Friday, September 30, 2016

New York Times Bestsellers Top 5 (Week of Oct. 2)

Many patrons browse the new materials section of the library to discover the latest reads.  Part of finding them is browsing the New York Times Bestsellers we make available at all locations.  Check out this blog entry to discover the latest to lead the pack on the Hardcover Fiction & Nonfiction lists for the upcoming week.

Hardcover Fiction Top 5

#1: Home
Author: Harlan Coben
Weeks On List: 1
Call Number: M COBEN
Summary: A decade ago, kidnappers grabbed two boys from wealthy families and demanded ransom, then went silent. No trace of the boys ever surfaced. For ten years their families have been left with nothing but painful memories and a quiet desperation for the day that has finally, miraculously arrived: Myron Bolitar and his friend Win believe they have located one of the boys, now a teenager. Where has he been for ten years, and what does he know about the day, more than half a life ago, when he was taken? And most critically: what can he tell Myron and Win about the fate of his missing friend? Drawing on his singular talent, Harlan Coben delivers an explosive and deeply moving thriller about friendship, family, and the meaning of home.

#2: Commonwealth
Author: Ann Patchett
Weeks On List: 2
Call Number: F PATCHETT
Summary: Commonwealth is the story of two broken families and the paths their lives take over the course of 40 years, through love and marriage, death and divorce, and a dark secret from childhood that lies underneath it all.

#3: The Underground Railroad
Author: Colson Whitehead
Weeks On List: 8
Call Number: F WHITEHEAD
Summary: Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted. Their first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city's placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels.

#4: The Woman in Cabin 10
Author: Ruth Ware
Weeks On List: 10
Call Number: M WARE
Summary: In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie's works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea.

#5: Razor Girl
Author: Carl Hiaasen
Weeks On List: 3
Call Number: M HIAASEN
Summary: When Lane Coolman's car is bashed from behind on the road to the Florida Keys, what appears to be an innocent accident is anything but (this is Hiaasen!). Behind the wheel of the offending car is Merry Mansfield--the eponymous Razor Girl--so named for her unique, eye-popping addition to what might be an otherwise unexciting scam. But, of course--this is Hiaasen!--the scam is only the very beginning of a situation that's going to spiral crazily out of control while gathering in some of the wildest characters Hiaasen has ever set loose on the page.

Hardcover Nonfiction Top 5

#1: Killing the Rising Sun
Author: Bill O'Reilly
Weeks On List: 2
Call Number: 940.542 ORE
Summary: Portrays the events of World War II in 1944, when escalating Pacific battles between the forces of General MacArthur and the Japanese army lead to the development of humanity's deadliest weapon and President Truman's impossible choice.

#2: Love Warrior
Author: Glennon Doyle Melton
Weeks On List: 3
Call Number: Not Housed
Summary: After her husband confesses to multiple infidelities, a woman who has overcome bulimia and alcoholism struggles to grow — and so does he.

#3: The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo
Author: Amy Schumer
Weeks On List: 6
Call Number: 92 SCHUMER
Summary: Amy Schumer, Emmy Award-winning comedian, actress, writer, and star, mines her past for stories about her teenage years, her family, relationship, and sex, and shares the experiences that have shaped who she is--a woman with the courage to bare her soul and stand up for what she believes in, all while making us laugh. Ranging from the raucous to the romantic, the heartfelt to the harrowing, this highly entertaining and universally appealing collection is the literary equivalent of a night out with your best friend -- an unforgettable and fun adventure you wish could last forever.

#4: Hillbilly Elegy
Author: J.D. Vance
Weeks On List: 9
Call Number: 92 VANCE
Summary: Shares the story of the author's family and upbringing, describing how they moved from poverty to an upwardly mobile clan that included the author, a Yale Law School graduate, while navigating the demands of middle class life and the collective demons of the past.

#5: Hero of the Empire
Author: Candice Millard
Weeks On List: 1
Call Number: Not Housed
Summary: The young Winston Churchill’s adventures in Africa during the Boer War, including an escape from captivity in 1899.

Look for these titles at your Abilene Public Library and discover why they've become such hits in mainstream literature.  If they're not available, get yourselves on the reserve lists and secure your spot in line.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Weekly Library Events (Oct. 3-8)

Keep up with the great programs and events your Abilene Public Library has to offer by catching this weekly blog each Thursday.  For a complete listing, visit our main website to take a look at our program calendar.

Tween Time: Popsicle Spider Webs
Oct. 3 at 6:30PM
Main Library
202 Cedar St.
PH: 325-676-6067
Youth and teens, between the ages of 8-15, are invited to attend our monthly craft session at the Main Library where we'll be showing you how to create your own Spider Webs using popsicle sticks and other fun supplies.  It's the perfect craft for October, as we begin heading towards Halloween.  All materials will be supplied and there is no registration required.  For additional information, contact Kelsie Wade at 325-676-6067.

Basic Digital Photography
Oct. 3 at 6:30PM
Main Library
202 Cedar St.
PH: 325-676-6025
Join professional photographer Steve Templeton, and hear his tips on taking successful pictures. Bring your camera and owner’s manual for some hands on instruction.  Even if you’re somewhat experienced you’re sure to learn something that will enhance your skills.  For more information about this event, contact us at 325-676-6025.

Anime Club
Oct. 4 at 6:30PM
Main Library
202 Cedar St.
PH: 325-676-6067
If you're between the ages of 14-25, and you have a passion for all things related to anime and manga, don't miss out on your chance to be a part of our monthly Anime Club at your library.  Meeting on the first Tuesday evenings of the month, we meetup to watch hit anime shows, discuss cosplay, and all sorts of fun activities with your peers.  No registration is needed to be a part of the club, simply come out to our next session and check us out.  For more information, contact Amanda Sasser at 325-676-6067.

Where to Start to Love Your Heart
Oct. 4 at 6:30PM
Main Library
202 Cedar St.
PH: 325-676-6025
Heart disease remains the number one killer of Americans.  Come learn how to support cardiovascular health with food, under the direction of nutritional health coach Dessire Armstrong.  Bring a pen, and something to write on, and gain some valuable information from a local expert in our community.  For additional information about this event, please contact us at 325-676-6025.

Make & Take: Scarecrows
Oct. 6 at 4:00PM
Mockingbird Branch
1326 N. Mockingbird Ln.
PH: 325-437-7323
Kids of all ages are invited to join us at the library, after school, for some crafting fun with library staff.  As we're in the Fall season, this activity will be centered around scarecrows, where we'll supply all the materials necessary for showing you how to create your own decorations.  There's no need to register, just come out and be ready to have some fun at your library.  For additional information, feel free to contact Darla Casella at 325-437-7323.

Collecting Commas Writing Club
Oct. 6 at 4:30PM
Main Library
202 Cedar St.
PH: 325-676-6067
If you have a child between the ages of 10-17, and they love to express themselves through writing, don't miss out on the chance to be a part of the weekly Collecting Commas Writing Club at your Main Library.  Meeting every Thursday afternoon at 4:00PM, this group meets to hone their creative writing skills in all form of writing including novels, short stories, poetry, and more.  Plus, we make writing fun by engaging in a host of fun activities to help inspire ideas and participation among participants.  There's no need to register to be a part of this club, simply come check out a meeting and see if it's meant for you.  For more information about this weekly program, contact Kelsie Wade at 325-676-6067.

Adult Coloring Club
Oct. 6 at 6:30PM
Main Library
202 Cedar St.
PH: 325-676-6025
Local adults are invited to join us for our monthly Coloring Club activity night at the Main Library.  We're here to show you that coloring just isn't for kids, and it's a great way to socialize with others while relieving some stress too.  Meet us at the library to do just that and we'll supply all the coloring pages and materials you'll need.  If you wish to bring your own supplies, you're more than free to do so.  For more information about this program, please feel free to contact Ann Mount at 325-676-6025.

OverDrive for eBooks
Oct. 7 at 9:00AM
Mockingbird Branch
1326 N. Mockingbird Ln.
PH: 325-437-7323
Did you know your Abilene Public Library offers a great lineup of digital services available to all library cardholders for free?  One of the ways you can use them is to checkout and download eBooks for use on PCs, tablets, and smartphones.  If you need help on getting started, we invite you to make use of this program that will be offered every Friday in October.  Call 325-437-7323 and schedule a time for come in and allow staff to show you how to get started with using the OverDrive, the most popular digital service in our lineup. 

Super Storytime: Boo to You
Oct. 7 at 10:45AM
Main Library
202 Cedar St.
PH: 325-676-6067
Kids and parents are invited to join us for the monthly Super Storytime event at your Main Library featuring great stories, songs, crafts and more.  For October, the theme will be "Boo To You" where we'll share some scary (but not-so-scary) stories with kids and even make some cool crafts like a ghost craft using cotton balls and paper.  Don't miss out on this enhanced storytime activity, and for additional information, contact Insperation Sanchez at 325-676-6067.

Procraftinators
Oct. 8 at 10:00AM
Main Library
202 Cedar St.
PH: 325-676-6025
Calling all Procraftinators (aka procrastinators who craft and create)! Do you still have a pile of WIPs (works in progress)? This winter bring all those projects that you want to finish before the holidays to the Abilene Public Library. Mark your calendar for a dedicated time to get out of the house and work on all those crafty creations that you want to finish up. Whether you knit, crochet, or cross stitch all crafters are welcome.  Don't miss out on this event, and for additional information, contact us at 325-676-6025.

Don't miss out on these great activities being hosted at your library and get in on what they have to offer.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Book-To-Film Adaptations: October 2016

Literature often inspires film adaptations and each month I like to highlight those hitting theaters soon.  Check out this blog entry to see what they are, and be on the lookout for seeing them in theaters...as well as checking out their source material at your library.

The Girl on the Train
Starring: Emily Blunt
Release Date: Oct. 7
Author: Paula Hawkins
Summary: A divorcee becomes entangled in a missing persons investigation that promises to send shockwaves throughout her life.

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
Starring: Griffin Gluck
Release Date: Oct. 7
Author: James Patterson
Summary: Imaginative quiet teenager Rafe Katchadorian is tired of his middle school's obsession with the rules at the expense of any and all creativity.  Desperate to shake things up, Rafe and his best friends have come up with a plan: break every single rule in the school and let the students run wild.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
Starring: Tom Cruise
Release Date: Oct 21
Based On: "Never Go Back"
Author: Lee Child
Summary: Jack Reacher must uncover the truth behind a major government conspiracy in order to clear his name.  On the run as a fugitive from the law, Reacher uncovers a potential secret from his past that could change his life forever.

American Pastoral
Starring: Ewan McGregor
Release Date: Oct. 28
Based On: "American Pastoral"
Author: Philip Roth
Summary: In 1968, a hardworking man, who's been a staple in his quaint community for years, watches his seemingly perfect middle class life fall apart as his daughter's new radical political affiliation threatens to destroy their family.

Inferno
Starring: Tom Hanks
Release Date: Oct. 28
Based On: "Inferno"
Author: Dan Brown
Summary: When Robert Langdon wakes up in an Italian hospital with amnesia, he teams up with Dr. Sienna Brooks, and together they must race across Europe, against the clock, to foil a deadly global plot.

And there you have it, your look at October's book-to-film adaptations to be on the lookout for.

Monday, September 26, 2016

"eBooks for Children from Your Library" | @ the Library Article

How often are you sitting in a restaurant or standing in a line with your children and they are so bored that you really, really need something to help entertain them?  These days it's pretty easy to hand the children our cellphone or tablet and allow games or YouTube to entertain them.  That's nice, but what if I told you that your Abilene Public Library provides a great resource for kids that is not only entertaining, but educational?  Tumblebooks and Tumblebooks, Jr. are provided by the Abilene Public Library, as just two of many such resources for kids.

What is Tumblebooks?  According their website, "TumbleBookLibrary is an online collection of animated, talking picture books which teach young children the joys of reading in a format they'll love."  Tumblebooks provides books that can be listened to or read, as well as videos, puzzles, games, and more.  Although the website's primary purpose is to promote reading, other concepts such as math, spelling, science, and history are also presented.  There is also a language learning tab that reads books in other languages and provides games to reinforce concepts that have been taught.

One great thing about these books is that the children may read along with the books, so they are hearing the words, looking at the pages, and the words are highlighted on the page as they read.  Fluency studies have shown that this is an excellent method for helping readers who struggle to read because of dyslexia or other problems.  This is also helpful for beginning readers who can grow their vocabulary by seeing the written words while hearing them.

Very short, educational videos, including National Geographic videos, are also available through the website.  These cover different categories, such as: Animals and Nature, Space & Technology, Geography, History, Biology, Science, Earth Science, and Social Studies.

What ages should use Tumblebooks?  All age groups may enjoy and benefit from this website; however, Tumblebooks is geared to appeal from toddlers to 3rd grade.  TumbleBookCloud is designed for children in grades three to six with longer stories and higher reading and interest levels.  Many of the books also include quizzes and lesson plans which are linked to Common Core guidelines for teachers and students.  Both websites provide Accelerated Reading quiz information as well.

You can access their website through the library's homepage by typing in www.abilenetx.com/apl, clicking on the Digital Services link, then scrolling down to the Tumblebook link.  For ease of access, simply bookmark that page or add a shortcut to your homescreen or desktop, and your child can easily access it.  Tumblebooks provides great books and resources for children, parents, and teachers and they are right at your fingertips on your phone or tablet through your Abilene Public Library!

Article Contributed by Janis C. Test, Information Services Manager at the Main Branch of the Abilene Public Library

Saturday, September 24, 2016

"Authors Speak to Luncheon Audience at Boots & Books Event in Abilene" | Abilene Reporter-News

Article by Janet Van Vleet, Arts & Entertainment Editor for the Abilene Reporter-News, Sept. 24, 2016

Hundreds gathered to enjoy barbecue and celebrate literacy Saturday at the annual Boots & Books Luncheon, the final event of the West Texas Book Festival

The weeklong book festival coordinated by the Friends of the Abilene Public Library features authors, book signings and other happenings.

Leila Meacham Receiving A.C. Greene Award
Texas author Leila Meacham received the A.C. Greene Award, presented to a distinguished Texas author for lifetime achievement.

She thanked the Friends for choosing her for the honor and said she felt deeply privileged.

Meacham same her right to call herself a Texan has been called into questions as she spent the first three weeks of her life east of the Sabine River.  Her mother, carrying twins, could not make it back home in time for Meacham and her brother to be born in Texas.

"I say, 'Phooey!'" she exclaimed.  "I didn't smile until I was on Texas soil.  I am a Texan."

She told the audience she had written her first romance novel when she was 40 and ended up signing a three-book contact.  The experience was such a poor one, she stopped writing entirely.  But 25 years later, she started writing again and wrote four Texas epics - more than 600 pages each - in six years.

Setting the books in Texas offered "excellent fiber for fiction."

Alyssa Crow Wins Librarian Award
Alyssa Crow, the children's librarian at the south branch of the Abilene Public Library, was named the Ricki Brown Librarian of the Year.

Surprised and ecstatically happy, Crow repeated, "Thank you, thank you, thank you" over and over again.  She thanked the person who nominated her for the award and said, "Good job."

Carlton Stowers, a contributing writer to "West Texas Stories," which features many local authors, spoke about his childhood entrepreneurial spirit when he collected horned toads and shipped them to a curio shop in Topeka, Kansas.  He used the money, 10 cents per toad, to pay the 9 cents to go to the movies on Saturday afternoons in Ballinger.

Festival chairman Glenn Dromgoole and author Joe Specht led the crowd in a chorus of "Abilene" before Stowers spoke.  The song includes the line about Abilene that "the women there don't treat you mean."

Stowers had his own opinion on that.

"That songwriter didn't know some of the women I knew growing up," said the Abilene High School alum.

Friday, September 23, 2016

"Culinary Luncheon Boasts Recipes by Featured West Texas Book Festival Authors" | Abilene Reporter-News

Article by Janet Van Vleet, Arts and Entertainment Editor for the Abilene Reporter-News, Sept. 22, 2016

The TSTC Culinary Institute rang with conversation Thursday as dozens of diners gathered to feast on Grilled Steak Pinwheels, Salad Puffballs and Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Spinach.

The Culinary Cuisines Luncheon is part of the weeklong West Texas Book Festival.

Volunteers from local organizations served as the waitstaff.
The lunch menu came from the cookbooks of four featured authors - Jacqueline Cavender ("As the Spur Spins"), Melissa Guerra ("The Texas Provincial Kitchen"), and Laura Samuel Meyn and Anthony Head ("Meatless in Cowtown: A Vegetarian Guide to Food and Wine, Texas Style").

Cavender (yes, of Cavender's Western Wear) spoke at the beginning and let everyone know that proceeds from her book were going to the American Cancer Society and the Cystic Fibrosis Society.

Her book features recipes from her mother and mother-in-law, close friends and celebrities such as musician Pat Green, former First Lady Laura Bush and actor Dennis Quaid.

Also speaking before lunch began was Guerra, who grew up and lives on a working cattle ranch along the border between Texas and Mexico.

"My family's been there for a long time," she said.  "My maiden name is McAllen, so that tells you how long."

Dessert was peach cobbler, from "The Texas Provincial Kitchen."

Meyn spoke to the crowd, explaining that she and Head met while working at Bon Appetit, a culinary magazine.  She said the cookbook includes recipes from her husband and Head's wife, as well as from the two authors.

"It's what we cook, eat and drink when we're together," Meyn said.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Weekly Library Events (Sept. 26 - Oct. 1)

Keep up with the great programs and events your Abilene Public Library has to offer by catching this weekly blog each Thursday.  For a complete listing, visit our main website to take a look at our program calendar.

Twisted Tales Teen Book Club
Sept. 26 at 4:30PM
Main Library
202 Cedar St.
PH: 325-676-6067
If you're a teen who loves to read, you'll certainly want to be a part of our Twisted Tales Book Club at your Main Library.  Each month we'll meet up to discuss popular YA literature that are full of twists, or re-tellings of familiar stories we heard as children.  This month's featured book is "Unhooked" by Lisa Maxwell, in a fantasy story filled with twists and turns about a girl who is kidnapped and brought to an island inhabited by fairies, a roguish ship captain, and bloodthirsty beasts.  Check out a copy of this book from your library, read it, and then come ready to discuss it with other teens in the community.  For more information, contact Kelsie Wade at 325-676-6067.

How to Have the Best Pet Possible
Sept. 26 at 6:30PM
Main Library
202 Cedar St.
PH: 325-676-6025
The community is invited to come out and join us for a free workshop, led by Pat Brannan of Pat's Pawsitive Dog Training, LLC.  She will be on hand to lead a great workshop, both discussing and demonstrating, how every dog is trainable (regardless of breed or age) with positive reinforcement.  If you have a four-legged friend you've been trying to train, this is the perfect workshop to attend to get the tips and tricks you need from a local expert.  We also ask that you leave your own pets at home for this event.  If you need additional information, feel free to contact Dennis Miller at 325-676-6025. 

Facebook: You're Doing It Wrong
Sept. 27 at 6:30PM
Main Library
202 Cedar St.
PH: 325-676-6025
The community is invited out to a free workshop that's all about learning how to use Facebook, to the fullest, at your business.  Learn how to save yourself, and your business, from social media woes at this program led by Desiree Martinez.  Since 2010, Martinez has been doing just that by helping entrepreneurs plan and execute social media strategies, as well as produce creative content.  Be sure to have something to take notes on, as well as come with your questions, and for additional information, contact Dennis Miller at 325-676-6025. 

Tracing Your Roots: Beginner's Genealogy Workshop
Sept. 28 at 10:00AM
Mockingbird Branch
1326 N. Mockingbird Ln.
PH: 325-437-7323
If you have an interest in getting started in tracing your family history, we invite you to attend this free introductory workshop at your Mockingbird Branch Library.  This workshop will be led by experienced local genealogist Cindy Jones, who has presented at the Abilene Public Library a number of times over the years, bringing your passion for genealogy to guests each time.  A this workshop, she'll be on hand to explain the basics of genealogy research and how to get started with unraveling your own family history.  Once you start, you may just be surprised at how addictive it can be.  For more information on this program, contact Anne Ellis at 325-437-7323.

Collecting Commas Writing Club
Sept. 29 at 4:30PM
Main Library
202 Cedar St.
PH: 325-676-6067
Youth are invited to be a part of our weekly writing club at your library, where you can hone your creative writing skills in all forms from novels to poetry.  Each week we meet to work on various writing activities in a stress-free environment with your peers, and we even work on larger joint projects such as putting together poetry slams, writing plays, doing skits, and more.  We have a great group of youth attending each month, and we want you to be a part of the writing fun at your library.  There's no need to register, and for additional club information, contact Kelsie Wade at 325-676-6067.

Attracting Monarchs to Your Garden
Sept. 29 at 6:30PM
Main Library
202 Cedar St.
PH: 325-676-6025
If you ever wanted to maximize your chances for having the monarch butterflies visit your home, this is the perfect workshop to come out and attend at your library.  We'll be welcoming out Texas Master Gardener and Naturalist Jean Dotson, who will share how attracting these butterflies with milkweed can be both fun and educational for all ages.  Don't miss out on this great program at your library, and for additional information, contact Dennis Miller at 325-676-6025. 

