KDL Blog ‘Books & More’ Category

Author Pat Conroy Dies at Age 70

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

pat-conroyAuthor Pat Conroy died last week Friday at the age of 70Pat Conroy was well known for his books “The Great Santini“, “The Lords of Discipline” and “The Prince of Tides“.  He drew inspiration and stories from his own childhood in the marshlands of coastal Georgia and under the control of his domineering father.

Pat Conroy earned a BA in English from the Citadel and taught English while he was working on his first book.  His first few books didn’t receive much attention until 1974 when “Conrack” was turned into a movie.  “One of the greatest gifts you can get as a writer is to be born into an unhappy family,” Mr. Conroy told the writer John Berendt for a Vanity Fair profile in 1995. “I could not have been born into a better one.” He added: “I don’t have to look very far for melodrama. It’s all right there.”

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Animals on the Move

Monday, March 7th, 2016

If you have ever dreamed of having a safari adventure in South Africa, take a moment to browse through some memorable moments of a recent trip. In December of 2015, I travelled to South Africa with my husband to spend six days on a wildlife reserve. During that time we moved through the wilderness in a jeep, as we tracked giraffes, zebras, elephants, cheetahs, hippos and rhinos. This trip could become a reality for you, or at least an armchair excursion, with Fodor’s  The Complete Guide to African Safaris, or a video of South Africa.

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Some awesome interactions we witnessed were: an elephant and white rhino confrontation, zebras and giraffes running from a charging rhino, a cheetah on a casual walk…right by our jeep, and a group of hippos munching on dried grasses. Just imagine that you were in the jeep with us, so close that you could see the eyelashes of an elephant, the spots on a cheetah, and ticks on a giraffe’s neck! If this leads you to wanting to know more, you can research all these facts in our South African mammals collection.

Along with these interesting memories, I also enjoyed reading the book, Cover image for The elephant whisperer : my life with the herd in the African wildThe Elephant Whisperer: My life with the herd in the African wild, by Lawrence Anthony.

This inspirational  story takes the reader on a journey; with the true -to- life guide that purchased a reserve, and adopted a herd of wild elephants to roam across his magnificent land. This was definitely a trip to dream about!

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Author Louise Rennison Dies at Age 64

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

louise+rennisonLouise Rennison, beloved author of the hilarious Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series, passed away February 29, 2016.  Louise Rennison had a way of writing Georgia that was amusing to all ages but also very touching and realistic.  “The research period for each book usually included a visit to a secondary school, an experience the author likened to a “rock concert”. While some head teachers thought her subject matter too frank, she was unrepentant. “Surely they know what to expect [from my books]; they know they’re all about boys and snogging and all those experiences. What else am I going to talk about?

Each Georgia book also included British slang definitions which were liberally used throughout her books.  For those alone, you might want to check out a book and have a good laugh because that is what Louise would want.

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KDL Closing at Noon

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

Due to increasingly hazardous travel conditions, all KDL locations will close at noon today, Tuesday, March 1. All afternoon and evening events are cancelled. Please remember that our digital collection is always available at www.kdl.org/downloads! Stay safe!

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Check Out a Hot Spot

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Hot SpotBig news! Five KDL branches now offer circulating hot spots! Adult KDL cardholders can check out a Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE for up to 3 weeks at the following branches: Alto, Englehardt (Lowell), Nelson Township/Sand Lake, Spencer Township and Tyrone Township. All 18 KDL branches recently started offering circulating iPads, and this is a great enhancement to that service. You can place a hold on a hot spot; however, they will not travel in delivery from branch to branch. (Please note: If your home/pick-up branch is not one of the five libraries offering hot spots, you will need to call 616-784-2007 to place a hold.)

“With so much of everyday life – from plane tickets to product rebates – tied to the Internet, offering this service will make it easier for patrons who live in areas with poor access to get tasks done,” said Sandy Graham, Branch Manager of the Alto Branch. “Along with that, this device is so easy and convenient to use, it will give users the confidence to independently increase their digital skills.”

Visit a participating branch and we’ll be happy to help get you started.


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Thursday, February 25th, 2016

Due to hazardous road conditions KDL branches will remain closed until noon today (Thursday, Feb. 25). All morning programs are cancelled. Stay safe and we hope to see you later today.

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Clutter-free and Ready for Spring!

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

It’s almost spring! Get ready for spring cleaning with some help from KDL.

Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Life-Changing Magic

Clear the Clutter, Find the Happiness
Clear the Clutter

Mess: One Man’s Struggle to Clean Up His House and His Act

The Hoarder in You: How to Live a Happier, Healthier, Uncluttered Life

Hoarders. The Complete Season One

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March LibraryReads Staff Picks

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

You already know that your local KDL staff provide great recommendations when you’re looking for your next favorite book. Now library staff across the nation have connected to offer LibraryReads, a nationwide “Top 10” list of favorite titles each month! Check out these upcoming titles that librarians across the country have read, loved, and want to share with you.

  1. The Summer Before the War: A NovelLibraryReadsFavoriteThe Summer Before the War: A Novel by Helen Simonson
    “Fans of Simonson’s Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand have reason to rejoice. She has created another engaging novel full of winsome characters, this time set during the summer before the outbreak of World War I. Follow the story of headstrong, independent Beatrice Nash and kind but stuffy surgeon-in-training Hugh Grange along with his formidable Aunt Agatha. Make a cup of tea and prepare to savor every page!”
    Paulette Brooks, Elm Grove Public Library, Elm Grove, WI

  3. Jane SteeleJane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
    Jane Steele is a great read for lovers of Victorian literature who especially love their characters to have a lot of pluck! Jane Steele is the adventurous, irreverent, foul-mouthed broad that I so often loved about Jane Eyre, but in more wily circumstances. Remember that fabulous scene in Jane Eyre when she stands up to her aunt for the first time, and how you wanted to stand up from your comfy reading chair and cheer for her? Imagine an entire book just of those sorts of scenes. Absolutely fabulous fun!”
    Abbey Stroop, Herrick District Library, Holland, MI

  5. The PassengerThe Passenger by Lisa Lutz
    “This is a compulsively readable story of a young woman who has to keep switching identities and stay on the run. Is she a reliable narrator or not? What was the original event that sent her on the run? There is a lot of action and suspense as she tries to survive and evade the law while trying to keep her moral center intact. Unlike Lutz’s Spellman books, this reads more like a Charles Portis road novel, though considerably more serious and dangerous. Highly recommended.”
    Beth DeGeer, Bartlesville Public Library, Bartlesville, OK

  7. Marked In Flesh: A Novel of the OthersMarked In Flesh: A Novel of the Others by Anne Bishop
    “In this thrilling installment, Bishop continues to explore the relationships of The Others and the humans who live at the Lakeside compound. Meanwhile, Humans First and Last organization has been making themselves known, after the attacks in the previous book that killed numerous Others along with their “Wolf Lover” friends, they are not backing down. Little do they know it’s not the Others humans need to be wary of but the Elders for which the Others act as a buffer. This is an excellent installment in the novels of the Others, exciting, heart-wrenching and suspenseful.”
    Emily Peros, Denver Public Library, Denver, CO

  9. The NestThe Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
    “If you think your family is dysfunctional, move over, because here come the Plumbs. Suddenly faced with the dismantling of the nest egg they’ve counted on to solve their financial woes, the four Plumb siblings have to grow up, and fast. But though they all do some terrible things in the name of ambition, there’s something lovable about the Plumbs. You can’t fail to be moved by the beating heart of this novel, which seems to say that family, for good or ill, unites us all.”
    Mary Kinser, Whatcom County Library System, Bellingham, WA

  11. Fool Me OnceFool Me Once by Harlan Coben
    “Coben has made me lose more sleep over the years than all my other favorite authors combined. Joe Burkett has been murdered in front of his wife Maya. They have a two year old daughter who has a nanny. After the funeral, a friend gives her a picture frame that hides a camera so she can check on the care the nanny is providing her daughter. She watches the recording. Can she believe what she saw? Is she going crazy? Both? Buy a ticket for the coaster and find out for yourself. Keep your hands inside the car; it’s going to be a wild ride.”
    Lisa Sprague, Public Services Librarian, Enfield Public Library, Enfield, CT

  13. The Madwoman Upstairs: A NovelThe Madwoman Upstairs: A Novel by Catherine Lowell
    “Meet Samantha Whipple, a descendant of the Bronte family, who arrives at Oxford to study literature, as her father did before her. She receives a copy of Jane Eyre — a volume that she thought was destroyed in the fire that took her father’s life. When a second Bronte novel belonging to her father turns up, she is convinced he has staged an elaborate treasure hunt for her promised inheritance. Enlisting the help of her sexy, young professor, Samantha sets out on a quest to find buried treasure and learns the value of friendship and courage along the way.”
    Kristen McCallum, Algonquin Area Public Library, Algonquin, IL

  15. Because of Miss BridgertonBecause of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
    “This is the first in a prequel series to Quinn’s popular Bridgerton series, set a generation earlier. Billie Bridgerton spent her childhood running wild with the neighboring Rokesbys, Andrew, Edward, and Mary. Now she runs the family estate for her father and still runs as wild as she can. The eldest Rokesby, George, never really approved of Billie, but when he rescues her from a roof they begin to come to a new understanding.”
    Mary Aileen Buss, Long Beach Public Library, NY

  17. Dimestore: A Writer's LifeDimestore: A Writer’s Life by Lee Smith
    “Evenly divided between a book about Smith’s process and her life, first as a Southern mountain child and, later, as the parent of a schizophrenic child, this book is interesting and compelling. Despite being surrounded by loving family and being blessed with an active imagination, Lee copes with a mentally ill mother. Later, her son’s mental illness and early death brings her to the breaking point but she is saved by her writing. This is a read-alike for Karr’s The Liars Club. It desperately needs a cinematic translation for its elegant and evocative writing.”
    Lois Gross, Hoboken Public Library, Hoboken, NJ

