Tuesday, June 30, 2015

From Screen to Panel: If You Love These Shows, Read These Comics!

It's always disappointing to see a favorite series end, even if it is just a break between seasons. But with more and more shows and being adapted from comic books, the transition from the screen to the page is a natural one. Of course, fans of shows like Arrow, Agents of SHIELD, or The Walking Dead have a built in canon to return to once each season ends. For those of us who aren't so lucky, or would like to avoid spoiling future seasons, try the following comics to satisfy your pop culture void. Whether you're a fan of fantasy, science fiction, or just like a good read, you are sure to find something you will enjoy!

MythbustersWhat If? by Randall Munroe 
What If? is the most recent book by Randall Munroe, the creator of the online comic XKCD. This isn't a traditional comic, but more of a pictorial account of extreme hypothetical situations. Illustrated in stick figures, the visuals may not be as satisfying as the fiery demonstrations commonly put on by the Mythbuster team, but Munroe is just as skilled in pushing the boundaries of feasibility. In this book, Munroe provides “serious scientific answers to absurd hypothetical questions” posed by his readers. If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if the world suddenly stopped turning, or if your own morbid curiosity has led to you cause damage to yourself or your property, you will definitely enjoy this book.

Once Upon a TimeFables by Bill Willingham 
This series of graphic novels from Vertigo is a great fit for any fan of reimagined fairy tales. After being exiled from their homeland, the inhabitants of folklore and fairytale migrate to New York City, where they create their own community called Fabletown. But this magical haven is not immune to the crime of the big city, and has its own unique struggles as well. Murder, corruption, and a mysterious conspiracy plague the fable community, and it is up to sheriff Bigby Wolf to sort it all out. Legends in Exile is the first volume of Willingham's ongoing epic, and collects the first 5 issues of Fables.

Gravity Falls Lumberjanes by Grace Ellis & Noelle Stevenson 
Lumberjanes is perfect for those kids at heart who love a good ghost story. Co-written by newcomer Grace Ellis and the acclaimed creator of Nimona Noelle Stevenson, this all-ages comic follows five friends through their adventures at camp Lumberjane. Together Jo, Ripley, April, May, and Molly will earn camp badges by solving mysteries, fighting monsters, and being all-around awesome. This fun and empowering graphic novel is perfect for adults and kids alike. Volume one collects issues #1-#4 of this ongoing comic from Boom! Studios.


Deadwood/CarnivalePretty Deadly by Kelly Sue DeConnick 
If you enjoy Westerns but think they could use more supernatural flair, then Pretty Deadly is the book for you. Set in the Old West, this comic begins with a story about Death, his lover, and his daughter. This tale is told by Sissy and Fox, a pair of traveling storytellers. But they are not alone, as Ginny, the lover of Death himself, is trailing them. Over the course of the series, Fox must atone for the sins of his past, and Sissy must discover her future. Full of superstition and folklore, Pretty Deadly is a masterpiece of the supernatural western genre. The first volume, The Shrike, collects the first five issues of this ongoing comic.

Game of Thrones/GalavantRat Queens by Kurtis J Wiebe 
Wiebe created his fantastical comedy Rat Queens with fans of high fantasy and traditional tabletop games in mind. This comic both mocks and celebrates these genres in an epic that combines the humor of Galavant with the intrigue of Game of Thrones. The Rat Queens are a rowdy gang of adventurers comprised of a human cleric, an elven mage, a halfling thief, and a dwarven warrior. In Sass and Sorcery, the first arc of this ongoing comic, this unlikely troupe of friends must defend themselves and other adventuring parties from a league of assassins set on exterminating them all. This collection contains issues one through five, and volume two is set to be released this month.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Review: Out of Orange by Cleary Wolters

If you're a fan of Orange is the New Black, you already know that Season 3 debuted June 12.
(And maybe you've already watched it.)

Whether you're desperately avoiding spoilers until you finish, or you're already longing for Season 4, I have something you'll be interested in: Out of Orange by Cleary Wolters, a.k.a. the real Alex Vause.

Out of Orange tells the story of how Wolters became involved in smuggling heroin, how she met Piper Kerman, and what went down when the smuggling ring was busted. It follows her through daring escapades bringing drugs into the United States, flying to exotic countries in the process... And it follows her to the far less glamorous places she went elsewhere, while waiting for sentencing and, later, serving her time.

Thanks to HarperCollins, I was able to read an advance copy of the memoir before it was published. As a fan of the show, I was excited to get the scoop on what really happened. In some cases, my curiosity was satisfied. In others, I felt frustrated by Wolters's occasional vagueness. I'm not proud of it, but I couldn't help but crave more juicy details!

Putting voyeurism aside, Out of Orange is a surprisingly humble and candid memoir. I was impressed by the lack of bitterness in Wolters's narrative voice. She describes her relationship with Piper with respect and discretion, and overall, I got the picture of a woman who has spent a lot of time reflecting on her experiences and who readily accepts responsibility for the decisions she has made, and for the resulting outcomes.

Out of Orange has a built-in readership in Orange is the New Black fans who have spent two seasons intrigued by Alex Vause and who want to know more about everyone's favorite bespectacled felon. But will these fans enjoy the book? Yes, I think, if they go into it with the knowledge that although Cleary Wolters and her experiences were the inspiration for Alex Vause, she and the character are two very different people. And as such, her story is very different from Alex's.

Perhaps these differences are part of what makes Out of Orange a worthwhile read. They let us see the real human beings behind the fiction.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Books to Celebrate GLBT Book Month

This year, the American Library Association named June GLBT Book Month, "a nationwide
celebration of the authors and writings that reflect the lives and experiences of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community." What better way to celebrate than by checking out a great book at your local LPLS branch?

Need some suggestions? Here are some of my favorite books featuring LGBT characters, themes, and/or authors.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
Does it get better than the story of indomitable soul mates Idgie and Ruth? The story of their enduring friendship and love makes me cry every time. Am I tearing up just writing this? You'll never know, now will you? (Yeah, I totally am.)

The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Celie rises from abuse and degradation to define herself and achieve autonomy. You'll wring your hands over her struggle to reunite with her estranged sister, long for Shug Avery to return her affections, and pump your fist as her independence blossoms.

Redefining Realness by Janet Mock
Mock tells the story of her life so far and details the path she took to womanhood on her own terms. Enlightening and inspiring regardless of your place(s) on the gender spectrum.

Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite
I didn't realize that Poppy Z. Brite was trans until I started writing this post and started looking over lists of LGBT authors I might have missed! He now uses the name Billy Martin, and wrote as Brite when he penned one of my favorite vampire novels of all time.

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Whitman's poetry makes me want to take my shoes off, go for long road trips, get in trouble, meet people, and scream off the sides of mountains. Primal, energizing, wonderful, and perfect for summer.

If the world of LGBT books were, say, a delicious cheesecake, this list wouldn't even be the barest slice. It wouldn't even be all of a single cherry sitting on top. It's just a few books that I've known and enjoyed, that I know we have in the library, and that wanted to share with you. If you want to explore more--and you should--try a list of LGBT authors. Find something you're longing to read, but we don't have it in the library? Suggest a purchase (you can do it online if you don't want to do it in person) or ask about interlibrary loan!

And, above all, read proudly. It's our library, too.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Support Mental Health Month

Each year millions of Americans are diagnosed with a mental health condition that them and their family must learn how to cope and live with. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and participants across the country are bringing awareness to mental illness and those living with it. The alliance fights stigma, provides support, educates the public and are advocates for equal care. The movement continues to grow stronger each year. During the month of May take time to come together and learn about mental illness: what it is, who is affected, and how you can help become a voice for those in need of help.

In honor of the NAMI's efforts and message, here are some books that deal with mental health. We selected a wide variety of books to include various genres to appeal to your liking. Take a look around and enjoy.   
 (All synopsis are from worldcat.org)

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Calahan
Her medical record, from a month-long hospital stay of which she had no memory, showed psychosis,
violence, and dangerous instability. Yet, only weeks earlier she had been a healthy, ambitious twenty-four-old. Susannah's astonishing memoir chronicles the swift path of her illness and the lucky, last-minute intervention led by one of the few doctors capable of saving her life.

Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America by Elizabeth Wurtzel
Full of promise is how anyone would have described Elizabeth Wurtzel at age ten, a bright-eyed little girl who painted, wrote stories, and excelled in every way. By twelve she was cutting her legs in the girls' bathroom and listening to scratchy recordings of the Velvet Underground.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Esther Greenwood, a talented college student, finds herself estranged from her family and resigned to a conventional lifestyle and descends into depression and mental illness.

Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber
"The true story of a woman possessed by 16 separate personalities"--Jacket subtitle. 
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
The struggle for power between a head nurse and a male patient in a mental institution leads to a climax of hate, violence and death.

Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness by William Styron
The author describes his experiences with depression and his resulting suicidal tendencies beginning in 1985.

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
In 1967, after a session with a psychiatrist she'd never seen before, eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen was put in a taxi and sent to McLean Hospital. She spent most of the next two years on the ward for teenage girls in a psychiatric hospital as renowned for its famous clientele--Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor, and Ray Charles--as for its progressive methods of treating those who could afford its sanctuary. Kaysen's memoir encompasses horror and razor-edged perception while providing vivid portraits of her fellow patients and their keepers. It is a brilliant evocation of a "parallel universe" set within the kaleidoscopically shifting landscape of the late sixties. Girl, Interrupted is a clear-sighted, unflinching document that gives lasting and specific dimension to our definitions of sane and insane, mental illness and recover.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Forced by a storm to spend the night at the home of the somber Heathcliff, Mr. Lockwood uncovers a tale of terror and hatred on the Yorkshire moors.
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
 Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children and a house on the Cape, is a celebrated Harvard professor at the height of her career when she notices a forgetfulness creeping into her life. As confusion starts to cloud her thinking and her memory begins to fail her, she receives a devastating diagnosis: early onset Alzheimer's disease.

January First by Michael Schofield
This work is an account of a father's fight to save his child from an extremely severe case of mental illness in the face of overwhelming adversity. The creator of the janisjourney.org blog traces the story of his fight to save his daughter from her severe schizophrenia and what he has learned about mental illness and its impact on family life. - Publishers description.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tiny Cute Crochet: Amigurumi Books at Your Library

I love to knit and crochet, but when summer's here, I don't always want to work on hats or scarves that I won't be able to wear for months, and I definitely don't want to sweat under a hot afghan or other larger project. What's an intrepid crafter like me to do? Amigurumi!

Ami-what?! Amigurumi comes from the Japanese words ami ("crocheted or knitted") and nuigurumi ("stuffed doll"). That adds up to a whole lot of cute in really small packages. Animals are typical subjects for amigurumi designs, but the imagination is really the only limit to the possibilities. I've seen amigurumi of people, food, insects, and all kinds of inanimate objects.

Some of my favorite designs are those of mythological creatures. I made the unicorn pictured here this
weekend. I used a pattern from The Big Book of Little Amigurumi by Ana Paula Rimoli, which I checked out at the library! 

The Big Book of Little Amigurumi is probably my favorite amigurumi book that I've seen so far. The pattern that I used was clearly written and easy to follow. It never left me guessing about how to execute a step or made me wonder if I had misread the instructions. Rimoli included a lot of variety in this collection, so if unicorns aren't your thing, you have a lot of other designs to pick from. Robots, polar bears, hot dogs, squirrels, octopi, cupcakes, airplanes, and more... Even a set of three sweet peas that nestle into their own pod! There's so much potential for gifts for friends, family members, babies and kids... And for making cute tchotchkes to bring a dose of adorable to your bookshelf or desk!

I loved this book so much that I'm probably going to end up buying a copy. There are too many tempting patterns to make within one checkout period. And I just have to make the hedgehog pattern. Have to.

Tempted by these through-the-roof levels squee on display here, but feeling self-conscious about your crochet skills? Do not be intimidated. The finished product might look challenging, but amigurumi are made in individual pieces and sewn together at the end, so you're working on shapes that are much simpler than they might appear. If you know how to crochet in the round, increase, and decrease, then you already have all the skills you need to make your first amigurumi. 

Still not convinced? Here are some other advantages to amigurumi: They're the ideal portable project. You get to customize your amigurumi with creative color choices and fun extras like cute buttons. They only use small quantities of yarn, so if you're a crafter already, you probably have enough on hand to make one. And you don't have to have expensive supplies or fancy yarn to make something special! My go-to yarn for amigurumi projects is budget-friendly Red Heart Super Saver. 

Now I'm sure that I've convinced you to give it a try, and you're in need of inspiration. While The Big Book of Little Amigurumi is my favorite, we have a lot of other great pattern books by Rimloi (and by other authors, as well) in our libraries' collections. Here are some that you won't want to miss:

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Memories With Mom

HAPPY (Belated)
This Mother's Day we wanted to share some of our staff members' special memories with you. Whether it be a movie, a book or a TV show, they created memories which cherished for a lifetime. To all of our patrons who are mothers and grandmothers: 
We hope you had a memorable 
Mother's Day!

 Calling on Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede - This is the book my mother bought me that finally got me interested in reading.

The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett - This is the 1st book in one of our favorite series, Discwrold. 

My pick is The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter by Sharyn McCrumb. I remember my mom, Mary Reed, reading McCrumb's Appalachian mysteries when I was little. I was always equally intrigued and terrified by the covers, but I didn't read them myself until college, after Mom and I met the author at a Linebaugh event!
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
My mother always saw herself  in Jo March's character, so much so that she used the name for her first email account. She's spent years collecting Alcott, but it's this book that I'll always associate with her.

My mother and I took a trip to Savannah, GA which was inspired by Berendt’s book. We ate at Cleary’s, met some of the characters from the book, visited Jim Williams’s home, and the Bonaventure Cemetery. It was a lot of fun and so much better than just watching the movie.

Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown

My mother used to read this book to me when I was a wee one. It always gave me comfort sitting in her lap while reading this store because, deep down, I knew her love for me was just like the Mother Bunny. I  now have a child of my own, who sits in my lap while I read to him. The book has become a priceless heirloom to me.

 My Fair Lady - This is one of my mom's favorites!  I can remember watching it with her when it was shown on television  (PBS or a Special Movie Event), and many times over the years. I think of her whenever that movie comes through the library system, and always comment to patrons who are checking it out. Typically, there's a smile in response!

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
My grandmother and I read all of the Twilight series together. I was still in high school when they were published, and when I got home we would spend more time than I'd like to admit fangirling and debating the merits of Team Edward versus Team Jacob.

The X-Files (tv sereis)
My mom used to love this show. I didn't get into it much until college. But when I told her I was marathoning the series with some friends, she was ecstatic. We are both looking forward to the return of the series and enjoying the Scully/Mulder shenanigans once again.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling ( JF ROWLING)
My Grandma and Grandpa took me to the midnight release party at Barnes and Noble. They wore the Harry Potter glasses, participated in HP trivia, and stood in a crowded store for hours just so I could have a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

The Big Book of '50s & '60s Swinging Songs (781.63 BIG)
My Grandma loves music from the 50's and 60's. All 6 of her granddaughters have a special song from back in the day. My song is the 1958 "Yakety Yak" by The Coasters.

The Lorax  (dvd)
I LOVE Betty White. When I heard she was going to be in The Lorax I had to see it. My mom agreed to take her 21 year old daughter to a theater full of children just to hear the voice of Betty White.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

May New Arrivals: Literary and General Fiction

Here are some newly-ordered titles from the LPLS general fiction team! This month we bring you a modern retelling of Jane Eyre, a story of struggling in Hollywood, a bildungsroman about talking to fish, and more. Put them on hold and they can be yours before they even hit the shelf.

Oh! You Pretty Things by Shanna Mahin
Jess Dunne is third-generation Hollywood, but her star on the boulevard has yet to materialize. Sure, she's got a Santa Monica address and a working actress roommate, but with her nowhere barista job in a town that acknowledges zeroes only as a dress size, she's a dead girl walking. Enter Jess's mother--a failed actress who puts the strange in estrangement. She dives headlong into her daughter's downward spiral, forcing Jess to muster all her spite and self-preservation to snag a career upgrade: as a personal assistant for a famous (and secretly agoraphobic) film composer, Jess's workdays are now filled with shopping for luxury goods and cooking in his perfectly designed kitchen.

Re Jane by Patricia Park
Jane Re--a half-Korean, half-American orphan--takes a position as an au pair for two Brooklyn academics and their daughter, but a brief sojourn in Seoul, where she reconnects with family, causes her to wonder if the man she loves is really the man for her as she tries to find balance between two cultures.
Stars Go Blue by Laura Pritchett
Ranchers Renny and Ben Cross ... are estranged, elderly spouses living on opposite ends of their sprawling ranch, faced with the particular decline of a fading farm and Ben's struggle with Alzheimer's disease. He is just on the cusp of dementia, able to recognize he is sick but unable to do anything about it--the notes he leaves in his pockets and around the house to remind him of himself, his family, and his responsibilities are no longer as helpful as they used to be. Watching his estranged wife forced into
care-taking and brought to her breaking point, Ben decides to leave his life with whatever dignity and grace remains. As Ben makes his decision, a new horrible truth comes to light: Ray, the abusive husband of their late daughter is being released from prison early. This opens old wounds in Ben, his wife, his surviving daughter, and four grandchildren. Branded with a need for justice, Ben must act before his mind leaves him, and sets off during a brutal snowstorm to confront the man who murdered his daughter. Renny, realizing he is missing, sets off to either stop or witness her husband's act of vengeance.
In the spellbinding and suspenseful Let Me Die in His Footsteps, Edgar Award-winner Lori Roy wrests from a Southern town the secrets of two families touched by an evil that has passed was buried two decades before, but, armed with a silver-handled flashlight, Annie runs through her family's lavender fields toward the well on the Baines' place. At the stroke of midnight, she gazes into the water in search of her future. Not finding what she had hoped for, she turns from the well and when the body she sees
there in the moonlight is discovered come morning, Annie will have much to explain and a past to account for. It was 1936, and there were seven Baine boys. That year, Annie's aunt, Juna Crowley, with her black eyes and her long blond hair, came of age. Before Juna, Joseph Carl had been the best of all the Baine brothers. But then he looked into Juna's eyes and they made him do things that cost innocent people their lives. Sheriff Irlene Fulkerson saw justice served-or did she? As the lavender harvest approaches and she comes of age as Aunt Juna did in her own time, Annie's dread mounts. Juna will come home now, to finish what she started. If Annie is to save herself, her family, and this small Kentucky town, she must prepare for Juna's return, and the revelation of what really happened all those years ago
between generations.

The Minnow by Diana Sweeney
Tom survived a devastating flood that claimed the lives of her sister and parents. Now she lives with Bill in his old shed by the lake. But it's time to move out - Tom is pregnant with Bill's baby. Jonah lets her move in with him. Mrs Peck gives her the Fishmaster Super Series tackle box. Nana is full of gentle good advice and useful sayings. And in her longing for what is lost, Tom talks to fish: Oscar the carp in the pet shop, little Sarah catfish who might be her sister, an unhelpful turtle in a tank at the maternity ward. And the minnow.

(Thanks to WorldCat for the descriptions used in this entry.)