Book Review: “Children of Blood and Bone” by Tomi Adeyemi

child

Children of Blood and Bone took the Young Adult book world by storm when it was published in 2018. For one thing, the cover is absolutely exquisite. For another, this is a fantasy book about people of color; diversity can be hard to find in the fantasy genre. Author Tomi Adeyemi uses her background as a Nigerian-American and her studies in West African mythology to create an intricate world with cultures and problems that real-life people can relate to.

This novel introduces us to two pairs of very different brothers and sisters: Zélie and Tzain, the underdogs in a society built on racism and the fear of magic; and Amari and Inan, the princess and prince who have everything but shrink under their cruel father’s abuse. As the four collide, and suppressed magic begins to make a comeback, their cities will never be the same again.

Mild spoilers ahead.

 

What Children of Blood and Bone gets right: I enjoyed reading about the complex, but ultimately loving, brother-sister relationships in this story, as well as each character’s development and growth throughout their journeys. The animals in this book are really cool as well. For example, Zélie has a lionaire (Nailah) whom she and her friends can actually ride like a horse.

Plot-wise, Children of Blood and Bone reminds me of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Zélie is a special girl who can bring magic back into the world, just like Aang is the avatar who can bring balance back to his world. And Zélie has wisdom beyond her years at times; her quote “I won’t let your ignorance silence my pain” gave me chills.

What Children of Blood and Bone gets wrong: There are a lot of rules and regulations about magic that don’t come out until later in the book. It can be difficult to keep up with, and some of it doesn’t fully make sense to me in regards to how it works in the story. And while the action scenes were exciting, they were hard to follow for me. I wasn’t too sure what was going on at times.

Although Zélie was the main character, I actually liked her the least out of the sibling pairs. While she means well and has a good cause, she’s constantly reckless. I wanted to see the story from Tzain’s perspective, as he was probably my favorite character due to his practicality and protectiveness, but we never got that.

Who should read Children of Blood and Bone: Fans of magic, fantasy, heroic stories, and West African mythology.

Who shouldn’t read Children of Blood and Bone: Readers who don’t enjoy fantasy.

 

Children of Blood and Bone is available in our Recreational Reading section. The sequel, Children of Virtue and Vengeance, is also available!

Content note: a brief suggestive scene, violence, racism.

Most book reviews on this blog are written by Olivia Chin and reflect her personal opinions of the books, not the library’s view as a whole.

Logos Links: June 2020

lib links 1

Library team members Amber Wessies and Olivia Chin have searched the Internet for the best book, movie, and library-related links. Learn more about library news around the world below.

 

31 Children’s Books To Support Conversations On Race, Racism, and Resistance

A descriptive, helpful list of children’s books from Embrace Race.

 

Publishers Sue Internet Archive Over Free E-Books

With COVID-19, more free resources became available on the Internet. However, publishers are pushing back over what they consider to be piracy.

 

The 5 E’s Of Inquiry-Based Learning

Not sure how to engage students in scientific inquiry? Not a problem. The 5E Inquiry-Based Instructional Model can serve as your guide during the design and implementation of STEM instruction.

 

Anatomy of a Book

Old-fashioned words used to describe books, as provided by The New Yorker.

 

It’s Juneteenth!

Blog about miscellaneous African American art and poetry, as well as a celebration of Juneteenth.

 

The Ancient History of Board Games

What did game night look like thousands of years ago? Before Monopoly and Candy Crush, ancient people were playing mehen and the Game of Twenty Squares.

 

The State of Babies Yearbook

Need some statistics on babies and families in the U.S.? Check out the 2020 State of Babies Yearbook, where you will find changing demographics, health policies, and early learning recommendations.

 

NASA Names Headquarters After “Hidden Figure” Mary W. Jackson

If you enjoyed reading or watching Hidden Figures, you’ll be glad to know that the real-life Mary W. Jackson is being honored by NASA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spotlight On “The Chronicle Of Higher Education”

chronicle

The Chronicle of Higher Education is an online publication that carries articles about college enrollment, teaching tactics in large classrooms, salaries of tenured employees and university presidents, and other news related to higher ed. Many professors and education professionals use this newspaper to keep up with other colleges around the country. While you can see some of The Chronicle’s articles online for free, others require a subscription. That’s where the library comes in.

