Category Archives: Book Reviews

Gratitude Attitude


Honestly. What more can happen? Dare I say that?! I have NOT had a good attitude this week, and it’s only Monday! I discovered $400 worth of debits in my checking account that weren’t mine. I don’t even have $400!  Someone set up a PayPal account under my name and then a little creep bought video games with it. I spent the day on the phone with the bank and PayPal and I gotta tell you, I’m a tad cranky. I was impressed how professional PayPal was. I THINK they’ve dealt with this a time or two. What I can’t figure out is how some pimply faced kid (creative license) is smart enough to hack my account but my bank can’t secure it?

I was told by a friend (who was tired of my complaining) to do a gratitude list. There is nothing that can bring about a reality check faster. I had a list of 35 good things in no time. The thing is; we all have our limits, no matter how we choose to look at life. Sometimes you need a good rant and rave ( it was required in my Italian family) before one can let in the good stuff. I’m on a spiritual path, but I have a way to go till Nirvana. That’s o.k., what else would I write about?

My week started looking up (and it’s only Monday) when a friend gave me a brand new sewing machine (still in the box), and I got accepted in a retraining program for working in the bio medical field. I worked in the pharmaceutical industry many moons ago, but things have changed a bit in QA since then. I’m excited to have something to look forward to, other than retail or call centers (ooooh I can add that to the list).  PLEASE don’t make me go back there! I’ve done my time, more than paid my dues, and it’s time to move forward. Maybe I’ll be pro-active and add it to my list.

I set up the sewing  machine and only broke two needles figuring it out. Impressive. I have some ideas for Christmas gifts so this baby came to me just in time. Hmmm, maybe I’d better add that to the list too? Times are economically stressful for many people in America right now, and if they aren’t for you, put it on the top of your gratitude list!  We have to look for the good or the despair can swallow you whole. A simple thing, like a gratitude list, can change how we see the world and reminds me that I have a lot more than any thief can steal from me. Now if I can just get through my mammogram. See? I can think grateful thoughts like “at least it is paid for”, while my boobs are being smashed, but don’t ask me to smile.

I’m excited to be able to sew things with my machine and I love to hand make gifts for the holidays. Nothing fancy, just simple and from the heart. Having a creative outlet is essential for me and very rewarding. My list is getting longer.

As for reading… I’m glad you asked me about that.  J. K. Rowling’s new book is slow reading and it’s a tad boring so far. Hard to believe but haven’t read very much. Mayhew’s Village  Mystery called “Dry Bones” had some cute moments but was pretty predictable. The Colonel would have been better off staying home for this one. I’d like to read the first one and see if it can redeem itself. Time to make a trip to the library, running low on reading materials, and yes, libraries are at the top of my gratitude list.

Simple Pleasures


[Originally posted November 23, 2011]

So many of them…Libraries,turkey,friends, old movies. Speaking of which, tomorrow kicks off my personal movie count down to Christmas. I have a pretty big collection of holiday movies that I start watching on Thanksgiving. I usually watch at least one a day…I can hear my son groaning in Colorado now. He is the lucky one because his sister is here and will be forced to wear ear plugs to avoid the holiday favorites her mom watches every year. It usually starts with “Holiday Inn” strarring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire but not always. I have at least eight versions of “A Christmas Carol” including Mr. Magoo’s (my kids loathe this one the most because it’s a musical and they can’t get the songs out of their heads for days) and the Flintstones. It is my favorite story of all time. I didn’t appreciate it either when I was younger but find the reminder of second (third, fourth etc.) chances comforting. My favorite version of this movie is “A Muppet Christmas Carol” and it is the only one I can get my grown kids to watch with me. I keep telling them some day when I’m gone they will want to watch them but they vehemently deny that will ever happen. 

Most of the movies are oldies because they don’t make good movies anymore. Even Hallmark has gotten cheesier but times change and maybe that’s why I love going back to a simpler time, if there even was such a thing. Most of these movies were made before I was born but capture a spirit that I love, black and white. You had to use your imagination. My kids say they are boring but I say they are classic.

Speaking of classic…I read Nicole Baart’s book “Snow Angel” that was co-written with Glenn Beck. That is one talented writer and she’s ours! How lucky are we?! The story has touches of Sioux Center throughout (it’s a fictional town) so see if you can find them. She is one of the most poigniant writers to come on the horizon. The story reminded me of how lucky I was to have “angels” in the wings to parent me and love me when my own didn’t. 

