All the Hoopla About “Hoopla” – It’s True!


Have you guys all heard the hoopla about Hoopla yet?  No matter how much I try (and how much I pride myself) on keeping up with the latest in online apps and technology, it seems that I’m surprised at least once a month by something that rocks my limited little world.  It happened today when I was browsing my library’s website in search of a Michael Dirda book I’d seen referenced elsewhere earlier this morning.  All of a sudden, I notice a little icon next to the book title that said simply “Download.”

Well, who could resist pushing that to see what might happen.  You mean no waiting lines of several weeks is involved…well, sign me up.

Unfortunately/fortunately, nothing much happened – or so I thought.  I was redirected to something called and told that I could check out this particular audiobook immediately – and get this, seven more items this month – if I just got off my butt and signed up via my library name and card number.  I did that, and less than five minutes later I was listening to  Browsings by Michael Dirda.

1605988448-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_(The best part is that I started listening on my PC but couldn’t listen for long because I had to run an errand by noon.  I found the Hoopla app for my iPhone, downloaded it, and signed on to the site via the new app.  And, because the app remembered exactly where I had left off the audiobook on my PC, I was able to listen to it, via a bluetooth hookup to my car radio, the whole time I was on the road.  Yes, I LOVE Hoopla.)

But wait, because it gets even better.  Not only are audiobooks available; there are e-books, movies, music, comics, and television shows just waiting for you.  Now granted, there aren’t a ton of titles, but there are some relatively popular ones waiting to be snapped up before Hoopla pulls them from the virtual stacks.  For instance, there are audiobooks like Go Set a Watchman, Girl on a Train, A Man Called Ove, and American Gods; movies like The Giver, St. Vincent, and Parkland; e-books like Crazy Horse and Custer and Toddlers Are A**holes; comics like Saga, Suicide Squad, and Yuge; music like Hamilton, Suicide Squad, and Monkees 50; and television shows like Inspector Lewis, The Librarians, and Small Island. 

How are you going to beat that?

So if this is new to you, do check with your local library system to see if your library card grants you the keys to this treasure chest. You may be as pleasantly surprised as I was…and if not, why didn’t one of you tell me about this?

The Bronx Kill

The Bronx Kill is my first experience with a graphic novel and, frankly, I had no idea it was presented in that format when I ordered it. However, despite the surprise (I was unfamiliar with the Vertigo Crime imprint) about the book’s format, I found it to be an interesting reading experience and do not regret my mistake. After all, most boys of my generation honed their reading skills on the comic books of the day, and The Bronx Kill is pretty much a dark comic book for adults, a nostalgic reminder of those hundreds of comics I read as a kid.

Martin Keane, an insecure novelist, is battling the sophomore jinx. His second novel has been universally trashed by the critics and he is taking it personally. Even Erin, his wife, finally admits that she found the book to be slow and that while reading it she kept wishing he would just “get to the point.” Keane men, since the time of Martin’s great-grandfather have been cops, and Martin’s decision to be a writer instead of a cop has already ruined his relationship with his father. The last thing he needs now is to fail at the job by which he defines his whole world.

Martin, knowing that his third book has to be something completely different from his last, decides that his family’s tragic history has the makings of a good historical thriller. What he learns while researching his family history in Ireland for four months convinces him that he is right. But when his wife disappears one night after reading a few pages of the new manuscript, Martin finds himself eerily reliving the details of his own family history – and the pages of his new novel.

I suspect that most readers of The Bronx Kill will figure out where the book is heading long before Martin solves the mystery of his wife’s disappearance but that is not a big problem. The book’s strong suit is the dark, other worldly, mood it creates, a combination of the noir fiction of the 1940s and the best pulp fiction of earlier decades. James Romberger contributes much of that mood through his black and white illustrations, especially those set in the Bronx Kill area, a nasty, isolated patch of the inner city key to Keane family history.

Overall, The Bronx Kill succeeds in telling its complicated story with a minimum of words, but graphic novels leave little space for character development, and I found this to be a hard-to-overcome handicap. As I said earlier, since this is my first graphic novel, I am unable to compare The Bronx Kill to other novels of its type. However, I can say that, because of reading this one, I am more likely to pick up other graphic novels in the future – and that surprises me.

Rated at: 3.0

(review copy provided by publisher)