Sunday, February 22, 2009

I am in the series rut. Every book I have read in the past two months, (including the book I'm reading now), has been a book in a series.

I need some good stand alone titles to read. And I think it's time for me to woman-up and read the award winners for this year.

I'm not sure why that feels like a chore. I'm not sure why I shy away from books with "messages" or "literary value" these days. It is the way I feel though. So reading Philip Reeves' Victorian sci-fi romp, Mothstorm, is exactly what I want to be doing right now - and will be when this blog post is done.

Suggestions for non-series books that might not make me break out in hives will be gratefully accepted.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Who remembers The Baby-sitters' Club by Ann Martin. Four pre-teen girls - or was it three and THEN four and then five and then a guy and then they were teens - anyway, they ran a successful babysitting business and dealt with all kinds of dilemmas in a wholesome, addictive manner. The series eventually numbered in the hundreds with Special Editions and the Baby-Sitters' Little Sisters spin-off and another spin-off about the original four as teens.

Well, The Teashop Girls by Laura Schaefer may be the beginning of a new series for independent young teen girls. And this series includes recipes and beauty tips and lists. What is it about lists? Lists have become a new plot device, similar to "hand-written" journal entries at the beginning of chapters. I think "plot device" is not exactly the right term but I hope you know what I mean....ENOUGH.

Teashop Girls stars Annie Green, her best friends, Zoe and Genna, and her grandmother's teashop, The Steeping Leaf. Thirteen year old Annie gets a job as a barista at The Steeping Leaf just as her grandmother is about to lose the lease on the shop. Annie and her friends decide to save the shop but they only have six weeks and school and sports responsibilities that complicate things.

There are enough spats and a tiny bit of romantic tension to keep this light, fun novel moving. I'm looking forward to the next installment of the Teashop Girls, something I never said about the Baby-Sitters' Club. To be fair, I like tea better than babysitting and Ann Martin is an AWESOME author, whatever she's writing.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Yesterday, I bought SHOES!! For years, the shoe-loving side of me was untapped. I bought reasonable, sensible shoes. And I wore them to the point of collapse. I had a pair of black Born (run a dagger through the "o", please) slip-ons that I wore for over six years until the sole split right across the insole. I LOVED those shoes.

I know that I am insinuating that I bought killer heels or princess shoes, yesterday. I didn't. I'm still that earth-mama who needs her comfortable shoes but...I bought FOUR pairs of shoes all in one day. I am - all in and of myself - an economic stimulus package - at least for the shoe industry. I never buy more than one pair of shoes and the moths fly out of my wallet when I do. Yesterday was different.

Hub-man and I went shopping this morning, too. I bought some blouses with a gift card and then we visited the newly opened branch of The Christmas Tree Shops. I'm thinking that the dollar stores and surplus stores are going to have a run for their money now that the Christmas Tree Shops are in town.

Books, right, books...that's what this blog is all about. Books and stories. Well, there is a story of my inner shoe lust above. Now, books. I just read the most recent entry in the Inspector Ian Rutledge series by Charles Todd, A Matter of Justice. This is a character-driven series. The book opens with a secret crime and revenge planned for that crime. So right off, the reader knows who is behind the eventual murder. This makes Rutledge's search for answers frustrating because without knowing about the secret crime, the murder doesn't make any sense and in the aftermath of the Great War, investigators couldn't Google their victims or their suspects. Rutledge perseveres, pokes his nose in where it's not wanted, asks the inconvenient questions and figures it all out by the grisly end. The largest tension arises from wondering how long Rutledge can keep his shell-shock caused demon at bay. I love these books.

On March 1st, I will be telling stories at Godfrey Daniels again - with the accordion, of course. The program is part of Godfrey Daniels/Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild's Children's series and starts at 2 pm. Admission is charged. Kops 'n' Kids will be there handing out free books so the event is a BARGAIN, for sure. I hope to see you there.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Day off - that was yesterday and my clock is all messed up now. All day yesterday, I thought it was Saturday - just because I was off.

I got a new haircut, though. I went to Empire Beauty School for their 360 event. Students there have to solicit and complete a certain number of treatments, styles, haircuts and perms in a three week period. And their customers get those treatments, etc. FREE or at a very low price. Since my sister is a student there, I let her cut my hair and she did a FABULOUS job.

Do you live in the Lehigh Valley? There is one week left of this event. If you call, ask for a 360 student. Don't ask for a free treatment; ask for a 360 student. Do it now because Friday, Feb. 13th, 2009, is the last day.

I just spent two hours with the Winter Reading Club. Today was the Final Party. It's not quite over since there were families who could not attend. The party was fun. The Girl Scouts who planned it played games, read stories and led a craft. Kids and parents seemed to have a great time.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

St. Martin's Press has an online book club for fiction lovers. Every morning, members get a portion of a new book delivered to their inboxes. Every week, members get to sample a new title. If the reader likes the book, he or she heads off the the bookstore - OR preferably, the public library - and checks the book out.

I found a new author using this book club, Louise Penny. Her series about Inspector Armand Gamache of the Qubecois Surete has given me several days of reading pleasure. The first three books concern the inhabitants of a small town close to the Canadian/United States border. The small town, Three Pines, is delightfully portrayed and the people are so nice - except for the murderers - what's THAT all about? - that there's a touch of fantasy. Remember "Murder She Wrote"? Yeah, like that. Gamache lives in the city - and is called to this idyllic small town for first one murder and then another. In the latest book, A Rule Against Murder, Gamache is on vacation and finds himself immersed in yet more mayhem - of course.

I've read Still Life and Fatal Grace. There is a third book set in Three Pines before Gamache gets to take his vacation is the latest book.

Check out Read It First. You might find a book you have to read to the very end.

Last Saturday's storytelling event at the Charles Brown Ice House was pretty well- attended and a lot of fun. The photo above was taken of the crowd. I did not use the stage. I am standing in front of it all the way to the right. That set was made by Doug Roysden of Mock Turtle Marionettes for his field trip show. Cool, isn't it?

Tonight, I attended the Lehigh Valley Drum Circle's Community Drum Circle at the Allentown Dave Philips Music and Sound. I am a lousy drummer but who cares? There were over 50 people there of all ages, shapes, sizes, genders, colors. With that many drummers no one could hear me anyway. Drumming is a great stress reliever and I hope to make this a monthly event.
I sat next to a great little kid - about seven years old - maybe younger and across the circle was a family of five. If you live in the Lehigh Valley, this is a great way to spend the first Wednesday evening of the month.