The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein Book Review

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The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein
By Peter Ackroyd
Fic A182C

The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein is a retelling of the Gothic classic, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It is still told in first person by the scientist himself, Victor Frankenstein.

The book was everything historical fiction should be and more! Peter Ackroyd does a great job keeping the story as close to the original Frankenstein without being an exact copy. He has added a great plot twist at the end and has historical figures of the time involved with the story, Mary Shelley being one of them.  This is also a must read for any Victorian period lover. Ackroyd does an amazing job describing what Victorian London looks like, from the dirty streets to what Victor wears day to day.

Karrie Stewart–Submitted by Karrie Stewart, Library Clerk

ECC DVD collection: best films/performances by the decade!

Did you know that ECC Library has a wonderful collection of Oscar winning films available for free?  Here a some of the cream of the crop.

Broadway Melody

Gone with the Wind

Best Years of Our Lives

On the Waterfront

Midnight Cowboy

Kramer vs. Kramer

Babette’s Feast

Silence of the Lambs


Still Alice

Agree or disagree?  Post in the comments section to add your own favorites.

No time or money for vacation? Try a STAYCATION!

The Urban Dictionary defines a staycation as “A vacation that is spent at one’s home enjoying all that home and one’s home environs have to offer.”

There is plenty to do in and around Chicago this summer. The Chicago Shakespeare Theatre is putting on Shakespeare in the Park. This year the play is Shakespeare’s Greatest Hits and it is free for all. If Shakespeare isn’t your thing, think about the free events at the Chicago Cultural Center or the Newberry Library. If the outdoors is more your thing, try one of the free events at the Garfield Park Conservatory or  Millennium Park.

If you’re in the mood for a drive, there are some greats places and events within a day’s drive of Chicago. My favorite summer event is The Bristol Renaissance Fair. Or you can also travel to Starved Rock State Park, which has a ton of awesome trails. If getting away from Illinois is your thing, why not take a drive up to Lake Geneva? There you can eat good food, walk the lake trail, and enjoy the sunshine.

Karen new pic–Submitted by Karen Klein, Reference Librarian

July Eats: Hot or Cold?

Courtesy of Blue Bunny

Courtesy of Blue Bunny

Do you like hot eats or cold treats?  This month,  indulge in both!  July is both National Ice Cream Month and National Grilling Month.  

Did you know:

  • 9 percent of all the milk produced by U.S. dairy farmers is used to produce ice cream? (
  • Three out of five households own a gas grill? (
  • The library has a great cookbook collection that encompasses all types of food and cooking? (located in the 641 Dewey Call Number area)?

For ice cream, try a scoop of the following:

The Art of French Pastry

The Story Behind the Dish

Cook this Now! 120 Easy and Delectable Dishes You Can’t Wait to Make

Dining with the Washingtons: Historic recipes, entertainment, and hospitality from Mount Vernon

One big table : a portrait of American cooking : 600 recipes from the nation’s best home cooks, farmers, fishermen, pit-masters, and chefs

To grill, fire up your brain with these options:shish-kebab-417994_640

The Vegetable Dishes I Can’t Live Without

The Cook’s Illustrated Guide to Cooking and Barbecue

Weber’s Art of the Grill

The Vegetarian Grill

Sear, Sauce and Serve

Fast, Fresh, and Green

Bobby Flay’s Throwdown!

  • Recipe for Grilled Lime Shrimp
    Besides the usual grilling suspects, try grilling peaches or other stone fruits to put over ice cream, endive, strawberries, pizza dough, or cheeses like brie.

Ocean at the End of the Lane Book Review

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane
By Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a novel that will keep you glued to your seat. It is not action-packed per say, but its tone is creepy and surreal, as it explores the themes of reflection and nostalgia.

The story starts as a middle-aged man returns to his childhood home, in the English countryside, to attend a funeral. The house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock and her family. The Hempstocks are unusual women and he hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades. Yet as he sits by the pond — a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean — behind the farmhouse, the unremembered past comes back.

An opal miner, who boarded with the man’s family committed suicide in a car at the end of the lane. This man’s death resonated, creating unintentional consequences for the then-boy. Darkness unleashed as a result of the death — scary and unimaginable to a little boy. Lettie promised to protect him, no matter what.

I highly recommend this book. Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors and if pressed, I think this is my favorite of his book. It combines magical realism, childhood nostalgia, and emotional resonance in a way that creates a un-put-downable book.

—Submitted by Karen Klein, Reference Librarian

5 Questions for Author-ECC Librarian Karen Klein

Karen new picOne of our librarians, Karen Klein, has published a book titled Torin’s Legacy. We decided to do a 5 question interview about her book and her inspirations.

What is your book about?

The short answer is that it is about adventure & fantasy. However, I will also include book description for more detail:

To choose magic…?

After Andrew’s dad died, his mom wanted him to have a normal non-magical life in Los Angeles.

His Aunt Mac had another idea – she wanted him to move to Chicago to become her apprentice.

Andrew chose the Mages’ Guild over his mother. He never thought his choice would land him into a world of High Magic, being chased by Shadows in a place with ever-changing scenery where you can’t rely on a map to get you home.

 Who is your target reader?

I tend to write for myself or my brother and not think about a broader audience until the more business side of things come into play.

That being said, my book isn’t YA, but I think that teens could enjoy it as much as adults. I would say the ideal reader of my book is either someone who already loves fantasy and wants a new adventure. Or perhaps someone who may not normally read the genre, but is open to a fun story.

 What are the major themes in your book?

I think that themes are more for readers than writers – what did the reader get from the book? A book isn’t truly finished until its been read.

However, if I had to say,  identity & coming-of-age. Two of the main characters are teenagers and that really is a time for exploration. And answering the question: who do I want to be?

Courtesy of

 Who has inspired you, or who inspires you?

Great question. My younger brother inspires me. (He’s not so little anymore). He survived cancer at fifteen and never once complained during chemo or radiation. He fought so hard and thank goodness, he is now healthy and in college.  The other person in my family who inspires me is my dad. He does it with his work ethic and always striving to be the best that he can be.

In terms of writing and art, I have many inspirations and influences. I adore Jane Austen, which doesn’t come out so much in this particular novel. However, in some forthcoming projects, I can see her influence. I am also inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien, he did it accidentally, but he created what we now see as “modern fantasy.” A third author who inspires me is Neil Gaiman – he is never afraid to tell a story in the medium it needs. I am in awe of his ability to not only write novels and short stories, but also television, film, and graphic novels. I want to grow up to be him someday. Especially since he has had the opportunity to write episodes for Dr. Who, which is one of my favorite TV shows.

I could go on and on about how many writers have influenced me, so I will stop at three. But I would like to say that I am also influenced by the world around me – nature, travel, music and art. It all goes into the idea compost of my subconscious.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

There is so much advice out there and this may sound a bit cliche, but really read and write are the two biggest pieces of advice I would give any writer.

Read as much as you can as often as you can so you can see both the good and the bad that has been published. Read outside of your comfort zone and push your boundaries.

Then write, many people say to write everyday, which gets you into the habit of it. This is a piece of advice that I myself have difficulty in following. So if you can’t write every day, find time in your schedule and make it happen. Even if that is only ten minutes three times a week or an hour once a week. Make the most of the time that you have. You can’t improve without practice. And if you miss a day or week try not to beat yourself up. Instead, just make it to the next session and do it. (I know this is hard. I still struggle with this myself.)

Finally, go out and experience life, everything that you do and see. Every conversation you have or eavesdrop on is fodder for writing. Live your life to the fullest so that your writing will be as vibrant as your life.

To buy the ebook, click here!

Summer Travel–Adventures Near or Far

Cover courtesy of

Although the National Travel and Tourism Week  is over, it is now summer and a great time to take a break. Whether you plan to take a day trip to downtown Chicago for one of its many festivals, sit under the stars for free concerts in Millennium Park, explore another country, or drive along one of several USA road trips mentioned in the library’s USA’s Best Trips: 99 Themed Itineraries Across America, there are books in the library to support your adventure.

On a tight budget? Check out Tim Leffel’s book Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune.

Cover courtesy of

Want a lifelong memory? Plan a future dream trip to one of the 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.

Want to learn while having fun? Browse through The 100 Best Worldwide Vacations to Enrich Your Life where you’ll read about volunteering with archaeologists in Transylvania, learning about medicinal plants in the Andes, or pursuing wellness activities like a yoga retreat.

Student Health 101 sent out this article about travel hacks–check it out!

The Office of Travel and Tourism  lists the top 2013 destinations for Americans travelling abroad. Here are the top spots:

  1. Mexico
  2. Canada
  3. United Kingdom
  4. France
  5. Italy

If you are like me and can’t afford going overseas or even across the country this summer, then consider taking a few local day trips  and researching and saving for a future destination. For me this means visiting Chicago, Lake Geneva, and family in Kansas City this summer and saving for my “dream” trip next Spring to Guanajuato, Mexico. Enjoy all your summer adventures whether near or far!

Jana–Submitted by Jana Porter, Reference/Instruction Librarian

P.S. If you want an adventure beyond your summer travels check out study abroad opportunities at ECC.