That Wild Wild West

Westerns are not my bag. They cover a very short piece of history (usually post-Civil War to the early 1900’s), they’re often trite, and too many of them bore me. You can run down a checklist for almost every one: Horse? Check. Damsel? Check. Angry Indian? Check. Sheriff?  Check. Big shootout? Check.

Clichéd

No doubt, much of my boredom has to do with Hollywood Westerns. Though I’ve never seen the entire Terror of Tiny Town, I’ve suffered a few westerns. I did like Tombstone, and the remake of True Grit, Young Guns, Maverick, and yes, I admit, I did enjoy The Lone Ranger – three times. Maybe I’m un-American, but I can’t stand John Wayne or his films, and while I was excited to watch High Noon (it was mentioned in the TV show M*A*S*H*, and actor Harry Morgan appeared in both), it was a terribly disappointing, tragically dull film to someone used to modern Hollywood. It turned me off from ever attempting My Darling Clementine or Shootout at the OK Corral. So while I can handle modern westerns, those old classic hallmarks aren’t found on my shelves.

Nor had I ever read a real “Western,” although a couple of Best-Western Literature lists include children’s books like the Little House on the Prairie series, as well as Old Yeller (you could probably throw in Young Pioneers, Caddie Woodlawn, Seven Alone, and the sequel to Old Yeller, Savage Sam), and those I loved just fine. If you read through twenty different lists of what’s considered the best of Old West literature, you’ll find ten books are on every list, so let’s call them the Best Westerns of Literature (not to be confused with Best Western, the hotel, or Western Lit as opposed to Asian):

The Virginian – Owen Wister
Hondo – Louis L’Amour
Lonesome Dove – Larry McMurtry
True Grit – Charles Portis
All the Pretty Horses – Cormac McCarthy
The Shootist – Glendon Swarthout
Riders of the Purple Sage – Zane Grey
The Time it Never Rained – Elmer Kelton
The Ox-Bow Incident – Walter Van Tildenberg Clark
Shane – Jack Schaefer

Fresh and Award-Winning

I could have lived the rest of my life just fine without Westerns, except for one thing: someone I knew was writing one. I’ve seen Howard Weinstein for many years at various conventions, attended some of his writing workshops, and we know each other at least in passing. Howard’s written more than 18 books, from science fiction to dog training to Mickey Mantle, and some 65 comic books. To make sure he got it right, he visited several of the places he wrote about, making sure he got the details, and over a year or more I listened to him talk about his work and read excerpts from it. It was interesting, but… It was a western.

Galloway’s Gamble was published last September, and now it’s won an award: The Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Award for Best First Western Novel. So I had a quandary: support a fellow writer in his award-winning endeavor, or ignore his success on a project he loved dearly. I thought I’d done my duty by having the library order a copy, but I buckled down and opened my first western.

photo courtesy of Howard Weinstein

Galloway’s Gamble is the story of Jake and Jamey Galloway, two brothers who shift about aimlessly looking to find their purpose and not doing well at it. They join the Civil War too late, they miss marrying the girls they had their eyes on, they get taken by a cheating card shark, and horse-shy Jake just can’t manage to hang onto a hat. Yet, little by little, they take steps and missteps to change their fortune, and wind up trying to save their little Texas hometown from the villainous cattle baron Wilhelm Krieg and the corrupt banker Silas Atwood. 

As a western, I can’t judge Galloway’s Gamble, since I’ve read nothing to compare it to, but winning an award is pretty good sign. As a novel, you certainly don’t have to like westerns to enjoy it. The story of the Galloway brothers is a timeless tale of the little man against the powerful, with a cast of characters that never lets you walk away for long – you have to pick it back up and find out what happens. While the influence of films like Maverick is evident (which is not a bad thing), there isn’t an overwhelming number of bullets, horses, swaggering men in hats, and no cliché’d slang that could be a turn-off to the casual reader. Instead, you get a solid, interesting story that just happens to take place in the late 1800’s.

Give it a try. If you like it (and I’m sure you will), you might find some of the classic westerns to your liking, too. I think I’m going to go watch Maverick again.

What’s All the Hoopla?

What is Hoopla?
hoopla
For those that have never explored our digital offerings, Hoopla is a free service that is available to Cheshire library card holders (just like Overdrive)! All you need to register is your library card number, and then you create your own user name and password, which you will use to sign in from your computer or mobile device. (If you are a cardholder from another library, you may have access to the service through your own library. If you are unsure check with your home library.)

hoopla Welcome Header CPLHoopla offers users digital access to videos (movies & TV), full music albums,  audiobooks, e-books & comics  and more twenty-four hours a day. While there is a limit to how many items you can borrow per month with this service (six per user per month) as long as you are not binge watching a television series, this should not cause much frustration. Many people use this service to watch movies without having to wait their turn on a holds list. I tend to use it to watch the harder to find titles like Anime or Foreign Films that are less likely to be found in our physical collection.

The varied genres and search categories Hoopla offers can make it easy to find the documentary that was recommended but you somehow never got to see, or that weird children’s movie that your kids keep asking for but your old VHS or DVD is no longer working.  My husband, who is not a big reader, has caved to the influence of myself, a coworker, and some of his favorite shows, and started reading graphic novels. What we do not hand him, he reads via Hoopla. I have since used the service for the same thing.

Want to take a moment and browse the huge collections available via Hoopla? Well, no time like the present! Take a quick gander at all the Audiobooks, Movies, Music, Comics, Ebooks, and  Television Shows at your fingertips!

Want to know some of the curious and simply interesting things I have found via Hoopla just to get you started? How hoopla3about the non-fiction mythology guide Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes, or a book with instructions and patterns for Quick & Easy Crochet Cowls. Perhaps the very first episode of the original Lone Ranger television show or the Audiobook of The Scarlet Pimpernel is more your speed? Do you want to help you children learn french with the help of cartoon dinosaurs, or maybe try a new work out from Jillian Michaels? Personally, I am currently reading the hoopla2first graphic novel of Lucifer, while my husband is pursuing a variety of titles after having finished up all the published volumes of The Walking Dead.

The variety is huge! Frankly, I am sometimes overwhelmed by the the choices and have to pace myself so that I do not hit my limit of materials before the end of any given month- simply because there are so many choices and I am too excited to read or watch something right now to hold back from clicking that borrow button.

Need some technical help with Hoopla or still have some questions? Please comment below and I will answer any questions I can, and if I do not know the answer I will get the information for you. If you do not want to wait for me to get back to a computer to answer, you can also try our information page, the official hoopla support page, or give us a call at 203-272-2245 and choose the reference desk option.

Happy Birthday Paperback Books!

birthday

On July 30, 1935, a new technology was born that provided knowledge, stories, entertainment (with text and pictures, no less) that was convenient and cheap.  It was light enough to carry anywhere and you could tag specific areas to penguinre-read at a later date.  An early e-reader?  Nope – the paperback book!  Penquin Publishers, in England, was the first to successfully publish respectable, quality writing without a hard cover.  (There were earlier paperback books called penny dreadfuls, yellow-backs, and dime novels that generally featured lurid stories and were printed on cheap pulp paper.)

pocketPartnering with Simon & Schuster, Robert de Graff introduced the first paperbacks in America on June 19, 1939 called Pocket Books.  The first American paperback book to be printed in the United States was The Good Earth by Pearl Buck.  The cost to purchase these new books – 25 cents versus $2.75 for a hardcover.  In order to make a profit on paperbacks, de Graff had to print 100,000 copies at a time.  He couldn’t rely on bookstores to sell that many copies so he began using magazine distributors to place Pocket Books in newsstands, subway stations, drugstores and any other outlet to reach suburban and rural populations.  He designed bold, colorful, eye-catching book covers to catch people’s eyes.  By September 1944, 100 million books were sold in more than 70,000 outlets across the United States.   By the end of the 1940’s, the paperback industry began publishing original stories.  Previously, the industry only reprinted hardcover titles.  There are now more than 20 major publishers producing high quality, original and reprinted paperbacks.

 

Today, there are many sizes of paperback books and all different prices, but the two major sizes are mass-market and trade.  Authors originally wrote stories for publications in magazines, but soon shifted their attention to mass-market paperbacks.  They could write longer, more in-depth, entertaining novels that boasted beautiful, bold, color covers and were prominently displayed in all types of venues.  They were affordable and easy to carry and proved to be a huge hit.  Mass-market paperback readers have a large selection of genres of original stories to choose from, in addition to best-selling hardcovers republished in paperback form.  In the beginning, Westerns were the biggest selling genre, followed by Crime and Science Fiction.   The most popular genre for mass-market today is Romance.  Within this genre you will find many sub-genres including contemporary romance, historical romance, small town romance, and paranormal romance.  The Cheshire Library has a separate section dedicated to mass-market Romance Books located towards the front of the library, near the large windows.    Another very popular genre for mass-market paperbacks are Cozy Mysteries.  The Cheshire Library has a large selection of these interfiled among the hardcovers in the Mystery section of the library.  You can also find regular Fiction, Science Fiction and Fantasy paperbacks in the library’s collection.

COZY MYSTERIES

COZY MYSTERIES

Some literary authors, critics and bookstore owners turned their noses up at mass market paperbacks.  When Doubleday’s Jason Epstein was a college student, he lamented the fact that he and his fellow students couldn’t afford hardcover editions and envisioned a line of upscale paperbacks of hardcover bestsellers and classics.  By 1953, Trade paperbacks were introduced.  These were larger, more durable, with attractive covers illustrated by fine artists with an appeal to a more intellectual market.  They sold for 65 cents to $1.25.    The library’s selection of Trade paperbacks are filed among the hardcover books.  They also come in a variety of genres, with the most popular genres being erotic romance – with Fifty Shades of Grey topping the charts – and Christian-themed books.

 

There were many who thought paperbacks would kill the publishing industry, but instead, the books proved to be quite the sensation.  As recently as 2010, paperbacks outsold hardcover books.  Although the ebook has taken some of the market away from paperbacks, they still continue to be a much beloved tool for readers everywhere.  The look, feel, texture, smell, size, and portability makes the paperback book very inviting.

 

On Our Shelves: New Romance

romance 2New this month – a little historical romance, contemporary romance and western romance.  Enjoy!

The Bride Insists by Jane Ashford Although Clare Greenough has inherited an unexpected fortune, her money is in the hands of a trustee until she marries.  She makes a deal with impetuous young James Boleigh, seventh baron Trehearth: they will marry, Clare will get control of her money, and Jamie will get the funds he desperately needs to restore his lands.  Jamie agrees, believing Clare will soon become a proper, submissive wife.

Desperately Seeking Suzanna by Elizabeth Michels – Sue Green just wanted one night to be the pretty one. But a few glasses of champagne and one wild disguise later, she’s in some serious trouble. Who knew the devastatingly handsome face of Lord Holden Ellis would get in her way?

Sapphires Are Earl’s Best Friend by Shana Galen – Lily Dawson, dubbed the Countess of Charm by the Prince Regent himself, plays the role of the courtesan flawlessly while her real purpose is spying in the service of the Crown.

Carolina Man by Virginia Kantra – Marine Luke Fletcher is determined to do his duty—first to his country and now to his ten-year-old daughter, the unexpected legacy of a high school girlfriend. But his homecoming to Dare Island in North Carolina’s Outer Banks challenges his plans for the future and forces him to face everything that’s missing in his life.

What A Woman Wants by Judi Fennell – Resort entrepreneur Sean Manley was all set to buy an historic mansion at a great price, making a name for himself while making millions, when the seller and a poker bet change the game. Now he’s in the place as a hunky male maid and there’s one more complication: Livvy Carolla.

Blitzing Emilyby Julie Brannagh – Emily Hamilton doesn’t trust men. She’s much more comfortable playing the romantic lead in front of a packed house onstage than in her own life. So when NFL star and alluring ladies’ man Brandon McKenna acts as her personal white knight, she has no illusions that he’ll stick around. However, a misunderstanding with the press throws them together in a fake engagement that yields unexpected (and breathtaking) benefits.

Four Weddings and a Fireman by Jennifer Bernard – Firefighter Derek “Vader” Brown is one of a kind—six feet of solid muscle with the heart of a born hero. It’s that protective streak that has him pursuing a promotion to Captain to pay for his mother’s home care. And it’s why he intends to figure out why his sometime girlfriend Cherie Harper runs hot as hellfire one minute and pushes him away the next.

Come A Little Bit Closerby Bella Andre – Movie star Smith Sullivan can’t afford any distractions. He’s staking his entire reputation on his new film…but he can’t stop thinking about Valentina Landon and the fire he sees smoldering just beneath the surface of her cool exterior.

A Promise At Bluebell Hill by Emma Cane – From the moment Secret Service agent Travis Beaumont strides into the town and through the door of Monica Shaw’s flower shop, she feels a sizzle of attraction. After years of putting everyone else’s needs first, Monica is ready to grab hold of life. If she can just persuade the ultimate protector to let his own walls down for once .

Close Pursuit by Cindy Dees – Providing medical relief in a war-torn region helps Alex Peters forget his past and focus on the job—delivering babies. Less easy to overlook is his blonde comrade-at-arms, who knows nothing of the trouble he’s running from. Katie McCloud makes the assignment bearable, although her perky innocence proves to be an arousing distraction. Then, as combat explodes around them, their only option is flight.

The Chance by Robyn Carr – Thunder Point is the perfect place for FBI agent Laine Carrington to recuperate from a gunshot wound and contemplate her future. The locals embraced Laine as one of their own after she risked her life to save a young girl from a dangerous cult. Knowing her wounds go beyond the physical, Laine hopes she’ll fit in for a while and find her true self in a town that feels safe. She may even learn to open her heart to others, something an undercover agent has little time to indulge.

A Man to Hold On To by Marilyn Pappano – Therese Matheson doesn’t know if she’ll ever get over losing her husband in Afghanistan. Surviving Paul’s death has been hard, but raising his sullen son and his thirteen-going-on-thirty daughter alone has been even harder. All they need is a fresh start, and Tallgrass, Oklahoma, could be the perfect new beginning . . . especially when Therese meets Sergeant Keegan Logan. The sexy combat medic and single dad soon awakens a desire she’d thought long buried.

The Cottage On Juniper Ridge by Sheila Roberts – Can a book change your life? Yes, when it’s Simplicity, Muriel Sterling’s guide to plain living. In fact, it inspires Jen Heath to leave her stressful, overcommitted life in Seattle and move to Icicle Falls, where she rents a lovely little cottage on Juniper Ridge. And where she can enjoy simple pleasures—like joining the local book club—and complicated ones, like falling in love with her sexy landlord, Garrett Armstrong.

Atonementby B.J. Daniels – Protecting the citizens of Beartooth, Montana, is never an easy job. It’s been one year, and Sheriff Dillon Lawson still feels guilty that he couldn’t save his twin brother, Ethan. But the biggest test of his bravery comes when Tessa Winters arrives, claiming to be pregnant…with Ethan’s baby. At first, Dillon can’t decide if this beautiful woman is a con artist or a victim. If Ethan didn’t die in that car crash, then where is he—and why is he hiding?

Staff’s Favorite Books of 2013

book collage 2

One of the great perks of working in a library is access to copious amounts of books to choose from for our reading pleasure.  One of the biggest drawbacks of working in a library is access to copious amounts of books!  The Cheshire Library staff love to read and I thought it would be fun for them to list their favorite books they read or listened to in 2013.  They were very busy readers!  Below is just a sampling of some of the titles our library staff submitted.

Adult Fiction

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout

Canada by Richard Ford

The Good Lord Bird by James McBride

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Me Before Youby Jojo Moyes

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Three Sisters by Susan Mallery

White Dog Fell From the Sky by Eleanor Morse

We Are Water by Wally Lamb

Romance

Bachelor Firemen (series) by Jennifer Bernard

The Bad Boys of Crystal Lake (series) by Julianna Stone

Bad Boys of Red Hook (series) by Robin Kaye

Cowboy Take Me Away by Jane Graves

Free Fall by Catherine Mann

The Sullivan Brothers (series)by Bella Andre

Thrill Rideby Julia Ann Walker

The Way Homeby Cindy Gerard

What She Wants by Sheila Roberts

Whiskey Creek (series)by Brenda Novak

Science Fiction

Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding

Mystery

A Book Town Mystery (series) by Lorna Barrett

Killer Librarian by Mary Lou Kirwin

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

A Tea Shop Mystery (series)by Laura Childs

A Witchcraft Mystery (series) by Juliet Blackwell

Christian Fiction

For Every Season by Cindy Woodsmall

The House That Love Built by Beth Wiseman

Pearl In The Sand by Tessa Afshar

Take A Chance On Me by Susan Mary Warren

Adult Non-Fiction

The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum by Temple Grandin

Behind The Beautiful Foreversby Katherine Boo

Drunk Tank Pink by Adam Alter

Lost Empire of Atlantis by Gavin Menzies

The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way by Amanda Ripley

Biography

Caveat Emptor: The Secret Life of an American Art Forgerby Ken Perenyi

Walden on Wheels: On the Open Road From Debt to Freedom by Ken Ilgunas

Wild: From Lost to Found in the Pacific Coast Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Audiobooks

The Good House by Ann Leary – Read by Mary Beth Hurt

The Mermaid of Brooklyn by Amy Shearn – Read by Hillary Huber

The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson – Read by Tim Kang, Josiah D. Lee, James Kyson Lee, Adam Johnson

One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson – Read by Bill Bryson

Young Adult

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saena

Boy 21 by Matthew Quick

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Children

Bugs in My Hair! by David Shannon

The Dark by Lemony Snicket

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt

I’m A Frog! by Mo Willems

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin