Sunday, July 25, 2010

Paper Heart

I watched this great documentary today that I discovered thanks to Rotten Tomatoes, called Paper Heart. It's about a young woman's journey to discover what love really is and if it is possible for her to obtain it. She spends most of the movie affirming that she doesn't believe in love, until it accidently drops itself in her lap, in the form of actor Michael Cera, who's starred in brilliant indie films such as Juno with Ellen Page and the better well-known flick Superbad. He is so cute and awkward, how can you not help but fall for him? She spends most of the film interviewing other people around the US about what they feel is love, like couples who have been together for fifty years to wedding chapel operators and preachers in Vegas to a bikers at a biker bar. It made me laugh and cry, and I think it would be great to use as a part of a teen or adult program in the library. Here's the trailer if you are interested.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Happy Friday!

This week has been pretty dismal for me and I've not gotten excited about much of anything. However, I will say that watching The Rotten Tomatoes Show at leasts makes me laugh on an otherwise blah day. Especially this one, which features a review of the newest Russell Crowe movie Robin Hood followed by Crowe's top five lines in his filmography, which I found hilarious. The end of the show also features Michael Caine's five favorite films and he has very good taste. There's also this clip about James McAvoy's Top 5 films, which is nice just so I can listen to his Scottish accent but I also like him as an actor; and this one with another favorite actor, Brendan Fraser, who I love because he can do silly kid's roles alongside with more serious dramatic ones.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bolton Wanderers vs Charleston Battery

So the game was a lot of fun, despite the day being so hot it was like being in a sauna in your clothes all day, we were sweating so much. The only advantage to this sticky situation is that everyone else you are with has also been sweating all day and so they don't mind the smell as much. Needless to say, I never want to experience that again. I was way too uncomfortably hot. We went to the game early and got to tailgate with The Regiment, the fan club for the Battery. We met a nice guy named Mikey who my hubby had been talking to on the Club's forums. This was the first time an English Premier League team had played in South Carolina, so we were psyched to be amongst the 5000+ fans there to watch it (luckily we had a seat, but they had so many people there, it ended up being standing room only behind the goals). We are hoping that this will encourage other EPL teams to come to South Carolina, so maybe we can see some really good clubs like Man City, Tottenham, or even Liverpool (*fingers crossed*). We watched the teams warming up before the game and I was surprised how close we were to the pitch. There were a decent amount of British fans, including those that live in the area and Bolton fans that were traveling with the team. The other big surprise was how quiet it was during the game. I guess I'm just used to watching English Premier League games which are always so noisy.That being said, it was however, a really fun game to watch. The Wanderers won 2-0, though the Battery at least were putting up a fight despite losing.

My hubby was psyched because he got to take a picture and get an autograph from Owen Coyle, the manager of Bolton (who is an ex-footballer for Republic of Ireland and Bolton). We tried to get more autographs after the game, but there were too many people and the good players left early. For me, at least, there were quite a few good looking players on the field, including a cute balding ref. This is not a prerequisite but useful when you get a boring game, at least you have someone cute to look at. One of the things we noticed was how small the Charleston players were in comparison to Bolton, who had one guy that was at least 6' 6". It literally looked like Bolton was playing against a bunch of high-schoolers with the height difference. The only really annoying thing about the game were the vuvuzelas, those horns from World Cup fame. Our friend who went with us got one and spent the rest of the game blowing it at other people and generally annoying us and everyone around us. There were a couple of times I thought people were going to beat the crap out of him and possibly us for sitting with him. Those things should seriously be banned from games.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Soccer Game tomorrow!

Tomorrow the hubby and I get to go down to Charleston and see the local amateur team, the Charleston Battery play the English Premier League team, the Bolton Wanderers. Should be an interesting game. It will be our first opportunity to see a real English-style football game and hopefully meet some new soccer fans and maybe even some players!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Old Spice Guy Defends Libraries

I found this video clip this morning on Facebook from the group I belong to called "I Love Libraries." I found it short but to the point. Here's the video. Other Old Spice Guy videos can be accessed there as well, though the Old Spice Guy channel on YouTube has a lot more.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

On a happier note

I have recently finished a number of good books that I wanted to share, with some of my reviews and some professional websites:

The Snow Day by Komako Sakai
I loved the illustrations in this easy to read picture book about a young rabbit's snow day out of school. He is out of school because the bus has been unable to get through the snow and is at home with his mom, waiting for his dad to come home from the airport. I love it that he makes snow dumplings!

Miss Brooks Loves Books by Barbara Bottner
I love this book about a girl who isn't enthusiastic about reading and doesn't think she will find a book she likes, as well as a very energetic children's librarian named Miss Brooks, who is not only excited about reading but also has a penchant for dressing in costumes to express it. No book works for her until she discovers William Steig's "Shrek" which she thinks is the greatest book in the world.

I love the illustrations as well and as the book blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast says in her review of the book about the fist pump that the librarian Miss Brooks does in the illustration at the end of the book: "And that’s because Miss Brooks has scored. She has landed an epic win in the way we librarians want to with child readers: She found that book that won her heart. And, in this day and age of reading programs and reading for trinket-type incentives (translated: pencils and McDonald’s coupons), it’s extra fabulous to see an adult like that who simply models a love of reading and makes reading itself—and the kickin’ stories that come from these books—the reward. I think to call this a librarian’s picture book might limit it too much, though it certainly will win the heart of teachers and librarians alike. I think it’s got something for everyone. ("

A Platypus, Probably by Sneed B. Collard (yes this is a real person)

Frankie Works the Night Shift by Lisa Westberg Peters
This book was a really well done and cute mix of photographs and digital art to create wonderful illustrations. Frankie is a cat who takes care of business after dark, including chasing a mouse through the house while its owners sleep, but during the day he just sleeps.

Pantaloon by Kathryn Jackson
Adorable book with bright pictures about a poodle in pants who likes to wear hats and eat the pastries in the bakery. One day the baker has an accident b/c of Pantaloon's bicycle and he takes over, decorating and delivering the baked goods all over town. He leaves the baker but everyone wonders where he has gone so the baker bakes an enormous cake to get him back and they live happily ever after.

The Scarecrow and His Servant by Philip Pullman (audiobook)
I discovered this audiobook by accident while looking for other Philip Pullman books to read. I absolutely loved the zany randomness of it. It reminded me of Don Quixote meets L. Frank Baum meets silly British humor. The story is that a scarecrow in a field comes along and gains a servant out of a young boy called Jack. They end up going on crazy adventures beating up bandits, joining the army, getting shipwrecked on a deserted island and making friends with the birds. It was a short quick book that I would be proud to own along with Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo (audiobook)
The first time I tried to read this book, I got bored about 20 pages in. So I decided to tackle it again after hearing how good it was from other children's librarians. The audiobook did the trick and I absolutely loved it and couldn't wait to hear what happened next to Edward. The book is about a rabbit made of porcelain named Edward Tulane who goes on a quite literally a "miraculous journey" in order to open his heart and find out about love and the joy/pain that it brings. Overall it was a very sad book and the ending made me cry, but it was such a good message that I recommend it to everyone. It was kind of like The Velveteen Rabbit, a story that I loved as a child.

Young Adult

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Ok first off I must say that yes, it did have elements of The Mortal Instruments series (the Nephilim and demons) and Twilight (girl likes mysterious boy who saves her when she goes galavanting off to the big city). That being said, I still liked the book. I was telling my husband that they didn't make romances like this when I was growing up, I was stuck with Harlequin bodice rippers. I think this kind is much more interesting. Even by the end of the book, you don't get all the secrets you would want from the main male character Patch. The story is that Nora is a descendent of the Nephilim, and she's got this mysterious guy named Patch who pops into her life during her junior year of high school. She keeps getting followed by mystery people, but you're never 100% sure until the end of the book who is hunting her. Is it Patch or someone else? I am very curious to see where the author goes with this series.

Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #1) by Maggie Stiefvater
I really enjoyed this book, despite the perspective switching back and forth (at least each chapter has a name, so you can keep track). I realized towards the end of reading this book that it was like a twist on Beauty and the Beast, though instead of being cursed by a witch, the main male character Sam is cursed to be a werewolf and only be human part of the year (but it's out of his control as when exactly that will be). The other main character Grace is interesting because she was carried off by the werewolves and bitten, but she never changed into one. Grace and Sam love each other from afar for 6 years before finally being able to be with each in person. It was a very romantic book, but not gushy like some teen romances can be. The ending was good and surprising in some senses. I'm curious to see what else the author does for the series.

Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code by Eoin Colfer (audiobook)
Another fantastic story about Artemis Fowl and his adventures, especially funny in the parts with Mulch Diggums and Juliet. In this one, he is trying to scam American entrepreneur John Spiro with a supercomputer called the Cube, but his plan backfires when Spiro and his goons steal the Cube and kill Butler. Can Artemis get to the fairies in time to save his friend? Does he get the Cube back and save the fairies from discovery? You must read it to find out!

The Confessions of Catherine De Medici by C.W. Gortner
I really liked this novelized version of the story of Catherine De Medici. It helped me see how human she was, how she was trying to protect herself and her family, vs. the demonized version (master poisoner/schemer/killer) I've heard before reading the book. It is so fascinating to learn about her life: how she started out fleeing from the Florentine gov't in the convent of the crazy Savonarola, then to Rome where her marriage to Francois II was arranged by her uncle Pope Clement VII, and then she goes to France where nobody knows her and her husband doesn't even both showing up for their wedding. Not to mention heading off attempts to control her and her children by her husband's mistress, that would've set me off, but she finally comes into her own right before her husband's death.

Injustices done while finding work

I, like a good chunk of the population, will be out of work as of mid-August. Granted I have been looking for jobs while I did have a job, but now that has been stepped up tremendously. I have been doing half of my search here in South Carolina and half in Arizona area. So far the best I've gotten is a chance to take some tests and a first-stage interview for a full time job, which I'm hoping I can get, but I have to go through another round of tests before I'm deemed worthy. And that job isn't even in my field.

The sad thing is most of my dream jobs require a Master's degree. And even though I am literally 4 1/2 months away from getting it, no one wants to take an interest in me. But neither can I get a library job requiring only a high school diploma or a Bachelor's degree (both of which I have). Where is the fairness in that? I have applied to both local county libraries a total of about 15 times each and no job offers, and I'm interning at one of them. I'm in library school, I'm getting a Masters and still I can't get a part time job in a library?!? It is uber-frustrating.

Even more so when I can't get a simple admin job (for which I have 3+ yrs experience) or a lesser job because I have too much education (yes, I even got rejected from Wal-Mart at one of my lowest points a few years ago). I'm just hoping at this point that I can either get a full time job in Arizona and move there and then try my luck at finding a job in libraries once I'm living there. I don't want this to be a repeat of my attempt to find work in the UK five years ago, when I eventually learned that I couldn't get a job there despite getting a degree there because I wasn't British or European Union.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

World Cup Final

Spain won the World Cup Final 1-0 against the Netherlands. I feel like I should be more excited about this as I was rooting for them the whole time, but weirdly enough I don't. I guess it's because I actually managed to watch the game and it was a bad game. My biggest problem was with the referring, specifically Howard Webb. I hated watching this guy ref during the 2008-2009 season as he gave out so many cards it was ridiculous, and this game was no exception with 9 yellow cards to the Dutch and 5 to the Spanish, plus one red card to the Dutch. It just seemed like they were handing the game to the Spanish, who weren't taking advantage of the situation until the 2nd overtime. So yay for Spain that they won the game, but I think I will have to go for the Dutch. So in honor of them, I decided to post a recipe for Dutch Apple Pancakes which I have been thinking about lately. This one comes from the Williams Sonoma website.

Dutch Apple Pancake
Also known as a German, or puff, pancake, this pancake puffs up because of the addition of eggs. Enjoy it for breakfast or brunch, garnished with a dusting of confectioners' sugar.
4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 Golden Delicious apple, cored and cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbs. granulated sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Preheat an oven to 400ºF. Butter a 10-inch ovenproof braiser or fry pan. In another fry pan over medium heat, melt 2 Tbs. of the butter. Add the apple, cinnamon and granulated sugar and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the apple begins to soften and brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Set aside. In a bowl, using a whisk, beat the eggs. Add the milk and whisk until blended. Sift the flour and salt into the egg mixture and whisk until just blended. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the remaining 2 Tbs. butter. Add the butter to the egg mixture and whisk until smooth.Pour the batter into the prepared pan and arrange the apple slices evenly on top. Bake until the pancake is browned and puffed up, 25 to 30 minutes. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve immediately. Serves 2 to 4.

Friday, July 9, 2010

'Psychic' Octopus predicts Spain to win World Cup

My husband found this gem this morning and I wanted to share it here. My favorite bit is the video and some of the German reaction after Paul (the octopus) correctly predicted Germany's loss to Serbia in the earlier group stages of the World Cup.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

2010 ALA Conference

I didn't make it to the ALA Conference in DC this year because I was unsure of my job situation and of money (which turned out to be correct as my job is ending in August). However, I did really want to go especially after I heard how much free books and swag you get, as well as the chance to meet so many awesome and famous children and young adult authors. I am especially sad that I missed the chance to meet John Green, one of my favorite writers. That being said, thank goodness for people like another of my favorite authors Mo Willems, who pens the wonderful easy reader series Elephant and Piggie, which I love. He always has interesting things on his blogs and he put the 2010 Library Cart Drill Team Championship top three finalists on it right here. Yes, this "sport" apparently does exist. I only found out about it last year, but it's been going on as of this year for 6 yrs. It's pure silliness but it's so funny, kind of like color guard meets marching band meets dance. And for a marching band geek like me, it's pure genius. I liked them all, but my favorite is definitely the 1st place team. At first I couldn't figure out what they were doing, but once they started dancing it dawned on me. They were doing the Danse Macabre (Dance of Death) from Neil Gaiman's 2009 Newberry award-winning novel The Graveyard Book. It was fantastic!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

One of the best things at my internship

I love helping people find what they need. Thankfully my chosen profession is service-orientated so I get to do just that. At my current internship, I get to help out a lot at the Youth Services desk. I give out summer reading prizes, and help the kids find good summer reading books. One of my missions this summer is to get more experience with teenagers as I have more experience working with kids aged 5-12 from past jobs. This has been accomplished through helping with teen programs, such as my favorite which was a Percy Jackson party (as I had just finished the series a few weeks before) and watching the nerdy teen boys shoot their hands up in the air during the trivia contest because they knew all the answers. I don't have too much trouble talking to teenaged girls, but the boys are another thing entirely.

So I thought I would try to go out of my way and try to talk to them more and hope they open up to me. There was this one boy a few weeks back that was in the children's section with his mom and older brother looking for books. He had asked us at the desk where astronomy books where and I had shown him having remembered where they were the other day when another boy had asked me about books about radiation (which is basically around the same section). I noticed a bit later that he was milling around the searching computer trying not to look lost, so I asked him if I could help him. He wanted to know where a fiction book was and I could've pointed it out to him as it was only around the corner but he'd had trouble the last time I tried to point it out so I just showed him where it was. When he found what he was looking for, I asked if he liked the book and he said yes. Then I asked him what the series was about and he got all animated telling me about the alternate dimensions hidden behind these secret cupboards (the book was the second in the series and was called Dandelion Fire: Book 2 of the 100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson). I smiled and told him that sounded really cool, which it did and I think I might try reading the series later. I tried to get another teenaged boy to read the series a few days later, when he was searching for something new to read. I was excited by the conversation because it is so hard sometimes to get more than a grunt or monosyllabic answers from teenaged boys at ties, if you get any answers at all.

I had another good conversation with a boy later that evening from a 13 year old boy during the reverse tie dye program we were doing with the teens. Most of the teens were in small groups after they finished their shirt but there was one boy standing off by himself. I asked him if he wanted to play Uno with two other teens and he said no. So I decided to talk to him myself. I asked him what kind of books he likes to which he replied "All kinds." So I asked him what was the most recent one he read, and he said "Harry Potter 7 and I liked it" to which I said that I liked it too even though it was very dark. He mentioned that he didn't have a whole lot of time for reading because he was too busy playing sports such as baseball and soccer. When he mentioned soccer, I lept on that hoping I could get him talking about the World Cup (which I had been watching). He finally piped up and said that he enjoyed watching the US, even if they played bad the first game and then we went on to talk about English Premier League and European League soccer and he told me his favorite team and players. It must've only been about 10 minutes long, but it was progress. Therefore, I now look forward to getting opportunities to talk to boys, and hope I can interest them in books.

Spain is in the final for the World Cup!!!

So I'm super psyched because the Spanish national team has managed to beat Germany!!! This is despite their less-than-stellar performance so far in the World Cup, so they really need to be on their A-game to win it. Therefore it will be Spain vs. Netherlands for the final game, which should be interesting to watch.

I've borrowed Soup Kitchen: The ultimate soup collection from the ultimate chefs including Jill Dupleix, Donna Hay, Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver and Tetsuya, edited by Annabel Buckingham and Thomasina Miers, from the library. It is a good collection for soup lovers like me and has a great variety of all different kinds of soups inside its pages. In honor of Spain winning today's game, I thought I would share this recipe that I found inside that looks yummy (the cookbook is British so it's got metric measurements, but I've tried to make approximate American measurements).

Chestnut and Chorizo Soup (Sopa de Castanas)
Serves 4

4 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
120g (4.2 oz) mild cooking chorizo, cut into 1 cm (1/3 inch) cubes
salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 small dried red chiles, crushed
2 tomatoes, fresh or tinned, roughly chopped
500g (1.1lbs) cooked peeled chestnuts
20 saffron strands, infused in 3-4 Tbsp. boiling water
1 litre (33.8 oz) water

In a large saucepan, heat oil over a medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, chorizo and a pinch of salt and fry for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until everything caramelizes and turns quite brown. This gives the soup a wonderfully rich color and taste. Now add the garlic, cumin, thyme and chili and cook for 1 more minute, followed by the tomato and, after about 2 minutes, the chestnuts. Give everything a good stir, then add the saffron-infused liquid and the water, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and mash by hand (with a potato masher) until almost smooth but still with a little bit of texture. Season with salt and pepper. (From Moro The Cookbook, Ebury Press, 2001)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments Series

So this series has been my guilty pleasure. I know I shouldn't like it this so much, so full of teenage angst and drama that it reminds me of being in high school all over again (and goodness knows I have no need to relive that period in my life). I know it sounded ridiculous when I was trying to describe to my mother last night. But anyways, I really liked it. I guess it's the battle of good and evil and all the grey areas in between. I find it interesting how the villian Valentine sought to purge the Nephilim from its taint of the demon, even though as the Angel Raziel says in the end of The City of Glass "Even the half-demons have souls, unlike demons, and in that sense are human." It's all in interpretation. And yes, there was whiny teenage romance, but there was also brilliant use of language and teenagers who despite their age seemed to have learned lessons that would normally take them a lifetime to know and understand in a very short period of time. Plus her characters are so interesting. For example, Magnus Bane, a 800+ yr old warlock half-demon who is looks like a 6 ft tall Goth boy, who has a witty turn of phrase and is surprisingly gentle despite his sometimes prickly attitude. Or Clary and Jace, who have been in romantic angst the entire trilogy as they believed each other to be siblings and therefore their love is forbidden but yet you just can't help but want them to be able to be together (especially Jace as he seems not to have very much good or love in his life). Not to mention how she describes kisses in the book, and man I wish I was getting kissed like that every day. Plus it just has great funny quotes like:

"That's why when major badasses greet each other in movies, they don't say anything, they just nod. The nod means, 'I' am a badass, and I recognize that you, too, are a badass,' but they don't say anything because they're Wolverine and Magneto and it would mess up their vibe to explain" (Simon)

"When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, and then throw it in the face of the person who gave you the lemons until they give you the oranges you originally asked for" (Jace)

"There is no pretending," Jace said with absolute clarity. "I love you, and I will love you until I die, and if there is life after that, I'll love you then."

"Don't order any of the faerie food," said Jace, looking at her over the top of his menu. "It tends to make humans a little crazy. One minute you're munching a faerie plum, the next minute you're running naked down Madison Avenue with antlers on your head. Not," he added hastily, "that this has ever happened to me."

Monday, July 5, 2010

My first blog

Let me introduce myself. My name is Rachel (aka Librarygirl) and I'm studying to be a Youth Services Librarian. I love to read both Children and Young Adult literature, in addition to fantasy, historical fiction, biography, mystery, nonfiction etc. Since I'm free this summer (not taking classes) I am spending most of my time catching up on series I haven't had time to read, such as Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments Trilogy or Mary Hoffman's Stravaganza series.

I love to travel though I haven't had money to much lately, apart from going to visit my parents in Arizona. I did get to see some pretty spectacular scenery there: the Painted Desert, Monument Valley, Wupatki National Park, the Grand Canyon, the Meteor Crater, and the San Francisco Mountains. I fell in love with the state the first time I visited. I am hoping to move there once I finish school.

I have been married to my English husband John for nearly 4 1/2 years. He got me interested in English football, or soccer to the the US. We're both fans of Liverpool Football Club, and have been watching the World Cup intensely. I'm sad that both England and the US have been knocked out, but happy to watch Spain and others continue. He's also got me interested in the TV show Top Gear, a British car show and Doctor Who (starting in 2005).