Monthly Archives: February 2020

Reading Behind Bars by Jill Grunenwald

I’m not going to lie, the title was the first thing that drew me to this book. Even though I am a library assistant, my bachelor’s degree is in Criminal Justice and Criminology so I’ve always wondered how a library would work in a prison. I knew they existed because of the classes I took in college but I didn’t learn how they would work.

Reading Behind Bars: A True Story of Literature, Law, and Life as a Prison Librarian by Jill Grunenwald answered the questions I had and even questions I didn’t even ask.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is prisonlibrary.jpgWhen the author graduated from library school in 2009 there were more librarians than jobs. Gruenwald took the only one that she could find, a position for a librarian at a minimum-security prison outside Cleveland, Ohio. What follows is a memoir of her time at the prison, the inmates and officers she meets, as well as the lessons she learned.

One thing which I discovered while reading this book is how similar working in a prison library is to working in a public library.  You still have the same patron looking for the newest James Patterson or other bestselling authors. You still have patrons asking random (sometimes off-the-wall) questions, seeking legal advice, and wanting the daily paper.

But I also learned what makes them different. A patron looking for the latest bestseller may be stymied due to prison rules and regulations about content. Further, budgetary considerations mean that patrons have to wait until a book is available in paperback. Also, prison libraries are subject to quite a bit of censorship, which for the most part is something that doesn’t exist in public libraries.

Reading Behind Bars isn’t a fast-paced memoir, but it was an informative read about one librarian’s first  job and the lessons she learned along the way. This is an important memoir for librarians and library employees. Any reader, as well as those employed in the criminal justice field, may learn something from this memoir.

– Reviewed by CarissaMain Library

The Louisville Children’s Film Festival is back!

The Louisville Children’s Film Festival is back in 2020 with screenings around the city. The NYICFF Dutch Animation Celebration will screen at the Northeast, South Central, and Southwest Regional Libraries between February 22-23.

NYICFF crossed the Atlantic to join forces with Cinekid, The Netherland’s premiere film festival for children, to share a program of the very best of Dutch animation–featuring diverse stories, hilarious romps, inventive animation, and more!

With trusty scissors in hand, Mr. Paper makes choice cuts to craft his ideal world. Blooming with artful animation and wistful storytelling, Emily was spotlighted as the Netherlands’ entry for Oscar consideration. Then three very different kids, all friends, find out what it truly means to walk a day in each other’s shoes… and legs, and torsos in this hilarious International Emmy-award winner.

Inventive design, storytelling and themes combine to make this Dutch Animation Celebration a whole lot of fun!

Learn more about the Louisville Children’s Film Festival at https://www.louisvillechildrensfilm.org/

An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good by Helen Tursten

I recently finished a collection of stories by the Swedish author Helene Tursten called An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good. The book contains five short stories about a the life of a very elderly matron, Maud, and how she deals with people who step into her sphere. These stories got my attention with their dark humor, mystery, and insight into how other cultures look at life (and murder) in a more raw and crude manner.

The first story, An Elderly Lady Has Accommodation Problems, introduces Maud in her apartment when a young art graduate. Jasmin is seeking to take over Maud’s apartment because of its roomier size and prettier view of the skyline.  When Maud gets sense of the young lady becoming too friendly, things begin to change. After multiple visits to see Maud and her dwelling, Jasmin invites Maud to come look at her apartment decorated with phalluses in multiple shapes and sizes.  Read on.

In An Elderly Lady on Her Travels, Maud visits Sardinia to unwind and take care of family. While there, she reminisces about various excursions to Cairo and the South Pole.  In this one story you come to understand how Maud continues to be the one family member who takes care of others before herself. She even does so through many challenges, such as taking care of her mentally ill sister.

Other tales include a tale of Christmastime in Sweden with a twist of mystery when she hears loud voices next door and learns of an “accident” to her neighbor.  Maud senses there is a bigger story behind the accident than what was told and is determined to get to the real truth.

Translated from Swedish by Marlaine Delargy

– Review by Micah, St Matthews Library

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Looking for a murder mystery set in Downton Abbey/The Matrix/Groundhog Day?  YEAH, THAT’S A THING. A thing you never even knew you needed.  And it’s bloody fantastic.  It’s The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

You wake up in a house…Blackheath House to be specific, but knowledge of its name will come later.  And you find yourself in a body you don’t recognize as your own. 

There are three rules of Blackheath House:

  1. Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m.
  2. There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit.
  3. We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer.

I adore a good mystery, it’s my favorite genre and this one takes the cake. It’s a different take on the traditional murder mystery; twisty, cunning and quite ingenious in my opinion. It is so complexly layered there may be times in the book, particularly through the beginning, you feel yourself bewildered and lost. 

But hang on!  Store each little scrap of information in the back of your mind and it all comes brilliantly together. 

— Review by Heather, St. Matthews