2015 Year in Review!

So it’s time again for the year in review! It’s still January so that means it’s not too late. Right? I’ve done this the last few years and it’s been interesting to look back through the year and remember it all.
2015 was great! I discovered that I unabashedly love sewing, the Great British Baking Show, Dungeons & Dragons, comics, tabletop board games, Rey, Finn, and Poe, and Hamilton (I’m a little late to the bandwagon but I am ON IT). So basically I am now the uber-nerdy version of myself. That’s ok!
Last Year’s goals are below. Let’s see how I did:

  • Spend more time with family and friends.
  • Regain title of favorite aunt to my nieces and nephews. I think I’ve been slacking.
  • Keep reading but focus on reading widely and not feeling so guilty about reading adult books! I like Book Riot’s suggestions for reading goals.
  • Get my hip 100% healthy.
  • Continue to grow in my job and become more confident as an advocate for teen services in libraries.
  • Make full use of my vacation time.
  • Be better about posting here once a week.

I got to spend lots of time with friends and even made some new ones this year. It’s fun to get to know all the friends and acquaintances of a S.O! You get to have twice as many friends and that’s really lovely. My sister and her family visited me over the summer, I went home in September, and am going home in two days. While I never see my family as much as I would like due to almost 1,000 miles, I got to have some good quality time with them.

I’m totally the favorite aunt. I’m fun and I buy them lightsabers and Star Trek gear for Christmas. Best aunt? Probably.

I read more adult books this year than I have in a while and I didn’t feel too guilty about it. I pushed myself to read some YA books that I wouldn’t necessarily pick up on my own so that helped to alleviate the guilt some. I kept track of some of the demographics of the books that I read and last year 53% of the authors were women and 28% were people of color. I’m happy about the women but know I could better about reading more writers of different backgrounds and experiences.

My hip is not quite 100% but I did run more this year. I’m back in PT and more hopeful than I was before going back.

The job is going well; I feel like I’m doing okay. Training a new colleague has been an interesting experience. I don’t think I’m particularly good at it but it’s been a great challenge for me.

I am wringing every last day out of my vacation time. Next year I finally get my full four weeks so I’m excited to be a bit more frivolous with it! Plus I have plans to have a big 30th birthday vacation with girlfriends, and some shorter trips around New England.

Ok, so I was kind of crap at posting every week. November I didn’t post at all! Oops! But, I am writing at WWAC and I love it. It’s so fun to have a group of awesome women to chat and write with.

So 2015 was ok, let’s make 2016 better.

Here’s some goals:

Read more, sew more, bake more, write more, run more (and get better!), game more, librarian more, and well . . . more. Just more of all of it, really!

Anyone here have some other suggestions for 2016? Doing anything awesome?

 

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My Best Books of 2015

Best Books
Hello! Yes, yes, I’m a terrible poster. I know that I’ve truly failed because my friend Jenny had a BABY and has posted way more than me. I don’t even have a baby to show for it. I have . . . been working on my winter weight? I don’t know. (I am posting at WWAC if you’re desperate for my brilliant thoughts.)

But today I’m going to present to you the best 25 books I read this year. I’m hoping to get to 100 books before the end of the year and if any of the ones I’m reading are amazing then I will update you. Ok, well I’m currently listening to the Fellowship of the Ring on audio because I’ve never listened to it before and it is delightful. Definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year  . . . and every year that I read it. I had a bit trouble with an “unabridged” copy of the radio play from Hoopla. The record doesn’t make it clear that it’s a radio play and while yes the play is unabridged, it’s not the full text of the book. You tricked me Hoopla; I may write you a strongly worded letter!

Ok, so here’s my top 25 books that I read this year in alphabetical order.

Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Everyone should read this book about the immigrant experience and  a “Non American Black” perspective on race. If you like audiobooks, the narrator is really great, too!
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli – A cute and funny coming out story that’s about more than just coming out.
Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad – M.T. Anderson – This book is incredible for anyone interested in music, the Russian front of WWII, or the complicated situation of artists during Stalin’s regime.
The Darkest Part of the Forest – Holly Black – A dark fairy tale about a prince in a glass coffin, a lady knight, and the violence of childhood.
Through the Woods – Emily Carroll – Graphic (like with pictures but also with blood) short horror tales. Do NOT read at night if you are a ‘fraidy cat like me.
Make your Home Among Strangers – Jeninne Cap Crucet – The story of a Cuban American and her first year at an ivy league school, set against the backdrop of an Elian Gonzalez like story in Miami.
Hausfrau – Jill Alexander Essbaum – Is the main character unlikeable and make bad decisions? Yes, but that’s ok. A disaffected housewife and American expat struggles to find herself.
An Untamed State – Roxane Gay – A difficult story to read; there are graphic descriptions of rape and sexual violence so be forewarned. But the writing is beautiful and the story will stick with you.
Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future – A.S. King – Visions of a feminist’s nightmare where women are not allowed to work and more? The gendered horror of A Handmaid’s Tale for the YA set.
The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison – I had never read any Toni Morrison and this was heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time.
Everything I never told you – Celeste Ng – Betty Crocker’s Cookbook – and even the part where “Betty” tells you to make sure you know how to make your husband eggs a part I remember reading and cringing over as a child – plays a big role in this coming of age story.
Girl at War – Sara Novic – Escaping from Croatia in the 1990s and then returning to reckon with it. This is the author’s first book and it’s really spectacular.
Uprooted – Naomi Novik – A perfect, grownup fairy tale complete with evil trees, magic, and the influence of Eastern European folklore.
The Scared Lies of Minnow Bly – Stephanie Oaks – Apparently a retelling of the Grimm fairytale The Handless Maiden with a cult setting. 2015 was the year of the cult for YA books!
Shadowshaper – Daniel Jose Older – Urban fantasy set in Brooklyn with an interesting premise and cultural commentary on everything from street harassment to gentrification.
Re Jane – Patricia Park – A Jane Eyre retelling set in Queens with a Korean American Jane and a literature professor Rochester.
The Bees – Laline Paull – A special bee – Flora 717 – defies all the rules of the hive to save it. At the beginning of the book, you think you won’t care so much about a little bee but you really will. Flora 717 might be one of my favorite characters from this year’s books.
Gabi, a girl in pieces – Isabel Quintero – A sweet coming of age stuck in between a parent’s expectations and the realities of life.
Carry On – Rainbow Rowell – The fantasy Harry Potter-esque book from Rowell’s Fangirl come to life! I unashamedly squealed and fist pumped in my car while listening to this book. When you get there you’ll know. Also, I love Rowell’s magic system and the way that she subverts HP plots and tropes.
Bone Gap – Laura Ruby – It took me two tries to read this. I couldn’t get into the print version but the audio was great. A tale of magic realism reminiscent of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. Bees are also important, so if you read Paull’s The Bees and need more bee stories, get this one next.
The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights – Steve Sheinkin – An important and infuriating case of racial discrimination from WWII that I had no idea about.
In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette – Hampton Sides – Polar exploration before the Heroic Age of Polar Exploration. If you know me, you know I love polar exploration and sailing stories. This book was basically written just for me.
Nimona – Noelle Stevenson – A shape shifting teen joins a supervillain for fun and serious thoughts violence, morality, and roles people are expected to play.
This One Summer – Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki – Beautiful art and story about a girl’s summer between childhood and teendom and all the growing pains therein.
The Martian – Andy Weir – Pure potato porn. Poor Mark Watney! But seriously an exciting, and surprisingly funny book.
Some recurring themes I’m noticing from my list: bees, retellings of fairy tales or myths, immigrant stories, feminism, debut authors, an effort to read more diversely (aka not white authors).
Here’s some other books in best categories that I’m making up right now:
Best book that I didn’t want to like because it’s basically the output of a Teen Dystopia Generator, but ended up liking anyway dang it: Red Queen – Victoria Aveyard
Best book that’s like the show Supernatural with a teen girl protagonist: The Awesome – Eva Darrows
Best Comics series you should be reading  – Squirrel Girl, Lumberjanes, Rat Queens, Saga, Ms. Marvel, The Wicked + the Divine, Alex & Ada, Princeless, Paper Girls, Gotham Academy
Best books for vacation reading and making you hungryCrazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend – Kevin Kwan
Best bestseller that I thought I would hate so waited two years to read and actually kind of liked: Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
What about you? Do you have a favorite book or books from this year? Anything that I missed that I should definitely read in 2016? Let me know!
I should also tell you that one of my resolutions for 2016 other than to do the dishes in a more timely manner and learn to install a zipper, is to update more often. I will try!

 

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Training is hard

Training a coworker is really hard. I feel like I don’t have a lot of the answers and it’s hard to find a mix between informative and overwhelming. Plus, it’s a whole new person and personality to learn. Rebecca is lovely and great with the teens. I love how many good ideas she has and how willing she is to just try out new ideas. I think she’s going to make the teen department great!

It’s been two weeks so hopefully the real “training” part is going to end soon!

I don’t have much to say other than that so instead enjoy this delightful MC Lars video about children’s books:

Also go read Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy. It’s delightful!

 

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Back from vacation!

Hello all! I’m back from Chicago!

Chicago skyline from the Shedd front steps!

Chicago skyline from the Shedd front steps!

Lovely boyfriend Doug and I went out for a few days to see family, celebrate my Mom’s birthday, and just relax! It was a much needed break after a long summer of solo teen room staffing and a long hiring process. We interviewed five candidates – which was a lot! Everyone was really great and it was a difficult decision, but my new teen buddy is starting next Tuesday. I’ll tell you more about her soon. I think she’s going to be amazing!

Girls-Who-Code-logo

Other than hiring the biggest thing I’ve been working on at work has been Girls Who Code. I don’t think that I’ve talked about it here but it’s a BIG program for the library. Girls Who Code is an organization that helps coordinate free coding/programming clubs for girls in grades 6 – 12. It’s a year long program where the girls meet for two hours every week and learn the basics of programming (but not the BASICs of programming, know what I mean?!) and languages like HTML, CSS, Python, JavaScript, and more. It’s amazing! If you’ve heard of the Tampon Run game, you’ve heard of Girls Who Code. Seriously, it’s an amazing organization and our GWC @ MHL club will be launching next Saturday. It’s been a lot of work, but I’m so excited about it. Right now I have about 40 interested girls for 12 spots. Hopefully next year we can either do more clubs or accommodate more people. We’re limited by the amount of computers and time we have right now. Or maybe the schools will host a lot of clubs and the Merrimack Valley will become like a lady Silicon Valley. I can dream!

Also, my library’s next Pub Trivia will be 11/10 at 7:30 at Andolini’s in Andover. You should come! My cohost Curtis and I basically have the exact same haircut. It’s hilarious and fun to witness.

Finally, if you have extra cash laying around please contribute to WWAC’s Indiegogo. We’re trying to reach our last stretch goal, which will be an emergency fund for WWAC writers. I love this idea! God forbid anything happen to me or my job, but there are a lot of women who write for the site who freelance or just generally are making all their income off writing. I am so impressed and in awe of them, but I know it’s not the most stable job. So help us out if you can.

I’ll leave you with this blurry picture from my birthday because I really wish I knew what was happening here. Cheers!

IMG_1135

 

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Books you should read: Summer 2015 edition

Friends! I am on vacation next week so I’m going to get this out to you as soon as possible. I assume you want book recommendations because who doesn’t? So I’m going to give them to you quick and dirty (hehe).

Books I read this summer that you should read if you . . .

redqueen. . . liked The Hunger Games and feel like you want another YA dystopian series that you can’t put down: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. Ok, only the first book is out but I ended up liking this one a lot more than I thought I would. While it seems pretty derivative at first, Aveyard takes the Roman gladiatorial combat of The Hunger Games to interesting places. There’s a love triangle so watch out if that’s not your thing. But seriously, A+ for plotting. This runs away like a little dynamo if you let it. I’ll probably read the next three books as they come out. Not as well written as The Hunger Games but better written than Brandon Sanderson, so there’s your literary evaluation.

. . . like your fantasy standalone, different, and dark: Uprooted by Naomi Novik. This book was so good! I thought the combo of a twisted fairy tale, evil forest, and mysterious sorcerer worked really well. It take a bit to get going but it sticks with you. Great if you like the grown up fairytale like feel of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust but want it slightly more serious.

. . . like polar adventure and survival stories: In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Voyage of the USS Jeannette. I LOVE polar adventure and survival stories. Stories about Shackleton or others from the Heroic Age of Polar Exploration? Yes please. Stories about sailing and shipwrecks? Give me more, bonus points if they’re about whaling. Stories with gruesome facts about the effects of sub freezing weather on people’s health? Yes, gimme those frostbitten feet tales! This book about a pretty early, and ill-conceived attempt to reach the North Pole by sea has it all.

crazyrichasians. . . like to name drop designers and love a beachy read that needs a Tolstoy-esque cast of characters at the beginning: Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend. There are a million people and they are all related. It’s hilarious, scandalous, witty, and will make you want to go to Singapore for the food alone.

. . . love Jane Eyre but think that maybe Jane is too good for Rochester: Re Jane, a re-telling of Jane Eyre set in Queens with a Korean American Jane, an struggling English professor Rochester, and a hippie to the max Bertha.

. . . want a comic with nods to famous characters, is set in a mysterious boarding school, and is just utterly charming: Gotham Academy. I’m not that much a DC girl but damn is this series great! The characters are intriguing and delightful – in the case of Maps! – and the art is top notch.

Those are some of my favorites from this summer. I’m currently reading The Bees by Laline Paull and An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. These both started out slow but I’m really enjoying them now!

Finally, don’t forget there is still time to donate to the Women Write About Comics Indiegogo campaign. We’re hoping to pay writers, prints zines, and do lots of cool stuff! Any amount is great but $10 will get you a handwritten thank you note. Probably from Canada which is pretty cool….

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