Friday, December 20, 2013

So that's what they call my lifestyle?

I have a weakness for books about fashion and about minimalism, especially ones with quirky illustrations. Last weekend, I was reading Savvy Chic, by Anna Johnson, who wrote that book claiming your only needed three black skirts, and there was a section entitled Miracle Money Free Days, where I happened upon this passage:
DAY OF THE BRAINIACS: Read one whole novel (or novella) in a day. You have twelve hours to finish an entire book from cover to cover. Read it at the breakfast table, read in bed, read in the bath, read on the lawn, read of the bus, read at the pool, read on the couch, read on the exercise bike. When you turn the last page, write down all the impressions that rush to mind and then welcome yourself back to the world of nonfiction. 
...aside from the locations and the scale (just one book!), she pretty much describes any day I'm not at school, or at a meeting...I'll have five such uninterrupted days before I leave for our winter vacation, and I'm almost looking forward to those as much as the trip.

Happy holidays, and lots of Days of the Brainiacs to you all.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Letting go, or not

I subscribed to Audiofile to prepare myself for my Odyssey Award service, and in my second issue (December 2013/January 2014) found an article entitled, "Listening with Your Odyssey Ears." It was an interview with Ellen Spring, the 2014 chair. I found the article interesting -- it alerted me to the existence of the award manual, for example. But perhaps most interesting was the phrasing of one of the interview questions, I suppose from Priscilla Grant, the article author, "What keeps you serving on ALA committees?"

Spring's answers are similar to my own -- it's fun and rewarding! And I know in a lot of professional settings, that sort of participation is expected. But I guess I am beginning to seriously question why I devote so much time and money (and I've never had any financial support for library conference, except for being able to take off from work, which sometimes seems like ample support enough) to trying to buoy things along, when I could use the money for cosmetic surgery or capital investments of some sort or another.

I've noticed, ever since my first professional committee involvement, that some people agree to be on committees and then don't do much. Or anything, really, in the most egregious cases. Maybe committee membership is how they get institutional funding for their conference-going. But why would you return that acceptance form, or even submit a volunteer form, if you really didn't have the time to devote? Some organizations and divisions seem to have more of an issue with this than others, but the reality is that every position these inactive members are occupying could potentially go to someone more engaged with the work. Some people complain that a handful of individuals dominate professional organizations, but frankly, I prefer that to no-shows.

I am on one committee now, not an ALA committee, chaired by someone who hasn't done anything much towards the group mission, but she has some good members who pick up the slack. And guess who's running for president of that organization this next year? The do-nothing chair.



I'm not sure why this makes me so mad. After all, getting other people to do everything is a skill in itself. Heaven knows I wish I was better at delegating, letting go, and not worrying about every little thing. But I do predict the do-nothing chair will continue on in this same way and, if elected, other people will be pressed into service. I personally may have to do some fancy dancing to avoid it, but I see it coming from a mile away... 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Go Pope Francis, go!

When I visited my good friends in Vermont last month, we talked a lot about the abysmal political climate, polarization of American society, and the possibility of class warfare. In this crowd, I was the optimist, arguing that the pendulum was moving backwards, with the same voters who made the last Congressional elections essentially a referendum on the president might be so fed-up, post-shutdown, that they might actually try to help other people -- you know, the ones outside their social media circles. My friends, less optimistic, urged me to look into growing my own food.

But there have been some happy signs, of late:

Americans might be as compassionate as the Danes, if stories surrounding social safety nets reflect realistic employment conditions. Which requires two sentences.

The New York Times ran a fascinating article on the inherent conflicts between Christian dogma (especially anti-abortion rhetoric) and meat-eating.

And then, today, Pope Francis, critic of capitalism, champion of the poor and downtrodden was chosen Time's Person of the Year. I am not a Catholic, but goodness, he makes me almost want to convert. Especially if I could keep my birth control.



Well, how did I get so political all-of-the-sudden? Well, I found my mantra when the president of the Mississippi ACLU told my NEH seminar group last summer: "I might be just to the right of Mao Zedong, but I learned my politics in Sunday school."

What I don't understand is why more people DON'T.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Best books of 2013

It's that time of year again. Not just things published in 2013, but things I happened to read in 2013. In no particular order, either.

Real stories












The bomb: the race to build and steal the world's most dangerous weapon (2012) by Steve Sheinkin

I almost never picked this one up, because I am a smarty-pants about World War II in general and about the creation of the atomic bomb in particular. But when it kept sweeping award after award at the YMAs, I knew I'd have to give it a whirl. This account had thrilling stories I'd never heard before (that Norwegian heavy water plant!), and the edge-of-your-seat narrative style held it all together nicely.













All made up (2011) and This is not about me (2008) by Janice Galloway

These hardscrabble memoirs from Scottish writer Galloway are fascinating reading, well apart from the usual poverty porn. The national addiction to sugar! And her sister Cora is one of the most shocking creatures I've encountered in print. And while Galloway's fiction is robust, her unflinching ability to describe her own hardships is inspiring.












She left me the gun (2013) by Emma Brockes

Journalist Brockes travels to South Africa to learn about her mother's childhood abuse at the hands of her own father. Like the Galloway, this could be dreary, but the punctuation of differences in manners and morays places it is a larger context about identity and the past.

Realism












The lonely passion of Judith Hearne (1955) by Brian Moore

Miss Hearne is a woman deeply concerned with propriety, and she is an alcoholic. Moore chronicles her descent through the rungs of  Belfast boarding houses, and what is perhaps her last chance for romance. This book is shockingly modern in its sensibilities.












A week in winter (2013) by Maeve Binchy

Giggling, because is Maeve Binchy realistic? No juvenile is too far gone for the salves of Irish rustification, evidently, and all old sins are always forgiven. The last Binchy isn't the best, but it still makes you feel better about the human condition, which was just opposite of the finding in a study that, as my husband says, did not report what it claimed to report.

Suspense















A bit of singing and dancing (1973) and The small hand and Dolly (2013) by Susan Hill

I'd had Howard's End is on the Landing on my Amazon wish list for ages, but it was just coincidental that I happened into The Woman in Black in the West End this March, since I had been nonplussed by that Johnny Depp flick. Lucky me, to discover the work of Susan Hill, in the middle of a screaming audience. her world is thoughtful, well-drawn, and just a smidge creepy. I'm quite obsessed now, though I can't get into the Simon Serralier books, not being a procedural fan. But for Hill, I tried.















Scowler (2013) and Rotters (2011) by Daniel Kraus

I would call Kraus a complement to the dark and suspenseful Susan Hill, but if anything his writing is even a little more robust, having a wonderful middle American muscularity to it. Describing either book is difficult, but they are such extraordinary experiences, I can't say enough good things about them.  And the sense of PLACE is extraordinary in this rapidly homogenizing world, too.












Past imperfect (2009) by Julian Fellowes

I'm not sure how I didn't buy this when it was new -- I was well into Snobs before Downton, after all. Past Imperfect has a lovely story arc surrounding an uncertain paternity that frames the contrasting looking backwards but living now zeitgeist to capture a very specific moment in twentieth-century time.












The silent wife (2013) by A.S.A. Harrison

This was described as Gone Girl readalike, but that's selling it short. Again, very time-and-place-driven (contemporary Chicago this time). The wife is wronged, and bent on revenge, but handles it in a more realistic matter, and with a just slightly more believable conclusion. Also, many pages fewer than the lugubrious Flynn.












Stranded (2012) by Emily Barr

This books is alternately told between flashbacks to a child growing up in a religious cult and an adult woman taking her first solo adventure of a vacation with her ex and child at a great remote. The plot ends up going places only the inventive Barr could go, and it is really thrilling when everything comes back together.












Where'd you go, Bernadette? (2012) by Maria Semple

I found the twee voice of little Bee so off-putting, it was difficult to get into this novel at first...but again, Alex designation pulled me back. Somehow, out of the supposed mess of Bernadette's life and abandoned career, the balancing act contained within this novel makes you understand more about life, parenthood, and the Pacific Northwest. 

New adult(ish) 

Is New Adult simply YA with more sex? Or is it just to make grown-up women feel better about having grown past all this? I'm not so sure, but I think both of these could be squished into that category.













Little fish: a memoir from a different kind of year (2013) by Ramsey Beyer

There is one word on one page of this book which gave me pause about including it in a teen collection, but I think the terror and excitement of venturing out into the world is so universal, I thought it might forewarn some of our college-bound darlings about the very predictable patterns of leaving home. And the art is especially charming.












Fangirl (2013) by Rainbow Rowell

I read all three Rowell books this year, and this was my clear favorite. It seems like Rowell knew about Eleanor and Park, but she knew Cath in an entirely different, and less idealized, way. I found Cath's romantic escapades utterly believable, as was the spectrum of students in Lincoln (another vividly-rendered place, as was their Omaha). It took me a while to get through it, mostly because I was jealous of everyone else who got an ARC, and I was a little scared the fandom would dominate the novel rather completely, but it was a delight.

Young adult












If you find me (2013) by Emily Murdoch

Two girls, raising themselves in a camper in the woods, hiding from their father. But maybe he's not the monster their mother made out...and life outside the woods, among peers? Even harder, in some ways. A couple of adult readers I know said they "saw" the conclusion coming, but I haven't recommended it to a teen who hasn't loved it. The voice is right up there with Woodrell, I think.












If you could be mine (2013) by Sara Farizan

Forbidden love in Iran? And who knew that gender reassignment was state-supported there? This book is brave and normalizes life in a very different place. A stunning debut.












The fifth wave (2013) by Rick Yancey

I'm not sure if it's the perfect embodiment of paranoia, or the post-apocalyptic landscape, but this one taps right into my own worries as well as my teens'. It's a perfect stand-alone, and a great follow-up read for the current dystopian craze.

So, trends: more grown-up books (perhaps I'm front-loading, since I'll be listening to more kidlit for the Odyssey, which as a YALSA/ALSC joint award spans the whole age range), more nonfiction (especially memoirs), more suspense and/or horror, a just a touch of new adult (though I really think that is all marketing and less a real shift in writing style).

And, as I watch the year-end lists (my favorite being NPR's rather inclusive one), I am surprised by the recurrences of things I just didn't like (e.g. The Interestings, which was a DNF for me...) I'm glad we all have different tastes.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

ALAN, and AASL, actually

I just came back from my fifth consecutive ALAN conference. The first time I attended, I wrote about it for the AASL Blog, and most of what I said in 2009 still holds:
ALAN, the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English, just concluded its annual workshop in Philadelphia, but media specialists interested in young adult literature should mark their calender for next year’s conference in Orlando and consider some of the many opportunities for participating in this vibrant organization in the mean time.
This year more than sixty YA authors — ranging from some of the industry’s established luminaries to up-and-coming writers — spoke over the two-day ALAN event. Autograph hounds will particularly appreciate the ample opportunities to collect inscriptions during “silent signings” simultaneous with readings and presentations. Dozens of copies of recent and forthcoming books were generously provided by publishers.
Annual ALAN membership, included with conference registration, is only $20 a year for individuals and includes a subscription to the ALAN Review journal. The journal’s editors are interested in practitioner contributions for the ALAN Review‘s new “Stories from the Field” feature, designed to share anecdotes about teaching and learning through literature, told in 300-words-or-less stories.
ALAN also sponsors the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award. This year’s award winner was Steven Kluger for his quirky My Most Excellent Year. The Walden award panel includes a dedicated position for a school librarian.
For school librarians interested in attending next year’s ALAN workshop (which piggybacks off the NCTE conference the weekend before Thanksgiving), theGallo Grant provides $500 in funding for first-time attendees to defray the cost of registration and travel. The application for funding is due September 1.
The rumor is that next year ALAN and NCTE will both be in the D.C. suburbs. I'd be loathe to miss it, it's the best reader's advisory update I know. It was especially fun to see some of my high school librarian colleagues, attending for the first time, responding to the general madness of the workshop.

As I'm working on planning our Alabama Library Association conferences for the next two years, I've been thinking A LOT about how to structure a great learning and netowrking experience. I was really pleased with a lot of the wrinkles at this year's AASL in Hartford, too -- informal events in the evening, in particular, which I know I would have loved having as an option as a first-timer. I actually was able to go to all seven concurrent sessions at AASL, but there were ample other opportunities as an outgrowth of the formal learning. The e-collab access cans session for just-in-time access after the event, and the Learning Commons space provided a less-structured place to share. Every time I passed the Commons, I saw people I knew talking. I think it's those conversations that keep people coming back. I'm already looking forward to the ALA Midwinter meeting. Stay tuned for more news on the USBBY event there, too.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A nod, an homage -- or, I mention Vogue again

I gasped when I saw the cover of this month's Vogue

 
Yes, it's Leighton's Flaming June, reimagined.
 
 
I love it.
 

 


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

AASL2013: l'embarras du choix

I didn't get around to perusing the concurrent sessions for the biennial AASL conference until last week, but I was sort of blown away by the breadth of the offerings. And the Authors Strand! Thanks for that, AASL. And, since I'm not presenting this time, I'll get to really enjoy myself and learn lots from my talented colleagues. Do say hi if you see me in Hartford.



I tend to make my decisions based on speakers, or projects I find interesting, but there are some hours this week where I wish I could split myself into two (or three!). For those of you, especially the first-timers, who want to be sure to catch some good sessions, these are my personal recommendations:



AASL 2013 Best Apps for Teaching and Learning (F1-MD)


The integration of mobile technology into everyday life is rapidly changing the way people function and work in the world. Ultimately, this transformation is creating a dramatically larger digital divide. Educators must seize this moment as an opportunity to engage students with developing technologies and to guide students in the use of apps and mobile technology to inquire, think critically, and gain knowledge. Join AASL Best Apps for Teaching and Learning Committee.


Presenter(s): Melissa Jacobs-Isreal, Melissa Johnston, Laura Warren-Gross, Terry Young, Tiffany Whitehead, Jennifer Helfrich, Sue Bartle,Cathy Potter


What Does the Research Say? (F1-R27)

ESLS-juried papers to be presented include: School Libraries as Innovative Spaces: Stimulating Student Creativity and Inventive Thinking; College Research: What Can We Learn from First-Year College Assignments; School Librarians’ Experience with Evidence-Based Library and Information Practices; and Can a First Year School Librarian Be a Technology Leader? 


Presenter(s): Ruth V. Small, Jean Donham, Jennifer Richey, Maria Cahill, Marcia A. Mardis, Nancy Everhart,  

Presenting Social Issues in Teen Literature (F2-MC)

An award-winning panel of YA authors will discuss the process they use in researching and presenting contemporary social issues to their readers.

Presenter(s): Cheryl Karp Ward, David Levithan, Eliot Schrefer, Patricia McCormick, Lyn Miller-Lachmann,

 What Do I Do If?: Intellectual Freedom Dilemmas in School Libraries (F2-R15)

The principles of intellectual freedom may be crystal clear, but often the situations school librarians face in applying them are not. In a round-robin format, participants will discuss real-life, gray-area dilemmas involving self-censorship, viewpoint discrimination in Internet filtering, e-books and users’ rights, and navigating challenges to resources containing controversial ideas. Attendees will learn how to create a PLN to help them protect students' First Amendment and privacy rights in school libraries.

Presenter(s): Helen R. Adams, Annalisa Keuler

A Library in Every Pocket: Virtualizing for Mobile Learning (F3-MD)

Schools’ turning to mobile learning is a matter of “when,” not “if.” Will school libraries be ready? Information technology presents school librarians with an opportunity to aid the transition to mobile learning. Facilitators will highlight strategies to virtualize library services for tiny screens. Participants will practice using tools for building virtual, handheld libraries, and will leave with a toolkit to expand virtual library services.

Presenter(s): Michelle Luhtala, Shannon Miller, Gwyneth Jones, Brenda Boyer, Tiffany Whitehead, 


Breathing New Life into Book Programming with Technology (F3-R23)

Through the use of free technology tools, school librarians can get students and patrons excited about reading and sharing what they read. Attendees will learn how to promote library materials, encourage book discussions, and teach kids and teens how to take their reading and sharing experiences beyond book reports and basic reviews.

Presenter(s): Sarah Ludwig

Confronting the Elephant in the Room: Social-Media Policies for a 21st-Century School (F3-R22)

In an era of learning with mobile devices, social networks, and digital media, it is time to rethink acceptable-use policies. Attendees will learn approaches to creating social-media policies and guidelines that address behaviors rather than technologies, and student learning rather than student shielding. Presenters will provide examples of best practices and results of current research that supports a more-nuanced approach to social media in schools.

Presenter(s): Frances Harris, Megan Cusick​

Teaching the Holocaust through the Art of Survivor Miriam Brysk (F3-R17)

For educators faced with the challenge of teaching today's learners about the Holocaust, the inclusion of artwork offers a powerful means to enhance literary and historical study. A diverse twosome of a school librarian and, more importantly, an artist/Holocaust survivor, will share traditional and online lesson materials. Attendees will discover how they can enrich existing curriculum with instructional resources that are aligned to standards and replicable. Miriam Brysk, Professor (retired) will join session remotely

Presenter(s):  Margaret Lincoln, Miriam Brysk

 A Collaborative Partnership that Works: How Limitless Libraries have Transformed Nashville School Libraries (F4-R27)

Limitless Libraries, a partnership program between Metro Nashville Public Schools and Nashville Public Libraries, began in 2009 and has taken the city by storm. Limitless Libraries is centered on getting the best possible material to the students of Nashville. With two major aspects: collection development for school libraries and delivery of public library materials to schools, the program is reaching over 24,000 students. The program also just completed a study with Keith Curry Lance investigating student achievement and usage of Limitless Libraries. Results will be shared.

Presenter(s):  Stephanie Ham,  Allison Barney


Bookmapping: Literature, Reading, and Interactive Maps (GPS Is Optional) (F4-C1-2)

Attendees will learn how using interactive mapping tools, such as Google Maps and Google Earth, can support reading instruction, literacy, standards, and reading in the content areas. What were once advanced GIS (geographic information system) technologies can now easily be applied as educational reading activities. These are not concept, story, or plot maps; instead this is a method to display geography content though mapping tools as students create interactive maps to link geography with their reading.

Presenter(s): Terence Cavanaugh 

Create a Virtual Learning Commons: Move to the Center of Teaching and Learning (F4-R25) 

Let's face it: The school library website as a one-way stream of information has limited usefulness and appeal for 21st-century students. For four years, students at San Jose State University have been developing a giant collaborative virtual space that allows the entire school community to grow, build, learn, create, and experiment together. In this session, participants will download a free Google template that can instantly be used as a giant learning space for a school.

Presenter(s): David Loertscher 

Developing the Creativity in Every Learner (F4-ME)

How do educators define, encourage, use, and assess creativity in IL/IT lessons and projects? Should the question be "whether" a student is creative or "how" a student is creative? And what can teachers and school librarians do to be more creative? The presenter of this session will help attendees answer these and other questions.

Presenter(s):  Doug Johnson 

PLUS Tech: Put "Game" in Your Professional Development (F4-R27)

PLUS Tech is an online professional-development program developed by the Chicago Public Schools Dept. of Libraries. It features online training on various technologies that are standards-aligned, safe, and free or low-cost. Gaming elements, such as a leader board, points, and prizes motivate participation. Digital badging provides additional professional recognition and integration with teacher evaluation; professional-development tracking systems ensure relevance. Attendees will learn about this program, which is highly adaptable to other schools and districts.

Presenter(s):  Lisa Perez 

Arts 2.0: Arts, Libraries, and Technology (S1-R23)   

In this session, focusing on how the arts (drama, music, visual art, and more) can be integrated into the school library program, participants will engage with activities and ideas. Web tools as well as mobile apps will also be introduced to accompany these artistic endeavors. Attendees will write, draw, interact, and more. BYOD for the full experience.

Presenter(s):  Heather Moorefield-Lang 

Be Visible! Advocate for Your Library at a School Board Meeting! (S1-R27)

One of the most powerful advocacy weapons librarians possess is the creation of a presence at school board meetings. A school board presentation is the perfect vehicle for delivering an evidenced-based message that links properly funded library programs, staffed by certified school librarians, and student achievement. Use our advocacy techniques to visibly showcase your impact on student achievement and the Common Core State Standards.

Presenter(s): Rose Luna, Sara Kelly Johns,  Margaux DelGuidice 

Confronting the Data Dragon: Helping Students Become Data Savvy (S1-R17)

The digital world gives scientists, politicians, educators, policy makers, citizens, and students unprecedented access to raw data. But access is not knowledge, and display is not understanding. Making sense of data requires multiple literacies—but many school librarians are novices at evaluating and using data. As a group, attendees will engage in ways to process, mashup, chunk, and visualize data, taming the dragon!

Presenter(s):  Kristin Fontichiaro, Debbie Abilock

School Library Maker Space (S1-MA)

The maker space concept will be explained and implementation guidance provided. Hands-on experiences and shared ideas will enable participants to walk away inspired with ways to create an affordable, realistic maker space—project ideas they can immediately understand, get excited about, adapt as needed, and implement right away.

Presenter(s):  Leslie Preddy

Be Essential—And Convince Others that You Are (S2-R22) 

The information and technology needs of today's teachers and students are increasing in the digital world, and school librarians play an essential role in meeting those needs. Although the impact of today's school librarians on student learning is evident to those closest to the field, librarians must be prepared to advocate for their programs. This interactive session will include practical steps to build knowledge, collaboration and communicate the value of school library programs.

Presenter(s):  Dawn Nelson, Sally Mays 

Ditching Dewey: Genrefication in Your Library (S2-R25) 

Many school librarians are starting to take the plunge and move away from the traditional Dewey Decimal System to a more student-centered arrangement or a bookstore model based on genres. Five school librarians who made the switch will share their amazing gains in student satisfaction, circulation, and overall usage. Attendees will hear details of making the move away from Dewey and have an opportunity to ask questions of librarians who have successfully made the transition.

Presenter(s): Tiffany Whitehead, Megan Scott, Shannon Miller, Sherry Gick, Kathy Burnette 

The Other Side of Dark: The World of Young Adult Dystopian Literature (S2-R24) 

Young adult dystopian literature has increased in popularity and publication over the past ten years.  By discussing the development of young adult dystopian fiction, and reporting on common elements and trends, the presenters will share insights to this recent phenomenon. Top books from the past decade will be identified, and new titles and series will be presented. Participants will receive a bibliography of the latest dystopian titles, as well as a list of award winners.

Presenter(s): Linda Gann, Karen Gavigan 

Using Wordle for Survey Analysis (S2-R26) 

Often researchers ask open-ended questions in surveys and, as a result, can receive valuable feedback from constituents about the library program. The challenge can be identifying and organizing the themes and threads if the comment set is large. If those comments are imported into Wordle, a quick analysis of the major themes and threads appears in an infographic that can be used for strategic planning and advocacy.

Presenter(s):  Linda Swarlis

Adult Books for Teen Readers (S3-MC) 

As school librarians well know, teen reading interests wander far beyond young adult literature. This program features authors who have written books published for the adult market but that have proven teen appeal.

Presenter(s):
Angela Carstensen, Kimberly McCreight, Laura Harrington, Lev Grossman,  Brooke Hauser 

Heard Any Good Books Lately? (S3-R26) 

They're not your grandmother's audiobooks anymore! Most new YA titles—and quite a few old favorites—are being released as audiobooks, narrated by outstanding vocal talents. Attendees will learn why listening to an audiobook can be a valid alternative to reading; be guided (by a member of recent Odyssey and Audie committees) to some outstanding titles and narrators; and experience what it's like to judge an audiobook production.

Presenter(s): Catherine Andronik

Playing the Core: Tabletop Games and Design for Student Growth and Learning (S3-R13) 

Presenters will lead an interactive workshop that explores the role that tabletop games and game design play in supporting today's educational needs. Some current gaming resources will be explored, along with the best methods to create successful and meaningful learning opportunities through play.

Presenter(s): Brian Mayer, Christopher Harris 

Virtual Mentoring: Building Active Online Communities that Strengthen School Library Programs
(S3-R21)

Blogs, forums, chat events, and webinars: These are just a few of the tools used in robust, online communities to engage and educate members. School librarians are rising to the challenge of advancing student achievement through the virtual world, seeking online communities to exchange ideas and expertise. This panel discussion will identify common pitfalls and best practices for creating vibrant online networks that give school librarians the tools to become virtual leaders.

Presenter(s):  Alexandra Moses,  Andrea  Christman, Christine Schein 


 

Monday, November 4, 2013

This Is What Happens When I Hear About Books

Apparently, you can't take me around a bunch of authors without me wanting to read everything they're written.
 
Read
To read
 
I have accumulated most of the books I ordered during or after USBBY. I've got Andrea Cheng's Marika, based on her mother's experience in Nazi-occupied Hungary, and Siobhan Parkinson's turn-of-the century Irish dancer story Amelia -- I've already pushed through Parkinson's Long Story Short, on Katherine Paterson's sterling recommendation. The story is gritty and quick-paced, a little more YA than MG. I'd love to do this as a read-aloud with a class, since I think there's just enough Irish-isms to require some hand-holding. I also devoured If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan. Forbidden love in Iran, an entirely new wrinkle, both interesting and stimulating 

 
It was at USBBY that I'd heard about the historical novel-in-verse, Odette's Secrets by Maryann Macdonald, and wanted to know more about the real-life story that inspired it, so I found the epic Doors to Madam Marie by Odette Meyer, which I hope to get to before the USBBY program at ALA Midwinter Meeting, where Macdonald will be speaking.

I'm still following up on some Southern Festival of Book authors, too. From Tommy Hays, a deft speaker and all-around my type of person, I have In The Family Way and The Pleasure Was Mine on deck. I've also fallen into Gabriele Zevin's Birthright series. I just wasn't into the jacket description for All These Things I've Done, but hearing Zevin read from it out loud sold me on it. I'm onto the sequel, Because It Is My Blood, now, and the third one just came out.... I also read Criminal by Terra Elan McVoy. I heard McEvoy on the same panel as Zevin. I'm not 100% comfortable on the racial aspects of that novel -- Brooklyn, Burning it's not -- but it's brave and I did enjoy it.

My husband has wondered aloud recently why I was suddenly reading "all this horror." Well, it's really much more suspense, and I was turned onto The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James after hearing Sonia Gensler rave about it at the Southern Festival, I've ordered her second book, An Inquiry Into Love and Death, too, and then I adored Susan Hill's The Small Hand and Dolly, which I'd found in a pre-Halloween spooky round-up. Both novellas were superb, and it reminded me of seeing the play based on Hill's novel The Woman in Black in the West End in March, with people in the audience shrieking all around me, an accomplishment for a two-actor play that's been running for decades. 
 
What do I still have TO READ? Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, which as the only librarian who didn't receive an ARC, I preordered, and now I have the $1.40 electronic version, so what am I going to do with this huge hardback? And Girlchild by Tupelo Hassmann, because I'd meaning to read it -- how can you not with that cover? and just now got to it. And The Freak Observer by Blanche Woolston, because I loved Black Helicopters and am now backtracking because I can't bear that cover. I really can't. And I've got The Resurrectionist by Matthew Guinn out from the public library -- more horror.