Your Library Staff at Home- RiverCon! 2020 Excitement

As much as I have enjoyed spending time at home with my cats, husband, and favorite yoga pants, I am so stoked about spending some time back in the library beginning next week! Library staff is slowly returning to the library to bring our amazing community some great programming, materials, and more to enjoy this summer! In particular, I am brimming with excitement for RiverCon! That is why there are so many exclamation points already in this post.

If you are into pop culture, comics books, graphic novels, and manga you don’t want to miss this celebration of nerdom. You can take a look at the goodness coming your way on our RiverCon webpage!

We’ve got something for everyone and it all kicks off Saturday, June 6th. What might that day look like for you if you were to participate in this at home mini-con? Let me paint the picture for you!

  • 9 am- 1 pm: Patrons who pre-registered for a RiverCon@Home activity kit (if you didn’t claim your kit yet click here!) can pick-up their kits by stopping at the front entrance of the library to grab your kit from one of the librarians. You can also sign-up early for one of our super fun summer reading programs! Pre-registration for kits will end June 5th, but fear not- we will have unclaimed RiverCon@Home kits on hand to pass out to anyone who stops by on a while supplies last basis!
  • What will my RiverCon@Home kit include? A RiverCon magnet, materials to make your own upcycled comic book bookmark, blank panel pages to draw your own comics, a librarian curated graphic novel reading list with discussion questions to explore at home, superhero stickers, and more!
  • 2-3 pm: Teens and adults can learn all about the interesting history of comics and graphic novels in Cleveland from CSU literature professor Jeff Karem at our Graphic Novelists in Cleveland webinar.
  • 2-3:30 pm: Kids ages 8-12 can sign up to participate in our online Nintendo Gaming Tournament.

The fun continues all month with our first ever Community Cosplay Contest running from June 6th- June 29th! Find all the necessary information for participation here. We want to see your creativity! All ages are invited to bring to life your favorite characters for a chance to win a sweet prize bag. Two lucky winners will win a selection of graphic novels and gift cards to Carol & John’s Comic Shop, Immortals Inc., and Mitchell’s Ice Cream!

Keep checking back here every Thursday, June 11- July 2 to read interviews with talented local comic artists and writers! We will be talking to Karly West, creator of The Scholarly Banana, comics designer and artist Clare Kolat, and Tony Isabella, creator of Black Lightning, to name a few.

I’ll be posting some sneak peeks of our RiverCon@Home kits next Thursday, highlighting some more of the great comic book content we have curated for you, and reminding you all of the awesomeness ahead one more time before the big kick-off day! It’s so nice to have something to look forward to these days, don’t you think?

Stay safe and well until next time!

Your Library Staff at Home- Favorite Comics on Hoopla

Revisiting favorites is a comforting and fun activity during these uncertain, and often stressful, times. Whether it is a favorite film (I just watched Back to the Future last night!) or a favorite book, there is something about that second or fifth re-watch or re-read that feels like visiting with an old friend.

Maybe you will notice a small detail in the plot you never caught before, or a line will hit you in a new way, or maybe the story will read entirely different to you this time around! I’ve been perusing some of my all-time favorite comics series and have shared them below. Maybe you’ll spot a favorite of your own or find a brand new series to pick up!

East of West by Jonathan Hickman

A weird series that has it all- dystopian future Earth, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, epic robot/monster battles, political intrigue, forbidden romance (with Death!), sci-fi spaghetti western tones.. .and the art is gorgeous. This series hasn’t ended yet so snag Volume 1: The Promise now on Hoopla and prepare for the end!

Locke & Key by Joe Hill

Joe Hill’s talents as a terrific horror and thriller author shine in this amazing series! Readers follow the Key family as they move into the mysterious Keyhouse mansion, which they discover is filled with mysterious and powerful keys. The Key kids also soon find other nefarious forces are at work to obtain the keys- will they survive? You may have recently caught the new Netflix series based on the comics, but I can assure you the books are much weirder, darker, and spookier than the show- in the best way. You can read the entire series from beginning to end on Hoopla, starting with Volume 1: Welcome to Lovecraft.

The Sandman by Neil Gaiman

This is the series that truly began my love affair with comics. Sure, I’d read X-Men and Spider-Man plenty, but when I picked up Gaiman’s brilliant tale of Morpheus aka Dream I was blown away by how philosophical and creative The Sandman world was. The imaginative weaving together of mythology, fairy tales, Shakespeare, and more will entrance you. The impressive cast for the Audible adaptation was announced last week and inspired me to want to read this series for a third time! You can read the entire series, including the 30th anniversary edition of Volume 1: Preludes & Nocturnes, on Hoopla now.

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan

Saga is a huge, sweeping sci-fi epic that is actually about love and parenting- but also super weird, graphic in more ways that one, and sometimes soul-crushingly sad. But it is so so good! Two soldiers on opposite sides of a long-running war fall for each other and have a child, quickly making them the most wanted fugitives in perhaps the entire galaxy. Saga is their story, as told by their daughter, Hazel. The series is on a hiatus, so while we patiently await the next new issue (or not so patiently), you can get caught up on Hoopla starting with Volume 1!

If you are a comics fan be sure to check out our online programming celebrating comics, graphic novels, and fandom kicking off June 6th- RiverCon! Originally envisioned to be a mini-con in the library, we have revamped our plans to offer you some awesome goodies and activities to safely enjoy at home! Register for a RiverCon@Home activity kit now on our event calendar and keep your eyes peeled on our website for more great stuff. I’ll be posting next week with a sneak peek of some of the cool content coming your way in June.

Stay safe and happy reading!

Your Library Staff at Home- New Cookbooks for Foodie Travel

If you are like me and love to travel, you might be lamenting your lack of summer trips in the months ahead. One of my most favorite facets of visiting new places is researching the best restaurants in the area and trying out delicious regional food and drink. Wanderlust might have to take a pause this summer, but luckily there are many fabulous cookbooks available that allow you to experience exciting global cuisine from the comfort of your own kitchen.

I’ve rounded up some recently published and upcoming cookbook titles that will take your taste buds on a tour! Travel stateside with recipes from L.A, Maine, and Louisiana or traverse across the pond to Palestine, Northern Italy, Sardinia, and Poland. Culinary adventure awaits you!

Keep your eyes peeled for these mouth-watering new titles in our catalog!

Your Library Staff at Home- What I’m Reading Now

I’ve been making great usage of both Hoopla and Overdrive over the past couple weeks to satisfy my reading appetite, but have also taken this time at home as an opportunity to pick up some titles in my home library that I’ve never read. Scroll on for some of my just finished and currently in progress reads.

In the House in the Dark of the Woods by Laird Hunt

Oh how I loved this book! This memorizing horror-fantasy- historical fiction-thriller novel grabbed me and wouldn’t let me put it down until I knew all it’s twisty secrets. Set in colonial New England, readers are led along by one seemingly innocent young woman who finds herself lost in the woods after berry-picking for her husband and son. Her wanderings bring her to meet other women in the woods and it quickly becomes clear not all is as it seems and the truth is hard to discern. Highly recommended if you enjoyed the 2015 film The Witch, or The Familiars by Stacey Halls. Available through OverDrive.

Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman ; Illustrated by Colleen Doran

This dark retelling of the Snow White fairy tale, by one of my all-time favorite authors, flips the classic story in a fresh and chilling way. Snow, Glass, Apples is narrated by the stepmother, who is actually quite good, and who must protect herself and her kingdom from the King’s monstrous daughter- Snow White. Beautifully illustrated and written, any fan of Gaiman or fairy tales will want to pick this up. Winner of the 2020 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel. Available through Hoopla.

Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi

I started reading this a while back and never finished it- probably because I had began this book while on my honeymoon in Hawaii and it’s not really a “beach read” sort of book. But! I am picking it back up and so far it is quite a curious, witty, and weird (perhaps even a bit romantic) mash-up of literary fiction and some magical realism. I think this time around I will finish this! Available through OverDrive.

Bunny by Mona Awad

The great Margaret Atwood tweeted this book was a combination, among other things, of the Witches of Eastwick and Mean Girls, so I was sold. I’ve only just begun this dark and funny novel but am very excited to see where it goes! Available through OverDrive.

Little Josephine: Memory in Pieces by Valerie Villieu; Illustrated by Raphael Sarfati

This heartwarming graphic novel is a first-hand account of the unlikely friendship that blossomed between a home nurse and her 84- year old patient stricken with Alzheimer’s, Josephine. Humor and laughter bring the two together, and readers will enjoy this story of human connection. The story takes place in Paris, but it’s critiques of an overloaded healthcare system and the frustrations of geriatric care easily translate to American healthcare and makes for a story that many can relate to. Available through Hoopla.

What is everyone else reading at home? I hope you have read some fabulous books and that perhaps one of my titles will spark your interest for your next digital checkout. Happy reading and stay safe!

Your Library Staff at Home- Must Watch Documentaries

Have you watched all the guilty pleasure reality television you can handle? Re-watched all of your favorite classic films? Caught up on all those Oscar-nominated movies that you missed? If you find yourself struggling to find great viewing at home, I’ve put together a list of five stellar documentaries that you can watch at home right now for free!

Faces Places

This utterly charming documentary was recommended to me a while back by Dori, our Adult Services Manager who always has a great film tip up her sleeve, and I finally got around to watching it last week. This delightful film follows 89-year old Agnes Varda, one of the leading figures of the French New Wave, and acclaimed 33 year-old French photographer and muralist JR in what is essentially a roadtrip movie through France. Winner of the Golden Eye at the Cannes Film Festival and Best Documentary at the Film Independent Spirit Awards. Available through Kanopy.

13th

Netflix recently made a variety of educational documentaries available for free viewing on YouTube- you can view all of the free documentary offerings here. The amazing documentary 13th is one of these offerings and a definite must watch. Filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans. This critically acclaimed film will leave you with much to think about.

Bombshell

Bombshell shares the inspiring story of Austrian actress Hedy Lamarr as she fled an oppressive marriage to create a name for herself as one of Hollywood’s top leading ladies in the 1940s. Viewers learn that behind the glamour and sex appeal was a very talented and inquisitive inventor who created a radio system that is now considered the basis of Bluetooth technology. Lamarr didn’t receive credit for this achievement but this film looks to give her recognition long past due. Available through Kanopy.

I Am Not Your Negro

Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, this Oscar-nominated documentary explores the continued peril America faces from institutionalized racism. In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, Remember This House. The book was to be a personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of his close friends–Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. Sadly, the book wasn’t completed and consisted of only thirty pages at the time of Baldwin’s death. Filmmaker Raoul Peck utilizes archival footage and Baldwin’s own words to envision the book he never finished, providing an excellent introduction to Baldwin’s work and an intriguing look at racism in America. Available through Kanopy.

Geek Girls

Geek Girls looks at the “hidden half” of fan culture- women! Nerdy ladies open up about their personal experiences in the world of conventions, video games, and other pop culture circles that are burdened by widespread misogyny. While geek communities have recently risen to prominence, very little attention is paid to nerdy women. Filmmaker Gina Hara, struggling with her own geek identity, explores the issue with a cast of geeky women including a feminist geek blogger, a professional gamer, and a NASA engineer. Official selection of the Cleveland International Film Festival. Available through Kanopy.

I hope something sparks your interest from my list! Each and every one of these documentaries is thought-provoking and well worth a watch. I guarantee you will learn something too, which is always what I expect from a good documentary. What are some of your favorite documentaries? I’d love to hear your picks in the comments!

Happy viewing and stay well!

Your Library Staff at Home-Upcoming Graphic Novels

How is everyone doing at home? Though it can seem like the days blur into one another and spring weather might not actually ever arrive, something that I have been focusing on to put me in good spirits is thinking about what I can look forward to in the coming months, rather than focusing on what I can’t do. For example, I’m looking forward to decorating my new home, celebrating my one-year wedding anniversary with my husband, and reading all of the awesome books that will be published!

I’m a huge fan of the graphic novel and comic format, and am particularly excited about some forthcoming titles that I was able to get a sneak peak of earlier this week in a fun Library Journal webinar. Despite being at home, my friend and fellow comic loving librarian Megan and I were able to chat during the webinar and share our excitement in real time! Thanks technology.

Take a look below to see some of the new graphic novels I’m stoked to read!

Don’t forget that while you can’t put items on hold at the moment, you can still add titles to your wishlist, and you can still read plenty of comics and graphic novels on Hoopla (including some stellar bonus borrows that won’t affect your monthly borrow limit!).

What are you looking forward to? Have you read any amazing comics or graphic novels this past month? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Your Library Staff at Home- Cookbook Adventures

As you may have guessed, I love books. My home library includes a little bit of everything- classics, poetry, science fiction, horror, graphic novels, and a variety of cookbooks that I’ve been gifted or picked up throughout the years. Traditionally, my home library organization mostly consisted of “put the books wherever they fit” and “let’s start stacking books under the coffee table”… but my husband and I recently purchased a new home and I now find myself with more space and shelving than ever before! I have a dedicated cookbook area in my kitchen, plenty of time to try out recipes that have long sat flagged with Post-it notes, and no plans to leave the house (except for groceries) for some time- could there be a more perfect time to experiment in the kitchen?

Today I’m sharing a few cookbooks I’ve been working my way through, along with links to some favorite recipes I have (successfully!) made myself so you can try at home.

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

Both The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook and the follow-up Smitten Kitchen Every Day by Deb Perelman are fabulous, and Deb writes with such a conversational and encouraging tone, you will feel emboldened to try even her most complicated recipe. She is a home cook from NYC and her tasty comfort food is perfect for the stress we might all be feeling right now. I recommend making her one-pan farro and tomatoes– an easy dish that requires few ingredients and even fewer pots and pans!

Sister Pie: The Recipes and Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit by Lisa Ludwinski

I am totally obsessed with Sister Pie bakery. My brother-in-law lives in Detroit and whenever I visit we make sure to schedule a stop at this awesome bakery, snagging pie slices and cookies to take back with us (or consume entirely on the drive back home). I highly recommend making the sweet beet pie or the honey lemon meringue- both are crazy delicious and included in the cookbook!

Oh She Glows Every Day by Angela Liddon

Liddon’s cookbook is full of healthy vegan recipes and usually utilizes pantry staples and basic ingredients, so you don’t need to go to any specialty stores for ingredients (and nobody wants to go to a basic grocery store now, let alone a specialty store!). Try this quick pantry dal that you can make with basically whatever veggies you have around the house.

Half Baked Harvest Super Simple by Tieghan Gerard

Fun fact- Gerard grew up right here in Northeast Ohio! She lives in Colorado now but there are definite Midwest influences in many of her recipes, and she particularly adores broccoli cheddar soup recipes inspired by her childhood love of Panera Bread. Her crinkle top brownies are my absolute favorite brownie recipe, but be warned you may be tempted to eat the whole pan. Exercise extreme caution.

Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

This was one of the first cookbooks I ever purchased (I own the original edition but the 10th anniversary edition has new recipes and updates!) and it is still one of my favorites. With extensive recipes for every occasion and meal, these vegan recipes are so delicious and flavorful you don’t need to be vegan to appreciate them. Time consuming and oh so delicious, I highly recommend making her eggplant moussaka with pine nut cream. It has been my go-to recipe for potlucks and parties for years, but also a great family dish for home because it will provide delicious vegan leftovers for days!

Don’t forget you can access an amazing array of cookbooks to browse as well through our digital library! And most of the cookbooks highlighted above include a recipe link to the author’s blogs, which are full of hundreds of more delicious recipes. Another great place for recipe discovery online is from the New York Times Cooking site, who are currently allowing free access to many more recipes than usual for non-subscribers.

What fun and exciting dishes or baked goods have you whipped up at home these past couple weeks? What do you have planned for April cooking? I’m hoping to try out some more Sister Pie recipes!