The Okay Witch

The Okay Witch is a page-turner of a graphic novel about an unlikely witch just discovering the truth about her new powers and her family’s centuries-old history as outcasts in a small Massachusetts town. 13-year-old Moth is a relatable heroine with quirks, insecurities, and a wicked sense of humor. The crisp vibrant illustrations perfectly capture Moth’s larger-than-life emotions and the kinetics of her journey. From the bright colors of Moth’s cozy home, to the drab earth tones of 1600’s New England, to the cool pastels of ethereal Hecate (the mystical realm of witches), the changing color pallets beautifully express changes in mood and energy from scene to scene and across various settings.

I especially love how the panels are composed to convey spot-on comedic timing in some scenes, and a hushed sense of wonder in other scenes. Despite all the supernatural content, this story portrays some very realistic mother-daughter relationship challenges. Anyone who has ever felt dismissed, underestimated, or disallowed from seeking adventure will surely find a friend in Moth.

Slider by Pete Hautman

David loves all things eating.  He loves eating anything and everything, in fact he even times himself when scarfing down pizza to see how he matches up to other competitive eaters.  David’s ability to shove insane amount of food in stomach comes in handy when, he accidentally bids $2000 instead on $20 on a famous competitive eater’s half eaten hotdog on  Now David has to come up with a plan to get $2000 before his mom realizes the charge is on the card.  Turns out the local pizza chain is hosting their first ever competitive eating contest at the end of the summer and the prize is $5,000. David gets his besties to sponsor his entry and his summer adventure to win begins.

The Empty Grave by Jonathan Stroud (2017)

This is the 5th & final book in the terrific Lockwood & Co series written by Jonathan Stroud. Lockwood & Co. is about an alternate Britain in which ghosts have been entering the world of the living. Whomever they touch dies; only kids & teens can see them. So all the ghost removal agencies are staffed by kids, but run by adults — except one: Lockwood & Co, run by the dashing young Anthony Lockwood, the scholarly and slovenly George Cubbins, Lucy Carlyle (our narrator) who can speak to ghosts and the marvelously organized Holly Munro! And what a stunning conclusion this book is: we find out the source of the The Problem AND bring the story of Anthony Lockwood and Lucy Carlyle to the brink of — (of course you’ll have to read the book)! If you haven’t already read the first 4 books,  reserve a copy of The Screaming Staircase, the beginning of the whole adventure. (The BBC is shooting a TV show based on this book, so this will not be the last you hear of Lockwood & Co!)

Eric Robb’s Best Reads of 2016

December 15, 2016

Eric Robb photoMy name is Eric Robb. I am a resident of Evanston and work as an associate teacher at Baker Demonstration School. Outside of my teaching duties, I volunteer for the Dare2tri Paratriathlon Club – an organization that supports triathletes with disabilities. My duties include fundraising as well as guiding and supporting athletes with a diverse array of disabilities toward their athletic goals. I spend what free time I have left playing either guitar, bass guitar, or piano.



1) A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (1980)

This is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read, so much so that this was actually my second time reading through it. Toole’s main character, Ignatius Reilly, who considers himself a great misunderstood genius of his time, provides a perfect mixture of highbrow humor and slapstick comedy.

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An Interview with Paul McComas and Greg Starrett: Men of Monstrous Ambitions

October 19, 2013

FIt For A Frankenstein

Paul McComas wears many hats…as well as the occasional half-head Frankenstein’s Monster mask.  McComas is the author of two novels and two short story collections, and the editor of two short-fiction anthologies.  In addition, the Evanston resident is an award-winning indie filmmaker, a teacher of writing, literature, and film, and a performance artist of no small repute.  His latest project is the novella Fit For A Frankenstein, co-authored with his long-time friend, Greg Starrett.  This is the first book for Starrett, a resident of Munster, Indiana, and the founder of Veidt Radio Theatre.

Fit For A Frankenstein pays homage to Universal Studio’s monster movies of the 1930s and 1940s, as it follows Ygor’s and the Monster’s increasingly zany quest for a size 66 X-X-Long suit. Logan’s Run author William F. Nolan recommends it for any reader with “fond memories of the iconic Monster.”  On Saturday, October 26, McComas and Starrett will perform scenes from the book, answer questions, and sign copies for anyone brave enough to venture to the Community Meeting Room at 3 p.m.  We recently overcame our fears, and sat down to talk with the co-authors about their monstrous collaboration.

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An Interview with Paul McComas

April 28, 2011

Author Paul McComas will read at EPL on May 5th at 7 p.m.

Paul McComas has creative energy to burn.  An award-winning filmmaker, dynamic performance artist, and a mean punk bassist to boot, McComas is perhaps best known for his two acclaimed novels – Unplugged (2002) and Planet of the Dates (2008) – as well as for editing the short-fiction anthologies First Person Imperfect (2003) and Further Persons Imperfect (2007).  Now the Evanston author has added to his impressive artistic resume with his ambitious new genre collection Unforgettable: Harrowing Futures, Horrors, & (Dark) Humor.  Comprised of McComas’ fifty best speculative-fiction, horror, and dark-comic works, Unforgettable is an entertaining and enlightening thrill ride described by Logan’s Run author William F. Nolan as “a literary tour de force… that will leave you breathless.”  On Thursday, May 5th, you can hear Mr. McComas read from Unforgettable when he visits EPL’s 1st Floor Community Meeting Room at 7 p.m. along with fellow author Tim W. Brown.  In anticipation of his visit, we recently spoke with him via email about the genesis of Unforgettable, the joys of dystopian worlds, No-Budget Theatre, his band The Daves, collaborating with Nolan on the forthcoming Logan’s Journey, and much, much more.

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An Interview with Tim W. Brown

April 26, 2011

Author Tim W. Brown reads at EPL on May 5th at 7 p.m.

Tim W. Brown is not an author to limit himself to a single genre.  In Second Acts – Brown’s latest novel following Deconstruction Acres (1997), Left of the Loop (2001), and Walking Man (2008) – the long-time Chicagoan and current New Yorker effortlessly blends sci-fi and western elements into the comic historical tale of Dan Connor, a 21st-century slacker who time travels to 1830s America in search of his adulterous wife.  Winner of the 2010 London Book Festival Award for General Fiction, Second Acts is a sly, satirical page-turner in the vein of Mark Twain that is guaranteed to leave readers laughing and thinking.  On Thursday, May 5th, you can hear Mr. Brown read from Second Acts when he visits EPL’s 1st Floor Community Meeting Room at 7 p.m. along with local author Paul McComas.  In anticipation of his visit, we recently spoke with him via email about his extensive research for Second Acts, Potawatomi berdaches, second chances in American life, and what he’s working on next.

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Book Trailer of the Week

January 29, 2011

Our latest Book Trailer of the Week is this stylish short for Carl Hiaasen’s outrageously offbeat novel Star Island.  The madcap fun begins just as 22-year-old fading pop star Cheryl Bunterman (aka Cherry Pye) is frantically attempting a comeback designed by her uber stage mom, Weed Whacker wielding bodyguard, and fraternal twin publicists who’ve spent thousands to look identical.  However, when Cheryl overdoses yet again and her stunt double is mistakenly kidnapped by an obsessed paparazzo, the harebrained scheme goes hilariously awry.  Filled with Hiaasen’s trademark pop culture barbs and environmental subplot, Star Island is a rollicking lampoon of celebrity life in the fast lane.


“Geezer Lit”—A New Genre?

December 11, 2010

Baby boomers (and their retired pals) might want to take a look at some Websites that deal with a genre someone had dubbed Geezer Lit. An LA Times article from 2007 seems to be the first mention of it. Then there’s the Geezer-Lit Mystery Blog written by one of the genre’s practitioners, Mike Befeler. And this chime-in from Cornell College. And finally, the LeRoy Collins Library in Tallahassee, Florida, looks at recent Geezer Lit and at examples written before the genre was invented.

Mary B, Reader’s Services

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