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Little Paper Hearts in Red, Pink, and Slimy Green

Whether you’re love sick, or sick of love, hopefully you’ve had the pleasure of laughing, crying or sighing over some sappy sweet book, or some ridiculous tale of love and adventure. I’m the Teen Coordinator and also a veteran storyteller, so Valentine’s Day books have crossed my desk and most of them are so sappy that my appetite for chocolate leaves by page three.   The most successful books for Valentine’s Day stories, in my experience, are funny unpredictable and only a little sweet. Books that subversively or subliminally infuse self confidence in a young reader are my favorite. I won’t mention my favorite YA love story here…. Please consider the following books if you want to give your Valentine’s Day a twist this year.

This list is for pre-K through Elementary!


I Loathe You written and illustrated by David Slonim If you love the Sam McBratney classic Guess How Much I Love You, it will be easy to see the humor of this book. Big Monster loathes so much about Little Monster- more than chicken pox, mosquito bites, and fuzzy mold on cheese. And this is a good thing! Monsters loathe instead of love. All of these declarations are in a couplet rhyme scheme that encourages the listener to predict the next word. The water color illustrations are adorably expressive. It’s never been so good to be loathed. (Pre-K- First Grade)


Movies You Might Have Missed

If you are looking for some new movies to watch, try some of my picks for movies you might have missed. You can find all of these in our DVD collection!

The Fall (2006)

In a hospital on the outskirts of 1920s Los Angeles, an injured stuntman begins to tell a fellow patient, a little girl with a broken arm, a fantastic story of five mythical heroes. Thanks to his fractured state of mind and her vivid imagination, the line between fiction and reality blurs as the tale advances.

Starring: Lee Pace, Catinca Untaru, Justine Waddell


Author Contest: Bringing YA To You!

Help Shreve Memorial Library win a contest to bring FIVE bestselling Young Adult authors for a Q&A panel, a book signing, swag, and more!

Maria Lu (Legend, Prodigy)

Marissa Meyer (Cinder, Scarlett)

Beth Revis (Across the Universe, A Million Suns, and Shades of Earth)

Victoria Schwab (The Near Witch and The Archived)

Megan Shepherd (The Madman's Daughter)

We are definitely in the running at 6th place, up from 9th place last week! All you have to do is vote at:

Simply click on CONTEST to vote, enter Shreveport, LA as the city you would like to win, and Shreve Memorial Library as the specific place you would like the authors to visit. You will also need to enter your name and email address. Please only enter once, as duplicate votes will be thrown out.


Book Review: The Big Muddy: An Environmental History of the Mississippi and Its Peoples from Hernando de Soto to Hurricane Katrina

The Big Muddy: An Environmental History of the Mississippi and Its Peoples from Hernando de Soto to Hurricane Katrina  (Oxford University Press) by Christopher Morris is a sweeping history of man and nature in the lower Mississippi Valley. Morris examines how people from hunter-gatherers to contemporary Americans viewed this landscape and acted on their respective visions. It is an ambitious book based on sources in several languages and multiple disciplines including history, science, archaeology and economics. This wide-ranging material is incorporated into a plain-English study grounded in centuries of personal experiences. I love this book.  


Book Review: Le Grand Meaulnes

grandmeaulnesAwww, man! I loved Le Grand Meaulnes. I'd say it's the best book I've read all year, but I guess I don't have much with which to compare it. I don’t remember exactly where I came across it, but I think it might have been in the introduction to John Fowles’s The Magus. He listed Le Grand Meaulnes as an influence. What’s funny is that so far, I’ve tl;dr-ed The Magus because it’s so long (though I don’t think I can hold it off for much longer), but I’d heard of Le Grand Meaulnes somewhere else, too, and the Goodreads blurb sounded intriguing, so I figured I’d look it up.

And boy was I impressed. I enjoyed every minute of this one.

