Month: September 2012

29 Sep 2012

Printz 2013 contenders

Awards season is upon us… I can smell it in the air. Just a few weeks away from the National Book Award noms, and then on into January and yeahhhh…

And what’s more fun than a little awards speculation? Following Someday My Printz Will Come, and they’ve put together a lovely “short-list” of books that earned lots of starred reviews. Aka, a nice reading list to look over before the awards are announced in January.

These ones, I have read…


The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Almost everything John Green touches turns to Printz gold (or silver). This one is still on the bestseller list, 9 months later. Adults who don’t read YA have heard of it! Can Green’s latest (greatest?) further cement his Printz darling status? (Please ignore my snark, I wrote a long paper on this topic a few years ago, so I can’t help it).  My (not-so-snarky) review here.

Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson

Um, I loved this book, and I love when non-fiction gets awards. My review here.

Beneath a Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson

I’ve heard mixed reviews on this one from Woodson-loving friends and reviewers alike. I, on the other hand, am a Woodson-lover who can’t get enough books about drug addicts, so I’m somewhat biased. My review here.

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

The Printz is not kind to my favorite genre of books – the pink-cover brigade. Second Chance Summer made me weep, but I’m not sure even well-drawn sentimentality traditionally wins awards points.  My review here.

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfeld

Not sure this one was… enough for a Printz. That doesn’t make sense, but then again, I’m not on the Printz awards committee so I am allowed a certain level of nonspecific language.  I haven’t read a TON of debuts this year, so maybe I am talking out of my ass, but this one has William C. Morris Award written all over it.   My review here.

My Book of Life By Angel by Martine Leavitt

This book I read for a professional review – I read it once and said, “Oh, book in verse, sad teen prostitutes, eh.” Then I read it again and it knocked me off my feet. It’s gritty, written in verse so spare there are barely any words on the page, and full of literary allusions – an impressive combination.


 These books have been added to my to-read list

The Storyteller by Antonia Michaelis

In this German-translated novel, protagonist Anna is in love with a troubled bad boy who tells pseudo-fairytales and may be a serial killer. Maybe I’ve been exposed to too much Christian Grey/Edward Cullen, but somehow I am not only tolerant of this plotline, I am intrigued.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Everyone from my close friends to review mags to blogs to awards committees to my little sister insist this is a must read. I’ve read about a hundred pages, but it’s a lot of historical for me. I should try to muscle through, because I think all this critical acclaim can’t be ignored.

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

I am not sure this one sounds like a true awards contender, but it sounds like a fun urban romp, a la Nick and Norah, worth checking out.

The Disenchantments by Nina Lacour

I really liked Lacour’s Hold Still, so I’ve been wanting to check out her sophomore effort for quite some time…

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth

One of my nearest and dearest Boston friends (who is moving to Seattle in like, three days!! WAAAH!) gushed about this book, so it must be something special. However, I am not sure how I feel about “both my parents have died, but this book isn’t really about my parents being dead” books – it might beyond my capacity to understand how dead parents can coexist with any other sort of plot-point.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Also recommended by my Why-Are-You-Leaving-Me-For-Seattle friend, and also the author of another book I loved last year – Last Night I Sang to the Monster. And if there was an award for best book cover of the year? This one would have to be up there.


27 Sep 2012

life as a normal human: sick days

You go to sleep with a sore throat, wake up with a headache. Walking from bedroom to bathroom seems about all the walking you can muster at a time.

So you call in sick.

And it’s been a long time since you’ve called in sick. In school, you were prone to going to class ill, saving your absences for more relaxing/fun endeavors. In recent months, you maybe even “scheduled” sick days, staggered to miss different jobs, so you wouldn’t have to work fourteen straight days… but when you were actually sick? Have fun with a 12 hour day…

Waking up and letting your body just be ill. Sleeping in a little, drinking tea, taking medicine. You watch TV until you get too tired, you play games until you get too tired, feel unproductive and try to clean up your house until you get too tired.

You rest, you get a little better, a little less contagious.

You read a book.

A cat sits on your lap.

Life as a normal human.

27 Sep 2012

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfeld

Earlier this year, I had a short conversation about my YA reading preferences with a children’s-literature-professional-someone. After a few “yes, I loved that”s and “no, that’s not really my thing”s, she had me pegged. “So you like gritty, huh?”

I think I probably said, “ehh sure i dunno ah i guess” or something similarly professional. I like fluffy, girly romances. I like smart books with a sense of humor. I do not like YA books about murders or child abuse or domestic violence or regular violence or divorce. I do not like gritty.

Except for when I love books about drug addicts and eating disorders and prostitution and whups, I guess I like gritty.

Kat Rosenfeld’s Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone is a gritty murder book after my own heart. It begins with one of those ominous beginnings – I don’t have the book handy, but something like “A girl (whose body would be found on the side of the road by small town cops) died not too far away from me while I was doing XYZ, can you believe that?” Spooky, creepy etc. But the XYZ, for Becca, is having uninspired sex with her boyfriend in the back of his pickup truck the night of her high school graduation, and then getting dumped before what was to be their last summer. Now you got me.

Rosenfeld’s debut novel is equally split between Amelia and Becca. Becca is a smart girl in a small town in rural Massachusetts, counting down the days until she can escape to college. But yes, she’s in love, with James – one of those boys who has a sad story to tell, who needs a little fixing. But when Amelia’s body is found and James changes his tune on their relationship, Becca’s grip is rattled – she drinks too much, gets sucked into the small-town Whodunnit drama, and starts to second-guess her decision to leave town.

Many reviews have called Rosenfeld’s language “lush” and “vibrant,” and I would have to agree – this is a book that takes language seriously. The evocative descriptions of Becca’s hometown capture both the visceral details of the setting and the stories that create small-town mythology so essential to understanding the town’s inhabitants. With language and form, Rosenfeld allows Bridgeton to become a character.

That being said, after 200 pages of “lush” and “vibrant,” I, personally, begin to skim sentences, and adjectives such as “flowery” and “overwritten” come to mind. However, this could just have been my body fighting with my brain, wanting to read faster to more quickly reveal secrets and see where this is all leading, to see if Becca will leave or stay, if she will stay with James,  if anyone will figure out what really happened the night Amelia died. If your reading has been feeling a little too fluffy lately, then this might just what you ned.

25 Sep 2012

this is why i don’t have nice things

Back in January, I had this moment of pure genius. The Boy and I had just returned from our Christmas break, loaded with gifts from our generous families. We had been generous with each other, too. We wanted for nothing. Unfortunately, between January and March, we have our anniversary, both birthdays, and Valentine’s.

We were cash poor. We were tired of shopping. We have been dating for just way too many gift-giving holidays and are running out of good ideas, and we’ve moved too many times to buy potentially not-useful knick-knacks.

My moment of genius? Let’s skip it all, take the money we would spend on each other, sign up for one of those no-interest financing plans, and buy an iPad!

It was exciting. It was fun. I really didn’t get to play with it too much because I was busy, busy and busier, and I was looking forward to sitting down once I graduated and really getting to know our new expensive toy.

Two days before I graduated, it disappeared. It was last seen on the kitchen counter, propped up with a recipe and an episode of Switched at Birth while I made dinner. Two mornings later, I couldn’t find it. We have all sorts of theories about its disappearance, but all evidence leads towards something so dumb I can’t even fathom it – in a fit of supreme cleaning madness before my family arrived, we accidentally threw it into the garbage.

Seriously. We are the dumbest humans alive.

Fast forward three+ months. We are faced with one ailing laptop (mine), one 10 year old desktop (his), a little extra cash, and that damn no-interest financing card.

Hello, iMac.

Our first family computer. How adorable. I use Firefox and he uses Chrome. Our music has been reunited.

The Boy’s comment:

“Well, at least we can’t throw it out.”

24 Sep 2012

2012: week thirty-eight

September 16 – September 22

On Monday, I started Whole30 off right by eating 5 eggs in one day. Is this healthy? I don’t know, but I’ve been eating at least 3, sometimes 5 or 6, every day for two or three years. I am still standing. However, I have also not been to the doctor in just as long, so perhaps my cholesterol could use a check-up.

On Tuesday, it rained and we made an exciting after-work trip to the Chestnut Hill Mall. After being suckered in by free samples, The Boy was sugar-bombed at Teavana, setting back his Whole30 by a day. Who just makes tea with sugar without asking? Shame on you, Teavana!

On Wednesday, I had my first little departmental staff meeting and first on the agenda was a ritual-like sharing of What Everyone Is Reading. I like my job.

On Thursday, I ran 2.75 miles, my longest run in months. Only .3 miles (and 7 days…) away from that 5k!

On Friday, I think I just played Skyrim all night long. I can’t remember.

On Saturday, I attempted to make homemade mayo (don’t ask), made deviled eggs (with pseudo-mayo), and flooded my bathroom before noon! Yippee! Then I went to my friend’s new SWANKY apartment and was quite jealous. Like, I want to move in next door. East Boston, here I come?

And I forgot a picture, so here is a treat: Baby Peach. Collective awwww…



  • Stomached that second episode of Breaking Bad again… this time I’ll persevere on to the third episode.
  • Lots of Louie! I love this show, and I can’t believe it only has 3 stars on Netflix. What is America’s PROBLEM?
  • Watched Our Idiot Brother on On Demand… what a good movie! Just up my alley, and with all my favorite actors. And Rashida Jones and Zooey Deschanel making out.
23 Sep 2012

library card exhibitionist

Every day or so, a book appears on the hold shelf for me.

Every day or so, I take that book off the hold shelf and put it in my office to check out later.

Because I cannot physically carry home the amount of books I put on hold.

This is a cycle that will never end.

This is my drawer of shame.

Checked Out

  1. Apartment Therapy’s Big Book of Small, Cool Spaces by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan
  2. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
  3. Marriage Rules by Harriet Lerner
  4. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
  5. Midnight in Paris
  6. The Muppets Movie
  7. Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass: The Story Behind an American Friendship by Russell Freedman
  8. Domino Book of Decorating by Deborah Needleman
  9. The Book of Mormon Girl by Joanna Brooks
  10. The Bottomless Belly Button by Dash Shaw
  11. Design*Sponge at Home by Grace Bonney
  12. Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield
  13. Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach
  14. Dying to Know You by Aidan Chambers
  15. How Fiction Works by James Wood
  16. Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
  17. Penelope by Rebecca Harrington
  18. This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
  19. The Five Love Languages by Gary D. Chapman
  20. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max
  21. I Thought It Was Just Me by Brene Brown
  22. The Impostor’s Daughter by Laurie Sandell
  23. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
  24. The New Rules of Marriage by Terrence Real
  25. Signed by Zelda by Kate Feiffer
  26. This is not a Test by Courtney Summers
  27. Confessions of an Introvert: The Shy Girl’s Guide to Career, Networking and Getting the Most Out of Life by Meghan Wier
  28. Fifty Shades Darker by E L James (judge away)
  29. MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche

On Hold

  1. Daring Greatly:How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown
  2. The Future of Us by Jay Asher
  3. Happy Endings, Season One
  4. Jeff Who Lives at Home
  5. My Teenage Dream Ended by Farrah Abraham
  6. Titanic
  7. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray – audio
  8. Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos – audio
  9. Every Day by David Levithan
  10. Sharpen Your Hells: Mrs. Moneypenny’s Career Advice for Ambitious Women
  11. A Wrinkle in Time Graphic Novel by Hope Larson
  12. Young House Love by Sherry Petersik
  13. 2012 Olympics: USA Women’s Gymnastics (I didn’t have cable!!)
  14. The House That Groaned by Karrie Fransman
  15. Live Through This by Mindi Scott
  16. No Crystal Stair by Vaunda Michaeux Nelson
  17. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
  18. Off Balance: A Memoir by Dominique Moceanu
  19. The Dinner by Herman Koch
  20. Dare Me by Megan Abbott
  21. Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin
  22. It Starts With Food by Dallas Hartwig
  23. The Little Book of Talent by Daniel Coyle
  24. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
  25. Motherland by Amy Sohn
  26. You’re Not Doing It Right by Michael Ian Black
  27. Mad Men Season 5
  28. God Bless America
  29. Shameless Season 2
  30. Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer
  31. The Wire Season 1
  32. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
  33. Wanderlust
  34. How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
  35. The Artist
  36. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
  37. The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling
  38. The Hunger Games
  39. Cabin in the Woods
  40. The Five-Year Engagement
  41. Marvel’s The Avengers
  42. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
22 Sep 2012

bad dreams, new year’s resolutions, and trash

A few weeks ago, I had a dream that I ran five miles. This might seem like a long, boring, unpleasant way to spend your sleeping hours. But trust me, running dreams are pretty fun. Dream running is easy, it’s fast, and you usually are doing something strange like running barefoot or running from the law or running because my car broke down and it seems like the next logical mode of transportation.

Running dreams, however, are bittersweet. They usually mean I’m not doing enough awake-running. So when one of my favorite friends proposed a 5k, I said yes in a heartbeat!

Okay fine, I said “maybe” then I willfully forgot about it, then I said “ehhhh” and then I put it off for a few more days, and then earlier this week, I finally signed up… to run a 5k on September 30th. Gulp.

This is my first 5k! It is also September and one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to run not one but TWO 5ks… so it’s about time I get on that, huh?

This 5k is in support of Safe Passage, a non-profit that supports Guatemalan children that live around the capital city’s largest garbage dump. If you are wondering what exactly that sort of childhood entails, you might pick up Andy Mulligan’s Trash. I read this book for a class and while it largely a bit of a heist-adventure story, Mulligan captures the impoverished setting with alarming, deliberate detail, lens so closely focused on the unbelievable details of the characters’ everyday existence in extreme poverty that it feels downright dystopian, like some unnamed force has destroyed society, leaving poor families and children to sort through the trash of the upper class. Spoiler alert: it’s not science fiction. Mulligan based Trash on his time visiting the slums of Manila, on this planet, in this generation, and organizations like Safe Passage work to help these present-day, real-live children attend school by providing school supplies, uniforms, and other support.

So, if you are the kind of person who likes to throw 5 dollars into a random charity that you come across (like I am), please consider throwing your 5 dollars toward my 5k efforts. Here is my fundraising page. I would love to be able to donate a hundred dollars or so, if I can! It will help me run faster, I think. Maybe not as fast as in my dreams… but maybe it will help me crack an 11-minute mile. Or take two walking breaks instead of three. This is going to be a feat of true athleticism, people, one I have been training for slowly but surely for more than two years. If you are awake at 8:00 a.m. EST next Sunday, then cheer me on from afar!

21 Sep 2012

notes from the job hunt, vol. 4 – the end

Between March and July, I applied for 43 jobs. I applied for part-time and full-time positions, children’s librarian positions, teen librarian positions, school librarian positions, and academic librarian positions. I applied for editorial assistant positions, academic advising positions, and administrative assistant positions. I applied for jobs in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Chicago and elsewhere. Jobs I thought I was qualified for, jobs I didn’t. Jobs that paid a good amount of money, jobs that paid nearly nothing.

I was considered for 7 professional positions over three months. I interviewed face-to-face for two public librarian positions in suburban Connecticut and one in southern Massachusetts. I had a Skype interview for a big-deal fellowship and did an all-day campus interview at an academically ridiculous boarding school. I had a phone interview or two.

I rented my first car and drove 3+ hrs away by myself for an interview. I bought a suit jacket. I turned down a job offer that didn’t seem like a good fit. I cancelled an interview at the last minute because I got a better offer.  I still managed to show up to two different jobs every week while all this was going on. I still do not have a smartphone. It’s been a bit of a ride.

Some generic words of wisdom. I think what helped me get a job was working hard for a number of years, filling up my resume diligently with stuff I actually wanted to do that would be useful for my career. It wasn’t always easy to execute, requiring sacrifice and time management and all the other bullshit I complain about in every other post for the past 700 posts. But after I sat around for almost a week, fretting about whether or not I would accept an internship or take on another job, I decided that I was tired of fretting and I was just going to say “yes” and figure out the rest later. I remembered this again and again as different opportunities came up – just say yes.

Every internship and job and other opportunity I pursued was because I wanted to, because I thought it would be fun, because I thought it would be a good way to spend 10-20 hours a week. Maybe this was a luxury, but if you can overload yourself with professional stuff you like to do rather than watching Netflix, you should probably do that.

In terms of applying, I knew that I would be anxious and stress about every.single.application. So I decided to just apply for everything, that way I would constantly be applying for something new instead of stressing about any that were pending, if I got a rejection there would always be another iron in the fire, and it just all became a somewhat annoying painful lifestyle instead of a million personal affronts. I’m not sure that I would recommend applying for as many as I did – yes, the cover letters you breeze through will suffer for it. However, I managed to get interviews for cover letters both mass produced and individually crafted, so there’s that.

One tip that helped me immensely with my last few interviews was bestowed upon me by my darlingest of roommates who is a notoriously amazing interviewee. After so many interviews that were good-but-not-great, many of which had led to “no’s,” I needed help. She was a bit flummoxed, though. She said something like, “I don’t know what to tell you… I just tell them that I’ve been working hard for three years or more to have a position like this and that you would be happy to take the job if offered.” That was the key that unlocked something in my brain – I could see how at all my previous interviews, I’d vacillated between dangerous bravado and unnecessary humility. Either I was a cocky rockstar, too cool to work for your library, or I didn’t give myself the credit I deserved; neither attitude inspires confidence in an interviewer. The solution: just tell them you’ve been working hard for three years and that you’d be happy to take the job. I did both of those things at my next interview and got hired.

So, that is how I got a library job after grad school. The end. It is comforting to think about how this is the only job hunt that will feel quite like this one. I will never be a new grad again. I will likely be looking for a new job while currently employed, or have some sort of defining criteria (location, salary requirements, etc), and from here on out I will have at least this little bit of full time experience to rely on. Thanks for everyone’s support and thanks – it was cathartic to come to this space and try to parse out how this job hunt was going and how I was feeling and whether I was going in the right direction. and thanks for reading along.

Notes from the Job Hunt – Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3

20 Sep 2012

2012 Cybils Awards

My desperate, nonsensical prayers that SOMEBODY JUST TELL ME WHAT TO READ ALREADY PLEASE… have been granted.

I am serving on Round #1 of the Middle Grade and YA Nonfiction committee for this year’s Cybils Awards! I am excited because nonfiction is my (not so) secret love. I am also excited because this is my first awards committee. Except for the awards committee of one that I conduct every December when for some reason deciding what the best books I’ve read all year becomes insanely important. I do not count this because this is not an awards committee, but the acts of a crazy person. I am also excited because I suspect that by January, I will be a genius, having read so much nonfiction and all. I will likely be able to beat you at Trivial Pursuit for the next 5 years.

Cheers to an exciting few months of reading!

19 Sep 2012

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

Rebecca Stead, who are you? Where did you come from? You are the Middle-Grade Whisperer, the master of the quiet-yet-somehow-filled-with-tension chapter book, the Patron Saint of urban children.

I loved When You Reach me and I loved Liar & Spy. Georges is similar to When You Reach Me‘s Miranda – sensitive, observant, New Yorker mired in the social horrors that arise during that tender time that between childhood and the teen age. Georges has lost his close friend to a crowd of popular bullies and lost his house with a customized lofted bed made from a real fire escape. His parents move him into an apartment building in his Brooklyn neighborhood and he meets a family of mildly-eccentric homeschoolers, two of whom run various espionage operations around the building. There’s no supernatural mystery in this story, but Georges slowly realizes that nothing in his new life – his friends, his classmates, his family – is quite what it seems. Details unravel at a quickening pace, lies are revealed, and the pages will flip by before you know it.

I may have almost cried when this book ended. Maybe.

Liar & Spy is getting a bit of awards-season buzz, but I’m not sure it will be get as much attention as When You Reach Me – it’s not quite as complex, as intertextual, as fresh, as historical. But what Stead does here, again, is show off her seemingly growing talent in portraying the heartbreaks of childhood without resorting to tragic shock story lines; in capturing the everyday problems of her sympathetic characters, she does so much more. I wish you could bottle up a little bit of Stead and sprinkle it on every children’s book. This book may have turned me into a bonafide fangirl.