Saturday, December 17, 2011

Michael Bedard and Nancy Farmer

I've been rather busy with the onset of Christmas in less than 10 days, and so have not been able to read as much as I would like. I did finally finish these two books tonight, which is excellent given that I finally got my copy of Wonderstruck, Brian Selznick's new book, from the library. Ooh and I was given my mother's Kindle so I've been downloading free books like crazy onto it! I think I managed to get nearly all of L. Frank Baum's Oz books, as well as many other fantasy/steampunk titles, and I saved some of the classics that were left on there from when my mom had it. After seeing the new Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows film that was released yesterday in the theaters, I am interested again in reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's series. 

Young Adult
The Green Man by Michael Bedard
This was an ARC from Netgalley.
I did not know much about the Green Man mythology, although I had seen his image before in art. However, the story sounded interesting, so I figured I would give it a try. The book did not disappoint. It had a very intriguing storyline that grabbed my interest early on and did not let it go until the book's conclusion.

The story is about O, a teenage girl who goes to spend the summer with her reclusive Aunt Emily. Her aunt is a poet who owns the Green Man bookstore, which has seen better days. It is through O's presence that the story is revitalized and to an extent her aunt as well. However, a dark figure haunts Emily in a re-occuring dream and seems to spell out danger for the both of them. Who is the mysterious new boy who has come to town? Does he mean them harm or good?

I liked that the store was occupied by dead poets and the author's use of poetry throughout the book to better describe situations. While this wasn't a scary book, there was a touch of horror in it, just enough to make it interesting. Recommended for ages 10+, 4 stars.

House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

Ok I must admit that I read this book because I had seen it before in the library and also because it was a 3-time award winner. Now this doesn't necessarily mean that it will be good, as the Caldecott-winning book "The Hello,Goodbye Window" can attest to. Anyways, I enjoyed the story although I will say that I think they should've ended it after the funeral. I also am very glad that they had a family tree and introduction to the characters in the front of the book because there are so many early on, it is hard to keep track of everyone.

Matt lives in a small shack with Celia, a cook at the Alacran's main house. He lives a simple life and is content. That is until one day, he discovers some children playing outside his house and his world is turned upside down. He learns that he is a clone of El Patron, the 140+ yr old drug warlord of Opium, a small empire in Aztlan (formerly known as Mexico). The Alacran family members and all of the staff shun him once his existence is known. El Patron gives him a bodyguard named Tam Lin, who eventually becomes his family figure. What will happen to Matt? Will he survive past 14, an age when most clones die? What will happen to the Alacran family? Will they ever be punished for their evil ways? Recommended for ages 12+, 3 1/2 stars.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dan Jolley and Rick Riordan

Only two books to report today. Found a Teach Yourself Visually Crochet book to help me learn new styles of stitches as I have a hard time understanding the written abbreviated instructions. Hoping to get a scarf or two done for friends. 

Children and Young Adult
The Son of Neptune (Heroes of Olympus #2) by Rick Riordan
I have been waiting for months to get my hands on this book, and I finally got this past weekend. I had no idea it was a book about Percy Jackson, though the title should've given me a clue. It was a very quick read, as the story was so interesting, I couldn't wait to see what happened next. 

In this second book in the Heroes of Olympus series, Percy wakes up after being asleep for 8 months and has amnesia. He is discovered by the wolf-goddess Lupus and sent along to the Roman demigod camp, Camp Jupiter. It is here that we meet our other two heroes, Hazel and Frank. I liked that these two were multicultural, African-American and Asian respectively. Percy, Hazel and Frank all end up going on a quest to free Death (called Thanatos, 2nd in charge of the Underworld after Pluto) from the clutches of an evil giant resurrected by his mother Gaea. Will Percy remember who he is and what he has done? Will he be able to save Hazel and Frank? Will they be able to free Death in time to save Camp Jupiter? To find out, check out this action packed adventure by Rick Riordan. Recommended for ages 10+, 5 stars. 

The Girl Who Owned a City: The Graphic Novel by Dan Jolley
This book was originally written by O.T. Nelson in 1975, and this version was retold by Dan Jolley. This is an ARC from Netgalley. I would've given it more stars, but I didn't like the ending. 

A virus has wiped out the entire population over the age of 12, and the story is about Lisa and her younger brother Todd surviving with the help of the neighborhood kids. Everyone bands together by moving into the local school and creating their own self-sufficient city named Glenbard, where they can protect everyone with a militia. That is, until one day, the Chidester Gang manages to break through their defenses. Will Lisa and the kids of Glenbard be able to take back the city? To find out, read this graphic novel. Recommended for ages 10+, 3 stars. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Brenda Novak

I have been keeping pretty busy reading Netgalley, but needed to take a break after I finished this latest book as I had read about 600 something pages in 3 days on the computer, which was killing my eyes. I'm currently reading this random book I picked up called Jamrach's Menagerie, but haven't quite decided if I like it yet or not. Might go straight to the book I've had on hold forever and finally got, Son of Neptune (Heroes of Olympus #2)

The Bastard by Brenda Novak 
Ok I must admit that I haven't read a romance novel since I was in middle school, but I saw this on Netgalley as an ARC and decided to give it a chance. It was better than I thought it would be, though a bit predictable at times. I liked that the heroine was feisty and could take care of herself, despite being an aristocrat, and that hero was not the bastard (literally and figuratively) that I thought he was.  

Jeannette, a young French girl, and her family have escaped the French Revolution and traveled to England where she is about to marry Lord St. Ives, a rich old man. She doesn't love him, but is trying to protect her family and provide for them. On her wedding night, she discovers that her husband is impotent and willing to use his friends to impregnate her, so she escapes and ends up on a Navy ship. It is there that she meets 2nd Lt. Treynor, who she ends up falling in love with. Will they get together in the end? Read the book to find out. 4 star. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

George O'Connor, Ashley Koff, Laurent de Brunhoff, Mercer Mayer and Christina Tosi

I've been reading quite a bit lately, and totally forgot to write this post after I finished watching my new show tonight, Whitechapel, a cop show on BBC America. So I popped back on to post these reviews before bed. 

Babar's Mystery by Laurent de Brunhoff
This book was a cute story about Babar and his family going to the sea, the Old Lady wanting to write a novel and a mystery about a stolen piano, Babar's car and statue. I got it for Liam, but will save it for him when he gets a bit older. Recommended for ages 5+, 3 stars. 

Just Me and My Mom by Mercer Mayer
I loved Mercer Mayer books when I was a kid and I love being able to share them with my son. This book was a cute story about Little Critter going to town with his mom and having some crazy adventures, but ultimately having a great time together. Recommended for kids ages 0-5, 4 stars. 

Children and Young Adult
Athena: Grey Eyed Goddess (Olympians #2) by George O'Connor
Once again, another brilliant graphic novel by author/illustrator George O'Connor. This second volume in the series focuses on Athena, goddess of Wisdom, War, Strategy, Crafts and Cities. She was always my favorite Greek diety, and I even named a stuffed owl I got Buboe after her owl in the movie "Clash of the Titans". 

