Thursday, February 23, 2017

Mystery Annotation
Synopsis of The Cat Who Went Bananas
Jim Qwilleran is the columnist for the Moosehead County Something and lives in Pickax City with his Siamese cats, Koko and Yum Yum. There is a lot going on in this 27th book in the The Cat Who... series; the Pickax Theater Club is performing The Importance of Being Earnest starring a newcomer Alden Wade, Jim's longtime girl Polly is opening a new bookstore on an old landmark, and the heiress of the Hibbard House returns to the town. Several mysterious events occur during the story: Ronnie Dickson, who is playing in The Importance of Being Earnest, dies in a car crash supposedly under the influence of drugs even though people who know him say he never took drugs. Jim finds out that Alden Wade was accused of killing his first wife who died because she was shot by a sniper, a very valuable book is stolen from Polly's shop, the heiress suddenly marries Alden and much more... Koko provides clues by leaving banana peels.
Mystery Characteristics of The Cat Who Went Bananas
  • This is a mystery featuring an amateur detective
  • It is a Cozy
  • It is constructed around several puzzling occurrences (described in the synopsis)
  • A crime is committed - Aldens wife was shot, a valuable book is stolen...
  • The amateur detective asks questions- pursuing clues
    Appeal Terms
  • It is a Cozy mysteries and a Gentle reads
  • Leisurely paced
  • The tone is amusing and heartwarming
  • There is a very strong sense of place
  • Very strong characterization in the life of Jim Qwilleran
    Title Read-alikes
    Double-Booked for Death by Ali Brandon
    Death of a Gossip by M.C. Beaton
    What the Cat Dragged In by G. Morris
    Aunt Dimity's Death by Nancy Atherton
    Personal Note
    I had never read any of The Cat Who... mysteries until this one. This is the 27th in the series (this is great for mystery lovers who like series) and according to one review I read, not at all as good as some of the earlier ones. "There should be a murder and an investigation, not to mention a body, for a title to qualify as a Mystery" (Saricks, 2009, p.197) Quite honestly, I was confused when I was reading because that wasn't happening. I got down to just a few pages and I was thinking, "Now how is someone going to die mysteriously and the mystery be solved in just these few pages?" It just never happened. In that regard it was a very odd book. Several unexplained and sort of unrelated things happened and Jim wondered about some of it, asked a few questions, but never really investigated and nothing was resolved. It was very odd actually. However Saricks said, "We may think of Mysteries as dark and dangerous, but Amateur Detective stories are frequently light-hearted and even gentle in their approach to crime. " ((p.202) This one was definitely gentle. Strangely though, I enjoyed the book. I had a stressful week and as mentioned above it is a Cozy and a Gentle read. The tone is amusing. It made for a very light-hearted read. I was starting to really get into the sense of place and all the different characters in Pickax. Jim seemed to be constantly having drinks or dinner with someone different. I can definitely see how people could keep reading these for the cozy sense of place, strong characterization offered in the details of Jim Qwilleran's life and amusing presence of cats throughout. It was fun to participate..."in the lives of the investigators. In fact, the character of the investigator often determines the appeal of the Mystery to the reader..." (p.199) "Many tell us they read as much to see what is happening in the characters' lives as to appreciate the clever Mystery plot." (p.199) There was also appeal because of the hobby of the main character: books! So there really wasn't much deep mystery or danger but there was charm and a feeling of personally knowing the town Pickax, it's inhabitants and especially  the mannerisms of Qwilleran, Yum Yum and Koko. So, while not terrible mysterious it was enjoyable.

    Image result for the cat who went bananas

    Week Seven Prompt
    Celebrity Inspired Book Clubs- I don't know too much about Oprah's Book Club. I have often thought it was silly and "Who is she?" Like, who cares what Oprah's reading? But the sad fact is that many, many people DO. There are many people who take her suggestions seriously. One of the reasons I don't have respect for her book club is because of my spiritual viewpoint. I have heard things about her recommending "spiritual" books that are anti what I believe. That she believes differently than me is all fine and good. It's not OK though that she has such tremendous influence and spouts her suggestions and opinions to so many people who unquestioningly believe everything that comes out of her mouth. That to me is not OK. This was proven with the James Frey book. She went on and on about it and made the guy millions of dollars because everyone believes everything she says and his book was a disgusting fake. Which leads to ...
    Fake memoirs - I think fake memoirs are a disgrace. I think if a publishing company is publishing something as a memoir then they should bother to do all necessary investigation to make sure it actually is a memoir. I was disgusted after reading A Million Little Lies: Exposing James Frey's Fiction Addiction. This man made millions of dollars off of lies. It's disgusting. He was being hailed for his, "unprecedented honesty," and it was lies. "Frey's tall tales would, of course, be pretty funny if so many people didn't actually believe them." (2006) This is the sad thing about this particular memoir. It deals with addiction. First of all addiction is horrifying on so many levels to the person living it. This man made money by pretending to have lived the hell that so many truly do. He also portrayed himself as bad and a criminal because of the addiction and this is so not the case with so many addicts. They are fine, beautiful, good people who are just very, very ill and need help. Worst of all, and most harmful, Frey claims he had an "unconventional recovery" in the book. He rejected the Twelve Step approach and considers addiction a weakness, not a disease. Anyone who has suffered from alcoholism and addiction as he claimed he did knows that it is a disease and if one could just will themselves out of it like he claimed he did there would not be any addiction in the first place. He said his recovery was, "hinging on his ability to continually surmount temptation, thanks to a superhuman will..." This is NOT how recovery works. If the sick person had been able to do that then they would never have been addicted in the first place! The article said, "For those struggling with substance abuse, Frey is a shiny, relapse-free success story, a man who beat formidable odds with steely resolve. For desperate people, there appears to be magic in his approach..." What he has done with his lies is just evil in my opinion. There is no magic way out of addiction. AA and the twelve step approach has saved millions of lives... but it's work. He has made people think they should be able to JUST STOP and that they are not sick they are weak. This is so erroneous and harmful and hurtful! He made millions of dollars off these hurtful, medically, and scientifically wrong lies. It's absolutely disgusting and he made millions off it - in large part because of Oprah. Oprah didn't know what she was talking about - but everyone believed her. Very sad. 

    Tuesday, February 14, 2017

    Week Six Prompt
    A Proposal to My Supervisor

    I would like to ask your permission to do a gentle reads display. I think the most effective way to promote gentle reads would be to strongly emphasize their particular qualities: gentle, satisfying, well-being, feel-good, cheerful, comforting, simpler times, hopeful, peaceful, soothing, upbeat, old-fashioned, touching, etc. I would make the display catchy by juxtaposing the qualities of gentle reads with how crazy this world can be sometimes. I will get patrons' attention with a sign that says something like, "Is this world too crazy for you sometimes? Is there just too much violence and "noise"?" I will include with this a picture showing someone really stressed out. Then, to strongly contrast with that sign I'd have this one: If you'd like to get away from that for awhile try one of these gentle reads and there would be another picture of the same person but in this one, they are reading and completely relaxed. Here is a possible heading: "When life is not so nice... just read a nice story." I would have the words I listed above (the qualities of gentle reads) all around the display between items. I would include passive programming by asking for any other suggestions of books that patrons have read that they consider gentle reads. The form will also ask them to say why they consider that title a gentle read. This will help me see how patrons perceive this genre.
    I would use integrated advisory by including nonfiction books on feeling good topics (like relaxation), audio-books of gentle read titles and feel-good movies.

    Wednesday, February 8, 2017

    Week Five Prompt

    I do not think both of the reviews for the Romance were reliable. The Amazon review was written well but it isn't written by a teacher or librarian... just a customer - so I don't know how much weight to give it. At least it is written OK. The second review was not reliable at all because the writing is so bad and unprofessional that I didn't take anything in it seriously. How can you trust someone's judgment about writing when they can't write. I think I would still buy it for the collection though because the first review on Amazon made it sound like something that we get requests for here: a clean romance. I do not see from the reviews how this is romance suspense - it even says contemporary romance on the review.

    I have never read Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt. I am sure it might be a great book, but the reviews did not make me feel thrilled about adding it to the collection. In my opinion, they focused on and described aspects of the book that did not "sell it" for me. The writers of the reviews pulled out unappealing parts of the book and what I think they may have been aiming for was to show how he rose above and still has humor and a hopeful spirit after such hard times and painful experiences. The magic of that though is probably in McCourt's writing and this aspect did not translate well in the reviewers' writing. Instead of writing in detail about the awful things that happened, they should have made that generic and fussed more about how uplifting and inspirational his story is. The last review was OK I guess, but still the reviews just didn't make the book sound as wonderful as they then said it was. So, I think the details of events should have been toned way down. The reviews just did not make me feel thrilled about adding it to the collection.

    I do not think it's fair that one type of book is reviewed to death and other types of books get little to no coverage. Reviews may be all some collection developers see. So, if the book's not reviewed, it will be missed. This affects the library's collection because the collection will be biased and some really great unreviewed stuff will be missed and not even given a chance. I am not sure how I feel about review sources that won't print negative content. I guess they should but in taste and with respect. They should not write such a review that aims to take the author out and ruin their reputation completely, but if it is an intelligent critique done with respect, I suppose that is good. People reading reviews need to realize anyways that this is just one person's opinion. Sometimes a negative review may entice people to read it too. I used to read reviews and sometimes there would be one that said at the end that the reviewer would pass on adding it to the collection in favor of another title which they found to be better written about the same subject. I do not buy for the collection right now, but I used to. Many years ago we got to see a copy of a lot of the books that we had to choose from. This was fantastic, but then it went to just reviews. So, I read the review on every single book once a month to make my decision - that was a lot of reading! I enjoyed reading the reviews but I didn't put one hundred percent faith in them. There were many times I read a raving review and then when the book came in I thought, "I don't know one child who would actually like this book." So, sometimes they can be off. I do enjoy reading reviews though and still do sometimes even though I'm not buying. I read the School Library Journal and Booklist when I can. Because of this class, I will expand my horizons.

    Tuesday, February 7, 2017


    Kirkus- Style Review of The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

    Faced with an overwhelmingly painful situation that she cannot accept, seventh-grader Suzy Swanson, retreats into a world of silence. There in her grief and guilt, she comes up with a hypothesis to explain the unexplainable.

    Benjamin has written an emotional, insightful story, allowing you to intimately know and empathize with the main character. Her name is Suzy and she has always been interested in facts that most people aren't interested in. She is just being herself but this makes her "odd" to her peers. Her best friend Franny Jackson never minded though- until middle school when she starts to be interested in typical middle school girl things like her clothes, hair and boys, things that Suzy gives no thought to. Franny finds new like-minded friends and Suzy gets left behind. Suzy tries to fit in but when she does the situation only gets worse; she is ostracized and finds herself socially isolated. In an attempt to bring her friend back to her, Suzy does something she deeply regrets. Before she can make this awful thing right, Franny drowns. Suzy's scientific mind wants to know how it happened, but Suzy's mom tells her that, "sometimes things just happen." Suzy can not accept this answer. Grief and guilt haunt her and she thinks, "Sometimes you want things to change so badly, you can't even stand to be in the same room with the way things actually are." She retreats into silence and formulates a hypothesis about how Franny may have died. Because of the depth of her unacceptance ("Things had ended between me and Franny in the worst way. if I'd known, I'd have said sorry for the way things happened. I'd have at least said goodbye. But a person doesn't always know the difference between a new beginning and a forever sort of ending. Now it was too late to fix any of it. But maybe I could still do something.") she becomes increasingly obsessed with proving her hypothesis. This is what keeps the reader captivated. Will she get a chance to pursue her hypothesis or will she find acceptance? Tension builds as the reader realizes Suzi can't go on like this. How will this end for her? The book is cleverly organized into seven parts - the parts of the scientific method - but Suzy's problem is not one that can be solved scientifically. This is an often painful and deeply touching story that addresses serious issues like lost friendship, social isolation, regret, being "different," adolescent cruelty, death and finally acceptance and hope. There is an added bonus of amazing true scientific facts, especially about jellyfish.
    Ali Benjamin has written a poignant story that speaks to all humanity, because at some point we all have faced, or will face, a situation that has no acceptable explanation. Then we realize, like Suzy has to, that, "sometimes things just happen." Readers will root for Suzy to find acceptance and heal. The message of the book is so important for all of us; sometimes there just isn't a happy ending, but... maybe there can be a new beginning.

    Thursday, February 2, 2017

    A Summary of My Secret Shopper Assignment
    I had never been in the library I went to. It had a friendly atmosphere and the librarian who helped me was fairly friendly. I said, "I am really in the mood to read a good book. Could you help me find one?" This was really weird because I have never ever asked this, even though I have heard so many other people ask it before. It was a good experience to see what it is like from the other side of the desk. I found it unnerving because you have no idea what to expect. (Which is a reminder to me to be extra friendly to people, because it can be uncomfortable on the other side of that desk) I wrote in my paper in detail about what was said and how she searched for books to suggest to me. I thought it went well because she did start by asking me what the last thing I read that I enjoyed and was like what I was in the mood for now was... And even though I should have suspected she'd start with that, I hadn't thought of it beforehand, so I said the first book that came to mind - a book I haven't actually read in years. It still went well though. She started with that and then she did ask me what I liked about it. She only used Goodreads and Google to help me but she ended up suggesting a Dixie Cash book that looked like what I was pretending to want. I don't really know because I never read the book. I don't even have a card for the library where I went, so I snuck the book back and got out of there without her seeing me leave. After all that trouble, I didn't want her to see me leave without a book. I didn't want to hurt her Readers' Adviser feelings. One of the things I mentioned in my paper was that the supervisors where I work are REALLY enthusiastic and off the top of their head-knowledgeable about SO many books and genres, so I was kind of judging this librarian's response by them. At the end of my paper I kind of wondered if this was fair because the characteristics that make my supervisors like that are of a personal nature; they both read an unusual amount in their free, personal time just because they want to and are not faking their enthusiasm - book lovers is just who they are it seems. I wrote at the end of my paper that while the librarian I encountered was not overly enthusiastic and naturally knowledgeable, she was courteous and got the job done with the use of an RA tool, so I concluded that she did a good job.