Thursday, July 31, 2014

Books We've Missed: Arthurian Legend….

Time for another edition of Books We've Missed! This month it's Kristin's turn.


For “Books we've missed” one of the books chosen for me was Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. Mary chose this for me. Her reasons for my needing to read it are:
  • Classic fantasy book
  • Arthurian Legend
  • One of her favorites
You may ask: “Why did you miss this nearly 900 page behemoth with large pages, tiny type, and narrow margins?” Well, my curious friend, it was because it was just too short for me. I really prefer a book I can sink my teeth into. People really don’t spend enough time developing characters and plot like they used to.

Sarcasm aside, here’s my quick synopsis of what’s going on in Mists. This book is about the women surrounding Arthur, the legendary King of Camelot, with a hard look at Morgan Le Fey, called Morgaine throughout the novel. Morgaine becomes a priestess of the Isle of Avalon, serving the Goddess and striving to maintain the religion and traditions of the old ways, while Christianity and a patriarchal society bulldoze the female-centered religion of old. We also hear a lot from Igraine who is Morgaine and Arthur’s mother, Morgause who is their Aunt, and Gwenhwyfar, Arthur’s wife. Instead of focusing on the males in the legend, this is about the females who shaped events and the lives of Arthurian legends. It is about the great things that happened, along with the trivial issues of a woman during this time period.

At first I was very excited about this book. Arthurian legend interests me and I thought delving into a deeper look at the characters and happenings would be fun. Then it just kept going and going, so I stopped after reading the first part. The book really takes its time developing the characters and I just stopped caring. The story of Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table is so rich and adventurous. However, this was not a book about the knights; it’s about the women. What an amazing idea, one might think! These were women who were very influential in the tales, and to see how they helped or hindered progress during this period should be fascinating. Instead of fascination, I found boredom. All the magic was taken out from the stories because they just became ordinary political happenings. There are certainly intriguing parts about the matriarchal old religion and how Christianity weakened the woman’s position in society. I usually find the everyday happenings of people in different eras enlightening, but damn it 900 pages is far too much! The thing is, the boys were still doing the cool stuff!
So in the end, I get why some really love this book. If you are patient, unlike me, it is a very rich, layered story about a legendary subject matter. For me, it was too much. I need to feel like I’m getting somewhere and this book made me feel like I was slogging through drying cement.

~Kristin M.

Don't forget to tell us which books you've missed!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I Own the Most Books From

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! Today's topic is authors I own the most books from. Since I began working in a library, I don't buy anywhere near as many books as I once did. However, I still do feel the need to buy books by the authors I love, especially if I think I will reread someday. Looking at my personal library, I discovered a couple surprises about whose books I have the most of, but mostly I was not shocked by my assortment. In no particular order, my list is below. Enjoy!
Top Ten Tuesday is a meme started on the Broke and the Bookish blog.
They set the topic, we make the lists. Visit their site to see more on this topic

Sarah Dessen
With Sarah Dessen at ALA 2013!
No surprise here. I love Dessen's YA books. She has a unique way of creating memorable tales of teen love, while not being too predictable. My favorites of hers are Keeping the Moon and Just Listen. I impatiently wait for each new release. Last year at ALA, I even got to meet her!

Jennifer Crusie
I really enjoy funny romance novels. I consider them rom-coms, in the same vein as films. Because I frequently revisit my favorite films, I often revisit my favorite authors, and Crusie is really high on that list. I have read all of her books, and I just reread Agnes and the Hitman, one of her best (written with Bob Mayer).

Jim Butcher
By far my favorite sci-fi series is "The Dresden Files," so naturally, I have several books by Jim Butcher. I'd like to say I have the whole series, but I'm a library person, and I haven't bought them all. I have weird numbers in this series that were bought on impulse. They're up to book 15 now, and Harry Dresden is back to being awesome!

Lemony Snicket
"The Complete Wreck" image from amazon.com
I love the "Series of Unfortunate Events" and I have the whole collection--"The Complete Wreck." These books are dark and funny, and they remind me of fairy tales. I wasn't a huge fan of the film, but I love the books. My favorites are The Bad Beginning and The Reptile Room. (And they are so pretty I won't let anyone else read them!)

Christie Craig
So, as seen above, I am a fan of the rom-com books. I picked up Divorced, Desperate, and Delicious several years ago and got quite the kick out of it. This series' books all involve some sort of mystery/crime/life endangerment. Plus, there is romance, and hilarity. In the first book, the man makes what he thinks is a tuna sandwich, but is actually cat food. Cute, sweet, and fast-paced.

Dr. Seuss
You never know when you may want to curl up with The Lorax. I just love Dr. Seuss books, so I have a tendency to purchase them for my own collection. I also have a few books about the good doctor in my personal library.

With Meg Cabot, July 2012.
Meg Cabot
I've read all sorts of Meg Cabot's books over the years. As a teen I read a lot of the "Princess Diaries" books (so there are several of those in my collection), and as an adult, I fell in love with her "Boy" series of books, Queen of Babble, plus the "Heather Wells Mystery" series. Two years ago I was able to meet her at a local event as well!

Jane Austen
I am above all things a classy lady, so of course I have the complete Jane Austen collection. There are actually a few duplicate copies that I cannot bear to part with. My favorite is Pride and Prejudice, but I'm also a big fan of Emma.

Brothers Grimm
This one came as a bit of a surprise to me, but I guess it shouldn't. I enjoy fairy tales and I own several interpretations of Grimm tales, including a few different copies of collections. The latest that I very much enjoyed was Philip Pullman's take on the tales.

Image from gretasjunkyard.com
Megan McCafferty
I have the whole "Jessica Darling" series of books. In high school and college I was obsessed with this series. I recall walking through the halls between classes walking and reading in order to reread all of them before the newest book came out. When the final book in the series was released, Perfect Fifths, I read the book in one sitting. She recently started a middle grade series with the same characters, but I'm not as into those.

And you, reader? Whose books line your shelves?

~Cailey W.

PS-you knew I had to flaunt those pics with authors, right?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fabulous Reads: Summer 2014

Summer time!! Yipee! If you’re a parent, maybe you’re a little more stressed with the kids at home. Bring them to the library! 

The summer makes for some fun reading time, so here are some books that are hot, hot, hot this year!

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Mentor Public Library staff is in the midst of passing this book around. For those of you who are bibliophiles, this is a book for you. A.J. Fikry is the owner of Island Books, a small bookstore off of Massachusetts. He’s a snob and a bit of a grump. He has very specific reading tastes and is not exactly popular in the community. His world starts changing with the arrival of Amelia, the new sales representative for Knightely Publishing, and then Maya, a three-year-old girl, is left in A.J.’s care. This is such a sweet story, and is definitely worthy of your summer reading list. 

The Skin Collector by Jeffery Deaver
The newest from Deaver, this book is about a new serial killer called…you guessed it, the Skin Collector. As bodies begin showing up, Lincoln Rhyme is back to investigate. The serial killer's signature: he tattoos his victims with cryptic messages. The ink he uses, however, is a deadly poison that eventually kills them. 

The Closer by Mariano Rivera
In this revealing memoir from the famous Yankees' pitcher, learn about the ins and outs of Yankees' baseball. Rivera talks about his beginnings in Panama, and then being swept to Florida to play in the big leagues. He also talks about the behind the bull pen dramas, rivalries, and his own struggles. A must-read for baseball fans. 

Walking on Water by Richard Paul Evans
The fifth installment in "The Walk" series finds Alan Christofferson coming to the end of his cross-country journey. After many personal losses, Alan has found hope and renewal on his long journey. A new crisis at home draws him back to his roots, but now, hopefully, the strength he has gained will help him through.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer
A dazzling new historical fiction novel about WWII. Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris. At the age of six she went blind, but finds her way around the city until her father and her are forced to flee during the Nazi invasion. They end up at her uncle’s in Saint-Malo. Weaved together with her story is that of a young German boy, Werner, who has a talent with radios. He moves through the Hitler Youth and becomes a sought-after tracker of the Resistance in France where his and Marie’s paths cross.

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
Oyeyemi uses fairy tales as a jumping off point, and in this tale, the role of the wicked stepmother is reimagined. It is 1953 and Boy Novak marries a widower to become the stepmother to Snow Whitman. As the story continues, Boy becomes the role she never imagined she’d play, wicked stepmother. It happens after her own baby is born. Bird is a dark skinned girl and she exposes the Whitman family as light-skinned African Americans. How much does being fairest of them all really matter to this family?

Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff
If you’re a gamer, give this a read. Lesh and Svetlana literally run into each other on the street in Minnesota. Lesh is into MMOs and Svetlana is a dungeon master, but their chance meeting opens them up to the life of the other.

Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris
This is the first in a new series from the author of the "Sookie Stackhouse" series. Midnight, Texas seems like another dried-up town to anyone passing through. Boarded up buildings, a lonesome feeling, and townies who prefer their privacy. Midnight is the perfect place for newcomer Manfred Bernardo to work. No one asks him questions, but then again, maybe nobody wants questions asked of them either…

The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman
For those of you who have loved Grossman’s "Magicians" series, here is the final act. The series is likened to a grown-up Harry Potter. In the last installment, Quentin has been cast out of Fillroy, a secret magical land, and must return to the prep school that started his whole journey. Quentin uncovers new secrets, and finds a spell that could create a new magical utopia, but at a very high cost.

What's your summer read this year?

~Kristin M.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Movies and Television Shows, Part 2

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! As promised, this week is the much-anticipated Part 2 of last week's Top Ten list of favorite movies and tv. This week's topic is top television shows! Enjoy!
Top Ten Tuesday is a meme started on the Broke and the Bookish blog.
They set the topic, we make the lists. Visit their site to see more on this topic

TELEVISION
1. At first glance, Gilmore Girls could easily be written off as cheesy family drama. Airing from 2000-2007 on the WB and CW, it is actually one of the sharpest written shows of that decade. The distinct voice of Gilmore Girls can be attributed to creator Amy Sherman-Palladino who imbued it with her whip-smart, mile-a-minute, pop-culture laced dialog. It’s a testament to everyone who worked on the show that they’ve managed to create such a vibrant world that feels lived in. The fictional setting of Stars Hollow is a place I often wished I could go – to drink Founders’ Day punch and gossip with Babette, to listen to one of Miss Patty’s off-color stories of her time dancing on Broadway, or to eat burgers and pie at Luke’s Diner. 


2. Orphan Black in a nutshell:


If that picture doesn’t impress you, then you don’t realize that all three of those characters are played by one extraordinary actress: twenty eight-year-old Tatiana Maslany. Orphan Black kicks off when small-time con woman, Sarah Manning sees a girl who looks just like her committing suicide on a train platform. Sensing an opportunity, Sarah steals her purse with a plan to drain her bank account. Almost immediately, Sarah finds herself wrapped up in a clone conspiracy that pits science vs. religion in a battle for her autonomy. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Maslany is tasked with playing up to nine different clones, often portraying multiple characters in one scene (and don’t even get me started on the clones impersonating each other). What’s really incredible is that Maslany has developed each character so completely, giving each a unique set of mannerisms and accents, that most of the time you forget you’re watching the work of just one person.

3. On the first day of her crappy temp job, eighteen-year-old Georgia (who prefers to be called George) Lass is killed by a toilet seat falling from the deorbiting Mir space station. 


George at Happy Time Temp Agency.
Fortunately, George was uninterested in living life, so death comes as a welcome relief. Unfortunately, George is recruited as a grim reaper and must now spend her time ushering souls to the great beyond. Also, grim reapers aren’t paid, so she is forced back into the crappy temp job she was working before she died. That’s par for the course when it comes to creator Bryan Fuller’s Dead Like Me, a show that manages to combine the heartbreaking, the grotesque, and the hilarious into one can’t-miss show.

4. The ultimate example of brilliant but cancelled has to go to Paul Feig and Judd Apatow’s Freaks and Geeks. The show makes you remember just how awkward growing up felt, while also being endlessly entertaining. A lot of that has to do with the impressive cast Feig and Apatow put together - including Linda Cardellini, John Francis Daley, James Franco, Seth Rogen, and Jason Segel.

5. I wish I had never seen Friday Night Lights just so I could experience it again for the first time. Most people see it as “just that football show,” but I assure you, it is much more. The town of Dillon, Texas is a living, breathing place. It’s populated with hard working people who, on Friday nights, go see their beloved Panthers play football. Kyle Chandler stars as head coach, Eric Taylor, who has the challenging job of guiding his boys on the path to becoming good men,  while also dealing with the pressure of the town expecting him to bring home a state championship. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.

That's my top five, what's yours?


~Meredith T.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Dive into the Discworld

Hello, readers! This is Ariel from MPL’s Lake Branch. I was recently invited by our lovely librarians to contribute to this wonderful blog, and I am so excited to participate! Right off the bat, you should know that I am an avid reader of the fantasy genre. I’ll try my best to mix it up a bit here and there, but don’t be surprised if all my contributions are fantastic. You should also know that I’m terrible with puns.


For my debut on Mentor’s Reader, I thought it best to talk about my all-time favorite fantasy series—Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. These books are cram-packed with parodies of classic fantasy tropes and references to popular culture, all presented with Pratchett’s signature British wit. And while the stories take place on a world full of witches and werewolves and trolls (oh my!), the stories often contain sly commentaries on reality. Fans of Paul Di Filippo, Patricia Wrede, and Douglas Adams will understand how fantasy and humor can be combined to create a reading experience that is both amusing and thought-provoking

Every book takes place on the Discworld, a flat slab of land that floats around in space on the backs of four elephants, who in turn stand on the back of a giant tortoise. The great thing about all of the books existing in the same universe is that it allows the characters from different stories to pop up at random and interact with each other, which is really neat.

Another great thing about the series is that you don’t necessarily have to read them in order. By focusing on a handful of interesting characters and containing a fully developed story, each book stands well on its own.   

That being said, there are some larger story arcs that span multiple titles. In these cases, I definitely recommend reading them in order, because it really makes the whole experience more enjoyable. (I speak from experience; I read one story arc in reverse order. It was kind of weird to see the main character and his wife having their first child in the first book I read, finding out they were expecting in the second, getting married in the third, etc.) 

Here are a few of the larger and more popular story arcs, with their corresponding titles:

Rincewind the Wizard: These books feature Rincewind, a wizard with little magical aptitude. Rincewind is the protagonist of Pratchett’s earliest Discworld novels, so he has a long history. It’s pretty funny seeing how Rincewind handles himself in all of the ridiculous situations he comes across. (Personally, I didn’t enjoy Pratchett’s earlier work as much, but I guess everyone has to start somewhere.)
Titles: The Colour of Magic, The Light Fantastic, Sourcery, Eric, Interesting Times, The Last Continent, The Last Hero, Unseen Academicals


The Witches of Lancre: One thing that I’ve always admired about Pratchett is his ability to create good female protagonists. Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, a couple of the witches in this story arc, are prime examples. They’re smart and funny, and I wish they were real so I could hang out with them.
Titles: Equal Rites, Wyrd Sisters, Witches Abroad, Lords and Ladies, Maskerade, Carpe Jugulum


The City Watch: This is probably the most popular of Pratchett’s major story arcs. Join the large ensemble of characters that make up Ankh-Morpork’s law enforcement as they patrol the streets and do other police-type things, like investigating crimes and solving mysteries. This arc features one of the most pronounced character development in the whole series—notably that of Sam Vimes, who is transformed from drunkard to respected gentleman. (Remember when I said I read one arc backwards?)
Titles: Guards!Guards!, Men at Arms, Feet of Clay, Jingo, The Fifth Elephant, The Truth, The Last Hero, Night Watch, Monstrous Regiment, Thud!

This year’s release of Raising Steam marked the publication of the 40th title in the Discworld series. Yeah. Forty. And that doesn’t include the dozens of books about the series.


I’ll let you get settled on the Discworld before I start talking about those.


~Ariel J.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Movies and Television Shows, Part 1

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! Despite the fact that this is a bookish blog, we are also quite the film and television fanatics. Today's Top Ten Tuesday is so intense, so detailed, and so amazing, that the gift will keep on giving next week! Check here next Tuesday for the continuation.

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme started on the Broke and the Bookish blog.
They set the topic, we make the lists. Visit their site to see more on this topic

MOVIES
1. A list of best movies and television could really just begin and end with Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amélie. Released in 2001 and starring Audrey Tautou, Amélie is everything I could want from a movie. It’s a little dark, a little weird, and really happy. The film’s tagline, “she’ll change your life,” says it all - Amélie travels around Paris anonymously making strangers lives better with random acts of kindness. The movie boasts an eye-popping red/yellow/green (with an occasional splash of blue) color scheme and a mesmerizing soundtrack that gives the whole story a dreamlike quality. It’s really a perfect movie.




2. My favorite movie of 2013 was so great; it also makes my top five favorite movies. Short Term 12 is a quiet story of at-risk teens in a foster facility. Brie Larson stars as Grace, a counselor who is barely masking pain and is not so far removed from the kids she’s responsible for. I really can’t say anything about this movie better than The Dissolve’s Nathan Rabin, who spent much of his adolescence in a similar situation.
3. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast was actually the first movie I ever saw in theaters. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the title screen fading away to reveal Belle stepping out of her house, singing the opening lines of her song. In 1991, Beauty and the Beast kicked off a decade of filmmaking that’s known today as the “Disney Renaissance.” It was the first and only animated feature to be nominated for best picture (that is, until the academy upped the number of nominees from 5 to 10 in 2009 when Pixar’s Up was subsequently honored). I also highly recommend the documentary, Waking Sleeping Beauty which chronicles the resurgence of creativity within Disney’s animation studio after a series of flops in the 1980s.

4. A modernist masterpiece, Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind manages to capture the essence of memory and imagination. The movie begins after the relationship between Joel and Clementine (played by Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, arguably doing some of their best work) has long since soured. Clementine seeks the help of Lacuna Inc. and Dr. Mierzwiak to erase all her memories of Joel and when Joel finds out, he does the same. We follow Joel through his memories of his relationship with Clementine, beginning with the most recent – the quiet bitterness and resentment – and traveling back to when they first started to fall in love. What is especially great about Gondry’s direction is, as Joel’s memories get older, they get less clear. For example, during an argument with Clementine, she goes into the bathroom, but when Joel follows her, she appears in the kitchen. It’s as if he just can’t remember where exactly their fight took place.
5. Today, it’s JLaw’s world and we’re just living in it, but back in 2010, Jennifer Lawrence was just making her starring debut in Winter’s Bone. Lawrence plays Ree Dolly, a tough as nails girl from the Ozarks responsible for her caring for her younger siblings and her catatonic mother. One day she finds out that her father, in jail for cooking meth, has skipped bail. Worse, he put their house up for collateral and if Ree doesn’t find him, they’ll lose the only thing holding the family together. Shot on location in Missouri, director Debra Granik uses the most of her surroundings. The desolate, barren woods nearly become a character in itself and Granik populates the film with locals instead of actors. But the film belongs to Lawrence, who wholly inhabits Ree turning a performance that I personally think is her best.

That's my top five movies, tune in next Tuesday for the top five television. It will be worth it!

~Meredith T.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Librarians' Line-Up: Know Poe

Here at the Mentor Public Library we are doing a month of programming based on the one, the only: Edgar Allan Poe. "Know Poe" also involves a "One City, One Read" project where we are discussing some of Poe's works. (If you haven't already, you should pick up a free copy of the "Know Poe Anthology" at any branch of the library.)

So this month, our librarians are discussing their favorite Poe tales, the creepier the better. Enjoy!



"The Murders in the Rue Morgue"
Little known fact - while most people associate the detective story with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot, it was actually Poe who developed the style with "The Murders in the Rue Morgue."  C. Auguste Dupin is called in to solve a baffling double murder where none of the witnesses can agree on what they believe to have transpired.  The solution is incredibly clever and I won't spoil it here, but it's safe to say you'll never guess it yourself!
~Meredith T.

"The Purloined Letter"
Poe essentially invented the figure of the amateur detective (even before the term had been coined) in the figure of C. Auguste Dupin. They’re all interesting, but “The Purloined Letter” is probably the best of the lot. It seems like such a simple story, but it has lots of hidden facets and meanings. You can read it as a tale of the cleverness of an amateur sleuth, but then you start thinking, “What was in the letter?” or “How does the Queen relate to the King?” and this opens up any number of other things. Poe’s narratives can be dark to the point of morbidity, but the Dupin stories are really a pleasure to read.
~John F.

"The Fall of the House of Usher"
A creepy story about a man visiting an ancient family who has met with ruin and the entombment of one of the family members. I wrote a creative paper on this story when I was in college. Its haunted walls and insidious chambers have crept into my thoughts many a time since reading it.
~Kristin M.

"The Tell-Tale Heart"
I love the fact that this story is super-creepy, but subtle. All of the information is revealed slowly, and at first you think the narrator is just being paranoid, but there's so much more to it than that! Also, it is near impossible to read this story without hearing the sound of a heartbeat. It is all about guilt and how that manifests in the narrator's life, which is pretty scary in and of itself.
~Cailey W.
  
The plague known as “The Red Death” has been spreading across the countryside, killing anyone it comes into contact with in less than half an hour. Despite the threat of death, Prince Prospero decides to throw a party, inviting thousands of people to a masquerade at his home. The guests barricade the doors, attempting to wait out the plague. At the stroke of midnight a mysterious figure appears. The figure approaches the Prince, killing him with just a look. The guests attack the figure and remove his mask, only to no face underneath. The plague was coming from inside the house!
~Marilyn W.

"The Raven"
This story brings back great high school memories for me. My sophomore English class had to memorize the first 5 stanzas. Then, on our weekly poetry day, we were REQUIRED to SHOUT the stanzas as loud as we could while in class. Doors slammed down the school hallway at least once a week. Awesome! (And, to this day I can still recite that poetry by heart. Forevermore.)
~Mary P.

My favorite Poe is "The Raven." It’s a great poem to hear read aloud. And it just so happens you’ll get a chance to do just that when our Poe impersonator comes on July 28!
~Amanda D.

What's your favorite Poe story? And don't forget to join us to talk about them!

We still have several Know Poe programs that you won't want to miss out on this month--including free films at Atlas Cinemas on Thursday evenings, a Poe writing class, and a children's Poe obstacle course!