Thursday, November 9, 2017

We have moved!

Recently, our library system adopted a new name: Rutherford County Library System. We decided to embrace the spirit of change here on our blogs, as well, but we're changing far more than our name!

We have combined all three of our blogs--adult, teen, and children's--into one blog, called RCLS Reads. Now it will be even easier for you to find the reviews, readalikes, and features that you expect from us.

We launched our blogs on November 13, 2013. We are so grateful that you have spent the past four years reading along with us, and we hope you'll follow along as we begin this new chapter.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Patronize Me: Featuring Jane Eyre miniseries

My apologies for missing a month! I was out of the office on maternity leave. Fear not I have returned and have new posts to share!

There is no better medicine than curling up with your favorite book and a warm cup of coffee (or tea) on a rainy day. Except...The next best thing: curling up on the couch with a blanket and a television adaptation of your favorite book. I had the pleasure of enjoying such a luxury and I have Mr. Scott Cromwell to thank for it. Jane Eyre is my beloved and favorite book. I, first, encountered this book in my high school freshman English class. I remember being hooked within the first chapter. It was dark, gothic, creepy, and had a character I felt a kinship to. Jane was not only someone I respected but someone I wanted to be. In a way, she became a role model for teenage me. It was a match made in heaven. I have reread this book at least 2 other times now. Even long after high school this book still resonates with my soul. Jane Eyre is the closest I have come to feeling "at home" with a book.

Obviously, Jane Eyre, is special to me. So, when Mr. Cromwell recommended the miniseries put on by BBC I was excited but hesitant. I had watched the 2011 film starring Mia Wasikowska, Judi Dench, and Michael Fassbender. It was perfect and I found it hard to believe anything could top this adaptation. BUT I was proven wrong. BBC managed to steal the top spot. The series captured the characters and the gothic atmosphere splendidly. BBC cast Ruth Wilson (Alice Morgan from Luther) as Jane. She was born to play her. From mannerisms to the way she carried herself as this character, this is the idealized Jane I had always had in mind when I read the book. Since this was a series rather than a movie, they had more time to devote to the story. 4 hours split over 2 episodes grants a lot more time than the movie adaptations. I highly recommend this show if you are a fan of the book or just like the BBC gothic romance stories they are so fabulous at portraying.

I received this suggestion from Scott Cromwell.  He is a patron I have christened "Linebaugh Lifer" due to his long term dedication to Linebaugh Library.  Give him 3 titles of movies you like and he can give you a list of things to watch. His passion for the art of film is what I would categorize as extremely passionate. Movies, television, documentaries; you name it and he has probably watched it. But it goes beyond the watching he also enjoys the discussion, which we got to share with one another about Jane Eyre. It was a wonderful discussion that has lead to so many others.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

8 Horror Titles You Might Have Missed

Whether you're a regular horror reader and have exhausted your favorite authors, or if you're just looking for a scary read for October, try one of these horror titles that have flown under the radar.

House of Small Shadows by Adam Nevill 

Catherine's last job ended badly. Corporate bullying at a top television production company saw her fired and forced to leave London, but she was determined to get her life back. A new job and now things look much brighter. Especially when a challenging new project presents itself -- to catalogue the late M H Mason's wildly eccentric cache of antique dolls and puppets. Rarest of all, she'll get to examine his elaborate displays of posed, costumed and preserved animals, depicting scenes from World War I. When Mason's elderly niece invites her to stay at the Red House itself, where she maintains the collection, Catherine can't believe her luck. Until his niece exposes her to the dark message behind her uncle's 'Art'. Catherine tries to concentrate on the job, but M H Mason's damaged visions raise dark shadows from her own past. Shadows she'd hoped had finally been erased. Soon the barriers between reality, sanity and memory start to merge. And some truths seem too terrible to be real ...

Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories edited by Doug Murano

From Bram Stoker Award-nominated publisher, Crystal Lake Publishing, and the editing duo who brought you the best-selling and critically acclaimed small-town Lovecraftian horror anthology Shadows Over Main Street, comes Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories—a disturbing journey into the beauty that rests inside the very heart of darkness.

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

To her parents' despair, the doctors are unable to stop Marjorie's descent into madness. As their stable home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help. Father Wanderly suggests an exorcism; he believes the vulnerable teenager is the victim of demonic possession. He also contacts a production company that is eager to document the Barretts' plight. With John, Marjorie's father, out of work for more than a year and the medical bills looming, the family agrees to be filmed, and soon find themselves the unwitting stars of The Possession, a hit reality television show. When events in the Barrett household explode in tragedy, the show and the shocking incidents it captures become the stuff of urban legend.

Fifteen years later, a bestselling writer interviews Marjorie's younger sister, Merry. As she recalls those long ago events that took place when she was just eight years old, long-buried secrets and painful memories that clash with what was broadcast on television begin to surface--and a mind-bending tale of psychological horror is unleashed, raising vexing questions about memory and reality, science and religion, and the very nature of evil.

Whistling Past the Graveyard by Jonathan Maberry

A lonely, nerdy paperboy encounters ancient evil on the shadowy back roads of his home town.
A little girl spends her nights dreaming of monsters and teaching herself the art of murder.
Sherlock Holmes journeys to America for an encounter with the ghost of a murdered woman.
A samurai sails to a forgotten island to battle the living dead.
Special ops soldiers fly the void to fight space pirates.
A heartbroken junkie seeks vengeance for his murdered friend.

Whistling Past the Graveyard is the first print collection of short fiction by New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry. These creepy tales of horror, suspense, adventure and mystery take readers to the troubled little town of Pine Deep, to the Feudal Japan of the Samurai, to the angry red planet of John Carter of Mars, and elsewhere. These are strange journeys through nightmare land, with a five-time Bram Stoker Award winner as your guide.

Only the Dead Know Burbank by Bradford Tatum

A young girl awakens in a hastily dug grave—vague memories of blood and fever, her mother performing a mysterious ceremony before the world went away. Germany has lost the first great war and Europe has lost millions more to the Spanish Flu epidemic. But Maddy has not only survived, she has changed. No longer does she eat, sleep, or age. No longer can she die. After taking up with a pair of street performers, she shocks and fascinates the crowds with her ability to survive outrageous traumas. But at a studio in Berlin, Maddy discovers her true calling: film.
The Broken Hours by Jacqueline Baker

In the spring of 1936, horror writer H.P. Lovecraft is broke, living alone in a creaky old house and deathly ill. At the edge of a nervous breakdown, he hires a personal assistant, Arthor Crandle. As the novel opens, Crandle arrives at Lovecraft’s home with no knowledge of the writer or his work but is soon drawn into his distinctly unnerving world: the malevolent presence that hovers on the landing; the ever-shining light from Lovecraft’s study, invisible from the street; and visions in the night of a white-clad girl in the walled garden. Add to this the arrival of a beautiful woman who may not be exactly what she seems, and Crandle is pulled deeper into the strange world of the horror writer (a man known to Crandle only through letters, signed “Ech-Pi”), until Crandle begins to unravel the dark secret at its heart.

A brilliantly written, compelling and deeply creepy novel, The Broken Hours is an irresistible literary ghost story.

Off Season by Jack Ketchum

A beautiful New York editor retreats to a lonely cabin on a hill in the quiet Maine beach town of Dead River, during off season; awaiting her sister and friends. Nearby, a savage human family with a taste for flesh lurks in the darkening woods, watching, waiting for the moon to rise and night to fall.

A Love Like Blood by Marcus Sedgwick 

In 1944, just days after the liberation of Paris, Charles Jackson sees something horrific: a man, apparently drinking the blood of a murdered woman. Terrified, he does nothing, telling himself afterwards that worse things happen in wars.

Seven years later he returns to the city - and sees the same man dining in the company of a fascinating young woman. When they leave the restaurant, Charles decides to follow...

A Love Like Blood is a dark, compelling thriller about how a man's life can change in a moment; about where the desire for truth - and for revenge - can lead; about love and fear and hatred. And it is also about the question of blood.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Assigned Reading That We Loved

Anyone who has been through high school or college knows the feeling of being assigned a book and being less than thrilled at the prospect of reading it. Even the bookish among us have occasionally balked at an assignment, and oftentimes, just the fact that you have to read a book makes it much more difficult to want to read it.

But sometimes something pretty amazing happens: You're assigned to read a book and, despite initial reluctance or what you might have thought at first, you discover that you love it. It opens up a new world for you or illuminates the world you know in new ways. It becomes a personal favorite.

Here are some of the books that LPLS staff had to read for school, and which we still count among our favorite books.

The Westing Game- I love everything about this book. :)

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
I'd already seen the animated movie a number of times and loved it.  I rented it from the video store and watched it when I needed a break from reading the book.  I kept hearing the singing from the movie in my head any time I read a song.  And when school started back up I was the only person to get a perfect score on the test.

The book I remember the most is The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I was touched by the idea of being marked for life and how people treated her. It's a book about secrets hidden and unrelenting revenge, both of which torture souls. It was beautifully written and drew you into the story and characters.

Brittney R.:
Night by Elie Wiesel
I had studied the Holocaust before in elementary school, but it was being assigned Elie Wiesel's memoir as a freshman in high school that really drove home to me the inhumanity of which people are capable. It grew my awareness of the dangers of totalitarianism, the necessity of understanding the past, and the importance of empathy.

What's your favorite book that you were assigned to read in school? Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Review: Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

Last year, Seanan McGuire released Every Heart a Doorway, which took the familiar trope of Doors that Lead to Other Places and turned it over to see a different angle: what happens when the children
who go through those doors come back. The short novel is part urban fantasy, part boarding school book, part murder mystery, but is at its heart a story about what happens when you just want to go home but no longer can. And it took our staff by storm.

This year, McGuire has returned with the second in her series, Down Among the Sticks and Bones? How does this novel fit in, and does it live up to its predecessor?

For one thing, DAtSaB isn't a sequel. It drops back in time to the events leading up to EHaD, tracing grisly twins Jack and Jill's upbringing, their discovery of another world at the bottom of their grandmother's trunk, and their eventual casting out of their own blood-stained Eden. This will appeal greatly to readers of EHaD who left with burning questions, which I think probably was every last person who read the book. If you wondered just what Jack and Jill got up to with the vampire and the mad scientist, DAtSaB will take you by the hand, lead you down the staircase, ask if you're sure, and show you, whether you're sure or not.

And what's it like down there? The glimpses that we catch in EHaD, from the twins' reminiscences and from their actions, insinuate a panorama of Victorian grue. The Moors have the hallmarks of classic Gothic fiction that are familiar to us through decades of mining and re-mining of the Gothic genre, from the wind-swept moors stalked by night creatures to the mad scientist conjuring life out of the grave á la Victor Frankenstein to the vampire feeding off of his young pet who yearns for the gift of everlasting life.

Where McGuire shines, and makes DAtSaB shine with her, is in her re-tooling of these conventions. Jack and Jill aren't white-nightgowned waifs clutching candelabra and fleeing a Gothic Villain after discovering a Dark Family Secret. They are full participants in what happens to them, and they make quite a bit happen to others. When they enter their alternate reality, they are able to create their own identities, in a triumphant contrast to their childhoods, over which their parents rule with arbitrary and implacable expectations. They choose how to act, what to wear, and in Jack's especially touching case, with whom to pursue a relationship.

Ideas are all well and good, you say, but what about the story? If you're a fan of EHaD, you're going to love DAtSaB, too. It's got a similar dark fairy tale essence, with beautiful, craftsmanlike sentences that manage to keep it taut without skimping on loveliness. The story is character-driven, right up until it's not, so much, and the plot ratchets itself up to a conclusion that feels inevitable when it happens, but surely could have been avoided. That's the really heartbreaking thing about this book: You know it's going to end badly, but you want to find some way, any way, to avert that catastrophe. It could have been different! you wail, but could it have been? Really?

My one and only gripe about DAtSaB is that it did not quite live up the the pretty high bar of creepiness I had set for it. While there is plenty of technically, intellectually horrific stuff happening, some of the effect was muffled for me by the fact that, in general, I liked the characters. Even the ones that I wasn't, perhaps, supposed to like, or would not have been supposed to like if this were a straight horror story, which it's not. To paraphrase Stephen King in Danse Macabre, as every horror fan knows, the scariest part isn't when the door is opened; it's the moment before, when the heroine's hand is poised on the knob and she's working up the courage to turn it and confront what awaits her. Nothing on the other side of the door is quite as horrible as what you imagined would be there, and if you, like me, imagined something pretty wretched from Jack and Jill's world, be prepared for something a bit cuddlier than you thought it would be.

Even so, Down Among the Sticks and Bones is a great read that I devoured. You don't have to have read Every Heart a Doorway to enjoy this one--because as the publisher's copy asserts, they are standalones--but I would wager that you need to have read it to really love Down Among the Sticks and Bones. It will mesmerize you and leave you unsatisfied in the best possible way, impatiently crossing off the days on your mental calendar until the release of the next Wayward Children book.

(It's called Beneath the Sugar Sky, and will be here January 2018, at least according to Goodreads. And it has a cover.)

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Patronize Me: Featuring Counting By 7s

There are several patrons I have connected with at LPLS who are part of our young adult group and it's safe to say they are probably some of my favorites. They are so enthusiastic about what they're reading, trying different genres, and giving the staff recommendations. That enthusiasm gives me a kind of "librarian high." To witness such excitement on a child's face is inspiring. It fills my heart with joy!  Several of these patrons will come in from time to time to drop off books and chat about what they have been reading. As most of them read the YA genre, I get a number of things to add to my "To Read List" often.

YA (Young Adult) is my favorite genre. Some people like mysteries or thrillers... I like teenage coming of age stories with dramatic exchanges, strong characters, and a real world view of what the demographic faces. It is an addiction I have had for about 2 decades. Throughout those years of reading I have stumbled across some incredibly talented authors who I always make sure to share with teens seeking something to read (John Green, Victoria Schwab, Nancy Farmer, and Patrick Ness, to name a few). So, all of this lead me to this month's selection. I asked one of these young readers to recommend something to me.

Caitlen Yasui is one of the younger patrons that comes into Linebaugh. My acquaintance with the family developed after recognizing the mother while out eating at O'Possum's before it closed. I was hesitant to say anything when I saw here because I recognize patrons out around the Boro all the time. It's part of the care I give to our patrons at circulation. However those patrons don't always return that recognition. But Holly knew who I was instantly! From that moment on we would chat if I saw her and the girls come in.

The Yasuis have been coming to Linebaugh for over 7 years now. When they first moved out here it was right before summer, which is the best time to start coming to the library. Holly signed all of the girls up for Summer Reading. They were able to make some long-lasting relationships with other families attending the events as well as find a community to be a part of in the library. As the girls have gotten older and involved in school programs, their visits have started to lessen but their love for the library continues to be a part of their family.

Caitlen selected Counting By 7s  by Holly Goldberg Sloan. It was a book I had added to my list a while back while working at Barnes and Noble. The book flies off of the shelf in stores and libraries alike. It is the story of a young and highly gifted girl named Willow. When tragedy strikes it does not care about age, sex, or even what time of day it is. It has no prejudices. It just happens. A lot of time grief and loss are the ripples one feels after such an event occurs. Willow knows this and what the 5 stages of loss are. The story centers around this tragic event while bringing 6 people together who never would have crossed paths otherwise. They change each other's lives for the better while discovering the true meaning of family is not always found in genetics or blood.

