Sunday, December 31, 2006

Flu! - or something. The bathroom and I have spent the past 15 hours becoming better acquainted. I would take the aches and chills of flu over any kind of stomach problem. And today I seem to have both.
What have I read lately? It's hard to concentrate when you don't feel good. But BEFORE I got sick, I read the latest installment in Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series AND the latest Charles Todd Ian Rutledge mystery. Of course, I can't remember the titles so just a minute - Okay, Winspear's book is "A Messenger of Truth". Todd's book is "A Long Shadow."

Winspear - when a graduate from Maisie's old school asks her to clear up any confusion over an artist's "accidental" death, Maisie is introduced to the Bohemian side of Britain's landed gentry. The aftermath of World War I has changed the economic status of many wealthy families and has made the lot of the working poor even more desperate. Maisie is suffering from the aftermath of a "breakdown" and her relationship with a young doctor further complicates things. This is a measured mystery and a satisfying entry to the series.

Charles Todd, actually a collaboration between a mother and a son, writes a creepy post WWI series of mysteries, starring the barely recuperated shell shocked Inspector Ian Rutledge, and the ghost that haunts him, his murdered sergeant, Hamish. (Sorry, Hamish, I forget your last name.) Rutledge's superior has sent him out to investigate the bow-and-arrow attack on a local constable, once a London police officer. The village has been reeling from the disappearance of a young girl just a few years earlier and the wounded officer is a suspect. There is a haunted wood involved and someone is stalking Rutledge and leaving shell casings in his car and on his bed. And what of the woman who leads seances? Just exactly what does she suspect of Rutledge's precarious mental state? Pretty creepy stuff.

And then there's Nina Bawden and her book, "Granny the Pag". Nina writes for adults and children and her books have been turned into BBC features. The most recent BBC movie is "Carrie's War", a story of a girl's adjustment to being relocated during WW II.
"Granny the Pag" takes place in present day Britain. Cat lives with her grandmother, since her actor parents are too busy pursuing their careers to look after her. Her grandmother is not a typical grandmother. She's a well-known doctor, a therapist, who chain smokes, wears old, tattered or outlandish clothing and drives a Harley. (Her Black Vincent has been put in a museum.)
Cat and her grandmother are happy with the arrangement but two things converge to shake up their world. Cat draws the attention of the school bully, Willy Green. All the teachers at school think Willy is an angel and the head master accuses Cat of bullying him. Willy's father is a powerful man, as well. And Cat's parents have arrived, acting-wise, bought a house and want their daughter to live with them. Granny is stuck between her daughter and her grand daughter and it is up to Cat to start the ball rolling on a solution.
I liked the book because the bully's character is not black and white. By the end of the book, the reader sees him as a victim. (Granny takes him for a ride on her motorcycle.) And the psychological warfare that Cat's parents wage is impressive if finally ineffective.

I'm not sure what has happened to Bawden. She hasn't published any new kid's books for several years. I hope she's still around.
This is my last post for 2006. Tomorrow starts a New Year! Whoo hoo! Happy New Year everyone. Let me know what you are reading.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Holidays are coming, ho ho ho! My attention span is....hey what's that?
Anyway, where was I? Snowflakes. It's raining cats and I want to share something. I can't concentrate. Help! Help! The snacks in the staff lounge are stalking meeeee!

Ok, ok, I think I'm better. Yesterday, I found two cool sites. Snowdays by Popularfront.com let's you make snowflakes and someone contributes money to the Salvation Army for every snowflake. You can print your snowflakes out or email them to friends and you can comment on other people's snowflakes. It's a whole lot of fun and you get to do good, too.
The other cool site was Make-a-Flake This site is harder to negotiate. Those virtual scissors are wicked but it is easier to figure out how to print your snowflake out. Take a look at both.

As for reading, well, ahem, ahem...I've been reading the same blasted book for a whole week. It's "The Mysterious Benedict Society" by Trenton Lee Stewart and I'm reading the ARP. It's pretty darn exciting - if you like orphans-sent-off-to-fight-evil- mind-control-freaks kind of books. I hope to finish it soon. BTW, it's not due to be published until March. It's just that it's the holidays (whine, whine,) and I have so much to doooooo. So I can't read all the time like I like to.

HOWEVER, I did get the coolest book for the library - Danny Seo's Simply Green Giving" (I linked you to Danny's blog and not to Amazon.com. If you're that interested you can go to Amazon yourself.) Danny is a young environmentalist/decorator type person and he has great ideas for last minute gift wrapping and gifts that use stuff people normally throw away.

Talking about last minute holiday preparations, check out this next website as well. Thrifty Fun has recipes for cool gifty things, mostly food, that you can make and hand out to your friends and family. (You'll have to scroll down to get to the GOOD ones.) I'm interested in the chocolate dipped stuff. The danger there is that my friends and family may never see the results.

And Family Fun's site has some cool last-minute make 'em gifts, too. These ideas are for kids as well as grown-ups so if you have some of those (kids) at home, get them started on the gifts and when they get bored with that set them up to make snowflakes.

Lastly, if you live in the Lehigh Valley, then get yourself over to Godfrey Daniels on Sunday, December 17th at 2 p.m. I intend to perform my very first accordion wrestling act and tell a story simultaneously - or not. (I WILL tell a story and I WILL wrestle with an accordion but I may not actually do them simultaneously. I'm practicing but accordion wrestling is HARD!) John Callahan (not the mayor of Bethlehem) and Kathy Long will also tell stories. So, the whole afternoon will be tons of fun. Be there. It's a pretty cheap outing ($4.50 per) and I would appreciate it soooo much.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Alas, no one reads this blog but I DON"T CARE!!! I have something to say and, darn it, I will say it.

Thanksgiving done, I found my inner-reader and sat down to immerse myself in teen chick lit. I read "Peaches" by Jodi Lynn Anderson and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was in such a good mood. The dishes were done. I had no programs to plan for. My article (for a local freebie weekly) wasn't due for another 36 hours and it was mostly written. So, on Saturday (this past Saturday) I did nothing but read. Oh, and I took a walk and made leftovers for supper.

So the book (Peaches, see above) is about these three teen girls who are totally different. They know about each other since they all live in the same town but one is a wild woman, daughter of the town "slut". One is the home-schooled daughter of the peach orchard's owner. Her mother left recently. And one is the second daughter of the "best" family in those parts and cousin to the peach girl. The three of them meet up at Spring Break at the orchard and work with the migrants and connect, sort of. But when summer rolls around they all return and bond with each other and some cute guys. Of course, there are some roadblocks to total summer chick bonding happiness and it looks like the orchard's going to be turned into condos but in the end... Oh read it. Not all endings are happy, just the best ones. I actually think I liked this better than the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series.

I felt so good after I finished "Peaches"!! The world was drenched in sunlight and grace. A fun read will do that to you.

I also picked up Philip Gulley's "If God is Love", a testimonial on Gulley's theology. Gulley's style is so easy to read - as evidenced in his "Harmony" series - that this is one inspirational book I won't have to labor through.

I discovered some new holiday books - in bookstores, book reviews and online - and some old favorites. NO ONE responded to the desperate plea in my last post. No matter! I have friends and family who DID tell me their favorite holiday reading, although the friend who told me she reads vampire books was not altogether helpful. I may even post my informal survey results here early in December. Vampire books will not be on that list. I'll save them for my Valentine's Day list. Hehehehehe!

Anyway, as to NEW holiday books, Dave Barry came out with a memoir-like novel, "The Shepherd, the Angel and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog". Only Dave Barry could write a Christmas book in which frozen bat poop plays a dramatically important part. So read it already.

"The Best Christmas Ever" by Chih-Yuan Chen is my favorite picture book for the year. A poor family has a surprisingly satisfying Christmas, rediscovering their favorite things. The illustrations are spare and full of feeling.

I have a list of my ten favorite -or rather - most notable new books for Holidays 2006. I'll post that with my survey results, too.

Well, that's enough for now. I have books to order and catalog.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Favorite Holiday Books!

Quick! Email me the title of your favorite Christmas, Hanukkah or Winter Holiday book (Kwanzaa anyone, Solstice, perhaps?) Just click on Comments and write a sentence about why you like the book.
I'll post everyone's favorite after Thanksgiving. Names are optional ofcourse.
As I have been telling everyone this week, I have been either sick or away during the last four weeks. So, I have not written anything anywhere except for some journaling on our recent vacation.
Vacations are good. Getting to and from vacations - this could be majorly improved. What good does it do to spend several days relaxing when the trip home turns into a 24 hour marathon of waiting for postponed flights, crawling in stalled traffic and coming home to bills and "urgent" phone messages from two days before?
If someone comes up with Star Trek-type transporter technology I am certainly interested. Of course, it will probably be unbearably painful, or scramble your brains, or something equally horrible.
Ear infections are bad and although I THINK I have banished the nasty bug I still get dizzy several times a day. No one notices though.
As to reading? HA! For the first month in memory, I have not finished a book - at least not since my last post. I have four books home from the library and I might even finish the fourth Charlie Bone book. I started Foundling, the first book in the Monster Blood Tattoo series and it was mesmerizing - until I put it down. Now, I don't really want to continue it. If anyone HAS finished this book, please send me some encouragement. Scrambled Eggs at Midnight is another book waiting for my attention. I read the first chapter and I think I might actually like it - even though it is another "dysfunctional parent dragging around over-responsible teen" novel. We all think our parents fit that description at some point in our lives so we can relate.
So instead of writing about books I will write about my exciting life - something I try hard not to do but oh well.
I told stories for/with a local drum circle's first Halloween bash and it was so much fun. People of all ages, sexes, and races showed up in costume. Some even decorated their drums. The music store provided djembes and rhythmn instruments for people which is good since my only drum is a large frame drum that I don't like to play. (It looks great on the wall, though.)
The leader is an enthusiastic charismatic woman who really goaded these drummers into pounding away. So we drummed for about half an hour.
Then, I told three stories and the drummers played sound effects and it was very very exciting to be hollering over the pounding drums. Then we drummed for another 20 minutes, voted for our favorite costumes and drums and faded into the night.
Drumming is a work-out and a totally relaxing outlet. I wish this group didn't meet on Mondays, though, since I have a long-standing commitment that night.
Then, hubberoo and I went on vacation to Florida - ahh shucks, now you know I don't live in Florida - and on a Carnival cruise. We haven't found a cruise yet that isn't fun and relaxing but we probably won't cruise with Carnival again. The food wasn't up to our exacting standards. We are cruise-food snobs.
Yesterday was marathon day. I belong to a non-profit weight loss organization, TOPS, that held a motivational meeting from 9 to 3 yesterday. I dreaded going since I had a performance in the evening. But, the volunteer organizers (and most of them are unpaid volunteers) put together a truly enjoyable day of activities, awards and motivational talks.
As a fund raiser this year, local chapters donated gift baskets and we held a raffle. I WON!! one of the baskets. After I won, two members of the chapter that donated that basket came up to tell me that there was an Avon collectible soap dish with the original soap in it in the basket and the dish had been valued at $200. Sure enough the dish is engraved with the date 1977. I guess I have to learn how to sell stuff on eBay. Unless one of my loyal readers wants to buy it. Make me an offer.
Well, then I went home, practiced my story and headed off to our performance venue for Tellabration Lehigh Valley. Four of my teen tellers were there and after a disastrous attempt at practicing and moving props around (that we never used)the performance began. Robin Reichert and John Callahan told two very engaging and very different stories. The Black Rose Teen Tellers were third in the rotation and they were great! The story they chose was one they wrote themselves and all of them managed to remember their lines and adlib with style and aplomb. I wish all the teens had been there because I really would like to sit back and watch them as they do their ensemble piece. Unfortunately, we were shy a teen or two so I had to step in. Then, I told a story and the night of storytelling was over. (I think I did a good job of telling, too.)
But weirdness set in. I carried some things down to my car - with the able and much appreciated help of a teen's father and grandfather - but we couldn't get back up to the fourth floor. First the elevator refused to move. Then it went up and refused to open its doors. One of the fathers tried it by himself and was surprised to find himself on the same floor and then another father tried it and came back to say the doors would not open. Ooooooooo! Weeeeeird! Probably some kind of security thing.
THEN, our storytelling guild had a late night meeting at a local diner and I had to attend. Talk about exhausted!
Today, I visited with friends and family and now I am visiting with you. Let me know what you are reading.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

I love my laptop. I am ensconced in the recliner in my slippers and robe with my handy little space heater making me all toasty. Perhaps I will write an ode to my laptop. I wrote an article while handing out candy to trick-or-treaters the other night - using my handy laptop. Of course, I could have used a notebook and pen but then I'd have to type it all into my laptop anyway.

So what have you been reading? Not this blog that's for sure since I get little or no comments. Let's have a little sharing here!

I have been reading the books of Philip Gulley, a Quaker minister who writes about a (gasp) Quaker minister who returns to pastor the Meeting he grew up in, in Harmony, Indiana. I tell my teenagers that these books are for those of us with a few years behind us since most of the characters are in their 30s and up - way up in some cases.
We Quakers in the Blue States will have a hard time recognizing the entrenched conservatism of Harmony but committee meetings are the same throughout the entire Quaker world. Similar to Jan Karon's Mitford series, the Harmony series is a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek look at a town in which people have "always done things this way" and of the young pastor who loves that town, unreservedly.

I wanted to tell you about the books I am going to read. One of my good dragon friends went into NYC and picked up Tamora Pierce's book, Terrier and got Tammie to sign it for me. I am so excited. I should stop typing and start reading right this instance! Except I won't. I wanted to tell you about the two books on my desk at work but I don't remember what they are. Oh wait, Monster Blood Tattoo is one and that has received a lot of positive attention out there in YA Fantasy land.

My memory is a bit hazy because I have been cursed with some awful ear infections and that sinussy, sniffy thing that has been going around. The library sounds like a tuberculosis ward some days with all the coughing and hacking and hoarse whispers of sore throat misery. But yesterday, I felt SO MUCH BETTER. I had two programs back to back at the library with grade school kids and then I went through my poster stash pulling out all the Children's Book Week posters that I and my predecessor collected over the years. (Children's Book Week is November 13th -19th this year. )

And then, because I was all better hehehehe, I went to the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild's Fright Night at Little Pond Retreat Center in Bath or Nazareth or somewhere in between. We told in the barn, not on the hilltop because of the wind and rainy conditions. The barn is a way cool place to tell spooky stories. The wind rushes through the trees and since the barn has one whole screened side (not suitable for overnight stays in winter) you can hear the stream that rushes beside the driveway and the trees whispering in the wind. The door at the end of the barn bangs from time to time and rustling and pounding noises race over the tin and timber roof. We had some excellent stories, including mine, and some very scary moments.

Then I came home went to bed and woke up (surprise) exhausted and achy and hence the robe and slippers of the first paragraph. I will bestir myself to put the chicken in the oven and maybe do a little bit of house work (itsy bitsy tiny bit of housework. Maybe I'll hang up a dish towel or something.) but today is official lying around day.

Take a look at Library Thing. You can catalog your personal collection of books and share that list with others. Some YA and high school librarians use Library Thing to showcase their collections and I may do that sometime. But not today (see above.)

Back to Children's Book Week - during November the Parkland Community Library collects used children's books and distributes them to agencies that work with at-risk and low income kids in the Lehigh Valley. So clean your shelves. You're not really going to keep "Fuzzy Bunny learns to read", are you? Yeah, I would, too. But there are probably some books you can part with.

We are also collecting used eyeglasses and hearing aids for the local Lion's Clubs. I wish I had the sky blue pink cat glasses I wore in third grade to donate. They would be so in style right now.
See you at the library.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The library closes in 5 minutes! Please bring all materials that you wish to check out to the front desk, NOW!!
Hmmm, the library closes in 4 minutes and I have to leave.
Good-night library
Inside your books secrets wait
for someone to find them

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Artemis Fowl : the Lost Colony!! WOW! The beginning is typical Colfer with Artemis and Butler staking out a busy street in Barcelona. But the introduction of a couple of new characters, magical and not, add another dimension to these fairy/action thriller novels. Artemis is undergoing puberty (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).
Colfer does some very creative foreshadowing and there are some extremely tense moments in this book. I actually used less than ladylike language at one point. I don't want to say too much because the book needs to be read to be believed. The Lost Colony is made up of demons - I will tell you that. And there is a particularly odious human bad guy, too. Eoin Colfer knows what he's doing. I certainly hope he plans to write a few more books with these characters. - maybe even start a spin-off series. He might have to if he keeps developing such likeable imps and pixies.
I had a brush with the Accelerated Reader demons this week. I wish I had come up with that idea. I'd be dictating this blog to one of my personal assistants from my cabana on my own private beach somewhere in Tahiti. Anyway, Accelerated Reader has done wonderful things for reading programs at schools all over the USA. It's just unwieldy for public librarians to keep track of - since every school can have a separate and different list and the schools change the lists almost every year. But, I am up for this challenge. I will meet the ARP demons head on and turn them into helpful cherubs. I bet.
Tah. Real life calls.

Friday, September 15, 2006

I have been busy reading and it's just wonderful. A good book is as refreshing as a vacation and a whole lot cheaper - AND you don't have to pack.

Okay - Nancy Atherton's Latest Aunt Dimity book, "Aunt Dimity and the Deep Blue Sea" stars the same feisty heiress and mom of 5-year-old twins, Lori Shepard. In this book, Lori is sent under deep cover because her hunky lawyer husband has been receiving dastardly threats on his life and the safety of his loved ones. Off she goes in a private heliocopter to a castle in Scotland!!!!! with her twins. She is given her very own unsmiling mysterious bodyguard. Adventure ensues including a mystery about the possible criminal activities of the villagers. Fun, fluffy and forever optimistic, here's a book that is an antidote to everyday stress.

And THEN there's "I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You" by Ally Carter. May I introduce The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women and its headmistress' daughter, Cammie Morgan? Graduates of the Gallagher Academy are free to pursue whatever career their unusual education has prepared them for but what careers require cryptography, martial arts, Cultures of the World, seven languages and Covert Operations? Yep! Spy girls in plaid skirts. On her very first Covert Operation exercise, Cammie meets a boy from town and falls in love. She creates a "legend" for herself and leads a double life for a semester, sneaking down the secret passages of the Virginia mansion that houses the school. Add to this, she and her best friends are forced to room with the punk - brat daughter of a powerful senator. Here's an excellent romp - in which not everything or everyONE is what they seem. Fun, fun, fun! Another escape from reality.

I was reading the above book one morning while my husband talked to me. I TRIED not to read. It's not polite but, hey! He's been married to me for a decade or two (or ...) He ought to know by now that he can't talk to me while I have a book in front of me. His voice is in the background as my eyes steal back to the page and I feel my lips curl up in an unconscious smile. Oh no! I hope he isn't talking about something serious. I force my attention back to him for a full minute and then my eyes slip down again. It's hopeless. If there is a Readers' Anonymous out there, I will NEVER join. This is an addiction I don't want to lose.

And last, "The Beasts of Clawstone Castle" by Eva Ibbotsen. Here's another ghost story from a mistress of British fantasy. When Madlyn and Rollo's parents are offered a temporary job in America, the children are sent off to Clawstone Castle, a crumbling ruin. They get to stay with Great-Uncle George, his sister, Aunt Ellen and cousin Howard, who can be seen through quite literally. Clawstone Castle is the home of the mystical white cows of Britain and the local rich industrialist wants the land for housing developments. Madlyn and Rollo come up with a plan and with the help of shy Cousin Howard, they recruit a group of benevolent ghosts to haunt the castle and bring in paying visitors. There are some very tense moments when the cows are sent off to be slaughtered. Read it. It's fun.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Just in case you haven't experienced Lemony Snicket, he and his partner in disaster, Brett Helquist, give you a chance to catch up with "The Series of Unfortunate Events" in their web video "12 books in 120 seconds". You can watch this - if you are clinically depressed and need company - at http://www.lemonysnicket.com/vilevideos/ So take a couple of minutes and find out how bad things can be.

A good antidote to grief is to spend an hour or so with teenagers -which is what I and my young assistant did last night. Except for the fact that I messed up one of the teen team's scavenger hunt clues, a good time was had by all. And we even had a little leftover pizza.
One of the good things about these late night meetings is what happens afterwards. Often the other Youth Services staff member and I sit around and catch up with each other. Usually, that staff member is my sidekick but last night it was our summer intern. I have to admit, I meet some of the best people at my job and she is definitely one of the them.

But the best thing about after-hours teen meetings is the teens themselves. The teens at last night's party came from seven different schools. Everyone found someone to work with and talk to. Of course, they are joined in their attempt to heap ridicule on my head but I prefer to think that they do it all affectionately. (I truly, truly hope so!) I know I have said it before but it needs repeating. The best teens volunteer where I work. True!

Friday, September 8, 2006

A library volunteer has died. I am grieving. As we grow older this experience becomes routine and yet the shock of knowing that I will never hear her New York accent, her family stories, her laugh again - that NEVER becomes routine.
Maybe this is why I immerse myself in children's matters. Children change and grow but they look forward. When people die, we are forced to look back. Looking back is good, of course, but after a death it is ALL we can do if we want to keep in contact with that person's influence on us.
I meant to put a link to something silly in my blog today. I will leave that to another time. A library volunteer has died. I am in mourning.

Sunday, September 3, 2006

Last spring, Okuni sent me a "Summer Reading Club Preparedness Kit" that included the memoir of a well known Southwestern author. I finally got around to reading that memoir. It is "Seldom Disappointed" by Tony Hillerman. (His website is www.tonyhillermanbooks.com
Anyway, I think Arthur Conan Doyle said happy lives are all the same. Tony HIllerman has had a pretty darn good life. I found the book amusing, and nostalgic even though Hillerman is the age of my parents. Reading about his childhood in Oklahoma was like visiting my parents' childhoods - though they grew up far from the Southwest. Hillerman had no idea he could even be a writer until after WWII, when a local reporter suggested he try writing after seeing some of the letters he sent home.

The parts of the book that I liked best were his stories of his childhood and his walk through what went before and during the writing of his most notable books - notable to him AND to his readers. I have read most of the novels that take place on the Navaho reservation and environs so it was fun to see how he pieced together his plots, characters and solutions.

Next, I was intrigued with how he described his war experience. It was pretty gritty. After college, he got work as a newspaperman in Texas and then in Santa Fe. The best part about those reminiscences was being introduced to characters he used in his books.

I don't read a lot of memoirs although there has been a recent upsurge in their publication and popularity. I'm a fiction woman, through and through. Fiction usually has a destination and purpose. Life - real life - sometimes meanders. This memoir wandered a bit. The one place Hillerman did not linger was in his family life. He talks briefly - one chapter I think - about the arrival of all six of his children, some adopted, some not. And he lets the reader know how things turned out for all six of them. He credits his wife Marie for several pivotal changes in their lives - like his decision to go to graduate school and his attempt to finally write his "dream" book, ("Finding Moon" - not a Navaho book but a good read with lots of action and some neat characters.) But we don't learn much about her life. This is HIS memoir after all and he's done so much in his life that he really did have to pick and choose what to put in.

Other memoirists have sad tales to tell ("Angela's Ashes", for instance) or challenges to overcome. It was great to read a book by a fantastic writer who has had a happy life and found himself "Seldom Disappointed".

Thursday, August 31, 2006

I just had a great librarian moment. I was able to suggest some books to someone who LOVES Kate DiCamillo. It is a problem when you find an author whose works you like immensely. Those authors can never write fast enough to please the rest of us. Whenever I finish a book in a series I enjoy, I have a few days withdrawal and every book I pick up is NOT the right book.

I'm there right now. I want to read something fun, but with a little meat on its bones - no fluffy chick lit, or series mystery, right now. That's summer reading - for when I'm too frazzled to concentrate. I'm not sure I want fantasy. Maybe a complex mystery would suit. Everything I pick up is NOT the right title.

There is a cool database which is available to Pennsylvania library card holders called Novelist (There's a Novelist K-8, too). When you enter your favorite book's title, right under the entry that comes up is a button that says "Find similar books" or something like that. Then you just have to check off some themes that appeal to you and voila! a list of possible suspects appears. This database may be available to people in other states but in PA, you can get to Novelist through your library's website and PowerLibrary. So when you are searching for a good read similar to your last good read, Novelist and Novelist K-8 are both good sites to look at.

What have I read recently? Well, we're on a Meg Cabot kick this summer so I picked up her new 20-something novel "Size 12 is Not Fat". You got that right, Meg! It's a mystery and it is the first of three, so far. Heather (Last name forgotten) left school in her teens to be a pop singer and was successful to a degree until she wanted to write her own songs. Now she's the assistant residential director in a "residence hall" (college dorm) in New York City. Her ex-fiance is a still successful pop singer who did NOT demand to write his own songs. He shows up a couple of times in this book. And her landlord (she doesn't get to live in the residence hall) is her ex-fiance's big brother, who lets her live rent-free because Heather does his billing. He's a PI and he's hunky. Anyway, if Heather keeps the job for six months, she can take classes tuition free. This is her new plan for survival.

When a girl with no enemies or serious problems is found dead at the bottom of the residence hall elevator shaft, Heather begins to wonder - but when another shy freshman is also found dead (same elevator shaft), she thinks she has a killer in her dorm. Her landlord, Cooper, has to save her butt a couple of times and her ex shows up at inopportune moments. He is such a - what's a polite word for jerk that also insinuates that he's a wimp and a...well, he's that.

I also read "The Tale of Holly How" by Susan Wittig Albert. This is a mystery for adults but it has all these talking animals in it so that was a little weird. I enjoyed it though. One of the main adult characters is Beatrix Potter. Albert has a series of mysteries starring Potter (Beatrix) and since Potter was famous for anthropomorphizing the fauna of England's Cotswalds (or is it the Lake District, I forget) I guess talking animals are not out of place. Nice sense of place.

And I have been reading my brother's book - a self-help book - on how to be happy. It's good. I hope he finds a publisher. Then I will write about it here and everybody else can be happy, too.

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and a friend has already challenged me to sign up for the event. The challenge is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I have trouble writing 500 words in a week. But I just might do it this year. The website for this event is www.nanowrimo.org if any of you want to try it.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The summer is drawing to a close. I know, for a lot of people, that is a sad thing but for Children's Library people - all over the country - there is a lightness of being. "Ahhh", Children's Library people are saying to themselves very quietly, "at long last, summer is almost over". So they are smiling more widely and they are even more ebullient than usual.
I, too, am smiling more widely these days - between the yawns.
I must report that the Black Rose Teen Tellers and I are winding up an excellent week of games, stories and fun for 14 lucky storytelling kids. Tomorrow we will run a full day of practice, more games, some interviews, and more games and then at noon, Moms, Dads and siblings will join us for a performance - which will include some of our favorite games! So very, very cool. I have the very best teen tellers in the entire world bar NONE!
Still, I must admit I relish some time without the excitement of a storytelling workshop. So tomorrow afternoon around 2 p.m. I will be able to relax for the weekend.
Next week, we have our Final Party on August 17 and our Final Teen event on Friday, the 18th - at 5:30 p.m. (which is not our Annual Volunteer Pizza Party - that's in early September). And then Summer Reading Club is all over except for the stats.

Okay, book time! Daniel Pinkwater is trying something new. He is posting the uncorrected, unedited manuscript of his new book "The Neddiad" online at www.theneddiad.com I hope I didn't type that in twice or anything.

Since only the first two chapters are up now, I can't really tell where Pinkwater is going with this story. The main character's father moves the whole family from Chicago to Los Angeles because Ned, the main character, read a story about the Brown Derby restaurant in a magazine and wanted to go there. Interesting motivation for a cross country (almost) move. The story takes place in the late forties (or thereabouts). Pinkwater's books are always surprising so this is worth a look. The entire book will be online eventually, although by the time the book is published in April, the online book won't be finished. The publisher - Houghton Mifflin Children's books - is hoping that everyone will run out to buy the book. I will buy it for the library, that's for sure. I am a Daniel Pinkwater fan.

I have been reading a lot of books on teaching storytelling lately so I have nothing else to report. I have also spent way too much time visiting Brawny Academy and watching the extremely good-natured participants run the obstacles that Brawny Man sets for them. Check that out at http://brawnyacademy.com . It's particularly funny for people who have brothers, long term boyfriends or husbands. I think guys will like it, too, because the whole thing is done in a light-hearted tongue-in-cheek sort of way. One of the obstacles looked interesting for our Ren Faire this October.

