Monday, March 18, 2019

Book Review: Haphaven

     In my day I have seen lots and lots of graphic novels based on fairy tales, myths and legends of all kinds. Haphaven by Norm Harper is the first I ever remember seeing based on old superstitions.
     Alex Mills was raised by a very superstitious father. According to him, Alex is descended from the luckiest gambler who ever lived - or at least, he was lucky until his luck ran out and he rode off into the sunset to find Lady Luck herself. Family legend says not only did he find her, but married her and lived happily every after.
    When Alex's dad dies suddenly in a bad car accident Alex becomes obsessed with following all of his superstitions to the letter. until the day she has a fight with her mother and deliberately steps on a crack.
     Sure enough, stepping on the crack breaks her mother's back, so Alex decides she needs to set out to find Lady Luck to try to get her mom help. As she sets out on this adventure, Alex meets a leprechaun who takes her to the land of Haphaven, the place superstitions originate from. While there, she meets a real-life Jinx, a girl named Penny with a reputation for turning luck around, a black cat you REALLY don't want to cross, and is told she needs to find a lucky rabbit's foot in order to help her mom. Of course, everyone fails to tell Alex, the foot is still very much attached to a very much alive rabbit.
     Beautiful artwork, a but-kicking biracial heroine, and a lot of heart plus a really unique take folklore and retellings makes this one a winner in my book! Appealing to older tweens and younger teens, this book lands on shelves tomorrow, March 19th. Pick it up for a fun and different read.

4/5 bookmarks.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Book Review: Yuri Bear Storm

I am still trying to process Yuri Bear Storm by Kunihiko Ikuhara. I have to admit, this one is weird even by the special standard for weird by which I judge anything from Japan. See if you can keep up with me here ok?
There are some high school girls.
Except only one of them is actually a girl.
All the other girls are bears, because EVERYONE on Earth is a bear, except for some reason our protagonist Kureha who is a human. Kureha is kind of psychic, and very plain, until... wait for it... she takes off her pony tail and glasses and turns out to be drop dead gorgeous.
Ginko, who Kureha is kind of obsessed with, is the head bear, but no one knows she is a bear EXCEPT Kureha because of the psychic thing - BUT even though Kureha is psychic she somehow does not realize that all the women in this series are lesbians (I mean, it's called YURI Bear Storm - so duh!)
Ginko's mother, who is a weirdo recluse artist having an affair with her own sister in law wants Ginko to kill and eat Kireha because.... that's what you do when you love someone! You cannibalize them!
Despite the fact that this is one of the most bonkers manga titles I have ever read, I still give it decently high marks on account of the character design being absolutely beautiful and the fanservice not being TOO fanservicey. (Though there is quite a lot of that, and these girls are, if you will recall, all 16-year old high school students).
Volume 1 is out now, Book 2 is scheduled to drop in early March.

3/5 bookmarks on sheer adorable weirdness alone.

Monday, January 28, 2019

3D Modeling for Teens - Featuring TinkerCad

3D printing is super cool.


It can also be an expensive hobby, and is still new enough technologically that you just don't see 3D printers very often. Where I live, the library is the one place in town where you can actually see one working live and in person, and while ours are not available for public use, they are available to use for programming, so I decided to introduce my teens to ours by getting them involved in designing their own items to print.

The only requirement to participate in the program was that the teens had to have an e-mail address (which most do for school, though some used a parent's e-mail) so that they could set up their own account on TinkerCad.

TinkerCad homepage as of January of 2019

For those who are not familiar, TinkerCad is a free, online Computer Aided Drafting program that allows anyone to create STL and OBJ files of three dimensional objects. These files can then be translated or "sliced" for use in 3D printers, allowing anyone to create their own designs of anything they want, really. The homepage looks like this:

Once you have created an account, the website has convenient and easy lessons that help you learn how the system works. For our program I went over a couple of these very briefly with the teens, but since most of them were accustomed to programs like Word and MS Publisher, we found it easier to just dive right in and learn through trial by error. TinkerCad has a fairly simple drag and drop interface, so the biggest hurdle faced by most of the teens was trying to think three-dimensionaly and to think about how their items would look in the real word once they were printed.

Teens working on their TinkerCad projects.
For our first session, we had 9 teens in attendance, and since the class only ran for an hour or so, only 4 of them were able to completely finish a project to their satisfaction. I downloaded these four projects to a USB and am currently in the process of printing them out for the teens to pick up at their leisure. I also created a Thingiverse profile for our teen department where we uploaded the projects under Creative Commons licensing so that others can then download and print them as well. The teens got a kick out of thinking other people could print their creations. 

The 4 finished creations we uploaded onto Thingiverse. The one on the bottom left had a mystery "floater" shape no one noticed before it was rendered. 

Monday, January 14, 2019

Book Review: You Can't Just Kiss Anyone You Want

This little gem has been out since 2017 but I just discovered it at the beginning of this year. Originally a European graphic novel, You Can't Just Kiss Anyone You Want by Marzena Sowa is only available in an e-book format in English at this time, and you can get it on Amazon.
I know, it looks like a kids book - but this story is definitely not for kids. Set in Stalin-era soviet Russia the story contains some harsh truths as seen through the eyes of a little boy, Viktor, who ties to kiss a cute girl during a movie. While being questioned about why he would do such a thing, Viktor's friends quickly begin to turn on him, telling the adults in their world secrets that could bring down Viktor's family.
You see, Viktor's father is a writer, and he may have writings in his possession that are definitely not allowed by the government. As we peek into Viktor's family's life as well as the lives of his principal and most poignantly, his teacher, we see why in the Stalinist government, you REALLY can't just kiss anyone you want. 

Warning: while it is not graphically represented, there is a suggested rape/sexual assault in this work.

Giving it 3/5 bookmarks due to its heartbreaking story and beautiful artwork. It loses points for just plain being too short.

Monday, January 7, 2019

I'm Back... Kinda (Or, Why the Blog Has Been On Hiatus)

Well, it's been a while hasn't it? Just under 5 months, to be precise. I have good, and fairly valid reasons though - I promise.

First of all, I have been getting used to my new job in teen services, so that has taken me some time. Tied to that is the fact that one of the first tasks I had on my plate when I took the new job was to launch a teen blog for my library district. You can check it out at TeenXing, it's pretty good. We feature works by our teens as well as book reviews and program updates.

Not only has the new work stuff kept me busy, I have also been struggling with some pretty serious health issues over the past couple of months. I've been diagnosed with a couple of autoimmune disorders, I had a cancer scare, and both my fiance (Oh yeah! I GOT ENGAGED PEOPLE!) and future mother in law have been very ill as well.

To top it off one of my dearest friends passed away very suddenly just a few weeks ago, leaving behind two college age kids and a terminally ill wife, which was just really crushing to all those who knew and loved him. He loved my blog though and was one of the people who kept asking why I had stopped, so I am getting back on track in part for him.

New book reviews are coming, new programming posts are coming, and probably a few posts whining about how crappy I feel and why life is rough right now. Librarianship is still the best job ever though, and I am so glad to share this blog and all my crazy adventures with all of you.

See you in the stacks!