Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom

Fiewel and Friends, 2017

 Gwendolyn Bloom isn't enjoying school today.  Being pointed out by "that girl" and her friends while everyone else laughs at you isn't what she planned or wanted.  But this is just another stop along the string of schools she has attended, which may or may not last long.  It's on days like this she wishes her mother was there, but she can't be.  When Gwendolyn was ten years old, her mother passed away. The memories she has of that day, filled with terror and confusion, won't stop.

Her father, who is a foreign diplomat, has taken Gwendolyn around the world.  New York is the current place they call home.  Without a mother, her father is the only parent she has and she treasures that.  But one evening, after coming home, her father isn't there....nor the next night...and Gwendolyn keeps waiting. Eventually she is taken in by the older Jewish couple in loco parentis until her father shows up. And things take a turn....

One day, while Gwendolyn is alone in her apartment, a knock is heard.  Behind it are men in black searching for her father, but also through his papers and computers, asking her what he's told her about his job.  They're from the US government and for the first time, Gwendolyn is realizes what her father does.  The men looking for him are wondering is he still a spy for them or has he defected? The last known place in Europe he was detected was recorded before he went off the grid.

With only a scrap of information Gwendolyn stops at nothing to find her father.  With some help, she begins training in krav maga with a Mossad agent before getting entangled in the dark and dirty world of racketeers, arms smuggling and human trafficking.  One clue leads to another. Gwendolyn knows she's running out of time...unless it's already too late.

This book goes from zero to 100+ quickly.  The reader's emotions for the main character jumps for empathy to encouragement to excitement as they see her morph and change into someone who will pull out all the stops.  The dark world of criminals makes a large nod in this novel including introducing minor characters, all victims of human trafficking.  It's not sugar coated, but it isn't gratuitously graphic is nature either.  Teens reading this book may begin to connect with what's happening in the real world and see a larger picture.  Although others may see the rising action as a tad unbelievable, I enjoyed every page.  It reads like a Jason Bourne novel, only with a kick a** female character.  Recommended for upper JH/HS

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Coloring in the Lines: Searching for Copyright Friendly on the Web

Here's a presentation I'll be doing at a pre-conference for copyright at TxLA 2017.
The slides all have a link on them so you can click on a slide to see more.  I'm working with some stellar people, including Kevin Smith, Gretchen McCord, Stephanie Towery and Deidre McDonald.  If you can't make it, I can share my portion of it :)  Happy conferencing!!
Here's the link to open it in Google Slides

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Conference Season Is HERE!

April is the month when librarians, educators, administrators, and many many more amazing people convene for the annual Texas Library Association annual conference April 19-22.  The size of the conference is amazing, with thousands of professionals, authors, speakers, publishers, techies (and some that are all of these!) and more learn, network and present for five days of library nirvana......I can't wait!!  This year, it is in San Antonio, Texas, so here are some tips before starting off conference that'll make it even more amazing.

This year's theme is "Own Your Profession" and these next few tips will help you own it like an expert conference attendee!

1. Make your schedule now.  Don't wait until you get there and are handed a conference scheduler.  Do it now so you can really see what you'd like without having to flip pages in your hotel room.  The conference schedule is online (and yes, it includes pictures of speakers) and shows everything that is being presented.  Best of all?  Use the control+F function to search key words, speakers, events, and more to really target your learning experience.  Here's the link to the schedule

2. There always seems to be a race to the exhibit halls when they open, so be prepared ahead of time.  You usually receive a paper copy that includes coupons, but this year, you can actually download the guide with coupons to fill out early!  All you have to do is go to this link and request the PDF and you're on your way to preparedness on the exhibit floor.  (there's a tiny link below the major on that.  The big one is ALA.  Keep looking below that link :)

3. The San Antonio Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center has been updated, and you may want to see the meeting rooms and ballrooms layout to help you map out for an ultimateTxLA Conference experience. Here's the link to the convention center with tons of information, including getting there and parking. It's always good to know before you go!

What's a little professional development without some fun?  Try these out!

1. The Riverwalk is considered one of the top tourist destinations in the nation!  Don't know much about it?  Not to worry!  If you find a street near the Alamo with stairs leading downwards, more than likely it's to the Riverwalk.  Lots of amazing restaurants, full of culturas, you need to go, if only to walk around.  PLUS....the conference precedes Fiesta, so there are sure to be cool vendors selling fiesta items!!  Here's a link to the Riverwalk and everything that goes along with it

2. Back in the day, my husband and I, along with friends, would cross the border for a weekend out.  We'd go shopping, eat some amazing food, and get to experience hanging out in another country (which always sounded pretty cool!)  Alas, those days aren't quite as carefree, but since you're in San Antonio, you CAN experience Mexico in the city.  El Mercado (Market Square) reminds me of those days.  Lots of stalls where authentic Mexican wares are sold line up next to each other along with some tasty eateries.  They also have a cool indoor shopping area featuring Mexican wares, jewelry, art and eveything in between you should visit too.  It's a little ways from the Riverwalk, but worth the walk (or Uber or car drive or bus etc).  Here's the link to El Mercado

3. I didn't know about this until I stumbled onto an article about it and this year I'm going! There's a beautiful church called the San Fernando Cathedral and every week there is a light show about the history of San Antonio that happens on the building. It's about beauty, history, culture...and not to be missed!  Thank goodness none of the dates are cancelled during the TXLA conference.  This is a MUST SEE!  Here's the link to the San Antonio Plaza (not too far away from the Riverwalk at all!)

I'll see you there!!!

El Mercado:
San Fernando Cathedral: By Nan Palmero from San Antonio, TX, USA [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons