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LibraryReads April 2014

March 29, 2014 by Reader's Connection


LibraryReads March 2014

When I made my little LibraryReads map, last month, to show which states had contributed reviews of their favorite new books, I thought that it would be embarrassing if the same states showed up every month.

I needn’t have worried. There were a few repeaters, this month, but New York, a state which contributed no reviews last month, turned in three for April.

And YES, there’s a review from Indiana, this time around. (Librarians interested in reviewing for LibraryReads should look at their website at


LibraryReads April 2014 – My thanks to Delphi, Indiana, for letting me know that Julia Glass has written a new novel. I’ll probably blog about it.

So here we go: 10 just-released (or soon-to-be-released) books that have been picked as favorites by librarians around the country.

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

 The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry


A middle-aged bookseller mourning his lost wife, a feisty publisher’s rep, and a charmingly precocious abandoned child come together on a small island off the New England coast in this utterly delightful novel of love and second chances. — Beth Mills, New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, NY






Frog Music by Emma Donoghue

Frog Music


Donoghue returns to historical fiction in this latest offering, based on the unsolved murder of Jenny Bonnet, a cross-dressing frog catcher with a mysterious past. Set in 1870s San Francisco, this brilliant book includes impeccable historical details, from a smallpox epidemic to period songs. — Diane Scholl, Batavia Public Library, IL





And the Dark Sacred Night by Julia Glass

And the Dark Sacred Night


Four stars to Julia Glass for this, her best work since Three Junes. We become reacquainted with old characters Malachy, Fenno, and Walter and learn more about their life stories. The individuals are imperfectly human, and perfectly drawn. A wonderful, highly recommended novel. — Kelly Currie, Delphi Public Library, Delphi, IN






By its Cover: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery by Donna Leon

By its Cover: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery


In the 23rd book in this delightful series, Commissario Guido Brunetti is brought in to investigate the theft of pages and maps from rare books. Brunetti is a great character with warmth, style and elegance. Leon’s book enlightens us about Venetian customs and delivers a solid mystery. — Joanne Genovese, Smithtown Special Library District, Smithtown, NY





The Intern’s Handbook: A Thriller by Shane Kuhn

The Intern’s Handbook: A Thriller


How did Shane Kuhn pull this off? He’s written an action-packed, twisting thriller about professional assassins, and–guess what?–it’s funny and romantic, too! In a totally quirky way, of course. You have to read it to believe it. — Nancy Russell, Columbus Metropolitan Library, Columbus, OH






The Axe Factor: A Jimm Juree Mystery by Colin Cotterill

The Axe Factor: A Jimm Juree Mystery


I love this sharply-written and quirky cozy mystery. Jimm Juree is a wonderful character, slyly funny and insightful, with an oddball cast of family and friends to back her up. Set in coastal Thailand, this is a laugh-out-loud funny mystery with plenty of great twists and turns that will keep readers guessing. — Vicki Nesting, St. Charles Parish Library, Destrehan, LA





Family Life by Akhil Sharma

Family Life


The Mishras move from India to New York City in the 1980s in order to give their two sons better educational opportunities. When tragedy strikes, the family tries to recover the optimism and hope that propelled them to America. Beautiful, clear-eyed and compelling, this book packs a powerful punch. — Anbolyn Potter, Chandler Public Library, Chandler, AZ





Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James

Silence for the Dead


A young nurse working in an isolated hospital for WWI veterans finds herself in over her head. Are the patients in the mysterious estate haunted by their wartime experiences, or something more malevolent? St. James is an up-and-coming author with a flair for combining horror and romance. A great choice for readers of either genre. — Jenna Persick, Chester County Library, Exton, PA




On the Rocks by Erin Duffy

On the Rocks


After her fiancé dumps her on Facebook, Abby retreats to her apartment until her best friend invites her to spend the summer in Newport. This book is for every woman who’s been determined to put things back together after finding herself on the wrong side of social media, in the aftermath of a bad breakup, or elbow deep in Ben & Jerry’s when things fall apart. — Sara Grochowski, Alpena County George N. Fletcher Public Library, Alpena, MI




Love, Nina: A Nanny Writes Home by Nina Stibbe

Love, Nina: A Nanny Writes Home


With a unique voice, Stibbe brings 1980s literary Camden back to life in this delightful epistolary memoir. The letters that Stibbe writes to her sister are a hoot, featuring unexpected cooking advice from the great Alan Bennett, and droll commentary on just about everything from Mary-Kay Wilmers. — Jennifer Estepp, Queens Library, Jamaica, NY


Jean-Léopolde-Nicolas-Frédéric Cuvier. My man!

