Psychics in Fiction

30 Oct

crystal-ballDid you know that October 31st is Increase Your Psychic Powers Day?

I didn’t know it. Guess that means I’m not psychic. But I was curious so, like a good librarian, I began researching the topic. And discovered… Well, not a whole lot.

The day is rumored to have its origins in England back in the nineteenth century even though no one seems to have heard of this holiday until recently. Halloween is regarded as the day when the veil between the physical world and the spiritual world is weakest, so some believe if you are going to try out your psychic powers October 31 is the best day to do it.

I guess if I were psychic I would have known all about it.

Anyway, I decided to abandon the research and delve into the world of fiction. And here I hit paydirt. Literature abounds with tales of psychics.

Irish GoldAndrew Greeley, famous for his Blackie Ryan mysteries, also has a series about Nuala Anne McGrail, Irish immigrant, beautiful, a gifted singer, and, oh yes, psychic. She uses her psychic skills to solve mysteries. The first book in this series of twelve is Irish Gold.

In Too DeepThe Arcane Society novels by Amanda Quick and Jayne Ann Krentz (who just happen to be the same person) revolve around a mysterious society of people with psychic powers. The Amanda Quick books are set in England at the end of the nineteenth century. The Krentz books are all modern. All the tales are romantic suspense with a dash of psychic power.

Sleeping with FearKay Hooper has a mystery series that is described as psychic suspense. Her hero is FBI agent Noah Bishop, whose rare gift for seeing what others do not helps him solve the most puzzling cases. The books are denoted by the tagline Bishop/Special Crimes Unit and as of 2013 there fifteen titles in the series.

There are many, many more great novels about psychics. If you have a feeling you’d like to peruse a few, here is a short list, in no particular order, of ten more popular titles:

  1. Road Dogs by Elmore Leonard
  2. The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
  3. By the Light of the Moon by Dean Koontz
  4. Pandora’s Daughter by Iris Johansen
  5. Before I Say Goodbye by Mary Higgins Calrk
  6. Darkness My Old Friend by Lisa Unger
  7. What I Had Before I Had You by Sarah Cornwell
  8. The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho
  9. The Dead Path  by Stephen Irwin
  10. The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

For a lengthier list of titles, concentrate really, really hard… Or just click this link and peruse our catalog.

Halloween with the Autistic Child

28 Oct

autism-awareness-mini-ribbon-car-magnetHalloween is coming fast! Holidays are often confusing times for the autistic child. They want to participate like everyone else, but too much change in routine or clothing can create problems. While older, less-impaired children can have input into what they like or don’t like, what do you do with the young or more severely-impaired child? As the parent of a profoundly impaired son with autism, here are some of my holiday-saving tips:

1) It’s okay to say to no. Autism is fickle second to second. Halloween was a snap last year, this year everything is a meltdown. It’s okay to skip this year. Next year may be a winner again. If all else fails, have the child stay home and pass out the candy.
2) Keep costumes simple. No masks. Little to no face paint. Nothing that feels unnatural. Nothing out of the ordinary like giant wings or high heeled shoes. No gloves to decrease already shaky sensory input. No strings or fringe to obsess on. No beads that can be picked off and eaten. Make sure sleeves are close-fitting. Flapping is an issue with some children: don’t risk accidents in this season of open candles.
3) Allow the child the right to say no. If there’s a decoration at a house that scares them, allow them to skip that house.
4) Keep it short. Participating doesn’t mean you have to hit every house in a two-mile radius. The year of the October Blizzard, rockford-peaches-mens-jerseywhen no one had power for Halloween and the festivities were “canceled”, it was impossible to explain the situation to my younger foster son. We dressed him up anyway, stopped at both grandparent homes and a neighbor who was in on it, and he got to “trick or treat” on that all-important correct day. Three houses was enough. Meltdown avoided.

So what do you do, then? How can you have a costume without all the cool trappings? Keep it simple, keep it real. J. has a  baseball jersey. Paired with a ball cap and a pair of matching sweatpants, he’s gone as a baseball player several times. The clothes are normal to him. Firemen. Policemen. A barbecue chef in an apron. A nurse or doctor in scrubs. Any community job you can show the child in a book and they can relate to. Dancers, the lady who cuts hair, the bus driver, a mommy with a doll and a stroller or shopping cart. Bob the Builder, with a pair of jeans, a plaid shirt, a tool belt, and a yellow hard hat. Very simple, very easy.

fp-pumpkin-ponchoIf you want to get fancier, create something easy that goes over their clothes. We have an orange fleece poncho with a pumpkin face made out of felt and glued on the front. A couple of felt leaves and a brown stem sewn to a green hat, and we had a pumpkin costume. Because it’s a fleece poncho, it’s not only warm, but fit for several years. A cat costume out of black clothing, a pinned-on tail, and felt ears either glued to a headband or a hat.  A hobo clown, with mismatched plaid shirt, baggy jacket, and ragged pants with a rope belt and touch of red makeup to the nose was another year. Many times kids like capes, so an all-black-clothing Batman with a cape and a hood, or a vampire in white shirt, black pants and cape, and a red ribbon “Medal” made of tinfoil are often well-tolerated. One year we found a Hoodie with skeleton bones on it, added chalk “bones” on a pair of black sweatpants and we’d found our every-day-clothes costume.

Halloween doesn’t have to be a meltdown. Keep it simple, keep it calm, both for your child and yourself. Explain the day as you go: We will stop at ten houses and ask for candy, then we will go home. Try extra-hard to stop only at the homes of people your child knows; for a child with no awareness of stranger-danger, you want to reinforce who is safe and who is not. If all else fails, stay home, play some Halloween music, watch Charlie Brown,  and try again next year. It will get better.

November = National Novel Writing Month

26 Oct


How many of us have ever thought it would be pretty cool to write a novel? Most of us, right? Maybe you’ve had a story idea you’ve been carrying around for years, revisiting it from time to time to add a detail or think through a character, like a pensive twist at an unsolved Rubik’s Cube. Or, maybe you just like the idea of having something that you’ve created and completed yourself. Whatever category you find yourself falling into, November is National Novel Writing Month, and the perfect time to get writing.

Known to insiders as NaNoWriMo (na-noh-RYE-moh), it’s an annual challenge to write 50,000 words during the month of November. It’s free to join and open to any adult: the only requirements are that you must start with fresh material and only work from midnight on November 1st to 11:59pm on November 30th. If you’re under 18, NaNo runs a special Young Writer’s Program for kids and teens with slightly different word goals.

If 50,000 words sounds like a huge number, you’re right. It works out to 1667 words a day, about the same as five typed pages of 12-point double-spaced text. It’s nearly impossible to write anything other than a very rough first draft of a novel, and that’s completely by design: to get to 50,000 words, you have to shut off your inner editor and become a high-velocity writing machine for 30 days. It doesn’t have to be good. It just has to be.

So what do you win if you reach the goal of 50,000 words? Mainly bragging rights and the satisfaction of knowing you were able to complete the challenge. There’s no monetary prize or anything, but you do get coupons for some writing products. And at our NaNoWriMo 101 program on October 16th, Diane Scarponi, the Municipal Liaison for the CT Shoreline area, informed us that one particularly sweet coupon from CreateSpace entitles you to two free printed paperback copies of your novel if you hit the 50k word goal. Hooray!

For many NaNoWriMo writers, two copies isn’t enough: they want to share their novel with the world. Those who want to publish their work – after editing the daylights out of that first draft, of course – have a choice between self-publishing and traditional publishing. (It’s the same in the music industry: think musicians selling CDs out of a van, versus getting a contract with a major label.) It’s a tough game, but lots of authors who started their drafts during NaNoWriMo have gotten their finished projects into print via traditional publishers, and several of those novels have even gone on to become bestsellers.

The following titles all started as NaNoWriMo drafts, and against the odds, they’ve been published by major publishing houses and have made it onto the bestseller lists – and onto our shelves here at the library. Maybe you’ve already read them!



Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Perhaps the best known NaNo novel of them all, this was made into a film a few years back that starred Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon.

 The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Another circus-themed read that has been making the book discussion rounds since it came out in 2011.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
The first installment of a super-popular YA series that features cyborgs, plagues, and outer space. You’ve got our attention!

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
The author of the bestselling Eleanor & Park didn’t rest on her laurels after it began appearing on bestseller lists. No, she decided to write 100,000 words during NaNoWriMo 2011.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Perkins’ debut novel and the first in a series of three young adult romances, NPR called it one of the best teen reads for 2010.

The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough
Before you start thinking NaNoWriMo writers are only doing chick lit and teen books, you have to know there’s some hardcore science fiction writers out there cracking their knuckles and then frantically typing. Hough’s Dire Earth Cycle, a trilogy of sci-fi thrillers starting with The Darwin Elevator, got its start during NaNoWriMo.


Are you doing NaNoWriMo in 2014? Let us know in the comments, or stop by during one of our scheduled Write-In Wednesdays on 11/5 from 5-9 pm and 11/19 from 5-9 pm!


Great Graphic Novels for Young Adults

23 Oct


If you have not been in our teen or children’s area lately you might not know that we have a solid collection of graphic novels for both age groups. The collections include the expected superhero books, but there are also classic stories and non fiction books in graphic novel format. There is also a large collection of Manga in the teen section that garners a large amount of attention for older children and teens. I would highly suggest taking a look at these collections and checking out the wide variety and high quality of graphic novels that have been released in the last few years. Just because the book is shelved in the teen section, that does not mean adults of all ages cannot enjoy them as well. However, if you are uncomfortable checking these out yourself we also have a growing collection of adult graphic novels.

 1.The King’s Dragon by Scott Chantler

2.Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff

3. Dogs of War by Sheila Keenan

4. Primates: the Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani & Maris Wicks

5. The War Within these Walls by Aline Sax

6. The Adventures of Superhero Girl  by Faith Erin Hicks

7. War Brothers: the Graphic Novel by Sharon E. McKay, Daniel Lafrance ; art by Daniel Lafrance

8.Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey by Nick Bertozzi

9. The Sea-Wolf by Jack London ; adapted by Riff Reb’s

10. Bad Machinery. Vol. 1, The Case of the Team Spirit by John Allison

This list barely scratches the surface of great graphic novels that are currently gracing our shelves. In fact, the happens to be a brand new order of graphic novels that need a little attention and then will be ready for you to check out as well. Here are some more books in our collection that are well worth reading as you wait the next batch of new additions; The Undertaking of Lily Chen by Danica Novgorodoff, Hidden: a child’s story of the Holocaust  by Loïc Dauvillier, Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey by Nick Bertozzi, Laddertop. Books 1-2 by Orson Scott Card, Battling Boy by Paul Pope,  Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen & Faith Erin Hicks, Peanut by Ayun Halliday, The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo & Juliet: a play by William Shakespeare by adapted by Gareth Hinds, Saints and Boxers by Gene Luen Yang, Templar  by Jordan Mechner, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: theGgraphic Novel  by Ransom Riggs, and Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and other Things that Happened by Allie Brosh.

New Cozy Mysteries for October 2014

21 Oct

curlThere’s a chill in the air – a great time to curl up with a gentle mystery.  Here are the newest releases of cozy mysteries.  Is your favorite series listed?

Bless Her Dead Little Heart (A Southern Ladies Mystery) by Miranda James

One Potion In The Grave (A Magic Potion Mystery) by Heather Blake

Off Kilter (A Scottish Highlands Mystery) by Hannah Reed

Weave of Absence (A Weaving Mystery) by Carol Ann Martin

A Midwinter’s Tail (A Magical Cats Mystery) by Sofie Kelly

Murder Off The Beaten Path (A Search and Rescue Mystery) by M.L. Rowland

Picked to Die (An Orchard Mystery) by Sheila Connolly

Death of a Christmas Caterer (A Hayley Powell Food and Cocktails Mystery) by Lee Hollis


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