Sunday, December 28, 2014


I may have gotten distracted this holiday season.

Say hello to the newest member of the family, Kalikimaka.  Her name means "Christmas" in Hawaiian.  She also goes by Kallie, for short.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

What has the Moonlit Librarian been up to?

The other night, I went to a Chinese buffet with some friends.  The fortune cookie I received at the end of the meal read, "Give yourself a day off - at least give yourself a relaxing evening."

Even the fortune cookies know that I need a vacation.

I do tend to drop off the blogging map around November anyway, because of National Novel Writing Month.  I participated again this year, and made it to 50,000 words again.  Maybe I'll do something with my writing this time.  It needs to be finished and edited (possibly entirely rewritten, as it may do better in first-person narrative instead of third-person limited), but I'm keeping my hands off it for now because I'm not feeling much love for it at the moment.

And the calendar year is the end of my fiscal year.

I feel like my previous director position had training wheels on it.  Despite serving a smaller population, it had a larger budget because it actually has a millage to support it.  It was also its own entity.  My current library is a city library (though it also serves a township), and falls under the city budget.  Most of my budget is decided by the whims of the city council, and also, my money doesn't roll over to the next fiscal year.  Spend it or lose it.

I found myself with more money than expected at the end of November.  Oops.  So I had to carefully figure out how to spend it, while knowing that it was probably too late to make an order with our main vendor.  We do most of our ordering through Baker & Taylor, but they have a tendency to take their sweet time sending books to libraries.  For example, Tom Clancy's Full Force and Effect was released December 2.  It came in the mail to the library a couple days ago.  So I didn't want to order from them, because the merchandise might not arrive until after the end of the year, and thus not be part of this fiscal year.

On the bright side, this meant ordering from some small vendors I like, and also buying some local authors' books at my favorite book store.

I've also been very busy with programming at both libraries.  First, I introduced a story time for all ages at the public library.  It's been well-attended, mostly by children between the ages of 2 and 6 years, and their moms.  However, my generic story time has apparently not been good enough for mothers with babies; they have started demanding a baby story time.  I initially tried pointing out that the larger libraries that are only five miles away to the east and west offer them.  "That's too far."  Seriously?

So, I have to create baby story times.  This has had me in a panic, and even given me honest-to-goodness nightmares.  I like to say that I enjoy children as long as they're potty-trained and literate.  But also, in doing research into baby programming and early literacy, I've discovered just how important not only reading to infants but also talking, singing, and playing is to their future literacy.  I feel like I need an early childhood development degree to do this!  No pressure or anything, to create quality programming.

Something that I can be proud of myself for, at least, is how I've stepped up my teaching at the school library.  There are a couple of classes that I've started focusing on, for two reasons.  One, they are at a good age to learn how to use a library and develop lifelong skills in navigating a library and performing research.  Two, these classes drive me insane and tend to leave the library looking as though a tornado struck.  If you teach them, you can direct them toward correct behavior.

I found a Dewey Decimal Bingo game online, and adapted it to an appropriate reading level.  Made it a bit more generic (590 for wild animals, rather than 599.774 for foxes, for example), and included pictures of books actually in the library.  I've been playing it with these classes for the past two weeks, and they love it.  I'm also seeing them check out books from the subject areas highlighted in the game.  It's awesome.

I do intend to use the next two, slower weeks to catch up on some reviews.  My partner will be out of town, and I do have the days of the actual holidays off.  Maybe I can actually heed the fortune cookie and relax.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Second annual U.P. Authors Day at the mall

The second annual U.P. Authors Day & Book Fair was held last weekend at the Westwood Mall in Marquette.  It was organized by members of the Upper Peninsula Publishers and Authors Association (UPPAA) in coordination with the Westwood Mall.  (For more information directly from the UPPAA, visit their web page.)

I had attended the one held last year, and had a great time.  The second annual event was greatly anticipated, especially when the UPPAA decided to hold it later in the year.  This time, as soon as I heard about it, I printed off flyers - one for the library, and one for myself to use as a shopping list.

Once again, my wallet and checkbook left the mall considerably lighter, and my boyfriend had a box-load of books to carry to the car.  Much thanks to all the authors who participated; it was good to see all of you.  Special thanks to Tyler Tichelaar for the box, the extra book for the school library, and all your hard work.  Also, special thanks to Mary T. Kremer for her book donation.

Many of the authors in attendance this time were not at last year's event.  Quite a few are self-published through Globe Printing in Ishpeming or are published through small presses.  As with last year, I will do my best to offer where these books can be obtained.

