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Why Short Stories Work for Me November 21, 2017

Posted by gregoryhatch in Adventure, Book Discussion, Book List, Book Review, Fantasy, Fiction, Gentle Read, Historical Fiction, Horror, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Suspense, Thrillers, Uncategorized.
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Our schedules are demanding. Our obligations overwhelming. How can can we be expected to find any time to read? Especially when there are all those critically acclaimed Netflix series/Atwood Adaptations/Groundbreaking Cable shows demand to be watched.

I do love to read but sometimes it can be an uphill battle to sit down and get through a book. I feel worse when I begin a novel and loose interest a 100 pages in. So how can I actually get a chance to enjoy what I am reading, finish a story, and fit it into my schedule? For me the answer came in the form of short stories.

Short story collections solve many of the obstacles I had to sitting down and getting through a book. Don’t have a lot of time but want to to be able to get through an entire plot? No problem, the story is only 20 pages long. Want to a bit of variety and get to sample many different literary voices? Anthologies are the perfect solution. Have a favorite author but they haven’t released the next book in their big series? See if they have any short story collections or if they have edited and collected the works of other authors. Unable to get through the whole collection before you have to return the book? That’s fine, each story was a world in itself and you haven’t created any cliffhangers for yourself.

Short stories can keep up with your busy schedule while giving you a bonus sense of satisfaction when you get through the whole collection. 300 pages doesn’t seem as bad when it is broken up into 10 stories, each giving you a natural rest in between to recharge and carrier on.

Here are a few of my favorite short story collections:

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National Geographic Society turns 126! January 25, 2014

Posted by Emma in Adventure, Non-Fiction.
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On January 27, 1888 the largest nonprofit scientific and educational institution in the world was incorporated. Earlier that year there was initial meeting of 33 geographers, explorers, cartographers, teachers and other professionals in Washington D.C. to discuss organizing “a society for the increase and diffusion of geographical knowledge”. The first National Geographic Magazine was published in October 1888.

Rocky River Public Library offers full text access to the National Geographic Magazine Archive from 1888-1994. The database is available under “Research Resources” on the library’s website at www.rrpl.org.  National Geographic Magazine (from 1995-present)  is also available through another database called EBSCOhost under “Research Resources”.



national geographic

Happy Birthday T.R. October 27, 2013

Posted by Steve in Adventure, Non-Fiction, Uncategorized.
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Theodore Roosevelt, our 26th President, was born October 27th, 1858.  In college I recall taking a class entitled “The World of Theodore Roosevelt,” and what a class that was.  T.R. lived a remarkable life.  One of his timeless achievements is his preservation of lands for the expansion of the nation’s beautiful national parks.  An interesting fact that most people probably know is that the “Teddy” bear is named after him, but an even more unbelievable fact is that while campaigning for the presidency in 1912 as the Progressive Party candidate, he was shot by an out of work saloonkeeper, yet saw to it that he gave his 90 minute speech before going to the hospital!  The speech did not help the campaign win, as he ultimately lost the election, but after this loss Roosevelt decided on a trek into Brazil along the Amazon.  Candice Millard wrote a fantastic book that chronicles this journey. Grab your copy of The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey, and enjoy the adventure!

– Steve

James Bond…16th-Century Style March 28, 2011

Posted by carol in Adventure, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thoughtful Ramblings.
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Sometimes when you read outside of your comfort zone, you can be pleasantly surprised. I certainly enjoy reading mysteries, and historicals, and fantasy. But would a blend of all three work?  I answered “yes,” after reading The Silver Skull by Mark Chadbourn. It stars a James Bond-like spy who goes up against supernatural armies in order to protect his Queen and people, in 16th-Century England.

Will Swyfte is England’s greatest spy. Will’s greatest challenge lies not with the Spaniards, who wish to conquer the British. His true fight is with the dark Unseelie court, a magical faerie race that has darkly roamed among humans for years, spreading death and despair. Now, the Unseelie court holds the power of the silver skull in their grasp. Can Will save his country from doom? The supernatural mixes with Elizabethan elements to create a riveting read. What can be better? Oh yes, a sequel! Book two in the “Swords of Albion” series The Scar-Crow Men will be out any day. It’s practically instant gratification.           ~Carol




Rosemary Sutcliff February 16, 2011

Posted by Donna in Adventure, Historical Fiction, Movies.
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 The new action movie, The Eagle, is based on Rosemary Sutcliff’s classic novel, The Eagle of the Ninth. Have you ever heard of the author, Rosemary Sutcliff? She was known primarily as a British children’s historical fiction author. She won the prestigious Carnegie Medal for her novel, Lantern Bearers, in 1959. She lived from December 14, 1920 and died while still writing on the morning of her death on July 23, 1992. As a child, she suffered from a children’s form of arthritis that forced her to spend most of her life in a wheelchair where she spent a lot of time listening to her mother retelling the old Celtic and Saxon legends. She would later use these legends in her books. Her first book written in 1950 was The Chronicles of Robin Hood. She is best known for her books that were set in Roman Britain in the early second century with her Eagle of the Ninth series. These books were The Eagle of the Ninth (1954), The Silver Branch (1957), the Lantern Bearers (1959) and Dawn Wind (1961). In The Eagle of the Ninth, Marcus, a Roman soldier sets off on a quest to find out what happened to the legendary Ninth Legion that mysteriously disappeared while under his father’s command in Northern Britain. He wants to find the lost eagle standard of the Ninth and to return the lost honor and respect back to his family’s name.

As a prolific historical fiction reader growing up, I thoroughly enjoyed the adventurous stories of Rosemary Sutcliff. Unfortunately, most of her books are out of print and you won’t find too many of her books still in school or public libraries. Hopefully, with this new movie, there will be a renewed interest in her historical books to bring them back in print so that more readers will be able to enjoy her wonderful stories.

To find a complete list of her books, check out the Fantastic Fiction website.

Happy Reading!                                                    Donna

Thrilling First Novels Full of Surprises February 15, 2011

Posted by Evelyn in Adventure, Debut Author, First Novel, Mystery, New Books, Thoughtful Ramblings, Thrillers.
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I love to read first novels to find new authors I’ve never read. There’s no expectations from previous books and basically you just never know what you’re going to get. Here are a couple of my recent favorites.

In Daniel Palmer’s debut thriller Delirious, Charlie Giles, an up-and-coming software developer, has it all. His start-up company has just been bought by a major firm and his “In Vision” software will be the next big thing on everyone’s car. When strange things begin to happen at work, Charlie becomes paranoid because he can’t remember doing them. Soon he can’t tell if he’s becoming like his schizophrenic brother, or someone is really out to get him. Could he really murder someone and not remember?

This book is full adrenalin with an incredible “can’t put it down” plot. To me it felt a little like some of Joseph Finder’s books with the “ordinary man in too deep in a business setting” so I wasn’t surprised that Daniel is a friend of Joe Finder. I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me that his dad is Michael Palmer either because I’ve loved his books for years.

When middle-class college student Karen Clarke agrees to tutor the rich, free-spirited young actress Biba Capel,she soon becomes addicted to Biba’s bohemian lifestyle, friends, and ends up falling for Biba’s brother Rex. Karen learns that the Capel family has many secrets, but when Rex goes to prison for murder, Karen keeps the biggest secret of all.

The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly is a deep, dark, compelling story told in alternating chapters ten years apart. Not only will you not want to put it down, but you’ll want to find someone else who’s read it to talk about the shocking ending.


A Teen Librarian’s Favorite Adult Reads December 10, 2010

Posted by Megan in Adventure, Book List, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Thoughtful Ramblings, Thrillers, Young Adult.
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I couldn’t end the week without mentioning just a couple more favorites. As the Teen Librarian the majority of the books I read are young adult books, which I love, but occasionally I need a break from the lives of teenagers. Here are a few of the non-YA books that I really enjoyed this year:

1. Faithful Place by Tana French is the third novel by this Irish mystery writer. I enjoyed the family history, the Irish slang, and the vivid descriptions of the Dublin neighborhood where the story takes place.

2. The Spellmans Strike Again by Lisa Lutz is the fourth book featuring the quirky and hilarious family of private investigators, aka, the Spellmans. Anyone looking for a laugh-out-loud series will want to start at the beginning with The Spellman Files.

3. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley is the first book in a charming mystery series featuring the hilarious and precocious Flavia de Luce, who has become one of my favorite characters.

4. The 13th Hour by Richard Doestch is a fast-paced thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat.

5. Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth is the first book in The President’s Vampire series. This book is an action-packed political thriller with a unique paranormal twist.

6. The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen is a magical and enchanting story about two different women finding their place in a quirky town full of misfits. I did not want this story to end.

In order to make this an official  Top Ten of 2010 I’ll finish off the list with a few more young adult novels. Here are a few YA books that I think will appeal to both teens and adults.

7. The Cardturner by Louis Sachar is a touching and at times hilarious book about a teenaged boy, his blind old great-uncle, and the game of bridge. With a hint of romance and magical realism, this book is a real gem.

8. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare is the first book in a prequel series to her Mortal Instruments series. This new series explores the world of Shadowhunters in Victorian England. All you adult fans of Twilight will want to read everything by Ms. Clare.

9. Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer is the first book in the series starring Mary “Jacky” Faber, orphan, ship’s boy, pirate, fine lady, soldier, sailor, spy and all-around adventurer. This is one of my all time favorite series and I highly recommend checking out the audio versions of these books.

10. Lies by Michael Grant is the third book in the riveting Gone series. It’s been 7 months since all of the adults in Perdido Beach disappeared and those left behind are desperate to escape. Stephen King fans will not want to miss this fast-paced and creepy series.

This list has a little bit of everything-action, mystery, humor, and even vampires (but not the swoon-worthy sparkly kind) so you are bound to find something that you like!


Top Ten Teen Titles of 2010 December 9, 2010

Posted by Megan in Adventure, Audio, Book List, Thoughtful Ramblings, Young Adult.
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As I sat and stared at the blank screen trying to figure out how to start this list (how do I choose from so many great books?!?) I decided to take a peek at last years list. I found it interesting that many of my favorites from last year are back on my list this year. Thank you guys for being such busy authors! So, here it is, in no particular order, my favorites from 2010:

1. The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan is the first book in a Percy Jackson spin-off series. Old characters mix with new, Greek gods share the stage with Roman gods and a new prophecy is revealed. Mr. Riordan must not sleep because he also published another book this year, The Red Pyramid, featuring the gods of ancient Egypt.

2. Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter is the fourth action-packed book starring Cammie Morgan and the girls from the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a top-secret spy school. Ms.Carter is another author who must not sleep because she also had a second book published this year, Heist Society which is hopefully the start of a new series!

3. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver offers a unique glimpse into the mind of a mean girl as Samantha King is forced to relive the last day of her life until she gets it right.

4. Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantasky is smart and witty vampire romance. I freely admit that I am a sucker for a vampire romance, and this one does not disappoint.

5. White Cat by Holly Black is a dark and dangerous alternate reality story starring Cassel, the black sheep of his magical family. Gritty and suspenseful, this The Sopranos supernatural-style.

6. Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan is the second book set in the post-apocalypse future when the human race is threatened by the undead. Plenty of awesome zombie action here!

7. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson is a touching look at loss and grief, but quirky characters, humor, and a touch of romance prevent the story from being depressing. Instead, it becomes a celebration of healing, hope, and life.

8. The Dark Deeps: The Hunchback Assignments 2 by Arthur Slade is the second book in a new steampunk series starring Modo, a shape-shifting, hunchbacked spy in Victorian England.

9. Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles is a romance about a pair of star-crossed lovers that is hot and steamy,  yet dark and gritty.

10. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins is full of magic, mystery, murder, romance, and snarky teen angst. Pure fun from start to finish with a cliffhanger ending will leave readers eager for more.

Phew, I made it to the end of this difficult to compile top ten list! I hope you find something here that you enjoy.


Mayhem! October 21, 2010

Posted by Evelyn in Adventure, Fiction, Mystery, Thoughtful Ramblings, Thrillers.
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A popular insurance company commercial uses a character named “Mayhem” as a villan who wreaks havoc on people’s lives and property. Mayhem lurks around every corner with a sly smile just waiting for someone to slip or not pay attention. Several thriller authors also do a great job using mayhem as an integral part of their plots.


Linwood Barclay is probably one of the best at using mayhem in his thrillers using the common theme of an ordinary person whose life is turned upside down by a single event. The character must then find a missing loved one, prove their innocence, or some similar feat. For example in No Time for Goodbye a teenage girl wakes up from a night of partying to find her parents and brother vanished without a trace.  In his book, Never Look Away a newspaper reporter takes his wife and young son to an amusement park because she’s been depressed. In an instant, she disappears and he can’t find anyone who even remembers seeing her.

Harlan Coben is also a master of mayhem. In Tell No One a doctor gets a cryptic email telling him his wife may still be alive eight years after she was supposedly murdered at a deserted summer camp. Similarly in Gone for Good, a man digs for details of an old neighborhood murder that happened at the same time his brother disappeared.



 Joseph Finder is another mayhem master. His talent is putting an ordinary man in an extraordinary position in a big business or government setting. In Killer Instinct a nice-guy salesman befriends an ex-special forces truck driver, getting him a security job in his company.  Is it just a coincidence that his sales increase dramatically as any competition vanishes? In Paranoia a low-level employee is caught embezzling funds and coerced into becoming a spy in a rival firm—a bigger risk than he ever bargained for.


I’m sure there are many more masters of mayhem out there. Who’s your favorite?


The Beast in the Garden July 23, 2010

Posted by Ann in Adventure, Non-Fiction.
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When I was reading Animals Make Us Human there was a reference to another book, The Beast in the Garden: A Modern Parable of Man and Nature by David Baron. I decided to read this book as well. The book is an account of man’s relationship with nature using the specific example of Boulder, Colorado, where the population of cougars dramatically increased during the 1980’s. As the cougars watched and viewed humans, they no longer viewed man with fear. In fact, just the opposite occurred, the cougars in the area surrounding Boulder were attracted to the large deer population, the dog population, and even started viewing man as prey. Then in 1991, the unthinkable happened- a healthy, fit young 18- year- old student was attacked and eaten by a cougar. The author, David Baron, a journalist for NPR warns that as humans encroach on wildlife, they have to live with wildlife in a different and more responsible way. Fascinating.                                                                                          ~Ann