A Tangled Web of Crazy

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The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas is one of the best books that I’ve read in a long time. It’s a young adult book, but it reads like an adult thriller. One of the aspects of the novel that drew me to it was the setting. It’s set in Fayette County, PA, which is where my mother and her sisters grew up. Pittsburgh is even mentioned in the novel a few times.

The story centers around Tessa Lowell, who left Fayette County 10 years ago to live with her grandmother in Florida. She comes back to visit her father who is dying in prison. She left Fayette after she helped put Wyatt Stokes in prison for the murder of Lori Cawley, her friend Callie Greenwood’s cousin. Cawley was visiting for the summer from college. Tessa and Callie hadn’t spoken to each other since the trial, and Callie wasn’t happy to see Tessa, especially since she would be staying with the Greenwoods for the duration of her visit.

As the book goes on, readers learn that Tessa and Callie lied about seeing Stokes the night that Lori Cawley was murdered. Tessa and Callie go on a wild goose chase throughout the novel to discover the real killer. One of their childhood friends, Ariel Kouchinsky, is murdered and they try to find her killer as well for most of the book. As the novel goes on, Tessa discovers secrets about her family, former friends and even her own origin.

In addition to trying to find Ariel & Lori’s killer, Tessa is trying to find her mother, Annette, and her sister, Joslin, who ran away when she was a teenager after a fight with their mother. It’s a novel full of twists and turns. Every time, I thought that I had figured out who the killer was another plot twist was thrown my way. It’s an excellent book and is definitely worth reading. The Darkest Corners is available to request in our catalog in print format only. It will be released on April 19th. Happy reading!

~Kayla

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March Recap

March contains some great celebrations: It’s Women’s History Month, there’s St. Patrick’s Day and International Women’s Day, March Madness, spring flowers start blooming and, of course, all the great posts we put up here on Eleventh Stack!

Cover of All About Love by bell hooksFor Women’s History Month, Natalie looked at women in the workplace and guest blogger Adina wrote about Emma Watson’s feminist book club Our Shared Shelf.

Ginny highlighted the many wonderful volunteers and organizations that were nominated for our Community Advocate and Outstanding Partner Award and shared resources that helped her become a better mentor. Guest blogger Ian shared his experiences running and how you can help raise money for the Library with the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon.

Amy E. reviewed The Witch of Lime Street by David Jaher, and explored America’s flirtations with spiritualism in the 1920s, while Scott M. explored popular philosophy and Suzy shared some silly picture books.

We didn’t write about basketball at all, but Abbey covered The Tournament of Books, and Jess continued her reading challenge with the third title in the Red Rising trilogy.

bookcoverOn the literary front, Leigh Anne wrote about accomplished female poet C.D. Wright, Kayla questioned Tessa Hadley’s The Past and enjoyed The Girl in the Red Coat. Melissa remembered the late novelist Pat Conroy.

Ross really appreciated actress Brie Larson in her many roles, and looked at Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and geeked out over Batman v. Superman. Joelle gave props to character actors, Whitney recommended the television show Outlander, and Tara explored the world of foreign TV.

Megan shared her love for cooking, and Ginny updated us on her 50 cakes project.

Happy Spring!

-Team Eleventh Stack

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Celebrating Diversity With Our Shared Shelf

Are you looking for a way to recognize Women’s History Month this March? Are you seeking an environment to discuss books, politics, culture, and so much more with thousands of people from around the world? What about challenging your reading list for 2016?

If so, check out Harry Potter actress Emma Watson’s new book club on Goodreads.com.

Everyone knows Watson from her role as Hermione in Harry Potter, but more recently, Watson became a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for women’s equality.

If you haven’t watched Emma’s speech introducing the HeForShe campaign for equality, see the video below.

As part of her work with the UN, Watson started an online book club in January called “Our Shared Shelf.” Within the first month, the group’s membership surpassed 100,000. Right now the number stands at 120,947.

What makes this book club so special? Watson’s fame draws large and diverse groups of readers from around the world into a discussion about gender, equality, politics, culture and more. Some discussion topics include “Books and Censorship,” “Fighting Domestic Violence” and “Feminism for All.” Other discussions focus on the books themselves, planning in person meet-ups around the globe, and pay-it forward schemes to pass along copies of books for those who need them. I love checking up on the group and reading through the conversations posted, occasionally sharing my own thoughts.

Cover of My Life on The RoadThe first title was My Life on the Road by longtime activist Gloria Steinem. This memoir acknowledges the rich history of women’s rights activists (like Steinem and many others), who worked tirelessly for so many years to advance women’s rights in the United States. While highlighting some of the key moments in the Women’s Lib movement, Steinem also focuses her book on traveling and the important friendships she made throughout her journey.

Cover of The Color PurpleOur Shared Shelf celebrated Black History Month in February with The Color Purple, by Alice Walker. Even though I read this book a few years ago, I decided to re-read with a fresh perspective and hear what so many other group members had to say. For anyone who hasn’t had a chance to read this powerful novel, I highly recommend reading the book or watching the movie adaptation (starring Oprah Winfrey). There’s even a Broadway musical based on the book!

Cover of All About Love by bell hooksMarch’s selection honors another American author and feminist, bell hooks in All About Love: New Visions. A meditation on love in modern society, hooks explores the ways men and women have been conditioned by their culture to express and receive love. Hooks emphasizes our need to love more respectfully, selflessly, and honestly. I’m very excited to start reading this month’s book!

If I’ve caught your interest, reserve a copy of All About Love: New Visions, and if you want to keep up on what Emma Watson is reading, head on over to Goodreads and read some of the conversations going on right now! In the ever-flowing dialogue about equality, each voice makes a difference. Share yours in the comments!

-Adina H.

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50 Cakes Project Update

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Current life motto. Print by Holly van Who.

Remember when I said I wanted to bake 50 cakes in one year? This ridiculous undertaking is still going on. If you’ve ever thought about putting stock into the butter industry, now’s the time, my friends.

I’m almost halfway to my goal. I’ve tackled my fear of layer cakes (spoiler alert: no one really cares about your uneven layers when they are eating delicious homemade cake), listened to tons of Beyonce, spent an embarrassing amount of time pouring over cookbooks, made my first vegan cake and managed to flambé some cherries without causing myself bodily harm.

Here’s a glance at the first half  of my cake project, along with links to the books where I got the recipes; my favorites are in bold.

  1. Lemon Sour Cream Pound Cake (All Cakes Considered by Melissa Gray)
  2. Brown Sugar Pound Cake (All Cakes Considered)
  3. Cinnamon Almond Coffee Cake (All Cakes Considered)
  4. Pumpkin Spice Latte Cake
  5. Chocolate Pound Cake (All Cakes Considered)
  6. Ginger Apple Torte (Food 52 Cookbook: Volume 2)
  7. Cinnamon Roll Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
  8. Coconut-Buttermilk Poundcake
  9. Honey Nut Snack Cake
  10. Luscious Cream Cheese Pound Cake (Bake Happy by Judith Fertig)
  11. Chocolate Truffle Cake  (Bake Happy)
  12. Vegan Devil’s Food Cake with Coconut-Coffee Frosting (Bake Happy)
  13. Chocolate Whiskey Cake
  14. Blood Orange Upside Down Cake (Honey and Jam: Seasonal Baking from my Kitchen in the Mountains by Hannah Queen)

  15. Chocolate Butter Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (CakeLove: How to Bake Cakes from Scratch by Warren Brown)
  16. Vanilla Cupcakes (I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence by Amy Sedaris)
  17. Neely’s Cookies N Cream Cake
  18. Devil’s Food Cake with Angel Frosting (Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis)
  19. Yellow Butter Cake with Peanut Butter Crunch Buttercream (CakeLove)
  20. Sunday Night Cake (Baked Explorations)
  21. Brooklyn Blackout Cake
  22. Chocolate Cherry Torte (Baking, From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan)
  23. No-Mixer Cake (CakeLove)
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What about Make Cake & Drink Cocktails? (Print by Nina J. Charlotte)

Why not try baking a few cakes yourself? Reserve one (or ten) of our delicious cake-baking books now!

