FUN at the Iowa Arts & Crafts Fest

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 6:36pm

Join us on August 23rd from 9a to 2p for a day of FUN! 
 
It's the Iowa Arts & Crafts Fest! We're celebrating various artisans around our communities.
 
This marks the 6th incarnation of an annual festival that has always been completely free and open to the public thanks in part to CPPL, the Town of Iowa, Capital One Bank and Coca Cola Bottling.
 
Join us at the Iowa Multi-purpose Center (207 Hwy 90 E.) 
 
Oh yeah, while there, why not make a colorful marble vase. Please register!
 
 

It is the truth or just a way of forcing someone to play “the game”?

Mon, 08/18/2014 - 1:42pm

Doll Bones by Holly Black (2013)

Available in standard print children’s book.

Zach and his friends, Poppy and Alice have been inseparable companions their whole lives.  Alice is an orphan, who lives with a controlling Grandmother; Poppy lives with a family that ignores her completely; and Zach is dealing with an estranged father, who has just moved back into his home. To escape the stresses of their daily lives, the trio had invented a make believe world of pirates and thieves, ruled by a ruthlessly powerful Queen, who must be obeyed, despite the fact she is imprisoned in a distant tower. This ever changing adventure had been going on for years, with Poppy coming up with new story lines, and the children acting out the adventures, using dolls and action figures as props. Even “the Queen” is played by a bone-china doll that is shut up in a glass cabinet at Poppy’s house. For each of these children, playing “the game” was almost as important as eating, but everything changes when Zach’s father does the unthinkable. In an effort to force Zach to grow up, Zach’s father throws out all of Zach’s action figures. Angry and heartbroken, Zach cannot bring himself to tell his friends that, for all intense and purposes, his beloved characters are all dead, so he lies to them and tells them that he doesn’t want to play anymore. The girls are crushed, especially Poppy, but Zach’s little white lie sets in motion a whole new adventure, when Poppy insists that the doll they call “the Queen” is haunted by the ghost of a girl named Eleanor, whom they must lay to rest… or else! Despite his misgivings, Zach agrees to join the girls on a very real “quest” to help Eleanor, but is Poppy telling the truth, or is this just her way of forcing him to play “the game”? Read Doll Bones and find out. Here are other titles by Holly Black.

Praise for Holly Black and Doll Bones:

  • "Nobody does spooky like Holly Black. Doll Bones is a book that will make you sleep with the lights on." (Jeff Kinney, author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series)
  • "Every encounter redraws the blurry lines between childishness and maturity, truth and lies, secrecy and honesty, magic and madness. Spooky, melancholy, elegiac and ultimately hopeful; a small gem." (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

Post written by C. Ford, staff member in the Collection Services Division of the CPPL System.

 

A 19th Century Arctic Shipwreck and the 21st Century's Most Wicked Problem

Mon, 08/18/2014 - 1:34pm

Hampton Sides has written one hell of an Arctic adventure story. In the Kingdom of Ice is the tale of Lieutenant George Washington De Long and his crew aboard the USS Jeannette who, in 1879, attempted to find the Northwest Passage through the Arctic. Their ship left from San Francisco, backed by a notorious New York playboy and staked to the idea that a warm northern current would take them through the Bering Strait. They hoped to reach what was then thought of as the"Open Polar Sea," warm waters made for easy sailing to Asia.

Things didn't go according to plan.

De Long and his crew spent two years locked in a churning mass of sea ice that pushed their increasingly crumbling vessel further into frozen ocean. It was a disaster that killed any hope for an expedient current, the Open Polar Sea, and (SPOILER ALERT) a prolonged future for most of the crew and its sled dogs. Sides tells the story through first person accounts from De Long, ship engineer George Melville (distant relation of Herman), and De Long's wife Emma, who wrote the lieutenant heartbreaking letters throughout the Jeannette's journey.

The story is riveting, a non-fiction page-turner on the level of Devil in the White City and Lost City of Z, and when I read it ravenously on a red eye flight from Anchorage to Atlanta I couldn't help but wonder what it had to teach us about the current Arctic crisis. When I talked with Sides after I returned, and he told me the story didn't end in the 19th century, I was thrilled.

Sides told me that the meticulous records De Long and his crew took throughout their time in the Arctic are now being used by Old Weather, a group of citizen scientists who are working the with National Archives to digitize and analyze the Jeannette's log books.

The story of how the log books survived is nearly as compelling as the story of the Jeannette itself. The massive volumes had to be hauled with Herculean effort through the ice and tundra by the starving crew, then carried through Siberia to St. Petersburg and finally by ship to Washington D.C., where they gathered dust for a century.

Sides was astonished when he picked them up.

"I found about these log books by virtue, really, of sitting down at the National Archives and requesting everything they had on the Jeanette," Sides said. "They wheeled these massive books out on a cart and I didn't really know what they were at first, just that they were really heavy, some of them folio-sized, just massive volumes, you know, and I started thinking, 'How did these get here?' And then I thought, 'Why did these get here?'

"Most of these volumes are truly just log books, just measurements of things in ledgers--specific gravity, salinity, water temperature, Barometric pressure readings taken hourly, a lot of stuff I don't really understand or care about as a writer. I looked at all of them and I thought, 'Wow. That was a lot of work that was probably useless.'

"So it was with great surprise and a sense of satisfaction to learn that NOAA and Kevin Wood and his group at Old Weather are using them on their research."

Wood and Old Weather are digitizing log books and journals from the Age of Exploration to find out what they can tell us about how the world -- in this case, the Arctic -- has changed in the past 150 years. And they want to see what these changes can tell us about what's happening to our climate.

What they've been able to see through De Long and his crew's data is scientific proof of just how massive the sea ice loss has been over the past century and a half, something environmentalists have known in theory for years. Now they have primary documentation.

"The value of a single ship's observations is limited," Wood wrote in an email. "Though it does give us a good sense of what the state of the was like at a particular time and place in the past. If it's very different from today, that is a clue to what the scale of change and variability could reasonably be like."

On September 9, 1879 the Jeannette became trapped in sea ice 7-15 feet thick near Herald Island in the Chukchi Sea.

"This area is often ice-free now," Wood said.

He sent a satellite view of the area from a recent day in July, and you can see that it looks chilly, but not deathly.

"This is a month before the date of ice minimum nowadays" Wood wrote,"so I expect there will be far less ice to see on Sept 9, 2014."

Being a scientist, Wood takes a cautious approach to his description of what's happening in the Arctic, careful not to put a dramatic spin on it. Sides takes a more narrative approach.

"The crazy irony is that the Jeannette was designed to test the theory of the Open Polar Sea," he said, "They set out North to find it and didn't, but now, the climate folks are telling us that there will be an open polar sea in some summer soon. There's a deep irony that this mythic thing that's been talked for centuries and centuries might actually happen now."

The irony will be a killer, not only for the indigenous communities who live in the Arctic, the polar bears, walruses, narwhals, and snowy owls who call it home, but the rest of us around the world too. Less sea ice means more climate disruption globally -- more super storms, more droughts, more resource-based conflict. The ice also reflects the suns rays, as opposed to an open sea which absorbs it. Less ice means a warmer Arctic and a warmer climate, which of course means even less sea ice at a faster rate.

"The Arctic explorers, especially the ones who kept going back, were entranced by it, and what they wrote about the ice in particular was poetically and beautifully," Sides said. "Before I wrote this book, I had this idea of the ice as one thing, but it's alive. It's constantly moving and changing, there's pressure ridges, old ice, new ice, fresh water, salt water, all constantly in flux and flow, subject to weather and wind and current. You start to realize it's this living breathing force, not just this slab of stuff that's just sitting there."

It's a living, breathing force that is rapidly dying. De Long and his crew would hardly recognize the Arctic ocean as it exists now. They were a few of the first, and a few of the last, to see the ancient Arctic as it was before fossil fuels. The overwhelming scientific consensus says that the sea ice's disappearance since the Industrial Revolution is due to anthropogenic global warming. The more fossil fuels we burn, the less sea ice we'll have. The late summer sea ice is nearly gone in the Chukchi, and global oil giants like Shell and Gazprom are hoping to exploit its demise. They plan to drill for more of the oil that's causing the sea ice to disappear in the first place. It's enough to make a person renounce the Jeannette's motto: nil desperandum, "never despair.

But there is hope, it will just take some of that 19th century courage to put it in motion.

"De Long took applications from across the country, hundreds if not thousands of people wanted to do go to the Arctic, to see it," Sides said. "There was patriotism, valor, and personal pride in that journey. It seemed like a glorious adventure to huge numbers of people."

The Arctic adventure is different today. We no longer need De Long's 19th century courage of exploration -- we need a 21st century courage of salvation. It's a kind of courage millions of people around the world have already shown by signing up to Save the Arctic. You can join them easily today, and you can also join the Old Weather team as they transcribe data and document events of all sorts found in the logbooks.

"When De Long was making his retreat across the ice and the tundra," Sides said, "he was constantly asking himself, 'Should I be lugging these volumes?' and a lot of his crew were asking that same question. They felt they weren't necessary. But the narrative you hold in your hands with this book was made possible by that decision to keep the books. Who knows what else we can learn from them." 

article from Huffington Post; written by Travis Nichols

HOOPLA is HERE!

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 9:04am
Calcasieu Parish Public Library cardholders can now borrow (download or stream) a great selection of movies, television shows, educational/instructional videos, documentaries, music, and audiobooks via your browser, smartphone, or tablet (via iOS devices and select Android devices).
 
No waiting lists! No holds! No late fees! Instant availability!
 
To get started, visit the instruction page HERE!

Hey Scrabble fanatics! Big gifts sometimes come in small packages.

Tue, 08/05/2014 - 8:25am

The word "te" as a variant of "ti," the seventh tone on the musical scale, is a hardworking little gem among 5,000 words added to "The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary," out Aug. 11 from Merriam-Webster.

The dictionary's last freshening up was a decade ago. Entries in the forthcoming book that include texter, vlog, bromance, hashtag, dubstep and selfie were mere twinkles on the racks of recreational players.

But it's the addition of te and three other two-letter words — da, gi and po — that has Robin Pollock Daniel excited. Daniel, a clinical psychologist in Toronto, is a champion of the North American Scrabble Players Association, which has a committee that helps Merriam-Webster track down new, playable words of two to eight letters.

"Being able to hook an 'e' underneath 't' means that I can play far more words," explained Daniel, who practices Scrabble two to four hours a day. "Sometimes you play parallel to a word and you're making two-letter words along the way. I call those the amino acids of Scrabble. The more two-letter words we have, the more possibilities a word will fit."

One woman's te is another man's "qajaq," one of Peter Sokolowski's favorites among the new words. He's a lexicographer and editor at large for the Springfield, Massachusetts-based Merriam-Webster.

Qajaq, he said in a recent interview with Daniel, reflects the Inuit roots of kayak and would require a blank tile since Scrabble sets include just one Q. But it's a rare word starting with "q'' that doesn't require a "u."

A bonus, to a word nerd like Sokolowski: qajaq is a palindrome, though that's inconsequential in Scrabble.

The new words add about 40 pages to the Scrabble-sanctioned dictionary, which already lists more than 100,000 playable words. Definitions are kept to a minimum but parts of speech and whether a plural is available are noted.

To be included in the 36-year-old book — this is the fifth edition — a word must be found in a standard dictionary, can't require capitalization, can't have hyphens or apostrophes and can't be an abbreviation, in addition to being two to eight letters, reflecting the seven tiles players draw plus an eighth already on the board they can attach a long word to for bonus points.

Among the highest potential scorers among the new additions is "quinzhee," a shelter made by hollowing out a pile of snow. Played on the board's top row, ending at the top right through an existing "u," and a player can score 401 points, including the 50-point "bingo" bonus for using all seven tiles.

Merriam-Webster didn't identify all 5,000 new words but released a list of about 30 that also include:

Beatbox, buzzkill, chillax, coqui, frenemy, funplex, jockdom, joypad, mixtape, mojito, ponzu, qigong, schmutz, sudoku and yuzu. Geocache was also added, voted into the dictionary by the public during a Facebook contest in May.

"It makes the game more accessible to younger people, which we're always looking for," Daniel said of the update. "All the technology words make it more attractive to them."

Sokolowski anticipates a transitional period for some players who may need time getting used to the idea that so many new words will soon be in play.

"It is going to be a big step for a lot of people to switch to this," he said, "but at the same time if you're sitting at a Scrabble game after dinner and somebody plays the word selfie and somebody challenges that as not a real word, well guess what? It is."

View article...written by Leannie Italie

Back to School With a Little Digital Lunch Money

Tue, 08/05/2014 - 8:16am

Maybe you are smarter than a third grader? But who is fastest with that i-pad or new smart phone app in your house? Chances are if your home is like most, the younger the faster.

And if you think you are starting to feel like you're getting left in the digital dust now, just wait. When your first grader starts talking about crypto currency, don't be surprised when a piggy bank is about as valued as your house phone.

It's that time of year again, back to school time - and this year your child's syllabus might just include digital currency. At least, that's what some companies, and even kids, would like. A new wave of educational tools, apps, games, and child-friendly crypto-currency has emerged, and they are all aimed at teaching children about digital currency, starting from a very young age.

When I was in third grade, our financial education involved watching Mom write out a check, a practically obsolete skill these days. So it should come as no surprise that, with the Bitcoin surge, crypto-currency would be incorporated into current curriculums. Although it probably won't be on your child's syllabus this fall, it's only a matter of time until digital currency makes its way onto the class schedule. We've seen it before - as technology moves forward, schools are usually forced to catch up by updating their course offerings. After all, how long ago did most schools sadly stop offering Home Economics in favor of Computer Science?

For now, there are still plenty of ways that children can learn about digital currency outside of school. Proponents of a "digital currency revolution" recently released an app entitled "The Bitcoin Alphabet - For Kids and Everyone Else," which explains the ABCs of Bitcoin concepts through illustrations and drawings. Additionally, kids can check out a social media site called BitKidz that is filled with tutorials, recent news on Bitcoins, and even offers both a learning center and children's book featuring success stories of kids between 9 - 12 years old who have earned money with Bitcoins.

At that age I was more concerned with playing outside with other kids (yes, in-person, Generation Y), not delving into the world of digital money. But a look at Reddit threads , and 15-year old Bitcoin entrepreneurs shows that the demand is there. Kids today seem very interested in the subject.

Taking the learning process a step further is Piggy Coin, an actual digital currency designed for kids. Piggycoin is a real, working crypto-currency that children can only earn by correctly answering questions in educational online games. Once earned, the Piggycoins are deposited into each child's digital wallet - today's version of a timeless learning tool, the piggy bank.

I suppose that in an age where children are no longer encouraged to think for themselves - where we even have shoes that vibrate to tell you where to turn (in case your GPS combusts while your Smart Phone suddenly fails)- we should be grateful that children are being rewarded for actual learning.

Once you've earned your Piggy Coins, you can spend them online at the Piggy Store, which I must say does not sound all that rewarding to me. Not only does the Piggy Store have a fairly limited merchandise selection, unless of course you love pigs, but the tangible rewards of learning about money are missing from the equation.

Although an undeniably valuable learning tool for kids, Piggycoins lack some of the basic teaching capabilities of an old-fashioned piggy bank. For example, when the coins are in your physical possession, you can actually count them, and add up the total for yourself - a critical lesson in money that your digital wallet will deprive you of. Not to mention kids will forego the inevitable satisfaction of breaking the piggy bank open and basking in the glory of their earnings.

Smashing the piggy bank is a symbol of success. You work hard to earn and save up all of those coins, and once the bank is full, you throw it, drop it, hit it with a hammer, anything to unleash your coins. Once they emerge from the ceramic animal, like candy from a piñata, you can feel them, throw them, hold them up and let them slide through your fingertips and hit the floor in a wave of sound that signals you're rich. Now that's a rewarding experience - and a far cry from simply checking your account on a computer screen.

It's the same reason coin-free slot machines will never compare to traditional models. When you print out a piece of paper telling you what you've won, it just doesn't stir the same excitement as hearing those coins drop into the tray.

Piggycoin has already forged relationships with several schools, and will be in classrooms for kids of all ages very soon. As the company works to expand upon its network, it's fairly safe to say that downloading a digital wallet might soon be on your child's back to school to-do list.

On the bright side, we already know that kids never leave the house without their smart phones, so at least now maybe they can use them at school for something useful - to pay for their lunch via digital currency.

View article from Huffington Post written by Eric Yaverbaum

Newly added features to the digital collection from OverDrive

Mon, 08/04/2014 - 3:05pm

Browse the digital collection website from OverDrive to see the newly added features. 

Suspend a Hold: Temporarily suspend a hold in the waiting list. Your position will continue to advance in the queue while their hold is suspended, but the hold will not be filled. After the suspension ends, the title will continue to advance until the hold becomes available. If a user advances to the first position in the waiting list while the hold is suspended, the system will skip ahead to fill the next available hold.

Hold Auto-Checkout: At the time a user places a hold, the option to ‘auto-checkout’ the title when it becomes available can be set. Users who elect this option will receive a notification when their title is available confirming that it has been checked out and can be found on their account bookshelf. Users who do not select this option will follow the current hold notification process.

Users who select this option but are unable to borrow the title at the time it becomes available (because they have already reached their maximum checkout limit, for example) will be sent the current hold notification email and will have the full hold pickup period to make their checkout.

Maturity Settings: Two options will be added to the Account Settings page that will allow users to customize their browsing and discovery experience based on content maturity level:

  • The ability to exclude certain content based on the maturity level (Juvenile, YA, General, Adult). This will allow adult users to exclude titles for younger readers and young readers to exclude adult-only titles from their experience. More details….http://help.overdrive.com/customer/portal/articles/1492447.
  • The option to “mask” all adult cover images with a basic cover image. This option will be set to “No” by default. Libraries who would like to mask adult cover images for all users by default can request to do so.

“Recommended for you” collection: After a user signs in, a collection of recommended titles will appear on the homepage. Recommended titles will be available for checkout and suggested based on titles the user currently has checked out or on hold. If a user does not have any checkouts or holds, this collection will not appear.

 “And” Boolean Searching: Based on partner feedback to improve search results, default search behavior will change from “OR” to “AND.” Following this change, the number of results returned for a search will likely be lower than with the current behavior, but this change will meaningfully improve the relevancy of the results.

10 Tips For Surviving Your Quarter Life Crisis

Mon, 08/04/2014 - 10:46am

When I think about my quarterlife crisis, I don't think about regrettable text messages or the science behind 4 a.m. nachos that "soak up" alcohol -- though those things were certainly a part of it. I think, instead, of the disconnect I felt between what I was doing and what I actually wanted. Though I regularly committed to jobs, boyfriends and friendships, I completely lacked conviction in any of those choices. I passively accepted whatever came my way.

One restless evening while mindlessly applying to jobs I hoped might save me, I realized how ridiculous it was that I expected a job, boyfriend or carefully constructed Instagram persona to rescue me. To be happy, I needed to take control of my choices. And I knew my biggest hurdle would be self-confidence. Finding self-confidence was as illusive to me as finding twenty bucks in an old jacket pocket.

I began writing about my struggle to escape various twentysomething ruts for the website HelloGiggles and quickly realized that what I was going through was relatable -- and it had actionable solutions. Confidence became more and more tangible to me. Here are some of those tactics, which build confidence while simultaneously conquering any quarterlife crisis -- because, after all, one victory does not exist without the other.

1. Find a career mentor. They are all around you!
You are not alone in this -- as much as you may think so while struggling to fall asleep at night. Not only do you have friends to commiserate; you've got coworkers, bosses and teachers who are happy to share their secrets. So get on their calendar and learn their magical ways. Having the courage to speak your goals aloud can help make them feel real.

2. Do whatever it takes to limit your social media consumption. Whatever it takes.
Some ideas? Don't let your phone or computer automatically save your social media passwords. Keep technology just out of reach. Give your roommate a water gun and instruct them to hit you right in the eye every time you log in. Social Media can be a fun way to check out your aunt's Farmville activity, but it can also damage your confidence. Profiles represent each member's greatest hits, not their experimental polka album. If you try to compare your real life to those standards, you may lose track of your own goals in favor of impressing others.

3. Exercise your brain to make positive connections.
Stop bombarding yourself with negativity. Contrary to the mythology that surrounds him, LeBron James was not born with the ability to make his free throws -- he practiced until his brain became so comfortable with the motion he didn't even need to think about it. In much the same way, your brain can be trained to think positively. How? Try giving out five compliments a day to the people around you. It'll help you recognize life's finer points.

4. Get to know your vices so well they can't fool you anymore.
People use vices to distract themselves from responsibility. Some vices are obvious: smoking, television, videogames, etc. Others are a bit sneakier. During my quarterlife crisis, I did things like stay up hours past my bedtime trying to book the cheapest possible trip to a friend's wedding. I hid procrastination behind a seemingly productive activity. Why I avoided something as glorious as sleep so adamantly, I'll never know.

5. Don't waste time trying to attain the perfect "beach body."
In my twenties, I got pretty tired of trying to love my body: a finicky organic machine that would rather catch a cold than sprout even one lousy abdominal muscle. Taking care of your health should not be about loving your body, but about learning to love yourself. So take yourself on long runs on the beach, draw yourself an Epson salt bath and curl up with yourself for a long night's sleep. You are worth it!

6. Get a planner and let it work it's magic.
Write everything down and your planner will do the rest. It'll keep track of bills, your toilet paper supply and whether happy hour is going to conflict with your friend's improv show. Being on top of your schedule helps you to feel less like a scatterbrain and more in control. Maybe one day you'll have a Spidey-sense for the things on your to-do list, but during your quarterlife crisis? Write everything down.

7. Don't allow break ups to become breakdowns.
It seems obvious, but I'll say it anyways: nobody has to be the bad guy during a break up. When feelings get hurt, there is an urge to place blame -- but that's not always helpful. Even if you outwardly blame the other person, you'll inevitably end up blaming yourself deep down. So don't engage in the blame game. Comfort yourself with a Die Hard movie whenever possible.

8. Don't take your friends for granted. Maybe take them for ice cream, instead.
As hectic as it is to wrap your mind around adult responsibilities and as tempting as it is to accumulate large quantities of acquaintances, don't blow off close friends in your twenties. Tell them what's on your mind and listen to what's on theirs because comparing notes on your quarter life crisis with a trusted confidant is essential to survival.

9. Make a five-year plan but don't etch it in stone. Who are you? Moses?
It's good to plan for the future: to look ahead and focus small tasks towards a larger goal. But make sure you are happy most of the time. Don't be afraid to admit that you were wrong about your dream career. Take a deep breath and allow new inspiration in.

10. Don't be so hard on yourself.
Your twenties are essentially Life Lessons 101, not a Master Class in Perfection. So relax! Save some soul-searching for your thirties, nerd!

Article from Huffington Post written by Mary Traina

Here's a great read!

Mon, 08/04/2014 - 10:35am

Lucky Us by Amy Bloom
Library Copies

The Book We're Talking About is a weekly review combining plot description and analysis with fun tidbits about the book.

What we think:
Amy Bloom’s latest novel, which spans the years shortly before and after the U.S.'s involvement in World War II, begins brusquely: “My father’s wife died.” Rather than mourning the loss of her wealthy, previously unknown family member, bookish young Eva and her opportunistic mother seize the chance to see how the tragic situation might benefit them. They put on their best outfits, borrow their neighbor’s car, and make a long trek to Chicago, where Eva reconnects with her father and meets her half-sister, Iris.

Upon entering her father and Iris’s world of crystal vases, stockings and pineapple upside-down cake, Eva sheds her past life with relative ease, setting off the chain reaction of constant reinvention that will define her youth.

After her mother disappears and her father -- a failed academic who flaunts his “quoting voice” whenever pertinent -- is caught rummaging through Iris’s belongings on more than one occasion, the sisters flee to Hollywood, where glib, glittering Iris pursues a Hollywood career and Eva bums around reading and cooking cheap meals. There, they meet Francisco Diego, a makeup artist who “dresses up for no one.” The sisters immediately take a liking to his no-nonsense attitude and plain kindness. But as soon as Iris’s imminent success becomes apparent, a scandal involving her starlet lover gets her blacklisted from the industry. The girls are forced to rejoin their pocket-picking father and relocate to Brooklyn, but, thankfully for them, Francisco tags along.

In New York, the clan cons a well-off Italian family into allowing them to serve as their house staff, cleaning, babysitting and educating their children. Iris’s romantic pursuits get her into trouble once again, as she falls for the glamorous, married cook, Reenie, who pines for a child. Meanwhile, Eva distracts Reenie’s husband, Gus, with whom she forms a lasting connection in spite of being pulled apart by war-related travesties. Eva earns her keep by reading tarot cards to customers at Francisco’s sisters’ hair salon, demonstrating her keen awareness of the ambitions of others and her desire to please, to tell people what they want to hear.

Bloom smartly punctuates these scenes, narrated by Eva, with letters Iris sends her years after the fact, remembering and misremembering the duo’s adventures. It’s clear that the two have become estranged, that Eva has finally snuffed their tumultuous relationship. We’re given a glimpse of Iris’s unsent letters, too, revealing the dissonance between her private and public personas, her true self and her constructed self.

Through Eva, Iris, their father, and the clan of characters they encounter, Bloom tells the quintessential American story, a story that may no longer be a viable one if set in the present-day United States. Each individual, whether kidnapped from a run-down orphanage only to be met with more dire circumstances, or interned for false accusations of Nazi affiliations, manage to make the most of their unfortunate circumstances, albeit often by way of shadier methods, à la Gatsby. But unlike Fitzgerald, Bloom coats her metamorphosis-spurred-by-ambition narrative in a good ol’ fashioned sheen of American optimism.

Her characters may feel bogged down my memories -- a woeful Iris writes, “Someone once said: God gave us memory, so we could have roses in December. Someone did not add, So we could have blizzards in June and food poisoning when there was nothing to eat” -- but they’re not borne back ceaselessly into the past. They do, eventually, exhibit the tenacity needed to move successfully forward.

What other reviewers think:
Los Angeles Times: "This is not realism, exactly, but something just a bit more heightened, in which naturalism blurs into fable, and the boundaries between reality and dream fade away."

The New York Times: "Ms. Bloom does not write deep-dish, straightforward yarns for readers who enjoy conventional drama. She writes sharp, sparsely beautiful scenes that excitingly defy expectation, and part of the pleasure of reading her is simply keeping up with her."

The Washington Post: "If America has a Victor Hugo, it is Amy Bloom, whose picaresque novels roam the world, plumb the human heart and send characters into wild roulettes of kismet and calamity."

Who wrote it?
Lucky Us is Amy Bloom's second novel. She's also written three short story collections, and has been nominated for both a National Book Award and a National Book Critics Circle Award.

Who will read it?
Fans of historical fiction and those interested in life on the home front during World War II. Anyone who enjoys epistolary novels, as Bloom's is creatively arranged.

Opening lines:
"My father's wife died. My mother said we should drive down to his place and see what might be in it for us.
She tapped my nose with her grapefruit spoon. "It's like this," she said. "Your father loves us more, but he's got another family, a wife and a girl a little older than you. Her family had all the money. Wipe your face."

Notable passage:
"I walked past the orphanage every day. I kept my eyes open for the tall blond boy. These were my people: the abandoned, the unloved, the phenomenally unlucky. Plus, they were Jews, and my age, and their cousins were being slaughtered every day in Europe. Germans could even come and invade and slaughter them here in Brooklyn. They, like me, must be worrying all the time. Sometimes I liked thinking about how brave I would be if I were facing Germans. I knew that it was disgusting to contemplate my own bravery, and, even worse, I knew the brave one would be Iris, flirting with the Nazis, stuffing passports into her bra to save the old people and the Jewish babies. I'd be sitting on some staircase somewhere, with my nose in a book, squeezing against the banister when they came running past me."

Rating, out of ten:
7. Through carefully arranged letters and quietly evocative scenes, Bloom weaves together a fresh take on our modern conception of the American dream. Still, the unfailing optimism of both the author and her characters seems, at times, artificial.

Article from the Huffington Post written by Maddie Crum

Sulphur Library gets new carpet!

Fri, 08/01/2014 - 1:53pm

The Sulphur library will be closed for new carpet installation.

Closing dates are August 4th through August 16th.  It will reopen on August 17th.  Hours of operation at the Maplewood Library branch will be extended. Their hours will be 9:00am – 5:00pm – Monday through Friday during the 2 week period.  

The book drop at the Sulphur Library will remain unlocked for your convenience. Holds may be picked up at the Maplewood Library branch located at 91 Center Circle. The contact number is 337-721-7104.  

 

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