Author Archives: sarahofbooksdogsandfrogs

Wordless Wednesday

Oscar's happy, even when the car has broken down by the side of the road!


Adult Fiction–New Releases

Since I work in a small branch, I do readers advisory for anyone who walks through the door. Some libraries may not get a lot of requests for book suggestions, but we get a TON. At least three or more times a week an adult asks for suggestions for a “good book” to read. When I’m lucky they are willing to give me more information on what they like, but very often they want to know is if I’ve read any good books lately. Here are some of the adult fiction books I’ve read lately.

Saint’s Gate, Carla Neggers, Saint's Gate This is the kind of book I both enjoy to read and to recommend to patrons. Emma, the main character, works for the FBI, but previously she had been a novitiate at a small convent. She is drawn back there by a mysterious message from one of her former companions, which she is unable to receive before her friend is murdered. While she has tried to put her past behind her, this mystery draws both aspects of her world together and forces her to face who she is, was, and wants to be, all the while making her confront her feelings for Colin a fellow FBI agent. I enjoyed the mystery and the relationship, as well as the details of the art history and restoration. While typically I like more romance, and books that are not in a series, this book will appeal to people who like more of a light helping of romance. I look forward to recommending this book to patrons at the library.

Good Girls Don't (Donovan Brothers Brewery, #1) Good Girls Don’t, Victoria Dahl. The library where I work only adds a limited quantity of Mass Market Paperbacks to the collection, but Dahl is a local author, so I’m making a point to add some copies. I’ve really enjoyed this Donovan Brother’s Brewery series and think the library patrons will also like it. Tessa’s greatest desire is to keep her family together, which means she feels she must do whatever it takes to keep her two brothers from fighting. This desire is brought into tension when she begins to develop a relationship with a cop. The local brewery and local atmosphere (it is set in Colorado, but this could be my back yard) will appeal to local readers.

The Ideal Man Some of my favorite books are Julie Garwood books. She is an author I recommend at the library quite a bit. Romantic suspense is popular and these books are not too intense on the sexuality or violence, something that is very popular in my community.
In The Ideal Man, Garwood takes us on a whirlwind trip from an accidental encounter in the park that plunges our heroine into a world of danger that she thought she had escaped. I found the relationships and suspense to be convincing, but not too intense. I still miss the family drama of some of the earlier romantic suspense, but I felt this was stronger then Sizzle. This book will definitely find a place on our shelves!

Booktalking Picture Books

Typically it seems that the books that I booktalk are chapter books or non-fiction titles. But any length of book can be promoted with a booktalk–I know I’ve caught more than one person’s interest with just a few words describing a picture book. Here are a few particularly compelling titles:

Monkey Truck Monkey Truck, Michael Slack. He’s a monkey and a truck, he races around doing adventurous things, rescuing people, and maybe even eating bananas. If your toddler enjoys animals, trucks, and running around, this is the book for you–plus it has sturdy pages!

Shark vs. Train Shark vs. Train, Chris Barton, Tom Lichtenheld. Who here likes sharks? How about trains? In an epic battle between Sharks and Trains, who do you think would win? How would they even fight? Who is stronger? Faster? Smellier? Find out who wins in this crazy match up by reading Shark vs. Train.

When Dinosaurs Came with Everything Elise Broach, David Small. Who here’s ever had to run errands with your parents? It can sometimes be boring. What if every time you went somewhere you got a special treat? And what if that treat was a free DINOSAUR!? Would your parents let you keep them? Where would they stay? What would they eat? Read all about what happens in When Dinosaurs Came with Everything.

Meya Monday

Monday--go away!

Animal Heroes–Non-Fiction Monday

Part of the War Stories collection, Animal Heroes discusses the various ways animals have served in armed combat through the years. From war elephants to messenger pigeons to bomb sniffing dogs, this book touches briefly on the wide variety of animals that have been a part of war. From the very beginning this book acknowledges that animals have no choice in participating in warfare, and that it may be considered cruelty to force them to participate. With that said, the book goes through the ages to discuss the role of animals in different conflicts, from ancient Rome to modern days. While the cover features a dog, this book focuses attention on a multitude of animals. Readers will enjoy learning about how pigs were used to defeat war elephants by frightening them off, how cats were befriended by WWI soldiers so they’d eat the rats in the trenches, and how today rats are trained to locate landmines. Since this is a huge topic, the coverage of any one animal or incident is brief, but many individual heroes are highlighted.

Gander and the Royal Riffles

Gander is one of the dog heroes profiled. He was the mascot of a Canadian group called the Royal Rifles, and saved the lives of many of the men, eventually giving his life to save the men when he grabbed a grenade that had been lobbed at them and ran with it. He was given a special medal of honor for animals serving in war.

This book would appeal to animal fans, history fans, and those interested in warfare. It is an interesting topic, not one many kids are required to read about, or would know to inquire after, but the book would make interesting reading for kids grades 3-5 if suggested by a librarian or teacher.

Scheduling the School Year

Last year I started seriously pursuing outreach to the schools in my area, which led to many class visits, increases in program attendance, library visits, and a better relationship with the community. I really feel like these visits made a big difference in our numbers over the summer. It was an almost daily occurrence that kids would mention they’d been to the library with their class or I’d come to their class.

The biggest problem I had last spring was scheduling the different visits. I had a larger response than I’d anticipated and had a very difficult time finding a way to fit everyone in, while still providing coverage at the branch. It became even more difficult when we lost a part-time staff member so I could leave even less.

I’ve promised my boss to resolve this issue so I can continue to reach out to the schools while still providing coverage and not having as much drama over trying move the schedule to fit in a visit. My solution is a schedule sent out with my back-to-school letter to the teachers. Hopefully that will make it easier all around. I’m pretty sure it will decrease the amount of visits, but lessen the drama.

Right now the only times I can regularly be away from the branch or have classes visit are Tuesdays after 12:30 til school gets out and Wednesday mornings from 9 am until school gets out. Unfortunately Wednesdays are early release day and most teachers don’t like to schedule visits on the abbreviated day. There are a few Friday mornings I can go, but not regularly. I also have to figure out how to work around staff vacations.

Already I have two grades in two different schools that want to set up once a month visits, but I need to figure out how that will work with the different vacations. I also need to figure out how to communicate my willingness/excitement to visit or have them visit, while still saying I am only available at these times.

Wordless Wednesday

Itchy Oscar is also hoping for a short allergy season!

Ashfall–or the world is still ending!

Ashfall (Ashfall, #1) Continuing the apocalyptic theme, I recently read an engaging story called Ashfall by Mike Mullins. Alex, a nerdy 16 yr old boy who loves World of Warcraft and karate, stays at home in Iowa for the weekend while his parents and sister go to visit an uncle on his farm in Illinois. He settles in for an uneventful weekend of computer games and junk food when his house is hit by something and starts on fire, trapped under his desk, Alex has to climb out to save himself. This is just the beginning of the action, as Alex is thrown into one bad situation after another. He discovers that a giant volcano has erupted under Yellowstone, but the ash interferes in all communication and Alex is left alone. Determined to find his family in Illinois, Alex sets off on his own–most of his supplies are destroyed in the initial blast. Unprepared and slogging through a drift of ash feet deep, Alex encounters numerous dangers, both starvation, dehydration, violent weather, and violent people.

This is a quick and engrossing read, that caught me from the beginning and didn’t spit me out until the last word. I found myself willing to believe all kinds of crazy things because the story moved so fast and with so much action, only after the story was over did some of the issues start to emerge. Alex is freakishly lucky, he should have died pretty much every chapter–something terrible would happen, and somehow he’d miraculously survive. Just when he was about to starve food would turn up–to such a great degree that I stopped really worrying about if he was going to die. In some ways this is an unusually optimistic apocalyptic vision, people take him in and help him, food turns up, he doesn’t get infections from grievous injury or die from horrendous exposure.

In many ways this is a more action packed variation of Life as We Knew It, but less reflective and less dark. Both feature 16 yr old ordinary kids who face a world that is rapidly changing, but Alex never really has to face the sort of real immediate personal devastation of the destruction. In addition, Ashfall skips right from the blast to a world turned upside down, just vaguely referring to things that happened while Alex is hiding out.

Kids who enjoyed Life as We Knew It will enjoy this as well, but of the two I find Pfeffer’s vision to be more powerful and effective in showing a world falling apart.

It’s the End of the World as We Know it, and I feel fine!

While dystopian novels are all the rage, I’ve always preferred apocalyptic and post apocalyptic novels. There is something about seeing ordinary people face extraordinary circumstances that draws me into the book. I recently read a post that offers a definition of post-apocalyptic versus dystopian novels, that clarifies to some extent the two. Their definition is correct, dystopian refers to a planned society, where in the attempt to achieve some goal people are deprived of certain liberties, or the dark side of a utopia. Post-apocalyptic stories take place after some destruction has taken place. As they point out there is substantial overlap in genres, Hunger Games is a dystopian society within a post apocalyptic world, as is Ship Breaker. My one criticism is that they leave out a distinct genre, apocalyptic fiction–not after the destruction, but during the cataclysm. I would say that Ashes and Ashfall are both apocalyptic as they take place during a destructive event. Here are three books that represent these three forms:

Apocalyptic: Life as We Knew It, Susan Beth Pfeffer Life As We Knew It (Last Survivors, #1) Miranda is an ordinary 16 yr old, dealing with school, boys, and homework–lots of homework about the moon of all things. See it turns out an asteroid is heading to the moon, and all the teachers figure it is a good reason to write more papers! But when the asteroid actually hits the moon, things start to change–the tides are higher, there are unexpected storms, satellites are interrupted and things start to fall apart. Can Miranda and her family stay together, and alive, as everything around them falls apart?

Post-Apocalyptic: Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O’Brien Z for Zachariah Z for Zachariah After nuclear war has broken out, it appears that humanity has been destroyed, all that is except Ann. She’s left on the farm, seemingly alone in the whole world. Her parents left to find help, and never returned. In order to survive, she has to keep the farm running all by herself. One day, however, she sees a man approaching her valley. What does he want? Can she trust him? Are they alone in the world?

Dystopian: The Sky Inside, Clare B. Dunkle. The Sky Inside Martin lives in a world where it is all about the latest and greatest product, from food to genetically modified children. Each day they watch the TV to find out what’s next, to enjoy the endless gameshows, and to vote nightly on matters important to society, such as the colors of the president’s drapes. Everything seems fine, until Martin discovers there is going to be a recall, but not of the latest toy, rather they are going to recall his sister and her generation. No one will say what a recall means, by Martin is suspicious and sets out to discover where they are taking his sister and what is really outside of their “perfect” suburb. Can he figure out what is going on in time to save his sister?

Meya Monday

Itchy Meya hopes allergy season will be over soon!