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.



From goodreads.com



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"

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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


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Gretchen recommends the "Complete Guide to Pet Health, Behavior, and Happiness"





As you enjoy these last dog days of summer, learn how you can optimize this time with your canine or feline family members by giving attention to your pet's health and wellness needs.  The Complete Guide to Pet Health, Behavior, and Happiness by Dr. Gary Weitzman provides a wealth of information from first aid and common illnesses to a pet's psychological needs throughout its life span.  This well-illustrated book is geared for adult readers.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Natalie Recommends "Alita Battle Angel"



Based on the Yukito Kishiro manga (Japanese comic) Battle Angel Alita, Alita: Battle Angel tells the story of the cyborg Alita, who has amnesia and wants to find out who she is.  This movie highlights the first few issue of the Battle Angel Alita series, which includes her introduction, her interest in motorball (a fa roller derby like sport), and her time as a bounty hunter.  Along the way, she meets new friends, like Hugo, who she would develop a romantic interest in as well as enemies such as Zapan, a cyborg bounty hunter, and Victor a motorball champion, who has questionable ties.


This movie did stray slightly from the source material slightly, like changing how Alita got her name (she was originally named after Ido's cat) to his daughter and Jennifer Connolly's character, Dr. Cherin.  She was originally a character from the short animated series but was Ido's partner there, where here, she's his ex-wife.  However, these additions were nice and added some development for the story. For example, Hugo shows Alita how to play motorball (for fun), which would at least explain where she learned it from.


This was a project that James Cameron had been wanting to do since Avatar, which would be the movie he ultimately went with first.  And while the titular character's look it may take some getting used to, this is a really good cyberpunk movie.  I actually saw it in theaters when it came out because I am a fan of the series and was waiting for this to finally come out for a few years.  And after the wait, I can say that I really enjoyed it.


It's a good movie that tells the story of a cyborg trying to discover who she is and who she wants to be and is full of great action sequences.  The motorball scenes in this movie are fast much like the sport it mimics and are fun to watch.  As an adaptation of a manga series (much like Ghost in a Shell two years ago), I feel like this did it well compared to a number of others like it.  And as a science fiction movie, I thought it was pretty well put together.  This movie is suited for a more adult audience given some of the language and topics that are brought up.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Sarah recommends "Bachelor Nation"


Confession: I’m a fan of The Bachelor. I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a member of “Bachelor Nation” (the term used by ABC TV for die-hard fans of their Bachelor franchise), but I DO regularly watch the shows. Which led me to this CMPL Hot Read from 2018: Bachelor Nation: inside the world of America’s favorite guilty pleasure. Written by Los Angeles Times journalist Amy Kaufman, it explores both the secrets behind making a reality TV show, and the cultural implications of a show focused on the narrative of fairy-tale romance.

Here are some of the juicy details I learned by reading this book:
*Co-executive producer Lisa Levenson got her start in television with Jerry Springer and General Hospital – she knew all about how to create drama!
*The “in-the-moment” interviews, in which off-camera producers interview contestants during an episode, are shockingly similar to police interrogations – contestants may be kept in that small room until they say what producers want them to say, so they “confess” in order to get out of there and finally get to sleep. (p. 148)
*Something called “Frankenbiting” – sound-bites that have been edited to change the meaning from the original recording. (p. 161)
(Surprise! Reality TV isn’t really real.)

So if you’re a proud member of Bachelor Nation, a casual fan, a “hate-watcher,”or just curious what all the fuss is about, I highly recommend picking this one up.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Gretchen recommends "Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country"


I always look forward to Pam Houston’s books.  This memoir from the writer and environmentalist—several years in the making--is a series of essays to be savored slowly.  At midlife, with the mortgage paid, she has found her place of belonging and healing on a 120-acre ranch in the Colorado Rockies with her beloved animals.  Pam Houston’s voice is honest and hopeful.  Her beautiful writing celebrates nature, the earth and its survival, and her hard-won place in this world .  A thought-provoking read for adults with a passion for natural history.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Anneliese recommends "The Storyteller's Secret"





A captivating story that takes place in the past and present, Badani will have you enamored in her tale of Jaya, a woman who travels to her mother's hometown in India to escape her feelings dealing with her failing marriage and multiple miscarriages.  While there, Jaya and readers will travel back in time to also learn the story of Jaya's grandmother, and the secrets that have been long hidden as to why Jaya's mother left India, never to return.  This book  is full of Indian culture, history of the British occupation in India, heartbreak, love, family, and perseverance, and will have you so enthralled that you will NOT be able to put it down.



Recommended for adults.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Ellen recommends "The Feather Thief"



If you like to fish, you’ll be captivated by the story in The Feather Thief.  It’s peak into the obscure world of fly-tying and the obsessive quest for the perfect feathers to make the perfect fly.  In a truly bizarre crime, a branch of the British Museum of Natural History is broken into and hundreds of dead birds are stolen.  But these aren’t just any birds, they are exotic tropical birds, prized for their magnificent and colorful feathers, collected over 150 years ago.  Follow the hunt, arrest, trial and outcome of this most unusual true-crime story.  Recommended for Adults.


Thursday, July 11, 2019

Celia recommends "Southern Lady Code"


“A fiercely funny collection of essays on marriage and manners, thank you notes and three-ways, ghosts, gunshots, gynecology, and the Calgon-scented, onion-dipped, monogrammed art of living as a Southern Lady" -- Provided by publisher.

A fun, charming, absurdly hilarious collection of essays from a writer who is quickly becoming one of my favorites, Helen Ellis. I picked this book up after listening to the audio of her short story collection American Housewife, which I also highly recommend. The essays are honest, surprising, and put a humorous spin on everyday life. Not only that, this book will have you talking in Southern Lady Code anytime you need to saying something not-so-nice in a nice way.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Meghan recommends "The Whisper Network"



Whisper Network by Chandler Baker is our new Book of the Month!

"Sloane, Ardie, Grace, and Rosalita have worked at Truviv, Inc. for years. The sudden death of Truviv's CEO means their boss, Ames, will likely take over the entire company. Each of the women has a different relationship with Ames, who has always been surrounded by whispers about how he treats women. This time, when they find out Ames is making an inappropriate move on a colleague, they've decided enough is enough.” (From the publisher.)

From the outset of Whisper Network, readers know that someone has died. The story unfolds as the women take turns narrating in the lead up to the death and beyond, interspersed with interviews and depositions conducted after the fact. A sort of Greek chorus highlighting the conflicting messages given to women in the workforce also takes a role. The story excels in its depiction of the strength of female friendships, despite the personal and philosophical conflicts they sometimes have with each other.  As they work together to take Ames down, readers and characters alike question - are they out for revenge or are they just trying do the right thing?  


This book is recommended for Adults and possibly older Teens.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Natalie recommends "Batman Arkham: Ra's al Ghul"

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I am a fan of this particular character in the Batman lore, and will pick up what I can when I am in the mood.  A character who learned a secret to immortality and has an intellect and fighting skills that can match the Caped Crusaders.  This is the most recent item that features this character.  And while this doesn't include anything new (as it gathers a collection his appearances since his introduction in 1971), it is still very enjoyable.  My favorite stories in here are Daughter of the Demon, the Lazarus Pit, and Resurrection Shuffle.  


"Daughter of the Demon" introduces Ra's al Ghul and reveals that he is the father of Talia, Batman's "first" love interest outside of Catwoman and later the mother of their child and current Robin, Damian.  Ra's comes to Batman hoping that he can help rescue his daughter, who has been abducted on the same night and by the same person who abducted Robin (Dick Grayson).  It is later revealed that Ra's set this all up to see if Batman is worthy to not only wed his daughter, but be his heir.  He's also one of the few people outside of Batman's rather large family to know that Batman is Bruce Wayne, as seen in this issue.



"The Lazarus Pit" introduces the Lazarus Pit, a pool that is known to heal the injured and bring back the dead.  This would be a tool that Ra's would be known for using to essentially escape death, which he does in this issue.  He's the only to use it, with him only letting Nyssa his other daughter using it once and Talia using it to restore Jason Todd (the second Robin who was killed in the Death in the Family arc) behind her fathers back.



"Resurrection Shuffle" was one of the first issues in the Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul arc, in which an aging Ra's is losing time and needs to transfer his soul to a new body.  This would come to include Damian Wayne, Tim Drake (the third Robin, who he would later bribe with the Laarus Pit to revive his father, girlfriend, and best friend), the later two of which would actually be alive), and Ra's' father.  The Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul is one of my favorite Ra's stories, so it was nice to see this included.



Batman Arkham: Ra's al Ghul is a good read with some of the needed stories you'd need to see who this character is, and I would recommend it.  It is an Adult Graphic Novel, but it could be something Young Adults could read too.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

The Kelloggs: the battling brothers of Battle Creek

 

 

 

Our July book for Let’s Get Real!  is The Kelloggs: the battling brothers of Battle Creek by Howard Markel

 

Pick up a copy and join us for an interesting discussion on Monday, July 22 at 6:30pm at the Main Library.

 

 

Friday, June 14, 2019

Natalie recommends "Return of the Wolf: Conflict and Coexistence"

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Return of the Wolf: Conflict and Coexistence is a nonfiction adult book looking into the lives of wolves. Their history, their unfortunate reputation for being bad/evil,  what they symbolize in some cultures, misconceptions and their future.  It talks about diets, breeding habits, and the coexistent relationship that wolves and ravens have when it comes to hunting and eating.  It even has a section talking about coywolves (wolf and coyote hybrids) and wolf-dogs (the half wolf, half domesticated dog breed).  The author shares what they've learned and it's really interesting.



It's a fascinating read and helps give an understanding to one of the most misunderstood Apex predators.​  And if you're looking for something kind of different, or a good nonfiction book, I would recommend this.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Sarah recommends “Where the Crawdads Sing”


The Books on Tap Book Club's June pick was "Where the Crawdads Sing" by Delia Owens.

Summary from the publisher:
For years, rumors of the "Marsh Girl" have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. She's barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark. But Kya is not what they say. Abandoned at age ten, she has survived on her own in the marsh that she calls home. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life lessons from the land, learning the real ways of the world from the false signals of fireflies. But while she could have lived in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world—until the unthinkable happens.

Part mystery, part coming-of-age story, "Where the Crawdads Sing" is a beautifully written debut novel from an acclaimed nature writer. All 10 members of the book club really liked this book, particularly the lyrical descriptions of the natural world, and we all were moved by the heartbreaking story of the sensitive yet resilient Kya.

If you're interested in joining a casual book club for adults that discusses new and popular fiction, please join us at our next Books on Tap meeting on July 8, 2019, 6pm, at Bar Louie Partridge Creek. We'll be discussing "My Sister the Serial Killer" by Oyinkan Braithwaite.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Kathy recommends "Nickel and Dimed: on (not) getting by in America


First published in 2001, Nickel and Dimed describes the author’s attempt to subsist on a variety of minimum wage jobs over the course of two years in three different cities. She worked as a waitress, hotel maid, house cleaner, nursing-home aide and Wal-Mart associate. The author vividly describes each work experience and what she endured in humorous and thoughtful prose. Most of the time her earnings barely covered her expenses unless she worked two jobs seven days a week. Ehrenreich says that the experience changed her forever. She writes that the hardest thing to accept is the “invisibility of the poor.” We see them every day but don’t recognize them as poor because after all, they work. This is a quick, entertaining and thought provoking read. My eyes were opened many times, especially at her description of working for a franchise cleaning company. Comparisons to today’s wage earners are eerily similar and inevitable.

As it so happens, this title is our selection for the next “Let’s Get Real” nonfiction book discussion on June 24th at 6:30. Pick up your copy at any one of our branches and please join us for some lively conversation at the Main library.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Margaret recommends "The Gown"


This historical fiction novel takes place during then Princess Elizabeth’s (now Queen Elizabeth) wedding preparations. It highlights the often overlooked seamstresses and embroiderers that worked diligently and passionately to complete the beautiful gown designed by Norman Hartnell and the secrets behind it. It is also a story of friendship of two women who survived WWII and the hope and healing from their work together to complete a historical gown. Jennifer Robson gives us a glimpse of the past and wonderfully weaves us into this story of friendships, the gown, and the royal family.  Recommended for Adults.





Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Janet recommends "The Revenge of Magic"


This exciting story is the first book in a new series from James Riley, the bestselling author of Story Thieves. Fort Fitzgerald and his father are visiting the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., when giant magical creatures erupt from the earth. The creatures destroy the Memorial and the Washington monument. Fort’s father is lost when he is grabbed by one of the creatures and pulled underground. Six months later Fort is invited to attend the Oppenheimer School, a secret government school formed to teach magic spells. Students at the Oppenheimer school were born on the date several books of magic spells were discovered. Humans born before “Discovery Day” do not have the power to learn the magic. Fort discovers that the school has many dark secrets and that the students may be the only ones who can save Earth from the monsters. Fort is angry and wants revenge against the creature who took his father. He works hard at learning magic spells. Strange things start happening at the school and many there think Fort is to blame. Fans of Rick Riordan and magical fantasy will enjoy the adventure, humor and magical mayhem of the story and will eagerly look forward to the next installment in the series. Ages 8-12.

Kate recommends "Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love"

Inheritance : a memoir of genealogy, paternity, and love



Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love is Dani Shapiro's story of discovering that her father was not her biological relative. It starts with a casual DNA test on Ancestry.com and leads to a long journey through her family's past and the secrets they carried. As readers we come along for every new discovery, and ride the waves of grief with her as she accepts what she doesn't want to be true. Her parents have long since passed on, so she must do some detective work to get to the bottom of the story.  She also struggles with holding onto her upbringing while learning as much as she can about her biological father.   This is a memoir about her sense of identity being upended, and how she moves forward with a new sense of herself.


Recommended for Adults

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Popular Materials Book of the Month


We in the Popular Materials Department would like to recommend our new book of the month pick – How Not to Die Alone by Richard Roper.

A darkly funny and life-affirming debut novel for readers of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine the story of one man who is offered a second chance at life and love when he develops an unexpected friendship--if he can expose the white lie he told years ago that grew into so much more.

Andrew's day-to-day is a little grim, searching for next of kin for those who die alone. Thankfully, he has a loving family waiting for him when he gets home, to help wash the day's cares away. At least, that's what his coworkers believe.

Andrew didn't mean for the misunderstanding to happen, yet he's become trapped in his own white lie. The fantasy of his wife and two kids has become a pleasant escape from his lonely one bedroom with only his Ella Fitzgerald records for company. But when new employee Peggy breezes into his life like a breath of fresh air, Andrew is shaken out of his routine. She doesn't notice the wall he's been safely hiding behind and their friendship promises to break it down.

Andrew must choose: Does he tell the truth and start really living his life, but risk losing his friendship with Peggy? Or will he stay safe and alone, behind the fa├žade? How Not to Die Alone is about the importance of taking a chance in those moments when we have the most to lose. Sharp and funny, warm and real, it's the kind of big-hearted story we all need.

“Roper’s delightful debut is as funny as it is touching. . . . This story of a neurotic, tenderhearted man struggling to learn how not to be alone is irresistible.”
Publishers Weekly

“Quirky and heartfelt . . . . Andrew's past traumas are revealed gradually, and the reasons behind his isolation are heartbreaking and poignant. A moving and funny look at grief, hope, and the power of human connections.”
Kirkus Reviews

"Richard Roper uplifts the human spirit and shows us how to embrace life and hope in his wickedly witty debut.”
—Phaedra Patrick, author of The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

“A lively blend of humor and earnest emotion. . . . As Andrew slowly comes to grips with being his true self, without pretense, readers will root for him to find liberation and love. A wry, humorous story.” 
Shelf Awareness

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Natalie recommends Batman: the Court of Owls

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This is based off of the first arc of the New 52's Batman run, of the same name.  However, that's where the similarities end, since this has it's own story that takes place after the events of the comics.  The villains are already established.



What you will need to know about the kind of villains that Batman is facing off against (in the event you are not familiar with this particular arc) is that they are an age old organization called the Court of Owls.  They are an organization made up of aristocrats, known as the parliament, who's plan is to have control and power from the shadows.  They were once considered to be a myth.  A grim nursery rhyme in fact.  That was until they made themselves know to Bruce Wayne and by extent Batman and the Robins (current and former), Batgirl, and some associates/friends of them.  The Court of Owls has a group of assassins under their control, known as Talons, who are essentially immortal (with s and are the ones that do the Parliament's bidding.  which includes "silencing" people who they no longer have use for or wish to dispose of.  It's also worth noting that one of these Talons is the great-grandfather of Dick Grayson ,the original Robin and the original (and current) Nightwing, and it was intended that he would be come one as well.  Had his parents not been murdered and Dick being placed in Bruce's care that is.



This book starts off with the brutal murder of a college professor and the theft of some files on his students.  As Batman begins to investigate, he finds that one student, Joanna Lee, has apparently gone missing.  Bruce knew her since he was a sponsor her for college after saving her one night that ended in the death of her parents.  And on top of that, the same Talon behind the murder of the professor attempted to abduct her roommate Claire Nesko in order to get some information.  As Batman continues to investigate Joanna's disappearance, and why the Court of Owls is so interested in her, as well as what caused the victim's to spontaneously combust, he does decided to do some investigating on Percy Wright (who Joanna was doing her project on) and how he ties into it.  We also get a few chapters that give a glimpse into the Percy's past and how his work relates to the present day (in the book).



The Court of Owls arc was one of my favorite arcs set during DC's New 52 run, mostly for the characters, the history of this organization, and how it affected the Caped Crusader and his extended family. But even if it wasn't, I would still think this is a good book.  It had a well written story and the mystery mixed with the included history/flashbacks I found really interesting.  It also had good action in it and the characters were well written.  


This is a book meant for a more Adult audiences given it's content, but could also be read by older teens. 

Monday, May 13, 2019

Ellen Recommends "A Mind Unraveled"



Husband, father, journalist, author, epileptic.  Kurt Eichenwald’s epileptic seizures started freshman year in college and he fought unbelievable obstacles to find the proper treatment and complete his education.  Some of the things that happened to him were of the ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ type, too bizarre to be believed.  Throughout his career he fought to overcome the stigma and handicaps associated with epilepsy and persevered to have as normal of a life as possible.  Because he knew his memory was not reliable, he kept diaries and tape recordings.  This gives validity to his recall of events in the distant past and helped him in his fights for justice.  If it hasn’t affected you personally, it makes you realize how important health insurance (with pre-existing conditions) and the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) are.  Everyone deserves an equal chance.  This should be recommended reading for all adults & teens.



Saturday, May 11, 2019

Meghan Recommends Hallmark Audiobooks

If you love a feel-good story, you’ll love Hallmark Audiobooks!

These new audiobooks are adapted from Hallmark movie storylines, capturing  “the timelessness and emotion of a Hallmark story in audiobook form,” according to the publisher. Three titles have already arrived at the library: “The Secret Ingredient,” by Nancy Naigle, “A Dash of Love” by Liz Issacson, and “Moonlight in Vermont” by Kacy Cross. Additional titles will arrive throughout the summer. See the list of all these stories, and check out a happily-ever-after!


Miss Lynn recommends "A Story About Cancer With a Happy Ending"


As the mom of a teenager with cancer, this YA graphic novel really hit home for me.  It is a short but very realistic read that made me cry but left me with hope.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Michelle recommends "The Overdue Life of Amy Byler"


From the publisher: Overworked and underappreciated, single mom Amy Byler needs a break. So when the guilt-ridden husband who abandoned her shows up and offers to take care of their kids for the summer, she accepts his offer and escapes rural Pennsylvania for New York City. Usually grounded and mild mannered, Amy finally lets her hair down in the city that never sleeps. She discovers a life filled with culture, sophistication, and—with a little encouragement from her friends—a few blind dates. When one man in particular makes quick work of Amy’s heart, she risks losing herself completely in the unexpected escape, and as the summer comes to an end, Amy realizes too late that she must make an impossible decision: stay in this exciting new chapter of her life, or return to the life she left behind. But before she can choose, a crisis forces the two worlds together, and Amy must stare down a future where she could lose both sides of herself, and every dream she’s ever nurtured, in the beat of a heart.



It felt like I started my summer reading a bit early this year. Light weekend read, women’s fiction with just the right combination of humor and thought-provoking situations.  I found Amy Byler to be completely relatable. I know it is completely unrealistic to walk out of my real world for a summer in the city, but this story gave me pause to imagine. Kids schedules, encouraging their passions or just trying to be everything for them takes a ton of energy and this mom had an opportunity to take a break; so it was fun to read along on the adventure. Also, she is a librarian so I might have related to her professional field, too.

Recommended for Adults

Monday, April 22, 2019

Sarah recommends “Nine Perfect Strangers”


The Books on Tap book club's April pick was "Nine Perfect Strangers" by Liane Moriarty.

When nine perfect strangers arrive at a health resort looking to reinvigorate and overhaul their lives, they have no idea just how much hard work they are in for. Frances Welty, a formerly best-selling romantic novelist, happens to be one of those nine. Frances thinks she is at Tranquillum House to recuperate from a bad back and a broken heart, but as she grows more and more intrigued by her fellow guests and the mysterious and charismatic resort owner, she begins to realize that maybe the solutions she was seeking are not actually the answers she needs.

Liane Moriarty, best-known for "Big Little Lies," writes page-turning thrillers with complex and relatable characters. This, her latest novel, was no exception. I listened to the audiobook, read by Australian narrator Caroline Lee, and she did an amazing job giving each character a distinct voice.

I really enjoyed "Nine Perfect Strangers," and most of the book group did too.

If you're interested in joining a casual book club for adults that discusses new and popular fiction, please join us at our next Books on Tap meeting on May 13, 2019, at Bar Louie Partridge Creek. We'll be discussing "The Island of Sea Women" by Lisa See (which was the Popular Materials Book of the Month for March).

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Popular Materials April Book of the Month


Our April Book of the Month pick is Miracle Creek by Angie Kim!

In the small town of Miracle Creek, Virginia, Young and Pak Yoo run an experimental medical treatment device known as the Miracle Submarine—a pressurized oxygen chamber that patients enter for therapeutic “dives” with the hopes of curing issues like autism or infertility. But when the Miracle Submarine mysteriously explodes, killing two people, a dramatic murder trial upends the Yoos’ small community.

Who or what caused the explosion? Was it the mother of one of the patients, who claimed to be sick that day but was smoking down by the creek? Or was it Young and Pak themselves, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? The ensuing trial uncovers unimaginable secrets from that night—trysts in the woods, mysterious notes, child-abuse charges—as well as tense rivalries and alliances among a group of people driven to extraordinary degrees of desperation and sacrifice.

Angie Kim’s Miracle Creek is a thoroughly contemporary take on the courtroom drama, drawing on the author’s own life as a Korean immigrant, former trial lawyer, and mother of a real-life “submarine” patient. An addictive debut novel for fans of Liane Moriarty and Celeste Ng, Miracle Creek is both a twisty page-turner and a deeply moving story about the way inconsequential lies and secrets can add up—with tragic consequences.

“With so many complications and loose ends, one of the miracles of the novel is that the author ties it all together and arrives at a deeply satisfying―though not easy or sentimental―ending. Intricate plotting and courtroom theatrics, combined with moving insight into parenting special needs children and the psychology of immigrants, make this book both a learning experience and a page-turner. Should be huge.” ―Kirkus (starred review)

“This stunning debut by Angie Kim is both an utterly engrossing, nail-biter of a courtroom drama and a sensitive, incisive look into the experiences of immigrant families in America.” ―Nylon

“A stand-out, twisty debut . . . Kim, a former lawyer, clearly knows her stuff . . . a masterfully plotted novel about the joys and pains of motherhood, the trick mirror nature of truth, and the unforgiving nature of justice.” ―Publishers Weekly

“[A] masterpiece of grief, hope, and recrimination . . . A complex novel of parenting, prejudice, and putting blame where blame’s due, this one is not to be missed.” ―Crime Reads

Monday, April 15, 2019

Miss Lynn recommends "Piecing Me Together"


Piecing Me Together” is a young adult novel by Renee Watson.  It’s a moving story that deals with race and privilege, and how attempts at “helping” without thought or reflection can have the opposite effect. Throughout the story, the main character, Jade, finds her voice and becomes the advocate she needs.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Phil recommends "The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick"


Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, The Wolf Man, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon were all famous Universal Classic Monsters in the Golden Age of Hollywood.  However, there was something unique about the Gill Man, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, a secret that had been kept for decades – he was created by a woman.  In an industry dominated by men and rife with sexism (in the 1950s and even today) Milicent Patrick quietly made her statement by creating one of the most beloved creatures in horror film history - while her male boss stole all of the credit. 

Author, screenwriter, and film producer Mallory O’Meara embarks on a quest to set the record straight and to find out all she can about this little known animator and pioneer of special effects design.  O’Meara’s quest takes her from Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California to the hallowed halls of the Walt Disney Archives as she pieces together the life of an unsung Hollywood hero. 

I still remember seeing “The Creature from the Black Lagoon” in 3D with my parents at the Detroit Institute of Arts and again on the Svengoolie show while I lived in Chicago.  It is a nearly flawless classic horror movie and I enjoyed learning about this little known piece of movie history.


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Celia recommends "The Island of Sea Women"


Have you checked out our March Book of the Month, The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See?

Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls living on the Korean island of Jeju, are best friends that come from very different backgrounds. When they are old enough, they begin working in the sea with their village's all-female diving collective, led by Young-sook's mother. As the girls take up their positions as baby divers, they know they are beginning a life of excitement and responsibility but also danger.

Despite their love for each other, Mi-ja and Young-sook's differences are impossible to ignore. The Island of Sea Women is an epoch set over many decades, beginning during a period of Japanese colonialism in the 1930's and 1940's, followed by World War II, the Korean War and its aftermath, through the era of cell phones and wet suits for the women divers. Throughout this time, the residents of Jeju find themselves caught between warring empires. Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator, and she will forever be marked by this association. Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mother's position leading the divers in their village. Little do the two friends know that after surviving hundreds of dives and developing the closest of bonds, forces outside their control will push their friendship to the breaking point.

This beautiful, thoughtful novel illuminates a world turned upside down, one where the women are in charge, engaging in dangerous physical work, and the men take care of the children. A classic Lisa See story--one of women's friendships and the larger forces that shape them--The Island of Sea Women introduces readers to the fierce and unforgettable female divers of Jeju Island and the dramatic history that shaped their lives.

“Superbly written, this fast-paced read not only encourages readers to reflect on the notion of friendship and family, it also educates on the complex history of the region.” – Library Journal

“ Exposing the depths of human cruelty and resilience, See’s lush tale is a wonderful ode to a truly singular group of women.” – Publisher’s Weekly

“A stupendous multigenerational family saga, See’s latest also provides an enthralling cultural anthropology highlighting the soon-to-be-lost, matriarchal haenyeo phenomenon and an engrossing history of violently tumultuous twentieth-century Korea. A mesmerizing achievement. See’s accomplishment, acclaim, and readership continue to rise with each book, and interest in this stellar novel will be well stoked.” – Booklist


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Sarah recommends "The Music Shop"


The Books on Tap book club’s March pick was “The Music Shop” by Rachel Joyce. All of our members enjoyed this novel about music, love, loss, and second chances.

Set in 1988 in Great Britain, “The Music Shop” is the story of a man named Frank, who runs a small music shop that sells only vinyl, and who has an uncanny ability to connect his customers to the exact song they need but didn’t know they wanted. One day, a beautiful young woman, Ilse, arrives at Frank’s store, and asks him to teach her about music. Even as he is drawn to her, Frank is terrified of real intimacy; Ilse is hiding a mysterious agenda, and Frank has unhealed wounds from his past. How can a man so in tune with other people's needs be so incapable of connecting with the one person who might save him?

This book is ultimately about the power of music: to heal, to comfort, to bring joy. The reading experience is especially enhanced if you can simultaneously listen to the songs Frank recommends, and discover them along with the characters. The publisher has created a playlist on Spotify (the free music steaming service); just search for “The Music Shop” and choose the playlist created by “penguinbooks”.

If you’re interested in joining a casual book club for adults that discusses new and popular fiction, please join us at our next Books on Tap meeting on April 8, 2019, at Bar Louie Partridge Creek. We’ll be discussing “Nine Perfect Strangers” by Liane Moriarty.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Meghan Recommends "The Life Changing Manga of Tidying Up"




“The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo was published in Japan way back in 2011, and was published in the U.S. in 2014. While it certainly moment back then, the recently released Netflix series “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” has brought KonMari tidying back into pop culture.

Like everyone, I had heard “spark joy” but I figured there had to be more. Enter “The Life Changing MANGA of Tidying Up” – a 187-page illustrated story about Chiaki, and how her life is transformed through tidying! Chiaki is in pretty bad shape when we meet her, with an apartment full of stuff and garbage piled up on her balcony – a couple weeks’ worth. It’s so stinky that her cute neighbor comes over to ask her to take care of it. That’s the wake-up call Chiaki needs to take care of her messy apartment. She calls KonMari! Over the ensuing chapters, Chiaki tackles the daunting task of tidying her apartment, and by extension, her life.

At this point I feel like I should reiterate that this is a comic-book style story, and Chiaki is a made up character. Nevertheless, as Chiaki tackles her lessons each week, readers learn about different aspects of the KonMari method, and yes, there is more than just “Spark joy.” The book can easily be read in an afternoon, but it gave me a much better sense of the complete underlying philosophy of Kondo’s methods. I learned about tidying by category (not room) and that you should “wake up” your things when you pull them out of closets where they’ve been stored for years. 

So if you want to know a little more about tidying, but you don’t want to commit to 213 pages of nonfiction, this is a good start!

As an aside, “The Life Changing Manga of Tidying Up” was one of the Graphic Adaptations up for consideration in our CMPL Madness Graphic Novel Tournament! It didn't make it out of Round 1, but you can vote for your favorites in Round 2 now!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Natalie recommends "Game of Thrones"



While I may not be the first to recommend this series (be it the books and/or television series), I have finally managed to start it and can now safely recommend it.  I have been wanting to read this series for a while now, but time and motivation slipped.  But now that I have, I can say that I really enjoy the series.  As someone who enjoys Fantasy series like the Chronicles of Narnia and the Lord of the Rings (and all of Tolkien's Middle Earth related works for that matter), this was a series that I knew could peak my interests.



As a fantasy series, I really enjoyed it.  I enjoyed the detail that went into each character and their story, but still manages to tie back to them in one way or another.  Each chapter shuffled between a handful of characters which include Jon Snow, Arya Stark, Tyrion Lannister, and even Daenerys Targaryen and will focus on them and their surroundings.  It also has characters that you'd probably recognize if you've seen the show but haven't read the books (i.e. the Stark Family, Daenerys' brother, and Joffrey).



This is a book series for adults given some of the language used, violence, and some of the themes/topics brought up.  We have all five main series books and two spin off/prequel books.  If you have seen the series but haven't read the books, or are looking for a good read, I would recommend it.  And while I personally still have to read through the other books, I think it's really good so far.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Celia recommends "The Last of Sheila"


A year after Sheila is killed in a hit-and-run, her multi-millionaire husband invites a group of friends to spend a week on his yacht playing a scavenger hunt-style mystery game. The game turns out to be all too real and all too deadly.

A twisted, psychological thriller/who-done-it that, for the most part, holds up over time. Originally released in 1973, The Last of Sheila is well acted, well written, and uses it’s sets to full advantage. For fans of today’s horror/thriller movies, this one will probably seem too slow paced and dialogue heavy. For those who like to solve puzzles, though, the film will keep you on your toes right to the end. It reminded me of movies by Alfred Hitchcock, which isn’t surprising since Anthony Perkins of Psycho fame co-wrote it. It also reminded me of a creepier, less campy version of the movie Clue. Highly entertaining and enjoyable to watch.

Recommended for Adult.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Lisa recommends "The Animal Pokey"

This is a brand new board book that just came through and we immediately thought it would be a story time hit!  If you have a young child that loves either singing or animals, you will have a great time reading (or singing!) this book aloud as the animals take part in the Hokey Pokey.  The staff here have loved it so much that babies and toddlers who attend story time will soon see it in the regular rotation.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Connie recommends "Where the Crawdads Sing" by Delia Owens

Great story with a surprise twist.  I especially enjoyed listening to the audio version of this book as the narrator, Cassandra Campbell, does an excellent job representing the characters as Delia Owens portrays them.



From Goodreads.com:


For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.









Saturday, February 9, 2019

Staff recommends President's Day Reads

Celebrate President’s Day by finding out about the people who have held the Office of the President of the United States. From beginning readers to adult books, we have something for everyone! Check out our biography sections for books on your favorite president or treat yourself to some fun facts and anecdotes by checking out one of these titles:



Children