Thursday, November 10, 2016

new Hoover Book Club Kits

The Hoover Library has refreshed their Book Club Kits!  This is an invaluable resource to library and area book groups, so take a minute and toodle on over to their website for a look!

http://www.hooverlibrary.org/book-groups#book-kits

Everything you need for your book club is in this kit (just ad
d readers).
  • 8 or more copies of the title
  • Author biography
  • Reviews of the book
  • Discussion questions
  • An annotated list of other Instant Book Club Kits
  • Complete Lists of Titles


Guidelines
  • Each kit checks out to one group member for a period of six weeks.
  • Kits may not be renewed.
  • Overdue fines are $1 per day.
  • Kits may be reserved up to one year in advance by calling the Fiction Department at 444-7820.


Please return kits in a timely manner so others who have reserved kits may have access to them when needed.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

holidays, crafts, and cookbooks

The next RA Roundtable will be on Wednesday, December 14th at 9am in the Southern History Department at the Birmingham Public Library downtown.  The topic up for discussion will be art (any kind) and odd sized books.  Large or small, we want to hear about them all!  This is our annual holiday potluck so, if you are able, please bring a small dish to share!

Just in case you haven’t had a chance to make note of the 2017 calendar for RART, here ‘tis:

Feb 8 – humor/parody @ Springville Road
Apr 12 – bookgroups/popular fiction @ Homewood
Jun 14 – literature in translation @ Emmet O’Neal
Aug 9 – parenting/mentoring @ Hoover
Oct 11 – sci fi/fantasy/horror @ Pinson
Dec 13 – young adult @ East Lake

The Fall/Halloween season is in full swing in the Public Libraries of Jefferson County.  Here are a few examples!  
  • Springville Road is having an all-ages Halloween Family Fun Night starting at 6pm on Monday, October 31st.  
  • All BPL staff at all branches have been invited to costume it up on the 31st as well so visit them all and see what characters you find!  Great photo ops abound!  
  • The Leeds Library will have an evening block party on the 31st, fun for the whole family!  
  • At Emmet O’Neal, the Children’s department is hosting the annual Library Dark & Grim Costume Carnival on Friday, October 21st beginning at 6pm, with a Tangled sing-along movie at 7. The Teen department (grades 7-12) is hosting a Halloween trivia night on Tuesday, October 25th 6:30-8 and a horror movie double feature on Friday, October 28th 6-10pm. The Adult department will have a horror movie double feature (ages 18+) on Saturday, October 15th 5-9, a documentary about the Amityville haunting on Tuesday, October 18 at 6:30pm, and a literary Halloween trivia night on Thursday, October 27th at 6:30pm.  Call the reference desk at 205-445-1121 to register a team of 2-4 people.


Yesterday, we met at the Woodlawn Library to discuss cookbooks, crafts, and holidays of all kinds.  I’d like to extend a big THANK YOU to Woodlawn (and to Pam and Sequoria!) for hosting and providing the yummy snacks!

I most definitely end up in the "pinterest fail" category when I try out these books, but many of the craft ideas, recipes, and decorating tips in this book are doable as-is, or with minimal tweaking.  
Holley, Emmet O'Neal

A friend has told me for years how awesome the Gooseberry Patch books are and now I'm a convert!  I made two recipes from the many offered here (snacks, desserts, cocktails, and more!) and they were both delicious and easy: the Bite-You-Back spicy roasted pecans and the kid-friendly Mummy Dogs.  I plan to try a couple of the crafts/decorations as well.  I'm even thinking about buying my own copy of this to have at home!
Holley, Emmet O'Neal

Like beauty in Emerson’s poem “The Rhodora,” Southern Living is its own excuse for being, especially at the approach of the holiday season. If you eagerly leaf through each new issue of the magazine, then the Christmas with Southern Living book series is something you should check out. Our department has just received the 2016 version and even if you don’t feel your crafting and cooking skills are in the Martha Stewart category, you can still revel in the gorgeous photography. And who knows? Some of the decorating schemes and recipes are fairly simple and you may find something you’d like to try. On page 39 there is a recipe for Salted Brown Sugar Butter that is only three ingredients: unsalted butter, brown sugar, and flaky sea salt. We are assured that “you will find endless dishes in which to use this butter, from topping cooked carrots and roasted root vegetables to slathering on dinner rolls and muffins.” Well, I’m sold. Something tells me this will find its way into my recipe file and my roasted root vegetables will be all the better for it. Take a look and you might find a decorating idea or recipe that will become one of your personal classics.
Mary Anne, BPL Southern History

Most of us who grew up in this country have an image of Thanksgiving that includes a turkey dinner, accompanied by various sides such as cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, and other personal favorites. Appelbaum’s history of Thanksgiving is interesting because of how it examines many different versions of Thanksgiving and how the holiday originated. The Pilgrim “feast” with the Native Americans may or may not have featured turkey, though it’s a possibility along with ducks, geese, or partridges. There may have been pumpkins and corn, but these were a regular feature of the settlers’ diet. There might also have been oysters, which may be where we get our recipes for turkey stuffing (“dressing” if you grew up in the South) with oysters in it. But whatever the food, the meal we think of as a feast emerged from circumstances where famine was more likely.


It hasn’t always been just a sit-down dinner with relatives and friends, either. During different periods of American history, Thanksgiving Day might begin with a skating party in the morning (helpful in working up an appetite for the afternoon dinner) and end in the evening with a gala dance. It was not until FDR’s presidential administration that the day for the observance legally became the fourth Thursday in November.  But one thing has not changed. One of the illustrations in the book is from the 19th century and is entitled “After Dinner.” It shows a grandfather sleeping peacefully in an armchair with his grandchild slumbering in his arms. Apparently the “fall asleep after dinner” tradition is an absolutely vital part of the long and complex history of Thanksgiving Day. 
Mary Anne, BPL Southern History

No matter what the occasion, this is a handy book to have around. With the signature grace and flair that characterizes her brand from clothing to home decorating, Spade covers just about everything you need to know for almost any kind of celebration, including a few things you hadn’t thought of. You will find advice on how to be a good host/hostess and guest, how to decorate, what should be in a well-stocked bar and pantry, what to do about the drunken guest wearing a lampshade as a hat, and how to stage every kind of gathering from a dinner party for a dozen to a midnight breakfast for two. A sample of advice on being a good host: “If you have houseguests frequently, it’s a good idea to sleep in your guest room once every few months. Then you’ll know firsthand what works, what’s missing, whether the pillows are perfect or the mattress too soft.”  I lost count of how many times I read something like this and thought, “That’s perfect and why didn’t I already know it?” So whatever kind of event you’re planning, take a look at Occasions and be ready for anything.
Mary Anne, BPL Southern History

Ring in the holiday with eighteen writers who extol, excoriate, and expand our understanding of this most merry of Jewish festivals as they offer up funny, irreverent, and, yes, even nostalgic takes on a holiday that holds a special place in Jewish hearts . . . and stomachs.

Pieces by Jonathan Tropper, Jennifer Gilmore, Steve Almond, Joanna Smith Rakoff, Adam Langer, and others address pressing issues: what is the weight gain associated with eating 432 latkes in eight nights? Offer joyous gratitude: “What a holiday! No pestilence, no slavery, no locusts, no cattle disease, or atonement. Thank God.” And afford tender truths: “You are reminded of your real gifts: a family you get to come home to.”

Whether your family tradition included a Christmas tree or a Chanukah bush, whether the fights among your siblings rivaled the battles of the Maccabees, or even if you haven’t a clue who the Maccabees were, this little book illustrates the joys, frustrations, and small miracles of the season.
Mondretta, Leeds

Mondretta, Leeds

Find out what's going on any day of the year, anywhere across the globe!

If you're looking to tie a promotional event to a special month, travel to a music festival halfway around the world, blog about a historical milestone or do a celebrity birthday round-up on your radio show or Twitterfeed, Chase's Calendar of Events is the one resource that has it all.

The world’s datebook, Chase's is the definitive day-by-day resource of what America and the wider world are celebrating and commemorating. Founded in 1957 on a reputation for accuracy and comprehensiveness, this annual publication has become the must-have reference used by experts and professionals for more than fifty years. From celebrity birthdays to historical anniversaries, from astronomical phenomena to national awareness days, from award ceremonies and sporting events to religious festivals and carnivals, Chase's is the one-stop shop for everything that is happening now or is worth remembering from the past.

The 2016 Edition of Chase's Calendar of Events brings you:
  • The Transit of Mercury
  • Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Brazil
  • The 25th anniversary of the collapse of the USSR
  • The 50th anniversary of the first celebration of Kwanzaa
  • The 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor
  • The National Park Service’s 100th birthday
  • The 100th anniversary of WWI’s Battle of Verdun and Battle of the Somme
  • The 200th birth anniversary of Charlotte Brontë
  • Indiana’s 200th statehood birthday

For librarians, broadcasters, journalists, event planners, public relations professionals, editors, writers or simply the curious, this is one reference you can't do without!
Mondretta, Leeds

Follow Hester van Overbeek's easy steps to make a fresh flower-decorated tea-light votive for a garden party, store all your grains and pasta in large jars with vibrantly painted lids, or why not surprise a friend with the colorful "birthday in a jar"? There are lots of quick ideas that take no time at all, such as vacation memories in a jar, the table-setting jars, or the floral centerpiece that will charm all your guests. Some are elegant, some are homespun, but all make use of natural materials such as wood, shells, flowers, and leather to give an original but sophisticated feel to your home and garden. Once you are confident in making the simpler crafts, there are more intricate projects to try, using basic DIY techniques: make a fabulous drink dispenser, a desk lamp, or a rustic vase display by attaching jars to a weathered piece of wood. All the projects have clear step-by-step instructions and hand-drawn illustrations to guide you, so all you need to do is pick the project you want to make first!
Jon, Avondale

It’s vintage fun! This follow-up to The Boy Mechanic—Popular Mechanics’ collection of can-do ingenuity from the early 1900s—features more than 200 unique toys and games that anyone with a basic tool kit will want to make, plus the unusual and attractive rounded, flexibound format. Charmingly designed to capture that old-fashioned flavor, every imaginative project remains as engaging today as ever, with its appeal fully intact. There’s amusement for little kids, including a toy donkey that nods and wags its tail; a child’s playhouse and a miniature windmill; magic tricks, such as an “X-Ray” pack of cards and mystery coin box; items for the great outdoors, which range from a homebuilt canoe to a diving tower; plus gizmos and gadgets, “scien-terrific” motors and engines, and entertaining objects for an older child to create and play with.
Jon, Avondale

For crafters who want to take their craft to a new entrepreneurial level, this book is the perfect guide. Using highly-visual, step-by-step tutorials, How to Show & Sell Your Crafts is packed with helpful branding, selling, and merchandising tips that no serious crafter should be without. Using the workspaces, shops, salons, and "through-the-keyhole" profiles of some of the world's most successful crafters, readers will learn the best ways to merchandise and sell their items online, at craft fairs, markets, pop-up events, exhibitions, and in shops. Plus, you'll learn how to build a personality-driven brand, create a memorable blog or website, improve your photography skills, and analyze your results to help move your business forward into the future.
You start by learning how to optimize your workspace to improve creativity and profitability, then how to build a strong brand name and Internet presence on Etsy and across multiple social media platforms. Lastly, learn how to get your work out into the marketplace, engage customers, and use the insider secrets offered in this book to set yourself up for success and grow your sales!
Jon, Avondale

These 20 beautiful projects range in skill level from beginner to experienced, allowing you to build new skills as you complete one project and move on to the next. A fully illustrated techniques section teaches you the basics of jewelry-making and gives you a base to build off of so that you can even create your own brand new designs.
Jon, Avondale

The long-awaited first cookbook from the creator and host of the Internet’s most popular baking show, Nerdy Nummies: a collection of Rosanna Pansino’s all-time favorite geeky recipes as well as sensational new recipes exclusive to this book.

The Nerdy Nummies Cookbook is quirky, charming, and fun, featuring the recipes behind Rosanna Pansino’s celebrated, one-of-a-kind creations, as well as beautiful, mouthwatering photographs throughout. It is the perfect companion that you’ll turn to whenever you want to whip up a delicious treat and be entertained all at once. And best of all, these treats are as simple as they are fun to make! No need for costly tools or baking classes to create these marvelous delights yourself.

The Nerdy Nummies Cookbook combines two things Rosanna loves: geek culture and baking. Her fondness for video games, science fiction, math, comics, and lots of other things considered “nerdy” have inspired every recipe in this book. You’ll find the recipes for many beloved fan favorites from the show, such as Apple Pi Pie, the Chocolate Chip Smart Cookie, and Volcano Cake; as well as many new geeky recipes, such as Dinosaur Fossil Cake, Moon Phase Macarons, and the Periodic Table of Cupcakes. The Nerdy Nummies Cookbook showcases Rosanna’s most original and popular creations, and each recipe includes easy-to-follow photo instructions and a stunning shot of the finished treat in all its geeky glory: a delicious confection sure to please the geek in all of us!
Jon, Avondale

Ask almost anyone to name a uniquely Southern drink, and bourbon and mint juleps--perhaps moonshine--are about the only beverages that come up. But what about rye whiskey, Madeira wine, and fine imported Cognac? Or peach brandy, applejack, and lager beer? At various times in the past, these drinks were as likely to be found at the Southern bar as barrel-aged bourbon and raw corn likker. The image of genteel planters in white suits sipping mint juleps on the veranda is a myth that never was--the true picture is far more complex and fascinating. Southern Spirits is the first book to tell the full story of liquor, beer, and wine in the American South. This story is deeply intertwined with the region, from the period when British colonists found themselves stranded in a new world without their native beer, to the 21st century, when classic spirits and cocktails of the pre-Prohibition South have come back into vogue. Along the way, the book challenges the stereotypes of Southern drinking culture, including the ubiquity of bourbon and the geographic definition of the South itself, and reveals how that culture has shaped the South and America as a whole.
Samuel, Springville Road

GENERAL DISCUSSION:  The Homewood Library has a magnificent program series on cocktails let by local writer and bartender-at-large, Clair McLafferty!  Here’s the lineup for 2017 (sorry for the creases, it was folded up in my purse):


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

meetings in 2017

Mark your 2017 calendars!

February 8 @ Springville Road (humor/parody)
April 12 @ Homewood (bookgroup/popular fiction)
June 14 @ Emmet O'Neal (literature in translation)
August 9 @ Hoover (parenting/mentoring)
October 11 @ Pinson (sci fi/fantasy/horror)
December 13 @ East Lake (ya fiction)

Thursday, August 11, 2016

debut fiction

The next RART meeting will be Wednesday, October 12th at 9am at the Woodlawn Library and the topic up for discussion will be celebrations!  Bring a book on your favorite holiday and/or holiday cooking and tell us about it!  And hey, if you want to bring a sample of your favorite recipe, no one will be mad ;-)

I am delighted to serve another year as RART moderator and the dates/topics are as follows (venues TBD):

February 8 – Humor/Parody (SPRINGVILLE ROAD)
April 12 – Bookgroup/Popular Fiction
June 14 – Literature in Translation
August 9 – Parenting/Mentoring (HOOVER)
October 11 – Sci Fi/Fantasy/Horror
December 13 – YA Fiction


If your library does not have a subscription to NoveList, you can still sign up for their excellent monthly newsletter: http://www.libraryaware.com/14/Subscribers/Subscribe.  I frequently use the newsletter to create bibliographies and displayes.

At this week’s meeting, we discussed one of my favorites: debut fiction.  It is sometimes said there are no new ideas, but some of these authors are proving the critics wrong!

Security by Gina Wohlsdorf
The first found-footage novel I've ever read and SHE MAKES IT WORK.  Fans of Chelsea Cain, Patricia Cornwell, and Karen Slaughter shouldn't be disappointed by this first effort from a disconcertingly sweet-looking Wohlsdorf.  Language, violence, sex, and various other depravities abound at the brand-new luxury resort, Manderley.  The video cameras catch everything and stop nothing.  I read it by the pool in one sitting, cringing much of the time.
Holley, Emmet O'Neal

Still Life by Louise Penny
Three Pines is an idyllic dream of a small town. Nestled in an isolated area of Quebec, the little village is truly off the grid: cell phone reception drops to one bar or none; your wifi connection refuses to connect; you can’t find your way to Trois Pins on most maps . . . unless you need to be there. Without having supernatural qualities, the town still has a way of attracting to itself the people who really need it in their lives.

However, the peace of this close-knit community is shattered when local artist Jane Neal is found lying dead in the woods with an arrow in her body. Hunting accident? Possibly.  There are plenty of bowhunters in the area who aren’t as careful as they should be. But Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec doesn’t think this is an accident. All of his experience and intuition tells him that Jane Neal was murdered. As he assembles his team and sets out to solve the case, everyone in the village is looking at their neighbors through different eyes, not knowing which of the people they thought they knew might turn out to be a killer.

I can’t think when I’ve reacted to a mystery series with such grabby-hands anticipation for the next book. Still Life is a fine introduction to a series that just keeps getting better and better. Like many another reader, I’ve fallen hard for Three Pines in general (it would be a lovely vacation getaway spot) and Armand Gamache in particular. Unlike many fictional detectives he is not warped or tormented or saddled with terrible habits; he’s a warm, considerate, middle-aged man who loves his children and adores his wife. He also makes every effort to do right by his co-workers and carefully train the agents under his supervision: according to Gamache, the four sayings that are important for learning wisdom are I was wrong; I'm sorry; I don't know; and I need help. And Gamache doesn’t just say them. He lives them.

While Still Life has some characteristics of a “cozy” mystery, be careful about recommending it to your readers who favor these. There are some brutal aspects to the novel and the series—gory descriptions of murder and attempted murder, foul language, and drug abuse, to name only a few. But if you have (or are) a reader who’s looking for fiction that will grip you and not let go, this is one for the record books. Start at the beginning with Still Life and read in order, for there are some story arcs and character developments that take a while and you’ll miss one of the best aspects of the series unless you let it unfold at its own pace.

See you in Three Pines—if I can find it!

Author Louise Penny:

Mary Anne, BPL Southern History

The Widow by Fiona Barton
When the police started asking questions, Jean Taylor turned into a different woman. One who enabled her and her husband to carry on, when more bad things began to happen...

But that woman’s husband died last week. And Jean doesn’t have to be her anymore.

There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment. 

Now there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage. 

The truth—that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything…
Shannon, Hoover

Vegetarian by Han Kang
Before the nightmares began, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary, controlled life. But the dreams—invasive images of blood and brutality—torture her, driving Yeong-hye to purge her mind and renounce eating meat altogether. It’s a small act of independence, but it interrupts her marriage and sets into motion an increasingly grotesque chain of events at home. As her husband, her brother-in-law and sister each fight to reassert their control, Yeong-hye obsessively defends the choice that’s become sacred to her. Soon their attempts turn desperate, subjecting first her mind, and then her body, to ever more intrusive and perverse violations, sending Yeong-hye spiraling into a dangerous, bizarre estrangement, not only from those closest to her, but also from herself. 

Celebrated by critics around the world, The Vegetarian is a darkly allegorical, Kafka-esque tale of power, obsession, and one woman’s struggle to break free from the violence both without and within her.
Shannon, Hoover

The stunning debut novel from bestselling author Bill Clegg is a magnificently powerful story about a circle of people who find solace in the least likely of places as they cope with a horrific tragedy.

On the eve of her daughter’s wedding, June Reid’s life is upended when a shocking disaster takes the lives of her daughter, her daughter’s fiancé, her ex-husband, and her boyfriend, Luke—her entire family, all gone in a moment. June is the only survivor.

Alone and directionless, June drives across the country, away from her small Connecticut town. In her wake, a community emerges, weaving a beautiful and surprising web of connections through shared heartbreak.

From the couple running a motel on the Pacific Ocean where June eventually settles into a quiet half-life, to the wedding’s caterer whose bill has been forgotten, to Luke’s mother, the shattered outcast of the town—everyone touched by the tragedy is changed as truths about their near and far histories finally come to light.

Elegant and heartrending, and one of the most accomplished fiction debuts of the year, Did You Ever Have a Family is an absorbing, unforgettable tale that reveals humanity at its best through forgiveness and hope. At its core is a celebration of family—the ones we are born with and the ones we create.
Shannon, Hoover

Half Bad by Sally Green
In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and sixteen-year-old Nathan, who is both. Nathan’s father is the world’s most powerful and cruel Black witch, and his mother is dead. He is hunted from all sides. Trapped in a cage, beaten and handcuffed, Nathan must escape before his seventeenth birthday, at which point he will receive three gifts from his father and come into his own as a witch—or else he will die. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust—not even family, not even the girl he loves?

In the tradition of Patrick Ness and Markus Zusak, Half Bad is a gripping tale of alienation and the indomitable will to survive, a story that will grab hold of you and not let go until the very last page.
Gina, Gardendale

Rush Oh! by Shirley Barrett
1908: It's the year that proves to be life-changing for our teenage narrator, Mary Davidson, tasked with providing support to her father's boisterous whaling crews while caring for five brothers and sisters in the wake of their mother's death. But when the handsome John Beck-a former Methodist preacher turned novice whaler with a mysterious past-arrives at the Davidson's door pleading to join her father's crews, suddenly Mary's world is upended.

As her family struggles to survive the scarcity of whales and the vagaries of weather, and as she navigates sibling rivalries and an all-consuming first love for the newcomer John, nineteen-year-old Mary will soon discover a darker side to these men who hunt the seas, and the truth of her place among them. 

Swinging from Mary's own hopes and disappointments to the challenges that have beset her family's whaling operation,RUSH OH! is an enchanting blend of fact and fiction that's as much the story of its gutsy narrator's coming-of-age as it is the celebration of an extraordinary episode in history.
Maura, Trussville

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
What should be a cozy and fun-filled weekend deep in the English countryside takes a sinister turn in Ruth Ware’s suspenseful, compulsive, and darkly twisted psychological thriller.

Sometimes the only thing to fear…is yourself.

When reclusive writer Leonora is invited to the English countryside for a weekend away, she reluctantly agrees to make the trip. But as the first night falls, revelations unfold among friends old and new, an unnerving memory shatters Leonora’s reserve, and a haunting realization creeps in: the party is not alone in the woods.
Samuel, Springville Road

The Swede by Robert Karjel
A thief.
A prisoner.
A man who no longer exists.
At a remote military base on an island in the Indian Ocean, the FBI is trying to get a prisoner to confess. But the detainee, a suspect in an Islamist-inspired terrorist attack in the United States, refuses to talk.
Ernst Grip, a Swedish security officer, has no idea why he’s been dispatched to New York City. The FBI agent he meets on arrival, Shauna Friedman, seems to know a little too much about him. And when he arrives at his real destination, the American authorities have just one question: Is their suspect a Swedish citizen?
In the process of uncovering the prisoner’s true identity, Grip discovers the man’s ties to a group of other suspects—a ruthless American arms dealer, a Czech hit man, a mysterious nurse from Kansas, and a heartbreakingly naïve Pakistani. The closer Grip gets to the truth, the more complicated the deception becomes. Who is real and who is leading a double life?
Samuel, Springville Road

The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky
The city sleeps. Selene DiSilva walks her dog along the banks of the Hudson. She is alone -- just the way she likes it. She doesn't believe in friends, and she doesn't speak to her family. Most of them are simply too dangerous. 

In the predawn calm, Selene finds the body of a young woman washed ashore, gruesomely mutilated and wreathed in laurel. Her ancient rage returns. And so does the memory of a promise she made long ago -- when her name was Artemis. 
Samuel, Springville Road

Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins
In 2012, Claire Vaye Watkins’s story collection, Battleborn, swept nearly every award for short fiction. Now this young writer, widely heralded as a once-in-a-generation talent, returns with a first novel that harnesses the sweeping vision and deep heart that made her debut so arresting to a love story set in a devastatingly imagined near future:

Unrelenting drought has transfigured Southern California into a surreal, phantasmagoric landscape. With the Central Valley barren, underground aquifer drained, and Sierra snowpack entirely depleted, most “Mojavs,” prevented by both armed vigilantes and an indifferent bureaucracy from freely crossing borders to lusher regions, have allowed themselves to be evacuated to internment camps. In Los Angeles’ Laurel Canyon, two young Mojavs—Luz, once a poster child for the Bureau of Conservation and its enemies, and Ray, a veteran of the “forever war” turned surfer—squat in a starlet’s abandoned mansion. Holdouts, they subsist on rationed cola and whatever they can loot, scavenge, and improvise.

The couple’s fragile love somehow blooms in this arid place, and for the moment, it seems enough. But when they cross paths with a mysterious child, the thirst for a better future begins. They head east, a route strewn with danger: sinkholes and patrolling authorities, bandits and the brutal, omnipresent sun. Ghosting after them are rumors of a visionary dowser—a diviner for water—and his followers, who whispers say have formed a colony at the edge of a mysterious sea of dunes.

Immensely moving, profoundly disquieting, and mind-blowingly original, Watkins’s novel explores the myths we believe about others and tell about ourselves, the double-edged power of our most cherished relationships, and the shape of hope in a precarious future that may be our own.
Jon, Avondale

The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
In the near future, the Colorado River has dwindled to a trickle. Detective, assassin, and spy, Angel Velasquez “cuts” water for the Southern Nevada Water Authority, ensuring that its lush arcology developments can bloom in Las Vegas. When rumors of a game-changing water source surface in Phoenix, Angel is sent south, hunting for answers that seem to evaporate as the heat index soars and the landscape becomes more and more oppressive. There, he encounters Lucy Monroe, a hardened journalist with her own agenda, and Maria Villarosa, a young Texas migrant, who dreams of escaping north. As bodies begin to pile up, the three find themselves pawns in a game far bigger and more corrupt than they could have imagined, and when water is more valuable than gold, alliances shift like sand, and the only truth in the desert is that someone will have to bleed if anyone hopes to drink.
Jon, Avondale

Twenty-year-old Skyler saw the incident out her window: Some sort of metallic object hovering over the Golden Gate Bridge just before it collapsed and a mushroom cloud lifted above the city. Like everyone, she ran, but she couldn't outrun the radiation, with her last thoughts being of her beloved baby brother, Dorian, safe in her distant family home. 

Flash forward to a post-incident America, where the country has been broken up into territories and Muslims have been herded onto the old Indian reservations in the west, even though no one has determined who set off the explosion that destroyed San Francisco. Twelve-year old Dorian dreams about killing Muslims and about his sister—even though Dorian's parents insist Skyler never existed. Are they still shell-shocked, trying to put the past behind them . . . or is something more sinister going on?

Meanwhile, across the street, Dorian's neighbor adopts a Muslim orphan from the territories. It will set off a series of increasingly terrifying incidents that will lead to either tragedy or redemption for Dorian, as he struggles to prove that his sister existed—and was killed by a terrorist attack.

Not on Fire, but Burning is unlike anything you're read before—not exactly a thriller, not exactly sci-fi, not exactly speculative fiction, but rather a brilliant and absorbing adventure into the dark heart of an America that seems ripped from the headlines. But just as powerfully, it presents a captivating hero: A young boy driven by love to seek the truth, even if it means his deepest beliefs are wrong.
Jon, Avondale

Fiend by Peter Stenson
 When Chase first sees the little girl in umbrella socks disemboweling the Rottweiler, he's not too concerned. As a longtime meth addict, he’s no stranger to such horrifying, drug-fueled hallucinations.  
   But as he and his fellow junkies soon discover, the little girl is no illusion. The end of the world really has arrived. And with Chase’s life already shattered by addiction, the apocalypse might actually be an opportunity—a last chance to hit restart, win back the love of his life, and become the person he once dreamed of being. 
   That is, if the darkness inside him doesn't destroy everything—again.
Jon, Avondale

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
A sharply honest and moving debut perfect for fans of The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Ask the Passengers.
Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. But Riley isn't exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in über-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley's life.
On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it's reallylike to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley's starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley's real identity, threatening exposure. And Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.
From debut author Jeff Garvin comes a powerful and uplifting portrait of a modern teen struggling with high school, relationships, and what it means to be a person.
Holley, Emmet O'Neal

The Killing Gift by Bari Wood (Light Source is also excellent.)
This is more than a novel about a lonely woman who becomes the quarry of an obsessed detective. It is more than a gripping psychic suspense story that holds the readers right down to the last sentence. It reaches into the subconscious; the core of violence and aggression in all of us. It explores the question that most civilized people ask themselves: What would I do if I had the power to kill just by thinking about it?
Mondretta, Leeds

Work Like Any Other by Virginia Reeves
In this astonishingly accomplished, morally complicated, “exceptional and starkly beautiful debut” (Kevin Powers, National Book Award–nominated author of The Yellow Birds), a prideful electrician in 1920s rural Alabama struggles to overcome past sins and find peace after being sent to prison for manslaughter.

Roscoe T Martin set his sights on a new type of power spreading at the start of the twentieth century: electricity. It became his training, his life’s work. But when his wife, Marie, inherits her father’s failing farm, Roscoe has to give up his livelihood, with great cost to his sense of self, his marriage, and his family. Realizing he might lose them all if he doesn’t do something, he begins to use his skills as an electrician to siphon energy from the state, ushering in a period of bounty and happiness. Even the love of Marie and their child seem back within Roscoe’s grasp.

Then a young man working for the state power company stumbles on Roscoe’s illegal lines and is electrocuted, and everything changes: Roscoe is arrested; the farm once more starts to deteriorate; and Marie abandons her husband, leaving him to face his twenty-year sentence alone. Now an unmoored Roscoe must carve out a place at Kilby Prison. Climbing the ranks of the incarcerated from dairy hand to librarian to “dog boy,” an inmate who helps the guards track down escapees, he is ultimately forced to ask himself once more if his work is just that, or if the price of his crimes—for him and his family—is greater than he ever let himself believe.
Mondretta, Leeds

Soulless by Gail Carriger
Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette. 

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire -- and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate. 

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?
Kelly, Springville Road

Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander
Nursing school prepared Edie Spence for a lot of things. Burn victims? No problem. Severed limbs? Piece of cake. Vampires? No way in hell. But as the newest nurse on Y4, the secret ward hidden in the bowels of County Hospital, Edie has her hands full with every paranormal patient you can imagine-from vamps and were-things to zombies and beyond...
Edie's just trying to learn the ropes so she can get through her latest shift unscathed. But when a vampire servant turns to dust under her watch, all hell breaks loose. Now she's haunted by the man's dying words-Save Anna-and before she knows it, she's on a mission to rescue some poor girl from the undead. Which involves crashing a vampire den, falling for a zombie, and fighting for her soul. Grey's Anatomy was never like this...
Kelly, Springville Road

GENERAL DISCUSSION:

Fans of the Netflix series, Stranger Things, might enjoy Brian K. Vaughan’s (Saga series) latest series, Paper Girls!

This fall, Hoover Library will be hosting a skyping session with Siobhan Fallon, author of You Know When the Men are Gone, a short story collection about military families.  Keep your eyes on their calendar!

What are YOU reading?


Thursday, June 9, 2016

LGBTQ books & dvds

The next Reader’s Advisory Roundtable will be on Wednesday, August 10 at 9am at the Gardendale Library (located at 995 Mt. Olive Road 35071) and the topic up for discussion will be debut novels, past and present.  Even Stephen King had to have a first book!  The August meeting will also usher in our annual housekeeping tasks.  It’s time to select next year’s topics, so be thinking about what you’d like to discuss in 2017!  Keep a note for the August meeting, but feel free to email or call me as well!
hwesley[at]the usual or 205-445-1117.

We briefly talked about James Patterson’s new BOOKSHOTS line.  The tagline: Under 150 pages. Under $5. Impossible to put down.  All thriller, no filler.  The general consensus was to give them a try and let circulation stats drive further purchases.  For more information, visit the BOOKSHOTS website at https://www.bookshots.com/about/bookshots.

Finally, the first big book of manners for the more than 15 million lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the United States and Canada and the people who love them, work with them, and live with them. Written by Steven Petrow, the go-to authority on the subject—he’s the same-sex wedding expert at The New York Times and a columnist for The Huffington Post, Yahoo’s Shine, GayWeddings.com, and the “Q” Syndicate (with distribution to more than 100 LGBT newspapers and websites)—this is the definitive book of LGBT etiquette. 

Encyclopedic in its approach, filled with practical wisdom, lively wit, and much insight, Steven Petrow’s Complete Gay & Lesbian Manners covers everything: from coming out to being out in the workplace; from dealing with the joy and complexity of same-sex weddings and commitment ceremonies (including how to propose and write meaningful vows) to handling the legal paperwork every couple needs. There’s a chapter on sex etiquette, and another on the challenges and opportunities of raising a family, plus sections on travel, bullying, entertaining, meeting new friends, introducing your partner to your family, a primer on gay pride, and so much more. 

Throughout there are hundreds of questions—some posed by LGBT folk, and others by straight people: What do the mothers of two brides wear to a lesbian wedding? What do you say to an anti-gay joke? How do you answer “Who’s the father?” when there are two mothers?

Manners, yes, but with a twist.
Mondretta, Leeds

In this artful and thought-provoking film, highly regarded experimental filmmaker Abigail Child follows four young African American men in urban Cleveland, Ohio, who all live life on the downlow (the DL).

Uncomfortable with being termed gay, as it doesn t correspond with their concept of Black masculinity, the men in this film straddle two seemingly incompatible worlds. Billy claims that the best sex of his life was with the mother of his two children, but he lives with a man. A self-described thug, Ray prefers drag queens. Kerwin desires not only a beautiful woman on his arm, but a man as well. And Antonio, an ex-con who picked up the DL lifestyle while incarcerated, is dating George, whose teenage girlfriend doesn t know that George, too, is on the DL. Together, these men s stories offer a rare window into both the allure and struggle of the DL lifestyle.

Interweaving their narratives through candid interviews and intimate cinematography by Arthur Jafa (Crooklyn, Daughters of the Dust), ON THE DOWNLOW offers a penetrating glimpse into a split existence: one life lies on the surface, and another is hidden below.
Mondretta, Leeds


Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
First time author Jeff Garvin has done a remarkable thing.  He has taken one genderfluid teenager's experience and removed gender from it.  Riley Cavanagh's life, the good and the bad, is taken out of "girl" and "boy" paradigms and becomes a more profound exploration of the modern human experience.  What happens to Riley shouldn't happen to anyone, gender aside, and, by removing gender from the equation completely (you NEVER find out whether Riley is male or female), the human experience is elevated in this great, debut young adult novel.  A must read for everyone!
Holley, Mountain Brook

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A NEW YORK TIMESNOTABLE BOOK • NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY PEOPLE AND ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY MEN’S JOURNAL • A STONEWALL HONOR BOOK IN NONFICTION • FINALIST FOR THE LAMBDA LITERARY AWARD FOR TRANSGENDER NONFICTION

The inspiring true story of a transgender girl, her identical twin brother, and an ordinary American family’s extraordinary journey to understand, nurture, and celebrate the uniqueness in us all, from the Pulitzer Prize–winning science reporter for The Washington Post


When Wayne and Kelly Maines adopted identical twin boys, they thought their lives were complete. But it wasn’t long before they noticed a marked difference between Jonas and his brother, Wyatt. Jonas preferred sports and trucks and many of the things little boys were “supposed” to like; but Wyatt liked princess dolls and dress-up and playing Little Mermaid. By the time the twins were toddlers, confusion over Wyatt’s insistence that he was female began to tear the family apart. In the years that followed, the Maineses came to question their long-held views on gender and identity, to accept and embrace Wyatt’s transition to Nicole, and to undergo an emotionally wrenching transformation of their own that would change all their lives forever.

Becoming Nicole chronicles a journey that could have destroyed a family but instead brought it closer together. It’s the story of a mother whose instincts told her that her child needed love and acceptance, not ostracism and disapproval; of a Republican, Air Force veteran father who overcame his deepest fears to become a vocal advocate for trans rights; of a loving brother who bravely stuck up for his twin sister; and of a town forced to confront its prejudices, a school compelled to rewrite its rules, and a courageous community of transgender activists determined to make their voices heard. Ultimately,Becoming Nicole is the story of an extraordinary girl who fought for the right to be herself.

Granted wide-ranging access to personal diaries, home videos, clinical journals, legal documents, medical records, and the Maineses themselves, Amy Ellis Nutt spent almost four years reporting this immersive account of an American family confronting an issue that is at the center of today’s cultural debate. Becoming Nicole will resonate with anyone who’s ever raised a child, felt at odds with society’s conventions and norms, or had to embrace life when it plays out unexpectedly. It’s a story of standing up for your beliefs and yourself—and it will inspire all of us to do the same
Samuel, Springville Road

One of the most critically acclaimed films of the year, STRANGER BY THE LAKE has been described as a modern-day Hitchcockian masterpiece. A picturesque cruising spot in the countryside of France sets the scene between desire and murder. Franck, a regular at the lake, meets the handsome Michel and soon falls in love with the mysterious stranger. When a body is discovered in the lake, Franck and Michel soon become primary suspects of the investigation. STRANGER BY THE LAKE is a unique, erotic thriller of seduction and sexual obsession that builds to an unforgettable and terrifying climax.
Samuel, Springville Road


Sordid Lives (tv series on dvd)  
Sordid Lives: The Series (createdby Del Shores) is the story of a small town Texas family presided over by matriarch Peggy Ingram (Rue McClanahan) who takes in the town bar singer Bitsy Mae Harling (Olivia Newton-John) who has just been released from prison.

Peggy's wild child daughter LaVonda (Ann Walker) lives with Peggy's chain-smoking sister Sissy (Beth Grant), while Peggy's good girl Latrelle (Bonnie Bedelia) maintains an image of seeming perfection. Peggy's third child "Brother Boy" Ingram (Leslie Jordan) is locked in a mental institution where he performs as Tammy Wynette. He plots to escape while he attends therapy sessions with the crazy Dr. Eve (Rosemary Alexander) who believes she can dehomosexualize him.

LaVonda's white trash best friend Noleta (Caroline Rhea) lives in a trailer in Sissy's backyard with her husband G.W. (David Steen), a Vietnam vet with two wooden legs. G.W. escapes regularly to the local bar in town amidst a small crowd of regulars including brothers Wardell (Newell Alexander) and Odell (David Cowgill), Bitsy and this bar's crazy old fly Juanita (Sarah Hunley).

Latrelle's son Ty (Jason Dottley) is an actor living in Los Angeles and struggling with several therapists (Margaret Cho, Carson Kressley, Candis Cayne) to come to terms with his homosexuality. Along the way he deals with his first boyfriend (Ted Detwiler), his stalker ex-girlfriend (Sharron Alexis), a vengeful trick (Emerson Collins) and the difficulty of coming out to his straight best friend (Robert Lewis Stephenson) and his family back in Texas.
Sordid Lives is the universally relatable story of a town of family and friends and the trials and tribulations they go through as they learn to see each other for who they are instead of who they wish each other to be.  

There is a feature film remake of this, but it is not currently available in the PLJC system.
Samuel, Springville Road


Dance With Me by Heidi Cullinan (not available in the PLJC system)
Ed Maurer has bounced back, more or less, from the neck injury that permanently benched his semipro football career. He hates his soul-killing office job, but he loves volunteering at a local community center. The only fly in his ointment is the dance instructor, Laurie Parker, who can’t seem to stay out of his way. 

Laurie was once one of the most celebrated ballet dancers in the world, but now he volunteers at Halcyon Center to avoid his society mother’s machinations. It would be a perfect escape, except for the oaf of a football player cutting him glares from across the room. 

When Laurie has a ballroom dancing emergency and Ed stands in as his partner, their perceptions of each other turn upside down. Dancing leads to friendship, being friends leads to becoming lovers, but most important of all, their partnership shows them how to heal the pain of their pasts. Because with every turn across the floor, Ed and Laurie realize the only escape from their personal demons is to keep dancing—together. 
Samuel, Springville Road


Texas Pride by Kindle Alexander (not available in the PLJC system)
When mega movie star and two time Academy Award winner, Austin Grainger voluntarily gave up his dazzling film career, his adoring fan base thought he’d lost his mind. For Austin, the seclusion of fifteen hundred acres in the middle of Texas sounds like paradise. No more cameras, paparazzi, or overzealous media to hound him every day and night. Little did the sexiest man alive know when one door closes, another usually opens. And Austin’s opened by way of a sexy, hot ranch owner right next door. 

Kitt Kelly wasn’t your average rancher. He’s young, well educated and has hidden his sexuality for most of his life. When his long time wet dream materializes as his a new neighbor it threatens everything he holds dear. No way the ranching community would ever accept him if he came out. With every part of his life riding on the edge, can Kitt risk it all for a chance at love or will responsibility to his family heritage cost him his one chance at happiness?
Samuel, Springville Road


Curious by R. G. Alexander (not available in the PLJC system)
Are you Curious?  Jeremy Porter is. Though the bisexual comic book artist has known Owen Finn for most of his life—long enough to know that he is terminally straight—he can’t help but imagine what things would be like if he weren’t.
Owen is far from vanilla—as a dominant in the local fetish community, he sees as much action as Jeremy does. Lately even more.
Since Jeremy isn’t into collars and Owen isn’t into men, it seems like his fantasies will remain just that forever…until one night when Owen gets curious.
Samuel, Springville Road


Hot Head by Damon Suede (not available in the PLJC system)
Where there's smoke, there's fire... Since 9/11, Brooklyn firefighter Griff Muir has wrestled with impossible feelings for his best friend and partner at Ladder 181, Dante Anastagio. Unfortunately, Dante is strictly a ladies' man, and the FDNY isn't exactly gay-friendly. For ten years, Griff has hidden his heart in a half-life of public heroics and private anguish. Griff's caution and Dante's cockiness make them an unbeatable team. To protect his buddy, there's nothing Griff wouldn't do... until a nearly bankrupt Dante proposes the worst possible solution: HotHead.com, a gay porn website where uniformed hunks get down and dirty. And Dante wants them to appear there-together. Griff may have to guard his heart and live out his darkest fantasies on camera. Can he rescue the man he loves without wrecking their careers, their families, or their friendship?
Samuel, Springville Road


Try by Ella Frank (not available in the PLJC system)
Try – verb: to make an attempt or effort to do something or in this case…someone. Sex. Logan Mitchell loves it, and ever since he realized his raw sexual appeal at a young age, he has had no problem using it to his advantage. Men and women alike fall into his bed—after all, Logan is not one to discriminate. He lives by one motto—if something interests you, why not just take a chance and try? And he wants to try Tate Morrison. Just coming out of a four-year marriage with an ex-wife from hell, a relationship is the last thing on Tate’s mind. He’s starting fresh and trying to get back on his feet with a new job at an upscale bar in downtown Chicago. The only problem is, Tate has caught the unwavering and unwelcome attention of Mr. Logan Mitchell – a regular at the bar and a man who always gets what he wants. Night after night Tate fends off the persistent advances of the undeniably charismatic man, but after an explosive moment in the bar, all bets are off as he finds his body stirring with a different desire than his mind. As arrogance, stubbornness and sexual tension sizzles between the two, it threatens to change the very course of their lives. Logan doesn’t do relationships. Tate doesn’t do men. But what would happen if they both just gave in and…tried?
Samuel, Springville Road


Frontline: Growing Up Trans (dvd)
Go on an intimate and eye-opening journey inside a new frontier. Told from the perspective of parents, doctors, and, most revealing of all, eight transgender kids themselves, ranging in ages from 9 to 19, FRONTLINE takes a powerful look at this new generation, exploring the medical possibilities, struggles, and choices transgender kids and their families face today.
Samuel, Springville Road


The Word is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives: Conversations with 26 Gay Men and Women (dvd)
A moving montage scrapbook of the lives of twenty-six gay men and lesbian women, representing a wide range of lifestyles, personalities, races, and ages. From the directors of 'Absolutely Positive.'
Samuel, Springville Road


Red Without Blue (dvd)
"Although the Farleys' trials have the makings of a soap opera envisioned by David Cronenberg, there's a quiet emotional hush to "Red Without Blue" that keeps tabloid prurience at bay and finds mystery and painful beauty in the unshakeable bonds of family."--Robert Abele, LA Times RED WITHOUT BLUE is an artistic and groundbreaking portrayal of gender, identity, and the unswerving bond of twinship despite transformation. An honest portrayal of a family in turmoil, RWB follows a pair of identical twins as one transitions from male to female. Captured over a period of three years, the film documents the twins and their parents, examining the Farley's struggle to redefine their family. The twins' early lives were quintessentially all-American: picture-perfect holidays, supportive parents who cheered them on every step of the way. By the time they were 14, their parents had divorced, they had come out as gay, and a joint suicide attempt precipitated a forced separation of Mark and Alex for two and half years. Through candid and extensive interviews with the twins and their family, RED WITHOUT BLUE recounts these troubled times, interweaving the twins' difficult past with their efforts to find themselves in the present. The film follows the painful steps of Clair's transition, including electrolysis and the difficult decision to proceed with bottom surgery. Through its portrayal of these articulate and independent twins, each haunted by the painful experiences of their adolescence, the film questions normative standards of gender and identity as Mark and Clair reassert their indescribable bond as identical twins. Through the power of the Farleys' voices, we hear the story of a family's redemption from a dark past, and ultimately, its revival to the present.
Samuel, Springville Road


As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl by John Colapinto
In 1967, after a twin baby boy suffered a botched circumcision, his family agreed to a radical treatment that would alter his gender. The case would become one of the most famous in modern medicine and a total failure. As Nature Made Him tells the extraordinary story of David Reimer, who, when finally informed of his medical history, made the decision to live as a male. A macabre tale of medical arrogance, it is first and foremost a human drama of one man's and one family's amazing survival in the face of terrible odds.
Holley, Mountain Brook


Mislaid by Nell Zink
A sharply observed, mordantly funny, and startlingly original novel from an exciting, unconventional new voice—the author of the acclaimed The Wallcreeper—about the making and unmaking of the American family that lays bare all of our assumptions about race and racism, sexuality and desire.
Stillwater College in Virginia, 1966. Freshman Peggy, an ingénue with literary pretensions, falls under the spell of Lee, a blue-blooded poet and professor, and they begin an ill-advised affair that results in an unplanned pregnancy and marriage. The two are mismatched from the start—she’s a lesbian, he’s gay—but it takes a decade of emotional erosion before Peggy runs off with their three-year-old daughter, leaving their nine-year-old son behind.
Worried that Lee will have her committed for her erratic behavior, Peggy goes underground, adopting an African American persona for her and her daughter. They squat in a house in an African-American settlement, eventually moving to a housing project where no one questions their true racial identities. As Peggy and Lee’s children grow up, they must contend with diverse emotional issues: Byrdie deals with his father’s compulsive honesty; while Karen struggles with her mother’s lies—she knows neither her real age, nor that she is “white,” nor that she has any other family.
Years later, a minority scholarship lands Karen at the University of Virginia, where Byrdie is in his senior year. Eventually the long lost siblings will meet, setting off a series of misunderstandings and culminating in a comedic finale worthy of Shakespeare.
Maura, Trussville


Crooked Letter i: Coming Out in the South ed. by Connie Griffin
Crooked Letter i offers a collection of first-person nonfiction narratives that reflect the distinct coming out experiences of a complex cross-section of gay, lesbian, and transgendered Southerners from all walks of life and at different stages in their lives.

There is the Appalachian widower who, following the death of his wife, decides it's time to tell his church community. There is the young man who left his hometown as a girl, returning hesitant but hopeful for his grandmother s love. There is the adolescent girl who refuses to surrender her soul to Jesus because she is not yet certain of her own beliefs. There is the well-mannered Southern gentleman who hopes his blueberries and biscuits will help ease the awkwardness of coming out to his elderly neighbor. There are the ones who survived the frequent bar raids, arrests, and beatings. But, there is also the first kiss, and the first love.

The experiences represented here pivot around a central theme finally finding language to understand one s identity, and then discovering we were never the only ones. Revealing a vibrant cross-section of Southerners, the writers of these narratives have in common the experience of being Southern and different, but determined against all odds.
Maura, Trussville


Carrington (dvd)
Written and directed by Academy Award winner Christopher Hampton (Dangerous Liaisons) and starring two-time Academy Award winner Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility) and Jonathan Pryce (Evita), Carrington is an "emotionally complex, moving" (Los Angeles Times) tale of lifelong love with unorthodox compromises, that is utterly enthralling entertainment! Amid the trendy, bohemian scene of London's famed Bloomsbury group, Dora Carrington (Thompson), a talented young artist, first meets bon vivant and writer Lytton Strachey (Pryce). The two creative souls are instantly attracted, although Strachey's desires clearly lie elsewhere. The unlikely pair joyously spends colorful days pursuing their arts and discovering that love works in mysterious ways. But their blissful existence hangs in the balance when Carrington brings home a lover and they suddenly find themselves caught within a bizarre love triangle. As conflicting passions heat to a boiling point, will true love triumph or will Carrington lose her one and only soul mate forever?
Mary Anne, BPL Southern History


Harold & Maude by Colin Higgins
Nineteen-year-old Harold Chasen is obsessed with death. He fakes suicides to shock his self-obsessed mother, drives a hearse, and attends funerals of complete strangers. Seventy-nine-year-old Maude Chardin, on the other hand, adores life. She liberates trees from city sidewalks and transplants them to the forest, paints smiles on the faces of church statues, and "borrows" cars to remind their owners that life is fleeting-here today, gone tomorrow! A chance meeting between the two turns into a madcap, whirlwind romance, and Harold learns that life is worth living, and how to play the banjo. Harold and Maude started as Colin Higgins's master's thesis at UCLA Film School. He was working as a pool boy when Paramount purchased the script. The 1971 film, directed by Hal Ashby, bombed. But then this quirky, dark comedy began being shown on college campuses and at midnight-movie theaters, and it gained a loyal cult following. In 1997 it was selected for inclusion on the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress. Colin Higgins was a screenwriter, director, and producer of films that included Harold and Maude, Silver Streak, 9 to 5, and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. He died in 1988.
Jon, Avondale


Breach of Promise by Anne Perry
In a sensational breach-of-promise suit, two wealthy social climbers are suing on behalf of their beautiful daughter, Zillah. The defendant is Zillah’s alleged fiancé, brilliant young architect Killian Melville, who adamantly declares that he will not, cannot,marry her. Utterly baffled by his client’s refusal, Melville’s counsel, Sir Oliver Rathbone, turns to his old comrades in crime—William Monk and nurse Hester Latterly. But even as they scout London for clues, the case suddenly and tragically ends, in an outcome that no one—except a ruthless murderer—could have foreseen.
Mary Anne, BPL Southern History


The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham by Selina Hastings
W. Somerset Maugham was one of the richest, most prolific, and famous authors of his day, penning a staggering number of novels, plays, short stories, travelogues, and articles over the course of his life, many of which gained multiple film adaptations.  While his professional life was a success, his personal life was much more tumultuous.  He preferred the company of men, but was drawn to beautiful women too, eventually marrying and fathering a child.  He did not stay with his family however, and spent the majority of his time traveling with his male lovers throughout exotic locations like Malaya, Borneo, and Singapore.  He rarely stayed in England much, not wishing for the same fate as imprisoned Oscar Wilde, but his time spying for the British during both world wars kept him equally busy and away from an unhappy marriage.  Hastings' fascinating biography pulls together many previously unseen sources newly available (at the time) on this great author, spy, and critic.
Holley, Mountain Brook



The Rat Queens
Who are the Rat Queens? A pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire, and they're in the business of killing all god's creatures for profit. It's also a darkly comedic sass-and-sorcery series starring Hannah the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric and Betty the Hippy Smidgen Thief. This modern spin on an old school genre is a violent monster-killing epic that is like Buffy meets Tank Girl in a Lord of the Rings world on crack!

 Jon, Avondale

FOR FURTHER READING

The ALA Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Round Table (est. 1970)

The Stonewall Book Awards

Rainbow Book List: GLBTQ Books for Children & Teens

Over the Rainbow: LGBT Reading List for Adult Readers

The Lamda Literary Awards

The Advocate: 30 Best Books You Missed in 2015