Monday, October 20, 2014

Eat Brains Love - by Jeff Hart

Slacker Jake is so embarassed when he turns into a zombie in the school cafeteria and then goes on a rampage and gobbles up his friends, but it turns out not to be so bad when he discovers that Amanda Blake, one of the most popular girls in school, has also turned and they get to go on the lam together. He is also baffled by the romantic attention he receives from Cass, a psychic teenage zombie hunter. Cass is equally confused by her attraction to Jake. A truly goofy teenage zombie love triangle.

The only play librarians get in this one is as a stereotype/metaphor. Remembering his life pre-zombie Jake recounts going to a club with his friend Adam.

The place was more crowded than we'd been expecting, and some dumb-ass band was playing, and there were all these chicks with tattoos and little black glasses hopping up and down and rocking out like it was GWAR...Adam was in heaven; he loves those alternative librarian types. Give him a girl with bangs, glasses and a tight little cardigan and he goes nuts. I lost him within minutes of stepping into the place.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - by Ransom Riggs

Using real vintage photographs Ransom Riggs creates an eerie story of time travel and creepy kids. Miss Peregrine's charges live in a "loop" in which it is always September 3, 1940. They are visited by Jacob, whose grandfather once lived among them. Jacob tells them about the future, and gives them the sad news that his grandfather, Abe, has died. Jacob discovers that he, too, is "peculiar" and learns that the stories his grandfather told him growing up (about kids with such gifts as the ability to levitate, and invisibility) were all true.

After Jacob witnesses his grandfather's death, and swears he saw a real monster kill him, Jacob's parents send him to Dr. Golan who recommends a visit to the library to see if he can make any sense of his grandfather's last words. He falls asleep over some of Ralph Waldo Emerson's writing, and wakes up screaming, upon which he is "unceremoniously ejected from the library."

Also at Dr. Golan's suggestion, Jacob and his father travel to Scotland to visit the place his grandfather lived. There he finds a library in Miss Peregrine's home. The first time it appears in the present day in an abandoned and bombed out building where "the creep of moisture had bowed the shelves into crooked smiles". He sees it again as it appeared in 1940 where it was in "a real classroom". He finds in the library the Map of Days (easy to find because it was "the largest one in the library").

A good spooky read for October. I plan to read the sequel.

Island Girls - by Nancy Thayer

Like Thayer's A Nantucket Christmas this is a story of family drama and redemption. Three women (Arden, Jenny, and Meg) all daughters of the same man (Rory Randall) but three different mothers must spend the summer together in his Nantucket home in order to inherit it. The three have reason to distrust each other, and when an old family mystery is solved their three mothers are also invited for a completely awkward family reunion.

While not the location of any of the action in the book, the Library is has its role as a place of escape. It was a place that Meg retreated to as a young girl after an altercation with her step-mother, and the three women clearly still appreciated the comfort and proximity of the library as adults as they continued to use it for books and movies all summer. Renewing her library card and checking out a mystery were some of the first things Arden did upon arrival on the island.

This was a simple escape novel. I do like that Thayer brings the women together in the end, rather than going for the cat fight.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Artemis Fowl - by Eoin Colfer

I'm not sure whether I liked this one or not. To be sure, the characters were rather unlikeable. I didn't really sympathize with any of them. I do, however, like a book with a lot of twists and turns, and one that doesn't always have a neat ending in which everyone gets what they deserve.  I also liked that the story hinged on getting and decoding a book (much the same way Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore did). It brings together my two passions of books and languages.

In this work, young Artemis Fowl, a prepubescent mastermind, finagles the fairy code book from an alcoholic gutter-dwelling fairy, and uses his new found knowledge to kidnap fairy Holly Short. The resulting negotiations involve centaurs, dwarves, trolls, and "a ton of gold".

Libraries were mentioned twice, although there were no actual libraries in the book. The fairy from whom Artemis procures the fairy code book originally tells him that she is a healer and has no book. "You want book, go to library" she admonishes him.

The other use of library was as a unit of measure. While it is not usual for a library to be used as a metaphor to denote a large amount of information (I write about this in one of the earliest posts on this blog), I have never considered that there would be a specific measure of this. But, it appears that magical folk have indeed created a system of measurement using libraries as a unit. Specifically we learn that 10 gigabytes equals "half a library." It would of course follow that 20 gigabytes of information is "in paper terms" a full library. So now we know.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Public Library : A Photographic Essay - by Robert Dawson

Dawson's breathtaking photographs show both the good and the bad of public libraries. Pictures of economic disparity and closures are contrasted with those of  hope, whimsy, innovation, and determination. From the historic Carnegie libraries, to the large modern buildings that also serve as art galleries, to the trailers, to shared post office spaces these photographs show the importance of the public library to its community. Accompanying essays written by those who love libraries support Dawson's visual work. Stories of early colonists who burned books considered blasphemous, and librarians who guarded material, rather than allowing free exchange of ideas are balanced with those who keep libraries open despite shrinking budgets, ensure that all have access to books, and introduce young people to new ideas.

A visually stunning book.