Book Review: Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

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Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

For his first blog post on his bookstore’s website, bookseller Malcom Kershaw compiled a list of the eight most perfect murders in fiction. Nearly ten years later, FBI Special Agent Gwen Mulvey steps into his mystery bookstore, Old Devil’s Bookstore, looking for information on a series of unsolved murders that are strikingly similar to the list of “perfect” murders he compiled all those years ago. Mal agrees to help Agent Mulvey, but the killer is out there, watching, and knows far more about Mal and what he keeps secret than the does the FBI.

Eight Perfect Murders begins with the disclaimer: “A Memoir,” the first hint that all may not be what it seems.

“Books are time travel. True readers all know this. But books don’t just take you back to the time in which they were written; they can take you back to different versions of yourself.” — The Drowner by John D. MacDonald

Part old-fashioned mystery novel, part appreciation of popular contemporary mystery tropes, part celebration of some of the best crime and mystery novels of the genre. This is a book for those who love mysteries and appreciate the thrill of the chase and the many twists and turns that arise.

Eight Perfect Murders is a puzzle, ideal for a lazy day stuck inside. It’s such a quick and exciting read, you’ll devour it in one sitting.

Review by Sara McEachern, APL Support Librarian

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Holding Up the Universe

holding up the universe

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

For fans of Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’ comes this young adult novel about two sixteen year olds conquering their external and internal demons…

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven is a book told from the two main characters’ perspectives (Jack and Libby). Jack and Libby are high school juniors who attend Martin Van Buren High School in Amos, Indiana. Both characters have personal struggles that accompany them throughout their daily lives.

Jack has Prosopagnosia, a neurological disorder where people cannot recognize other people’s faces, even those of close loved ones. Jack has not confessed his condition to anyone until he meets Libby their junior year of high school. In addition to this, Jack is very angry with his dad’s poor choices and how they affect his family.

Libby is returning to school for the first time since fifth grade. She stopped attending after being bullied about her weight. Then her mother passed away suddenly. Libby gained a significant amount of weight following her mother’s death which ultimately resulted in her having to be cut out of her home and becoming an unwanted viral story. Through therapy, a strict meal plan, the help of various professionals, and encouragement from her father she makes a lot of strides and feels ready to return to school her junior year.

Libby dreams of joining the school’s dance team, the Damsels, since she loves to dance. Jack wants to fit in with his peers, but in his free time he creates things. Throughout the book Jack is working on a robot for his youngest brother, Dusty. Early on, Libby and Jack are brought together by an unfortunate encounter. They quickly learn new things about each other and begin to develop feelings. Will their relationship last? Will Jack come to terms with his disorder and tell others about it? Will Libby’s dancing moves wow the Damsels? You’ll have to read to find out!

Review by Cathy Liebenau

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Topeka School Review

Topkea School

The Topeka School by Ben Lerner

I was in Topeka recently for a meeting. I finished my audiobook on the drive there. I wanted to start a new one on the drive back and this was on my list.

Like the main character Adam, I participated in debate and forensics in high school in Kansas. In fact, I was an assistant coach during some of the years the story takes place. Many of the places and people in the book are real and that added to the pleasure of listening. Except for Fred Phelps and his church. It’s hard to really enjoy anything about them, but it did add to the realism.

I did have some trouble with this book. The story does jump around in time and space and Adam is not the only perspective character. Having multiple narrators helped me keep track of that, but even so, it was difficult at times to discern what was going on. That sometimes happens to me in audiobooks as I listen while I drive, but the story and transitions felt stilted at times.

I do not regret listening to this one, but I will not recommend it to everyone. It helps to have an in built identification with one of the perspective characters. If you know high school debate and forensics and Topeka give it a try. Otherwise, you might not want to spend 10 ½ hours listening to the book.

Tom Taylor
Director

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Resources for Students and Parents Learning from Home

Science

Participate in citizen/crowdsourced science activities that are perfect for adults and older teens.

Kids can read Ranger Rick magazine digital editions free for the next few months. Also explore crafts and fun activities on their website for free through June.

Explore the natural world with science activities for young learners from National Geographic Kids.

Learn about space through ebooks, games, and activities with NASA and Access Mars (NASA & Google).

Explore weather at National Weather Service.

 

Aquariums and Zoos

Tune in on weekdays at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. CST, for live Virtual Visits on the Sedgwick County Zoo Facebook page where they bring the Zoo to you with educational tidbits from our keepers and behind the scenes looks at some of your favorite animals.

Enjoy livestreams and educational content from aquariums and zoos across the world:
Atlanta Zoo
Cincinnati Zoo (YouTube link)
Explore.org Live Nature Cams
Georgia Aquarium
Houston Zoo
Monterey Bay Aquarium
National Aquarium
National Marine Sanctuaries
New England Aquarium
San Diego Zoo
Smithsonian National Zoo
Wildearth, South Africa- Live streaming safaris

 

STEAM

Fun STEAM challenges and games from PBS Kids Design Squad.

Students of all ages can learn to code for free with fun games and activities.

Daily demos, activities & shows from Wichita’s Exploration Place on YouTube.

 

Math

Free publications and lessons from the Math Learning Center for all grades.

Free math videos, interactive lessons, and more for all grades from PBS Kids.

Free math printables and online math games for students in preschool through 5th grade.

 

Reading

Have fun with free printables and activities from some of your favorite books from Brightly.

Discover new books with Booklist and Book Links, whose content is freely available until further notice.

Read free ebooks and eaudiobooks from APL with the Sunflower eLibrary.

Books with Blue – storytime from the Andover Police Department on Facebook Monday-Friday at 2:00 pm.

Take virtual tours of libraries around the world.

Free audiobooks perfect for readers aged 0-18. Enjoy books for the littlest listeners, tween and teen audiobooks, classics, and fairytales from Audible.

Older learners will enjoy this video library of non-fiction author interviews and presentations via CSPAN.

 

Arts and Culture

Free online guitar lessons for three months from Fender. No credit card required.

Visit famous museums and galleries for a virtual tour.

Learn history, art, culture, and the sciences with help from Smithsonian Lab.

Lunch doodles with Mo Willems, the author of the Elephant & Piggy books. Everyday at noon on YouTube.

Virtually explore US National Parks:
Bryce Canon National Park
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park
Hawaii Volcano National Parks
Kenai Fjords National Park
National Park Service
Yellowstone National Park
Yosemite National Park
Grand Canyon National Park 

Miscellaneous

Virtual School Activities – live educational webcams, virtual tours/trips of museums and historical sights, and other fun educational activities.

Read Time for Kids digital editions free through the end of the school year.

New free daily activities and videos for young children and their families, part of the New York State Library early reading initiative.

Learners in pre-K to 9th grade can enjoy day-by-day projects and learn at home with free help from Scholastic.

Make learning at home easy with free videos, lesson plans, and activities for learners in PreK to 12th grade from PBS Kids.

Great free printables, free worksheets for writing prompts, telling time, math, sight words and more!

 

Kansas State Library Resources

Check out these resources available for free with your Kansas State Library card. Don’t have a Kansas State Library card? Send us an email, we can help!

(hint: click on the image below to open a PDF with clickable links!)

Digital Resources Poster-1

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