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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 guess all I had to do was lament how hard things were getting for them to get easier. I adjusted a few things on my bike and kept riding and it got easier again. I am powering up hills now in much higher gears than I used to, and I ran over 3 miles without stopping after a 3 mile bike ride. The sun definitely helped.
In Libraryland, TAG has been asked to make a video promoting our Summer Reading program for teens. It might be difficult to pull it together in time, but they seem willing. Steampunk Summer! I think the adults will be jealous.
Yesterday was a difficult patron day. Some days I just want to put up an invisible barrier that will bounce out anyone who doesn’t really want me to answer a question, they just want to hear themselves speak. I’ll add it to the list of superhero powers I need to develop.
I got off an hour early to go to the Bike to Work celebration in Ballard, which was so nicely distracting. The ride to Ballard was very satisfying; I felt strong and I passed a ton of people. The weather was still ok and I met up with some good work friends and we finagled some nice swag. I also had Second Ascent take a look at my bike and the guy said that I need to replace all my gears, front and back, and my cables. Only a few hundred dollars. Sigh. Maybe in the fall. I can’t really mess anything up worse by continuing to ride on it and none of it is going to fall apart in the next couple of months. He did fix a snaggle tooth for me, though, so that should help with my chain problem.
I got the Boy last night and he has just been a bundle of depressed hormonal joy. He is grumpy about a girl and doesn’t want to talk about it. Much better to mope and snap and sleep. Ah well, perhaps cleaning the bathroom will distract him!
What am I reading? Well, yes I am still reading The Scar. I am happy to say that I made it to the half way point. I think this is my last day of check out on the ebook, so I’ll have to decide if I am ready for the second half right now. Might be a good book for the plane next week.
I am also reading Paul Pope’s 100%, which is an edgy sci-fi comic. I haven’t quite figured out the story line, but I like that sometimes. I don’t want to be able to guess what is going to happen next all the time.
A friend lent this to me months ago, but somehow it got lost in the bedside table stack and I found it again just 2 nights ago. Fascinating stuff. Strong female characters who don’t have everything figured out (I get a little tired of feminist agendas where you are always supposed to have the right answer).
People in my profession and other bookly professions (editors, publishers, artists, authors, even readers) argue over whether a book should be called a comic or a graphic novel. There is a line in Blood and Chocolate (the movie, not the book) where Vivian refers to Aiden’s books as “comics” and Aiden replies that “they’re not comics, they’re graphic novels,” at which, she shrugs. Her shrug signifies how most people feel about the argument, while Aiden’s declaration shows the prejudices some people have against “comics”–comics are crude funny pages with bleeding color and shallow characters, among others.
My opinion isn’t a strong one. I don’t care for super hero comics, but I do like serials. Some of my favorites are Girl Genius, Unshelved, Questionable Content, Bad Machinery, Diesel Sweeties, Get Fuzzy and xkcd. These are all available on the web, which is a must for me, because otherwise I will never keep up. I do also buy some of these and they often include never before seen panels, which makes it totally worth it. What I consider a graphic novel is a comic that tells a story contained in one book. They can stand alone or be a series. Some examples of these are Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, Blankets by Craig Thompson, I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly, J.M. Ken Niimura (Illustrator), and–ah well, here is a list of the ones I have read in the last couple of years. Don’t judge me too harshly for continuing Buffy through comics. I know they aren’t as good.
What am I reading? As promised, here are some graphic novels that I learned about in a webinar a couple of weeks ago:
How I Made it to Eighteen; A Mostly True Story by Tracy White really struck a chord with me. I have a few people near to me that struggle with some sort of addiction, whether it is drugs, alcohol or eating disorders. This book helped me look at those illnesses from the person experiencing them’s perspective. It made it a little easier to forgive and to stop feeling guilty for not “being there.”
This is a memoir style comic that tells how Stacy Black ended up in a mental hospital to deal with the depression that has been slowly building up in her over the last several years. The situation in the mental hospital reminded me of the movie It’s Kind of a Funny Story–there’s art class, group therapy, individual therapy and stark hospital rooms. The characters have to figure out what is really wrong. Most of them are lying, even to themselves and they can’t get help until they stop. There are interjecting chapters where questions are asked of Stacy’s 4 closest friends that give insight into her illness as well as some into the corners of their own minds.
Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch This one is a much more lighthearted story set in an Orthodox Jewish community where a girl’s future is to get married, take care of the house and have children. Mirka doesn’t deny those ideals, although she does do her best not to learn the lessons her step mother painstakingly tries to teach her. Mirka wants to find a sword and kill a giant. Being attacked by a pig really wasn’t what she’d envisioned for her quest.
Smile by Raina Telgemeier Another Memoir style graphic novel. It begins with Raina in 6th grade, dreading what braces for an overbite will do to her social standing. She races her friend to her front door, but trips and falls on the cement, knocking her one front tooth out and the other up into her gums. Ouch, I cringed at the scene, remembering having my own front tooth broken off when I was in Middle School. It was years of temporary crowns until I could finally get a permanent one at 18. I have pictures from choir of what could happen if I ate a cookie and the cap fell off. Raina has a worse fate–several weeks of painful recovery followed by years of painful and embarrassing orthodontia. This might sound depressing and dull, but the story is bright with coming of age stories, humor and a journey to self actualization.