Horror

Reviews: Ex Libris & After Midnight

After Midnight

by Craig J. Clark

Ex Libris: The New York Public Library (Frederick Wiseman, 2017)

Got a lot of time to fill? Then Frederick Wiseman is your man. Over a career stretching back more than half a century – from 1967’s Titicut Follies (filmed at the Massachusetts State Prison for the Criminally Insane) to 2018’s Monrovia, Indiana (filmed after Wiseman’s visit to Indiana University in 2017) – Wiseman has directed dozens of fly-on-the-wall documentaries on all manner of communities and institutions, both public and private. Of those, a whopping 42 are streaming on Kanopy and the majority have a running time of at least two hours, with a handful clocking in at more than three.

Zines? In My Library?

Zines and flowers outside of the library. The title of the images says "zines"

This year the Library launched a circulating collection of zines, the seeds of which were donated to the Library through the generosity of Boxcar Books. This collection continues to grow through purchases and donations and is now comprised of almost 400 titles.

A zine (/ziːn/ ZEEN; short for magazine or fanzine) is a small-circulation, self-published work of original or appropriated texts and images that often give voice to small, local, underrepresented, or marginalized communities. Zines are created and reproduced on a small scale, including everything from comics and DIY self-help guides to personal stories, nonfiction, and more.

Zines house a long history, from their origins in 1930s sci-fi culture, through the punk culture of the 70s and a resurgence in the 90s under riot grrrl, to today, where there are more voices and more ideas published than ever before.

Staff Picks: The Adventurers Guild by Zack Logan Clark and Nick Eliopulos

Reviewed by Ginny H.
 
Best friends, Brock and Zed are anxious for their Guildculling Day, the day their futures are determined by what guild chooses them to train and work for the rest of their lives. They decide they'll be happy as long as it isn't the Adventurer's Guild, the guild tasked with venturing outside of the city walls to defend against the dangerous monsters outside. When the Adventurer's Guild unexpectedly steals the two friends for their guild, everything in Brock and Zed's world changes.

I loved this book! It'd be great for fans of Harry Potter with its mix of humor, adventure, mystery and friends who fight and stand up for what's good.

Monstress Vol. 1: Awakening

A dark fantasy that heralds the start of a thrilling new series, Monstress Vol. 1: Awakening by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda is a stunningly beautiful graphic novel that tells a heartrending and epic story. The story utilizes a mix of Asian mythologies and ancient Egyptian motifs to create a rich and layered world that Takeda’s art brings to beautiful life. The world is matriarchal and the bulk of the characters, heroes, villians, and those in between, are powerful and deadly women, often with rich and layered backstories. Monstress imagines a world that is at once completely different from our own, yet still hauntingly familiar. The power of this graphic novel is difficult to convey as both the story and artwork contain multitudes of layers that enrich the story and add complexity. Monstress is a tale of vengeance, redemption, horror, tragedy, friendship, shattered gods, magic, myth, and monsters all braided together into an exquisite graphic novel.

The Big Bad Bubble by Adam Rubin

Everyone knows that monsters are scary, but what scares a monster? Bubbles that’s what! Rubin’s picture book humorously depicts monsters dealing with their own problems when the bubbles invade. One monster, after a bad bubble experience, is convinced all bubbles are scary and out to get all monsters. This monster creates a panic in the monster world, which will be unendingly funny to young readers, as these big monsters run, hide, cower, and otherwise embarrass themselves trying to flee the bubbles. Eventually, the monsters are able to gather their courage and learn that the bubbles are not as scary as they once thought, and in fact, can be fun.

The Invisible Man (1933)

Claude Rains was perhaps one of the most recognizable character actors from the classic era of film.  He was able to play almost any part. Among his best known roles were Captain Louis Renault in Casablanca and Prince John in The Adventures of Robin Hood.  The Invisible Man was his first major film role.  Prior to this film he had only appeared on screen in one silent film short.  The rest of his early acting life had been spent on the hardwood stages.  In The Invisible Man, Mr. Rains stars as Dr. Jack Griffin, who disappears one day while working in the lab of his friend and mentor Dr. Cranley   His mysterious disappearance from the lab has Flora, Dr. Cranley’s daughter and Jack’s girlfriend, worried regarding his whereabouts.  Unbeknownst to the two of them Jack Griffin has done more than simply walked away from the lab and them.  He has literally disappeared, becoming completely invisible.  Wrapped in bandages to hide his invisibility he sets up a lab in a local Inn to work on a way to bring himself back to normalcy.  Sadly the formula which made him invisible is also affecting his mind and he is becoming more unbalanced and violent as time passes.

The Blob (1958)

If the stories I’ve heard are true there is a five-gallon bucket somewhere in the United States that contains a batch of red silicone still moist from the 1958 production of The Blob.   Supposedly it is brought out and displayed at the annual Blobfest in Phoenixville PA where many of the scenes for the movie were shot.   The Blob is one of many science fiction movies of the 1950’s that told of some unknown horror coming from outer space that endangers the world.  A lot of these were extremely low budget and featured extremely bad special effects even taking into account the time they were produced. 

Next Life Might Be Kinder

“It must be a good book,” my husband said as I read by flashlight in the car on the way home from our Thanksgiving holiday.

What not to like: a spirit talking from beyond the grave, two writers practicing (or not) their craft, Lindy Hop lessons, a blue cat warming itself by the radio, birdwatching by the sea, and crocks and crocks of fresh fish chowder?

This novel takes place in Halifax and in a small village in Nova Scotia. The seaside village setting is spectacular with its wild Atlantic coast, historic graveyard, and old library. 

The book tells the stories of two writers Sam Lattimore and his new wife, Lizzie. It’s the 1970s and they live in a Halifax hotel where they also had their honeymoon. Lizzie orders a chaise-longue for their living room in honor of the topic of her dissertation, The Victorian Chaise-Longue, a minor book by a minor writer that Lizzie has chosen for what it teaches about life.

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