Star Lake Saloon and Housekeeping Cottages by Sara Rath

I loved the setting of this book, as well as the idea of it. Hannah Swann finds herself the unlike recipient of a group of cabins on a chain of lakes in Wisconsin. She inherits money problems, a different lifestyle and an evil mining company.

While the setting transported me, I found reading this really disjointed. I don't know if I read it in too many tiny sections or if it was the writing, but I found myself losing the thread, losing the characters (only to have them reintroduced ages later), and never really solving the "mystery". It was cute and all, but for some reason, I just didn't get "into" it, if you know what I mean.

Still, a great setting, a cute cover, a quickish read.

Sign of the apocalypse:

Scott Stapp Revs Up His "Sexy Rock and Roll" For NASCAR

Excerpted from the last time Stapp "kicked it" with NASCAR - the banquet last year:

Marissa: You know who I hate more than Scott Stapp?
Denise: No one?
Marissa: Nobody. Correct.

Ugh. Kill me.

As the rain continues to pour down, I feel like strapping on a pair of roller skates so I can zoom from Information Desk to Information Desk at the library, answering few reference questions and about 807345087345 requests for computer sign-ups.

Man, I can NOT wait for that internet sign up software we're slated to be buying...

But hey! At least the roof at the library isn't leaking anymore! Yay for no more soggy ceiling tiles, ruined books on tape, stained ceilings or damaged furniture!

CIMG0724I'm working this weekend, but had a great evening yesterday. First, Jeanne and I went out to the Point Township Church after work for their chicken supper. For $8 we got a to-go box stuffed to the gills with fried chicken, mashed potatoes, stuffing, corn, green beans, dumplings, coleslaw, bread and a slice of pie. Another thing to appreciate about small town life: the bevy of home cooked meals you can find at almost any church on almost any given weekend.

And, as my friend Megan would say, those church ladies "can cook like motherf#$&ers!"

And that place was PACKED, man!

As we walked out, I invoked Truvy from Steel Magnolias, talking about friend chicken made by fine Christian women, natch. ;-)

After dinner, we headed over to Mary's 50th birthday party, thrown by her sister and mother over at the library meeting rooms. The party was really nicely done, and even had a chocolate FOUNTAIN for dipping nibblies into!

For me, the best part was seeing Mary's reaction to learning she was going to go to Disneyland in California for her birthday - she immediately burst into tears, which made everyone else tear up. Mary's a Mickey Mouse fanatic, so this was the ultimate gift. It was really nice to see.
And yes, those are GOLD Mickey Mouse ears on Mary. :-)

Happy Birthday, Mary!

And so the rain continues as the workday comes to a close. I'm thinking a new recipe for dinner, some quality time with the NASCAR boys on tape, some new TV watching and then to bed, so we can do this all over again tomorrow!

At least I have a three day weekend coming up...things are still in the air as to what I'm doing with it though, which is kinda bumming me out. But then again, maybe it's time for a solo road trip to somewhere new and unexplored...

Assuming I can afford the gas by that point!

Happy Sunday, y'all!

The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette by Carolly Erickson

This book appealed to me since I so enjoyed the somewhat similar books of Philippa Gregory - taking a true historic figure and infusing fiction into their lives while remaining true to what is known about their lives.

This novel casts Marie Antoinette into a much more sympathetic light - no talk of cake or her hatred of the lower classes - while remaining true (at least, what I know of it) to her life. This book, written entirely in diary entries which makes it easy to read, explores her beginnings in the French court, her pathetic excuse for a husband, her lover, her struggles with the uprisings in France and her ultimate demise.

Well crafted, well written and interesting, this quick read really made me want to give the historic figure of Marie Antoinette another chance...

One of the worst reference questions I've ever received:

I had to help a local FOX affliate cameraman in a tearing great rush find a yearbook photo.

No big deal, people want to look through the yearbooks all the time.

Until I found out she and two of her friends had been in a horrific car wreck (horrific being the car completely torn in half) the night before, had only been discovered the morning after, and that all three were killed.

She was 19.

CIMG0700Ending the week on that note, it felt good to just relax on Saturday...

I went and got a pedicure, I drank tea, I made rice pudding (look at me, getting my British on).

I lay outside for hours and read books, talked to my family on the phone and closed my eyes whenever the spirit moved me.

As dusk fell, I then lay quietly, watching the most incredible moonrise I've seen in a while. It was low in the sky, orange, enormous, and perfect.
A day like that always helps.

Of course, the bustle of life caught back up with me, as it always does. The piles on my desk at work don't seem to be getting any smaller, and I've spent part of the afternoon making phone calls, working on my newspaper column and generally gearing up for the week. ''

I have indulged myself a bit today, working on my NaNo website for this year - yes, I'm going for four in a row. It wouldn't be November without it. ;-)

Still, as the week ticks by and my stress level returns to higher levels, at least I can stop and remember the image of that moon slowing rising in the east.


The Myth of You and Me by Leah Stewart

Admittedly, I was drawn to this book because of the great cover, but after no more than a few pages, I was hooked and ended up reading the 275-page novel in virtually one sitting.

Cameron's longtime employer dies, and in his final wishes demands that she deliver a package to Sonia - her onetime best friend from whom she had long since parted ways. This book traces their history, their unbreakable bond, their reasons for who they are, and explores the true bonds of friendship.

This book is summarized perfectly on the back cover: "A novel for anyone who has ever lost or found a friend".

A beautifully written, beautifully wrought tale about friendship.

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

This YA novel is, in general, unlike most YA's longer, darker, and written in the Victorian era.

Gemma Doyle moves from India to London to attend finishing school after a terrible tragedy befalls her family. She makes friends, enemies, and discovers she possesses a power unlike anything she has ever known. This novel chronicles her struggles with school, her identity and her ever-increasing power.

Dark and haunting, this is a refreshing change from the "typical" YA novel...

I love the subtle signs of autumn that creep into Indiana every year...

CIMG0696The crows beginning to gather in droves on the dome of our courthouse.

The slight bite of cool in the morning as I step outside with my coffee.

The way the landscape radically changes in the course of a few hours when a field of corn is mown down.

The first crinkled leaves on the ground, the wind skittering them across the pavement.

Autumn is my favorite time of year, and this year, I've promised myself I'm going to try and absorb every moment of it I can.

I'm going to try and unplug tv, no computer. Just my own company, a stack of books, some new recipes and an empty journal itching to be written in. My porch swing is covered in cushions, my stash of tea replenished, my body in need of stimulation from something other than a screen.

And maybe, if I close my eyes and listen, I can hear autumn approach.

Little Bitty Lies by Mary Kay Andrews

This has been on my TBR (To Be Read) list for ages, and I grabbed it the other day for a quick read.

What a fun novel! Overnight, Mary Bliss finds herself separated, penniless and without direction, in a house with a mortgage and a daughter's cell phone to pay. To save face, she tells one little lie about her husband being...gone...and things snowball from there. As expected, mayhem and mischief ensue...

This novel has the obligatory quirky best friend, love interest, rebellious daughter and more, and yet feels fresh and funny. I loved the fast pace writing and funny dialog!


We hosted our third musical event in the library for the year this week, which I think is such a twist on the traditional library atmosphere. We actually have bands inside the library, playing for hours as people sit and listen, browse for books, read the newspaper or tap their foot appreciatively at the OPACs.

This time around, it was a jazz quartet, though we have also hosted a string quartet and an Irish band. Come December, we're having a local Sweet Adelines group sing carols in the library for an hour. We have the space, the acoustics and the attitude that "this ain't your grandma's library"...why not capitalize?

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In that same vein, we're starting to see an upswing of our IM Reference services...word is getting out, and we can see teens in the library telling each other about the service. In my hour on the reference desk earlier this week, I had three IMs within minutes of each other: one to ask about an anime program our YA librarian is hosting, one to reserve a computer for a later time, and one needing help to find a movie in the library.

Part of the convo with me:

patron: where can i find the outsiders
askalexandrian: The book by SE Hinton?
patron: yeah but im talki bout the movie
askalexandrian: It's under "O" for Outsiders in the General collection of our VHS tapes. :)
patron: thanx
askalexandrian: np :)

The most interesting thing about this transaction? It was from one of our regular teen patrons, who was using a computer in the library to ask the question. He might have been too shy, too embarrassed, too something to come up to the reference desk and ask for help, but over IM? No problem.

Proof that this service is reaching the right people, on the right level.

Good stuff.

Library (2)
Even better? Getting some publicity to go with it - we've been getting nice feedback from our standard "press release" agencies, including the latest Library Hotline.

I keep telling everyone...we didn't create the idea (I leave that to smart people like Michael or Sarah), we just monitored it, watched it blossom into a full service for some libraries, then made it fit for our tiny library.

If we can, anyone can. I want to make sure everyone can see that.

(click photo to see larger version)

Some of the best things to filter through my online radar this week...

  • Depeche Mode fans who pre-order the group's new album online via iTunes will get priority when it comes to buying tickets for their upcoming tour. "During the promotional campaign, which runs through September 26, these customers receive a password that gives them access to a maximum of four priority-seating tickets from for dates on Depeche Mode's North American tour, which begins November 2 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. These tickets may be purchased beginning September 20, four days before sales open to the general public." Who's with me? Jen? Jason? SOMEBODY with a lust for Mr. Gahan?
  • Because everyone else is linking to it, and I wanna be one of the cool kids...Dubya needs a bit of a, ahem, break. My favorite part? "Is this possible?"
  • I want to buy many cute handmade items from Etsy.

So, my friend Erica made her yearly pilgramage to TinyTown in need of some new clothes, a trip over "the hill" and a place to get away and hang for a day or two.

As an added bonus, GE (our biggest factory in town) apparently learned of Erica's visit and courteously scheduled their 45th anniversary block party for the same weekend!

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We got to hang with some Colts (that photo with Peyton? De, that's all for you!), see CIMG0680one of Matt Kenseth's cars, eat lots o' free food and make art out of plastic pellets.

Shopping was also a major theme - gotta love credit cards and a kickass sale. ;-)

It was great having her visit - we ate a lot, talked a lot about friends, chakras, books, work, solarized water and the wonderfulness that is sitting outside eating an ice cream cone on a Friday night.

And really, there are no better stories than those from The House...AuthorHouse. And I thought we had good stories from my library, but we've got nothing on her tales...

Erica's haul: CIMG0685

Marissa's haul: CIMG0686

I'm pretty sure I won, but only because Eddie Bauer was having that sale...

The Priddis B&B is happy to serve, sweetie. :-)


The Wonder Spot by Melissa Bank

I enjoyed A Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing years ago when it came out, so I was looking forward to reading Banks newest work.

This book chronicles the trials, tribulations, adorations, boyfriends and life of Sophie Applebaum from her foray into Jewish school in her early teens to a new love in her 30s.

Broken into broad "sections" and divided only by breaks rather than chapters, this is a quick read that you can pick up and put down at will. You find yourself rooting for Sophie and wondering when she's going to finally find that ONE - the job, the boy, the life.

A great addition to the "chick lit" genre...

The Buffalo Soldier by Chris Bohjalian

This novel is the subject of our adult discussion group at the library this month, and I was looking forward to reading my first Bohjalian novel, after hearing great reviews of his writing.

He did not disappoint.

This novel is beautiful and lyrical, and is told from a number of different voices that interweave perfectly. The author interjects quotes from the experiences of the buffalo soldiers inside the modern-day story of a blended family, the struggle to belong, and the choices we make in our lives.

I came to cherish Alfred, the black foster boy taken in by Terry and Laura, a white couple in Vermont, as well as Laura and Alfred's "fairy godfather" Paul.

This is a beautiful novel.

Like everyone else, I have been shocked, horrified and appalled at the devastation down south...not just the hurricane, but the anarchy that followed.

I tried and tried not to feel sorry for myself as our library's 20 year old roof sprang leak after leak, endangering parts of our collection and causing me to spend most of my day walking around surveying damage, yanking out ceiling tiles, worrying about electrical fires and fretting endlessly.

I tried and tried not to feel sorry for myself as I slogged through the rain and back again on the way to work.

I tried and tried not to feel sorry for myself as the weatherstripping came loose on my front door, soaking my family room carpet.

Because I know nothing, absolutely NOTHING of the devastation these people feel.

There are days when I feel helpful and noble, when I feel like I made a contribution - to the library, to TinyTown, to my family, or just to myself.

Katrina reminds me that I'm helpless in the face of such odds.

There are only small gestures I can make...

Positive thoughts and wishes for all, keeping up to date on the latest news so I can inform any patrons who might ask or want more information, donating what I can to the Barry Manilow Fund (Barry has promised to match every donation, dollar for dollar), and putting a bunch of stuff on eBay with the idea to donate a portion of the proceeds to the hurricane relief efforts.

It's not much, but it's something. It's a small something, but it's something.

And once again, a week goes by before I have a chance to blog about LAST weekend!

Despite the frenzied attitude eminating from the parental units, we had a big family get together last weekend, which is rare since my entire family (save my parents and sister) live on a different continent from I, so when even one person is in the Midwest for a visit, it's an event!

CIMG0603My Auntie Pam, formerly of England and currently of Australia, passed through Indiana on the way out West for a holiday. Naturally, a visit to Koodie Hoo's and a famous Priddis clambake at the homestead was to be had. ;-)

Auntie Pam was just as I remembered - lively and funny, beautiful and warm. It was so great to see her again, especially after we figured out it had been 7 or 8 years since we'd seen each other last.

But hopefully it won't be that long between this visit and the next!CIMG0606

The parentals and Pam came down to TinyTown on Thursday for a bite to eat and a tour of the town (and the library, natch), and then I turned around and drove home on Friday evening (through the most horrific thunderstorms imaginable - or so I thought) and came back on Sunday.

In those two days, we...

*had a clambake

*ate at The Brick for lunch

*had an Indian feast (yeah, our lives revolve around the meal that's coming next)

*Heard my mother announce (in reference to "Crunk" or "Pimp" Cups): "I know what they are. I watch these pimps!"

*Laughed pretty hard at that statement

*Watched Cliffhanger on Sunday morning - a timeless classic *snorts*

*Bought shoes and rambled around Target with my sister

*Played a lot of Sudoku

I crashed at Michelle and Don's again, and Don's motorcycle injuries are much improved. Plus, my favorite sister and bro-in-law gave me a new memory stick for my camera! Whee! More pictures! :-)

Of course, with the spike in gas prices, I'm glad I went home last weekend, rather than this weekend. This weekend consists of enjoying the silence - cooking, reading, webbing, nascaring, napping, crosstitching, quilting, and I'm sure a few other -ings. It's good...for the body and the soul.

And yet, I've spoken to my mother on the phone 7 times today.

Topics included: me hacking up a chicken in entirely the wrong way, the Notre Dame score, her new shoes, their trip to Yellowstone starting tomorrow, my father's lack of IM etiquette and a spirited discussion about the Busch series race in California.

We may live hours apart, but they are never far from me.

Same goes for the rest of the family overseas...we don't see each other much, we don't know each other as well as other families do, we only see faces in photos, and yet, we're always there for each other, silently smiling across the miles.

A good weekend, indeed.

The rest of the weekend photos are here, but here are my favorites of the family. I love them because in almost every single one, at least one of us is laughing - a definite family trait.

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A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut

Vonnegut certainly does the Hoosier State proud. :-)

In this, a new collection of mini-memoirs written over the last five years, Vonnegut talks about age, politics, the way we treat the earth, Dubya, being a Luddite and more. As always, he is erudite and informative, while being imminently readable and funny.

Of course, the fact that he worships librarians on page 102 doesn't hurt. ;-)

While on the subject of burning books, I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength, their powerful political connections or great wealth, who, all of this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and destroyed records rather than have to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles.
So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House, the Supreme Court, the Senate, the House of Representatives, or the media. The America I loved still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.

Thanks, Kurt. We love you too.

This is a great read - read it!