Read the Book First

Doesn’t it seem like every time you read a book you love, it is made into a film or TV show? Well, here is your head’s up -it is happening again.

The Wonder, a 2016 novel by Emma Donoghue, will be out sometime this year on Netflix and will star Florence Pugh. Why not read it first?

This historical novel takes place in the Irish Midlands in 1859, shortly after the end of the potato famine in Ireland. There, eleven-year-old Anna O’Donnell has become a sensation. Anna has stopped eating, yet continues to live and appears healthy regardless. The girl’s actions create a stir. All who hear of her assume this must be a miracle and flock to witness it. Nightingale-trained Nurse Lib Wright is sent from England to investigate whether Anna is a fraud. Lib is sure she is there to expose a hoax, but as she spends more time with Anna, she begins to soften her feelings about the girl and question her own lack of belief.

Pick up this atmospheric, psychological thriller of a novel, based on real historical accounts of European and North American cases of ‘fasting girls’ from the sixteenth through the twentieth centuries. And then, feel free to watch the film.

-Carol

A Clever Little Story

The village of Prometto, Italy (population 212) is in big trouble. It will cost 70,000 euros (nearly $71,000) to repair the town’s failing water system and their treasury is depleted. Signor Speranza, a vacuum repairman and the town’s part-time mayor must come up with a plan to save their beloved town.

Speranza starts a rumor that the Italian movie star, Dante Rinaldi, is coming to Prometto to film a movie. He convinces the local butcher, Signor Maestro, to give him most of 70,000 euros as long as at least one of his 15 sons gets a part in the movie. Thanks to social media, the rumor spreads quickly. Everyone wants a part. Speranza decides to start filming the movie with no knowledge and little equipment while waiting for Dante to arrive. He employs his assistant, Smilzo, to provide the screen play, help with auditions, and film the movie. Unfortunately, all of the above is a lie and Signor Speranza gets buried deeper and deeper with all his lies.

The debut novel by Christine Simon is a quick fun read.

~Emma

Bored? DIY!

One of my favorite things to do when I’m feeling restless and bored is to see how I can change up my living space. Sometimes all it takes is finally putting up that picture that’s been sitting on the floor since I got it or rearranging the furniture in my bedroom, but other times I want to tackle a project. I love flipping through interior design books and thinking “one day!”. Fortunately, there are plenty of DIY books with inexpensive ideas to occupy my time for at least a few days. And sometimes all you need are quick ideas for holiday decorations or easy home improvement tips. Here are a few books to hopefully inspire you and maybe you’ll even learn some new tricks! 

If you have an outdoor space, often just mowing the lawn can feel like enough of a project. But if you’re interested in making that space into a focal point of your home, Big Impact Landscaping by Sara Bendrick is worth checking out. Build that privacy wall, the outdoor fireplace, or a stone patio you never thought you could and enjoy your new gathering space! 

Marian Parsons’ Feels Like Home takes us through each room in her home, showing us budget-friendly ways to incorporate our own uniqueness into each space. With tutorials, design ideas, and tips, your home will feel more like an extension of yourself in no time. 

While for most people, all 10,001 solutions won’t be new, almost anyone can learn something from Bruce and Jeanne Lubin’s Who Knew? 10,001 Household Solutions. You’ll learn a myriad of tricks with common household products, like using beer for removing rust or making fluffier pancakes, putting whole cloves in drawers or other spots you see creepy crawlies, and removing scuffs on shoes with lemon or rubbing alcohol.  

I’m sure most of us have spent too much money on pet accessories because how can you resist that cute cat bed?? But if you’re looking to cut down (but never entirely!) on fancy things your pet definitely needs, DIY Projects for Cats and Dogs by Armelle Rau has the inexpensive solution for even a novice DIY-er. From the ever-needed scratching posts to leash racks, this book covers a variety of projects, all in a functional, minimalist style to fit any home décor.  

Enjoy exploring your DIY side and your new handmade projects!

As Seen On TV

If you’ve been lucky enough to have seen AMC’s new series Dark Winds, I’m guessing you are hooked like I am. Set in the 1970s Southwest, this riveting police procedural is produced by Robert Redford and George R. R. Martin and has a multifaceted plot which weaves Navajo tradition into its mysteries. The first season follows Navajo police officers Sherriff Joe Leaphorn, his new partner Jim Chee and deputy Bernadette Manuelito as they attempt to solve mysteries involving an armed bank heist, a missing helicopter and a murder of a young girl who appears frightened to death. With Indigenous talent, both in front of and behind the camera (the writers are all Native American), well-written characters, dark psychological themes, and a satisfying series finale, this show is destined to be a hit and has already been renewed for a second season.

If you can’t (or don’t) stream TV, you’re still in luck. Dark Winds is based on a fabulous series of books created by mystery writer Tony Hillerman. Hillerman wrote eighteen Leaphorn and Chee mysteries, from 1970 to 2006. When he passed away in 2008, his daughter Anne Hillerman took up the torch, writing an additional seven books starring Leaphorn, Chee and Manuelito, with more to follow. Anne’s books reignite an already engrossing series by allowing Bernadette Manuelito to grow and develop as a main character. And, like her dad, Anne Hillerman paints a wonderful tapestry in each book, deftly juggling multiple plot lines as her characters are forced to solve complex local crimes, often putting them at odds with other members of their Navajo community.

Check out The Blessing Way by Tony Hillerman, and be prepared to deep dive into a character-driven, riveting mystery with folklore and the supernatural at its core, set against a barren and beautiful landscape. And then rest easy, knowing you can spend time with your new friends for many books to come, simply by picking up the next 23 books in the series.

-Carol

New Historical Fiction

With vastly different backgrounds Lizzie and Sophie settled in Huntsville, Alabama in 1950. Their husbands were part of the rocket program sponsored by the U.S. government.

Sophie’s husband, Jurgen, became part of “Operation Paperclip” which was a secret US intelligence program that employed former Nazis after WWII. (1,600+ Nazi German scientists, engineers, and technicians were taken from former Nazi Germany to the U.S. for government employment after the end of World War II in Europe between 1945 and 1959.) Sophie was left in Berlin with their children for 5 years before she was able to come to the United States. The transition to the United States was difficult. Learning English was hard, customs were different, and local citizens were suspicious of the Germans even though the U.S. government went to great lengths to hide the pasts of the scientists they brought to America.

Lizzie and her brother Henry grew up on a farm during the Depression. To survive, they were forced to abandon the farm after their parents died. They were accustomed to fending for themselves. Henry served in the military in Europe and came home a different man. Lizzie married Calvin, a wealthy widower, who gave her everything she could ask for and more. She quickly became bored with her pampered life. As a newlywed Lizzie had to suddenly become someone who was interested in clothes, hair, makeup, and her fancy home. She wanted to be back on the farm.

Early in the novel a picnic took place to welcome the German families to Huntsville. There Sophie and Lizzie quarreled Over time, their encounters continued to deteriorate.

This is a terrific book for fans of historical fiction with a lot of drama. I love it when I learn something new, namely “Operation Paperclip.”

~Emma

Historically Dr. Wernher von Braun and his team of rocket scientists transformed Huntsville in the 1950s into a technology center. Today it is home to the second largest research park in the United States and to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center (USSRC) with its world-class educational program, Space Camp®.

No-Bake Treats for the Dog Days of Summer

Beat the heat and the boredom with these no-bake cookbooks! It can be hard to gather the motivation to cook in these hot summer months but good thing we don’t always have to. There’s plenty of sweet treats to make without turning the oven on. Here are a few cookbooks to try out and remember, when it comes to dessert, sharing is caring! 

No Bake Makery by Cristina Suarez Krumsick has over 80 recipes for small bite treats that you can make without using an oven! Learn how to make key lime pie, peanut brittle, marshmallow pretzel bars, and more, and learn baking techniques such as decorating your treats and tempering chocolate. 

Haven’t you always wanted to eat a cheeseburger made from rice crispies? Look no further than Jessica Siskin’s Treat Yourself!: How to Make 93 Ridiculously Fun No-Bake Crispy Rice Treats. Making food look like other foods or objects is “in” right now and you too can be a part of the action and make rice crispy treats into a camera, sushi, even a menorah. Siskin provides all the tips and tricks, so don’t worry if you’ve only made rice crispy treats shaped like rice crispy treats. Definitely a fun, creative way to fill your day! 

And what is summer without ice cream? But who wants to deal with churning and ice cream makers? Fortunately, No-Churn Ice Cream by Leslie Bilderback has our back and has compiled over 100 recipes without any special equipment. You’ll learn the basics (vanilla, chocolate, strawberry) and tons of variations, so no need to keep buying pints at the store! 

Enjoy all your new-found techniques for these no-bake treats to satisfy your sweet tooth all summer long! 

-Linnea

A Fairy Tale Romance

By the Book by Jasmine Guillory

In this contemporary retelling of “Beauty and the Beast,” 25-year-old Izzy has been biding her time as an editorial assistant at the “Tale As Old As Time” publishing company, waiting for a promotion that isn’t on the horizon. Izzy’s boss is having a tough time of getting bad-boy Hollywood star Beau Towers to deliver on the tell-all memoir he has promised. Izzy sees an opportunity to dazzle and volunteers to visit Beau unannounced and convince him to fulfill his obligations.

Beau is certainly handsome but is as beastly as they come personality-wise, and he certainly does not appreciate Izzy’s arrival or her pep talk. Nevertheless, Beau challenges her to move into his Santa Barbara mansion for a week to see if she can get him writing. Beau soon must admit that Izzy is very good at her job. As Izzy starts to crack Beau’s tough exterior and gets him to put pen to paper, the two discover they have more in common than expected. As their deadline nears, an attraction forms and they each begin to panic about losing their time together.

By the Book by Jasmine Guillory is a sweet and funny, well-paced romance with a cute premise, great chemistry between the characters, and a swoon-worthy final scene. This is the second book in the “Meant to Be” series by Disney Books. Fans of “Beauty and the Beast” will appreciate all of the book’s hidden Easter eggs, including the character “Kettle,” Beau’s assistant and chef. If you are looking for a fairy tale romance this summer, read By the Book, and then pick up the series starter, Julie Murphy’s Cinderella-inspired If the Shoe Fits.

-Carol

New Historical Fiction

This is a dual timeline novel. One-part centers around the Tennessee Centennial Exposition (May 1 – October 31, 1897) in Nashville. The main character is twenty-five-year-old Priscilla Nichols. Her wealthy railroad investor family has spent lots of time and money on the celebration. Her father hires Luca Moretti to guide the family around the city and his sister Gia is hired to be Priscilla’s lady’s maid. Priscilla’s parents expect her to marry, the sooner the better, within their social class. In spite of that, Priscilla falls in love with Luca, and Gia mysteriously disappears.

The second part of the novel takes place in 1961. Audrey Whitfield, daughter of the Maxwell Hotel’s manager, leaves college after her mother dies. Her father needs help at the hotel and help with her special needs’ brother Emmett. By 1961, the Maxwell Hotel has become a residence mostly for elderly people. When a longtime resident suffers a stroke, Audrey along with the help of civil rights lawyer-in-training Jason Sumner pack up her belongings. They discover a fascinating scrapbook with souvenirs from the 1897 Exposition along with postcards never sent.

In the novel and in history, the Maxwell Hotel was destroyed by fire on Christmas night in 1961. People escaped with the just the clothes on their backs. Fortunately, Audrey was able to save the scrapbook and eventually connect the history behind it, Priscilla Nichols, and 1961.

~Emma

Find a New Hobby!

Been interested in learning a new hobby? The library is the perfect place to pick up a book before committing to something, so the books and how-to guides and supplies don’t gather dust in the corner when you realize macramé isn’t *really* your thing. But if you want it to be your thing, there’s a book for that!  

I’ve compiled a list of a few different hobby books to peruse while trying to keep boredom at bay, whether you want to learn a new skill or just occupy your brain for a little while. 

Why not try your hand at hand embroidery?  

Doodle-Stitching: Fresh & Fun Embroidery for Beginners by Aimee Ray 
Complete Guide to Embroidery Stitches: Photographs, Diagrams, and Instructions for Over 260 Stitches by Jennifer Campbell 

Finally beat your overly competitive family member at chess. 

Devious Chess: How to Bend the Rules and Win by Amatzia Avni 
Discovering Chess Openings: Building Opening Skills from Basic Principles by John Emms 

Impress your friends with all the cool card tricks you learned. 

Dazzling Card Tricks by Norm Barnhart 
Simple Sleight-of-Hand: Card and Coin Tricks for the Beginning Magician by Paul Zenon

Or try some brain teasers and puzzles to keep your brain sharp during television commercials.  

The Scotland Yard Puzzle Book: Test Your Inner Detective by Solving Some of the World’s Most Difficult Cases by Sinclair McKay 
Are You as Smart as You Think?: 150 Original Mathematical, Logical, and Spatial-Visual Puzzles for All Levels of Puzzle Solvers by Terry Stickels 

Have fun! 

(And here’s that macramé book I promised!) 

-Linnea