It’s basically a French coming-of-age novel set in the 1890s and very early 20th century. The narrator, Francois, meets Meaulnes, at school. Both are roughly seventeen. One day, Meaulnes runs off and gets lost in the countryside, where he finds this grand estate and crashes a wedding party. The whole thing seems magical, sprinkled with fairy dust. While he’s there, he meets the most beautiful woman he could imagine. The party ends abruptly, and he’s forced to leave without seeing her again. He returns to school but becomes obsessed with finding her. He tells Francois his story, and both boys work to discover clues about the estate’s location (the English translation I read is titled The Lost Estate) and what happened to the girl.

Oh, it was so good, and it’s clear how it influenced several novels I’ve read, probably including Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Alain-Fournier’s story is amazing, and I was lucky enough to stumble upon a good translation. That makes all the difference. Le Grand Meaulnes really makes me want to dig in to The Magus to see the influence.


Christmas Movies for Toddlers

rugratsThere are only a few days left to watch Christmas movies before the big day so here are the ones we have been watching at my house. Dora’s Christmas Carol Adventure: One day my daughter came home from preschool and kept going on and on about a fox named Swiper who was “on the naughty list”. I had no idea who Swiper was, but apparently he was going to swipe all of our Christmas presents and my daughter seemed very concerned. I did a quick Google search to find out who this nefarious character was and I discovered he was on Dora. I checked out a copy to watch at home since Swiper had made such an impression and it was really cute. My daughter’s concerns were valid; Swiper was a naughty fox, indeed. Luckily, Dora and her friends help teach him a lesson. We also enjoyed some old classics like Santa Claus is Comin' to Town and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I wasn’t sure if the Winter Warlock and the Abominable Snowman would be too scary for a 2-year-old, but once she saw their softer sides they became her favorite parts of the movies. I was super excited to watch Rugrats: Turkey and Mistletoe. I actually checked this one out for myself since I grew up on Nickelodeon, but it was an added bonus that my daughters also loved it. Other favorites were: Strawberry Shortcake: Berry Merry Christmas Peanuts: Snow Days, and  Mickey Saves Santa .

Movie Review: The Hobbit

The_hobbitThis weekend, the husband and I went to see The Hobbit. I'd been looking forward to it since I heard it was being made, as I'm a huge fan of J.R.R. Tolkien. I've read The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings multiple times, and I love the Lord of the Rings movies.

So I was excited! We went to the earliest Sunday matinee to try and avoid what we figured would be ridiculous crowds (The Hobbit made by far the most money over the weekend), and it worked! There were very few people in the theater. That also might have had something to do with our choosing to see the old-school non-3D, 24 frames per second version instead of the new, fancy one. 3D gives the husband headaches, and I've heard that the higher frame rate looks weird and jumpy. From lots of comments I've seen on social networks, we made the right choice.

If nothing else, The Hobbit is a pretty movie. As I expected, it was very well-made (I guess it had to be for all of the money they spent on it). The whole movie (okay, three movies) is a flashback from the day of Bilbo's 111th birthday party, the same day that Lord of the Rings begins. (Which, of course, is not the same day on which the novel begins.) It was nice, though unnecessary, to see Frodo and the familiar older version of Bilbo. Most other throwbacks to the Lord of the Rings movies were exactly the same, too, which lands you back in the same world in which you've already spent nine hours.

And prepare yourself for nine hours more! Because Peter Jackson saw fit to split The Hobbit, a book not half the length of any of the three Lord of the Rings books, into three movies, which I think is entirely ridiculous. Here's what I didn't like about this movie: they expanded and moved around storylines to fill the (almost) three hours. I was convinced that they'd entirely invented characters and scenes, but a friend who had very recently read The Hobbit corrected me: they just made a big deal out of something merely mentioned by Tolkien. For those of you who have read the novel, I won't ruin the surprise(s).

Overall, I think The Hobbit is a good movie. It's certainly worth seeing, whether or not you've read the book. In fact, I think you'll enjoy it more if you haven't read the book, as the discrepancies I mentioned earlier won't bother you. If you have read the book, I'm sure you're already chomping at the bit to see the movie, and as long as you're not picky about every little plot point (like I guess I am), you should thoroughly enjoy it.


Learning a few...

More BBC action, actually, it really is action-ish.

