Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Top 10 Bookish Things I'd Like to Own

This week's topic from The Broke and the Bookish is: Top Ten Bookish Things (That Aren't Books) That I'd Like To Own.

I know a lot of people will say, bookshelves, bookshelves and more bookshelves. Or, maybe some great bookmarks. Or book ends. I actually don't want any of those things. I'm trying to trim down on the actual owning of books. What I've always really wanted, and never have quite gotten around to, is a collection of bookish themed t-shirts. How great would that be? I could wear them to work, and be so comfy, but also look super dedicated to being a librarian at the same time. They'd be great conversation starters. I could look so literate and smart in a humble-braggy way. Yes! Sadly, I am terribly, terribly frugal and also, apparently, bad at hinting for presents, so I have never actually bought myself or been gifted any of these items. 

Here are 10 (count 'em, ten!) bookish t-shirts that I have my eye on.

1) Storytellers shirt from Threadless.

2) House Brawl shirt from Threadless.

3) Oz t-shirt from Out of Print.

4) Pride and Prejudice t-shirt from Out of Print.

5) Where the Wild Things Are t-shirt. I don't know who makes this shirt. And I never wear hot pink. But I want it!

6) Reading is Sexy t-shirt. Yes. Yes it is. Okay, I wouldn't wear this one to work.

7) Slytherin t-shirt. I need one of these.

8) Lord of the Rings t-shirt. I could probably start shopping around and find about 10 awesome shirts that were Lord of the Rings themed. Especially if they had Elvish writing on them. I like this one though.

9) Edgar Allen Poe t-shirt. I just found this one randomly on Etsy. I like it! I think it's out of print though.

10) Alice in Wonderland t-shirt.

I could keep going! What about a Hunger Games t-shirt? Or a Shakespeare t-shirt? Or, just about a dozen other things? I think the real problem though, is that I don't actually dress like this. I rarely, if ever, wear t-shirts with designs on them. So, I see these on the internet, and the thought crosses my mind, "Oh, cool, I wish I had that," and then, wisely, perhaps, I decide not to buy it, so they don't sit in the back of my closet, unworn.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Written in the Stars review

Written in the Stars
by Lois Duncan
Lizzie Skurnick Books
March 2014

This collection of hard-to-find short stories written at the beginning of Duncan's career in the early 1950s transports readers to another era, one in which marrying one's high school sweetheart was the norm, young men entered military service in droves, and the chief concern of most young girls was finding the right man with whom to settle down. The cadence and vocabulary evoke the period. “Written in the Stars” features a girl realizing with shock that her high school beau isn't “The One” as they drift apart once he starts college. In “Return” shell-shocked young veteran Bill struggles with readjusting to life back home from the front. “April” deals with the intense sibling rivalry between intelligent, but plain Martha Dunning and her glamorous older sister April, who appears to coast by on her good looks. In “Time to Find Out” Janie stands up for herself and delays marriage with her military-bound boyfriend. 
Close-knit families with warm and supportive brother/sister relationships which echo the author's own family are featured in most of the stories. Each entry is appended with a note from Duncan on where each piece was originally published, her inspiration for it, and what was happening in her life at that time. Perfect for Lois Duncan completists, this collection of short stories may spark interesting conversations with teens about how gender roles have changed over the years.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
This review originally appeared in School Library Journal.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Guessing game felt board

I had so much fun with this felt board. I tried something new, and instead of doing a song or rhyme to go along with this activity, I just tried a discussion with the kids about what could be behind these mystery boxes.

I gave them lots of clues, such as: 
This animal is a mammal.
This animal has fluffy white wool.
This animal sounds like, "baaaa!"
What is it?

This animal is a sheep!

Here are all our animals, revealed. I think we had a lot of fun with this guessing game. Kids at my storytimes are super fond of animal noises, so even if they didn't guess with the other clues I gave them, they definitely had fun with our animal sounds!

This was a really fun and different dialoging exercise, and I'm really glad I tried it.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Leviathan review

by Scott Westerfeld, illustrated by Keith Thompson
Simon Pulse
October 2009

Leviathan is an unusual steampunk adventure, as the action is set during an alternate history of World War I, rather than the Victorian period.  In this story, the British style themselves as "Darwinists" and have a formidable air force composed of genetically modified "beasties."  Their German opposition, known as "Clankers" use over-sized metallic walkers and tanks.  The story follows, in mostly alternating chapters, two young protagonists, Deryn, a.k.a. Dylan Sharp, a midshipman in the British air navy and Aleksander Ferdinand, son of the murdered Austrian Arch-Duke and a budding Clanker pilot.

Deryn, the new Darwinist recruit, is hiding a secret -- "he" is actually a "she."  Her brother and recently-deceased father have given her an unconventional upbringing and encouraged her interest in flying, even though only men are allowed in the air service.  I felt that Westerfeld really hit the right note with Deryn.  It's such a common science-fiction and fantasy trope to have a young girl disguise herself as a boy in order to go off and have adventures... but it's pretty uncommon to see characters address this problem with the seriousness that it deserves.  Deryn spends the first three-quarters of the novel terrified that she will be found out.  Being caught is her number one concern, and it drives most of her decisions, including her impetous piloting and her foul mouth. (Westerfeld's gritty street vernacular includes terms like, "clart," "boffin" and "barking spiders.")

Alek is the son of the recently murdered Arch-Duke Ferdinand of Austria.  He is on the run, aided by two of his loyal retainers, and remains one step ahead of the war-mongering Germans, as he attempts to re-group and prove his legitimacy.

The thing that surprised me the most about Leviathan was my own reaction to the Darwinists.  I found myself thoroughly skeeved out by the description of the living airships, with their attendant symbiotic life-forms creating a self-sustaining biosphere.  A typical ship would be mostly whale, with perhaps a bit jellyfish and a number of other "life threads" mixed in.  It would be accompanied by double-nosed hydrogen sniffing dogs, flocks of bats and birds, messenger lizards and more.  Plenty of thought went in to how the living airships would be fed and how waste management would be handled.  Oddly, the "Clanker" steam-driven technology, appealed to me much more.  How awesome would it be to pilot one of those?  From the description in the book, they sound just like the AT-AT walkers from Star Wars.

I'll recommend this for Westerfeld fans, and steampunk aficionados looking for something a little different.

Compare to:
Mortal Engines - Philip Reeve
The Bloomswell Diaries - Louis L. Buitenbag
Soulless - Gail Carringer

I borrowed this book from the library.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Read in March

No fooling! Last month I read the following the books:

1. Hexed - Michelle Krys
2. Mother Daughter Me - Katie Hafner
3. More Than This - Patrick Ness

Picture credit: Girl Reading by George Cochran Lambdin

Friday, March 28, 2014

More Than This review

More Than This
by Patrick Ness
Candlewick Press
September 2013

I nearly gave up on this book. I make a rule, that if a book doesn't grab me in the first fifty pages, it's okay to give up on it. Let me recount what happens in the first fifty pages of this story:

  • Seth wakes up and is confused and disoriented. He's in his childhood home in England, with no idea how he got there.
  • He drinks some water
  • He throws up quite a lot.
  • He falls asleep again.
  • He manages to pee. It is a bit of an ordeal.
  • He sleeps.
  • He bathes in the rain, but does not feel much cleaner.
  • He eats a bit of horrid cold chicken soup from a can

And... that's it. Ladies and gentlemen, I was ready to throw in the towel right there, but I had several friends who had read the book and encouraged me, keep on going! It gets better!

I am glad that I soldiered on. Once poor Seth gets past the very base of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, things start to get interesting when Regine and Tomasz show up. Regine and Tomasz are both are willing to entertain Seth's idea that they are in some kind of afterlife - a hellscape, if you will - but it seems that all of them have suffered blows to the head, disconnecting some kind of chip installed in their heads, and all of them are having vivid dreams of their lives and the circumstances that led them to the abandoned English town where they find themselves. Seth has a traumatic past, unloving parents, a special needs younger brother Owen (he blames himself for Owen's difficulties) and has recently discovered, thanks to his new boyfriend Gudmund, that he is gay. Regine has been in a very abusive home with a sketchy stepfather and young Tomasz was a struggling Polish immigrant.

This is a true dystopia, with a grim landscape and tons of suspense. It's a bit Matrix-like, and readers who aren't put off by the incredibly slow start will find the incredible twists and turns of the plot very satisfying.

Compare to:

Blood Red Road - Moira Young
Hello America - J.G. Ballard
The Silver Child - Cliff McNish
The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness

I borrowed this book from the library.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Top Seven Things On My Bookish Bucket List

1.) Get caught up on all the book reviews I'd like to put on my blog. I know - I can dream, right?

2.) And in a similar vein, I have a small bookshelf of ARCs sitting by my bedside that need to be read...

3.) Read 300 books in a single year. Okay. It's not quite Tolstoy and the Purple Chair - a woman who pledged to read a book day (real literature, too!) for an entire year. But, it's pretty close. Most years I struggle to break the 100 books read record.

4.) Be cool as a cucumber around my favorite authors. So many times, when I meet my favorite authors I just spaz out and barely manage to stammer out a coherent greeting. I'm proud of the times that I've met with authors and managed to appear intelligent and sane - I just wish it was all the time!

5.) Be able to say that I've read 10% of the collection at my library. I know 10% doesn't sound like much - but with a collection of 90,000+ titles, 10% would be pretty darn impressive.

6.) Attend BEA again. It's been a loooong time since I've been to Book Expo America. It's a convention that I usually skip in favor of going to the ALA Annual Conference, (or in favor of my own vacation to visit family and friends, imagine that!) But I would like to check it out again, especially since I'm told that it's changed and grown so much in the last several years!

7.) I have always dreamed of serving on the Newbery committee. I've kept my ALA membership active and applied for it several times, but I've never come close to being chosen for the prestigious book award committee. Maybe one day it will happen!

I know this is supposed to be a top 10 list - but I really can't think of three more things! I feel that I've been pretty lucky in already accomplishing so many things that I'd like to: working in a bookstore and now a library, meeting authors, hosting booksignings, traveling to bookish events, thinning out my book collection, participating in Nanowrimo, meeting lots of reading and reviewing goals. I keep pretty busy.

What's on your top 10 bookish bucket list?


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