Saturday, February 25, 2017

Week Seven Prompt

I remember the scandal of A Million Little Pieces by James Frey when it was happening. My sister adored the book and the subsequent novels by Frey. She not only read them, but talked to me about them extensively until finally I gave in and agreed to read them also. I was not a particular follower of Oprah's Book Club, but I had read One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, an Oprah Book Club pick, and fallen in love with it. So when I saw that A Million Little Pieces was also an Oprah Book Club pick I was hopeful. My sister read the memoir before it was revealed to be largely false. When I saw the Oprah special where she confronts James Frey on the memoir and the lies within, I excitedly approached my sister asking how she felt, and expecting her to be heartbroken. However, her mood and opinion on the book were mostly unchanged. She still claimed to love the book just as much. I did not read the book until after the controversy had happened and my opinion on the book was rather neutral and unimpressed. I do wonder if my opinion would have been different if I had read it believing it was wholly true like my sister did.

The "A Million Little Lies" article that is exposing the false components of the book for one of the first times is very interesting to read. Re-reading the excerpts of the book next to the actual facts is almost painful for the ways in which Frey seems to want so badly to be a victim, dangerous, tough, and wild. I have noticed that many people who are not devoted readers still often like memoirs, such as what A Million Little Pieces was trying to be, that reveal gritty and dangerous lifestyles. I like that these books draw in reluctant readers and a part of me almost wonders "What's the harm in exaggerating the facts in these books?" but in a time like now where false information and determining truth in the "facts" you read is so important, falsified memoirs could actually be very dangerous and contributing to the sensation of "false news".

Science Fiction Annotation


By: Karen Lowachee

Synopsis: Eight year old Joslyn Musey (Jos) is hiding inside his home ship, the Mukudori, when it is attacked by the infamous pirate Vincenzo Marucs Falcome. His parents do not survive the attack, but Jos is taken captive, catapulting him into a world of pirate training, sharpening his skills, and learning to survive while in captivity. 

When the pirate kidnappers begin to fight with a group of aliens, Jos uses the confusion and warfare to escape his captives. However, his freedom is not found as he is next taken captive by the aliens and taken to their homeworld by Warboy, a human sympathizer. While on the alien world of Aaian-na, Jos trains to become an assassin. Jos's new assignment in this new role is to spy on a ship and report information back. However in this new role, Jos begins to have experiences and meet people who make him question the ideas of "good" and "bad" and his role in the universe. 

Science Fiction Characteristics: 

World Building: A very common aspect of science ficiton is world building. In Warchild, the reader gets to explore various worlds, warships, alien species, pirates, and other elements that come together to build the Warchild universe.

Series-Based: Like many science fiction novels, Warchild is part of a series. Warchild is a trilogy with two backs coming after it titled Burndive and Cagebird.

Coming-Of-Age Sub-genre: The reader meets Jos when he is eight at the beginning of the book  and ends when Jos is 18. The reader watches him grow up and suffer the consequences of growing up in a war-torn and confusing galaxy. Despite his unusual and intense life in multiple captivities, he also wrestles with questions that any person his age may deal with such as "Who do I want to be?". This ambitious novel, a blend of military sci-fi and coming-of-age sci fi tackles difficult subjects such as child abuse, sexual assault, and child psychology while retaining the fascinating world-building and action.


The Warrior's Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Bright of the Sky By Kay Kenyon

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Week SIx Prompt Response

Promoting Romance:
Romance is a very popular genre in public libraries, however patrons are often embarrassed or ashamed to be checking out this genre. A prominent display in the library can help promote the idea that romance novels are as "worthy literature" as other genres. The display would be in a central location in the adult fiction area. The title of the display would say "Fall in Love at Your Library" and would contain a mixture of historical romance novels, contemporary romance novels, indie and self-published romance novels, romantic movies, and romantic CDs. Prominent contemporary authors such as Nora Roberts, Judith McNaught, and Nicholas Sparks will be included in the display along with classic authors such as Jane Austen.
I will also incorporate a passive programming aspect called "Fill Our Library with Love". Beside the display there will be a clear box with a slit on the top. Beside the box there are red and pink paper hearts. The instructions will explain that once you have read a romance novel, watched a romantic movie, or listened to a romantic CD, you will write the name of what you read on the heart and stick it in the clear box. The goal is to fill the box completely with hearts. Once the box is completely full, the library will be rewarded with a special romance reader party where romance fans can come together and talk romance novels, eat chocolate, and drink tea.

Romance Annotation

The Scent of Cherry Blossoms

By: Cindy Woodsmall

Synopsis: Annie Martin's strong Old Order Mennonite convictions drive her to take a break from her mother's looser household to visit her beloved Daadi Moses in Apple Ridge. Upon arriving to Apple Ridge, Annie discovers her childhood friend, Aden Zook, and his family need help running their diner. Among the dishes and plates of food, Annie and Aden both discover their childhood camaraderie is making way to a deeper romantic attraction. As they walk through the groves of Daadi Mose's cherry trees, their love blossoms along with the blooms. Annie is able to help Aden feel confidence and speak up and Aden is able to make Annie feel cherished and important. All would be perfect if Aden was not an Old Order Amish. 

Annie and Aden are devoted to their religion and they have been taught there is a deep divide between Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonite. Will their blooming love be enough to bridge the divide?

Romance Characteristics:

Pace: The pacing of the novel is fast. Annie is already falling in love with Aden after day one! Woodsmall keeps things moving along and breaks up the already fast-paced main narrative of Annie and Aden with another side love story involving Aden's twin, Roman.
Characterization: A classic archetypal pair of lovers, from two families sworn to never mix, think Romeo and Juliet. Torn between their convictions and their love, these main characters face a dilemma common in Romance novels. Annie is a sweet helper, bubbly and generous set out to "open up" the shy, mysterious Aden and convince him to talk despite his speech impediment. 
Tone: The tone is hopeful and emotional. Both characters face many hardships in their family, perhaps more than most readers would expect from a short romance novel. However, the emphasis is on the saving power of love. There is a classic happy ending, essential to true romance novels, that ties the book together in a happy and heartwarming tone. 


Seeing Your Face Again by Jerry Eicher

Lilly's Wedding Quilt by Kelly Long

Annie's Truth by Beth Shriver

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Week Five Prompt Response

In my previous position working for a high school library, 80% of the collection development was student-driven and the other 20% came from main librarian and I. We encouraged students to look through Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, and other professional publications to get ideas for books they wanted to add to the collection if they felt 'stuck'. However, if they wanted to add a book that had no professional reviews we would still order the book for our collection. Besides manga or a book centered on a students' specific interest, I would say the majority of students found the books they wanted to add to our collection through combing professional reviews. It is interesting that before now I had not thought about whether or not this was fair or caused any issues.

The Billionaire's First Christmas does not appear to be specifically a romantic suspense novel anymore than any other romance novel as the suspense seems to lie in whether the couple will get together and as we know with romance novels the couple will always end up together in the end. Despite not having professional reviews, this is still a novel I would consider adding to my collection. I would not spend large amounts of money or work adding it to the collection, as I believe it is not necessarily a time-tested, permanent addition. Yet, it seems to be popular with a particular crowd seeking a particular type of novel (Christmas romance). After spending last Christmas at home with my mom watching endless Christmas Lifetime movies I can attest that this is definitely a category. Angela's Ashes is also a book I would consider adding to my collection. However, I would be more willing to spend more time and money buying the book because I believe it is a longer lasting addition to the collection that will have appeal to readers for many years to come.

In an ideal situation I think the range of books reviewed should be wider to include all various genres, formats, and publishers. However I also understand why it is the way it is now. With independent publishers and e-book only publications, the amount of content available for potential review is seemingly endless. Professional publications, perhaps competing with one another, want to review the books they believe will be making the greatest impact on readers and gaining the most popularity. Yet this in turn means that a successful author with a long series of books may be getting the 20th book in their series reviewed in multiple publications yet again while an emerging author trying something new in writing for the first time ends up having less reviews and a smaller impact than they could be having because the already successful author is still being reviewed. I do not often use reviews for my own personal reading. Instead, I usually rely on friend recommendations. Yet in previous jobs, such as the high school library mentioned above, reviews were a much larger part of my book selection.

Kirkus Style Review

Girl Trouble: Stories

By: Holly Goddard Jones

In eight short stories, Jones introduces readers to a small Kentucky town and the residents that live within as they deal with the line between right and wrong and the unsettling circumstances that surround every decision we make. 

In Roma, Kentucky there resides a set of complex, utterly human characters who are facing difficult circumstances, often circulating around women and girls. From a high school basketball coach who impregnates one of his players, to a women reflecting back on the violent night that led to the dissolution of her marriage, to a father contemplating how to deal with his 19 year old son who has been accused of rape, the multi-dimensional characters are given an honest and often haunting voice as they deal with uncertainty, betrayal, and how to "do the right thing".  The first and last story of the collection is the same story of murder told through two perspectives, the killer's perspective and the victim's mother's perspective. Through these parallel yet contradictory accounts, Jones reveals the consciences of these characters in a way that questions and blurs the lines of morality and immorality through examinations of loneliness and loss.

Written with beauty, compassion, and intelligence, these stories will make you rethink what you know about other people. At times heartbreaking, and other times horrifying, this is a difficult book to recommend, in the same way one would not wish heartbreak on a friend. However, living through heartbreak adds another layer of knowledge and understanding to one's life, as will reading these short stories.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Secret Shopper

I visited a medium-sized library that I used to frequently visit years ago. The librarian I talked to was very friendly and happy. She made a lot of eye contact and I felt like she was eager to help me. However, after a few interview questions I had revealed to her that I was looking for a contemporary fiction novel with a female protagonist. She worked on her computer briefly without telling me what she was looking for or why. After a few minutes she asked if I had read "The Handmaid's Tale". I was caught off guard by the suggestion because it was not what I was looking for. But I was honest and said I actually had not read it and had meant to for quite some time. She got very excited and walked me over to the book. The interaction was warm and inviting, however the information exchanged could have been clearer or more precise in order to get a book that was more of a fit that I was looking for.