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Boredom Busting Books for Winter Break

By Grace Benedick, Youth Services Library Assistant

How to Code in 10 Easy LessonsWinter break is approaching and although the weather has been mild, the fact remains: winter break means kids cooped up at home. To help keep cabin-fever at bay, come to the library and stock up on some of these fun books with activities for the indoors.

If your kids are crafty, check out some titles from our Arts and Crafts Neighborhood. Given some duct tape and time, your child can make everything from bags to bracelets following the directions in “Sticky Fingers: DIY Duct Tape Projects” by Sophie Maletsky. They can learn the basics of fiber arts in “Knit, Hook, and Spin” by Laurie Carlson, which has sections on felting, knitting, crocheting, spinning, weaving and even dyeing, with simple but fun projects. Noisemakers can use household materials to make musical instruments as outlined in “High-Tech DIY Projects with Musical Instruments” by Maggie Murphy. Fans of Star Wars or the Origami Yoda series will love “Art2-D2’s Guide to Folding and Doodling” by Tom Angleberger, which contains origami and drawing instructions for Star Wars characters.

If your kids are more artsy than crafty, they’ll love “Art Lab for Kids: 52 Creative Adventures in Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Paper, and Mixed Media” by Susan Schwake, which is chock-full of projects and techniques for elementary-grade artists. Her other book, “Art Lab for Little Kids: 52 Playful Projects for Preschoolers!” will keep the little ones busy.

All the diligent LEGO builders can find inspiration in “The Lego Architect” by Tom Alphin, with photos of wonderful LEGO recreations of famous structures and instructions on making some of the simpler buildings. LEGO architects can challenge themselves with the house and vehicle instructions in “The LEGO Adventure Book” by Megan H. Rothrock or “Awesome LEGO Creations with Bricks You Already Have” by Sarah Dees, which has instructions for building everything a LEGO aficionado could want: houses, vehicles, furniture, plants, animals, and even LEGO versions of board games.

Kids can combine screen-time with education, while they learn their first computer coding language, building computer games with the instructions in “Coding in Scratch: Games Workbook” by Jon Woodcock. For older kids, there is “How to Code in 10 Easy Lessons” by Sean McManus, which also uses MIT’s Scratch website. Or they can learn to use and hack different kinds of code in “Top Secret: a Handbook of Codes, Ciphers, and Secret Writing” by Paul B. Janeczko, with stories about the origin and uses of famous codes and samples of various codes for the reader to decipher.

Budding chefs will enjoy “The Help Yourself Cookbook for Kids” by Ruby Roth. This cookbook has healthy and easy recipes for snacks and a few main dishes that older kids could make by themselves. Then, kids can turn the kitchen into a lab with “Exploring Kitchen Science” by the Exploratorium or “Kitchen Science Lab for Kids” by Liz Lee Heinecke, which both use household items and kitchen ingredients to explore scientific concepts through straightforward experiments.

For fans of picture puzzles, “Art Auction Mystery: Find the Fakes, Save the Sale!” by Anna Nilsen is an advance “look-and-find” book that asks the reader to help solve the mystery and find the forger by comparing images of the original paintings with images of fakes.

No matter what your children enjoy, they can find something at the library to pique their interest over winter break.

Posted in: Adult Services, Children's Dept, For Kids, For Teens, Mercury Column, News, Parents, Uncategorized

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BOOK TALK: Literature in Kansas

By Linda Henderson, Adult Services Librarian

HarborMark your 2017 calendars – This spring, Manhattan Library Association will partner with the Kansas Humanities Council to bring a series of  BOOK TALK discussions to Manhattan, with experts helping to immerse readers in captivating stories. This spring’s topic is “Contemporary Immigration.”

America is a nation of immigrants.  Each new wave of immigration brings their own traditions, cuisine, styles, artistic traditions, and cultural histories, all of which feed into the complex mosaic of American life.  New immigration has deeply enriched the range of American literature.

Our first selection is Caramelo, or, Puro Cuento by Sandra Cisneros, a semi-autobiographical novel describing the experience of a Mexican-American family.  Cisneros weaves themes of family and identity into a sweeping tale of American naturalization in which a young girl, Lala Reyes, navigates a web of family pride and practicality in the 1960s. The caramelo reboso – candy shawl – is Lala’s sole memento of her dead mother.  Like the weave of that shawl, Lala’s tale recounts the complex life of a family always striving to put its best foot forward.

Nicolas Shump will lead the discussion on Caramelo on February 23, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. in the Groesbeck Room at Manhattan Public Library.  Nicolas teaches history and English at the Barstow School in Kansas City, Missouri.  He received his M.A. in American Studies from the University of Kansas, where he has also taught courses on Humanities and Western Civilization and American Studies.  He was a volunteer coordinator of Adult Education in Lawrence.

Harbor, the stunning first novel by Pulitzer-winning journalist Lorraine Adams, is the March selection. Aziz Arkoun arrives in America as a stowaway aboard a tanker, swimming to shore in Boston harbor without money, English, or any connections, except the phone number of a shady cousin.  One illegality leads to another as Aziz finds himself caught in the web of an anti-terrorism investigation.

Gene T. Chavez will lead the discussion for Harbor on March 23, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. Gene is the founder and president of Chavez and Associates.  He received both his M.A. in cross-cultural counseling and his education degree focusing in the philosophical foundations of education from Arizona State University.  Gene consults with groups throughout the country on bilingual education and cultural diversity.

Our April choice is Typical American by Gish Jen. Jen’s delightful first novel follows the lives of three young Chinese immigrants. A great deal of humor and sympathy accompanies this tempestuous novel.  Yifeng (also known as Ralph), his older sister Theresa, and his friend Helen find themselves trapped in America by the rise of Communism back in China.  The three hopeful immigrants strive to build new lives that work in an unfamiliar land.  Their stories take them from rags to riches, from city to suburb, from academic ivory towers to “Ralph’s Chicken Palace.”

Michaeline Chance-Reay will be leading the discussion on “Typical American” on April 27, 2017 at 7:00 p.m.  Dr. Chance-Reay teaches women’s studies and education at Kansas State University, and received her PH.D. in Humanities Education and Master’s in Social Work from Ohio State University. In 1998, her research resulted in an exhibition at the Riley County Historical Museum and an accompanying book, Land Grant Ladies: Kansas State University Presidential Wives.

Our partner in providing these talks, The Kansas Humanities Council, is a non-profit organization promoting understanding of the history and ideas that shape our lives and strengthen our sense of community.

Everyone is welcome to attend these free discussions, and no registration ahead of time is required.  These books will be available for patrons to check-out in December at the Manhattan Public Library.

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults, Mercury Column, News, Uncategorized, Young Adult Dept

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Annual Book Sale 2017

Volunteer helping sort books before the sale

Thousands of books will be for sale at the Manhattan Library Association’s (MLA or Friends of the Library) Annual Book Sale.  The sale will be held the last weekend in February in the auditorium of the Manhattan Public Library, located at 629 Poyntz Avenue.

This year, two special preview nights will be open to MLA members only. Thursday, February 23 from 5:30 – 7:30 is Premiere Member night. All members at the $100 level and above are invited for refreshments and early access to the sale. Memberships will be sold at the door.

Friday, February 24 from 5:30 – 7:30 is the preview night for all MLA Members. Memberships will be sold at the door starting at $10 for an individual, $15 for families, and $25 for organizations.

The library’s book sale will be open to the public on Saturday, February 25 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Sunday, February 26, from 1:00 – 3:30 p.m. Sunday prices will reflect special deals on the remaining materials.

Bargains abound at this annual sale with:

  • Hardcover books $1.50
  • Children’s hardcover books $1.00
  • Softcover books (trade paperbacks) $1.00
  • Mass market paperbacks for children or adults 50 cents
  • DVDs $2
  • CDs $1
  • Audiobooks on CD $4
  • Audiobooks on cassette $1.00
  • Vinyl 25 cents
  • Sheet music 25 cents

Coffee table and specialty books priced as marked.

All of the money raised will be used to fund library programs and purchases such as new books and furniture, special events for children, and summer reading programs.  In 2016, more than $10,000 was raised to support the library.

This is truly a community event, staffed by wonderful volunteers like Roger Brannan,

Keri Mills, Elaine Shannon, Wilma Schmeller, and Carol Oukrop, who devote countless hours of work to organize the sale.  Helpers from JobCorps, Rotarct, and the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity make the heavy-lifting much easier, and community supporters like Dara’s, the Manhattan Mercury, and Community First National Bank do an excellent job getting the word out.

For more information about the book sale, or if you would like to volunteer to help, visit the Manhattan Public Library at 629 Poyntz Avenue or call (786) 776-4741 ext.100.

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Italian Mysteries

By John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

The Dogs of RomeSay Italy, and people think beautiful women (ala Sophia Loren), great food, and romance. Oh, and one more thing, mystery. Mysteries by Italian authors, or taking place in Italy, have all the pleasant things one associates with Italy, plus a healthy dose of murder. If you’re ready to experience the allure of Italy, while feeding your hunger for compelling mysteries, checkout some of the many Italian mystery novels available at Manhattan Public Library.

How does a police commissioner maintain law and order in a fascist state, especially if he possesses the uncanny ability to see dead people? This is the dilemma Commissario Ricciardi faces in the series by Maurizio De Giovanni. In “I will have Vengeance: the Winter of Commissario Ricciardi,” the title character investigates the brutal murder of a world famous tenor. Can the unrestful spirit of the tenor give Ricciardi a clue as to the identity of his killer? Ten titles in this series taking place in Naples have been translated into English.

Donna Leon brings the serene city of Venice to life through the thoughts and actions of Commissario Guido Brunetti in a series that now encompasses 26 titles. In “Death at La Fenice,” Brunetti investigates the death of Maestro Helmut Wellauer, a world-renowned conductor, poisoned with cyanide during an intermission at the famous Venice opera house. As the investigation unfolds, a chilling picture of Nazi sympathies and revenge begins to take shape.

Travelling down the length of the boot, Sicily is the scene of the Inspector Salvo Montalbano mysteries by Andrea Camilleri. Over the course of 24 titles to date (20 translated into English), Inspector Montalbano polices the small fictitious town of Vigata. In “The Shape of Water,” a local politician has been found dead in his car with his pants down. The victim of a heart attack? The car was parked in a field frequented by prostitutes. While Montalbano’s superiors want a quick resolution to the case, Montalbano is cynical enough to smell a setup.

Michael Dibdin authored 11 titles in the Aurelio Zen series before his untimely death in 2007. In “Dead Lagoon,” Zen returns to his hometown of Venice to work on a minor case, while at the same time earning cash on a side job investigating the disappearance of a rich American. While in Venice, Zen observes changes in the town itself and in the people he knew as children. Being mistaken by old men for his father who vanished mysteriously years before is just one of the personal issues Zen has to deal with in solving the case of the missing American.

Returning to Rome, we can follow the exploits of Nic Costa, as reported by David Hewson. In “A Season for the Dead,” Costa, all of 27 years old and a connoisseur of the painter, Caravaggio, is hunting for a serial killer who uses his victims to create representations of famous martyr portraits. As if this wasn’t problem enough, Costa also has to contend with a corrupt cardinal, the Mafia, and the secrecy of the Vatican.

Also taking place in Rome are the Commissario Alec Blume mysteries by Conor Fitzgerald. In “The Dogs of Rome,” Blume, an American expatriate who has been living in Italy for over 20 years, investigates the murder of an animal-rights activist whose wife is an important politician and whose mistress has ties to the Mob.

If you’re in the mood for something a little different, try the Milano Quartet by Giorgio Scerbanenco. First published in 1966, “A Private Venus,” is an arresting noir novel whose antihero, Duca Lamberti, is a disbarred doctor who has just been released from prison for assisting a terminally ill woman to end her life. Lamberti is no stranger to making bad choices. His latest is accepting the proposal of a rich industrialist to babysit his son, a chronic alcoholic. Alcoholism, Lamberti discovers, is the least of the young man’s troubles.

Other authors of Italian mysteries you should sample include “Lost Girls of Rome,” by Donato Carrisi. There’s also the Inspector Bordelli mysteries by Marco Vichi, including “Death in August.” Don’t forget Magdalen Nabb, whose protagonist, Marshal Guarnaccia, features in such titles as “Vita Nuova, or Michele Giuttari, whose Michele Ferrara investigates murder in “A Death in Tuscany.”

 

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults, Mercury Column, News, Uncategorized, Young Adult Dept

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Comics for the Non-Comics Reader

By Crystal Hicks, Adult Services Librarian

How to Fake a Moon LandingNever been into comics? Don’t worry—I wasn’t, either. I’d always felt there was a barrier between me and comics, like you had to be part of an “in club” to understand them, and there was no way I had enough nerd street cred to manage it. This feeling held true for me all the way into adulthood, until I took a class on comics and stumbled into the amazing world of alternative comics. At last, here were comics I could read without knowing decades of arcane DC backstory. Here were comics that explored serious topics, from science and geopolitics to relationships and identity. Here were comics that became art.

The term “alternative comics,” strictly speaking, refers to comics that offer an alternative to the mainstream superhero comics published by Marvel, DC, and other major publishers. Alternative comics come in a wide variety, including your standard fiction offerings, but also venture into nonfiction through memoir, biography, and even explanatory scientific texts. The art can range from all-black outlines to delicately painted watercolor panels, and the art styles can be deceptively simple, ragged and sketchy, or blisteringly complex. There’s a wide, diverse world of alternative comics out there, and I believe it holds something for everyone and every reading taste. Allow me to introduce you.

For me, the most thought-provoking alternative comics feature international affairs, exploring how people interpret and respond to major international crises. The comics format takes politics and makes it understandable; instead of being a complex, distant issue, politics becomes human and relatable through the lenses of comics creators. In Rolling Blackouts, Sarah Glidden details her travels through the Middle East with a team of journalists. As they travel, Glidden learns about the lives of refugees and the effects of war, while also exploring the ideas behind journalism. In The Ukrainian and Russian Notebooks, Igort depicts the horrors of life under Soviet rule, while Amir and Khalil’s Zahra’s Paradise brings haunting life to the aftermath of the 2009 presidential election in Iran.

Biographies are another group I was pleasantly surprised to find within comics, and there are always more intriguing biographies to choose from. Steffen Kverneland’s Munch is the most impressive comics biography I’ve seen this year, pulling from many sources to craft an exquisitely bizarre and nuanced portrait of Edvard Munch, the artist best known for “The Scream.” In The Imitation Game, by Jim Ottaviani and Leland Purvis, you can explore the life and science of Alan Turing, the man who cracked the German Enigma code during World War II. For mystery fans, Anne Martinetti’s Agatha depicts the life of Agatha Christie, beginning with her mysterious ten-day disappearance and traveling throughout her life from there.

Comics also can explore the more technical side of nonfiction, in that they combine explanatory text with detailed drawings in order to explain complex ideas to non-scientists. Andy Warner tackles science humorously with Brief Histories of Everyday Objects, looking at everything from toothbrushes and vacuum cleaners to instant ramen and ice cream cones. Darryl Cunningham explains how to tell science myth from science fact in his books How to Fake a Moon Landing and Science Tales. Finally, Philippe Squarzoni’s Climate Changed combines memoir and documentary as Squarzoni researches climate change in an effort to be knowledgeable about this major issue.

On the fiction end of things, comics also excel as a medium for exploring dramas both interpersonal and internal. Moyoco Anno confronts eating disorders in her work In Clothes Called Fat, as her main character Noko struggles to find what she really wants in a world that dictates how she should feel about her body weight. Scott McCloud’s The Sculptor goes the magical realism route, following David, a sculptor who decides to die early in exchange for being able to sculpt anything with his bare hands. Needless to say, trading life for art is harder than David had originally bargained for. For science fiction fans, Daniel Clowes’s Patience offers a psychedelic thriller love story that doesn’t let up till the last mind-blowing page.

I hope I’ve piqued your interest about the alternative comics we have to offer here at Manhattan Public Library, especially since we have a strong collection to choose from. If you’d like any help picking out comics, feel free to stop by the Reference Desk on the second floor, or request a personalized reading list on our website. We’d love to help you find some comics that resonate with you.

 

 

 

 

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Food for Fines December 3, 2016

Food for Fines fundraiser December 3 from 10 am to 5 pm
From 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 3, everyone who brings a non-perishable food item to the Manhattan Public Library will receive a $1 voucher to pay library fines. Vouchers will be good throughout the month of December, with a maximum of 10 vouchers per person. All of the donated food will be given to the Flint Hills Bread Basket to help combat food insecurity in Manhattan.

Library Director, Linda Knupp, championed the idea as “a way to promote good will during the holidays and give back to the community.”

Suggested items include:
Boxed meals
Grape jelly
Peanut butter
Cereal
Pasta
Canned meats
Pancake syrup
Oatmeal

The following items will not be accepted:
No expired items
No damaged items
No open packages
Ramen noodles (and other multi-pack items) will be accepted at a value of 4 packages = $1

Volunteers from the Manhattan Library Association will be in the library’s atrium to accept donations and issue vouchers. For more information, please contact the Manhattan Public Library at 629 Poyntz Avenue, (785) 776-4741 ext. 100.

The Flint Hills Breadbasket is located at 905 Yuma Street. It was founded in 1983 as a Community Food Network to collect and distribute food to those in need. Their food pantry is open Monday – Thursday from 1:00 to 3:30 p.m. and Fridays from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. to distribute food. To see the complete schedule for the Breadbasket, visit www.breadbasket.manhattanks.org or call (785) 537-0730.

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Romance with a Twist

By Rhonna Hargett, Adult Services Manager

Two AcrossI am an unabashed romance reader. In the midst of a crazy world, romance novels can offer a bit of escape, or even reassurance. I love how author Kristan Higgins put it in Publishers Weekly, “Our books affirm faith in humanity and preach the goodness and courage of the ordinary heart. We make our readers laugh, we make them cry, and we affirm our belief in the enduring, uplifting power of love.” Sometimes I find myself wanting something different, though. Fortunately I’ve found that there are some amazing genre crossovers that have eased me out of my comfort zone: still uplifting, but with a very different perspective than one typically gets in a romance novel. The following reads are good for a change of pace or for those romance doubters among you.

Crosstalk by Connie Willis mixes science fiction, intrigue, and humor with a dash of romance thrown in. Sometime in the near future, Briddey Flannigan and her boyfriend decide to get implants in their brains that allow them to sense what each other is feeling. Something goes wrong and Briddey is connected to the weird guy who works in the basement instead. A light-hearted exploration of the question of how connected and informed we really want to be, Crosstalk is both thought-provoking and entertaining.

Two Across by Jeffrey Bartsch is about Stanley and Vera, two teens who meet when they tie for first place in the 1960 National Spelling Bee. Both of them are brilliant but have difficult homes and end up plotting a sham wedding to change the course of their lives. Years of awkward exchanges, missed opportunities, and crossword puzzle communication create a sometimes bittersweet but hopeful story.

For historical romantic suspense, Lauren Willig serves up The Other Daughter. When her mother dies, governess Rachel Woodley stumbles across a magazine clipping dated only three months before with a picture of her supposedly long-deceased father. With the assistance of her cousin’s associate, Simon Montfort, she seeks revenge against the father she never knew and his replacement family. An insightful plunge into 1920s London and all of the social divisions of the time, The Other Daughter also reveals a woman forced to reevaluate who she is while playing a dangerous game of deception.

I am particularly a fan of modern retellings of classics. It amuses me to discover how the author weaves the original tale into something completely new. One of the better ones I’ve read lately is Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld, a modern interpretation of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Magazine writer Liz Bennett rushes home to Cincinnati to help her family during her father’s health crisis. In Sittenfeld’s version, Jane is a yoga instructor, Mary is addicted to online education, and Kitty and Lydia have an unhealthy obsession with CrossFit. They meet reality show star Chip Bingley and his friend the neurosurgeon, Fitzwilliam Darcy. Navigating the challenges of life at home and an uncertain future, Liz approaches the world with a biting wit and unfailing self-assurance. I have often been told that Pride and Prejudice is just about a bunch of women seeking husbands, but Eligible emphasizes that this is really about growing up enough to see the complexity of the world and the fascinating creatures we encounter in it.

Based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler manages to hold onto the humor from the original but adds a more contemporary view of relationships. Kate is an exceptionally blunt preschool teacher who fills her days with gardening and taking care of her widowed father and teenaged sister. Her father comes up with a scheme for her to marry his lab assistant Pyotr to help him with a green card. Kate’s lack of tact, combined with Pyotr’s language limitations, lead to some hilarious scenes and a level of honesty not often achieved in contemporary relationships.

Come visit us at the library to find your next great read!

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Outstanding Autumn Reading

By Marcia Allen, Technical Services and Collections Manager

Hillbilly ElegyFall is such a great time for discovering new book titles.  This season’s abundant offerings for adults present a wonderful assortment of debut authors, as well as a nice array of books from longtime favorites.  Here are some of the latest in nonfiction which I highly recommend.    I think you’ll enjoy them, too.

Ross King tells a wonderful story.  Perhaps you read Brunelleschi’s Dome, King’s account of the contest that inspired a 15th century masterful building of an enormous cathedral dome minus the usual flying buttresses.  Maybe you recall Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling, a sometimes humorous account of rival artists and papal whims while the Sistine Chapel ceiling was being painted.  If you’ve read those books or other tales Mr. King has written, you know that he weaves historical events into dramatic narratives that captivate his readers.

King’s latest is another stirring account.  This one involves Claude Monet, but it neither a biography nor is it a retrospect of important paintings.  Instead, Mad Enchantment : Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies focuses on the paintings themselves, Monet’s indecision about the recipients of those paintings, and his long friendship with French Prime Minister George Clemenceau.

The story begins in the year 1914.  France was about to enter into World War I, while an elderly Monet mourned the recent death of a son and suffered from the beginnings of cataracts that would plague him the rest of his life.  Soon, however, he embarked on a huge project, his Nympheas (water lilies) that would outshine his earlier works.  As the war came to a close, he decided to express his gratitude to France with a great gift: the donation of his water lilies, his “Grande Decoration.”  Plans were made to build a special exhibition hall at the Orangerie in Paris for Monet’s Nympheas.   

But complications intervened.  Monet, always demanding and stubborn, decided he might not part with the paintings after all.  His buddy Clemenceau was outraged by this decision and chided him endlessly.  And both of the famous friends were now facing serious health problems.  You will find that King’s story of this time period is endlessly fascinating, chock-full of details you never heard before.

Here’s a revealing surprise from a debut author.  J. D. Vance is a successful attorney with a Silicon Valley investment firm.  He attended Ohio State University and then pursued an advanced degree from Yale Law School.  Many others have achieved such success, but few have grown up with a background similar to his.  Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis details the incredible obstacles of his family life, as well as the current state of life for poor, white Americans.

Vance’s grandparents had grown up in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky in abject poverty.  Friends and relatives worked in the mines and learned early to do without the necessities that we take for granted.  In an effort to better their lives, they moved to Middletown, Ohio where mill work was the norm.  “Mamaw” and “Papaw” seemed to have made the climb to middle class.

But they brought with them the traits and behaviors that had always been part of their culture.  Mamaw had a tendency toward physical violence when she perceived an insult to her family.  Papaw developed a serious drinking problem.  Their daughter (Vance’s mother) had her own issues with drug dependency and poor choices in men.  Thus, Vance came to rely on Mamaw as a parent.

The book is a sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking account of Vance’s growing up, but it also something altogether different.  It’s a cultural revelation of his impoverished background, complete with all kinds of depressing statistics and colorful side stories.  Absolutely mesmerizing.

My last suggestion for you is a highly colorful tale about Paris.  During the 1920s, the streets of Paris hosted an amazing cast of famous characters.  Of course, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso and Gertrude Stein resided there, but newcomers also arrived and quickly became known personalities.  Sylvia Beach had recently opened Shakespeare and Company, a bookstore that encouraged and promoted writers like James Joyce.   Josephine Baker danced her way into fame, often appearing nearly nude.  Coco Chanel established her own empire, creating a line of clothing and perfume in high demand.

When Paris Sizzled by Mary Sperling McAuliffe does not follow a single story line.  Instead it weaves its way through encounters and connections among the numerous players of that fascinating decade.  If you are curious about Isadora Duncan’s tragic end, Charles de Gaulle’s shy courtship, or Cole Porter’s luxurious lifestyle abroad, this is the book for you.  Memorable tales of creativity from another time.

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Dehumanized Dystopias

By Brian Ingalsbe, Children’s Library Assistant

UgliesOctober is – in my humble opinion – one of the best months of the year. The weather is consistently cool, the leaves are changing colors, and the full anticipation of Halloween is in the air. For me, enjoying this month means snuggling up with a pumpkin spice chai and reading a great book. With Halloween so close, what better way to prepare than with a YA staple: the dystopia?

Dystopias are some of my favorite reads because they are fast-paced, action-oriented, and feature a skewed world, alarmingly similar to our own. Beyond The Hunger Games, The Giver, and The Maze Runner, the young adult collection has hundreds of other dystopian novels, just waiting to be discovered!

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

In a world where higher education is a privilege, sixteen-year-old Cia Vale dreams of being chosen for “the testing” – a program geared at further educating the best and the brightest of the Five Lakes Colony. Cia is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate, eager to prove her worthiness as a future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies: trust no one. Can she trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? To survive, Cia must choose love without truth or life without trust. In this thrilling story, Joelle Charbonneau tells a tale that is as enticing as it is flawed, begging readers to turn page after page. Anyone who enjoyed the Books of Ember or The Maze Runner trilogy is sure to love this book.

Legend by Marie Lu

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Fifteen-year-old June is an elite – born with the highest family status, groomed for success in the Republic’s most prestigious military circles. Day is the Republic’s most wanted criminal. They are polar opposites in every way. But when Metias – June’s brother – is found murdered, and Day is named the main suspect, all bets are off. Forming an unlikely duo, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its terrible secrets. In this exhilarating story – much like The Hunger Games – Marie Lu transforms two “average” characters through the most terrifying experience imaginable. The result will not disappoint!

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

In the not-so-distant future, the Second Civil War – fought over reproductive rights – has left a country that is fearful and rash. As a result, life is deemed sacred, but only from birth to age thirteen. For the next five years, parents can choose to have their children “unwound” by which their organs are harvested for alternative use, therefore deemed “a continuation of life.” During this horrific age, three children face being unwound: Connor, an out of control child, Risa, a ward of the state, and Lev, a tithe –a child conceived only to be unwound. Separate, they are powerless, but together they may be able to survive. In Unwind, Neal Shusterman creates a chilling world dominated by the effects of population control. Readers who enjoyed The Giver or the Shadow Children are sure to devour this series.

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

What can be wrong with a world full of pretty people? Wouldn’t you want to be pretty? For sixteen-year-old Tally, becoming pretty is the end all. In the weeks preceding her operation, Tally can think of little else besides the carefree pretty lifestyle, in which her only real job is to have fun. But when Tally’s new best friend – Shay – rebels from society and flees, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty lifestyle, and it isn’t very pretty. Now Tally must make a choice: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty herself. What will she choose? Her choice will change her world forever. In this well-crafted novel, Scott Westerfeld expertly creates a shallow world of external beauty. Ridden with its own vernacular and relatable characters, Uglies is a story that is sure to hit close to home. Readers who enjoy the writing style of Lauren Oliver will definitely love these books.

No matter what resources you are looking for, Manhattan Public Library has them. Our staff is always willing to help you find your next great dystopia and answer any questions you may have. You can contact the Youth Services Department at (785) 776-4741 ext. 400 or kidstaff@mhklibrary.org.

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Horror 101

By Danielle Schapaugh, Public Relations Coordinator

PoppetIt’s the right time of year for a good scare, and I happen to work with some serious connoisseurs of horror. When I asked my coworkers, they were happy to give frightening recommendations.

Naturally, Stephen King was mentioned the most often, and everyone agreed that his older works were the scariest by far. As a talented writer, King’s startling tales will draw you in and leave you breathless while also making you care about the characters and marvel at the beauty that exists even in a cruel world.

“Above, the stars shone hard and bright, sparks struck off the dark skin of the universe.” – Stephen King, The Stand

If you haven’t read the complete and uncut version of King’s The Stand, you should start there. This 1,153-page epic is considered one of King’s finest works and will take you on a nightmarish journey into a bleak new world which just lost 99% of its human population to a super virus. This gripping tale of good vs evil is full of gore, violence, and horror, and it’s also packed with depth and character. For an extra bit of fright, wait and read this one when you’re home with the flu.

If you’re already a fan of Stephen King, and you’ve read The Shining, It, and all of his other major works, try something by King’s son, Joseph Hillstrom King, under the pen name Joe Hill.

Hill obviously has big shoes to fill, but all of his books have reached the New York Times Bestseller list, so it looks like he’s filling them. His works have been praised by authors such as Neil Gaiman and Harlan Coben, and his third book, a supernatural thriller NOS4A2, might be his best so far.

NOS4A2 is creepy to the max. The villain, Charlie Manx, is a Peter Pan character who cruises around in a Rolls Royce Wraith with vanity license plate NOS4A2, looking for children to capture.  When he finds an interesting prospect, he takes the child to a magical theme park called “Christmasland.”

For some reason, the children Manx brings to Christmasland become evil, so he is never satisfied and continues searching for more. Manx becomes obsessed with the only child who ever escaped. He finds her as an adult, and decides her son might be his very best prospect so far.

As you may have noticed, all the symbols in this book pack a serious emotional punch. It will tap into your deep-seated fears and keep you turning pages long past your bedtime.

For fans of major adrenaline who really don’t care about sleep, I recommend author Mo Hayder. Her books are psychological crime thrillers full of gore and action. Also, since there are seven books in her popular Jack Caffery series, you won’t run out of material anytime soon.

Hayder’s first book, Birdman, introduces the character Jack Caffery, lead investigator in the Major Crime Investigation Unit in Bristol, UK. Caffrey is new on the job and tasked with solving crimes of unspeakable horror. The first involves the brutal, ritualistic murder of a woman who is mutilated beyond recognition. As Jack delves into the details of the crime, you will squirm, close your eyes, and beg for it to end. As he gets ever closer to the killer, you’ll find yourself unable to tear your eyes away.

The seven books in this series are 1. Birdman  2. The Treatment  3. Ritual 4. Skin  5. Gone 6. Poppet (which is the Circulation Manager’s favorite) 7. Wolf.  The entire series is available at the public library along with several “stand-alone” novels by Hayder.

Books are fantastic, but sometimes what you really need is a good scary movie. The library has thousands of DVDs and Blu-rays to choose from, but my coworkers agreed hands-down that only one movie sits at the top of the horror genre. Gore Verbinski’s The Ring (2002) might be the scariest movie ever made. It brings the audience genuine, pit-of-the-stomach, bone-chilling fear without relying on cheap tricks or excessive gore.

Diehard fans who have already seen The Ring might want to try the original Japanese version of the film by Hideo Nakata, available online, or the novel by Koji Suzuki.

If you’re interested in exploring other recommendations, stop by the library’s Reference Desk on the second floor. A librarian would be happy to help you find a book or movie that is just the right fit.

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults, Mercury Column, News, Uncategorized, Young Adult Dept

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