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Man, I am slow with the posts lately. No apologies though, I have been super busy. I came back to work and got dunked in Summer Reading fever in which we are often 4 kids deep giving out prizes and signing them up. I always forget how involved it is and what a great opportunity it is to engage the little readers–and make them less afraid of talking to the big scary librarian ;)
Plus we have been getting some serious reference questions mixed in there despite school being out. And readers advisory for all ages–lots of folks going on trips and looking for a “good book” or a book on cd. My teen shelves are at half capacity right now. Almost all the easy to recommend stuff is checked out. I’m having a hard time finding things to put on display.
So, I promised a what I’ve been reading catch up, so here it is.
Embassytown by China Mielville The first person narrative and the cold science fiction combined with the short story format leave this book feeling cold. The stories are great, don’t get me wrong, I just don’t feel like I invest myself in them. As always, Mielville creates an interesting and surreal world where you feel immersed in the setting. Embassytown is a settlement on a world far from others in civilization. The humans there share their space with the Hosts and while I am only half way through the second story, I have a feeling there is more to the name Hosts than just inviting others into their homes.
Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin I found myself thinking of this book a lot in New Orleans. It is set in the South, along the Mississippi river and follows the captain of the Fevre River Packets owner. You learn a lot about piloting and outfitting a steamboat, which might sound boring, but totally is not. Did you know that steamboats would use lard to make their boats go faster? There are vampires in this book, but their origin is different from what we are used to and the plot is so interesting. Very mysterious and dark, Fevre Dream kept me interested all the way through. It takes a great writer to weave historical elements into a story to make parts that are slow in plot fill you with thoughts of steam engines. This book is not as long as Game of Thrones and not as fanciful. It’s a good solid read, although probably most satisfying on dark cold winter nights.
Spartacus and the Circus of Shadows by Molly E. Johnson I got this one in the mail from Rain Town Press just before I left for vacation. They included a carmel apple pop, so I couldn’t say no and I have to say that the mystery of a book wrapped in black paper also piqued my interest. As their website says:
RainTown Press is extremely proud to announce our first book, Spartacus and the Circus of Shadows, by Portland author Molly Johnson. It’s a high adventure runaway tale about Spartacus Zander, a normal kid with a not-so-normal name (and freakish circus abilities) who runs away from home in search of his human cannonball mother who he thinks has been kidnapped by a traveling circus. No spoiler alert here, kids. You’re going to have to wait until October 1st to find out what happens.
I am also not going to give away any spoilers, but I will say this is a wonderful book for older children and tweens. It’s a bit dark with some moral questions about families that might make it hard on younger readers. There are lots of cool tricks and characters–lots to do and see! I’ll definitely be recommending it for purchase.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline I was lucky to get this book, I think. I approached the Crown booth at ala11 and saw some intriguing buttons scattered around the table. These were green pixelated keys and half full hearts on a black background. I asked the rep about them and she started telling me about a book that was coming out, called Ready Player One. It is set in the future when the world has become so disheartening that most people retreat to OASIS, a simulated world where one can go to school, see movies and look however you want. It’s also a place to play massive multiplayer games.
The rep saw my Intellectual Freedom Fighter ribbon on my badge and said that the Unshelved guys would be posting an interview with the author sometime soon. She could tell I was interested and I mentioned that I had read and liked Corey Doctorow and similar authors, so she kind of looked around then went over to a cabinet and pulled out a copy of the book and handed it to me. It’s the book I decided to keep out to read when I sent all the others off by media mail, and I am almost done. I will tell you more about it next time, when I am actually finished. I can say that I love it. Great first novel that I can’t believe is a first novel. I keep going to the back of the book to make sure I read that correctly.
Falling Skies by Paul Tobin I don’t actually have this comic in my possession yet, but The Mister and I started watching the TV series in our hotel last week. It was pretty amazing and I love Noah Wyle. When Dark Horse tweeted about the TV series, I replied that I was watching it and they replied to me that there was a comic and had I read it yet? I immediately went to see if the library had it, and no they didn’t, so I put in a purchase suggestion and today it popped up in my hold list. They were probably going to buy it anyway…but it always makes me happy when they purchase something I suggest. I can’t wait till my copy comes in.
I’m still in New Orleans, but ALA is over. Many of the librarians, et al, have packed up and gone home. The Mister and I have one more day to enjoy together before we both get on planes going to different places. I find myself unable to make up my mind as to what I should do with this last day. I have a couple of souvenirs to pick up and a box of books to ship home. We should probably eat something. But right now we are just sitting companionably in our artfully messy hotel room listening to the St. Charles street car go by every 10 minutes.
I have been to conferences before, even ALA. In fact, I have been to dental conferences (don’t ask). This is the first conference where it really clicked why I am here. The sessions were good–I learned a lot about the future of digital media (ebooks, music, etc.), cloud computing, databases, and most importantly, myself. I talked to people I didn’t know and gave them ideas from our system that they will take away and use to make their school library more interactive with students. I learned from them too, in many ways. Mostly I learned that my system is amazing, that we do a lot, even if we librarians sometimes feel that we, as a system, don’t take that first innovative step until someone else has tested the field. There are a lot of places where we are the front runners in public libraries.
The panel I moderated went amazingly well. Forty people came, which was great since it was in the very last time slot for presentations at the conference and that’s about what the room could hold comfortably. There was a good representation of academic and public libraries in the audience and many of them had zine collections. Our panelists, Jenna Freedman, Chris Ritzo and John Stevens made for a well rounded presentation. Jenna is a librarian at Bernard College, which has an extensive zine collection. Chris is a volunteer librarian at the Urbana Champaign Independant Media Center. And John is at the State Library in Melbourne Austrailia, where zines are archived for the future. Both John and Jenna have their own zines in addition to helping preserve them. All three are very active in the zine culture in their areas, as well as in their professional pursuits.
After the panel we all trooped out to the parking lot to ooh and ah over the Zine Mobile, which will be taking a jolly band of zinester librarians (and honorary, or rogue as the case may be ;) on a road trip that passes through Florida and ends up in Milwaukee for the 3rd annual Zine Librarians Un-Conference. I loved the van:
Once again, I am not going to tell you about what I am reading now because I wouldn’t do it justice under all this conference talk. I’ll have a special book review edition after I return home.
I’m here in New Orleans and enjoying myself immensely. The Mister and I have walked all over the French Quarter, checked out the River Walk and tasted some mighty fine gumbo. We’ve given up on finding a grocery in walking distance, but I found a farmers market this morning and we got some peaches. I seriously need fresh fruit or the gummy bear addiction goes into overdrive.
Yesterday I volunteered with NOLA School Volunteers through ALA’s Libraries Build Communities. We helped paint a school room at a local high school. Pictures above.
Also pictured is a promotional postcard for a galley I am looking forward to reading. I met Jessica today in the exhibit hall and we had a great conversation about incarcerated youth and she offered to skype with my new mentee’s home. I hope to take her up on it.
I’ll fill you in on What I am Reading when I am back at the computer.
I made it to vacation and I (think I) even got everything done.
Tomorrow we leave for camping on the Olympic Peninsula, which almost guarantees that it will be raining. I am sad that the Boy can’t come, but he has basketball camp starting on Sunday, and besides it is Father’s day weekend and I am sure he wants to spend it with his dad. Hopefully I will have a signal so I can call and harass him every night. I’ll post some pics here too if I can.
I have been wading through ALA related email, trying to decide what programs to go to. A few have been added and I know I won’t really make up my mind until I get there and see where everything is. If the sessions are across town, it’s not as likely I am going to make it.
Being the geek that I am, I reread that last paragraph and had to look up if it was bad grammar to end a sentence (or in this case, several) with a preposition. Evidently not, although it is not recommended for long sentences where the preposition can end up far from its object, confusing the reader.
What am I reading? Finally in the last chapter of Fevre Dream. I have to admit I am getting tired. But I really want to know what happens! Tonight for sure.
Also still on The Jewel and the Key, and typing that I just realized what the title refers to. I can be a little slow. I still get a little frustrated with the Seattle references, but I am starting to move beyond it to enjoy the story and the writing. Spiegler does a really nice job with description and substance, although I feel the character development is a little lacking at this point.
Wow, the two weeks since vacation have been crazy pants. I don’t know how I packed so many obligations into such a short amount of time, but I figured out yesterday just how much I had booked. 2 computer classes (one of them my first day back), 1 TAG wrap up party, 1 TAG video edit (coming soon), 2 training sessions, 1 school visit (with 7 classrooms and a lunch table), 1 scavenger hunt program–throw in a weekend Union conference, a general membership meeting and a few personal things–The Boy’s basketball tournament in La Connor!–and I’ve been one busy woman!
Of course, there are upsides and downsides to this kind of thing. I got to do everything I wanted (everything!), and I get the second half of the month off for vacation and ALA. The downsides are that I had to drive most days because of supplies and early mornings, I woke up at odd times from anxiety dreams, and I was a little high strung.
Usually I don’t plan things so close, but a few weren’t my doing (training) and the others couldn’t be helped (without making the choice not to do them). I had time for them all and planned really well, so they all came off without a hitch (except for Facebook class, but I blame Facebook’s ever shifting craziness for most of that). I put the finishing touches on my Steampunk Summer display last night after the Scavenger Hunt and I like the way it turned out. I talked up the teen summer reading program to teens at the local middle and high school and they seem pretty excited about it. All of my hidden books disappeared pretty quickly and coworkers said that kids came in asking about it. (Click the link above for more info about Steampunk Summer).
What am I reading? Still finishing up Fevre Dream by George RR Martin. That books is long–but worth it, as Martin books are.
I just started an ARC that a local author gave me; The Jewel and the Key by Louise Spiegler. She’s a history teacher and also wrote The Amethyst Road. I like it so far, but I find that books set in Seattle unnerve me a bit. Usually they use landmarks I know, but mix up their locations to fit the story. I find myself wanting to look up every location on a map, which is distracting, but not the author’s fault. The first scene of The Jewel and the Key is at Lincoln High School, which is a real place, but has not functioned as it’s own high school for a long time. It is currently being used to house other schools while their school is undergoing renovation. Right now, I think there are two elementary schools using the site. Lincoln is in Wallingford, so every time the character turns a corner, I try to envision where she is. I used to work in that ‘hood and know it fairly well. I’m going to have to let this go to enjoy the story. So far the writing is good and the characters are interesting. More later.
I finished A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan–very contemporary. I liked this book, but I’m not sure I loved it. I felt like I was reading several related short stories that eventually came together in one conclusion. I liked each of these individually–even (or maybe especially) the one done in power point slides–but overall it felt choppy and hard to follow. I did enjoy the characters; meeting each one, discovering their strengths and weaknesses and following them on their journeys. Egan creates a very in depth picture of each of her characters, and they are very interesting.
I am officially going to ALA. I was pretty sure a month ago when I bought my registration and said I would facilitate a panel. I bought my plane tickets this week though, after realizing I missed the inexpensive window. I should say less expensive, because when does flying ever feel inexpensive?
But I am excited to see New Orleans, and the Mister will be joining me, at least for a bit. I am doing a day of volunteering, although I don’t know what my work will be, yet. It could be anything from construction to cataloging. The conference sessions sound good–hopefully that pans out. Sometimes they sound useful and then you get in there and realize that it just isn’t, or that you’ve taken something really similar in the past.
Even more exciting than a bunch of librarians in a convention center? I have a camping trip with the Boy and dad-family the week before. We have a couple spots out at Kalaloch, a place I love. I hope the weather cooperates, but honestly, this spot I will go to in the pouring rain.
Which is what I got to ride home in tonight. I went to the middle school and saw their a production of The Wizard of Oz. It was amazing! Not every note was on key but it was well executed, the acting was top notch and so was the orchestra and singing. It was easy to see that the kids had put their all into the show.
And then I rode my bike home and got soaked. It was so nice earlier today. So far I am meeting my goal of riding every day.
It’s too late (I am too cold and tired) to add what I am reading. Actually, I can just say that I am still reading The Scar by China Mieville. It is a frickin’ long book, but worth every minute. I don’t think I am going to finish during the check out time.
We have a new city librarian. He doesn’t start until mid-August, but he comes with good references.
New Year resolutions should really start in Spring. Spring is when you have the time and energy to take on change and challenge. If you start in January, you are just setting yourself up for failure with those long dark, cold nights.
I have run around Green Lake with not one, but two running partners. I can actually make it all the way around now without stopping or walking. A few years ago I could have rolled out of bed, not having run for months, and done that. But the years are catching up to me and now I have to work up to 3 miles. But I am there and ready to go further.
Also, May is bike to work month and I am team captain of the Paperback Riders! I am riding out early today to go get our identifiers from Cascade. Last year it was a spoke card, the year before a luggage tag. I can’t wait to see what they come up with this year. In preparation for May, I am riding every day that I can now, even when I am not working. By the end of May I should be in great physical shape.
In libraryland, we are interviewing new City Librarian candidates. This week it will be narrowed down to three, then next week all staff are invited to go interview those 3. The session will be facilitated by our interim CL, who is also head of HR. I think she will do a great job. She has proven to be a good listener and I think she will convey what she has heard from staff into her questions. The union also gets to have a couple of facilitated questions thrown in before the general Q and A starts.
I’ll be taking notes, because I am going to facilitate a zine panel at the ALA conference in New Orleans this year. And I think that the Mister is going to be able to come to the conference as well. I am looking forward to seeing the city with him. And just seeing him in general.
What am I reading? Books are letting me down, one way or another, lately. I did like Red Glove by Holly Black, but I was a little appalled at Cassel’s friends. I didn’t really know why they were his friends if they didn’t trust him, and there were scenes where it showed that they didn’t. They were scared of him, but were not the type of characters to stay friends because of fear. It bugged me all the way through the book.
I abandoned Glass Houses because the reader drove me a little crazy. She read like everything was sexy–washing dishes, taking juice out of the fridge, sitting on the couch.
Anna and the French Kiss was ok. I liked most of it, but I hate the clichéd cheating but everything turns out ok in the end. In real life people don’t just forgive that and let you live happily ever after. It is complicated and messy and a lot of the time the new relationship doesn’t work out.
I am home, exhausted and about to start my first day back at work. My flight yesterday was delayed by several hours which I got to spend in the lovely Denver airport. The company was good at least. For the first time in my travels I talked to strangers. We were all traveling to Seattle, which gave us something in common.
A few of the people I met: a photographer family who live in Bremerton and take pictures for the Teamsters Union, they have chickens and are homeschooling their two children; A middle aged man traveling with his wife and daughter who has been assigned overseas but was from the Seattle area, his daughter is interested in attending Western and we chatted about handheld devices–he had a new iPad; A mom traveling to California to meet her best friend’s adopted son–they found him in Africa, he had a congenital heart disease and they gradually got permission to bring him to the states for treatment, then to adopt him. It was a beautiful story. She and I swapped young adult book recommendations. My last chance conversation was on the Link on my way to dad’s to get my car. A lovely young girl was traveling with her father and we discussed how clean Link was compared to her subway back in Mariland, the fireworks and how Independence day celebrates our freedom from the British. Her father mentioned that they were from Hong Kong, which was also a British colony.
By the time I got to Dad’s place it was 10pm–1am on the East Coast–and I was tired. I tried to stay and watch the fireworks they were letting off, but my weary mind realized that traffic was going to be hard to navigate if I waited too much longer. As it was, I caught the end of the professional fireworks display as I drove up I-5. Everyone slowed way down and some people actually pulled over to the side of the freeway to watch. They were amazing.
What I would have blogged if I had reliable internet: The feeling of the union conference got better once the voting for the Secretary/Treasurer was completed. The support for the two candidates was fairly even, although Lee Saunders won by several thousand votes. Danny Donahue was very gracious in his concession and both candidtates reminded everyone that we needed to be united or we wouldn’t accomplish anything. It is rumored that Donahue will be running for president in two years at the convention in California.
I spent a lovely day in New York with my brother. We walked and subwayed all over Manhattan. I got to see the New York Public Library, the 9/11 memorial (what there is so far), the Washington Peace Arch and Central Park. We ended the day at the Pig n’ Whistle, which was a very nice Irish Sports Pub. I will have a picture post up soon.
What am I reading? After a slow week with Fallen, I finally got on to White Cat by Holly Black and the only problem I found with it was that I was done in about 5 hours. I loved the premis–Callan is the only non-magical person in a family of curse workers and organized crime. He finds himself on the roof of his boarding school in his skivvies one night with no explanation how he got there. He is told to go home until he has a doctor’s note that states he will not sleepwalk again and as Callan goes about getting one through a less than legitimate means, he realized there is more going on than simple sleepwalking. Other than some crime and dubious morals, there is no reason why younger teens/tweens couldn’t read it.
I also finished The Red Umbrella by Christina Gonzales. It is the tale of 14 year old Lucia and begins with her charmed life in Cuba. She loves her home and her family, but then Castro comes into power and threatens everything. Her friends turn into revolutionaries, her father is threatened and she sees abuse and death all around her. Lucia’s parents send her and her brother to America to get them out, but cannot come themselves. Lucia and Frankie have to learn English, immerse in a new culture and make new friends, all the while worrying about their parents and whether they will ever be able to return to Cuba. The story is pretty good and a nice option to give to those doing historical fiction reports. It is suitable for all ages and adults would like it as well.
I just started The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson and it is much different than I expected. The first couple of chapters were a chore, but now I am completely sucked in.
I can’t believe I am leaving tonight for Boston. Every time I travel I get a feeling that my plane is going to end up in some strange place instead of where I am supposed to be going. Too many sci-fi action books/movies/tv I guess. I am pretty excited to see Boston and to see my brother when I take a day trip to New York. I have never been to the East coast but a friend was in New York recently on her way to Puerto Rico, so she has given me all kinds of ideas where I need to go. It sounds like my hotel in Boston is in the thick of things, so no problems there.
I have not been a consistent blogger lately and traveling usually makes me worse. I am not taking my laptop with me, since I am flying on United and weather is going to be HOT, allowing me to pack light and only bring carry on. I hate checking bags. My point? Oh! I am bringing my iPod touch and will post updates, but they will be short (which my posts are not, usually). I will regale you with tales of the fun union conference, places I visit, and maybe the score of the Redsox game I am going to on Wednesday. I might say a word or two about the books I am bringing with me, but there won’t be any links, so I will trust you to look them up on your own.
Speaking of books, I think I mentioned that I read For the Win by Cory Doctorow. I didn’t talk about it earlier because there is so much to say. Set just a little bit in the future Cory takes us on a roller coaster journey around several continents to follow gold farmers in different virtual worlds. Mala is a gamer in rural India and at first the extra money that gaming brings in makes up for any hardship that working for the boss might be. Big Sister Nor is from Indonesia and is recruiting for the Webblies (Workers of the World Wide Web) and she contacts people like Mala, trying to recruit them for the union she is building. This book is complicated and compelling. Doctorow takes a few breaks from the amazing story telling to explain how the economy works in the virtual world and the lessons are interesting. I wish I had had him for my economics instructor in college. Here is an example:
“no one is in charge of it [the economy]. Some people may claim to be, but they’re in charge of one tiny piece of it, and maybe they think their piece is a brake or a steering wheel, but they’re wrong. The world’s economy is a runaway train, the driver dead at the switch, the passengers clinging on for dear life as their possessions go flying off freight-cars and out windows, and each curve in the tracks threatens to take it off the rails altogether.” pg 370
What am I reading now? I just started Fallen by Lauren Kate and I haven’t gotten in far enough to say if I like it. The writing is ok, but the story is very vague so far.