I even bought a book for myself.  Gasp.
Murder in Michigan's Upper Peninsula by Sonny Longtine; available through The History Press Bookstore

This book was donated for my public library.
Atonement in Avalon by Mary T. Kremer; available from Aonian Press

Children's books for the school library
Chogan and the Gray Wolf, Chogan and the White Feather, and Chogan and the Sioux Warrior, all by Larry Buege (his web site with additional resources)

Other books for the school library

My Marquette, a nonfiction book, and Spirit of the North, a paranormal romance, by Tyler Tichelaar (his web site, where you can find his hefty collection of books)

Nonfiction for the public library
 Deer Hunting, 4th edition by Richard P. Smith; published by Stackpole Books
The Book: Why the First Books of the Bible Were Written and Who They Were Written For by Allen Wright, which is being picked up by a large publisher soon - congratulations!  (currently available through iUniverse)

A writing collection
The Bay Prospector: Writings from Superior's South Shore, edited by Dean Weiger.  This was printed by the "Copper Country Intermediate School District under the auspices of the L'Anse-Baraga Community Schools" in 1991.  I honestly don't know where you can find it, beyond events like this.  :(

Bad Policy and Cabin Fever by James M. Jackson (his web site)

Not to be confused with Nevada
Page One: Whiteout by Nancy Barr; available from Arbutus Press (web site does not offer sale options, but you can find Nancy's books on major distributor sites and book stores)

A thriller
The Point by G. Nykanen; available in at least ebook format through The Independent Author Network

Bookmarks are good marketing.
I already have 1914 by Charles B. Smith at the library, but it really started circulating when he brought in a poster and bookmarks.  I begged some more bookmarks off him at the event.  (His web site.)

And finally, some swag!
It's interesting what you can get at events like this for marketing.  There are bookmarks, business cards, the Drummond Island Digest, resources to go with Larry Buege's books, and a little caution sign about zombies on a necklace (for G. Nykanen's upcoming book).

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The ignored Banned Books Week

Over the years, I've had a variety of experiences during and responses to Banned Books Week.  Last year went amazingly well and generated a lot of interest, mostly to the positive.  (Though a particularly colorful patron saw the note that Scarlett behaves immorally on the cover of Gone with the Wind, and gleefully announced to the library that "She's a slut!" before my staff ushered him out.)  Another year, I had a presentation backfire when I discussed The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and its challenges in history with a middle school class that was reading the book; they decided that it should be banned.  And then there was the time I made a display in the school library, and a few books, including 1984, walked off and were never seen again.  Hopefully the students that pilfered them enjoyed the reads?

Then there was this year.  The public library has a display case, which I filled with information and fiery images.

Prior to Banned Books Week, "It's Perfectly Normal" was kept in the staff room, available only upon request.
Side view of the first sign.
I shared plenty of data.
Side view of "It's Perfectly Normal" and information.
I also made a display of banned and challenged books in the YA and children's sections.
YA books
Children's books
How many people showed interest in these displays?

One staff member, my new clerk, who eagerly read through the material and found it all interesting (including how many have been made into movies).

Not one patron said anything or took note of the displays.  No one gave the case so much as a glance, despite its prominent position between the new releases and circulation desk.

Honestly, it's a little hard not to take it personally.  I love Banned Books Week a lot.  I put a lot of effort into research, planning, and implementation.  It's also difficult to not give in to grumbling about the sorts of people that don't care about censorship.  But really, this library serves a fairly older population, that just likes a quiet library to browse at and check out print books.  This sort of display attracts far more attention in a high poverty, rural, anti-government setting, like my previous library.  Different demographics want different things.

So, to put a positive spin on my ignored Banned Books Week, this was a learning experience.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Banned Books Week: What My Mother Doesn't Know

It's that week I get most excited for, Banned Books Week!  I know, I'm such a library geek.  But I put the most planning into decorating for it, more than for any other "holiday."  I research it, and why books are banned, and what's trending in promoting the freedom to read.  And I do enjoy reading banned books.

As part of Banned Books Week, I always like to review a book that's stirred up particular controversy.  Here are my thoughts on What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones.  It impressively made the Top Ten Banned/Challenges Books List for four nonconsecutive years.

Checkouts: 10 checkouts from my public library (the one I run)
Typical reader: teen and tween girls
Source: My public library

Synopsis: Sophie is a boy-crazy high school freshman.  This is a free-verse account of a few of her romantic flings.

My Goodreads rating: 4 stars

Banned/challenged for (in alphabetical order): nudity, offensive language, sexism, sexual content, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

This book has quite the curriculum vitae when it comes to controversy.  In 2004, it debuted on the Top Ten Banned/Challenged Books List at #6 for offensive language, being sexually explicit, and being unsuited to age group.  In 2005, it was at #7, for sexual content, and being unsuited to age group.  After a few years off, it came back in 2010 to regain #7, for sexism, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group.  In 2011, it was #8, for nudity, offensive language, and being sexually explicit.  Wow.

Between the repeat infamy and the title ("Ooo, it sounds scandalous!"), I was expecting something pretty salacious.

... It isn't.

Really, it's one of the sweetest books about teenage romance that I've read.  Granted, I don't read many.  (And when I do, they tend to be angst-filled coming-out GLBT novels with plenty of heartbreak.)  Sophie is boy-crazy and knows it.  But she's a romantic, a serial-monogamist, with some sense in her hormone-addled head, giving her the ability to move on when a relationship is ending and defy peer pressure in certain instances.  No spoilers, but the hints leading to, and the actual, third romance are pretty "aw"-inspiring.

