Category Archives: Library Staff

Ashleigh’s Digital Book Pile

Title details for The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James - Wait list

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

“For the odd girls, the nerdy girls, and the murderinos. This one is yours.”
― Simone St. James, The Sun Down Motel

We all know sketchy small-town motels like The Sun Down. It’s not the kind of place you want to be after dark unless you’re a person passing through or a person with a secret, but this is a spot you will enjoy reading about. The Sun Down Motel is a horror/crime novel written from two different perspectives on two different timelines, but the motel is the connective tissue between the two stories and certainly is a character of its own.

Viv Delaney 1982

On her way to New York City, Viv takes the night clerk position at The Sun Down Motel in Fell, NY, but things aren’t quite right. Women in the area are turning up missing and murdered and Viv is hearing and seeing things at the hotel that can’t be real. As Viv delves deep into the mystery of the murdered women in the area, she mysteriously goes missing herself.

Carly Kirk 2017

Carly’s Aunt Viv went missing back in 1982 and it seems to her that no one cared. A true crime aficionado, Carly takes it upon herself to move to Fell, NY and find out what happened to her aunt. When she arrives, strange twists of fate allow her to move into the apartment her aunt had and even pick up the night clerk positon at the place her aunt used to work- The Sun Down Motel. The motel isn’t all it seems though. Was her aunt murdered or was something darker and paranormal at play? 

Title details for Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice - Wait list

Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice

Rice weaves a truly realistic post-apocalyptic tale in Moon of the Crusted Snow. It leaves plenty to the imagination, but I thoroughly enjoyed Rice’s straightforward writing style, use of the Anishinaabe language, and it’s a fairly quick read- which can be a bonus if you’re absorbed in a story. If you don’t enjoy ambiguous books though, this one may not be for you.

A quick summary: A small Anishinaabe community in northern Canada notices their power is out, this is inconvenient, but not unusual. What is unusual is that the power does not come back, and winter is closing in. It’s not just their community- the electricity is gone. There’s no power, no phones, nothing. We follow Evan Whitesky, a young man with a young family to protect. The tribe knows of their old ways, but can they go back to them well enough to survive the winter on the supplies they have? When a mysterious stranger shows up from the south, and bad things begin to happen, can the community stay unified long enough to survive?

The Return by Rachel Harrison: 9780593098660 | PenguinRandomHouse ...

The Return by Rachel Harrison

“You can’t erase your past when there are pieces of it scattered inside other people.” Rachel Harrison, The Return

Julie is missing and all her friends believe she’s probably dead. Well, everyone except Elise. Elise just knows Julie is still out there. It turns out that Elise is right. Julie turns up two years after she goes missing from a secluded park. After Julie resurfaces, the friends decide to meet up at a remote inn. Apparently, Julie doesn’t remember anything that happened to her. When Elise is reunited with Julie, she knows something isn’t quite right with her friend. She looks terrible, smells terrible, her skin is dull, she’s emaciated, and seems off. Who- or what- is this new Julie? 

This one really had me hooked the entire time. There’s a looming sense of dread that you just can’t shake and you just long to know more. It may walk you in circles a little bit, but it’s worth sticking with and has a great climax. The whole time you’ll be asking “What’s wrong with Julie?” and though you may or may not be surprised, you’ll be thoroughly creeped along the way to discovering the mystery.

I love a good mystery, true crime story, ghost story, or horror novel. All the books in this review reflect that. I thoroughly enjoyed each of these and would recommend them to anyone with tastes similar to my own. My favorite part of the horror genre is constantly wondering what’s going to happen next and the satisfaction of trying to put together what’s going on in a novel. I hope you pick one of these up, you can find them on READS or Audible. I enjoy trying to find the allegory in the creepy and disturbing that you usually find in a good horror story. I enjoy seeing an author hold society up to a carnival fun-house mirror- that’s what horror is to me. But beyond that, I just love a good scary story for the sake of a scary story as well.  

Stay spooky,

Ashleigh

Working on Your Family Tree in Quarantine

In these trying times, many people are staying inside and away from people. Even in physical isolation, there is still ample opportunity to work on your family tree. No matter where in the world your relatives live, it is likely that they are spending more time sitting down and able to talk than they were at the start of the year. There are some excellent ways to communicate with relatives about family history while still maintaining a safe social distance. I will tell you three types of people you can contact during this pandemic.

The first group of people is family members you already talk to on a regular basis. If you are just starting out with genealogy, talking to relatives you already know is about the best possible “first step” you can take in researching your family history. Even if you are a seasoned genealogist, there is always more you can learn by talking to your family.

The second group of people will be relatives you have not heard from in years. Many of these relatives will be delighted to hear from you. Some of these relatives might have already started working on a family tree and will be very excited that you have made contact.

The third group of people is people you (or anyone you have ever had contact with) have never had contact with. These people can be found through several different sources.

One source is through connecting with other researchers. On sites such as Ancestry.com and Findagrave.com, you can network with other people who are distantly related to you. You can find distant relatives who upload information about their (and your) families to these sites or have made comments about other uploads. If you have accounts on these sites, you can send messages and exchange information.

Our Special Collections Department provides Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest for free at https://www.wcpltn.org/178/Digital-Resources in addition to several other online resources. If you have descendants from Tennessee and especially in Williamson County, they can help you reach out to local researchers and find resources.

If you do not think there is another researcher you are distantly related to who can exchange information with you…THINK AGAIN! Genealogy is a very popular interest and I promise that you have distant cousins out there researching your family.

While you are working on your family tree, you may realize you have distant relatives who are alive and cannot be contacted through a formal genealogy network. One way you can contact them by is looking them up in the phone book and calling them. It might seem intrusive, but you might land on a gold mine. The worst thing that could possibly happen is that they tell you they are not the slightest bit interested in family history and that they never want you to contact them again. In this case, you should respect their wishes and forever leave them alone.

Remember to use caution when you contact other researchers. Use discretion about giving out your personal information. Remember to respect other people’s privacy.

DO NOT BE SHY!

~Alan Houke

eCookbook Reviews: Cooking in Quarantine

I have always enjoyed cooking, and since we are all staying home a little more these days, it’s given us an opportunity to explore that hobby a little more. You’ve probably seen the increase in cooking on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter- all the socials. People are baking bread for the first time or showing off meals that they’ve made with ingredients in their pantry. Cooking is fun and I’m glad we’re all starting to do it more.

I decided to check out some cookbooks on READS and try some new recipes out. My first choice in cookbook was Edwardian Cooking: 80 Recipes Inspired by Downton Abbey’s Elegant Meals by Larry Edwards.

Cover image for Edwardian Cooking

This cookbook was much better than I expected it to be. Usually I am not a fan of themed cookbooks, because the recipes are typically lacking in number and quality. That is not the case here. There are a plethora of (80!) very good recipes with simple ingredients that truly sound delicious. 

The recipe that I decided to try was Abbey Country Wheat Bread. “The Protocol of the abbeys was: If you serve a soup, you must serve a bread. Because all dinners at the abbeys consisted of three courses, with one being soup, bread was a paramount dish” – Larry Edwards. I love bread. I love kneading bread. I love smelling bread. Even more than that, I love eating bread (with butter). This bread was good bread, but it is important to knead the bread for an extended period of time due to the wheat flour- it needs more kneads. It’s worth the extra effort, because this bread is tasty!

The next cookbook I decided to virtually crack open was Quick Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin.

Title details for Quick Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin - Wait list

I don’t know about you, but I never feel like I have enough to time to all the things I need to do. So when I see the words “quick” and “recipe” together in the same title, my attention is sparked. I really thought this cookbook was great and I’m honestly considering buying it for myself after I return it to the library. The things I liked most about it were that the recipes had real, whole food ingredients, the ingredient lists were all short and easy to find, most of the recipes really were quick, and the one I made was tasty!

The recipe I chose was Penne with Spinach and Chickpeas in Garlic Sauce. It was simple and tasty, and I felt like it was pretty healthy. I used wheat pasta instead of regular penne pasta and it didn’t affect the flavor for me. I love garlic and the garlic is strong in this one! It’s also filling and sticks with you, which satisfies a complaint most people have about vegetarian recipes. If you don’t want to make it a whole meal, it would also be good as a side dish in a small amount. 

My final choice in cookbook was One-Dish Vegetarian Meals by Robin Robertson.

Title details for One-Dish Vegetarian Meals by Robin Robertson - Available

To be completely honest, this cookbook wasn’t my favorite, but the recipe I made was yummy, which is really what counts. My complaint is that many of its recipes suffer from what many vegetarian recipes do: long ingredient lists, hard to find ingredients, and unnecessary substitutes. But, like I said, the recipe was tasty and that’s really what counts. 

The recipe I chose to go with was Turkish-Style Stuffed Eggplant with Walnut Sauce. It had 14 ingredients (and if you want to include the salt and pepper, then 16 ingredients), which is more than I usually use to be honest, but they all worked really well together. The dish was flavorful and satisfying. It took me about 25 minutes of prep time and about 40 minutes to cook everything. 

I feel the title of this book might be a little unintentionally deceptive. I thought based on the title of the book, there would be a lot more one-pot meals that you just throw the ingredients in one pot and cook, but they are more involved than that. That can be nice for developing dynamic flavors and falls in line with traditional cooking, but I just thought I would let you know because it may require you to dirty up quite a few dishes in the cooking process. You will be cooking in the skillet and on the oven and using a food processor for many recipes. There’s more than one pan involved in the production of these meals, but the flavor and end result definitely is worth the time you put into them.

I hope you’ll consider checking on an eCookbook in quarantine and giving it a shot! Many of them are surprisingly easy to navigate. I know it’s easy to just Google a recipe, but it’s nice to just browse a cookbook when you don’t know what you’re in the mood for and you may stumble across a new gem that is likely to become a staple in your house. 

Happy cooking,

Ashleigh

Sharon’s Book Pile

I’ve just finished a few books that I really enjoyed and I thought you might like to hear about them. I read a little of everything – mysteries, westerns, psychological thrillers, classical literature, historical fiction, nonfiction (especially about gardening, dogs and home décor), humor and lots of horror. I try to switch things up, so if I read a dark or scary novel, I’ll follow that with something really funny or light. 

Three of the books in Sharon's book pile.

Three of the books in Sharon’s book pile.

At the top of my list is Grady Hendrix’s The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. It follows Patricia, a typical housewife in 1990s Charleston, and her book club friends as they encounter a mysterious new neighbor who may or may not be a killer…or something worse. The book starts off laugh-out-loud funny, but quickly turns dark and extremely grisly. While Patricia tries to convince her friends and her dense husband that there’s something terribly wrong with the newcomer, she struggles to live up to the ideal of the perfect wife, mother and hostess. I’m not sure which was scarier, the monster next door or the pressure on our heroine to live up to society’s expectations. You can check it out at WCPL (F HENDRIX) and in our eLibrary via R.E.A.Ds. as an ebook and eaudio.

Book cover for The Animals at Lockwood Manor

The Animals at Lockwood Manor, a novel, by Jane Healey

The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey is historical fiction with a really creepy touch of Gothic eeriness. Hetty, a young curator at a London natural history museum, is charged with evacuating the museum’s stuffed mammal collection to Lockwood Manor, a huge Downton Abby-type estate, where they’ll be safe from German bombs during the Blitz. She runs afoul of the ruthless lord of the manor and his equally unpleasant staff, but bonds with the lord’s beautiful and troubled daughter, Lucy. Soon Hetty is fighting to save her precious collection, as one mysterious calamity after another befalls them. Could the estate really be haunted by the terrifying spirit of a woman in white, or does something even more sinister threaten Hetty, Lucy, and the irreplaceable mammals? I loved finding out. I listened to the audiobook through Tennessee R.E.A.D.S. It is also available in print (F HEALEY) and in our eLibrary via Tennessee R.E.A.D.S. as an ebook also.

For a really fun page-turner, check out The Other Woman by Sandi Jones. Emily, a successful young business woman, has met the man of her dreams, Adam. He’s crazy about her too. Things go swimmingly until Adam introduces Emily to his mother, Pammie. For reasons Emily can’t fathom, Pammie detests her at first sight and it’s soon clear she will stop at NOTHING to ruin Emily’s life and keep her from marrying Adam. It’s obvious to Emily that her future mother-in-law is a manipulative sociopath, but to the rest of the world, Pammie is an angelic elderly lady, beloved by everyone. It’s fun to guess what outrageous stunt Pammie will throw at Emily next, and there’s also a great plot twist along the way.  I listened to the audiobook through Tennessee R.E.A.D.S.  It is also available in print (F Jones) and in our eLibrary via Tennessee R.E.A.D.S.. as an ebook.

If you’re looking for something darker and more complex, try A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay, whose terrifying novel The Cabin at the End of the World was a recent sensation. A Head Full of Ghosts is narrated by a young woman named Merry as she recounts the bizarre events that befell her family 15 years earlier. When Merry is 8, her older sister Marjorie begins exhibiting strange and extremely disturbing behavior. Mom thinks Marjorie needs therapy, but Dad believes Marjorie is possessed and needs an exorcism. Things get REALLY weird and increasingly tense and scary when the family’s situation becomes the subject of a hit reality TV show. Check out a hard copy at WCPL (F TREMBLAY) or you can listen to the audiobook as I did through Tennessee R.E.A.D.S.  It is also available as an ebook in Tennessee R.E.A.D.S. and Hoopla.

My current reads are Stephen King’s latest, If It Bleeds (Available in print and our eLibrary via Tennessee R.E.A.D.S. as an ebook and eaudio.), and Savage Season (Available in print) by one of my favorite authors, Joe R. Lansdale. I’ll report on those in a week or so and suggest some other interesting books as well. 

Happy reading while you’re safe at home!

Sharon

 

What Library Books I Am Listening To…

I am currently listening to mystery novels by Kate White on Hoopla.  I just started listening to Have you seen me? which is a standalone novel where we are introduced to the main character as she begins to suffer from amnesia.  That’s as far as I am into this book.
I have also listened to three of the author’s Bailey Weggins mysteries, So Pretty It Hurts, Even If It Kills Her, and Such A Perfect Wife.  Her protagonists live in NYC and the mysteries that I have listened to so far take place in NY and New England.  Bailey Weggins is a crime writer who ends up solving the mysteries that she is reporting.
We have many of her books in the Library collection and in READS.
I recently listened to a couple of psychological thrillers by Mary Kubica. The Other Mrs. and When The Lights Go Out.  It’s hard to say a whole lot about these without ruining the experience. Her works can be found in the Library collection and in READS.
~Marcia B.

My book pile…

I’m a big fan of anything cross genre, especially if it’s dystopian. Teen fiction is also a big draw for me, and unconventional stories. Lately I’ve interested in reading a lot of creeping psychological horror with sci-fi and fantasy leanings.

house of leaves

My all time favorite of the creeping psychological dread is probably House of Leaves. It uses quite a bit of unconventional writing techniques not often seen outside of poetry anthologies, but isn’t too heavy handed. The main character is piecing together snippets of documents about a fictional movie about a house that doesn’t exist and uses the idea of space and distance in literally maddening ways.

 

the hum and the shiver

If you like a little fae influence, I recommend The Hum and the Shiver. It starts out fairly gumshoe detective, but quickly introduces the reader to a whole hidden world and culture of magic and music and secrets, all set in modern small-town Appalachia where certain people are more than they seem to be.

 

fred vampire accountantFor something a little more light-hearted I’ve been listening to the audiobook version on the Overdrive app of The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant. The whole series is a really hilarious, slightly episodic adventures of Fred, who is a very introverted, rather boring accountant, and also a vampire, as he gathers up a ragtag crew of supernatural misfits as his friends in his new vampire social life. He also saves a bunch of people, somehow. Several times.

~ Amy

My Book Pile…

I like to read a variety of things.  I am partial to science fiction, urban fantasy, and horror novels and any mixes thereof.  Romance novels do intrigue me but I haven’t read as much of them lately.  I do like to read adult graphic novels too.  I do read some nonfiction – management and leadership plus popular or recommended books to me by other staff.  Teen novels are something I enjoy too because of the tightly told stories that pack such an emotional impact plus they can be read quickly (or maybe that’s just me).  I also frequently will sneak down to the Children’s Department and read some of the new picture books for the same reason plus the artwork is so varied and delightful.

Some authors I like are Orson Scott Card, Patricia Briggs, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Josh Malerman, Kelley Armstrong and Sarah Addison Allen.  Of course, there are many others.

Books I have recently read:

Stack of Library Books mentioned in blog post

Harleen by Stjepan Sejic (don’t ask me to say it) – a graphic novel that is an origin story for Harley Quinn from the Batman universe.  An excellent read with extra details in the artwork which I love and makes it fun to go back through and look for.   I’m currently reading Birds of Prey: Harley which offers a different origin story and different artwork, more bubbly whereas the other novel is darker in tone and illustration.

Lost and Found by Orson Scott Card – fiction novel about a young man with the knack for finding things and returning them to their owners. Obviously that would have some drawbacks with accusations of theft and suspicions.  I really enjoyed it and cried a little at the end, not that it was sad-sad but touching.

The Furies by Katie Lowe – fiction novel about a group of girls in a private school. Quite dark in a way that made me think of Gone Girl.  It left me feeling like I had just driven slowly past a car wreck. Not that it was bad, I couldn’t stop reading it.

I am currently reading Dean Koontz’s Devoted.  I’m a sucker for his books with the golden retrievers.  I remember reading his novel Watchers as a teenage and have devoured his books ever since.

~Jeffie

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