March 27, 2014 by Reader's Connection

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

Those e’s with accents don’t really work in this software, do they? Cuvier was a naturalist in late eighteenth-early nineteenth century France, and he helped to create the idea of extinction. Before that time, no one believed that species stopped existing, and it was unthinkable that whole scores of species would stop existing at the same time.

Until the end of the eighteenth century, the very category of extinction didn’t exist. The more strange bones were unearthed–mammoth, Megatherium, mosasaurs–the harder naturalists had to squint to fit them into a familiar framework. And squint they did. The giant bones belonged to elephants who had been washed north, or hippos that had wandered west, or whales with malevolent grins. When Cuvier arrived in Paris, he saw that the mastodon’s molars could not be fit into the established framework, a “My God” moment that led him to propose a whole new way of seeing them. Life, Cuvier recognized, had a history. This history was marked by loss and punctuated by events too terrible for human imagining.

That’s Elizabeth Kolbert, from her new book The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. Scientists now believe that there have been five great extinctions, five periods when for some reason many species went extinct at once; and as Kolbert’s title implies, many believe that we’re living in the midst of another such period, a mass extinction brought about by you-know-whom.

She travels the globe, meeting all manner of scientists and checking in on frogs and trees and coral reefs and rhinos that may be in danger of extinction. Her wit, the span of her knowledge, and her willingness to hike around in peculiar locations all serve the reader well on this sobering journey.


Book Discussions at the Library April 2014

March 24, 2014 by Reader's Connection

March came in like a lion and is going out like a grizzly bear. April will be here, soon, though, and the city will experience a blizzard of book discussions rather than the other kind of blizzard.

Booth Tarkington’s The Magnificent Ambersons will be discussed at the Central Library on Tuesday, April 1st at 6:00 p.m.

The Magnificent Ambersons


The Magnificent Ambersons is perhaps Tarkington’s best novel. [It is] a typical story of an American family and town–the great family that locally ruled the roost and vanished virtually in a day as the town spread and darkened into a city. This novel no doubt was a permanent page in the social history of the United States, so admirably conceived and written was the tale of the Ambersons, their house, their fate and the growth of the community in which they were submerged in the end. — Van Wyck Brooks



Dashiell Hammett’s classic mystery The Maltese Falcon will be discussed at the Warren Library on Thursday, April 3rd at 10:30 a.m.

The Maltese FalconDashiell Hammett’s third novel, The Maltese Falcon (1930), set the standard by which all subsequent detective fiction would be judged. Hammett’s clean prose and sharp ear for dialogue produced an exceedingly readable novel with enough twists to keep the reader turning the pages in search of clues. Set in San Francisco, the story takes place over a six-day period, beginning Wednesday, December 5, and ending Monday morning, December 10, 1928. A tough, independent detective, Samuel Spade is hired by the beautiful and mysterious “Miss Wonderly,” who walks into his office pleading desperately for help finding her sister. This bogus job gets Spade’s partner, Miles Archer, and a thug named Thursby killed that same night. Though he disliked Archer, Spade’s personal moral code dictates that “when a man’s partner is killed he’s supposed to do something about it.” — The Big Read


The Scarlet Letter
The Shared Reading Group at Spades Park Library, after a period of reading short stories, has begun another novel, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.

The group plans to meet every Friday, the 4th, 11th, 18th and 25th, from 10:00 to 11:30. No preparation is required, but if you want to read aloud you’ll probably get the chance.

Refreshments are served, and as a veteran of the group I can say that they are usually superb.



Alexander McCall Smith’s Trains and Lovers will be discussed at the Franklin Road Library on Monday, April 7th at 6:30 p.m.

Trains and Lovers
The human yearning for love–”to give it and to receive it in that familiar battle that all of us fight with loneliness”–is at the heart of McCall Smith’s wistful stand-alone novel, as four strangers on an Edinburgh-to-London rail journey share stories of romance both thwarted and fulfilled. Art history student Andrew tells how he fell for the daughter of a disapproving business magnate. Hugh thinks his schoolteacher girlfriend might have an assumed identity. David recalls his unrequited affection for another man during summers spent in rural Maine. And in the book’s most affecting tale, Kay recounts her Scottish father’s emigration to the desolate Australian outback and pen pal courtship of her mother. VERDICT Subtle wit, leisurely pacing, copious references to W.H. Auden–the hallmarks of McCall Smith’s storytelling are in full force here, as is his penchant for quiet vignettes. — Library Journal


The Wayne Library will host a discussion of Deborah Moggach’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel on Monday, April 7th at 6:30 p.m.

The Best Exotic Marigold HotelThis book came about because I’d been thinking a lot about growing older, about what is going to happen to us all. The population is ageing – for the first time the over 50s outnumber the rest of us – and it’s getting older. Where are we all going to live? Care homes are closing, pensions are dwindling, and life expectancy is rising. Then I had a brainwave. We live in a global age – the internet, cheap travel, satellite TV…when it comes to goods and services it hardly matters where we live. “Geography is history.” Our healthcare is sourced from the developing countries; how about turning the tables and outsourcing the elderly? How about setting up retirement homes in developing countries where it’s sunny and labour is cheap? So I created an Indian whizz-kid called Sonny who sets up a retirement home in Bangalore and fills it with Brits. – Author’s website.


Per Petterson’s novel Out Stealing Horses will be discussed at the Fountain Square Library on Thursday, April 10th at 1:30 p.m.

Out Stealing HorsesThree years after his wife’s accidental death, Trond Sander, 67, settles into an isolated cabin near Norway’s southeastern border with Sweden. It’s where he last saw his father at the end of summer 1948. Then 15 and full grown, Trond helped harvest the timber . . . He also suddenly lost his local best friend, Jon, when, after an early morning spent “stealing horses”–that is, taking an equine joyride–Jon inadvertently allowed a gun accident that killed one of his 10-year-old twin brothers and guiltily ran away to sea. When that summer was over, Trond went back to Oslo, but his father stayed with Jon’s mother, his lover since they met in the Resistance during World War II. . . . The novel’s incidents and lush but precise descriptions of forest and river, rain and snow, sunlight and night skies are on a par with those of Cather, Steinbeck, Berry, and Hemingway, and its emotional force and flavor are equivalent to what those authors can deliver, too. — Booklist


The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, a novel by Rachel Joyce, will be discussed at the Irvington Library on Thursday, April 10th at 1:30 p.m.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold FrySoon after his retirement from a brewery in a quiet English village, Harold Fry receives a surprising letter. It’s from beloved friend and colleague Queenie Hennessy, whom he hasn’t heard from in 20 years, writing from a distant terminal cancer ward to say good-bye. This letter returns Harold to a horrifically painful part of his past, threatens his already troubled marriage, and ultimately leads to a crisis that casts into doubt everything he thinks he knows about himself. He decides to embark on a 600-mile walk to say goodbye to Queenie in person. Joyce, a former actress and acclaimed BBC scriptwriter here publishing her first novel, depicts Harold’s personal crisis and the extraordinary pilgrimage it generates in masterly fashion, exploring psychological complexities with compassion and insight. The result is a novel of deep beauty and wisdom about the human condition; Harold, a deeply sympathetic protagonist, has much to teach us. — Library Journal


Author Delores Thornton will be on hand to discuss her novel Airing Dirty Linen at the East 38th Street Library on Monday, April 14th at 6:00 p.m.

Airing Dirty LinenAiring Dirty Linen is a story about 4 cousins who live together in an Inn which they manage in Indianapolis. There’s 27 year old twin brothers, Philip and Pharis, 17 year-old Eternity, and 31 year old Nairobi Dobson, our POV character (who also has a needy friend, Colleen). The Dobsons’ parents, now deceased were often involved in scandals and now it seems the sins of the fathers have returned. Nairobi prays for strength and does all she can to hold this clan together, then she meets a man who asks her to do something she’s never done, put herself first! — from the synopsis on the author’s website.


Edward Kelsey Moore’s novel The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat will be discussed at the Flanner House Library on Monday, April 14th at 6:30 p.m.

The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-EatOdette, Clarice, and Barbara Jean have been close friends since girlhood, growing up in the 1960s in the southern Indiana town of Plainview. Their personalities and cool good looks earned them the name the Supremes when they’d meet regularly to eat at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat, with Big Earl keeping a watchful eye on them. Now in middle age, the Supremes meet regularly with their husbands for dinner at Earl’s, now managed by his son. The aging Supremes and Earl’s are institutions in a black community that has seen much progress since the 1950s, when the restaurant became the first black-owned business in a racially divided town. But the town as well as the women have also seen much trouble. Odette makes time in her busy life for the regular visitations of her dead mother, Clarice copes with the humiliation of an unfaithful husband, and Barbara Jean struggles to hide her drinking to assuage the death of her child. Moore intersperses episodes from the past with their current lives, showing their enduring friendship through good times and bad. — Booklist


The Lawrence Library will host a discussion of Susan Cain’s Quiet : The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking on Tuesday, April 15th at 10:15 a.m.

Quiet : The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop TalkingIt’s hard to believe, in this world of social media and reality TV, that one-third to one-half of Americans are introverts. Yet being an introvert has become a social stigma. The rise of what the author dubs the Extrovert Ideal (in which the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight) began with Dale Carnegie and his wildly popular self-help book . . . Today, pitchmen like Tony Robbins sell the idea of extroversion as the key to greatness. But–and this is key to the author’s thesis–personal space and privacy are absolutely vital to creativity and invention, as is freedom from peer pressure. Cain also explores the fundamental differences in psychology and physiology between extroverts and introverts, showing how being an introvert or an extrovert is really a biological imperative. No slick self-help book, this is an intelligent and often surprising look at what makes us who we are. — Booklist


Reader’s of the Nora Library book discussion group will join readers from the Jordan YMCA to discuss Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s novel The Language of Flowers on Monday, April 21st at 6:30 p.m.

The Language of Flowers
Abandoned as an infant, Victoria grew up as a ward of the California foster-care system Diffenbaugh’s debut novel opens on Victoria Jones’s 18th birthday, which coincides with her emancipation from California’s foster care system. Abandoned at birth, Victoria has grown up in a string of bad foster homes, except for the one year she spent with Elizabeth, a vineyard owner who taught her the meaning of flowers. Alternating between Victoria’s brief time with Elizabeth and her unsteady attempt to face life as an adult with little education and less experience, Diffenbaugh weaves together the two narratives using the Victorian language of flowers that ultimately helps shape Victoria’s future as she grapples with a painful decision from her past. VERDICT Victoria might be her own worst enemy, but her defensiveness and self-doubt as a foster child and her desire to live beyond what she was thought capable of will sway readers toward her favor. — Library Journal


Darkness Before Dawn


On Tuesday, April 22nd, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m., the Eastside Readers Youth Book Club will discuss Darkness Before Dawn, the third book in Sharon Draper’s Hazelwood High Trilogy, at the East 38th Street Library.

Check out the reviews on Goodreads.






Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption will be discussed at the Spades Park Library on Wednesdday, April 23rd at 6:00 p.m.

Unbroken: A World War II Airman's Story of Survival, Resilience, and RedemptionA second book by the author of Seabiscuit would get noticed, even if it weren’t the enthralling and often grim story of Louie Zamperini. An Olympic runner during the 1930s, he flew B-24s during WWII. Taken prisoner by the Japanese, he endured a captivity harsh even by Japanese standards and was a physical and mental wreck at the end of the war. He was saved by the influence of Billy Graham, who inspired him to turn his life around, and afterward devoted himself to evangelical speeches and founding boys’ camps. Still alive at 93, Zamperini now works with those Japanese individuals and groups who accept responsibility for Japanese mistreatment of POWs and wish to see Japan and the U.S. reconciled. He submitted to 75 interviews with the author as well as contributing a large mass of personal records. Fortunately, the author’s skills are as polished as ever, and like its predecessor, this book has an impossible-to-put-down quality that one commonly associates with good thrillers. – Booklist








Portal, the Indianapolis Science Fiction and Fantasy Discussion Group, will meet at the Glendale Library on Sunday, April 27th from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. The theme this month: “How Much Is That Doggie in the Spaceship?” (Animals in fantasy & science fiction, from talking horses to uplifted dolphins and from telepathic cats to mutant mutts.)


Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 will be discussed at the Southport Library on Monday, April 28th at 6:30 p.m.

Fahrenheit 451

Ray Bradbury’s internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 is a masterwork of twentieth-century literature set in a bleak, dystopian future. Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television. — Barnes and Noble



On Tuesday, April 29th, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m., the Poetry Reading Program at Spades Park Library will have its third reading. Call the branch at 275-4520 to find out which poet is going to be read this month.


Did You Know about These Reference E-books?

March 21, 2014 by Reader's Connection

The library subscribes to many online databases that contain information not available through an Internet search. If you haven’t already used Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL), here’s a quick tour of what’s available in this database and where to find it on our website.

gvrlYou may have noticed that the print reference collections in our branches are much smaller than they used to be. This is a result of widespread access to information through the Internet – so much information is now available at your fingertips that once could only be found in print reference collections. However, there is still a need for authoritative sources of information, especially for school use, and sometimes in-depth information is needed that is more likely found in books than articles.

gvrlOver the past few years, reference collections in the library have gradually been making a transition from print to electronic formats, and GVRL provides many of the types of titles that would have been found in our reference areas. GVRL contains eBooks, but it can be searched as a database, a huge advantage over print versions of reference books. And there are other benefits – materials are available to all patrons simultaneously, through multiple devices, 24/7. Students are sometimes required to have at least one book source for a report or paper, and these digital versions of print resources fit the bill, as they are actual reproductions of the books that we used to have on the shelves, if one selects the PDF version.

e&audioTo get started, go to and click on ‘eBooks and Audiobooks,’ which is on the left side under ‘The Entertainment’ (you can also access GVRL from our database page at ).




This will take you to our ‘Downloadables’ page. Once there, scroll down to the ‘Articles & Reference’ section, and you’ll be able to click on ‘Gale Virtual Reference Library’. If you’re accessing from outside the library, you’ll have to sign in with your library card and pin numbers.





Here’s what you’ll see when you first get into the database:into_gvrl4
On the left, you can see the various subject arrangements – you can pull up all the titles in that subject area and search just within them. Or you can just jump in and start your search using the search box at the top.

For example, let’s suppose that you’re a student who’s doing a report on the Potawatomi Indians, one of the Native American tribes associated with Indiana. If you type in Potawatomi in the search box, you come up with a number of articles.

Here’s just part of what you’ll see:potawatomi5

potawatomi_headingI chose an article from an encyclopedia further down the list, and when I pull up the article, the heading gives me the source information, and lets me know the article is 16 pages long.

Under the heading, there’s a breakdown of the topics that I could click on directly, or I can just start reading the article.


You can also click on all kinds of related subjects, shown in the left-hand column.


Let’s try another topic that illustrates how to search within one subject area. Back on the GVRL home page, click on one of the subjects shown on the GVRL home page – we’ll try ‘Medicine’:







Notice the box just above the book cover images on the right that says ‘Search within Medicine.’


Let’s use ‘thyroid’ as our search term, and here’s our result:


You can see that there’s a lot of information available, and you can limit your search in various ways by selecting limiters in the left-hand column. All of the books, and the articles within them, provide citations for bibliographic purposes (again, very handy for students).
There is so much information in the ebooks found in this database.

However, there are some differences when compared to our other ebook sources such as Overdrive. While you can download specific articles or sections, you can’t download an entire ebook (would you really want to try and put an entire encyclopedia on your phone or tablet?).

On the plus side, GVRL provides machine-translated versions of articles for languages such as Spanish, Chinese (both simplified and traditional), Russian, French, German, Japanese, and a number of others. You can also listen to an article, which is great for students who learn better by hearing than reading, or for people with visual impairments. We’ve just scratched the surface of what’s available in this database; enjoy exploring this great collection of online reference books further by watching this tutorial which covers the basics in more depth.


–Selector Kathy Barnard 


2 Announcements, One Regarding Spring and the Other Regarding the Indiana Authors Award.

March 20, 2014 by Reader's Connection

1. If you didn’t know, spring starts today, Thursday, March 20th, at 12:57 p.m. . So while you’re munching on your Jimmy John’s at lunchtime, look outside (if you have a window), and allow yourself some inner joy.

2. REMINDER: Nominations for the Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Awards must be received by tomorrow, Friday, March 21st. Nominating can be done on the web, so you still have time to do this, if there’s an author you meant to salute.

Click on the IAA icon for the info about the award categories and other nominating info.

Have a great spring. Nominate a favorite author.