Saturday, March 30, 2019

Here Be Monstress

Recently, when I was flipping through one of the many book catalogs I browse throughout my work day, and image caught my eye. It was the cover of Monstress: The Awakening, written by Marjorie Liu and illustrated by Sana Takeda. I’d been away from reading graphic novels and comics for a while, so I’d never heard of it. But apparently Neil Gaiman, who got me into reading graphic novels with his Sandman series, had heard of it. “Remarkable: A beautifully told story of magic and fear,” he was quoted as saying on the cover. I decided to take his advice and give the book a try.

An image from Monstress.
Now, less than a week later, I’ve got Monstress: The Haven waiting for me on my desk. It’s the third volume in the series. I could barely make the second volume, The Blood, last two days. I tore through the first volume in less than twenty four hours: staying up until midnight to read it despite turning into a pumpkin at 10 PM. I imagine that my friends and coworkers wish I would stop talking about it, and that every time I talk about it I confuse them more. Evil women with vertical eyes? Necromancer cats with multiple tails? A one-armed girl inhabited by a hungry god? Yes. It has all of that, and much more. In fact, the L.A. Review of Books said that Monstress is “as ambitious as George R.R. Martin and J.R.R. Tolkien”.

Beyond its expansive storyline, the illustrations are gorgeous and terrifying by turns. In 2018 both the author and the illustrator of the series won recognition by receiving Eisner awards. This includes Best Writer for Marjorie Liu, who is the first woman to win that award since the creation of the Eisner Awards 30 years ago. Sana Takeda won Best Cover Artist and Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art). She’s only the second woman to ever win Best Cover Artist, and was the first woman of color to receive it.

Eisner Winners Sana (left) and Marjorie (right).

Have I convinced you to give Monstress a try? Remember, you don’t have to take my word on how great it is. You can take Neil Gaiman’s word, the Eisner Awards, or the word of the L.A. Review of Books. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Influences of the Renaissance, Part Two: Giorgio Vasari

Previous post: Influences of the Renaissance, Part One: The Medici
Introduction to Giorgio Vasari, the biographer of the Renaissance.
When was the Renaissance? The  art revolution and the advances in culture and science occurred between the 14th and 17th centuries. In this time there were leaps in technological advances. The Renaissance brought about the submarine, the mechanical clock, the printing press, and eyeglasses. Philosophically, the idea of Humanism put the locus of control in the hands of individuals in contrast to the belief in blind faith.
Giorgio Vasari’s work was considered “some of the Italian Renaissance’s most influential writing on art.” (Art Documentation, Vol 11 # 1, 1992). Vasari profiled roughly 160 artists in his writings, including Renaissance heavy hitters, including:
  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • Michelangelo
  • Botticelli
  • Raphael
  • Donatello, and
  • Filippo Brunelleschi.

Enjoy the beauty of the Renaissance through our extensive collection at the Worcester Public Library. For example:
709.2 VASARI 2006
709.45511 TESTA
726.6 B894zk

Who Was Dr. John Green?

In 2017 the Worcester Public Library received a $30,000 grant earmarked to preserve a portion of the 7,000- volume collection of  given to the city by Dr. John Green in 1859,  for the purpose of establishing a public library.  This small donation, estimated to be worth $10,000 at the time, was the seed from which the holdings of the Worcester Public Library grew.  So, who was Dr. John Green?

Born in 1784, Dr. Green was the son, grandson, and great-grandson of physicians who practiced medicine in first in Leicester, then in Worcester for over 100 years.  His grandfather, also named John Green, is cited in the Worcester town records as having petitioned the town for permission to establish a “pesthouse” for housing victims of smallpox in the 18th century.   Green grew up in the sprawling family home on what is now Green Hill Park surrounded by 10 brothers and sisters. His extended family included Andrew Haswell Green who is considered the “father” of modern New York City, Samuel Swett Green long-time Head Librarian at the Worcester Public Library and renowned pioneer in the field of public librarianship, and Dr. Samuel Fiske Green who practiced medicine in what is now Sri Lanka for many years. Less illustriously, his grandmother’s sister, Bathsheba Spooner was convicted and hanged for murdering her husband in 1777. She is believed to have been buried on Green Hill, although her body has never been found.

In comparison, “our” Dr. John Green and his wife Dolly lived a quiet albeit busy, life.  Green was a well-respected physician whose faithful services were indispensable to the welfare of the burgeoning Worcester community.  For recreation he enjoyed rowing on Lake Quinsigamond but his real passion was collecting books.  In an article published in the Worcester Sunday Telegram in 1964, writer Ruth Frost says “The slight, stooped figure was a familiar sight in bookstores of the early 19th century.  In Boston the man haunted Cornhill shops.  In Worcester…he’d be seen in Clarendon Harris store.  Always the keen eyes were alert for new titles.  You could tell he respected books by the way he handled them…as if they were precious gems. “ 

Unfortunately and perhaps inevitably Dr. Green’s “precious gems” have suffered a good deal of wear and tear since he made his initial donation, and it is in order to honor his legacy that we have committed to preserving the Green Collection.  


Thursday, March 28, 2019

WooReads Patron Book Reviews: Fantasy-Themed Edition

These titles run the gamut of what we consider to be fantasy: from historical
fiction touched with superstition, to a humorous dystopian novel, to a tale that takes us back to Greek mythology, and another of a princess in turmoil.  If none of these are quite your style, WPL has plenty more fantasy titles to choose from.

And while you're immersed in these stories of magic, zombies, gods, and royalty, be sure to show your work by logging what you've read for the WooReads: Adult Reading Challenge!  We have until May 31st to reach our community goal of 5,000 books read.  With 1,715 left to go, every book counts.  Remember, if you log more than 20 books for this challenge you will be entered to win a Kindle Paperwhite.  To catch up, you can log all books read from September 2018 and on!

Happy Reading ☺

The Night Tiger
By Yangtze Choo
An old-fashioned mystery story that brings together a young woman trying to find her way (that involves a dress-making apprenticeship and dance hall excitement) and an orphaned little boy (whose twin has died) set in an evocative time and place (Malaysia/1930’s). Both of these protagonists somehow share literal dreams as they are brought together by the mysterious detached finger of a deceased third character.

~William C.

Early Riser
By Jasper Fforde
Early Riser is what might happen if Salvador Dali married Monty Python and their child wrote a novel about The Clan of the Cave Bear. Classic Jasper Fforde with quirky characters, and completely bizarre settings. What if there were such severe winters that people (humans? Neanderthals?) were forced to hibernate? And then someone came up with a medicine that might help the race survive the winter better but with the unfortunate side effect of turning a tiny percentage into cannibalistic zombies? Charlie Worthing is recruited as a Winter Consul and quickly becomes enmeshed in a mystery involving smugglers, murders, disembodied hands and English stamp collectors. Who can he trust? Not even his dreams…

~Mary R.

By Madeline Miller
This book is an International Best Seller for a reason! It’s not an easy read, for sure. You have to pay attention or you’ll lose some subtle key information. I love the way the stories of Greek Gods are told. It’s such an enjoyable read and I’m glad I stuck with it, despite getting lost a few times!

~Jessica M.

Ash Princess
By Laura Sebastian
This book was amazing! The story flowed so easily and I read it so quickly because I didn't want to put it down. I was immediately invested in the characters of this book. The characters and their relationships were my favorite parts of this book. It has complex emotions and situations for the characters, but they all seem so real and raw. I highly recommend this book!

~Cynthia O.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

WooReads Patron Book Reviews: Biography Edition

First, enjoy these book reviews. Next, browse our Staff Picks: Biography Booklist. Last, read some biographies (or whatever you like) and log them into WooReads: Adult Reading Challenge.

By logging books into the reading challenge, you can help us reach our community goal to read 5,000 books before the end of May. To date, we have read 3,132 books. If you log more than 20 books you will be entered into a drawing to win a Kindle Paperwhite. To catch up, you can log books read from September 2018 and on!

Happy reading!


