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Laura the Library Lady

I am a librarian in a public library. I have always loved to read and growing up, one of my favorite books (one of many!) was All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor, Each week, five sisters went to the library to check out a book and see their beloved 'library lady'. I adored her too and love being called 'The Library Lady" I have a bachelor's degree in History from University of Texas at Dallas and a Master's of Library Science from Texas Women's University.

Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane

Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane: A True Story of Victorian Law and Disorder: The First Unsolved Murder of the Victorian Age - Paul Thomas Murphy

I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane tells the true story of the 1871 unsolved murder of maid of all work Jane Maria Clouson. Police made a quick arrest of middle class Edmund Pook, but his trial did little to bring justice to Jane. Class tensions rose to a head, the police were made out to be fools and the whole trial turned into a fiasco. Murphy weaves the different storylines into one seamless, compelling narrative.

I enjoyed Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane (as much as one can enjoy reading about a horrific murder). Murphy does an excellent job bringing to life the different worlds Edmund and Jane lived in. We get plenty of details about the life of a maid, the world of the Victorian middle class and the ins and outs of Victorian police investigations and trials. My attention never strayed while reading Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane and I felt like I was reading the Victorian version of Dateline. Jane was portrayed sympathetically and I didn’t feel that her alleged killer was purposely vilified. The facts that were presented to readers were the same that were known in 1871; it never felt as though the story was embellished to make it more entertaining. Since Jane’s murder was never solved, it is frustrating not to end the book with a nice conclusion of who did it, why they did, and how they did it. I did appreciate Murphy pulling together a plausible account of the ‘who, why, and how’ at the end of the book based on today’s legal system and the known facts of the case.

Fans of true crime, as well as history buffs will enjoy Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane. It is well written and never drags. I would recommend it to readers who enjoy Victorian Crimes (such as books about Jack the Ripper) and as a ‘follow up’ read to Lucy Worsley’s The Art of the English Murder.  

Review: Floodwaters and Flames: The 1913 Disaster in Dayton, Ohio by Louis Miner Huey

Floodwaters and Flames: The 1913 Disaster in Dayton, Ohio - Lois Miner Huey

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 


Floodwaters and Flames tells the mostly forgotten story of the 1913 flood in Dayton, Ohio. I had not heard of the Great Dayton Flood before and was interested to learn about it. Lois Miner Huey brings attention to an extraordinary event in American History, attention that is long overdue. I learned a lot from Floodwaters and Flames and was impressed by the heroism show by the people within its pages. Huey does an excellent job recounting the events of 1913 in a way that young readers will understand


I liked how the book focuses on individuals who lived through the flood, telling the timeline of events through their eyes. The cast of characters ranges from the famous—Wilbur Wright--to the everyday citizen. Each played their own important role in the flood and many were hailed as heroes long after the floodwaters receded and the smoked cleared.


I love history. I enjoy reading non-fiction. I want to pass this onto my patrons, but it can be difficult when children’s books look and read like a school textbook. Floodwaters and Flames is the perfect non-fiction book to hand to children. Many will be familiar with Wilber Wright, and Huey’s writing makes it feel like an adventure story. The layout of the book is eye catching. The timeline and glossary in the back are helpful to young readers new to nonfiction. Fans of Lauren Tarshis’s I Survived series will enjoy reading a real life disaster survival story