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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

    Becky CBecky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her favorite books are The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz and The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman..
    by Nancy | Nov 29, 2017

    Freegal holiday

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

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

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

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

    Happy Holidays!


    snowmen image via pixaby

     

     

    by Kayla W | Nov 27, 2017

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

        —Kanji Tatsumi, Persona 4

     

    Persona 4 Golden 

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

    by Emily M | Nov 24, 2017

    holidayscore5 holidayscore4 holidayscore6

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

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



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

     

    by Becky C | Nov 20, 2017
    This Beautiful FantasticDVD review:  This Beautiful Fantastic

    Librarian Bella Brown begins each day with the declaration, "Today, I'm going to make a difference."  And by the end of this contemporary fairy tale, she does -- although not by presenting a library member with the right book, at the right time.  As it turns out, someone will lend her the right book, at the right time.  And then she will write her own.

    Bella is an eccentric character.  She keeps the interior of her rented flat in London impeccably neat but has let her garden become a mess.  This annoys her grumpy neighbor Alfie a great deal.  After she falls in a storm, she finds herself on his couch, being tended by a doctor and Alfie's cook, Vernon.  Alfie rants at everyone.  The next morning, Bella's landlord shows up to inspect the property and gives her one month to clean it up or she will be evicted.

    And so it begins.  It's a lovely movie.  Yes, some things were a bit hasty -- I think the Vernon storyline would have been more plausible had we been given the sense that he and Bella encountered each other regularly -- but it really didn't nag me for long.  And I found myself wondering where his extensive legal knowledge came from -- was he a lawyer before he became a cook, or did he just really like reading up on the law?  Did I miss something?  Minor quibbles.  I loved the growth of the relationships among Bella, Alfie, and Vernon. 

    Charming as he was, I felt myself empathizing with the head librarian regarding Bella's love interest, Billy.  When the librarian tells you that eating is not allowed in the library, don't bring a messy sandwich and eat it at a library table, surrounded by several old books.  Sheesh.  And I wish the scene where Billy invites Bella back to his home had been done differently.  That aside, Jessica Brown Findlay (Bella) and Jeremy Irvine (Billy) were adorable together.

    Dry humor is sprinkled throughout the movie and I loved every bit of it.  The librarian in charge of Bella's workplace alternates between spelling out admonishments on a letter board and using the PA system when she's particularly frustrated with people talking in the library.  Alfie, expertly played by Tom Wilkenson, has the best lines.  Vernon, played by Andrew Scott (Moriarty on Sherlock), has the best facial expressions. 

    If you enjoy a good fairy tale every now and then, give this dvd a try.  And, if you like it, please share your favorite Alfie quotes in the comments!


    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 | Nov 17, 2017
    Yes, it's time for upcoming releases for the months of November 15 to December 14, 2017. Winter's howling around the corner, it's time to get out a warm book and relax. Here are a few I'm hearing good things about. And, remember these dates reflect the release dates not the dates they will hit the library shelves.

    Historical Romance
    Victoria Alexander

    Victoria Alexander
    The Lady Traveler’s Guide to Larceny With a Dashing Stranger
    Lady Travelers Society series
    November 28

    Loretta Chase

    Loretta Chase
    A Duke in Shining Armor
    Difficult Dukes series
    November 28

    Alyssa Cole

    Alyssa Cole
    A Hope Divided
    The Loyal League series
    November 28


    Contemporary Romance/Mainstream Fiction/Women's Fiction
    Rai 

    Alisha Rai
    Wrong to Need You
    Forbidden Hearts series
    Contemporary Romance
    November 28


    Mystery/Thrillers/Romantic Suspense/Suspense
    Gleason

    C.M. Gleason
    Murder in the Lincoln White House
    Lincoln's White House Mystery series
    Mystery
    November 28

    m_rollins

    James Rollins
    The Demon Crown

    A Sigma Force Novel series
    Thriller
    December 5

    m_schlmins

    Joanna Schaffhausen
    The Vanishing Season
    Thriller
    December 5


    Paranormal/Fantasy/Science Fiction/Urban Fantasy
    Lynn Kurland

    Lynn Kurland
    The Dreamer’s Song
    Nine Kingdom's series
    Paranormal
    December 5

    Robin Owens

    Robin Owens
    Heart Sight
    A Celta Novel series
    Fantasy
    December 5





    kayKay is an avid reader of historical romance books, maybe with a little trip into paranormal land and an occasional journey into mystery world.
    by Craig B | Nov 15, 2017

    cover for Alex Haley's novel, RootsBook Review: Alex Haley's winner of the 1977 Special Pulitzer Prize, Roots

    I may have to go back and read a Kenneth Roberts book evidently.

    See, though Roots is the first single novel to receive a “Special Pulitzer,” 20 years before Alex Haley took his prize in 1977, Kenneth Roberts was awarded a “Special Pulitzer” for a body of historical novels that “have long contributed to the creation of greater interest in our early American history.”  Sure, sure, there were other Special Pulitzers before and after Kenneth Roberts, but most of them went to newspapermen or newspapers or works of history and the like and since I’m in the business of reading Pulitzer novels and not newspapers or histories or entire bodies of work (I’m saving that for the Nobels when I read them) I haven’t had to worry too much about “Special Pulitzers” until now.  That said, I really do feel like my journey won’t be complete until I read at least one Kenneth Roberts novel, but maybe that can be a very good bridge over to the Nobels …

    More to the point, Roots is magnificent.  Yes, yes there has been controversy over some of the “factual” details of the story, but the real point is that this story happened, in whole, in part, in a variety of pieces to millions of people over the course of two or three centuries.  As we read the novel, as we consider Haley’s use of the term “faction,” and as we look at our lives today, we should keep that in mind. 

    Roots is quite a long book, and you probably know how I feel about that, but I can say with confidence, even if you can’t commit to the whole 899 pages you should definitely try to get through the first 83 chapters comprising the story arc of Kunta Kinte.  I think you’ll find it well-written enough to be absolutely worth your time.  And now for that Kenneth Roberts novel.  Anyone got a suggestion?

    by Evan | Nov 13, 2017
    Ex Libris

    Ex Libris is a new board game by Adam P. McIver in which you build your own library. In a fantasy town. With hundreds of punny book titles. ("Conjury to Avoid Jury Duty") Where you have to master a simple backward version of the Dewey Decimal system. Could anything be geekier?

    The game itself can be straightforward or tricky, depending on how much you care about tactics. But you can just have fun with the concept, enjoying the humor and building a library collection to please everyone -- especially the town authorities, who do not like banned books. You can also unleash your inner fussiness, because if you're going to win, you have to make sure your books are properly organized on your shelves. 

    (The phrase "ex libris" is a little mysterious. It traditionally appears on bookplates that show who owns the book. Internet searches suggest it means "from the books of" or "from books," but our Latin-English dictionary doesn't have the word "libris" at all. If you are a bit of a Latin scholar and can comment about this, please do so.) 

    Meanwhile, if you and your friends love books, humor and fantasy -- and have maybe just a little OCD -- Ex Libris may be a good game for you. 



    EvanEvan - Married, three children, two grandchildren, formerly a newspaper journalist, now a public librarian, at all times a board game nut.
    by Craig B | Nov 10, 2017
    cover for The Killers' album, Wonderful WonderfulMaybe a five minute opener for The Killers’ new album, Wonderful Wonderful, wasn’t such a good idea, although I appreciate the musical exploration.  I’m a little uncomfortable with the bald self-promotion of the second track, but goodness gracious, it is catchy.  That aside, the best track on this album for me was “Tyson vs Douglas.”  What a funny, appropriate metaphor for the loss of innocence (that’s what it’s about, right?); the sort of song that makes listening to an entire album out of curiosity mostly worth it.  One great song is all it takes, or at least that’s what the final track on Wonderful Wonderful would have us believe, that “just … one (is needed) to get through to (us).”  Well, for now, The Killers are correct.  They got through.  And it took just one.  I mean, I’m writing this mostly-positive blog post, right?

    Suggested Use: This album is not for sharing.  At least not in its entirety.  It might be good to sample from for a playlist, but its real utility lies in its encouragement of you getting some alone time.  The New Wave New Wave quality of Wonderful Wonderful is just too confusing for groups of friends.  Besides you don’t want anyone around when you tear up to “Tyson vs. Douglas,” right?

    by Emily M | Nov 08, 2017
    Looking for a book recommendation?  Look no further!  Here are a few good books I've enjoyed recently.

    TheKitchenDaughterBook Review: The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry

    Twenty-six year old Ginny Selvaggio has undiagnosed Asperger’s syndrome and leads a protected life, living at home with her parents who provide for her, while she spends her time surfing the internet and perfecting her cooking skills. When Ginny’s parents die in a freak accident, Ginny finds herself struggling under the weight of her grief, while clashing with her sister, Amanda.  Amanda believes they should sell their parents’ house and Ginny should move in with Amanda and her husband and children.  Ginny, on the other hand, is determined that she can continue to live alone in her parents’ home. 

    The themes of grief and family conflict are hardly original in fiction, but The Kitchen Daughter is unique in that it mixes in a touch of magical realism.  After her parents’ funeral, Ginny discovers that if she cooks the hand-written recipe of someone who has passed on, their ghost will appear to her.  Clues shared by these ghosts, along with old family mementos Ginny discovers while cleaning out the house, will unveil family secrets that are not what they seem.   


    hownottohateyourhusbandafterkidsBook Review: How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids by Jancee Dunn

    Jancee Dunn’s How Not to Hate Your Husband after Kids is laugh-out-loud funny, full of relatable, real-life anecdotes, and the advice is both practical and helpful. 

    Many couples have strong, healthy marriages before having children, but develop struggles after children enter the picture.  Dunn, a free-lance writer living in New York City with her husband and six-year-old daughter, felt her marriage fit this category and wanted to do something about it.  While Dunn openly admitted she could sometimes turn into a screaming harpy, she felt justified in her anger considering she did the majority of the childcare and housework, despite the fact that she and her husband both worked.  Dunn spent months doing research, interviewing family and friends, and going to various counselors with her husband.  What she found was that her situation was one shared by many women, and one that often wreaks havoc on marriages. 

    Dunn’s honest and self-deprecating portrayal of herself within her marriage was both entertaining and insightful.  The many stories shared, both from her own marriage and from friends and family, illustrated perfectly what she found to be true in the academic research.  Perhaps most important of all, the advice shared in the book can easily be put into practice.  While simple, it is also effective.  “Your spouse can’t read your mind.  Tell them clearly what you want” and “Say thank you often” are just a few of the gems Dunn shares with her readers.  While the title indicates this is a book for women with children, it’s actually great for both men and women, as well as couples who don’t have kids. 


    thetwofamilyhouseBook Review: The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman

    In New York City in the 1940s, two brothers live intertwined lives, despite being vastly different in temperament, interests, skills, and personality.  Together, the two brothers run the cardboard box factory left to them by their father.  And together with their wives and children, the brothers live in the same house, one family in the upstairs apartment and one family in the downstairs apartment.

    At first glance, this is a scene of domestic bliss: a successful family business, sisters-in-law who are the best of friends, and cousins who can play together every day.  Underneath the lovely façade, however, fissures of discontent will lead to a shocking choice wrapped in secrets and lies.  In The Two-Family House, Loigman explores themes of family, friendship, loss, and betrayal with subtlety and grace. 

    What about you?  What good books have you read lately?


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

     

    by Becky C | Nov 06, 2017
    Editor's Note:  Becky is one of our roaming librarians.  She works at each of the Ask Here desks as needed.  The variety of questions keeps her on her toes and that's one of her favorite things about working at ACPL!

    Business and Technology


    Business, Science & Technology is located on the second floor of the Main Library.  If you've called 260-421-1200, there's an excellent chance you've spoken with the librarians in our department.  All calls to ACPL's general number are routed here first -- however, if both of our lines are busy, the calls are routed to Readers' Services -- another helpful group of folks!   

    As you enter the department, you'll notice the Ask Here desk to the left.  Make sure you stop by!  We have more than a few tips and tricks up our sleeves for making the most of your visit. 

    You'll also notice that we have a large, comfortable seating area beneath the circular window.  Our legal reference collection lines the wall -- you know we have an extensive legal collection, right?  While the reference sets must be used inside the department, we also have several self-help legal titles within the regular stacks that you can check out.  You'll want to note that while we can help you figure out the various indexes involved, we cannot tell you which form you may need for your situation.  That would take us over the line from helpful librarian to someone attempting to practice law without a license.  If you have questions about what form you may need, we can show you options but the decision remains yours.  We have a handout at the desk with numbers you may call for limited legal advice.

    The shelves across from the Ask Here desk feature new titles added to our collection.  Popular topics shelved in our department include Astronomy, Cookbooks, Do It Yourself Manuals, Finance, Gardening, Health & Drug Information, Job Search, Legal Guides, Pet Care, and Repair Manuals.  We also have display shelving to highlight timely titles we think you may be interested in -- please feel free to check them out!

    As you browse the shelves, you may notice that we have a collection of catalogs available for checkout.  I love these!  We also have a unique map collection -- contour maps of Indiana, Ohio and Michigan, divided into quadrangles at a 1:24,000 scale.  

    While we cover several subjects within our department, Business, Science and Technology is one of six specialized departments within the Main Library.  Topics we may only touch aspects of will be more fully represented in either Art, Music & Media; Childrens'; Genealogy; Readers' Services, or Teens(Look for posts about each of those departments in the weeks to come)

    We have 13 regular use and 2 Express (15 minute use) computers in our department.  Business, Science & Technology, Art, Music & Media, and Readers' Services all provide computers for general public use.  To use our computers,  you need to bring your library card -- if you have the ACPL app on your phone, you can use it to scan your bar code to sign up.  Printing is available -- we charge 10 cents a page for a black/white copy and 25 cents a page for a color copy.  You'll want to bring dollar bills with you -- the machines we use to load money on your library card to pay for the printouts only work with paper money -- they don't accept change and they don't provide change.  Any money you load onto your library card remains on there until you deduct it for copies. 

    Finally, we have one study room available on a first come/first served basis.  It's popular!

    Whew!  I hope you enjoyed this "tour" of the department!  If you did, and if you're interested in follow-up posts about specific features, please leave a comment.  I'd love to hear from you! 

    Perhaps you'd like to contact the Business, Science & Technology Department directly?  We can be reached at 260-421-1215


    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 | Nov 03, 2017

    nanowrimo

    What is NaNoWriMo?  It is a writing marathon that asks its participants to try their hand at writing the rough draft of a long form writing project throughout the month of November. The website which the program calls its home base got its start and continues forward with one major goal in mind – to hopefully begin and end a writing project in the space of thirty days.  To be more specific, the original goal of the San Francisco-based program was to propel novel writers to burn through the projected word count of a typical novel – fifty-thousand words – beginning on the first official minute of November first, and ending as soon as midnight strikes for the first day of December.

    National Novel Writing Month, or as it is oftentimes known as NaNoWriMo, has been a “thing”, mainly in the U.S, for the past eighteen years. Yes, this year the month-long writing marathon is old enough to drink alcohol, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to encourage Allen County writers to give it the old college try.  I, myself, haven’t participated in what amounts to a writer’s version of a triathlon for years.  This year, I am returning.  I hope to entice a few others to join me and the local community of writers to give Allen County some pride, in the form of a raise in this years’ shared wordcount.

    Sound like your sort of masochistic fun?  Then your first step would be to check out the site for yourself, and see if it’s something that you would like to do.  If you do it off-site and without any writing buddies, it’s an endurance test that you may hopefully reap the rewards of in the coming year or years. Well worth a shot, if you ask me! If you participate, the main area of attention has always been the forums, where you can find writers and the writing curious hanging out in one place for one magical month.  There, you can expect to ask and answer some questions that have been gnawing at the back of your mind and find some of the finest procrastination during the month where you really shouldn’t be doing just that. 

    Yes, it's already started, but there's nothing stopping you from jumping in - I'm sure with just a few extra hours of hardcore writing, you'll catch right up!

    As far as I know, the NaNo-ers have had a meet-up at one of the ACPL branches not too long ago, but I don't know if there happen to be any more regional meet-ups in the works.  If there are, I would encourage first timers especially to check in, whether it's a mini pep rally over coffees, or it's a friendly write-in.  If you're interested in joining or hosting a meet-up, I would recommend checking into the regional forum of your choice and checking to see what's already planned.   If you want to write or talk writing in person, that's great!  To me, NaNoWriMo is all about writers coming out of their work spaces and joining in conversation about the craft that is so often a lonesome prospect.

    If you find yourself in need of inspiration, I would recommend borrowing one of the ACPL's copies of the creator of NaNoWriMo's ode to writing, No Plot? No Problem! 

    If you’re interested in joining us, then there’s just one thing I want to say, and that is: gentlefolk, get ready to start your engines!

    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 Nancy | Nov 01, 2017
    Poldark cast image via BBC

    So, the third season of Poldark on PBS is airing now.  It’s so nice to have that Sunday evening treat each week.  I was smitten with Ross Poldark and Demelza right out of the gate with season 1.  After it aired, I read all of Winston Graham’s Poldark books (12 in all!) in quick succession.  I even tried to watch the 1970’s version of Poldark, but despite all the raves, I couldn’t get into it.  I also tried other Winston Graham books to tide me over (because, of course, the new season took a long time coming), but alas, they didn’t hold a candle to the Poldark clan.  Maybe one day I’ll try his other books again, though probably not before re-reading these.

    The Poldark books, or, more properly, the Novels of Cornwall, made me think about the human condition.  I could connect with the characters’ flaws so well.  Yes, even George Warleggan (perhaps a little too much for comfort).  Elizabeth too.  Even though I know what is coming, I love seeing these actors play it out.  Graham set his stories in a particular time (late 1700s and early 1800s) and place (Cornwall, England) and his research bleeds into the story.  The books had me tracking down information online about steam engines, Napoleon, and other historical facts included in the novels.  I found myself trying to figure out where names like Demelza and Clowance came from (they are places in Cornwall).  But mostly, I just wanted to find out what happened to Ross, Demelza, Morwenna, George, Valentine…. I know there is so much to come!  The current season is covering books 5 & 6, The Black Moon and The Four Swans.  So they are moving right along. 

    But reading the books, as is usually the case, made me a bit disappointed in the casting.  I have one major change I would make.  There are two female leads that I feel would have been a better match to the books had they just switched roles.  Can you guess which two female actors I would have swapped?

    How about you?  Are you a fan of the series?  Are you reading the books?  I’d love to connect with you!

    PS: If you like Poldark, I think you would like season 1 of Victoria too.  Lord Melbourne--swoon!  Again, so much history and human flaws!  Of course, watching it had me reading Daisy Goodwin’s book and a biography of Lord Melbourne by Lord Cecil which I can highly recommend.  Fascinating man.  Season 2 of Victoria in January will hopefully keep me going after season 3 of Poldark ends and the long wait returns.

    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!





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    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.