We have only two drawings remaining this summer, so make sure you turn in any last minute book reviews to increase your chance of winning and keep your fingers crossed.
Finding a nice place in the shade with a good book is a great way to keep cool. And if that book happens to be set during the dead of winter, that’s even better. Here are some books that will chill you to your core on these hot days!
If a dark and icy-cold New England winter sounds perfect right about now, you should try Jennifer McMahon’s “The Winter People.” Set in a small town in Vermont, the novel recounts the mysterious murder of Sara Harrison Shea outside her home in 1908. A hundred years later, Ruthie, Fawn and their mother move into Sara’s old house. The girls find Sara’s diary hidden under the floor, revealing what may have actually happened to her. This sets into motion a series of horrific events that threaten to destroy their family. McMahon’s writing is spell-binding in this unique approach to the typical ghost story. You won’t want to put this one down! Continue reading “Bone-Chilling Reads for the Dog Days of Summer”
The brain is not really a muscle, but there’s a lot of advice out there to treat it like one and exercise it. A huge industry has been built around this concept. But this post comes with a disclaimer: I recently read an article stating that “brain-training effects might be nothing more than placebo effects” and questioning how long those positive effects last. So you might think twice about spending a lot of money on brain-training programs and gurus, but there’s a lot you can find for free at the library to boost your brain power. What could it hurt to do a little mental calisthenics? Continue reading “On Your Mark, Get Set, Exercise Your Brain!”
“Kindred Spirits” is about a group of women who become the best of friends and establish their own society as a result of a failed Parent Teacher Association meeting. Their society (The Society for the Conservation of Martinis!) is based on their friendship and having fun together. The story follows the women through the quick death of one and a journey by her best friends to find the secret she never shared. Sarah Strohmeyer’s characters are “real women” I related to. Their journey together shows the true meaning of friendship.
Three words that describe this book: friendship, love, understanding
You might want to pick this book up if: You might want to read this book if you enjoy Sarah Strohmeyer’s writing. She has created another group of wonderful characters who are fun-loving and know the true meaning of being friends to the end.
Family lore has it that my maternal grandfather, Erwin, loved-loved-loved ice cream. He made it regularly during Georgia’s hot summer months, out in the back yard with his wooden, hand-cranked ice cream maker. It looked very much like this. People who knew him considered him to be a very generous soul, but not so when it came to sharing his ice cream. He didn’t want to do that with anyone outside his immediate family (his wife and daughter). My grandmother recalled he would lower the blinds and draw the curtains in the house on the days he was making ice cream, to make it look like there was no one home. That way he could avoid any drop-in visitors who might catch him in the act and compel him to share his beloved frozen concoction.
I was fortunate to witness his ice cream making wizardry and to taste the finished product of his efforts just once (he passed away not too much longer after that). I was young, about 3 years old, and my family was visiting in the blazing heat of the summer. Sweet yellow peaches were on tap, and that is what he used that day in his ice cream recipe. Watching the whole production — the pouring of the mixed ingredients into the metal canister, the packing of the canister into the wooden bucket with chunks of ice and rock salt, and then the cranking of the handle to churn the dasher inside the canister — made a huge impression on my young senses. And most certainly, the explosion of peachy sweet, cold, creamy, custard-like ice cream on my young taste buds was a life-changing experience. Continue reading “Ice Cream the Old-Timey Way”
Don’t diet. It won’t work. Okay, maybe you’ll lose a few pounds, but chances are you will gain them back (and maybe a few extra besides). In “Secrets From the Eating Lab,” Traci Mann, Ph.D. explains why and the research she used to develop her conclusions. She can also cite studies that show that losing weight does not improve one’s health. She does suggest ways to increase your intake of healthy foods, avoid the less healthy ones and increase the amount you exercise. These activities have been shown to improve health. With plenty of footnotes and a few humorous personal notes, Mann makes sense of the research and gives you suggestions of ways to improve your health without focusing on your weight.
Three words that describe this book: informative, humorous, life-changing
You might want to pick this book up if: you’ve ever been on a diet or thought about going on a diet.
If you’re looking for a grim, unputdownable book to block the blistering and incessant shine of the July sun, look no further. Paul Tremblay’s “A Head Full of Ghosts” is the sort of book you read in one sitting (assuming you have sufficient free time, or a willingness/compulsion to prioritize pleasure over obligations, and also that you are not a big ol’ chicken (cause it’s scary)).
“A Head Full of Ghosts” is about a young girl that is either possessed by the devil or by mental illness. (Evidence mounts for both possibilities, and when you’re certain you’ve got it all sussed out, you’re probably still going to have your mind changed a couple of times.) Her family, exhausted both mentally and financially, agrees to allow a reality television crew to film the devil’s/mental illness’s exploits. (It’s surprising that there isn’t already a “reality” television show about possessions, but this book gives us a pretty good idea of what one would look like.) Continue reading “The Gentleman Recommends: Paul Tremblay”
Congratulations to Andrew of Ashland on winning our sixth Adult Summer Reading 2016 prize drawing. He is the recipient of a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card.
If you have not registered for the library’s Adult Summer Reading program, you can still do so online or by visiting any of our locations. Once you sign up, you are automatically entered in the prize drawings. Also, don’t forget to submit book reviews to increase your odds of winning. (That’s what this week’s winner did!) There are plenty of drawings left this summer, so keep reading and sharing your reviews with us!
This year, our country is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the creation of the National Parks System, deemed by writer Wallas Stegner as “America’s best idea.”And it sure has been. Who hasn’t heard about Yosemite, the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone, to name a few? People from all over the world come to the U.S. to visit these unique places. Yet as much as all of us admire our national parks, let’s not forget that Missouri has an abundance of wonderful parks, too.
The movement for establishing the Missouri park system began at the turn of the century, although the Missouri General Assembly did not create a state park fund until 1917. In 1924, the state made its first acquisitions — Big Spring and Round Spring on the Current River, Alley Spring on the Jacks Fork, Bennett Springs on the Niagua River, Deep Run near Ellington and Indian Trail near Salem. And in 2013, the state made its 88th acquisition — Echo Bluff. Continue reading “Missouri State Parks and Historic Sites”
Ranging from the mildly strange to the hauntingly bizarre, “Trigger Warning” is a collection of short writings that should please fans of fantasy, magical realism and (in some stories) science fiction. I enjoyed Gaiman’s nods to both Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who, as well as his ability to play with format (the story “Orange” is told via responses to interview questions; the questions themselves are never seen, requiring the reader to stitch the story together as the narrative moves along). In the introduction, Gaiman includes brief notes about each story. I recommend book-ending your reading by reviewing the corresponding author notes both before and after each story. It’s a rare glimpse into the author’s process and the impetus behind the stories, which I feel adds to the enjoyment of the book. That being said, it’s Neil Gaiman, so my brain still hurt at the end of some stories, and many do not end well. As the author states in his introduction, “Consider yourself warned.”
Three words that describe this book: strange, creepy, beautiful
You might want to pick this book up if: you are a fan of bizarre, intriguing narratives or would like to explore the same by starting with short stories rather than a novel.