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LibraryReads August 2014

July 21, 2014 by Reader's Connection

From seven states, reviews of ten books being released in August and late July. For the first time since I started posting this map, all the reviewing states are contiguous. Good thing I’m not prone to conspiracy theories.
Two from Indiana libraries this month!


One Kick by Chelsea Cain

One Kick


Kick Lannigan survived being kidnapped as a child. Now, at twenty-one, determined never to be a victim again, she has reinvented herself. Martial arts and weapons handling are just a few of the skills she has learned over the years. Kick catches the attention of John Bishop, a mystery man with access to unlimited funds, and together they go after a cabal of child pornographers. A read-in-one-sitting, edge-of-your-seat thriller. — Elizabeth Kanouse, Denville Public Library, Denville, NJ



Lucky Us by Amy Bloom

Lucky Us

Is a family the people you are born to, or the people who you find along the way? That’s what Bloom explores in this novel set in pre- and post-WWII Ohio, Los Angeles, New York and Germany. The story follows resourceful Eva, who was abandoned by her mother at an early age, and her sister Iris, an aspiring actress who tries to find love at a time when her kind of love must be secretive. Every character is beautifully drawn, warm, and believable. — Kathryn Hassert, Henrietta Hankin Branch Library, Chester Springs, PA




Heroes Are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Heroes Are My Weakness

Any Susan Elizabeth Phillips novel is going to make it onto my must-read list, but this one is particularly wonderful, and here’s why: she creates, then cheerfully destroys, the romance cliche of the brooding hero with a dark secret who lives in a crumbling mansion and captivates a plucky heroine. The hero is a horror novelist, and the heroine a failed actress-turned-puppeteer. This warm, witty, comedy-drama is a perfect summer read. — Donna Matturri, Pickerington Public Library, Pickerington, OH




Lock In by John Scalzi

Lock In


There’s been a good run of fantasy and science fiction books this year. Joining the list of great fantastical reads is John Scalzi’s Lock In. Scalzi is best known for his military SF (especially the Old Man’s War series), so his latest is a change of pace. A blending of SF and police procedural that hits every note just right. — Jane Jorgenson, Madison Public Library, Madison, WI





The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

The Miniaturist


A dollhouse whose figures and furnishings foretell life events, mysterious notes, family secrets and the powerful guild and church of 1686 Amsterdam. All these elements combine for an engaging story of a young bride’s struggle to be the ‘architect of her own fortune.’ — Elizabeth Angelastro, Manlius Library, Manlius, NY






Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies


A horrible act of violence occurs at the Pirriwee Public School’s trivia night fundraiser for parents, but what happened and who was involved? The novel begins six months before that fateful evening and lets us in on the lives of single mother Jane, divorcee Madeline, and Celeste, who secretly suffers from domestic abuse. Big Little Lies is another page-turning read from Moriarty that had me gasping with surprise at the end. — Lora Bruggeman, Indian Prairie Public Library, Darien, IL



The Truth about Leo by Katie MacAlister

The Truth about Leo


I always adore Katie MacAlister! Her sense of humor is outstanding, and her heroines have real bodies. This is another installment in the delightful historical Noble series, and it doesn’t disappoint. Fans of humor with their romance are sure to enjoy this regency romp. — Jessica C. Williams, Westlake Porter Public Library, Westlake, OH






An Unwilling Accomplice by Charles Todd

An Unwilling Accomplice


Bess Crawford, a courageous World War I battlefield nurse, is faced with another complex mystery. A patient about to receive a high honor from the King manages to disappear on Bess’s watch, sending her life into a tailspin. In order to clear her name, she must find the missing patient and find out why he is now accused of murder. Intelligent and fantastic, just like the others in this series! — Monicah Fratena, La Porte County Public Library, La Porte, IN




The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman

The Magician’s Land


Even if you haven’t read the first two books in the wonderful Magicians Trilogy, you will enjoy the escapades of Quentin Coldwater. Now 30 years old, Quentin finds himself back at Brakebills, experiencing school from the teacher’s side of the desk. But his adventures are far from over! Although I’m not generally a fantasy reader, I’ve been rooting for Quentin ever since I first picked up this series and am sad to see it end. — Kelly Currie, Delphi Public Library, Delphi, IN




The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar

The Story Hour


Another beautifully written novel by Thrity Umrigar. A relationship develops between Maggie, a psychologist, and Lakshmi, a troubled Indian woman. As their stories develop, it is hard to figure out which woman does more to impact the other’s life. Highly recommended. — Ellen Firer, Merrick Library, Merrick, NY


Indiana Authors Awards – 2014 Winners & Finalists Announced

July 17, 2014 by Reader's Connection

The Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Awards will be presented on Saturday, October 25th. The winners of the National and Regional Author Awards, and the Finalists for the Emerging Author Awards, were announced this week.

Click on the authors’ names to see more of their titles, or their titles in other formats.

Winner–National Author Award: Michael Shelden


Mark Twain: Man in White: The Grand Adventure of His Final Years

Mark Twain: Man in White: The Grand Adventure of His Final YearsOf Mark Twain in his final years, William Dean Howells remarks, “His literature grew less and less and his life more and more.” In Twain’s remarkable late-life surge in vitality, Sheldon discerns the surprising origin of the author’s iconic image. Challenging the widespread belief that Twain dwindled into impotent despair, Sheldon chronicles his last years as the triumph of an exuberant showman. This, after all, is the man who unexpectedly appears for a Congressional hearing clad in a stunning white suit and who never thereafter abandons his new sartorial luster. This, too, is the comic genius who in his seventies still sparkles with irreverent wit. Though it flashes through a few final published works (including a spoof on the afterlife and an iconoclastic swipe at Shakespeare), Twain’s septuagenarian wit mostly serves to punctuate an amazing range of nonliterary enterprises: building a new family mansion, waging legal battles to secure his legacy, underwriting a theater for impoverished children, claiming an honorary degree from Oxford. Yet, as Shelden recognizes, that wit ultimately reflects personal resilience in the face of financial reverses and family tragedy. Even on his deathbed, Twain rallies to bid farewell with wisecracks. Impressive scholarship delivers the authentic accents of a truly American voice — Booklist


Winner–Regional Author Award: Norbert Krapf

Somewhere in Southern Indiana: Poems of Midwestern OriginsMr. Krapf gave me permission last year to use two poems from his 1993 collection Somewhere in Southern Indiana: Poems of Midwestern Origins.

Here’s a link to those. Neither was from the section of the book called “The Woods of Southern Indiana,” so now I’ve asked for & received his permission to reprint “Indigo Bunting.” Thanks to him for that.

If you click on the author’s name up above, you’ll see that he has released several books since Somewhere. I seem to be hung up on it.


Indigo Bunting

Back when I was
as convinced as only
a young skeptic can be

that I would never meet
anyone to fall in love with

would never wake up
between warm sheets
breathing in unison
with the right woman

would certainly never marry

couldn’t conceivably know
the pleasure of looking
deep into the eyes
of a son or daughter

I was walking alone
along a winding rockroad
in my beloved hills
of southern Indiana.

I was kicking rocks
with my right foot
into dry Queen Anne’s lace
in the hot August sun.

A faint whir skimmed
across those flat
tops of snowy white.

I looked up just in time

to see a streak of blue
so pure and sweet
I thought I had never
looked up at the sky.

For the first time,
my friend, I was
ashamed of my certainty.

This blue is for you.


Finalists–Emerging Author Award: Jessica Brockmole
Letters from SkyeLetters from SkyeBrockmole uses letters to tell a remarkable story of two women, their loves, their secrets, and two world wars, cutting to the important matters that letter writers struggle to put into just the right words. In 1912, young poet Mrs. Elspeth Dunn, who has never left Scotland’s Isle of Skye because of her fear of boats, receives her first fan letter from David Graham, a college student in Urbana, Ill. They begin a long correspondence. After Elspeth’s husband goes off to war, she overcomes her fear and crosses to London to meet briefly with David, who is on his way to France to serve in the American Ambulance Field Service. Interspersed with Elspeth and David’s letters are 1940 missives from Margaret, Elspeth’s daughter, to her uncle and her fiancé as she tries to find out about her father, since Elspeth will not talk about her past. The beauty of Scotland, the tragedy of war, the longings of the heart, and the struggles of a family torn apart by disloyalty are brilliantly drawn, leaving just enough blanks to be filled by the reader’s imagination. — Publishers Weekly
Clifford Garstang

Mr Garstang’s titles will soon go on order.

