August 2013 Archives

Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford


Fans of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet will fall in love with Jamie Ford's storytelling all over again with Songs of Willow Frost, set in Seattle during the 1920s and the Great Depression. William Eng is twelve years old and remembers his mothers love, but now he resides at Sacred Heart Orphanage. He doesn't know why his mother gave him up as that information is withheld by the orphanage, but when they take a field trip to the movies he becomes certain that the actress, Willow Frost, is his long lost mother, Liu Song.

When he finds out she will be performing in Seattle, he and his best friend Charlotte (who is blind and resolute that she'll never return to her father) run away from the orphanage to the mean streets of the Depression-era city. But when he finds Willow, he learns that the past is much more complicated than he realized.

Liu Songs story is interwoven with that of William; she is a beautiful girl who was left with a terrible stepfather and his abrasive wife, when her own mother died. A fetching Chinese man with ties to the Peking opera inpsires Liu to dream of a better future, but being an unwed Asian mother in the 1920s is truly an obstacle to her success.

Jacki @ Central

Steve McCurry: The Iconic Photographs

"I have wondered which is the most remarkable photograph I have seen in 30 years of National Geographic. Now I know: that of the Afghan refugee on the front cover of the June 1985 issue--magic."

--National Geographic letter to the editor, October 1985.


It is fitting that the last roll of Kodachrome film was given to Steve McCurry. The Magnum photographer is best known for his photo of the "Afghan Girl" that has become a National Geographic icon. The Iconic Photographs is a large coffee table book loaded with his striking photos that capture the stunning colors of South Asia, its people, life and landscapes. His magical eye for striking compositions led to the "Taj and Train" and "A Tailor in a Monsoon" to join the "Afghan Girl" on three memorable National Geographic covers in one year. A few of the photos are two-page spreads almost as large as photos exhibited at art museums. The only drawbacks to this book are the captions are in the back and its size. If it was a little smaller, I'd buy it.

Van Lingle Mungo @ Central

Jean Michel Basquiat

To paraphrase Whitman, we wend the shores we know, although our brains are wired to confuse the real and symbolic. This conceptual metaphor characterizes the work and existence of my idol, the nonpareil painter Jean-Michel Basquiat.


His rise and fall was rapid, dramatic, and emblematic of the 1980's. He was the sovereign king of the neo-expressionist tradition, the artistic genius of my generation. He was a generous and very funny lad, a poet, and an art collector's dream. In a celebrated photograph, he is seated on a stately wooden chair, dressed in Armani, his locks forming a crown around his head. The photograph conjures up the incarnation of a regal spirit from an interstellar mystical realm-- which is apt, because he painted like an angel.

Basquiat used paint, oil sticks, ink, and pastels on canvases, shipping pallets, doors, window frames, refrigerators, and wooden boxes. His paintings are huge and full of sound: they buzz and shriek and sing. Basquiat's iconography included the heroes of sports, boxing, music, and history who entered into his personal pantheon and remained there. There is an immediate message in each of Basquiat's paintings, combining text with an insurgence of color.


"Cabeza", 1982
From Basquiat

None perish as abruptly as the precocious. Basquiat was just beginning to grapple with the contradictions of success and his complicated beginnings (aren't they all?), when he died of a heroin overdose at 27. Jay-Z wrote a chapter for him in Decoded, noting that Basquiat painted "royalty, heroism, and the streets". How fortunate that we can relish Basquiat's work in the books and dvds owned by Milwaukee Public libraries.

Jane Michelle @ King Library

Totally Sweet 90's


"It's not a toomah." - If that phrase means anything to you, pick up a copy of The Totally Sweet 90s: From Clear Cola to Furby, and Grunge to Whatever: The Toys, Tastes, and Trends That Defined a Decade by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper and Brian Bellmont. The book lists, in alphabetical order, things that will help jog your memory of living in the 90s. It also lists a status for each item (Jerry Springer is still on and has over 3600 episodes), and a fun fact, (Lisa Frank is a real person and her children are named Hunter Green and Forrest Green).

It was a lot of fun to be reminded of my favorite Nickelodeon shows and how much clear cola I drank. Overall I was able to "remember" most items listed, though it did list more than its fair share of Saturday Night Live skits. I think this book would be perfect to read with friends while discussing your favorite memories; entries are broad enough so those who came of age in the 90s and well as those born in the 90s will find something to bring a smile to their face.

Meredith @ Central

Man Of Steel: Inside The Legendary World Of Superman by Daniel Wallace

man of steel.jpg

Since his 1938 debut in comic books, Superman's alien origins and down to earth personality have captivated fans of all ages. Man Of Steel: Inside The Legendary World Of Superman takes fans through the recreation of the Superman myth for the recently released Man of Steel movie starring Henry Cavill. The writers, directors and producers needed to decide what parts of Superman image and story to keep and what to change. They also had to make decisions about casting, costumes, sets, locations, visual effects, technology, and more. This books describes the process and planning required to create a movie on such a grand scale. In addition there are countless pages of beautiful drawings, photographs and interviews given by many of the of the people involved with this massive cinematic adventure.

Man Of Steel : Inside The Legendary World Of Superman is available to be checked out at three libraries. A fourth copy is kept at the Central Library in the Art, Music and Recreation department as a reference item that can only be viewed in person.

Submitted by Valerie @ Central

Self Inflicted Wounds by Aisha Tyler

selfinflictedwounds.jpegAisha Tyler is a very funny woman. You might know her as the voice of Lana on the animated series Archer, or the current host of Whose Line is it Anyway?, or one of the panelists on The Talk, but you should now know her as the author of the excellent book Self Inflicted Wounds. The subtitle for this hilarious and meaningful exercise in schadenfreude is "Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation", which gives you an idea of what sort of personal exploits Aisha shares throughout the book. From horribly harming herself by playing on a dangerously broken hobby horse to setting an apartment on fire to joining an a capella group in college (long, long before the days of Glee making a capella slightly more socially acceptable) , each event is told with vivid detail, liberal applications of self-awareness, and a genuine sense of humor about it all.

The one thing you won't find, however, is a cautionary tale. That is not the point Aisha tries to make at all, in fact. She willingly bares her soul and her moments of extreme foolishness and stupidity to show how each incident helped shape her, refine her, and make her into what she is today. The book is a giant endorsement for going out, grabbing life by the horns, and seeing what happens. The mistakes, the pain, the embarrassment are all temporary, and a life lived is the only way to know how you actually want to be living. The book is highly recommended to anyone and everyone with a pulse and a sense of humor, though those readers with an aversion to salty language may want to pass.

Tim @ Central

Central Reads


Belle Epoque, set in late 1800's Paris, is a debut young adult novel by Elizabeth Ross that was inspired by Emile Zola's short story Les Repoussoir. Maude Pinchon, fleeing an arranged marriage, escapes to Paris only to find life there comes with its own hardships and heartaches. In order to survive, she takes a job as a repoussoir, a young woman hired for her ugliness and used to highlight the beauty of her client. Maude's first client is Isabel, a headstrong young woman, who is unaware that Maude has been hired by her mother. As Maude's friendship with Isabel grows, Maude is forced to choose between her growing friendship with Isabel and her own survival.

Laura @ Central

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

The shocking death of supermodel Lula Landry filled the tabloid sheets for months. Though her death was ruled a suicide by police, her brother John Bristow is convinced she was murdered. So he hires an obscure private detective by the name of Cormoran Strike to find out the truth. Strike, a war hero and the illegitimate son of a famous rock star, is skeptical that a crime has been committed but needs the business badly. Strike and his assistant Robin make and fake their way through London's high society of fashion designers, pop stars and endless paparazzi to uncover what really happened to the young woman who seemingly had everything going for her.

Robert Galbraith's cuckooscalling.jpegfirst novel was published in early 2013 with little fanfare but immediately jumped up the bestseller lists when the author's true identity was revealed: J.K. Rowling! This now second attempt of hers at working outside the confines of Hogwarts (after last year's The Casual Vacancy) is a light but intriguing foray into the mystery genre. It's a good beach read to enjoy in the waning days of summer.

Brett @ Central

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan


In comedian Jim Gaffigan's Dad is Fat, he reflects on his journey to become a father and the adventures he's had with his wife and five children. He begins his collection of essays by telling of his single days and how he viewed couples with children, "I often view other parents the way I view other comedians. I have great respect for them, but I always assume they are crazy. I'm usually right."

I decided to read this after a coworker handed the book to me and told me to read the chapter entitled A Critical Analysis of Children's Literature. As a children's librarian I'm usually skeptical when people poke fun at great children's books, but it was very amusing! He covers many topics, from child birth to Santa Claus, in his clean, dry sense of humor which any audience would enjoy. This is the funniest book I have read in a long time.

Katharina @ Central Library Children's Room

Le Corbusier Le Grand


Charles-Édouard Jeanneret(1887-1965), or Le Corbusier as he was known after 1920, was a prolific architect, writer, and artist including drawings, watercolors, paintings, photographs, sculptures and furniture. His influences were many as he lived, traveled and studied in Switzerland, Italy, Germany, France, Russia, Istanbul, India, Greece and even South America. In Le Corbusier Le Grand you will find photographs from all periods of Le Corbusier's life, sketches from his earliest studies to the plans of his later architectural masterpieces, business and personal correspondence, newspaper articles, pamphlets he wrote and much more. This hefty book is an in-depth look into a visionary's life and his extensive works. If this massive book peeks your interest for more there is currently an exhibit at the MoMA, the Modern Museum of Art, in New York, NY, conceived by guest curator Jean-Louis Cohen - Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes.

Le Corbusier Le Grand is only available as a reference item and can only be viewed in person. It cannot be checked out. You are most welcome to enjoy this beautiful book at the Central Library in the Art, Music and Recreation department.

Valerie @ Central

Central Reads


The meaning of Chan is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyana, which can be approximately translated into English as meditation or meditative state. In Essential Chan Buddhism, Chan Master Guo Jun carries on the legacy of his teacher, Master Sheng Yen, in what is essentially Chinese Zen. Though Japanese Zen, Chan and the Korean counterpart, Son, all share the same depth of practice and basic tenets which are rooted in Buddhism, each has its own style of delivery. Master Jun shows how Chan is deeply rooted in Chinese culture and in many ways has been informed by Confucianism and certain aspects of Taoism. For example, China, having been deeply invested in the Confucian value of industriousness, would not have supported its holy men as wandering beggars as was the practice in India - instead, early on Chan monasteries established an agrarian lifestyle that allowed their monastics to support themselves. In essence, the language of farming also became the language of meditation.

In much the same way that Master Jun provides a cultural context for Chan, he teaches its basic principles and practices in an example-rich manner that is very accessible, without bogging the reader down in a stream of Sanskrit terminology. When he does use classic terms for major concepts, like bodhicitta, he does not assume that the reader knows what it means, he tells you that it is a vow of great compassion. In fact, each chapter is short and tackles a single concept in a way that leaves the reader with a clear understanding of the material covered. Master Jun's writing style speaks volumes to the mental clarity that can be obtained through practicing Chan, so if you've been looking for a good primer on meditation but have been discouraged by more academic works on the subject, this book is an excellent place to begin.

John S @ Central

Good Poems; edited by Garrison Keillor

There is so much poetry in the world; breaking into the world of reading it can be really difficult! Old, new, conceptual, rhyming, short, epic - poetry basically covers all the adjectives. Sometimes it can be a real slog trying to get through a poetry book, no matter how much you like the poet or the poetry, because reading a bunch of someone's work right in a row can be a little exhausting. Enter: the poetry compilation.

Garrison Keillor hosts an entirely enjoyable week-daily radio piece/podcast called The Writer's Almanac. Each episode clocks in around a mere 5 minutes long, making it an unobtrusive addition to your daily listening. The first half is literary and historical information about that day in history and the second half is a poem. From the archives of these shows he has put together several poetry compilations that are absolutely perfect for the novice poetry-reader. They are Good Poems, Good Poems for Hard Times, and Good Poems American Places. They are a very eclectic mix of poems organized along themes, and the poems vary greatly in style, length, and tone. There are some terrifically funny poems and some absolutely devastating ones too. If there's one you don't like, you can just move on to the next. That's the beauty of a compilation!

My personal favorite of these three is Good Poems for Hard Times. The poets range from old favorites Walt Whitman and Edna St. Vincent Millay to new favorites Barbara Hamby and Maxine Kumin. They're organized in earnest and poignant chapters such as "This Lust of Tenderness," "Let It Spill," and "Such as It Is More or Less." My personal copy has little flags throughout for all the poems I love reading when I'm not feeling so great. I can always flip through and find the right one that hits the spot.

Allie @ Central

Central Reads


Most parents have the same dinner time complaints: my child will not eat what I make and I do not want to be a short order cook. That's where Weelicious: 140 Fast, Fresh, and Easy Recipes by Catherine McCord comes in.

This cookbook offers a range of healthy recipes that everyone in your family will eat. I know, because I have tried most of them on my family. The cookbook includes recipes for everything from baby food to breakfast to dessert. My favorite has been the breakfast section, which includes a number of very easy to make recipes. Also included, is information on freezing recipes and how to get your kids involved in preparation. McCord is very into healthy eating and her commentary can be a bit eye-roll inducing at times, but I have been very impressed with how tasty these healthy recipes are and how they include ingredients the typical kitchen will have.

Meredith @ Central

Whatcha Readin' @ East Library

Ever wonder what the library staff are reading? Here's a snapshot of what's currently being read by workers at the Temporary East location (2430 N. Murray Ave.):

Exterior Temp Site_crop.jpg


Margaret: Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan and Girl Genius by Phil & Kaja Foglio

Sophie: Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism by James Loewen.

Beth: Y: The Last Man, Vol. 4: Safeword by Brian K. Vaughan and The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan

Rachel: Half way through today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 2013 National Geographic Magazine and the July issue of Milwaukee Magazine.


Harper: Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity by David Lynch and Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski

Danielle: Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception by Eoin Colfer, Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger and Ayako by Osamu Tezuka

Watch for future lists of what the staff at the branch locations are reading!

Villard Square Reads

When faced with substantial change, there is often a desire to move, sometimes to run away from the change. But some choose a deeper journey, having elements of both inward and outward growth.


Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment by Katrina Kenison begins with several big shocks - the death of a close friend, the departure of one son to college and the late adolescent struggles of another son. Kenison, an admitted homebody, is faced with a much emptier home, much sooner than she anticipated. As she faces these challenges of midlife, she explores yoga and reiki, but also turns her energies outward. She organizes her friends and community in memory of her departed friend and also reconnects with her college classmates. I enjoyed her revisiting of the many places, people and experiences that created the person she is today, and her reflections on the future.


In Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-daughter Story by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor, outward journeys reflect the inner transformation. Kidd and Taylor travel together to locations focusing on the eternal feminine, seeking out iconography of the Virgin Mary, Athena, and, perhaps unsurprisingly in a mother-daughter memoir, the story of Demeter and Persephone. Along the way, both mother and daughter express their concerns about being ready for the changes ahead, whether graduate school and marriage, or new careers, health changes, and ultimately, mortality. This book covers the time that Sue Monk Kidd was writing The Secret Life of Bees, another story containing both external and internal journeys.

To my mind, summer is often a time for reassessment, reflection, perhaps some travel, or maybe just a few days of leisure to try a new hobby or pick up a new idea from a book, magazine or blog. Hopefully, there's a chance to realign ourselves with our expectations of ourselves. In these waning days of summer, consider an inward or outward journey of your own.

Kirsten @ Villard Square

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays

loveminus80.jpegAfter a devastating break-up, broadcast publicly for hundreds to view online, Rob does what so many would do - he goes and has a few drinks to drown his sorrows. Then, in perhaps not the clearest of mind, he drives home and things go from bad to worse as he hits a jogger with his vehicle, killing her nearly instantly.

But in this not-so-far-off future, there is a glimmer of hope (or at least something more sinister, masquerading as hope). The woman, Winter, is placed in a cryogenic freezer and put in a "dating center" where women literally await a second chance at life if a multimillionaire agrees to marry them and pay the extremely high cost of their medical resurrections. Driven by his grief to pay the exorbitant price to go on a five-minute 'date' with Winter in order to apologize, Rob finds himself dedicating his life to scraping together the money to continue to awaken Winter for these brief periods where she gets to be alive again (even if he could never possibly hope to afford her more permanent resuscitation).

This is the start of Will McIntosh's Love Minus Eighty, a story that may be predicated on fantastical technology but resonates with very real and very true human emotion. Exploring love in a digital, always-connected yet-always-disconnecting age, McIntosh also deftly weaves in the politics of power in relationships romantic, familial, and friendly, as well as strong themes about the roles society forces upon women. This book is highly recommended to anyone who likes their sci-fi with a strong heart and a keen observing eye. Check it out from your local library today, or maybe one of McIntosh's earlier works!

Tim @ Central

Big Brother by Lionel Shriver

Big Brother by Lionel Shriver.jpgThe newest novel by Orange Prize winner Lionel Shriver is an emotional portrait of a brother and sister bound by the vow to lose weight at any cost. When Edison comes to visit Pandora, she is shocked to see he has gained so much weight that he is unrecognizable as the svelte New York jazz pianist she was always proud to know. Edison's extended visit home strains relations in Pandora's family, when her orthorexic husband and teenage step-children watch with horror as Edison glibly self destructs with food. Pandora decides that her choices are to either accept the role of enabler while Edison descends on her pantry like a plague of locusts until he leaves, or to intervene and assist him in losing the hundreds of pounds he has gained since she last saw him. The anger between Pandora's husband, Fletcher, and Edison is palpable as they rival for her time and attention, fraying the bonds of Pandora and Fletcher's marriage. Shriver's characters in Big Brother are not as dark as those in We Need to Talk About Kevin, but her examinations of how we view obesity and and the personal strain it causes for those affected are thoughtful and nuanced. And, of course, there's a shock for readers at the end of this page turner.

Anna @ Central

Central Reads


Baseball is a sport full of numbers, from batting averages to strikeouts, but what about less commonly known calculations and data? For example, how much space would all the baseballs used in one season cover? Or, what is the total cost of stolen bases in a regular season if they were actually stolen? And, how high is Alex Rodriguez's salary if his pay were stacked up as pennies on top of the world?

Well, Craig Robinson explores these quirky facts and many more in his book Flip Flop Fly Ball: An Infographic Baseball Adventure. Chocked full of fun, colorful charts, graphs, and drawings, Robinson takes his unique observations of the sport to a new level by providing readers with less commonly known information about games, teams, players, stadiums, and uniforms.

While standard statistics may be used to summarize the typical nuances of ball games and players, the entertaining enumerations of Flip Flop Fly Ball make for an amusing and engaging read for everyone from the biggest baseball fan to the casual spectator to non-fans alike. You won't catch a reader napping with this book... Check it out today!

Hayley @ Central

Treasures of the Rare Books Room: The American Woods

One of the unsung treasures of the Krug Rare Books Room is a set of volumes that contain 1,054 paper thin wood samples of 354 species of North American trees. Romeyn Beck Hough began publishing The American Woods: exhibited by actual specimens and with copious explanatory text in 1888, and he completed 13 volumes before his death. His daughter Marjorie Galloway Hough published the fourteenth and final volume in 1928.


Some trees common at the time are now rare, making this set an extremely valuable scientific record. Hough invented and patented a specialized slicer to obtain the samples with the unlikely title of "Wooden Card for Business and Other Purposes." Obviously one important purpose was to obtain samples for his amazing record of North American trees!

If you are interested in viewing this unique set of books, call the Art, Music and Recreation Department at 414-286-3071 to arrange a visit.

Patricia DeFrain, Rare Books Librarian @ MPL Central

Central Reads


I loved The World's Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne for many reasons! The author's stories of working in the Salt Lake City public library system rang true with my own library experiences. He articulates so beautifully the reasons that libraries are important and relevant to society. But more importantly this is a touching and candid memoir of the author's life journey as a man with Tourette Syndrome and how he learned to cope with its effects on his way to being an appreciative husband, concerned and loving father, faithful son and awesome librarian. The title refers to the author's use of weight training as a way of dealing with Tourette Syndrome. It offers the most beautiful portrait of a supportive set of parents that I've ever read. It touches honestly on his questions about his faith and gave me some insights into the Mormon church. I'm going to follow his blog to keep up with this wonderfully decent human being.

Pat @ Central

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays


Come one, come all! The Carniepunk Midway promises you every thrill and chill a traveling carnival can provide. But fear not! Urban fantasy's biggest stars are here to guide you through Carniepunk, this strange and dangerous world...

Cold Girl by Rachel Caine (author of the Morganville Vampires series, and the Weather Warden series, among others) is about a teenage girl who becomes a victim when her first love betrays her and she has to decide whether or not to get revenge. The result is sad, disturbing and intense.

Naturally, there has to be a creepy clown and Jennifer Estep's (author of the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series) Parlor Tricks does the job. Gin Blanco, also known as the Spider, tries to find a link between an Air Elemental who is the star of a knife-throwing act and a missing girl.

Allison Pang, in A Duet with Darkness, introduces an overconfident young fiddler who borrows an enchanted instrument, by pawning her soul. The music she performs at a carnival show is capable of attracting the Other Folk.

The destiny of a sociopath who is stalking young carnies is exposed in Rob Thurman's (author of the supernatural thriller All Seeing Eye, the Trickster Novels, and much more) Painted Love.

The combination of fantasy and horror elements means readers of several genre tastes will find stories to their liking and anyone who's ever been haunted by their reflection in a funhouse mirror will be creepily satisfied.

Jacki @ Central

Central Reads


"Here's mud in your eye"

Reading that simple line in Dorothy Parker's semi autobiographical 1929 short story Big Blonde pretty much sums up the life and work of a woman who could slice and dice American culture to shreds with the sharpness of her wit and the slashing of her words (not to mention the egos of a few men she knew--look out Norman Mailer!).

Dorothy Parker is most often remembered for her quotes and drunken brashness and open honesty about love and sex during the heart of the Jazz Age. She was also a celebrated member of the Algonquin Round Table in Manhattan whee her booze soaked luncheons with other New York literary royalty were often filled with festivity and fizz. It was the 1920's and flappers were flying, Gatsby was Great, and the Sun was Rising on Hemingway's career. It was also primetime for Dorothy Parker.

The Portable Dorothy Parker is simply a goldmine of Parker poetry, prose, stories and letters. Her review of Dashiell Hammett's The Glass Key that appeared in a 1931 New Yorker is simply the funniest book review I've ever read. Describing Hammett she says, "It is true he is so hard-boiled you could roll him on the White House lawn." Wow.

Parker was a poet of such incredibly acerbic wit that I relish re-reading her works so I can etch the dust from the lobes of my brain. For instance, she says in a poem titled Oscar Wilde:

If, with the literate, I am

Impelled to try an epigram,

I never seek to take the credit;

We all assume that Oscar said it.

Pick up The Portable Dorothy Parker with steel-mesh gloves because these words can cut--but they're more like slicing a prime cut of tenderloin than skimming fat off pork-bellies. Forget about her ban from Hollywood and her claims of communism and look instead into the words of a brilliant and troubled woman who shot from the hip and hit between the eyes.

Living well is the best revenge. --Dorothy Parker

Dan @ Central




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