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Apr 06

Travel Inspired by Books!

Posted on April 6, 2018 at 3:47 PM by Lindsey Kult

“They reached town - a charming covered bridge, a steepled church. Because it was a heavy-lidded, gray day, all of the twinkling Christmas lights were on. Snow-dusted wreaths hung from lampposts. They strolled past shops with cheese and chutney, maple syrup, nutcrackers, wind chimes, pottery…” -Elin Hilderbrand, The Castaways

Sometimes you love a book so much that not only do you not want it to end, but you want to visit where the book takes place to relive the magic! Even though “it’s just a book,” you might already feel like you’ve been there and want to experience it in person. Here at Howard Miller Public Library, the staff members have certain books that have inspired their travel bucket list. Do you have a book that made you want to plan a trip?


Staff Member: Lindsey

Book: Agatha Raisin Series, by M.C. Beaton

Location: The Cotswolds, UK

Why She Wants to Travel There: “Despite all the murder that apparently happens in the sleepy Cotswolds, it sounds like a wonderful place to vacation! The villages are quiet, friendly, and cozy. Each village has a pub with classic British pub food and plenty of green hills to ‘ramble’ across. The villages are made up of small cottages, which tend to have incredible gardens and the bridges over the rivers are gorgeous. While there doesn’t seem to be much in terms of tourist traps (a good thing, right?), each village is full of history, beauty, and charm! A perfect place to relax and unwind.” tpei013_js_anne_lake_shining_waters_0811

Staff Member: Susan

Book: Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery

Location: Prince Edward Island

Why She Wants to Travel There: “Wind-swept dune grass, quaint villages, and simple small-town life are captured so wonderfully in Mongomery’s Anne of Green Gables that I have wanted to visit since I first read the books when I was young!  I loved reading about Anne’s predicaments and friendships along with the descriptions of this charming place. Prince Edward Island almost feels like one of the characters! I hope someday to experience Anne-girl’s world—to stay in an old farmhouse, looking out over what may have been Anne’s “Lake of Shining Waters” and lose myself all over again in one of the books.”


Staff Member: Miss Jess

Book: Elin Hilderbrand books

Location: Nantucket, Massachusetts

Why She Wants to Travel There: “Hilderbrand makes Nantucket summers sparkle with amazing local restaurants, beautiful beaches, and drives through the charming outskirts of the island. Doesn’t everyone want to own a Land Rover or Jeep? The winters are steeped in fresh-cut garland, local tradition, and a touch of mistletoe. Her characters either are life islanders or they return from the mainland and never want to leave. I can totally understand why!”


Staff Member: Mary

Book: Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie

Location: Across Europe and the Middle East

Why She Wants to Travel There: “I recently read Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. Most of the cities on the Orient Express train route are well-known from listening to the news of the Middle East—often as places of conflict. I wished for the nostalgic experience of traveling this route by train, and visiting these cities—Calais, Paris, Milan, Venice, Belgrade, Istanbul, Aleppo, Athens--when they were exotic business or vacation destinations. Wouldn’t it be relaxing to view the southern European scenery through a train window, and be served in the luxurious dining car by the likes of very proper M. Bouc? Of course, I could do without the train being stuck in a snowdrift for days, as happens in Christie’s famous murder mystery!

The Orient Express was a favored mode of travel for Europe’s wealthy and high-born. It became known as the King of Trains and the Train of Kings. Europe by luxury train, anyone?”

Mar 23

Series Saturday - Alaskan Courage

Posted on March 23, 2018 at 5:00 PM by Lindsey Kult

AC Collage

This week’s Series Saturday is one of Leann’s favorites - Dani Pettrey’s Alaskan Courage series! This series is Christian Romantic Suspense and is comparable to Lynette Eason, Dee Henderson, and Irene Hannon. That’s pretty impressive for a first time author!


Christian Fiction, Suspense, Romance, Mystery

Location in Howard Miller:

Christian Fiction, CF Pettrey


Yancey, Alaska

Pettrey provides such detailed descriptions of this small town that it becomes a character in the series.

Meet the Characters:

This series centers around the McKenna family. This family has a habit of getting into dangerous situations. Often they find murder victims or get into life or death situations.

Cole McKenna is a search-and-rescue diver who also uses his skills to run an adventure tourist post in town. He has a strong relationship with God and is always willing to lend a helping hand. He can handle just about anything - except the return of Bailey Craig.

Bailey Craig was Cole’s sweetheart 12 years ago until she spiraled out of control and broke his heart. Now she has to return to Yancey and Cole and is not excited about it. She believes in God, but does not believe she deserves forgiveness for her past.

Piper McKenna is Cole’s sister and is as spunky as get out! Well… it’s a toss-up between spunky and being a thrill junky. She has no problem putting herself in harm’s way! Something that drives Landon Grainger crazy...

Landon Grainger is Cole’s best friend and a key member of Yancey law enforcement. Landon was “adopted” by the McKenna family; making his undying love for Piper a struggle. He is a strong, protective, and honest man who is very loyal to those he loves.

Reef McKenna is the “prodigal” brother. He hasn’t seen his siblings in years because of his career in Winter sports. Can’t say more without spoilers!

Gage McKenna works for the family adventure tourist post as the guide for cruise passengers. Gage is much less trusting than Cole and Piper. He tends to immediately judge people and has to learn to trust God. He is masculine, but Pettrey shows how wounded and vulnerable he truly is.

Darcy St. James used to be an investigative reporter, but she’s realizing that it’s hard to quit a life of thrilling stories. She’s a very strong willed and independent woman who loves God.

Kayden McKenna hasn’t been the same since her mom passed away. She’s still tough and can handle a lot, but she’s nervous to fall in love again. She’s not as outgoing as Piper and Cole, but she is still passionate and protective of her siblings.

Justin Westin works with Landon. He is protective over Kayden and prays for her often.

Number in the Series:

Leann says that this series should absolutely be read in order. While each book focuses on a new pair of characters, the previous storyline/plot is often resolved or referenced. We have all of these books available at the library and all of them on OverDrive.

0.5 Shadowed - Only available on OverDrive

  1. Submerged

  2. Shattered

  3. Stranded

  4. Silenced

  5. Sabotaged

Final Word: This series has a lot to love: suspense, adventure, mystery, romance, family values, and God's love. It definitely is not just a clean read - faith in God and Christianity plays a major role in this series. The family dynamic is wonderful and Pettrey has created a realistic group of characters that you can't help but love. 

Feb 24

Series Saturday - Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

Posted on February 24, 2018 at 11:14 AM by Lindsey Kult

MD Collage

This week’s Series Saturday is Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs! This series is one of staff member Debbie’s favorites. While numerous books take place during World War II or in the years after it, Winspear writes about the years between the wars. She writes about the survivors of the Great War and the suffering they endured as they tried to start over. These historical fiction mysteries are excellently written. While they aren’t cozy, they still are clean - they just address heavier issues than “cozy mysteries.”


Historical fiction, Mystery

Location in Howard Miller:



Great Britain, France, Germany, 1920s/1930s

Meet the Characters:

Maisie Dobbs is a remarkable young woman living in London during the interwar years. Most women in 1929 worked as secretaries or labourers, but not Maisie. She starts a business as a psychologist and investigator after years of being mentored by the great Dr. Maurice Blanche (see below). It was not always clear that Maisie would be successful in life. Her mother died while Maisie was still young and her father could not raise her alone. He found her work for Lord and Lady Compton. Young Maisie stood out among the other maids. She is clever and thirsty for knowledge. Lady Rowan Compton chose to sponsor Maisie’s education after she caught the girl reading in their private library in the middle of the night. Part of this education is working closely with Maurice who teaches her how to observe people fully. Maisie is accepted to Cambridge and begins her formal education as World War I (or the Great War) starts. Like many young people at the time, Maisie decides to pause her studies and join the fight. She becomes a nurse and is sent to the front lines where she witnesses more than she ever imagined. All of these events shaped Maisie Dobbs into the independent and distant woman that readers meet in the first book.

Billy Beale is Maisie’s assistant and friend. They first met in France after Billy is injured and Maisie nurses him on the front. Years later, Billy is the maintenance man for the building that houses Maisie’s office. He remembers her eyes and the kindness she showed him during the most terrifying moments of his life. Billy lacks Maisie’s natural talents when it comes to investigating, but he is willing to learn and do anything for Maisie.

Dr. Maurice Blanche is Maisie’s mentor. He is a French medical doctor. With the help of Lady Rowan, he established medical centers for the impoverished. Maurice has contacts in all areas of society. He is friends with philosophers, politicians, doctors, scientists, and military leaders. In addition to being a medical doctor, he ran his own private investigation business until his retirement in 1929. Maisie essentially took over this business, but still turns to Maurice when she needs help with a case.

Frankie Dobbs is Maisie’s father and the groom for the Compton estate. He is the only family Maisie has left.

Priscilla was Maisie’s college roommate and continues to be one of her dearest friends. She lost all of her brothers during the war and stayed in France at its conclusion. Her married life is a contrast to Maisie’s, and is always trying to help Maisie find happiness.

Number in the Series:

There are currently 13 Maisie Dobbs book available, with a 14th book expected to be released next month. These books don’t necessarily need to be read in order, but you should absolutely read the first book before any others to learn the backstory.

  1. Maisie Dobbs
  2. Birds of a Feather
  3. Pardonable Lies
  4. Messenger of Truth
  5. An Incomplete Revenge
  6. Among the Mad
  7. The Mapping of Love and Death
  8. A Lesson in Secrets
  9. Elegy for Eddie
  10. Leaving Everything Most Loved
  11. A Dangerous Place
  12. Journey to Munich
  13. In This Grave Hour
  14. To Die but Once - Expected late March 2018

Final Word:

This is a good series with a strong female lead. She is unique both in her time period and in modern literature. I (Lindsey) feel that these books are important to the mystery genre and literature in general because they cover a time period long forgotten. You can find a book about World War II on nearly every shelf of our library, but the years leading up to that war are rarely mentioned. The young men and women living in the interwar years were struggling with problems that we cannot imagine. They were recovering from the worst war in history (up to that point) and watching the world’s politicians march toward something eerily similar to that which they just escaped.