Quick Picks from CMCL

October 24, 2014

Checking In: Favorite Stuff In Five Words (part two)

Last week on Checking In, we posted some book, movie and TV recommendations that were limited to no more than five words. This week we have another batch, so…

have just a few more!

ramaRendezvous with Rama: Astronauts watch a world awaken.

cycleliesCycle of Lies: Sociopath cyclist cheats to win.

jeeveswoosterJeeves and Wooster: Never try outsmarting the butler!

ringworldRingworld: Makes Halo seem donut-sized.

georgemarthaGeorge and Martha: Sweet, deadpan, adorable hippo friends!

hopscotchHopscotch: Wait… WHICH chapter comes next?

irememberI Remember You: Isolated island, horrific crimes, ghost.

foundationFoundation: Genius saves galaxy using MATH!

gilmoregirlsGilmore Girls: Lorelai and Rory freestyle linguistically.

Once again, thanks to Eric, Maria and Shannon for their entries!
- Patrick

October 22, 2014

Inside Scoop: Girls, Girls, GIrls!

Filed under: Info — klsseong @ 8:00 am

Here are a few titles by women who have succeeded in their respective fields doing it their way. Each writes a collection of personal and professional essays that helped create paths to getting paid to do what they love.

lenaNot That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

amyYes, Please! by Amy Poehler

sophia#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso

October 20, 2014

In the Know: “Let Them Eat Cake!” at CML’s Annual Meeting on the 21st

Chocolate CakeAttending meetings is rarely on my “I can’t wait!” list, but I have to say that I look forward to CML’s annual meeting each year. If you were unable to attend the library’s 40th anniversary celebration a few weeks ago, coming to this meeting is your chance to get a taste of what all the hoopla was about. The story of CML is a testament to the remarkable difference just a handful of inspired individuals can make and how their efforts continue to touch the lives of our community members in countless ways.

One of the library’s most beloved founders, Mary Packer, recently passed away. Visiting the library was among the very last outings Mary was able to make, and she tells CML’s story in her own voice. What strikes me about Mary’s account is how blissfully unaware she and her fellow founders were of the force they were setting into motion.

I hope you’ll join me and other CML supporters on Tuesday, Oct. 21, at 7pm in the library’s community room for a State of the Library report, a Tip o’ the Hat to the founders, and an exciting look at what’s ahead. Oh – and did I mention? There will be cake!

October 17, 2014

Checking In: Favorite Stuff In Five Words (part one)

Here at Checking In HQ, we love words. Mashing ‘em up, combining them, making them fit into places they probably oughtn’t and above all, letting them roam wild and free in the adjective seas and verb prairies. Just last week a vast flock of adverbs made national headlines for moving swiftly! Sometimes though, brevity is the soul of less stuff, and in that spirit the rest of this blog entry will be on a strict five word diet. So here are recommendations for some of our coworkers’ favorite things…

but only in five words.

Place a holdGone with the Wind: Narcissistic belle survives Civil War.

Place a holdCannery Row: Worst thank you party EVER!

Place a holdAnna Dressed in Blood: Ghost killer meets his match.

Place a holdCowboy Bebop: Jazzy space cowboy film noir!

Place a holdCitizen Kane: Industry tycoon laments lost youth.

Place a holdBoston Legal: Two walking disasters somehow litigate.

Place a holdRed Dwarf: Last human bumbles around galaxy.

Place a holdAmerican Gods: See the world’s trippiest carousel!

Place a holdTuesday: Flying frogs take over town.

Next week: more diminutive recommendations. Thanks to Maria, Shannon and Eric for their lovely summarylets!
- Patrick

October 16, 2014

Kid’s Corner: National Bully Prevention Month

Filed under: Kid's Corner — Tags: , , , , — jennytf @ 12:19 pm

Bullying3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Experts agree that most incidences of bullying occur during middle school. According to the website nobullying.com,  20 percent of U.S. students in grades 9-12 reportedly have experienced bullying or are feeling bullied, while 28 percent of students in grades 6-12 report the same. Being a witness to some form of bullying is even more common: 70.6 percent of teens have seen bullying occurring in their schools.

With this in mind, it’s important to provide stories with messages and solutions kids can embrace. In her article “Sticks, Stones, and Sneering Tones” (Children & Libraries, Winter 2013), Kim Becnel recommends “titles that create complicated, relatable characters for both the bully and victim roles are preferable to those that rely on one-dimensional or stereotypical figures” and that “books that portray realistic solutions and outcomes will resonate with readers” Here are some suggestions for school age kids and teens. Is there a book about bullying that has made a difference in your life, or the life of someone you know? We’d love to hear from you.

Chapter books:

I Funny: a middle school story (also: I even funnier: a middle school story) by James Patterson

Adam Canfield, Watch Your Back by Michael Winerip

Amelia’s Bully Survival Guide by Marissa Moss

Confessions of a Former Bully by Trudy Ludwig

Beany and the Meany by Susan Wojciechowski

Calvin Coconut: trouble magnet by Graham Salisbury

How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell

Blubber by Judy Blume

Jake Drake, Bully Buster by Andrew Clements

Secret Identity (Shredderman series) by Wendelin Van Draanan

Secret Identity (Shredderman series) by Wendelin Van Draanan

Bullybooks

Teen Fiction:

The Bully Book by Eric Kahn Gale

Bystander by James Preller

The Outsiders by SE Hinton

This is What I Did by Ann Dee Ellis

Shooter by Walter Dean Myers

The Misfits by James Howe

Nonfiction:

Dear BullyDear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories

Bullying WorkbookThe Bullying Workbook for Teens

It Gets BetterIt Gets Better: coming out, overcoming bullying and creating a life worth living

Odd Girl Speaks OutOdd Girl Speaks Out: girls write about bullies, cliques, popularity and jealousy by Rachel Simmons

Stand UpStand Up for Yourself & Your Friends by Patti Kelley Criswell

We Want You to KnowWe Want You to Know: kids talk about bullying

Videos:

Chrissa Stands Strong: an American girl: On her first day at her new school, Chrissa is seated with three girls who greet her with teasing and tricks. They bully Chrissa in class, on the bus, online, and even at swim club. When the taunting goes too far, Chrissa must find a way to stand strong.

Dealing with Bullies…The Right Way!: Bullying is a reality for kids in schools everywhere. They’re a bully, a victim or a witness. Using true-to-life scenarios, the program explains exactly what bullying is and how it affects people who are abused by bullies. The program provides young viewers with practical strategies they can use to deal with bullies safely and get positive outcomes.

How To Eat Fried Worms: On his first day at a new school, eleven-year-old Billy goes up against the school bully in a challenge that ends up with a total gross-out date…to eat 10 worms in one day. As the pressure mounts, Billy must summon all his strength to meet the dare, all the while keeping his weak stomach from betraying him and his big mouth from getting him in even more trouble.

Internet Bullies: What Should I Do?: For many kids, the Internet is an important part of their daily routine. Unfortunately, with the immediacy of the Internet, its anonymity and its easy accessibility, kids are using instant messaging, blogs, email, chat rooms, and social networks to spread gossip and rumors to harass and embarrass their peers. In this program, viewers will come to understand that using the Internet for those purposes is actually bullying.

 

 

 

 

 

October 15, 2014

What I’m Reading Now: As Retirement Looms

For at least 3 years I have been planning for my retirement. Someone recently asked me how I had made the decision and what had I been reading to prepare for this major change coming in December. Of course, the first thoughts were about the money. Could I afford to retire? There are many great books on money, saving and finance. But whether you have saved or not at some point you realize that you can’t, and don’t want to work forever and you must embrace the reality of what you have, where you are now. After grappling with the money issues came the “what next” part of the question. I don’t want to just live longer; I want to live into all of the potential of this new phase of life, and I found these books to help guide me.

Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy – Until You’re 80 and Beyond, by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge

With humor Crowley and Lodge provide sound advice for living a healthy and active life after 50. It is not time to slow down, not time to relax in front of the TV. Yes, there is a fountain of youth and it is exercise.  Aerobic exercise, strength training and healthy eating can make you functionally younger for the next 5 to 10 years.

Master Class: Living Longer, Stronger, and Happier Author, by Peter Spiers

Master Class author Peter Spiers studied Road Scholar participants that were successfully aging in their 70’s, 80’s and even 90’s. Their active lifestyles blend moving, thinking, socializing and creating and are supported by the latest research in psychology and neuro-science. Master Class explains how to build an enriching lifestyle on the foundation of your favorite activities.

Soul Unfinished: Finding happiness, taking risks and trusting God as we grow older, by Robert Atwell.

The last third of life is not just for doing exciting new things. It is also for growing deeper in spiritual awareness. This can be a time of physical, emotional and spiritual growth if we are ready to grasp it with both hands. But first, in novelist E.M. Forster’s words, ”We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

For me, coming to peace with what is past and embracing the life that is waiting for me will be the challenge and the gift. Let me say, I am at the beginning of this new work. These books suggest new ways to practice a life of retirement. — Nancy

Jacket1 Jacket2 Jacket4

October 14, 2014

Cedar Mill Reads: Not So Scary Halloween Picture Books

Filed under: Cedar Mill Reads, Kids — Tags: , , — LGP @ 8:00 pm

Pumpkins and Witches and Ghosts, Oh My!

One of our favorite times of the year at the library is Halloween when we get to see all those adorable costumes and share not so scary stories during our special Halloween storytimes. Here’s a list of some of our favorite Halloween books to read aloud with your little goblin/superhero/witch/cat/princess/pirate! Enjoy! – Marianne