Don't miss out on these great activities being hosted at your library and get in on what they have to offer.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

"Published Author, 11, Reflects On Her Long Career" | Abilene Reporter-News

Article by Greg Jaklewicz, Editorial Page Editor for the Abilene Reporter-News, Sept. 21, 2016

Vicky Gao thinks back to a book she wrote when she was younger, "The Super Power GIrls."  Reading that work now, she finds it "childish."

Vicky is 11.

The Craig Middle School sixth-grader was spotlighted Tuesday night as a locally published author at this year's West Texas Book Festival.  Yes, she was the youngest author in the room.

Her latest book is "The Curse of the Stone."  It's 245 pages and self-published.  Not quite Stephen King territory but in this day of 144-character limit per tweet, darn impressive.  Book festival organizer Glenn Dromgoole, who gave his 2-minute sales pitch just before Vicky, is fond of writing much shorter works.  "The Curse of the Stone" would be at least three writing projects for him.

Vicky herself is equally impressive - a mature, polite, confident and funny young lady.  She is one of three children in the Gao family.  Her brother, 5-year-old James, followed her around the main Abilene Public Library on Tuesday.  Her sister, 2-year-old Christina, stayed with their mother, Wei.  Mom is an accountant at Hardin-Simmons University, where their father, Fei, is an assistant professor of finance.  They moved here in 2010 from Pullman, Washington, home of Washington State University.

You would guess correctly they are Asian-Americans, and that plays significantly into Vicky's life.  Each summer, the family travels to China, where her parents met, to visit his parents and two aunts.

It's a long trip via the Pacific Ocean, one she understands more clearly now that she is studying geography in middle school.

It was during a visit in 2014 that she came across something stuck to a pole.  She first thought it might be gum - how else would it stay in place?  But it was a stone.

"I thought, 'That's odd.  How is it supported?'" Vicky said.  Her imagination took that unusual sight and ran with it.

In her book, orphaned twin brother and sister Aerida and Aegilus find strange stones, which transport them to another world.  There, they discover they have magical powers.  They make friends, who tag along, and obtain dragons, eventually setting off on a fantastic quest.  But the stones are cursed and the four tasks they must accomplish - including forging a sword with great power - not only are almost impossible, they must be done within seven days.  (Think doing your tax return a week before April 15 without TurboTax.)

If the siblings fail, they die.

"I tried to have suspense in it," Vicky said.  Yes, facing death does up the ante.

I know what you are thinking?  How very Potteresque.  Harry vs. Lord Voldemort and all that.

You are right.  And are you surprised?  J.K. Rowling's series has ignited imaginations from Abilene to Zhengzhou.

Vicky said the Potter books - "The Goblet of Fire" is her favorite - were part of her inspiration, having read the entire series years ago.

"One after another," she said.  That was the year she was a 7-million-word reader; each May, Abilene ISD students are honored for having read 1 million words.  Her mother said that as a fourth-grader, her daughter read 11 million words.

Vicky giggled at the suggestion that she reads a lot.  When does she have time to draw and to learn to play the music of South Korean pianist/composer Yiruma (her favorite, who began serious study at 10)?

Her book took a year to write.  She said she sometimes wrote with great motivation but other times was "down about it."

"I gave up on previous books but I stuck with it," she said.  (Vicky, it has happened to all of us would-be authors...)

Was she excited when she saw her book in paperback arrive at her home?

"The first time a shipment came, I was screaming with excitement," she said.  "And that's not an exaggeration."

Her mother, she said, beamed at the sight.

Vicky paused and shared a dark secret: Neither parent, she said, has read her book "in its entirety."

There was a hint of disapproval in her smile.

Vicky has read it three times but acknowledged "it got boring" the fourth time.

A friend her age in Pullman read it and said it "was one of her favorite books."  Like, ever.

Vicky is intent on not being a one-hit wonder, like Harper Lee of "To Kill a Mockingbird" fame.

She is 50 or so pages into a new adventure, this one titled "The Scent."  A girl (of course) has the ability to sniff out a person's inner scent.  So, if she smells apple, you probably have good taste and make good decisions.  If she smells cherry blossom, you are sweet.  If she smells something foul, you might be a presidential candidate...

That scent ability will come in handy when she faces off with the bad guys, called Headers, and their robot minions on her quest for a prize.

Vicky has been writing since she was 7.

"I wasn't publishing then," she said, matter-of-factly.

She said she probably will look back in three to five years at "The Curse of the Stone" and view it with more discernment.  By then, she may be on the New York Times' best-seller list.

"I'll ask myself, 'Why did I write that?'" she said.

Her book has a happy ending.  Readers want happy endings, she said, sounding very much like the veteran author she is.  The other authors in the room Tuesday, especially those writing romance novels, would agree.

What's it like to have an author in class, a superpower girl?

"What a talented, delightful little girl," said Debra Smith, Vicky's language arts teacher at Craig for just six weeks.  "She converses as well with adults as she does her peers - she is so social in presenting herself.  Of course, she's an excellent writer and she's already a million-word reader.  She said she read only 8 million words last year because fifth grade was harder.  But she is well-balanced."

Vicky said it would be totally cook if "The Curse of the Stone" became an accepted accelerated reading book in schools.

"I wonder if they'd let me take an AR test on it," she said.

"A Game of 42 is a Texas Tradition" | Abilene Reporter-News

Article by Scott Kirk, Special to the Abilene Reporter-News, Sept. 21, 2016

Dennis Roberson believes he knows the reason why 42, the quintessential domino game in Texas, is played in every part of the Lone Star State and virtually nowhere else.

"Who in their right mind is ever going to leave Texas?" asked Roberson of a lunch time crowd at the West Texas Book Festival at the Abilene Public Library Wednesday.  Roberson may have become the first author in the history of the festival to conclude his remarks and book signings by setting down with his audience to play 42.

When it comes to chronicling the history of the game, Roberson, the tournament manager for the Dean & Deluca (better known as the Colonial) Invitational PGA golf tournament in Fort Worth, literally wrote the book.  Roberson's book, Winning 42, first written in the early 1990s, is in its fourth edition.

The game, referred to unofficially as the "National Game of Texas" and officially as the state domino game, was birthed in the 1880s by two boys, Walter Earl and William Travis, who were tired of getting whippings for playing cards, considered in virtually every religious circle in 19th century Texas as the devil's game.  What they came up with was a card game played with dominoes.

Roberson, who describes himself as a third generation 42 player, said the game is timeless for a simple reason.

"I don't know any game that minimizes luck and maximizes skill as much," he said.

By the 1940s, 42 was played everywhere in the state, but until Roberson came along, no one had thought to write about it.  Well, that might not be exactly true.  Roberson said his father, who faced a dire professional situation in the 1970s, planted the idea with his son.

"My dad lost his job in the 70s," said Roberson.  "He was 49 and he had three kids who were getting ready to go to college."

In pondering what he might do, one option was, "I might write a book about 42."

Getting the book published turned out to be more problematic.  Roberson contacted the presses at University of Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Christian, Southern Methodist, and Texas Tech.  The only bite he got was from Texas Tech, where the woman who ran the press, while not from Texas, was fascinated about how a game could capture generations of a diverse state.

The book is a combination of 42 strategy and stories that Roberson gleaned from sending out surveys.

"As I did the survey, one of the neatest things was hearing these old stories," said Roberson.

One came from one of Roberson's friends, Tim Lewelling, a Weatherford native who taught and coached in DeLeon in the 1980s.  Lewelling went to college in Oklahoma, whose denizens, he was shocked to learn, had never heard of 42.  That revelation made Lewelling wonder if anyone outside of Weatherford played the game.

He found out that DeLeon was a hotbed, particularly at the feed and seed store, where an older gentleman, Bob Solomon, meted out daily beatings on the 42 table.

"He was an aggressive bidder and a man of few words," Lewelling remembered.  "I don't know if he ever knew my name.  He'd just say, 'You want to play 42?'"

The later editions of Roberson's book included stories from Texas celebrities who grew up playing the game.  One of the celebs, Bill Moyers of public television fame, recalled 42 as part of the landscape while he was growing up in East Texas.

"You didn't learn 42," said Moyers.  "It's in your DNA, or you're lost."

Roberson was told by the University of Texas that 42 was a dying game that would have no interest in a younger generation consumed by video games.  Roberson is happy to point out that you can play 42 online, although it's difficult to imagine how the romance of 42 can be replicated without the sound of dominos being shuffled on a table.

I think you're seeing it more now," said Roberson, who said it is common to see players in their 30s at tournaments or, when you get around the Bryan-College Station area, students from Texas A&M.  If Roberson had a part in helping 42 remain popular, he'll take his bow.

"We kept it from dying," he said.

Roberson not only wrote the book to tell the stories, but also to teach people how to play and how to understand that intricacies of bidding.

"I wanted people to be able to learn the game from scratch from this book, or I had failed," he said.

To test his theory, he had his wife learn the game from reading his book.  Roberson said his wife can hold her own against anyone.

He also wanted his father, who died this year, to read the book to see if it "passed muster."  His father game him perhaps his most ringing endorsement.

"He said, 'Son, you're giving away all the family secrets,'" said Roberson.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

"Authors Share Stories About Historic Churches" | Abilene Reporter-News

Article by Dan Carpenter, Special to the Abilene Reporter-News, 09-20-2016

Carl and Pixie Christensen started with a list of more than 600 historic churches, before narrowing it down to 65 that made the final cut in their new book, Lone Star Steeples: Historic Places of Workshop in Texas.

The Christensens, of Llano, kicked off the first Lunch at the Library program Monday as part of the 16th annual West Texas Book Festival.

"Based on historical markers, the character of the church and the architectural detail, we were able to narrow the list from 600 to 200 extremely impressive churches," said Carl Christensen.  "From there, we chose 65 to be in this book and ended up with enough for a second and third edition."

"Lone Star Steeples" captures the historically significant structures in watercolor illustrations - painted by Carl Christensen, a design architect - along with brief summaries of each church.

"The journey behind 'Lone Star Steeples' criscrossed the state along back roads, farm roads, and state highways," said Pixie Christensen.  "In these journeys and in the stories that were told, certain patterns began to emerge - most notably, the people's recognition of the church as their cultural foundation, their moral foundation and their social center."

Glenn Dromgoole, owner of Texas Star Trading Co. and chairman of the book festival, said the festival aims to accomplish several things, among them attracting and recognizing authors, publishers and readers from around Texas.

"This event, which is presented by the Friends of the Abilene Public Library, also recognizes local and area authors," Dromgoole said.  "We also want to increase awareness and support for library programs, and raise funds to benefit the library."

Carl Christensen told the audience gathered for lunch Monday that the churches in their book "range from stately edifices of brick and stone located in urban centers to more humble wood-frame chapels in rural surroundings.  The houses of faith shown in these pages have one important trait in common: they have all served as centers of cultural identity, spiritual comfort, and public service to the communities in which they arose."

Today's Top Book & DVD Releases

Everyone loves staying on top of the latest in books & DVDs and we receive them on a regular basis at your library.  Join us as we hit the highlights of the more popular titles being released today.

Home (Myron Bolitar #11)
Author: Harlan Coben
Summary: A decade ago, kidnappers grabbed two boys from wealthy families and demanded ransom, then went silent.  No trace of the boys ever surfaced.  For ten years their families have been left with nothing but painful memories and a quiet desperation for the day that has finally, miraculously arrived: Myron Bolitar and his friend Win believe they have located one of the boys, now a teen.  Where has he been for ten years, and what does he know about the day, more than half a life ago, when he was taken?  And most critically: What can he tell Myron and Win about the fate of his missing friend? 

The Kept Woman (Will Trent #10)
Author: Karin Slaughter
Summary: With the discovery of a murder at an abandoned construction site, Will Trent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is brought in on a case that becomes much more dangerous when the dead man is identified as an ex-cop.  Studying [the body, Sara Linton - the GBI's newest medical examiner and Will's lover - realizes that the extensive blood loss didn't belong to the corpse.  Sure enough, bloody footprints leading away from the scene indicate there is another victim - a woman - who has vanished...and who will die soon if she isn't found. 

Infamy
Author: Robert K. Tanenbaum
Summary: When a former Army veteran suddenly murders a colonel in New York, he claims that he had to do it because he was being used in mind control experiments.  Surprisingly a top Wall Street criminal defense lawyer, one with ties to the White House, decides to defend the killer, arguing that his client suffered from post-traumatic stress from his tours in Afghanistan and that it's his patriotic duty to assist him.  As New York DA Roger Karp prepares a murder case against the veteran, he meets with investigative reporter Ariadne Stupenagel, who suspects that one of her sources for a story on high-level government corruption was a victim in the shooting.  This points not to a random act of violence, but a hired killing that goes to the top levels of our nation.

Look for these great titles at your Abilene Public Library and get yourselves on the reserve lists so you're certain to keep up with some of the popular releases of the week.

Monday, September 19, 2016

October's Cover-to-Cover Book Club Selection

If you're looking for a great book club discussion group, try our Cover-to-Cover Book Club at your Abilene Public Library.  Meeting on the third Thursdays of the month, this group reads everything including bestsellers, fiction, biographies, nonfiction, classics, and more.

For October, the featured selection is Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes and we invite you to lookout for a copy at your library and then attend the book club meeting on Thursday, October 20 at 7:00PM, Main Library (202 Cedar St).  For ore information, be sure to contact Ann Mount at 325-676-6025.

Year of Yes
Author: Shonda Rhimes
Call Number: 808.22 RHI
About This Book: Rhimes, the creator/producer of such intelligent TV shows as "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal" is not only wiser, funnier, and cooler than your average therapist - she's also been there, if "there" is the land of the angry, scared and emotionally dysfunctional.  Never mind that she graduated from Dartmouth, is a proud and loving mother to her three kids, AND owns Thursday night TV, Rhimes was a mess until her sister made a chance remark at Thanksgiving - "You never say Yes to anything."  That's when Rhimes decided not only to face her fears but to hug the live out of them.  Rhimes found that saying Yes sometimes, paradoxically, also meant saying no, too.

Be sure to checkout this time from the library and then come ready to discuss it with other avid readers in the community at our next club meeting on Thursday, October 20 at 7:00PM.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

"A Celebration of Reading & Writing" | @ the Library Article

The 16th Annual West Texas Book Festival is here, and the first program is today at noon.  If you read this column last week, you'll know all about our lunch programs during the week, and we hope to see you at one or more of them!  However, on Saturday, you can have almost an entire day to celebrate reading, writing, and literacy at the Abilene Civic Center.

The day begins at 8 a.m. with registration for educators seeking Continuing Education credits.  The first program begins at 9 a.m.  Susan Holt Kralovansky will speak about writing books for children.  "There Was a Tall Texan Who Swallowed a Flea" and "Twelve Cowboys Ropin'" are her featured festival books, and she'll share her experiences and belief that writing books, reading books, and going to schools to talk to children about books, is the best job ever!

At 9:30 a.m., Abilene's own Marguerite Gray will talk about her series called Revolutionary Faith.  "Hold Me Close: Revolutionary Faith Book One" is a historical fiction title set in pre-revolutionary Charles Town and takes readers into the lives of immigrants, ordinary citizens, and prominent historical figures at a time in which decisions are made that will change the world.  Her second book in the series is set to be released this fall, with the third novel in progress.

At 10 a.m., the 2016 A.C. Greene Award winner and New York Time best-selling novelist Leila Meacham will speak.  Meacham is no stranger to the festival, having been a featured author a couple of years ago.  After her teaching career, to stave off boredom in retirement, Meacham wrote what became her first best-selling novel, "Roses."  Several novels (all set in Texas) later, her most recent book is "Titans" released earlier this year.

The Festival will debut the newly released "West Texas Stories," with several contributing authors speaking about the process at 10:30 a.m.

The Boots & Books Luncheon is a never-to-be-missed event, beginning at 10:45 a.m.  During this event, an update on the new South Branch of the Abilene Public Library will be presented, as will the A.C. Greene and Ricki Brown Abilene Librarian of the Year Awards.  Tickets for the delicious barbecue lunch are $25, and tickets are still available through tomorrow, Tuesday.  For reservations, call 325-672-9696 or stop by the Texas Star Trading Company, 174 Cypress St. in Downtown Abilene.

After lunch, get a chance to visit with and have books signed by the featured authors before you head home, full of good food, good fellowship and good books.

For information about all Festival events, go to www.abilenetx.com/apl and click on the Boots & Books logo, or call your library at 325-676-6025.

Friday, September 16, 2016

New York Times Bestsellers Top 5 (Week of Sept. 18)

Many patrons browse the new materials section of the library to discover the latest reads.  Part of finding them is browsing the New York Times Bestsellers lists we make available at all locations.  Check out this blog entry to discover the latest to lead the pack on the Hardcover Fiction & Nonfiction lists for the upcoming week.

Hardcover Fiction Top 5

#1: Apprentice in Death
Author: J.D. Robb
Weeks On List: 1
Call Number: M ROBB
Summary: Lieutenant Eve Dallas returns in a fast-paced new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author J.D. Robb. Nature versus nurture...the shots came quickly, silently, and with deadly accuracy. Within seconds, three people were dead at Central Park's ice skating rink.

#2: Razor Girl
Author: Carl Hiaasen
Weeks On List: 1
Call Number: M HIAASEN
Summary: When Lane Coolman's car is bashed from behind on the road to the Florida Keys, what appears to be an innocent accident is anything but (this is Hiaasen!). Behind the wheel of the offending car is Merry Mansfield--the eponymous Razor Girl--so named for her unique, eye-popping addition to what might be an otherwise unexciting scam. But, of course--this is Hiaasen!--the scam is only the very beginning of a situation that's going to spiral crazily out of control while gathering in some of the wildest characters Hiaasen has ever set loose on the page.

#3: The Underground Railroad
Author: Colson Whitehead
Weeks On List: 6
Call Number: F WHITEHEAD
Summary: Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted. Their first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city's placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels.

#4: A Great Reckoning
Author: Louise Penny
Weeks On List: 2
Call Number: M PENNY
Summary: "When an intricate old map is found stuffed into the walls of the bistro in Three Pines, it at first seems no more than a curiosity. But the closer the villagers look, the stranger it becomes. Given to Armand Gamache as a gift the first day of his new job, the map eventually leads him to shattering secrets. To an old friend and older adversary. It leads the former Chief of Homicide for the Sûreté du Québec to places even he is afraid to go. But must.

#5: The Woman in Cabin 10
Author: Ruth Ware
Weeks On List: 8
Call Number: 
Summary: In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie's works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea.

Hardcover Nonfiction Top 5

#1: Love Warrior
Author: Glennon Doyle Melton
Weeks On List: 1
Call Number: Not Housed
Summary: After her husband confesses to multiple infidelities, a woman who has overcome bulimia and alcoholism struggles to grow — and so does he.

#2: The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo
Author: Amy Schumer
Weeks On List: 4
Call Number: 92 SCHUMER
Summary: Amy Schumer, Emmy Award-winning comedian, actress, writer, and star, mines her past for stories about her teenage years, her family, relationship, and sex, and shares the experiences that have shaped who she is--a woman with the courage to bare her soul and stand up for what she believes in, all while making us laugh. Ranging from the raucous to the romantic, the heartfelt to the harrowing, this highly entertaining and universally appealing collection is the literary equivalent of a night out with your best friend -- an unforgettable and fun adventure you wish could last forever.

#3: Hillbilly Elegy
Author: J.D. Vance
Weeks On List: 7
Call Number: 92 VANCE
Summary: Shares the story of the author's family and upbringing, describing how they moved from poverty to an upwardly mobile clan that included the author, a Yale Law School graduate, while navigating the demands of middle class life and the collective demons of the past.

#4: When Breath Becomes Air
Author: Paul Kalanithi
Weeks On List: 35
Call Number: 92 KALANITHI
Summary: At the age of 36, on the verge of completing a decade's worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer.  One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live.  He died in March 2015, while working on this book, that provides a look into his life.

#5: Between the World and Me
Author: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Weeks On List: 61
Call Number: 92 COATES
Summary: For Ta-Nehisi Coates, history has always been personal. At every stage of his life, he's sought in his explorations of history answers to the mysteries that surrounded him -- most urgently, why he, and other black people he knew, seemed to live in fear.  What were they afraid of?  Coates takes readers along on his journey through America's history of race and its contemporary resonances through a series of awakenings -- moments when he discovered some new truth about our long, tangled history of race, whether through his myth-busting professors at Howard University, a trip to a Civil War battlefield with a rogue historian, a journey to Chicago's South Side to visit aging survivors of 20th century America's 'long war on black people,' or a visit with the mother of a beloved friend who was shot down by the police.

Look for these titles at your Abilene Public Library and discover why they've become such hits in mainstream literature.  If they're not available, get yourselves on the reserve lists and secure your spot in line.