Sunday, September 27, 2009

Two amazing recent reads

Two YA books that I got to read this week. The first is the last (really the last one!) in John Marsden's Tomorrow, When the War Began/Ellie Chronicles series, the second is the sequel (with I believe just one more to come) to Suzanne Collins' fabulous The Hunger Games. Both of these titles were high on action and emotional investment!

Circle of Flight (The Ellie Chronicles #3) Circle of Flight by John Marsden

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Amazing end to the series--ends on a much more hopeful note than "The Other Side of Dawn," so while I would love to continue to read about Ellie and company, I can accept this as the last book in the series.

Ellie almost loses foster-brother Gavin, first to terrorist kidnappers, then to social services. As always, she relies on her friends as she makes her way through impossibly tough situations and struggles with figuring out the right thing to do.

Catching Fire (Hunger Games, #2) Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I thought this second installment in the Hunger Games series was amazing--Katniss moves from having battled other tributes, technologically created hazards, and her feelings for her co-tribute, Peeta, to battling the Capital's machinations and use of her and her loved ones as a pawn.

She tries to sort out the relationships that have grown with Peeta and their mentor, Haymitch, as a result of the Hunger Games with those from her childhood--with her mother, her sister, and her best friend, Gale. At the same time, she has to try to convince the Capital that she's not organizing a rebellion while she wonders if she should be trying to rebel.

Then, she finds out that she's not even safe from the Games...

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I realize that I use the word "amazing" in each review, as well as in the title. Obviously, I liked the books, but I'll try to vary my vocabulary a bit the next time I post book reviews!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

In the library, with the lead pipe...

I think it's no coincidence that the library was considered a possible setting for murder in the game "Clue." Libraries can be downright creepy, sometimes.

Especially at 1 in the morning.

The library I work in is fairly small, for an academic library. Still, we have two floors worth of mostly bookshelves, with tables and carrels interspersed along the walls. Each night, before we close, we have to check to make sure everyone is out. I usually check the second and third floors, both because I work up on the second floor, while my coworkers work on the first floor, and because they usually have more last-minute things to do ("encouraging" students to leave the computer lab on time, handling last minute book check-outs, etc.).

Usually this is not a problem. I try to walk around upstairs a couple times during the evening, to get an idea of who's in the library and what's going on. One more walk-around at 12:30/12:45 is no big deal, until my imagination gets the better of me.

The rows of shelves and nooks and crannies inherent to a library make it very easy to imagine someone hiding in said nooks and crannies. From there, it doesn't take long to jump to the person hiding jumping out and scaring you, kidnapping you, or murdering you. The first semester I was here, I was still haunted from having gone to see "The Dark Knight" in theaters, and was sure I would one evening meet the Joker waiting behind a shelf. The other night, while gathering up books to place on shelving carts, I saw that one book was about photographing ghosts. I didn't go up to the third floor that night, relying on the fact that no one had been up there on my last walk-around.

Somewhat amusingly, I become much less nervous when I actually run into students on my last walk-around. I guess I figure that if an evil being is waiting to attack, I will now have back-up.

When my imagination really gets going, I can actually feel my heart start to beat faster. If I could bottle my flights of terror into workable stories, I could be the next Stephen King.

Luckily, no bad guys have actually been lurking in the shelves to date. Still, I'm happy that a side job ala Batgirl is not an actual requirement for being a librarian. I would never make it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Busy students, busy library

Well, I didn't update as quickly as I thought I would.

Here are some current goings-on in the library:
  • Students are here! They've been on campus for awhile, but there has been a definite increase in library use since coming back from Labor Day: assignments have started to be due, students are settling into their study patterns, and computers continue to be in short supply. The reference desk seems busier to me than it did at the beginning of last semester, but I can't make a complete comparison, since I wasn't here at the beginning of the last school year.
  • Classes have been coming to the library. I've taught two sessions for professors, and given one open workshop (only one student; sigh). Our daytime information literacy/instruction librarian has been even busier with classes. These are great chances to form a more direct connection with students.
  • Everyone who's interested, or just part of the Reference Department, has been trained in our state's virtual reference system. Now we have to practice and start answering chat questions! Hopefully this is a step towards offering our own virtual reference service.
All in all, it's business as usual, but I like it when business is really busy-ness around here!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A few reviews

I spent a lovely 4-day Labor Day weekend (don't worry, I'll pay for it this coming weekend--getting up to be at work at 8:00 on Friday after having worked until 1:00 Friday morning, then only having Saturday off before returning to my usual Sunday-Thursday night schedule--the joys and sorrows of working a different shift!), and finished 2 books! Granted, 1 of them was a young adult book, but this is still quite an accomplishment for me. Here are those two reviews, plus one extra that I finished late last week. I'll update with a real post tomorrow.

Things Not Seen Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
For the first few chapters, I wasn't sure I was going to buy the premise (kid wakes up invisible, adventures ensue), but once Bobby met Alicia, everything seemed to both pick up and become more thoughtful. Loved it!

Things Hoped For Things Hoped For by Andrew Clements

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
An excellent companion to Things Not Seen. I liked the music element, and was completely taken surprise by the whereabouts of Gwen's grandfather. In the course of reading these two books (and from my previous Clements' experiences, such as Frindle, The School Story, and The Landry News), I realized that he has a gift for focusing a story on kids/teens without removing them from the routine adult world.

The Other Side of the Sun The Other Side of the Sun by Madeleine L'Engle

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I'm not quite sure what to make of this book. The same feeling and emphases that characterize all her books are here (importance of love, trust that good will triumph even in the darkest times, good vs. evil battle that stretches beyond humans). Naivete seems to be both an element in the story and part of the storytelling. At points, I feel like L'Engle sometimes treats the issue of racism with too much naivete (particularly in the idea of Nyssa--a plantation run by a white family, still worked largely by its freed slaves), but she describes lynchings with unflinching realism and a decision related to lynching is made with full understanding. I do feel like many characters are stereotypes. Still, I like the book and I like that L'Engle was wrestling with the issues that make up the story.

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