January 30, 2011

Grad school reflections: Week 3 of my final semester

This was another busy week between school, work, and everything else! On Friday night I helped chaperone a teen event at the library in which they played life-sized versions of favorite board games such as Monopoly, Sorry, and Clue. We also had options for playing Pictionary and Jeopardy. There were over 60 teens in attendance, which was an improvement over last year's numbers. It was a ton of fun, and it's definitely an event we'll keep putting on. 

My mom came up to visit this weekend since I had a rough week with my fiancee leaving for boot camp. She didn't want me to sit at home and have a pity party. hehe. We went to look at wedding dress ideas (although I didn't try any on yet), and I took her to see the downtown Indianapolis library because it's my dream wedding venue. :) While I was there I went to hear YA author Patricia McCormick speak and got some books signed. (Stay tuned for a giveaway - I grabbed an extra copy of Sold for one of you to win!)

Here's how my classes went this week. 

Youth Services: We had Current Trends presentations, but we did not all get to go on the first night because our class is so big this semester. I really enjoyed some of the ideas for programs and services that my classmates offered - particularly with regards to serving homeschool students, offering gaming at the library, and collecting graphic novels. One classmates also offered some awesome ideas for incorporating the paranormal trend into programming for teens. I'll present my research on teens and eReading soon, but the next time we meet will be for a field trip to the downtown Indianapolis library. The children's area there is amazing!

Electronic Materials for Children and Young Adults: This week the topic was Databases. I've become familiar with several databases while in library school, and I really wish I knew more about them when I was a student! The homework option I chose this week was to compare two databases for young adults. I chose Gale's Opposing Viewpoints in Context and EBSCO's Student Research Center - both are excellent resources, but the former requires a subscription while the latter is available for free for Indiana residents thanks to our state library. I won't bore you with the 1500 words I wrote about the databases, but I highly recommend you check them both out if you plan to work with young adults in a public or school library! 

Adult Readers' Advisory: We had to cram 2 weeks of class into one night because of last week's snow day. We had a guest speaker who showed us a lot of cool things about Wikipedia since we'll all be creating pages for books that don't yet have an entry. We also had a Goodreads tutorial and learned how to add content to our group page. We discussed review sources and the experiences we had when trying to write Kirkus-style reviews. Finally we had our first genre discussion on Suspense and Thrillers. Three students presented on books they read within these genres and discussed their appeal to readers. Next week: Adventure & Romantic Suspense! 

In My Mailbox (37)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It's a time for everyone to share what books they acquired over the course of the week. I'll share what I received in the mail, bought at bookstores, downloaded to my Nook, or picked up from the library.

In the mail: 
- Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult (ARC)

From Half Price Books: 
- Bookends by Jane Green
- Size 12 Is Not Fat by Meg Cabot
- Size 14 Is Not Fat Either by Meg Cabot
- Big Boned by Meg Cabot
- Walking in Circles Before Lying Down by Merrill Markoe

What's in your mailbox this week? 

January 29, 2011

Events I Wish I Could Attend

Today is the Indianapolis Youth Literature Conference. Scheduled presenters are Brian Pinkney, Andrea Davis Pinkney, and Patricia McCormick. One of my co-workers is attending, but I have to work today. I may get to go to a book signing with Patricia McCormick tomorrow, though. :) 

Also today - the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library is hosting a Grand Opening Event

On March 5 is a Brunch and Bookfair with 15 Indiana Authors and Illustrators. Some of the authors include Saundra Mitchell, Christine Johnson, Julia Karr, and Margaret McMullan (who was one of my undergrad English professors - her most recent book, Sources of Light, was just named to the 2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults list!). I have to work on this day too.Why do all the cool events happen on Saturdays? If you're like me and you can't attend this event, you can still support the bookfair online (details here). Proceeds benefit the Indiana region of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. 

What awesome author events are happening where you live? 

Library Love (7)

I noticed that when I talk about libraries with friends and family members, they often say, "I didn't know libraries offered that!" Library Love is a feature in which I share many different reasons for people to use and love their local library. Some things I mention may be obvious to those of you who routinely use your public library, but others may be new to you. Either way I hope that this feature inspires you to visit and support your local library! 
7. Listen to a wide variety of music by borrowing CDs or downloading MP3s. 

Are you a music lover? You may be surprised to learn that many libraries have a large collection of CDs available for checkout within their Multimedia area. From popular to classical music, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Your library may organize CDs by genre or just alphabetically by the artist's last name. Some library, such as the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library, have a section on their website where they list new CD arrivals and the most popular albums. If you don't find what you are looking for at your library, you may even be able to request an Interlibrary Loan of a CD (depending on your local policies). 

Some libraries are starting to offer digital downloads of MP3 music files along with their eBooks and audiobooks. For example, Contra Costa County Library offers music downloads in several genres: Blues, Choral, Classical, Concertos, Opera, and Orchestral. 

Have you ever checked out music from your library?

January 27, 2011

Review - One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

Ex-lingerie buyer Stephanie Plum finds herself unemployed and down on her luck. After pawning off most of her possessions and getting her car repossessed, she is desperate for a paycheck. Stephanie takes a position as a skiptracer for her bail bondsman cousin, Vinnie, despite the fact that she has absolutely no experience in bounty hunting. Her first assignment is to bring in Joe Morelli, a vice cop who is wanted for the murder of Ziggy Kulesza. Even with the potential $10,000 paycheck from bringing in Morelli, Stephanie is not thrilled to run into him again. After all, he took her virginity in high school and then never called. They also had a memorable encounter in the past in which she accidentally-on-purpose hit him with her car. 

Stephanie has a lot to learn about bounty hunting, so she enlists the help of Ranger, the best in the business (at least in Trenton, New Jersey). She learns how to use a gun but discovers she is too scared to actually shoot someone. This makes apprehending Morelli particularly difficult. After a handful of encounters with him, she still isn't able to bring him in, and he's even used her own handcuffs against her. Morelli claims that he shot Ziggy in self defense and that the witnesses could vouch for the truth of his story, yet Stephanie has trouble tracking down those witnesses. 

As Stephanie stalks Morelli and the shooting witnesses, she also finds herself in a twisted cat-and-mouse game with heavyweight champion boxer Benito Ramirez (the murder victim's employer). His violent, psychopathic threats shake Stephanie to her core. 

This fast-paced novel has just the right mix of mystery, suspense, humor. The sexual tension builds between Stephanie and Morelli over the course of the story as well. While most of the secondary characters are one-dimensional, Stephanie is an underdog that the reader can't help rooting for. She's just a normal girl with a sassy attitude (and terrible fashion sense) who finds herself in over her head with her new job as she tries to make ends meet. 

Evanovich's writing is a bit unsophisticated. However, the author does not apologize for the books she writes. Evanovich explains, "If you want to cry, you're not going to like my books...If you want a really good plot, you're not going to like my plots. My books have pizza and cussing and sexy guys" (Cruz, 2006). Let's be honest - sometimes you just crave pizza even though you know that a salad is better for you. It's the same way with books - sometimes you just crave a juicy, entertaining read instead of something more literary. Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series just became my new guilty pleasure. 

Cruz, G. (2006, June 2). How Janet Evanovich broke through. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved from http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,1199996,...

January 26, 2011

Product Review - Bookends from CSN Stores

Recently I posted about an upcoming review of another CSN product. I decided to go with some bookends I've had my eye on for awhile.

The bookends shipped two days after I ordered them, and they took two more days to arrive. I was very satisfied with how quickly they shipped and the fact that shipping was free! They were packed well with plenty of bubble wrap, so they arrived in perfect condition.

I decided to use the bookends to create a new shelf over my fireplace since I'm running out of room on my bookshelves! I love the way they look. Right now I have all my classic novels on display, but I may switch them out if I get bored.

Once again I was very satisfied with my CSN shopping experience. Here are some pictures so you can see the bookends "in action":

Wednesday Web Wanderings (39)

This is a collection of interesting book- and library-related things I've come across online this week. Check 'em out!

Happy reading!

January 24, 2011

Contest winner

I'm pleased to announce that the winner of a signed copy of XVI by Julia Karr is alterlisa. I'll be contacting you by e-mail soon! Congratulations! 

If you didn't win, stay tuned for future contests. I may get to a book signing this weekend...but I'll let you know who the author is later. ;) 

It's Monday: What Are You Reading? (31)

What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted over at Book Journey where bloggers gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.

I finished: 

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich (audiobook)
One for the Money (Stephanie Plum, No. 1)

I haven't finished much in the past 2 weeks because grad school started back up and took over my free time. :)

I am currently reading: 

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman (audiobook)
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt: A Novel

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (eBook)
Wuthering Heights (Norton Critical Editions)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling (reread)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: 10th Anniversary Edition (Harry Potter)

Dracula's Guest: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Vampire Stories 

I started this one last fall but never finished it. It's a great read, but it's over 400 pages, so I'm struggling to finish it. I'm trying to read a little bit each week so that I'll eventually finish it! 

Next up: 

XVI by Julia Karr

If you're interesting in winning a signed copy of this book, click on the Contests tab above. I'll be announcing the winner later this evening, so you still have some time to enter! 

What are you reading?

Grad school reflections: Week 2 of my final semester

Well, this was an interesting week! Because of MLK day and a lot of snow (by Indiana standards), none of my classes on campus met this week, but we still did some work from home. I'm glad I had a little extra time at home to spend with  my fiancee because he left for boot camp this weekend. He's a full-time police officer, so he is going to join the Marine Reserves which will allow him to return to work once his training is over. I am really proud of him and happy that he's pursuing this, but it will definitely be lonely at home without him. He pointed out that I'll have a lot more reading time while he's gone. hehe. I'm hoping that grad school and work will keep me busy enough that the time will pass quickly! Here's what I was working on this week: 

Youth Services: We did not meet because of MLK day. At home I worked on my Current Trends assignment. My topic is teens and eReading. I read a ton of articles, but I think what helped me the most was the 2010 Kids and Family Reading Report from Scholastic. My classmates and I will be presenting on our topics this evening, and I look forward to a variety of interesting topics. 

Electronic Materials for Children and Young Adults: This class went on as usual because it's online only.  Our topic this week was web-based pathfinders and social bookmarking. I've had some experience creating pathfinders since I was a high school teacher for a few years and have contributed to my library's homeschool pathfinders as well. We had a few options for activities and discussion posts, but I chose to focus on social bookmarking and create a Delicious account since I didn't already have one. I can't believe I've never used Delicious before - it's so easy! I can definitely see how it could be used in school or public libraries to point people toward credible and age-appropriate websites. Have you used Delicious before? What do you think of it? 

Adult Readers Advisory: It snowed  a lot on the day of class, so the instructor cancelled just to be on the safe side. A lot of my classmates have a long drive, and the roads were terrible. At home we read several journal articles on Writing about Reading and The Readers Advisory Interview. We joined the Goodreads group for our class (where we'll post our reading annotations) and created Wikipedia user accounts (where we'll add information about our favorite books that don't have entries yet). I'm looking forward to next week when we start discussing suspense and thrillers! 

January 23, 2011

In My Mailbox (36)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It's a time for everyone to share what books they acquired over the course of the week. I'll share what I received in the mail, bought at bookstores, downloaded, or picked up from the library.

In the mail: 
- No books this week, but I did get some awesome bookends from CSN! Stay tuned for my review. 

From the library book sale / Half Price Books: 
- Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller 
- The Crucible by Arthur Miller
- Bel Canto by Ann Pratchett
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
- Feed by M.T. Anderson
- Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
- Postcards from No Man's Land by Aidan Chambers
- Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

From the library (not pictured): 
- Pitch Black by Susan Crandall
- Seeing Red by Susan Crandall 
- Sleep No More by Susan Crandall 

I'm going to read one of the Susan Crandall books for my Readers Advisory class when we discuss Romantic Suspense. I haven't decided which one yet - they all look interesting! 

What's in your mailbox this week? 


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