By Michelle Obama

A wonderful (in the true sense of the word) autobiography that included surprisingly personal insight about being "First Lady", wife, mother and activist. I love Michelle Obama even more after reading her book. (The book was on the "popular reads" shelf!!! What luck!!! Thank you, WPL!)

~Agnes W.

Last Days of Theresienstadt 

By Eva Noack-Mosse

I read a lot of Holocaust and World War Two related books - fiction, nonfiction, memoirs, diaries. I feel it is an important responsibility to remember the experiences of the past.

 While I have read a lot about the experiences of the Holocaust and World War II, I haven’t read much about mixed marriages in Germany, which is what this memoir/diary is about. This diary/memoir is the experiences of Eva, a Jewish woman who was married to an Aryan German. Her experience seems different than many other German Jews of that time; she was from an affluent family and married to an Aryan. She was privileged in many ways. Yet, she and much of her family were not able to escape the horrors of what would become known as the Holocaust. She spent the end of war in Theresientstadt, a hybrid concentration camp and ghetto, working in the Central Evidence office. Due to her work assignment, she had access to camp records, which she took note of in her secret diary.

~Cynthia O.

Born to be Posthumous , the Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey

By Mark Dery

This revealing book about the illustrator (my favorite), Edward Gorey had me spellbound. It went into great depth about Gorey's thinking and foibles and I wasn't really expecting that. The book is a must for all Edward Gorey fans.

~Agnes W.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

WooReads Patron Book Reviews: Innocent Until Proven Guilty

We have 78 days left to read just under 2,000 books to reach our goal in our WooReads: Adult Reading Challenge! Follow the link to sign up and log books to help us reach this lofty goal.

In the meantime, enjoy these crime fiction reviews submitted by our WooReaders and check out our Nordic Noir booklist, too!

The Mercy Rule 

By John Lescroart

I am a fan of Lescroart's books: good writing with wit.

In this book, the topic SEEMS to be assisted suicide, but it's really murder. The twist at the end took me completely by surprise.

~Judi P.

No Mercy

By Joanna Schaffhausen

A great crime thriller novel.

~Emily H.


By Johnathan Kellerman

Good read, spooky, starts at a mental hospital and a patient that murdered a family. He predicts more murders before they happen, how does he predict? Milo gets interested in what is going on, brings Alex Delaware with him. Lots of twists until it is solved.

~Karen S.

Nineteen Minutes 

By Jodi Picoult

Loved this book. Hit a little close go home since I have a child in school and it has to do with school shooting. But I just loved it. Quick read

~Kim W.

I'll Walk Alone: A Novel

By Mary Higgins Clark

Zan Moreland's son is kidnapped. Life is awful especially when the interior designer gets accused. Her ex-husband and the public are all mad at her. Nice twist at the end. Good easy read.

~Karen S.

The Lacemaker's Secret: A Chloe Ellefson Mystery

By Karen Odden

An intriguing mystery with interesting information about the history of lace making in Belgium and its connection to the Belgian community in Wisconsin during WWI. An added bonus is a description of the Peshtigo fire, a forgotten natural disaster of the 1870's. The plot is intertwined with a murder in an historic farmhouse and with Chloe's discovery of her own family's secret. I always enjoy learning something new while trying to puzzle out the solution of these clever mysteries from Kathleen Ernst.

~Mary R.

The Crossing: A Novel 

By Michael Connelly

Good read, fast paced action. Harry Bosch is retired from the police force, takes on a case on the otherside. Is this guy really innocent. Lots of different cases weave together to an exciting end.

~Karen S.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Batgirl: Librarian by day

First appearance (as Barbara Gordon): Detective Comics (DC Comics) #359, January 1967

In the book The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen, comics archivist Hope Nicholson explores comic book heroines of every decade beginning with the 1930s. Her pick for "Icon of the Decade" for the 1960s is Batgirl. When not fighting crime Batgirl spent her days as the head of the Gotham City Public library.

The character Batgirl first appeared in 1961 under the name Betty Kane. In 1967 Barbara Gordon, who became the iconic Batgirl we know today, replaced her. A few months after the comic premiered, Batgirl (played by Yvonne Craig) made an appearance on the Batman TV show.

Batgirl sparked debate about the portrayal of women and librarians in the media. Some think that making Batgirl a librarian (a job typically ascribed to females) was a way to give her a boring day job that made her long for exciting nights of crime fighting; but anyone who has visited WPL knows libraries are anything but boring. The American Library Association (ALA) has even used Batgirl (and LEGO Batgirl) in reading campaigns as a way to reach out to young readers. Although she has gone through many changes, including being a tech adviser to other superheroes (where can I get that job?), Batgirl has remained a strong heroine determined to make the world a better place.

Did you know? In the early 1970s, the U.S. Department of Labor made a public service announcement with Batgirl about equal pay for women. Watch the video here

Want to learn more?
 Continue readingThe Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen where heroines such as Ms. Marvel, Wonder Woman, & Friday Foster are analyzed along with lesser known heroines such as Nelvana of the Northern Lights.

Additional Reading:
-The many lives of Catwoman: the felonious history of a feline fatale by Tim Hanley
Don`t forget to log your books for the WooReads:Adult Reading Challenge! Help us reach 5,000 books by May 31st!

Monday, March 11, 2019

WPL Urban Fiction Expands to Bigger Shelving!

Our Urban Fiction collection at the Main Branch has gotten so big that it’s been moved to a new location! Just off the main aisle of the first floor, these new shelves give Urban Fiction room to grow and meet the needs of you, our patrons. New titles are arriving weekly, and titles not currently available through the Central Western Massachusetts system are being ordered, too! Watch for popular series such as Raised as a Goon by Ghost, Welcome to the Low Life by Natavia, She Got Love in the South by Shan, and more!

While you’re waiting, check out some of the new titles that have already been added to our Urban Fiction. We have several new ones written or presented by Carl Weber, who is a New York Times bestselling author. Mr. Weber has written over 20 novels and is also a huge part of the publishing company called Urban Books. Urban Books is one of the largest African American publishing companies in the United States, and many of our Urban Fiction titles come from Urban Books.

Looking for a little more family drama? New hit men or hustlers? Try Brooklyn Bombshells Part 1: Black Beauty by Erica Hilton, A Hustler’s Queen by Saundra, or Blood Ties by Shaun Sinclair. No matter what you check out from our Urban Fiction, you’re sure to find the gritty stories and steamy scenes you’re craving. And if there’s a book you want that you don’t see, let us know!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

WooReads Patron Book Reviews: Let's Get Cozy

Enjoy another round of reviews from our WooReaders. This week's theme is cozy mysteries. See what our patrons had to say about their recent reads. See something you like? Click the title of the book to link to our catalog. Also check out our Groan-Inducing Cozy Mysteries Booklist!

WooReads Update: We have read 2,861 books. We are 57% of the way to our goal. Log your books, get your friends and family to sign up to log their books, and help us reach our community goal to read 5,000 books before the end of May!

Deader Homes and Gardens
By Joan Hess

I'd been away from this series for a while; this was an enjoyable return. Claire is married and wants to buy a house. She has to solve multiple murders to get it.  RIP Joan Hess.

~Judi P.

Murder at the Mill 
By M.B. Shaw

Fun, twisty British cozy mystery. You might think you have it all figured it out, but then the author slips another surprise your way. The protagonist is an artist, specializing in portraits, which is an interesting angle. Looking forward to the next one in this new series.

~Mary R.

Mrs. Jeffries and the Three Wise Women
By Emily Brightwell

Was an English mystery. Fun, different read. The servants help their policeman master solve crimes.

~Karen S.

The Dead Ringer: An Agatha Raisin Mystery
By M.C. Beaton

Starts off slow, but soon you get right into it and it will be hard to put down.

~Valdajean J.

By Nancy Atherton

I love this series, have been reading for 20+ years. In this edition, Lori basically goes on a wild goose chase, thinking she may be solving a murder. She ends up being quite embarrassed, but as always, goodhearted Finch provides a happy ending.

~Judi P.

