Summer Library Challenge: Survey

 This week’s challenge: “We should learn more about each others’ libraries! I have a fun survey, feel free to pick as many or as little questions to answer and include some images of your library if you like as well!”

  1. What’s the name of your library and how close is it to where you live?
    • My public library has 20 branches. The branch I visit most frequently is the head branch, which is not close to where I live, but it’s downtown on my bus route and right near my university. The building was renovated and expanded in 2005. It’s four stories and has a massive wall of windows. The park renovation was completed in 2012. It’s a great place to hang out at!
    •  My library has a great Flickr account but they don’t allow sharing of photos. Click here to see photos of the head branch (I think it’s a very cool building!)
  2. How frequently do you go to the library?
    •  At least once a week, if only for a short while. I make afternoon trips, to sit and read and browse and write, at least once a month.
  3. What is the first section you normally go to when you get to the library?
    •  If I have some time to spend,  I’ll go up to the fourth floor to non-fiction. I’ll read or write or browse up there, then I’ll pick up specific books on my way out or browse fiction/children’s on the way out. If I’m only in for a quick trip, I either pick up holds or go straight to fiction to pick up whatever I’m looking for.
  4. Share a link to your library’s webpage. How often do you use it and what for?
    • Library webpage
    • I don’t use the webpage too often (unless you include searching the catalogue – I do that every day!), but when I do it’s to look up information on programs or events.
  5. Does your library have a summer reading program for your age group? Do you participate and why or why not?
    •  Not for my age group. My library participates in the TD Summer Reads program, which is for school-aged children.
  6. What is one thing you can think of that would make your library better?
    •  Tough question! The library already has nearly everything I could ask for. Personally, I would like more specialized books on Tolkien 😉
  7. Does your library have a self checkout station and do you use it more than the circulation clerks?
    •  Yes. I rarely use the self checkout, unless there’s a large line and I’m hurrying to catch a bus. I often see people line up at a checkout clerk even if the self checkout is not being used. I wonder why that it is?
    • EDIT: From reading other people’s posts, it sounds like at other libraries the people who run the checkout desks do other things at well. At my library, there’s always someone sitting there. They don’t do anything other than sign out your books, so if you take your books to the person, you’re not preventing them from other tasks.
  8. What programs have you attended or thought of attending at your library?
    • When I was very little, my parents took me to story time. 
    • Recently I attended a presentation on tombstones given by the local genealogical society, and a dance performance specially choreographed for the steps of the library.
    • In the past I have also attended readings and presentations as part of the local writers festival.
    • There is always so much happening at my library. I hope to attend more events as part of this challenge.
  9. Do you have family that utilizes the library with you? Who is your “library buddy”?
    •  My family does use the library occasionally, but not often with me anymore. They visit the branch close to home, while I pop over to the downtown branch before or after classes. I do have a ‘library buddy’, though! I used to always see a coworker out of the blue when I went to the library. Now neither of us work at that place anymore, but we make plans to meet at the library and catch up.
  10. What is the best thing about your library?
    •  The books, of course! I should also say the architecture, as I know I will also miss the beautiful building with its high ceilings and many rows of shelves and huge windows.

Review: The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine

Author: Genevieve Valentine
Title: The Girls at the Kingfisher Club
Format/Source: eBook/ARC
Published: June 2014
Publisher: Atria Books
Length: 288 pages
Genre: Fairy tale reworking/fiction
Why I Read: 12 Dancing Princesses +Roaring Twenties!
Read If You’re: Interested in fairy tales or sister relationships
Rating:  ★★★ [ratings guide]
I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
GoodReads IndieBound Chapters | Book Depository

In The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, Genevieve Valentine sets the fairy tale of the “Twelve Dancing Princesses” in New York during the 1920s. The titular girls are twelve daughters of an awful man who wishes only to rise up in New York society. He keeps the girls locked up in the house, hiding the reminders of his wife’s failure to produce a son. He communicates only rarely with Jo, the eldest daughter, who is in charge of her sisters and organizes the nightly dancing. Her sisters call her the General for her controlling, cold behaviour. The father decides it’s the time the girls were married off, and this is where the story kicks off. The narrative is told in third-person, primarily from the perspective of Jo.

I was initially apprehensive towards the style, as it’s not the kind I’m used to. It felt odd to me – choppy, sparse description, lots of parentheses – but I came to appreciate it once I settled into the rhythm. I do like the use of bracketed asides. At first I thought there were too many, but they level out and Valentine nearly always uses them to strong effect (to convey character, share a snippy piece of dialogue, etc.). The prose is very bare, focusing on the characters and their actions, their thoughts conveyed as part of their behaviour. In this manner the book feels like a fairy tale, which often just relay the action of the story. This is not a criticism – I liked that the story, despite being a novel and a modern reworking, still felt like a fairy tale due to its style and plot. There were lots of bits of prose where I thought “That’s a great line!”, and I enjoyed reading about the sisters’ interactions (how they act with each other, how they act with the men with whom they dance).

However, the bare prose was cause for disappointment in another area. I was expecting a story where the era was as much of a character as the girls. This is not the case. It felt like the twenties were used as a setting just to give the girls a reason to go out dancing every night, although the decade is crucial to the plot beyond this. For me, the story didn’t truly feel as though it was set in the twenties, despite the use of keywords such as bob-haired, Charleston, and feather headbands. Perhaps the sense of being set in the twenties conflicts with the sense of the story being a fairy tale. I just didn’t feel it.

I was prepared to embrace this book, as it has all the elements of a story I love. But something kept me from becoming completely enthralled. I didn’t feel pulled towards the story, though I didn’t ever feel like I should stop reading. Perhaps it’s the focalization of the story through Jo, who I never felt connected with, though I understood and sympathized with her actions. Or maybe it’s that the prose style, which I admired from a technical point of view, didn’t resonate with me emotionally. It could be that I never felt the twenties vibe which I was looking forward to. Whatever it was, something prevented this story from resonating with me. But, I liked reading this book. I don’t think it’s a bad book. Perhaps another reader might be able to connect with it.

The Bottom Line: Something prevented me from deeply enjoying this book, though I can’t quite pinpoint why. However, it was an enjoyable read. Don’t read it because it’s set in the Roaring Twenties or because you’re looking for a deep story to connect with – read it because you love a fairy tale.

Armchair BEA: Wrap-up (incl. Giveaway Winner)

Here we are at the end of ArmchairBEA. This week went by in a whirlwind. I hadn’t decided to participate until last Saturday, just before the week kicked off. I don’t want to get caught in too many blogger events, but since I haven’t participated in any events focused primarily on connecting with the community I thought this would be a good event for me. I was correct! I have discovered so many great bloggers/blogs I don’t know how I would have found otherwise, and I have gained new followers here, on Twitter, and on GoodReads. Thank-you so so much to everyone who has taken the time to come visit and encourage my fledgling blog! Please feel free to add me on GoodReads and follow me on Twitter if you haven’t already. 

I participated in four Twitter chats (Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday). I won two prizes (both from Friday – one Twitter party, one topic 5). I wrote six posts specifically for Armchair BEA:

  1. Monday: Introduction
  2. Tuesday: Author Interaction
  3. Wednesday: Novellas/Short Stories
  4. Thursday: Giveaway
  5. Friday: Middle Grade
  6. Saturday: This one

Giveaway Winner

The winner of my giveaway is Kai @ Fiction State of Mind. She wins the Best American Comics 2011. Thank-you to everyone who stopped by my blog and participated! I enjoyed reading all your comments – now I’m off to reply to them.