Week in Review: June 6: Quarantine Week 12: In Which I Conduct a Virtual Work Audit


Blog Posts of The Week:

Tweet of the Week:

Instagram Post of the Week:

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I want to talk about being an ally to #blacklivesmatter today. ▪️ I’d rather give space to Black voices who have already been speaking much more thoughtfully and eloquently than I can ever hope to manage. But I also want to be an ally which means being visible and vocal about it. ▪️ If you’re not sure where to start offering support: -Listen to Black voices -Amplify Black voices -Donate to reputable organizations including local bail funds (if your local bail fund doesn’t need donations they may direct you to organizations that do) -If you are protesting be as safe as you can be and make sure you know who is organizing the protest (some bad actors are seizing on this chance to create even more violence under the guise of protest and you don’t want to be party to that) -Educate yourself Read news articles, listen to Black voices and what they choose to share (don’t ask for more from them), and read up online. If you’re looking for books, start with: -Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates -This Book is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell, illustrated by Aurelia Durand -Stamped From the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi (Stamped is a young readers edition Kendi worked on with Jason Reynolds) -How to Be An Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi -So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo -Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad For fiction titles start with: -Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles -Representative John Lewis’ March Trilogy -How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon -Slay by Brittney Morris -A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramee -All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely -Dear Martin by Nic Stone -The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas -American Street by Ibi Zoboi ▪️ If you have other ways to be an ally or other titles you’d consider essential, leave them in the comments.

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How My Week Went:

This week has been hard. If you are participating in Black Lives Matter protests, please be as safe as you can be. If you are able to, please donate. If you are trying to offer support, educate yourself and start reading.

I’ve been doing a lot of readers advisory work this week tabulating resources to share at my library. I have a lot of holds to place for my own reading, too.

This week I also did an audit of all of the virtual work I’ve done since quarantine started (I can’t believe it’s been twelve weeks). I went through my calendar, reviewed sent emails and messages on Slack to make an itemized list of everything I’ve done and collect relevant links and photos for things that were shared out. It was interesting to remember everything I had worked on since it’s been such a long time since we’ve had regular work days and it was valuable to remember that even though it feels like I haven’t been doing much that is patently untrue. If you’ve been working from home, I recommend doing your own work audit.

Serious Moonlight: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

“You have the chance to make different choices.”

Serious Moonlight by Jenn BennettBirdie Lindberg’s previously small life is in flux after her strict grandmother’s death. In a bid to gain some independence after finishing homeschooling and earning her high school equivalency, not to mention getting some work experience before college, Birdie convinces her grandfather to let her job hunt on the mainland.

Working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel won’t be interesting, but it should be easy. Plus, there’s the added bonus of giving Birdie plenty of opportunities to hone her observation skills as an aspiring detective.

At least until Birdie realizes that she’ll be working with Daniel Aoki–amateur magician, graveyard shift van driver, and the other half of an awkward one-afternoon fling that Birdie thought she could safely pretend never happened.

Ignoring Daniel to preserve what’s left of her dignity proves impossible when he asks for her help investigating a reclusive writer holding secret meetings at the hotel. Faced with Daniel’s smoking hotness, his genuine need, and her own curiosity, Birdie knows she has to help.

As Birdie and Daniel work on this real-life mystery together, she soon realizes that the bigger mystery might be what to do about her own feelings for Daniel in Serious Moonlight (2019) by Jenn Bennett.

Find it on Bookshop.

Bennett’s latest standalone novel is filled with all of my favorite things including tons of references to classic detective stories. Birdie is a capable, smart heroine still learning how to come into her own with support from her grandfather and her nonconformist artist aunt, Mona. Daniel is charismatic, funny, and everything Birdie (and readers) could want in a male lead.

The hotel mystery and Birdie’s approach to life as she works to pursue her dream of becoming a private investigator add a lot of intrigue and fun to this contemporary romance.

On a personal level, it also felt like this book was written just for me. I identified so much with Birdie throughout the story as she struggles to come out of her shell and give herself the space and permission she needs to grow and thrive. This book is also the first time I have ever seen a story truly capture the weird blend of abject panic and genuine desire inherent to actually wanting to interact with someone.

Serious Moonlight is fantastic, filled with just enough tension to make the mystery aspect interesting while keeping the main focus on Birdie and her relationships. Birdie and Daniel are delightful lead characters complimented by an eccentric and entertaining cast of supporting characters. A new favorite for me, and maybe for you too. Highly recommended.

Possible Pairings: Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore; Finding Yvonne by Brandy Colbert; The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo; Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson; Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus; Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke; The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe; Past Perfect by Leila Sales; Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith; This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura

Scythe: A Review

Scythe by Neal ShustermanIn a post-death world, everything should be perfect. And maybe it is. There is no hunger, no disease, no poverty. Even aging is optional.

Sure, some things are boring–maybe even stagnant–but when you can literally go splat to shake things up without any consequences, does that matter?

Even a perfect world is still only so big. The population still needs to be controlled.

That’s where the scythes come in.

As the only agency who operates outside of the control of the Thunderhead–the AI that helped make this utopia a reality–scythes are tasked with culling the population. Each scythe has full freedom to choose their own methods, their own victims, and their apprentices.

Neither Rowan nor Citra expect to attract a scythe’s attention before turning their first corner. They are even more surprised when, instead of being gleaned, they are told that Scythe Faraday has chosen both of them to be his apprentices.

The problem: Only one of them will become a scythe at the end of the year. In fact, only one of them may survive in Scythe (2016) by Neal Shusterman.

Find it on Bookshop.

Do you ever read a book and just not get it? That was me with this one.

I’ve read Scythe twice and, honestly, I still don’t understand a lot of the appeal. The story alternates between third person narration following key players–primarily Rowan and Citra–as the story unfolds. Excerpts from scythes’ journals add another layer exposing some of this world’s inner-workings as well as its steady decay.

Shusterman has created a compelling and fully realized distant future world with a sprawling story exploring corruption, stagnation, and what living in a utopia really means. Unfortunately most of the characters fail to live up to this setting often feeling one dimensional and flat. One could argue that is the natural result of living in a world free of conflict and challenge, but that caveat doesn’t make them any more interesting to read about.

The final act of Scythe picks up a lot with increased tension, better pacing, and numerous twists even if the characters, in a lot of ways, fail to make truly key changes. I’m still not sure if I’ll knuckle through the rest of the trilogy. Recommended for readers who prefer  dystopias in utopian clothing and plot driven novels with a heavy dose of philosophical posturing.

Possible Pairings: The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow, Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray, The Diabolic by S. J. Kincaid, Amber & Dusk by Lyra Selene, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

May 2020 Reading Tracker

Books I Read:

  1. When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton (audio)
  2. Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life by Marie Kondo and Scott Soneshein
  3. Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee
  4. A Treason of Thorns by Laura E. Weymouth (audio)
  5. Hunted by the Sky by Tanaz Bhatena
  6. Take Me With You by Tara Altebrando
  7. The Insomniacs by Marit Weisenberg
  8. Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare (audio)
  9. To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers (audio)
  10. Beyond the Black Door by A. M. Strickland
  11. American Gods by Neil Gaiman (audio)
  12. A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry
  13. King Lear by William Shakespeare (audio)
  14. Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman (audio)
  15. Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst
  16. The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander (audio)
  17. If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio (audio)
  18. Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less – and Achieve More Than You Ever Imaginedby Scott Soneshein (audio)

Books I Had Planned to Read:

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What books are you hoping to read in May? 📚 I’m in the middle of Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee for my buddy read with @utopia.state.of.mind and also listening to When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton. 📚 Aside from those I’m also planning to read these (especially since three are carry overs from last month): 📖Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst 📖Hunted by the Sky by Tanaz Bhatena 📖Take Me With You by Tara Altebrando 📖The Insomniacs by Marit Weisenberg 📚 Are any of these on your own to read list? Which one would you read first? 📚 #instabooks #currentlyreading #bookreview #instareads #lovereading #booklife #bookblogging #bookblogger #bookstagrammer #booksofig #booksharks #whattoread #booklover #bookgram #reader #booktography #bookstagram #beautifulbooks #booksofinstagram #humansofbookstagram #bookstagramit #bookish #librariansofinstagram #bookblog #allthebooks #readersofinstagram #unitedbookstagram #stacksaturday #toread #bookstoread

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Books Bought:

  1. Harley in the Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman (trying Once Upon a Bookclub!)

ARCs Received:

  1. Beauty Mark: A Verse Novel of Marilyn Monroe by Carole Boston Weatherford (requested)
  2. 1789: Twelve Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution, and Change edited by Marc Aronson and Susan Campbell Bartoletti (requested)
  3. The Great Gatsby: A Graphic Novel Adaptationby Katharine Woodman-Maynard (requested)

You can also see what I read in April.

Week in Review: May 30: Quarantine Week 11


Blog Posts of The Week:

Tweet of the Week:

Instagram Post of the Week:

How My Week Went:

This week started okay but then I stopped sleeping well and that made the end of it hard. I did a lot though–got several work things off my list, did some errands, paid off some quarantine purchases, made some others. This week always feels really long–that weird nether time between Memorial Day and June. This year it seems even longer with the absence of BookExpo and, you know, the entire global health crisis. Everything is still on fire but I feel like if I focus on the current moment I can manage. We’ll  see how long that lasts.

Booklist: Activism Starts With You: Novels to Inspire Empathy

This piece originally appeared at Teen Services Underground in 2017.

You can also find the list at Bookshop.

It’s been a wild and sometimes scary ride lately with the political climate changing in the wake of the 2016 United States Presidential election, the current health crisis and, unfortunately, racism and hatred spreading wildly. Two of the best ways to combat this negativity are to get informed and to nurture your empathy. That’s where this booklist comes in with titles about young activists.

  • The Lines We Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah: Michael agrees with everything he hears at the anti-immigrant rallies he’s dragged to with his parents. Until he meets Mina who is clever, funny, and a Muslim refugee from Afghanistan. As Mina and Michael grow closer they’ll have to decide where they stand and who they want to be in the face of rising tensions and issues that are anything but simple.
  • Saints and Misfits by S. K. Ali: Janna Yusuf is the daughter of the only divorced mother at her mosque. She loves Flannery O’Connor. And she has no idea what to think when her best friend’s cousin–one of the so-called “saints” in the Muslim community–tries to assault her.
  • The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu: M. T. gets good grades. She has a best friend and the promise of romance on the horizon. What M. T. doesn’t have is any plans for college. Because M. T. has been hiding something since she was a child. She’s an undocumented immigrant.
  • The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg: Jane feels like her life is over when her family moves to suburbia. Then she meets three other girls, all named Jane, and they form a secret gang to deploy art attacks throughout their town.
  • Little Brother by Cory Doctorow: Set in post-9/11 San Francisco, Marcus is on a quest to hack his city from the sinister clutches of Homeland Security.
  • Refugee by Alan Gratz: Separated by miles and decades, the stories of three refugees–Josef, a Jewish boy fleeing Nazi Germany in the 1930s; Isabel, a girl hoping to escape the riots and unrest that plague Cuba in 1994; and Mahmoud, a Syrian boy in 2015, whose homeland is being destroyed by violence and destruction–come together in surprising ways during the course of their harrowing journeys.
  • How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon: When sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson is shot to death, his community is thrown into chaos. Tariq was black and the shooter is white. In the aftermath of the shooting Tariq’s friends, family, and larger community struggle to make sense of the tragedy. But when everyone has something to say, and no two accounts seem to agree, no one is sure how they can ever agree on how it really went down.
  • Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu: In the pages of her new zine “Moxie” Vivian calls out sexist jokes, harassment, and unfair dress codes in her Texas high school and asks girls to join her in protests that quickly gain momentum and help the Moxie movement take on a life of its own. As the stakes rise for what the zine and the Moxie girls are fighting for, Vivian has to decide how far she’s willing to go for what she believes.
  • The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed: The Nowhere Girls are everygirl. But they start with three outsiders–Grace, Rosina, and Erin–as they band together to resist the sexist culture at their high school and to get justice for Lucy, a girl run out of town after accusing the popular guys at school of gang rape.
  • All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely: Rashad is accused  of stealing and brutally beaten by a police officer. Quinn witnesses the beating and recognizes the cop as his best friend’s older brother. The entire thing was caught on camera, but even with that footage, it becomes clear that no one agrees on what happened and Quinn is going to have to choose a side.
  • Dear Martin by Nic Stone: Justyce McAllister is at the top of his class and bound for the Ivy League. None of which matters to the police officer who handcuffs him only to release Justyce hours later without charges or remorse. Haunted by the incident and the pressures he faces both from his old neighborhood and his prep school, Justyce starts writing a journal to Dr. Martin Luther King. But even Dr. King’s teachings are put to the test when Justyce and his best friend end up at the center of a night that ends with shots fired and a media firestorm.
  • Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley: Virginia, 1959. Sarah is one of the first black students to attend her newly integrated high school. Meeting Sarah and working with her on a school project forces Linda–a white girl–to confront hard truths about her family’s anti-integration beliefs.
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: Starr Carter watches her friend Kahlil die at the hands of a police officer and faces intimidation from both the police and a local drug lord as they try to find out what happened that night.
  • The Inside of Out by Jenn Marie Thorne: Daisy’s efforts to support her best friend, Hannah, when she comes out as a lesbian spiral out of control as Daisy challenges the school’s ban on same-sex dates at school events. When the local story goes national Daisy is the accidental face of a movement.
  • Seeking Refuge: A Graphic Novel by Irene N. Watts and Kathryn Shoemaker: Marianne is eleven-years-old in 1938. She is one of the first two hundred children rescued during Kindertransport and evacuated to England in December. In 1939 her journey continues as she is evacuated to Wales. Shuffled from home to home, Marianne will need courage and resilience to reach the end of her journey.
  • The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew: The previously untold origin story of the Green Turtle–a heroic crime fighter who first hit the scenes in the 1940s–the first Asian American superhero.

Tunnel of Bones: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

“Maybe is a match in the dark.

“Maybe is a rope in a hole, or the key to a door.

“Maybe is how you find the way out.”

Tunnel of Bones by Victoria SchwabCassidy Blake’s best friend Jacob is a ghost. This wasn’t as big of an issue until Cassidy and her parents (and Jacob) traveled to Scotland to film a TV about the world’s most haunted places. There Cassidy learned that she isn’t just a girl who can talk to ghosts. She is a ghost hunter tasked with putting ghosts to rest.

This has, understandably, created some tension between the two friends.

But understanding her role as a ghost hunter will have to wait when the Blakes travel to Paris and Cassidy accidentally awakens a dangerously strong ghost.

As the new ghost and Jacob both grow stronger Cassidy will have to rely on old friends and new to put this new menace to rest before it’s too late in Tunnel of Bones (2019) by Victoria Schwab.

Find it on Bookshop

Tunnel of Bones is the second book in Schwab’s middle grade series following Cassidy Blake. The story starts in City of Ghosts but thanks to sufficient recaps the books can be read independently or even out of order.

I love this series. There is nothing more comforting to me than reading about Cassidy’s growing pains as a friend to Jacob and as a fledgling ghost hunter. Readers can expect to see the usual spooky suspects in Paris including the Catacombs and a poignant visit to Notre Dame before the fire in April 2019 left the historic cathedral in ruins.

New locations and new reveals add dimension to Cassidy’s understanding of her ghost hunting abilities as well as Jacob’s backstory. Schwab expertly balances scares and laughs in this fast-paced read that is sure to entertain readers both young and old. A surprise ending will leave readers especially eager to see what awaits Cassidy and Jacob in the next installment.

Tunnel of Bones is as entertaining as it is evocative. Come for the ghosts and stay for the friendships–just be sure to have a snack on hand because the descriptions of all of the French cuisine Cassidy discovers will leave you hungry.

Possible Pairings: The Jumbies by Tracy Baptiste, Doll Bones by Holly Black, The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken, The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud