Run to the Library!

It’s hard to drive around Derby and not notice the abundance of wide, smooth bike paths that line nearly every street. According to the Derby website, there are over 25 miles of hike & bike paths within city limits!

Derby has an active running community that makes use of these sidewalks. Believe it or not the library can be a resource for runners. We have many books that offer advice and inspiration for the running community.

Runner’s Field Guide by Mark Remy
The Runner’s World magazine columnist offers a humorous guide to running and all the things needed to accomplish your goals.

Train Like a Mother by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea
If you need help getting started, this is an excellent book. It includes beginner advice and training plans from 5K all the way up to a full marathon.

Two Hours by Ed Caesar
Can the 2-hour marathon be broken? This book examines the science behind running and analyzes if and when we will see a human break 2-hours in the marathon.

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
In Copper Canyon, Mexico, lives the Tarahumara Indians. They run just to run in barefoot sling shoes. Can they beat the most accomplished ultramarathons of the United States? Writer Chris McDougall travels to Mexico to find out and finds some inspiration for his own fledgling running hobby.

The library also carries Runner’s World magazine in print and electronic form through our RBDigital app.

So lace up your running shoes and come check out some running books at the library. Or take your kids to High Park and have them run fartleks between Storywalk pages as you enjoy the latest book on display. A fartlek is fun to run and fun to say!

How do I love books? Let me count the ways . . .

Photo by Michał Grosicki on Unsplash

It’s Valentine’s Day, and as bouquets of flowers are delivered to my co-workers, I’m finding myself sitting at my desk wanting to share my love story — with books. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love books. I remember sitting in second or third grade and being enveloped by stories as my teacher read them out loud. I discovered Nancy Drew when I was in fourth grade and devoured them as quickly as I could get my hands on them. My sixth-grade teacher introduced me to J.R.R. Tolkein when he invited a group of us who were avid readers to read it as a group after school. I’m not completely sure whether it was The Hobbit that was so attractive, or the extra time we’d be allowed to hang out in the reading loft we had in our classroom, but I jumped right in and found a love for fantasy comparable to my love for mystery.

In seventh grade, my English teacher offered up What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw (probably more recognizable as The 4:50 From Paddington) by Agatha Christie. I was utterly enthralled with Dame Agatha’s ability to weave a mystery so completely, and seemingly so effortlessly as I breathlessly reached the end of each of her stories and waited for Miss Marple or Monsieur Poirot to unravel the threads that identified the murderer in their midst. Eighth-grade English introduced me to Ponyboy and Sodapop and Johnny. I learned how important it was to “stay gold.”

 Also around this time a brand new library branch was built just a couple blocks from my house. No more waiting for a bookmobile or being limited to the books in the school library, or bugging my parents to take me to the nearest public library, which was several miles away. A whole new world opened up to me and I would ride my bike down to the library several times a week. The summer between ninth and tenth grades I read 93 novels, thanks to the proximity of that library. My dad hung a hammock in our backyard, and everyone in my family knew that was where to find me that summer after I’d done my daily chores (and sometimes before).

Since that time I have always chosen to read as much as possible. It’s my escape from the everyday. It’s one way that I find happiness. It brings me peace when life gets turbulent.

Books are magic. They transport me to places I’ve never been, to new worlds. They introduce me to characters of all shapes, sizes, colors and temperaments. I can visit the past. I can travel the universe or stay right at home. Because of books, my eyes are opened to possibilities, problems, perspectives, and people I might otherwise never have contact with. I can fall in love over and over and over. I can revisit my favorites places and old friends time and time again.

Maybe some of you feel the same way.

Lit Pairings – Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O’ Nan

Perched in the far corner of a run-down New England mall, the Red Lobster hasn’t been making its numbers and headquarters has pulled the plug. But manager Manny DeLeon still needs to navigate a tricky last shift–just four days before Christmas and in the midst of a fierce blizzard–with a near-mutinous staff and the final onslaught of hungry retirees, lunatics, and holiday office parties. All the while, he’s wondering how to handle the waitress he’s still in love with, his pregnant girlfriend, and where to find the present that will make everything better.

I find that most people have serious feelings about Red Lobster. If you grew up when I did, in the late 80’s and the 90’s going to “The Lobster” was a big event! It was probably someone’s birthday or other special occasion, and best believe you were hoping there was an “all you can eat shrimp” situation going down.

However, as I’ve aged my love for The Lobster has waned. Like most food/restaurants we loved as kids it just doesn’t seem to taste as good now. So while reading this book I decided to do a little mini Lobster feast at home. First and foremost you need the Cheddar Bay Biscuits. In my opinion these are just as good if not better then the originals. Next you need to plan your fishy feast. Although not an official Lobster recipe I promise you won’t be disappointed with The Barefoot Contessa’s Baked Shrimp Scampi.

I’d love to know what were your favorite Red Lobster recipes growing up? Do you still enjoy it as an adult?

 

Book review: Fallout

Fallout (V.I. Warshawski #18) by Sara Paretsky

3.5 stars. I liked it quite a bit, but I’m not sure I “really liked it.”

First line: “The police say it was drug-related, ma’am. They think August was stealing to deal.”

Summary: Private detective V.I. Warshawski is on the case again, but this time the case takes her to Lawrence, Kansas. When African-American former actress Emerald Ferring and a young African-American filmmaker, August Veriden, disappear after going to Kansas to film Emerald’s life story, Vic is on the case at the request of Bernie. The deeper Vic digs into Emerald and August’s disappearance, the more mysteries she uncovers, and the greater the danger she realizes they, and she, face.

Highlights: This is a tightly written suspense novel, with new information popping up regularly, and when I was in the middle of the book, I wondered how it could all come together. It does, and it does well. There are a cast of characters and even the minor characters are fairly well-developed. I was never quite sure who I could trust, and it seemed like Vic felt the same way throughout the story.

Lowlights (or what could have been better): This book might just require too much of a suspension of disbelief, unless you kind of have an inclination to buy into conspiracy theories.

FYI: If you are from Kansas and familiar with the Lawrence area, you’ll have to recognize right off that this is not the Lawrence you know. Paretsky took liberties in creating landmarks that don’t exist in the area. Roll with it.

Book Review: An Enchantment of Ravens

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

First Line: My parlor smelled of linseed oil and spike lavender, and a dab of lead tin yellow glistened on my canvas.

Summary: Isobel lives in a land ruled by the faerie courts except that these faeries are not the pixie dust-throwing, nature-loving creatures from stories and lore. These faeries are alien, vicious, manipulative, and the only thing they love more than their own immortality is the art of Craft. Faeries cannot wield a pen, a paintbrush, a cooking spoon, or a sewing needle without disintegrating to ash. Therefore, they seek the services of artists like Isobel who will effortlessly paint their portrait. Isobel is the master of her craft and sought out by the most prestigious faeries including the powerful Autumn Prince. But when she paints human sorrow in the prince’s eyes, she infuriates him and is forced to journey to the land of Faerie to suffer the consequences.

High Points: The best part of this story is the writer’s use of language. This book is for readers who love a good metaphor. The writer paints such a vivid and magical image of this world, and its flowery and sophisticated prose will sweep you off your feet and right into the enchanted land of the Fae. This book is also excellent for artists, especially painters. Isobel loves her craft and prides herself on its perfection. The way she processes her art is fascinating and gripped me through the story.

Low Points: This book has two main flaws for me; distraction and “insta-love.” The book tends to distract itself with its own metaphors and artistry to the point that the actual plot gets muddled at times. The middle portion of the book is primarily a journey story in which the characters are traveling from one place to the next in the faery world. At times I found myself asking why they were going somewhere in the first place. The book also suffers from the “insta-love” curse meaning the main character, Isobel, and the Autumn Prince fall in love much too quickly. It’s a typical trope in young adult fiction and over time, I began to feel for their relationship, but it took most of the book for me to accept it.

FYI: This book is a stand-alone young adult novel, a rarity in the genre. I read half of this book and listened to the other half on audio and highly recommend the audiobook experience.

Library staff’s favorite reads of 2017

We work in a library, and as you’d expect, most of us are active readers. While few of us can keep up with Ashley (who read over 130 books last year!), many of us definitely spend a lot of our spare time reading, and we want to share some of the books we enjoyed reading most in 2017.

These are not necessarily books that were released in 2017, in fact some of them are  a few years old. One thing they have in common though, is that someone who works here in the library read them last year and loved them. And now we want to share them with you! Below is the name of each staff member who shared a title and the title and author of the book they recommend. Click on the title of the book and it will take you right to the catalog entry for the book, where you can place it on hold to read it yourself!

Justin: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
Rachel: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Kathryn: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Maycie: The Raven Cycle Series by Maggie Stiefvater
Linda: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelley
Chelsea: Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
Alyssa: Emma by Kaoru Mori (YA manga)
Kristy N: Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Ashley: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Megan: My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
Carri: Took by Mary Downing Hahn
Tami: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
Cori: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

And if you are looking for more reading suggestions, remember to visit our website at www.derbylibrary.com and click on “New & Recommended” under the Books & Media tab.

Lit Pairings – Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #1) by Louise Penny

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montréal and yet a world away. Jane Neal, a long-time resident of Three Pines, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more but Gamache smells something foul this holiday season…and is soon certain that Jane died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter.

I first heard about this series while listening to the podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour. The reviewer said this was one book she really thought was best enjoyed on audio. So I put it on hold through RB Digital, and because of  it’s popularity I had to wait for it for several weeks. Let me tell you it was worth the wait! Because the story takes place in Quebec there are so many beautiful accents and french words I would have butchered them without having it read to me! This series spoke to me in so many ways. The characters are amazing and the descriptions of the meals they enjoyed were drool worthy. I will admit that the first book wasn’t an earth shattering read, but if you enjoy it please move on to the next book in the series. I think each one is better than the one before.

