Marysville Library Blog

Friday, December 30, 2011

Favorite Books of 2011

I like reading. Shocking, I know. I read widely, including children’s chapter books, teen books, fantasy, mysteries, historical fiction, literary fiction, histories and even romances. So when it comes time for the end of year lists, I can look back and find a lot of books that I really liked. I mean, if I start a book and I don’t like it after 50 pages, I drop it and go on to the next one. The problem is whittling the list of books I liked down to a manageable quantity. Of course, this is my own idiosyncratic list of books that I really liked. Take what you like:

The Sisters brothers by Patrick deWitt. A Western told from the bad guys’ perspective: When a frontier baron known as the Commodore orders Charlie and Eli Sisters, his hired gunslingers, to track down and kill a prospector named Herman Kermit Warm, the brothers journey from Oregon to San Francisco, and eventually to Warm's claim in the Sierra foothills, running into a witch, a bear, a dead Indian, a parlor of drunken floozies, and a gang of murderous fur trappers. If you like this, you’ll also like Ranchero by Rick Gavin.

When she woke by Hillary Jordan. In the future, abortion has become a crime as a series of events threatens the existence of the United States. One woman wakes up to discover that her skin color has been changed to red as punishment for having the procedure done. Now she must embark on a dangerous journey in order to find refuge from a hostile and threatening society. If you like Margaret Atwood, if you like science fiction that builds a believable future based on current events, this is for you.

Empire of the summer moon: Quanah Parker and the rise and fall of the Comanches, the most powerful Indian tribe in American history by Samuel C. Gwynne. If you like Westerns, read this to find out how it really was in the American West; a stunningly vivid historical account of the forty-year battle between Comanche Indians and white settlers for control of the American West, centering on Quanah, half-breed son of a kidnapped white Texan and the greatest Comanche chief of them all.

Beauty Queens by Libba Brae. When a plane carrying contestants for the Miss Teen Dream pageant crashes on a remote island, the survivors face greater challenges than just finding food, shelter, and missing cosmetics. Hilarious outlandishness combines with an examination of femininity and feminism, sex and sexuality, and our media-saturated, appearance-obsessed, consumer-driven society.

Blindness by José Saramago. A city is hit by an epidemic of "white blindness". The blindness spreads, sparing no one. Authorities confine the blind to a vacant mental hospital secured by armed guards. Inside, the criminal element among the blind hold the rest captive: food rations are stolen, women are raped. How much of our civilized society is based on our ability to see? Reminiscent of Camus and The lord of the flies.

The American heiress by Daisy Goodwin. Traveling abroad with her mother at the turn of the twentieth century to seek a titled husband, beautiful, rich and spoiled Cora Cash, whose family mansion in Newport dwarfs the Vanderbilts', quickly finds herself Duchess of Wareham, married to Ivo, the most eligible bachelor in England. Nothing is quite as it seems, however: Ivo is withdrawn and secretive, and the English social scene is full of traps and betrayals. If you like the world of Edith Wharton and Henry James, this one is for you. Historical romance fans will also enjoy the extension of the genre.

The other side of dark by Sarah Smith. Ever since Katie's mom died last year, she has seen ghosts; Law has overbearing parent issues, and they both become interested in a historical house due to be torn down with a possible slave-trader treasure hidden inside. I loved how complex the characters were while also exploring the complex legacy of slavery in the US. This is one of the few fantasies starring a biracial teen.

Wicked Autumn by G.M. Malliet. Agatha Christie or Dorothy Sayers, updated to the modern era: this is small town England with lots of quirky characters, from a retired spy serving as the vicar to the New Age shop-owner to the universally hated head of the Women’s Institute who ends up dead at the Village Harvest Fayre. The clues are all there, but the solution is still a surprise.

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson. After being sold to a cruel couple in New York City in spite of being promised her freedom, a slave named Isabel spies for the rebels and then the British during the Revolutionary War in a long effort to gain her freedom. She fully realizes the irony of the rebels’ cry for freedom while denying her the same thing. This my be marketed to teens, but is good for adult readers as well.

Invisible Inkling by Emily Jenkins. This mix of wild humor, fantasy, and sadness offers a moving story about defeating bullies. When his best friend moves away, Hank dreads fourth grade alone, and he is thrilled to discover a small, invisible creature, Inkling, who helps him face the lunchroom jungle. Hank can feel its fur and, even better, the two can talk, and together they stand up to the school bully. Was it because Inkling bites him or because Hank delivers a devastating insult? Good for elementary aged children.

These are my favorite reads of the year. What are yours?


Monday, December 12, 2011

Lego Animation Movie

On Saturday over 20 school-age kids got together for a Lego Animation program, taught by Lukas Allenbaugh of Clay Animation Network. They divided into 8 teams and after learning some basics about the technology and storytelling, and trying out a practice clip, they each made a mini movie. At the end, Lukas put them all together with music into a wonderful animated short. The kids were able to be very creative and they all laughed at each other’s humorous stories. Check it out!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

eResources at Your Fingertips, 24/7

As a busy working mom, I am always looking for things to make my to-do list easier. That’s why I always have the Sno-Isle Libraries website bookmarked on my phone and computer.
Within seconds, I have access to an astounding number of resources online. Like logging on to Consumer Reports Online while I’m trying to make a decision on a car seat for my toddler, or a picking out a new washing machine out of the too-many choices I’m staring at in the store. I can browse articles on health or research information from my recent doctor’s visit using Consumer Health Complete. Or I can look for a good book to read or the next title in my current series with Novelist Plus. All from the comfort of my home, or from a waiting room, or in line at the grocery store. Anywhere and anytime I have access to the internet, I have access to Sno-Isle’s eResources 24/7.
What’s better than saving time and money? Sharing your knowledge with your friends! That’s why I’m always sure to mention our HelpNow in our Homework Help section, which provides online live tutoring help, to my friends who have kids in school. Or letting friends who are travelling know about Mango Languages where they can learn a new language before their voyage—for free!
Because knowledge really is power, and so is your library card.

You can access the resources mentioned, as well as many other eResources by visiting, and clicking on Databases & Research. If you are accessing these from outside of the library, you’ll be asked to enter a valid library card # and PIN. If you have any questions, feel free to contact your local library.