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wilder mind

image via syndetics

They went electric!  I guess that’s a big deal…  I like acoustic and electric instruments both so I don’t know.  I do think, however, that I’m wearying of this band’s commitment to histrionic musicality and uber-dramatic lyric delivery.  No one is this serious and intense all of the time, and if someone is, it might be because they’re a little bit too in love with themselves, which is, at the least, off-putting.  So, this certainly may be true of Mumford, but I hold out some hope for my ability to listen to an album beyond this latest, Wilder Mind, because I have witnessed signs of an endearing, creditable unsurpassed-ardor coming from deep within for what they do so well as a band … namely, make and perform music.  Unfortunately, to witness these “signs” I had to dig pretty deep by listening exclusively to the deluxe edition of the album before Wilder Mind, Babel, and by really paying attention to those last 2 or 3 bonus tracks.  And therein lies the rub. If your love for music is that buried, maybe, like I said before, you’re really in love with something else.

Suggested Use: Preparatory music for going shopping at the mall.  Just like the massive amount of screen printing and distress applied to t-shirts and jeans at the several stores along the widest of public walkways, this album will encourage you to rationalize a weekday shopping spree while also enabling tragic reflection upon it.

You know sometimes you fall into a reading rut. Sometimes, you find yourself being less then happy over all the new books that you’re reading. Are you bored with the book that’s in your little hands? Do you find yourself asking: “How did this ever get published?” A lot of people who find themselves in a reading rut will change reading genres. I on the other hand pick up an oldie but goodie — a comfort read, shall we say.  Time for a cleansing breath.

To get out of my downward book spiral, I decided to reread 9780060549312_p0_v1_s260x420Something About Emmaline by Elizabeth Boyle from 2005.  My memory is really hazy when it comes to this book. All I remember is the first time I read it, it made me smile — maybe even laugh. I think I always give a higher nod to books that make me laugh. This story has an amusing set-up. Our hero, Alexander Denford, Baron Sedgwick, is tired of marriage-minded people. Everywhere he turns he’s tripping over some nubile girl with wedding bells on her mind. And if she doesn’t have those wedding bell tunes, her mother and even his grandmother have plans to see him wed. What’s a fella to do? Well, he and his drink-too-much buddy Jack come up with a foolproof plan that will stop all of these women from bothering him. He pretends to have a wife, Emmaline. He makes up a story about his sickly wife who can never make an appearance in society — why she’s almost at death’s door. But not completely because he has to keep her alive to keep all the women away. And, it works — or at least he thinks it works. Little does he know that he and Jack were overheard when they were coming up with their grandiose scheme.

Just when Alex is all comfy in his no-women-bothering-me-dream-world, he starts getting bills. Bills from carpenters, drapers, painters and dressmakers. It seems that his fake wife Emmaline is spending his money. It’s not long before he’s off to London to confront the imposter and the fun begins.

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Glass DemonBook Review:  The Glass Demon by Helen Grant

“Teenager Lin Fox is a stranger in a strange land — Germany, where her father has come on a quixotic quest to locate a priceless artifact. The medieval (and possibly mythical) Allerheiligen stained glass is believed by some to be lost, by others to have been destroyed, and by virtually all to be haunted. A mysterious letter persuades Dr. Oliver Fox that he can be the one to find it — but someone else is determined to ensure that the glass stays hidden forever.

First, an elderly stranger is found dead in an orchard, then one of Oliver’s contacts is mysteriously drowned — both bodies inexplicably surrounded by shards of colored glass. As dark superstitions simmer, Lin embarks on her own search to find the glass. As her life comes to resemble the grimmest of fairy tales, she realizes that what she must find is not only the truth about the legendary glass but a way to save the lives of those she loves.”  Book description.

A suspenseful blend of legend, mystery, and horror – Grant certainly demonstrates a deft touch in her storytelling.  I loved the legend of the Allerheiligen stained glass, as well as the Gothic setting with its crumbling ruins, dark forests, and brooding priests.  Claustrophobic, eerie, and nicely plotted, the only aspect of the book that didn’t quite convince me was the relationship between Lin and Michael; it was a bit jumpy, but it didn’t detract from the story.  I must add that I desperately wanted to see the Allerheiligen stained glass for myself – I’ll have to settle for googling images of the Steinfeld stained glass windows from which Grant drew inspiration for the story.  Looking forward to reading her first book, The Vanishing of Katharina Linden!

Summer memoirs

The cover of the copy I read over and over again.

As a young person with a working mother, I spent my summers in Indiana at my grandparents’ “farm.” They were raising another granddaughter who was seven years younger than me. Although we played well much of the time as I grew older I wanted to do my own thing. The summer that I was 12 or 13 I holed up in the tiny playhouse Grandpa had made out of old doors and devoured the books from the basement bookshelves (it had to have been 100 degrees in that teeny box but I was alone!). Grandma and Grandpa weren’t fiction readers; the basement “library” was full of Christian devotionals and biographies/memoirs. That summer I read an odd mix of those books including two about Dale Evans & Roy Rogers, Woman at the Well, Dale’s spiritual memoir and Angel Unaware, the story of their daughter born as a “mongoloid” [sic], and Joni, the autobiography of Joni Eareckson Tada who had become a quadriplegic following a diving accident.

For some reason this book really stuck with me, I don’t know if it was the narrative format of her writing or the drama of her story that kept me coming back; I’m sure I read it at least five times that summer. Here’s the quick synopsis — on a day at the beach with friends typical teen Joni (pronounced Johnny after her father) dove into shallow water and broke her neck. She became paralyzed and spent two years in rehabilitation. She chronicles her despair and desire to end her life alongside the friends and family who try to bring her to a new vision of the rest of her life. Despite pushing away her entire support system Joni perseveres and (obviously) lives to tell the tale.

I hadn’t thought about her for years until I saw her picture on a Trinity Communications flier advertising this summer’s concerts in the area. I decided to go buy a ticket. By the time you read this post I will have seen Joni in real life at the Grand Wayne Center. I’m not sure what I’ll take away from this event — my spirituality is pretty far away from where I was at 12. Oddly though, my taste in books is pretty similar as I still spend much of my reading time on memoirs (aka autobiographies). Thanks, Joni!

Just for fun: I’m not sure how I stumbled on Joni the Movie, the 1979 film about her life in which she starred, but I ended up watching the film several times as well. Here is the very dated trailer:

Stephen King is one of my favorite writers. I credit that to finding Night Shift on our family bookcase in high school and devouring it late at night. It was terrifying. Then I discovered The Stand. I was hooked!

I commuted to Indianapolis for graduate school and discovered audiobooks. It was a perfect distraction from the painfully boring drive between Fort Wayne and our state capital — especially on the drive home when there was nothing good on the radio. I listened to many books on tape during that time.

I have now moved on to downloadable audio that you can use through our OverDrive service with your library card. I download audiobooks to my phone and then listen to them as I walk and drive. I still can’t listen at home, though — I get too distracted.

I was absolutely delighted to learn that Stephen King was releasing a new story on audio only, months before the print version comes out. This is certainly not the norm, but an author of his standing can do whatever he wants. :) Here is a nice write-up in the New York Times.

stephen king drunken fireworks

From the author’s Facebook page

Drunken Fireworks was really funny. Hearing the Maine accent, instead of trying to conjure it in your head, is irreplaceable. Tim Sample was the perfect narrator. It was a short story (90 minutes), and well worth the listen.

On a Saturday morning more than a month ago a regular patron of the Allen County Public Library, Meaghan Good, dropped off four books for donation to the main library. This is not unusual as Meaghan is always donating books to us. To date she has donated 107 books and 2 DVD’s. What caught my eye on this occasion was the markings on one of the books she donated. The title was, “More Cornish Murders,” by John Van Der Kiste and Nicola Sly and it still had a spine label, barcode, and markings from the Dittons Library in Surrey, England.

As with all titles donated to us I looked in World Cat to see how many libraries held this title, but also to see if the Dittons Library still had a record for the book. I was very surprised to find they did. I happened to be working with my boss, Carol, and asked her if I should contact the library in England to be sure someone hadn’t sold Meaghan stolen goods over the Internet. Carol also thought this was a good idea so I contacted the library via email. The library responded telling me the book had been a part of their collection, but three years ago — whether because the book was stolen or removed for book sale — it was taken out of their collection. They said we should feel free to add it to our collection.

I was very excited by the news because it made us the only library in North America to hold the title. Carol and I were both intrigued by the book’s story, but thought this was the end of the tale and did not give it another thought. The following Monday I was contacted by a senior member of the Surrey County Council in England, Kevin Richardson. He introduced himself, asked me to take some photos, and if I could get some information from Meaghan regarding how she came by the book. He mentioned it would make a nice story and we honestly thought he was going to share it locally with colleagues and patrons of the library. I gathered the information he requested and sent it to him in the following days, again thinking this is the end of the story.

Well, I was wrong!!! Kevin contacted me several days later explaining the Surrey County Council was in charge of the 800th anniversary celebration being held in Runnymede, England the following week. This is where the Magna Carta was signed in 1215 giving landowners more rights and some separation from King John. They gave the story a very neat twist and planned to release it in conjunction with the event being held the following week. The really cool part about the event was part of the Royal Family was attending. The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Princess Royal, & The Duke of Cambridge attended the festivities along with England’s prime minister, David Cameron, and several American dignitaries.

http://news.surreycc.gov.uk/2015/04/16/the-queen-to-attend-magna-carta-800th-anniversary-event/

Again I thought, “Okay the story has finally run its course, I will not be hearing anything else about it.” And again I was surprised when I received a phone call from the BBC in England requesting a radio interview about the book and how we came by it. They released the interview and Tweeted about the story a few days later.

Once it was released to their media our media picked up on it, but only locally. The Journal Gazette contacted me for an interview and sent someone to take pictures.

http://www.journalgazette.net/news/local/frank-gray/Librarian-s-sleuthing-reveals-true-crime-tome-s-true-home-7107007

It has been fun to see how one little book garnered so much attention for traveling 4,000 miles from its home location. I was not expecting any of this when I contacted the library in England. I was trying to be honest and fair. If the book belonged in their collection I wanted them to have it back. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I got contacted by the Surrey County Council and was told they were releasing the story in conjunction with the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta. The fact the Royal Family was going to be in attendance was the icing on the cake for me. A lot of my friends were saying, “They should fly you over there!” I was all for it. I could have learned to curtsy.

My favorite side story from the whole affair was when the BBC called me. They actually tried to contact me at the library, but I worked the late shift and wasn’t in. The library contacted me at home and gave me the numbers to call the BBC and speak with them. I have never, in my life, made an international phone call. I didn’t even know how to do it. Come to find out neither of my phones would call internationally.

Fortunately I had an email address for the man interviewing me, Mike Buxton. I contacted him via email explaining my situation and leaving my phone number. I knew I would be hearing from him soon because of the time change and I had a dilemma. I have two small children. Our son is four years old, and our daughter is almost one. As anyone with little ones is aware they can be loud and unpredictable especially when you need them not to be. It’s one of Newton’s Laws. Look it up. So I made the baby a bottle she could have done without, and bribed our son. I told him, “Mommy is expecting a very important phone call. If you sit quietly and watch Curious George while I talk I will let you open a birthday gift and have any candy you want.” He got huge eyes and agreed readily. I knew he would be fine.

When Mike called back I laid the baby in her crib, gave her the bottle, pushed play on the TV, and went in the bedroom to complete the interview. The kids were perfect and the interview was fun. If I had not made a plan, however, half of England would have heard my kids screaming about this, that, and the other thing as kids are wont to do.

The story has run its course. I have had my 15 minutes of fame and it was fun. I would like to think the Queen saw the story and admirably thought, “How Sherlock Holmes of her.” I also feel that Prince William and Princess Kate sat and had a lovely chat about us here at the Allen County Public Library. A girl can dream, right?!

Runnymede, England

magna-carta-memorial

11407203_10152807699001502_8531060353632956476_nDittons Library

Alarm_clock, By Jeff (http://www.flickr.com/photos/respres/3993637900/) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsWhat a nice ending.  That’s all I can say.  To say more would be spoiler-ing.

On to what I can say.  Wright Morris is the author of this next to last Near-Pulitzer for 1954, The Deep Sleep.  He hailed from Nebraska. He lived to be 88 years old.  He was also a photographer.  He won the National Book Award twice during his lifetime and, as I’ve said, nearly won a Pulitzer.  Nearly.  What a sad word, but then, it’s a lot closer than I’ve ever been to acknowledgement by Columbia University.  And in all seriousness now, I want to read more Wright Morris.  See, I rather liked this book with its wry yet mature treatment of difficult characters and its overarching generosity to the true believers (the dogmatic, the exacting) among us.  Morris wrote more than 30 books … plenty of choices.  Very exciting.

So that title.  I found it rather intriguing.  The Deep Sleep.  Does it refer to the deceased individual who’s at the center of Morris’ book? Does it refer to the trudging wife of the deceased who seems to live in her own exclusive world?  Perhaps to the hired hand who is so passive he’s like a sleepwalker?  Or maybe to the son-in-law dozing off within the walls of his cynicism?  Or is it a reminder to us that “to sleep” is ultimately where we are all going and we might as well be kind and helpful to those we meet on the way?

A thoughtful novel that takes place in exactly 24 hours, you could set your watch by the character of the grandmother, just like the Judge used to.  Oops.  Have I said too much?  Nooooo.  I guess not.  Actually, I’ve said too little for that “Judge” reference to be clear, but that’s okay.  Just read the book … or one of Morris’ many other novels.  Did I mention he won the National Book Award twice?

“Craig is reading all of the Pulitzer-prize winning novels in chronological order.  See the origins of this journey here.”

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