KVELERTAK – new sounds in black metal

by  | Category: Hoopla, It's here!, New Music, Super Fan
Bookmark and Share

wea_016861748302_270There was a time (for two years around 2010) when the only metal I listened to was black metal. Something in its sound, specific to this type of metal, just really worked for me. Go listen to this 90s Darkthrone album to get an idea of what it’s about.

I’ve since moved on and happily, so has black metal. Black Metal blends nicely with all other kinds of music: Black metal meets shoegaze. Black metal meets folk music. Black metal meets vikings (known as, yes, Viking Metal). You get the idea.

This new album by Norway’s Kvelertak is definitely my new thing. They’re most certainly a black metal band – the witchy vocals, really fast repetitive drumming, etc – but they now mix in traditional rock. I hear classic Van Halen or KISS. Awesome.

I’m just going to call this new sub-sub genre POWER BLACK METAL. Find it on Hoopla.

Week of Geek: Libraries new, old and fictional

by  | Category: It's here!, Pop Culture, Super Fan
Bookmark and Share

Hello once again Geeklings.

Sorry for the radio silence, but I and my most awesome of colleagues have been hard at work the last couple of weeks prepping for the opening of our brand-new, shiny, amazing addition, the Civic Centre Resource Library.

That’s right; NEW LIBRARY!

If you haven’t be by yet, or even if you have, please come and visit us all the time at the Major Mackenzie and Keele intersection, right by City Hall.  We have brand new items, outdoor areas, a great big study hall, maker spaces (coming soon) and a new Teen Area with new teen books.  We can’t wait to see you!

So in honor of all this library-related conviviality, I thought I’d take a look at the fictional libraries that reside in the fandoms we love.  Sites like Paste Magazine and Bustle have great lists, but why don’t I go over a few of my faves with you?  ‘Cause I can 😉

1. The Hogwarts Library

For blossoming young witches and wizards, a library can be just as much of a resource as it can for any muggle.  The in-school library at Hogwarts has everything you need (sections include reference, legal, dragons and invisibility) and it has saved our favorite characters more often than not.  Just avoid the floating books as they put themselves away and be sure to stay out of the Restricted Session.  There’s a reason those books are restricted.

2. The Night Vale Public Library

Yes, the crazy-weird town of Night Vale has a library.  That library has a lot of things you’d typically find in a library, like an archives and a children’s section and a biography section.  And it has things you… wouldn’t typically find as well.  Like the fact that the biography section only has books on Helen Hunt, or that the occasional ghost haunts the stacks, or that there’s a whole bunch of chimneys on the roof, or there’s a fainting pool in the lobby.  Suffice it to say, it doesn’t get used a lot, likely on account of the ridiculously scary librarians that lurk among the stacks.  Don’t go near the librarians.  In fact, stay out of the library all together.

You’ll find some references to the library and it’s staff in the podcast episodes but the first novel has a really great description of it.

3. Sunnydale High School Library

From day one, episode one, the high school library was the base of operations for Vampire Slayer Buffy Summers and her Scooby Gang.  Buffy’s Watcher, Rupert Giles, became a librarian with the school in order to work closely with his slayer, and took advantage of the fact that many students don’t use the library (boo!) to keep his questionable materials on the undead.  The library was almost just as much a part of Buffy’s team as any person/vampire/demon/werewolf.

4. Belle’s Library

One of the most breathtaking scenes in a beautiful animated movie, the titular Beast gifts his beauty with the castle library, where she can be as much of a bookworm as she wants to be.  Nuts to the prince, I say, I want that library!

5. Morpheus’ Library

In Neil Gaiman’s epic graphic novel series The Sandman, the realm of the Dreaming plays host to a very particular library.  As it says above, it only houses books that were never actually written or published by their respective authors.  Only the ones those authors ever dreamt about.  Think about that; how many books could you read that no one else could, not even the authors themselves?  The possibilities would be endless!  Just like Morpheus and his family (see what I did there?).

6. The Jedi Archives

First seen in Attack of the Clones, the library of the Jedi Temple housed information that spanned the entire galaxy and thousands of years.  As their Chief Librarian, Jocasta Nu, would say; “There is more knowledge here than anywhere else in the galaxy.”  Jedi masters, knights and padawans could use the resources there to find any information they needed.  If you wanted to look at the Holocron Vault though, you had to talk to Jocasta.

Unfortunately I have to speak in the past tense, because once the empire took over, the Jedi Temple was converted into the Emperor’s personal palace, and the archives could only be accessed by enemies of the Jedi.  A dark turn of events for a beautiful library.

7. The Library

Riddle me this, geeklings.  Say you had all the books in the known universe.  Where would they go?  How would you house them?  How would you keep them all together in one place?  Try putting them on a whole planet.  In the series four episode “Silence in the Library”, the Doctor and Donna visit a library so big it takes up an entire planet.  It’s just called The Library, because really, what else would you call it?  But they quickly find something sinister lurking within it’s stacks.  Make sure to count your shadows before you leave.

Some others suggested by my colleagues include The Library of Babel, the library that housed the detentionees of The Breakfast Club that fateful Saturday, The Unseen University Library of Discworld, and The Cemetery of Forgotten Books.

So come by and visit us at the Civic Centre.  We have a special edition of our What’s On magazine that talks about the branch and the different programs we’re offering.  Keep your ears open for any news about our maker spaces and for the TSRC, which is coming fast.  And we’ll have new programs coming all through the year.  Yay!

Until next time, End of Line.

The Raven King

by  | Category: It's here!, Must-Read Fiction, Reading Lounge
Bookmark and Share


I hate to admit it, but I used to be one of those people who scoffed at YA. Before I worked in the library, my idea of young adult fiction was vampires, werewolves, and more vampires. Let’s just say, I wasn’t into it. Until I found the one that spoke to me and changed my mind. For me, it was Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy that opened me up to a world of teen novels that can be enjoyed by adults. And now, a few years later, this is where I am: rolling in the feels of the final novel of The Raven Cycle.

My love affair with these books began innocently enough. I was at work, being bombarded by questions about the series, and decided I should probably check it out for myself. Skeptically, I picked up a copy of The Raven Boys; the protagonists’ names and the kitschy concept of True Love’s First Kiss not winning me over just yet. But then, I read. I read about the main girl and her tendency towards feminist rants. I read about the rich boy on a quest for answers and his guilt over his life of privilege. The other boy without any privilege at all, working himself to death and closing himself off. And the other boy (my favourite) who deals with grief through fast cars, bloody knuckles, and lashing out at the world.

What caught me about these books wasn’t the plot. It was the lyrical descriptions of rural Virginia and magical forests, the mysticism of Catholic churches and a house full of psychics.  But mostly it was the characters’ individual struggles that hooked me. The thing about Stiefvater’s writing is that it’s deceptive. You think you’re reading about teens on a quest to wake an ancient Welsh king, but really you’re reading about Gansey’s unswerving need to know why his life had been spared as a child, or Adam’s fight against his past abuse and sense of inferiority, or Ronan’s struggle to understand himself in the face of his father’s horrific death. The series is equally rich in dirty reality as it is in magic.

What really makes the series stand out to me, however, is the insistence on the importance of friendship. That sounds super cheesy, I know, but I promise it’s not. Stiefvater makes the friendships as messy and all-encompassing as the romantic pairings, and gives them just as much (if not more) weight than the romance. While Blue/Gansey are a given, and Ronan/Adam are a maybe, you find yourself equally mesmerized by the dynamics of the group as a whole.

For fans of the series, The Raven King will thrill you. Stiefvater takes everything we love about the first three books and ramps it up to eleven. The stakes are higher, the magic is bigger, the swooning is real. Characters come head-to-head with their nightmares (both magical and mundane) that until now have only coloured the background. If you’re a fan, you know the questions to ask: will the gang ever find Glendower? Will Adam find self-worth? Will Ronan ever learn to express himself in a healthy way? And, most importantly, will Gansey die? If you’re not yet a fan, pick up book one and you will be. The world of The Raven Cycle expands from the old halls of Aglionby Academy to the dreamy Cabeswater forest to the wild and dusty streets of Henrietta, Virginia. Time is circular and intricate, magic is friend and foe. In the final installment,  Stiefvater manages to address every question fans might have, and the result is, appropriately, magical.




BOMBINO – listen to music from Africa

by  | Category: Hoopla, It's here!, New Music, Super Fan
Bookmark and Share

wea_720841213505_270I’ve long loved music from Africa, especially musicians from West Africa. Like, I’m crazy crazy crazy for music from Mali. There’s just so much to discover – here. And here. And definitely here.

I especially love what they call “desert blues“. This is hard-driven, throbbing guitar based ROCK, made primarily by the Tuareg – traditionally nomadic people living within the Sahara regions of Mali, Algeria, and Niger.

Bombino, my new favourite desert blues artist, comes from the latter. He makes music as traditional other Tuareg musician, but he adds a contemporary, North American touch. His 2013 album Nomad was produced by blues rock man Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys.

It’s good, but I like Azel, Bombino’s new one even more. It is produced by Dave Longstreth, from the indie rock band Dirty Projectors. It is  still desert blues, but with a weirder, modern touch. I love it.

You’ll find this, and all kinds of great African music, on Hoopla.

There And Back Again: One Playlist To Rule Them All

by  | Category: Pop Culture, Randomness, Super Fan
Bookmark and Share


Adventure Update: 75% excited beyond all reason and reckoning, 25% anxiety-fueled panic attacks while hiding under desks.

How in the Valar’s name did Bilbo manage it?

That being said, hello all! The final week count-down is on and things are rolling along so quickly that I can barely keep up with it all. What can you do? Time and tide wait for no man or hobbit as they say. Do you know what else they say? Nobody parties as hardy as a hobbit! I think we should test out that theory and see for ourselves whether or not it is actually true.

What do you say? Are you ready for this? Are you ready to go adventuring?!?!

I hope so because I am afraid I’ll totally shake apart right when the plane gets ready to take off. Deep breathing, that’s the key. Just breathe.

Packing is now well underway even though I am still getting the hang of it. It is rather difficult trying to figure out how to position hiking boots in such a way that they don’t intrude on the stash of books at the bottom of the case. Never mind all of the electronic gadgets that need special care and handling. This is why it is important to never travel with anything that is super breakable unless you absolutely have to. If you parkour down a mountain or jump off a cliff and onto an eagle’s back there is a fairly good chance things could and will get broken. Or worse. Always insure your stuff!!!

Bilbo1Anyways, onward to happier things. One thing that I have finally mastered is the art of the Epic Playlist Of Awesome.

Let’s be honest here. Being stuck in transit for hours and days on end is not fun. But with the properly tailored musical accompaniment it can be rather enjoyable to down-right hilarious. So you can probably guess I have uploaded the entire Howard Shore Middle Earth soundtrack collection. I also went with a vast selection of fun Irish tunes, reels, jigs, and airs along with a number of other soundtracks on top of my ever present heavy metal collection that follows me like a second shadow. All in all there’s over 14 hours of music. Now that’s something to get excited over!

Something to keep in mind when going off on adventures is to make sure you have two sets of headphones.  A set of ear-buds for those walking soundtrack montages in public as well as padded noise-cancelling headphones for the plane. Never listen to your music on a high setting or for longer than an hour straight without giving your ears a break, especially when using the ear-buds. If you notice ringing in your ears turn the music off and put everything away. Better to give your hearing a rest and if white noise is a distraction invest in some earplugs that you always keep in a hidden pocket in your backpack. Those things work wonders when trying to fall asleep beside strangers.

I’m still getting my Hobbit know-how up to snuff with these fine ventures. Think you can keep up with me?

Watching: The Lord Of The Rings: The Return of The King

Reading: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Chronicles, Art & Design

Listening: Music from The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings

Now if there is one thing that I have learned from my many experiences with all things Middle Earth it is this. There is honestly nothing quite like a good hobbit sip and song down at the Green Dragon Inn. Be comforted in the fact that when I finally enter the Green Dragon for a pint (yes it does exist and I will be documenting the heck out of it for you) I will break out into song. Not just any song mind you. This song in particular. The Cat and the Moon from the Lord of the Rings Broadway musical. I dare you not to start dancing. It’s nigh impossible!