Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Genre-fication: Now Making YA Books Easier to Find!

Are you tired of sifting through ten paranormal books to find the historical novel you've been longing for?  Really like horror but can never find any because there are too many mushy romances in the way?  Not in Newport Library's revamped YA section, not anymore!

Young adult books are now categorized in different genres to make it easier to browse for the kind of books you like to read.  All the fiction is color-coded into twelve categories, which are alphabetized on the YA shelves.  Can't get enough Hunger Games? Go Dystopian.  Love your rewritten fairy tales?  Try Fairy.  Looking for something light about friendship and romance? Sweet & Sassy is for you.  

There's a guide to genres posted on the YA shelves, explaining what all the categories are. For example, AA is Action-Adventure: spies, thrillers, and daring tales of survival.  And PARA equals Paranormal: where the weird and magical happen in your everyday town or high school.

Deciding on the genre of certain books can be a little tricky: what to do with action-packed historical paranormal romances, or time-travelling mysteries set in post-apocalyptic dystopias?  We tried to decide based on the strongest or most important feature of the book, but that's often subjective.  If you read a book and discover that it's much more of a Sweet & Sassy than a Mystery, or that it's more Science Fiction than Horror, please let us know!

As a matter of fact, we'd love to hear what you think of all of the ongoing changes at our community library.  Chat with a staff member, contact us online, or slip a comment into our suggestion box by the circulation desk.  Thanks!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Meet and Greet Databases!

Whenever I use a library database to help someone find what they need, they usually say “I didn’t know you had that!” With that in mind, I’ll be introducing a few of our databases every now and then, with the hope that when you need one, you’ll think, “oh, yeah, I can get that information from the library!”

LegalForms - Have you ever needed a legal form, and spent way too much time searching the internet, to no avail? We subscribe to an Oregon Legal Forms database, which provides a wide selection of legal forms across the most popular legal areas. Included are real estate contracts, wills, pre-marital agreements, bankruptcy, divorce, landlord/tenant and many others.

GREENR (Global Reference on the Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources) - Do you need to brush up on an environmental issue? You can go to GREENR to learn about topics as diverse as Aquaculture, Biofuel Energies, and Carbon Markets to Urban Farming, Vegetarianism, and Water Privatization. Each topic includes an overview, articles from academic journals and magazines, and links to relevant websites. - Folks who like to do their own car repairs have relied on Chilton Car Repair manuals for decades. All of the information from those books is available from home, through It includes thousands of year, make and model combinations covering the most popular vehicles of the past 30 years, plus additional coverage of specialty models.

Our databases are always available, accessible to anyone with a Newport Library card. Take a look at our website; you might find just what you were looking for!  If you need help setting up your PIN, you can call us at 541-265-2153 and we can help.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Dangerous Young Nuns

I am not exaggerating when I say I have pretty much read (or started to read and decided I didn't want to finish) every young adult fantasy novel in our library system that features smart and strong female protagonists.  Seriously, I have read more books about girls wielding swords than I care to count. So. Many. Swords. 

This being said, you can imagine my delight when a taut, muscular (I love it when books are described in those terms) trilogy of books about teenage nun-assassins rocking out in fifteenth century Brittany arrived at the library. These girls know their stuff and manage to successfully deal with the respective missions they are assigned to with major craftiness, or, failing that, righteous fighting moves. 

Author Robin LaFevers totally nails historical fantasy fiction in these books. Her skill at seamlessly weaving fantasy elements into straight historical fact is on par with Marion Zimmer Bradley, Libbra Bray, and Diana Gabaldon. As strange and unlikely as this series' premise of murderous novitiates exacting vengeance sounds, it is most definitely worth your time if you're any sort of fantasy fan. I recommended this series to both my refined, literature-loving mom and my wild, pink-haired artist friend and they both gave rave reviews. Here are the publisher's rundowns:

Grave Mercy

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where she learns that the god of Death has blessed her with dangerous gifts--and a violent destiny.

Dark Triumph
Sybella's duty as Death's assassin in 15th-century France forces her return home to the personal hell that she had finally escaped. 

Mortal Heart 

Annith's worst fears are realized when she discovers that, despite her lifelong training to be an assassin, she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever shut up in the convent of Saint Mortain. 

For more Newport Library staff favorites, click here!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The secret garden within

Imagine a sickly, foul-tempered little girl who loves no one and whom no one loves. She lives in India with her parents, who abandon her to the care of servants. When a cholera outbreak ravages her household, the orphaned Mary Lennox is sent to England to live in Misselthwaite Manor with her reclusive uncle, Archibald Craven.

Thus begins The Secret Garden, a 1993 film based on the 1910 novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Mary’s life turns around when she learns of a secret garden on the estate, which belonged to the late Mistress Craven. She also discovers a young cousin, Colin, hidden away in a wing of the manor, and confined to a wheelchair. As the children work to restore the garden, the garden returns the favor, nurturing the latent hope and love in their hearts.

The Secret Garden will be shown at the library on Tuesday, December 9 at 6:30 p.m. All ages are welcome, and popcorn will be served.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Murder in the Arctic

If you enjoy the national parks mysteries of Nevada Barr, the Native American mysteries of Tony Hillerman, or the Alaskan mysteries of Dana Stabenow, here’s a new series for you—MJ McGrath’s mysteries featuring half-Inuit hunting guide Edie Kiglatuk, starting with White Heat.

Kiglatuk lives in the northern Arctic, where the world is all ice and rock. The geography, history, and culture of the region and of the Inuit people are an integral part of the book. I picked it up because of the murder mystery, but like many people, I really enjoy learning about distant lands through fiction, and the northern Arctic is a new one for me.

White Heat opens when one of Kiglatuk's clients is shot during a hunting trip, and the local council blackmails her into agreeing it was a suicide. She’s drawn into a long affair that spans countries, unveils corruption, and unmasks evil close to home. When one of her family is killed and those in power want that brushed under the rug, too, Kiglatuk is forced to face her fears that her client’s death was a sign of a greater conspiracy. She is the only one motivated and tenacious enough to seek justice at any cost.

White Heat is the first book in this series, and promises lots of action, lots of seal-blood soup and walrus meat, and a greater understanding of life in a harsh land of ice where night lasts an entire season. It is also available as an audiobook through Library2Go.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Cutting edge speculative fiction: Southern Reach

The Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer is comprised of Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance.

The settings:
  • Area X, where a large and possibly growing strangeness has impinged on a coastal community
    • the lighthouse
    • the topographical anomaly, sunk deep into the ground but perceived by the consciousness as a tower
    • the swamp
  • Southern Reach, the bureaucratic governmental response to Area X, in the form of a collection of brick buildings, a border crossing, watchtowers, and the people who staff them

 A few major characters:
  • The biologist: the main character and only point-of-view character of Annhilation. She’s a member of the latest expedition to venture into Area X under the guidance of Southern Reach. Stripped of her name, conditioned by drugs, hypnosis and other forms of mind control to withstand some of the previously observed effects of Area X, she may be destined to be the only survivor, depending on how you define survival.\
  • John Rodriguez/Control: The incoming director of Southern Reach, and the main character of Authority. A man whose determination to succeed is met and undermined by the horrific, extensive, and mysterious effects of Area X on his staff and himself.
  • Gloria/Cynthia: The previous director of Southern Reach, whose secret past ties her to the nascence of Area X.  Most present in Acceptance

This series is unusual, even bizarre. It may be classified as science fiction or even horror, but it’s narrated so intimately that it feels more like an in-depth study of human nature and what a truly alien influence or presence or attempt to communicate or attack might look like. After years of humanoid TV aliens, whose cultures are just instructive fun-house versions of human culture, it’s kind of wonderful to force your mind to contend with the truly alien, and how limited and limiting is our human perspective in the context of the universe.

Science fiction books definitely do this better than television—CJ Cherryh comes to mind, and Sherri S. Tepper, but Vandermeer has snuck up on it from a different direction. If this intrigues you, please give it a read. For me, the first book was fascinating and the last one a bit of a let down (I tend to enjoy the inexplicable more than the explication, no matter how vague) but I expect this series is bizarre enough and amorphous enough that many different interpretations will exist.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Empty Chair

The Newport Public Library will host a screening by filmmaker Greg Chaney of his film, The Empty Chair, on Saturday, November 29 at 2:00 p.m. The Empty Chair is a documentary about how Japanese Americans from Juneau, Alaska were sent to prison camps during WWII and how the small Alaskan community stood in quiet defiance against the internment of American citizens.

The Tanaka Family
Japanese immigrants came to Alaska in the early 1900's and settled there to raise families. Several Japanese Americans from Juneau, Alaska were sent to prison camps by the US government from 1942-1945 because all people of Japanese heritage were considered national security risks.

John Tanaka's graduation ceremony
Among them was John Tanaka, who was born and raised in Juneau. In 1942 John was going to be the Valedictorian of his high school graduating class but was interned before the graduation ceremony. In response, the school board voted to hold a special early graduation ceremony for him before John was sent to a relocation camp for Japanese Americans. When the official graduation ceremony was held for the class of '42 they set aside an empty chair on the platform to acknowledge his absence.

The Empty Chair Memorial in Juneau, Alaska
John Tanaka volunteered to join the US Army to fight the Axis powers during WWII while his family was confined in the Minidoka Idaho relocation camp. He was a member of the 442nd regimental combat team. This Japanese American unit was the most decorated Army unit for its length of service.

The Empty Chair documentary is composed of interviews of survivors from that period, rare historical photos, never before seen archival footage, US Government documentaries and historical accounts. All of these sources are woven together to draw the viewer back into this little know chapter of American history.

Chaney, the son of Newport resident Patsy Brookshire, was born in Oregon but has lived in Juneau, Alaska since 1982. Greg describes his filmmaking as "an out of control hobby." He is keeping his day job as Juneau's Lands and Resources Manager, but continues to work on diverse movie projects after hours. His projects have been as diverse as short comedies, music videos extending up to feature length documentaries. His films have been selected for dozens of film festivals and have been shown on every continent except Antarctica. Over time he has collected a handful of awards, his favorites being "Best of Fest" at the Anchorage International Film Festival and a "Special Jury Award" from the Banff Mountain Film Festival for his documentary Journey on the Wild Coast.

This program is free and open to the public.