Enough! I have work to do and I must leave soon. Read please and let me know what you are reading!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

I am getting over a nasty summer cold. And since I am a bit (ha!) of a hypochondriac I have a tendency to sit and listen to my rattling breath and imagine my early demise. The cure for that is a good book. If I can forget about my ailments while I am reading then what I have is not life-threatening (as if it anything I get ever is).
So I read John Green's "Abundance of Katherines" last night. I liked it a whole lot. Colin Singleton is a child prodigy, who is no longer a child having just graduated from high school, when his current girlfriend, Katherine XIX, breaks up with him. (Colin seems to have a "thing" about girls named Katherine.) His best friend, Hassan, talks Colin into going on a road trip and they end up in Gutshot, Tennessee. Colin and Hassan get jobs there and Colin tries to come up with a formula to predict who will dump whom in any future relationship. There's a sex scene that moves the plot along so I guess this book is for more open-minded teens and there are a lot of "geek" jokes and footnotes. What is it about all those footnotes lately? There are footnotes everywhere in popular books. I blame Jonathan Stroud for that.

Whoohoo! The ordering drought is over and I have a pile of new-to-me books to catalog! I LOVE new books. Love, love, love, love those new books. So, bye, now.

Monday, July 17, 2006

"Octavian Nothing" by M.T. Anderson starts like a period piece fantasy but it is a searing look at personal freedom at the time of the American Revolution with no fantasy involved. I read the ARC and I can't tell you when the book is due to be published but it is the first of two so I have to wait doubly long for the sequel- DRAT!
Okay here's the set-up. In the 1760's or thereabouts Mr. Gitney who prefers to be known as 03-01 has set up a College of Lucidity for the purpose of studying Science and the Arts. Octavian and his mother, Queen Casseiopeia (not her real name) are two of the College's "specimens" or subjects. The entire College is known by numerical designations except for Octavian and his mother. Octavian is taught to Observe. He learns Greek and Latin. He is tutored in the violin which he plays like an angel. His food is weighed and so is his excrement. His life, until he is 11, is a mixture of luxury and peculiarity. And then, he learns the truth about his status in 18th century America and his situation and that of his mother change drastically.
The writing is a credible imitation of the florid style of the time period so if you like short pithy sentences avoid this book. However, the story of Octavian and his "scientist" masters is fascinatingly bizarre.
Good book! Read it when it comes out.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

I finally read Hilary McKay's new book, Caddy Ever After, which is not really about Caddy at all. This makes sense in a way, since Caddy has been an interesting minor character in the three other books about the Casson family. This book is about Indigo and Rose and Saffron and Sarah and Rose again and Caddy and then finally Rose. It does tell about Caddy's wedding - but not to darling Michael. I can't tell you anymore because then you wouldn't need to read the book. So, I can't tell you about how Indigo got to be in charge of selling tickets to the Valentine's Day dance or about Rose's mass produced Valentine's Day cards, or her black cardboard, or about Saffron and Oscar and how sick Sarah got when she got the flu, or even about how Rose rescued her mother from lightning. Because if you like the Casson family at all you will want to read this book yourself.
It is the weakest book of the four books. - Saffy's Angel was the strongest. Permanent Rose, although third in the series was next strongest. Indigo's Star was a very admirable book. Caddy Ever After doesn't feel like a story because each of Casson siblings tells part of what happens and it is hard to see how it all fits together. Because it is not really about Caddy, I think McKay owes us another book. I read that she has one more book about this brood in her - and I think it should be about Sarah, even though Sarah is not a Casson. She deserves her own book because she puts up with all of them, after all. And so McKay owes us TWO more books about the Cassons - one that is really and truly about Caddy and one about Sarah. Then I will be satisfied. I think I will write to her and tell her that.
Anyway, I liked the ending of this one. So read it.
It's not the only book I have read in the last 10 days. I read Irene Fowler's new book and enjoyed it a lot but I can't remember what it was called. I started Blue Baliet's The Wright 3 and then left it at work so I will have to wait until the weekend to finish it. (I work Saturday.) Caddy Ever After is just the best book I've read in the last several days.
It is Summer Reading Club after all and I have a lot of other things to think about instead - like the over 100 children that came to our first program - the wonderful Steve Abrams and his Aesop's Fables puppet show and the close to 90 children that came to Mrs. Benedetto's Frog and Toad storytime. She is so good and she very kindly let me tell a story. I hope she didn't mind. And making sure that we have enough volunteers and making sure that we have enough supplies and making sure we get into the schools and get the word out. Busy, busy me.

Monday, June 19, 2006

M.T. Anderson must have watched "The Sound of Music" one too many times. Read "The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen", the second book in his M. T. Anderson's Amazing Adventures, and I think you'll agree. Normal preteen, Lily Gefelty, and her friends, Katie Mulligan - star of the Horror Hollow book series - and Jasper Dash, Technonaut - star of the Jasper Dash series , go off to the Moose Tongue Lodge for a quiet summer vacation. Are they ever surprised to find out that other stars of kids' series are also at the Moose Tongue Lodge!! Stars like the Manley Brothers, sons of ace detective Jake Manley, and the Cutesy Dell Twins, and Eddie Wax, who starred in only one book with his wonder horse. When the Hooter Quints are kidnapped before they get to the lodge, all heck breaks loose.
Frankly, I liked "Whales on stilts" better - that's the first book in the series. But I think that Anderson's endings are so well written they make any confusion in the rest of the book worth it.
I haven't had a lot of time for reading lately. Summer Reading Club just started. I'm planning a major family reunion thingie. I was teaching Sunday School. And I'm writing for a local weekly paper occasionally PLUS the local storytelling festival - with which I am involved - is next weekend. Phew! I'm ready for a vacation.
I've been asked for booklists for good books. I am the world's worst booklist writer BECAUSE as soon as I finish a booklist another great book comes out and I think I have to wait until I've read it to finish the booklist. I guess I have to get over THAT.
So here are some sites that you can go to to find booklists for teens: http://www.pcl.lib.wa.us/guysread/TOC_GuysRead.htm This is not just for teens but it is for guys.
The American Library Association puts out a whole bunch of booklists for teens. Go to www.ala.org/ala/yalsa/yalsa.htm and click on the link in the left hand column. They tend to suggest edgy problem novels but they also suggest some really fun titles as well.
Also check with your high school for lists of books that you're going to have to read. Believe it or not, those books are very good, although some of them may be challenging.
I have to go. Some kids are here to record the books they read for Summer Reading Club. Tah for now.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Do you have trouble sleeping? Do you toss and turn and twist in your sheets? Spend eight hours schlepping tote bags full of books, posters, toys, catalogs, bookmarks ad nauseam around the DC Convention center. You'll sleep all right. The unit we shared (sidekick, sidekick's hubby and I) was RIGHT NEXT to the Metro tracks. I did NOT hear a single train all night long.Did I have fun?? WHOA!! Yes indeed. Here are the highlights.
Wednesday: arrive at time share around 10 p.m. I am so grateful to SK and SKH for driving. Sort out sleeping arrangements. Out for the night.
Thursday: I PLANNED to go to the education sessions but it was a beautiful day in Alexandria so we headed out to explore on foot. Had we known how our feet would feel a mere 24 hours later, we might have reconsidered our mode of transportation. Never mind. Just when I was thinking I needed a low blood sugar pick-me-up, SK and Hubbie decided to investigate a bank's Free ATM Worldwide offer. The bank had a free cafe!!!!! We ate Thai for lunch YUM! We found an artist's co-op and a fabric artist who makes beautiful mother of the groom dresses- something I will need. We visited a store that let us sit in a massage chair - aaahhh!
Then we went into DC to the opening ceremonies and heard Tim Russert of NBC talk about his books, Big Russ and Me and the new one, Wisdom of our Fathers. So very cool. Ate at a tapas restaurant - never did that before- split a pitcher of sangria and found an author signing in the lower room of the restaurant! Got home around 9 and crashed.
Friday and Saturday : BEA -ohmigolly!! Acres and acres of books and displays of every kind. I managed to get a bunch of signed Advance Reader's Copies of books. These two days sort of flow together.
Highlights: Eoin Colfer's autograph! Avi, Candice Ransom, M.T. Anderson, Celia Rees, Annette Curtis Klause, Stephanie Meyer, Duke from Bush's Baked Beans (I love dogs), but the best was Lynn Johnston who does the For Better or Worse comic strip. I was so excited. I got Andrew Clement's and Jan Brett (twice) and e. lockhart/Emily Jenkins -cutie-pie author that was here in April.
BIG Coup: A copy of the NPR guide to Classical music. Huge beautiful book with links to the music online.
Disappointments: I did not get Steven Caney's Ultimate Building Book . I loved his Play Book and Toy Book when my son was small and I wanted to meet him sooo much. I did not get Tim Russert's book, although we got a picture taken with him. I didn't get to see Tammie Pierce - the line was TOO LONG. You needed tickets to see Daniel Handler and Dave Barry and Michael Sabuda - big bummer.
Cool toys: SK and SKH are true freebie hounds and they found so many cool toys (especially SKH). Spiderwicke Sprite magnifying boxes - stuffed animals - rubber duckies - squooshy stars. I found fold up binoculars, calculators, tarot cards, playing cards, aprons. Saturday I got a couple of stuffed animals and squooshy toys myself.
Friday night we got to hear Dave Barry speak at the ABA Book Sense Book Awards reception. Pat Conroy also spoke. They were both excellent - although Dave was better. Pat read his speech and couldn't read his own writing at times.
Cornelia Funke won the award for best Children's Book for Inkspell but she was unable to come since her husband just died and she needed to stay home with her two children. She sent a lovely letter.
Jon Muth won the Best Illustrated Book award for Zen Shorts . His speech was very Zen like.Anway, I have one huge tote bag filled with books I want to keep and six - count them 6 - tote bags of books, toys and miscellanea that we will give out for summer reading club. I don't know how many totes SK has to bring in.
My feet hurt - my back aches. We planned to go into BEA on Sunday but we were so beat from lugging totes and racing from one hall to the other that we decided to come home. We stayed with SK's brother Saturday night and I got to go to a Trader Joe's - I've never been to one and then SK drove home. Just wait til I bring all this stuff in. I can't wait til next BEA which is in New York City, the weekend of June1, 2 and 3. More later.

Monday, May 15, 2006

I'm Ba-a-a-ack. You know what? I have never even seen the movie that phrase comes from and yet I use it all the time. It's interesting how stuff like that become part of our everyday language -our lexicon, as George Wills might say.
I went to a hugely interesting workshop on the six skills that kids need to be successful in kindergarten and beyond. It was about literacy skills - not scissors and glue stuff. One of the skills is called "Phonological Awareness". Guess what that means. I'm not telling.
So what have I been reading? Well, because at the end of April we had the four authors from the "Random House Teen Voices Book Tour-East" here, I had to read all of their books. I have already reported on Tanya Lee Stone's book A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl in an earlier post so I will tell you about the others -
Jen Bryant wrote Pieces of Georgia about a 13-year-old girl who has been dealing with the death of her mother and her father's grief for a long time. When she receives an anonymous membership to the Brandywine River Museum, she begins to appreciate her own artistic talents and her world opens up. This is a lovely well-written book. Read it. Interesting subplot about an extremely overscheduled teen.
e. lockhart wrote Fly on the wall : how one girl saw everything. Another artistic girl whose name begins with G. Gretchen's art emulates super-hero comics and that's just not cutting it with the teachers and students at her "artsy" public high school. Add to this the drama of her parents impending and totally baffling divorce and you have one unhappy teen. And BOYS! BOYS?? Don't even go into it. Gretchen does not have a clue about boys, especially Titus, her major crush. So one fateful day, Gretchen wishes she could be a fly on the wall in the boys' locker room and............ be careful what you wish for, little Gretchen, it just might come true.
Lots of locker room humor here - some raw language - and lots and lots of fun.
Simon Cheshire wrote Plastic Fantastic about Dominic, a fan in looooove with the punk rock group Plastic. The poor lad is so obsessed with the group's music AND female lead singer that he ignores or misunderstands real life as it surrounds him. And then one fateful day, he just happens to get stuck in a glass elevator with - OHMYGOD - it's Lisa Voyd in the flesh - the awesome lead singer of Dominic's most favorite band. Be still, my beating heart! Two plus hours in a glass elevator with a complete stranger - makes for a very funny, and surprisingly insightful, read.
All four authors talked about their other books and Simon had us all twisted up in laughter as he read from Kissing Vanessa. I have it on order BUT I get to read it first. And I get to read e. lockhart's The boyfriend list first and her upcoming novel and sequel, The Boy Guide as well. It's not out yet.
I also read Trudi Canavan's Black Magicians Trilogy and there better be a spin-off because she leaves us all hanging and I can't tell you too much but this a wonderful fantasy Trilogy about a young lower class girl and her entrance into the vaulted world of the Magicians. Mucho, mucho magic here, and lots of action and some battles and explosions and serious bad guys and misunderstood manly older magic users and some alternative lifestyles so younger teens beware - but no explicit behavior is described for any parents who might stumble across this post.
I will catalog the Trilogy before Summer Reading Club begins. Promise!

AND on Wednesday after work, I and my sidekick and her lovely husband are all heading off for BOOK EXPO AMERICA!!!!!!!!!!! in D.C. Eat your hearts out. While some of you are suffering through final exams or making up lists of graduation presents or, worse luck, WORKING - I will be shmoozing with authors and publishers and editors and (drat) salespeople - very nice salespeople, though - and picking up every free book I can get my greedy hands on.
Tammy Pierce will be signing books there. So will Jen Bryant (see above) and Dave Barry and all kinds of other great authors and I just hope I get to meet some of them.

Thursday, May 4, 2006

My name is bookkm and (deep breath, let out very slo-o-o-wly)I am a bookaholic and a stationery geek. Which is why when I got the "Summer Reading Club Preparedness" package from my very good friend, Okuni, I could not WAIT to bring it to work and show all my other book-loving and stationery geek friends. I LO-O-O-OVE the lavendar scented file folders. I am now very serene. The "I am NOT fooling" staple remover looks formidable. And everyone needs some brass balls to get through the day.
Back to my bookaholism. Here are the warning signs!
Cannot sleep until a good book is finished. If you ATTEMPT to put the book down, you twist and turn and re-arrange pillows for ages before you can sleep.
Housework, homework, work work are neglected while in the grip of a good book. (I leave books at home when I am in this stage and that leads to the next sympton.)
Find oneself unable to focus on anything else - such as work - even when NOT reading the book - until the book is done.
When you read the first book of a series that you enjoy, you cannot rest until you have read every other book in the series.
Even chocolate holds no interest until the book is done. If you do eat chocolate while reading, you have no memory of eating later. So don't waste chocolate like this.
People talk to you and you don't hear them. You may give sane answers to questions but you don't remember the questions or answers later. Sort of like a blackout.
Large airplanes can land in your backyard while you are reading in the hammock and you don't notice.
While reading you feel powerful, energetic and strong. Once the book is done, you mope until you find another good book to read.
Reading a good book refreshes you like nothing else.

What should YOU do if you think you might be a bookaholic? Make sure your library fines are paid up because the library is a bookaholic's best friend.
Hire a house keeper. Then you don't have to worry about the housework.
Hold on. There's a good book published somewhere in the world everyday.
Find the book on CD or audiotape so you can listen while you walk, or clean or set off on an adventure. (Lavendar scented file folder finding is a true adventure.)
Go book-less every now and then and experience REAL life so you can judge whether the authors do good work.
Write your own good book about adventures, real or imagined.
Enjoy.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

This post is just to let you know I'm still alive and reading. Right now, I have the new Montmorency book at home (by Updale). Montmorency and Lord George are chasing after a thief who deals in natural specimens. I'll tell you more later.
I also read a book from the Random House Teen Voices Tour A bad boy can be good for a girl. After reading the book, I'm pretty sure the title is supposed to be sarcastic. The book is about sexual seduction and although the sex scenes are not "graphic" as in describing body parts or even naming them, there's enough nudity to make this a PG-13 and up book. Three girls are seduced by the same senior boy. The book is told in the voices of the three girls. He uses the same lines, same charms on all of them and they all fall for it - even when they know better.
I'm thinking this might be a good primer for girls who want to be fore-warned and fore-armed but I doubt any girl will see herself in this book - until it's too late.

The author, Tanya Lee Stone, will be here, at the Parkland Community Library, on Monday April 24 at 5:30 p.m. along with three other authors from the Random House Teen Voices Tour. If you're in the Lehigh Valley, stop by and listen to what the authors have to say.

Friday, April 7, 2006

I'm stuck on Okuni's questions about the responsibilities that audience members have. In the NYT this morning there was an article about how concert halls in New York are denying entry to late audience members until a break in the action. Most of these halls have a room that these late people can sit in and listen to the piped in concert or watch it on a video screen. This arrangement is an acknowledgement that some people are late due to things out of their control. But often people are late because they figure it isn't that important to get to a performance on time.
Movies, radios, TV are all media that we can use as background noise. We don't have to pay attention to those things. The performers are all so far away; we can tape the show and watch it later; we have other things on our all-important personal agendas; we have to take this cell phone call. Paying attention loses its appeal when we have to pay attention to someone else.
I'm glad the concert halls in New York are making latecomers wait outside. One of the responsibilities of an audience member is to be present and on time. Another responsibility is to Pay Attention.
Last night, Shadow Dragon and I went to see "Beauty and the Beast" at a local high school. I love live performances. I got swept up in the pageantry and the music, the dancing, the acting, the special effects. Because most of the audience were there to see someone they loved perform, they paid attention. I'm not sure they were as carried away by the romance as I was, but they behaved respectfully.
That's another responsibility of an audience. It is possible that an audience member cannot appreciate what is offered even if she pays attention. Well, then, unless the performance is a competition judged by the audience's response, she should treat the performance with respect and make her escape as unobtrusively as she can. It happens.
So, there you have it, class - bookkm's rules of audience responsibilities
Be on time
Be present
Pay attention
Behave respectfully
Oh, I forgot! How could I forget!
Show your appreciation!

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Back again, after spending some time thinking about what sunshinegirl said about overwriting. I feel that the overwriting is a symptom of many things in our society right now - not trusting the other person's imagination to be equal to one's own. Also, dumbing down experiences. In order to make the book or the editorial or the movie "reach" the widest audience, watering down the content and making the author's viewpoint accessible. (I'm getting so flustered, I'm using partial sentences here.) Sometimes my messages have been misinterpreted, (rightly, because I have been obtuse,) but sometimes the listener/reader just didn't get it. What responsiblity belongs to the audience in this case? If we don't protest all the overwritten books and the simple minded movies, won't things continue to deteriorate?

Monday, April 3, 2006

Bevador - that's what it says in chrome lettering on the big black cylinder that holds the beer at Threadgill's. There is much poetry in that. Tonight for dinner, I ate at the Threadgill's where Janis Joplin used to perform. I did not, however, get to the poetry open mic.
Bevador. Next week.

