Frank Lloyd Wright 
submitted by Debbe

I was recently asked “Why do you read fiction.” My first reaction is that it entertains me and that is absolutely true as I have spent many hours being entertained by novels. After some thought I realized that I like that fiction often leads me to seek out more information on a topic, place or person l, especially when it is historical fiction. This is how I became interested in Frank Lloyd Wright.

It all started with Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. Prior to reading this book, the extent of my knowledge of Wright was that he was a famous architect and that my husband had a slight fascination with his work. Reading the fictional representation of Wright’s relationship with Mamah Borthwick Cheney and the initial building of Taliesin, Wright’s home outside of Spring Green, Wisconsin, left me wanting to know more about Frank Lloyd Wright, the man and the architect.

I immediately checked out filmmaker, Ken Burn’s documentary on Wright, Frank Lloyd Wright, from the library’s DVD collection. My husband encouraged by my interest suggested places to tour.

On a trip to Chicago, we visited the suburb of Oak Park and toured the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, Wright's private residence and workplace during his early career. Take an armchair tour with The Oak Park Home and Studio of Frank Lloyd Wright by Ann Abernathy.

We next vacationed in Wisconsin, with Taliesin being the first stop. The docents told the tour group that Horan had spent time there doing research for Loving Frank and how they felt she had done an excellent job getting the facts straight. We also heard about another author who did research there, T. Coraghassen Boyle, and his novel The Women, a fictionalized account of not only Wright’s mistress but his three wives. Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin and Taliesin West by Kathryn Smith showcases not only his Wisconsin home and studio, but another place we hope to visit, Taliesin West, Wright’s winter residence outside of Scottsdale, Arizona.

On a recent beach vacation we just happened to read in the local paper that Auldbrass, a private residence designed by Wright, was open for tours that weekend. We immediately made a reservation. Auldbrass: Frank Lloyd Wright's Southern Plantation by David G. De Long offers another visual tour.

In the future, high on our list of places to visit is Fallingwater, the home where Wright incorporated a natural waterfall in the design, which is detailed in Fallingwater rising: Frank Lloyd Wright, E.J. Kaufmann, and America's Most Extraordinary House by Franklin Toker.

For biographical information on Wright go to the source himself Frank Lloyd Wright: an Autobiography, the 2004 Penguin Life biography Frank Lloyd Wright by Ada Louise Huxtable or William R. Drennan’s Death in a Prairie House: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin murders .

I’m not sure how long this fascination will last but I am enjoying some nice vacations and I’ve even branched out to learn about other architects and architectural styles. All inspired by a novel.

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Mid-Life by Joe Ollmann 
submitted by Tommy

I rarely read Graphic Novels for the simple reason that they are more Graphic than Novel. I think this is my fourth one so far. The others are Maus, Ghost World, and Daytripper. All were really good but Mid-Life by Joe Ollmann is my favorite of the four. Perhaps it is because I can identify with the subject matter. John is a 40 year old husband. He is the father of two grown daughters from his first marriage. He is currently married to a younger woman, Chan. They have an infant son and a few cats. His home life is a bunch of work with little reward. His body is changing for the worse, and he is frustrated and bored at work. John also has a wandering eye.

Enter Sherry Smalls. She is a “Children’s Performer.” John discovers her from a CD that he listens to with his son. He likes her picture on the cover and becomes obsessed with her. Sherry does alright with her job. It pays the bills, but she is unfulfilled and yearns from something more. Sherry’s band-mate and sometimes boyfriend, Ric, is a junkie and a big problem for her. Thus, the stars are aligned for John and Sherry to meet. Will they ever really meet face to face? Or will Sherry just remain a distant fantasy that helps John get through his humdrum days?

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Don’t Blink by James Patterson and Howard Roughan 
submitted by Damera

When someone tells you not to blink, you follow the rules. In the suspense packed novel Don’t Blink by James Patterson and Howard Roughan, you will not be able to turn away, let alone blink. What starts out as the interview of a lifetime for magazine reporter Nick Daniels, turns into a gripping tale of whether you should or should not always believe what you hear. This book is packed with love, baseball, and the mob. Go figure! If you have never read a novel by James Patterson, this is a good one to start with that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

After reading this book, it made me realize why I continue to return to James Patterson novels to get me going. He has a way of capturing your senses and keeping you enthralled in a story that makes you want to devour its contents in one sitting. The suspense alone makes you love to hate Patterson as he tangles you in one web after another of gruesome intensity. Word to the wise: don’t sit down to read this book with a plate of food in front of you. You will totally lose your appetite.

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Echo: The Complete Edition by Terry Moore 
submitted by Tony

In 2008, Terry Moore returned from a year long hiatus from comic publication. His absence was due to completion of his previous comic series of 13 years, Strangers in Paradise (SIP). SIP, a much beloved indie comic, was a complicated tale told in a realistic style with a dedicated fan-base addicted to the intensely personal quality of the main characters’ interaction. It mixed several sub-genres – romance, crime drama, and autobiography – while always feeling fresh and compelling.

Needless to say, expectations for Moore’s new series, Echo, ran very high. Moore would go on to easily meet them over the course of thirty issues. That he managed to do so despite Echo being a science fiction drama with a main character that is – for all intents and purposes – a superhero was quite an achievement.

Here is a brief summary of the plotline:

“Julie is in the wrong place at the wrong time and becomes an unwilling participant in a web of murder and deceit that becomes nuclear! She is forced to find the maker of the atomic plasma that has rained down on her. As the plasma grows, she gets closer and closer to answers with the help of the original owner of the atomic suit she now wears. A lunatic with powers from the plasma is determined to take Julie and her suit for his own and destroys everything that stands in his way. Julie’s mission becomes too hot for her to handle alone and along with Ivy and Dillon, she must stop the makers of the suit from harnessing the plasma for their own destructive use.” - ... 1892597489

The same loving attention to the interactions between characters that were the hallmark of SIP can be found in Echo. The art is rendered in a deceptively simple, crisp black and white style but each character is detailed and the composition is such that you want to linger over each page, sometimes even a single panel. At the same time, Moore keeps the action moving so that you cannot help but turn the next page.

One of my favorite sequences in Echo is close to the end when Julie, Dillion, and Ivy are closing in on their final destination. Ivy has been affected by prolonged contact with the strange radiation and is actually growing younger by the day. At this junction, she has reverted to being an impulsive, snarky teenager. Julie, something of an emotional wreck due to care for her sick sister and an impending divorce, is thrust into the role of the organized adult. The banter between the two characters is not only hilarious but rings true with regard to the antagonistic relationship between teens and adults.

This edition collects all thirty issues but is not just a trade paperback collection. Weighing in at 590 pages and telling a complete story, Echo clearly deserves to be called a “graphic novel” in the full sense of this often misused term. It includes all covers plus some sketch work that shows the visual development of various characters.

Click here to reserve a copy.

If you are interested in learning more about Terry Moore’s works - including his newest series, Rachel’s Rising - you can click here.

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The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes 
submitted by Caren

At just 163 pages, The Sense of an Ending, winner of the the 2011 Man Booker Prize (a British literary prize for fiction), packs a lot into a small package. The use of language is sublime, and the characterizations are very finely crafted, with an economy of carefully chosen words. The book begins with apparently disparate memories of the now retired main character, Tony Webster, as he is thinking back over his life. He recalls an exchange between his history teacher at the end of his last year of secondary school and one of his friends, Adrian. The history teacher remarks that, "...historians need to treat a participant's own explanation of events with a certain skepticism. It is often the statement made with an eye to the future that is the most suspect."

Webster's memories of events from his young adulthood portray him as a very ordinary and likeable fellow. The ways in which the memories alter and twist as new information is divulged, now that he is in late middle age, are a fascinating commentary on how anyone's history (whether that of a nation or an individual) is plastic and malleable based on viewpoint and the unreliable nature of memory. Along the way, Webster shares other musings about life, about the human condition.

Some of these musings just make you want to pause and digest. Think back to your own adolescence and tell me if this does not resonate: "In those days, we imagined ourselves as being kept in some kind of holding pen, waiting to be released into our lives. And when that moment came, our lives--and time itself--would speed up. How were we to know that our lives had in any case begun, that some advantage had already been gained, some damage already inflicted? Also, that our release would only be into a larger holding pen, whose boundaries would be at first undiscernible." (p.10). Here again, Webster comments on the tenuous nature of historical accuracy: " desire to ascribe responsibility might be more a reflection of my own cast of mind than a fair analysis of what happened. That's one of the central problems of history...The question of subjective versus objective interpretation, the fact that we need to know the history of the historian in order to understand the version that is being put in front of us." (p. 13) I admit, I marked a lot of interesting passages to which I mean to return.

Perhaps I am something of a naif, but I absolutely didn't see the ending coming. I was quite surprised at how the pieces all fit together. I have heard that the mark of a good book is when it lingers in your mind. This one certainly has done that.

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