Monthly Archives: July 2021

In Calabria by Peter S. Beagle

Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2017
Locus 
2017 Recommended Reading List

Claudio Bianchi sees a unicorn on his farm.  He can’t keep it a secret for very long.  Then there are two of them.  Then comes trouble.  This is basically a story about a middle-aged man who meets a much younger woman, which is a typical plot. However, this story is far from the average romance.

Claudio lives on a small hillside farm in Southern Italy.  His companions include cows, pigs, a goat, and three cats.  Later, Giovanna shows up while delivering the mail.  She sees the unicorn and everything in Claudio’s solitary life begins to change.  Claudio is also a very amateur but quite dedicated poet.  His writing, like every other aspect of his life, takes on new meaning.  Is it the unicorn or is it Giovanna?  Maybe it is both of them that change him.  This story shows that it may take a few miracles, but good can prevail.

The one thing I don’t like about this book is that the author writes in gruesome detail about the murder of one of Claudio’s cats.  Otherwise, this is a nice, sweet, quaint romantic story about a poor, Italian farmer and the sister of the village postal carrier.  A romance, that is, which is interrupted by violence, monsters, gangsters, and thugs.

– Review by Elaine, Main Library

3 Dead Princes by Danbert Nobacon

The heroine of this humorous, satirical fantasy is Princess Alex, also called “Stormy” (her middle name).  She goes on an accidental and occasionally chilling adventure, fulfills a witch’s prophesy, and manages to kill off three princes. In her effort to save her homeland, Morainia, from the threatening Oosarians she becomes a legendary, almost magical, figure.

The clever, specialized vocabulary used in this story is well defined in the Glossary.  But, this was the only part of this book that I did not like.  It obviously required significant creativity and effort.  It somewhat detracts from the story and slows down reading of an otherwise fast moving and charming fantasy in which time has yet to be “invented”.    

It may seem odd that this not very anarchistic and would-be fairy-tale with a teenage heroine is found in the adult Science Fiction section of the library.  The story appeals to both age groups but it might be more popular as a Teen book. 

– Review by Elaine, Main Library

Two Tales about Northern Ireland

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, and fiction shines a light on real events so well it seems true. That’s the case with Northern Spy by Flynn Berry a mystery/thriller set in Northern Ireland in present day, and Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe the true story of a murder and mayhem in Northern Ireland during the height of The Troubles.

In Northern Spy, Tessa – a producer for the BBC – claims to be largely non-political. Like everyone living and working in Northern Ireland she is impacted by conflict between Irish republicans and British loyalists, but she herself has never been involved. Then one day she looks up to see news footage of her sister Marian pulling a ski mask over her head and participating in an armed robbery. Tessa insists her sister must have been kidnapped or coerced into participating in the heist, but eventually comes to realize the sister she thought she knew so well has been secretly working for the IRA for years. When Marian tells her she may have a path for peace Tessa has to decide where her loyalties lie and how far she will go protect everything that is dear to her. This book is a fast read. The chapters are short and the plot moves quickly. This is a great read for anyone who likes mysteries and political thrillers.

Say Nothing is also about two sisters, Dolours and Marian Price. While the fictional Tessa and Marian in Berry’s book were not raised to be political, the real Price sisters were raised in a well-known republican family. Marian and Dolours were participants in several high profile bombings in the UK in the 1970’s. Both sisters spent time in jail, both were subjected to force feedings when they tried to go on hunger strikes, and both received widespread press coverage. Keefe’s investigation also turned up audio recordings, interviews Dolours Price gave to oral historians at Boston College that seem to implicate one or both sisters in the murder of Jean McConville, a single mother of ten children in 1974. Keefe’s book is wonderful at examining 400 years of conflict through the lens of a handful of IRA members and one murder. There’s a surprise twist at the end that is guaranteed to leave you with goosebumps. Say Nothing is perfect for fans of Erik Larson who want a fast-paced, well researched look at the ongoing struggle in Northern Ireland.

– Review by Jenny, Middletown Branch

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

In 1935, the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt founded an important federal program intended to provide employment opportunities to the throngs of workers left unemployed as a result of the Great Depression: the Works Progress Administration.  And it is from this unprecedented federal program that the Pack Horse Library program was born, a program whose primary purpose was the distribution of books via horse to isolated communities in the eastern Appalachian counties of Kentucky.  Those who engaged in this venerable work became known as Pack Horse Librarians.

When Kentucky native Kim Michele Richardson learned about this program, she became fascinated with those who worked so hard to bring enlightenment to so many and set off on a multi-year research endeavor.  The result?  In 2019, Ms. Richardson published her debut work of fiction, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, which tells the story of Pack Horse Librarian Cussy Mary Carter, called the book woman by those she served.  While a fabricated character, the research Ms. Richardson executed in preparation for her writing of this book is obvious.

Cussy is a well-drawn character for whom it is easy to cheer, since her life is one with many difficulties.  Among these challenges is the fact that she is one of the last of the “blue people of Kentucky,” a group of Kentuckians of the past who, due to a genetic disorder, possessed skin the color of blue and were treated with disdain and prejudice by many.  Add to this poverty and a lack of opportunities of any kind, and one is left with a rather sympathetic character.  But Cussy is not one to let any obstacle stand in her way, and her journey is one fraught with both hardship and danger, but also of love and deep friendship.  And the reader accompanies Cussy through this amazing story, sharing in her losses and triumphs.

Reviewed by Rob, Crescent Hill

Now the only thing overdue at the Library is you!

Your Louisville Free Public Library has gone fine free!

LFPL no longer charges fines for overdue items. With this change, LFPL officially joins library systems across the country who recognize that fines statistically do not ensure the return of borrowed materials. They merely create a barrier to library services that disproportionately affects the people who need access the most.

While this proposal eliminates overdue fines, library items not returned will still result in a patron being billed for the replacement cost and blocked from additional checkouts until the items are returned or paid for.

Why is LFPL going fine free?

  • To provide more equitable access to the library’s materials and resources.
  • To encourage previous patrons to come back to the library and attract new users.
  • To improve customer service and the patron’s overall library experience.

What this means for you:

  • You will no longer accrue a daily late fee on overdue materials.
  • If you have overdue fines (not replacement costs) accrued before we were fine free, you are no longer required to pay those fines.
  • You are still responsible for your items. We encourage you to return all items in a timely manner.
  • The library will continue to send you courtesy reminders to return your items.
  • Past replacement fees for lost or damaged items still apply.