Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What Do Tomatoes, Vampires, Pixies, and Princesses Have in Common?

If you are a fan of urban fantasy writer Kim Harrison, you surely know the answer. If you haven’t yet discovered Harrison’s writing, you might want to head to the East Side Library on Tuesday, March 1 at 6:30 PM to find out.

Author of The New York Times bestseller Black Magic Sanction, Harrison will stop by on tour for her newest book, Pale Demon. It’s the story of what happens when an elf, a pixie, a living vampire and a witch who dabbles in black magic are forced to travel 2300 miles cross-country (in three days or less), jammed into an ‘89 blue Buick. Harrison is one of the leading voices in urban fantasy with more than 2.5 million copies currently in print.

Fantasy readers may be more familiar with Harrison’s writings under the pen name of Dawn Cook, where she is known for her Decoy Princess and Truth series, published in the first few years of the 21st century. As Kim Harrison, she is best known for her Rachel Morgan urban fantasy series set in an alternate history where a worldwide pandemic caused by genetically modified tomatoes led to the death of a large portion of the world's human population. In 2008, Harrison was described by HarperCollins Voyager Publishing Director Jane Johnson as the best example of the urban fantasy sub-genre which she described as, "the supernatural erupting into the everyday—sexy, tongue-in-cheek, postmodern.”

The bio on her web site says, “Kim Harrison was born and raised in the upper Midwest. After gaining a Bachelor degree in the sciences, she moved to South Carolina, where she remained until recently moving back to Michigan because she missed the snow. She's currently developing a young adult series between working on the Hollows books and a Hollows-based graphic novel. Harrison and is a member of both the Romance Writers of America and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. When not at her desk, she's most likely to be found landscaping her new/old Victorian home, or scouring antique shops to fill it.”

According to Kim's blog, she was “the only girl in a large family of boys and invented the first Brigadier General Barbie in self-defense.” She notes that she “shoots a very bad game of pool and rolls a very good game of dice. When not at her keyboard, she enjoys lounging on the couch with a bowl of popcorn watching action movies with The-Guy-In-The-Leather-Jacket. She plays her Ashiko drum when no one is listening, and is hard to find when the moon is new.”

I can’t wait to meet her!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Over the Top -- Reading a Book!

Julian Smith may not be the ideal library customer, but you do have to love his passion for reading! Saw this on another "reader's" blog and just had to share it with readers here in Des Moines, in celebration of Love Your Library Month. Enjoy this musical video!

P.S. There's still time to enter our Pen, Post, or Tweet contest. Ask for a cool "i love dmpl!" sticker to display on your car window, too!

Conquering Poverty by Climbing Mountains -- Program Tomorrow

Head to the Central Library tomorrow evening at 6:30 PM for a fascinating program called Peak 4 Poverty. The project was featured recently in the Drake University Alumni Magazine.

"As Nabeel Meghji watched the sunrise from the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, he felt the pride of conquering one of the top seven summits in the world and what had been a constant, looming presence during his childhood in Tanzania. He was also remembering the AIDS orphans in his home country; kids who now would have a better chance at life thanks to his efforts.

Nabeel Meghji, a strategist at CDS Global in Des Moines, had always hoped to scale a major summit. Then, when he was struggling to find a way to help bring healing to his home country, he and Iowa native Shayne Huston formed an idea that would allow him to do both simultaneously.

“Growing up in Tanzania, the fourth poorest country in the world, I’ve seen a lot of poverty,” says Meghji. “After seeing all of the children orphaned by AIDS and living in poverty, I always felt obliged to give back in some way or another. After much soul searching I decided to climb Kilimanjaro and use the event as an opportunity to raise funds for orphans in Tanzania.”

According to the World Health Organization, more than 15.6 million children under the age of 10 in sub-Sahara Africa have lost at least one parent to AIDS. These orphans are more prone to sickness, malnutrition, illiteracy, unemployment, homelessness and crime, and are also more likely to repeat the cycle and become infected with AIDS themselves.

Meghji and Huston created a Web site and blog, christened this initiative Peaks 4 Poverty and harnessed the power of social media to draw awareness — and solicit donations — to benefit orphans in Tanzania."

Their presentation is free and open to the public. Read the entire article.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Here Comes AViD 2011!

It’s finally time, patient fans of AViD, to announce our lineup of authors--and once again, it’s a stellar group! Their books are also a diverse mix, with fascinating subjects ranging from local issues such as Iowa’s brain drain, to the global challenges of human trafficking in the mountainous regions of Nepal and how a family deals with the aftermath of the tsunami in Thailand.

I'm convinced that there is a sort of serendipity that happens around AViD every year and this year is no exception. We strive to make every year as unique as possible, including the logo design. This year, we considered several designs before deciding to use Iowa’s wild rose for inspiration. Lo and behold, upon reading Anne Lamott’s definitive book on writing, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, I discovered that Anne compared her writing to a poem by Wendell Berry, titled, The Wild Rose. A fitting tribute to our state flower, to writing, and maybe even to AViD, don’t you agree?

Sometimes hidden from me
in daily custom and in trust,
so that I live by you unaware
as by the beating of my heart.
Suddenly you flare in my sight,
a wild rose blooming at the edge
of thicket, grace and light
where yesterday was only shade,
and once again I am blessed, choosing again what I chose before.

Now, here’s our list of the AViD writers that will be "blooming" in Des Moines this year:

Patrick J. Carr, Monday, April 11
7:00 PM, Central Library
Hollowing Out the Middle: the Rural Brain Drain and What It Means for America

In 2001, with funding from the MacArthur Foundation, sociologists Patrick J. Carr and Maria J. Kefalas moved to Iowa to understand the rural brain drain and the exodus of young people from America’s countryside. They met and followed working-class “stayers”; ambitious and college-bound “achievers”; “seekers,” who head off to war to see what the world beyond offers; and “returners,” who eventually circle back to their hometowns. What surprised them most was that adults in the community were playing a pivotal part in a town’s decline by pushing the best and brightest young people to leave.

Anne Lamott, Wednesday, April 13
7:00 PM, Hoyt Sherman Place Theater
Imperfect Birds

Anne Lamott is the author of six novels including, Hard Laughter, Rosie, Joe Jones, All New People, and Crooked Little Heart (the sequel to Rosie), as well as four bestselling books of nonfiction, Operating Instructions, an account of life as a single mother during her son’s first year, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Traveling Mercies, a collection of autobiographical essays on faith, and Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith. Anne Lamott has been honored with a Guggenheim Fellowship, and has taught at UC Davis, as well as at writing conferences across the country.

Rainbow Rowell, Monday, April 18
7:00 PM, Central Library

Rainbow Rowell is a columnist for the Omaha World-Herald and a feature writer for the Living section and Her columns and stories focus on all types of popular culture, including movies, books, music, television, and trends, as well as family and lifestyle issues, all filtered through Rainbow’s unique way of looking at the world. Her first novel, Attachments is a romantic comedy set at a Midwest newspaper.

Robert V. Morris, Monday, April 25
7:00 PM, Central Library
Black Faces of War: A Legacy of Honor from the American Revolution to Today.

Robert V. Morris is an Iowa native, the grandson and son of two decorated army officers. He founded the Fort Des Moines Memorial Park and the WWII Iowa Tuskegee Airmen Memorial at the Des Moines International Airport. His documentary Tradition and Valor was broadcast on Iowa Public Television. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa, has taught journalism at Iowa State University and is a past-president of the NAACP Iowa-Nebraska Conference. His new book, Black Faces of War, honors the men and women of color who have served in the American army

Debbie Macomber, Tuesday, May 10
7:00 PM, Hoyt Sherman Place Theater
A Turn in the Road

With more than 130 million copies of her books in print, Debbie Macomber is one of the world’s most popular authors. A number 1 New York Times bestselling author, she is best known for her ability to create compelling characters and bring their stories to life in her books. Drawing on her own experiences and observations, Debbie writes heartwarming tales about small-town life, home and family, enduring friendships and women who knit and every book features her delightful sense of humor.

Conor Grennan, Tuesday, June 7
7:00 PM, Hoyt Sherman Place Theater
Little Princes

Conor Grennan, author of the memoir Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal, founded Next Generation Nepal, an organization dedicated to reconnecting trafficked children with their families and combating the root causes of child trafficking in rural villages in Nepal. He was based in the capital of Kathmandu, where he was the Executive Director of Next Generation Nepal, until September 2007. Conor now serves on the Board of Next Generation Nepal, together with his wife, Liz.

Dr. Benjamin Beck, Dr. Robert Shumaker, & Dr. Kristina R. Walkup, Wednesday, June 14
7:00 PM, Central Library
Animal Tool Behavior: The Use and Manufacture of Tools by Animals

When published in 1980, Dr. Benjamin B. Beck's, Animal Tool Behavior, was the first volume to capture and analyze the use of tools by animals. Beck showed that animals - from insects to primates - employed different types of tools to solve numerous problems. In a revised and updated edition of the landmark publication, Robert Shumaker and Kristina Walkup join Beck to reveal the current state of knowledge regarding animal tool behavior.

Dr. Beck is the director of conservation at Great Ape Trust. Dr. Shumaker is the vice president of life sciences at the Indianapolis Zoo, the author of Orangutans, and coauthor, with Dr. Beck, of Primates in Question. Dr. Walkup is an adjunct assistant professor at Drake University.

John Shors, Monday, September 12
7:00 PM, Hoyt Sherman Place Theater
Cross Currents (coming in September)

Native Iowan John Shors returns with his fifth novel about a trio of Americans and a local family on an island in Thailand whose personal dramas play out against the tsunami of 2004. John’s first four novels, Beneath a Marble Sky, Beside a Burning Sea, Dragon House, and The Wishing Trees, have won multiple awards, and have been translated into twenty-five languages. He has spent much of his life abroad, traveling in Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, Africa, and North America.

The AViD Author Series is made possible with funding from the Des Moines Public Library Foundation with generous support from Humanities Iowa, Douglas and Deborah West, Iowa History Center at Simpson College, Iowa Council for International Understanding, Jim and Roxanne Conlin, Drake University, John and Patsy Shors, Hoyt Sherman Place Theater, Forest Avenue Library Brick Fund, Meredith Corporation, and the Friends of the East Side Library.

For updates and information about all of the AViD 2011 events, visit the library’s web site.