Saturday, August 17, 2013

Teens Only | Looking for Alaska

No, I'm not traveling to Alaska anytime soon. The title of this blog is, alas, the title of a really great book which I highly recommend. Looking for Alaska by John Green will make you think. The publisher's blurb begins like this: 

Miles "Pudge" Halter is abandoning his safe-okay, boring-life. Fascinated by the last words of famous people, Pudge leaves for boarding school to seek what a dying Rabelais called the "Great Perhaps."

I want you all to read this book and talk about what the "Great Perhaps" means. Is it, as some readers have suggested, that one turning point in your life when everything (past, present and future) makes sense? When you find your life's meaning? Is it, as others have suggested, something that is never meant to be known? 

Looking for Alaska is gripping. It's Miles' story as he spends his first year at a prep school (away from home) and is introduced to good friends and some rather outlandish pranks. And then the big plot twist: a devastating event that I won't tell you about because I'm not a book plot spoiler. If you notice the chapters are titled "one hundred twenty seven days before" to "three days before," etc., you'll most likely figure it out. But it's the impact of that event, and the coming to terms it inspires that is just momentous. Huge kudos to author John Green for this really compelling read. And by the way, it's a New York Times Bestseller. 

And lest I forget, Looking for Alaska is part of the Library's One Book, One San Joaquin program which kicks off Saturday, September 7th with a really cool event featuring Nancy Pearl at the Janet Leigh Theatre (located on the University of Pacific campus in Stockton). Every year the Library presents a community reading event centered on one book. This year, that book is Nina Sankovitch's Tolstoy and the Purple Chair. You already know this because you saw my colleague Lisa's blog about this program, right? Nina's book is a beautiful tribute to the magical power of reading; John's book definitely shares some themes with that book. It all comes together as we celebrate the beauty and lasting impact of books and reading.

So read Looking for Alaska. Check out the great programs we have slated for One Book, One San Joaquin. And check out the teen program -- Teen Talk and T-Shirt Fun -- for a discussion of Looking for Alaska and a really cool bleach pen art project. And I'll make it easy for you: we've got 2 of those programs scheduled. The first is Tuesday, September 10th at 4 pm at the Tracy Library. The second is Tuesday, September 17th at 4 pm at the Ripon Library. They're free. Join us.

Happy Reading!


Books On Film | Kick-Ass 2

Yesterday saw the release of Kick-Ass 2, a sequel to the movie Kick-Ass (2010). Both films are live-action adaptations of graphic novels by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.

Despite the fact that the story revolves around young protagonists, there is a lot of violence in both the graphic novels and the movies. Neither the graphic novels or movies were written for children/teens. 

The original graphic novel follows teenager Dave Lizewski, who is determined to turn himself into a real-life superhero (Kiss-Ass). He runs across an ex-cop, who has trained his eleven year old daughter to be a vigilante named Hit-Girl, in his quest to take down a drug lord and his son.

The movie sequel is based on the Kiss-Ass 2 and Hit Girl graphic novels. It follows Dave as he joins a vigilante group called "Justice Forever," Hit-Girl as she enters retirement,  and the arrival of a new villain.

The first graphic novel and movie in the series (below).


Cover art courtesy of LibraryThing.
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Friday, August 16, 2013

Miss Moneypennypincher | Free ebooks

I have a bookshelf of dusty books in my home.  I have no idea how much I spent to acquire this collection of books I have either never read, read but would never read again, or books I lend out to friends and reread from time to time.  I don't mind the latter, but looking at that shelf of books reminds me of how much money I wasted on some books that I could have read for free from the library.
I feel the same way about ebooks. Yes, there are some ebooks that can be lent out. Really though, most of the time the ebooks just sit on my ereader account and remind me of the $9.99 I spent that I will never see again.  Many of my friends extol the awesomeness of ebooks and say they will never go back to the actual copies that we lend out at the library.  That's fine, but come to the library to RENT ebooks too!  FREE!  
courtesy of
Look at it this way: If you buy two ebooks a month (let's say an average price of $10), you are spending $240 a year on books sitting in a device.  In fact, you probably deleted half of them and they are waiting in a "Cloud" on your ebook provider's database. There are some subscription services coming around the bend as well.  Amazon has already started a lending library (included with the $79 Prime subscription), but it still can't beat free.

SSJCPL has two ebook services: Axis 360 and Overdrive. The apps and software are free and the books are free to download.  You check them out for between 1 and 3 weeks and there are NO LATE FEES. EVER!  Okay so, no late fees, free book, free checkout, no clutter on your device or computer. That, to me, my friends, is awesomeness!  Also, a helpful tip, if you commute or go out of town, check out the town's library, they might have an ebook service as well.  Many places are happy to sign up out-of-town folks for library cards.  Then you can have access to our ebooks, and theirs as well.

In addition, check out Project Gutenberg, a database with over 43000 free ebooks.  All of the books are available because they have an expired copyright. You have no idea how crazy it makes me when I see someone has paid to download Jane Eyre. 

 Knock Knock
---Who's there?
---Bee Who?
 Bee super smart and save money by getting free ebooks at the library!

 I am getting worse at the jokes, I know.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Wanderlust Librarian | Building a Mystery (Spot)

I love California. The day trips I can take are (at most) an hour or 2 away from my house. I can be at the beach or the mountains in no time at all.

This particular trip started off innocently as one of my group needed to go to Frys. "What's Fry's?", you ask? It's an electronic store for everybody! Look at it like the Costco of electronics parts. From layman to computer engineer, this place has it all. Individual Fry's stores also have different themes ranging from Ancient Rome to the History of Las Vegas. The closest Fry's to the valley is located in Fremont (to the West) or West Sacramento (to the North). Needless to say, the group wanted to get the maximum amount of excitement if we were going to drive out towards San Jose.

A discussion of visiting either Mission San Jose  or the Mystery Spot was asked of the group. I had been to neither place, but I voted for the Mystery Spot since it sounded spookier. Luckily, many of our group chose the same. The drive towards the coast was gorgeous! The weather in the Valley was pushing 95 that day, but the weather in Santa Cruz was cool 82.

We chose a place to eat from watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The Santa Cruz Diner was a great place for us to stop and have lunch before going to our 4:30 pm tour at the Mystery Spot. The diner is known for the Vietnamese soup pho, but since I'd had it before (it was delicious), I enjoyed a chili dog (a guilty pleasure reserved for vacations) instead. 

The Mystery Spot was a short 10-15 minute drive East from one of the main streets in Santa Cruz, Ocean Street. It's off on a bumpy, partially paved road that winds deeper into the hills. The clearing in the path opens to a parking lot and a bright yellow sign stating your destination. There's nothing overly remarkable about the space. There's a gift shop, a snack shop and a couple of bathrooms. The tickets are affordable at $5 per person and $5 per parked car. You can purchase your tickets online or in person. Beware about purchasing in person, if you have more than a couple of people (I was there with 5 other friends), there may not be a tour available until way later in the day. If you purchase online, you can choose a tour time, but your purchase price goes up to $6 per ticket. When I visit again, I will definitely purchase online. The convenience of scheduling a tour time will help you plan a full day in Santa Cruz. 

Tours are called over the intercom about 5 minutes before the tour starts. You meet at the base of hill where your guide explains what the Mystery Spot and it's history is. Since I don't want to give too much away, you go to a small shack up towards the top of a steep-ish hill and you get to experience the Mystery Spot in its full glory. The tour lasts about 45 minutes and it was definitely worth the $5... AND you get a bumper sticker at the end of the experience. 

I went with a 14 year old and a group of adults. We all had a fun time. Lots of laughs, unsteady feet and friends catching each other in 18 degree leans! Make this trip a leisurely outing with friends or with family who love to have fun!

Remember when planning an outing, it doesn't have to be far away! Day trips are out there! 

Book Bucket List | One Book, One San Joaquin

This year's One Book, One San Joaquin program is just around the corner!  The One Book program is meant to inspire reading and community.  This year, we are featuring Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch, Looking for Alaska by John Green for our teen readers, and After Eli by Rebecca Rupp for children.

We are also excited to announce that this year's program will be kicked off by a visit from librarian and author Nancy Pearl!  She will be speaking at the University of the Pacific's Janet Leigh Theatre on Saturday, September 7 at 2:00 p.m.  Join us to kick off this year's exciting reading program!

The featured title this year is Nina Sankovitch's Tolstoy and the Purple Chair.  Nina describes how books and reading helped her get through the grief she felt after her sister's death. Her plan was to read one book per day for an entire year and is able to use the books to reconnect with her family and friends, and eventually come to terms with the death of her sister.  Sankovitch also tells stories about her family history and how books and reading have been a love shared through the generations.

The Ripon Library will be hosting a discussion on Tolstoy and the Purple Chair on Thursday, September 26 at 6 p.m.  Come and see what others thought about the book and share about the love of books and reading.

The teen selection for this year is John Green's Looking for Alaska.  When Miles, aka Pudge, starts high school at a boarding school in Alabama, he is searching for "the great perhaps."  Once he is there he not only finds his first real friend "the Colonel", but once he meets the beautiful and enigmatic Alaska Young, his life is never the same. 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.

After Eli by Rebecca Rupp is the featured children's book for this year's One Book, One San Joaquin program.  The story follows Daniel, a young boy who is trying to come to terms with the death of his older brother Eli.  Eli died while serving while serving in the military in the Middle East, which obviously, and understandably throws his family's world upside down.  The summer after Eli's death, Daniel starts to learn what really is important to him and what kind of person he wants to become.

You can checkout all of these great books from our libraries! Don't forget to check out our website to see all of the great One Book, One San Joaquin programs coming in September!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Learning | Learning From Each Other

Ever since Suzy pointed out that it's back to school time, I've noticed people getting ready for school. There are sales in the stores for school supplies, and library customers have been talking about school starting for weeks. Most students are already back at school, or will be in school very soon. I just can't deny it; summer is ending.

There's a new picture book that arrived just in time for the new school year. Al Yankovic's My New Teacher and  Me is a story told in rhymes.  Mr. Yankovic (who usually goes by the name "Weird Al") seems to have been influenced by Dr. Seuss for this project. The "me" in the book title is Little Billy; on the first day of the school year, he tells so many tall tales that his new teacher, Mr. Booth, is skeptical. In fact, Mr. Booth uses the words "highly unlikely" in response to the first story Little Billy tells. But something happens near the end of the book that makes him wonder if he's wrong about that.

This is a book that will make you giggle, but it will also make you remember that, just as students learn from teachers, teachers learn from students.  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

4 Kids | Perfect Game

It was just over a year ago when San Francisco Giants' pitcher Matt Cain pitched a perfect game. What's a perfect game, you ask? Well, it's when a pitcher pitches a minimum of 9 innings without anyone on the other team reaching base. Matt Cain did it against the Houston Astros on June 13, 2012 -- the first pitcher to do it in Giants' franchise history.
You might be wondering where I'm going with this.
Well, for many of you, today is the first day of school. Yes, I know I blogged about "Back to School" last week (even though that was more about obedience school). But today I'm wondering how many of you will have a perfect game this year -- or rather, perfect attendance.
Perfect attendance. As in not missing even ONE day of school. Have you done it before? Huge props if you have. But on this first day of a new school year, why don't we make a promise to not miss even one day of school.
You can do it. You really can.
I know. I know. If you wake up in the middle of the night with stomach flu and spend the early hours of the day lying on the bathroom floor, I can understand staying home from school.
But really, haven't we all stayed home from school for no good reason? I don't want a show of hands here. But let's just be honest with ourselves. Lots of us have probably stayed home when we really could have gone to school.
So let's make this a perfect year! No faking being sick. Are you with me?
Here's the deal: if you stay home from school when you're really, truly not sick, you are going to miss something. Maybe it's an important assignment. Maybe it's an important math thing that you'll need the rest of your life. Maybe it's hearing a funny story read by your teacher. Maybe it's the chance to give the right answer to a question when no one else in your class can. That would be cool, right?
Staying home from school (or work) when I'm not sick reminds me of a great poem by Shel Silverstein, simply titled "Sick." You can find this poem in that great collection of Shel's poems, Where the Sidewalk Ends. "Sick" is the story of little Peggy Ann McKay who simply cannot go to school because she's got a whole lot of sickness going on. Here are my favorite lines:
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button's caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained,
My 'pendix pains each time it rains.
Pretty funny, right? I don't want to ruin the ending if you haven't read it yet. But let's just say Peggy Ann McKay learns a thing or two.
But seriously, make a promise to yourself to have a perfect game -- I mean, perfect attendance -- this year.
And don't forget, the library is full of great resources to help you with those school assignments. Visit us often.
Here's to a wonderful school year!
Happy reading!

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Professor And The Convention...

Greetings and Salutations fellow scholars of the graphic novel!

About two weeks ago, Professor O was very lucky to be in this particular area of the space time continuum (I sometimes travel through wormholes, black holes, time folds, and even find myself hanging out with Schrödinger's Cat every once and a while), when I came upon the most marvelous of events: The Stockton Comic Convention.

Professor O very was impressed with the classic comic book convention feel, rootsy independence, and with a Hollywood presence that was (thankfully) missing. The bigger comic conventions held in bigger venues, all now bow down to the machinations of Hollywood's P.R. spectacle. Comic book conventions are now a conglomerate of movie studios pushing their upcoming movies with self indulgent promotions. This is fine, until one visits a small convention, like seeing an indie band in a small venue, the experience is much more personal.

A good time had by all!

A little of what the Professor saw...

R2D2 making his way through the crowd.

Cobra Commander pointing to the concession stand.

A 15ft Alien cosplayer, who hit everyone with his tail.

A great turnout!

Until next time, keep reading comics!

Professor O

Just Life | Visual Clutter

Visual clutter gives me heart burn. 

Right now, inside my pantry is a visual clutter from hell. All the cans, cereal boxes, spices, art supplies, and everything else that I have crammed inside my poor pantry, has grown legs and are now walking around my pantry like zombies launching at me every time I open my pantry.

Now a days , I cringe every time I open my pantry.

Am I the only person who finds the visual clutters so disorienting and painful?

I wonder!

Back in college, I even had to clean my room thoroughly before any exam, otherwise I couldn't study.

I would love to have a clutter- free house but who has time. Maybe, I should add it to my retirement's bucket list. 

Bucket list number 898- Have a clutter free house.

Who knows, maybe, I will achieve enough free time and wisdom to let go of all the useless things that are piling up in my house at an exponential rate by the ripe age of 80.

Until then, I try to de-clutter whenever I get a chance and that is O.K.

If you are tired of all the clutter around your house, take a look at following article for some pretty good tips on kicking it to the curb. 

Clutter- Busting Secrets of the Pros

Here are few books on these topics from your local library:

Kick the clutter : clear out excess stuff without losing what you love

Stop clutter from stealing your life : discover why you clutter & how you can stop 

Lighten up : love what you have, have what you need, be happier with less

Enough already! : clearing mental clutter to become the best you  

The get organized answer book

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha