Full Steam Ahead: Reflections on the Impact of the First Steamboat on the Ohio River, 1811-2011, edited by Rita Kohn 
submitted by Luke

Two hundred years ago, citizens of Louisville awoke to the shrill blasts of the New Orleans, the first steamship to sail the Ohio River. At the time, many waterfront dwellers thought that the great comet of 1811 had fallen to earth and landed in the river. Instead it was the beginning of a brand new way of life for the people of Louisville and the Ohio Valley, one that was driven by steam. This story has been documented in the new book, Full Steam Ahead, edited by Rita Kohn and published by the Indiana Historical Society Press, with support from the Rivers Institute at Hanover College.

It can be argued that the steamboat has had the greatest impact upon the development of Louisville and the greater Ohio Valley than any other innovation of the past two hundred years. This collection chronicles this impact, exploring the rise and development of river boats, river life, and river culture over the past two centuries. Several local authors have contributed to this book, including Rick Bell, who wrote “The Era of Town Building Below the Falls,” a history of the development of Portland, Shippingport, and the Louisville-Portland Canal. Two Portland residents are included in this volume, Jack E. Custer, who wrote the article “A Synoptic History of Towboating and Its Origins,” and Susan M. Custer, who wrote “Steamboat Music.” Other articles include a discussion of the impact of the steam ship on black urban life in the Ohio Valley. Another article focuses on the effects that paddle boats had on the colonization of the area, as it opened up the lower Ohio Valley and the western territories to a far greater number of settlers and immigrants.

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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.” - http://www.amazon.com/Echo-Complete-Ter ... 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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