What could be wrong with this book?  (Beware of sass.)

Nudity.  There's a scene where Sophie and her girlfriends go out for a bite to eat in trenchcoats and smiles.  No one sees that they're not wearing anything underneath.  It's their little secret.  A goofy bit of fun.  (And really, unless it's illustrated, how the heck does one criticize a book for having nudity?)

Offensive language.  Sophie is Jewish, and in one instance, a rude man refers to her and her mother using a derogatory word beginning with a K.  Certainly, that's something to get a reader upset over, because they'll otherwise never hear derogatory racial/ethnic slurs.

Sexism.  I don't know.  Maybe when Sophie gets groped by a random boy after a dance, and he comments to his friends that her breasts are real?  Speaking of that scene, Sophie handled it excellently, defending herself and chasing the boys away.

Sexual content.  Sophie discusses getting her period, and tries to buy feminine products.  It's as bad as Are You There, God?  It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume.  Oh.  Right.  That's been banned and challenged over the years, too.  We certainly can't have girls reading about other girls dealing with menstruation.  They might have been as in-the-dark as Sophie was, without instruction from her mother, and they might learn something from a book like this or the one by Judy Blume.

Sexually explicit.  Certainly, there must have been some eye-widening scenes in this book, for it to be challenged so often for this offense.  But what I found was mostly kissing.  Oh, no, the horror.  How dare teens kiss.  They're supposed to wait until after their Sweet Sixteen.

In sum, this book with the eyebrow-raising title has gotten a lot of undue criticism, in my opinion.  It's a mostly harmless book about a boy-crazy high school girl.  This novel is just a lightning rod that attracts storms from people who are overly protective of girls, and don't want them knowing about anything that can and does impact their lives during puberty.  Get over it.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Yay for YA: Sisters' Fate by Jessica Spotswood

It's probably worth repeating something I said earlier this year in another YA review: I don't typically indulge in reading to completion.  So when I actually do finish a trilogy, you can bet that the author impressed me enough that I felt it worth my time to see it through to the end.

There was no way I was going to let Sisters' Fate, the third and final book in the Cahill Witch Chronicles trilogy by Jessica Spotswood, slip by me.  That twist at the end of the second book!  Oh, my word!  I actually squawked when I read what happened, and wanted to throw something at the perpetrating character.  So, I just had to know how things resolved in this book.

Not to mention, does the prophecy that one of the three sisters kills another come true?  Or can fate be changed?

(For my review of the first book, Born Wicked, click here.)

Checkouts: The book is new to the school library; the series surprisingly hasn't been checked out at all.  I need to talk it up more, apparently.
Typical reader: Teen girls looking for paranormal romance
Source: Snowbound Books

Synopsis: As a fever ravages the city of New London, Cate must deal with what happened at the end of Star Cursed, the prophecy and what it could mean, her little sister Tess's own prophecies, her middle sister Maura's conniving ways, and regaining Finn's trust.

My Goodreads rating: 5 stars

First, I must comment on the cover art.  It's an improvement over the first book's hardcover printing, where Cate (presumably) looks all come-hither and wonton.  The paperback edition of the first book, and the printings of the subsequent books, fit the stories much better.  The three girls on this cover look like they could be Maura, Cate, and Tess.

On to the book itself.  It was everything I wanted, and more.  The end of the trilogy answered questions, left a few tasty dangling threads, and overall satisfied me.  There's also a tremendous climax - multi-tiered, even - that is action-packed and far-reaching.

What I loved most about this book is that while there's romance, it surpasses what is the norm in teen literature.  Cate benefits from her beau, but does not rely on him.  He's a support, not a crutch.  She can love, without being codependent.  This is absolutely marvelous, and well-written.  We need more strong females in YA fiction like her!  Really, many of us could learn a bit from Cate.

I look forward to more of Ms. Spotswood's works in the future.  (Also, thank you for the bookmarks.)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Guilty Pleasures: The Clockwork Dagger, by Beth Cato

The book I'd like to tell you about today comes out tomorrow (Tuesday, Sept. 16).  I read the ARC two months ago.  Oops!  Not to say I've been busy or anything.

Here's my review of The Clockwork Dagger by Beth Cato.

Checkouts: Comes out tomorrow - none!  Having copies on the shelf before the release date is unethical, if not illegal.
Typical reader: Fans of steampunk, perhaps particularly the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger (I actually agree with a read-alike on the back cover of an ARC, for once)
Source: Advanced reading copy, courtesy of Snowbound Books

Synopsis: Trained as a medician (medical magician, if you will), Octavia Leander sets off into the world to take her first job in a rural town.  But there is much intrigue and adventure to be had on her journey by airship.

