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This Is What a Librarian Looks Like: A Celebration of Libraries, Communities, and Access to Information - Kyle Cassidy

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

I recently started going to grad school to get my MLIS. I have a psychology background and am fascinated with representations of people and stereotypes and how they can hinder performance and such. One of my professors suggested this book.

This is a book of quotes and photos along with profiles and essays from various authors and library lovers including Neil GaimanGeorge R. R. Martin, and Cory Doctorow. I think this book is wonderful for those who love libraries, those who want to learn a bit more about what librarians do, and those who want to be or are working toward becoming a librarian.

Various topics are brought up such as the relevancy of libraries, how they incorporate technology, different views of librarians, and various issues that librarians face. I especially liked the sections that dealt with non-traditional circulation items such as canoes and American Girl dolls.

Because the majority of this is a book of photographs and quotes, it's not sometime that you necessarily read cover to cover in a few days. It took me over a month to read because I found it best to read a few pages of quotes at a time. It was a good way to really digest the ideas presented. Many of these ideas understandably overlapped, so reading large chunks at a time could get repetitive. It's a great book to flip through and peruse at various times.

I loved the idea of this book in breaking the stereotype of who a librarians is (a cranky old white woman who shushes people). We rationally know that there is various librarians, but many still have that stereotype at the front of their minds.

Those who have been librarians for a while or who have worked in libraries will probably already be familiar with most of the things brought up in the book (tech issues, funding), but they may also read things that resonate with them or that they can relate to.

Overall, I thought this was a good read that gave perspectives on libraries and librarians and helped change the narrative on what makes a librarian. Wonderful photographs, interesting quotes, and fascinating sections on various topics like tablet archives, library origins, and bookmobiles. This book is all things library and it is exciting to see how they have evolved and changed over time and place to meet patron needs. 

The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson, Laura Miller
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

If you're going into this novel expecting it to be like the recent Netflix series, you will most likely be disappointed. While the series is based on the house featured in the book, it is a very different story.

However, I absolutely loved it. By today's standards, this book isn't scary. It is creepy and unsettling, which is what I love most about Jackson's writing. Even when nothing is blatantly jumping out at you, her descriptions make you feel ill at ease and instantly understand how creepy it is to be inside Hill House. Her writing on the off angles that make of the house were so vivid and convincing that the narrative is very unsettling and there is such a creepy tone to the whole thing.

In terms of action, not a lot happens. The book is more focused on the characters, their various interactions, and their conflicts within themselves. This is what makes the novel so superb. It is so amazingly written and thought out. I was instantly pulled in by Eleanor's character and the oddity of the house.

While the Netflix series is very different, I did really enjoy all of the little nods to the book like character names and the memorable cup of stars.

A fantastic read for those looking for a dark, unsettling, odd, weird, creepy tale.
The Illustrated Bestiary: Guidance and Rituals from 36 Inspiring Animals - Maia Toll

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

This book is absolutely gorgeous. To be honest, I picked this up from the new books section at the library without knowing anything about it. I was just so instantly drawn to its colors and artwork. I love animals and nature so I was interested to see what it was. Then I started reading it and I was blown away.

The book goes through 36 different animals, each with a lesson to teach us. There is an introduction to what can be learned, an accompanying ritual, and a reflection exercise. And of course, each animal has its own absolutely gorgeous piece of artwork.

While I am not really one to carry out rituals, each lesson in the book gave me a lot to reflect on and learn from. I think you can go into this book from any level, those looking for a new perspective to those ready to start new practices in order to lead a more full and healthy life. Even just looking at the pictures is inspiring and an amazing experience.

The thing I enjoyed most about this book was how Toll tied together various animal facts with folklore and mythology in demonstrating what each animal has to teach. It was very interesting to see all of the different beliefs and experience some of the true wonder of the animal kingdom.

The book also includes 36 oracle cards that feature each of the animals with their lovely artwork. I was lucky enough to be one of the first people who checked out this book from the library so all of the cards are still with it. They are beautiful and I can see how they would be beneficial to doing some of the practices in the book. Great addition to make the lessons more accessible.

Gorgeous book with much to teach. I am already looking forward to reading The Illustrated Herbiary: Guidance and Rituals from 36 Bewitching Botanicals.

Secrets of the Dragon Tomb - Patrick Samphire
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

This is quite an impressive book, especially for a first novel.

I found this in the Little Free Library and was instantly pulled in by the amazing cover art. Once I started reading, I was also pleased to see the fantastic artwork continued throughout the book. They were all gorgeous to look at and really added to the aesthetic of the book.

This story is such am amazing mash-up of steampunk, dragons, spies, and dinosaurs. Oh, yeah, and it all takes place on Mars. A very unique combination that works well. The story itself is a fairly standard one in terms of Indian Jones-style adventure stories, however the main character, Edward Sullivan, a twelve-year-old who loves such adventure and spy stories, adds a new twist in being thrown into a world that he has always dreamed of and finding it's quite different in real life.

Such a fantastic story of adventure, family, and growth. I loved the characters and the settings and really enjoyed watching the characters connect and mature as the novel progressed. This is the first book in the series. It wraps up nicely at the end and feels fully-contained, but also makes the reader want to continue the adventure. I am always slightly disappointed by books that end on such a cliff hanger that it seems like it isn't even a full story. This one has a good balance and sets up the next book nicely.

A spectacular read that I really enjoyed. I will definitely be reading the second book in this series.
You Don't Look Like a Librarian: Shattering Stereotypes and Creating Positive New Images in the Internet Age - Ruth Kneale
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

I am currently pursuing an MLIS degree and am writing a paper on gender stereotypes and librarians for one of my classes. This book looked perfect for a little light research so I got a copy from the library (of course).

Overall, this book was well-written. It is very casual, which makes for easy, conversational reading. The book is broken down into sections touching on various stereotypes, representations in pop culture, blurbs about various librarians and how they battle the stereotype, and some "thoughts on the future".

The information provided in the book was interesting and useful, plus it was a quick read which is always nice. There were a lot of great recommendations for comics and books featuring librarians, which I immediately added to my TBR list.

The only downside to the book is that it is dated. It came out in 2009 and some things have changed in the past ten years. Sadly, maybe not so much in the stereotype department, but definitely in the pop culture department. Many of the references are out of date and are no longer updated. However, the book does have a corresponding website (which still works!- www.librarian-image.net/book) that features the references and links to pages. It's actually a very clever way of updating information and beautifully mirrors the shift of libraries from book-based information to web- and multimedia-based information, but I digress.

Anyway, overall I liked the book. It was a nice look at some of the perceptions of librarians as well as some ways people in the profession work to counter the stereotypes (which was perfect for my paper).

The book also contains some of Kneale's survey findings of patron perception and librarian beliefs, which was interesting.
The Barking Ghost - R.L. Stine
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

This book started off with a really promising idea. There was enough weird stuff going on that I was pretty interested in how things would turn out. The book does get pretty repetitive with many supposedly suspenseful moments turning out to be nothing at all (how many times are you going to get scared by bunnies and leaves, Cooper?).

I felt the story was a bit slow. Based on the title, I was pretty sure there were some ghost dogs in it, but it took forever for the main character to figure it out. Maybe not the best title if it gives away such a major plot point? Just saying.

The big twist reveal was... creative. Honestly, it was just too weird and cheesy to be satisfying. What started out so promising turned into a big joke that was more silly than scary.

I never read Goosebumps as a kid, because, like Cooper, I was a pretty fearful child. This one, however, was not very scary at all. It was a bit creepy, but the whole thing just turned out to be weird and not very satisfying. When I got to the end, I was underwhelmed and couldn't get over what a strange ending it was. Not the best Goosebumps book I've read.
Say Cheese and Die! - R.L. Stine
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

As I've said in other reviews, I was a pretty fearful child so Goosebumps books were not my jam. This is the third one I've read as an adult and it's the first one I picked that didn't turn out to be more sad that scary (Hide and ShriekPhantom of the Auditorium- I don't know why I'm always drawn to the sad ones).

The concept of a cursed camera was very cool and it was presented in a way that that was suspenseful but not gruesomely scary. I think suspenseful is a good way to describe this one. There are some creepy bits, but it's not overly scary.

Overall, the writing was good. It was simple enough for young readers and allowed for easy reading. As an adult, I flew through this in one night, probably in part because of all the cliffhangers at the end of chapters (well played, Mr. Stine).

My only comment is that I'm noticing a strange correlation in these books between homeless men and creepiness. Phantom of the Auditorium also had a "scary" homeless man. Not necessarily a critique, just an observation. I understand these are from children's points of views who may see these men as creepy, but such representations in literature aren't doing anything to counter beliefs of homelessness. This was written in the 90s so maybe the representation of homeless people wasn't such a concern, but just wanted to bring it up for modern readers.

On the whole, this was a good read. The fearful part of me liked that it used more suspense than gruesomeness and gore. While reading, I was really interested as to how it would wrap up. An explanation is provided, perhaps one that would be more satisfying to children rather than adults. It was a fine explanation, but was pretty vague and I mostly wanted more backstory than was provided. Overall though, a good suspenseful read.
Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death - Caitlin Doughty

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

This book is jaw-droppingly good.

To be frank, I had never read any of Doughty's books or even heard of them before. Then a few weeks ago, I got to see her and Landis Blair at a bookstore event and was kind of intrigued by some of the things she brought us. So I got a copy of this from the library.

From the first question, I was hooked. Doughty has such a fantastic writing style. Yes, the book is morbid and weird and at times very gross. But her style is so humorous, clever, and informational, that you can't help but be entertained while you learn.

There are a ton of truly remarkable answers to these oddly fantastic questions, ranging from vertical cemeteries, amber preservation, and blood donations from dead people. I liked how Doughty went above and beyond in answering the questions, bringing up fascinating related material instead of just giving a basic answer. There is also a great explanation of how, despite the misconception, hair and nails do not continue to grow after death (I don't know how many times I have argued about this).


Fantastic artwork as well that really ties the whole thing together. Just the right amount of creepy. 

Amazing, amazing read. I really enjoyed this and already want to read more of Doughty's books. Special thanks to my husband for listening to me spew disgusting death and corpse facts to him all weekend. He was a good sport about it, although perhaps less than willing.

Hide and Shriek - R.L. Stine, Emily James

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

I never really got into Goosebumps books when I was a kid. I was pretty much afraid of everything so it was probably for the best. Now that I'm an adult and slightly less fearful, I give these books a quick read when I stumble across them to see what I missed out on.

Overall, I thought this was a good book. Really good story with a unique premise. There is definitely some great suspense building. As an adult, I found much of the plot fairly predictable, but I think children would enjoy it. While I liked how things wrapped up at the end, I found this book as a whole more sad than scary. The bullying was kind of hard to read.

Well-written, good story, but not necessarily all that scary despite the whole hide-and-seek-ghost plotline.

Time Cat - Lloyd Alexander
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

I loved this book. A great read for cat-lovers, both children and adults.

“The only thing a cat worries about is what's happening right now. As we tell the kittens, you can only wash one paw at a time.”

Honestly, I don't think I have ever read such an accurate description of the essence of cats. This entire book was a look at cats and the various lessons they can teach. Throughout the book, the two time travelers, Gareth and Jason, travel to various times and places, usually in relationship to some aspect of cats. From the Egyptians worshiping them to the demonization of them in connection to witches, this is an interesting exploration of various perspectives on cats throughout the world.

While each section reads almost like a short story, they are nicely connected by the lessons that Jason learns along the way. There are some great messages about living life, nicely illustrated within the stories.

I also enjoyed the mixture of famous figures that pop up in the book (Leonardo da Vinci, Saint Patrick, etc.). The mashup of fiction and history made the book even more engaging.

Despite the age of the book, I still found it very entertaining and I think it is still an interesting story for young readers today. There is probably a bit more violence in it than more modern books, but most of it is pretty tame and mostly alluded to rather than shown (fate of witches and their cats, British fighting Americans).

Overall, a wonderful reads, especially for cat-lovers. Great mix of history and fiction, time-travel and philosophy, excitement and lessons.
The Misadventures of Grumpy Cat and Pokey!, #1 - Ken Haeser, Ben McCool, Elliott Serrano, Steve Uy, Ben Fisher, Royal McGraw
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

Cute collection overall. This graphic novel contains multiple stories centering around Grumpy Cat and Pokey with a variety of cartoon-y artwork. Overall, it was a good read.

The stories cover a good range, from mysteries to time travel to superheroes to aliens and ghosts. There's a little bit of everything. And to tie it all together is Grumpy Cat's characteristic cynicism and Pokey's contagious optimism. While the stories vary, the characters are always fun in their own way.
Boomer Goes to School - Constance W. McGeorge, Mary Whyte
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

Adorable book about Boomer's trip to school. I remember loving this book as a child (I even had two copies for some reason) and I still enjoy it as a adult. Beautiful, fun illustrations. Simple story. Boomer is the best.

While the story itself is pretty straightforward, the artwork really brings the characters and events to life. Love it. Such a great book.
The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel, Volume 1 - Neil Gaiman, P. Craig Russell
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

A good adaptation of The Graveyard Book with some cool illustration styles. Each chapter is illustrated by a different artist. I especially enjoyed Jill Thompson's section. Volume 1 contains the first five chapters and interlude. It ends at a good stopping point to set up the next book.

The real issue I had with this book is that the shifting art styles were a bit disruptive for me. You spend the whole first chapter picturing Bod a certain way and then by chapter three you question what is going on in the world. The drastically different styles made the book read as different stories rather than one continue account of Bod's journey. I think it would have been better to only have one art style, but that's just my personal preference.

Also, while I've read the novel and know how Bod ends up in the graveyard, the opening pages were still a bit rough. They made a decision to show the open wounds, a decision I feel may turn some readers off to the book. A more subtle approach may have worked better. I was actually really surprised the opening scene was depicted in such a way.

Anyway, aside from those things, I thought this was a good book. I thought they did a great job of representing Silas especially. The stories were interesting and presented in a way that contributes well to the original material. Despite my distaste for the use of multiple illustration styles, I'm still planning on reading the second volume.
Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty - Christine Heppermann
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

While this book was not quite what I expected, I still really enjoyed it. Rather than a collection of poetry that retells famous fairy tales (my expectation), this was instead a book of poetry that looks at fairy tales through a contemporary lens to comment on various topics such as eating disorders, double standards, societal expectations and standards of beauty, and sexuality in the modern world.

The poems create a sense of haunting awe, challenging the reader to rethink everything they thought they knew about the world around them and the fairy tales they grew up with. Paired with gorgeous and thought-provoking photographs, this book is as lovely as it is harrowing. These aren't cushy, comfy, feel-good poems. These are poems that stab at the seams of society and ask the reader to critically examine the outside world.

While some of the lines felt crass, especially in terms of sensitive topics like eating disorders, the book on the whole provided an eye-opening view of growing up female. Presented in caustic, mystifying, heartbreaking, magical language, these poems created a real experience. 
The Golden Tower - Holly Black, Cassandra Clare
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

I have loved reading this series so much. Yes, it's very similar to Harry Potter, however it is definitely its own story with its own complexities. With all of the craziness that happened in the last few books, I was wondering how this whole thing was going to end.

Overall, I liked this book and found the ending fairly satisfying. The writing was good, the story was interesting, and it tied up most of the loose ends. While the pace of the book was very fast and new elements were introduced in a rather helter skelter manner, I think the main issue that I had with the book is that it appears Black and Clare kind of wrote themselves into a corner and had to come up with a creative solution to resolve everything. Personally, I felt that solution was out of character for certain players like Tamara and Aaron. Their ethics kind of go out the window at the end. The whole Maugris thing was cool, but was severely underdeveloped and felt like an afterthought. It gets thrown in there and then doesn't really go anywhere.

A lot happens in this book. In all honestly, it's a bit overwhelming. There was a lot to wrap up and, while Black and Clare did utilize some imaginative techniques, the chosen conclusion wasn't entirely satisfying. It left some bits out and didn't seem to completely mesh with the characters' views and ethics.

Overall, I enjoyed the book despite its flaws. This has been such a fun series to read and I'm a little bummed that it's over.
How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals - Sy Montgomery, Rebecca Green
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

Gorgeous book that is beautifully written, artfully composed, and full of spirit.

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to win a copy of The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration Into the Wonder of Consciousness and absolutely loved it. I stumbled across this at the library and picked it put because the cover was so lovely.

From the first page, I really enjoyed this book. Coming from a person who also dreamed of being a dog as a child, I really connected with Montgomery's love of animals. Not just for what they brought to her life, but by their nature of simply being.

The thirteen animals, detailed over ten chapters, really come to life on the page with Montgomery's magical descriptions. You really get a sense of the mystery, beauty, and inspiration that she sees in each animal she met and loved.

This is a memoir, so despite the title, it is a very personal account that shows some of the ways various animals touched her life rather than a how-to guide on how to be better. Montgomery discusses many events tied to the animals in her life, some of which are rather dark involving loss. However, the narration nicely depicted how Montgomery got through such difficult times, sometimes in serendipitous ways, and learned something about herself and life in general.

The book includes gorgeous black-and-white illustrations of each animal that are whimsical and wonderful. At the end there are also photographs of some of the animals included in the book as well as others.

A lovely book, a great read. I am already looking forward to reading more by Montgomery.