Monday, December 30, 2013

Staff Picks: Dragonlance Chronicles

I'm somewhat of an enigma when it comes to fantasy. I am a self proclaimed fan of the genre and often navigate to various things in that setting, but if there is a specific example of one that I don't much care for it's the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  I don't have much in the way of explanation for why, it's just something that never really appealed to me. (Probably not the smartest thing to say with a new Hobbit movie coming out or hobbit promotion in our Library)

In any case, there is one fantasy trilogy that I am absolutely in love with and have been since middle school, and that would be Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman. Since this duo is quite the prolific pair, I'd like focus on the Dragons Trilogy as it's probably the most notable story and the one where the major characters become the "Heroes of the Lance", and essentially lays the foundation for the all the stories that follow it. 


The tale sets up with a group of adventurers meeting up after a 5 years to reconnect after going their separate ways. The brothers Majere: Caramon and Raistlin, Tanis Half-Elven, the knight Sturm, Tasselhoff the Kender, and Flint the Dwarf. On the eve of their reunion they find that the village is currently under the occupation of a religious organization called the Seekers, who work for the Dragon Highlords who look to conquer the continent. 

They seek a blue crystal staff that supposedly has the power of the lost gods of good and has the ability to disrupt their plans for conquest. A staff that so happens to be in the possession of a Barbarian Princess, Goldmoon, who is also in the same tavern where our group has reunited.  After a display of the staffs healing powers and an altercation with Goldmoon's lover (Riverwind) the group confronted by the authorities and are forced to flee.

Thus setting in motion a pursuit of a Draconian empire, as the group makes way to find out more about the old gods that and recover an ancient series of disks that will be instrumental in returning faith to the True Gods, all the while defending themselves against attacks from Draconians and the eventual return of dark dragons.

As a series of stories heavily based in the Dungeons and Dragons universe, I think what I ended up liking the most about the series is that it really is an ensemble piece. Right from the get go we have a pretty wide and diverse cast of characters that only grows as the story progresses. I find it to be a true ensemble piece because while certain points of the story focus on certain characters, there is no "Hero" of the tale. It will constantly shift focus in the group, allowing the reader to decide for themselves which hero they like instead of having one projected to you as your read.

Additionally, like a great game of D&D, many of the characters have their own motivations. One of the more popular characters and one of the primary antagonists, Raistlin Majere, is quite clearly from the onset an "evil" character. His motivations clearly are beneficial to himself, and he will often manipulate situations to further his own power under the guise of helping the group. Much to the dismay of his brother.

I really can only give such a small snippet of the story as so much takes place in these three novels, but if you are fan of the fantasy genre then this is a tale that you'll find incredibly easy to slip into. It has adventuring, fights with dragons, war, romance, splashes of comedy, and pretty much satisfies all my needs in a fantasy story. It's a series I've enjoyed as a kid and one I enjoy to this date.

Feel free to check out the CLEVNET catalog to check out these stories, and if you get as wrapped up in the universe as I have, we have a wide selection of the numerous other stories within the Dragonlance universe as well.

Monday, December 23, 2013

New Year's Resolutions for Readers

2014 is just around the corner...Have you made any New Year's Resolutions yet?   Here are a few ideas for all you readers out there...

Readers Resolutions  courtesy of Camille DelVecchio of the Penfield Public Library in New York.

This year I will:
  1. Reread a book I loved as a child.
  2. Finally read that classic from high school I've been avoiding.
  3. Find a book of poetry and read some aloud.
  4. Spend an hour in aimless browsing at a library.
  5. Read a book written in the year I was born.
  6. Create a journal and keep notes about the books and magazines I read.
  7. Assemble a list of addresses of my favorite people and send them my ideas about books.
  8. Read a book to a child.
  9. Gather a few friends and read a play out loud.
  10. Read a book on the history of my town.  Why not try 20th Century Memoirs of Kirtland  by Grace Parks? 
  11. Read a book written from a political point of view totally opposite my own.
  12. Read a book about a place I've never been.
  13. Reread a book that I just didn't "get" when I was eighteen.
  14. Ask my favorite librarian to show me some print and online resources for readers.
  15. Read a book written by a non-American.

Have you ever started a book and decided you don't like it, but not put it down because you feel guilty and you're not a quitter!  If you need permission to stop reading a book before you've finished it, try the "Rule of Fifty."

Nancy Pearl, a librarian and readers advisor extraordinaire, developed this simple rule to help readers determine how many pages they should read before they give up on a particular book.   If you are fifty years of age or younger, give the book fifty pages before you decide to commit to reading it or give it up.  If you are over fifty, subtract your age from 100 -- the result is the number of pages you should read before making your decision to stay with it or quit.

What better way to start out the new year than with a good book.  Come to the Kirtland Public Library and check one out today!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Hobbits and Dwarves and Dragons, Oh My!

The Hobbit, Or, There and Back Again  The Fellowship of the Ring  The Two Towers  The Return of the King

In honor of the release of the movie, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, here are some Hobbit trivia questions. Please note that some of the questions can only be answered by reading the book!
  1. Who wrote The Hobbit, Or There And Back Again?
  2. Where does Bilbo live?
  3. What is the name of Bilbo's home?
  4. How many dwarves accompany Bilbo and Gandalf on the adventure?
  5. Who was the first dwarf to arrive at Bilbo's home?
  6. Who are the two youngest dwarves?
  7. Who is the leader of the dwarves?
  8. What is the name of the home where Elrond and his elves live?
  9. What is the name of the forest that Bilbo and the dwarves enter?
  10. How many trolls capture Bilbo and the dwarves, and what are their names?
  11. What happens to trolls when they are caught in the sunlight?
  12. Beorn can shape-shift in to what kind of creature?
  13. Who does Bilbo meet in the goblin caves?
  14. What does Bilbo find in the caves?
  15. What is the name of the Dragon?
  16. How much of the dragon's gold hoard was Bilbo promised in return for his services as a burgler?
  17. How do the dwarves escape from the wood elves?
  18. How many armies fight in the war at the end of The Hobbit?
  1. J.R.R. Tolkein
  2. The Shire
  3. Bag End
  4. 13
  5. Dwalin
  6. Fili and Kili
  7. Thorin Oakenshield
  8. Rivendell
  9. Mirkwood
  10. 3,  Bert, Tom and William
  11. They turn to stone
  12. Bear
  13. Gollum
  14. The Ring
  15. Smaug
  16. One fourteenth
  17. Bilbo packs them in empty wine barrels
  18. Five 

 I highly recommend The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King) by J.R.R. Tolkein.  They are fantastic adventure stories with great characters.  The movies are good too!  You can check them out at the Kirtland Public Library.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Fix Your Car at the Library!

Did you know you can get free, up to date information on your car from ALLDATA?  ALLDATA provides vehicle information that is used by professionals, and you can use it too.  You have access to ALLDATA for free in any CLEVNET library.

ALLDATA has been around since 1986 providing information from OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) service manuals. This is the same information your mechanic and auto technicians use to diagnose and fix your car. If you want to know what and how they're doing it, look up your car on ALLDATA. Or if you want to make repairs yourself, ALLDATA can show you how.

Use ALLDATA to do the following:
  • Diagnose car trouble
  • Get easy to follow repair procedures
  • Get part numbers and prices
  • See how long it takes to repair/replace parts
  • See exactly where parts are located in your car
  • Find information on recalls and known problems with your vehicle
  • Get maintenance schedules for your car based on its mileage
Navigating ALLDATA is easy. Simply choose your vehicle's YEAR, MAKE, and MODEL from the lists provided. Then click on a component such as Engine, Cooling and Exhaust. From there, you can choose from a list of parts to learn how to service and/or repair them. Or you can diagnose car troubles from symptom lists by clicking on the desired component such as Computers and Control Systems, then clicking By Symptom. (Note: Not all components will have symptom lists.)

ALLDATA includes up to date information on recalls and known problems. Find this information for your vehicle using the TSB (Technical Service Bulletins) link on the left. 

ALLDATA has complete information from what kind of oil to put in your car to how to replace a battery. Even if you don't do the repairs yourself, ALLDATA lets you communicate with your mechanic better, and helps you know your vehicle inside and out. 

Remember, you can use ALLDATA for free in any CLEVNET library. Ask a reference librarian which computers have database access.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Books Into Movies: Holiday 2013 Edition

'Tis the season for holiday films. . .based on books

The Invisible Woman tells the story of the 13-year affair between Charles Dickens and Nelly Ternan, an actress 27 years younger than him. Ralph Fiennes directs and stars in the film, based on the biography The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens by Claire Tomalin.

Homefront, based on the novel by Chuck Logan, stars Jason Statham as Phil Broker, a recently widowed, former DEA agent who moves to a small town with his young daughter, hoping for a quiet life. However, the town they choose is run by a violent drug dealer, played by James Franco, and it’s up to Broker to save them all.

Labor Day stars Kate Winslet as Adele, a reclusive single mother who is coerced into taking an escaped convict, Frank, into her home. Although Adele and her son are at first frightened of Frank, he quickly becomes part of the family over the long Labor Day weekend. Will the police catch up to him, or will they all live happily ever after? Based on the novel by Joyce Maynard.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is the second part of a 3-part adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s classic fantasy novel. Set in Middle-Earth, 60 years before The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, this film continues the adventure of Bilbo Baggins (The Hobbit) on his quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain and the lost Dwarf Kingdom of EreborStarring Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, Cate Blanchett, and Orlando Bloom.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is based on the short story of the same name by James Thurber. The film, directed by and starring Ben Stiller, depicts the rich fantasy life of the of the otherwise quiet, mild-mannered magazine editor, Walter. But when his job is threatened, he goes on a real-life adventure that surpasses anything in his imagination.

Remember, it's always better to read the book before you see the movie, so come in and check one out!