Author Archive

Local Indie Spotlight: Hans Giplaye

Friday, August 15th, 2014

shadow of death

An interesting and sad tale is told by this Grand Rapids nurse as he remembers his life in Liberia in the 1990s. In the Shadow of Death: Growing up During the Liberian Civil War, Hans Giplaye tells of the horrors he witnessed at the hands of the rebels, such as civilians massacred because they are from a different tribe. He was 9 when the civil war began; when it was over he was 16. Hans and his siblings manage to survive thanks to his uncle, whose own family is killed. His uncle leads them all over Liberia searching for peace and safety but often the tranquility does not last long as the rebels or government forces advance and inflict horrific pain and suffering. Hans’s parents manage to escape to the U.S. early in the conflict but due to strict  immigration policies and lack of a stable government in Liberia, Hans is not able to reunite with his family for many years. This book gives an interesting first-hand account of the Liberian civil war and tells a bit about the history of Liberia.

Hans Giplaye’s book is part of the Local Indie @ KDL collection, housed at the Cascade Township and Kentwood (Richard L. Root) branches. It was created to give independent authors, filmmakers and musicians the opportunity to be added to our shelves and to be featured by staff in order to increase viewers, readers and listeners.

Click here to browse our Local Indie @ KDL collection.

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Da Na Na Na Na Na Na Na… Batman

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014



Tim Burton’s rendition of Batman was released on June 23, 1989 starring Michael Keaton as Batman and Jack Nicholson as the Joker. The movie was a huge success, making $100 million in the first 10 days — a summer blockbuster that year. It was so successful they decided to make a sequel called Batman Returns.

KDL has the DVD version of Tim Burton’s Batman and many other Batman-related books and materials including the newer Batman DVDs starring Christian Bale, such as Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises. So if you are like me and you just cannot get enough Batman, be sure to place a couple holds.


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Local Indie Spotlight: Robb N. Johnston

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

wood cutterThe Woodcutter and the Most Beautiful Tree by Robb N. Johnston
In this picture book, The Most Beautiful Tree has discovered ways of outsmarting the singing woodcutter from chopping him down through the seasons, but when winter arrives, what can the tree do to survive? This book was written and illustrated by Robb N. Johnston, who resides in Rockford and was inspired to write this story during his time teaching English in Japan. What is really fantastic about this book are the illustrations. Not only does the woodsman have a textured, wooly sweater, the tree has captivating, graphic foliage all year round. The author and illustrator has used a variety of mediums in his illustrations that bring the book to life, and also in the hearts of the readers. It is no surprise that he was inspired by the culture of Japan; his images are reminiscent of the work of Japanese artists today.
This book is best suited for children older than 5, but can be enjoyed by adults.

Johnston’s book is part of the Local Indie @ KDL collection, housed at the Cascade Township and Kentwood (Richard L. Root) branches. It was created to give independent authors, filmmakers and musicians the opportunity to be added to our shelves and to be featured by staff in order to increase viewers, readers and listeners.

Click here to browse our Local Indie @ KDL collection.


Reviewed by Emily at the Cascade Township Branch


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KDL Has All the Right Ingredients

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Do you need some inspiration for that big Christmas dinner? Well do not fret; your local branch of KDL will have you covered with cookbooks. KDL even has some Christmas recipe cookbooks. Some of these just focus of sweets, such as The Great Christmas Cookie Swap Cookbook: 60 Large-Batch Recipes to Bake and Share. Or maybe you are looking to make a more traditional Christmas Tea — you could find motivation in The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook, which includes a recipe for Mrs. Patmore’s Christmas pudding, which I’m sure is delectable. Want something more modern but that is still recognizable in pop culture? How about Debbie
Macomber’s Christmas Cookbook.

Maybe you need more help than just recipes and want insight into hosting your first big family Christmas gathering; there is a book all about Christmas entertaining.

No matter what your holiday plans may be, if you need help with Christmas recipes, crafts, or any other ideas, you will want to check out what is on the shelf of your local Kent District Library. Remember if you cannot find what you need, you can always put in a request to have the materials brought over.



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Writers Between the Covers — and Beneath the Veneer

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Are you a nonfiction reader? Then Anthony at the Cascade Township branch has a book recommendation for you.

indexCA1IIX5MOnce you realize that Fifty Shades of Grey is not a book about interior decorating, it makes one wonder, how do writers come up with this stuff? Is it based in experience or pure creative writing? Isn’t this the realm of cheap romance novels and something to be avoided by a “great” writer? Aren’t great writers supposed to be separate from the romance writers who seem like movie porn stars, never able to cross over into “respectable” literature?

Shannon McKenna Schmidt and Joni Rendon say that while researching a previous book about some of the great writers of both distant and recent history, “we repeatedly found ourselves sidetracked by the ‘love’ aspect. Intriguing and surprising details emerged about their unorthodox and salacious behavior….” It led them to tell all in Writers Between the Covers, the Scandalous Romantic Lives of Legendary Literary Casanovas, Coquettes, and Cads.

Long before the days of cell phones, blogging, Facebook and YouTube, letters were the main form of communicating. Undoubtedly, one’s private and public life were more easily separated but, like today, “scandals” occurred when private life became public. Still, Schmidt and Rendon claim writers “got away with unsavory behavior because, after all, they were artists. And aren’t artists supposed to be bohemian, mysterious and unpredictable?”

They provide example after example of how indeed a writer’s personal life was a base of inspiration for literary work. “Gertrude Stein only became famous after channeling the voice of her longtime love, Alice B. Toklas.… Others used the humble letter to fill the void in the days before phone sex and Internet porn…” It is those events, “often documented in titillating detail in the writer’s own hand,” that fill the pages of this entertaining book. One can only guess at what that says about current popular writers. In any case, this is guaranteed to keep the blood flowing on a cold winter night.


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Book Discussion Recommendation

Monday, December 16th, 2013

rfDo you need a good book for your book discussion group? Suzanne, our resident book group leader, has a recommendation for you.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Mohsin Hamid
AF Multicultural

This short book could be highly recommended for discussions for quite a few reasons. I found it to be intriguingly written. The entire content is one side of a conversation taking place at a busy café in Lahore, Pakistan, as two men discuss the changes in the speaker’s life, the city and the world in general in current times. Because of the content of the reminiscences—of how events, including those of September 11, 2001, have affected the speaker’s worldview—it has been deemed too controversial by some patrons to whom I have suggested it. I still will recommend it—there is so much to discuss!

The family of the main character (whose name, oddly enough, is Changez) has been affected by the continual unrest in Pakistan. Their fortunes have greatly diminished, so Changez is thrilled to receive scholarships to Princeton, where he can pursue his American Dream, in the Land of Opportunity. His dedication to his studies and later in business wins him the admiration of his professors as well as his peers. Then comes September 11, and all things change for him.

Author Hamid documents the manner in which a young man–even a very thoughtful and insightful young man—might need to alter his worldview, in light of how those in the Western world treat those from the greater Middle East–and view their entire home countries– especially if they have Islamic roots. Thus the title. Hamid provides a perspective most Westerners don’t bother to consider.

(Also highly recommended by Suzanne—the DVD based on this book, though the story has been necessarily altered and expanded.)


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Christmas Movies

Monday, December 9th, 2013

It’s starting to get cold and snowy outside, and that can only mean one thing — we are getting closer to Christmas. Along with Christmas comes decorating the tree, singing carols, giving gifts and of course Santa Clause and his reindeer. But at my house it also means watching Christmas movies together. Kent District Library has lots of great holiday themed movies to choose from. Some of my favorite Christmas movies are the funny ones. My all time favorite has to be National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation starring Chevy Chase and a young Juliette Lewis and an even younger Johnny Galecki (who plays Leonard on the The Big Bang Theory), although the movie Scrooged staring Bill Murray may be a close second. But there have also been some newer Christmas-themed movies such as Four Christmases starring Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn. Plus we cannot forget the modern day Christmas classic that is A Christmas Story, which now has its own sequel, A Christmas Story 2.

Plus KDL has lots of Christmas movies for kids such as The Muppet Christmas Carol, so be sure to place your requests soon so that you can have them in time for Christmas.


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Middle East History Booklist

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

Do you have an interest in the history, politics and recent wars in the Middle East? Well then KDL has a fascinating booklist for you, Middle East History, or, Turmoil and War. Some of these books examine the recent instability in Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Libya, and Afghanistan. The list also contains books from people who are very familiar with or from the region, such as reflections from a former CIA Chief, the tale of a staff member from the state department, a memoir of a Middle East historian, and the views and opinions of the general Arab public as well as current and former terrorists. No matter what level of depth or knowledge you have about the Middle East, as long as you have some sort of curiosity about the region you will find a book on this list to match your interests.



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Local Indie Spotlight: Recoil Volume 1

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

RecoilFans of The Onion will enjoy this satirical collection of fake newspaper articles. Recoil is based in West Michigan; the entertainment magazine has been published monthly since 2001. It is full of imaginative and witty articles, ranging from worldwide headlines, editorial, sports, health, music, science and business. Just looking at some of the titles of the articles will give you a good feel for the book, such as “Report: 78 percent of angry teens too lazy to run away from home,” or “Man strains back applying back pain cream.” Not only does it have “news” articles, it also has spoof guides such as airplane etiquette, or the recoil guide to writing a screenplay. It also includes horoscopes, self-help sections and advice columns. This is well worth a browse and will most likely bring a smile to your face and probably even a chuckle or two.

Recoil: News Satire You Can Trust, Volume 1 is part of the Local Indie @ KDL collection, housed at the Cascade Township and Kentwood (Richard L. Root) branches. It was created to give independent authors, filmmakers and musicians the opportunity to be added to our shelves and to be featured by staff in order to increase viewers, readers and listeners.

Click here to browse our Local Indie @ KDL collection.

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The New 52: Superhero Redux

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

I have always enjoyed Batman, especially when Christopher Nolan re-launched the Batman films. But I never really got into the graphic novels because I thought the storylines might be so confusing or convoluted with past character interactions and story plots that I would be out of the loop.

However, DC Comics, the creators of iconic super heroes such as Batman, Superman, Flash and Wonder Woman, have decided to relaunch their entire line of graphic novels. The revamping of the storylines is called The New 52 and began in 2011 with the Justice League. While I just discovered The New 52 a week ago, I have been really impressed with the artwork and storylines of the few graphic novels I have read. I have read voraciously the first volumes of Batman, Batman Dark Night, Batgirl, Green Arrow and am about to start reading Batwoman and Catwoman once my holds come in.  So if you have ever had any interest in reading your favorite superhero graphic novels but had been put off, now is your chance to start while the storylines have started over.



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