Dec 24, 2013

Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me

Remember when Harry asks Dumbledore what he sees when he looks at the Mirror of Erised? Dumbledore lies (we assume) and says that he sees himself holding thick socks, because another Christmas has come and gone with him only receiving books.  Putting aside the fact that Dumbledore should be grateful that people are purchasing him gifts with love rather than complaining, I understand how he feels.  People obviously know that I love books, but have a hard time figuring out which books I would actually want and not already own.  Regardless, I LOVE getting books (and socks too, to be fair) so here are my

Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me

1.  Hyperbole and a Half, by Allie Brosh

Every time she posts on her blog, my news feeds explode.  I can't wait to read this. 

2. The Long Way Home, by George Jeanty and Joss Whedon

I own every volume of Buffy Season 8 except for the first one which I can never find anywhere! I don't want to buy it from Amazon (even though I know I could), because I like supporting comic book stores.  My addiction to The Big Bang Theory contributed heavily to my feelings on the matter.

3. The Pigeon Wants a Puppy!, by Mo Willems

Without question, my favorite picture book of all time is Don't Let the Pigeon Ride the Bus, and this sequel is a close second.

4. Chopsticks, by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral

This graphic novel that is completely up to the reader's interpretation is so beautiful and one of my all-time favorites. 

5. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

I'm a bad librarian when it comes to my personal collection.  In my efforts to push my favorite books onto friends and family, I lent this copy to a friend, who then lent it to a friend, who then lent it to a friend (or possibly a frenemy) and now it's gone for good.  I really should charge late fees.

6. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

See above.

7. A boxed set of the Molly: American Girl series

I have the complete Samantha collection (who is my favorite) but I don't have the entire Molly set (my second favorite).  Also, earlier this year I learned that both dolls were retired and it really broke my heart.

8. Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak

I collect picture books and for some inexplicable reason, I don't have this book.

9. Broadway Musicals, Revised and Updated: The 101 Greatest Shows of All Time, by
Frank Vlastnik and Ken Bloom

I love musicals and I would get lost in this coffee table book in a heartbeat.

10. Finishing the Hat, by Stephen Sondheim

Again, I love musicals, I love Sondheim musicals, and his interview on The Colbert Report really sealed the deal on me wanting this book.

Check out more over at The Broke and the Bookish!

And Merry Christmas! (if that's your thing)

Dec 22, 2013

#TheList, No. 431: The Wind in the Willows

Kenneth Grahame's 1908 classic, The Wind in the Willows, tells the tale of four animal friends - Rat, Mole, Badger and Toad.  Toad is the reckless animal of the bunch - always coveting the latest trend whether it be horse drawn carriages or motor cars (note: this was written towards the end of the second industrial revolution).  His three friends worry that he will get himself into trouble with his impulsive behavior and, lo and behold, Toad is caught stealing a car and thrown into jail for 20 years. He escapes and after indulging himself once again with irrational behavior, teams up with his friends to reclaim his old home from the animals who have overtaken it.

If a middle or high school student asked me for a nostalgia-based book they could incorporate into a history/literature project, I would say "you got it dude" and hand them The Wind in the Willows

Looking for a riveting read? I would tell them to look elsewhere.

In terms of its historical significance and reflection of people resistant to change, it's a great read. Toad stands for the new and exciting industrial age, while his friends represent the fondness for a simpler time.  While I may find it boring to read through (and some agree and many disagree), I really do appreciate the symbolic aspects of the story.  For me, the analysis of the characters and action is more entertaining than the actual story. Plus, who doesn't love anthropomorpized animals?

Dec 17, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: New to Me Authors in 2013

When I was surrounded by fellow bibliophiles in grad school, I realized that there were so many children's/YA/fiction books I had yet to explore.  Thus began my adventure to read everything on #TheList, every title mentioned in the classroom, every amazing book I passed in a bookstore (I take pictures of every book that looks interesting so I don't forget), etc.  So there are always "new to me" authors I encounter that already have established fandoms.  Here are some of my favorites from this past year:

Top Ten "New to Me" Authors in 2013
(Titles I read in 2013 in parentheses)

1. John Green (The Fault in Our Stars, An Abundance of Katherines)
Okay, my first on the list and I'm cheating.  I read Looking for Alaska a few years ago.  BUT, The Fault in Our Stars really got me hooked on Green's writing and also led me to his vlogs which are both insightful and hysterical.  I've added the rest of his works to my "To Be Read" short list.

2. Marie Lu (Legend, Prodigy, Champion)
I read all three of the Legend series books this year, which I'm sure most people will do now that they're all available. I felt I had to take this crash course in them because my students were utterly obsessed with this series.  I hope she writes a non-dystopian in the future; I'm curious about where she'll go as an author.

3. Neil Gaiman (The Graveyard Book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane)
I've always known that Neil Gaiman is practically worshipped as a literary god by most of the internet world, but had never really gotten into his works.  I picked up Ocean on a whim and ended up reading it in one sitting.

4. Megan McCafferty (Sloppy Firsts)
After hearing so much about Jessica Darling throughout grad school, I finally experienced the character for myself.  Needless to say, I will be reading the rest of the series ASAP, as well as McCaffertys Bumped series.

5. Sherlock
Okay, this doesn't count as an author, but alongside Buffy, this show is all library school students (and professors) talk about.  I crossed it off my list this year and eagerly anticipate Season 3.

6. Frances Hodsgon Burnett (The Secret Garden)
I'm positive that I tried reading The Secret Garden and A Little Princess as a child, but couldn't finish them because I was am a brat that stays away from classics. But I enjoyed and appreciated this novel this time around, so perhaps there's hope for me yet!

7. Carolyn Mackler (The Earth, My Butt & Other Big Round Things)
I'll admit I believed that Earth would be a bit of a fluffy read, but Mackler took a frequently used trope (teen upset with body image) and added a twist.  I'll definitely be reading more of her works in the future.

8. Emily M. Danforth (The Miseducation of Cameron Post)
Cameron Post is one of my top 5 books of this year.  It's also Danforth's debut novel and I can't wait for her next.

9. Sarah Dessen (Someone Like You)
For years, I've passed the shelves filled with her (very pretty) books and I finally got a chance to see what all the fuss was about.

10. Robert Galbraith (The Cuckoo's Calling)
Wow this author was really terrific.  I hope he's written other books...

Check out more over at The Broke and the Bookish!

Dec 13, 2013

Friday Five: "Little Girl Books"

I haven't posted a good rant in what seems like ages, so it seems almost fitting that I write one on a Friday the 13th.

Earlier this week, a coworker mentioned that she was reading an Oprah book selection and asked if I had read it yet (I believe it was The Two Hotel Francforts).  I said that I had not and when I reached for the book to read the description, she responded with "Oh that's right. You only read 'little girl books.'"

I've had a fair share of people making fun of my preference for reading children's and young adult literature (as well as my preference for working with children and young adults), so I smiled and laughed it off, but on the inside I felt like:

Why? Because it was a fellow library coworker who voiced this insult.  I can semi-understand when people who aren't well versed in the land of YA and children's lit think that it's a little strange.  But a fellow librarian?  Hurtful!

She probably thought it was harmless and maybe it is; maybe I'm overreacting.  But to me it's a sexist, insulting remark to casually toss around.  It suggests to an entire gender and age group that their book selections are meaningless. What exactly makes a book a "little girl book?"  Are they restricted to featuring only "little girl" activities? Are boys even allowed? Do they require less mental capacity to understand? Do they have stickers? Are they height based? Did she mean Thumbelina?

What would have been unoffensive:
  • "Oh that's right, you prefer to read young adult books."
  • "Oh that's right, you prefer reading different types of books."
  • "Oh that's right, this book might not have crossed your radar."
  • "Oh you should give it a try, I think you'll like it."
But no, she went with "Oh that's right. You only read 'little girl books.'"

So, under the assumption she meant that "little girl books" are dainty, easy to digest, and not intellectually or emotionally stimulating*, here are my

Top 5 "little girl books" that I read this year:

1. Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein
The story of two young women during WWII - one a pilot and the other a spy captured by the Gestapo and held as a prisoner of war.

History, spies, torture: Definitely a "little girl book".

2. I Hunt Killers, by Barry Lyga

Jasper Dent investigates a series of murders taking place in his hometown. Why? Because they're copycat versions of the murders his serial killer father committed years ago.

Murder, psychological manipulation: Definitely a "little girl book".

3.Does My Head Look Big in This?, by Randa Abdel-Fattah

Amal, a Muslim Australian attending a rather non-diverse school, decides that she wants to wear a hijab (head scarf) full-time.  She is met with criticism from her family, friends, classmates, and strangers.

Religious prejudice, sexism, cultural identity: Definitely a "little girl book".

4. The Miseducation of Cameron Post, by Emily Danforth

A young teen coming to terms with her sexuality believes that she is the reason her parents were killed in an airplane crash.  She is forced to attend a gay conversion camp by her aunt.

LGBT, guilt, suicide: Definitely a "little girl book".

5. The Earth, My Butt & Other Big Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler

A teen battling body issues and constantly hoping for acceptance from her family, must now cope with the shattered images of those closest to her.

Rape, eating disorders, coming of age: Definitely a "little girl book". 

*Is there anything wrong with those types of books? NOPE.  Have I read books that may fit that description? Absolutely.  But to merely classify all of children's lit and YA as "little girl books" and act as if that is somehow beneath you is what's wrong.

Dec 10, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: My Winter TBR List

It's so hard for me to pick out what books to read next.  But here are 10 that I know I'll be reading this winter:

Top Ten Books on my Winter TBR List:

1. The House of the Scorpion, by Nancy Farmer

A student made me promise I would read this ASAP because it's her favorite book of all time.

2. Cinder, by Marissa Meyer

Another recommendation from a student.  She was so excited about this book, so I had to add it to my list.

3. The Strange Case of Origama Yoda, by Tom Angleberger

Every time I see a book from this series, I'm curious.

4. A Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin

Alright, this one is a lofty feat for me because I love books that I can read in one day, or at least over the span of a few days.  But everyone keeps telling me to give it a try, so I think I will.

5. Liar and Spy, by Rebecca Stead

I loved When You Reach Me and have been meaning to try Stead's other novel.  

6. Bumped, by Megan McCafferty

I'm a dystopia addict, what can I say?

7. Franny and Zooey, by J.D. Salinger

This book has been on my list for far to long.  It's time to add this to my "already read" pile.  

8. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Graphic Novel, by Ransom Riggs

I was unbelievably excited when I saw this book in a store earlier this month.

9. Jane, the Fox, and Me, by Fanny Britt

I read a review of this graphic novel, and it looks incredible. I can't wait to read it.

10. Always Alice aka Now I'll Tell You Everything, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

The last book in the Alice series came out earlier this year.  I will have to do some refreshing reading of earlier books, but I look forward to reading the ending of a series I grew up with. 

Check out more books over at The Broke and the Bookish!

Dec 9, 2013

#TheList, Nos. 696 and 708: A Series of Unfortunate Events

The Series of Unfortunate Events is a 13 part series that follows the miserable adventures of the three Baudelaire children. The children, orphans after losing their parents to a tragic fire, must protect themselves and their family fortune from Count Olaf, a distant relative, and his henchmen. Often caught in terrifying death traps, the children must escape using Violet's inventing skills, Klaus' thirst for knowledge, and Sunny's surprisingly sharp teeth. Despite the dangers the characters find themselves in, the books are packed with dark humor and word play, making them exciting and suspenseful reads. 

I read the first book in The Series of Unfortunate Events as a child after receiving it as a gift. My uncle told me I needed to read something other than Harry Potter (he also gave me The Golden Compass). I thought it was incredibly funny and unlike anything I had read before.  But for some strange reason, I never kept up with the series (I was probably too caught up with Harry Potter, let's be honest). Recently, I read a discussion of the series as a whole. It confirmed what I had imagined, that the series, while humorous and innovative, was formulaic in it's approach. However, it mentioned how the books took darker turns and added a great conspiracy midway through the series.  That was enough to make me pick them back up.

The Bad Beginning (No. 696), the first in the series, introduces the Baudelaires with their back story and their first major misadventure. The narrator immediately tells the reader that this is not a happy story. If you want a happy story, close the book and find something else.  Actually, this sentiment is expressed time and time again throughout the series. The narrator goes to great lengths - for example, attempting to bore the reader with the process of water evaporation - to prevent the reader from reading about the many tragedies the Baudelaires face.  Repeatedly shattering that fourth wall with warnings only entices the readers to continue turning pages. Everyone knows that if you tell someone not to do something, it only increases that person's interest.

The author also makes a great effort to define new vocabulary, one of my favorite aspects of the series.  There's absolutely no shying away from challenging words or phrases that readers may not have encountered in previous reading selections. Instead, the words or phrases are defined, examples are supplied, and then it is constantly brought back into the context of the story at hand.

The Vile Village (No. 708), the seventh book, is where the series begins to take darker turns.  Up until now, the Baudelaires have been fairly innocent in their escapes from horrible henchmen.  But this book leaves the Baudelaires falsely accused of murder and on the run from the police.  They must follow a conspiracy-based quest established in an earlier book, leaving running from the law as their only option.  Now that they are on the run, they continue to break the law in order to protect themselves and bring their adventures to an end.

Time after time, the three children escape death and/or capture without the assistance of an adult. When they try to seek adult help, they're often ignored or dismissed as having childish notions. But the Baudelaires frequently catch on to plots and Count Olaf's disguises before adults. Why? Because children often don't get the credit they deserve.  Many adults are depicted in a buffoonish manner to further highlight the children's potential. The series serves as an affirmation of the power of children. Even if the books become repetitive as the series progresses, that message is always prevalent.

Dec 5, 2013

Reading Moods

I've always been terrible at deciding what to read next.  I've gone through various systems: random number generators for #TheList, closing my eyes and pointing at my bookshelf, reading in age group patterns (children's, YA, adult), or just letting the library gods control my fate by reading whatever holds come in first.  But regardless of the system, I always try to read something I'm in the mood for.  If I'm craving a history lesson, I reach for historical fiction or, you know, actual nonfiction.  If I want to laugh, I'm more likely to read The Earth, My Butt, and Other Round Things than I am The Book Thief.  And so on, and so forth.

Recently, a student has been placing holds left and right (using my system, apparently) and reading whatever came in first.  Recently, three came in at once (Divergent, The Outsiders, and The Maze Runner) and she looked like she was about to have a panic attack. 

Me: What's wrong?!
Student: (in literally the saddest voice possible) I don't know which one to read first.
M: Well, which one were you looking forward to the most?
S: I don't know.
M: Okay, let's try this. What kind of book are you in the mood to read?
S: Something happy.
M: Yikes. None of those are particularly happy books.
S: They aren't?
M: Wait, tell me what you know about these books.
S: I don't know anything. Someone told me they were good.

Our conversation continued with me giving a quick book talk for the three books and she realized that they were not the books she was looking for.

She still thought they sounded interesting but having just read back to back sad/depressing books, she wanted the polar opposite.  We talked some more and I found out that she liked Lois Lowry as an author, but had only ever read her serious books.  So I pulled out Anastasia Krupnik, and told her to give it a try.  She came back after the weekend and told me she LOVED it.  Now she's ready to work on Divergent because her palate has been cleansed.  You just have to go with what you're in the mood for to really enjoy a book.

Nov 19, 2013

#TheList, No. 802: Lord of the Flies

When I was in the ninth grade, almost all of my friends were reading Lord of the Flies in English class as their first reading selection.  Not my class; we were reading A Separate Peace.  At the end of the year, my teacher confessed that we didn't read Lord of the Flies because a) she hated it; and b) she believes that starting with the most boring novel in the world is a good way to let her students know that her class will not be a walk in the park.  She was my favorite teacher for a reason.

After a plane crashes on an uninhabited island, a group of young boys must figure out how to survive without the adult supervision to which they are accustomed. There is an initial attempt to maintain order: electing a chief, establishing conduct rules for meetings, and organizing themselves into hunters and builders. Eventually the structure breaks down as the boys' primitive nature begins to emerge. Their remote existence encourages power struggles, bullying, and deadly violence.

It wasn't exactly my cup of tea, but I can understand and appreciate it's significance. The symbolic presence of democracy (the conch and their meetings), the metamorphosis from a civilized to natural state, and the contrast of rational thought versus irrational instincts are all concepts that are explored thoroughly in this tale of survival (and make great essay topics).  The power struggles are foreshadowed almost immediately, which can make for some tense reading when you just know something horrible is about to happen.  The allegorical characters and their actions elicit both sympathy and apathy from the reader, which makes for a rapid emotional changes as the reader moves along with the story. 

Because the YA world is overrun by dystopias, I would align Lord of the Flies with Michael Grant's Gone series due to their similar themes.  In Gone, everyone over the age of 15 disappears simultaneously, leaving the children to fend for themselves. Naturally, there are power struggles and violence as the children try to figure out what is happening. While the series falls more into the sci-fi/supernatural genres, the adventure, survival, and power structure elements are great parallels to the high school English class standard that is Lord of the Flies.

Oct 29, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books to Read During Halloween

Every October I go crazy for the following reasons:

  1.  Stores have Christmas decorations out and that is 100% unacceptable.
  2. I spend weeks making my Halloween costumes because I don't like buying costumes and I need an outlet for my creativity.
  3. CANDY!
  5. Reading spooky-esque books to get in the spirit.

I'm not exactly a fan of horror and slasher films and/or books, so my list of Halloween selections are not all traditional thriller titles.  There are many terrors out there that are just as scary as monsters, so I've put together a list of books that I've read during Halloween before and am currently reading that encompass that scary spirit.

Books to Read During Halloween

1. Horns, by Joe Hill


A man wakes up as the devil incarnate - fitting as his hometown believes him guilty of the most devilish of crimes.

2. Are You in the House Alone?, by Richard Peck

A teenage babysitter is not only stalked and raped, but is further tormented when officials want to protect her rapist.

3. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

A world where firefighters burn books rather than fight fires.  Aka, a librarian's nightmare.

4. Mommy?, by Maurice Sendak

A delightful pop-up book featuring a haunted mansion full of monsters and a baby in search of his mother.

5. Beautiful Creatures, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

For the romantic Halloween fan, a young girl destined to become Light or Dark on her sixteenth birthday must sacrifice either her life with her uncle or her life with her boyfriend.

6.  This Dark Endeavor, by Kenneth Oppel

A prequel to Frankenstein, where the future mad scientist develops a taste for raising the dead.

7. Diamonds in the Shadows, by Caroline Cooney

An American family takes in a family of four African refugees, not knowing that they are being hunted down by a fifth refugee who entered the country undetected.

8. I am the Cheese, by Robert Cormier

A boy uncover his past while under interrogation by the government, but what is real?

9. Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer, by Katie Alender

This one has thriller like elements, but it was more amusing to me than anything. The ghost of Marie Antoinette seeks revenge on family members of those who wronged her and brought her to her death.

10. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding

A chilling tale of survival and the fast decline from civilization to barbaric tendencies. 

Oct 18, 2013

#TheList, No. 811: The Witch of Blackbird Pond

I've abandoned my randomly generated list in order to tackle some of the more Halloween-y appropriate books this month.  Last week was Violet Park's Me, the Missing, and the Dead.  This week, I revisited one of my favorite books I read for class in the fifth grade: Elizabeth George Speare's Newbery Medal-winning novel, The Witch of Blackbird Pond.

After her grandfather's death, Kit Tyler, sails from Barbados to Connecticut to live with her only living family members.  While Kit knows she will be welcomed into the family, she does not anticipate the strict religious beliefs governing every move in her new Puritanical home. Kit struggles to adjust to the Puritan lifestyle while maintaining her own beliefs. Her often unconventional behavior immediately arouses suspicion throughout the town and it is only made worse when she befriends a Quaker woman whom many believe to be a witch. 

There's a lot to work with in this piece of historical fiction: the value of hard work, the pressure to adapt to change, the right to education, the right to independent beliefs, the need to accept others with varying viewpoints, etc. My favorite is how the strength of women is explored in both positive and negative lights. Kit is a positive force - resisting conformity through charitable actions for those deemed unworthy. The "witch," Kit's family, and Prudence are also positive reflections of women's strength. But throughout the novel "women's talk" is used as a weapon against those who are different. It saturates the town and becomes powerful enough to drive a woman into hiding and bring another to trial. It's a realistic portrayal of the fanaticism that really existed during the witch trials and it's interesting to contrast it to the actions of the other positive female characters in the novel.

A few of the students have seen me with this book and have exclaimed that it's one of their favorites. That makes me happy.  Sure, the ending might be a little too happy than realistic, but it's still a great way to introduce children to the actual events of that time period. 

Oct 11, 2013

#TheList, No. 1001: Finding Violet Park

Through a strange turn of events, teenager Lucas Swain gains possession of an abandoned urn containing the ashes of a Violet Park. While researching Violet, Lucas unknowingly begins to call up his father's mysterious past. Lucas' father disappeared five years ago.  No one knows where or why he ran away, or if he ran away at all. Lucas is frozen in time, clutching onto his father's belongings because he doesn't have the memories to sustain him.  His research, however, finally allows Lucas an out, as he learns that "dead" doesn't just have to be a physical condition.  

Finding Violet Park, by Jenny Valentine, was originally published in London. It was later republished in America as Me, the Missing, and the Dead, which is the title I picked up and, after finishing the book, that I prefer. I don't know if I would have picked up this book if it weren't on The List, but I'm glad I read it. I enjoyed the various perspectives of the missing and the dead. Dead doesn't have to mean "dead" if that person's memory and life remain with you. On the other hand, missing can can equate with dead - Lucas' father is gone and no longer a worthy part of his life. Lucas' actions at the close of the book confirm his feelings on this matter. The newer title creates three categories that, throughout the course of the novel, Lucas realizes can all be intertwined depending on his actions. For five years, he's been missing his life, instead clinging on to what is no longer present. Finding Violet Park is just a small piece of the puzzle that leads him to eventual catharsis. 

The novel contains dark humor (for instance, Lucas provides a list of good reasons to make friends with a dead lady in an urn), realistic portrayals of family and extended family, and an interesting mystery to carry forth the discussion of what it means to be dead or missing.  It'd be an interesting choice to include in a Halloween display as it's spooky in a nontraditional sense.  

Oct 10, 2013

Library Card Woes

Last month, my wallet was stolen.  I went through the typical stages: panicked frenzy, denial, double checking account balances, replacing cards, and cursing the identity of whoever tried to maybe steal mine. But still looming over my head is the fact that my library card is gone.

I know I need to get a new one and go through the process of getting the number registered in all the networks I frequent (this is making me teary eyed),  but I can't get over it. I've had that number memorized ever since the card catalog went electronic. My lame middle school signature complete with the smiley faced dotted i is on that thing.  How could it be missing?

The positive in this situation is that without my library card, I can't keep checking out mountains of books and ignoring the books I own and haven't read yet. But there's a hole in my heart. And it's in the shape of my card.

What my heart literally looks like right now. Okay, not literally.

Oct 3, 2013

Reconstructing Amelia

I love a good mystery. When the pieces all fall into place, it is such a satisfying reading experience (I'm looking at you Casual Vacancy).

Well-written mysteries have pieces that fit like a puzzle. But you know when you're putting together a 500 piece puzzle and you convince yourself that two pieces absolutely go together, so you hammer them down like there's no tomorrow? Sometimes that's what Reconstructing Amelia feels like.

Let me back up.  Reconstructing Amelia follows Kate, a single mother/attorney, as she copes after her daughter Amelia's alleged suicide.  Unwilling to believe that her daughter killed herself, Kate sorts through her daughter's electronic life and enters a terrifying world of bullying, hazing, secret clubs, and possible school cover-ups.  The perspective alternates between past and present day Kate, past Amelia, and collections of texts, Facebook statuses, and e-mails.

For the most part, I really enjoyed the book. It takes on a hot button issue (cyberbullying), incorporates other prevalent young adult issues (LGBT, popularity, identity) and presents a thoughtful critique of our online world(s). The teen voices are not forced and the blame for their actions isn't placed entirely on their shoulders. However, in what appears to be an attempt to create a lot of "gasp" worthy moments, some of the revelations read as if they're too hammered into place to fit.

But all in all, it's a satisfying read. If you're okay with overlooking a more farfetched conclusion and enjoy mysteries, I would pick up this book, preferably before the Nicole Kidman movie version premieres. Due to the subject matter, teens may find this an interesting reads, provided they're mature enough to handle the heavy amount of profanity, sexual scenes, and talk of cutting.

Sep 23, 2013

Banned Books Week!

Banned Books Week is one of my favorite weeks in the library world.  Too many people don't realize that the censorship of challenged books is not just a thing of the past. While I obviously don't love how books and other materials are still censored, I do love drawing awareness to this fact and encouraging readers to defend their right to read the books they find interesting.

You can learn more about BBW at the ALA Website.  

Sep 11, 2013

#TheList, No. 909: Madame Doubtfire

Guess who didn't know that the 1993 movie Mrs. Doubtfire was based on a children's novel? Me. I feel left out of the loop.

We know the story: parents divorce and put their children in the middle of their many bitter arguments involving custody arrangements. The mother doesn't want to give the father more time with the children. To get his deserved time, the father comes up with the inspired idea to dress up like a woman and apply to be the housekeeper/nanny. Then it all blows up in his face and he's left fighting to prove that his actions make him a great, caring father.

That all translated to the movie.  But the book has many dark moments that didn't quite make it into the movie (in my recollection). For starters, the fights between the parents are intense, lengthy, and at times, downright cruel. The fights about the children often lead to arguments with the children, the father taking no pause to place blame on the children for his predicaments.  Then there are the instances when the father daydreams and/or mimes about killing his front of the children. For example: when he inspires himself to clean by imagining he's mopping up his ex's blood. Big ol' yikes.  It's made clear that they aren't the portrait of a happy go lucky family.

I wasn't a fan of the novel; the father's violent tendencies really disagreed with me. However, I respect that it didn't try to Parent Trap the divorced couple.  The book isn't about bringing them back together; it's about realistically (minus the cross-dressing) depicting what it's like for children of divorced families and how parents need to readjust with their children's interests as the big picture.

One last thing. Let's take a minute and examine the book cover for the edition I read:

It's a little blurry, but it looks like Adam Sandler in drag. So I'm fairly certain that this cover foreshadowed Jack and Jill.

Sep 10, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Would Love To See As A Movie/TV Show

It's no guarantee, but sometimes books work as TV shows and movies.  They aren't always perfect copies (alright, they never ever are), but they translate well to a visual media.  In a perfect world where the end result would be a flawless movie or television show, here are my

Top Ten Books I Would Love To See as a Movie/TV Show

1. Unwind, by Neal Shusterman
This series has a lot of suspense, action and character development that could easily translate into a TV show.

2. Stephanie Plum By the Numbers Series, by Janet Evanovich
Yes, they tried this as a movie with Katherine Heigl and anyone could see that it was going to fail miserably. 1. It should be a television show. 2. Betty White should be Grandma. It would be can't-miss TV.

3. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
It might be incredibly difficult to capture the essence of this novel on film, but it would be a decent start if Morgan Freeman was cast as the titular role.

4. I Hunt Killers, by Barry Lyga
So as not to draw out the action too much, I think this would be best as a miniseries.  Allegedly, this title is in the works for an ABC Family series, so hopefully they preserve the sheer epicness that is this novel (and it's sequel).

5. Every Day, by David Levithan
The pursuit of an impossible relationship is the basis of many a successful movie, and I think this novel could make for an interesting addition. Difficult casting for sure as A would need to be portrayed by more than a handful of actors. There are great lessons to be found in these pages that could translate well to some cinematic interpretation.

6. Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
This one is listed as "in development" on IMDB and I'm not surprised: It's a great story and the sets for this book would look utterly fantastic on the big screen if done correctly.

7. The Mother Daughter Book Club, by Heather Vogel Frederick
I think this series is really sweet and would make for a cute Disney Channel type show.  It could be cast with fresh faces to be scrutinized later in their careers when they stop being prepubescent. But I do think this would make a fun addition to TV, especially because children's literature would be openly discussed on TV.

8. The Cuckoo's Calling, by Robert Galbraith J.K. Rowling
I'm thinking BBC series for this one. They can do no wrong. And with such amazing material, it would be near impossible to.

9. Bossypants, by Tina Fey
I know this is a weird addition. I've read the book and I've listened to the audiobook read by Fey herself. But I want to watch Tina read this book. Seriously, plop her down on a stool, have her read from the book, and film it. I would buy a ticket to see that and I hate paying to go see movies. Comedy gold.

10. Hex Hall, by Rachel Hawkins
Perhaps it's because I just finished the second book in this trilogy, but I think this would be a fun TV series (if we weren't suffering from paranormal romance/adventure overload). It's funny, contains magic, and has a sarcastic female lead.  I can definitely see myself binge-watching this on Netflix.