Book nooks & crannies


Our family is in the middle of a large house remodeling project. Essentially we are living in half of a house.

This only poses a problem… for my books.

I recently attended two conferences in which advanced reader copies are part of the landscape. Many go to students and other librarians, but obviously a few stay behind until I read them and pass them on. Add this to the fact that I’m on an award committee and an avid reader to boot and that means that there are a lot of books in the house. I stop by the public library (in addition to working in one) at least twice weekly. Then I went and created two human beings who are also readers.

So let’s talk where you keep your books: do you have bookshelves? Bins? Are they propping up end tables? In Rubbermaid containers? Where do you put the books you’ve read versus the books that are yet-to-be-read?

I am never without a stack of TBR books in the house, which means that even if there’s a large stack, I’ll still bring home more. I need options. But then there are the books that are mine to keep and treasure for always. These books don’t mix with to-be-read books like food on my plate. Again, this poses a staging problem in our yet-to-be-finished house.

With the new addition to the house, we will have an office that I’m lovingly calling the studio. And in this studio there will be a wall of bookshelves (yes, ONE. WHOLE. WALL. I know, *swoon*). But until then, I’m moving them around and storing them in unfinished rooms, hidden in footstools, on a shelf in the basement. My forever books are on a bookshelf in our temporary bedroom, but everything else? Organized chaos everywhere. It’s still a game of nooks and crannies.

Where do you keep your books and how are they organized?


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Posted by on July 18, 2018 in Miscellaneous


Late night reading about the ladies

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It’s not often that I stay up past my (early) bedtime. But when it is, it’s usually to read a book. And this was the case with Mackenzi Lee’s companion to The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy due out in October. It’s as charming as the first, if not more so since it focuses on Felicity and her quest to become a licensed doctor.

2018-07-10 22.17.41And she’s quicker to point out, not a lady doctor “No sir… I’m determined to become a doctor. The matter of my sex I would prefer to be incidental rather than an amendment.” And so relevant now as Serena Williams is set to dominate again in a major competition who has always said she wants to be remembered as the greatest tennis player of all time, not the greatest female tennis player of all time (I think most would agree). And Felicity also reminds herself and thus readers “Your beauty’s not a tax you are required to pay in order to take up space in this world… You deserve to be here,” –another timely commentary.  These are just two of the memorable quotes throughout the adventure that showcase the power of a persevering attitude and interminable spirit after abandoning a weak marriage proposal from a baker (though how difficult it was to give up the sweets and escape to see  Monty and Percy).

Felicity is certainly the most memorable character, though I became enamored with Johanna and the relationship the two matured into after years apart. And as Johanna and Felicity find common ground in fighting against a male-dominated society threatened by the intelligence and ambition of women that’s when the plot thickens. Lee masterfully uses every page, every character, and every situation to move readers through this feminist lens of history. It’s an intelligent page-turner with memorable scenes, my favorite of which happen at the beginning when Felicity gets herself in front of the male hospital board to gain access to the doctorate program and obtain the appropriate credentials. Yet, at every turn her passion is seen as “hysterical” and the mere mention of menstruation blows the men’s minds. Readers are rooting for Felicity especially because she is so well equipped to be a doctor and that’s a testament to Lee’s character development, we’d be in line to have her as our caretaker.

While Monty and Percy make appearances, it’s truly a woman’s game and includes a wide cast of characters and secondary problem that a band of pirates, including the Muslim, Sim, who accompanied Felicity across the continent is trying to resolve.

I advise a wide readership and you don’t even need to read The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue to fall in love with Felicity in this companion. But I’d recommend you do because the doorstoppers move quickly with humor, action, and heart. I look forward to anything Lee decides to write, in or out of the world that she has created in these two, which is being aptly marketed as the Montague Siblings series.

Plus, you know it’s awesome when it’s bookstagram-worthy to boot and has a fancy, yet telling title that promises adventure that yearns to be ripped off the shelves and purchased en masse. Is it October yet?


Seafire set fire to my heart

Seafire Set Fire

You know a book is amazing when after you’re finished you give it a hug, set it down and stare at the cover, then side eye it all day long because you just don’t want to be done with that world. That’s the way I felt mid-morning yesterday after I tore through it in one sitting chugging water in this heatwave that is the first part of July in upstate New York.

It was only made sweeter when just a few weeks ago, I was brunching with Parker and a Penguin posse of authors during the American Library Association’s annual conference in New Orleans. Now I want to do it over again so we can really talk about the book, like the memorable character Caledonia. This seafaring lady wants revenge on a devious man and his henchmen, the Bullets because she was bested by one when she was young that left her family dead and her family’s ship destroyed. So the best way to do that was to get her own ship, get her own crew, and start systematically destroying his ships. She’s a strong and loving pirate who has an all-lady crew include Pisces who, like her name, is most comfortable in the water destroying the ships from below. It is a sisterhood and Parker develops each character to their fullest while allowing room for more development as the series?! continues.

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And it isn’t just one quote that I can use to pinpoint Parker’s adept writing, but one word, “steely” as a memorable phrase. Like the loveable Lumberjanes and their “friendship to the max”, Caledonia and the crew of the Mors Navis use trust and their steely capabilities to fight back since Aric Athair who keeps his Bullet soldiers plied with Silt, a drug. Her crew wants to destroy their agri-ships to first take out the drug, then his fivesons, and then him.

The action is palpable and descriptively atmospheric. I was watching a movie in my head (and while it may be tempting to make this the next blockbuster, I dearly hope not, just let us enjoy the book). I can already count the students who I will be handing it to once it’s published in August, highlighting memorable scenes like the standoff between her pirate/sister/friend Pisces when she brings aboard the Bullet who saved her life when Calendonia would no more want to see her friend dead than kill the boy, the Bullet, who did it. It’s when they discover the stowaway, Nettle, who wants to be a part of the sisterhood (if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em). It’s when Calendonia, worried that Little Lovely Hime won’t even say goodbye after she finds her way back to her family, but instead boards the ship to continue to sail with the sisterhood because they were her family when she didn’t think she had one anymore. It’s when it’s discovered that the Bullet has information that Calendonia wasn’t expecting.

The scenes are rich with sentimentality and strength. I want to befriend them all. I want to  sail the seas. I want to take down Aric Athair, but first I want to find the slick Lir and take him down first. It’s a book that I wish I could go back and re-read for the first time because it was that good. It’s a book that I don’t think I can wait too much longer to get a sequel (pick me, pick me!) but unfortunately this first book isn’t even on shelves yet. I’ll be celebrating this book birthday for sure preferably on the water, with the wind blowing through my hair, a weapon, and lady friends by my side.


#RiotGrams challenge complete

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A few times a year, I participate in Book Riot’s RiotGrams challenge via Instagram (and occasionally using Twitter), in which book lovers unit to bookstagram based on prompts they put together. My challenge is always sharing them outside my group of friends because my Instagram account is private, which is why the good ones end up on Twitter hoping to be scooped up by Book Riot to feature on their Instagram page. Alas, none made it, but I do know a local book lover who did!

So of course, I’ll share my favorites along with the book recommendation!

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The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create The World’s Great Drinks by Amy Stewart

This book was “read in one sitting” while spending a day in airports traveling to New Orleans, both because it was riveting and I couldn’t go or do anything else. Stewart’s voice is entertaining, humorous, and knowledgeable. I highlighted plenty of pages to go back and read as well as several drinks to try and plants to appreciate for their inclusion in alcoholic beverages. It’s a phenomenal purchase for your fellow drink lover, for sure.

The Summer of Jordi Perez by Amy Spalding

The summer title for appropriate as it was the solstice so I couldn’t help but capturing a book with summer in the title and a perfect beach read featuring summer employment, fashion, burgers, and a budding romance.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

A contemporary classic (don’t even try to argue with me), I have pages photocopied for easy re-reading and have re-read over the years. It’s an endearing story of a girl in the afterlife watching as pieces fall apart for her living family. Couple it with Sebold’s own biography Lucky and it’s a win-win.

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

A middle grade that speaks to the immigrant experience, Mia has pluck and perseveres managing the front desk of the motel that her parents are employed at. This was my cheat #RiotGrams for taking my book on a date because I was sitting in the backyard, by a fire, and eating a s’more the night before. Shhhhh, don’t tell! 

Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan

I will be forever grateful to Madigan for bringing this debut into the world and have mentioned before that I’m sad that she passed away after only having published one follow up. I used it for a book that should have more readers (this and North of Beautiful by Chen are brother and sister books in this respect) as it features lyrical contemporary storytelling through motif (photography in the former, cartography in the latter).


Return reflection

Return Reflection

This time last year I was returning from Chicago having met Dr. Carla Hayden, meeting the power committee for YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels who I would get to know and love over the course of the year, and lugging a heavy suitcase full of books.

Well, this year, I’m returning from New Orleans having met award-winning authors, meeting the power committee for the William C. Morris Award Committee who I will get to know and love over the course of the year, and lugging a heavy suitcase full of books.

Any librarian will tell you it’s invigorating and exhausting. My takeaways this year:

  1. Being on a committee is a positive way to give back and learn more deeply about yourself professionally.
  2. The energy of a national conference is energizing.
  3. Always taste the local food and see the sights (I will forever remember my visit to Lafayette Cemetery #1 and those shrimp and grits).
  4. If you want to meet colleagues from across the country that you’ve connected with, you have to schedule a time to meet them. Hoping to run into them in the exhibit hall or at a session is generally impossible. Schedule it!
  5. Give yourself at least a day prior to any scheduled event for travel because something could likely go wrong (learn from my past two experiences!)
  6. Work the room and have a smile on your face. And a pretty dress doesn’t hurt. My packing consists of dresses, dresses, and more dresses, so that’s easy.
  7. Don’t be afraid to go alone. I regularly attend events and activities solo. Again be sure to have a smile on your face and usually a drink (of any kind) in your hand then spark a conversation by asking questions.
  8. Have a plan for how you want to spend each day ahead of time, then plan backups B through Z if time speeds up or slows down.
    • This includes picking sessions and activities that are new to you, indulge in your interests and passions, and connect you with a wider group of professionals.
  9. Comfortable shoes.
  10. Take handwritten notes. Devices are distracting both for your own attention span and for those around you, plus research is showing that the art of note-taking by hand leads to deeper understanding and better recall later.

I had a half day to decompress and now, I’m ready for Seattle in 2019!


Sandwiches! Part II

Copy of Sandwiches Part II

In many of the social psychology and business books that I enjoy reading (Grit by Duckworth, The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath, The Power of When by Michael Breus, The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin) use an element of self-reflection to understand how your personality plays in to the scheme of things. Like your Myers-Briggs score, it’s true that a leopard doesn’t change its spots and I have been and will always be a rule follower, an upholder, a person with both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations for how I conduct my life.

It’s why when so many fell off the Edublogs year-long blogging challenge within a few weeks to months, I completed it. It’s why I enjoy a Book Riot month-long bookstagram challenge. So when I set my mind to making every sandwich in the Deering and Lentz graphic cookbook Sandwiches! I knew I’d have fun and see it through. And I’ve brought my kids along for the ride. They’re enjoying the loads of factoids along with the preparation while my husband is feeling stifled by the fact that we try to adhere as closely as possible to what’s in the book. Though there is room for experimentation!

Here are the images from the next set of sandwiches we’ve made: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert ones, oh my!


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Five for Friday

Five for Friday

Last night was the last book group meeting of the year that I facilitate through a local cooperative. With the size of the group and timing, we can usually share 1-3 books each, but I realized I’ve read so many fantastic books lately that I had a hard time choosing. So, it’s perfect for a five for Friday (and the last Friday of the school year with only one more school day left)!


Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Shamblers aka zombies are being made out of the Civil War dead in an alternative history where African Americans are still oppressed. Jane is at a combat school for African American girls where she will learn to use the tools of combat to keep people safe from shamblers. But her cheeky attitude to “remaining in her place” gets her into trouble with the powerful leaders and she’s sent away to a town out west that is off. It’s her job, along with a band of others, to discover the truth and take down these leaders while searching for answers about her mother and Red Jack. It’s an adventurous, action-oriented, imaginative story that is as intense as it is funny, ambitious, and unique.

Illegal by Eoin Colfer with Andrew Donkin and Giovanni Rigano (illustrator)

The graphic novel format does justice to the story of a fictional boy, Ebo, who along with his brother leave their homeland to cross the desert and eventually the Mediterranean to find their sister and peace. Colfer and Donkin’s storytelling and Rigano’s artwork create an emotional platform for sharing an immigrant’s journey with several scenes eliciting the same response I had to several scenes in Don Brown’s Drowned City about Hurricane Katrina. Multiple copies on order for it’s future release.

Be Prepared by Vera Brogsol

So, quick story: I’m currently doing the Book Riot Riotgrams challenge for June and Thursday’s post needed to be “ice cream/sweet treat”. Literally the day before, I read and adored Brogsol’s new graphic memoir, Be Prepared, in which she includes the Stewart’s Shops sign as she’s driving to summer camp. Stewart’s is a community-minded convenience store in our area that has amazing ice cream. So, what was a librarian to do?

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Go to Stewart’s, get a seasonal flavor (Mounds of Coconut) ice cream cone, and ask a Stewart’s employee to take a picture of me with the ice cream, Brogsol’s book, and the Stewart’s logo in the background. Mission accomplished (and the ice cream was delicious). But the book itself is everything that is right with sharing the universal experiences of tweendom. The awkwardness of making friends. The prospect of not having them and how we earn them, and who is worth our time, all while sharing pieces of her Russian culture as a Russian summer camp. The olive-toned colors bring out the story in a way that makes the expressive characters pop and readers enjoy the beauty of nature.

Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett Krosoczka

Hearing him speak this past week about the experience of writing his life’s story and turning it into a graphic novel was powerful. And while I have yet to watch the TED talk that inspired the graphic novel, it details his upbringing with his grandparents after they took him from his heroin-addicted mother (he never knew his father until later) and how he became an artist with their often tumultuous support. Yet, my favorite scene is when he pays homage to Jack Gantos (who I adore and we had the pleasure of hosting in our schools) as an impetus for his own craft. It’s raw and really real.

Teen Trailblazers: 30 Fearless Girls Who Changed the World Before They Were 20 by Jennifer Calvert and Vesna Asanovic (illustrator)

Add this to the stack of new informational nonfiction that highlight the stories of women who have accomplished something great in their lives in order to recognize the value of women throughout history. While some of them are starting to blend together, Calvert’s focuses on women who accomplished this even before they turned twenty years old is themed. The easy-to-read format features little-known and well-known women that inspire the next generation of kids to take charge in changing the culture when and where it’s needed. And it’s currency cannot be neglected since one of the women featured is Emma Gonzalez from Parkland High School in the aftermath of the school shooting in her school just several months ago.

Which one are you picking up first?