The Daughters of Erietown by Connie Schultz

The world right now is uncertain. I find myself longing for times when family and friends could get together without care or worries. In an effort to feel more of that carefree spirit(without actually getting close to people), I have been searching for more books to read about families. Cue: literary generational fiction.

The Daughters of Erietown by Connie Schultz tells the story of Ellie and Brick. In the 1950s, Ellie and Brick are growing up in Clayton Valley, Ohio. Ellie wants to marry Brick McGinty. She wants to go to nursing school. It seems Ellie has finally figured out how she can get what she wants, even if her grandparents don’t approve.

Brick may be a basketball star at his high school, but he has big plans to go to college on a scholarship to play basketball. That is his chance to escape his abusive father, to be the first in his family to attend college, and to become a man that he can be proud of. Ellie and Brick are determined to succeed together and start a new life in a new place.

Their plans fall apart when Ellie finds out she is pregnant. Realizing that their big dreams will have to be put on hold, the two switch gears and begin to build their family. Ellie and Brick quickly discover that this new life is full of ups and downs. They have to rely on each other and work together to provide a stable and loving home for everyone. Just as they seem to settle back into a rhythm, someone knocks on their front door and delivers news that has the power to destroy their lives.

The Daughters of Erietown follows the evolution of women’s lives over fifty years. While each person in this story may have their own secrets, others have the power to reach out and destroy the precious balance that they have created. This novel discusses the known and the unknown, the whispers that may be true or not, and how you choose to deal with them.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Change Your Habits: Reading for a New Year

I recently read a book I’ve been meaning to for a long time: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. If you haven’t already read this book, it’s an absorbing exploration of the science behind the habits that shape our individual lives, our companies, and our societies. The best part about it is, it’s written as a series of anecdotes about individuals, sports teams, companies, and groups that have changed their habits to improve their performance. Each section and chapter is engaging and readable, and builds on what came before it to craft a detailed picture of how habits work and how they can be changed. It explores neuroscience, psychology, belief, economics, and more, and it left me feeling like I had a good grasp on how habits work and how I could change mine.

Because we’re approaching a new year, you may be thinking about how you want to change your life and what you’d like to do better. My personal recommendation is that the first thing you do on that journey is read a book about habits and how they can change. If you’d like something more recent than The Power of Habit (published 2012), check out any of the great titles listed below.

 

 

 

Tiny Habits by B.J. Fogg recommends you start small to make changes.

Habit Swap by Hugh G. Byrne focuses on mindfulness and self-control.

Good Habits, Bad Habits by Wendy Wood draws on scientific research.

Healthy Habits Suck by Danya Lee-Bagley is a realistic guide to motivation.

Atomic Habits by James Clear highlights small behaviors that drive change.

Stick With It by Sean Young highlights how lasting change is made.

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

I love when an unfamiliar book’s dust jacket describes it as a mashup of my favorite things, because in my experience this is a great way to find new books I’m likely to enjoy. In the case of The Rook by Daniel O’Malley, it was described as “Harry Potter meets Ghostbusters meets War of the Worlds” – and that was it, I absolutely had to read it. It turns out my instinct was right! This is a great book, in large part because it has all the dry humor of both Harry Potter and Ghostbusters along with excitement and action of War of the Worlds. I saw elements of Kingsman in the mix as well – both feature the secret organization facing an unprecedented threat, and a mentor-rookie relationship that adds real pathos.

The book opens with a young woman finding herself in a rainy London park, with no memory of who she is or how she got there. She finds a letter in her pocket which opens Dear You, which turns out to be from her body’s former occupant, explaining that her name is Myfanwy Alice Thomas, and she’s a supernatural secret agent being actively hunted by an unknown enemy. This new Myfanwy must take over her predecessor’s complicated life and discover who wants her gone, all without letting anyone know what’s happened to her. Luckily for her, her predecessor was an excellent administrator and left many detailed notes and letters telling her everything she needs to know – if only she can stay alive long enough to read them.

Not only is this book funny and action-packed, the characters are widely diverse and supremely entertaining. The huge variety of supernatural powers that they display is staggeringly imaginative, and the personalities are compelling as well. I personally love that the main character, Myfanwy, remains confident, humorous, and decisive despite the fact that she’s lost her memory and is scrambling to get up to speed with the dangerous world she now inhabits. Whether or not her sanguine attitude is realistic, it makes for a much easier read than if she was dripping with angst and insecurity- and I find it somewhat inspiring! If only we could all feel confident that even if the worst should come, we can figure out whatever comes our way, and laugh about it. She also has a real knack for making friends, especially with the other strong women around her, which only increases the hilarity and inspiration. If you love Ghostbusters, Harry Potter, Kingsman, Doctor Who, Independence Day, or Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I definitely recommend you try this book — and its sequel, Stiletto.

Hidden Database Gems: Reference Solutions

If you don’t spend much time scrolling through the research tools on our library website, you might not know about all the amazing online databases you have access to with your library card. The list includes encyclopedias, newspaper archives, genealogy resources, children’s encyclopedias, and much more! One specific hidden gem you might not know about is Data Axle Reference Solutions (previously known as ReferenceUSA).

Reference Solutions acts primarily as a business database, allowing you to look up established and new businesses by name, executives, location, or phone number. However, it also includes searches for individuals, health care providers, and job postings. It’s a very useful database for finding contact info or addresses, especially for people or businesses.

To try out Reference Solutions, go to our website, then under Research Tools, click on Online Resources. Scroll to the “D”s and you’ll find Data Axle: Reference Solutions.

You’ll probably be asked to log in with your library card. The front page when you log in looks like this:

Here you can choose to search for an individual, a business, a job, or a health care provider. When you hover over a category, words appear underneath saying “Search” or “More Information”. If you click on “Search”, it takes you to the default search page, which includes an Advanced Search on a second tab (circled).

You can put in as much information as you want, narrowing down by location and a name, and then click Search.  The search results will look like this:

For such a useful database, it’s pretty easy to use and gets you some fast information. One caveat: not every person or business is recorded in this database, so results aren’t guaranteed. Also, in the case of corporations, you may get several phone numbers or separate entries for regional offices. You can see where a business falls in the corporation by clicking on “Corp Tree” in the far right column.

The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd

Sue Monk Kidd is an author that has lived in my to-read pile since The Secret Life of Bees came out in 2002. Late one night, unable to sleep, I found The Book of Longings, Kidd’s latest novel, available online through OverDrive. I decided to give it a go.

Set in the first century, The Book of Longings tells the story of a young woman named Ana who desires to find her voice and lead her own destiny. Ana was raised in a wealthy family in Sepphoris. Her father worked very closely with the ruler in Galilee, a position that benefited the family immensely, yet also put the family in danger. Ana has always been rebellious and ambitious, wanting to spend her days writing the stories of women who have been silenced, neglected, and castigated for years. Her parents have other ideas of how she should spend her time.

In the market one day, Ana runs into Jesus, an eighteen-year-old with rich philosophical and spiritual ideas. Drawn to his presence, Ana manufactures ways to bump into him again, leading to hours long conversations where the two exchange intellectual ideas that blossom into love. Soon married, Ana and Jesus settle into life in Nazareth with Jesus’ extended family: his mother, Mary, his brothers, James and Simon, and their respective families. While living there, Ana’s longings to be her own understood woman intensifies while Jesus toils to provide for the family.  Consistently defying the expectations society places on women, Ana isn’t afraid to speak her mind. Her rebellious and impetuous streak leads Ana and her family into danger.

Bolstered by the support of her aunt, Yaltha, her childhood friend, Tabitha, and an older friend, Phasaelis, Ana speaks her mind consistently. When one outburst puts her in even more danger, Ana and Yaltha are forced to flee Nazareth and head to Alexandria. Leaving Jesus behind right as he begins his public ministry, Ana gains comfort with the knowledge that her adopted brother, Judas, will send a note to her when it is safe for her to return. Finding refuge in an unexpected place, Ana and Yaltha spend their days waiting for word from Judas so they can reunite with Jesus and his disciples.

The story of Ana is one of a woman who longs to be able to pursue the passion boiling inside of her, while society continuously shuts her down. Her story is one of many, yet the focus on Ana allows readers to learn more about the women behind the scenes during this time. Sue Monk Kidd has woven a very well researched tale of Jesus’ life told from the perspective of the women that surround him.

This book is also available in the following formats:

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas is a young adult author whose breakout book, The Hate U Give , won many awards and was made into a major motion picture. That gut-wrenching novel discussed topics of police brutality and systemic racism in a timely and much needed way. Her subsequent novel, On The Come Up, was widely anticipated and pushes the narrative even more.

