Thursday, December 13, 2007

What a year! Lloyd Alexander, Robert Jordan, Madeleine L'Engle - all gone! And Terry Pratchett has just been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease. The world of fantasy books still has a few good years from Pratchett, thank God. Now is the time to get to know him through his Discworld series and other books.

I am in Northern California and today we are doing nothing. Yup. That's our agenda for the day. We might visit a winery. We might go to a park and hike. We might read, write, snooze. We might not do anything. We're on vacation and that's what vacationers do.

I just found out that my monthly gig as Book Guru for a local weekly has ended. The company that puts out the weeklies in my area of the East has decided to end several weekly papers - due to lack of interest probably. Those areas were already served by a subscription weekly anyway. The sad thing is, that after a visit to Chrales M. Schulz's museum yesterday, I decided to do an article about comic strips and their usefulness as pre-literacy and early literacy tools, as well as their re-publications as books of collections. I'll leave their efficacy as social commentary to someone more interested in research than I am.

What this means - the end of my writing gig - is that I will have to suffer the rigors of submitting queries and having them rejected - or hopefully accepted. It just adds another layer to the writing process. Oh, well, why should I be any different than all the other writing grunts?

And we are missing some awful weather out East. Yippee! That always makes us feel better -to be on vacation somewhere temperate while snow and sleet batters our home town. Oh drat! I have to email someone and ask that person to clear our walks. And it might mean that we have trouble getting home. I wonder how much it would cost to drive across the country. Nah. Bad idea.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I have not written - I have not even practiced my accordion! All I have done is suffer from cold and sinus pain. (I sound like an advertisement.) Sinus infections, yuck, yuck, yuck.

So the stuff I am reading is fun and light - more Carola Dunn. I found my lost library books.

Yesterday, I catalogued a bunch of new Christmas picture books and one Hanukkah - Rosh Hodesh picture book, "Hanukkah Moon" by Debra DaCosta. I did Holly Hobbie's new Toot and Puddle book, "Let It Snow!" Hobbie's artwork is just so good.

I leave for my vacation tomorrow so I will be so busy getting things in order that I am going to sign off now.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

It's over. My Nanowrimo novel-ette is over. 50,980 words. So why didn't I just go for 51,000? No idea.
As soon as it was done, I wailed to the hub, "What do I do now? I don't have anything to write about now."
He suggested editing the silly thing but I'm not ready for that. I need to print it out and get out the red pencil to deal with that. Besides as I was telling him what happened in the story I realized what a huge part conicidence played in this book. My character is smarter than I am and I don't know how to deal with that. In order to make the book work, as it was conceived, I'd have to revisit high school math courses; learn about social networking sites; figure out how substitute teachers are hired and called; and learn about mental disorders of the very intelligent.

So just writing the book was only about a tenth of the project. I'm exhausted.

So, why did I do it? Well, I DID it. I wrote through a story from beginning to end and I did not stop and I did not decide to change things - well, I did but I just changed them - and I did not tear out my hair and say, "I don't know what happens next." I just kept writing and, guess what? I figured out what could happen next.

My character's situation was with me when I wasn't typing and for the first time in a long time, I felt like a writer.

I realized just how much I enjoy the creative process.

I have the skeleton of a possible teen novel if I decide to use it.

I have hope that the fifteen or more books I have started may actually get written.

I had fun.

Now, I have to come up with a BookLady article for the end of December. I think I did resolutions last year so what should I do next month? I already did gift books. The article appears the week after Christmas.

Any ideas, oh phantom possible readers of these posts?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Well, I'm 43000 words into my NaNoWriMo novelette and I don't know where to go next. There are dozens of things I should be doing right now - including adding onto said novelette and instead I am here writing this blog.
I started a Jo Dereske novel last night and realized I'd rather be writing than reading. Why has it taken me this long to come to this insight? I LOVE reading but I like the creative process more. Even the accordion isn't bringing me as much satisfaction as writing.
Except for now, when I have finished the climax and don't know where to go next.
I have 7000 words, more or less, to tie up the lo0se ends, explain my antagonist's rationale, help my protagonist deal with what has happened to her and provide a hopeful ending. I didn't intend to write a "problem" novel. I dislike problem novels and yet I have found this novelette so much easier to write than something lighter and funnier. So what does that say about my sense of humor?
Well, I have until Friday at midnight to finish this thing. I WILL do it. I will also exercise, count calories and maintain a positive attitude. Right!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Oliver Sachs has a new book out, Musicophilia. His books deal with strange neurological conditions, usually. But this book deals with music and the effect it has on normal, and probably abnormal, people's brains. I am listening to music right now because I am cataloguing the enormous backlog of books from one of our major book jobbers. (They had a problem, I think.) Whenever I choose to listen to music, I am amazed at the effect it has on my mood. I can feel my heart beat differently. I feel more peaceful, or more energized, depending on what I am listening to. Other sounds can have similar effects but with music the change is instantaneous and more pronounced.
I haven't read Musicophilia. I bought the book for my musician neuro-science obsessed son. I have time before the holidays. Maybe I'll give him a slightly used copy of the book.
PS: 31000 words for Nanowrimo. Hey, I might even do it this year!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Ahh, autumn. I just took a walk around the drive here at the library. The shadows are long; the leaves are sparser on the trees. The grass is golden in the late afternoon sun. It makes me melancholy even as I am awed by the beauty.
Then I came inside and as I sat working I thought of my husband's mother who died this past spring and I missed her with an ache that was painful and at the same time beautiful. I want to take the time to feel that grief. I want time to watch the shadows overcome the sunlight. I want to see the sky turn flame-colored and then gradually dark, dark blue dotted with stars.
I want to sit still for an entire autumn day just watching the light and the sky change, the trees move, the grass lie flat against the earth. Ahhhh, autumn.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

NaNoWriMo started already and I haven't written a single word. Not one word. How am I going to fit that in with everything else I have to do in the next two weeks? Like the Craft Fair, hmm, uhhh? And Nicolas's birthday celebration and what do you buy a fifteen year old for his birthday???? and my assistant is leaving for another week and I have 7 storytimes AND 3 nursery school tours that week. AAAAAGGGHHH. I don't even have an idea for a novel and why did I sign up for this silly thing anyway? I'm reading Brad Meltzer.s "Book of Fate" by the way. It is a "Davinci Code" by someone who can actually write and it concerns the Masons instead of the Catholic Church and takes place in and around D.C. It's pretty exciting because I KNOW the narrator has been marked for extermination by this crazy ex-marine - sort of like the albino monk in DaVinci - and of course the narrator is going to walk right into it any page now. But enough. If you don't hear from me this month, just refer back to the first sentence of this post. BYE.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I promised you a listing of scary stories. Instead, I am going to insert the article I wrote for our little freebie weekly newspaper - The Bethlehem/East Penn/Parkland/Easton/somewhere else/ News. Here it is. Not exactly the way it was printed - because my editor has to edit. That's her job. Read on for some classic scary story collections.

