So remember when I went to Book Expo America last year and ran around like a chicken with its head cut off, only more book crazed? Well, I had every intention of doing that once again this year (maybe slightly less headless-chicken-y, but just as book-crazed). And then I got a job and it turns out you can’t up and go to New York in the middle of the week when you’re gainfully employed.

So my four days of book bliss has been cut down to one. I have my faithful friends looking out for books for me, and after work today I’m driving up to NY. Saturday is Book Con, so it will be crazy, but I will be brave! I will weave through the dazed Book Con-ers and get the books I want and hand out my cards to the publicists I see because I am a BEA veteran! I’m getting a bit dramatic here. Sorry…

Anyway, you can probably tell that I’m super excited. If you’re going to be there and you see me (you know what I look like if you follow me on Instagram — gotta get my shameless plug in there), come say hi! You can also just walk around the Javits Center yelling “Poindextrix!” and if I hear you I will reply… How shall I reply? Polo? Let’s go with “Polo!” as I’m not feeling particularly creative at the moment. [Seriously, if anyone does this, I may love you forever].

More incentive to follow me on Instagram/Twitter (*shameless plug, shameless plug*), I’m going to try to take pictures and tweet things that happen throughout the day, so even if you’re not at BEA, you can pretend you are.

I’ll try to bring you an update after the fact with at least some of the books I’ve snagged. No promises though. I have a hazy memory of being exhausted and footsore and wanting nothing more than to sleep for a week after BEA.

So yeah… BEA! Onward!

By now you may have heard about the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter. Yesterday the Washington Post released an article about it and how some people might want to reconsider donating, or at least look more closely at what is being offered and where their money is going. The article demonizes the initiative far more than I think is really necessary, but that’s not really what I want to talk about. For the sake of balance, there’s a much more positive article about the Kickstarter campaign on Jezebel.

The Post mentions that one reason Reading Rainbow was cancelled back in 2006/2009 (new episodes stopped in 2006 and re-runs stopped airing in 2009) was because literacy programming was heading more in a teach-them-how/phonics-type direction, while Reading Rainbow was more about fostering a love of reading.

This is what I want to talk about because obviously kids need to learn how to read in order to love it — I’m not arguing against basic literacy programming — but access to books and encouraging enthusiasm about books and reading is just as important. In fact literacy studies have shown as much — that greater access to books leads to increased literacy in children at various reading levels.

Yes, we want kids to know how to read, but imagine if they wanted to read. Programs like Reading Rainbow and Wishbone made books exciting and fun. Even if they’re not directly teaching reading skills, encouraging an interest (if not a love) of books and reading should be an integral part of any literacy initiative.

I’m not really familiar with the Reading Rainbow app — you have to pay for it and since I don’t have any kids who would directly benefit from it, I’d only be paying for the nostalgia factor — and thus can’t comment too much on this particular Kickstarter. But LeVar Burton has shown himself to be dedicated to literacy and education and there are subsidies for underprivileged schools, which seems like, at least, a good step.

Literacy education is important and while we (try to) fund libraries and traditional programs in schools, we should recognize the changing environments in which children learn and adapt in order to better serve their needs so that they not only learn how to read, but develop a love of it as well.

I don’t read many short story collections. I don’t know why and I suspect that it’s just because I forget about them. After reading Vampires in the Lemon Grove I suspect I’m missing out. I believe my first sentence must be amended to “I don’t read enough short story collections.”

This book is phenomenal. It’s the perfect combination of funny and whimsy and creepy and unnameable/unidentifiable awesome.

Karen Russell appears to have completely mastered writing a story just to the point where it’s allowed to end, but where readers want it to continue. This collection is compulsively readable and the characters stay with you. I still want to know more about those titular vampires and their time before and after Russell captured them on the page.

That’s all I’m saying. You have a short story collection to get. Go forth and read my friends!

I’ve been meaning to read this one for a while now. I have that compulsion to always read the book before seeing the movie, so when there was all that buzz about the film it moved up a bit on my list. And yet I only got around to reading it a couple of months ago (and I’m reviewing it now. This should give you an idea of my backlog/time management skills). It felt oddly appropriate that I didn’t get around to reading it until after I moved to Philly though.

I have to say, while I enjoyed this book, it didn’t really thrill me like it did a lot of other readers. I’m really going to blame the expectations game for that one. You see, I don’t have any particular criticisms of the book. I think that the characters were well-developed and their relationships complex. Parts of the plot might have been a bit far-fetched, but I can spare a bit of suspension of disbelief as a reader now and then. When this book fell a bit flat for me, I think it was just because I had heard such great things from so many people that the book couldn’t possibly meet the expectations I had built up in my mind.

I don’t think I would go so far as to call this a story of redemption, but it is at least a story about the beginning of recovery and forgiveness. Even if it wasn’t at the top of my list of things I’ve read recently, I’d definitely recommend it.

At some point I plan on watching the movie and seeing how it stacks up against the book. The book had some unexpected twists and turns and I’m wondering how they’ll play out on screen. I also found it difficult, on occasion, to connect with the characters, and I think that the movie could either really improve on that or really botch it. I’ll have to wait and find out!

Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy includes: 
Oryx and Crake
The Year of the Flood
MaddAddam

I really enjoyed reading this trilogy. The characters and plot are intriguing and I think Atwood told the story in an interesting way. Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood focus on different sets of characters, but take place primarily during the same time period. MaddAddam is essentially the convergence of everything — it’s where you get (some) answers.

The trilogy takes place in a kind of post-apocalyptic world. Much of humanity has been wiped out, allowing the world to be claimed by the hybrid plant and animal species created by the Corps in the years before. Those who remain struggle to survive and wonder if anyone else has.

Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood are both somewhat self-contained and MaddAddam ties them together. The thing about MaddAddam is that a lot of changes occur at this point in the story, and so the characters start to change. Some of these changes seem a bit too abrupt or out of character, but taken within the larger context of things and all that the characters had to endure in their lives, I’m willing to believe that characters could undergo such drastic changes.

While MaddAddam answers many questions that readers ask during Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood, it brought up other questions for me that were either never addressed or never answered. Part of this comes from the fact that the story is told primarily through the perspectives of different characters. If the characters do not have answers, we as readers do not either. Since some of the questions that I had were bigger picture or spanning history that a single generation could not witness, many remain unanswered.

As I said before, I enjoyed this trilogy. It was a different kind of post-apocalyptic dystopian tale than a lot of the other ones being written these days. I would certainly recommend it, especially for anyone who has read Atwood before and is a fan of her work.

Warning: This review contains spoilers because I really just can’t talk about this one without giving stuff away. 

This is the sixth book in Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series. The previous book, Speaking from Among the Bones ends on quite the cliffhanger, with the revelation that Harriet has been found. Now I, eternal optimist that I am (when it comes to books at least), desperately wanted her to somehow be alive, but the body counts have been fairly high in these books so I really knew better.

In the series Flavia solves mysteries, so intrigue is nothing new, and yet it felt different in this book. Perhaps because it was more personal, but the situations seemed more dangerous. The entire book is on-edge.

I’m not sure how I feel about the ending of this book. It’s also unclear if this is the end of the series (Bradley’s website gives no indication one way or the other). Personally, I would love to read about Flavia’s antics at boarding school. I think it would be a great way to show her development as a character while introducing new obstacles and interests. I can imagine her finding a like-minded friend or two and toeing the line with hilarious results. If the series does not continue though, I think that I am mostly satisfied with the way that this book leaves everything. Nothing feels unresolved.

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram or Tumblr (and really, why aren’t you? I’m fantastic on social media. It’s all books and my cat and food. What’s not to like?) then you’ve probably figured out by now that I am employedIn my field! It’s very exciting.

I’m working on a project to sort/catalogue the Gotham Book Mart Collection. The Gotham Book Mart was an awesome independent bookstore in New York that closed around 2007 and the books and records all came to us. Now we’re sorting and cataloguing all the material and while some of it is your run-of-the-mill trade stuff, a huge portion is small press material and rare/limited editions and it’s all so cool and I just get to nerd out all day while working/getting paid.

It’s also kind of funny to me that I moved to Philly, but I’m cataloguing a very New York collection. Go figure.

So yeah, my reading time has been cut down a little bit. But fear not! Reviews shall continue. I have an absurd backlog (that pre-dates my employment. I’m bad at planning. We’ve always known this) of both books to read and books that I need to review. All these things will (probably) happen. I just wanted to give everyone an update on my life and librarian-ness.

If you want to see my pictures of some of the materials, but don’t feel like following me (though I can’t imagine why not) just search the hashtag “gothambookmart” on the various social media platforms and things should pop up.

Note: I received a free review copy of this book from the author, K. Ford K. in exchange for an honest review.

I should probably begin by mentioning that I know absolutely nothing about John the Baptist beyond the whole Salome-asking-for-his-head thing. And I’m even hazy on the details of that. So I read this as straight historical fiction. Others with more of a religious education/background might read it differently and therefore have different things to say.

To get straight dow to business, I really enjoyed reading this book. I found the characters to be engaging and it was easy to connect with their struggles and frustrations.

There are some things that bother me though. Hessa is our protagonist. She has this phenomenal gift that ultimately draws her to John and she is his strength and driving force, yet the story is so much about him. She goes against tradition in so many other ways, but she can’t make her story her own.

It also almost feels like nothing happens (which is a bizarre thing to say because in reality a lot happens). After a certain point, everything just feels extraordinarily laid out.

None of this is to say that you shouldn’t read this book. You should. It is a prime example of great storytelling and awesome historical fiction. It transports you to another time and another place while reading.

Others agree because The Wife of John the Baptist is up for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in the general fiction category. That means that right now you can go to the award page and read an excerpt of the book for free. Free people!

Now go forth and read!