Sunday, February 26, 2017

Week Seven Prompt

Referring to the controversy over A Birthday Cake for George Washington, the author of the article, and the book, made some really good points. It is unacceptable that there was such a disconnect between the writer and the illustrator, who partly played a role in the controversy in the first place. The writer should have had a say and provided approval for the book. Doesn't it make sense to make sure the words and the pictures reflect one another? The book publisher even censored the author, when she was told to remain silent as outcries poured out through social media outlets. This whole article screamed "CENSORSHIP ISSUES" out to me. I liked the quote that was printed in bold in the article, "Most pressing is the question of whether we can ever reach a place in our society where questions of race can be openly and objectively discussed, especially with our children". How can we speak on these issues if there is so much reluctance to bring them to light? Issues like slavery, racism, classism, and the like? 

Specifically talking about slavery, the author of A Birthday Cake for George Washington was being questioned on if they were "allowed" to write a story like this. Basically, unless the author can sugar-coat a story about slavery, it should not be written. "...America still does not uniformly accept that slavery was an inhuman abomination". Unless America can accept that, stories of slavery will continue to be rewritten and will not be portrayed as the monstrosity that it really was. I enjoyed reading this article because I had not heard of this book controversy before but it resonated with me because of my own ethnicity. Another reason I enjoyed this article was because of how important censorship is, and how important it is for writers and authors to collaborate and create true portrayal of events. If the event wasn't true, it would be labeled as such. As a (pending) librarian, I feel like it is my duty to fight for and on the side of banned books, especially when those books are meant to bring dark times to light. "The righting of racial injustice doesn't come from shutting down conversations by banning books or screaming the loudest but from opening dialogues". 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Week Six Prompt

The month of February is always associated with love, and I believe that an effective way to promote romance (and reading) is a eye catching display. An idea I found was a "Fall in Love with a Good Book" display. The display would be placed in the welcome area of the library, so patrons can see it as soon as they walk in. Like the example pictured, the librarians would create this display with construction paper hearts, faux flowers, and pretty handwriting. . Staff picks would have paper hearts stuck on the book, notating a romance book that a staff member "fell in love with". Books without paper hearts would encourage a patron to pick up the book and find out if they'll fall in love with that title.

Romance Annotation

Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice
by Curtis Sittenfeld

Synopsis: In this modern version of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Liz and Jane Bennet live in New York City; Liz writes for a magazine and Jane instructs yoga. Their father has a health scare and they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help during his recovery. Upon arrival, Liz and Jane find that the beautiful Tudor they grew up in, and their family, has become a crumbling hot mess.

The youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too consumed with their CrossFit workouts and diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle child, is working on yet another master's degree, and she never leaves her room, save for the Tuesday-night outings that she doesn't discuss with anyone.

Mrs. Bennet, the matriarch, has one goal: marry off the girls, especially Jane who is so very close to 40.

Similar to Prejudice, we meet Dr. Chip Bingley, a cheerful and handsome ER doctor who is new to Cincinnati, and has gained popularity after appearing on a reality TV show called Eligible. After meeting Jane at a summer time barbecue, Bingley develops interest in her very quickly. Bingley brings his friend Fitzwilliam Darcy to the barbecue, and his standoffish demeanor proves him to be much less charming in Liz's opinion... but first impressions are almost always entirely wrong.


Elements of Romance:

Characterization - Characters are easily identifiable (Saricks, pg. 133). At the beginning of the novel we are introduced to Chip Bingley, young and attractive ER doctor who had a chance at love on a TV show. His friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy is described as tall, dark, handsome, and standoffish. Jane and Liz Bennet, the eldest sisters, are both independent, beautiful, they exercise, keep a routine, and take the roles of mother for the younger girls. Mary, the middle sister, is more homely, keeps to herself, and instead of being influenced by the whims of the world, she throws herself into education. Kitty and Lydia, the youngest two siblings, are very beautiful, fit and toned, and are constantly on their phones.

Storyline - The storyline shows a misunderstanding between our Liz and Darcy. Like the classic Pride & Prejudice story, Liz and Darcy start off at odds, with Darcy commenting on how provincial living in Cincinnati is and Liz being offended when Darcy says there are no women worth his time in the town besides Liz's sister Jane, who is already taken with Chip. In the end, there is a "satisfactory resolution of their romantic relationship" (Saricks, pg. 133). Both Liz and Darcy realize how stubborn they both are and that they are actually more alike than they thought.

Details - The Bennet house is often mentioned through out the story as a Tudor style home. The Bennets live in a "sprawling eight-bedroom Tudor in Cincinatti's Hyde Park neighborhood" (Sittenfeld, pg. 13). This is reminiscent of the original story of the Bennets, who had a multi bedroom house, along with a cook, a maid, and people to tend to the exterior of the estate. This attention to detail is also shown when describing the lifestyle of Kitty and Lydia. "...Kitty and Lydia had embraced CrossFit, the intense strength and conditioning regimen that involved weight lifting, kettle bells, battle ropes, obscure acronyms, the eschewal of most foods other than meat..." (Sittenfeld, pg. 20). Another detail is the emphasis put on Chip Bingley's past shot at love on a reality TV show called Eligible. Chip took the women to gamble in Las Vegas and to taste wine in Napa Valley vineyards. On the finale episode, Chip had to pick between the final two women (very similar to the Bachelor/Bachelorette) and ended up breaking down on screen and picking neither.

Pace - Eligible is very fast paced, engaging the reader instantly. There are 113 chapters, divided into 3 parts in the novel. Each chapter only consists of one to eight pages maximum, which makes this story a literal page turner! This encourages the reader to continue reading, when one chapter is only one page with a short paragraph. 


Modern Lovers by Emma Straub

And This Our Life by C. Allyn Pierson

The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger

The Assistants by Camille Perri


Saricks, J.G. (2009). The readers' advisory guide to genre fiction: Second edition. Chicago: ALA.

Sittenfeld, C. (2016). Eligible. New York: Random House.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Week Five Prompt

1. It is appreciated that Booklist will not publish negative reviews, but I feel like that seems very biased. At the same time, it is unfair to publish a review that could crush the spirit. It is important to be able to express an opinion civilly, without offending the reader or the author. It may be difficult to absorb but constructive criticism does work! 
Switching to ebook only books, it is important to be able to review these materials. Without the reviews, adding them to the collection would be difficult. (WE NEED MORE INFO!). But really, if a librarian adds an ebook only book to their collection without thorough review, there runs the risk of the material being inappropriate for the patron. Reviews help the librarian, which in turn helps the librarian help the patrons.

2. Both reviews were reliable because both authors of the reviews were able to express their own opinions. The blog review did not give much appeal to the book but again, the author wrote with honesty. I feel like both reviews were a bit too informal, with grammatical and punctuation errors. I also think that the writers of both could have used some quotes from the books, or maybe even provided a little bit more of the plot to highlight the romantic suspense elements, if there are any! I would much rather purchase the book in hardcopy, because some of my patrons might not have access to the ebook version. And even if I bought it in the electronic version, that would mean I had access to Kindles or iPads that were able to be loaned out (budgeting, funding, ya da ya da). Since the subject matter of the book is mostly romance, I don't see this fitting into the romantic suspense genre.

3. The Angela's Ashes reviews all provided pretty good descriptions about McCourt's life. Each review had a different way of vividly describing McCourt's suffering. I have already added it to my growing reading list. I would add this book to my collection, and honestly, I would suggest it to be put into a school curriculum somehow. Maybe in a Depression/World War II unit. This book provides insight into the lives of people living during that era, and there is no other way to know about those people except through their own accounts. 

4. It is unfair that one type of book or one title will be reviewed to death while others do not get as much coverage. There are so many underrated books out there that have yet to "see the light" and given a review. I feel like this takes away from the libraries, who are missing books that should be in their collections. This also seems like some sort of marketing ploy. The big publishers make it into the libraries because their books always get reviewed, which leaves the smaller publishers and "underground" authors in the dust.

I do not buy for my library but whenever I read for my own leisure, I use Amazon or Goodreads. Goodreads usually has decent reviews, especially if the reader did not like the book. I use Amazon if I want more "sound" reviews. 

Kirkus Style Review

Beautiful Creatures

by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

In the small town of Gatlin, South Carolina, high school sophomore Ethan Wate is counting down the days until he can leave. He is ready to explore the northern states and pursue a writing career.

Ethans' plans to skip out of town are halted when he meets Lena Duchannes, the literal girl of his dreams. Lena is not like the other girls in Ethan's classes; she is quiet, aloof, and has this mysterious tattoo on her hand. Lena is old man Ravenwood's niece, the towns' shut in that never comes out in the daylight. Lenas' mysterious tattoo is marking a countdown of her own; the days remaining until her 16th birthday. On that day, Lena will endure the Claiming. With the help of Ethan's prodding, Lena tells her secret; she is Caster, from a long line of Caster relatives. Once her birthday comes, her Caster powers will be claimed for either the Light or the Dark. 

Which way will Lena go once she is sixteen? Can Ethan's love keep her from going Dark? Ethan's narration will resonate with those readers who love a dry sense of humor, and will catch the attention of the supernatural-romance lovers looking for a new read to bite into. 

Romantic Suspense Annotation

Don't Tell
by Karen Rose

Mary Grace Winters only knew of one way to escape her abusive cop husband; faking the death of herself and their son Robbie, and secretly skipping town. Nine years after the incident, Mary Grace is in a new city, with a new identity, and a clean slate. This clean slate includes a stable job, a pending bachelor's degree, and an acceptance into law school. She even has an opportunity for new love, found in her new boss, Dr. Max Hunter. Hunter has his own scars but finds happiness when Mary Grace enters his atmosphere. All seems well until Mary Grace's "grieving" husband starts to uncover her trail, and he closes in on her in the very city she escapes to. Her loved ones are no longer safe and there is a potential for her past and present to come together in a head on collision.


Elements of Romantic Suspense:

1. Pacing - The plot is fast and uneasy. This usually starts within the first pages of the book, like the prologue or chapter one. In the prologue, Officer Winters is begging to see his wife after she was in a horrible accident, and the doctor tells him of her injuries. Then chapter one cuts to nine years later, when the police are dragging the lake looking for evidence regarding Mary Grace and Robbie Winters' apparent death.

2. Characterization - The story is told mostly from the point of view of the threatened heroine. Mary Grace is our heroine, who has fled from her abusive husband to create a new life for her and her son. The story does cut to other points of view; i.e. Special Agent Steven Thatcher, Officer Winters, and Max Hunter.

3. Graphic details - Very explicit details are given about the abuse and scars of our heroine. There are details about Officer Winters' behaviors towards the women he encounters throughout his hunt for his family. There is one very vivid sex scene between the heroine and Max Hunter, which comes after a few vivid scenes of the characters fooling around.

4. Romantic relationship - The developing romantic relationship between the heroine and Max Hunter is at the core of the story. As much as Mary Grace wants to welcome new love, she continues to have flashbacks from her past that threaten her future.

5. Language - The language contains witty rapport between characters, along with "sensual descriptions" of situations and conversations. The author uses explicit sexual descriptions (Saricks, pg. 37).

6. Detailed background - Each location of the story is described in great detail, like Asheville, North Carolina, where the heroine is from and where Officer Winters begins his search. Max Hunters' house is described with great detail, set in the country and away from the city in a peaceful area.


One Scream Away by Kate Brady

Beg for Mercy by Jami Alden

To the Edge by Cindy Gerard

Moving Target by Cheyenne McCray


Saricks, J.G. (2009). The readers' advisory guide to genre fiction: Second edition. Chicago: ALA.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Secret Shopper

For this assignment, I visited a public library that I had been a patron to before but had never really asked for help. I was welcomed by the staff at the information desk, located right as you walk through the doors, in the center of the lobby. All the staff had bright faces and were ready to help. I asked where I could find young adult books and was pointed to the Teen Space, which was located in a room about a few feet behind the information desk.

Entering the Teen Space, I was greeted by a friendly librarian and she asked what she could help me with. I told her that I was trying to find a book that had similar realistic elements to Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen. She then asked me what other titles I had read, so I listed a few like All Good Children by Dayna Ingram, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. She showed me a list YA books that had won awards. The list was compiled of books that had won the Michael L. Printz award. I recognized a book on the list called I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, which I had just read a few months ago. Jandy Nelson's book was the 2015 Printz Award winner. A book that caught my attention was Asking for it by Louise O'Neill. This book is about Emma Donovan, who wakes up outside her house after a night of partying. Emma has no idea how she got there and no recollection of the night before. Soon after, videos and pictures start popping up on the internet depicting her being raped. She gets zero support from her small Irish hometown and has to figure things out on her own, and if she was really "asking for it" (Not that anyone is every asking but she just needs to know, ya know!?).

The librarian also showed me some readalikes off of Goodreads:

  • The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
  • Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally
  • Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero
I also told her that I had an interest in Sci-fi/fantasy books, and the last fantasy title I read was The Wizard Heir by Cinda Williams Chima. Based off that book, the librarian suggested the third book of the series, The Warrior Heir and she suggested The Revenge of the Shadow King by Derek Benz and J.S. Lewis. This is the first book of the series and it tells the story of four friends who call themselves the Grey Griffins, and they realize weird happenings all over their town as dangerous creatures from their card game come to life.

Overall, I liked the results given by the Teen Space librarian, and I had a hard time "playing dumb" because I already knew how to find books similar to my last read but I liked having the experience of being the patron. I felt like the librarian knew what she was doing, and she could relate because she liked the some of the same titles that I had already read. Glad to have had the opportunity!