Beat the Summertime Traveling Blues

It is summer time, and you know what that means: It is time for family vacations and road trips!

Don’t let the normal travel stress eat away at family bonding time. If you are tired of arguments over what radio station to listen to or need to distract the kids from wondering if you’re there yet, why not borrow an audio book to make a long journey fly by?

Can’t agree on an audio book? Then let everyone choose their own e-book!  With over 1,000,000 titles available through 28,000 library branches, Overdrive really has something for everyone. So prepare for a trip to Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ with one of the Harry Potter audio books. Or find the latest beach read to carry in your pocket with Overdrive’s app. With Overdrive, “The Library Comes to You.”


Overdrive. (n.d.). Retrieved from:


*This is not a sponsored post. This post is part of an assignment to help library students learn marketing skills that are vital to establishing public awareness for the programs and materials public libraries offer.*

23 Books For Your Perfect Young Adult Summer Reading List

23 Books For Your Perfect Young Adult Summer Reading List

As I sit at my computer it is currently 27° Fahrenheit, and there is ice falling from the heavens. Needless to say, I would love to be lying on a beach with my toes in the sand with a really good book. But instead I’ve got the second best thing: I’m cuddled on the couch with a fluffy blanket and a kitty on my lap. But while I’m wishing for a summer vacation I decided to peruse some summer reading lists online, and I couldn’t help but share this one. If any of you are feeling like me right now, why don’t you take a look at this reading list and see if something jumps out at you. Who says we need a beach and warm weather to enjoy a good book? 😉

The Book Thief


Book Summary:

Liesel is a young girl living in Germany during WWII with her foster parents Hans and Rosa Hubermann. She never intended to become a book thief, but when Liesel’s mother could no longer keep her and her brother she arranged for them to go to a foster family. However, Leisel’s little brother does not survive the trip and his death traumatizes Liesel. It’s on the day she buried her little brother that she steals her first book, and through it she bonds with her foster father as he teaches her to read late into the night. But life during World War II isn’t easy and as Liesel gets older she begins to understand the weight of Hitler and of the world.

APA Reference of Book:

Zusak, M. (2005). The book thief. New York, NY: Random House.


This was an emotional read. Since I used to work in a bookstore (RIP Borders) I understand that there are a few books that really get people buzzing. Person after person who read this book would tell me how it was a life-changing read, that I absolutely must drop everything and read it instantly. With books like that I tend to take the recommendations with a grain of salt, because surely something so overhyped would just let me down. But I generally put the books on my to-read list and figure I’ll give them a chance. After all, not all buzz worthy books turn into the Twilight franchise. So when this title showed up on the reading list for one of my classes, and I got news of the upcoming movie release the stars seemed to finally align. As I sat down to read it I don’t know what I expected but this book was certainly not it. For one, Death (!) narrates the book. That was the last thing in the world I ever expected upon opening it up, and I was surprised that in all the times I had this book suggested to me no one ever let that fact slip.  But Death as the narrator didn’t deter me so I kept on. I will have to say that I didn’t get into this book easily. I found Death’s narration to be very disjointed and jerky, especially at first. But as I made it past the first 50 pages and finally got into the book I found myself captivated.  I have to give it to Mr. Zusak, he wrote a good book. A book about WWII is rarely a happy one, so a book about WWII that has Death as a narrator should send out some warning signs. But oh is this book worth it!

I have studied world cultures and history (especially European history) extensively, even traveling to Europe to do so, and this book transported me to the cobble stone streets of Germany once more. It is one thing to read about the Holocaust from the perspective inside the concentration camps (see Playing for Time by Fania Fenelon or Night by Elie Wiesel if you’d like to read more), but for me it was interesting to see an historical, albeit fictitious, take on the children growing up in a world with disintegrating morals. It was interesting to see how Leisel goes from believing that Hitler is great to understanding the impact his actions are having on the people she loves.

Professional Review:

“This hefty volume is an achievement—a challenging book in both length and subject, and best suited to sophisticated older readers. The narrator is Death himself, a companionable if sarcastic fellow, who travels the globe “handing souls to the conveyor belt of eternity.” Death keeps plenty busy during the course of this WWII tale, even though Zusak (I Am the Messenger ) works in miniature, focusing on the lives of ordinary Germans in a small town outside Munich. Liesel Meminger, the book thief, is nine when she pockets The Gravedigger’s Handbook , found in a snowy cemetery after her little brother’s funeral. Liesel’s father—a “Kommunist”—is already missing when her mother hands her into the care of the Hubermanns. Rosa Hubermann has a sharp tongue, but Hans has eyes “made of kindness.” He helps Liesel overcome her nightmares by teaching her to read late at night. Hans is haunted himself, by the Jewish soldier who saved his life during WWI. His promise to repay that debt comes due when the man’s son, Max, shows up on his doorstep. This “small story,” as Death calls it, threads together gem-like scenes of the fates of families in this tight community, and is punctuated by Max’s affecting, primitive artwork rendered on painted-over pages from Mein Kampf. Death also directly addresses readers in frequent asides; Zusak’s playfulness with language leavens the horror and makes the theme even more resonant—words can save your life. As a storyteller, Death has a bad habit of forecasting (“I’m spoiling the ending,” he admits halfway through his tale). It’s a measure of how successfully Zusak has humanized these characters that even though we know they are doomed, it’s no less devastating when Death finally reaches them. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) “

(2006, January 30). [Review of the book The book thief, by M. Zusak]. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from:

Library Uses:

I personally feel that this book lends itself to a book talk quite nicely. I would use this book to give a book talk in April leading up to Holocaust Remembrance day (Yom HaShoah).

Module 5: Before We Were Free


Book Summary:

Anita de la Torre is a young girl living with her family in 1960s Dominican Republic. She has never really questioned the happy life she shares with her family on their compound until one by one her family starts disappearing to America. As Anita begins paying attention, she notices that he family is becoming more and more secretive, suddenly there are rules where there didn’t used to be, and everyone seems worried. Over time life gets very difficult for the de la Torre as they fight to be free from an oppressive dictatorship. Anita’s family risks everything, including their lives, for the freedom of their people.

APA Reference of Book:

Alvarez, J. (2002). Before we were free. New York, NY: A. Knopf.


I have not had much exposure to literature from the Latino culture, so I was excited to pick this Pura Belpré Award winner up.  I found this book to be wonderfully written and an enjoyable read. As I have never grown up knowing anything other than freedom, the story of a girl living under the oppressive dictator was simultaneously enlightening and devastating. I loved how believable the characters were. The story is narrated from a 12-year-olds perspective, and as such we get to see Anita’s first experiences with first love and true despair, her hope and her losses. Before We Were Free is a wonderful story that eloquently displays the Latino culture and really makes the reader think. It was truly a wonderful and enlightening story that made me laugh, cry, cringe and smile. I would highly recommend it, I think it has something to offer both kids and adults. I’ve read so much about the lives of people in WWII (both fiction and non-fiction) but it amazes me that I’ve waited so long to branch out into other cultures. The author based the book on her family’s experiences living in the Dominican Republic in the 1960s and it really helped open my eyes to other oppressive societies and what the people go through.

Professional Review:

“In her first YA novel, Alvarez (How the García Girls Lost Their Accents) proves as gifted at writing for adolescents as she is for adults. Here she brings her warmth, sensitivity and eye for detail to a volatile setting—the Dominican Republic of her childhood, during the 1960–1961 attempt to overthrow Trujillo’s dictatorship. The story opens as 12-year-old narrator Anita watches her cousins, the García girls, abruptly leave for the U.S. with their parents; Anita’s own immediate family are now the only ones occupying the extended family’s compound. Alvarez relays the terrors of the Trujillo regime in a muted but unmistakable tone; for a while, Anita’s parents protect her (and, by extension, readers), both from the ruler’s criminal and even murderous ways and also from knowledge of their involvement in the planned coup d’état. The perspective remains securely Anita’s, and Alvarez’s pitch-perfect narration will immerse readers in Anita’s world. Her crush on the American boy next door is at first as important as knowing that the maid is almost certainly working for the secret police and spying on them; later, as Anita understands the implications of the adult remarks she overhears, her voice becomes anxious and the tension mounts. When the revolution fails, Anita’s father and uncle are immediately arrested, and she and her mother go underground, living in secret in their friends’ bedroom closet—a sequence the author renders with palpable suspense. Alvarez conveys the hopeful ending with as much passion as suffuses the tragedies that precede it. A stirring work of art. Ages 12-up. (Aug.)”

(2002, July 22). [Review of the book Before we were free, by J. Alvarez]. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from:

Library Uses:

I would use this book as part of a cultural series. I would feature several different books focusing on various cultures.

First Semester

I just finished my first grad school class, and if everything goes as planned I should have an A!

Everyone told me I was underestimating the amount of work that grad school would be, and maybe they were right, but I have felt pretty prepared. I worked almost my entire way through undergrad and then held two jobs post graduation. I am no stranger to working hard and balancing several things at once, but I am not going to lie, it is indeed a lot of work.

I decided to go ahead and dive into my program headfirst and signed up for a full summer load. I broke my schedule into a first session 5-week class, a 10-week class and then a second session 5-week class. That meant that I was able to take three classes while only have two classes at the same time. Best idea ever. Especially when my first session 5-week class turned out to be designed as a seminar. This meant that I would only have 3 weeks to do all of the course work that was meant for 5 weeks. But on the bright side, I now have two weeks until my next 5-week class begins to solely focus on one class.

I decided to take some liberties with my schedule this summer. There are three core classes to UNT’s MLIS program that you are supposed to take first. But I was warned over and over not to take them all together because the workload is too intense for most students. So I opted to take one core class and two electives. I have to say, I have been thrilled with my choice so far. I just completed a class that focused on graphic novels and comics as literature options for diverse populations. Absolutely brilliant. If any of you are going to UNT for MLIS I highly recommend this course, it will entirely change the way you think of comic books and graphic novels. Fair warning though, it is a lot of work. I am sure that it is more easily paced if taken during the fall or spring semester, but it is a beast during the summer. But seriously, everyone, take a risk, step out of your comfort zone, and slay the beast!

Deciding to Begin Again

I have decided to go back to school and get my Masters in Library and Information Sciences. The decision was a difficult one—as decisions like these always are—and I was filled to the brim with doubts and questions: Should I be a nurse instead? Should I give up my career and focus on school full-time or just take a couple of classes first and see how it goes?  And the biggest of all my questions; will I be able to make a new career for myself when I’m done?

Things are not easy right now, especially economically, and the statistics show there is not much growth projected for the library field. As Jana Varlejs says in her 2010 articled entitled Careers and Education in Library and Information Science; “Growth in librarian positions from 2006 to 2016 is projected at 4%, but at 8% for assistants and technicians. The explanation given for the disparity is anticipated budget constraints, more work shifted to support staff, and sufficient increased enrollment in library education programs to replace retirees” (p. 776).

Article after article I looked at said the same thing: librarians are on their way out. But I didn’t buy it, how could librarians be on their way out if so many people like myself still use libraries?  So instead of reading more articles, I decided to change my approach and go straight to the source. I began looking at the jobs out there in the library field several months before deciding to apply to grad school. From what I can tell, it looks like librarians as we know them are in fact on the decline. But that’s not to say there is no hope. Librarianship is just changing; it’s becoming more technological, more information driven.  What librarians do now may not be what you have in mind when you think about the profession. For that reason, if there is one thing I would suggest above all others for anyone considering a career as a librarian, it is to start looking at job postings NOW! Get a good idea of what it out there, what the job entails, where the jobs are located, and see if it is something you would actually want to do. If you still want to be a librarian after doing your research, great! Then find your dream job and look at what is required. Consider tailoring your education to meet the needs of the library.  Ask yourself what makes you special; what can you bring to the library? The sooner you answer these questions the better off you will be when looking for a job you love. A great job site that I have found is Cleverly titled “I Need a Library Job” they offer a comprehensive list of jobs by state for the United States and Canada.  Bookmark this page and visit back often.

And one more thing, getting job in a library might not happen right away so be prepared for that. But libraries almost always need help so get your good mojo flowing by volunteering. Do whatever they need; put books back on the shelves, make reminder phone calls, read a story to the children. Go get some experience and do a good deed in the process. There is hope fellow future librarians! Good luck!


Varlejs, J. (2010). Careers and education in library and information science. In M. J. Bates & M. N. Maack (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences. 3rd edition, Vol 1, 776-784. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.