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Showing posts from December, 2016

Farewells of 2016

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One fairly consistent news trend for 2016 was the astonishing run of celebrity deaths, a trend that did not let up in the final week of the year with the passing of pop musician George Michael and screen icons Carrie Fisher and her mother, Debbie Reynolds. The trio join the likes of David Bowie, Harper Lee and Gene Wilder on a list of 118 farewells from 2016 (as of December 30th) that CNN had posted on their website. While they may be gone, their work lives on and can be found in the collection of the Mercer County Library System.
George Michael died on Christmas day, which almost seems fitting considering one of his best-known hits is the holiday song “Last Christmas,” which he recorded with Andrew Ridgeley as a member of the pop duo Wham! The song has become a modern classic and can often be heard on TV, in commercials, on most shopping mall holiday playlists and on compilation albums such as Now That’s What I Call Merry Christmas! Like most of Wham!’s hits, Michael’s earlier sol…

Ghosts of Christmases Past

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A hush falls around the large kitchen fireplace as Great-Grandmother, comfortable in the ancient arm chair by the hearth, puts aside her accustomed knitting. The children, sitting at her feet, munching apples and cracking nuts, poke each other into silence. Even the adults, sitting in an assortment of chairs taken from the living room and the dining room to add to the hard ones in the kitchen, learn forward in anticipation, hot toddies in hand.

Great-Grandmother looks around her rapt audience, and smiles softly, perhaps remembering long ago days when she had sat before this very fire, when the house consisted of only two rooms and a loft, with the same eager anticipation, and begins her tale. “Once, when I was a little girl, no older than Polly there, my old uncle Silas told me the story of his father, who came from the woods on this very night, over a hundred years ago, where he had been looking for the lost milk cow. It was long after midnight and his family had been waiting hours f…

Young Adult Fiction: Spotlight on Strong, Female Characters

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As the end of the year approaches, I have been looking back on all of the young adult books I have read this year and noticed a prominent theme amongst them: strong female characters. Young adult literature is dominated by books featuring female protagonists, and a majority of young adult fiction is written by women. So what makes this year different when so many stories contain a female lead?

Although the plot and setting of each novel may be vastly different, each features a young woman seeking her true identity, defying societal norms, and challenging stereotypes. These leading ladies are not just feisty go-getters; they speak about and represent larger social issues young women face today.
The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge (Historical Fiction)
Faith, a teenager living in nineteenth century England, is fascinated with science and the natural world—a subject which women are not encouraged to pursue. When Faith discovers in her father’s journals a tale of a tree that can reveal the tru…

Gamache’s Footsteps

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Last year when my husband suggested going to Quebec for summer vacation, I agreed under one condition—that we stay a few days in the Eastern Townships. I wanted to visit the quaint towns, bike and enjoy the local cuisine, especially the pastries, poutine and duck confit. Mostly though, I wanted to follow some of the trail of Louise Penny’s mysteries.

Louise Penny, a Canadian mystery writer who lives in Knowleton, Quebec (located about 65 miles southeast of Montreal), writes books that take place in and around a small village called Three Pines. This town does not actually exist—she says it is a “state of mind”—but Penny does use local places as inspiration for some of her books. I started reading her books when my son was in college and had to read one for his mystery writers class. I thought I would read it so we could share our thoughts on the book. I fell in love with the quaint village, its quirky inhabitants, and main character Inspector Armand Gamache, Chief of homicide of …

Ready, Set, SHOP!!!

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With the holiday season fast approaching, many of us will begin to panic about the sheer amount of gifts we need to purchase or make for family and friends. There are numerous websites and commercials advising us on exactly what to buy. The new, fantastically popular toy MUST be bought for our kids in order to fulfill our parental obligations. An expensive little bauble is the perfect gift for that special female in your life. There are numerous advertisements out there telling us to buy this product or that item otherwise our holiday wish list is lacking in some way.

So here are my two cents. Relax and breathe. One option for gifting is to make homemade treats like cookies or cakes. This can be time consuming, but rewarding. If you have the time, this is definitely the way to go. It makes everyone feel really special that someone out there took the time and energy to create a present specifically with them in mind. I have been given homemade cookies, cakes, savory treats, dec…

Retired Reference

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A few days ago, I was looking over the Hopewell Branch reference collection with a coworker. The collection has decreased in size over the years—partly because of online resources and databases and partly because we have found that circulating some items that were traditionally library-use-only better serves the community. I reminisced about the “old days” of purchasing imposing multi-volume sets of books on a wide variety of subjects, contrasting that with today’s leaner, focused collection. In the midst of it all, I thought about three books that I had referred to often when answering patrons’ questions and how all were available now for free online: the CIA World Factbook, the Statistical Abstract of the United States, and the Occupational Outlook Handbook. Each contains a wealth of interesting information.

The CIA World Factbook is a one stop shop for country information. I have referred to it often to answer my own questions, as well as library patrons’, about different areas…

Books to Get You Thinking Holiday Edition II

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It is December and now we are down to the wire—time to make sure we have checked off everyone on our list for gift-giving! If you are still stressed about what to get, just hurry in to a local book store, where a feast of wonderful titles, both old and new, awaits you! And to help you zoom in on just the right title, we follow up last month’s column, which highlighted nonfiction and biography books, with fiction of different shades and genres for gift-giving. The holidays are also the perfect time for exploring new recipes for the kitchen and entertaining ideas, and we have some exciting new cookbooks on our list as well! From all of us at the Mercer County Library, have a wondrous and joyous holiday season!
Fiction Miller’s Valley by Anna Quindlen
A powerful narrative centered around the theme of home and family, about growing up and finding one’s place in the world. The principal character is Mimi Miller, who grew up with her parents and two brothers on a small farm in Miller’s Valle…

Hot This Holiday

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Time for our annual wrap-up of the hottest trends in tech gift giving.
Retro Video Game Systems Nostalgia has hit children of the 1980s and 1990s as two of the hottest items this year are the Nintendo NES Classic Edition, which comes preloaded with 30 games that originally hit store shelves in the mid-80s. Classic games such as Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros., Pac-Man, and The Legend of Zelda are included in the lineup. The unit hooks up to a TV via an HDMI cable for quick installation.

For fans of Sonic the Hedgehog and all other things Sega, there is also a Sega version that is available as both a plug and play unit that can be hooked up to a TV or as a portable. The Sega Mega Drive and Ultimate Portable are preloaded with 80 games. In addition to most of the Sonic titles, game fans will find some Golden Axe, Phantasy Star and Mortal Kombat included with arcade classics such as Air Hockey, Chess, and Whack-A-Wolf.

The earliest gamers might be interested in the latest edition of …

Wedding Planning: Say "I Do!" to the Library (Including Resources for Kids)

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Weddings are wonderful, special occasions that leave lasting and beautiful memories… but they can also be downright stressful to plan! Between choosing a location, a reception venue, décor, favors, music, food, photographers/videographers, outfits, invites, financial planning, and gift registries, there are a lot of details involved. When you add family and friend dynamics—Whom to invite? Whom to include in the wedding party? How will they handle it (especially young kids)? Who should sit next to whom on the seating chart to avoid drama?—it adds yet another layer of complication. As a newlywed myself (September 10, 2016), these things are still fresh in my mind! However, there are many good resources available to help overcome these hurdles. Here, I will share with you the tools I used as well as review some of the many resources the library has to offer.
General Planning Guides Books, books, books! We have lots in our 392.5 and 392.54 sections. Some examples are:
Bridal Bargains: …