On a recent Saturday night, I made my way to Little Pond Retreat Center ( in Nazareth for the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild’s ( Fright Night Bonfire. WOW! What a wonderful night to sit under the stars on the top of a hill around a crackling, snapping bonfire! The sparks looked like orange fireflies and they rose 20 feet into the air. The night was just cold enough to make the fire seem cozy. The storytellers, Maryann Paterniti, Vicky Town, Chaz Kiernan and myself, were awesome. (Well, THEY all were awesome. I played the accordion!). Our MC, Larry Sceurman, did some magic and told personal reminiscences of the tricks he played on Halloweens long past. I was never a big fan of scary stories - not as a child - not as a teen - not, now, as an adult. You won't catch me reading Steven King or Dean Koontz. Real life is scary enough. Anyone who has ever sent her children off to school for the first time knows just how scary life can be. And then there's your teen's first solo trip as a new driver. The very thought turns more of my hair white. So, creepy things oozing from the walls, evil lurking in the subways??, thank you.That said, I actually like telling scary stories. Since they are not my favorite stories to tell, it takes me forever to find the perfect stories. The tales I told on Saturday came from Ghosts Go a-Haunting, a collection of Scottish ghoul yarns collected by Sorche Nic Leodhas. I have used Alvin Schwartz's collections, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, etc. for some great spine tingling-ness as well.

Telling creepy tales is a time honored Halloween tradition. Here are some books to get you started. Read them out loud or tell them from memory. Sharing a shivery moment as the nights grow longer is great family fun.

The Scary Book, compiled by Joanna Cole and Stephanie Calmenson, (Morrow Junior Books, 1991) is a collection of funny-scary stories, riddles, tongue twisters and games. None of the stories are TOO scary and some of them are just plain fun.

Early readers can learn to tell the stories they read themselves in Alvin Schwartz’s collection, In a Dark, Dark Room, and Other Scary Stories (HarperCollins, 1984). Or they can read Scared Silly!: a Book for the Brave compiled and illustrated by Marc Brown (Little, Brown, 1994).

For fun read-alouds, little ones will enjoy Kay Winters’ Teeny Tiny Ghost series. In these books illustrated by Lynn Munsinger, a timid ghost tries to overcome his fears with great success.

Jarrett Krosoczka wrote and illustrated a Halloween tale of bravery against dreadful odds, Annie Was Warned (Alfred A. Knopf, 2003). Annie WAS warned but that doesn’t stop her from going out on a dark night.

Old readers and listeners will find a lot to chill their bones in the ghost story collections of Robert D. San Souci. The series starts with Short & Shivery and continues with More Short & Shivery and A Terrifying Taste of Short and Shivery (all from Delacorte Press). Like Schwartz’ Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series, San Souci’s collections each contain dozens of scary stories for braver readers. Schwartz concentrates on American folklore. San Souci’s stories come from all over the world.
(Schwartz’s series is available in a boxed set from HarperTrophy, 2001. The set includes Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and Scary Stories III.)

Raw Head, Bloody Bones: African-American Tales of the Supernatural Collected by Mary C. Lyons has some of the creepiest, most blood-curdling stories EVER between its covers. Reader, beware!

Some readers want real ghosts – or the rumors thereof. Daniel Cohen has collected stories of “real” ghosts since the 1980s. His books include The Ghosts of War (Putnam, 1990) and Civil War Ghosts (available in paperback from Scholastic), both of which concentrate on stories of haunted battlefields and soldier ghosts. Star-gazers can read Cohen’s The Ghost of Elvis, and Other Celebrity Spirits (Putnam, 1994).

People who are looking for local ghosts can read Charles J. Adams III’s Ghosts of the Lehigh Valley (Exeter House, 1993). There are some horrifying stories about local landmarks in this book. Keep the light on!

You missed the bonfire this year but if you want to listen scary stories told well, the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild will perform more spine-tingling yarns at Godfrey Daniels in South Bethlehem on Halloween night – October 31st – at 7 p.m. Check out Godfrey’s website for directions –

And now for a disclaimer: Read all of these books at your own peril. This writer will not be responsible for nightmares and/or sleepless nights. Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Fall festivities abounded this weekend. The Fall Fest was fabulous. The sky was blue and clear and the temperature was just right for doing fun stuff under the trees. We had over a dozen teen and adult volunteers helping 60 or more children and their parents and grandparents. Children decorated pumpkins, made paper bag gargoyles, listened to books, pelted a beautiful cut out castle (designed and painted by Sally Onopa) with pom poms, ran the Knight's Relay, dressed up like knights and princesses and tormented our poor teen dragon. When I figure out how to post photos here I will add some. There were mysterious touch boxes, a charming fortune teller, two talented face painters and an impromptu audience participation storytelling presentation, too. Magnificent!

Then, I hurried off to Little Pond Retreat Center for the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild's Fright Night Bonfire. WOW! what a wonderful night to sit under the stars on the top of a hill around a crackling, snapping bonfire! The sparks looked like orange fireflies and they rose 20 feet into the air. The night was just cold enough to make the fire seem cozy. The storytellers, Mary Anne Paterniti, Vicky Town, Chaz Kiernan and myself, were awesome. (Well, THEY all were awesome. I played the accordion!). Our MC, Larry Sceurman, did some magic and told personal reminiscences of the tricks he played on Halloween. I love his stories.

I was never a big fan of scary stories - not as a child - not as a teen - not, now, as an adult. You won't catch me reading Steven King or Dean Koontz. Real life is scary enough. Anyone who has ever sent her children off to school for the first time knows just how scary life can be. And then there's your teen's first solo trip as a new driver. The very thought turns more of my hair white.
So, creepy things oozing from the walls, evil lurking in the subways??, thank you.

HOWEVER, I actually like telling scary stories. They are not my favorite stories to tell so it takes me forever to find the perfect stories. The tales I told on Saturday came from Ghosts Go a-Haunting, a collection of Scottish ghoul yarns collected by Sorche Nic Leodhas. I have used Alvin Schwartz's collections, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, etc. for some great spine tingling-ness as well. Later on this week, I will pull together a list of books that concentrate on ghost stories and witch lore. So, stay tuned!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I am on the cusp of signing up for NaNoWriMo. How I expect to write 1500 pages a day when it has been two whole weeks since I've visited this blog, I have no idea. But this is the year of changes and I think making an effort to write 50,000 pages in one month might be a turning point in my writing attempts. It's worth a try.
Okay, The BIG Bonfire is this coming Saturday at 7 p.m. I will be playing the accordion - sort of and telling two stories. It's at Little Pond Retreat Center. Saturday is also the Fall Fest at the library in the afternoon and it should be beautiful around these parts. Good!!! I still need to work out a few details but I think I have things in good order.
Sunday is hub's birthday celebration. So son and wife are coming to dinner. I wish I could just sleep on Monday but I have storytime at 10:30 so I will have to go in.
I had to do my sidekick's preschool storytimes this week and I think I have lost my touch. I do Family Storytimes or Toddler Storytimes where the parents stay with the children. I have forgotten how to deal with defiant four-year-olds. And I'm not Mrs. Sidekick; I'm a usurper - a Substitute Teacher. Ugh. I could never be a Substitute Teacher. I'm too old and set in my ways.
I picked up the very first Daisy Dalrymple book (by Carola Dunn) and it was fun! I've written about this series in other posts so I'll move on to another book. Terry Pratchett's Making Money is a romp. I haven't got very far into it and I am already on edge. The main character, Moist von Lipwig, is so devious, so basically honorable, so likable and in so much danger. I can't wait to see what happens now that he has been maneuvered into taking over Morkh Ankhor's (sp.?) Mint (or die!). I haven't read too many of Pratchett's other Discworld books - except for his Tiffany Aching trilogy - so I'm looking forward to reading earlier books when this one is done.
I have to practice the accordion and exercise - I am on a health kick and a music kick these days - so I will say goodbye.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Storytime starts on Monday and the theme of our first "organized" storytime is Building Blocks. I love building blocks and I remembered two of the best Christmas presents I ever got.
I was in college and besides all of the college-y things a person can get my Mom and Dad bought me a box of wooden building blocks and a set of plastic blocks called "Cubes and Tubes". The Cubes and Tubes made tunnels that a plastic ball rolled through and the trick was to create a structure that would take the ball down and then back up again using just gravity. My set came with a little motor so the motion could be kept up but wow! in the days before video games - years before Pong, even - my dorm room was the place to be when coursework was just too much.
The wooden blocks were especially appealing to friends who had been, um, under the influence of herbal supplements so to speak. The game Janga! (spelling?) had not been created yet but my friends created their own version of the game building precarious towers and carefully and slowly de-constructing them one block at a time. Toys! I love them.
I kept the Cubes and Tubes for years. Remnants might even be in my attic as I type this.
I'd love to read about the memories other people have of building with building blocks or of their favorite building toys. So submit a comment and I'll post it! Thanks.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Me again. How lucky you are!! Two posts in one day.

1. On my Shelf Awareness e-newsletter, they interviewed Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked - the novel from which the musical was derived - and many other books. They always ask the same questions - it's in a segment called "Book Brahmins". Here is the answer to the last question.

Gregory Maguire
Books you most want to read again for the first time: "Hop on Pop, because that would mean that all of my reading life was still magnificently ahead of me."

Isn't that a cool response? Think about all the books you love. Now, think about being able to read them all over for the first time. Wow!

2. On PW Children's e-newsletter (you have to pay to subscribe to it so I'm not linking to it) there's an article about readergirlz and their "31 Flavorite Authors for Teens" project. They are going to interview authors who write for teens every day in October. Get excited!! Meg Cabot is October 1st which is very exciting BUT Stephanie Meyer is on October 31st!!! Jump up and down! Jump up and down! Now shriek! Get a grip, really. So click on the link and take a trip to their MySpace for the interviews. And I think the interviews are live and I think that if you join readergirlz you can actually ask them questions. So all you reader girls should join. At least, check out their website.

See, anon comes sooner than you think.
Hey! I recently wrote a column for the little weekly about craft books. Do you know that there is a two book mystery series about soapmaking? That didn't get into my column but I was tickled to go on Amazon and find soapmaking fiction. The reason I looked is that a friend and library patron, Peg Bruno, stopped by so I could photograph her for the column. (I get extra $$$ - make that $ - if I include a photo.) Peg is a soapmaker who got her start after borrowing a book from the library!!! Check out her website at

Anyway, I already found the quilting, knitting and scrapbooking fiction and mentioned some of the authors in my column but soapmaking??? Yep. Tim Myers is the author and the second title is "A Pour Way to Dye" (eeewwww, a punster.) I haven't read it. I'm just here to tell you about my book related discoveries.

I'm planning a crafts fair - did I already tell you that? And it has taken over my life. My house, normally dishevelled in a charmingly disarming way, is scary. (I did have a marathon outpouring of cleaning energy on Tuesday which means I'm done for the rest of the month.) I am making ornaments from lightbulbs - high art here everyone - and I am disappointed with my efforts. Oh well, this crafts fair is for the OTHER crafters and artists and luckily some of them actually are artists. More about that as the date approaches.

I attended a very cool workshop on making libraries warm and welcoming to teens. Kim Bolan was the presenter. I've linked to her blog there. She goes around the country interviewing teens for libraries to help plan building renovations and new construction. She had so much energy that I think THAT was why I cleaned so much on Tuesday. (I saw Kim on Monday.) So now, with all these great ideas, I will be able to transform the small, dusty, dark, tucked away, out of sight area in this library known as YA (yayayayayaya) into a vibrant, pulsing with energy, beacon of teen-ness. YES!!! Well,, I am not sure exactly how... Nevertheless, Kim Bolan is a certified CLP (Cool Library Person) and the world can always use another one of those.

Enough! I will return anon.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Oh for gosh sakes! I forgot to mention that I read Wynne-Jones' "The Pinhoe Egg". So, of course, only a few of you are going to get the oh-so-humorous reference to it in my last post.

"The Pinhoe Egg" is a Chrestomanci novel starring Cat Chant from "The Charmed Life' and introducing Marianne and Joe Pinhoe, two dwimmer magical kids from a nearby village. Marianne gives Cat an egg that she finds in her Gammar's attic after her Gammar goes "senile" and that egg helps to unleash all kinds of previously imprisoned magic.

At the end of the book there are six children involved with the Castle, Julia and Roger, Chrestomanci's children, Janet, stranded by the awful Gwendolyn in "Charmed Life", Cat, Gwendolyn's brother and the future Chrestomanci, and now Marianne and Joe Pinhoe. It's not exactly a school but this set up leaves the door open for some very cool magical adventures. Cool. Well, my lightbulbs are waiting.
For those who actually read this blog, here are a few corrections. e. lockhart's new book, out in the Spring, is "The disreputable history of Frankie Landau-Banks" NOT "The outrageous..." as earlier noted. I'll fix it in that post but if you are looking for that book, it's good to get the title correct.
And "Charlie Bone and the Beast" is exactly that NOT "Charlie AND the Bone..." Oh well, I am a lousy proof-reader.

Reading is addictive and the more I read, the more I want to read. Last week I read three of Carola Dunn's "Daisy Dalrymple" books. This series takes place after the Great War. Since Daisy's only brother is killed in the War, the entire estate is passed on to the next male heir in the family and Daisy has to earn an actual living. I haven't read the first book, so I don't know how she meets up with her Scotland Yard Detective fiance-eventual-husband but her mother is horrified with Daisy's behavior. Work for a living, indeed!!
The books have lots of country estates and landed gentry and all the social changes of the 1920s. Lots of fun.

I also re-read "The Lives of Christopher Chant" for the 19th time and followed that with a re-reading of "Charmed Life", both by Diana Wynne-Jones. I like the novels that take place in Chrestomanci Castle. It's sort of Hogwarts-ish. OR is Hogwarts sort of Chrestomanci Castle-ish? Which came first the griffin or the Pinhoe egg?

I also decided that I want to run a crafts fair. I love to make stuff but I have a limited distribution outlet. SO, voila, a crafts fair. There you go. So I am reading a lot of books on selling crafts and looking for crafts to sell. And that reminds me, I have to go paint lightbulbs.

See you soon.

Friday, August 24, 2007

I haven't read the book - don't even have it in the library - but here's an example of how books, their titles and their content can effect my daily life. I put in an order for Jennifer Holm's new book, "Middle School is Worse than Meat Loaf" and, like Homer Simpson, I thought to myself, "Hmmm, meat loaf, hmmmm!"

I went home that night and made meat loaf - yum.

I'll let you know more about the book when it comes in.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Ahhh, Summer Reading Club is oooover. Darn! The worst thing about the end of summer is all the teens going off to college. Six of my best volunteers have moved on to academia, one to Princeton, one to Olin, one to Moravian, one to Waynesburg, one to KSU and one to Mount St. Mary's. And I am stuck here. They will miss the Teen Pizza Party than-q loud raucous bash and some of them will miss the Fall Fest. But, there's a whole crew of younger teens still hanging around shelving and shelf reading and straightening things up and generally brightening my day.

Okay, I found my inner reader again this summer. For months there, I was too busy dealing with family issues (death, wedding, etc.) to do a lot of recreational reading but I'm back and oh boy I have been reading some good stuff.

I read L. M. Meyer's fourth entry into the Bloody Jack series, "In the Belly of the Bloodhound" where the entire girls' school is sold into slavery and Jackie must join forces with her arch enemy Cornelia (?) to get free. Another romp into the realm of imagination stretching and early 19th century seaman- oops seapersonship, the pages practically turn themselves. Not for the squeamish, though.

HP 7 - like most of the people I've talked to, I found the cheery epilogue jarring. But on the whole, this was a satisfying end to the most read epic for children and teens ever.

e. lockhart has a superb book coming out - "The Outrageous History of Frankie Landau-Banks". A sophomore at a swanky, high prestige prep school, Frankie has bloomed over the summer - filling out and up and getting contacts. Suddenly, boys - who only talked to her because of her sister - notice her. And she becomes the girlfriend of very popular and handsome Matthew. Because her father attended Alabaster Academy, Frankie knows of the "secret" all-male prankster club, the Basset Society. Long story short - she infiltrates the society via email and takes it over and only one Basset is aware that an infiltration has taken place. EXCEPT that that is not really what the book is about. Pranks and cleverness abound - along with a rude awakening. Here's some good news and some bad news. Bad news first - the book isn't due out until MARCH of 2008!!! Good news - Frankie's just a sophomore and we might be meeting up with her again.

I am in the process of reading the new Cornelia Funke due out in September, "Igraine the Brave". I left off just as Sir Hedgehog, the evil knight, has discovered the special spell-removing powder that Igraine used to remove a victory spell from Sir Hedgehog's lance. (Hi real name is something like Sir Rowan of the whatever. The book's at home and I'm not.) Igraine lives with her magician parents and older brother and all she (Igraine) wants is to become a knight like her great-grandfather. I'm almost done and only sleep and work have kept me from finishing it.

I also read "The Glass Castle" by Jeanette Walls. Um, engrossing memoir for sure but NOT enjoyable. The book made me so anxious that I couldn't sleep. Jeanette's parents led those kids through such a wild, dangerous childhood that I'm surprised they (the grown-up kids) aren't all in padded cells and yet, there is something intriguing about people who can be so unconcerned about public opinion. My family life looks so idyllic after reading that book ( and actually it is).

The last book in the Charlie Bone series, "Charlie and the Bone and the Beast" was a noble addition to the series. Loose ends are tied up and evil forces are vanquished and animals and "un-endowed" young friends all play an important part.

And the very last book by the late Lloyd Alexander, "The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio", seems to mirror Alexander's life. A dreamer, Carlo Chuchio, goes searching for treasure and finds adventure, self-awareness and a life mate in the process. Magic abounds and humor is ever present for Alexander had a playful way of viewing life. (Chuchio means 'donkey' in the language that Carlo speaks.) When the book was finished, it is rumored that Alexander said "My life's work is done." Lloyd Alexander died in May two weeks after his beloved wife died. I still am saddened by his passing.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Actually, what I miss is everything that has filled me with joy. And sometimes I miss the moment as soon as I'm in it. I miss the falling leaves in every fall, the icicle bejeweled branches that sparkle in the morning sun. I miss every rainbow, every good belly laugh, every long lingering kiss I have ever experienced.
This is why people write or paint or create music or make movies. Those long panning shots of incredible scenery? The cameraperson knows that she will miss that tree-lined lane.
Nabokov wrote a short story about a young boy's trip to the sea and the little girl he fell in love with there. He told of a trip to Paris to meet that little girl and how a marble with a blue spiral brought that time back to the narrator.
And, pardon my ignorance, wasn't it Proust who found a memory "au fond du tasse du the"?
Anyway, I will keep missing these moments and looking forward to them my entire life.

Back to books, I found a new-to-me mystery series that I enjoy, Daisy Dalrymple. Daisy is the daughter of a Baron, married to a Chief Inspector of Scotland Yard, during the 1920s. Her marriage is an affront to the landed gentry from which she sprang but the lines between the classes are blurring since the War. Both the books I've read take place at huge British Estates complete with loyal retainers and eccentric family members. The author is Carola Dunn and the plots are clever.

I picked up an ARC of "Welcome to the Wisdom of the World" by Joan Chittister when I visited eerdman Publishing's booth at BookExpo. Did I mention this in a past post? I forget. I'm finding the book enlightening and thought provoking. Look for it in a bookstore near you, soon.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

I miss long walks - walking just to walk, walking to get places because I didn't have a car (this was loooong ago), walking to visit a friend. Now I walk "for exercise" and I allot myself 30 minutes max. I have to fit these walks in between ironing, work, cleaning, work, cooking, work and work.

I miss living with a large family. Yeah, they were always there and noisy to boot but, sometimes, we had a lot of fun.

I miss free time. Nuff said.

I miss playing the guitar. I miss having time to practice all my instruments.

I miss the me I was at 12 and at 26, even at 30. I was full of hope and the world lay before me. Now that I've passed half a century, the world stills lies before me but traveling is slower and arthritis slows me down.

Once I was skinny. I miss that, too.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Things I miss:

I miss the huge fir tree in our neighbor's back yard. It shaded our yard so that nothing would grow and it shed cones and branches every time the wind blew. But it roared in storms and it sheltered owls and bats. I was glad to see it go. But now I miss it.
I miss my mother-in-law. She didn't like me much for at least 20 years. She criticized almost everything my husband and I did. But then she grew older and more mellow and she was a support and a friend. Now she's gone and I miss her.
Having a dog - I miss that. Not enough to run out and adopt one though. I miss having her greet me when we came home. I miss feeling safe when my husband was away at night, knowing that the dog was there to bark and growl. I miss hearing her flop down on the rug with a hearty sigh. Dogs are good. I miss ours.
I miss having a child in the house. I miss spontaneous laughter because kids find things immensely amusing. I miss playing. Grown-ups forget how to do that. I miss sharing deep thoughts and being amazed and humbled by just how deep a child's thoughts can be. I miss having someone to sing with and jam with in the kitchen. He just got married and I miss the child that he was.

More things I miss in another post.

Monday, June 4, 2007

I think that weddings, and other "rites of passage" like Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and Graduations, are designed to make sure that people cannot think of anything else for weeks at a time. If your brain is completely taken up with flower arrangements and catering and color swatches, etc., there's no way you can do anything that will disrupt the status quo. Revolutions have been stalled by wedding invitations. "Oh, sorry, I can't overthrow the government THAT weekend. My son is getting married." Inventions were conceived and then forgotten because someone had to deal with the parking problem.
Fortunes that could have been made by investing that extra thousand are lost because the cousin who promised to take pictures had a skiing accident and is in traction.
It's part of the "Keep people busy and in debt" strategy of Big Business (you can tell that Big Business is Sinister because I am using capital "B"s) and Big Business's counterparts, Organized Religion and the (dum dum DUM...) Military - Industrial Complex.
Yep, you THINK it's just your graduation but it's really part of an Evil Plot. There's my Random Thought of the Day.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Thomson Gale, a publisher of non-fiction and reference titles, held a GREAT contest. They invited librarians and library lovers everywhere to submit videos to the following site on YouTube - The contest got over 140 submissions. Now some of them are just cheerleading for libraries. Some of them are - well - amateurish but some of them are superb. YouTube also highlights other library videos. Check out Betty Glover's Library Fitness video. It's a bit insulting to librarians, especially academic librarians but it's funny! I wonder when it was made because it looks pretty darn 80's.
BEA tomorrow - Well actually today, tomorrow and Sunday but I'm making my yearly pilgrimage tomorrow. I can NOT wait. BookExpo is the BEST thing a book lover like me can do. Check out Book Expo's website - - to see a tiny little bit of what I'm talking about. Authors, books, and freebies - oh yeaaah!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Lloyd Alexander died this morning - May 17th, 2007 - at the age of 83. Fflewdur Fflam will learn to play the harp at last. Farewell to the creator of Prydain, Holly Vesper and the adventurers of Westmark. Tomorrow I will wear black.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

So much has happened since I last blogged that I feel like a different person. In fact, my life has changed; my world has shifted. Someone who has been a part of my daily life for the past thirty-five years has died. I have been so lucky not to have lost a parent or a sibling or a close, close friend. I've lost aunts and a good friend and grandparents. But, when my husband's mother died three weeks ago, I got a foreshadowing of what will happen when my parents go. I'm not looking forward to it.

We only saw Mom M. every 3 or 4 weeks. But in the month before her death we talked to her 5 or 6 times a day. My husband visited her - a 3 hour trip each way - every two or three days. And then, it was over. She was alert to the end. She died of old age - 95 and worn out but aware until the last few hours of her life.

I am surprised to find how often I thought of my mother-in-law during the day. I find a recipe and wonder if Mom M. would like this. The phone rings and I think that it's Mom M. calling. I find something she gave me. I read a poem she liked, read a story in the newspaper. Because she is no longer here, I notice these fleeting thoughts. But I must have had them every day because they percolate so frequently.

I last posted 8 days before her death so you already know about my bout with ear infections again. Guess what? Side effects of two medications I take daily include ear and sinus infections. Mayhap, I should change my meds.

Enough about me. I finally read "Terrier" by Tamora Pierce. WhooHoo! That Tammie can write a fine fantastic police procedural. Beka Cooper has made it into the Guards in ancient Tortall. She's a first year, or "puppy" and she is being trained by the best two officers in the city. Pierce's descriptions of Corus, the capital city of Tortall, the social strata there and the customs of the common folk are seamless. She's a master at giving you information that you need without making you feel like you're being lectured. You learn some of the stuff along with Beka and the rest is just described. There is a full glossary and list of characters in the back of the book if you get confused.

Beka, her patron, Lord Gershon, and her trainers are chasing two extremely evil murderers. One criminal is kidnapping and killing children, demanding the small treasures of the poor and not so poor. Those who pay the ransom get their child back. Those who don't never see the child again. Beka's ability to hear the ghosts carried by the pigeons of Corus alerts her to the extent of this criminal's murders. Other ghosts tell her of men who are hired to dig a well and are poisoned or bludgeoned. Fortunately for Beka, there are complaints of missing children and men and her patron and trainers believe in her abilities. Pierce makes these fantastic talents believable as well.

Besides Beka and her trainers, there are the friends she makes among the people who hang out in the Rogue's court. And there's Pounce. Wait til you meet Pounce! All in all, this is a totally satisfying adventure and since it is subtitled Book One, I certainly hope there will be more books about Beka Cooper.

A good book is a blessing, a vacation, a relief. I took "Terrier" on vacation with me last week. Since I have had trouble sleeping since Mom M.'s death, "Terrier" kept me company while my husband slept. I felt comforted and alive and ready to write again after reading for awhile. More books, please!

Keep reading.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I just visited a friend whose child took his own life three weeks ago. I returned to the library to do a storytime and now I feel guilty for feeling lucky! My overwhelming feeling after seeing my friend was that I wished the clock could fly backward and this tragedy could be averted but under that was a feeling of, phew! My son is still alive.

So listen to me, anyone reading this. If your life is so black and awful that you think the world will be better off without you - YOU ARE WRONG!!!! Someone will miss you with a pain so all encompassing that their days will be hell on earth. And not just one person either. Talk to someone. Tell someone. Keep talking to people about your pain until you find someone to help you.

And tell the people you love that you love them every chance you get. Bye now, I have a phone call or two to make.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Michael Auberry, the North Carolina Boy Scout who was lost for three days, may be alive today because he read "Hatchet" by Gary Paulsen. Or, so it's been reported on CNNnews. Reading can save your life.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

I want a channel on television devoted to helping people and encouraging universal values - or examining values - like honesty, kindness, generosity, hard work, creativity, thrift.
Every channel I enjoy watching - HGTV, Food Network, TLC, even Discovery - emphasizes what people HAVE, rather than what they do or are.

I'm tired of watching shows that make me unhappy with what I have. On my new channel - which could never succeed because it could never attract enough advertisers - shows would explain how to make the most of what people have. Stories about people who volunteer, give to charity, recycle, use alternative energy sources, mentor students, fight for affordable health care, work towards world peace - that's what I want on this new channel.

Although the channel may feature Christian families, Jewish families, Muslim, Buddhist, Baha'i, atheist, Hindi families and activists, this channel will not underwrite any one religion. No televangelists will offer to pray for donors' souls. No one will try to convince anyone else that one way is the only way.

It's a nice dream. Now, that I've written it down, what can I do to make it happen?
Where have all the poems gone? You know - like "I think that I shall never see/a poem as lovely as a tree."
Or, "Blessings on thee, little man /barefoot boy with cheeks of tan..."

The first is by WWI poet Joyce Kilmer - back when Joyce could be a man's name - from his poem "Trees".

The second is by John Greenleaf Whittier, who if I remember correctly was also responsible for the immortal lines , "Under the spreading chestnut tree/ The village smithy stands."

Back in the way, way, way olden times, we had a thing called "Poem Study" in grade school. We had to learn a poem every week and be prepared to stand up and recite it from memory. Since I went to a parochial school, our poem study book had standard poetry in it and poems from Catholic poets like Kilmer. But the poems all had classic rhythmns and they rhymed - all of them. When we got to seventh and eighth grade and were lucky enough to read some Gerard Manley Hopkins (I read him in fifth grade because I was a poetry geek), we learned that poetry that rhymed and had rhythmn could also be exciting and bizarre. We also experienced some Walt Whitman - a poet who rhymed only when he absolutely had to -"Oh Captain, my Captain".

In high school, I fell in love with free form poetry, Allen Ginsburg, and oh my heavens - one of my favorites still - e. e. cummings - Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Dylan Thomas, beloved because a folksinger changed his last name to the poet's first name, T. S. Eliot - heavy intoxicating stuff, even some of the writings of Teillhard de Chardin... and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Sara Teasdale, H. D. Doolittle, Emily Dickinson.

But for recitation purposes, the poems of James Whitcomb Riley still stand firm - "Frost on the punkin", and "Little Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay/ to wash the cups and saucers up/ and brush the crumbs away..."

My MIL is nearing the end of her life. She asked someone to buy her a book of poems - "Best Loved Poems" But times have changed and only one or two Riley poems were in there. He wrote thousands, you know. She asked me to find "Out to Old Aunt Mary's" a couple of weeks ago - but I got busy and then I got sick and I found it only today - Thanks to the 24/7 reference "AskPA" , a 24 hour online helpline staffed by public and academic librarians from around the state and beyond. (You can access AskPA from your public library's website - if you live in Pennsylvania). Claire from New York (New York has a similar help line) found a full text version of this extremely long, maudlin poem with the tear-jerker ending that people of my MIL's generation loved. But in my search, I thought of several other poems that I loved when I was small.

Like "Out to Old Aunt Mary's", the poems are nostalgic, rhythmic and rhyming. Some told stories and others were silly and I love them all.

I have a new quest. I will hunt down and find the best of the old recitables into my personal collection.

Do you have a favorite recitable poem? Let me know.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

I'm a reading fool. I finished "Size 14 is not fat either" by Meg Cabot and I can't wait for the next Heather Wells novel. I don't know if Meg Cabot's work counts as literature but it is so much fun to read. Probably it doesn't count as literature BECAUSE it's so much fun to read but it should be literature- because, did I say, it's so much fun!!!!
Heather Wells is an ex-teen pop star who is working as the assistant residence director for a residence hall of a New York college (named New York College - very clever, that). Anyway, students keep showing up dead in her dorm, - oh excuse me, residence hall. Her ex - who is still fairly well-known in the pop music scene - keeps calling her. She has a BIG crush on her landlord - who is her ex's big brother and her father just got out of jail. Also, although she is a just-say-no woman, she is on warm terms with the drug dealer on the corner. What??!!
So, imagine her surprise when she gets to work on time, for a change, and is dragged into the kitchen to find that someone has lost her head - literally. Off we go because although Heather promises EVERYONE that she wouldn't even dream of getting involved in the investigation, she gets involved in the investigation.
You have to read these books. I haven't read one single Meg Cabot book that I didn't thoroughly enjoy. Even her teen "regency" romances are funny, clever and fast paced. I've never read her adult romances, written under the name Patricia Cabot, but I don't really read adult romances very often.
I have to run. I think supper is burn... um, needs my attention. Keep reading.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Has anyone read "Harmless" by Dana Reinhardt? Random House set up an q&a with Reinhardt about this novel and has put the best questions and answers online.
IN the book three friends are caught staying out too late so they concoct a story that results in a criminal investigation and the repercussions thereof.

If you've read the book - and even if you haven't ( I haven't yet) - check out Random House's
Author 411 to see what Reinhardt has to say about the writing process. Then check out the book .

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Hey! Wasn't I just here?

I just have a few deep thoughts ;) that I want to share.

I cleaned my dresser drawers this week and every time I open one I am blown away by the microcosm of order it contains; t-shirts are folded neatly with other t-shirts. Socks are all together in one place. If I carefully keep my back to the rest of the room I can convince myself that I am one of those mythical people who really do have control over their own space. But I can't stare into a dresser drawer forever. Or can I?

No, sooner or later I have to face the unmade beds in my life, the dirty laundry (heh heh heh) and acknowledge that I muddle through as best I can. Still, I love those neat drawers. They give me the hope that someday if I just keep chipping away at the detritus of life, I will reach a serene and orderly, but not TOO orderly, space.

Life is like that. Those serene spaces can catch us unawares and if we don't notice and enjoy them, they fade. When we hit a place in life where we feel content, where no one in our family is having a crisis, no cars have broken down, no bills are unpaid - we better sigh happily and enjoy. Like my dresser drawers, those calm and happy periods give me hope that when life returns to heartbreak and backache, I'll get through.

All too often, people spend those brief moments of joy reminding themselves of the pain they no longer have. Then the joy-filled moment passes and they don't remember being there. Poor people! Stop for a moment. Go clean out a dresser drawer. You'll feel so much - well, at least, a little bit better. Every little bit helps.

Okay. Deep thought number two.

Blogging and journaling have a lot in common. They can both be cathartic, clearing the air. They are great for recording the high points of our lives and for wallowing in the misery of the low points - if we so choose. BUT, here's the great big BUT that a lot of people forget. No one ever reads my journal without my express permission. A blog on the other hand is open to the entire world. It is not a private conversation among a small group of friends! Sure, you CAN make your blog private - businesses sometimes have blogs where they post interoffice memos - but for the rest of us the point of blogging is that of being heard, being read by other people - people in Jakarta and Japan or Tanganyika or the Yukon.

If a blogger has attained some level of celebrity, if, for instance, a blogger writes a best-selling novel, that blogger better be aware that someone he or she does not know is going to read that blog. Or, if, as has just happened, someone works for a political campaign - well, only the most naive of naive souls could convince himself (or herself) that what he or she types into a blog will not be sought out and used by their candidate's political opponents.

Bloggers shouldn't act surprised or outraged that someone criticizes what they write. Freedom of speech means that anyone can write anything - except specific threats - and publish it anywhere AND it means that when someone does write something hateful or objectionable - other people have the right to, well, object. Heck, they have the right to strenuously object.

Another way that journals and blogs are different is this. When I am finished venting in my journal, I can rip the pages up, or shred them or even burn them. Those angry thoughts will have served their purpose and no one needs to hurt by what I wrote. But once I put something on the Internet, I can't ever erase it. It's a lot like the Jewish folktale about gossip and the pillow full of feathers. I can shut down this blog tomorrow but I have no control over who has read it, or over what they might do with what I wrote. A harmful remark could get cut and pasted into someone else's blog and so on and so forth, forever.

So, keep those drawers and blogs in order. Anyone can look over your shoulder in cyberspace. I'm very grateful for walls and locked doors when my life gets too messy to be seen.

I think I'll go strighten out a closet, now, and dig out my journal.

Love and peace to you all.

Friday, February 9, 2007

The word for today is "simple". Two women's magazines - maybe more - now use that word in their titles; "Real Simple" (cough, cough) and "Quick & Simple".

Anyone who has picked up the hefty tome that is Real Simple will realize that the magazine's goal IS very simple - to provide as many advertisements for expensive home products and clothing as possible. The magazine is HUGE. You can use it for weight lifting exercises. And it really does offer some of the most attractive advertisements of any "women's" magazine. Its stated purpose is to teach its readers how to enjoy the "simple" things in life - like gardening. Then, the magazine offers its readers the $75 flower cutting pail of attractive galvanized steel and the must-have gardening clogs for $$$ (I forget how much. I turned the page so fast it made me dizzy.)
Other simple pleasures? Cooking - um, I never heard of half the ingredients and I'm an equal opportunity veggie eater. But enough about that.

"Quick & Simple" is truly quick. Published weekly, it is full of bite size articles. This magazine is designed for the woman on the go - soccer mom, working mom - overscheduled and stressed. It offers mini-articles on anything, food, styles, hair care, finances, parenting. I am attempting Quick & Simple withdrawal because if I buy every single issue it costs a little over $6 a month - $72 a year.
Still it's not all that simple. It has a fair amount of ads and some of its articles are actually advertisements for objects.

Now I will try to be fair and balanced. "Real Simple" offers a couple of neat features. It has a monthly column on new uses for old objects. Sometimes these ideas are really clever. So, I'm glad that my library carries this magazine.

"Quick & Simple" is just plain fun but it offers bandaids for problems that often need major surgery. I'll still pick up an issue now and then. I'm a hopeless women's magazine junkie and at $1.59 "Quick & Simple" is a cheap fix.

Back to the word - simple. What does it mean? Webster's Unabridged Dictionary lists 16 different definitions and follows that up with a dozen phrases that use the word "simple". The first definition is "having or consisting of only one part". Other more common meanings include "feeble-minded", "having few parts", "unadorned", ""easy to do or understand", "without pretense or ostentation, natural". Then we have "being of little significance", "of low rank", "having no additions or qualifications", "having no guile" , and "foolish". After that we have the meaning of the word as used in music, law and science and the aforementioned dozen phrases. Pretty simple. huh?

Considering all the possible meanings of the word, "Real Simple" could be truly simple, depending on the definition you use.

My personal definition of the word "simple" is something that is plain ("unadorned") or easy to understand. In my opinion, a simple life is one that is not bulging with things to do and places to go and certainly not looking for things to buy. I don't envision a lifestyle that tries to be posh without spending the cash. A simple lifestyle does not care about arugula (a word I love because it's just a salad green, for goodness sake). That lifestyle cares about having just enough to live comfortably.

There is a bumper sticker that reads "Live Simply so that others may simply live." This insinuates that simplicity's intent is to share the wealth. Well, maybe and what's wrong with that? But simplicity can be it's own reason for being. In a simple life, a person appreciates breezes and clouds and the color of the grass in the late afternoon, things that can't buy ads in a magazine.

What I'm doing right now, for instance, is not necessarily simple. I don't NEED a computer and the computer makes my present pasttime possible. And we could all live quite comfortably without Internet access. I know a lot of people who do. So is it possible to live a truly simple life and not get left behind in technology's dust?

There's your puzzle for the day. Think on it. I may add something to this in my next post or - if I'm truly lucky - one of my readers may. Until next time, simply enjoy where you are.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

I love the wee free men of Terry Pratchett's Discworld. I finally got to read the first book, "The Wee Free Men" (copyright 2003) and I can't wait to read the second book, "Wintersmith". However, SOMEONE has borrowed it.
Here's the story. Tiffany Aching has always wanted to be a witch - well, at least, ever since she saw what her neighbors and the Baron did to a feeble minded old woman.
Her story starts the day she takes her baby brother, Wentworth, down to the water and sees the Wee Free men. She also sees a green monster and comes back to bonk it on the head with a frying pan. Tiffany is no wimp and neither are the heavily accented Wee Free men. They are brawling, mauling, stealing, reeling, kilted tiny magical men who need Tiffany's help.
And they will do anything ennythin' that Tiffany wants. Verr handy, that. Read the book. It's a romp. And I want a bunch of wee free men to do my bidding.

I also read, for the first time, "Belle Prater's Boy" (c 1995). Guess who's weeding the Young Adult section? I like Ruth White's work a lot. She writes about people in coal mining regions in Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina.
Woodrow's mama, Belle, just disappears from the small cabin the family lives in. So Woodrow goes to live with his mother's parents in town. His cousin, Gypsy, lives next door and the two become best friends. Gypsy has nightmares about a grief that she has never come to grips with. Her friendship with Woodrow helps both of them come clean about things that have happened to them.
It's hard to do justice when writing about books like these. There's no fantasy, no sex, the adventures the two kids have are gentle and not even mildly scary. The reader gets to watch two kids grow for a year and the kids deal with some heavy things, sometimes with humor, sometimes not. Read it!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Saga of the Missing Bear

Tonight is the Annual teddy bear Costume Party where I work. 16 or 17 years ago, I made HUGE teddy bear - 4 and 1/2 feet tall if the poor thing could stand up. Enormous. I store it in the attic in a small closet with my BIG leopard.
Well, this morning I mentioned the bear to the hubberoo. "I have to dress my bear up," I said. And he said, "The great big bear?" This is a logical question because I own several bears. I still have my first birthday present, a bear I eventually named Scotty, after the first boy I ever thought I loved. (I was 4 and he was 3.) And our son has given me a couple of bears as gifts - because I am a toy type of woman.
So off I went to do this and that and then I headed up to the attic. No bear! What? How could that be? I found myself sliding into a dazed sort of panic. Was it underneath something? Was it hidden somehow? No way! I mean, this is a colossal bear. "My bear!" I shrieked. "My bear is missing!" My chest tightened and tears flouded my eyes. All the while, my adult self was trying to calm me down. "You can dress up another bear," I said to my desperate child self. I looked in the back attic room. We had to have some plaster work done a couple of weeks ago. Maybe my brother - the plasterer - moved the bear out of harm's way. Nope. No bear there. Maybe my brother got plaster all over the bear and took it away to clean it. I had to call him and find out.
I raced downstairs and blurted in a wiggly voice, "My bear's Gooooone!" The tears started in earnest.
Hubberoo jumped up from the computer. "I brought him down for you! Oh dear, I'm so sorry. I thought you saw me."
And, there in the living room was my bear.
I sobbed into my husband's shoulder. "I thought he was gone. I feel so silly."
Hubby laughed a little and hugged me and said, "I ran right up to get him. I don't know how you missed it."
Well, I may have, powdering my nose. Or fussing in the kitchen. Our house is an L so it's possible to be on the same level and not be able to see what is happening somewhere else on that level.
No matter! The bear has been restored. He is in his toga and awaiting a laurel wreath to complete his outfit.
And I am a grown-up once again. I have my teddy bear (and a very nice husband). All is right with the world.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I finished "Cathy's Book: if found call..." by Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman. The book made a stir in the Young Adult publishing world because it includes pretty blatant product placement. It gave me a headache, librarian-wise, when it arrived because it contains an envelope with about 2 dozen pieces of paper - mock newspaper clippings, birth certificates, a napkin with a lipstick kiss and a phone number. Supposedly, readers can call all the numbers and they all lead to actual businesses and readers can visit the websites as well.
I thought the book was a fun read though certainly not literature with a capital "L". And the idea behind the product placement is sort of clever. Why not? YA advocates call this shamelessly capitalizing on teens and their propensity to buy stuff. Teens are going to buy stuff anyway, I say. And, yes, some teens are more susceptible to advertising than others. Newsflash here! So are some (a whole lot if you ask me) adults. Look at political situations, for instance. A lot of perfectly sane adults are swayed by persistent advertising. If it didn't work - advertising, that is - then it wouldn't be a mega-billion dollar business.
Now here's the secret. You can get through the whole book and fully understand what happened without punching in a single number or clicking on a single website. I pawed through the score of paper addenda and though intriguing in a lot of ways, they were just window dressing. SO, I will catalog said title and put it in the library and hope that everyone carefully puts the papers all back in the envelope.
Oh, you might want to know what the book is about. Well, Cathy wakes up after a date with her much older (she has NO idea how MUCH older) boyfriend to find a bruise inside her elbow - a spider bite, perhaps? Her recently widowed mother (which makes Cathy recently bereaved, too) is a nurse and is sure that the mark is a needle mark which ticks Cathy off. Cathy is a "Say No to Drugs" kind of girl. Then her boyfriend tells her to stay away from him and etc. and Cathy, who is still grieving from her father's sudden death, skips school and ignores the pleas of her best friend/biology partner to find out what happened to said boyfriend. And THEN one of boyfriends's female co-workers ends up murdered. Off we go, all around San Francisco, especially Chinatown, trying to figure out who Boyfriend is and whether he's Evil or merely Misunderstood. It's written as Cathy's journal and IMs and you're supposed to think she's still in danger, which leaves the way open for a sequel.
Stuff happens a little too fast and maybe the addenda does flesh things out. But you can get the picture without it. Logical? No. Fast-paced and fun for people who like this kind of thing? I enjoyed it. It made a couple of lunch breaks fly right by.
I'm reading the "Boy Book" by e. lockhart. (The lower case letters are on purpose.) I didn't read "The Boyfriend List" which precedes this one. You don't need to. lockhart does a good job of hinting at what happened. If you're intrigued, you'll read the first book, but she tells you enough to understand what's going on. Ruby Oliver has been a social outcast since the summer between sophomore and junior year at Tate Prep the expensive private school she attends on a scholarship. This book is how she deals with losing her friends - over a serious but not overwhelming social gaffe - and the love of her life, Jackson. Visits to her therapist are one way the plot moves along. Quotes from Ruby's "Boy Book" a guide to the opposite sex that she and her friends compiled since 8th grade make fun entries to each chapter. I don't know where Ruby will end up - not with Jackson, I hope. He's a shameless flirt. But, it's fun getting there.
Well, it looks like I might actually get to bed before midnight. So off I go.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

So soon? What's going on? Well, I had an interesting day. I attended the monthly meeting of the Pocono Lehigh Romance Writers , a fun group of women who write all kinds of romance, steamy, chaste, sweet, fantasy, historical - you name it - they write it. I'm working on an article for the little weekly I write for - about romance.
I'm not a huge romance reader, though I admit that I've picked up one or two at the urging of a friend. I thoroughly enjoyed Jude Deveraux's Knight in Shining Armor for instance and a young friend at work had me eagerly awaiting the next in a series of Christian romance/mysteries for awhile. I don't mind romance when its an element of a book. What fun would Irene Fowler's books be if Benni and Gabe didn't have their little tiffs and tussles? Well, actually, pretty much fun since her mysteries are well-written. OK! Look at Evanovich. Sometimes the main thing that keeps me going through a Stephanie Plum book is trying to guess which guy she's going to end up with -Morelli or Radar - and just what's going to happen between the two.
So, romance has its place. And a pretty big one if the stats compiled by the Romance Writers of America are true.

Romance aside, PLRW offered its members an excellent workshop by Colleen Warmingham, the founder of Space Inventors and a professional organizer. She led a workshop on inventing the "perfect" work area by asking us to decide what we hated about our work space and what we liked about it. Then she gave us ideas of ways to organize our space so that we can feel at home there, comfortable and capable of being productive. She had some supplies on hand to purchase if we wanted to. But she is one of only three professional organizers in America who can claim to be a Green Business. Check out her website for details. Her newsletter is well-written and has some thought-provoking ideas.
Best thing about the workshop? It was all about us - each individual was urged to find her own manner of organizing. Right now, mine is tossing stuff on the floor because I moved my trash can too far away. Gotta move it back!
Second best thing about the workshop? No insistence on buying a particular brand of organizing supplies. Me - I use old magazine file boxes that are being discarded by the library. Free and recyclable. I love it.

Back to romance. Read My Angelica by Carol Lynch Williams for a great funny teen romance. Sage is going to enter her High School's writing contest with her "romance" novel starring Angelica. George, her lifelong best friend, tries to stop her. He recognizes just how bad Sage's writing actually is. And George would do anything, anything, for Sage because he is in love with her. Sage's writing provides a lot of the humor. The way she misunderstands almost everything that George tells her provides the rest. There is a surprise ending. The book is studded with truly romantic poems by an anonymous poet and of course everyone lives happily ever after. Check it out of your library soon.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Movie Alert

Blood and Chocolate by Annette Klause is now a movie, coming out later this month. The story is about a teen werewolf (she-wolf) who falls in love with a human and has to decide between the human and her own pack. I read it when the book came out - a while back, as in several years - and enjoyed it. Check the book out sometime soon.
Neil Gaiman's book, Coraline, is also being made into a movie. What a creepy little book that is! A bored girl opens a locked door in her new home and enters an alternate universe with creepy fake parents and creepy fake friends and she is trapped there! Nothing overtly gross or awful, just creepy! No news on when the movie will come out. Neil is well known in the graphic novel and adult fantasy communities. Coraline was written for middle grade children, though.

Spiderwicke is for younger readers but there is a really cool website, The International Sprite League, dedicated to the magical creatures from that series. What the heck, something to fool around with.

That's it for now.