Library Updates

Staff Picks: Reading Variety

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tops of booksOur Library Administrative staff has a wide variety of reading tastes.  Here is a sampling of some recent favorites. Maybe one will strike your fancy.

Gray Mountain by John Grisham

Over the years, I’ve read many of Grisham’s “lawyer-themed” books and grew tired of the same theme. A few weeks ago I saw this one on one of the display tables in the library and thought I would give it a try. While still about lawyers, I found the subject matter (coal mining in Appalachia) very interesting – and somewhat depressing – since apparently these practices were allowed to go on for far too long before proper regulation/laws, etc. were put in place.

I found myself rooting for the lawyers and against the big coal companies and was anxious to see how it ended. The out-of-work lawyer takes an internship at a legal aid clinic in a small town in Virginia and realizes she likes helping clients who had real problems. Not only does she like it, but it turns out that she’s pretty good at it too. In the end, although many people suffered at the hands of the coal companies and their vicious (& well-funded) lawyers, the female lead ends up staying in Appalachia so that she can continue to fight the coal companies and help the families who need it most. (A most satisfying end for me as the reader!)

–Terri, Administrative Specialist, Library Administration, Warrenton central library

In The Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson

Having been fascinated by Devil in the White City and reminded of this by the release of his new book Dead Wake:  The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, I decided to give “In The Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin” a try while I waited for my hold on the newer title to come in.  (Besides, I really enjoy historical non-fiction.) Set in Germany from 1933-1938, Larson chronicles the lives of U.S. Ambassador William E. Dodd and his family and in particular, his 24-four-year-old daughter, Martha, as they witness the phenomena of Hitler’s rise to power.  As is his bent, Larson fills in the cracks with information-rich details about the other players involved. Being a librarian, I’m kind of an “information junkie” when it comes to trivia and other tidbits of information, so Larson’s books are right up my alley! And now while I await “Dead Wake,” on to another of his works, Thunderstruck.

–Dawn, Public Services Manager, Library Administration, Warrenton central library

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

I have always enjoyed historical fiction, especially when set in medieval England. If you also enjoy this genre, I think you will find The Mists of Avalon a fascinating retelling of the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Instead of focusing on Arthur and the knights, however, it is told from the perspective of the women, including Arthur’s mother, sister and wife Guinevere. The plot centers around the conflict between Christianity and the Druid religion, which is attributed with giving Arthur the famed Excalibur and putting him on the throne. The author does a wonderful job explaining the Druid religion and the prominent role it played in Britain at the time. Although I was familiar with the legend of Arthur and the Round Table, I never gave much consideration to Arthur’s life before or after the legendary Knights of the Round Table. “The Mists of Avalon,” however, begins the tale before Arthur’s birth and continues through the end of this life, with vivid details and history in between.

If you enjoy historical fiction, and are open to fantasy, I highly recommend “The Mists of Avalon” as a rich and intriguing read.

For more recommendations, check out our weekly Staff Picks, or stop by the reference desk at your local library.

–Lisa, Public Information Coordinator, Library Administration, Warrenton central library



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Special Bulletin: Great Books Club

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The meeting date for the August 2015 meeting of the Great Books Club has been changed to Monday, August 10, 7 p.m. not August 3rd as originally scheduled.

Please make note of this calendar change and join the discussion: Sonny’s Blue by James Baldwin. not August 3rd as originally scheduled.

In other news, the Great Books Club is wrapping up 2015 with the following discussions:old_books

Join us for some insightful, thought-provoking discussion. We welcome readers of all interests and for those who love books and discussions, this could be the group for you. For more information stop by the Adult Reference desk at the Warrenton central library. Our librarians will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

— Jody, Adult Reference, Warrenton central library

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Reading Riot: Make Your Own @ the Library

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The idea of maker spaces is currently all the rage in the library world. Funny thing is that we have been doing maker programs forever. It’s just that the term “arts and crafts” has been re-invented.

It doesn’t matter what it’s called, the cool thing is that you make something by your own hands. We provide all the materials and you get to mix ingredients to create something magical or possibly useful… or maybe just to have fun. It’s not necessarily about the final product but about the learning journey.

Unmask Your Natural Awesomeness!
This week we will learn together about skin, skin types and skin complaints. We will make three different types of skin care products – toner, facial cleanser and body scrub. But wait; this event is not just for girls. Guys have skin, too! So get in here and learn how to take care of it. You will come away with some natural hand-made products that are great for personal use or make unique gifts. This program is for students grade 6 and above.

Tuesday, July 28
4 p.m. – Bealeton branch library

6 p.m. – John Marshall branch library and Warrenton central library

Resources Available at the Library
The Fauquier County Public Library also has plenty of resources to satisfy your appetite for “making.”

Organic Body Care Recipes, which provided some of the recipes for this event, has many more ideas for homemade herbal formulas to give you glowing skin and a vibrant self.


If you are more technical than homespun Robot Building for Teens might be more your style. This book will teach you how to design your robot, how to create a prototype, where to buy parts and how to program your finished robot to perform tasks. Perfect for the tinkerer!

Here’s an online site called TEDactive that has a playlist of cool projects to feed your DIY habit.

For other resources, stop by the reference desk at your local library. And check back here at the library for news of future “maker” events.

Happy Making!

Ann McDuffie, youth services, Bealeton branch library

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Staff Picks: Suspense, Private Life and Murder

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Jack of Spades

If you are always looking for something to read – or even if your To Be Read list has no end – you will enjoy these diverse recommendations from our Technical Services staff.  Our Tech Services staff works behind the scenes to bring library materials to you. They purchase, catalog and process the new items being added to the collection. They also work their magic on scratched CDs and DVDs, torn pages and broken spines to keep our collection in good shape for you. Here are a few of their recommendations.

 Jack of Spades: a Tale of Suspense by Joyce Carol Oates

I absolutely loved Jack of Spades by Joyce Carol Oats.  If you are looking for  well written, suspenseful,  quick read of a book, nothing gory, sometimes comical, then Jack of Spades is your book.  I know some people are not a fan of Joyce Carol Oates, since  she has written some controversial and disturbing stuff.  Jack of Spades, however, should appeal to a wider audience.  Jack of Spades is written in the voice of the main character, Andrew Rush.  Everyone knows him as this respectable nice mystery writer, but he has a  dark side that writes, anonymously under a Pseudonym Jack of Spades, disturbing mystery books.  This book really delves into the mind of a writer, especially when that writer has two personas.  I had flashes of Stephen King’s book The Dark Half and she does make references to Stephen King.  Andrew Rush is known as the nice Stephen King while Jack of Spades is too disturbing for Stephen King himself.  What’s most interesting is that Joyce Carol Oates also has published under several pseudonyms such as, Rosamond Smith and Lauren Kelly.  So, bottom line, checkout Jack of Spades even though you’re not a fan of Joyce Carol Oates.  Maybe Jack of Spades is the nice Joyce Carol Oates.

Debbie, Technical Services Associate, Warrenton central library 

At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson

A great book for fans of shows like The History Channel’s “Modern Marvels” is At Home: A Short History of Private Life, by Bill Bryson. Having never before read a Bryson book, I was not quite sure what to expect when I checked this one out­­—my best guess was a chronicle of domestic innovations. What I got was a fascinating collection of historical miscellanea that merely used the author’s 19th-century rectory home in England as a thematic framework (pardon the pun). The book is structured as a room-by-room tour of the house, but rather than presenting straightforward history of the function of each room, Bryson uses it as a launching point for a broader topic related to our private lives.

For example, the chapter about the room called the Study begins with a personal anecdote about frequent mouse captures, which segues into a selective history of household pests, from devastating Rocky Mountain locust invasions of the 1870s to the United States’ military attempts to weaponize bats during World War I. The chapter about the Wardrobe isn’t about our walk-in closet spaces, but about the ridiculous lengths our forebears went in the name of fashion. The chapter about the Fuse Box is a brief history of how electricity came to be harnessed for human utility. Through the course of the book it becomes clear just how many different threads of history—natural, scientific, cultural, social, and political—are woven into our everyday lives at home, from the spice-driven Age of Exploration to the cholera outbreaks in Victorian London that gave rise to modern epidemiology.

It deserves mention that the history covered is very focused on England and America in the past 150 years or so. This is, of course, a matter of practicality—expanding the scope could easily result in a book far too long and unwieldy for even the most dedicated fans of eclectic history. It is also a matter of relevance, as the author’s own house is the representative example from which all the chapters are inspired.

Bill BrysonI listened to this book on CD while driving to and from work and found myself looking forward to learning interesting new tidbits each commute. The Book on CD version  is read by the author, Bill Bryson. While his voice is softer and less enunciated than that of professional performers, it has a cozy quality that is easy to listen to, like that weird but always interesting relative you want to be seated next to at Thanksgiving dinner because he tells the best stories.

Elizabeth, Cataloger, Warrenton central library

The Art of the English Murder by Lucy Worsley

Fascination with true crime has a long history in England.  Lucy Worsley, Chief Curator of the Historic Royal Palaces, follows a blood-stained trail of how British law enforcement and crime solving evolved. Attributing  Thomas de Quincy’s 1827 essay “On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts”  as the first written recognition of murder as a source of lugubrious  entertainment, she explores a handful of real-life crimes beginning with the 1811 Ratcliffe Highway Murders.

The first two parts of the book explains how new techniques such as  fingerprinting, scene of crime procedures, forensic evidence developed and public protection measures moved  from night watchmen, to Peelers, aka Bobbies, to Scotland Yard. Well-known writers  such as Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens and, of course, Arthur Conan Doyle, anticipated sounder investigative methods through their writings which often came to be incorporated into actual procedures. Be ready for  some  gruesome and unsavory details  about crime museum artifacts.  The last part of the book, The Golden Age discusses how Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and members of the “Detection Club” established the conventions of classic British detective novels that led to what we now refer to as the “cozy” mystery genre.

Fran, Collection Services, Warrenton central library

For more recommendations, check out our weekly Staff Picks, or stop by the reference desk at your local library.

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Summer Reading Roundup: The Fun Continues!

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We are mid-way through the Summer Reading Program and halfway to our reading goal of 25,000 books. Great job, Super Readers! I hope you’ve also been enjoying our fun FREE events this summer.

Highlights for Kids

In line with our theme “Every Hero has a Story,” children attended Superhero Training School as part of our Book Buzz and special events. They made super wrist bands and masks, practiced their X-ray vision, rescued citizens and knocked down villains. One parent commented that her son was crazy about superheroes; activities like the obstacle course made him excited about coming to the library every week!

To celebrate the Fourth of July, we had special patriotic story time events for all children. We read stories like Happy Birthday, America! played American-themed Bingo and Scavenger hunts, made patriotic fans and even designed our own fireworks display out of chalk. It was super fun to show our spirit, waving American flags and marching to the tune of Yankee Doodle!

Teens Having Fun

Programs for young adults let them get in on the superhero action, too. Teens who registered got a hands-on lesson in babysitting safety and first aid offered by a certified Red Cross instructor. They learned what to do in case of an accident, how to deal with a difficult child and even how to help a choking baby. After this class, these teens will certainly be the neighborhood babysitting heroes!

babysitting class

Teens have also been winning prizes by submitting book reviews and by attending programs, they are entered into our Grand Prize drawing for an awesome tablet!

There are still plenty of events coming up and time to help us reach our reading goal so be sure to join the fun!

Ann McDuffie, youth services, Bealeton branch library

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July 2015 Consumer Reports: American Made

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American-madeAccording to a recent Consumer Reports survey, almost 8 in 10 American consumers prefer to buy American-made items rather than imported items. Many people think that American manufacturing is in decline, but is it really? Check out the Made in America article for some expert views on the topic.  The article also lists some of the best American-made appliances. You might also want to check out the What Makes a Car American? article, and the list of U.S.-made cars that performed well in Consumer Reports tests.

Online Shopping

Do you shop online? According to a recent survey by Anthem Marketing Solutions, about 71% of products cost almost the same online and in stores. However, check out the Deal or No Deal article for tips on which items you might want to buy online, and ones to avoid.

Water Consumption

Do you know where your water goes? According to a recent study, the average American household uses 255 gallons of water per day, ranging from 29% going to lawns, etc., to 1% for dishwashers. Check out the article on how to reduce your water use.

More in This Issue

  • Ratings for air conditioners, sunscreens, and insect repellents
  • Ratings for robotic vacuums
  • Ratings for computer security software
  • Article on how to get great photos with a smartphone

Each branch of the Fauquier County Library has the print issues of Consumer Reports from 2011 up to the current issue. The Find It Virginia databases have an index to the issues from February 1, 1976 to the current issue, and the full-text of the reviews from January 1, 1999 to June 1, 2009. You can access Find It Virginia from any library computer, or from home with your valid Fauquier County Public Library card. You can also see past summaries of Consumer Reports prepared by library staff online.

Reference Staff, Warrenton central library


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e-Resource News: Language Learning @ Your Library

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Bottle of wine, Eiffel Tower, Brie, French bread

With school soon to be back in session, many families pack their bags for a trip to the beach or abroad during August. If you have overseas travel plans where English is not the primary language, or are just looking to expand your knowledge of other languages/culture from home, now is the time to go mobile with Transparent Language Online.

What is Transparent Language Online?
Transparent Language Online (TLO) is an innovative learning method that takes users through a series of simple steps to memorize words and phrases in a new language, including their meanings and proper pronunciation, in the shortest possible time. TLO is packed full of pronunciation, speech, grammar, writing, and vocabulary building lessons for over 90 languages.

Online/Mobile Access
The Transparent Language app for iOS® and Android™ devices enables language learning on-the-go. Log into your Transparent Language Online account, click the Go Mobile button and get directions on how to use the mobile app. Then, get your mobile username, install and authorize your device.

Offline Access – No Data Plan Necessary!
Don’t have internet access at home or prefer not being “online?” Try the Transparent Language interactive language instruction series via USB flash drive. Simply plug the flash drive into your computer, download the software and you’re ready to go. Over a dozen different languages are available at the library. These USB drives can be checked out, and borrowed for three weeks, just like other library items.

Free Online Road sign with arms labeled with languages, pointing in different directionsResources
Below are some free online resources to supplement the library’s premium Transparent Language offerings – no library card required:

  • Transparent Language blogs and Word of the Day
  • BBC Languages – Games, online courses, video/audio resources and links to online tests; check out their essential phrases in 40 languages
  • BBC Kids – Foreign language instruction and activities for primary (ages 4-11), secondary (ages 11-16) and students 16+

Whether you’re learning a language for school, work, or personal development, the library’s Transparent Language service delivers a continuous and versatile learning experience. Before you know it, you’ll be speaking another language with ease!

Alison, Electronic Resources Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

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Reading Roundup: Mystery Book Club Discusses Sandrine’s Case

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Sandrine's CaseThe Mystery Book Club (Warrenton ) recent to discuss Sandrine’s Case by Thomas Cook. Although this Edgar Award Nominee for 2014 received great reviews, the Mystery Book Club had other opinions. While they agreed that it was indeed well written, they did not think of it as a mystery, but rather a case study of Sam, the character whose trial we follow throughout the book. Accused of killing his wife Sandrine, this book tells the story of how Sam used to be through Sandrine’s eyes and how she would like to help him return to his former self. Sandrine is diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrigs disease, and does not feel that Sam is in a position to care for her fragile health. Therefore her death becomes a suspected murder by her husband. Members of this small town  have convicted Sam well before the jury has heard the case. So was Sam guilty or not? You’ll have to check it out for yourself.

Here is what a few of our book group thought.

It wasn’t at the bottom, but it was pretty close” in reference to the other titles we have read this year. Mystery Book Club member

Anna, Mystery Book Club member shares her Amazon review. “I found this book too well written to rate less than three stars but to contrived to enjoy. Sandrine and Sam, the deceased wife and her husband, on trial for her murder deserved one another – I did not. I managed to drag myself through to the end only because this was my book group’s monthly selection. If you like character studies or are in a relationship that has slowly lost all passion and potential-or maybe if you are just in need of a soporific (I use this word to convey a small sense of the writing and action), you may find it useful.” 

Another member ” highly recommended” reading Thomas Cook’s Instrument of Night.  Dennis said he could not put it down. This is a story of a crime writer who is obsessed with his teenage sister’s death some forty years earlier. 

Upcoming Selections Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the fair that changed America.

Check back soon to hear what The Mystery Book Club thinks of the non-fiction selection  The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson or Isaac’s Storm also by Erik Larson.

Feel free to join us – we welcome new members.  The Mystery Book Club meets the third Thursday of each month at the John Barton Payne Building at noon.

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Staff Picks: Historical Fiction

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Hello! We hope you like historical fiction! In the last few weeks, the Warrenton central library reference staff has read several interesting and enjoyable books that we’d like to share with you. There are many more historical fiction selections in the library’s stacks–it you need more suggestions, please ask one of us!

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

If you like Ernest Hemingway, then you will enjoy reading about how he met his wife Hadley in this novel by Paula McLain. The couple finds it difficult to keep up with the fast-paced life of Paris and struggle to make their marriage work. Hemingway is busy working on his novel The Sun Also Rises and Hadley finds herself alone in Paris and trying to remain the perfect muse for her husband. I enjoyed reading about their friendships with Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Perhaps you’ve heard of them. If you like the classics, you’ll enjoy this work of fiction.

If you want to further your reading on the Hemingways, give Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood a try. This story continues with a closer look at the lives of Ernest and his four wives and is told in four stories.

Jody, Adult Reference Librarian, Warrenton central library

A Simple Murder by Eleanor Kuhns

I prefer historical mysteries, and have read many of them over the years. One of the best series I’ve discovered recently is the Will Rees mystery series by Eleanor Kuhns, a librarian from New York. Her mysteries are set in Maine in the late 1790s. Will Rees, a former Revolutionary war soldier, is a traveling weaver by trade. In A Simple Murder, the first book in the series, Will is searching for his son, who has moved into a Shaker settlement. When a young woman is murdered during Will’s stay at the settlement, he is drawn into the investigation. To solve the murder, Will may have to expose some of the Shaker community’s darker secrets. There are three more books in the series–each one better than the one before, in my opinion.

The Daughter of Time by Josephine TeyJacket

This book has been around for a while; it was first published in 1951. I have read the book several times, and just recently listened to it on CD. Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant, while recuperating from a broken leg, becomes fascinated by the story of Richard III, King of England from 1483 to 1485. Did Richard really kill (or order the murder of) his two nephews, the “Princes in the Tower?” With the help of a friend, Grant sets out to discover what kind of a man Richard III really was. His research takes him through most of the standard (at the time) research sources on Richard III. If you are unfamiliar with Richard’s story, this book can be a bit dense, but is an absolutely fascinating read, especially in light of the discovery of Richard III’s skeleton in 2012. I highly recommend the book.

Vicky, Adult Reference Librarian, Warrenton central library

Looking for more book lists and staff suggestions? Stop by the reference desk at your local library.

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Get Ready For Go Set a Watchman

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The much anticipated Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee is now available at your local Fauquier County Public Library location!Go-Set-Watchman-Embargo-Resized-2

Harper Lee’s first published work – Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird – was published in 1960 and is a classic of American literature. Go Set a Watchman is the “prequel” but was not discovered until 2014.

Go Set a Watchman is available in multiple formats but you may have a short wait for the next available copy. If you would like to revisit To Kill a Mockingbird (or explore it for the first time), the book, movie and CD book formats are available from the library. You can also learn more about the author, Harper Lee, from these resources, available at your local library:

The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee by Marja Mills
I am Scout: The Biography of Harper Lee by Charles J. Shields
Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee by Charles J. Shields

Happy reading!

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