What’s Ashley Reading?: Read-a-thon Round-up

I’ve been trying to finish up my books for the Dia de Los Muertos Read-a-thon but I do not think I am going to make it to the last book. I tried starting it several times and was not motivated to read it. I think it will be a fantastic book but when I have a TBR (to be read) list filled with things I am really excited to read, it is hard to make myself to start something different.

But on the other hand I have read some really great books for the other categories:

I cannot wait for another read-a-thon but I have a great TBR list for November!

Terese’s Thoughts: Second Place

Second Place by Rachel Cusk

First Line: I once told you, Jeffers, about the time I met the devil on a train leaving Paris, and about how after that meeting the evil that usually lies undisturbed beneath the surface of things rose up and disgorged itself over every part of my life.

Summary: The events of the book are narrated by M, a middle-aged writer, as she retells them to her friend Jeffers as if in a long letter. We never meet Jeffers; he is beside the point. M lives in a marshy, wooded area near the sea with her second husband Tony. They have also built a cabin on the property which they use to host various artist-types for a week or so during the summer. M was largely content with her quiet life until she invites the artist “L” to come stay for a while. L’s work made a lasting impact on M several years prior and she has been mildly obsessed with him ever since. At first L declines her invitation, then suddenly announces he is arriving the following day. M is immediately thrown off-kilter, her domestic peace disrupted by his presence. Not only does he arrive without much warning, he also brings with him a young and beautiful woman who will be staying as well. To add to the chaos, M’s twenty-something daughter Justine is visiting with her German boyfriend. Although it feels like nothing much is happening, we get a first-hand account of M’s ever-intensifying emotions. She is struggling with how to live freely as herself within the confines and compromise of marriage and motherhood:

“I have wanted to be free my whole life but haven’t managed to liberate my smallest toe…”

The various relationships change over the course of the stay, affected by the presence of others in such close quarters. M grows increasingly frustrated with L and feels he is deliberately driving her mad. Justine and her boyfriend begin to drift apart as she grows closer to L’s companion. Tony does his best to maintain peace.

My Thoughts: I’d never read any of Cusk’s writing before, and I certainly don’t plan to stop with Second Place. I came across a review of an earlier novel of Cusk’s in the London Review of Books written by the excellent Patricia Lockwood, and if you want to know how reading Cusk makes me feel, it’s summed up by the title of Lockwood’s review: “Why do I have to know what McDonald’s is?”. Why can’t we prioritize good craftsmanship and beauty and creativity and compassion and things made from scratch and diversity, why do I have to know what McDonald’s is? But anyway… Her obsession aside, M is grappling with the same questions we all surely ask ourselves from time to time. I was right there with her, ready for her to chuck life in the bin and start living exactly as herself. And when she realized the loss of comfort, peace, stability, and love throwing it all away would cause, so did I. She felt naïve and foolish, and so did I. It’s a book that makes you think and reflect on life, so if you’re into that kind of thing, I definitely recommend it.

What’s Ashley Reading?: Once Upon a Broken Heart

Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber

First line: The bell hanging outside the curiosity shop knew the human was trouble from the way he moved through the door.

Summary: Evangeline Fox believes she has found her true love until the day she discovers that he is going to be married to someone else. In the hopes of stopping the wedding, Evangeline makes a dangerous deal with the Prince of Hearts. All he asks of her is three kisses to be given at a time of his choosing. But Evangeline learns quickly that making a deal with a Fate is not as easy as it seems. The Prince of Hearts appears to have a plan for Evangeline that could lead her to her happy ending or her doom.

My Thoughts: From the cover to the description to the world of Caraval, this book was excellent! I was desperately awaiting its release. I loved Stephanie Garber’s first trilogy. And when I learned that this new one is set in the same universe I knew it was going to be just as wonderful.

The story feels like a fairy tale. It has beautiful characters, magic and dark twists. You do not have to have read the Caraval series to understand this book but I highly recommend it. Several characters and references are made to the other trilogy. One of my favorite parts of Garber’s writing is how descriptive and beautiful it is. There are lots of colors, patterns and imagination. It is not like anything else I have read.

