Tag Archives: Jess

Read Harder: Vol. 4

This year, I plan on chronicling my adventures with Book Riot’s 2016 Read Harder Challenge.

Time for a graphic novel, friends. The charge is to find a non-superhero comic that debuted in the last three years and here are a few that fit the bill just fine…

 

In Lady Killerwritten by Jamie S. Rich and illustrated by Joelle Jones, Josie is the picture perfect ’60s housewife. Or is she? The strain of caring for her husband and daughters while balancing her career as a trained assassin is starting to take a toll on her life. Can this lady really have it all?

Sydney Padua’s The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage is a fun bit of speculative fiction – Charles Babbage, inventor and machinist, was essentially the inventor of the computer; Ada, Countess of Lovelace, was a proto-programmer, who translated and added on to Babbage’s notes. Neither completed their work, but Padua wonders what if they had…

Jane, the Fox & Me was written by Fanny Britt, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, and translated from French by Christelle Morelli and Susan Ouriou. Hélène is a lonely outcast at her school, with Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre as her only consolation. After a brief encounter with a fox on a school camping trip, she begins to come out of her shell to embrace life.

Written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by her cousin Jillian Tamaki, This One Summer is a coming of age story about Rose and Windy, neighbors at a summer rental community. Rose is trying to navigate her mother’s depression and her interest in the boys who hang out at the small store where they rent horror movies. Windy, a few years younger, is still a bit silly but understands more about adults than she lets on.

Any other suggestions?

— Jess

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Read Harder: Vol. 3

This year, I plan on chronicling my adventures with Book Riot’s 2016 Read Harder Challenge.

It’s always tough to talk about the third book in a series without giving away anything important, but I’m going to do my best. I flailed a bit about Pierce Brown‘s Red Rising about two years ago and it ended up being one of my favorite books that year. The overly simplified recap?  The series is set on Mars. Our hero, Darrow, is pulled up from his slave existence and sent to infiltrate high-society to spark a revolution.

In Morning Star, the revolution has spread far beyond Darrow’s spy games to a complete uprising, with most of the low-colors in the caste system warily banding together to overthrow the ruling Golds. Brown has expanded his toying with Greek and Roman mythology to include Norse legends and mythology – including a valiant warrior named Ragnar, his shield-maiden sister Sefi, and a veritable army of Valkyries. The book is stuffed with rousing war speeches, space battles, and political maneuvers.  If Red Rising has shades of Ender’s Game and Golden Son is a bureaucratic chess game, Morning Star throws the two into a blender, and comes out with Battlestar Galactica (Starbuck and Darrow would definitely be friends).

If you are into this, then Morning Star is for you.

As for the reading challenge, this will cover you for:

  • Read a book over 500 pages – it clocks in at 518
  • Read a book about politics, in your country or another (fiction or non fiction) – a stretch, sure, but it works

— Jess

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Read Harder: Vol. 2

Print

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and Eleventh Stack are celebrating Black History Month by highlighting books, music and movies by African American Artists. We also have a ton of great events and programs for children, teens and adults. You can view all of our Black History Month posts here.

This year, I plan on chronicling my adventures with Book Riot’s 2016 Read Harder Challenge.

In Rita Williams-Garcia’s One Crazy Summer, Delphine and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, are heading to Oakland, California to spend a month with the mother they barely know. Cecile left them seven years ago for a new life as an artist and poet on the West Coast.

Oakland in 1968 is nothing like their California dreams of Disneyland, movie stars and days at the beach. Cecile has no interest in showing them the sights — her work with the printing press in the kitchen is far more important. Instead, every day Cecile sends the girls to a summer camp held at the community center run by the Black Panther Party. Delphine’s ordered world view is altered by the time spent learning about the fight for justice and her mother’s role in the Party.

This quick read sent me on a quest for more information about the Black Panther Party, and I can recommend Stanley Nelson‘s documentary The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution.

For those following along with the Read Harder challenge, One Crazy Summer will help you cover the “Read a middle grade novel” and “Read the first book in a series by a person of color.” You can follow more of Delphine’s adventures with P.S. Be Eleven and Gone Crazy in Alabama.

– Jess

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Read Harder: Vol. 1

This year, I plan on chronicling my adventures with Book Riot’s 2016 Read Harder Challenge.

Read a play

I thought, for a hot second, about re-reading something from my high school English classes. But then I remembered that I hated Hedda Gabler, and while I love Shakespeare, I just didn’t have it in me. I wanted something short and funny. Arsenic and Old Lace, maybe?

Written in 1939 by Joseph Kesselring, it opened in 1941 and ran for 1,444 performances. This dark comedy is centered around the Brewster family — our hero Mortimer, his two brothers and their spinster aunts. And aside from Mortimer, they’re all insane.

Teddy believes he is Panama Canal-era Theordore Roosevelt, digging locks in the basement. Jonathan has just had surgery to conceal his identity (he now looks like Boris Karloff and was, in fact, played by Karloff on stage) and is on the run with his alcoholic doctor. The dear, sweet aunts have taken to murdering elderly gentlemen by offering them a bit of company and a glass of home-made elderberry wine laced with arsenic, strychnine, and “just a pinch” of cyanide. Poor Mortimer just wants to get married.

If farce and dark comedy is your jam, I can’t recommend this enough. And check out the movie, directed by Frank Capra; it stars Cary Grant as Mortimer and Peter Lorre as the surgeon, Dr. Einstein. I saw it as a kid and I think it informed my sense of humor as much as any Muppets or Mel Brooks movie.

— Jess

 

 

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Cookie Time

I like to bake. I’m pretty okay at it. I’m far better at everything tasting the way it should than it being pretty (I’ll never be a cake decorator); it’s a good thing that cookies are pretty forgiving.

I spent last Friday with the oven cranked to 350 and worked on my holiday cookie stash. Chocolate chip, snickerdoodles, those peanut butter guys with the Hershey’s Kiss smooshed in and I got my first lesson in nut roll.

This book is going on my to-buy list. Baker Ellen Jackson has a great collection of cookies we all know and love, with ‘twist’ options for each recipe. I tried the Snickerdoodles, and they are the best I’ve ever made. They didn’t go flat and still have a little bit of chew.

I know a lot of people swear by this one (our Melissa M. included). Betty is often my go-to when I need something reliable.

I haven’t used this one, but it comes recommended by one of the Woods Run patrons.  It’s filled with recipes that have won or earned honorable mentions in the Chicago Tribune’s annual contest. Our patron loved the apricot cookies!

Our family nut roll recipe? It’s from the June 2, 1988 issue of the Post-Gazette. We add a bit of honey and the filling is divided for the three rolls using the technical measurement system of Corelle teacups (the Spring Meadow set that many, like my mother, received for a wedding gift in 1979/1980, if we’re being precise).

— Jess

PS – Is anyone else obsessed with The Great British Baking ShowPaul Hollywood and Mary Berry are my new heroes.

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Red Sweaters

We don’t feature Children’s stuff on here often (check out our friends at Story Pockets!) but every now and then, something comes along that we just can’t pass up.

As some of you may know, a few years ago the wonderful folks at the Fred Rogers Company developed a new show featuring the next generation of friends from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. I’ve seen a few episodes with my niece and nephew, and it is just as great as you’d expect.

In an upcoming episode of the adorable Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, one of the Red Sweater Kids pays a visit to the Carnegie Library to sign up for their first card. The Sweater Kids are featured at the end of each episode – exploring their Pittsburgh neighborhoods and interacting with neighbors in the same way that Fred Rogers did on the original Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

source: fredrogers.org

Good news – a few of our branches will be screening a preview of this special episode and will have some crafts on hand to enjoy after.

Saturday, November 14 (tomorrow!) at 11:00 am – Beechview

Saturday, November 28 at 11:00 am – Woods Run

Thursday, December 3 at 11:00 am – Mt. Washington

Friday, December 4 at 9:30 am – Downtown & Business

Wednesday, December 16 at 6:30 pm – Lawrenceville 

Saturday, December 19 at 10:30 am – West End 

So pull out your best red sweater and join us for some fun!

— Jess

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Turning in My Busy Merit Badge

I know that I’ve proudly claimed: “I’m one of those idiots who thrives on being busy!” We wear Being Busy and Stretched Thin like Girl Scout badges, almost defying friends and strangers to out-do our schedules (Work! School! Quality time with friends and family!). A recent piece from the Huffington Post — How Being Busy Makes You Unproductive — discusses how busyness and multi-tasking not only slows us down, but also how we use it to disguise fear of failure because doing something means we’re being productive. Not a great way to get through the day.

I wish there were an easy solution, but changing habits (or adding more hours to the day) is a tough task. Small things, though? Those help. Take a walk (attention fatigue is legit and a bit of nature is a great cure). Help us make flowers for the Pop des Fleurs project (Suzy will have more info soon!) or join any of our other awesome craft programs for a mental break. And of course, we have some great resources for figuring out how to slow it down and be a bit more mindful:

And now, a moment of zen …

Click through for source and more zen…

– Jess

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