Thursday, September 30, 2010

Banned Books Week

Ok, yes everyone is doing it, so I am hopping on the bandwagon and blogging about Banned Books Week.  I think so far my favorite blog coverage of the week has been over at Forever Young Adult.  I mean the coverage has included a Golden Girls photo with The Hunger Games proudly displayed.  Also, the Forever YA folks have explained to us why some of the most banned books need to be banned by sharing their experiences of how banned books have ruined their lives.

In all seriousness though.  This is a week when people recognize the books that make a few select people so uncomfortable that those people feel the need to tell *everyone* that the book should not be read.  These people are not content with choosing not to read it themselves, or deciding that (within their right to do so) their children should not read the book, no instead they decide they know what is best for everyone and decide that no one should read the book.

One book that has come under fire this year (like so many other years) is Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.  This book has come to the attention again of someone who has decided that due to the "sexual content" of the book that it must be banned.  Now, and I admit this may make me a bad librarian, when I read Speak I almost found it to be, boring?  I actually found the movie to be a bit better, and I found the book to be subtle, almost slow, quiet.  But, I think that kind of goes along with what the book is about.  I've seen Laurie Halse Anderson speak (and actually met her at ALA in Chicago!  She liked my tattoos), and she has said the book is not about rape, it's about depression.  The depression does come about because of rape, but it's still about depression, and I agree with her.

I also think that this book is important.  Did I love it?  Not really.  Do I respect it?  Hell yes.  I've been depressed, I've been through rough times, hell who hasn't.  This book has touched so many young people, it's made them realize that they are not alone.  And you know what?  That's what books are supposed to do.  We may not have to go through exactly what the main character of a book goes through, and we may never want to, but we can relate to the characters.  Did I grow up in the Victorian era and marry the boy whom I broke a slate over his head cause he called me "carrots"?  No.  But, I always related to Anne Shirley because she was different, smart, not what people wanted her to be, but still loved.  I'm still that way and I am 30 years old.  I am sure my parents (especially my dad) would not choose to have a daughter with tattoos and pink hair, but that is who I am and they love me for it.

I will always think that parents should be involved in the books that their kids read.  I fully support any parent's right to decide that his or her child should not read a specific book, for whatever reason.  I do not support people who go out of their way though, and try to deny everyone, the right to read books that are important, and meaningful, no matter what they are.  Because you never know what will touch someone else.  You never know what will speak to someone.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller

This review is based on an Advanced Reader's Copy that I received in the mail.

Have you ever fallen in love at first sight?  Had memories of a past life?  Known all about and longed to visit a place you've never seen?  Well, then you might have had a past life.

The Eternal Ones centers around the character of Haven Moore.  A young woman who grew up in a small town in Tennessee, but has always longed to go to New York and search out her lost love, Ethan.  Haven believes that in a past life she (as Constance) and Ethan were meant to be together, but died before their time, and now she must seek out Ethan so that their love can be rightfully lived.

But, what Haven finds isn't only love.  There's deceit, a murder mystery, and not everything in NYC is always as it seems.  Now Haven isn't sure if that man she believes is Ethan is the love of her life, or a killer from her past who is ready to end her life again.

I have to say, I was not really looking forward to this book.  I've had about enough of the paranormal romance, and I thought that this sounded a little cheesy.  I'm really glad I put those feelings aside though because I enjoyed this book so much.  I will say that some of the obsessive love that Haven feels towards her "Ethan" might reinforce a somewhat unhealthy view of love that many teenagers already have.  That's just a small hit against this entertaining story.  I was totally drawn into Haven's love, but also could relate to her feelings of betrayal.  The end of the book got a little over the top, and the big bad is almost maybe a little too grand for this story.  But, I think that teens will love it anyways, and probably won't have a problem with the big bad.

I have to say, one quote from the book (and this may differ slightly from the published version) really resonated with me:
"Love and faith go hand in hand.  You can't have one without the other.  And, as well all know, taking that leap isn't always safe.  Sometimes you judge poorly, and you land right on your face.  But unless you make the jump, you'll never know what's on the other side."

As someone whose had her heart stomped on a number of times (like I am sure we all have), I can really relate to that quote.  If you love someone, you have to have faith in them.  It's dangerous, it's scary, it might get you hurt, but if you never take the risk you'll never known what you might end up with.

I can't wait for the library's copy of this book to be in, and processed, so I can start checking it out to my teens.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Book Club attendance

One area I've had trouble with at the library is book club attendance.  We'll have teens show up one month, and then not be back the next.  Since one of the main points of our book club is that we give teens books to keep, it's very hard on our budget to give out books, but get no return on the investment.  So, I started thinking of ways I could get the teens to come every month, or almost every month at least.

Then it came to me!  Last spring we as a book club went to see the Percy Jackson movie.  The teens had a great time, and did ask to do something like that again.  I decided that I would hand out punch cards to the teens in the book club.  Every meeting they come to, they get a "punch" (or really more a date on the card).  After 6 punches the teen earns the right to attend a movie outing with the library Teen Book Club.

We've just launched this plan today, and I am hoping that it works well.  I really enjoyed the movie outing last time around, and I'd love to do something like it again.  Now all I have to do is see what movies are coming out next spring that I'd be able to take my teens to.

I'll update later on the success (or possible failure) of my program.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

John Hughes

On my way to work this morning, my mind drifted off thinking about the beautiful sunshine out and how the day was all fresh with possibility, and how I am kinda anxious with a sorta new boyfriend, and all this kind of stuff makes me feel younger, almost like a teen again.  And whenever I think of those teen years, I can't help but think of a man who helped shape them: John Hughes.  Now, I never met him, sent him a fan letter, nothing.  But, I grew up on his movies.

The first time I can think of hearing a Beatles' song was on Ferris Bueller's Day Off.  I had a crush on Wyatt on Weird Science.  I remember standing with my friend (and our baby-sitter) in the cold to watch Home Alone.  Christmas Vacation is a staple in my family during the holidays.

The movie where I really clicked with Hughes though is The Breakfast Club.  I still remember the very first time I watched it, and how much that movie instantly mattered to me.  My friends and I spent a good amount of time in my parents' basement as teens.  I guess we were the "Foreman House" per say, except my friends and I didn't sit around a table and smoke pot, we mostly sat around the TV and drank our selves high on sugared up pop.  The basement is also where the computer was, and on the night I first saw The Breakfast Club I was working on a big assignment that I'd of course put off until the very last minute.

I know I had the TV on for background noise, and movies were playing on TBS I believe.  I heard the opening music, and of course the speech, and I was hooked into The Breakfast Club.  I was riveted as the characters each entered the Saturday detention on their own, with their own problems, and in their own world.  I believed them as they slowly started to open up and become vulnerable with one another.  I ached to have something like that happen to me, and at the end of the movie I cried.  The next day I told my boyfriend that he *had* to watch this movie!  And I've since re-watched The Breakfast Club a number of times, although none will be as important to me as that first time on TV even with all the "bad" parts taken out.

Since his death, I've heard many actors say that John Hughes never fully grew up.  That he always could relate to the children and teens he worked with.  And I think that comes through in his movies.  I think the reason his movies resonate so well with me, and many others, is that they speak to that child/tween/teen that's still in all of us.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Books I can't wait to read

I've been on a bit of a roll here with my blog lately with my blog, and I figured I'd try to keep it up.  Today I thought I'd write about books that I am looking forward to reading.

New books are exciting.  One of the best parts of my job is getting to order new books every month.  When they come in, I get all excited and I love being able to interact with them, and yes smell them.  And I love looking online to see what new and exciting books are coming out.  Here are some of the books that have either pretty recently come out, or are coming out soon, that I can't wait to read.  Some of the summaries come from, since they were already typed up and succinct, I decided not to retype them.

1.  Accomplice by Eireann Corrigan

Finn and Chloe have it all figured out. Their school guidance counselor has told everyone that it's not enough to get good grades or do community service anymore - kids like that are everywhere, and colleges are bored of them. So what do you do? Chloe decides they should get attention another way. She and Finn will stage her own disappearance - and then Finn will be the only who finds and saves her. What college wouldn't want them after that kind of attention? It seems like a good plan -- until things start going very wrong.

2.  Girl, Stolen by April Henry

Sixteen year-old Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of a car while her mom fills her prescription at the pharmacy. Before Cheyenne realizes what's happening, their car is being stolen--with her inside! Griffin hadn’t meant to kidnap Cheyenne, all he needed to do was steal a car for the others. But once Griffin's dad finds out that Cheyenne’s father is the president of a powerful corporation, everything changes—now there’s a reason to keep her. What Griffin doesn’t know is that Cheyenne is not only sick with pneumonia, she is blind. How will Cheyenne survive this nightmare, and if she does, at what price?

These first two I've wanted to read ever since I read early reviews of them.  They just sounds so interesting and thrilling.  One of the patrons at my library did read and enjoy Accomplice, so that makes me want to read it even more.

3.  Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

The sequel to Beautiful Creatures.  I enjoyed the first book, especially loving the atmosphere and the secondary character Uncle Macon.  I'm exited to see what happens next.

4.  Grace by Elizabeth Scott

I love Elizabeth Scott's books, and I am always looking forward to any new ones being published.  So, like many of my patrons, I can't wait to read Grace!

What books are you looking forward to, and what books should I be reading? 

Thursday, September 16, 2010


It's not the most glamorous job in the library, but weeding the collection is very important.  I admit, I tend to be a bit lax when it comes to weeding, and I usually only do it when one of the pages is at me, practically in tears, because the shelves are too full and she can no longer fit even one more book on them.

I've attended a few conferences where weeding has been a topic of discussion, and I've learned a lot from other librarians on the topic.  I've mixed that knowledge, and just my own bit of insight, and come up with a way that I think works well for weeding the YA section at my library.

First of all, there are some books that are just never going to get weeded while I am in control.  I don't care how dated the cover of Losing Joe's Place is, I loved that book when I was in middle school and as long as the pages are still sticking in the book, I refuse to remove it from my shelves.  Also, while not many teens are all hip on the Dumas work of art The Count of Monte Cristo they are going to have to pry that book out of my cold dead hands to remove it from my YA section.

That said, here is my advice when it comes to weeding in the library.  First of all, you have to know your section.  I run the teen section, so most of my weeding advice has been developed for a YA section.  Teens have the attention span of a gnat.  Honestly, if something is blinking, swearing, screaming out music, or flashing them, they probably don't care about it.  So, if a book hasn't checked out in 3-5 years from a YA section, then it needs to GTFO, or have a really good reason to be on the shelf.  A few years ago I found a book in the YA section that hadn't checked out in my entire LIFETIME.  Yes, the last time it had checked out was pre-1979.  Just today I pulled one book from the shelf that hadn't checked out since I've been able to drive.  Yeah, that stuff needs to go.

Second, while teens aren't as bad as us old folks, and their eyesight probably isn't failing them as quickly (although they are increasingly losing their hearing) as it is us more mature individuals, teens are not going to take the time to squint and barely be able to make out the title on a spine that is sun bleached/bent all to hell/dirty/has cloudy laminate/any other thing that is obscuring the title.  So, if you as a librarian can not clearly read the title, trust me a patron isn't going to even bother with that book.

Third, and this is a big one for me, the smell test.  Seriously, if I open a book and it smells like it's been in someone's grandma's basement for a few decades, I take that crap out of my collection.  Now, I may order a new, and not so smelly, copy, but I am not going to force my patrons to put up with someone that makes me feel like I am going to have an asthma & allergy attack.

Finally, and this should be obvious, but multiple copies!  Yes, Twilight is the haps now, and Harry Potter was HUGE a while ago.  But, if you have a book and there is not a HUGE demand for that title, and it is not part of a school required reading list, there really isn't a reason to have more than a couple of copies on hand at anytime.  Especially if your library is part of any sort of group that can inter-library loan.

Remember, shelf space is important.  Overly crowded shelves are actually a deterrent to patrons.  So, get rid of those old, dusty, non-circulating, smelly, hard to read, and multiple copied, books, and give the other books room to breathe!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Favorite Picture Books

A co-worker is currently taking a Children's Literature course.  Of course, like most Children's Lit courses, her first assignment is to bring in a favorite picture book.  While she was searching through the library's collection, and telling my boss and me about the assignment, I started thinking back to some of my favorite picture books.  It's been like two decades since I read some of these books, but they've stuck with me through the years.  Here's a run down of some of my favorite picture books.

1. The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack

My mother likes to tell me that I always giggled with my father tried to pronounce the name of the river in this book.  Apparently the name Yangtze River was a bit of a mouthful for my poor dad.

I know I had this book read to me over and over as a kid, and I remember loving that little yellow duck.  This book was one of the first things I looked for when I started working at my library.

2.  Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Seriously, the expression says it all.  As an adult I have some days that are terrible, horrible, no good, and all around very bad days, and I always think of Alexander on those days.  For granted, I've never gone to bed with gum in my mouth and ended up with gum in my hair.  Nor have I ever lost out on the coolest pair of sneakers to one of my siblings (mostly because I was an only child), but I was always able to relate to Alexander and his horrible day.

3.  A Bargain for Frances by Russel Hoban

Who can forget Frances, and how she learns not to let her friends screw her over?  Seriously, this is a lesson I need to be reminded of very often, and I should probably buy myself a copy of this book and read it at least once a week.

4.  Serendipity books

All of these books taught a lesson, or had a moral.  But, they were still awesomely illustrated and fun.  I've included a book from the series that I loved when I was younger, that's come under fire since I was a child.  Catundra is a fat and mean cat, who as he works on improving himself physically, also improves himself spiritually.

Yes, we need to love children, and our families unconditionally, and too many people these days have "body image" issues.  But, truth be told, being physically fit is good for you.  And being able to be proud of yourself for losing weight, and being healthy, is a good thing.  So the haters can keep on hating, but I love Catundra, and many other of the saccharine-sweet books brought to use by the most rockin purple dragon thing ever (Barney can suck it!).

5.  Helga's Dowry by Tomie dePaola

This is the first picture book that I read to myself.  I remember sitting in the elementary school library and reading through this book mentally thinking "WTF is a dowry??"  The fact that this book made me think, made me question, and made me learn, along with the fact that the book is written by the awesome Tomie dePaola made me remember this book.

6.  Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems

Now this isn't a book I read as a child, but instead it's one I was introduced to while working here at the library, and I couldn't help it, I fell in love.  The Pigeon, he is teh awesome.  I even now am the proud owner of a stuffed pigeon, his name is Pidgey.  The pigeon has many adventures, over multiple books, and he has taught me that there are still great picture books being published every year, and that a great picture book will appeal to the child that's still inside every adult.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Machete: a review

I. love. horror. movies.  Srsly love them.  In October, in celebration of Halloween, I watch a horror movie or Halloween themed show or movie every night for the entire month.

Now, you are probably wondering what any of this has to do with Machete?  Well, those of you that are familiar with the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino collaboration Grindhouse, would know that Machete is based off of a "fake" movie trailer that was shown between the two main features:  Planet Terror and Death Proof.

So, I, being the horror movie and Robert Rodriguez fan that I am, have known about, and been anticipating Machete for awhile now.  Then I found out through the blogosphere, and elsewhere, that Rodriquez was going to take his fun, campy, movie concept and make it a mouthpiece for the illegal alien situation.  That pissed me off.  Not gonna lie.  I get it, movie makers are allowed to be political, everyone's allowed to be political, blah blah blah.

It was with much trepidation that I agreed to go see Machete with my boyfriend last weekend.  I have to say that I am glad I went.  Yes, there was some political crap in there, but the movie was so over the top that the "political" message wasn't really anything that anyone could have been very offended by.  Also, there was lots of fun blood and guts to get in the way of said political message.  Dude uses a weed whacker at one point in time as a weapon.

There are also lots of fun little Rodriquez-y things in the movie that fans of his will recognize.  Someone loses an eye, one of the kids from Spy Kids has a supporting role, things like that.  And, while I loved Planet Terror, I think in some ways this is a much more successful homage to his roots.  I could still see hints of El Mariachi in this movie, even though Machete obviously had a MUCH bigger budget, and you know was shot in English and all.

In the end, I was very impressed with the movie, and enjoyed it much more than I thought I would.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Little Things

"My outlook is that little things are the trip. I’m very happy with very little. Maybe that’s why I have so much."
- Linda McCartney

I am not sure when, how, or where I came across this quote.  Maybe it was back in middle school when we were doing a calligraphy project.  Who knows.  What I do know, is that like many a song lyric, and other random pop culture worthless-ness, this quote has stuck with me.

In this world that is full of crap so much of the time, full of things that dissappoint (like a certain third book in a triology that shall remain nameless, and the movie Phenomenon), it's sometimes important to really enjoy the little things.  Now, for granted I am going to come across as some Tony Robbins/hippie mix that's all sunshine and rainbows, but I guess I'll just have to live with that.

For example, today I was driving downtown, the window was open, the music was playing, and the sun was on my skin.  It was awesome.  Also, coming home from work today I realized that I enjoyed coming home to my house.  I've done lots of work on it this summer, and now it is almost like living in a new place, a place that feels more like "home" than the house I've been in for the past 7 years.  

So, I guess I am advocating that people listen to the late Linda McCartney's words and appreciate the little things.  :)

Thursday, September 9, 2010


In this episode, I will try to explain my reasons for loving Glee.

Yeah, I know, pretty much anyone that would be reading my blog probably knows I love Glee.  Hell, most of you also probably love Glee (the whole 1 of you that might be out there).  But, and this may come as a shock, there are actually people out there that don't dig the show.  So, I've found myself in a position of trying to explain what it is that I love about the know besides Kurt being teh awesome, Brittany and her inane comments, and Puck being the most dudalicious bad ass GLEE CLUB member ever!

The thing that really gets me about Glee, the thing that makes me keep coming back, and the thing that has made me cry multiple times over the first season (aside from the introduction of Sue's sister), is the relationship Will Shuster has with the students in his Glee Club.  You see that relationship from the very first episode.  During "Don't Stop Believing" we see Shue go into the auditorium and look on the stage to watch the kids that HE inspired, trying to make something of themselves.  In that moment, he realizes he's done something good, and could be doing something great.

In the last episode, the Glee Club students sing "To Sir, With Love" to Shue, and again, I got all teary eyed.  While this may lead you to believe I am nothing but a big cry baby (which could very well be true), but I digress.  The thing that made me choke up was the fact that these characters were telling their teacher, their mentor, that no matter  how long of a time they have together, that he has influenced them in a way that will be with them the rest of their lives.

Why does this make me love Glee?  Well, because I want to be Shue!  I mean I don't want to be a man who is making a bunch of teenagers prance around a stage and sing.  I want to be someone who affects the teens, or anyone, that I work with that way.  I think it's especially poinent to me because I do work with teens.  I know I won't have a huge impact on every teen that walks through this door, or even on a majority of them, but I want to know that with at least a few of them, I've influenced them in a (hopefully positive!) way that will stick with them the rest of their lives.

That's why I love the show, because I see myself reflected in the characters, especially in Shue.  I hate to admit that I relate to the "adult" on a show, but I really do.  And hell, maybe one day my teens at the library will sing "To Sir, With Love" to me....or then again maybe not.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


While one of the bloggers at Forever Young Adult has pretty much said everything I'd want to say about Mockingjay, I thought I would post about it here anyways.  It's not really fair to review a book unless you've read the whole thing, but you know what?  I don't really care.

As has been mentioned before, I have a love of The Hunger Games that may border slightly on obsession, and I was all a twitter to have Mockingjay come out.  I even dragged my ass to Meijer at 1:30 am release day to see if I could purchase a copy.  No such luck for me.  I did eventually get my hands on the coveted book and started reading.  But, something was amiss about Mockingjay.  It was just different.  Some other librarians had said that they thought it started slowly, and I do know that even people who love The Hunger Games said that started slowly for them, so I worked on sticking with it.

Then, last Sunday, I really got time to sit and dig my teeth into Mockingjay.  I was going along with it, and then I just started to come across passages that made me go, eh?  I started reading some of the stuff out loud to my boyfriend, and outright complaining to him about what was happening in the story.  Then, it happened, I broke down and looked up spoilers online to see what happened in the book.

NOTE here be spoilers!

WTF Gale!?  Ok, so the whole point of the series, or the start of it at least, is that Katniss wants to save her younger sister from going into the Hunger Games, she wants her sister to live.  And in the end, her sister dies because of Gale?  Yeah, thanks, but no.  I get it, everyone was Team Peeta, and I get it, war sucks blah blah blah.  But seriously?  Oh, and Finnick, the person who gets built up to have lots of sympathy, he dies?  Thanks for that one.

Now, I can deal with the death of favorite characters.  In Harry Potter, it's sort of the right thing that Fred dies in the end (even though I luvs me some Weasley twins!), and actually I cried for George.  But, the end fits.  Mockingjay just felt like, a different world, with different characters.  I missed the awesome BFF Gale who reminded me of my best guy friend growing up, and I am mad at Collins for taking that character away from me (or trying to, I've decided to ignore her ending and make up my own).

I'll always love The Hunger Games, and Catching Fire.  I'll always root for Katniss, and cry when Rue dies.  But, Mockingjay was a bit let down for me, and I'm sorry that an amazing series ended on such a sour note.  At least I got out before I couldn't make up my own fan fiction version in my head.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Mockingjay thing

I am sure many, if not all, if you who would read this know about The Hunger Games, and it's third and final installment that just came out:  Mockingjay.  Any of you that know me, know that I LOVE The Hunger Games, in fact, one of my tattoos is slightly based on the cover of that book.

So, why is it taking me so long to get done with Mockingjay?  I know many librarians, authors, and other readers went through that book within a day of it being released, but I've been working on it for more than a week now.

I think my problem with this book, much like the problem I had with Deathly Hallows (the last Harry Potter book), is that I don't want my experience with these characters to end.  I want to know what happens, but I am going to miss them and their adventures once I finish that last page.  So, while I want to fly through the book, I am stopped by the fact that I also *don't* want to know.  

Does anyone else feel like this?