Saturday, February 16, 2013

Teens Only | Don't Judge a Book By Its Title

So I stumbled upon a new book the other day: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. It's written by Benjamin Alire Saenz.
Now, no offense to Mr. Saenz. But I thought: Aristotle and Dante? Oh boy.
Aristotle was an ancient Greek philosopher and scientist....and considered one of the greatest intellectual figures of Western history.
And Dante. First of all, I just learned his full name was Durante degli Alighieri, but I guess he just went by Dante. Anyway. He was a major Italian poet of the Middle Ages, known best for his Divine Comedy.
I like to think of myself as intellectually curious (most of the time), but Aristotle and Dante aren't on my list to the near future.
So when I saw this new book which, by the way, is a Printz 2013 Honor Book, I thought.....really?
But being the good librarian I am, I picked it up....and then could not put it down.
Please refer here to the title of this post: Don't judge a book by its title.
Oh. My. Gosh.
It's a fantastic book. And I want to be very careful and not say too much about it because I don't want to give away any of the wonderful plot (that I just KNOW will pull you in like it pulled me in).
Ari (Aristotle) and Dante are two teenagers who fall into an unlikely friendship when they meet up one summer at the neighborhood pool. Prior to their meeting, they're both rather friendless. And it's not like they're creepy or anything. They're just a little different from others their age.
So they become friends. And their friendship grows. They talk about things that are pretty deep: art, literature, their Mexican-American roots. And they're so real with each other.
And then something big happens. Didn't see it coming. Not going to tell you what it is. But it's big.
And then another something big happens. And it's really big. And it shows the depth and loyalty of Ari and Dante's friendship. And it will make you so many great books...about your own ability to truly be a friend. How far would you go for a friend?
I really, really liked this book. And I really, really hope you'll pick it up and read it.
And if you do, please post a comment below and let me know what you think.
It's so true that you can't judge a book by its title. Give this one a try.
Until next week, happy reading!

Books On Film | Jane Austen

If there is such a thing as The Queen of Regency Romance, then English author Jane Austen would surely be the person wearing the crown. Born in 1775, Jane Austen authored six books which have been adapted into film, television, plays, and books many times over. 

Sense & Sensibility (1811)
Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor's warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Meanwhile Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her.

Austen's first book was adapted into a play which was first recorded and televised in 1950. Since then it's been adapted into film an additional six times. This includes the movie version of the book Bridget Jone's Diary, which itself is an adaptation of Sense & Sensibility. 


Pride & Prejudice (1813)
Spirited Elizabeth Bennet is one of a family of five daughters, and with no male heir, the Bennet estate must someday pass to their priggish cousin William Collins. Therefore, the girls must marry well—and thus is launched the story of Elizabeth and the arrogant bachelor Mr. Darcy, in a novel renowned as the epitome of romance and wit.

Although Pride & Prejudice is Austen's second book, it was the first adapted into film. In 1938 a movie version of the book was made and since then it's been remade over sixteen times. It's one of her most popular books to adapt, including a recent zombie apocalypse version titled Pride & Prejudice and Zombies.

Mansfield Park (1814)
Adultery is not a typical Jane Austen theme, but when it disturbs the relatively peaceful household at Mansfield Park, it has quite unexpected results.

Mansfield Park, a story about a young woman who moves in with her richer relatives, didn't see a film adaptation until 1983 and since then it's been adapted three other times. Although it's one of the lesser known Jane Austen books (if any of them really count as lesser known), it's very enjoyable. 

  Emma (1815)
Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, rich - and fiercely independent - is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage. Nothing, however, delights her more than interfering in the romantic lives of others. But when she ignores the advice of her good friend Mr Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for pretty, naive Harriet Smith, her well-laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected.

Emma was the second Jane Austen book to be adapted into film. The first movie version of Emma was released in 1948 and it's seen six adaptations since then, including the 1990s teen classic Clueless which was also based on the book. 

Persuasion (1817)

After the man whose proposal she had rejected returns from his long military tour at sea, Anne Elliot is forced to face the decision she had made eight years before, along with the man shes never stopped loving.

Persuasion was one of the two books released after Jane Austen's death in 1817. It made it's television debut as a three part mini series in 1960. Since then it's been adapted four times, the latest of which was a BBC series made in 2007.

Catherine Morland is a young girl with a very active imagination. Her naivety and her love of sensational novels lead her to approach the fashionable social scene in Bath and her stay at nearby Northanger Abbey with preconceptions that have embarrassing and entertaining consequences.

Nothanger Abbey was the second book released after Jane Austen's death. It's first film adaptation was in 1987 as a television movie. The latest television adaptation was created by public television channel WGBH in 2008.

