Friday, April 29, 2016

Celebrate Superheroes and Cosplay at Abilene Public Library's 2016 Lib-Con | Abilene Reporter-News

Article Courtesy of Janet Van Vleet, Abilene Reporter-News

Three years ago, the Abilene Public Library launched a mini-convention aimed at gamers, anime fans, cosplay folks and fanboys (and fangirls).

The 2014 Lib-Con drew a nice size crowd - 290 attendees - during the multi-day program.

"I thought that was pretty good," said Janis Test, Information Services Manager at the Main Library in downtown Abilene.

Fast forward one year, and more than 1,500 attended the 2015 Lib-Con.

Amanda Sasser, Library Assistant II, also at the Main Library, said she credits attendees for spreading the news about the event and the authenticity of Lib-Con for the growth.

"It's been kind of word-of-mouth in the geek-nerd community, "Sasser said.  "It's pretty close to a real convention you would pay for in Dallas or Austin.

One thing that sets the Abilene convention apart is that admission is free.  Other than paying for food from the Rock'n  Rollerz and Sweet Side food trucks May 7, everything else is free.

This year's event features new programs, including a Face Off event similar to the TV show, with makeup artists competing to create the best horror-themed makeup; a life-size cosplay chess game; and an after-hours Nerf Wars on Friday night, for people 18 and older.

Both Sasser and Test said they expect attendance to get even bigger this year.  If the event gets too big, it might have to move to the Abilene Civic Center, Test said.

The 2016 Lib-Con begins Monday with a craft activity and screening of "Big Hero 6," as well as the new Harry Potter Triwizard Night for ages 13 and older.  The Harry Potter event will include three different crafts to complete for the three challenges, HP trivia, and more.

A variety of programs, including storytimes, gaming nights, movies, and more, are on the schedule throughout the week.

On Saturday, which marks the final day of Lib-Con and Free Comic Book Day across the nation, everyone gets a free comic book at any branch of the Abilene library, as long as supplies last.

There are literally programs for all ages.  So let that inner geek out and visit the library next week for a whole new experience.

Lib-Con Strikes on Monday

Lib-Con 2016 will hit your library on Monday, May 2, offering you 40 activities to take advantage of at your library.  With contests, gaming sessions, craft nights, after hours events, movie nights, vendors, and so much more, there will be tons to see and do at your library.
Library staff is super excited to be able to present this mini-convention to the community, now in its third year, and we appreciated everyone who has come out in the past to help make it such a success.

We encourage everyone to take advantage of this special series of events and help to keep this annual convention going strong.  Help us to increase our numbers and hit record highs this year.

Be sure to visit our Lib-Con Page online to get all the details on what's going on next week, and then come out and join us for all the fun.  Now is the time to get ready to Geek Out @ Your Library!!!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Weekly Library Events (May 2-7)

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.

Lib-Con Week
May 2-7
All Library Locations
PH: 325-676-6025
Lib-Con will be running at your library for its third year.  Over 40 events and activities are planned for this week alone that ties into anime, manga, comics, superheroes, gaming, contests, and more.  Rather than list all of the activities, please visit our Lib-Con Page to view our complete lineup of events.

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

Book-to-Film Adaptations: May 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 well as checking out their source materials at your library!

Captain America: Civil War
Starring: Chris Evans
Release Date: May 6
Based On: "Captain America" Comics
Creators: Joe Simon & Jack Kirby
Summary: After another incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability, headed by a governing body to oversee and direct the team.  The new status quo fractures the Avengers, resulting in two camps, one led by Steve Rogers and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without government interference, and the other following Tony Stark's surprising decision to support government oversight and accountability.

Alice Through the Looking Glass
Starring: Mia Wasikowska
Release Date: May 27
Based On: "Through the Looking Glass"
Author: Lewis Carroll
Summary: When Alice wakes up in Wonderland she must travel through a mysterious new world to retrieve a magical scepter that can stop the evil Lord of Time before he turns forward the clock and turns Wonderland into a barren, lifeless old world.  With the help of some new friends, Alice must also uncover an evil plot to put the Queen of Hearts back on the throne.

X-Men: Apocalypse
Starring: Michael Fassbender
Release Date: May 27
Based On: "X-Men" Comics
Creator: Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
Summary: Since the dawn of civilization, he was worshiped as a god.  Apocalypse, the first and most powerful mutant from Marvel's X-Men universe, amassed the powers of many other mutants,  becoming immortal and invincible.  Upon awakening after thousands of years, he is disillusioned with the world as he finds it and recruits a team of powerful mutants, including a disheartened Magneto, to cleanse mankind and create a new world order, over which he will reign.  As the fate of the Earth hands in the balance, Raven, with the help of Professor X, must lead a team of young X-Men to stop their greatest nemesis and save mankind from complete destruction.

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

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tremain's Book Corner: "Red Queen" by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Reviewed By: Tremain Jackson, South Branch Manager
Personal Rating: 3.75 Stars

Book Summary: This is a world divided by blood - red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers.  And to Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace.  Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own.  One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare's potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince.  Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance - Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart...

Personal Review: Here I am, picking up another YA titles to read, but I'm trying to grow as a person and not limit myself to just adult reads.  So comes this title, the first in a series by an author that had an interesting story behind it.  Plus, the title had me thinking of the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland, but this book had nothing to do with that series.  I just like to make random associations like that.

I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by this book and found myself enjoying it.  It's the story of the imbalance of power in society and how that power can quickly lead to chaos if left unchecked.  The elites have everything.  They're rich, they're god-like, they have superpowers, and the Reds are the exact opposites.  Certainly not fair in the least, but so goes the hierarchies in their lands.

But there's always a deviation in the plan, and you have that with Mare, who is among the Reds but harbors her own superpower.  Now the balance is shifting as Mare's political desire keeps her alive and constantly maneuvering through the dangerous game.  And a Red may just have the power in herself to overthrow the crown and change everyone's lives.

It's another entry in the popular dystopian sub-genre where you have a female lead at the center of it all.  That's pretty much standard these days with so many YA series and novels doing just that, but hey, if done right, then I'm not complaining.  In this book, Mare is young, unassuming, and slums her way in society as a pickpocket to support her family.  But as her 18th birthday is on the horizon, she knows she must enter the frontlines and fight in a way unless she's lucky enough to get a job to pardon her...but those are difficult to come by.

What I enjoyed about the stories were the abilities of the Silvers, which reminded me of the X-Men a bit.  The world Aveyard constructed was not overwhelming or underwhelming and she was able to interweave her facts and ideas into this world without it becoming messy.  The action sequences were well done and helped keep the pace of the book going along nicely.  All of this ultimately leads to your classic dystopian tale of fighting for liberation as members of society, and humanity as a whole, desire not to be oppressed.  And those structures set in place to restrict the lives of the Reds will crumble.

Another aspect of the story I enjoyed was the fact that even though I could almost compare Mare to Katniss from "The Hunger Games," in this book, much of the "action" is taking place in high court with the Silvers.  It's more about requiring a different level of deceit and games than your traditional battling to the death.

For a debut novel, I felt Aveyard did a great job.  She's not as lyrical as other authors, but uses that form now and again in her writing style.  As I can be a very sarcastic person, I also appreciated the use of sarcasm and "playful" banter throughout the story, as well as the little jabs the author makes on other dystopian reads through her prose.  Plus, the character development was strong, I could relate to them, the love story was in there (as they always are), but not to the point I was annoyed by it.

Is it enough to keep me reading on in the series?  Most definitely.  I'd recommend this title to adult and teen readers who enjoy dystopian reads, and looking for antoher great one to dive into.  Two books have been released so far (the second being Glass Sword) and so far there are four titles planned.  Look for a copy at your library and see what you think about it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Slow Cooking Led to Fast Success | Abilene Reporter-News Article

Special to the Abilene Reporter-News by Loretta Fulton

The authors of two successful cookbooks served up the perfect recipe Monday for a noontime address - toss in a good portion of humor, stir in a sprinkling of examples, and let it simmer for an hour.
The Crockin' Girls
Oh and be sure to serve samples from the cookbook as the address unfolds.  That recipe turned into an enjoyable luncheon presentation and earned a "well done" from the audience.

Monday was the last of four presentations of the annual Texas Author Series held at the Abilene Public Library.  Nicole Sparks and Jenna Marwitz of Early, better known as "The Crockin' Girls," talked about their experiences with publishing two cookbooks filled with slow cooker recipes, The Crockin' Girls' Slow Cookin' Companion, published in 2012, and It's Our Crockin' Life, which came out last fall.

While they talked, guests dined on "Hubby's Fave Enchilada Soup," prepared by Cathy Lauve, Becky Colman and Martha Magee.  The recipe, found on page 47 of It's Our Crockin' Life proved to be a "fave" of the audience, too.

Nobody was more surprised than Sparks and Marwitz with the success of a Facebook Page they created in 2011 to share slow cooker recipes with about 30 mothers of young children who needed quick recipes to fill hungry mouths.

"Overnight, we had multiplied into over a million followers on Facebook," Marwitz said.

Before long, they were getting the same request over and over: "Please put together a book."  So, a cookbook was published in time for Mother's Day 2012.  To prepare enough recipes for a cookbook, the two women, plus some professional and volunteer help, pulled off a three-day crock-a-thon.

"We're crazy," Sparks conceded.

The book publishing process came with challenges that the two women weren't expecting, such as what recipes to include, how they would dress for photo shoots, even what size font type would be.  The publisher wanted a smaller font, the cooks wanted a larger one for easier reading and preparing recipes.

"We had to learn a lot about standing our ground," Marwitz said.

Even though the first cookbook was successful, Sparks and Marwitz decided to self-publish the second edition and schedule their own book signing tours.

The overnight success of the slow cooker recipes didn't come without some stress.  Both women are married and the mother of young children.  They found their normal routines turned topsy-turvy by their new fame and had to think about it before deciding to publish a second cookbook.

But when someone in the audience asked, "Would you do it again?" they didn't hesitate.

"Yes!" they both responded.

Nicole Sparks and Jenna Marwitz of Early, "The Crockin' Girls," are the authors of two cookbooks of recipes for slow cookers, The Crockin' Girls Slow Cookin' Companion and It's Our Crockin' Life.  Both books are available at Texas Star Trading Co., 174 Cypress St.  For more information, go to

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.

Starring: Toni Collette
Summary: A darkly festive tale of a yuletide ghoul, reveals an irreverently twisted side to the holiday.  The horror-comedy tells the story of young Max, who turns his back on Christmas as his dysfunctional family comes together and comically clashes over the holidays.  When they accidentally unleash the wrath of Krampus, an ancient entity from European folklore, all hell breaks loose and beloved holiday icons take on a monstrous life of their own.

Ride Along 2
Starring: Ice Cube
Summary: Friction continues between rookie cop Ben Barber and his seasoned partner (and future brother-in-law) James Payton.  After discovering a mysterious flash drive during an arrest, the pair travels to Miami to hunt down a local drug lord with the help of a savvy detective.

Extreme Prey (Lucas Davenport Series #26)
Author: John Sandford
Summary: After the events in "Gathering Prey," Lucas Davenport finds himself in a very unusual situation - no longer employed by the Minnesota BCA.  His friend, the governor, is just cranking up a presidential campaign, though, and he invites Lucas to come along as part of his campaign staff.  "Should be fun!" he says, and it kind of is - until they find they have a shadow: an armed man intent on killing the governor...and anyone who gets in the way.

Hide Away (Eve Duncan Series #20)
Author: Iris Johansen
Summary: World-famous forensic sculptor Eve Duncan has landed in a well-guarded hospital room in Carmel, California.  But hidden danger looms for Eve, her beloved Joe Quinn, and Cara Delaney, the young girl they've both sworn to protect.  With Cara's enemies on the move, Eve has no choice but to flee the hospital - no matter what the doctors say.  Her protective instincts in full gear, she decides that their best chance of survival is to get out of the country.  She turns to her daughter, Jane MacGuire, for help.

The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Summary: All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love's death.  She doesn't believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she's not so sure anymore.

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, April 25, 2016

Nominations Open for the Ricki Brown Librarian of the Year Award

Former City Librarian Ricki Brown
The Friends of the Abilene Public Library is now offering the community the chance to submit your nominations for the next Ricki Brown Librarian of the Year.  In its third year, this award was previously won in 2014 by Teresa Ellis from Hardin-Simmons University, and in 2015 by Kristy Compton from the Abilene Independent School District.

Now is the time for you to nominate another librarian in the Abilene community to recognize him/her for their outstanding leadership and accomplishment in library science.  Nominations will be accepted through June 15, 2016.  A winner will then be selected by a review committee from the Friends of the Library and the winner will be announced at the West Texas Book Festival's Boots & Books Luncheon hosted in September.
2014 Recipient, Teresa Ellis (Center) - HSU
To nominate a librarian, he/she must:
  • Hold an MLS degree or be a certified school/media specialist
  • Hold a membership in a professional library association
  • Be employed, at the time of selection, in any field of librarianship in Abilene, TX

2015 Recipient, Kristy Compton (Center) - AISD
The nominator will need to answer a series of questions relating to their nominee in detail covering a range of topics such as how the individual encourages reading, demonstrates the value of libraries, enhances library service, promotes a positive climate in the library, advances community relations, as well as highlight a new program or service initiated in the past 18 months.

We hope to receive some great nominations this year and you won't want to miss out on your opportunity to nominate a local librarian you believe is doing an incredible job.

This award was named after Ricki V. Brown, the former City Librarian for the Abilene Public Library system, who passed away in December 2013.

Friday, April 22, 2016

"The Crockin' Girls to Give Talk at Abilene Library" | Abilene Reporter-News

Article Courtesy of Loretta Fulton, Abilene Reporter-News

Nicole Sparks and Jenna Marwitz are stepping back from their hectic book signing tour to spend some time at the Abilene Public Library.

They will be guest speakers for the final Texas Author Series presentation of 2016.  Their program will begin at noon Monday.  Admission is free.  An optional $5 lunch will be served at 11:45AM.  This is one lunch no one will want to miss.

Sparks and Marwitz, better known as "The Crockin' Girls," will talk about their highly successful cookbooks, filled with recipes for slow cookers.  Monday's lunch will be dishes made from some of those recipes.

Monday's presentation will follow three weekend book signings in Dallas and Austin.  And, those signings will be on the heels of many others that the two Early residents have done since It's Our Crockin' Life came out last fall.

"It keeps us busy, that's for sure," Sparks said in a telephone interview.

The cookbook followed the original, The Crockin' Girls' Slow Cookin' Companion, which was published in 2012.  The business actually started with a Facebook Page in 2011, with the two longtime friends sharing their favorite slow cooker recipes.

Now, they are all over social media and have two successful cookbooks to their name, something they never envisioned.

"We never intended it to be a business," Sparks said, but demand was so great that they changed their minds.

Today, the two women cook for their own families as well as sharing recipes with others.  Sparks and her husband have two children, ages 9 and 6.  Marwitz and her husband are the parents of two children, ages 6 and 4.

Both women have a "go-to" recipe among the dozens featured in their cookbooks.  For Sparks, it's French dip sandwiches.  For Marwitz, it's the shredded pork loin.

One questions the two women almost always get asked is whether they ever eat anything other than one of their slow cooker recipes.  Sparks assured that despite all their success and unexpected fame, the two women, and their families, are just like everybody else.

"We do order pizza," she said.

If You Go:

What: Texas Author Series featuring Nicole Sparks and Jenna Marwitz of Early, "The Crockin' Girls".

When: Lunch at 11:45AM, program at noon, Monday. 

Where: Abilene Public Library, 202 Cedar St., second floor auditorium.

Admission: Free; optional lunch, $5, or bring your own.  Recipes from the books will be served.

May'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 May, the featured selection is At Home by Bill Bryson and we invite you to look out for a copy at your library and then attend the book club on Thursday, May 19 at 7:00PM.  For more information, be sure to contact Ann Mount at 325-676-6025.

At Home
Author: Bill Bryson
Summary: With his signature wit, charm, and seemingly limitless knowledge, Bill Bryson takes us on a room-by-room tour through his own house, using each room as a humping off point into the vast history of the domestic artifacts we take for granted.  As he takes us through the history of our modern comforts, Bryson demonstrates that whatever happens in the world eventually ends up in our home, in that paint, the pipes, the pillows, and every item of furniture.  Bryson has one of the liveliest, most inquisitive minds on the planet, and his sheer prose fluency makes this book one of the most entertaining books ever written about private life.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Weekly Events @ Your Library (Apr. 25-30)

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.

Texas Author Series with Nicole Sparks & Jenna Marwitz
Apr. 25 @ Noon
Main Library
202 Cedar St.
PH: 325-676-6025
Don't miss the FINAL Texas Author Series event, which connects you with great authors from across the state of Texas. Hosted over the noon hour, feel free to bring your lunch, or purchase one from the Friends of the Library for $5, drinks provided. At this session, the featured authors will be Nicole Sparks & Jenna Marwitz (Brownwood, TX) whom are the authors of two popular slow cooker cookbooks, "The Crockin' Girls Slow Cooking Companion" and "It's Our Crockin' Life."  Both ladies will be on hand to discuss their cookbooks, because let's face it, for the person on-the-go, slow cooker recipes are terrific. This series is made possible thanks to the Friends of the Abilene Public Library, the West Texas Book Festival, the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council and additional great organizations. Don't miss out, and for additional information, contact us at 325-676-6025.

Tween Time: Book Art
Apr. 25 @ 6:00PM
South Branch
1401 S. Danville Dr.
PH: 325-698-7565
Youth, ages 8-15, are invited to come out to the South Branch Library and join us for a hands-on crafting workshop that's certain to be fun.  We're hosting a program on Book Art, where we will alter books to show you how to transform them into works of art.  Everyone who attends will be able to leave home with something amazing, and we'll supply all the materials you'll need in order to fashion your own...all you need to bring is your creativity.  Don't pass up on this fun monthly workshop at your South Branch.

Introduction to QuickBooks
Apr. 25 @ 6:30PM
Main Library
202 Cedar St.
PH: 325-676-6025
Gayla Fullerton, CPA, owner of Gayla Fullerton CPA in Abilene, will present an introductory workshop on the recordkeeping and accounting software QuickBooks Online and Desktop.

Toddler Time with a Twist
Apr. 26 @ 10:45AM
Mockinbird Branch
1326 N. Mockingbird Ln.
PH: 325-437-7323
Kids are invited to join in on this special storytime activity as part of the Lone Star Dia activities.  Designed for toddlers, storytimes are a great time to bond with your children.  Join us for this fun session as we sing songs, read short books, and learn rhymes with a Spanish flare.  This event will be suitable for English and Spanish speakers alike.

Make & Take: Choose Your Craft
Apr. 26 @ 4:00PM
South Branch
1401 S. Danville Dr.
PH: 325-698-7565
Kids of all ages are invited to join us for the final Make & Take crafting session of the month at your library. For the final session, we're hosting a "Choose Your Craft" day where we'll offer a variety of craft projects for you to choose the one you want to do.  That's right.  We're putting the choice in your hands.  Make one craft, or make two, and we'll supply all the materials and instructions you'll need.  Then when you're done, it will be the perfect time to head to the stacks to look for some great books to checkout.  Don't miss out on the fun. 

Feed Your Brain
Apr. 26 @ 6:30PM 
Main Library
202 Cedar St.
PH: 325-676-6025
If your brain is starved for better nutrition, you may find it hard to concentrate or focus, feel irritable or moody for no discernible reason, or suffer from periodic brain fog. This class can help, as you learn the secrets of a better brain at any age from nutrition consultant Dessire Armstrong with Natural Food Grocers.

Super Storytime: Works of Eric Carle
Apr. 27 @ 10:45AM
South Branch
1401 S. Danville Dr.
PH: 325-698-7565
Kids of all ages are invited to join us for an exciting morning Super Storytime event, where we'll be celebrating the works of author/illustrator Eric Carle.  The man behind such wonderful books including "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," "Little Cloud," and many others will be at the center of this event as we share his great stories, sing songs, and even make some crafts inspired by his work.  It's the perfect way to spend a morning at your library.

Teen Time: Paper Silhouettes
Apr. 27 @ 4:00PM 
South Branch
1401 S. Danville Dr.
PH: 325-698-7565
Don't miss the next Teen Time after school event at your South Branch Library, where we'll be hosting a fun craft workshop to get local teens involved in.  For this session, we're taking ordinary paper (in various colors) and showing you how to create art from them through making incredible looking silhouettes.  We'll supply all the materials you'll need, so come out, have fun, make new friends, and see what you can make at your library this afternoon. 

Super Storytime: Bilingual Celebration
Apr. 28 @ 10:45AM
Mockingbird Branch
1326 N. Mockingbird Ln.
PH: 325-437-7323Kids are invited to join in on this special storytime activity as part of the Lone Star Dia activities.  Designed for kids of all ages, storytimes are a great time to bond with your children.  Join us for this fun session as we sing songs, read short books, and learn rhymes with a Spanish flare.  This event will be suitable for English and Spanish speakers alike, and for additional information.

Stories in the Park: Storytime Favorites
Apr. 28 @ 3:00PM
Redbud Park
S. 32nd & S. Willis
PH: 325-698-7565
Join us for the next session of the Stories in the Park program where children's staff from your South Branch Library will hit the road and bring storytime session to your local park.  For this session, the theme will be "Storytime Favorites" as we'll be sharing some of ours for kids to enjoy.  Designed for all ages, it's the perfect way to spend an afternoon.  Not only will you be at the park, listening to great stories, singing, and doing other fun activities with us, but once we're done, you can then head off to the playground for even more playing.  Don't miss out on this special series of events, hosted each year from Spring Break through July.

Collecting Commas Writing Club
Apr. 28 @ 4:30PM
Main Library
202 Cedar St.
PH: 325-676-6067
If you're between the ages of 10-17, and you have a passion for writing, don't pass up on your chance to be a part of our weekly writing club at your library.  Hone your creative writing skills with your peers as we engage in a variety of writing prompts and activities that will have us all having fun, while writing too.  There's no need to register, simply stop by and check out a session.

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

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Tremain's Book Corner: "The Scarlet Gospels" by Clive Barker

The Scarlet Gospels
Author: Clive Barker
Reviewed By: Tremain Jackson, South Branch Manager
Personal Rating: 4 Stars

Book Summary: This novel takes readers back many years to the early days of two of Barker's most iconic characters in a battle of good and evil as old as time: The long beleaguered detective Harry D'Amour, investigator of all supernatural, magical, and malevolent crimes faces off against his formidable, and intensely evil rival, Pinhead, the Priest of Hell.  Barker devotees have been waiting for this book with bated breath for years, and it's everything they've begged for and more.  Bloody, terrifying, and brilliantly complex, fans and newcomers alike will not be disappointed by the epic, visionary tale.  Barker's horror will make your worst nightmares seem like bedtime stories.  The Gospels are coming.  Are you ready? 

Personal Review: I was ecstatic when I learned there was going to be another entry from the mind of the man who gave us the character of Pinhead, probably best known for being portrayed in the Hellraiser films.  With the franchise having started in the late 80's, I was admittedly too young to be watching them (especially based on content alone at the ripe age of 10); however, I've always been a fan of horror and Barker has always been able to create a truly warped, deranged, and morbid world that had me completely fascinated.

So again, when another book was being released and following the original characters, I was going to have to check it out, and I wasn't disappointed.  But let me provide a disclaimer from the start.  This book will not be a read for everyone based on the subject matter, adult content, gore, etc.  You've been warned.

For those of you8 willing to dive into Barker's world of the macabre, then I don't think you'll be disappointed.  In this entry, D'Amour is back and takes a trip to hell to rescue a friend from Pinhead, referred to as the Hell Priest because he doesn't like the name Pinhead.  So begins the tale that will take you into the Hell Priest's world, luring Harry and his band of followers, referred to as Harrowers, deep into his playground.  Plus, you do have the return of the puzzle boxes (Lemarchand's Boxes), which I will admit I really wanted one as a kid.  But of course I certainly wouldn't want them to do what they were meant to do in the books.  I'm not that far out there.

One of the more compelling parts of the first novella, "The Hellbound Heart" were the Cenobites, and Pinhead takes the second lead in this story, and he's certainly up to no good in what may lead to unpredictable and potentially catastrophic consequences.  Plus, Barker's conceptualized idea of hell in this book was truly one of the strongest features of the story, becoming very much a character in and of itself.  It's still the "hell" created by Lucifer, but Barker has given it his own spin with the world-building.  Barker's description of Pinhead's "kingdom" was superb, describing sights, creatures, and events that were truly gruesome, which I liked because it's certainly not a place to add to your vacation list.

The novel was fast-paced, entertaining (in a macabre way), and certainly puts a spotlight on Barker's flair for setting scenes with his elaborate descriptions that will leave your cringing.  On one hand, you have to wonder, as the reader, what in the world possessed Harry that he would even think he could take on Pinhead on his own turf?  Talk about being outmatched and out of your league, and that's where he finds himself throughout most of the novel.  Pinhead has ascended in hell, and when you're in his backyard, you've already drawn the short straw.

It sounds like I really enjoyed it right?  I did.  Then why didn't it get a higher rating?  I'll tell you.  Barker has been teasing this entry for the better part of 20 years, providing fans with snippets of what he was working on.  At one point, the story was twice as long as the published version, so much was edited and cut out.  For me, I would have enjoyed a longer and more stylized epic journey through the world, and I just didn't get it.  What I did get was great, but I wanted even more.  So if the length is my only real reason for knocking the rating down, that's not really that bad after all.

Again, I will state that this book is not going to be for's a niche genre in horror that is very adult in content and graphic.  But if that doesn't bother you, then open that puzzle box of your mind, step into the library, and checkout a copy of this book.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

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 some of the more popular titles being released today.

The Revenant
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio
Summary: Inspired by true events, an expedition of the uncharted American wilderness, legendary explorer Hugh Glass is brutally attacked by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team.  In a quest to survive, Glass endures unimaginable grief as well as the betrayal of his confidant John Fitzgerald.  Guided by sheer will and the love of his family, Glass must navigate a vicious winter in a relentless pursuit to live and find redemption.

Lady in the Van
Starring: Maggie Smith
Summary: The film tells the true story of the relationship between Alan Bennett and the singular Miss Shepherd, a woman of uncertain origins who 'temporarily' parked her van in Bennett's London driveway and proceeded to live there for fifteen years.

Fifty Shades of Black
Starring: Marlon Wayans
Summary: This spook from the Wayans brothers parodies the ultra-popular novel/film series Fifty Shades of Grey.

The Last Mile (Amos Decker Series #2)
Author: David Baldacci
Summary: Convicted murderer Melvin Mars is counting down the last hours before his execution - for the violent killing of his parents 20 years earlier - when he's granted an unexpected reprieve.  Another man has confessed to the crime.  Amos Decker, newly hired on an FBI special task force, takes an interest in Mars' case after discovering the striking similarities to his own life: Both men were talented football players with promising careers cut short by tragedy.  Both men's families were brutally murdered.  And in both cases, another suspect came forward, years after the killing, to confess the crime.  A suspect who may or may not have been telling the truth.  The confession has the potential to make Melvin Mars - guilty or not - a free man.  Who wants Mars out of prison?  And why now?

'Til Death Do Us Part
Author: Amanda Quick
Summary: Calista operates an exclusive "introduction" agency in Victorian London, catering to respectable ladies and gentlemen who find themselves alone in the world.  But now, a dangerously obsessed individual has begun sending her trinkets and gifts suitable only for those in deepest mourning - a black mirror, a funeral wreath, a ring set with black jet stone.  Each is engraved with her initials.  Desperate for help and fearing that the police will be of no assistance, Calista turns to Trent, a reclusive author of popular crime novels.  Believing that Calista may be taking advantage of his lonely sister, who has become one of her clients, Trent doesn't trust her.  Scarred by his past, he's learned to keep his emotions at bay, even as an instant attraction threatens his resolve.

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, April 18, 2016

Flash Drives Now Available @ Your Library

Have you ever been in a mad rush to save your documents before the time runs out on your computer session?  Have you created a document you need to save but left your portable drive at home?  Your Abilene Public Library can assist you as we now offer flash drives for sale to the public.  It's the easiest way to $AVE while you SAVE as we're selling each for $5.00 (tax included).  Simply visit one of the staff service desks at each location to purchase one while supplies last.
Each flash drive will hold 2GB worth of data and may be used for saving documents on our lab PC's and using on our photocopiers to scan and save documents.  We've recognized that flash drives are always needed and now we have the opportunity to accommodate our patrons.

A limited supply will be available for purchase at all library locations.  If deemed a popular item, we can look into acquiring more to make them readily available to anyone interested.  In the future, we hope to expand in offering additional frequently requested items so your library may continue to meet the needs of the community.

If you have any questions, please feel free to Contact Me.

"Mockingbird Library to Celebrate 'Dia' Week with Several Programs" | @ Your Library Article

Lone Star "Dia" week is just around the corner!  "Dia" week sprang from a celebration called "El Dia de los Ninos" (Day of the Child) which originated in Mexico in 1925.  The idea was enhanced in 1996 by famed educator Pat Mora with the addition of a literacy element and spread to the United States as "El Dia de los Ninos, El Dia de los Libros" (Children's Day / Book Day).  The celebration has grown into a national, multilingual, multicultural initiative honoring and celebrating all children, and promoting literacy.

The Mockingbird Branch Library will be joining in the celebration with several programs.  On Saturday, April 23 at 2:30PM you can enjoy a free family movie about a couple of kids who have to save their secret agent parents by becoming spies.  For the younger set, Toddler Time at 10:45AM on Tuesday, April 26 and Super Storytime on Thursday, April 28 at 10:45AM will both feature Spanish inspired stories, songs, and activities.

"Dia" honors all cultures and promotes understanding through reading.  It also introduces families to community resources they may have been unaware of.  As our world grows smaller and more people travel and immigrate all over the globe, it has become clear that children who are exposed to different cultures and languages are better equipped to become global citizens.  There are over 6,800 languages spoken in the world.  Only 5% of the world speaks English.  Studies show that a bilingual brain is more efficient, flexible, and can focus on important things while ignoring distractions.  A person is much more capable of learning languages at a young age and the library has material that you can use to develop that skill.

If you are interested in exploring Spanish with your child, the Mockingbird Branch has a nice selection of juvenile Spanish bilingual books.  Studies have shown the many benefits of reading aloud to children.  In addition to promoting bonding, it has been shown to reduce anxiety and build coping skills.  Reading aloud also helps kids form a positive association with books and can instill a lifelong curiosity for learning.

You might also want to take a look at the wonderful electronic resource available on our website called TumbleBooks.  It has animated, picture books you can read aloud to your child or have the program read to them.  The titles are available in both Spanishg and French.  Both options would be a fun way to celebrate "Dia" in your home.

Studies have shown that learning to read at an early age, can greatly improve the outcome and overall quality of a child's entire life, their physical and mental health, as well as their socioeconomic well-being.  We hope you will drop by the Mockingbird Branch in April to help us celebrate "Dia," and we will be happy to recommend age appropriate material.  After the celebration is over, we hope you continue to read to your children to your children and show them the possibilities in their futures.

Article Contributed by Debra Arnold-Higgins, Library Assistant at the Mockingbird Branch Library

Friday, April 15, 2016

Lib-Con Highlights: Become a Vendor

It's week three in our coverage of Lib-Con 2016, coming your way May 2-7, and we've discussed our contests, gaming, and crafts.  In this entry, we're telling you about what it takes to be a vendor.  With each year that passes, we're increasing in the number of outside organizations being represented at Lib-Con.
If you have a desire to be a vendor on the final day of Lib-Con (Saturday, May 7), you're invited to register and join us in the festivities.  Being a vendor at Lib-Con will afford you with the opportunity to show off your products and services during the busiest day of Lib-Con, to a massive group of hundreds upon hundreds of guests.

2015 Vendor
To participate as a vendor, you will need to complete a Vendor Registration Form and submit it to Lib-Con Coordinator Ann Mount.  The cost to attend will be $10.00.  Plus, if you wish to sell products, 5% of your booth's proceeds will go to the Friends of the Abilene Public Library, payable before leaving the vendor area for the day.

Even if you're not selling products, you may also register to setup an informational booth about your business, organization, or club.  The same Vendor Policies and fees will apply, and it will allow you to reach out to all of our guests at Lib-Con.

For more information regarding what it takes to be a vendor, visit our Lib-Con Vendor Page online, or contact coordinator Ann Mount at 325-676-6025.  We hope to see you there.

New York Times Bestsellers Top 5 (Week of Apr. 17)

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: As Time Goes By
Author: Mary Higgins Clark
Position Last Week: n/a
Weeks On List: 1
Call Number: M CLARK
Summary: Secrets emerge when a television journalist searching for her birth mother covers the trial of the widow of a wealthy doctor.

#2: The Beast
Author: J.R. Ward
Position Last Week: n/a
Weeks On List: 1
Call Number: SF WARD
Summary: Book 14 of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

#3: The Nest
Author: Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
Position Last Week: 2
Weeks On List: 3
Call Number: F SWEENEY
Summary: Siblings in a dysfunctional New York family must grapple with a reduced inheritance.

#4: Fool Me Once
Author: Harlan Coben
Position Last Week: 1
Weeks On List: 3
Call Number: M COBEN
Summary: A retired Army helicopter pilot faces combat-related nightmares and mysteries concerning the deaths of her husband and sister.

#5: The 14th Colony
Author: Steve Berry
Position Last Week: n/a
Weeks On List: 1
Call Number: F BERRY
Summary: The covert operative Cotton Malone must thwart an agent loyal to the former Soviet Union.

Hardcover Nonfiction Top 5

#1: The Rainbow Comes and Goes
Author: Anderson Cooper
Position Last Week: n/a
Weeks On List: 1
Call Number: 070.92 COO
Summary: Mother and son discuss their relationship and difficult family history.

#2: The Sleep Revolution
Author: Arianna Huffington
Position Last Week: n/a
Weeks On List: 1
Call Number: 613.794 HUF
Summary: What scientific research reveals about the dangers of sleep deprivation, and tips for achieving better sleep habits.  By the founder of The Huffington Post.

#3: The Third Wave
Author: Steve Case
Position Last Week: n/a
Weeks On List: 1
Call Number: NOT HOUSED
Summary: In the current era, entrepreneurs will use technology to revolutionize various sectors of the economy.

#4: When Breath Becomes Air
Author: Paul Kalanithi
Position Last Week: 1
Weeks On List: 13
Call Number: 92 KALANITHI
Summary: A memoir by a physician who received a diagnosis of Stage IV lung cancer at the age of 36.

#5: Becoming Grandma
Author: Lesley Stahl
Position Last Week: n/a
Weeks On List: 1
Call Number: 306.874 STA
Summary: The reporter investigates how "grandmothering" transforms a woman's life.

Look for these titles at your Abilene Public Library and discovery 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.