Get Your Game On

If you’ve nosed around your branch’s AV section in the past few days, you may have noticed that things were shuffled around a bit to make room for a new collection. That’s right, we are all circulating video games now!

The collect at Woods Run

The collection at Woods Run

We have a mix of 3DS; X-box One and 360; and PS3 and PS4 games available at all of the branches. Just like the Best Seller DVD collections, these items can’t be placed on hold. However, we’ll hopefully have a good selection ready to go on the shelf for you. You can borrow three at a time and play your heart out for three weeks. Bonus: Main expanded their requestable collection, so we can always try to help you find something if it’s not at the branches!

Here are some of the titles we received:

Happy gaming!

– Jess

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November 2015 Recap

Were you crazy busy with holiday cooking, spending time with your friends and family, buying gifts, taking midterms, and generally trying to get things done before it gets really cold?

Us, too. Which is why we’re posting this handy dandy recap of Library blog goodness.

noplotThis month, Kelly gave some advice on participating in National Novel Writing Month and Leigh Anne reflected on the Library’s birthday, Guy Fawkes Day, and V for Vendetta.

In the food department, Melissa F. covered some books about healthy eating and food literacy. Ginny made our mouths water with her cake project, and Abbey embraced Thanksgiving feasting.

Scott gave us a list of movies similar to James Bond films in anticipation of the new 007 flick, and Tara suggested some dysfunctional holiday movies to get us through our own family dramas.

KwanRoss wondered if size matters when it comes to books, and Kayla recommended the Lunar Chronicles. Leigh Anne reviewed a few urban thrillers, and Melissa F. examined the nuances of Emma Donohoghue’s Room. Scott P. suggested some titles to read and reflect on violence in our society, and Amy looked at an old-time gangster.

adele-25album-1-nme-221015.article_x4Kayla reviewed Adele’s comeback album, and Joelle explored variations on some of Paganini’s hardest pieces.

We covered plenty of Library program and event goodness, too, like Suzy’s write up of the Pop des Fleurs program, Jess B.’s examination of the special Daniel Tiger events we’re hosting and Library patron Dana B.’s reflection on Margaret Atwood‘s visit to Pittsburgh.

-Team Eleventh Stack

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Darn it felt good to be a gangster.

Year of Fear

And it rhymes, too

Plain old George Kelly was doing quite well as a bootlegger and a bank robber until his wife Kathryn decided that they should pull off a string of kidnappings, make a boatload of money, and retire to Mexico.

Their first attempt ended poorly, when they kidnapped a gent whose family was unable to raise the ransom money (p.56). Oops. They decided to try again – but first, Kathryn decided that her husband’s image could stand a little improvement. So she bought him a machine gun and started spreading rumors about his prowess.

…she made her rounds of the local taverns and speakeasies, where she was constantly boasting about her husband, saying he could shoot walnuts off a fence line with his machine gun and write his name with it on the sides of barns (p. 46).

Basically, Machine Gun Kelly became Machine Gun Kelly because his wife wanted him to sound cooler. Sometimes history is awesome like that.

Anyway – their next target was millionaire Oklahoma oil tycoon Charles Urschel (no relation to the book’s author), whom they kidnapped from his swanky mansion on July 22, 1933 (p.75). Urschel was both the most cooperative and the sneakiest hostage ever – by the end of his stay with Kelly and his gang he had learned enough about the remote Texas farm where he was held hostage to lead the feds right to the door,  even though he was blindfolded the entire time.

Before long, he had enough details that he could draw the shack and the farm in his mind and identify and enumerate every animal that populated it. There were two chicken coops out back, a well with nasty, mineral-tasting water out front with a pulley that squeaked with a distinctive sound. There were four cows, three hogs, two pigs, a bull, and a mule (p. 87).

Kelly probably would have gotten away with the kidnapping if he had killed Urschel after collecting the ransom money (as his wife suggested) or if he had just chosen a stupider target. But he didn’t – so we get a months-long, multi-state investigation and pursuit that involves…

  • a bad dye job
  • one accidentally kidnapped sullen teenage girl
  • extremely embarrassing near-misses
  • Melvin Purvis (looking nothing like Christian Bale in Public Enemies, alas)
  • custom-built armored cars
  • deliberately mistaken identities
  • a brief cameo by Al Capone
  • missing codebooks
  • and tiny dogs.

Why don’t they teach this kind of stuff in high school history classes? It’s great!

The Year of Fear: Machine Gun Kelly and the Manhunt that Changed the Nation by Joe Urschel is a very fun and detailed book that’s available in print and book on CD.

– Amy E.



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Unapologetic Thanksgiving Eating

Traditionally around this time of year people see so much information about cookbooks for various holidays, sales going on for Black Friday (there is an ENTIRE website dedicated to this day), Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, that even before people have time to relax and enjoy (hopefully) what you did for the holidays, it’s time to start planning your New Year’s resolution. Can you guess what the number one resolution is (before you click the link)? Losing weight, RIGHT after two months of eating delicious food and indulging in favorites.

For this post I want to write about something different. I want to talk about a book that I found really inspiring and helpful, and that I hope will work for someone else too. The book is titled Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living.  things no one will tell fat girls

I bet some of you reading this are thinking, “What in the world does this book have to do with the holidays?” For starters, this book talks about being you and loving who you are (and I mean “you” as in “everyone”). I believe that is an important concept to have, especially around the holidays. There are so many other things going on, and many people feel guilty after so much indulgence (I know I do).  So then they feel the need to correct that, hence the number one New Year’s resolution (see, I had a point). This book helped me realize that enjoying holiday food, or any food, is acceptable and we shouldn’t have to apologize for it.

Aside from the food bit, this book covers a lot of information, and I found all of it valuable and important. Take a chance, pick it up, and let me know if you found it as helpful as I did.

And while you’re at it, enjoy the holidays with no regrets … except for that fruitcake. That’s not a good idea.


P.S. Check out Jes Baker’s blog if you liked her book.


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The Return Of Adele


Adele makes her triumphant return to music with her third album 25. It’s been four years since her record-breaking, chart-topping, award-winning, critically acclaimed sophomore album, 21 was released. A few things have changed for her since then. She’s won an Academy Award for Best Song for “Skyfall” from the James Bond film with the same title, she’s in a new relationship, and she became a mom.

Her son, Angelo, makes an appearance on 25 on the record “Sweetest Devotion.” Adele has stated that the song is about the 3 year-old. It’s a very sweet song and is one of my favorites from the album. Another great track is “All I Ask.” It’s beautiful record. On this record, Adele sings about having one special moment with her significant other in case it is their last night together.  The vocals and raw emotion on this song are powerful. “Million Years Ago” to me is a like a sequel to her debut single “Hometown Glory.”  Other reviewers have said the same thing. I’ve made this comparison because both songs deal with similar subject matter. It’s very reflective and reminiscent.

25 is by far no sequel to 21 and that’s a good thing. On this album, Adele experiments with different sounds and it works. “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” is an upbeat pop record that’s a diss to her ex. I can see this song being huge on top 40 radio. On “I Miss You” Adele is giving a seductive vibe and it works. The song is all about intimacy and about missing being with that special someone. My favorite song on the album (for right now because it’s bound to change) is “When We Were Young.” This song could come off as Adele singing about missing someone romantically or it could also be interpreted as missing a friend or loved one. I fell in love with this song immediately after watching this performance.

25 is a great album and speaking as an Adele fan it was well worth the wait. Since there’s a long wait list for the album there’s a few things you can do in the meantime while waiting for your copy to come in. You can use our music service, Freegal, and download up to 5 tracks from 25 each week. Also, you can listen or re listen to Adele’s previous albums, 19 and 21, which are both available in our catalog. Adele’s concert special Live at the Royal Albert Hall is also available. Last, but not least you can watch the video for  the first single from 25 “Hello” which is dominating the charts and radio airwaves. Happy listening!



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Evil And Existence Post Paris

Like 9/11, confronting the horror of the 11/13 Paris attacks requires us to recognize the inherent fragility of our lives. We live in an ordered society. We’re lucky like that in the West. Sometimes terror shatters that order. We can confront this evil in a number of ways. We can employ whatever philosophy or belief system we use to give us comfort. We can get angry. We can despair. Or we can ignore it. Some combination of these aforementioned coping mechanisms can work too.

This is not an easy topic to build a book list about, but I am including titles that ponder the nature of evil and violence. I hope that at least one of them might supply some succor.

The Challenge Of Things:  Thinking Through Troubled Times / A.C. Grayling

Freedom:  Stories Celebrating The Universal Declaration Of Human Rights / anthology

Non-Violence:  Challenges And Prospects / Bidyut Chakrabarty

Regarding The Pain Of Others / Susan Sontag

Violence:  Six Sideways Reflections / Slavoj Žižek

How we react as individuals and as a nation to senseless acts of violence defines us. I suspect that striking a balance between the closed fist of vengeance and the open hand of peace will go a long way toward deciding how we write the next chapter.

–Scott P.


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Sins of the City

There are a million stories in the Steel City’s library system. These are two of them.

Black Lotus, K’wan

Detective James Wolf is a good cop who gets results; he’s also a loose cannon who bends rules to suit his own needs. This infuriating combination is exactly what’s needed to solve the gruesome murder of a priest. Temporarily transferred from narcotics to homicide, WolfKwan is given carte blanche to find the killer, who left only one piece of evidence behind: a rare black flower. Wolf’s investigation sends him into a tangled web of secrets, lies and scandal that eventually leads to a cold case from his own shady past. Before it’s over, everybody’s dirty laundry will be hung out to dry, for better or worse. Fast-paced, suspenseful stuff for readers who like police procedurals and other psychological thrillers.

Available in print, Playaway, digital audio, Kindle and EPUB formats.

Kiss the Ring, Meesha Mink

Naeema Cole gave her son Brandon up for adoption, but secretly kept tabs on him to make sure he was growing up right. All of her dreams for him went up in smoke, however, when Brandon was murdered at age fourteen. The three other boys he ran with were the prime kisstheringsuspects, but the police couldn’t prove anything, and everybody walked. Desperate for justice, Naeema transforms herself into Queen, a tough-talking character disguise that helps her infiltrate the boys’ social circle … which turns out to be a bank robbery ring.

The atmosphere is tense as Naeema struggles not to blow her cover, taking greater and greater risks as she searches for the truth, including possibly losing her heart to the leader of the gang, against all logic and her own better judgment. Sizzling with suspense, sex and surprise plot twists, Kiss the Ring will have thriller and romantic suspense readers eagerly turning pages until the end, at which point they can pick up the sequel, All Hail the Queen.

Both titles available in print only.

Ask the library staff about these and other pulse-pounding tales of street justice, and tell us about your favorites in the comments section!

–Leigh Anne

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