Beyond Dog Man

As Youth Services Librarian, I am often asked for reading recommendations. The Dog Man series by Dav Pilkey has been a long-time favorite in our community, and many kids have read and re-read the series several times! I have created a list of book ideas for young readers who are ready to move beyond these books to something more challenging. For readers interested in branching out from graphic novels, this list includes both graphic novels and books in “regular” format. Click on the links below to view these titles in our catalog. 

Graphic Novels- 

Bird and SquirrelIn the first of this early graphic novel seriestwo best friends must outwit Cat or be eaten! Kids will love the hilarious, full-color scenes from Bird and Squirrel’s road trip south for the winter, doing their best to avoid Cat waiting around every turn. UP Library has all six books in the series. 

Press StartThis Scholastic Branches series blends graphic novel images and short paragraphs. Beginner chapter readers will follow super brave and super fast Super Rabbit Boy, a character living inside of a video game. His goal of rescuing Singing Dog from the Meanie King Viking can only be accomplished with the help of Sunny, the boy playing the game. These fast-paced, full-color books emphasize teamwork and positive attitude with just the right amount of tension (what will happen to Super Rabbit Boy and his friends if Sunny loses each level?) You can find all 10 books from this series in our collection.  

HiLoThis series of longer graphic novels tells the story of D.J. and Gina, two regular kids who meet a new kid named Hilo. Hilo isn’t a regular kid, though…he has just fallen out of the sky and doesn’t know what he’s doing on Earth. Can D.J. and Gina help Hilo figure out his past, and more importantly, can Hilo survive another day of school on Earth? This hilarious series has many strengths, from its positive picture of friendship to its diverse characters. The newest book, the seventh one in the series, features Gina as the main character and is available from the library. 

Pea Bee and JayThis graphic novel with just a few chapters is on the Texas Library Association’s 2021 Little Mavericks reading list, a selection of the best graphic novels published each year for young children through teens. Pea wanders away from the farm and runs right into two unexpected friends, Bee the bee and Jay the bird. Can Bee and Jay help Pea find his way back home? There are two books in the series so far, with another on the way, each one emphasizing friendship and working together to accomplish a goal. 

Science ComicsAn educational graphic novel series? Yes! Readers intimidated by long nonfiction books filled with pages of text will dive right into these books and their full-color imagesUP Library is adding books from this series all the time. Right now, the ones we own cover a range of topics, from volcanoes to robots. If you are looking for other nonfiction graphic novels, try Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales (focused on history). 


“Regular” books- 

My Father’s DragonThis book, the first in a trilogy of classic chapter books for beginner readers, follows Elmer Elevator (the narrator’s father) when he was a boy. In what feels like a true story written long ago, readers follow Elmer as he teams up with an old cat and exotic animals to rescue a baby dragon from Wild Island. Written in 1948 and a Newbery Honor winner, this book has black and white illustrations sprinkled throughout. With its funny details and child-like logic (Elmer packs little more than gum and lollipops for his long journey), this would also make a great family read-aloud. Elmer’s adventures continue in Elmer and the Dragon and The Dragons of Blueland, which are available from the library as well. 

Zoey and SassafrasThe library owns two copies of all seven books in this popular series for beginner readers. Zoey is a curious and intelligent girl fascinated by science. Kids will love following along with Zoey and her sidekick cat, Sassafras, as they explore the world around them using their “thinking goggles”This a great series for encouraging creativity, problem solving, and building vocabulary (a glossary is included in the back of each book). 

Max and the MidknightsFrom the author of the Big Nate series, this series is geared toward fourth through sixth graders and emphasizes kindness and braveryMax wants to be a knight but his dream just seems too unlikely…until his uncle Budrick is kidnapped by a cruel king and Max has to take action! Together with his group of fellow adventurers, the Midknights, Max sets out on a quest to rescue his uncle and restore happiness to ByjoviaThis fast-paced and hilarious book is a blend of traditional novel and graphic novel, with comic-like illustrations sprinkled throughout. There are two books in the series so far, and UP Library owns both. 

Alvin HoIn this series geared toward second through fourth graders, Chinese-American second grader Alvin Ho is afraid of many things, including talking at school. Follow along with Alvin’s daily adventures at homewhere he is a bold superhero named Firecracker Man, and at school (where is he a wallflower). This hilarious book touches on anxiety in a kid-friendly way and readers will cheer Alvin on as he embraces the outside world. Illustrations are dispersed throughout the text, making this a good choice for reluctant readers and kids graduating to longer books. 

Shel Silverstein poetryA long-time favorite of children all over the world (and their parents), Silverstein’s poetry makes for fun reading, aloud or alone. His quirky, imaginative, and memorable writing will appeal to fans of Pilkey’s humor, and the funny illustrations are an added bonus. The library owns several different volumes of his poetryincluding A Light in the AtticEverything on It, and The Missing Piece. 



New Spring Titles

Happy Spring!  We’ve got many new titles on our shelves for you to enjoy while soaking in some sunshine.  New titles by some of your favorite authors include the newest by Clive Cussler, Fast Ice; Steve Berry’s latest installment to the Cotton Malone series, The Kaiser’s Web, and Win by Harlan Coben.  This story features, an heiress, an abduction, and a stolen painting that shows up years after its theft.  Stephen King’s latest novel, Later, involves a young boy with special but frightening ability.

Other popular authors with new books out this month include Sara Paretsky, Lisa Scottoline, and Ursula Hegi.  Love & Other Crimes by Sara Paretsky offers a collection of short mystery and detective stories featuring her recurring character, V.I. Warshawski.  Eternal by Lisa Scottoline is her first historical novel, and it is of epic proportion; it is set in Rome on the eve of World War II and continues a story of love and friendship for decades.  Ursula Hegi is back with her first novel in many years, The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls.  This is also historical fiction, set in the late 1800s in Germany.  The story of three women and the children and men they love, the prose is as haunting and emotional as Stones from the River.

Alex Finlay’s crime thriller, Every Last Fear, illustrates all of the fears that parents and families feel when tragedy happens.  It will keep readers on their toes – it is a page-turner and told from multiple points of view, so readers need to pay close attention when the voice changes.  This book has been hailed by several sources as one of the best or most anticipated books of 2021, and it is well worth the read.  This is Finlay’s debut novel.  Another debut that we’ve recently received include The Downstairs Neighbor by Helen Cooper, a thriller centered around the disappearance of a teenage girl in London and the effects that secrets and lies can have on a family.  The Memory Collectors by Kim Neville is in my favorite genre, magical realism.  Set in Vancouver, this story is about two women with a special power that takes its toll on not only them, but the people around them.  Reese Witherspoon’s latest Hello Sunshine pick is Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse.  It’s the story of a former-sanatorium-turned hotel in the Swiss Alps that’s edgy, suspenseful and a page turner.

Lastly, another debut title, and my favorite new book of the Spring, is Who Is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews.  This psychological thriller involves several fascinating elements: a novelist’s secret identity, a woman’s chance to reinvent her identity and an exotic setting.  The author’s imagery of Marrakesh is so rich that I had to go eat at a Mediterranean restaurant after reading it!  This book is one of GoodRead’s Most Anticipated Books of 2021, which is a well-deserved accolade.

Some of our new nonfiction titles this month cover people or topics in history you might not have been familiar with but will be interested in.  The Eagles of Heart Mountain: A True Story of Football, Incarceration, and Resistance in World War II by Bradford Pearson is a heart-warming story of resilience.  In 1943, the football team from the high school in a Japanese-American concentration camp located in Wyoming finished their first season undefeated.  Readers who enjoyed Boys in the Boat will love this book.  Pearson is a former journalist and editor, and his research skills and journalistic style combine to make this a fascinating, very readable insight into this part of United States history.

The Princess Spy: The True Story of world War II Spy Aline Griffith, Countess of Ramanones by Larry Loftis will leave readers wanting to research all of the unlikely spies used by the United States during World War II.  Aline Griffith was an American college graduate and former fashion model before joining the Office of Strategic Services and being assigned to Spain.  While infiltrating the upper echelons of European society and royalty, she marries the Count of Ramonones.  She continues her espionage work, but not without a few near-miss experiences and adventures.  This book is perfect for those who enjoyed The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott and Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon.

If you’re having trouble wrapping your brain around all of these great books and deciding what to read next, I suggest A Thousand Brains: A New Theory of Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins.  Hawkins is a neuroscientist and computer engineer who has developed a new theory about how our brain cells create intelligence.  Be smart and read this one!

Many New Hoopla Items

Have you used our newest digital service, Hoopla yet?  I hope you’re using it not only for movies and television shows, but for audiobooks and ebooks as well.  There are so many great titles available with no wait period:  Faithless in Death, number 52 of the “In Death” series by J.D. Robb, is available on audio; The Alice Network by Kate Quinn is available in both audio and ebook, as is The Huntress, also by Kate Quinn; Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology is also ready for you to check out and listen to; and if you need some dysfunctional Southern family humor to brighten your day, listen to Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson.  I laughed out loud several times while listening to it myself!  Hoopla has several ebook titles by Elena Farrante, the Italian writer of the Neapolitan Quartet:  The Lost Daughter, My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, The Days of Abandonment, and The Lying Life of Adults. 

There have been some fascinating movies, television shows, and documentaries on Hoopla lately.  I recently watched Promised, a movie about a modern-day arranged marriage.  It was sweet, romantic, poignant and uplifting all at the same time!  If you like to scare yourself with movies, there are a few choices available:  The Shadowman, which is as scary as it sounds; if you like film noir, then check out Across the Hall, a sophisticated, clever thriller; and if you like BBC television, you can binge-watch all three parts of Archangel, a murder thriller starring Daniel Craig.  The Great Alaskan Race is a good family-friendly pick; its about a group of mushers who travel over 700 miles to save children from an epidemic.  It’s a fascinating up-close view of mushing through Alaska.  To follow up that movie, watch the National Geographic documentary, Extreme Alaska: Denali National Park.

Hoopla also provides themed, curated lists of all available formats, and this month’s theme is Women’s History Month.  Included in the collection are books for adults and children, such as Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore and a graphic novel, Marie Curie: The Radium Fairy by Montellier.  Women’s History Month movies include Dolly Parton: Queen of Country and RBG, the documentary of Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s life.

If you’re in the mood for something Irish, there are books, audiobooks, music, and movies available in the Irish Heritage collection.  You can listen to traditional Irish music with the album Shoe the Donkey by Francie McPeake, Love Songs of Ireland by Mary O’Hara, and quite a few others.  The music collection even includes Celtic Woman 3: Ireland!  Several of Frank McCourt’s books are included in both ebook and audio format, and you can watch the series 1916: The Irish Rebellion featuring Liam Neeson.  I recommend the very romantic and haunting movie Ondine starring Colin Farrell.

For National Craft Month, Hoopla has curated a list of ebooks to help learn new crafts, including knitting, drying flowers, soapmaking, and beer brewing.  There’s even a book about Cricut crafts, which offers tips for all of the Cricut machines.

Please try Hoopla out!


New Titles on Our Shelf and on Hoopla!

Now that the rush of the Holidays are over, and we’re settling down into the winter for a bit longer, I hope you’re getting cozy reading some great books from our library!  We have some new titles by high-demand authors that have just come in: Neighbors by Danielle Steel; All the Colors of Night by Jane Ann Krentz; Truly, Madly, Deeply by Karen Kingsbury; Hush-Hush by Stuart Woods; Prodigal Son by Gregg Hurwitz; Out of Hounds by Rita Mae Brown; Under the Alaskan Ice by Karen Harper; The Children’s Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin; Sharpe’s Trafalgar by Bernard Cornwell; The Russian by James Patterson (another Michael Bennett story); The Scorpion’s Tail by Preston & Child; Spin by Patricia Cornwell, which is part of her Captain Chase series; American Traitor by Brad Taylor; Before She Disappeared  by Lisa Gardner; and Till Murder Do Us Part: True-Crime Thrillers by James Patterson.  Make your requests now and get on the list for your favorites!

New nonfiction titles include some biographies, history, economics, health, and organizing your home – what a wide spectrum!  Bezonomics: How Amazon is Changing Our Lives and What the World’s Best Companies Are Learning From It by Brian Dumain offers a highly readable and behind-the-scenes glimpse of how Jeff Bezos built the Amazon empire.

Some of our new biographies include Me and Sister Bobbie: True Tales of the Family Band by Willie and Bobbie Nelson offers insight how music helped heal some of the pain of their childhood in East Texas.  Walking with Ghosts: A Memoir by Gabriel Byrne is heartfelt, funny and at times poignant.  Not only does Byrne write about his childhood and his rise to stardom; he also shares the Ireland of his childhood.  Michael J. Fox writes about friendships and family while dealing with illness in No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality.  The Last Queen: Elizabeth II’s 70-Year Battle to Save the House of Windsor by Clive Irving showcases the royal family and how they’ve evolved with the ever-changing world around them.   The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jr. by Peniel E. Joseph is a dual biography that reveals the two men’s relationship and how it affected their movements.  This is a three-for-one: readers will get a look at both men’s lives, as well as the history of their time and era they worked in. 

History titles include The Crooked Path to Abolition Abraham Lincoln and the Antislavery Constitution by James Oakes.  This book offers a look not only at Lincoln and the abolition of slavery, but also offers a deep explanation of States’ Rights and how the Constitution addressed both sides.  Lynn Cheney, wife of the former Vice President, writes about our earliest founding fathers and their work in hammering out the government of the United States in The Virginia Dynasty: Four Presidents and the Creation of the American Nation.  Veteran and prolific history writer Jon Meacham explains Thomas Jefferson’s deepest intentions of the Constitution in In the Hands of the People: Thomas Jefferson on Equality, Faith, Freedom, Compromise, and the Art of Citizenship. Meacham has collected some of the most inspiring words written about the document, including some by Jefferson himself.

We have so many new books in, that I’m going to end by showcasing a few of my recent favorites.

Leave Only Footprints: My Acadia-to-Zion Journey Through Every National Park by Conor Knighton is a beautiful look behind the author’s epic journey to visit every National Park in one year.  The writing is wonderful and insightful, and this book could be a travel guide for your own such journey.  Knighton offers tidbits of information about the parks and will inspire readers to take their own journey to these majestic parks.

When I picked up A Saint From Texas by Edmund White, I’ll admit that my curiosity was piqued by the title and didn’t know what to expect.  This story takes two sisters from a hardscrabble existence in 1950s Texas to South America, Paris, and right here in Dallas.  Not just a story of twin sisters’ love for each other, but it also tells a story of just how deeply past experiences define our futures.

Every few years a book comes along with such quirky characters and story line that I just can’t help but want to cheer the characters along and celebrate their victories right along with them.  Bear Necessity by James Gould-Bourn is that book this year.  It’s a special story about a single father with a special needs son who goes to great lengths to protect and nurture him.  This book will be a favorite of readers who loved Graeme Simsion’s Rosie trilogy.

Like I said earlier, we have so many new books that I can’t mention them all!  But I do want to remind you all of our great new streaming product, Hoopla, which features not only movies and television shows, but ebooks and audiobooks.  Some very current, high-demand books are available with no wait time right now:  The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley, The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins, Virgin River by Robyn Carr, The Awakening, Nora Roberts’ newest title, almost all of the Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn, News of the World by Paulette Jiles, The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman, Gabriel Byrne’s new memoir that I’ve mentioned already in this blog, and The Water Keeper  by Charles Finch.

New Nonfiction and Fiction Titles

I hope you’re all having a very Happy Holiday Season and are finding time to relax and read!  Our latest boxes of new books contained some very interesting nonfiction, about many fascinating people or events.

To go along with our family history theme that I’ve been doing on our “Tea Talk with a Librarian” series, we have Questions to Ask Your Parents Before Its Too Late by Shannon L. Alder.  This book was originally written to guide readers in getting to know their parents better, but it will help family historians know what questions to ask about their parents’ childhoods, family traditions, and views on spirituality.  The book contains over 300 questions to ask your parents or older relatives.

Combine a love of travel with an interest in American history with two new travel guides — America’s National Historic Trails: Walking the Trails of History by Karen Berger and Oregon Trail Road Trip: Historic Sites, Small Towns, and Scenic Landscapes Along the Legendary Westward Route by Katrina Emery.  The first book is a large, gorgeous coffee table-type book that inspires readers to visit lands covered by the Pony Express and early explorers. Oregon Trail Road Trip is a more practical size that can be taken along on any trip.  It features 20-day road trip plan that starts in Independence Missouri and culminates in Oregon City.

Seventies music lovers will enjoy Do You Feel Like I Do?: A Memoir by Peter Frampton, which covers his early years with several mega-groups all the way to the twilight of his career.  This memoir offers an inside look into the British music scene of the 1970s.  Additional titles about music and musicians include The Last Days of John Lennon by James Patterson (yes, that James Patterson!) and Me and Patsy: Kickin’ Up Dust by Loretta Lynn.  Loretta Lynn tells the story behind her short, but very special friendship with Patsy Cline.

Some other new biographies and memoirs include Ree Drummond’s candid look at her life in rural northern Oklahoma: Frontier Follies: Adventures in Marriage and Motherhood in the Middle of Nowhere, and Meghan and Harry: The Real Story by Lady Colin Campbell, the royal insider who loves to tell all in her books.  Many will remember her books about other British royals, including Princess Diana.

Some very timely titles include Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May, American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic by Andrew Cuomo, and Don’t Be a Victim: Fighting Back Against America’s Crime Wave by Nancy Grace, who has been a victim of crime herself.

New books about history span from the Vikings to the American Frontier in the 1840s to the Space Age.  In Children of Ash and Elm: A History of the Vikings, archaeologist and lecturer Neil Price offers a very comprehensive look into the history and legacy of this very influential culture.  The King of Confidence: A Tale of Utopian Dreamers, Frontier Schemers, True Believers, False Prophets, and the Murder of an American Monarch by Miles Harvey is a very readable and engaging look at the American frontier in the 1840s and 50s, as told through the story of the Mormons’ move westward and a splinter group in Michigan.  Finally, Shuttle, Houston: My Life in the Center Seat of Mission Control by Paul Dye take a deep look into NASA during the most prolific years of space exploration.  Paul Dye is the former and longest-serving  Flight Director of NASA, so this book truly does offer an inside look.

On the fiction front, we have some new books by some popular authors: Hidden in Plain Sight by Jeffrey Archer, Daylight by David Baldacci, and Dark Tides by Philippa Gregory and The Searchers by Tana French.  Joyce Carol Oates’ newest title is Cardiff, By the Sea: Four Novellas Suspense. Science fiction author Ernest Cline follows up Ready Player One with Ready Player Two.

Libraries center in two new fiction titles:  Midnight Library by Matt Haig, and The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis.  Midnight Library is a delightful fantasy tale about a library containing an infinite number of books that tell the alternate stories of people’s lives, the one they would have lived if they had made different choices. Fiona Davis offers readers a view of another New York City landmark in The Lions of Fifth Avenue.  As in her previous titles, Davis writes about the plight of women making hard choices in life and fighting past the stereotypes they are often forced into.

Marie Benedict writes about another strong, interesting woman – author Agatha Christie – in The Mystery of Mrs. Christie.  Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days in 1926, a mystery that is still unsolved today.  In Perestroika in Paris, Jane Smiley writes about a horse, a boy, a dog, a raven and two ducks.  All of these characters spend a cold winter in Paris having all sorts of adventures.

Travel seems to be a theme in this post! The Garden of Promises and Lies by Paula Brackston is the second in her time-traveling series.  Paris Is Always a Good Idea by Jenn McKinlay takes readers on a journey through Ireland, France, and Italy.  Miss Benson’s Beetles by Rachel Joyce is a heart-warming and charming story of travel, the power of friendship, and the fulfillment of pursing a dream.  Miss Benson’s Beetles has the same charm and affirmation as The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. 

We have many other new titles on the shelf, so come see them! We’re open Tuesday through Thursday from 10am to 6pm, and on Fridays and Saturdays from 10am to 5pm.  Don’t forget that you can sign up to receive notices when I’ve posted something new.  You can do that at the bottom of this page.

Happy Reading!

Hoopla – Our New Service

Hello!  We are getting a lot of new books in this week, and my next post in a few days will be all about those.

I wanted to use this forum to make sure you all know about our new digital service, Hoopla.  Hoopla is a streaming service not only for movies, television shows, and music; but there is also a healthy amount of ebooks and audiobooks available.  All items are available instantly, so there’s no wait time for any title on Hoopla!

 The audiobook selection contains quite a few Holiday books, including A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, the children’s classic story by Barbara Robinson.  There are Holiday titles by David Baldacci (The Christmas Train), Susan Mallery, and Melody Carlson.  There are also some classic titles, such as most of Jane Austen’s novels, several by Charles Dickens, and The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. For mystery and thriller lovers, there are titles by Sara Paretsky, Lisa Jewell, Greg Iles, and James Grippando.

The ebook selection is just as wide, with titles by Robin Carr, Mary Kay Andrews, Kate Quinn, J. A. Jance, and Daniel Silva.  There are even curated collections that are showcased in each format’s landing page.  This month features Historical Fiction about women, Fashion Fiction, Holiday Classics, and Book Club selections.  If you’re watching and enjoying The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix, then you can read the book on Hoopla by Walter Tevis.

The movies and television series are an eclectic mix that includes classics, fairly recent releases, international films, and children’s animated movies.  The Holiday offerings are really good.  I watched a really endearing movie over the weekend, Journey to the Christmas Star. It is based on a Norwegian folk tale, and the film was produced there.  It is originally in Norwegian with English dubbed over, but it’s done well, so it’s not hard to follow.  It involves a kingdom, several fun characters including some really cute elves, and a long-lost princess.  I highly recommend it for the whole family.  Hoopla does offer several of the romance movies set around the Holidays, but there are some classics as well.  These include the 1959 version of Miracle on 34th Street, the 1935 version of A Christmas Carol, and one of my favorites, Beyond Christmas.    For the whole family, there are several animated Holiday titles to choose from.

To use Hoopla, download the free app (found in either the Google Play Store or the iTunes store). On your computer, tablet or smart phone.   Log in with your library card number and PIN and create an account with your email and a password of your choosing.  Library staff can offer assistance with this service.

Hot Titles by High-Demand Authors

Late October and early November are traditionally busy times in the U.S. publishing market, especially for titles by high-demand authors.  We have several new books from new authors and some of your favorites. Look at the bottom of the post for a list.

We’ve got several new books in, and if espionage is an interest of yours, we have three exciting titles that you will like.  Agent Sonya: Moscow’s Most Daring Wartime Spy by journalist Ben Mcintyre, is the true story of Ursula Burton, an undercover high-ranking Soviet intelligence officer who lived a quiet life in a village in the Cotswolds with her husband and children.  All the while she was hunted by intelligence organizations of all the major powers in the world.  This is a riveting but insightful book.  If you liked The Unexpected Spy by Tracy Walder, you will like this book as well.  The Quiet Americans: Four CIA Agents at the Dawn of the Cold War by Scott Anderson exposes the story of the CIA’s original four spies, a mish-mash of unlikely men who set the path of American espionage. In The Spymasters: How the CIA Directors Shape History and the Future by Chris Whipple decodes the history of the growth of power of this agency and offers behind-the-scenes glimpse through interviews with many who have seen the CIA in action first-hand.

If you like Southern literature or reading about the South, then we have some new titles for you to enjoy!  Columnist Rick Bragg has compiled the best of his columns from Southern Living and Guns and Gardens magazines in Where I Come From: Stories from the Deep South.  These columns cover all things southern, from why Southern men should always carry a knife to the best way to kill fire ants with humor and wit.  Fannie Flagg takes us, and many of our favorite characters, back to the Whistle Stop Café in The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop.  This book is filled with southern humor and is as heart-warming as her other novels have been.  She Come By It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs by Sarah Smarsh tells the story of a quieter feminism that cultural icon Dolly Parton exuded.  This is not really a read just about the South, rather one that pays tribute to hard-working, overlooked women all over the United States.

There are so many new books out by high-demand authors, that I’m just going to list them here by author and title:

V.C.Andrews                      Whispering Hearts

Ace Atkins                           Robert B. Parker’s Someone to Watch Over Me

Robyn Carr                          Return to Virgin River

Lee Child                              The Sentinel

John Connolly                    The Dirty South, Volume 18

Clive Cussler                       Marauder

Janet Daily                           Paradise Peak

Janet Evanovich                Fortune and Glory, Volume 27

Jasper Fforde                     The Constant Rabbit

Heather Graham              Deadly Touch

Heather Graham              Dreaming Death

John Grisham                     Time for Mercy

Lisa Jewell                           Invisible Girl

Craig Johnson                    Next to Last Stand: A Longmire Mystery

Sophie Kinsella                  Love Your Life

Mike Lupica                        Robert B. Parker’s Fool’s Paradise

James Patterson               The Coast to Coast Murders

James Patterson               Three Women Disappear

Louise Penny                     All the Devils are Here

Jodi Picoult                         The Book of Two Ways

Marilynne Robinson        Jack

Jess Walter                         The Cold Millions

Stuart Woods                    The Shakeup

You can come by the library to browse through them in our new books section, or you can place a hold on any of them either through our app or at our catalog here:

Halloween Reads from Classic American Authors

Happy Hallowreading!  One of our library customers asked me if I read things seasonally or certain things during the different seasons, but the only answer I could come up with is for Halloween.   Having a background in American History and Literature, a few American classic writers come to mind.

My personal tradition is to read Edgar Allan Poe short stories a few nights before and on Halloween.  They’re beautifully and lyrically written and some of them are spine-tingling scary.  I suggest The Tale-Tell Heart and The Cask of Amontillado, both available in some anthologies we have here at the library and on numerous places online.  For lovers of suspense, The Pit and the Pendulum is a great choice.  The reader feels the despair and the pain of  the prisoner.  These stories all lead up to a scary, horrible climax with grace and great prose.

Another classic American writer whose works are fun to read this time of year is Nathanial Hawthorne.  Young Goodman Brown is set on Halloween night in chilly New England.  The story has the classic plot of good versus evil, but it is fun to try to figure out the symbolism throughout the story.  It’s a perfect Halloween read!  Other Hawthorne stories that are frightening include Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment and Rappacini’s Daughter.  We actually have the film version of these two stories on DVD, starring Vincent Price and a very young Beverly Garland.  The House of Seven Gables, also by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is a creepy story about family turmoil, struggle, and a murder.  We have this book in electronic format and on DVD, also starring Vincent Price.

And lastly, we have Washington Irving’s Tales of the Supernatural, an anthology that includes several spooky stories involving ghosts, the Devil himself, and pirate treasure.  What a combination!  Tales of the Supernatural includes The Spectre Bridegroom, The Devil and Tom Walker, and The Legend of the Enchanted Soldier.  It also includes the all-time classic Halloween story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. 

 Many of these stories are now in the public domain, so you can find them online in full text.  You can find many of them in the Guttenberg Project collection online here:  Type in the name of the story or author you are looking for in the search bar.  We also have anthologies, in print and in electronic format, containing some of these stories, in the library.  If you need help finding them on the Libby app, please give us a call at 214-363-9095 or email me at

I will also be talking about some more contemporary Halloween Reading on Wednesday, October 21st at 2pm on Facebook live.  I hope you join me there!

Mindfulness for Kids

Returning to school can be a stressful experience for kids, especially while wearing a mask and worrying about Covid-19. Mindfulness, a practice centered on self-awareness and focusing on the present moment, has been scientifically proven to improve kids’ ability to respond to stressors. By identifying and accepting their thoughts and emotions, children increase their well-being and gain the tools they need to deal with difficult situations. These resources, available from UP Library, help to teach kids mindfulness in a variety of ways.

Breathe Like a Bear: 30 Mindful Moments for Kids to Feel Calm and Focused Anywhere, Anytime (DVD) 

A collection of 30 exercises that teach children how to regulate their emotions through breathing and mindfulness. Children can learn to control their emotions and body as they practice these exercises in the car, on the soccer field, or before a test at school. Short and easy to memorize, these methods can also help families develop their own mindfulness practices at home. 

Meditation is an Open Sky: Mindfulness for Kids by Whitney Stewart 

If you would like to practice mindfulness using a book rather than a DVD, this book helps children grow in awareness of their thoughts and emotions. An elephant and monkey serve as meditation guides and the gentle illustrations lead kids through nine different mindfulness exercises for gaining focus, relaxation, and clarity. Included is a list of frequently asked questions about meditation, and the encouragement that each person moves through these exercises differently and at their own pace. 

Breathing Makes It Better: A Book for Sad Days, Mad Days, Glad Days, and All the Days In-Between by Christopher Willard 

Colorful illustrations and simple language take kids through the different feelings they may experience each day, and teaches them to apply mindfulness in each situation. Families might read the book from start to finish, or may choose to work through a relevant emotion as needed. Tips for parents are also included at the end for leading children through additional mindfulness practices. 

My Magic Breath by Nick Ortner

This interactive picture book invites children into a simple breathing pattern as they read. As they do, they learn to calm their frustration and anger, replace sadness with happiness, and release tension. The beautiful illustrations make this an inviting mindfulness tool for preschoolers and elementary kids, who will love using their own magic breath to make worries disappear! 

Calm with the Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

This miniature picture book is a simple tool for teaching even the youngest children the importance of mindfulness. Carle’s beloved caterpillar guides readers through deep breaths and relaxation techniques, showing them to soothe themselves when sad, frightened, or worried.

New Fiction and A lot of Nonfiction

I hope you’re all enjoying the  pretty weather and getting some good reading time in.  We have a few new fiction titles, not by high-demand authors, but really good nonetheless.  The Queen of Tuesday by Darin Strauss offers a glimpse of mid-century American culture and establishes Lucille Ball as the main influencer of her time.  The story revolves around a romance – an affair that the author’s grandfather may have had with Lucille Ball – but mixes the fiction of the romance with some of the facts of Ball’s life.  Be prepared to be surprised to learn that there was much more to Lucille Ball’s life than what we saw on television.

Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman is set in a book store in Paris during World War II.  It looks at the toll that living in France during the War and Occupation took on many.

How Lulu Lost Her Mind by Rachel Gibson is a mother and daughter relationship story that is told with humor and compassion that will resonate with the reader as they contemplate their relationships with their own mothers.

Monogamy by Sue Miller will probably be my favorite book of 2020.  It’s the story of the complications of marriage and blended families with one big secret that tears down everything a woman believed about her life.  The relationships in the book are messy, but the book is engrossing.  I couldn’t put it down.

I received an early copy of The Big Door Prize by M.O. Walsh earlier this year and have been impatient for it to be published so I could share it with you all!  In a small Louisiana town, a machine appears in the local grocery store that changes quite a bit for this small Southern town.  For two dollars and a swab of a person’s cheek, it can tell them what their life’s potential is.  And the revelations that the machine offers challenges people’s relationships, self-esteem and satisfaction levels.  This book is magical realism at its best, and the graceful writing will have the readers enthralled.

Just a few other new fiction titles to mention are The Geometry of Holding Hands, the newest installment in Alexander McCall Smith’s Isabel Dalhousie series; The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue is a work of historical fiction with modern and real-life influences.  It’s a survival story set against the back drop of the Influenza Pandemic of 1918.

Robert Galbraith (also known as J.K. Rowling) adds another title to her Cormoran Strike novels in Troubled Blood.

And lastly in my discussion about new fiction titles is Dear Ann by Bobbie Ann Mason.  Her first novel, In Country, is now considered a post-modern classic, and this latest title probably will be as well.  Dear Ann leads the reader down the path of a re-examination of a first love and all the living that the main character either did or didn’t do in her life.  It’s as gritty and real as In Country.

 New non-fiction titles on our shelves include The Hard Things about Hard Things by entrepreneur Ben Horowitz, His Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and His Power of Hope by Jon Meacham, and Everything Beautiful In Its Time: Seasons of Love and Loss by Jenna Bush Hager.  If you want to understand more about Netflix and how it has reinvented itself over and over, then read No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention by Reed Hastings.  In A Knock at Midnight: A Story of Hope, Justice, and Freedom   by Brittany K Barnett takes readers on her journey to understand the American justice system when, as a young law student, she comes across a case that will change her life forever.  We have Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ memoir, titled Speaking for Myself: Faith, Freedom, and the Fight of Our Lives Inside the Trump White House and we now have Killing Crazy Horse: The Merciless Indian Wars in America by Bill O’Reilly.

Stayed tuned for the next post, which is all about some great Halloween reads you may or may not have thought about for the spooky time of year.