As You Like It

Literary news, book reviews
and more…   rss-icon 

    by Becky C | Jan 19, 2018
    Ever wonder what library staff like to read?  Wonder no more!  Here's a quick look at some books we've enjoyed this month.  Click on a book cover to check availability — it’s as easy as that!

     Wishtree  Red Rising Jhereg 
     Yendi  What Happened  The Lost Plot
     Midnight Confessions  Freud  Meetings With Remarkable Manuscripts
     The Legends Club  The Woman in the Window  The Ocean at the End of the Lane
     Judges Brief  The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes  The Generals
     PrairyErth  Les Miserables  The End We Start From
     Its All Relative  Lappart  Communicating Better
     Devotions  What Unites Us  On Tyranny
     Golden Hill  Why Bob Dylan Matters  Maisie Dobbs
       Beyond the Bright Sea  

    Want more recommendations?  Click here for previous What We're Reading posts. 

    Please let us know what books you've been reading that you've really enjoyed.  We're always looking for our next great read!

    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 | Jan 17, 2018

    When I saw what a black, awful joke the world was, I went crazy as a coot! I admit it! Why can't you? – The Joker, The Killing Joke

    Batman-The-Killing-Joke-Cover


    Even as a novice Batman connoisseur, I get the impression that storylines involving Bruce Wayne or the Joker’s sanity have been done to death and back.

    I can certainly see the appeal of this storyline, but with perhaps a new point of view and a coat of paint.  However, there’s a reason it’s been used so often that it's gotten pat at this point.  This is a storyline, capable in the right hands, of standing the test of time. 

    It's an elemental tale, a parable with the two rivals on such opposites that they actually come close to touching one another because of how they've wrapped themselves fully around to come almost full circle.    And I don’t think the thin veneer between what separates a hero from their supposed opposite, in the form of their nemesis, has ever been made as clear as it can be made between Batman and the Joker.  To the point where the two can be seen as different sides of the very coin that Harvey Two-face flips. 

    One, the seemingly pristine Dark Knight, the other, the irreparably damaged and deranged parody of what was once a humble, but a nevertheless honorable man.   At the end of the day, what exactly DOES differentiate one from the other?

    Alright, I may be wrong on that point.  I have been semi-keeping up with what is considered to be the high lights of Batman’s stories, so I am by no means a professional Batman “person”, but I have seen this story done worse.  Way worse.  Batman R.I.P is a comic I will never fully understand the appeal of, for example.  It’s also the movie adaptation of The Killing Joke that has, ironically, proven to be a poor representation of its original (keeping the worse aspects of the comic and magnifying them, such as the objectification of Barbara Gordon which has become a bad joke related to the movie).

    In spite of the comic's defects, it is full of personality and color, and it feeds off of its own moral ambiguity, as opposed to drowning you in it.  That is one problem which the hardcore “dark” comics of its era were more inclined to do - point out the unfairness of the world and leave it at that.  The world's terrible and there's no real heroes - doesn't that feel bad?

    This comic's narrative is, at its core, a parable told from Alan Moore at the height of his ability.  What that translates into, however, is a story that feels like much more than what is basically being told, wealth beyond the sum of its parts. 

    The Killing Joke is story of discomforting ambiguity, and the ease for madness to consume a “good” person whole.   Of course, there is a shocking amount of depth that one can easily be lost in below the surface. That is a key reason why the comic is easily re-readable.

    To praise a comic book’s story is sometimes translated as being a backhanded compliment – after all, a good two thirds of the medium that Will Eisner once named the “sequential art” tells its story through illustration (generally).  It would also be unfair to the illustrator, Brian Bolland, who was half of the reason why this comic is as legendary as it is.

    And I am happy to say that this comic has an aesthetic that is sometimes dark, moody, and depressive, and other times it is borderline manic, brightly colored, and downright vicious and viscous.  Bolland is to thank for the comic's unique, disquieting beauty.

    The thing I have always loved about Alan Moore is how thoughtfully he he plans, with his legendarily overly descriptive instructions for what he wants his panels to look like standing as a testament to perfection and precision with character and world building.   To look at these instructions that he leaves for his artists is intense!   The tradeoff with his obsession for detail is that what seems like clutter and quick reactions builds in an intelligent manner that expresses his characters and the world they inhabit in a way I cannot say that any other writer's work has managed to.  A character in their home or place of work is depicted surrounded by the things that most value to them and say something immediate and mindful about their character. 

    By the time something terrible – and abrupt – happens, it can feel like it’s happened to someone that we feel like we know, even in a short period of time.

    So – if it is the “Dark Knight” version of Batman that you’re interested in, may I suggest that you give one of the more groundbreaking comics a chance?  It doesn’t hurt that the ACPL has multiple physical and a digital copies available.

    Kayla loves all things weird, wonderful, and macabre. Her soul’s in writing, and her hobbies include gaming, watching movies and television shows, and reading anything and everything. Her black cat’s TOTALLY, 100%, not evil.
    by Craig B | Jan 15, 2018
    cover for SZA's studio album, CTRL

    I don’t think I really liked this album, CTRL, and yet I do have a fond appreciation for its stripped down, heartbreak vibe.  I guess I wish it could see its way to having a couple of more upbeat tracks, not in tone, just in pace/rhythm, because it’s so sleepy I was getting bored by the end.  That said, it also felt quite definite about doing what it set out to do, and consistency, my friends, is not to be underrated.

    Suggested Use: Did this year solidify a dislike of holiday music within you?  Consider taking this album and some discrete earbuds with you to your next family gathering where some crazy uncle is cranking "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" repeatedly.  CTRL’s low-key musicality and deliberate lyrics should not only allow, but even more, enable you to smile and nod at small children, small talk, and sudden bursts of questionable hilarity.  I mean don’t be rude, but we’ve all got to preserve a little of our own personal space, and there’s nothing quite as personal as another party’s heartbreak.

    by Becky C | Jan 12, 2018
    image-from-dennis-skley-flickr-page0f6e932f9a7c69dab002ff000041e4fb

    How do librarians know what titles are coming out when?  How do we decide which of those titles we'll purchase for the collection?  We have several sources, but Publishers Weekly (PW) is one of my personal favorites.  PW reviews around 9,000 books a year. 

    For this month's post, I've taken the liberty of going through the November issues of Publishers Weekly (PW) and sharing the upcoming releases their reviewers are most excited about.  Each of these titles received a starred review.  We don't have all of these titles in the collection yet -- most are due to hit the shelves in bookstores and libraries next month -- but you can place a hold on your copy now.  Or, if you're like me, and you're typically at the 5 holds per person max, you can keep tabs on your picks a couple of ways.

    My favorite way to keep track of books I want to read is through ACPL's catalog.  Heather wrote an excellent post on how to do this -- click here for the details.  Goodreads and LibraryThing are also options.

    Which of these catches your eye? 


    Fiction coming to the collection January 2018

    Walking the Bones  The Wife Between Us In the Shadow of Agatha Christie 
     The Lady Travelers Guide to Larceny With a Dashing Stranger  The Bachelor Contract  How to Stop Time
     Sunburn  The Graves a Fine and Private Place  Down the River Unto the Sea
     The Bastard Legion  Heart on Fire  I Parrot
     Wild is the Wind  Beneath the Mountain  You Were Never Really Here
     Murder Has a Motive  Gnomon  This Is What Happened
     The Questionable Behavior of Dahlia Moss  Walk in the Fire  Mood Indigo
     Olympus Bound  Tempest  


    Nonfiction coming to the collection January 2018

    The Meaning of Birds  When They Call You a Terrorist  Hawker Fare
     This Will Be My Undoing  Advice Not Given  A False Report
     The Wizard and the Prophet  The Matter of the Heart  


    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 Business, Science & Technology | Jan 10, 2018
    Photo Jan 04, 10 02 49 AM

    As our lives are increasingly impacted by scientific discoveries and technological creations, we find ourselves eager to learn more about how things work, how they affect our lives, and what might happen next.

    Join us at our NEW Science and Technology Book Club on the third Thursday of each month. We meet at the Main Library in the Business, Science & Technology department conference room, from 7:00 to 8:00 pm. Our first meeting will take place on January 18th.

    In January, we'll be reading  "The Telomere Effect" by Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel.  Reserve a copy here: http://bit.ly/2qqEcEk

    This month's book, "The Telomere Effect," will make you reassess how you live your life on a day-to-day basis. It is the first book to explain how we age at a cellular level and how we can make simple changes to keep our chromosomes and cells healthy, allowing us to stay disease-free longer and live more vital and meaningful lives.

    Want to read ahead? Our next meeting will be February 15th. We'll be discussing "The Inner Life of Animals" by Peter Wohlleben. Reserve a copy here: http://bit.ly/2lWhOy1


    by Kay S | Jan 10, 2018
    Time for some upcoming releases which will be hitting the shelves sometime between January 15 and February 14, 2018!  Keep a look-out -- I'm hearing good things about these titles!

    Historical Romance
    Tempest by Beverly Jenkins  Beverly Jenkins
    Tempest
    Old West series
    January 30
     A Devil in Scotland by Suzanne Enoch Suzanne Enoch
    A Devil in Scotland
    No Ordinary Hero series
    January 30
     Beyond Scandal and Desire by Lorraine Heath Lorraine Heath
    Beyond Scandal and Desire
    Sins for All Seasons series
    January 30


    Historical Fiction

    White Chysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht  Mary Lynn Bracht
    White Chrysanthemum
    January 30
     As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner Susan Meissner
    As Bright as Heaven
    February 6


    Contemporary Romance/Mainstream Fiction/Women's Fiction

    I'll Stay by Karen Day  Karen Day
    I'll Stay
    Mainstream Fiction
    January 30
     Kiss me, Sweetheart by Cody Gary Codi Gary
    Kiss Me, Sweetheart
    Something Borrowed series
    Contemporary Romance
    February 13
     Two Man Station by Lisa Henry Lisa Henry
    Two Man Stations
    Contemporary Romance
    January 22


    Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Romantic Suspense

     This Fallen Prey by Kelley Armstrong Kelley Armstrong
    This Fallen Prey
    Casey Duncan series
    January 30 
     Breaking Point by Allison Brennan Allison Brennan
    Breaking Point
    Lucy Kincaid series
    Suspense
     Need to Know by Karen Cleveland Karen Cleveland
    Need to Know
    January 23
     If you knew her by Emily Elgar Emily Elgar
    If You Knew Her
    January 26
     Look for Me by Lisa Gardner Lisa Gardner
    Look for Me
    Detective D.D. Warren series
    Mystery
    February 6
     Clairvoyant and Present Danger by Lisa Gregory Lena Gregory
    Clairvoyant and Present Danger
    A Bay Island Psychic Mystery series
    Mystery
    February 6
     Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt Margot Hunt
    Best Friends Forever
    Suspense
    January 23
     A dangerous crossing by Ausma khan Ausma Zehanat Khan
    A Dangerous Crossing
    Rachel Getty & Esa Khattak series
    February 13
     The Honorable Traitors by John Lutz John Lutz
    The Honorable Traitors
    A Thomas Laker Thriller series
    thriller
    January 30
     Keep Her Safe by KA Tucker K.A. Tucker
    Keep Her Safe
    January 23


    Paranormal Romance/Science Fiction/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

     Aliens Abroad by Gina Koch Gini Koch
    Aliens Abroad
    Alien Novels series
    Paranormal Romance
    February 26
     Gunpowder Moon by David Pedreira David Pedreira
    Gunpowder Moon
    Science Fiction
    February 13
     Cast in Deception by Michelle Sagara Michelle Sagara
    Cast in Deception
    The Chronicles of Elantra series
    Fantasy
    February 23
    ;The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch Tom Sweterlitsch
    The Gone World
    Science Fiction
    February 6


    Young Adult/Teen

    The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert Melissa Albert
    The Hazel Wood
    Debut
    January 30 
    The Belles by Clayton Dhonielle Clayton
    The Belles
    Duology
    February 6
    Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones S. Jae-Jones
    Shadowsong
    Sequel to Wintersong
    February 6
    Say you'll remember me by Katie McGarry Katie McGarry
    Say You'll Remember Me
    January 30
    The Last to Let Go by Amber Smith Amber Smith
    The Last to Let Go
    February 6
    The Dangerous Art of Blending in by Angelo Surmelis Angelo Surmelis
    The Dangerous Art of Blending In Debut
    January 30
    When Light Left Us by Thomas Leah Thomas
    When Light Left Us
    February 13


    Erotic

    After Hours by Aicher  Lynda Aicher
    After Hours
    Boardroom series
    January 22


    Inspirational Romance/Mainstream

    A Light on the Hill by Connelyn Cossette  Connilyn Cossette
    A Light on the Hill
    Promised Land series
    February 6
     Phoebe's Light by Fisher Suzanne Woods Fisher
    Phoebe’ Light
    Nantucket Legacy series
    February 6
     Words from the Heart by Kathleen Fuller Kathleen Fuller
    Words from the Heart
    Amish Letters series
    February 13
     A Refuge Assured by Green Jocelyn Green
    A Refuge Assured
    February 6
     The MAsterpiece by Francine Rivers Francine Rivers
    The Masterpiece
    February 6
     The Melody of the Soul by Liz Tolsma Liz Tolsma
    The Melody of the Soul





    Kay SpearsKay is an avid reader of historical romance books, maybe with a little trip into paranormal land and an occasional journey into mystery world.
    by Craig B | Jan 08, 2018

    Book Review: James Alan McPherson's winner of the 1978 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Elbow Room

    Elbow RoomJames Alan McPherson contributed significantly to make his family a family of firsts.  His father was the first black master electrician in Georgia and James became the first African American winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.  In 1978 he was awarded the prize (no, not for his first) for his last collection of short stories, Elbow Room.  Generally more of a non-fiction writer, McPherson also had a variety of powerful, if almost always bemusing, short stories to tell.

    Bemusing is not typically a compliment, but don’t get me wrong, I have no complaints.  At the beginning, the stories like "Why I Like Country Music" were so straightforward I wasn’t sure why I should care.  However, I kept reading (‘cause I’ve got to, I’ve got to read all of the Pulitzers) and McPherson slowly but surely began to mix it up so that by the time I got to “A Loaf of Bread;” that story about the mechanic, “A Sense of Story;” and the title story, “Elbow Room,” I was beginning to rethink some of my first impressions.  It’s kind of like if you put together a greatest hits album for The White Stripes and started with "We’re Going to be Friends,” “Apple Blossom,” and “Little Ghost,” you might get the wrong idea about the band and those three songs together if you stopped there. Once you’ve managed to explore “Cannon,” “Ball and Biscuit,” and “The Big Three Killed My Baby” you might understand everything you’ve heard in a slightly different way.  Or not.  Maybe that’s a terrible analogue.  Either way, never stop reading.  You know I won’t … at least until I get to that 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winner.  At that 101st book (or thereabouts anyway), I may consider transitioning to the Nobels, not because, to quote The White Stripes, “my stick shift hands are swollen” or that “everything involved is shady,” more because, to quote a more ancient source, “variety is the spice of life,” or something like “variety leads to revelation … maybe.”  Persevering through the wide variety of the stories in Elbow Room seems to have worked out that way for me, anyway.  Who can tell what your various experiences might yield?

    Craig B author Craig B is a thirty-something lover of books, movies, and rock and roll whose grandmother still worries that he might not be eating enough. (Love you, Grandma!) He lives with his charming wife in the small town of Berne, IN (in sight of the clock tower) where he busies himself keeping the Roses of Sharon in check and training his chinchilla in the ancient arts of the Ninja. Craig’s current favorite book is Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann.
    by Evan | Jan 03, 2018
    Inspire

    If you ever wonder what you get for the taxes you pay, check out INSPIRE. State and federal dollars come together to give Hoosiers quick and easy Internet access to a quarter-billion authoritative news and journal articles. Plus, INSPIRE helps people prepare for college and careers. 

    ACPL has a link to INSPIRE within our Research tab at the top of our website (click on Research & Learning), but you can also get there by typing www.inspire.net in the url box on your browser. 

    Librarians often use INSPIRE to look up Consumer Reports articles about cars or appliances people are thinking about buying. We also use it to show high school and college students how to find relevant articles on their research topics.

    There is also career help provided through INSPIRE's Testing & Education Reference Center. People can use it to fill in their training gaps as they look for jobs. They can also take practice tests for jobs or college admission and create resumes.  

    Some people will figure out how to use INSPIRE right away, but librarians will be glad to help anyone get started. It's a great way to find solid information to help you in countless ways -- and you've already paid for it. 


    Evan AuthorEvan - Married, three children, two grandchildren, formerly a newspaper journalist, now a public librarian, at all times a board game nut.
    by Kay S | Dec 29, 2017

    “We'll meet again
    Don't know where
    Don't know when
    But I know we'll meet again some sunny day
    ...maybe next year!
     - Hughie Charles / Ross Parker

    Yes, it's time to bid a fond farewell to 2017 and to some of the historical romance books that passed by my eyes this year. Before I do my little wrap-up of highlights, I would like to take a moment to say farewell to some romance authors we lost this year: Elaine Barbieri, Helen Cadbury, Janet Chapman, and Miranda Neville.

    A few debut romance authors crossed my radar this year.  Congratulations for becoming published: Clara Christensen, Sara Portman, Olivia Hart, Susan Cliff, Maggie Conway, Mona Kasten, Victoria Gilbert, Jessica Ellicott.

    Now for my wrap-up. This has been an interesting year for me because I found some old treasures with a lot of dust on them and they made my outstanding list of 2017. This is my outstanding list; these are book which made me laugh-out-loud and also made a few tears appear in my eyes. And, if you have not read any of these books...what are you waiting for?

    My Outstanding Historical Romance Books of 2017, in no particular order.

    ~    Loretta Chase, A Duke in Shining Armor (2017)

    ~   Mary Balogh, A Rogue’s Downfall: The Anniversary (1994), The Wrong Door (1993), and Precious Rogue (1995).  Available via Hoopla.

    ~    Mary Balogh, The Famous Heroine (1996)

    ~    Mary Balogh, Lady with a Black Umbrella (1989).  Available via Hoopla.

    ~     Mary Balogh, The Temporary Wife (1997). 

    ~     Anne Stuart, The Spinster and the Rake (1982)

    ~     Mary Jo Putney, Angel Rogue (1995) aka The Rogue and the Runaway (1990)

    ~     Anne Gracie, Marry in Haste (2017)

    ~     Caroline Linden, The Secret of My Seduction (2017)

    ~     Deborah Simmons, The Vicar’s Daughter (1995, electronic release 2017)

    ~     Lisa Kleypas, It Happened One Autumn (2005)

    ~     Karen Ranney, After the Kiss (2000)

    ~     Kelly Bowen, Duke of My Heart (2016)

    ~     Kelly Bowen, A Duke to Remember (2016)

    ~     Kelly Bowen, Between the Devil and the Duke (2017)

    ~     Julia London, Wild Wicked Scot (2016)

    ~     Julia Quinn, And A Sixpence in Her Shoe, short story from Four Weddings and a Sixpence (the stand-out in an otherwise average group of short stories.)

    h_baloghNo More Wire Hangers – Yes, it’s time for the 2017 Mommie Dearest Award. To win in this category you have to be a pretty nasty character. And, in Romanceland, there are always oodles of brothers who are in debt and their sisters are paying the bill, beautiful self-centered sisters, cold fathers, and conniving mothers. But the winner of this year’s 2017 Mommie Dearest award goes to a dead man. Yes, this year the award has to go to none other than the Earl of Riverdale from Mary Balogh’s new Westcott family series. Nothing more destructive than a bigamist marriage. And, we get to watch the fall-out caused by this callous man in a series which is just beginning.

    2017 Steve Morgan Bonehead Award. There’s nothing better than a good old rant because the hero in the book is such a blockhead. For all of you who don’t know who Steve Morgan is, check out Rosemary Rogers’ Sweet Savage Love. Written in 1974, it is the epitome of the term bodice ripper. He is probably one of the most abominable heroes ever written. Cruel, unfaithful, possessive, jealous, etc., etc. Over the couSSL-300dpi-1-379x600rse of a book, The Bonehead hero does many unforgivable things and usually he never apologizes. The winner of this year’s bonehead award is from Julia London’s Sinful Scottish Laird. And guess what, instead of a man it’s a woman who has made it to the top bonehead status. Sometimes giving a female character male attributes to prove she is a strong, free-thinking woman doesn’t work. Women do not have to be male-vamps to be strong or to prove they have a place in a man’s world. Inconstancy doesn’t sit any better on a woman’s plate then it does on a man’s. A woman does not have to be like a man to have her own voice.

    Sidekicks, aka Secondary Characters, aka Supporting Cast of 2017
    . Yes, where would h_quinnour books be without those scene-stealers, those secondary characters who are the only thing one might remember from a book? You know what I’m talking about – sometimes those characters are so strong, they get their own fans. Fans who wait and wait for them to have their own book. And, sometimes those books work and sometimes they don’t (but that’s another story.) Here are my nominations for some memorable secondary characters I stumbled across this year. The winner for most memorable secondary character this year is dead. Yes, Julia Quinn managed to make me care a whole lot about Thomas in The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband. The interesting thing about Thomas, other than he’s dead, is that we get to know him mainly through letters, flashbacks, and the memories of others. In order to do that Ms. Quinn had to do some mighty fine writing for her secondary characters.

    Now for some special mentions. I could not let this year pass by without mentioning three memorable moments from this year. First of all, even though I had some problems with Sarah MacLean’s The Day of the Duchess, one of the best written historical romance scenes for the year appeared in this book. In case you want to know which scene, it involves riding on a horse. There is so much emotional impact in that one little scene and I was amazed at such wonderful writing. Truly brilliant.

    The second moment I want to mention is from Elizabeth’s Hoyt’s Duke of Desire. Raphael has to be one of the most angst-filled heroes I’ve ever read. This storyline was just too much, too painful. While the writing was superb, I found the storyline so disturbing I found it hard to read.

    And finally, it was a pleasure to reread one of my all-time favorite Mary Balogh books, Lady with a Black Umbrella. This little gem of a book proves beyond a doubt that Ms. Balogh can write some pretty funny stuff. A wonderful, feel-good book.

    So goodbye 2017. I’m always on the lookout for some new and exciting authors. Believe me when I say I know how hard authors work. Even when I’m am not as appreciative of your creation as you think I should be - I am after all only one voice. But, I realize you have all put a lot of yourselves into those words which are filling those pages. Here's to the authors we love and the worlds they bring us.


    kay authorKay is an avid reader of historical romance books, maybe with a little trip into paranormal land and an occasional journey into mystery world.

    by Evan | Dec 27, 2017
    NPR Book Concierge

    Before the 2018 new books start arriving, here's a tool to help you catch up on the best of 2017. National Public Radio staff put together a list of their favorite 350 books published over the past year, and then someone created this search tool for you to match them with your own interests: 

    It's quite elegant. Click on a type of book among the categories on the left side. Then click on another one to narrow your search to just those two categories. Keep on going until you have what you want, or click on a minus sign to remove a filter or click on Clear filters and start over. Or, if you are truly behind on your reading, go deeper by clicking on an earlier year to see older NPR staff favorites. The interactive format only goes back to 2013, but there are lists from five years before that.

    After you have made your own list, of course, then switch to our catalog and start finding the titles in the library. As always, if you have trouble finding something, call us at 260-421-1215 or write to us at ask@acpl.info and we'll pursue it for you.  



    Evan authorEvan - Married, three children, two grandchildren, formerly a newspaper journalist, now a public librarian, at all times a board game nut.
    by Readers' Services | Dec 20, 2017
    Looking for something a little different to read this holiday season?  We offer you tales of Christmas in the future, in space, and on other planets.  Bonus: most of these recommendations are short story collections, perfect for break-sized reading!


    A Cosmic Christmas to YouA Cosmic Christmas to You
    (stories)

    This creative and sprightly Christmas science fiction anthology spins in some surprising directions.  Joe Haldeman's "Angel of Light," is about a father trying to sell a scandalous ancient book to buy Christmas presents, Connie Willis's "Christmas Card" features aliens competing to think up the best not-gifts, and Tee Morris's steampunk "In the Spirit of Christmas" introduces us to a Scrooge who summons Eliza and Wellington from the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences to rid him of some ghosts.  9 additional tales celebrate Christmas in off-beat ways.


    To Follow a StarTo Follow A Star (stories)
    Christmas on Ganymede by Isaac Asimov is a humorous tale in which the Ossies, Ganymede's native race, refuse to work until the get a visit from Santa.  The Star by Arthur C. Clarke considers the origin of the star that led the wise men to Bethlehem.  Other stories include: Santa Claus Planet by Frank M. Robinson, The Christmas Present by Gordon R. Dickson, Christmas Treason by James White,The New Father Christmas by Brian W. Aldiss, and La Befana by Gene Wolfe.



    Wolfsbane and MistletoeWolfsbane and Mistletoe (stories)
    The holidays can bring out the beast in anyone. They are particularly hard for lycanthropes. Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner have harvested the scariest, funniest, and saddest werewolf tales by an outstanding pack of authors, best read by the light of a full moon with a silver bullet close at hand. Whether wolfing down a holiday feast (use your imagination) or craving some hair of the dog on New Year's morning, the werewolves in these frighteningly original stories will surprise, delight, amuse, and scare the pants off readers who love a little wolfsbane with their mistletoe.


    Christmas Forever Christmas Forever (stories)
    A legendary birth is given a new twist in Roger Zelazny's "Prince of the Powers of This World"; a grieving friend finds the true magic of Christmas in Charles de Lint's "Pal O' Mine"; Sarah Smith's "Christmas at the Edge" evokes the best of the Christmas spirit in a near-future Boston that's sinking below sea level; and three unusual creatures discover a common bond in Alan Dean Foster's "We Three Kings." These, and 24 other original stories by a stellar group of authors, provide unique and sometimes disturbing interpretations of the holiday season. *You might also like Christmas Magic and Christmas Stars.


    HiddenseeHiddensee by Gregory Maquire
    Hiddensee imagines the backstory of the Nutcracker, revealing how this entrancing creature came to be carved and how he guided an ailing girl named Klara through a dreamy paradise on a Christmas Eve. At the heart of Hoffmann's mysterious tale hovers Godfather Drosselmeier -- the ominous, canny, one-eyed toy maker made immortal by Petipa and Tchaikovsky's fairy tale ballet -- who presents the once and future Nutcracker to Klara, his goddaughter.


    HogfatherHogfather by Terry Pratchett.

    It's that time of year again. Hogswatchnight. 'Tis the season when the Hogfather himself dons his red suit and climbs in his sleigh pulled by -- of course! -- eight hogs and brings gifts to all the boys and girls of Discworld.

    But this year, there's a problem. A stranger has taken the place of the Hogfather. Well, not exactly a stranger. He's actually pretty well known. He carries a scythe along with his bag of toys, and he's going to SLEIGH everyone he sees tonight.  Ho ho ho.

    A Lot Like ChristmasA Lot Like Christmas by Connie Willis.
    The winner of multiple Hugo and Nebula Awards, Connie Willis offers an expanded, updated edition of her previously published Miracle and Other Christmas Stories"All Seated on the Ground" imagines a first contact with aliens in which carols are the keys to communication. The Holy Family appear via time travel or dimensional warping to be initially unwelcome again in "Inn," and modern-day magi travel from the East in "Epiphany." 8 other speculative stories round out this wry collection.


    A Yuletide UniverseA Yuletide Universe (stories)
    Editor Thomsen pulls together Christmas tales by mostly sf and fantasy authors, although stories by mystery authors Donald E. Westlake and James Powell, Oz-inventor L. Frank Baum, and western writer Bret Harte appear, too.  In a "A Proper Santa Claus" by Anne McCaffrey, young Jeffrey has the ability to paint things and make them real -- he decides to create the perfect Santa.  Neil Gaiman offers a very short story "Nicholas Was" -- rumor has it he wrote it for a Christmas card for his friends.  14 other tales round out this unique collection.



    What types of books do you love to read this time of year?


    by Kayla W | Dec 18, 2017

    Christmas Header

    It may not be the most revolutionary thing to say that you’re not excited for the holiday season, but I feel as though it still needs to be remembered that not everyone is on board for the yearly high-strung antics at the end of the year.   I feel like this fits in well with those who happen to swing more towards introversion, but I’m sure there is a large portion of extroverts who some years find it more than a bit hard to swallow everything that goes on with the holiday season.  With that in mind, I started to wonder – what movies would I recommend to people who would love to really make it a point to think outside of the box of traditional holiday movie fare this season?  Maybe a little anti-holiday, while we’re at it?

    Even if you don’t have a problem with the festivities, it’s nice to have a palate cleanser from It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story (both of which I honestly do love).  If you happen to feel the same way, check out the list below for some ideas of what to watch to commemorate our cultural obsession with materialism and nostalgic family values.

    The Ice HarvestThe Ice HarvestA cynical noir that literally murders and cheats the whole ideal of peace on Earth or goodwill to mankind.  The dream of getting out of a dead-end town during Christmas Eve for two men is turned into a scheme to steal a fortune that they’ve embezzled.  In short order, everything that could go wrong on Christmas Eve does. It’s a criminally underrated gem of black comedy from the late great Harold Ramis, a definite must-have especially for fans of the equally as cynical In Bruges

    Bad SantaBad SantaBelieve it or not, this movie is a less of a cynical razing of Christmas values and traditions and more of what feels like a cathartic destruction of all of the materialist fakeness that has become synonymous with the holiday.  It has a good heart.  You know, beneath the layers of dark, dark and downright disgusting humor.   This movie is equal parts heist, shock value drunken antics, and a strangely humanistic message.  And boy do I love it.


    GremlinsGremlins
    Recently, I’ve come to see this movie as one that is about a symbolic destruction of traditional upper-middle class small town Americana during the most Americana of all holidays.  And it’s still an absolute blast, decades (!) later.   A small town apocalypse not from a Blob or zombies, but from reptilian Furby-like monsters whose existence is due to the mishandling of a pet treated like an early Christmas present.   And don’t let anyone tell you that the sequel, while a different beast all its own, isn’t fun either!

    Die HardDie HardA retired police detective finds that the reunion he planned with his estranged wife has been turned into a terrorist hostage situation, during which he is left to try to save the day with his wits and steely, working-class manly-manliness.  There’s a lot of gun fire and a whole lot of glass embedded in shoeless feet, as well as an Alan Rickman performance with a kinda-sorta Russian(?) accent at work that I just love.  What’s not to love with this rightful classic?  Oh, it all happens to also take place in a giant office building during Christmas.  Ho ho ho. 


    KrampusKrampus
    This movie feels like it was ripped from the eighties, when hardcore nightmare material was given to kids freely, complete with a PG rating slapped on it (see the above Gremlins recommendation).  The sound design and the practical effects are on point, and Krampus – the shadow of Santa Claus – appears in this dark twist on the holiday's mascot.  If you’re wanting something on the same level of quality as what Trick r Treat or Creepshow would do with a Christmas monster mash, then this is the movie for you.  Merciless and nihilistic as it casts a dark and demented shadow over twinkling Christmas lights, Krampus might be the hardcore horror fan’s answer for what to watch during the holidays.

    Tokyo GodfathersTokyo GodfathersIf I had to pick a Christmas movie that’s not about crime, blood, or monsters – one that is genuinely a mostly uplifting tale about the tenacity of the human spirit – this is the one.  Yes, an anime captures the spirit of Christmas in a way that barely nothing else ever has for me.   The master of Japanese animation, Satoshi Kon, created a spin on the idea of the three wise men with this movie.   Only, our “three wise men” take the form of an alcoholic homeless man, a transgender woman, and a teenaged runaway. They find themselves fighting to find a safe place for a baby found in garbage while struggling with their own personal demons.  It’s gorgeous, emotional, and manages to not be offensively patronizing while still giving a message of hope and determination to not give up.

    Kayla loves all things weird, wonderful, and macabre. Her soul’s in writing, and her hobbies include gaming, watching movies and television shows, and reading anything and everything. Her black cat’s TOTALLY, 100%, not evil.
    by Evan | Dec 13, 2017
    https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4392/36105055254_af2388435f_b.jpg
    Photo by Stin Shen, via Instagram

    Terraforming Mars
    is the hot thing at the intersection of science geekdom and board game geekdom. It's a prime example of how while you won't earn a PhD playing a board game, you -- or your kids -- may pick up key science ideas and start looking for more.

    This superb game was designed by a Swedish science teacher, Jacob Fryxelius, It has a learning curve and takes a few hours to play, but it fulfills the promise so many games fail to do -- it plays out in very different ways each time. The main science lessons are a big reason for that. Players pretend to be corporations competing to turn Mars into a habitable world. That means making it warmer, getting oxygen into the atmosphere and creating oceans. With hundreds of science-rich cards in play, the paths to those three goals vary widely.

    The game excited one player enough to write an essay about its clever science lessons. That writer thinks the game shows how "phenomenally stupid" it would be to try to  change a whole planet, but, of course, others think it can be done. Among the recent books we have on that are Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet by journalist Leonard David and Mars One, Humanity's Next Great Adventure: Inside the First Human Settlement on Mars by Norbert Kraft, a physician who helps select possible Mars pioneers.

    Evolution is a popular topic for science games. One gamer put a recent game of that title on top of his list of accurate science games. I've played Evolution a few times, and it does show how survival depends on adapting to changing conditions -- which includes evolving competitors. If my animal eats all the available plants before my wife's can eat, well, too bad for her, but if her animal evolves into a predator, too bad for me. At least until I evolve horns, etc. 

    Sure, science games are simplistic compared to a textbook, but so are history games, business games and the rest. The point is to teach themes and inspire curiosity, not prepare for a career. And, if the game is good, to have fun.

    And speaking of fun, one more plug. If you are into heavy board games and like a science theme, look into Dominant Species. It's about species migrating to find resources as the Ice Age advances. Everybody's competing to flourish the most on different terrains with different food sources. It's an engrossing mish-mash of scientific concepts. Just beware of the spiders. 


    EvanEvan - Married, three children, two grandchildren, formerly a newspaper journalist, now a public librarian, at all times a board game nut.
    by Craig B | Dec 11, 2017
    cover for Hank William III's album, Greatest HitsA few years ago (okay, quite a few years ago) I was in Nashville, TN drinking my morning POM and a friend of mine was drinking a Red Bull.  I said to my friend, “Friend, I’m gonna live longer.”  And Friend said to me, “Craig, I’m gonna live faster.”  I guess it’s all in what your goal-set is.  Anyway, I listened to Hank Williams III’s Greatest Hits and it closely reminded me of the above conversation.  To Hank’s credit, I guess he can play just as fast as he’s living.

    Suggested Use: The cautionary part of me wants to say, listen to this album and learn from it what you need to avoid if you want a good chance of making it to retirement.  Another part of me wants to say, listen to this album and learn from it how to make your own luck.  I think I will end up simply saying, though, that track 2, "Country Heroes," is quite charming and worth a listen ... or two, and the breadth of experience it encompasses is sure to be illuminating, no matter what your goal-set happens to be.

    by Becky C | Dec 08, 2017
    image-from-dennis-skley-flickr-page0f6e932f9a7c69dab002ff000041e4fb

    How do librarians know what titles are coming out when?  How do we decide which of those titles we'll purchase for the collection?  We have several sources, but Publishers Weekly (PW) is one of my personal favorites.  PW reviews around 9,000 books a year. 

    For this month's post, I've taken the liberty of going through the October issues of Publishers Weekly (PW) and sharing the upcoming releases their reviewers are most excited about.  Each of these titles received a starred review.  We don't have all of these titles in the collection yet -- most are due to hit the shelves in bookstores and libraries next month -- but you can place a hold on your copy now.  Or, if you're like me, and you're typically at the 5 holds per person max, you can keep tabs on your picks a couple of ways.

    My favorite way to keep track of books I want to read is through ACPL's catalog.  Heather wrote an excellent post on how to do this -- click here for the details.  Goodreads and LibraryThing are also options.

    Which of these catches your eye? 


    Fiction coming to the collection December 2017

    The Missing Guests You Can Run  Reconciliation for the Dead 
     Immortal Life  The Duke of Her Desire  Roomies
     Between You and Me  The Mannequin Makers  Her Beautiful Monster
     Anatomy of a Scandal  Dark Dawn Over Steep House  The Man in the Crooked Hat
     Weave a Circle Round  Green  Wild Beauty
     Nightblind  Pen 33  The Lord Meets His Lady
     The Ninth Grave  The Immortalists  Wild Chamber
     Demon Crown  Heart Spring Mountain  Grist Mill Road
     Death Below Stairs  A Lady in Shadows  Moonlight Over Manhattan
         


    Nonfiction coming to the collection December 2017

     The Last Man Who Knew Everything  Doomsday Machine  Timekeepers
     Moral Combat  The Last London  The Newcomers
     America the Cookbook  Night plus Market  The Fearless Baker
     The Square and the Tower  Fortress America  Jeffersons Daughters
       Improv Nation  
         

    Click here to see previous Coming soon to a bookshelf near you posts.

    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 Evan | Dec 04, 2017
    Steve JobsMuch as we love stories, I wonder why biographies are not more popular than fiction. Sure, we can relate our lives to characters and situations in fiction, but they're still fiction. Good biographies cause us to relate our lives to real people -- admirable, reprehensible or, sometimes, both. 

    Case in point, I recently finished Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. I hadn't paid much attention to the career of the late Apple co-founder and was surprised to learn what a cruel person he was. I've been trying to teach myself lately to not be so sensitive to what people think of me, but reading about how Jobs mistreated seemingly everyone around him helped me ease up on myself a bit. Better to be a wimp than a warlock, even if I would never have been able to browbeat people into inventing the iPhone. 

    Hearing about Jobs's famous "reality distortion field" brought President Trump to mind. Apple employees coined that term to describe how Jobs could believe so much in things that others thought were impossible that oftentimes reality changed and the impossible became possible. I don't recall hearing two years ago of any experts who thought Trump could really become president, but he dismissed that reality and there he is today. I'm looking at some tasks in my life that seem daunting; maybe I could benefit from distorting my own sense of reality. 

    Death of a KingDr. Martin Luther King, Jr. tried to distort realities far greater than a long-shot presidential campaign or the limitations of early computers. Tavis Smiley's Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Final Year is the tragic tale of a man who was trying to end racism, end poverty and stop a war all at the same time. The book is not a full biography. It includes some asides about King's earlier life, but it hones in on how King suffered as the waves of a violent time drowned out his pleas for peace in the months before he was murdered. I'm still listening to the book and still trying to process what it tells me about my own very small involvement in pushing for social change, but it's surely got something to do with how much personal sacrifice I'm willing to make.

    Meanwhile, I'm on a crazy project reading a 188-year-old volume about a 1,517-year old Byzantine general. I don't know yet what The Life of Belisarius by Lord Mahon (Philip Henry Stanhope) is going to teach me about my 21st century life of ease on the other side of the world, but Belisarius did live a fabled life, beating one big opponent after another with small forces. Almost like fiction, only better.


    EvanEvan - Married, three children, two grandchildren, formerly a newspaper journalist, now a public librarian, at all times a board game nut.
    by Becky C | Dec 01, 2017
    Ever wonder what library staff like to read?  Wonder no more!  Here's a quick look at some books we've enjoyed this month.  Click on a book cover to check availability — it’s as easy as that!

    The Secret Book and Scone Society Confessions  Promise Me Dad 
     Fahrenheit 451  Jhereg  Wisdom of the 90s
     The Limit  The City of Brass  Unfaithful Music
     Alex and Eliza  Strangers  All the Light We Cannot See
     Hole in My Heart  Defining Moments  If Grace Is True
     Notes on a Foreign County  A Discovery of Witches  We Need To Talk
     The Rules of Magic  Grace Not Perfection  A Simplified Life
     The Executioner's Song  The Forgotten Garden  Kurosagi
     The Last Lecture  After the Eclipse  Wife of the Gods
     The Wise Mans Fear  Midnight  The Hate U Give
     Bel Canto  The Force  


    Want more recommendations?  Click here for previous What We're Reading posts. 

    Please let us know what books you've been reading that you've really enjoyed.  We're always looking for our next great read!

    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 Nancy | Nov 29, 2017

    Freegal holiday

    With our holiday cds flying off of the shelf, it's a wonderful time of the year to explore freegal.  If you live in Allen County and have a library card in good standing, you can use this excellent resource to download music -- you'll just need your ACPL card and PIN numbers.  (If you don’t know what your PIN number is, give us a call at 260-421-1200, ext. 4011.)  You can download up to 5 songs a week -- that's 260 songs per year!

    Songs are downloaded in an MP3 format (compatible with everything), so they can be saved to any computer, mobile device or MP3 player. If you have an iPod, you will need to have a registered copy of iTunes and access to a non-library computer. There are no digital rights management restrictions and no special software required for non-Apple products.  We suggest you choose “Save” or “Save As” and direct it to save to your Music or Downloads folder when you download the songs.

    Songs can also be added to the free freegal app -- but to keep them forever, you may want to export them -- click here for details.   

    You can also start building your own holiday party playlist for a 3-hour streaming session.  Find some popular Christmas albums here, or look through those titles not available last year by viewing the most recently added Christmas albums.

    Happy Holidays!


    snowmen image via pixaby

     

     

    by Kayla W | Nov 27, 2017

        "I still don't really get what bein' "strong" means, but I'm gonna start by not lying to myself. No more being scared of everyone, hiding my hobbies, staying away from people... Anytime, anyplace, I'm gonna bust right through as my own self! That's the way to deal with that "other me" in the TV world."

        —Kanji Tatsumi, Persona 4

     

    Persona 4 Golden 

     

    Persona 4 is a game that comes from a series with a reputation for breaking the boundaries of what is expected of video games.  The series belongs to the fabled type of game that you may feel they just don’t make any more.  The kind with heart and an ambition that can go beyond the technology and budget for the project, one that has a definite identity which it wears proudly. 

    Luckily for the people who may check the game out based on the fantastic flair and style that it flaunts with wild abandon, they are fortunate to be entering in a series that is growing so steadily in its cult audience that it is now near to entering that so coveted gaming mainstream, right alongside Final Fantasy

    This entry in the series, in particular, was a major win for its publisher, Atlus.  The welcoming energy of the characters and the game’s mechanics, mixed with the dark and slightly seedy themes, create a game that could not help to appeal to a Western audience. 

    There was a fifth Persona game that was released earlier this year – and you can borrow it as well if you would like, here - and while I enjoyed it thoroughly, I have to say that its predecessor wore the mechanics of the game better.  In general, I loved the characters from the fourth game more than I felt like I bonded to the ones in the fifth entry in the series.   Not that it’s exactly fair to compare any game to one that has characters like Chie and Kanji in it.

    If you still haven’t had a chance to play this game, in spite of it being the sort of thing that hits your sweet spot of character-driven gameplay with a major focus on dungeon crawling and student life simulation (and what a niche that is!), then I would be remiss if I didn’t insist on trying it.  This game has so many mechanics and contains the trappings of oh so many genres – including some that don’t actually exist, but this game series, much like the Yakuza series, creates and makes work – that not only is it worthy of multiple play-throughs, it is absolutely necessary to play through this already long game more than once to experience almost everything that it has to offer.  I would have to really wrack my mind to think of a better game to spend the cold months to come playing, perhaps with the exception of something such as XCOM 2 or Undertale.

    So the short answer is that if you haven’t played a Persona or a Shin Megami Tensei game before, not only it is not necessary to play any of the previous games before this one (because there is no connecting story between all but the two versions of the second games, Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment), but this is the best introduction to the series that I could imagine. 

    Beyond the mechanics of the game, which boasts dungeon crawling, a student life simulation, unforgiving boss battles, a wholly unique methodology of fusing “personas” in order to make a consistently strong source of power, and fishing - just to name the highlights - the game is renowned for its absolutely lovable and at times heart-wrenching teenaged outcasts whose darkest secrets threaten to literally devour them. 

    In the game, the protagonist must live with his uncle and his absolutely adorable shy cousin for a year in a backwaters town where it rains frequently.  Not long after moving in, a corpse is discovered hanging from a TV antennae not far from the high school, and shortly thereafter the school becomes abuzz with the eerie local legend known as the Midnight Channel.  From that point on, the protagonist’s world becomes focused on doing what he can to discover the dark secrets of the Midnight Channel. 

    That’s not to say that his social, school, and financial life are things that he should ignore. In spite of the need to discover what is causing the Midnight Channel, every mechanic in the game ties together, making it so that the work the protagonist puts into his daily life translates into how well he can search the dungeons created by the Midnight Channel and rescue the lost souls who have been imprisoned there. 

    Of course, whether the protagonist perseveres in protecting his new friends and home is entirely up to you, from the speed at which you traverse the game’s dungeons, who you choose to befriend, and what skills and potential side work or hobbies you pick up along the way, as well as if you decide to make your school life and grades an integral part of your protagonist’s life.  As the appeal of the game seems to be – it’s all up to you and your choices. 


    What I really love about the game series is how much lore and a deep love for all sorts of interesting and nerdy philosophical, psychological, and metaphorical concepts are ever so gently touched on in a respectful way.  Jungian symbolism is prevalent through much of the series, the idea of rebirth is a topic visited frequently, and of course one cannot forget the series' abiding love of the archetypes of tarot.  This is one game series that proves the point that something doesn't need to be boring to be smart.

    If you’re interested in trying out the Persona game series or if you’re only interested in the fourth entry in the series, the ACPL has you covered, with both the original Playstation 2 edition available as well as the superior Playstation Vita edition available to borrow.  Again, the library also has copies of the sequel (for the Playstation 3 and 4), which I may make a blurb about in the future.  It’s actually really good as well, it just falls short of the heights that the re-master of its predecessor rose to.

    Kayla loves all things weird, wonderful, and macabre.  Her soul’s in writing, and her hobbies include gaming, watching movies and television shows, and reading anything and everything. Her black cat’s TOTALLY, 100%, not evil.

    by Emily M | Nov 24, 2017

    holidayscore5 holidayscore4 holidayscore6

    If you’re a holiday music lover, you’ll want to be sure to check out our collection of holiday CDs, as well as the downloadable/streamable music available through ACPL's subscription to Freegal and Hoopla.  But did you know that we also carry holiday music scores? 

    If you play an instrument, now is a great time to explore our large collection of music scores at the Main Library.  Brush off your piano, guitar, violin, flute, etc and perform some holiday tunes for your family and friends.  We also have several non-Holiday scores available featuring classical, jazz, pop, and country, as well as music from popular movies and Broadway shows. 



    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.