  19. All Things Cease to Appear: A NovelAll Things Cease to Appear: A Novel by Elizabeth Brundage
    “When the Clare family purchases a ramshackle farmhouse at a foreclosure auction, it appears that all is well in their world, until George comes home one evening from his job as an Art History Professor at the local private college and finds his wife murdered and their three-year-old untended yet unharmed. Told through the eyes of the townspeople and the families involved, this is a gorgeously unsettling look at a marriage and what happens to a community in the process of change.”
    Jennifer Dayton, Darien Library, Darien, CT


See http://libraryreads.org for more information and find your next great read!


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Diverse Books for Kids and Teens

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

Educator Rudine Sims Bishop wrote of literature as “mirrors” and “windows” where we can both see ourselves and see the lives of other people (you can read her full thoughts here). Reading a wide variety of authentic books about different people can help kids and teens connect with others and with a global society. Here are just a few of my recommendations:


Picture Books:

martin's big wordsMartin’s Big Words

February is African American History month, and this picture book biography helps celebrate this champion of human rights.





to marketTo Market! To Market!

Take a trip to an Indian market with this picture book. Its unique size and layout is great for talking about artistic choices with children and its vivid colors and typography create an interactive reading experience.



Chapter Books for Kids:

turtle of oman

The Turtle of Oman

Aref is a third-grader living in Oman when his father is accepted at the University of Michigan for graduate study. But Aref is heartbroken at leaving his home in Oman and his beloved Siddi, his grandfather. Will Aref be able to hold on to everything he loves about Oman while still looking forward to a new life in Michigan?




one crazy summer

One Crazy Summer

Combining humor with a vivid portrayal of growing up African American during the 1960s and the Black Panther movement, Rita Williams-Garcia tells the tale of the intrepid and spunky eleven-year-old Delphine and her two sisters as they navigate their relationship with their mother and learn a few things about themselves. Follow it up with more tales about the sisters in the sequels P.S. Be Eleven and Gone Crazy in Alabama.



Books for Teens:

tequila wormThe Tequila Worm

Fourteen-year-old Sofia lives in a beloved close-knit Mexican community in Texas but also dreams of a world outside her home. She works hard to prove herself and ends up being accepted to a prestigious boarding school in Austin. The storytelling traditions of her family and community help her to face racism, an unfamiliar world, and growing up in this nuanced and rich novel based on the author’s personal experiences.




march book 1March: Book One

Based on Congressman John Lewis’s experiences in the Civil Rights Movement, this graphic novel is the first in a planned trilogy capturing the images and words of a movement that changed American history and one that still sparks calls to action for human rights and dignity today. Continue the story with March: Book Two.




American Born Chineseamerican born chinese

This graphic novel illustrates three intertwining tales that come together in a powerful demonstration of belonging and identity. With Gene Luen Yang just appointed the U.S. National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, it’s a great time to read or reread his work!




1919 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East

Naomi Shihab Nye, a poet with Israeli and Palestinian ties, shines a light on the Middle East, its conflicts, and the voices and hopes of its people in this collection of poetry.





Check out this booklist for more recommendations or ask a librarian!



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“Show me a hero”

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

"Show Me a Hero"

How does an American city become racially segregated and, more importantly, how does it reform itself in order to tear down, in however small a way, that divide? The new DVD set, “Show me a hero”, from HBO and the producer/writer David Simon (“The wire”), is a powerful 6 episode mini-series that dramatically recreates the second half of that question. Based on the non-fiction book by Lisa Belkin, the story spans a five year period, from 1987 to 1992; the setting is Yonkers, New York, just north of New York City. The issue—seemingly small perhaps from some folk’s perspective, but really an epic conflict that represents, in a local way, such fights in numerous times and places—was over housing. More exactly, could residents of a crime-ridden housing project on the “wrong side of town” be moved into their own houses on the other side of town—the side that happened to be predominantly white and middle-class? Simon and director Paul Haggis (“Crash”) plunge us into the heart of this fight, and in that center, slowly changing his mind as he sees the writing on the wall, is Mayor Nick Wasicsko, played with amazing energy and focus by Oscar Isaac.  Starting before the twenty-something Wasicsko becomes mayor, the story begins with a federal court order compelling the city to build the affordable housing; the rest of the episodes, stretched out over five hours, dramatize the aftermath of that decision—the wrangling, the voting, the backstabbing, the stubbornness and blindness of both city councilmen and residents utterly against this change.  Yet true to his journalist’s credentials, Simon attempts to humanize, at least to a certain extent, even those who would fight against the court order. Catherine Keener gives a quiet, understated performance as one of those forced to take a hard look at the nature and future of her fight.  Though the show packs its biggest emotional punch in its first three hours—it brought me to tears—it’s essential to watch it through to the end, to take in the whole, sad tale of one American city.

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