Category Archives: Books & Reading

#BookFaceFriday – “Millennial Cervantes” by Bruce R. Burningham

We’re tilting at windmills with this week’s #BookFaceFriday.

Go on an adventure with this week’s #BookFaceFriday, “Millennial Cervantes: New Currents in Cervantes Studies (New Hispanisms)” edited by Bruce R. Burningham (University of Nebraska Press; Illustrated Edition, 2020.) The Nebraska Library Commission’s Collection is always growing, the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse receives documents every month from all Nebraska state agencies, including the University of Nebraska Press (UNP). UNP books, as well as all Nebraska state documents, are available for checkout by libraries and librarians for their patrons.

“Millennial Cervantes explores some of the most important recent trends in Cervantes scholarship in the twenty-first century. It brings together leading Cervantes scholars of the United States in order to showcase their cutting-edge work within a cultural studies frame that encompasses everything from ekphrasis to philosophy, from sexuality to Cold War political satire, and from the culinary arts to the digital humanities.”

Book jacket

“This collection of nine provocative, beautifully elaborated essays explores the impact of Cervantes’s writings in their own time and place, and well beyond.”

—E. H. Friedman, Choice

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Friday Reads: Fox & I: An Uncommon Friendship, by Catherine Raven

This book was a nice respite. It didn’t tackle a contentious political or social issue, nor did it build a fictional world fraught with challenges and interpersonal drama. Instead, it was a quiet meditation, shared by a purposefully solitary individual. The drama that did make it onto the pages was that of the natural world—ebbing, flowing, occasionally bloody, though not in a “man’s inhumanity to man” kind of way—and of metaphysical ruminations on the relationship between humans and nature, science and intuition.

Author Catherine Raven doesn’t share an in-depth backstory, but offers enough details that we know she’s been on her own for years. She left an unhappy home at fifteen, started college at sixteen, spent years as a backcountry ranger for the National Park Service, and eventually earned a PhD in biology. At the start of Fox & I she is living in a cottage on a small plot of land in Montana, miles from civilization.

Although Raven has some interaction with people—she teaches online classes and the occasional in-person field class—their presence is peripheral. The central characters of her narrative are the living things she shares space with—Gin and Tonic, two nearby juniper trees; Tennis Ball and Torn Tail, the two magpies she can distinguish from the rest; the voles inhabiting her pasture; and, most significantly, a fox (whom she calls Fox) that comes visiting every day at 4:15.

At first Raven, trained as a scientist, feels self-conscious about her relationship with Fox. She worries about anthropomorphizing him, and feels professional pressure to turn him into a research subject capable of yielding data points. As time passes, though, she becomes more comfortable with their companionable coexistence, which she acknowledges as friendship.

One of my favorite things about this book is Raven’s frequent invocation of world-weary Ishmael, narrator of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, and Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of The Little Prince (the book she reads aloud to Fox during his visits). By linking her own introspection about the nature of existence to theirs, she connects herself to a literary tradition in which plot is a convenient excuse to wrestle with the bigger, existential questions of life. If this is the sort of narrative you need right now, you’ll appreciate Fox & I.

Raven, Catherine. Fox & I: An Uncommon Friendship. New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2021.

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Roger Welsch Book Added to BARD!

It’s Not the End of the Earth, But You Can See It From Here: Tales of the Great Plains” by Nebraska author Roger Welsch has been recorded by our Talking Book and Braille Service!

“In this rather slight collection of monologues, stories and essays, Welsch–a regular on CBS’s Charles Kuralt show, a columnist and collector of Great Plains lore–celebrates small-town America’s leisurely pace, human scale and the ordinary man or woman who “moves mankind and shapes destiny.”

Publisher’s Weekly

The book is a collection of stories which demonstrate that small-town Nebraska life is filled with color and variety, ideas and humor, wit and warmth. Some pieces are short narratives; others are descriptions of characters. The book was previously recorded in the TBBS studios and has been reformatted for national distribution.

TBBS borrowers can request “It’s Not the End of the Earth, But You Can See It From Here,” DBC 01987, or download it from the National Library Service BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) website. Another Welsch title available for download is “Mister, You Got Yourself a Horse: Tales of Old-time Horse Trading,” DBC 13621. If you have high-speed internet access, you can download books to your smartphone or tablet, or onto a flash drive for use with your player. You may also contact your reader’s advisor to have the book mailed to you on cartridge.

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Book Club Spotlight – The Henna Artist

In order to kick off Asian American & Pacific Islander month, I thought I’d spotlight The Henna Artist, written by Indian immigrant Alka Joshi. This story enraptured me completely, which is in no small part thanks to the incredible audiobook narrator, Sneha Mathan. 

