Category Archives: Librarians

What I Actually Read on My Summer Vacation

Last May, I posted a list of what I planned to read over the summer.  There were 16 books total on the list – ambitious, considering that I only listed books owned by the Calarco Library, and there were other books I planned to read as well.

So how’d I do?

Yes I really like inforgraphics ok?


Here’s a quick breakdown of the 12 books I read:

5 stars:

The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison. I want a sequel!

Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie. The sequel comes out in October!

(Full reviews of these two coming soon!)

4 stars:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. This book will make you wish you could remember how you saw the world at 7.

Death of a Dyer, by Eleanor Kuhns. I got to the last page and immediately bought the third book. A solid historical mystery.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler. See! I read/like contemporary fiction. Smart, fun, and funny.

Afterparty, by Daryl Gregory. Cool world-building, great characters.

3 stars:

Bellfield Hall, by Anna Dean. A perfectly serviceable mystery.

Company of Liars, by Karen Maitland. This would have been a 4 star book if it wasn’t for the last chapter. A creepy Canterbury Tales.

Vicious, by V. E. Schwab. Superpowers but no heroes.

2 Stars:

Charm and Strange, by Stephanie Kuehn. A good book in a lot of ways, but it didn’t work for me. Dark.

Winger, by Andrew Smith. Winger, you betrayed me. You were supposed to be a light, funny read after Charm and Strange. And let’s just say that didn’t work out.

Annihilation, by Jeff Vandermeer. I should have expected this book would get really weird.

So there you have it. Another summer of books accounted for. Want to talk about what you read? Defend a book I didn’t like? Leave us a comment!

-Signing off, Mr. Gette (Bonus great book not on the list: The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch. )





…A Look Forward pt. 2

Summer Preview – The Ms. Barrows Version


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As someone who chooses to take the Amtrak train to D.C. in order to pick up five hours of uninterrupted reading, you shouldn’t be surprised by my favorite summer activity. You guessed it. Summer reading. In fact, my childhood competitive spirit shined most brightly when participating in the summer reading challenges hosted by the public library. I shook my 10-year-old fist in anger whenever I visited for weekly updates and found that other children were beating me.

It goes without saying, I was a very, very cool  kid.

Featured below are 12 Calarco Library books that I endeavor to read this summer. The list does not include the countless books piled on my nightstand, nor the books I have to read for a few professional-developmenty-type things. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping I can recall the essence of my 10-year-old self, who would easily elbow wee little 8-year-olds when racing for the public library’s C.S. Lewis books. Not the actual elbowing, just the spirit of elbowing…anyway. Here’s the list:

And the Band Played on, by Randy Shilts: The preeminent book on the AIDS epidemic. First published in 1987 and probably still the most important book about AIDS. Dallas Buyers Club made me realize I really should read this book. Really.

Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer: A story set in some dysopian/post-apocalyptic future which features four WOMEN tasked with the mission to explore the cut-off and mysterious region, Area-X? Sign me up.

Attachments, by Rainbow Rowell: For the handful of people who read this blog, you might have gotten the memo that I fell in love with Rainbow Rowell this year. Now, I will finally (hopefully) get around to reading her first book.

The Bees, by Laline Paull: The setting: a beehive. The protagonist: Flora 717, a sanitation worker. The problem: Flora 717’s curiosity, a dangerous trait in a community dictated by the religion of Queen worship. I have wanted to read this book since I read a “sneak peak” review back in April. I tried to buy it at Atticus last week, but they had just sold their last copy. Then I remembered…library kindle!  (On Kindle)

The Enchanted, by Rene Denfeld: A death row inmate uses books to re-imagine life beyond the bars, creating a fantastical world and shields himself from a frightening reality. In that reality are a priest and an investigator. Enter: disrupted notions of guilt, innocence, victim, and perpetrator.

Feed, by M.T. Anderson: A YA classic that I am just now getting around to reading. Titus was a regular member of society, taking trips to the moon for spring break and hardly thinking about The Feed. But then his Feed malfunctions and he meets Violet, who fights The Feed and makes Titus wonder if he should fight it too.

Last Night at the Viper Room: River Phoenix and the Hollywood He Left Behind, by Gavin Edwards: I really hope I get around to reading this book. River Phoenix was more than Joaquin Phoenix’s older brother, and by all accounts this bio delves fiercely into the complexities of River Phoenix’s Hollywood reality. (On Kindle)

Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann: Another “book gone by” that I am hoping to reclaim this summer. It is 1974 and a tightrope walker is hanging out between the Twin Towers, which is kind of all I know about this one so far (without looking at the Goodreads bio).  And basically, everyone keeps telling me to read this one.

The Magician King, by Lev Grossman: I read The Magicians quite awhile back, and I might have to do a re-read before I pick up The Magician King. I am kicking myself that I didn’t keep up with this trilogy, but I was partially disturbed by The Magicians – not because it is particularly disturbing, but because it was touted as the “adult Harry Potter” books. Quite frankly, the worst thing a magical/fantasy book can be called is the “(fill in the blank) Harry Potter” book. Grossman’s trilogy (as far as I have gotten) is just fine fantasy – there’s not need to inflate any Harry Potter-esque hopes and dreams. It is a disservice to the author and Harry Potter fans alike. Time has passed and I now feel ready to read (and enjoy) Grossman’s trilogy out from under the shadow-y pressure to be the “next Harry Potter”.

Salvage the Bones, by Jesmyn Ward: Captured in 12 days and set in coastal Mississippi, Ward won the 2012 National Book award for her story of a motherless family driven together and apart as a building hurricane looms int he background.

Shine Shine Shine, by Lydia Netzer: We got this book and The Age of Miracles at the same time. I obviously picked Miracles, and somehow Netzer’s debut novel got lost in the “to-read” shuffle. Still an enormously appealing plot (Sunny Mann’s quest for perfection and her genius-husband Maxon’s quest for the moon), I have a suspicious feeling this will be a “read in one sitting” kind of book.

The Snow Queen, by Michael Cunningham: I am refusing to read the plot summaries for Cunningham’s latest book. The only thing I know to be true is that I loved The Hours and I will give anything written by Cunningham a fair shot.

You can see my summer reading list on Goodreads.

-Signing off, Ms. Barrows (who cannot wait to read ALL THE THINGS!)

…A Look Forward

Summer Preview – The Mr. Gette Version

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Ah, Summer! A time to relax, rejuvenate, and – of course – read! I’m going to be traveling this summer, so I wanted to make sure my Kindle was packed with diverse and interesting titles. And I’ve got my eye on a few books on the shelves as well…

Afterparty, by Daryl Gregory: This is cheating a bit, since I read it over Memorial Day weekend. A scientist who’s been in and out of mental institutions after overdosing on her own drug tries to stop said drug from being made again. Which is heard in a a future where drug recipes can be downloaded from the internet and printed to order on chemical printers. Oh, and the drug makes you see God. It’s a fun book, with deeply strange characters.

Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie: Won the Clarke, won the Nebula, a finalist for the HugoI want to read this so badly.  An AI which used to control a spaceship and thousands of bodies is now limited to just one. A space-opera revenge story.

Annihilation, by Jeff Vandermeer: Four women form an expedition in an attempt to explore the mysterious Area X – and maybe find out what happened to the previous ten expeditions.

Bellfield Hall, by Anna Dean: Regency period historical mystery. Caught my eye because it had a starred review on Kirkus. And I love historical mysteries. (On Kindle)

Charm and Strange, by Stephanie Kuehn: A boy with anger issues thinks there’s a wolf inside him. There’s some central mystery here, and I can’t wait to find out what it is. (On Kindle)

Company of Liars, by Karen Maitland: The Canterbury Tales, but with more plague. (On Kindle)

Death of a Dyer, by Eleanor Kuhns: Did I mention that I like historical mysteries? This is the sequel to A Simple Murder which I read and enjoyed last summer. (On Kindle)

The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison: An exiled prince becomes emperor when the rest of his family is killed, and is dropped into an unfamiliar world full of palace intrigue. It’s been getting rave reviews. (On Kindle)

Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker: Two magical creatures from different mythologies and cultures meet in turn of the century New York City. Also it is blue.

Longbourne, by Jo Baker: Pride and Prejudice, from the servants’ point of view. Oh, Jane Austen fanfiction. (On Kindle)

Mistborn, by Brandon Sanderson: The Junior School went crazy for Steelheart this year (there was an actual fight over it at one of the Bookmobiles). Sanderson is famous for his inventive magic systems. And I love a good thief tale.

The Ocean at the End of the Laneby Neil Gaiman: Given my massive Neil Gaiman fanboyism, I can’t believe I haven’t read this yet. (On Kindle)

Vicious, by V. E. Schwab: Superpowers! Prison breaks! College!  (On Kindle)

 We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler: Any book that is supposed to be outrageously funny is good with me. When she’s five, Rosemary’s twin sister Fern disappears. If you read anything about this book, even the cover, it gives the twist away, but I won’t spoil it here.  (On Kindle)

Winger, by Andrew Smith: I enjoyed Smith’s Grasshopper Jungle and the creepy The Marbury Lens. And Winger’s drawings make me think of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, which I adore.  (On Kindle)

Books that I forgot about until I read Ms. Barrow’s blog post:

Attachments, by Rainbow Rowell – How could I forget about Rainbow Rowell?! And Landline comes out in July…

So that’s my preliminary list. We’ll see what else catches my eye as the summer goes on.

You can see my summer reading list on Goodreads.

Signing off, Mr. Gette (who checked out Annihilation today! Take that, Barrows!)


Texts From Librarians: A Review Preview

Ms. Barrows and I both read some good books over break, and will have full reviews soon, but we thought we’d give you a bit of a preview of what’s to come.

And so I present: Mr. Gette and Ms. Barrow’s Spring Break Texting History.


Saturday, March 15, 4:54 pm

JG: I am 424 pages into Night Film.

JB: That good, huh?

JG: We’ll see how it wraps up.


Saturday, March 15, 6:52 pm

JG: Finished Night Film. It was good, but I’m kind of disappointed.

JB: That’s too bad! I”m going to start The Death of Bees tomorrow.


Monday, March 17, 1:53 pm

JG: The Martian is AMAZING!


Monday, March 17, 3:03 pm

JB: Death of Bees is immensely readable and so messed up.

JG: I got that impression. I am going to finish The Martian so I can pass it on to you tomorrow. Also because I can’t put it down.

JG: Fangirl has competition.


Wednesday, March 19, 7:15

JG: Just finished Help for the Haunted. It’s a whole bunch of mysteries tangled together, with a decent dash of spook. Didn’t love the ending, but I think that’s partly due to personal prejudice.

JB: What’s the personal prejudice?

[ED: Rest of conversation redacted due to spoilers]


Thursday, March 20, 9:45 am


JG: Despite or because of how messed up it is?

JB: Both. In some ways, it fits together a little too nicely at the end.

JB: But there are no holes in the plot structure, and I”m borderline impressed the author pulled it off.

JB: I think she also did a good job of swapping between narratives.

JG: Yeah, the two points of view (and the resulting differences in the story) were something I really liked in the excerpt I read.

JG: Martian next? I am trying to decide between Lexicon and Lives of Tao.

JB: Yes next.


Thursday, March 20, 11:25 am




JB: The vampire line is my favorite so far.

JG: Love this book.


Thursday, March 20, 12:53 pm


JB: Just laughed very loudly in quiet car on the train.


Saturday, March 22, 11:29 am





JG: The local library had a long hold list, and I need my sister to read them. Also I have poor impulse control.

JB: LOL. I finished The Martian and gave it to my sister.

JG: Well, I was jealous because her library had Ancillary Justice, so I decided to just buy my own copy. They didn’t have it. But it put the others within reach…


Thursday, March 27, 1:04 pm

JG: I do not care about aliens.

JB: And?

JG: I think that’s why Lives of Tao isn’t doing it for me.

JB: Drop it, then.


And there you have it! Action packed excitement from beginning to end.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this preview of our coming attractions.


-Signing off, Mr. Gette (who feels really bad about not finishing The Lives of Tao…)





Junior School Bookmobile: October Spooktacular

Photo credit: Justin Snow via Flickr

Photo credit: Justin Snow via Flickr

JB: Fall foliage → Trees → Books. Fall should make you think of books…because they are made from trees.

KG: Except for Kindle books. Those are made from Benjamin Franklin and kites.

JB: PRINTING PRESS! PRINTING PRESS! Ben Franklin can also remind you of REAL BOOKS.

KG: Everything makes you think of books. Coffee? Curling up with a book. Clouds? That one looks like a book. Taking books up to Thompson so students can check them out and read them over the weekend? Makes you think of books, for some weird reason.

JB: Mmmmmmm books. I have been gently brainwashed to think only of books, have you? You have? Excellent. Good news. We have done our jobs.

KG: And since you’re as obsessed with books as we are, you should join us this Thursday (that’s tomorrow!) at 12:10 in the Thompson South Atrium (that’s on the left).

JB: Mr. Gette and myself (Ms. Barrows) will be laden with books and Kindles, so please stop by and pick out a book (or books) to enjoy over the long weekend.

KG: If you’d like to get a preview of what will be available (and plan out what you’d like to get), check out our J School Bookmobile shelf on Goodreads.

-Signing off, Jenny Barrows and Kit Gette (who are looking forward to seeing you tomorrow)

Summer Reading Preview

With summer fast approaching, I’ve been thinking about what to do with all that free time. Maybe learn Spanish. Hike the Appalachian Trail. Paint a sunset.

Nah, just kidding.  I”m going to read.

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When I want to feel intellectual:

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss

Mr. Peters read this months ago, and I want to be like him.  The story of Alexander Dumas’s father, the son of a count and a slave who fought under Napoleon.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

I think any book that can be described with the keywords “war” and “satire” will inevitably be compared to Catch-22. Then again, I really liked Catch-22. The Iraq War, football, and incredibly persistent media coverage/promotion.

Jane Austen: The Complete Collection

I read Pride and Prejudice for  Wit and Wisdom lo these many years ago and loved it. That I’ve never read any other Austen novels is potential Read of Shame territory.

That is not to say that I will be reading ALL of her novels. At least, not this summer.

When I can’t access my Steam account:

Ready Player Oneby Ernest Cline

I got halfway through this a few months ago, put it down, and never went back to it.  Time to pick it back up, because it’s fun (and if you can’t play games, you can at least read about them).  A treasure hunt through an MMO/Second Life hybrid, guided by 80’s trivia (with a dash of dystopia thrown in for good measure).

Scott Pilgrim, by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Also sitting on my shelf at home, waiting for me to finish it.  Slacker and musician must defeat love interest’s seven evil exes to get a date.

When I need to know whodunit:

The Diviners, by Libba Bray

Libba Bray has been hit or miss for me. Beauty Queens was one of the best books I read last year, and  The Diviners has received some great reviews  – but then, so did  Going Bovinewhich I couldn’t get into at all.

A Simple Murder, by Eleanor Kuhns

Historical mysteries: my great weakness (along with zombie stories with good world-building, droll protagonists, and gummy bears). And I’ve been craving a good mystery (other than “where did all the textbooks go?”).

Aaaaaand a whole stack of others. What’s on your list? Any books you’re particularly looking forward to reading once you have the <gasp!> time?

-Signing off, Kit Gette (Yay books! Yay summer!)