The Civil War haunts the collective American memory, and we return to it again and again in both fiction and nonfiction stories. With a diverse and polarized electorate, the specter of another civil war occupies real estate in our imagination (and I’m not just talking about the Marvel Comics variety).
In the comic book series “DMZ,” the demilitarized zone of the the title is the island of Manhattan. The heart of the Big Apple is now territory caught between two factions in a second American civil war. The warring factions are the armies of the United States federal government and the Free States armies, a coalition of various secessionist groups. Most of Manhattan’s population has been evacuated. The remaining population consists of the poor (who were abandoned), holdouts refusing to leave and various operatives for both sides of the conflict.Continue reading “Know Your Dystopias: DMZ”
Is there something happening in the world causing me to gravitate to strange stories told by unreliable narrators which offer little to no resolution? There is no way to know, but I’m here to recommend another story that, while thrilling many readers, has left others scratching their chins and polishing their monocles while they try to unearth the key that they missed which would unlock the mystery and allow them to go about their merry ways confident that they’ve completed a sensical story and fully absorbed what it has to offer.
Perhaps I need to polish longer, but I haven’t been able to make total sense of “The Job of the Wasp” by Colin Winnette. But like riding a ferris wheel or eating a bucket of street food, the pleasure is in the journey rather than the destination. That said, where the book takes you is absolutely worth it, and the final sentence is a doozy, but just as one rarely finds themselves coming to any epiphanies while hosing out a freshly emptied bucket of street food, you’re unlikely to exclaim “A-HA,” upon finishing this novel.
A boy with thick glasses sits cross-legged, reading a book, as a different boy walks by accompanied by his father. “You know what we do to nerds, right?” the father asks. His son grins. “Yeah. Learn from them!”
The scene described is a sequence in the “Lunarbaboon” webcomic. Lunarbaboon is half human and half moon monkey, but the situations he encounters as a father seem entirely human. Author Chris Grady has a knack for taking some of our more undesirable social conventions and turning them on their heads. In one cartoon, the father offers to teach his son some “sweet moves” with the ladies. The “moves” turn out to involve listening and showing respect. After a number of years of internet popularity, Grady’s cartoons are now available in book form. “Lunarbaboon: the Daily Life of Parenthood” was published last year. Continue reading “Father’s Day Reads”
Posted on Thursday, June 14, 2018 by patron reviewer
“In the Unlikely Event” was thoughtful, suspenseful and fascinating. I always love a good book about people and their lives and stories; this one is no exception. I enjoy the way Judy Blume writes and have been reading her books for years. I loved all the characters. Although the number of characters was a little overwhelming and hard to keep track of at times, Blume does a good job of reminding you who the characters are and how they fit into the book. This book follows the lives of those who lived through the tragedy of three plane crashes which happened in their neighborhood within a matter of a few months. The plane crashes actually happened but the characters and the story are a work of fiction. It seems so unbelievable but the way the tragedy affects the characters is intense, heartbreaking and not at all surprising. I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to others.
Three words that describe this book: touching, real, exceptional
You might want to pick this book up if: You like to read about others’ lives and how people react in the face of tragedy.
This time of year brings summer weather and a whole new month’s worth of debut fiction. There are some exciting titles by new authors that came out in May and, as always, you can find a longer list of debut titles in our catalog.
The magical barrier—known as the Mantle—separating the enemy lands of Elsira and Lagrimara is about to fall. Both countries face the threat of impending war, but also that of an ancient evil known as the True-Father which seeks to conquer them both.
Gifted with the power of Eathsong, Jasminda is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira where her dark skin marks her Lagrimaran descent. Jack is an Elsiran spy who is trying to warn Elsira about the eminent collapse of the Mantle and the threat of the True-Father. As Jasminda and Jack work together to protect their home and reinforce the Mantle, their professional alliance becomes personal even as they are faced with political and social opposition.
Do you want a book about nature but maybe just the nature in your own backyard? How about “Grace From the Garden” by Debra Landwehr Engle? There is something about being elbow deep in dirt — it’s very grounding. Or maybe it’s not grace you’re looking for, but something else from the garden. How about “The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World’s Drinks” by Amy Stewart? Amy will lead you on a world tour of plants, flowers and fruits with plenty of history and fun facts about the things we love to drink. But I must warn you, you might end up a little thirsty.
“Drunken botanists? Given the role they play in creating the world’s great drinks, it’s a wonder there are any sober botanists at all.”
This September, our community will have the chance to dive into a work of true crime that explores a dark chapter of U.S. history involving the murder of Osage Indians in 1920s Oklahoma. David Grann’s National Book Award finalist, “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI” beat out “News of the World,” a post-Civil War historical fiction by Paulette Jiles, when both titles were put to a public vote earlier this year.
Music elicits a visceral reaction, especially music that falls under the broad umbrella of pop and rock. It’s loud and raucous, meant to get you out of your seat and to irritate your parents. Whether it’s the beat, the melody or some sick guitar shredding, something flips our normal mode of operation as our intellect and ego become subservient to our ID. So it’s understandable if the idea of quietly reading a book about this music seems too tame. But books about our pop and rock icons can be as thrilling as they are interesting. They provide a window into the craft of the music, but also the cultural moment it was created in. With decades of quality writing on pop music, a comprehensive list of the best this genre has to offer would be insurmountable. Instead, and in the creative spirit of music itself, I offer you a highly subjective list of recommendations of books that I’ve either read and loved or that linger tantalizingly on my “To Be Read” shelf.
As I am writing this blog, sheets of rain are pouring down — the perfect time to talk about or read a mystery. Read Harder 2018 challenges you to read a mystery by a person of color and/or a LGTBQ author, and I have a few to recommend. We have a more extensive list in our catalog if none of these make you want to curl up under your covers with a cup of hot tea.
If you like the mystery genre, but feel the stories are all starting to sound the same, try Rachel Howzell Hall’s “The Land of Shadows.” Hall begins this series about Detective Lou Norton, a female detective who is investigating the death of a 17-year-old girl in gritty South Los Angeles. The death of this girl strangely mirrors the disappearance of Norton’s teenage sister 25 years ago. The author really shines in the development of her characters and the community in which they live. With snappy dialogue, brisk pacing and just enough plot twists, this is a refreshing new voice in the police procedural. Continue reading “A Mystery By a Person of Color or LGBTQ+: Read Harder 2018”
Here is a quick look at the most noteworthy nonfiction titles being released this June. Visit our catalog for a more extensive list.
“First in Line” by Kate Anderson Brower, the best-selling author of “First Women” and “The Residence,” explores the lives and roles of 13 vice presidents of the modern era, from Richard Nixon to Mike Pence, discussing the complicated relationship between president and vice president and how this connection influenced each vice president’s political future.
For all the scores of biographies of Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the most famous detective in the world, there is no recent book that tells this remarkable story — in which Conan Doyle becomes a real-life detective on an actual murder case. In “Conan Doyle for the Defense“, Margalit Fox takes us step by step inside Conan Doyle’s investigative process and illuminates a murder mystery that is also a morality play for our time — a story of ethnic, religious and anti-immigrant bias. Continue reading “Nonfiction Roundup: June 2018”