November 2011 Archives

The Big Read--Today at M. L. King

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Join us today, November 30, 2011, at M. L. King Library and hear the novel come to life as excerpts of To Kill A Mockingbird will be read by local actors, students and community volunteers. A moderated discussion about the themes of the novel will follow. The program begins at 1:30 p.m. We hope to see you there!

The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and bring the transformative power of literature into the lives of its citizens. The Big Read in Milwaukee will focus on Harper Lee's American classic To Kill A Mockingbird.

For a complete list of Big Read programs click here.

Submitted by Jacki @ Central


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Marquette University Libraries and Milwaukee Public Library invite you to the fifth and final event in the fall series "Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women."

"Louisa May Alcott: Documentary and Biography Discussion"

Tuesday, November 29, 6:30 - 7:45 p.m.

Milwaukee Public Library, Central Library

Herzfeld Activity Center, Betty Brinn Children's Room (1st floor)

Marquette professors Angela Sorby and Sarah Wadsworth will screen the second half of the American Masters 2008 documentary film about Alcott and wrap up the entire programming series with a discussion of Harriet Reisen's biography, Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women. We will enjoy a birthday cake to celebrate Alcott's birthday (1832).

Programs in this series are sponsored by the American Library Association with the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities.



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Urban Fiction--Best of 2011

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Heartbreak of a Hustler's Wife by Nikki Turner
Corporate attorney Yarni Taylor has her hands full when someone tries to kill her husband Des and Desember Day, the eighteen-year-old daughter Des never knew he had, shows up at their door.

Street Soldier by Silhouettes
Seventeen-year-old Jamal "Prince" Perkins, a self-proclaimed street soldier, is determined to prove that he is not the father of four babies on the way while planning to get deadly revenge against his algebra teacher Ms. Macklin who spurned his advances.

Eviction Notice by K'wan
While Porsha, Frankie and Sahara try to avoid eviction and get caught up in a crime war, police search for a killer known as The Animal, and The Animal's lover, Gucci, tries to put her life back together.

Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central


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City Of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

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Lina Mayfleet and her family live in the City of Ember, the last known city left after some kind of catastrophe. At least that's what the citizens of Ember believe. Years and years ago, during dangerous and uncertain times, a select group of people where chosen and sent to live in a carefully planned underground city in order to preserve the human race. Those arrangements were meant to be temporary. Now the government strictly rations the dwindling supplies of food and other necessities. The failing generator leaves the people of Ember in the dark more and more often and for longer periods of time. Everyone begins to worry. Lina and her friend Doon Harrow are no exception. Then they discover fragments of a list of instructions on how and when to exit the City of Ember and return to the surface of the Earth. However, not everyone wants to leave Ember. Disbelief, fear and the Mayor's deception stop others from believing that something might exist beyond the City of Ember. Lina and Doon need to decipher the old document quickly, for time is running out. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Valerie @ MPL Central



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Islands of the Damned by R.V. Burgin

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The ranks of surviving WWII veterans are thinning rapidly and I believe it's imperative that the stories of these men and women who served are told and preserved. This book features one of those stories.

R.V. Burgin, who enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1942, has published a harrowing narrative describing his wartime experiences during the brutal Pacific War. Burgin is known as the sergeant of fellow Marine Eugene "Sledgehammer" Sledge, who gained fame for his previously published wartime classic With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa that was the basis for the HBO series The Pacific. Actor Martin McCann portrays Burgin in the miniseries.

But enough about portrayals--Burgin's voice is that of a seasoned combat veteran who rose through the ranks to become a sergeant of a mortar section on Okinawa, where he earned a Bronze Star for valor. Bergin also participated in the assaults on New Britain and bloody Peleliu, amongst other landings as a member of the First Marine Division.

As a historical document, the author's frankness lends credibility to events that Eugene Sledge had previously written about in "With the Old Breed." Burgin unapologetically describes the event of killing his first Japanese soldier by simply stating "He didn't get me. I got him." This is that kind of book. Personal. Brutal. Honest. Compelling. Plus, it's one heck of an exciting story. Burgin's account of the Peleliu landing and subsequent slaughter is a solid testament to every serviceman who set foot on that island.

To read an earlier review of With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa click here.

Submitted by Dan@Central

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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Reves (The Circus of Dreams), and it is only open at night.

In The Night Circus, Celia and Marco, two young magicians, are bound into a duel as children and though they recognize that they are playing a game of sorts, they have no idea that only one can be left standing. The circus is merely the stage for the game, a battle of imagination and strength. That they also cartwheel into a charmed love affair complicates the game even further and leaves the fates of everyone involved hanging in the balance.

Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central


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Happy Thanksgiving!

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The Ghost at the Table by Suzanne Berne

Thanksgiving at the New England home of the second of three sisters marks a reunion between the three Fiske sisters--including Cynthia, the youngest, an author writing a book about Mark Twain's daughters--and their long-estranged father, in a portrait of the unraveling of a family, set against the famous nineteenth-century author's own family dysfunction.

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Strangers at the Feast by Jennifer Vanderbes

Celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday of 2007, three generations of the Olson family struggle with old grudges, personality clashes and the impending economic crisis while two African-American teens from a nearby housing project embark on a mysterious job that culminates in a violent encounter.

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A Catered Thanksgiving by Isis Crawford

When the beautiful Thanksgiving turkey they prepared blows up in their client's face, sending Monty Field to the great dining room in the sky, sisters Bernie and Libby Simmons must convince the Field family that they are not responsible and whip up the real killer.

Reckless by Cornelia Funke

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Although this book appears in the catalogue as a childrens book the story takes place during the main character's mid-twenties thus making it more appealing to young adults and adults. The book jacket warns, "if you're looking for happily ever after, you've come to the wrong place." Readers will find that ominous statement to be quite true. Jacob Reckless' father has disappeared into the strange world beyond the mirror that hangs in his home office. After a year of waiting for his father to return, Jacob frequently visits the Mirrorworld with the hope of finding his father. This story, however, centers around a curse that has befallen Will, Jacob's younger brother, who unfortunately followed Jacob on one of his excursions. Jacob journeys across dangerous and bizarre lands meeting witches, dwarves, dragons, shape-shifters and more in an attempt to save Will's mind and body from succumbing to the evil curse. Will Jacob succeed and at what cost?

At the very end of this perilous adventure more bad news is revealed making me wonder if this is just a super depressing ending or if there there will be a sequel.

An aside, I enjoyed listening to the book on CD performed by Elliot Hill.

Submitted by Valerie @ MPL Central



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The autobiographical narrative of Frederick Douglass is as important an American biography that has been written. It is decidedly American in its themes of freedom and bettering ones place in life. It's literally the American Dream personified.
Published in 1845, this stirring record of slavery and the people who perpetrated it is touching, gallant, brave and extremely well written. The voice on paper is of an intelligent man clearly documenting and spearheading the abolitionist movement that sparked the American Civil War a mere 15 years after publication.
The work basically describes the every day life of a slave as experienced by Douglass. It's a brutal piece of literature. But a hopeful one too. I particularly found the passage when Douglass realizes that the pathway to freedom is through education to be thoughtful and relevant. When a kind slave owner taught Douglass his ABC's, he realized illiteracy is the real slave master.
I think modern America could learn something from Douglass's work. The words of this fearless and brilliant man are as poignant today as they ever were. Highly recommended.

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Submitted by Dan@Central



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Thaw by Monica Roe

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Often times it takes a debilitating disease for a person to realize what they have is pretty good. A tingling and numbing in his hands, and excruciating pain floods high school senior and cross country skier Dane's body. Guillain-Barre' Syndrome is a sinister disease that causes paralysis and it hits every inch of Dane, except his eyes. Recovery is possible, but is also slow and painful which gives Dane's arrogance a time to "thaw." Thaw is a remarkable first novel by Monica M. Roe about an unfamiliar disease.

Submitted by Sue @ Tippecanoe


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Nightwoods by Charles Frazier

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It's a fact of life that there is nothing we can do about the parents we are born to and even less the siblings we are related to. Sometimes we get lucky and our siblings marry great people. Sometimes they don't. When we meet Luce, she seems to have adjusted and overcome her parents and the events of her past. In fact, her life seems pretty pleasant and simplistic. She pretty much lives on the food she is able to grow, has simple pleasures and has not fallen prey to the materialistic world around her. Living in the Appalachian foothills, she takes care of a lodge that once upon a time hosted rich families who came to enjoy the summer sun and lake swimming. Her daily life is taken up by maintaining the garden and doing the things around the place that need taking care of. At night she falls asleep to the sound of the only station that comes through, a country station that sings melancholy songs of love. In fact, it's the only way she can get to sleep, its crooning blocking out the vacant sounds of the lodge's past visitors. She figures she's lonely, but only when she's trying to get to sleep. Her tranquil life comes to a screeching halt when she takes her dead sister's children in. Dolores and Frank are like something out of a horror film. She assumes it has to do with the trauma of being a witness to their mother's murder. Every game they play involves kindling and in a few instances, matches. They are stealthily quiet. Did I mention they don't talk? Soon the father comes looking for them. And the grandson of the lodge's owner arrives. Pretty soon, Luce's nights aren't lonely anymore. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Mary S. @ Bay View


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The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

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The baseball season may have ended on a down note in Milwaukee, but at least Wisconsin can lay claim to a great new baseball novel--Racine native Chad Harbach's The Art of Fielding, lauded by big-name literary critics like the New York Times' Michiko Kakutani and #1 on Amazon's Top 100 Books of 2011. Set in the fictional Westish College on the Wisconsin shore of Lake Michigan, it tells the story of Henry Skrimshander, a shortstop prodigy recruited to the school's baseball team by its captain, senior Mike Schwartz. Mike's coaching and advice mold Henry into a bona fide major-league prospect and the team into a top collegiate competitor. Westish College president Guert Affenlight takes a newfound interest in the team due to its recent successes and unexpectedly finds himself infatuated with Mike and Henry's teammate, Owen Dunne. Also woven into the story is Affenlight's daughter, Pella, his prodigal child returning home after a failed marriage and who becomes a romantic interest for both Mike and Henry. You don't have to be a baseball fan to enjoy this moving and gentle novel, and you'll find it just as hard to leave Westish College as it is for the characters.

Submitted by Brett R. @ Washington Park


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To Kill A Mockingbird Screening

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Join us tomorrow, November 19, 2011, at Centennial Hall of the Milwaukee Public Library, 733 N. Eighth Street and watch the novel come to life as we screen the award winning film To Kill A Mockingbird. The free program begins at 1:30 p.m. We hope to see you there!

The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and bring the transformative power of literature into the lives of its citizens. The Big Read in Milwaukee will focus on Harper Lee's American classic To Kill A Mockingbird. For a complete list of Big Read programs click here.

Submitted by Jacki @ Central



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National Book Award Winners 2011

Established in 1950, the National Book Award is an American literary prize given to writers by writers and administered by the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization. 2011 winners include:

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FICTION: Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones

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NONFICTION: Stephen Greenblatt, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern

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YOUNG PEOPLE'S LITERATURE: Thanhha Lai, Inside Out & Back Again
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POETRY: Nikky Finney, Head Off and Split

Submitted by Jacki @ Central


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The Big Read--Tonight at Washington Park

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Join us tonight, November 16, 2011, at Washington Park Library and hear the novel come to life as excerpts of To Kill A Mockingbird will be read by local actors, students and community volunteers. A moderated discussion about the themes of the novel will follow. The program begins at 6:30 p.m. We hope to see you there!

The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and bring the transformative power of literature into the lives of its citizens. The Big Read in Milwaukee will focus on Harper Lee's American classic To Kill A Mockingbird.

For a complete list of Big Read programs click here.

Submitted by Jacki @ Central


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The Big Read--Tonight at Atkinson

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Join us tonight, November 15, 2011, at Atkinson Library and hear the novel come to life as excerpts of To Kill A Mockingbird will be read by local actors, students and community volunteers. A moderated discussion about the themes of the novel will follow. The program begins at 6:30 p.m. We hope to see you there!

The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and bring the transformative power of literature into the lives of its citizens. The Big Read in Milwaukee will focus on Harper Lee's American classic To Kill A Mockingbird.

For a complete list of Big Read programs click here.

Submitted by Jacki @ Central


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A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

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Thirteen year old Conor's life is pretty much hell. His father has moved to America with his new family, his mother is going through yet another round of cancer treatments and his grandmother, who Conor despises, has moved in to help care for his mother. At school he is either ignored or bullied. Even at night, things could not be worse as he has the same horrible nightmare over and over. A nightmare he cannot tell anyone about. Then one night the monster arrives. It isn't the monster he expects, the one from his nightmares. Instead it is a strange, wild monster formed from the yew tree in his back yard. The monster wants to tell Conor three stories and when it is done, Conor must tell the monster a story too, the story of his nightmare.

The idea for A Monster Calls originated with Siobhan Dowd, a young adult author who died of cancer in 2007. Patrick Ness was given the task of taking the concept and characters she created and crafting them into a story. He did this in a haunting, emotional way that will stay with you long after you finish reading. A frightening, heart wrenching tale of loss illustrated by Jim Kay in stunning black and white pictures that perfectly compliment the text. This is a truly beautiful book about monsters real and imagined.

Submitted by Fran @ Bay View


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A World of Thieves by James Carlos Blake

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Set in prohibition era Louisiana and Texas, A World of Thieves is not highbrow literature. In fact, it covers most clichés of the gangster genre and apes scenes straight from other works printed in the pulp mags of the period. But what A World of Thieves lacks for in imagination, it more than makes up for in enthusiasm and just plain FUN. Fun, I mean, if pistol whipping, bad gangster dialogue ("Hands off, buster!") and every character in the book having absolutely no redeeming qualities, is the type of book that floats your boat. My boat was really riding a wave crest as if filled with Styrofoam. It was positively buoyant.
If you are hip to stolen cars and shotgun blasts; delicious dames and devious deception all wrapped inside a warmed West Texas tortilla and fried over a fire of burning bootleg alcohol and the men who made it, then this book is for you.
I can't remember rooting for an 18 year old serial robber, murderer and all around charming guy more than I rooted for main character Sonny LaSalle (wasn't there a Sonny in the Godfather? Hmmm....) as he robs, swindles and drinks his way across the southwest with a pistol tucked into the back of his pants.
This whole book is like a screenplay to an Untouchables episode transplanted to Western Texas. And that is OK with me. I like the Untouchables too.

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Submitted by Dan @ Central



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Following The Water by David M. Carroll

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Following The Water: A Hydromancer's Notebook by David M. Carroll (2009)

In 2006, David Carroll received a MacArthur "Genius" Grant for his life's work as an author, artist and naturalist. Hailing from New Hampshire, he has long studied, documented and simply enjoyed the flora and fauna of local marshes, swamps and rivers. His greatest focus has been monitoring the resident Spotted Turtle and Wood Turtle populations. Following The Water is Carroll's fifth book and continues in the same vein as his previous efforts... slowing one's life down and gaining perspective by appreciating and championing Earth's non-human inhabitants and nature itself. Check catalog for availibility.

- submitted by Tom S. @ MPL Central


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The Dog Who Came in from the Cold by Alexander McCall Smith

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Toward the end of the novel one of the characters reflects: "We should all busy ourselves in being who we are, although many of us do not and spend so much of our time and energy being something else. We try to be what others want us to be, or what we ourselves want to be. And then we suddenly realise that our lives have shot past and we have not got round to being who we really are." The Dog Who Came in from the Cold is about a group of characters readers first met in Corduroy Mansions, living in or near the block of flats by that name in Pimlico. If Seinfeld was the "show about nothing," then in some ways The Dog Who Came in from the Cold is about nothing much more than people busy trying to be themselves. Just how they go about doing this, and how well they succeed at it, or not, is what makes the novels of the entertaining and endlessly inventive Alexander McCall Smith such a joy to read. Freddie de la Hay, the Pimlico terrier owned by William French, is recruited by MI6 and is wired to infiltrate a Russian spy ring. Literary agent Barbara Ragg travels to Scotland to meet her fiance's parents. Caroline sorts out her relationship with James. Dee and Martin take a chance on marketing an herbal "Sudoku remedy." And Berthea Snark intervenes when con artists try to take advantage of her gullible brother. Their lives intersect with apparent randomness, but with meaningful and sometimes comic results when their decisions lead to unintended consequences. Complicated and interconnected plots aside, It is the reflective sides of the characters and their pitch-perfect interior monologues that give their stories depth and vitality. Originally published online, a chapter a day at the Telegraph website, the novel is in the same format as the books in the 44 Scotland Street series. The short, pithy chapters give readers a lot to savor as they enjoy the crisscrossing storylines of a memorable group of people going about their lives.

Submitted by Chris @ Bay View


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10 Secrets of the Laidback Knitters: A Guide to Holistic Knitting, Yarn, and Life by Vicki Stiefel and Lisa Souza

I have a confession: Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover and by its title. When I saw this book, I thought, yes! That's me! I'm a laidback knitter. As my knitting friends will attest, I don't like to frog. I mean really, why put all that effort into knitting to ribbit out??? However, as I soon found out, that is not the essence of this book. Instead, this book is full of little pearls of wisdom and witticisms: Ten secrets that are designed to expand your window of knitting experience and widen your comfort zone. The ten secrets are as follows:
1) Find yourself a wise woman - a wise woman is one who will guide you and offer you their patient years of experience.
2) Discover slow knitting - in other words, discover the joy of working with homegrown fibers that have been hand spun.
3) Become a barefoot sock knitter - the essence of this is that knitters are famous for gifting their creations. Warm feet are sure to keep you pleasantly in someone's mind!
4) Take the color leap of faith - stuck on one particular color? Afraid to make something in a different color than shown in the pattern? This chapter teaches you how to be brave with color.
5) See the souls of fibers - take the time to understand the reason a particular yarn is used in a pattern, and if substituting, understand the components of your fiber and whether or not it will be suitable. A tutorial on fiber is included in this chapter.
6) Listen as the yarn speaks to you - more wisdom on understanding your fiber through hands on.
7) Value the partnership in knitting - the importance of the handshake between the designer and the knitter.
8) Learn to soar patternless - knitting on the fly.
9) Do it with hooks - crochet plays a part in knitting and on its own.
10) Connect the dots - knitting is a social activity.

There are beautiful patterns within this book, including patterns for crochet, a pattern using steel enforced yarn and beads, and other unique and beautiful items. Each pattern is given a symbol to indicate skill level: Recliner - relaxing knitting, suitable for a beginner; Rocking Chair - still relaxing, but you may have to sit up and take notice of what you're doing occasionally; Wing Chair - sit up and pay attention, but you're still in a relaxing chair; Dining Chair - a challenging knit.

There are a couple of sock patterns in this book and they are both marked as being wing chair patterns. Perhaps I should have read this book before attempting my socks - I have been knitting them in a recliner, not a wing chair, and I've been doing a lot of frogging!

Submitted by Mary S. at Bay View


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Habibi by Craig Thompson

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Craig Thompson's graphic novel Habibi is a bittersweet, epic love story centering on Dodola, a child sold into marriage and then into slavery, and Zam an orphaned toddler. Their lives are forever entwined after Dodola escapes from the auction block and takes Zam with her. They end up on a deserted ship in the desert where they survive for nine years on food Dodola mysteriously scavenges from passing caravans. While procuring food one day, Dodola is captured and forced into a Sultan's harem. The story skips forward and backward in time and six years pass before the two are reunited each having had a myriad of life changing experiences along the way. Their story is infused with parallel stories from the Qur'an and the Bible rendered beautifully with lush illustrations and Arabic calligraphy. The 672 pages will fly by and the graphics will take your breath away.

Be sure to catch author and illustrator Craig Thompson at Boswell Books on Wednesday, November 16th at 7:00 p.m.

Submitted by Maria @ Central


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The Big Read--Tonight at Central

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The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and bring the transformative power of literature into the lives of its citizens. The Big Read in Milwaukee will focus on Harper Lee's American classic To Kill A Mockingbird.

Join us tonight, November 8, 2011, at Central Library in the Rare Book Room and hear the novel come to life as excerpts of To Kill A Mockingbird will be read by local actors, students and community volunteers. A moderated discussion about the themes of the novel will follow. The program begins at 6 p.m. We hope to see you there!

For a complete list of Big Read programs click here.

Submitted by Jacki @ Central


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The Mirador by Elisabeth Gille

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I have always had a bit of a fascination with Czar Nicholas and his family and the overthrow of his regime. I have also had an interest in the imprisonment of the Jews during World War II. But neither one of these is actually the main focus of The Mirador: Dreamed Memories of Irene Nemirovsky by Her Daughter, but are merely a part. Irene Nemirovsky (most famously known for her book Suite Francaise) never wrote her memoir. Instead, as the title suggests, Elisabeth Gille, Irene's youngest daughter, wrote her mother's memoir from her own memories and, as she calls it, her dreamed memories. In the book, Έlisabeth is Babet, younger sister to Denise, and is perhaps her mother's favorite, although both children were greatly loved by Nemirovsky.' It is a strange thing to be writing a memoir in the role of someone else, but Gille does it wonderfully, probably due to the closeness between her and her mother. This was an enchanting, and at times, electrifying, book. She aptly describes the beauty and awe that surrounded the Czar and his family in a way I have never read before. Nemirovsky's interest in all things literary is prevalent at an early age, much to her mother's chagrin. In fact, her mother was not enamored with her child at all, seeing her as a hindrance to the social life she longed to adhere to. Gille's (or rather Nemirovsky's) insights into all that was happening, and her fear and desperate attempt to save herself, are a literary experience.

Submitted by Mary S. @ Bay View


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Riders of the Apocalypse by Jackie Morse Kessler

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Hunger is the first book in this series and tells the story of 17 year old Lisbeth and her battle with anorexia. Death comes calling for Lisbeth and gives her the job of Famine, the Black Rider, of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. In this interesting twist on an old story Lisbeth faces her own internal struggle with food when her travels as Famine take her to parts of the world where hunger is a way of life. The prose vividly deals with anorexia and the effects it has on both the individual and the people who love them.

Rage is the second book in this series and is the story of Missy, a cutter, who believes the only release from her pain is the kiss of a razor blade on her flesh. Death comes calling for her and she becomes War, the Red Rider. Missy is a victim of bullying and this book shows how cruel teenagers can be. The story is raw and evokes a wide range of emotions for the reader. Will Missy find her control in the end or let her rage drive her to the blade?

Submitted by Roxanne @ East


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The Mysterious Howling begins with intrepid 15 year old, Penelope Lumley, recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, on her way to take a position as governess at palatial Ashton Place. Once she arrives she realizes why the ad she answered requested someone with "Experience with Animals." Her three charges were only recently found in the woods and were apparently raised by wolves. Penelope has been trained to deal with almost anything and quickly takes the children in hand, convincing them of the need to wear clothes, eat at a table, and keep the howling to a minimum. In addition to the children, Penelope must also deal with her employers, Lady Constance who views the children as uncivilized nuisances and wants them gone and hunt crazed Lord Fredrick who thinks the children are trophies and property ("Finder's keepers, what?"). The mystery of the children's and Penelope's own origins take center stage in this hilarious, tongue in cheek story that will have readers begging for more.

In The Hidden Gallery, Ashton Place is in need of repairs after a disastrous Christmas party so the entire household plans an extended trip to London. Penelope is hoping to further civilize her charges with visits to museums and the theater but the children prove to be not quite ready for London after they attack a Beefeater whose hat they have mistaken for a bear. Penelope carries on though and the children make further strides. But mysterious happenings begin to occur including a fortuneteller who seems to hold some clues to the children's past. With the help of Penelope's old school mistress and a handsome playwright, some questions are answered but more arise.

For children and adults who have been waiting for a predecessor to Lemony Snicket to arrive, The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place will certainly fill a void. These madcap stories will have readers howling with laughter.

Submitted by Fran @ Bay View


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Alexandra Fuller tells the story of her mother's life in this follow up to her 2001 memoir Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood. Her mother, Nicola Huntingford, was born on the Scottish Isle of Skye, moved with her parents to the British colony of Kenya in the 1940s, and has spent most of her life in one part of Africa or another since then, including stays in Rhodesia and most recently on a tilapia farm and banana plantation in Zambia. The "tree of forgetfulness" from the title is a tree in front of their farmhouse in Zambia, which their Zambian neighbor declared to be a tree with ancestors inside it--"'If there is some sickness or if you are troubled by spirits, then you sit under the Tree of Forgetfulness and your ancestors will assist you with whatever is wrong.'" Fuller's narrative is full of ancestors, too, and she frames her reminiscences with conversations she's had with her parents on visits with them, giving the book a casual and personal feel as they talk about parents, grandparents, and other relatives. She examines the details of her mother's life: growing up, courtship, starting a family, the personal tragedies of losing young children to accident and illness by setting them against a backdrop of war, revolutions, and the end of British colonial rule in Africa. There is a refreshing and frank bluntness to the storytelling--like hearing family anecdotes over dinner with no holds barred-- the same style that prompted Nicola to refer to her daughter's earlier memoir as "that awful book." Through it all, the reader comes to know and begins to understand Nicola Fuller, whose life is brought out through a richness of detail and the personal style of her daughter's writing. Reading the earlier book first allows the reader to see some of the events of Fuller's childhood from different perspective--hers as a child-- but Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness stands on its own as a portrayal of a fascinating and heartbreaking life well lived amid difficult and extraordinary times.

Submitted by Chris G. at Bay View


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Simple Times by Amy Sedaris

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Although this book by actress-comedian Amy Sedaris is catalogued with craft books, it is really social commentary as a spoof on crafting. It is low brow, off-color and hilarious. The full title is: Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People. Since our current economy is transforming the formerly middleclass to poor, there ought to be an increasing audience of depressed folks who need a good laugh! Crafts shown include everything from hair tassels on lampshades to cotton balls on popsicle sticks to sewing pink calico bloomers. And, there are recipes for sausages, cheesecake, and fudge.

Sedaris has cultivated the craft of acting, costuming and posing - she can be perky, adorable, glamorous, nerdy, pensive, kitsch, stoned, scary, or downright unattractive. She makes fun of herself and pretty much every one else and their crafts - the impoverished, the elderly, the mentally ill, the religious, the blind, the feeble-minded, the clumsy (especially in the section on safety) and let's not forget - the teenagers.

Special attention is devoted to Stretching Before and After Crafting; Rabbit Proofing Your Home, and gift ideas like a doily seat shield for a nudist. There is a section on Fornicrafting (also known as "making love") performed by Amy with a partner, both attired in very short lemon yellow chenille robes. There's a suggestive photo-essay demonstrating the art of forcefully impaling hotdogs on the tines of a rake so you can roast them in the fireplace. The text is as funny, if not funnier, than the garishly colorful photos. Crack it open to any page, and try not to laugh.

Submitted by Deb @ Bay View


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The Big Read--Tonight at Tippecanoe

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The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and bring the transformative power of literature into the lives of its citizens. The Big Read in Milwaukee will focus on Harper Lee's American classic To Kill A Mockingbird.

Join us tonight, November 2, 2011, at Tippecanoe Library and hear the novel come to life as excerpts of To Kill A Mockingbird will be read by local actors, students and community volunteers. A moderated discussion about the themes of the novel will follow. The program begins at 6 p.m. We hope to see you there!

For a complete list of Big Read programs click here.

Submitted by Jacki @ Central


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Celebrate the Saints!

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In November, Catholics celebrate All Saints/All Souls day. Milwaukee has many churches dedicated to the patronage of saints with feast days in November. Celebrate St. Josaphat on November 12 with John Gurda's wonderful Centennial of Faith: The Basilica of Saint Josaphat, 1888-1988. You could consider the life of St. Martin de Porres on November 3 with the book The Pied Piper of Peru, written by Ann Tompert and illustrated by Kestutis Kasparavicius. Or, you could learn more about St. Charles Borromeo (November 4), St. Catherine of Alexandria (November 25), and many other saints in John J. Delaney's Dictionary of Saints . Also, you could check out this index of saints for info about all the canonized saints and the blessed. My own favorite is, of course St. Jerome, patron saint of librarians!

Submitted by Ephemera @ Villard Square


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