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    by Craig B | Dec 16, 2015
    Kylo RenNote: Be sure to enter our Star Wars raffle made possible in part through donations from Books, Comics, & Things!  See end of post for more information.

    Well, folks, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is almost upon us.  Whether we await in blind ecstasy or crippling trepidation, we wait.  While we're waiting I thought we should talk about what we might be hoping for in our individual cases and what might come to us that could drive us over the edge ... I've compiled some of the results of my extensive survey of ACPL staff below:

    Evan
    Hope to see: More of Carrie Fisher than Harrison Ford ... but not counting on it
    Hope not to see: All 20,000 shots fired by professionally trained storm troopers miss every target

    Loren
    Hope to see: tons of fans complaining of lightsabers with cross-bars
    Hope not to see: anyone get their hand cut off ... again

    Staff Member A
    Hope to see: Luke Skywalker = Darksider
    Hope not to see: Elderly Jar-Jar Binks

    Karl
    Hope to see: Han Solo deliver great one-liners
    Hope not to see: Light/Lens flares. This is a J.J. Abrams movie and they tend to be plagued with light/lens flares.

    Craig
    Hope to see: Kylo Ren (see above image) Force choke someone by twitching his/her pinky
    Hope not to see: death of Luke Skywalker

    And ACPL patrons!  Add your own below in the comments!

    P.S. Keep an eye out for more Holiday 2015 Star Wars postings on ACPL social media (especially our highly anticipated video response due out December 19th).  Comment on any of those postings and earn an entry into our Star Wars raffle for each.  Limit 1 raffle entry per patron per post until Monday, December 28, 2015.  ACPL not responsible for lost or misdirected electronic submissions.  Raffle open only to Allen County residents with a valid email address.  And remember, share the Star Wars Christmas joy!  Share this post!

    Raffle Items



    craig 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 Becky C | Dec 14, 2015
    Here’s a quick look at some holiday favorites that you may have missed the first time around. Something catch your eye? Click on a book cover to check availability — it’s as easy as that!
    spending holidays
     awkward holiday photos
    holiday awesome
     
     festivus
     wcs holidays
     nothing with strings
       hot cider
     


    Becky CBecky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her thumb has no hint of green whatsoever but luckily her plants are forgiving. Her favorite books are The Shannara series by Terry Brooks.
    by Evan | Dec 11, 2015

    The Daughter of TimeEver read The Daughter of Time? Ever even heard of it? I don’t think I had either until a few months ago, even though it was voted the best crime novel of all time by the United Kingdom’s Crime Writers’ Association in 1990. And even though it was about my favorite historical mystery – the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower.

    For almost 500 years, the common knowledge was that Richard III had the boys murdered when he usurped the British throne in 1483. After all, that was what the Tudors and their main man, William Shakespeare, said, so there you were. But in 1951, acclaimed British mystery writer Josephine Tey published The Daughter of Time shortly before her death. The title phrase refers to the idea that the truth will eventually out, and Tey outed Henry VII – or at least tried to. Henry Tudor defeated Richard at the battle of Bosworth in 1485, where Richard was killed, and the Tudor story soon became that the princes were dead and Richard was responsible. Richard, of course, was unable to defend his reputation.

    That’s still the official story, so to speak, but using the character of her fictional detective stuck in a hospital bed with nothing better to do than analyze the known evidence about a medieval murder, Tey raised a lot of doubts. So many doubts that her book sparked renewed interest not only in the mystery but in Richard’s otherwise acclaimed brief kingship. Tey’s project inspired revival of the Richard III Society, which helped find Richard’s skeleton beneath a parking lot three years ago. Recently, Richard’s modern friends announced a big effort to find out what happened to the princes, with the help of modern technologies.

    As I said, I don’t think I ever heard of Tey’s book before, even though the mystery was the subject of my high school senior thesis, which, alas, I cannot find. I do remember that I defended Richard’s name, but if I did fail to catch on that Tey’s book was the source of this historical revisionism, that’s pretty embarrassing.

    Meanwhile, there’s also been a lot of research in recent years about the battle of Bosworth itself. Historians aren’t even sure exactly where it took place, but they’re working on it. I’m just finishing a book by one of them – Michael Jones’s Bosworth 1485. He is on the Richard Did the Deed side, but sort of exonerates the crime for various political and family reasons and then goes on to suggest that Richard fought Bosworth in a certain way to make up for his sins. If Jones is right, Richard was foiled by an unexpected tactic used by Swiss mercenaries fighting for Henry – although the battle-hardened Richard came close to killing his unmilitary rival.

    Anyway, here’s a long overdue salute to Ms. Tey and other justice-seeking historical revisionists – with a rhetorical nod to one of my baseball heroes, the late Yogi Berra. The writing of history is not over until it’s over, and we all hope that’s a really long way off.




    EvanEvan - Married, three children, two grandchildren, formerly a newspaper journalist, now a public librarian, at all times a board game nut.
    by David W | Dec 09, 2015

    Note: Be sure to enter our Star Wars raffle made possible in part through donations from Books, Comics, & Things!  See end of post for more information.

    Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace came out as I was finishing the 4th grade.  This pegs me squarely in the generation that was being targeted at the time for a revival of interest in Star Wars, and far from the generation for which the original trilogy holds childhood nostalgia.  As I reflect upon my Star Wars experience, I am so thankful that I saw the original trilogy before the prequels were released.

    I remember riding in the car with my father and two of my aunts.  I don't remember how the subject was broached, but the conversation turned to Star Wars and Star Trek.  I had heard of both of them, but they occupied that nebulous space in my second grade mind of the larger adult culture in which I wasn't yet sure if I was allowed to engage.  Looking back now, it may have been Star Wars gags on the cartoon Muppet Babies that first brought Star Wars to my attention.  I remember hearing my family talk about both series, and trying to give a suitably streamlined explanation of lightsabers (which, as it turns out, are very different from Life Savers), tribbles, and the force.  I don't think I understood how the two series differed, merely that they were, in fact, two completely different things.  Later that same day, my dad took me to the one of the video stores in Waynedale.  Truth be told, I think he was trying to get me to choose Star Trek, but I distinctly remember looking at the VHS sleeves on Star Wars and thinking, "Nope, this is clearly the better choice."  I don't regret that decision.

    6155622014_996d242d43_b

    Once I saw the trilogy, my eyes opened to the ever expanding world of the Star Wars universe.  I remember going to my friend's house and looking at all of his brother's models of the various spaceships and walkers (which we were most definitely not allowed to touch).  I began to read the "Young Jedi Knights" novels, a series targeted at young readers that followed the adventures of Han Solo and Princess Leia's daughter and son.  The world that George Lucas created came alive in a way that suggested a whole universe of adventures, something that captivated me long after watching the resolution of Luke's story.

    Splinter_of_the_Minds_EyeLooking back now, I think it is the world-building that has made such a lasting impression on generations of fans.  It's easy in retrospect to look at fan-compiled sources like the Wookiepedia with its 120,000+ articles and make sense of it--what other property has so many die-hard fans devoted to chronicling every background character and planet?  But to think that it sprang from a series of movies that were considered incredible gambles and that could have wound up being nuggets of cult minutiae rather than dynasty-launching super-hits.  Even Lucas had a contingency plan in Splinter of the Mind's Eye, a much more self-contained follow-up to the 1977 film that would have taken the place of The Empire Strikes Back if the first film didn't make a splash in the theater.  What strikes me as most impressive is that everything outside of the movies has spun out from that core trilogy, inspired by three films that caused everyone they touched to imagine a world so much bigger than what was captured on screen.

    Part of Disney's acquisition of the Star Wars property and their decision to expand upon it has been the controversial decision to disregard anything as canonical that is not from either the films or the Clone Wars television show.  From the point-of-view of the writers who have the Sisyphean task of continuing the Star Wars narrative, this move seems necessary--trying to create new stories and conflicts while rectifying them with 35 years of comics, novels, and video games would be a nearly impossible task, especially when some of those stories already take place in the time period in which you intend upon setting the story.  Conversely, you can see why fans would regard the decision with disdain, or at the very least apprehension.  As a well-read fan, your favorite Star Wars character may live in a comic series story arc from the mid-90's, and that's where they'll forever stay.  This isn't to say that the world of fan-written and speculative Star Wars fiction is dead, merely that it will never get the Disney stamp of approval.

    Moving the franchise into different hands with a new, fresh perspective gives me hope for a more vivacious future for Star Wars.  Many fans are understandably worried that J.J. Abrams and Disney may not know what fans want out of more Star Wars, and while we'll have to wait a few more weeks to see, I'd argue that the prequel trilogy is evidence that Lucas no longer knew that either.  The original trilogy was full of simple characters based on strong archetypes, easy-to-follow emotional arcs, and memorable locations and sequences that we still delight in revisiting today.  The prequel trilogy was full of complex intergalactic politics, crowded special effects, and "complex" characters that served to confuse kids and make adults roll their eyes.  There are plenty of things to praise in the prequels as well, and the original trilogy is not without its faults, but time has bore out that aside from a few memorable sequences, the attempt at a second trilogy has produced just as many objects of ridicule amongst fans as it has iconic characters.  It's not unusual to hear fans fond of dissecting the missteps of the prequel trilogy argue that Lucas had too few reins when creating the prequel trilogy, both in terms of budget and other creative minds willing to veto some of his choices.  These factors allowed Lucas produce three films that tried to be everything to everyone and still left most fans unsatisfied.  This is ultimately hearsay from people ancillary to the project and the general mood shown in many behind-the-scenes featurettes, but I think it shows that while Disney and J.J. Abrams may not be the creative partnership that fans imagined, it's worth being excited about seeing what a fresh team will do with a decade of hindsight about how the previous three films were received.

    At least we have this awesome fan theory to salvage the inclusion of Jar Jar Binks, one of the unanimous low points in the franchise.

    That's enough speculation and analysis.  We're getting more Star Wars!  I've tried to avoid spoilers as much as possible, but I have watched each new trailer and TV spot, and it is clear that the indefinable magic that is Star Wars still hums under every bar of that John Williams score.  Whenever I see Star Wars: Aftermath go back on shelf I make a mental note to pick it up as soon as I've seen the movie, so that I can learn about the events that occur between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens (it is ultimately a property that centers around the films, so I'd rather be introduced to any new characters on screen before they appear in a book).  I look at the new, super detailed Force Awakens Lego sets that I would love to have on my shelf right next to my Lego Slave 1.  I try to maintain a critical perspective, but ladies and gentlemen, I've bought into the Star Wars hype.  Let's hope the force is with this new cast and creative team, because there are millions of fans out there that are ready for our next adventure.

    December 18th can't get here soon enough.

    P.S. Keep an eye out for more Holiday 2015 Star Wars postings on ACPL social media (especially our highly anticipated video response due out December 19th).  Comment on any of those postings and earn an entry into our Star Wars raffle for each.  Limit 1 raffle entry per patron per post until Monday, December 28, 2015.  ACPL not responsible for lost or misdirected electronic submissions.  Raffle open only to Allen County residents with a valid email address.  And remember, share the Star Wars Christmas joy!  Share this post!

    Raffle Items

    davidDavid loves all sorts of film and music with a soft spot for schlocky B-horror movies, anything with Patrick Swayze, and preposterous concept albums. He adores James Joyce and Virginia Wolfe foremost, but has plenty of Neil Gaiman, Seamus Heaney, and Stephen Jay Gould on his bookshelf as well. Feel free to get in touch with him if you want to argue the merits of why The Fountain should be better regarded among Aronofsky's works or which of The Lord Weird Slough Feg's albums is the best.
    by Craig B | Dec 07, 2015


    Image via Wikipedia

     
     This image is not actually of James Agee, it is of Henry Walker, Agee's photographic collaborator for the work Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, the book that is widely considered the masterpiece of Agee's career.

    Book Review:  A Death in the Family by James Agee

    The characters of James Agee's 1958 Pulitzer win (awarded posthumously, this autobiographical novel centers around an event from Agee's childhood), A Death in the Family, are, to put it mildly, conflicted.  Paragraphs are dedicated to internal crises such as the self-loathing one character feels because of the less-than-efficient way he puts on his trousers.  Not to say this sort of thing doesn't make for engaging reading, it's just ... it borders on exhausting.

    Juxtaposed to this near-lachrymose writing style was Agee's personal career in which he seemed to have quite a bit of "kinetic" energy.  He was the premiere film critic of the 1940s and famously adapted C.S. Forester's The African Queen for the silver screen.  Now, he did die kind of young (at the age of 45 of a heart attack) in 1955 so maybe he had been kind of overdoing it, maybe his internal conflicts rivaled that of his characters in A Death in the Family and finally caught up with him.  Agonizing over how one puts one's pants on does seem to belie anxieties beyond most people's ken and general constitution, especially in 1955 when there was no 5 Hour Energy.  Anyway, upon Agee's demise A Death in the Family remained unfinished.  Dissatisfied with this state of affairs, Agee's publisher shook off any ennui he was feeling and pulled the book together for release in 1957, thus allowing it to be eligible to win the Pulitzer in 1958.  (Sometimes to become immortal one has to die and have very good friends ... not actually sure how to feel about that statement.)

    Here's the thing, really, though ... actually (I'm not trying to convince you, just listen).  For all of its intensity, as A Death in the Family gets going it's far from enervating.  The internal conflict of the characters does verge to overwhelming, but in an invigorating way (if you believe that's possible; myself, I'm of two minds about it, possibly three), and the tensions that develop between nihilism, organized religion, and evident miracles begin to drive the story towards it merciless end.  This cocktail of elements, as it breeds ambivalence and psychic affliction, may actually exhaust some of our capacities for reading another person's words.  But then, if you're going to have an internal monologue of a story, this seems to be the right way to go about it, that is, through ambivalence, paradox, and self-loathing.  No lodestone is quite as fascinating, as the mortal, erring, equivocal human who yet is consumed with imagining ways to live forever.

    craig 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 Craig B | Dec 03, 2015
    Star Wars TicketAllen County Public Library is going to tell its own Star Wars story this year.  We'll share it with you as it develops.  Consider sharing yours here.

    My own Star Wars story is pretty short.  I remember spending a long afternoon watching the original trilogy on VHS (no doubt recorded from network TV) with my parents who were mostly just passing a lazy afternoon and keeping the kids quiet.  I was immediately captured by the magic of the thing but unfortunately have never watched the movies in their entirety again.  It’s okay for you, the reader, to feel some quickly accelerating annoyance at this; the reasons for my transgression are complicated and personal, involving a conservative upbringing, being a bigger fan of Tolkien, and George Lucas’ constant carrot-waving that caused me to become befuddled on which version of the films to watch.

    Anyway, I’m picking up and retaking control of my Star Wars story here at the end of 2015. I’ve borrowed the original trilogy from a friend, I’ve purchased a very special dimpled mug in which to enjoy certain select beverages, and I’ve got my plush Luke Skywalker doll to clutch during the more intense action sequences.  The next few days should seal the final chapter in the earliest volume of my Star Wars story, but a new volume is about to begin, this one involving the Allen County Public Library, blogging, and the auspicious day of December 18.  As we all begin this new volume in the ongoing saga of Star Wars and our personal experiences with the whole thing, consider kicking off your own new chapter by sharing here your earliest Star Wars memories and being entered in a raffle to win some of the coolest Star Wars stuff around (donated in part by our friends at Books, Comics, and Things).  And no matter what, fan or no, raffle entrant, blogger, or confused individual who just happened into this extended monologue ... May the Force be with you.

    P.S. Keep an eye out for more Holiday 2015 Star Wars postings on ACPL social media (especially our highly anticipated video response due out December 19th).  Comment on any of those postings and earn an entry into our Star Wars raffle for each.  Limit 1 raffle entry per patron per post until Monday, December 28, 2015.  ACPL not responsible for lost or misdirected electronic submissions.  Raffle open only to Allen County residents with a valid email address.  And remember, share the Star Wars Christmas joy!  Share this post!


    craig 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 Zora S | Nov 30, 2015

    There is an ancient Indian book, which always brings sweet memories from my childhood. I picture my mother’s beautiful smile and her calming voice, reading to me its charming stories. I remember the warm nights, the laugh-filled moments, the quiet discussions. It was a time well-spent together.

    A 'Panchatantra' relief at the Mendut temple, Central Java, Indonesia. By BesselDekker at nl.wikipedia [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], from Wikimedia CommonsThe book is called Panchatantra, and it is said to be the most widely spread work in time and place after the Bible. Panchatantra's influence can be detected in different works of literature as the Arabian Nights, The Gesta Romanorum, Decameron by Boccaccio, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Aesop Fables, The fables of La Fontaine, The Brer Rabbit Tales (Southern United States), and many others. These old Indian tales still bring delight to many people – believers and non-believers, Buddhists and Christians, Muslims and Jewish.

    Panchatantra contains five independent books (“panchatantra” means “five books”), and  each of them has numerous stories within stories. The main five books are titled as follows: “The Separation of Friends”, “The Gaining of Friends”, “Of Crows and Owls”, “Loss of Gains”, and “Hasty Action”. They are a collection of animal fables in verse and prose. The main characters are animals that embody human characteristics. Through a carefully constructed allegorical mode the tales deliver the wisdom of ancient India.

    The incredible world of Panchatantra is filled with Brahmans and thieves, kings and servants, weavers and barbers, royal daughters and philanderers, rulers and wolves, wizards and jackals, goblins and snakes, lions and donkeys, and so on. The traders traded; the craftsmen produced their goods; the kings imposed taxes, and the poor worked and dreamt about money and trips to other countries where they would find a better life. People strive to reach the same goals nowadays. One can see that the world has not changed much throughout the ages.

    The fables in Panchatantra were written in the Sanskrit language about 200 B.C. but parts of the stories and verses existed long before that. According to scholars, the Panchatantra was created across a whole era, as the best stories of old cultures were gathered. It started with the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature -- the Mahabharata -- and then included the laws of Manu (Hindu legal code) and later sacred Buddhist and Jain texts.

    An illustration from a Syrian edition dated 1354. The rabbit fools the elephant king by showing him the reflection of the moon. By Syrischer Maler von 1354 [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsMost of the animal fables were first created by the people who settled along the banks of Indus River and were passed along primarily through oral communication. Scholars still try to decode their script, but there were discoveries of rock paintings and objects with drawing of animals, which were very similar to the ones, described in the ancient Indian texts. These fables merged into the Jataka tales, (a Buddhist compilation of moral stories), and blended later with texts of Mahabharata. This book is another great Sanskrit epic of the Hindus, telling the story about the civil war between the five brothers and their 100 stepbrothers, which took place near modern Delhi.

    It is worth noting that the first written copies of Panchatantra were drafted in Kashmir region during the so-called “Golden Age” of the Ancient Indian culture (A.D. 350-450). The best-known version, closest to the original fables, was created by a monk named Purnabhadra in A.D. 1199, and it was titled “The Panchatantra-text of Purnabhadra.” This copy traveled around the world and became popular in Southeast Asia - Siam, Indochina, and Indonesia, influenced the Mongol literature, and has been translated into Persian and Arabic. The Arabic version, made by the Persian scholar Abdullah Ibn al-Muqaffa (A.D.750) and titled Kalila and Dimna: selected fables of Bidpai became very popular later in Europe. Through various names, this ancient work has been known in different parts of the world.

    Panchatantra appeared in the Greek language at the end of the 11th century and from there it made its way into the Slavonic languages. The old Spanish and ancient Hebrew copies came during the 13th century, and they lead to the Latin translation. The Latin version inspired Sir Thomas North, and he wrote the first English translation in 1570 titled, The Fables of Bidpai: The Morall Philosophie of Doni. The journey of the book continued with its copies in German, Italian, New Spanish language, and Czech. In the 16th century came the Turkish translation, followed by the French one. Interestingly, when a copy finally has been translated into the Hindi language and reached the places where the texts were originally drafted, the Indian people were amazed by this incredible book.

     A page from Kelileh o Demneh, depicts the jackal Dimna trying to persuade his lion-king that the honest bull-courtier, is a traitor. By User Zereshk on en.wikipedia (en.wikipedia) [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsThe fables of Panchatantra were initially intended to serve the sons of kings as manuals of instruction in the principles of conduct. According to the legend, the book was written by a wise old man, named Vishnu Sharman. His purpose was to teach the kings’ not so bright successors the wisdom to live in an imperfect world of trickery and deception. The attractively told stories were intended to help the Kings' sons succeed in life. Philosophy, psychology, politics, music, astronomy, and human relationship are all discussed in the book in such unique way that brings lasting joy to the reader.

     The stories in Panchatantra are charming but what gives real value to the book are the verses within the narrative, filled with beauty, wisdom, and wit. These are the gems of the necklace of wisdom, collected for centuries. Plenty of proverbs directly stress the moral of the stories, well-illustrated with the stanzas that follow them. For example, “Where bribes and flattery would fail, Intrigue is certain to avail”. Thus:

    Even a pearl, so smoothly hard and round,
    Is fastened by a thread and safely bound,
    After a way to pierce its heart is found.

    Part of a popular epigrammatic verse is still very often quoted. It supports the moral of the story “The Duel between Elephant and Sparrow” from the book The loss of friends:

    A friend in need is a friend indeed;
    Fathers indeed are those who feed;
    True comrades they and wives indeed,
    Whence trust and sweet content proceed.

    I believe that we all have and cherish such precious memories of reading together with our parents. We give our kids the same gift of happiness. Exploring Panchatantra could be a great new adventure for a special time with them. Luckily, our library owns a variety of entertaining stories from one of the great classics of Indian literature, selected and retold especially for kids. Some of the ACPL copies are:

    I hope, as one of the Panchatantra’s translators, Jamila Gavin (the author of “School for Princes”) stated, “readers will gain some wisdom from these ancient texts, even if they never expect to rule a kingdom!”

    by Emily M | Nov 25, 2015

    aliceinwonderlandIt’s been 150 years this month since Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known by his pseudonym Lewis Carroll, published what is probably the world’s best known piece of literary nonsense (Yes, that’s a real genre!) – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  Originally a short story written for the daughter of close friends of Carroll’s (her name was Alice, of course), he was encouraged to flesh out the story into a complete novel by friends, and the rest is history.  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has been translated into 174 languages and in 150 years, has never once been out of print.  A few years later Carroll wrote the wildly successful sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, which is often published together with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, as if they are one bookTogether the books would inspire adaptations in countless plays, movies, and even comic books.     

    To celebrate Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland's 150th anniversary, here are a few favorite quotes from Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece and its sequel:

    “It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”

    “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

    “Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.”

    “Curiouser and curiouser!”

    “If everybody minded their own business, the world would go around a great deal faster than it does.”

    “I don’t see how he can ever finish, if he doesn’t begin.”

    “At any rate, there’s no harm trying.”

    And of course…

    “Off with their heads!”  


    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 Kay S | Nov 23, 2015
    luck be a ladyI loved this book! When I first read the characters of Nicholas O’Shea and Catherine Everleigh in the previous book, Lady be Good, I wondered just how Meredith Duran was ever going to turn this pair into a romance couple. Well, I’m happy to say all my worries were for naught. What a wonderful couple! Luck Be A Lady is a wonderful romance! Sigh.

    Nicholas O’Shea.
    Sigh. Nicholas O’Shea seemed like such an unlikely hero. In the previous book he was a pretty scary guy. While he is extremely sexy, he also has a bit of Michael Corleone’s ruthlessness about him. But where Michael is clean, Nicholas is dirtier, more rugged, grittier – ah, shucks – he’s one hot scary guy. In Luck Be a Lady we get to see his gentle side. The one hiccup I had with Mr. O’Shea wasn’t his fault, but the author's. She made him a crime lord over Whitechapel and unless I’m wrong, in this time period Whitechapel was a pretty dangerous, seedy place to be, filled with overcrowding, squalor and some pretty notorious murders. I was a little uncomfortable with some of his “do-gooding.” Especially, when in reality, I know how decayed this area of London was at this particular time. However, I rose above my issues.

    Catherine.
    What an interesting character. She is perceived as the “ice queen.” Many men have tried to win her, but she doesn’t want anything to do with them. The little glimpse we have of her as a child, trying desperately to win her father’s esteem, is not only enlightening but very poignant. She is clever, ambitious and beautiful. Her life is Everleigh’s Auction Rooms, an auction house which she and her brother Peter share. Everleigh is Catherine’s true love, her only friend. When this story begins, Peter is trying to take this joy away from her. But she has a plan. Her solution is to find a man who is strong enough to stand up to Peter; someone controlling, someone who doesn’t really care about society, someone ruthless - and marry that someone. Of course, this will be a marriage of convenience. She has it all planned out. Once she’s married she will have control of Everleigh’s Auction Rooms. When she comes up with her grand plan she doesn’t take the man himself into consideration. Since this is Romanceland we all know how marriage of conveniences work. They are usually anything but convenient and it isn’t long before Nicholas and Catherine know that too.

    There is so much in this book. Nicholas and Catherine are from two totally different worlds; they are two totally different people and their relationship shouldn’t work, but it does. Thanks to Ms. Duran, we have been gifted with a pretty powerful love story.

    This is one of the stories this year that is not to be missed! Nicholas is one sexy guy, and ladies/gents watch for the door scene. Catherine is an unlikeable character who is made lovely. And, Peter is truly one slimy, creepy villain/brother. Luck be a Lady gets a high recommendation and I would read this one over again just because I liked it so much.

    Time/Place: 1886 London


    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 Kay | Nov 20, 2015
    Yes, my little petunias it is time for another load of upcoming releases. Here are a few for your perusal and remember these dates are the release date, not the date that the library near you will have them.
    Historical Romance
    h_evans
    Bronwen Evans
    A Whisper of Desire
    Disgraced Lord series
    ebook
    December 1 
    h_harrington
    Anna Harrington
    Dukes are Forever
    The Secret Life of Scoundrels series
    November 14
    h_hoyt Elizabeth Hoyt
    Sweetest Scoundrel
    Maiden Lane series
    November 24
    h_lee Jade Lee
    One Rogue at a Time
    Rakes and Rogues series
    December 1
    h_lord Susanne Lord
    In Search of Scandal
    London Explorers series
    December 1
    h_mccarty Monica McCarty
    The Striker
    Highland Guard series
    November 24
    h_mcQuiston Jennifer McQuiston
    The Spinster's Guide to Scandalous Behavior
    Seduction Diaries series
    November 24
    Contemporary Romance/Mainstream
    c_ashenden
    Jackie Ashenden
    Hold Me Down
    the Deacons of Bourbon Street series
    Contemporary Romance, ebook
    December 8 
    c_asher
    Bridget Asher
    All of Us and Everything
    Mainstream
    November 24
    c_brown Tracy Brown
    White Lines III: All Falls Down
    Mainstream
    November 17
    c_crown Zaire Crown
    Games Women Play
    Mainstream
    November 24
    c_douglas Penelope Douglas
    Misconduct
    Contemporary Romance
    December 1


    c_hayley Elizabeth Hayley
    Just Say Yes
    Strictly Business series
    Contemporary Romance
    December 14
    c_lane Lauren Layne
    Steal Me
    New York’s Finest series
    Contemporary Romance
    November 24
    c_march Kerstin March
    Branching Out
    Sequel to Family Trees
    Mainstream
    November 24
    c_showalter  Gena Showalter
    The Harder You Fall
    The Original Heartbreakers series
    Contemporary Romance
    November 24
    c_trilivas
    Nicole Trilivas, debut
    Girls Who Travel
    Mainstream
    December 1
    c_wells Robin Wells
    The Wedding Tree
    Mainstream
    December 1


    Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Romantic Suspense
    M_baldacci  David Baldacci
    The Guilty
    Will Robbie series
    Thriller
    November 17 
    m_buchman M.L. Buchman
    Target Engaged
    Delta Force series
    Romantic Suspense
    December 1
    m_bywaters Grant Bywaters, debut
    The Red Storm
    Mystery
    December 1
    m_carmack Amanda Carmack
    Murder at Whitehall
    Elizabethan Mystery series
    Mystery
    December 1
    M_delaMotte
    Anders de la Motte
    MemoRandom
    Thriller
    December 1
    m_douglas Kate Douglas
    Intimate
    Intimate Relations Series
    Romanctic Suspense
    December 1

    m_hartwell Sadie Hartwell
    Yarned and Dangerous
    Tangled Web Mystery series
    Mystery
    November 24
    m_james Steven James
    Every Crooked Path
    The Bowers Files series
    Suspense
    December 1
    m_koontz Dean Koontz
    Ashley Bell
    Suspense
    December 8
    m_krentz Jayne Ann Krentz
    Secret Sisters
    Romantic Suspense
    December 8
    m_lloyd Catherine Lloyd
    Death Come to Kurland Hall
    Kurland series
    Mystery
    November 24
    m_macmillan Gilly Macmillan
    What She Knew
    Suspense
    December 1
    m_mizushima Margaret Mizushima
    Killing Trail
    Mystery
    December 8
    m_schofield Douglas Schofield
    Time of Departure
    Mystery
    December 1
    m_tremel Joyce Tremel
    To Brew or Not to Brew
    Brewing Trouble series
    Mystery
    December 1

    Paranormal Romance/Science Fiction/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy
    p_aiken
    G.A. Aiken
    Feel the Burn
    Dragonkin series
    Paranormal Romance
    November 24
    p_baxter
    Kate Baxter
    The Warrior Vampire
    Last True Vampire series
    Paranormal Romance
    December 1
    p_berg Carol Berg
    Ash and Silve
    Sanctuary series
    Fantasy
    December 1
    p_cole Kresley Cole
    Sweet Ruin
    Immortals After Dark series
    Paranormal Romance
    December 1
    p_harrison Thea Harrison
    Shadow's End
    Elder Races series
    Paranormal Romance
    December 1
    p_koch Gini Koch
    Alien in Chief
    Alien series
    Urban Fantasy
    December 1


    p_sagara Michelle Sagara
    Cast in Honor
    Chronicles of Elantra series
    Fantasy
    November 24


    Young Adult
    ya_carter  Aimee Carter
    Queen
    The Blackcoat Rebellion trilogy
    November 11

    ya_dashner
    James Dashner
    The Game of Lives
    Mortality Doctrine series
    November 17 



    ya_kaufman Amie Kaufman
    Meagan Spooner
    Their Fractured Light
    Starbound series
    December 1

    ya_maskame Estelle Maskame
    Did I Mention I Love You?
    Dimily series
    December 1

    Erotica
    e_calhoun Anne Calhoun
    The Muse
    Irresistible series
    December 1 
    e_dane Lauren Dane
    Coming Back
    Ink & Chrome series
    December 8


    Inspiration Romance/Mainstream
    i_camden  Elizabeth Camden
    Until the Dawn
    November 24 
    i_clipston Amy Clipston
    The Forgotten Recipe
    December 8
    i_eide Camille Eide
    The Memoir of Johnny Devine
    ebook
    December 1
    i_hauck  Rachel Hauck
    The Wedding Chapel
    November 17
    by Becky C | Nov 18, 2015
    The Rose GardenBook Review:  The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley

    “Whatever time we have,” he said, “it will be time enough.”

    After her sister dies, Eva returns to the site of many happy childhood memories, Trelowarth House on the Cornish coast.  As she renews old friendships and makes new ones, she finds herself dealing with something she doesn’t understand and can’t share.  She hears voices no one else hears and sees things no one else sees.  At first she thinks she’s losing her sanity but she soon realizes that she’s slipping back and forth in time.

    I loved the setting, the characters, the story – the whole shebang!  Kearsley makes time travel seem possible – not because she spends a lot of time explaining how it happens, but because she focuses on the challenges it presents.  The fact that she creates believable, relatable characters helps too – it was easy for me to fall into the story without worrying too much about the mechanics of things, simply because I cared about the characters and found myself caught up in their stories.

    The Rose Garden is a beautiful blend of past and present which explores the bonds of love, family, and home.  As always, Kearsley creates a strong sense of place and history; as always, she blends romance, mystery, and supernatural elements into a story the reader just can’t put down.  The story also has a neat little twist that I absolutely loved.  Highly recommended!


    Becky CBecky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her thumb has no hint of green whatsoever but luckily her plants are forgiving. Her favorite books are The Shannara series by Terry Brooks.
    by Emily M | Nov 16, 2015

    Looking for a good book recommendation? Look no further!  Here’s a few good books I’ve enjoyed recently:

    The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan by Jenny Nordberg

    Around 2009 U.S. and Sweden-based journalist Jenny Nordberg headed to undergroundgirlsofkabulAfghanistan to see what progress had been made in terms of welfare and rights of Afghani women and girls since 2001.  What she stumbled upon intrigued her: an accepted, yet rarely discussed practice known as bacha posh, in which (usually) prepubescent girls are raised and presented to the world as if they were boys.  This has nothing to do with sexual identity or being transgender, but concerns the social, political, and economic advantages that come to the individual child, as well as the entire family, when one is a boy.  Nordberg not only delves into the varied reasons why families choose this path for their daughters, but also explores the effect of being born a second class citizen (female), being elevated to a position of privilege (male), and then being forced back into a place of oppression (female) on these girls as they transition into adulthood.  Fascinating, eye-opening, and ultimately heart-breaking, I highly recommend this book.

    A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

    Pulitzer Prize- winning Tyler delivers a lovely and engaging novel about the spoolofbluethreadWhitshank family.  Written in non-chronological order, Tyler slowly reveals the secrets of four generations of this Baltimore family.  I loved and hated the ending of this book for the same reason:  I hated it because it didn’t give me the resolution that I wanted and loved it because, just like in real life, there was no easy resolution.  A Spool of Blue Thread deals beautifully with the difficult and messy dynamics of family.

    The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin   

    A.J. Fikry is a depressed widower who owns a failing bookstore and has had his storiedlifeofajfikryprized possession, a rare collection of Edgar Allan Poe poems, stolen, but his life turns around when a baby is abandoned on his doorstep.  For some readers, this book may come off as one giant cliché, but I found it managed to stay endearingly sweet, if somewhat unrealistic.  An easy, enjoyable read, my favorite part of this book was the last page and a half.  The ending should have been quite sad, but instead, the author chooses to remind the reader that out of every ending is the possibility for a fresh, new beginning. 

    What about you?  What good books have you read recently that our readers might enjoy?



    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 Becky C | Nov 13, 2015
    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!

    Driftless Area
    Winning the Money Game
     
     Black Noon
     Midnight in Siberia
     Furiously Happy
     Better Than Before
     The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
     The Marvels
     The Earth Avails



    Becky CBecky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her thumb has no hint of green whatsoever but luckily her plants are forgiving. Her favorite books are The Shannara series by Terry Brooks.
    by Kay S | Nov 11, 2015
    What to do with a dukeWhat to Do With a Duke is the first in Sally MacKenzie’s new series called Spinster House. While I was not all that enthralled with her last Naked series, I like Ms. MacKenzie’s humor enough to pick up her latest.

    What we have in What to Do With a Duke is a curse, a cat, and a spinster or a should I say a trio of spinsters.

    The curse is that all of the Dukes of Hart will die before the birth of their heir, unless the curse is broken by “true love.” The curse must be true because when this story begins it has been going on for 200 years. So, it comes as no surprise that the current Duke of Hart, Marcus, is in no hurry to walk down the matrimonial isle. However, he is lonely, blue and sad. He doesn’t know what the problem is, but something is missing in his life – except matrimonial-minded women. These women keep throwing themselves at him in the hopes of entrapping him into the bonds of marriage. Which is what happens when this story begins. Another woman has tried to trap him, she is caught with her clothes half off and him standing over her. Her outraged father tries to force him into marriage, but Marcus says a firm no, nope, never and in so doing creates a small scandal. It is at this time that Marcus and his two friends, Nate and Alex, decide now would be a good time to take a hike. Before they do Marcus receives word from his estate that he needs to choose the next spinster of Spinster House.

    Now this is part of the story that is a little confusing. There is a house on Marcus’ property that was established by the same woman who put a curse on the Dukes of Hart. I’m a little unclear as to why she established this house, because it doesn’t have anything to do with the curse, but there is a magical cat that lives there. In between licking its hind quarters, the cat communes with people and walks around the house as if it owns it. Anyway, back to the Spinster House. For some reason there has been a spinster living in the house for 200 years. Not the same spinster - that would be silly because there’s no such thing as a 200-year-old spinster. I think. Anyway, for some reason the Dukes of Hart must be the ones who choose which spinster lives in the house. In the past there has always been only one woman interested in living in that house, so Marcus believes that he won’t be at his estate all that long. Then he and his friends (future heroes), can go traipsing off for a walk through the countryside.  Enter Catherine, aka Cat.

    Poor Catherine lives in a house with nine other siblings, or most of them since two of them are married. Even though Catherine has been raised in a loving family, she is tired of sharing space with them. She is tired of the noise, the sharing of a bed, the disorder. She can’t write her great novel because of the constant cacophony. She wants the Spinster House. Who should arrive on her father’s doorstep? Well, you see Marcus must talk to the Vicar (Cat’s father) before he can choose the spinster. Well, Catherine jumps at the chance to become the spinster of Spinster House. Marcus doesn’t have a problem with it either, less work for his brain to do. So they agree, however there is a fly in the ointment (or should I say “flies”). Two of Cat’s friends, Jane and Anne, want to be by themselves also. I’m assuming we will find out when their books come out what their reasoning is. Now Marcus has three women to choose from for the Grand Spinster job. It is written in a contract somewhere that they must draw straws to choose who will be the spinster if there is more than one applicant. Cat wins the draw. It is at this time that Cat finds out what friendship is all about, because her friends turn into vicious harpies. They become frenemies and start some really nasty gossip about Cat.

    There was a lot going on in this book, a lot of humor but also a number of things that irritated me. Let’s start with Cat. Even though she is surrounded by a crowd of people, she is really a self-centered person. She has no conception of how her leaving the loving, affectionate family will upset her younger siblings. She has never let on how much she wants to leave, so it comes has quite a shock when she announces it at the dinner table. Her lack of perception makes her a very unlikeable heroine. The only saving grace at this point is that when she finally moves into the Spinster House, she is unable to do any writing because of the quiet. Spoilers ahead. While we are talking about Cat, let me just say this: she turns into one of those heroines who cannot marry the hero. At first it’s because she wants to be alone, but then it’s because if she does he will die. The curse only works if there is marriage and a baby. I found Cat to be a very tiresome character.

    Speaking of tiresome, let’s turn our attention to Marcus. Yes, Marcus the cursed Duke who can never hold his heir because of the curse. He is doomed, doomed, doomed. Of course he could marry for love, but he doesn’t know what that is, even when it’s staring him in the face. He is downright depressing. But that doesn’t stop his overactive Mr. Toad from erupting every time Cat enters the room. No sirree, Marcus’ trousers were constantly tented. And, while we are talking about tents, let’s talk about a “c” word which rhymes with rock. Let me say right up front, I am not offended by this word. I’ve read enough romances to become almost immune to the word. But here’s the problem: Marcus thought about his “c” a lot. Everywhere he went it was up – all the time. But did it ever get to do anything? Nooooo. Did the heroine ever notice it? Noooooo. Was there enough sensuality in the book for this troublesome creature to blend into? Nooooo. It was like a sore thumb just flopping around in the breeze and didn’t really have a purpose. Except it did concern Marcus – a lot.

    Writhing.
    What’s with all the heroines writhing around? Almost all the heroines in the romance books I’ve read lately are writhing. The word even looks odd. Someone needs to hold these poor ladies down. How can any of those poor heroes find any orifices with all the squirming that’s going on?

    Gossip.
    There was some really mean and explicit gossip in this book. There were all these supporting characters who were asking mighty explicit questions. I think that maybe they were supposed to be humorous, but I had to raise my eyebrows and question the kind of questions coming out of the mouths of these women from this time period. Sure there were busybody, in-your-face women in this time period, but I think they hid their words behind other words. Words that would have the same meaning but not fall so harshly on one's ears.

    Finally, yes finally, I am almost done with my rambling. We have a stupid misunderstanding, jump to the wrong conclusion moment in this book. It is the heroine who jumps to the wrong conclusion and throws a tantrum. She jumps to the wrong conclusion about the woman who caused the scandal in the beginning of the book. It was silly and not needed. One last thing – where’s the epilogue? Yes, we believe Cat and Marcus love each other and that the curse is broken and that he won’t die. But, gee-willikers we need to have it in black and white right in front of our faces. I needed to see a baby bouncing on Marcus’ knee to be satisfied.

    I was disappointed in What to Do With a Duke. There wasn’t any chemistry between Marcus and Cat. Marcus was overly concerned with his Mr. Toad and for no particular reason because he seemed to be the only one who knew he had one. The “I can’t marry you” routine became tiresome. The secondary female friends were mean. Not even the humor in this book could save it for me.


    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 Craig B | Nov 09, 2015
    image via Syndetics

    I was still too upset about that ‘dancer’ song from The Killers’ Day & Age to bother with Mr. Flower’s first solo album, Flamingo, in 2010, so, needless to say, I was super unsure about this second solo album, The Desired Effect, upon checking it out the other day. 

    Now, however, I am pleased to declare that I found Mr. Flowers’ The Desired Effect surprisingly tolerable.  More than that even.  It grew on me.  I mean, once I got my CD player to cooperate (see, by then all of my “other” CDs had migrated indoors and it was the only CD left in my car anyway). With a few musical "whiffs" of Mr. Phil Collins and even "The Boss" the album strikes out strong, borne aloft by (dare I say) remarkable lyricism and brave execution, and, for me, achieves its "desired effect"; assuming that effect is to make me indulge in a quick punch-dance or two.

    Suggested Use: I don't know.  Need something to grow on you?  Craving a parasitical experience?  Give this a try.  You may find that that parasite actually has something to offer in return.  Like an episode of cathartic and invigorating … punch-dancing.




    craig 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 Emily M | Nov 05, 2015

    Editor's Note:  This was originally posted on March 13, 2015.  It seems particularly timely this month as the last installment of one of the most popular post-apocalyptic book/movie series ever, Mockingjay Part 2, will be appearing in theaters this month. 

    Am I the only one who has the tendency to get stuck in a genre rut? Over and over again I find myself knee-deep in a stack of related books, searching for the best of the best in that genre, before tiring of it and moving on to something new. A year ago I was reading every Holocaust memoir I could get my hands on, but for the last few months, I just can’t get enough of post-apocalyptic sci-fi.

    I love post-apocalyptic sci-fi because it deals with such a fascinating question: how do you survive when society collapses? What do you do when there’s no electricity or running water, no gas at the gas station, no food to buy at the grocery store, no police to call when you’ve been victimized, no fire department to put out fires, no doctors or hospitals when you’re sick or injured? Here are a few novels I’ve read recently that deal with these harrowing questions:

    Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

    This is the type of post-apocalyptic sci-fi you recommend to your friend who is convinced she doesn’t like post-apocalyptic sci-fi. In fact, after reading the first chapter of this book, I went back and read the synopsis on the book jacket, just to verify that this book was indeed what I thought it was, as there was nothing even remotely post-apocalyptic or sci-fiish about the entire first chapter. In fact, a substantial portion of Station Eleventhis non-linear novel is set pre-disaster. This gentle introduction into the post-apocalyptic world makes it an excellent choice for newbies, not only because it spends huge chunks of time pre-apocalyptic, but because it truly is a literary novel. The language is beautiful, rhythmic, evoking images and sensations with its prose. Anyone who appreciates good writing will find much to enjoy in this book.

    But for those who are interested in the action, here’s the rundown: Mandel’s story follows the marginally interwoven fates of several individuals (some who do and some who do not survive the deadly “Georgia Flu” that spreads like wildfire and wipes out most of the earth’s population in days) both before and after the disaster. Each of their stories is unique and interesting, not only in terms of what happens to them when the flu hits, but their lives before the disaster as well. Mandel includes interesting details in her world that I’ve not seen in other works in this genre, such as a traveling troupe of Shakespearean actors that doubles as a symphony, and a museum of now obsolete pre-disaster artifacts (credit cards, iPhones, a motorcycle, etc.) located in an airport. Also unique to this genre, Mandel is able to portray a general feeling of hopefulness, rather than the usual desperation, lawlessness, and despair. Beautiful writing, believable characters, and excellent pacing make this a highly recommended read.

    The Road by Cormac McCarthy

    First, if you’ve never read anything by McCarthy, I think it’s important to inform you of a few of his quirks: he doesn’t like chapters or punctuation. There are no chapter breaks or quotation marks in the entire book. Now, personally, I am a huge fan of both chapter breaks and punctuation. I believe chapter breaks are important in terms of pacing and that punctuation helps create meaning in written language in the same way that The Roadnonverbal cues (pauses, intonation, etc.) create meaning in spoken language.   However, since McCarthy won a Pulitzer prize for The Road and I have not won a Pulitzer prize, I will bow to his expertise on the matter. With that said, if you’re used to the normal conventions of writing in English, McCarthy can be a bit difficult to read for the first few pages, but I encourage you to persevere.

    The Road is the story of a nameless man and his son traveling around a devastated United States in search of food. McCarthy gives us very little backstory, but the reader can infer that the characters are living in a world that has been so destroyed by some sort of nuclear disaster that no plants can grow. No plants mean no food, so our protagonist and his boy are constantly scavenging for canned and dried food leftover from before the nuclear disaster. In addition to battling hunger and cold, the lack of a food supply has resulted in many people turning to cannibalism, making everyone they encounter a threat. Like Station Eleven, this is a literary novel, and McCarthy is able to create a bleak, desolate, visceral world into which he transports the reader. My one complaint about this book is that I found the ending a bit unlikely, but I know others feel differently, so I’ll leave you to decide.

    The Stand by Stephen King

    I don’t normally read Stephen King because I’m not a big fan of horror, but when someone mentioned that The Stand is actually post-apocalyptic sci-fi, I decided to give it a try. The Stand was originally released in 1978, then rereleased in 1990, with some of the text that had been cut for brevity from the original version added back in and a few other small changes made.

    In The Stand, a strand of flu which has been altered to use as biological warfare is The Standaccidentally leaked from a U.S. military base and wipes out the majority of the country’s population in weeks. In the first of the book’s three sections, multiple storylines of several major characters are introduced. I found this section of the book most interesting, as it describes what life is like for each of the characters as they survive while everyone around them is dying. In the second section of the book, survivors are drawn through dreams to one of two survivors, Mother Abigail or Randall Flagg, and begin traveling across the country to reach them. In this section of the book, the religious symbolism becomes obvious, with Mother Abigail representing God and Randall Flagg representing Satan. In the final section of the book, the two groups face off to determine who will take control of the development of a new society. If you like a little horror mixed in with your sci-fi, The Stand is an excellent choice.

    Bonus:  A few weeks ago I wrote about Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler, another post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel.  You can read more about it here.

    What about you? Have you read any good post-apocalyptic sci-fi recently? Or maybe you’ve been reading a different genre you’d like to tell us about. We would love to hear about it!


    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 Stephanie | Nov 02, 2015
    • 2015 Author Fair 2015-author-fair
    • Main Library
    • November 14, 2015
    • 1:00 pm -- 4:00 pm

    Come to the Main Library on November 14th for the chance to chat with published authors, buy their books, and attend panel discussions on writing and self-publishing!

    1:00 pm -- DIY:  Successful Self-Publishing

    2:00 pm -- Write on!  Steps to Fabulous Fiction

    3:00 pm -- Get Real.  Writing the Real Stuff


    Free gift wrapping will be available and a percentage of the sales will go to the Friends of the Allen County Public Library.

    For more information, contact Trish Downey or Megan Bell in the Readers' Services Department at 260-421-1235.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Look who's coming to the author fair!

    Victor Baird     Website

    Laura VanArendonk Baugh     Website  Facebook  Twitter

    John Baumgartner     Website

    Christel Behnke Gehlert      Website 

    Forrest Bowman

    Duke Brown

    John Bunker     Website 1  Website 2

    Carol Butler

    Betty Miller Buttram

    Cliff Buttram

    Stephanie Cain     Website  Facebook  Twitter

    Betty Casbeer Carroll

    Pati Chandler

    Dawn Crandall

    MB Dabney     Website  Facebook  Twitter

    Pat Deihl

    Les Edgerton     Website  Blog  Facebook

    Raquel Escobedo-Hanic

    Krista Estell

    L. Barnett Evans

    Skye Falcon     Website  Facebook  Twitter

    Tricia Fields     Website  Facebook  Twitter

    Sheila Gagen     Blog

    Laurie Gray

    Eric Hackley

    Cheri Hallwood     Website  Facebook

    Randolph Harter

    Nick Hayden

    Margaret Hobson

    Jacqueline Howard

    Thomas Ireland     Facebook  Twitter

    Jeremiah Israel

    Kyra Jacobs     Website  Blog  Facebook

    Robert Johnson     Blog  Facebook  Twitter

    Barbara Jones

    C. David Jones

    Saundra Jones

    JJ Keller

    Alicia Renee Kline     Website  Facebook  Twitter

    Frank Kreml

    Ruth Langhinrichs

    K.B. Laugheed      Website  Facebook  Twitter

    Brandy Leigh

    Craig Leonard

    Bill Levy

    Nicole Ley

    Linda Mansfield     Website  Blog  Facebook   

    Nathan Marchand     Website  Facebook  Twitter               

    Ray McCune

    Alan  McPherson

    Monica Koldyke Miller

    Barbara Olenyik Morrow     Facebook

    Doris Moyers – H.

    Kristine Papillon     Facebook

    Elizabeth Perona     Website  Facebook  Twitter

    Tony Perona     Website  Facebook  Twitter

    David Poling

    Judith Post     Website

    Karen Pressler     Website 1  Website 2

    Doris Gaines Rapp

    T’Gracie and Joe Reese

    L.A. Reminicky      Website  Facebook  Twitter

    Kayleen Reusser

    C. V. Rhodes

    M.L. Rigdon

    Gabrielle Robinson     Website  Facebook

    Robert Rogers    Website  Blog  Facebook

    Greg Smith

    Ali Noel Vyain   Website

    Bob Wearley     Website

    Michelle Weidenbenner     Blog  Facebook  Twitter    

    Kathryn Young

    Alexandra Moss Zannis     Website  Facebook

    Melanie Wright Zeeb

    Tina Zion


    by David W | Oct 30, 2015

    In the tenebrous charnel lane, a lithe shadow flits among the tombstones like an eel slithering its way through murky waters.  Your heart quickens, starting to match the frenetic patter of your bootsoles against the cobblestones.  Clack-clack.  Your heels, or the sound of claws, gnarled and stained by grave dirt rapping against a tombstone.  As the moon whispers its soft light along the path, two points of light scream back in a piercing voice that cuts you straight to the bone; two feral fangs flying forth from the shadows and piercing through the veil of the living.  The catafalque of the undead seems to cover you as you sink to the ground, gazing into the preternatural eyes of your slayer, your mourner, the lone officiant at your funeral.  A gasp escapes your numbing lips, one last Canticle Maledictus.  "Vampire."

    Vampires have woven a spell that enchants our imaginations.  Whether they inhabit worlds of horror, extravagance, romance, or all of the above, the allure of the undead is inescapable.  Though they started out in folklore as the blood-hungry undead monsters, ravenous corpses in grave clothes seeking to return to the living, many writers from Bram Stoker to Anne Rice have spun a much more romantic mystique around them.  The Twilight series was either a high or low point in vampire fiction depending on who you ask, but now that the pentalogy of films has come and gone, vampires can once again grace the screen in a way that doesn't immediately call to mind sparkly skin and copious mouth breathing.  For those once more looking to be seduced by the undead, here are a few recent films to pique your interest.

    A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

    agwhaanIranian-American director Ana Lily Amirpour describes her film A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night as "the first Iranian vampire spaghetti western."  It was shot in a small southern California town, prominently features skateboarding, and contains music from Armenian-American hip-hop artist Bei Ru.  This is your classic tale of a morally ambiguous drifter by way of French New Wave through a filter of neo-noir sensibilities and 80's flavored post-punk nihilism.  The influences are diverse and many, but part of the appeal of this film is that you don't have to think of any of these things to enjoy it.  This is a movie that slowly washes over you, delivering its tale of crime, drugs, and blood drinking at a slow burn that may make some impatient, but provides the enraptured with just what they crave.

    Somewhat surprisingly, this film is a love story at its core between the wry and scrappy Arash (Arash Marandi) and the doe-eyed and mysterious Girl (Sheila Vand).  These characters inhabit the streets of Bad City, a place where corpses lie in ditches in the street and those who possess much prey upon those with little for the celebration of their own vices.  Arash struggles to make a life that he can be proud of, but is held down by his slovenly father whose addiction and debt has cast the attention of local drug lords upon their household.  He soon encounters the titular Girl, who appears to him as another disaffected soul with a penchant for skateboarding and gloomy music, but who hides a darker, bloodthirsty secret.

    This one's available on the Hoopla streaming service at the time of writing, so you can give it watch without ever leaving the house.  Good thing, because you never know who might be following you...

    Only Lovers Left Alive

    ollaFans of Anne Rice need look no further than Jim Jarmusch's Only Lover's Left AliveTilde Swinton embodies the role of Eve so perfectly with her ethereal, androgynous beauty, and Tom Hiddleston lends his moody presence to Adam.  We are given a glimpse into the lives of this vampire couple who have been together for centuries and who are, though apart at times, still deeply in love.  This film does wink and nudge towards the larger idea of vampirism in this movie (several historical characters are suggested to be vampires, one of who we meet), but what makes this movie shine is its quality as a vignette of these two characters' lives.  We get glimpses of the ever-present ennui of immortality, the futility of trying to express through music what others can truly never understand, and a view of love as the last shelter from all the dissatisfaction the world heaps upon you.  Director Jim Jarmusch delivers as much a vampire story as a gloomy and disaffected tone poem, an impression through film that doesn't so much tell a story as impresses it upon the viewer.

    Those seeking a snappy or satisfying narrative are sure to find too many longueurs here, but if you've ever spent a rainy day reading Edgar Allan Poe or gotten lost in the thrumming dolor of Siouxsie and the Banshees, this film is a welcome companion piece.  While the mood is the main attraction, there is a narrative here.  The film gets a late act injection of drama when Eve, having rejoined Adam at his cloister of a home in Detroit, is forced to deal with her sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) whose reckless and ravenous behavior soon threatens to undo the secrecy for which Adam strives  Still, a character study of the relationship between two immortal beings is the best way to describe this film, and if that sounds appealing, check this film out ASAP.

    The Strain

    strainVampires are monstrous creatures, and if there's one modern filmmaker who understands monsters it's Guillermo del Toro.  Whether it's the wholly unique masterpiece Pan's Labyrinth, the fun kaiju love letter Pacific Rim, or his two Hellboy adaptations, del Toro fills the screen with creatures that seem equal parts grotesque, innovative, and somewhat traditional.  Not one to limit himself to a single medium, del Toro brings us The Straina television adaptation of the series of novels written by himself and Chuck Hogan.

    The Strain is an interesting blend of genre conventions and tropes that layer upon each other in ways you haven't quite seen before.  Pulling from modern versions of undead fiction (typically zombies), The Strain revolves around a parasitic virus that turns its victims into bloodsucking fiends.  That may lead you to believe that this biological threat would not be tied to a single being, an Old World vampiric master who holds the lesser undead in his thrall.  You'd be wrong.  What starts as a possible quarantine situation for CDC agent Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll) turns him into an surprisingly capable  vampire hunter.  He crosses paths with Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley), a holocaust survivor who acts as this series Van Helsing and carriers a vendetta against the icy German Thomas Eichorst (Richard Sammel) whose lack of aging since World War II stands as evidence to his preternatural abilities.

    Make no mistake, for all of the slow, brooding vampire fiction I've brought up unto this point, this is definitely the most over-the-top, but also the most uneven.  The show tries to play with overarching philosophical and religious themes that lend pathos to the ongoing struggle, but lines such as the hacker Dutch spouting "I'm the only one that can slow the internet down to worse than dial up," force you to confront the numerous plot conveniences and silly shortcuts that hobble this show from being more than a fun ride for fans of the horror genre.  Regardless, where the show succeeds it is top notch.  Del Toro creates a scenario that slowly ratchets up the tension over the course of the first season, showing an unsuspecting Manhattan slowly spiral into chaos as the newborn vampires start to proliferate beneath the city streets (as we learned from Whodini, the freaks come out at night).  The show recently ran its second season and has been renewed for a third, so if this show clicks for you, you'll have a lot more to enjoy.

    What We Do in the Shadows

    whatIf vampires are real, it can't all be ancient curses and romantic brooding.  Who's going to take care of the blood-stained dishes?  How does having to be invited over the threshold impact what night clubs you can get into?  Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) and Taika Waititi (Boy) address all of these pressing questions in What We Do in the Shadows, a mockumentary that follows a trio of vampires around Wellington, New Zealand.  We also get to meet Petyr, the 8,000 year old master vampire who looks like he stepped straight out of Nosferatu, a pack of werewolves who naturally are at odds with the undead, and The Beast, a rival creature so nefarious that Vladislav (Clement) dare not speak their true name.

    Several sections of this movie could be pulled out and presented as complete, hilarious sketches in their own right, and the movie does a decent job of stringing these uproarious moments together into a loose narrative.  It's all very silly at points, but where it takes a step beyond is not merely that these characters are vampires that are presenting their world to a camera crew, but that they know they are presenting to a crew.  This movie not only nails the lampooning of vampire tropes, it nails the mannerisms of people who are presenting themselves to the camera and trying to add their own flourishes of drama to the proceedings.  The over-saturation of reality television has provided fertile ground for spoofs, but this portrayal of on screen amateurs mugging it for the camera is a cut above.  Bloody, charming, hilarious and off beat, this is definitely one worth checking out.


    Now that I've suggested some recent vampire entertainment, what are your favorite films and shows that feature vampires?  If you crave even more, you can't go wrong with Park Chan-wook's Thirst, Tomas Alfredson's Let the Right One In, or the surprisingly good Interview with the Vampire (which fans of the book will forever remain split on).  Leave a comment below, and please share this article with your friends if you enjoyed reading it.



    davidDavid loves all sorts of film and music with a soft spot for schlocky B-horror movies, anything with Patrick Swayze, and preposterous concept albums. He adores James Joyce and Virginia Wolfe foremost, but has plenty of Neil Gaiman, Seamus Heaney, and Stephen Jay Gould on his bookshelf as well. Feel free to get in touch with him if you want to argue the merits of why The Fountain should be better regarded among Aronofsky's works or which of The Lord Weird Slough Feg's albums is the best. ​

    by Becky C | Oct 28, 2015
    CollageH

    We've all been there -- the dvds you were hoping to check out are already checked out to someone else.  Sigh -- but wait -- ACPL offers a streaming movie service, Hoopla.  Have you tried it yet?  If not, you'll want to.  ACPL resident library cardholders can borrow up to ten movies each month, free of charge.  You can borrow each title for 72 hours.  Those under 18 may borrow movies rated G through PG-13.

    You can search for a specific title or scroll through the various categories.  This weekend, my kiddos and I will probably pick something from the Halloween for Kids​  category, especially if the weather turns out to be as frightful as the forecasts indicate.

    Hoopla requires you to sign up or register for an account using your email address, a password you create for Hoopla, and your library card number.  Once you have created your Hoopla account, you will Sign In with your email address and the password you created.

    In addition to Hoopla, ACPL also offers resident library cardholders Flipster Magazine, Freegal Music, and Overdrive ebooks/audiobooks.  Have you tried them?  If so, what do you think?



    Becky CBecky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her thumb has no hint of green whatsoever but luckily her plants are forgiving. Her favorite books are The Shannara series by Terry Brooks.
    by Evan | Oct 23, 2015
    Third Way

    One of the differences between the United States and Canada was highlighted Oct. 19 when the Canadians shocked themselves at the polls. It wasn’t so much that the ruling Conservatives lost but that the Liberals – who had been the third-place party in Parliament – soared to a huge victory.  What third place party in the United States is ever going to break through what many now see as our two-party gridlock?

    The difference isn’t quite as great as it seems. The Liberals have long been the party that traded power with the Conservatives. They just happened to have fallen far behind the true third party – the NDP -- in the 2011 election. Still, it did look earlier this year as though the NDP might gain power itself, which no U.S. third party has done since before the Civil War.

    (Of course, the bigger difference between our countries is that the political leader in Parliament also runs the government, while we have our separation of powers. Imagine how things would be here if the speaker of the house also was president of the United States. I bet John Boehner wouldn’t have resigned from that!)

    The nearest thing to a national third party Americans have had for many years is the Libertarians, but they’ve always struck me as people more interested in political philosophy than in hands-on politics. The libertarian emphasis on personal freedom, however, has played a prominent role in 21st century politics. Republicans appeal to libertarians on such topics as gun rights and low taxes while Democrats seek their support by championing gay marriage and liberalized marijuana laws.

    Here are some of the books we have for you that explore this key dynamic leading up to our own national leadership election next year:

    The Conservatarian Manifesto: Libertarians, Conservatives and the Fight for the Right’s Future by Charles C. W. Cooke

    Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State by Ralph Nader

    Why Nudge?: The Politics of Libertarian Paternalism by Cass R. Sunstein

    Don’t Hurt People and Don’t Take Their Stuff: A Libertarian Manifesto by Matt Kibbe.




    EvanEvan - Married, three children, two grandchildren, formerly a newspaper journalist, now a public librarian, at all times a board game nut.