I love her characters as well. She always has a strong female lead. But best of all, as a reader you can never tell who to trust and what they are going to do next. Some characters, such as the Prince of Hearts, may appear to be bad but what if he’s not? Or is he? In the world of Caraval not everything is as it seems.

FYI: First book in a new series by Stephanie Garber.

The Lineup: Tami

Tami’s Lineup

Podcast: The Villian was Right

My latest fun listen is a light-hearted romp. Comedians Craig and Rebecca take a look at movies and television from the villain’s perspective and dare to ask if they were really all that bad. The hosts go into detail about movie or series characters and their motivations, and theorize whether or not they deserve to be the hero or villain.

Was Ariel really innocent? Or was Ursula just trying to run a small business?

What I find especially fun is that Craig and Rebecca don’t just review the obvious movies. They look into Father of the Bride, Legally Blonde, Bridget Jones’ Diary, the Magic School Bus, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Friends, Mary Poppins and many, many more. I recommend you start with Ferris Buller’s Day Off, Jurassic Park or the Incredibles.

*Available on Spotify, Apple, or here: https://www.fromsuperheroes.com/the-villain-was-right

Book: Project Hail Mary

I whole-heartedly recommend this recent read. If you like science fiction with actual science, this is for you. If you like stories with interesting, well developed characters, this also has that. If you want excitement and a thrilling plot, here you go. If you want romance and sex, well, there you’re completely out of luck.

I challenge you to read the first five pages and NOT want to keep reading. What an opening! Ryland Grace wakes up alone with no clue where he is or how he got there. His body isn’t responding the way it should and he struggles with the fog that is keeping rational thoughts at bay. He slowly comes to the realization that he’s hurtling through space and his crew mates are dead. While that opening alone is enough to keep me turning pages, Weir infuses Ryland with unique wit and humor that elevates the story beyond the run of the mill science fiction thriller.

As Ryland’s memory returns, he flashes back to the past and slowly reveals how he ended up as the sole-survivor of this last-chance mission to save Earth. And as things seem hopeless, he finds glimmers of hope in unexpected places. He also just might be the perfect person for the job.

This well-written novel is a mix of things: science fiction, mystery, fantasy, thriller. There’s a diverse cast as the entire planet comes together to save humanity. And I can only hope Hollywood takes notice.

*Available as a physical book in the KanShare catalog or as an ebook via the Sunflower eLibrary/Libby app.

Music: Equals by Ed Sheeran

Okay, so this one hasn’t completely been released yet, but I am eagerly awaiting it. And fortunately, I have heard a couple early release tracks, so I think it’s fair to add to my line up list.

The album is set to drop October 29. It’s been 4 long years since we last heard songs featuring solo artist Ed Sheeran playing and singing all by himself (no collaborations). I have read interviews about this release and it appears the songs are all personal to him as a recently married man and father who has experienced loss. Sheeran says the album is a reflection of those experiences. For a man to state that this is a coming of age album, I feel it should be chocked full of nostalgia, eye awakening moments and experiences that make us who we are. Bad Habits, one of the early release titles is dance music story of late night bad choices while Visiting Hours is a heartfelt, personal sort of song you play in the bluest hours. It’s raw and emotional.

*I believe the library will be purchasing and adding this title to the catalog for checkout. I don’t see it there yet, but all the other Sheeran albums are, so it’s a good guess it’s coming soon.

Television: Below Deck Mediterranean

In another year, where I haven’t been able to travel abroad like I planned, I am “escaping” via my television and “reality” TV.

What I like? No dull waiting period–this is entertaining IMMEDIATELY.

This show has it all: attractive people, vastly different personalities, relatable protagonists, loathsome antagonists, money and a BIG yacht. It’s fun, interesting, and has changing locals (Greece, Croatia, Italy, South of France and Mallorca). The guests are interesting. There’s TIGHT quarters (GREAT for drama), a social element and very merit-based workplace element.

I think the two most important components of any reality show are the “characters” and the editing. The characters here are in spades, but the editing brings us the stories, and man do they make the stories POP! Hats off to the editing staff. I think we all like to see justice because we so rarely get it in real life, and the editors don’t let anyone get away with ANYTHING. When someone does something stupid, we get to see the consequences, which is a great little respite from real life. I also love the insight you get, to see all that goes on under the surface of a luxury yacht.

