Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Review: In Stitches by Anthony Youn, M.D.

Tony was raised to be a doctor. His parents would except nothing less. Growing up as one of two Asian-American kids in a small town wasn't easy. Neither was medical school. In Stitches is a lighthearted memoir about Tony's progression from awkward child to confident doctor. 

The first of five parts covers Youn's premed years: birth-college. He recounts many failed attempts at gaining a girlfriend. The rejections begin piling up. Like most kids, he struggles with his looks and as his jaw juts out it sabotages his lustful ambitions. The text focuses on his attempts to score and until he finds a steady girlfriend the story is more about chasing skirts than becoming a doctor. About a third of the way through, once Youn finds said girl, the text focused much more on his medical school days which was what kept my attention. For all the emphasis on finding a girlfriend I would have liked a bit more about their relationship. We really don't know anything about her.

Things get dicey and interesting in part 4, "Third Year," where Youn recounts the "highlights" of clinical rotations. He encounters interns from hell, detached cool-as-a-cucumber doctors, horrible trauma and quirky surgeons. Tony is drawn to plastic surgery and ends his last year in school working with plastic surgeons around the country. 

Youn tells the story as one looking back, who's breathed a sigh of relief that those grueling years of med school are behind him. One can only imagine what a current medical student might write -- a whoa-is-me type of journal. But Youn's memoir is light and funny. This text counts towards to the POC Reading Challenge!

Publisher: Gallery Books, 2011     Pages: 271     Written with Alan Eisenstock
Rating: 3.5 Stars     Source: Won from Crazy-for-Books. Thanks, Jen!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Genre Cooties - Do You Have Them?

This week's Book Blogger Hop question is: "What's the one genre that you wish you could get into, but just can't?"

Inspirational books - gag! The Chicken Soup, Hugs for so-and-so and generally feel-good books I just don't do. If you like these types of books, great! Just don't assume everyone else does and burden us with them as gifts because you want to avoid giving a candle, bath salts or some other generic gift. The sentiment is great it's just I don't want to slog through pages of mush. Personally, I love bath goodies!

A close second is horror. I can handle scary and suspenseful (Like McCarthy's The Road) most of the time. But the few horror books I've tried (Stephen King, I'm looking at you) I found disappointing, boring and I didn't finish them. So, there are few reviews here at The Prairie Library of inspirational or horror books.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Review: Sabriel by Garth Nix

Sabriel comes from a long line of necromancers. But instead of bringing the dead back to life, the Abhorsen family takes what has come back to life and returns it to death where it belongs. When her father sends a messenger from death bringing Sabriel his bells and sword -- the special tools of a  necromancer -- she knows her quiet life at school has ended. She must enter The Old Kingdom, her place of birth, yet foreign and lurking with danger, if she is to bring her father, trapped in death by an unknown evil, back to life.

Sabriel was a nice treat. It was classic high fantasy with swords and magic yet it was original. I wasn't sure what to expect and didn't think a story about necromancers would be my thing. But I was hooked from the first page. The idea of using bells as a magical tool was new and I enjoyed it. The descriptions were clear and easy to understand which was good because Nix has created a fascinating world with rules of its own. These "rules" are important in fantasy as they help build the setting and if you're going to bother writing fantasy then the creation of the world is very very important so you better do it right. And Nix does. The descriptions of the necromancer passing between life and death were nothing short of awesome.

The characters were interesting, too. I liked Sabriel. She was hard core and did not become obsessed with the romantic male figure. I appreciated that the focus of this book was not on a romantic relationship but an awesome story. It was refreshing. The secondary characters and villains were engrossing, too. I liked Mogget -- the magical being bound in a cat's body. It's sounds silly, I know, but Nix carries it off. 

Sabriel is a unique and adventurous tale sure to please teenage fantasy fans. This is some of the better storytelling I've come across in YA fiction in a very long time. Don't miss it! 

Publisher: Eos, 2004     Pages: 311
Rating: 5 Stars     Source: Public Library

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Review: Meet Einstein by Mariela Kleiner

Meet Einstein encourages children to explore the world. It validates a child's wonder and intense curiosity by showing how scientists are curious people, too, who ask questions, make observations and investigate things that we may take for granted. I was hoping for more information in the story-line about Einstein. The text could have been about Sir. Isaac Newton or Einstein and no one would know the difference. The story will teach preschoolers about gravity and visible light (colors!). I do think it would have been okay to go even deeper and show how light acts like waves and that there's "light" we can't see. Viviana Garofoli's illustrations in Meet Einstein are super cute and demonstrate the many things scientists do. The pictures are appealing and should make science interesting to youngsters. All in all, a good book to share with kiddos aged 2-5.

Publisher: Meet Books, 2008     Pages: 32
Rating: 3.5 Stars     Source: Free from the publisher. Thanks, MB!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Musings of a Grad Student: Summer Break!

Spring was a challenging semester but it ended well! I completed three courses -- Database Systems, Resources for Young Adults and Research Methods -- on my way to becoming a librarian. I also began a new job as an intern in my local library's children's department. While I'm not taking courses this summer I am keeping busy! Here are a few things I've been doing this summer as a intern:
Library Playground and Ped Mall
  • Children's Day was the first Sunday in June. We had 20-some tents outside with kid-friendly activities like face painting, making music, crafts and more. Estimated attendance for the four hour event was 4,000. This was the kick-off for our summer reading program. I helped our librarians locate materials and prepare crafts weeks in advance. The day of the event, we (library staff) and volunteers set out the day's materials. I helped direct volunteers to the booths they signed up to man and registered kids for our S.R.P. program. It was a busy, hot and exciting day!
  • Wii Gaming, hosted by yours truly, is once a week for two hours. I set up two TVs and a projector so up to 12 kids can play at a time. I keep out sign up sheets for the different games and switch every 15 minutes so everyone gets a chance to play. I get between 30-35 kids each week. It's great to see the regulars as well as new kids all interacting and having fun. While many just want to play video games (I'm cool with that. I wasn't a reader as a kid and LOVE video games to this day) I'm always amazed by those who sprawl out books and can read with all the noise! There's always a few who enjoy board games so I set some out. 
  • Special Summer Reading Program Events are once a week with an a.m. program for preschoolers and a p.m. program for elementary age kids. I help our librarian cart supplies and set up the room (i.e. tape the floor for walkways, hang banners, etc). We often have volunteers which are a lifesaver as there are between 150-300 people at the programs. 
  • Children's Reference is ongoing even if I'm not at the desk. This is one of my favorite parts of the job. It can be tricky to find the right book for a kid but is very rewarding. I love all the different questions kids have: Are Tasmanian Devils real? Do you have books on volcanoes? Do I have this book at home? 
  • Book Babies is once a week for 6-18 month old babies. I help our librarian with the program singing songs, doing finger plays, reading books and setting out/picking up toys and board books. I'll be hosting my first book babies program on my own next week!
There's a look at what's keeping me busy this summer! Break is flying by. It's hard to believe I only have one year left of school. After this long, it feels natural to keep learning indefinitely. And that's my mantra here at The Prairie Library - The Spirit of Learning is a Lasting Frontier! For more about being a grad student click on the Musings of a Grad Student link below.