Monthly Archives: May 2012

Staff Picks – Due or Die

DUE OR DIE: A Library Lover’s Mystery by Jenn McKinlay

This book is indeed a treat for library lovers, but it goes way beyond the fun of reading about the imaginative children’s programs or how to find the answer to a puzzling reference question.

The story is set in Connecticut during the winter, and the rather harsh storm that occurs plays an important part in the safety of our heroine as well as allowing a backdrop to the crime.

Lindsey Norris is fairly new to the community as the library director. When the Friends of the Library group has to determine a new president, Lindsey finds herself accused of playing favorites. The curmudgeon who was voted out chooses to take himself away from the scene, but his crazy female admirer causes all sorts of trouble. Meanwhile, the husband of the new president is murdered.

Uninvited is a puppy that was jammed into the book drop box during the cold spell. Lindsey finds herself the rescuer of the puppy, who promises undying love and devotion, but . . . Lindsey says no, she doesn’t want a dog. Well, you can figure this one out.

Lindsey also has two male human admirers, who add spice to this lively tale.

Every page counts in this book about library life, female friends, murder, romance, and puppy love. Check it out in the adult fiction collection.

Recommended by: Paula at Main

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Staff Picks – Confessions of a Pagan Nun

Confessions of a Pagan Nun by Kate Horsley

Confessions of a Pagan Nun is a historical novel set in Ireland around 500 AD, in the early days of the introduction of Christianity to the British Isles. The story is told from the first person perspective of a woman named Gwynneve, who is the scribe for a small convent dedicated to Saint Brigit. She tells us the story of her life from her childhood in a small pagan community, her training by a Druid in her youth, and her time in the Christian convent.

Throughout the novel we see the themes of colonialism as the new religion sweeps Britain. The struggles of right and wrong are represented not through one group being “right” and the other “wrong” but, through the narrator’s experience, that both systems include individuals of great faith as well as those using faith as a means of gaining personal and political control over others. As Gwynneve tries to reconcile the beliefs of her childhood with those of the new religion, we see not only the effects of her socialization but faith is shown as a personal journey.

Gwynneve resides in a liminal state between two belief systems. Although she is an extraordinary woman for her time in her ability to read and write, her ability to choose leaving her family and first husband to pursue her Druid education was not considered deviant in her culture as presented in the novel. The author addresses issues of feminism through Gwynnerve’s personal journey and the changes the time she lived in brought to women in society.

Furthermore, though told from Gwynnerve’s perspective as a middle-aged adult, the novel is also a coming of age story about a young woman trying to find her place in the world. Though she lives in a time, place, and society very different from our own, we see her struggles, dreams, and triumphs such as dealing with the loss of her mother, her romance with her Druid teacher, her longing for a family of her own, and her faith journey as very recognizable human experiences which transcend the boundaries of time.

My main criticism of this novel is that the author includes a “Translator’s Note” to introduce the work in what seems a cliché attempt to give authority to the text and present it as fact rather than fiction. It seems Horsley has done her research, but the novel is, of course, completely fictionalized. It seems to me that although this serves as a way to settle the reader into the time period and briefly introduce a historical context, it is not necessary to attempt to give the already captivating narrative more weight by presenting it as more fact than fiction. Though Horsley does include Gaelic terms, which she translates through footnotes and a glossary at the end of the novel, her language overall is very approachable. It is not overly embellished with lavish detail; however, she still manages to convey a distinct feeling of a time and place very different from the contemporary world.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, which is brief enough to complete in one day, and recommend it to fans of historical fiction, those interested in British history, and stories with a strong central female character.

Pages: 188
Genre: Adult historical fiction
Location/Callnumber: Raleigh County PL Fiction F Horsley C2001

Recommended by: Crystal at Main

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Staff Picks – The Barefoot Sisters: Southbound

The Barefoot Sisters: Southbound by Lucy and Susan Letcher a.k.a. Isis and jackrabbit

There is a glossary for the Appalachian Trail. MEGA is short for the hike from Maine to Georgia, some 2,160 miles; GAME is from Georgia to Maine. “Sobo” and “nobo” are short for the hikers going southbound or northbound. “Thru-hikers” are those intent on hiking the whole distance. “Zero” is a rest day, where no hiking is done.

The zero days occur mainly because of inclement weather or injuries, but sometimes they are just days to replenish a hiker’s food supply and motivation, along with taking a shower. The times that the heroines of this book most needed a few of these days were when they faced snowstorms, knee-high snow depths, gusting wind, zero temperatures, and near-zero visibility as they traversed the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia during December and January.

Lucy and Susan decided to take time to hike the A.T. after Susan graduated from college. They were 25 and 21, respectively. The other decision they made was to hike it barefoot. After a few days acclimating their feet to the ground with its little stones, tree roots, etc., they happily kept their shoes in their packs as they got used to walking in sync with the earth’s surface. Their reputation as The Barefoot Sisters quickly spread and along the whole trail other hikers marveled at their skill and were thrilled to meet the two young women in person.

Other hikers were plentiful, each with his/her own trail name (Lucy and Susan soon adopted Isis and jackrabbit as theirs), and a firm camaraderie built up with many of them. Even when not hiking together, individuals, couples, pairs, man and dog, and even a family of 7 (2 parents and 5 children from teenager to toddler) frequently met at shelters or in towns when a resupply was needed.

This book is a journey and an adventure built around the experience of hiking the Appalachian Trail. The reader not only gets immersed in the hiking itself, but also in the human nature stories. After a few chapters, it is easy for the reader to get excited along with Isis and jackrabbit when Waterfall or Black Forest or Lash or Heald & Annie (dog) come into their path again.

Even if you are not as enthralled as I am with the A.T., I believe you would enjoy this fantastic story. You might even join me in reading their second book where the sisters hike from Georgia back up to Maine!

Found in Adult Nonfiction 917.404 Letcher (c2009).

Recommended by: Paula at Main

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Staff Picks – The Morganville Vampires

The Morganville Vampires Series by Rachel Caine

To start out let me say this – if you don’t generally like Young Adult fiction because of the teenage drama, don’t pick up this series. There is a lot to it besides of the blossoming relationships, but since the narrator is a 16/17 year old girl, of course her first ‘serious’ boyfriend situation will be fraught with insecurities and a constant rollercoaster of emotions. It also, according to the author, is not really suitable for kids under 13. With that disclaimer in place, let me say the most important thing:

I LOVE this series. It’s fast paced and engaging, and if you aren’t kept wondering what is going to happen next, it’s only because you’re so caught up in the moment that you don’t have a thought to spare for the future. The protagonist is someone that you can really root for through the things she deals with, and the other characters have their own interesting quirks.

This is the premise: in a small West Texas college town, only the long-term residents know the secret of the town.. It’s run by vampires. Through her own curiosity and a series of mishaps, prodigy and 16 year old college freshman Clare Danvers learns this secret, and carves out her own unique place in the tense and often violent hierarchy of humans and vampires. Along the way she makes good friends and terrible enemies, and always ends up in the thick of any catastrophes in the town. She could have easily been written very flatly, or been an annoying character, but instead the child prodigy stereotype is not overplayed and instead Clare is a relatable – but still brilliant – heroine.

So far 15 books are contracted for this series. The 13th is scheduled to come out this November and number 12, Black Dawn, was just released on May 1st. Each of these books has been positively devoured by me as I get them – I think the longest one of them took to read was 2 days. They’re not overly long or wordy. So don’t let the number of books in the series deter you, go out and pick them up!

Recommended by: Ashley at Main

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