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    by Kay S | Oct 06, 2017
    Yes, my little cowpokes, it's time for a few upcoming releases which will be out between September 15 and October 14, 2017. I'm hearing good things about them. And, remember this is the date they will be released not the date they will be on library shelves.
    Historical Romance
    Katherine Ashe Katherine Ashe
    The Duke
    Devil's Duke series
    September 26
    Kerrigan Byrne Kerrigan Byrne
    The Scot Beds His Wife
    Victorian Rebels series
    October 3
    KJ Charles K.J. Charles
    An Unsuitable Heir
    Sins of the Cities series
    October 3
    Sara Portman Sara Portman
    The Reunion
    Brides of Beadwell series
    September 26

    Historical Fiction

    Juliana Gray Juliana Gray
    A Strange Scottish Shore
    Emmaline Trueline series
    September 19
    Sophfronia Scott Sophfronia Scott
    Unforgivable Love
    September 29
    Susan Scott Susan Holloway Scott
    I, Eliza Hamilton
    September 26

    Contemporary Romance/Mainstream Fiction/Women's Fiction

    Kate Angell Kate Angell
    No Time to Explain
    Barefoot William Beach series
    Contemporary Romance
    September 26
    Emanuel Bergmann Emanuel Bergmann
    The Trick
    Mainstream Fiction
    September 19
    Samantha Chase Samantha Chase
    Holiday Spice
    The Shaughnessy Brothers
    Contemporary Romance
    October 3
    Colleen Hoover Colleen Hoover
    Without Merit
    October 3
    Susan Mallery Susan Mallery
    Second Chance Girl
    Happily Inc series
    Contemporary Romance
    September 26
    Jenn McKinlay Jean McKinlay
    Barking up the Wrong Tree
    A Bluff Point Romance series
    Contemporary Romance
    September 26
    Kelly Moran Kelly Moran
    New Tricks
    Redwood Ridge series
    Contemporary Romance
    September 26
    Jill shavis Jill Shalvis
    Chasing Christmas Eve
    A Heartbreaker Bay Novel series
    Contemporary Romance
    September 26
    Danielle Steel Danielle Steel
    Contemporary Romance
    October 10

    Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Romantic Suspense

    Suzanne Chazin Suzanne Chazin
    A Place in the Wind
    A Jimmy Vega Mystery series
    September 26
    Tess Diamond Tess Diamond
    Such a Pretty Girl
    Romantic Suspense
    September 26
    Jeanne Kalogridis
    Jeanne Kalogridis
    The Orphan of Florence
    October 3
    Anne Perry Anne Perry
    An Echo of Murder
    William Monk series
    September 19
    Joyce Tremel Joyce Tremel
    A Room with a Brew
    A Brewing Trouble Mystery series
    October 3

    Paranormal Romance/Fantasy/Science Fiction/Urban Fantasy

    Ben Aaronovich Ben Aaronovitch
    The Furthest Station
    Peter Grant/Rivers of London series
    September 21
    Amanda Carlson Amanda Carlson
    Danger’s Halo
    Holly Danger series
    Urban Fantasy
    September 18
    Ginn Hale Ginn Hale
    The Long Past
    Science Fiction
    October 3
    Malka Older Malka Older
    Null States
    Centenal Cycle series
    September 19
    Lynsay Sands Lynsay Sands
    Immortally Yours
    An Argeneau Novel series
    Paranormal Romance
    September 26
    Nalini Singh Nalini Singh
    Archangels’ Viper
    A Guild Hunter Novel series
    Paranormal Romance
    September 26

    Young Adults/Teens

    Kendare Blake Kendare Blake
    One Dark Throne
    Three Dark Crowns sequel
    September 19
    Nnedi Okorafor Nnedi Okorafor
    Akata Warrior
    Akata Witch series
    October 3
    Margaret Rogerson Margaret Rogerson
    An Enchantment of Ravens
    September 26
    Maggie Stiefvator Maggie Stiefvater
    All the Crooked Saints
    October 10

    Inspirational Romance/Mainstream Fiction

    Irene Hannon Irene Hannon
    Dangerous Illusions
    Code of Honor series
    October 3
    Joanna Politano Joanna Davidson Politano
    Lady Jayne Disappears, debut
    October 3
    Bethany turner Bethany Turner
    The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck
    October 3

    kayKay is an avid reader of historical romance books, maybe with a little trip into paranormal land and an occasional journey into mystery world.
    by Katie B. | Oct 05, 2017
    Zebra Eel

    This month's featured inhabitants of the Children's Services aquariums are the zebra moray eels.  We have two of these beautiful fish in our rescue tank. Yes, they are fish, not snakes like so many of our younger visitors like to call them. Moray eels are actually not true eels because they do not have fins along their bodies (think Flotsam and Jetsam from The Little Mermaid animated film). Moray eels are considered eel-shaped fish. They are also one of the few types of fish that can swim backwards. This is a very handy skill for a fish that prefers to hide. 

