ALICE gets off a bus in the middle of a snowstorm in Delphi, NY. She is fleeing an abusive relationship and desperate to protect…
OREN, ten years old, a major Star Wars fan and wise beyond his years. Though Alice is wary, Oren bonds nearly instantly with…
a social worker in her fifties who lives in an enormous run-down house
in the middle of the woods. Mattie lives alone and is always available,
and so she is the person the hotline always calls when they need a
late-night pickup. And although according to protocol Mattie should take
Alice and Oren to a local shelter, instead she brings them home for the
night. She has plenty of room, she says. What she doesn’t say is that
Oren reminds her of her little brother, who died thirty years ago at the
age of ten.
But Mattie isn’t the only one withholding elements of the truth. Alice is keeping her own secrets. And as the snowstorm worsens around them, each woman’s past will prove itself unburied, stirring up threats both within and without.
I first read Carol Goodman years ago when I picked up The Death Orchid after hearing from someone that it would appease my never-ending hunger for all things Gothic. It did, and I loved her writing style. I haven’t read all her books but those I have read never disappoint.
The Night Visitors is very atmospheric, but is lacking a little when it comes to inspiration for a food based blog. So I’m hoping you will forgive my lack of original recipes and just be excited about how fun this book is!
Now on to the food! At one point in the story the characters are preparing for a big winter storm and what goes better with a storm then a nice slow cooker Chili?!?! Then in the morning when you wake up and find yourself snowed in you can make the other great recipe from the book, Pancakes, and I think this recipe is just the ticket!
I know pancakes and chili aren’t new or exciting, but I promise you this book is! If you enjoy the book drop me a line and let me know.
Although Scott Carey doesn’t look any different, he’s been steadily losing weight. There are a couple of other odd things, too. He weighs the same in his clothes and out of them, no matter how heavy they are. Scott doesn’t want to be poked and prodded. He mostly just wants someone else to know, and he trusts Doctor Bob Ellis.
In the small town of Castle Rock, the setting of many of King’s most iconic stories, Scott is engaged in a low grade—but escalating—battle with the lesbians next door whose dog regularly drops his business on Scott’s lawn. One of the women is friendly; the other, cold as ice. Both are trying to launch a new restaurant, but the people of Castle Rock want no part of a gay married couple, and the place is in trouble. When Scott finally understands the prejudices they face–including his own—he tries to help. Unlikely alliances, the annual foot race, and the mystery of Scott’s affliction bring out the best in people who have indulged the worst in themselves and others.
When a Stephen King book releases you better believe I’m one of the first ones to read it! However, I wasn’t so sure about Elevation. To begin with it’s just a tiny little book??? I mean we all know King’s books are these huge mammoth tombs that you risk being crushed under while trying to read. And this one isn’t horror?!?! But, with all that being said I devoured this book and it was AMAZING! So sweet and touching in all the right ways. Anyone who thinks King isn’t capable of writing anything but horror really needs to give this one a go.
So, on to the food! In Elevation there is a lesbian couple who is trying to make a go of running a Vegetarian Mexican restaurant however, most of the locals refuse to eat there. I say it’s their loss because that sounds super delicious to me! My version of Vegetarian Mexican would start with one of my all time favorite recipes Crunchy Black Bean Tacos. I’d serve them with Avocado Cream, and Fresh Juice Margaritas. Then finish the meal with Cinco Leches Cake.
Let me know if you try one or all of these recipes. Bon Appetit!
Do you remember what you were like when you were a child? You were fearless, unbridled, and free of the smudges left by other people’s opinions and motivations. If you said you were an astronaut, you were an astronaut despite the technicalities of school and space travel. But somewhere along the way, you grew and fear within you grew as well. The fear of expectation, failure, and entitlement took over and before you knew it, you couldn’t bear to call yourself an astronaut, let alone become one.
This is what happened to me. My oldest memory is that of calling myself a writer. From age three on, the answer I always gave to every adult who asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up was a writer. “Writer” became my identity. It didn’t matter if the writing was bad or if I never finished a project. I knew that somehow it would all work out, and I would find my name on a glossy, well-bound book on the shelf.
I can’t tell you when it started, but something snapped along the way. I found it uncomfortable to call myself a writer. Then I found it uncomfortable to write at all. Even after years of school, years of practice, and years of reading books, I still couldn’t seem to feel confident in the work I was doing. What was the right story, the right character, the right word? Soon, the fear became a dull excuse that manifested into too exhausted or too busy or too uninspired. Now it’s been months since I’ve touched my work, and that dream I was so sure of as a child is drifting further and further out to sea.
Unused creativity is not benign. If you find that you are called to create something and you resist that call, it will slowly eat away at you.
– Elizabeth Gilbert
I believe this to be true. I find myself resenting authors for their successes. I resent myself for my lack of discipline and confidence. And I miss my work. This must mean that the ideas and stories and characters that keep boggling my brain want to be heard. They don’t want me to leave them behind. Perhaps there is art that you have left behind too whether writing, drawing, dancing, film making, or singing.
Here are three resources that might help you find the courage to work:
This is more of a class or workshop than a self-help book. Cameron provides concrete exercises and techniques to move you past your block or fear and into a space of making things that feels genuine and authentic.
Bringing Big Magic to life, this podcast features people who are struggling with creating and ask Elizabeth Gilbert for advice. Besides giving her own information and encouragement, Gilbert brings in professionals like Cheryl Strayed, Neil Gaiman, and Brene Brown to share their stories of how they conquer their fear and come to a place of fulfillment in their work.
I hope these resources might kick start your creativity. Let me know if you have ever felt fearful of making things or sharing your art, and I’ll be back with another post about my journey from reader to writer.
Welcome friends to the magical month known as January. Or as I like to think of it, Diet Month! I’m sure we’ve all done this little dance with ourselves once, twice or several times. You stuff yourself in the fall (or all year long, am I right?) and then you decided to pull it all back together and jump on the diet train at the beginning of the year.
A few years ago I had amazing success loosing weight and feeling great when I adopted a plant based diet. It was a game changer for me and was unlike anything I had ever tried before. I read Kimberly Snyders’s book, The Beauty Detox, and jumped in with both feet! When I decide to do a diet or a lifestyle change (as popular media wants you to think of it) I want to lose weight but I also want to do something healthy that’s going to make me feel better. And I did feel better for around 2 years but as with most diets I slowly started letting the junk food creep back into my daily eating and then it all went to crap. I stopped eating well, so I started feeling bad and then I stopped working out!
I let myself just eat whatever I wanted to for awhile to see how I would feel and I’ll tell you I felt horrible! I was always hungry so I was constantly eating. About 6 months ago I decided to try Whole30. This was a great way to cut out the junk and remember to just limit my meals to simple, real food.
After doing Whole30 I started to hear a lot about Keto. Apparently it was the most Googled diet in 2018. So I pick up this book…
Let me start by saying if you are interested in doing Keto, please do your research because there is way more to it than just eating bacon and cheese! I’ve read several books, listened to podcasts and absorbed a lot of good and bad information online. I started my Keto journey and so far my results have been great. I feel good, I don’t have bloating and most importantly I’m not being ruled by constant hunger! How long will I stay on Keto? Who knows, but right now its the right thing for me and I think that’s what this magical month of January is all about – finding what works for you and hopefully helps you feel better in 2019.
Summary: In a land where the inhabitants are separated into castes, the lowest caste is the Paper caste. Eight girls each year from the Paper caste are selected to serve the king. When Lei, a shop girl from a small village, is taken from her family to the palace she is determined to not let her fate be decided by the king. While learning the lessons of a consort she does the unthinkable and falls in love. However, danger and intrigue are entering her life and she must decide where she stands in the coming conflict.
Highlights: The cover is absolutely stunning! This book reminded me a lot of The Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor. The world building is beautiful and the characters are very unique. There are three castes in Ikhara. The Paper caste are humans. The Steel caste have human and animal features. And at the top is the Moon caste who are completely animal in a human form. The descriptions were wonderfully done of each character and their appearance.
Young adult books are slowly becoming more grown up and inclusive. I really enjoy this even though the themes are sometimes hard to deal with. I liked the relationship that Lei forms while living at the palace. It was a nice slow romance that built rather than just happened instantly. The author delves into scary issues such as rape and slavery. While reading these are hard it is a real thing in this world. I think it was handled very well. We know it happens but it is not overly graphic. It also shows the girls dealing with it afterwards. Having each other to talk to about it helps them deal with their situation which is important.
FYI: Trigger warning is sexual abuse and violence.
Lovely library patrons, I must confess something absolutely atrocious. I have been in a reading slump. I can feel you clutching your pearls as you read those miserable words. As readers, we delight in the stories, the characters, and the magic of a book, but sometimes, our minds turn dreary and our attention spans rival that of a two-year old. Sometimes, we just don’t want to read.
This slump couldn’t have attacked at the worst possible time. With only a month left in 2018, I’m seeing my goal of reading 100 books for the year drifting further and further away. It’s a shameful thing, but I am determined to break this slump and return to the hours curled up with a world in my lap. Here are five tips to ease this burden if you find yourself sitting with the slump monster.
How can I say such things?! Have I betrayed my clan of librarians and forever ruined our good name? No, because frankly, we’ve all been there. Reading should be fun. It’s a hobby, a leisure activity, and just like sometimes you get tired of sewing or scrapbooking, you can get tired of reading. It doesn’t mean the love of it has left. It’s just taking a vacation. So take a vacation too. Don’t force yourself to read. Binge watch that Netflix show, take walks with your family, start up a new exercise or just stare blankly at the wall. A part of you is telling yourself that you need something whether it’s rest or re-connection. Instead of pushing that away, listen to it and soon, you’ll find yourself craving a book.
Make It Social
Reading is primarily a solo activity, and that can make isolating. To get out of a slump, try mixing it up by adding others to your experience. Join a book club (we have some awesome ones) or even read a book informally with a friend. I’m currently reading a book recommended by one of my good friends who heard about it through Reese Witherspoon’s book club. Once I finish it, we’ll meet up to discuss!
When the slump monster shows up, it’s not the time to bust out Anna Karenina. It’s the time to give your brain a little breather with a shorter work. Try reading a book that’s less than 100 pages or something light in content. Remember, it’s perfectly acceptable for grown-ups to read middle grade and kid’s fiction! Also feel free to give poetry a try. There’s a pretty awesome collection of poetry books to download on Hoopla!
Read a Favorite
Why visit something unknown when you could return to a world you know and love! A reading slump is the perfect time to revisit an old favorite story from childhood or your favorite book from a few years ago. You’ll gain something new from your current perspective, and it might be just the push you need to get you back on track.
Mix It Up
Seeing your reading slump as an opportunity instead of an opposition can be a helpful shift. Try diving into a genre you would have never explored before or an author that you’ve heard a lot about but never given a chance. Also use this time to mix up the way that you consume stories. Download an audio book or give e-books a try. You might even want to read a play or script. It all counts, and it all can help in moving you forward.
No matter what you do, remember that reading slumps aren’t forever. A book will come along and re-spark your interest or time will pass and you’ll find yourself reaching out for a great story!
Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?
Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jump-start her career.
Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late ’80s and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds – revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love – Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.
This book was so readable, and deliciously yummy! Reid has a great talent for writing likable characters, and that makes it impossible to put her book down. I have yet to hear from someone who read this and didn’t really enjoy it. So if you find yourself in one of those horrible reading slump this books will pull you out. And if you aren’t in a reading slump you should still dive into this one. You won’t be sorry!!
Now for the food. This book let me indulge in one of my favorite genres of eating, the old school steak house meal! Did you mouth just water thinking about it, because mine did! First we’re going to start with a Wedge Salad, because that’s just what you do! This one is from Ina (who else?) and it’s of course wonderful. Then I want a big beastly Butter-Basted Rib Eye Steak. This time of year I find myself pan searing steaks more then grilling. So to do this right you absolutely must have a cast iron skillet! If you don’t have one 1. Why not? 2. Go get one ASAP! You can find them anywhere from Walmart to Williams-Sonoma. It will live forever and you can pass it down to your children! Ok, I’m done with my rant. Now we’re going to follow up that steak with a baked potato. I’m not going to give you a recipe for this I’m just going to tell you a life changing way to make baked potatoes. Rub those taters with a little olive oil and then roll them in coarse kosher salt and dried rosemary. Put them on a baking sheet in a 450 oven until you can squeeze them and they feel soft inside 50 mins. to an hour depending on the size of the potato. When these are done they will have a crazy crispy skin that makes me cry tears of joy just thinking about it. Pair this with a nice drinkable Pinot Noir and you’ve got yourself an amazing dinner.
Kirsten Raymonde will never forget the night Arthur Leander, the famous Hollywood actor, had a heart attack on stage during a production of King Lear. That was the night when a devastating flu pandemic arrived in the city, and within weeks, civilization as we know it came to an end.
Twenty years later, Kirsten moves between the settlements of the altered world with a small troupe of actors and musicians. They call themselves The Traveling Symphony, and they have dedicated themselves to keeping the remnants of art and humanity alive. But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who will threaten the tiny band’s existence. And as the story takes off, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, the strange twist of fate that connects them all will be revealed.
If you didn’t already know Station Eleven is this year’s Wichita Big Read. There are lots of great events going on now through November 15 in Wichita, at our library and at other surrounding libraries. You can find our events here https://derbylibrary.com/events/programs.
So without spoilers for those who haven’t read the book it’s a post apocalyptic novel that stemmes from a world wide pandemic. In a recent library podcast, Novel Idea the Library Podcast we were asked what our final meal would be before the collapse of modern civilization. Give this podcast a listen to find out what mine is. You won’t be disappointment!
Over the six years I have been working here at the library I have found so many things to love. One of those is audio books. I listen to them on my phone and in my car. I have such a long list of books to read that listening has helped knock a few off.
My favorite series to listen and relisten to is Harry Potter. The narrator, Jim Dale, is wonderful. He has different voices for each character. He brings the story to life and makes for a very enjoyable road trip. I recently picked up book three, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, for the umpteenth time. Each time I read/listen to it I find little things I missed before and I love it even more after each read.
First line: Harry Potter was a highly unusual boy in many ways.
Summary: Harry Potter is in this third year at Hogwarts. He is the boy who lived. He defeated the Dark Lord. However, when Sirius Black escapes from Azkaban he finds himself once more in danger. As the Dementors surround the school, Harry’s school year proceeds as normal with Quidditch and classes until he learns that Black is coming to kill him.
Highlights: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite of the series! I have loved it since the first time reading it. I have reread it numerous times. I think one of the main reasons is that it is a little different from the rest of the books. Voldemort does not play a strong role in the story and we learn more about what happened on that fateful Halloween night. What happened to Harry’s parents? Who were they? They became more fleshed out. They had friends. They went to Hogwarts.
Rowling builds so much of the world in this book. The Knight Bus alone is pure genius. I love Ernie and Stan. I was so excited that Universal Studios even has a replica of the Knight Bus outside Diagon Alley. In addition, we get to spend more time in the wizarding world. Harry explores more of Diagon Alley and visits the town of Hogsmeade. While reading I wanted a nice hot cup of Butterbeer. I’ve had the iced version at Universal but warm sounds rather tasty as well.
There are many new characters and each of them adds to the story in their own ways. Even the animals like Buckbeak and Crookshanks. I love the character of Sirius Black. He is very complex. I do not know what it is that draws me to his character but he is always my answer for my favorite character. Plus, Remus Lupin is hands down the best Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. The lesson with the boggarts is lots of fun to read.
We all know him, that 16th century bard with the weird hair and a penchant for killing off everybody in his plays. You’ve probably had to endure the musings of that Prince of Denmark or the fawning of the young lovers in a high school English class and perhaps you’ve even been dragged to a bloody production a time or two. You might have even encountered one of the countless adaptations while searching for something to watch on Netflix or seen one of his quotes on a museum wall, but for most of us, Shakespeare is fairly unreachable. As Mare Winningham, a well-known actress and decorated Shakespearean performer, once said:
“It’s practically in another language.”
Only in the last ten years have I really considered giving Shakespeare a chance, and even still, it’s required a scholarly mood. However, in the past month, I think I’ve finally cracked the code on how to actually enjoy, and dare I say, even adore Shakespeare.
It all started with a discovery on YouTube. One of my favorite actresses is Joanna Vanderham. I loved her performance in BBC’s The Paradise, and in a passing video search of her other works, I found this rehearsal video of Othello on the Royal Shakespeare Company’s channel. It’s so cool! Joanna plays Desdemona, and it showed her and another actress performing their characters with the director’s input. I’d never read Othello so I became instantly intrigued by the story, and this director’s take on it. After watching all of the rehearsal videos on YouTube, I found that I can actually watch this production online (and I don’t even have to leave my house!)
Digital Theater is this really awesome streaming site that lets you watch many Royal Shakespeare Company productions. These shows are legit. They’re directed by esteemed professionals and performed by trained Shakespearean actors who live and breathe this stuff. One of the actors, Antony Sher, even writes books about his year in study of each character. So I rented Othello and was entirely engrossed. Shakespeare was coming to life for me just in seeing it actually come to life. I must confess, though, that at times I got lost so that’s where my next tool in this toolbox comes in.
SparkNotes has this website called No Fear Shakespeare, and it’s phenomenal. It’s basically a line by line translation of Shakespeare’s works, but the translations aren’t watered down. In fact, the translations sometimes are even beautiful in their own right. For the first time in all my reading of Shakespeare, I truly understood everything that was going on. I saw how devious Iago really was, why Cassio felt so ruined, and why Othello behaved erratically. Once I watched the RSC performance, I went back and read the entire play on the SparkNotes. I read Shakespeare’s lines first and then read the translations just to make sure I grasped it. I took my time with it instead of rushing through and losing meaning. I even kept a file for all of my favorite lines. By the end of Othello, I truly felt the story.
“To mourn a mischief that is past and gone
Is the next way to bring new mischief on.”
– Iago, Othello
So You Want To Actually Like Shakespeare?
Pick a play that you’re generally interested in. It could be something as popular as Romeo and Juliet or more lighthearted like Much Ado About Nothing or The Taming of the Shrew. Then I’d recommend reading a summary of the entire story. Shakespeare isn’t about spoilers and surprises. It’s about feeling for the motivations of these characters and finding lines that are treasured gems so get a grasp of the basic plot first (and for some plays, that’s a feat in itself). Then if you can, I’d recommend renting a performance of it on Digital Theater (the prices are shown in pounds, but when you rent a show, it converts the price to dollars automatically). Watch it, have the No Fear Shakespeare tab open, and just revel in the performance, art direction, and style. After you’ve seen the play, I would then actually give reading the play on No Fear Shakespeare a chance. Read the original lines and use the translation for guidance. With the story having sunk into your soul a bit, you’ll find that lines jump out at you with so much more meaning.
This is definitely a different way of reading. It’s slower, more methodical, and requires a little time for your brain to settle into it, but I promise, if you give this a try with even one of Shakespeare’s plays, you’ll really feel different about it. For me, I’m planning King Lear next. Antony Sher’s performance looks like a masterpiece.