-Ginny

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Get Into Cooking

bookcover_cookingI love food, especially desserts, but I hate to cook. Yes, I’ve been known to yell at kitchen utensils. Luckily for me, my husband has adopted cooking and baking as a hobby, and made it his mission to bake the perfect pound cake.

It may not be good for my waistline, but the rest of me is thrilled. He even made whipped cream from scratch recently. We had some pound cake and fresh strawberries, so naturally we needed some cream to complete the picture.

If you or someone you know shares his love of cooking, you may find these books instructive. My husband certainly has.

Cooking For Geeks: Real Science, Great Cooks, and Good Food by Jeff Potter

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The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion: The All-purpose Baking Cookbook

And, of course, where would we be without our old friend Betty Crocker?

The library has many more to help you get inspired. Maybe you’ll be the one to perfect your favorite recipe.

Tell us about your go-to cookbooks in the comments.

-Megan

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Run for a Reason

On Sunday, May 1, 2016, runners will take to the streets to participate in the 2016 DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon. This year, not only can you run in any of the events of that weekend, but you can also raise money for the Carnegie Library while doing so! Currently, runners and Library-lovers have raised close to $1,000; if you are interested in running or donating, check it out here!

Run for the library I used to be a biker. Or a cyclist. Whatever the preferred title is. When I started working for CLP in 2002 I rode my bike to work four or five days per week, climbing up 18th street to CLP – Knoxville where I performed my duties as a children’s specialist. On the weekends I’d go for long bike rides; I rode my bike to the store, to run errands, I rode it everywhere. In 2011, I rode it all around the city in the 48.4 mile Cycle for CLP tour of all Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh locations. If there was a day that I didn’t ride the bike (whether due to fatigue, extreme weather or just simple laziness) I’d be cranky and irritable. In the winter, if there was snow on the ground I might run a few miles every once in awhile, but that was about it.

But over the years a change took place and I have ever so slowly, and at times, reluctantly, become a runner. Now, I haven’t touched the bike for months, but in 7 weeks I am going to lace up my running shoes and run 30,000 or so steps to raise money for literacy and learning.

Way back in 2002 (or even 2010), if someone had told me that I’d be running a marathon I wouldn’t have believed them, and said there’s no way that would ever happen.  

In 2011, on a whim I signed up for the Pittsburgh Sprint Triathlon. After panicking, flailing around and hyperventilating in the open water, I completed the bike and run portions of the race. I finished realizing that I needed to work on being a better swimmer, and perhaps a runner too. After hours and hours spent in pools, rivers and lakes, I still can barely swim. But I begged a couple of friends who were accomplished runners to let me run with them. The first time I ran with my friend Garrett in Frick Park was not a blissful experience: It was cold … and icy … and I was miserable much of the time. We ran a little over eight miles, and afterward, I could barely walk for two days (Does this sound like fun yet?). Every muscle in my legs was so sore it took me five minutes to walk up and down the stairs.

Yet I persisted. Each weekend I’d run somewhere in the eight-nine mile range, and the runs got easier. One Sunday morning, I ended up running 13 miles with a friend, and he told me, “Hey. If you can do 13, you can probably run the full marathon.”  I balked, but you know what? He was right. I ran longer and longer distances each weekend, came home, ate myself into a food coma, and slept all afternoon on the couch. My training plan that first year was very much in the vein of “I run long distances for the worst possible reason: I run to eat.” I have now become one of those people that feels that running for two-three hours is something reasonable to do on a Sunday morning. It can be blissful and sometimes painful, but most of all I find it meditative. Running is where I practice my storytelling for children’s and teen programming; where I think through management issues at work; or just plain daydream about video games, clocks and cooking. Some people practice yoga or meditate. For me, running is a chance to spend a couple of hours alone with my thoughts.   

If anyone out there has contemplated running a half- or full-marathon, or starting smaller with a 5K or 10K, here are some library resources to get you started.

Run Your First Marathonbook1

 

 

 

 

book2.pngFeet, Don’t Fail Me Now

 

 

 

 

book3The Runner’s World Big Book of Running for Beginners

 

 

 


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The Complete Running & Marathon Book

 

 

 

 

See you on May 1st!

 

-Ian

 

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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

After work tomorrow I’ll be nestling into a cushioned seat for almost three hours to watch Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Like all nerds, I’ve been waiting a long time to see these two titans of comic-dom appear together on the big screen in live-action. It’s been an excruciating week, as I’ve tried to remain spoiler-free, but I only have one more day to go! If you can’t get out there to see it this weekend or if you don’t like a numb butt, the Library has plenty of Batman and Superman materials for your enjoyment.

Check out the rest of Zack Snyder’s filmography:
Whether you think he’s a visionary or a slightly-less awful version of Michael Bay, we’ve got all of Zack Snyder’s past films, most of them on glorious Blu-ray. While some of his films have been hit or miss for me (I agree with pretty much everything YouTube user Bored Girlfriend said in her review of 300), there’s no denying that Snyder has an eye for great visuals. Even his first film, Dawn of the Dead, had the bones of his signature stylish flair, and although I’m not as big a fan or Superman as I am of Batman, I didn’t hate Man of Steel as vehemently as some—the Smallville fight is great. After Batman v Superman, Snyder has the two-part Justice League lined up and maybe a remake of The Fountainhead. Seriously.

Check out the other films of the actors portraying these characters:
For a man who waxes philosophically about animal crackers and is the brother of SNL’s Stefon, I can understand why the Internet lost its collective mind when Ben Affleck was cast as Batman. But watching Gone Girl soon after the announcement I realized that, besides having incredible biceps, maybe Affleck was a good actor. As far as Superman, Henry Cavil has only been in about a third as many films as Batfleck, but the Library has most of them. He’s especially charming in last year’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E.  Also appearing in Batman v Superman is Wonder Woman, making her big screen debut. Warner Bros. cast the relative unknown Gal Gadot, most known for the increasingly confusingly titled Fast & Furious franchise

Check out the past iterations of Batman and Superman on film:
With Man of Steel and this film, WB is launching the DC Extended Universe, not unlike the gargantuan Marvel Cinematic Universe. While Richard Donner’s Superman films or Christopher Nolan’s Batman films have no ties to the new DCEU, it’s still interesting to go back and look at the cinematic history of these two iconic characters, like when they appeared together in animation in The Batman Superman Movie: World’s Finest. Many of the comic stories have been adapted into standalone animated movies, too. And speaking of comics …

Check out the comics and graphic novels:
BatmanTDKR-frank-miller
Remember comics, the source material for all these superhero movies? We’ve got them in print as well as on Hoopla. While Batman and Superman first met on a cruise ship in 1952 (for real), pay special attention to Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns as Snyder has said he’s drawing inspiration from it for his version of Batman. I realize I’m in the minority, but I never really cared for TDKR. I know, heresy! I have, however, always liked the idea of a grizzled, veteran Batman, so I’m looking forward to seeing that interpreted on screen. Regardless of how you feel about Miller’s involvement with the Caped Crusader—from his Batman: Year One to the meme-birthing All-Star Batman and Robin—there’s no denying the impact TDKR had on modern Batman. It’s not out of the question to speculate that without Frank Miller paving the way for a darker Batman in the ’80s, we’d have never gotten Burton’s Batman.

Check out some supplemental materials:
Did you know a huge inspiration of Superman was the John Carter of Mars stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs? Did you know that Batman was inspired by the 1920 film The Mark of Zorro and characters like Sherlock Holmes and Dick Tracy? The Library has materials on all those subjects and more. Want to find out the secret history of Wonder Woman or what Batman’s and Superman’s views on philosophy are? Have you ever wanted to visit Metropolis (Illinois) and check out the Supermuseum? We’ve got you covered.

You could also keep watching the second trailer for Suicide Squad, the next entry in the DCEU, based on the series of the same name. It premiers August 5.

Did I leave anything out? Are you excited about the film? Let me know in the comments below!

–Ross

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