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.