Saturday, November 3, 2012

Teens Only | You've Got Style

Photo courtesy of

I must admit. I'm quite intrigued with the whole Gangnam Style craze. Psy's dance moves are being copied by everybody from U.S. Navy midshipmen to the British Prime Minister. I kid you not!

 And in honor of the San Francisco Giants' World Series win last Sunday, I must give huge props to Giants' announcers Jon Miller and Dave Flemming who brought a whole lot of Gangnam Style to the Parade on Wednesday. Did you miss it? Fear not. You can view it here.

So what's your style? I've got a couple of great books for you to check out at a library near you. (As always, if the book you want isn't on the shelf, ask library staff to help you place a request on it.)

The first is by TV personality Lauren Conrad: Lauren Conrad Style. Lauren offers tips on how to create your own unique look, shares her favorite sources of inspiration, and identifies the absolute must-have's of any fashionista's wardrobe. If you're looking for a little style makeover, this might give you some food for thought. 

In search of style inspiration, I found another book I think is worth looking into: Altered You!: Alter Your Style, Your Stuff, Your Space by Karin Buckingham. This book has tons of projects for making over clothes, accessories and room decor. There are even tips on making jewelry. Cool ideas. Great projects for a rainy weekend. 

But style isn't just how we look, is it? It's also about how we express ourselves. Some of us express ourselves in writing. Some in music. Some in dance. And some in drawing. In Street Scene: How To Draw Graffiti-Style, author John Lee offers step-by-step instructions on how to create slammin' street art. And this is just one of many, many drawing books you'll find on the shelves of a library near you! Check 'em out!

Each of us has a unique style. So express yours! And hey, by the way, if your style of expression is spoken word, give me a comment below. Maybe we can host a spoken word program at a library! 

Have a great weekend, and I'll see you next Saturday.

Books On Film | Alex Cross

For the month of November, we'll talk about several mystery/suspense novels that made the jump from books to movies starting with James Patterson's Alex Cross series.

CrossThere are a total of eighteen books and three movies in the Alex Cross series. The series follows Cross, a forensic psychologist and homicide detective, as he works to solve crimes committed by serials killers, mobsters, and more.

The first book, Along Came A Spider, was adapted into film in 1993 and the second book, Kiss The Girls, was adapted into a film in 1997. Both films started actor Moran Freeman as Alex Cross.

The third Alex Cross movie is out in theaters now after a fifteen year break. This movie not only changes the actor playing Alex Cross (now Tyler Perry), but also the sequence in which the books are adapted. The third movie is not based on the third book in the series. It's actually based on the twelfth book titled Cross.

If you like watch crime shows and read murder mysteries this might be the series for you!

Alex Cross (2012) Trailer:
[Source: Youtube]

[Filmography Source: x/x/x
[Bibliographic Source: James Patterson - Books: Alex Cross]
[Book cover courtesy of LibraryThing 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Food, Food, Food | Meet Mazie Reynolds

Now you will all get to meet Mazie Reynolds.  Mazie is a Chihuahua mix that literally walked into the library and my life.  She actually marched right up to the Information Desk and seemed to be asking a reference question about where she could best serve our customers.  I took her home “for the night” and it is turning out to be the longest one night stand in history.  She has a complete wardrobe that includes some sweaters, a rain slicker and several sundresses.  Her most recently dress is a leopard print one so that we can dress alike. 

Don’t forget that your library has lots of books about dogs.  My new favorite is Chihuahuas are the Best! by Elaine Landau.  My sweet girl sort of looks like the glamour dog on page 11. 

Back to food!  My favorite restaurant in town is Centrale.  They just released their Winter Menu and it is full of yummy treats.  My person favorite is Apricot/Bourbon chicken fritters with fries.  For brunch I love their Belgian Waffle because it comes covered in fruit and with a side of melted chocolate.  Melted chocolate!    They have a new dessert on the menu- Apple Fritters.  Order with a side of sour cream, I promise you will be happy you did. The wait staff is outstanding and I am a bit embarrassed to admit that most of them know what I want to drink when I get there. 

I’d love to hear about other favorite restaurants in town.   Post a comment.  I will try your suggestions and review them myself.  It will give me an excuse to go out to dinner! 

Constant Curiosity | Wish Books

When I was little, maybe 7 or 8, I liked nothing better than to lie on the living room floor in a sunny spot and pore through the Walter Drake catalog.  We lived way out in the country and the nearest small town was nine miles away, so a wish book opened a whole world of amazing stuff unknown to my young self.  No money was no problem; dreaming was enough. 

I like the self-contained nature of catalogs; shiny paper cabinets of curiosities; treasures yet to be discovered.   The delicious anticipation when a new one comes...sit down, have a cookie and a cup of tea and just turn the pages.  Like being in the best kind of bubble.  Who needs Calgon?

One of my all time favorites is The Metropolitan Museum of Art catalog.  It's not the same as visiting the museum, but imagining the exhibits that inspired the beautiful objects contained within can be very diverting. 

If you sign up for a Harrods catalog, the form has a nice list of titles: Prince, Princess, Viscount, Viscountess, Wing Commander, His Royal Highness, Her Royal Highness, etc. in a pull-down menu for your convenience.

Fortnum and Mason, famous purveyors of hampers full of goodies for Christmas and other occasions, doesn't offer a catalog, but one can subscribe to their various magazines (online only, alas.)

As with Fortnum and Mason, the Internet has rendered catalogs somewhat redundant, even though, according to the National Mail Order Assn., some 20 billion catalogs are mailed each year (at least a million end up at my house.)  Ease of ordering and all; instant gratification takes too long.

That's not really what a wish book is for, at least in my view; the sentimental name sort of says it all--you can wish for something you never knew existed and never knew you could want or need.   You can let your imagination fly to parts unknown or to well-remembered places:  journeying via catalog can be a great way to armchair travel.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Wanderlust Librarian | Grace Cathedral Hill

The holidays are coming up fast! It's already November and I've got a lot of shopping to do! Take advantage of the season and explore the cities you shop in! 

Last year for Christmas, I was gifted with an overnight stay at the San Francisco treasure, Fairmont Hotel. It's a beautiful hotel on the crest of Nob Hill. It shares real estate across from the iconic Mark Hopkins InterContinental. 

Fun Fact: The Penthouse suite at the at the Fairmont was featured in the Nicolas Cage movie, The Rock (1996).

Sad Fact: My room was not the Penthouse suite.  

Nob Hill also shares space with Grace Cathedral. It is the subject of a song by The Decemberists. I wax nostalgic about San Francisco when I hear it!  

It's amazing just how quiet San Francisco gets on Christmas morning. I was stunned by the silence when I went to take a walk that morning. Since most everything was closed, I expected to take a hearty jaunt to Van Ness Street to search for a moderately priced breakfast but was pleasantly surprised to see the Cable Cars working! Added bonus: the cable car stopped right in front of the hotel. The rides normally cost 5.50 for a one way trip, but that morning... it was FREE! I rode for FREE! (yes, while I do like to travel... I am also a sucker for an amazing deal!) Being the information hound, I went and checked out San Francisco's Cable Cars by Joyce Jansen so I could learn the story behind this historic transportation system.  

If you ever get the chance, enjoy the City on a Sunday and listen to the world wake up.  

As a bonus to my loyal blog readers, here's a video of my room at the Fairmont! Enjoy and happy travels! 


Book Bucket List | The Marriage Plot

I love Jane Austen.  I love her humor, I love her commentary, and I especially love her men.  Pride and Prejudice was the book that really spurred me on to be a big reader and is still one of my favorite books of all time.  Austen was also pretty bold.  When King George IV was a young prince and allowed Austen to dedicate her book Emma to him, her response was pretty hysterical.

"To His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, this work is, by His Royal Highness's permission, most respectfully dedicated to His Royal Highness by His dutiful and obedient humble servant, the Author."

Obviously, she was thrilled to be told to whom she could dedicate her own book.  At our libraries, we have Austen's works available for check out:

So, if you're an Austen fan, definitely check out Jeffery Eugenides' The Marriage Plot.  Eugenides is best known for his Pulitzer Prize winning novel Middlesex.  The Marriage Plot follows the lives of three recent college graduates and their journey into semi-adulthood. As an English major at Brown, Madeline Hannah is doing her thesis on the repeated plot points and characterizations in Regency and Victorian novels. (Jane Austen, the Bront√ęs, Dickens) However, what she doesn't realize is that her whole life is mirroring those of her favorite characters in Austen's books.  She falls in love with the dark, moody, and sarcastic Leonard Bankhead, while politely ignoring, but being fully aware of her friend Mitchell Grammaticus' love of her. 

This book is beautifully written, and tragic, and now one of my favorites too.  I waited a long time to read this book, and I'm so glad that I finally did.  It's one of those books that I can't help hugging to my chest because of the emotional connection I had with the characters and story.

Seriously, just go read it.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Learning | Hey, Moose! Where is Crocodile?

My friend, Rukaya, told me about a wonderful picture book written and illustrated by Fred Marcellino, called I, Crocodile. This wry story is told from the point of view of an Egyptian crocodile, who is captured by Napoleon's army and put on display in Paris. The illustrations don't just support the story; they complement it, with whimsical touches -- like the cover picture of the crocodile seated at a cafe table, holding a menu upside down.

History buffs will enjoy the jokes about Napoleon and 19th-century Parisian life; in fact, I think it would be a fun thing to share with high school or college students studying European history. This book is an example of what I call the Bullwinkle Effect: entertainment ostensibly designed for youngsters, but delightful for all ages -- children will enjoy it, but they will miss many of the references and jokes that amuse adults.

When Rukaya showed me the book, I wondered what else Fred Marcellino had written. It turns out he is better known as an illustrator, especially of folk tales. Marcellino's pictures in Natalie Babbitt's Ouch! a Tale from Grimm are just as clever as the ones in I, Crocodile.  I have a feeling I'll enjoy reading The Story of Little Babaji  and The Steadfast Tin Soldier just as much as the other two.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

4 Kids | Quick, I Need a Halloween Costume!

It's October 30th, which means Halloween is tomorrow! Do you have your Halloween costume yet? 

When I was a kid, I often waited until the last minute to put together a Halloween costume. Never a good idea. My costumes were all embarrassing.

I don't want that to happen to you! If you don't have time to check out one of the great Halloween costume idea books from the library, check out Disney's Spoonful website that has some pretty cool ideas. And some of these you can most definitely pull together in 24 hours!

Paper Doll costume from

Get a piece of cardboard, some scissors and felt pens and you're halfway there! A paper doll! Easy as pie! The instructions actually call for a few more items, but at the last minute, you just need a little imagination to make this cute costume happen. P.S. Use duct tape. It's really good! And if you want the instructions for this costume, click here.

Pizza costume from

I almost fell off my chair when I saw this  costume. I actually made one of these a few years ago and it really was super-easy. And who doesn't like pizza? You can follow the simple instructions here. I just ran to the fabric store and picked up a piece of craft foam, lots of felt and Tacky glue. It was a big hit during trick-or-treating!

Pumpkin face from

And now for you real last-minute trick-or-treaters, here's a costume idea for all ages that's quick and easy: pumpkin face! All you need is some orange face paint and a little patience. 

If these don't strike your fancy, stop by any SSJCPL branch and check out our Halloween costume books. Most of the children's books are checked out, but I found one in the adult collection (available at several library branches) that will give you some great ghoulish ideas: A Halloween How-To: Costumes, Parties, Decorations and Destinations by Leslie P. Bannatyne. 

Happy Halloween, and please be safe!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Professor O | Manga Goodies

Professor O, reporting for duty! 
Fellow adventurers! Professor O is here with a nice little manga treat, something right before Halloween. Library Wars with art and story by Kiiro Yumi is a nice little series, that plays with issues that are relevant to our times, thereby giving more power to the story. If the title does not grab you (you know, the part that mentions "Library" and "Wars"), then you are a very difficult customer indeed. What could this title mean, "Library Wars?" 

 In the near future, the federal government creates a committee to rid society of books it deems unsuitable. The libraries vow to protect their collections, and with the help of local governments, form a military group to defend themselves---the Library Forces!

 The manga touches on the themes of censorship, war, and personal freedom. The Professor appreciate titles such as these, they offer the reader something deep to think about along with those speed lines and huge cute eyes. The action is top-notch, the hair unbrushed, and the art work is just right, considering this is drawn and written by the same person. A good read, I say!


Enjoy the seven issues that the SSJCPL has to offer on this series.  Take advantage of the manga at your library.

Until next time, reader, keep your library free, let's avoid this fate!

Life & Style | Power of Habit

Do you have a bad habit that you want to change?

Then consider reading " Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg.

According to the author, every habit consists of three elements. Cue, Routine and Reward.

Cue -acts as a trigger to start an activity. 

Routine-is the actual physical, mental or emotional action that follows. 

Reward-is the joy that you get at the end of your routine. 

Cue (Feeling stressed)
Routine (Eating a chocolate bar)
Reward (Instant happiness)

Over a certain period of time, this cue-routine-reward loop becomes more and more automatic. That is how a habit is born. 

When something becomes a habit, your brain stops monitoring it consciously.

In other words, your brain does it automatically and without thinking.

Habits are so powerful that they create neurological craving that can even override the common sense. 

That is why it is so hard to stop smoking or gambling. 

To replace a bad habit, you should keep the old cue and the old reward, but you need to change your routine.

In my case, I am a chocoholic. 

After reading the book, I am getting into the habit of eating more cupcakes instead of chocolate bars. 

I am telling you...this is as far as I am willing to go and let's just leave it at that.

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha