Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ready for Something Cozy

You might remember from this post from last week that I have been feeling a little anti-social.  Well, now it's blown into a full on I-want-to-hibernate-with-a-book-athon.  Basically it's just a combination of little things.  Everyone has those days where it feels like you are on repeat and you just want a nice calm break.  My perfect break would include sleeping in, comfy clothes all day, good books, and so on.

So, I am ready for something cozy.  Here's my wish list.

1.  The Keep it Casual shirt by Mark by Avon.  Doesn't it look so cozy!  And relatively lightweight, so if I would wear it now, I wouldn't die of heat exhaustion.  It would look great with my dark skinny jeans and big boots with a scarf, or just with yoga pants and a messy ponytail as I read myself into oblivion (which, let's be real, is the more likely pairing).

2.  Bright Young Days by Anna Godbersen.  It's like Gossip Girl, but set in the 1920's so it's not as mind-rotting, but a perfect guilty pleasure.

Beautiful Days (Bright Young Things, #2)

3.  The Magnolia League by Katie Crouch.  This about a debutante society in Savannah with a dark secret.  Great day-off reading and perfect for a cozy day.

The Magnolia League (Magnolia League, #1)

4.  Circle of Fire by Michelle Zink.  I read the previous two Sisters of Prophecy books and now I just want to know what happens.  The first book was great, the second just okay, and what's with changing the cover!  The first cover was creepy and beautiful and the next two covers are just generic.  Anyway.  Paranormal twin mystery where the good twin might be the bad twin and they might be working with the devil.  It's crazy but in a good way.

Circle of Fire (Prophecy of the Sisters, #3)Prophecy of the Sisters (Prophecy of the Sisters, #1)
Book 3 on is on the left, but seriously, look at the Book 1 cover!  How cool is that?!  This might demand another post someday.  And by someday, I mean tomorrow.

5.  A fireplace

6.  A big, soft blanket that doesn't leave fuzz all over me.

7.  Hot apple cider with apple cider donuts for breakfast.  I'm cozy just thinking about it!

8.  This mug for obvious reasons.

9.  A full day, alone, with no housework, real work, review work, or cell phone to distract me.

10.  Maybe an evening walk with the dog through the fall leaves.

I so want a cozy day!  I'm so ready for fall!  But mostly I want to hibernate with a big stack of books.  Ever had a day like that?  What would be on your cozy list?

Happy Reading

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Night Circus

The Night Circus 

The Night Circus is the book for my August book club.  I was very excited to read this book because I heard great things, and the cover is amazing.  Yes, I do judge a book by its cover.  Designers spend lots of time working on those covers, so they should be rewarded.

Where do I even start?  The beginning I suppose.  

A young girl is dropped off at the room of a magician and told that she is his daughter.  Upon discovering her innate magically ability, he binds her to another magician and his unknown student in a dangerous competition.  The two students grow and learn without understanding what, when or where this competition will be.

Finally a venue is chosen.  A traveling circus that appears from nowhere and disappears just as quickly.  But they are not the only ones involved in the circus, as there are acrobats, a fortune teller, a contortionist and twins, born on opening night, amongst others.  Now, all of their fates are intertwined in a competition that long out lives the expectation and begins to take on its own life.  

For the sake of the circus and all those involved, even the spectators, the competition must somehow cease, but how can a competition end when there are few rules and an unknown goal?

The plot is thoroughly engaging, but every word brings you to the circus.  The tents are described so perfectly, the food is amazing, and all the spectacles become real to the reader.  Everyone that reads this will become a revuer, a circus groupie if you will, hunting down the circus and begging for more. 

There is so much involved in this book that it is hard to put into words, but it was fantastic.  The chapters are short which makes it perfect for busy readers, since you can start and finish a chapter in a short sitting.  Also, each chapter heading includes the date, so be sure to pay attention to this feature since the chapters do move freely in time.  I should have paid more attention to this as well because I felt a little lost sometimes.  

Overall, this was an excellent book club selection, especially for the summer.  While this isn't a fluffy beach read, it is engrossing, so if you are sitting out, be sure to wear your sunscreen otherwise you'll look up 200 pages later and be sunburnt.

Let me know what you thought of The Night Circus.  Follow me on Good Reads under Miss Tiffany, or on Twitter under misstiffreads.  Or, just comment!  

Happy Reading!

Friday, July 27, 2012

What's On Your Head?

Want to make your storytime kids laugh?  Wear a funny hat.  Better yet-act like there is nothing strange about the cowboy hat, or pink fuzzy hat, or viking helmet that you are wearing.  This one is guaranteed to be a classic.

What’s on Your Head?

Opening Song:  Bendable, Stretchable by Georgiana Stewart
Imogene's Antlers 
Opening Rhyme:  Dance Your Fingers
Dance your fingers up, dance your fingers down.  
Dance your fingers to the side, dance them round and round.
Dance them on your shoulders, dance them on your head.
Dance them on your belly, and now put them to bed. 

Book:  Imogene’s Antlers by David Small

Rhyme:  Do Your Antlers Hang High?
Do your antlers hang high?
Do they reach up to the sky?
Do they keep you up at night?
No! That's Wrong! Do they make your way so tight?
Do they bump into the trees
Do they make it hard for knees?
Do your antlers hang high?

Book:  No!  That’s Wrong! by Zhaohua Ji and Cui Xu

Rhyme:  My Hat
My hat it has three corners
Three corners has my hat
And had it not three corners
It would not be my hat

Song:   Mexican Hat Dance
A Three Hat Day from Action Songs for Preschoolers by Georgiana Stewart

Book:  Three Hat Day by Laura Geringer
     It's a little long, but if you practice, it can work for younger ones.

Rhyme:    Silly Hat Song
On my head I wear my hat
It is such a silly hat
That my head will wiggle waggle to and fro
Where else can my silly hat go?

There is a Bird on Your Head!Book:  There is a Bird on Your Head by Mo Willems

Rhyme:  Little Bird
I saw a little bird go hop , hop, hop
I told the little bird to stop, stop, stop
I went to the window to say ‘How do you do?’
He wagged his little tail and away he flew!

Closing Song:  Thank You Clap
My hands say thank you with a clap, clap, clap
My feet say thank you with a tap, tap, tap.
Clap, clap, clap, tap, tap, tap
And now we say goodbye.  

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Messy Messy Room!

I did a really fun program for children in grades 1-5 called Library Capers at my last library.  I didn't always have a huge attendance, but I always had a lot of fun.  The big tradition of Library Capers was the Secret Word.  My co-worker Kristi would select a secret word based on the subject matter and put it in an envelope that a teen volunteer would open and show the class.  Then, if I said the secret word, everyone got a treat at the end.  I usually had small prizes that fit the theme, but the kids would get so excited when I said the word!

So, I give you Library Capers:  Messy, Messy Room!

Open by talking about each child's messy room.  Are they messy with clothes, books, or toys?  Any leftover food or small animals living unnoticed in their room?  Basically, just build it up for the stories and games.

Then, show the Secret Word!  I would make the children raise their hands when I said the secret word.

What's With This Room?Next, read What's With This Room by Tom Lichtenheld.  This is a great book about an out of control messy room that is sure to elicit screams of disgust and delight. 

Then on to games!  I prepped several Minute-to-Win-It style games.  The first was Hanger Hang-ups where the kids balanced one hanger on another off of a clothes rack.  They could balance up to seven hangers until they reached the floor.

Next was Separation Anxiety.  The kids had 60 seconds to separate a pile of beads into like colored bowls, with all the on-lookers screaming them on, of course.

Time to cool down with Diggy Dan by Daniel Kamish, a story of how a boy pretends to be many, many things simply by cleaning his room. 

Diggy Dan: A Room-Cleaning AdventureWe get moving again with Hamper Hoops.  Three strategically placed pop-open hampers, six sock balls and a tape line to make things interesting and the game is on!

A final activity for this messy program is a hidden picture hunt.  Pick up an old I Spy book and try to find as many objects as you can in those messy pictures.  Then, make your own seek and find from magazine clipping and design you own messy room.

For more Messy Room fun, invite children to check out Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom by  Eric Wight, the poems of Jack Prelutsky and Shel Silverstein, and more I Spy fun.  I always put out a selection of books for the children to look at before and after the program.  Most of the time they followed the theme, but sometimes they were just fun books.  Also, if a child wants to take home the book that you read in class, let them!  That's the best form of thanks!

Frankie Pickle and the Closet of DoomWhere the Sidewalk EndsIt's Raining Pigs and Noodles

Now don't forget to hand out those prizes for the secret word.  Like I said before, small prizes like pencils, notepads, or even leftover summer reading prizes work great.  And in this case, it's just another thing to add to their messy room.

The best programs for elementary school children were interactive and spontaneous.  Just go with the flow and let their imaginations lead you.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

NetGalley Addiction

Hello, my name is Tiffany, and I have a raging addiction to NetGalley.

NetGalley is a social media site for librarians, teachers, reviewers, and bloggers to receive free advanced reader's copies as e-books.  They are available in PDF and most can be downloaded to a Kindle or Nook.  So, I get to read free books before anyone else.  That's what I call amazing!

Except that it is exactly like a galley grab at a national conference.  You load up on books that you know you won't read, that aren't worth your time, that take up way too much precious space in your luggage just because you can.  Then you end up with reader's guilt.

Reader's guilt is something that all book lovers have faced at some point in their lives.  You have a stack of unread books that call to you, but quite frankly, you don't want to read.  But isn't it the purpose of every book-to be read!  By ignoring these books, they aren't able to fulfill their destiny!  And if you don't read that little ARC, it might never realize it's dream of being a real, live book!

So, that was a little dramatic.  But it's true.  After a while, a true reader feels guilty about all the books that go unread.  But I believe that life is too short for lousy books, or books that don't speak to you, or books that (yes it's true) should have never been published in the first place.

Because that's the thing about galleys.  A publisher releases a galley for one reason-to create buzz.  Sometimes it's to create advance buzz for a book that is going to be amazing (Every Day-it comes out August 28 and trust me, you will want to be on this one from the beginning-it's incredible!).  Other times it's so a publisher can introduce a book early so it won't go completely unnoticed when published.  I honestly only have time for the amazing galleys, but I have become an e-book hoarder, clicking "Request Now" for nearly anything that doesn't look completely cliche and horrid.  But it must stop!

So, here is my pledge.  I, Miss Tiff, will remove half of the galleys from my Kindle.  I will not feel guilty about this decision.  It is for my reading sanity.  I will choose my requests more carefully and only request books that I feel deserve my time and attention.  I will make more time (and space on my Kindle) for books that I want to read, not books I feel an obligation to read.

I feel better already!  More free and weightless!  How liberating!

Happy Reading!

If you are a librarian, teacher, blogger, etc., I do still recommend NetGalley.  Like I said, I have found some amazing books on there. (See this post, this post, and this post), but I would honestly say for every great book, I read two that just weren't quite worth my time.  So, choose carefully.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What I Miss the Most

Lately, I've been missing library life.  Not the terrible hours, screaming children, tiger moms, or those kids that pee on the carpet and somehow, as the only children's librarian  without children, I ended up being the one to clean it up.  Nope, don't miss that at all.

I miss walking through the stacks and finding books at random to read.  I always have a to-read list going, but there is something really special about the right book just finding you.  I've missed that.  Yes, I have a library (although it makes me kinda sad-poor selection, poorly organized, dark, dingy, dungeon-like), but there's nothing like being in the stacks on a totally different errand and coming across a book that you think "huh, I kinda wanna read that" and then it's amazing!

I miss the stacks.  I miss the way you can feel totally alone and hidden when working in the stacks before the library opens.  Sometimes, even if someone called for me, I'd pretend that I didn't hear and just keep straightening my books.  (Yes, I compulsively straightened my collection, even though it was an act of futility.  My first library was crazy about straightening and it just stuck.  It was self soothing.  And yes, I'm seeing a therapist for my compulsive library issues).  I was in my own little world, just me and my books.

Here's my problem.  I like people, but I love books!  I was never that library czar that got really angry when a book was ruined since I've ruined my own fair share.  If a kid ruins a book, then it's kinda like a Christmas tree, it's lived it's life and served it's purpose.   As long as I can get a book in a kid's hand, it's a win.  But I've long felt that my dream job would be a children's library without the children.  Without the parents and the public.  Just a little archival hole somewhere, like solitary with a full book shelf.  I'd start to miss people and human interaction I'm sure, but it's Tuesday, and I've been yelled at a lot already this week, so let my have my dream!

My hubby is building a library in our basement.  No joke.  Well, it's a combination library and bar, but since we're 30 it will be more about good wine and good beer than keg stands and shots (although you know I like a good shot!).  It will be about relaxing with the good stuff.  And he's so sweet because my kids books get to share space with his engineering texts and non-fiction and Pulitzer Prize winners.  He's even going to let me shelve my Twilights down there!  That's love people!

Maybe someday soon I'll get be straightening the shelves of my own personal library (yes that will happen) and I'll happen upon a book I'd forgotten and think "huh, I kinda wanna read that".  Maybe I'll get that feeling back.  Until then, I'll have to settle for my to-read list and curling up at the end of the day with a book that I planned on reading and forgetting the world exists.

Happy Reading!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Success Part Two

You might remember this post from several weeks ago when I celebrated the success of convincing my book group to read When You Reach Me and Wrinkle in Time.  Well, we met up last week to discuss and the the verdict was:

Everyone loved When You Reach Me!

When You Reach Me

The overall opinion was that WYRM had an interesting plot, good characters, pretty exact setting, and a good plot twist.  Also, since it was a fantasy based in reality, it wasn't difficult to follow, although everyone admitted that thinking about the time travel made their head hurt.  We had a great discussion about Miranda and her mom, friends, the laughing man, the origin of the book, everything.  I was so happy and relieved.  Since this is one of my favorite books, I really hoped that it wouldn't get torn apart, but turns out, WYRM holds just as much interest for adults as for children.

On the other hand, Wrinkle in Time was met with lukewarm approval.

A Wrinkle in Time (Time Series, #1)

I read WIT as an adult, after reading WYRM actually, and I felt the same way about it now as I did a few years ago-it feels overly complicated, yet simplistic.  I feel like the characters lack depth but the whole thing with jumping planets and fighting the black thing is too complicated.  Also, when comparing WIT to WYRM, I will always choose the latter.  I care so much more about Miranda and her friends than Meg and her family.  Also, Charles Wallace is just a creepy little kid, whether he's possessed by IT or not.  Also, since WIT in true fantasy with very little reality, it's harder to follow.  Those that read it as children remember enjoying it, but they also admitted that this was the first piece of science fiction or fantasy that they had read.  Now, with the flood of children's fantasy available, this isn't quite measuring up.  

Part of the shortcoming of WIT could be that it is part of a larger series, so not all questions are addressed.  Like why is Charles Wallace so smart, why is Meg in the middle, what is the black thing?  I can only assume that the series takes on these questions and gives satisfying answers, whereas WYRM throws out questions and answers all in one book.  Also, children are more accepting of random plots.  If you tell a child in a book that the sun is purple, fine, in this world the sun is purple, but adults tend to want more explanation of that.  This makes me wonder if WIT is one of those books with an expiration date.  If you have not read it by 12 years old, there's just no bother.  I've felt that way about several books.  I can't understand the appeal because I am not in the right frame of mind.  The Book Expiration Date Hypothesis is a discussion for another day, so I'll put a pin in it.

But the exciting part is, this book club lead to a great discussion about all things children's and YA lit.  We touched on Hunger Games and Twlight (for a second) and how this is becoming a serious area for adult readers.  I'm excited.  I feel like I might have changed minds, at least a little, about children's and YA lit.

There was one funny moment.  I had been explaining about the whole background of the books, the Newbery award, their place in current reading trends, then mentioned how I do not read adult books.  One women asked me why I only read kid's books.  My friend decided to share the secret that I'm basically a weirdo that can't read, which got a big laugh.  Really, I'm just fan and love reading kids books, but it is funny to talk about with a bunch of literature snobs.  

I invite you to give it a try!  Be bold!  Read a kid's book!  Walk into the children's section of your library with your head held high and exclaim "I like Children's Books!"  But don't exclaim too loudly, or you might be shushed.

Happy Reading!

Friday, July 20, 2012

When Charity Meets Crazy

Excuse my snobbiness for a moment, but I went to a very exclusive charity event this past weekend.  Donors came from miles around to support the Lupus Foundation of America.

That's where the normalcy ends.

The event is Pub and Putt, the place is Calhoun County Illinois. 
See the tiny slice of a county.  That's Calhoun County.  It is quaintly nestled between the Mississippi River and the Illinois River.

There is no Walmart, McDonald's, or chain grocery store in Calhoun County.  That's remote!

Also, to get into Calhoun, your choices are a drawbridge, or ferry.

We opted for the ferry.

Enough background information-let's get to the event!

The 3rd Annual Team Kendall Pub and Putt!

Disclaimer-I am not an organized blogger, and I'm even worse at remembering to take pictures, and even worse at actually taking pictures, and when drinking is involved, forget it.  Let's just say that this post will make you curious for next year!  (Also, Doug and I are on our third camera since our wedding.  One fell in the ocean and another was maced by spray sunscreen.  Doug told me I could buy a nice camera if I wanted, but given our track record, I bought the cheapest one at Walmart, which was a bad idea.)

Pub and Putt is basically mini-golf, in bars.  And most of the holes are made out of plywood.  And one bar just makes a giant horseshoe shape and sets down industrial size cans of stewed tomatoes as obstacles.  I owned that hole!  Every team has four players and a caddy.  The caddy is your designated driver and signs a pledge not to drink until the event is over, and they wear a different color wrist band so the bartenders know not to serve them.  It's all about safety with Pub and Putt!

Then, your team takes off and hits up 10 bars all up and down the county.  We started about one o'clock and finished up around  eight.  It is not a sprint!  It's a marathon!  The first year we tried to drink at every bar and nearly died.  We were drunk by three and hung over by seven and we went and took a nap before the awards were given out.  We are all smarter people now.  (Not to mention old, but whatever).

And now, I give you Pub and Putt in Pictures!

Here I am with the girls-my sis-in-law Kristen, me (but you already knew that) and college girlfriends Laura (who you might remember from this post), Sara (who received a shout-out in this post) and Sam (I'll holler at you later!)

I would like to draw your attention to the shirts.  They say "I'd Tap That".  Now you can take that however you want, but part of the fun of Pub and Putt is the crude jokes.  Our teams were "I'd Tap That" and "I'd Tap That, Too", which I explained to people like this-not the number 2, but I would also like to tap that, please.  (If you want to be really cool, you can order this shirt from Donkey Tees on Etsy!  Just tell them Tiffany sent you.  (actually, they have no idea who I am, so don't say that!)).

So from registration and raffle entering, we hit the bars!

Here's Sara at our first hole at Last Call bar in Brussels.  Now, normally in golf, you want complete silence you so can concentrate, but that was freaking Sara out, so she asked us to talk about anything to distract her.  Which brings up a good  point.  Actual golf skills do not help in Pub and Putt.  Maybe Wii golf skills help, but not real skills.  Like all tailgating games, you actually get better with a couple beers, so golfers, two shots before you first hole will do wonders for your game!

Here I am teeing off at AJ's Bar in Brussels.  I only remember this bar because they had the best Apple Pie Shots!  Look close and you can see the ball flying over the obstacles.  I came in under par on this one!

Here's Doug playing the hole at Main Street bar in Hardin.  You have to get your ball through all the bar stools, and then face the blades of death!

Okay, so it's not exactly blades of death-it's a ceiling fan with two blades set on low, but that's still really fast!  This is not your friendly putt-putt windmill.  I was just trying to get my ball in the hole without losing my head!

Staying hydrated is very important during Pub and Putt, so Kristen and I took a minute for some shots at Straight Home.

This is a Pub and Putt tradition-Doug doing his famous between-the-legs-shot at The Old Fill-in Station in Batchtown.  He would like the record to show that his score was adversely effected by his choice of putting style.  Which really means-I BEAT MY HUSBAND IN PUB AND PUTT!!

Finally, here's Team I'd Tap That (the original) outside Longnecker's in Batchtown.  Happily everyone arrived safely with all limbs intact and ready to take on the night.  While we didn't win the coveted green vests (much like the green jackets for the Master's Tournament) or the equally coveted beer can trophy (for the worst score), we had a great time.

Remember, this was all for a cause!  If you want to learn more about Team Kendall and their quest for a cure, click here.  If you want to learn more about Lupus, check out the Lupus Foundation of America.  If you want to be on my Pub and Putt team next year, leave me a comment or email me at misstiffreads at gmail dot com.

Happy Reading (or putting!)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

When Anthony Reads

Time for my views to skyrocket!

While I was going through my camera to find pictures for my post tomorrow, I ran across this great pic of Anthony reading to Grandma and Grandpa Tractor.

Anthony reading on the Kindle in July
Yes, he is reading on my Kindle.  No, not a children's book that would interest him.  I usually try to put it on Peter Pan, or something that does not have offense language.  My sister would kill me if I left it on Kitchen Confidential, even though he can't really "read".

Anthony loves to read!  And the funny thing is that he did the same reading-on-the-Kindle thing when we met him November, with one key difference.

 Anthony reading in November at my parent's house.

In November, Anthony started all of his reading with "Once'd apon'd a-time.." followed by a string of Anthony-ese that was way beyond comprehension.

Now, his stories go like this, "Dear God, thank you for Grandpa Tractor and Grandma Tractor and Aunt Wu, and Wucy and Mommy and Daddy.  The End"  Or some variation of this theme that just makes you want to cry and hug him. 

So, in only 8 months, not only can you actually understand 90% of what Anthony says, my sis and bro-in-law have shown him the incredible love of God, and he totally gets it!

Way to go little man!  You can read me a story anytime!

Anthony showing me how it's done!

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Waiting for November 6

What's so cool about November 6, you ask!  

 It's only the birthday of Ethan Hawke, Lamar Odom, and Emma Stone! 

 Actually, that doesn't matter at all.  I just looked that up on Wikipedia. 
But it is the birthday of my friend Laura!

Happy super-early birthday, Laura!  Don't be mad at me for including this picture in my blog!  If I'm lucky, she'll never see it and this can be our little secret.

Moving on.  Why is November 6 so important?  Because the sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone is released on November 6.

Check out that cover!  Haunting, right?

For those of you that have not read Daughter of Smoke and Bone, here are five reasons you should do so immediately:

1.  Karou is completely entrancing.  Karou is a teen living in Prague and attending art school, but she also runs errands for Brimstone, the wish monger.  Brimstone and his chimera brethren are the only family she has ever known, but she loves them completely.  She has bright blue hair, multiple tattoos (including a hamsasa  on each palm) and a necklace made of wish granting stones.  

2.  The art.  While there are no drawings in this book, there is still lot of art.  Karou draws comics of her chimera family for her classmates and draws her classmates for her chimera family, so everyone thinks her other life is fictional.  Also, there is a giant puppet that guides a living marionette, and huge angel wings above Karou's bed.  

3.  The angels.  Now, these are not fallen angels, or angels of death, or any other cliche that is now floating along out there in YA land.  These angels are legit.  The angels are part of an epic battle against the chimera and are closing the portals that Karou uses on Brimstone's errands.  And why does she run these strange errands to collect teeth?  What does he do with the teeth?  See, it's getting crazy already!

4.  The Chimera.  You have to love the chimera.  They are all different parts of animal combined into one, and Taylor does such an amazing job of describing them that you can see them right in front of you, with lion legs and crocodile face and leopard spots.  Trust me, she does a much better job than that.  Plus, these chimera are real, so real that you ache for them.

5.  The writing.  It's incredible.  This book is the perfect balance of plot, character and unbelievable writing.  You are sucked into Karou's world completely and thoroughly and it is painful to leave.  I loved every single word, and even though I was dying to find out what happened, I read every word.  I'm very guilty of skipping description to get to the dialog and move the plot along, but this book makes you read every word and sometimes re-read just to experience that description again.

Seriously, why aren't you reading this book right now?!  Oh, because you're reading this post.  Well, that's fair.  Let me add one more plug for Daughter of Smoke and Bone.  I read a preview of this on NetGalley.  I read 14 chapters, which you would think would get you about half way through the book, but it only took me to the point where the plot gets so intensive, you are begging for more.  It's like getting a taste for a drug and then having it yanked away!  NetGalley was my dealer!  Then, because I was so impatient to get my fix, I pre-ordered it for my Kindle.  (Isn't the Kindle awesome like that?  Talk about instant gratification.  I just pre-order then turn my Kindle on in the morning a book is released and it's there!  Yes, at 12:01 am on November 6, I will be turning on my Kindle.  I may not sleep that night.)  Sometimes when I read on the Kindle, I feel like I am a little removed from the book.  In this case, if I had been any more in tune with this book, I might have started dying my hair blue and wearing combat boots.  As it was, I almost did that for Halloween.  My point is, no matter how you get this book-get it!  

You have your assignment.  Read Daughter of Smoke and Bone today and put your copy of Days of Blood and Starlight on order tomorrow!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


I owe you some posts!  I owe you a post about VBS.  My credit card bill reminded me that I haven't turned in all my receipts yet, so I'll get that done and tell you how it went later this week.

I also owe you a post on a crazy charity event I went to this weekend.  Hint, it involved teams, costumes, and crude jokes.  Admit it-you're curious!

But first, here's a rhyme that had one daycare saying "wow, it's magic".  Then they applauded.  Seriously.  It was pretty amazing.

The Rainbow Song!

I like to do this song with a big stock pot and wooden spoon.  I like to wear an apron for storytimes.  I had pockets where I would keep my rhymes and some small props, so I kept my "ingredients" in my apron pockets-usually just the fruit printed on cardstock.  Then, I kept colored squares of paper and the final product in the bottom of the stock pot.  So, just go along with the song and do as it says.  It's a crowd-pleaser!

Take some cherries, put them in the pot.
Stir it, stir it, stir it a lot.
Pour it out and what will it be?
The prettiest red you ever did see. 

Take an orange, put it in the pot.
Stir it stir it, stir it a lot.
Pour it out and what will it be?
The prettiest orange you ever did see.

Take a lemon, put it in the pot.
Stir it, stir it, stir it a lot.
Pour it out and what will it be?
The prettiest yellow you ever did see.

Take some limes, put them in the pot.
Stir it, stir it, stir it a lot.
Pour it out and what will it be?
The prettiest green you ever did see.

Take some berries, put them in the pot.
Stir it, stir it, stir it a lot.
Pour it out and what will it be?
The prettiest blue you ever did see.

Take some grapes, put them in the pot.
Stir it, stir it, stir it a lot.
Pour it out and what will it be?
The prettiest purple you ever did see.

Red and orange, yellow and green,
Blue and purple colors are seen.
Put them together, what will they be?
The prettiest rainbow you ever did see.

Just a quick little song for a Tuesday morning.  This rhyme works great for color recognition, storytimes about rain, cooking, imagination.  I'm not a big flannel board person, but this would make a great flannel board.  I prefer props, and for me, I got the most amazement out of using my magic pot.  However you choose to present this song, make sure you do it with enthusiasm and your kids will love it!

Happy Reading!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Books for Adults


As a children's librarian, I rarely read books for adults, and even less frequently do I enjoy them.  I joined a book club six months ago thinking that I would start reading just one adult book per month, but instead I skipped meetings and convinced everyone to read children's books for July.  (By the way, I'll let you know how that meeting turns out!)

So, my hubby was very surprised when I started an adult book and he was even more surprised to find out that it was non-fiction!

Outliers: The Story of Success

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell isn't your typical dry, fact-laden non-fiction tome.  It's quite entertaining and fascinating.  Basically, Gladwell argues that who you become is based on certain lucky breaks.  What makes a great hockey player?  Practice of course.  But who gets chosen for the most elite teams?  More often than not, the oldest kids on the team, meaning that birth date suddenly becomes a contributing factor to success.

Gladwell looks at the Beatles, Bill Gates, prominent lawyers and athletes to see if they were given some type of advantage.  For instance, all the prominent robber barons-the Rockafellers, JP Morgan, Vandebilts, etc.-were born in the same 10-15 year time period.  This allowed them to be the perfect age when our society was changing and growing.  The same can be said for giants in the software and computing world.  They were too born in the same timeframe, so they were just young and crazy enough to take advantage of the situation.

True, statistics can be bent and manipulated to say nearly anything you want, so maybe take the information with a grain of salt, but it is still very interesting stuff.  No, success isn't random, you do have to work very hard, but their are some lucky breaks and circumstances that can help hard work and ability along.

I really liked Gladwell's writing style.  It was conversational at times, and the stories that he told about individuals painted a very clear picture.  For someone afraid of non-fiction big-kids-books (my term for adult books), this was a great read. Also after reading so much fantasy and messy teen drama, it's nice to read a book at my level, with real facts, and no vampires! 

Malcolm Gladwell has published several other books, which I'll check out when I can.  This might be the perfect break from the world of children's literature. 

Happy Reading

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Back to Books-Wake

Yesterday I posted about Adoption Day and received nearly 150 views!  I learned this lesson:  I need to have adorable pictures of my nephew in every post.  Sadly, Anthony has nothing to do with today's topic, so instead I'll link you to a creepy expose on Animal Planet.

Are mermaids real?  According to the new fictional book by Amanda Hocking, no.  But sirens are very real.

Wake (Watersong, #1)

Gemma and Harper are sisters living in a small coastal town.  Gemma is obsessed with swimming and the water, while Harper is the responsible one.  But both of their lives become a little more complicated when three strangely beautiful girls-Penn, Lexi, and Thea-start showing an interest in Gemma.  And after a late night swim and a meeting with those girls, Gemma wakes up on the beach with no idea how she got there.

The mystery begins as Gemma tries to remember what happened that night, but also tried to understand what is happening to her now.  She is turning into a siren and must decide between leaving her family and first love, Alex, or wasting away without the sea.

Mermaids, or sirens, are the last mythological fad, and this book capitalizes on this trend.  Like other books, it does add some new twists to the old folklore, and instead of being benign little creatures, these sirens are all trouble.  Gemma and Harper are both likeable, as are their respectively love interests and there is enough romance to please teen readers.  The sirens themselves are rather quickly drawn in this volume, but as this is part of a series, one can only guess that the sirens will be fully drawn out down the road.

While this book is not fully engrossing, it is a light, quick beach read.  I do think that this series shows more promise than Hocking's Trylle series and will attract fans of paranormal fiction.  As far as adult crossover appeal, I'd say this a book best left to the teens.  Larger libraries should stock this book, but cash strapped smaller libraries should think twice.

Now for a librarian's rant.  Harper works at the library in this book, so there are several mentions of other books that she is reading.  While I appreciate the librarian shout-out, I was terribly troubled by one section.  Harper is re-reading Forever by Judy Blume in one section because it is part of the middle school summer reading program and she has to lead a book discussion later, or something to that effect.  Forever is an honest book about a girl losing her virginity.  It's good book, and one that frequently appears on the banned books list.  My problem here is that if a library included Forever in a middle school reading program, they would have angry parents with pitch forks banging down the door.  It's the kind of book that you have to hand out with some stealth.  I would absolutely recommend it to some 13 and 14 year-olds, but to put it on a recommended list for middle school is asking for trouble.  I know, it's a book about mermaids, or sirens, and I'm upset about a mildly inappropriate book being mentioned, but that's my line in the sand.  I'm with an author through mermaids, vampire babies, time-jumping, chimera, all of it, but if you have a librarian that doesn't know her reader's advisory-I'm out!

Oh, and in the interest of full disclosure, I received Wake as an Advances Reader's Copy from St. Martin's Press.  Actually that was pretty cool.  I didn't request this book-it just magically appeared at my door, so I feel like I'm gaining some street cred as a reviewer.  I don't have to beg for galleys anymore, they just come to me!  Actually I'm totally willing to beg for galleys--please send them!  I'll review for free!

That being said, I owe you a creepy documentary from Animal Planet.  Did you watch the mermaid show a couple weeks ago?  CRAZY!  My dad says he was with it up until the cell phone video at the end, but I'm not so sure.  I was pretty creeped out myself.

You be the judge.  Maybe Amanda Hocking knows something we don't.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Adoption Day!

On July 3, 2012, Anthony officially became part of the larger Torbeck family.

Check out that silly face.  He's going to fit right in!  

But what makes this family?  Let's go to the archives and find out!

September 2, 1972

These are my parents, Keith and Diane when they got married 40 years ago as babies!  They were 19 and 20!  But they were crazy about each other (or just crazy-we can't decide) so they got hitched, finished up college and lived in a teeny tiny trailer in Carbondale.  Like I said, crazy people.

Along came my sis Kim in 1977 and along came me in 1982 and we were a happy family.  


September 14, 2002

Kimberly married Patrick 10 years ago.  No, that was actually quite a happy day and while Patrick did bring some new weirdness to our family, he really just fit right in.  Patrick and Kim met while working together and Patrick's initial reaction to my sis was "I have to work with this hippy".  Kim's not a hippy, she was just wearing a tye-dye shirt.  It wasn't exactly love at first sight, but they are pretty great together.

Patrick and I are actually having a gift feud over flamingos.  We get each other random flamingo stuff for Christmas.  I'm winning right now because last year I scored him these for half price at Dollar General.

Yep, pink lawn flamingos.  And that's my dad's sis Roxie in the background laughing like a hyena.  She's odd too, so it all works.

Anyway, back to the family tree.  We added Patrick to mix things up, because if you go back a little farther, my family tree actually curves back on itself, but we'll discuss that later.  Things were good.

And then...

April 4, 2009


I married Doug.  He's also quite strange, so he was a good fit. I'll share the details of how we meet later.  But the short version is we met on eHarmony.  Not really.  That's just less embarrassing than the real story.

So, big happy family, but no kiddos yet.  And that's where Adoption Day comes in.  Kim and Patrick had been trying to adopt for years.  Sixish to be exact and it is a long and heartbreaking process.  They would find out about a child, then hear nothing, then find out they weren't getting him.  They even had two boys placed with them only to be taken away.  Like I said, heartbreaking.

But then came Anthony!

He was perfect!  He's very silly, loves to give silly kisses and hugs.  Like animals and being outside.   Loves the farm, fishing, dogs, bow and arrow, everything.  Plus at random he'll just stop what he's doing and say "I love you guys."  Only in Anthony talk it comes out "I wuv you guys".  Melts your heart.

All in all the process with Anthony went pretty well, but everyone still prayed and prayed that he would be fully adopted soon.  That day finally came, and honestly it was a little anticlimactic.   I don't know what I was expecting.  Actually I know exactly what I was expecting.  I thought we would all be in the courtroom and that Anthony would take the stand (as a 4 year-old mind you) and say how much he loved his family and we would all cry, and judge would bang his gavel and we would all cheer and Anthony would run down from the box thingy that you testify in and jump into my sister's arms and then there would be confetti.  Something simple and understated like that.

Instead, it was super fast.  We all walked into a conference room with the judge, attorney, social worker and adoption agency rep.  Kim and Patrick were asked a few questions and the judge said done.  He didn't even have a gavel, which kinda bummed out Anthony.  And then we were back on the road in about 15 minutes.  It was like a drive-through adoption.  

But you can't argue with the results!  Let's just close up this post with a bunch of Anthony pics, shall we?