Welcome! You've arrived at the official blog of the Derby Public Library.
Author: Ashley Pohlenz
I am a senior library assistant. I am in charge of creating adult book displays that showcase many different books from our library collection.
Being able to work around books is a dream! I read anything but my favorite genres are historical fiction and YA. Give me anything set in Tudor England or teenage fantasy novel and I am set.
Summary: This little book will help teach you the lingo, provide tips and explore the process of the home buying experience. It can be exciting as well as anxiety inducing. But with this guide you can be a little more prepared for what is involved in this life changing event.
My Thoughts: I picked this up because the idea of buying a house seems like the next move in my life. I have spent years renting but I feel like I am ready for something more permanent. I found this book to be very informative. I learned new jargon or meanings behind the words you hear on the home buying shows. It was easily broken up into sections that follow the course of the house hunting experience. There are links, scenarios and helpful tips for how to navigate this confusing world of real estate.
If you are looking into buying a home, remodeling or find books on floor plans for a new home then the library is the place to check out. We have many books on these subjects. And if you cannot find what you are looking for then ask one of our staff for help or to do an interlibrary loan for a book we do not carry in our collection.
First line: She made a circuit of the clearing among the oaks, three times round and three times back, whispering spells of protection.
Summary: When Emma of Normandy is sent as the bride to the king of England it is with the hope that she will create an alliance between the two nations against the Viking lord, Swein Forkbeard. Upon meeting her husband, Aethelred, there is mistrust and anger from the king, his elder sons and their nobles. With enemies all around, Emma knows that the only thing that will secure her future is a son. As Emma builds support around her, she allows her heart to be given to someone other than her husband putting her in danger of her life and her crown.
My Thoughts: The time of the Anglo-Saxons is a period I have heard or read little about. After starting this I want to know so much more but unfortunately it is during the era that used to be known as the Dark Ages. There is little written record or much archeology available to study from the 600 years of the Saxons in England. Historians have to rely on the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the little information available to us and the few hoards found, including the one at Sutton Hoo.
Emma and the life in Anglo-Saxon England fascinated me from the very beginning. Life was much less glamorous and a lot more dangerous. Threats from invaders, disease and deprivation are very real possibilities for many of the people of the realm. And women particularly were not treated well. I felt that the author did a great job bringing the terror of a Viking invasion to the page. There is the ever present threat but little knowledge of when or where they will strike. The chaos that is reigned down upon the people is something that is impossible to imagine today. Fear of death, rape and slavery were everyday worries for the people of England at this time.
As I read I was constantly referencing Wikipedia for the relationships and line of succession at this time. I have learned much through the reading of Bracewell’s first novel in the trilogy. Shadow on the Crown only covers the first several years of Emma’s marriage with two more books to follow. Having looked into the history I have a vague idea of where the story is headed but I cannot wait to see how the author weaves the story together. I am excited to see how Emma becomes the strong queen she is destined to be!
First line: Our house, like most things, came down to luck.
Summary: Cassidy has spent the last ten years reuniting with classmates who all survived a tragic accident leaving only nine survivors. But this year Cassidy has decided she does not want to relive the worst night of her life again with the other survivors. That is until she receives a mysterious text announcing the death of one her classmates. As soon as she arrives she notices that this year is going to be different. Everyone seems a little more on edge. And it appears that someone is going to talk to the press about that night. But who?
My Thoughts: I love Megan Miranda’s books normally but this one felt a little disjointed. I could never really feel a cohesiveness to the plot. It seemed as if several different threads were running through it but not creating the suspense I usually feel during her stories. There was a storm. People are watching them. Some of the survivors are disappearing. Strangers are becoming friendly. So many things were happening rather than one thing tying the story together.
And I quickly figured out or guessed one of the big reveals. It seemed rather obvious from the start but maybe I read too many of these novels now to be shocked. However, the final reveal was not what I was expecting so that’s why I gave it 3 stars. It was still a fun book and kept me interested but it was not nearly as good as All the Missing Girls which was told in such a unique fashion that I always recommend it for anyone looking for a good twisty thriller.
First line: Mrs. Ariadne Oliver had gone with a friend with whom she was staying, Judith Butler, to help with the preparations for a children’s party which was to take place that same evening.
Summary: At a children’s Halloween party, a young girl named Judith, mentions that she had once witnessed a murder. While no one believes the girl, she is found later drowned in an apple bobbing tub. Famous detective, Hercule Poirot, is called in to find the girl’s murderer as well as to discover who committed the murder Judith claimed to see years before.
My Thoughts: After recently hearing about the upcoming Hercule Poirot movie, A Haunting in Venice, starring Kenneth Branagh I decided it was time to get back into the world of the famous detective. However, the title of the book and much of the plot seems to differ. I will be interested to see how they use the plot of Christie’s novel to create the movie.
Like many of the Poirot novels I have read I found this one filled with twists and suspicious characters. As the detective dives deeper into the dark history of the village he finds a pattern that could easily be tied to the death of the young girl. There were many disappearances and deaths that it was hard to keep some of it straight. Hallowe’en Party was a fun read as most Agatha Christie novels are. While not my favorite Poirot book it is worth a read, especially if you are looking forward to the upcoming movie.
First line: Anna Cser lay on the floor of her living room.
Summary: In the 1920s a shocking story of a murder ring surrounding a Hungarian midwife drew the eyes of the world. A small village had been experiencing a number of unexplained deaths of the local men. As more and more people died the authorities centered in on Auntie Suzy who was dispensing arsenic to patients. With the question of “Why are you bothering with him?” she convinced the women of the village to do away with their troublesome husbands, sons and fathers.
My Thoughts: Before having this book cross my desk I had never heard anything about these events. It was completely shocking as I read the synopsis and I knew I had to read this story. I was instantly hooked by the events that took place in the small Hungarian village. These women dispensed their own justice. And for years without being discovered!
Even though I found the story and history fascinating, I struggled with the format. It was written as if it was a fiction novel. The main characters were portrayed with their emotions and thoughts rather than just facts. It seemed rather odd and I kept having to remember that this was a true story based on facts.
However, the author does a wonderful job describing life in the years following the First World War in a rural village. They dealt with loss of men to the war, deprivations and occupation by victorious soldiers. The town was filled with poor farmers who stilled believed in the old folktales. It made for the perfect setting for such sinister events.
First line: “Do you remember me?” she asked, after stepping to my office.
Summary: Henry Kimball has set up a private investigation business after he was fired from the police force. His newest case brings back memories from the year he taught English at a local high school. Joan has come to Henry to enlist his help to find out if her husband is cheating on her. It seems an easy case until Henry stumbles upon two bodies in an empty house. However, it appears like Henry was meant to discover these bodies. Something is not adding up and he starts his own investigation. But it appears that he now may be the target of a killer who has hidden for years in the shadows.
My Thoughts: When I requested this I had not read The Kind Worth Killing yet. Once I saw that this was a sequel to that story I picked it up and loved every minute of it. I was very excited to jump back into Lily and Henry’s strange relationship.
The beginning I found to be a little slow but that may have had to do with the lack of Lily’s involvement. The book is divided into three sections with two different narrators who give us the points of view for the plot and the timeline was jumping around to show how events have lead up to Henry’s investigation. There is something about Peter Swanson’s writing that keeps you wanting to read just one more page or one more chapter. As the story progresses the plotting and tempo pick up which keeps the tension high until the end.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was lots of fun and gave many shocking moments for the reader. I could not wait to see how everything ended but mostly how Lily would change the course of the plot. I picture the character Villanelle from Killing Eve when reading Lily’s point of view. She is definitely my favorite part of these books. I would highly recommend this to someone who loves a great edge of your seat thriller.
Summary: Told through three people trying to survive a blizzard in the middle of a pandemic.
Hannah, wakes up after a bus accident. Several people are dead and the bus is stuck in a snow drift. She does not remember how they got here and she has to decide how to help the survivors escape alive. But it appears that the escape methods have been tampered with, leaving the occupants without many options.
Meg, finds herself with other volunteers for the trials, stranded on a cable car, suspended high above a forest in the middle of snow storm. One person has already been killed while they were sleeping so it appears that there is a killer among them. They must out who the killer is and hope they don’t kill again before rescue comes.
Carter has been living at the Retreat for three years helping to keep the place running. The Retreat was once a ski resort but has since been commissioned for scientific research to try and cure the pandemic that is ravaging the world. But as a storm moves in they are increasingly plagued by power outages which could lead to even more dire circumstances.
My Thoughts: I love C. J. Tudor. Her books are always lots of fun and a wild ride. I read a majority of this one in a weekend. I spent hours on the couch in between laundry, diving into the this story that at times felt very close to home. We have recently lived through and are still dealing with repercussions of the Covid pandemic. Each story gave new insights in to the lives of the population and the nature of the illness. It sounds terrifying and once again very similar.
There are a few twists and turns throughout which I really enjoyed. The big one is one I figured out about half way through, before the reveal. I was happy that I caught it but I don’t believe it spoiled anything. I think it made me look at everything closer and pay more attention. I highly recommend this quick read because it will keep you interested and on the edge of your seat. The only thing that would have made my reading experience better was actually having February weather rather than 60s to help set the atmosphere.
First line: Louise thought it might not go well, so she told her parents she was pregnant over the phone, from three thousand miles away, in San Francisco.
Summary: Louise is going back to her childhood home after the tragic death of her parents. She has rarely returned and is dreading the reunion with her brother, Mark. The two have never gotten along and from the moment she arrives in Charleston it appears that nothing has changed. As they prepare their parent’s home for sale they have to clear out years of memories and hundreds of dolls and puppets. Her mother spent years creating puppets for her ministry work and now they have been left to Louise.
However, the cleaning out of these items is trickier than she expected. Dolls keep reappearing after being thrown away. Eyes seem to follow her as she walks through the house. And the appearance of Pupkin, her mother’s oldest puppet brings back nightmares from their past. It appears that the house has other plans for Mark and Louise.
My Thoughts: This book was frightening. Dolls and puppets are creepy! And this helps reinforce that belief. I plowed through this book in just 3 days. I was splitting time listening to it and reading it. I found that I kept wanting to listen/read just a little bit more. At one point I thought the story had come to a natural end but then Hendrix throws another twist into the mix making it even more sinister.
Even though I really enjoyed it there were some parts I found a little odd or annoying. Some parts of the brother/sister relationship made me angry especially after their experiences together in the house. And the very end was a little underwhelming. I don’t want to spoil it but I kind of wished it had finished a little earlier in the story or in a different way.
If you find dolls scary then this may or may not be the book for you depending on if you want to be scared or not. It gave me chills at moments. Enter at your own risk.
Summary: Clementine Churchill was the wife of statesman, Winston Churchill. Growing up in a lower class of the aristocracy she was not sure where her life would go until she met Winston. With the marriage brought advancement but also many challenges. Alongside him during two world wars she helped strengthen his political career as well as using her status to help the English people.
My Thoughts: When I was younger I read a lot about World War II but I never remember reading anything or even knowing about Clementine Churchill. And I knew as soon as I saw that Marie Benedict was writing a book about her that I needed to read it. Benedict does a great job of finding women in history that have been forgotten or overshadowed by their male counterparts and bringing them back to the spotlight of the general public.
I loved seeing how much Clementine did for Winston. He may never have reached the heights of Prime Minister without her help and support. And much like the Queen Mother during the Second World War, she helped the people of London during the Blitz and visited the people most affected by the bombings. She sounds like a very strong woman who cared about her family and the English people but has been forgotten. Glad that now she can be known by more through this story.
FYI: Read Marie Benedict’s other works to learn more about women like Clementine and their accomplisments.
First line: When we departed the train on that January morning, all I could see was a bleak sky stretching out in every direction.
Summary: Based on the true story of the serial killing family, the Bloody Benders of Kansas. The Bender family has recently moved to the prairie town of Cherryvale where they have opened a small inn for travelers. The town seems to accept the family, especially Kate who uses her skills as a medium to help believers get in touch with their loved ones beyond the veil. However, a few bodies are found along the creek and others have been reported missing. It seems that there may be a band of thieves killing travelers…or is there? How much does the town of Cherryvale know about their newest residents?
My Thoughts: I had heard the name “Bloody Benders” but I really had no idea their crime spree on the prairie. From the beginning I was hooked. This book is a wonderful example of an atmospheric novel. As a Kansan, I’ve traveled over the open expanses of the state and can easily picture what life alone on the prairie must have been like during the time of the Benders. It sets the stage for the dramatic story that unfolds.
The story is told through three different narrators; Hanson, Elvira and Kate. Hanson is the young orphan who lives and works at a neighboring farm who befriends the Bender family. Elvira is the matriarch of the Bender family. She is conflicted about the events on the farm but doesn’t shy away from the rewards of the family’s deeds. And Kate, a self-proclaimed medium who uses her brains and beauty to charm everyone around her. Even though Kate Bender is the dark villainess of the story at times I found it hard to not like her. She was smart, resourceful and charming but with a darkness in her soul.
I really disliked the men of the family. William, the father, believed in Kate’s “visions” and was easily led by the women in his life. John, Kate’s step-brother, is obsessed with her and grows angry when she spends time with any of the men who crossed her path.
As I started reading I had to do a little research about the Benders. I was shocked by the murders but also by the lack of information about the family. Nothing is known about them before arriving in Kansas, it is not even known if these were their real names, but Camilla Bruce does a great job of building a backstory that shows a string of similar activities. And then Bruce gives a possible ending to their story. But since no traces of the Benders were ever found, no one will ever know. Theories abounded at the time about their whereabouts and/or deaths but nothing was ever verified. The author took a story with the barest of details and created a novel that is just as bloody as the real events.
After finishing the novel I went on Newspapers.com and searched for articles about the Bender family in the Wichita papers. It is fascinating to see actual articles about the murders in Cherryvale. It makes the history of it even more real. I wonder if it’s something my ancestors discussed as they read the unfolding story in their local papers.