Thursday, April 17, 2014

Graphic Novel Round Up

Many people shy away from graphic novels . .

"Oh, those are for kids."
"Oh, those are too violent."
"Oh, that isn't really literature."

Graphic novels as a genre is plagued with stereotypes, often assigned by people who have never even read a graphic novel! I've written about graphic novels on this blog in the past-- about how they offer a unique perspective, a different entryway into reading and stories. Frankly, I've been on a kick of them lately because they're a great before bed read.

Here's a few I've been enjoying lately if you're interested. . .

A beautiful telling of the lives of the novelist's parents as they lived through the 20th century in England.

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen:

A vibrant, food based memoir from the daughter of a chef and a gourmet. 
She includes neat recipes at the end of each chapter!

The Unwritten:

Ever wonder what Harry Potter would have been like if its author had based the character on his/her own son, and then the son had to grow up and face the pressures of fame? This series explores the politics of fame, influence, and the power of literature on its audience.

Now a successful movie that won the Palme d'Or at Cannes Film Festival, this French translated novel explores the romance between two young women and the travails they face.

Locke & Key:

This recently completed series is smartly written by the novelist son of Stephen King, Joe Hill. While you should know that at times this book is violent or graphic, it more importantly tells an engrossing story of the magical powers of a house and its many keys, and the ways these powers affects the residents of the Lovecraft house-- the Lockes.

A compelling set of three stories about residents of a community in Canada. 

A moving story based on real-life accounts of the horrors faced by child soldiers in Uganda.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

Right now it the perfect time to read a story set in the sweltering heat 
of Labor Day weekend.  An ugly winter is behind us and the idea 
of hot temperatures doesn’t seem that miserable yet. 
                LaborDay was written by Joyce Maynard and takes place just before the Internet was commonplace.  It was a time when it was still relatively easy to close your doors and truly be isolated from the outside world.  This is the world of Henry and his mother, Adele.  After a painful divorce and more personal heartache, Adele rarely ventures out in the world.  It is left to Henry to do most of errands until just before Labor Day weekend.  Henry insists they go out school shopping together.  At the store, they meet an injured prison escapee and they agree to give him a lift.  Here begins a long weekend that changes all their lives.
                If you have seen the trailer for the movie based on the book, you know that Adele and the escapee, Frank, develop a romantic relationship.  This is an easy plot twist for any writer to devise but Maynard sets up an extra challenge for herself and the reader.  The novel is told entirely from the perspective of Henry, a na├»ve thirteen year old boy.  What we know about the journey of Adele and Frank falling in love is strictly through Henry’s eyes.  This is a great refresher in how teenagers (mis)understand and (mis)interpret romantic gestures.  Sometimes Henry is relieved and happy that his mother is finding love.   Sometimes, he is jealous that some else has his mother’s attention.  Other times, he and we are outright grossed out.  Who really wants to hear what their mother is doing with a convict in the middle of the night or sit at the same table when the same man lovingly spoon feds her chili. Yes, chili of all foods.  Is there less romantic nourishment?

Overall, this is a good book to save for a day at the beach or in the park.  
 It includes some great pie making tips and an almost unbelievable tale 
about how Frank ended up in prison in the first place.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen

Thelibrarylady has been remiss about reading books by this author who has a substantial list of prize-winning books. That being said I would say Anna Quindlen is an acquired taste.  Coming in at only 257 pages (this would be a good choice for a book club) I thought it would be an easy read. But it is filled with complications and "what might have beens" that keep the reader on her toes.

Sixty-year-old iconic photographer Rebecca Winter is hanging on to her life by her fingernails and is fast loosing her grip. Having to rent out out her over-priced New York City apartment (5800 a month) to support her mother in a nursing home (1900), maintenance for the apartment (1400), her father's rent (1000), and the rent for the "Charming Country Cottage" which as it turns out is not (1000) leaves Rebecca  500 dollars a month to live on.  Did I mention her son Ben, who can use some extra cash too. Eventually she will barter with her photographs. 

The real story here is how she re-discovers herself. I know that sounds trite but that is exactly what happens. Still recovering from a verbally abusive marriage, she feels the stirrings of attraction from a roofer who removes an errant raccoon from her attic and strikes up a working friendship. Constantly looking for more income, she comes across a series of make-shift cross memorials in the forest surrounding her cottage.  And her life is never the same.

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Butterfly Sister by Amy Gail Hansen

I can't believe I found myself reading another mystery but the ebook synopsis caught my attention and I was hooked. Of course, I read it in book form not being a fan of ebooks. What can I say, I guess I am just incorrigible. But I digress. Expecting this book to be more of a gothic-type of novel, it is not. A suitcase without its owner, a fragile young woman recovering from an attempted suicide, a student affair with a college professor, and a presumed dead college student all in the first chapter. 

But what kept me reading was how the story evolved. Sort of a layer by layer, like peeling an onion, the author reveals the story as well as the mystery. And as usual I tried not to read the end before finishing the book but I couldn't help myself.  I told you I was incorrigible.

The Red Leather Diary by Lily Koppel

As most of you know who have daughters, they can be relentless.  And I mean this in a good way. In this case, I had to read this book.  Written by Lily Koppel, lately of The Astronaut Wives Club, she tells the story of a diary she found  that was more than half a century old.  Tucked away in an old steamer trunk among old clothes, treasured books, broken china, and brochures of long ago trips.

What makes this diary out of the ordinary is its owner and the time period it was written. Covering five years, the diary tells the story of a young woman approaching adulthood. Raised in the upper class echelons of New York society and extremely bright and talented, the reader experiences the intimate thoughts and emotions of this young lady.  She was sexually curious beyond her years and was tremendously independent enough to travel alone to Europe in her teens.

A fun and intriguing read, you have to read this too.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Comic Strip Collections at Your Library

Newspaper comic strip collections have been keeping us entertained for decades.  Many strips have been around longer than most television shows.  From overweight felines to stuffed tigers, teenagers to co-workers, football-shaped headed kids to anthropomorphic cows; comic strips are the way to go when you want to FOTFL (fall on the floor laughing).

Dilbert by Scott Adams

Garfield by Jim Davis

Zits by Jerry Scott

Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz

The Far Side by Gary Larson

Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson

Audiobooks to Tickle Your Funny Bone

In honor of April being National Humor Month, enjoy this list of audiobooks sure to tickle your ear buds. 


Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan (downloadable audio, book on CD)

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and other concerns) by Mindy Kaling (downloadable audio, book on CD)

Seriously--I'm Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres (downloadable audio, book on CD)

Still Foolin' 'Em: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going, and Where the Hell are My Keys? by Billy Crystal (downloadable audio, book on CD)


All-American Girl by Meg Cabot (downloadable audio, book on CD)

King Dork by Frank Portman (downloadable audio)

Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt (downloadable audio, book on CD)

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith (downloadable audio)


Chomp by Carl Hiaasen (downloadable audio, book on CD)

Fortunately, the Milk by by Neil Gaiman (downloadable audio, book on CD)

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren (downloadable audio, book on CD)

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume (downloadable audio, book on CD)

Monday, March 24, 2014

April Is National Humor Month!

  "Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face."
                                                                  -Victor Hugo











The Boys of Summer Are Back!








Swinging For The Fences On Film...