Cover Art Courtesy of

Friday, February 15, 2013

Food, Food, Food | Lucerne Dairy Contest Finalist

Our friends at Lucern Dairy are having an art contest that involves nine students decorating a white plastic cow.  One of the finalists is a volunteer at the Cesar Chavez Library as well as a student at Weber Tech. 

Go here: and please vote for Gissella.  Not only would she win a cash prize, but Weber Tech will get money for their art department.  Public voting begins April 17th and I promise I will remind you, a lot.

Have a great week-end!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Wanderlust Librarian | Rena's Paris

"What an immense impression Paris made upon me. It is the most extraordinary place in the world!"  - Charles Dickens

It's Valentine's Day. I'm fortunate enough to have my blog post on such a lovely date. What better subject to write about than the City of Lights... the city where love blooms eternal.. Paris. 

Paris has been burned in my brain since the first time I laid eyes on the Eiffel Tower...on television. Paris influenced me to take 4 years of French in high school instead of Spanish. French cuisine inspired me to try duck a l'orange and escargots (for the record, both REALLY good!). It wasn't until I set foot IN Paris, that my love truly set in. 
The village steeple : taken by Lizzie
The trip I took to Paris was a last minute addition (just 2 1/2 short days) to my week long vacation in London . My friend and I took the Eurostar Train out from London and it took a short 2 hours and 15 minutes from station to station! I was enchanted by the French countryside. There was a church's tall steeple marked the center of the village. I was grateful for the villages further from the train tracks so they didn't speed by.  

The moment I stepped off the train, my world changed. My entire life gathered itself up into a solitary moment of sole on pavement. My heart fluttered like a girl with a crush. My love affair had begun. I spent at least 10 minutes repeating the address of the hotel "trente cinq, rue des Ecoles" so I didn't look like a dunce when we finally got in a cab. 

The Hotel Saint-Jacques was simply delightful. When we got into our room, there was a queen bed and a twin bed. A well-traveled friend recently told me the twin bed was meant for families traveling with small children. This was interesting, as I am used to a hotel room with two beds having 2 of the same size mattress! My friend, Lizzie, graciously took the smaller bed. 
Big Bed / Little Bed... let me sleep! 
Cutest keys ever! 

One of the magical things about Paris is the charm. Most everything I encountered there was a delight and so...Parisian. I'm not embarrassed to say that I remained wide-eyed and giddy through my entire trip. I'm not ashamed to say that I enjoyed being a tourist and basking in the magic. 

It was...IS so much like being in love. The thought of it now makes my heart swell and beat a little faster. There are days, even a few years after visiting, that I wake up and feel like my experience there wasn't real. It's like a dream....Paris is. I feel like my life was given new spirit because I was there. 

The next visit I have will be in 3 short years. I look forward to renewing my spirit and sharing the magic with my daughter. Have you visited a place that was magical? Please share in the comments! 

Until next time, enjoy my pictures and have amazing, lovely adventures! 

Notre Dame from the front (sorry, I
didn't see Quasimodo! )
Le Tour Eiffel 

Of course, there's me... standing scared on the Eiffel Tower

The back of Notre Dame is just as impressive...
AND has a park! 

Book Bucket List | The Notebook

So it's Valentine's Day! I love this holiday, it's basically just an excuse for romance, gifts, and unnecessary candlelight. So for this awesome, awesome day I will give you some romantic book suggestions.

The Notebook.  This is a given, and I apologize for the obvious first pick, but this is the best Nicholas Sparks book I've read.  In typical Sparks fashion, it follows the story of the relationship between teens Noah and Allie.  After a summer together, they are torn apart by parents and social expectations, but are eventually brought back together in a spectacular fashion.  We also have the movie, which stars Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams. (I love this movie).  So if you're looking for a book and film that won't leave you with a dry eye, pick up a copy of this book!

Pride and Prejudice. I have posted before about my love of Jane Austen, and this is one of my favorite books of all time. It's funny, romantic, and has some great social commentary. If you haven't read this, Valentine's day is a great excuse.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. This book was just recommended to me, and I am so excited to read it.  Partially set during World War II, Henry Lee loses contact with the girl he loves when she and her family are sent off to a Japanese internment camp.  I haven't read it, but the reviews for this book are all great.  I'm going to go grab it right now.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Short Attention Span Challenge | Off week

Hello readers!  The Short Attention Span Challenge is taking the week off.  Never fear though, I still have some double challenges planned for this year, so we will still make the 52 skills in 52 weeks goal!  In the meantime, feel free to look back on some of the old blog posts...

The Cake Boss Lady
The Organizer
The Oil Changer
The Baby Food Chef
The Crepe (or Crape) Murderer

See you next week! 

