Genre Feature: Long-running Series

YA series are usually clearly numbered on the spines – just look at the Harry Potter or Diary of a Wimpy Kid series–but adult book series are rarely so clearly numbered. Here are a couple of the most popular adult book series currently camouflaged around our library shelves.

Lee Child‘s Jack Reacher Series


After leaving the US Army as a major in its military police at age 36, Reacher roams the United States taking odd jobs and investigating suspicious and frequently dangerous situations.

Each book in the series is a self-contained story, and the plot of each book relies very little on the prior books in the series.




Jacqueline Winspear‘s Maisie Dobbs Series



In 1929 London, former servant Maisie Dobbs starts her own business as a psychologist and investigator in this unique and gripping historical mystery series.


Best to read these in order. Don’t worry – we have them all.



Louise Penny‘s Chief Inspector Gamache Series


Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec digs beneath the idyllic surface of village life in Three Pines, finding long buried secrets–and facing a few of his own ghosts.

These whodunnits are perfectly fine as stand alones, if you don’t want to read the whole series. Heads up, though, that many of our regular library patrons are absolutely addicted to this series.




Laurie R. King‘s Marry Russell and Sherlock Holmes Series


It is 1915, and Holmes is retired and quietly engaged in the study of honeybees, when he meets fifteen-year-old Mary Russell—gawky, egotistical, and recently orphaned, with an intellect to impress even Sherlock Holmes. Under his reluctant tutelage, 20th century Miss Russell proves a deft protégée and a fitting partner for the Victorian detective.

These can be read out of order, but do build on each other so are better in order.



Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire Series


Sheriff Walt Longmire deals with the murders and mysteries that crop up in Wyoming’s Absaroka County.

This series is now also a TV show available on Netflix.





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Librarians Recommend: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Katie recommends The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman


A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

This lovely exploration of childhood through the eyes of an adult has an almost surreal tone, like a long remembered dream. Gaiman’s beautiful prose, perfected over longer novels like American Gods and Anansi Boys, presents this short, tight narrative so fluidly that you might not notice how quickly everything reads until it’s done. Lettie’s family is just the right kind of unusual to make you question whether this book is really fantasy, and the narrator’s reactions to the Hempstock family’s care is just the sweetest.

A recommendation for anyone who enjoys British literature, modern-ish depictions of witches, or literary explorations of what it means to be a child.

Did I mention that Gaiman is very, very talented at reading his own books?

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Reading Challenges for 2018

Welcome to the New Year! ‘Tis the season to set your New Years’ Resolutions. Why not make one of them about books? The internet is full of Reading Challenges, from simple to insanely complex, all aiming to motivate people to read more throughout the year. Here are some of the most unusual and interesting challenges currently floating around the interwebs:

PopSugar’s 2018 Challenge gives a checklist of random prompts that can apply to many genres such as “a book by two authors” or “Nordic noir,” encouraging readers to check off as many books as they can.

The Cozy Mystery Challenge is, of course, focused around mystery books, providing prompts for different sub-genres (such as “animal related,” “paranormal,” and “historical”) that readers are encouraged to include.

Roll-Your-Own-Reading Challenge: is a huge database of speculative fiction (fantasy, sci fi, horror, etc) reading challenges based on anything from award winning books to free choice to reading through an author’s entire body of work.

Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge: Read one book for each letter of the Alphabet (the word that starts with the challenge letter can be anywhere in the title).

Diverse Reading Challenge: Set yourself a number of diverse (i.e. non white male authored) titles to read and use some of the resources here to read outside of your comfort zone.

Goodreads Annual Reading Challenge: If you make yourself a Goodreads account, you can set yourself a number of books you want to read by the end of the year. The website helps you track what you’ve read for the year and even gives you a lovely summary of what you read at the end of each year.

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A sample of part of the yearly Goodreads summary.


None of these tickles your fancy? There are even more challenges available on Pinterest or Tumblr. Or, better yet, you could craft your own. Consider teaming up with a friend and making prompts for each other, or even just creating a list of prompts you want to use to motivate yourself to read more. There’s no such thing as a bad Reading Challenge.

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Offbeat Book Blogs

Not all book blogs are created equal. Some of them are just cooler than others. Or quirker than others. Or just plain fun.

Below are six unusual internet places that celebrate books.

DEATH ON THE NILE by Agatha Christie.

3-Panel Book Reviews – a reviewer who sums her reading experience up perfectly in a three panel comic per book

AYearofReadingtheWorld – a blog from one of the worldliest readers ever, reviewing English translations of books that were written all over the world. Check out the list here.


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Thug Notes – Explore LITERATURE with yo’ boy Sparky Sweets, PhD. It’s classic literature, original gangster. Always wanted to get into classic literary theory, but find regular English classes too boring? Try Sparky Sweets.

Heads up though, in true “thug” style, these videos use some strong language.

Go Book Yourself – a collection of book recommendations based on the principle of “if you like this book, you’ll like these other ones too.”

The Spaghetti Book Club - Book Reviews by Kids for Kids

Spaghetti Book Club – a collection of book reviews written and illustrated by kids, for kids. These are really, really cute.

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Pemberley Digital –  a web video production company that adapts classic works (like Frankenstein, Emma, and Pride and Prejudice) onto new media formats. Their scripted YouTube videos are fun adaptations in their own right, but are even more fascinating to trace across Tumblr, Pinterest, and other cross-platform tie-ins.



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Library Surveys!

If you’ve been by the library over the past couple of weeks you may noticed the survey we’re conducting. Paper copies of those surveys will be available through the rest of the year. You’re welcome to take them home and slip completed responses through the book drop at any time.

If you’d prefer a digital version, you can find it here.

Thank you to all who have and will complete our survey! Your feedback means a lot to us.

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Book Reviews: Lucky Strikes

Lucky Strikes by Louis Bayard
Reviewed by Melanie Cote


This Young Adult novel opens with the line, “Mama died hard, you should know that.” We hear the gritty voice of Melia, the oldest daughter who, at fourteen, is now tasked with keeping her younger brother and sister together. They have no other family, and they do not want to be separated in foster care. The children have a deep loyalty to one another. They each use their unique gifts to better their family as a whole.

Melia has many monumental tasks before her in this Depression era novel. To keep herself and her siblings out of foster care, she schemes up a plan involving a hobo pretending to be her father who has miraculously returned. Melia is also charged with keeping the family business, a gas station, out of the evil clutches of the local gas franchise owner. In addition to this, she works to put food on the table and keep her siblings in school.

The reader is rooting for Melia to succeed despite the odds she faces. This story delves into the realities of poverty, gender and power. The imbalance and ugliness of power over another comes to a climax in an intense scene near the book’s end.

Lucky Strikes show us the guts and grit that can be necessary to make it through life’s challenges. This 2018 DCF book is also available at our library.

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Genre Feature: Books in Translation

Did you know that not all the books in our library were originally written in English?

In Western cultures, translated works are often advertised as though originally written in English, ignoring translators’ incredibly detailed and devoted work.

So in the name of those forgotten authors, here are several works available at the Russell Memorial Library that have been translated into English.

The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa translated from Japanese by Stephen Snyder
He is a brilliant math Professor with a peculiar problem–ever since a traumatic head injury, he has lived with only eighty minutes of short-term memory.

She is an astute young Housekeeper, with a ten-year-old son, who is hired to care for him.

And every morning, as the Professor and the Housekeeper are introduced to each other anew, a strange and beautiful relationship blossoms between them.

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