Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen


Sarah Pekkanen shows us in her second novel, Skipping a Beat, that you may have it all, but still not have what is important.  All marriages are complicated, but going fromhaving very little to immense wealth can be a relationship breaker.
Pekkanen creates a story of two small-townsweethearts that leave their West Virginiaroots and become wealthy entrepreneurs in Washington DC after creating a sports drink.  Michael is driven with ambition to run his company, andJulia bides her time with her own successful party planning business.  As Michael spends more and more time awayfrom Julia and women in his life make Julia doubt his fidelity their marriagecrumbles until Michael has a near death experience.  Coming to terms with both of their mistakesand realizing what in life is worthwhile makes this novel an emotional ridewith laughter and tears.

What’s New in Downloadable Content?


Sunflower E-Library: A New Downloading Experienceby John Pecoraro, Assistant Director and Marcia Allen, Technical Services & Collection Manager
ManhattanPublic Library
Why is the downloading option ending at Manhattan PublicLibrary on Monday, December 5th?
Because ofchanges and increased rates for the state-wide consortium, the  currentdownloading option is ending. Unfortunately, any requests that you may have inplace will disappear along with the old platform.  Currently, the state is in theprocess of building the  OneClickDigitalservice for audiobooks, as well as the 3MCloud Library service for ebooks.  Oncethese services are in place, borrowerswill be able to follow links from the library website to browse and checkouttitles.
Are there other options offered through the library?
Beginning on Monday, November 28th,those who prefer reading devices can download ebooks from thelibrary.  MPL is now a part of theSunflower eLibrary Consortium, a cooperative effortamong several Kansaslibraries that enables participantsto share the same platform as well as purchased titles.
What about all the different devices that readers might use?
Most of thetitles are available in epub format.  Thatwill allow users to manage a varietyof different devices with the same process. In addition, most titles will download onKindle devices with the same quick results.
How can I register for the Sunflower eLibrary service?
You musthave a Manhattan Public Library card and pin number to use this collection.  Then you can begin borrowing items andplacing holds on the contentsthat you desire.
What kinds of limits are there?
 Readers canborrow five titles at a time and place as many as seven requests onitems that are unavailable.  There arealso checkout period limitations. Borrowerscan determine at the time of checkout whether they wish to borrow for seven or fourteen days.  Readers can also opt to return items early sothat others may usethem.  Our goal is to make titlesavailable to readers as quickly as possible.
Is this just available for adults?
At thistime, we have several young adult and children’s titles available.  As the collectioncontinues to grow, we will add more content.
What about audiobooks? I prefer them to ebooks.
Again, thestate has contracted with Recorded Books to provide audiobooks for readers whoprefer to listen.  That collection willalso have a wide range of titlesthat can be downloaded on a portable device. Readers will go to OneClickDigitalto register and begin the borrowing process.
Can I use my Manhattanlibrary card to gain access to the state’s audiobooks?
Readersmust have a Kansas Library Card (available at MPL) to register. 
For those contemplating thepurchase of an ebook reader or listening device, there are plenty of resourcesfor nice, new titles at the library.  Andwe will continue to refresh the collection, adding new materials as we areable.  List of upcoming titles will allowus to keep informed of new possibilities.
            As the holidays near, it might be agreat time to expand your electronic holdings and venture into newformats.  Not sure which device topurchase?  It’s up to you and your needs.  Most of what we have selected is compatiblewith Nooks, Kindles and ipads, as well as other selected devices.  There are many website that review portabledevices.  Take a look at e-Book Reader 2011 at,for example, or 2011 Tablets ProductComparisons at   For a more comprehensive review source,check out the
Ultimate Tablet ReviewComparison Guide,  You might also take a look at the article ontablets, e-book readers, and smart phones in the December issue of Consumer Reports, available at thelibrary.
            Look forthese new services on the library’s web page beginningMonday, November 28th.

My Thoughts Be Bloody by Nora Titone


There are numerous books recounting Lincoln’s assassination at the hands of John Wilkes Booth, but My Thoughts Be Bloody by Nora Titone puts a whole new spin on it. Instead of focusing on the conspiracy itself or the manhunt after the tragic deed, Titone takes an in-depth look at John Wilkes Booth’s background and what could have possibly motivated him to assassinate a president. Titone’s premise is that Booth’s dysfunctional family heavily contributed to his motivation to murder Lincoln. John Wilkes and his siblings grew up as illegitimate children of Junius and Mary Ann Booth. Junius Brutus Booth was something of a genius and a famous actor, but also an alcoholic. John’s brother Edward, older by four years, became the most famous American actor of his generation. John Wilkes constantly lived in the shadow of his famous older brother and father as he attempted to become an actor himself. While inheriting the striking good looks of his father, John failed to inherit his talent for acting. He bumbles along from one stage performance to the next, seemingly in denial of his lack of talent. He becomes increasingly caught up in the South’s fate in the Civil War while tensions with his older brother also escalate. Titone presents a fascinating look into the psyche and family dynamics of Booth and uses the Booth family’s own words whenever possible to tell the story. Equally interesting are all the facts Titone presents about the life of actors during the 19th century.


Sixteen-year-old Cat’s best childhood friend, openly gay Patrick, is in a coma, a victim of a brutal hate crime. The local sheriff is ready to pin the crime on out-of-towners, but Cat’ssuspicions lie elsewhere. For the past three years, Cat has retreated from most of her friends after being sexually abused by one of her brother’s friends.   Cat slowly learns about her old friends in the meth-addled underbelly of her hill-country Southern town. Despite ominous warnings to leave it be, Catfinds the will to expose the homegrown hatred that gave rise to Patrick’sattack. Shine is a bleak story leavened by the things Cat learns about herself (and the attack) in the course of her investigation.

An Unlikely Suitor by Nancy Moser


Newport Rhode Island, home of the summer cottages ofthe very wealthy built during the gilded age, inspired the concluding settingfor An Unlikely Suitor a historicalnovel by Nancy Moser. This immigrant story is of the Scapelli’s, a mother andher two daughters newly arrived in New York City in 1895. Their father, Dante Scapelli, lost his life in an accident on the docksshortly after their arrival.  Now thesmall family is scraping by as dressmakers to the wealthy.
 Lucy Scapelli meets  Rowena Langdon when Rowena visits MadameMoreau’s Fashion Emporium to be outfitted with a wardrobe suitable for hersummer in Newport.During a fitting, Lucy sees that she could help crippled Rowena’s clothes tofit better and hide her obvious physical disabilities.  The two become friends under the disapprovingeye of Rowena’s mother.  While trying toadjust to life with her wealthy friends in Newport Rowena schemes to find a way her dressmaker friend can join her. 
This novel treats us to life during the Gilded Age, thesocial mores of that time, beautiful descriptive language of fashion from thatlavish era and the difficult life of immigrants at the turn of the century.

Great Gift Books (for Yourself or Others)


            Just intime for gift-giving or your own reading wish list, there are great new booksout for the winter holiday season.  Youcan find books for almost everyone, no matter their taste or interest, and youcan also look forward to your own hibernation reading when the holiday bustleis over.  Here are some non-fiction picksfor good winter reading from Manhattan Public Library.       
            Deadline Artists: America’s Greatest Newspaper Columns edited by John Avlon, Jesse Angelo, andErrol Louis.  This anthology of greatAmerican writing is enthralling reading for lovers of history, politics,current affairs, and the art of journalism. It features selections on war, humor, crime, sports, politics, hardtimes, and civil rights from an overflowing wealth of writers – William AllenWhite, Mark Twain, Frederick Douglass, Damon Runyon, Dorothy Thompson, H. L.Mencken, Langston Hughes, Ernie Pyle, Will Rogers, Red Smith, Jimmy Cannon,Mike Royko, George Will, Maureen Dowd, William F. Buckley, Jimmy Breslin, DaveBarry, Molly Ivins, Mike Barnicle, Anna Quindlen, Carl Hiaasen, Peggy Noonan,Walter Winchell, Erma Bombeck, Pete Dexter, Cynthia Tucker, Steve Lopez  – to name just a fraction.  I couldn’t put it down.
            Heartland: The Cookbookby Judith Fertig.  Beautiful photographs,interesting narrative, and recipes featuring Midwest regional ingredientsdistinguish this scrumptious coffee table cookbook by a Kansas author.  Baked Eggs with Prosciutto and AsiagoCream?  Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie?  Grilled Duck Breast with Wild Rice-DriedCherry Pilaf?  Oh, yeah. 
            The Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard. The short presidency of James Garfield in 1881, seemingly a footnote inhistory, in fact came at a key time for the United States, and the era comesvividly to life in this lively and entertaining book.  Written as a suspense-filled historical taleof crime, medicine, scientific invention, and politics during the post-CivilWar era, this book is drawing rave reviews.
            100 Yards of Glory: The Greatest Moments in NFL History by Joe Garner and Bob Costas.  If you have a football fan on your gift list,this compendium from writer Garner and broadcaster Costas is a sure winner,covering the most memorable games, plays, coaches, and players in nearly 100years of NFL history.  Great photos,great writing and analysis, AND it comes with a video!     
            The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt.Newly-announced winner of the 2011 National Book Award, this page-turnercombines history, biography, philosophy, and theology to describe how the 14thcentury re-discovery and translation of a forgotten ancient manuscriptinfluenced the thinkers of the day and set in motion the massive cultural“swerve” we now know as the Renaissance.    
            The Ecstasy of Defeat: Sports Reporting at its Finest from the editors of The Onion.  Another wonderful, raw, and hilariouslysatirical look at the American way of life from the wildly offbeat “news”website  When the coverboasts headings like “Creepy Lifeguard Turns out to be Nine-Time Olympic Gold MedalistMark Spitz” you know you’ve stumbled into another adventure in irreverence, inthe same vein as the Onion’s previous bestseller, Our Dumb World.
            Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie.  Massie, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Peter the Great, Nicholas and Alexandra,and The Romanovs, has created anothermasterful portrait of a captivating character in Russian history.  A poor princess from an obscure Germanprincipality, Catherine married into the Romanov dynasty at age fourteen.  Ambitious, determined, and shrewd, she roseto become Empress, brought the Enlightenment to Russia, and improved the lives ofher people dramatically.  A woman ofgreat courage, intelligence, passion, and ruthlessness, Catherine led afascinating life.  
            Martha Stewart’s Handmade Holiday Crafts: 225 Inspired Projects for Year-Round Celebrations  Withthe beautiful illustrations and creativity that are Martha Stewart trademarks,this book is chock full of unique craft and entertainment ideas for celebratingholidays throughout the year.  A surewinner for Stewart fans.   
            Inside Pee-Wee’s Playhouse: The Untold, Unauthorized, and Unpredictable Story of a Pop Phenomenon by Caseen Gaines. Okay, boys and girls, for fans of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, today’s secretword is FUN!  An entertaining andnostalgic look back at the wildly-popular 1980s character and creative andground-breaking TV series.  “This book isso good, you’ll want to marry it!”    
by Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager

Before I Go to Sleep: a Novel by S.J. Watson


 “Memories define us. What if you lost yours every time you went to sleep?”  Your name, your identity, your past, even thepeople you love – all forgotten overnight. Every day, Christine awakens in a bed beside a man she does notrecognize—nor does she recognize the face she sees in a mirror—Christine haslost twenty years of memories—because of an “accident.”
‘As I sleep, my mindwill erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did thismorning. Thinking I’m still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choiceahead of me …’ Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time youwent to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love -all forgotten overnight. And the one person …more”AsI sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow asI did this morning. Thinking I’m still a young woman. Thinking I have a wholelifetime of choice ahead of me … And the one person I trust may only betelling me half the story.” Welcome to Christine’s life as related in Before I Go to Sleep.

>Comfort Kennedy is shocked into silence when her oldest friend, Bram, announces their engagement.  She agrees to a short engagement to save face and excuses his typical irresponsible behavior.  Bram’s brother, Bode, realizes that he’s running out of time to capture the woman he’s loved for years.  Bram’s injury forces Comfort and Bode to spend more time together, building a romance that will have to sustain them through dangerous intrigue and the trauma of her childhood. Gold rush San Francisco provides a exciting and shady background for this romantic and sensual story.  With Kissing Comfort, Goodman has created another romance you won’t soon forget.

And Nothing but the Truthiness: The Rise (and Further Rise) of Stephen Colbert

>“My name is Stephen Colbert, but I actually play someone ontelevision named Stephen Colbert, who looks like me, talks like me, but whosays things with a straight face that he doesn’t mean”. Lisa Rogak’s biographyof Stephen Colbert, And Nothing but the Truthiness, attempts to distinguishbetween the man and the character he plays on his Comedy Central program TheColbert Report, and offers a fascinating glimpse of the man behind thecharacter he portrays. The youngest of 11 children, Colbert learned the valueof humor from siblings and his parents. He had to deal with tragedy early in his life when his two oldestbrothers and his father were killed in a plane crash. Rogak traces his entryinto acting, then into comedy in Second City and finally into writingand reporting for the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the launching point for hisown program. Known for his sharp wit and interview skills, he has developed a loyal following of fans, members of his Colbert Nation. Colbert has used his program and influence as a vehicle to raisefunds for several worthy causes such as educational programs, supporting themilitary and their families and raising financial support for the U.S. Olympic Speedskating Team. He was surprised at  theawarding of the 2006 Word of the Year by Merriam Webster, as well as inclusionin their dictionary, of “truthiness”, created by him in a show segment titledThe Word and meaning “preferring concepts of facts one wishes to be true ratherthan concepts or facts known to be true”. Colbert the character displays lotsof truthiness in his satire, but Colbert the person appears to be a someone thatis  intelligent, hard-working, family-oriented and multi-talented.

The Man From Beijing


by Henning Mankell

Swedish author Henning Mankell starts off this adventure with a furious ride! When a journalist arrives to photograph one of Sweden’s dwindling villages, he finds a mass murder has occurred and the bodies are still warm. Traumatized by fear that the murderer may still be in the village, he escapes the scene to find help. Alas, so strong was his fear that he succumbs to a heart attack causing him to swerve in front of a semi. With his last breath, he is able to utter the name of the village. When authorities investigate, they find the village that had consisted of 21 people, now filled with 19 corpses as well as their slaughtered pets. Who would do such a heinous crime and why?

When this horrific news is broadcast, Birgitta Roslin, one of Sweden’s Supreme Court judges, realizes she has seen the village somewhere before. Searching through he mother’s papers, she finds a photo of her mother’s childhood home that matches one of the homes on the news. Curious and wanting connection with her mother’s family she sets off to find out if it is indeed the home of her mother’s foster parents. She finds clues that she thinks are important, but the local authorities are not interested.

This journey will have you traveling across the world and back in time to solve the mystery. While the title gives a clue to the involvement of China, you’ll also make a track to mid 1860’s America, and also a side adventure to Africa. The perpetrator is known midway through the story, but the “what will he do next” will keep you reading. Have a fun ride while reading The Man from Beijing.

I am Half-Sick of Shadows


AlanBradley’s 11 year old character Flavia de Luce is one of the most endearing,inventive and precocious characters in literature. She appears again inBradley’s latest novel in the series,I am Half-Sick of Shadows. It is winter in England and Christmas isapproaching, with Flavia immersed in her chemistry experiments–this timetrying to determine if Father Christmas is real. In the midst of a storm, aline of trucks appears and heads for the de Luce family home, Buckshaw. Itseems that Colonel de Luce, in order to keep his family from bankruptcy, hasrented out the estate to a film crew. Flavia is fascinated by the appearance offamous and not-so-famous actors and actresses who take up residence in her home.The lead actors agree to perform for a fund-raiser for the local church, andthe local village residents flock to Buckshaw for the show, only to be snowedin by a blizzard. With the house filled with visitors, Flavia comes upon thebody of a murdered actress, and of course, must immerse herself in solving thecrime, much to the dismay Inspector Hewitt. We learn more about Flavia’srelationships with her sisters, her father and Dogger, who served in the warwith Colonel De Luce. This is a delightful addition to this humorous andcharming series featuring the fiendishly inventive Flavia de Luce (start with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.)

If you’re waiting for Inheritance…

>If you’re waiting for Inheritance, the newest Christopher Paolini featuring Eragon and Saphira, you have some choices of other books to read while you wait.

One wonderful series that has been overlooked by many is the Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix. Sabriel, the first book in the series, was published in 1996, two years before the first Harry Potter and before children’s/young adult literature captured popular attention. Sabriel is the daughter of the Abhorsen, a necromancer who puts the dead to rest and prevents the restless Dead from returning to Life. When Sabriel receives a message from him while she is away at school in Ancelstierre (where magic does not work), she must return to the Old Kingdom (where magic works) to take up his duties and try to free him from where he is trapped in Death. Sabriel is followed by Lirael and Abhorsen.

In an Asian-inspired fantasy realm, young Eon is in a fierce competition to apprentice to the Rat Dragon, one of twelve dragons who guard the realm. Twelve-year-old Eon is actually 16-year-old Eona in disguise. Hiding her sex is the only way for Eona to study Dragon magic, a pursuit forbidden to girls. If she is caught, she will face disembowelment. Eona is not chosen by the Rat Dragon, but that is, of course, not the end of the story.  Eon is a fast-paced novel that will have you racing to pick up Eona, the conclusion to this complex and well-crafted story.

Princess Raisa is on the cusp of her sixteenth birthday, when she will be of age to make a politically advantageous arranged marriage. Han is a young man living in poverty and supporting his family through odd jobs after leaving his street gang. The two meet when Raisa is out in disguise investigating discontent in her kingdom and Han is fleeing from the authorities who believe he is guilty of a crime he didn’t commit. Chima weaves together a number of complex story lines in this tale of intrigue and politics. The Demon King is followed by The Exiled Queen and The Gray Wolf Throne. The fourth book in the series, The Crimson Crown, will be released in fall of 2012, according to the author’s website.

And if none of these books look to be to your taste, stop by the young adult section of the library and pick up one of the handouts of suggestions for those who liked Eragon, created by our talented YA librarian.

Dandy Gilver and the Proper Treatment of Bloodstains


Dandy solves a murder once again!
Dandelion Dahlia Leston Gilver, or Dandy, is being schooledin how to serve undercover as a lady’s maid when normally she has her ownservants waiting on her.  Thisaristocratic sleuth has already helped solve several murders and once againshe is being called upon to aid someone who fears for her life.  Lollie Balfour’s husband is having his wifefollowed, steaming open her mail and has told her he is going to murder her. “He’sa monster, Mrs. Gilver.  A nasty,brutish, bullying , philandering, dishonest, beasty…pig.”
 This frightened Edinburgh woman becomes awidow within one day of Dandy’s appearance as her maid.  Who has murdered this horrible man?  Everyone in the premises has a reason to hatehim.  With intricately plotted twists andturns and many red herrings we experience what is regarded as proper for the1920’s post World War Two Scottish gentry. This witty novel that exposes the differences in class reminds me of thewonderful Masterpiece Theatre classics Upstairs,Downstairs and Downton Abbey.  Try Dandy Gilver and the Proper Treatment of Blood Stains and then enjoy a classic movie for a complete experience.

Love on the Line by Deeanne Gist


Georgie Gail is less than thrilled when the telephonecompany sends out Luke Palmer to help her run the switchboard and phone linesin her rural Texastown.  He’s not too happy about it,either; having to put away his fancy Texas Ranger duds and go undercoverwearing overalls to investigate a local train robber.  He carries out his investigation whilerepairing phone lines and getting constantly distracted by his coworker’s abilityto stir up controversy and everything else about her as well.  With Love on the Line Deeanne Gist comesthrough with another delightful Christian historical romance.

Thanksgiving Has a Tasty History to Feast On


            The fallholiday season is upon us, with Halloween past and Thanksgiving coming up.  I like Thanksgiving; for a holiday, it’sstraightforward and uncomplicated.  Simplyput, we take time off from our daily preoccupations to recognize and givethanks for our blessings.  Compared tosome other holidays (I’m talking about you, Christmas!), it’s relatively freeof the labor-intensive traditions, frenetic activities, and crippling expendituresthat can get in the way of enjoyment, not to mention spiritual gratification.  Granted, Thanksgiving can be trying in itsown way.  When organizing festive familygatherings, there’s always a risk of logistical chaos and inter-personal drama,and, what with prodigious food preparation and consumption followed by hours ofdigestive recovery and kitchen clean-up, it can all overwhelm and exhaust.  But the day can also be celebrated with asimple shared meal, quiet reflection and rest, even solitude or a privategetaway, and when it all comes together well, Thanksgiving can be personallymeaningful and spiritually strengthening.
            The storyof the first Thanksgiving does have its own traditional baggage, though, a mythologyrooted in history but grown over the centuries to barely resemble the actualevents.  It’s a reassuring and cherishedstory, but, as is nearly always the case with history, the truth turns out tobe far more complicated and vastly more interesting than the myth.  This year, as part of your celebration of theseason, pick up one of the following books that illuminate the real story ofthe Mayflower Pilgrims and expand our understanding of our country’scomplicated, fascinating history. 
            Mayflower:a story of courage, community, and war by Nathaniel Philbrick details thehistory of the Pilgrims as Separatists in Englandand as religious refugees in Holland, thenfollows their voyage on the Mayflower, chronicles the settlement and earlyyears of the Plymouthcolony, and examines relations between European settlers and  Native Americans.  Philbrick adds depth to what we know offamiliar historical figures like William Bradford, Chief Massasoit, Squanto, MilesStandish, Priscilla Mullins, John Alden, Edward Winslow, and numerous secondarycharacters, revealing unexpected and surprising historical details.      
            In Makinghaste from Babylon:the Mayflower Pilgrims and their world, another richly-detailed historicoverview, author and Englishman Nick Bunker writes about the Mayflower Pilgrimsas Englishmen themselves and places them in the context of the political worldin which they lived.  An exhaustivelydetailed recounting of the first years of settlement, this book, according toPublishers Weekly, “scoops up every relevantcharacter and links all to the basic tale of indomitable courage, religiousfaith, commercial ambition, international rivalry, and domestic politics.”  
            If you onlyhave time for a short read and want a more condensed recounting of the story ofthe Mayflower Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving, Glenn Alan Cheney has hitthe high points and given a broad overview in his well-researched and organizedhistory of 1620-1621, Thanksgiving: the Pilgrims’ first year in America.  An easily-read and enjoyable page-turner, it isnevertheless written in evocative, descriptive prose.  As one reviewer said, the book is “full of surprising information, and sympathetic to thehumanity of all the participants.” 
            TheMayflower Papers: selected writings of colonial New England edited by Nathanieland Thomas Philbrick is a compilation of 17th century primary sourcematerial about the Pilgrims, the Mayflower voyage, and the founding of the Plymouth colony.  It contains Of Plymouth Plantation byGovernor William Bradford, the seminal first-person account of the founding ofthe settlement.  Written in theElizabethan English of the times, it is not easy reading but is a detailed,emotional recounting of an enterprise that took immense courage, devotion, andfortitude.  In addition, this anthologycontains Mourt’s Relation, an account of the colony’s first year in New England which relates the celebration of the firstThanksgiving in autumn 1621, and Good News from New England, a continuation of the history, both byEdward Winslow. 
            The Timesof Their Lives: life, love, and death in Plymouth Colony by leading Plymouth archaeologist JamesDeetz is a social history that is especially strong in its descriptions of thedaily lives and society of the colony. Drawing on the archaeological evidence, it touches on crime, food, sex,legalities, and material culture, and upends many of our misconceptions aboutPilgrim society.  
            Twooutstanding video documentaries of the Mayflower journey, Plymouthsettlement, and the first Thanksgiving are: Desperate crossing: the untold story of the Mayflower, an A&Epresentation from 2007; and We shall remain: America through native eyes :D isc 1 Massasoit, part of a 2009 PBS series.

by Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager