The World of Castle Waiting

jacket-aspxCastle Waiting by Linda Medley is a graphic novel in two volumes that depicts a world where horses walk upright and wield swords. A world of ghosts and amulets and curses. And yet, a world of  everyday life that deals with such things as the logistics of cooking for a crowd, doing the laundry, and whether it’s more important for underwear to be functional or interesting.

And through it all, one plucky heroine named Jain travels in search of the legendary Castle Waiting, a sanctuary for anyone who needs it. The characters are wonderful and no one bats an eye at any being, no matter how different: talking storks, annoying sprites, bearded ladies, the mentally unstable, the warriors are all taken in stride and regarded with compassion and a touch of humor.

A small demon  patrols the neighborhood around Castle Waiting looking for souls to corrupt. Sprites infest the castle walls. A lion with wings watches silently and mysteriously, sometimes from the roof and sometimes from the nearby woods. And Jain, who has spent months on the road, arrives just in time for the birth of her baby, whose father is as much of a mystery as everything else in the castle.

castleMeticulously drawn and by turns touching, hilarious, and heartbreaking, this story sucked me right in. With a deft hand,  Medley strews literary references throughout the story and skewers old fairy tales. One reading simply is not sufficient. Only through multiple readings will you be able to catch all the allusions and details. Each panel not only features the major characters but a wealth of of background action. (Watch for the sprites stealing things while no one notices.) The architectural detail of the castle made my wanna-be architect heart beat faster.

This is not a utopian story. People die. There are thieves, baby-nappers, and violence. Jain starts her journey by escaping from an abusive husband. Yet, in a way, Castle Waiting is a utopia. Bickering happens and personalities clash, but underneath it all there is an unquestioning acceptance of everyone.

It seems like a wonderful place to be. It is just quirky enough for my taste and there are enough adventures to keep boredom at bay. The characters bowl in the castle halls. They eat Turkish Delight. They dye their hair red and hold impromptu tea parties.  And each one has a story that is slowly revealed though the (so far) two volumes.

Jain Solander from the graphic novel Castle Waiting. Artist: Linda Medley.

From Castle Waiting, Vol. 1. Copyright Linda Medley.

Did I mention that Castle Waiting has a library complete with a ghost? I want to go live there.

Take a look at other Graphic Novels available at the Cheshire Library.

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Dark Justice

       4810718-7340774645-the-b_Arl6x9k I don’t read comic books; the drawings v. words are too visually distracting for me. The ones I hold tight in my file cabinet you’ve probably never heard of. But I love Batman. Adam West Batman. Super Friends Batman. Keaton, Clooney, Kilmer, Bale, I like them all. And yes, I had no problem with Affleck’s performance. Nine Batman films have raked in a combined profit of more than $2.2 Billion – no small change. I like Wonder Woman, and Spiderman, and don’t get me started on how much I love the Avengers.

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But I don’t like Superman. Never did. My favorite would be Super Friends Superman, and after that it’s Chris Reeve or nothing. Perhaps he’s too squeaky-clean – far more than Captain America, and too powerful. Krypton is one of the rarest gases, one part per million of our atmosphere. You would have to sift an awful lot of air to gain enough Krypton to affect him. Barring Lex Luthor, Superman is more or less invincible, and no one likes a prissy Lawful Good (this is the same problem fought in the X-Men series, Watchmen, and Captain America: Civil War). What good is a hero who has no faults and can’t be harmed?

51omO8G3K-L._AC_US160_Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice – due on DVD July 16 – didn’t grab me from the start, but I went to see it because – well, Batman. If you haven’t seen the last reboot of the Superman franchise, Man of Steel, be prepared for confusion, for BvS takes up right where Man of Steel left off. Batman is mighty ticked at Superman for all the damage he wrought in lives and property, and takes it upon himself to curtail Superman in a surge of animosity that seems to come out of nowhere. Batman’s good for a simmering revenge, not a sudden “You need to be taken down, I don’t like you” petty vindictiveness. Batman, a mere mortal with cool toys, tries to take down a superbeing who cannot be stopped. Needless to say, it does not go well.

Batman v. Superman seems lost in its own purpose. It’s a fair Batman film, a wooden and flat Superman film (Spider-Man has more lines in Civil War than Superman did in BvS), and if Batman-V-Superman-Zack-Snyder-Trinitythere’s any shining hero here, it’s Wonder Woman. If anything, it’s merely a clunky prequel to 2017’s Wonder Woman movie. In fact, you probably could have cut the whole rivalry down to 30 minutes, then began the Wonder Woman movie, and had a much better film.

My biggest gripe with the film, writing and directing aside, is that Batman breaks character. Guns are not Batman’s forte. Batman does not carry them, Batman does not shoot them. Batman is about outsmarting the villain and bringing them TO justice, not carrying it out himself. Batman is the thinking man’s hero. Batman never even kills the Joker. But here’s  Batman, shooting and killing like Rambo. That was my breaking point. And it is quite established that Batman is well-versed in martial arts; Batman’s moves in BvS are poor at best; slow and unconvincing.

batman-vs-superman-dawn-of-justice-movieIf you hunt for it, there are enough good bits to make the film worthwhile; all the Wonder Woman scenes among them. It is certainly nowhere near the abysmal level of 1992’s Batman Returns, with Danny DeVito as a deformed demented Penguin – surely the lowpoint of his career. Forbes magazine nails the issues with the film quite nicely here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2016/05/09/captain-america-civil-war-shows-exactly-why-batman-v-superman-failed/#6dda5e6446bb.

If you really love the superhero genre, then by all means watch it. There are far worse superhero films out there – Green Lantern and Eric Bana/ Incredible Hulk (2003) come fast to mind. But if you really want to see superheroes eating their own and winning at it, wait for Captain America: Civil War.

Get up to Speed on Graphic Novels

Graphic novels are often put down or considered less than traditional books. However, the artistry and creative storytelling that is included in quality graphic novels is simply amazing.

I have to say that I have always loved graphic novels, and both the quality and quantity of available works seems to be increasing. Classic works, popular fiction, and new ideas are all being made into graphic novels at a pace I simply cannot keep up with. Here are some of the best, new, graphic novels available in our adult and young adult collections bestgn1that I would recommend. Keep in mind that if you do not see the titles you are hoping for in our physical collection we have even more available digitally. You could join my husband in reading through a variety of great graphic novels available through Hoopla!

Ms. Marvel. 1, No Normal by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona
Kamala Khan, a Pakistani-American girl from Jersey City who lives bestgn3a conservative Muslim lifestyle with her family, suddenly acquires superhuman powers and, despite the pressures of school and home, tries to use her abilities to help her community.

March. Book One and March. Book Two by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell
A first-hand account of the author’s lifelong struggle for civil and bestgn5human rights spans his youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., and the birth of the Nashville Student Movement.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Lord Blackheart, a villain with a vendetta, and his sidekick, Nimona, an impulsive young shapeshifter, must prove to the kingdom that Sir Goldenloin and the Institution of Law bestgn4Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.

Lumberjanes. Volume one, Beware the Kitten Holy written by Noelle Stevenson & Grace Ellis
Best friends Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley spend a fun summer at Lumberjane scout camp where they encounter yetis, three-eyed wolves, and giant falcons while solving a mystery that holds the fate of the world in the bestgn6balance.

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua
Presents an alternate history in which Charles Babbage and Ada, Countess of Lovelace, build the “Difference Engine” and use it to explore the wilder realms of mathematics and fight crime for the sake of both London and science.

bestgnbottomMore graphic novels that are must reads for anyone remotely interested include: The Sandman: Overture by Neil Gaiman, J.H. Williams III, Dave Stewart, Todd Klein,  The Sculptor by Scott McCloud, Rat Queens. Volume One, Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebet, Roc Upchurch, Black Science. Volume 1, How to Fall Forever by Rick Remender, Matteo Scalera, Pretty Deadly. Volume One, The Shrike by Kelly Sue Deconnick, Emma Rios, The Wake by Scott Snyder, Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky, Becka Kinzie, Christopher Sebela, Attack on Titan. 1, The bestgn2Desperate battle Begins! by Hajime Isayama, translated and adapted by Sheldon Drzka, and Saga. Volume 1  by Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples.

Hidden Treasures in the Library Lobby

When you walk into the Cheshire Public Library you enter the main floor lobby. This large area is home to CD’s, DVD’s, Audiobooks, adult fiction, and new books. There are also a variety of displays, the public catalogs, the circulation desk, and the Friends book sale and donation area. Most regular visitors to the library are aware of their favorite areas, and browse those areas comfortably. However, like in the children’s room there are some hidden treasures that often get over looked and deserve some attention.

IMG_3110Science Fiction
I have always been a big fan of science fiction and fantasy, and love helping people discover new authors and series to explore. Unfortunately, most people miss our Science Fiction shelving area entirely. As with our mystery books, they are shelved separately from the rest of the fiction. You can see which area any adult (or children’s) book is shelved in by reading the call number. Adult fiction call numbers will all start with where they are shelved; Fiction, Mystery, or IMG_3116Science Fiction. The mysteries are easy to find, since they are shelved right after the regular fiction. However, the Science Fiction materials are shelved on the wall near the fiction between the audiobooks and classic movies.

Graphic Novels
Graphic novels are not just for children and teens. Take for example the popularity of The Walking Dead. Our selection of graphic novels in the lobby is not huge, but it is high IMG_3111quality and well worth taking a look at. Since it is a fairly small collection it might be easy to over look, but it is not hard to find or to browse if you are interested. The collection is housed on the endcap of the New Biography and Nonfiction shelf, facing the windows and DVD’s. If you like what you see, but are looking for even more graphic novels, do not be afraid to explore the large selection in the Teen’s Room!IMG_3113

Categorized DVD’s
Most regular visitors know where to find the DVD’s they enjoy most, and where our Quick Flick, New, regular, and Blu-Ray movies are each shelved. However, there are a few groups of films that are shelved separately. We have labeled  these disks and changed their call numbers to IMG_3112match these special areas, but infrequent movie borrowers might not know about these little nooks and crannies. Classic movies are labeled with a red Classics label and are shelved on a slat-wall display on the wall by the fiction books. Comedy movies have an orange Comedy label and shelved in the next slat- wall display. On the same wall, in the build in bookcase between those two IMG_3114slat-wall displays, you can find the television show box sets which have a bright pink TV label on them.  If you keep following that wall to the corner you will find the Family Films (with a green label), and in the next bookcase after a window you can find the non-fiction films (classed by number) and the Foreign Films which have a yellow Foreign sticker on them.IMG_3115

Lost And Found
While not a part of our library collection, it is an often asked for and searched for item. Small or valuable items (wallets, phones, jewelry, etc) that have been turned into library staff stay at that service desk for a time and then are tucked away in a safe until claimed. However, items like coats, mittens, notebooks, umbrellas, and so on are kept at the IMG_3117service desk of the area they were found in for a few hours and are then placed in our Lost and Found bin. This is located between the Friend’s donation area and the Audiobook collection.

Do not forget about the variety of ever changing displays. Any of our items that are on these displays can be checked out. If you are still unsure where to find what you are looking for swing by the Circulation desk and we would be glad to help you!

Happy Birthday to Neil Gaiman! (November 10)

gaimanhimselfAs of November 10, 2015 Neil Gaiman is 55 years old. He is a supporter of libraries, the arts, and is everything that this librarian could want in an author. Neil is the author of books from a wide range of genre’s, and for every age group. His body of work is extensive, and includes many groundbreaking volumes. He is also the father of three children from his first marriage, now grown adults, and a new baby just born on September 16 with his wife Amanda Palmer who is a singer, song writer, performance artist, and author. To make him even cooler in my eyes, he is also good friends with singer/songwriter Tori Amos and godfather of her daughter. I am admittedly a bit of a fangirl.

gaiman5Gaiman began his writing career in England as a journalist. His first book was a Duran Duran biography that took him three months to write, and his second was a biography of Douglas Adams, Don’t Panic: The Official Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Companion. Soon afterward he collaborated or creating in graphic novels such as Violent Cases, Black Orchid, and Sandman. Over the years he has added picturebooks, children’s fiction, adult fiction, television, film, and theater to his body of work. This includes writing for one of my favorite shows, Doctor Who. He also does the narration for most, if not all, of the audiobook versions of his work.

Neil and his works have won many nominations and awards over the year. A few of the awards include: Kurt Vonnegut Jr Award For Literature, Boston Public Library Literary Lights For Children, CBLDF Defender of Liberty, The “Galaxy” Award (China) for Most Popular Foreign Author, Horn Book Honors, Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Books, ALA Booklist Editors’ Choice: Books for Youth, Hugo Award, IndieBound Award, and many, many more.

gaiman1Here is a sampling of his works, though far from comprehensive. They are in no particular order.
Picturebooks:
Chu’s Day
Chu’s First Day of School
Chu’s Day at the Beach
The Wolves in the Walls
Blueberry Girl
Crazy Hairgaiman2
Instructions: Everything you’ll Need to Know on your Journey

Children’s and Young Adult Books:
Fortunately, the Milk
M is for Magic
The Graveyard Book
Coraline
Hansel & Gretel: a Toon Graphic
Odd and the Frost Giants
Interworld
The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountainsgaiman3
The Books of Magic
Marvel 1602

Adult Books:
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
The Make Good Art Speech
Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbancesgaiman4
Anansi Boys
American Gods
Stardust
Good Omens
Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions
Neil Gaiman’s Lady Justice. Vol. 1