My Goodreads rating: 5 stars

I fell in love with this book within the first dozen pages.  This is no small feat, but I was extremely impressed.  In that short amount of text, I learned more about the protagonist, why we should like her, how magic works, and the world she lives in than in some entire books.

And the book kept my love throughout.  This is one that I resisted finishing as long as I could, to savor it longer.  It depressed me at the end to know that I was reading an ARC, and I would have to wait even longer for the sequel (and it sounds like there will be one!)

How did I adore this book?  Let me count the ways.
  • It has a plucky, unique heroine with a well-rounded support cast.
  • The magic is unlike any other I've read about, coming closest to a cross between a Dragonlance mystic and a druid with a penchant for healing.
  • It's an interracial romance!  How common is that?!  For all the diversity in romance in literature, you'd forget that Loving v. Virginia made it legal in the U.S nearly 50 years ago.  Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell gets a lot of its attention because it's a love story between an overweight redhead girl and a half-Korean boy.  I'd honestly like to see more books like these.
  • Speaking of the romance, it isn't overbearing.  And in a Victorian-style steampunk setting, that's to be expected.  Flirting and wooing is very cordial.
  • The plot has plenty of twists, turns, and intrigue.
  • The worldbuilding is exquisite.  It has a Dickensian feel, particularly in the cities.  There wasn't much interaction between Octavia and the poor, but one particular scene made me sit back and say, "Whoa."  Outside the cities, the author has constructed an interesting, different world with a mixture of magic and mechanisms, spirituality and science.
Go out tomorrow and buy this book.  It could well be the best fiction I read all year.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Why can't I write Dragon Con off as a business trip?

This was my second excursion to Dragon Con in Atlanta, Georgia, and both times, I have asked myself, "Why is this not a business trip?"

Perhaps it's because of the Kilt Blowing.
But seriously.  I always learn so much that is relevant to library science at Dragon Con.  Last time I attended, in 2009, was a few months after I went sent by my job to Computers in Libraries.  In all honesty, I learned more at the sci-fi/fantasy geeky convention than the business one.  I even took better notes at Dragon Con.  :P  In my combination notebook/autograph book, I have scribblings from such things as, "YA Lit Track - Religious Themes in YA" (2009), "YA Lit Track - Faeries and Fairy Tales" (2009), "High Fantasy in YA" (2014), "Fantasy Lit Track - Fantasy for Gamers" (2014), and "Writers' Track - Writing for the GLBT Market" (2014).  Valuable information?  Heck yes.

My library science degree, and continuing education, has covered such matters as copyright.  There was a panel on Copyright 101 at Dragon Con, which was an excellent refresher for me and an enlightenment for others.

Need to know about the publishing industry?  My partner and I found out so much from the various panels we attended - things that weren't covered in his college writing classes, even at the master's level.  I even learned a lot about small presses (strangely, in the "Writing for the GLBT Market" panel).

How can you help aspiring writers research science to make their science fiction realistic?  Thanks to the YA Lit Track panel about "Writing Science in Science Fiction YA," I can tell you that if you research leading experts, you can then try contacting them via Twitter.  Many scientists would love to talk to writers about their passions.

And, of course, I got to meet authors.

L-R: Jonathan Maberry, Faith Hunter, Alex Hughes, Susan Griffith, Clay Griffith
For the most part, the authors I met were so amazing.  I managed to talk to Jonathan Maberry before a panel, and have him sign some books for my libraries, and he knew who I was.  Squee!  (Thank you, sir, that means a lot.)  Stephanie Perkins is sweet.  Chelsea Quinn Yarbro is regal.  Todd McCaffrey is jovial.  And Laura Hickman rocks my world - did you know that she A) introduced her husband and fellow author Tracy Hickman to D&D, or B) she introduced story to the D&D modules?  Inspirational!

And the author-librarian relationship is symbiotic.  I love meeting authors, and most of them love meeting librarians.  I took to jokingly calling my autograph book my shopping list.

Todd McCaffrey said it succinctly.
Janny Wurts' note was touching.
If you get to go to Dragon Con, you might not be able to call it a business trip, but it's certainly worth it.

Bonus picture: Janny Wurts plays the bagpipes and leads the parade.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

To Dragon Con!

My partner and I are off to Dragon Con in Atlanta for the long weekend!  I intend to meet some awesome authors, such as Jonathan Maberry and Jim Butcher.  If I am able, I will post pictures while there.  If not, there will be some when I return home.  ... Just in time for the school year to start.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Moonlit guide to some vendors - freebies in the 200s

As a small town library director, I have to look at ways to save money on materials.  Really, it's something every librarian with a budget must do.  Regardless of how big a library you work in, no matter how good the millage is (if you have one), there will always be a lack of money to buy everything you need or want.

Where can you get the best bang for your buck?  Who is giving out freebies that you can't resist - and which free books should you just quietly stick in your book sale or free bin?

Let's start off with the freebies first.

Bridge Publications, Inc.
Types of materials offered: All of L. Ron Hubbard's nonfiction materials, in print, audio, and visual formats

L. Ron Hubbard was a prolific, influential science fiction writer, who also founded the most recent major religion, Scientology.  Regardless of what one might think of that religion, any well-rounded public library should have at least Hubbard's basic works on Dianetics.

If the library somehow does not have this or his other works, you're in luck.  Without any prompting, Bridge Publications will just send random materials to libraries.

On the other hand, the library is also likely to receive some of Hubbard's lesser known works.  Last month, my public library received two copies of Clear Body, Clear Mind.  The accompanying letter even included a suggested Dewey Decimal Classification, how nice.  I brought a copy home to peruse it before deciding what to do with it.  My partner read through it in a matter of hours, mostly chuckling at it.  But in the end, this book is no laughing matter.

The levels of niacin Hubbard recommends you take would kill you in a horrible way.  That's ironic, seeing as this book is about removing toxins from the body.

This is one gift horse I will look in the mouth.  The books are set aside for the book sale.

Quest Books
Types of materials offered: World religions, philosophy, science, and more

Quest Books is an imprint of the Theosophical Publishing House, part of the Theosophical Society of America.  This might also raise some eyebrows, but Quest Books looks to promote the study of world religions, philosophy, science, the arts, and more.

A few weeks ago, I received a four-page catalog from the publisher, offering up to 30 books free, of my choice, with the only cost being postage to mail the catalog back.  I checked the interlibrary catalog system to see if other libraries owned some of these works (several do), then went online to see if there were any negative reviews of the company and this service (nothing found in a cursory search), and how well the books did in reviews.  Then I selected 15 books - I didn't want to be greedy - then copied the flier and mailed the original back to the company.

Taking that bit of time was totally worth it.  A few days ago, I received a large, heavy box from Quest Books.  It was filled with all fifteen books, no surprise invoice, and even dust jacket covers for the hardcovers.  Thrilling!

I feel like I filled some gaps in the collection with quality materials, which cost the library no more than a postage stamp.  Take a look below.  We didn't have any biographies of the Beatles, gasp!  (I'm no fan, but I recognize their importance.)  This doubled our materials on post-traumatic stress disorder.  And new materials on New Age are always welcome.


If you receive an offer from Quest Books, take it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Autographed books in libraries

I'd like to give you, my dear readers, some food for thought for the day.  Please weigh in with your thoughts and experiences on the subject.

I love getting books autographed by their authors, to place in my libraries.  I've never given it a second thought, until now.  Patrons are often thrilled to see the authors' scrawl on the title page.  It doesn't matter the age of the reader.  Young and old alike are excited to see that the writer took the time to put their John Hancock on the pages of this particular book, often with a note specific to the patrons of whichever library it's at.

Now, as you may know, I'm going to Dragon Con in less than two weeks.  (Squee!)  One of the authors who will be there is Jim Butcher, author of the Dresden Files series.  I want to get his autograph, of course, but I also interlibrary loaned Storm Front, the first in the series, so I know a bit and don't have to be a total doofus when I get to meet him.  After receiving the book, I emailed its home library's director to get permission to have it autographed.  The reply surprised me.

"I am afraid it would get stolen. Sad world we live in."

That's something I've never considered.  Yes, library books get stolen all the time, or they simply don't get returned.  Does having the author's signature in it make it more susceptible to theft?

After a quick check of my records from the school library, my experience tells me "no."  There are currently three books signed by an author that have not been returned.  Out of probably 40-50 autographed copies.  Not bad.  Probably about on par with the rest of the collection.

How about at your library?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Yay for YA: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

Do you read books that people swear you'll like?  Do you like the suggested books?  Or do you feel like the person had no clue what you actually like?

Dana at Snowbound Books has been recommending the following book to me for several years now, practically since it was published.  And Dana is a pretty good judge of what people could like to read; it's her job as a store owner, and she and I used to work together, so she does know my tastes.  I finally purchased it for the public library, and read it before cataloging it.  Did it live up to her hype?

Checkouts: New to the public library
Typical reader: Fans of teen urban fantasy, teens looking for something edgy, fans of ALA award winners and finalists
Source: Snowbound Books

Synopsis: Sam LaCroix, a college dropout working at a burger joint, is surprised to learn that he is a necromancer.  And that he has enemies because of this.

My Goodreads rating: 3 stars (3.5, rounded down)

Let's talk about what young adult literature is.  I took a class on it, back in my master's program.  And from that, I can tell you: everyone has a different definition of it.  It depends on the definition of "young adult."  Are young adults just teens?  Should college students be included?  Can it extend all the way through the 20s, especially considering how many 20-somethings are still in school, still living at home, still unemployed or minimally employed?  Can we judge it based on what the American Library Association awards in the young adult categories?

If we work with a strict definition of "young adult literature is for teens, under 18," I wouldn't call it YA lit.  The protagonist is a college dropout.  There are also elements to the book that would make me hesitate to hand it to immature high school students.  If they pick it up on their own, fine, it's their business and their parents' or guardians'.  I'm not one to censor.  But would I put this in a school library?  No.  Would I shelve it in a teen section?  *squirm*  Eh ...

