Skip to main content

As You Like It

Literary news, book reviews
and more…   rss-icon 

    by Kayla W | Oct 30, 2017

    Dark Forest image via pixaby

    We are lucky to have a fine back catalog of horror films, both in the sense of our modern world, but also literally, in terms of what ACPL has gathered.  I know that those of us who have been fortunate to see the great horror produced just fifteen years ago look at the current trend of over-produced, high budget work and we might think, “Really?”.  But it is that defeatist attitude that we must persevere through! 

    And what a truly blessed year it is for the genre!  With the remake of It, as well as the thoroughly entertaining The Cult of Chucky, horror movies are once again starting to claw their way out of the pit that the PG-13 soft death of the genre had ascribed them to.

    Purely rhetorical though it may be to ask, what, exactly, is the appeal of a horror movie?   

    To me, a horror film is often best characterized by one of two things: a sense of charm and an interesting point of view.  At least in my opinion, how “terrifying” something is doesn’t really account for much.  I feel like the horror genre in particular has to be approached by the would-be creator with a humble sense of self-knowledge, no matter how dirty and cheap or clean and stream-lined the project is.  In some of the most famous cases, even purposefully playing on one’s own phobias as well as a DIY mentality to the whole process made necessary by a low budget - made famous by the likes of The Evil Deadmakes for some of the most famous and well-regarded work in the genre’s canonThis is not a universal truth, but it is a large part of the appeal of the genre to me. 

    Below you will find a list that I consider to be some of the best that horror movies have to offer, ones that I purposefully chose to point out as great starting points for people interested in the genre.  And I realize only now how much I love the magical realism or the shock of the monsters that Spanish-speaking countries have provided over the years.  Oh well, at least I am capable of owning up to my biases.

    The Cabin in the WoodsA sincere celebration of everything wonderful and horrible about the genre - The Cabin in the Woods. Is this movie a testament to the fact that people making horror movies aren’t thinking outside of the box, allowing this movie to still remain notable for everything truly groundbreaking that it managed to accomplish in its run time, or is it truly as fantastic a movie as many say it is?  Either way, if you’re interested in a blood-and-guts send up/parody of seemingly the whole genre, this movie should not be passed up.

     

    Mulholland DriveDavid Lynch’s reputation precedes him  Mulholland Dr. This movie is a solid introduction to the specific sense of nightmare logic that Lynch has perfected.  It may very well be the seminal work that is moored to what resembles a reality that an audience can identify with – to a point.  In my opinion, this work could be classified among his most unnerving.  It is worth watching before diving headfirst into his particular strange mixture of dark human id, where dream and superstition can transfigure things into something very, very dark and strange.

    The Devils BackboneThe moody ghost story brother to Pan’s Labyrinth’s tragic fairy story - The Devil’s BackboneOne of magical realist Guillermo del Toro's lesser known films, it is invaluable as a truly tense, emotional, and dark entry point into his body of work.  This movie that exemplifies del Toro’s unique talents: his eye for taking the fantastic and the macabre, as well as a deep-abiding love of not just outsiders, but monsters, and making them hauntingly beautiful and tragic. 

     

    RecordingFound footage horror at its very best - Rec (Red Light)Replicated to far less effect with an “Americanized” version, this movie features a cast that is both believable and likeable.  The threat is far more effective than the English-language version whipped up to appeal to people with a fear of subtitles.  Seeing this film and the reigning king (queen?) of “found footage” horror, The Blair Witch Project, reminds me of the appeal this type of horror holds.  It truly feels as though you are trapped with a threat that is not just physically overpowering, but is also metaphysical in origin.

     

    VoidCosmic horror done in a way that has long since been abandoned by big Hollywood productions - The Void. Lovecraftian horror is a specialty that is rarely done well these days, let alone when it’s not tempered with comedy.   This movie feels like it’s a throwback to the days when studios knew how to spend the oftentimes meagre budget set aside for their movie, and spent it on quality actors and creating an ambiance throughout the film that haunts you. 

     

    They Look Like PeopleTrue horror bleeds through horrific fantasy – They Look Like PeopleThere are certain people who are basically all but immune to the experience of a movie, due to the fact that they shrug and say, “well, it’s just a movie.”  The stuff happening on screen is just too fantastic or out there to feel “real” to them.  I recommend this movie to those type of people, especially to those who were disappointed by the depictions of mental illness in Split.  This is a tense one that I should recommend with a trigger warning for how much it does key into the very real transformation of reality into something nightmarish and sinister for someone suffering from intense, untreated paranoia.

     

    What We Do in the ShadowsThis does for vampires what This is Spinal Tap did for rock n’ roll – What We Do in the ShadowsWhether or not you’re a The Flight of the Conchords fan, I feel safe in saying that if you’re a lover of the strange comedy of a Christopher Guest movie, then you’re sure to have a fantastic time watching this palate cleanser of a pseudo-biopic documentary.  Silly would be putting this movie mildly.

     

    A good flick in the vein of 80’s kids’ moviesMonster House. Monster House  A CGI piece with an utmost respect for the Halloween spirit, this movie has a credit list to be proud of. The screenplay was co-written by cult favorites Rob Schrab and Dan Harmon and production credits go to Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg.  This movie has a ton of charm, humor, and heart, and darn it, but it does my blackened heart good to see a movie about old-fashioned stake-outs and breaking and entering – for kids!

     

    The SimilarsA much-celebrated return of physical effects and slow-building dread in (mostly) black and white – The SimilarsIf the cover art didn’t give it away, this movie wears its vintage-era influence on its sleeve.  To me, however, this movie has less to do with the Hammer Horror-era and more to do with Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone.  It deserves more praise beyond even how it accomplishes the goal of raising up the same moody nightmarish tension of the best Twilight Zone episodes, however, as the purposeful and scant uses of color and the moments of genuine shock indicate the work of a truly mindful and creative team that worked on this film.


    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 Kayla W | Oct 27, 2017

    Spooky Castle image via pixaby

    This is my month.  Although I was haunted in my childhood by a certain scene from A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 4, I have grown incredibly difficult to scare, and, as an added benefit, I may or may not any longer have human emotions.  Yay!

    The upside is that I feel comfortable recommending things that have a macabre flavor to them. That’s not to say that horror needs to rely solely on how “terrifying” it can be (that, dear friends, is almost purely based on someone’s personal taste).  On the contrary, the horror that sticks most with me usually didn’t terrify me, but I might have been thoroughly entertained or chilled by it.  Or, I might have laughed hard at it.    To be frank, when it comes to the genre and the subgenres of Horror, it tends to be the sort of thing you love, hate, or are indifferent to almost immediately.    Sometimes you don’t feel a liking for a certain style or subgenre of Horror, and that’s okay.  But, does it hurt to experiment with some new styles?

    In that spirit, I have decided to offer a sampler of some of my favorite books that I feel are a great place to start with their specific subgenres.  Each cover and title have been linked to the ACPL catalog, so feel free to check out all of these for yourself.  I focused on underrated or cultish pieces, so hopefully even if you’re already a connoisseur of the macabre, you’ll find something to enjoy this season.   Dive in below for a surface level list of recommendations, tailored for the horror-curious.

    American Gothic TalesA taste test of the best that Americans have to offer - American Gothic TalesA collection of short pieces, curated and edited by Joyce Carol Oates.  As the title implies, this collection focuses on the subgenre of Gothicism, with a chronological bent towards the American fixation on the genre. You got your Poe and Lovecraft, but you’ll also get some Thomas Ligotti, Shirley Jackson, and favorite short stories of mine by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Sylvia Plath.  I could not recommend a better starting place for anyone interested in the genre, let alone Gothic Horror.

    Fragments of HorrorPure strange and disquieting nightmare fuel – Fragments of Horror If you’ve never had a chance to experience the work of Manga artist Junji Ito, then allow me to welcome you to a voice in the genre so potently, truly imaginative in how he terrifies and entertains you, that you might find it hard to be affected this thoroughly by anything else you’ll come across.   This is an artist who taps into the deepest vein of nightmare logic, body horror, and at times bizarre, laugh-out-loud comedy that intermingles tragedy, disgust, and farce.  This collection of shorts is a great start for someone new to the artist, but it doesn’t include the show-stopper for which he is perhaps best known for, “The Enigma of Amigara Fault”.  Still absolutely chilling!

    The Ocean at the End of the LaneSometimes your memories are too eerie to re-examine - The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Although I find Neil Gaiman’s work to be on the bloated and somewhat emotionally drab side, I have to admit that when the man is pressed to be succinct, he can make something beautiful – or truly disturbing – happen.  Although his best known work, the comic book series The Sandman, is something that cannot be ignored (or at your own peril), after having read the more recent piece by the man, I have to admit to being inspired by his light touch with the scary elements.

    Rose MadderThe American Dream of matrimony is sometimes a nightmare - Rose MadderAlthough King is already a household name – and growing more so, with the recent, popular re-make of It – to me, his best, most poignant work has always featured strong female protagonists.  The books that, unfortunately, do not seem to get as much attention as his others.  Among those books that I have had the chance to read, this one has stuck with me the strongest.  Carrying themes of marital abuse and a hope for recovery in the face of an overpowering spouse, this book rings out with much the same themes presented in The Shining, but with a much more disquieting, unflinching focus on being the prey for a disturbed, predatory individual. 

    Scary Stories to Tell in the DarkTerrifying children since before I was in grade school - Scary Stories to Tell in the DarkThis is the first book in the series, and I recommend this collection, with the caveat that you get the older editions, with the original art by Stephen Gammell, whose work is often replicated, but is ultimately irreplaceable.  Although most of it is suited perfectly for children, some of the short stories – “Harold” and “The Dream” - still haunt me to this day.  Short, elemental, this is work that anyone who wants to create horror should learn from. 

    Through the WoodsSometimes we’d do well to fear what awaits us… - Through the WoodsThis particular collection of short pieces does what a short visual narrative does best – it presents a haunting, sometimes punchy collection of parables that feel like nightmares you would have after having read one too many Grimm’s brothers fairy tales.  The art is simply too beautiful at times, providing a bounty of color that clashes and meshes with the dark subject matter and the shadowy depths presented in the pieces.  “His Face all Red” is a short piece that has thoroughly earned a reputation in and of itself.

    I Am LegendThe vampires are just the start of Robert Neville’s nightmare  - I Am LegendIt’s hard to beat a classic, and although I haven’t read this one myself, my S.O empatically swears by this novel.  It’s a parable of loneliness and coping in the face of overwhelming nihilism, and it happens to be a trail blazer in the arena of sickness-caused apocalypse stories.   It’s an end of the world caused by the aftereffects of a war that birthed a sickness whose symptoms mirror the fabled ones of Vampirisim and has transformed all but a single man into animalistic, predatory herds.  If the story began and ended with its premise, it alone would make the story worth reading, but that is not even scratching the surface on everything going on in this dark tale.

    John Dies at the EndWho says horror can’t be absolutely hilarious? - John Dies @ the EndThe progeny of Cracked.com’s Jason Pargin, whose pseudonym is David Wong, this novel is a bizarre thing that has taken inspiration from so much and wears it proudly.  A combination of stoner, scatological, bizarre, and horror humor, this comedy/horror hybrid goes as high concept and as down in the dirt with its subject matter as can be imagined.  I would also not be doing it justice if I did not mention how witty the writing is – in between descriptions of foul-mouthed demonic entities harassing our anti-heroes.  This recommendation is also a glad one for me to make, as the latest book in this series, What the Hell Did I Just Read?, has quite a few copies in circulation as well.

    Let the Right One InShe’s not as innocent as she looks  - Let the Right One InAnother recommendation, not from me, but from my S.O.  And yes, it’s vampires again.  This one comes from Sweden, and deals with a thoroughly unflinching look at the lives of two children – one of whom is no longer much of a child – and a brutal series of events that brings them close together.  It’s a story of devotion, innocence, absolute reliance, and shocking cruelty.  I would not recommend this story to the faint of heart!



    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 Becky C | Oct 25, 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!


    My Friend Dahmer   Silence Love and Other Consolation Prizes 
     Good Omens  The Real Life Downton Abbey  It
     When Dimple Met Rishi  The Restless Dead  Geekerella
     Only Human  Very Good Lives  All the Feels
     Emma in the night  Before I Go To Sleep  Queens of Geek
     A Court of Thorns and Roses  Prized Possessions  Jhereg
         
         

    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 | Oct 23, 2017
    The notion that we all have demons in us is commonplace, although modern understanding denies them spiritual form. Except that George Saunders is about as modern as a writer gets and the spirits in his love song to suffering humanity -- Lincoln in the Bardo -- can't stop haunting themselves even as their bodies molder. 

    Lincoln in the BardoAbraham Lincoln's near-crippling grief on the death of his son Willie inspired Saunders's novel, which recently won the Man Booker prize. The ghostly characters who encircle the Lincolns are a cross-section of anguished Americana, but their confusion, pain and goofiness are universal. In pop culture terms, they desperately need to "let it go." 

    Bardo is a Buddhist concept that has been loosely compared to the Christian idea of purgatory -- the place where souls dwell to make up for their sins before entering heaven. Bardo does have a spiritual meaning as an existence between lives, but you may be in bardo right now. Any time your life is sorely disrupted -- perhaps by losing a job or by the death of someone close to you -- you can be in bardo. The question then becomes can you accept impermanence and move on, or do you resist it with all your being. 

    Part of the fun of Lincoln in the Bardo is its dynamic structure, which is magnified in the audio version that features 166 voices. More of the fun is recognizing some of your favorite actors reading outrageous bits; there's a cast list at the bottom of this link. (After listening to the book, I was further amused to see that in the print version the f___s and s___s in the most raucous conversations look just like that -- decorously using the first letter only -- while the audio version, by its nature, lets everything fly.)

    Most chapters give you ghostly dialogues that range from horrific to hilarious as the spirits cut into each other to tell you their pathetic stories and try to save Willie Lincoln's soul. Other chapters use the same quote, quote, quote style to offer what seem to be snippets from actual historical accounts about the Lincolns, except that of the five I  googled only one was born outside Saunders's imagination. 

    If good literature is something that entertains you so much you look at your life in a different way, Lincoln at the Bardo qualifies. And if you are someone who walks through cemeteries on Halloween, let Saunders be your companion as you ponder whether there are souls around you who just can't let it go -- and whether you are actually one of them. 




    EvanEvan - Married, three children, two grandchildren, formerly a newspaper journalist, now a public librarian, at all times a board game nut.
    by Becky C | Oct 20, 2017
    Editor's Note:  Originally published October 21, 2012

    Before The Walking Dead, before the CDC published their Zombie Pandemic Preparedness Guide, before Fort Wayne’s first annual Zombie Walk in 2008, there was a little video made by the staff at the Allen County Public Library.  What can we say?  We’re always on the alert for the next big thing and we’ve got your back!





    You might also like:


    Fright Night 2017Check out Downtown Fort Wayne's website for the Activity List, Parking Map, ATM locations, and Survival Guide!

    7 reasons libraries are our only hope in case of a zombie apocalypse.  I didn't write this but I wish I had!


    Zombies aren't the scariest thing about a zombie apocalypse
    .
      Do you watch The Walking Dead?  I do!  This post was written during Season 4.



    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 Kay S | Oct 18, 2017
    Yes, it's that time again! Heads up! Coming to a library or store near you, a few upcoming releases you may be interested in!!!

    Historical Romance
    Elizabeth Hoyt  Elizabeth Hoyt
    Duke of Desire
    Maiden Lane series
    October 17 
     Eloisa James Eloisa James
    Wilde in Love
    The Wildes of Lindow Castle series  
    October 31
     Joannae Shupe Joanna Shupe
    A Daring Arrangement
    The Four Hundred series
    October 31


    Contemporary Fiction/Women's Fiction
    Shayla Black  Shayla Black
    Misadventures of a Backup Bride
    Misadventures series
    Contemporary Romance
    October 17

     Kate Clayburn Kate Clayborn
    Beginner’s Luck
    Contemporary Romance
    October 31
     Lindsay Detwiler Lindsay Detwiler
    Inked Hearts
    Lines in the Sand series
    Contemporary Romance
    October 21
     Donna Grant Donna Grant
    The Christmas Cowboy Hero
    Heart of Texas series
    Contempory Romance
    October 31
     Mia Sheridan Mia Sheridan
    Most of All You
    Contemporary Romance
    October 17


    Mystery/Thrillers/Suspense/Romantic Suspense
     David Baldacci David Baldacci
    End Game

    Will Robie Series
    Thriller
    November 14 
     iris Johanson Iris Johansen
    Mind Game
    Eve Duncan series
    Thriller
    October 24
     Laura Kaye Laura Kaye
    Ride Wild
    Raven Riders series
    Romantic Suspense
    October 31
     Faye Kellerman Faye Kellerman
    Killing Season
    Killing Season series
    Thriller
    October 17
     John Sandford John Sandford
    Deep Freeze
    Virgil Flowers series
    Suspense
    October 17
     Rebecca Zanetti Rebecca Zanetti
    Twisted Truths
    Blood Brothers series
    Romantic Suspense
    November 14


    Paranormal Romance/Fantasy/Science Fiction/Urban Fantasy

    Peter Beagle Peter S. Beagle
    The Overneath
    Science Fiction
    November 7
    S A Chakroborty S.A. Chakraborty
    The City of Brass
    The Daevabad Trilogy
    Fantasy, Debut
    November 14
    Isabel Cooper Isabel Cooper
    Highland Dragon Rebel
    Dawn of the Highland Dragon series
    Fantasy
    November 11
    JC Daniels J.C. Daniels
    Haunted Blade
    Aneira Kit Colbana series
    Urban Fantasy
    October 1
    James Gardner James Alan Gardner
    All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault
    Urban Fantasy
    November 7
    Jeri Westerman Jeri Westerson
    Booke of the Hidden
    Paranormal Romance
    October 31
    CL Wilson C. L. Wilson
    The Sea King
    Weathermages of Mystral series
    Paranormal Suspense
    October 31
    Young Adult/Teens
    Erin Bowman  Erin Bowman
    Retribution Rails
    sequel to Vengeance Road
    November 7
    Traci Chee Traci Chee
    The Speaker
    sequel to The Reader
    November 7


    Erotica
    Wild  Meredith Wild
    Mia Michelle
    Misadventures of the First Daughter
    Misadventure series
    October 30


    Inspiration Romance/Mainstream
     Julie Cantrell Julie Cantrell
    Perennials
    November 14
     Irma Joubert Irma Joubert
    The Crooked Path

    November 7



    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 Becky C | Oct 16, 2017
    Author Fair 2016

    Join us in the Great Hall at the Main Library on Saturday, November 11, 2017 for our Seventh Annual Author Fair! Meet over 70 published authors from our region, discover new books, and attend author-led panel discussions on a variety of engaging topics. 


    The Bookmark is the official book seller at this event, giving guests the opportunity to purchase new books and have them signed by the authors!

    This event, which takes place from noon until 5 pm, is free, open to the public, and kid-friendly.

    Update:  Click here for the event schedule and list of authors.  Hope to see you there!



    Bookmark Logo


    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 Cheryl M | Oct 13, 2017

    Photo Credit John Keatley -- Redux

    "I keep thinking I should go digital sometime, but I still like to read the old-fashioned way since I write lots of notes in the margins.  I always take a big canvas tote bag of books when I go on vacation.” 

     

    The richest person in the world is curious, loves to learn, and loves to read.  That’s good news.  Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, tops the 2017 Forbes list of the world’s billionaires.  He is also great about giving away his wealth, which is more good news – fighting disease, promoting education, providing computers where there are none. As the owner of one of the first smart homes, his uber-connected mansion near Seattle, you would think Gates reads ebooks across multiple platforms.  But In a June 5, 2017, TIME magazine article, Gates says, “I keep thinking I should go digital sometime, but I still like to read the old-fashioned way since I write lots of notes in the margins.  I always take a big canvas tote bag of books when I go on vacation.”  A big canvas tote bag…he either takes long vacations or reads fast, or both. This is a man who, as a kid, read the whole set of World Book encyclopedia.

    Gates praises a book loaned to him by Warren Buffett (second on Forbes list of billionaires) years ago, Business Adventures by John Brooks, as the best business book ever.  A collection of essays, the book tells of business failures and successes, like the Ford Edsel, a spectacular failure.  I agree with Gates that an award for most clever chapter name should go to, “Xerox Xerox Xerox Xerox”.

    While his reading is heavy on nonfiction, “so I can keep on learning about the world”, he likes the way fiction can “take you out of your own thoughts and into someone else’s.” He teared up reading The Heart by Maylis De Kerangal, a novel about a young man whose heart is transplanted into another person.

    Because of his status and connections, Gates has had the good fortune of interviewing the authors of some of his favorite books.  Check out his website to view an interview, get more book recommendations, or explore Gates’ philanthropic endeavors.

    It’s exciting that such an influential person is a voracious reader.  He values learning and growing through the printed word.  As a librarian, I was excited that Gates gives some of the credit for his love of reading as a child to his elementary school librarian who introduced him to biographies of famous people throughout history.  Perhaps today, librarians are guiding tomorrow’s leaders, thinkers, and readers.


    cheryl-mCheryl likes reading, bicycling, scrapbooking, travel, history, and cats. Because every life tells a story, her favorite books to read are biographies.

     

    by Evan | Oct 11, 2017
    You think you are an open-minded person, and then someone points out one of your many rigid opinions. Happens to me all the time.

    Did it to myself the other night in a social setting. Met a highly educated 30-something man and later overheard him saying that "they" have found human remains buried along with dinosaur remains. I wish I could have seen my reaction, but I think I kept my astonishment somewhat in check. I asked him a little aggressively who "they" were, and he said something about scientists and the Flood, but by then I had regained my manners and was able to just let it go and change the subject. 

    Among the CreationistsLook, I've always known many Americans believe what he believes. In fact I just finished David Rosenhouse's Among the Creationists: Dispatches from the Anti-Evolutionist Front Line. Prof. Rosenhouse is an atheist who has a hobby of attending creationist conventions and taking tours of the Ark Encounter in Kentucky. His book reports many conversations with people who deny human evolution, and he carefully considers their worldview, their criticisms of science and why they feel threatened by the heirs of Charles Darwin. The guy amazed me. 

    I don't run in creationist circles, and it was bracing to hear a person sitting next to me give the dinosaur/flood line to two teenagers in the same matter-of-fact tone I might use to tell them that roughly 20 million Russians died in World War II. You know, gee-whiz stuff you didn't learn in school. 

    After I regained those runaway manners, I thought about the famously growing political divide in our country and how Republicans and Democrats reportedly don't talk to each other about politics. Did I change the dinosaurs subject that night because I didn't want to spoil the party, or because I thought it would be a futile, unhappy conversation for both of us? I don't know, but I realized not for the first time that I am part of the problem -- someone with a lot of long-held understandings about life that I wish millions of wrong-headed Americans would wake up and share with me. Do you feel the same -- or are you able to talk easily with people across the culture chasm? If so, how do you do it?



    EvanEvan - Married, three children, two grandchildren, formerly a newspaper journalist, now a public librarian, at all times a board game nut.
    by Craig B | Oct 09, 2017

    cover art for Papa Roach's album, Crooked TeethIt’s not that bad.  I mean, for me, a kid who came of age in the 90s and later waited tables to this sort of thing in the oughties, Papa Roach’s ninth studio album, Crooked Teeth, is not that bad.  See, I kind of assumed that every song would be some sort of over-extended musical journey, sultry with semi-maudlin aggressiveness … Just look at that cover art.  But honestly, there’s a clarity, a maturity (dare I say restraint?) to the musicality and lyrics of many of the tracks that I found surprising/inspiring in a sort of post-rap core, we’re not really famous anymore, kind of way.  The band even manages to come off as actually, possibly vulnerable with that lyric, “I think I might need help.”  That’s a long way from the “Infest!! (die like the rest)” vibe I’m used to.  Congrats are in order.

    Suggested Use: Replacing some flooring?  These aggressive (though less than semi-maudlin-aggressive) guitar licks and grungy vocals seem ripe for some brute-strength-utility-knife-wielding, carpet-kicking, throw-that pipe-on-your-shoulder-and-toss-it-in-the-dumpster sort of expression.  And once the carpet’s up (or linoleum or heaven forbid, purple paint on a turn-of-the-century wood floor) and you’ve figured out I didn’t know what I was talking about when I mentioned the pipe, you can celebrate with a mosh pit or something, though take it easy.  None of us are getting any younger here.

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

    Historical Fiction

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

    Contemporary Romance/Mainstream Fiction/Women's Fiction

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

    Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Romantic Suspense

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

    Paranormal Romance/Fantasy/Science Fiction/Urban Fantasy

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

    Young Adults/Teens

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

    Inspirational Romance/Mainstream Fiction

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



    kayKay is an avid reader of historical romance books, maybe with a little trip into paranormal land and an occasional journey into mystery world.
    by Emily M | Oct 04, 2017
    Looking for a book recommendation?  Look no further!  Here are a few good books I've enjoyed recently.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

     

    by Craig B | Oct 02, 2017

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

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

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

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

    by Kay S | Sep 29, 2017
    Sometimes when you go digging through the dust and cobwebs of the past, all that happens is a sneeze. But other times you find a forgotten treasure and you say to yourself -- now I know why this author is still around.

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

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

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

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

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






    kayKay is an avid reader of historical romance books, maybe with a little trip into paranormal land and an occasional journey into mystery world.
    by Megan B | Sep 28, 2017

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

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

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

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

    by Megan B | Sep 28, 2017

    Jamie Ford and book cover

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

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

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

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

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

    Micki Cooney

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

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

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

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

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

    Banned Books Week 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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

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

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

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



    Becky CBecky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her favorite books are The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz and The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman..
    by Evan | Sep 26, 2017
    In days of yore, board games about history or geography existed mainly to a) teach children the prevailing facts and fallacies, b) entertain those children and c) be pretty. What kaiser kinder could resist a game that looked like Deutschland's Kolonien-spiel did?

    Kaiser's colonies game

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

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

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

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

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


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

    Frequently Challenged Books

    Banned Books Week 2017


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

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

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

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

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



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