Don’t forget to grab a wrapped Christmas book on the adult display table. To make it more fun we have mixed some free “gift” books in with the rest so you might really get a surprise. You’ll have to unwrap it before you leave so you can check out the library copies. That starts December first. Book club does the same random process for the book choice and we will meet here Dec. 17 to talk about our favorites. Please limit yourself to one free book. Thanks for making the library such a delightful place to work!  Marsella

Shaking The Tree


[Originally posted November 19, 2011]

I finished “A Lesson Before Dying” by Ernest J Gaines. A profound fictional (I wonder) study of the Cajun South in 1940. A young black man ends up on death row and a teacher is asked by relatives to prepare him to die with dignity.The teacher unhappily has returned to teach in his hometown and wants none of this task. This book captures the rage and racism of that period but also touches on so many other things. Like how heroism can be about not stepping up when everyone else is. This young black teacher is pressured from all sides to deliver messages to the doomed prisoner. Both of them resist and therein lies the story and lessons. I loved the part in the book where the teacher explains to his girlfriend that black men suffer from the rage of never being able to stand up and protect their women and families. It touched me profoundly, that alone has influenced the role of black men for generations and still is today. With their rage they in turn became the abuser.

Another book that is touching me profoundly is by Jonathan Dudley. This book will shake a lot of trees but it got me to see things from a different perspective. There is so much politicizing of issues today that it is hard to know where the truth lies. “Broken Words: The Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics” is a very straight forward  history of the Evangelical movement and how it is influencing political agendas today. I like this book because the author was raised in an Evangelical home, schools and college. He is on his way to become an M.D. and his journey has been tree shaking to say the least. I love scientific minds because they want to know how things work. I remember learning about a hypothesis in fifth grade and being a little dazzled by it’s scope. This book will definitely rattle your tree if you are an unshakable soul but it can also show you where it led one brilliant young man in his faith.

Isn’t it ironic that being open to a higher power sometimes involves tree shaking? Having an open mind takes a lot of faith because I get led to places that are uncomfortable usually. This book is one of those destinations that will change how you view the past. Have a great Thanksgiving full of gratitude and plenty. Marsella

Fun Stuff On The Way For Adults


[Originally posted November 11, 2011]

Boy is my face red. I requested the wrong version of  Ms. Baart’s co-written book “Snow Angel”Also if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, Facebook has just now removed the discussion tab from the library Facebook page so it’s back to clicking on the note tab (or click on the topic title) and it will take you to my adult book blog. Well, I never said I was perfect. In fact I’ve had lots of practice being embarrassed iin my life time and it’s true if you can laugh at yourself you can survive anything.

Lots of fun on the horizon. Starting December first adults can check out Christmas “surprise’s”. We have wrapped assorted books with a Christmas theme. You grab one from the basket and bring it to the circ desk to unwrap and check out. This was a big hit with Adult Book Club last year so we thought we could expand it this year to include all our patrons. If you don’t like the one you choose, just pick another. All of these books are short in duration and just fun or inspiring reads for a very busy time of year. It’s nice to have a fun surprise now and then and be reminded it’s not always about us. Be sure and look for the face of Becky Bilby, our soon to be new director. Say hi and welcome her and wish Dave a great retirement.

In January Adult Book Club will host the first book and movie night of the year. These have been a great hit. We gather after hours and eat popcorn, watch the movie and then discuss the book. January’s selction will be a Jane Austen book that will be chosen at November’s meeting on the 19th.

I am currently reading “A Lesson Before Dying”. This book went missing out of our collection and I discovered a patron had put it on hold over a year ago. Usually books that disappear are often amazing ones that people can’t bear to part with. So after passing this on to our oh-so-patient person I took it when it was returned. It is a delightful perk of working in a library. I LOVE this book and plan to feature it on our Black History Month display in February. Laurey and I have some really cool Gee Bend quilting- history books and plan to attempt a replica of some of their work. I have found some fascinating information about black dolls that are extemely rare that we will display as well as some great new books. Black History Month is not just for kids!

March we will host James Schaap for a book discussion of his short stories. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much fun so I’ll stop here. Send me any questions or suggestions. November’s club meets Sat. @ 10am on the 19th and we will discuss “I Am the Messenger”. It was a great young adult book and will make for a lively discussion. Be there or be square!  Marsella



[Originally posted November 1, 2011]

I was setting up a book display for November and was trying to come up with a theme. I usually know the theme before I set it up but not this time. It is all cook books with yummy comfort foods and lots of pumpkin and squash recipes. I tried numerous combinations but nothing fit. I was getting frustrated  and then it hit me, KISS, keep it simple silly. PLENTY… it sums up the season ahead doesn’t it? Somehow when I am worrying over how little my pay check seems to cover it never occurs to me to acknowledge the bounty all around me. I was driving to work this morning and a corner house had a yard completely covered with the most beautiful golden leaves. It was so pretty and I was grateful for this person not keeping up with the raking. I had an unexpected free oil change with an air filter thrown in from a wonderful group of guys. I found out that I can change a medication that I can no longer afford. There is plenty to be had all around me and I wouldn’t appreciate it as much if I had everything.

I found this wonderful quote in Susan Fox Rogers’ book:

“Tell me what you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”  Mary Oliver

I’d plan to spend it in a library. Wait a minute, I already am!  Read a cute new mystery named “Books Can Be Deceiving” by Jenn McKinlay. It is about a librarian who moves to an small island village. Don’t hear about too many of those jobs in real life. That is why the trip is so enjoyable (and cheap) from one’s couch.

If you haven’t read “I am the Messenger” get a copy, we still have a few. It is wonderful and I look forward to our discussion in November. Stay plenty (sorry) warm.   Marsella

Row, Row, Row Your Boat


[Originally posted October 28, 2011]

Susan Fox did an excellent job in “My Reach” exploring the hidden depths of the Hudson River by kayak. She interwove the story with the loss of her parents within a short time of each other. It was poignant  without being overly sentimental. It was well done and interesting. I loved studying the map of the areas she explored on the inside covers. This woman is daunting in her independence and fearlessly dives, no pun intended, in to whatever challenge she undertakes. I still find it hard to do certain things without the moral support of my friends. Traveling alone doesn’t appeal to me but I do admire her spirit and the sights she’s seen and explored I envy. There are trade off’s. Would you want to travel alone just to see if you could? I didn’t experience camping until I was in my mid twenties and loved it when I didn’t think I would.  I love my comforts too much now but I do know there are only things you can see from experiencing them. 


What experience would you like to challenge yourself with? Hope to see you at movie night!  Marsella

Marsella Is a Scaredy Cat


[Originally posted October 24, 2011]


My kids refuse to watch scarey movies with me ( which pretty much eliminates all creepy movies) because I cover my face and then I beg them to tell me what happened. The ones that I did manage to suffer through were “The Shining”, “The Sentinel” and the one that scarred me forever…”The Exorcist”. I decided that it just wasn’t worth it to torture myself, especially if it was going to cost me money. This Saturday at 7pm is adult movie night featuring “Abbott and Costello. A chubby, hilarious, hapless hero who Dracula wants for a brain transplant. Just my speed! I’ll leave the horror movies to grownups.


I read a new murder mystery over the weekend by Louise Penny. It is the Chief Inspector Gamache series and takes place in Canada near Montreal. It is what one would call a cozy mystery ( what I call happy murder and mayhem) but I would say a little more sophisticated than most. Gamache has class and is a force to be reckoned with. A well loved, retired teacher is found murdered on Thanksgiving morning in a charming rural village south of Montreal. I liked the rookie that is sent to work with the admired Gamache and learns more than she bargained for. I’ll try the next one in this series and see what happens.


I am now engrossed in a non-fiction selection about a professor that decides to travel the Hudson River in a kayak. She intertwines her story with that of her mom who is dying from cancer. That sounds like an odd combination but she does a very good job moving back and forth. She is fearless and rather intimidating so her dialogue about her mom softens her somewhat. The Hudson was well known for pollution decades ago and has gone under a lot of transformation. I’m sure all the pricey real- estate located there didn’t hurt the cause. I’ll get the title to you next time. See you at the movies…Marsella

Marsella’s Travels With Steinbeck


[Originally posted October 18, 2011]

Book club was great last Saturday. “The Historian” was a love-hate book it seems. Most thought it was too long and too detailed with historical data. Others like me ate it up. I heard there will be a sequel and am not surprised with the flat ending on this one. I love extreme reactions to books like this because the discussions are so amazing. Next month’s choice is a young adult selection called “I am the Messenger” which will rock the boat on discussion too. Can hardly wait!

I finally finished “Travels with Charley In Search of America” by John Steinbeck. What a blast from the past. This was written in 1962. Steinbeck equips a hefty truck with a camper and a French Poodle called Charley. He names it Rocinante after Don Quixote’s horse and sets off to reconnect with America at the age of 58. I read this book in the seventies when I was a teen and don’t remember it being that remarkable. Mostly because it was about life happening at that time…boring to a teen. But now! Whew, the memories it stirred up. I was surprised at how old he sounded when referring to himself and his career.Almost in his dotage, which I can’t relate to (at almost) the same age. He had packed in a whole lot of living by then. He is almost like a journalist looking for a story, he keeps to the smaller country roads and avoids the freeways unless forced, looking for the soul of America. He was well stocked with spirits which he generously shared around his campfire. It brought me back to the free and easy consumption of alcohol of that time before Mother’s Against Drunk Driver’s (MADD) came on the scene.

Charley is his devoted Standard Poodle that provides a certain mushiness to Mr. Steinbeck’s crustiness. You can’t resist him. The scene with the bears in Yellowstone is not to be missed nor his master playing doctor to the ailing pet. The first thirds of the book meanders and the last third walloped me. He visits the south and witnesses a young black girls introduction to desegregation. It was chilling to see where we have come from and still visit much too often. The ending finds him in his old neighborhood, Salinas and Monterey. This man knew the territory of his past but found it hard to reconcile with the present. From canneries reaking of fish and the waste washing up on beaches of decades past to the ultra rich and shopping meccas Monterey and Carmel have become. Hard to imagine them as sleepy little villages full of colorful characters. But gratefully Steinbeck immortalized them forever in “East of Eden”, “Cannery Row” and “Tortilla Flats”. It was time well spent getting inside Mr. Steinbecks head for the journey. When you want to take a drive check out “Travels with Charley” Happy Reading! Marsella