Posted in Adult, Graphic Novels & Memoirs, LGBTQI+, Teen & Young Adult

LGBTQI+ Graphic Novels to Read During Pride Month, or Anytime, Really

In a continuation of last week’s post centered on LGBTQI+ excellence in books and movies, please enjoy this list of graphic novels to celebrate Pride and the inherent talent and diversity within. Below, I highlight four graphic novels that are worth a look whether it’s Pride month or not. Book descriptions were sourced from publisher information.

Goldie Vance (2016) by Lilliam Rivera (ongoing series)

This series is what it might look like if Nancy Drew liked girls and had non-white friends. 16-year-old Marigold “Goldie” Vance lives at a Florida resort with her dad, who manages the place. Her mom, who divorced her dad years ago, works as a live mermaid at a club downtown. Goldie has an insatiable curiosity, which explains her dream to one day become the hotel’s in-house detective. When Charles, the current detective, encounters a case he can’t crack, he agrees to mentor Goldie in exchange for her help solving the mystery utilizing her smarts, random skills, and connections with the hotel staff and various folks in town. Available on Hoopla.

The Backstagers (2017) by James Tynion IV 

James Tynion IV (Detective Comics, The Woods) teams up with artist Rian Sygh (Munchkin, Stolen Forest) for an incredibly earnest story that explores what it means to find a place to fit in when you’re kinda an outcast. When Jory transfers to an all-boys private high school, he’s taken in by the lowly stage crew known as the Backstagers. Hunter, Aziz, Sasha, and Beckett become his new best friends and introduce him to an entire magical world that lives beyond the curtain that the rest of the school doesn’t know about, filled with strange creatures, changing hallways, and a decades-old legend of a backstage crew that went missing and was never found. Available on Hoopla. Ongoing series. 

Cosmoknights (2019) by Hannah Termpler

Pan’s life used to be very small. Work in her dad’s body shop, sneak out with her friend Tara to go dancing, and watch the skies for freighter ships. It didn’t even matter that Tara was a princess… until one day it very much did matter, and Pan had to say goodbye forever. Years later, when a charismatic pair of off-world gladiators show up on her doorstep, she finds that life might not be as small as she thought. On the run and off the galactic grid, Pan discovers the astonishing secrets of her neo-medieval world… and the intoxicating possibility of burning it all down. Available on Hoopla.

Bingo Love (2018) by Tee Franklin

When Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray met at church bingo in 1963, it was love at first sight. Forced apart by their families and society, Hazel and Mari both married young men and had families. Decades later, now in their mid-’60s, Hazel and Mari reunite again at a church bingo hall. Realizing their love for each other is still alive, what these grandmothers do next takes absolute strength and courage. Available on Hoopla. 

Additional LGBTQI+ graphic novels to celebrate Pride month with:

The Authority (2000) by Warren Ellis
Fence (2018) by CS Pacat
Gender Queer (2019) by Maia Kobabe
Lumberjanes (2015) by Noelle Stevenson
Mooncakes (2019) by Susanne Walker
Runaways (2006) by Brian K. Vaughn
Smile (2010) by Raina Telgemeier

All of the above titles can be found in the Monarch catalog. Most of the titles are available on Hoopla. In fact, Hoopla is host to hundreds of comic book and graphic novel titles, so no matter one’s interest area there is bound to be something that appeals. 

Please do not hesitate to reach out for help requesting material or troubleshooting tech stuff. As always, we are thrilled to pieces to give reader’s advisory book recommendations whether it’s for Pride month or any other occasion.

Posted in Adult, Fiction, Film, LGBTQI+, Nonfiction

Celebrate Pride with LGBTQI+ Excellence

Happy Pride month! June is for celebrating queer culture and remembering the innovators and agitators who fought for, and continue to fight for gay rights and freedom. While there is much work to be done, it’s important to take some time to reflect on the progress made. Commemorate and celebrate along with the community by engaging with queer-created content. Below, I list books and movies to educate and entertain alongside the celebration.

Books 

Anyone who has been paying attention to publishing trends over the past decade should be pleased to notice the availability of more and more diverse books. Whether you’re talking romance, sci-fi, memoir, or history, there is something for everybody. And guess what? You don’t even need to be gay to enjoy all this great content.

In the Dream House: a Memoir (2019) by Carmen Maria Machado; considered one of the best books of 2019, Machado uses horror tropes to explore the impact of abuse in same-sex relationships.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (2017) by Mackenzie Lee; being gay in contemporary times is still, sadly, fraught with danger. This book explores the stifling conventions of 17th century nobility and how they impacted people who are not content to live within the bounds of convention. Lots of fun, with a third book in the series debuting this fall. 

Pet (2019) by Akwaeke Emezi; I have for sure blogged about this book minimum once before, and I will admit it’s likely I will blog about it again, but this book is so good. Just. So, so good. It’s fantasy, but real. It’s the future, but not too far away. Monsters come in all forms, and Pet examines them with great feeling and humanity. 

Sissy: a Coming-of-Gender Story (2019) by Jacob Tobias; assigned male at birth, Tobias uses their story to explore how a stringent gender binary is keeping us from fully being who we really are. Might want to read someplace you won’t get looked at funny for laughing out loud.

Wow, No Thank You (2020) by Samantha Kirby; Super funny collection of essays about the author’s life.

Movies

All About My Mother (1999) by Pedro Almodovar; considered one of Almodovar’s best. Riffing on golden age of Hollywood sensibilities and Betty Davis, this is the story of a mother’s journey across Spain to inform her estranged husband of the death of their son. 

Boys Don’t Cry (1999) This movie will devastate you. Don’t watch it alone and don’t watch it if you cannot stomach violence. Do watch it to gain some understanding about the dangers of being trans in a world that doesn’t want trans people to exist. Hillary Swank won Best Actress for her portrayal of Brandon Teena which now leads us to some fascinating conversations about trans actors representing themselves on screen. 

Moonlight (2016) directed by Barry Jenkins; this is hands-down one of the most beautiful movies ever made. We follow protagonist Chiron through three life phases as he grows from a boy into a man. Another worthy exploration of race and sexuality in America. And let’s not forget about the best acting of the year coming from Mahershala Ali as Juan, one of the only adults to show young Chiron an ounce of tenderness. Currently available on Kanopy. 

Paris is Burning (1990) directed by Jennie Livingston; this wonderful, shiny and bright documentary explores the African American and Latinx ballroom drag scene of 1980s Harlem against the backdrop of the AIDS crisis, homophobia, transphobia, and racism. If you enjoy Ryan Murphy’s Pose, you have to watch Paris is Burning. I don’t make the rules here, just do it. 

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) directed by Celine Sciamma; gorgeous 17th century love story between two women. Now available on Kanopy.

Many of the books and movies mentioned above can be found on Mead’s Pride book display, located on the first floor, until the end of June, 2021. All titles are available in the Monarch catalog, often in multiple formats, as well. Don’t see anything that grabs you? We are thrilled, THRILLED to help you find what you are looking for. That goes for any genre or topic piquing your interest at any particular time, diverse or not. Never hesitate to reach out for book recommendations or tech help, we love that stuff. And remember: just because we celebrate in June doesn’t mean we go without Pride all year long. 

Don’t forget to check back next week for a list of LGBTQI+ graphic novels!

Posted in Adult, Fiction, Teen & Young Adult

Books With Wisconsin Connections

Did you know that Stephen King wrote a book set in Wisconsin? I didn’t! I also didn’t know that Neil Gaiman has a home near Menomonie or that YA author Shannon Schuren is a librarian right next door in Sheboygan Falls and YA author Amy Zhang went to high school in Sheboygan Falls! So below, please find some books that have a Wisconsin setting or connection. (Also, you can find an interview in the Sheboygan Press with Shannon Schuren right here!)

Black House by Stephen King and Peter Straub

Twenty years ago, a boy named Jack Sawyer traveled to a parallel universe called the Territories to save his mother and her “Twinner” from an agonizing death that would have brought cataclysm to the other world. Now Jack is a retired Los Angeles homicide detective living in the nearly nonexistent hamlet of Tamarack, Wisconsin. He has no recollection of his adventures in the Territories, and he was compelled to leave the police force when a happenstance event threatened to awaken those long-suppressed and dangerous memories.

When a series of gruesome murders occurs in western Wisconsin, reminiscent of heinous killings committed several decades earlier, Jack’s buddy, the local chief of police, begs Jack to help find the killer. But are these new killings merely the work of a disturbed individual, or has a mysterious and malignant force been unleashed in this quiet town? What causes Jack’s inexplicable waking dreams—if that is what they are—of robins’ eggs and red feathers? As these cryptic messages become impossible to ignore, Jack is drawn back to the Territories and to his own hidden past.

Continue reading “Books With Wisconsin Connections”
Posted in Adult, Horror, Mystery, Science Fiction, Staff Picks, Teen & Young Adult

Book I Have Been Saving to Read on Vacation

What’s your favorite coping method? Lately I’ve got two. First, I’ve been daydreaming and scheming over the past 14 months about having a mini road trip adventure. Soon I will leave my dark hovel and re-enter the bright, shining world, and when that time arrives I know which books are coming with. Which leads me to coping mechanism #2; keeping an eternal, endless reading list that will never get shorter, only longer. Always longer. Check out my list below for some summer reading inspiration of your own. What’s that? It’s not officially summer til June 20th? Why don’t you tell someone who hasn’t been living in their head for the better part of a year and a half, because I will never listen.

Below, I list my top three genres and the books I’ve been saving to read on the road, along with their runners-up.

The HORROR:


The Twisted Ones (2019) by T. Kingfisher

Some will know T. Kingfisher as Ursula Vernon, author of the very popular juvenile graphic novel series, Dragonbreath. She felt the need to create a pen name to distinguish the adult titles from the juvenile titles, and after enjoying work published under both names, I can see why. Kingfisher spins dark fairytale-adjacent stories filled with sinister characters, terrifying big boss-style monsters, and genre-defying badass women. Check out some of her short fiction HERE. I’ll look for a spooky roadside motel near the woods to read this one at night. 

Here are some additional titles to make your skin crawl:

The Luminous Dead (2019) by Caitlin Starling
The Remaking (2019) by Clay McLeod Chapman
The Library at Mount Char (2016) by Scott Hawkins
Behind Closed Doors (2016) by BA Paris


The MYSTERY:


And Then There Were None (1939) by Agatha Christie

Summertime is murder mystery time, specifically Agatha Christie time. There’s just something about the warmth and the light that makes me want to read her work. One would think that after being a Christie stan for more than two decades I would have already gotten to this gold-star standard, but no. Along with Death on the Nile, The ABC Murders, and A Caribbean Murder, And Then There Were None is considered among her greatest novels. I have seen minimum one movie adaptation but have since forgotten whodunnit, but should know the solution to the mystery by the end of my vacation, if all goes according to plan. Ideally, picnicking somewhere gorgeous.

And Then There Were None is also a fascinating example of how beloved media can, and should change over time. The original title of this book featured the worst racial epithet I can think of and was also known at one time as “Ten Little Indians”. To read more about the racism subsequent publishers have done their best to purge from Christie’s work, take a look at THIS article. It’s an apt topic to explore and discuss while everyone is so het up about “cancel culture”. Some things should be relegated to the past, and unnecessary and negative portrayals of racial stereotypes is one of those things.

More mysteries to read in the sunshine:


Secondhand Spirits (2012) by Juliet Blackwell (available in Overdrive/Hoopla)
The Devotion of Suspect X (2011) by Keigo Higashino
Murder In G Minor (2016) by Alexia Gordon (Only available on Hoopla)
Naked In Death (1995) by JD Robb

The SPACE OPERA:


The Outside (2019) by Ada Hoffman

This book checks a lot of boxes for me; outer space, giant space station, giant space station disaster, artificial intelligence, neurodivergent protagonist, woman author. The past decade has been a cavalcade of excellent women and femme-penned speculative fiction and scifi, all to the credit of the genre. Reading about far off galaxies and hitherto unknown beings gives me a sense of calm and peace that I can’t articulate. I’m going to read this at an outdoor patio while I wait to be brought something delicious to eat and drink.

And EVEN MORE space operas:

The Empress of Forever (2019) by Max Gladstone
Salvation (2018) by Peter F. Hamilton
The Stars Are Legion (2017) Kameron Hurley
Too Like the Lightning (2016) by Ada Palmer

Will I actually end up reading the books I have picked out? No way to tell. Chances are that I will find many distracting and cruddy paperbacks in secondhand stores while I gallivant far and wide.
All listed titles are available through the Monarch catalog unless otherwise specified. Don’t see any titles that float your boat? Why not give the Your Next Five Books tool a try? Never hesitate to reach out for tech help, book recommendations, or encouraging words. Email publicservices@meadpl.org or call 920-459-3400, option 4. Oh, and have a fantastic vacation.

Posted in Adult, Poetry

Finding a Favorite Poet (Guest Lisa Vihos)

This week, I asked Sheboygan Poet Laureate Lisa Vihos if she’d be willing to close out National Poetry Month by sharing some recommendations for poetry she loves! She was kind enough to do so, and here’s what she wanted to share:

When someone asks me “who is your favorite poet?” I am usually at a loss because I don’t have just one favorite poet. I have many! I don’t even have one favorite kind of poetry. By that I mean, I’m not more partial to free verse than I am to formal poems (like haiku, sestinas, sonnets or villanelles). I like them all! If you are writing poems, forms are fun to experiment with because they provide a structure that needs to be maintained, but without sounding forced. That is always a great and interesting challenge. I recently learned of a Vietnamese poem form called a luc bat in which the lines alternate between six syllables and eight syllables, and in which the rhyme scheme is rather complex across the lines:

x x x x x A

x x x x x A x B

x x x x x B

x x x x x B x C

x x x x x C

x x x x x C x D

etc. as long as you want to go! I actually wrote several luc bat poems for the recent project, Poetry by Post, that will be on view in the display case on the first floor of the library in the month of May. See if you can find the luc bats!

As for some favorite poets, I’ll give you a few who I always love to return to, as well as one poet who I just recently discovered. Head to the stacks and look for:

Rumi: Bridge to the Soul by Rumi

Rumi was a 13th century Persian poet and Sufi mystic. What I love about his poems (in translation, of course!) is the way that they sound very contemporary to me, even though they were written eight centuries ago. His words are so full of wisdom and show the interconnectedness of all things.

Continue reading “Finding a Favorite Poet (Guest Lisa Vihos)”
Posted in Kids 5-12, Nonfiction, Science, Uncategorized

Love Your Mother Earth

Environmental issues have been receiving increasing attention in recent years. Earth is facing a lot of problems, many as a direct result of human activity. With Earth Day coming up on April 22nd, this is a great time to remember to bring awareness to the issues our planet is facing and what we can do as individuals and communities to help care for our planet and keep it healthy. Have a conversation with the kids in your life about what it would mean to them to have a healthy place to live and what they can do to help make that happen. Take this day as an opportunity to show Mother Earth some love and participate in an environmentally friendly activity together. Some fun and easy ideas you may want to consider trying include: taking a walk and picking up trash around your neighborhood, planting a tree, planting a pollinator garden, repurposing unwanted items, doing a closet cleanout and donating no longer needed items for others to use, or creating an art masterpiece from recycled materials. Remember, the kindness we show our planet doesn’t have to take place on just one day. We can take steps to reduce our negative impact each day through simple acts. Supplement your environmentally friendly activity with a book that covers an environmental issue of interest. I have some nonfiction children’s book recommendations from our library that will educate and inspire kids to find ways they can help our planet and prevent issues from worsening.

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, Oscar! by Mary Lindeen

Sesame Street fans will appreciate the basic information given in this book that introduces younger readers to the concepts of recycling, reusing, and reducing in an effort to care for the environment. Sesame Street characters provide explanations for why we need to do these things, along with clear examples of how we can easily do them. Abby Cadabby gives readers the idea to reuse a can to hold pens, Oscar recommends eating foods that don’t have wrappers to reduce waste, and Rosita shows us a set of chairs that are made from recycled plastic. Delightful illustrations also include photographs of children demonstrating ways they help to take care of the environment.

Continue reading “Love Your Mother Earth”
Posted in Adult, Bingo 2021, Bookish Bingo, Poetry

Bookish Bingo Challenge: Poetry or Verse By a BIPOC Author

It’s time for another post to help you out with our 2021 Bookish Bingo Challenge! Below, you’ll find some recommendations for books of poetry by authors who are Black, Indigenous, or People of Color. I’ve tried to focus on new releases in this post as well. Some of the poets might be unfamiliar, but perhaps even those whose names you recognize will have a new book listed that you weren’t aware had come out!

And because no post like this could hope to be comprehensive, and because poetry particularly lends itself to anthologies, I’ve also added a little bit at the end about relevant ones. Descriptions below taken from the publishers via Edelweiss+.

An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo (2019) – or listen on Audiobook!

A stunning new volume from the first Native American Poet Laureate of the United States, informed by her tribal history and connection to the land.

In the early 1800s, the Mvskoke people were forcibly removed from their original lands east of the Mississippi to Indian Territory, which is now part of Oklahoma. Two hundred years later, Joy Harjo returns to her family’s lands and opens a dialogue with history. In An American Sunrise, Harjo finds blessings in the abundance of her homeland and confronts the site where her people, and other indigenous families, essentially disappeared. From her memory of her mother’s death, to her beginnings in the native rights movement, to the fresh road with her beloved, Harjo’s personal life intertwines with tribal histories to create a space for renewed beginnings. Her poems sing of beauty and survival, illuminating a spirituality that connects her to her ancestors and thrums with the quiet anger of living in the ruins of injustice. A descendent of storytellers and “one of our finest—and most complicated—poets” (Los Angeles Review of Books), Joy Harjo continues her legacy with this latest powerful collection.

Continue reading “Bookish Bingo Challenge: Poetry or Verse By a BIPOC Author”
Posted in Adult, Horror

The Scariest Book You’ve Ever Read

It’s a beautiful, sunny, windy day outside today, and I couldn’t think of what topic to write about, and so we have ended up at… the scariest book you’ve ever read! Why? I don’t know – perhaps the terror of not having a blog topic transformed into a need to write about horror books, or perhaps I’ve just been spending too much time looking at sewing patterns for Halloween costumes recently. Whatever the reason, it has led us here – to what my coworkers here at the library consider the scariest books they’ve ever read!

Descriptions below taken from the publisher or our catalog.

The Troop by Nick Cutter

Once every year, Scoutmaster Tim Riggs leads a troop of boys into the Canadian wilderness for a weekend camping trip. This year, something is waiting in the darkness. Something wicked….

An intruder stumbles upon their campsite like a wild animal. He is shockingly thin, disturbingly pale, and voraciously hungry. Within his body is a bioengineered nightmare, a horror that spreads faster than fear. One by one, the boys will do things no person could ever imagine….

Continue reading “The Scariest Book You’ve Ever Read”
Posted in Adult, DIY & How To, Nonfiction, Teen & Young Adult

Resources For Writers!

Whether you’ve got a novel in you, or a short story, or a poem… or you like journaling, or you want to write your family history, or you’re curious about any other kind of writing… the library can help! Full disclosure, this blog post is going to have some good writing resources in it, but it’s also an excuse for me to plug the fact that we have some writing programming going on as well! The groups are meeting virtually, of course, but the Sheboygan County Writers Club has two meetings, a large-group meeting and a small-group workshop, every month! Here are the links to the meetings for March: large group here, small group here.

But even if you can’t make it (or aren’t interested in that), there’s plenty of other library resources that can help out with writing. For instance…

Poets & Writers Magazine (also on Overdrive)

Poets & Writers Magazine is one of, if not the, best-known magazines about writing. In addition to having articles and essays about the craft of writing and interviews with all sorts of different writers, they also have an extensive Classifieds section at the end with information about upcoming writing contests, calls for submissions from literary magazines and agencies, people offering editing services, and all sorts of other resources for writing, editing, and publication.

Continue reading “Resources For Writers!”
Posted in Adult, Bingo 2021, Bookish Bingo, Teen & Young Adult

2021 Mead Bookish Bingo Challenge: Read an Epistolary Novel

Do you enjoy reading letters, emails, texts, or other people’s diary entries?  Then epistolary novels are for you.  Plainly explained, an epistolary novel is a story told through correspondence.  Written in a series of epistles, meaning missives or journal entries, the reader gets an intimate view of the characters’ innermost thoughts and experiences as the story unfolds.  As a reader, you cannot help but connect with these characters and think of them as acquaintances by the novel’s end.

Are you new to epistolary novels and don’t know what to choose?  I recommend three of my all-time favorites: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Sleeping Giants, and Griffin and Sabine.  The former is a heart-warming, post-war story of friendship, love, and resilience. The middle is a science fiction-mystery-thriller featuring extraterrestrial robot warriors.  The latter is filled with exquisite illustrations, and you get to physically open some of the letters which are contained in envelopes between the pages.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live a day in someone else’s shoes?  Give Gabi, a Girl in Pieces, the chronicles of a young Mexican-American teenage girl trying to survive her final year of high school, or Letters from Black America, a nonfiction narrative history of African Americans told through their own letters, a read-through.  Looking for a little LGBTQIA+ inspiration?  Try The Perks of Being a Wallflower or Empty Without You: the Intimate Letters of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok.

Maybe you crave a good heartbreaking but empowering tale like Code Name Verity, the story of two friends caught in the snares of WWII espionage, or Speak, the recount of a teen’s high school struggles post-rape, or The Power, the speculative discussion between two authors on what might have happened when females became the physically dominant gender.

If humor is what you’d prefer, check out The Screwtape Letters, a satire on human foibles discussed through missives passed between a bureaucrat from Hell and his incompetent apprentice; or consider Angus, Thongs and Full-frontal Snogging, a Bridget Jones’-style tell-all journal of a year in the life of a British teen.

Fancy something a little more scandalous?  Try the French epistolary novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses.  You might be familiar with the films it inspired: Dangerous Liaisons and Cruel Intentions.  Of course, there is also The Diary of Anaïs Nin.  Yes, THAT Anaïs Nin.

Whatever satisfies your prying inclinations, there is an epistolary novel calling your name, so don’t fight it.  Indulge and enjoy it guilt-free.  After all, it was written for you, reader.

For more titles, inspiration, and Bookish Bingo camaraderie, take a peek at the Mead’s Bookish Bingo Challenges group on Goodreads, and don’t forget to mark your 2021 Mead Bookish Bingo Challenges card!