Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart

wicked plantsWicked Plants: the Weed that Killed Abraham Lincoln’s Mother by Amy Stewart is a delightfully gruesome catalog of a great variety of harmful plants and just exactly what they can inflict on you. This alphabetical list of plants that can poison, strangle, paralyze, induce hallucinations or heart attack or merely cause pain and suffering is illustrated with appropriately gothic drawings. Many of the plants are surprisingly common – castor bean plants and angel’s trumpet for instance. Others are bizarre and nearly fantastical.  Stewart’s writing style is witty and entertaining and her love and knowledge of all things botanical shines throughout the book.

Amy Stewart’s website has lots more info, including interviews with Amy and news about her upcoming events. Amy is the author of several thoughtful gardening-related books including the excellent Flower Confidential about the floral industry.

Don’t miss the chance to see some of those dastardly plants up-close when Vander Veer Botanical Park Conservatory features ten of them in their special exhibit, running concurrently with their annual Chrysanthemum Festival, mid October through mid November. Excerpts from the book will be featured in story boards displayed throughout the exhibit.

Conservatory hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 10am – 4pm. Admission is $1 for adults; children under 16 are free but must be accompanied by an adult. For more information about the display, contact Paula Witt at 563-323-3298.

Fledgling by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

submitted by Georgann

FledgingI’m so glad to read this newest offering about the Liaden Universe fro Lee and Miller. They have become some of my favorite Sci-fi authors. I have loved and enjoyed each of their books I have read so far! I am glad to report that each of their books in the series is being republished and DPL is in the process of acquiring them all. Even if you aren’t a Sci-fi fan, I think anyone who likes adventures with a great romance tossed in would enjoy these books.

Theo Waitley, the main character in Fledgling, was introduced at the very end of a previous book, I Dare. I was left quite interested in finding out more about her story. Actually, each of the books left me felling like that. I didn’t want them to end! Theo is coming of age in a culture with stringent rules and not much room for awkwardness. Theo is on the verge of being coerced to conform to the standard. Meanwhile, her mother, who is a professor for the planet’s galaxy-renowned university, discovers that someone has been tampering with the school’s library. To save Theo and the university’s reputation, the two travel off-world.

This was such a fun story! I am eagerly anticipating the next book, Salutations.

Napoleon Lives!

I miss the camaraderie of the Napoleon Dynamite days. You know, when EVERYONE was voting for Pedro and drawing ligers? Luckily, the spirit of Napoleon lives on and, by watching these few movies, the world can continue enjoying the pleasures of really awkward nerdiness:


The Sasquatch Gang, has a strong comic-book-comes-alive feel and stars Justin Long as a burnout annoyed by the LARPing (LARP stands for Live Action Role Playing) of his geeky teenage neighbor, Gavin, and his friends, Sophie and Hobie. However, when evidence of a bigfoot is found in the nearby park, everyone sees it as an opportunity to improve their situations. I just really love movies where guys act tough with each other and look silly.


Eagle vs. Shark is a quiet love story between two people trying to find confidence; Lily needs confidence in herself and Jarrod needs his family’s confidence. Unfortunatley, Jarrod, played by Jermaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords, is kind of a jerk so I can totally sympathize with his family not taking his various ninja moves serious. That is, until Lily’s faith in him convinces me otherwise. The movie is also very New Zealand-y which makes it very hip; New Zealand humor is the new British.

Extra bonus points for the two actresses that play the lead roles in these two movies: Loren Horsley as Lily and Addie Land as Sophie for being lovely AND nerdy.

Every Last Cuckoo by Kate Maloy

every last cuckooEvery Last Cuckoo is a tender book which will pull at your heartstrings.  The protagonist is a 75 year old woman, Sarah Lucas, who is still very much in love with her husband, Charles.  When Charles dies unexpectedly (yes, even 80 year olds die unexpectedly) Sarah is left alone in her rural Vermont home, tentatively dealing with her grief and loss.  Yet she is not alone for long.  First, her rebellious granddaughter, Lottie, seeks refuge with Sarah away from her overbearing parents.  Lottie is quickly joined by a few of her friends with family problems of their own.

