Leap Day / Leap Year items

You would think with Leap Day coming only every four years, there would be more stories revolving around the rare event. I could only come up with four titles in our catalog. (Descriptions provided by publisher.)

Lucky Leap Day by Ann Marie Walker — During a whirlwind trip to Ireland, after one too many whiskeys, fledgling screenwriter Cara Kennedy gets caught up in the Irish tradition of women proposing on Leap Day. She wakes up the next morning with a hot guy in her bed and a tin foil ring. With a flight back to LA in four hours, the best thing they can do is figure things out along the way. In LA Finn Maguire spends the nights charming his new bride– and his days going on auditions. Is their marriage the real deal– or was he just after her Hollywood connections?

 

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Leap Year (DVD) – This movie from 2010 introduced me to the Irish tradition that allows women to propose to men on Leap Day. Anna (played by Amy Adams) follows Jeremy to Dublin to propose to him. But after landing on the wrong side of Ireland, she must enlist the help of Declan, a handsome and carefree local man, to get her across the country. Along the way, they discover that the road to love can take you to very unexpected places.

 

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Leap Day by Wendy Mass – This Young Adult novel features a heroine Josie on her fourth Leap birthday, when she turns sixteen. Josie has a number of momentous experiences, including taking her driver’s test, auditioning for a school play, and celebrating with her family and friends.

 

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A Different Dawn by Isabella Maldonado — When the FBI’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program database detects two murder incidents “staged to look like double murder suicides,” FBI special agent Nina Guerrera investigates, in Maldonado’s captivating sequel to 2020’s The Cipher. The most recent occurred in Phoenix, Ariz., and the previous one happened four years before in Manhattan, both on February 29. FBI agents soon discover the existence of eight similar crimes at four-year intervals, all involving young couples with an infant or newborn child. As the agents get closer to finding commonalities among the murders and in particular the significance of leap day, things get personal for Nina as she uncovers clues to the crimes related to her entry into the foster system as a child. (Publishers Weekly review, 06/28/2021)

I love you “snow” much

Snow outside makes many people want to cozy up with a loved one. Here’s a few titles that combine romance and snow to make sparks fly! (Descriptions from the publisher)

Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane by JoAnn Ross – The feeling of first love can’t be forgotten between Jolene Wells and Aiden Mannion. Jolene returns to her hometown and Aiden has shed his black-sheep reputation. Despite the secret they left between them all those years ago, snow is starting to fall on their picturesque little town, making anything seem possible … maybe even a second chance at first love.

 

The Secret of Snow by Viola Shipman – When Sonny Dunes, a SoCal meteorologist whose job is all sunshine and 72-degree days, is replaced by a virtual meteorologist that will never age, the only station willing to give the fifty-year-old another shot is her northern Michigan hometown. Sonny throws herself headfirst into covering every small-town winter event to woo a new audience, made more bearable by a handsome widower with optimism to spare.

Eight Perfect Hours by Lia Louis – With a blizzard closing off roads, Noelle Butterby finds herself stranded, alone in her car, without food, drink, or a working charger for her phone. All seems lost until Sam Attwood, a handsome stranger also trapped in a nearby car, knocks on her window and offers assistance. What follows is eight perfect hours together, until morning arrives and the roads finally clear. The two strangers part, positive they’ll never see each other. As the two keep serendipitously bumping into one another, they begin to realize that perhaps there is no such thing as coincidence.

Reasonable Adults by Robin Lefler – After a humiliating post-breakup social media post (#sponsoredbywine), Kate Rigsby loses her marketing job. Craving a reset, Kate flees the big-city life to take a temporary gig at Treetops, a struggling resort stuck in the 1990s. Kate’s office is a bunker, her boss is a nightmare, and at night she shares a freezing hut with her Goldendoodle. Then there’s the sexy, off-limits coworker whose easy smile and lumberjack forearms are distracting Kate from the already near-impossible task of making this snowbound oasis profitable. 

Ever Constant by Tracie Peterson – On the surface, Whitney Powell is happy working with her sled dogs, but her life is full of complications that push her over the edge. When sickness spreads in outlying villages, Dr. Peter Cameron turns to Whitney and her dogs for help navigating the deep snow, and together they discover that sometimes it’s only in weakness you can find strength.

 

Something Wild & Wonderful by Anita Kelly – When Alexei Lebedev finally comes out to his conservative community, it does not go well. That’s how he ended up on the Pacific Crest Trail, hoping he can figure out a new life plan in the miles it’ll take to walk the famed hike. There he meets charismatic and outgoing Ben Caravalho. No matter how determined Alexei is to hike the trail alone, it seems he and Ben can’t avoid being drawn to each other. Through snow crossings and close calls with coyotes, Alexei inches closer to letting Ben in.

Davenport Public Library’s longest book

Librarians never know what kind of questions they’ll get when working the reference desk. Recently, a young patron asked a question that seems like it should have an easy answer but needed quite a deep dive.

The question was, “What’s the longest book in the library?”

It turns out, we don’t have a way to search our catalog by number of pages or word count. Instead, we did an internet search for longest books and then manually cross referenced that with items available at our library.

Among fiction, War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy came out as our longest book. Our copy is 1,388 pages. The word count is estimated at over 587,000 words. (Editions of “War and Peace” at other libraries may use a different font size and come out to a different number of pages.)

Runner’s up are:

  • Les Misérables by Victor Hugo at 1,330 pages and about 546,000 words.
  • Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace at 1,079 pages and almost 484,000 words.
  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell at 1,037 pages and about 418,000 words.

Get In On the Ground floor — New Graphic Novels Series

New graphic novel series are starting all the time, introducing new characters or new storylines for established characters. Here are some series added to the Davenport Public Library collection in early 2021 that will help you enjoy your graphic novel reading experience from the very beginning.

The Apothecary Diaries – This manga from Natsu Hyuuga tells the story of Maomao, a young woman trained in the art of herbal medicine, who is forced to work as a lowly servant in the inner palace. Using her wits to break a “curse” afflicting the imperial heirs, Maomao attracts the attentions of the handsome eunuch Jinshi and is promoted to attendant food taster. But Jinshi has other plans for the erstwhile apothecary, and soon Maomao is brewing potions and solving mysteries. In this quick moving series, Volumes 2 through 4 are scheduled to come out by the end of the year.

Batman/Superman – From popular comic hero writer Joshua Williamson, Batman and Superman team up in a new series. They must work together to find out who is infected with the mutated Joker virus and hopefully cure them before it’s too late.  You can jump in here or get more backstory on the Joker virus in 2019’s The Batman Who Laughs storyline from Scott Snyder.   Volume 2 of  Batman/Superman is due out later this year.

 

Canto : If Only I had a Heart  written by David M. Booher ; art by Drew Zucker – Canto opens with a quote from the Tin Woodman in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. “I shall take the heart, for brains do not make one happy, and happiness is the best thing in the world.” That sets the stage for, what at first appears to be an adorable, short knight going on an epic quest. The story turns darker as it is explained that creatures known as “slavers” have replaced all the hearts of the Canto-like creatures with clocks and forced them to work at furnaces to fuel their city. Canto’s epic quest is to find the heart of the girl he loves after the slavers break her clock and threaten to throw her in the furnace if she can’t work anymore. Volume 2 comes out in May 2021.

Carole & Tuesday written by Shinichirō Watanabe; illustrations by Morito Yamataka – When orphan Carole meets runaway Tuesday, an uptown girl who wants nothing more than to make music, it’s as if they were fated to find each other. With their shared dream, the duo charges headfirst into the world of entertainment on colonized Mars. This is a manga graphic novel, so it reads right to left.  Watch for Volume 2 to be available from the Davenport Public Library soon.

 

Ms. Marvel starts an all-new era with an alien invasion in New Jersey.  She must save her hometown, save the planet, and protect her family.  But her parents are also trying to protect her by chaperoning her outer space adventures. In Volume 2, Ms. Marvel’s roadtrip is derailed by zombies. You don’t have to wait long for Volume 3, due in May 2021, where Ms. Marvel must complete with a new superhero in town – Amulet. This series is headed by prolific graphic novel writer Saladin Ahmed.

Ragna Crimson — Dragon hunters: warriors armed with special silver weapons who kill their prey for bounty. Lowest among their ranks is Ragna, who forms an improbable partnership with the young genius Leonica, a master dragon slayer with more kills to her name than almost any other. All Ragna wants is to stay by Leonica’s side, but his dream is shattered by an attack from the deadliest dragon imaginable. More volumes are scheduled to come out in May and August.

Graphic Novels You May Have Missed

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Davenport Public Library has been intermittently closed for browsing. We are open at the moment and encourage you to “grab-and-go.” Checking out the New Shelves is a great way to find something to suit your immediate needs, but don’t neglect the stacks — that area of the library where items go to live after losing the New sticker. Here are some graphic novels that moved out of the New area while we were closed for browsing. Check them out! You just may find a hidden gem.

Big Black : Stand at Attica is a graphic novel memoir by Frank “Big Black” Smith about one of the bloodiest civil rights confrontations in American history. In 1971, prisoners at New York’s Attica State Prison rebel against the injustices of the prison system. This is a must-read if you are studying the history of systematic racism in America.

Clyde Fans, by a writer/artist simply known as Seth, is a picture novel that opens with an older gentleman starting his day while reminiscing about his younger years as a traveling fan salesman. Between the character’s nostalgic musings and the art deco look of the drawings, it’s hard to remember the opening scene takes place in 1997. The story follows a once-successful fan business through its decline as it’s unable to adapt to the changing conditions of the business, namely, air conditioning.

Downfall by Inio Asano is a manga graphic novel — it reads right to left and is translated from Japanese. After achieving success with his first manga series, the main character desperately tries to fill a void by re-creating that success, but he has no idea how. Several reviews warned this book is for mature audiences because of scenes of sexual violence.

These savage shores will appeal to vampire fans and history buffs. This graphic novel takes place in 1766 as the East India Company seeks to secure its future along the lucrative Silk Route. An English vampire sails aboard a company ship, hoping to make a home in this new found land. But he will soon find that the ground along the Indus is an ancient one with daemons and legends far older than himself.

In Upgrade Soul by Ezra Claytan Daniels, Hank and Molly Nonnar undergo an experimental rejuvenation procedure for their 45th wedding anniversary. Their hopes for youth are dashed when the couple is faced with the results: severely disfigured yet intellectually and physically superior duplicates of themselves. Can the original Hank and Molly coexist in the same world as their clones? Is a newer, better version of yourself still you?

Meanwhile, the Archie universe is alive and well. Archie is no longer just a romantically indecisive teen with a Jughead best friend. In Archie by Nike Spencer, the gang returns to Riverdale after a summer away and Archie has a secret girlfriend. Betty & Veronica : Senior Year by Jamie Lee Rotante focuses on BFFs Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge.  The two think they’ll be attending the same college in the fall but find out that their plans have changed, putting their friendship to the test. Finally, Archie vs. Predator II by Alex DeCampi takes on a science fiction plot as Predators on Mars plan to attack Betty, Veronica and Archie.

Will Eisner Week — March 1-7

The first week of March is Will Eisner Week to celebrate comics and graphic novel pioneer Will Eisner in conjunction with his March 6th birthday. While Eisner died in 2005, his influence lives on in the art, content and characters he created. Here are some items to get you started in a deep-dive of Will Eisner.

Start with Eisner’s ground-breaking character The Spirit. Introduced in 1940, masked criminologist Denny Colt — believed by many to be dead — secretly fights crime as The Spirit. From his home in Central City to the far-flung corners of the world and beyond, The Spirit attracts dangerous femmes fatale and wages a never-ending war against streetwise crooks and criminal master-minds with only quick wits, sharp humor and his two gloved fists. The 80th anniversary of The Spirit was celebrated with this all-new collection published in 2020.

A collection of four graphic novels originally published between 1987 and 2000, Will Eisner’s New York: Life in the Big City shows urban vitality through slice-of-life stories. We see boys fishing for treasures in a street grate, lonely shut-ins and nosy housewives, and the building of the subway system. Eisner made observations as he lived and worked in the city —  his genius was the transfer of those observations to printed page.

 

If you’re interested in learning about comics and graphic novels, Will Eisner: Champion of the Graphic Novel is a good bet. Part biography, part analysis of Eisner’s work and its impact, this book traces his evolution as an artist, showcasing both previously unpublished materials and famous work.

Celebrate Will Eisner Week, March 1-7, by indulging in your favorite comics or graphic novels. Bonus points if those materials tie back to Will Eisner himself. It’s the perfect excuse to try some of Eisner’s work and see how it has influenced modern storytelling, comics and graphic novels.

 

 

Laura Ingalls Wilder Resources

While I am no fan of ice and bitter cold temperatures, early February is my favorite time of year, reading-wise. Author Laura Ingalls Wilder was born on February 7, 1867, and died February 10, 1957. I call this “Laura Week” and use the time to read new publications about her or re-read the classic “Little House” series. The world of Laura Ingalls Wilder continues to endure re-examinations 60+ years after her death.

This year I will be reading A Prairie Girl’s Faith by Stephen W. Hines. This book is described as “An extended, in-depth discussion of the Christian faith of one of America’s most beloved pioneer women, Laura Ingalls Wilder.” I recall several scenes in the “Little House” books about Laura attending church services with her family. In On the Banks of Plum Creek, Pa sacrifices money saved for new work boots to contribute toward the church bell. I’m excited to learn how the “real” Laura’s faith shaped her life.

Other recent non-fiction books have taken closer looks at various aspects of Wilder’s life. Prairie Fires by Caroline Fraser won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Biography. It puts Wilder and her family in the greater context of the American history they were living. Libertarians on the Prairie by Christine Woodside examines the political influences Wilder and her daughter Rose Wilder Lane weaved into the books.

In fiction, Caroline : Little House, revisited by Sarah Miller has been a recent hit for adult readers. This historical fiction novel tells the story of the family’s homesteading attempt in Kansas Indian Territory from Ma’s perspective. You may be familiar with the story from the third book in the children’s series “Little House on the Prairie.”

Many Midwesterners have fond memories of reading the “Little House” series or watching the 1970s Little House on the Prairie TV show, even in reruns. It brings back a comfy nostalgia of simpler times, self-reliance and family togetherness. Those themes seemed particularly significant during a year of quarantining and social distancing. I heard of people turning to Wilder’s The Long Winter to see how her family made it through the 1880-1881 South Dakota winter filled with the blizzards, boredom and monotony — and they didn’t even have wi-fi! It might be worth a revisit for you.

Looking at the “Little House” book series through a modern lens, we see it is not without problems in how it treats Indigenous people and people of color. The American Library Association responded to a re-examination of her work by changing the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award to the Children’s Literature Legacy Award in 2018. Before and after the name change, the award aimed to honor an author or illustrator whose books have made a significant and lasting contribution to children’s literature. If you are interested in an academic approach to Laura Ingalls Wilder, I suggest exploring the Davenport Public Library’s Online Reference & Research Resources. The Educator’s Reference database, for example, has several article’s discussing the ALA decision to change the name of the award. A search for “Laura Ingalls Wilder” generates an article with alternatives to the “Little House” series, such as Betsy-Tacy by Maud Lovelace and the Birchbark House series by Louise Erdrich. There are dozens of other full-text articles about Laura Ingalls Wilder, her work and her writing.

 

 

 

Game Changers documentary

The recent passing of “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek inspired me to watch the 2019 documentary Game Changers, about the phenomenon of TV game shows, the hosts, the contestants, and the controversies. Viewers are immediately drawn in as Trebek recites a whimsical poem about all the things he could be when he grows up.

“My parents always said:
Alex, get a good education and you can be anything you want to be.
A miner, a designer, or a Vegas headliner.
A teacher, a preacher, or a deep sea researcher.
An actor, a factor, or a farmer in a tractor.
A banker, a flanker, or captain of an ocean tanker.
No one prepared me for game show host. It wasn’t one of the options in the high school career guide.”

From there, Trebek opens the door to the behind-the-scenes world of game shows. The documentary takes viewers through:
• the history of game shows making the transition from radio to television
• the 1950s game show scandals and how that changed the rules and regulations of the contests
• trends in daytime and prime time game shows
• and the more recent phenomenon of shows like “Deal or No Deal” and “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”

Trebek is featured not only as a subject of the documentary, he also lends himself as the interviewer to other game show hosts such as Drew Carey, Howie Mandel and Regis Philbin. In turn, the hosts talk about how they got their gigs and their thoughts on their unusual jobs. Like his game show host persona, Trebek strikes the perfect balance of not taking himself too seriously in interviews while also protecting the integrity of the hosts.
At times a bit slow, there are enough anecdotes mixed in to make up for it. Pat Sajak’s first impression of Vanna White was that she was “too nervous” for the “Wheel of Fortune” job. The “Jeopardy” think-music will definitely get stuck in your head as Merv Griffin’s son explains how quickly it was written.

Plenty of nostalgia is woven throughout the documentary. Contestants reminisce about watching game shows with grandparents or while home sick from school. This documentary will motivate you to pick up the remote and play along with a TV game show again, perhaps “Jeopardy” as the final Trebek episodes run their course in the coming weeks.

Kedi on DVD

I heard about the 2016 documentary Kedi on the podcast “Movie Therapy with Rafer & Kristen.” The hosts were advising a listener looking for comfort after her beloved cat passed away.

Kedi is a documentary about street cats in Istanbul. The film explores the many ways the cats are viewed by the city’s human inhabitants. For example, one restaurant owner prefers a cat for pest control over chemicals. Another bakery owner considers the neighborhood street cat a nuisance, begging customers for food and refusing to be shooed away. Most often, the cats are loved. A market vendor is the to-go person when a cat is found injured. He has a running tab at the veterinarian’s office. A woman lets one cat come and go as she pleases through the apartment but can’t imagine even attempting to make the street cat a house cat.

Underlying clever cat camerawork is a commentary on a changing city. With buildings rising up and green spaces shrinking at ground level, the documentary’s human participants wonder how the cats will continue navigate their space. But after surviving for thousands of years in the city already, the cats are sure to adjust and change along with the city.

The film is subtitled but like many great documentaries the story is told through visual narratives from which it is impossible to look away. The cats are the stars of the film. Unlike internet cat videos, this isn’t a short clip of a cute trick. Rather, it’s a long observation of the joy and comfort cats can bring to the human experience.

Dial H for Hero (volume 1) by Sam Humphries

Vacation goes from boring to thrilling with the not-so-simple ring of the phone in Dial H for Hero by Sam Humphries.

Our story begins with young Miguel Montez being rescued by Superman after a swimming pool accident. He spends the rest of his childhood chasing the adrenaline rush, which makes his teen years working in his uncle’s mayonnaise-themed food truck a real drag. In the mist of a dirt bike stunt, Miguel stumbles across a new way to save himself — dial H on the rotary phone falling next to him.

Fellow adrenaline junkie Summer soon joins Miguel — in a stolen food truck, no less — in chasing the rush of being a superhero for one hour every time the H-Dial is activated. Hot on their heels are villains and fellow civilians alike, all wanting to play the superhero fantasy. The catch is, no one has any control over what type of superhero they’ll turn into. Sometimes they are save-the-day archetypes such as Monster Truck or Lo Lo Kick You. Other times, they spend the hour as comically bad superheros, such as  Summer becoming Chimp Change, a pistol-toting, fishnet stocking and high heel clad chimpanzee. Miguel is transformed into “Lil’ Miguelito,” a character reminiscent of a Family Circus cartoon.

Miguel and Summer quickly find themselves in over their heads and they take on a new mission: Get the H-Dial back to the one hero they trust — Superman!

Dial H for Hero volumes 1 and 2 are available now through the Davenport Public Library.