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Books

Memoir written for teens provides a laugh, tear for adults, too

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“A List of Things That Didn’t Kill Me” by Jason Schmidt

c.2015, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $18.99, 432 pages


Help preschoolers learn about reading with wordless books

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Before you rush to teach your child letters and words, have you ever thought about using a wordless book to help teach your preschooler how to read?

Wordless books are a great way for a child to develop language skills by allowing them to talk about the pictures in the book. They also help children make the connection that pictures and illustrations can provide clues to the narrative in the story.  

Though it starts out confusing, this tale involving Nat ‘King’ Cole is worthy read

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“Driving the King” by Ravi Howard

c.2015, HarperCollins, $25.99, 336 pages

Know about the past? Explore your heritage with library database

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Genealogy, the investigation of family histories or the creation of records of descent for people, families, or groups, is one of America’s most popular hobbies and an area of study that has been featured in television programs and facilitated in recent decades through websites and subscription services with all types of digitized records.

The library system has many resources, in a variety of formats, to help people hone their research skills, look for clues to their families’ pasts and discover local history. The “HeritageQuest Online” database contains six collections of materials that can be used from home or within library buildings. Navigation is straightforward; census images are clear and can be enhanced for easier viewing. Each collection has to be searched independently and has its own quirks, but numerous help screens provide guidance.

Author: Dead can be interesting

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“Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner” by Judy Melinek, M.D. and T.J. Mitchell

c.2014, Scribner, $25.00, 258 pages

Empathy is key in Charles M. Blow memoir

AUSTIN — Charles M. Blow’s memoir has drawn a lot of attention from the author’s exploration of his bisexuality. That’s certainly a crucial part of his story, but what really jumps off the page are Blow’s photographic recollections of growing up poor in the small town of Gibsland, La., conflicted about his place in the world as a young black man.

Details, from the drunken woman who died in a ditch after a diabetic seizure to the abandoned house across the street where Blow sought solitude, come back to vivid life in “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27).

Biography describes pastor who fought fascism

“Democracy’s Defender: The Life of L.M. Birkhead” by Jim Grebe; Lulu Publishing Services (178 pages, $19.99)

The U.S. Senate censured Joseph McCarthy on Dec. 2, 1954, for behavior “contrary to senatorial traditions.”

Fairy tale beginning strolls down a different path

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“While Beauty Slept” by Elizabeth Blackwell, c.2014, Berkeley Trade, $16.00, 464 pages

British mysteries thrive thanks to the example set by P. D. James

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As fans know, Phyllis Dorothy James, life peer baroness of Holland Park, also known as the award winning mystery writer, P.D. James, died in November at the age of 94.

Since her 1962 title “Cover Her Face” introduced the introspective poet detective, Adam Dalgliesh, James has set the bar for British police procedurals with intricately woven plots rife with simmering characters. She set each story up with care in an enclosed sodality — a specialized clinic, a publishing house, a small museum — which included victim(s) and suspects. By the time Inspector Dalgliesh showed up, we had a pretty good idea of the hostilities and loyalties of the group, but were always stuck with the resolution of the murder.

Chamberlain mystery plays out after death in family

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“The Silent Sister” by Diane Chamberlain

c.2014, St. Martin’s Press

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