Friday, March 13, 2015

Rockin' the Boat

Rockin' the Boat: 50 Iconic Revolutionaries - From Joan of Arc to Malcom X Jeff Fleischer

Woo-hoo! I'm back on Zest's Rockin' Blog Tour.

Much like Members Only: Secret Societies, Sects, and Cults Exposed! this new offering by Zest is a little more text-y than previous similar titles, and is a more YA-friendly trim size.

In this one, Fleischer looks at 50 iconic revolutionaries (in case you couldn't figure that out from the subtitle) with a brief introduction to their life, any context you need to know about what they were rebelling against, and what their revolution was. Most also have a pull-out box or two about the lasting legacy of their rebellion or how history and/or pop culture has changed their story (such as the real story of William Wallace vs. Braveheart)

Arranged in chronological order, the first part is pretty heavy on the anti-Romans (Hannibal! Boudica! Cleopatra!) Sam Adams, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson are here, as are Metacom, Tecumseh, Geronimo, Sitting Bull, and Liliukalani. Other Americans include Daniel Shays, John Brown, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Emma Goldman, Cesar Chavez, Malcom X and Marting Luter King, Jr. (If I counted correctly, 19 are Americans or were rebelling against something in the US, or doing it in what would become the US.)

It's not all white guys, and it's not all winners, which is a serious win. I also like while they are all certainly political revolutionaries, it's a nice blend between reformers and those who went to war. I would have liked to see more outside of the Americas and Europe, especially some less-known names. I mean some of these Americans are a bit obscure (Mary Harris Jones), and some of the early European ones definitely are (Vercingetroix, Arminus, Owain Glyndwr) but most of the ones south of the US aren't (Che, Castro, Simon Bolivar, Pancho Villa) And the ones that are further afield are pretty well known (Mao Zedong, Gandhi, Ho Chi Minh, Ataturk, Nelson Mandela). The one exception is New Zealand, where we get Hone Heke and Kate Sheppard.

It's a great introduction to some serious empire building and tearing down (as much as there is a lot of focus on the anti-Romans--8 out of 50, it also really shows the sweep of the Roman Empire, as well as its definite limits.) As well as major political movements, which still very much shape our world today.

While it's an easy one to dip in and out of, I recommend reading it in order, as many of the revolutions build on each other, or reference each other, so the context from a previous chapter is often useful, which is why the chronological order works so well here. Everything's only 3-5 pages, but it covers enough so people know what went down and why. IT's also short enough you think "oh, I can read just one more" and then you end up finishing the book in one session. (NOT THAT DID THAT. *whistles while looking innocent*) This is a great one for a wide range of readers and I really really really wish it had been around in 2012 when the National History Day theme was "Revolution, Reaction, and Reform". So many teens didn't know where to even start picking one-- I would have loved to be able to have them leaf through this book for inspiration!

Another fun and engaging, but still wildly informative, one from Zest.



Book Provided by... Zest, for blog tour inclusion

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Cybils Scarf Knitting

As you know, I was a second-round Cybils judge this year in YA Nonfiction. To help me prepare, and to have fun arm-chairing the first-round panelists, I read several of the nominations when the first-round was reading them, too.

And, while I was reading, I knit a scarf.




It is warm and cozy and can also be worn as a loose hood to keep my ears warm while not messing up my hair.

It also can cover large portions of my face when the weather requires!





The pattern isn't 100% exact, but if you want to knit one too, here's the general recipe. The actual knitting is pretty easy, but you have to be able to do it while reading. (Knitting while reading is my superpower. It got me through college--the knitting kept me awake while reading boring articles, and if that wasn't enough, I could randomly stab myself with a needle to help me perk up.)

Gather a few colors of yarn in a similar weight.
For this scarf, I used a KnitPicks lace sampler that had been sitting in my stash forever. It's a mix of their various lace-weight yarns, a total of 5 colors.

Find a gauge that gives a nice drape, but is tight enough to still be warm
For me, that was 5 stitches/inch on a size 3 needle.

Cast on 60 inches worth of stitches
So... 300 for me. BUT I did not take into account that, when worn, the weight would stretch it, so it's a lot longer than I intended, so I can loop it 3 times instead of 2.

Join round, being careful not to twist stitches, mark beginning of round
I totally twisted my stitches. :(

Knit in the round while reading your first book
Yes, you have to read and knit at the same time.

When you finish your book, break yarn, join next color
Don't worry about finishing the round. I used a split splice so I wouldn't have to weave in any ends. As you're striping, you can't really tell where the yarns overlap in the finished project.

Purl in the round (reverse stockinette stitch) in the round while reading your next book

Repeat in this way until you've read all your books or are running out of yarn.
I ran out of yarn. Some books were read more than once (especially on the short list) so they have multiple stripes.

Finish final round, bind off in pattern

Lightly steam block
One of the things that makes it so cozy is that the changing between stockinette and reverse stockinette make it bunch up, so it's even more extra warm!


Here's a close up of my striping pattern:



One stripe is not a full round long. Nonfiction lends itself to this, as the books tend to be a size where they stay open nicely on their own. A stapler across the top of the pages also works well to hold it open. If you're working with longer books, you can also switch every chapter or reading/knitting session. I kinda want to do one that is smaller (so it'll just be a cowl, no looping) in shades of dark gray/black with the stories in one of the City Noir books.

Also, just to brag, here's the vintage WWI poster you can see in the edge of the frame:




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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

What I've Been Reading: City Noir

Istanbul Noir edited by Mustafa Ziyalan and Amy Spangler

Ok, do you all know about Akashic Books City Noir series? So far there are sixty-nine titles (I think I counted that correctly)-- each is an anthology of noir short stories, taking place in a specific location, with the stories written by authors who are from there or live there, or write about the city a lot. Many of the volumes are international--if I counted correctly, 24 of the currently-out titles are international, with locations ranging from Paris to Manila, Kingston to St. Petersburg, Tehran to Copenhagen. (There are also 3 titles coming out this summer-- Providence, Beirut, and Marseille-- and another 21 that have been announced. Of the 24 that aren't out yet, 16 are international.)

I love this series so hard. It's the best of armchair travel, because you're going into neighborhoods and situations you don't usually get (because, well, noir). As the authors are mostly local, or write like a local, the city is the setting, and it's a character that links the stories, but there's no expositional tour guide voice that can run through books that take place in a location the readership might not know very well. There's just the city and culture in the background and part of the story, which in a way is more enlightening. Between all the stories, you usually get a wide range of neighborhoods, people, and economic status--and not a lot of the touristy stuff we usually see. While the concept itself is diverse, there's also tremendous diversity within each volume. Also, with the international ones, you get to read a lot of authors that haven't published in English before, or that you might not otherwise have come across.

So, as much as I read and love this series, I haven't reviewed it yet because, well, Istanbul Noir is the only one I've actually finished. Not because the others aren't good, but they're short stories! So I tend to dip in and out of the collections, and then they're due back at the library, and so I'll return it and pick up a new city. I've found short stories are the best bus reading, because that's usually how long I have. I haven't really gotten into short stories before, but I think my friend and co-worker Megan put a finger on it when she explained why she doesn't like them--they're too short for her to really connect to and like a character. That's the best part about noir--you're not really supposed to like most of these people.

So! If you're looking for some great short stories by authors you may not know, or want a new look at a city you love, or a very different introduction to one you've never been to, this series is for you.

Also, what cities do you wish they covered? Personally, I'm crossing my fingers for Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong (and maybe a separate Kowloon volume, like they split up the boroughs of New York City?), Cape Town, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, and Karachi.


Book Provided by... my local library

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Monday, March 09, 2015

Members Only: Secret Societies, Sects, and Cults--Exposed

I'm super excited that Zest asked me to be part of their Rockin' Blog Tour and let me have 2 dates and 2 books to talk about! As frequent readers, and anyone who's heard me present about nonfiction knows, I love Zest's work.

Members Only: Secret Societies, Sects, and Cults Exposed! Julie Tibbott

So, I was expecting this to be along the lines of previous Zest titles such as Scandalous!: 50 Shocking Events You Should Know About (So You Can Impress Your Friends), Historical Heartthrobs: 50 Timeless Crushes-From Cleopatra to Camus, and The End: 50 Apocalyptic Visions From Pop Culture That You Should Know About...Before It's Too Late, but about secret societies and shady groups.

In essence, it is, but it's a little more text-y and has a different trim size-- 9 by 6 inches instead of 6 inches square. I'm a big fan of YA nonfiction having a more standard trim size, so YAY for trim size.

Tibbott introduces us to 22 different secret or exclusive groups, giving their history, what they do, and what's secret about them (if anything). (And here's where I mean it's a bit more texty--it's slightly longer, but covers fewer things than the previous books, with bigger pages. Also, the design has fewer pull-out boxes.) It's a great introduction to groups--some of which teens will have heard of, some of which they'll probably hear of at some point, and some of which they may never come across again.

The format is a great one for browsing, or just dipping in and out of. They're arranged in alphabetical order, which makes for a few jarring transitions-- Branch Davidians go to Club 33 (a super exclusive dining room club at Disneyland) or the Society for Creative Anachronism leading into the Symbionese Liberation Army (which also just gives a good sense of the wide range of groups covered.) After each group, there's also a few pages of further information--usually a brief introduction to several other similar groups, or an interview with someone involved in the group (including a young Freemason.) I also appreciate that, when appropriate, she offers hotlines and other places for help if you or someone you know is effected by a similar group or related issues (such as hazing or cult membership.)

Now, I'm an educated adult, so I knew about several of the groups (Skull and Bones, Freemasons, Know-Nothings, SCA, SLA) and there were more that I had heard of, but didn't know a lot about (La Santa Muerte--Shapeshifted now makes more sense--Thuggees, The Hellfire Club) and some I had never heard of before (The Bilderberg Group, Club 33, The Machine). So, something for everyone.

Like Zest's other titles, it's a great introduction to some really big movements or ideas, done in a way that will appeal to a wide range of readers. It's a perfect book for extremely reluctant readers, and your more hardcore readers will also love it--and then come back wanting to know more about certain groups.

Also, bonus for Arrested Development fans-- The Magic Castle is covered, which gives some great background to Gob and the Gothic Castle and Magician's Alliance. So we all have "Final Countdown" in our heads now, right? Good.

Come back on Friday for my review of Rockin' the Boat: 50 Iconic Revolutionaries - From Joan of Arc to Malcom X and in the meantime, check out the rest of the tour.


Book Provided by... the publisher, for Blog Tour inclusion.

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

We Need Diverse Books

Every year, the Cooperative Children's Book Center tracks how many books are by, or about, people of color. They just released the numbers for 2014.

It's not pretty.

For some context--they estimate 5000 books for kids and teens were pubbed. They looked at 3500 of them. I took the number of books about an ethnic group and divided it by 3500 to get the percentage. I then did the number of books by an ethnic group and did the same thing. (CCBC breaks it out into two numbers--how many are about that ethnic group, and how many do not contain significant cultural content of that group. I added those two numbers together to get a total.)

I then graphed those percentages against the percentage of the US population of the same ethnic group. (Source: 2013 Census Bureau info) (I added the numbers for Asian and Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander to get a number to compare to CCBC's Asian Pacific/Asian Pacific American)

Ideally, all of these percentages should be equal.

They're not:



We can certainly do better than this.



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Monday, February 16, 2015

Coming Soon (and I can't wait)

Looking through the upcoming hardcover adult fiction lists for work, here are some books that caught my eye:



Paris Red: A Novel by Maureen Gibbon. A novel exploring Olympia--the model the posed for it, the painter who painted it, and how it changed everything in their lives. Pubs April 20

Mademoiselle Chanel: A Novel by CW Gortner. A fictionalized biography of Coco Chanel. I've recently made my peace with fictionalized biographies (they're literary biopics!) and they're a fun way to read more about someone I wouldn't necessarily read an actual biography of. Pubs March 17

The Scapegoat: A Novel by Sophia Nikolaidou, translated from the Greek by Karen Emmerich. Based on a true story, a school student is assigned the task of finding the truth in the murder of an American journalist in Greece in 1948. The killer was found, but after serving his time, claims his innocence. Out now



Me and My Daddy Listen to Bob Marley: Novellas and Stories by Ann Pancake. I've been getting into short stories lately and these take place in rural Appalachia--a place that is so geographically close to me, but is a whole different world. Out now.

A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab. Library Journal gave it a star and this part of a sentence is what sold me "the three Londons we see (and rumors of the one we do not)..." Pubs February 24

Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction: A Novel by Judd Trichter. Eliot fell in love with an android, and she's been kidnapped and sold off for spare parts. Now he has to buy up the parts, reassemble her, and then hunt down the people who did this to her. Out now.




Bones & All: A Novel by Camille DeAngelis. Kirkus said this coming-of-age story about a ghoul who keeps eating people read like a cheesy episode of Buffy. Like that was a BAD thing. Pubs March 10.

The Last Flight of Poxl West: A Novel by Daniel Torday. Eli idolizes his uncle Poxl--debonair fighter pilot and WWII hero, but as Eli learns more, he realizes that there is a darker side to Poxl's life and the legend he's built up for himself. Pubs March 17.

A Love Like Blood: A Novel by Marcus Sedgwick. Um, Marcus Sedgwick wrote an adult book. The only other thing you need to know is that is it's out now.



The Prince: A Novel by Vito Bruschini, translated from the Italian by Anne Milano Appel. The most promising of a handful of mob books on this month's lists. This one covers the true story of how mafia began in Italy, Irish and Italian gang turf wars in New York, and WWII. Pubs March 10

A Dangerous Place: A Maisie Dobbs Novel by Jacqueline Winspear. New! Maisie! Dobbs! Pubs March 17.

The Devil's Detective: A Novel by Simon Kurt Unsworth. A detective novel about a serial killer--but it takes place in Hell. Intriguing. Pubs March 12.



The Mouth of the Crocodile: A Mamur Zapt mystery set in pre-World War I Egypt by Michael Pearce. It's the subtitle that got me--pre-WWI Egypt. This is the 18th in a series I'm unfamiliar with, so I'll have to start at the beginning with The Mamur Zapt & the Return of the Carpet). This new one pubs on March 1.

Murder in the Queen's Wardrobe: An Elizabethan Spy Thriller by Kathy Lynn Emerson. Ladies in waiting that double as spies? Elizabethan England and the Russians are involved? Please download this into my brain ASAP. Pubs March 1.

Duet in Beirut: A Thriller by Mishkla Ben-David, translated from the Hebrew by Evan Fallenberg. A spy thriller written by a former Mossad agent. Ben-David's a best seller in Israel and this is his first novel translated into English. Pubs on April 14.



Leaving Berlin: A Novel by Joseph Kanon. Alex fled the Nazis for America, but in the McCarthy era, his pre-war activities mark him for deportation. He strikes a deal with the CIA--he'll return to Berlin, as their agent, and earn his way back to the US. But the CIA wants him to spy on those it was hardest to leave the first time. Pubs on March 3.


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Monday, February 02, 2015

Diversity Wins at the Youth Media Awards

ALA's Youth Media Awards are always an exciting day for those who love youth literature. This is when the big prizes (Newbery! Caldecott! Printz! more!) are announced.

There are several specialized awards, such as the Coretta Scott King awards for books by African-Americans about the African-American Experience, and there has been some worry that these awards "ghetto-ize" books by diverse authors. While committees can't explicitly take it into consideration, are books by diverse authors unintentionally overlooked for the bog awards because oh, they'll just win the other one, that's "for them"?

Not today. Not today. Not today. It was SO EXCITING to see overlap between the awards and see so much diversity recognized and celebrated. Let's hope this isn't a one-year change, but long-term one.

Here are some of the diverse titles awarded today Caveats: I'm only listing books where diversity wasn't a criteria, so I'm not listing winners of the Schneider Family Award, Coretta Scott King awards, Pura Bel Pre, Stonewall, or Batchelder because listing all of them inflates the numbers. Many of the books listed also won these awards though, because they're awesome books. I may have also missed a few titles.



The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

El Deafo by Cece Bell

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson



Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales, photographs by Tim O'Meara

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson



Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Howell, illustrated by Christian Robinson

H.O.R.S.E.: A Game of Basketball and Imagination by Christopher Myers, narrated by Dion Graham and Christopher Myers (yes, I know this links to the book. It won for audio, but Amazon doesn't seem to carry it)

Five, Six, Seven, Nate! written and narrated by Tim Federle



Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen




Laughing at My Nightmare by Shane Burcaw

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin

Bingo's Run: A Novel by James A Levine



Confessions by Kanae Minato, translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder

Everything I Never Told You: A Novel by Celeste Ng

The Terrorist's Son: A Story of Choice by Zak Ebrahim with Jeff Giles

AND! In addition to the books, the 3 authors honored were... Donald Crews, Sharon M. Draper, and Pat Mora.

It's an awesome list, no?


Updated 2/20: I'm adding The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat


Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

Friday, January 02, 2015

2014 in Review

Well, it's a new year, so of course it's time to look back on the year that was. I hate doing my "best of" lists or my stats before the clock strikes midnight because I CAN STILL TOTALLY READ MOAR BOOKS!

But first, a look back and the highlights of this year (I'll save the lowlights for when we're sharing a bottle of wine face-to-face).

At the beginning of the year I finished up my work on Outstanding Books for the College Bound. Almost a full year later and I'm still really damn proud of that list.

Shortly after, I was able to drop the "Acting" from my job title of Acting Branch Manager. I also joined the adult collection development committee, which has been really great.

In May, I did my last storytime. I'm sure I'll do it again, maybe if it's just filling in, but it is no longer part of my regular job duties, and probably won't be again for quite some time. It's been bittersweet. (BUT! This fall, with the new storytime schedule, and me working a slightly different work schedule, there is now a storytime that I can take L to! So now I get to go to storytime, which is great.)

In June, I transferred to a much larger branch in my system, which was a big change, but one I'm really enjoying. After about a week there, I went off to Las Vegas for ALA. Angela and I got to present on tips and tricks for reader's advisory with nonfiction and I got to hang out with old friends and make new ones. We took the most epic group selfie to make Rachel jealous. But I got her twitter handle wrong when mocking her with it. And then, in the airport on the way home, I won $40 in the Dolly Parton slot machine.

In August, I started a tumblr documenting my attempts to explain pop songs to L. L now has more tumblr followers than I have on all my other social media accounts combined. And then multiplied.

This fall, I was asked to give my ALA presentation again at a staff day in a nearby library system, which was really nice. And now I'm working on updating it (highlighting new books) because I'm giving it again this May at the Maryland and Delaware Library Association Annual Conference, which is very exciting.

I also started a new project on the website, suggesting read-alikes for the books with the longest holds lists. That's been a really fun challenge that I (hope) is something our users are finding useful.

And, of course, I read a lot. After 2 years on YALSA committees, this was a bit of a recovery year. I read a lot less. I've also found I'm much more willing to drop a book part-way through if it's just not working for me at that moment. And, now that I'm no longer officially a youth services librarian and am doing more with adult collections, I read a lot more adult titles, which is a really big shift.

So... I read 147 books. 58 were YA, 7 were middle grade (?!) and a whopping 79 were adult. (yes, I know that math doesn't quite work.)

77 were by women, 67 were by men. 37 were titles I would consider diverse. 20 were translated works. 57 were comics and 11 were adult romances. 37 were nonfiction, which is a low percentage for me especially as many were 'required' but it makes sense after 2 years of nonfiction-heavy years because of my committee work. And only 43 books were required reading (so, for committee work [last minute OBCB reading and my pre-Cybils reading] and assigned reviews).

So... that's my year. Next year, I want to read more diverse titles and more works in translation and more romance.

How was your year? Oh, and here are some of my favorite books of the year:









Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.