zhangWhat the Zhang Boys Know has a dozen chapters, each one a vivid short story in itself. Garstang makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts. The lives of the inhabitants of a condominium in Washington, D.C’s Chinatown are told separately AND as part of a web of entanglements. The entrances and exits are handled with the deftness of a French comedy, but the empathy of the author brings all the characters achingly alive. What the Zhang Boys Know is a wonderful and haunting book. – John Casey, author of Compass Rose and Spartina, winner of the National Book Award


Kelsey Timmerman

Where Am I Eating? : An Adventure Through the Global Food Economy

Where Am I Eating? : An Adventure Through the Global Food EconomyAmerica now imports twice as much food as it did a decade ago. What does this increased reliance on imported food mean for the people around the globe who produce our food? Kelsey Timmerman set out on a global quest to meet the farmers and fisherman who grow and catch our food, and also worked alongside them: loading lobster boats in Nicaragua, splitting cocoa beans with a machete in Ivory Coast, and hauling tomatoes in Ohio. Where Am I Eating? tells fascinating stories of the farmers and fishermen around the world who produce the food we eat, explaining what their lives are like and how our habits affect them. — Publisher’s note


Oh, come on, Cress! Get a hold of yourself!

July 15, 2014 by Reader's Connection

Off CourseThat’s what I kept muttering while reading Michelle Huneven’s new novel Off Course.

Cressida Hartley would like to have been an artist, but doesn’t have the talent. To her surprise, she has a talent for economics, so that’s what she ends up studying in college. She has retreated to her parents’ A-frame up in the mountains to write her doctoral dissertation on art in the marketplace.

But the little community in the Sierras–which was supposed to turn into a resort, way back when, and never quite managed–has its own distracting culture; and Cress goes off course. One of her love affairs becomes an obsession. It was this second affair, insanely protracted, that had me muttering to Cress, and thinking This is my least favorite Michelle Huneven novel.

But guess what. I finished the novel last night, and there are scenes and characters and wild animals and a bearskin (in the trunk of Cress’s Saab) that are with me this morning. This is a strange, brave novel. Ms. Huneven took some risks, and has left me with a vivid sense of the wilds of California, of the way people are perched there, and of the ways a person–a middle-class person, educated and all that–can go off into the wilds herself.


Come & enjoy Wallace Stevens at Spades Park

July 12, 2014 by Reader's Connection

Selected Poems
The Spades Park Poetry Club will meet again on the last Tuesday of the month, July 29th, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

Neophytes, scholars, and everyone in between are invited to join the Poetry Club in our reading and discussion of the great 20th century poet-philosopher, Wallace Stevens. The group leader will have selected a few poems, but bringing and sharing your personal favorites is highly encouraged!

Whoa-ho! Really? Bring a favorite? Bloggers are always willing to hit you with their favorites. I don’t think “Of Mere Being” is in the public domain, yet, so here’s “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.”


Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.



I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.



The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.



A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.



I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.



Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.



O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?



I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.



When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.



At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.



He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.



The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.



It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.


Nine Gates : Entering the Mind of Poetry

I thought Jane Hirshfield said some interesting things about this poem in her book Nine Gates : Entering the Mind of Poetry–but hey, you don’t have to do any extra reading in preparation. The fearless Patrick Dugan will be here to guide the reading and discussion.

That’s Tuesday, July 29th, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m., at the Spades Park Library.


Ben H. Winters to visit Indy Reads Books

July 10, 2014 by Reader's Connection

World of TroubleAs I announced with my hysteria nearly subdued in the July LibraryReads post, the third volume in the Last Policeman trilogy is due to be released this month. It’s called World of Trouble. Detective Hank Palace will go on fighting crime, even as the earth is about to be whacked by an asteroid.

Author Ben H.Winters will appear at Indy Reads Books on Saturday, July 12th, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. I cannot improve on the announcement  posted on the bookstore’s website.

Join author and raconteur Ben H. Winters to celebrate the release of ‘World of Trouble’, the concluding volume in the Edgar-award-winning Last Policeman trilogy. Ben will be reading, signing, delivering his patented Five-Minute History of Crime Fiction, giving away Last Policeman themed prizes (like limited-edition fan art and coffee beans), and playing a ukulele medley of Detective Palace’s favorite Bob Dylan songs. A lively author event.

If you haven’t read the earlier books in the trilogy, The Last Policeman and Countdown City, it’s not too late. I mean, it is kind of too late in the books, with the asteroid coming and everything, but you’ll probably have time to read this wonderful trilogy.

Indy Reads Books
911 Massachusetts Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46202
(317) 384-1496