Aurora Public Library Blog

Welcome to Aurora Public Library’s blog. A place where our library staff share their thoughts, insider knowledge and overall love of all things book and community.

Feel free to comment on posts, re-blog and enjoy. To ensure a civil and focused discussion, comments will be held for a brief period before being published.



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January 2021 - Posts
Made in a Mug

Made in a Mug: Gingerbread Mug Cake
by Tessy

Need a sweet treat? A savory mouthful? Join us for "APL Made in a Mug" for your next bite-sized recipe! 

January's recipe is Gluten-Free Cinnamon Roll in a Mug.
Recipe from Gathered Nutrition by Mia Zarlengo. Thanks to Mia for letting us share this recipe! Check out the full recipe here.

Let us know if you try this recipe and what you think of it!

Posted by svanholb@auroragov.org  On Jan 08, 2021 at 1:01 PM
  
Readers' Realm

Readers' Realm: Adventure!
with Lisa

Welcome to the Readers’ Realm! Our new online book club, Readers' Realm, explores a different genre/category each month and encourages middle school fiction lovers to share their favorite reads - and find some new ones along the way!

This month’s genre: ADVENTURE! Plan to read your book in about a month.  A new discussion topic will be posted each Wednesday through Jan. 27. Then it's on to a new genre/category!   

Feel free to post as much as you like.  Be sure to read others’ comments and respond to them too.  Let’s get to it!

This week's questions:
What book did you choose? Why did you choose your adventure book? Who is your favorite author? Just from the title and the first few pages, what do you think the adventure will be about?   

I’m reading "The Tomb" by S. A. Bodeen (one of our featured authors).  I choose it because I’ve liked her other books, and the title sounded a bit scary. A tomb?  Is something/someone coming out or going in?  The first few pages take place in Ancient Egypt, but the cover shows outer space.  Hmmmmm... I’ll have to see how that goes together. Maybe the Egyptians learn about some aliens?? 

The Tomb

Tell us about your book in the comments below! 
Looking for an adventure book? Check out some of these great titles! 

Posted by svanholb@auroragov.org  On Jan 06, 2021 at 8:25 AM
  
Grab & Go Together

Grab & Go Together: Winter Embroidery
with Tessy

Create a quaint winter-themed pin using embroidery!
Need supplies? Grab & Go kits with everything you need are available at Hoffman Library! Available while supplies last. 

Posted by svanholb@auroragov.org  On Jan 05, 2021 at 10:54 AM
  
Read It!

Family Book Club: "The Green Ember" by S.D. Smith
 
Aurora Public Library and Jefferson County Public Library welcome S.D. Smith, author of "The Green Ember" for a virtual visit on Jan. 25 at 5 p.m. Register for the event here.

The Green Ember

Get ready for this special event by reading "The Green Ember" throughout January! FREE copies (that you can keep) are available at all Aurora Public Library branches, while supplies last. Unlimited copies of the eAudiobook are available free with your library card via HooplaDigital.  
For JCPL patrons, "The Green Ember" is available for checkout and online as an eAudiobook via HooplaDigital and Axis360.
 
Below is a suggested reading schedule. Every Monday, there will be a new blog post related to the chapters we read that week! Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
 
Reading Schedule
Monday, Jan. 4 - Sunday, Jan. 10: Prologue - Chapter 14 (Forest Flight)
Monday, Jan. 11 - Sunday, Jan. 17: Chapter 15 (Picket's Check) - Chapter 30 (The Green Ember)
Monday, Jan. 18 - Sunday, Jan. 24: Chapter 31 (Jupiter's Crossing) - Chapter 44 (The Beginning)
Posted by svanholb@auroragov.org  On Jan 04, 2021 at 11:53 AM
  
Game on!

Game reviews by Brandon, Elizabeth, Justine, Kristin, and Stacy. 

Hello everyone! To celebrate the start of the new year, we hope you’ll enjoy these reviews of our favorite games we played throughout the weird year that was 2020! 

 Today's theme

Our favorite games of 2020 – not limited to games released in 2020, but games we played in 2020! 


Final Fantasy VII and Fall Guys 
Final Fantasy

"Promise has been made; they are coming back" When the ominous narrator announced this at the E3 teaser trailer in 2015, I immediately became both excited and terrified. One of the most influential games of my childhood was being remade. How could they possibly meet my expectations? Well, not only did they meet my expectations, but they far surpassed them. A fast-paced combat system acts as a brilliant reinvention of the battles we know and love. Phenomenal graphics showcase Midgar just as you remembered it from the days of the PS1. Most importantly though, the story acts as a loveletter to fans of the original, while also bringing meaningful twists that make for a compelling story once again, over 20 years later. Now excuse me while I put on “One-Winged Angel” for the one hundred and ninth time. 

Fall Guys
I’ve made it no secret that I’m a huge fan of games with a strong storyline and a great single player campaign. However, I find myself listing a multiplayer game with no story whatsoever, as my second favorite game of the year. You ever see those game shows with people dodging ridiculous obstacles and trying to make it to the end of the course? Well, imagine that, only with 59 other players at the same time, and everyone is some kind of weird jellybean...thing. You could also call this Endorphin Rush: The Game. The vibrant graphics and groovy music will hook you right from the get go, and the zany gameplay will keep you hooked. There is technically an option to pay for additional in game currency, but all of the best rewards are locked behind gameplay achievements, which is very refreshing to see. Survive each round and you will truly become, top jellybean...thing. - Brandon 


 Hades by SuperGiant Games  

Hades

Zagreus, the protagonist of Hades, looks like he’s going to be moody or mean. He’s all fire and brimstone, with flaming feet and a skull on his shoulder. Nope! He’s not mean at all! Zagreus is just a teenager who likes petting his three-headed dog, talking to friends, and escaping from hell while fighting various terrifying creatures.  

Hades is a roguelike game: try to escape, die, start over, rinse, repeat. In Hades, though, every time you die, you get more story: you can help heartbroken couples reunite, bond with your family, make friends, and even romance a few characters should you so choose, all while solving the mystery of Zagreus’s past. That’s why my brother has beaten this game multiple times, while I get to gloat because I know plot secrets. Plus, there’s a God Mode if you really get fed up, so you can enjoy the story without all of the pain of dying again and again. (And pet Cerberus, of course! The bestest boy.) - Elizabeth 
 

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn 

For most, the Fire Emblem franchise might be a little annoying because they’ve only ever known it as that series of characters in Smash Bros. Ultimate that takes up half the roster. For diehard fans like myself, the JRPG series so much more than that, and I spent this year reliving my childhood by replaying one of my old favorites and playing its predecessor for the first time. Two ultra rare Nintendo games, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance for the GameCube and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn for the Wii are fan favorites for those who were lucky enough to get their hands on them back in 2005 and 2007 respectively. Nowadays, most people end up having to enjoy them on emulators or shell out hundreds on eBay to get their hands on them due to their limited availability, which leads me to the hope that one day the Switch will get a port or a remake so everyone can enjoy them as much as I do!  

Path of Radiance 

Path of Radiance was a true delight for me as a first time player. While I basically knew the story and have replayed its sequel, Radiant Dawn, to the point of wearing out my copy, I had never gotten to play the first game in the series until this year. It was incredibly satisfying to hear the GameCube theme as I booted up the ancient little box. The endorphins were flowing before the game even loaded! Unlike current installments, Path of Radiance features “perma-death,” meaning if any of your units die in battle, they stay dead unless you reset. There’s also no way to save your progress before making a move mid-battle, so strategy is paramount. I found the game extremely difficult even on the easiest mode, but the challenge was welcome. The thrill of winning a battle without losing any of my favorite characters was unparalleled. Seeing the main protagonist Ike as a teenager, as many know him from Smash Bros., gave me a new appreciation for the character. In the sequel he’s powerful and sure of himself from years of being a mercenary, but in Path of Radiance he lacks confidence and has to be babied on the battlefield until he’s strong enough to fend for himself. Charting his growth as a character was a joy! 

Radiant Dawn

Radiant Dawn for me is a safe refuge, like coming home. I’ve replayed the game so many times that I have my strategies mapped out to a science and I can practically play in my sleep. I have so many fond memories of playing the game with my brothers and comparing strategies, and some not-so-fond ones of them accidentally saving over my save file and having to start over. The nostalgia hit me harder than ever as I replayed the game, enjoying the story as much as I did the first time and finally understanding references to Path of Radiance that didn’t make sense to me before. Perhaps I have rose-tinted glasses on when it comes to Radiant Dawn, but despite its flaws it remains one of my favorite games of all time and it’s always there for me when I need respite from the stresses of real life. It’s a wonderful end to Ike’s story and without it, we’d never have Ike in Smash Bros.! What a sad day that’d be. - Justine 


Overwatch 

Welp, I started a bunch of games this year and finished almost none of them. Hades was neat, but Elizabeth covered that. I finally got into The Witcher III, but I have so much content left it doesn't seem fair to review it yet. Ori and the Will of the Wisps was everything I hoped for, minus the dark level which was--augh. Why do games still have dark levels? They're never fun. The new Pokemon expansions were neat (overworld following!), though short. I picked up the Fire Emblem Pop Star game (?) over the Thanksgiving sale and it's surprisingly well-done. Phasmophobia is hands-down the best play-with-friends game I've found in ages.   

Overall, though, if I had to review the one game I liked best this year-- based on play time alone, consistently, all year-- it'd have to be Overwatch. 

Overwatch

I just never seem to get bored with this game. I have over 275 hours on Ana and I still love playing at least a few nights a week. The games are fast-paced, unlike the hide-and-wait style of games like Valorant. The roster of 32 characters with unique powers and abilities also feels so much more dynamic and vibrant in contrast to standard military shooters. There are, after all, a talking gorilla and hamster on cast. I love the emphasis on team dynamics and coordinated gameplay, and the focus on narrow tightly-tuned maps instead of sprawling battle royale expanses. You're meant to always know where your allies are and to work closely with them, and the combos feel very rewarding to pull off.  

I never really understood the draw of watching sports before this, but Overwatch is an eSport I could actively follow-- especially a support streamer like mL7. This must be what little kids feel like watching NBA games and then playing on the neighborhood basketball hoop. I watch matches played by a top-tier Ana player then jump into a game myself and try to emulate him-- with an overall very average level of play, true, but every now and then I get lucky and pull off a pro move and get that feeling like, "--and the crowd goes wild aaaaaaa." This game is endlessly fun and I love it.  -Kristin 

 
The Cat Lady and The Longest Journey 

2020 should have been the year of completing my backlog of video games – what, with the outside world shutting down and then there was that whole being locked inside for a good few months out of the year. Yet – despite the extra time being home, I recall only completing maybe three games out of the large handful of games I started; Final Fantasy VII, Sonic Generations, and The Cat Lady. Of course, it would be easy to go on and on about the new Final Fantasy VII remake or my nostalgic love for Sonic Generations - but instead I am going to talk about The Cat Lady.  

The Cat Lady

Mature Content Warning: The Cat Lady is a puzzle-based indie psychological horror and is not a game for children. Developed by Harvester Games and released in 2009 The Cat Lady follows Susan Ashworth, a chronically depressed, middle-aged woman with no friends, as she returns to the land of living with the new power of immortality to rid the world of five evil psychopaths. One thing I reallyreally liked about this game was how easy the controls ended up being – you need nothing more than the arrow keys on your keyboard, and escape to exit/pullup the start menu. This allows the player to fully immerse in the game and the story that it’s characters are laying out. The other thing I really liked about this game were the topics it hit on. Unlike most video games that focus on big picture items such as saving the world/the human race, this game deals with topics that are a bit more personal and harder to swallow. Some of the themes of this game include depression, suicide, murder, and cancer. If you’re looking for a game that will make this year feel less of a depressing garbage fire, probably look again. This game was immensely triggering and hard to get through – but it hit on topics that I personally feel are important to explore in a way that is engaging, interesting, and meaningful.  

The Longest Journey

Earlier this month I finally picked up and started playing the 1999 game, The Longest Journey developed by Funcom. This is a game that has been on my list for the past 10+ years and only now do I finally own a laptop capable of running older PC games. I was a huge fan of the sequel Dreamfall: The Longest Journey when that was originally released back in 2006, and I helped support and kickstart the third and final installment, Dreamfall Chapters, a couple of years ago. I am looking forward to being able to start 2021 with The Longest Journey and I’m very excited to use 2021 to play through and finish the entire series! - Stacy 

Tell us what you think!
What games did you start, finish, or set aside in 2020? What games are you looking forward to the most in 2021?  
Posted by svanholb@auroragov.org  On Jan 02, 2021 at 9:37 AM
  
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