. on August 28, is reading “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, “ by Ransom Riggs, a book that has generated a lot of interest. It was chosen by amazon.com as one of the best books of 2011. The book is filled with strange vintage photographs from various collections, so I expected a creepy horror story. Instead, it’s a combination of fantasy and adventure that I really enjoyed. I hope the high school readers like it as much as I did. The only drawback is that I read it on my Nook, so the pictures and hand written letters were hard to decipher.
Read a book and tell someone about it. You’ll be glad you did. See you at the library!
Miss Manners wrote, in her column that runs in the Star Tribune, that it really isn’t difficult to write thank you notes. Well, this is a gigantic thank you note to some of the people who have helped make this one of the most amazing summers in my years at Litchfield Library.
Many dedicated parents have brought children weekly to library programs. Reading calendars are coming in so fast I’ve lost count. We have to put them in a box because my cute little basket filled so quickly. 299 young people, preschool through teens, have signed up to participate in reading throughout the summer. Thanks to all of the families who have encouraged their children to keep reading through the summer. I haven’t added up our total attendance at library programs, but attendance has remained steady throughout the summer.
Our Monday trips to Cosmos for our “Little Bit of Library” will end with a party in the Cosmos Park, at about 6:30 p.m. on Monday, August 6th. I plan to be there at about 6, and hope for a slightly cooler evening than the past few Mondays. Peace Lutheran Church graciously extended their hospitality to us, and the cool building was a life saver. They have really cold water, too. Thank you so much, Pastor Marlaine and congregation.
The WonderWeavers, Tina Rhode and Colleen Shaskin, ventured all the way to Cosmos and were, well, wonderful. I asked the children what professional storytellers do. Tina and Colleen kept the children and parents involved and entertained, and afterward the children said, “They tell stories!” Tina and Colleen tell some of the best.
Thanks to the Litchfield office of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for providing wildlife experts who brought excellent programs to Cosmos and Litchfield. I just couldn’t get the Litchfield kids excited about the word “crepuscular,” but will keep trying.( By the way, mosquitoes are crepuscular insects.) Thanks again to the Wildlife Wizard and to Bridget for telling us about the work that you do.
The Willmar Stingers came to visit, charming our story time kids and thrilling the baseball fans who attended that day. The PAK parents presented their program “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle,” inspiring us all to be more aware of our carbon footprint. The “Tomato Story Time,” presented by Joan Olson of the “One Vegetable One Community” project was really entertaining. I’ve probably left out someone, so if I have, please consider yourself thanked.
Story times are not offered in August. Book clubs will meet on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Tuesdays, as usual. On August 23 at 3 p.m., the library will host Professor Marvel’s Dream Machines. Magician Robert Halbrook designs a new show every year for the Cooperative Summer Reading Program. He always amazes, and always encourages kids to enjoy reading.
Reading Records can be turned in through the end of August, and certificates will be available at the children’s desk for everyone who participated. Thanks for a great summer!
On Saturday, July 7th, I led a group of people from Dassel, Litchfield, and Grove City to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant in Walnut Grove, Minnesota. Pioneerland Library System collaborated with Plum Creek Library System to our south to bring busloads of library patrons from our region to the pageant. This was sponsored in part by Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, as well as by the pageant itself.
Our group went early enough to take in some of the other Ingalls attractions in Walnut Grove. We visited the dugout site, where the Ingalls lived during the book On the Banks of Plum Creek. It’s a privately-owned farm where the family allows tourists to visit for a small fee. The dugout itself collapsed long ago, but the sunken spot is there to see. The Ingalls family certainly lived in small houses for most of their lives.
Visitors can wade in Plum Creek just like Laura, Mary, and Nellie did. Several people in our group went in. Luckily no one encountered leeches or a “crab” (I would imagine it was really a crayfish) in the stream, which Laura and Nellie did in the book.
I’m a lifelong fan of the Little House books, so it was exciting for me to stand in that place described so carefully by Laura. It looks like so many other places around Minnesota, but it’s been immortalized by being included in a classic children’s book.
After leaving the dugout site, I set our group free in the town of Walnut Grove to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum or to go to the Family Festival taking place that afternoon. I toured the museum, which is a group of small buildings. They include a schoolhouse, a dugout, a chapel, and some old-fashioned houses, and they house the museum’s collections. This museum has little that belonged to the Ingalls, but it teaches visitors about her life and times and her books, as well as the television series that was based loosely on the books.
In the evening we all boarded the bus for the pageant, which takes place a short distance outside of town. The chairs are on a hillside, with general seating open on either side for people who bring blankets or lawn chairs. The stage area includes a permanent dugout and a pioneer town backdrop. The production itself was impressive. It’s community theater that’s perfected by performing the show every year. The Ingalls family rides onto the stage area in a covered wagon pulled by a team of horses. The church is a massive set piece that’s put up by the cast and crew when the congregation builds a church in the story. The prairie fire is real fire, and really exciting. The “social” is a big dance number that is a showstopper. When Mary loses her sight, it’s very sad. Nellie and Willie are appropriately obnoxious. The play is funny, it’s touching, and it shows the immense difficulties that Minnesota settlers faced in the 19th century.
Our group enjoyed the trip very much. The participants ranged in age from 8 to senior citizen. They gave the program high marks for being very enjoyable, and some said they could not have had this experience without the library-sponsored trip. If you are a Little House fan who hasn’t been to the pageant, I recommend it to you as a great arts and history program that celebrates one of our most famous Minnesota authors.