16 October 2013

The reviews, they be moving!

It probably comes as no surprise but...I like reviewing books.  I like reading books.  I mean I am a librarian after all.  And at least once a month I'm posting a review of a book on this site and I've got many, many more that I just post on LibraryThing or Amazon, without ever posting here.  Which isn't a bad thing, but given that I'm going to be reviewing even more books and that I'd like to get back into the habit of writing about libraries again here, I'm going to shift my book reviews to a Wordpess Install.  So...from now on all new book reviews will be posted over on Musing Librarian Reviews: http://ashuping.net/blog/.  I've imported the posts from this site over there, but don't worry these posts will remain here as well.

If you enjoy my book reviews, feel free to follow my new blog it should be fun!  Otherwise be prepared for my random musings upon the library world once more.

GA COMO presentation

So on October 10 2013, I presented at my state library conference, GA COMO, on the Academics of Graphic Novels.  Which sounds like it would be a long winded boring lecture, but it honestly isn't.  I don't even know how to give boring lectures to be honest.  Instead I talked about why we have graphic novels, why libraries have them, how to start a collection, and how to promote a collection.  And even though I'm an academic type person, everything that I talked about is applicable to other types of libraries.  And so for folks that are interested you can find my slide deck below.  If you have questions, please feel free to let me know and I'll do my best to answer them.

But before you get to the slide deck I want to give a shout out to the awesome Dr. Katie Monnin. I had the honor of meeting Dr. Katie at COMO and we did a bit of a tag team presentation together.  Dr. Katie teaches about how to use graphic novels in the k-12 setting and has written a couple of books on the topic, which are well worth buying for your collection.  She is completely awesome, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic about graphic novels.  Please go check her stuff out, you won't regret it at all.

And now...the slide deck:

15 October 2013

Guest post over at "Letters to a young librarian"

I'm slow at this (really slow actually) but I wrote a guest post for "Letters to a Young Librarian" which is an awesome, awesome blog by Jessica Olin where different library type folks write advice on their jobs or aspects of librarianship, and Jessica of course shares her own viewpoints on things.

Right, so I wrote a guest post on being an ILL Librarian and you can find it here.  Feel free to ask questions if you wish, but do make sure you add Jessica's blog to your list of those to keep up with!

04 October 2013

Book Review--The Cute Girl Network

The Cute Girl Network
MK Reed, Greg Means and Joe Flood (Illustrations)
November 2013

Jane's just moved to town to reboot her life a bit. Jack is a bit of a loser, who well...means well, that mans a Soup cart in the middle of the city. The two meet when Jane wipes out on her skateboard right in front of Jack's Soup cart! And well one thing leads to another and the two agree to a date. That is...until the "Cute Girl Network," an information group of local single woman, seek to put a stop to it. You see most of them have dated Jack before and well...he has a rather spotty romantic history. He's not mean or anything, he's just not Prince Charming. And Jane is about to learn every detail of Jack's past dates whether she wants to or not. Will Jack and Jane ever hook up? Or with the Cute Girl Network prevail?

I admit the first time I read this story it didn't quite catch my fancy.  I mean it was good and I enjoyed it, heck I even got it signed at SPX.  But it took another read through to catch some of what the authors were saying.  That we all have different ideas of what prince or princess charming should be.  The man that maybe a flop for some, is going to be just right for someone else and maybe, just maybe we shouldn't judge them because they didn't work out for us.  This is a graphic novel for teens (and adults) that doesn't play to stereotypes.  Jane rides and skateboard, works at a skateboard shop and is open about her life.  And Jack...well Jack plays the everyman, whose a bit clueless, but means well. And these two characters work great together! And that's what keeps the story moving, is that you see hope for them regardless of what everyone else thinks.  And Jane is a fantastic role model, because she doesn't listen to what the network says about Jack.  She trusts what she knows and feels and follows her heart to where it leads her.  And that's the best thing about this story.

Joe Flood's character designs for the book are pitch perfect.  He captures that goofy awkwardness and gentle self confidence of Jack easily.  You can look at him in the very first panel and know that while he's a bit clumsy, he really is a good guy.  And that Jane is one of those kick ass ladies that takes names, but knows what she wants and is sure of herself.  It's great to have that type of feeling and connection to the characters.  The illustrations remind me a lot of the artwork of Faith Erin Hicks or Stephen McCraine, who does the "Mal and Chad" series.  Nice solid designs, with some nice detail hidden in there, but nothing that overwhelms the reader or makes them lose track of the story.

The one minor issue with the book is that while this would be a great book for teens, it has to be one whose parents are comfortable with the mention of sex and depiction of nudity. It's not a lot, but it's enough to make me a bit wary about recommending it to some of my normal readers.  Other than that I enjoyed the book and I'd give the book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

ARC provided by Gina from FirstSecond

02 October 2013

Book Review --- Lawrence in Arabia

Lawrence in Arabia
Scott Anderson
The Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
August 2013

Lawrence of Arabia.  The name conjures a dashing figure that helped change the world, one that is strong, stoic, and full of courage to face challenges head on!  And yet... what is reality?  Would you be able to recognize the real Lawrence, Thomas Edward Lawrence, knowing that he was 5 foot 5 and weighed in at just 135 pounds?  Not quite the dashing figure that we dream of.  But, he still was a force to be reckoned with in the creation of the modern Middle East.

In this book, Lawrence in Arabia, Scott Anderson helps us place not only Lawrence’s role in the creation of the modern Middle East, but other figures as well.  Working from years of intensive primary document research, Anderson weaves together the complex story of Lawrence, German scholar-spy Curt Prufer, Zionist Aaron Aaronsohn, and William Yale of Standard Oil.  These four men, waged wars, spied for their homelands, and attempted to do their best to steer the area to a different future...only to watch it fall apart at the hands of others (the British and French on one side, the German and Ottoman on the other).  Anderson does not even need to make a commentary on the mistakes made that helped create the troubles in the Middle East today, instead he only needs to present history in a way that we’ve long ignored and stumbled around.

Even though this is an extremely complex story, and one that would be easy to get lost in as it covers history and politics and so many other areas, Anderson creates an extremely readable and gripping story.  He deftly covers the War from multiple viewpoints of our four main “personas” and gives the reader a solid idea of how each action built to create a force that was beyond their control.

This is a great book for any fan of history or the Middle East.  I give the book 4 out of 5 stars.

Review copy provided by the publisher