Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Ten Books New to the TBR

This week's topic from The Broke and Bookish is Ten Books You Recently Added To Your To-Be-Read List. My To-Be-Read list is a constant work in progress. I'm always adding and dropping books from the list. Here are the most recent items I added.

The Conspiracy of Us - Maggie Hall

Pretending to Be Erica - Michelle Painchaud

The Secret History of Wonder Woman - Jill Lepore

The Winner's Crime - Marie Rutkoski

The Paper Magician - Charlie Holmberg

Girl on a Wire - Gwenda Bond

Pennyroyal Academy - M.A. Larson

Shadow Study - Maria V. Snyder

The Heir - Kiera Cass

A Darker Shade of Magic - V. E. Schwa

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dystopian Mashup

Here's a spoof, pointing out that all dystopian movies are really the same.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Nesting at the library

With the recent arrival of my new daughter, I thought I'd share a funny story...

My last few weeks of pregnancy, I'd catch myself looking around the house, thinking of all the things I had left to do to prepare for the new baby, and wondering, "When does this famed nesting instinct kick in?" I just felt too tired after a long day at work, much of it on my feet (although I did start dragging a chair out to the circulation counter, towards the end) to get much cleaning or organizing around my house accomplished.

Wednesday, February 25, the branch library was closed due to a potential ice storm. Thursday, the library was opening late... I found myself hoping for another snow day, due to the low fever I was running, and finally decided to call in sick that day and rest up. Friday, I returned to work, as normal. On Saturday, the library is generally very busy. I got to work that day, and even though I'd been meaning to go easy on myself, I found that I really could not stand how backlogged we were. 

For folks who like to imagine that librarians lead lives of leisure, idly flipping through the pages of the latest novels as we sit, bored, at the circulation/reference desk, you could not be more dead wrong. There were so many carts of returned books to be shelved, and simply not enough staff to get it all done. I shelved like a madwoman all day!  That is a workout that any fitness instructor would be proud of... lots of lifting (boxes of books are heavy!) squatting, scootching, stretching, kneeling and lifting, getting everything back into its proper place. 

Sunday I had the day off, and spent the day visiting with family. And early Monday morning, on March 2, I went into labor, nearly three weeks early! Oh gosh, what a surprise. Everyone in my family typically goes way overdue, needs to be induced and delivers 10-pound babies. That was what I had been expecting. I was a little mad at myself - if I hadn't exerted myself at work, would I have gone into labor so early? My mother-in-law (who is also a librarian) and several of my librarian friends immediately said, "Aha! That was your nesting instinct!" 

Oh, my gosh... they're right! That was it - I can't believe I finally felt like nesting and I used it all up at work! I could have been, oh, I don't know, mopping my kitchen floor, or obsessively organizing and re-organizing baby clothes, you know? Ah, well... I hope our patrons appreciate it. I'm on maternity leave now, and won't be doing any shelving for several more weeks. ;)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Charmed review

by Michelle Krys
Delacorte Press
May 2015

Former cheerleader Indigo Blackwood is still exploring her newly awakened supernatural powers after an epic battle over a magic Witch's Bible in her family's care has left her mother dead and Indie in the care of her reformed party-animal aunt. After getting caught up in an ancient witch and sorcerer rivalry, Indigo's childhood friend Paige is banished to a hellscape alternate dimension of Los Angeles called Los Demonios. Paige's family has had their memories erased and are unconcerned about their missing daughter, while Indie's aunt Penny and boyfriend Bishop are convinced that post-apocolyptic Los Demonios is far too dangerous for them to attempt a rescue. 

Forced to carry out her rescue mission in secret, Indigo experiences a brief flirtation with warlock Cruz that makes her question her relationship with Bishop and uncovers a deadly sorcerer plot that threatens teens kidnapped from Los Angeles. Indigo must also grapple with some shocking secrets about her supernatural heritage. Krys' sequel to Hexed wraps up everything fairly neatly, while still laying the groundwork for future novels in the series with hints of a school for witchcraft and wizardry in New York.

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

Friday, March 13, 2015

Year of the Bomb review

The Year of the Bomb
by Ronald Kidd
Simon & Schuster
June 2009

First line: "There were Martians in the backyard."

In Sierra Madre, California, 1955, Paul and his three best friends Oz, Crank and Arnie are obsessed with monster movies. The War of the Worlds inspired opening, where Martians have seemingly landed, will not fail to draw readers in.  Paul and his friends are overjoyed to learn that Invasion of the Body Snatchers will be coming to film in their downtown.

It really is amazing to think that this juxtaposition of events: monster movies and world altering break-throughs in physics, including work on nuclear bombs, were all happening within a 15 mile radius. While Paul and his friends enjoy a lot of freedom - they ride their bikes, or bus around town, with no fear of crime, the negative sides to the 1950's are also highlighted. Hollywood Boulevard has yet to become a seedy (and later still, commercialized and gentrified) place.  The book touches lightly on the Hollywood blacklist as well as the pressures that families (especially fathers) felt at that time to financially keep up with the Joneses.  

There's a wonderful contrast in this novel between the (artificial) fear that Paul loves to inspire in himself watching monster movie matinees vs. the very real daily fears that he struggles with.  He genuinely fears nuclear attack, and family dynamics are tense as his father slogs away in a top-secret military job that he hates in order to pay the bills.  The other boys families have similar problems.  Paul is soon drawn into some FBI intrigue, as one of the female extras on the set (who Paul immediately develops an innocent crush on) starts spying on her fellow castmates, looking for signs of Communist sympathizers.

I thought it strained credulity that the four boys would gain such easy access to the movie set, as well as famed physicist Richard Feynman's office.  They literally show up and start grilling Feynman with questions.  Feynman answers them in full and pours his heart out to the boys.  Still, it's an enjoyable read and Kidd definitely manages to transport you to another time.

Compare to:
Rex Zero and the End of the World - Tim Wynne-Jones
Penny From Heaven - Jennifer L. Holm
Okay for Now - Gary D. Schmidt

I borrowed this book from the library.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Best Boarding School Books

This week's topic from The Broke and Bookish is Top 10 Books for Readers Who Like...  I chose Boarding Schools. I'm a sucker for a story that takes place in a boarding school. I think it's because most Americans don't go to boarding school, so it's an interesting concept, and what better way to get your young protagonists away from their parents, and amongst their peers, having adventures. Again, I had trouble keeping it to just 10 books, so I rounded it up to a dozen.

White Cat - Holly Black
A Great and Terrible Beauty - Libba Bray
I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You - Ally Carter
Marked - P.C. + Kristin Cast
Evernight - Claudia Gray
The Princess Academy - Shannon Hale
Hex Hall - Rachel Hawkins
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks - E. Lockhart
Anna and the French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling
The Burning Sky - Sherry Thomas
Dead Beautiful - Yvonne Woon

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Bookish Links du Jour 3/8/15

Oh no! There's much consternation on the internets, as author Shannon Hale talks about a sadly frequent phenomenon. Being invited as an author to school visits and finding that only the girls have been invited to her program.

Digital natives prefer reading in print! E-books are gaining in popularity, but the number of readers who read e-books exclusively is still actually very small. Many prefer to switch back and forth, and of course, there are a lot of die-hards who just always prefer paper.

Reading aloud to young children, especially before they start school is one of the best ways to increase reading readiness and future scholastic success. Here's a recent academic paper which breaks down just how much benefit there is to reading children's literature. They show that picture books use 50% more rare words and provide much richer vocabulary than your average children's television show. Also, reading 20 minutes a day will expose your child to over 1,800,000 vocabulary words over the course of a year!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Read in February 2015

Last month I read the following books:

1. The Rules - Stacey Kade
2. Girls for Breakfast - David Woo

picture credit: Reading Girl by Mona Bell

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Recent Faves

This week's topic from The Broke and Bookish is Top 10 All Time Favorite Books. (from the past 3 years) I had a little trouble narrowing it down to 10 - so I've rounded it up to a nice dozen. Here we go!

The Future of Us - Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
     I loved this time-travelly adventure about the path not taken, as two teens from 1996 discover some kind of loophole in time revealing their future Facebook pages and their small decisions as teens affect their future 30 year old selves in large ways.

Beta - Rachel Cohn
     This was so different from anything else I've read by Rachel Cohn. It's a quasi-dystopian about the struggles of a clone girl.

A Hero for WondLA - Tony DiTerlizzi
     The second book in the WondLA series has Eva 9 discovering that she's not the last living human as she originally thought. The artwork and the Oz influences in this sci-fi series are fantastic.

Seraphina - Rachel Hartman
     A half-dragon girl struggles in a medieval world setting. Loved it!

Shades of Milk and Honey - Mary Robinette Kowal
     It's like Jane Austen... with wizards! Sold.

We Were Liars - E. Lockhart
     I love a book with a great twist at the end, and this one is a doozy.

The Lies of Locke Lamora - Scott Lynch
     Epic fantasy, starring one of the best rogues ever conceived.

Incarnate - Jodi Meadows
     Another fantasy, about a girl newly arrived in a society of reincarnated souls.

His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik
     Napoleonic Wars... with dragons! Everything's better with dragons. That's just a fact.

Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell
     I actually had a tough time picking out which Rainbow Rowell book to include. Eleanor and Park was so romantic and wonderful. But, I loved the twin sisters in Fangirl and the "excerpts" from the fanfic throughout this story.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor
     Amaaaaazing! Wow. The world-building in this series is bar-none, some of the best ever.

The List - Siobhan Vivian
     I love books with alternating chapters - this story featured a large cast of girls who each have been nominated for "the list" a cruel annual tradition at their school, which rates the prettiest and ugliest girls of each grade.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Bookish Links du Jour 3/1/15

Here's one way to enjoy the snowy weather...
There's a new Dr. Seuss book is coming out this summer. What Pet Should I Get? is a continuation of One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and makes for the seventh posthumously published Seuss book (not counting the 40 plus Cat in the Hat adaptations put out by Tish Rabe and Bonnie Worth.)

Grinches are looking to shut down Little Free Libraries, usually citing building codes and permits. What a shame. The basic idea behind Little Free Libraries is so charming and beautiful - to share favorite books with the community and foster neighborliness. If I had one argument with Little Free Libraries, it's that sadly, I see too many people treat them as "dumping grounds" for books of questionable quality. I've seen far too many moldy books, tattered newspapers, outdated appliance manuals and the like stashed in LFL's around town. C'mon, people! Use them in the spirit that they're intended and the world will be a better place.

People are talking about Pattern Recognition's blog post about shamefully low library director salaries in the rural U.S. Check out the comments for some interesting opinions.


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