Great Online Resource: NoveList Plus

Here on the blog, we use the NoveList Plus database to pull annotations for book descriptions, but there is more to NP than that. If you are a reader, a site like NP can really enhance your experience. Need to know what’s next in a series? Or, want some suggestions for readalikes? Or, maybe you’d like to read what the critics had to say about a book you want to read? Well, NoveList Plus is a good resource for all of this and more.

You’ll find discussion guides and other articles on featured books and authors – all for a range of interests and ages; kids, teens, and adults are all covered by NoveList Plus. Fiction and narrative nonfiction are also both included, so whatever topic you’re interested in, you’ll be able to find a book that will entertain and/or inform. Plus, since they have that great collection of plot synopses, you’re able to search for the book you can’t completely remember the title or author of.

So, give NoveList Plus a try next time you have a question about a good book. It’s almost like talking to your Librarian!

Take Ten: A “Gem” of a Read

Gems are plentiful here in the Gem State, but what about in the land of literature? Of course, some of the better-known rocks (rubies, anyone?) may be used in titles or even in plotlines, but the majority of these hard working gemstones are somewhat ignored. Until today, that is! The following are all books with the name of a more obscure gem in their titles. Give one a chance to prove it’s a “diamond” in the rough…


The Amber Room by Steve Berry

  • When her father dies under suspicious circumstances, Rachel Cutler finds everything she loves threatened by the rival quests of two art collectors who seek one of the world’s greatest treasures, lost after the Second World War.

Citrine by Kathryn Quick

  • Ali Archer is the last one standing. One by one she has watched her siblings fall in love after getting one of their grandmother’s rings from their mother. She is determined not to let the last ring get her (Summary from the TFPL catalog.)

The Finding of Jasper Holt by Grace Livingston Hill

  •  Is Jasper Holt the nice young man Jean Grayson met on the train on the way to Hawk Valley, or is he the rough, irresponsible cowboy Jean’s brother-in-law claims him to be?

Garnet by Carolyn Brown

  • Garnet Dulan, a saloon piano player, is wrongly accused for a bank robbery and murder, and finds herself attracted to the sheriff who arrested her. (This is the fourth in Brown’s Promised Land series.)

Obsidian Prey by Jayne Castle

  • A rune’s mysterious power puts prospector Lyra Dore and cutthroat businessman Cruz Sweetwater in danger, and only by trusting their psychic instincts will Cruz and Lyra survive–and surrender to the desire that binds them. (This book is the seventh in the Planet Harmony series.)

On Agate Hill by Lee Smith

  • Discovered in the ruins of a North Carolina plantation, an old box of mementos brings to life the world of young Molly Petree, an orphan growing up in the smoldering remains of the post-Civil War American South.

Orc’s Opal by Piers Anthony

  • In the kingdom of Rud, Charles, Merlain, and their brother, Dragon Horace, are in the center of a plot against Kelvin as they seek to steal the treasure of the Orc Kingdom. (This is the fourth book of the Dragon’s Gold series.)

Red Jade by Henry Chang

  • NYPD Detective Jack Yu’s investigation of a possible murder-suicide at a historical Tong battleground leads him to Seattle’s Chinatown, where he tracks a Chinese-American gangster and a mysterious Hong Kong femme fatale. (This is the third entry in the Detective Jack Yu mysteries.)

Topaz by Leon Uris

  • A Russian defector tries to get the French to believe that a Soviet espionage network called Topaz has infiltrated their government.

Tourmaline by Joanna Scott

  • A family heads for an island off the coast of Italy hoping to make a fortune in jewels, but instead is embroiled in a mystery surrounding the disappearance of a local girl.


Annotations are courtesy of NoveList Plus. Log in to NoveList Plus, for more book recommendations, using your TFPL card.

Freegal Music Playlists – “Dream”y Songs

If you’re dreaming of spring, here’s a way to help you pass the time until it arrives (which is March 20 this year). The following songs all incorporate the word “dream” in their titles. From little dreams to sweet dreams, they are all sure to inspire you in some way to let your imagination run free – that is until the alarm wakes you up!

Remember, all of the music – now 5 downloads each week – is free with your TFPL card. Just start from our homepage and then click on “Get E-Audio” to pull up the link for Freegal.


All I Have To Do Is Dream by The Everly Brothers (Album: Greatest Hits – Original Recordings)

Dream A Little Dream by Pink Martini (Album: Dream a Little Dream)

Dream On by Aerosmith (Album: Aerosmith)

Dreamin’ Blues by John Lee Hooker (Album: Burnin’ + Plays and Sings the Blues)

Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car by Billy Ocean (Album: Greatest Hits)

Just a Dream by Carrie Underwood (Album: Carnival Ride)

A Kiss To Build A Dream On by Tony Bennett and k.d. lang (Album: A Wonderful World)

The River Of Dreams by Billy Joel (Album: The Essential Billy Joel)

Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) by Eurythmics (Album: Ultimate Collection)

Teenage Dream by Katy Perry (Album: Ultra Dance 12)

The Way Back Machine – Best Sellers 1976

The Way Back Machine has stopped us in the year of the American Bicentennial – 1976. For those of us who were alive, we may remember that year more easily since it seemed that there was always something going on. But in case you were too ‘young,’ here are a few events that made 1976 so memorable:

  • The Apple Computer company is founded by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak (April).
  • In Idaho, the Teton Dam failed, causing 11 deaths and about $300 million in destruction (June).
  • The band, U2 is formed, beginning a career that will span 40 years and include sales of over 150 million records worldwide (September).

Get a taste of 1976 with one of the following New York Times Best Sellers from the week of February 22.



1. Curtain by Agatha Christie

2. The Choirboys by Joseph Wambaugh

3. Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow

4. Saving the Queen by William F. Buckley, Jr.

5. In the Beginning by Chaim Potok

6. The Greek Treasure by Irving Stone

7. Looking for Mr. Goodbar by Judith Rossner

8. Nightwork by Irwin Shaw

9. Shogun by James Clavell

10. The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins



1. Bring On the Empty Horses by David Niven

2. Winning Through Intimidation by Robert J. Ringer

3. Doris Day: Her Own Story by A. E. Hotchner

4. The Relaxation Response by Herbert Benson

5. Angels by Billy Graham

6. Sylvia Porter’s Money Book by Sylvia Porter

7. The Russians by Hedrick Smith

8. Memoirs by Tennessee Williams

9. Power! by Michael Korda

10. My Life by Golda Meir

Take Ten: Space Shuttle

Enterprise on its first flight, detaching itself from the Shuttle Carrier. Its first free flight took place six months later in October of 1977.

In February of 1977, the Space Shuttle program took flight for the first time. The shuttles were designed for low Earth orbit, something the old Apollo program spacecraft were not capable of.  The Enterprise, the first shuttle to fly, had no orbital capacity, but served as a test vehicle for approach and landings. Five other vehicles – Atlantis, Challenger, Columbia, Discovery, and Endeavor – served as our link to space for over 30 years. There was tragedy as well as triumph; Challenger exploded shortly after takeoff in 1986 and Columbia disintegrated during re-entry in 2003. The Space Shuttle program finished its service in July of 2011 and NASA has moved on to other ideas, for manned as well as unmanned, space flight. Maybe a trip to Mars isn’t so far off in the future.

Learn more about the Space Shuttle program with these titles:


America in Space: NASA’s First Fifty Years edited by Steven J. Dick, etal

  • A visual history of NASA’s many achievements in manned and unmanned space travel, written by a team of experienced NASA staffers and illustrated with more than 400 images, many of which are previously unpublished photographs from NASA archives. The story of America’s Space Age begins in the 1950s with intrepid test pilots venturing ever faster and higher, and opens out into the now-legendary Mercury and Apollo missions of the 1960s that made astronauts into national heroes. The Space Shuttle era shows us what everyday space travel might look like, while grand vistas of the universe expand our sense of wonder.

Final Countdown: NASA and the End of the Space Shuttle Program by Pat Duggins

  • Examines the history of NASA’s shuttle program, its missions, and its impending demise in a behind-the-scenes view of what was once the cornerstone of the U.S. space program.

Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut by R. Mike Mullane

  • In 1978, the first group of space shuttle astronauts, 29 men and six women, were introduced to the world. USAF Colonel Mike Mullane was a member of this astronaut class, and this is his story. Mullane strips the heroic veneer from the astronaut corps and paints them as they are–human, with tales of military flyboys, feminist pioneers and post-doc scientists. He portrays every aspect of the astronaut experience, and is brutally honest in his criticism of a NASA leadership whose bungling would precipitate the Challenger disaster.

Space Shuttle: The First Twenty Years edited by Tony Reichhardt

  • Published in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, a richly illustrated study of two decades of Space Shuttle flights utilizes full-color captioned NASA photographs to chronicle the accomplishments of the space program and provides a look at the more than 250 people who have ventured into space aboard the reusable spacecraft.

Spaceflight: The Complete Story from Sputnik to Shuttle – and Beyond by Giles Sparrow

  • A comprehensive history of space exploration chronicles the development of space technology, including rockets, vehicles, and equipment; the role of the “space race”; tragedies; key accomplishments; and past and future missions.

Too Far from Home: A Story of Life and Death in Space by Chris Jones

  • In February 2003, American astronauts Donald Pettit and Kenneth Bowersox and Russian flight engineer Nikolai Budarin were on what was to be a routine fourteen-week mission maintaining the International Space Station. But then the shuttle Columbia exploded beneath them. With the launch program suspended indefinitely, these astronauts had suddenly lost their ride back to earth.

Wheels Stop: The Tragedies and Triumphs of the Space Shuttle by Rick Houston

  • An account of Space Shuttle history with astronaut biographies, interviews, and quotes; technical details; personal rivalries; and often stormy NASA politics.


And, check out these fictional accounts:

Ignition by Kevin J. Anderson and Doug Beason

  • As American and Russian astronauts take their positions aboard the shuttle Atlantis, terrorists seize the Kennedy Space Center and threaten to blow up the shuttle if their demands are not met, and it is up to the mission’s injured former commander to stop them.

Prepared for Rage by Dana Stabenow

  • A renegade terrorist with a personal and vindictive grudge against all things American targets the space shuttle as NASA prepares to launch an important mission with a high-profile payload and a wealthy visitor on board.

The Return by Buzz Aldrin

  • Former astronaut Scott Blackstone finds his reputation and the future of space travel on the line in the wake of a terrible shuttle accident, but he faces a new challenge when a nuclear explosion in space threatens the lives of the construction crew on the International Space Station.

Freegal Music Playlists – Sweet Love Songs

Love is always in the air in February – at least all the retail stores are telling us that! With pink and red and purple hearts everywhere (not to mention chocolate), the Valentine’s season can become overwhelming. Taking a step back to smell the roses is probably also not advisable, since they’re filling the aisles, too. Instead, how about a musical interlude? The songs on this list are sweet – but not too saccharine – and they’ll remind you of why we like to celebrate this holiday. Plus, they’re pretty catchy, so you’ll have fun singing along!

Remember, all of the music – 3 downloads each week – is free with your TFPL card. Just start from our homepage and then click on “Get E-Audio” to pull up the link for Freegal.


Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree by The Andrews Sisters (Album: The Best of Andrews Sisters)

Save the Last Dance by The Drifters (Album: 50s and 60s Pop)

Cupid by Sam Cooke (Album: Greatest Hits)

And Then He Kissed Me by The Crystals (Album: 60s Girl Groups: The Shangri-Las and The Crystals)

Sugar Sugar by The Archies (Album: Everything’s Archie)

I Got You Babe by Sonny and Cher (Album: Please Mr. Postman: 30 of the Very Best Golden Oldies)

Best of My Love by The Emotions (Album: Pledging My Love)

I Wanna Dance with Somebody by Whitney Houston (Album: Whitney)

(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warner (Album: Dirty Dancing)

It Had to be You by Harry Connick, Jr. (Album: When Harry Met Sally)


The Way Back Machine – Best Sellers 1963

If someone was asked to name a significant event that occurred in 1963, the odds are she would mention MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech or JFK’s assassination (unless, of course, she was born/married/graduated that year). Both had a dramatic effect on American history, but there were other events that had a major impact as well:

  • In March, Alfred Hitchcock’s film, The Birds, is released (and playgrounds have never been the same…)
  • In July, ZIP codes make their first appearances on U.S. mail.
  • In December, the first Beatles songs are introduced in the U.S., marking the beginning of what will become “Beatlemania.”

Let’s time travel with the Way Back Machine the easy way – and pick up a book written that year. And since the New York newspapers were on strike during the early part of 1963, we’ll look at the Best Sellers list from the New York Times for the week of March 24. How many of these can you remember?



1. Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters by  J.D. Salinger

2. Seven Days in May by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey

3. The Sand Pebbles by Richard McKenna

4. Fail-Safe by Eugene Burdick And Harvey Wheeler

5. The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart

6. The Moonflower Vine by Jetta Carleton

7. Triumph by Philip Wylie

8. $100 Misunderstanding by Robert Gover

9. The Centaur by John Updike

10. A Shade of Difference by Allen Drury



1. Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck

2. Happiness Is a Warm Puppy by Charles M. Schulz

3. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

4. The Whole Truth and Nothing But by Hedda Hopper

5. Final Verdict by Adela Rogers St. Johns

6. O Ye Jigs & Juleps! by Virginia Cary Hudson

7. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

8. My Life in Court by Louis Nizer

9. Points of My Compass by E.B. White

10. The Fall of the Dynasties by Edmond Taylor


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