Tag Archives: travel

Hello There, Dear Blog

Oh 2011, I feel like you just got here. Must you go so soon?

Seriously, this year has been a blur. I really can’t believe 2012 begins in 36 hours. Last year, I over-extended myself with commitments and scaled back this year. Somehow, the world kept life just as busy this year.

I traveled a lot (for me)! I attended ALA Midwinter, and was able to go to Disneyland with my husband for a few days. Spring flew by, and I attended ALA Annual right after school ended. (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3) During the summer, I was lucky enough to go to NYC for 24 hours and then spend a weekend at Rensselaerville. I got some beach time in at Ocean City (Maryland) and Wildwood Crest (New Jersey). I didn’t see as much of my family as I would like, but I was lucky to spend a good amount of time with dear friends.

Work has been busier than ever. We have a new library assistant this year, so getting her up to speed has been a focus. In addition to sponsoring the student book club, I am continuing on as the chair of Faculty Senate, and a member of the Climate Committee and two different literacy committees. I was a co-coordinator for our school Martin Luther King Jr. Oratorical competition. I’ve been just as busy with book talks this year as I was last year, which is excellent.

I challenged myself, via GoodReads, to read 50 books this year. I thought that would be easy. I just made it, and it involved some last-minute reads of picture books and graphic novels. I have come to accept that reading challenges are not fun for me. Reading (and blogging) is something I do for pleasure. Once I commit to a challenge, it feels like a job. It becomes a finish line and is no longer about enjoying the experience. I won’t be doing that again this year.

Life itself has been a roller coaster, speeding through the highs and lows and dips and flips of love, loss, struggles, and blessings. The health of everyone I know ebbs and flows. I continue to be lucky to come home to a house filled with the love of my husband and two dogs. We continue the never-ending project that is living in a house built in 1951.

2012 is largely a mystery for me right now. I applied for the YALSA Board Fellow position. If I am fortunate to be selected, I envision a chunk of my year focused on that. If not, I intend to apply for another process committee position as my term on Teens’ Top Ten ends after Annual. My work commitments will continue, of course. I am not attending ALA Midwinter this year. I have no requirement to attend, and financially it is not a priority right now. I have not made a decision on attending ALA Annual, but I suspect the Board Fellow decision will have some affect on that. I would love to attend the YALSA YA Lit Symposium again, but I have some time to make that decision.

For now, I hope 2012 will pass a little more slowly than 2011 did. If any of my readers have stuck around since my last post in September, I thank you and hope you continue to stop by in 2012.

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Photo Friday 7/29/2011

Because I love rain, I have a fondness for photos that focus on a raindrop coated window with a flurry setting behind it. For example, this picture of Moscow.

In New Orleans, where it rained every afternoon, I took several pictures like this, this being my favorite:

While nothing identifies it as New Orleans, I know it is.

 

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ALA Annual 2011 New Orleans Recap – Part 3

Part 1 and part 2 of my ALA Annual 2011 recap were posted previously. On to the rest!

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ALA Annual 2011 New Orleans Recap – Part 2

Part 2 of my experience at ALA Annual 2011 in New Orleans. Part 1 can be found here. One thing I forgot about Saturday: I ended up at the cooking stage in the exhibit hall and was able to see Kevin Zraly speak about wine and wine tasting.

He was very entertaining and educational without being any sort of wine-snob. I loved it! One thing he said that I found interesting: 90% of all wine is drunk by 10% of the population. They ran out of his books so the publisher said she would send me one. I hope she follows through!

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ALA Annual 2011 New Orleans Recap – Part 1

ALA Annual 2011 was the first time I have attended Annual outside of Washington D.C. I’m so glad I was able to do so. I had a great time, although I also experienced some frustrations. Here is a recap of what I did – or tried to do – after the cut.

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Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. Published by Dutton Juvenile. Read in April, 2011. Copy purchased for myself.

What can I say about Anna and the French Kiss that hasn’t already been said? I mean, John Green loved it so much he couldn’t put it down, and compared it to the potential outcome if he and Maureen Johnson had babies. Lots of YA bloggers have written of the awesomeness that is Anna: Michelle loved itas did Abby and Sarah.

Anna is about to begin her senior year of high school, but she isn’t attending in her hometown of Atlanta. Her dad made the decision to enroll her in the School of America in Paris. Thanks to Dad, she’s leaving behind her amazing best friend, her adorable little brother, an awesome job, and the amorous flirtation she’s been having with a cute guy at said job. She doesn’t even know French so she’s anxious about being that embarrassing American who can’t communicate with anyone.

Soon after she arrives, though, Anna meets a cute boy. A cute boy with a French name and a British accent who attends this American school, named Etienne St. Clair. Etienne has a girlfriend, but he does come with a group of friends who welcome Anna into their circle. Despite his girlfriend, or maybe because of her, Anna and Etienne become good friends. They say Paris is the most romantic city in the world. Is it possible to live there and ignore your attraction to your good friend?

I could not have started my spring break with a more perfect book. Anna and the French Kiss is clever, funny, and romantic. It’s not often that my stomach gets the butterflies along with a character just because a cute boy’s arm brushes up against hers. I stayed up so very late last night because I was so caught up in the story, I fell in love with Etienne right along with Anna. Ms. Perkins hits the target with her descriptions of love, longing, jealousy, tension and angst.

I loved the character of Anna. She’s smart, devoted to her brother, and unapologetic about her deep love for film. She’s insecure and anxious. She’s totally relatable and a three-dimensional character.

And Etienne…ah, Etienne. Also smart, also insecure. He’s also loyal, funny, and supportive. He’s full of love for the people he cares about, and isn’t afraid to show it.

Sometimes, an author spends so much time fleshing out the main characters that the supporting roles are left a little bland. Ms. Perkins does not fall prey to this, though. Her characters are all original and awesome, whether it’s a frequent character like Josh, Etienne’s best friend, or Matt, an old friend and ex of Anna’s whom she sees over the winter break.

My favorite part of this book is the friendship that builds between Anna and Etienne. Sometimes, romance novels focus too much on the lust and angst, and less on the foundation of a real long-term relationship. Despite the underlying attraction between the two main characters and the fact that Etienne is unavailable, they still open up to each other and develop a connection built on trust, honesty, and friendship. I wish teens had more solid examples of healthy love like this to look to, and less based on danger and instability.

Anna is about more than just romance, though. The major players all must overcome challenges in different ways, and each must depend on his or her inner strength and friends. Everyone makes mistakes, and the importance of forgiveness is a big theme in the novel.

Did I mention that the novel takes place in Paris? Ms. Perkins describes Paris as this magical city of delicious street food and dog-loving theater-owners. I loved getting to travel there and experience it with Anna.

Anna and the French Kiss is perfect. I cannot recommend it enough, and it is safe to say it will be a 2011 favorite for me.

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