Sunday, April 2, 2006

I do not like the fact that school keeps me so eternally busy that I don't have time to do as much reading or writing as I would like. That is why I'm looking forward to this summer...it is definitely my goal to read as much as possible.
Currently, I am almost finished with Eldest, the sequel to Christopher Paolini's debut Eragon. Actually, I didn't really like Eragon, but decided to pick up Eldest because it was one of the biggest books I could find in the young adult section, and figured that it would keep me busy for a while, considering it is about dictionary-sized. I have enjoyed it much more than the first book...Paolini has definitely grown as an author since his first work. Still, his writing style seems surprsingly immature considering that both of these books of his have gotten published. He overdescribes everything...he has to learn to let some things (such as the shape of doors and the color of floors and the precise size of things) up to the readers imagination. After all, that is why reading is so much better for your brain than television; it requires thought and imagination. He has created an amazing world, and I can understand that he wants everything to be perfect, but it wouldn't hurt to lay off the descriptions in a bunch of places. Also, some of the plot is extremely predictable, and his foreshadowing blatantly obvious, but that may just be becasue I have read quite a bit in my life. Overall though, it has been mildly engrossing, and I am almost through the nearly seven hundred pages, so that's a good sign.
The only other book that I have read recently is almost half of The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. My English teacher had told the class about it, after we read some of her poetry, and I decided to read it. It was quite slow going, and I didn't nearly finish. Then of course as I went to renew it, someone else had it on hold. Now it is doubtful whether or not I'll ever finish. It was a bit strange, I must admit, but it was great writing. I can really see where she was coming from, considering her life story. It does feel sometimes like women are expected to have it all together and to be smart and pretty and everthing. Think about it, men are allowed to be geniuses and spend all of their time working and thinking and reading. Women, especially professional women, are expected to have a career and a family and a social life. I think that this is part of what Sylvia Plath was trying to say, but I won't be entirely sure until I finish the book. The hold system is so annoying!

Saturday, April 1, 2006

It happened again. I picked up a book, positive that I had never read it and two pages into the book I knew that I HAD read it. But what was worse was, even though I knew I had read the book before, I couldn't remember what happened in it. In my defense, it was a Diana Wynne Jones fantasy and they are quite convoluted. Still, I used to think that I could NEVER forget a plot. I'm always telling my husband the ends of movies that we rent or see on TV.
I've decided to put a positive spin on this event and tell myself that now I'll never run out of things to read because I can start reading old books over again and they will feel almost brand new.
The book was The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones. It is so complicated that it needs two narrators, from two different universes, of course, and one of them travels to several universes before the story is over. Nature magic, some social commentary on male and female magic and doing wrong in the name of righteousness, an interesting look at the King of the Dead and an enormous upheaval at the end make this book a very good read for the dedicated fantasy lover.

I just read Kate DiCamillo's latest masterpiece (she wrote Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Desperaux). The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane follows the adventures of a well-loved but very self-centered china rabbit I know what you're thinking, another Velveteen Rabbit or story about a toy that becomes real. Not really. The story is just too well told to be dismissed that way. And if you are at all sentimental, make sure some tissues are in reach.

And why do I blog or write? Because I want to share my thoughts on the things I read with someone and not everyone wants to listen when I talk. So I journal and I blog. And I write stories because they keep me awake at night if I don't. Immortality, shimmortality! We write because we must, darn it!

Friday, March 31, 2006

Publishing is all well and good, but doesn’t a writer write to inspire the people they surround themselves with? More importantly does not a writer write to bring serenity to their soul? Yeah, I post my stuff on my blog for the world to see, but I do that so that I can share my rambling with those that close to me. Each one of those poems I have written has a part of my heart in them. I don’t think I would want a publishing company to tell me my work isn’t good enough.
I would love to be published, but not for the sake of immortality. Frankly, immortality is overrated. Even with your stuff in print you can be forgotten. The only way to be truly immortal is to touch the heart of a person so deeply that they remember you whether they know your name or not. Immortality can be as simple as a smile given to a person down on their luck, or that comforting word that makes them smile in turn.The reason I want my stuff published isn’t to make a living, but to share the stories that have dropped into my mind with others. I want to inspire others. If one person reads something I’ve written and remembers it fondly, then I have done my job as writer. That doesn’t mean I am immortal either. It just means that my words touched another person’s heart.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

If a person's goal is to be published just to be immortal, it would seem to me that that person does not get the point of writing. For me writing is an outlet; a way for me to express what I am feeling, a way to get emotions out that I can't normally express to people, or a way to get some story down that I thought of. I think that writing just for the sake of writing is great and if a person happens to get published, all the better for them. But I really don't think it makes a difference. Published writing is more easily accessible to the public but that doesn't necessarily make a published work better than something that was unpublished. If someone hears something or reads something and comes away with a thought, an idea or a feeling then that is what writing is all about.
I want to agree with Okuni that if just one person takes something of meaning away from her performance, her poetry will live forever because I am sure that this is true of anything we do that transforms another's life. I am jealous of those people. I want to hear, and if possible read, Okuni's poetry. Being published may assure Dr. J. that his words will be immortal, that is, if his chapbooks survive. For me, being published would make it possible for my words to be shared with many more people. Its epehmeral and immediate nature makes Okuni's poetry more rare and more precious. At the same time, its a bit sad that so few people get to experience it.
What do YOU think?

Now for books!! On vacation I read 5 books.
1. Magician's Guild by Trudi Canavan - it's British and not available in the US. A poor girl is angry about the yearly Purges that sweep all the poorer members of the City out of the slums and away from their homes. She is so angry she throws a rock at the Magician's that oversee the Purge. Surprise! The rock magically breaks through the Magicians' protection and knocks one magician unconscious. Now the search is on for this untrained magician who is hidden by the Thieves until her strong uncontrolled magic threatens everyone around her. Pretty darn exciting! There are two more books in the series.
2. Dear Miss Breed by Joanne Oppenheim. I mentioned this biography earlier. The book is about Japanese American children and the letters they wrote to one caring children's librarian in San Diego during their internment in World War II. Excellent look at the issues of internment and the humiliations these children and their families suffered.
3. Hedging by Annette Myers. An adult murder/suspense/mystery thingie book. I picked it up for free last year at Book Expo. Diverting. A woman finds herself in danger, chased by thugs who want to kill her but she has no idea why. She has amnesia! When she finally finds freinds who remember her, she still has to unravel the past weeks and why people around her are dropping like flies. (Well, not really.) I kept reading. I did want to know who she was and what had happened. But she kept fainting every time she re-met someone from her past. And she was modern so she couldn't even blame her corset!
4. Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman. Oh, this one was fun! Julia's best friend, Ashleigh, is the kind of girl who goes on months long crazes - like an Arthurian craze where everyone has to speak in "thees" and "thous". Right before 10th grade begins, Julia gets Ashleigh to read Julia's favorite book, Pride and Prejudice. Yep! Next thing you know Ashleigh is calling Julia, "My dear Miss Lefkowitz" and decrying jeans as "revealing the shape of our lower limbs". Ashleigh talks Julia into crashing a nearby boys' boarding school's fall dance in search of "suitable gentlemen" of "breeding and refinement" and they fall in love with the same guy. What follows is a very Austen-like comedy of errors.
5. Sweet Potato Queen's Big-Ass Cookbook and Financial Planner by Jill Conner Browne. I'm not sure you-all want to know. This book is hilarious, raunchy and full of extremely dangerous recipes. Definitely a girl-read.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Last night I went to a poetry open mic, and the hostess (with mic and PA system) did not show up. Three of us poets did - and it resulted in a really serious discussion about publishing and the value of words preserved on paper. One of our number was a very shy guy in his early twenties. He writes elaborate and evocative blurts, highly emotive and far from the bland job he has (working nights in a supermarket.) Another is the Hindi writer and educator Dr. Joshi Hosni. He writes in a very formal English, and his new chapbook is a tranlation of his Hindi poems. Dr. J writes about the textrues of everyday life - and is almost evangelistic about convincing his audience to join his point of view. (It is also notable that this gentleman is a Brahmin, an educated and monied upper class person.) Then there was me, female spontaneous poet with nothing published lately. Definately not upper class.
So, Dr. J's stance was that being published will make you immortal, that being on paper is the most important part of writing. Shy guy wants desperately to publish, but feels his stuff is too personal. I do on-the-spot pieces which savor and include the works of other poets I have appreciated in an eening. My stance is: you don't have to publish to be immortal. If you create an authentic place that you can share with your audience, and even one person carries away something that enriches his or her life or point of view, then you live in that other person's enlarged life, and you are immortal. What do you think?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I'm in North Carolina now - not my home state - and away from my books but the last post makes me think. I feel that students can learn about literature by reading books they enjoy. However......if a book is required reading, no matter how good it is, a significant portion of the class will be resistant to it. Why is that? I know that's the way it was, and sometimes still is, with me. And I can't remember what I was required to read in high school, except for Shakespeare, Poe and Silas Marner, either. But I can't remember a lot of things anymore.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Current Read: One Good Night by Mercedes Lackey
Just Finished: Tales of Pain and Wonder by Caitlin R. Kiernan

I'm a Parkland graduate :::rolls eyes::: and I have often listened to what other people were required to read in school. And I never had to read most of it. Maybe it was because I was taking business classes (I think, it was ages ago) and the reading list was either shorter or just different. But books like Animal Farm, 1984 were not part of the list. Yes I had to read Shakespeare (actually enjoyed him) Edgar Allen Poe (enjoyed him too) and Old Man and the Sea, to name a few. I'm sure there are more, but none of them really sticks out in my brain. There was one about a utopian civilization that was kinda messed up. The people were on drugs or something... I kinda remember it but can never remember the name, just that it was strange. But I digress.

My point is that in school none of the books that I was required to read really stuck with me. Except maybe Poe. Poe is still very cool.

Wouldn't it be better if maybe the required reading was something the students would enjoy. Granted I understand some authors and their writings are used to teach different writing styles like Iambic Pentameter and Narrative and what an antagonist and protagonist are. But wouldn't it be more interesting if they threw in something a little different. Throw in some Stephen King, John Grisham or Michael Crichton.

I don't know. Maybe this is just the midnight mutterings of someone who just needs to go to bed. But all I know is that the books I remember reading in high school were not the books I read for any class I ever took. Except Poe. Poe is cool.
Alternative history makes my skin crawl, but!!!!!!
The "1633" series by Eric Flint has some really hilarious scenarios! Here's the setup - an unidentified force lifts the relatively modern town of Grantville, West Virginia, into the middle of the Thirty Years War in Europe! So we have modern technology, U. S. ideas of government and social relations, gender, truth, justice and the American way...effectively changing the history of everything. Pretty soon the West Virginians have allied with Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, and formed the Conferated Principalities of Europe, and making some really angry, really powerful enemies. This made me brush up on the European history of the 17th century. Yow! And fun.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I picked up Three of Diamonds by Anthony Horowitz at Ollie's last weekend. It took me an evening to read all three Diamond Brothers mysteries included. If you like dumb wordplay (although some it is actually clever) and action, you'll like the Diamond Brothers. And they are not very demanding either.
Horowitz other series-es, Alex Rider and the new Power of Five are serious action adventure thriller books. Adrenalin junkies will appreciate the roller coaster life of orphaned teen MIA agent Alex Rider. The explosions and razor close escapes are amazing! The pages turn themselves.
Power of Five is new and I haven't had time to read Raven's Gate. It has a supernatural/horror flavor from the blurb on Anthony's website (www.anthonyhorowitz.com) so maybe I'll let one of you read it first. Horowitz also writes one of my all time favorite BBC series, Foyle's War which takes place in Hastings during the bombings of England in WWII. But this blog is NOT about TV or DVDs - except sometimes.
It appears that British writers dominate my reading. I apologize, sort of. I need some American action adventure writers recommended to me. Please. Also some good American fantasy writers - Holly Black is certainly pretty darn good. Is Patrice Kindl American? Even Jenny Nimmo is British or Aussie or something like that. I will work on this. You can all make suggestions, though.

Thursday, March 9, 2006

The Case of the Missing Marquess : an Enola Holmes mystery by Nancy Springer is my latest read. Add another clever, strong female character to the list. On Enola's 14th birthday her mother disappears. When her two much older brothers come down to the estate from London, Enola learns that her mother has been siphoning money from the estate since their father's death ten years before. Mrs. Holmes did leave Enola a birthday gift and by using this gift Enola escapes the finishing school that Mycroft, her eldest brother, has chosen for her. As she searches for her mother, she also solves the mystery of the disappearance of the young Marquess of Tewksbury. Springer does a credible job describing late 19th century London without going into distressing detail. What she describes best are the disgusting fashions that young ladies of good breeding had to don at this time. We cringe at the foot mutilation of young Chinese girls but the obsession with tiny waists that "well-bred" English society had and the corsets that young ladies had to wear to achieve these tiny waists worked together to keep women "in their place". No wonder women swooned, developed consumption, and were taken with the vapors. The poor things could not breathe.
In this book, the vagaries of fashion actually become the method of Mrs. Holmes escape from financial dependence on her oldest son. And later, they help Enola escape as well.
Another very quick, very enjoyable read! I hope to see more books about the redoubtable Miss Holmes.

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Internet Classes. Hmmm. Well, on one hand making school kids take an internet course would help them if they ever take an internet class while in college.
And what SD said about missing out on the class experience is true... for college students. I'm sure high school students (in their minds) spend more than enough time in a classroom. But in reality, is there anything that we are going to teach today's high school kids about computers and navigating the net? Downloading files, finding web pages, and uploading files; these are all things that most students can do in their sleep. The only difficult part that I can see, about an online class would be the deadlines for homework assignments. It's one thing to remember an assignment when someone is constantly reminded about a due date, it is another when the responsibility is left up to the student. Heck, even I had a hard time with that in college.
So is this whole internet class a good idea? I really don't know.

What I'm reading now:

Tales of Pain and Wonder by Caitlin R Kiernan. It's a book of short stories in the gothic horror genre. Not a read I would recomend to everyone. But I'm enjoying it.
Last night, I read Shakespeare's Secret by Elise Broach. This is kid's book -4th grade and up should be able to read it without difficulty. I sat up to finish it - the sign of an enjoyable book. The book promises a mystery and that part moves slowly but the author incorporates info on the immortal Bard and the controversy about his "true" identity. Were Shakespeare's plays really written by Edward de Vere, Lord of Oxford? Was Oxford really Elizabeth I's illegitimate son? I almost put the book down to get a history of the 1500s.
The heroine, named Hero by her Shakespeare loving parents, learns that the house her family just moved into is rumored to have a very valuable diamond hidden in it. Her older neighbor and the police chief's 8th grade son help Hero look for the diamond. There is a subplot about the 8th grader's mother that is wrapped up a bit too conveniently. So what? The book was fun and educational, too!
I'm at work as I write this and I just spent the last 45 minutes doing Peep research for our April Teen Meeting. We are going to use marshmallow Peeps (JustBorn) to create sculptures in celebration of Spring! If you are a teen in the Parkland School District, check out our website to find the date for our April TITO meeting (www.parklandlibrary.org) There is a weird underground cult surrounding Peeps. I found all kinds of websites featuring "scientific" experiments using Peeps - including surgery to separate quintuplet Peeps joined at birth, Peeps in the library, Peeps at the beach - even a slide show "The Fellowship of the Peeps". Wait, wait, let's do Harry Peeper and the Goblet of Fire whahahahahaha! Never mind. I have to do real library work now. Bye.

Sunday, March 5, 2006

Okay, back to books. I got hold of Under the Jolly Roger by L.A. Meyer, the third book in the Bloody Jack series. There had better be a fourth book! I learned a whole lot about the working of the Royal Navy during the blockade of France in 1804 (or thereabouts) and a lot about the British treatment of Irish common folk as well. I think I am learning to like historical fiction but it takes an irrepressible character like Mary "Jacky" Faber to keep me interested. Wait 'til you read what pickles she gets into in this book. I have to get this on audio book for the library.
Anyway, this book is for mature teens and adults. There are some "situations" (cough, cough) although Jacky manages to preserve her virtue throughout and there is some graphic violence as well. Hey, it was wartime and for half the book Jacky is in the Royal Navy.
Does anyone else have any ideas about Internet courses becoming a requirement for graduation from high school? Shadow's post opened my eyes. I have heard other people complaining that online courses are not as convenient as they sound. Is this the kind of expertise most people are going to need?
I certainly agree that there is more to life than sitting in front of a computer screen.

Back to books again. I am almost finished Kathleen Norris' Dakotah. She ends up revisiting ground she covered in Cloister Walk but she also gives a view of the emptiness of the western Dakotahs that is intriguing and forbidding at the same time. Norris' book may be controversial to Dakotans but to the rest of us it is a fresh look at the way geography can enrich one's spirituality and also at the way a person who is searching for God can find evidence anywhere.

Saturday, March 4, 2006

Internet classes are great if you don't have a car to drive to and from class, but you lose a great deal when you are not in a classroom setting. Also, if your internet goes down or if your computer crashes some teachers are not as considerate as other. I took a couple classes online which I could not finished since I moved and lost my internet connection. My teachers did not grade assignments quickly which meant for me, who likes to work ahead, I got the same deductions on each assignment with a note saying "I thought I told you to correct this" Yeah, someone didnot look at the sent date. One of their big things is that you can go at your own pace, well that frankly is a lie. You have to turn in assignments on specific due dates like any other class.
Yes, I think they should teach students to be internet savvy, however there is a great deal more to the world than sitting in a chair in front of a computer screen.

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Michigan is looking into making high school students take an internet course (offered by the shool districts I guess) in order to graduate. Their argument is that more and more business is being done online and that most teens use the Internet JUST to socialize or for entertainment.
Taking a course online will teach high school students how to work with other online.
What do you think of this idea? Do you feel that IMing and setting up profiles on Myspace.com is good enough?
I'm intrigued by the idea. A class you could take at 3 a.m. when you can't sleep, or on your laptop when you're visiting your grandmother - cool. Now don't think I'm advocating bad sleep habits or dereliction of family duties but you know what I mean. I learn tech skills ONLY when I absolutely have to - and I don't think I'm alone. This requirement would force non-tech people to get some Internet literacy skills.
Downside - what about kids who don't own computers? What about over scheduled over achievers who have no extra time? Is the state of Michigan going to make sure all students have classroom time and computer accessibility?
let me know what YOU think.
(And this really does have something to do with reading - in a way - I think.)

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Operation Red Jericho by Joshua Mowll is a fun read - lots of action, lots of explosions and nasty bad guys. But the best thing about the book is its design. Mowll is a graphic designer by education and the book looks like an old-fashioned travel journal - red cloth binding with a thick black elastic band to keep it shut. There are all kinds of fold out pages, maps and drawings and old photographs - the book takes place in 1920 in the China Sea. There are schematics of ships and machines, sidebars with info on scientists of the period. Just paging through the book is a treat. This is the first in a planned trilogy so I will keep you posted about the next one.
I still haven't got my hands on Under the Jolly Roger by Louis Meyer. Someday soon I hope.
I have a program tonight and another one tomorrow night so I will sign off here. Keep reading and let me know what you've read.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Big Doings at Parkland Community Library!!!
Tomorrow, Feb. 25, 2006, Steve Abrams does a program entitled Masks, Makeup and Mystery at 2 p.m. Steve is an excellent presenter and he's bringing slides and maybe a mask or two from the University of Pennsylvania Museum. This is a Commonwealth of PA Lecture series thingy. (I have to say that.)
On Wednesday - March 1 at 7 p.m. - Susan Bartoletti is here to talk about her Newbery Honor book Hitler Youth. I read the book and it was amazing! I find it hard to believe what people will believe and what they will go along with. The way Hitler and his propaganda machine used the children of Germany is just another reprehensible part of their legacy. Anyway, try to make it if you can.

Now on to books. I just catalogued a picture book called Tadpole's Promise by Jeanne Willis. I'm wondering what kind of response I'm going to get to this book. OK, a rainbow colored caterpillar falls in love with a tadpole and vice versa. The caterpillar makes the tadpole promise that he will never change. The tadpole promises but of course he does change and the caterpillar crawls off and cries herself to sleep. She wakes up as a butterfly. The tadpole is now a big frog. The butterfly returns to look for her love, the tadpole, and the frog...Well, what do you think the frog does? Yup. Then, the frog wonders whatever happened to his love the rainbow colored caterpillar. There, now you don't have to read it.
What do you think parents will say about this book? Hmmmm?
I also catalogued Dear Miss Breed by Joanne Oppenheim about a librarian who corresponded with students who were sent to the internment camps for Japanese Americans during WWII. I haven't read the whole book but just paging through it touched my heart. This is a TRUE story with actual photographs and transcripts of letters. The story is as much about the kids as it is about Miss Breed.

Oh and I have to apologize. Fray, mentioned by Okuni in an earlier post, is a GRAPHIC NOVEL not manga as I so ignorantly mispoke. What was I thinking? I know better than that!!
I'll just chalk it up to old age.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Fiction should be properly represented!
This is partof the basic spiritual contract between the writer-for-publication and the individual-who-reads-for-whatever-reason. This is why I find the "we were just pretending to pretend" pose of recent writers is obnoxious, and borders on evil. The public needs to take a deep breath, think about the recent "literary" creations, and think about MARKETING. How much marketing are they going to allow to warp the relationship that develops between the writer and the reader? So, stop buying from publishers who have little on no commitment to the public (slipping over the line into print prostitution.) When I read fiction, I want to completely invest my attention in non-everyday things.
I love to read, I love people who read, I feel everybody needs to make well informed decisions.
Dustjackets and Kisses to you all, over and out.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Reality is skewed into shades of gray. I doubt many of us can recollect every moment of our day yesterday without some embellishment or some omittion. However, I do believe it is wrong to sell something as fact when it is indeed fiction. A story that relates brutal human tragedies and marked as actual events encites stronger emotions in its audience than a work of fiction. It is not fair to make people invest a portion of their soul only to have the author state that "oops, I...um...that's not really the truth." It would certainly annoy me if I believed something was real, identified with it, cried tears, then found out that it wasn't real. I'd feel a little jilted and I believe there are others out there that would feel the same way too.
However, I do not remember where I heard or saw this, but it is possible for a person to believe a lie so much that the lie becomes truth within that person and would register as a truth on a lie dector. Also we all will recollect the same event differently since we would each hone in on different details. I suppose the whole truth and nothing but truth is subjected to point of view.
Anyway enough of that. I find it fun to read about ancient cultures. Some of them seem so fantastic it is as if you are in a fantasy novel. That's always fun. I'll stick with my fantasy except for class which kind of makes you deal with reality.
To be honest, I don't normally read biographies. When I read, I read to escape the real world and all of the problems I seem to have with it. I normally don't want to read about someone else's problems. If I do pick up some non-fiction, it is normally historical or something mythological. I actually once read The Science of Jurassic Park and the Lost World. All kinds of DNA information with a lot of BIG words that I'm still not sure if I understand.
In any case, when I read I want to KNOW everything is fictional, even if the story is about most of the world going crazy because of cell phones.
And just to let you know what I'm reading now: currently I'm reading The Library Policeman, a short novel in the book Four Past Midnight by Stephen King. Yes another novel by Mr. King. I tend to get on author kicks and read a few things by the same author in a row. Although, after this one I think I will read Arrow's Fall, book 3 in the Heralds of Valdemar series, by Mercedes Lackey.
I need something a little more cheerful after all the blood and gore.
John Grogan wrote a very funny column on fake memoirs arguing that his own best-selling memoir Marley & Me was actually faked. This made me wonder what everyone else thinks of faking memoirs and/or biographies in publishing.
If you have been busy studying you may have missed the Oprah show where she praised James Frey and his "memoir" A Million Little Pieces and then the show where she lambasted him for lying about events in his memoir - making some things up or vastly exaggerating others.
About a month ago the New York Times had an article about J. T. LeRoy. LeRoy sold himself as a former child abuse victim (I don't know how young my readership is so I will leave it at that. The description of the abuse he allegedly suffered was very graphic.) who only managed to survive through the kindness of a couple, Laura Albert and Geoffrey Knoop. (Knoop's first name may be something else.) The novels that LeRoy wrote were gritty and the publisher claimed that they were "semi-autobiographical." Well, the NYTimes article said that J.T. LeRoy does not exist. The novels were written by Laura Albert and Knoop's younger sister wore a disguise to appear as LeRoy at book signings.
Here are some questions to think about.
Would these books have sold if there was not a suffering author attached to them? Would they ever have made it out of the slush pile? What does that say about the publishing world? What does it say about American readers?
Since the LeRoy books are fiction, does it matter whether we believe the personna the author has created for herself?
Author's have written under pen names for centuries. What's the difference here?
Can you think of other books with authors who made fraudulent claims about themselves?
And how would you feel after reading a book that was supposed to be true if you found out it was mostly a lie?
Does Lemony Snicket fit in here?
I'd like to read any comments you might have about this.

Also, if you could make up a persona, what would it be? This one is strictly for fun.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Oh goodie I am not the only manga reading person in the group!! There are also two other series that I am really into.
The First is Immortal Rain in which Rain is much like Trigun's Vash. The story is that of a tragic hero doomed by their own actions, in this case Rain is condemed to live forever. Like Vash he ends up having a bounty on his head and everyone wants to bring him in dead..or alive. Except he always seems to escape. Of course I have only read three books so far.
The second is Louie the Rune Soldier which is a riot. This guy is the totally opposite of the everyday hero. He's a mage that prefers fist fights and street brawls to magic. He can be a complete moron and one perverted, beer drinking son of gun, but watching him fumble down the path of a would be hero is hilarious.

And for sights to add links too Tamora Pierce's website is pretty awesome. She has some really interesting reading lists availiable to browse through. Also there is this Potter sight that can basically tell you almost everything there is to know about the Potter Universe created by J.K. Rowling. Of course at the moment I am having dinner, thus I too lazy to find and post them here. I'll give them to our wonderful blogmaster about the same time I remember to show her Kenshin.
TTFN

Edited: Okay, I thought I would try to put them on the side bar, but I don't have those magical powers so I am sticking them in here.
http://www.tamora-pierce.com/ This is Tamora Pierce's site
http://www.hp-lexicon.org/index-2.html This is the Potter Site
I'm glad the other members are keeping this blog alive. Thanks to Shadow and Okuni we now have some manga represented. I'm definitely going to look at "Fray" and Shadow can show me Roruoni Kenshin sometime this week.
I'm interested in book related sites to put on the sidebar. A professional journal listed 10 library blogs back in the fall and I just checked them out. Only 2 were still being updated. Sad.
Have you stumbled over any cool book-related websites or blogs - other than this one, of course? Let me know about them. You can link to them in your posts and then the whole WORLD can know about them, too.

As to what I'm reading? Um, I'm sort of embarassed to tell you that I actually read Alchemy by Margaret Mahy back when it was new - except I don't remember what happened in it so... HOWEVER The curse of the blue tattoo ( see my post from Sat. 2-18-06) finally came in - it was a whole day late here at the library - and I think that I will read that instead. I also have this very cool-looking book Operation Red Jericho by Joshua Mowll. It looks like a red notebook and comes with an elastic band to keep it shut. I wonder how long THAT will last. The author claims that the notebook comes from the files left to him by his Great-Aunt Rebecca. Has anyone read it yet?
Yay for Melanka Fray! Josh Whedon has developed the Buffy universe further by teaming up with some fabulous artists and presenting "Fray", a slayer story in graphic novel format. This is a very tight, character driven story, which takes place 200 years from the now of the TV show. Melanka Fray lives in the scruffy, downtrodden, dark urban underbelly of a future city. The rich folks have flying cars, the poor folks have an underworld that really is an underworld, and human beings have mutated into so many forms that one can't tell the demonic from the demented. Melanka is a teenager who has seen more than her share of rough stuff, but still has heart and a strong desire for a wholesome life, (although currently getting by as a contract thief.) She becomes a slayer of vampires, and a more mature person, by the end of the book. The artists are so good, you can compare the girl at the beginning to the one at the end, and see the subtle changes. There are also some tiny, clever quotes from Gaiman's "Sandman", if you remember that graoundbreaking graphic novel. You absolutely do not have to have seen any of the Buffy shows to appreciate "Fray", all the needed backstory is complete and well revealed.

Monday, February 20, 2006

I don't know if you consider this actually reading or not, but I spent most of my day home sick napping and reading Rurouni Kenshin manga books. I read 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and started 18 which was where I switched to school work.
These six books carry the end of the kyoto arc. Other than a wonderful action adventure story with a great deal of comedy mixed in, it give a me a historical glimpse of the meiji era Japan with snapshot flash backs of the past. The manga series takes place after the fall of the Shogun or feudal military ruler. The Ishin shishi, patriots, fought to restore the emperor to his rightful throne after nearly 300 years of warlords.
This is historical fiction so other than historical facts, customes at the time, and certain minor characters, this is made up. However most of the characters are referenced back to actual people that lived.
Kenshin Himura served as a hitokiri, assassin, during the war and became known as hitokiri battosai. Now he is merely a wander who seeks to help the weak though refuses to kill ever again. So,Kenshin wanders into Tokyo (orginally Edo) to keep an eye on the government and that where the story starts. Oh, that's when a bunch of weird and interesting characters get mashed into one big happy (most of the time) family. This manga delves deeply into the soul of emotions that governs humanity. Kenshin himself is seeking atonment for the sins of his past, another character loses everything including his humanity only to fight to regain his soul and will to live.
Anyway, I was a great deal of fun. Hope you enjoyed the mini history lesson given to me from my reading. Sayonara!