*Available on Bravo network or free on Peacock

Family Outing: Wild Lights at Sedgwick County Zoo

This one I am super excited to get out and see for myself. Recently, when I volunteered at the Zoo for Zoobilee and the new Asian Big Cat exhibit grand opening, I discovered that Sedgwick County Zoo has a new “Wild Lights” exhibit in the works.  Think Asian lantern sculptures illuminating paths throughout the zoo. 

The company who has provided and set up the exhibit brought in 13 semi-truck loads of giant animal lanterns.  These creatures are spread out throughout the zoo. They are everywhere! Installation began in early September.  The exhibit has filled the zoo with 47 glowing Asian lanterns, most of them larger than life.

They’re in the shapes of animals.  Guests will find pandas, elephants, turtles, rhinos as well as other displays in the shapes of flowers, bugs, fish, butterflies, and plants. Many of them are animated: A peacock’s plume of feathers goes up and down every five minutes. A baby panda spins with a ball on his head. A massive crocodile opens and closes his giant jaw. About six people accompanying the tour, which travels to zoos all over the world, spent a month erecting the wire frames that form each sculpture’s “bones” then covering them with translucent fabric and filling them with colorful lights. It will take visitors about an hour to walk the path where the sculptures are set up, which stretches from the zoo entrance to the gorilla exhibit and back to the exit.  Not only do they set up the lights, but they stay here in Wichita throughout the show to maintain the exhibit.

I plan to enjoy the zoo like never before with this larger-than-life Chinese lantern festival!

*Wild Lights will light up the zoo Wednesday through Sunday nights 6:00-9:00 p.m. through December 5, 2021. Tickets are on sale now at scz.org/event/wild-lights.

Food: Seasonal Soups and Stews

It’s that time of year – fall (or maybe the fringe of fall with our ever changing Kansas weather).  Maybe you’ve noticed the chill in the air, or that the leaves are starting to turn shades of orange and red. The first pumpkin spice lattes of the season have already been sipped, and perhaps you’ve taken out the sweaters that make you feel like Cameron Diaz courting Jude Law in a cozy cottage in the English countryside. But is it really sweater season without a pot of soup bubbling away? Or a hearty stew on the table, served with a fistful of crusty bread? A few veggies, possibly some beans, aromatics and broth are just about all you need for a satisfying meal.

So let this be my reminder to you. If you have yet to avail yourself of all the ways your local library can help you be a better, more inquisitive cook (or simply save you some money) there’s no better time than now. With many of us cooking at home more than ever, we could all use a little jolt of inspiration and novelty. Or just some escapist reading. Take a look at our KanShare catalog for in print cook books, Sunflower eLibrary (Libby app) for eCookbooks and magazines, Pinterest and the good ole internet for general browsing!  You are sure to find something new to try.

I’m sharing my easy-peasy Taco Soup recipe.  It’s a go to my family always loves.  Hope you will too!

Slow Cooking Taco Soup – 6 to 8 servings

1 lb ground beef

1 large onion, chopped

16 oz can Mexican-style tomatoes

16 oz can whole-kernel corn, undrained

16 oz can red beans, undrained

16 oz can black beans, undrained

16 oz can ranch beans

16 oz jar picante sauce (your choice on mild, medium or hot)

Optional additions when serving:

Sour cream

Shredded cheddar cheese

Corn or tortilla chips

  1. Brown meat and onions in skillet. Drain.
  2. Combine with all other vegetables and picante sauce in slow cooker.
  3. Cover. Cook on low 4-6 hours
  4. Serve with corn or tortilla chips, sour cream and shredded cheese as toppings.

What’s Ashley Reading?: 1922

1922 by Stephen King

First line: TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: My name is Wilfred Leland James, and this is my confession.

Summary: In a short story by Stephen King we get a dark tale of murder on the Nebraska plains. Wilfred James lives on a farm in Nebraska with this wife and son. When his wife suggests that they sell the 100 acres she owns but it angers Wilfred. He does not want the land to be used as a pig farm. As his anger with her grows he starts to conceive of a plan to make his wife disappear.

My Thoughts: 1922 was the perfect start to my October TBR and Dia de los Muertos read-a-thon list. It was spooky and quick. I have driven many times through the farmland of Nebraska. The old farmhouses with acres of land as far as the eye can see. I could easily imagine Wilfred living on his farm, killing his wife and burying her in the well. And no one else around to even notice. Especially in 1922.

But then his wife begins to haunt him with her decaying body and the rats that are slowly eating away at her. Rats are terrifying on their own but imagining them eating a human body is a nightmare come to life. King does a great job bringing the eeriness to the story without out making it outlandish. The visions, smells and memories just add to the suspense.

Then mixed in with the terror that Wilfred is experiencing is the guilt and changes happening to his son. I was surprised with the way his story changed from the beginning till the end. It was heartbreaking to see but it definitely added another level to this short story.

FYI: This is originally part of Full Dark, No Stars, a collection of King’s short stories. It has also been made into a Netflix movie which I plan to watch real soon!

What’s Ashley Reading?: The Night She Disappeared

The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell

First line: The baby is starting to grumble.

Summary: 2017: Tallulah Murray, a nineteen year old mother, goes out with her boyfriend to the neighborhood pub for dinner. The next morning her mother, Kim, finds that neither one of them have come home. Kim knows that Tallulah would never abandon her baby son. As she talks with Tallulah’s friends she find out that they were last seen at a party at Dark Place, a manor house outside the small village.

2018: Sophie Beck has just moved into a little cottage on the grounds of a private boarding school. Her partner is the new head teacher while Sophie is a mystery novelist. As Sophie explores her new home she finds a sign in their garden with the words, “DIG HERE”, written on it. As she digs she uncovers a missing link in the mystery of the disappearance of Tallulah Murray.

My Thoughts: I enjoyed this book from the beginning until the end. Normally the time jumps can be confusing but since each time had a different narrator that made it easier to follow. The end was excellent. I was on the edge of my seat, trying to finish it as fast as I could. And of course, that’s when my dog decided he needed to go outside!

I liked the characters of Tallulah and her mother Kim. Sophie felt like more of a filler character to help solve the mystery. She was the like her characters in her book which the comparison is drawn in the books as well. Her part felt more cozy. But I think Jewell did a great job of bringing Kim’s pain and Tallulah’s struggles out. They were relatable and I could sympathize with them as their lives changed through the story. After Jewell’s last book I was hoping that this one would be much more entertaining. Thank goodness it was!

FYI: Audio book was read by Joanne Froggat (Anna Bates from Downton Abbey).

The Lineup: Maycie

Maycie’s Lineup

TV Show: American Horror Story

I know I know, everyone else already knew how amazing American Horror Story was but for some reason it had never crossed my mind to watch it.  Then about a few months ago my husband and I were looking for something a little spooky to watch that we had never seen before and Netflix presented us with the holy grail of televised anthologies. So we might be ten years late to the game, but we are obsessed, and I can’t wait to watch the rest of it. 

Video Game: Animal Crossing New Horizons

I’m a huge fan of cozy gaming; Stardew Valley, Pikmin, the Sims you can toss them all my way. Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time on my Island of Alderaan bonding with my villagers, catching bugs, fishing and discovering that I owe a lifetime’s worth of bells to Tom Nook. 

  • Available for Nintendo Switch

Hobbies: Fantasy Football

Do I know anything about football? No. Do I know what I’m doing with my lineup each week? Also no. “Hey Maycie do you at least come close to winning your league every year?” I absolutely do not. But as the full-time general manager of Mr. Rodger’s Neighborhood my fall schedule is booked with strategy meetings, game tape reviews and injury reports. Whether you’re an avid fan of football or being roped into a league I find it’s a fun way to engage with your family and friends. 

Goals: Bread Making

“2021 is the year I make breads from scratch” -Maycie at the end of 2020.  Armed with a stand-mixer and a jar of yeast I spent my year learning to bake all things bread. So far I’ve mastered biscuits, pizza dough and pasta but I have to say that my favorite creation was a beautiful blueberry babka.  

On My Radar: Here’s what I’m looking forward to in the next few months

To Read: Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Water of the World. I’m so excited for this sequel to come out and I can’t wait to join Ari and Dante’s world again.

At the Movies: West Side Story. I’m not always a huge fan of movie remakes but the new West Side Story looks so good and has some of my favorite Broadway actors in it.

TV Shows: One of Us is Lying. One of my favorite YA thrillers that is being adapted and will be streaming on Peacock later this fall. 

Holidays: CHRISTMAS

Terese’s Thoughts: People Like Them

People Like Them by Samira Sedira, translated by Lara Vergnaud

First Line: There’s no cemetery in Carmac.

Summary: The story is told from the perspective of Anna, who lives with her husband and children in the quaint Alpine village of Carmac. Life seems to follow a comfortable pattern for those who live there. Everyone lovingly tolerates the two old men who spend their days at the pub, they know the bartender and his past relationships, and they all celebrate together at the wedding of a young couple in town. This is a close-knit community unused to interlopers, aside from the mild annoyance of seasonal tourists. But of course, that all changes once a new family begins building a house next door to Anna and her husband. The Langloises seem to have wealth. Their house is large and they drive expensive cars. Bakary, the husband and father of the family, is black. This is all in contrast to the other villagers. But despite their differences, Anna’s husband becomes close to Bakary and Anna even works as the Langloises part-time cleaner. However, it isn’t long before tensions build to a shocking end.

My Thoughts: This is a small book to begin with, but it is also a page-turner. I finished it in one night. The writing is lovely, and it’s the description of the later hours of an outdoor wedding that might be my favorite part of the whole book:

“I didn’t know where you were, but I wasn’t worried. I imagined you were chatting under a lime tree or along the river, amid a cacophony of frogs… I raised my head toward the sky; it was pure, without complication. The moment struck me as so delectable that I closed my eyes. I went inside myself with as much delight as if I was slipping into a warm bath. I reached a primitive state of serenity, rocked by the music and the whispers around the table.”

If you haven’t felt this way in the wee hours of a summer night at some point in your life, are you really even human? But the other thing the author does so well is demonstrate how subtle racism can be–how we might ignore a questionable comment from a community member, assuming they meant no harm, or thinking perhaps we misheard them, or in the interest of avoiding conflict—and she does so with a light touch, without judgment. She merely shows us where prejudice can hide, how everyday it can be, and how tragic the consequences might be.

FYI: This book was based on real events that occurred in France in 2003, which I didn’t even realize when I first read it!

Quotables

Ah, yes, the long lasting literary quote. We all know them. They are beautiful and meaningful and eternal.

They aren’t usable in everyday conversation, though.

Here are a few lines us library-workers have clung to over the years, beautiful or not. These are the lines we use in our everyday conversation. The ones our spouses hear, and may or may not know actually come from one of our favorite pieces of media.

Ah, yes, the long lasting literary quote. We all know them. They are beautiful and meaningful and eternal.

They aren’t usable in everyday conversation, though.

Here are a few lines us library-workers have clung to over the years, beautiful or not. These are the lines we use in our everyday conversation. The ones our spouses hear, and may or may not know actually come from one of our favorite pieces of media.

Justin:

Oh, The Weather outside is weather! | Favorite movie quotes, Forgetting  sarah marshall quotes, Weather quotes
Paul Rudd as Chuck in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”

It's not a lie if you believe it – SDI Guy
” Jason Alexander as George Costanza in “Seinfeld”

Eric:

21 Alone in my principles ideas | i movie, movies, favorite movies
From “That Thing You Do”.

Whenever someone is being stubborn [we say this] to give them a hard time.   It’s normally modified a bit [to fit the situation] but the quote is essentially the same. 

Singin' In The Rain Sunset and Camden - YouTube
From “Singing in the Rain”

We say this whenever arriving home.

Megan:

Cousin Eddie Griswold - Caption | Meme Generator
Eddie from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

YARN | It's a good, quality item. | National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation  (1989) | Video clips by quotes | 44ba6b30 | 紗
“That’s a Good, Quality Item”– Eddie, from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

(and I always say it in his voice too)

YARN | I think they're cheating. | Heavy Weights (1995) | Video clips by  quotes | 0ae4de0e | 紗
“I think they’re cheatin'”, from Heavyweights

My sister and I always use this one… at least twice whenever we are around each other.

YARN | Good luck with that. | I Love You Man (2009) | Video clips by quotes  | c1d48021 | 紗
“Good Luck With That” from “I Love You, Man”

Dawn:

This Is Bat Country GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY
From the Book (and Movie) Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Terese

Grool Mean Girl GIFs | Tenor
From Mean Girls,

I do awkward things like that a lot. 🙂

Hannah:

Pin on Movies, TV, Disney, Pixar, Etc.
Keanu Reaves in The Replacements

Specifically, we say “chicks dig scars” from this moment in the movie.

YARN | Ronnie, don't fall off! | Secretariat (2010) | Video clips by quotes  | 9a967400 | 紗
Ronnie, don’t fall off. -John Malkovich from Secretariat

Ashley:

9 Things You Should Know Before Coming Out | Feminism In India
Ron in the book (and movie ?) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Compilation Of Every 'That's What She Said' From 'The Office' Is Hard To  Beat - BroBible
From the Office

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 2 Trailer Is Just Divine - E! Online
“Tits up!” – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,

beyonce pad thai ⋆ BYT // Brightest Young Things
From The Mindy Project

Chelsea:

Goonies Never Say Die! - GIF on Imgur
“Hey, you guys!” Sloth, from the Goonies

From Bridesmaids

20th Anniversary: Lessons from 'Sister Act 2' - J.Says Online
“I guess you know what that means.”– Sketch, from Sister Act II

The Princess Bride Quotes | POPSUGAR Entertainment
From The Princess Bride

Bloxi — So get this, Supernatural trivia.
Sam from Supernatural

Super Troopers Quote | Quote Number 554804 | Picture Quotes
from Super Troopers

Do I need a rug? - Patina
The Dude, from The Big Lebowski

It's a race! - GIF on Imgur
From Rat Race

He always has a creative way to bail out of danger. | Supernatural  playlist, Supernatural bloopers, Supernatural quotes
Dean from Supernatural

go with god crispy | Explore Tumblr Posts and Blogs | Tumgir
from Sister Act II

Yeah, well, you know, that's just like, your opinion, man. - MagicalQuote | Big  lebowski quotes, The dude quotes, Mom humor
From The Big Lebowski

Celebrating a Decade of our Library Director!

It’s not difficult for a staff member to find library director, Eric Gustafson, in the building. All one has to do is pause and listen carefully, because you can hear him just about anywhere. His voice can travel a mile, at least. And there’s comfort in the sound of his sometimes loud voice.

In September, the staff of Derby Public Library celebrated ten years of Eric Gustafson’s tenure as library director. And what a ten years it has been!

Melanie Turner, library board chair, presents Eric with his 10-year plaque.

Many of our patrons can recognize the booming success the library has had under Eric’s careful guidance. In the last ten years, Eric has helmed many library projects that have enriched the lives of the citizens of Derby.

Eric brought more ebooks and digital content to library patrons with the apps Hoopla and Libby. Thanks to Eric the library is now a one-stop shop for many services outside of checking out materials. Services such as passports, mobile printing, notary services, and business center databases. Eric started Santa’s Village and then expanded it exponentially into Christmas in the Park. Viewed by many as his crowning achievement, the amazing KanShare library consortium was Eric’s brainchild. With careful negotiations, Eric brought eight regional libraries together in one shared catalog with room for additional expansion.

But what the patrons perhaps don’t see is the work culture Eric has created for his staff. He is often heard telling new employees, “If you aren’t having fun, then I’m not doing a good job.” Eric has fostered a work culture of productivity, creativity, and fun. He has made change a positive experience, not one of dread and frustration.

Eric is honest, transparent, and sincere. These qualities make him a great boss man, Supreme Overlord, and fearless leader.

So cheers to 10 years of Gustafson! Here’s to many more successful years for Derby Public Library.