Friday, December 30, 2011

Moss Bluff Book Chat: December 6, 2011

Below is a summary of our discussion on our November “Book of the Month” South of Broad by Pat Conroy .

South of Broad follows the lives of a small group of eccentric friends from Charleston, South Carolina – spanning from the 1960s to the 1980s.

Readers noted that the book’s setup takes a painstakingly long time. Conroy spends a great deal of time detailing and describing Charleston before giving readers any actual plot – leading to some readers’ not finishing the novel at all.

The majority of those who were able to finish shared the feeling that the book had plenty of interesting characters and developments – including one final twist that surprised everyone. However, the plots were poorly intertwined and usually lacked solid resolutions. Some members of the group suggested that the book may have worked better as separate novels.

Find a copy of the novel at your local branch or in our Digital Collection!

Have you already read South of Broad, or some other Pat Conroy work? If so, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Crafts @ your library: Christmas Trees

Hi everyone! We recently did a Christmas craft program at Central library and here is a tutorial on one of the Christmas trees we displayed. It's easy and you can use any colors that match your decor!

Supplies you need:
10 inch Styrofoam cone
2 inch circle punch
Craft knife or pencil to curl your circles

The only thing you need that isn't pictured is the Styrofoam cone, which you can purchase at a craft store like Hobby Lobby or Michaels.

Let's get started!

Step one: Cut out a bunch of circles with your circle punch. I ended up using 3 or 4 12x12 cardstock pages--I'm sorry I can't remember exactly! I used 3 different patterns in the same color scheme, but you could do a solid tree and it would look pretty as well.

Step two: Remove your blade from your craft knife.

Step three: Curl your circles around your craft knife.

They should end up looking something like this!

Step four: Add a touch of hot glue to the edge of your circle and attach it to your cone at the bottom. Make a complete ring around the cone and then begin a layer of circles just above.

Step five: Once you reach the top, make a cone out of two circles to complete the top of your tree.

Step six: Enjoy your beautiful decoration! Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Central Book Club: A Redbird Christmas

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg is a light little tale that extols the virtues of small town communities. Healing is a central theme of this book as the main character, Oswald Campbell must move south to a warmer climate to extend his life, which is threatened by emphasema. But it is not only physical ailments that take their toll on Mr. Campbell. An orphan named after a can of soup, he has no one in his life except for a kind ex-wife whom he does not wish to bother. He lives off of government pension and only gets out of his tiny apartment to attend AA meetings. Moving to Lost River, Oswald  is given the opportunity to be a part of a close community of people which heals his ailments and mends his soul.

Fannie Flagg, with the help of a little redbird named Jack, tells a tale that will uplift your spirit and make you believe in the power of community to overcome whatever is thrown their way.
Check out this book from your local library branch here!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Check it Out: Salvage the Bones

Recent winner of the National Book Award, Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward details twelve days in the life of a Mississippi family caught up in the devastating path of Hurricane Katrina.

Read more about this novel:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Moss Bluff Book Chat: November 1, 2011

Below is a summary of our discussion on our October “Book of the Month” The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.

The novel The Thirteenth Tale follows biographer Margaret Lea, who receives the opportunity to write a full-access biography on the acclaimed and notoriously elusive author Vida Winter. The novel’s author, Diane Setterfield, invokes gothic elements and style reminiscent of Charlotte and Emily Bronte as she slowly unravels Vida’s deepest and darkest secrets.

Readers in our group were rather divided: some quickly lost interest and found the writing to be overly-detailed, while others ultimately enjoyed the novel despite the challenge to complete it at times. Fans also cited various plot holes in the book but were still appreciative of the majority of the novel’s story, including its big twist.

The Thirteenth Tale is not for everyone, but Setterfield does successfully execute gothic style enough to satisfy most Bronte fans.

Find a copy of the novel at your local branch!

Have you already read The Thirteenth Tale? If so, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

(Image from:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Staff Pick: The Night Circus

I couldn't tell you exactly what prompted me to push Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus to the front of my 'to read' queue, but I'm so glad I did. This novel leisurely tells the story of two young people pitted against each other in a test of magical stamina. The playing field is the circus, which always shows up unannounced and only opens from dusk to dawn. As the contest advances over the years, the young magicians fall for each other, only to discover that the only way to win their contest is to outlive the other.

The real magic in this book is in the descriptions Morgenstern writes. One almost has the sense of actually walking around the circus and visiting the cloud tent, where circus goers can actually walk on clouds; or visiting the ice garden, where the ice never melts no matter the temperature. Each tent at the circus transforms from a strategic move in a game neither understands, to a wondrous love letter created from one to the other.

The pacing of this novel feels like taking a walk in the park on a cool autumn day. As such, I won't recommend this to those of you who like action packed, complicated plot lined novels. I will recommend this to people who like: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Baz Luhrmann movies (Moulin Rouge, Romeo+Juliet, Strictly Ballroom), and Big Fish.

Find it at your library!

Reviewed by Samantha

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

National Novel Writing Month

November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo! Are you one of the many writers who try to compose a 50,000 word novel in 30 days? If so, here are a few resources that may be helpful to you. Also don't forget that our libraries are filled with comfortable tables and outlets for you to plug into.

On the web:

On our shelves:

Find in the Library!

Find in the Library!

Find it at the Library!

Find it at the Library!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Moss Bluff Book Chat: October 4, 2011

Below is a summary of our discussion on the September “Book of the Month:” People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks.

In People of the Book rare book conservator Hanna Heath as she takes on the huge opportunity to evaluate the condition of the recently rediscovered Sarajevo Haggadah. During her analysis, Hanna finds mysterious signs and objects, whose histories are explored in interspersed sections throughout the novel.

The novel found favor with the majority of our group, but a few members did admit it proved difficult to delve into. Brooks' strengths are rooted in historical fiction, and she vividly captures diverse eras in time: from the Holocaust back to the Middle Ages. Brooks' narratives, however, are rooted in a vast amount of details, which caused a few of the readers to lose interest.

Ultimately, readers who finished the book greatly enjoyed it and appreciated its recurring theme of amity across cultures. People of the Book can be a dense read at times, but is rewarding to both history buffs and bibliophiles alike.

Find a copy of the novel at your local branch!

If you’ve already read People of the Book, feel free to share your thoughts on the novel in the comments. Agree or disagree with the Book Club? Let us know!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Staff Pick: Garden Spells

Garden Spells
by Sarah Addison Allen

In Allen’s charming debut novel, Sydney Waverly arrives on her sister Claire’s doorstep with a five-year-old daughter in tow after ten years of estrangement. Claire has built a successful catering business using flowers and herbs from the weird and wonderful garden behind the family home, while Sydney has made a life out of ignoring the fact she was born with Waverly gifts. Claire can whip up a meal that helps people keep secrets and bake cupcakes that make children thoughtful, but she has a harder time relating to people around her. Sydney is adjusting to life back at home, trying to forget her troubled past and mend fences. Rounding out the cast of characters is Evanelle, an elderly woman who give gifts to people before they know they need them, and an apple tree that throws fruit at people. Garden Spells is a light, entertaining read about family and romance with a slight dusting of magic.

You can look to see if Garden Spells is checked in at our library catalog here.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Celebrate Your Freedom to Read!

(ALA 2011) -Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week. BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.

The books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings. Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections. Imagine how many more books might be challenged—and possibly banned or restricted—if librarians, teachers, and booksellers across the country did not use Banned Books Week each year to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society.

For more information on banned and challenged material check out:

Monday, September 19, 2011

Moss Bluff Book Chat: September 6, 2011

Below is a summary of our discussion on the August “Book of the Month:” Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.

Water for Elephants follows Jacob Jankowski, now in his nineties, remembering his time as a vet with a struggling circus during the Great Depression. Gruen’s extensive research shows in her ability to capture the circus atmosphere and lifestyle of that time period.

Readers had an overall positive response to the novel, which most agreed was an interesting piece of historical fiction. While Gruen’s details and descriptions of the circus aspect of the story are admirable, the group all noted how wonderfully she handled an elderly character. Many agreed that such a realistic and positive depiction of an older character is unfortunately very rare in contemporary literature.

You can find copies of the novel at your local branch or in our digital collection!

If you’ve already read Water for Elephants, feel free to share your thoughts on the novel in the comments. Agree or disagree with the Book Club? Let us know!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Check It Out!

New to our collection this week:
 The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson

"Caleb and Camille Fang are performance artists who set up unsettling situations in public places. Their two children, Annie and Buster, have been trained from birth to participate in these events. As they mature the children realize that their lives are not exactly normal. Their attempts to break away from their parents are unsuccessful until their parents disappear. Is it a stunt or a tragic accident? Even Annie and Buster can’t say for sure."
Review from Library Journal

Check it out at your library!

Photo from

Monday, August 8, 2011

New DRM-free Format in the Digital Collection!

Great news: the CPPL's Digital Collection now features select eBooks with no DRM! To take advantage of the new format, look for titles available in “Open EPUB” and “Open PDF” ebook formats. Check for the icons with the open green padlock, as seen in the image to the right.

These open/DRM-free eBooks are worth checking out for the additional liberties they offer, most notably the ability to bypass Adobe Digital Editions when transferring the files to your device -- which also means you can save these check outs directly to most popular eReaders. For additional information on this, please click “Read More”.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Moss Bluff Book Discussion for Adults: July 14, 2011

Moss Bluff held a book discussion on The Accidental Tourist, an Anne Tyler classic. The novel follows Macon, a man strongly committed to his routines and habits. Macon’s life becomes upended, however, when he loses his young son – and his marriage.

Readers’ opinions on the novels were sharply split: some hated it, others really liked it. Those who hated the book noted how flaky and shallow all the characters were, which made the book difficult to finish. Readers who liked the book, however, found that it was easier to get through if they knew people in their lives who were similar to the characters. They also agreed that humor was another of Tyler’s strong points.

While her characters may have alienated some readers, they did help Tyler find new fans in others – who have already sought out more of her work.

Have you read The Accidental Tourist? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Find it at your library!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Three Books for Adult Harry Potter Fans

Since its beginning in 1997, J. K. Rowling’s series following the adventures of boy wizard Harry Potter has garnered big fans in all age groups. In celebration of the release of the last cinematic installment of the series, this NPR article recommends three books for adults itching for a little more literary magic. Check them out below!

The Magicians
By: Lev Grossman

Find it at your library!

Ender’s Game
By: Orson Scott Card

Find it at your library!

The Secret History
By: Donna Tartt

Find it at your library!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Moss Bluff Book Discussion for Adults: June 28, 2011

Moss Bluff held a book discussion on The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Anne Shaffer and Annie Barrows. The novel centers on a book club on the island of Guernsey as they recall their time during the German Occupation in World War II.

The book is written entirely in letters sent among several characters. The group approved of the epistolary style, though this led to a shaky start for some readers. Some also had issues with the ending of the novel, which felt like a different book entirely. The disjointed nature of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is, more than likely, due to the split task of its authorship between Shaffer and her niece Barrows, who took over when Shaffer fell ill.

Flaws aside, the novel did prove valuable for a couple different reasons. The first is that it provided a simultaneously interesting and delightful insight into German Occupation for those unfamiliar with the time. Secondly, it revolved around enjoyable characters brought together by the importance of reading in their lives.

Find it at your local branch or in our digital library!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Novel Destinations & Literary Getaways

Heads up! July 15th, this Friday, is the last day to log your books for the Adult Reading Program in order to get some awesome prizes!

Still looking for a good read? Check out this NPR article on “Literary Getaways” and stick with this summer's theme of Novel Destinations. If you're up for some armchair traveling, see the list below for books that the article recommends.

Miss New India
By: Bharati Mukherjee

Find it at your library!

The Magician King
By: Lev Grossman

Find it at your library!

State of Wonder
By: Ann Patchett

Find it at your library!

Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead
By: Sara Gran

Find it at your library!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Get Digital Library Titles on Your Windows Phone!

Great news for library users with Windows phones: Overdrive is now offering an app in the Windows Phone Marketplace! This means you can access and download titles from our digital library – anytime, anywhere. Both eBooks and audiobooks are supported!

Don’t have a Windows phone? Overdrive already offers support for all major mobile operating systems. Check out their list here.

(Image from:

Friday, June 17, 2011

Memorable Fathers in Literature

Father’s Day is this Sunday. Below are a few books featuring great dads to help you get in the celebratory mood.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is perhaps the definitive example of a heroic father figure. His willingness to fight a losing battle in order to stick to his principles makes him unforgettable not only as a father, but as a character in general.

Find it at your library!

Man and Boy by Tony Parsons

The novel Man and Boy features the character Harry Silver, who must learn to care for his son when his wife leaves them. While Harry is far from a perfect father in the beginning, he successfully matures as a parent, as well as a person. Parsons’ writing is simultaneously witty and sentimental, making it a great weekend read.

Find it at your library!

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The Road is not necessarily a useful novel to put you in a celebratory mood, but it does feature an undeniably dedicated dad. Simply referred to as “the father”, the character in McCarthy’s grim, post-apocalyptic work proves that he will do anything to keep his son alive.

Find it at your library!

Share your favorite literary dads in the comments!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Listen Up: It’s National Audiobook Month!

Spend the month of June celebrating National Audiobook Month with the library. Audiobooks are a great way to pass the time while driving – whether it’s for your regular commute or that long summer trip.

Look for audiobooks in your local branch via our catalog. (Tip: To search for audiobooks, do a “Power Search” for Type: BOOKONCD.)

You can also download from a great selection in our digital library!

Feel free to share your favorite audiobooks in the comments! (I’m partial to memoirs read by the actual authors.)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Adult Reading Program 2011: Novel Destinations!

Our adult reading program for Summer 2011 has begun! The theme this year is “Novel Destinations.”

Need to register? Go here. Be sure to log and review all your books by July 15 to get some great prizes!

Not sure which books to read? Check out our Books & Authors resource for titles suited to your interests. Also, browse through some of our past posts for great reads we’ve already highlighted.

Happy Reading!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Blow Me Down!: Learn ter Speak Pirate

Mango Languages is offering a free course, from now until June 30th, in Pirate-speak for ye landlubbers out there wishing to speak like a gentleman o’ fortune.

Remember: you can sign up for a Mango Languages account anytime here. (Just don’t forget your library carrrd!)

In the mood for more pirates, corsairs, and buccaneers? Below are a couple titles worth checking out.

The Pirates Laffite: The Treacherous World of the Corsairs of the Gulf
By: William C. Davis
ISBN: 015100403X

Find it at your library!

Flying the Black Flag: A Brief History of Piracy
By: Alfred S. Bradford
ISBN: 9780275977818

Find it at your library!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Car Maintenance at Your Library

May is National Good Car Keeping Month. For tips and tricks to keep your car in shape, look no further than your library!

One of the many wonderful databases provided by the State Library is the Auto Repair Reference Center. This handy tool allows users to find repair procedures for specific makes and models. It also has plenty of information on general car care.

For those seeking knowledge from print sources, be sure to check out the following books on car maintenance:

Popular Mechanics Complete Car Care Manual
ISBN: 9781588167231
Find it at your library!

Dare to Repair Your Car: A Do-it-herself Guide to Maintenance, Safety, Minor Fix-its, and Talking Shop
By Julie Sussman
ISBN: 0060577002
Find it at your library!

Lucille's Car Care: Everything You Need to Know from Under the Hood--by America's Most Trusted Mechanic
By Lucille Treganowan
ISBN: 0786862017
Find it at your library!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Moss Bluff Book Chat: May 3, 2011

Below is a summary of our discussion on the April “Book of the Month:” Shanghai Girls by Lisa See.

Shanghai Girls is a historical fiction novel that follows two Chinese sisters, Pearl and May, from 1930s China to 1950s America. The sisters must survive ordeal after ordeal: from life-threatening times of war to fighting against racism.

Readers thought the novel was valuable for the aspects of history it depicted. The life of Chinese-Americans through the 1950s is not often examined as thoroughly as See does. Shanghai Girls gives readers a personal look inside the troubles of the time, making them more accessible.

The group also found the book interesting and well-written, though somewhat long at times. See’s strength is her ability to paint vivid and complex characters that keep the audience invested in the story. They are all looking forward to the sequel Dreams of Joy, to be released later this month.

If you’ve already read Shanghai Girls, feel free to share your thoughts on the novel in the comments. Agree or disagree with the Book Club? Let us know!

(Image from: )

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Moss Bluff Book Chat: April 19, 2011

Below are a couple books readers discussed on April 19th.

I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron

I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman is a collection of essays by screenwriter Nora Ephron, famous for Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail. In the humorous essays, Ephron explores various facets about her life as an “older woman.” Fans of Ephron’s movies will enjoy these examples of her wit in written form.

Find it at your library!

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Bossypants is another pick by a funny lady from the entertainment world. Tina Fey’s Bossypants is a memoir with a slight focus on what Fey is asked about the most: her success in comedy. Fey’s book is consistently funny and never ventures into tragic vignettes found in most memoirs.

Find it at your library!

Coastliners by Joanne Harris

Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat, writes about a tiny French island in Coastliners. Madeleine comes home after ten years, to a rather unwelcoming father, and discovers that the rivalry between her hometown and its neighbor has heated up. The French names in Coastliners can make it hard to follow at times, but ultimately the story is very good and worth it.

Find it at your library!

Reminder: Our “Book of the Month” is Shanghai Girls by Lisa see, to be discussed on May 3rd. For more information, please contact the Moss Bluff branch.

(Images from:;;

Monday, April 11, 2011

Moss Bluff Book Chat: April 5, 2011

Our March "Book of the Month" was If the Devil Had a Wife.

Though credited to Frank Mills, If the Devil Had a Wife is the work of Rebecca Stark Nugent. (Frank Mills was her father’s name before he was adopted.) The book covers the little-known scandals of local bigwigs the Stark family. The book centers on questionable activities by Lutcher Stark and his third wife Nelda.

The book’s strength is its elicitation of interesting discussions. The topics our group discussed range from basic ethics to the legal system and always back to family. A shared, and often-repeated, sentiment of the group was how unfathomable some of the actions taken by figures in the book were.

If the Devil Had a Wife will whet the appetite of both readers seeking tidbits of juicy local history and those interested in a rundown of the history of the town of Orange and the Stark Foundation.

Have you read If the Devil Had a Wife? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

The "Book of the Month" for April will be Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. We'll discuss it on May 3, 2011. Contact the Moss Bluff Branch for more info.

Image from:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Moss Bluff Book Chat: March 15th

Below are a few books readers discussed at the March 15th meeting.

Dark Harvest by Karen Harper

Policewoman Kat Lindley goes undercover in the Amish town of Maplecreek, Ohio in order to figure out who is behind recent attacks on the community. Dark Harvest is an interesting story with enough complex characterization to make itself much more than a basic whodunit.

Find it at your library!

The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard

In The Fates Will Find Their Way, 16-year-old Nora disappears one Halloween night. The novel traces the psychological toll this leaves on her peers over the course of 30 years. The book ultimately veers past “different” and into “just plain strange” territory, making it a rather rough read.

Find it at your library!

Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand

Readers wishing to take an early summer trip may be interested in Elin Hilderbrand’s Barefoot, which follows three women vacationing in Nantucket. They are all hoping the getaway will help them escape recent personal struggles in their lives. The novel is a relaxing and quick read.

Find it at your library!

Reminder: Our “Book of the Month” is If the Devil Had a Wife by Frank Mills and Rebecca Stark Nugent, to be discussed on April 5th. For more information, please contact the Moss Bluff branch.

(Images from:;;