So, I trolled through the catalog looking for BBC produced shows that I might not have seen or even be aware of, and low and behold, there was one. Oh, it’s not Downton Abbey; although, that does have some action. And, no, it’s not one of the Doctor Who spin-offs; again, action is present. This is actually something in the somewhat here and somewhat now: New Tricks.

During a high profile bust, a well-respected Det. Supt. Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redman) shoots the wrong dog; actually, it wouldn’t matter if it was the right or the wrong dog. She shot a dog, becoming the focus of some very bad press. To find her way back into the good graces and possible back on track to a more prestigious career, the detective takes on a project that is expected to be a very lost cause.

She heads a team of consultants containing three older and retired inspectors, who each have personal issues:

  • Gerry Standing (Dennis Waterman) – a man with three wives and possibly looking for one more, or maybe just a good time.
  • Brian Lane (Alun Armstrong) – a fellow trying to free himself from the past and to regain his good name.
  • Jack Halford (James Bolam) – a recent widower and Sandra’s old boss and mentor, Sandra’s new employee.

The team is created to handle cold cases and hopefully drum up good press for the local police department. It’s a long shot, but somehow our new team with all its personal and professional baggage begins to solve old cases and get a few new ones. Whatever the cases it is usually one deemed beyond or beneath the “normal” police’s scope.

The title of the series has the obvious meaning of “Teaching old dog new tricks,” the old dogs being the three retired detectives turned consultants. They learn new technology and procedures, but they aren’t the only ones learning new tricks. Sandra learns more than a few tricks from the old guard police detectives; sure, those tricks seem outdated, but they work. While they solve cases, they also begin to deal with their baggage, bit by bit, helping each other out and growing.

This is a long-ish running show, starting in 2003, so there’s a good bit to see. Unlike some BBC shows that are either new, short lives, or just plain short. After the first series (season), the series run for about eight to ten episodes. So, it’s not too short, and it’s not too long. Then again, for me that’s just enough to get interest and still want more without wondering when will it ever end? Though, if I’m wondering that, I probably shouldn’t be watching.

So, take a peek at this group of interesting characters who solve crimes and life problems, as well as give a giggle on more than one occasion. Why not start here with the first series?



Book Review: Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner

absalomNow, here's a hard one to write about. It's also my favorite book so far this year, though I'm sure this review will in no way reflect that, as I tend to make my favorite books sound like I (should) hate them. Anyway.

Along with being my favorite, Absalom, Absalom! is also the most difficult book I've read in a long time. I'd rank it up there with Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses or Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Autumn of the Patriarch - or Faulkner's own The Sound and the Fury, for that matter. The story is jumbled in a similar way, at least.

It's set in Yoknapatawpha County, as most of Faulkner's novels are. Thomas Sutpen, a man with no clear past but who is determined to make a name for himself, to make himself East Egg when he's really a West Egger - and he doesn't even have the money yet. (Get the reference? More on that in a minute.) He's also determined to have a son to inherit the vast wealth he plans to accrue. Sutpen's actions destroy his family and those of others with which he becomes involved. Which is not a spoiler because I'm pretty sure you learn all of that in the first five pages, or so, if you're paying attention.

And this novel requires a lot of attention.

If you're up for a battle, this is your book. It doesn't have that much to do with Faulkner's other novels, though most of it is narrated by Quentin Compson, who you might recognize from The Sound and the Fury. It does, though, deal with one of his favorite subjects, decaying southern families. Like the Compsons.

One of my high school teachers had a master's degree in English. Her thesis was on the American Dream in Absalom, Absalom! and The Great Gatsby (get the earlier reference now?). Somehow, I had never read Absalom, Absalom!, but I wondered for years what a Faulkner novel could have to do with Gatsby. A few pages in, and it's obvious: Sutpen is trying to fulfill Ye Olde American Dream, and the result is disastrous. Read both novels (if you haven't already), and think about it.

To summarize: If you want a challenge, get a copy of Absalom, Absalom!, and settle down for a long, intense read. It's totally worth it.

Check it out!


Music Review: A Tear in the Eye is a Wound in the Heart by Black Prairie

Artist: Black Prairie

Title: A Tear in the Eye is a Wound in the Heart

Sugar Hill, 2012

A Tear in the Eye is a Wound in the Heart is the current release from Portland, Oregon’s Black Prairie.

Black Prairie is comprised of 3/5 of The Decemberists (Chris Funk, Nate Query, and Jenny Conlee) along with Jon Neufield and Annalisa Tornfelt.  Shreve Memorial Library offers three albums from The Decemberists in case you are not familiar with their music.  However, Black Prairie is a completely different band and sound. 

Americana-fusion is how I would best describe this album. Mixing elements of bluegrass, jazz, klezmer, and folk, the originality of Black Prairie is both refreshing and creative. Acoustic guitar, dobro, accordion, and violin comprise most of the instrumentation heard throughout the album, and the playing is phenomenal! Each and every instrument shines throughout. My personal favorite is the violin and vocal performance of Tornfelt.

I immediately knew I would enjoy this album when I saw the song title “For the Love of John Hartford”. Sure enough, this instrumental named for the late, great master of Americana music is a perfect tribute. Another song entitled “Richard Manuel” respectfully pays homage to the late multi-instrumentalist of The Band.

You can find this album at the Belcher, Cedar Grove/Line Avenue, and Main libraries. Check it out or place a hold today.


Earth Unaware by Orson Scott Card

Earth UnawareEarth Unaware is the latest book in the Ender’s Game series by Orson Scott Card. The story takes place 100 years before the award-winning 1985 novel. I’m a huge fan of Ender’s Game. The first time I read it, I fell in love with the main character,  Ender Wiggin. If you haven’t read it, go get it. It’s still in my all-time top 5. You may have heard the buzz about the film adaptation of the book coming out next year. For Ender’s Game fans, it’s been a long time in the making. Again, read Ender’s Game.

Since that first novel, Card has expanded the universe, writing 12 novels. The story centers on the interactions between humans and ant-like aliens known as Buggers, or the Formic. Over many years and wars, the two civilizations struggle to destroy each other. The series is written out of chronological order, taking readers from one end of time and space to another. For me, Ender’s Game has always been the best.

Earth Unaware is the 13th novel and first book in a new prequel series. The series focuses on the start of the first Formic War. This prequel doesn’t include the main character from the other novels, Ender, who hasn’t been born yet. Instead, you have the crew from the old independent mining space ship El Cavador and a slick new Jukes corporate mining ship. These two mining ships find themselves in competition for the same territory. Meanwhile, something large and moving impossibly fast is moving toward them and in the direction of Earth.

I enjoyed immersing myself in the mining culture, the tech, and the frontier lifestyle of those living and working on the edge of the solar system. However, as a follow-up book to one of my favorite books of all time, it seemed a little weak. First, Ender Wiggin is nowhere in sight. For me, that’s like making a Bond movie without James Bond. Second, there were some great characters introduced in the novel, but there was very little character development.

However, this is just the first of a new prequel series. I have high hopes for the next novel, Earth Afire, due out in June of 2013.


Book Review: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

penumbraMr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is another departure from my usual reading habits. But it's about books! you say. Yes, but it's also a thriller, of sorts, in a bestseller-y sort of way. And I absolutely loved it.

It's about a bookstore clerk named Clay Jannon, who notices strange patterns as he works: people occasionally wander into the bookstore to buy books from the front. Much more often, regular patrons come in and ask for a specific text, written in code, and returning another book in exchange for it. Clay becomes curious and makes a 3D model of the store on his computer, eventually keeping track of who checks out what. Enthralled by the visual pattern, he enlists the help of a Google employee who uses their vast computer network to analyze the pattern. Then Things Get Interesting.

This novel isn't really what I expected. In fact, when I wasn't even halfway through, I gave a copy to a coworker. Then it got pretty technical (Google scanning, etc), and I was like, Oh noes! It's too technical! She won't like it! Which, according to her, wasn't the case, but she was probably just being nice.

Which doesn't mean that Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore isn't awesome. 'Cause it is. It's just for people interested in books and technology, or at least people who like books and aren't entirely technologically illiterate. It was definitely a fun read, and I'll look forward to more from Robin Sloan in the future.

December 8: Xmas Under Da Ground

Call to Filmmakers ~ x-mas under da ground 2012What is Xmas Under Da Ground you ask?

Every two years, minicine? celebrates local film, music and art in an open all-inclusive holiday blow out exhibition! This year the response has been through the roof (look out Santa) and the event will expand into two buildings! In addition to the fact that over 30 filmmakers responded to the call for short films, there will be over 30 visual artists exhibiting in the gallery, and up to nine live music performances. Catering will be provided by GoGreenly and minicine? pot-luck!

The event is Saturday, December 8th from 7-11pm. The event is free and open to all ages. @ 846 & 852 Texas Ave.


Music Review: Every Kingdom by Ben Howard

Artist: Ben Howard

Title: Every Kingdom

Island Records, 2011

I had never heard of Ben Howard before checking out Every Kingdom from the library. I have now had his music on near-constant rotation for the last two weeks.

Howard, a singer-songwriter from the UK, wears his influences on his sleeve. At times reminding me of Nick Drake, Mumford & Sons, and even Jack Johnson, Howard successfully establishes his own unique sound.

Every Kingdom is the perfect album to put on at the end of the day. Relax and listen to the beauty of these songs. Howard’s excellent vocals and acoustic guitar along with cello and percussion create just the right atmosphere.

In my opinion, the standout tracks are “Old Pine”, “The Wolves”, “Only Love”, and “Keep Your Head Up”.

Every Kingdom is available from the David Raines and Hosston branches of Shreve Memorial Library. Check it out or place your hold today to enjoy some quality acoustic music.


Book Review: Skylark by Desző Kosztolányi

SkylarkI ran across Skylark in a post on one of my favorite book blogs, Literary Trashcan. (Okay, it’s really just a Tumblr in which this guy posts books, art, etc, that he finds interesting. I guess I think it’s interesting, too.) It’s a short Hungarian novel by Desző Kosztolányi, whose name I had to copy and paste and couldn’t pronounce if my life depended on it. But that’s neither here nor there.

It’s about two older parents and their 30ish-year-old spinster daughter, Skylark, who lives with them and takes care of them. They adore her and let her run the house. A family member invites them to his house in the country, and only Skylark goes, leaving her parents to fend for themselves for a week. At first, they miss Skylark terribly and appreciate all of the things she does for them. Then, eating out instead of eating Skylark’s cooking, they begin to rejoin their social circle at restaurants. They discover that life without Skylark isn’t so bad, after all, and that they can have lives of their own that aren’t totally overrun by her world.

Oh, I loved this book. It’s another one that I enjoyed the act of reading. The translation is beautiful and readable, and it’s a good book. I don’t really have much to say about it beyond that, but you should definitely check it out. It’s well worth your time.

SML doesn't have this one, but the Louisiana State Library does, so you can use interlibrary loan to get it.


Book Review: 12.21 by Dustin Thomason

122112.21 isn’t my usual kind of book: it’s the bestseller-y, Da Vinci Code type. (That said, I liked The Da Vinci Code.) I usually stick with established novels – or, at least, established authors.12.21 kept popping up on my radar, and I’d just read Hard Times and was in the mood for something lighter. And lighter it is, though it’s not what I expected. Which was hardcore disaster fun. Like The World Is Ending! California Is Falling into the Ocean! Run! Except it’s not, and I’m not sure that I’m not just a little disappointed.

It’s about a major pandemic. Some kind of virus is going around that causes insomnia. After a few days, those affected go crazy for lack of sleep. There are all kinds of theories about how it spreads, but they finally figure out that it’s airborne. Then, to find the cause! Which ties into the whole The World Is Ending on 12/21/12! because The Mayan Calendar Is Over, and We Don’t Know What That Means! thing. So some characters head down to South America to find out what’s going on. Then, Things Continue to Happen.

I must admit that I was skeptical, simply because this is the bestseller thriller type, and I never think I’ll like those. In fact, The Da Vinci Code might be the only one I’ve read, so maybe I shouldn’t be so biased against them. Anyway, 12.21 is a good read if you’re looking for something light and fun. I read through it really quickly, as I had a really hard time putting it down. If nothing else, you’ll be entertained for a few hours.

Check it out!


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