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Saturday, January 14, 2017

What is So Special About January 19?

By Jan Pease

Memory is an uncertain thing, but I can tell you exactly what I was doing the evening of January 19, 1984.  My husband was watching “Hill Street Blues” and I was very, very busy. 

Having new books in January is also an uncertain thing, as we end the 2016 book orders and eventually order the 2017 books.  But some of the last books ordered in 2016 have arrived, just in time for the cold snap.  During the last month of collection development I ordered books recommended on various “best of” lists and filled in some series that are popular. 

One of those series is “The Lunar Chronicles,” by Marissa Meyer.  Ms. Meyer uses elements from famous fairy tales and somehow mixes in cyborgs and other steam punk and sci fi tropes.  But it works.  In “Scarlet,” the main character’s grandmother has been kidnapped (think, “Little Red Riding Hood”) and Scarlet receives help from an unlikely source: Wolf, a street fighter.    The cyborg from the first novel of the Lunar Chronicles, “Cinder,” is also a character in this book. The cyborg is  notable for having a glass leg instead of a glass slipper.  Interesting concept.


“Hamster Princess,” the series by Ursula Vernon, continues with the book, “Hamster Princess: Of Mice and Magic.”   The “Hamster Princess” books are heavily illustrated, making them almost graphic novels.  “Of Mice and Magic” may just remind you of the fairy tale “The Twelve Dancing
Princesses.”

“If the Magic Fits” is the first book of the “100 Dresses” series by Susan Maupin Schmid.  Our heroine, named Darling Dimple, finds a closet filled with 100 old dresses that are magic.  This book is a little long for its audience, but I think elementary aged children will enjoy it.

“A Guide to the Other Side,” by Robert Imfeld, is a book I purchased after re-examining reviews.  I don’t really enjoy books about  spirits and mediums, perhaps because during my childhood a family member became very involved in such things.  Mr. Imfeld’s book is very well-written and is just creepy and spooky enough for 9-12 year olds who enjoy being a little bit scared. 

Finally, “The Haunted House Project,” by Tricia Clasen, is a book that presents itself as a ghost story.  Andie is thirteen, lives with her older sister and their father, and their family is falling apart. Her mother died and her father is dealing with grief by gambling.  Sometimes there isn’t food in the house.  Andie decides to draw attention to their problems by making it look like their mom is trying to contact them from “the other side.”  It’s an unusual solution to the family problems, but at the end of the book, Andie says, “maybe we needed to believe in her ghost before we could finally stop feeling haunted.”    This is another book I re-examined after missing it at first.  People and books should have second chances, don’t you think?

By the way, on January 19, 1984, I was busy having our daughter Becca.  Seems like only yesterday.  See you at the library!






Friday, January 6, 2017

Book Your Winter Getaway

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian 

January is here, and so is our annual adult winter reading program.  The theme this year is “Book Your Winter Getaway.” 

When you sign up, you will receive a blue book bag, a bookmark, six book review forms, and a punch card for keeping track of the number of book reviews you have turned in.

The goal is to read six books by the end of March.  When you have turned in all six book reviews, you can choose a prize: a Book Your Winter Getaway mug, an adult coloring book, a metal bookmark, a stylus pen, or an extra-large Hershey bar, while supplies last.  You will also be entered into a drawing for gift certificates to local businesses, sponsored by the Friends of the Litchfield Public Library.

So what to read to get away from Minnesota winter?

Would you like a holiday in France?  Martin Walker has come out with a new Bruno, Chief of Police novel, titled Fatal Pursuit.  These mysteries are set in the south of France, with this one bringing Bruno a little romance as he works to solve two murders during the annual fete in St. Denis. 

Maybe you’d like to run away to Australia.  A Few Right Thinking Men is a mystery by Sulari Gentill set during the Depression.   Young gentleman painter Rowland Sinclair takes up an investigation when his uncle is killed and he believes the police are pursuing the wrong leads.  Many books are set during the Great Depression, but seeing that era in Australia is unusual.  The first in a planned series of seven, this novel is recommended for fans of Miss Phryne Fisher, Maisie Dobbs, and Lord Peter Wimsey.   

For a trip to Italy, you could pick up A Voice in the Night by Andrea Camilleri.  This Inspector Montalbano mystery finds the inspector investigating a basic supermarket robbery that turns into a more complicated case with two possible murders.  Is it about political power and the mafia?  Maybe you won’t feel like getting away to Sicily if you read this one, but Camilleri’s books are known for their humor, which is its own kind of escape. 

Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch mysteries are set in Los Angeles.  The newest is The Wrong Side of Goodbye.  Now a private investigator who doesn’t need to advertise, Bosch is hired by a dying billionaire who wants to find out if he has an heir.  His great love when he was young was a Mexican girl who disappeared while she was pregnant.  Reviewers say this novel is Connelly at his best.

If you’d like a nonfiction escape, you could do some planning for spring with the new book Gardening for Butterflies: How You Can Attract and Protect Beautiful, Beneficial Insects by the Xerces Society.  The book explains how to choose plants and design a butterfly garden you can enjoy this summer.

Another kind of nonfiction escape, The Wonder Trail: True Stories from Los Angeles to the End of the World is a travel memoir.  Steve Hely, a writer for the television show “The Office”, backpacked to the southern tip of South America.  This is a travelogue that focuses on the positive and the humorous, without ignoring the challenges that people in Central and South America face.


Books can take us to places and times that are completely different from where we really are.  Get away this winter by picking up a good book.