Wednesday, December 31, 2008

"Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" by Rachel Cohn and David Levithin was a surprise! Who would imagine that Tris could turn out to be a fairly cool character? Except for the kissing thing in the ladies' room - that was a little weird but edgy and I can see that readers younger than I might find it ...intriguing. Tris's reasoning behind breaking up with Nick made perfect mature sense and when a reader is set to hate a character it is delightful to find out that the character is multi-dimensional.

"The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan : an Enola Holmes mystery" by Nancy Springer was a worthy addition to this series. Those books are too short for me. In this installment, Enola rescues a young friend from a dastardly arranged marriage with a little help from her brother, Sherlock. Her other brother, Mycroft, is quite put out. Stay tuned. The next book is due out in the Spring of 2009.

I've discovered another medieval murder mystery series that I want to explore. "The Fool's Guild Mysteries" by Alan Gordon explores the lot of fools and jesters in the early 13th century, a time when such nonsense was frowned on by the Church. I read "The Moneylender of Toulouse", the most recent book in the series, and it was entertaining and educational. Gordon doesn't try to mimic the speech patterns of the time which is just as well since English as we know it didn't exist. And the book takes place in Toulouse where English in any form would be rare. So, at first, I found modern contractions and phrases to be disorienting but only for a short while. The characters are fully realized. The mystery had enough meat to it. What kept me going was the historical setting and how it influenced daily life and political practices. Now I must go backwards and read the earlier books.

Happy New Year everyone. I hope to be a more faithful blogger in 2009.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Just checking in. I realize that it has been almost two months since I've posted on this blog.

This blog is about what I've been reading and I have not been reading a lot lately SO I haven't had much to write about.

Graeme Base was here and charming as always. I think his fans were disappointed that he didn't do any sketches but he said, 'please, no'. I'm not hard to get along with.

Kim Chatel was here with her book Rainbow Sheep. She led a great wool felting workshop with 20 children and their parents. Our little meeting room was crammed! Kim does a great presentation.

We held a Fall Fest on Saturday, November 1st. And I forgot the dragon costume. So our dragon transformed himself into a vampire and the kids still had a great time. the weather was cloudy and warm and the leaves were absolutely beautiful.

I am busy with NaNoWriMo and to tell the truth, writing is almost as absorbing as reading. I am going to finish a stry I have been playing with for years. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Graeme Base, my favorite Australian author/illustrator, is returning to the Parkland Community Library on October 17th at 3:30 pm. That's a LOT of advance notice, I know. Expect to hear about this again - and again. Graeme is fabulously talented. His books are visually challenging and thought provoking. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of his latest, Enigma: a Magical Mystery. I hope it comes in soon.

So what else have I been reading? Well, not New Moon by Stephenie Meyer. It's not on the shelf here and there's a waiting list. This is a GOOD thing. I love it when a book or a series gets so popular it flies off the shelf.

I finished the latest Miss Julia, Miss Julia Strikes Back by Ann Ross. Miss Julia chases jewel thieves all the way to Miami, FL and she takes her late husband's son, "Little" Lloyd with her!! (His mother, Hazel Marie, won a trip to Mexico just at the same time that Miss Julia's new husband, Sam, took a long-awaited tour of Russia. What a coincidence!) Sometimes I worry about Miss Julia's judgment. At least, in this book she agrees that at 11, almost 12, Little Lloyd is not so little anymore. Without her lapses of judgment these books wouldn't be nearly as much fun. Miss Julia always manages to prevail over difficulties of ALL kinds. Drunken PIs, doubtful wardrobe choices and the unbearable heat of Southern Florida ruffle Miss Julia's feathers but she wins out over all. This book is for Mature audiences - not because of questionable content, though. It's just that us older readers can relate to Miss Julia and her particular struggles.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Teen Read Week Approaches - Oct. 12-18th, 2008
On the 14th - a Tuesday, at 7:30 pm, The Parkland Community Library will host a book discussion on Books with Bite. I MIGHT try to find a montage of vampire footage to display since vampires are so....[Insert word that means very, very popular here].

