November 3, 2015 by Reader's Connection
Remember how I wasn’t capable of listening to audiobooks while I drive, so I invented a new Read Harder Challenge?
How I’m going to read magazines all the way through?
I’m on my third magazine, now, the November issue of The Sun. I’ve never read The Sun, before, but I’m enjoying it. There are original articles and some reprinted (modern) poems.
The November issue is focused on families, parenting, children.
I mention this because when I reached the poetry pages, there was Nikki Giovanni’s poem “Nikki-Rosa,” which Carrie had linked to over on the Kids’ Blog, in anticipation of Giovanni’s appearance at Fall Fest at Central Library on November 21st.
I got all excited. Thanks for letting me share.
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November 1, 2015 by Reader's Connection
On October 10th, four writers were the recipients of Indiana Authors Awards. Our first video features three of them reading from their work and offering comments: Marianne Boruch won in the National Author category, Adrian Matejka in the Regional Author category, and Clifford Garstang as an Emerging Author.
The fourth award winner that day was Mari Evans, who won an Lifetime Achievement Award. This has only happened twice, now. The earlier recipient of this award was Dan Wakefield in 2012.
October 29, 2015 by Reader's Connection
Our book suggestions for this month of Thanksgiving come to us mostly from the East & West Coasts. The librarians writing reviews don’t hail from farther inland than West Virginia.
Among many other things for which I’m thankful, I am thankful for all you library patrons, for the librarians around the country who reviewed these new books, and for the strange fact that new books keep coming.
The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende
Irina is a young Moldavian immigrant with a troubled past. She works at an assisted living home where she meets Alma, a Holocaust survivor. Alma falls in love with Ichi, a young Japanese gardener, who survived Topaz, the Japanese internment camp. Despite man’s inhumanity to man, love, art and beauty can exist, as evidenced in their beautiful love story. — Ellen Firer, Merrick Library, Merrick, NY
The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild
The engaging, totally unexpected story of Annie, a lonely young woman who wanders into a junk shop and buys a painting. The painting turns out to have a long and storied past, with powerful people searching high and low for it. Unpredictable and fascinating; I loved the peek into the cutthroat art world and watching Annie blossom as she discovers her true calling. –Heather Bistyga, Anderson County Library, Anderson, SC
Little Victories: Perfect Rules for Imperfect Living by Jason Gay
This was a quick, enjoyable read that offers a refreshing perspective on some of the trivialities we all find ourselves caught up in. I enjoyed the tone and humor throughout. A standout for me was Gay’s list of recommendations for his child’s future baseball team. His open letter to this imagined future team envisions a team that can just let kids be kids. My only disappointment with this book was that there wasn’t more of it–it seemed to end all too soon. –Lindley Homol, Chesterfield County Public Library, Chesterfield, VA
Crimson Shore by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
In the latest installment in the Special Agent Pendergast series, Pendergast and Constance Greene investigate a theft of a wine cellar in an ancient village on the coast north of Salem, only to discover during their investigation the entombed remains of a tortured man. I always thoroughly enjoy the Pendergast novels, and the interaction between Pendergast and Constance in this book was very intriguing. –Shari Brophy, Timberland Regional Library, Tumwater, WA
The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro
This art-filled story following the young life and disappearance of Alizee Benoit is heartbreaking and thoughtful. Not only does the novel give an entertaining education on the WPA and abstract artists, but it also gives eerily relevant commentary on refugees and the cold-heartedness of government. Alizee’s story will pull you along as you try to grasp how this bright light of the art community vanished. –Amanda Monson, Bartow County Library System, Cartersville, GA
The Girl With Ghost Eyes by M.H. Boroson
In San Francisco during the late 1800s, a young Chinese widow tries to keep her father alive, and win a place in his heart she doesn’t realize she already owns. This story is filled with wonderful detail from Chinese folklore and mythology, and plenty of action as two tongs battle to control Chinatown. The very best fantasy employs strong characters who are real people with real problems. I enjoyed every page. –Janet Martin, Southern Pines Public Library, Southern Pines, NC
Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams
When Pepper Schuyler–on the run from a powerful politician and desperate to protect her unborn child–sells her newly restored classic car to an enigmatic and very wealthy woman, she not only finds unexpected refuge but also tantalizing hints of a mystery. With vivid European settings, colorful characters and intricate plotting that skillfully weaves past and present together, Along The Infinite Sea is a treat for fans of Beatriz Williams. –Beth Mills, New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, NY
A Likely Story: A Library Lover’s Mystery by Jenn McKinlay
A Likely Story is just as addictive as the rest of the Library Lover’s mysteries! McKinlay has written some of the most authentic library characters that I’ve come across in the cozy mystery genre. I can’t wait to find out what the employees and patrons of Briar Creek Public Library (especially Sully) are up to next! –Michelle Ross, Kanawha County Public Library, Charleston, WV
Dear Mr. You by Mary-Louise Parker
Parker has created a unique and poetic memoir through a series of letters–some of appreciation, some of apology, some simply of acknowledgement–to the men in her life. Ranging from a taxi driver to a grandfather she never knew, each man has left an imprint and shaped her into the person she has become. Full of feeling, growth, and self-discovery, Parker’s book has left me longing to write my own letters. –PJ Gardiner, Wake County Public Libraries, Raleigh, NC
A Wild Swan: And Other Tales by Michael Cunningham, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu
These are fairy tales that have slightly more insight, for the discerning adult. “The Wild Swans” was actually my favorite when I was young, next to “The Little Mermaid.” These are a continuation of what happens after those stories end and are set, in some instances, in the modern world. Packed with humor, this is an easy gift for those who like to be read to at night or feel too old for idealistic fairy tales. –Andrienne Cruz, Azusa City Library, Azusa, CA
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October 26, 2015 by Reader's Connection
On Saturday, November 21st, from 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m. at Central Library, Fall Fest will feature music, the Slammin’ Rhymes Challenge Awards, martial arts, rope-jumping and more–and the more includes, sometime around 2:10 p.m., a lecture by poet Nikki Giovanni.
Carrie already did a post about this program over on the Kid’s Blog. She did such a good job that I’m going to parasitically link to her collection of website links and links to poems.
Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day (1978)
A pivotal work in Nikki Giovanni’s career, Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day is one of the most poignant and intorspective of all Giovanni’s collections. Moving from the emotionally fraught political arena to the intimate realm of the personal, the poems in this volume express a conflicted consciousness and the disillusionment shared by so many during the early 1970s, when the dreams of the Civil Rights era seemed to have evaporated. First published in 1978, this classic will remind her readers why they were first drawn to Nikki Giovanni and enthrall new readers who are just now coming to these timeless poems. — Publisher’s note
[Blogger’s note: I guess this cover art is okay, but what happened to the cotton-candy-colored art that I remember?]
In the late 1960s, Giovanni emerged as one of the youngest and most controversial poets of the Black Arts Movement. She would go on to broaden her influence as an essayist, teacher, lecturer and activist. The poetry collected in this volume is arranged chronologically, gathering work from her first book, Black Feeling Black Talk to the present. The poems touch on themes and events of the last four decades of the nation’s history. “His headstone said/ FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST/ But death is a slave’s freedom/ We seek the freedom of free men/ And the construction of a world/ Where Martin Luther King could have lived/ and preached non-violence” is “The Funeral of Martin Luther King, Jr” in its entirety. Giovanni’s work is also deeply subjective: “I wrote a good omelet …and ate a hot poem…/ after loving you.” Springing from a strong commitment to African and African-American oral tradition, her voice is fierce, resilient, often celebratory and rooted in the vernacular of her community, whether she speaks as African American, woman, mother, writer or lover. —Publishers Weekly
Love Poems (1997)
In one way or another, love shapes most of Giovanni’s smart, to-the-point, and emotionally candid poems, but it’s wonderful to have a volume devoted strictly to her love poems, especially since it contains 20 new compositions. Giovanni is one of America’s most popular poets, because she speaks her mind clearly and has such a good time doing it. As she writes in “A Poem: For Langston Hughes”: “wool is sheared . . . silk is spun / weaving is hard . . . but words are fun,” a sentiment she brings to rich fruition in her more playful poems, rhyming wonders reminiscent of old blues lyrics where every line is a double entendre, the sort of hand-on-your-hip songs Bessie Smith and Dinah Washington sashayed and smiled their way through. But Giovanni turns more somber and reflective as she expresses the love of a daughter and mother, and a woman’s deep-down love for a man that far outlasts the giddy romp of romance. — Booklist
The extraordinarily popular Giovanni got that way as a black militant during the 1970s, known for her inspirational, fiery live and recorded performances. This first volume since her 2003 Collected Poetry loses the fire but keeps the inspiration: “Poetry says No to destruction and Yes to possibility,” Giovanni declares. Her mix of lineated and prose poetry says yes over and over to the glories of children and grandmothers, to “the men with hopes and dreams and talents,” as well as to the memory of the African-American cultural heroes who died in the last few years. Many pages are, in effect, orations: “We will miss June Jordan. For her courage, her insight, her love of us all. We will miss this poet.” Some of the strongest and most detailed works are short, not especially lyrical, pieces in prose. One remembers meeting Gwendolyn Brooks; another shows a grandmother’s strong support for Virginia Tech Hokies football. Giovanni’s most serious verse and prose link her own struggles as a black woman, as a latter-day icon, as a cancer survivor, as a teacher to the larger patterns of black American history, of striving toward freedom always: “I choose always as best I can to keep truth and compassion in my life.” — Publishers Weekly
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October 22, 2015 by Reader's Connection
November brings us Spirit & Place all over town, author visits to the Jewish Community Center as part of the Ann Katz Festival of Books & Art, Fall Fest with Nikki Giovanni at Central Library, Read Local at Irvington, and (I think) 14 library book discussions.
The What Would Jane Austen Read? Book Club will meet at the College Avenue Library on Monday, November 2nd, at 1:30 p.m.
This is a group that reads selections of 18th century literature that Jane Austen might have read. Well-known novels of Burney, Edgeworth, Fielding, Defoe, Sterne and others formed our earliest reading. If you enjoy Jane Austen, you may like some of the writers who influenced her. We now are reading lesser-known works which were popular in her day . . . As these are sometimes obscure works, the library often doesn’t have copies, so our members have to use on-line sources, purchase second hand copies (under $5) or use interlibrary loan to obtain the books. — Group facilitator Elizabeth K. Jarvis
|On Monday, November 2nd from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., the theme at Glendale Library‘s Cooking Chats will be “edible gifts.” Check out one of the featured cookbooks and try some recipes. Please call 275-4410 to register for this program during which registrants will make jar gifts to take home as well as sampling an edible gift or two.Vegan Food Gifts: More Than 100 Inspired Recipes for Homemade Baked Goods, Preserves, and Other Edible Gifts Everyone Will Love by Joni Marie NewmanDelicious Gifts: Edible Creations to Make and Give by Jess McCloskey
There will be a guest discussion leader from the Indiana Writers Center, and those who attend will have their names in a drawing to win an autographed copy of the book.
It’s 1978, and 35-year-old self-appointed spinster Ave Maria Mulligan is stuck in a rut in Big Stone Gap in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. And that isn’t just a metaphor for her life. As the town pharmacist, she is keeper of some of the town’s secrets. But as she herself puts it, “God knows I don’t get any pleasure in knowing that the town manager performs self-colonics.” Ave Maria is also the drama director and an earnest member of the local rescue squad, but it’s really she who needs rescuing from her drab life. She spends much of her time at the bookmobile when it comes through town, gossiping with Iva Lou, who is not your stereotypical librarian. It is through Iva Lou that Ave Maria vicariously experiences any sort of love life. But Ave Maria is soon presented with a big family secret all her own that, with a little help from her, could change her destiny. There are other things happening in Stone Gap, including a mine disaster that prompts Ave Maria to quit the rescue squad. But the Big Thing is that the legendary Elizabeth Taylor is about to visit town with her then-office-seeking husband, John Warner. The preparation for the visit and the event itself form the backdrop to Ave Marie’s own drama as her secret presents her with new possibilities. — Booklist
Scotland Yard’s Thomas Pitt worries about his fitness as head of Special Branch, a post he officially assumes in early 1896, in bestseller Perry’s suspenseful 27th novel featuring Pitt and his wife, Charlotte. When Pitt gets reports from his staff that someone has been asking questions about railway signals and points, he’s concerned that the inquiries might be a prelude to an assassination attempt during a train journey, though the target is at first unclear. Unfortunately, getting others in the British government to share his worries proves an uphill slog. And even with additional resources, figuring out the who, the what, and the when to prevent a crime that could have international repercussions isn’t easy. Perry convincingly demonstrates that this long-running series hasn’t run out of steam, and breathes new life into it by giving her capable lead new responsibilities and new challenges. — Publishers Weekly
A perfect wife’s disappearance plunges her husband into a nightmare as it rips open ugly secrets about his marriage and, just maybe, his culpability in her death. Even after they lost their jobs as magazine writers and he uprooted her from New York and spirited her off to his childhood home in North Carthage, Mo., where his ailing parents suddenly needed him at their side, Nick Dunne still acted as if everything were fine between him and his wife, Amy. His sister Margo, who’d gone partners with him on a local bar, never suspected that the marriage was fraying, and certainly never knew that Nick, who’d buried his mother and largely ducked his responsibilities to his father, stricken with Alzheimer’s, had taken one of his graduate students as a mistress. That’s because Nick and Amy were both so good at playing Mr. and Ms. Right for their audience. But that all changes the morning of their fifth anniversary when Amy vanishes with every indication of foul play. Partly because the evidence against him looks so bleak, partly because he’s so bad at communicating grief, partly because he doesn’t feel all that grief-stricken to begin with, the tide begins to turn against Nick . . . One of those rare thrillers whose revelations actually intensify its suspense instead of dissipating it. The final pages are chilling. — Kirkus Reviews
Branching out from her popular Victorian London sleuthing team, Inspector Thomas Pitt and his wife Charlotte, Perry introduces another exemplary “Peeler” (as in Bobby Peele, the first “bobby”), detective William Monk, in this period mystery with a pronounced and satisfying psychological dimension. After an accident in his carriage, Monk wakes up with no memory; ashamed to admit it, he bluffs his way through recovery and returns to work, where he is assigned a particularly tricky investigation of a young nobleman’s brutal murder. While tracking the last affairs of Major Jocelin Grey, Monk traces his own history and dislikes what he turns up on both fronts. Uncovering unpleasant secrets within Grey’s aristocratic family, he also finds his gradually revealed former self to have been ambitious, cold and perhaps cruel. Integral to Perry’s rich, unpredictable plot is the Crimean War, graphically described by Hester Latterly, a forthright young woman of the middle class who nursed there with Florence Nightingale. While Monk’s unwillingness to face directly the questions of his past is often a stumbling block, forbearing readers will be amply rewarded by Perry’s resolutions of both mysteries. — Publishers Weekly
The Face of a Stranger is also available as a downloadable e-book.
Refreshments & a poem are mixed in with the reading aloud.
Filled with scandalous situations and unexpected twists, this sequel to The Joneses follows the eponymous family as secrets are revealed and drama leads to danger–or maybe even death. The Joneses’ world is turned upside down as their family life comes under public scrutiny. But now, matriarch Lexi Jones is no longer concerned with “status.” Will she be able to withstand the recent tragedy or resign to watching her world crumble around her? Meanwhile, Charity, Hope, and Lovie must put aside sibling rivalry to find out who killed an ex-family friend. When the killer is revealed, they are all in for the shock of their lives…and the end result could mean life or death for the Joneses. As loose ends are tied up, even more scandals and secrets are exposed. — Publishers note
Biographical novel of Anne Morrow and her troubled marriage to pioneering aviator Charles Lindbergh . . . At first, the glamorous couple’s life consists of flights all over the world: Anne becomes a pilot and navigator and Charles’ indispensable sidekick. However, when in 1932 the Lindberghs’ first child is kidnapped from his nursery, the resulting press furor almost destroys Anne. In addition to her grief over her lost firstborn, a grief that Lindy doesn’t appear to share, Anne suffers the downside of fame as public adulation turns to prurient sensationalism. The couple takes refuge abroad, where they enjoy the orderly routine and docile press of the Hitler regime, as long as Charles is willing to accept a Nazi medal and attend rallies. However, Kristallnacht proves too much even for Lindbergh’s anti-Semitism, and he and Anne return to the States as war threatens. As more children arrive, Anne is beginning to bridle at Charles’ domineering ways, however the aspiring author is too insecure to contradict him even as he offends her liberal friends and family by siding with right-wing groups who claim that the Jews are trying to force America into war . . . Although the portrayal of such a passive character could easily turn tepid, Benjamin maintains interest, even suspense, as readers wonder when Anne’s healthy rebellious instincts will burst the bonds of her dutiful deference. — Kirkus Reviews
The world’s strongest librarian? Really? Josh Hanagarne’s The World’s Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family will be discussed at the Fountain Square Library on Thursday, November 12th at 1:30 p.m.
Josh Hanagarne is a remarkable man. He is a librarian, a follower of the Mormon faith, has Tourette’s syndrome, and can deadlift 600 pounds. In this moving memoir, Hanagarne shows his readers what it is like to live with a severe form of Tourette’s and how, with patience, love, and support from his family, he was able to build a rich, full life. With the onset of Tourette’s, Hanagarne found a source of joy and delight and a welcome escape in books. He chronicles the increasing severity of his Tourette’s, which forces him to leave his Mormon mission early and affects his pursuit of higher education. Hanagarne is open about his struggles, from his questioning of his faith, through the difficulties in his marriage, to his dogged determination to challenge himself to persevere and become a librarian. Throughout, his optimism and amusing, self-deprecating sense of humor shine through. An excellent and uplifting story on accepting and coping with lifelong disabilities, of particular interest to librarians. — Booklist
On Monday, November 16th at 6:00 p.m., the theme for Nora Library‘s Cookbook Discussion program will be “Cookbooks about Appetizers and Dips.”
1. Find a cookbook that fits this month’s theme. The book pictured here, Susan Puckett’s Dips : Great Recipes for Spreads, Salsas, Fondues and Other Party Fare, is just one possible title.
2. Read the cookbook and sample a few recipes.
3. Pick up a review form at Nora, fill it out, and bring it with you to the meeting.
4. Optional: make a recipe from the cookbook and bring samples to the meeting.
5. Join us for an enjoyable discussion of the cookbooks and some delicious taste testing.
The special guest will be Brad Nehrt, Culinary Arts Instructor at the J. Everett Light Career Center.
Eighty-five-year-old Addie Baum reminisces about her life in Diamant’s step back in time. Addie’s been asked by her 22-year-old granddaughter, Ava, to explain how she became the woman she is. Born to Jewish immigrant parents in 1900 in Boston’s heavily populated North End, Addie and her two older sisters lived in a tenement with their unhappy parents who did not acclimate to this new world. But Addie’s caring and loyal sisters are there for her. In 1915 she is a young teen, interested in her activities at a library group held at a neighborhood settlement house. Recalling situations with her compassionate eye and remarkable sense of humor, Addie observes upheavals large and small: changing women’s roles, movies, celebrity culture, short skirts, and the horrible flu pandemic of 1918. She explores feminism, family, and love as well. VERDICT Diamant offers impeccable descriptions of Boston life during these early years of the 20th century and creates a loving, caring lead character who grows in front of our eyes from a naïve young girl to a warm, wise elder. Readers interested in historical fiction will certainly enjoy this look at the era, with all its complications and wonders. — Library Journal
The sinking of the British ocean liner Lusitania in 1915 is one of a trio (including the iceberg-wounded Titanic in 1912 and the Italian liner Andrea Doria, which collided with another liner on the high seas in 1956) of the most dramatic and most remembered maritime disasters of the twentieth century. With the narrative skills shown so effectively in his The Devil in the White City (2003), a lively account of Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair, Larson reconstructs the last and fatal voyage of what was widely considered the most beautiful ship of the day, the giant four-stacker Lusitania. Reader engrossment is tightly sustained as we move back and forth between the Lusitania on its return from New York City to its home port of Liverpool under a black cloud of warnings that the imperial German government considered the waters around Britain to be a war zone, and the rapacious German submarine U-20, stalking the seas for prey like a lion on the Serengeti. Factual and personal to a high degree, the narrative reads like a grade-A thriller. — Booklist
Portal, the Indianapolis Science Fiction and Fantasy Discussion Group, will meet at the Glendale Library on Sunday, November 22nd at 1:00 p.m. The activity for this program is a Portal Choice of the year Group Read, Lud-in-the-Mist by Helen Mirrlees.
It’s a 1926 fantasy novel set in a country that – though near to Fairyland – has banned fairy fruit; even mentioning fairies is considered shocking. While Lud-in-the-Mist isn’t well remembered today, it’s one of Neil Gaiman’s favorite books, and he’s championed it for years. — Portal on Facebook
Lud-in-the-Mist is also available as a downloadable e-book, though I don’t know if the e-book includes Neil Gaiman’s forward.
AND REMEMBER: On Sunday, October 25th, the Portal topic has to do with “Eldritch Horror.” If you click the Portal icon, you’ll see that there’s quite a discussion of H. P. Lovecraft going on on their Facebook page.
In Moyes’s disarmingly moving love story, Louisa Clark leads a routine existence: at 26, she’s dully content with her job at the cafe in her small English town and with Patrick, her boyfriend of six years. But when the cafe closes, a job caring for a recently paralyzed man offers Lou better pay and, despite her lack of experience, she’s hired. Lou’s charge, Will Traynor, suffered a spinal cord injury when hit by a motorcycle and his raw frustration with quadriplegia makes the job almost unbearable for Lou. Will is quick-witted and sardonic, a powerhouse of a man in his former life (motorcycles; sky diving; important career in global business). While the two engage in occasional banter, Lou at first stays on only for the sake of her family, who desperately needs the money. But when she discovers that Will intends to end his own life, Lou makes it her mission to persuade him that life is still worth living. In the process of planning “adventures” like trips to the horse track–some of which illuminate Lou’s own minor failings–Lou begins to understand the extent of Will’s isolation; meanwhile, Will introduces Lou to ideas outside of her small existence. The end result is a lovely novel, both nontraditional and enthralling. — Publishers Weekly
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