To access The Chronicle of Higher Education, or any other online magazine that we subscribe to:

  1. Go to the library website.
  2. Type in “The Chronicle of Higher Education” in the search bar.
  3. Click one of the links to view it online. Different databases, like Academic Search Complete, will provide access to The Chronicle of Higher Education.
  4. If you are off campus, you will be prompted to enter in your Union credentials. If there is trouble in accessing the link after that, then try a different link or email Stephen Mount at smount@uu.edu for help.

Top 5 Musicals On DVD At The Library

gwen-ong-m3th3rIQ9-w-unsplash

When you’re ready to sing it out, pick up one of our musicals on DVD here at the library. You can find musicals by browsing our DVD section on the 2nd floor, or by looking them up online via the library catalog. The following list is made up of some of our most popular and well-known musicals.

*DVD descriptions provided by the publishers, c/o the library catalog

 

Les Misérables

10th Anniversary version

25th Anniversary version

Movie version

In early 19th century France, the paroled prisoner Jean Valjean seeks redemption, regains his social standing, and rises to the rank of mayor. He encounters a beautiful but desperately ill woman named Fantine and cares for her daughter, Cosette, after her death. All the while he is obsessively pursued by the policeman Javert, who vows to make him pay for the crimes of his past.

 

The Phantom of the Opera

25th Anniversary version

Movie version

Tells the story of a disfigured musical genius who haunts the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera, waging a reign of terror over its occupants. When he falls fatally in love with Christine, the Phantom devotes himself to creating a new star for the Opera, exerting a strange sense of control over the young soprano as he nurtures her extraordinary talents.

 

The Sound of Music

As Nazism takes over Austria, a governess and a widowed father fall in love and escape the country with his large family of musically-talented children.

 

West Side Story

This musical sets the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet against a backdrop of the rivalry of two street gangs, the Sharks and the Jets, in New York of the 1950s. A young woman who is sister to the Sharks’ leader has her first taste of love with the former head of the Jets.

 

Fiddler on the Roof

Tevye is a poor Jewish milkman with five unmarried daughters to support in a village in Czarist Russia. With a sharp-tongued wife at home and growing anti-Semitism in the village, Tevye talks to God about his troubles. His people’s traditions keep him strong when his existence is as precariously balanced as a fiddler on the roof.

 

Bonus: We don’t have a DVD recording of Hamilton, but we do have this excellent book that will take you behind-the-scenes of the Broadway hit.

Book Review: “Circe” by Madeline Miller

circe

Once upon a time, I had to act out The Odyssey with a group of friends for my high school English class. I was cast as Circe, the temptress witch that turns men into pigs. This was my first introduction to a much-studied literary character.

Circe by Madeline Miller dives deeper into Circe’s origin story, exploring how she discovered her powers, her tumultuous upbringing, and her interest in mortals.

What Circe gets right: Circe is a goddess who does what she can with what she has. She’s not the strongest, wisest, or most beautiful, but she is definitely the most resourceful. Time and again, even after she makes terrible mistakes and the other gods punish her, she bounces back to try something new. She’s willing to help others, even when she has no one to help herself.

Madeline Miller made a mythological goddess into a relatable character. That’s the power of this novel. The setting and customs are foreign to modern people (and to mortals), but we can relate to Circe as an underdog of sorts.

What Circe gets wrong: Circe definitely has the unreliable perspective that she is a good person (or, at least, a reasonable person), while pretty much all of the other gods and goddesses are immoral. In reality, I’m sure that the others have their reasons for what they have done, just as Circe has hers. She slowly learns more and gains a clearer perspective as she ages.

Circe’s limited narration doesn’t make the book a bad one, but it can be frustrating when she can’t- or won’t- see the whole picture.

Who should read Circe: Anyone who wants a better understanding of Greek mythology. The Titans and Olympians are fleshed-out and more accessible in this narrative than others I’ve read. Readers who don’t like Odysseus, like me (this book exposes his flaws and his crimes after returning to Ithaca).

Who shouldn’t read Circe: Readers who aren’t interested in Greek mythology or fantasy. It does help to have at least a vague understanding of Greek mythology to read this book- maybe read The Odyssey first if you haven’t already.

 

Circe is available in the Recreational Reading section of the library.

Content note: language; violence; suggestive scenes that, while not described in detail, include some pretty wild events (remember that this is Greek mythology).

Most book reviews on this blog are written by Olivia Chin and reflect her personal opinions of the books, not the library’s view as a whole.

Reading List: Children’s Books About STEM

childrens books stem

 

Children’s books are great resources for STEM education: they’re written at a level that a child can understand, and books about science, technology, engineering, and math for children are increasingly published. The library’s Family Room houses books on these subjects as well as fiction and middle-grade books. If you’re a student teacher or a parent, you can use this reading list to pick up educational children’s STEM books from the library.

*Book descriptions provided by the publishers, c/o the library catalog

 

The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind by William Kamkwamba

When 14-year-old William Kamkwamba’s Malawi village was hit by a drought in 2001, everyone’s crops began to fail. His family didn’t have enough money for food, let alone school, so William spent his days in the library. He came across a book on windmills and figured out how to build a windmill that could bring electricity to his village. Everyone thought he was crazy but William persevered and managed to create a functioning windmill out of junkyard scraps. Several years later he figured out how to use the windmill for irrigation purposes.

 

Hey, Water! by Antoinette Pointis

Splash along with a spunky little girl who realizes that water is everywhere. But water doesn’t always look the same, it doesn’t always feel the same, and it shows up in lots of different shapes. And so the girl launches into a spirited game of hide-and-seek with water, discovering it in nature, in weather, and even in herself.

 

Little Leonardo’s Fascinating World of Science by Bob Cooper

Introduces kids to the vast and varied areas of science and the different types of scientists they can aspire to become. Whether it’s ancient dinosaur bones unearthed by paleontologists, anthropologists studying different cultures around the globe, or new planets discovered by astronomers, there’s bound to be something here any child will find fascinating and appealing.

 

The Girl With A Mind For Math by Julia Finley Mosca

This is a rhyming-text picture book about Raye Montague. After touring a German submarine in the early 1940s, young Raye set her sights on becoming an engineer. Little did she know sexism and racial inequality would challenge that dream every step of the way, even keeping her greatest career accomplishment a secret for decades. Through it all, the gifted mathematician persisted, finally gaining her well-deserved title in history: a pioneer who changed the course of ship design forever.

 

The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rainforest by Lynne Cherry

The many different animals that live in a great Kapok tree in the Brazilian rainforest try to convince a man with an ax of the importance of not cutting down their home.

 

The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield

Chris loves rockets and planets and pretending he’s a brave astronaut, exploring the universe. Only one problem: at night, Chris doesn’t feel so brave. He’s afraid of the dark. But when he watches the groundbreaking moon landing on TV, he realizes that space is the darkest dark there is, and the dark is beautiful and exciting, especially when you have big dreams to keep you company. (Inspired by the childhood of real-life astronaut Chris Hadfield.)

 

Even An Octopus Needs A Home by Irene Kelly

Shows how animals solve the problem of locating safe places in which to live and raise families.

 

The Brooklyn Bridge: A Wonders of the World Book by Elizabeth Mann

Describes the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, from its conception by John Roebling in 1852 through, after many setbacks, its final completion under the direction of his son, Washington, in 1883.

 

Are You A Beetle? by Judy Allen

This colorful first nature book introduces preschoolers to the world of the beetle. Ideal for reading aloud or as a first reader, the witty text and detailed illustrations bring this familiar creature to life. Young children will be fascinated by this tiny living thing found right in their own backyard.

 

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca

Here is the story of the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon: a story of leaving and returning during the summer of 1969, and a story of home, seen whole, from far away by steady astronauts in their great machines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” by Suzanne Collins

ballad

The announcement that Suzanne Collins was publishing a Hunger Games prequel was the proverbial shot heard ’round the literary world. Everyone wanted to get their hands on it. I think excitement waned a bit, however, when we realized that it was about President Snow as a young man. This is a testament to how hated President Snow was in the original series- at first glance, he’s not the kind of interesting villain you’d want to read about; rather, he’s hated so much that you’d rather not think too much about him at all.

Regardless of how much you might hate Snow, picking up The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is still a welcome return to the disturbing world of Panem and all of its rules and division. While Panem is a horrible place, it’s a well-written, engrossing one. With this prequel, we get to learn more about how the Hunger Games came to be the way they are in the original trilogy. Plus, Coriolanus Snow as a young man may surprise you.

Mild spoilers ahead.

What The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes gets right: Suzanne Collins is awesome at writing about psychological warfare. Throughout The Hunger Games trilogy, we saw how having to constantly act and perform was exhausting to Katniss; in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, we see how Coriolanus Snow is similarly affected. You wouldn’t think that a Capital kid from a rich family would have to fake his way through life in order not to die, but that’s the case for Coriolanus. The adults around him can’t be trusted- in fact, they may even decide to kill him- and this situation makes him a more relatable character than you’d expect. Coriolanus actually has a few things in common with Katniss, at least in this book.

However, unlike Katniss, Coriolanus is a very controlled and calculating character. He often relies on charisma and faked confidence to get him through dangerous encounters. While I enjoyed how raw and honest Katniss was, sometimes her brash words and deeds would make me cringe as I feared what kind of trouble she would get in. She was not a natural actress; but for Coriolanus, acting is not only easy but necessary, which probably explains how he eventually made it to the top in the Capital.

 

What The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes gets wrong: Most of the side characters don’t get fleshed out or developed very well. I felt like I barely knew anyone other than Coriolanus and Sejanus, his fellow mentor and a rebel sympathizer, throughout the story.

The plot kind of meanders around in Part I as various attacks postpone the Games. Then there’s some romance in Part II and III that just didn’t strike me as believable (slight spoilers in the next few sentences). Don’t get me wrong, I love romance in books, but this one seemed shallow to me. Coriolanus gets caught up in petty jealousy when the girl he likes could die the next day, and I’m just not having that. And why would Lucy Gray Baird be interested in Coriolanus- how does she have time for feelings when she’s facing her death? They couldn’t be more different and their romance is based on the bare minimum. If Lucy Gray knew more about how possessive and controlling Coriolanus actually is (which we as readers get to hear in his thoughts) I don’t think she would like him at all. This romance was doomed from the start because they don’t know each other at all.

 

Who should read The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: Fans of The Hunger Games who want to revisit the world of Panem. Readers who enjoy learning about ambitious, cunning protagonists who later become villains (Coriolanus is definitely an unhealthy Enneagram Three, and would be in Slytherin were he at Hogwarts).

 

Who shouldn’t read The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: If you didn’t like The Hunger Games, then you probably won’t like this prequel, either. And even as a Hunger Games fan, I didn’t particularly love this book because Coriolanus just doesn’t *get* it, and he got on my nerves a lot toward the end. He just doesn’t allow himself to have empathy for others who are different from him. I liked the ending, where he was finally showing his true colors, better than the rest of the book where he was pretending to be a decent person.

 

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes can be found on our summer Staff Picks display. You can also check out The Hunger Games trilogy!

Content note: violence, psychological trauma, substance abuse.

Most book reviews on this blog are written by Olivia Chin and reflect her personal opinions of the books, not the library’s view as a whole.

Spotlight On “ProQuest U.S. Dailies”

pex newspapers

Newspapers in print are becoming a hard thing to find in some libraries.  However, some libraries, like the Union Library, have subscriptions to newspaper databases where users can access newspapers online rather than in print. ProQuest US Dailies is a database that contains a collection of national newspapers; it allows for library patrons to access and read newspaper articles published in major newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, among others.

Users can search within ProQuest US Dailies by entering a topic or the title of a newspaper in the search bar.  If you want to browse the issues or find articles related to a topic, you have the option to do either. Users also have several options in narrowing down their search query; you can narrow down your search by document type (i.e. article, company profile, interview) as well as source type (i.e. article or audio-visual material).  Searching by language is also available, but you can only choose between English and Spanish.

With print newspapers becoming more rare, online access to major newspaper publications is a helpful thing for libraries to have. ProQuest U.S. Dailies is a helpful tool that patrons can easily access for either pleasure or research. Users can access this database from the list of Databases, E-books, and Media from the library’s home page.  For more information about finding newspapers in the library or online, click here.

Top 5 Memoirs At The Library

memoir

Memoirs tell us the personal experiences of other people. They allow us to see how someone else has lived, thought, and learned. The library has several memoirs on our shelves; here are 5 of the best-written and most checked out memoirs. Click the links to see where the books are located in the library.

*Book descriptions are from the publishers, c/o the library catalog

 

Reading Lolita In Tehran: A Memoir In Books by Azar Nafisi

This is the story of Azar Nafisi’s dream and of the nightmare that made it come true. For two years before she left Iran in 1997, Nafisi gathered seven young women at her house every Thursday morning to read and discuss forbidden works of Western literature. They were all former students whom she had taught at university. They were unaccustomed to being asked to speak their minds, but soon they began to open up and to speak more freely, not only about the novels they were reading but also about themselves, their dreams and disappointments. Nafisi’s account flashes back to the early days of the revolution, when she first started teaching at the University of Tehran amid the swirl or protests and demonstrations. Azar Nafisi’s tale offers a fascinating portrait of the Iran-Iraq war viewed from Tehran and gives us a rare glimpse, from the inside, of women’s lives in revolutionary Iran.

 

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Here, for the first time, Michelle Obama describes the early years of her marriage as she struggles to balance her work and family with her husband’s fast-moving political career. She takes us inside their private debate over whether he should make a run for the presidency and her subsequent role as a popular but oft-criticized figure during his campaign. Narrating with grace, good humor, and uncommon candor, she provides a vivid, behind-the-scenes account of her family’s history-making launch into the global limelight as well as their life inside the White House over eight momentous years–as she comes to know her country and her country comes to know her.

 

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and to do it alone.

 

Full of Heart: My Story of Survival, Strength, and Spirit by J.R. Martinez

This book tells the story of an inspirational journey from tragedy to triumph. In 2003, at age nineteen, the author was on a routine patrol in Iraq when the Humvee he was driving hit an antitank mine, resulting in severe injuries and burns. Out of that tragedy came an improbable journey of inspiration, motivation, and dreams come true.

 

Heavy by Kiese Laymon

In this powerful and provocative memoir, Kiese Laymon fearlessly explores what the weight of a lifetime of secrets, lies, and deception does to a black body, a black family, and a nation teetering on the brink of moral collapse. Laymon invites us to consider the consequences of living in a country wholly obsessed with progress yet wholly disinterested in the messy work of reckoning with where we’ve been. Read Olivia Chin’s review here.

 

 

Spotlight On “Gale Virtual Reference Library”

gale

If you are not sure where to start your research or if you want some basic background information on your topic, you may want to try a reference resource. Reference resources include books like encyclopedias, dictionaries, thesauruses, and almanacs. When you can’t come into the library to use the print books, you can access a lot of this information online using the Gale Virtual Reference Library. If you need help finding background information, using Gale Virtual Reference Library, or even coming up with a topic, a Research Coach can help.

You can find a link to the Gale Virtual Reference Library on the Databases, E-books, and Media quick link on the library’s homepage. The databases are listed alphabetically, so scroll down until you see Gale Virtual Reference Library. This will give you the proper access as a Union student or employee (googling the database won’t do that).

Gale Virtual Reference Library has maps, encyclopedic entries of all types (cultural, historical, general, etc.), and dictionary entries. You can narrow your results by type of document, so if you only want maps, you can filter results for just maps. The type of document is also found underneath the results’ title in the search results list.

Another great feature of Gale databases is the reading level filter. Some Gale databases use a Lexile number where the higher the number, the higher the reading level. Others like Gale Virtual Reference Library use colored boxes with dots in them to show the reading levels. An orange box with five dots is geared for high school and above readers, while green with one dot is for early elementary readers. This can be a great way to filter results if you are wanting some simple background information or if you are looking for more technical information. You may also just filter for lower reading levels because you don’t want to go cross-eyed reading a college level text (we’ve all been there 😉). Don’t forget to schedule a Research Coach appointment if you want assistance with research or using Gale Virtual Reference Library; we are more than happy to help.