Monday, February 27, 2012

I Just Finished Reading.....

The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green

Without Pain, How Could We Know Joy?  “(This is an old argument in the field of Thinking About Suffering, and its stupidity and lack of sophistication could be plumbed for centuries, but suffice it to say that the existence of broccoli does not in any way affect the taste of chocolate.)” – from The Fault in Our Stars

Witty, intelligent, funny, heart-breaking, joyful, and unabashedly real.  If these are qualities that you look for in a novel, I highly recommend The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. 

The Fault in Our Stars is told by Hazel Grace Lancaster.  Hazel is sixteen years old and suffers from a cancer that affects her lungs.  She is terminal and she is very aware of this fact.  I know you are probably beginning to think, “Wow. What a depressing piece of writing this must be.”  I assure you, depression is not one of the emotions I felt as I traveled through this brief part of Hazel’s life with her.  I experienced hope, enlightenment, frustration, and new perspectives on people and situations.  The time we spend with Hazel during this novel is less than a year in her world.  In that brief period, I learned so much!! 

We have the privilege of joining Hazel as she meets a couple of extraordinary people.  These people are not necessarily famous, but just real people with inspiring perspectives on the simplicities of life.  The thing that I enjoyed most about this particular book in John Green’s repertoire, is the intelligent banter and thoughtful views of the characters. 

On John Green

This is the fourth novel I have read by John Green.  He quickly became one of my new favorite authors when I read Looking For Alaska a few years ago.  I also very much enjoyed Paper Towns.  Intelligent, thought-provoking characters are a theme throughout his writing.  I suppose this is the main thing that draws me to his work.  I love to challenge my own ideas and be reflective.  These books do not disappoint in that area.  I encourage you to give John Green a shot.  All three titles mentioned in this post are available at Haltom City Public Library for check out  J

Until Next Time,
Your Library Blog Maven

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sweet Treats For Your OWN Sweet Heart

During this week of Valentine’s Day, I invite you all to treat yourselves.  Undoubtedly, we all could use a sweet treat of some kind.  It’s the stuff we all live for.  The good stuff!  I urge you to peruse the following bits of information and suggestions, and plan yourself a Valentine’s treat  J

I have assembled some suggestions based on a few of my own interests with the help of the fantastic materials available at our library.  Below you will find exciting books to read and movies to watch, fun and educational things to make, and a delicious recipe to try.  


For the Eyes

Here, you will find some book and movie titles.  These titles are stories that involve some variation of love.  Mostly the romantic kind, but occasionally the friendship kind.  So, whether you are in the “mood for love”, or just in the mood to read about a sweet friendship; there will be something for you on the list (I hope!)  I have selected titles from a couple of genres for you to choose from J


TEEN (but very enjoyable for adults as well):

The Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer (romantic)

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Series  by Ann Brashares  (friendship)

Any books by Sarah Dessen (romance and friendship)


The Mitford Series by Jan Karon  (romance and friendship)


Books by:

Debbie McComber, Catherine Coulter, Janet Evanovich, or Jude Deveraux

Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak


Any novel written by Nicolas Sparks (romance and friendship)

Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts (romance and friendship)

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells (friendship)


Books that are now movies:

The Twilight Series (Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn)
Divine Secrets of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood  (Sandra Bullock)

Doctor Zhivago  (Julie Christie)
Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (America Fererra, Alexis Bledel)

Bridget Jones’s Diary  (Renee Zellweger)

The Time Traveler’s Wife (Rachel McAdams)

Marley & Me (Jennifer Aniston)

Just Movies:

Say Anything (John Cusack)
Sabrina  (Audrey Hepburn)

Because I Said So  (Mandy Moore, Diane Keaton)

Guess Who (Bernie Mac, Ashton Kutcher)

Mama Mia  (Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep)

Fun To Do

In conjunction with last week’s post, I am including a list of books on papercrafting.  These books are full of really creative and fun ways to decorate with papers.  They also show you how to make things like cards, mobiles, jewelry holders, paper flowers, and lampshades.  Have fun!!

Decorating With Papercraft by Clare Youngs

Sew Easy Papercrafts by Rebekah Meier

Big Book of Papercrafts by Vivienne Bolton

New Papercrafts by Marie Browning

Gift Wrapping & Greeting Cards by Lydia Darbyshire

A Sweet  (and heart healthy) Snack

Pear Crumble



1 ½ C. old-fashioned rolled oats                 1/3 C. whole-wheat flour

½ C. chopped walnuts                                   ½ tsp. ground cinnamon

½ C. packed brown sugar                             5 Tbsp. canola oil


3 ½ lbs. ripe, but firm Anjou pears, peeled and cut into ½ in. pieces

½ C. pure maple syrup

½ C. raisins

2 Tbsp. All purpose flour

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 tsp. minced crystalized ginger


1.      Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.     To prepare the topping: Combine oats, walnuts, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.  Drizzle with oil and stir until evenly moist.

3.     To prepare filling: Combine pears, maple syrup, raisins, flour, lemon juice, and ginger in a large bowl and mix well.  Transfer the mixture to a 9x13 in baking dish.  Sprinkle the topping over the pears.

4.     Bake the crumble until the pears are tender and the topping is golden, 45-50 min.  Let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving. 

Makes 14 servings. 

 Until Next Week,
  Your Library Blog Maven

Monday, February 6, 2012

Heartfelt History

In continued observance of the heart this month, I would like to post this week on the history behind Valentine’s Day.  It seems that this holiday is rooted in confusion, and came about as the result of one large mistake followed by several transitions.  I find this amusing, as well as fitting, since matters of the heart can often be confusing, full of mistakes, and lead to transitions  J

In the Beginning

It all started in Rome (as many things do) with an execution in the year 270.  Valentine was a holy priest in Rome who refused to renounce his faith and was, therefore, ordered to be beaten with clubs and then beheaded.  These orders were executed on February 14th.  A church was built in memory of Valentine, and his execution was a remembered event.   The festival of Lupercalia, a way of celebrating spring, took place on a fixed date every year (February 15th). 

In later years when the early Christians were replacing pagan superstitions and dates with those of the Christian belief, they used martyred saints to substitute old festivals.  (This is the “large mistake” I spoke of earlier)  St. Valentine was martyred on the 14th of February and the Lupercalia festival took place on the 15th of February.  From this moment on, the 14th of February (already connected with Valentine) became associated with the memory of the spring festival where “a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love”. 

A Paper Trail

Fast forward to the 14th century.  Through poetry, St. Valentine (and his springtime association) is connected with the mating of birds.  In the early 1400’s, a series of letters exchanged in the Paston family provided the conduit through which the Valentine association morphed from mating fowl to courting lovers.  These letters set the precedent for many songs and ballads to declare that the 14th of February be a day on which to choose a sweetheart.  This custom prevailed for the next two centuries.

We learn about the origin of the Valentine card from letters written by Samuel Pepy in the 1600’s.  In these letters, he describes how on the morning of Valentine’s Day, he would write his wife’s name extravagantly in gold lettering on blue paper.  He presented this to her as a token of his affections. 

By the 1800’s, visiting cards had become popular.  These cards were elaborately decorated and inscribed with a person’s name.  It was customary to go around at the New Year to visit friends and leave these cards with a seasonal greeting written on them.  This custom was adapted by lovers.  They would create cards in the same manner replacing the seasonal message with an affectionate one, and exchange them at random with their sweetheart. 

Being interested in certain aspects of history, I found this evolution of custom to be very entertaining.  The book I used to reference most of the facts in this post contains pictures of some of the oldest Valentine cards found in the world.  They are absolutely breath-taking.  The act of creating a Valentine for someone was a very personal thing in the early part of our history.  The Valentines are very ornate, delicate, and beautiful.  It is obvious that much time and care was taken to make these tokens by hand.  They are so much more personal than what you find at the local greeting card store now.  As you contemplate how to celebrate the love in your life (whether it be a sweetheart or a friend; a family member, or even yourself), I encourage you to get back into history and back to your childhood when we made our Valentines from colored paper, glue, and scissors.  Consider making a Valentine from “scratch” for someone dear to you.  I also recommend checking out the book that was referenced in this post:

The Valentine & Its Origins by Frank Staff

It is available at the Haltom City Public Library.

Until Next Week,
Your Library Blog Maven