Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Incredible Hercules: Against the World

By Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente
Art by Khoi Pham

Can you keep Lycus and Laeomedom straight? Do you remember what a Hydra is? Who really liked the Birds of Stymphalis? Well, if Greek mythology is Greek to you, then you might want to pick up, The Incredible Hercules: Against the World. All these questions and more are answered in this extremely entertaining graphic novel.

It collects the first four issues of the ongoing monthly comic Incredible Hercules, which deals with the Greek demi-god’s adventures in the present -- of the fictional Marvel Universe, that is. In this arc, Hercules and a boy genius sidekick named Amadeus Cho find themselves on the wrong side of the law. They are relentlessly pursued by S.H.I.E.L.D. (think C.I.A. and F.B.I. combined with more toys) and Herc’s half-brother Ares, the Greek god of war, who has somehow joined the ranks of the Marvel Universe’s super-hero team, the Avengers.

Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente, the writers, weave the present story of the fugitives’ with past tales of Hercules legendary labors to illustrate the human condition of our heroes. Hercules struggles not to make the same mistakes, even as his enemies from the past, namely Ares, are out to make him pay for them. And even more endearing, Hercules attempts to dissuade his young comrade, Amadeus, from emulating his bad decisions. The rest of the supporting cast of characters is fully realized, different and entertaining. From Wonder Man playing the straight man to a blatantly fratricidal Ares, to a frustrated S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Gabe Jones watching his carefully ordered world being destroyed by a teenager, to a lethally competent Black Widow admitting to an earlier crush on Hercules – all play their parts, and yet reveal hidden depths. Especially Ares, who so easily could have been a cardboard, melodramatic villain, but instead is portrayed with all too understandable human desires.

Khoi Pham handles the art chores perfectly, with a detailed style that has an etching quality suitable for the heroic tales of the past, but is still loose and dynamic enough to convey the frenetic plight of the present story line. Pham, Pak and Van Lente have created a rare thing these days: A comic book that is fun AND literate; that indulges in its epic superhero tropes AND deftly comments on everyday human concerns; that girls AND boys, children AND adults will enjoy. I highly recommend giving this graphic novel a try.

Reserve your copy of The Incredible Hercules: Against the World here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

NEW! Horror Novels - Reserve them in the catalog

Black Creek Crossing by John Saul - Thirteen-year-old Angie Sullivan adores her family's new home at Black Creek Crossing, until she discovers that the house had been the scene of a double murder and the focus of a series of increasingly bizarre events.

The Bone Parade
by Mark Nykanen
- An artist acclaimed for his series of bronze sculptures of families grouped together in moments of excruciating physical and emotional pain, Ashley Stassler is no ordinary artist, and the art world has no idea as to how he goes about creating his macabre masterpieces--or of the families that have mysteriously vanished in his wake.

The Descent by Jeff Long - At the dawn of a new millennium, humankind faces its ultimate challenge as a demonic horde, led by a satanic overlord, prepares to leave its subterranean kingdom for an apocalyptic confrontation with the forces of good.

The Fury and the Power
by John Farris
- Talented young psychic Eden Waring and her doppelganger, Gwen, are stalked by Mordaunt, the Dark Side of God, an ageless and evil entity who must seduce Eden and seize control of her doppelganger if he is to regain power.

by Scott Sigler
- CIA operative Dew Phillips, working together with CDC epidemiologist Margaret Montoya, race to stop the spread of a mysterious disease that is turning ordinary people into murderers. A former football player who has become infected with the deadly bioengineered parasite may carry the cure.

The Little Stranger
by Sarah Waters -
After being summoned to treat a patient at dilapidated Hundreds Hall, Dr. Faraday finds himself becoming entangled in the lives of the owners, the Ayres family, and the supernatural presences in the house.

Pandemonium by Daryl Gregory - In the 1950s, ordinary people of varying ages and backgrounds are possessed by entities that seem to spring from the collective unconscious, that many would call demons. It is believed that the key to resolving this plague pivots around the possessed Del Pierce; for whom the cure may be worse than the disease.

The Ruins
by Scott Smith
- In Cancun, Mexico, for a peaceful vacation, a group of tourists sets off in search of one of their group who disappeared during an excursion to some nearby Mayan ruins, only to come face to face with an insidious evil that threatens their lives.

The Terror
by Dan Simmons
- Captain Crozier must find a way for his crew to survive the deadly attacks of a sea monster, in a novel loosely based on the mid-nineteenth-century Arctic expedition originally led by Sir John Franklin.

Spooky Stories - Tales to read with the lights on!

NEW Teen Reads! Reserve them in the catalog.

Beating Heart
by A. M. Jenkins - Following his parents' divorce, 17-year-old Evan moves with his mother & sister into an old house where the spirit of a teenager who died there awakens & mistakes him for her long-departed lover.

Crandalls' Castle by Betty Ren Wright - Charli's impulsive uncle, Will Crandall, decides to buy the town's abandoned, possibly haunted castle and fix it up as a bed-and-breakfast, but Charli and Sophia, a clairvoyant orphan who has come to stay with the Crandall family, know his plan is somehow dangerous.

The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding - As Thaniel, a wych-hunter, & Cathaline, his friend and mentor, try to rid the alleys of London's Old Quarter of the terrible creatures that infest them, their lives become entwined with that of a woman who may be either mad or possessed.

The Ghosts of Kerfol by Deborah Noyes - Over the centuries, the inhabitants of a mansion, Kerfol, are haunted by the ghosts of dead dogs, fractured relationships, & the taste of bitter revenge.

Hell Phone by William Sleator - Seventeen-year-old Nick buys a used cell phone only to call his girlfriend, but strange and desperate people keep calling--one of them a denizen of Hell--begging for or demanding his help.

The Intruders by E. E. Richardson - When soon-to-be stepbrothers, Joel & Tim, start having the same nightmare after moving into a old house, they decide to investigate its source & the many other strange occurrences in their new home.

Pemba's Song: A Ghost Story by Tonya Hegamin - As 15-year-old Pemba adjusts to leaving her Brooklyn, New York, home for small-town Connecticut, a Black history researcher helps her understand the paranormal experiences drawing her into the life of a mulatto girl who was once a slave in her house.

Restless: A Ghost's Story by Rich Wallace - Frank, a teenaged ghost who has not been able to move on to a higher realm in the afterlife, tries to connect with his younger brother Herbie, a high school senior who was eight years old when Frank died.

The Seer of Shadows by Avi - In New York City in 1872, 14-year-old Horace, a photographer's apprentice, becomes entangled in a plot to create fraudulent spirit photographs, but when Horace accidentally frees the real ghost of a dead girl bent on revenge, his life takes a frightening turn.

The Summoning by Kelly Armstrong - After 15-year-old Chloe starts seeing ghosts and is sent to Lyle House, a mysterious group home for mentally disturbed teenagers, she soon discovers that neither Lyle House nor its inhabitants are exactly what they seem, & that she and her new friends are in danger.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Middle School Book Club meets @ the Lib

Middle School Book Club
Tuesday, October 6th at 6:30
in the Round Auditorium
Grades 6-8 only

This month we'll talk about The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Did it deserve the Newbery Award? We'll also do a creepy craft and have spooky snacks!

Reserve the book in the catalog and join us!

Call Ms. Heather for more info @ 205.332.6621 or email her @

Monday, September 21, 2009


More information and how to purchase tickets for the play!

The Mousetrap was initially performed as a radio play in 1952 and was broadcast by the BBC with the title Three Blind Mice. The radio play had been commissioned in 1947 by Queen Mary, who was a Christie fan. The forty-five minute play was based on a short story on which Christie had been working; however, audience reaction was so positive that Christie went back to work on the script, elaborating on it, and with its first performance on October 6, 1952, The Mousetrap became a stage play. After a seven-week tour, the play opened in London at The Ambassadors Theatre on November 25, 1952. The play later transferred to St. Martin's Theatre in London on March 23, 1974 and has been running there ever since. The Mousetrap has broken several records for its continuous theatrical run since its opening, and it is estimated that more than four million people had seen the play by the time its twenty-five year anniversary was celebrated in 1977. After another twenty years of performances it is safe to speculate that an additional three to four million people have probably sat in the dark and tried to puzzle out the identity of the murderer. Performances of The Mousetrap continue to benefit from tourists who seek out the play both for its artistic merits and for the joy of being part of a theatrical tradition. Christie signed over the royalties from the play to her grandson at its opening in 1952. It is thought that he has become a multimillionaire from the royalties of this one property alone.

Here's just a little taste of the play from that will make you want more...  

Act One, scene i
The play opens with a radio account of a woman murdered in London. Mollie and Giles have just opened a small guest house and inn with property that Mollie has inherited from her aunt. The action begins on their first day of business and with their first guests. Christopher Wren is the first guest to arrive. He is enthusiastic about the house and praises both the style and decor. Mrs. Boyle is the second guest to arrive, and she arrives complaining that a taxi did not meet her at the train (although she never provided an arrival time). The third guest to arrive, Major Metcalf, is carrying her luggage when he enters the hall a few moments later. Mrs. Boyle's complaints about everything, including the lack of servants and experienced hosts, result in Giles offering to cancel her stay, but she declines and insists she will stay.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Attempting to pick up his life after shooting an undercover cop, former police officer Ben Carson (Kiefer Sutherland) takes a job as a night watchman at a once famous, now derelict department store called the Mayflower. But like the previous guard, he begins seeing horrifying images in the store's ornate mirrors, that eventually threaten him and his family and send him on a mission to unravel the secrets of the building's haunted past.

Like any good horror movie, this one plays on our primal fears. In this case, the fear of our darker side, made manifest in magic mirrors. For me, the movie is most successful when it sticks to that and terrifies with the more subtle and simple effects such as the mirror image moving differently than the person looking into the mirror. Others, however, may be more scared by the gory make-up of creatures, dead things, and graphic murders. Either way, I think the special effects for this film were very well done and quite effective. It certainly made me think twice about walking in front of the mirror late at night. It may be a little slower than horror movie fans like, but I appreciated the time spent on making me care about the Ben Carson and his family. The revelation of the cause of the haunting wasn't particularly original and seemed a bit disconnected, but worked fine for the movie. I found Mirrors to be a better than expected horror movie with some believable acting.

I didn't know this was a remake of a 2003 Korean horror flick called Geoul Sokeuro which I'd now very much like to see it. Generally speaking, I find the original Asian horror movies to be far more creepy than their American remakes, which tend to go for shock and gore, rather than spine chilling, creepy shudders.

This DVD had the R rated theatrical cut and an unrated version, neither of which are appropriate for children.

Reserve your copy of the DVD.

Microsoft's Consumer Online Safety Education

Microsoft has created a Consumer Online Safety Education site that contains short videos filled with tips on how to protect yourself online. These are pretty informative for non-techies and are better than the dry technical papers that you find on most websites such as Consumer Watch. They also have well written print articles on various online safety issues.

If you are concerned about online safety or know someone who might need to know more about the subject, pass this link on to them.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Get Free Ringtones or Create Your Own Custom Tones at

If you want to set a snippet of your favorite song as a ringtone on your mobile phone, it's going to cost you between 2 and 3 dollars depending on your plan carrier. Average ringtones last about 20 seconds, so you're actually paying 12 cents a second for a $2.49 cent ringtone. This is pretty ridiculous, considering you can buy an entire song on iTunes or for less than one dollar. If you were to buy an entire song according to your cell company's ringtone rate, one 3 minute song would cost a little over $21 dollars!

Again, you can buy an entire album on iTunes, Amazon, or Zune marketplace for less than $10.

Angry yet? lol

I found a great site,, that allows you access to free user-created ringtones and gives you the ability to upload your favorite song, create and edit a ringtone exactly like you want it, absolutely free.

Once you go to, you will have to create a free account, which requires you to enter an email address, the kind of phone you use, your cell number(which can be kept private)and cell carrier.

Now that you're registered, you'll see the home screen for your account. On this screen you'll see a list of the top ringtones of the past seven days that you can browse and add to your ringtones library. You can preview each tone, and when you click on the tone title you have the options to save to your pc, save to your PhoneZoo library, or send the tone directly to your phone as a text message.

No matter what option you choose, I would also save each tone you want to MyZoo. This keeps an online library of all the tones you use, and is the easiest way to quickly change tones if you like some variety, and if something goes wrong and you ever have to do a hard-reset on your phone, you still have all your tones backed-up online.

If you want to create a custom made ringtone, click on the RINGTONES tab at the top of the page, then click the CREATE FROM FILE option. Now you can upload an entire song to PhoneZoo, and edit the exact part of the song you want to set as your ringtone(up to 30 seconds per tone). You'll notice there is an option to list the ringtone as copyrighted content. Choosing this option lets you create a custom ringtone out of music you already own, but does not allow the tone to be downloaded by other users. Artists and musicians work very hard to make a living off of their product, and this protects their copyrights.

The bonus you get with PhoneZoo is that it is also a decent social networking site. You won't get as customizable a layout as you would with MySpace, or search criteria like you would with Facebook, but you can create a personal profile, add photos, meet and add other PhoneZoo users, send and receive messages to other users, and play games.

As with any social networking site, be very careful about personal information you share online, including pictures, phone numbers, or addresses, especially to people you don't know.

Have fun and stay safe online.


Friday, September 11, 2009


Underworld Rise of the Lycans is strictly for fans of fantasy and horror. If you find vampires and werewolves, swords and crossbows, and armor and tunics tedious, then this is NOT the movie for you. Yes, the movie stars BAFTA nominated Michael Sheen, better known for playing Tony Blair in The Queen and David Frost in Frost / Nixon -- not to mention Golden Globe and BAFTA winner Bill Nighy. But neither of these great actors are attempting those sorts of subtle performances that film critics adore. Instead, they are indulging in some truly high caliber scenery chewing, that action fans love, as they reprise the roles they created in the first two movies in this series. However, this is a prequel to those movies, set in the medieval past, that explains how the werewolves, called Lycans, were created and how their conflict with the vampires arose. As another reviewer said, it's a bit of Romeo and Juliet mixed with Spartacus. It is a self contained story, but fans of Underworld will appreciate seeing the connections and nods to the previous movies. Besides Lucian and Viktor, Tannis (Steven Mackintosh) and Raze (Kevin Grevioux) return for this third installment.

The movie also looks amazing good, considering the small budget. But that's probably due to the production design of Dan Hennah, the art director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, who brought a few more LOTR veterans to help out with costuming and set design. Speaking of, watch closely for appearances of Craig Parker, who played Haldir in LOTR. I bet you won't recognize him at all -- I didn't. The cinematography owes a bit to The 300, with it's heavily saturated atmosphere, as well as the previous films, which favored a palette of blues to represent the sunless world of these night creatures. Overall, Underworld Rise of the Lycans was an enjoyable popcorn flick, but not one for the kids as it rated R.

Reserve your copy of the DVD.
Reserve your copy of the novelization by Greg Cox.

Grimm and Bear It written by Dr. Andrew Duxbury of the UAB Center for Aging

Something's gone terribly wrong in the world of fairy tales! All of your favorite villains get pink slips when the Front Office decides they are too scary for children. Join the Seasoned Performers as they help the bad guys remind the audience of the importance of familiar stories and the value of wisdom that comes with age!

Grimm and Bear It is a 45 minute comedy written by Dr. Andrew Duxbury of the UAB Center for Aging, directed by Ellise Mayor and performed by The Seasoned Performers at Homewood Public Library Wednesday, Sept. 30 @ 12:15 pm.

It's FREE! Join us!

For more information about The Seasoned Performers visit their website.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes by Robin Jones Gunn

When Summer was told she needed a biopsy she baked cookies which helped her think. Then she made flight reservations to the Netherlands. She had never met her pen pal in person and felt this was the time for a chick adventure with Noelle. Summer's husband was supportive of the plan. For a week Summer would learn about her good friend and her husband, their culture and pieces of their history. The Ten Boom family touched lives by saving lives. Summer and Noelle visited the Ten Boom home and museum, hearing first person stories about the concentration camps. The Iconoclasts made their statement by destruction. The pen pals visited a church which had been a victim of this action. And the original paintings by Vermeer spoke to Summer about everyday things and people. During that week Summer was able to connect with Noelle in communicating their feelings and needs which each had been trying to escape. Topics they discussed included past relationships and future medical possibilities and God's Love and provisions for His children. Summer and Noelle had thought this visit had been a spontaneous plan by Summer. They learned that God knew all along what both of them needed.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Update on Tailgate with Author Scott Sigler

Scott Sigler, has announced the time and location that he will be in the Birmingham area on his upcoming tour for The Rookie.

He will be here Monday, September 7, at Dreamland BBQ in Birmingham from 5:30 - 8:00 PM. He will have a reading from The Rookie and a discussion of it. He will also have copies for purchase if you would like one. He will also be signing copies of his books and though he did not say it, I am sure he would also sign copies of any of his other novels that you might like signed.

If you are unfamiliar with Scott's work, he writes techno/sci-fi horror and his books are quite gripping. He is also a pioneer in podcasting his audio books and most of them can be downloaded from iTunes and For more information check out

Scott is also an avid football fan and his novel The Rookie reflects that and I imagine that we will also watch the kickoff on Monday Night Football at Dreamland.

Hope to see you there,


The Game, Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, by Neil Strauss

Follow author Neil Strauss as he transforms from an average everyday nerd into one of the top pickup artists in the country. Learn the tips of the industry (yes, there is an entire industry on seduction) by someone who learned and also helped to create it as it is known today.

If you’ve ever thought that you had game or couldn’t have game run on you, think again. Explore why opposites and likes attract. Learn when to stick around or hit the road. Gain insight as to how guys think and what their actions really mean. Also learn how to dismiss their hollow attempts to “pick you up”.

This book is loaded with a cast of known and unknown characters: Courtney Love, Tom Cruise, and Heidi Fleiss, to name a few.

Neil Strauss writes in a way that makes this book funny, easy to read, and somewhat believable. Reserve The Game by Neill Strauss in the catalog.

~The Circulator (a.k.a. L. Jones)