Monday, February 28, 2011


BINGO!  I finally completed a "black out" on my Library Bingo card.  Library Bingo is similar to regular Bingo, except the numbers are replaced by book categories.  The contest began November 1st and runs through March 31st.  If you would like information on hosting your own book bingo, or copies of the bingo cards and instructions I created, leave a comment or send me an e-mail.  Here's what I read:

Audio BookThe Cat Who Went into the Closet by Lilian Jackson Braun

Teen BookWitch and Wizard by James Patterson

WesternFlint by Louis L'Amour

BiographyGunn's Golden Rules by Tim Gunn

Historical FictionSoaring Eagle by Stephanie Grace Whitson

Staff PickStill Life with Crows by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

MysteryChristmas at the Mysterious Bookshop, edited by Otto Penzler

Non-FictionTrauma Junkie: Memoirs of an Emergency Flight Nurse by Janice Hudson

Fiction P-TA Christmas Snow by Jim Stovall

Foreign SettingIn the Company of Others by Jan Karon

Kansas Author/SettingMad Dog and Englishman by J. M. Hayes

Romance:  Chesapeake Shore's Christmas by Sherryl Woods

Free Pick Is it Just Me? or Is It Nuts Out There?  by Whoopi Goldberg

2010 NYT BestsellerPainted Ladies by Robert B. Parker

New (to You) AuthorSnow Day by Billy Coffey

ClassicMurder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

Fiction U-ZThe Seventeen Second Miracle by Jason F. Wright

Male AuthorThe Confession by James Grisham

5 or More Words in the TitleThe Burgler on the Prowl by Lawrence Block

Fiction F-JI Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg

Female AuthorThe Snow Globe by Sheila Roberts

Science Fiction Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

New BookProstitutes' Ball by Stephen J. Cannell

Fiction K-OMurder by the Book by Frances and Richard Lockridge

Fiction A-EMake Out With Murder by Lawrence Block

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Scooby-Dooby-Doo, Where Are You?

I have not ceased to exist, nor have I ceased to read.  My internet service has not been disconnected and we haven't gone on an extended vacation to Bali.  I have simply been overwhelmed with projects that need to be completed at the library, and projects that need to be completed at home and...well, just generally overwhelmed.  Several things have been abandoned, as sad and lonely as a daughter with a malfunctioning car, along the highway of life.  Fortunately, most of those things are optional stuff like laundry and toilet cleaning, but blog posts seem to have gotten stranded also. 

I even have half-a-dozen ideas saved as drafts, and a couple of completed books that could be reviewed, but rather than writing, I find myself spending free time pondering the meaning of life while staring at a sudoku puzzle or watching House Hunters and telling the prospective homeowners what self-indulgent, gluttonous brats they are.  (Honestly, has anyone ever died from lack of duel sinks in their bathroom?  We've been married for over twenty-eight years and having one bathroom sink has never been an issue. And how large does a master bedroom really need to be?  Are you planning to hold a hoedown in there?)

Anyway, things are moving rapidly at our house.  All three children, plus both grandsons will be here for the weekend - weather on Raton Pass willing - then we'll be going on a short trip, so we'll be a bit scarce for a while longer but never fear - or should I say, be afraid, be very afraid - cause we shall return.  We've got loads of exciting things coming up we can't wait to share.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Picture - And A Headline - is Worth a Thousand Words

Pullen, Kansas State shred No. 1 Jayhawks - Washington Post

 KSU’s Jacob Pullen torches Kansas - Lawrence Journal-World

 One and Done, KU Loses at K-State -

Bill Self on Kansas' loss to K-State: 'That was a beatdown' - USA Today

Pullen’s 38 points power K-State past No. 1 Kansas - Kansas City Star

Kansas State stuns No. 1 Kansas 84-68 - Sports Illustrated (

Kansas climbs to No. 1, then falls at Kansas State - San Jose Mercury

You only need to watch the first 45 seconds of this:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Super Librarian!

Sometimes the questions are strange, and sometimes the questions are incomprehensible, and sometimes the questions are vague - but when I can come up with the correct solution, I feel like Super Librarian!

In larger libraries, they have specially trained staff for reference work, but in a small library like ours, you take your chances.  As it works out, we each have areas where we are most familiar - Marilyn knows children's literature, Joyce knows non-fiction titles, and most of the fiction questions come to me.  Here are a couple reference mysteries I've solved lately:

Patron:  I want a new book I saw in the bookstore the other day, but I can't remember the title.
Me:  Do you know the author's name?
Patron:  No.
Me:  Ok, can you tell me what the story is about?
Patron:  No
Me:  Do you remember what the cover looked like?
Patron:  No, but the author's picture was on the back and he was wearing a cowboy hat.
Me:  Oh, that would be James Lee Burke.
Patron:  That's it!

Patron2: I want a certain book, but I can't remember the title.
Me: Do you know the author's name?
Patron2: It's Ely something.
Me:  Could it be "Night" by Elie Weisel?
Patron2:  That's it! 
Patron2's Husband:  I told you someone here would know!

Matching someone up with just the book they're looking for is one of the best parts of being a librarian.  Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  Faster than a card catalog...
More powerful than a speeding computer....  Able to leap to conclusions with a single clue...  

Monday, February 14, 2011

Catchphrase Quiz - Answers

  1. "Nip It" – Barney Fife, The Andy Griffith Show
  2. "Resistance is futile" – The Borg, Star Trek
  3. "Oh, my nose!" – Marcia, The Brady Bunch
  4. "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV." – Vicks 44 commercial
  5. "Now cut that out." – Jack Benny, The Jack Benny Show
  6. “Good Grief” – Charlie Brown
  7. "Mom always liked you best." – Tommy Smothers, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
  8. "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia" – Jan Brady, The Brady Bunch
  9. "Good Night, John Boy" – The Waltons
  10. "Up your nose with a rubber hose." – Vinnie Barbarino, Welcome Back, Kotter
  11. "We've got a really big show." – Ed Sullivan
  12. "What you see is what you get." – Geraldine, The Flip Wilson Show
  13. "Danger, Will Robinson" – Robot, Lost in Space
  14. "Is that your final answer?" – Regis Philbin, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
  15. "Jane, you ignorant slut." – Dan Akroyd to Jane Curtin, Saturday Night Live
  16. "Norm!" - Cheers
  17. "Live long and prosper." – Spock, Star Trek
  18. "Yabba Dabba Doo" – Fred Flintstone
  19. "Here's Johnny" – Ed McMahon, The Tonight Show
  20. "And that's the way it is." – Walter Cronkite, CBS Evening News
Bonus Phrase:  "Just One More Thing..." Columbo, Columbo

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Catchphrase Quiz

Below are some of TVLand's Top 100 Greatest TV Catchphrases.  How many of them can you identify?  Title of show and character, if applicable.

  1. "Nip It"
  2. "Resistance is futile"
  3. "Oh, my nose!"
  4. "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV."
  5. "Now cut that out."
  6. "Good Grief"
  7. "Mom always liked you best."
  8. "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia"
  9. "Good Night, John Boy"
  10. "Up your nose with a rubber hose."
  11. "We've got a really big show."
  12. "What you see is what you get."
  13. "Danger, Will Robinson"
  14. "Is that your final answer?"
  15. "Jane, you ignorant slut."
  16. "Norm!"
  17. "Live long and prosper."
  18. "Yabba Dabba Doo"
  19. "Here's Johnny"
  20. "And that's the way it is."
Bonus Phrase:  "Just one more thing..."

If you score less than 10 - Put down the book and turn on a re-run.
If you score 11-15 -Top-notch TV Fan: Either a trivia buff, or you're older than you look.
If you score 15+ - World Class Watcher - Sorry, there's no hiding your vintage, but you would do well on Jeopardy.

If you answered the Bonus Phrase correctly:  You are the TV Catchphrase Champion with all the rights and privileges that carries....basically, the right to call yourself the TV Catchphrase Champion and yell, "I won!  I won!  I won!"

I will post the answers on Monday, but if you can't wait that long, or for the complete list of phrases visit

Friday, February 11, 2011

Word of the Day

The word of the day is "futile" - which, according to means:

1. having no effective result; unsuccessful

2. pointless; unimportant; trifling
3. inane or foolish

Any woman who has tried to keep a tidy house and raise children at the same time is familiar with this word.  As a matter of fact, any woman who has ever tried to keep a tidy house - period - is familiar with this word.

“Dusting is a good example of the futility of trying to put things right. As soon as you dust, the fact of your next dusting has already been established.” - George Carlin

Google the word and you find stories on sports, airport security, the current situation in Egypt, medical ethics, and something called "futility pruning", which involves "adding a futility margin  to the evaluation of the current position".  Wouldn't it be handy if life had a "futility margin"?  A formula into which you could plug any situation in your life and receive a numeric value representing the futility of this particular effort.  If the futiltiy margin is < X, keep plugging; > X, give it up already.

The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility. - Martin Luther King, Jr.
Your search would also reveal a poem by Wilfred Owen, which I read twice, but my attempts at understanding were futile; a book by Morgan Robertson, published fourteen years before the sinking of the Titanic, yet mirroring the fatal story in nearly every detail; and a couple movies I've never heard of, starring people I've never heard of.

In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was "a king punished by being compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this throughout eternity."1

[The Gods] had thought, with some reason, that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.- Albert Camus

Even Captain Kirk met with futility in the form of The Borg, who announced "You will be assimilated.  Resistance is futile."  But The Borg didn't know who they were dealing with.  Of course, they were no match for the wits, saavy and ingenuity of James T. Kirk, so perhaps futility is not totally......well, futile.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels

"That's when I saw him—the cowboy—across the smoky room."

This isn't just my love story; it's a universal tale of passion, romance, and all-encompassing love that sweeps us off our feet.

It's the story of a cowboy.  And Wranglers.  And chaps. 
And the girl who fell in love with them.
(from book jacket)

Mix together one part Victorian romance, one part Stephanie Plum antics, and one part Nicholas Sparks tear-jerker and you've got Ree Drummond's Black Heels to Tractor Wheels.   This is the stuff of Harlequines - love-at-first-sight with a soft-spoken, tall, dark and handsome hero who rides in on his steed to sweep her off her feet.  Of course, no Harlequin heroine would respond like a human blooper reel, as Ree does.  And no fiction damsel would need Ree's constant faux pas to add light spots to such a string of adversities.  If this book weren't shelved in the non-fiction section, you would accuse the author of exaggerating.  No one has that much romance, that much awkward bad luck, and that many trials, all merged with such unfortunate timing.  But she does.

Ree's incredible web-site ( television appearances, best-selling cookbook, beauty, style and ballet background paint her as the picture of poise and grace.  Surely this woman's life is perfect!  Surely she balances her roles as blogger, author, home-school teacher, mother, wife and ranch-hand like a cross between Jackie O. and June Cleaver! 

But reading about her embarrassing moments with pratfalls, sweat, botched facials, horses, running mascara, manure, and even *gasp* passing gas changed my picture of her.  I discovered that life hands her disappointment, fear and uncertainty just like it does the rest of us. 

The story of Ree and Marlboro Man reads like fiction, but knowing that it's "real", and therefore not a guaranteed happy ending, adds a twist.  As cliche as it sounds, I laughed (outloud), I cried, I couldn't put it down (read it in two evenings).  City girl or country girl - you'll love this "unlikely romance".

I also recommend Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl.

And watch for Charlie the Ranch Dog,  Ree's first children's book, to be released in April.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


If you follow our little blog in a reader or some other form where the content is automatically sent to you, first off - thank you!  Secondly, my apologies for my inadequacies at using Blogger.  Every time I try to use the quote function, Blogger kindly (or not) rearranges my paragraphs when it publishes.  I'm sure this is some shortcoming on my part and no fault of Blogger, but it's incredibly annoying and makes me look like a Loser. 

So - if you received a copy of the post below, entitled ...and Again, and it makes even less sense than usual, then you may have received one of the six - count em, SIX - attempts I made to publish that post with indented quotes.  I eventually exhausted my cuss word vocabulary and removed that function.  I ask that you please hit the link to the actual blog site and read it in the order it was intended. 

Again, thank you so much for stopping by and my apologies for any confusion I may have caused.

...And Again

After writing an earlier post about book covers, I went in search of more Trashionista posts about, and examples of, similar book covers.  Naturally, I couldn't find the particular one that was stuck in my head.  After all, this was in 2008/09(?) that I was regularly reading that site.  However, as is typical to net-surfing, I wandered from link to link until I found some other interesting tidbits.

One was an article from British news site The Guardian entitled Jackets Required:  Why Cover Art MattersIn the article, Emma Barnes, co-founder and managing director of  Snowbooks talked about using cover art to grab a reader's attention: 

"Blurbs and quotes and endorsements all require a bit of scrutiny; a cover is something you can see from 15 ft. away, for half a second, and think "ahhh, techno-thriller". Assuming you're wearing your specs."

Ms. Barnes went on to contradict my thought that every cover should be unique (one of many reasons why she runs a publishing company and I don't).

"When we started doing cover design we were tempted to make every book look unique. Otherwise we'd be plagiarising - and then might'nt readers think we were trying to trick them?...Each cover design has to be individual enough that readers don't pick it up (and subsequently drop it) thinking it's something else. But we need it to be reminiscent of all the things it's like so that its potential readership can pick it out of a line-up."

Interesting article - I suggest you read it in it's entirety.

On the flip side, I found this Trashionista post that makes me think some cover designers may find "unique" unnecessary all together.


Trading Up by Candace Bushnell, Hyperion (US) hardback, 2003
Candy Girl by Diablo Cody, Penguin Books (Australia) paperback, 2006
Feet First by Leanne Banks, Mira (Australia) paperback, 2007

Granted, one of the books is a US cover and the other two are the Australian editions, and I'm sure there was no copyright infringement involved, (no law suits - I'm not accusing anyone of anything). I'm just saying - perhaps these are a little TOO reminiscent of each other.

Now that cover art trends have been brought to my attention again, I'm sure it will be a recurring topic here - at least until new thoughts get piled on top and I lose it again.

Book Cover Deja Vu... All Over Again

They (whoever they are) say you can't judge a book by it's cover, but I frequently do.  Sometimes the adage holds up and I'm surprised (for good or bad) by the tale within, and sometimes the cover art is the perfect hint to what's in store.  Granted, a simple picture can not fully convey an entire novel, but the artwork should at least be unique and have some reference to the story inside. 

Call it obsessive, nit-picky, quirky .... I prefer "finely honed observation skills".... whatever you call it, I have this weird attraction to spotting similarities in book covers. (It's a blessing...and a curse*).  These observations are usually followed by questions concerning the creative abilities of whoever designs book covers.

Actually Keris Stainton got me started several years ago (when she was editing Trashionista) by pointing out that there tend to be trends in book cover art.  She even discovered one instance in which the exact same photo (with various croppings) was used on multiple covers.  Some examples she mentioned were:

The "What the Frock?" trend:

The Cupcake trend:

I added what Keris called the "Back Off" trend:

Today, as I was browsing through blogs, I saw a review of The Mermaid's Mirror by L. K. Madigan and immediately thought "I've seen that cover before."  Unlikely as it may seem, I was able to search the cubby-holes of my brain and uncover the similar cover - The Peach Keeper, soon to be released from my favorite author, Sarah Addison Allen.


Now I'm curious to see if other kindred covers will appear.  Let me know if you spot any - or if you come across other trends.

*10 bonus points if you recognized the Monk reference.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Soaring Eagle by Stephanie Grace Whitson

"Walks the Fire", book one of the Prairie Winds series, is the story of Jesse King, young wife and mother, who sets out across the Nebraska prairie, bound for Oregon. When she meets tragedy along the trail, she is taken in by the Lakota people and becomes Walks the Fire.

Book two, Soaring Eagle, continues the story of Jesse's children, LisBeth, who lost her soldier husband at Little Big Horn, and Soaring Eagle, a Lakota warrior who was also part of Custer's Last Stand.

The Lakota Sioux have been forced onto reservations and stripped of their way of life.  Soaring Eagle leads a small band of hold-outs struggling to keep the old ways and survive through the winter.  One-by-one they give in and head for the Santee Normal School and Mission to be "retrained" or "civilized".

They are thoroughly trained from the very foundation, not only in the ordinary branches of school work, but also in housekeeping—sewing, cooking, washing, etc.,—on the part of the girls (in which, too, the boys join largely), and in farming, carpentry, blacksmithing and shoemaking, on the part of the boys.  Not only is this solid practical knowledge given them, but care and time is devoted toward grace and politeness, and all the foundation rules of etiquette. (

Eventually, left alone on the prairie, Soaring Eagle also moves to the mission and struggles to accept the loss of his family, his people, and his culture; along with the gift of Christian faith.

To the South, in Lincoln, Nebraska, LisBeth is struggling with her own loss - her husband and mother - and searching for her own faith.  A trip to deliver donated supplies to the mission confronts LisBeth with the brother she's never met and who may have killed her husband.

Returning readers may recall from this post or that post, that I am a huge fan of this series by Stephanie Grace Whitson.  Even as a re-read, this story touches my heart.  I am fascinated with Native American ways and their plight, handed down by my "ancestors" (not directly, assumedly, but still my culture) just makes my heart ache.
This is a beautifully written story that will pull you in and not let you go till you've finished all three books.  Now on to book three - Red Bird.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Teen Drama: Hunger Games and Witch & Wizard

By now, if you haven't read the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, you have at least seen them, read reviews, and heard pro-and-con discussions, so I'm not going to write a book by book review.

We were introduced to the series last summer when Amanda enrolled at Kansas State University.  A new program, Kansas State Book Network (KSBN), distributed a free copy of book one to each incoming freshman.  The general idea was to give "K-State faculty, staff and students...something intellectual to discuss with the incoming freshmen".  The press release (link above) also said that "several K-State instructors are already planning to incorporate the book within their curriculum... Along with campus discussion and visiting speakers, a campuswide multiplayer game will be offered in the fall revolving around "The Hunger Games."

Amanda hasn't been a big reader since the days when she would select a Dr. Seuss and wordlessly back up to your lap, waiting to be picked up and read to. The only book she's ever raved about was Mr. Popper's Penguins in 3rd grade.  But she decided to give Hunger Games a try so she wouldn't be out of the loop - and she loved it.  I actually found her in her room - READING - no tv, no computer, no texting.  Well, a mom can dream - there may have been texting - but there was definitely reading.  After completeing the first book she requested volumes two and three!! 

Dave and I took that as the highest praise and decided to read along.  In case you've been living under a rock, here's the general premise of the series:  In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. (from publisher synopsis)  Most definitely NOT my usual genre!  But we were so intrigued, that we read all three together.

I understand why the story appeals to the high school/college demographic - teens rebelling against adults that force them into the ultimate TV reality show.  Oh, the drama!  But the Panem government also has shades of Communism that strike a chord with anyone who lived through the Cold War.  Much like the Harry Potter books, even though this series is marketed as Young Adult, it appeals to a broad audience.

Fast forward to October.  James Patterson, ever the clever marketing exec, got in on the hoopla with the first of the Witch & Wizard series, a Hunger Games knock-off aimed more at the Jr. High crowd.  Dave and I both needed a "teen book" to complete our Library Bingo cards, so we shared this one on a recent car trip. 

The similarities to Hunger Games are obvious, with a sprinkling of Harry Potter stirred in, but it's still an engaging tale that brought us back for volume two - The Gift - which came out in December, and we'll probably read at least one more to see how the story develops.

We recommend Hunger Games for all adults - both for entertainment and for the cautionary tale.  We recommend Witch & Wizard for the younger set, or for parents/grandparents who want to "have something intellectual to discuss" with the kids.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern

This is the world of my youth, not literally, but literarily.  In my twenties, I moved from the unbalanced world of Stephen King and Amityville Horror author, Jay Anson - which had dominated my teen reading - to the dark, tragic world of gothic romance.  I spent many hours in damp, drafty castles - usually overlooking a stormy sea - searching out secrets long hidden.  I have since moved on to other decades and other genres, but Cecelia Ahern's newest - The Book of Tomorrow - took me back.  

Following the death of her father, teenager, Tamera Goodwin, and her mother are forced to give up their privileged life and move in with relatives living in the gatehouse of a ruined castle.  Desperate for entertainment, Tamera checks out the bookmobile that visits the rural area and discovers a leather-bound diary - tightly padlocked.  Once opened, she finds only blank pages that fill themselves with entries in Tamera's handwriting, always dated tomorrow.  Tamera uses the insider information to solve the puzzle of her past.

Although this story is set current-day, and there is no dark-eyed, bodice-ripping duke to save the damsel, there are plenty of locked rooms, historic ruins and skeletons in the closet.  It is tribute to Ms. Ahern's magical writing that I became absorbed in a story told by a seventeen-year-old girl who's language is liberally, and (unfortunately) realistically, sprinkled with the F word - two things that are typically non-starters for me.  The final third of the book had me rationing chapters between loads of laundry and other chores, both to prolong the ending and to motivate my housekeeping.  Recommended for teens, young adults and those who can barely remember their teens.  Mysterious, suspenseful, magical - fun.

Fishs Eddy Feeds My Freak*

While browsing Keris Stainton's blog, I read her post about a store she loves in New York.  I'm not the All-Things-New York fan that Keris is, so the NY skyline dishes and placemats she showed didn't ring any bells for me, but I decided to take a look at the website anyway.  The store is called Fishs Eddy - named for a small town in upstate New York.  Where the town got the name is a mystery you will have to unravel on your own. 

The store sells mainly dinnerware, glassware and table linens.  Being a dish Freak!, I went directly to the dinnerware page and clicked on the tab for Fishs Eddy's exclusive designs...and fell in love.  New York Times Crossword dinnerware!!! 

Ok, it might be a bit overwhelming en masse, and Dave refuses to eat off of square plates - I have no idea why - so I'm not in the market for the entire set, but a few pieces mixed with my current white - and round - dinnerware would be adorable.  (Perhaps if I stopped describing dishes as "adorable", Dave would be more apt to appreciate them.) 

If you look closely at the lower left corner of that picture, you will find the piece that may end up on my gotta-have-it-someday list.  The creamer!  On average, I don't care for artificial, flavored creamers in my coffee.  I use half & half, or actual cream if I'm feeling decadent.  How much classier would I be pouring cream from this pitcher rather than the cardboard carton? 

There really is no point to this post except to share a fun store you might enjoy.  If crosswords aren't your thing, they do have other designs, in a variety of shapes, that are almost as cute. 

*lame reference to Feed My Frankenstein by Alice Cooper.