All posts by Colleen Marquis

LOVE your Library: Non-Fiction

I really like libraries (if that wasn’t obvious, you know…being a librarian and all). They are the cornerstone of intellectual freedom, you can read anything in a modern American library, even if it is controversial, “banned,” or frowned upon by some corner of society. They are a home away from home where tired readers can take refuge from reality. They are community centers designed to bring people with similar interests together.

There is something more to libraries than that though, something magical in the potential of knowledge and undiscovered worlds hiding silently in rough wood pulp pages and stark black ink. Though the physical volumes themselves are still, merely objects, they posses a kind of kinetic energy brimming with possibility – for lack of a better word, a soul.

According to the American Library Association there are an estimated 119, 487 libraries in America, maybe more. To put that in perspective, there are only approximately 35,000 McDonald’s restaurants (using the term restaurant loosely here) world wide. We LOVE our libraries, and always have. The earliest libraries, archives of clay tablets of cuniform script consisting mostly of trade and inventory records, would still be recognizable as a library to the modern patron. How cool is that!?

The library is synonymous with human civilization, and we happen to have some pretty cool books on the subject.

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Improbably Libraries: A Visual Journey Through the World’s Most Unusual Libraries by Alex Johnson

Remember how I said a modern library patron would be able to recognize even the earliest libraries? Well that does not go both ways. Heck, most people today wouldn’t recognize these spaces as libraries. The world of information has evolved with the introduction of the internet and digital content and Improbably Libraries showcases the exciting and surprising ways in which the library has evolved with it.

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Part of Our Lives : A People’s History of the American Public Library by Wayne A. Wiegand 

There has been a prevailing worry that libraries were on their way out due to the wealth of information on the internet. However the numbers of libraries has actually increased  since the turn of the Millennium. Instead of recounting librarian’s view of the library, Part of Our Lives uses the testimonials of patrons going as far back as the 1850’s to explain why the library is important, and will stay important, to Americans.

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Libricide by Rebecca Knuth

“Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings.” – Heinrich Heine

This FASCINATING, though dark and depressing, book looks at the connection between the crack down of intellectual freedom – especially libraries – and the rise of vicious political regimes that end in violence and death.  Knuth examines Nazi Germany, Nazis, Serbs in Bosnia, Iraqis in Kuwait, Maoists during the Cultural Revolution in China, and Chinese Communists in Tibet. Along with the historical case studies, she also examines why some people believe book burning is good for society, even outside of brutal regimes. Something a bibliophile like me has always struggled to comprehend.

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The Dismissal of Miss Ruth Brown : Civil Rights, Censorship, and the American Library by Louise S. Robbins

In 1950 Oklahoma librarian Ruth Brown was dismissed from her position after thirty years of service. The people who made the decision to terminate Miss Brown’s position argued that she had circulated subversive materials when in reality she was targeted for forming a group affiliated with the Congress of Racial Equality. Her story reveals the values of the McCarthy era, foregrounding those who labored for racial justice, sometimes at great cost. It reveals a masking of concerns that led even Brown’s allies to obscure the cause of racial integration for which she fought. Relevant today, Ruth Brown’s story helps us understand the matrix of personal, community, state, and national forces that can lead to censorship, intolerance, and the suppression of individual rights.

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The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel

This book is as emotional about libraries as I am. Inspired by Manguel building a library for his 15th century home in France (lucky devil)  he romanticizes the role of collecting, organizing, preserving, and providing guidance to books. Manguel delves deep into history exploring the doomed libraries of the ancient world from Greece and Alexandria to China and the Arab world while also making a personal journey back to his childhood bookshelf and his first trips to the public library.  He explores stories of people who have struggled against tyranny to preserve freedom of thought—the Polish librarian who smuggled books to safety as the Nazis began their destruction of Jewish libraries; the Afghani bookseller who kept his store open through decades of unrest; oral “memory libraries” kept alive by prisoners, libraries of banned books, the imaginary library of Count Dracula, and a library of books never written.

741.5 : Brian K. Vaughn

Brian K. Vaughn is a consummate story teller. His creator-owned comics were described in a 2007 interview with Wired Magazine (after he won their Rave Award) as “finite, meticulous, years-long story arcs”, to which Vaughan comments, “That’s storytelling, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Something like Spider-Man, a book that never has a third act, that seems crazy.” Swoon. Truly a comic book writer after my own literary heart.

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Don’t worry girl, I’ve got well structured plot for days
(2014 DC Comic-con)

When I say something is a creator-owned comic that means it is a story without a comic book legacy. Spiderman, Batman, Superman, they all are legacy comics owned by DC or Marvel with hundreds of different writers following a prescribed pattern. Vaughn ended up writing for big names like Captain America, Spiderman, The X-Men, Green Lantern, and even the wildly popular Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics (considered the eighth season by series creator Joss Wedon) early in his career. He also wrote for the television show Lost and was an executive producer for Under the Dome.

However, Vaughn started writing his own stories in 2000 and hasn’t looked back. In 2002 he started Y: The Last Man with Vertigo Comics. This is his first huge independent success. The story is about an amateur escape artist named Yorick Brown and a  badly behaved Capuchin monkey Yorick is training named Ampersand. They are the only two males of their species to survive the simultaneous deaths of every XY chromosome carrying creature on Earth. Planes once piloted by men drop out of the sky, doctors drop dead in the middle of surgery, cars crash wildly on the streets. Society plunges into chaos while the women left behind are forced to deal with the destruction.

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A Man and his monkey
(Cover of Issue #23)

Like any well written science fiction, it is a fascinating thought experiment as well as a hero’s journey. While we follow Yorick on his quest to find his family and the girlfriend in Australia he attempted to propose to immediately before the death of half of all life on Earth, he has run ins with women of all ilks who are working, sometimes to different ends, to rebuild society.

There is a group of roving anti-male, one breasted, Amazons hunting him down to destroy him while another group made of Israeli soldiers seek him out as a political bargaining chip. He has a secret agent and a biologist accompanying him on his travels to protect him and to try to find the secret of what saved him and how it can save humanity’s future. He comes across a town completely made up of former female convicts happily and peacefully building a community where he is forced to reevaluate his sense of right and wrong. In addition to being a hero’s journey, the series asks, “What would it be like to be literally the last man on Earth?”

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Apparently beggars CAN be choosers.

Vaughn’s characters are incredibly well written and complex, and the voice he lends to his female characters comes across as totally genuine. In fact, while reading this comic, you’d swear that Yorick is more of a supporting character, the real story is about the women left behind. They are flawed, strong, and believable characters who are out not just to survive this apocalypse, but to thrive.

A movie of Y: The Last Man has been in and out of production for years but Vaughn announced in October 2015 that the project had found new life in a different form as a television series through FX. Keep and eye out as Ryan Reynolds has been tapped as a possible Yorick Brown.

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Vaughn’s latest work has also been very popular. An epic space opera entitled Saga. In Saga’s two worlds, Landfall and it’s only moon Wreath, fight a never ending war. The war has been so destructive that the two sides decide to export the war, dragging other worlds into the fray as battlefields and forcing the inhabitants to choose a side. The technologically advanced people living on Landfall have wings, everyone’s wings are different, from butterfly wings to feathered appendages. Wreath’s population have varying styles of horns and reject technology, using magic instead.

Two worlds give rise to our two main characters, Alana from Landfall and Marko from Wreath. Both are former soldier’s for their respective sides but when Marko is taken prisoner and Alana is assigned to guard him they, with the assistance of a trashy romance novel, fall in love and decide to go AWOL.

keepreadingKeep reading!

The story begins with the birth of the the narrator and the couple’s daughter, Hazel, blessed with both wings and horns. Vaughn said this about the story in Comic Book Resource in 2011:

I realized that making comics and making babies were kind of the same thing and if I could combine the two, it would be less boring if I set it in a crazy sci-fi fantasy universe and not just have anecdotes about diaper bags … I didn’t want to tell a Star Wars adventure with these noble heroes fighting an empire. These are regular people on the outskirts of the story who want out of this never-ending galactic war.”

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D’aww

They are real parents, dealing with real parental problems, such as disapproving in-laws and a snotty teenage (undead) baby sitter, while also being the two most hunted beings in the Universe. Both Wreath and Landfall see them as a threat to victory over the other, (blinded by their own generational hate, they cannot see their daughter as a symbol of peace) and both look upon Hazel with complete revulsion and disdain. There are multiple assassins trying to catch up with the new family as well as a terrorist group who are against both sides trying to use her as a bargaining chip.

This story is filled with other stories branching off of Alana and Marko’s tale. We meet a six year old sex-slave, liberated by two of the assassins trying to locate Marko and Alana, who can see the past of any object she touches. The story of the assassins, who are joined by Marko’s ex-fiancee, is fascinating as their goals begin to shift due to personal tragedies and new found understanding. The crowned prince of Landfall, a robot with a television for a head, chases down  the low born robot revolutionary who killed his wife and stole his infant son from the palace.

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Don’t you want to read this comic just to find out about the snow seal in overalls with a battle ax?

The art in Saga deserves more than just a mention. Fiona Staples designs all of the ships, characters, and weapons. Vaughn stated that no one’s art is like hers and he gives her incredible artistic license to create his world. It was her choice to give all the robots different kinds of televisions for heads, all the Wreath residents different horns, and all the Landfall people varying wings.

Vaughn has certain themes that are threaded through all of his stories, creation and destruction especially interest him. Yorick is needed for the creation of children for the destroyed planet. Alana and Marko create a child who, though totally innocent, cannot help but leave destruction in her wake. Swarming around these dual realities of nature are emotional and fragile creatures, desperate to make sense of what is happening and clinging to each other while attempting, and often failing, to find solace through love. Though Vaughn writes science fiction, these tropes are so familiar that the reader cannot help but feel gutted by the events that unfold in each story.

In short (too late), I highly recommend his work.

3 to 5 Questions: Tom Carr

Local author and journalist Tom Carr’s first book, Blood on the Mitten: Infamous Michigan Murders from 1700s to Present, has been making quiet a splash in Traverse City and beyond. In fact during our interview, folks at Brew were stopping our interview to congratulate him. I was also privileged to learn about Tom Carr’s exciting future projects, but you’ll just have to keep your eye on this Northern Michigan author to see for yourself!

What got you interested in writing about true crime? 

Tom Carr: Well I always liked reading about it. I really enjoyed semi-true book The Michigan Murders they change the names of victims and perpetrators, another book I finished recently was Devil in the
White City. I thought it would be interesting to do stories that talk about Michigan that goes across time and across the state. I’ve lived a lot of different places in Michigan. I’ve also covered some crime as a reporter for the Record Eagle.
The book has a really interesting format, was that your idea?
I had a lot to do with design in that after Heather Shaw at Mission Point Press designed it and I said, wow that is really great! She was the editor and the designer, she is one of the three people who started Mission Point Press, along with Anne Stanton, who I worked with at the Record-Eagle and has been a friend ever since and Doug Weaver, who was head of books and other specialty publications for the Kansas City Star. The look just nails the tone of the book and it’s just fantastic.
What are you reading right now?
I like to read history, historical fiction, and true crime, the whole gamut really. I really like historical westerns and I really like Sarah Vowell, I just read Take the Cannoli and I really liked Assassination Vacation. I also really enjoy Stephen King’s more experimental fiction like 11/22/63 and Under the Dome. But my kindle broke and a lot of my books were on there!
As a true crime buff, you have to have a favorite mystery, what is your favorite murder mystery?
Well, the story of the Robison murder and Mardi Jo Link did such a wonderful book on that, that is such a perplexing case (When Evil Came to Good Hart). There are the New Year’s Eve 1970-71 murders, and that one happened in my home town. It’s a really hard case because when I called around to the police stations the jurisdiction of the crime had changed so many times that it unfortunately seems to have been lost in the shuffle and has gone cold. Hopefully, someone will come forward with information, but it’s been forty five years but you never know. It would be nice to see someone working on it or maybe a deathbed confession.
How well do you know your Dewey Decimal? Do you identify with any particular number?
I’d have to look at the shelves! What number would I be?
We have you down as 977.4 – Michigan History!
That’s great, I was thinking of getting a t-shirt with the book’s ISBN number on it.
Very Cool!

741.5 : Mark Carey

In which a librarian delves into the literary world of graphic novels and comic books. 

Graphic novels are becoming more and more popular in library collections for adults, teens, and kids. Adults, I’ve noticed, struggle with appreciating graphic novels. They have a tendency to hear the term “graphic novels” and picture 50 Shade of Gray. If you bring up “comic books” they assume it’s all Marvel or DC Comics caped crusaders spouting rehashed dialogue in runaway, over-complicated story lines. This assumption about comic books isn’t always mistaken, how much character development can you get out of an indestructible alien who is faster than a speeding bullet and can leap tall buildings with a single bound?

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But there is a thrilling breed of graphic novel/comic out there, a literary one where story lines and characters are dynamic and powerful as well as entertaining. There are so many titles, writers, and artists that I can’t wait to explore in this new segment of Fine Print. The first author I’d like to highlight is an author whose career I have followed since the late 1990’s : Mike Carey. Now this post is definitely not meant to be an exhaustive over view of Carey’s work. We have a number of his comic books and novels in our collection. I’m just touching on some of the most accessible and most popular work he has published in an effort to get you, the reader, interested in comic books.

Carey’s latest work is a fantastic and unique zombie thriller, and a novel rather than comic book, called The Girl With All the Gifts. It is a great introduction to his writing style and story structure and a fantastic way to start reading a comic book author without reading a comic book. The Girl with All the Gifts is the Books and Brewskis’ book club pick for July and is being made into a movie starring Glenn Close which will be released to theaters September 23rd, 2016.

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Carey’s literary focus doesn’t stop at writing gripping fiction. His original comic book series entitled Unwritten deals with Tom Taylor, misanthrope and son of a wildly successful missing youth fantasy writer. As Tom, a writer in his own right, begins to investigate what happened to his father, his identity becomes more and more malleable and tied to his fathers fictional protagonist; Tommy Taylor.

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Mike Carey, in an interview with Nicholas Yanes from scifipulse.net, said that:

“The most important reference point is the autobiography of Christopher Milne – who is famous as the Christopher Robin of the Winnie the Pooh books. Milne grew up feeling that his father had stolen his childhood from him, turned a profit from it and then given it back to him in a form he couldn’t use. Our Tom is very much in that situation when we first meet him, although we take his identity crisis a fair bit further than that.”

Carey may be best known for his series Lucifer, a spin off of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman series published through DC’s Vertigo comics. The premise is the Judaeo-Christian Devil has retired as King of Hell to run a cabaret in Los Angeles. In the Sandman story “Season of Mists”, Lucifer expels all demons and damned souls from Hell before locking Hell’s gates and handing over the key to Hell to Dream of the Endless, the title character of the Sandman series. Eventually, Hell is turned over by God to two Angels to run,  Duma (the angel of silence) and Remiel (“set over those who rise”).

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(Gaiman insisted that Lucifer be drawn to look like David Bowie, I think he nailed it)

But you do not need to be familiar with the Sandman series to enjoy Lucifer, you just need to know a little bit about western mythology. The gods, demons, and other divinities that exist in other faiths are vital to the story line. Lucifer, as an apostate of Heaven, is able to travel through different realms and work with and manipulate the powerful creatures of each realm, including his brothers in Heaven, to get to what he wants.

What does he want? He wants to show the Host the folly of worship and blind obedience. Lucifer’s personality is not “evil” as most would view evil, but rather he is driven by his own free will and desire for complete freedom.  Lucifer makes it a point of always being honest, but in a way that is still manipulative in true devilish fashion. This personality quirk makes for some excellent twists and turns set to the backdrop of a very complex mythological universe. Mike Carey said this about the character;

“We play safe. Most of us do, most of the time… but Lucifer doesn’t know the meaning of safe, and he never bothers to look down at the tramlines. He goes wherever the hell he likes, picks his fights where he finds them and generally wins… following [his] own will and [his] own instincts to the very end of the line, no matter what the obstacles are.

 

PBF: June 2016

Party Banter Friday:   In Which A Librarian Provides You With An Interesting Fact to Make You More Popular During Weekend Socializing

War. Huh. What is it good for?

Well, actually quite a lot it turns out if you look at it as a catalyst for scientific advancement.

Mary Roach’s latest book, Grunt: the Curious Science of Humans at War, just hit our shelves and I had to be the first person to read it. I love Mary Roach’s books. Well researched, quirky, and often darkly hilarious, her books simmer in the science of the human experience. Her books about death (Stiff: the Curious Lives of Human Cadavers), sex (Boink: the Curious Coupling of Sex and Science), food (Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal), and spirituality (Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife) along with her latest about war could be gathered into one compendium called Life: the Human Experience.

Roach always focuses on the science behind these mundane elements of life on Earth.  There is surprising science all around us and she drives that point home in the first chapter by examining something so seemingly mundane it probably never crossed your mind: the science of fabrics. Nantick Labs in Massachusetts tests and develops everything the army eats, sleeps in, carries, and wears. They think of everything. A cloth is fire resistant but is it toxic? Will it wick away moisture? Can it be easily printed on or dyed? How many washes will it stand up to? Does it itch or retain body odor?

Amazingly, the army employees fashion designers to come up with solutions to other problems like snipers lying on their stomachs for hours at a time or the tear of Velcro giving away a solider’s position.

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Mary Roach’s books are great for amazing facts that broaden your understanding of the world. For instance in WWII, the British Army were so beleaguered by disease spreading flies that each man had a quota that everyone was to kill 50 flies a day! The Allies and the Axis powers all waged war on pests on the battlefields and the home front. During the Spanish-American War of 1898, the illustrious  Walter Reed was called in to investigate a typhoid outbreak. He noticed flies transferring lime from latrines and graves onto food and the war on flies began for the American Army. This discovery created an occupation called military entomologist, which still exists today.

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Flies, however, come with a positive side. The use of maggots to clean away necrotic flesh has be recorded as far back as the Maya and Aboriginal Tribes of Australia.  Baron Dominique Larrey, Napoleon’s personal surgeon, recognized that solider’s whose wounds were colonized by maggots had lower morbidity ratres as did Joseph Jones during the American Civil War. Maggots were officially approved to treat wounds in 2007 by the FDA.

Medically, the army has always been on the cutting edge of wound care and trauma. World War I saw the invention of reconstructive plastic surgery credited to New Zealand surgeon Harold Gillies. Walter Yeo, a sailor who lost his eyelids in the battle of Jutland, is often described as the first to benefit from advanced plastic surgery.

[Photo of Petty Officer Yeo redacted due to high probability of squeamishness bordering on nightmarish terror. If you would like to see how the first recipient of plastic surgery fared, photos are available on Google images, good luck!] 

More soldiers ever are surviving dramatic wounds from the most powerful explosives in human history. Living after having your leg or arm blown off takes a lot of adjustment, but what if a more sensitive part of the body is lost forever? Roach’s focus on human relationships and intimacy leads to a heart breaking chapter about the army’s attempts to reconstruct and, if need be, replace genitals. Though the first penis transplant happened only a month ago at Massachusetts General Hospital and was done for a cancer survivor, John Hopkins has been working on transplants for veterans for years.

With war a seemingly constant topic of discussion among humans in every country on the planet, it is nice to look at it from an objective and largely unemotional place. These interesting facts can take any war conversation from the political to the material in just a few seconds. Roach really explores the humanity behind war and the scientist trying to keep soldiers alive and as happy as possible as they try to kill one another.

Book Fitting: Wedding Planning

I am getting married! I was never the type of girl to dream about my future wedding and plan it out in detail… I was more likely to fantasize about the layout of my future home library or how my first archaeological dig would go.  But now I’m faced with the seemingly monumental task of planning a wedding for my friends, my family, and myself. This is far easier on my Fiance (of course) since he is an only child with a small family and I’m from a massive Irish Catholic family who all expect to be invited as well as a certain level of pomp and circumstance (and an open bar).

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Due to the upcoming nuptials and my complete ignorance when it comes to planning something like this, I have been getting into the wedding guides and wedding book selections offered in our collection.  The wedding is going to be a do-it-yourself affair, hopefully at an outdoor venue with an indoor reception. Music, budget, decor, food, dresses, color schemes, invitations, vows, gifts for the wedding party, rehearsal dinner – all of it is in my wildly unprepared and  untrained hands, oh and the whole thing is going to be popping off in about a year and a half.

Awesome. Did I mention I wanted to elope?

The Knot: Outdoor Weddings : Fresh Ideas for events in gardens, vineyards, beaches, mountains, and more by Carly Roney

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Like I said above, I want to get married outdoors and this book has a lot of awesome photographs and ideas. These couples make weddings look so easy! Just show up on a mountain top or in a barn strung with fairy lights looking like love incarnate and BOOM, married. Though this book is less about planning your wedding and much more about style, there were a lot helpful hints about keeping your guests comfortable no matter what the weather has in store and how to come up with a sensible and still beautiful “Plan B” in case the storm of the century happens on your special day. Rain on a wedding day is supposed to be good luck, right?

Style Me Pretty Weddings : Inspiration & Ideas for an Unforgettable Celebration by Abby Larson

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Who doesn’t want to be pretty? Especially on your wedding day. This is the first book I looked at that used “tablescape,” a word that fills me with anxiety and dread. The plates and flatware need to be planned for how they look against tablecloths? WHY!? While the cover of this book may look very traditional, don’t judge a book by it’s cover.  It was definitely written with millennials (the vast majority of people getting married at the moment) in mind. The ideas are cute, quirky, easily personalized, and in many cases, affordable. I really liked the “Advice” and “Special Touches” sections in the book. Basically these sections are quick little “don’t panic, go with your gut, you’ll be fine” reminders. That’s something every bride-to-be could use right! What’s even better is that all this advice is offered up by the couple whose wedding is being profiled. Real life advice from people who have been there, very helpful indeed! They even go a step further with a whole DIY section for some of the decor found in the featured weddings. I got a lot of ideas from the “whimsical” and “al fresco” chapters in this book. Each chapter represents a style of wedding and comes with a style blueprint so if you love a certain style or want to combine styles it’s really easy to figure out how to get the look you want.

Martha Stewart Weddings: Ideas & inspiration by Martha Stewart 

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Hyper-organized, very beautiful, and EXTREMELY detailed in a way only Martha Stewart can be, this book delves into every aspect of planning a wedding from engagement, to ceremony and reception and finally send off. The advice and styles come from Martha Stewart Weddings magazine which began in 1995. Trends over the last two decades are identified as well as what is currently hot and what is not. Included are step by step guides to EVERYTHING included in this impressive volume. Martha (yes we are on a first name basis now) even gives you helpful break down of the budget, how to merge religions in one ceremony, the names of different dress styles, and great advice on writing your vows. I am still in the beginning stages of planning so this book was a little overwhelming for me but I can definitely see using it a lot down the road. I’m going to have to buy a copy!

Weddings in Color by Vane Broussard & Minhee Cho

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You guys, this book is so much FUN. It’s just color palletes that are then broken down by how those colors can be used in flowers, fashion, paper products, “tablescapes” *shudder* and more. At the end of each chapter they have an “Ask the Expert” section about catering, cakes, fashion, and planning. This is a really great beginning-to-get-excited-about-your-wedding book and a great one to help you nail your color scheme and get DIY projects planned out. Not so helpful with scheduling and planning things down to the last microsecond/cent like Martha does (love her but terrified of her) but it’s a great starting point and super fun book.

And at last, my favorite title.

Elope

*All book cover images are from the tadl.org catalog. The top “bridezilla” image is from eecards.com. The featured image at the top of the page is from http://www.weddingpartyapp.com/blog/2013/12/27/2013-year-bridezilla-favorite-stories/

Fine Print Revived!!!

Hello all you Traverse Area District Library patrons and Fine Print readers!

I’m Colleen, the newest sheriff in town.

I mean Adult Services

I wanted to revive this blog for a couple of reasons. I think it is a great vehicle to showcase our collection and get to know you, our patrons! I also love how clever and down to Earth Annie’s writing is and I hope I can emulate her style. Finally, I love to read and I love libraries, why wouldn’t I want to write about them?

The blog, for now, will keep its original style and featured content while I’m getting used to writing it, but that could change in the future. I am thinking about having an entire feature just for trying out cookbooks, a look at classic science fiction, pulp novels, and other under appreciated literature, and a review of our various book club discussions!  For now though, enjoy the first post since the revival of this blog:  3 to 5 Questions for Authors with Mardi Jo Link!

3 to 5 Questions: Mardi Jo Link

3 to 5 Questions for Authors:

In Which A Librarian asks a Talented Author a Small Number of Questions

Mardi Jo Link started her publishing career with true crime titles like When Evil Came to Good Hart, Isadore’s Secret, and Wicked Takes the Witness Stand. In 2013,  this Michigan native switched to biographical material. Her memoir, Bootstrapper: From Broke to Badass On a Northern Michigan Farm, was an Indie Next pick, has been optioned for film, and received significant national attention. Her latest book, The Drummond Girls: A Story of Fierce Friendship Beyond Time and Chance, tells the story about how her eight best friends met and how they now take yearly trips to Drummond Island and will be out in paperback this August. Mardi’s books are uniquely North Michigan and are filled with so much humor and heart (yes, even the true crime books) that they are hard to put down. Her books have been wildly popular in Michigan as well as all over the country. We met for coffee and breakfast at Brew in order for me to ask her a small number of questions.

I love both your true crime books and your memoirs, why did you choose to stop writing true crime?

After publishing my first books I was looking for an agent to take my career to the next level. In the meantime I had also published some essays about my life as a single parent and the agent who was most interested in my work suggested I write a memoir. So, I had the unexpected opportunity to turn the spotlight on my own life. Bootstrapper was the result.

Bootstrapper gets very detailed about life on the farm and the difficult time you went through keeping everything running on top of raising three boys! What was the most difficult part for you and what is your favorite farm animal?

I’d say the most difficult thing is the relentless string of issues that arose during that difficult year. There was always something to be fixed or something going wrong. I’d say my favorite animal is definitely horses though I was surprised at how interesting chickens are!

In Drummond Girls, the eight of you become friends at Peegeo’s Food and Sprits (some of you as employees and some of you as regulars at the bar). What was/is your favorite thing to order there?

Vodka Soda and deep fried cauliflower! Yum! Today I’m partial to their Veggie Sub.

In interest of Fine Print tradition, I’ve gotta ask, if you were a dewey decimal number, what number and why?

My answer, at least today, is American Colonial History (973) because I have been conducting research on my own family tree for my next book. I’m researching specifically the Penn’s Creek Massacre and two young German girls a Delaware Indian raiding party captured and then raised when their parents settled on Indian land. I’m not sure what form the book will take, and to help me figure that out for the first time I’m doing something called “blogging your book.” Which just means blogging about the writing and research process. You can find it at  “A string around my finger.