Thursday, May 21, 2015

Graphic Novel Review: "The Infinite Wait and Other Stories" by Julia Wertz

I guess I've kind of been binge-reading Julia Wertz lately.  I really enjoyed Drinking at the Movies, which was her first big-publisher book.  I read Fart Party Vol. 1 (which I did not discuss here) but was her first published book ever, and now The Infinite Wait which is a more recent, yet not her latest, work.  I'm getting there.

The biggest reason that I didn't write about Fart Party Vol 1, is that everything about it shows that it is her first published effort.  It is funny, but is made up of mostly disconnected (and kind of spastic) scenes that make it more of a pick it up for a few pages book rather than a read through it all kind of book.  I already knew that she was getting better, or at least closer to what I enjoy to read (if that makes any sense whatsoever).

So this effort is fantastic.  It is a set of three short stories:  Industry, all about the jobs she held while figuring out the comics business; The Infinite Wait, all about her lupus diagnosis and how it has affected her; and A Strange and Curious Place, which is all about her love of libraries.  OF COURSE I'm going to like anyone who writes about how awesome libraries are!  I am completely and unapologetically biased.

The art is all inked black & white and simply drawn.  It fits the mood and characters perfectly.  It is kind of unusual that with the second story, the artist is getting pretty personal with something that could be devastating (even fatal) but the character of herself is pretty closed off and detached so while you get and feel like you understand what she is going through to a certain extent - she is definitely in control of how much you get to feel and understand.  If something is getting a little too heavy or personal, she'll throw a crude joke in to lighten it up or distract a bit.  I don't mean this a criticism, it is actually pretty masterful how she does this - she is very specifically telling her story the way she wants to tell it and I really admire that.

The Infinite Wait and Other Stories
by Julia Wertz
Koyama Press, 2012
228 pages
Source:  Library


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Book Review & Giveaway (US/Canada): "Things You've Inherited From Your Mother" by Hollie Adams

Thirty-something Carrie Fowler has just lost her mother after a battle with pancreatic cancer and is having trouble dealing with this new reality.  She isn't getting on very well with those she works with, she is lying to pretty much everyone around her, is nearly completely disconnected from her teen daughter, and hates the fat cat she inherited from her mother.  In the midst of all of this, she has decided to write a self-help book and also a throw-back to the "choose-your-own adventure" type book.

The author lays the dry humor pretty think throughout this book.  Its a little jarring at first - after all, you are expecting something more emotional or introspective considering the main character had just lost her mother.  But once I got used to this tone, I loosened up a bit.  There is a good section in the middle that had me in near tears with laughter!  But then the ending just kind of missed for me.  

Basically, we're dealing with a main character who isn't confronting anything that is going on her life.  This eventually catches up to her once everything is a complete mess - and then its over. She isn't really a likeable character - and that's okay - but I was hoping for that redeeming moment I guess.  I did enjoy the writing style though, and very much.  It feels aggressive (in a good way - not passive which can get boring) and is at times very funny.

I received this as part of the TLC Book Tour, and am therefore able to give a copy of this book away to one of you - if you live in the US or Canada.  If you are interested in winning a copy of this book, and you live in either the US or Canada - simply comment with some way for me to get in contact with you by May 26, 2015.  (If you leave your email address, please put a space in it like yourname @ email . com)

Displaying tlc tour host.png*****

Things You've Inherited From Your Mother
by Hollie Adams
NeWest Press, 2015
170 pages
Source:  TLC Book Tours for honest review


Saturday, May 16, 2015

I graduated!!

So this thing happened yesterday, and I couldn't be more excited about it.  Yesterday afternoon, I walked across a stage and received my graduate degree.  I now officially have a Master of Science Degree from the Simmons School of Library and Information Science.  It feels so good to type that sentence out!

This is the culmination of 2 1/2 years of reading journals, writing papers, presenting on topics that range from creating websites to planning spaces for young adults in public libraries to writing grants.  I took trips to observe other libraries, story times, and their space design.  I've interviewed Library Directors, community members and others in the library field.  And that's only what I can remember right now....  for school.

During this time, I also started working in my public library.  Just after I started going to school, I became a part time library assistant in the Children's Room.  About a year later, I became the full time teen librarian.  Just a few months ago, I was promoted again to the Head of Readers' Services.  The time I spent working while in school was tough to balance, but ultimately helped me apply what I was learning directly.  I love love love my job, where I work, and the people I work with.  They have been so supportive of my educational endeavors - allowing me to switch my schedule around for classes (even calling in a sub to cover my Saturday shifts that semester I had classes every Saturday), or not questioning when I'd show up in the library on my days off to write papers in the Quiet Study room.  

Also during this time, my family has also had a lot to deal with.  My kids would start to recognize when I had big papers due because my stress levels would increase.  They understood that we couldn't go off and do some things because I had to do homework first.  They hated when I had class at night and couldn't tuck them into bed (though they do love their babysitter).  My husband also understood these things, as he is also in school - now working toward his own Masters Degree.  He also works a very strange schedule which made all of this more interesting.  Through it all, my husband and the kids gave me their love and support every day.  I absolutely could not have done this without them.  Hearing my almost six-year-old say "I'm proud of you Mom" was everything to me yesterday.

So this journey is over - and I can't wait to see what comes next!!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Graphic Novel Review: "Ms. Marvel Vol.2: Generation Why" by G. Willow Wilson

Ms. Marvel is the superhero persona of Muslim teen Kamala Khan from New Jersey.  In this volume, Ms. Marvel discovers The Inventor's evil plan, gets some assistance from other superheroes, and makes a case for the future of all teens everywhere.  Its pretty epic.

I love Ms. Marvel so very very much.  She is incredibly awesome!  She's balancing these new powers, balancing her "normal" life with her "superpower" life, and finding connections with her family and cultural values in the whole grand scheme of things.

I loved seeing Ms. Marvel interact with others - Wolverine is just the best.  I hope this means that we may see more interactions with other Marvel heroes (or villains).  I mention villains because she really does need someone decent to go up against.  The Inventor just doesn't do it for me .  I did get a kick out of his evil plan I suppose, be he, himself, is just odd to me.  But I guess we'll just see what happens in the next volume of collected books!  (I really wish I could get my act together enough to visit my local comic book store regularly, but I just can't.  And please don't tell me to look for them digitally...  I appreciate the thought and I love my Kindle Fire, but I still prefer the paper books.)

This volume collects issues #6-11.

Ms. Marvel Vol. 2:  Generation Why
by G. Willow Wilson
Marvel, 2015
136 pages
Series:  Ms. Marvel/Marvel NOW! #2
Source:  Library


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Audio Book Review: "The Light Between Oceans" by M.L. Stedman

Tom and Isabel are very happily married, very much in love, and live in complete isolation at the lighthouse 100 miles from the South Western Australian coast.  They only receive visitors once every 3 months, and that is because they bring their supplies, and they are allowed to return to the mainland once every three years, excepting major emergency situations.  They have tried for years to grow their family, but three miscarriages have broken this dream.  One day, after a particularly bad storm, a small wooden boat washes ashore.  Inside is the body of a man, and a tiny healthy baby girl wrapped in a woman's sweater.

With no one around, with their loved ones not realizing that the last pregnancy also ended in miscarriage, and assuming that the mother of the baby had also died at sea....  Tom and Isabel decide not to report what happened, and to just raise the baby as their own.  I'm not going to say that they both thought this was the best idea, but they did both agree to it.  Guilt eats away at them as the truth tries to make itself known.

The audio for this was fantastic.  Narrator Noah Taylor adds an authentic Aussie voice this book.  I loved the beautiful descriptions of the settings, especially the Lighthouse.  The characters are wonderfully developed and flawed.  They create the basis for the moral questions raised in this story.  What would you do in this situation?  What would you do if you didn't think you would get caught?  How do you go about making a wrong thing right?  I will say that I think the audio was perfect for me here because some parts were a bit slower moving than others - which worked to set the tone of the book and shape the scenes, especially those at the Lighthouse - but that may not have been enjoyable for me to read.  However, with the audio, I did confuse a couple characters whom I thought were minor but one proved to play a much bigger role in the overall story.

This is an excellent book group selection.  In fact, this was the first book I've read as part of the adult book group that I'm going to start assisting with at the library.  I'm excited to join and help facilitate this group, as well as the concerted effort I will be making to get back into adult fiction again.  I'm looking forward to a more balanced reading palate!

The Light Between Oceans
by M.L. Stedman
Narrated by Noah Taylor
Scribner, 2012
Simon & Schuster Audio. 2012
343 pages; 9 discs
Source:  Library


Monday, May 11, 2015

Bout of Books 13 Master Post

Bout of Books

Today marks the start of Bout of Books 13

This is my 6th Bout of Books.  Unlike in the past, I am not setting any sort of page goal this time around - I'm just going to do the best I can.  I have a pile of library books and personal books that I want to get through, and I've been in a bit of a reading slump since classes ended.  So if I can get some of my reading mojo back, I'll be happy.  I'm not even going to track as closely, or as many things as I usually do.  

I know a lot of participants like to post their progress every day, but I will mark my progress for each day on this post, and then do a wrap-up at the end of the week.  I'll likely write up review posts and schedule them out once the read-a-thon is finished.  

Monday 5/11:

Number of pages read today: 124
Total number of pages: 124
Books Completed :  Anything Can Happen

Notes:  Finally finished Anything, I just needed the time to sit and read the second half!  I started a new book, but was far too tired after work.  I'll get more into that one on Tuesday!

Tuesday 5/12:

Number of pages read today: 50
Total number of pages:  174
Books Completed :  Anything Can Happen

Notes:  Not a great reading day....   but I got a great night's sleep which I really really needed.  

Wednesday 5/13:

Number of pages read today: 35
Total number of pages: 209
Books Completed :  Anything Can Happen

Notes:  Didn't read as much as I wanted, but for good reason.  My brother was in town for business and we went out to dinner!  By the time we had gotten back, my allergies had given me a full-blown headache so I couldn't read for very long.  But what I read was really funny!  

Thursday 5/14:

Number of pages read today:  74
Total number of pages:   283
Books Completed :  Anything Can Happen, Things You've Inherited From Your Mother

Notes:  Finally finished my second book!  Now on to my next one - I think I'll pick up a graphic novel next...

Friday 5/15:  Graduation Day!!

Number of pages read today: 72
Total number of pages:  355
Books Completed :  Anything Can Happen, Things You've Inherited From Your Mother

Notes:  I received my Masters Degree this afternoon!!  I am now officially a Master of Library and Information Science!  It was such a wonderful day, start to finish, and I even got a little reading done in the morning.  I have no complaints whatsoever.  

Saturday 5/16:

Number of pages read today: 384
Total number of pages:   739
Books Completed :  Anything Can Happen, Things You've Inherited From Your Mother, The Infinite Wait

Notes:  Yeah, so I read more yesterday than I had all week.  It was delightful.  I really did absolutely nothing yesterday except read!  Real Life does have to creep in a little on Sunday, but I hope to finish this week out with another fantastic reading day!  

Sunday 5/17:

Number of pages read today: 133
Total number of pages:      872
Books Completed :  Anything Can Happen, Things You've Inherited From Your Mother, The Infinite Wait

Notes:  I exhausted myself today - after sitting and doing nothing but reading yesterday, I went for a 5+ mile walk, mowed the lawn and took my kids to tennis.  Also, Game of Thrones was on, so I didn't have all night to read.  But I am LOVING The Royal We right now, and will probably finish on Monday.

Notes and Final Wrap Up:  

The most important thing for me during this Bout of Books was to get my reading mojo back.  I'd say that was thoroughly accomplished.  I have also decided that reading books on a deadline - say for a book tour - is really hard for me right now.  I spoiled myself by not doing that for nearly three years, and I'm not really sure that I want to go back to that....  I'm going to have to think more on that.  I hope everyone else had a great Bout of Books!  I'll be back in the fall!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Bout of Books 13 Sign Up Post

Bout of BooksYay!  It's Bout of Books time!!  This is actually my 6th Bout of Books Readathon...  I love this because it is a week long readathon in which you challenge yourself as much as you want throughout the week.  The official blurb:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 11th and runs through Sunday, May 17th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 13 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

The end of the week will get a little busy for me as my graduation ceremony is on Friday.  But I should be able to fit some good reading time all around that.  But I kind of need this right now.  As soon as my classes ended last week, I sort of went nuts requesting all the books I didn't have time to read....  and they have now all arrived.  I still have my overstuffed TBR bookcase in my room, and now I also have piles of library books too.  And I haven't really been in the reading mood.  I've been watching TV which I never do.  Granted, I'm watching movies I've seen over and over again instead of stupid shows - but I'm not sure that is really a positive spin.  Bottom line - I need to get back into reading.  Therefore:  Bout of Books.

I will have a "Master Post" set to go on Monday, and I'll just keep updating that as the week goes on.  I'm not even going to set a challenging goal or anything...  if this helps me get my reading mojo back, then I'll be happy.  Besides, graduation!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Graphic Novel Review: "Make Me a Woman" by Vanessa Davis

This graphic memoir chronicles the life of the author/artist Vanessa Davis.  It talks about growing up Jewish and what that has meant to her, moving from her home state of Florida to New York City and then to California, and also just life as a single twenty-something.

I picked this one up because it is a graphic memoir, and I tend to really like those... but also the title & cover.  It just looked like this would be different.

And the art is very different, but it is very busy and hard for me to follow at times.  There are sketches from her diary worked in as well which sometimes stand on their own, others they seem well drawn but missing context.

There are some passages though that are a bit longer than others, and those start to tell a part of Davis's story.  But it always just kind of felt like a start.   I never really felt satisfied with what was told.  It looked as if some of it was meant to be funny, but I unfortunately did not find it so.  Honestly, this was dangerously close to being a "DNF", but I stuck it out anyway.  Not sure that was my best idea.  And in the time since I finished this book, I've wondered who is this book for?  I still don't think I can answer that question, perhaps it is just as simple as someone that is not me?  A different woman?  Someone with different background?  I really don't know.

Make Me a Woman
by Vanessa Davis
Drawn & Quarterly, 2010
176 pages
Source:  Library


Monday, May 4, 2015

Book Reviews: "Things I Can't Forget" and "Racing Savannah" by Miranda Kenneally

This post is going to be a little different.  I read both of these books in the same day as part of Dewey's 24-hour Readathon.  Normally, I would never read such similar books so close to each other...  mostly because I try to make it a point to mix it up a bit.  But I really like these books (they are part of a larger series of interconnected books) and they really seemed to fit my mood during the Readathon.  Actually, they were perfect and maybe I need to reconsider my need to always mix it up. 

In Things I Can't Forget, we meet Kate Kelly.  She's always picked on by classmates for being a "Jesus Freak", but she stands by her beliefs.  Things that happened recently though are giving her major inner turmoil:  she and her best friend were involved in a situation that has ultimately driven them apart and for which Kate feels extreme guilt.  She is trying to work through her guilt by looking for forgiveness from God.  She is spending the summer working at the summer camp run by area churches.  This is where she went when she was young, and she has fond memories - including her very first (and only) kiss.  Imagine her surprise when her partner in that kiss, Matt Brown, is also working at the camp!  He is working through issues of his own, but maybe together they can see their way free.

This was an interesting book for me, because I usually stay far away from any books that deal specifically with issues of religion and faith.  This is handled so well here though, that it ultimately was something I needed to read.  The overall theme, the one thing that Kate needs to learn, is that one person's truth is not another person's truth and that's okay.  Kate was so sheltered and naive that I really enjoyed watching her grow.  And I of course loved seeing Parker & Will from Stealing Parker play a decent role in this story as other counselors at the camp.  

Racing Savannah moves a little more into the future, and starts to look at the next group of juniors & seniors at Hundred Oaks High.  Not much of this story takes place at school though - rather this is centered at Jack Goodwin's horse ranch and various horse tracks in Tennessee and Kentucky.  Savannah has just moved to the ranch as her father is newly employed by the Goodwin family as Head Groom.  Savannah hopes to work as an with the horses to help raise money for her struggling family.  Jack and Savannah are the same age, and have an instant connection....  but there are rules that the family cannot be involved with staff on a personal level.  So Jack and Savannah are toeing a delicate line...  one wrong move could be the end of Savannah's father's job - a job he desperately needs.  

This was great.....  I really loved Savannah.  She is talented enough to do the jobs with horses that are not typically held by females, and she fights for her fair opportunity.  When Jack tries to date her, but only in secret - she stand up and says that's not good enough for her.  She deserves more.  Yeah!  I had a little issues with minor points in this book - like small things needlessly repeated or that Savannah and Rory (Will from Stealing Parker and Things I Can't Forget's younger brother) become close friends really really fast.... but its okay.  Everything else makes up for it!  

So now I am completely caught up in the Hundred Oaks series, though I think I want to at least skim through Breathe Annie, Breathe again.  The next book, Jesse's Girl is due out in July!

Things I Can't Forget
by Miranda Kenneally
Sourcebooks Fire, 2013
308 pages
Series:  Hundred Oaks #3
Source:  Library

Racing Savannah
by Miranda Kenneally
Sourcebooks Fire, 2013
286 pages
Series:  Hundred Oaks #4
Source:  Purchased New


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