I'm glad he included a genealogy in the front of the book as it gets very confusing at times to remember which child is from which mother. I knew how Athena had been born (sprung out the head of Zeus fully formed and grown up), but I never knew that Zeus had eaten her mother Metis to avoid a prophecy, and she had been born/grew up inside his head. I found the story of how she got the name Pallas interesting as well as how she got the Aegis and added to it. As with his "Hades" graphic novel, the "Greek Notes" in the back of the book are so fascinating and give more depth to the story (ex. how Hephaestus came to be born). Recommended for ages 10+, 5 stars. 

Hera: The Goddess and Her Glory (Olympians #3) by George O'Connor
I really enjoyed this version of Hera's story as it showed her not like she is traditionally portrayed, as the jealous and vengeful woman, but as a loving wife who knows what she wants and goes and gets it. I liked how the author described her as "the one person that Zeus well and truly fears (pg 68)." I didn't know until I read the previous volume on Athena that Hera was Zeus's second wife, but I find it interesting that knowing Zeus's wondering eye, she demanded he properly marry her and make her his wife and equal. Yes, she caught her husband cheating many times and punished his mistresses and their offspring, the best example being Heracles, whose name coincidentally means "The Glory of Hera". The story of the creation of the Milky Way was probably one of the most interesting ones in the graphic novel, as was the women's tale of Hera's renewal ceremony at the end of the book. Recommended for ages 10+, 5 stars. 

Mom Energy: A Simple Plan to Live Fully Charged by Ashley Koff R.D. and Kathy Kaehler
This was an advanced copy I got from Netgalley. 
Overall, I enjoyed this book, especially the Reorganizing and Rehabilitation sections. The purpose of this book is to give busy moms more energy with a three-step strategy: Reorganizing your priorities and eating habits, Rehabilitating your body by taking better care of your digestive system, detoxing and supplementing it with vitamins, and Recharge your body by exercising, getting enough sleep and remembering to fit in some playtime. It discusses how energy is related to metabolism, lack of a balanced diet/sleep, hormones, and health conditions. There is a quiz to judge your current energy levels (3 groups of scores) and one to tell you what is stealing your energy and how to tailor your energy makeover (5 profiles). The back of the book features exercises you can do at home. 3 stars. 

Momofuku Milk Bar by Christina Tosi
This was an ARC from Netgalley. 
I loved the Momofuku (which means "lucky peach") cookbook and the story of how chef David Chang created and developed the Momofuku Restaurant Group, which included the Noodle and Ssam Bars, Ko, and Ma Peche. I even loved the website ( where two fans created recipes out of the cookbook and blogged about it. I've never been to these restaurants but I know I would love the Noodle & Milk Bars. So I was very excited to see this cookbook. I like the way they make the cookbook personal by telling the chef's story at the beginning before they start in on the recipes, then like all good cookbooks, they follow with ingredient, equipment and techniques lists. Each recipe had serving suggestions, i.e. other recipes in the book that either used the recipe in it or with it. Most the of the recipes I wasn't a particular fan of because of their long format and multiple-parts, like restaurant cookbooks tend to have. I was fascinated with some of the recipes for their crazy combinations, like the Candy Bar Pie (I mean who wouldn't like a pie with pretzels, salted caramel, peanut butter nougat, and chocolate), the Cinnamon Roll with the liquid Cheesecake instead of Cream Cheese frosting and the Thai Tea Parfait with Lemon Marscapone and Thai Tea Crunch. 3 1/2 stars. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Picture Book Month

There are so many great picture books out there, it is great that they've finally have devoted an entire month to celebrating them. A friend of mine from the State Library posted this link from author/illustrator Yuyi Morales, on why picture books are important. This author created two of my of my favorite Bilingual Children's books Just a Minute and Just in Case, which feature Senor Calavera! Here is a list of activities relating to picture books. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Alison Behnke and Art Donovan

Since I have started reading books for Netgalley, I've decided to post reviews more often. These are two that I have finished in the last five days. 

The Little Black Dress and Zoot Suits: Depression and Wartime Fashions from the 1930s to 1950s by Alison Behnke

I got an advanced copy from Netgalley. 
This was a well-done and well-researched book on the fashion and hairstyles of men and women from the 1930s - 1950s. It is really amazing how much of the fashion from these eras influenced how we dress today. Things such as blue jeans, khakis, crew cuts, the "preppy" look, leather jackets and tshirts, bikinis, and fedoras are still used today. The author has a detailed bibliography at the end of the book, as well as suggested reading and websites, and films. 

I enjoyed the book for the random facts that were in it, such as: zippers appeared on women's fashion in the 1930s, although they had been on men's fashion starting in the late 1800s; the famous Rosie the Riveter poster was created by Westinghouse; bikinis were invented due to post WWII cutbacks on fabric, even though it was considered improper for women to expose their navels in public; and Elsa Schiaperelli's Lobster Dress had a lobster painted by surrealist artist Salvador Dali. I loved that the author mentioned lesser known designers like Edith Head (famous for Hollywood movie costumes) and Emilio Pucci, acknowledged the impact that Hollywood and the military had on daily fashions and hairstyles, and even talked about famous photographers that photographed during that time period. Recommended for ages 9+, five stars.   

Young Adult & Adult
The Art of Steampunk: Extraordinary Devices and Ingenious Contraptions from the Leading Artists of the Steampunk Movement by Art Donovan

I got the book as an advanced copy from Netgalley. 
This book is the result of a Steampunk exhibition at Oxford University's Museum of the History of Science, which ran from October 2009 - Feb 2010, and was curated by the author (who also designs Steampunk light fixtures). While the exhibit focused on the Steampunk art and the artists that created them, it also featured "original Victorian and Edwardian instruments and machines that exemplified the roots of Steampunk art" (pg 19). Despite the popularity of Steampunk literature and fashion etc, this museum exhibit was the first of its kind. I found it interesting that there weren't only Steampunk clothes and jewelry, but also car motors and engines. 

The book featured "Steampunk 101," which breaks down the term, what it is, where it comes from and how sci-fi fits in with the term. This section explains the purpose of gears and goggles, and the appeal of Steampunk. While I did not know any of the artists, I found their work fascinating and their creator names amusing.  

I loved the Shiva Mandala on page 14 & 15, the Beholder Robot Sculpture on pg 50, Lunar Period on pg 66, The Lady Raygun on pg 72, Datamancer Ergo Keyboard on pg 104, Datamancer Steampunk Laptop on pg 108, and the Flying Civil Servant on pg 115. Recommended for ages 12 +, five stars. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Neil Gaiman, Holly Thompson, George O'Connor and Faith Erin Hicks

I know it hasn't been that long since I last did a book review, but I've decided that I will post them more frequently. Since I started with Netgalley, I've read/reviewed three books. So far they've been pretty good, so I am very excited about getting to read more books. As always, the books are rated on a scale of 1-5 stars. 

Instructions: Everything You Need to Know on Your Journey by Neil Gaiman
This book features instructions (in poetry form), and some good advice, about having adventures in a fairy tale. Absolutely loved the illustrations, and the storyline and I would love to own a copy! Here is aYouTube video of the book by the author.  Recommended for ages 5+, 5 stars. 

Children & YA
Hades by George O'Connor
This was an advanced copy that I got from Netgalley. I thought it was a well-done and well-researched graphic novel on the underworld, Hades, Persephone, and Demeter.  The story shows what happens to a person when they die, according to Greek mythology, and then continues with the myth about Persephone (originally called Kore) and how she ended up as Queen of the Underworld after she was abducted by Hades. I liked that the author used multiple viewpoints of all three characters (especially Persephone) and not just that of the men in the story, as myths have a tendency to do. I liked that it would appeal to both boys and girls.

For me, it was the little things in this graphic novel that made it great. It was the way the author describes the punishments of certain Greeks in Tartaros, the fact that he includes Hercules mortal half of his soul is in the underworld while his immortal part is in Olympus, the way Kore and her mother Demeter argue like they would nowadays (which makes the myth more modern and easier for kids/teens to understand), how Hades created violets especially for Kore, and how Kore decided that being the Queen of the Underworld isn't such a bad gig and changes her name and reinvents herself. I had no idea that Zeus had sanctioned Hades to take Kore. I enjoyed the interaction between Hermes and Hekate, and didn't know that in some stories, they were married. I liked the profiles of the gods and goddesses, and the Greek notes at the end of the book, as well as the recommended reading lists.

Now I can't wait to read the other graphic novels in the author's Olympian series! Recommended for ages 10+, 5 stars.

Young Adult
Orchards by Holly Thompson
One of the reasons I like free-verse is that it gives the opportunity for the reader/writer to discuss topics that would otherwise be difficult to put across in a normal fiction novel, like the Holocaust and teenage suicide. Orchards is about an eighth grade girl named Kana (half Jewish/half Japanese)and her friends who unwittingly caused the suicide of a classmate by being mean. Kana is sent away to Japan, to her mother's family to work in their orchard for the summer. Kana learns that working at the farm isn't really so bad and that she actually enjoys it, even though her grandmother still doesn't approve of her because of her mother's decision to move to New York and marry her father, a Russian Jew. While adapting to life with her extended family, she tells the story to Ruth, the girl who killed herself, and tries to figure out what caused Ruth to do what she did. Her world is turned upside down again, when another classmate commits suicide at the end of the summer. Kana decides create a monument to them both by expanding on a Japanese idea to honor the dead. Recommended for ages 13+, 4 stars.

Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks

I received this advanced copy from Netgalley. I really loved this coming-of-age story about a girl entering high school, and more importantly public school, for the very first time. She has three gregarious brothers and her dad has just become the chief of police. Maggie spends most of the book trying to find her place in the family and in the greater world, after her mom's disappearance a little bit before the story begins. Maggie gets her first female friend and learns that people aren't always as they seem. A 19th century ghost follows her everywhere, but she can't figure out what it wants.

There were some really hilarious moments in the graphic novel, that I could identify with and I think teenage girls would like as well. For example on page 75, where Lucy is talking about never being able to be homeschooled by her mother because they are always having these "Raarg, You are my daughter, Obey! fights. Someone would die eventually." Later, on page 91, Maggie is hanging out again with Lucy and Al and they have just seen the movie "Alien" and Al makes a comment about enjoying the sight of Sigourney Weaver in her underwear. Then when the girls give him the death look, he says "I retract the previous statement. I did not look lustfully upon the kickass lady in her underoos." There is also the extreme but cute nerd factor on page 185 where one of Maggie's brothers mentions that he's seen "Raiders of the Lost Ark three hundred and fourteen times."

My only gripe with the book was that the images from pages 111-112 were missing entirely. You could follow the storyline as the speech bubbles were there, but I would've liked to see the illustrations as they were in the middle of the story. Recommended for ages 13+, 5 stars.

Mighty Spice Cookbook: Fast, Fresh and Vibrant Dishes Using No More Than 5 Spices For Each Recipe by John Gregory Smith

I received an advanced copy from Netgalley.

In the introduction to the cookbook, the author gives us a very vivid description about how he came about his love of cooking and the trip around the world he made, which awakened his love for spices. This sets the stage for his lovely cookbook, which thankfully has color pictures with each dish. The recipes are easy to understand, and most include a paragraph before the recipe itself which explains what the dish is like and what to serve it with (I only wish he had done this for every recipe as I was curious to know more about them). I appreciated the Spice Directory, a nice reference section for those who may not know about all the spices they mention throughout the book.

I would personally love to try the Mango Orange Nutmeg Cheesecake, Gobi Masala, Stir-Fried Squid with Chili and Coriander, Al Pastor Pork and Pineapple Salad, and the Indian Chicken, Pomegranate and Herb Salad, just to name a few.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Jobs, Books, Clubs and Netgalley

So I've been striking out left and right with jobs. All four of my recent job interview have ended with rejections, and then I've 3 other rejections aside from the interviews. So I'm pretty frustrated again. At least my hubby has a job so we're finally able to pay some of our bills on our own. I'm still finding library jobs to apply to though, so I will keep trying. 

The only things that have been keeping me sane have been the books I pick up from the library and joining a few local Meetup groups. The best two lately have been Scott Westerfeld's Goliath (Leviathan #3), which was awesome and even though it was over 500 pages, I managed to finish in a couple days and Alia Yunis's The Night Counter, which was a surprisingly excellent book. Last month I reread Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle for a Banned Books Book Club that I joined. Despite being a librarian, I've never been to a book club meeting ever. This one was a lot of fun. The book we are reading this month is Upton Sinclair's commentary on immigration and the meat packing industry, The Jungle. I have also joined a mom's group, where mom's with young kids get together for play dates. I also joined a crocheting group and have started another scarf. I'm not talented when it comes to crocheting, and can only do basic stitches (single, double and triple crochet) but the repetitive action is relaxing for me. I went to my first meeting on Sunday and had a lot of fun talking to the ladies in the group! I'm hoping maybe I can learn some new stitches and maybe get to work with some new fabric. 

I also joined Netgalley, which I had heard snippets about before, but never thought to join. It is basically where book reviewers and librarians can get advanced digital copies of books and do reviews on them. It looks pretty awesome so far, when I was browsing some of the books I could get, which were so far mostly graphic novels. But I only signed up today, so we'll see what happens. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Laini Taylor, Jane Yolen, C.W. Gortner, Michelle Moran

Haven't done book reviews since August, as I've been rather busy learning to be a mother and applying for jobs and interviewing, but I have managed to read a few books since then. I am currently reading a random fun book called The Secret History of Elizabeth Tudor, Vampire Slayer, figuring it would be an in-between book, between historical fiction and YA books, as that has been mostly what I've been reading lately. 

Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters by Jane Yolen
Cute rhyming picturebook about two little monsters who are getting ready for bed. 4 stars, recommended for ages 3-8. 

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin
I discovered this book by accident when I found the video of the author performing the book with a couple of guitarists. All the kids in the video loved it and I thought it was pretty adorable too. Pete gets some white shoes and then proceeds to step into all different colors and every time he does, he sings a little song about his shoes. Very good book for storytimes. 4 stars, recommended for ages 3-8. 

This Little Piggy with CD: Finger Plays, Clapping Games, and Pantomime Rhymes by Jane Yolen
A book of mostly British & American nursery rhymes (predominantly ones I had never heard of)that are used for babies and toddlers. They are in the form of lap songs("To Market, To Market"), finger plays ("Where is Thumbkin?")and clapping games ("Pease Porridge Hot"). I loved the background knowledge on each of the songs, along with fairly detailed instructions for each of them. I love the illustrations, which are nice for kids to look at, though I agree it is hard to hold up the book and perform the songs. Good resource for new librarian or parent.  4 stars, and recommended for ages 2+.

Young Adult
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
I had been waiting for months for this book to come out and it was so good, I finished it in two days, could not put it down. Laini Taylor is such an amazing writer with fantastic detailed descriptions of everything that is happening with the character and her stories just draw you into the book and make you never want to leave. Which made things kind of frustrating when you found out that this is the first book in a series and you will have to wait at least another year for a sequel (though I am secretly glad that we will hear more from the main character as she is one of the most interesting ones I've ever read about).

This book is about Karou, a 17 year old girl who lives with an unusual family and always feels alone. She wants someone to call her own, someone to complete her. She is a fantastic artist and is famous for her notebooks, in which she draws these otherworldly characters that her classmates can't stop looking at. Everyone thinks they're fantasy, but it turns out they are real. One day, on one of her errands she encounters an angel who nearly kills her, though she doesn't know why. As the angel comes back to find her, she begins to unravel things about her past that she had forgotten. Will Karou ever find true love? Who is the angel and what connection does he have to her? 5 stars. Recommended for ages 15+.

Nerfertiti by Michelle Moran
A well-researched and interesting take on one of Egypt's most famous queens, this book is seen from the viewpoint of Nefertiti's sister Mutny. I really liked Mutny's character who had a good head on her shoulders compared to Nefertiti, who just came off selfish, whiny, and a little bit sad. While I enjoyed the book about the Heretic King (Akhenaten) and the Amarna period for its lush historical detail, I would give this book 3 1/2 to 4 stars for it's long-windedness. I would be interested in reading her book on Mutny's daughter Nefertari, The Heretic Queen. 4 stars. 

Brigid of Kildare by Heather Terrell
I really enjoyed this feminist viewpoint of the life of the Irish fifth century St. Brigid and her fascination with the Virgin Mary. The book gave a history of the saint and how she came to create the Book of Kildare, an intricately designed work that contained the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John but prominently featured a gorgeous illustration of the Virgin Mary at the beginning of the text. The novel switched back and forth between 5th century Ireland of Brigid and Roman scribe Decius and modern-day Ireland when a historical appraiser named Alex discovers the Book of Kildare in a hidden compartment of a reliquary box in the Catholic convent of St. Brigid. Reading this books makes me want to discover more book about the Druid culture and Early Christianity and how these two were blended to encourage more people to join the faith. 4 stars. 

The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner
Ok I realize that I am reading this from a 21st century woman's point of view and not a 16th century woman's POV and that is a little skewed, but this book pissed me off. I would not have put up with what Juana of Castile went through, betrayed by her husband and father and sequestered away in a castle to rot. Despite this, I enjoyed reading about her story as I didn't know much about Spanish royal history or about Juana herself. 

Juana of Castile's parents were the famous Queen Isabel of Castile and her king consort, Fernando of Aragon. I never knew that her father wasn't a king of the loosely united Spain, and that his hunger for power eventually led to him screwing his own daughter out of her rightfully earned crown. Juana married Philip of Flanders, son of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I. At first, their marriage was full of love and passion but as her husband's ambition became more prevalent at the urging of his advisor, he started to become more greedy and their marriage went downhill. She had five children, one of which became Charles I of Spain/Charles V of Germany and another became the famous Philip II of Spain. 4 stars. 

Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran
I loved this book even more than I liked the author's book "Neferiti". This book was set in about 30 BC when Selene's father Marc Antony is defeated by Octavian (who later becomes Emperor Augustus) and kills himself, as does his wife Cleopatra. Selene and her her twin brother Alexander are brought as "guests" of Octavian and live in his sister Octavia's house in Rome with all of her children from previous marriages. It was very interesting to read this book about the early part of Augustus's reign, and to see major players such as Selene, Marcellus and Tiberius as teenagers. The author take liberties with inventing the character of the Red Eagle, who fights for slave's rights and tries to assasinate Octavian. I was happy to see, at the end of the book, that Selene did end up making a love match and was able in her own way to recreate Alexandria, though she was never allowed to go back to Egypt. 5 stars. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


So the other day I was about to search something and I noticed a new Google doodle, this one about artist Mary Blair, who it turns out gave Disney the inspiration for his films Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Cinderella. I found a website with some old cartoons on it and rediscovered a few Warner Brother's Chuck Jones' cartoons that I had watched awhile back and fell in love with them. Since it is kid-related, I figured I would share the links on here. The first one features the kitty Pussyfoot and the dog Marc Anthony. The second one is Bugs Bunny and Witch Hazel, which I thought was appropriate as next week is Halloween. 

The third one is one of the Pixar shorts before the movies. This one is called Partly Cloudy and just cracks me up. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Another Interview

Today I had the job interview with Maricopa County Library District, for the Deweyless Librarian FT position. For those who don't know, the Deweyless system is also called the Book Store Approach which does not use the Dewey Decimal system but rather groups books in easy to find categories, with easy to locate signage and displays. It's all to improve customer service and make it easier for the patrons to find what they need. It would be a behind-the-scenes job, but I'm cool with that, as the pay is so good, even though it is a temporary position only lasting 1 to 1 1/2 yrs and there are no benefits. I'm fascinated by the Deweyless system (and the articles I've read on the subject) and I hope I get the job, even though I don't know much about cataloguing or weeding collections. I was so nervous during the interview that I'm not really sure how it went, but I'm kind of hoping they take pity on me and select me because I have an MLIS and am eager to please. We'll see by the end of the week. 

I had an interview last week with City of Flagstaff Library for a nearly full time (35 hrs a week) Library Circulation Clerk position with full benefits (with the exception of .75 - .80% on vacation/sick days). This was another weird interview, where they didn't ask the normal kind of interview questions, at least not ones they had asked me during my 2 previous interviews for them. Of course, my hubby has decided that he now likes his job and would rather live in the Phoenix area then in the more expensive Flagstaff area (even though it snows here and actually has seasons). I can't blame him for that, as it is a lot cheaper to buy a house here in the Phoenix metro area, but a job is a job. And in this economy, we can't be so picky. So we'll see what happens with that job in a couple of weeks. 

Meanwhile, I am also waiting for word back from the interview I had 2 weeks ago with the City of Phoenix for the PT Library Assistant position, as that is actually predominantly working with Youth Services, which I am actually trained in, so I am very interested in that position as well. Hopefully I will hear from them tomorrow. 

Update Oct 30: I did not get either the Phoenix or the Flagstaff position. I'm guessing it was no to Flagstaff b/c I have a Masters and am therefore over-qualified, which might also be the reason for Phoenix, although I'm trained to do what job (Youth Services). Either that or too many qualified applicants so they took the people with more experience. Two rejections in a week really sucks. Haven't heard back from Maricopa County yet. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Teen Read Week 2011

Oct 16-22 is Teen Read Week. As some of my favorite books are Young Adult and I rather prefer working with teens (especially boys), I think this week is really important. Teens are frequently marginalized by libraries who have little or no money for programs, those who think getting the younger children interested in reading is more important or those who don't want to deal with teenagers. If you are a librarian, YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) has some great resources for professional material that deal with teens. If you don't know where to start to look for teen books, try YALSA's book award winners and booklists, which can be found on this page

To celebrate Teen Read Week, I hope to be reading the new Laini Taylor book Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Second Job Interview

So I did not get the Youth Services Library Assistant position at Scottsdale Public Library's Main Branch, which sucks because it is a really nice place and I would love to work there. I did however interview today for a similar position with Phoenix Public Library's Main Branch, another library that I love architecturally and because the interior is so cool. It has a humongous children's section and a separate teen section, which is so awesome. I've even seen teens playing chess in there. 

The position pays better than Scottsdale ($16-24 an hour) and it is part time (16-20 hrs a week). But it would help me get my foot in the door for other positions. And I really need that right now to maintain my sanity. 

Update 10/15/11: I got a third interview scheduled for a Deweyless Librarian position for Maricopa County on the 24th. So hopefully one of the jobs pans out!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Censorship of Teen Books and Ways to Celebrate Banned Books Week

I found this great article while browsing the Canadian Huffington Post entitled Who Decides What Books Teens Read? and felt that I had to share it. I liked what the author had to say about teens and censorship, for example: "On the one hand you've got authors, fiercely passionate about telling the truth in their writing, in acknowledging the realities faced by teens and children no matter how dark or brutal. On the other you have adults willing to stand between that content and their child, to protect them from and nurture in them feelings and realities unconnected to anything unpleasant. The battle between these two ideologies may be a healthy one." I also found this NY Times article featuring 10 ways to celebrate Banned Books Week with children/students. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Banned Books Week 2011

Sept 24-Oct 1 is Banned Books Week. It is important to acknowledge these books and fight for against book censorship as everyone should have the right to read what they want to read. The National Council of Teachers of English have created this website to do just that, and there is also the program by the National Coalition Against Censorship. 

I am currently reading All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque as I've joined a Banned Book Club in Mesa. I've seen the 1930 movie but never read the book. Here is a short blurb on it. Next month the group is reading Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, which was banned by several school in the 70s and 80s, and is no. 66 on the ALA's list of Banned and/or Challenged Classics. I've already read that one and loved it. Here is the 2011 List for Banned Books in case you would like to read some of the books on your own. I've read 24 books on the list.

What banned books have you read that you enjoyed? How many books have you read off the 2011 list? Please share. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Job Frustrations and Time Passers

I am super frustrated at the moment because I interviewed for this awesome part-time Youth Services position at the Scottsdale Public Library Main Branch, and didn't get it, due to an overwhelming pool of qualified applicants (or something to that effect). Scottsdale has a super nice library system, which not only has amazing general library spaces but also a fantastic teen and children's section in the Main Library. The teen's section, called Knowasis, is glassed in and featured a study room, tons of computers, a stage and the YA books. They get 7-9K teens a year in there, which is a staggering amount of people. Most libraries won't see that number in several years. The children's area is broken down into picture books on one end with these totally cute mice chairs around a cheese table, and a castle at the other end for the older kid's books. They even have reading nooks in the castle turret. Each branch library is an early literacy center too, and they apparently have a very active summer reading program for all ages. 

I have applied for more positions before and since I interviewed for that job last week, but I really had my heart set on that position. It would be a good starting out position for me as it was actually in my area of expertise. I really just hope something else works out soon before I go completely stir crazy living here. I'm trying to occupy my time in some small way, and have decided to join a book club (something which I've surprisingly never done before despite being an avid reader for most of my life). I've joined a Banned Books group so far, and they are doing a discussion on Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, which I've never read but I've heard was really good. Have seen the silent film version of it though. There are a couple more groups reading interesting books that I want to check out in Oct/Nov.  There is also a ton of free festivals coming up in Sept/Oct that I want to go to, such as Oktoberfest, Greek Festival and the Best Fest. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

International Literacy Day

Today, Sept 8, is International Literacy Day. I know the importance of early childhood literacy after working with the South Carolina State Library to create a directory of South Carolina literacy organizations and to help with the literacy calendar for children ages 0-7 and their families ( One of my Facebook library groups posted a video about the holiday, and there was link to this video in it about the importance of literacy as education from the Ambassador from Bangladesh to the United Nations. It is a bit long but has a good message. 

Today is my first library job interview since I stopped working back in May. So wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Melanie Benjamin, Laini Taylor, Maggie Stiefvater, and Gail Carriger

Here is another edition of my book reviews. I have been lucky to find more adult books that are fascinating and that I have read recently. I am currently reading Rip Tide (Dark Life #2), the recently released sequel to Kat Falls excellent first book, Dark Life. I can best describe it as an underwater western dystopia. 

Fannie in the Kitchen: The Whole Story from Soup to Nuts of How Fannie Farmer Invented Recipes with Precise Measurements by Deborah Hopkinson
Since I grew up with the Fannie Farmer Junior Cookbook and my mom used her regular cookbook, I thought this story about Fannie Merritt Farmer would be a fun read. The book is told from the viewpoint of Marcia, the would-be helper and daughter of Fannie's employers, the Shaws. Fannie was the first person to write down the recipes and use precise measurements, and her cookbook has been helping people learn to cook since 1897. Recommended for kids aged 5+, 4 stars. 

Young Adult
Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor
A brilliant book of short stories about kissing and first loves/lust from the author of the faerie books "Blackbringer" and "Silksinger," both of which I loved. The first story, "Goblin Fruit" tells the story of a plain girl taken in by a goblin masquerading as a beautiful young man who offers her fruit that could kill her. The second story, "Spicy Little Curses Such as These" is the story of a girl cursed at birth who can kill if she talks. The third, "Hatchling" features a girl and her mother running away from a secret world where their queen keeps little girls as pets and breeds their replacements. The stories sucked you in from the beginning and the writing is gorgeous and descriptive. Also Jim Di Bartolo's (the author's husband) illustrations are fantastic and perfectly fit with the wonderful stories. 

One of my favorite lines from the first story describes how the main character, a plain-looking gypsy girl named Kizzy, dreams of becoming a more fascinating young woman. Page 41: "Kizzy wanted to be a woman who would dive off the prow of a sailboat into the sea, who would fall back in a tangle of sheets, laughing, and who could dance a tango, lazily stroke a leopard with her bare foot, freeze an enemy's blood with her eyes, make promises she couldn't keep, and then shift the world to keep them." Recommended for teens aged 13+, 5 stars. 

Forever (Wolves of Mercy Falls, #3) by Maggie Stiefvater
In "Forever", Grace has been missing for several months and everyone seems to think Sam has either abducted or killed her. She has been a wolf and finally comes back to Sam, though she can't control her shifting. Sam is working through his past history with Beck, his adopted father. Cole is trying to find out how the wolf genes work and how to keep it under control. Isabel is still trying to figure out how she feels about Cole, and her father is trying to establish an aerial wolf hunt. 

I really wanted this book to be good because it was the last book in the trilogy and because "Linger" was such a disappointment to me. However, it was not, but left me with more questions as the author just left parts of the story wide open and didn't explain things. The ending was way too abrupt too, especially after building it up for the entire book. There just wasn't the passion and good writing of "Shiver". Overall, I would give it 3 1/2 stars. Recommended for teens aged 13+. 

The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin
I really enjoyed this historical fiction account of the life of Ms. Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump, a little person who led a really impressive life during the 19th and early 20th centuries. I had heard of her before whilst reading a book on P.T. Barnum, who I have been fascinated with since high school, as she was part of his American Museum in NYC as well as touring with him on the road. It turns out that she was also a good friend of his, along with her later husband Charles Stratton, aka General Tom Thumb. She had the opportunity to travel the world and meet royalty, and lived for performing for others. 5 stars. 

The Sherlockian by Graham Moore
I've never read any of Arthur Conan Doyle's work before, but the idea of this book was just so fascinating that I felt that I had to give it a try. The book did not disappoint. The book skips back and forth between 2010 and 1900, in alternating chapters. In the present time, we discover that a prominent Sherlockian scholar named Alex Cale (who has supposedly found the lost diary of Arthur Conan Doyle) has been mysteriously murdered. A brand new member of the Baker Street Irregulars (the premier Sherlock Holmes society), Harold White, decides to take it upon himself to solve the murder and find the now missing diary. The chapters in the past talk about Arthur Conan Doyle and a murder mystery that he is trying to solve himself with the help of his friend, fellow author Bram Stoker. 

At first I found the jumping back and forth between eras to be a bit annoying, and found the present day story took a lot of time to get interesting, while the 20th century story was fascinating from the beginning. I do think that even those folks, such as myself, who have never read any Holmes & Watson stories will be intrigued by this book, provided they can wait a bit for the 21st century story's action to catch up with the rest of the book. I would love to read more about Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker and Sherlock Holmes. 4 stars. 

Heartless (The Parasol Protectorate, #4) by Gail Carriger
Another brilliant book by Gail Carriger! This really is one of the most hilarious series of books I've ever read. In this volume, Alexia is eight months pregnant and waddling her way through another mystery, after she gets a warning, from a ghost, that the Queen will be attacked. Alexia's sister Felicity has joined the Suffragette movement and moved in with her. We learn about the secret proclivities of Professor Lyall, who was involved with the first plot to kill Queen Victoria, and what really happened when Conall took over the Woolsey Pack. 

Alexia's insights while very pregnant cracked me up as I also recently given birth. The middle part dragged a bit, but the spectacular ending more than made up for it. I liked that Conall was much more loving and worried about Alexia in this volume. I can't wait to see how Ms. Carriger ends the series in the next book! 5 stars. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Life Update

Being a new mom makes me physically exhausted, which makes me not want to do anything. I enjoy snuggling with Liam and sleeping when I can though. I have started applying for jobs again and have applied for seven in all since I started two weeks ago, and have just got my first rejection letter. Luckily it was one of the jobs that I didn't really want but figured I would apply for anyways, the non-library admin position. 

I have been able to catch up on reading, though I'm still way off my 200 books read this year goal. I recently finished the new Gail Carriger book, Heartless, which was amazingly hilarious as usual. It made me want to start regularly drinking hot tea again, well that and the high tea that I had with my family and friends the other day. Ok, it also made me crave cucumber sandwiches and British tea cookies. 

I've started playing MMORPG games again. Originally my hubby and I did it so we could play online together again, but my laptop's graphic card isn't very good so games don't always work on there. We tried this cool-looking game called Dragon's Nest, that looked like anime, but I had to set the graphics so low that it didn't work. So now I'm trying a game called Forbidden World from the makers of another game I had previously tried called Perfect World. Very pretty graphics even on the lowest setting, but it keeps crashing my system because the graphics card is overheating. However, I have managed to install it on my dad's computer and I play it when it is available. 

All the things I have mentioned above is what has been keeping me somewhat busy, but I would love to meet some more people my age so I have a chance of not going stir crazy being stuck in this house all day everyday. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Dystopias and other stuff

Well, I've officially been a mom for a month now. I'm still not used to the lack of sleep part but starting to settle into the rest of it. Liam seems to have grown longer and I'm sure he has gained some weight but I won't know for sure until his 2 month appointment next month. We've tested him out at a movie and he slept through the entire thing and didn't cry once. Not sure he would do so well in an action movie (because of all the sudden loud noises), but a comedy should be fine. I'm hoping to start my job search this week and hopefully it won't take too long to find something (although it took my husband nearly 2 months). 

Two weeks ago on Facebook, one of the YA authors that I follow, English writer Philip Reeve, posted this article that he wrote for School Library Journal. Since I tend to read a lot of dystopias and they are so popular nowadays, as explained in the article, I thought I would pass it along so others could read and enjoy it. He knows what he is talking about as he has also written the dystopian series Mortal Engines and Fever Crumb. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Catherine Webb, Rachel Holmes, Elana Johnson, Megan McCafferty, Cassandra Clare, and Rick Riordan

I know it has been absolute ages since I did one of these (basically since before I moved to Arizona) and since I just finished two books I've been waiting months to read, I figured it was time to do another set of reviews and recommendations.

Children and Young Adult
The Throne of Fire (Kane Chronicles, #2) by Rick Riordan

I enjoyed this book and read it relatively quickly, though I liked it less than the first book. Like others have said, I really loved the addition of the god Bes and the Anubis-Sadie-Walter "love" triangle, but thought there was not enough of the major gods like in the last book, more of them mentioned in passing. 

In this volume, Sadie and Carter Kane have five days to find the three scrolls of the Book of Ra to awaken the Sun God and former ruler of the gods and stop Apophis, the Snake of Chaos who is trying to escape and destroy the world. I thought the plot twist involving Walter, one of the Kane's new magician initiates, was the most interesting and I look forward to hearing more about him in the next book. I also liked that they further explored the Duat, the magical world of the gods. Highly recommended for ages 10+, 4 stars. 

Young Adult
The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle by Catherine Webb

First off this book is a historical fiction with a touch of fantasy in it, but I don't believe that it qualifies as a steampunk novel due to the lack of advanced technology. I picked this up on a whim while browsing the YA section of my local library, trying to find something to read. Now I will say that while I enjoyed the book, I found it to be overly descriptive in some places, so much so that it kind of made the story slow down to a snail's pace. I personally like overly descriptive things but it took me 4 days to read this book, when normally a book this long would take 2 days. 

Horatio Lyle is a Special Constable (detective) for the police during the Victorian era (1863) and is also an amateur scientist. He is summoned to the palace for a very important mission, to recover a cultural artifact known as the Fuyun Plate. He is later joined in this endeavor by a local pickpocket he discovered named Tess and Thomas, another science enthusiast and the son of Lord Elwick. Soon all three are drawn into a crazy world of Chinese agents and mysterious green-eyed hypnotists who all seem to be coming after the Plate. Will they be able to find it in time and give it back to the Crown? What is the real purpose behind the Plate and why are so many people after it? To find out, you must read this book. Recommended for ages 12+. 3 1/2 stars. 

Possession (Possession, #1) by Elana Johnson
I had been waiting 1 1/2 months to read this book and I was happy to finally pick it up from the library. I really loved this book, as the author was so good at climaxing the action until the end, however the ending itself was so anti-climatic in comparison to the rest of the book that I knocked it down one star. It was also hard to follow at times as one character would be talking and then all of a sudden the first character would be inside the second's head, so it got kind of confusing. It seems that the author does plan on making the book into a series, so maybe that will redeem the first book a bit. As a side note, I think I have discovered my second favorite kissing writer after Cassandra Clare (that is someone who writes about kissing in such a way that you can imagine yourself in the story as the main character). 

The story is kind of hard to explain, but I will try. It is a dystopian tale and individuals known as the Thinkers control everything that people in Goodland think and do, and so the whole population is pretty much brainwashed. The main character Violet/Vi is a small scale 15 yr old troublemaker who gets busted while out with her best friend, a boy named Zenn, and it's clear that she has been in love with him for a long time. She ends up in prison where she meets Jag, an inmate from the Badlands, but as she gets to know him, she realizes that all things are not as they seem. The man in charge of the Thinkers is this guy named Thane who wants to recruit Vi and Jag for their powers of control, that only Vi is starting to realize that she has. So Jag and Vi spend most of the book running away from the Thinkers and running towards a safe area, falling in love along the way. Will they make it? Or will Thane capture them? You need to read this exciting new book to find out. Recommended for ages 14+, 4 stars. 

Bumped (Bumped, #1) by Megan McCafferty
I originally picked this book as one that I might read but wasn't that interested in reading, at least in compared to others that were coming out. However, I really enjoyed the book and finished it in a day. The concept of the book was very interesting and I could totally see it happening in the future. The ending was annoying, i.e. they ended it after they should have. Because of that, I have given it 4 1/2 vs 5 stars. Recommended for ages 14+.

The book is kind of hard to explain, but I will try. So basically a virus has wiped out the ability for anyone over the age of eighteen to have children, so teenage girls aged 14-18 are prized as breeders. Girls who can get pregnant are treated like rock stars and can get up to 6 figure money deals, in addition to paying for cars and college. Melody got such a deal but has been waiting for the perfect partner to "bump" with. In the meantime, she has learned that she has an identical twin sister named Harmony who showed up on her doorstep trying to convert her to God, and convince her sister to not be a breeder. Melody has a best friend, a boy named Zen, who she secretly likes but has never become involved with him because he is not considered "bumpworthy" material. Once Melody gets to know her sister Harmony, her whole world is turned upside down. 

City of Fallen Angels (Mortal Instruments Series #4) by Cassandra Clare
No, it didn't really take me this long (10 days) to read this short book. However, I did give birth whilst reading it and taking care of a newborn takes up most of a person's time, so I should be forgiven. Overall, I really enjoyed the book and was about 3/4 done with it after reading it a couple days. 

This volume is about Simon and his new role as a Daylighter and the Mark of Cain that Clary gave him in the last book. It also features a mysterious villain turning babies into monsters and causing general mayhem and a potential power struggle amidst the vampires. I'm glad that this book was more about Simon, as I really like his character in the other books. The person behind all the craziness going on throughout the book was a total surprise and it definitely kept me riveted till the end to find out what would happen to her. I did wish that Simon would go ahead and tell Isabelle how he really feels about her. The ending was a bit of an annoying cliffhanger and there will definitely now be a fifth book. Overall I give it 4 1/2 stars and recommend it for ages 15+. 

African Queen: The Real Life of the Hottentot Venus by Rachel Holmes
A well-done and well-researched biography/history of Saartijie Baartman, the so called Hottentot Venus from South Africa, it tells her whole tragic story and how she was exploited both during and after her lifetime. The book was a bit graphic at times, especially in reference to the obsession of 19th century scientists to sexualize the African female as proof of white supremacy, and their demanding to see her nude (which she never willingly did while she was alive). I did find it interesting that not only did she die in France but was not repatriated back to her home country of South Africa until 2002, after her skeleton, genitals and brain had been on display from 1815-1970s. She was used not only as cause for repatriation of African artifacts, but also as a symbol of her country and women's rights therein. 4 stars. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

My new baby

I know I have not been focused on this blog at all lately, but I have a legitimate excuse. Last Friday I gave birth to my son Liam via c-section. He was one week old yesterday and getting used to having a new baby in the house has taken majority of me and my husband's energy and time. Yesterday was the first time I left the house in a week. Luckily, I have been blessed with a beautiful baby boy so it is worth it despite my lack of sleep and energy and post-surgery pain. Thought I would share a picture of him, while I had a few minutes before I go try to get a nap while he is sleeping. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Harry Potter article in honor of the movie coming out this weekend

So as I'm sure most people realize, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Part II is coming to theaters this Friday July 15. I have read all of the books and am personally very excited about this movie as I have been waiting since November last year to figure out how they will end the book (properly I hope with all the proper characters and nothing left out)! One thing is for sure, it will be the darkest movie yet as the book was so definitely not for younger kids, though I'm sure parents will take kids of all ages to see it regardless. 

Today as I was browsing Facebook, I came across the link for this article from the Wall Street Journal and enjoyed reading it, plus there is a lot of truth in it. I know not all parents like Harry Potter, but even the haters have to agree that without it, most kids would not be reading as much as they do (as the article explains), due to the emergence of J.K. Rowling's series. I did not read the series when it first came out in 1997-98, as I thought it was overrated. However, one summer I was helping with a summer camp program and all the kids were reading it so I decided to check it out at my college library. The first couple were kind of boring, but I got hooked by the time I read the fourth one, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Then I couldn't wait for the next book to come out. I remember I was in NYC when the fifth book came out and the family that I was staying with that weekend had a 9 or 10 year old who absolutely loved the series and him and his parents were up at midnight the night of the release to get the next book. I was glad to see a kid, especially a boy, so excited about reading, as I have always been an avid reader. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Reading, one cool librarian thing and a new blog

I've not been very focused on books, to be honest, mostly because all of my thoughts are preoccupied with the baby. The only books I seem to be able to focus on are cookbooks because they require a relatively short attention span, and have been on a Mexican kick with that, probably due to the amount of that nationality here in Arizona (despite the local government's best attempts otherwise). I started reading a great children/teen book by Nnedi Okorafor (a Nigerian-American writer I had been friends on Goodreads for awhile) called Zahrah the Windseeker. I had recently finished her adult fantasy novel Who Fears Death and loved it, so reading this book seemed like the logical conclusion. However, my brain is so scattered that I can't focus on it. I'm going to try to read a teen book that I've had on my to-read list forever called Marcelo in the Real World about a boy with autism, and hopefully I can get through that. 

I was browsing my library likes on Facebook and had discovered the ALSC blog (Association for Library Services to Children) and they have a section called "What I Wasn't Taught in Library School". Two points stood out to me, the first being humorous and the second being way more practical. As I've recently finished up library school and while I was there, participated in an independent study and an internship, I know there is so many little but important things they don't teach you there that you can only learn with hands-on experience. Working in customer service type jobs since I was 16 helps a lot with some of the stuff you come up against, like angry patrons, but things like trying to do programming with insanely low budgets or learning how to get the information about your programs out when your director doesn't like social media is not usually discussed. 

And last, but not least, my hubby has decided to share his love of cooking with world in the form of a blog. He has never done anything like this before, so I am helping to plug it on here. Please go check it out and share your thoughts/comments with him.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Wall Street Journal article on YA books

I know I have been neglecting the librarian/books part of this blog a bit lately, but honestly I haven't had much to add to it. I haven't been reading much lately, though I did just finish a great adult book and am planning to read more by the same author. Apparently I read one of my new favorite author's (Gail Carriger's) books awhile back but forgot to review it, so I'm checking it out from the library again and rereading that next. I am currently not working and most of my excitement lately is coming from my husband starting culinary school soon, everyday stuff, and getting ready for the baby.

Anyways, I found this article from a Facebook friend who shared the link and thought it was a well-done article. I'm sure there will be people who disagree with me, but I think Mr. Alexie brings up some very valid points in his article. I loved his book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian despite the difficult things that were in the novel. In the article, I especially liked when he said that most people who say that YA books are too violent etc are "are simply trying to protect their privileged notions of what literature is and should be. They are trying to protect privileged children. Or the seemingly privileged." I also liked when he explained why he writes the way he does: " I write to give them weapons–in the form of words and ideas-that will help them fight their monsters. I write in blood because I remember what it felt like to bleed." 

Monday, June 6, 2011

It's getting closer to D-Day...and no I'm not talking about WWII

I'm about six weeks away from my delivery date, assuming Baby H comes on time, and believe me when I say that I really hope that he does. Last week was rough baby wise because I was feeling pretty crappy and very crampy pretty much all day every day. Apparently I am having more Braxton Hicks contractions as my tummy has been as tight as a drum, though the round ligament pains have also stepped up a notch as well. My mom says I'm not drinking enough water so I'm trying to drink a couple more glasses per day to cure that. My next doctor's appointment is this Wed and I'm probably gonna end up taking my ultrasound pics over again since my previous OB-Gyn has decided not to forward all the info from the ultrasound technician, even though we've been asking for them for about a month. I am not looking forward to that, even though it would be nice to see how the baby is developing. I finally preregistered at the hospital so they know about when to expect me. My grandparents have ordered the crib and it's supposed to come sometime on Thursday, so looking forward to finally having that. So the last major baby stuff that I need to get is the stroller and car seat. Oh and still need to pack my overnight bag for the hospital because as my husband keeps pointing out, it could literally be anytime in the next six weeks, and once things start happening I will be pretty incapacitated. We're still trying to decide on a name, have it down to final two but still not nailed anything down yet. 

The exciting news that I have to tell is about my hubby. Since he moved here, he has been trying to figure out what he wants to do career-wise and was thinking about making a change. He's a carpenter/house remodeler currently but wants to do something different. He really likes to cook and since there are at least three cooking schools in the Phoenix area, we decided to check them out. So we went to visit Le Cordon Bleu, the most famous of the three, and were really impressed. It was very up to date and despite having about 1000 students, the student-to-teacher ratio and class size was small. So he decided to enroll there and we've spent the weekend trying to get financial aid sorted. The program is 9 months long and he'll be taught basic French techniques on the basics, culinary arts, intro to baking/patisserie and given the option to pursue an Associates/Bachelors in Restaurant Management if he so wishes. The fees include a knife and utensil set, all textbooks, and the uniform (jacket, cravat, cap, pants and perhaps shoes). He is getting very excited but also nervous about starting. The funny thing is that he said he was more scared about starting the program than he was about the baby coming. He starts August 15. 

We had a nice weekend, which started with us going to the movies on Friday morning to see the new X-Men: First Class. I really enjoyed it because of the excellent cast and the back story that explains how Charles Xavier (Professor X) and Erik (Magneto) formed the X-Men back in the 1960s, and how they picked sides. It also talks about the first X-Men came about and they included some that weren't in the previous movies or cartoon series that I had grown up watching. I'm thinking maybe they are in the original comic book series. My favorite character would probably be Hank because he starts out as this insanely smart young nerdy guy who because he wants to fit in, ends up becoming the Beast that we know now. My Dad's birthday was on Saturday and he decided to invite a couple friends over for gourmet burgers. Since we've moved here and especially since John has decided to go to cooking school, he has been the primary cook of the house. So he made up the burgers to order on Saturday. I had a beef burger with caramelized onions and sauteed mushrooms under provolone cheese with bread and butter pickles and guacamole. Delicioso! Saturday was also apparently a Facebook friend's civil union ceremony and another acquaintance's Episcopal deacon ordination, so congrats to all of them. Sunday we went to a new church, which was an interesting experience, and then all the way out to Mesa (about an hour's drive away from us) where we had this insanely yummy brunch at a little bistro. It was actually the perfect blend of lunch and breakfast items as my hubby usually won't eat breakfast food, so they had beef, lamb and mussels for him but things like made-to-order omelets, Eggs Benedict, bacon and sausage for me. And the most enormous but still incredibly sweet and juicy strawberries with a chocolate fountain. We actually went out to Mesa for the free first Sunday of the month admission at the Arizona Natural History Museum that my hubby had found and suggested. For a free museum it was excellent, but I would've have paid the $10 per adult to go there on a regular basis. It was packed full of kids and parents there who were taking advantage of the same deal. It was very hands-on and kid-friendly with about 5 rooms of dinosaur stuff, the origin of the earth, rocks & minerals, a special exhibit on The Sea of Cortez near Baja, CA, Southwestern history, and even a gold panning area outside.