On The Come Up by Angie Thomas is the story of a young woman working hard to pursue her dreams. Bri wants to be a rapper. Not just any rapper though, she has dreams of becoming one of the greatest rappers of all time. Bri’s father was an underground hip hop legend named Lawless who was killed right before he made it big. Growing up hearing all the stories about her dad, but not having many memories of her own, Bri wants to make it big and be her own person. She doesn’t want to be known as Lil Law forever.

With the help and support of her aunt, Bri goes to the ring to rap battle and gain some popularity. Her aunt is even able to get her studio time to record her first song. When her first song is released, Bri is excited. She spoke from her heart when she wrote that song and can’t wait for people to actually understand more about her life. But when the song goes viral and the media picks it up, Bri discovers that it’s gaining popularity for all the wrong reasons. Now that she’s being made out to be a menace and is the center of controversy, Bri is uncomfortable with what others are saying. When her family’s financial situation grows even more dire, Bri realizes that the only way to help is to become a rap star as fast as she can. It’s not just something she wants to do, Bri HAS to make it. Her family’s livelihood depends on her.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Game Changers documentary

The recent passing of “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek inspired me to watch the 2019 documentary Game Changers, about the phenomenon of TV game shows, the hosts, the contestants, and the controversies. Viewers are immediately drawn in as Trebek recites a whimsical poem about all the things he could be when he grows up.

“My parents always said:
Alex, get a good education and you can be anything you want to be.
A miner, a designer, or a Vegas headliner.
A teacher, a preacher, or a deep sea researcher.
An actor, a factor, or a farmer in a tractor.
A banker, a flanker, or captain of an ocean tanker.
No one prepared me for game show host. It wasn’t one of the options in the high school career guide.”

From there, Trebek opens the door to the behind-the-scenes world of game shows. The documentary takes viewers through:
• the history of game shows making the transition from radio to television
• the 1950s game show scandals and how that changed the rules and regulations of the contests
• trends in daytime and prime time game shows
• and the more recent phenomenon of shows like “Deal or No Deal” and “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”

Trebek is featured not only as a subject of the documentary, he also lends himself as the interviewer to other game show hosts such as Drew Carey, Howie Mandel and Regis Philbin. In turn, the hosts talk about how they got their gigs and their thoughts on their unusual jobs. Like his game show host persona, Trebek strikes the perfect balance of not taking himself too seriously in interviews while also protecting the integrity of the hosts.
At times a bit slow, there are enough anecdotes mixed in to make up for it. Pat Sajak’s first impression of Vanna White was that she was “too nervous” for the “Wheel of Fortune” job. The “Jeopardy” think-music will definitely get stuck in your head as Merv Griffin’s son explains how quickly it was written.

Plenty of nostalgia is woven throughout the documentary. Contestants reminisce about watching game shows with grandparents or while home sick from school. This documentary will motivate you to pick up the remote and play along with a TV game show again, perhaps “Jeopardy” as the final Trebek episodes run their course in the coming weeks.

Book Club @ Night – ‘A Very Large Expanse of Sea’ by Tahereh Mafi on November 18

It’s time for a new book club! On the second Wednesday of the month through December 2020, Book Club @ Night is meeting at 6:30pm to talk about young adult books!

The November meeting will not take place on November 11 as the library is closed on that day in observance of Veterans Day. The November program will meet instead on November 18.

On Wednesday, November 18th, Book Club @ Night will be discussing A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi. Information about how to join is below.

Using GoTo Meeting, patrons will be able to meet to talk about a new book with one of our librarians. Book club books available at the Eastern Avenue Library.

Curious what A Very Large Expanse of Sea is about? Check out the following description provided by the publisher:

It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped. Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments–even the physical violence–she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother. But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her–they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds–and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Book Club @ Night
Wed, Nov 18, 2020 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM (CST)

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/188604317

You can also dial in using your phone.
United States: +1 (408) 650-3123

Access Code: 188-604-317

New to GoToMeeting? Get the app now and be ready when your first meeting starts:
https://global.gotomeeting.com/install/188604317

A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green

Love Hank and John Green? Devoured An Absolutely Remarkable Thing? Worried about our society? Then boy, do I have a book for you: A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green! A fresh installment in the saga of April May and her friends shows us a world after first contact with an alien intelligence, bitterly divided over the aliens, their intentions, and what it means (and should mean) to be human. This is, like its predecessor, a timely book perfectly plugged into the realities of online communication, internet fame, and the deep ideological divides in our nation and our world. (Psst – no idea what I’m talking about? Check out our previous blog post about the first book.)

SPOILERS AHEAD: Maya, Andy, and Miranda are all processing their grief over April’s disappearance (or death, depending on who you ask) differently. Maya refuses to accept April is gone and chases conspiracies and mysteries trying to find her. Andy has stepped into April’s fame and struggles to feel worthy of the task. And Miranda, returning to her research, recklessly joins a suspicious scientific venture to protect April’s legacy. Meanwhile, as tensions rise between the bitterly divided camps of pro- and anti- alien (and anti-April, honestly), an intelligence beyond their comprehension continues to meddle in their reality, with intentions unknown…

This book really made me think, and debate with myself how I feel about it. I like that it’s written in short, addictive chapters that rotate between April’s friends’ point of view. Downside: all three of her friends are on different, very exciting paths, and it can be hard to switch back and forth between them and remember what’s going on. I also like that it picks up not long after the events at the end of the first book and continues the story in a believable way, creating cohesion and continuity between the two books. Downside: too much continuity! It’s been a long time since I read the first one and I no longer remember all the important details this book is referencing.

However, the characters are brimming with wry, self-deprecating humor, relatable 20-something angst, and deep thoughts about humanity, identity, and fame. Overall, this book rings with truth, and for me seems to hold up a mirror to our society, showing us the good and the bad about the path we’re on.

Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey by Kathleen Rooney

Even in the midst of a brutal, horrific war, the story of the Lost Battalion – a US Army regiment that, following orders, advanced on German strongholds, outpacing their support and became trapped behind enemy lines – stands out as one of the bloodiest, most worthless engagements of the war. Two unlikely heroes emerge from this nightmare, their lives forever altered in unforeseen ways.

Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey by Kathleen Rooney tells the story, in alternating chapters, of Major Whittlesey, the scholarly, solitary lawyer that led the doomed 77th Division and Cher Ami, the messenger pigeon that is credited with saving those that managed to stay alive.

Cher Ami, born and bred in England and lovingly trained in the proud tradition of messenger pigeons, now resides in the Smithsonian, a taxidermied observer of the humans that pass through the great museum, musing on the changing times and attitudes. The museum goers look on Cher Ami with pity or sorrow, having little knowledge of the breadth of what she saw and experienced, from her bucolic home in England to the war-torn fields of France, the freedom and joy of flight and the mysterious “voice” that brings her home to roost again and again.

Major Whittlesey is also mostly unknown, by his commanders, by the men he leads, by his family and all but his closest friend. Quiet by nature, he is a homosexual at a time in history when it would be dangerous to admit to, so he keeps to himself and his books. At first glance he is completely unsuited to lead soldiers into war, and yet he takes the job seriously, with intelligence and compassion and is loved by his men. When the orders that will doom his division arrive, he knows it will be a disaster, but his objections are overruled. When the battalion is trapped, without food or water for days, surrounded by Germans and running out of ammunition, Whittlesey works tirelessly to encourage his men, offer comfort and support where he can and never backs down.

Just when it seems it couldn’t get any worse, friendly fire begins to rain down on the 77th Division’s trenches – misguided bombs from the Americans. Desperate to end the bombardment, Major Whittlesey sends one messenger pigeon after another (all telephone lines have been cut and  runners have been killed or captured) German snipers target and kill each pigeon as it takes flight until only one remains. Even though she is badly wounded, Cher Ami manages to survive and deliver her message, helping to save the remaining soldiers of the 77th.

Based on true events and people (and pigeon) Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey is a gripping, sober look at a terrible war and the price it demanded. The long, proud history of homing pigeons, which were used to deliver messages through World War II, was fascinating and a bright counterpoint to the mud and trenches of battle. This is book covers a dark and difficult period of history but Cher Ami’s thoughtful musings and Whittlesey’s dry humor keeps the reader engaged and anxious to find out what happens next. Highly recommended.

 

 

Bad Behavior has blocked 1572 access attempts in the last 7 days.