Others in the community begin to look to Sarah to shelter those in need — to harbor the young mother who has been beaten by her husband — to temporarily house those without heat — to offer quiet sanctuary for an author returned from Israel.  Each finds their way to Sarah’s doorstep and each contributes to the growing household in their own way.  Sarah finds time to take long walks in the woods and to reflect upon her life.  In doing so, the reader also comes to a better understanding of what it means to live, albeit imperfectly, a full and gracious life.  This is an easy read with book club questions included at the end.

System Upgrade?

windows-7-logoNo, nothing changing on this library’s end.  But maybe the box you’re viewing the DPL Info Cafe on has seen better days, particularly if it is a PC.

The brain trust in Redmond, WA has all but outright said that Windows Vista was an flop.  This is evidenced by their record-breaking rollout of Windows 7 in about half the time.  Some could argue that they had no choice, as Windows Vista was terrible and no one was buying it.

There does, however, seem to be a lot of consensus by computer columnists and the thousands of beta-testing regular folks  about Windows 7 as more than just attonement for that sin…it may be that rationalization that you need to buy a new system to take advantage of it.

Here’s what we know so far:

-It’s not the resource hog that Vista was.  Some people have been testing it on ancient systems and find its demands are strikingly similar to Windows XP.

-A lot of people have been tolerating their old 6-7 year old boxes in anticipation of this release.  There is a significant uptick in demand for parts right now, a month before Windows 7 hits shelves.

-Windows 7 hits shelves on October 22nd.  College students will get it at the insanely low price of $30 dollars.    You will not.

-We’ve purchased a number of books in anticipation of Windows 7 rollout.  If you think you’re going to get it anyways, might not hurt to bone up ahead of time.

Windows 7: The Missing Manual

Windows 7 100 Most Asked Questions

Windows 7 Plain and Simple

Windows 7 Inside Out

YA Spotlight: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

It is pretty safe to say that Young Adult Literature isn’t just for teenagers anymore. But now that you’ve finished Stephenie Meyer’s Breaking Dawn and know the fates of Edward, Bella, and Jacob–what should you read next?

YA Spotlight on:


As one of the most talked about books last year, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, is not for the faint of heart. Set in an alternate future where the United States is divided into 12 Districts controlled by the powerful Capitol who, in order remind the people of their control and as a punishment for the actions of no-longer-existing District 13, forces each district to send a boy and a girl (between the ages of 12-18) to compete in the Hunger Games–a glorified competition where 24 children are forced to fight until only one survives. The story begins when Katniss Everdeen’s younger sister is chosen to be District 12’s female competitor and Katniss immediately volunteers to go in her place. So now Katniss has only two options: kill or be killed. But those options don’t work when she discovers there are certain people she cannot kill and others who cannot kill her.

Yup, this book has it all: science fiction, love triangle, politics, death, pretty clothes, sisterhood…and the best part? It is part of a trilogy!!! Book 2 of the Hunger Games, Catching Fire, was published just last month!

World Adventure Series

World Adventure seriesThe library and the Putnam Museum are partnering to bring you a special ’round-the-world tour. Each month, a book discussion will be part of  a travelogue series  –  to Tuscany, the Pacific Coast, Fiji, Sweden and Sahel (West Africa).

At the “Inside the Tuscan Hills” show on October 13th,  the group will discuss The Sixteen Pleasures by Robert Hellenga.

This novel by the Knox College literature professor is set in 1966 Florence. The heroine heads off to Italy to become on of the “mud angels” – volunteers who race to save priceless boks and artwork. Hellenga is skilled at both characterization and depicting Italian culture. Insider knowledge of book restoration and conservation is woven into the plot.

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson  is the choice for November 17th’s “Pacific Coast, Top to Bottom.”

Set on a fictional island off the coast of Washington in the l950’s, the story revolves around the death and possible murder of a World War II veteran and fisherman. One of the suspects is a first-generation Japanese American, and so resentment of the recent internment and other restrictions  are brought into play. The setting is hauntingly beautiful and evocative of  the region’s painful history.

Call the Putnam Museum & Imax Theatre at  563.324.1933 for details.

