With a newborn and a commute, I often don’t have time to read in a traditional manner.  My favorite time to read is curled up in my husband’s favorite chair, which also happens to be my favorite chair, and have a nice cup of tea.  That doesn’t happen anymore.  Now it’s screaming and crying and weird electronic cow noises from toys that I can’t stand.  Since I have a commute, I decided to try audiobooks.  It is a really great way to get in some reading, without actually reading.  Here are some of my favorites.


JacketThe Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz

This book is hilarious!  Isabel Spellman is the horrible daughter who cannot do anything right.  It really doesn’t help that her parents own a P.I. firm and are constantly spying on her.  Even her little sister is in on it.  Granted, Izzy is in her 20s and doesn’t really have a job, and is constantly getting arrested for silly things while her perfect older brother is a fantastic lawyer and her sister is doing wonderful in middle school.  Izzy is just trying to make her way in the world when her sister is kidnapped and Izzy is blamed.  The narrator has a worldly voice that seems like she’s had her fair share of hard times.  It provides a realistic edge to the character of Izzy.  I love this book.  If you enjoy Janet Evanovich, you will love these!

untitledStorm Front by Jim Butcher

Harry Dresden is a wizard.  Yes, a real wizard.  Sometimes, when the Chicago P.D. can’t solve a case, or it’s just too weird for them, they call on Harry to help out.  This time, he might be in over his head.  When the weather starts to get bad, people start to die from spells that have gone wrong.  This audiobook is voiced by the actor James Marsters, who played Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and on Angel.  I really thought Spike was British, so it was very interesting to have his voice in an American accent.  The Dresden Files is a great fantasy mystery series and I really enjoy these books.

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Williguntitled

I’m not much of a romance reader.  I usually like mysteries or fantasy.  This one was recommended to me by Kimberly Wells at the North Branch and I thought I would give it a try.  She runs the Romance in the Stacks Book Club, so she wouldn’t steer me wrong.  It was a great read.  Fun, action, adventure, swashbuckling, and yes, some romance.   It starts off with a woman who goes to finish her dissertation on the mysterious Scarlet Pimpernel, the person who helped people escape from France during the French Revolution.  What she discovers instead is information on the Pink Carnation, another spy who was much more elusive.  The book weaves back and forth through letters and writings and in between, you find out what is happening with the woman writing the paper.  It was completely enjoyable and there was just enough romance.

JacketLife After Life by Kate Atkinson

This might be one of my favorite books of all time.  Kate Atkinson tells the story of one person, but it’s told over and over again.  Each time the girl lives, she dies in a different way.  The choices she makes in that reality determine when and how she dies.  The book is set in England before World War II.  She is born, she grows, sometimes she sees war, sometimes she gets married, sometimes she dies as a young girl.  It is an incredible book.  I’ve always enjoyed Kate Atkinson and I’ve read all of her Jackson Brodie books.  This one is different.  I couldn’t wait to get back into my car to see what would happen next.

Still Foolin’ Em by Billy Crystal

I’m a big Billy Crystal fan.  I’m also a big fan of funny books written by smart people.  This is one of them.  Billy Crystal wrote this book because he is getting older and wanted to talk about his life and his career.  He narrates the book himself, which makes it even better.  It is a very interesting look at an engaging life.  He is a brilliant and funny man.  I had no idea that Muhammad Ali was one of his best friends and that Mickey Mantle was someone he hung out with.  I also didn’t know that Joe Dimaggio punched him in the stomach.  This is all untitledsecondary to his movie career, his comedy career, and his family.  It is a very interesting look at getting older.  I can’t wait until I’m 65.  Maybe I’ll write a book, too.


WyLaina Polk is the manager of the Emily Fowler Central Library and enjoys a good story.

October 25, 2014 at 9:00 am 1 comment

The Challenge: Write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days!

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Have you dreamt about writing a novel? Join Denton Public Library as we participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) throughout November.  For 16 years NaNoWriMo has cultivated creativity as an international writing event. The goal is to start writing a 50,000 word novel at midnight on November 1 and finish it by midnight on November 30.  Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes, forgo the endless tweaking and editing, and just create.

What to do: Go to or join us at the Emily Fowler Central Library for:

Nanowrimo: Write your Novel in One Month – What’s It All About?
It’s a challenge; write your novel in November. Find out more about National Novel Writing Month, how to navigate the website, the Library’s “Write In” Space and “Write In” opportunities in the DFW area.
Saturday, November 1    Emily Fowler Central Library 3 p.m.


You can always come and write in any of the DPL branches, but the Emily Fowler Central Library will be a host site for local NaNoWriMo Writers as part of the “Come Write In” program.

Come Write In
Working on your novel for NaNoWriMo? Do you need a boost? How about a little advice, a critique, or just a change of scenery? During our Write In times, listed below, there will be writing coaches available to help you with the noveling process. Bring your favorite notepad or laptop or use one of ours to work on your project. Come meet your fellow novelist, share a snack, and build your word count at the Emily Fowler Central Library, 502 Oakland St.
Mondays, November 3, 10, 17, and 24 – 4 to 6 p.m.
Saturday, November 8 – 2 to 4 p.m.

Special Guest for NaNoWriMo, Donna Fielder:

The Perils of Publishing
Donna Fielder, local author and former DRC columnist, will talk about the lessons she has learned through challenges she has faced in the process of publishing her books.
Saturday, November 8 Emily Fowler Central Library 10 a.m.

And just maybe your NaNoWriMo experience will make you famous! These novels were all drafted during NaNoWriMo.


And there are many more. There is a full list of published novels on the NaNoWriMo website.

Denton Public Library has a plethora of writing resources to help you along.  Here are just a few:

50days 2writing 2romance2breakout

2paranormal 2ideas 2fiction 2characters

There is just one more thing I wanted to share with you. If you want to go a little deeper than a one month novel. We offer over 90 writing related classes through Gale Courses. These are instructor-led, six-week classes in which you will receive an award of completion with a passing score. All you need is your library card and a little down time.


Happy Writing!


October 21, 2014 at 11:45 am Leave a comment

October is Family History Month

This month is the perfect opportunity to learn about your ancestry, honor your ancestor’s memory, and to involve your family in understanding your heritage.


Write down what you already know about your parents and ancestors. Share this information with your children, making sure they understand how important it is to keep this information alive.


Sort through old photos with your family, identify people in the photos, and learn to preserve the photos.


Share meaningful heirlooms with family members, and tell stories about why they were important to the family.


Visit the library with family members and introduce them to family history research.


October 18, 2014 at 9:23 am Leave a comment

Celebrate October

The month of October always brings up memories of fall, family birthdays, and Halloween. Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. Apple cider, carving pumpkins, chocolate, and a combination of store bought and homemade costumes–is there anything better than that? Some of my more memorable costumes include dressing up in kimonos, a butterfly, and the occasional princess. However, the costume that I remember the most was She-Ra, Princess of Power. She-Ra had everything a little girl could want: superpowers, sidekicks and a twin brother.

Don’t be surprised if you see She-Ra at the library one Halloween. For the honor of Greyskull! I am She-Ra!





October 15, 2014 at 12:01 am Leave a comment

Busy Hands

There are busy hands at Finish It Friday Crafters Club. Come meet these crafters and join in the fun. Everyone works on their favorite craft project while they visit and exchange know-hows. Finish It Friday is a come and go program which meet at North Branch Library Friday mornings from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. So bring that craft you said you would finish one day. We’ll see you Friday morning. For more information, please call (940) 349-8752.

Finish It Friday Crafters Club will not meet on Nov. 7.

~Carmen Grant, North Branch

Phyllis Knitting

Here are Finish It Friday Crafters book recommendations:

The Art of Detection: A Kate Martinelli Mystery by Laurie R. King

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, or On the segregation of the Queen: A Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes Mystery by Laurie R. King

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

The Principles of Knitting by June Hiatt

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia De Luce Mystery by C. Allan Bradley

October 14, 2014 at 1:21 pm Leave a comment

The Best Outdoor Spot in Denton You Don’t Know About

clear creek logo

Have you ever heard of Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center (CCNHC)?  Neither had I until this summer. I recently had my first experience at this fantastic park when I hosted StoryTime there a couple of Saturdays ago, and I’m very excited to spread the word.  I call it a park, but it’s not like the other parks in Denton. There are no playgrounds with swings and slides, no pavilions, no grills, no ball fields.  There are trails that take you through Denton’s wetlands, bottomland hardwood forest, prairie, and grasslands, and Clear Creek offers a peek at a host of flora and fauna that provide great opportunities for experiential learning and family fun.

If you are a regular visitor to our local state park trails, you will definitely want to check out Clear Creek, and you can leave your cash at home because since it is city-owned, it is free to use all the time.  A few tips though — no biking on the trails, wear long pants and closed-toes shoes, bring bug spray and water, and avoid trails if there has been a lot of recent rainfall.  Strollers are definitely a bad idea at Clear Creek since these trails are not paved.  Also, if using your GPS to find CCNHC, please type in the exact address, 3310 Collins St., to avoid being led astray.  Please visit CCNHC and tell all your friends about its incredible, outdoor awesomeness!

Join us at Clear Creek this Saturday, Oct. 18 at 11 a.m. for another StoryTime for children ages 3-5 (weather permitting).  We will read stories, sing songs, and embark on a short, educational hike led by a very knowledgeable Texas Master Naturalist.

For directions to CCNHC and to find out more info about the center and its trails visit the City of Denton’s website.

Dana Tucker is the Youth Services Librarian at the North Branch Library and enjoys active, outdoor activities, even though you can’t tell by looking at her.

October 13, 2014 at 11:12 am Leave a comment

“The Color Master” by Aimee Bender

JacketI have been a fan of Aimee Bender ever since I read The Girl in the Flammable Skirt back in college. Since then I have read and enjoyed all of her works, but what stands out the most is her short stories. While I have never been able to claim a single book as my favorite, The Color Master is definitely up there on the list. Bender creates a strange, fascinating, and magical world, but the real draw is the characters. They are ordinary and flawed, but their emotions are real and they touch your heart and make you contemplate the world around you. In one story, an overqualified seamstress impulsively takes a job in Kuala Lumpur, only to find that she will be mending tigers that are coming apart at the stripes. In another, an ugly woman leaves her own village and takes a chance by marrying and having children with an ogre who has a taste for humans. One night, six human children show up at her doorstep. In an attempt to protect them from being eaten, she hides them in the bed of her own half-ogres.

My favorite short story in The Color Master is called Wordkeepers. This passage made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion:

“Those breathing things,” a student of mine said last week, gesturing at her chest. She was trying to explain to me why she had to miss the history test. I nodded. I got it.

“Pneumonia,” she said.

“You okay?”

“I think so,” she said. “The doctor gave me drugs”


She thought for a second. She made that little wheeze sound. “Antirobotics?”

I couldn’t help smiling. “So you will not become a robot,” I said.

“Hope not,” she laughed.

Grace Smart is a Library Assistant II at the Emily Fowler Central Library

October 11, 2014 at 9:15 am Leave a comment

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