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Friday, February 6, 2015

MINNESOTA BOOK AWARD FINALISTS

On Saturday, January 31, 2015, preliminary judges met at the Loft Literary Center to decide on four finalists for each book category.  Some judges needed to read 40 books for their category.
Each group had 3 judges and one facilitator.  I was a facilitator for the Minnesota category.
The finalist books will be sent to final judges, who will read them and meet at the Loft on Saturday, March 7.  The winning books will be announced at the Minnesota Book Awards gala event on Saturday, April 18.  Minnesota has many good authors.  It is an honor to have a book be chosen as a finalist.
The finalists are:

Children’s Literature

 

 

 

  • It’s an Orange Aardvark by Michael Hall (Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins Publishers
  • Little Puppy and the Big Green Monster by Mike Wohnoutka (Holiday House)
  • Water Can Be… by Laura Purdie Salas, illustrated by Violeta Dabija (Millbrook Press/Lerner Publishing Group)
  • Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

General Nonfiction

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  • Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Spiritual Life by Nancy Koester (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.)
  • My Grandfather’s Knocking Sticks: Ojibwe Family Life and Labor on the Reservation by Brenda J. Child (Minnesota Historical Society Press)
  • New Scenic Café: The Cookbook by Scott Graden with Arlene Anderson (New Scenic Café, Inc.)
  • Queer Clergy: A History of Gay and Lesbian Ministry in American Protestantism by R.W. Holmen (The Pilgrim Press)

Genre Fiction

  • Fallen Angel by Chuck Logan (Conquill Press)
  • The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens (Seventh Street Books/Prometheus Books)
  • The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen (Bethany House Publishers)
  • Strongwood: A Crime Dossier by Larry Millett (University of Minnesota Press)

Memoir & Creative Nonfiction

  • Love Imagined: A Mixed Race Memoir by Sherry Quan Lee (Modern History Press/Loving Healing Press)
  • Northern Orchards: Places Near the Dead by James Silas Rogers (North Star Press of St. Cloud)
  • Seeking the Cave: A Pilgrimage to Cold Mountain by James P. Lenfestey (Milkweed Editions)
  • Tailings: A Memoir by Kaethe Schwehn (Cascade Books/Wipf and Stock Publishers)

Minnesota

  • Amphibians and Reptiles in Minnesota by John J. Moriarty and Carol D. Hall (University of Minnesota Press)
  • Her Honor: Rosalie Wahl and the Minnesota Women’s Movement by Lori Sturdevant (Minnesota Historical Society Press)
  • Minnesota Farmers Market Cookbook: A Guide to Selecting and Preparing the Best Local Produce with Seasonal Recipes from Local Chefs and Farmers by Tricia Cornell (Voyageur Press)
  • Minnesota’s Own: Preserving Our Grand Homes by Larry Millett, photography by Matt Schmitt (Minnesota Historical Society Press)

Novel & Short Story

 

  • A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James (Riverhead Books/Penguin Random House)
  • In Reach by Pamela Carter Joern (University of Nebraska Press)
  • The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons by Heather A. Slomski (University of Iowa Press)
  • Stillwater by Nicole Helget (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Poetry

 

  • Albedo by Kathleen Jesme (Ahsahta Press)
  • Dangerous Goods by Sean Hill (Milkweed Editions)
  • Soul Over Lightning by Ray Gonzalez (The University of Arizona Press)
  • This Way to the Sugar by Hieu Minh Nguyen (Write Bloody Publishing)

Young People’s Literature

 

  • Ambassador by William Alexander (Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster)
  • Leroy Ninker Saddles Up by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen (Candlewick Press)
  • West of the Moon by Margi Preus (Amulet Books/Abrams)
  • The Witch’s Boy by Kelly Barnhill (Algonquin Young Readers/Algonquin
- See more at: http://thefriends.org/events/mnba/winners-and-finalists/current-finalists/#sthash.P5uW6Wol.dpuf

Thursday, January 8, 2015

GETTING REACQUAINTED WITH YOUR ANCESTORS. AN EVENING WITH THE WOMEN OF BEOWULF.



Local author Donnita Rogers will return to the Northfield Public Library on Tuesday, January 27, 2015, at 7:00 pm and talk about her newest book, Fanning the Flames, book two of her Women of Beowulf series.

Drawing on her years of research and travels in Scandinavia, author and retired teacher Donnita Rogers will bring to life the women of the 6th century epic, Beowulf, and the related Saga of King Hrolf Kraki.

The elevated status of women in Norse culture will be compared and contrasted with the struggles of modern women for recognition and respect.

From her roots in rural Indiana, Donnita Lamb Rogers grew into a teacher, traveler and author. A lifelong passion for learning was fueled by her education at Earlham, a Quaker college, and the University of Minnesota, culminating in a PhD in English Literature. She adopted four children before beginning her teaching career in Texas, which included work at the University of Houston, Lone Star College and Kingwood High School, where she used drama and extensive student involvement to bring literature to life.

After retirement in 2001 she traveled the world, then began to research and write Faces in the Fire, a novel inspired by her teaching of the Old English epic, Beowulf. Five years were spent studying materials on Viking Age culture; a trip to Scandinavia offered such "on-site" experiences as crewing on a Viking ship replica in Denmark and climbing funeral mounds in Sweden, all to discover what life might have been like for women in sixth-century Scandinavia.  She and her partner Don divide their time among an island cabin in Canada, a river home in Texas, and a farmhouse near Northfield.

Book sales and signing will follow her presentation

The program is free and open to the public.  This program is part of the Northfield Public Library’s Hot Reads for Cold Nights adult winter reading program.

HOT READS FOR COLD NIGHTS ADULT READING PROGRAM AT THE NORTHFIELD PUBLIC LIBRARY


                                                         


Hot Reads for Cold Nights returns to the Northfield Public Library this winter.  During the cold, snowy months of January and February, curl up and read some books and win prizes at the library!  Join the library Hot Reads program starting Monday, January 5, and read for prizes until Saturday, February 28.

After reading a book, each patron will fill out a slip with their name and phone number and a few lines describing the book.  The name and phone number section of the paper will be cut off and put in a fishbowl.  The comment section of each slip will be posted on the bulletin board downstairs, near the new books.  Patrons will be able to browse each other comments for ideas of new books.  From the names in the fishbowl, three winners will be drawn each week.  Each winner will receive a $5.00 gift certificate to a downtown business. This year, patrons who use the Northfield Senior Center will be able to sign up and drop their book slips at the Senior Center.  The completed slips will be posted at the library, and the participants will be included in the weekly drawings.  Several library programs are being planned for winter months. 

REPRODUCTION FABRICS, AND TEXTILES FROM THE JESSE JAMES ERA

         Meet Margo Krager, owner of Reproduction Fabrics in Northfield



                                                                  
           Last summer Margo Krager opened her shop, Reproduction Fabrics.  More precisely, she moved her store from Montana, to be closer to her daughter and family, and continued a business she has had for years.   Her shop, on the second floor of the 1st National Bank building, with an entrance on 4th street, specializes in fabrics from different time periods, covering 1775 – 1950.   She sells to individual  sewers and quilters, but her biggest customers are  from the movie and television industry, theater companies , and historical centers who want to produce authentic looking costumes.  She does considerable business online.  Margo will talk about reproduction fabrics, emphasizing textiles during the Jesse James era on Tuesday, January 13, at 7:00 pm at the Northfield Public Library.

This program is part of the library’s Hot Reads for Cold Nights adult reading program, and is free and open to the public.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Friday, December 12, 2014

2014 GIFT BOOK SUGGESTIONS FROM THE STAFF OF THE NORTHFIELD PUBLIC LIBRARY



                                         

Fiction

All the Light We Cannot See—Anthony Doerr

Museum of Extraordinary Things—Alice Hoffman

Cambridge—Susanna Kaysen

Goldfinch—Donna Tartt

The Invention of Wings—Sue Monk Kidd

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher; stories—Hillary Mantel

The Children Act—Ian McEwan

The Arsonist—Sue Miller

Still Life With Bread Crumbs—Anna Quindlen

Lila—Marilynne Robinson

Nora Webster—Colm Toibin

 

NonFiction

Before we Say Goodnight: How to tell Bedtime Stories about Your Life and Family—Hank Frazee

Can’t we Talk About Something More Pleasant? A Memoir—Roz Chast

Empathy Exams: Essays—Leslie Jamison

 A Farm Dies Once a Year—Arlo Crawford

  In the Kingdom of Ice: the Grand and Terrible Voyage of the U.S.S.

 
Jeannette—Hampton Sides

  Lego Architecture: the Visual Guide—Phillip Wilkinson

  Minnesota’s Own: Preserving our Grand Homes—Larry Millett

  Texts from Jane Eyre– Mallory Ortberg

  Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End—Atul Gawande

  Yes, Please—Amy Poehler
 
 
  Cookbooks
  America: Farm to Table: Simple, Delicious Recipes Celebrating
  Local Farmers—Mario Batali
  Baking Bible—Rose Levy Berenbaum
  Lake Superior Flavors: a Field  Guide to Food and Drink Along the Circle                    Tour—James R. Norton
  Make some Beer: Small Batch Recipes from Brooklyn to Bamburg– Erica Shea
  Make it Ahead: a Barefoot Contessa Cookbook—Ina Garten
 
  Children’s Picture Books
  Book with No Pictures—B.J. Novak
  Duck Sock Hop—Jane Kohuth
  I Wish I Had a Pet—Maggie Rudy
  Ninja Red Riding Hood—Corey Schwartz
  The Secret Life of Squirrels—Nancy Rose
  Little Blue Truck’s Christmas—Alice Shertle
 
 

                                           

 


 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

New Fiction Titles

We Are Not Ourselves, by Matthew Thomas.  2014


Eileen Tumulty was born in Woodside, Queens, and raised by her drinking Irish parents.  She took care of them and eventually went to nursing school, although she originally thought she wanted a higher status job, such as law or politics.  She meets Ed Leary, a research scientist, and marries him.  She encourages him to move up in the world.  She wants a nicer house and nicer things than her parents had.  They live in the house where he grew up, and rent floors to other families.  Ed stays at a community college where he has a lab and is happy.  She pressures Ed to move to a nicer house, but he is reluctant.  They have one son, Connell.  Eileen wants more for him that she had, and is pleased when he is accepted into a competitive high school.

Around the time Connell is beginning high school, it is clear that something is changing with Ed.  He is spending more and more time preparing for his classes, and is repeatedly going over his grading and recording grades.  He finally breaks down and admits he needs Eileen’s help entering his grades.  Eileen finally takes him to a doctor and he is diagnosed with early onset dementia.  He is only 51 years old.  Eileen suspects that he knew he was coming down with this disease.   He tries to keep his job until he is at 30 years, for retirement benefits, but the college eventually calls and says he is unable to perform his job, and must retire.   Eileen then faces having Ed at home while she is at work.  He is able to function for a while, but eventually she hires a Russian immigrant to watch him during the day.  He ends up in the hospital for a while, after hurting himself.  Eventually, Eileen must put him in a nursing home because she is unable to physically move him around and care for him.  The story follows his decline, Eileen’s road to acceptance to her life without Ed, and Connell’s dealing with his father’s illness.

This is a well written novel, and an excellent description of a family caught in the throes of early onset dementia.  The journey of the son, who has a hard time dealing with the illness and loss of his father, finally turns his life around and becomes a teacher.  One of the most touching scenes was when Connell reads a letter that Ed wrote to him before his illness took over, in which he encourages him to remember all that they shared while he was growing up, and not to remember him as diseased.



 

The Story Hour by Thrity  Umrigar,  2014


This author always writes good, psychological novels, and this newest novel is not an exception.
Maggie is a therapist, and a black woman married to Sudhir, an Indian math professor.  A woman about 30 years old comes to the hospital, after she attempted suicide.  Maggie feels sorry for her and agrees to take her on as a client pro bono.  Lakshmi’s husband owns a grocery store/restaurant.
Maggie realizes that Lakshmi is in a loveless marriage, but she knows that many Indian marriages are arranged.  Maggie allows the boundaries between therapist and patient fall down, and Lakshmi sees Maggie as a friend.  Meanwhile, Maggie has been attracted to a photographer, Peter, who is back at the college for a year.  They become involved, and Maggie struggles with why she is risking her steady, solid marriage for this.

Maggie and Lakshmi’s lives get intertwined when she begins bringing  Maggie and Sudhir Indian food, and he hires her to cook or a party.  Friends also hire her, to both cook and clean.   The boundary between therapist and client are irrevocably crossed when Lakshmi uncovers a secret in Maggie's life, and Maggie cannot accept something Lakshmi reveals in therapy.  Yet, when Maggie's marriage falls apart, Lakshmi is able to help her.    Although the ending is a bit of a stretch,  it was very touching, and demonstrated how all the characters had grown, from knowing and being with each other.
  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

New Fiction Titles

Are you looking for new fiction titles?  See below for some suggestions of books I enjoyed.

The Wives of Los Alamos  by Tarashea Nesbit.  2014
      This novel is written in a collective voice, representing all the women of the physicists who worked at Los Alamos, on the atomic bomb.  The wives were not allowed to know what their husbands were working on.  Families were isolated from much of society.  They were not allowed to visit their families elsewhere, nor were their families allowed to visit them.  The wives came from all  over the country and the world.  The narrator reveals that they did not always agree on things, and had different ways of looking at their lives.  However, it is clear that there were strong bonds because the women needed to rely on each other for several years, without the support of family networks or other social networks.  They raised their children and tried to cook decent meals in spite of rationing, and tried to keep their homes as nice as possible, although their were many problems.  The narrator reveals how all the women changed to deal with the situations at Los Alamos.   By the end, it is clear to the reader that the project was the creation of the atomic bomb. The novel describes the various reactions of the scientists and families when they hear reports of the atomic bomb maiming and killing so many civilian Japanese.  Well written, and an interesting historical novel.

Still Life With Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen.  2014
     Well known photographer Rebecca Winter moves out of her New York City apartment and  into a small cottage, in order to rent out her apartment and try and cover her finances, including her mother's nursing home bills.  Her twenty-something son Ben, does not realize how poor she has become.  She hasn't produced anything new in years.  She begins a relationship with a roofer, Jim.
who gets a raccoon out of her house.  She is unaware that he has a mentally sister, and the photography project that gets her reestablished is connected to his sister.  In the end, pieces of her life are brought together.  Wonderfully written, with unique chapter headings.

A Star For Mrs. Blake by April Smith.  2014
      This novel is a WWI follow up story, set in 1931.  Cora Blake lives in Deer Isle, Maine, and lost her son, Sammy, in the war.  She has been selected as a Gold Star Mother - one of the mothers who will travel to France to see her son's burial site.  The U.S. government spent over $1 million to give mothers who lost sons the opportunity to go to England and France.  Cora corresponds with the other mothers before the trip, and discovers that they all come from different backgrounds - Bobbie, a wealthy woman; Katie, an Irish immigrant who worked for women like Bobbie; Minne, a Jewish immigrant, and Wilhellma, married to a famous architect who has declared her legally insane because of her grief.  The group is accompanied by Thomas Hammond, a young military man who comes rom a long military family, and Lily, a nurse assigned to the group.
      As different as the women are, they have all lost their sons, and must grapple with feelings of what did they die for.  There is reference to the Depression and a possible second world war coming. 
They meet a writer, who has been badly injured in the war and must wear a face mask.   The women find out more about their sons lives, themselves,  and each other on the trip.  There are good descriptions of ordinary women being exposed to travel, new events, and worlds they had never experienced, while dealing with their grief.   The author found a great entry in the aftermath of World War I, and poses questions about patriotism and the waste of human lives in war.