Friday, September 13, 2019

Natalie Recommends Mad Love

Having done a recommendation of Batman: Court of Owls, one of three Batman inspired novels, I thought I would read through the other three and recommend them.  And since September marks Harley Quinn's 27th birthday, I thought I'd do Mad Love first.  This book is written by  Paul Dini and is inspired by the Batman Adventures issue of the same name as well as an episode in Batman Animated Series not too long after.  

Fun Fact: all three of these were written by Paul Dini, so I guess you could say he's really familiar with the story.

The story starts off with Harley as a child going to an amusement park in Coney Island.  She would see her father get beaten by thugs then arrested.  She would come back to this amusement park only to come across these thugs again, who attempt to attack her.  He mother would come to save her and an argument between Harley's parents would ensue when she gets home.  The story would jump ahead several years to a now 17 year old Harley at a gymnastics competition, where we get an update on her living situation (her mom is home and her dad is in prison) and that she has the potential to get a scholarship out of the gymnastics program she's in.  This is all we get before it jumps again to Harley's freshmen year in college, where we start to see some of the Batman oriented stuff make an appearance.  Mostly the talk of Batman, the mention of Gotham and Arkham, and the foreshadowing to her career in psychology.

What I liked about this pre-Gotham/early years part is that we get to see a bit into Harley's childhood.  You get to Harley begin to question who the good guys are.  SOmething we get to see a bit of in the book. 

There would be one more time jump to Harley's first few days at Arkham Asylum.  And she gets a glimpse of a few familiar faces, such as Pamela Isely (Poison Ivy) and Killer Croc, who attempts to charge towards her, as well as several other characters from the Animated Series  We also get a small glimpse at the Joker, but he doesn't make his actual appearance  and first encounter with Harley for a few chapters.

We spend the first few chapters with Harley in a group therapy with some of the female inmates, which includes Poison Ivy, who would later become a close friend of Harley's in the animated series (which has also become something of a staple in the current comics).  And by the time we get to the third, Harley has been ganged up on by the inmates, with Ivy acting as the ring leader and aid to Harley once things really go out of control.  

Quite the start for their blossoming friendship, no?  Pun intended.

Once we go through these sessions, we finally get to what I'd like to call the iconic encounter.  That being Harley and Joker's.  It kind of flips between Harley's and the Joker's perspective, but seems mostly set on Harley's.  For Harley, it starts off as a curiosity, and she keeps their sessions professional.  While the Joker views it as something he can have fun with.

​You'll see him spin a tale about his childhood and Batman, which is what draws her to him.

With each session we see Harley getting more and more interested in Joker.  And not just as a patient, but the beginning of an infatuation for him.  Harley develops a love for this patient, and after a coordinated accident that get the Joker out (minutely) exposes this.  And after the recapture at Batman's hand and Harley getting fired for defending him, Harley dawns the black and red costume that she would be known for (at least until the New 52 comics and the Suicide Squad movie).

Once she does, we get into her life of crime, starting with breaking the Joker out of prison.  However, with this breakout, the Joker's more chaotic and violent tendencies come out.  He wants Harley to be less affectionate when the "boys" (thugs) are around.  His patience is tested with how Harley performs in a crime that gets Batman involved.  Even so, she still holds this love for the Joker,not wanting to see just how bad he is.

But what comes as a rude wake up is when she tries to implement his plan, with an improvement to make it work the way the Joker would want, she finds herself shoved out of a window.  All because she "explained the joke".  

If you are familiar with this story, I think you'll find this as a pretty faithful read (with the only differences being it set in a more modern setting since smartphones and Youtube are a thing).  If you're not, you might find this an interesting yet cautious tale.  It might not be for everyone, but I would recommend this novel and is better suited for adults (which is where it can be found, under our science fiction section).

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Connie Recommends "Inheritance : a memoir of genealogy, paternity, and love" by Dani Shapiro

I especially enjoyed listening to the audio version of this book narrated by the author, herself.  It's available via the Overdrive app at CMPL.


The acclaimed and beloved author of Hourglass now gives us a new memoir about identity, paternity, and family secrets—a real-time exploration of the staggering discovery she recently made about her father, and her struggle to piece together the hidden story of her own life.

What makes us who we are? What combination of memory, history, biology, experience, and that ineffable thing called the soul defines us?

In the spring of 2016, through a genealogy website to which she had whimsically submitted her DNA for analysis, Dani Shapiro received the stunning news that her father was not her biological father. She woke up one morning and her entire history—the life she had lived—crumbled beneath her.

Inheritance is a book about secrets—secrets within families, kept out of shame or self-protectiveness; secrets we keep from one another in the name of love. It is the story of a woman’s urgent quest to unlock the story of her own identity, a story that has been scrupulously hidden from her for more than fifty years, years she had spent writing brilliantly, and compulsively, on themes of identity and family history. It is a book about the extraordinary moment we live in—a moment in which science and technology have outpaced not only medical ethics but also the capacities of the human heart to contend with the consequences of what we discover.

Timely and unforgettable, Dani Shapiro’s memoir is a gripping, gut-wrenching exploration of genealogy, paternity, and love.

Meghan recommends Marvel Audiobooks

Your favorite Marvel Superheros are available in a new format! Spider-man, the X-Men, Daredevil, Ms. Marvel, Dr. Strange and more have new audio versions coming to the library this month and into October. The audiobooks range in length from under two hours to over eight hours. Many feature a full cast reading of the story, and are adaptations of well-known of storylines by authors such as Stan Lee, Dan Abnett, G. Willow Wilson and Jim Butcher.

See the full list of CD Audiobooks and check out an adventure today!

Friday, August 30, 2019

Janet recommends "Greystone Secrets: The Strangers"


This is the first book in a new series by bestselling author Margaret Peterson Haddix. The three Greystone children arrive home to find their mother upset by news that three kids have been kidnapped in Arizona. Those kids have the same first and middle names as the Greystone siblings. They even have the same birthdays! Mrs. Greystone leaves on a sudden business trip the next day. Chess, Emma and Finn Greystone are left to stay with someone they don’t know and her daughter, Natalie. The kids realize something is very wrong when they find their mom’s phone and laptops at home. Chess, Emma, Finn and Natalie find clues and codes and set off into an alternate world to rescue their mom and the kidnapped kids. Read this exciting new adventure to find out if they succeed! You will anxiously await the second book in the series! Perfect for ages 9-12.


Monday, August 26, 2019

Celia recommends "Broken Places and Outer Spaces"

Broken Places and Outer Spaces: Finding Creativity in the Unexpected by Nnedi Okorafor is a short memoir that packs a huge punch. Nnedi Okorafor is the award-winning science fiction writer of novels and graphic novels for youth, teens, and adults. In this book she chronicles her journey through the surgical mishap that left her temporarily paralyzed and first sparked her need to write. Her story is interwoven with sci-fi and fantasy as giant bugs crawl over the walls of her hospital room and she imagines herself as a cyborg, standing at the edge of the ocean. A beautifully written memoir that is short enough to read in a single sitting but which stays with you long after the final page.  

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Natalie recommends "Bats: an Illustrated Guide to all Species"


This was a great book giving some insight into these flying mammals.  And with as many species as their are, somewhere around 1,300 if not more, it's nice to see that this book highlights each one.  It starts off with some basic information about these winged mammals: their biology (including anatomy and physiology), history, ecology, and behaviors.  As well as a brief look into the reputations they've had over the years. 

After that, it gives a brief, but informative synopsis about each bat, where their located, their size and weight, and where they fall on the IUCN (the International Union for Conservation of Nature) as far as how endangered they are.  It also includes the different classes that each bat falls under, giving an explanation of what each class entails.

This is a nice culmination of one of the more unique mammals out there and what kinds of bats you can expect around the world.  This book can be found in the Adult nonfiction section.

For fans of "Where the Crawdads Sing"

If you read Where the Crawdads Sing and loved the evocative descriptions of nature and the incredible story of a girl left to grow up on her own, you may enjoy Once Upon a River by Michigan author Bonnie Jo Campbell

In Once Upon a River, Margo Crane's relatively happy childhood is destroyed one step a time. First, her beloved grandfather dies. Then her mother leaves home. At 15, an act of violence by a trusted uncle leaves her and her father exiled from the family home to the opposite bank of the Stark River. A year later, Margo tries to set the balance right, but starts a chain of events that ends with her alone, heading upstream on the river, with the vague idea to find the mother that abandoned her. 

On the Stark, a fictional branch of the Kalamazoo River, Margo, like Kya in her marsh, is surrounded by wild things: fish, heron, duck, muskrat, and deer. Margo is uniquely suited to take care of herself on the river, having grown up at the heels of her outdoorsman grandfather. She shoots with the skill of her hero, sharpshooter Annie Oakley, and guts and skins animals herself. If Kya is the "Marsh Girl," Margo is the "wolf girl," raised in the wild, and she's not sure whether to be proud or ashamed of the comparison. 

While Margo is content and confident observing the rules of the natural world, she is less confident navigating her human relationships. She cannot locate and reconnect with her mother right away, so Margo hooks up with a series of men along the river. It's a logical decision in her mind, since she is looking for someone to take her in. But her inclination to ‘wait and see’ before deciding how she feels about things often leaves her stranded in dangerous situations. 

There's no murder mystery in Once Upon a River, which isn't to say there's no death. A person left to observe that in the natural world, the strong survive, will do what it takes to survive. Thriving is something else, and Margo has a long journey ahead of her before she can consider what she wants from life beyond her own survival. That journey is beautiful, heart-breaking, frustrating and thought-provoking. Not for the faint of heart, Once Upon a River is unforgettable. 

Other stories of survival, living off the land, and overcoming obstacles set in a deep natural setting include: 

The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne
Nightwoods by Charles Frazier
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
Animal Vegetable Miracle or Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
Wild by Cheryl Strayed