Dana A.

Portrait of a Sister

Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Laura Bradford

Dana A., Admin is reading...Portrait of a Sister 

Top gear: from A to Z

Friday, September 14, 2018

Diane M., Admin is watching...Top gear: from A to Z

Antique Blues

Monday, June 25, 2018
Jane Cleland
Antique Blues

Dana A., Admin, is reading...ANTIQUE BLUES

The Indigo Girl

Tuesday, February 27, 2018
Natasha Boyd
The Indigo Girl

I happened upon this novel in the NEW BOOKS area at HCDL.  I was intrigued by the "indigo" component since I'm a quilter/crafter and knew enough about it to be dangerous.  As it happens, this novel is based on the true story of Eliza Lucas Pinckney who developed indigo as a major cash crop in South Carolina which helped fund the American Revolution and America's independence.  Most of the characters are real and the events are taken from her own personal journals which include records and parts of her correspondence.

In 1739, Eliza is sixteen years old when she is left in charge of managing her family's land near Charles Town, SC as her father returned to fight the Spanish in Antigua.  She has a strong interest in botany and tried to find new crops to raise money to keep the family holdings intact as her father has mortgaged them to earn his commission in the military.  Eliza faces many obstacles as a young woman and is deliberately undermined on several occasions. She is also keenly aware that even if her efforts succeed, her brother will be taking over his inheritance and she has no legal claim to the property.  The challenges she faces are very frustrating and I enjoyed the fiery temperament that she displays at times when she reaches her limit.

I did struggle with her unusual fixation on a former childhood friend from Antigua who is a slave and later comes to South Carolina to help with the indigo harvest and production. He obviously does not view her in the same light now that they are grown and I found this relationship irritating.  Also, I was raised in the South and have know about the limitations for women but still found it frustrating to see Eliza bound by her gender when she was obviously a bright and competent woman.  Our world isn't perfectly balanced now but we certainly have more rights and privileges than our predecessors.

Although this story ends when she is a young woman, a short epilogue follows with a brief synopsis of her remaining years.  She is well respected and lived a fairly long life before succumbing to cancer at 70.  President George Washington volunteered to be a pallbearer at her funeral.  Two of her sons went on to fame - one as a Founding Father and representative for SC at the the Constitutional Convention and another who authored the Pinckney Treaty which gave the young country use of the Mississippi River and established the boundary between the United States and the Spanish colonies.  The current state flag of SC remains blue as a tribute to its history and the importance of indigo.

Although there were moments in this fictional account of Eliza's life that irked me, I find her an intriguing character.  I can't begin to understand how she managed to run a successful growing operation in the heat and humidity of South Carolina especially encumbered by being female and while wearing a hoop skirt!  She definitely has my admiration! 

This book has inspired me to further research indigo and Eliza's life and honestly, I feel like that's an excellent selling point for any book. Check our catalog http://hcdlils.howelllibrary.org/search~S4?/tindigo+girl/tindigo+girl/1%2C2%2C3%2CB/frameset&FF=tindigo+girl+a+novel&1%2C%2C2/indexsort=-

The library also has an audiobook version available as well. http://hcdlils.howelllibrary.org/search~S4?/tindigo+girl/tindigo+girl/1%2C2%2C3%2CB/frameset&FF=tindigo+girl+a+novel&2%2C%2C2/indexsort=-

Dana, Administration


Becoming Amish

Thursday, December 14, 2017
Jeff Smith
Becoming Amish

I have been intrigued by the Amish since I was first introduced to them as a young teen on a family vacation in Pennsylvania Dutch country.  I was astonished by their dress and that they used horse and buggies for transportation.  Years went by and I decided to take a solo vacation and as a single femail, wanted to go somewhere that semed relatively safe.  Low and behold, I received some literature on northern Indiana and their Amish area which seemed like a good place.  As it turns out, I met the woman that introduced me to my husband on the same trip but that's another story but I guess I owe some credit to the Amish for luring me that way!

