Rmlblog's Weblog

February 26, 2018

FBI: Fact and Fiction

Filed under: History,Psychological — rmlblog @ 4:09 am

The FBI has been in the news for a variety of reasons lately. There seems to be some confusion about what they do. Most people know that the FBI is the domestic side of the federal investigations as opposed to the CIA which is involved in international investigations. In reality there is a lot of overlap. On the FBI website they say that they investigate terrorism, counterintelligence, cybercrime, public corruption, civil rights, organized crime, white-collar crime, violent crime and weapons of mass destruction.

When I was in upper elementary school and throughout my teen years, I was fascinated by stories of the FBI. The books seemed to deal with exciting cases such as kidnapping (think of the Lindbergh case), organized crime (the gangsters of Chicago and New York), and spies. There were television shows such as The F.B.I. with Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. that showed the wonderful job the FBI did protecting us. This was all before I learned about what J. Edgar Hoover was really doing.

I was reminded of the role the FBI has played in my reading when I began listening to Anne Hillerman’s The Spiderwoman’s Daughter. The FBI is comes on to the Navajo reservation because a former Navajo policeman is shot. Turns out that the FBI covers major crimes on Native American reservations.

If you would like to read more about the FBI, try some of these books – both fiction and nonfiction.

Fiction Books

Catherine Coulter has a series of thrillers that feature FBI agents, most importantly Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock, husband and wife FBI agents and computer specialists, mostly based in San Francisco, California. Coulter started as a romance writer so expect some romantic suspense in her thrillers. First in the series is The Cove.

Allison Brennan’s Lucy Kincaid investigates murder, corruption, and cybercrime. First in the series is Love Me to Death.

David Baldacci’s Alex Decker starts out as a former policeman turned private investigator in the first book Memory Man, but by the second book he is working with the FBI as a special agent.

Irene Hannon has a series called Heroes of Quantico that feature different FBI agents dealing with issues such as abduction and terrorism. The first book is Against All Odds.

We have learned about profiling on many television shows. Alan Jacobson introduces FBI profiler Karen Vail in the book The 7th Victim.

Lisa Gardner has the team of FBI agents Pierce Quincy and Rainie Conner solve cases involving sadists, serial killers and other horrible people. The Perfect Husband is the first book that features Quincy. Rainie shows up in The Third Victim.

Spencer Kope’s book, Collecting the Dead, features an FBI man who is part of a Speical Tracking Unit.

Nonfiction Books

Alston Purvis has written the book, The Vendetta : FBI hero Melvin Purvis’s war against crime, and J. Edgar Hoover’s war against him. Purvis led the manhunts that tracked outlaws Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd, and most famously John Dillinger, which ended in Chicago on July 22, 1934. Hoover supposedly tried to change the history of these events because of his jealousy of Purvis.

In her memoir, No Backup: My Life as a Female FBI Special Agent, Rosemary Dew talks about what it was like from her initial training through her several year at the Bureau. Dew, who earned the title of Special Agent of the FBI, was recipient of eight commendations from FBI directors, and was the seventh woman to be named supervisor at FBI headquarters, has opened up the files on the agency and reveals a broken organization rife with discriminatory practices. Dew worked undercover against criminals, spies, and terrorists.

Enemies : a history of the FBI by Tim Weiner gives us the story of the FBI from its beginnings through the war on terrorism.

Inside the mind of BTK : the true story behind the thirty-year hunt for the notorious Wichita serial killer is written by former FBI profiler John Douglas (and Johnny Dodd) and follows the long search for a particularly evasive serial killer.

Cold zero : inside the FBI Hostage Rescue Team  is by Christopher Whitcomb. a member of the F.B.I.’s elite Hostage Rescue Team–its most highly trained and specialized squadron that handles large-scale emergencies in the U.S. He reveals his experiences, describing in breathtaking detail the brutal training, the weapons and tactics, and the dramatic showdowns that marked many of his missions, including Ruby Ridge and Waco.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann tells the story of the Osage Indians who became rich as a result of oil on their land. Then someone began to kill the Osage tribe members. As the death toll surpassed more than twenty-four Osage, the newly created F.B.I. took up the case, in what became one of the organization’s first major homicide investigations. But the bureau was then notoriously corrupt and initially bungled the case. Eventually the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to try to unravel the mystery.





January 28, 2018

Making of Adult Programming

Filed under: One book,programs — rmlblog @ 12:01 am

I take a vacation in early October before gearing up for an intense 5 months of work planning the adult programming for the year. The Town-wide Read project, in particular, takes many hours over many weeks to put together. This year I had decided which book by last March. Hidden Figures was a wonderful movie and the book was equally interesting. With all the focus on Black Lives Matter and the Women’ Marches, the book seemed to be a timely look at where we’ve come from and how far we need to go.  I met with a small committee to plan the events to go with the themes of science and technology and supporting interest in these areas by everyone. This has involved many, many emails back and forth to pull together as well as a lot of publicity.

The Blind Date With A Book display takes much more time than the usual monthly displays. The purpose of our displays is to highlight books that are good, but may not have become bestsellers. Usually the displays are based on a theme that is chosen somewhat on a whim. The Blind Date books, however, are all books that some reader has rated as A on our blue rating sheets in each fiction book. I then check in Goodreads to see if the book was also well-rated there. Then I need to create a teaser blurb to put on the outside of each wrapped book that will attract the attention of a new reader.

Planning with Dr. Hylander can be tricky for two reasons: he’s not easy to get in touch with and his schedule is often tight. Once we do catch up with each other, it is easy to plan what he will talk about because he can talk about anything! His spring program will be a 3-part series on America 1968 and is scheduled for Thursdays, May 3, 17 and 31. While I had him on the phone and we were brainstorming, we scheduled the fall program on Freedom of the Press and the Courts which will be Thursdays, Oct 4, 18, and Nov. 1.

Sometimes presenters reach out to us, such as Ted Reinstein who did such a wonderful presentation on General Stores. Sometimes we have a returning presenter that is paid for with Cultural Council monies such as Greg Maichack who does our pastel workshops. And sometimes we get recommendations from other librarians around the state. This summer we will have Arron Krerowicz do a program called Stairway to Zeppelin: The Roots of Led Zeppelin. Krerowicz has been praised by everyone who has had him do a presentation.

I hope you have been enjoying the programs we plan and that you keep coming.


December 27, 2017

Mary Higgins Clark Turned 90 in December!

Filed under: Favorite Books,mysteries,Reading life — rmlblog @ 9:38 am

Mary Higgins Clark is a role model for any aspiring author. She started as a copy editor before she was married, then sold her short stories to add to the family’s income while raising five children. She started a writing workshop in NYC with other writers to improve each other’s work. When her young husband died in 1964 after 15 years of marriage, she supported her family by writing radio scripts. After one failed novel, she switched to suspense fiction with Where Are The Children? Since then she has written more than 50 books, including her memoir Kitchen Privileges.

Here’s an interview with her when she was 89. 

If you like Clark’s brand of suspense, you might like Lisa Gardner, Iris Johansen, and Joy Fielding.

Here is a list of Clark’s books as of spring 2018: 

Aspire to the Heavens (Mount Vernon Love Story) (1960)
Where Are the Children? (1975)
A Stranger Is Watching (1978)
The Cradle Will Fall (1980)
A Cry in the Night (1982)
Stillwatch (1984)
While My Pretty One Sleeps (1989)
Loves Music, Loves to Dance (1991)
All Around the Town (1992)
I’ll Be Seeing You (1993)
Remember Me (1994)
Pretend You Don’t See Her (1995)
Let Me Call You Sweetheart (1995)
Silent Night (1995)
Moonlight Becomes You (1996)
You Belong to Me (1998)
We’ll Meet Again (1998)
Before I Say Good-Bye (2000)
Deck the Halls (2000) (with Carol Higgins Clark)
On the Street Where You Live (2001)
He Sees You When You’re Sleeping (2001) (with Carol Higgins Clark)
Daddy’s Little Girl (2002)
Kitchen Privileges — memoir (2002)
The Second Time Around (2003)
Nighttime Is My Time (2004)
No Place Like Home (2005)
Two Little Girls in Blue (2006)
The Christmas Collection (2006) (with Carol Higgins Clark)
Santa Cruise (2006) (with Carol Higgins Clark)
I Heard That Song Before (2007)
Where Are You Now? (2008)
Dashing Through the Snow (2008) (with Carol Higgins Clark)
Just Take My Heart (2009)
The Shadow of Your Smile (2010)
Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting (2013)
Inherit the Dead (2013) (with C J Box, Lee Child, John Connolly, Charlaine Harris, Jonathan Santlofer and Lisa Unger)
I’ve Got You Under My Skin (2014)
The Cinderella Murder (2014) (with Alafair Burke)
The Melody Lingers on (2015)
All Dressed in White (2015) (with Alafair Burke)
The Sleeping Beauty Killer (2016) (with Alafair Burke)
Every Breath you Take (2017) (with Alafair Burke)
I’ve Got My Eyes on You (2018)


November 27, 2017

Movie Discussion Group Starts in January

Filed under: Movies and Books — rmlblog @ 12:48 am

As you know, libraries are more than books. In fact, our dvds circulate on a regular basis despite all the competition from Netflix, Amazon Prime and cable. This just shows us how visual literacy is an important part of our culture.

To support all you movie-lovers out there, we are starting a Movie Discussion group. Like our two book discussion groups, each participant will watch the movie before the group and then at the meeting people will discuss the merits of the film.

We have found a wonderful resource for looking at movies in a new book, Talking Pictures: How to Watch Movies, by Ann Hornaday. Washington Post film critic Hornaday provides talking points about areas such as the screenplay, acting, production design, cinema-tography, editing, sound/music, and directing.

Obviously, it would be hard to talk about each of those areas in one meeting, so we’ll pick and choose.

The leaders of the group will be staff members Marjorie Johnson and Meredith O’Malley, both movie buffs who watch a wide variety of films.

The first movie will be Blade Runner with the meeting on Monday, January 8, at 7 pm. We will discuss the ways in which Ridley Scott ‘s science fiction hit challenged viewers to question what defines humanity and the possible roles robots will play in our future. The group will help decide the next movie.

If you are interested in joining this discussion group, please sign up by calling the library or emailing mholmes@sailsinc.org so we can order enough copies of the first movie.

Hornaday’s suggested list when thinking about screenplay, for example, includes:

  • Casablanca (1942)
  • The Godfather (1972)
  • Chinatown (1974)
  •  Annie Hall (1977)
  •  Groundhog Day (1993)
  •  Manchester by the Sea (2016)



October 25, 2017

November is Literacy Month

Filed under: Children's books,Reading life,Uncategorized — rmlblog @ 7:49 pm

This month’s blog is brought to you by Miss Eunice. We are celebrating Literacy Month in November (and, really, every month.) The library will have packets for you to take home with suggestions for sharing books, stories, history and memories as a family. We will also be hosting a discussion of some wonderful historical fiction picture books on Wednesday evening, Nov. 15, at 7 pm. Please check out our titles and share your thoughts during this community event.

Here are just a few suggestions of “sophisticated picture books” to share in families having members five years old and older.  These are great discussion starters, showing ways to:

  1. learn little bits of history that make us realize that “history” is not merely some thank you palaccioremote timeline to be learned, but rather the story of real people just like us
  2. see and hear that art and language can help us explore and expand what we thought we knew
  3. share our own stories with those we know because we each count!

Some of these books are sad, serious and seem far beyond the interests of the “picture book” crowd. This is true. However, all of these titles provide informative, insightful, hopeful, uplifting places from which to begin exploring the world together with your family.



September 27, 2017

A Voice from the Past

Filed under: Uncategorized — rmlblog @ 12:38 am

It started out with a phone call.

“Do you have any Richards Family memorabilia?” The woman had a soft Southern accent and a quiet voice.

My immediate thought was that this was a parent looking for help with a child’s local history project. I told her we didn’t really have anything, but we did have the pictures of E. Ira and Lucy Richards.

“I think I’m related to the Richards Family,” the quiet voice explained. Bells went off in my head and I remembered a genealogy book we had on the Richards Family in our local history collection.

“Hold on. We have a genealogical book about the Richards.”

When I came back, the woman started giving me names and I browsed the book. Then she said her father was Michael Richards and there in front of me was a picture of Michael and Anne Richards. And next to that, a picture of their three children.

“You’re in this book!”

The woman, Renee Richards Grace, went on to explain to me about her grandparents E. Ira and Grace Richards. The book, An Informal History of Several Families by R. Draper Richards, had pictures of both, and an obituary for Grace.

Renee was thrilled and said she would stop by to look.

renee and tim graceLittle did I know that Renee and her husband Timothy Grace live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. They were on a trip to find out more about her family. Originally this fall her family holds a reunion in South Carolina, but due to her mother’s health and Hurricane Irma, they decided to cancel.

Renee’s father was Michael Richards, 2nd son of Ira and Grace (Meurer) Richards, grandson of Ira and Lydia (Reynard) Richards and great-grandson of Josiah and Harriet (Draper) Richards. This library is a memorial to Edmund Ira and Lucy (Morse) Richards and Josiah was E. Ira’s brother. Their father seems to have been the first Ira Richards.

Wednesday afternoon, after I had left early, Renee and Tim stopped by. Marjorie Johnson showed them what we had in the local history room and found a copy of the original deed for the library, and the Selectman’s thank you letter. She printed out a copy of Elizabeth Mansfield’s A Centennial Celebration 1894-1994.” Marjorie suggested the Blackinton Inn as a B&B, and Meredith O’Malley suggested our two local restaurants, Table at 10 and Portobello, for dinner.

Renee and Tim also visited the old Richards House, now the Council on Aging building on Elm Street. There they found more papers from the family.

On Thursday when they stopped by, we shared the R. Draper Richards book with them as well as some memorabilia left to the library by Lucy “Bonnie” Richards Tweedy, the last of “our” Richards family. We found a copy of the Informal History book as well a copy of a Richards Genealogy book, Genealogical Register of the Descendants of Several Ancient Puritans by Abner Morse for sale on Abebooks.com so that they could have their own copy.

Frank Ward, the director, took Renee and Tim over to the Mount Hope Cemetery to show them the Richards grave.

Renee was full of stories about her family, even though she said her father, Michael, did not like to talk about his family. He was a rebel against the strict upper class upbringing of his father, Ira, who as a stockbroker had rebuilt the family fortunes. Once at dinner Michael mentioned Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his father punched him. Michael had a checkered school career, but ended up as professor of Shakespeare at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Renee related one of his eccentricities: if he didn’t like a paper that a student produced, he’d stick it to a tree and shoot a hole in it. Despite this, or maybe because of it, he was named an Outstanding Professor while he was there.

There seems to be a mystery about the death of Josiah Richards. According to the Informal History and the Attleboro newspaper report of July 10, 1890, Josiah and his grandson Ira were coming back from a shooting expedition designed to amuse the 10 year old Ira. The guns were in the front of the carriage with the muzzle under the armpit of Josiah. Unfortunately the gun was still loaded. Somehow the gun went off and Josiah was shot just below the arm. He eventually bled to death after the first doctor said there was nothing he could do and left to catch the train. A 2nd doctor on the scene arrived to pronounce him dead. Renee explained that the family had passed down a slightly different version in which young Ira’s toes had become caught in the rifle and accidentally fired the gun. This same Ira is the one who “had no use for work and spent his life successfully spending his inheritance.”

This whole episode was a wonderful experience for everyone.


August 21, 2017

Comfort Reads: Mac & Cheese for the Soul

Filed under: best books,Favorite Books,Jane Austen,Reading life — rmlblog @ 8:26 pm

These days I’ve found that I’m having trouble reading books that get my “fight or flight” system going, even though the book may be well-written (Try Hum if You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais; I’ll read it when things have calmed down.) I think I am just overloaded with the events in the news. However, I never stop reading; I just turn to my comfort reads.

Comfort reads are very personal. No one can really recommend to you what you would consider comforting. Many times it has to do with something in your childhood. In my case, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, is on my list because my father brought it to me when I was sick.

Others include:

  • Agatha Christie
  • Jane Austen
  • Harry Potter
  • PG Wodehouse
  • Louise Penny
  • Many of my fantasy authors (Hobb, Sanderson, Kay)
  • Terry Pratchett
  • Patrick O’Brien

I’ve been collecting many of these authors in audio so when my eyes go I can still listen.

There is an blog from Australia about the site’s staffs’ comfort reads: https://www.readings.com.au/news/our-best-comfort-reads

What are yours?



July 27, 2017

Book Related Birthday Trip

Filed under: audiobooks,best books,Reading life — rmlblog @ 9:43 pm

I was listening to a podcast (http://modernmrsdarcy.com/what-should-i-read-next/) that makes book recommendations based on 3 books the guest likes and 1 the guest doesn’t. One guest was planning a trip for her 50th birthday. She lives in San Francisco and was going to go to 10 bookstores in 10 towns as she made her way to San Diego. Her plan was to buy 5 books at each store so that she’d have 50 books by the end.

This got me thinking. 1) I don’t need 50 more books in my house and 2) which of my books do I count as the ones I want to reread as I get older.

I love fantasy and reread several of my authors: Stephen Donaldson, Robin Hobb, Brandon Sanderson, Guy Gavriel Kay, JK Rowling, Robin McKinley and Tolkien. I don’t think I’ll be rereading Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant series mainly because I haven’t finished the last two books in his 4th trilogy. I don’t think I’ll reread Sanderson’s 10 volume set that he’s working on now, but I might reread some of his others. I reread Kay and Rowling regularly either in book or audio. I love Tolkien in audio and will probably relisten.

I also love mysteries and Agatha Christie and Louise Penny are on my reread lists. I’ve been slowly accumulating Christie’s novels.

I relisten to Patrick O’Brien’s Aubrey and Maturin series often as well.

What would you collect if you were going to make a 50th Birthday trip? It could really be anything! 50 skeins of yarn and visit yarn shops. 50 bottles of wine and visit vineyards. 50 vinyl records.


June 29, 2017

Parallel Narratives: Which are your Favorites?

Filed under: best books,Reading life — rmlblog @ 2:21 am

Parallel Narratives is a description of those fiction books which tell two (or more) stories that end up intersecting. Usually this involves something that happened in the past that the characters in the present are trying to decipher. Secrets abound! Many current popular novels are using this format. The books are almost always interesting because of the history involved.

Here are some suggestions:

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana Rosnay
The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes
Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
The Muralist by Barbara Shapiro
Legacy by Katherine Webb
The Muse by Jessie Burton
The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley
Orphan Train by Christina Baker
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
Girl in the Blue Beret by Bobbie Ann Mason
God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
The Hundred Year House by Rebecca Makkai
The 47th Samurai by Stephen Hunter
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Sound of Glass by Karen White
Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan
Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman
The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty
The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro
The Good Goodbye by Carla Buckley
All the light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
The Lost Constitution by William Martin
The Lavender Garden by Lucinda Riley
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn


June 1, 2017

What is Creative Nonfiction?

Filed under: History,Reading life — rmlblog @ 9:28 pm

While the term, Creative Nonfiction, is not new, I recently heard about it from a writer in my swimming group and thought it was a wonderful description of some of the best nonfiction I’ve read recently.

Lee Gutkind of the Creative Nonfiction magazine describes it this way: “The word ‘creative’ refers to the use of literary craft, the techniques fiction writers, playwrights, and poets employ to present nonfiction — factually accurate prose about real people and events — in a compelling, vivid, dramatic manner. The goal is to make nonfiction stories read like fiction so that your readers are as enthralled by fact as they are by fantasy. Scenes are stories are the building blocks of creative nonfiction. Writing in scenes represents the difference between showing and telling. The lazy, uninspired writer will tell the reader about a subject, place or personality, but the creative nonfiction writer will show that subject, place or personality, vividly, memorably — and in action. In scenes.”

Some people include memoirs in this form, but I don’t. I would hope that people writing memoirs would be able to capture the personality and scenes of their lives.

Here are so wonderful examples of this type of writing. Even if you don’t usually like nonfiction, you may find yourself captivated by these stories.

  • Bill Bryson: One Summer
  • Jonathan Harr: A Civil Action
  • Caroline Alexander: The Endurance
  • Jon Krakauer: Into Thin Air
  • Laura Hillenbrand: Unbroken; Seabisquit
  • Robert Kurson: Shadow Divers
  • Candice Millard: Destiny of the Republic
  • Dave Eggers: Zeitoun
  • Michael Pollan: Botany of Desire
  • Rebecca Skloot: Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
  • Margot Lee Shetterley: Hidden Figures
  • Erik Larson: Devil in the White City; Dead Wake; In the Garden of the Beasts
  • John Berendt: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
  • Truman Capote: In Cold Blood
  • Michael Lewis: Moneyball
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