Wednesday, July 31, 2013

George O'Connor's Olympians

Here at abcreads we can't get enough of Olympians, a graphic mythology series by George O'Connor, author of Uncle Bigfoot and illustrator of the Captain Awesome series.  The series is aimed at children aged 9-12 but the adults around here are enjoying them as well! Titles so far are: Zeus: King of the Gods; Athena: Grey-Eyed Goddess; Hera: The Goddess and Her Glory; Hades: Lord of the Dead; Poseidon: Earth Shaker; with Aphrodite: Goddess of Love coming out later this year.

Each book contains, besides a the story of the god delightfully rendered in comic format,  an Olympians Family Tree, Author's Notes, information about the god (Roman name, symbols, heavenly body, etc.), G[r]eek Notes, discussion questions, bibliography, and recommended reads for both older and younger readers.

Also check out the Olympians' official website, which offers activities and information for teachers!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

What to Read Now That You've Read Gone Girl

By now, seems like every mystery and thriller lover in the United States has read Gone Girl (or least, all the ones in our library system).  What to read next?  What's this summer's Gone Girl? These are the kinds of questions librarians get every day.  Here's one way to answer them...

 NoveList Plus describes the novel as

Most readalike lists that you'll find will build off of genre or tone, giving you a list of books that are also "psychological suspense".  Others will take elements of the plot such as "unreliable narrator" or major themes of the story to create a list of similar books.  It all depends on the kind of novel you enjoy!

You can also try readalikes by author.  NoveList also recommends, in its "You Might Also Like These..." feature in the Gone Girl library catalog record (scroll down to the bottom of the page), authors such as Tana French ("both French and Flynn write dark, literary suspense stories...[with] extremely flawed narrators..."), Erin Kelly ("keen insight into troubled characters"), Minette Walters ("Disturbing, Suspenseful, and Compelling"), and Michael Robotham ("Disturbing, Suspenseful, and Character-driven").

Here is a list of some likely contenders for a place on any mystery-lover's bookshelf, but particularly if you enjoyed Gone Girl:

Missing persons

Never Look Away by Linwood Barclay
He's Gone by Deb Caletti
Visitation Street by Ivy Pochoda

Family secrets

The Dinner by Herman Koch
Defending Jacob by William Landay
The Drowning House by Elizabeth Black
Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
The Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth L. Silver


Heartbroken by Lisa Unger
Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton
Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
The Never List by Koethi Zan

Psychological thrillers

Drowned by Therese Bohman
Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach
The Vanishers by Heifi Julavits

Most titles were suggested by a magazine insert created by Check Me Out.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Spotlight on Women's Fiction

Do you just want to read a good book about women's lives, written by a woman? You may be looking for "women's fiction", not in itself a genre but a recognized subsection of fiction which includes novels that may have romantic, suspense, or literary themes. Rebecca Vnuk, author of Women's Fiction Authors: A Research Guide, defines women's fiction thusly:

...these are novels that explore the lives of female protagonists, focusing on all kinds of relationships, be it lovers, spouses, parents, children, friends, or members of a community. The common thread is that the central character is female, and the main thrust of the story is something happening in the life of that woman (as opposed to the overall theme being a romance or a mystery of some sort). Emotions and relationships are the common thread between books that belong in this category. A woman is the star of the story, and her emotional development drives the plot.

It still can be a bit of a nebulous description of a polarizing concept, Vnuk admits, but she argues that if the main character being a woman is essential to the plot, if there are romantic elements but there is "more to the story", if it is written by a woman (Nicholas Sparks, Nicholas Evans, and Chris Bohjalian are authors she notes have written books with female protagonists, but "their stories identify much more with romance, gentle reads, or literary fiction"), and if you are reading the novel not for its use of language but for its woman-centric plot, you are probably reading women's fiction. True women's fiction, Vnuk asserts, are "books that get into a female character’s head and heart".

Where do you weigh in on the question of "women's fiction"? If you are a devotee, we have a list of some recommended reads for you below.  If you are not a fan of the "women's fiction" classification, let us know why in the comments!

The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna van Praag

The Best of Us by Sarah Pekkanen

And Then I Found You by Patti Callahan Henry

The Memory of Love by Linda Olsson

As Husbands Go by Susan Isaacs

A Killer Stitch by Maggie Sefton

Murder 101 by Maggie Barbieri

The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes

Size 12 and Ready to Rock by Meg Cabot

Arranged by Catherine McKenzie [eBook]

The Girl on the Cliff by Lucinda Riley

The Lucky Dog Matchmaking Service by Beth Kendrick

So Far Away by Meg Mitchell Moore

You Are the Love of My Life by Susan Richards Shreve

10 authors all women's fiction fans should know: Elizabeth Berg; Barbara Taylor Bradford; Barbara Delinsky; Emily Giffin; Jane Green; Kristin Hannah; Jodi Picoult; Luanne Rice; Danielle Steel; and Jennifer Weiner.

Lists compiled with help from articles in Booklist magazine, including:

"Top 10 Women's Fiction: 2013"

"Rebecca's Rules: Defining Women's Fiction"

"No Clue Where to Shelve These: 6 Women's Fiction Novels That Think They're Mysteries"

Monday, July 22, 2013

New & Noteworthy Graphic Novels for Grownups

Summer rolls around, and it's time for our semi-annual new & noteworthy graphic novel roundup! Here at abcreads we love to read graphic novels and comics, from Asterix & Tintin to graphic biographies to X-Men, and everything in-between. This year we're featuring a couple graphic memoirs (including one with recipes!), the latest entries in some series, the newest by Love & Rockets co-collaborator Gilbert Hernandez, even a graphic retelling of the U.S. constitution and a comic parody of Downton Abbey.

Our question this year for fans of this format: do you prefer to call them graphic novels or comics? The website wiseGEEK differentiates between comic books and graphic novels, primarily due to "completeness" and "length".  Author Chris Ware has also weighed in on the topic for Wisconsin Public Radio. What's your take?

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

Calling Dr. Laura: A Graphic Memoir by Nicole J. Georges

Julio's Day by Gilbert Hernandez

Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes written & illustrated by Matt Kindt

Heck by Zander Cannon

Genius by Steven Seagle

The Unwritten: Vol. 7, The Wound by Mike Carey, Peter Gross

An Enchantment: The Louvre Collection by Christian Durieux

The United States Constitution written by Thomas Jefferson ... [et al.] ; adapted by Nadja Baer

Everything Together: Collected Stories by Sammy Harkham

Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré

Hitman: For Tomorrow by Garth Ennis, et al.

A Bride's Story 4 by Kaoru Mori

Invincible: Vol. 17, What's Happening by Robert Kirkman, et al.

Mumbai New York Scranton by Tamara Shopsin

A Chinese Life by Philippe Ôtié and Li Kunwu

Agent Gates and the Secret Adventures of Devonton Abbey: (A Parody) by Camaren Subhiyah

The Massive: Volume 1, Black Pacific by Brian Wood, et al.

Friday, July 19, 2013

What to Read While You're Waiting for the Royal Baby to Make an Appearance

Some of us have a fascination, perhaps unhealthy, with the monarchy.  My mom and I got up at 5 a.m. in the 1980s to watch Diana & Charles, & then Andrew & Fergie, get married; we spent part of our vacation in 1997 watching Diana's funeral on TV.  I watched William & Kate get married in 2011 while wearing a fascinator and drinking tea.  So, as you might imagine, I am currently in royal baby mode, anxiously awaiting the arrival of William and Kate's bundle of joy.

However, as of this writing, Kate has settled into her family's house in Bucklebury (doesn't it sound like a town in Tolkien's Shire?) & the world's press, camped outside St Mary's Hospital in London, is just waiting to announce something.  I, of course, am checking the news at least twice a day (at a conservative estimate) to see if the momentous wheels of the royal birth have started turning.  (Seriously!  There's a whole procedure!)

In the meantime, if you are also impatiently waiting for the birth of the royal heir, maybe you'd like to check out some royal reads to distract you.

William and Kate: The Love Story by Christopher Andersen

Prince William: The Man Who Will Be King by Penny Junor

Camilla and Charles: The Love Story by Caroline Graham

After Diana: William, Harry, Charles, and the Royal House of Windsor by Christopher Andersen

A Dress for Diana by David Emanuel & Elizabeth Emanuel

The Real Elizabeth: An Intimate Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Andrew Marr

Bright Young Royals: Your Guide to the Next Generation of Blue Bloods by Jerramy Fine [eBook]

What Would Grace Do?: How to Live Life in Style Like the Princess of Hollywood by Gina McKinnon

That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor by Anne Sebba

Wait For Me!: Memoirs by Deborah Mitford [Dowager Duchess of Devonshire]

Shooting Victoria: Madness, Mayhem, and the Rebirth of the British Monarchy by Paul Thomas Murphy

Serving Victoria: Life in the Royal Household by Kate Hubbard

Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt: The Story of a Daughter and a Mother in the Gilded Age by Amanda Mackenzie Stuart

From Splendor to Revolution: The Romanov Women, 1847-1928 by Julia P. Gelardi

The Kings' Mistresses: The Liberated Lives of Marie Mancini, Princess Colonna, and Her Sister Hortense, Duchess Mazarin by Elizabeth C. Goldsmith

The Women of the Cousins' War: The Duchess, the Queen, and the King's Mother by Philippa Gregory, David Baldwin, Michael Jones

Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses by Sarah Gristwood

Queen of the Conqueror: the Life of Matilda, Wife of William I by Tracy Borman

The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England by Dan Jones

If you are crafty, you can while away some time with these:

Knit Your Own Royal Wedding by Fiona Goble

Knit Your Own Dog: Easy-to-Follow Patterns for 25 Pedigree Pooches by Sally Muir & Joanna Osborne (knit a corgi for the royal baby!)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

New Books for Vegans, Vegetarians, Gardeners, & Other Vegetable Enthusiasts

It's summertime and the garden (and the local farmers' markets) are in full swing!  What are you going to do with all that produce?  Whether you are looking for new vegetable recipes, or thinking about joining Mark Bittman's "vegan before 6" movement, the library catalog has a cookbook for vegetable enjoyment in all their ripe and colorful permutations.

Plum: Gratifying Vegan Dishes from Seattle's Plum Bistro by Mikini Howell

River Cottage Veg: 200 Inspired Vegetable Recipes by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Vegan Eats World: 250 International Recipes for Savoring the Planet by Terry Hope Romero

Betty Goes Vegan: 500 Classic Recipes for the Modern Family by Annie & Dan Shannon

Vegetable Bliss: Simple Seed-to-Table Inspiration by Julie Sochacki [eBook]

Pure Vegan: 70 Recipes for Beautiful Meals and Clean Living by Joseph Shuldiner

Meatless: More Than 200 of the Very Best Vegetarian Recipes from the kitchens of Martha Stewart Living

Vegetarian Everyday: Healthy Recipes from Our Green Kitchen by David Frenkiel & Luise Vindahl

Food by Mary McCartney

Raw & Simple: Eat Well and Live Radiantly with 100 Truly Quick and Easy Recipes for the Raw Food Lifestyle by Judita Wignall

The Four Season Farm Gardener's Cookbook by Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman

Green Smoothie Joy: Recipes for Living, Loving, and Juicing Green by Cressida Elias [eBook]

The Speedy Vegetable Garden by Mark Diacono and Lia Leendertz

Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom, with Over 300 Deliciously Simple Recipes by Deborah Madison

50 Best Plants on the Planet: The Most Nutrient-Dense Fruits and Vegetables, in 150 Recipes by Cathy Thomas, Cheryl Forberg

The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook: 100 Down-Home Recipes for the Modern Table by Justin Fox Burks & Amy Lawrence

Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Are You an Enthusiastic or Reluctant Carnivore?

It's summertime, and 'tis the season for cooking outdoors on the grill. Invitations to barbecues abound. Some people are happy to settle down with their steaks and burgers, and some people are not so gung-ho - perhaps, like food columnist Mark Bittman, some might be following their version of the "vegan before 6 p.m." philosophy for health reasons. (Some people are vegetarians or full-time vegans, but that's the stuff of a different blog post.)  Here at abcreads, we like to think that there's a book out there for you, no matter what your diet - why not take a gander at some of the options out there for carnivores?

For enthusiastic carnivores

Michael Symon's Carnivore by Michael Symon

Meat Eater: Adventures from the Life of an American Hunter by Steven Rinella

Pure Beef: An Essential Guide to Artisan Meat with Recipes for Every Cut by Lynne Curry

The Great Meat Cookbook by Bruce Aidells with Anne-marie Ramo

Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle by Diane Sanfilippo

Odd Bits: How to Cook the Rest of the Animal by Jennifer McLagan [eBook]

The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating by Fergus Henderson

For reluctant carnivores

Vegan Cooking for Carnivores: Over 125 Recipes So Tasty You Won't Miss the Meat by Roberto Martin

The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes Carnivores Will Devour by Kim O'Donnel [eBook]

The Mindful Carnivore: A Vegetarian's Hunt for Sustenance by Tovar Cerulli

The Compassionate Carnivore: Or, How to Keep Animals Happy, Save Old Macdonald's Farm, Reduce Your Hoofprint, and Still Eat Meat by Catherine Friend

VB6 by Mark Bittman

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Featured Author: Greg Rucka

Greg Rucka was born in San Francisco and raised on the Central Coast of California, in what is commonly referred to as ‘Steinbeck Country.’ He began his writing career in earnest at the age of 10 by winning a county-wide short-story contest, and hasn’t let up since...  He is the author of nearly a dozen novels, six featuring bodyguard Atticus Kodiak, and two featuring Tara Chace, the protagonist of his Queen & Country series. Additionally, he has penned several short-stories, countless comics, and the occasional non-fiction essay. In comics, he has had the opportunity to write stories featuring some of the world’s best-known characters—Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman—as well as penning several creator-owned properties himself, such as Whiteout and Queen & Country, both published by Oni Press.
~from the author's website

Recently at the Albuquerque Comic Expo (ACE), one of abcreads' intrepid readers picked up Greg Rucka's Queen & Country graphic novel, hitherto unknown to her. A graphic novel set in the fictional world of British espionage and featuring a female protagonist?  Yes please!  Imagine our reader's surprise and delight to find many more books by Rucka in the library catalog, including novelizations of Queen & Country, and a movie based on another one of his graphic novels (Whiteout - also featuring a strong female protagonist).

But as you can see below, Greg Rucka does not just write about female spies [Queen & Country] and law-enforcement agents [Whiteout]; there is also his series featuring Atticus Kodiak, professional bodyguard, "notable for their realism and attention to detail, which are partly a product of Rucka's fight training and experience as an EMT", comics, and even a couple of standalones available in the library catalog.  Also of note: Rucka is a four time winner of, and multiple nominee for, Eisner Awards (given for creative achievement in comic books).  If you enjoy intricately plotted, suspenseful, gritty adventure stories (check out the author on NoveList Plus!), please join us reading some of Greg Rucka's oeuvre today!


Queen & Country series

Atticus Kodiak series

Finder [audiobook only in the library catalog]

Comic Books

Movie based on comic

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Raising Aging Dogs and Well-Adjusted Cats

You bring home your new pet as a puppy - or perhaps an older pet from a shelter - and you're in love.  If you bring home a puppy, you've got many years before your beloved pet takes on the issues of canine old age; if you've adopted a rescued animal, perhaps not so many years.  There are a lot of books out there about choosing a dog breed, training your dog, and the like.  But here are a few books with recommendations for keeping your older dog happy and healthy.

Caring for Your Aging Dog: A Quality-of-Life Guide for Your Dog's Senior Years by Janice Borzendowski

Good Old Dog: Expert Advice for Keeping Your Aging Dog Happy, Healthy, and Comfortable by the Faculty of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University

Your Older Dog: A Complete Guide to Help Your Dog Live a Longer and Healthier Life by Jean Callahan

The Home Spa Book for Dogs: Nose-to-Tail Treatments to Soothe the Soul and Age-Proof Your Canine Companion by Jennifer Cermak

For the cat-owners among us out there, you may feel like you've brought home a Sphinx - or a bundle of joy whose constant mewling is a source of worry.  Having a hard time connecting with your kitty? Wish you could train your cat out of some annoying behaviors?  Here are a few books that will really help you get into the psyche of your feline friend.

The Total Cat: Understanding Your Cat's Physical and Emotional Behavior from Kitten to Old Age by Carol Wilbourn

The Cat Whisperer: Why Cats Do What They Do-- And How to Get Them to Do What You Want by Mieshelle Nagelschneider

Think Like a Cat: How to Raise a Well-Adjusted Cat--Not a Sour Puss by Pam Johnson-Bennett [eBook]

Chat to Your Cat: Lessons in Cat Conversation by Nartina Braun [eBook]

The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats: A Journey into the Feline Heart by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Game of Thrones & Heraldry

From A Wiki of Ice and Fire. Permission was granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.
If you've read any of George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series, or been watching Game of Thrones on HBO, you'll know that all the Great Houses of Westeros (the Seven Kingdoms) have their own sigil. Merriam-Webster defines a sigil as a seal, signet, or a sign, word, or device held to have occult power in astrology or magic, and heraldry as the practice of devising, blazoning, and granting armorial insignia and of tracing and recording genealogies, which is close enough for our purposes.

In Game of Thrones, some of the most vivid heraldic examples include House Stark, with their direwolf and family motto "Winter is Coming" on an escutcheon (see above) and the arms of Joffrey Baratheon, which marshal (or combine) the coats of arms of both his parents' houses (the Baratheon stag and Lannister lion) on one shield.  But real world heraldic rules are not strictly followed in the Seven Kingdoms.

With the help of an online generator (see above), you can make your own Game of Thrones inspired sigil in a kind of trading card format. Pretty, but why not use library resources to make your own heraldic device? The study of heraldry is ancient and intricate, and well worth a little extra effort to make yourself a really impressive insignia.  Here are a couple of titles to get you started:

The Complete Book of Heraldry by Stephen Slater

The Heraldic Art Source Book by Peter Spurrier

The Oxford Guide to Heraldry by Thomas Woodcock and John Martin Robinson

Basic Heraldry by Stephen Friar and John Ferguson

Design Your Own Coat of Arms: An Introduction to Heraldry by Rosemary A. Chorzempa

For younger readers interested in heraldry:

Harold the Herald: A Book about Heraldry by Dana Fradon

Knight by Christopher Gravett

Some more specific studies of heraldry are only available to browse at the Genealogy section on the second floor of Main Library.


Join the Realm Sigil Creator

A Wiki of Ice and Fire: Heraldry

Monday, July 1, 2013

Reading Music: Notable Albums, Songs, and Eras

Summer is here, and that brings music to our ears, with bands touring and music festivals worldwide (and our free Summer Reading Adult Concert series!).  If you don't have the time or the cash to hit the festival circuit, how about checking out some of these music-related tomes from our catalog? Kick back with some chilled air and a cold drink and have your own private jam session. The books won't tell if you hum along to the song in your heart or dance the Electric Slide to the song in your head.

Fear of Music by Jonathan Lethem (33 1/3 series)

Marooned: The Next Generation of Desert Island Discs edited by Phil Freeman

Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970 by David Browne

Louie Louie: The History and Mythology of the World's Most Famous Rock 'n' Roll Song ... by Dave Marsh

Let It Bleed: The Rolling Stones, Altamont, and the End of the Sixties by Ethan A. Russell , with Gerard Van der Leun

I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp: An Autobiography by Richard Hell

Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division by Peter Hook

Runaway American Dream: Listening to Bruce Springsteen by Jimmy Guterman

Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon--And the Journey of a Generation by Sheila Weller

The House that George Built: With a Little Help from Irving, Cole, and a Crew of About Fifty by Wilfrid Sheed

The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century by Alex Ross

Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock-and-Roll's Legendary Neighborhood by Michael Walker

On Celestial Music: And Other Adventures in Listening by Rick Moody

Stardust Melodies: The Biography of Twelve of America's Most Popular Songs by Will Friedwald

How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music by Elijah Wald

Amore: The Story of Italian American Song by Mark Rotella

Me, The Mob, and the Music: One Helluva Ride with Tommy James and the Shondells by Tommy James ; with Martin Fitzpatrick

The Saddest Music Ever Written: The Story of Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings" by Thomas Larson

The Importance of Music to Girls by Lavinia Greenlaw

Sing Me Back Home: Love, Death, and Country Music by Dana Jennings

33 Revolutions Per Minute: A History of Protest Songs, from Billie Holiday to Green Day by Dorian Lynskey

Reaching Out with No Hands: Reconsidering Yoko Ono by Lisa Carver

This Will End in Tears: The Miserablist Guide to Music by Adam Brent Houghtaling