Wildflowers from Winter

Although Bethany is more interested in her career than her family and friends she left 10 years previously, she is compelled to return to her hometown to care for her grandfather as he recovers from a heart attack.  Also bidding her home, is her childhood friend, Robin, whose husband is dying.  Whatever happened in Bethany’s earlier life has affected her relationships in her small hometown.  She dispises her mother and fears letting her feelings come out of the controlled status she has kept them under.  Wildflowers from Winter by Katie Ganshert is a story of hurting, fleeing, returning and healing.  Ganshert’s characters are well described and you will find yourself becoming part of their lives and situations.

After the Snow by S.D. Crockett

The year is 2059. Imagine Britain, plunged into darkness and bitter cold. Fifteen-year-old Willo Blake, born after the snows that ushered in a new ice age, encounters outlaws, halfmen, and a starving abandoned girl as he journeys in search of his family who mysteriously disappeared from their secluded mountain home.

In recent years, much speculation has existed about how global warming might affect land, life and culture.  Envision what might happen if climage change moved in the other direction.    After the Snow offers readers both a warning–a stark meditation on what might happen in the future and an opportunity to reflect on how we life and who we are in the world now.

Calico Joe by John Grisham

Watching baseball to me is about as exciting as watching paint dry.  Well, I might like it somewhat better than that cliche portends if I have a connection to one of the teams playing, but it is not something I would normally choose to do.  So why did I pick up a book about baseball?  I like John Grisham’s legal thrillers and I was aware that his newest book, Calico Joe was on the New York Times Bestseller list and was a fairly short book.  Why not see how a good writer deviates from his normal genre?

I found myself enjoying the story and immediately getting caught up in the characters lives.  The story jumps between August 1973 when a professional baseball player, Calico Joe Castle is hit in the head by a pitcher, Warren Tracey and then thirty years later when Warren Tracey is dying of cancer.  Narrated by Paul Tracey, the book has a heartfelt message of righting wrongs, when Paul, estranged from his now dying father, pushes him to ask forgiveness from the man he hurt.  Grisham has successfully branched out of legal thrillers with a couple other titles also, Painted House,  Skipping Christmas, Bleachers, and Playing for Pizza. 

 

 

 

For Kansas Travelers: 8 Wonders of Kansas! Guidebook

By Marcia Allen, Technical Services & Collections Manager

While some Kansans will have no idea of the location of the town of Inman, and more may have never heard of the Kansas Sampler Foundation, there’s always time to discover a regional treasure.  Inman author Marci Penner published the first of her Kansas guides in 2005, entitled The Kansas Guidebook for Explorers.  That lovely first effort was a guide to towns, restaurants, and local details grouped by region throughout the state.  It remains a perennial favorite, and interested travelers are quick to search its pages for undiscovered locales.
With hot summer days and dreams of vacations yet to be taken, I can think of no better way to pass a little time than by exploring Penner’s gorgeous second book, 8 Wonders of Kansas! Guidebook.   Like her first title, Penner’s latest is a guide to Kansas attractions, but the book is so much more.
The groundwork for this book began as a contest.  From June 2007 to October 2010, participants were invited to nominate Kansas attractions that fit into one or more of eight select categories (architecture, art, commerce, cuisine, customs, geography, history, and people).  In all, more than 100,000 people from around the world voted, and an amazing 1000 stories, articles, blogs, etc. were generated.  The result?  A compiled display of 216 of the best of what Kansas offers, a terrific book that is a delight to read as well as an excellent travel companion.
Photographer Harland J. Schuster is to be complimented on the breadth of his work.  His introductory remarks allude to the early morning shots, aerial panoramas, and late afternoon vistas that were part of the typical day’s work.  He also notes the generous help that he received from the many local citizens eager to be a part of the project.  And the photography is excellent.  A double-page spread for Konza Prairie, for example, boasts shadowed photos of a distant hillside.  A display of Pillsbury Crossing features a sun-sparkled view of pooled water, as well as a sidebar feature of the falls. And the other 214 wonders are just as appealing as those from the Manhattan area.
Among the overall winners is Greensburg’s Big Well.  Penner supplies us with the history of the project, a 109-foot-deep venture that took a year to finish. Until 1932, the well served not only the town but also the steam locomotives that regularly made stops in the town.  The photo of the well, taken from the depths of the excavation, awes the reader with its focus on obviously hand-tooled walls.
Treated as one top selection are Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge.  At 41,000 acres in size, Cheyenne Bottoms is the largest fresh-water marsh in the interior of the United States, says Penner.  She tells us it is also considered the most important migration point in the Western Hemisphere.  And nearby Quivira National Wildlife refuge hosts an amazing 500,000 birds.  If we’re not already convinced these two refuges are to be included, the breathtaking photos of water birds in flight should do the trick.
You can probably guess a few of the other top winners (think of former presidents, salt reserves, and space exploration for starters), but plan to check out the individual category winners as well.  You’ll be surprised how many you recognize.
For architectural honors, for example, one can’t omit the dramatic Chase County Courthouse in Cottonwood Falls.  For art recognition, the Stan Herd Earthwork located in Atchison was selected for its exceptional utilization of earth as a medium and farm equipment as a means of application.  Among winners for customs is the old farming habit of using post rock for fencing, particularly in LaCrosse and the Smoky Hills region.
Each selection also includes location, contact information and hours of operation.  And the fold-out cover lists tips on how to use the guidebook and a state map that sports each winner’s exact location in relation to all the others.
Looking for a fun way to spend lazy summer days?  If so, this book is right for you.  It’s perfect for family exploration as well as individual ventures.  Take a little time to explore the many riches of Kansas.

Impact by Douglas Preston

Abbey Straw is a Princeton drop-out and amateur astronomer who captures a photo of a meteor that crashes into an island off the coast of Maine. She and her friend Jackie decide to hunt for and sell the meteor. They locate the impact area, but the only evidence of the meteor strike is a deep, straight hole that goes far into the earth. People are dying from wearing jewelry made from “honey” stones, and Wyman Ford, ex-CIA agent, is asked to investigate the mine in Cambodia that is the source of the stones. Rather than a mine, he locates the exit hole from a meteor that has passed through the earth. Mark Corso is a scientist working on a Mars mapping project when he discovers evidence of gamma rays coming towards the earth from Mars. Their lives intersect as they race to discover the source of the meteor and evade a killer who is looking for a hard drive that contains classified information about the Mars project. Impact is a fast-paced thriller that will keep readers guessing until the end and offers an interesting and intriguing view of what first contact with civilizations from other worlds might be like. Preston has create a novel  with interesting characters and a plausible story line—a hard-to-put-down story!

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.

Hominids

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!