A Seeking Heart

Sam was on the run.  Little money and a starving belly.  When the clothesline revealed a large family with many children and the mailbox sported the family name, Sam figured it would be a cinch to get some food at the mercantile by charging it to the Klaassen family.   When the mercantile owner turned out to be the uncle of all those kids, Sam hightailed it out with the food, but not fast enough to avoid being tackled by Adam one of the Klaassen brothers.

With the sheriff away, Adam volunteered to take Sam home with him until he returns.  When the family questioned her, she knew she couldn’t reveal her real name or her father would find her.  The family’s kindness is something Samantha has experienced very little of in her seventeen years.  She is torn with living a lie and telling them the truth in fear of having to go back to her father.  A Seeking Heart by Kim Vogel Sawyer is a heartwarming family story of kindness and love.



Paris in Love: A Memoir by Eloisa James

Wikipedia definition:  Vignette (literature), short, impressionistic scenes that focus on one moment or give a particular insight into a character, idea, or setting.

Enjoy vignettes of life in Paris in Eloisa James’ memoir of her family’s year in Paris.  Not your typical memoir, Eloisa kept her tweets and Facebook posts while on sabbatical in Paris for a year with her family and turned them into this delightful Parisian read, Paris in Love.  Descriptions of ultra- fashionably dressed ladies, wonderful restaurants, rude waiters and fabulous shopping all contribute to a vivid picture of Paris.  Funny stories surrounding her children’s adjustment to new schools, friends and language challenges are part of the flavor.  I appreciate Eloisa’s ability to describe the little details of life, such as, “This morning I dropped Anna off at school then walked across the Seine on a lavishly gilded bridge.  The wind was fiercely chilly, but the sky bright blue, and the way the sun shone on the river and danced over all that gold leaf opened a door straight from winter to a slice of spring.”

Dreaming, Owning, Waking – Summer at MPL

By Janene Hill, Young Adult Librarian

Where do I begin? So many great things are happening this summer at Manhattan Public Library, it is hard to decide what to share first.

I guess we start with the themes. Inspired by the nighttime, this year’s children’s theme is “Dream Big-Read,” the teen theme is “Own the Night,” and the adult theme is “Wake Up and Read.”

Readers of all ages can sign up for Summer Reading at MPL online or by coming to the library where a staff member will help get you registered. Online sign-up has begun and registration at the library can be done beginning this Friday.

Once registered, participants track their reading time (adults can choose to track number of books instead). This time can be tracked online or with a paper record provided by the library. All readers can have a chance to earn prizes by turning in their reading time.

Adults (ages 18 and up) are entered for weekly drawings with each book or for every 4 hours they read. Additional credit can be earned by doing any of 10 bonus challenges. A complete list is available at the library. Seven prizes will be awarded each week in random drawings from sponsors such as The Chef, Hy-Vee, Starbucks, and Panera Bread.

Teens (those entering 7th grade through high school) have a 15 hour goal at which time they can get a free book and a gift certificate to Quiznos. After that, teens can continue to track time and turn those hours in for additional prizes (like tickets at an arcade). All teens who record time will also be entered into drawings for Prize Baskets to be awarded at the end of the summer.

Children (birth through 6th grade) can earn prizes at 250 minutes (ice cream from Vista and toy choice), 500 minutes (book and choice of Applebee’s or Quiznos kids’ meal), and 1000 minutes (Super Reader bookmark and choice Chili’s kids’ meal or Papa Murphy’s cookie dough).

Reading logs can be recorded for all reading done for June 1 through July 31.

In addition to the reading part of Summer Reading, several programs and events have been scheduled for kids and teens throughout June and July.

These events kick off this Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon as MPL hosts the annual Summer Reading Kick-Off On the Lawn.

