In the first book in this trilogy, Adrenaline, (2011), CIA agent Sam Capra’s colleagues were killed in a bomb blast, his wife and child were abducted, and Sam was accused of committing treason. Now, desperate to find his son, Sam agrees to work for an enigmatic group called the Round Table, whose members claim to have vital information that can lead Sam to the boy. The kidnappers have offered a deadly deal. They will return his son if Sam finds the one man who can expose them and murder him. Sam is a likable, morally conflicted hero in a difficult situation. Will he? Thanks to Abbott’s skills as a storyteller we can’t tell whether Sam will commit murder to find his son. Reminiscent of Robert Ludlum, The Last Minute is the second book in a trilogy, which began with Adrenaline (reviewed in an earlier blog). Follow Sam through a third breathtaking adventure in Downfall.
A fun light read set in London! Issy Randall a typical 8-5 office worker, who rides the bus to work and shares her flat with Helena, an emergency nurse. Issy has a thing for her boss, and he seems to have a thing for her– at times. Helena thinks she is crazy to keep going back to Graeme who doesn’t want the people at work to know about their relationship.
With a layoff at work, Issy is given severance pay which she uses to fulfill her life time ambition– to own her own bakery as her grandfather had. Of course Graeme thinks she will fail and come crawling back to him, but when the banker Austin comes into the picture Issy’s love life may take a new turn.
Issy struggles with her new establishment, the Cupcake Café, where she becomes very innovative in making sure that it succeeds. Her grandfather, now in a nursing home, sends her luscious sounding recipes for sweets along with his quirky instructions. (They really do sound wonderful, although I have not tried any of them yet.) Meet me at the Cupcake Café has several interesting characters including the ironmonger who resides next door. Watch out! You may find your mouth watering for cakes and your mind wandering to London.
In The Arrangement, the second book in her Survivors Club series (The Proposal is the first), Mary Balogh has created a sweet and charming romance. Vincent has been blinded in war and has escaped to his cottage, away from his sisters and mother, to avoid their smothering and matchmaking. A kind and caring man, Vincent dreams of being more independent. Sophia has had a difficult life, knowing little love or affection from family. At a local gathering, Sophia finds herself in the position of rescuing Vincent from a husband-hunting cousin but is punished by being banished by her home. Vincent comes to her rescue and proposes and arrangement. As these two characters come to understand each other and as their relationship grows, they offer each other love, respect and independence. Mary Balogh is a master at creating characters are likeable, appealing and believable and stories that are touching and filled with both humor and romance. (Don’t let the cheesy cover prevent you from reading this one!) If you enjoy books by Mary Balogh, you might also like Mary Jo Putney or Jo Beverley.
by John Pecoraro, Assistant Director, Manhattan Public Library
An important document in our nation’s history is having its 226th birthday this year. The supreme law of the land was adopted on September 17, 1787, and ratified on March 4, 1789. The United States Constitution has endured through flush times and recessions, through times of dynamic expansion and civil war. Over its history (and ours), this living document has been amended a mere twenty-seven times.
Ratification of the Constitution was never a foregone conclusion. The new Constitution was hotly debated by men in taverns and coffeehouses, by women in parlors, and by every newspaper in the country. In “Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788,” historian Pauline Maier tells the story of the yearlong battle over ratification. Maier’s is the first major history of ratification, drawing on a vast collection of documents to weave a dramatic narrative about the hundreds of delegates to the thirteen states’ ratifying conventions.
In “Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution,” Richard Beeman captures the dynamic of the debate and the characters of the men laboring during the Philadelphia summer of 1787. Men like the brilliant James Madison, combative Gourverneur Morris, pugnacious Luther Martin, and dignified George Washington, forged the world’s most enduring, revolutionary constitution through conflict, compromise, and finally consensus.
Akhil Reed Amar’s “America’s Constitution: A Biography,” explains not only what the Constitution says, but why it says it. The author, a scholar of constitutional law, demonstrates how the story of the Constitution reflects the story of America. The Constitution was as much a product of its environment as it was of the people who created it.
The series of essays in “The Federalist” comprise a key text in the democratic system created in the wake of the American Revolution. Writing under the pseudonym, Publius, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay promoted the ratification of the Constitution in a series of 85 articles published in 1787 and 1788. The majority of the articles first appeared in three New York newspapers, “The Independent Journal,” “The New York Packet,” and “The Daily Advertiser.” Later published under the title of “The Federalist; or, The New Constitution,” the articles described the ideas behind the American system of government.
In “Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution,” historian Woody Holton provides the startling discovery that the primary purpose of the Constitution’s framers was not to protect civil liberties and the people’s freedom, but to make America more attractive to investment. In this eye-opening interpretation of the Constitution, Holton explains how the same class of Americans that produced Shays’ Rebellion in Massachusetts (as well as rebellions in several other states) ultimately prevailed to produce the Constitution we now revere.
Was the purpose of the Constitution really to limit government? Why didn’t the framers of the Constitution include a Bill of Rights? These are samples of the provocative questions Ray Raphael asks in “Constitutional Myths: What We Get Wrong and How to Get it Right.” Instead of speculating about what the framers of the Constitution would do today, Raphael seeks to understand what they did during their own time, and on their own terms.
David O. Stewart traces the struggles among the delegates to the Philadelphia Convention in “The Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution.” Just who were these men who make the Constitution? History paints them as colorful characters: Hamilton, Morris, Randolph, and many others now largely forgotten. At some point during the hot Philadelphia summer, half of the delegates threatened to walk out. A few did. Stewart’s book is a suspense story. The delegates struggled with difficult decisions as they tried to balance power in the hands of the people with a central government having the power to make decisions important for all.
Websites concerning the Constitution are plentiful. Begin at the National Archives site for the full text as well as facsimiles of the original document, and questions and answers about the Constitution and other landmark documents in American history.
You’ll find a highly accessible, easy to use version of the Constitution at http://constitutionus.com. Also visit the History Channel site at www.history.com/topics/constitution for speeches, videos, and photo galleries illuminating the Constitution. You’ll also find articles on the major characters, themes, and events in constitutional history.
Written from the point of view of a diagnosed sociopath, M.E. Thomas will have you examining the lives of everyone around you and wondering, “Are you a sociopath?” It’s written partially to help reveal the truth behind sociopaths and their behavior and partially to help other sociopaths feel connected.
It describes Thomas’ struggles to relate to empathetic individual while asserting her humanity. Thomas is manipulative, charming, confident, reckless, and intelligent. She climbs the career ladder quickly and uses her charm to get what she wants. On the flip side, Thomas is functioning member of society. She is a published author in her field of choice and popular among both her colleagues and students. Thomas is also an active member of the Church of Christ. She adheres to its strict restrictions. She loves her family members deeply and maintains a healthy relationship with her boyfriend. She is a highly functioning sociopath.
She tells the story of her own personal journey, beginning with her original suspicions of being different and concluding with the creation of her website: Sociopath World. Set up like a blog, it includes the casual speculation on historical figures and creates a community for sociopaths or people who know sociopaths.
Her personal struggles are combined with the stories of people who have submitted to her blog and studies that are seamlessly included. Some of the stories confirm stereotypes about sociopaths, but many offer insight. By the end of the book, sociopaths no longer feel like monsters. As Thomas readily asserts, they are not always the serial killer monsters often imagined. Sociopaths are pragmatic and calculating, but not necessarily heartless.
If I had to categorize this book, I would say that it reads like a memoir written by sociopath. She is charming and conversational, but also incredibly prideful. She freely admits to her flaws, but does not feel shame or guilt. It’s a very enlightening read.
This book is perfect for anyone who finds sociopaths fascinating and is too curious to resist. I know I was.
Elin Hilderbrand’s latest novel is a story about families, relationships, marriage and love. In Beautiful Day, a wedding is being planned. The bride, Jenna, is making all of her plans based on suggestions made by her late mother. Her mother Beth, diagnosed with cancer and knowing she would not live to see her youngest daughter be married, created a notebook with instructions on planning everything from the rehearsal dinner, dresses and invitations to the reception and thank you notes. The location of the wedding, Nantucket, allows for wonderful descriptions of the local scenery. The story is told from the point of view of several different characters, which offers insight into thoughts and feelings of those characters. The characters are well-developed and memorable, and their relationships are believable and complex. Their stories are told with both drama and humor and are interwoven with the wedding plans of Jenna, offering up a story filled with a wide range of emotions, from sadness to joy and of course, love. Author Hilderbrand excels at telling emotional stories about families and relationships and Beautiful Day is an excellent example of her work!. If you enjoy Elin Hilderbrand, you might try novels by Luanne Rice or Kristin Hannah.
Leanne Shirtliffe may be the new Erma Bombeck. For those who never knew the humorist Erma Bombeck, she entertained us with her hilarious writings on motherhood and parenting. Now, Canadian Leanne Shirtliffe has written a debut novel with which every parent can laugh along. This mother of nine year old twins shares her self-deprecating stories and hilarious takes on life as a working mom. In the margins you will find parenting tips such as:
To help you survive raising children, you need to “outwit, outplay, outlast” them each day. Or hire a babysitter. ——- If you need assistance while changing a baby’s diaper in an airplane bathroom, light a cigarette. ——- Keep an emergency vegetable tray in the fridge. If other parents visit your home, pull it out and appear responsible. ——- When your child freaks out in a public space, glare at every person staring at you. Learning to “tell-off” strangers with a glance is a useful skill. Practice on your spouse.
I guarantee that you will laugh and you just find some practical advice while reading Don’t Lick the Minivan and Other Things I Never Thought I’d Say to My Kids.
By Marcia Allen
Technical Services & Collections Manager
What’s new for this fall’s adult fiction book releases? A riveting story that revolves around a long-hidden Mayan codex of epic proportions. A real puzzler of a missing person for series favorite Chief Inspector Gamache. A woman long estranged from her London family called back to her dying sister’s side. A fraudulent scheme to build a Florida museum that is little more than a land grab. A woman who thinks she holds the answers to a deadly 1929 dance hall explosion. Sound intriguing? If so, here’s more information about those new arrivals.
· “The Mayan Secrets” by co-writers Clive Cussler (real life explorer of shipwrecks) and Thomas Perry (author of the Jane Whitefield series) is the newest in the Sam and Remi Fargo adventure tales. This time out, the intrepid explorers have stumbled upon a codex that reveals much about the lives and beliefs of the Mayan people. Complications arise when another treasure-seeker vows to have the book at any cost. Armchair adventure at its best.
· “How the Light Gets In” by Louise Penny throws Chief Inspector Gamache into compounded difficulties. He is dealing with the disbanding of his homicide staff when an acquaintance from the village of Three Pines reports that a friend failed to arrive at a pre-planned time. The missing friend’s identity turns out to be even more surprising. Another winning mystery in a favorite series.
· “Constance” by Rosie Thomas follows the heartbreak of a woman who has been called back to her native England. Abandoned shortly after birth by her mother, Connie grew up well aware of her adoptive status. A romantic betrayal eventually severed her relationship with her sister, Jeanette, and a new life in Bali offered her an escape. Now, however, the sister is terminally ill. This is a moving tale of fractured ties to family.
· “Deceived” by Randy Wayne White is not another Doc Ford adventure. Instead the mystery is the second in the Hannah Smith series. The notion of a museum devoted to the early days of Florida pioneers is appealing, but those asked to donate artifacts to the cause are but victims of fraudulent land deals. Hannah’s on the case, but she’s also distracted by a murder. Lots of rich Florida atmosphere and a spunky main character in this mystery.
“The Maid’s Version” by Daniel Woodrell is another gritty Ozark tale of betrayal and revenge. Remember Woodrell’s “Winter’s Bone”? You’ll find more downtrodden characters and ready violence similar to that of the previous tale. This time local maid Alma Dunahew wants to know why her headstrong younger sister died during a dancehall fire. Alma’s investigation leads her to believe that a forbidden affair caused the disaster, but other family members are not so eager to learn the truth. The stark setting and pared-down writing make this another Woodrell treasure.
· “Bones of the Lost” by Kathy Reichs is a treat for the thousands of the Temperance Brennan fans. This complicated tale offers many challenges for the beloved forensic anthropologist. Among other problems, Tempe must investigate a suspicious death of a young girl, the confiscation of Peruvian dog mummies in customs, the heartbreak of her daughter, and the increasing unhappiness of her own boyfriend, Pete. Top-notch forensic details and unexpected twists make for an engrossing story.
· “Evil Eye” by Joyce Carol Oates is aptly described as “four novellas of love gone wrong.” Each character struggles with what it means to commit. Insecure teenager Lizbeth, for example, is flattered and confused in a story entitled “So Near Any Time…Always” when young attractive Desmond Parrish takes an interest in her. Soon, however, his attentions become obsessive and he begins stalking her. Other tales in this slim volume are equally disturbing.
· “In Falling Snow” by Mary-Rose MacColl brings to life the experiences of a young Australian nurse in battle-torn France of 1914. Young Iris Crane gets sidetracked from her goal of locating her younger brother when a charismatic physician convinces her to help create a field hospital for wounded troops. The uncertainties of war intervene, and her plans are drastically altered. All of this is part of a distant past, until one day she receives a telling letter. Thus, old memories are re-examined.
Fall book season is prime reading time. Browse the library catalog or the new book
collection to see the latest tempting titles.
In this thriller by Douglas Corleone, Good as Gone tells the story of Simon Fisk, a former U.S. Marshall, who now hunts for children kidnapped by estranged parents and returns them to their rightful families. After his own family tragedy, Simon refuses to work on stranger abduction cases, but when he is approached by the French police to assist them in the kidnapping of a 6 year old American child, Simon can’t refuse. As his relentless search takes him through Europe and Eastern Europe, he must race against the clock to find and rescue the child. Facing organized crime, police corruption and his own haunted past, Simon must overcome unimaginable obstacles.
This is a novel filled with non-stop action and suspense, with many plot twists and turns and an ending that is totally surprising. Simon’s character is complex, troubled, sympathetic and intense, revealing layers of his life as the story moves forward. Hopefully this is the start of a series featuring the character Simon Fisk! If you enjoy books by Lee Child or Harlan Coben, try Good as Gone!
The older I am the more I value others experiences and wisdom. With first time grandmothering in my very near future, I went looking for some words of guidance. What I found was this fun book, Eye of My Heart, written by twenty-seven “smart, gutsy writers who explode myths and stereotypes and tell the whole crazy, complicated truth about being a grandmother in today’s world.” Some of my favorite authors who have shared their heart-stories with us are Elizabeth Berg and Judith Viorst. There is much to smile and laugh at in these tales of grandparenting, but there are also stories that made me appreciate my blessings. Tales of daughter-in-law relationships that prevented grandmothers from being able to spend time with their grandchildren were heart wrenching. The great puzzle of how to fit into this grandmother relationship seems a bit easier after reading this collection of motivating and moving stories. Tomorrow is the day that it all begins for me! Bring on the grandbaby….surely the most talented and beautiful baby ever created by God and my two favorite new parents.
Manhattan Public Library is one of four libraries in Kansas selected to participate in an innovative program coordinated by the State Library of Kansas, under the national Gigabit Libraries Network’s Libraries Super-Wi-Fi Pilot. The pilot project will test the ability to provide library Wi-Fi hot spots in different areas of the community using unlicensed TV white-space technology. The project is progressing and will be activated in the upcoming months. We look forward to sharing more news with you as the project develops.
More information may be found at http://www.kslib.info/kansans/kansas-k20-librarians-white-space-pilot.html
Young Adult Librarian
Manhattan Public Library
Each year the K-State Book Network (KSBN) chooses one common book for the whole university to read. The book that KSBN chose for this year is “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline. “Ready Player One” is an award-winning science fiction novel set in the dystopian future of 2044. Because the world is such a bleak place, Wade Watts, like many others, prefers to spend the majority of his time in the virtual reality world of OASIS. For years, Wade and countless others have been searching OASIS for hidden clues that will lead to the billions of dollars amassed by the late OASIS creator, James Halliday. To find the clues, Wade has immersed himself in the life of Halliday, including his obsession with 80’s pop culture. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, suddenly the whole world is watching him, and Wade realizes that some will stop at nothing, including murder, to be the first to find Halliday’s fortune. If you grew up in the 80’s, this book is particularly enjoyable. However, it still has a lot of appeal to teens and twenty-somethings, with plenty of action and adventure to keep the plot moving. In fact, the book was chosen by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) as an Alex Award winner (books written for adults that have special appeal to teens).
Along with choosing a common book, KSBN features a series of fun and unique events throughout the fall that encourage dialogue about the book and foster a sense of community. This year, Manhattan Public Library (MPL) is also participating by hosting a number of events related to pop culture and video games from the 80’s. All events are appropriate for adults and teens. We will be hosting a film night series featuring some of the classic 80’s movies mentioned in the book. Films will be shown on September 26th, October 17th, and October 24th at 7:00 p.m. The library will also incorporate Star Wars Reads Day into the “Ready Player One” film series by showing the second movie in the original trilogy on October 5th at 2:00 p.m. There will be a chance to win prizes at each movie.
On September 28, from 2:00-4:00 p.m., the library will present a program on video games led by K-State professor Nathan Bean. He will talk briefly about the history of gaming and potential career opportunities. Then, attendees can practice building their own animations and video games. This event is open to the public, but registration is suggested to guarantee a spot. You can register on the library’s website by clicking on the “Events” tab and selecting this event on the calendar.
The highlight of MPL’s series will be a visit by the “Ready Player One” author, Ernest Cline, to McCain Auditorium on October 10th at 7:00 p.m. Cline, arriving in his classic DeLorean, will speak about his book. Tickets will be available at K-State for university students and at Manhattan Public Library for community members.
Finally, MPL will be co-sponsoring International Games Day at Hale Library on November 16th. This annual event features the opportunity to interact with other gamers of all ages and play current and retro video games and board games. There will be games geared toward kids, teens, and adults.
Along with these specific events, be sure to stop by the library to check out our displays and ongoing activities that will also have a “Ready Player One” theme. There will be a scavenger hunt in honor of one of the novel’s central plotlines, a virtual reality Easter Egg Hunt. In the Young Adult area in September, teens will be encouraged to participate in the “Name that Celebrity” contest, featuring photos of celebrities in their full 1980’s glory. And, the YA display will feature books that are set in the 80’s time period. In October, look for a display by Game Hounds featuring 80’s video game memorabilia.
To see a list of these events, plus more hosted by KSBN, visit their website at: http://www.k-state.edu/ksbn/events.html or MPL’s website at www.MHKlibrary.org. Be sure to check out the library on Facebook and Twitter for updates and reminders about these events and other library happenings.
You know those annoying ads that have little to do with anything going on in your life, but still manage to fill up a quarter of your screen? Well, I finally decided to read the book that’s been haunting my social media sites and was happily surprised. So maybe the internet knows me better than I thought.
The Butterfly Sister is a difficult book to put down. It tells the story of twenty-two year-old Ruby Rousseau who has had a rough year. She’s been haunted by the unusual sights of the ghosts of her favorite writers haunting her. She’s been dragged in an affair with one of her professors, who just happens to be married. And then suddenly dumped without an explanation. The stress of questioning her own sanity and doubting her moral convictions proves to be too much. She follows in the footsteps of the writers she was researching so relentlessly and attempts suicide. By the end of the year, she is now the drop-out of her elitist, prestigious woman’s college and is just trying to put her life back together.
Just when her life seems to be working out, the suitcase of her former college friend arrives at her doorstep. When she tries to return the suitcase, she discovers that her friend is missing. What follows is a smart mystery full of historical intrigue and feminist writers. You will be right there along with Ruby as she pieces the clues together and tries to understand the events of her past.
Amy Gail Hansen has written a charming first novel that ignited the English major in me. Her characters were smart, interesting and thrilling to watch.
Wandean Rivers, Assistive Technology Specialist
The word for today is empowerment! “Empowerment is not giving people power, people already have plenty of power, in the wealth of their knowledge and motivation, to do their jobs magnificently. We define empowerment as letting this power out.” (Blanchard, Kenneth H., John P. Carlos, and Alan Randolph. Empowerment Takes More than a Minute).
Many times we become frustrated trying to learn something new, especially learning to use the latest technological devices. This is especially true when people have issues with eyesight, mobility or memory but still desire to use technology independently. Manhattan Public Library’s Assistive Technology Center offers free, one-on-one, individualized training in basic computer use and adaptive technology for people with such challenges, which in turn empowers them and enriches their quality of life. Assistive technology keeps people connected.
In the Assistive Technology Center, I work individually with people with physical challenges to teach them how to use technology in their daily lives. This can include improving the visibility of their computer screen, downloading digital books, and improving keyboarding skills. I also train caregivers who work with people with disabilities. The goal of the ATC is to give patrons with disabilities the skills they need to access and use technology to improve their lives.
Appointments are generally once a week for an hour. During your first appointment, we will discuss your challenges and look for possible solutions. Together we will set goals, devise steps to achieve your target goals and research technology that might be helpful. In the Assistive Technology Center, I try to help clients by “talking out” their concerns. I find it very fulfilling to help clients resolve issues that concern them and I would be happy to work with you, too.
Here are the top three technologies that I have found to be most helpful to Assistive Technology users.
1. ZoomText for Windows and ZoomText for Mac
ZoomText for Windows and ZoomText for Mac are designed for people with visual impairments like macular degeneration and glaucoma. ZoomText is a powerful screen magnifier and screen reader that makes your computer easier to see, hear, and use. It allows the user to see and hear everything on the computer screen while also magnifying up to 36 times and maintaining the clarity of the text. It also reads aloud what is on the screen – documents, email and the internet.
2. JAWS (Job Access with Speech)
JAWS is a screen reader software navigated solely by keystrokes. It was developed for computer users whose vision loss prevents them from seeing screen content. It reads aloud what is on the computer screen and gives navigational tools and hints which helps the patron to access the web, software applications and email. JAWS will provide Braille output instead of or in addition to speech.
3. Victor Stream Player
The Victor Stream is a handheld media player for the blind and visually impaired. It plays DAISY books, MP3, MP4, and EPUB files. Built-in text-to-speech software reads text documents, and the Victor Stream has a built-in microphone that can be used to record notes. Music and podcasts can be downloaded to a removable SD card. Patrons love the versatility and portability of this device.
The Assistive Technology Center is located in the Technology Center of the Manhattan Public Library. If you would like more information about the services offered, or you would like to schedule an individual appointment, call 785-776-4741, extension 202. The Assistive Technology Center is open twenty hours a week: 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and Wednesdays from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Also, be sure to note that the fall series of Tech Tuesdays at Manhattan Public Library is gearing up. Twice a month, from September through December, we will hold two-hour long workshops on Tuesday afternoons at 2:00 p.m. These free workshops will cover popular topics, such as downloading eBooks, using iPads, and more. For dates, topics of workshops or to register, call the library at 785-776-4741 Extension 173, stop by the first floor information desk, or visit our website at www.mhklibrary.org. Registration is encouraged!
The latest novel by C.J. Box is a stand-alone novel (unlike his Joe Pickett series) but it re-introduces characters from an earlier novel, The Back of Beyond. Cody Hoyt is now a deputy sheriff in Helena, Montana, who has just been fired for planting evidence in a crime scene. He receives a call from his son, Justin, who is concerned about a friend. Danielle and her sister Gracie are supposed to be driving to Omaha for Thanksgiving, but instead Danielle chooses to head to Montana to visit Justin. After he loses contact with them as they travel through rugged roads near Yellowstone, he asks his father for help in finding them. Cody heads towards their last known location alone, searching along the roads between Yellowstone and Helena. His partner Cassie is helping Cody by sending him information about the area, but becomes involved in the search when she abruptly stops hearing from him. As Cassie delves into the disappearances, she uncovers truly evil individuals committing horrific crimes. The Highway is an intense, suspense-filled, fast-paced novel (the story takes place in the two days before Thanksgiving) filled with plot twists and turns. Cassie Dewell, a rookie cop, is a likeable, sympathetic character whose persistence, skill and insight solves the case. The killers are portrayed as both chilling and disturbing. Box’s storytelling will draw you in from the first page–this is a story that is hard to put down–and I guarantee that you will never again pass a semi-trailer on a dark highway without at least a tingle of unease and a flashback to this story!