Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Outside of a Dog, #28

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx.

Cold winter evenings are the perfect time to play some games. Can’t remember how to play? Here are suggested titles to refresh your memory.

Great Solitaire Games by Sheila Anne Barry
More versions of solitaire than you could possibly explore in one winter fill this slim book. Some of the games are quick and very simple, others much more complex and will challenge your powers of concentration.

Winner’s Guide to Texas Hold’em Poker: The Smart Player’s Guide to Winning at Hold’Em by Ken Warren
Warren reveals his inside and top secret strategies in this, the definitive and essential guide to playing and winning at Texas Hold’Em, today’s most popular version of poker.
795.412W WCV EPL UPL

Teach Yourself Visually Bridge by David Galt
Bridge can be a very challenging card game, but you can quickly grasp the basics with this guide that SHOWS how it’s played. Covering everything from evaluating a hand and bidding it, through playing the cards, then scoring the results, this book guides you step by step with clear and colorful illustrations.
795.415G WCV SHL TPL

How to Play Better Dominoes by Miguel Lugo
28 tiles and four players, that’s all you need for a game of dominoes. Challenge your brain and test your logic with this old fashioned but still enduring game. This book offers insights and techniques to honing your skills at this deceptively easy game.

Hoyle’s Rules of Games Edited by Albert H. Morehead & Geoffrey Mott-Smith
A definitive book when it comes to the rules of the game – whether it's bridge, backgammon, blackjack, or blind tiger. Also included is a chapter on computer games.
795.4H WCV SBL

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Whichever holiday you celebrate...

Outside of a Dog, #27

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx.

As often as books are touted as the perfect Christmas gift, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention a subscription to a favorite magazine as a less costly alternative. The Civic Center Library and other Warren branches have literally dozens upon dozens of magazines to peruse for ideas. The following are all craft-related magazines that you may never have considered for that crafty relative or friend in your life.

Jewelry Artist and Lapidary Journal


Gems, minerals, beads, stones, sterling silver, gold, crystals, pearls, and most anything else you can imagine related to the field of making costume as well as high quality jewelry are touched on each issue.

Simple Scrapbooks


Hey, who doesn’t scrapbook anymore or know someone totally addicted to the process? Unlike several other magazines in the genre, this publication is pretty much geared to the beginner. It’s loaded with simple and creative projects and ideas. Even the ads are fun.

Vogue Knitting International


This so-called bible of the knitting world has set the standard for knitting magazines for years. Its longevity is probably due to the fact that it skillfully blends knit patterns for the beginner as well as the spectacularly skilled knitter. Published 4 times a year, there is enough packed in each issue to keep knitters inspired and busy in between issues.

Sewing Today
Does anybody still sew? Sure they do! - and these two publications prove the point.

Threads is a high quality magazine that addresses all sorts of sewing and sewing related topics. The current issue has articles on buttons, resizing a pant pattern, and how to preserve garments.

Sewing Today is published by the folks that produce Butterick and McCall’s patterns. It’s an entertaining and instructional magazine aimed at inspiring the average sewer to not only tackle traditional clothing items but other fun projects. The holiday issue included clever ideas for pet projects, aprons, doll clothes, and for those ready to sew up a more ambitious project – winter coats.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Author Profile: Robert A. Heinlein

(There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch)

Heinlein, a four-time-Hugo Award winner, is respected as the father of hard science fiction – the kind of sci-fi that has accountability for the concepts that it uses to tell a story. Along with Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, he’s probably best known for revitalizing the genre. Here’s a selection of some of his most famous books for any reader interested in classic sci-fi, or in reading an author whose tales of liberty and self-reliance in the face of government control and interference have become famous, even after his death.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Originally serialized in Worlds of If magazine in 1965, the book version of “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” is separated into three ‘books’ – The Dinkum Thinkum, A Rabble in Arms, and TANSTAAFL! In 2075, when the story takes place, the moon has been colonized for use as a penal colony. The problem, of course, is once someone has spent a long time there, their bodies are unable to live anywhere else. The story becomes more interesting, though, when the computer that’s responsible for all of the systems on the Lunar Colonies because self-aware and intelligent. What follows is a revolution on two worlds, leading to Heinlein’s second Hugo Award.
Fic Heinlein ROG
SF Heinlein TPL UPL
Audiocassette available at SBL

Starship Troopers
Most people will know the title from the movie of the same name, made in the late 90’s. While the movie version was controversial at the time it was made, so was the book, with readers suggesting the promotion of militarism rather than social and political ideas, which were found in most, if not all, of Heinlein’s novels.
YA Heinlein LWM
SF Heinlein TPL RSV

Have Space Suit –Will Travel
The last of 12 YA/Juvenile novels that Heinlein wrote, Have Spacesuit follows a teenager named Kip, who wins a spacesuit in an advertising jingle contest. On one last trip out in the suit (intending to sell it for money to finance college), he gets drawn into an intense adventure that ends up with him pleading the case of the human race to an intergalactic tribunal.
J Hein SBL

If you’re looking to see if you like Heinlein before getting involved in any of his three well-known series (Lazarus Long, The World as Myth, and Future History) try one of his short-story collections, like “The Man Who Sold the Moon” or “The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag."

The Man Who Sold the Moon
SF Heinlein RSV

The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag
SF Heinlein RSV

Thanks to NB and PW for this author suggestion!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Our Friend MeL

MeL, short for "Michigan Electronic Library" is a service provided to libraries and residents in Michigan from the state government. What does MeL do for you? Provides access to databases (like Learn-a-Test, Opposing Viewpoints, InfoTrac, and LegalTrac), and allows you to order books, videos and CDs from libraries all across Michigan – for free!

If you’ve ever wanted to read a book that no library in the cooperative owns, or there’s a CD that your favorite artist sings on that you can’t find anywhere, why not try MeLCat? It’s easy to search, and will tell you just how many libraries own whatever you’re looking for.

How does it work?
1. Point your browser of choice to www.mel.org
2. Click on “MeLCat”
3. Type in your search words. I tried “Frank Sinatra.”
4. I chose “Classic Duets,” because it’s not owned by any SLC libraries.

5. Click on “Get this for me!”
6. Sign in – choose your home library, then type in your name and library card number.

Your item should show up in about a week, depending on where in the state it’s coming from.

Remember, this service is free for you to use from your home computer, any time, day or night. If you don’t have access to a computer, you can always ask a reference librarian to help you.

Due to shipping times and costs, we ask that you check the SLC (Suburban Library Cooperative) holdings first, to make sure that we can’t order your item from within the county.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Get Bitten by this book!

Today’s Book: Bitten, by Kelley Armstrong

The plot: Elena Michaels is the only known female werewolf. After being bitten (which is what turned her into a werewolf in the first place), she spent her time with The Pack, an organized family of mostly hereditary werewolves, run much in the way of a real wolf pack. At the beginning of the book, she’s been gone from the Pack for a year, trying to live among humans, most notably Philip, her live-in boyfriend. When the Pack Alpha calls her back from Toronto to New York to help with an uprising of ‘mutts’ (werewolves, usually bitten, who aren’t affiliated with The Pack), she goes because she feels she owes them. That’s, of course, when the story gets really interesting, since she left her werewolf ‘brothers’ and more than a few matters unsettled.

Bitten is the first of Armstrong’s “Women of the Otherworld” series, though they can be read out of order, due to the large cast of characters. The series involves werewolves, like Elena and The Pack, as well as witches, demons, and vampires.

Why You’ll Love It: The series began as a short story influenced by an X-Files episode about werewolves, and now enjoys status as one of the brightest and best urban fantasies. Bitten is a new take on an old favorite in werewolf books, and once you’ve met headstrong Elena, you’ll want to keep reading about her in the books that follow – Stolen and Broken, and you may even branch out into the other Otherworld books, short stories, and novellas, some available online at the author's web site.