    Because they are so adept at squeezing into tight spaces, they have been found in the wild working in tandem with grouper fish. Zebra morays are enlisted by groupers to flush out crustaceans, sea urchins, and mollusks from small spaces and then both species will share the food. This is a rare example of cooperative hunting among different species of fish.

    Zebra moray eels have some pretty serious teeth, too. Once an eel bites down on something with its jaws, it can be a little tricky to get them to release whatever it is they caught. If you are lucky enough to be around during feeding time (which is also the best time to really see our eels swimming about), you will notice that they are always fed with a feeding stick. It's a clever device that allows us to bring the food right to the eel without worrying about getting bitten.
    Hidden Eels
    Don't worry our eels are not trapped! They like to rearrange the tank to make better hiding spots. Zebra morays are shy creatures.  They feel much more comfortable when they have a good place to hide.  So don’t be alarmed if you notice some of their tank decorations tipped over, they have done it on purpose.

                       Going for a Sea Bath
    My book recommendation this month, Going for a Sea Bath by Andree Poulin, features true eels (you will notice they have fins along their sides) instead of zebra moray eels. It is a quirky counting story that features all kinds of interesting sea creatures!  Little ones will have fun trying to find and count all of the animals as they get added to the bathtub.

    by Emily M | Oct 04, 2017
    Looking for a book recommendation?  Look no further!  Here are a few good books I've enjoyed recently.

    apieceoftheworldBook Review:
    A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline

    Andrew Wyeth, a realist painter, was one of the most famous American artists of the mid-twentieth century.  Christina Olson was a woman of limited education and means, with a debilitating disability, who lived her entire life in the same remote farmhouse in Maine.  Christina also served as muse for many of Wyeth’s paintings, including his most famous, Christina’s World.  This is her story.

    Christina Olson was born into a farming and fishing family in Maine.  From a young age, she began to suffer from a loss of muscle control in her limbs.  By the time she was in her thirties, she had lost the ability to walk.  Forsaking the use of a wheelchair, she instead used her arms to drag herself around the farm where she lived with her brother Al, who dedicated himself to the farm and her care, while she attended to as many household tasks as she could.  Though her image has been made famous through Wyeth’s works, little is known about her thoughts, feelings, hopes, and dreams. 

    In A Piece of the World Kline uses a first-person point of view to explore a fictional account of who Christina was and the events that shaped her life.  Kline imagines the elusive Christina as someone with great dignity and perseverance, but who could also be quite stubborn and selfish.  A somber, melancholy mood permeates the book, and, appropriately, seems to embody the same mood and feel as Wyeth’s works. 

    strangersBook Review: Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Coming Home by Amy Dickinson

    Amy Dickinson is more commonly known as “Dear Amy,” the author of the nationally syndicated advice column read by millions of Americans in their daily newspapers.  Strangers Tend to Tell Me things is her second memoir, and picks up where the first left off.  (Don’t worry if you haven’t read the first one; it’s not necessary to understand the second.)  After living in London, D.C., and Chicago, with her daughter headed off the college, Amy returns to her hometown in upstate New York, a tiny village of 500, where she embarks on courting an old childhood acquaintance, blending two families when their courtship ends in marriage, and caring for her aging parents.  With incredible heart and humor, Amy takes her readers along with her on a journey through the challenges and triumphs of an ordinary life.

    thewomeninthecastleBook Review: The Women in the Castle: A Novel by Jessica Shattuck

    In Germany in 1938, Marianne von Lingenfels is an educated, no-nonsense woman, wife to her idealistic husband, and mother of three small children.  While hosting the annual harvest festival at the medieval castle owned by her husband’s family, she enters her husband’s study where she finds her husband and several other men discussing a plot to assassinate Hitler.  When Marianne voices her support, one of the men appoints her “commander of women and children,” tasked with the job of protecting them from the consequences of their husbands’ and fathers’ actions.

    Fast forward to 1945 – the plot to assassinate Hitler has failed, the men involved have all been executed, and the war is finally over.  Taking her responsibility seriously, Marianne sets out in search of the wives and children of the executed men.  She manages to find two of the wives, and brings them and their children back to the castle, where she does her best to care and provide for the women and children.  Over the next several years, and for decades to come, the lives of these families will be continually intertwined, their actions affecting not only themselves, but each other in ways they never could have dreamt.  

    The Women in the Castle is immediately engrossing, and an excellent exploration of the effects of Hitler’s regime on ordinary Germans.

    EmilyLong before becoming a librarian, Emily was an avid library patron. She enjoys reading fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, biographies, and classic children’s literature. Her favorite book is Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.


    by Dawn S | Oct 03, 2017

    I first heard of the kids’ artist Red Yarn (aka Andy Furgeson) last fall. His album Wake Up and Sing was such a treat!

    cover image for born in the deep woods

    Today, let me tell you about his newest CD Born in the Deep Woods. It’s another folksy collection of nature themed songs just perfect for the coming days of cooler weather and colorful trees. I loved the combination of traditional tunes with acoustic guitar and banjo, along with more rocky tunes, all tied together with lyrics you’d expect from an album about the ‘deep woods’. There are rabbits, opossums, turtle doves, black snakes, moths, and many other critters featured in these songs, not always behaving as modern fictional wildlife do. Some of the traditional songs reminded me of the original fairy tales where some characters come to violent ends. All in all, however, this is certain to entertain any family that loves the deep woods and great music.

    by Craig B | Oct 02, 2017

    cover of Norman MacLean's book, A River Runs Through It and Other StoriesBook Review: Norman MacLean's near-winner of the 1977 Pulitzer Prize, A River Runs Through It, and Other Stories

    This novella and the two shorter stories that go with it confused me a little.  "A River Runs Through It" is arguably much better by itself; the other two stories read more like genre fiction, even though they are elegantly told, and a certain poker game scene made me chuckle several times (I finished it on the ride home from church and I think my wife was concerned for my sanity).  I’m just not sure this all hangs together as a book.  With the shift in tone from the tragic, deeply personal nature of "A River Runs Through It", to the shenanigans of the U.S. Forest Service, not to mention the fact that the last two stories predate the first one resulting in some anticlimacticism, I can perhaps see why MacLean’s book is only a near-Pulitzer.

    Then again, perhaps my interpretation of MacLean’s novel as a clumsy assortment of narratives is missing the point.  MacLean does seem to have had a strong streak of the historian in him, and as a poet influenced by a poet/historian (he taught Shakespeare at the University of Chicago and every year told himself, “You better teach this (guy) so you don't forget what great writing is like”), it seems reasonable for MacLean to be interested in elevating his couple of informational narrative romps that verge on poetic to something more than just genre fiction, while also understanding that their force as historical documents cannot be compromised.  That combination of poetry and pragmatism could actually be read as gutsy, even “cutting-edge,” and so any dismissiveness you hear in my intonation of the phrase “genre fiction” may be a mistake on my part. Either way, I don’t really care, because the novella that is "A River Runs Through It" is so beautiful it outshines any real failing the overall book has. 

    Look, I hate to fish, at least that’s my memory of it as a kid, I don’t really swim, and the beach can make me crazy, but this story’s engagement with fly-fishing, this thing I don’t really like and don’t understand, is so powerful and its embodiment of the story’s central theme about how someone can love something they don’t understand is so apt, I now feel emboldened to declare, “I love fly fishing.”  See, my life has been changed! Not just because I enjoy pseudo-pretentious, semi-facetious, self-referential (and often self-effacing) communications, but also because I have learned yet another application of the oft-used phrase, “I love …!”  However, if I choose to employ this phrase about fly-fishing, enabling me to launch into a detailed explanation of what I mean and the literary merit of MacLean’s novella, I should probably not open a conversation with this.  I mean, first impressions can be dire, and if my audience has not yet learned to “love” me the misunderstanding a conversation like this could engender could end any real hope for a friendship … kind of like MacLean’s book.  He didn’t win a Pulitzer but would he have if he had re-ordered his stories and made a different first impression, if he had led with the jokiness of "USFS 1919" and built up to the doomed athleticism and artistry of a brother’s fly fishing?  Again, not a good conversation opener for most interactions, but perhaps something still worth batting around among very good friends.

    by Cindy H | Sep 29, 2017
    Do you have a secret desire to be a rock star? Do you have a song in your heart that is yearning to get out? Would you enjoy watching your friends, family, and neighbors perform songs while eating delicious snacks? If so, then the Aboite Branch's new all-ages program, the Super Awesome Karaoke Party, is for you! This program begins October 21st from 2-4pm and will be offered the 3rd Saturday of each month. Our new karaoke machine connects to YouTube, so an unlimited number of popular karaoke songs are at your disposal.

    Disclaimer: Must be prepared for fantastic fun in an extremely encouraging and judgment-free environment.

    Questions? Contact Cindy Harter, Youth Librarian at the Aboite Branch. 260-421-1310
    by Kay S | Sep 29, 2017
    Sometimes when you go digging through the dust and cobwebs of the past, all that happens is a sneeze. But other times you find a forgotten treasure and you say to yourself -- now I know why this author is still around.

    Book Review: 
    The Spinster and the Rake by Anne Stuart.

    The Spinster and the Rake
    by Anne Stuart, 1982.  Written in 1982 by then fledgling author Anne Stuart, The Spinster and the Rake is considered a traditional Regency 1531931romance, but this is much more than just traditional. This book has the beginning of Anne Stuart’s powerful voice and one of her manly-men-dark-heroes which she is known for, (though not as dark as her later ones). While nothing can compare to my favorite Anne Stuart book, The House Party, this one comes pretty close. This is a relatively short book, clocking in at 194 pages. But when the writer is Anne Stuart, you don’t notice the length of the story. You just sit back and enjoy it. Both The House Party and The Spinster and the Rake have recently been reissued electronically.

    Plot, plot, plot. What’s the plot? We can make this really short. Gillian Redford is a thirty-year old spinster who is happy to spend her life going from one of her siblings’ houses to another. While her family takes advantage of her, she is also a favorite of her nieces and nephews. She is not a martyr; she is in control of her life and she doesn’t take too much guff from her siblings. Then we have Ronan Blakley, Marquis of Herrington, and he is one of Anne Stuart’s typical rakes. And, when I say he’s an Anne Stuart rake, I mean he is a real rake, not a pretend rake who is really a good guy in disguise. Well, one rainy evening Ronan and his drunk friend Vivien Peacock rescue Gillian from a carriage wreck. From that moment on, this book is filled with delightful banter, great farce, and occasional deep thoughts.

    9781611947090_p0_v1_s192x300There is also a cute secondary romance thrown in and numerous other little plots -- revenge, wagers, seduction.

    This was a delightful little package which had a mature couple in the center of all the shenanigans which went on around them. If I had any quibble, it was there wasn’t enough of Ronan’s brain-think. Even with that I highly recommend this story -- it has aged well.

    kayKay is an avid reader of historical romance books, maybe with a little trip into paranormal land and an occasional journey into mystery world.
    by Dawn S | Sep 28, 2017
    Here are some great new picture books. Enjoy!

    cover image for red yellow blue and a dash of white too
    cover image for next year
      cover image for maurice the unbeastly
    cover image for rock a bye baby
    cover image for the book of gold
    cover image for baabwaa and wooliam
    cover image for the world's biggest fart
     cover image for lovely
    cover image for the bad seed
    by Megan B | Sep 28, 2017

    Philip GulleyOn October 12, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. popular Indiana author, Philip Gulley, will be visiting the Main Library. Mr. Gulley is the author of several humorous, lighthearted and relatable books in the Harmony series that chronicle life in the eccentric Quaker community of Harmony, Indiana.

    His new series entitled Hope includes popular titles A Place Called Hope, A Lesson in Hope, and A Gathering in Hope. He has also written a memoir, based upon his small town upbringing, entitled I Love You, Miss Huddleston: And Other Inappropriate Longings of My Indiana Childhood. It was recognized as an Indiana Book of the Year, and was a semi-finalist for the James Thurber Prize for American Humor.

    Mr. Gulley has also written several books of theology, has served as a Quaker minister for thirty years, hosted the television program Porch Talk with Phil Gulley, writes the popular monthly Home Again column for Indianapolis Monthly and is a regular contributor to The Saturday Evening Post.

    Please mark your calendars and join us for a fun, relaxing afternoon with Mr. Gulley.

    by Megan B | Sep 28, 2017

    Jamie Ford and book cover

    Join us at the Main Library on Friday, October 13, 2017 at 6:00 p.m. to hear New York Times best-selling author Jamie Ford discuss his newest novel, Love and Other Consolation Prizes.  For anyone who enjoyed Mr. Ford’s best-selling novel Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, this is an invaluable opportunity to hear him discuss his powerful new novel set against the backdrop of the 1909 Seattle World’s Fair.  The novel sheds light on a lesser known moment in history when a young boy, who is half-Chinese, is raffled off as a prize.  The story follows his life, love, and ultimate return to the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962.  

    The novel has been described as “beautifully crafted,” “big-hearted,” and “irresistibly magnificent.”  Please mark your calendars and join us for a lovely “after hours” evening that includes a meet and greet as well as a book signing with the author.

    by Audio Reading Service | Sep 27, 2017
    volunteer at ars

    Enjoy reading aloud and empowering others? Volunteer Micki Cooney does!

    "I like volunteering at the Audio Reading Service because not only am I helping people connect to their world, but I'm also making lasting and meaningful connections with other readers from my community for myself. And, the staff there are a wonderful group of funny, talented, kind, and generous people whom I find great pleasure being around!"  

    Micki Cooney

    The Audio Reading Service broadcasts the live reading of both Fort Wayne daily newspapers and the recorded reading of over 40 other publications such as Prevention, The New Yorker and Consumer Reports. Micki reads People magazine.

    This service is provided by the Allen County Public Library at no cost for people who have visual, physical, learning or language challenges to reading traditional print. It provides a means for listeners to stay connected to and included in the community, and improves their quality of life.

    If your skills and passions match our needs, we’d love to have you join our team of volunteers! An interview and audition is required.

    Click here to begin the process of becoming an Audio Reading Service volunteer.

    by Becky C | Sep 27, 2017
    Banned Books warning label courtesy of quirkbooks

    Banned Books Week 2017

    What are banned books?  In short, a banned book is something that someone, at some time, for some reason, decided you shouldn't read . . . ever. 

    Why do librarians love banned books so much?  We cherish everyone's right to read whatever they want to read. 

    Those are the short and simple answers.  Life is rarely simple, however.  Here's a look at some of the best posts As You Like It writers have published over the years, addressing the touchy issue of censorship.

    Reading is your choice. 
    Originally posted September 22, 2014.  Evan explores the reasons why libraries celebrate Banned Books Week.

    Celebrate your freedom to read freely
    Originally posted October 7, 2012.  Becky C shares a video from Bookman's which features individuals reading inspiring lines from frequently challenged books.

    Don't take the freedom to read for granted. 
    Originally posted October 1, 2012.  Evan shares his perspective of our freedom to read in the context of current events.

    All generalism aside, here's a look at specific banned books that we've read -- and why we love them.

    Challenged Books that have stayed with me. 
    Originally posted September 23, 2014.  Carol C gives us mini-reviews of A Wrinkle in Time, To Kill a Mockingbird, 1984, Slaughterhouse Five, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, The Lord of the Rings, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Catch 22, Harry Potter, and The Hunger Games trilogy.

    Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt VonnegutOriginally posted October 2, 2012.  Cheryl M considers how Vonnegut's real-life experience as a POW during WWII led to writing this frequently challenged novel.

    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    .  Originally posted October 4, 2012.  Becky C declares her love for Atticus Finch in this review.  Beyond that, she considers the various objections to this title -- and why the offending details are necessary to the story.

    Ulysses by James Joyce.
      Originally posted September 26, 2014.  David W considers this frequently challenged book one of the most "well crafted, beautiful, and important texts in western literature." That said, he focuses on the legal challenges this novel faced and why censorship is a slippery slope.

    Becky CBecky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her favorite books are The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz and The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman..
    by Cindy H | Sep 26, 2017
    Do you have a secret desire to be a rock star? Do you have a song in your heart that is yearning to get out? Would you enjoy watching your friends, family, and neighbors perform songs while eating delicious snacks?
    If so, then the Aboite Branch's new all-ages program, the Super Awesome Karaoke Party, is for you! This program begins October 21st from 2-4pm and will be offered the 3rd Saturday of each month. Our new karaoke machine connects to YouTube, so an unlimited number of popular karaoke songs are at your disposal.

    Disclaimer: Must be prepared for fantastic fun in an extremely encouraging and judgment-free environment.

    Questions? Contact Cindy Harter, Youth Librarian at the Aboite Branch. 260-421-1310
    by Evan | Sep 26, 2017
    In days of yore, board games about history or geography existed mainly to a) teach children the prevailing facts and fallacies, b) entertain those children and c) be pretty. What kaiser kinder could resist a game that looked like Deutschland's Kolonien-spiel did?