Frugal Librarian #16: H1N1 sauce

frugallibrarianI wouldn’t recommend slathering pork spare ribs with it, but a hasty palm swab might be in order down for the next few months any time you shake hands, touch doorknobs/railings, or handle money.

But why pay “the man” a hefty price for the brand name Purel?   I found this outstanding recipe for DIY sanitizer!  I mean, who doesn’t have a whole bunch of grain alcohol lying around?

“Why would you want to make your own hand sanitizer when you can pick up a bottle in most stores? Many reasons: It could be cheaper to make in bulk, you get to control the ingredients (which is great for those with allergy issues), and you have the peculiar right to brag about yet another thing you made yourself.
You can earn those eco-friendly DIYer brag rights with instructions from Eco-centric blog, EcoSalon:
In a small bowl, mix ¼ cup each of pure aloe vera gel and grain alcohol with 5 drops of tea tree essential oil. To make it smell less pungent, add 5 drops of your favorite fragrance oil. Using a funnel, pour this blend into a bottle small enough to stash in your purse. (Rinse out an empty tube of makeup or lotion to make use of waste.)”

Might not hurt  to get that flu shot, either.  But if you’re one of those folks that don’t believe in vaccinations, raid grandpa’s still and put some uh that thar Bed Bathtub n’ Beyonder stuff in it.

Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith

submitted by Georgann

MoralityI have thoroughly enjoyed these mild-mannered detective stories from the No. 1 Ladies Detective series, set in the country of Botswana, Africa. The characters are engaging, coming from a world-view different from my own, and a society with a somewhat different set of mores. Still, it is easy to identify with them and a delight to read about their adventures. The characters struggle with a rapidly changing Africa, and with changes that are good and not-so-good. Their cases are interesting, often solved with intuition and plenty of footwork. In Morality for Beautiful Girls, detective Precious Ramotswe investigates an alleged poisoning, and checks the moral character of the four finalists of the Miss Beauty and Integrity Contest.

For me, the best part of the books is the philosophizing, of which there is plenty, for a detective must understand human nature. How often it makes me smile or even laugh out loud. With 10 books in the series, I expect to be entertained for some time!

New DVDs for October

October 6

life in ruinsMy life in Ruins – Nia Vardalos, Richard Dreyfuss

Georgia is a recently laid-off, though anything but laid-back, history professor turned travel guide to a motley crew of hilariously crass tourists. Georgia is fed up and ready to give up, until her new confidant Irv opens her eyes and heart to a simple fact: There’s no finer way for a woman to find her kefi (a.k.a. mojo) than to lose herself in the arms of the ‘Greek god’ who’s been hiding right under her nose.

year one

Year One – Jack Black

Zed and Oh, a couple of numbskull cavemen from the year one, set out on a journey into the ancient world when their laziness gets them banished from their primitive village.

October 13

american violetAmerican Violet – Charles Dutton, Alfre Woodward, Xzibit

A young woman is wrongly accused of selling drugs near a school and is offered a plea deal that would force her to admit to a crime she didn’t commit. Rather than ruin her life with a conviction, she decides to sue the DA in a case that changes her life as well as the laws of her state. Based on a true story.

proposalThe Proposal – Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds

High-powered book editor Maggie is everyone’s worst nightmare: ruthless, driven, and tactless. When she finds herself faced with deportation back to Canada, she coerces her much younger assistant into marrying her. However, when the government becomes suspicious, they embark upon a charade in order to make the marriage seem legitimate.

October 20

transformersTransformers: Revenge of the Fallen – Josh Duhamel, Megan Fox, Shia Labeouf

When college-bound Sam Witwicky learns the truth about the ancient origins of the Transformers, he must accept his destiny and join Optimus Prime and Bumblebee in their epic battle against the Decepticons, who have returned stronger than ever with a plan to destroy the world.

October 27

iceageIce Age 3 – Dawn of the Dinosaurs

Just when you thought they couldn’t get any cooler, your favorite prehistoric pals are back. This time around, Manny and the herd discover a lost world of ferociously funny dinosaurs, including a cranky T-Rex who has a score to settle with Sid. Meanwhile, Scrat goes nuts over the beautiful Scratte, but is she trying to win his heart or steal his acorn?