Thursday, August 28, 2014

No Crystal Stair

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): “Black is beautiful . Black isn’t power. Knowledge is power. You can be black as a crow or white as snow but if you don’t know and you ain’t got no dough, you can’t go and that’s for sho’.” ~Lewis Micheaux

Author: Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, R. Gregory Christie
Info: Carolrhoda Books, copyright 2012, 188 pages

Coretta Scott King award-winning author Vaunda Micheaux Nelsons great uncle was Lewis Micheaux, owner of the famous National Memorial African Bookstore. Located in the heart of Harlem, New York, from 1939 to 1975, Micheauxs bookstore became the epicenter of black literary life and a rallying point for the Black Nationalist movement. Some of its famous and most loyal patrons include Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Langston Hughes, and W.E.B. DuBois. In this inspiring work of historical fiction, Nelson tells the true story of a man with a passion for knowledge and of a bookstore whose influence has become legendary.

~Goodreads Description

No Crystal Stair reads like a nonfiction book but is the fictionalized history of Lewis Micheaux, the owner of an African American bookstore in Harlem.  Micheaux believed in the power of education and the importance of reading to expand the mind and discover one's heritage.  This man, from a meager background, found himself as a figure in history, counseling voices like Malcom X, Langston Hughes, and Nikki Giovanni.  Through real photographs and newspaper articles, the life of Lewis Micheaux develops on the page.  It's the story of perseverance, faith, and the belief that life is for the taking.

No Crystal Stair is just different.  It's a bit preachy, but it's well written and offers a fresh perspective on a time period not normally visited in young adult literature.  The story is fast paced, with alternating voices and shifting media, all of which lends itself to creating a mood that fits the time period and expounding on the "documentary" format.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Top 10 Books I Really Want To Read But Don't Own Yet

Top Ten Books I Really Want To Read But Don't Own Yet
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

Changing the topic up a bit!  I don't really buy books any more.  Okay.  That's not entirely true.  But as a librarian, I like to utilize my public library.  So I check out a book and read it first...and then, after I'm madly and completely in love, I go and buy the book because I just MUST have it!

That's why I've decided to split the list between 1) books I've checked out and now will probably buy so that I can love them forever and 2) books I anticipate wanting to buy because I'll probably love them forever.

Books I know I want to buy:
(And I haven't even started buy I'm already cheating...there are series involved...but in my defense, like 95% of teen books being published are series titles.  No idea if that statistic is correct.  Just feels like A LOT.  Most really.  But then there's some of my favorite lady authors who just rock my world.  E. Lockhart, Sarah Dessen, and Morgan Matson, I'm looking at you.  Don't worry.  I'm getting on with the list.)

1) Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas

  2) Shadow and Bone Series by Leigh Bardugo

 3) Woodcutter Sisters Series by Alethea Kontis

 4)  Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
(Even though it won't match the hardback beautifulness of Anna and Lola :(

5) The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

6) The Winner's Curse by  Marie Rutkoski

Books I'll probably want to buy:

 7) Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland

8) Five Summers by Una LaMarche

9) On the Fence by Kasie West

 10)  Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper

Monday, August 25, 2014

Q & A: The Librarian Way - Ch-ch-ch-changes in Librarianship

No.  We're not channeling our inner David Bowie (but for a dose of Bowie, take a break with Changes).  The library world is an ever-evolving conundrum that leaves those passionate about the field both inspired and terrified.  Personally, I like change.  I like figuring out what could be and putting together a crazy scheme that might just get my department, my community, and my library as a whole to this new a bright future.  But I often look back at my seven years of professional librarianship and am speechless by 1) what no one bothered to teach me and 2) how crazy different my job looks now.

So that's what we tackled in this week's The Librarian Way.  How has your position changed?  What are you doing differently? What's now on your priority list?  And what didn't library school prepare you for?

We'd love to hear your thoughts, tips, encouragements, and struggles!  Please leave a comment below or head over to our YouTube channel and join the conversation.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Adventure Is Out There and the big 500

Pinterest, with a mix of my Disney vacation, and an attempt to make my house a home set me on a crafting adventure last weekend.  I wanted something new for my wall.  Something a little more me.  I really liked the quote prints I had created, but they didn't bring much to my living room...which is also my family room, and dining room, and in a way my kitchen.  I wanted some color and some personality.

So I created this, my ode to Pixar's Up and little something that feeds into my wanderlust.  When I get my map pins, I can't wait to fill the map with markers of where I've been and where I can't wait to go.  Because I will go.  The world is out there.  Adventure is out there.  And I've only got myself to blame if I don't go out find it!

On a random note...this is my 500th post!  Crazy!  I've said it before, and let's be honest, I'll probably say it again, but I NEVER thought I'd keep this here blog going for 500 posts.  For those that stop by occasionally, I thank you, especially for your kind and interesting comments.

Happy Friday everyone!  Now go find an adventure!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Dead to You

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): How science solves the mystery, and genetics comes back to bite a boy in the butt.

Author: Lisa McMann
Info: Simon Pulse, copyright 2012, 243 pages

Ethan was abducted from his front yard when he was just seven years old. Now, at sixteen, he has returned to his family.

It's a miracle... at first.

Then the tensions start to build. His reintroduction to his old life isn't going smoothly, and his family is tearing apart all over again. If only Ethan could remember something, anything, about his life before, he'd be able to put the pieces back together.

But there's something that's keeping his memory blocked.

Something unspeakable...

~Goodreads Description~

I wasn't going to write this review.  It's not that it was really poorly written.  I just found it to be completely implausible. 

The Breakdown
Ethan was kidnapped as a small boy, but he's back.  He doesn't remember much about his abduction, and his memories of his childhood are basically non-existent, but he's happy to be off the streets back with the family he once knew.  But things aren't going as smoothly as he had hoped.  His parents are extremely overprotective, his brother hates him, and there's a replacement child that's just as stubborn as he is.  The small town is overjoyed to have the lost boy returned, but the memories of his past keep coming back to haunt him, and Ethan is about to find out that the past can destroy you.

So I can buy a lost boy returned.  And I can buy a loss of memories suffered by trauma and possibly stockholm syndrome.  But I refuse to believe that a family would meet a lost child and immediately take him home without any initial counseling or visitations.  I also can't believe that that same child, who has been gone for NINE years, would be sent to school two days later without having first learned the type of abuse, mental or physical, he might have endured.  And would a family really bring a stranger, who has knowingly been living on the streets, into their home when they have two other children at home, one of which has no idea she had a brother that disappeared in the first place?

Again, not poorly written, Lisa McMann has some talent, just not a great plot.  I never really sympathized with Ethan and his difficulties.  I never actually sympathized with anyone in the family, and I really felt like I should after everything they endured.  It was, however, fast paced and easy to read, with clues revealed pretty quickly while still building tension and intensity.

Sadly, there are many of these kinds of stories in the news.  And if you're fascinated with the consequences of captivity, loss, and neglect, this might be the book for you.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Top 10 Books People Have Been Telling Me I MUST Read

 Top Ten Books People Have Been Telling Me I MUST Read
 (Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

Here's a few that the teens have insisted I read...a few that fellow librarians have suggested I enjoy...and a couple that my wonderful hairdresser thinks I might fall in love with.  Now all I have to do is find the time :)

What's on your list?  Any suggestions you think I should add?

1) Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

2) Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

3) Delirium by Lauren Oliver

4) Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia

5) The Magicians by Lev Grossman

6) Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

7) Landline by Rainbow Rowell

8) The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

9) The Archived by Victoria Schwab

10) The 100 by Kass Morgan

Happy Reading!

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Long Awaited Librarian Way

Hey there you!  It's been a long time!  Julia and I are back for some more Librarian Way fun.  We'll be posting new videos every Monday (fingers crossed :) so keep an eye out.  We'll be talking books, programs, and general librarian awesomness.  And as always, we would love to get your feedback!  Leave a comment, question, topic idea below or on YouTube, and we'll do our best to follow through.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Isla and the Happily Ever After

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): A return to Paris to find the courage to accept love.

Author: Stephanie Perkins
Info: Dutton, copyright 2014, 339 pages

From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and √Čtienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

~Goodreads Description~

The Breakdown
Isla has been in love with Josh for three years (or two books :), but her shy, meek personality always makes interactions with the mysterious artist a bit painful.  Until she's doped up with painkillers after having her wisdom teeth removed.  Then she's bold, outspoken, and extremely embarrassed in the morning.  But it worked.  She's on Josh's radar, and when school starts back up at their boarding school in Paris, there's no more admiring from afar.  He's looking directly at her, and life for Isla is about to change forever.

Have you found that author yet?  You know, that author that seems to write just for you?  Stephanie Perkins is my author.  I knew it after Anna and the French Kiss, was sure after Lola and the Boy Next Door, and now, with Isla and the Happily Ever After, I can proclaim it to the interwebs.  Maybe part of it has to do with the fact that she was once a librarian.  That's so cool.  But it's definitely in the way that she build character, appreciates dialogue, and has a heart for, well, heart, love, friendship, and hope.  All of the stories at face value are pretty basic.  Girl meets boy.  Girl falls for boy.  Miscommunication.  Heartbreak. Realization.  Love.  But her girls and boys are real.  They're flawed and emotional.  They're quick witted and stubborn.  And they're hopeful.  The happily ever afters are won only after the most important battle, the discovery of self and the courage to open up to possibilities.

I love companion novels as opposed to series.  They weave in connecting storylines but have the ability to stand on their own.  I was waiting the whole book (which I read in one sitting because I just had to) for the moment when I would see my old friends again from books past.  They came suddenly, and while it felt a little forced, I'm totally okay with that.  Because they were there.  As friends always are.

My one pet peeve is the cover.  I will be buying this one to complete the trio, but this new cover looks NOTHING like the first two.  You won't even know it belongs, and that makes me so sad.  Why publishers?!  Why do you spit on continuity?!  I understand a new cover for a paperback, but for the hardback?!  Evil, I tell you.  The publishers are evil.l

Isla and the Happily Ever After was a long time coming.  But it was worth the wait, and I can't wait to see what else Stephanie Perkins can deliver.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

"I Yam What I Yam"

Robin Williams made me nervous.  Whenever I would see him on a talk show or in an interview I would wonder what it would be like to meet him, and I came to the very matter of fact conclusion that I would be a ball of nerves around his frenetic energy.  He was unpredictable.  He was loud.  And he was larger than life. It all seemed a bit overwhelming.

But he was also versatile.  He could be the class clown a one moment, going to great lengths to get the laugh, and the next an inspiring teacher, patient counselor, or sensitive doctor.  And it was that ability to turn on the laughs and bring on the charm that made him such an amazing actor.

So while the intrawebs are remembering his immense talent, here are...

Emily Top 5 Favorite Robin William's Movies

He taught me to seize the day, take chances, open myself up to opportunities.  He taught me it's okay to grow up, because that doesn't have to mean you let go of the excitement and innocence of childhood.  And he taught me to eat my spinach.  He was the teacher you always hoped you would have and the friend you would love to have your back.  And the next moment he would be flailing wildly, a mischievous grin on his face, laughter in his eyes, leaving you absolutely speechless.

‘O me, O life of the questions of these recurring. Of the endless trains of the faithless. Of cities filled with the foolish. What good amid these, O me, O life? Answer: That you are here. That life exists and identity. That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.’ 

Oh to leave that kind of verse.  Goodbye Mr. Williams. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): sir.  You will take responsibility for your own actions.

Author: Alex London
Info: Philomel, copyright 2013, 384 pages

Knox was born into one of the City’s wealthiest families. A Patron, he has everything a boy could possibly want—the latest tech, the coolest clothes, and a Proxy to take all his punishments. When Knox breaks a vase, Syd is beaten. When Knox plays a practical joke, Syd is forced to haul rocks. And when Knox crashes a car, killing one of his friends, Syd is branded and sentenced to death.

Syd is a Proxy. His life is not his own.

Then again, neither is Knox’s. Knox and Syd have more in common than either would guess. So when Knox and Syd realize that the only way to beat the system is to save each other, they flee. Yet Knox’s father is no ordinary Patron, and Syd is no ordinary Proxy. The ensuing cross-country chase will uncover a secret society of rebels, test both boys’ resolve, and shine a blinding light onto a world of those who owe and those who pay. Some debts, it turns out, cannot be repaid.

~Goodreads Description~

The Breakdown
It's the future, and basically the world as we know it has ceased to exist.  Wealthy born individuals (Patron) own the debt of the lesser class known (Proxy).  When a Patron breaks the rules (or is just a complete knucklehead like Knox), the Proxy pays for the crime through torture, work camps, and a variety of other unfavorable ends.  After a terrible accident that is going to cause Syd his life, Patron and Proxy meet for the first time, and realize that they might just need each other to survive.

Proxy is a high-action, thrill ride with a surprising amount of heart.  London has created characters that have dimension and show growth through the journey in the book.  The story lacks a bit of substance, it's a pretty straight forward plot, but it's easy to tell that the intrigue and intensity are building.  I'm definitely curious to see what happens to the society as a whole and especially the characters that we're following in volumes to come.  (Alas, if I could only show some follow-through with series...MY KRYPTONITE!)

Let's just say that I would not survive in this particular future.  I probably wouldn't survive in any dystopian future.  I'm a coward.  But I do know that, um, no...I would not be taking responsibility for someone else's stupidity.  I would go into insurmountable debt, and then I would die.  It would be quick.  Or I would join a gang and die anyway.  Dystopian death is in my future.  I can just feel it.

Overall a solid book, and one that I would highly recommend.  It's just fun.  Nothing fancy.  Nothing mind blowing.  Just fun, and interesting, and exciting.  So pick it up on  your next trip to the library and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Top 10 To Read or Not to Read

Top Ten Books I'm Not Sure I Want To Read
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

This was kind of hard.  I'll read just about anything.  I could easily fill this list with classics, but that didn't feel right.  Not quite what was intended.  So I dug deep, and maybe pulled off a lot of the books that have been on my Goodreads to-read list for, like, forever. :)

What's on your list?

1) Insurgent / Allegiant by Veronica Roth
 I'm good.  Plus everything has already been spoiled for me.

2) Graceling by Kristin Cashore
 The thing is, I will read this one.  One day.  Hopefully.  But it is my kryptonite,
and despite all of the great reviews I've come across, I just can't seem to finish it.

3) Crank by Ellen Hopkins
I tend not to gravitate toward books that seem too real.

4) A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer
See #3.  I see this on the news every day.  I don't really want to read about it as well,
even if at least fifty teens have begged me to read it.

5) Delirium by Lauren Oliver
 I'm getting pretty darn picky about my dystopias these days. 
They are starting to wear vampires and werewolves.  This one can wait.

6)  Anything by Jodi Picoult
See #3 and #4.

7) Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard
Because I wasn't a fan of the first one and have no desire to continue.

 8) Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar
I respectfully decline.

9) Eldest / Brisingr / Inheritance by Christopher Paolini
So...yeah, I'm good.

10)  Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Okay.  I had to throw one classic in the mix.  It's soooo long!

And the print is sooo small!  And I've seen the movie, so I feel like I get the gist.

Happy reading!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Library GrabBag: True American (Nerd)


Have you seen New Girl?  If you haven't, you totally should.  At least the first two seasons...and some select episodes in season three where Winston plays a pivotal role.  If you're thirty-something, feeling a little lost, and don't take yourself too seriously, it might just be the show for you.  It's the show for me.

And it is in no way appropriate for my Teen Room at the library.  But that hasn't stopped me from trying.  So in New Girl, Jess and friends play a loud, confusing drinking game known as True American.  There's lots of beer, lots of shouting of unusual things, and the ground is made of lava.  I'm pretty much always in for a game that involves lava.

I wanted to bring that kind of game into my library.  Not the drinking thing of course, but the idea that teens can be loud, and excited, and safely climb around on things pretending that they'll melt if they step on the carpet.  So I re-imagined True American for teens and created True Nerd.  We've played once, and the game needs a bit of tweaking, but it was indeed loud and exciting.  And no one fell into the lava.  There's some deductive reasoning, opportunities to build on literacy skills, but most importantly a chance to create lasting relationships with your teens and an atmosphere that is fun (and sneakily educational) :)

Here are the rules:

True American rules (in case you're so inclined, or a way to unwind after a difficult week)

Revised True Nerd rules (we're still building on our database of game ideas...we'd love your input!)

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