I was mildly curious when I saw The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House by Kate Andersen Brower, so I had a look. It was a New York Times bestseller, so apparently I’m not the only curious one.

Brower spoke to former White House staff, primarily the “backstairs” folks, including staff who served from the Kennedy administration up to and including the Obama administration or parts between. She had her work cut out for her, given that the White House staff is legendary for their discretion. They could certainly tell a lot more stories than appear here, and almost all of them are given to putting the best light on things, even the less sunny incidents. That said, there is certainly some interesting domestic material on First Family members here. You might not be surprised to find that Nancy Reagan is a fearsome taskmaster, but you might be surprised to read how she spoke to her husband on occasion. The Clinton White House, not to wonder at, was more contentious than most.

While the main interest in the book for most is probably the personal stories about presidents and their families, a substantial portion of the book is really about how things work at the White House and what it’s like to work there. The enormous pride that the staff take in their jobs is the biggest payoff they get. Given the cost of living in Washington, the long and often peculiar hours worked, and the ever-present threat of possible attacks from terrorists or other assassins, I’m sure I would find the salary insufficient for the task, but about 96 full-time and 250 part-time staff (ushers, chefs and other kitchen staff, maids, florists, butlers, doormen, painters, carpenters, electricians, engineers and, Iest we forget, calligraphers) manage to make it work.

I had never given much thought to the transition of the White House between one administration and the next, but it was rather mind-blowing. Evidently, about 95% of the move out of the White House and the move in occur between about eleven in the morning when the outgoing First Family departs for the inauguration and about five in the afternoon when the incoming family arrives to prep for the evening’s festivities. Since it would take too much effort to run security checks on moving company staffs, the White House staff takes care of everything, down to the last toothbrush. Having nearly recovered from a move of my own that took place a year and a half ago and for which I had several days, I can hardly imagine what kind of ordeal that must be, particularly if you have to do it every four or eight years!

The emotional toll, however, seems to be the greatest challenge most of the staff face. Knowing that the current family will only be there, at the most, eight years does not seem to soften the blow felt when they do leave. Politics don’t seem very important to most of the long-term staff. Those who are partisan tend to leave (of their own volition or otherwise) fairly early on.

To sum up, The Residence is a very interesting look at both the operations of the White House and the foibles of some of the residents who have lived there over the last 50 years. You can read it yourself to find out all about Lyndon Johnson’s shower obsession, Jackie Kennedy’s response to her sudden widowhood, and what chaos ensued at the White House on 9/11. It’s an interesting and little-covered piece of American history.

Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne

Teen Fiction

Kyra is a thief. And she’s a pretty good one. She’s incredibly stealthy and can climb better than anyone in the city of Forge, which means she can get by on her own even though things aren’t always easy.

Despite her early beginnings living on the streets, she has made a relatively nice life for herself. She rents a room in the Drunken Dog and has a makeshift family consisting of her friend Flick and Bella, their quasi-surrogate mother, who works as the cook at the Drunken Dog. Kyra is determined to help two young girls living on the street in the same way that Flick helped her, but her devotion to these girls makes it more and more difficult to make her coin last from job to job.

The promise of a steady and lucrative income from the mysterious and handsome James makes an offer to work for the Assassins Guild impossible to resist. Once Kyra joins the Assassins Guild, she is eager to prove herself. She performs each job–breaking into the Palace undetected and stealing information–quickly and well, not thinking about the repercussions of her actions.

Meanwhile, Tristam, a young Palace knight, has made it his life’s goal to rid the city of Forge of the Demon Rider barbarians whose giant cats wreak havoc and terror with every new attack. As the Demon Rider attacks increase and their complex pattern is revealed, Tristam realizes he must also thwart the Palace thief who is sharing information with the enemy.

Told from the alternating third person perspective of Kyra and Tristam, “Midnight Thief” is an action-packed series opener. Descriptions of Kyra’s exploits, Tristam’s encounters with the Demon Riders, and life in Forge are vivid and compelling. Blackburne’s character development is a strong-point in the book. Kyra’s status and struggle in Forge are fully realized. Once she and Tristam meet, the juxtaposition of their lives gives both characterizations strength and credibility.

I read both the bound book and the audiobook. The audiobook version of “Midnight Thief,” narrated by Bianca Amato, is well done, though it took me some time to get used to (and like) her narration. Amato differentiates character voices well especially considering half of the book is from Tristam’s perspective. I appreciated her talent with accents since Kyra and Tristam have lower and upper-class accents (respectively) and the Dragon Riders’s speech is described as “slightly accented.” This helped me visualize the events and the characters even better.

“Midnight Thief” is recommended to fans of fantasy set in a feudalist society. Readers of Tamora Pierce’s Beka Cooper series will like this one as well.

Sixteen-year-old Lottie’s home life is not the same since her father died. She is desperate to keep anyone from knowing and joins the school baking club to ‘get back on track’ and keep the school from visiting her home.

She finds her love of baking, that others in the group also have secrets, and a rebel named Mac. Can her budding romance with Mac survive the big bake-off and all the lies Lottie must tell to keep her home life secret? Katy Cannon’s first young adult novel, Love, Lies and Lemon Pies, is a fun summer read and can be found in the Ebsco eBook Collection.

Before offering the MoLib2Go Overdrive collection of eBooks the Library had a small collection from Ebsco. Through our affiliation with the state consortium, MoreNet, that collection just got bigger and better.  Library users now have an additional 41,783 titles in the Ebsco collection.

These titles will check out for 21 days and unlimited simultaneous use means you will never have to wait to use one.

To highlight the diversity of titles available I did a keyword search for lemon. In addition to Lottie’s story my search brought up a list of diverse titles. Here are a few of the results.

Lemons Into Limoncello by Raeleen Mautner is a self-help book with an Italian twist. After the death of her husband Mautner used the habits and rituals of her Italian upbringing to not only cope with his death but to emerge stronger. Find out about arranglarsi, the Italian ability to cope by elevating ordinary events to the extraordinary.

The next title is perfect for any of you who like me have a tendency to take less than perfect pictures. When Life Gives You Lemons: Turning Sour Photos Into Sweet Scrapbook Layouts by Sherry Steveson shows you how to take those blurry, dark, poorly famed photos and turn them into perfect layouts for your scrapbook.

If you like biographies Come Home Charley Patton by Ralph Lemons documents southern culture and the Civil Rights Era. Family remembrances, anecdotes and his account of the making of a dance tell the story in this memoir. He visits the sites of lynchings and Civil Rights marches and with descendants of early Southern musicians to pen this final book in his Geography trilogy.

Womanist Forefathers: Frederick Douglass and W.E.B. Du Bois is both biography and social commentary. Gary Lemons uses the memoirs and political writings on women by both of these men to show them as early proponents of female equality.

As you might suspect the search resulted in lots of cookbooks. For those expecting a baby, Tara Desmond’s Full Belly: Good Eats for a Healthy Pregnancy offers recipes and nutritional advice for all 9 months of pregnancy. For those looking for a healthy diet, The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook has more than 200 recipes. Denise Hazime’s easy to follow recipes cover breakfast though dessert.

The book with the most mouth watering cover is Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Desserts. Vegans and even those who don’t following a vegan lifestyle will find a lot to love in Fran Costigan’s all things chocolate recipes.

If you like novels there are plenty in the collection. The Lemon Grove by Ali Hosseini is the story of identical twins Ruzbeh and Behruz who fall for the same woman. Rather than compete with his brother Behruz goes to America. Left behind Ruzbeh becomes involved in the Iran/Iraq War. Behruz’s return to care for shell-shocked Ruzbeh sets off a chain of events that change their lives.

Science Experiments with Food is for the kindergarten through grade 3 ages. Alex Kuskowski uses easily available ingredients with lucid explanations of scientific principles in these fun experiments.

These titles and the other 43,700+ became a part of the library collection on July 1st. You can download any title by creating a free Ebsco account and using Adobe epub.  The books are available in the epub format or as a PDF.

I encourage you to explore this collection found under Reference then Online Resources on the library webpage. There is something for everyone and if you have questions call the Reference Department, we are happy to help.

Summer is traditionally a time for travel.  Now that the summer reading program is finished, some of us

at the library are ready for a trip.  Others here have already gotten a few days of rest and relaxation

earlier in the summer.

There have been road trips to see grandkids and family, quick trips to Branson, or even escapes to the

British Isles.  Time away from work is good for the body and soul.

We try to make planning these trips easier by providing a wide variety of travel guides and books

featuring specific parts of the United States and world.

The travel publishing industry has changed, however, in recent years.  No longer do the “big” travel

publishers publish a new version of their destinations each year.  It is increasingly difficult for Linda, our

Collection Development Librarian, to find to up-to-date travel books.

That may explain why you may find some older travel books on our shelves – the ones there are the

most recent we’ve been able to find!

Frommer’s, Fodor’s, Rick Steves and Lonely Planet are the biggies in travel industry publishing, but even

the “Dummies” series are in on the action!  In each of their books you can find treasures and warnings

about what sites are “must sees” and what sites you can safely skip out on.

These travel experts have published about any area you can think of.  They write on everything from

“the big picture” (i.e., continents) to individual countries, even on specific towns (think London, New

York, Montreal).

I’m reading a couple of Rick Steves’ books on London and Great Britain right now.  I now know in Great

Britain to use ATMs that are in front of banks, not freestanding ones not with a bank – those charge

exorbitant service fees.

I know the tips on cell phone usage within a county.  Steves just takes an unlocked cell phone, purchases

a SIM card in-country and uses it minimally by turning off data and cell service except when he needs to

make a call.

Steves is giving me suggestions on lodging (hostels or hotels?).  And what is the difference?  It turns out

hostels aren’t only for those under 25 years old who are wandering around the world with no idea

where they are headed next.  Hostels are for families, couples or seniors, too!

The books I’m now reading have introduced me home-sharing through a network of B & B’s or folks just

renting out their extra bedroom.  (I’ll tell you how that one works out after my next trip …)

We also have a selection of travel guide available in e-book format.  Think how easy that will be to just

take your e-reader along.  Not only do you have leisure reading for those non-sightseeing hours, but

believe me, my reader weighs less that Steves’ books.

Besides this, we have a subscription to a travel database called “Global Road Warrior.”  Accessible from

within the library or from home, GRW gives information on 175 nations and territories, including

geography, demographics, culture, society and religion. The database also contains information

travelers would need such as money, security, health, technical and electrical connections, and essential


There’s a display of travel books up at the library now.  Our book display guru has not only included

travel guides, but also books with tips on traveling with kids and dogs, fiction travel books, travelogues

of others’ travels, and even Steinbeck’s classic, “Travels with Charley: in search of America.”

Come in and find a book that tells of your dream destination.  Just don’t do what Rick Steves suggests

with the copy you check out.  Don’t tear out the pages that interest you the most so you don’t have to

tote the book on your trip.  That sort of thing might make us cranky.

Now, to decide – should it be Morocco or New Zealand???


Seven months ago Trent Zimmerman accidentally hit Jared Richards in the heart with a hockey puck. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to anyone, Jared had a heart defect and the rogue hockey puck killed him. Trent feels solely responsible for the accident and even after working with a school counselor for the remainder of his fifth grade year, he is still carrying around a lot of baggage at the start of his sixth grade school year. Baggage that manifests into unbridled rage that frightens his family and the few friends he has left.

He would like to try to play sports again, especially baseball since it is his favorite game, but every time he tries his arms go clammy and he starts to have trouble breathing. He has not told anyone about these panic attacks and prefers to let people think that he is not interested in participating.

At the suggestion of his elementary school counselor, he tries to deal with some of his emotions by writing and sketching in a journal, but even that offers little relief from the constant thoughts rattling around in his brain. He is sure that most everyone in town hates him and he cannot stop blaming himself for Jared’s death.

He is hopefully though that sixth grade will be the year for a fresh start, however, once he starts school, he is unsure how to make that “start” happen. And then, Fallon Little steps into his life.

Trent has always known of Fallon, they have gone to the same school since first grade and she sports a mysterious scar that slices through the center of her face, but it is not until she stands up to bullies for him that he really takes note of her.
At first Trent resists Fallon’s friendship, but she is not one to be easily put off and soon they are spending afternoons together. It is through this friendship that Trent starts to heal, grow, and eventually realize that while he cannot change the past, he can make better choices for his future.

Author Lisa Graff has knocked it out of the park with this tragic, yet hopefully tale of boyhood. While readers may not identify with such a life altering event, many will be able to empathize with Trent and his flawed decision-making process.

By tackling the subjects of youth rage, anger, and the general feeling of being out of control,Graff has created a noteworthy and welcome addition to today’s chapter book collection. Males, even teenage ones, are supposed to be tough and not show emotions or weakness and Graff illustrates how detrimental this can be with Trent’s character. Thankfully, she allows for some redemption, too, and with the addition of Fallon’s quirky, also damaged character, readers are sure to che

Since I’m a librarian you are probably not surprised that I very much prefer a physical book when reading. The feel, heft and smell are part of the pleasure I get from reading.

However, despite my preference, I cannot deny the convenience of eBooks. Joplin Public Library offers a pretty good selection and it just got bigger and better. Through our affiliation with the state consortium, MOREnet, library users now have an additional 41,792 titles to read and checkout.

Added to the Ebsco eBook Collection already available these titles will check out for 21 days and unlimited simultaneous use means you will never have to wait to for one.

Given the holiday we are celebrating this weekend I searched the collection using “July 4th”. This isn’t a good search to find Fourth of July materials but it’s a great search to highlight the diversity of titles available. Following is a sample of the results from my search.

For children, The Case of the July 4th Jinx by Lewis B. Montgomery, is one of the Milo & Jazz mysteries. Milo and Jazz, detectives in training, find that things are going wrong at the town’s Fourth of July Fair. They will have to follow the clues to find out if it’s a jinx or sabotage!

History scholars can get Slaughter on the Somme, 1 July 1916: The Complete War Diaries of the British Army’s Worst Day by Martin Mace. The Battle of Somme was fought from July 1 to November 18, 1916 between the British and German Empires . An estimated 60,000 British soldiers died on the first day of battle. In this one volume, Mace has assembled the diaries from each of the Corps along the British front who “went over the top” that fateful day.

‘Old Slow Town’: Detroit During the Civil War by Paul Taylor gives a social and political view of the rebellion. Though removed from the battlefields Detroit became a city nearly torn apart by the division between pro-Union and antiwar sentiments. This book explores the effects of this division on the city and the role of the media, including the Detroit Free Press.

Adventurous cooks might enjoy Bake Me I’m Yours ..: Seasonal Push Pop Cakes. Katie Deacon has created some impressive, fun desserts using mini cupcakes and frosting. You’ll get recipes, instructions, and ideas to create push pop cakes for holidays and events throughout the year.

Fans of biographical fiction will find Shame On the Devil: A Novel fascinating. Fanny Fern was a remarkable 19th century novelist, journalist and feminist. Debra Brenegan’s novel is based on her life and includes other historical figures of the era.

If music is an integral part of your life, try Walk Like a Man: Coming of Age with the Music of Bruce Springsteen. Bookstore owner and author Robert Wierseman explores the influence and meaning of music in his life. Songs by Bruce Springsteen take center stage in this autobiographical work.

Poor Folk is the first novella by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Written as letters between the two main characters the author highlights the life of poor people and their relationship with the rich.

The final title is a reference work you may choose to just use and not check out. Holy People of the World: a Cross-Cultural Encyclopedia by Phyllis Jestice spans all the major religions. Over 1100 biographical sketches are included of holy people from around the world.

These titles officially became a part of the library collection on July 1st. The download option was turned off. Our request to allow downloads and for records to add to our catalog may take a few days to fill. So if you don’t see a download link it will be there soon.

I encourage you to explore this collection found under Reference, Online Resources on the library webpage (www.joplinpubliclibrary.org). There is something for everyone and if you have questions call the reference department at 624-5465, we are happy to help.

Having followed the debate on the cost of healthcare for some years, I was intrigued to see  on our new book shelves. Dr. Welch is a practicing physician and a professor at Dartmouth Medical School. He has written two previous books, one of which (Overdiagnosed) we also own. I’m checking that one out next!

The book is broken down into seven chapters, based on often made, but erroneous, assumptions. We, as medical consumers, make assumptions based on incomplete, overstated, and just flat out wrong information and “common sense.” Making healthcare decisions based on bad assumptions leads to wasted money, time, and effort and (far too often) bad outcomes for our health. At least that’s what Dr. Welch is telling us and I found his arguments persuasive.

Assumption 1, that “All risks can be lowered,” causes us to scare ourselves silly on a regular basis when we read (and believe) all the medical news out there. Coffee will kill you. Eggs are deadly. Apple juice and rice are lethal. Too much (or too little) sleep causes premature death. All these, and far more, are among the things constantly being touted as risks for illness and/or death. Some of these alarms are later downplayed or refuted. Have some coffee with those eggs, they tell us this week. Problem is, even if there are risks associated with something, what degree of risk are we talking about? Some things have well-known, documented, statistically significant risks. Smoking is a prime example. Smoking is a known cause of lots of cancer and heart disease. Stopping smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health (aside from not starting). It’s well established that some amount of exercise is good for your health. Controlling really high blood pressure or extreme diabetes are no-brainers. Wearing a seat belt? Darn good idea. These are risks that are real and that can be controlled. Many other risks are maybe not so much a risk as the media would scare you into believing, and trying to control them may do more harm than good. What is often overlooked is whether the benefit of risk reduction outweighs the cost, both financially and in outcome. There are always risks associated with medical interventions. You might be allergic to a drug or simply suffer more of those lovely side effects they race through on the television ads. “Including death” is often one of those “side effects” mentioned. Even controlling known risks can have bad consequences. Medications taken to control high blood sugar can cause low blood sugar, which can lead to unconsciousness or worse. That’s not to say you should ignore diabetes, but it may be better to ask your doctor about trying to lower it some, through diet and exercise, and look at A1C levels to determine what your blood sugar is over time than to monitor closely and try for tight control. For those with Type-2 diabetes, that may be the wave of the future—moderate control over long term blood sugar with less intervention and less frequent (stressful) monitoring. Dr. Welch points out that he was responsible for a patient’s broken neck because he diagnosed him with diabetes, and tried (as was the only practice at that time) for very tight control. Testing had shown treatment was working, but one day the control got too tight, his blood sugar got too low, and he passed out and crashed his car. He survived, and later testing showed his blood sugar was only moderately elevated and Welch stopped his medication and kept an eye on it. No more loss of consciousness, no diabetic coma, no problem.

Assumption 2 is that “It’s always best to fix the problem.” Well, maybe not. If you’re a man of a certain age and are diagnosed with prostate cancer (as a prime example), the best thing to do may be “watchful waiting.” By age 60, over half of men autopsied (who did not die of prostate cancer) were found to have some degree of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is often very slow growing, and treatment can cause severe side effects. It may well be, in many cases, better to watch and wait than to “fix the problem” immediately, particularly for illnesses that may progress slowly and for which treatment is problematic.

Assumption 3, “Sooner is always better” builds on that, while Assumption 4, “It never hurts to get more information” ain’t necessarily so. For Assumption 5, “Action is always better than inaction” fleshes out more of the subject of Assumption 2.

Assumption 6, “Newer is always better,” is fairly obvious if you think about it. There have been numerous drugs introduced in the past few years that have been pulled off the market because it turned out they killed people.

Assumption 7, “It’s all about avoiding death,” reminds us all that death is inevitable and we need to consider quality of life versus quantity. If treatment will only (probably) add a short time to your life and will (probably) make you sick or keep you in the hospital, you should weigh the risks and rewards. Perhaps you want as much time as possible, period. Perhaps you would rather have more quality than quantity of life. Whichever you would prefer, you need to have the risks and options explained and your wishes carried out without the medical professionals making assumptions and proceeding accordingly. It’s your life.

To sum up, I found the book very interesting in an intellectual way (sort of a medical Freakonomics) on one hand and, on the other hand, a much more visceral read about life, death, and what comes along with each. There are lots of personal stories, and nothing excessively academic and the author writes with a good deal of humor, as well. Interesting and thought-provoking, and I’m off to read Overdiagnosed!


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