Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Learning | Ook.

Sir Terry Pratchett passed away on March 12, 2015.  Readers around the world mourn the loss of the creator of the comic fantasy Discworld series. Discworld is a flat world that rests on the backs of four elephants; those elephants, in turn, are standing on the back of a giant turtle.  If you are able to accept that premise, and even laugh at it, you would probably enjoy reading books in the Discworld series.

0504 9757 Sir Terry Pratchett,
from Steve James' photostream on
Some rights reserved.
 My friend, Elsbeth, pointed out that there is no need to read Discworld books in the order that they were published. It's true. Different books satirize different aspects of the real world. (There are even parodies of the fantasy genre.) Various titles spoof tourism, war, bureaucracy, prejudice, jingoism, Ancient Egypt, opera, journalism...the list goes on and on. Characters recur in subsequent books, but there are always new characters. 

For instance, there is a certain librarian in the first two books, who works for Unseen University.  He is accidentally transformed into an orangutan in the second book.  He won't allow anybody to change him back (after all, he can climb up to the highest shelves with ease.) He recurs in many of the later books. 

You'll sometimes see a piece of luggage wander into the action at the most interesting moments. It wanders around because it's made of sapient pearwood (which is magical.) It can sprout hundreds of little legs, enabling it to run away very quickly. It has multiple functions--carrying its owner's luggage, and acting as a bodyguard. In the novel Sourcery, it is described as "half luggage, half homicidal maniac." (Note: SSJCPL no longer has any copies of Sourcery in its catalog. You'll need to get it from Link+.)

Pyramids, Discworld #7, from
 sdoble's photostream on
Some rights reserved.
It seems as though there's a guild for everything in Ankh-Morpork, the large, bustling city that provides a setting in many of the Discworld books. 

There's even a guild for assassins. Here's a nice, juicy quote about the members of that guild, from Pyramids: 

"All assassins had a full-length mirror in their rooms, because it would be a terrible insult to anyone to kill them when you were badly dressed."

Pyramids is a good book to start with, if you haven't read anything else about Discworld.

"Pratchett is my hero..."
 from Robert N's photostream on
Some rights reserved.

Most of Pratchett's books were written for an adult audience, but there is also a series for children ages 8 and up, called the Johnny Maxwell Trilogy.

Pratchett wrote a number of books for a teen audience. I am especially partial to the Tiffany Aching series.  You'll want to read those in order, to follow Tiffany's progress as she grows up; start with The Wee Free Men.

You may be wondering about the title of this blog post. When the Librarian at Unseen University became an orangutan, he lost all speech, except for "ook," and the occasional "eek." He communicates remarkably well, using different inflections for "ook." It might be "ook?" or "ook!" or "oooooook!"

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

She's Crafty | Fun Mugs

I've taken my habit of doodling on everything to the next level, coffee mugs. Yes, the smooth, curved surface of a mug is no longer safe from my pen. Oil-based paint pen to be exact.

In today's post I will be talking about the craft craze known as the DIY decorated mug, or commonly known as the Sharpie mug since the most common oil-based paint pen that crafters choose to use for this project is made by the Sharpie company.

DIY Tribal Triangle Mug by Emily May. Some rights reserved.

The internet is bursting with how-tos and tutorials for DIY decorated mugs. I combed craft blogs and forums for all the information I could possibly manage, digested it all and developed a plan of attack before visiting the craft store. There is a LOT of buzz about this craft and a LOT of handy tips. What I noticed right off the bat that this project can fail if you do not use the right materials. Do not be tempted into decorating a mug with an ordinary Sharpie. 

I'll tell you more after the jump...

Monday, March 23, 2015

Just Life| Persian New Year 1394

Last Friday, at 3:45 pm was the start of yet another Persian New Year for millions of Iranians around the world. The Persian New Year or (Nowruz) is the most celebrated holiday in Iran. 

The Iranian calendar changes on the first day of Spring and we just entered the year 1394 in the Persian calendar.

Before Iranians can enjoy this celebration, they do spring cleaning. Spring cleaning is anything but fun. As a kid, I hated it since I had to help out my mom to do the spring cleaning for numerous days before the start of our New Year. I am happy to report that I skipped the Spring cleaning this year and I don't even feel guilty about it one bit.

Another celebration before the Persian New Year, is called " Char Shan Be Sori". On the last Tuesday of the year, we get together with family and friends to make bonfires and we jump over them and we chant special songs hoping for a healthy and prosperous year. Fireworks are also a major part of this celebration.

Jumping over the bonfires for Char Shan Be Sori

Before the start of the New Year, we set a very special table called " Haftsin". 

There are some very specific items that are placed on this table year after year. 

We should have at least seven items on this table that starts with letter "C" in Persian.

Here are these items:
  • Sib (Apple)
  • Sir (Garlic)
  • Sekeh (Coins)
  • Sabzeh (Germinated wheat or lentil. They look like grass)
  • Serkeh (Vinegar)
  • Samano (A special sweet paste made from wheat)
  • Sonbol (Hyacinth)
  • Senjed (Fruit from lotus tree)
  •  Saat (Clock)

Each of these items has a special meaning but this blog isn't long enough to explain them all and to be honest I am far from being an expert on this topic.

This is the Haftsin in my house this year.

The Haftsin table should also include a large mirror, candles, a large bowl of water with a few red goldfish and colored eggs.

This is Haftsin at my aunt's house this year.

Depending on your taste, the Haftsin can be as fancy as you want to make it or as simple as you wish. But no matter what, you have got to have it. 

This year, there was even a Nowurz Celebration at the White house hosted by the First Lady, Michelle Obama. It was an honor to have the Persian New Year being recognized by the first lady of United States.

Nowruz is the time that we visit family and friends. In Iran, schools and universities are closed for 13 days and most people go on vacation during this time. 

New Year dinner at my aunt's house this year

On the 13th day of our New Year, Iranians end their New Year celebrations with a good picnic. In Stockton, we all get together in Oak Grove Regional park to have a great picnic with more than 100 other Iranians. 

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Books On Film | Insurgent & The Prone Gunman


This weekend the film adaptation of Insurgent by Veronica Roth, the second book in the Divergent trilogy, will be released. The film adaptation of the first book, Divergent, was released last year and I fully expect the third film to be adapted next year.
As war surges in the dystopian society around her, sixteen-year-old Divergent Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves--and herself--while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

The film adaption of French crime novelist's Jean-Patrick Manchette's book The Prone Gunman, titled The Gunman and starring Sean Penn, will also be released this weekend.
Martin Terrier is a hired killer who wants out of the game so he can settle down and marry his childhood sweetheart. After all, that's why he took up this profession! But "the company" won't let him go: they have other plans. Once again, the gunman must assume the prone firing position. A tour de force, this violent tale shatters as many illusions about life and politics as it does bodies.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Award-Winning Reads | And the award goes to . . .

Award-Winning Reads | And the award goes to . . .

And the award goes to . . .

You! Yes, you! If you've read this far in my blog, then you're already a winner in my book *wink, wink*

Okay, before you roll your eyes at my attempt at "winning" you over, let me introduce myself and my, ahem, intentions.

Hello there! My name is Raquelle and I'll be sharing my thoughts on award-winning books, movies, music, etc. (but, to be honest, they'll mostly be about books). I'll explain what I appreciate about some familiar favorites, but also hopefully acquaint you with some new titles to love. And who doesn't want more to love? 

Speaking of something new (which can be borrowed, and has a little bit of blue), and before I get on with my regularly scheduled reviews, I would like to present to you: 

Newbery in a Box! 

According to the American Library Association (ALA), the organization who designates these medals and honors, the Newbery Medal is awarded annually to "the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children."

File:Newbery Medal.jpg
This is a logo for Newbery Medal.
Claiming fair use, this photo is being used for informational purposes only, to illustrate what the award looks like.
If you want to share your love of award-winning books with others, you can check out a box of 30 copies of a Newbery Award winner, an audiobook version, and a laminated list of discussion questions for an entire class, group of friends, or book club. For a good time, check out these kits for 6 fun-filled weeks!

Till next time, have a good reading! And I mean, really good, like, award-winning good *wink, wink*

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Learning | Marginalia

Let's explore the subject of writing in books. Not writing books; taking a physical copy of a published work, and marking it in some way.  

Most of us have put our name on the flyleaf of a book we own; when I was a new reader and writer, I think I did that to every book I owned. I was proud of owning the books, but probably even more proud that I could express myself (in a very small way) in writing.

When I was older, I would underline (I'm not sure I was aware of highlighters yet, if they had been invented) important passages in books I was reading for English classes. (I'm not talking about school-owned books; I'm remembering the paperback copies of classic books, which I purchased.)

In tenth grade, my best friend, Roberta and I took this to a whole new level. That year, we had the same English teacher, Ms. Newman, but I was in the second period class, and Roberta was in the third period class. (Or maybe it was the other way around. We often mix ourselves up with each  other.)  

It was the year we read Julius Caesar.
Each of us had a paperback copy of the play. We were discussing it every day in class for what seemed like forever. Maybe it was a month? A few weeks? I don't know. I started out the usual way, underlining important phrases and noting important thoughts in the margins. 

Then, I think I started putting thought bubbles on the illustrations.  Two centurions were standing right next two each other, and I made one say,"Don't I know you from junior high school?"  

It was an inside joke.  I had recently been in a crowd at Mardi Gras, and I had heard one drag queen say that to another. They were both so heavily made up and gorgeously costumed, I wondered how the one guy had even recognized the other.  So the drawing of these centurions holding spears, wearing armor and helmets, struck me as a depiction of a similar situation.
Roman augur,
Image from page 246 of "The standard edition of the pictorial Shakspere" (1846)
From Internet Archive Book Images' photostream on
No known copyright restrictions.

Roberta and I started exchanging our copies of Julius Caesar, as one of us ascended the stairs, and the other descended.  

Those Julius Caesars filled up with drawings, thought bubbles, fake footnotes at other comments. One of the real footnotes contained the phrase,"Elizabethan audiences delighted in such puns."  So we looked for more puns in the play, and added more footnotes. 
Just imagine the thought bubbles that could be added to this picture, or maybe a funny caption.
Image from page 237 of "Julius Caesar and the foundation of the Roman imperial system" (1894),
from Internet Archive Book Images' photostream on No known copyright restrictions.

True to form, we keep forgetting where those Julius Caesars are, but we still occasionally get together and read them and laugh our heads off.

Today's word is marginalia. It simply means notes in the margin or margins of a book. That makes sense.  But I just had to look up the origin of the word margin, while I was at it. It comes from Latin, as many book terms do, and it originally meant the edge of a sea or lake. I like that. It makes me want to compare discovering marginalia in books to finding things washed up on the beach.

There's a new book out called Letter to a Future Lover: Marginalia, Errata, Secrets, Inscriptions, and Other Ephemera Found in Libraries. 
Author Ander Monson has gathered examples of all sorts of books that have been marked up in one way or another. This book is loaded with Monson's essays on a wide range of subjects, including errata, permanence, time, computer punch cards, and a dead poet. It's one of those books that are wonderful to open at any random page, and find a gem.

Have fun with marginalia! But, whatever you do, don't write in a book that belongs to somebody else, without their permission. And NEVER write in a library book. Please.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Just Life| Free Library Programs

Your local library is a treasure trove of free services and programs.

For example, here are some free programs offered at Troke Library:
  • Free homework help for students K-5th grade on Tues, Wed, & Thurs from 4-6pm.
  • Free Math help for students 6th-12th grade on Tues, Wed, & Thurs from 4-6pm.
  • Free Storytime on Tuesdays at 10:15am.
  • Free computer classes on Fridays at 3pm.
  • Family game night on Thursday, March 26th at 6pm.

We have many many fun and educational programs at our library branches. 

To learn more about these free programs, just visit our library website at  and then find " News & Events" and click on " Events Calendar".

Below are a few pictures of these fun programs offered at Troke Library.

Free Acrylic Painting class at Troke Library

Puppet show at the Troke Library

Stockton Ports players are doing storytime at Troke Library

Halloween Arts& Crafts at Troke Library

Snake anyone?

Kids were able to touch this tarantula at Troke Library.

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha