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    by Becky C | Mar 14, 2018
    While Sir Arthur Conan Doyle may have tired of Sherlock Holmes, readers have not. Nearly 130 years after Holmes first appeared in A Study in Scarlet, there remains such an interest in this consulting detective that other authors have taken up the cause and offered their own contributions to his story.  Let's begin with some short story collections.



    Sherlock Holmes in AmericaIn Sherlock Holmes in America, edited by Martin Greenberg, we are treated to 14 stories by a list of authors including Loren Estleman, Matthew Pearl, Bill Crider, and Jon Breen.  Each story is set in an American locale such as New York, St. Louis, San Antonio, and Salt Lake City.  Each is told in the writer's own voice but still captures the spirit of the Holmes stories.



    The Perils of Sherlock HolmesThe Perils of Sherlock Holmes by Loren Estleman offers 11 stories and 3 essays for Holmes fans to savor.  Highlights include "The Adventure of the Three Ghosts" in which Holmes aids a man experiencing nightly visitations and "The Devil and Sherlock Holmes," in which an insane asylum inmate has convinced the medical staff that he is Satan himself.



    And a couple of series . . .

    The Beekeepers ApprenticeOne of the most popular book series today is Laurie King's Mary Russell series.  The first book in the series, The Beekeeper's Apprentice, introduces a retired Holmes to a 15-year-old girl whose brilliant intellect, caustic wit, egotistical personality, and gift for detail rival his own.  He mentors her in the art of detection and allows her to participate in cases.  A kidnapping case will test their friendship -- a master criminal is clearly pulling the strings and Holmes is the target -- as well as everyone he holds dear.  Excellent characterizations, delightfully atmospheric. 

    The House of SilkThe House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz has the distinction of being the first Sherlock Holmes novel to be authorized by Arthur Conan Doyle's estate.  A year Holmes's death,  Watson (now in a retirement home) finally recounts the most scandalous case of Holmes' career, a case he hadn't written about at the time because it was "too monstrous, too shocking".  Back in 1890, a fine art dealer approached Holmes and Watson to ask for help.  A few days later, the dealer's home is robbed and his family is threatened.  And then, the first murder takes place.  As they investigate, Holmes and Watson find themselves drawn into an international conspiracy, a conspiracy Holmes fears will tear apart society.  A tight, compelling plot and finely drawn characters do justice to the Holmes canon.  Horowitz's Sherlock Holmes series currently has two additional titles to offer.

    You may also want to check out these titles:  Lyndsay Faye's Dust and Shadows, Leonard Goldberg's The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes, Bonnie Macbird's Art in the Blood, and Larry Millett's Sherlock Holmes and the Eisendorf Enigma.

    Have you read any of these books?  If so, what did you think?  Have you read other "new" books featuring Sherlock Holmes that you'd like to recommend?



    Becky CBecky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her favorite books are The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz and The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman..
    by Kayla W | Mar 12, 2018


    When my parents died… I wasn’t able to cry.  Not one bit.  –
    Yaichi

    Manga Review:  My Brother's Husband by Gengoroh Tagame

    my brothers husbandDiving into manga or anime – if I’m being honest, I would add “most of the canon of western sequential art” to that as well – you might be disappointed at the lack of offerings in the way of narrative written from the point of view of people who fall in the LGBTQ spectrum.  Heck, finding positive (meaningful and not frankly insulting) depictions of LGBTQ characters is a chore in and of itself!  

    While that’s not to say that the work that does exist is not in and of itself praise worthy and wonderful in many cases (the critically acclaimed Fun Home springs immediately to mind), but by no stretch of the imagination is there an embarrassment of riches to choose from.   If you were to file that amount down to a manga that is remarkably emotionally intelligent, as well as aimed at either the young or young at heart (and has been translated into English and released in the west!), then you have very little to choose from.   Mind you, I’m speaking from the perspective of someone who is barely scratching the surface on a true understanding of manga.  And I am not talking about the vast array of manga with a focus on gay relationships, which have a different intent and audience in mind than this one does.

    As I understand it (and I am, again, admittedly very ignorant when speaking on this matter, so please bear that in mind) Japanese culture is currently going through an identity crisis related to its real and present LGBTQ population.  It makes manga like My Brother’s Husband already an interesting addition to the canon.  Now released in English, Tagame’s story is not just an important work appearing during a period pivotal to its subject, but is one worthy of being read, even without the tie it has to the still marginalized culture of LGBTQ folk, providing crucial characterization that proves to be far from being cliched representatives.

    My Brother’s Husband has thus far only had a single omnibus released in English, but having read it, I am already excited to recommend it to anybody and everybody.  Heartfelt? Check.  Adorable?  Check.  Truly, albeit quietly, groundbreaking?  Oh, you’d better believe it.

    The story focuses on themes of loss, family, masculinity, love, and emotional honesty.  The story begins with the death of Yaichi’s twin brother, Ryoji.  Still trying to contextualize the feelings that Yaichi is haunted by for his brother – a sorrow over his death that he feels unable to express and articulate, as well as a lingering feeling of betrayal, leftover from when Ryoji announced that he was gay – Yaichi finds himself the mostly unwilling host to the biggest shock he could have imagined –

    His brother’s very large, very Canadian widower, Mike Flanagan.

    If not for the fact that Yaichi’s ultra adorable and headstrong daughter Kana is absolutely taken by the thought of having a Canadian uncle, he might never get the courage to get to know his brother’s widower.   What makes Yaichi a truly interesting character is that far from being treated as a character who only needs to be this narrative's straw man, he is a stay at home dad and from what I have learned, appears to be an accurate representation of modern Japan’s cisgender struggle with their own homosexual population in the face of a world that is increasingly accepting their own population of LGBTQ peoples. 

    Truly remarkable is the realistic manner in which Yaichi begins the story afraid to have his shirt off while around Mike, out of a lingering fear that toxic culture has taught him, which is that Mike may just try “something” with him.  The idea that Mike - and his brother, for that matter - are deviants is something that lingers often in the periphery of the way that Yaichi views his house guest, sometimes acted out, in spite of his desire to provide a good standard of hospitality.  

    Mike isn’t a boring character either, in fact is far from it.  I’ve always wondered how Japanophiles would be treated in a manga (aside from what I’ve seen in Oishinbo) and Mike is an out and out fanboy of his widow’s culture.  I think what is most important in this story is that this is not a one-sided story or education, but is rather a sharing of knowledge between two very different outlooks on life and a realization of how two different people cope with emotional trauma and culture shock.

    Everything about the book is quite heart warming, and Tagame’s ability to bring across the subtleties of masculine emotions is unlike anything else in manga.   Interestingly, the book features many instances of near-male nudity, and after some time spent thinking about that addition in a book that would “otherwise” be suitable for people of all ages, I realized that the way that the mature adult male body is portrayed in this book is not unlike the manner that female bodies are portrays in a lot of modern manga.  The muscular, thick bodies of men are portrayed as things of beauty, sometimes almost coming off as, somehow, delicate.   It’s truly striking to see the male form treated as an object of admiration, in much the same way that a female’s body is often viewed in the same manner.

    For this being Gengoroh Tagame’s first foray into family friendly work, I have to say that I am thoroughly impressed and would highly recommend this story to anyone.


    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 Kay S | Mar 09, 2018

    Book Review:  Beyond Scandal and Desire by Lorraine Heath

    I have never experienced reading a Lorraine Heath book. Oh sure, I have one in my TBR pile, but Beyond Scandal and Desire is my first read. I was pleasantly surprised, Lorraine heathespecially since I'm not a big fan of the revenge plot. This story begins Ms. Heath's newest series, Sins for All Seasons. I'm guessing this series will revolve around a group of "siblings" who were abandoned as babies to a woman named Ettie Trewlove. There are two women, Gillian and Fancy, and four men, Aiden, Finn, Mick and Ben/Beast. Beast is the one with the requisite scar. None of them are related except for Finn and Aiden, however, they consider themselves to be family. Even though the blood relationship between the siblings is weak, there is nonetheless a sibling bond between all of them. They grew up in the dredges of London and their loyalty to each other is something that cannot be denied. They are also very devoted to the woman who took them in, Ettie. She is the woman they look on as their mother. She has their love and respect.

    Mick Trewlove is seeking revenge on the man who abandoned him when he was a baby. He knows who the man is  -- the Duke of Hedley. The Duke has a son, Kip, and is also guardian to Lady Aslyn. Lady Aslyn's parents were killed when she was a young child and she has grown up in the Duke's household. She has also grown up very sheltered in their household. She knows that they love her and she loves them in return. She has a great affection for Kip and expects that someday she and Kip will marry. Everyone just kind of expects it. Aslyn is comfortable with her situation. Oh sure, sometimes she feels as if she's missing something, but she hasn't found the need to find out what that missing something is. Then Mick Trewlove crosses her path.

    Mick Trewlove does not cross Lady Aslyn's path by accident. He has made up his mind that ruining Kip through Lady Aslyn is the perfect way to get his revenge on Hedley. So, with the help of his spunky sister, Fancy, he meets the two one evening on an outing. It wasn't long before I found myself becoming absorbed by the story.

    What I found so fascinating was that this was more than just a romance story. All the secondary characters were well-rounded, they are part of the story of Mick and Aslyn and I was never distracted by their presence. I liked Mick a lot. Sure he wanted to get revenge, but it wasn't long after he meet Aslyn that he began to struggle with his idea of revenge. He finds himself drawn to Aslyn and not too much time passes before he's running into problems with his grand revenge plan and fighting his need for Aslyn.

    Aslyn is almost too good to be true. She isn't class conscious at all. She has no problem with Mick's family and is fascinated with how Mick has made his way up from the dregs of the London streets. I was worried for a while that she wouldn't stand up for herself when it came to her engagement with Kip. However, almost from the moment she becomes engaged to her childhood friend, she starts to question the wisdom of their engagement. She recognizes that there isn't any spark between the two of them. When she finds out that Kip is addicted to gambling, she is up front with Kip and tells him where he can get off.

    While I enjoyed the romance between Aslyn and Mick very much, I was equally fascinated with Kip, Hedley, and Hedley's wife. All three of these secondary characters had enormous problems, which can be a big distraction to some stories. In this case, the secondary plotlines were given just the right amount of time in the story. They added to the overall plotline instead of detracting from it. I found all of these secondary characters very intriguing.

    Bottom-line. I loved this story. It was a full, robust tale of more than just romance. It was emotionally satisfying and I can hardly wait for the next in the series. I was pretty impressed with Lorraine Heath's Beyond Scandal and Desire.


    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 | Mar 05, 2018

    cover for First Aid Kit's album, RuinsI’ll listen to this album again, but First Aid Kit’s newest, Ruins, seems to be suffering a bit from their new major record label’s Sophomore Slump.  Or, maybe Ruins just doesn’t have an admirably written tune like “Waitress Song” to anchor it as did their previous effort, Stay Gold.  Either way, on a first listen, I was a little bummed by some of the clichéd and overly abstract lyricism, though the ladies still sing quite prettily with a most-satisfying original flair.  That latter aspect of the album stood out to me even more on the first half of a second listen, thank goodness, way before I’d even gotten close to the miracle of “Hem of Her Dress”  (track 9) and what a concrete image can do for a record to elevate it beyond elevator music.  Pun intended.

    Suggested Use: Take this one on your next trip, elevator or otherwise, but especially if you’re driving.  The harmonies speak of wide-open spaces and rural mountainsides, while the actual lyrics about postcards, what one leaves behind, and “getting where you’re going you dirty rascal” add some much needed duende to the beauty that surrounds one … on vacation.  Don’t need duende in your vacations?  Save this for your drive when you return to work for a month of Mondays and then some.  No matter how much you love your job, you’re going to need some beauty like this album provides.  Believe me.

    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 Evan | Mar 02, 2018
    Pandoras LabBook Review:  Pandora's Lab by Paul Offit.

    Paul Offit is best known as the doctor who defends vaccination against critics who claim it causes autism. Given the storm of anger you can readily find if you Google his name, it's impressive that his recent book, Pandora's Lab: Seven Stories of Science Gone Wrong, invites still more disdain. Even more impressive, however, is his ability to make his cases.

    When I saw that Rachel Carson was one of his targets, I braced myself against any disparagement of one of the inspirational people in my life. Yet, when I finished the chapter about the impact of her most famous book, Silent Spring, I was deflated. Offit credits her book with inspiring an environmental movement that humanity needs, but he nails her and the movement for ideological absolutism. Silent Spring led to a world-wide ban on the pesticide DDT. The purpose was to protect wildlife and prevent cancers, and Offit thinks this was based on dubious science. The ban, however, was so unbending that millions of people died from malaria borne by mosquitoes that would have been killed by DDT aimed specifically at them. Eventually, the ban was relaxed. 

    Among the scientists ripped by Offit are several who thought they could turn opium into a safe pain-killing drug. One version was heroin, which was first marketed by the German company Bayer (of aspirin fame) and in the United States by Indiana's own Eli Lilly. The modern chapter of this tragedy is the opioid epidemic. 

    Perhaps the most grotesque miscarriage of science described by Offit was a supposed miracle cure for mental illness. A widely respected physician Walter Freeman, went around the country lobotomizing thousands of brains, many of them with an ice pick. But the darkest chapter told how some of the most admired leaders of the early 20th century promoted the pseudo-science of eugenics that was picked up by Adolf Hitler and morphed into mass murder.

    Offit is most definitely not anti-science. He advocates science based on solid data and separated from scientists' agendas, bank accounts, and egos -- although he writes so strongly that I'm guessing his own ego is pretty sturdy and his critics accuse him of profiting from his stances.

    Nevertheless, Offit is also willing to recognize that even good science comes at a cost. His biggest example is at its core the biggest question today about civilization. Scientific breakthroughs such as the creation of artificial fertilizer have allowed the human population to top 7 billion -- and so, for that matter, has DDT. That's good for those who have not starved or died of malaria, but we 7 billion are also rapidly changing our planet in ways that Offit and others think will cause our doom, and this doctor offers no miracle cure.


    EvanEvan - Married, three children, two grandchildren, formerly a newspaper journalist, now a public librarian, at all times a board game nut.
    by Kay S | Feb 28, 2018
    Yes, it's once again time for a few upcoming releases. These books are due to be released between March 15 to April 14, 2018. Remember, those are the dates the publishers are going to release them, not necessarily the date they will reach a book shelf near you. These are also books I am hearing good things about.

    Historical Romance
    Lenora Bell  Lenora Bell
    http://www.lenorabell.com/
    What a Difference a Duke Makes
    School for Dukes series  
    March 27
     Candace Camp Candace Camp
    http://www.candace-camp.com/
    His Wicked Charm
    The Mad Morelands series
    March 27
     Eva leigh Eva Leigh
    http://evaleighauthor.com
    Counting on a Countess
    The London Underground series
    March 27


    Historical Fiction
     Dray Stephanie Dray
    http://www.stephaniedray.com
    Laura Kamoie
    http://LauraKamoie.com
    My Dear Hamilton:A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton
    April 3


    Contemporary Romance/Mainstream Fiction/Woman's Fiction/New Adult

     Toni Aleo Toni Aleo
    http://tonialeo.com
    Misadventures with a Rookie
    Misadventures series
    Contemporary Romance
    April 10 
     Emily Belden Emily Belden
    http://www.emilybelden.com/
    Hot Mess
    Mainstream
    March 20
     Lauren Dane Lauren Dane
    http://www.laurendane.com
    Jagged
    Whiskey Sharp series
    Contemporary Romance
    March 27
     Christina Lauren Christina Lauren
    http://www.christinalaurenbooks.com/
    Love and Other Words
    Mainstream
    April 10
     Carla neggers Carla Neggers
    http://www.carlaneggers.com/
    The River House
    Swift River Valley series
    Contemporary Romance
    March 27
     Alisha Rai Alisha Rai
    http://www.alisharai.com/
    Hurts to Love You
    Forbidden Hearts series
    Contemporary Romance
    March 27
     Kate Rorick Kate Rorick
    http://www.katerorick.com
    The Baby Plan
    Mainstream
    March 20
     Jodi Thomas Jodi Thomas
    http://www.jodithomas.com/index.html
    Mornings on Main
    Mainstream
    April 10


    Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Romantic Suspense

     Diamond Tess Diamond
    https://www.facebook.com/TessDiamondBooks/
    Be a Good Girl
    Romantic Suspense
    March 27
     Lea Griffith Lea Griffith
    http://www.leagriffith.com/
    Running the Risk
    Endgame Ops series
    Romantic Suspense
    April 3
     Jane Haseldine Jane Haseldine
    https://janehaseldine.com
    Worth Killing
    A Julia Gooden Mystery series
    Mystery
    March 27
     Lisa Renee Jones Lisa Renee Jones
    http://www.lisareneejones.com
    Murder Notes
    Lilah Love series
    Romantic Suspense
    March 27
     Lisa Scottoline Lisa Scottoline
    http://scottoline.com/Site/
    After Anna
    Suspense
    April 10
     Simone St. James Simone St. James
    http://www.simonestjames.com
    The Broken Girls
    Suspense
    March 20


    Paranormal/Fantasy/Science Fiction/Urban Fantasy

     Christine Feehan Christine Feehan
    http://www.christinefeehan.com
    Covert Game
    A Ghost Walker series
    Paranormal Romance
    March 20
     Tessa Gratton Tessa Gratton
    http://tessagratton.com
    The Queens of Innis Lear
    Fantasy
    March 27
     Kevin Hearne Kevin Hearne
    http://www.kevinhearne.com
    Scourged
    The Iron Druid Chronicles
    Urban Fantasy
    April 3
     Shelley Laurenston Shelly Laurenston
    http://www.shellylaurenston.com/
    Hot and Badgered
    The Honey Badgers series
    Paranormal Romance
    March 27
     Mark Lawrence Mark Lawrence
    http://www.marklawrence.buzz
    Grey Sister
    Book of the Ancestor series
    Fantasy
     Matt Wallace Matt Wallace
    http://www.matt-wallace.com/
    Taste of Wrath
    A Sin du Jour Affair series
    Urban Fantasy
    April 10


    Young Adult/Teen

    Emma Berquist  Emma Berquist
    https://twitter.com/eeberquist?lang=en
    Devils Unto Dust
    Debut
    April 10
     amanda foody Amanda Foody
    http://www.amandafoody.com
    Ace of Shades
    The Shadow Game series
    April 10
     Julien ireland Justina Ireland
    http://www.justinaireland.com
    Dread Nation
    April 3


    Inspirational Romance/Main Fiction

     Mary Connealy Mary Connealy
    http://www.maryconnealy.com
    The Accidental Guardian
    High Sierra Sweethearts series
    April 3
     Ganshert Katie Ganshert
    http://www.katieganshert.com
    No One Ever Asked
    April 3
     Sarah Ladd Sarah E. Ladd
    http://www.sarahladd.com
    The Weaver’s Daughter
    April 10


    Erotica

    Opal Carew  Opal Carew
    http://www.opalcarew.com/
    X Marks the Spot




    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 | Feb 26, 2018

    Book Review: Norman Mailer's winner of the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, The Executioner's Song

    cover for film, The Executioner's Song, based on Norman Mailer's novel of the same nameI don’t have strong opinions about New Journalism, though I think there are some pretty strong opinions floating around out there (think Truman Capote vs. Lester Markel), but I have been kicking around the idea that in some way the act of New Journalism does what in theatre they call breaking the fourth wall; that moment when a performer looks out at the audience and addresses them directly.  One of my favorite examples of this can be found in the early moments of the classic comedy, Airplane! when Robert Hays looks at the camera and lets us know just exactly how he feels.  For me, in New Journalism (and I’m going to err on the side of capitalizing it, despite its detractors), there’s something about the “facts” it incorporates that seem to constantly address the reader (who is ostensibly reading just a novel) with assertions of, “and yes, this really did happen,” that breaks the “fourth wall.”  These “facts” keep highlighting the relationship readers have with the storyteller in a way that is almost “meta” (not to mention a line like the “quote” attributed to Larry Schiller, the real-life producer/director of NBC’s 1982, The Executioner’s Song: “He would also tell the truth and not protect himself.”  Thank you for the assurances, Mailer) while also reinforcing the emotional ties readers might have towards the story. 

    And so, because of New Journalism (or even in spite of it) I have come to have a fairly strong (positive) opinion about the “New Journalistic” winner of the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Norman Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song.  I mean, just the effort that went into creating the book is impressive: 15,000 pages of interviews, 15 months of full-on writing, with a nearly thousand page book garnering a major award.  (And that major award wasn’t even the author, Norman Mailer’s, first.  He had won the General Non-Fiction Pulitzer Prize for Armies of the Night in 1969.)  And it doesn’t stop there.  Mailer also managed to mostly convince me of something in his novel, the beauty of the thing being that I’m not even sure he was trying to.  I’m even going to use a bit of hyperbole and insist that Mailer intuitively understood the importance of the story of Gary and Nicole and how it really needed to be told without any political agenda, and so that’s what he did.  But maybe that’s just the devious elements of New Journalism talking, and, of course, that doubt I’m having is part of the furor surrounding New Journalism.  How can such a “subjective” form of “journalism” in which the author seeks “truth” more than “facts” (that debate is from yet another film somehow connected in my mind to Mailer’s novel, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) lack a political agenda, a personal bias?  I don’t know, but I do feel it’s not impossible to get close, (see my post about Cozzens’ Guard of Honor for more on this) and at the end of the day, I’m not sure it really matters for Mailer’s novel anyway.  As a novel, (and I feel I can speak fairly authoritatively on this because I read the book cold, not knowing it as anything other than a “novel”) Mailer’s story was crafted in such a fashion as to truly show and not tell.  His “Song” is never preachy, never self-righteous, though it might verge on being “twee” with its meta-fictional qualities which could drive some readers away.  (Though if you’re going to be breaking a fourth wall, makes a lot of sense to do it in a book about a guy in prison, right?)  But none of this is why I have reservations about the book and won’t be reading it ever again (at least any time soon).  It may be brilliant and memorable like Airplane! (just an opinion, folks, not a fact), it may even come to us in a form that engages with philosophical ideas about Truth, but unlike Airplane! and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade it’s just too darn long.  I mean, unless you’re like my friend Beachey and have trouble respecting books of a reasonable length, who has the time to read this shelf-groaner once let alone twice.  Take my word for it, just take Airplane! out for a spin.

    Craig B author Craig B is a thirty-something lover of books, movies, and rock and roll whose grandmother still worries that he might not be eating enough. (Love you, Grandma!) He lives with his charming wife in the small town of Berne, IN (in sight of the clock tower) where he busies himself keeping the Roses of Sharon in check and training his chinchilla in the ancient arts of the Ninja. Craig’s current favorite book is Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann.
    by Kayla W | Feb 23, 2018

    “What lies beyond the veil of death is, after all, the ultimate unknown. And what could inspire fear more than the terror of uncertainty?” – Dr. Hill


    Until DawnWe’ve survived winter. I think.  I hope.  And when I think of this season these days, I can’t help but recall this recent homage to the subgenre of slasher horror.

    Until Dawn is a game that was dreamt up originally as a Playstation Move title, but after it had been canceled for use with that periphery, it rose up from the dead to live once more.  After all, what could be a more fitting turn of fate for something from the horror genre?

    In spite of the setbacks that the road to its release found, in my opinion this game proves to be, not only a great slasher horror from the same minds that made You’re Next, but one that is worthy of checking out through the merit of it being a fantastic game to play.

    The gameplay is focused on player choices, investigation, and quick time events.  All of these aspects remind me of what was promised with Heavy Rain (and, for that matter, most games made by Quantic Dream), but never were able to be fully delivered on.   This game is the only faux-movie horror game I’ve played thus far that has the production budget, great writing,characters, and genuinely engaging gameplay to sustain both a fun experience and multiple playthroughs. Well, I would have said that before last year - that is, when Resident Evil VII: Biohazard was released and has thoroughly proven itself to be this game’s equal in the field of a near-cinematic horror experience.  (Okay, with a definite honorary mention of Alan Wake thrown in for good measure, with the caveat of it being more of a supernatural thriller.)   

    The game’s story takes place around the Blackwood Pines Lodge, which is owned by the strange Washington family.  The Lodge - and the character of Josh Washington - provide a great commentary on horror movies, due to the fact that the Washingtons made much of their money from the making of cult horror movies.   This is a game that does not shy away from some more meta commentary, on both the nature of horror as well as some fourth-wall breaking inclusions.  This is most noticeably visible in the role that the “analyst” character, Dr. Hill, plays in the parts of the game where he seems to be trying to deconstruct the player’s morality and fears.   This aspect of the game reminds me of the similar attempt in Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, but it is far better utilized here.  In fact, it seems as though this is a game that thrives on concepts that other studios have attempted and have failed.

    After a tragedy occurs in the game’s prologue/tutorial, the youthful survivors and once friends arrive to memorialize the one year anniversary in the mountain ski lodge where it occurred.   Upon arriving, everything that can go wrong does, as everyone seems to be at each other’s throats (to what extent is controlled by the player) and the fact that there is a storm set to arrive shortly that will strand them in the remote, mountain top resort creates the makings for a terrifying loss of power with no guarantees that everyone will be making it off of the mountain alive.

    The motion capture on the characters is some of the best I’ve seen in a game, and the mountain that the game takes place on is often a beautiful nighttime winter wonderland, while the inside of the Lodge house itself proves to be a dark and unsettling place to try to hide from the game’s killer, once the lights go out.   It’s an action-packed thrillride as you try to keep your characters from dying as they try to evade everything that seeks to kill them, and the seemingly short amount of gameplay (nine hours for a single play through, generally) is actually more than that, when taking into consideration that the game encourages multiple playthroughs to see what will happen as a result of the different choices available through the game’s touted “Butterfly Effect” system.   Although, admittedly, what could be seen as the game’s major selling point – the butterfly effect - is a bit of a white lie, but going into the game with the thought that your choices matter makes for a much more engaging playthrough.

    I personally recommend not looking at anything else available on the title online, because spoilers on this game are abundant and easy to find(!).  And this, like any good thriller/suspense, is not a story you want spoiled before you play it. 

    The best first play through is done with your gut, first instinct for choices, so you can really enjoy further plays by seeing what can change.

    With the recent release of the much anticipated The Inpatient which acts as a spin-off… prequel (?) to this game, I think it’s safe to say that if you’ve never had the chance to play through Supermassive Game’s honorable send-up of the horror and thriller genres – there’s never been a better time to play it.   Until Dawn is a Playstation 4 exclusive, and along with The Last of Us, this is exactly the sort of title that I am happy to see as a Playstation title.

    The ACPL has multiple copies of Until Dawn, so why not give it a shot?

    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 | Feb 21, 2018
    Ever wonder what library staff like to read?  Wonder no more!  Here's a quick look at some books we've enjoyed this month.  Click on a book cover to check availability — it’s as easy as that!

    The Clan of the Cave Bear   The Immortalists  Treating People Well
     Barking to the Choir  Hacks  Moon Called
     Anyas Ghost  A Call to Action  Rumble on the Bayou
     Last Bus to Wisdom  The Trauma of Everyday Life  The Science of Cooking
     Tribe of Mentors  Exit West  A Chosen Exile
     Hello Universe  The Good Girl  Court of Thorns and Roses
     Tangerine  The Seven Rules of Elvira Carr  Royal Blood
     Angelas Ashes  The Last Suppers  The Magicians Assistant
     The Rise of Aurora West  Uniquely Human  Barkskins
     Sex at Dawn  The Broken Girls  An Invisible Thread
     The Lying Game  The Gatecrasher  The Warmth of Other Suns
     Discipline Equals Freedom  The Plum Tree  Hunger Makes the Wolf

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

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

    Becky CBecky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her favorite books are The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz and The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman..
    by Nancy | Feb 19, 2018
    Bookshelves in Lower Level 1While roaming our storage stacks recently, I ran across a small hymnal printed in 1889.  Its pages were yellowed and thin; no one had bothered with it for at least 20 years or more.  But I found myself being uplifted by the content.  There were no musical notes to this hymnal and most of it was not recognizable as hymns.  The short stanzas seemed more like devotional readings, although at one point I did recognize the words of a hymn or two.

    I was happy to discover that the Internet Archive has preserved this title online.  In fact, they have digitized many other versions beyond what our library owns.  And these books have been viewed hundreds of times online!  So while our copy sat languishing, the digital copies were being perused and used.  I felt that I had found something special that people had been missing out on seeing and using, but that was fortunately not the case!  Others were finding this hymnal online and (I assume) finding joy in its words just like me.  What's even better is that now I can have my own personal digital copy to keep.  I can share it with many, many friends, all at the same time even.  The Internet Archive offers the book in many different downloadable formats, whereas the little volume I found in our storage stacks can only ever rest in one person's library or hands.

    It reminded me too of all the wonderful resources that Internet Archive is preserving.  Recently someone was looking for DVDs with old newsreel clips, as were often shown in theaters before the movie.  And we do have several DVDs with these clips.  But it turns out, Internet Archive also has many of these newsreels online.  And the Internet Archive is much easier to search when looking for specific content.  So with the Olympics coming up I looked for newsreels about the Olympics and found this.  So fun!  But be careful: you could spend a whole snowy day, and night, exploring once you get started!

    Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more.        

    Over the years, As You Like It has featured a few book reviews of a unique items digitized by the Internet Archive -- here's your chance to read them now if you missed them the first time around:
     
    What does Jaegermeister have to do with a book review?  Originally posted on October 9, 2015, Jeff S calls our attention to a beautifully illustrated book on the raptors of Germany and Central Europe.

    Delightful discovery via digitizing.  Originally posted on February 5, 2015, Jeff S shares an insider's story of finding a previously unknown letter written by Daniel Boone when preparing to digitize an older book about Kentucky. 

    Beloved in America, not so much in France.  Originally posted on January 21, 2015, a digitization project of French pamphlets from the French Revolution, leads Jeff S to a more current book in ACPL's collection.

    And this post provides a detailed look at the Internet Archive:

    Preserving information for generations to come.  Originally posted on August 21, 2013 this post written by Becky C includes a behind-the-scenes look at the Internet Archive.  Photos!

    by Readers' Services | Feb 16, 2018
    Have you always wanted to be a writer?  Are you a writer looking for motivation and community?  Join ACPL's new Writers' Group!

    Our Writers' Group aims to provide a supportive community for writers of any experience level.  By providing a forum for sharing works in progress, as well as getting feedback and ideas for moving the works forward, there will be an opportunity to make lasting connections with fellow writers.

    Our first meeting is Monday, February 26, from 6:30-8:30 pm.  We'll meet in the Readers' Services Reading Room on the first floor of the Main Library.  For the first meeting, we will spend 15 minutes writing (using a prompt) and sharing our work with the group.  We hope to see you there!


    by Craig B | Feb 14, 2018
    cover for Kelly Clarkson's studio album, Meaning of LifeSo, ok.  Clarkson’s new neo-soulish romp and her first outing with Atlantic Records, Meaning of Life, just kept reminding me of my wife, who is kind of a superstar and does have a lot of soul.  The more upbeat tracks are certainly something I could see putting on rotation on an evening hanging out with friends, not to mention there’s some clever lyricism in here that will keep me keeping an eye on Clarkson to see where she goes next (and with this album having debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and having also made the 50 Best Albums of 2017: Critic’s Picks list that could be just about anywhere), but still, this album doesn’t quite deliver on its touted premise.  The meaning of life … or have I misunderstood the question?


    Suggested Use:
    Chablis.  Even though my wife doesn’t like wine that much, I think with this album you’ve gotta have the Chablis and a cozy, literary-ish read … I’m thinking Pride and Prejudice, but … yeah, no, that’s it.  Pride and Prejudice.  A book with a brand new soundtrack, and a soundtrack for, like Kelly herself, a brand new you.

    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 | Feb 12, 2018
    #ReadingBlackout is trending on social media this month -- join the conversation! To celebrate Black History Month, many readers are looking for books by and about African Americans.  You can always start with some classics, of course -- there's a reason we're still talking about  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward, and Black Boy by Richard Wright.  But maybe you've read those and are looking for something new?  Here's a quick look at a few recent-ish books in our collection that reviewers have loved.


    The MothersThe Mothers by Brit Bennett.  Nadia Turner is a rebellious, grief-stricken, seventeen-year-old beauty.  Luke Sheppard is a twenty-one year-old former football star whose injury has left him waiting tables at a diner. The pregnancy that results from their brief romance--and the subsequent cover-up--will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including her best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are adults still living in debt to the choices they made that one summer.  All three are haunted by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently?


    Ghost SummerGhost Summer
    by Tananarive Due. 
    In her debut collection of short fiction, Due takes us to Gracetown, a small Florida town that has both literal and figurative ghosts.  She shows us future scenarios that seem all too real and provides empathetic portraits of those whose lives are touched by Otherness. Ghost Summer features an award-winning novella and fifteen stories.




    PleasantvillePleasantville by Attica Locke.  If you're a fan of FOX's Empire, you're already familiar with the writing of Attica Locke.  She brings back her protagonist from Black Water Rising and plunges him into a shadowy world of ambitious enemies and treacherous allies armed with money, lies, and secrets.  This case will put him and his client, and an entire political process, on trial.



    EverfairEverfair by Nisi Shawl.  Shawl's speculative masterpiece manages to turn a human rights disaster into an exploration of the possibilities inherent in a turn of history. Everfair is told from a multiplicity of voices: Africans, Europeans, East Asians, and African Americans in complex relationships with one another, in a compelling range of voices that have historically been silenced. An inspiring story that will give readers new insight into an often ignored period of history.



    Dear MartinDear Martin by Nic Stone.  Written as a mixture of dialogues, third-person narrative, and letters to Martin Luther King Jr., the novel explores an African American teen's confrontations with racism and his search for identity.  There's a lot of buzz about this recent debut.




    The South Side

    The South Side by Natalie Moore. Chicago native Natalie Moore shines a light on contemporary segregation in the city's South Side; her reported essays showcase the lives of these communities through the stories of her family and the people who reside there. The South Side highlights the impact of Chicago's historic segregation - and the ongoing policies that keep the system intact. 




    If you like this list and would like some additional recommendations, send an email to us at ask@acpl.info -- we'd love to connect you with your next great read!  And please, share your must-read titles in the comments below.

    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 | Feb 09, 2018
    Yes, the months are just rolling by and it's time for another list of some upcoming books. These are books which I'm hearing good things about. Anyway, they are something to look forward to. And, remember - these dates are the publishing dates, not the dates they will be on your library shelves or electronic gizmos.

    Historical Romance
    Kelly Bowen   Kelly Bowen
    http://www.kellybowen.net/home.html
    A Duke in the Night
    Devils of Dover series
    February 20 
    Meredith Duran Meredith Duran
    http://meredithduran.com/index.html
    The Sins of Lord Lockwood
    Rules for the Reckless series
    February 27

    Contemporary Romance/Mainstream Fiction/Women's Fiction/New Adult

    Alyssa Cole   Alyssa Cole
    http://alyssacole.com
    A Princess in Theory
    Reluctant Royals series
    Contemporary Romance
    February 27 
    Maria de la Santos Marisa de los Santos
    http://www.marisadelossantos.com
    I’ll be Your Blue Sky
    Love Walked In series
    Mainstream Fiction
    March 6
     Jude Deveraux Jude Deveraux
    http://jude-deveraux.com
    As You Wish
    A Summerhouse Novel series
    Mainstream Fiction
    March 6
    Jennifer Gracen Jennifer Gracen
    http://www.jennifergracen.com
    It Might Be You
    The Harrisons series
    Contemporary Romance
    February 27
     Joan Johnston Joan Johnston
    http://www.joanjohnston.com/index.html
    Surrender
    Bitter Creek series
    Contemporary Romance
    February 27
     Stephanie London Stefanie London
    http://stefanie-london.com
    Bad Bachelor
    Bad Bachelors series
    Contemporary Romance
    March 6

    Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Romantic Suspense

    Linda Howard   Linda Howard
    https://www.lindahowardbooks.com
    The Woman Left Behind
    Romanctic Suspense
    March 6 
     emma Kavanaugh Emma Kavanagh
    https://emmakavanagh.com/
    The Missing Hours
    Mystery
    February 26
    TE Woods T.E. Woods
    http://tewoodswrites.com
    The Wrong Sister
    Suspense
    February 27

    Paranormal Romance/Fantasy/Science Fiction/Urban Fantasy

    Rachel Aaron   Rachel Aaron
    http://www.rachelaaron.net/
    Last Dragon Standing
    Heartstrikers series
    Urban Fantasy
    March 1 
     Anne Bishop Anne Bishop
    http://www.annebishop.com/
    Lake Silence
    The World of the Others series
    Urban Fantasy
    March 6
     Pamela Briggs Patricia Briggs
    http://www.patriciabriggs.com
    Burn Bright
    Alpha and Omega series
    Paranormal Romance
    March 6
    Marshall Maresca Marshall Ryan Maresca
    http://www.mrmaresca.com
    Lady Henterman’s Wardrobe
    Streets of Maradaine series
    Urban Fantasy
    March 6
    Seanan McGuire Seanan McGuire
    http://www.seananmcguire.com
    Tricks for Free
    InCryptid seroes
    Urban Fantasy
    March 6

    Young Adult

    Elizabeth Acevedo   Elizabeth Acevedo
    http://www.acevedowrites.com/
    The Poet X
    March 6 
    Toni Adeyemi Tomi Adeyemi
    http://www.tomiadeyemi.com/
    Children of Blood and Bone, debut
    March 6
    Tanaz Bhathena Tanaz Bhathena
    http://tanazbhathena.com/
    A Girl Like That
    February 27
    Kristen Simmons Kristen Simmons
    http://www.kristensimmonsbooks.com
    Pacifica
    March 6

    Inspirational
    Terri Blackstock   Terri Blackstock
    http://www.terriblackstock.com/
    If I Live
    March 6
    Lindsay Harrel Lindsay Harrel
    http://www.lindsayharrel.com
    The Heart Between Us, debut
    March 13
     Mary Webber Mary Weber
    http://www.maryweber.com
    Reclaiming Shilo Snow
    Evaporation of Sofi Snow series
    March 6




    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 | Feb 05, 2018
    Looking for a unique Valentine's Day card?  We've got you covered.  Check out these cool creations from ACPL's very own print shop.  We have a variety of valentines available at each of our locations but they are going fast -- stop by and pick up yours today!  And don't forget to stop by any of our reference desks to ask for Valentine's Day music, movie, and reading recommendations as well.  

    You're Just Write For Me
    Im Checking You Out
     
     ISBN Thinkin About You
     My Heart Is Booked For You
     


    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 Craig B | Jan 31, 2018

    Book Review: John Cheever's winner of the 1979 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, The Stories of John Cheever

    cover for John Cheevers short story collection, The Stories of John CheeverI don’t think any of us are old enough to have been around when Anton Chekov was, but many of us were around for John Cheever, and though at first it may seem that two gentlemen nearly a century apart could have little in common (Cheever won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1979 for the book under examination, The Stories of John Cheever, and Chekov wrote the Cherry Orchard in 1903), I would argue that the lives depicted in Cheever’s stories are often falling apart over … cocktails …, much as in Chekov, and that the amount of detail I learned about suburban commuting life and train schedules in upper-middle America from John in many ways smacks of the same strange isolation of a fading Russian aristocracy, etc. as depicted by Anton. Thus, Cheever, the Chekov of the Suburbs.  The alliteration is just a bonus.

    But now, perhaps, to get down to brass tacks.  Ok, nothing that serious.  I’ll just say there were some really great stories in Cheever’s collection.  Looking over the titles that Wikipedia lists as notable I recognized “The Swimmer” as one that had stood out to me, it may have even been my favorite, and that story seems to hold the key to what I liked most about Cheever’s book.  When John upped the “atmosphere” of his work, when flights of fancy took his characters (or was it just Cheever himself) and he incorporated a dream sequence as in “The Death of Justina” or an eroding fantasy as in “The Swimmer,” I was most taken in.  The more straightforward stories were always insightful but the irony they incorporated, especially the earlier ones, often came off a grade gimmicky even as it brought the ghost of a gleeful grin for the glibness of youth.  The alliteration is still just a bonus.

    That said, when talking about John Cheever I’d like to quote what he was able to say about one of his editors, Harold Ross, that “he seems to have done more good than anything else,” and to those of the Cheever following among a certain young, ambitious, literary crowd (a crowd no doubt growing older as we speak and feeling startled at my comparisons and criticisms (just wait till the 21st century folks come up with their own Cheever/Chekov corollary, that could really capsize their conceptions, I calculate)) that might take offense at such a sideways compliment, I would say that I do think Cheever’s place in American literary history is seemly and above all secure, so please don’t scare (here’s to no century ever getting too old for alliteration!), it’s just that for me Cheever’s stories seem to be waiting for something.  But I’m willing to keep looking.  Maybe I’ll find it in one of his novels.

    Craig B author Craig B is a thirty-something lover of books, movies, and rock and roll whose grandmother still worries that he might not be eating enough. (Love you, Grandma!) He lives with his charming wife in the small town of Berne, IN (in sight of the clock tower) where he busies himself keeping the Roses of Sharon in check and training his chinchilla in the ancient arts of the Ninja. Craig’s current favorite book is Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann.
    by Evan | Jan 29, 2018
    The Telomere EffectBook Review:  The Telomere Effect by Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel

    Exercise, meditate, eat right. Avoid sugar, tobacco, depression and constant stress. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

    OK, we know how to raise the odds of a long, healthful life, and we know how to wreck our bodies before we are 60. But what's at the core of all this? Why does this advice help you avoid such seemingly diverse diseases as diabetes, cancer and heart attacks? 

    In The Telomere Effect, Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel have an answer for you. Remember the old line warning you not to burn the candle at both ends? Substitute chromosome for candle and you're close to current scientific understanding of aging and body decline.

    Chromosomes are the long chemical strands that contain your DNA -- the code that built and maintains your body. As your body cells die off, their chromosomes copy themselves to make new cells. The chromosomes have end caps called telomeres. When chromosomes duplicate, the telomeres erode a bit. Over decades, the telomeres get so short that they don't protect the chromosomes well enough and new cells have copying mistakes that can lead to disease.

    If you protect your telomeres with healthy living -- and the authors even tell ways you can lengthen them a little -- you are much more likely to enjoy an active life into your 80s than if you burn those chromosome end caps with a self-destructive lifestyle. The Telomere Effect is not about how to live a super-long life, but if you can spend your 50s, 60s and 70s doing what you want to do instead of being disabled or dead, that qualifies as a good deal. 

    As someone who started a surgeries hobby after I entered my 50s, I was chagrined reading this book. My daughter and many others have been giving me good health advice for a long time, and I've resisted some of it. One rationalization was that I didn't see any over-arching scientific basis for different diets, exercise routines and, worst of all, hours of meditation. 

    Now Blackburn and Epel are denying me that excuse. How about you? 


    EvanEvan - Married, three children, two grandchildren, formerly a newspaper journalist, now a public librarian, at all times a board game nut.
    by Becky C | Jan 26, 2018
    Ursula Le Guin

    Perhaps known best for her literary science fiction, Le Guin is one of few authors whose works can be found in libraries' collections for children, teens, and adults.  A prolific writer, she wrote across genres (and truthfully wasn't all that concerned with labels anyway).  In addition to her novels, she wrote poetry and short stories.  The one description I think holds true for all of her work?  Thought provoking.

    If you haven't read anything by this groundbreaking author yet, but would like to, Mindy and I have a few recommendations for getting started.  Mindy is one of our readers advisory rock stars at ACPL -- she reads A LOT and has a good sense of what books to recommend at any given time.  She's also a huge fun of Ursula Le Guin so she was the perfect person to team up with for this post. 

    If you like Science Fiction, the Hainish stories are a solid choice.  This is a series that comes with the question -- do I read them in publication order or chronological order?  There's no wrong or right answer to that question as Le Guin herself indicates in this introduction -- and rather than summarize this "universe", I'll recommend that you click on the link, as Le Guin addresses the individual titles AND her writing process in a wonderfully conversational way.  Titles in this series include:  Planet of Exile, Rocannon's World, City of Illusions, The Left Hand of Darkness, The Dispossessed, The Word for World is Forest, Four Ways to Forgiveness, and The Telling.

    If you like Fantasy, particularly if you like the Harry Potter series, The Earthsea Cycle is highly recommended.  The world building is exquisite (and its wizard school was around long before Hogwarts).  As this is a continuation of a story, so you'll want to read them in this order:  A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore, Tehanu, The Other Wind, Tales From Earthsea, and The Daughter of Odren.

    If you're looking for something light and fun, try the Catwings series.  It's a kids series but don't let that stop you -- it's about cats with wings.  What could be better?  The books you are looking for are Catwings, Catwings Return, Wonderful Alexander and the Catwings, Jane on Her Own, Tales of the Catwings, and More Tales of the Catwings

    One final recommendation for this post is the memorial written by Margaret Atwood.  While there are many lovely memorials being written for Ursula Le Guin this week, Atwood's is a heartfelt testimony from one literary great to another. 



    Becky CBecky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her favorite books are The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz and The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman..
    by Kayla W | Jan 24, 2018

    “You are excrement. You can change yourself into gold.” – The Alchemist

    The Holy Mountain

    While all films are meant to be viewed, there are some very few that seem to exist as a means of reflecting not just the true values of a culture, but the viewer’s own soul.   Not many succeed in that, with the goalposts of cultural zeitgeist (what can be seen as the individual "spirit" of a time or era) shifting and morphing, so that what was once a thing that spoke to a whole generation of people is now clichéd and therefore next to worthless, in terms of an ideal of reflecting a peoples' values back to them.

    This movie seems to be one that has something to say about the nature of anything and everything, running the gamut of transformation, capitalism, militarization, commodification, mysticism (especially Tarot), cult of personalities, religion, and irreligion. I don't see the key points being made in this movie becoming outdated for as long as Western society continues.  And there’s likely so much more that I haven’t even thought of yet, topics and themes that will become apparent to me through a second, third, fourth viewing.  Such is the power of surrealism and almost purely symbolic characterization.  

    What we’re confronted with in the movie are characters at once almost entirely individualized from one another (albeit, almost purely symbolic of the planets of the solar system), only to be made into mirror images of the Alchemist.  The enigmatic Alchemist is played by the movie's auteur director - and writer, producer - Alejandro Jodorowsky, a choice of self-referential and potentially third-wall breaking casting that says a lot about what we're meant to draw from the role.  The Alchemist is a master who seeks to change his disciples from the materialistic and bizarre, fixated people they once were to those capable of achieving immortality. 

    However, this path to immortality appears to be a veiled ascendance towards a metaphysical enlightenment - a fact that the selfish followers are either oblivious of or are willfully ignorant to.  Most of them exhibit traits belonging to the most abhorrent of what humanity has to offer – opportunistic in a foul way, cruel, possessing strange desires and traits more in line with what we typically see in almost cartoonishly evil characters.  The one we're meant to most follow – and the most likeable - is the one known as the Thief, who is a clear stand in for a confused and near-helpless version of Jesus Christ.   

    All of the members of the Alchemist’s group have been assembled with the goal of losing their ties to the material world that gave all but the Thief riches and fame, with the express goal of finding - and taking the place of - the immortal Gods on Lotus Island who live atop the Holy Mountain.   The movie goes from the lost wanderings of a clear stand-in for Jesus Christ to a description of a group of strange and hedonistic, monstrous people to a mystic heist movie without missing a beat. And it is glorious, unapologetic.

    Throughout the movie, we find that perhaps the most interesting thing touched on (from a first time viewer’s perspective) is this idea of how foolish it is to use spiritual enlightenment as a tool to gain something as selfish as godhood for the "mere" sake of immortality.

    The story is an archetypal journey that seems to go through the Tarot deck, from the Fool to the World, a dream that nevertheless has a line of logic that you can (thankfully) latch on to in order to weather the emotional and mental storm that this movie puts you through. 

    The film itself is a feast for the eyes, contrasting bright colors and bizarre, truly novel concepts (such as a factory, where “art” is made via assembly line… from the nude parts of paint-slathered people).  Most importantly for something so surreal, the movie never seems to stray far into taking itself so seriously that it loses touch with a sense of humor, which ranges from almost infantile to this sort of deep satire on the nature of human existence.

    As deeply enlightening and beautiful as it is silly and grotesque, this movie may be my favorite movie ever.  It was a wonderful surprise to me when the ACPL acquired a DVD of the beautifully restored film.  I found that the special feature in which Alejandro Jodorowsky explains his personal interpretation of the major Arcana of Tarot to be one of the most enlightening pieces I've ever experienced on the topic.  To me, it is a feature not to be missed.

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

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

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

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

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