Book review: The Secrets of Lost Cats

By , April 29, 2014

The Secrets of Lost Cats – One Woman, Twenty Posters, and a New Understanding of Love by Dr. Nancy Davidson

I found this an intriguing book filled with humor, insight, compassion and direction from cat owner and self styled Nancy Drew sleuth, Dr. Nancy Davidson. Part handwriting analyst, part urban detective and part animal psychologist - she can really put things together pretty quickly!

A practicing couples therapist who works in New York (and LA) and resided in New Haven while writing this, Dr. Davidson had a bit of an obsession with finding out everything possible behind the owners and creators of some 20 odd lost cat posters. She would even carry out her missions while on vacation trips.

There is Broadway Lucy, lost in Manhattan, Maddy, the Blue Sky Leather Shop cat (Montana), Zak (her own big orange tabby) and even a couple out of the U.S. cats -  Amsterdam Sam and Spanish Snoopy who Nancy investigates.  Sometimes a story unfolds and she is able to meet the owner and offer some level of direction or comfort or maybe is just able to satisfy her own relentless investigative drive.

A humorous and rewarding book on many levels which thankfully includes a picture of each poster, this is a collection of short stories woven together by some larger themes and issues pertinent to her own life.  In the end, Dr. Nancy provides a multifaceted look at the deep bonds, interrupted, between cat owners and their beloved feline friends.



Book list: Teen Books with Adult Appeal

By , April 29, 2014

In addition to blockbuster crossovers like Harry Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games, there are always books that are classified as young adult but are equally appealing to older readers. Check these out!

Wise Young Fool by Sean Beaudoin

Wise Young Fool  
by Sean Beaudoin

From his dank, nasty room at a juvenile detention facility, Ritchie writes of the events leading up to his incarceration. Where to start? Should he begin with the death of his sister, Beth, killed by a drunk driver? Or the day his Dad moved to Texas, quickly followed by the day his Mom’s girlfriend moved in? Or maybe the day he got his first guitar, or decided to enter the Battle of the Bands with his best friend, Elliot? As Ritchie tells it, with all the pluck and disdain of a crazy-smart wiseass teenager, writing it down is a matter of puking up the pain, “…preferably with blue ink on lined paper.” Ritchie and Elliot are a hysterically funny duo with their endless fascination with the lewd and the morbid. A must read for music-loving, angst-ridden young fools of any age.


If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan

If You Could Be Mine
by Sara Farizan

In Iran, it’s a crime to fall in love with someone of the same sex. Sahar remembers the photos of the public hangings, two boys who were rumored to be lovers. But she and her best friend, Nasrin, have loved each other since they were children. Now Nasrin is facing an arranged marriage to a handsome young doctor, and Sahar cannot bear it. There is one crazy, drastic solution: Sexual reassignment surgery is legal in Iran. Is that an answer for Sahar, or is it too great a sacrifice, even for the love of her life?



Far Far Away by Tom McNeal

Far Far Away  
by Tom McNeal

Jeremy Johnson Johnson has a secret; the ghost of Jacob Grimm speaks inside his head. Jacob Grimm is good company, as far as ghosts go, with his endless tales and sage advice. But when a Jeremy’s attention is captured by a high-spirited girl named Ginger, Grimm’s council is sadly unheeded. With little more than a few missteps, Jeremy and Ginger’s playful adventures are replaced by unspeakable danger, like the darkness of a German forest as it envelops lost children. Like Grimm’s own tales, Far Far Away reveals the poison in the magical Prince Cakes, the evil behind a cheery countenance.



More Than This by Patrick Ness

More Than This
by Patrick Ness

After his death, Seth wakes up in a strange world that is a decrepit and empty version of the one he once knew. Is it real? Seth is not sure how to find out. His nightmares bring  back the most painful moments of his life, which involve a horrible tragedy that he longs to forget. There are twists aplenty in this multi-dimensional novel from Ness, who established his credentials in dark fantasy with the Chaos Walking trilogy.




Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity 
by Elizabeth Wein 

Wein’s award-winning novel is a complex tale of espionage set in World War II. “Verity” is an accomplished spy for the Allies who has been captured by Nazis in occupied France. She is given ink and paper and instructed to write out everything she knows about the British war effort, or face tortuous interrogation. The story she spins tells of Maddie, a skilled female pilot who flew missions for the British, and of Maddie’s friendship with the mercurial Queenie. Not exactly what the SS-Hauptsurmfuhrer ordered. It’s not an easy story, terrible things happened to captured spies, but fans of historical suspense will be entranced by interplay of secret identities and loyalties of the heart.



Ladies’ Home Journal Comes to an End

By , April 26, 2014

You may have heard this week that the Ladies’ Home Journal will no longer be published as a monthly publication (it will be quarterly) as of July 2014, after over 130 years in existence.  This news sent me straight to the stacks of bound periodicals to indulge in a little nostalgia while looking at Nashville Public Library’s collection of Ladies’ Home Journal magazines.  In the 3rd floor Reference department at the Main library, we currently have Ladies’ Home Journal going back to December 1892, just 9 years after it started in 1883.

Volume 10 in our collection, with the December 1892-November 1893 issues, is chock full of stories (a serial by author William Dean Howells), poems, articles on topics like fashion, beauty, etiquette and entertaining, home-making, marriage and parenting.  Some interesting features in these issues include:


“A Christmas With Dickens” – December 1892.
Part of a series called “My Father as I Recall Him” by Mamie Dickens.


A series called “Clever Daughters of Clever Men.”
The January 1893 edition featured “Hawthorne’s Daughter.”


A fashion article titled “Dressing Without the Corset” from July 1893 - the magazine gives some attention to the dress reform movement and offers attractive and “decent” ways of dressing without the use of the corset.



Finally, in addition to the great articles and stories, the magazine is full of ads that give a great idea of what the lives and interests of the readers must have been at the time. In these issues,  there are ads for beauty and health aids, clothing,corsets (of course), housekeeping conveniences, gardening supplies, and more.

One thing not to be found advertised – patent medicinces.  In 1892, the Ladies’ Home Journal began refusing to print ads for patent medicines, a very popular source of advertising revenue at the time.



It would take many more posts to describe how integral the Ladies’ Home Journal was to women’s interests and lifestyles over the years.  Just to leave you with a taste, I’ve included some of the more iconic covers from its 130 years in publication:

  • October 1895, the first color cover.
  • February 1903, one of many by Charles Dana Gibson featuring the Gibson Girl.
  • February 1904, the first celebrity cover, featuring a sketch of Ethel Barrymore.
  • April 1932, one of many Norman Rockwell covers.
  • October 1946, the debut of the slogan that became synonymous with Ladies’ Home Journal.

To learn more about the history of women’s magazines, check out one of these books from the library:



Fairy Tale Fiction

By , April 24, 2014

This May, Disney will take a walk on the dark side with its film MaleficentA “Sleeping Beauty” tale told from the perspective of the villainous Maleficent and the events that hardened her heart and drove her to curse young Princess Aurora. To get us into the mood for all things Maleficent, a listing of fairy tale inspired fiction…..






Beauty: A Novel

By Susan Wilson

“When Alix Miller takes off for a remote spot in New Hampshire to paint a portrait of the reclusive aristocrat Leland Crompton, nothing has prepared her for what’s in store.”


Black Swan, White Raven

Edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

“This critically acclaimed anthology features modern retellings of fairy tales by some of today’s best writers, including John Crowley, Joyce Carol Oates, Pat Murphy, Nancy Kress, Jane Yolen.”


Briar Rose

By Jane Yolen

“Ever since she was a child, Rebecca has been enchanted by her grandmother Gemma’s stories about Briar Rose. A promise Rebecca makes to her dying grandmother will lead her on a remarkable journey.”


Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister

By Gregory Maguire

“A brilliant and provocative retelling of the timeless Cinderella tale.”


The Crane Wife

By Patrick Ness

“A magical novel, based on a Japanese folk tale,  about a broken-hearted man who is transformed when he rescues an injured white crane.”


The Fairest of Them All

By Carolyn Turgeon

“In an enchanted forest, the maiden Rapunzel’s beautiful voice captivates a young prince hunting nearby. Overcome, he climbs her long golden hair to her tower and they spend an afternoon of passion together, but by nightfall the prince must return to his kingdom, and his betrothed.”


Mermaid: a Twist on the Classic Tale

By Carolyn Turgeon

“A surprising take on the classic tale, Mermaid is the story of two women with everything to lose. Beautifully written and compulsively readable, it will make you think twice about the fairytale you heard as a child, keeping you in suspense until the very last page.”


Mirror Mirror

By Gregory Maguire

“A lyrical work of stunning creative vision, Mirror Mirror gives fresh life to the classic story of Snow White.”


Mirror, Mirror

By J.D. Robb, Mary Blayney, Elaine Fox, Mary Kay McComas and R.C. Ryan

“Five romantic suspense novellas based on fairy tales.”


Six-Gun Snow White

By Catherynne M. Valente

“A retelling of “Snow White” set in the “gritty gun-slinging west.”


While Beauty Slept

By Elizabeth Blackwell

“This retelling of “Sleeping Beauty” by debut novelist Elizabeth Blackwell is faithful to the original while offering a fresh interpretation.”


- Karen






A Book and Some Tunes Girls Like

By , April 22, 2014

Record Collecting for Girls
By Courtney Smith

Ok, if you were stranded on a desert island and could only listen to five albums for the rest of your life, what would they be? Or list the Top 10 Rock Songs with Flute (hello, Jethro Tull)? Anyone who has seen High Fidelity or spent 5 minutes in a real record store has either played this game or heard it played – usually by boys. Author Courtney Smith used to work at MTV, and she thinks girls should get to play too. So pick your favorite category: Where Have All the Girls Bands Gone?, Making Out with Romeo and Juliet, or The Smiths Syndrome. Hmm…I think I’ll take Rock N Roll Consorts for $200, Alex.

At the end of each section, Smith has assembled her own topic specific playlist and they span quite a few diverse genres. This book is as fun for exploring her playlists as it is for reading. In the spirit of Record Collecting for Girls, I put together my Top 5 Guilty Pleasures of Right Now (they may change in five minutes). You can listen to all of these courtesy of NPL – some in CD form, some from freegal. Here they are, in no particular order:

Hall & Oates – Private Eyes (freegal)
When I was little, I used to think this song was “Privatize. We’re watching you.” Think about it…

Phil Collins – Sussudio
To this day, I still have no idea what this song is about. It’s a catchy tune though. O oh.

Miley Cyrus – Party in the USA
You can thank Pitch Perfect for this one.

Lady Gaga – Do What You Want
I hate the message of this song, but it’s very peppy.

Cake – The Distance (freegal)
I love the singer’s deadpan delivery. It’s like he’s reading the Nightly News.

Think I’m geeky? Think you can do better? Ok, Mr. or Ms. Smarty-Music Pants, post your Top Five Guilty Pleasures in the comments and see what the world thinks.

Why should we listen to new (or old) music? Because it’s there.

Happy Collecting…

:) Amanda

Book review: Odd one out: a spotting book

By , April 18, 2014

Odd one out: a spotting book
by Britta Teckentrup
Mothers who read to their children are to be praised, certainly.

Mothers who stifle yawns upon reading and re-reading Brown Bear, brown bear are to be admired.

Mothers who admit to being bored with cookie cutter, sickly sweet pictures books are to be celebrated.

Odd one out: a spotting book  by Britta Teckentrup is a brand spanking new picture book classic. The German born artist illustrator presents simple repetitions in new ways that will intrigue both the child and the parent (or sibling or aunt or whoever has the pleasure of sharing this book with little ones).

Patterned prints avoid the predictable practice of oversimplifying the search for the “hidden” object.  This is one smart and savvy picture book to be celebrated! At least for the first five hundred re-readings.


“When I say to a parent, “read to a child”, I don’t want it to sound like medicine. I want it to sound like chocolate. ”  — Mem Fox

Oh, boy! New kids’ books!

By , April 12, 2014

Boys are notoriously picky readers. They hit a certain age and don’t want to read stories about “girl stuff,” whatever that is.  

Enter Wimpy Kid and Captain Underpants. These curiously named favorites are hard to keep on the library shelf, and have engaged all kids of late – picky boys especially. Readers of these doodle-heavy books have made it clear they like funny stories about average kids finding themselves in zany predicaments.

I recently read these two new(ish) chapter books, and immediately thought of those choosy readers. The stories are engaging and funny, and will hold the attention spans of even the most easily distracted. While those certain hard-to-please young men came to mind first, I’d stand behind these recommendations to anyone looking for a couple good reads.

Game Over, Pete Watson by Joe Schreiber

Pete Watson sells his dad’s old CommandRoid video game (think Nintendo – your childhood technological marvel is now fodder for old guy jokes) to a nefarious character. Chaos ensues and Pete realizes his dad is now trapped in an old school video game. Will Pete be able to use his modern day gamer skills to rescue his dad and save the world from obliteration? Read, laugh, and find out. Video Game lovers in Grades 2-5 will really get into this book. As of this blog post, it’s currently available from NPL through Overdrive only.


Tesla's Attic

Tesla’s Attic by Neal Shusterman and Eric Elfman

This is the story of Nick Slate – a 14-year-old Colorado transplant who gets hit in the head by a toaster, thus changing the course of his life and the fate of the world. 

Okay. Clearly I’m not going to be able to explain this in a way that sounds remotely normal, so maybe you can just trust me on this?  In this book, the characters feel inexplicably drawn to various inventions, and I felt inexplicably drawn to keep reading. Conspiracy? I think so. Unless it was the great writing, exciting plot, and fascinating characters. This is book one of a forthcoming trilogy. Hook readers now and they’ll be lining up for the next one.  Best for fifth graders and up.


Helping Nashville Grow: NPL Seed Exchange

By , April 11, 2014

When the staff at Nashville Public Library tell you books are only half the story, we’re not joking.  Check out seeds from your favorite library.  That’s right gardeners – seeds!  We launched the Nashville Public Library Seed Exchange just a month ago, and over 200 Nashvillians have already “checked out” seeds to plant in their spring and summer gardens.  It’s not too late for you to put your green thumb to use.  Read on to find out how!

Seeds are available for checkout (with your NPL library card-best card in your wallet!) from the Bellevue, Bordeaux, Edmondson Pike, and Inglewood branches. At the end of growing season, you’re encouraged to give back to the NPL Seed Exchange by returning seeds from your strongest, county fair prize-winning plants to one of our seed exchange locations, becoming a supporter of NPL Seed Exchange  2015!  But if your garden is attacked by a family of zombie rabbits, no worries.  There are no fines in Seed Exchange.

Perhaps you’ve never tried to grow plants from seeds before.  NPL has many wonderful  gardening books  to check out with those seeds. Workshops are also being offered at every Seed Exchange location.

  • Bellevue: Seed Starting 101 for Kids. Saturday 4/26 @ 1:00 p.m.
  • Bordeaux: Raised Bed Workshop.  Saturday 4/26 @ 9:00 a.m.
  • Inglewood:  Seed and Seedling Swap.  Saturday 5/3 @ 1:00 p.m.
  • Bordeaux:  Square Foot Gardening. Tuesday 5/20 @ 6:00 p.m.
  • Edmondson Pike:  Wise Watering. Tuesday 6/24 @ 6:00 p.m.

NPL Seed Exchange librarians tell me they have plenty of seeds left:  beans, squash, okra, spinach, carrots, peppers, melons, turnips, and every backyard gardener’s favorite – tomatoes!  They also send a big shout-out to community partners who donated this year’s seed collection:  Bells Bend Farms, Delvin Farms, Hands on Nashville, and the Davidson County Master Gardeners.

Be sure to like and follow NPL Seed Exchange on Facebook for all the latest information on upcoming workshops and more.  We are working to win a $20,000 grant from Seeds of Change but we need your help!   Vote for Nashville Public Library Seed Exchange once per calendar day until April 21, 2014.  And tell all your family and friends about the latest totally awesome reason to get a library card!


Book review: Paper Cutting: Contemporary Artists Timeless Craft

By , April 10, 2014

Paper Cutting: Contemporary Artists Timeless Craft

Compiled by Laura Heyenga


If you have ever wanted to try your hand at the art of paper cutting then this book is for you! Paper Cutting: Contemporary Artists Timeless Craft complied by Laura Heyenga features 27 artists creating artwork of such ethereal beauty that it is hard to believe that it was created using a simple pair of scissors.

Some of the featured artists are Cindy Ferguson, a graphic designer influenced by traditional German paper cutting, she creates beautiful silhouettes inspired by nature.  Thomas Allen, who describes himself as “an artist, illustrator and gentleman farmer,” he uses images from vintage pulp fiction covers to make his altered books come alive. And Juken Teruya, a Japanese artist who uses everyday objects like toilet paper rolls and fast food paper bags to create delicate and intricate sculptures of distinct beauty.


This book will amaze you!


- Karen


If you like Paper Cutting: Contemporary Artists Timeless Craft then you may also enjoy:

1   Scherenschnitte- Susanne Schlapfer-Geiser

2   Mexican Papercutting-   Kathleen Trenchard

3.  Paper Cuts: 35 Inventive Projects – Taylor Hagety




Book list: Movies that Made Me Want to Read the Book

By , April 9, 2014

Usually it works the other way around, but here are some films that left me thinking, “man, I bet the book was good.” Maybe only a librarian would ever think that.


Ryan Gosling in that satin scorpion jacket is the sexiest thing I’ve seen since… well, maybe it is the sexiest thing I have ever seen. Tension sears between golden boy (Gosling) and pretty girl’s husband (Oscar Isaac), between frenemy mob boss 1 (Albert Brooks) and frenemy mob boss 2 (Ron Perlman), and between golden boy and the born to lose mechanic (Bryan Cranston) that gets him gummed up with frenemy mob bosses to begin with. Christina Hendricks is in it too. That’s cast magic and pretty much the film’s appeal. High-on-sincerity-low-on-realism sultry silent type takes on mob for sake of pretty girl is territory we have all explored before. Nicolas Winding Refn’s style is all about absence and what’s left unsaid. It’s kind of like Hal Hartley (remember him?) directed a crime movie. What gets abstracted into silence on screen is more often than not potent interiority on the page – the kind of stuff that won’t translate without resorting to regrettable voice over. I desperately want to get inside James Sallis’ novel. There is always the possibility that Sallis’ prose are as stripped and spare as the script and the film is a worthy adaptation. I still want to read the book. Every time golden boy doesn’t say anything I’ll get to imagine Ryan Gosling standing there in that jacket.

The Paperboy

It would be hard to get more sexual but less sexy than Nicole Kidman in The Paperboy. With big hair, a bigger libido, and a fetish for prison inmates, her character Charlotte seems transplanted from a John Waters movie. Kudos to Kidman for not shying away from extreme roles in recent years; e.g., Rabbit Hole, Stoker. Though Charlotte is a car crash that is hard to ignore, I’m more fascinated by Ward (Matthew McConaughey) the “paperboy” in question. He’s a big city newspaper writer who comes back to his small town to break the story of a lifetime. In tow is his “associate” Yardley (David Oyelowo). Their relationship has sinister undertones. This backstory feels de-emphasized in favor of Charlotte’s Jerry Springer antics. Maybe their story is fleshed out more in Pete Dexter’s novel? I hope so. From a producer’s point of view I can see how Kidman going bimbo cougar is money in the bank but perhaps they should have heeded the words of Morrissey, “stop me, stop me, stop me, if you think you’ve heard this one before.” Oh yeah, what happens? All these people have weird Southern Gothic obsessions and everything blows up in their faces. I bet the book is great.

The Fellowship of the Ring

Just kidding. I read this a hundred times before I reluctantly saw the movie. Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the Lord of the Rings trilogy transcended everyone’s expectations but if for some unknowable, inexcusable reason you have not read J.R.R. Tolkien’s world changing fantasy classic you’ll get to experience the devilish wonderment that is meeting Tom Bombadil for the first time. Take a beloved character and cut them from the movie! Go Hollywood! Besides, this excellent book will take the bad Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey taste out of your mouth.

Have you ever watched a movie that made you want to read the book it was based on?


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