RSS

After everyone

Cue Semisonic’s “Closing Time” and that’s how I’m feeling about reading Delia Owen’s Where the Crawdads Sing.

Yes I know that the movie was just released in 2022 and no, I haven’t watched it. I know that whenever a movie comes out there’s a resurgence in reading the book if it hadn’t been read before (or lovers of the book re-reading it) but still, the height of obsession with the book is well past since it was published in 2018 which seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago all at once. Yet the most wonderful thing about books is there really isn’t ever an expiration date and it can be read and reread at any time. It was a few days ago that finally after seeing it pop up again somewhere in my internet travels that I decided it was time.

I listened to the audiobook which annoyingly had a cover update from the movie (I hate that) but beside a captivating narrator, I found that for as popular with book clubs and reading circles, pop culture lists and Goodreads Choice Awards, I didn’t know anything about the book. It was what I hold dear about reading the book for the first time in 2023 because other than it’s general popularity, I didn’t know a single tidbit of what awaited me which is why my respect for the book deepened. I got to read the book as myself, not as anyone else or through anyone else. My own experiences interpreted what Kya was experiencing. My own experiences sensed the marsh. My own experiences greeted the characters.

For readers who have moved on, having a conversation about the book has well-passed since vivid thoughts about the book fade over time as new books crowd out the memory of the older books. But I wanted to celebrate here that a book is evergreen. It never goes out of style whether it’s 10 days old or 10 years old. As I wrote this sentence, I remembered Chicken Every Sunday by Rosemary Taylor, a book published in 1943 that was often read by soldiers during World War II. It was mentioned in the book When Books Went to War by Molly Guptill Manning. I promptly went to my indie bookseller who found a 1943 copy of Chicken Every Sunday that I bought, took home, read cover to cover with a cup of tea and my blanket, and sat in the experiences of from a half-century ago, but felt like it was yesterday.

Cheers to timeless stories.

Advertisement
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 18, 2023 in Adult, Audiobooks, Fiction, Reflections

 

Series alert: Something is Killing the Children

When I was making my top lists of 2022 and finishing up the year of reading, I noted that there were a handful of books on my lists (as I narrowed them down and that made the lists themselves) that were series. I have a love/hate relationship with series but I’ve learned to accept them as a natural course of publishing and creativity. Several years ago I decided that if I wasn’t completely obsessed with the first book in a planned series, that I wouldn’t continue reading the series out of obligation. Instead, I would have enough to be able to recommend the series to audiences. And with so many books out there to read, spending time reading ones I weren’t in love with wasn’t making anyone happy.

Enter this comic series, Something is Killing the Children, written by James Tynion IV, illustrated by Werther Dell’Edera, and colored by Miquel Muerto and published by BOOM! Studios. I have read up to the twenty-first issue through Hoopla and looking on BOOM!’s website, it says that issue 21 is available but then I see that there is a fifth published volume that includes issues 21-25, so I’m going to have to visit my local comic book store to check this out. To fill my time and the gap in waiting, it was introduced to me this weekend that House of Slaughter existed, telling the backstory of one of the Orders of St. George and the namesake house that main character, Erica Slaughter comes from in the series.

And Erica as a character is the strongest part of the series. Readers want to follow her journey of slaying monsters and sassing law enforcement. This is in addition to the creatively drawn monsters that haunt the woods and kill children, the gore of the action sequences that are dark and haunting but aren’t so ridiculously bloody that it is gratuitous. On a whim I borrowed the first volume and was shocked by how much I got into the characters, setting, and story because the comic series is a well-rounded mix of it all.

I’ll be over here waiting for the next issue and looking around the house to figure out what my totem would be.

 

Last and first

Other bookish people likely do the same thing, right? They plan their last book of a calendar year and the first one of the new year. I have been doing this for a few years now and while they don’t always work out to the five-star reads I want them to be in my head, not all books can be winners and that’s life.

But this year I can confidently say I chose well.

My last book of 2022 was

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

I bought this about a month at my indie bookstore on a whim. I rarely buy books that I haven’t read before but the hype around the book has been so overwhelming that I went ahead and bought it. Then it was clear by the beginning of December that I would save it for my last book of the year.

Vacation reading is often trying to cram as many books in as I can while still being productive and extroverted for holiday activities, so I actually waited until December 30th to read the first few chapters and then I could roll into the rest of the book on New Year’s Eve. The problem is that we had company for the better half of the afternoon, but I hunkered down with my champagne and white cranberry and finished about 11:45pm- in time to watch the ball drop and be filled with the love and admiration of Garmus’s writing AND how she created the most loveable and unique characters. It’s as funny as it is sad reminding me of a combination of The House in the Cerulean Sea by Klune and Lab Girl by Hope Jahren.

So the clock strikes midnight, I toast my cranberry champagne with my husband and kids, get a good night’s rest and wake up knowing that my first book of the new year awaited.

My first book of 2022 was

The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston

In part, I chose this one because the color palette matched Garmus’s book. It’s a book that I saw a lot via social media and I also have read (and loved) Poston’s YA, plus it came in from the library several weeks ago so it was already on my TBR pile.

Just like Elizabeth Zott in Lessons in Chemistry, Florence Day is a main character I’ll remember. Her voice is unmatchable. With its mix of magical realism and new adult humor, it combines nicely with the sexy romance and Day’s day job as a ghostwriter of romance novels who does not believe that love wins anymore. As a book nerd, Day’s day job makes our word-loving hearts sing. In addition, I’m a cemetery walker who is curious about death, so Day’s family’s ownership of a funeral home and her unique upbringing is My Girl meets The Lovely Bones and would be something a Colleen Hoover reader should check out. The two twists in the last third of the book make it all the more indulgent and creative.

Now, onto a year filled with books in all their iterations with plenty of tea on the side.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 1, 2023 in Adult, Authors, Fiction

 

Top 5 of 2022: Favorite blog posts

I needed one more TOP list of 2022, so I decided to look back at my posts from this year and highlight my five favorites.

  1. Obituaries: I’m still reading the obituaries every day. I’m still always looking out for an old cemetery to wander around. And I love discovering articles like this one about etching recipes on gravestones (and the woman who went on a quest to make the recipes and revisit the graves).
  2. Fifteen Years: I waxed poetic about my fifteens years in school librarianship.
  3. She’s A Ten, But…: I took the meme and made it my own. Anyone else pack a pile of books to bring to a place that you wholeheartedly know you won’t be able to read ANYTHING but yet, you still need to be prepared?
  4. Down the Rabbit Hole: When one book leads to another or a learning opportunity or a documentary to learn more. I did this with Chernobyl but I’ve also done it with fungi, medicine, and more.
  5. Saga‘s Lesson: Patience: My ode to the best comic series because as much as I want Staples and Vaughan to hurry the heck up, I also never want the series to end.
 

Top 10 of 2022: Young adult books edition

And rounding out the last four posts is my young adult top 10 because that’s who I spend the most amount of time reading and recommending for as a high school librarian. I’ve had the best time reviewing all of my reading this year to be able to pick out the top 10 of each target audience and from conferences to reader’s advisory, telling people to READ THESE BOOKS. So here they are!

I get chills just thinking about my reading memories with these titles which run the gamut of graphic to nonfiction, memoir and historical fiction with some of the best darn authors out there. I think in each one of these books there were lines and pages that I Post-it’ed to go back and reread and experiences that made me into a better human being. Plus, the best kinds of books lead you to other discoveries and I can say that each one of them led me to at least one other book or Google search.

Cheers to the book memories of 2022 and the new ones I’ll make in 2023!

 

Top 10 of 2022: Middle grade edition

Middle grade needs it’s own category this year because I spent an inordinate amount of time reading the excellent selections of middle grade titles this year. It was a banner year for sure. Today I celebrate middle grade and tomorrow I’ll round out my four posts with the best of young adult.

When I look back at this titles as graphic novels, verse, manga, fiction, and nonfiction, I can’t help but celebrate the range, depth, and breadth of creativity and sensitivity for an age of transition. I should know since I have two thirteen year old boys myself. The message of perseverance; the power of individuality; the adventure; the need to remember the past and explore the future– it’s all here in these titles. If you’ve missed any one of these, you MUST pick it up.

 

Top 10 of 2022: Children’s book edition

And next up are my favorite children’s books of 2022, again from books actually published in 2022. Tomorrow I will share my favorite middle grade books before finishing up with young adult.

With a few words about these books– mind blowing, that’s all I can say! The skill of the power of an author and illustrator or when they are one person, the skill of reaching into a reader’s soul and pulling out the best (or worst) of the rainbow of human experiences and emotions is worth celebrating. Typically ones that touch me the most are ones that bring out a memory of my own childhood or a shared experience to reflect on as these all do.

 

Top 10 of 2022: Adult books edition

The last week of the year is here! I spent last week looking over my reading from this year to pick the best of the best. As always, my lists are books published in 2022, not everything I’d read in 2022 that would make it to my top 10 lists, which makes it a true listicle of the best books of the year.

For 2022, I have four lists I’ll share each day this week, starting with my top 10 adult books. It’ll continue with children’s books, then middle grade, and end with YA.

In a few sentences, I will sum up my top 10 adult books– a mix of fiction and nonfiction in all of the formats that I love from audiobooks to graphic novels. They are books that are escape or slice-of-life, they are true stories that will make you cringe and others that will help to celebrate the good in life. Either way, I can’t help but look over the covers and remember a time, a place, a favorite part that I will take with me from 2022.

 

Thankful

… for a colibrarian who works like jelly to peanut butter

… for our library teaching assistant to adds flair from the best signage and organization to her endless energy to keep us running

… for events like our first-ever Open Mic Night last Thursday as a collaboration with a social studies teacher and musician to create a cafe environment where our students could showcase their talents in singing, spoken word, and poetry and our first of two Falcon Library After Dark nighttime fun on a Friday night

… for books to get lost in, go on adventures with, and learn from

… for Sora, Hoopla, Libby, Adobe Digital Editions, and Netgalley Shelf to access books and audiobooks digitally on the go

…. for our brand new library with it’s space, big windows, study rooms, and seating options

… for the opportunity to present to other librarians and teachers about reading and books

… for meetups with former students who have long-since graduated

… for blankets, tea, and slippers to make reading comfortable

 
 

Comic Con or bust

Last May, I wrote Pure Happiness at the Con about a busload of high school kids I took to the Saratoga Comic Con in Upstate New York. Well, dear reader, I did it again. This time MORE high school kids– thirty-eight in fact– and this, the day after a day off to spend about six hours attending a jam-packed Con full of cosplay, vendors, food, gaming, and panels. It’s no wonder a few of them fell asleep on the bus ride back.

There are several things to love about the Comic Con: while there’s always a need for more room, it is neatly packed into one section of a convention center to make it easier to keep them in one spot so as I travel around upstairs and downstairs I’ll run into small groups of them (especially the Gaming Room). I even run into graduates who were not only former students, but former club kids too now several years out of the high school enjoying what they loved then too.

The tight timeline to get the permission slips back, make sure teenagers are up and on time for the bus to leave from the high school, and that I have all of them on our return trip are enough to add a few extra grey hairs, but I wouldn’t do it for any other group. This is the same club that convinced me that I should take our Falcons to Japan and while that didn’t come to fruition (thanks, pandemic), I’ll do anything if it makes them happy. On the darkened bus, I was shown things they purchased and pictures of cosplay that they loved all while yawning.

Since I cosplayed Ms. Marvel last year, I figured I would need to up my game this year. I took a poll a few weeks back on whether I should play Alana from Saga or Coco from Witch Hat Atelier, so IYKYK, here I am as Coco in my “work in progress” cosplay (complete with a sylph my son drew on the bottom of my Peter Pan shoes so that if I had my witchy way, I could levitate.

In a convention center full of super fans, I was happy that I had several people recognize me and ask to take my picture– isn’t that the ultimate compliment of a cosplay well played? I know I have more work to add some extras, but for a few weeks of shopping, I think I repped Coco well (and added my brush buddy to boot).

The stress of the beginning of a school year always adds some extra pressure, but planning a field trip ups the ante and a short turnaround time even more so. Luckily there are some fabulous people to assist including a teaching assistant at the high school who runs the Con’s social media and also helps with Japanese Culture Club, though during the Con, she’s busy running panels and taking photos. Then there is a new intern at the school who has been helping out at our club, adding a Pokemon League for some of our students, who was the second chaperone.

There’s always May, however, I’ve got a plan for another field trip– something a little different if I can manage it before the year is out. It wouldn’t require cosplay, but it would include one of my favorite indulgences (and again, a busload of high schoolers!)

Our Falcons came, saw, and conquered the Con. Now, today, Sunday, I rest.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 13, 2022 in Comics, Events, Manga