Author Archives: Tony

Over the Rainbow Project Top Ten for 2016

June is Pride Month.

To get in the spirit, try some of the titles from the 2016 Over the Rainbow Project book list.  The list is sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association.  These are books for adults that are recognized for their “authentic expression of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experiences.”

 

Mislaid
Mislaid
By Zink, Nell
2015-05 – Ecco Press
9780062364777
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Awards:
National Book Awards (2015)

In 1960s Virginia, college freshman and ingenue Peggy falls for professor and poet Lee, and what begins as an ill-advised affair results in an unplanned pregnancy and marriage. Mismatched from the start she’s a lesbian; he’s gay Peggy eventually finds herself in crisis and runs away with their daughter, leaving their son behind.

Estranged from the rest of the family, Peggy and her daughter

…More

The Argonauts
The Argonauts

By Nelson, Maggie
2015-05 – Graywolf Press
9781555977078
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An intrepid voyage out to the frontiers of the latest thinking about love, language, and family

Maggie Nelson’s “The Argonauts “is a genre-bending memoir, a work of “autotheory” offering fresh, fierce, and timely thinking about desire, identity, and the limitations and possibilities of love and language. At its center is a romance: the story of the author’s relationship with the artist Harry

…More

Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home
Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home

By Piepzna-Samarasinha, Leah Lakshmi
2015-11 – Arsenal Pulp Press
9781551526003
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Lambda Literary Award finalist

In 1996, poet Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha ran away from America with two backpacks and ended up in Canada, where she discovered queer anarchopunk love and revolution, yet remained haunted by the reasons she left home in the first place. This passionate and riveting memoir is a mixtape of dreams and nightmares, of immigration court lineups and queer South

…More

How to Grow Up: A Memoir
How to Grow Up: A Memoir

By Tea, Michelle
2015-01 – Plume Books
9780142181195
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A gutsy, wise memoir-in-essays from a writer praised as impossible to put down (“People”)

As an aspiring young writer in San Francisco, Michelle Tea lived in a scuzzy communal house; she drank, smoked, snorted anything she got her hands on; she toiled for the minimum wage; and she dated men and women, and sometimes both at once.But between hangovers and dead-end jobs, she scrawled in

…More

No House to Call My Home: Love, Family, and Other Transgressions
No House to Call My Home: Love, Family, and Other Transgressions

By Berg, Ryan
2015-08 – Nation Books
9781568585093
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Awards:
Minnesota Book Award (2016)

In this lyrical debut, Ryan Berg immerses readers in the gritty, dangerous, and shockingly underreported world of homeless LGBTQ teens in New York. As a caseworker in a group home for disowned LGBTQ teenagers, Berg witnessed the struggles, fears, and ambitions of these disconnected youth as they resisted the pull of the street, tottering between destruction and survival.

Focusing on

…More

Visions and Revisions
Visions and Revisions

By Peck, Dale
2015-04 – Soho Press
9781616954413
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Novelist and critic Dale Peck’s latest work part memoir, part extended essay is a foray into what the author calls the second half of the first half of the AIDS epidemic, i.e., the period between 1987, when the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) was founded, and 1996, when the advent of combination therapy transformed AIDS from a virtual death sentence into a chronic manageable illness. <br

…More

The Evening Chorus
The Evening Chorus
By
Humphreys, Helen
2015-02 – Mariner Books
9780544348691
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Awards:
Governor General’s Literary Awards (2015)

“The Evening Chorus” serenades people brutally marked by war, yet enduring to live and relish the tiny pleasures of another day. With her trademark prose exquisitely limpid Humphreys convinces us of the birdlike strength of the powerless. Emma Donoghue Downed during his first mission, James Hunter is taken captive as a German POW. To bide the time, he studies a nest of redstarts at the edge of

…More

The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle
The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle

By Faderman, Lillian
2015-09 – Simon & Schuster
9781451694116
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Awards:
ALA Notable Books (2016)

The most comprehensive history to date of America’s gay-rights movement. “The Economist”

A “New York Times” Notable Book of 2015

The sweeping story of the modern struggle for gay, lesbian, and trans rights from the 1950s to the present based on amazing interviews with politicians, military figures, legal activists, and members of the entire LGBT community who face these

…More

Arresting Dress: Cross-Dressing, Law, and Fascination in Nineteenth-Century San Francisco
Arresting Dress: Cross-Dressing, Law, and Fascination in Nineteenth-Century San Francisco

By Sears, Clare
2014-12 – Duke University Press
9780822357544
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In 1863, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors passed a law that criminalized appearing in public in a dress not belonging to his or her sex. Adopted as part of a broader anti-indecency campaign, the cross-dressing law became a flexible tool for policing multiple gender transgressions, facilitating over one hundred arrests before the century’s end. Over forty U.S. cities passed similar laws during

…More

Girl Sex 101
Girl Sex 101

By Moon, Allison
Illustrator Diamond, KD
2015-04 – Lunatic Ink
9780983830955
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Girl Sex 101 is a sex-ed book like no other, offering helpful info for ladies and lady-lovers of all genders and identities, playful and informative illustrations on each page, and over 100 distinct voices, plus a hot narrative that shows you how to put the info to good use Learn how to navigate the twists and turns of female sexuality with special guidance from thirteen guest sex educators

…More

 

NOTE:  LFPL does not carry the last two items.  If you are interested in obtaining copies, you might want to see if they are available through our Interlibrary Loan service.

My Top Ten Graphic Novels of 2015

Man, 2015 was a killer year for the graphic novel format and especially for the library’s ever-expanding collection of graphic titles (thanks to LFPL’s graphic novel selector and manager of the Newburg Branch, Kerry Hunter).

I’ve been sitting on this top ten for so-o-o long because I keep on changing my mind about what should make it and what shouldn’t.  Since it’s way beyond late for best-of lists, let me drop it on you as is…ten picks in alphabetical (rather than rank) order.

Many of the titles are ongoing series so I’ve just named each series as a whole rather than any specific volume. I have included artists when listing creators but some titles have multiple artists so then I’ve only listed the writer.

  • Batgirl by Cameron Stewart/Brendan Fletcher — Barbara Gordon is off to college, living in a new part of town, and Batgirl is changing along with her! The stories are well-paced and the art by Brendan Fletcher is a fresh change of pace from typical superhero fare.

batgirl

  • Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick/Valentine De Landro — Imagine The Handmaid’s Tale if it was a women-in-prison exploitation film…set in space!  The art by Valentine De Landro perfectly reflects the 1970’s grindhouse aesthetic that co-creator Kelly Sue DeConnick is evoking.  However, rather than titillating the male gaze, DeConnick serves up an entertaining kick to the groin of Patriarchy!

bitchplanet

  • Deadly Class by Rick Remender — Set in 1987, this tale of punk rock rebellion mixed with a twisted take on the classic boarding school setting is a non-stop thriller.  Rick Remender once again deftly develops his outsider character, here named Marcus Lopez.  Lopez clearly has a lot of heart, screwed up as it may be, as he trains to be an assassin and falls in love with the wrong girl.

deadly class

  • Finder by Carla Speed McNeil — Whoa! It is hard to describe this series as Carla Speed McNeil, both author and artist, has spent the better part of 20 years developing this sci-fi/fantasy tale about a futuristic society that may or may not be here on Earth.  The main character, Jaeger, is the titular Finder, his aboriginal society’s title for a certain kind of shaman.  Issues of race, class, the nature of work, the power of reading, magic, and sexuality are all explored as we follow Jaegar’s travels.

finderthird

  • Ms. Marvel by G.W. Wilson — Kamala Khan is a nerdy but cool first generation Pakistani-American teen just trying to get through school and keep up with her fan obsessions (one of whom is Carol Danvers, a.k.a. Captain Marvel) when she is exposed to the mysterious Terrigen Mist.  Once exposed, Kamala finds herself with new powers, ones that she she uses to keep her hometown safe – even though she has strict immigrant parents, a curfew, and the constant monitoring of the Inhumans to boot.

msmarvel

  • Nimona by Noelle Stevenson — Nimona is one heck of a little hell-raiser and don’t you forget it!  She forces her way into the life of the villain Lord Blackheart so that she can become his apprentice.  As Lord Blackheart battles his arch-nemesis Sir Goldenloin, he finds Nimona just may be too wild to guide.  Noelle Stevenson’s art can be said to be simple and cute but is sophisticated enough to portray the darkness of the soul when needed.

nimona

  • Outcast by Robert Kirkman/Paul Azaceta — Demon possession is tackled by Robert Kirkman, the writer who brought us The Walking Dead.  Kyle Barnes’s life has been ruined by demons by the time he meets Reverend Anderson, who is trying – and failing – to successfully perform an exorcism. The art by Paul Azaceta is creepy, allowing the story to breathe as it unfolds at a psychologically compelling pace.

outcast

  • Polarity by Max Bemis/Jorge Coelho — Can a drifting young man with bi-polar depression be a superhero?  This question is explored in a visually stunning tale from Max Bemis and Jorge Coelho.

polarity

  • Phonogram by Kieron Gillen/Jamie McKelvie — I’m a sucker for comics about music and Phonogram is just that.  But it’s also about identity, magic, the nature of reality, and really great tunes!  Kieron Gillen is an old hipster for sure but he’s got none of the out of touch boringness that such a label suggests…yes, Gillen knows how to keep you coming back for more.  Jamie McKelvie renders the characters and the setting in crisp lines but the real magic is in his facial expressions…every character is clearly their own.  This is a boon as many comics with what I call the “indie autobiographical style” of art fail to strongly differentiate anyone but the main character.

phonogram

  • Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Wiebe — Quick synopsis: four party-hardy women in a medieval world roam the countryside and slay monsters.  Yeah, this could have been stereotypical sword and sorcery fluff but Kurtis Weibe slips in subtle, convincing character details for all four warriors along the way. He also is great with writing banter so I found myself laughing all the way, too.  Roc Upchurch was the artist on the first few issues and his character designs are gorgeous.

ratqueens

 

If you are interested in talking about these comics or others, LFPL’s Graphic Novel Discussion Group is the place for you!  The Group meets at the Main Branch on the second Monday of every month at 6:00 PM.

ThePrivateEye
Join us on June 13, 2016 as we explore the future-noir world of The Private Eye by Brian K. Vaughan (co-creator of the New York Times best-selling series Saga) and Marcos Martin.

Formats Available:  Graphic Novel

Reviewed by Tony, Main Library

You Were Here by Cori McCarthy

Death can blind us to a person’s past and push our imagination into an unrealistic “what if” future for the one we lost. When all we have left are our memories, the fear of losing them can send us running back to places where it all began.

youwerehere

Jake was the dare devil of the family. He was forever pulling crazy stunts, searching out abandoned places to explore, even playing around with drugs. He would accept any dare but the last one cost him his life. Jaycee, his sister, was there. She watches as he falls, sees him lying on the ground with his head at an impossible angle.

It’s been five years since she saw Jake fall to his death. And tonight she will meet up with Mik, her brother’s old friend to explore one of Jake’s favorite abandoned buildings. These days she rarely talks to anyone. She has shut everyone out but Mik and he only shows up once a year on the anniversary of Jake’s death. She has never forgiven Natalie, her best friend, for deserting her after Jake died.

Jaycee is now where Jake was the night he died. She’s graduated from high school. And while she should be focusing on college, she dresses in his clothes, sleeps in his room, all she can think about is Jake. It’s like she’s lost something she can’t find and is constantly looking, searching, hoping to finally understand why all of this has happened. Hell-bent on retracing Jake’s journeys through the abandoned places, to see where he had been, Jaycee will even try out some of his old stunts, trying to unearth him in the only way she can, to walk in his shoes.

But she won’t do it alone. Her friends won’t let her.

Mik, who hasn’t said a word to her since Jake died, is there as always to watch over her when she ventures to these ruins. His secret keeps him silent.

Natalie, the practical one, hides behind the rules, afraid not to be perfect. But she can’t escape the secret she has buried for the last five years, the real reason she and Jaycee are no longer friends – Zack.  Zack, Natalie’s on again off again boyfriend, chases the bottle to keep down his own fears of not being good enough, of an uncertain future, and the possibility of losing Natalie when she leaves for college.

And then there’s Bishop, a friend with the soul of a poet.  Bishop is trying to find his way out the dark place he is in after he crashed and burned when the girl at the center of his universe left him behind.

Told in alternating voices, we walk with these four teens as they try to decide just what is going happen now that school is over. Following in Jake’s footsteps, daring to tread in places long abandoned by man, this dangerous environment brings out the best and worst in each of them. Old feuds will arise, the fear of being left behind, uncertainties that come with change and in the end maybe a little peace.

This coming of age story blends art and words together in glorious black and white, while it sets the scene and brings the story to life.  There are dysfunctional families in several shapes and forms, drinking and some sexual content. But there is real love and friendship here, because in spite of everything these teens care about each other. The descriptions of the abandoned ruins make you feel like you are there. Mik’s point of view is told almost totally in graphic novel form, even some of Bishop’s poetry is displayed in urban graffiti. A tale that blends art and words together in glorious black and white, it sets the scene and brings their story to life.

For me this was a hard look at a scary time, the end of childhood and the beginning of adulthood, wrapped around a story that is as realistic and heartbreaking as some of things today’s teens will face. This is also an adventure, exploring those places man has left behind in our rush to move forever forward. As these four teens will see, sometimes it takes stepping back into the past before we can move forward. Besides some of these places are wonderfully creepy, as are this parts of this tale.

Formats Available:  Book 

Reviewed by Katy, Shawnee Branch

Will in the Ville: Celebrating All Things Shakespeare!

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Will in the Ville is a collaborative initiative—spearheaded by the Frazier History Museum, University of Louisville, and the Louisville Free Public Library—involving more than 45 arts, cultural, and educational organizations throughout Louisville and Southern Indiana. As part of the international commemoration of the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, it aims to make Louisville a “city of Shakespeare.”

Shakespeare events begin in April and continue throughout 2016. The celebration culminates with the arrival of the national traveling exhibit, First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, on display at the Frazier History Museum from November 10–December 10, 2016. The exhibit—co-hosted by the Frazier, UofL, and LFPL—is made possible through a grant from the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Cincinnati Museum Center, and the American Library Association and is traveling to all 50 states. Louisville was selected as the representative site for the state of Kentucky.


Community Partners


frazierAbout the Frazier History Museum: The Frazier History Museum is located at 829 West Main Street on Louisville’s downtown “Museum Row.” This world-class museum provides a journey through more than 1,000 years of world and American history with ever-changing and interactive special exhibits, daily performances by costumed interpreters, and engaging programs and special events. The Frazier is open Monday–Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 5:00 p.m. For more information, visit www.fraziermuseum.org.

UL_primary_CEHD_wbAbout University of Louisville: The University of Louisville is a state-supported research university located in Kentucky’s largest metropolitan area. It was a municipally supported public institution for many decades prior to joining the university system in 1970. The University has three campuses. The 287-acre Belknap Campus is three miles from downtown Louisville and houses seven of the university’s 12 colleges and schools. The Health Sciences Center is situated in downtown Louisville’s medical complex and houses the university’s health-related programs and the University of Louisville Hospital. The 243-acre Shelby Campus is located in eastern Jefferson County.

Library Logo color w white spaceAbout Louisville Free Public Library: The Louisville Free Public Library’s mission is to provide the people of Metro Louisville with the broadest possible access to knowledge and information and to support them in their pursuit of learning at all stages of life. LFPL is the largest library system in Kentucky, serving nearly 4 million visitors annually at our 18 locations and on the web at LFPL.org.

About Folger Shakespeare Library: Folger Shakespeare Library is a world-renowned center for scholarship, learning, culture, and the arts. It is home to the world’s largest Shakespeare collection and a primary repository for rare materials from the early modern period (1500–1750). The Folger is an internationally recognized research library offering advanced scholarly programs in the humanities; an innovator in the preservation of rare materials; a national leader in how Shakespeare is taught in grades K–12; and an award-winning producer of cultural and arts programs—theatre, music, poetry, exhibits, lectures, and family programs.

Learn more at www.folger.edu

About Cincinnati Museum Center: Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) at Union Terminal is a nationally recognized institution and national historic landmark. Dedicated to sparking community dialogue, insight, and inspiration, CMC was awarded the 2009 National Medal for Museum and Library Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and received accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums in 2012. CMC is one of only 16 museums in the nation with both of these honors, making it a unique asset and a vital community resource. Union Terminal has been voted the nation’s 45th most important building by the American Institute of Architects. Organizations within CMC include the Cincinnati History Museum, Duke Energy Children’s Museum, Museum of Natural History & Science, Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX® Theater, and Cincinnati History Library & Archives. Recognized by Forbes Traveler Magazine as the 17th most visited museum in the country, CMC welcomes more than one million visitors annually.

For more information, visit www.cincymuseum.org.

About the American Library Association: The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with approximately 58,000 members in academic, public, school, government, and special libraries. The mission of the American Library Association is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.

ALA’s Public Programs Office provides leadership, resources, training, and networking opportunities that help thousands of librarians nationwide develop and host cultural programs for adult, young adult, and family audiences. The mission of the ALA Public Programs Office is to promote cultural programming as an essential part of library service in all types of libraries. Projects include book and film discussion series, literary and cultural programs featuring authors and artists, professional development opportunities, and traveling exhibitions. School, public, academic, and special libraries nationwide benefit from the office’s programming initiatives.

Additional information can be found at www.ala.org/programming.

About the National Endowment for the Humanities: Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation.

Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at www.neh.gov.

How-To Festival is One Month Away!

5th annual How-To Festival returns to LFPL’s Main Library

Saturday, May 14, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

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Want to learn how to milk a cow? Make a robot? Stop a leaky faucet? Act out Shakespeare?

Those are just a sample of more than 100 things people can learn in five hours at the Louisville Free Public Library’s fifth annual How-To Festival.

This year, local presenters will offer a variety of free interactive learning experiences – from dancing to crafts to gardening – that offer entertainment and practical skills for adults, children and teens. “How-to” sessions last anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes and cover a range of activities, from brewing your own beer to Zumba.

This year’s Festival is a mix of past favorites – how to age gracefully, train your dog, and BBQ – along with new lessons, including how to create a banana piano, how to read Tarot cards, and how to make chainmail jewelry. Kid-friendly activities include how to walk, talk and dance like a pirate and how to hula hoop. Plus, Mayor Greg Fischer will be a special guest presenter this year, teaching “how-to start a business.”

The How-To Festival takes place on Saturday, May 14, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Main Library, 301 York Street. Sessions will be located in more than 20 areas throughout the building and surrounding grounds, transforming the entire library into a giant classroom. Food trucks will be available.

The How-To Festival is free and open to the public. For more information, including a schedule of sessions, visit LFPL.org/how-to.

Already know you’re coming? RSVP on our Facebook event page. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Instagram using #HowToFestival.

Resources for Local Writers and Authors at LFPL

indielou

Local authors — independent, self-published, aspiring, and mainstream — now have access to a valuable suite of services thanks to the Louisville Free Public Library’s IndieLou Author Series. IndieLou features programs for aspiring authors on how to write and publish, opportunities for indie authors to schedule appearances at the Library, and a way for self-published authors to upload and share their work in the Library’s eBook collection.

The Main and Southwest Regional libraries will be hosting IndieLou author visits twice per month – giving authors the opportunity to reserve a meeting space and promote their book at the Library. Information on scheduling an IndieLou Author Talk, including available dates and times, can be found at LFPL.org/IndieLou.

Scheduling is made possible through ePublishorBust.com.

Self-published and independent authors can also share their eBooks with local libraries through LFPL’s new SELF-e service (hosted by Biblioboard). eBooks uploaded to SELF-e will be added to the Louisville Free Public Library collection and made available to other Kentucky public libraries via the Indie Kentucky feature on Biblioboard.

Participation is free.

Finally, the Library is offering an array of resources to help local writers.  Whether through programs like the Women Writers series at the Iroquois Library in March, the Writers Conference at Southwest Regional Library, and the How to Write a Book in Six Weeks short course at Main (both in May); through self-guided learning using LFPL’s Lynda.com service; or at special library classes on how to use Biblioboard and SELF-e; LFPL is working hard to support writers in our community.

For more information on IndieLou’s suite of services, including upcoming author events, visit LFPL.org/IndieLou.

 

Spotlight: A Great Way to Find the Books You Are Looking For!

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NoveList is a great tool for those who are either searching for a particular title (especially if one is unsure exactly what the title may be) or are just looking for recommendations.

This database is designed for use by readers of all tastes.  It opens with a clean, uncluttered splash page and has easy to use navigation buttons or tabs.  There is also a search engine if one would prefer to use text as the method of search.

Here’s what Novelist will look like when you click on the link (which can be found on the right side menu here on the Reader’s Corner or under LFPL‘s Research Tools page):

NoveList Display

How does it work?

The easiest way is to use the Basic Search box at the top of each page.  There you will be able to search for a title, author, series, or topic. When you use the default Keyword options from the drop-down menu, NoveList will search for your terms in the full text of all NoveList content, including annotations, reviews, and NoveList articles and lists

You can conduct a more focused search by selecting the Title, Author, or Series options from the drop-down menu.

Searching for books by an author:

Because the Basic Search box searches the full text of reviews and articles, NoveList will search for all instances of the author’s name when you enter it in the Basic Search with the default Keyword option selected. From the Author tab of your Result List, you can click on an Author link to access the Author Detail page.  From the Author tab, you will also be able to access the Detail pages for any pseudonyms that the author uses.

If you enter an author name in the search box and select Author from the search options drop-down menu, NoveList will ONLY search the Author Detail pages. An exact match will take you directly to that Detail page.

At the Author Detail page, you will find all books by the author, all series by the author (when applicable), all NoveList content about that author, and author to author recommendations when available.

Searching for books with certain plot characteristics:

In NoveList, you can search for books with certain plot characteristics using the Keyword option from the drop-down menu at the Basic Search box.

Search for a series:

You can search for a series from the Basic Search box by entering a series name and selecting the Series option from the search options drop-down menu. An exact match will take you to the Series Detail page, which includes a list of all of the titles in reading order. If multiple series match your search, they will be listed under the Series tab of your Result List, where you can click on the link to the Series Detail page.

Use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) to help narrow your search:

  • AND tells the database that ALL keywords used must be found in an article in order for it to appear in your results list.
  • OR broadens a search by telling the database that ANY keywords it connects are acceptable.
  • NOT narrows your search by telling the database to eliminate all terms that follow it from your search results.

Once you find a suitable title, it will have a wealth of information about the book (Description, Keywords, Appeal Terms, Tone, Writing Style, and Book Reviews).  It will also link you to the database’s info on the Author and give detailed information about the book itself (e.g. Publisher, ISBN, or Dewey Number).  The Book Reviews are especially helpful as they are not overlong or academic but are descriptive of the general storyline and its quality.  Reviews are supplied by reputable sources such as Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, and Publisher’s Weekly

The Elaborate Life of Stan Lee

stanleeA memoir in graphic novel form?  Say it isn’t so!

Stan Lee, creator of a vast universe of superheroes (The Avengers, Fantastic Four, The Punisher, and Spider-Man to name just a few), recently released a memoir of his journey to becoming an icon in the world of comic books, entitled Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir.  Early in his adolescent years, Lee could always be found with a book close within reach, reading anything he could wrap his hands around.  Lee was greatly influenced by classic characters found in pulp literature (such as Edgar Rice Burroughs‘ Tarzan), as well as Shakespeare’s works of drama and poetry.  These literary influences were combined with images of what a human could become to produce his intriguing, well-rounded characters for Marvel Comics.

While much of the book is devoted to his character development of the superheroes and villains, there is also a more serious side that details Lee’s time in the military.  One of his first duties was as a graphic artist for a campaign on sexual abstinence.  He also developed materials focusing on how American troops should act in other countries.

Readers also learn about how Lee came to do hysterical cameos in recent Marvel movies.  One such example from the recent Avengers: The Age of Ultron shows him sitting around a table with the characters discussing stories over a few beverages.  Lee is as proud of his appearances as all the work he has done over the years.

Lee presents his memoir to readers as if one were to meet him at a Fandom Fest or Comic Con.  Read Amazing Fantastic Incredible and meet the man behind the worlds of some of your comic and film characters.  Hard work, dedication to his craft, and a roller coaster ride of events in his life have formed Stan the Man, a man who has brought joy to millions around the world.

Lee also dedicates portions of his memoir to staff editors, writers, and artists who have contributed to his career.

For the reader who may traditionally prefer reading graphic novels, this selection will possibly open other opportunities to read similar autobiographical texts.  A brief list of works available through the library can be found below.

Formats Available: Book, Audiobook, eBook

Reviewed by MicahShawnee Branch

Dark Sparkler by Amber Tamblyn

darksparklerDark Sparkler is a stunning look into the dark and alluring world of Hollywood and the toll it claims. It is a haunting glimpse into how Hollywood and the world fixate on actresses/women/icons; then discards them.

Just to warn you it’s a book of poems all inspired by dead actresses. You know, thought I’d throw some light reading at you for the New Year.  :-)   But if you enjoy poetry and/or unsettling, provocative prose like I do give it a shot. You won’t be disappointed.

Tamblyn’s poetry is exquisite and the short glimpse of each of these women was an intense and emotional experience. Tamblyn explores over 25 different Hollywood actresses with poetic sway and truth. It’s enough to knock the wind out of you.  Some pages are a punch to the gut. Check out Lindsay Lohan, Taruni Sachdev and Sharon Tate to name a few (I know, Lohan isn’t dead. Take a look at her “poem” though).

Some of the names I had heard of and others I had to look up. Each one is equally fascinating and evocative. Tamblyn, (an actress herself) often inserts herself into the narrative, particularly in the epilogue, which is superb in itself. Possibly facing her own demons? Regardless, Tamblyn is a legit poet that I highly recommend checking out.

Formats Available: Book

Review by Heather, St. Matthews

Thin Air by Ann Cleeves

thinaircleevesThe Shetland Islands, the northernmost fragments of Scotland, are so far out into the North Sea they are often pictured as an inset on maps of the United Kingdom.  Windy, treeless protrusions of earth where the sun hardly sets in the summer and barely rises in the winter, they are the atmospheric setting for Ann CleevesShetland Islands mystery series.

In Thin  Air, the sixth installment of the series, Detective Jimmy Perez is called to the island of Unst, the the most northern island of the Shetlands, to investigate the murder of Eleanor Longstaff,  She was one of a group of mainlanders visiting the islands for a hamefarin’, a traditional Shetland wedding celebration, for one of their friends. Lowrey, who grew up on the island but went to college in England, has just married Caroline.  Eleanor and Polly are bridesmaids, attending the hamefarin’ with Eleanor’s husband Ian and Polly’s boyfriend Marcus.ravenblackcleeves

Cleeves uses details of the culture and history of the islands that have grown up from the isolation and geography of the islands as springboards for many of the stories in her series.  Jimmy Perez, her most consistent character, claims to derive his Spanish heritage from a sailor shipwrecked way off course from the Spanish Armada of the sixteenth century.  Perhaps the most dramatic is her first novel, Raven Black, which culminates on the night of Up Helly Aa, a fire festival held in coldest January that celebrates the islands’ Viking heritage, complete with a parade of a Viking re-enactors and the burning of a replica Viking longship.

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(Image courtesy of Shetland.org: http://www.shetland.org/things/events/culture-heritage/up-helly-aa)

Cleeves portrays the islands both traditional and modern, a landscape that draws artists, tourists and other mainlanders.  One story features a fiddler who is becoming known worldwide for popularizing the islands’ traditional music.   The tension between these two groups, those who perpetuate the old way of life, living in their croft houses and farming neeps (turnips), and those who arrive to create art and exploit the islands’ old ways, often lead to the violent feelings that fuel murder mysteries.

In Thin Air, we learn the legend of Peerie Lizzie, a 10-year-old daughter of the rich family who drowned almost 100 years before the story takes place, supposedly because her nanny wasn’t watching her.  In her white dress and Sunday curls, Peerie Lizzie has appeared to people throughout the years, her appearance gaining the reputation of presaging a pregnancy.  Ironically the victim, Eleanor, who is recovering from a miscarriage, and her friend Polly, the other bridesmaid, both see a little girl who fits this description the day of the hamefarin’.  Eleanor wanders off during the night and her body is found posed on the beach the next day.

Detectives Perez and Willow Reeves explore the complex relationships among the participants in the hamefarin’ – both the wedding guests and the islanders, mostly Lowrey’s family, but also the couple who’ve bought the house where Peerie Lizzie lived and have converted it to a Bed and Breakfast.  Perez takes a trip to London to explore Eleanor’s family and life.

Perez shifts points of view, sometimes taking us inside the mind of Jimmy Perez or Willow Reeves, but most often she focuses on Polly, whose insecurity in her relationships with her female friends and her boyfriend possibly distort her reality. And it’s Polly who ends up in danger from the killer as the story races to a close.

Circumstances, culture, environment, personality, folklore, finances – all figure into the intricate mystery current day mystery and mystery of Peerie Lizzie’s death, which Perez and Reeves unravel in time to save Polly at the climactic ending.

Finishing an Ann Cleeves Shetlands Islands mystery always has me checking airfares for the Shetlands so I can experience this fascinating set of islands for myself.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Check out Ann Cleeves’ website for more information about the Shetland Islands, the author, and her other series!

Formats Available:  Book (Regular Type), Downloadable Audiobook

Reviewed by Laura, Main Library