Monthly Archives: May 2014

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

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Times are rough for Clay Jannon.  As a single male, he finds himself desperately trying to survive in San Francisco’s lackluster job market.  Working as a social media specialist for New Bagel Company, he attempts to draw more people in, to little avail, by offering coupons.  As things go wrong the company folds and the owners are off to another country.

Now, following in the footsteps of other unemployed workers, he searches through the online newspaper classifieds, in the hopes of finding employment and becoming a successful, accomplished young adult.  Walking around the streets keeping a vigilant eye out for stores with HELP WANTED signs displayed.  Clay spots a bookstore with a sign in the window:

HELP WANTED
Late Shift
Specific Requirements
Good Benefits

Thus begins a new chapter in Clay’s employment career as Mr. Penumbra, a little old shop keeper, reminiscent of Mr. Magoo sans visual impairment, hires him on the spot.  Filled with adventure and secret societies, the bookshop isn’t your typical bookstore, People from the community visit it to take out a book without ever having to pay for it.

While the late night shift turns slowly, one after the other, Clay decides to make a model of the bookstore, down to the exact dimensions of its contents, using his laptop.  When he finally completes the 3D blueprint of the store, secrets are revealed, which lead not only himself, but his friends and Penumbra on a through-provoking adventure.

Though this book may be labeled as Science Fiction, disregard the genre and immerse yourself as a fellow bibliophile ready to see what happens next in Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.

Formats Available:  Book (in both Regular Type and Large Type)

Reviewed by Micah, Shively Branch

Laika by Nick Abadzis: The World’s Saddest Graphic Novel

Laika

 

Have you already read The Fault in Our Stars and need another tear jerker?  Look no further – this is it.  I started Laika in a coffee shop but I had to leave when the water works started.  I finished the book in private where no one would judge me crying over a graphic novel about a dog.  It was…an awkward moment.

You’ve been warned.

Before humans went into space, before chimps, there was Laika – the first living creature to go into orbit around the Earth.  Laika went up in Sputnik II; a rushed second satellite launched by the Soviets in 1957.

Laika was a loveable and loyal terrier mix who ended up going from home to home, even being a homeless stray, before getting caught by the dog catcher and given to the Soviet space program for experimentation.   Through all of it she was an upbeat dog, even loving the scientists who put her through such experiences like  being in the centrifuge at 4 G’s or strapping her into special dog space harnesses.   Those who worked with her came to love her so dearly, and author Abadzis really conveys the pain of the scientists who knew what they were doing – sending the dog on a one way trip into space.

Abadzis not only shows us what the stressed out and overworked Soviet scientists went through, but also lets us see the world through Laika’s eyes.  We see her confusion, her love, and in the end her pain.  This is story is not sugar coated – and it will break your heart.  Even if the story of Laika is familiar to you, this is a recommended read.

Formats Available:  Book

Reviewed by Lynette, Highlands-Shelby Park Branch

LFPL’s Summer Reading begins June 1st!

SR2014

Help us kick off the biggest Summer Reading ever on May 31st, 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at the Main Library!

There will be BIG games, BIG performances, BIG crafts, and Dinosaurs!

The kickoff is free.

For more information call (502) 574-1620.

The Library’s Summer Reading Program is presented by The Library Foundation and is free for children up to 5th grade.

Click here to learn more.

And be sure to join us for lots of FREE, family-friendly programs and activities all summer long at the Library – click here.

 

 

Six Months Later by Natalie Richards

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Ever heard your-self say, “I don’t remember what I did yesterday?”  Imagine waking to find that you have lost six months of your life and in the interim you have changed into someone you don’t even recognize.

It was May when Chloe drifted off to sleep in detention class but when she awoke it was November, snow falling outside the dark cafeteria window.  Her fingernails were caked with dirt, the knees of her jeans, too, were dirt packed.  Then he was there, behind her, asking why she had called him. Called him? Never in her right mind would she have called Adam Reed, the quintessential bad boy at school. Was this a nightmare or reality?

Chloe, formally an average student, was now at the top of her class, her boyfriend was Blake Tanner the most popular guy in the school and her best friend, the reason she had gotten detention, hated her. She had everything her parents ever wanted for her, grades that could get her into the best college, a boyfriend who was the catch of the school, friends that were from the best families in town and yet, something was definitely wrong.

When had she and Adam Reed had become more than just friends?  Why had a family that had lived here since the beginning moved away and why did Chloe care?  Even Adam and Blake seemed to have secrets between them that centered around her. Then, the psychiatrist she had gone to for answers turns up dead. Chloe had better find answers soon or she could very well be next.

The characters are brought to life with all their imperfections. Some you may want to hug, some you may want to cry for, some you may want to shake some sense into and some you just want to choke. There is intrigue and mystery, murder and mayhem, romance and friendship and a whole lot of questions. In the end, one of the most important questions is left up to the reader to decide for themselves. “How could this have happened in the first place?”  Get ready to curl up in a warm spot because Six Months Later could make your blood run cold.

Formats Available:  Book, eBook

Reviewed by Katy, Shawnee Branch

May 10, 2014 is The How-To Festival!

There’s something for everybody, even readers!

Here’s a few things being offered that you can learn how to do:

  • download newpaper articles using microfilm
  • search historical newspapers
  • read and write braille
  • publish your own book

How-To Festival -- Saturday, May 10 at the Main Library

Saturday, May 10, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Main Library

For the complete schedule of presentations – click here.


If you are planning to go, let us know:

Want to join the conversation? Connect with us (#howtofestival):

 


In the meantime, check out our videos about The How-To Festival at LFPL’s YouTube channel.


Special thanks to our sponsors:

Community Foundation of LouisvilleThe Library Foundation

Jackie Ormes: The First African American Woman Cartoonist by Nancy Goldstein

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Jackie Ormes: The First African American Woman Cartoonist is a strange bird of a book.  On one hand, it is a reverent – albeit short – biography of a mostly-forgotten forerunner of modern black women in comics.  Cheryl Lynn Eaton (creator of the web-comic Simulated Life and founder of the Ormes Society), Rosario Dawson (co-creator of Occult Crimes Taskforce), Afua Richardson (artist for Genius), and Jackie Broadnax (creator of the Black Girl Nerds blog) all owe a huge debt to Jackie Ormes‘ trailblazing comics.  Ormes authored and drew four different strips from 1937 to 1954 which appeared in African American newspapers, particularly the Pittsburgh Courier and the Chicago Defender.

This was a time, of course, when opportunities for African Americans and women, let alone African American women, were limited in the comics industry.  In addition, the series were – mostly – not the kind of simple gag strip that was a major part of the industry.  They expressed many moods and dealt with topics often not touched by other comics.  Her work Patty-Jo ‘n’ Ginger was very direct in taking on racism and McCarthyism. Another strip, Torchy in Heartbeats followed an educated African-American protagonist as she not only navigated romantic options but also issues of race, environmental activism, and even foreign intrigue.

Due to Ormes’ outspoken political beliefs and activism on their behalf, she was targeted by the FBI during the late 1940’s and 1950’s.  Goldstein has appended excerpts from the FBI file.  These primarily consist of several different interviews that were conducted over the years due to her leftist leanings and the anti-Communist hysteria of the times.  Ormes consistently stated (and nothing to the contrary was definitively documented by the FBI) that she was not a Communist though sympathetic to the Party’s anti-racist and pro-worker principles.

But on the other hand, author Nancy Goldstein was previously known for having written histories of dolls. It is Goldstein’s initial interest in dolls that led to the creation of this biography. Jackie Ormes developed a positive African American doll, produced by the Terri Lee Doll Company, in the late 1940’s.  An examination of the doll’s creation, marketing, and impact – a small part of Ormes’ artistic output – takes up a large portion of the book.

The Patty-Jo dolls were based on the younger sister of her most prolific strip.  Patty-Jo was not as glamorous as her older sister, Ginger, but she was the one given all the pointed dialogue in the strip.  As a doll, though, Patty-Jo had many outfits and hair that was able to be easily styled.  This made her an appealing toy to young African-American girls who had – at that time – very few choices for African-American dolls that were not stereotypical or demeaning.

For readers primarily interested in the comic side of Ormes’ work, there are copious illustrations from her strips, some early drawings, and other sketches.  Her line work is typical of the time in that it is solid, clean, and mostly realistic.  Sometimes the perspective of the human body is odd but oddly enduring at the same time.  I found great joy in just flipping back and forth over the illustrations.

Goldstein knows that this book is somewhat incomplete in documenting the impact of Jackie Ormes and acknowledges so in the Conclusion.  Some of this is due to the general lack of archives for old African-American newspapers in many library collections.  To help rectify this problem, she calls for renewed donation of materials to and funding for several main collections of comic material such as the Cartoon Research Library (Ohio State University) or the Comic Art Collection (Michigan State University).

 Formats Available: Book

Reviewed by Tony, Main Library