Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Pioneers An American Family Portrait by Jack Cavanaugh

Jesse Morgan grew up on the lower east side of New York City. He and his mother had struggled to live since his father died in a fire. For years now she has been sewing piece work in her home and Jesse works at a glass factory which employs many children. When not at work he is aggravated by bullies on the streets. It was during an altercation with those bullies that Jesse met Emily Barnes. When she gave several blasts on her whistle they thought the police had arrived to grab them.
Emily has wanted to become a reporter. Her job using a typewriter and her unofficial research into unlawful practices by local companies were good experience for this. So when Jesse met her again on a steamboat she was interviewing the captain for an exciting newspaper article about him.
Actually, Jesse left N.Y. on the run from the police. So began his journey west. Whatever jobs were available, he did. He travelled by foot, raft, steamboat, covered wagon, horse and railroad. A hero of dime novels was his "guide" when he met with a challenge or decision to make. What would Truly Noble do? Jesse's aunt was the author of these stories which he had been reading and enjoying when not working or running from neighborhood thugs.
Jesse's reason for leaving home was his secret. Emily's secret was her identity. Because of her parentage, she and Jesse found themselves running from a kidnapper. The secret of all this, ironically, involved a Utopian community. These many secrets finally must come to light as Jesse grows along with the country.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Connecting Families @ the Library

Watch the video from the Pentagon Channel Report about the new Connecting Families Project.
Alabama has launched a new effort to help military families communicate with loved ones deployed overseas and Homewood Public Library has been chosen to participate in this great service!

Go to Homewood Hotcast to see it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Gift by Richard Paul Evans

Nathan Hurst works security for a music store chain as a house detective only not the kind that walks around watching for shoplifters. He watches the transactions in over 300 stores and catches employees stealing from the company. In so doing he travels to other cities to complete investigations and have employees arrested. Some people are surprised when arrested. Some are shocked that they would be caught. So Nathan has saved the company lots of money and even has had some merchandise returned by the thieves. It was in the airport when returning from one of his business trips that he met Addison, Collin and Elizabeth. The weather was awful with ice, snow, wind and bone chilling temperatures shutting down air travel. The prospect was time spent sleeping on the floor in the airport until flights would resume. When Nathan met Addison and saw her son, a chemo patient with surgical mask and very pale skin, he was moved to share his hotel suite with these desperate people. This was the beginning of an amazing relationship. Collin was not even ten but was wise for someone so small. Through his years of sickness and treatments for leukemia he had acquired an understanding of listening to other people and caring about them. He also was given the gift of healing. As he put it he could make life better for people. Sadly he was unable to heal himself and each time he touched someone transferring his healing energy to them he was sicker for days. Nathan continued his job of catching bad employees and travelling around the country. When the story of Collins' gift was in the newspaper, people flocked to his home, trying for a touch of his hand. Addison called Nathan and the police. Until someone broke the law the police could only keep the crowds off Addison's property. So Nathan helped them go elsewhere until the madness subsided. But it only got worse. Addison's ex husband tried to sell Collins' gift. He had approached several wealthy people who were in need of healing. Though he had been told what each episode did to Collin, he wanted the money and chose to ignore the warning. Early in the book Nathan says this is not a Christmas story. But it tells so much about the spirit of giving on several levels that I think it is a story about love and caring. And who doesn't need a good dose of both?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

Tallulah Hart was left with her grandmother by her mother when she was four years old. The next time her mother came by was six years later. Then she took Tallulah and left her in a crowd of strangers. When the grandmother died Tully had to live with her mother which wasn't a loving or supportive family situation. She didn't know who her father was or where and her mother, Dorothy, was a pothead who preferred being called Cloud.
On this street called Firefly Lane lived Kate Mularkey with her parents and eight year old brother. Kate's family was loving but she was in eighth grade and feeling alone. Then she met the new girl on the block who wanted to be called Tully. They needed each other and this was the beginning of a friendship that would last more than thirty years. Two girls from very different family beginnings promised each other to be there for the other through everything. Early on they rode bicycles together and watched the stars and listened to crickets and the popular music of the day.
Tully introduced Kate to makeup, parties and sneaking out of the house and getting arrested by the police. Kate introduced Tully to parents who cared and gave guidance and love.
Tully realized her dream was to be a news anchor and she wanted Kate to do the same. The 'Firefly Lane Girls' began their journeys. Tully was tireless working long hours and sometimes working as a volunteer when she began her broadcasting career. Being in the spotlight and on camera really made her happy.
Kate worked in broadcasting, too, writing and producing. But it just did not give her the same fulfilling feeling that Tully experienced. She wanted to fall in love and have a family of her own. So even though the 'Firefly Lane Girls' took different paths to happiness they remained 'friends forever,' in happy and sad times.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams - Hard Times: A Nightly News Survival Guide

The library business is booming during these hard times.

A Very New York Christmas watercolors by Michael Storrings, foreword by Cynthia Nixon

Each page of this book displays watercolors by Michael Storrings. These depict landmarks in and around New York City which we have heard of through the years. The text gives a brief history of places such as St. Patrick's Cathedral and Rockefeller Center, Lincoln Center and Radio City Music hall. Events that we have seen on television such as the Thanksgiving Day Parade and Time's Square on New Year's Eve are painted for our enjoyment. Storrings uses much color and many memorable signs and symbols of the Christmas season in these places so familiar to people living there and those of us who have seen Christmas movies set in the area such as Miracle on 34th Street and the Home Alone series. Below the text for the various watercolors are appropriate quotations by authors, mayors, lyricists and Kris Kringle. This is a thoroughly enjoyable visit to a place that is highly decorated and celebrated during the holidays.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Homewood High School Band in the Homewood Christmas Parade 2008

We at Homewood Public Library loved this video so much that we just had to post it on our podcast blog!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Crossing Midnight: Cut Here

By Mike Carey
Art by Jim Fern

Here’s a graphic novel that is different from my usual super hero fare. It’s a mix of horror and fantasy set in modern Nagasaki, Japan. For film fans, think of Miyazaki’s Spirited Away given a Ringu twist. Which is a warning: this is not a graphic novel for kids. The horror is, well, pretty horrifying.

The covers are in the flattened style of Japanese wood block prints, but with the rich decorative touches of Klimt. Which, considering his influences, makes sense. The interior art, however, is more realistic, drawn with clean lines. The colors, while probably applied digitally, look like watercolor washes. All in all, Jim Fern's artwork is appropriate for the tale and a pleasure to view.

The protagonists are an unusual pair of twin teenagers. Toshi Hara was born a minute before midnight, while her twin brother Kai Hara was born a minute after midnight. Though the timing of their births is a symptom of their cursed heritage, rather than the source of their problems. Because of the actions of her ancestors, Toshi can’t be cut by edged weapons, and on her birthday is visited by a supernatural being named Aratsu, the Lord of Knives. Aratsu wants Toshi to be his servant, and he does not take her refusal well. He tells her he will return and ask her again, after she has seen the grisly results of his displeasure.

The rest of the book relates Toshi and Kai’s struggle to escape Aratsu’s demands. As might be expected, some of their actions involve the supernatural and other kami, like Nidoru who presides over the Needle and the Pin, and a dragon of shadows. But other more mundane avenues are explored too, which involve school bullies and, of all things, an unexpected Yakuza connection to their family. It’s not as complicated as it sounds, but I don’t want to give too much away. I really enjoyed this graphic novel and discovering a mythology I’m not familiar with. My only complaint is that we don’t have Volume Two on the shelves.

You can reserve Crossing Midnight by clicking here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cool video featuring HPL on the Talk of Alabama Morning Show

Tracy Haynes of the Talk of Alabama Morning Show on the local ABC 33/40 TV station featured this video on their website showing all that Homewood Public Library has to offer for FREE!
(If you're using Firefox and can't see it, try IE or click here.)

Monday, December 1, 2008

A free and EASY way to say "Thank You!" to our troops!

Click the picture of the card in the box below to select the card you'd like to send.
You can pick out a thank you card and Xerox will print it and it will be sent to a soldier that is currently serving in Iraq. You can't pick out who gets it, but it will go to a member of the armed services.
How AMAZING it would be if every soldier received one!!! It is FREE and it only takes 10 seconds.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps War

By Geoff Johns and David Gibbons and Peter J. Tomasi

Art by Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason, and Ethan Van Sciver

After reading Marvel’s space opera, Uncanny X-men: Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire, I decided to read DC’s take on the genre. Like Marvel’s X-men story, DC’s Green Lantern epic is in several volumes, and has not yet been concluded.

First off, I have to admit to some bias, as I’ve always been a Marvel fan and only followed DC sporadically. I grew up with the Marvel characters and can fully appreciate the history and references. When terrible things happen to them, I feel like it is happening to people I know. I don’t have that connection with the DC characters. So, despite a great many terrible things happening to the Green Lanterns (the body count is high), it doesn’t resonate fully with me. That said this is a roller coaster of a tale, with plenty of action and the dark, grand scale you expect of a war story. There are lots of splash pages, but they aren’t wasted. They are crowded with creatures from hundreds of worlds battling each other, or filled with alien vistas, or those huge gotcha story moments -- all of which contribute to the realization of the cosmic world of the embattled Green Lanterns.

For those like my self, who aren’t as familiar with the DC universe, Sinestro is a former Green Lantern who was stripped of his ring when he abused his powers. That's his very angry face in the picture. He was Hal Jordan’s mentor in the Corps, and it was Hal who realized Sinestro had gone from helping keep order to imposing order, and turned him in. Needless to say, the former Green Lantern has a special animosity for Hal. And with the help of some fairly powerful villains, Sinestro forms an anti-Green Lantern Corps, whose mandate is to spread fear.

As far as the art goes, let me just say I’m adding Ethan Van Sciver and Ivan Reis to my favorite artists list. Wow! I could heartily recommend this book on their work alone. It is reminiscent of Neal Adams, but more detailed. Van Sciver especially so, and plus he has a talent for making the horrible really creepy. Compare his full page splash of the Parallax host in the Prologue of Volume One to Reis’ in Chapter One of Volume One.

To reserve Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps War Volume One, click here; for Volume Two, click here; and for Tales of the Sinestro Corps, click here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"A Possum in the House" Read by Charles Ghigna @ HPL

Charles Ghigna, a local Homewood Alabama author, reads one of his poems, "A Possum in the House". It is always a joy to see Mr. Ghigna and his wife, Debra, who visit Homewood Public Library weekly.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

I just finished reading The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. I have also decided never to read another book described as "The Great American Novel".

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle isn't bad. It was praised by the New York Times and received the coveted Oprah endorsement. It just isn't exceptional, which is what you hope for when you invest your time into almost 600 pages.

The title character, Edgar, is born mute, and can only communicate through sign-language. He and his mother and father eke out a living breeding and selling dogs in rural Wisconsin.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is an American adaptation of a famous play by Shakespeare. I won't say which one, but once you learn the characters' names (Claude, Trudy, Forte, etc.) you'll have no problem figuring it out. This is the biggest disappointment. Once you realize the basis for Wroblewski's story, you already know the ending, the EXACT ending, which is frustrating, especially after trudging through a lengthy and unnecessary adventure through the woods with Edgar and his dogs, only to find that you knew what was going to happen 300 pages ago.

Character development is also lacking. Maybe Wroblewski assumes that when we stumble on to the Shakespearean theme we'll understand on whom the characters were based, but none of the characters learn or grow.

There are also a few supernatural happenings (apart from the one necessary to Shakespeare) that seem to be forced into the plot. So forced I can't really even explain why they're there. Again, frustrating.

Animal lovers will be moved by the relationship between the Sawtelle family and their dogs, especially Edgar and his dog Almondine, and what little Edgar's character develops in the book is reflected in his unique ability to train the dogs without a voice.

The most intriguing part of the novel is Edgar's fathers near obsession with perfecting his breed of dog, which Edgar discovers while going through some of his father's old letters.

It is an enjoyable, but not a necessary read. It is definitely American, complete with woods and barns and tragedy, but the comparisons to Jack London are a little premature.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

NEW! Like Culinary Mysteries?

NEW! Like Culinary Mysteries? Then see who our Author of the Month is in the Adult Dept. Hint.........................>
Reserve these in Encore.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Bridge to Terabithia is a really good book about a young man named Jess Aarons and his friend Leslie Burke. The only thing that Jess hopes will happen is that he will be the fastest boy in his grade. Jess lives out on a farm all alone until Leslie moves in the house beside him. They become great friends until something tragic happens. So after the incident Jess is forced to pick a new queen for his made up city. That is all I will tell you without giving the story away. I hope you will read this book!!!
~Chris S., 7th Grade, Homewood Middle School

Tangerine by Edward Bloor

Have you ever been in a town where you wake up to a cloud of smoke? In this book 12-year-old Paul Fisher has moved from Houston, Texas to Tangerine, Florida to play soccer. When he ends up being picked on in his new school he has to overcome that problem. In the end there are some exciting twists that will change Paul's life forever. If you are looking for a book with exciting cliff hangers and great adventures, then this book is for you.
~Cade, 7th Grade, Homewood Middle School

Thief in Retreat A Sister Agatha Mystery by Aimee and David Thurlo

Archbishop Miera has enlisted the help of Sister Agatha and Pax, the white German Shepherd. When the Church sold the former Monastery of Saint John in the Pines to Mr. and Mrs. Luna it became an inn called The Retreat. The Archbishop assigned Sister Agatha to examine and catalog crates of artifacts left behind by the monks. He also sent her to help solve the theft of several art pieces at The Retreat and a ghostly appearance. When Sister Agatha and Pax arrived they caused quite a stir- a nun riding a red Harley with a German Shepherd riding in the side car. Everyone who met them there were automatically put at ease by this unique pair. Sister and Pax took up residence in the library where she worked with the artifacts belonging to the Church. Pax was on guard when she was out. Since she tended to be up late at night she had occasion to see Juanita, the ghost. Writers at a conference being held at The Retreat gave imaginative theories for the mysterious happenings. Rumors explained who Juanita had been and why she roamed The Retreat halls. But they did not explain the disappearance of sacred art or the substitution of fakes. While Sister was there the thefts continued, a manuscript disappeared and so did people and then a body was discovered. Now the local sheriff was called in on the case. And he did not like the interference of Sister Agatha at all. But she was on duty for the Church and continued her investigations along with her protector, Pax.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Murder She Wrote : The Maine Mutiny by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain

The people of Cabot Cove were busy planning the upcoming Lobersterfest. The main attraction would be lobsters and the heroes of the event would be the men who spend their lives catching the lobster and who in turn will provide the crustaceans for the festival. The broker who buys the catch from each lobster man is not being fair with the very low prices he pays. Therefore Mr. Pettie is a very unpopular man among many. Talk around the docks is that the lobster men could get more money forming a co-op or going elsewhere and not dealing with Mr. Pettie. Jessica has agreed to write an article for the festival edition of the Gazette and tell about lobstering so she has arranged to accompany one of the lobster men on his boat for a day. That was a helpful and memorable day for her. It was not as memorable as another day before the festival when she was almost killed and then left to die on the ocean. Though it appeared to be obvious to the sheriff who was responsible for murder, attempted murder and destruction of property, Jessica and the accused knew better. Somehow the truly guilty person or persons needed to be revealed without hurting more people and before the festival.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

X-men: Emperor Vulcan

By Christopher Yost

Art by Paco Diaz Luque

Picking up right after the events of Uncanny X-men: The Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire, this graphic novel follows the X-men left behind in another galaxy to deal with Vulcan, the third Summers brother, now ruthless Emperor of the Shi’ar Empire. He’s not the uncontested Emperor, however. Professor X’s old flame, the dethroned Lilandra, is still alive and leads those rebel Shi’ar loyal to her, the Starjammers, and the X-men, including Vulcan’s own brother Havok.

As if this weren’t conflict enough, an unknown race named the Scy’ar Tal enters the fray, and they want _all_ the Shi’ar dead. Needless to say, this prompts a realignment of alliances to deal with the Scy’ar Tal -- just the first of many. This book is chock full of double crosses, shifting alliances, and unexpected surprises on a grand scale. Like Star Wars, it’s a glorious and entertaining space opera and yet, it has the intimacy of a family drama, as siblings (Havok and Vulcan, Lilandra and Deathbird) square off against each other.

And most the characters, in a very large cast, are fully realized with their own understandable, if not entirely agreeable, motivations, adding yet another layer of depth. I’m still fascinated by the new character Korvus, even if we don’t get to see as much of him in this graphic novel. And I’m a little disappointed in the smaller role Polaris plays, as I’ve always thought she was interesting character, but there’s always the next book.

The art is suitably grand for the tale. Luque may not have the dynamism of Tan, or the clean lines of Henry, but he delivers a nicely polished panel and conveys the space battles in a cinematic manner. I haven’t seen his work before, but I’ll definitely watch for it now.

I won’t spoil it, but it turns out that the Scy’ar Tal aren’t entirely unknown, just forgotten. Nor does the fun end here, with one side triumphant, but we’ll have to wait for things to be resolved in the next big event at Marvel, War of Kings, later in the year.

To reserve Emperor Vulcan click here. To reserve Uncanny X-men: The Extremists, and read what happened to the X-men who returned home, click here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bliss to You Trixie's Guide to a Happy Life by Trixie and Dean Koontz

Trixie was a beautiful and fun loving Golden Retriever. She enriched the lives of Dean and his wife for many years. Now she is gone but has dictated this book to Dean's computer for him to share with us. Understand that the priorities that we have in life may be some different from those of Trixie but her purpose is to help us achieve bliss. Each chapter is Trixie giving short, pithy suggestions on finding another part of bliss. Two chapters are on dog wisdom. Throughout she wants us to do or experience whatever makes us happy and relax. Trixie finds ecstasy in dog biscuits, a good roll in the yard or a tummy scratch. Each page is short as is the entire book. It is a quick read but take your time and relax with it. Think of Trixie saying these things to you and just romping in the yard as you enjoy life with her. This is a good read to break the tension and hectic pace of our daily lives. Let Trixie help you discover a priority shift.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Vamps by Nancy A. Collins

Lilith Todd is the "It" girl of the supernatural world. Her rich and powerful Old Blood father gives her whatever she wants, her promised, Jules, will make her a Countess when they are bound, and she already rules the world of fashion and popularity. One night while out slumming she runs into Cally, a New Blood who challenges Lilith in a fight over a potential victim. The Newbie turns out to be a Stormgatherer, but Lilith would still have beaten her if not for the sudden appearance of Van Helsings. The VH's stake Lilith's friend, but the rest of the vampires manage to get away. Lilith blames the Newbie and vows to kill her if she ever sees her again. It might be easier than she expected. When Monday rolls around Lilith finds that Cally has transferred to Lilith's prestigious school, Bathory Academy. Though the Academy is a vendetta-free zone, Lilith's won't let a little thing like the rules stand in her way.

This book started out as Gossip Girls meets vampires, with constant brand name dropping, underage partying and references to amorous adventures. But the tone quickly changed when Cally appeared, and the plot's pacing picked up. The story that unfolded was interesting and different from most of the vampire fiction on the shelves. I can't wait to see what happens in book two!

Uncanny X-men: Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire

By Ed Brubaker

Art by Billy Tan and Clayton Henry

Wow. Where to start? New characters with ties to old characters? Emotions running deep and rampant? The bonds and betrayal of family? Romantic entanglements? Political struggles on a galactic scale? Space pirates? Or how about a hero with really BIG sword? You’ll find all these things in this enjoyable graphic novel.

The book starts right after the events of X-men: Deadly Genesis, where we met Cyclops and Havok’s previously unknown brother, Vulcan. Unfortunately, for the X-men, Vulcan harbors a vicious grudge against the Shi’ar Empire, whose Emperor D’ken was responsible for the death of Vulcan’s mother and his own enslavement. Unfortunately, for Vulcan, the emperor he wants revenge upon is in a coma, and Vulcan becomes a pawn in the struggle between the two imperial daughters, Lilandra and Deathbird, for control of the Shi’ar Empire. Of course, things don’t end exactly how anyone planned, and the X-men are split up. Professor X, Nightcrawler, Warpath, and Darwin are prematurely sent back home with one of the StarJammers, while Rachel Summers, Havok, and Polaris are left behind to deal with the new political order. All of which leaves things open ended for the next adventures.

Ed Brubaker also introduces a new character named Korvus, who has ties to the Phoenix Force. He’s an intriguing addition to the X-men mythology, and I’d say look for him, but I don’t think you can miss his BIG sword.

They did an interesting thing with the art in this graphic novel. The parts dealing mainly with Vulcan and the Shi’ar Empire are drawn by Clayton Henry, who has a clean, straightforward, and static style. The parts dealing with the X-men and the outlaw Starjammers are drawn by Billy Tan, who has a looser, shadowy, dynamic style. Besides being particularly appropriate for their respective characters, the styles of both artists fit the mood of their respective storylines and settings. Yet, the individual work complements each other, making a harmonious and multilayered whole, instead of a discordant eyesore. I wouldn’t be adverse to seeing more such artistic collaborations on titles, as I’m sure it would help with production delays, if they were as good as this one.

If you like Star Wars, space opera, the X-men, or just a rousing adventure story, this book is for you. To reserve Uncanny X-men: Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire click here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Cedar Cove Christmas by Debbie Macomber

Mary Jo Wyse finally realized that the man she had fallen in love with and the father of her developing baby had lied to her repeatedly and had no intention of being responsible for her or the baby. Two weeks before her due date she went to Cedar Cove to meet his parents, Ben and Charlotte Rhodes ,because he said he would be there. When she arrived in town she was unsuccessful in her search for the grandparents of her baby. She became very light headed and weak so 911 was called. After checking her vitals the responding EMT suggested she rest that day. Grace Harding was very helpful even to the point of taking Mary Jo home with her on Christmas Eve. Her husband, Cliff, and her children and grandchildren were happy to share their holiday with her. All of this friendliness and acceptance was warming the heart of a needy young woman. Mack, the EMT, had connected with Mary Jo and checked on her later in the day. Judge Olivia Griffin, the sister of the baby's father, David, also showed warmth to Mary Jo and had nothing but contempt for the man she knew so well as an irresponsible liar. Debbie Macomber has written a Christmas story that even includes a camel that bites and a sweet donkey that kept time with the drumming and singing on Christmas Eve. If you are unfamiliar with the original Christmas story read Luke chapter two before reading Debbie Macomber's tale. You will recognize similarities in the two.

Monday, October 13, 2008

X-men: Deadly Genesis

By Ed Brubaker

Art by Trevor Harsine and Scott Hanna

This graphic novel draws from the origins of the 60s X-men team and the 70s new X-men team, and starts an arc that is still playing out today for those characters. When the X-men were first created, there was only Scott Summers, aka Cyclops. Later we learned that he had a brother, Alex Summers, aka as Havok. In this book we learn that there’s a third Summers brother, Gabriel, aka as Vulcan. Why has no one heard of him in all this time? Well, it’s a bit complicated.

But if you are an X-men fan, you will be amazed at the all the past events that Ed Brubaker seamlessly knits together to explain the presence of this third Summers brother. Of course, if you are reading Captain America or Iron Fist you already know that Brubaker is a master of incorporating the history of characters and giving them a fresh and unexpected twist. Giant Sized X-men #1 featured the first appearance of the New X-men like Storm, Nightcrawler and Colossus, and I bought it on the newsstands (yes, I know that’s dating me). It’s one of the issues I read a gazillion times as a kid. So I was stunned, and happily so, at seeing that issue not only revisited, but cast in a completely different light in this graphic novel. And that’s just one of many surprises awaiting you here.

As far as the art, Trevor Hairsine did the layouts, with Scott Hanna finishing the pencils, which made things look a little rough, and not in the usual style of Hairsine. There are also four different inkers, so the uniform look of book was a little off. But overall, nicely done, with no wasted splash pages. As a graphic novel extra there are pencil sketches of the new character designs by Hairsine. Speaking of, I liked most of the new X-men characters and what was done with them. I hope somehow we get to see more of them. But I wasn’t very happy with what happened to Banshee.

And finally, the book really does change the status quo of the X-men and sets up some great hooks for the future. In particular, Professor X and Cyclop’s father – son relationship, once the bedrock of the X-men, seems irrecoverably damaged. And then there’s Vulcan’s quest for revenge, which leads to several other arcs in the X-men books and will culminate in Marvel’s next big event: War of Kings. If you want to be on that from the ground floor, then reserve X-Men: Deadly Genesis by clicking here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Economy Headache???

Unless you've been hiding under a rock the past month, every media outlet you turn to is talking about what sad shape the American economy is in, and that's a good thing. It's a good thing because lots of people who don't normally have time to stomach American politics as usual are paying attention to what all the names on the ballots are actually up to. Before the vote on the $700 billion bailout, representatives were receiving record numbers of complaints and questions from constituents like never before.

If you're one of the many who don't talk about the mysterious "Fed", short-term securities, or toxic debt in daily conversation, this is a good opportunity to find some basic information to help you make sound financial decisions in the middle of all this doom and gloom. I recommend these three great resources: is a great resource to find out what the Fed is all about. This website covers in detail the history, organization, powers, and responsibilities of the Federal Reserve Bank, and even includes educational literature for children.

The Total Money Makeover, by Dave Ramsey, is the best book on personal finance I've ever read. Ramsey covers how to get out of debt, pay for an education, savings and investments, real estate, and retirement, strung together by a common theme, "debt is dumb and cash is king". Included in the book are plenty of forms to help you get your financial situation down on paper and how to organize and plan your way to living debt-free.

The First Book of Investing: An Absolute Beginner's Guide to Building Wealth Safely by Samuel Case is an excellent resource for those who don't know a mutual fund from a market share and have never unfolded a Wall St. Journal. Case begins by helping the reader discover his/her attitudes toward money, how those attitudes have developed, and how to overcome any bad emotional connections with money and see it for what it is, a tool. Case then explores the world of investments, always taking time to explain complicated terminology, and stressing to the reader the levels of risk they may encounter. Also, at the end of each chapter Case provides a list of resources for further reading on each kind of investment.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ms. Candice's thoughts on children's authors Saxton Freymann & Joost Elffers

The most remarkable thing about authors Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers's books is not the stories themselves, although they are simple and thoughtful, but rather the ingenious illustrations which are crafted from various raw fruits and vegetables. The expression conveyed by mere vegetables crafted into dogs, sea creatures, and various other animals and objects is artfully amazing. Some of Freymann and Elffers's titles include; Fast Food , One Lonely Seahorse , and Dr. Pompo's Nose , which explores the journey of a pumpkin to reclaim his misplaced nose.
Click the links and book covers above to reserve in our catalog.

Ms. Candice, Children's Dept.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Talking with Alabama Comic Book Writer Jason Aaron

Ever want to hear about comics and graphic novels from someone who actually creates them? Well, then tune in to the newest Homewood Hotcast, as Alabama comic book writer Jason Aaron – creator of Scalped and The Other Side – talks to us about his career, his influences, and his upcoming projects. Mr. Aaron has also worked for DC on Hellblazer and Joker’s Asylum and for Marvel Comics on Ghost Rider, Wolverine and Black Panther.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Old Woman Who Named Things by Cynthia Zylant

How does an old woman who has outlived all her friends keep from being lonely? By naming the things in her life she knows she will never outlive. Then a shy brown puppy appears at her front gate. She tells it to go home for fear of naming something that she may outlive. But the puppy has other ideas...

You can reserve this
book in our catalog.

Hope you enjoy!
Ms. Heather, Children's Dept.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Reason Magazine

reason magazine
I love magazine subscriptions. I usually sign up for several each year, only to let the subscriptions lapse because I find new titles to follow. Just this year I tried Rolling Stone, American Photo, National Geographic, U.S. News & World Report, Guitar World, and Scientific American, and I'm only renewing two of them.

This space is usually for reviewing book-length works, but if there are readers like me who follow periodicals closely as well, I'll recommend the one magazine title I've followed religiously for the past three years.

reason magazine is a monthly magazine published by the Reason Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes libertarian thought. I'm a news/political junkie, but it's difficult to get actual news because most media outlets now are forced to choose a political side due to reader/viewership and advertiser demands, reason's non-profit status makes for a little more objectivity and a little less slant.

reason covers politics, science, arts, and literature, always with an eye on how economics applies to each of these. The "Brickbats" column features humorous news on how little common sense our government sometimes uses. reason's book reviews are the most in-depth I've read, spanning three to six pages and often including short interviews with the author.

While I don't always agree with every article in reason (I think it sometimes slavishly follows an atheistic objectivism where simple libertarianism would do) it does cause me to do one thing that as a former high school teacher I know lots of young people don't do, read and think.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Note by Angela Hunt

Peyton MacGruder was called to the office of her editor, Nora Chilton, at the Tampa Times. According to a reader survey Nora tells Peyton that her column by the Heart Healer is not being read by enough people. Nora gives Peyton three weeks to bring up those reader numbers. In the meantime Peyton needs to consider where else she wants to work at the paper. On Wednesday, June 13, a flight left New York bound for Tampa. Chapter one gives details of that day including flight preparations by crew, controllers and pilots, what the passengers were doing during the flight, the food that was served in the air and the weather in New York and Tampa. Before reaching the Tampa airport the plane crashed, leaving questions as to what caused the tragedy. Of course, Tampa Times covered the crash with stories about the known facts. Days later someone stopped Peyton as she was leaving work. They gave her a sandwich bag containing a note which might have been written by a passenger of the ill fated flight. A friend at the newspaper, King, thought Peyton would save her column by finding the person who was to receive the note and writing about her search for her readers. He encouraged her to follow her heart. When Peyton wrote her first column about the note Nora read it and was surprised and upset by something she had not approved.
Then Peyton was approached by Julie St. Claire about sharing the story and getting television coverage of each step in that search. Even the CEO of the television station and newspaper asked Peyton to do this. When Peyton traveled to St. Louis for the first interview, Julie was there with a camera crew but Peyton had a signed confidentiality agreement from the first prospect. When Peyton agreed to share the story with Julie it was with the understanding that the outcome of the search would first appear in the Heart Healer on July 4. Julie St. Claire appeared with cameras at each interview location and was more invasive and upsetting to the prospects than was Peyton. Tanner Ford had even arranged with Julie to have coverage as he claimed the note was for him. Later Peyton was approached by a small strawberry blond at the lake in front of the newspaper building. She gave good reasons for claiming the note was meant for her. Julie St. Claire had planned a televised interview with Tanner Ford, the intended recipient of the note. Peyton knew he was lying and contacted him before that telecast. What would he do when Julie asked him his reaction to the note?
Hallmark's movie of The Note starred Genie Francis as Peyton MacGruder. King is played by Ted McGinley. Hallmark made several changes in the story for the movie such as the location of the newspaper and Peyton's home and the crash site. Some of the characters are different in the book and movie but both versions work. In both the book and movie there is a surprise revelation for Peyton herself and her friends. I saw the movie before reading the book and I suggest you enjoy both, too. Check the Hallmark schedule (it airs The Note Thursday evening September 18) to watch how the story unfolds and read the book which you will find on the library catalog.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

NEW! Vlogging for Teens: create movie-style trailers for popular books!

Saturday, September 27th
Large Auditorium
6th-12th graders only

We're looking for creative teens to make movie-style trailers for popular books. With the help of Marcia Jones a 20 yr. veteran of TV & radio, we'll choose a book, write a script, do storyboards, cast the parts, scout locations, film and edit the trailer. Snacks will be provided. Come to this first meeting to scope it out and help choose the book we'll be filming.

For more info email Ms. Heather, or call 205.332.6621.

Teens, don't miss this!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Marcus Yallow is a 17-year-old at Cesar Chavez High School in San Francisco. But he's not a typical senior. He's a hacker known as M1k3y. He's not a criminal, just someone who loves solving puzzles...especially puzzles like unbreachable security systems.

Then Marcus's life changes. Terrorists bomb San Francisco and Marcus and his closest friends are among those taken in for questioning by the Department of Homeland Security. They break him down for no other reason than they can. Then they let him go home. Home to a San Francisco that's been turned into a police state in the name of national security. A place where DHS is watching everything and everyone and civil liberties are a thing of the past. The injustice of it all turns mild-mannered Marcus into M1k3y, a hacker with a mission to bring down DHS.

This was an amazing and exciting thriller. Though full of techno talk regarding hacking and the way computers work, it was still extremely readable for those, like me, who can barely manage Windows Vista. I suppose it would be classified as science fiction, but it felt very plausible. Working on the premise that the United States government is fighting terrorists by restricting the lives of all it's citizens, it reads like a warning. Marcus/M1k3y is a brilliant hero and underdog. Hopefully there are thousands like him watching our backs.

What Is A Graphic Novel??

What Is A Graphic Novel???

The comic book industry has gotten a lot of attention the past few years with major motion picture releases like Dark Knight, Iron-Man, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, and the much anticipated release of Watchmen in 2009.

While in my local comic book store this weekend I noticed a couple of moms and dads bringing in the kids and looking for comics of the heroes they'd just seen at the movies, and didn't quite know what to look for.

The best place to start if you or your children are interested in reading comics is the graphic novel. A graphic novel is simply a collection of issues of one title, bound together, usually in hardback or trade paperback format. For example, if you're looking for a Superman story that spanned 6 months in 1983, tracking down all those issues would be a challenge. With a graphic novel, all those issues are put together into one book, oftentimes with extras like commentary from artists and writers, and excerpts from the artists' sketchbook. Another plus is that graphic novels hold up much better after repeated reads than single issues.

So now that you know what a graphic novel is, which ones do you want? Some of the most successful graphic novels are:

Identity Crisis by Brad Meltzer, and features most of the big names in the DC universe, like Superman, Batman, Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, etc.

Civil War by Mark Millar, that features almost the entire Marvel Universe: Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, Thor, Captain America, the Punisher, etc.

The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller and The Killing Joke by Alan Moore are must reads for fans of the new Batman movies.

Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman puts a new twist on popular mythology.

Click the following link to see a list of the top 30 graphic novels of all time:
Top 30 Graphic Novels of All Time

This is only a sampling of the best the comics world has to offer. You'll find hundreds of titles for different tastes and age groups, and finding a title you can't wait to come out each month is a great way to get young people reading.

As with anything your kids are involved with, know what they are reading. Some comics contain violence and dark subject material, and knowing you're interested and involved in picking out comics will make it a more exciting experience for them.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

At Home in Dry Creek by Janet Tronstad

Barbara Strong caught the bridal bouquet while everyone watched. Including the sheriff. Since she had moved to Dry Creek with her children it seemed that people did not trust her or accept her in their midst. Actually Sheriff Wall had asked the citizens of Dry Creek to let her get settled in her home before asking her for favors, to be on committees or do odd jobs for social functions. He also asked the ranch hands not to date her for a year. In the meantime, he had her under surveillance. Barbara's ex-husband was in prison for his part in a robbery. But the money had never been recovered and the FBI hoped Barbara would lead them to it or at least one of the other robbers. What they did not know or believe was that she was trying to forget Neal and make a new life for herself, Amanda and Bobby. Life for Barbara took on new excitement and purpose when she agreed to help Sheriff Wall with his reelection campaign. He really did not feel the need of a campaign but liked the idea of meeting with Barbara and becoming better acquainted with her. Soon Linda at the cafe in town and Mrs. Hargrove were helping Carl in his efforts to date Barbara, even though she said they were meetings, not dates. She was not interested in dating or marriage again. She just wanted to be a good mother for Amanda and Bobby. Someday, too, she hoped the people of Dry Creek would include her in their events-maybe even ask her to pour coffee at a social. The sheriff and ranch hands in the area found that she was a caring and enjoyable addition to their town.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Generation Dead by Dan Waters

American teenagers have begun rising from the grave soon after their deaths. Whether suicide, car accident, or worse, the teens return to their families after their funerals. But not all families want them back. Some of the undead are abandoned by all who once loved them, shunned by their community and the nation as a whole. But there are so many, and more are rising by the day. Accommodations are being made, laws are being debated, but until legislation is passed, and until people start accepting them, these “living impaired” teens will remain outsiders.

Tommy is one such outsider. But instead of being repelled, Phoebe is fascinated. The living impaired teens have been attending local schools for awhile, but Tommy is the first to play on the football team, and the first to challenge the idea that he’s just an undead zombie with no thoughts or feelings. But the steps Tommy and Phoebe take toward friendship cause other students to cringe, or worse. Pete and his buddies, the “Pain Crew,” are determined to do whatever it takes to eliminate the zombies, and the zombie-lovers, from his school. Is it illegal to kill someone who’s already dead?

Generation Dead is a lot deeper than I was expecting. Couched within the intelligent novel are issues such as integration, political rights for minorities, school bullying and the power of love. The ending left enough room for a sequel, which I hope is already underway.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Eglamore and Cristobel: A Love Story by Dolores Hydock @ HPL

Dolores Hydock presented her debut performance of Eglamore and Cristobel: A Love Story May 16 & 17 at the library. It was a packed house both nights. Delicious hors d'oeuvres were served by Christian Catering Company. Needless to say, everything was a great SUCCESS! Visit her website at

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Book Buffet (HPL's Book Group)

Second Tuesday of the month
6:30 - 8 pm
Lucretia M. Somers Boardroom

Our book discussion group meets in the Lucretia M. Somers Boardroom for lively discussion and light refreshments. We feature foods described in or related to the books we discuss. Meetings are the second Tuesday evening of each month from 6:30-8:00. Join us!

Here's our list of books to be read:

Sept. 9 -
Hissy Fit by Mary Kay Andrews

Oct. 14 - The Prince of Frogtown by Rick Bragg

Nov. 4 - The Appeal by John Grisham

Dec. - No Meeting

(Click the books above to reserve in the catalog)

Teen Read Week Oct. 12–18: Celebrate Books with Bite @ HPL

Homewood teens will be reading for the fun of it as libraries across the country celebrate the eleventh annual Teen Read Week, October 12–18, 2008. We will join thousands of other libraries, schools and bookstores across the nation who are encouraging teens to celebrate this year’s theme, "Books with Bite @ your library®." Teen Read Week is the national adolescent literacy initiative of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), the fastest-growing division of the American Library Association.

So stop by Homewood Public Library during Teen Read Week to indulge your biting curiosity and check out books and graphic novels on animals, technology, cooking and even vampires! Here are some suggestions from ALA to get you started. You can also go to our catalog to reserve these:

Big Bites (prehistoric creatures & dinosaurs)

The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Tunnels by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams

Books with Byte (technology)

Feed by M.T. Anderson

I, Robot by Issac Asimov

Biting Humor

Vampire High by Douglas Rees

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

Get Bitten (monsters & vampires)

By These Ten Bones by Clare Dunkle

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Bite the Bullet (high adventure)

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel

Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz

Friday, August 29, 2008

Diary of a Worm By Doreen Cronin, Illustrated by Harry Bliss

This is a book about a little earthworm and his day-by-day life. He meets some very interesting characters, like spiders and giant birds. He goes to school with other earthworms and they attend dances and art classes. He is taught manners and other helpful things by this parents.
The book tells how important earthworms are to our Earth.
The illustrations are well worth checking out this book at our library.
Go to our catalog to reserve this book.

Hope you enjoy!
Ms. Shirley, Children's Dept.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Crewel World Needlecraft Mysteries #1 by Monica Ferris

Margot loved to knit and was expert in the craft. She also enjoyed teaching others how to knit and plan their projects. Her shop specialized in needlework classes and supplies. When her sister Betsy needed a place to 'collect herself,' Margot welcomed her with open arms and included Betsy in the daily routine and life at the shop. Not long after her arrival, Betsy, was shocked and depressed when Margot was found dead and the shop had been vandalized. Would Betsy keep the shop open? Would the landlord make her move? Uppermost in Betsy's mind and heart was finding Margot's killer. But that detective seemed to have decided exactly what kind of person killed the shop owner and he wouldn't look at anyone else. Betsy discovered how much people liked Margot and how much they wanted to help Betsy. Even to find the killer.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Otherworldlies by Jennifer Anne Kogler

12-year-old Fern McAllister is a little different. Her classmates call her Freaky Fern, but her family has learned to live with her eccentricities. She talks to the family dog (and he talks back), she has to keep a pot of dirt under her bed or she can’t sleep, she blisters if she stays in the sun too long, and she has to wear sunglasses constantly because her eyes are so sensitive. But her strange habits are the least of her worries these days. Lately she’s been accidentally…teleporting. One minute she’s daydreaming in class, the next she’s on a local beach. This new and frightening ability attracts the attention of Lindsey Lin, Fern’s popular classmate. Lindsey tells Fern that her powers mark her as an Otherworldly, or vampire, just like Lindsey and her family. And Fern’s not just any ordinary Otherworldly, but one of the Unusual Eleven, a child destined to have great powers. Also, Otherworldly children are only born to Otherworldly parents, which means Fern is adopted. These revelations shock Fern to the core. As does the news that now that her secret identity is known, other Otherworldlies, both good and evil, will be trying to find her and convince her to join their side in a supernatural battle for supremacy.

Kogler’s novel is more complex and unusual than your run-of-the mill vampire tale. The plot mixes the superstitions associated with vampires and the mythology of the ancient Greeks to create a totally unique story. It also deals with issues such as family belonging, adoption and the problems of being different. Hopefully, Kogler will write a sequel to this wonderful story.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Charles Ghigna Reads "Tomorrow's My Birthday" @ HPL

Father Goose, AKA Charles Ghigna stopped by Homewood Public Library to read one of his original children's poems, "Tomorrow's My Birthday". He also chatted with Sandra Swindle of the library and talked about his soon-to-be-published book, "Snow Wonder". Ghigna is an accomplished children's and adult author of poems and stories. He lives in Homewood, Alabama and visits the library almost every week.

Cowboy Bruce & Vernelle, (pretend) Cattle Drive @ HPL '08

Kids of all ages were WOWED by Cowboy Bruce Brannen and his lovely wife Vernelle. They witnessed amazing trick roping, the loud crack of the bull whip, (pretend) cattle hearding, and other cowboy stuff!