Learning | What Would Be On Your Ideal Bookshelf?

I am a member of an informal online book club, consisting mostly of friends from my high school days.  We are all busy people, and we are literally scattered all over the world. We are unable to meet in a physical location, so we suggest books to read, and start discussing when we are ready--usually whenever each person who has said they will read that title has declared that they are finished reading. 

I can't remember who suggested Carlos Ruiz Zafón's Shadow of the Wind (original Spanish title: La Sombra del Viento.) It was such a hit with our group, that we continued reading some of his other books, The Angel's Game and The Prisoner of Heaven. These gothic novels are set in Barcelona. We were immediately drawn to Shadow of the Wind when we read its intriguing first sentence: "I still remember the day my father took me to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books for the first time."  

The Cemetery of Forgotten Books is in a secret location in Barcelona, in a building Ruiz Zafón describes as "the carcass of a palace, a place of echoes and shadows." In this place, books that are not remembered by anyone are guarded until they reach a new reader's hands. 

The father of the main character, Daniel, runs a bookstore called Sempere and Son. Daniel's father takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, where the young boy chooses a book to protect; it is called The Shadow of the Wind by Julián Carax. His choice changes the course of his life in the coming years.

I would love to visit the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and the Sempere and Son bookstore.  These books make me want to visit Barcelona. If am ever lucky enough to find myself in that city, I imagine I will be looking for that fictitious bookstore and the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.

In recent months, SSJCPL has purchased some new books that made me recall the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.  In each of these non-fiction items, celebrities share their thoughts about favorite books and bookstores.  Just reading their answers to these questions will encourage the thoughtful reader to consider how they would answer them.

My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop
The title is self-explanatory.  It does not, however mention that 84 writers have contributed to this book, describing their favorites and including personal anecdotes. There are too many famous writers to mention here, but let's just choose a few:  Isabelle Allende, Ivan Doig, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., John Grisham, Ann Patchett and Lisa See.

My Ideal Bookshelf
This book title made me think of the old "What books would you bring with you, if you knew you were going to be stranded on a desert island?"question.  It really asked the celebrities to imagine a bookshelf full of the books that shaped who they are today, which might not be the same thing as the ones you would would take with you. The contributors include David Sedaris, Malcolm Gladwell, James Patterson, Stephenie Meyer, Dave Eggars and Alice Waters, to name only a few.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the ideal bookstore, or the books that have helped to create the person that you are today--or even which books you would bring with you to a desert island.  If you visited the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, which book would you choose to guard with your life?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

4 Kids | Happy Birthday, Abraham Lincoln

Today is the day we celebrate the birthday of our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. 

Photo courtesy of
He was born in 1809 in a one-room log cabin in Kentucky. He is remembered for leading our country through one of its bleakest times -- the Civil War. He staunchly opposed the expansion of slavery in our country.

He was our tallest president at 6'4", and the first president to have a beard!

A few things you might not know about our 16th president: He patented a system to alter the buoyancy of steamboats in 1849. In 1863, Lincoln created a national banking system with the National Banking Act which resulted in a standardized currency. And even though hunting was popular in the 1800's, Abe disliked harming or killing animals, even for food.
He was the first president to be assassinated, shot while attending a play. He died on April 15, 1865.
One of the most impressive things I've learned about our 16th president is that he was mostly self-educated. He only had a couple years of formal education.
So in the spirit of self-education, let's all make a promise today to learn more about Abraham Lincoln. You can find a ton of great books about this national hero at the SSJCPL branch libraries. Here are a few of my favorites:
Lincoln's Last Days by Bill O'Reilly is a gripping account of one of the most dramatic nights in American history - of how one gunshot changed the country forever. This book is adapted from Bill O'Reilly's bestselling adult historical thriller, Killing LincolnThis book takes place in the spring of 1865 when President Lincoln travels through Washington, D.C. after finally winning America's bloody Civil War. In the midst of celebrations, Lincoln is assassinated at Ford's Theatre by a famous actor named John Wilkes Booth. What follows is a thrilling chase, ending with a fiery shoot-out and swift justice for the perpetrators.

If you like historical fiction (you know, a made-up story that is set in the past), then check out Deborah Hopkinson's Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek: A Tall, Thin Tale Introducing His Forgotten Frontier Friend. This is a tale of two boys who get themselves into more trouble than bear cubs in a candy store. The year is 1816. Abe is only seven years old, and his pal, Austin, is ten. Abe and Austin decide to journey down to Knob Creek. The water looks scary and deep, and Austin points out that they don’t know how to swim. Nevertheless, they decide to traverse it. I won’t tell you what happens, but let’s just say that our country wouldn’t be the same if Austin hadn’t been there to help his friend.

So in honor of Abraham Lincoln's birthday, let's promise to educate ourselves and learn more about our country's 16th president. Check out all the books about Abraham Lincoln at a SSJCPL branch library near you!

Until next week, happy reading!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Life & Style | Panteha Goes Meditating

One of my new years' resolutions is to learn meditation.

A co-worker suggested Zen meditation and gave me some basic ideas about it. 

For right now, all I am going to do is to sit in a quiet place at home and try to clear my mind and focus and meditate. I heard that I should breath through my nose and count my breaths and sit straight.

Sounds easy enough.

My goal is to do five minutes of meditation this Monday-Sunday and see if I can observe any tangible benefits from it.

So here we go:

Monday, February 4, 2013 9:42 pm

It is 9:42 pm and I am telling my husband that I am going to meditate. I go to my walk-in closet and close the door. I sit cross-legged on the floor, eyes half shut. I try to clear my mind and count my breathing.

I am focusing on my leopard print travel bag to have something to focus on.

I am counting my breaths. One... two...three.

Boom, bang, dang!

My husband opened the closet door.

"I am meditating." I say.

"Woman I have your fresh laundry" are his exact words.

"But I am meditating."

He is apologetic, but he is putting away my laundry.

I am trying to clear my mind and focus on my breathing again.

I hear him burp in the next room. 

"Just ignore him", I say to myself.

One, two, three,....

Another burp.

Where was I?

I lost count.

Our cockatiel Smoky, is whistling from the top of his lungs downstairs and I can hear him all the way from the second floor.
Conspiracy is the word that comes to mind.

My back is really hurting.

Meditation is painful to say the least.

I lost count of my breathing again, so I start from the beginning.

This time, I go all the way to 19.

My five minutes are up.

I feel a sense of accomplishment.

Still the same old Panteha

Tuesday, February 5, 2013 9:20 pm

I meditated for 8 minutes today.

I counted my breaths all the way to 100.

Middle of my back was really hurting while I was sitting cross legged on the floor but my mind was pretty blank.

Is it a good thing?

Next time, I should sit on a pillow. 

At the end I was breathing very peacefully and quietly.

I am still the old Panteha I think.

Wednesday,February 6, 2013 9:56 pm

Today, I read some articles about meditation. 

I have learned that some people make an altar of their favorite things and do their meditations in front of it.

I don't think I am ready for an altar yet.

I am meditating in my walk-in closet again. This time, I am sitting on a folded yoga mat, but it doesn't help with my backpain. 

I am better at counting my breaths. In & out counts as one. I went all the way to 130.  

All of a sudden, I feel like I am outside the world looking in.

Water is dripping in the shower and the dripping is getting louder and louder. 



I have been sleeping better lately. There are nights that it takes me a couple hours of tossing and turning to fall asleep. It hasn't been the case in the past two days. 

Does it have anything to do with meditating?

I have no clue!

Still the same old Panteha.

Thursday, February 7, 2013 10:23 pm

I am cranky and tired.

I didn't go to the gym today and I am in a really bad mood.

I am hoping that meditating is going to help.

It is 10:23 pm and everyone is asleep.

Today, I am resting my back on the wall, trying to calm down, and meditate. I am counting my breathing and I go all the way to 100. 

I think by the time I looked at the clock, I was sitting there for 10 minutes. I am still tired and cranky. 

Sleep is the best medicine for my tired bones.

I am going to bed. Enlightenment can wait.

Friday, February 8, 2013  9:30pm

Cranky and unfocused are the words of the day again. If they give away prizes for crankiness, I would qualify for the gold medal today.

I have been reading a book by Dalai Llama, but today, I feel too ashamed to open it as if I don't deserve reading it.

Let's see if meditation is going to help. Meditated for 5 minutes.

No miracle in sight.

Still cranky.

I am going to bed.

Saturday, February 9, 2013 9:35 pm

I am telling my daughter that I am meditating.

" You are medicating?" she asks.

" No meditating. I am going to basically sit in a quiet corner and think."

God it sounds like I am giving myself a time out at the age of 4o.

I go to my closet and ask my daugther to call me in five minutes.

When she calls, I am not ready to come out. That is a good thing I suppose.

I feel wonderful today, maybe because I went to the gym this morning and had breakfast with my family and cooked a great homemade dinner for my family.

One more day of meditating left.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, February 10, 2013 6:49 pm

I am in my closet meditating again. I like that five minutes of uninterrupted quietness. I am at the end of my experiment.


I think I am going to stick to meditation for a bit longer. I have been sleeping better and I think I am a bit more focused. I think I like these mommy time outs and I shall continue giving myself these five minutes time outs to just sit still and do nothing and just think or try not to think I guess.

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha