Celebrate your freedom to read…banned books.

Banned Book Week is September 29 – October 6.

Banned Books Display

I love this display! The blurb on the front describes the book and the reason it was banned, and then you flip up the label to see what's inside!

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Songs Without Words by Ann Packer

I so enjoyed Packer's debut novel, The Dive From Clausen's Pier, so I was eager to read her follow up novel which follows the sisterly relationship between Sarabeth and Liz, and what happens when Liz's daughter Lauren makes a drastic decision, driving them apart.

This is not a fast-paced, action-packed novel, instead reveling in the mundane parts of life that mingle with the drama and the sadness. I loved watching the unfolding of the characters within (though, admittedly, the male characters were less vivid), and watching to see them come full circle before finding themselves again.

I really enjoyed this novel - it perfectly suited the kind of novel I needed right now: quiet, careful, character-driven.



Killer Instinct by Joseph Finder

I admit it, I pretty much picked this audiobook up because Scott Brick was the narrator. ;-)

This novel of suspense takes place in the business world - Jason Steadman is a salesman trying to get that "killer instinct" that would catapult him to the top of the corporate ladder. When his car gets towed, he strikes up conversation with Kurt the tow truck driver, an ex-Special Forces guy with whom he has several things in common. Jason helps Kurt land a job in security and a place on the company softball team, and all goes well until...things start happening.

The tide turns for Jason, and he has a feeling he knows why: Kurt. And not for the better...

This is a great novel that builds and builds the tension and suspense, even though, as the reader, you KNOW what's going on, and what's going to happen, you are still holding your breath through much of it.

I loved the characters and setting of this novel, and found the ending satisfying, if a bit tidy. This was a new author for me, and will be a great recommendation for someone looking for suspense that DOESN'T involve cops or a PI. :-)


Note: I listened to the audio version, narrated by Scott Brick. His voice WAS Jason Steadman, and he does a tremendous job of building the tension throughout without sounding hysterical or trite. Scott Brick rocks my world - he needs a fansite. ;-)


Edge of Darkness by Cherry Adair

The "library girls" were trying to find an author that was akin to Suzanne Brockmann - someone who combined suspense with romance without it being cheesy. I saw this writer rated as being similar and thought I would give it a try.

Apparently, I grabbed the third in a trilogy (oops!), about a group of men working for T-FLAC, a paranormal SEAL team, basically. Battling terrorism, falling in love, trying to break 500 year old curses - you know, the usual for paramilitary wizards. ;-)

This was a fast book to read, but I found myself tuning out on the story at times - Adair just felt like she was trying too hard. I found the romance a bit flat, the curse a bit silly, the suspense not, and the ending too pat. Could be I just wasn't in the mood for this tale, but I guess I had higher hopes for Brockmann meets Harry Potter. ;-)

Maybe I should have started at the beginning...


The Hindi-Bindi Club by Monica Pradhan

This novel (with recipes!) was being touted as a Indian Joy Luck Club and after reading positive reviews (and seeing the captivating cover!) I knew I would enjoy it!

This novel focuses on three daughters, born and raised in America, who were childhood friends as a result of the "Hindi-Bindi Club", the group of their mothers, all born in India, who met regularly during their childhood. This novel entwines the stories of the daughters with the stories of the mothers, ultimately bringing them all together in India. This is a story of lost and found romance, mothers and daughters, and of course, food.

I really enjoyed this novel - I love being transported to another culture, and become immediately engrossed in these stories, rooting for all the characters. Beautifully written and easy to read, this was a joy to read!


I've been wanting to make a tee shirt quilt for AGES, and I finally got around to it!

I dug out the plastic garbage sack full of old, sentimental tee shirts left in the garage, and after reading various, conflicting instructions online, got to it!

Cutting into the first few shirts was actually REALLY hard...I mean, what if I messed it up? I'll NEVER get this shirt back! This is my HISTORY, here!

But then, after a while, I started cutting with reckless abandon - kind of empowering, actually. :-)

I backed all the shirts with fusible interfacing to keep them sturdy, and used a fuzzy flannel as the sashing and the back (solid black). I love how it turned out, but man it was a bitch to sew! Still, I'm really pleased!

