Blackout by Marc Elsberg

A cold night in Milan, Piero Manzano wants to get home.

Then the traffic lights fail. Manzano is thrown from his Alfa as cars pile up. And not just on this street – every light in the city is dead.

Across Europe, controllers watch in disbelief as electricity grids collapse.

Plunged into darkness, people are freezing. Food and water supplies dry up. The death toll soars.

Former hacker and activist Manzano becomes a prime suspect. But he is also the only man capable of finding the real attackers.

Can he bring down a major terrorist network before it’s too late?
 
 
It has been said (by a number of people) that civilization is twenty-four hours and two meals away from barbarism.

Marc Elsberg has taken that premise, wrapped it up in a taut, fast-flowing thriller and has shown how Europe and the western world can be brought to it’s knees by a small group dedicated fanatics with the technical skills and the knowledge needed to implement a coordianted, catastrophic power grid failure.

Up against them is a ex-hacker and a number of people across Europe wrapped up in bureaucratic red tape, suspicion, conflicting end goals and divided loyalties. In all honesty there were times when my sympathies lay with the terrorists but as the body count grew and the cost of their actions became clearer I felt a chill grow within me as I read.

Blackout brings home how reliant we are on a unified power network and the inability of safety services to cope with a massive collapse in infrastructure. I would like to believe that such an event is not possible, but in a world where elections can be manipulated remotely and code that can hack cars, pacemakers and the growing Internet of Things can be cobbled together by people in their bedrooms we all need to know how vulnerable we are.

Blackout had opened my eyes!

I have not read too many European thrillers, but if many of them are like Blackout then that will change!

Facts matter: push back against Misinformation now!

Following on from the awesome My Library by Right badge in 2016, the brilliant people at CILIP have released a Facts matter badge for this year.


2017 appears to be the year that the Truth has finally gotten its boots on and tightly laced!

Wearing a nifty badge is all well and good, but we as professionals need to be active and start pushing back against the lies, omissions, misinformation and alternative facts that appear to have become de riguer in the modern world.

It is a massive task and if at first it seems daunting it is good to remember that we are not alone in facing this challenge.

If you want to join up and organise, the Radical Librarians Collective is a brilliant group to get involved with:

the Radical Librarians Collective aims to offer a space to challenge, to provoke, to improve and develop the communications between like-minded radicals, to galvanise our collective solidarity against the marketisation of libraries and the removal of our agency to our working worlds and beyond.

If you are not sure where to begin, the Que(e)ry Librarians have started a resource list for libraries and library workers that wish to actively resist the spread of falsehood:

#LibrariesResist Resource List

It is a work in progress but is already fairly extensive, of particular interest is the Fake News, Propaganda, Fact Checking, Media Literacy subsection, but everything is worth reading and sharing. I would recommend checking back regularly for updates.

Also worth reading is Information Literacy Won’t Save Us; or, Fight Fascism, Don’t Create A LibGuide by Ian Clarke

If you are a member of CILIP it is a good idea to get involved with the Special Interest Groups as a committee member, even if you arejust a regular member you can start start lobbying your regional committee to take up active involvement where appropriate to educate group members about so-called ‘alternative facts’.

For those library folk reading this that are not members of CILIP it may be time to revisit your reasons that prevented you form joining or inspired you to let your membership lapse as it may be that these have changed as the organisation has changed and is more energised in working for all library & information professionals across the UK.

You can collect a Facts matter badge from CILIP HQ from next week.

Choose Books – a Trainspottingesque poster

I created a book/library version of the iconic Trainspotting Choose Life rant. The original incorporated all the sweary goodness but was not appropriate for school or public library displays so I have created an A3 pdf version with no swear words that you can download by clicking on the image below

Rattle by Fiona Cummins

rattle

The Bone Collector
 
A psychopath more frightening than Hannibal Lecter.
 
He has planned well. He leads two lives. In one he’s just like anyone else. But in the other he is the caretaker of his family’s macabre museum.
 
Now the time has come to add to his collection. He is ready to feed his obsession, and he is on the hunt.
 
Jakey Frith and Clara Foyle have something in common. They have what he needs.

Rattle is not the sort of book I usually review on TeenLibrarian, seeing as it is not a Teen, YA or children’s book. It does have children though – two delightfully vulnerable children with rare disabilities that become the focus of a serial killer’s twisted needs.

This book was an uncomfortable read for me – since becoming a parent I have become more squeamish, especially when it comes to children in thriller/serial killer fiction. I am sure that this is what Fiona Cummins was aiming for when she wrote this wonderfully, squirm-inducing book!

However… it is a cliche to say that I found it hard to put down (because I did) the war between the eww I don’t want to read this side and the gosh I have to read this and find out what happens part was won (obviously) by the ghoulish side of me that revels in dark crime fiction – and believe me Rattle is as dark and glorious as they come!

No serial killer crime thriller would be complete without the police that role is filled with the fantastically realised Detective Sergeant Etta Fitzroy a member of the Metropolitan Police haunted by a missing child case case that almost ended her career and Erdman Frith a desperate father who will do anything to find his son.

A Crafty Way to Protest

Over the weekend the world witnessed The Women’s March (against Trump); this was possibly the largest demonstration in American history; and it was not just in the USA, there were sister marches in many citiesaround the world.

This is just the beginning! One of the things we as Librarians and Library workers can do is encourage the people we work with in many small ways, one of these things is if we run crafting clubs we can provide patterns for members to make protest crafts. This is important as not everyone is able to march but may still want to show their support!

I recently read Crafting with Feminism by Bonnie Burton, a wonderful book that contains 25 Girl-Powered Projects to Smash the Patriarchy

From Feminist Badges of Honor to Next Gen Feminist Onesies this book has it all (well not all but a lot of excellent, eye-catching project ideas and patterns) to provide activity ideas for months.

These crafts are perfect for people of all genders whether you march or not

Crafting with Feminism by Bonnie Burton published by Quirk Books is available now!

Babette Cole: in Memoriam

I noticed the news starting to filter through social media yesterday around midday.

At first a number of her friends and colleagues were optimistically hopeful that the news was a practical joke that Babette had pulled as she was that kind of person.

Sadly it wasn’t and last night it was confirmed that the first person to make me fall of a chair laughing (at work) had indeed passed away.

I first encountered her work shortly after I left Library School and my Librarian qualification still had the scent of newness to it. It was a Friday – the day I spent the afternoon on duty in the Junior Library of the Fish Hoek Public Library. It was a quiet afternoon, I had shelved all the returned books, tidied up the shelves and as I recall could not quite face ordering the picture books, so I took a quick breather and grabbed a picture book at random. This book was Mummy Laid an Egg

Had I been drinking a cup of tea at the time there would have been a spit take of note but instead I laughed so much I was unable to stay seated and did indeed fall off my chair, fortunately the library was empty at this point and my dignity remained intact.

I reread it three times that afternoon and laughed each time, to this day at times when I am tired or on the verge of falling asleep I often remember the book and giggle to myself.

Mummy Laid an Egg was my first Babette Cole and after that I looked out for her books and made sure I got my hands on them as soon as possible as (and many, many people will attest) she was a phenomenal and hilarious talent!

I never knew her personally but will miss her wonderful stories and illustrations!

#TeenLibrarian Monthly January 2017

Download (PDF, 616KB)

Read the Movie / Watch the Book Display Materials

As Oscars Season is just round the corner I have put together some resources to aid library staff in schools and public libraries to put together a display of books that have been adapted into movies. An A4 colour Oscar Reading poster and five A3 pages of books for children and young people that have been adapted for the silver screen in film strips.

Download (PDF, 111KB)

Download (PDF, 1.83MB)

If anyone would like to create their own filmstrips with book covers you can download the transparent film strip here:

Scoop Magazine scoops a unique creation by two Laureates

Download (PDF, Unknown)

The Worshipful Company of Arbitrators Reading for Pleasure Offer to London Schools

The Worshipful Company of Arbitrators is committed to promoting education in its widest sense and particularly in supporting children from disadvantaged backgrounds who have fewer opportunities than others. This is a commitment that has been encouraged by successive Lord Mayors.

During 2017, the WCA Trust has decided to support literacy development and the encouragement of children’s reading for pleasure in London schools. The WCA Trust will sponsor a number of author/ illustrator / poet / storyteller visits for disadvantaged pupils in London schools, throughout 2017. The project will be organized by Sue Bastone, Mistress Arbritrator and Authors Aloud UK.

To apply for visit funding download and fill in this application form:

Download (DOCX, Unknown)