Who Will/Should Read It: Fans of the Urban Fantasy genre, or anyone who enjoys a good otherwordly murder mystery. There’s a little gore and some sex scenes, though they’re mostly tame as compared to other authors in the genre.


PBK Fantasy Armstrong K ROG

Monday, December 15, 2008

Outside of a Dog, #26

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx.

Cooking is certainly a big part of the holiday season. Why not try some time-tested and foolproof recipes offered in this selection of non-traditional Christmas cookbooks by some of our most well-known food companies?

The Jell-O Collection: 3 Cookbooks in 1 by Publications International

For more than 100 years, Jell-O has been a part of the American kitchen. This book offers a compilation of traditional as well as new and innovative recipes to delight Jell-O fans everywhere.

641.864 J WCV

The Kellogg’s Cookbook: 200 Classic Recipes for Today’s Kitchen by Judith Choate

Who could have imagined plain old cereal could generate so many tempting recipes but Kellogg’s has managed to compile an impressive collection.


Marshall Field’s Cookbook: Classic Recipes and Fresh Takes from the Field’s Culinary Council by Stephen Siegelman

Okay, so the retail giant has changed its name from Hudson’s to Marshall Fields to Macy’s. Still, Macy’s Lakeshore Grill hasn’t abandoned some locally famous dishes including the perennial favorite Maurice Salad. And yes, that recipe is included here.


The Butterball Turkey Cookbook: 150 Turkey Recipes with all the Trimmings by the Butterball Turkey Company

This collection offers 150 easy recipes, ranging from soups and stews to one-dish meals for whole turkeys, boneless breasts, and ground turkey. No doubt turkey lovers everywhere will appreciate the advice, tips, and wide variety of ways to utilize those leftovers.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Author Profile: Charlaine Harris

A Southern writer with charm to spare, Charlaine Harris started writing mystery novels in the early 1990s, with her tales of Aurora (“Ro”) Teagarden, librarian extraordinaire and part-time, accidental crime solver. Once Ro had found her happily ever after in the ten-book series, Harris wrote for Lily Bard, from Shakespeare, Arkansas, the kind of girl even bad guys didn’t want to mess with. Finally, and most recently, Harris writes about Sookie Stackhouse, telepathic barmaid, and Harper Connelly, grave reader. Sookie’s famous right now because of the HBO series “True Blood,” which has just finished its wildly successful first season.

Real Murders (Aurora Teagarden)
When Ro’s “Real Murders” club finds themselves and their members taken down by, well, real murders, it’s up to Ro and the club to figure out who’s behind it all, and stop them!

Shakespeare’s Landlord (Lily Bard)
Lily, a fiercely private cleaning woman and self-defense student, finds the body of her landlord hidden in the dumpsters behind her home. When she realizes that her prints are on the body, she starts to question her customers, and strikes up a relationship with the police chief and her karate instructor to get to the bottom of the murder mystery. Lots of action and excitement colors Lily’s world in this first novel.

Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse/ Southern Vampire)
If you’re reading the Sookie books because you loved the television show True Blood, you might be in for a surprise. While most of the characters and plot elements are the same, there are some differences that needed to be made to make the show pop. This novel is the basis for the first season, when young women who have associated with now-legal and “out” vampires, keep turning up dead in tiny Bon Temps, Louisiana.

Grave Sight (Harper Connelly)
Harper was struck by lightning when she was a teenager, and ever since, has been able to ‘read’ graves – she can stand over someone’s resting place, and tell who’s under the ground, and sometimes, how they died. Seeking to make peace with her past – she has, thus far, been unable to find her missing, presumed-dead little sister – she travels the country trying to help people find their missing loved ones, with her stepbrother and manager, Tolliver.
Available on CD and as an E-Audiobook at TPL

While you can read each series out of order, Harris does reference previous books a lot in her works, so here’s the chronological list for each series:

Ro Teagarden
Real Murders
A Bone to Pick
Three Bedrooms, One Corpse
The Julius House
Dead Over Heels
A Fool and His Honey
Last Scene Alive
Poppy Done to Death

Lily Bard
Shakespeare’s Landlord
Shakespeare’s Champion
Shakespeare’s Christmas
Shakespeare’s Trollop
Shakespeare’s Counselor

Sookie Stackhouse/ Southern Vampire
Dead Until Dark
Living Dead in Dallas
Club Dead
Dead to the World
Dead as a Doornail
Definitely Dead
All Together Dead
From Dead to Worse
Dead and Gone (coming May 2009!)

Harper Connelly
Grave Sight
Grave Surprise
An Ice Cold Grave

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Study Hard - The Easy Way!

Thanks to the Michigan Electronic Library, you can study for big tests from the comfort of your home – or at your local Warren library!

Using the Learn-A-Test/Learning Express Library database provides free access to study guides and tests of all kinds, from GED and GRE to EMS and ASVAB! Books on these exams are hard to get your hands on, especially during peak testing seasons, so use the guides online to see what you’re in for. You can even take timed sample tests, and get graded as you go, so you know where your strengths lie. Learn-A-Test also allows you to print questions to make your own study guide, and print out your progress report, too.

You can access Learn-A-Test through the MEL portal (http://www.mel.org), or from the link on any library computer(). Register using your library card number and PIN, and you’re ready to try a test!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Outside of a Dog, #25

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx.

All sorts of craft ideas and projects compete for our attention. Why not indulge your crafting instincts with a few homemade holiday greeting cards? They are easy to make, quick, and can often be made with supplies you have around the house. The following titles offer inspiration as well as many samples.

Greeting Cards for the First Time by Karmen Quinney

Your cards will be a bit more special when they’re handmade with a particular loved one in mind. Sample cards, material lists, and advice are given here, and more importantly, the core ideas can easily be adapted with your own creativity in mind.

745.5941 G WCV SHL SBL

Creative Greeting Cards by Sandi Genovese

Die-cuts to the rescue! Teachers, storytellers, and librarians have long used die-cuts for a wide variety of craft projects. Here they are utilized to create a selection of greeting cards. Everything from Christmas cards to invitations is showcased in a way that will inspire you to create your own unique cards.

745.5941 G WCV MTC RSV

Instant Gratification Cards: Fast and Fabulous Projects by Carol Endler Sterbenz and Genevieve A. Sterbenz

Here we have plenty of quick and creative techniques to produce professional and sophisticated greeting cards in an afternoon that don’t look hokey or handmade. Whether a beginner or an experienced crafter you will find surely something in this book to inspire you.

745.5941 S WCV WDB

Better Homes and Gardens Handmade Greetings for all Occasions: 85 Cards, Gift Tags, and Invitations by Susan Banker

Send sentiments from your heart with cards made by your hands. Whether you’re looking for an extra-special way to say Happy Birthday or simply want someone to know you care, you’ll find ideas for perfect cards inside this book.

745.5941 B WCV SHL

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Take this book to the Graveyard with you!

Today’s Book: The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman

The plot: Bod, or Nobody Owens, was only a baby when he stealthily escaped from his crib and went crawling the streets of London. As luck would have it, he also barely escaped being killed with the rest of his family. He manages to get across the street, to a graveyard, where the ghostly Mistress and Mr. Owens decide to care for him, and give him the Freedom of the Graveyard – meaning he can come and go where only the dead usually are allowed. As Nobody grows up between the worlds of the living, the dead and the not-exactly-dead, he finds out why he's only safe in the graveyard.

Why You’ll Love It: Gaiman is a master storyteller, there’s no doubt about that. In this children’s book, released September 30 of this year, he visits a graveyard he once lived near, where his son liked to play, and plays, himself, with what might have been behind those gates. If you’d like to stretch your imagination to the spooky (but not-too-spooky), try this book!

Who Will/Should Read It: Gaiman enthusiasts (it’s no surprise that the writers of this blog are big fans!), kids who like a good spooky story, and even adults reading to kids (or to themselves) should pick up The Graveyard Book!

New YA Fic Gaiman CHE