Once again there will be games, prize drawings, activities and live entertainment. This includes carnival games for kids, activity and display tables from the Beach Museum, the NCK Astrological Society, and Pathfinder

Taking the stage at 10:20 will be the K-State Tap Dance Ensemble. Between songs, the group will teach tap steps to any interested children. At 11:00, Mr. Steve will use his acoustic guitar to present his sing-along program for kids.

In the case of inclement weather, the event will be moved to the library auditorium.

Several events will take place each week throughout the summer. Storytimes and clubs for elementary school children begin the week of June 4 and go through the week of July 23.
Children can also participate in special events such as the “Lucky Stars Juggling” show, After Hours Pajama Party, programs by the Beach Museum and the Milford Nature Center, ZOOfari Tales, movies, and more.
Teen-focused events are held at least once a week. Many of these events include a variety of nighttime themes such as dreams, astrology, stargazing, relaxation, and more. Events for teens culminate in the End-of-Summer Teen After Hours.
A detailed list of all events, clubs, and storytimes is available on the MPL website or at the library.
Groups visits are encouraged to visit the library during the summer. By calling the Children’s Department, groups can schedule one storytime per month presented by a Children’s Librarian. Large groups are also encouraged to let the Children’s Department know when they would like to visit so overcrowding in the Children’s Room can be avoided. Contact the department at 776-4741 ext. 125.
All events and activities at the library are free and open to the public.
More information can be found by visiting the library at 629 Poyntz Avenue, online, or by calling 785-776-4741.

Blue Asylum

 Filled with lyrical descriptions and fascinating characters, Kate Hepinstall’s Blue Asylum tells the story of Iris Dunleavy, a plantation owner’s wife who is convicted of being a “lunatic” and is sent to an asylum in Florida during the Civil War. There she encounters a group of vivid characters, including both residents and staff of the asylum. Iris meets Ambrose Weller, a Confederate soldier haunted by his experiences in the war. As her story unfolds, Iris reveals the circumstances under which she was convicted. As she fights to retain her independence, her strength and spirit confuses the asylum doctor and their disagreements reflect the conflicts in the war surrounding the idyllic asylum. As she begins to love Ambrose and hopes for a life outside the asylum, Iris wonders if they can ever be free of their pasts. This is a story about ordinary people caught up in the terrible effects of the Civil War. The poetical style, an unusual setting, and rich details combine to make Blue Asylum an exceptional novel.

Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress

Science fiction has a long history of struggling with complex philosophical ideas through elaborate “what if?” scenarios. Science fiction novels ranging from 1984 to The Lathe of Heaven to The Postmortal address a range of moral and ethical quandaries and allow problems to play out in worlds both similar and different to the one we know. Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress is one such work that addresses serious ethical questions about genetic modification, the rights of the individual versus the needs of the community and the questions of how community is defined.

In Beggars in Spain, genetic modification has become a reality. Parents can select for physical traits, certain behavioral traits can be encouraged if not yet selected for, and things like enhanced intelligence can also be chosen. One possible modification is eliminating the need to sleep. Leisha Camden’s father, a firm believer in individual effort, elects to have his daughter be a Sleepless. Other affects of this genetic modification include increased intelligence, a tendency toward having a pleasant disposition and, apparently, a much slower aging process.

The Sleepless change the way the world works. They come to dominate the business world very quickly after some Sleepless reach age 18. The possibilities for normal people who can’t compete against the Sleepless disappear quickly. First rhetoric against Sleepless becomes prevalent, and after the murder of one of the first Sleepless, the Sleepless remove themselves to an orbiting space station they call Sanctuary. The economy segments itself into those who live on the work of others (livers), those who work as politicians and businesspeople (donkeys), and those who pay for it all (the Sleepless). This delicate balance begins to fall apart when the demands of the United States become too great for Sanctuary to continue to comply. But the Sleepless have modified their own children to be even more intelligent than they are, and questions of what the Supers owe to the Sleepless and how they interact recall the way the Sleepless treat unmodified people.

More International Mysteries

by Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager
Last year I wrote about how the bestselling novel, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, had fueled an explosion of interest in Scandinavian crime novels and in international mysteries in general. They continue to be in high demand with readers, and publishers have responded with more and more hot titles from around the world.  Mysteries with an international setting combine exposure to unfamiliar cultures, the atmospherics of an exotic locale, and the intellectual challenges of a crime story into an absorbing and satisfying reading experience.  Here’s a list of more great international mysteries at Manhattan Public Library.
Greece:  Murder in Mykonos by Jeffrey Siger.  Newly promoted to police chief of the island paradise of Mykonos, Andreas Kaldis must catch a killer while navigating the island’s convoluted local politics and religious orthodoxy, and without risking the island’s tourism.
Turkey:  The Kiss Murder by Mehmet Murat Somer.  Called “a delightfully over-the-top drag queen campfest” by one reviewer, this unexpected and entertaining mystery set in Istanbul features a transvestite sleuth, a quirky and refreshingly human cast of characters, and delicious dialogue.
Denmark:  The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol.  A noir mystery investigating criminal mistreatment of women and children, written by two women and starring female characters.  The New York Times called this “another winning entry in the emotionally lacerating Scandinavian mystery sweepstakes.”
Mongolia:   The Shadow Walker by Michael Walters.  It’s winter in post-Soviet Mongolia, and Minister Negrui, Harvard MBA and head of the Serious Crimes Unit, is working with a visiting British police inspector to find a serial killer. Booklist recommends this series for readers “who like plots filled with global political complexity.”
Canada:  Still Life by Louise Penny.  Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Quebec investigates a murder in the tiny village of Three Pines, south of Montreal.  This is a traditional procedural mystery, full of clues hidden in plain sight, red herrings, engaging characters, and complex relationships.  Author Penny has been compared to P. D. James, Ruth Rendell, Martha Grimes – and even Agatha Christie.
Ghana:  Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey.  Darko Dawson, police inspector in Ghana’s Criminal Investigation Division, has been sent to investigate the murder of a young female medical student and AIDS worker in a village outside the city of Accra. There he confronts powerful traditional beliefs, brutal local authority, and a long-standing mystery in his own life.
France:  Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker.  One reviewer wrote, “If you can’t afford that vacation in the south of France this year, Bruno may be the next best thing.”  In the quiet, friendly village of St. Denis, chief of police Bruno Courrèges, formerly with UN forces in Bosnia, hopes to find a peaceful life, but crime and the problems of contemporary French life inevitably intrude.
Israel:  The Collaborator of Bethlehem by Matt Rees.  For many years, Omar Yussef, a good man in a tragic and difficult place, has taught history to the children of Bethlehem.  When Israeli snipers kill a PLO soldier, one of Omar’s former students, a Palestinian Christian, is accused of being an Israeli collaborator and faces almost-certain retribution. Omar determines to save his friend, and his investigations take him deep into the complicated, violent, and corrupt world of the occupied West Bank.
Botswana: A Carrion Death by Michael Stanley.  Game park rangers in the Kalahari come across a hyena feasting on a human corpse, and Detective Kubu (“Hippopotamus”) Bengu is called in to investigate.  Kubu, like his namesake, is huge, amiable, determined, and ferocious.  Publishers Weekly said, “The intricate plotting, a grisly sense of realism, and numerous topical motifs (the plight of the Kalahari Bushmen, diamond smuggling, poaching, the homogenization of African culture, etc.) make this a compulsively readable novel.”
Saudi Arabia:  Finding Nouf by Zoe Ferraris. In this literary mystery-thriller set in contemporary Jeddah, the teenaged daughter of a wealthy family disappears days before her marriage and is soon found dead – and pregnant.  Her family turns to conservative Muslim Palestinian Nayir al-Sharqi to investigate the death, and he turns to Katya Hijazi, medical examiner and highly-educated modern woman, for assistance.  An engrossing look into the complexities and cultural struggles of modern Saudi society.
India:  The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall. Vish Puri is India’s Most Private Investigator and the Indian answer to Rumpole or Precious Ramotswe in this series full of humor, food, and delightful dialogue.  Nicknamed “Chubby,” Vish is “portly, persistent, and unmistakably Punjabi,” and he draws on up-to-date investigative techniques as well as ancient Indian principles in order to solve mysteries in modern Delhi.


Parallel worlds, both with scientific laboratories in caves miles underground.  One world is inhabited by Homo sapiens, the other by Homo neanderthalensis.  Ponter and Adikar were using their Quantum Computer to connect to other worlds, when Ponter disappeared.  In the other world, a man (Ponter)  is found in a tank of heavy water, how could he have gotten there and where did he come from?  Security was tight and the tank was sealed.   Homo sapien, Professor Mary Vaughan, runs DNA testing and finds that the man is indeed Neanderthal, but how he got there they haven’t a clue.  With the help of Ponter’s implanted computer, they are able to communicate, but Ponter has lost all hope of returning to his family and friends.

While back on the Homo neanderthalensis world, Adikar is being accused of murder.  A man has disappeared and there is no evidence of where he is.  While Adikar has an idea about his disappearance, he is not allowed back into his laboratory.   Adikar gets Ponter’s daughter to help him in his trial, but it isn’t enough.  So Lute, his woman mate, causes trouble in the viewing room, so that Adikar can get to the laboratory to try and get Ponter back.  Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer is the first book of a trilogy.  Humans is book two and Hybrids is book three.

The Shoemaker’s Wife: A Novel by Adriana Trigiani

Ciro and Enza, two Italian immigrants, find each other and a future in Adriana Trigiani’s epic historical novel, The Shoemaker’s Wife.  in 1905,  seven year old Ciro and his brother, Eduardo, are left at a convent in Italy by their distraught mother who can nolonger care for her sons.  Her husband had died in America while trying to make a new life for his family.  The nuns become their substitute mothers and Eduardo takes to the religious life, while Ciro wants more from life.  He meets 15 year old Enza when hired to dig the grave of her little sister in a nearby mountain village.  Their attraction for each other during this difficult time begins a love relationship that spans many miles and many years.

Adriana Trigiani spent twenty years writing this story that tells the enchanting love story of her grandparents, who came to America.  The hardships they endure as they search for a way in this country are overcome through their determination to succeed and strength of character.  The historical details of the Metropolitan Opera House in the early twentieth century, and Enza’s relationship with Enrico Caruso for whom she sews costumes and cooks traditional Italian delights add to the delight of this story.

The Proposal by Mary Balogh

Gwendoline, Lady Muir has long been known for her cheerful disposition in spite of her widowed status.  Lord Trentham, Hugo, is a former soldier and grumpy recluse who only emerges once a year to gather with fellow war survivors.  When Gwendoline experiences a moment of vexation, causing her to undertake a more ambitious walk than usual, she trips and badly twists her ankle.  The imposing Hugo is nearby and ignores her protests to scoop her up to carry her back to the manor where he’s visiting.  Their forced companionship leads him to question his original impression of her as a silly, vain woman and leads her to question whether she is really as content with being a widow as she originally thought.  In The Proposal, Balogh creates another sweeping Regency romance that you won’t be able to put down till the very end.

The Innocent by David Baldacci

  In The Innocent, David Baldacci’s latest suspense thriller, a government assassin is teamed with a teenaged girl and an FBI agent to determine the connections between several murders and to keep themselves alive in the process. Will Robie is the agent who assassinates enemies for the government–he is a loner and is careful and plans for any and every possibility that something could go wrong, trusting no one but himself. But an assignment goes wrong when he is told to kill a woman and her children–his refusal makes him a target and he is on the run, the hunter becoming the hunted. While fleeing from the scene, he crosses paths with Julie Getty, a 14 year old runaway who witnessed the murder of her parents. He saves her life and the two team up to try to discover the reason for the murders. They encounter Agent Vance when she is involved in investigating the murders and she eventually believes in Will and Julie and wants to help them solve the cases, but circumstances create more questions than answers. More killings, a plot with twists and turns and more turns, strong  and complex characters, and wonderful descriptions of characters and settings combine to make this a story that is hard to put down. If you enjoy the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child or the Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum, The Innocent is a book you will enjoy!


Defending Jacob

Defending Jacob is the third legal thriller by Dagger Award winner William Landay and it is well worth the read. In the picturesque town of Newton, Massachusetts, a well-to-do suburb of Boston, a murder has just been committed. Fourteen year old Ben Rifkin’s body is found in a popular park with three stab wounds to his chest. Assistant District Attorney Andy Barber takes the case in spite of a potential conflict of interest. His son Jacob attended the same school as Ben and is in the same grade. At first, the investigation points to a pedophile who lives near the park. Soon, however, based on physical evidence and comments on Facebook, Jacob becomes the primary suspect. Andy is taken off the case, and instead of prosecutor he is now helping to defend his own son. To do that he must face up to his own secrets that he has kept from his wife Laurie and his son, that he is descended from a line of murderers. He worries that the prosecutor may argue that Jacob has the “murder gene” because of his family history. Andy is convinced that his son is not possibly capable of committing such a horrific crime, although his actions at times speak differently. Laurie, on the other hand, seems to waver back and forth on Jacob’s  guilt or innocence. Each character is well developed and the family drama is just as compelling as the legal drama. Combine this with a couple of twists at the end, and it makes for a great read!

Sustainable Gardening in Kansas

By Judi Nechols, Adult Services Librarian

Gardening in Kansas can be challenging at times—heat in summer, extreme cold and wind in winter, heavy rains or drought conditions. All of these factors combine to make it difficult to develop a thriving garden in our area. Using plants and techniques that are adapted to our local climate makes gardening easier, less costly and more sustainable. Choosing the right plants for the right place in your yard helps reduce the need for chemical fertilizers, pesticides and watering, as well as providing plants beneficial to native pollinating insects and birds.

Manhattan Public Library has several books that offer advice specific to gardening in the Midwest.

The Complete Guide to Western Plains Gardening by Lynn Steiner offers practical information and step-by-step photographs to help you through the basic techniques of gardening. Written for areas of the Midwest from Southern Canada through Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska and Kansas, this book can help you choose just the right plants for your garden.

Prairie Lands Gardener’s Guide by Cathy Barash features 167 plants suggested for our area for a successful garden, ranging from flowering annuals and perennials to ornamental grasses. Full color photographs of each plant accompany advice on planting, growing and care of each plant, as well as sun requirements and, information on birds and other wildlife attracted by the plantings.

Perennials for Midwestern Gardens: Proven Plants for the Heartland by Anthony Kahtz contains 140 in-depth plant profiles as well as 260 additional recommendations. Each plant entry gives the  common name of the plant as well as descriptions of its flowers, soil and sun requirements, propagation, insect or disease problems, and recommendations on where and how to plant.

Waterwise Plants for Sustainable Gardens: 200 Drought Tolerant Choices for All Climates by Lauren Springer Ogden and Scott Ogden is a guide to all types of plants selected for their wide adaptability. Although this book suggests plants for gardens across the U.S.,each of the entries discusses soil and sun needs, mature size, creative design ideas, and recommendations for companion plants.
Their suggestions make creating gardens that require less water easier and more practical.

Armitage’s Native Plants for North American Gardens by Allan M. Armitage is an excellent authoritative guide to native plants. Concise information on hundreds of species of native perennials and annuals is discussed, with entries including descriptions of plants and their habitats, hardiness and growing requirements. In addition, the author has included internet sites, addresses of nurseries, and other recommended publications for further information.

Xeriscape Handbook:  A How-To Guide to Natural, Resource-Wise Gardening by Gayle Weinstein focuses on growing plants in arid and semi-arid areas, conserving natural resources in our gardens, creating an awareness of the natural environment and applying the principles of xeriscaping to your garden. Besides suggestions for selecting the correct plants for the area, the author also discusses the landscaping and maintenance techniques that will help your low-water garden thrive.

Xeriscape Color Guide: 100 Water-wise Plants for Gardens and Landscapes by David Winger offers suggestions for adding color to your garden through all seasons of the year. This is a perfect book for gardeners wanting to conserve water and mix colors and textures of flowers, shrubs and trees in their landscape.

In addition to browsing the books  available at Manhattan Public Library, the best resource for local gardening advice is our Riley County K-State Research and Extension office, located in Room 220 at 110 Courthouse Plaza. Extension agents can offer lawn and gardening advice and have many KSU Extension publications available. Stop by their offices or check their web site to find a wealth of information about gardening in Kansas. Their publication “Low Maintenance Landscaping” is available online.

Check out one of our books or stop by the Riley County Extension office to learn more about sustainable and low maintenance gardening using the best plants for our area and have a beautiful garden even in the most difficult Kansas growing conditions.

Somebody to Love by Kristan Higgins

Kristan Higgins has added another delightful romance to her collection of novels such as Catch of the Day and The Next Best Thing.  Her latest, Somebody to Love, tells the story of Parker Welles–a single mother and children’s author whose father, a financial advisor, has provided a life of wealth and luxury. When he is involved in an insider trading deal, he goes to jail, after having bankrupted the family. Parker and her son Nicky are forced to move to a small town in Maine, where a distant relative has left her a dilapidated cottage. James Cahill, her father’s personal attorney, comes to Maine to help fix up the cottage, despite Parker’s hostility towards him. Can they each overcome past disappointments to fine love?   This is a heartwarming story filled with quirky (and some familiar) local characters, witty dialog, humor and likeable characters. Another winner for author Kristan Higgins!

Thunder and Rain

Tyler Steele, Texas Ranger first, husband and father second.  His wife, Andie, couldn’t handle the stress and finally after wiping out his funds ended up in a drug detox center.   After Tyler, also known as Cowboy, left the center he literally ran into a young mother, Sam and her daughter, Hope.  They needed help and that was his life, helping those in trouble.  A horrible crime had been committed, and the man who committed it would hunt them down no matter how long it took.  Tyler took them to his home town where they could get a fresh start and he could look after them.  Thunder and Rain by Charles Martin is written in a backward story telling way with Tyler doing most of the telling.   But we also get Hopes point of view with her letters to God.  Some of the information is giving out right, with details and circumstances coming later in natural dialogue.  This is a fast moving read making it hard to put down.

Be The Miracle

As you listen and read the news, do you ever think how nice it would be to hear or read good news or accounts of people doing something helpful?  Be the Miracle: 50 Lessons for Making the Impossible Possible by Regina Brett fits the bill.  The 50 lessons that Regina tells about are from her own experience or from people she has met in her years as a journalist.  It was amazing to me how little things that we may think inconsequential, can really make a great difference in someone’s life.  One day Regina stopped in an Ice Cream Shop to get directions, she met a young man scooping ice cream who wanted to be a neurosurgeon.  He had been attending a prestigious school, but his family ran out of money.  “When Regina called the school to check out his story, they were so glad to find him, they agreed to cover all his expenses.”  When a neurosurgeon read the column Regina wrote about the young man, he offered him a chance to observe in surgery.  And it all happened because Regina needed directions and took time to talk to a young man behind the ice cream counter.  “George Bernard Shaw wrote that the great secret wasn’t about having good or bad manners, but having the same kind of manners for everyone.”  You might be surprised at what miracles can happen when you take time to make them happen.