On the other hand, ALA committees liked it and called it YA.  Hold Me Closer, Necromancer was a finalist for the 2011 William C. Morris Debut Award, which is for a new author's first book in the YA realm.  It was also on the YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) Best Fiction for Young Adults top ten list for 2011.

I also don't think it would appeal to typical adult readers.  If your library has a "new adult" section, perhaps this book should be there.  It's probably the best place possible.  If not, YA works.

What did I actually think of the book?  I suppose you are here for the review.

I greatly enjoyed the character development.  Learning about Sam's background, which had many secrets and tantalizing revelations, captivated my interests.  Characters are well-rounded, intriguing, and quirky.  And the back of the book is amusingly vague, almost misleading, about his "undead friend" and "hot werewolf girl."  Surprises can be fun, particularly in this book.  I thoroughly enjoyed finding out all of what James was.

The plot ... it was an interesting twist on coming-of-age and finding one's place in life, certainly.  But if you read a lot of this sort of genre, it blends in and is unremarkable.  It suffers from a problem that gamers familiar with the Old World of Darkness settings would understand: The trope that everyone is actually supernatural, and the last human just became a hunter.  Yawn.  A bit of normalcy would have been exciting, if you get where I'm coming from.

That said, I did enjoy it overall.  I could find myself reading the sequel, because there is a curious thread left hanging.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Now on Facebook

Thanks to my previous post, and a Magpie Librarian living up to her moniker, I had an incredible amount of hits in the past day.  Thank you, everyone who stopped by to read about my experience with sexual harassment in my library.

With this momentum, I am hoping to take my blog to the next level.  As such, you can now like this blog via Facebook.  You can find it at  I am very excited.

Please stay tuned for book reviews, interactions with local authors, and my opinions on some vendors.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Never proposition your potential employer.

Sexual harassment in libraries has been a bit of a trending topic, ever since the American Library Association had its annual conference in Las Vegas.  Apparently attendees were not on their best behavior, which even included a speaker at the conference.  Another blogging librarian, Magpie Librarian, ran an online survey afterward to bring awareness to what a problem sexual and other forms of harassment are at conferences.  Check out her results.  The stories are interesting.

I was not at the conference.  But that doesn't mean I cannot contribute to the online discussion of how librarians get harassed while on the job.

A little over a month into my current job as director of a small-town library, my evening/weekend circulation clerk resigned.  Therefore, the job had to be posted, and applications started pouring in.

One day, I helped an older man print off some PDF forms from his email.  (This is an extremely routine thing, ever since emails started offering previews - which you cannot actually print from - of documents within the email screen.  Whoever designed the email clients to do that, be it Gmail or Yahoo or whatever - that was an incredibly bad idea.  It is the bane of library staff everywhere.)  Afterward, we were making small talk.  As is pretty typical, he asked about my background in libraries.  It came up that he had been part of his high school's library club way back in the day, and he helped the school librarian by shelving books.  I asked if he would be interested in applying for our opening, and when he showed interest, I handed him an application.  No big deal.

Until the next day.

He came back to the library, application in hand.  I was going to direct him to hand it in next door, at the billing office, when he started talking.
"I am going to hand this in, but if you interview me, I have to be able to ask you out."  Or something to that effect.
I leaned back, away from him, and said, "I have a boyfriend."
That did not dissuade him.  In fact, he continued on, that my boyfriend didn't have to know.
At one point, he even touched my left hand and made a comment about my lack of rings, and that I was still available.
I shot back, "Give me a month."
"Blues Fest?"
"No, Dragon Con in Atlanta."
(I really hope we can find something small, round, and shiny at the vendors there.  Heh.)

Obviously, I will not be interviewing this man.  There are plenty of other applicants, including one with actual library employment experience.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Yay for YA: The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green

I haven't written in a couple weeks, despite having books to review.  I apologize.  It's because my review is of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, which has been hugely popular and made into a movie.  That's very stressful, reviewing something familiar to the masses and something that could draw viewers to this blog.

But without further ado:

Checkouts: New to both libraries
Typical reader: People curious about the hype/movie; fans of John Green
Source: Snowbound Books for the public library's copy; Scholastic for the school's

Synopsis: Hazel is a teen with terminal cancer.  At her support group, she meets Augustus Waters, who shakes up her existence.

My Goodreads rating: 4 stars

There are two reasons a teen book becomes immensely popular: either it's so horrible that it's incredibly accessible, or it's amazingly good, yet can have widespread appeal.  John Green, thankfully, is a good writer, and can hit nerves with many readers.  Overall, The Fault in Our Stars is a worthwhile book.

I enjoyed the fact that this book used its fictional bits and put them out into the real world.  You can find Hazel's favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, on Goodreads, which thrilled me.  Or ... at least it was on there while I was reading the book.  Alas, the link is now broken.

I also liked that the ending was not what I predicted.  It could matched a foreshadowing in An Imperial Affliction.  That would have been a little cliche, which this book is not beyond doing.  I knew a particular character's fate as soon as he was introduced.  Good heavens.  But some things did go past what I expected, and I was grateful for that.

The author, Peter Van Houten, is a great conversational piece, because he's such a jerk.  At least once while reading this, I put the book down, went to my partner (a budding author), and said, "Honey, don't ever be like this guy."  While Hazel and friends were engaging, Van Houten evoked the most emotions.

Fans of John Green's other books and interesting characters will delight in how quirky Augustus is.

This is a good, though not mind-blowing, book.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Yay for YA: Promise Bound, by Anne Greenwood Brown

I am never quite comfortable with reviewing sequels.  If you've been reading my reviews for a while, you likely know I don't give spoilers, and do not appreciate spoilers.  Thus, to review something in a series after the first book is a bit difficult.  You either have to paint broad strokes about it and drop hints, or just say what happened in previous installments.

On the other hand, when I take the time to actually read through an entire series, I would like to give props to the author, because I don't typically indulge in reading to completion.  In this line of work, one needs to have a vast knowledge of what can be recommended to patrons, which does not bode well to moving beyond the first book of anything.

So, let me tell you about Promise Bound, the third in the Lies Beneath trilogy by Anne Greenwood Brown.  I'll also briefly touch on the second book, Deep Betrayal, as I read it while on hiatus.

Checkouts (series): 4 at the school library
Typical reader: Fans of the series
Source: Snowbound Books

Synopsis, Deep Betrayal: Told from Lily's perspective.  After graduating from high school, Lily returns to the lake to find Calder and her father spending too much time together, thanks to the events of the first book.  And someone - or something - is killing tourists and locals alike on the lake.

My Goodreads rating: 4 stars

Synopsis, Promise Bound: The chapters alternate between Lily and Calder's perspectives, plus additional voices near the end.  There are a lot of things going on in this one, with Lily dreaming of being Nadia, her grandmother (and Calder's adoptive mother), Calder's sisters vying for control, a mermaid's baby, and old promises that must be kept.  Will all the turmoil tear Lily and Calder apart?

My Goodreads rating: 4 stars

Deep Betrayal pleased me.  Lily's voice was perfect in this book.  It was just as I would have imagined it.  The lore in this rendering of the world was explored more.  The thriller elements of the book stayed fresh and gripping.

Promise Bound had a lot going on, yet it also felt like a finisher for the trilogy.  It didn't really add to the experience, but wrapped things up - including elements added in this book.  There were a couple of points I want to address in it, though.

1. The plot twist halfway through the book.  Initially, I was shocked by what seemed like an odd, out of left field, crazy plot twist.  Lily makes Calder promise to do something that he doesn't want to or feel the need to do - but promising compels merfolk in this world, so then he has to.  It flummoxed me.  But I came to terms with it.  It did fit, somewhat.  While it was rash and impulsive, Lily is a teenager, and teens (perhaps especially Lily) can certainly be rash and impulsive.

2. I have a much harder time with the character of Chelsea.  Calder meets her at the reference desk of (a branch of) the Thunder Bay Public Library.  She should not exist.  Harsh, yes.  But what library lets high school students work the reference desk?!  You don't find that at a small town's reference desk, much less in a city of more than 150,000 residents.  She could have been a college student and I would have bought it.  But not a high school student.
And then what the heck is up with her not only giving Calder the addresses, let alone driving him to the addresses, of patrons?  It wasn't even as though he had used his powers on her.  She just up and violated patron confidentiality to an extreme.  I had a little conniption fit over that.

But, overall, I enjoyed this series.  It was a fresh, different take on merfolk, and offered elements of other genres beyond paranormal romance.  The protagonists were interesting, as was the world-building and lore.  And I appreciated the setting - not quite Michigan, sure, but Lake Superior is visible from my apartment.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy books. Same difference, right?

As promised in the last post, I will now share what I bought for just under $200 at the local bookstore.

If you are a librarian with a small budget, it is very important to have a good relationship with your local bookseller, especially if he or she carries used books and gives discounts to libraries.  I am especially blessed by Snowbound Books, particularly because I worked there while pursuing my MLIS.  The people there don't cut my any extra-special deals - I get 20% off books I'm buying for either of my libraries, but do have to pay tax if the library isn't directly paying the store for it.  However, they know that if I say the book is going in my library, it will end up in my library.

And so it is with this lot.  Many are used, but some are new.  Some are ones I've read and know are good; others are award-winners or are popular; and still others are gambles.  Let's take a look at what I have to add to the public library's collection.

 For adults
A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
It's a used copy!
Before I bought this, and my partner donated A Feast for Crows, the library somehow did not have any of the series.  Gasp.

For children
Dork Diaries 6 and 7, by Rachel Renee Russell

Diary of a Wimpy Kid 1, 2, 6, and 8, by Jeff Kinney
These fill gaps in the collection.  All are hardcover, which was a must because they get used so heavily.  I did review the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid back in July 2011.

Battle of the Labyrinth by Percy Jackson
Flush by Carl Hiaasen
Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
Calumet Copper Creatures by Johnathan Rand (reviewed Oct. 2012)
More gap-filling goodness.  Maniac Magee was my favorite book as a kid.  I must have read it around 50 times.

For teens/young adults
Rot & Ruin (Reviewed July 2011)
Dust & Decay (Reviewed Nov. 2011)
Flesh & Bone (Reviewed Sept. 2012)
all by Jonathan Maberry
These are paperback, and when the fourth comes out in that format, I'll also get that.  Hopefully in time to go in my suitcase to Dragon Con so I can Mr. Maberry sign these!  Squee!!

Maximum Ride
Books 1 and 2, by James Patterson
$4 apiece, used, before my discount.  And it's James Patterson, that prolific and popular author I've never read anything by.

A little Scott Westerfeld
My middle school boys love this author, especially this series.

Movie books
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Review coming soon)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
People love reading books and seeing the movies.  Granted, they'll never read the books again once the hype dies down (save for Harry Potter), but we must strike while the iron is hot, and actually not rely on interlibrary loans for every hit title.

The Big Empty and Paradise City by J.B. Stephens
These are the first two books in a post-apocalyptic YA series that I haven't heard of.  But, they're used, someone might like them; why not give them a chance?

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (Reviewed Dec. 2011)
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz (Reviewed Sept. 2013)
Looking for Alaska by John Green (Audiobook reviewed Sept. 2012)
These are great books.

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien
The Shade of the Moon by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Burned by Ellen Hopkins (Audiobook reviewed Oct. 2013 with its sequel)
Kiss Me, Kill Me by Lauren Henderson
Here we have a hodge-podge to round out the purchase.  The first is historical, the second post-apocalyptic.  The last two are contemporary.  I think it's a nice mix.

I have read and plan to review The Fault in Our Stars, and as you saw, there are several that I already reviewed.  Are there others in this group you think I should also read and review?

Update: Before I had a chance to catalog these, a donation of Divergent came in.  So, I brought the newly purchased copy back to the store, and Dana let me exchange it for a book of equal value.  I bought Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride.  Dana has been having about that book to me for years, so now I'll finally read it and add it to the library collection.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

How to create a YA section out of thin air

As I previously mentioned, I have quickly moved to create a YA/teen section at the library where I am now the director.  How did I do this?

I asked the system administrator of the library cooperative to generate a report for me that would show me what books of my juvenile fiction collection were held in the YA sections of other libraries within the cooperative.  She is a very magical woman, and was able to do this for me.  From this list, I gathered up all the books, weeded them for age and condition, and put together a section of nearly three hundred books.
Here are the stacks of YA books, waiting to be labeled and reshelved.

Next, I had to create a space for this section.  In an ideal world, I would have come up with a whole new shelving area, where teens could hang out and enjoy their own space.  However, that cannot happen.  So, I needed to move the juvenile section around.

And since I was moving that section around, I figured I should weed that section, to make more room both for new books and for the YA section.  So I emailed the system admin again, and she made a dusty shelf list.  Before she sent it to me, though, she called me up and explained a little problem.  See, if she went only based on when books were last checked out, I would be clearing out a major chunk of the section.  By limiting the list to only books that had never circulated since automating in 1997, and limiting further to only books published in 1985 or earlier, I'd only be deselecting about 700 books from the section.  Ouch.

Put another way, I was weeding anything that hadn't been checked out in nearly 20 years, and was about my age or older.  Of this old material, I kept anything by major authors, or were prize winners, or just struck my fancy ...

And what is more fanciful than this?

This weeding of the juvenile section was going well, until the picture books I was finding in the section began piling up.  And of course there was no room in that section for more books.  Once again, I asked for a dusty shelf list, this time writing a story that was along the "if/then" statements of a book by children's author Laura Numeroff.  It got a laugh, and perhaps one of the fastest dusty shelf list generations ever.

So now I have my evening clerk working on the project of pulling the books on the picture book list.  I rearranged the juvenile fiction section, weeded the juvenile paperback section for condition, and put everything in its places.  I feel very accomplished!

Then comes the problem of maintaining the section.  I am serving a population of 7,600+ people with a library that has a materials budget of $5,000.  The library has a McNaughton lease-to-buy subscription of five books per month, and a few Junior Library Guild packages.  The previous director would also buy five books and a couple audiobooks on CD each month from baker & Taylor.  Beyond that ... donations, and whatever can be bought with what's left of state aid at the end of the year.

If you're interested in library science, let me just disenchant you a moment and make it very clear that if you don't have a millage supporting the general services of the library, and you're at the mercy of a municipal government, you're not going to have much of a budget.  And that's even if you have a good city manager, as I currently do.

So what do you do?  Look to your own pockets and go shopping.  Next time, I'll show you what I managed to get for under $200 at the local bookstore.  You might be impressed.