Book review: Living with Books

By , January 22, 2015

Living with Books

By Alan Powers


Books! We love them, we can’t live without them and this decorating book will show you fabulous and innovative ways to display them in your home!

Alan Powers’ Living with Books features page after page of rooms filled with character and personality and clever arrangements of books.

Living with Books offers decorating ideas for home libraries, home offices, kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms and my favorite chapter hallways and odd spaces. You’ll learn how to use books to add warmth and color to your home as well as how to use books as art.

The author also provides information about the care and maintenance of books and DIY instructions on how to build six different styles of bookshelves.

If you enjoy Living with Books you might also want to take a look at House Beautiful Decorating with Books by Marie Proeller Hueston and At Home with Books: How Booklovers Live with and Care for Their Libraries by Estelle Ellis.


You’ll never look at your books the same way again………

- Karen

Popmatic Podcast January 21, 2015: Dr. King! Dr. King!

By , January 21, 2015

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning MarableIn celebration of MLK Day and release of Selma, we tell you about favorite books, movies, and music about the Civil Rights era. Bryan sings. For real.


The Civil Rights Collection

The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon

Shock Corridor

X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills by Chris Claremont, Brent Anderson, and Steve Oliff

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird film

Hey, Boo: Harper Lee and Kill a Mockingbird

The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee by Marja Mills

Long Division by Kiese Laymon

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable

Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party by Joshua Bloom

Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975

Soundtrack for a Revolution

Soundtrack for a Revolution soundtrack


Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

Unruly Places: Lost Spaces, Secret Cities, and Other Inscrutable Geographies by Alastair Bonnett

The Making of a President: 1964 by Theodore H. White

Hull Zero Three by Greg Bear

The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham

Fixer Upper

Check It Out with Dr. Steve Brule

Great Train Robbery

Popmatic Podcast on Stitcher


Transcripts of the show are available upon request.

The Newbery Awards

By , January 19, 2015

Every year, the American Library Association bestows awards on deserving (or not so deserving, depending on your reading preferences) books published the previous year. That makes this a perfect time to recap our favorites! In anticipation of the Newbery Awards (among many many others) being announced February 2, here are some 2014 favorite chapter books from librarians around the system:

Brown Girl Dreaming



By far, the favorite book (and Newbery prediction) of many, including Ms. Elaine, Ms. Tori, Ms. Phyllis and others is Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson.



At Main, we’re all over the place with our favorites:

Miss Shain loved the Junction of Sunshine and Lucky, by Holly Schindler.

Miss Lindsay loved Rain Reign, too, and also wholeheartedly recommends Revolution, by Deborah Wiles.

Miss Jane’s favorites include My Brother’s Shadow, by Tom Avery and The Secrets of Eastcliff-by-the-Sea: the Story of Annaliese Easterling & Throckmorton, Her Simply Remarkable Sock Monkey, by Eileen Beha.

Other favorites by librarians around NPL are Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere, by Julie T. Lamana and Witch’s Boy by Kelly Barnhill.

Phew! There were a lot of great chapter books published in 2014.

What did we miss? What did we get wrong? What did you love?

Sound City

By , January 18, 2015

SoundCityThis gem can be found on Hoopla and is certainly worth watching. If you read the recent Rolling Stone cover story  (December 4, 2014 – available via Zinio!) on Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters (and of course, former Nirvana member) you know he’s an intensely busy guy and that he loves the history and uniqueness of American recording studios.

Grohl produced and directed this full length documentary on the Van Nuys, California landmark, Sound City in 2013. It will have to hold me over until I can view, somehow, Sonic Highways, the eight part HBO music studio/city travelogue series he recently completed.

Sound City Studios and its legendary Neve sound mixing console saw numerous excellent bands and recordings throughout the seventies and into the nineties (a modern highpoint being Nirvana’s Nevermind) and beyond until the digital age/Pro Tools and other changes affected it’s ultimate demise in 2011. From Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors, Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ Damn the Torpedos, Hard Promises (and others) to  recordings by Rick Springfield (you’ll learn more about his famous dog too), War, Cheap Trick, Johnny Cash and many others this place reveled in a no frills / do it live ethos that resulted in some truly solid recordings. Was it the room dynamics that lead to the terrific and much sought after drum sound? Or a combination of magic and luck…

The film is a flowing trip of first hand recollections, great footage, interviews with musicians and those that worked there or helped make the recordings – Butch Vig, Ric Reuben among them along with Grohl’s own animated appearances. Find out what eventually happened to the legendary sound board, see Stevie Nicks laying down vocals with the Foo Fighters and Paul McCartney jamming on what appears to be an electric cigar box guitar! Great stuff.


Sound City

Book List: The 2015 Reading Challenge

By , January 17, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge


Since New Year’s is all about making resolutions, I think one of the best resolutions a reader can make is to diversify what they read throughout the year.

That being said, POPSUGAR has created a 2015 Reading Challenge, check out their post and see the POPSUGAR list. They even offer a handy printable version, which you can hang up on your desk or near your favorite reading spot to keep track of the books that you have already read.

Here are a few highlights of the list, plus a few suggestions (from my list) about what to read for them:

A book with more than 500 pages -

Words of Radiance, by Brandon Sanderson

Words of Radiance

The second book in the Stormlight Archives, Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson, doubles this page count! I’m really hoping to getting around to reading it this year, before the third one comes out.













A book your mom loves -

The Other Boleyn Girl, by Philippa Gregory

The Other Boleyn Girl

My mom is a huge fan of historical fiction, so for this one, I’ve picked The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. I know this is one of her favorites!














A book that made you cry -

Imajica, by Clive Barker


Clive Barker has always had such beautiful imagery in his works, and Imajica has several moments throughout that usually have me reaching for a tissue or three.













A memoir -

As You Wish, by Cary Elwes

As You Wish

I think this counts, right? It’s one of my favorite movies of all time, and Cary Elwes sits down to tell us behind-the-scenes stories you haven’t heard before in As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride.













A book with antonyms in the title -

Memory and Dream, by Charles de Lint

Memory and Dream

Trying to figure out what to read for this one was a bit of a tough choice, but I’ve been putting off reading Charles de Lint for a while. For this one, I’m going with Memory and Dream. Don’t worry! There are a ton of possibilities for this challenge.



Check Out the List

If you want to find a more complete list of my suggestions, check out the list on the library website here: 2015 Reading Challenge

Book review: My sunshine away

By , January 16, 2015

My sunshine away
by M.O. Walsh

To every Read, there is a season. A time to sneak an hour beside an open window in early April, a time to risk sand filled pages in late July and a purpose to every plot conceived by any self-respecting author.

My sunshine away is such a read. It begs to be read in early summer. Do not, I repeat, do not succumb to the glowing reviews of this title set for release in February. If you worship at the altar of contemporary Southern fiction, and I mean the good stuff…not the whiny, cheap, “it’s a hoot” junk that tries to pass itself off as the real deal, this one is worth the wait.

Milton O’Neal Walsh has crafted a treasure. It has all the right bits and pieces that would fall into a pile of worthless clutter with a lesser author. Set in Baton Rouge 1989, featuring golden girl Lindy Simpson, a neighborhood crime, a cast of suspects….all the elements needed to create a new Southern classic. And you know the good stuff is worth waiting for.


“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”            – Oscar Wilde

Book review: Breathless Trilogy

By , January 15, 2015

Rush by Maya BanksRush (Breathless Trilogy Volume 1)
by Maya Banks

Have you recently read certain romance novels and wondered what it would be like to read steamy romance that’s actually been edited and written for adults? If you answered, “Yes!” then Maya Banks is your woman!

Because the film version of 50 Shades of Grey will be upon us this Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be fun to talk about other titles within the genre. I recommend the first novel in Ms. Banks’ Breathless trilogy, called Rush. This book is the most similar book to the 50 Shades books—yes, I’ve read them the 50 Shades trilogy. There’s a pretty young girl named Mia, who is chased by the rich and ravenous Gabe. Who happens to be her brother’s best friend, and one of the people who helped take care of her when she was younger…at least they know each other?

The book opens with Mia alone at a party hosted by her brother, and his two best friends. They have a prosperous consulting firm. Gabe walks in, and his heart immediately skips a beat because little Mia isn’t so little anymore – she’s about 22 years old. We know from the jump that Gabe’s been crushing on Mia for a while and feels angst ridden because of it. But why, one may ask? Well, Gabe and his friends are bad boys. How bad? Well, think Christian Grey without the mommy issues.

The two main conflicts are: 1) Gabe is trying to hide his relationship with Mia from his besties, Jace (Mia’s brother) and Ash because he fears that they wouldn’t approve; 2) Gabe approaches relationships like Christian Grey—“Here, sign this contract!” He doesn’t want to admit that he’s in love with Mia, and he doesn’t think their relationship can work on a long-term basis.

Mia is Anastasia with some back bone. She has no problem telling off the man she loves when he does something she isn’t happy with. She also has a legitimate connection with Gabe due to the fact they’ve known each other for years. She is also of this world. She’s had enough life experience to understand in general terms what Gabe is into, and to make some demands of him. However, like her counterpart, there are moments where you want to go, “What!?” This reaction will probably happen to you, at least once, in every book in the Breathless trilogy. For instance, Gabe knows full well that Mia is only generally familiar with his proclivities, but just jumps right into it without much thought. Jace doesn’t think too hard about the people he associates with which almost gets his sister and several others hurt. Ash seems to be the only sane one, until he starts telling his girlfriend stuff that no partner should ever tell the other!

The books are explicit so if that is not your thing they are not for you. But if you are looking for a grown up romance that is better than 50 Shades but still easy to read and entertaining – Maya Banks’ Breathless trilogy is for you.

Fever by Maya Banks           Burn by Maya Banks           

- Sade

[Ed. note: This was originally a script for a YouTube video. Sade works in the Technical Service department at the Main Library.]

Popmatic Podcast January 14, 2014: HACKERS

By , January 14, 2015

We are AnonymousCyber warfare is now mainstream news, but some of the Popmatic crew had a very bibliophile interpretation of word “hack.” In short, they hacked the hackers episode.


the works of William Gibson

Cracking the Agrippa Code

Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte

We Are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World of Lulzsec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency by Parmy Olson

Sin-A-Rama: Sleaze Sex Paperbacks of the Sixties edited by Brittany E. Daley

Coding Freedom: the Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking by Gabriella E. Coleman

Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous by Gabriella E. Coleman


War for Late Night: When Leno Went Early and Television Went Crazy by Bill Carter

Secret of Crickley Hall

’48 by James Herbert

The Classic Album Collection by Electric Light Orchestra

The Rosie Effect by Graeme C. Simsion

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang


Transcripts of the show are available upon request.

Tennessee History Through Maps

By , January 12, 2015


Map of Tennessee 1854

Tennessee, 1854

As a new year begins, I tend to find myself reflecting back on the previous year. What did I do? Where did I go? Who did I meet? So I thought this would be the PERFECT time to look back on a larger scale, way larger – try a few hundred years larger! How about the whole history of the state of Tennessee?? Ok, well maybe not that large – but it is definitely worth looking back to see how we got to where we are, how we have changed, and maybe even envision a new future (our “resolutions” if you will).

The Special Collections Division has so many wonderful resources that talk about Tennessee’s history but the Ann Harwell Wells Tennessee Map Collection gives a unique perspective on the evolution of the state. The collection contains 146 antique Tennessee maps, some published as early as 1584. In these maps, Tennessee changes from a frontier land to a territory to the state we know today. This is one of the most comprehensive collections of Tennessee maps in existence and can be a great resource for anyone interested in Tennessee history.

Map of Tennessee

The State of Tennessee, Mathew Carey, 1814

Let’s start with Mathew Carey’s Map of Tennessee from 1814. Although this particular map was printed 200 years ago, it is a revised version of an earlier map and represents Tennessee before statehood in 1796. One of the most interesting characteristics of this map is the Indian boundary line that runs across the middle of the state. Early English settlement stopped at the Appalachian Mountains. It wasn’t until after the American Revolution that many frontiersmen ventured over those mountains and began settling in the Tennessee Territory. You can see some of the American settlements highlighted in East Tennessee.

Map of Tennessee

A Map of Tennassee Government Formerly Part of North Carolina, From the Latest Surveys 1795

B. Tanner’s Map of Tennessee also gives extraordinary detail about the settlement of the Tennessee Territory. This map is based on a survey taken in 1795, the year before Tennessee gained statehood. The Indian Territory line is still visible as the dotted line through the middle of the state but this map gives the viewer a clear picture of where settlements flourished. Try to find Nashville and note how most of the settlements are along major waterways – Nashville and Clarksville on the Cumberland River and Knoxville along the Holston River. With few roads and other trails, rivers were the easiest way to travel in the 1700s. They were also important avenues for transferring goods – whether that meant the raw materials produced in Tennessee or the refined products brought in from other states.

Map of Tennessee

Tennessee, 1889

Over the next 100 years, Tennessee expanded its boundaries all the way to the Mississippi, as you can see in this 1889 map. The Cherokee Indians were relocated as part of Andrew Jackson’s Indian removal policy in 1838 and Americans expanded into the whole state. New cities popped up including Memphis and Chattanooga. These cities continued to be along waterways for ease of transportation. Henry Ford wouldn’t invent the Model T Ford (which made car ownership possible for the common man) until 1908. This was also a time of war in Tennessee. Our state was the last to secede from the Union and the first to return at the end of the Civil War. Tennessee waterways were important avenues into the South during this war, which made Tennessee a frequent battleground.

The physical landscape of Tennessee hasn’t changed much since 1889 but our state continues to feel the impact of the decisions of these early settlers. Just 5 years ago, the decision to settle on riverbanks caused millions of dollars of damage when those rivers broke their banks and flooded many Tennessee cities. Our past  – whether personal or collective – is a part of us, whether we like it or not. But a new year brings new opportunities and new ways to examine the past.

If you are interested in learning more about the Wells Collection, there will be an exhibit of selected maps on display from January 22 through January 29 in the Nashville Room. And, as always, these collections are open to the public during regular library hours.

Happy 2015!!



TV series review: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

By , January 9, 2015

Miss FisherMiss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.
Starring Essie Davis as Phryne Fisher.
Based on the novels of Kerry Greenwood.

I wasn’t looking for a new crime series to binge watch when I recently came across Miss Fisher, but hours later I found my chores undone, my book club book unread, and my cat staring longingly at her empty food bowlMiss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries has it all:  it’s cozy enough to appeal to fans of gentler mysteries, but it doesn’t shy away from serious issues like class, racial discrimination, and women’s rights. The tone of the series can be a little bit dark at times, with lots of funny, clever, and sexy bits in between.  By the end of each episode, Miss Fisher always solves her case, all while dressed impeccably I might add.

If you’re like me and aren’t familiar with Kerry Greenwood’s novels, her heroine Miss Phryne (pronounced Fry-Knee) Fisher is a thoroughly modern and independently wealthy woman living in 1920s Melbourne, Australia.  Phryne has quite a knack for solving mysteries and becomes a private detective.  She is dismissed by the local police leader Inspector Jack Robinson as a nosy pest, but sooner than later Robinson realizes how valuable her skills of deduction can be.  Phryne’s little sister was kidnapped and murdered when they were kids.  Her killer is in prison, but has never admitted to the crime, nor revealed where her body is buried.

I do feel guilty not having read any of the Miss Fisher novels before watching series one, but I plan to remedy that before moving to series two.  A third series has been commissioned so we have more episodes to look for in the future.  Essie Davis, whose name is gaining notoriety after starring in the 2014 horror film The Babadook, is absolutely superb as Miss Fisher.  The supporting cast is excellent as well.  And the historic setting of Melbourne is so much fun to experience.  There’s only one thing left to say – watch it and I guarantee you’ll be entertained!

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