Information, Answers & Reviews

The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon

In the bustle and tensions of the holiday season, it was great to take a couple of nights off and travel to Botswana in Alexander McCall Smith’s latest book in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series. As usual the mysteries--there are two of them here--are interwoven with descriptions and a philosophy of living a moral life in Africa.  Grace Makutsi, who scored an amazing 97% on her secretarial school final exam, is married now and expecting a baby yet she has not yet talked to Precious Ramotswe about taking any leave. Before she does, her little son arrives along with a pesky aunt, the matriarch of the family who swoops in to take charge of Grace’s household.

While Grace is gone, giving birth and settling into motherhood, Mma Ramotswe faces two problems: an acquaintance has opened a new beauty salon, the one of the title, but she is receiving daily threats from an anonymous source. Whoever is doing it is scaring away all her customers and this threatens the business. Also, a female lawyer has contacted the “traditionally built” detective about an inheritance issue: a nephew is supposed to inherit a farm from a famous politician, but is Liso the actual nephew or someone posing as him? Precious discovers that if Liso is not who he claims to be, the lawyer will inherit the bulk of the estate.  Coincidentally--or maybe not--this lawyer was having an affair with the politician Mma Ramotswe discovers.

Dispelling Dark Myths

Did you ever hear the story of “Typhoid Mary” as a child? I remember a gaggle of us neighborhoods kids scaring each other with stories of the woman whose myth lived long after she died.  It’s not a person we learned about in school, yet just the mention of her name culled up disease, darkness and death.  That’s one reason I was happy to come across this sympathetic portrait of an Irish-American woman who was much maligned by the press.

Not a biography, this fictional account relies on many true-to-life details to make its story highly believable. Young Mary Mallon emigrated from Ireland at age fifteen to stay with an aunt. She soon went to work and started as a laundress--hot dirty work that offered no hope of advancement. Being smart and clever, Mary noticed that the cooks were paid much more and had more freedom. She also liked the creative aspect of crafting fine meals for the wealthy of early 1900s New York City.

Mary got her big break as a substitute cook, and she turned one success into a career. By the time she was 17, she received an excellent summer gig in Oyster Bay, but unfortunately fever swept through the summer place leaving the baby she loved and several other members of the household dead.

how i live now

If you are looking for an antidote to the Hunger Games mania, as I was this past week, this less-action-oriented Young Adult dystopia might be worth a read. A 2004 Printz Award and British Guardian Children's Fiction Prize winner, the story is written from the perspective of Daisy, a 15 year-old girl from a not-too-distant future set New York City, who is sent to live with her cousins in the English countryside to get away from her father, her unliked stepmother, and their newborn child. Almost as soon as she is there, the country is invaded and war breaks out, leaving Daisy and her cousins to fend for themselves in what can only be said, without spoiling the plot, to be a truly harrowing experience.

A House in the Sky

This memoir is as compelling as any thriller, and much better written than most. In it a young Canadian describes how she escaped her family’s poverty and dysfunction in a small town in Alberta by reading National Geographic mags cover to cover. The family was so poor that she had to earn money to buy the used magazines herself, but while reading them she not only discovered the world, but was able to dream of a better, more interesting life.

Amanda didn’t have the money for college, so instead she became a waitress at high-end clubs and restaurants in Calvary when the money from oil and gas was flowing. She soon began to travel internationally to South America, India, Pakistan, and Nepal. Edgy, dangerous places appealed to her and those far off the tourist track. She went to

Deceptive practice

If you like magic, Deceptive practice: the mysteries and mentors of Ricky Jay is definitely worth checking out. Ricky Jay is one of the most well respected living magicians, a bit of a scholar when it comes to the history of magic, and a frequent consultant on Hollywood films that deal with magic. You may recognize him as an actor from several movies by David Mamet or Paul Thomas Anderson, if you don't remember his frequent appearances on television (he was the youngest magician to perform a full act on TV in 1953).

Search the New Catalog

After months of work and preparation, we are proud to announce an updated online catalog with improved search functions and account features.  The catalog has new and improved ways to narrow your search and find exactly what you need.  In addition, there are some great new preview functions and discovery tools.  When you log in to your account you will find improved and new features, including the ability to remove items from your reading history, estimated fines for overdue items, and more ways to control your account. We have also updated the catalog view and introduced new features for mobile device users.

New Catalog Search Features

  • Easily narrow your search with a variety of filters. After completing your initial search, use the dashboard on the left side of the screen to easily narrow your search by library branch, type of material, subject, author, and many more.
  • Quickly view item details by hovering your mouse over a title’s image. Doing this reveals a window with a brief summary view. No more clicking in and out of titles to get the details you want.
  • Peek inside a title’s pages with Google Preview. Select titles feature a Google Preview button enabling you to preview a title’s contents. Simply click the Google Preview icon and a window pops up allowing you to navigate select sections of a title. Simply close this window and you return to your search.
  • Recently viewed titles appear at the bottom of the dashboard on the left.

New Account Features

  • Easily access your account features at all times when searching the catalog. Once logged in a “My Account” box appears at the top of the dashboard to the left. Use this to easily log out of your account, or access your account by clicking your name.
  • Manage your reading history list. Easily remove items from your reading history and sort the items in the list to easily find what you are looking for.
  • Estimate fines for overdue items from the My Items Out/My Renewals view, accessible from the left dashboard under My Account. Simply select a future return date and potential overdue fines are calculated.

New Mobile Catalog Features

  • Use the Text it option and receive a title’s call number via text message.
  • Easily save searches from the bottom of any search results page.
  • Easily manage title lists from the mobile catalog.
  • Pay fines with a credit card from your mobile device.
  • Enriched content and title information that appears in the full site catalog is now available, including reviews, author biographies, NoveList, and more.
  • Estimate fines for overdue items like you can with the full site catalog.

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