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Busy days!  I had a duct tape program yesterday and projects the kids made were just amazing.  We used Stick It for inspiration, which has some great projects and lays everything out in an easy to see way.  I also made a powerpoint with videos from YouTube on the history of duct Tape and how to make a duct tape sheet.  Some day I will remember to try out Prezi for this sort of thing.  As it was, I couldn’t get the sound to come on until I pressed a button on the top of the keyboard (user error).  Oh, and I made this:

What have I been reading?

Hellbent by Cherie Priest  This is the second book in the Cheshire Red Reports series (first book is Bloodshot), which features Raylene, a century old vampire.  She’s a thief for hire but has a soft spot for those who win her over.  So far she has collected a navy seal drag queen, two orphaned children and a blind vampire.  They all live in a brick warehouse in a Pioneer Square area of Seattle.  This episode (because I think this would make an awesome TV series) or perhaps I should say season, has Raylene splitting her attention between finding some magical artifacts and helping her misbegotten family.

This I love about the series:

How well Cherie Priest talks about Seattle.  I didn’t put the book down once to try to figure out how a person got from place A to place B without falling in a large hole.  Usually books set in Seattle bother me with holes in the geography (how does one walk from Wallingford to Capitol Hill in less than an hour?), but I know that’s just me.

Raylene is awesome with her OCD and constant chatter.  She’s a great character and I have come to realize that I am a character person.  Her chatter is all relevant and interesting and helps build the story.  Other characters are less developed because of her dominance, but you get just enough of them keep the flow.

The travel–while the home base is in Seattle, Priest isn’t afraid to take her characters all over the US.  How does a vampire travel?  By car and airplane of course–at night!  That timing can be a little tricky when you have to be in a dark room by the time the sun rises.  There isn’t a lot of sight seeing in some of these trips, but you do get a feel for the location, and certain places are more fleshed out.

There’s a lot of action and adventure in this series.  It won’t let pleasure readers down.  I’ll be recommending this book to adults and teens.  Officially out August 30th.  Bloodshot is available now!

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).

It’s been a busy week.  I have been weeding again at work and decided to use a dusty shelf list for the first time ever.  Some people will find it amazing that I have never used one before, but my other branches were small enough that it made sense to go through every book in my teen collection.  In fact, it made sense for my first big weed here at my new branch, so that I could get to know my collection better.  However, I can now say that it is big and I need to save time.  So I ran a dusty shelf list–anything that hasn’t circ’d in a year–then went through and pulled anything that looked yucky (water damage, food stains, obvious wear and tear).  That did the trick and I am very happy with the results.  Because another thing about a large branch?  When all the kids going back to school bring back all their books at once, suddenly your shelves go from having some wiggle room to blowing off the book ends.  Shelver hell.

I am also on a short term committee to find a good scheduling software.  So, um, if you know of any, please email me.  We just scheduled February and March computer classes, but found out that our grant for job classes has run out.  That’s ok at my branch, as we had pretty low attendance for those, but I am sure it will hurt in other areas.

So how about that Amazon issue on free speech?  All I care about the issue is talked about over here, and since I don’t really want to fan the flames on that one, I will leave it there.

I also had some fun times the last week or so.  I saw Stars at the Showbox.  They are everything I love about music.  Amy’s voice is like an unannoying angel and Torquil counters her sound perfectly.  Like talking heads and…I don’t know.  Just perfect.

And the next day I played Kinect at my brother’s place.  That is a fun system–loved the dance game we played.  Part of the point was to look like an idiot, so I fit right in with everyone ;)  The Boy was with me and he had a good time with it too.  He says he will wait until it has better games before he upgrades, though.

Today I stayed home instead of going on a stellar bike ride with some coworkers (’cause nothing says Veteran’s Day like a long ride…) due to a mishap with a bus tunnel escalator in which the escalator won.  Just an FYI, wet shoes+metal escalator=fly through the air.  My arm took most of the damage when I grabbed the rail to stop my fall.  Should be better in a couple of days.  In the mean time, I felt compelled to up my caloric intake:

On the left are some orange caramels that I made after boiling sugar water for the candied orange peels on the right.  Behind them is the Harvest bread I made from the Macrina Bakery cookbook.  I so hope it is similar to the bread that I scarf every time I go to Top Pot lately.  I cheated a bit with the milk in these recipes.  I didn’t have heavy cream for the caramels, so when I heated my non-fat, I added a tablespoon of butter.  I also didn’t have buttermilk for the bread, so I added 1tbsp of lemon juice per 1 cup of milk.  The caramels are delicious and I can’t tell any difference from the time I made them with cream.

What am I reading? I just started getting galleys from netgalley, because I found out I could read them on my ipod using the Bluefire app.  I find I actually like reading on my iPod, although  I am not sure about buying digital books–mostly because I mostly only buy physical books to give away–but I hear that the library is talking to Bluefire to make an agreement so that ebooks loaned by the library from Overdrive would be able to be transfered the same way.  Crossing my fingers!

The galley I am reading now is The Lying Game by Sara Shepard–the same author as the series Pretty Little Liars.  This book is the story of Emma, a foster kid who is somehow still a sweetie, who just wants to graduate high school and go to college.  That becomes impossible when her foster family’s son decides to frame her for stealing and they inform her that she will be out on her 18th birthday, only 2 weeks into senior year.  Emma thinks things might get better when she finds out she had a twin sister and that she is living close by, adopted by a well off family in Arizona.  She goes to meet this sister, Sutton, only to find herself trapped in a situation where he sister has been murdered and she is forced to pretend to be Sutton, or be murdered herself.  This book is a bit like Lovely Bones, as Sutton is a character in the story, a ghost who is constantly looking over Emma’s shoulder, hoping to find out who is behind her murder.  I am enjoying it so far, although I don’t usually like books with the mean girl element.  Flash backs to middle school, you know.

Of course I loved Behemoth and decided to get both it and Leviathan on CD for our driving trip over the holiday.  My co-worker told me that the reader is amazing, so it seems like a good bet.  Then I can get The Boy hooked on them too.

California was such a nice interlude.  I spent a wonderful evening at the Davis farmer’s market, drinking wine and hanging out with friends.  We visited Emeryville and another friend whom I hadn’t seen for a while, wandered another farmer’s market (where I may have found a cure for my acne–I have to give it another week to make sure), took pictures on her deck with a beautiful view of the water and met her wonderful new husband for the first time.

It was so nice to spend time with my best friend.  I haven’t seen her for months and well…she was in medical school, so in a way it’s like I haven’t seen her for years.  She took all 3 days off that I was there and we had a wonderful time together.  We wandered, we gazed, we shopped, we jumped in the cold pool after a hot day.  It was super.

Coming back to Libraryland was hard after 3 such spectacular days off.  The weather here in Seattle has been very nice, which has helped.  I have been riding my bike as often as possible, practicing my zen meditation to try not to be annoyed with the Green Lake riders and drivers.  My second Teen Advisory meeting went very well, as did my first school visit this academic year.  I went to a meeting to go over the strategic plan that is being developed, and that actually left me optimistic about the future of our library system.

What am I reading? I finished Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier, which is one of the books I picked up because I didn’t have anything interesting come in and I found it wonderful.  There is so much going on in this book and it all comes down to the main character, Dimple, figuring herself out.  At the end of Junior year, Dimple is a ABCD (American Born Confused Desi) who has a best friend who is blonde, beautiful and enigmatic.  Dimple would do anything to have her self confidence and poise.  As the summer goes on, she loses her friend for a while, but she finds herself.  Finally embracing both sides of her American and East Indian heritage and culture.  A very good add to your reader’s advisory list, almost everyone will feel some sort of affinity with the characters.

Now I am working on Will Grayson Will Grayson by a couple of my favorite (somewhat) reality fiction authors, John Green and David Levithan.  It is different, it is interesting, it is captivating.  More later.

I finished Monsters of Men and I loved it.  So nice to have so many good books right now.  Todd and Viola find themselves separated by necessity and responsibility.  They must stop the war that the Mayor wants badly and keep the Mistresses from making things worse.  Another several shiploads of colonizers are asleep just beyond the atmosphere, adding pressure to end things swiftly, but what is the right thing to do?  There is always more to the conflict than meets the eye and Todd and Viola have to wade through the mess to get to the best answers.  Sorry that all sounds so vague, but if you have read the other two books, you know how involved this story is and how easy it would be for me to give away some part that you should find out for yourself.  Let me just say that this book was just as satisfying as the other two, although I found the ending a little too pat.

Just starting day 3 in Las Vegas and I am feeling refreshed and much less stressed out.  On Monday after I got in we just napped (The Mister was coming off an 18 hour shift that morning), got up and had Thai for dinner at a cute little place nearby, then went back to bed.  On Tuesday we went hiking on the most moderate temperature day we’ve seen.  It was only in the high 80’s, down from 108 the week before.  We went up into Red Rocks Canyon National Conservation Area, spent some time at their visitor’s center and went for a short 3.3 mile hike.  My camera batteries kaputted about 3/4 of the way up the trail, so I missed many photo opportunities.

Today the temp is back up in the high 90’s, probably into the hundreds by the end of the day.  Oh well.  I am not fond of heat, even this dry heat is making my life difficult.  I walked about half a mile to get to Starbucks to use the wifi (I was going to walk to Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, but it is further and I gave up).

I have been reading a lot lately.  Looking back I see that I forgot to follow up on a couple of books.  Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie: My Rotten Life was great fun.  It is definitely a Juvenile book, probably around 3rd grade reading level and content.  As I mentioned, Nathan had a strange substance spilled on him that was supposed to get rid of bad feelings, but instead made him the walking dead.  He and his friends race against the clock to save his life as he knew it.  If he doesn’t have the cure before the deadness finished taking over, he will be un-dead forever.  The ending sets up a series very neatly and boys and girls will enjoy the school settings, popularity contests and unlikely adventures of the three friends.

I finished up Girl with the Dragon Tattoo a while ago, and if you don’t look to far into it, it is an amazing thriller from a masterful storyteller.  However, this book glorifies sadistic rape and murder of women.  The first couple of chapters were a real chore to get through, but the remainder of the book keeps you locked in.  There is a side story about the girl, Lisbeth, of the title that has nothing to do with the rest of the story, but probably will in a later book.  In fact, there are still a lot of questions surrounding Lisbeth at the end of the book.  All to keep us reading, I am sure.

Illyria by Elizabeth Hand is beautiful and haunting.  I love this author and have read almost everything she has written and this story contains all the things that draw me to her writing.  The characters are intriguing and bright, the setting is mysterious and alluring, the story is wandering, yet direct.  If you have read Winterlong, you should read this.  If you haven’t, then you should read both…

I finished The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall on Monday–I started it on the plane and finished while The Mister was napping.  This is a sweet story of a family of four sisters and a father who spend a summer holiday at a cottage that butts up against magnificent gardens owned by a rather stuffy woman.  The woman has a son, who embodies the characteristics we all wish our sons had, as do the girls, for all their eccentricities and mischievousness.  The girls tend to get in trouble, the boy is ruled by his pushy mother and the three weeks at the cottage become both heaven and hell for all the children.  Of course it all comes out all right in the end.  A great book for young readers, 2-5 grade, both boys and girls.

Do I sound excited?  I actually am despite my sarcastic tone, since I get to go visit the Mister in Las Vegas and I haven’t seen him in 2 months.  Sigh.  And the furlough doesn’t hurt as much because the system figured out the percentages and took a portion from each paycheck rather than one big divot in our regular pay.   Next year won’t be so cushy.

Vegas is spendy!  Most of my time will be spent pretty domestically, hanging out with my sweetie at his apartment, hiking, grocery shopping.  The usual.  The planets have aligned though for the labor day weekend, when several of my friends and my sister are going to meet me there to have some fun.  We are probably going to see Love at the Mirage and I would really like to go to Rain at the Palms to see Paul Oakenfold, but the price and the wait to get in might keep my friends from braving it with me.

What am I reading? I finished my review book for Teen Services, The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood with the Duchess of Northumberland.  Well, it reminded me of the many retellings of fairy tales we have seen in the last 5 years, except that it is an original story as far as I can tell.  The setting is beautifully constructed and the characters are both likeable and hateable, as they should be, but I couldn’t make myself care.  It felt like one too many of the same sort of story.  Girl loves boy, boy loves her back, they are torn apart by evil, evil is defeated, but no happy ending for you.  I don’t usually think every story needs to have a happy ending or have all its loose ends tied up, but this one left me hanging.

Point in fact, I loved Tell me a Secret by Holly Cupala.  Miranda is a teenager with problems.  Her sister is dead, her mother is hard to live with and her father rolls over far too easily.  What could make it worse?  Getting pregnant by the first boy you ever have sex with.  It makes the mother impossible, the father avoid coming home and Miranda’s feelings of abandonment so much worse.  Things at school don’t help, where she loses friends and her boyfriend to rumor and speculation, along with her own awkward ways of dealing with her issues.  Miranda is a deep character and Cupala captures the heart and mind of a teenage girl in crisis perfectly.  (I should know, I used to be one ;)  And all the conflict is not tied up in a nice package at the end, but it does give a feeling that the future can be redeemed.

There was a big to do that I pulled off last Sunday.  I didn’t write about it because at the time I wasn’t sure how it would work out.

The Offspring and I, along with various friends, have done the Step Out Walk to Fight Diabetes every year for the last 3 years.  Asking for donations has always been hard for me.  I don’t like asking people for money in general, but this is a cause I believe in and that gives me hope.  Some of you know, The Offspring has type 1 diabetes.  He was diagnosed four years ago and while dealing with becoming a teenager, which is hard enough for most kids, he has also had to learn to deal with pricking and injecting himself 4 times a day.

So, last Sunday I had a dinner party where I charged people to come.  I have a party every summer anyhow, so I upped the quality, did more planning than usual, put some tables out in the yard with actual table cloths and raised about $600 for Step Out.  Out of the 90 people I invited about 25 came, which turned out to be the perfect number.  I donated the food, since I would have had a party anyway, people still brought wine and I put out a tip jar on the beverage table.  I also made a few things and put them out for a silent auction, and the biggest surprise was they all sold.

And we all had a great time.  It was a good mix of people, some from work, some friends and some family.  A few people I had never had over before.  I enjoyed every minute.

And I had a lot of help from The Mister’s mother, who came into town the day before.  She helped keep me on track and motivated and helped with all the preparations.  She came all the way from Spokane to be there.

What a great day!

On Newberry Street in Boston.  El Jope would like this one.

The subway, where I spent a lot of time being unsure if I was heading the right way.

Fenway Park where we saw the Red Sox trounced by Tampa Bay

Boston from the Harbor.

I should have been a good girl and gone to bed an hour ago.  But that is so hard!  I love staying up late, but I hate getting up…well, early is relative…

Today was a day off and mostly I got some chores done and ran a few errands, but then I went out to have dinner on the town with my lovely lady co-workers from the past.  We went to Odd Fellows Cafe and I had mac n cheese and french fries.  The place was ok, but I felt both the food and the service could be better.  Luckily the company was awesome.  We stopped in at the new Elliot Bay Books after dinner and lots of chatting–it is beautiful and keeps the charm of the Pioneer Square store.  We ran into a library school friend that I don’t think I have seen since library school.  She works a few blocks away and came to see the store on her break.  After that little reunion, we decided to walk a couple extra blocks to try out Old School Frozen Custard on Pike, rather than going to Molly Moons that was just around the corner.  It was a good experience; the custard is smooth and creamy and the topping options were decadent.  (We love Molly Moons too, but go to the one in Wallingford all the time, so we tried something new.)

In my last few posts, I think I managed to gloss right over learning about our new budget cuts. We have to cut $1.5 million in the library system’s budget and our suggestions have to be in by the end of the month.  I don’t see anything in the news to link to (although this blog post has a few details), but I am sure there will be something after cuts are finalized.  We will likely have a second furlough and possibly some materials cuts, but there will be bigger repercussions for next year because it isn’t likely to get any better before 2012.  Bigger as in lay offs and hours reductions.  Patrons won’t like the second one, or the materials cuts, for that matter.  This they will notice–as they have the hours changes in the last few months.  Some have also noticed that faces have changed in various places.  I often get asked if I am new.

I am happy that the mayor is asking for our ideas and this doesn’t seem to be the secretive process it was last year.  Our ideas can be posted anonymously, or we can give our contact info in case someone wants to ask more questions.  We can submit our ideas to the library or to the Mayor’s office, depending on how we feel about our current administration.  I hope this openness continues and that our input receives the respect it deserves.

What am I reading? Finished I Rode a Horse of Milk White Jade and I take back my “it could be any” comment.  The last few chapters were wonderful and set in the Khan’s palace in China.  There were many details about life there and the story became more uplifting.

I also started and finished Primavera by Mary Jane Beaufrand.  I met the author at PLA and she signed Primavera and The River to me.  Her book is a interesting depiction of the Pazzi family’s betrayal of the Medici family in Florence where the youngest daughter of the Pazzi family, Flora, thwarted a plot to assassinate Guiliano and Lorenzo Medici, but only Lorenzo escaped.  The Pazzi family was then persecuted and Flora was forced to hide.

I was right, last week was great and this week is going to be too.  Work is going well.  We have a small but robust start to our computer classes, my volunteers are so efficient I have to find more things for them to do and tomorrow I have a school visit with 2 fellow teen services librarians.  This morning I helped interview for my friend‘s position.  He got a temp job at another branch as a librarian, so we need someone who can do his job for a few months (because nobody can really fill his shoes…).  Participating on the interview team showed me how awful I looked when I was interviewing.  I was always terribly nervous and couldn’t put two thoughts together to save my life.  There was only a little of that with these two, but they still reminded me of my trembling self and I cringed a bit.  I’ve had a few interviews in the last year or two that have gone much better, but I think it really helped that I was miserably sick when I interviewed for the first temp position I got as a librarian.

I worked all weekend but still got out to (the same) friend’s housewarming party.  I really just went to see his table, which he made.  I am always in awe of people who can make useful things that are also pleasant looking.  I also went so I could spill lemonade on his wife’s shoes.  Because that is what you do at a housewarming party, sort of like a christening.  Would anyone else like me to provide this service?  It is free as long as you provide the lemonade.  Oh, and there were lot’s of good people there that I enjoy hanging out with.  That might also have been a motivation.

Wednesday I get to see my WAL peeps.  I miss them all so much.  Some force is trying to keep us apart–we all work different schedules and far across town now.  I am really looking forward to seeing them, I can barely wait (I might even bring my own lemonade … you know, for funsies).

What am I reading? I finished Incarceron.  It was decent, but not phenomenal.  It is a good book to give a teen who has liked Maze Runner or Hunger Games and I have a feeling there will be at least a second book if not a series.

I just started I Rode a Horse of Milk White Jade by Diane Lee Wilson and it is the most uncorrected proof I have ever read.  I think they rushed it to get it out at PLA.  It will be a nice addition to the historical fiction category, set in the 1200’s during Kublai Kahn’s rule, the story follows the adventures of a young girl who was maimed by a horse in infancy and found her fate entwined with theirs.  The story is not that different from a native american one (I feel like you could substitute a few words, names and landmarks and it wouldn’t be distinguishable), but does include vocabulary and cultural references from Mongol history.