The Golden Tresses of the Dead: A Flavia De Luce Novel
By Alan C. Bradley

As always, loved the characters and setting, but I felt the mystery this time was lacking. Flavia is growing up and her family is changing, bringing new dynamics, in a post war way. Unfortunately, the plot was unconvincing and forced. This mystery needed more Flavian chemistry!

~Mary R.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

The Ides of March

“Beware the Ides of March,” says the soothsayer warning Julius Caesar of his impending assassination on March 15. In this play by William Shakespeare, the question of superstition versus the thin veil between the worlds. In this case, Caesar’s failure to listen to dire warnings caused his demise on that exact day.

Available through the Worcester Public Library:
The tragedy of Julius Caesar / Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616.
822.33 SJ8m5 2011

Julius Caesar / Freeman, Philip, 1961-
The death of Caesar: the story of history’s most famous assassination /  Strauss, Barry S.
Brutus: the noble conspirator / Tempest, Kathryn.
937.05092 TEMPEST
Et tu, Brute? : the deaths of the Roman emperors / Novak, Jason, 1979-
937.060922 NOVAK
Essential Shakespeare handbook / Dunton-Downer, Leslie.
822.33 Xd86e

Friday, March 1, 2019

Library Tip: stocking up on bestsellers and new releases without reservation

Want to pick up a few good reads before the weekend? Do you know we have put aside many bestsellers and new releases on Popular Reads table for you? No reservation is needed!

The table is placed on your right as soon as you walk into the main entrance from the parking lot. In addition, friendly librarians are here to help you with any questions. Come on down now! The main library is closed at 5:30 on Friday. For library's hours, click here.

International Mirth Month

What Is Mirth Month?
International Mirth Month was founded by Mr. Jollytologist or Allen Klein. He is the Real life Patch Adams (one of the many funny movies starring Roger Williams). International Mirth encourages everyone throughout the month of March to find humor everywhere and to turn stressful situations into laughable ones. Laughter is one of the many gifts instilled in us all and the gift of laughter has many benefits.

Through a quick search using our online databases, we have found that studies show laughter to be beneficial to our overall health dating far back. Using our Gale resources, under the Health and Wellness Resource center, we found an article written in 2014 referencing works as far back as the Old Testament Prov. 17:22, in which it stated that “A cheer-ful heart is a good medicine” (Wells, 2014).

And today we see the benefits of laughter in helping people who are stressed as well as helping those who are sick. Clowns, therapy dogs, and other influences have been around in hospitals to help those who are suffering from mild to life threatening sickness to laugh and feel the powers of laughter’s healing magic. So much so that a movie was created to show the healing powers of laughter: “ The benefits of laughter in treating the sick captured the public's attention in the 1998 movie Patch Adams, starring Robin Williams as real-life doctor Hunter “Patch” Adams. The movie is based on Adams' experiences treating the poor in rural West Virginia as related in his 1983 book Gesu.nd.heit!.”(Wells, 2014). Laughter has so many benefits. Today we see that those benefits still remain and are still being studied. Using the same Gale database to research the benefits of laughter we found an article published in 2018 discussing the many physical benefits of laughter on the body including: “Finding humor in life literally strengthens your immune system and increases your resistance to disease. A study published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine measured white blood cell activity in subjects before and after they watched humorous videos. They found that the health benefits of laughter linger long after the joke has ended” (Guirgus, 2018). There are many more studies to show that laughter is indeed the best medicine. Taking a moment to laugh in times of stress could very well be the best way to get through a tough day or even to help someone else to get through their day. Sometimes it is as simple as smiling at someone, cracking a tiny joke, or just saying hello.

A poet once said that laughter is the best medicine and studies have shown this statement to be truer than ever. So get your funny bones ready to laugh out loud as you check out some of these laughable reads:

Mirth Month Booklist

Wells, K. R. (2014). Humor Therapy. In L. J. Fundukian (Ed.), The Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine (4th ed., Vol. 2, pp. 1202-1204). Farmington Hills, MI: Gale. Retrieved from
Guirgus, J. (2018, September-October). THE BEST MEDICINE: How Laughter Improves Your Health, Mood, Relationships, and Career. Vibrant Life, 34(5), 22+. Retrieved from