Saturday, September 27, 2014

Irony: A Live Action Exercise in Banning Books

Hey guys.

This week I was on WKXR 1260 AM radio discussing Banned Books Week, I wrote a column for the Courier-Tribune about the same and I have been posting like a fool on the Library’s Facebook page about it, too.

Why? What’s the big deal? Why am I so puffed up on this particular subject? I’ll attempt to explain by giving an example that happened this week.

In California, in a middle school, school media coordinators (that’s a fancy name for the school media specialist) responded to a request from a parent to remove the book “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green by removing the school’s three copies from the shelves. This during Banned Books Week, and all.
Now, you know already how I feel about John Green and of course, we’ve had a lot of jabber on this page about TFIOS. But that’s only the salt in the wound for me. It could be any book that would get me whipped up into a towering rage. Leave the book on the shelf. (http://www.hypable.com/2014/09/25/fault-in-our-stars-banned-book/)

The parent’s complaint was that Green novel contained too much graphic or crude language, smoking, sex and she did not think a book about kids with cancer was appropriate for her own child to read.

Here’s the thing, she can make that decision for her own child. But she cannot make that decision for anyone else's children. Period. If I could write an open letter to the lady who made this request, it would go like this:

Dear Concerned Parent,

We receive and respect your wish that we remove the book from the shelves of our school media center. We understand that you feel it may contain inappropriate content for your child. However, we will not remove the book from the shelves at this or any time. Many of the books in the media center contain uncomfortable content. You retain the right to decide what your child can read. Other parents will decide on their own without your input. Children whose parents do not mind if they read this book must be allowed access to it, for educational purposes. Your complaint has been noted and logged.

Thank you.

The Staff

I strongly feel that your opinion is yours to hone. However, you can only influence another’s opinions by sharing your ideas with them. You cannot limit their attempt to gain information for themselves, no matter how concerned you are about that. It’s a well-meaning thing, to warn someone. It is wrong to prevent them access.

And that’s why I get so ill. It is terrible to me when good books are taken from the reach of readers who need to be free to discover them whenever they want.

So, now that Banned Books Week is at an end, what will you do to be an activist, like me and Librarian R, to spread awareness of banned books?
Answer in the comments. DFTBA.

Dave

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Rambles

Happy Friday, y'all!

I know, it's been a hot minute, but I promise I only blinked and two weeks passed. How does Time do that? (And who knows how to make it slow down a little? I could definitely use some slower time...)

I've got some super random Friday rambles for you today, because it's been that kind of week: quick, a little weird, and exceptionally random. I'm choosing to blame leftover effects of last week's solar flare/storms. Space stuff can seriously effect earth things, y'all.

Movies
It would seem that not only is this fall a crazy busy season for awesome new YA books coming out, but there are also several decent/exciting looking movies too. Including not a few based on YA books, so yay YA! There are lists everywhere featuring the whole books-to-movie phenom, but I like this one at the YALSA Hub (I like most of their lists, they do an excellent job listing).

The Hobbit
Okay, so maybe you'll get tired of this before the movie comes out ... but I hope not. Because I am totally psyched, and I like to share my enthusiasm with y'all! A "tapestry" of images from the new movie has been released ... Snippets of scenes and tastes of things to come. It's intriguing.
Also intriguing? This newly released poster:
It's no secret that I am a major Elf fangirl, and there should be quite a bit of important Elven Activity on the screen in December. I'm excited.

When Librarians Write Books
I just finished reading this incredibly cute book, A Little Something Different. I absolutely loved the book, it's quite possibly the cutest thing I've read all year, and when I got to the end and realized the author is a Teen Librarian? Hello, this got a lot more amazing. Perhaps one day I can say that I've written something half as fun.

Football
If this, like the Hobbit thing, gets old, I'm sorry. But tomorrow is a Big Game in my universe (Florida at Alabama!), and I am so happy to be able to spend my weekends curled up and watching games again. I've missed this.

Candy Corn
Does anything else really need to be said? I prefer to buy the big bags of the autumn mix, so I have a perfect blend of yellow & chocolate candy corns and those amazing pumpkins. I noticed the other day the expiration date isn't until next July - I may or may not end up buying some bags to stash for future needs.

And finally ...
Talk Like A Pirate Day
Honestly, I've never quite gotten this 'holiday' ... Maybe because I didn't get swept into the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, or maybe because I just completely missed something. And I do like to read historical fiction about pirates, which perhaps makes it weirder ... Whatever the reason, it's not exactly my cup o' tea, but for those who love it:
Arr, 'ave a grrrrreat day, mateys! 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Review: Tris and Izzie

In addition to being a major bookworm, I'm also somewhat of a literature geek. (It was one of my majors in college). I love American literature, but there's a special place in my heart for British and Medieval lit. Especially Medieval. I actually took two semesters' worth of Medieval lit, and was very tempted to go to graduate school for it, but the foreign language requirements were just too daunting. With that said, I've been meaning to pick up Tris and Izzie for a while - it's said to be a modern version of one of my favorite Medieval tales "Tristan and Isolde". This summer, I made time in my reading agenda to indulge.

Tris and Izzie
Mette Ivie Harrison

I'd like to begin this review by saying this book is not what it's supposed to be. In fact, the only real connection it has to the original story are the main character names. And the fact that the romantic relationships are a little tangled/complicated (but even they have substantial deviations). With that made clear, I'd like to say the book is not bad it is just different. While it wasn't what I was expecting, it was an interesting and engaging read - and a quick one.

I've seen many reviews online where people just weren't crazy about this one - I can see that. Especially if they were expecting the original story (not that I'm holding a grudge or anything). It's one of those contemporary world fantasies that very much demands "willing suspension of disbelief" from the reader - as well as the sense of humor to appreciate the almost ridiculous nature of some parts. Is it a work of great literature? Nope, not even close. Is it a fun, maybe a little weird, novel to while away a few hours? Totally.

Other than telling you there's magic and friendship and a weird double-world, I'm not going to give you much by way of content review. I want you to go into this reading for curious enjoyment - and then tell me what you think.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Friday Ramble

Here it is guys ... the last Friday of Summer.

I'm going to let that sink in for a moment.
The last Friday of Summer.
A whole season has gone by, and that carefree, school-free delight we call "Summer" has ended.

Where on earth has time gone?
I can't be the only one who glances at the calendar and blinks in surprise at how much of 2014 has already happened. (If I am, please just smile and nod).

I've always been a big fan of Summer. My birthday is smack in the middle, I love the warmth and soaking up the sun. Before I landed this job, I had every summer off ((academic schedules are amazing - cherish them, my student readers, cherish them while they last!)) -- something I find myself rather missing now that I'm on duty all day, every day. There's something wonderful about lazy summer days, reading in the shade or having adventures.

As I've gotten older though? I really appreciate Fall - and not just because football returns ((less than a week, y'all!)). I love the way the light changes, and everything glows with a warm brush of fiery gold. I love fall sunsets, and the way the color lingers - not to mention the incredible blue of our October-in-Carolina day skies. The return of sweaters and scarves is like the return of old friends, warm and familiar.

This year is no different (although I've been wearing quite a few sweaters in the Library all summer - when our AC works, it works, y'all!). I've enjoyed this summer season - the frenetic energy of summer reading, the hot days and stormy nights. But as things get quieter, the days shorter and (sometimes) cooler, there's a happy contented feeling sinking into my soul. Fall is good. Fall is here. Fall is new - new books, new adventures, new discoveries.

With a fond smile, I bid adieu to Summer, and open my arms wide to all Fall has to offer.

What about you? Do you have a favorite season? Do the seasons affect or influence your reading habits and/or choices?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Review: Better Off Friends

Y'all, August is here. Summer reading is officially over ((CONGRATULATIONS to the winners!)), and it was an amazing year of participation! You guys did a lot of reading, and that makes my heart happy. Y'all are reading rockstars!

"Summer reading" doesn't have to end just because a contest or promotional period ends, though! I have a shelf on goodreads that I call my "summer reads" -- the books I put there are books that make me feel summery, whether I read them in December or July. They can be about summer, or they can just be ... summery. Which is to say: summer reading is a state of mind, so let's enjoy these summer reads for as long as we can ((and let's face it, if another Ice Storm happens, we're definitely going to want a warm, summer book)). To that effect, one of my favorite reads of the summer: Better Off Friends

Better Off Friends
Elizabeth Eulberg

If you've never read an Elizabeth Eulberg book before, you need to. She has this great, easy-to-read style of writing, and her contemporary YA stories are populated with fun characters that are super easy to relate to.  Better Off Friends is her latest novel, and I think it might be my favorite (so far).

Our main characters, Macallan and Levi, have been best friends from (almost) the first moment they met in middle school. In spite of what everyone says, they are just friends, although the closeness of their bond makes their romantic relationships ... interesting. (Some of the date stories had me giggling). But if you're a girl, and your best friend is a guy, can you keep it platonic forever? Or will something More creep in, when you're least expecting it? That's what these two have to figure out, navigating both the difficult waters of high school and a treasured friendship that is getting more and more complicated.

I loved Macallan and Levi. Their chemistry is amazing, their antics had me laughing, and watching their friendship progress was a true-to-life read. The story is told in alternating points of view, so we get to know both Levi and Macallan, and see how each handles and interprets everything. (Sidenote: I think I'm growing increasingly fond of the dual-perspective novel, when it's handled well, and gives a deeper understanding of the characters). 

This is a fun, quick read that is a celebration of friendship, but isn't too fluffy or sappy - there's some genuine drama here, y'all! (The good kind, not the annoying kind). In short, I enjoyed every minute. Perfect for a summer afternoon.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Friday Rambles

Y'all. I started this post last week (which was a very long and zany week), and somehow never got it finished. So how about a (completely rewritten) Friday ramble this week instead? And don't worry, I have more reviews in the works ... 

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

This one really doesn't need explaining, does it? In case you have somehow missed it, behold the gloriousness of the first teaser trailer:

 

And we can't forget the epic awesomeness of this poster either:
Okay, so yes, I'm a total geek (you have probably figured it out by now), but the combination of the trailer and poster releasing this week left me slightly hyperventilating and completely without words. I am so ready for this final experience, and have high hopes for a truly epic ending. 
Yes, Thorin, I will follow you anywhere one last time.

You know ... I would normally keep listing things that have my attention, because Fridays are supposed to be fun and lovely and random, but there's really nothing I can top that with: it has been The Highlight of my week, in terms of social and/or cultural developments. (Now you know the truth: The Librarian is really, really weird. Also, she calls herself the Elven Librarian on a regular basis, so she takes this Middle Earth/Elves thing very seriously). 

I did read this blogpost that made me chuckle -- I give the author mad props for being able to break down her thoughts on such a second-by-second basis.

Oh, and if you want to indulge in a bit of uber-geekery of your own, the official The Hobbit facebook page has a lot of fun pictures and things from ComicCon. I've never done the con thing, but how awesome would it have been to meet-&-greet (or at least selfie!) the actors who bring these characters I love so much to life???

There we have it ... a Friday ramble with a single item. A delightfully Middle Earth-centric post that revels in geekery. You've got to admit though: that trailer is incredible.

What's caught your attention this week?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Big Reveal!

I cannot say enough about Mr. Brendan Reichs and his presentation. From February until this last week, he’s been very dependable about communicating with me and planning for his program. And it’s not easy planning something so many moths out, especially for a successful YA author.
He spoke a little about the TV show, Bones, based on the books his mother, Kathy Reichs, has written. He spoke about some of the processes that medical examiners use in determining cause of death; all very fascinating.
'Virals' series author, Brendan Reichs.
The best part of his presentation, however, was when he delved into his own books, which he co-authors with his mother, the Virals series.
If you’ve been reading my posts, you know that I appreciate and also expect writers to be good at what they do. It’s also reasonable, when creating a series, to expect that the characters and settings become more solid and believable as the series progresses and the author becomes more keen to the task.
If you haven’t read these books yet, I highly recommend them. Say what you like about YA series fiction, Mr. Reichs has a gift. And I’m not just flattering him.
The stories revolve around Tory Brennan, niece of acclaimed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan (of the Bones novels and hit TV show). She and a group of friends wind up getting infected by a human strain of the parvovirus, which gives them hyper-sense abilities. Here’s the best part, though: they cannot use these abilities at will and they cannot tell anyone about it, because they don’t want to be captured for experimentation.
Now, add awesome bad guys and a cool setting, like Charleston, South Carolina, and you have a really special series.
So far, there have been four novels, ‘Virals’, ‘Seizure’, ‘Code’ and ‘Exposure’, as well as two novellas that are in ebook format only. Yesterday Brendan Reichs not only revealed the name of the upcoming novel in the series, he gave us an idea of when to expect it, and showed us the cover.
The group at his presentation were among the first people to see the cover. I’d say that’s pretty exciting. I’ve never been to an author talk and gotten a spoiler like that. It hammered the presentation home, though and it was a great surprise.
Now, I didn’t get Mr. Reichs’ permission to reveal the title and I don’t have a jpeg of the cover, so I cannot divulge anything yet, suffice it so say the minute the title goes up on his site, (http://brendanreichs.com) you’ll see it here. If you missed the presentation, don’t worry, there will be more great author talks and opportunities to interact with your favorite YA authors in the near future.
For more on our coming events, check out the ‘Teens’ tab at randolphlibrary.org and don’t forget to check back to this blog, for more posts from The Librarian R and yours truly.

Dave.