Now on to the FOOD! It’s really hard to narrow it down to just a few recipes, but I think keeping with the french bistro vibe is the way to go. Steak Frites is one of my favorite bistro dishes and it’s really very simple and delish. Serve with a nice red wine and finish with this easy French Apple Tart.

You may or may not know this but if you live in or around the Wichita KS area you are lucky enough to have a french bistro close by. You could take  your audio book to Georges French Bistro and enjoy a lovely meal with no dishes to clean afterward. I’m planning to go once the weather warms up and sit outside on their Paris inspired patio.

Let me know what french dishes are your favorite!

 

Book Review – Two Girls Down

Two Girls Down by Lousie Luna

First Line – Jamie Brandt was not a bad mother.

Summary – When two young sisters disappear from a strip mall parking lot in a small Pennsylvania town, their devastated mother hires an enigmatic bounty hunter, Alice Vega, to help find the girls. Immediately shut out by a local police department already stretched thin by budget cuts and the growing OxyContin and meth epidemic, Vega enlists the help of a disgraced former cop, Max Caplan. Cap is a man trying to put the scandal of his past behind him and move on, but Vega needs his help to find the girls, and she will not be denied.

Highlight – This is the kind of book that has you sitting on the edge of your seat, unable to put it down until you finish the last page.  Great original characters and so many twists and turns! I hope this spins off into a series.

Lowlight – I can’t really think of any.

FYI – Some graphic scenes involving children.

 

Book Review – Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

I received this ARC from Netgalley.

First Line – My dear friend, Roz Horowitz met her husband online dating, and Roz is three years older, and fifty pounds heaver than I am, and people have said not as well preserved, so I thought I would try it even though I avoid going online too much.

Summary – Aviva Grossman, an ambitious congressional intern in Florida, makes the mistake of having an affair with her boss–and blogging about it. When the affair comes to light, the beloved congressman doesn’t take the fall. But Aviva does, and her life is over before it hardly begins: slut-shamed, she becomes a late-night talk show punch line, anathema to politics. She sees no way out but to change her name and move to a remote town in Maine. This time, she tries to be smarter about her life and strives to raise her daughter, Ruby, to be strong and confident. But when, at the urging of others, Aviva decides to run for public office herself, that long-ago mistake trails her via the Internet and catches up–an inescapable scarlet A. In the digital age, the past is never, ever, truly past. And it’s only a matter of time until Ruby finds out who her mother was and is forced to reconcile that person with the one she knows.

Highlights – Zevin has a way of writing about peoples flaws that feels very natural. You find yourself rooting for all the characters, and it doesn’t matter if you like them or not.

Lowlights – There were times where the story felt like it was being drawn out more than it needed to be.

FYI – Sexual situations and some strong language.

Harry Potter

2017 marks the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter!  As a person who loves all things Harry Potter this is a big year.  But this has not always been the case.

When the books were first released my dad bought them in the hope that they would get my younger sister interested in reading.  She has never been a reader and he had heard that this was something that was getting kids to read more.  But try as he might he never got her to pick one up.  He read the first four in quick succession.  I can remember listening to him laugh while he read the scene where Mad-Eye Moody turned Malfoy into a ferret and bounced him around the halls of Hogwarts.

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry at Universal Studios Orlando

I was not very interested in the stories of a young wizard because I preferred historical fiction.  They seemed silly to me until the day that one of my friends started reading them.  She started telling me how much she liked them and I decided to break down and try them out.  I was hooked from the first page.  I was a sophomore in high school when I started Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and the first movie was coming out in November.  In a month I had read books 1-4 and then the wait began for book 5 (in which I cried my eyes out at the end).  Then 6.  Then 7.  But the wait was worth it.

Fire breathing dragon above Gringotts at Universal Studios Orlando

Ever since I picked up that first book I have been a devoted fan.  I have pre-ordered all the books, went to the theaters for all the movies and visited the theme parks in Orlando.  When I visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter I was instantly transported into the books.  The shops, actors and rides were breathtaking.  I spent Thanksgiving morning eating an English breakfast at The Three Broomsticks.  I downed multiple glasses of butter beer outside the Hog’s Head Inn.  I rode the Hogwarts Express.  I battled dragons, escaped from Gringotts and flew on a broom through the grounds at Hogwarts.  I even got myself a wand.  This is every Harry Potter reader’s dream!

Ashley in front of the Knight Bus at Universal Studios Orlando

I thank my dad (and my friend) every day for introducing me to the world of Harry Potter.  I found something that made me even more passionate about reading and expanded my world.  I love that still today I have kids come into the library looking for the books I read and love.  They are experiencing them for the first time and I envy them.  I re-read/re-listen to the books regularly and each time find something I missed before.

And now I have to go to London to visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour and see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on stage at the Palace Theater.