Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Reaching Young Adults--More Ideas.

At the recent Public Library Association conference in Portland Oregon, there was a session on reaching out to GenX/Y/Millenials.

PLA 2010 Conference: Reaching “Quarter-Life” Adults and Young Professionals

There are some very interesting ideas. I wonder if I can talk Madame Director into letting us show movies on our flat roof?  Hmmmm...........



Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I Won I Won I Won

So my ffeeps and close friends and coworkers have already been assaulted with this but I was one of the top three essayists for the LISNews Essay Contest!  Hooray! 

The comments have been interesting, mostly very supportive, for which I'm thrilled and grateful. I hope it inspires people to think outside of the box. I hope they'll reach out to working adults, not just in the age groups I mentioned, but as a whole. I'd love to see a resurgence and enthusiasm for adult programming that children's and teen librarians are constantly trying to achieve. And if your library is doing something awesome, I'd certainly welcome an email so I can share it with others--the library collective can certainly come up with more ideas than I alone can.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Book Review: Elvis and the Grateful Dead by Peggy Webb

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book via LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program in exchange for reviewing it on LibraryThing.

Elvis and the Grateful Dead
A Southern Cousins Mystery
by Peggy Webb

An Elvis impersonator festival and contest should be full of sequins, crooners, good music and food--especially when it's being held in the King's hometown. But when someone starts picking off the impersonators, it's up to Callie Jones, her estranged mystery man ex-husband, and her basset hound Elvis (who IS the reincarnation of the King) to solve the mystery and keep cooking cousin Lovie out of the Jailhouse.

The good:
The story is told by both Callie and Elvis (the dog). Their voices are very distinct and amusing. Elvis spends a lot of time "singing" references, which can be a little distracting but I can imagine a friend of mine's basset hound doing this. 

Well developed secondary characters. Though I never really felt for the Elvis's who were being killed, I could completely recognize some of the other town characters. Callie's Mom was delightfully outrageous and many will be able to identify a beloved Uncle who is ready to lend an ear, helping hand, and sage advice. 

I didn't figure the mystery out until the end. That's always a challenge for me, because very often one sees it coming and then you have to decide whether or not to slog on through. 

The bad:
Webb occasionally switches narration mid-chapter. That was a little confusing the first time as usually you got a fresh chapter.

Callie is obsessed with having children and a "good father" to go with that. Certainly that's a big part of her character but the dwelling on having babies and how her ex isn't good father material makes her less dynamic.

The confusing not-quite-ex-husband thing. Personally, I can't say I'd let my soon-to-be-ex wash my back (literally) if it was serious enough that we were divorcing. It's clear that he doesn't want the divorce, but Callie's a confused bundle of nerves. She vacillates from sleeping with her ex husband in Chapter 2 to a possible new love interest by the end of the book, which was a little overdone for me.

There's some definite male as heroic rescuer that gets a little old. The whole idea of always needing a big strong man to rescue one grated a bit.  

Elvis' constant singing could certainly get old after a while if one isn't a fan of the King.

Slightly over-referenced book one of the series. I felt like I almost didn't need to read it because everything was rehashed in book two.

What I'd like to see more of:
The relationship between Callie and her mother. It reminded me a bit of Donna Andrews' style, which I adore, and I'd like to see more of that.

A very cute addition to the cozy mystery section. Book one is going on the hold list at work.  Share with your animal and cozy mystery lovers.  

Friday, March 12, 2010

Book Review: Dusted to Death by Barbara Colley

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book via LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program in exchange for reviewing it on LibraryThing.

 Dusted to Death
Barbara Colley

The plot:  Charlotte's been called in to keep an eye on the house of one of her more difficult clients while they shoot a movie there. Amid the drama queen leading lady, her intimidating bodyguard, an attractive older male actor and the chaos of filming in an older New Orleans home, there is a messy murder. Not only does it ruin a rug, it might ruin the movie. 

Charlotte is a multi-faceted character, what with some romance with her next door neighbor, problems with her son, and the realities of not being a twenty something who spends all of her money on shoes, handbags, and fancy dates. Brought in to mind the movie set and make sure none of her client's "treasures" are destroyed, she gets an interesting look behind the scenes of film-making. She has a crush on the leading man, an older actor whose heartthrob status has lasted and his gentlemanly nature only wins him more brownie points.

The book focuses behind the scenes on not only the actors but the people whose names only fly past up on the credits: prop masters etc and the creepy paparazzi that orbit that world. It's nice to get a sense of their frenzy, frustration, and planning.  

Though I could tell I'd dropped into the middle of the series and probably wasn't fully grasping the implications of all of the references, the book was able to stand by itself without a lot of filler backlog giving me history of books I hadn't and might not ever read. I really liked that. The romantic aspect was really obvious, but it didn't detract from the book. I got the sense that it would have been more well rounded had I read other books in the series. 

The biggest issue I had with the book was the film's leading lady Angel's, whose "real life" presented some confusion insofar as her age and personality. She  is supposed to be in the role of a young engenue, playing a younger girl, but the various descriptions given of her background seemed to add up to someone closer to 30. It seemed like too much had happened to her for her still to be playing a Catholic schoolgirl.That jarred me out of the story a bit. She also was fluxtuating a little too fast between being a sweet girl under pressure and being a royal Hollywood party girl diva. Her secret past required just a little too much abandoning of reality--particularly in this day and age where it's hard to keep ones past buried.  

An enjoyable cozy mystery and, from the ending, one where I would be interested in going back and finding out some of the previous events leading up to it. Just as soon as I wade through my reading basket.   

Monday, March 08, 2010

Web Animal

Found via Jennie Law--who is back from New Zealand.  Oh so jealous...

According to a Web Behavior Survey: I'm an ostrich 

Fast-moving - We can tell from your results that you are a speedy surfer - one of the characteristics of the Web Ostrich, whose real-world counterpart has an impressive top speed of 45mph.

Sociable - The web is a social place. You take full advantage of this when you search for information by using social networks and other sites whose content is created by its users. Real-world ostriches are also highly social, even keeping eggs in each other’s nests to share the burden.

Specialised - The real-world ostrich is a true specialist, highly adapted to survive in hot, dusty African grasslands. You might not be at risk from lions when browsing the web, but you are still very focused. From your test we can tell you do best when you concentrate on one task at time, rather than several things at once.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Wimp Yourself!

Madame Storyteller pointed me to this one. 

Wimp Yourself for the Upcoming Diary of a Wimpy Kid  movie!

Meanwhile, this wimp is off to Zumba.  Going for a more slightly more toned hedgehog. 

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Book Review: Cart Before the Corpse by Carloyn McSparren

**I received an e-book version of this book as part of my participation in LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program.**

The Cart Before the Corpse
by Carolyn McSparren

Cart Before the Corpse is a cozy mystery, with Merry Abbott trying to figure out who killed the father who she was estranged from for the majority of her life. It comes as the first spin off of a collectively written series called the Mossy Creek Hometown Series. I've not read the latter, but they're floating around the system, so I might try to get through at least the first one.

Merry, a horse/carriage trainer and show manager who won't herself drive, learns at the end of a show that her father has been murdered. She drives down to where she had planned to meet her father on his new horse training farm in rural Georgia and, as the heir, must sort out who did it along with deciding whether or not to stay on the farm she now owns.

Overall the book was okay, not something I'd have picked up otherwise and not something I'm particularly interested in continuing to read. McSparren, in my opinion, was way too hung up on the idea of reconciliation between father and daughter. Merry felt a whole lot of guilt about picking up her life and moving on after repeatedly being abandoned be her father. It felt overly forced for her to spend nearly the entire book blaming herself for not reaching out earlier to a man who had rejected her. But that could just be my cynical opinion. 

As the local law is never enough in these books, a GBI agent was brought in to provide the cop side of the story as well as being the potential love interest for Merry. The voice of the character was decent, though I didn't feel like we got enough of his story to really care about him. He seemed like a potentially interesting character.

Probably the best character was Peggy Caldwell, Merry's father's landlady and friend. She was well developed enough that it wouldn't surprise me to find that she's the character McSparren has already fleshed out in the Mossy Creek books. Her voice was very strong and she seemed like someone who would be fun to know. 

Mixed voice narrative made it occasionally confusing but it was generally clear when I'd move away from the book and return.    

If you're interested in carriage riding, it's a light fun read. I particularly struggled with trying to read it in e-book/on screen format (no, still no e-reader at Chez Hedgehog) and I can only hope someone did a final edit--as there were quite a number of errors in the text, particularly as the story progressed. I had trouble sticking with the narrative and really getting involved with the characters and overall, it wouldn't be a first recommendation.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Wee Reads: The Mid-Session Update...

Checking back in as we've gotten through Week 4 of this first session of Wee Reads. Overall, I'd say it's going swimmingly--the kids keep coming, they're having a good time, and no one has melted down at the idea of separation.  I lost one kid because he and dad weren't quite ready for a separation storytime, but they are attending a family storytime elsewhere. The other parents are right out the door, celebrating the idea of running across to the adult fiction section for a book by themselves.

For those playing the home edition (and yes, I'll have a Google Doc of Reading Recommendations when this is all over)

Week 2:

We started off with Diary of a Fly by Doreen Cronin. The "Diary" series are wonderful because there is a TON of biology and fun facts dangled before you without really beating you over the head with pedantics of "this is a fly, it has wings."

Once you start with the Diary of a Fly, one must then have Fly Guy! Tedd Arnold's books are delightfully gross and small children this very unusual pet.

We did more ribbon dancing and then into our chapter book, continuing with Knights of the Kitchen Table by Jon Sciezska. So far, they'd knocked down a knight.

Week 3:

I had to squeeze a bit more in this week because my "back up" book was due. I always try to keep at least one back up book in the room in case something goes wrong, falls though, isn't working, or turns into a 30 second read.

We started with Melanie Watt and Chester. This went okay...Chester is a bit more of a one-on-one I think...there is so much going between the characters and in the artwork. Perhaps it we'd had a bit more time to slow it down and talk it through...

Next was a classic Berenstain Bears. There are a lot of these in our easy readers: Inside Outside Upside Down and The Bear's Vacation. I'm not a big fan of how Papa Bear is portrayed in a lot of the books, so I opted for The Spooky Old Tree. It has just enough repetition and fun to carry through and it reads very quickly.  And everyone knows what it feels like to get the shivers. 

Then we read Egg Drop by Mini Grey.  This, along with the Book that Eats People, has easily become a new favorite of mine. The subversive humor is just enough for this age group to get--they know where the story is going and are willing to play along. And the adults are chuckling through the end.

With parents sent onwards, we did Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes (by popular request).  But I made them learn the second verse (blame the Blonde and Think Big): Ankles, elbows, feet and seat, feet and seat....

And then back to Knights of the Kitchen Table and King Arthur's court, complete with a scary Merlin.

Week 4: 

This week turned out to be "return of favorites"--somehow I'd missed that they turned Little Bear into a television show. I can't say I'm thrilled about that.

We started with SkippyJon Jones and my horrific Spanish accent.  Somehow I always end up with Speedy Gonzalez. I inevitably apologize to the parents for my bad Spanish. Singing, I'm fine...reading with an intentional Spanish accent--not so much. 

We did Head and Shoulders Knees and Toes again, this time with a twist. I asked them, for the first round of it, to imagine themselves doing it while encased in jello. Then of course, we had to shake the jello off before we did the second round and I asked what flavor jello they had been encased in. There are more flavors in small children's heads than the company making the boxes is ever going to produce....

And another two chapters...we're making headway through the book.

This will go up during "Week 5"....catch you back here for more!