Second Summer Reading Gift Card Winner Announced

TrophyCongratulations to Laura J., a Columbia Public Library patron, for winning our second Adult Summer Reading prize drawing.  She is the recipient of a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card.

All it takes to be entered into our weekly drawings is to sign up for Adult Summer Reading. You can do this at any of our branch locations or Bookmobile stops or register online.  Also, don’t forget that submitting book reviews increases your chances of winning.  There are plenty of chances left to win this summer, so keep those reviews coming.

Reader Review: Trigger Warning

Book cover for Trigger WarningAs much as I adore Gaiman’s work, I just am not as thoroughly a fan of short stories (and generally even less of poetry). It feels like short fiction too often relies on cleverness as opposed to genuine moving prose to make its mark. With all that said, I still enjoyed reading these 300 pages. My favorite tale was definitely the aged Sherlock piece. I could happily read a novel in that world. In fact I could happily read a novel of just about any of these stories should they be expanded. And…I think I might like them more if they were allowed the room to breathe. The Doctor Who story was quirky and the Shadow tale was mildly gripping. I just inevitably find myself wanting more.

Three words that describe this book: fantastical, abbreviated, varied

You might want to pick this book up if: you’re a fan of Neil Gaiman. His style is distinct and is on full display here.

-Xander

Back Beat: Docs about Musicians in the Background

20 feet from stardomThere is always a story behind every piece of music. Sometimes those stories are featured prominently, but other quieter stories can exist behind the music as well. Check out these docs that focus on the musicians who’ve worked hard in the background with little recognition.

20 feet from stardom20 Feet From Stardom” (2013)

They are the voices behind the greatest rock, pop and R&B hits of all time, but no one knows their names. Now, in this award-winning documentary, director Morgan Neville shines the spotlight on the untold stories of such legendary background singers as Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer and more.

girls in the bandThe Girls in the Band” (2014)

This film tells the poignant, untold stories of female jazz and big band instrumentalists from the late 1930s to the present day. The challenges faced by these talented women provide a glimpse into decades of racism and sexism in America.
Continue reading »

Reader Review: Star Island

Editor’s note: The following review is by a library patron and contributed as part of this year’s Adult Summer Reading program. Want to submit reviews of your own? Sign up and get started today!

Book cover for Star Island by Carl HiaasenStar Island” is about the underbelly of showbiz, the paparazzo and big money land investments that contribute to destroying the natural environment of Florida, to speak in general terms. Hiaasen’s hero who appears in many of his books (Skink or Captain or former Governor of Florida – showing himself in his normal ragged, dirty trench coat, braided beard, bald head), tries to right the wrongs of society as well as continue with his mission of saving the Everglades and Florida’s natural habitat. The twisted, intriguing story is based around a young singer who can’t carry a tune and her exciting life as an addict in habitual need of upscale recovery centers. I liked the intricate weavings of the various characters’ lives and the extensive epilogue at the end.

Three words that describe this book: Celebrities, intricate, energy

You might want to pick this book up if: you enjoy a very good story, books about a chivalrous knight dressed up as a giant body guard with a weed whacker in place of one of his hands, and a swamp monster type homeless looking man. Carl Hiaasen, my current favorite author, weaves a really good, complicated, satirical story with amazing insight into the workings or the not-so-well workings of society, government and human nature, especially in Florida.

-Pam

(Anti)Superheroes

Book cover for The Dark Knight ReturnsThe superhero. The origin story, the nemesis, the team up, the world-saving, etc. Oh, and the reboot. Never forget the reboot. We’ve seen it before, and we’ll see it again. The superhero is an enduring trope that has permeated pop-culture. Inevitably, writers and artists started creating comics that critique, satirize and subvert the idea of the superhero. What might have started as efforts to tell a new story in a well-worn genre morphed into creative examinations of the concept of the superhero. Despite any high-minded genre dissections, the basic thrill of superhero stories is in these titles. These creators work in the genre because they ultimately love it, warts and all.

In 1986 two series premiered which are now touchstones for the re-imagining of the superhero story: Watchmen, and The Dark Knight Returns. The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller tells the story of a 55-year-old Bruce Wayne who must return from retirement (spoiler alert!) as Batman. Gotham has turned into a bit of a dystopian nightmare in the 10 years since Batman retired. Batman is not so nice and not very stable. His reemergence brings some of his arch rivals out of retirement as well, which adds to the chaos in Gotham. In addition to being a different take on an iconic character, “The Dark Knight Returns” satirizes the media and political atmosphere of the 1980s.

Cover for The Watchmen graphic novelWatchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons also offers a critique of the 1980s, specifically the Cold War hysteria of the time. It examines political themes buried in comics, such as the line between vigilantism and fascism, and what a government might really do with superpowered beings. Moore’s original idea started as a murder mystery involving characters from Charlton Comics, which DC Comics had just purchased. Although Moore was persuaded to create original characters for the story, it maintained it’s very meta take on comics, what Gibbons referred to as “a comic about comics.”
Continue reading »

Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The July 2015 List

Library Reads LogoCan we all just agree to take the month of July off to sit around in our hammocks sipping iced tea and reading until our eyeballs break? The LibraryReads list highlighting books publishing next month (and inspiring librarians across the country to entertain similar fantasies) includes not only the expected breezy romances but also a new historical fiction from Paula McClain (“The Paris Wife“) and a confident debut that will delight foodies with an appetite for character-driven novels. Bon appétit!

Book cover for Kitchens of the Great MidwestKitchens of the Great Midwest” by J. Ryan Stradal
“This novel is quirky and colorful. The story revolves around chef Eva Thorvald and the people who influence her life and her cooking. With well-drawn characters and mouthwatering descriptions of meals, ‘Kitchens of the Great Midwest’ will appeal to readers who like vivid storytelling. Foodies will also enjoy this delicious tale.” – Anbolyn Potter, Chandler Public Library, Chandler, AZ

Book cover for Circling the SunCircling the Sun” by Paula McLain
“I couldn’t stop reading this fascinating portrayal of Beryl Markham, a complex and strong-willed woman who fought to make her way in the world on her terms. McLain paints a captivating portrait of Africa in the 1920s and the life of expats making their home there. Highly, highly recommended.” – Halle Eisenman, Beaufort County Library, Hilton Head, SC
Continue reading »