Monday, November 11, 2013

New Book: Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

We just added Allie Brosh's first book, half of which has already appeared on the web in her blog, and the other half is entirely new material.  The image on the cover is Allie Brosh herself, and the yellow triangle is her pony tail.

The book isn't all that different from her blog;  she writes about the mundane--her two dogs and the rules they must live by, including no bees.  Her classic blog, "The God of Cake," her retelling of the time she ate her grandfather's birthday cake, is still just as funny as it was the first time I read it, but in the context of this book, next to the new blog posts, the story has another layer. In this book, Brosh exposes and reflects on her crippling depression in at least two posts, and she does so in a way that makes the experience crystal clear to those folks who have never struggled with depression.  She also reflects on her arbitrary rules for life, which made me think about perception and reality, and of course, philosophy. She even depicts herself on a forbidden quest to a cave where she reads the writing on the wall.

I've always loved Matt Inman's The Oatmeal, and I've often compared Inman and Brosh and both comedic geniuses,  but after reading this book, I have to say that Inman is funny in a superficial and scientific way, and he encourages wonder with the world with his emphasis on animals and science. But Brosh understands the heart, she shows what it is to be human, and she does it while making me laugh.  She reminds me of the time in own childhood when I teamed up with my sister to harrass and annoy our mother.

This book won't stay on the shelf long, friends.


We're deep into November already, and I just want to remind you that NaNoWriMo isn't even half way over.  These writers have some great tips about writing.  Pick up that pen, and keep going!

Library Orientation Video

What is The Deep Web?

This short video provides a clear explanation of the Deep Web, the majority of the material on the Internet, and helps explain how Google only scratches the surface of the material available, but you can access the deepest parts of the web through library services.  Just ask me how!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fun with Psychological Disorders

ODD or Oppositional Defiance Disorder is my favorite psychological disorder.  And, yes, I have a favorite.  I’ve always liked this one because for many years I thought my husband suffered from ODD.  People with ODD blame others for their mistakes. They frequently have temper tantrums and angry outbursts, and they struggle with authority. Most importantly, they purposefully annoy others. While this may appear to describe every teenager on the planet, it is not a common disorder.  Young ones with ODD have a hard time making friends and doing well in school because their outbursts are rather off-putting.

But, as I examined the DSM, I realized Hubs probably didn’t have ODD.  Honestly, I was just making excuses for him because he is difficult.  After much thought, I realized his disorder wasn’t on the DSM at all, so I decided to create a disorder for him.  I call it CDD or Compassion Deficit Disorder. Those suffering from this disorder have trouble feeling any empathy for others.  When they should feel empathy, they express annoyance.  Their motto is: “That’s what you get,” and while they show no compassion for struggling friends or family, even their children, they feel an inordinate amount of compassion for kitties and cute furry creatures.  It is this conflict of their compassion that makes the disorder so easy to identify.  

And if my husband has CDD, I suffer from an entirely different disorder.  It’s called Hyper-Empathy Disorder (HED) and can be described as having an overabundance of feelings that aren’t even necessarily one’s own.  The sufferers of my fictitious disorder feel the emotions that others near them feel even more intensely than the actual subjects.  They feel the feelings people with CDD should feel but cannot.  They struggle to watch horror films and anything suspenseful, and they fall apart if anyone is upset with them.  Furthermore, if they see a car accident or a particularly emotional commercial, they might start crying.  And, that’s why they hate crowds and crowded places like Disneyland.  

I really hate everything about Disneyland.

P.S. I ordered this magazine for the library if you want to read it.
P.S.S. Psychological disorders are serious, and aren't funny at all.  But when you have one, making light of it can make it more bearable.
P.P.S.S.  Learn the DSM and try to identify the characters you read and the characters on TV with disorders.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Three New Books

Just One Year
Gayle Forman's much anticipated companion book for Just One Day does not disappoint.  This book picks up where Willem and Allyson are separated in Paris.  Told from Willem's point of view, Just One Day breaks the stereotypes of free-spirits and commitment-phobia boys.  Don't miss it!

Love in the Time of Global Warming
Set in post-apocalyptic Los Angeles, rich poetic language marks this re-imagining of Homer's Odyssey. Cyclops, sirens, lotus's all there and it's surprisingly relevant.

The House of Hades
The fourth book in The Heroes of Olympus series, House of Hades picks up where The Mark of Athena (book 3) lets off.  From  "Annabeth and Percy tumble into a pit leading straight to the Underworld.  The other five demigods have put aside their grief and follow Percy's instructions to find the mortal side of the Doors of Death.  If they can fight their way through the Gaea's forces, and Percy and Annabeth can survive the House of Hades, then the Seven will be able to seal the Doors from both sides and prevent the giants from raising Gaea.  But, Leo wonders, if the Doors are sealed, how will Percy and Annabeth be able to escape?"

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Book Sale to raise money for the Library

On Friday during the Club Fair, the Library Improvement Club will be selling books that have been donated to the library to raise funds for new titles.  We already have copies of the books being sold, and some of them are brand new.  Support the library, and buy some books for yourself or your friends! 
Prices from $.50 to $2.00

Smoke by Ellen Hopkins

We are happy to report that we've just added to the VHS collection Ellen Hopkins' Smoke, the much anticipated sequel to Burned.  Stop by the circulation desk if you want to be put on the waiting list.

Summary:  Pattyn Von Stratten’s father is dead, and Pattyn is on the run. After far too many years of abuse at the hands of her father, and after the tragic loss of her beloved Ethan and their unborn child, Pattyn is desperate for peace. But is it even possible to rebuild a life when everything you’ve known has burned to ash and lies seem far safer than the truth? From

Review by Yesenia Sandoval, 10th grade (Vice President of the Library Improvement Club)

Ellen Hopkins Burned was a cliffhanger because Pattyn is on a bridge choosing life without her soulmate or death. Burned never mentioned what happened to her father so it felt like Pattyn clinging to her life was the end. Period, no sequel, no nothing. Reading this 600-page book in less than 4 hours shows how amazing her writing is. In the novel very few new characters were added which was well done because new characters might have made this a mess. In my opinion more suspense could have been added but her detail was spot-on because I believe that's Hopkins forte. Hopkins should have kept Pattyn's love interest to the same person instead of adding a new man, but this adds a sense of light and future to Pattyn's character. This book is somewhat relatable to somebody's life but a few of her other novels are very relatable, at least to me. If you've ever shot your father... read this book! Ellen Hopkins never fails to pull you into her novels. Smoke is not one to miss!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Romeo and Juliet (2013)

A new Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet movie came out this week, so like a good English teacher, I went to go see it.  Some boys at school informed me that the girl playing Juliet is really fifteen-years old, which obviously impressed them, but what impressed me was the new Romeo, who puts '68 Zach Efron look-alike from the Franco Zeffirelli version to shame.  This is the prettiest Romeo I have ever seen, and not only is he dreamy, this Romeo is a sculptor and an artist.  He has dreamy hair, dreamy eyelashes, dreamy lips, a fine physique, and he could even act.  I want to say he was the best actor in the movie, but I might be blinded by his dreaminess.  My daughter just reminded me that he was shirtless for a very short bit, too.  

But why does the movie have a 24% approval rating on Flixster?  I figured it was because it’s Shakespeare, which means the audience probably got bored with the language.   But, honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such bad editing.  The choppy editing cuts created an awkward flow in the presentation of the story—kind of reminiscent of Twilight.  Speaking of Twilight, I didn’t think Juliet emanated much emotion as she sighed about Romeo or at any time during the film.  She made me think of Kristen Stewart. Her delivery was flat, and her acting really paled.  So how did Julian Fellows make up for it?  Lots of making out. That’s what my daughter said.  “Mom, every time they were saying good bye, they’d just start making out again.  It was awkward.”

But what was good?  The setting and sets were stunning, the costumes were detailed and elaborate, but the background music overpowered every single scene and ruined the movie. The cinematographer should be shot.  Right next to the editor. And the music director.

But my big problem with Romeo and Juliet isn’t this recent version of it.  The play is a ridiculous story about a love-sick boy swooning over some girl named Rosalind until Juliet, in a MASK I might add, catches his eye.  They get engaged that night on her balcony and they get married married the next day.  I also want to point out that the play serves as a companion to Hamlet.  In Romeo and Juliet, no one obeys the prince or the parents, and as such, they die.  Everything happens impetuously, rashly, in an immediate gratification sort of way.  In Hamlet, everyone obeys the king and their parents, even though they are terribly wrong, and they die (that’s really everyone except Horatio).  Hamlet thinks about everything and toils over everything that all of his thinking and waiting leads to his end.  

So what is Shakespeare trying to tell us?  We’re screwed either way?  If we act quickly, wait it out, listen to our parents and leaders, or ignore them, we’re all going to die.  And so it goes.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Gravity and Sci-Fi Reading

If you liked the movie Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, you might like these Sci-Fi books (as recommended by NPR):

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card: Young Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, bred to be a genius, is drafted to Battle School where he trains to lead the century-long fight agains the alien Buggers.

Neuromancer by William Gibson:  Case, a burned-out computer whiz, is asked to steal to steal a security code that is locked in the most heavily guarded databank in the solar system in this cyberpunk novel. 

The Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons: As former members of a disbanded group of superheroes called the Crimbeusters start turning up dad in this graphic novel, the remaining members of the group try to discover the identity of the murderer before they, too, are killed. 

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein:  Valentine Michael Smith, born and raised on Mars, arrives on Earth stunning Western culture with his superhuman abilities.

2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke: Two astronauts find their journey into space and their very lives jeopardized by the jealousy of an extraordinary computer named HAL.

Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein:  In one his most controversial novels, a recruit of the future goes through the toughest boot camp in the universe and into battle with the Terran Mobile Infantry against humankind's most frightening enemy.
Contact by Carl Sagan: A multinational team of astronauts ventures deep into outer space, where they come face to face with an advanced alien civilization.

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin: While on a mission to the planet Gethen — a world whose inhabitants can change their gender — earthling Genly Ai is sent by leaders of the nation of Orgoreyn to a concentration camp. The exiled prime minister of the nation of Karhide tries to rescue him.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Darwin Elevator

On September 25, author and VHS alumni Jason M. Hough visited Valhalla's library as a guest speaker to talk about writing, gaming, and the publishing world.  We have two copies of the first installment of the Dire Earth Cycle series, The Darwin Elevator, available for checkout.  Set 300 years in the future in Darwin, Australia, the book centers around the malfunction of an alien constructed space elevator and a zombie plague affecting Earth.  More action than Sci-Fi, it is gripping, action-packed, gritty and reminiscent of one of the best Sci-Fi TV shows ever, Firefly.  The Darwin Elevator does not fail to deliver!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

New Book in the Library: Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
We just added this March 2013 Amazon bestseller to the VHS library.  It’s Mrs. Macceca’s pick for the best YA book to come out in 2013 (as of September).  The following review is straight from
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love—and just how hard it pulled you under.
Eleanor & Park is the winner of the 2013 Boston Globe Horn Book Award for Best Fiction Book.
Eleanor & Park reminded me not just what it’s like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it’s like to be young and in love with a book.”—John Green, The New York Times Book Review

Nooks Available for Student Check-out

Great news, Norsemen!  There are four Color Nooks that are almost ready for student checkout!  You can take them home and borrow them for three weeks and read any of the pre-loaded books.
What’s on the Nooks?  Not much because we want to make sure they are books you want.  Make requests by talking to the librarian at the front desk.
How can you check out a Nook?  Just ask at the Circulation Desk.