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 Fantasy, Games, Horror, Science Fiction

Bonus Level!

With the ongoing pandemic, game releases have been a bit sparse. Despite that, there are still some games coming out this year worth getting excited for! I’ve selected a few of the games Mead will be getting and included their descriptions from their publishers.

New Pokémon Snap

Explore lush scenery on unknown islands to snap photos of Pokémon in their natural habitats

Seek out and take in-game photographs of Pokémon in their native environments in the New Pokémon Snap game, only for the Nintendo Switch system! Snap photos from the NEO-ONE as you encounter and research lively wild Pokémon. You might see unexpected expressions or behaviors—Pokémon patrolling their territory, playing, or lurking in out-of-the-way spots.

Investigate the mysterious Illumina phenomenon

Travel to the islands that make up the Lental region. In this region, some of the Pokémon and vegetation will appear to have a special glow. Research these Pokémon alongside Professor Mirror as you explore dense jungles, vast deserts, and more! Your observations of Pokémon thriving in the wild may help unravel the truth behind the Illumina phenomenon. The Pokémon pictures you take will be used to build your very own Pokémon Photodex!

Save, edit, and share your favorite Pokémon photos

Save photos to your personal in-game album to edit and adjust them. When you complete a course, you can adjust the brightness, blur, zoom and other aspects of your photo in Re-Snap mode. Then, add stickers, frames, and filters to add a personal touch. Share your favorite photos with family and friends in-game*. You can also see what kinds of photos everyone else is taking. See something you like? Award a Sweet! medal.

*Nintendo Switch Online membership (sold separately) and Nintendo Account required for online features. Not available in all countries. Internet access required for online features. Terms apply.”

Continue reading “Bonus Level!”
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 Award Winners, Fiction, Kids 0-5, Kids 5-12, Nonfiction, Teen & Young Adult, Uncategorized

Children’s Award Books 2021

The American Library Association recently announced the winners of the 2021 Youth Media Awards. High quality media for teens and children were awarded for their excellence under different categories. I’ve listed some of these remarkable award winners below and included links to our catalog so you can reserve your copies today!

John Newbery Medal

The John Newbery Medal is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. This year’s winner is When You Trap a Tiger, written by Tae Keller. In this story, a magical tiger from Korean folklore appears to Lily after she moves in with her dying grandmother. Something was stolen from the tiger long ago and an incredible deal is offered for its return.

Five Newbery Honor Books were named this year:

Continue reading “Children’s Award Books 2021”
Posted in Adult, Film, Mystery

International Mysteries, TV Edition

Way back when this blog was starting out, I did one of my very first posts on International Mysteries. I love mystery novels, and I especially enjoy ones set in other countries. This time around, I’m going to share some mystery TV shows set in other countries (and not only the United Kingdom because there are a million of those!). International travel might be off the table right now, so here’s the alternative – you get to see another country, and there’s a zero-percent chance of getting murdered!

The Doctor Blake Mysteries

There are five seasons of this show (which ended in 2017). They are set in (and were made in) Australia, but they are also historical – specifically, the late 1950s. Dr. Blake is a medical doctor who also works as the medical examiner when needed, which leads to him getting involved in investigating murders. The supporting characters are also good – especially the foil his character has in his housekeeper, Jean.

Continue reading “International Mysteries, TV Edition”
Posted in Fiction, Kids 5-12, Uncategorized

Look Ahead to a New Series

It’s that time of year when we can take a moment to look back on our experiences of the past year and look forward to what’s to come in the new year. I decided to take a look back on what our young readers checked out the most this past year. Books from the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series were the top six circulating titles from our children’s fiction collection. This series has maintained its popularity for over a decade now! The series follows a boy named Greg as he records his humorous experiences with middle school in his journal. Comical illustrations accompany his daily journal entries in this series that now includes 15 books. For fans of this series who may be looking for a new-to-you series for the new year, I’ve created a list for you all to check out below. I’ve included our catalog summaries of the first book of the series with each recommendation. Be sure to click the links below to request your copy through our catalog!

The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths

“Who wouldn’t want to live in a treehouse? Especially a 13-story treehouse that has a bowling alley, a see-through swimming pool, a tank full of sharks, a library full of comics, a secret underground laboratory, a games room, self-making beds, vines you can swing on, a vegetable vaporizer and a marshmallow machine that follows you around and automatically shoots your favorite flavored marshmallows into your mouth whenever it discerns you’re hungry. Life would be perfect for Andy and Terry if it wasn’t for the fact that they have to write their next book, which is almost impossible because there are just so many distractions, including thirteen flying cats, giant bananas, mermaids, a sea monsters pretending to be mermaids, enormous gorillas, and dangerous burp gas-bubblegum bubbles!” Take a look at the rest of The Treehouse series here.

Continue reading “Look Ahead to a New Series”
Posted in Adult, Fiction

New Year, New Books

According to the New York Times list of best selling books, some likely suspect heavy hitters top the list for 2020 including James Patterson and Ernest Cline. While I totally understand the comfort of a favorite author, why not ring in the New Year with some new authors? Below, I listed three best-selling books or authors of the year and their lesser-known read-alike counterparts.

Did you like Ready Player Two (2020) by Ernest Cline? Try Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits (2015) by David Wong. 

Ernest Cline hit the big time in 2011 with his massively popular Ready Player One. You read it. I read it. The neighbor kid read it. It was a satisfying, if vacuous bit of distracting fun, and while I haven’t read the sequel, I suspect RP2 is much the same. Where RP1 was heavy on pop-culture references and 1980s nostalgia, David Wong is all about the future, baby! In Futuristic Violence, protagonist Zoey Ashe unexpectedly inherits billions from her estranged father. She and her cat Stench Machine are then forced to contend with a city full of jacked up monster men out to live-stream her demise. I’ve been a fan of Wong since his days as editor-in-chief over at Cracked, and his genre fiction does not disappoint. How funny is this book? Two words: burrito drone. On the other side of the funny coin is some truly gut-churning (futuristic) violence, so a big heads-up to you on that. 

Continue reading “New Year, New Books”
Posted in Fiction, Kids 0-5, Kids 5-12, Nonfiction, Uncategorized

How Are You Feeling?

Understanding and communicating feelings can be challenging for young children. They don’t always have the words to express the feelings they are experiencing. You can help them learn how to express themselves by modeling appropriate ways to express your own feelings, describing how and why people feel the way they do in certain situations, and complimenting children when they use their words to describe their feelings. Reading picture books about characters going through different feelings, and discussing them is a fun way to help children to understand their own feelings as they relate to the characters. You can point to the characters’ facial expressions and ask what they are likely feeling and why, as well as ask the child if they have ever felt that way before. Learning to recognize and manage feelings is an important skill for children to learn. It will help them to build strong relationships and guide them in making good choices for themselves. There are many children’s books with characters experiencing different feelings. I have some recommendations below that are available from our children’s library.

How Are You Peeling?: Foods with Moods by Saxton Freymann

This is a really fun book that uses fruits and vegetables with faces carved into them as delightful illustrations. Each face has a different facial expression to go along with simple rhyming text that covers many different feelings and asks the reader how they feel in different situations. Have your child answer the rhyming prompts, and have them look at the facial expressions of the characters and try to describe what they think the characters are feeling.

Continue reading “How Are You Feeling?”