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!