It is my pleasure to welcome Cynthia Kuhn to the blog today.
“Library Magic” by Cynthia Kuhn
Libraries have always seemed like magical places. When I was growing up, ours was tucked into the corner of the town hall building, so we would need to walk past an office full of typists banging noisily on their keyboards and through two frosted glass doors in order to emerge in the hushed sanctuary of the library. Every time, as we moved farther inside, the old wooden floorboards would creak out a familiar welcome. The sun streamed through large, high windows, creating a lovely glow. And the shelves formed a string of cozy nooks all devoted to different topics, just waiting for us to wander in and make ourselves comfortable.
Story hour was one of my favorite things: we would listen to the librarian read stories, then do an activity, like singing “The Farmer in the Dell” while standing in a circle and holding hands until it was your turn to run around the outside of the circle (for some reason that I’ve forgotten now). Singing was followed by new-book-selection time. Bliss!
The checkout process was practically ceremonial. I was in awe of the librarians, who stood on a special platform above the rest of us. We would hand up our selections, and they would flip open the book, use a metal stamp to inscribe the due date onto a white piece of paper fastened inside, then stack the books neatly next to them. The repetitive process was mesmerizing: flip, stamp, stack; flip, stamp, stack; flip, stamp, stack. I very much wanted to give that stamper a try myself. (It remained a dream until fifth grade, when I played Marian the Librarian in our elementary school production of The Music Man, and they gave me a prop stamper! I may have stamped with a bit more enthusiasm than the part called for.)
From that time forward, any trip to any library has been a joy. Like so many other kindred spirits, I adore strolling through the library shelves and stumbling home with an armful of new books to read. That is my favorite kind of treasure hunt.
So of course I couldn’t wait to take my own children to the story hour at our local library. I didn’t know if it would be the same for them, but happily, they were as gleeful about the whole thing as I had been, especially since the librarians here added a puppet show to the proceedings! And although there are no metal due-date stampers anymore, putting your selections on the electronic pad to be recorded in the computer offers a fine place to pretend to be SpongeBob cooking Krabby Patties, according to my kids. And we all leave with new books to explore.
Yes, still magical.
Cynthia – you are a woman after my own heart. I swear it was like listening to someone describe my own first time experience in a library. I too agree that they are magical. And even more so today as I get to spend my days in an elementary school library full of children. I hope that some of my students will look back at their school library as fondly as you do.
FTC Disclosure: I received a free e-copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The Semester of Our Discontent
1st in Series
Publisher: Henery Press (April 5, 2016)
Paperback: 256 pages
E-Book ASIN: B01A7BH83S
English professor Lila Maclean is thrilled about her new job at prestigious Stonedale University, until she finds one of her colleagues dead. She soon learns that everyone, from the chancellor to the detective working the case, believes Lila—or someone she is protecting—may be responsible for the horrific event, so she assigns herself the task of identifying the killer.
More attacks on professors follow, the only connection a curious symbol at each of the crime scenes. Putting her scholarly skills to the test, Lila gathers evidence, but her search is complicated by an unexpected nemesis, a suspicious investigator, and an ominous secret society. Rather than earning an “A” for effort, she receives a threat featuring the mysterious emblem and must act quickly to avoid failing her assignment…and becoming the next victim.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cynthia Kuhn teaches and writes in Colorado. Her work has appeared in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Literary Mama, Copper Nickel, Prick of the Spindle, Mama PhD and other publications. She is the current president of Sisters in Crime-Colorado and blogs with Mysteristas. Visit her at cynthiakuhn.net or @cynthiakuhn.
My thoughts: I loved this book. I’m so glad that it’s a series as I’m really looking forward to reading more about Lila McLean.
There are many reasons why I enjoyed this book so much. One reason is because the setting is an English Department at a fictional university in Colorado. I’m a Colorado resident and I have fond memories of my undergrad days as an English major. I enjoyed all the literary references, but to be honest, after reading about all the department politics and sexism (though that’s not saying this is the case at all universities) I’m glad I decided to become a librarian and not an English professor.
Lila is a great character. I liked the way she gracefully walks the tightrope of being the new kid on the block worried about tenure with standing up for her field of study. Cynthia Kuhn has created a well plotted mystery with interesting characters. There were so many twists and turns, I was kept guessing right up to the very end. This is one of the best debut novels I have read in a long time. I highly recommend that you add this new series to your reading list. Be sure to visit the other spots on the tour. Don’t forget to stop by the tour page to enter the drawing for a print or e-copy of this book and a $25 Amazon gift card.
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