Wednesday, March 22, 2017

#ComicsWednesday: Mooncop by Tom Gauld

Someone probably already said this, but Mooncop by Tom Gauld is The Little Prince of our times.

Mooncop and The Little Prince

Like The Little Prince, this new, tiny book is elegant and beautiful. It expresses in a few short pages what it means to be human, not only in an imagined future where we fly through space and colonize the moon, but in the present, at this very moment.


Mooncop is sad and lovely. Don't let it slip by!

~Mike, Adult Services

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Staff Review: Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler
Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler is not the sort of book I normally read, but my daughter works in the restaurant business, so we decided to read it together. She read a paper copy and I listened to audio. This novel earned its young debut-author a six-figure advance but it's meeting with mixed reviews; critics are swooning but readers aren't so smitten: on Goodreads, they're more inclined to three stars.

Sweetbitter tells the story of Tess, a 22-year-old Midwesterner who, in 2006, leaves home to move, solo, to New York City, where she quickly lands a back-waiter position at one of New York's most prestigious restaurants (a loosely disguised Union Square Café).

What follows is the narrative of her exhilarating, heartbreaking, exhausting, energizing new life. There's a great deal of food and wine talk, lots and lots of drugs, and a generous helping of sex. Foodies will enjoy the book for the truffles, figs, and oysters alone. It's the alcohol- and drug-fueled decadence that seems to turn some readers off, but my daughter confirms that the lifestyle Danler depicts is spot-on for many in the industry.

Sweetbitter looks, and occasionally reads, like a nice bit of fluff, but the novel is more than a beach book. It's got some meat on its bones. For one thing, Danler can write and she has a wonderful eye for the telling detail, whether it's the look, smell, and feel of a rapidly altering New York City or the devastating after-effects of an over-the-top binge. The rigors of restaurant work are nicely drawn too, and we get a genuine feel for staff camaraderie, liaisons, and clashes, the flawless nights of almost-choreographed service and the nights that are slapstick fiascos.

I found the book's ending to be something of a disappointment. That aside, what impressed me most about the book is the author's psychological acuity. She describes her character's loneliness in the vast, churning city, or her sudden recognition of the shallowness of her staff friendships, and the reader feels these things too. For all her callow youth, Tess's observations are often wise beyond her years and it's a testament to the author that they so often ring true.

Audio Notes: the audiobook narrator takes a little getting used to --  her voice is husky, characterized by what reviewers call "vocal fry," but once I adjusted, I enjoyed her nuanced reading. She's great with accents too and has some fun with southern, Bronx, and heavy Russian ones. 

~Ann, Adult Services

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

#ComicsWednesday: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 1 by Ryan North, Erica Henderson, & Rico Renzi

I love everything about Squirrel Girl. Just getting it out of the way, this is definitely not an unbiased review. She is my favorite superhero, hands down. I want to be her best friend.

All that aside, this hardcover collection of the first eight issues of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is absolutely delightful. Ryan North (Dinosaur Comics, Romeo and/or Juliet) has created a funny, strong, smart hero in Doreen Green, a.k.a. the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. A human girl with the proportional strength and speed of a squirrel, and also a large squirrel tail that she stuffs into her pants to be less conspicuous. Armed with her wits, her kick-butt abilities, her best friend the squirrel Tippy Toe, her awesome friend and roommate Nancy, and Deadpool's Guide to Super Villain cards, Squirrel Girl can beat anyone. She's unbeatable. In addition, North adds some informational running commentary at the bottom of each page.

Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi (Spider-Gwen, Howard the Duck) give us amazing art and coloring, a fresh take on the traditional comic style. The characters look realistic, and Squirrel Girl's outfit is practical - function over fashion. There are digressions into Squirrel Girl's "past" that are presented as classic comics. These comics are illustrated in that recognizable comic style of yesteryear. They are ridiculous (in a good way), and feature Squirrel Girl meeting Iron Man for the first time, and teaming up with Captain America.

Read this if you like Lumberjanes, Bee and PuppycatDeadpool, or any number of other irreverent and weird comics. This is a great starter for new comic readers, young and old alike.

Squirrel Girl is an awesome role model for younger readers. She's going to college for computer science, she's body-positive, she's funny and confident. She has her own theme song (which is sung to the tune of the Spider-man theme). She talks to squirrels. She's here to eat nuts and kick butts, and she's all out of nuts.

- Libby, Youth Services

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Staff Review: Tiny Hats on Cats by Adam Ellis

Last summer I put together a blog post highlighting some of our quirkier books for cat lovers. I should've recognized it as a warning sign because in October, I adopted a cat. I am now an official cat-owning librarian cliché. But look at this sweet face!
How could I say no?

Dexter (yes, he is named after the fictional serial killer) is a wonderful cat, but you might've noticed the Cone of Shame in his picture. No one has been happy with the (temporary) necessity of the Cone of Shame. It's both annoying and unfashionable, but it did remind me of that cat lover book list and one particular title on the list: Tiny Hats on Cats by Adam Ellis
Yes! This book will guide you in the crafting of tiny paper hats for your feline friends. Obviously, Dexter and I had to get in on this. So we gathered our supplies and got to work!
We decided to start with a simple top hat design. A real classic. The book provides patterns and directions for several basic shapes that can be combined in different ways to make different styles of hats. There are even tips on sizing the tiny hats to better perch on your cat's head. In this, my first attempt, I made a hat slightly too large for Dexter's dainty noggin.
I recommend crafting your hat in a room without your cat. Both to maintain the surprise and joy your cat will feel when presented with your finished hat, and because cats are naturally curious about what it is you are doing, yet completely unable to understand phrases like "Please don't step on that! The glue is wet!"
In the end we crafted a hat and Dexter was willing to wear it long enough to pose for a picture in exchange for two extra kibbles and extra play time with his favorite catnip mouse.
Do I recommend this book to others? Um, yes. The world needs more pictures of cats (and dogs?) in hats.
~Sarah, Adult Services

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

#ComicsWednesday: Food Wars! by Yuto Tsukuda & Shun Saeki

Food Wars! shokugeki no soma is written by Yuto Tsukuda and illustrated by Shun Saeki. Professional chef Yuki Morisaki serves as a culinary adviser for the series. I highly recommend this manga to foodies, but parents should be aware that this series may be inappropriate for children and younger teens, despite its high school setting.

If you've ever lost an afternoon, an evening, or an entire weekend to a marathon of Chopped, Iron Chef, Cutthroat Kitchen, or any of the other dozens of cooking competition shows, this is the manga for you. Main character Soma Yukihira has already found his passion at the age of 15: cooking with his dad in their family restaurant. His father, however, has his own plans, and enrolls Soma in the incredibly competitive Tōtsuki Culinary Academy.

This series is known both for the delicious food and for its over-the-top fan service (translation: sexy images where very little is left to the imagination), where characters' enjoyment of particularly delicious food is shown as an orgasmic experience. It's a choice that I found personally off-putting at first, but gradually it became a part of the series's quirky charm.

There is a two-series anime adaptation that is currently only available with subtitles through a streaming service (no DVDs), and fans of the anime should definitely check out the manga. The manga not only expands on the story, but includes actual recipes for several of the dishes!

~Sarah, Adult Services