October 2018

The last time I posted on this blog, I was about to begin my library science degree. Now, I’m roughly halfway through my program and looking to graduate in the summer. It’s been a whirlwind 14 or so months, and although things aren’t going to quiet down anytime soon (I’m writing my thesis next semester!), I’ve decided to try my hand at blogging again. I’m thinking I’ll most likely do a big post like this one once a month and a few odd posts here and there as the mood strikes. I’ve broken the post down into a few different sections, and while I’ll probably stick with them in future posts, they aren’t set in stone.

What I’m Doing

Last night, I led a nighttime storyhour at one of the libraries I work at. I’ve done a handful of these nighttime storyhours before, but never with more than seven children. Last night, 21 children and their parents showed up. As the hour crept nearer and more and more people strolled in, I became more and more nervous—and then, at exactly 7PM, I called everyone into the meeting room and I just did the thing. And you know what? It wasn’t bad. We had a good time. I had the schedule my coworker was nice enough to write out for me, but I deviated from it when doing so felt right; for example, the kids were having so much fun dancing, I skipped our second movie to play another song. After we wrapped up, two parents asked when our next nighttime storyhour would be, so I have to assume they thought it wasn’t bad, either. I know I’ll probably still get nervous before the next one, but I feel a lot better about my abilities now. This is a good thing, because I’m leading the first session of my book club next month.

What I’m Learning

I’m currently taking two classes (one about teen services and one about collection development), and we’re discussing readers’ advisory in both. Readers’ advisory is something that I’m still working on getting good at, but I’ve learned a few things that I think will help me: For example, I’ve learned two important questions that I should ask in addition to my usual, “What was the last book you read that you enjoyed?” These questions are: “What exactly did you like about that book?” and “Tell me about a book that you hated and why.” As I noted on Twitter, asking readers about the books they don’t like makes a lot of sense because it’s sometimes easier to talk about why you hate a thing than explain why you like a thing (at least, it is for me).

What I’m Reading

I’m about three-fifths of the way through Unwritten by Tara Gilboy. Unwritten is about twelve-year-old Gracie, who has known since she was much younger that she and her mother are fictional characters who avoided a terrible fate by escaping to our world. Although her life is comfortable, Gracie is haunted by visions of the fate she escaped, and she cannot help but be curious about Gertrude Winters, the author who created her. Although her mother warns her against it, she visits Winters, taking along with her a mysterious scrap of parchment from Bondoff, her storybook home. Things spiral from there.

Unwritten reminds me of The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert, another book in which a storybook character grows up in our world and later returns to it. The Hazel Wood is solidly YA, while Unwritten is geared toward MG audiences. I’m enjoying it so far.

I’m also a few pages into The Girl with the Dragon Heart by Stephanie Burgis. The book is a follow-up to her 2017 novel, The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart. I absolutely loved The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart (and I cannot recommend it highly enough), and I’m excited to dig into The Girl with the Dragon Heart and learn more about Silke. Note: The book will be released in the U.S. on November 6th.

What I’ve Read Recently

The last book I finished was Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliot. In Dragons in a Bag, young Brooklynite Jaxon is left with Ma, a mysterious woman from his mother’s past, while she attends court to fight their impending eviction. It turns out that Ma is a witch, and she recently received a very curious package—one containing three tiny dragon eggs. Ma lets Jaxon in on her mission: She has to deliver the dragon eggs to another dimension, one where magic still thrives. Jaxon decides to tag along, but the trip does not go smoothly, to say the least.

Dragons in a Bag is a short (at 150 pages), fast-paced read for younger readers who are interested in fantasy adventures, but who might not be ready to leave our world entirely just yet. There are some loose ends, meaning the book is likely the first in a series.

Prior to reading Dragons in a Bag, I sped through Estranged by Ethan M. Aldridge. I don’t read a lot of graphic novels (I’m working on it!), but I absolutely loved this one. In Estranged, a human boy brought to the glittering world of the fae court seeks out the help of the fae changeling left in his place when things go terribly wrong. It’s a book about adventure, darkness, magic, and family, and I’m very much looking forward to a sequel.

What I’m Listening To

I love podcasts. I’m subscribed to way too many of them. I recently subscribed to Breaking the Glass Slipper, a podcast about women in science fiction, fantasy, and horror. I’ve listened to just two episodes so far: 2017’s “In praise of YA with Frances Hardinge” (author of A Face Like Glass, the last book I blogged about) and 2016’s “Labyrinth” (about the movie with David Bowie). Both were amazing. If you think learning about women in speculative fiction is something you might be interested in, subscribe immediately and get listening!

What’s New On My TBR

This is the month of me somehow not noticing books that I would normally be very excited about, like Finding Baba Yaga, Jane Yolen’s recent release, and Gail Carson Levine’s Ogre Enchanted, a standalone prequel to Ella Enchanted. Both are now on my list.

That’s all for now. See you next month!