Sunday, December 27, 2015

Top Ten Young Adult Fiction at GCL

Is it any surprise that a list of the top ten young adult fiction titles checked out in 2015 contains The Hunger Games trilogy? There are five different dystopian series on this list, one classic, and one John Green novel (of course).

Whatever it is, you sure did enjoy these books this year... In fact, many of these titles were checked out OVER 50 TIMES! That is an extraordinary number for any young adult fiction collection. Good job, y'all!

Comment and let me know what you thought about these books, the movie adaptations, and anything else that tickles your fancy.  :)
  1. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  2. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
  3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  4. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  5. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
  6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  7. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
  8. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  9. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  10. Matched by Allyson Condie

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Review of A Tale of Two Daddies

One of my favorite things about A Tale of Two Daddies were the illustrations...  Many of the playground pieces that the children use throughout the story are things that I used when I was a kid and which I remember quite fondly.

After watching Credence (you can read my review by clicking HERE), this title felt like the perfect addition. Told through a daughter's voice and explained as only a child can, this story isn't about gay couples, it is about family and this family is a happy one. At the end of the day, what more can a family ask for?

The simple way that the little girl explains to her friend what each of her daddies do is both sweet and undeniably real. It was nice to see that both Poppa and Daddy had individual things that they were able to provide to their daughter and then there were things that they were both good at.  :)

All in all, a cute story about family and friends. This picture book would be a wonderful addition to any library collection.

A copy of this title was provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Review of Credence

Credence is a crowdfunded science-fiction film that just happens to be about a family with two fathers and their struggle to do what is right for their daughter. Two years in the making, Credence breaks through any preconceived notions one might have of an LGBT film and shows just how moving the story of family and sacrifice truly is.

"Because we're all just made of stars... shining with what we remember."

Please note that this post will contain spoilers.
If you have not yet seen the film, you may want to skip this post.

The earth is tearing itself to pieces as the remnants of the moon creeps ever closer. While the moon was in just the right position to save earth from being struck by an asteroid, it has been torn to pieces and is slowly moving into the path of earth's orbit. No one knows exactly what will happen when the earth and the moon finally meet, but it is a certainty that the survival of mankind lies not on our home world, but in a desperate attempt to relocate those young enough to survive the journey to a new planet... The children.

(gif credit goes to mixkstyle on tumblr)
This is the choice placed before two fathers who must decide if they will let their daughter go, in the hopes that she finds a new life far from earth, or keep her close, knowing that they will die but that they will die together. Their daughter meets the requirements of the highly-desired "Goldilocks group," who are old enough to work on-board the spaceship but are young enough that they will survive the lengthy journey to a new world.

These two fathers are just like any other family. They don't always agree on the best way to do things and this leads to some conflict and heartache for the small family, as one father is willing to give everything he has to pay for their daughter's safety and the other only wants for his family to be together, always and forever.

(gif credit goes to mixkstyle on tumblr)

How short the film was, but really, if you're watching a short film that's what you get. :)

In conclusion:  This is a unique take on the science-fiction genre and a heart-wrenching example of what it means to love unconditionally. It is my hope that Credence is the first of many QUILTBAG films in the science-fiction genre.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

I Don't Work Today!

For the first time in years, I arrived at the library ready to start my work week only to discover that I wasn't scheduled.  It was my day off!  I'd completely forgotten that, with the Thanksgiving holiday this week, I was not scheduled to work on Monday.

As mentioned, this is the first time in YEARS that I came to work on my day off!  And I think I know why...

While working in a Youth Services department has never been a dream of mine, having the opportunity to work face-to-face with the public, be a major part of the collection development, and create programming for the community has been an interesting challenge.

I enjoy the work I am doing and the people I work with.  My co-workers are supportive and kind, always willing to lend a hand when needed or make a coffee run when the caffeine starts petering out.  :)

So, with Thanksgiving right around the corner I would like to say, "Thank you" to the Youth Services department of the Germantown Community Library.  Thank you for welcoming me, allowing me the opportunity to try new things, and for supporting me throughout all the changes we've faced over the last year.

Y'all are wonderful and I'll never be able to put into words how grateful I am for you!

Monday, November 16, 2015

#TheShelfieHop Blog Tour

I am super excited to participate in #TheShelfieHop with so many book bloggers that I've followed and adored from afar!  Thank you, Bookiemoji and MyFriendsAreFiction, for hosting this challenge.

I considered doing something completely crazy and re-organizing my book collection(s) by color, but the mere thought of all that disorganization made my librarian-heart panic. Instead, I'll share with you some shelfies of my personal book collection and hope that you can't see the dust.  :)

First, are my main three book shelves which contain my childhood favorites, young adult titles, graphic novels, science fiction, and more!!!  As you can see, these shelves are also home to many of my nick-knacks and Precious Moments snow globe collection.  The messy shelf on the bottom, left corner is my catch-all shelf and currently holds books that I need to find a home for, my book mark collection (in the green box), and video game guidebooks.


Next, is the small shelf of graphic novels that I couldn't bare to part with when I cleaned out my book shelves a year or two ago.  These are some of my absolute series and if you haven't read them, you should see if your library can get a copy for you!  Personally, I would suggest starting with Meru Puri and then reading either Baby & Me or DNAngel next.

I have two other book shelves, but they are terribly disorganized and I was too embarrassed to show them, lol.  And, of course, there are the books on my bedside table, but my #bedsideshelfies will be posted to my Instagram, so I didn't include a picture of it here.

Here are all of the wonderful participants in #TheShelfieHop!  You should check them out, too.  Thank you for stopping by!  Hope you've enjoyed my bookshelves and rambling.  :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Sticky Note Review of Raptor Red

Raptor Red by Robert T. Bakker is best described as biographical fiction.  It is the story of a young Utahraptor as she tries to find her place in a world without her mate, struggles to survive the dangers of a prehistoric North America, and find a new mate to start a family with.

My sticky note review for this is simply: Biographical fiction... of a RAPTOR! <3 <3 <3 <3

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Panic At the Children's Desk

After more than ten years at the Germantown Community Library, I made the craziest leap of my career and accepted a position as a Youth Services Library Associate.  Yeah, it was a surprise to me too, since I'd promised myself that I would never cross the maroon carpet into the Children's Department.

For the most part, working in the Children's Department has been a pretty good fit; there were the normal bumps and grumbles as staff tried to accommodate a new person into an already cohesive team, I've had more than my fair share of freaking out while trying to catch up on everything I'm not familiar with, and it's been stressful in entirely new ways to be working with young people day in and day out.

Here are just a few of the crazy days that I've had since joining the "Collective."  (points to anyone who recognizes that reference)

One afternoon, I was the only staff person working at the Youth Services desk and I am embarrassed to admit that I panicked a little when six children all wanted to play with a different LEGO set (and then wanted to trade it for a different set moments later) and another handful of kids were asking for scissors, tape, and coloring pages.  While I couldn't find the kid-safe scissors, we took Mom a pair of adult-scissors and found her to be happily surprised that her little girl "still needed her for something."  I never did find the coloring pages with the "house on it" for another little girl.

Overall, it was the most stressful hour and a half I've had so far as a Youth Services Library Associate, but it was also one of the most fun (in the strangest of ways).  I was able to provide most of my patrons / customers with what they were looking for or something similar, the Teen Volunteer assigned to work the Summer Reading Desk was an invaluable source of support, and ultimately I found a home for all of the LEGO pieces that had lost their sets.  :-P

Another encounter involved a young boy (maybe two or three) who was slamming a sign down again and again on the LEGO table.  We had just recently had one of those sign holders break and shatter into extremely sharp pieces that I cut my finger on and I didn't want him to get hurt either... so, I walked over and nicely asked him to be careful with the sign so it wouldn't break.  Mom made some comment that I took as exasperated humor and to which I responded with a smile and comment about the previously broken sign.

Barely twenty minutes later, I heard someone bouncing on top of the firetruck behind me (serious safety hazard, that) and turned to find the same boy.  He was an exceptionally well behaved kid, I promise, but I've seen kids go head first over the edge of the firetruck and am paranoid about it happening again... but with more serious consequences than the last time.

So, I went over to talk to him, asking him to "make sure to sit down or kneel if he was on top of the fire truck" and heard Mom make a nasty comment about how this was the Children's area and kids should be allowed to do kid things.  I was shocked by how angry she sounded and let her know that I was only looking out for her son's safety, as I'd seen other children take tumbles off the fire truck.

Without looking at me, she said, "I don't know why you're so mean.  Where did the nice librarian go?  You should leave and have her come back."

I don't think that I've ever had someone say something so harsh to me before and even now, recounting the event a month later, I feel hurt by her response.  Truly, I don't think that she was really angry with me but that she had had a long, frustrating day and I was an easy target.  I hope that she and her son continue to use our library in the future and that we are able to move past that first encounter and have a productive library-patron relationship.

AND today is Star Wars Reads Day, which is the first really big event that I have planned (and executed) and I'm really nervous about it.  Here's hoping it is a resounding success!

There have been ups and downs, really nice people and not so nice people, busy days and slow days, and I have learned so many new things!  I am excited to see where this new position takes me and what cool things I get to do in the future... I may write about my current job duties, for they are varied and awesome!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

What Do You Want To Read?

I have quite a few posts partially written and want to give YOU the chance to decide what I post next. Below is a poll with some of my work-in-progress posts and their associated tags in parenthesis, so click on the ones you like and I'll get to typing. ;)

Which Post Do You Want To Read Next?

RE: Favorite Commercials of 2015 (meesh responds, television)
RE: It Can Wait (meesh responds, technology, television, texting)
RE: Electric Vehicles for Everyone, Not Just the Elite (meesh responds, technology)
RE: Why we need negative book reviews (meesh responds, books, review)
RE: Millennial Lowdown (meesh responds)
Five Fictional Women (fandom, feminism, inspiration, women)
Panic At the Children's Desk (library life)
Review of The Clone Wars (fandom, feminism, inspiration, review, television)
Review of Cinderella (movies, review)
Girls in gaming... or something (gaming, video games)
Millenials & Pacific Rim (fandom, meta, movies)
Conference Round Up: TLA 2015 (after action report, conference, library life)
Leadership Lies (advice, leadership, library life)
Review of Welcome to Night Vale (podcast, review)
Poll Maker

Friday, August 21, 2015

Yaks From Yakyakistan

On the drive home after picking up dinner on Thursday night, my sister updated me on all things My Little Pony... including a strange bit of information about the Yaks from Yakyakistan.

You can listen to that discussion here:

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Two Book Tuesday

There are a number of upcoming releases that I am super excited to read, but seeing as I've called it "Two Book Tuesday," I will limit myself to just two books from entirely different collections... all the while wondering just what titles you are looking forward to this Autumn?

The first title is Lizard Radio and it is a young adult science fiction novel written by Pat Schmatz. What I noticed first about this title is the cover and if the novel is half as good as the cover then this should prove to be quite an interesting read.

Having just finished reading Static by L.A. Witt, I was surprised to see another title with a main character who does not fit the mainstream image of a single-gendered person. Kivali, the fifteen-year-old protagonist of Lizard Radio has grown up in a gender-rigid world that doesn't accept her status as a "bender." Abandoned as a baby, she doesn't know where she came from or what she is, but she does have a special gift... Kivali is able to enter a trance-like state to harness the "knowings" inside her. Just what are these "knowings" and how do they help Kivali in this coming-of-age story? Well, I guess we will have to read this book and find out!

The second book that I am excited to see is a picture book written by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (who may be a new favorite illustrator of mine). The Day the Crayons Came Home is a companion to the insanely popular The Day the Crayons Quit! and is sure to be just as popular with children and parents as the first book.

In this beautifully illustrated picture book, Duncan is about to take on the task of rescuing crayons from beneath sofa cushions and inside of socks. This is a story about finding friends in the unlikeliest of places, surviving the tough times in life, and coming home (to the crayon box).

Monday, August 17, 2015

#AtMyBookstore campaign

What is the #AtMyBookstore campaign?  Boy, am I glad you asked!

The challenge runs from August 17 - 31 and is an effort by bloggers to raise awareness about local book stores and the fact that people still love to visit (and continue to use) these physical locations.  It is part shelfie challenge as well, with participants encouraged to take a selfie/shelfie of themselves at book stores they visit and with titles they purchase from those stores.

I will be participating in this challenge and already know of three book stores that I'm going to visit.  Follow me on Instagram @s_michellehos to see my shelfies for the #AtMyBookstore challenge!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road Review

The last two weeks have been pretty rough for me and I'd been looking for something to get my mind off of things for just a little while.  I had heard that the Mad Max movie was really good and not nearly as gory as the R rating would imply and decided that the action flick sounded like just the thing I needed.

My initial response to Mad Max: Fury Road is this:  Do not mess with women because we will remember and we will fight back.  Action movies are for girls too!  And my absolute favorite line, the mantra "We are not things."

Please note that this post will contain spoilers.
If you have not yet seen the film, you may want to skip this post.

While the title of this film is "Mad Max: Fury Road" it isn't actually about Max at all, in fact you don't even learn of the characters name until the last five or so minutes.  Nope, this two-hour long movie is actually about Furiosa as played by Charlize Theron, a group of sex slaves called the Wives, and their escape from the villain Immortan Joe.

As for Max?  Well he plays the part of damsel in distress for most of the opening of this film as he fights against both his war-boy captors who want to use him as a universal blood donor (plot point) and memories of those he has lost, eventually escaping and overcoming his fears in order to help Furiosa in her quest to free the Wives.  He is very much a secondary character.

Now, Immortan Joe is a tyrannical leader of his own little cult of "war boys" who are brainwashed, war-painted young men with no thoughts other than following Joe's every command and earning the honor of dying for him and being allowed passage to Valhalla.  In addition to housing the women used as breeders, Immortan Joe controls much of the food and water supply in this post-apocalyptic world while two other war lords control the fuel/gas and bullets/ammunition respectively and that the three seem to have an agreement that keeps them in power.

Joe has a limitless supply of water and food that he hoards and shares only with those he deems worthy, while leaving thousands of people to live living in the land below his fortress to a life of constant starvation and the desperate hope that he will spill water from his citadel into the dirt below for them to fight over.  Does anyone else see the outright imagery of capitalism here?

In a world ravaged by nuclear fallout and all the sickness and deformity that will bring, the Wives are fertile women without visual deformities or cancerous growths who are used for breeding purposes, locked away, and outfitted with chastity belts.  Essentially, this is a movie about sex slaves escaping slavery.

Now, if Mad Max were to follow the "norm" of action movies, then these women should be terrorized into obedience and waiting to be rescued rather than choosing to fight for the chance at freedom.  They are so much stronger than that; from the oldest Wife who stays behind in an attempt to assassinate Immortan Joe, to the heavily pregnant Splendid Angharad who uses her body as a shield and ultimately falls to her death during their escape, to the youngest who momentarily breaks when things take a turn for the worst, desiring only to go back to the safety of a world she knows, but eventually even Cheedo the Fragile grows to become a stronger person by the end of the film.

From the first time you see the Wives, they are not sexualized by other characters or by the camera.  Instead, the focus is on their willful removal of the chastity belts and their desire to be clean after riding inside a dirty tanker.  Rather than sexualizing these nearly-naked women, the camera doesn't linger on anything more than Angharad's pregnant stomach which is a strong plot point for the film.  By the end of the movie, these women are no longer the Wives but have become Sisters to each other.

And I haven't even mentioned the Vuvalini yet!  The Vuvalini are a matriarchal clan that Furiosa and her mother were stolen from years ago.  These are strong, intelligent women who use their bodies as weapons and who are not afraid to pick up a gun in order to defend themselves and others.  When Furiosa returns to them, these motorcycle-riding, sharpshooting women are ready to step up and defend the Wives on their journey and carry with them a bag full of heirloom seeds and the hope those seeds bring to the world.  Seriously, there isn't enough time in the day for me to discuss how great the Vuvalini are.

(gif credit goes to maxsrockatansky on tumblr)
On a side note, the cinematography and use of special effects is sheer perfection and works really well.  I can always spot the CGI work in movies and when it's overdone it can seriously detract from my enjoyment of the movie itself.  Even when viewed in 3D, Mad Max: Fury Road does not suffer from this problem.  It is visually stunning and realistic in a way that many films just don't manage.

I enjoyed everything about this film, it was worth the price of the ticket and whatever price tag they slap on the Blu-ray.  There is supposed to be a black and white, silent version of the movie on the Blu-ray that I cannot wait for!

I think that I will leave you with Tom Hardy's response to an ignorant question about there being too many women in a movie for boys.  I completely agree with him when he says that...
It’s about time you had better female leads in action movies. This is not a feminist argument, it’s a person-hood situation. This is how we ought to reflect the times — not so much strong women, but just people.
While the main character, Furiosa, is physically disabled with an amputated left arm, the lack of ethnic representation in the film was very disappointing.  I can't remember if there was a single person of color shown.  Seems like it's two steps forward for feminism and one step back for ethnic representation.

In conclusion:  This is an amazing film that handles serious issues such as rape, feminism, death, and capitalism without losing sight of the fact that it's an action movie.  If you aren't scared of an action movie with a leading lady rather than leading man, then this is the movie for you.  Mad Max: Fury Road gets a solid 10/10.