    Kaiser's colonies game

    That's from 1890, but as late as 1960 I was reveling in a childish American game called Pirate and Traveler that inspired wonder about geography, even if the art was no longer so elegant. A generation later, however, British game designers started reaching out to adults with such grand -- and very long -- games as Civilization (about the ancient Mediterranean world) and History of the World. 

    The Germans -- longtime lovers of family board games -- quickly outflanked the Anglophones with a tsunami of excellent shorter geography/history games for adults and older children. Tigris and Euphrates looks back 5,000 years and entraps you in its religious and political subtleties. El Grande employs a map of late-medieval Spain to stage a dance of competing courtiers. Amun-Re divides the ancient Nile Valley into 15 regions of shifting value for pyramid builders. 

    An Anglo-American designer, Alan Moon, upped the stakes further with Ticket to Ride, which appeals to adults and pre-teen children -- probably in the millions by now. The original game is set in North America, but I suspect you can place your colored trains on maps of 20 different parts of the world today.   

    My family's current favorite game is Terraforming Mars, which came out last year. The original game is played on a map of part of the Red Planet. We bought an expansion that adds two game boards with different areas of the Martian terrain. Geek glee ensued. 

    Can you actually learn real history or geography from such games? Yes, if the game is well done. Not long ago I was so inspired by playing Brass, a superb game about 18th century western England, that I used Google Maps to see whether any of the canals on the game board still exist. The plain Brass game map can't compete with the colorful one from Deutschland's Kolonon-spiel, but Britain's Industrial Revolution lasted far longer than did the German Empire. And the canals are still there.

    EvanEvan - Married, three children, two grandchildren, formerly a newspaper journalist, now a public librarian, at all times a board game nut.
    by sm | Sep 25, 2017

    The books listed here are some more new teen science-fiction novels to enjoy as Fall begins...


    by Becky C | Sep 25, 2017

    Frequently Challenged Books

    Banned Books Week 2017

    Another Banned Books Week is upon us. While it sounds like we're celebrating something illegal, we're not. Banned Books Week was created to celebrate our freedom to read what we want to read.  Every year, the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom compiles a list of the top ten most frequently challenged books -- books that people have attempted to have removed from a bookstore or library.  Many books are challenged in the interests of protecting children.

    Anyone who works in a library has had a conversation about why it's important to maintain a well-rounded selection of books in the collection, even if some of those titles are controversial (for whatever reasons).  We're all in agreement that we want what's best for kids -- but what's best for my kids may not be best for your kids, and vice versa.  And that is why most libraries prefer to leave the book on the shelf and the parenting to the parent. 

    As a parent of three young children myself, I appreciate the variety of books available in the children's and teen departments. It is possible that my kids will encounter something that exposes them to a different set of beliefs/values than we have at home.  I'm okay with that.  Every day, my kids remind me that they are full of questions about the world around them.  It can be exhausting at times, sure, but I am thankful for their curiosity.  When they read something that differs from their background, they ask questions, and this opens the door to some amazing conversations.  (The same thing happens when they overhear something on the playground or on the school bus.)   

    That said, there are times that I have told my children that they need to wait a bit for a certain title.  While I want them to explore their curiosity, I am also aware of their individual comprehension/readiness levels.  Each kid is different -- at least in our house, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the age when someone is ready for the same book.

    Among my deepest hopes for my children are that they are open to self-examination, that they feel and demonstrate compassion for others, and that they grow into adults who are able to consider a variety of perspectives and determine for themselves what feels right.  And finally, I hope that having determined what feels right for them, when their children ask "why", I want them to feel comfortable having that conversation.

    Becky CBecky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her favorite books are The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz and The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman..
    by Kayla W. | Sep 22, 2017

    A few years ago, Disney made a gamble on a show that, by all accounts, seems as though it more bears the hallmarks of a Cartoon Network show than a Disney product.  Coming from a spirit of curiosity and with a little bit of love for the scary, Gravity Falls is a little show with a big imagination and an even bigger heart that deserves to be seen by children and adults alike.  Oh, and it happens to be absolutely hilarious.
    cover image for gravity falls tv show dvd

    You may have already heard of this strange little hit show by now; it is practically an institution that plays to a cult crowd of grown-ups who collect the memorabilia from the show like it’s gold.   It is still very much loved, in spite of it being off the air for over a year, and from what I have seen it has only grown larger in popularity and continues to expand its audience with time.   Don’t let all of the grown-ups who have a real love for the charm and humor of the show discourage you, however.  This is, in my opinion, one of the best shows made for children to come out in the last decade.

    The first reason why you will see that it has earned the love of both children and grown-up children alike is that it does not talk down to its audience, but also does not reach for shock value that would destroy the surprisingly gentle underlying theme of family, friendship, and community in it.  The second reason would be that the show is built around this sense of wonder and community which thrives, in spite of the scary themes and creepy things included in it.   

    To name a few of the creatures that show up, the show features kidnapping gnomes, a miniature golf course which is home to nations of little golf ball people who are at a cold war with one another, and an evil one-eyed pyramid named Bill.  Those things, however, are far from the only creatures that make an appearance in the show!

    The wonderfully memorable and endlessly quotable cast of the show is made up twins Dipper and Mabel Pines, their cheapskate “Grunkle” Stan (he is their Great Uncle), the low-key Wendy Corduroy, the loyal Soos Ramirez, and the rest of the cast is made up of not only the whole town of people who have either grown used to the strangeness of Gravity Falls or who are blissfully ignorant to it, but a whole world of strange and eccentric weirdness.

    Admittedly, a part of the cult appeal can be attributed to how close the show is related to cult darling Rick and Morty, even sharing talent that appeared in that show after Gravity Falls aired (such as Patton Oswald and Adventure Time veteran Justin Roiland).  I would ask that people who are put off by the antics of Rick and Morty should keep in mind that Gravity Falls is, first of all, a children’s show.  It’s one that is perfect for an endlessly curious child who is interested in the weird and is starting to perhaps dip their toes into the scary.  It relies much more on near-perfectly timed comedy and weirdness than on anything relying on shock or something disturbing that would be inappropriate for children.

    The obvious comparison might be Goosebumps, however, the closest real comparison would be to one of my own childhood favorites, Courage the Cowardly Dog, and it is a more fitting comparison with some of the stranger episodes.  One big difference between the two is that where Courage is a pick-up-and-watch type of show, where it does not matter what episode you watch because there IS no real order, Gravity Falls does have an underlying story.  Well, as the episodes go on closer to the end of the first season, the great story behind Gravity Falls starts to make itself known, at least.   It reminds me in many ways of the miniseries, the spookier Over the Garden Wall, which feels almost like they were meant to be viewed together due to the fact that they originally aired in the same year.

    I would also not be giving the show the attention it deserves if I did not mention also that the show is really, truly funny at times, in spite of the instances where I personally rolled my eyes with certain characters’ antics (Soos, Grenda, and Candy could get to be a bit too much for me at times), and it is a beautiful show, taking full advantage of its pacific northwest setting.

    What I personally love about the show is how well it (mostly) perfectly executes its story. The show revolves around Dipper and Mable Pines, who have come to spend their summer with their strange “Grunkle” Stan, who owns an eccentric road attraction known as the Mystery Shack in the forest heart of the Pacific Northwest.  It is located somewhere near the town of Gravity Falls, where the people are as strange and often lovable as their homeland is.  Even the insidious little Gideon Gleeful.

    The idea of spending the summer working in Stan’s roadside attraction is interrupted when Dipper and Mabel discover a mysterious journal that had been kept by an unknown writer who detailed strange creatures and going-ons in the town and the surrounding, breath-taking land and forest.    

    Dipper is instantly attached to the journal, becoming obsessive with discovering the overriding secret behind the strange journal, coming face to face on numerous occasions with odd, hilarious, and oftentimes dangerous things as he searches for what is going on with the town.  He is far from alone in his journey, however, as the story often involves or actively follows the antics his twin sister Mabel causes, and he is oftentimes distracted by his growing adoration of the seemingly clueless and unattainable sole cashier of the Mystery Shack, Wendy.

    In my opinion, the best time to watch the show would be in the height of summer and through mid fall, when the summer in the show itself takes place.

    If you’re wanting to check (most) of the first season out, you can find the show collected in two DVDs, called Gravity Falls: Six Strange Tales and Gravity Falls: Even Stranger. The ACPL owns both of these, so there’s no reason why you can’t check the show out.   At the moment, these two abridged collections of the episodes is the only way that Disney has given the show a physical release, so even though they contain only certain episodes of the first season, it is the best way to see if the show is something for you, short of streaming it through Hulu.

    by Kay S | Sep 22, 2017
    Sometimes when you go digging through the dust and cobwebs of the past, all that happens is a sneeze. But other times you find a forgotten treasure and you say to yourself -- now I know why this author is still around.

    Book Review:  The Famous Heroine by Mary Balogh.

    Another lighthearted story by Mary Balogh -- that's two now.

    I have to say that I didn't find The Famous Heroine as funny as The Black Umbrella -- it has one of my pet peeves in it. The hero just cannot forget that other woman he loved, even when the one in his arms is his perfect match. So, it took me a while to like Francis because he was still mooning over Samantha. By the way, Samantha was the heroine from Lord Carew's Bride. Both books are connected to the Stapleton-Downs stories. Just so you know, Mary Balogh's website has a break-down of all her connected books so you don't get lost. This book was released in 1996 and has been re-released as part of a 2-in-1 book with The Plumed Bonnet.

    Cora Downes is a heroine -- and I mean that in every sense of the way. She saved the young son of a duke from drowning. Now the grandmother of said child is so grateful that she has brought Cora to London as a reward. She thinks that being part of society is a great honor. Here's the thing: Cora is sort of accident prone and the saving of the young boy didn't really happen quite the way everyone thinks. In fact, he didn't really need to be saved, but oh well -- now society has a heroine.

    Cora is not comfortable hanging with the elite people. She doesn't fit in. When she meets our hero, Lord Francis Kneller, she is wearing shoes which are too small because 9349851everyone knows men like women with small feet. But now her feet hurt and she's tripping over everything. Francis saves her from embarrassment and she's ever so grateful. She feels perfectly safe with Francis and she jumps to the conclusion that Francis prefers men. You see Francis wears brightly colored clothes, is sarcastic, and has lots of female friends. She becomes very protective of him, especially when she thinks someone is slighting his character.

    Francis, on the other hand, thinks Cora is amusing. She is just the distraction he needs to get over his boo-hoo heart. He is drawn to her, but that leads to two compromising scenes -- the first one they survive, the second one forces them into wedlock. I liked Cora a lot. She's accident prone and has a habit of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. She is also similar to the heroine from Black Umbrella because she is constantly saving things, or maybe I should say she gets credit for saving things -- poodles, horses, the Prince.

    There is a pretty funny scene when Cora is surprised when Francis actually wants her in bed. They talk circles around each other for a while until it dawns on Francis just what Cora thinks -- pretty amusing. By the way, he doesn't change how he dresses. This is pretty close to being a screw-ball comedy, and I would have liked it so much better if Francis would have stopped the Samantha/Cora comparisons sooner.

    And, once again we have another recommendation for an old Mary Balogh's book.

    kayKay is an avid reader of historical romance books, maybe with a little trip into paranormal land and an occasional journey into mystery world.
    by Cindy H | Sep 20, 2017
    Blossom is a possum. She loves to make Glitter Glam headbands, jam on her flute, and recite poetry by heart. If anyone asks her to do any of those things in public, however, she freezes up and covers her face; she is scared people will make fun of her. She begins to realize, though, that when her other classmates do things like play a solo in music class, or answer a teacher's question, that even if they make a mistake everything seems to be okay. Slowly, she begins opening up more. She raises her hand in class, reads at the library poetry slam, and sings out loud. Although some things are still a little too scary, she is proud of herself for the times she tries.

    Blossom Plays Possum (Because She's Shy)
    , written by Birdy Jones and illustrated by Janet McDonnell, is a very sweet book. As a shy person, I could definitely relate to Blossom. Describing how she "plays possum" whenever she gets embarrassed or scared is a perfect way to describe how shy children (and older people!) sometimes feel. At the end of the book there are tips for parents and caregivers on how to empathize with and help your shy little one break out of their shell. Perhaps after reading this book, you could try some of the techniques, such as practicing for situations that make your child nervous at home first, before attempting it at school. The most important thing is to be patient and understanding about how difficult certain situations can be for them, and to be a good role-model and supporter so they know they always have someone looking out for them.

    This picture book is recommended for children ages 4-8. It is available in print at the library. Click the picture of the book's cover to place on hold!
    by sm | Sep 19, 2017

    The books listed here are some new teen science-fiction novels to enjoy as Summer fades into Fall...



    Scott M
    Scott M, Editor - Scott is known around Shawnee Branch and about town as the “Library Dude” and is kind of squirrelly!  His favorite short story is Leaf by Niggle written by JRR Tolkien and he also works for chocolate brownies and Rice-Crispy treats!