Indie Author Day 2016

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Saturday, October 8, 2–4 p.m. at the Main Library

The Indie Author Day initiative is working with libraries across North America to bring together all of our local writing communities for the biggest celebration and collaboration of indie authors in the world!

Join us at the Main Library for a digital gathering of writers, agents, and industry leaders at this first annual event, and spend some time meeting and networking with members of the local writing community.

Please call (502) 574-1611 to register.

Following the seminar, learn to create and format professional quality versions of your book in a free workshop using a new online library resource called Pressbooks.

Whether you are a writing pro or a beginner, you can write, edit, and design digital and print copies of your book with ease using FREE resources and services offered by the Library. When you’re finished, share your book digitally with libraries across Kentucky.

September is Roald Dahl Month

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The United States held special meaning in Roald Dahl‘s life.  He lived in Washington, D.C., as a spy in the 1940s, where met his first wife, Patricia Neal.  He also wrote two of his most popular children’s books, James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, while living in the U.S.

This year, for the first time ever, Roald Dahl Month will take place all across the U.S.  Restaurants, zoos, gardens, bookstores, and libraries are inventing Dahlicious Delights, holding Buckswashling Nature programs, hosting parties during Wondercrump Weekend, among other celebrations.

You can celebrate Roald Dahl Month with these titles available though LFPL.

A Tale of Typhoid Mary

hellgate2Step back in time to the early 20th century when typhoid fever ran rampant through the streets of one of the most populous cities in America, New York City.  Mary Mallon had come to America as a fourteen year old girl from Ireland with hopes of finding a position as a housekeeper. It took a bit of doing but Mary worked hard and it wouldn’t be too many years before she became an accomplished cook, much sought after by well to do families. She was content, this move had been a good one.

But what Mary didn’t know was that she would shortly become infamous for something more than cooking. Mary was a carrier of the deadly disease typhoid. Without knowing it she would pass the disease on to others, children and adults alike, some whom would never recover. She would be hunted down, separated from friends, stopped from doing the only job she for which she was equipped and given a name that would follow her the rest of her life. Mary Mallon was Typhoid Mary.

After the authorities, finally caught up with Mary they imprisoned her on North Brother Island. Hell Gate was a place of indescribable misery and horror for the sick, the dying and the condemned. Where, Mary would live her final days in denial of the charges against her.

Now travel to the present and meet Karalee Soper, granddaughter of George A. Soper.  Soper was Mary’s accuser and jailer, the man who consigned Mary to her life sentence on Hell Gate.  Karalee along with a group of friends, known as the Sewer Rats, were studying public health. Seeking a bit of fun, they set sail on a short boat trip searching out abandoned building taking pictures and exploring wreckage. Hell Gate Island had once housed a tuberculosis hospital, now all that is left is ruins and building covered in vines and trees.

Shortly after their arrival, they discover the boat they used to land on the island was severely damaged, soon to sink into the murky depths a.  Now stuck on the island with few food rations, the clothes on their back, Karalee’s new Nikon 35mm camera, and few other tools. Not wanting to be marooned on this eerie island with its over grown dilapidated ruins, they went in search of a means to get back home. Gilligan’s Island it ain’t!staircase

As the night closed in with no way off the island, Karalee sees what appears to be an apparition coming toward them.  As the figure gets closer Karalee realizes it isn’t a specter but a real live, living, breathing person. But, who is it? Surely Mary Mallon was dead after all these years and who could live among the ruins with its smell of death and decay.

Step on to Hell Gate Island and into a tale of horror with enough twists and turns to keep the reader jumping at every little sound, as one by one the Sewer Rats begin disappearing. Will anyone survive The Prisoner of Hell Gate?

This is Dana I. Wolff’s debut novel.

Formats Available: Book

Reviewed by MicahShawnee Branch

Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary by Gail Jarrow

fatalfeverWho was Typhoid Mary? Was she a villain or victim?  Were her assessors after fame or just doing their job?  Or was Mary just the scapegoat for officials who waited too long to clean up their cities?

Typhoid fever at first caused headaches and fatigue, then by a high fever, stomach pain, chills, and a red rash. One out of three people who contracted typhoid died. And as the deadly disease broke out in New York cities, thousands died.

George Soper’s job as a sanitation engineer made him an expert on germs that caused disease. Now it was his job to stop this contagious disease from spreading.  He found the filthy living conditions in cities, with their open sewers, contaminated water, dead animals in the streets and horse manure  were spreading disease and death. Soper came to show the city officials how to clean up their streets but he found more.

He found a cook named Mary Mallon.  She was a young teen when she crossed the ocean to America from Ireland. She learned her trade as a cook the hard way, working as scullery maid, until she mastered the knowledge to become a cook to the very rich.  She also was believed to be a carrier of millions of typhoid germs.

Hell Gate was an island in New York’s East River originally set up to quarantine smallpox victims.  By the turn of the century, a hospital there held anyone  who needed to be isolated and forgotten.  Mary was imprisoned on Hell Gate, released, and later returned to quarantine when found to have return to her original occupation.

Mary died in captivity at the age of 69.  She never offered her side of the story. All that is known of Mary’s beliefs were that she never saw herself to be sick or to be the source of the various outbreaks of typhoid left in her wake.

 

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Hell Gate Hospital today.

A tale straight out of the history books – laced with original photos, documents, illustrations and cartoons from newspapers and magazines – yet it reads like a murder mystery. This is a good read but would equally make a good source for a school report.

You be the judge.  Pick up Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary by Gail Jarrow.

Note: The illustrated cartoon demonstrating how flies spread the disease was drawn by illustrator Vernon Grant who would later draw Kellogg’s Snap, Crackle and Pop.

Format Available: Book

Reviewed by Katy, Shawnee Branch

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

V.E. Schwab ’s A Darker Shade of Magic had been on my to-read shelf for quite some time, but imagesmy current graphic novel obsession has prevented me from picking it up. Just this past weekend, I decided I was ready for some adult science fiction again, so I picked up the first in her trilogy of three books. I was instantly hooked after the first couple chapters and finished it in a couple of nights.

A Darker Shade of Magic takes place in London, but it’s not the London that you or I are familiar with. Think if your world had three parallel levels that were stacked on top of each other and were only accessible by a few select people in the world. This is the London of A Darker Shade of Magic. We immediately meet Kell, who is our main character, and find out that he is one of very few called the Antari. He was born with magic in his blood, and this allows him to access the other Londons. He refers to them by color: his London is the Red London which is full of magic, the Grey London is a place like our own world where magic is scarce, and the White London is a world that has been ravaged by war. Kell is often called on by his king to deliver messages from world to world, but he may have a side job or two as well while visiting the other Londons.

Schwab takes her time in developing a plot, but this doesn’t cause the novel to drag at all. In the meantime, she is creating a beautiful world (or worlds in this case) and making sure that all of her characters are intriguing as well. The reader truly can visualize the world that Kell lives in and the worlds that he travels too before the action even gets started.

Almost halfway through the book, we begin to get into our plot which introduces our other main character, Lila. Lila is a pickpocket in Grey London, but quickly finds herself thrown into a parallel world battle for a stone that may allow an Antari to access a London that no longer is accessible. We also meet Holland at this point who is another Antari, but he is employed by the monarchy of White London. Kell and Lila embark on a journey that will take them through many worlds and many close calls as they try and keep the stone out of the hold of the evil king and queen of White London.

This book is a wild roller coaster ride and I’m looking forward to where the next two books lead. The next book, A Gathering of Shadows is already available and the last book will be out next February. If you like your science fiction with only small amounts of fantasy mixed in, I highly recommend this as your next book!

Formats Available:  Book, Audiobook, E-book

Reviewed by Sara, Okolona Branch

Wicked Plants, Wicked Bugs

Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocitieswickedplantssm

To be honest, I don’t do very well with adult nonfiction.  I just can’t seem to get as engrossed with it as I do fiction.  However, I am hooked on Amy Stewart’s books.  Her books are strange and wonderful and riveting.

Wicked Plants is a fascinating collection of nature’s most dangerous and toxic plants.  Mother Nature does not play y’all.  I am pretty much allergic to everything on Earth so this just confirmed my healthy fear of plants.

Bet you didn’t know most common house plants are surprisingly noxious.  That peace lily in your house could cause nausea and skin irritation and the ficus tree can incite severe allergic reactions.  Kudzu has caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage in the United States and even battle tanks couldn’t penetrate their rampant growth on a military base in Virginia.  Oleander, mandrake, killer algae and the stinging tree of Australia were a few of my favorite chapters as well.  The nightshade family is a very interesting genus.   I did not know tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant belong in the nightshade family along with belladonna and the poisonous jimsonweed.  Crazy sauce!

The illustrated etchings of the plants by Briony Morrow-Cribbs are an enchanting and lovely addition. If you love gardening, camping, being outdoors or you’re just like me and are captivated by the plant kingdom’s criminal element check out Amy Stewart.  She also has a book called The Drunken Botanist  I plan on starting soon.  Or keep going with Wicked Bugs!

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Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon’s Army & Other Diabolical Insects

Now this one freaked me out.  You may be aware but humans are seriously outnumbered.  It is estimated that there are ten quintillion insects alive on the planet right now.  I didn’t even know quintillion was a word.  If insects decided to take over we would not stand a chance.

As much as they freak me out I can’t stand to squish a bug, I always feel so guilty.  They are pretty amazing creatures.  Except silverfish….I can’t stand silverfish.  ICK.

Amy Stewart explores the creepy crawly world of devilish and destructive bugs.  Bookworms were of particular interest to me as I am a librarian.  But the bullet ant (causes excruciating pain), the rat flea (did you know flea vomit is the true culprit in a plague epidemic?), Japanese beetles (deeply feared and loathed in the eastern U.S.) and the death watch beetle (Edgar Allan Poe refers to this one in his story “The Tell-Tale Heart”) were particularly intriguing.

Don’t get me started on the bed bug chapter…I just can’t…

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Also, it’s quite remarkable how many insects there are where the female eats the male after or during mating. The insect world is a bizarre and fantastical place to read about and Amy Stewart does a wonderful job in exploring their dark side.

Formats Available: Book, e-Book, Downloadable Audiobook, Playaway

Reviewed by Heather, St. Matthews

A Study in Charlotte

studyncharlotteA Study in Charlotte is a retelling of Sherlock Holmes but with a twist. The two main characters who are teenagers are descendants (great-great- great children to be exact) of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. Both Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson find themselves at the same Connecticut boarding school. The novel’s storyline has the premise that John Watson not Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that wrote the Sherlock novels. Charlotte’s family is pretty much still famous as well as rich, while Jamie’s family has pretty much drifted into obscurity.

When a murder happens at their school that leaves both Jamie and Charlotte as prime suspects it’s up to Charlotte to clear their names and fast. The female Sherlock Holmes was surprisingly enjoyable twist. As a Sherlock Holmes purist I didn’t think that I would enjoy it. Charlotte Holmes still has the same quirks that Sherlock has that we know and love.

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro brings Sherlock to a new generation of readers, as well as quite possibly introducing teenage girls to the detective genre. A Study in Charlotte shows teenage girls that they can be detectives as well as be interested in science. That they can be anything they put their minds to. Charlotte isn’t always the most likeable character but she does have her moments. The book ends with the loose ends tied up, but does leave the ending opened for a squeal.

Formats Available: Book

Reviewed by CarissaMain Library

Waiting for The Walking Dead

So you love The Walking Dead but it’s killing you that you have to wait until October for the new season, right?  Well, I’ve come across two really great graphic novel series that you may enjoy while you wait.

The first series, written by Robert Kirkman, is called Outcast. This series is focused on a man named Kyle Barnes who sees demons.  For a recent review by a fellow staff member, click here.

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These installments (currently the library has three volumes) fascinate me because the main threat comes from within people rather than from something external like the zombie apocalypse. Outcast is a complete contrast to The Walking Dead series but also shows that Kirkman is a great writer of horror graphics.

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The second series is Postal by Matt Hawkins. The main character, Mark Shiffron, lives in a town where not everything is quite as it seems. His mother, Mayor Shiffron wants Mark, a postal worker, to provide her with transcripts of all of the mail that enters the town. Seems legit, right? Mark, on the other hand, has Asperger’s and sees thing in a way that others don’t. Is this a good or bad thing?

I really recommend both series. Drop me a comment and tell me what you think.

Formats Available:  Graphic Novel

Reviewed by Damera, Okolona Branch

Classic Adaptations: Hamlet

In this installment of the Classic Adaptations series, I seize the opportunity to rant about biological realism in cartoons. Also, it’s about Hamlet by William Shakespeare.

 

The Classic

Hamlet

By: Shakespeare

Hamlet cover art

You know this story, guys, come on. I’m dead certain you’ve seen at least one adaptation, too.

This particular edition is my favorite, with lots of annotations, and scholarly essays and such. You’ll probably need lots of annotations, too, to deal with Shakespeare unfiltered. Even then, most modern editions are kind enough to “correct” the spelling. You’ll probably also notice that Shakespeare’s language is pretty filthy. Hamlet‘s probably the filthiest of his plays, in terms of language, too. (Titus Andronicus is way more gratuitously violent and offensive to the modern tastes, though. There’s a reason it’s not often staged… if it were a movie, it would be NC-17 for Everything.) Let’s just say that “get thee to a nunnery” – in a Tudor (+ subsequent… “unrest”) England when Catholics vs Church of England was Serious Business of the highest order – doesn’t refer to a literal nunnery, and leave it at that. Basically everything Hamlet says, especially to Ophelia, is some form of bawdy innuendo, or just straight-up bawdy. If you haven’t read Shakespeare since high school, just remember: your English teachers may have taught you everything you know, but they didn’t necessarily teach you everything they know.

You know this story, though. Hamlet’s father’s ghost(?) says his brother murdered him. Hamlet (pretends to be insane? actually goes insane?) to lure his uncle, the new king, into a false sense of security, so he can investigate the crime, stall for time, and ultimately try to kill him. Everybody dies. The end.

Countless adaptations have been made of Hamlet, from stage productions to motion pictures, but we will be focusing on just one, in particular.

 

Adaptation

The Lion King

Lion King DVD cover art.

Hamlet cleaned up for kids, with cartoon lions, and a happy ending.

This is, seriously, one of the most successful movies of all time. You know that already. You’ve probably seen it already. Yes, it’s mostly Hamlet with lions. I saw it at a drive-in theater with my family as a kid. The scale was incredible. The animation was amazing. Nothing really matches how big and vibrant this movie feels to watch. They were also pretty gutsy about killing major characters off nearly on-screen. We owned this on VHS, and I saw it almost monthly, for a while, not the least because my brother also liked it.

Here’s the basic plot of The Lion King: Mufasa’s brother Scar kills him and takes over the pride, driving out his son, Simba (Hamlet), who fritters away his adolescence in an oasis with Pumbaa and Timon (Horatio, and Rosencrantz/Guildenstern). Simba sees an apparition(?) of his father which convinces him to return home to defeat his sinister uncle, and take back the pride. Conveniently, the hyenas kill Scar, so that the protagonist keeps his paws clean.

Even now, I’m fascinated by lions, and love animals in general. The Lion King is a great movie, but it definitely doesn’t have anything like realism, regarding its wildlife cast. Let’s learn a bit about lions, and what this can teach us about adaptations.

There’s a few very good reasons male lions don’t return to the pride of their birth, as Simba does. Lionesses remain with their mothers (like Nala does), generally, so that a lion pride is composed of related lionesses, who are all sisters, mothers, aunts, and sometimes grannies of each other. When male lions mature, they are driven out by the resident male. Sometimes, as seen in The Lion King, two or so related males form a “coalition” and work together to drive resident males from a pride, and take their place. On taking over the resident male position in a pride, male lions immediately massacre any cubs they can find. Cannibalism may or may not be involved, depending on how hungry they are.

Labeled picture of a lion pride.

Composition of a pride of lions.

If these were real lions, given the cub massacre, Simba and Nala have to be Mufasa and Scar’s children. They’re at least first cousins on their father’s side. And, given that lionesses are usually related, they’re probably double first cousins. We know they don’t have the same mother, but their father(s) are at least brothers, if not the same individual. Eugh. Don’t even get me started on spotted hyenas, either, although making Whoopi Goldberg the leader was a solid choice: they’re matriarchal. (And have a far more complex and sophisticated social life than lions, too. I could do a whole post on spotted hyenas alone.)

The Lion King isn’t really Hamlet with lions, then. It’s Hamlet – a very human story about a kingdom in distress, and a conflicted protagonist confronted with competing values and ethical systems – as played by emphatically make-believe lion-shaped cartoons.

Common Clownfish

Nature isn’t obliged to follow human expectations.

Did you know clownfish are protandrous sequential hermaphrodites? Now you do. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

In all seriousness, though, taking a look at stories adapted to a telling through animal actors gives us a unique chance to see the limitations and frameworks of our own society and point of view as a species. The advent of computer animation (and limitations of early rendering to perform best with smooth textures) led to a flurry of movies in the late 1990’s and 2000’s starring eusocial insects like bees and ants:

All of these movies portray these insects as if they were human-like societies, with a monarch, and equal sex ratios. But bees aren’t little fuzzy insect people. And there’s no such thing as a male worker honeybee.

Antz DVD cover art

Inaccuracies don’t necessarily make a movie bad.

Bee Movie DVD cover art.

Sometimes, a movie must be inaccurate to be comprehensible, let alone sympathetic and engaging.

I’d argue, though, that most people wouldn’t want to see a movie starring actual, realistic bees. A fantasy kingdom of people in ant suits is far more relate-able than the very real behaviors of honeybees.

Worker bee.

A mature worker bee, doing what she does best: collecting provisions for the hive, and pollinating flowers. Without bees, flowering plants produce no fruit or seeds. This is why you should care about bees.

Could you make a realistic version of The Lion King? As close as possible to “Hamlet With Lions”? Sure. But I doubt anyone would care what happens to Mufasa if they see him slaughtering and eating lion cubs.

P. S. – Support your local pollinators!

Article by Katherine, Highlands-Shelby Park Branch

Timeliness: Ten Books About Racism

OK, I’m going to get real for a moment.

A topic like racism is always difficult, most especially in print (in my opinion).  On one hand, you don’t want it to devolve into a screed because the topic is too important to let get lost in gobs of alienating rhetoric.  On the other, it is exactly that this topic is important that you don’t want to let the emotional import of it get lost in a dry examination, especially so in a time such as we currently face when some attempt to strip out emotion for their own purposes (be those reasons good, bad, or indifferent).

Let me be very clear.  Like it or not, racism exists.  It is a part of our daily existence whether we wish to consciously participate in it or not.  This last point, one’s conscious participation is the very bone – and also the bane – of contention in most debates.

So why not dig into the topic and see what you can learn?

Below are ten books that you can find in the library that can help you explore this topic*:

  1. Burning All Illusions: Writings from The Nation on Race, 1866-2002, edited by Paula J. Giddings
  2. A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America by Ronald Takaki
  3. How the Irish Became White by Noel Ignatiev
  4. A Promise and a Way of Life: White Antiracist Activism by Becky Thompson
  5. Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
  6. The Redneck Manifesto by Jim Goad
  7. Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi
  8. The Wall Between by Anne Braden
  9. White Awareness: Handbook for Anti-Racism Training by Judy Katz
  10. White Like Me: Reflections on Race From a Privileged Son by Tim Wise

*These selections are not meant to be the definitive statement on such a complicated social issue.

Of course, I welcome suggestions for additions to this list or for general comments on the topic as a whole.  If you wish to respond,  please click the “Leave a reply” link above.  Please remember that this forum is one that will not publish profanity, racially-charged slurs, personal attacks, or threats of any nature.

Article by Tony, Main Library