If you've known me for a while (i.e. college or before) you probably recognize quite a selection of the shirts - and now I'll always have them as a good reminder, rather than rotting in an attic somewhere. What a cool project!

What do you think?

Tee Shirt Quilt


Spartans! Tonight We Work...the Reference Desk!

“Then I used the most valuable and unlauded investigative resource in the United States, the lowly reference librarian. Their salaries are wretched and they receive credit for nothing. Their desks are usually tucked away in the stacks or in a remote corner where they have to shush noisy high school students or put up with street people blowing wine in their faces or snoring in the stuffed chairs. But their ability to find obscure information is remarkable and they persevere like Spartans.”

—Detective Dave Robicheaux, in post-Katrina New Orleans, makes use of a library, in James Lee Burke’s novel, The Tin Roof Blowdown (Simon & Schuster, 2007), p. 354.

Damn right. :-)

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I like the song "Rock Star" by Nickelback, and I see they have recently unveiled a video to go with the song. Not only was some of it filmed in Chicago (love Chicago!), but there are lots of unexpected celebs lip syncing along in the vid – including a certain NASCAR driver.


You can see the vid for yourself right here – who else can you pick out? :-)

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eyeoftheworldRobert Jordan, author of the insanely popular (and Loud Librarian favorite) fantasy series The Wheel of Time, has died.

He was 58.

The final volume in the 12-book series remains unfinished, but friends and family have the plot as dictated to them by Jordan prior to his death.

This was the first fantasy series I ever read (beginning in college), and is the same series I am endeavoring to reread before the 12th volume is released. Now, it will be a somber occasion, but Jordan has left an indelible mark on fantasy literature, and will be missed.


Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

Larson packs a lot into the book aimed at juveniles, a Newbery honor book. Hattie, aged 16, moves to Montana after a tract of land it left to her by her Uncle Chester. In the course of the novel, she must be able to "prove up" on her land - making the claim hers for keeps.

Larson includes not just Hattie's day to day struggles, but, taking place in 1918, includes a lot of wartime sentiments of the West, struggles with German heritage, a touch of romance, the forming of new families, disaster, triumph, prayers, and even death.

This is an engaging read that doesn't shy away from touchy issues of the era, and I was particularly surprised at the ending - pleasantly, as it turned out. :-)

This is a great juvenile read - everyone loves reading about the pioneer spirit!


Signs of FallWhat fabulous weather we're having!

The temperature has dropped in the last few days, bring sunny, breezy but cool days to Southern Indiana - and I couldn't be happier. :-)

This weekend was "be a tourist in your own backyard" time for me - I went to the Kunstfest (a German arts festival) in New Harmony on Saturday morning, which was full of farmers market-type booths, food booths, German music, and everyone walking along, smiling and greeting each other. I wandered into the Roofless Church,Roofless Church received congrats from a lot of folks in Mount Vernon (my director announcement hit the papers this week), and kept my camera nearby. I bought homemade bread and butter pickles, pumpkins, homegrown blackberry jam, and a sausage burger. What a great morning!

In the afternoon, I couldn't bear to be inside, so I headed to Harmonie State Park - a state park not 15 minutes from my door that I've only visited a few times, and for specific reason. The park was virtually deserted, so I drove round and round to "learn my way around", and then got out for a lovely 3 mile hike through the silentHarmonie State Park woods. Hopping back into my car, I drove to another 1-mile hike closer to the campgrounds. The temperature was perfect, the forest restful, and but for a few "heart attack hills", was a great walk! One of the things I missed most about leaving Bloomington were the hiking trails at Griffey Lake - I'm glad to have found a substitute not far away! :-)

I spent the rest of the afternoon swinging on my porch swing, nibbling on dinner and reading.

How did you spent YOUR autumnal weekend?

I hope it was as restful for you as it was for me!

September 15

I loved how this fall leaf was "spotlit" by the sunshine, begging me to take a picture!


He was quite happy to have his picture taken!

Creek Crossing

Last gasp before "heart attack hills" start!

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The Spanish Bow by Andromeda Romano-Lax

This 550+ page novel was just released last week, but I was lucky enough to be sent a copy early to read, particularly after reading such glowing reviews in the trade mags.

This novel takes place in Spain beginning in 1892 and tracing the next forty years of Feliu Delargo's life, as he becomes a cello master, makes an unlikely duo with a tempestuous piano master, and falls in love with a violinist. Throw in the Spanish war, World War II, politics, geography, Pablo Picasso, Paris and his family, and you have a novel packed full of interwoven threads. I'm glad I recently read Polly Evans' book, so I was a bit more familiar with some of the background and geography of Spain, a country about which I'm woefully undereducated.

This is an epic novel, and I was immediately sucked into the story - and searching for cello music to listen to while I read - but towards the later chapters felt that Romano-Lax (who has SUCH a cool name) was packing a bit too much history into the story, making Feliu more of an icon of an era rather than a believable person. Still, this is an engaging novel that will make you lust for classical music, whether it is your cup of tea or not.

An impressive, beautifully written story from a first-time novelist!


The Bearded One (Trent Reznor, workin' out his manly beard for charity) was voted #7 on the list of Best Benefit Performances by Spinner.

Now that's a vote I can get behind – especially when you get to see/hear the accompanying video…


(I'm also a big fan of Trent's rendition of "Non-Entity" - piano and boombox *giggle* only - that benefited Katrina victims)


I've been horrified by the Beloit College Mindset List for a number of years now…a sign that I must, indeed, be getting old.

Kind of like those emails that make the rounds detailing "You Might Be a Child of the 80s If…"

Yeah, same thing.

Does this year's list (Class of 2011) make you feel old?

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This makes me snort with laughter every time.

Even if you aren't a NASCAR fan, I still think it's supercute. Gotta love us some Elliott. :-)



Forever in Blue by Ann Brashares

This is the final volume in the 4-part "Traveling Pants" series by Brashares. Having enjoyed the other three novels, I was both eager and sad to read the conclusion of Tibby, Bee, Carmen and Lena's story.

This title is different from the rest - the girls are separated by college now, and even throughout the entire summer never get together as a foursome, but instead go their separate ways - Turkey, theatre camp, New York City and Providence. Naturally, there is turmoil about boys, jobs, and life in general, but resolutions are finally found by the last page.

I was sad to see the conclusion of this series, but I think Brashares ended it on a hopeful, happy note, and the fearless foursome remain as tight as ever, which is nice to see, and inspiring for YAs to read.

A great series - highly recommended!


I'd like to proclaim my devotion to three novel adaptations from the 1800s.

_38152080_pride300bbcMany years ago, prompted mostly by reading Bridget Jones's Diary for the first time, I discovered Pride and Prejudice, the BBC version, with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle (I did read the novel in college).

Though everyone was agog when the Keira Knightly movie came out a year or so ago, this is far and away my favorite adaptation. I can recite almost every line, and yet I still hold my breath at the end to see if I'll get my happy ending or not.

Darcy is such a lovely character (and Colin Firth...*sigh*), and Elizabeth Bennett is truly a heroine to root for. The costumes, the countryside, and the story itself sweep me away every time. Love, love, love…

colbrandonSense and Sensibility (originally released on the big screen rather than on BBC), with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet, is just as delightful. The characters, the setting, and most importantly – the part of Colonel Brandon played by Alan Rickman – make this a winning combination.

This is another where I hold my breath (twice!) to get my happy ending, and I adore the interplay between the characters and the subtle romance of it all. Hugh Grant is actually quite good in period costume, but it's all Colonel Brandon for me as a hero.

If you haven't seen this one, you must. Lovely.

north-south-449North and South was a new one to me – I was not familiar with Elizabeth Gaskell's novel, but was urged to watch this by my colleague Gail. Oh my.

Though much darker (both in tone and in filming) than the above two, this is another great adaptation (though it takes place in the 1850s, as opposed to the Regency era of the Austen novels above). I fell absolutely in love with John Thorton (played by the beautifully broody Richard Armitage) and also with the heroine Margaret. She's a character who doesn't conform to convention, and who speaks her mind, sometimes to her detriment. Though there is only one kiss in the entire four hour film, it's one of the most romantic scenes I can remember in recent history.

These three films are like comfort food to me – when I'm low or tired, or just missing England, I pop one in, make a cup of tea and wrap up and lose myself in the past. These stories NEVER get old...

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September 8

I love a good craft fair!

Jeanne and I went to Mount Vernon, Illinois today to visit the Cedarhurst Craft Fair, a supernice fair featuring artists from all over the Midwest. The pottery was fantastic, the jewelry exquisite, the ribbon fries delicious...but the rain was a real brat!

A great day, nonetheless!


Okay, okay, so I'm only about a week overdue blogging my Labor Day weekend fun-ness. :-)

I headed up to the hometown to hang out with the fam for the weekend, and my bro-in-law scored tickets to the US Nationals (NHRA) in Indy on Sunday.

Despite the heat, the traveling sunburn and also passing out from the spell of nitro, we had a blast! I've never seen any drag racing live, and it's a RUSH! We saw Top Fuel cars (the long skinny ones), the Funny Cars (the ones that look, well, funny), racing motorcycles, Pro Stock cars, and a lot of really hot and sweaty fans.

And my god, I can't even begin to describe the sound shock, and the wave that hits you when a car passes by at ground level.

Rock on!

The next day we set out for Lake Monroe to go boating - my first venture on the boat this season. The lake was busy, but we spent a lot of great hours floating, tubing, eating and debating the merits of Munchos, Funyans and Bugles (I'm a Munchos girl, myself. Website coming soon...).

Good times. :-)

Breakfast of Champions

Breakfast of Champions

Ashley Force

Funny Cars (Ashley Force is on the right)

Big Ole Tires

We watched a Top Fuel car get torn down in about ten minutes (plus, you can see ALL the garage action without needing a pass!)


You just don't see barrels of Nitro very often. I loved that the gasman wears an actual GAS MASK to do his job...

Lake Monroe

I love Lake Monroe!

September 3

Ready for some tubing!

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It's Not About the Tapas by Polly Evans

I was looking forward to reading this non-fiction work after enjoying Evans' other travelogue, Fried Eggs With Chopsticks. This time, Evans decides to bicycle around Spain for six weeks after finding herself burnt out on her job in Hong Kong.

As someone who recently rediscovered bike riding, I thoroughly enjoyed this travelogue, as she cycles hills and valleys, and all the places she sees along the way. I've never been to Spain, so this was a great book to get a touristy peek at some of the most famous, and not so famous, places. Evans also does a great job of weaving in Tour de France history, political history, information about the monarchy, the regions, the food, and more.

This is a fun, satisfying, interesting and educational read - all in one! I hope to read Evans other travelogues soon!


Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Okay, I'm just saying this now - if this YA novel isn't nominated for a Printz Award, it's a crying shame.

What an amazing, tumultuous, emotional, brilliant, wonderful novel this is.

Clay receives a package in the mail from an anonymous source, only to realize it's a series of tapes recorded by Hannah Baker (a classmate and crush of Clay's), who happened to have committed suicide two weeks earlier.

What follows is Clay's journey through one night into Hannah's psyche, her emotions, and her thirteen reasons why - thirteen people will receive the tapes, and Clay is one of them. He becomes obsessed with listening to Hannah's reasons, and to finding out why he is on the list along with the others, while his perception of the world, and his peers, changes dramatically.

This is a truly arresting novel that I couldn't put down - the writing style, the mixing of Hannah and Clay's voices, the journey back and forth in time, and the honest way that Clay comes to the end - to Hannah's end - is just amazing fiction.

I can't rave about this one enough - it's due to be released in October (I read an ARC from our YA librarian), and I plan to recommend it to a LOT of people in the future...

Wonderful, wonderful.


Break No Bones by Kathy Reichs

I was eager to read a Reichs book after watching two seasons, back to back, of Bones. This title, released last year, features Temperance Brennan on a dig on South Carolina when a suspicious body shows up.

There are a lot of differences between show and book (obviously), including a different name of the FBI agent, different "home base" for Temperance, an ex-husband, but more than anything this Temperance felt - hard. The TV-show Tempe has some vulnerability, some depth, but this one just seems hard, unbending, kinda boring.

This is a good mystery, nonetheless, with an unusual lead character (ie, not a cop or detective), a great locale, and a lot of dead bodies by the end. Suspenseful!

(But I prefer the show. They are so gonna take away my librarian card for saying that...)