Dog and Bear: Tricks and Treats Dog and Bear: Tricks and Treats
By Seeger, Laura Vaccaro
2014-08 – Roaring Brook Press
9781596436329
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Ready for a treat? How about a trick or two? Dog and Bear are back in three new Halloween stories that are sure to delight their many fans and win them new ones. Join them as they search for the perfect costume, hand out candy to trick-or-treaters (or not ), and then go trick-or-treating themselves in this latest installment by award-winning author Laura Vaccaro Seeger. A Neal Porter Book …More
The Ghosts Go Haunting The Ghosts Go Haunting
By Ketteman, Helen
Illustrator Record, Adam
2014-09 – Albert Whitman & Company
9780807528525
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Verses written to the tune of OThe Ants Go MarchingO describe an ever-increasing parade of ghosts, witches, and other spooky creatures as they haunt a school on Halloween. Full color. …More
I Am a Witch's Cat I Am a Witch’s Cat
By Muncaster, Harriet
Illustrator Muncaster, Harriet
2014-07 – HarperCollins
9780062229144
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In this whimsical picture book, a little girl believes her mother is a good witchNand she is a special witch’s cat! After all, every good witch needs a black cat. Together, this playful duo mixes potions, grows magical plants, and dreams of wild broomstick rides under a full moon. Full color. …More
Ladybug Girl and the Dress-Up Dilemma Ladybug Girl and the Dress-Up Dilemma
By Soman, David
Author Davis, Jacky
Illustrator Soman, David
2014-08 – Dial Books
9780803735842
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“Lulu loves to play dress-up. Her favorite thing to be is Ladybug Girl. But she also loves to dress up like a fairy princess, a wild tiger, a secret spy, and more! Join Lulu on her dress-up adventures in this book.”–p.[4] of cover. …More
Little Boo Little Boo
By Wunderli, Stephen
Illustrator Zeltner, Tim
2014-08 – Henry Holt & Company
9780805097085
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In this stunningly illustrated story, a pumpkin seed tries unsuccessfully to be scary until it grows into a pumpkin. Halloween soon arrives and he gets his chance to become a jack o’lantern. Full color. …More
Not Very Scary Not Very Scary
By Brendler, Carol
Illustrator Pizzoli, Greg
2014-08 – Farrar Straus Giroux
9780374355470
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Readers can count on frights in this Halloween counting book. Melly is a brave little monster who loves surprises. On her way to her cousin’s home to see a big surprise, Melly notices skittish skeletons, a coal-black cat, and even ghoulish goblins following her. Full color. …More
Shivery Shades of Halloween Shivery Shades of Halloween
By Siddals, Mary McKenna
Illustrator Pickering, Jimmy
2014-08 – Random House Books for Young Readers
9780385369992
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A rollicking, rhymingNand colorfulNHalloween romp! Children can learn their colors as they follow a cute little creature on his adventure through haunted halls, moonlit forests . . . perhaps even a Halloween party! Full color. …More
The Sweetest Witch Around The Sweetest Witch Around
By McGhee, Alison
Illustrator Bliss, Harry
2014-08 – Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
9781442478336
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A young witch’s sweet tooth leads to Halloween mischief in this companion to the “New York Times”-bestselling “A Very Brave Witch.” Full color. …More
Boo, Bunny! Boo, Bunny!
By Galbraith, Kathryn Osebold
Illustrator Mack, Jeff
2008-09 – Harcourt Children’s Books
9780152162467
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Halloween can be especially spooky for a shy bunny. But when that shy bunny bumps into another shy bunny, friendship scares away fear. Full of sounds, spookiness, and sweetness, this dynamic picture book celebrates the best part of Halloween: friends. Full color. …More
Brooms Are for Flying Brooms Are for Flying
By Rex, Michael
2000-10 – Henry Holt & Company
0805064109
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On Halloween, young trick-or-treaters participate in a foot-stomping, hand-clapping dance. As readers follow along with the rhythmic text, they are invited to do as the monsters do. Color illustrations. …More
Cat Nights Cat Nights
By Manning, Jane K.
Illustrator Manning, Jane K.
2008-07 – Greenwillow Books
9780061138881
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Manning delivers a stunning picture book based on an Irish legend. It is said that during the cat nights of late summer, a witch can turn herself into a cat and back into a witch eight times. But on the ninth time, she remains a cat for good. Full color. …More
Click, Clack, Boo!: A Tricky Treat Click, Clack, Boo!: A Tricky Treat
By Cronin, Doreen
Illustrator Lewin, Betsy
2013-08 – Atheneum Books for Young Readers
9781442465534
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Will the barnyard animals trickNor treatNFarmer Brown? Readers will find out in this Halloween tale from the #1 “New York Times”-bestselling creators of “Click, Clack, Moo.” Full color. …More
Five Little Monkeys Trick-Or-Treat Five Little Monkeys Trick-Or-Treat
By Christelow, Eileen
2013-08 – Clarion Books
9780547858937
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It’s Halloween, and Lulu the babysitter is taking the five little monkeys trick-or-treating. Those silly monkeys decide that trading costumes with their friends would be fun . . . and chaos ensues. Vibrant, silly, and perfect for reading aloud, this non-scary Halloween story is sure to delight fans of this bestselling series. Full color. …More
Ghost in the House Ghost in the House
By Paquette, Ammi-Joan
Illustrator Record, Adam
2013-07 – Candlewick Press (MA)
9780763655297
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When a little ghost goes slip-sliding down the hallway, he suddenly hears a groan! Turns out it’s only a friendly mummy, who shuffles along with the ghost, until they encounter a monster! As the cautious explorers continue, they find a surprise at every turnNand add another adorably ghoulish friend to the count. Full color. …More
Ghosts in the House! Ghosts in the House!
By Kohara, Kazuno
2008-08 – Roaring Brook Press
9781596434271
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Fresh and charming illustrations in dynamic orange, black, and white offer just the right mix of sweet and scary, in this fun story of a little witch who knows how to catch ghosts. …More
The Hallo-Wiener The Hallo-Wiener
By Pilkey, Dav
Illustrator Pilkey, Dav
1995-09 – Blue Sky Press
9780590417037
Check Our Catalog

Awards:
Buckaroo Book Award (1999), Volunteer State Book Awards (1998)
When is a hot dog not a hot dog? When he becomes a hero sandwich! Pilkey delivers a hilarious Halloween treat in this story about Oscar, a dachshund doomed to wear a hot dog costume on Halloween. When he saves the day–and night–Oscar proves that while he may be short on height, he’s long on heart. A tale trick-or-treaters will relish. Watercolor, india ink, and acrylic illustrations. …More
Humbug Witch Humbug Witch
By Balian, Lorna
2003-09 – Star Bright Books
9781932065329
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What does a witch do when her spells and potions don?t turn out right? She?ll just keep trying, until it’s time for bed. …More
Just Say Boo! Just Say Boo!
By Hood, Susan
Illustrator Henry, Jed
2012-07 – HarperCollins Publishers
9780062010292
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A timid little trick-or-treater learns to overcome his fears on Halloween by saying, “BOO!” 9 x 9. …More
Mouse's First Halloween Mouse’s First Halloween
By Thompson, Lauren
Illustrator Erdogan, Buket
2000-09 – Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
0689831765
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Fun, simple text and bold shapes and colors combine with child-friendly symbols of fall–apples and leaves, scarecrows and pumpkins–to create a Halloween treat that can’t be beat. Full color. …More
Ollie's Halloween Ollie’s Halloween
By Dunrea, Olivier
2010-09 – Harcourt Brace and Company
9780618532414
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This Halloween, Gossie is a wizard and Gertie is a chicken. Ollie is a mummy who thinks sharing is more fun than scaring. Join the goslings as they hoot, howl, and haunt the night away. Includes a fold-out poster. Full color. …More
Plumply, Dumply Pumpkin Plumply, Dumply Pumpkin
By Serfozo, Mary
Illustrator Petrone, Valeria
2001-09 – Margaret K. McElderry Books
0689838344
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CCBC Choices – 2002
Peter searches for the perfect pumpkin for Halloween, and instead of using it for pumpkin pickles or pies, he plans to make it a glowing, grinning jack o’ lantern for a contest. Full-color illustrations.
…More
Pumpkin Eye Pumpkin Eye
By Fleming, Denise
Illustrator Fleming, Denise
2001-09 – Henry Holt & Company
9780805066814
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Award-winning author/artist Fleming offers a Halloween story with just the right amount of spookiness for preschoolers. Full color. …More
Pumpkin Trouble Pumpkin Trouble
By Thomas, Jan
2011-07 – HarperCollins Publishers
9780061692840
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Awards:
Virginia Readers Choice Award (2014)
Ideal for very young readers celebrating Halloween, “Pumpkin Trouble” is a hilarious and vibrantly illustrated picture book that tells the story of a jack’o’lantern gone awry. Full color. …More
Room on the Broom Room on the Broom
By Donaldson, Julia
Illustrator Scheffler, Axel
2003-08 – Puffin Books
0142501123
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When a witch loses her hat and wand while riding her broomstick, three helpful animals find the missing items. All they want in return is a ride on the broom. Is there room on the broom? Full color. …More
Spooky Spooky Spooky! Spooky Spooky Spooky!
By MacLennan, Cathy
2009-10 – Boxer Books
9781906250676
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Featuring a cast of fantastically creepy characters, from velvety bats to slippery snails, MacLennan’s latest title is a wonderfully spine-tingling (but never scary) journey through the darkest hours of Halloween night. Full color. …More
The Spooky Wheels on the Bus The Spooky Wheels on the Bus
By Mills, J. Elizabeth
Illustrator Mantle, Ben
2010-07 – Cartwheel Books
9780545174800
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Count from One Spooky Bus up to Ten Goofy Ghosts as this Halloween ride races through town picking up a few unsuspecting passengers along the way. Full color. …More

Blurbs From the Branch: My Personal Top 13 Scary Movies

Filed under: Blurbs from the Branch, Movies — Tags: , , — Becca B @ 8:00 am

For the month of October I pondered over which frightening films I go to again and again, particularly near Halloween. Of course, there are the classic ones that most people have seen: The Exorcist, Scream, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Friday the 13th, Psycho, etc. Some of my favorites are not as well known, and I would like to share my 13 personal favorites, in no particular order.

what liesskeletonkeyringsinisterjeeperscreepersdragmetohellrecinsidious

What Lies Beneath: I saw this movie as a teenager and it was the first scary movie I watched in a movie theater. I haven’t seen it in quite some time, but I remember being on the edge of my seat the entire movie and that my best friend, who could no longer stand the anxiety the film was causing her, walked out during the denouement, about ten minutes before the movie ended.

The Skeleton Key: A young caretaker (Kate Hudson) takes on a new job looking after an elderly man at his and his wife’s old plantation home in the deep south. Bizarre behavior from the old man and his wife and the discovery of dark magic paraphernalia found in a secret room leads the hospice worker to believe something sinister is at work within the home. There doesn’t seem to be many movies in the horror/thriller genre that take place in this region of the country, even though it has such a long and rich history to draw on, and this movie does it very well.

The Ring: If you haven’t seen this one, you may have been living under a rock (or maybe you just don’t like to have the bejesus scared out of you). In 2013, Entertainment Weekly listed this film as one of the top 20 scariest movies of all time. The film was also awarded with two Saturn Awards in 2003 for Best Horror Film and Best Actress for Naomi Watts.

The Others: Not exactly a thriller, but extremely creepy. You will want to watch it again after seeing the ending.

Orphan: You know there is something off about the girl this family has newly adopted. Her antics begin to prove she has some serious problems. When you discover her big secret you will be in for a surprise (at least I was- and very creeped out)!

The Mist: Based on the Stephen King novella, the craziness that takes place in the grocery store by the people locked inside is almost as terrifying as the unknown monsters outside its doors. Beware: the ending is shocking and heartbreaking.

Sinister: This movie is dark and mysterious. Old film reels found in a newly bought house showcasing a series of murders sucks in the new owner who is looking for inspiration on which to write a new true crime novel. Obsession with the murders takes hold and begins to threaten his relationships and sanity.

Jeepers Creepers: How do you outrun/drive something that flys? You don’t. I still get the heebie jeebies when I hear that “Jeepers Creepers” song. The monster in this movie is terrifying.

Drag Me To Hell: Directed and co-written by Sam Raimi, most famously known for writing and directing The Evil Dead, his over-the-top freak-out moments are made to be seen with humor, which not everyone can appreciate. This movie had enough anxiety-ridden moments that I was glad to get a laugh in once in a while. However, be warned: the ending is not so light-hearted.

[Rec]: This Spanish film was made to look like it was recorded entirely on a hand-held video camera, with a lot of it shot in night-mode. You will have to read the English subtitles if you don’t speak Spanish, but after a few minutes you hardly even notice that. Strange things begin to happen inside a city apartment building, and what the young news reporter finds inside one of the apartments is truly terrifying.

Insidious: A well-timed and perfectly fitting soundtrack made this movie for me. It had me on the edge of my seat the entire time I watched it the first time. The sinister visuals paired with the music puts this film in the top five scariest movies of all time for me, personally. I dare you to watch it alone with the lights off.

Thirteen Ghosts: One of my favorite horror films in college, this movie highlights thirteen hideous ghosts/monsters that are trapped in the basement of the house the unsuspecting family has just moved into.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose: Before you knew her as Deb from Showtime’s hit drama Dexter, Jennifer Carpenter was Emily Rose. In the film, Emily Rose’s death is at the center of controversy after she died, supposedly from an unsuccessful exorcism. The present story takes place in a courtroom, where the priest is being charged with negligent homicide for Emily’s death. In flashback scenes the audience is taken into the life of Emily Rose up until her death. Ultimately, it is up to the viewer to decide- did Emily need help from medical and psychological professionals or someone equipped to deal with evil entities?

- Nicole

October 13, 2014

Off the Shelf: Straight to the Source (material)

Stephen King - HIstorical Fiction

The King of…historical fiction?

The war for your digital programming attention is heating up, and while you may have a favorite video streaming provider- Netflix, Hulu plus, Amazon Prime, here at the library you don’t have to pay extra for exclusive access. Our movie libraries are bigger, our book selection is always free, and our information? Priceless. Here are a few greats of “original premium programming” that the Cedar Mill Community Library can provide.
Stephen King’s 11/22/63 was a huge hit. The english teacher protagonist Jake finds a door to 1958, and in an attempt to stop the JFK assassination finds a new life in the past. With a nail-biting third act and outstanding critical acclaim, the rights to a movie (or series) would spell big dollars for whoever got ahold of King’s latest success. This time, it was Hulu that stepped up, grabbing the rights and putting in-demand director J.J. Abrams on the project. So, long before that big deal comes around, grab your copy of 11/22/63 and get ready.

powersPowers – Another new entry into the world of exclusive programming is the Playstation Network. Expanding out of the world of video games and into premium content, Sony is starting off big with an adaptation of the popular comic series Powers. Powers, written by genre big wig Brian Michael Bendis follows the Powers Division of the police who keep tabs on all the superhero related crimes in the city. It might be a while before the live-action adaptation makes it to our shelves (it’s slated to come out on the PSN this December), but we’ve got 15 volumes of source material that should keep you busy. Pick it up!

A number of other great books have become hit original series. For Netflix’s huge success House of Cards, there is both the book of the same name by Michael Dobbs, its two sequels (Book 2, Book 3), and the original BBC adaptation. Don’t forget Orange is the New Black, also by Netflix, or the HBO favorite Game of Thrones.
For fans of excellent science fiction, the syfy channel is launching a new adaptation of James Corey’s The Expanse series, all of which are incredible reads. Books are hitting it big in the world of premium programming, so while you are waiting for the latest release, brush up on the epic source material!  – Rob

expansethroneshousecardsorangeblack

October 10, 2014

Checking In: The Dreamscapes of J.G. Ballard

ballard1“But the dunes were at least ten feet deep, reaching up to the second floors of the office buildings. Half the Appalachians had been destroyed by the sun to yield this deluge of rock and dust. Street signs and traffic lights protruded from the sand, a rusty metallic flora, old telephone lines trailed waist-high, marking out a labyrinth of pedestrian catwalks. Here and there, in the hollows between the dunes, were the glass doors of bars and jewellery stores, dark grottoes like subterranean caves.” – from Hello America

British author J.G. Ballard is perhaps best known for his semiautobiographical novel Empire of the Sun (and its Steven Spielberg-directed adaptation). The bulk of his work is a mix of short fiction and novels that examine systemic, societal and technological decay, often through an apocalyptic lens. His early novels center on ecological disasters. The Crystal World and The Drowned World, in particular, have a woozy, hallucinatory quality not unlike the final hour of an ill-advised all-nighter.

“Five minutes later he could hear all around him the running steps of the men following his path. Hidden behind the intervening walls and houses, they moved along with him, extending in two arcs on either side, like a group of small boats tracking a sounding whale. The muffled footsteps padded across the empty porches. Ransom crouched down and rested between two cars. Behind him the smoke plumes rising from the gardens were disturbed and broken.” – from The Drought

Later Ballard increases both satire and the shock factor. Hello America is a return to a post-ecological disaster America by a European expedition, dissecting the sunset of a specific kind of American dream, while Crash examines the intersection between sexuality and technology. High-Rise satirizes life in a UK tower block as microcosm – the rise of new rules, laws and lingua franca as its residents battle for control floor-by-floor.

A short story collection, The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard, demonstrates his range, from early science fiction like “Chronopolis”  to the lovely “Garden of Time”  to bitterly satirical pieces and cautionary tales, sometimes with very strong transgressive elements (“The Atrocity Exhibition” among others). For this reason, I recommend stepping very lightly around mid and late-period Ballard, for instance Crash – its ruthless precision and explicit content make the novel heavy going for just about anyone.  His early dystopic works, however, remain just as alluring today as a rebuke to entropy and decay.

“As he carried the flower back onto the terrace, it began to sparkle and deliquesce, the light trapped within the core at last released. Gradually the crystal dissolved, only the outer petals remaining intact, and the air around Axel became bright and vivid, charged with slanting rays that flared away into the waning sunlight. [...] The darkened portico of the house, its patina of age stripped away, loomed with a curious spectral whiteness as if suddenly remembered in a dream.” – from “The Garden of Time”

- Patrick

 

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