But Books with Bite don't HAVE to be about vampires. Any book that creates a stir, causes people to think differently about something, opens our eyes to a situation, opens a door in our souls, builds our world view and understanding - THAT book has bite, my friends. For some, that book could be Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. For others, it could be Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. Terry Pratchett's Making Money is a biting commentary on the financial world and a hoot, to boot.

So bring one of your favorite biting books to this book discussion and build a case for its biting-ness. I will prepare a booklist and email it to all participants.
Open House at the local High School (PHS) was an eye-opening experience. I'm surprised that the school district doesn't auction off hall space to area organizations. If you just want to expose a product to a captive audience, high school Open Houses are a great choice. (Many thanks to our high school's excellent librarian, Ms. Will, for inviting the Parkland Community Library to participate.)

For sure, the parents are not interested - AT ALL - in getting a new library card, or learning about drug intervention or heart disease. What they want to know is how to get to Room B125 or to the Cafeteria or where they can pay Class Dues.

Still, there you are - in their faces - as they dart back and forth, following a truncated version of their teen's daily schedule. Like hawkers in subway stations at rush hour, you can hand them a flyer or a bookmark and a few of those will make it home. A small percentage of the ones that make it home will actually be used.

An information table at a school Open House is a lot like a billboard on a highway. People see it. And if they pass it often enough, it sinks in.

Open Houses are NOT the place to sign people up for Fun Runs, library cards, or Scout Troops. An organization's presence at these events should be designed to just advertise that organization's mission and availability and to give people the information they need if they WANT to sign up for a Fun Run or a library card - all with the School Districts' blessings, of course.

Just some librarian-ish thoughts.

Friday, August 29, 2008

I just finished Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. In case you've been out of the solar system for the last three years, that's the first book in a very popular series of teen vampire/romance books. Good book, quick read, absorbing romance, great teen stuff.

STILL, I may just be too old to fully appreciate this book. Here's the thing. Bella is ostensibly a very selfless teen, giving up her life in Phoenix to live with her father in the rain forests of Washington State so her mother can be happy with her new husband. Right? And then there's that whole going to meet evil James so her mother won't be hurt thing. BUT she starts insisting that her boyfriend do something reprehensible to her. Because then they can be equal in their relationship - oooh , romantic.

He obviously doesn't want to do it. And he's the one who fully understands the consequences of the action. She insists. He has saved her life several times in this book and shown amazing restraint the whole time. He's willing to put his urges aside to be with her. She refuses to listen to him. He knows what she will suffer. But she's set on it. That's not selfless. That's immature and selfish. Listen, young lady. Pay attention to your elders and stop pouting.

What does he see in her anyway? Since the book is written from Bella's perspective, it really is hard to see what he sees in her.

Oh and Edward? Handsome, super-hero strength and speed, able to read minds in a blink, always there to save her - okay, that's romantic, I guess. But he's too good. It's Annoying

Like I said, I'm not sure I "get" it. Well, I might wait for the cliff notes to come out or for someone to do one of those novels in 10 second things for the other three books. Still, if you like that kind of thing, tortured vampires doing good in the northwest, this is a good read.
Today, I realized something. Books are the original "Second Life". When I am reading a good book, I am taken out of my own skin into the experiences of the character. I see vividly the landscape of that new land and I feel the emotions. A good author can bring me to tears, make me laugh out loud, have me squirming in my seat. A good story can do that without computer graphics and Linden dollars.

When I was younger, an appealing character and a good story never ended with the close of the book. My imagination took over and created new characters and scenarios over which I had total control. I even played games based on favorite books with my friends and siblings - real games with real dirt and real hazards and real fun. But these games were of our own making and they had little to do with our everyday real lives.

Think of Tom Sawyer playing Robin Hood in his long underwear in the woods around Hannibal, Missouri. Children have been playing with the people they meet in books as long as books that appeal to children have been around. I'm sure us older people create fantasies around our favorite characters though not as often as when we were young. It is hard to say goodbye to someone who has inhabited your brain for several hours.

Online worlds offer a chance to create your own story, be someone else for awhile. They have the element of chance that comes from interacting with characters over whom you have little control. There is the excitement of visual and aural stimulation and endless choices.

All that said, I prefer books. A quiet corner in the sunlight, a well-written paperback in my hand and I can enter a "second life" where everything is a surprise and all I have to do is let the story unfurl in my mind's eye.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


I made the coffee and put my oatmeal in the microwave and headed out the door. As I stepped onto the back porch I remembered that occasionally running the coffeemaker and the microwave at the same time has blown a fuse. This hasn't happened in over a year. Why I thought of it this morning, I have no idea. When I came back, the microwave and the coffeepot were both shut off and I had to reset the circuit they are on. Premonition? Telekinesis? Coincidence? I'm leaning toward coincidence but this isn't the first time this has happened. A random thought comes into my head - like the morning 22 years ago when I thought, as I climbed into my car to go to work, that our son would come home sick from camp. We got the call later that day. He had chicken pox! Anyone out there have a similar thing happen to them?
In my case, there's no strong emotion - no feeling of dread or certainty - just a random thought.

I have a strong premonition that the Words and Music concert on Friday night at Godfrey Daniels is going to be amazing. Buy your tickets NOW.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Next Friday, June 27th at 7 pm, the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild (including moi-meme, myself) will tell stories while the Druckenmillers play old time music. So cool. This is a fund-raiser to keep the LVSG afloat and to help us fund our Festival - a totally amazing event. Where is this amazing Words and Music concert? Godfrey Daniels, of course in South Bethlehem. Come join us and support the art of storytelling.

South Bethlehem is the happening place, actually, with Lehigh University looming on the mountainside and arts festivals - such as the Storytelling Festival and the Southside Film Festival - and arts venues like Godfreys and Touchstone Theatre. Oh, and a campus of Northampton Community College is on the Southside as well. Bethlehem, PA is an artsy place to live and work all the way around.

Summer Reading Club is mad crazy. I have no idea how many kids have signed up during the first two weeks but our small library is jammed packed every single day with a lull only around dinner time ( 4 to 6 pm). Thank heavens for our excellent teen volunteers. They make the whole program hum.

I managed to read Philip Reeve's books, Larklight and Starcross this past week. Reeve does a great job of imitating a 19th century narrator as he tells of a family's adventures in outer space. Yes, in Reeve's world, the British have developed space flight and have outposts throughout the solar system even though the year is only 1851. Writing with the scientific knowledge available in the mid-1800s, Reeve creates characters who can walk unaided on the moon and float indefinitely in the "aether". David Wyatt's detailed illustrations add to the wild stories. 11-year-old Art and his prim 15-year-old sister, Myrtle, battle alien species such as giant white spiders and mind-controlling hats. Charles Dickens meets Andre Norton in these exciting novels for middle grade readers.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

For the last several days, in between getting ready for Summer Reading Club and dealing with interruptions of interruptions, I have been looking into graduate school. I fought the urge to go back to school for years, nay, for decades. Suddenly, I not only want to get a Master's Degree, I want to get a Doctorate. Go figure.

Of course, I also want to publish a blockbuster book, win a huge pile of money, lose fifty pounds, and write a song that will become an iconic celebration of life and love - oh and master the accordion - and travel the world, particularly Japan and Ireland - and find a way to provide affordable health care to everyone. I'd like World Peace, too.

The last I checked, there were still only 24 hours in a day and I need 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night or I get very, very grouchy.

Now, if I wanted my graduate degree to be in something sensible - like Library and Information Sciences, for instance - I could start next January and by the time I hit my next big birthday ending in zero - I'd have a MLIS. But I want to get my doctorate in......ready?.....Folklore OR Storytelling. They have graduate programs in these subjects - in Australia and Britain. University of Texas offers a Graduate Certificate in Storytelling that can be part of an MLIS. University of PA offers a graduate course of study in Folklife and Folklore. I don't live anywhere near Texas and I can't afford U of P.

Maybe I should work on the blockbuster book and the iconic song instead. In the meantime, I'll practice the accordion. Lady of Spain here I come.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Well, I was home sick on Wednesday and I decided to read Randy Pausch's book, The Last Lecture.
(I linked to the actual lecture not to the book.) The book is NOT the last lecture. It is an expansion of the lecture. You can watch the lecture. And I am listening to it right now.

WARNING: Keep a box of tissues handy when you read this book because Randy is dying. At the same time, the book is pretty upbeat. Why is it that some people are blessed with boundless optimism and energy and the rest of us spend our free time playing Spider Solitaire?

Read it. Randy is still alive at this writing BUT he doesn't have long. Right now in the lecture he is playing footage of a group of students going on the "Vomit Comet" so he can experience weightlessness.

So cool.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Hilary McKay has completed her Casson family series with another book about the youngest member in the family, Rose - or Permanent Rose as she is sometimes called. Forever Rose chronicles Rose's difficulties in Class 6 with a particularly unpleasant teacher; the family woes of Indigo's friend, David; Eve 's (the Mom) bronchitis; a night in the Zoo; whatever happened to Caddy and her fabulous ex- fiance, Michael; and a stellar performance by Dad - all tied up very neatly on Christmas Day. The British surely love their Christmases.
Did I enjoy this book? Well, of course. But I am disappointed that Sarah, Saffy's best friend, did not get a book of her own. She is not technically a Casson but I'm not sure that should matter. She's there all the time!! And without her and her conveniently well-off and very flexible parents a lot of Casson adventures would not happen at all. Maybe I should email Ms. McKay and tell her what I think.
Still, I like the un-self-conscious mind set of 11 year old Rose. She just assumes that people see the world the way she does. And when they don't, their attitudes are unsolvable mysteries that she has no time to worry about. And Rose does worry about things. It's part of her job. She worries about her family and about starving children in Africa and making shoeboxes of gifts for poor people and her flawed and talented parents and David and her American friend, Tom, and...well, she has her hands full. Read the book. Fall in love with this quirky family again.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

We have incredible red tulips in front of our house and for several days my husband has urged me to pick some to take to my Mom. So today on my way into work I did. My Mom was playing doubles tennis. My Dad had a tennis court built one year when his men needed work. (As a building contractor, he bragged that his men were "laid off" only two weeks in 30 years. If he couldn't line up houses or churches or hospital additions to build, he just built onto our house.)

My Dad was up the hill in the living room, reading.

He said, "I get such joy watching them play. I wish I could be playing, but since I can't, I like to watch your mother play." He sighed. "But when I said that, G. said I shouldn't watch because it makes her nervous." Then he laughed.

We talked for awhile and I was suddenly struck by what a good-looking man my Dad is and I saw myself in the future living without him. Not a particularly happy thought but at that moment, I felt very, very lucky to have him as MY Dad even if I have to share him with 8 other people. We talked about my brother, Vincent's, book, "Happiness in Five Minutes a Day". We discussed another brother's work. He told me again, as he often does, that he is proud of ALL his children.

Then my Dad quoted Helen Keller. He may have been paraphrasing. He said, "The things of goodness and beauty in life cannot be touched or seen but only felt in your heart."

He turned it into a sermon, because that's what my Dad does, but what he quoted is true. And my Dad - and my Mom, too - have always been able to feel goodness and beauty in their hearts.

I am lucky in my parents. As Randy Pausch says about his own parents in his book, "The Last Lecture", I won the parent lottery. With my Dad, I haven't always been sure of that. This post makes him sound like a man of wisdom which he can be at times. So that's how I will let it stand.

Monday, April 14, 2008

There is a distinct disadvantage to reading Advance Readers' Copies or bound galleys, especially if the book is part of a series. I just finished Michael Scott's The Magician, book two of his Secrets of Nicholas Flamel series. This book is not due out until June, 2008. That means that there is even a longer wait for book three. And I WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!!!

Most of YOU will have to wait three months less than I do for Book 3. Is that fair?

Okay, here are things I like about this series: The character, Scathach - she's fascinating; the in depth look at the cities in which the story lines take place; the lightning lessons on ancient mythology; the action-packed plot lines; Machiavelli.

Here are things that could change: mentions of current brands and bands - in a fantasy, I find that jarring; some descriptions go on too long; Josh's ambiguity is predictable, even as it adds tension. And slow down a bit. I'd like the characters to have a little bit more time to develop in front of the reader. The twins are not as well drawn as the other characters, perhaps because they are millenia younger. But they are the crucial characters in the story. That said, this is a worthy addition to the fantasy genre.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

I never told you about the Wild Women Party or the Belly Dancing Workshop with Tahya!

Okay. Wild Women Party! Last Saturday, I joined s few dozen women and we painted our faces and made tiaras and did our nails and listened to me play the accordion and just did Women stuff and then Kathy Pierce told some great stories about women - folk tales and literary tales and some of her own tales. Kristin Pedemonti told about how she found her own wild self after suffocating if for years and then I told the story of my "Last Christmas at Home". My mom and dad were in the audience and my mom plays a part in that story.

Last night, Donna Bennet, one the LVSG members, told me my Mom as laughing her head off during my story - which was the desired effect, I might add. And I said, "My mom thinks her children are funny and talented", which is true. She does.

But I just thought about that and I remembered that a week or so ago, my Mom wondered out loud about where she went wrong as she and I commiserated about one of my siblings unhappinesses.

So explain this...When we do something wonderful, Mom is amazed and thrilled that any of her little darlings has grown to be so talented. That doesn't sound right. What I mean is - she is totally thrilled and she wonders how she could have given birth to such wonderful creatures. We, according to her, developed our talents on our own and through the grace of God. But when one of us muffs up, she wonders where she went wrong? Um, Mom if you helped us mess up, you helped make us wonderful. And if we can be wonderful on our own, we can make our own mistakes free of your influence - despite your influence either.

My Dad on the other hand beams like a proud Papa when we do something - with a look that says, "See what I did? Hmm? Good, right?" And we mess up, he's furious - as if we did it to insult him. Same thing, Dad. Maybe we are wonderful despite your influence and maybe our mistakes are all your fault...

So, I'm looking at this parent/child relationship. Personally, I like my mother's attitude a little better because she gives us credit for our accomplishments. I just don't like that she (or I or any other mother) blames herself for her grown children's foolshnesses. We have enough GUILT, Mom, okay?? We are the ones who make the stupid mistakes. etc., etc. yadayada...

Enough, really. I must admit. I love having my Mom in the audience when I perform. She expects to enjoy herself and I rarely disappoint. It's great to tell to an audience who loves me unconditionally. I am lucky to have such a great Mom.

As for the belly dancing - I love it. It's so much fun and Tahya was a great dancer. I bought her DVD so I can practice what I learned in private. Expect belly dancing stories in the future.
The Lehigh Valley Storytelling Festival 2008 is almost finished. This is the fifth festival and our fourth anniversary. (Our first festival was in 2004. Count on your fingers - '04, '05, '06, '07, '08 = 5) This year, the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild decided to do a week long festival - with the annual Girls Night Out/Women's Weekend leading off. Fran Yardley was the featured teller and she is an oasis of delightful calm in a tumultuous world. I missed her performance because I was performing as part of the Tellers-in-the-Schools at NCC.

Anyway, yesterday I spent the day with Odds Bodkin as he presented a workshop to teachers and librarians. WHOA!!!!! Talk about a talented teller/musician/educator/performer! He had us all mesmerized. His musical accompaniment is so apt.

His performance last night was soooooooo great! SO GREAT! It was a total immersion - sound effects - made by his very own voice - music - facial expressions - dramatic pauses, wind weather - you name it. WOW!!

Richard Marsh, a teller from Ireland, opened for Odds. Marsh's style is so different. He is a traditional teller. He simply tells the story in a mild and interesting manner but he concentrated on Irish mythology - all those Gaelic names and family connections. SO, two totally different storytelling styles for a complete storytelling experience. Yeah! And you missed it! Too bad.

Today, Hub and I bought new dishes. There is something so satisfying about putting a new set of matching dishes in the cupboard. The part about disposing of the old less satisfactory dishes is always a problem because I hate to throw anything out. I will move them to the attic and wait until the American Family Services lady calls. Maybe some young person just starting out - or someone looking for few spare pieces of that pattern - or an artist who specializes in recycling things - will snatch those old dishes up. One can hope.

Enough. I am finishing The Alchemyst by Michael Scott. I'll let you know what I think of it when I finish.

Tomorrow at Godfrey Daniels, from 11 am to around 1 pm, the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Festival offers a Sacred Stories event and invites participants to share stories that speak to the spirit. It's Free! Drop by.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The pages practically turned themselves once I got into Erec Rex by Kaza Kingsley. I wasn't sure I was in the mood for more fantasy. But after Erec and his new friend, Bethany, found themselves in a strange magical realm, the action rarely let up. Erec's search for his adoptive mother brought him to a strange new world where all the children his age, almost 13, were taking part in competitions to find the next three leaders.
The best way for Erec to hide who he really was - a "Loser" from the non-magical world -, was to pretend to be a competitor. The contests are a combination of skill and cleverness with coded messages and dangerous tasks. It is too easy to compare the book to Harry Potter but Kingsley includes a lot of the things that make Rowling's famous series so popular. Clever puzzles, action packed contests, adults who are not what they seem, children who make childish choices, lots of danger AND a new exciting and weird sport, Springball, that can be played by normal humans and magical humans alike.
There are already two books in the series and the next time I have a free hour or two, I am reading The Monsters of Otherness, book two in the Erec Rex series.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Just checking in. Hub and I went on a 12 night cruise and got back last weekend. Re-entry is HARD! After 12 mornings of leaving the room and coming back to a freshly made bed, never having to ask for a refill of water or coffee, fascinating food, beautiful scenery and the freedom to do NOTHING but watch the ocean, reality is AWFUL I think I understand why social hierarchies exist now. It is so nice to have someone do things FOR me. Since picking up after others is sort of debasing, social hierarchies ensure that the lucky few are served by the not so lucky many. The cruise ship staff is paid, although not nearly what they are worth. If they were paid what they are worth, we couldn't have afforded this cruise.
Well, I'm perfectly capable of making my own bed but it was nice to see how the other one percent lives.

I picked up a Brother Cadfael mystery in the ship's library. I know I have read every single Brother Cadfael mystery but I have reached the age where plots blur enough that re-reading a book is not a disappointment. Ellis Peters spins a great plot and includes just enough historical detail for the reader to understand the political intrigue that underlies her mysteries. Of course, Cadfael is too good to be true but we all need heroes.

I also read How to Be Bad, a collaboration of Lauren Myracle, e. lockhart, and Sarah Mlynowski. Three girls, two best friends and a new much richer interloper, go on a road trip to Miami from northern Florida. Each girl brings along her own peculiar problems. Jesse is dealing with her free-spirited mother's diagnosis of breast cancer. Vicks desperately misses her long time steady who is a freshman at a college in Miami. Mel is the new rich girl who feels like a cipher in her over achieving family and is adjusting to her move to Florida from Canada.
I am leery of collaborations but this worked well. Each author assumes the voice of one of the girls and the story is told alternately. The adolescent foolishnesses the girls get into are believable and so are the misunderstandings. lockhart and Myracle are authors I respect and I will have to read more of Mlynowski after reading this. BTW, the book isn't on sale until the beginning of May. Being a YS librarian has some perks.

I spent a lot of time planning for my story performance last Saturday at Bear Creek ski resort. And the performance went well. (Whew!) Hub and I went back to Bear Creek last night for a Dove Chocolate tasting, wine tasting and music event. My favorite accordionist, Alex Meixner, was playing the accordion that he hopes I will buy. HA! It's way too beautiful for a schlub player like me - plus it's pretty expensive, too. Alex was amazing as always and we all had a very tasty time.
Enough checking in, for me. Good night!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Anne of Green Gables is 100 years old! Is that possible? There is even a prequel to help us understand Anne's life before Marilla and Matthew brought her to Green Gables, titled "Before Green Gables" (imaginative, yes?). I guess this is the year to hit the red sand beaches of Prince Edward Island, too. The island is preparing for HUGE doings - lots of tourists sporting red braids and visiting Anne of Green Gables Land and Rainbow Valley. Read an Anne book to celebrate!

I just heard that someone I know and love is moving to Europe, leaving her husband behind. I sighed and said, "Well, that's the way the cookie crumbled." My friend laughed and pronounced and "And so shall the cookie never be re-assembled."
I had to have the last word. "Someone could use those crumbs in a new cookie recipe."

Finding new recipes is a way to deal with life. When something is not working, or when a situation disintegrates - using what happened to build on, to learn from, can create something better or at least as good.

Hmm, talking about using crumbs, there's bread pudding in the kitchen. I think I'll make some coffee. Later.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day! What a great day to curl up with a book you truly love! I decided this morning that I need to re-read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I noticed when I was reading that the teen girls in that book adopted affectations that teen girls still adopt - spelling their names differently, trying out new hair styles, being cliquish and developing fads. Human nature doesn't seem to change even though the way it expresses itself does.

How would Little Women read if it was set in modern times? What would the fad be that sends Amy into a tizzy? Their father could be in Iraq instead of the Civil Warar and Marmie would have to have an outside job. Hmmm... Suggestions anyone?

Romance is in the air and if it isn't everyone wishes it was. I'm not much of a romance reader but I do enjoy romance when it flavors the other books I read.

Everything Valentine's Day has posted a list of "Top" romantic reads. One of my favorites - one of the few "romances" I've ever read is NOT on that list. For pure escapism, read Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Devereaux.

Whether you have a sweetie or not, enjoy this day of LOOOVE. Smooch.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Bobby McFerrin came to Bethlehem on Sunday (Feb. 10, 2008) to lead a workshop with the combined Moravian College and Central Moravian Church Choirs. Then, although he told the newspaper he wasn't going to sing, he "conducted" those choirs in a concert on Sunday night - probably the coldest, windiest night of the winter.

But Foy Hall was nice and warm with McFerrin singing melodies to the harmonies he appeared to create on the spot for the choirs. He made the melodies up. He also sang harmony for a number of students and audience members. And he got the audience to sing. In short, he sang for an hour and a half. His voice is so cool. He looks like he is having the best of times, all the time.

The whole experience was SO MUCH FUN! I love music. In my next life, I am going to do music all the time. One of the first things I will do when I retire is to join a fun choir. I want to sing. I frequently want to sing but I have no voice right now because of the sinus thing I complained about. So I am very grateful for my accordion (and piano and guitar).

I noticed again that I am an active audience member. While 500 other people - or maybe it was a thousand. Foy Hall was full to the brim - sat still in their seats, I rocked, leaned forward, mouthed the harmonies - mostly the Bass part since that was the part Andrei was singing - tapped my feet and bopped up and down. I really do get into performances. I must control...Nah!

I was pleased to see that some of the choir members also bounced around as they sang and listened.

Well, I should practice my accordion before I go to bed. Good night.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Nancy Springer has a marvelous character in Enola Holmes, Sherlock Holmes' much younger sister. In The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets, Dr. Watson goes missing. Enola has to come up with a more clever disguise - one that her very observant older brothers would never suspect - so she decides to become beautiful. There is a subplot about Enola's mother, Eudoria Holmes, who disappears before the first book in this series ever begins and Enola's efforts to contact her. And the language of flowers, a woman's domain, features prominently in this mystery as well.

The books are well-written, true to the Victorian era in which they are set and quick reads. There are enough clues to keep the reader guessing and a number of coded messages to decipher. I am not good at deciphering so I am happy that Springer interprets the codes soon enough in the story.

Stephanie Meyer's last Twilight book, Breaking Dawn, will be on sale on August 2nd. That should give me time to read the first three in the series. I will have to take the paperbacks with me on vacation. I can't read everything!

I'm home with another sinus infection and it's snowing. Is there anything better than being home on a snowy day? Hmm, probably but I can't think of anything right now.

I have a very full storytelling schedule - for me - coming up. I tell stories at Godfrey Daniels on Sunday afternoon, Feb. 17th at 2 pm, and I tell at Bear Creek Ski Resort on Feb. 18th and March 8th both at 7 pm.

Then, during the Lehigh Valley Story Festival, I will tell at Girls' Night Out, March 29th, again at Godfrey's, sharing the stage with Kathy Pierce and - oh I forget, someone really good. And on April 1st, Larry Sceurman and I will tell tales of foolishness at Deja Brew, 10 W. 4th Street, in Bethlehem, PA. Alas, Deja Brew does not seem to have a website. Neither do I!

So, come out and hear stories and my wild accordion next weekend or sometime in March or April. Enough now. I'm supposed to be resting.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Happy New Year! I have actually read a couple of books in the last week. Touchstone by Laurie R. King is a departure from her Mary Russell and Kate Martinelli series. This book takes place in England in the 1920's and introduces some fascinating characters. Big, bluff, handsome FBI agent Harris Stuyvesant is looking for the man he thinks is responsible for terrorist attacks in the US. One of those attacks resulted in seriously wounding Stuyvesant's younger brother so the search is personal.
Aldous Carson is a shadowy man of great influence in British intelligence. He leads Harris to Bennett Gray, a shell shock victim whose wounds have left him sensitive to the emotions of the people around him - so sensitive that he has imprisoned himself in a remote corner of Cornwall.
There are stately homes, members of the landed gentry, labor disputes, the passions and foolishness of the age and all of this comes into play as Harris tries to entrap the man he is sure is responsible for bombs and mayhem. There is also romance. Read the book.

Then I read Barbara Delinsky's Family Tree. King and Delinsky are totally different writers. With King, I feel the need to pay attention to every word. Delinsky's writing is much easier on the reader. Dana and Hugh are expecting their first child and when she is born, her complexion and hair belie the genetic make-up of one of her upper-middle class white parents. Hugh's family can trace their tree back to the Mayflower (or something like that). Dana has never met her father. Hugh's family is incensed at the child's birth and accuse Dana of having an affair but a paternity test proves that Hugh is young Elizabeth's father. A search for Dana's father, the support of the women at Dana's grandmother's yarn shop, the damage this does to the young couple's relationship and the revelation of their family heritages make an absorbing and even uplifting read. I have never read Delisnky before but I will read her again.

I visited the home of a local author for a Victorian Christmas event this week. Jeanne Lefevre lives in a 19th century farmhouse and the house is a major character in her novel, Whispers from the Past. She told a group of us from the library about the history of her house and about her book and described what people would do at Christmas time when visiting with one another when the house was new. Her home was so beautifuly decorated, with everything placed with care. It was delightful.

Now back to work.