I highly recommend this to any age. A great story of a small community forming to help the life of one child. Your heart may be broken with this one. But fear not! It will put the pieces back together as you take a leap of faith with Willow. By the end you will have tears or joy or at least a smile etched on your heart. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Patronize Me: Featuring Cry, the Beloved Country

Laura Bickel chose May's selection for me. Most everyone at circulation knows the Bickel family well. The Bickels are frequent visitors to our DVD and Blu-Ray collection. If it is a new release, they are one of the first in line to place a hold on the item. The Bickels have been coming to the library since they moved here in 2001. Not only have they used the library for entertainment purposes but we are a research source for them as well. They are part of the homeschool community here in Rutherford County. Laura is one of the happiest patrons I have encountered at circulation. A smile and a chit chat with her usually puts me in a great mood for the day.

The first time I actually talked with her was at our Farmer’s Market booth last year. We greeted each other and chatted a bit before she headed to the library to pick up some holds. After that, she started to pause and share in small talk if she saw me at the circ desk. However, I didn’t know her that well until a few months ago. I was shelving some holds when she came to grab hers. We ended up discussing classic literature we had decided to reread from our high school required reading lists. We had a lot in common when it came to the classics. It didn’t take long for me to realize this was a great bookworm match. Classic literature is one of my favorite things and I now had someone to share that with. It was like Christmas for this librarian. All of this eventually lead to a discussion about the monster books of classic literature. The ones that had always intimidated us like: War and Peace, Les Misérables, The Count of Monte Cristo, etc. For some reason, the size and page number of these types of books leaves one feeling intimidated and so scared to even open the book. I have managed to read one of them, Anna Karenina and ever since I have tried to tackle about one a year. The conversation had to end due to the nature of the library circulation call of duty.

I eventually asked Laura to participate in this article. She filled me in on her Les Misérables...Apparently I, in turn, inspired her to pick up a book. Most of us are aware of the thickness of this book and I must say I was applauding her inside. (Plot twist: I have yet to read the book myself. I just know I have never heard a bad thing about it, which is something I pay attention to: when a book is still highly praised decades or even centuries later.) Needless to say, she thoroughly enjoyed the experience. She thought she would tire of the historical descriptions and references but those ended up being the parts she enjoyed most. Victor Hugo’s work has now made its way to the top of my list thanks to Laura. Two books from one patron! Laura’s recommendation for me wasn’t Les Misérables though, instead it was Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton. She shared some words with me on why she chose it:

"Cry the Beloved Country was required reading in my senior English class in high school, and I just really loved the story. So when my oldest got to her senior year in high school I also had her read it. She liked it, too. It is another example of a good story helping the reader understand and remember a particular time in history in an enjoyable way." 

Going into this story I knew little about any of South Africa's unrest and history. The little I knew was from a various history classes, and a few movies I had seen over the years. Needless to say I learned a lot from this story. It even sparked the desire to learn more. If I am honest, I now understand why there continues to be so much pain in that country. One can always look to a country’s history to find the how's and why's of it ending up the way it is.

The story is about 2 fathers from different walks of life who both live in South Africa. One, a reverend named Kumalo from Ndotsheni and a man of color. The other, a white man, named Jarvis who lives in Johannesburg. Each man is searching for his son; Kumalo in the physical sense and Jarvis in a more spiritual form. We see two sides of Johannesburg (1948) through the eyes of two men with contrasting viewpoints. Paton uses these two ways of life to present the reader with the injustices and racism experienced by many at that time. The stories come together when both men find their sons. These families find redemption, hope, love, and forgiveness in the most unlikely of places. I really liked the story Paton told in spite of the angering discrimination. I was amazed at how optimistic and hopeful the story ended up being despite the presence of so much hate. Even in the midst of such an arduous situation the cast of characters found a way to heal. Hope can and does exist; sometimes we just have to let go.