Based on my fascination with the Amish, this was a "must read" for me when I saw it in our library.  While I have admired much about the group, I don't believe I could make the transition so I was curious about someone who was able to break away from all things modern and step back to a much simpler life.  This book tells the story of a family that originally lived in Livonia, Michigan and as childeren started coming along, they felt that need to keep their family close together and find a way for them to remain that way.  They initially moved to live more conservatively in the Thumb area of Michigan and tried to find a fellowship of other people with similar belief systems.  After visiting a number of places, they decided they wanted to move to an Old Order Amish community in Ovid, MI and become members of their church.  At that time, they had three children and only the oldest, a son named Tristan who was 12, has clear memories of the transition.  Oddly enough, when asked about the change, he doesn't focus on losing the TV or car but remarks on friendship with other children and the freedom that was granted as they lived in a safe community. 

I was surprised at the fact that the family made several moves during their years with the Amish.  I was under the assumption that most Amish stayed in their local communities although some marry and move and others have moved to places with more affordable land, etc. I have heard of splits within groups over technology or simply dividing church groups that have grown too large. (Most Amish church groups only have about 20 families) I didn't know that a number of communities have simply failed and the members have been forced to relocate.  Surprisingly, they seem to be much more mobile than I realized.  They have apparently been successful about keeping technology out of their homes although they certainly seem to be adapting it more in their businesses. 

In an effort not to give away everything in the book, I won't tell you about the family's biggest struggle but suffice it to say, it's definately significant and would negatively impact most people who were considering making a lifestyle change.  I still find the Amish amazing and even lucky to have such a focus on their faith, family and community.  It's definately an interesting read for anyone interested in the Amish.  Check our catalog

Dana, Admin


Thursday, December 7, 2017
Dan Brown

Once again, Dan Brown writes a fast-paced and extremely detailed novel featuring Harvard Professor Robert Langdon.  This one takes place in Spain and involves an astonishing breakthrough by one of his former students, Edmond Kirsch, who is a billionaire futurist with a renowned global reputation for accurate predictions of upcoming mathematical and financial events.  Mr. Kirsch plans an extravagant event at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao where he plans to unveil the answers to the fundamental questions of human existence which are “where do we come from” and “where are we going?”  In the middle of his presentation, just before he reveals the first answer, he is assassinated.  The director of the Guggenheim, Ambra Vidal, who is also the fiancée to the heir apparent to the Spanish throne, and Prof. Langdon realize that an intricate plot is unfolding to prevent Edmond’s presentation and the possible conspiracy involves everyone from the Spanish throne to powerful figures in the local Catholic Church. They must stay ahead of the Royal Guard, news teams, and various police units while trying determine who the real players are in this life and death saga. 

As with his other novels, I found myself spending a great deal of time looking up the actual places and details which he tells you are all real.  (I think that all of his novels should be like the later edition of The DaVinci Code and come with the pictures of the actual buildings, artwork, etc. as it would save a lot of time!)  In this case, I didn’t enjoy the “science” and “computer” parts of the novel as much as I enjoy the history and while Edmond’s break-through was supposed to “disprove” the involvement of God or a spiritual being in our development, I wasn’t completely convinced with his rational or methodology and it does not allow for the possibility that there is still a combination of coming from primordial soup along with some divine intervention.  However, the future is very disconcerting and very realistic. His theory and some of his theories are completely accurate. It makes me very happy that I’ve probably reached my halfway point (or beyond) and hopefully won’t be around to see it come to fruition! 

I read the large print version because the wait time was shorter but we have the book in regular print and as an audiobook as well.  Check our catalog 

Dana, Administrative Clerk





Button Holed

Monday, October 30, 2017
Kylie Logan
Button Holed

This is the first in the Button Box Mystery series and introduces the reader to Josie Giancola who is an expert in buttons and the owner of the newly opened Button Box store in Chicago.  Josie has helped design costumes for a cult classic film and through the director, has come to the attention of a rising starlet Kate Franciscus, who is currently designing her wedding gown.  Ms. Franciscus returns early for a second appointment with Josie and is mysteriously murdered while Josie's assistant has popped into a neighboring shop.  When an errant button is discovered in the aftermath, the police ask Josie to help them locate the source and hopefully the killer. Between juggling her ex-husband and the investigating detective, with whom she's had an unsuccessful blind date, Josie tries to balance crime-solving and running her new business.  Although there are some unbelievable moments, there are some nice twists and the solution isn't completely obvious.  I plan to follow up this debut with the next installment HOT BUTTON, which is also owned by Howell Carnegie Library. This book was in a LARGE PRINT format. Check our catalog

Dana, Administration



Through the Grinder

Friday, September 29, 2017
Cleo Coyle
Through the Grinder

In honor of National Coffee Day, I'm posting a recent blog on Through the Grinder by Cleo Coyle.  I recently went to Costa Rica and decided a cozy mystery about coffee seemed like the perfect reading material.  I started Ms. Coyle's Coffeehouse Mystery series with book 1, On What Grounds which I personally owned. (The library does not currently have a copy but it can be requested through MeL).  It was fairly well done and I decided to continue on with Through the Grinder which is in the HCDL collection.  The second book continues with the story of Clare Cosi who has recently moved back to New York City to manage the Village Blend Coffee Shop in SoHo.  When her nineteen-year old daughter decides to try some dating sites, Clare, who is divorced, decides she will register too in order to screen some of the applicants.  Clare meets a number of people associated with the sites and finds that many of them have some quirky traits.  Clare makes a personal romantic connection with one special man and is dismayed when he is identified as a prominent suspect in the deaths of several women. The deaths have been ruled suicides but seem suspicious. She is determined to prove that he isn't a heartless killer and enlists the help of her ex-husband to track down potential suspects.  The ending comes together at a frantic pace as they race to find their daughter who seems to be directly in the killer's sights.  Ms. Coyle does an admirable job in casting red herrings and providing multiple suspects.

There are many coffee tips sprinkled throughout the book and some tasty sounding recipes included at the end.  I certainly found myself craving coffee!  Ms. Coyle's series continues with Latte Trouble which is available at HCDL on audiobook. Check our catalog

Dana A., Admin

The Fragment

Monday, August 21, 2017
Davis Bunn
The Fragment

This work of Christian Historical Fiction takes place in the early 1920s and introduces us to Muriel Ross, a young woman who works as a research fellow at the Smithsonian. In a time when women have just earned the vote and are slowly entering the work force, she has been unknowingly guided by a close family friend to develop the necessary skills to make her valuable on his life quest which is to identify a reliquary holding a piece of the true cross.

Their journey for this relic takes them to Paris and Constantinople during a politically volatile time and the danger makes this an Indiana Jones-type adventure.  Visiting the shop of Coco Chanel for couture fashions, exacting details of the war-torn people and places, and the impending threat of Ataturk's encroaching forces add realistic elements and completes a broader picture.  Muriel's talents as a photographer, her down-to-earth mannerisms and world view open doors to unusual places, and her compassion helps to bridge gaps even when language is a barrier.

This book ends with Muriel and her mentor, Senator Thomas Byron, back in D.C. seemingly with the potential for further adventure.  It will be interesting to see if Mr. Bunn intends this story to become a series.  Check our catalog.

Dana A, Reference

A Fall of Marigolds

Friday, July 14, 2017
Susan Meissner
A Fall of Marigolds

A moving time-travel tale that vaccillates between the two most tragic events in the history of New York City. The story begins in September 2011 with Taryn, who has just lost her husband in the 911 attacks on the World Trade Center. It soon interchanges with Clara, who is a nurse at Ellis Island and has lost a potential suitor in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911. The two stories are woven together by a sense of love, loss, and hope and are connected physically by a scarf which becomes pivotal in both of women's lives. I found myself fulfilling the author's wish to "keep you up at night" as I stayed up until 3 AM on the night I finished reading the book. I was anxious to learn the outcome for both women. This story is an interesting and believable work of Historic Fiction.  Similar in style to Marie Bostwick's Field of Gold and On Wings of the Morning.  I will definitely read other books by Mrs. Meissner!  Check our Catalog

Dana, Reference