Troll Swap

Have you ever wanted to trade places with a troll? Here’s one way to do it:

In Troll Swap, a funny picture book, we have Timothy the troll who is very neat and polite and tidy – much the opposite of all the other messy trolls.
Somewhere else we have a young girl named Tabitha who is very loud and loopy and messy – which upsets her neat parents half the time.

Tabitha and Timothy were both having a hard time getting along with others, until one day they bumped into each other and decided to trade places! That might solve all their problems! Maybe Tabitha’s parents would prefer a well-mannered troll who is polite and tidy? And maybe the trolls would enjoy Tabitha who is loud and loopy and messy like them?

Troll Swap is a silly book with wonderfully silly illustrations, and of course a happy ending. It's a cute book about just being yourself.

Readalikes for Serial Fans


Millions of people are hooked on the new Serial podcast, in which journalist Sarah Koenig attempts to unravel the 1999 murder of Baltimore-area high schooler Hae Min Lee and the subsequent conviction of her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed for the crime. New episodes are released each Thursday, and binge-listeners of the show are eager to listen, re-listen, and debate the findings and their suspicions.

Here are a few nonfiction titles that might help pass the time between episode releases - each title features a crime, compelling characters, and an attempt to piece together the clues to make sense of the whole picture.

Blood Will Out - Walter Kirn's examination of a con artist who posed for years as "Clark Rockefeller," an ambiguously wealthy member of the upper crust, heavily features Kirn's own multi-year friendship with the man who turned out to be not just duplicitous, but dangerous as well.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - John Berendt's story of Savannah is unique in that the crime around which the book is centered almost gets lost amid the outsized personalities of his cast of characters, which includes a flamboyant antiques dealer, a voodoo priestess, and the unforgettable scene-stealer Lady Chablis.

The Monster of Florence - author Douglas Preston becomes spectacularly entangled in this investigation of a violent serial killer stalking couples in the Italian countryside. The extreme ineptitude of the police force on this case is as appalling as the dedication of journalists like co-author Mario Spezi is admirable.

People Who Eat Darkness - award-winning journalist Richard Lloyd Parry traces the disappearance of a young woman in Japan through the search and investigation phases which lead finally to her murder trial, even at the risk of his own safety.

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher - Kate Summerscale dissects Britain's infamous Road Hill House murder case which featured a locked room scenario, mishandled evidence, and in an unusual addition for 1860 - a detective, one of the first eight members of the newly-formed Scotland Yard.

What addictive stories have been satisfying your Serial cravings? Share them in the comments! Also - Adnan: guilty or no?

New Adult Nonfiction: A Deadly Wandering

In the brand new book A Deadly Wandering: A Tale of Tragedy and Redemption in the Age of Attention by Pulitzer Prize winning author Matt Richtel, humans’ relationship with technology is explored through the lens of a deadly car accident. Utah college student Reggie Shaw killed two scientists while weaving in and out of his lane on the highway, texting a friend. Richtel describes the accident and follows Shaw through the aftermath, including the investigation, Shaw’s prosecution and his ultimate redemption. This tragedy offers a unique backdrop for the larger issues that Richtel explores in this fascinating book. He uses recent scientific findings on human attention, evolution, and the impact of technology on our brains to explain how it embeds itself into “all aspects of our lives, plays to our deepest social instincts, and preys on parts of the brain that crave stimulation, creating loops of compulsion and even addiction” (from book jacket). Richtel also uses all this information as a jumping-off point for actionable solutions to help manage our personal and societal distractions.

Matt Richtel is a reporter for the New York Times who focuses on the impact of technology on our lives. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2010 for a series of articles that exposed the risks of distracted driving and its root causes. His work has prompted widespread reform in promoting awareness of and creating policies against distracted driving. He is also the author of Hooked: A Thriller About Love and Other Addictions, and Devil’s Plaything: a Mystery for Idle Minds.

Vanessa and Her Sister: new fiction on the life of Virginia Woolf

Vanessa and Her Sister, by Priya Parmar, is a brand new book that offers a look at a fascinating time and place in world history. The year is 1905 and pre-war London is bustling with young artists and intellectuals. The four orphaned Stephens siblings—Vanessa, Virginia, Thoby and Adrian—decide to take a house together in fashionable Bloomsbury. All young, gifted and unmarried, they bring together a glittering circle of talented and outrageous friends that will eventually become known as the Bloomsbury Group. At the center of the circle are the sisters Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf. When the book opens, Vanessa, the painter, has never sold a piece of her work and Virginia, the writer, has just had her book review turned down. But as time passes, the sisters and the others in the circle begin to meet with success. When Vanessa falls in love, her complicated and possessive sister feels dangerously abandoned and begins a tailspin of self-destruction. With the threat of tragedy looming over the family, Vanessa must decide how to save herself and her loved ones while also protecting her own happiness.

This book is has been recommended for fans of Loving Frank, The Chaperone, and The Paris Wife and offers a fascinating and intimate viewpoint of the life of Virginia Woolf and her struggles with mental illness.

Kate Atkinson Fans Rejoice!


Kate Atkinson, whose epic Life After Life tore up time and space and heartstrings, has announced that her next book will return to the same world, this time focused on Teddy, the beloved youngest child in the Todd family. Her new book, "A God In Ruins" will be released in May 2015.

The article in The Guardian describes that the plot "will explore how Teddy – "would-be poet, RAF bomber pilot, husband and father" – navigates "the perils and progress of the twentieth century."

After the multiple realities explored by Life After Life, I'm very interested to discover in what reality "A God In Ruins" occurs, and if the story moves in a linear fashion, or if Teddy has some second chances of his own.

If you haven't read Kate Atkinson before, Life After Life is a great place to start. When it was published in 2013, it enjoyed great success, winning many awards and much critical praise. I also highly recommend her ingeniously plotted Case Histories, which kicks off her excellent Jackson Brodie mystery series.

Chicken Soup with Rice, so nice!

In November’s gusty gale I will flop my flippy tail
And spout hot soup-I’ll be a whale!
Spouting once, spouting twice
Spouting chicken soup with rice!

There is a small collection of books that travels through life with me and comes out when I want the comfort of an old friend. The book Chicken Soup with Rice by Maurice Sendak is one of them and is almost always plucked from the bookshelf around the time the leaves near the end of their fall dance and coats and mittens become a part of my daily wardrobe. Written in 1962, it‘s part of a small collection of books Sendak called the Nutshell Library. (The other titles in the series are: Alligators All Around: an alphabet, One was Johnny: a counting book and Pierre: a cautionary tale.) Each book tells a different story in rhyme and covers topics like the months, counting and the alphabet. Chicken Soup with Rice covers the days of the month and you get the picture early on that the little boy in the book really loves chicken soup with rice! The book is delicious in its play with rhymes and the illustrations are true Maurice Sendak. A nice compliment to this little gem can be found on Carol King’s CD Really Rosie. She put the words to song and created a nice little ditty that will have you humming it for days.

British culinary history comes to life in Historic Heston

I was fascinated when I picked up the amazing new cookbook Historic Heston, by Heston Blumenthal. The book is a James Beard Award Winner for Cookbook of the Year 2014 and that prize was certainly well-deserved. In this fascinating tome, Blumenthal takes readers and chefs on a journey through the culinary history of Britain, from the middle ages all the way to modern day. “Alighting upon the most iconic and intriguing dishes, such as Meat Fruit, Powdered Duck, Tipsy Cake and Mock Turtle Soup, he delves into the story behind each one, before using them as inspiration for his own modern recipes,” reads the cover. I was particularly wonder-struck by the photography in the cookbook by Romas Foord: the image of a beautiful orange on one page is revealed to be constructed completely out of marzipan on the next. Later in the book, a close-up of meat stew is detailed enough to expose the individual spices in the broth. Seeing the ancient dishes as they would have been created in midieval times is a treat and Blumenthal’s adaptations to make them modern are completely usable. Historic Heston is truly a must-peruse for those interested in cooking, photography or British history.

Emerging Writers: Writing & Review Meetup

Thursday February 19, 2015: 7:00 pm to 8:45 pm -- Traverwood Branch: Program Room

This event is intended for adults and teens grade 6 and up.

This is a monthly meetup that welcomes all writers to ask questions, connect with other writers, or simply have a dedicated time and place to work on their projects. Local authors Lara Zielin and Margaret Yang will be on hand to offer encouragement, answer questions, and point writers to resources. These open houses complement the Emerging Writers Workshops. These events feature perspectives from both traditional publishing and indie publishing and considerations of fiction and non-fiction writing.

Emerging Writers: Writing & Review Meetup

Thursday January 22, 2015: 7:00 pm to 8:45 pm -- Traverwood Branch: Program Room

This event is intended for adults and teens grade 6 and up.

This is a monthly meetup that welcomes all writers to ask questions, connect with other writers, or simply have a dedicated time and place to work on their projects. Local authors Lara Zielin and Margaret Yang will be on hand to offer encouragement, answer questions, and point writers to resources. These open houses complement the Emerging Writers Workshops. These events feature perspectives from both traditional publishing and indie publishing and considerations of fiction and non-fiction writing.

New Craft Books!

Have you been keeping up with all the new craft books that have been rolling in? Book on crafting all sorts of things, including sewing, paper love, duct tape engineering, repurposing, and more. Now that the days get dark so early, it's a perfect time to start planning some new at-home projects to work on this fall and winter. I know I like to hunker down with old TV shows on DVD and a new project to keep me going. Here are a few stand-out titles:

Love At First Stitch

Scissors, Paper, Craft

Handcrafted Christmas: ornaments, decorations, and cookie recipes to make at home

Half yard heaven: easy sewing projects using left-over pieces of fabric

No-sew love: 50 fun projects to make without a needle and thread

And here are more of the new crafty maker books to keep an eye out for! Tis the season to craft. Wait, tis always the season to craft.

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