The Henna Artist, set in 1950’s Jaipur, India, is a story of run-away Lakshmi who fled her abusive marriage and is now a henna artist to the upper class. While she paints the ladies’ hands, she provides herbal remedies to both the men and women she services. Suddenly finding herself in charge of a 13-year-old sister she never knew she had, the life she worked so hard for comes to a crashing halt. Lakshmi’s story is fiction, but her perseverance, love for her family, and her culture’s art and medicine are far from the realm of fantasy. Here, Joshi presents a reimagining of what her mother’s life could have been if she had been given the opportunity to shape her own destiny. 

_________

“She was brought up to obey her parents and her husband, not to defy, question or contradict. She told me Pitaji’s books had filled my head with too many silly ideas. They had given me the useless notion that I could make my own decisions.”

Alka Joshi

No stranger to book clubs, this title was featured in Reese Witherspoon’s book club at its debut in 2020. Always an evergreen topic, body autonomy is at the heart of this novel, as well as a diverse and colorful portrait of Indian culture. This book is perfect for adults, and vivacious young adults who are ready to face these conversations head-on and talk about their own experiences and viewpoints. 

If you’re worried about your knowledge of India going into this book, do not fret! Our copies at the commission all include a list of characters, a glossary of terms, information about the Caste System in India, the history of and recipe for Henna, and some food recipes! Or all of that information is available here.

If you’re interested in reading this book for your own book club, you can find the Book Club Kit Request Form here.

Joshi, Alka. The Henna Artist. Mira. 2020

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What’s Up Doc? New State Agency Publications at the Nebraska Library Commission

New state agency publications have been received at the Nebraska Library Commission for April 2022.  Included are reports from the Nebraska Legislature, the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, the Nebraska Department of Transportation, and new books from the University of Nebraska Press, to name a few.

Most items, except the books from the University of Nebraska Press, are available for immediate viewing and printing by clicking on the highlighted link above, or directly in the .pdf below.  You can read synopses of the books received from the University of Nebraska Press in the Book Briefs blogposts.

The Nebraska Legislature created the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse in 1972 as a service of the Nebraska Library Commission. Its purpose is to collect, preserve, and provide access to all public information published by Nebraska state agencies.  By law (State Statutes 51-411 to 51-413) all Nebraska state agencies are required to submit their published documents to the Clearinghouse.  For more information, visit the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse page, contact Mary Sauers, Government Information Services Librarian; or contact Bonnie Henzel, State Documents Staff Assistant.

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What’s Up Doc? 2021 State Agency Publications at the Nebraska Library Commission

State agency publications received at the Nebraska Library Commission for 2021 are listed below.  Included are reports from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, the Nebraska Department of Education, the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, and new books from the University of Nebraska Press, to name a few.

Most items, except the books from the University of Nebraska Press, are available for immediate viewing and printing by clicking on the highlighted link above, or directly in the .pdf below.  You can read synopses of the books received from the University of Nebraska Press in the Book Briefs blogposts.

The Nebraska Legislature created the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse in 1972 as a service of the Nebraska Library Commission. Its purpose is to collect, preserve, and provide access to all public information published by Nebraska state agencies.  By law (State Statutes 51-411 to 51-413) all Nebraska state agencies are required to submit their published documents to the Clearinghouse.  For more information, visit the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse page, contact Mary Sauers, Government Information Services Librarian; or contact Bonnie Henzel, State Documents Staff Assistant.

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#BookFaceFriday “At the Water’s Edge” by Sara Gruen

It’s raining #BookFaceFridays!

We took advantage of yet another rainy day for this week’s #BookFaceFriday! “At the Water’s Edge” by Sara Gruen (Random House, 2015) is now available in the NLC Book Club collection! We just added this New York Times bestseller to our collection thanks to a donation from Bellevue Public Library! We love that book clubs around the state regularly donate their books so that more book clubs can read them. So we want to say a big THANK YOU to all those who have sent us donations! We have three of Sara Gruen’s titles in our Book Club Kit Collection, reserve one for your group’s next read!


“Magical . . . At the Water’s Edge skillfully transports us to a small, tenacious Scottish village in the grip of war, and into the heart of Madeline Hyde, a woman who is a stranger to herself until forces convene to rock her awake. Sara Gruen is a wizard at capturing the essence of her historical setting, and does so here in spades, but it’s Maddie’s unexpected transformation that grounds and drives the novel. As her husband and best friend search the surface of the Loch, desperate for a sign of the elusive creature, Maddie learns to plumb her own depths, and comes fully alive to the world around her.”
Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Wife

Book Club Kits Rules for Use

  1. These kits can be checked out by the librarians of Nebraska libraries and media centers.
  2. Circulation times are flexible and will be based upon availability. There is no standard check-out time for book club kits.
  3. Please search the collection to select items you wish to borrow and use the REQUEST THIS KIT icon to borrow items.
  4. Contact the Information Desk at the Library Commission if you have any questions: by phone: 800/307-2665, or by email: Information Services Team

Love this #BookFace & reading?  Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Friday Reads: “Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone” by Diana Gabaldon

I have been a huge fan of time travel fiction, historical fiction, and medical fiction for a very long time, and the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, tops my list of all three of these genres. The 9th book in the series, Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone (2021), is her latest installment in this sweeping saga. I am also a huge fan of the Outlander TV series, currently having just concluded season 6, with each season roughly matching each book. Because it had been 8 years since the previous book, I went back and listened to books 6, 7, and 8–before diving into book 9. As always, it did not disappoint!

For those new to the series, Claire Beauchamp Randall, a WWII British Army nurse, falls through standing stones (similar to Stonehenge) in 1946, and lands in 1743 Scotland, where she meets Jamie Fraser, a twenty-something red-haired Scots warrior and laird. Claire, while trying to figure out how to get back to her own time and husband, is protected by Jamie, and they fall in love. Together they must survive clan wars, British Redcoats, injuries, starvation, and French intrigue as they come ever closer to Culloden–the Jacobite Rising battle that would determine the fate of Highlands culture and possibly the throne of Great Britain. Through all of these circumstances, Claire uses her medical knowledge to help any and all in need. Immediately before Culloden, Jamie sends Claire back through the stones to her own time–back to her husband Frank. For the next twenty years, Claire believes Jamie to be dead at Culloden, and not until Frank dies does she begin to suspect that Jamie might still be alive in the past. Eventually Claire and Jamie are reunited, and their adventures together in 18th century Scotland, the Caribbean, and the American Colonies are a great read. That brings us to Book 9–Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone.

It is now 1779, and Claire and Jamie have been settled for awhile on Fraser’s Ridge, North Carolina, along with their daughter Brianna and her family, friends, and other refugees from Scotland. They have built a solid life–Jamie as a land owner, and Claire as a healer. Independence from Great Britain has been declared, but loyalties are split across all of the colonies, even on Fraser’s Ridge. As the Revolutionary War rages from New York to Georgia, Jamie and Claire need to once again stay closely bonded to survive–through war, fire, disease, injuries, death, and someone special from Jamie’s past. As always, a wonderful historical fiction saga with a great set up at the end for book 10. I can’t wait!

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Book Briefs: New University of Nebraska Press Books at the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse

The Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse receives documents every month from all Nebraska state agencies, including the University of Nebraska Press (UNP).  Each month we will be showcasing the UNP books that the Clearinghouse has received.

UNP books, as well as all Nebraska state documents, are available for checkout by libraries and librarians for their patrons.

Here are the UNP books the Clearinghouse received in April 2022:

The Comic Book Western : New Perspectives on a Global Genre, Edited by Christopher Conway and Antoinette Sol ; Series: Postwestern Horizons

One of the greatest untold stories about the globalization of the Western is the key role of comics. Few American cultural exports have been as successful globally as the Western, a phenomenon commonly attributed to the widespread circulation of fiction, film, and television. The Comic Book Western centers comics in the Western’s international success. Even as readers consumed translations of American comic book Westerns, they fell in love with local ones that became national or international sensations.

These essays reveal the unexpected cross-pollinations that allowed the Western to emerge from and speak to a wide range of historical and cultural contexts, including Spanish and Italian fascism, Polish historical memory, the ideology of shōjo manga from Japan, British post-apocalypticism and the gothic, race and identity in Canada, Mexican gender politics, French critiques of manifest destiny, and gaucho nationalism in Argentina. The vibrant themes uncovered in The Comic Book Western teach us that international comic book Westerns are not hollow imitations but complex and aesthetically powerful statements about identity, culture, and politics.

Feminist Formalism and Early Modern Women’s Writing. Edited and with an introduction by Lara Dodds and Michelle M. Dowd ; Series: Women and Gender in the Early Modern World 

Feminist Formalism and Early Modern Women’s Writing reexamines the relationship between gender and form in early modern women’s writing in essays that elaborate the specific literary strategies of women writers, that examine women’s debts to and appropriations of different literary genres, and that offer practical suggestions for the teaching of women’s texts in several different contexts. Contributors explore the possibility of feminist formalism, a methodology that both attends to the structural, rhetorical, and other formal techniques of a given text and takes gender as a central category of analysis. This collection contends that feminist formalism is a useful tool for scholars of the early modern period and for literary studies more broadly because it marries the traditional questions of formalism—including questions of style, genre, and literary history—with the political and cultural concerns of feminist inquiry.

Contributors reposition works by important women writers—such as Margaret Cavendish, Hester Pulter, Mary Wroth, and Katherine Philips—as central to the development of English literary tradition. By examining a variety of texts written by women, including recipes, emblems, exchanges, and poetry, Feminist Formalism and Early Modern Women’s Writing contributes to existing scholarship on early modern women’s writing while extending it in new and important directions.

History of Theory and Method in Anthropology. By Regna Darnell ; Series: Critical Studies in the History of Anthropology

Regna Darnell offers a critical reexamination of the theoretical orientation of the Americanist tradition, centered on the work of Franz Boas, and the professionalization of anthropology as an academic discipline in the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. History of Theory and Method in Anthropology reveals the theory schools, institutions, and social networks of scholars and fieldworkers primarily interested in the ethnography of North American Indigenous peoples. Darnell’s fifty-year career entails foundational writings in the four fields of the discipline: cultural anthropology, ethnography, linguistics, and physical anthropology.

Leading researchers, theorists, and fieldwork subjects include Claude Lévi-Strauss, Franz Boas, Benjamin Lee Whorf, John Wesley Powell, Frederica de Laguna, Dell Hymes, George Stocking Jr., and Anthony F. C. Wallace, as well as nineteenth-century Native language classifications, ethnography, ethnohistory, social psychology, structuralism, rationalism, biologism, mentalism, race science, human nature and cultural relativism, ethnocentrism, standpoint-based epistemology, collaborative research, and applied anthropology. History of Theory and Method in Anthropology is an essential volume for scholars and undergraduate and graduate students to enter into the history of the inductive theory schools and methodologies of the Americanist tradition and its legacies.

Liverpool to Great Salt Lake : the 1851 Journal of Missionary George D. Watt. Edited by LaJean Purcell Carruth & Ronald G. Watt, Transcription by LaJean Purcell Carruth.

George Darling Watt was the first convert of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints baptized in the British Isles. He emigrated to Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1842. He returned to the British Isles in 1846 as a missionary, accompanied by his wife and young son. He remained there until 1851, when he led a group of emigrant converts to Salt Lake City, Utah. Watt recorded his journey from Liverpool to Chimney Rock in Pitman shorthand. Remarkably, his journal wasn’t discovered until 2001—and is transcribed and appearing for the first time in this book.

Watt’s journal provides an important glimpse into the transatlantic nature of Latter-day Saint migration to Salt Lake City. In 1850 there were more Latter-day Saints in England than in the United States, but by 1890 more than eighty-five thousand converts had crossed the Atlantic and made their way to Salt Lake City. Watt’s 1851 journal opens a window into those overseas, riverine, and overland journeys. His spirited accounts provide wide-ranging details about the births, marriages, deaths, Sunday sermons, interpersonal relations, weather, and food and water shortages of the journey, as well as the many logistical complexities.

Making the Marvelous : Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy, Henriette-Julie Murat, and the Literary Representation of the Decorative Arts. By Rori Bloom ; Series: Early Modern Cultural Studies

At a moment when France was coming to new prominence in the production of furniture and fashion, the fairy tales of Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy (1652–1705) and Henriette-Julie de Murat (1670–1716) gave pride of place to richly detailed descriptions of palaces, gardens, clothing, and toys. Through close readings of these authors’ descriptive prose, Rori Bloom shows how these practitioners of a supposedly minor genre made a major contribution as chroniclers and critics of the decorative arts in Old Regime France. Identifying these authors’ embrace of the pretty and the playful as a response to a frequent critique of fairy tales as childish and feminine, Making the Marvelous demonstrates their integration of artisan’s work, child’s play, and the lady’s toilette into a complex vision of creativity. D’Aulnoy and Murat changed the stakes of the fairy tale, Bloom argues: instead of inviting their readers to marvel at the magic that changes rags to riches, they enjoined them to acknowledge the skill that transforms raw materials into beautiful works of art.

Unconquerable : the Story of John Ross, Chief of the Cherokees, 1828-1866. Edited and with an introduction by Lionel Larre’.

Unconquerable is John Milton Oskison’s biography of John Ross, written in the 1930s but unpublished until now. John Ross was principal chief of the Cherokees from 1828 to his death in 1866. Through the story of John Ross, Oskison also tells the story of the Cherokee Nation through some of its most dramatic events in the nineteenth century: the nation’s difficult struggle against Georgia, its forced removal on the Trail of Tears, its internal factionalism, the Civil War, and the reconstruction of the nation in Indian Territory west of the Mississippi.

Ross remains one of the most celebrated Cherokee heroes: his story is an integral part not only of Cherokee history but also of the history of Indian Territory and of the United States. With a critical introduction by noted Oskison scholar Lionel Larré, Unconquerable sheds light on the critical work of an author who deserves more attention from both the public and scholars of Native American studies.

The Winning Ticket : Uncovering America’s Biggest Lottery Scam. By Rob Sand with Reid Forgrave.

The Winning Ticket is an inside look at one of the most complicated yet seat-of-your-pants financial investigations and prosecutions in recent history. Rob Sand, the youngest attorney in his office, was assigned a new case by his boss, who was days away from retirement. Inside the thin accordion binder Sand received was meager evidence that had been gathered over the course of two years by Iowa authorities regarding a suspicious lottery ticket. No one expected the case to go anywhere. No dead body, no shots fired, and no money paid out. Why should they care? There was no certainty that a crime had even been committed. But a mysterious Belizean trust had attempted to claim the $16 million ticket, then decided to forgo the money and maintain anonymity when the State of Iowa demanded to know who had purchased the ticket. Who values anonymity over that much money?

Both a story of small-town America and a true-crime saga about the largest lottery-rigging scheme in American history, The Winning Ticket follows the investigation all the way down the rabbit hole to uncover how Eddie Tipton was able to cheat the system to win jackpots over $16 million and go more than a decade without being caught—until Sand inherited the case.

Just as remarkable as the crime are the real-life characters met along the way: an honest fireworks salesman, a hoodwinked FBI agent, a crooked Texas lawman, a shady attorney representing a Belizean trust, and, yes, Bigfoot hunters. While some of the characters are nearly unbelievable, the everyday themes of integrity and hard work resonate throughout the saga. As the case builds toward a reckoning, The Winning Ticket demonstrates how a new day has dawned in prosecuting complex technological crimes.

**Synopses courtesy of University of Nebraska Press.

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#BookFaceFriday “If I Were a Tree” by Andrea Zimmerman

Go plant a tree with this week’s #BookFaceFriday!

For every Nebraskan, the holiday we hold dear to our hearts is upon us, it’s Arbor Day! Celebrating the trees shouldn’t just be for one day out of the year. Here at the library, you can explore Arbor Day any time with a wide variety of great books! Get kids involved in the conversation with picture books like “If I Were a Tree” written by Andrea Zimmerman and illustrated by Jing Jing Tsong (Lee & Low Books, 2021). We even have a book written by the Arbor Day Foundation available to readers, “Now is the Time for Trees!” Nebraska OverDrive Libraries has a huge collection of nonfiction work and children’s books, including biographies and autobiographies, memoirs, self-help books, study-aids and workbooks, reference titles, travel books, and so much more.

“With enchanting visuals, this contemplative picture book demonstrates not only what nature can offer but also the reward of new perspectives.

— Booklist

Find this title and many more through Nebraska OverDrive! Libraries participating in the Nebraska OverDrive Libraries Group currently have access to a shared and growing collection of digital downloadable audiobooks and eBooks. 188 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 21,696 audiobooks, 35,200 eBooks, and 3,964 magazines. As an added bonus it includes 130 podcasts that are always available with simultaneous use (SU), as well as SU ebooks and audiobook titles that publishers have made available for a limited time. If you’re a part of it, let your users know about this great title, and if you’re not a member yet, find more information about participating in Nebraska Overdrive Libraries!

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Friday Reads: The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Avery Grambs just wants to survive high school, get a scholarship, and travel, leaving her terrible home life behind forever.

One day, she learns that billionaire Tobias Hawthorne has just died, leaving his entire fortune to the orphaned high school student. But Avery has never met or even heard of any member of the Hawthorne family.

In order to receive this unexpected fortune, Avery must live and stay at the Hawthorne mansion for one year. According to the will, Hawthorne’s two (quite angry) daughters and four grandsons, who all received nothing, would also be allowed to continue living at the mansion. Awkward. Avery seemingly has only her sister, Libby, and best friend, Max, on her side.

What is Avery’s connection to Tobias and the family? Is she just a con-woman, as the brothers suspect? Is she just a pawn in Tobias’ final twisted game? What secrets are hidden throughout the enormous mansion and mysterious passageways? Will Avery stay alive long enough to even claim her fortune?

This is the first book in a three-part series. It’s an entertaining read that focuses more on the puzzles and riddles left by Tobias, rather than a more straight-forward detective style story. The plot moves fairly quickly as Avery and the brothers work to make sense of the will, uncover family secrets, and avoid the threats against Avery’s life.

  • Book #1: The Inheritance Games
  • Book #2: The Hawthorne Legacy
  • Book #3: The Final Gambit (August 2022)

Barnes, J. (2020). The Inheritance Games. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

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Book Club Spotlight – Bronx Masquerade

A cover photo for the book Bronx Masquerade.  It features a Black teen against a brick wall, looking up into the light.

What sold me on Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes was a Goodreads review that said “I hated it, but my students loved it!”. And that’s how you know you have a good book on your hands.    

Bronx Masquerade is a fictional pseudo-narrative that hosts a collection of poems and slam poetry by Black and Hispanic high schoolers. Each poem and accompanying chapter gives the reader a short peak into the student’s lives. It’s a great way for your readers to explore other perspectives, and delve into how you never really know what’s going on beneath the surface of your classmates. Some poems are cheesy, and maybe even cringe worthy (especially facing its 20th anniversary), but that makes the story more realistic. Not every 16 year old is going to be the next Ocean Vuong or Rupi Kaur and that’s ok! Maybe there are some aspiring poets in your class that can take that to heart.   

/…

“You have to take people one at a time, check out what’s in their head and heart before you judge.”

Nikki GRIMES

This title can be used in the classroom as a great introduction into contemporary poetry, especially slam poetry. It is recommended for grades 7-12 and has a slew of awards including the 2003 Coretta Scott King Author Award. Further information about the title, including a Teaching Guide can be found on the author’s website.        

If you’re interested in requesting this book for your book club/classroom, use the Book Club Kit Request Form listed here

Grimes, Nikki. Bronx Masquerade. Speak. 2002.

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#BookFaceFriday “The River Wife” by Jonis Agee

Come up for air with this #BookFaceFriday!

There’s no need to tread water with this week’s #BookFace, “The River Wife: A Novel” by Jonis Agee (Randomhouse, 2007.) It’s available as an NLC Book Club Kit, or through Nebraska OverDrive Libraries in both eBook and Audiobook format! Nebraska author, Jonis Agee, also wrote this year’s One Book One Nebraska selection, “The Bones of Paradise: A Novel.” In total, NLC has five of Agee’s titles in our Book Club Kit Collection.

“Agee’s long-awaited fifth novel is an all-consuming experience. From the moment Hedie Rails arrives in Jacques’ Landing, Missouri, in 1930 as Clement Ducharme’s young bride, readers are swept into a tale of passion, deceit, and misfortune steeped in the best southern gothic tradition. This mesmerizing saga teeming with memorable characters, sharp depictions of frontier life, and lucid, beautifully wrought prose will haunt readers long afterward.”

Booklist

Book Club Kits Rules for Use

  1. These kits can be checked out by the librarians of Nebraska libraries and media centers.
  2. Circulation times are flexible and will be based upon availability. There is no standard check-out time for book club kits.
  3. Please search the collection to select items you wish to borrow and use the REQUEST THIS KIT icon to borrow items.
  4. Contact the Information Desk at the Library Commission if you have any questions: by phone: 800/307-2665, or by email: Information Services Team

Find this title and many more through Nebraska OverDrive! Libraries participating in the Nebraska OverDrive Libraries Group currently have access to a shared and growing collection of digital downloadable audiobooks and eBooks. 188 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 21,696 audiobooks, 35,200 eBooks, and 3,964 magazines. As an added bonus it includes 130 podcasts that are always available with simultaneous use (SU), as well as SU ebooks and audiobook titles that publishers have made available for a limited time. If you’re a part of it, let your users know about this great title, and if you’re not a member yet, find more information about participating in Nebraska Overdrive Libraries!

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Friday Reads: Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law, by Mary Roach

Do you ever go outside? Are you going to have to make small talk sometime in the near future? Do you have any curiosity about the natural world? Then Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law, by Mary Roach, is the book for you.

Of course, the law in question here is human law, and you can be sure that plants, animals and birds don’t really care about breaking these laws. (Which recalls the story Roach tells us, of the person complaining about the placement of a deer crossing sign on a busy stretch of road—wondering why the local authorities were encouraging deer to cross there.) This book is about how humans react and adapt to nature’s lawbreakers—and how we try to get nature to adapt to us. With varying degrees of success.

You’ll read about bears getting really clever about getting to human food (like opening refrigerators and moving egg cartons, without breaking eggs, to get to the good stuff behind them). There’s also the Australian army’s losing battle against farm-foraging emus. Do you have a guess what creature the FAA says is the most dangerous to aircraft? Chances are that you’re wrong, but this book will explain it. You’ll find out why scarecrows don’t work and why macaques will pickpocket your cell phone. (It’s because they know you will bribe them with food to get it back. Roach purposely gets mugged by a monkey to make sure.)

Mary Roach writes popular science texts on a variety of subjects, and she does hands-on, in-person research and interviews with colorful characters and experts in the field of the book topic. In this book, she rides along with scientists who point out eagle nests and hand her badger droppings, among other activities. She relates to and sympathizes with the real people she uses as resources for her books, understanding where they are at in the big picture she is trying to paint for the reader. She handles their human concerns with grace and respect. And she has a healthy respect for every other creature we humans share the natural world with. All of these stories are interjected with many humorous observations–and plenty of anecdotes to amaze your family and friends.

I’m listening to the audiobook on CD in my car as I commute and run errands. There are some things I appreciate about this audiobook and some things I don’t like as much. The author reads the book, and she does a great job. Her vocal delivery is clear, and personable, and a good choice for a book so full of one-liners that another narrator might not realize are supposed to be funny. I didn’t like that the audio tracks were over twenty minutes long. Sometimes I wanted to rewind and hear a part again, which is not unusual for a book I’m listening to while I’m driving, especially in a book so dense with facts and information. While it would be easy to rewind within tracks on a digital audio book, it’s not as easy to rewind within tracks on a CD heard on a car stereo. I do realize most audiobook listening isn’t happening on car stereo CD players these days.

(I also checked the print book out of the library so I could check some facts against my memory of what I heard. Isn’t it great to be able to get both formats from my public library? Yes, yes it is.)

Roach, M. (2021). Fuzz: When nature breaks the law.

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Friday Reads: Run, Rose, Run by Dolly Parton and James Patterson

Run, Rose, Run and the accompanying music cd with the same name came out just in time for me to give to my sister for her birthday. She is a big Dolly Parton fan and I was interested in reading and listening to the music at the same time. I was also interested in a book/music combination. The audiobook was read with multiple narrators including Dolly Parton whose voice I love. Unfortunately, the songs performed in the book were spoken as poetry, not sung. Inserting musical interludes in the story as they were performed could have offered a unique and brilliant audio experience. A missed opportunity in my opinion.

Even though this is a typical Patterson thriller, it was the music industry part of the novel and the character Dolly narrated (Ruthanna) that made me interested in listening. Ruthanna is a newly retired country music singer who is ready to stop touring and singing even though her fans want more. AnnieLee (aka Rose) is a young, talented, singer songwriter newly arrived in Nashville, eager to launch her career with nothing but talent, tenacity, and something she needs to leave behind.

Ruthanna takes on AnnieLee as her protégé sharing her band, her recording studio, and business saavy. After reading a romance that was low angst, it is exactly the angst of AnnieLee’s past and her secret that fuel the plot and make her run, repeatedly. Hence the title and the earworm of the song Run.  

For me, the secret was predictable and fueled the finale in a chase across the country. In a thriller, the story begins like a roller coaster clicking up the incline, tick, tick, tick, tick. Then the drop begins, all hell breaks loose, and you race to the end. I read into the night and was glad to know the conclusion which was about what I predicted, almost. When my sister finished, our reactions were very much the same. As readers of mysteries and thrillers, this one didn’t stand out as something either one of us would recommend but we enjoyed talking about it together.  We also enjoyed the music, given more context from the book.  Reading books with one person is my new book group so I was grateful to have an opportunity to share with my sister.

Parton, Dolly and James Patterson. Run, Rose, Run. ‎ Little, Brown and Company. 2022.

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#BookFaceFriday “Portrait of an Unknown Lady” by María Gainza

This #BookFaceFriday is a work of art!

An air of mystery surrounds this week’s #BookFace. Dive into the world of counterfeit art and forgeries with “Portrait of an Unknown Lady: A Novel” by María Gainza, translated by Thomas Bunstead (Catapult, 2022.) It’s available as an eBook in Nebraska OverDrive Libraries; add it to your holds list today! One woman who is known by all of our book club kit users is this week’s model, Mary Geibel. She’s been staffing our front desk for years, but recently she’s taken a new position as our Library Development Office Specialist, helping our Library Development team with Accreditation and Certification, CE credits, grants, and more. If you get the chance, tell her congratulations!

“A mesmerizing deep dive into the art world through a neo-noir female detective’s quest to find a forger in Buenos Aires . . . Dreamy and atmospheric . . . Portrait of an Unknown Lady, eschewing structure and neat plot convention for vibrant language and a hypnotic voice, complicates rather than clarifies the stories that are told about enigmatic women.”

Shelf Awareness (starred review)

Find this title and many more through Nebraska OverDrive! Libraries participating in the Nebraska OverDrive Libraries Group currently have access to a shared and growing collection of digital downloadable audiobooks and eBooks. 188 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 21,696 audiobooks, 35,200 eBooks, and 3,964 magazines. As an added bonus it includes 130 podcasts that are always available with simultaneous use (SU), as well as SU ebooks and audiobook titles that publishers have made available for a limited time. If you’re a part of it, let your users know about this great title, and if you’re not a member yet, find more information about participating in Nebraska Overdrive Libraries!

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Friday Reads: Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy

Beautifully written, with poetic prose, this novel is haunting in its storytelling. Set in a world where even the most common animals are on the verge of extinction, the skies are empty of birds, and the seas have been fished to nothing. Franny Stone has been tied to the ocean for as long as she can remember, her wandering spirit has always led her back to its cold embrace. Once again, she’s left everything behind, this time for a research trip. She’ll try and follow the only remaining flock of Arctic terns across the Atlantic, on what might be their last migration. Franny will have to convince a Captain and his eclectic crew to take her on this journey, with the lure of following the terns to herring. A desperate last-ditch effort to find fish in the sea. Told from Franny’s point of view, the story flashes back and forth from the present expedition to her past, explaining how her life has ended up here. Ornithology and natural sciences take a front seat in this story that is at times, both uplifting and heartbreaking. The perfect read for fans of strong and unique female main characters. “Migrations” is Australian author, Charlotte McConaghy’s, first foray into adult fiction. Her second novel “Once There Were Wolves,” published in August 2021, is next on my to-read list.

McConaghy, Charlotte. Migrations: A Novel. Flatiron Books. 2020.

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#BookFaceFriday “Private Way” by Ladette Randolph

We’re all wrapped up in this week’s #BookFaceFriday!

We like everything about this week’s #BookFaceFriday, the book, the author, the publisher, and the model! “Private Way: A Novel is the latest book by famed Nebraska author, Ladette Randolph (University of Nebraska Press, 2022). One of the most prestigious academic presses in the country, the University of Nebraska Press sends us around 75 select titles per year, which are added to the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse, also known as the Nebraska State Documents Collection. This collection is comprised of publications issued by Nebraska state agencies, ensuring that state government information is available to a wide audience and that those valuable publications are preserved for future generations. University of Nebraska Press books, as well as all state documents, are available for checkout by libraries and librarians for their patrons. Our model this week is a new addition to the Nebraska Library Commission! Welcome to Mackenzie Marrow, our new Information Services Technician. They completed their Masters in Library and Information Science from Simmons University last August. When asked about what they like to read, Mackenzie says, “I love any book that has an ensemble cast that is really fleshed out, especially if it’s sci-fi or fantasy.” Mackenzie’s two favorite series right now are “The Locked Tomb” by Tamsyn Muir and “Wayfarers” by Becky Chambers, “I could talk for ages about either one!” Outside of reading, their hobbies include playing DND, and trivia nights at The Happy Raven. They also recently adopted an 11-year-old cat named Mittens! “She’s my first cat, I grew up with dogs, and I love her to death.” So if you get the chance, say hello to Mackenzie!

“A wonderfully wise, vividly written, and deeply absorbing novel that delves into Willa Cather’s question about what is required of ‘a civilized society.’ By turns funny, reflective, and harrowing . . . Private Way is that rare novel that acknowledges the real hazards of civic life while also celebrating its transformative power.”

Suzanne Berne, author of The Dogs of Littlefield: A Novel

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Farewell, #BookFaceFriday, parting is such sweet sorrow…

Alas, our beloved #BookFaceFriday series has come to an end.

We hope you will enjoy our new photo series, #MicroficheMonday, in which we explore the depths of the Nebraska Library Commission’s state document collection preserved on microfilm prior to 2005. We will examine these fascinating artifacts piece-by-piece every Monday for the next 5 years. We hope you will enjoy it as much as we do!

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“…what fools these mortals be . . .”

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Happy April Fool’s Day! Scroll down for this week’s actual BookFace!  “Fools and Mortals: A Novel” by Bernard Cornwell (HarperCollins, 2018) is available as an eBook in Nebraska OverDrive Libraries. Cornwell is a New York Times bestselling author, seven of his books are also available for readers in OverDrive. Find this title and many more through Nebraska OverDrive. Libraries participating in the Nebraska OverDrive Libraries Group currently have access to a shared and growing collection of digital downloadable audiobooks and eBooks. 186 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 26,554 audiobooks, 32,935 eBooks, and 3,940 magazines. As an added bonus it includes 130 podcasts that are always available with simultaneous use (SU), as well as SU ebooks and audiobook titles that publishers have made available for a limited time. If you’re a part of it, let your users know about this great title, and if you’re not a member yet, find more information about participating in Nebraska Overdrive Libraries!

“Marvelous…. Full of drama, both on- and offstage, and with numerous delightful, laugh-out-loud moments, this novel is an absolute joy. A must-have for anyone who loves the theater, this is easily the best book this reviewer has read this year.”

Library Journal, starred review

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Friday Reads: The Four Winds: A Novel by Kristin Hannah

The Four Winds is a historical novel with true to life elements from a period of deep despair. Kristin Hannah’s book is about hard times, America in the 1930s – the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, with millions of people unemployed and struggling to meet day-to-day needs. It is a book about survival, family relationships, courage, and endurance.

The Four Winds reminded me of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, a book I read many years ago and among the most disturbing I’ve ever read. In Hannah’s book, it is the Martinelli family. In Steinbeck’s, it is the Joads.

The Four Winds is told mostly through the eyes and voice of Elsa Martinelli. The story begins in the Texas Panhandle, a rural community – a typical small town with surrounding farms. The story moves from the prosperous times preceding the Great Depression to years of poverty and hardship as drought and dust storms transform millions of acres of landscape and turn the economy upside down. Martinelli, married with young children, struggles to overcome life-robbing elements. Family relationships are tested. There is betrayal, and there are strained relationships between Elsa and her headstrong teenage daughter Loreda. Tension grows with the seemingly never-ending drought and the prospects of leaving the farm to join the thousands migrating westward for a perceived better life in California.

Readers describe the book as depressing, but it presents a compelling and difficult to forget story. Libraries and librarians contribute to the story, and in a positive way.  

The audiobook (Macmillan Audio) includes an interview with Kristin Hannah and skilled narrator Julia Whelan. The interview offers interesting and helpful historical background – the author’s research and approach to writing the novel, and the narrator’s preparation and narration methods.

Among Kristin Hannah’s books are the notable The Nightingale, The Great Alone, and Winter Garden.

Hannah, Kristin. The Four Winds: A Novel. William Morrow. 2021.

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