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….

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

WWAC IndieGoGo and library hiring

I hope that this will be one of the last quick catch up posts for a while. Work has been pretty tiring and I don’t think I anticipated how much it would affect me. It’s not so much that I’m stressed but just tired. I feel that everything for the most part is under control. I have the calendar all set for the next month, and I’m working on November/December now, but I’m just tired of doing it all myself. I realize that this is a problem few teen librarians have and that I should be grateful. And I am, but I got used to having a partner!

This is how I've felt for the last few months.

This is how I’ve felt for the last few months.

Plus, there’s the actual interviewing and hiring. I’ve never done that before – not for a full time position at least – so I’m pretty nervous. The whole process of reviewing applications and talking about interview questions has made me feel like I’m interviewing for my position all over again. I keep thinking, “Why I hire me? I don’t have THAT much experience in x, y, z…” So it’s been hard. I have multiple interviews stretched out over the next two weeks. It’s a big decision and I know that I have a hiring committee with me, but this person and I will work so closely so it feels really monumental.

But the important thing about hiring other than for me to get another buddy, is the the teens of Andover get to have two really great teen librarians who care about them and do awesome things for them. I’m hoping to find a good fit for the teens and myself. (It’s like I’m on a dating show, really….)

After these two weeks? Doug and I are doing to Chicago to hang with my family and relax.

aziz relax

Finally, I talk all the time about writing for Women Write About Comics and how much I love it. Well, if you love it too, please give us money to help jumpstart the website as a sustainable business. We’d really like to do cool things like publish a zine in print, reach more people with our awesome comics and pop culture criticism, and pay writers! It’d be so cool to get paid for writing – 16 year-old Anna’s dream come true! Well, maybe not my exact dream of writing the Great American Novel, so maybe I can write the Great American Blog Post About YA Books And Get Paid For It. That’s my new dream.

par excitedI have a post started about books you should read for the fall. Hopefully next week I can get that out to you!

Thanks for letting me truly express myself through Parks and Recreation gifs.



Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Do all the things!

This has been my summer so far:


Allie Brosh, bless you for this illustration and the inspiration for all these memes.

There have been so many big things that seem to be taking over my (mostly professional) life this summer. First there is summer reading, though that was less stressful than last year. Last year we set up our Volunteen program in a very strange, very time consuming way with three different sections meeting every week. Sure we had a lot of kids but it was so taxing on us and I’m not even sure that the Volunteens had all that great of a time. So this year it was simple: three days of two hours each to make a Superhero Training Camp for elementary aged kids. This worked out so much better and everyone had a great time. Be sure to check out of the pics on the MHL Teen Room Instagram!

I mentioned a bit ago that I applied to be the YALSA Hub blog manager and I . . . did not get that! But that’s ok. Really, at this particular moment having that would just be another stress mountain that would come and sit on my shoulderblades and turn into a stress knot. (Don’t worry, I’m getting a massage on Friday.) Plus, I am not the most organized so it may not ever be a good job for me. I’m relieved. Instead, a fellow Hub Blogger, Molly Wetta, who runs the awesome blog Wrapped up in Books got the job and she’s seriously great. She’s going to do such a wonderful job!

But instead of being the Hub Manager I was appointed to the Hub Advisory Board with YALSA, so that’s pretty great. I’m excited to still be involved with the Hub even though I am content to not be writing for them anymore. Add that to my membership on the Research Journal Advisory Board and I’m excited about the work that I’m doing with YALSA. They provide really great resources for teen librarians and others who work with teens and literature. Not to be too weird, but consider joining YALSA! It can be really hard to be in ALA because it’s not especially cheap but I think YALSA really makes it worth while.

This summer I was also working with the director and some library furniture vendors to do some renovation work in the teen room. Friends, I am SO excited about this. I think it’s going to really improve the teen room’s seating, shelving, and general atmosphere.

IMG_0760The picture above is already step two in the process. There used to be eight computers on three large tables in this space where these tall cafe tables are. Four more computers were in the glassed in room on the right (with the bright green tiles above) and those cafe tables were in there. When we did some redesigning in the reference area, we got the old reference carrels. They work really well to have all 12 teen computers in the glassed in room. I’m not particularly enamored with the cafe tables so with help from the director I worked on a new plan for some regular square and rectangle tables, some comfy chairs, and new shelving. We desperately need more shelving in the teen room. Right now if a book doesn’t circulate in a year, we have to weed it. We have an amazing budget given to us by the town and from the director of the library and with our current space, we’d either have to cut our budget or continue to weed heavily. Heavy weeding doesn’t allow us to have a robust collection. Right now we have a lot, but it’s lacking in depth. We need a deep and wide collection, just like the old church camp song. So new shelving will help.

It’s going to be more exciting too! We’re getting orange laminate topped tables, bright purple vinyl squishy chairs, green plastic chairs, and green stools. It’s going to be borderline obnoxious in there. I will love it. I think teens will too.

The last professional thing that is about to get really crazy is that we are hiring a new teen librarian! My lovely co-teen librarian Clare has moved to a cataloging and reference job. She even moved offices which is pretty sad; the teen office is kind of lonely! But I’m excited for Clare to have a new position and I’m excited to get a new person, so if you know a teen librarian or are a teen librarian who would like to come work with me in Andover, please apply! We have lots of fun and I have big plans for the fall!

This will us after we become work friends!

This will us after we become work friends! Bonus points if you know what episode they were filming!

Women Write About Comics has also been taking over my life a bit, too, but I don’t mind. It’s been nice to write about different topics. Well, not THAT different I’m still writing about books . . . and I reviewed a library app . . . and maybe I’ll have a library column? But it’s DIFFERENT. It’s at least at a different address, so that’s something. I got to write about Jesuits in Space for a wider audience so that makes me happy. Anything to spread the message of Jesuits in Space.

Well fellow library and book friends, that’s all for me. I hope to post a few times a month, so pester me if you don’t see me here!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Craft time: Easy Doctor Who Adipose Plushies!

adipose giphy
I promised you a Doctor Who Apidose Plushie tutorial and I’m going to DELIVER! This tutorial is based on Erica Kern’s tutorial but made easier for those who don’t have a sewing machine or don’t want to use a sewing machine with teens. I may try her tutorial some day because it’s adorable and really professional looking, but for the teen room I went with easy.

Here we go! You will need:

-white polar fleece (I got like 1 1/2 yards and have a TON left)
-sewing needles
-white embroidery floss or thread
-black embroidery floss
-poly fill or some other stuffing
-black beads for eyes
-paper template

Step One: Freehand an adipose template. Or download a picture of one and trace the outline onto some construction paper or cardstock.


Step Two: Place your template on your fleece that is still folded together. Trace the template with a fabric marker or . . . a Sharpie because you are at work and forgot a fabric marker!


Step Three: Cut out the template making sure you’re holding the folded fabric together. That way you will get two fabric pieces that are the same shape/size.


Step Four: Mark spots for the eyes and mouth on one fabric piece. Sew on the eyes with black beads and black thread.


Step Five: Sew on the mouth with a straight stitch or whatever fancy stitch you know that can make a smile with the black thread. (Can you tell I’m not an embroidery expert?)


Step Six: Whip stitch the two pieces together almost all the way around. Leave the top of the head open.


Step Seven: Stuff it with poly fill! Make sure you get into the legs and arms. Stitch it up some more, leaving about an inch open.


Step Eight: Do a final stuffing to make sure you have the fullness you want and then stitch up the opening and tie off your string.

Step Nine: Admire your handiwork!

TA-DA! You’ve made an easy and cute Adipose. You can see some of the adventures that the adiposes the teens made had in the library on our Instagram feed.

Any cute crafts you want to share? I’m always looking for ideas!





Tagged , , , ,

I finally read Gone Girl! Hello 2012!

Ugh movie cover.

Ugh movie cover.

I realize that everyone else in the world has read Gone Girl, but I finally got around to it. At first, because I’m a jerk, I didn’t read it because it was popular and everyone was reading. If everyone likes it, it must appeal to the common masses and therefore is crap. I am not going to waste my time reading a popular thriller. I was an English major! I’ve read Henry James!

Did I mention I’m a jerk?

There’s a little part of me that is still really snobby. That part of me loves to read poetry, literary fiction, Thomas Hardy and Henry James books (even though they don’t always seem to esteem women so much), the more enlightened end of the YA spectrum. I really am insufferable sometimes. Most of the time I’m ok with being a snob and other days I feel really bad about it. I also believe that you should read what you want, and sometimes that butts heads with my snobbery. So for me, I’ve just decide to do a little of both. Read something with “literary merit” and then read something not so critically well-received.

This summer I wanted to read Gone Girl I mean, everyone was talking about it three years. It’s been so popular that they’ve already made a movie of it and everyone else has moved on. Not me! I finally read and I did really like it. It was actual a review in the New York Times – I think I can’t find the article again – that made me want to read it. I remember the review having a point that was something along the lines of ,”Feminism means that women get to be just as unlikeable and scary as men.” Obviously, this is not ALL that feminism means, but I was intrigued.

And Amy – or Amazing Amy – is pretty damn unlikeable and scary. I know that I’m not supposed to like her . . . but I did sort of admire how smart she was in all of her planning. Obviously she is a bad person, but it was interesting to read about her. Similarly, her “Cool Girl” rant in the middle of the novel is a lot like some expectations and/or tropes of women in media, so I appreciated that.

Is the the most amazing book I’ve ever read? No but I really enjoyed. It’s kind of sad how often I am shocked by the realization that popular books can actually be good! Anyone else read some good page turners this summer?

Stay tuned for next week when I do a little tutorial on how to make a modified, easier version of these guys from Doctor Who:

adiposeThis tutorial is from Erica Kern, but since it was for a craft for our Doctor Who Club at work I didn’t want to bring in my sewing machine. I’ll show you how to do it slightly easier, but still pretty cute!

Finally, stuff of mine is going up a few times a month at WWAC. Check it out if you’re so inclined. It’s an amazing group of ladies, like I’ve said, and it’s so nice to have an editor. Editors make your writing so much better! This blog could definitely use one.

See you next week!

adipose giphy

Tagged , , , ,

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 569 other followers

%d bloggers like this: