Saturday, November 10, 2012

Teens Only | What's Hot in 2012

The weekend is upon us, and for those of you lucky enough to be enjoying 3 days off in honor of our veterans, I thought I'd share some great books published in 2012. Pick one up, read it, and share your thoughts with me by posting a comment to this blog. 

First off, John Green's The Fault in Our Stars. I asked a young friend of mine for a book recommendation a few months ago, and this is what she gave me. This is the love story of Hazel and Augustus. But it's not your typical teen love story (and there are no vampires). Hazel and Augustus meet at a cancer support group. And they're not there to support others. They both have cancer, and Hazel's is terminal. You will laugh at the funny dialogue, but also within the pages are some very poignant and powerful thoughts. For example: "The marks humans leave are too often scars." Think about it. 

Another must read for this weekend is Every Day by David Levithan. This is also a love story, but a really quirky and unique one! It's the story of A who wakes up every morning in a different body, living a different life. Can you even imagine? Reminds me of that movie "Fifty First Dates." A doesn't identify with a specific gender, so sometimes it's a guy's body, and sometimes it's a girl's. Because of this transient existence, A develops a strong moral code based on respect for the person who's life is disrupted and the consequences that person will have to face. Oh and the love story? Well, you'll just have to read it to find out more.

My final recommendation for the weekend is Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick. This is a gripping, powerful novel based on the true story of Arn Chorn Pond, a boy who survived the Killing Fields of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and became a human rights activist. In the face of fear, starvation, and humiliation, Arn finds an inner strength and will to survive that is simply incredible. This is a great read which inspires us -- all of us -- that even in the face of struggles and obstacles, we can make it. We really can. To learn more about this incredible man, check out his website

As always, these books are available for checking out from your SSJCPL libraries. If you don't find it on the shelf, request it! You won't be sorry.

Have a great weekend....and happy reading!

Books On Film | Bones

The television show Bones, starring Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz, has been on the air since 2005. The show follows forensic anthropologist Temperance "Bones" Brennan (Deschanel) and FBI agent Seeley Booth (Boreanaz) as they solve murder cases.

The show is based on the Temperance Brennan books by mystery author Kathy Reichs. Reichs herself is a forensics anthologist as well as a writer, professor, and producer on the show Bones.

The Temperance Brennan books began in 1997 with Déjà Dead and now there are fifteen books in the series with more to come. The television show and the books differ in dramatic ways. The Brennan in the books is more closely modeled after the author. She is older than her television counterpart, works as the Director of Forensic Anthropology in the Canadian province of Quebec, and partners with the Quebecois police. In the television show, she is an anthropologist at the fictional Jeffersonian Institute (modeled after the Smithsonian Institute) in Washington, DC and she consults with FBI.

The television program not only showcases Brennan's anthropology skills, but also the skills of her fellow Jeffersonian scientists in solving cases. This includes entomology, forensic art, pathology,  psychology, and archeology to help solve cases. If you like to see science applied to real world situations this might be the show for you.

Even with the differences between the books and the show I believe if you like one you will also enjoy the other. Assuming murder, mayhem, and anthropology interest you, of course!

For more information about our Link+ borrowing system, please click here.
[Covers courtesy of LibraryThing 
[Author/Show/Book Source:]
[Titles in order: Good Reads - Temperance Brennan series]  

Friday, November 9, 2012

Food, Food, Food | Twiggy Reynolds

I am happy to introduce you to my final dog: Twiggy Reynolds.  Twiggy is a Poodle mix and she is impossibly pretty and happy.  You cannot not like her.  She is very short legged and requires a set of stairs to get into the bed.  If you see her climb the stairs once you will want to watch her do it over and over again because it is pretty cute.  She is a huge fan of Mr. Burt Reynolds.  Huge.  Epic.  She certainly likes me and her sister, but the girl mostly loves her some Burt.

Good news for girls: College basketball season is here.  Many of you don't know me so you aren't aware that I am a big college basketball fan.  I specifically like Indiana University basketball.  A lot.  This will eventually lead to my eating a lot of hot dogs and other foods that I can lace in barbeque sauce.  Nearly everything tastes better in barbeque sauce to me.  I prefer KC Masterpiece, but I am willing to entertain your suggestions. 

Have a great week-end.  Remember that all libraries will be closed on Monday, November 12th!

Constant Curiosity | Her Grace

A while back I became fascinated by Chatsworth, the house that stood in for Pemberley in the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley.  I've seen the film several times, but when Elizabeth and her aunt and uncle tour Pemberley, I was a goner, and not just for Mr. Darcy. 

Of course,  I started investigating Chatsworth House, considered one of grandest of the English country homes (the roof alone covers more than an acre.) The evolution of the house and the family with each generation adding their particular stamp (and stuff) could take a lifetime to study.  The original structure dates from the 1550's and there are 297 rooms, with about 25 open to the public.   

When the 12th Duke, Peregrine (Stoker) Cavendish, and his wife became residents they cleaned out the attics and had a boot sale (yard sale to us Yanks.)   I bet they used all 100+ acres of the Chatsworth gardens.  The English aristocracy were the first hoarders.  They never threw anything away, except when it became necessary to sell the Van Dyck to pay the death taxes.

In the past 450+ years, Chatsworth has served as home to many of the Dukes of Devonshire, and some of their Duchesses, including Her Grace, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, Deborah Cavendish, nee Mitford.  Yes, those Mitfords.  The notorious sisters:  "Diana the Fascist, Jessica the Communist, Unity the Hitler-lover; Nancy the Novelist; Deborah the Duchess and Pamela the unobtrusive poultry connoisseur".[2] 

In my avid dilettantism, I read all about the Mitfords and the Cavendishes, but my favorite character in this centuries-old drama remains Debo, (after all she does ask people to call her that; why not me?) the Dowager Duchess, who is wonderfully eccentric, and who numbers among her passions chickens and Elvis Presley.  I really enjoyed her autobiography, Wait For Me (she was the youngest of the Mitford siblings) and a collection of letters exchanged with Patrick Leigh Fermor:  In Tearing Haste

My dream is to someday visit Chatsworth House.  With any luck, it will be the day of another boot sale and the Dowager Duchess will be presiding.  Oh well, a girl can dream, can't she?


Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Wanderlust Librarian | Off The Grid and in my belly

Remember a few weeks ago when I posted about food trucks? I've come back to report on Off the Grid. This is the weekly food truck gathering at Fort Mason. My friend and I got there early so we could scope out what was available. It's always nice to do a lap before committing to a location (if you can name the movie, I will squeal with glee!). While there were at least a dozen or more food trucks, there were an equal amount of food stalls. Some of the gems we saw were: a popsicle stand that sold some fun and unusual flavors, horchata kettle corn,       and made to order dumplings.

The night was made sweeter by a non-food truck...the AT&T truck. There were charging stations for telephones and a huge television that showed the San Francisco Giants game. Food AND a ball game for mere duckets? Bonus!

My friend, Lizzie, and I  were dismayed that a majority of the trucks there did "Asian Fusion". To be frank, it's taking Asian food and putting it into a burrito or a taco. Korean food? In a taco with kim-chee. Indian food? Tikka masala in a burrito. Want to make it nachos? Put it on top of french fries. I admit.... the french fry idea makes life worthwhile. I love carbs.

Unbeknownst to me until the night we were there, the huge truck gathering at Fort Mason only goes on until mid-October. Not to worry, there are still smaller pods that meet weekly at places around the City! When the weather gets better next year, check the Off the Grid site to visit the huge food pod!

Useful tips:
  • Come early to get some free parking outside of Fort Mason. (To their credit, the parking fees are reasonable if you have to park inside.)
  • Come early to visit the Friends of the San Francisco Library book sale located inside the Fort Mason complex.
  • Come early to see what food is available and how much things are. 
  • Come early to get a place to sit and to save spots while your friend gets food.
  • Get an adventurous food friend that is willing to share food. It's a great way to try different food and talk about it! 

While the weather is cold and you're inside, try and make your own "fusions" by trying out recipes from the following books and putting them in a tortilla!

50 Great Curries of India would help set a great base for any type of meat / veggie
The One Dish Chicken Cookbook - getting a tasty chicken dish made would set you up for delicious leftovers, right?
Salad as a Meal  - Salads make great wrap stuffing!

Until next time: explore, explore, explore!

Adventure is out there!

Enjoy these pictures from Off the Grid! 

Fat Face Popsicle stand from Davis! 
I was waiting for dessert... they ran out. I heard it was delicious
Amazing garlic noodles from the An the Go truck.

An the Go has my heart! 

BLT Taco from the Taco Guys

Don't take my seat! 

The fresh choices from The Taco Guys

Book Bucket List | The Outsiders and Looking for Alaska

When I was thinking of types of books that should make anyone's book bucket list, one of the first things that came to mind was a coming of age story.  I really can't decide between two of my favorites, so I am going to write about S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders and John Green's Looking for Alaska.

In The Outsiders, Ponyboy is a fourteen year old boy that belongs to a local gang that call themselves the Greasers.  Even within his group of friends, Ponyboy feels like an outsider as he feels his interests in books and movies can't be shared with anyone.  But once things flair up with a rival gang and Ponyboy's friend accidentally kills a member of that rival gang, Ponyboy is forced to grow up very quickly. 

The Outsiders was written by Hinton when she was only sixteen years old.  Even at that young age she told a story that many generations have been able to relate to.  Any reader would be able to see some part of themselves in her vast cast of characters.  If you're looking for a classic coming of age story, this would be it.

In 1983, The Outsiders movie was released featuring huge names like Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, and Matt Dillon.  So once you finish the book, you can go and watch the movie! Check out the trailer below.

One of my favorite books that I have read this year is John Green's Looking for Alaska.  When Miles Halter gets bored with public school and convinces his parents to ship him off to his father's former boarding school in Alabama to seek what he calls "the great perhaps".  Once there, he befriends the non-popular group including the beautiful and quirky Alaska Young.  For awhile, Miles is content with his interesting classes and pranks on the popular kids at his school, but after a drastic accident, everything in his life changes.

In 2006, Looking for Alaska won the Michael L. Printz award from the American Library Association for "best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit."   It really is a great book that completely blindsides you from where you think the story is headed!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Learning | "Goodnight Noises Everywhere"

What is it about children's stories, that resonates and captures our imagination so well?

Maria Tatar answers that question in her book, Enchanted Hunters: the Power of Stories in Childhood. The titles of the chapters alone are thought-provoking, from "Reading Them to Sleep: Storytelling and the Invention of Bedtime Reading," to "Theaters for the Imagination: What Words Can Do to You."

In Chapter Three, "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep: Brushes with Death," she discusses the appeal of Margaret Wise Brown's classic bedtime book, Goodnight Moon.  It is a kind of scary/safe depiction of going to sleep.  Even though the room is getting darker during the repetition of rhymes about its contents, the place stays the same, just as it will while a child shuts her eyes.  

"In the great green room
There was a telephone
And a red balloon
And a picture of ...
One of my nephews thought the line "Goodnight nobody," which appeared on a blank page, was the funniest line in the book.  He would squeal with delight, at the idea of saying goodnight to somebody who was not even there. 

"Goodnight Moon" is only one of many children's classics analyzed in Tatar's book; it's not light reading, but I promise it will help you to better understand why we all love a good story.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

4 Kids | The Giving Tree

My friend Lisa blogged about Shel Silverstein's beautiful story, The Giving Tree, a little while back. If you haven't read the classic book, please check it out from any SSJCPL branch library! It's a story about a boy and a tree...about how a boy's needs change as he grows up, and how the tree tries to do everything it can to give the boy what he needs.

I shared this book recently with my 5th grade friends from Stockton Collegiate International School. It's interesting how each of us found a different meaning in this story. 

Here's what some of my 5th grade friends thought:

"The Giving Tree is a sweet and nice story about friendship and loyalty." A.S., 10 years old
"The Giving Tree story meant that the tree cared for the boy. She valued the boy. She was good." -- Q.D.M.H., 10 years old

"The Giving Tree shows what a true friend will do just to keep you happy." S.D., 10 years old

"I think this book means that you should appreciate things." N.N., 10 years old

"This story taught me that you should be thankful and stay present and live your life right." D.S., 10 years old

Every time I read this book, it leaves a different impression on me. Thanks to my 5th grade friends, today I'm thinking about...

  • what it means to be a loyal friend
  • how we should all value one another
  • how important it is to appreciate what we have
  • being present in the lives of my friends and family
What does this book mean to you? Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Life & Style | Paris Or Stockton

Paris or Stockton.

Which one do you pick?

I pick Stockton no question about it. 

I know, I know,

Paris has beautiful museums, Pretty parks, gorgeous bridges, etc etc.

But I can't live in museums or pretty parks. I need a nice  home to stretch my legs after a long day of work. 

Most Parisian apartments fit inside my living room. I don't want to live in a shoe box for the rest of my life.

So I pick Stockton for its affordable big houses.

Try to buy an outfit in Paris and you will see that is going to cost you a third of your salary. In Stockton, I can still buy a nice outfit without going bankrupt. 

So I pick Stockton for its affordable stores.

Don't get me started about its weather. Paris has too many sad rainy days. No wonder it has given the world so many famous poets.

My God, you need a good dose of melancholy to write good poems and by golly, Paris provides plenty of that.

So I pick Stockton for its nice weather.

Parisian customer service is another pet peeve of mine. All Parisian business owners should come to U.S.A for customer service training.  

So I pick my dear Stockton for its friendly customer service.

Voila, Now you have it. I live in a pretty good city.

Here are some French authors who would disagree with me greatly if they were still alive.

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha