Alexander McCall Smith is coming to LFPL

AMS

New York Times bestselling author of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series

Alexander McCall Smith

Main Library, Thursday, April 9, 7 p.m.

Join author Alexander McCall Smith for a discussion of his latest book Emma—a retelling of Jane Austen’s classic story, with a modern-day twist. #LFPLAuthors

This is a free event, but tickets are required – click here.


Authors at the Library podcast

Miss an author event, or just want to enjoy a presentation again?

Author Events and Book Talks Around Louisville

The List is a service of the Louisville Free Public Library, spotlighting author events for our partner organizations. For more information please email us.

Events are free unless otherwise noted.


MARCH 2015

Tuesday, March 17, 8:30 a.m.: Tom Rath, bestselling author of Strengths Based Leadership and How Full is Your Bucket?  will give a keynote address at the Best of Leadership Summit at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts at 501 W. Main Street. Learn more online or by calling (502) 561-0458.

Thursday, March 19, 7:00 p.m.: Louisville’s own Tania James will read and sign her newest novel, The Tusk That Did the Damage, at Carmichael’s Bookstore, 2720 Frankfort Ave.  Learn more online or by calling 502-896-6950.

Tuesday, March 24, 6:00 p.m.: The Kentucky Author Forum presents David Boies, author of Redeeming the Dream: The Case for Marriage Equality.  Boies will be interviewed by Jeffrey Toobin. Toobin is a prominent legal journalist, staff writer for The New Yorker, senior analyst for CNN, and author.  Purchase tickets at the Kentucky Center’s box office or drive-through on Main Street, by calling 502-584-7777 or 800-775-7777, or online.

Thursday, March 26, 7:30 p.m.: Novelist Michelle Latiolais will read from her work in the Bingham Poetry Room, Ekstrom Library as part of the William Axton Reading Series at U of L.  Learn more online or by calling 502-852-6801.

Tuesday, March 31, 7:00 p.m.: Sam Halpern will read and sign his debut novel, A Far Piece to Canaan, at Carmichael’s Bookstore, 2720 Frankfort Ave.  Learn more online or by calling 502-896-6950.

APRIL 2015

Thursday, April 2, 7:30 p.m.: U of L professor and novelist Paul Griner will read from his work in the Bingham Poetry Room, Ekstrom Library as part of the William Axton Reading Series at U of L. Learn more online or by calling 502-852-6801.

For information about author appearances throughout Kentucky, visit the Kentucky Literary Newsletter.

The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Sylvie Davis was a Prima Ballerina.  One step, two steps, then she heard a crunching sound.  Now Sylvie Davis a broken doll.

splendorfalls

It was hard not to be bitter, she would never dance again. And now, Sylvie’s mother was sending her off to her father’s old family home in Alabama to stay with a cousin.  It was for the best she was told, recuperate away from everything she’d lost. The alternative was to be shut away in an institution for drug and alcohol abuse. At least Gigi, her dog, was going with her. What she hadn’t expected to find was the Southern plantation type of home complete with secrets, ghosts, a steel magnolia relative who wasn’t fond of dogs and two guys playing dangerous games, with Sylvie at the center of it all.

At first it was hard not to be cynical. All she wanted was to be left alone. It was Gigi who found the over grown garden with the large blue stone, similar to those at Stonehenge, at its center.  Just what Sylvie needed to take her mind off of herself for a time. As she worked to restore the garden, she began to open her eyes to those around her, including Shawn, the charismatic leader of the Teen Town Council and Rhys, the young Welshman, doing research at an archeological dig nearby. Then she heard the sound of a baby crying, saw a young woman, dressed in old fashioned clothing, running towards the cliff and the cold, the incredible cold that followed.  There was a supernatural power in the earth and what Sylvie didn’t know was that she had the ability to draw it out for good or bad, just as she would have to choose between Shawn and Rhys.

While not a speedy read, the story is in the telling.  This paranormal romance has a mash of history, a few hints at environmental lessons, a splash of magic, a smattering of mystical folklore and a bit of greed. It’s peopled with the good, the slightly self-interested and finally those who will find their way in the end. Puzzling out how it all fits together can be fun in itself. You won’t find all the answers, for some of the story you can simply fill in the blanks. However, if you are looking for a rainy day read, this one can while away the hours with a bit of Southern charm, romance in the air and a touch of magic.

Formats Available:  Book (Regular Type)

Reviewed by Katy, Shawnee Branch

The Accidental Alchemist by Gigi Pandian

pandianWhile I’m not usually a mystery reader, this book caught my attention because of its beautiful cover. After reading the back, it seemed to be almost a mystery/science fiction crossover. The story begins by introducing us to Zoe Faust who is a 300 year old accidental alchemist. She has lived on the road for most of her years, and if finally settling down in a fixer upper in a quaint small town. When unpacking her items in her new house, she finds that she has brought along a gargoyle named Dorian that is seeking her help. He not only speaks many languages, but happens to be an excellent French chef. Dorian needs Zoe’s help in making sure that he remains alive with a mysterious alchemy book that he has brought along with him.

The antics begin when Zoe comes home from a walk to find not only Dorian’s book missing, but a dead contractor on her front step. This brings Detective Liu to her door and the wayward youth Brixton to help along the way. Zoe is still trying to determine at this point whether Dorian may have had a hand in the murder, but eventually realizes him to be an ally in their investigation.

This story could be very entertaining, but seems to fall short in its storytelling. The author reminds the reader of key points multiple times within the storyline, and it becomes exhausting at some points for the reader. Also even though we know Zoe is 300 years old, she for the most part behaves and thinks like your normal twenty year old.  Even though the story did have multiple shortcomings, I did continue it through to the end because I was interested to see who had stolen the books and committed the murder. This may be a good pick for food mystery lovers, and there is even a bonus section in the appendix of recipes mentioned in the book. This book had all the pieces but just failed to connect them into a successful mystery.

Formats available: Book, E-book

Reviewed by Sara, Okolona Branch

The Mockingbird Next Door

Interest piqued by the recent announcement that American literary legend Harper Lee will be publishing a new novel? Want to know what the author of one of the most widely read books in America has been doing for the past 50+ years? Marja MillsThe Mockingbird Next Door: Life With Harper Lee is just about the only option you have, but fortunately it’s an excellent one.

harperlee

Lee, who was last in the public eye in the mid-1960s, has eschewed numerous opportunities to be recognized for her literary masterpiece, a book that helped fuel the progress of Civil Rights era reforms and whose hero, small town attorney Atticus Finch, continues to inspire readers today. Her motivations, as outlined by Mills, are certainly relatable: a desire to protect her own privacy and of those she loves; a distrust of those wishing to capitalize on her opus; and a general distaste for constantly being in the spotlight.

When writing Harper Lee’s biography, journalist Mills had to work hard to gain the author’s trust. The Chicago Tribune writer moved to Monroeville, AL with the intention of getting a few interviews and slowly developed earnest friendships with both Lee and her sister. Why did Lee lift the veil on her life now, why not live the rest of her days enjoying her privacy? Mills offers a few explanations. First, she wanted to have the story of the Lee family told by someone she trusted. Second, she wanted to set the record straight on a few things, namely any controversy that remains over who actually wrote To Kill a Mockingbird (Truman Capote, Lee’s childhood friend, had once claimed credit) and some allegations levied by Capote regarding Lee’s mother. Lee and Capote’s friendship had a long history and had even blossomed into a professional collaboration when she traveled to Kansas with him in the early 1960s to do research for what would later become In Cold Blood. The pain of betrayal Lee experienced with Capote is palpable in Mills’ pages.

So how does (Nelle) Harper Lee spend her days? For much of her adult life she spent half of her year in New York, where she enjoyed anonymity and the cultural offerings of a great city. The other half she spent in her hometown in Alabama, hanging out with friends and her beloved sister Alice, who in her 90s was still practicing law and being recognized for her work in social causes. Mills makes Lee’s days of fishing, storytelling and visiting cemeteries in her corner of Alabama sound as stimulating as her days in NYC must have been.

Mills’ unauthorized biography of Lee paints a picture of a woman true to herself and her values, who had to struggle against renown in order to live the life she wanted. The author maintains a professional detachment in reporting her story and spent enough time with Lee to know her as a person, not simply a literary legend.

Still, she confesses to occasionally feeling starstruck during those moments in Lee’s company when she realized, “Oh my god, I’m fishing/visiting/shopping for groceries with Harper Lee!” Dearest to the biographer’s heart were their morning coffee dates at Mills’ kitchen table, commenced by the phone ringing and Harper Lee’s voice on the other end saying, “Hi hon. You pourin’?”

Formats Available: Book (Regular Print and Large Type), eBook

Reviewed by Valerie, Iroquois Branch

Book Sizzle

Looking for new reading suggestions? 

Each of the lists below feature titles with descriptions and links to LFPL’s catalog

Click on your favorite genre or expand your horizons and try something new!


What’s hot in fiction, from young sensations, established literary masters, and tomorrow’s bestsellers. Selections in women’s fiction, historical novels, suspense and more.

 

Enter the world of romance fiction, where love is always exciting and new. You can read reviews of the best new romance novels, from historical and contemporary love stories to romantic suspense and inspirational titles.

 

Truth is often stranger than fiction. If you lean towards true stories, you’ll want to check out this list to see the newest non fiction titles added to the library.  Whether your goal is improving your personal finances, or leading your company to record sales, get a heads-up on books that will help you get ahead in the business world.
Get the lowdown on the hottest whodunits. Check out your favorite sleuths, forecasts of promising new mystery series and profiles of top writers in the world of crime fiction. From self-help and fitness to home decor, books designed to fit your active lifestyle and renew your spirit are featured here. This list will steer you toward the best new cookbooks, gardening guides, pet care manuals and more.
Are you a fan of thrillers, espionage, westerns…? Don’t miss this list of fiction adventure titles new to the library. Find out about cutting-edge discoveries and travel to exciting destinations. Including the best new books in medicine, biology and the great outdoors.
Stay informed on the people, places and events that influence world affairs. Check out new books on current events, along with recommended memoirs, biographies and history titles. Step into the future with reviews of new science fiction titles that will take you to brave new worlds. This list also recommends rising stars in fantasy and alternate history.
Independent readers will appreciate these monthly recommendations on exciting new chapter books in fiction and nonfiction. A monthly preview of the best new books for budding readers. You will learn about sure-to-please choices for storytime.
Take a sneak peek at the hottest new titles for young adults. From science fiction to romance, history to mystery, these monthly picks for teens offer something for every reader.

Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by Dr. David D Burns

feelingoodWinter months can seem to drag on forever.  With all the gray gloom it’s easy to start feeling glum.  It’s rare I recommend a self-help book — or even read one myself — but if you find this winter is taking its toll on you, try Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by Dr. David D. Burns.  Dr. Burns has been studying cognitive therapy and mood fluctuation for decades.  When Feeling Good first hit the shelves in 1980, no one knew much about cognitive therapy or how successful it could be as a means to treat depression and low self-confidence.  Now, many years and revised editions later, Feeling Good has sold millions of copies and is recommended by mental health professionals over and over.

Don’t let the topic scare you, this book is a wonderful reminder for us on how to be kind to ourselves whether you need a little winter pick-me-up, or are suffering with long term negative thoughts.  In studies, the ideas Dr. Burns discusses in Feeling Good are proven to work better than many other methods currently used to help improve mood and confidence.  Feeling anxious with life?  Work?  School?  Life?  These are all things which can bring people down and make them feel unsure.  The main focus of Dr. Burns research is that all thoughts create feelings.  Further, if we are able to turn initial negative thoughts around – and look at things more objectively – then our feelings will be more positive.  Sounds simple but for many of us it’s not.

Don’t let the winter months get you down, if you need a break from the cold but can’t afford a trip to warmer climates, try Feeling Good By Dr. Burns instead – and maybe mentally you can find your beach oasis.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Feeling Good  is discussed in Marbles by Ellen Forney which is one of March’s suggested reading titles for the Graphic Novel Discussion Group at the Main. Library.  The topic is Graphic Medicine: Narratives of Illness & Caregiving.  The meeting starts at 6:00 PM on Monday, March 9, 2015.

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton

secretwisdom

The tragic loss of a small child drives Annie into herself. Her husband can do nothing to console her, but readily points the finger at their surviving son, Kevin, who is smothered by guilt, but unlike his mother is aware of the need to move on. The decision is made for mother and son to leave Indiana for Annie’s family homestead in the Appalachian mountains, where readers find out that this was not the first premature or violent death visited upon the Peebles bloodline; Annie’s mother died as a complication of her birth, while her grandfather was targeted as an early activist for miner’s rights. When Annie returns to her father’s home, he too has known grief and is ready to give his daughter and grandson the space to heal.

Pops Peebles has commanded a great deal of respect amongst the inhabitants of fictional Medgar, Kentucky. He entertains his closest friends most every night with front porch talk and colorful stories, always accompanied by glasses of sour mash in engraved crystal. Like his father, who stood up for safe working conditions for his fellow miners, Pops is also concerned with fighting for what he thinks is best for his community that has slowly degraded due to surface mining practices.

Medgar was once thriving and proud, but in 1985, its beauty has been scarred, its waters polluted, and its economy has slowly trickled to almost nothing. Decline and loss are a painful terrain from which The Secret Wisdom of the Earth‘s youngest characters develop; some who triumph and others only add to the devastation. Kevin, who for most of the book holds back on revealing the circumstances of his brother’s death, finds himself with open-ended days to wander the forest around his grandfather’s home. There he meets Buzzy, a local boy near his own age, and they spend their days exploring the wilderness, navigating bullies, and admiring the opposite sex. The two become inseparable until another tragedy strikes, and the boys are forced to weigh allegiances over conscience.

Whether you’re a fan of regional stories, have an interest in mountaintop removal, or just appreciate a great coming-of-age tale stocked with colorful characters, I encourage you give this first literary effort by Christopher Scotton a top place on your reading list.

Formats Available: Book, eBook

 Reviewed by Natalie, Crescent Hill

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

NOS482

 

After just finishing Joe Hill’s book Horns and also watching the movie based on the book, I was eager to dig into more of his novels. Alas, I found just what I was looking for to read during the Christmas season. NOS4A2 combines the best of the horror genre with a Christmas topping in a wonderfully horrible world called Christmasland.

Meet Vic, the only girl who ever escaped from the notorious criminal Charles Manx. Victoria or Vic has a special power. She can find any lost thing that she wishes to. By hopping on her bike and traveling across a bridge that she can only see, she is transported to the exact location where the item resides. This talent delivers her right into the hands of notorious child kidnapper Charles Manx. Manx also has a special power, draining the life out of children and transporting them to a different reality that only he can visit, Christmasland. While Christmasland sounds like a delightful place to visit, it truly is something out of your worst nightmare including children wanting to eat you for their next meal.

Fast forward several chapters within in the book, we learn that Vic has grown into a mess of a person because of both her talent and her previous kidnapping by Charles Manx. Manx has been in a coma for several years within a hospital due to Vic’s testimony, but when he dies his body suspiciously disappears from the morgue. By way of an old friend and scrabble tiles, Vic learns that Manx is on the move again and coming straight for her and her family. What follows is a wild ride between good and evil that has lasting effects on every character in the story.

Hill does an excellent job at forming his characters and by the end of the story the reader has formed a connection with both Vic and her family. Horror readers will see the connection between the classic vampire story and a more modern that Hill has created in NOSS4A2. The book is daunting at over 700 pages, but I guarantee you will enjoy the wild ride in the back seat of a 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith with a license plate of NOS4A2.

 

Formats Available:  Regular Type, eBook, Graphic Novel

Reviewed by Sara, Okolona Branch

The Plot According to Dinner – The Dinner by Herman Koch

“If I had to give a definition of happiness, it would be this: happiness needs nothing but itself; it doesn’t have to be validated…unhappy families – and within those families, in particular the unhappy husband and wife – can never get by on their own. The more validators, the merrier. Unhappiness loves company. Unhappiness can’t stand silence – especially not the uneasy silence that settles in when it is all alone.”  - Paul Lohman, narrator, The Dinner

With some novels, the plot is discernible in the first few pages, while with others, it is issued forth piecemeal, in bites that, if well-written, are greedily devoured by the reader. The Dinner, written by the internationally-renown Dutch author Herman Koch, belongs with the latter and certainly possesses the sort of narration that propels the reader forward along with the unfolding tale.

dinnerkoch

The setting in which the majority of the story takes place is an unnamed (“…because next time it might be full of people who’ve come to see whether we’re there.”), fashionable (“…the lamb’s-neck sweetbread has been marinated in Sardinian olive oil and is served with arugula..”) restaurant in Amsterdam where two couples are having dinner, cleverly emphasized with the five sections of the book named for stages of the meal: Aperitif, Appetizer, Main Course, Dessert, Digestif.

The night in which the dinner takes place finds two couples meeting for some specific reason that remains initially unknown. As the story progresses, it is revealed that the two men are in fact brothers, Serge and Paul Lohman, brothers who could not be more different, as brothers seem very often to be. Incidentally, both couples have fifteen-year-old sons, close cousins whose shared actions have the potential for absolute ruin, and this is the reason for their culinary endeavor.

As the evening marches on and details come to light, the niceties and early conversation dominated by light topics disappear, and what emerges are parents desperately devoted to their sons and intent on securing their futures in the way they are convinced is best, whatever the cost. Tension can find its source in all manner of things, and at times, it is the unseen undercurrent that vexes the reader most – it is known that something is there, something is terribly wrong, but what exactly it is defies instant revelation.

The Dinner offers the reader prose of the first order and a top notch mystery, not a mystery in the Agatha Christie sense, but a mystery of just what exactly happened, who is to blame, and what is to be done. Truth can be a tricky thing, especially in a realm in which familial love and devotion is the rule of the day.

“It’s like a pistol in a stage play: when someone waves a pistol during the first act, you can bet your bottom dollar that someone will be shot with it before the curtain falls. That’s the law of drama. The law that says no pistol must appear if no one’s going to fire it.”  - Paul Lohman, narrator, The Dinner

Formats Available:  Book (Regular Type), eBook, Audiobook (CD)

Reviewed by Rob, Crescent Hill