Friday, December 29, 2006

Cybils Debate

It's done. Well, my part is anyway. After much sweat, gnashing of teeth, a few paper cuts and some persuasive argument my fine colleagues and I have narrowed our 80 YA Cybils nominations down to the shortlist of five.

So here's to Little Willow, Mindy, Sara and TadMack (and, as always, our administrator Jen who did not take part in discussion, but was there in spirit)! We had a blast. I can't tell you what we decided yet, the Cybils site will be the first to announce, but be sure to check one/both/all of us on Monday!

Don't forget that there are eight whole short lists that will be announced on Monday!

Also, a big thanks to the publishers and authors who sent us review copies - it really made our lives easier!

The Real Question? What the heck do we do now? (Answer forthcoming)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Well, I dig music, but some of that stuff is weird.

I was so caught up in Just Listen that when I finally got home from Anti-Turkey Day, I dropped my bags and picked up the book. Is it weird to have the audio in your car and the book in your home? Maybe. It's just lucky I did, otherwise I would have been wandering around the city trying to finish it. Or sitting in my garage slowly poisoning myself. But hey, it's Dessen. She's worth it, right?

Annabel Green has everything. At least that what the department store commercial she stars in indicates. In fact, her life is far from ideal. She doesn't want to model anymore, but is afraid to tell her mother that, her best friend thinks she's a witch with a capitol 'B', and her sister is sick - scary sick. She definitely doesn't want to start school this fall, cope with fact that creepy Owen is the only who acts like she's alive, or deal with adoring tween fans. What she really needs to face is much darker.

By the way? Love Owen. Interesting, cool, sweet and totally misunderstood. Or not. Shall I comment on the cover? No, wait, I
did that...

I've long maintained that Sarah Dessen is awesome. I like all of her books. That said, I don't feel the need to read all of her books because I know exactly what I'll be getting. An girl-oriented issue book of high quality. I know who I give the books to. It's a pity, really, that I feel this way, because I always feel so good after reading her. One day I'll go back and read the rest - it's just hard to justify when there are so many unknown books out there. Of course, I've read entirely too many Meg Cabot's, but Cabot is tends to be candy and Dessen is much more; Cabot's a throwaway and Dessen involves and entangles a reader. That's a good thing.

Cybils Tally: 28/80

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


I'm off to D.C. for a week. My plane leaves at 9 tomorrow morning, barring the freezing rain & snow the weather people keep yapping on about. Then, assuming there will be no delays, I've got half an hour to catch the connection. My regional manager gave me her good luck charm - here's hoping it works. If it doesn't, here's hoping I put enough books in my carry-on...

When I asked my brother where the nearest Wi-Fi hotspot was he said, "There's a McDonald's down the road." So... I don't know how much connectivity I'll have whilst away. I'll try for at least a couple instances.

In the interim, Happy Holidays! Or, if you don't care about that stuff - Happy Day Off Work!

<3 Jac

Monday, December 18, 2006

Yeah, the hair and the coat? Mistake.

Hmm... doesn't this look like some other covers this year? What's up with that? The 3/4 girl body in?

Hey look, for all of you who weren't counting, it's
books later! For all of you not paying attention, we're going to talk about high school popularity again!

Valerie Frankel's Fringe Girl can best be described as Meg Cabot meets Andrew Clements with a dash of Cecil Castellucci thrown in for spice.

Embracing my dorky librarian habits, I tend to look at the CIP (er, copyright page) of each book I read. The complete title of this, not found anywhere else, is Fringe Girl: The Revolution Starts Now, which you may not find interesting, but I do. um... wait... what's that it says on her t-shirt? crap. nevermind.

Revolution indeed. Much like the student in Frindle, Adora takes a social studies lesson to extremes and decides to mount a mutiny of the student downtrodden and reinstate the school's social hierarchy with kinder, gentler, more democratic leaders. With a few well-strategized hits, the popular crumble and Dora suddenly rules the school. Did I mention all this was homework?

I had some hesitations prior to reading this, but I can honestly say that, one month later, there are no foul tastes left in my mouth whatsoever. That doesn't sound enthusiastic enough. hmm... This was a solidly enjoyable book that while expounding upon a popular theme, did it in a fresh way that gave me nothing to complain about. It was fun. I laughed. I cared about the characters. I may not read the sequel (Fringe Girl In Love), but was very glad that this was brought to my attention. I will have no problem giving this title to teens, and will certainly put it before that other book. ;)

Cybils Tally (which, really, is so out-of-date it's almost pointless): 27/80

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Try Not to Laugh. Just Try. Book Group Round 4

Here we are, December 13. I know that you've been holding your breath since I teased you about this title last month. Tonight was our fourth adult book group. Six participants this time, down one (4 returns, 2 new), but it is December, and I KNEW I had chosen a book that wouldn't be terribly popular with the group. But, they did want me to push them, and I have wanted to read Christopher Moore's The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror since I saw it last year.

The reaction was mixed. I loved it. I don't think two pages went by without at least a snort. Several times I had to actually put the book down in order to laugh. It is, much as whomever said about me, irreverent. Therein lies both its appeal and its repugnancy. One loved it as much as I did, another liked it, two admitted to laughter but not necesarily enjoyment, one didn't read it, the last gave up when the zombies appeared.

Wait...Zombies? In a Christmas story?


I really can't put it better than the publisher, so here's what they have to say:
'Twas the night (okay, more like the week) before Christmas, and all through the tiny community of Pine Cove, California, people are busy buying, wrapping, packing, and generally getting into the holiday spirit.

But not everybody is feeling the joy. Little Joshua Barker is in desperate need of a holiday miracle. No, he's not on his deathbed; no, his dog hasn't run away from home. But Josh is sure that he saw Santa take a shovel to the head, and now the seven-year-old has only one prayer: Please, Santa, come back from the dead.

But hold on! There's an angel waiting in the wings. (Wings, get it?) It's none other than the Archangel Raziel come to Earth seeking a small child with a wish that needs granting. Unfortunately, our angel's not sporting the brightest halo in the bunch, and before you can say "Kris Kringle," he's botched his sacred mission and sent the residents of Pine Cove headlong into Christmas chaos, culminating in the most hilarious and horrifying holiday party the town has ever seen.

Move over, Charles Dickens -- it's Christopher Moore time.

And wait 'til you find out what the zombies want to do after they eat brains! (Seriously, Mom, you totally have to read this book - and that goes for the rest of you too!<3)

Read the first bit here.

(note: Irreverence is fine with me, I just hope I don't cross that line into rudeness. Do let me know if I do, and I'll rectify the situation. However, not wanting to be rude doesn't necessarily mean that I'm always going to be nice. There's little worse than a sycophant. No matter how much I love authors and what they do...I'm not sure I buy into that "if you've nothing nice to say, say nothing at all." I rather think that's a disservice to us all. I'm nothing, if not honest. Thank You, musing over.)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Wishing...for something else.

Something that continues to surprise me as I read the Cybils YA long list is the sheer amount of historical fiction. Now, if you are at all familiar with my reading habits, I have a great deal of affection for this genre. I have had, I think, since sixth grade when I read The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (this also sparked my love of kids-stuck-on-ships books, which has been well expounded here). Once thing that makes historical fiction wonderful is that the time period chosen is necessary to telling the story; the setting should have as much presence as the characters. Otherwise, why bother? Which is kind of the question I now want to ask Celia Rees.

It's the conventional coming-of-age story taking place largely over one summer, with the future events providing closure for that summer. Richard is 15 and his older summer pal is no longer kid enough to hang out with him, so Richard goes off on his own returning to an abandoned house that is now occupied. He becomes entwined with the bohemian family and enraptured with their daughter. Richard isn't treated very well, but he learns a lot.

The Wish House's primary action occurs in 1976 England, in flashbacks from 1982. With the exception of some punk-rock styles in '82 & perhaps the Bohemian er... lifestyle of the artistic Dalton family in '76, I don't feel the setting as a presence in the book. But this certainly raises the question of whether the setting needs to have a presence. What do you think?

Still like Rees's Pirates! best.

For those who need it: Definitely for older teens. At times very risque, lots of nudity, lots of sex & drug use.

Cybills tally: 26/80

Monday, December 11, 2006

This Is All, and it's a whole lot.

Is it just me, or is it terribly ironic that a book with 808 pages is called This Is All? Am I just stating the obvious again? *sigh*

I read it all. Every word. At times I hated it fiercely. I hated it most when it challenged the way we read books. For a period of 213 pages Aidan Chambers wanted the reader to first read the even numbered pages, then turn all the way back and read the odd numbered pages. It's very disarming and rather frustrating. By the time I became accustomed to the technique, when I finally stopped instinctively reading, the experiment was over and I had to remind myself to go back to normal. It took several pages. And you know what? It worked. I can look back however many weeks ago that I read it (yeah, as of this morning, I'm 16+ books behind in blogging) and recognize that it was an innovative way to separate two storylines in Cordelia's life that were intertwined in time. Had Chambers offered the events in chronological order the importance of the individual storylines would have been muddled.

This Is All is not for everyone. Obviously. It's Epic Realism. I don't know if that is an actual term, but I can't think of one that fits it better. Full title: This Is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn. Cordelia has kept a diary (or Pillow Book in the Japanese style) for several years. At 19 she has become pregnant and is going back to those old entries, editing them and fleshing them out with the goal of giving them to her daughter on her 16th birthday. Cordelia spares no event - hides nothing from her daughter, no matter the content.

When all was said and done, I was astounded by this piece. I'm not quite sure what to do with it; it doesn't easily fit into any list save for those for length. It was very good; the characters were amazing - every one of them were 3D (which, really, they better be at this length). Sometimes Cordelia did strange things that made me raise my eyebrow. However, there is really only one choice that makes me wonder. Something drastic needed to happen plot-wise for two of the characters to recognize what mattered in life (yadda, yadda). Without giving anything away, I wonder whether the event needed to be quite so dire. In a book that was generally the realistic everyday musings and events of a teenage girl, the sudden transition to a teen-in-peril type of book actually made it just a little less believable. In a different book, I wouldn't even think twice about it, but here, something else might have worked better. (But what do I know?)

If there is anything at all about this that intrigues you, I urge you to read this book. All of it. In all honestly, you can't accurately respond to part of the book without knowing the context of the entire book. By the time you get to the end you must reevaluate everything that came before. It will take time, but I think it's worth the work the reader has to put in. Plus, I'd love to discuss it.

While reading this title, I spoke with a coworker and she mentioned that she used to read War & Peace and Anna Karenina every holiday season. I made some comment about length and depression, but acknowledged that I hadn't actually read either (I'm a bit of a commitment-phobe). I told her about This Is All, then, unsurprisingly, found it on the shelf and gave it to her. I also gave her Speak, which, in my opinion, every ninth grader in the nation should read, as well as every adult who has any contact with teens. She commented that I must like books with disembodied eyes & leaves on the cover. I hadn't noticed. She took the books.

One last note: I've heard a lot of discussion this year about books marketed for teens that could well be as or more successful for adults. This might be one of them (others: Octavian Nothing & The Book Thief).

Cybils Tally: 25/80

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Without Spells

Having read most of Alice Hoffman's teen books, I was expecting more magical realism. I persisted with the erroneous thought that something magical was going to happen at any moment for far, far too long. This is a story of the Inquisition. The Spanish Inquisition. In Incantation, Estrella is confident of her family's 500-year heritage in their Spanish village, but when her neighbors are arrested for being Jewish, she begins to question all that she's held true.

There are some absolutely ghastly scenes in this book. It's set in 1500 during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella about 20 years after the Catholic Monarchs set out to maintain religious and political unity. They weren't exactly... nice about it. This comes through in the text in some very painful sections. On the less bloody side, my favorite scene was with her grandfather. He had discounted Estrella, and the revelation of her intelligence and the connection forged between them because of it was touching. As well as amusing.

Months ago Justine Larbalestier related on her blog Margo Lanagan's (Black Juice) list of forbidden words. I bring this up simply because dear Madam Hoffman brought to light a word that, if I were to have such a list, would top it. That word is "sneaked." Poor Estrella was sneaking an understandable, but surprising amount. The book is only 166 pages long!

"It was nearly sunrise when we sneaked..." p 82.
"We had sneaked out..." p 114.
"I sneaked in at the last moment..." p 125.
"We sneaked into the doctor's stable" p 161.

It's a perfectly fine word. I know that. It just grates fiercely in my head when up against Hoffman's otherwise succinct but elegant prose. Couldn't Estrella have tiptoed, slipped, or crept? It's me, not her, but it jarred me out of the story every time. And so, "sneaked" is on my forbidden word list. That hypothetical list.

My favorite of Hoffman's is still Green Angel, but I've yet to read the adult titles, although I'm set on doing one of them for the adult book group...

Cybils Tally: 24/80

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Big Sky, it is Montana, after all.

I don't think that there is enough fiction set during World War I. Especially not for teens. I've been hearing a lot about it lately because of NPR having fascinating interviews with the last of the WWI survivors (who are ranging in age from 106-115, holy cow!). Yes, I'm a dork. But you're reading this, so you can't be much better! *muwah*

Hattie's parents died when she was very young. Since then she's been bounced around from distant relative to distant relative. When the uncle she doesn't know she had dies and leaves her his claim in Eastern Montana, she sees an opportunity to create her own home, her own space for once. She's 16. It's 1918, there's a War, and a killer flu. She's got NO idea what's in store for her. It's not going to be easy, and that's putting it mildly.

It's definitely a teen book, but I see no reason why a smart 5th or 6th grader wouldn't enjoy it. I certainly would have. And yeah, I was one of those weirdo kids who looved her Ann Rinaldi (and hated those depressing death books - you so know which ones I'm talking about!).

I told my mom to read this book and think about putting in in her libraries, so if that isn't an endorsement, I don't know what is.

Cybils tally: 23/80

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Dude, it's like Communism.

You know what? I could have used an appendix, or author's note. Additional resources. SOMETHING, to give me more information about the era/setting. When does a person read about communist Poland in the late 70's? I wasn't around then. The book's audience certainly wasn't. You sucked me in Dandi Daley Mackall! Why didn't you give me mooooorrreee???!!

Er, sorry about that. Eva's professor father has dragged her from comfort in the States to the cold squalor of Communist Poland so he can aid the underground movement there. She's miserable, and she has no idea how dangerous her father's endeavor actually is. Or that she's about to be swept up in it, too...

I'd never heard of this before it was nominated for the Cybils. I really liked it. In the last few years there's been a handful of 'historical' novels set in the late 60's through the early 80's, most notably, I think, Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood. I think that this, Eva Underground, well, and I guess most historical fiction (except for the book 4 titles from now where I can't figure out quite why it was set in the 70's) serves a really important role in informing the next generation of what came before in a manner that makes it all come alive. Even if it's actually a pretty recent event. I think that everyone occasionally needs a reminder that places that aren't all that foreign to us, like Poland, went through a great deal of trial to get where they are. We shouldn't forget this stuff. And if we didn't know, we should. It's similar to the argument when Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet came out in '96. On one hand, it's pre-digested information. On the other, it very well could be the only exposure someone gets. And maybe it'll spark some investigation.

Intellectually I knew that Poland had been under communist rule. In reality, I didn't really know anything. That's why I would have loved it the author or publisher would have included something at the end. Yeah, I can look it up on my own, but you have a great book here, what do you think compliments it?

Anyway, if you are going to read a historical novel this year, well, you should probably read The Book Thief, but if you are going to read a second one, try this one. Or maybe the next one. I liked that one too. Heck. Read 'em all. ;)

Cybils tally: 22/80

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Boy Book

Conveniently having read E. Lockhart's The Boyfriend List, shortly before the Cybils began, I was ideally placed when the sequel The Boy Book was nominated. Ruby Oliver's angst was fresh in my mind, and I even survived the transition from the audio version I listened to for the first book to the print version for the second. It was actually kind of nice to see some of of the Ruby-isms spelled out; i.e. knowing that Ruby shortens to Roo rather than Rue, that "Agh" is actually "Ag".

While it was rather comfortable getting back to Roo's Seattle, I found myself, posting as I am, a full 10 books later, I needing a refresher to remember what was going on. Ruby's still in therapy, and she's beginning to chafe a bit about it. She's still not on speaking terms with most of her old group of friends, but she's made some new ones. She still pines away for that sleazeball Jackson, but she, like The Queen of Cool, has taken a job at the zoo. Will she finally find some peace within her own skin?

Having throughly refreshed my memory now, I remember that I liked this a lot. I think that Lockhart's really got that teen girl mind down. I'm no longer under twenty, but I still totally identify with Roo's issues and obsessions. I get wanting something you know isn't good for you, something you know in your mind you're better off without, but not quite being able to shove it out of you heart. It sucks, and Lockhart depicts it too well.

And she so totally leaves it open for a sequel!

Cybils Tally: 21/30

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Well, if it's what you want...

Here we are, four books later, dealing with popularity once again. I really think that Meg Cabot ought to slow down a bit. It seems like she's got a book coming out every other month. I have, historically, read most of these books, and have noticed a downturn in quality of late. They are usually ultimately satisfying in their predictable rom com ways, but the first half of the last several books have been very difficult to get into. They've been kinda whiny, and not terribly original (and the indignity I felt after reading Ready or Not and Princess In Training which were basically the same book with different endings? Yeah, let's not talk about that...). Oh, how I miss The Mediator...

Steph just knows that everything would be better if she were popular. When she finds a manual entitled How to be Popular, she thinks her moment has arrived. She will follow it's instructions to a T, and wonderful things will happen. She'll start a new life of popularity for the new school year and leave her old life of notoriety far behind. All her problems will be solved...

Telling kids to be themselves and not whomever everyone else wants them to be, or whomever society thinks they should be is a good message. I'm not denying it - it probably even merits repeating every now and again. So, I'm not real sure what my problem with this novel is. Other than there was not a single event that I didn't anticipate. There were no surprises, nothing that hasn't already happened a thousand times in a thousand other books. Am I jaded as an adult reader? Probably. Do kids appreciate the predictable? Yep. Does that make up for a lazy story? Not in my eyes. Sorry, Meg. I do still read your blog, though. You're a pretty funny lady. I'm just sick of your books. However, I am still going to read with the Avalon High Graphic Novels. I'm a glutton for punishment, I guess.

And guess what! In another nine books (yes, horribly behind in posting) we're going to talk about how popularity isn't all it's cracked up to be again! Wow!

Cybils tally: 20/80

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Enthusiasm or unhealthy obsession?

There are books and authors about which people obsess. Harry Potter, The Catcher in the Rye, Jane Austen. Sometimes these obsessions become physical manifestations. Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman is the second such concerning Austen's Pride & Prejudice for teens that I've read this year.

I didn't really want to like this one. I don't know why I didn't, but it won me over. I remember when it came out, entering my sphere of recognition right alongside First Impressions, and I said, "Well, I simply can't read both of them," and picked the one without the jumping girl. For reasons unclear to me, I want to put this one together with Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies). Like at Best Buy where you can get two DVDs for $20, plastic-wrapped together as if a person couldn't imagine a DVD library containing one without the other.

Anyway, Julie has loved Jane Austen for years. She finally got her bff to read Pride & Prejudice, and now Ashleigh has taken it over as her very own obsession - she even refuses to wear anything but skirts. Ashleigh decides that they must find their own Mr. Darcy & Mr. Bingley - by crashing the All Boy's School up the hill. Only Ashley just assumes that Julie would be happy with an insipid Mr. Bingley, and promptly falls for Julie's Darcy! Gasp! Drama! (actually, literally drama, they join a musical to be closer to the boys).

This is for a slightly older audience than First Impressions, but it is essentially your typical romantic comedy with some era obsession going on, but it was entirely fun. Yay! It's a first novel, so I'm interested to see what Shulman will right next.

Cybils tally: 19/80

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The elder Anne Hathaway

You know, I felt really bad for Anne Hathaway. I kept recalling that bit in Pride & Prejudice where Charlotte gets all pissed at Lizzie because Charlotte's chosen to marry that obnoxious pastor-cousin of the Bennetts, Mr. Collins, rather than continue as financial burden for her family. She chooses security over a dream. There's similarity there. All three women are independently minded, and while I can't speak for Charlotte, Anne and Lizzie don't wish to settle. Of course, Anne almost does before it is forced upon her in an entirely different manner. Lizzie's a fairy tale. Anne just gets the second best bed.

Seven years older, Anne has known Will his whole life. By the time of his adolescence, Anne respects Will's wit and intelligence - and he is infatuated with her. She dismisses the attention of the younger man, but she can't deny the friendship. Life is hard in the 16th century, and soon Anne finds that situations change. Fast.

I was kind of mesmerized by this book. The title tells you what is going to happen, but as a reader, you go truly through the emotional turmoil Anne experiences. As a history buff, you know that even when she does marry the guy, it isn't exactly ideal - hence the second best bed (though in all fairness, it could have just been more comfortable, or her fav or something, no one knows).

Also, I totally dig the cover. A far better cover than that other Shakespeare love book published this year. Will's way unattractive on that cover, and I like the ethereal quality of this one. The not quite touching hands says a lot. Of course, the other cover reveals a ton more about the plot.

Cybils tally: 18/80

The votes are in!

Cybils nominating is officially closed. I can't speak for any other category, but the YA section received 80 (!!) nominations. The 5 of us (Little Willow, Mindy, Sara, TadMack & myself) on the shortlist panel will be whittling the 80 down to 5 by the end of December. Each book has to be read by AT LEAST 2 panelists, with everyone aiming to read as many as possible. You can find the entire list by going to our fantastic moderator/organizer, Jen Robinson's Book Page. Seriously, that woman Rocks.

In light of this fabulous and lengthy list, I will now be including my tally at the end of each Cybil book read. You know, just for fun. All books I read, like or not, are always blogged (caveat: I don't generally blog books I don't finish. Or picture books.), so if you search the blog, or My LibraryThing, you'll find all the books I've written about, including prior this extravaganza. Eventually, I'll get around to tagging them. Won't that be exciting? heh. ;)

Monday, November 20, 2006


Ok, you've got until Tonight at Midnight EST to nominate your favorite 2006 titles - one in each category. What are you waiting for? It's YOUR award - speak up!

Sunday, November 19, 2006


There is something old-fashion about Alice in the Know. Before I read this book, I was sure that I hadn't read any of the Alice series. Once having started this one, I became convinced that at some point in my youth I must have read one of this series. It has been around since 1985, after all. At some point my librarian mother must have brought one home for me. It seemed so familiar.

From what I can tell, the Alice books are about a girl growing up; about character development. About an everygirl winding her way through everything. This time Alice is managing her way through the summer before her junior year. She gets a job, her brother gets shattered, a friend gets sick and Alice gets exactly what she wants, at a price.

I can see how this series is on the ALA 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books list. Phyllis Reynolds Naylor is incredibly frank about everything. From periods to drugs, from race to sex. She just talks about it in plain language; frankly. It's strangely rather refreshing. It's really got to piss people off. heh.

(And have you seen the next title? Dangerously Alice! And look at that cover! Totally Ominous! What is that girl up too!)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Yes, those are feet

Libby's bored. She's sick of pointless stunts that simply advertise her popularity. She's over the meaningless prattle of her friends. In a weak moment, she decides that maybe doing something completely out of character will enliven life, so she signs up for the zoo elective and finds herself with unpopular freaks. Whatever will The Queen of Cool do?

Well, she'll figure out that there are things that matter a whole lot more in life than partying and looking down at people, of course! This is a teen novel! You totally knew what was going to happen, but it was still great to watch the measured transformation. I felt all warm and cuddly by the end. Yay! Cecil Castellucci had a clear message, but she wasn't terribly didactic. Much stronger than the book of the same topic you'll see me blog four books from now. Any guesses for that title? ;)

I still want a sequel to Boy Proof, though.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Book Group, Round 3

Book Group has swelled to an impressive seven patrons with Esme Radj Codell's memoir, Educating Esme. My goal has always been to have between seven and 12 patrons, so I'm pretty happy. Five were returning.

Esme is a first year teacher in inner-city Chicago. She's dealing with abused and neglected kids, a less than ideal principal and she gives it her all. At times Esme is annoyingly superior, but I had so much respect for the good she accomplished with her students that I could overlook some of her attitude. I thought the book was funny, disturbing, and touching.

The book group, as one would expect, had a vast spectrum of feeling for her. One woman thought the lack of respect Esme showed for everyone appalling, and wouldn't have wanted Esme anywhere near her children. Several absolutely loved the book. One was more on the fence - she thought reading it was a chore, but that she'd probably want her kids in Esme's class. Most would have wanted their children to have an Esme. Either way, discussion went over an hour and I deem it a qualified success. I think next time I might even feed them.

Mostly, I can't wait until next month. Because my selection is rather, er, different, I think it will be a heated discussion. I'm sure that several of them will absolutely Hate the title. I will not deny that was one of my reasons for choosing it. Personally, I thought it hilarious. We'll have to wait until December 13 to find out how it goes!

Monday, November 13, 2006

And now for something completely different...

No idea what to do with this one. Not quite sure who to give it to. Think I might just have to wait until Vol. 2, or extensive discussion before I make up my mind about it.

As historical fiction, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation: Volume One: The Pox Party is so rich of language and detail that it actually drips the 18th Century. Octavian has been raised as a science experiment, experiencing a quality of life unusual for African-Americans in pre-revolution America. However, as war looms and connections with financial backers in England strain, Octavian begins to realize just how unusual his life really is - and how ignorance can be bliss.

It is clearly fantastically done and exquisitely researched, but I don't quite know where the audience is. I contemplate if the adult audience might just get more from the title. At the same time, I can totally see this being taught in high schools. It's frank, and it places the war in a context that, while I was aware of, I haven't seen in a fictional representation for teens. It was the Age of Enlightenment, the Age of Reason and the age of Revolution. Science was paramount to a fault, war got in the way. Octavian was in-between.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Well, it's a psychedelic cover...

I have never read Judy Blume's Forever. Hadn't even heard of it until I was well beyond the targeted audience. I know it's famous and all. It makes no difference, me revealing this fact, I'm just saying. In Tanya Lee Stone's A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl, Forever is armor.

A novel in poems told in the voice of three girls who are all scammed by the very same boy. Each girl is in a very different place in her life, and each girl values her individuality. It is however, how each reacts to the to him, that makes all the difference.

It's a quick, empowering read. And yeah, there's sex, so 14+

Saturday, November 11, 2006

You're Kidding, Right? Two Maths in a row? How is this happening?

I didn't do it on purpose. I swear it. I had no idea that Justina Chen Headley's Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies) was about a girl who goes to math camp. Really. Nor did I intentionally read it right after another math-oriented book. Total coincidence. I will say, however that despite hearing that Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies) was very good, I declined reading it for quite some time. Mostly because it the title irritated me. It recalled to me an old Avi book (Nothing But the Truth, gee, I wonder why) that I remember liking back when I was a teen. See, I was being loyal. But, really, what's in a name? A Rose is a Rose, and all that.

This is my third Asian-American experience novel this year. All have very strong female protagonists who struggle with previous generations' expectations/fears/prejudices. Each is extremely different than the last. This one is my favorite, and like An Abundance of Katherines, math was represented throughout the plot. This time in amusing proofs.

When Patty Ho gets a fortune revealing that she will marry a white boy (and have 3 children, no less!) her single Taiwanese mother packs her off to Stanford Math Camp, because really? Where else would she find a bunch of smart Asian boys (at least in her mother's mind)? Despite Patty's desperate need not to be an Asian stereotype, she can only hide her brilliance to a degree. She thrives, much to her surprise, at camp. When her mother shows up unexpectedly, Patty must face her heritage, her mother's past, and what she really wants in life.

This was sweet. Unbelievably well done. Engaging, humorous and realistic.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Um, Math?

When the topic came up a few months ago of literary crushes I didn't say anything. I read the lists and found them amusing, but I couldn't really create a list of 5(ish) authors for whom I would have a crush. However, I think it fair to say of all the authors out there today, Mr. John Green would most Definitely be on my list. And not just because he writes goodly - which he does. Rather, because his blog is freakin' hilarious.

I did something horrible to my back the day before I started An Abundance of Katherines. I wasn't moving well and little things caused lots of pain; I was being very careful. Despite my care, and despite my attempts otherwise, I laughed so hard during parts of this book that it hurt. It hurt a lot. But I couldn't do a darn thing about it. I was forced into an odd moan of a laugh, that while it didn't do much to alleviate my pain, it did most likely, express both rather contrary feelings.

Sweet, slightly obsessive Colin has just been dumped by the 19th girlfriend named Katherine. He's miserable and really just wants to moan on the floor in peace for a few days, but his buddy Hassan has other ideas. He wants to go on a road trip. In true short attention span fashion, between 9 and 12 hours latter, they reach Gutshot, Tennessee, where they remain for the rest of the book, meeting new people and reevaluating their perception of life and of themselves.

I do have a confession. I didn't make it through the appendix. I'm sure that Daniel Bliss is a magnificent fellow, but I'm a bit math-phobic, and while I honestly tried, it just freaked me out too much. My apologies. I'm sure that, had I been more math-inclined, I would have enjoyed his clever comments.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

That obnoxious girl from that other book

So I read The Year of Secret Assignments earlier this year, and, like everyone else, loved it. Needless to say, I was looking forward to Jaclyn Moriarty next installment. Enter The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie.

Back from her triumphant cameo with her own novel, we find Bindy Mackenzie struggling with a new required course called "Friendship and Development." It doesn't fit into her curriculum expectations, but despite her several letters to the Board of Ed, she decides to try her best and actually get her classmates to like her. It's no small feat as she's given her peers lists enumerating their similarities with rather unflattering animals.

There's something about Jaclyn Moriarty. I hesitate to make a broad statement, having read only two of her novels, but she has a remarkable ability to mask her novels true direction. My friend Cory and I discussed this, and here's how she summarized our thoughts:

...because she seems to be going on one direction and you're down with that, when it suddenly becomes something else. And not in a disappointing "Why did you ruin this good book" sort of way, but in an "I totally wasn't expecting that and I'm even more intrigued and this makes everything up until this point way better" kind of way.

Yep, that's about it. One of these days I'm going to get around to her other books. I really do enjoy this author tremendously.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Random Bits

It's no secret that I'm an NPR junky. Have been for years. It all started with those fun weekend shows - Whad'Ya Know, Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me, but most of all, above all others, This American Life. My Faaavvooorite. However, since my relocation, I have been in horrible withdrawl. NPR out here bites. I don't even seem to wake up to Scott Simon anymore, and that makes my heart hurt because I love him. But that's not the point - I never hear This American Life anymore, and really? That's like a law forbidding chocolate. Yes, I could buy it off of Audible, or try and find a convienient live streaming audio, but really? Those solutions aren't all that plausible. And now, to my ecstatic reception, This American Life is available as a Podcast. I listened to my first TAL podcast on Friday, and it made me feel warm and cozy. To make it even better? David Sedaris. Rock on. TAL really does make my life happier. YAY!

In other news, I swear to God, if I slice my hands open one more time in the near future, I might as well just cut them off. I now have, from various means, four cuts. Two on each hand, just to, you know, remain balanced. Oh, and that's not counting the one burn blister. Sigh.

Also, Go Vote.

Spies in Plaid

I must say. This cover is hilarious to me. That little smirk? It says: "I'm trying very hard to be smug, but really I'm dying of laughter inside, quick take this photo before I burst! Really, these spy headphones tickle!"

Ally Carter has here created the beginning of a series. I expected something along the lines of the Calypso Chronicles by Tyne O'Connell; light, fluffy, fun but tiring - i.e. bored with the concept after two books. I really don't think that is what we have here with the Gallagher Girls. Granted, only one has been published, , but I think that I'd Tell You I Love You, But The I'd Have to Kill You sets a sequence up for some serious character arc potential.

The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women. In many ways, it's exactly what it sounds like. And those girls are certainly exceptional. They are international spies in training. This is spy school, and it's been around for generations. But what happens when Cammie, with her super-secret life falls in love with a civilian? Oh yeah, and for a bit more fun? Cammie's mom is the headmistress. Mom can't find out about the boy, and the boy can't find out what's REALLY going on at the academy. It was a blast and I devoured it.

Apparently, at Carter's blog there will be a contest to decipher spy code, with the answer possibly relating to the Love You, Kill You sequel. It will be posted tomorrow, if you are into that kind of thing.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Read This Book

Call me a bad librarian or whatever, but I've never before read Nancy Werlin. I was vaguely aware of the name, but I wouldn't have been able to list off any titles or anything. Right. So then comes The Rules of Survival. I'm not sure that I can accurately describe my reactions to this book. It was fabulous. I didn't know quite what to expect, but it wasn't what I got. I tend not to look too closely at reviews or book summaries - just enough to tell me if I am interested. Sometimes that can just be a good cover. I rather think that I might have expected something on high school bullying. Well, there certainly was bullying. Just not so much in school.

This is a story about abuse. It's not pretty. It's not happy. And it's not the father.

It's absolutely fantastic. I was mesmerized by Matthew. By his strength, his flaws and his unfailing hope. This family was real. Matthew. His sisters, Emmy and Callie. His tragic and dangerous mother. Aunt Bobbie. Murdoch seemed almost too good to be true, but maybe not. Each distinct and with their own reactions.

I'm not really one of those readers who traditionally enjoys the "teen in peril." Not even when I was younger. Something bad, then something worse and all that; it generally seems so implausible. This isn't one of those. Well, ok, the teen is in peril. But really, it's not. I swear. I'll be watching for Werlin's next title.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Not Death, but Fate. Creepy.

First off I want to say that Meg Rosoff's How I Live Now was hands down my favorite title of 2004. Even before it got the Printz. So let's just say I was rather looking forward to Just In Case.

It's so very different from her previous novel. So much so that it's impressive. If you took the name off the cover I would never have guessed that it was the same writer. Of course, it's been about two years since I read How I live Now so this may just be a transitory impression.

David Case suddenly realizes that Fate is after him. It comes with the startling acknowledgement that he is mortal; that at any moment he could be snuffed out by any number of hostile and random events. He becomes paranoid and thinks that he can elude Fate by becoming someone other than himself - by becoming his own alter ego - Justin Case. Fate finds this very amusing. Fate decides to play with Justin. Poor Justin.

Rosoff had me completely in her grips. She didn't quite go where I expected, and this, as with How I Live Now will require some pondering and discussion. I'm not as sold on it as I was the first, but it was very interesting.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Cork in the Dam

This is it. The last book read prior to the deluge that is the Cybil Awards. Actually, in this case, I went with the audiobook. This was a serendipitous choice, as The Boy Book, the sequel to this, The Boyfriend List, has been nominated and I will be reading it sometime in the next 2 months. Which reminds me! Have YOU nominated your favorite 2006 titles yet? You should. Go here.

Meanwhile, I'll continue talking.

Ruby Oliver had a few panic attacks and now she has to see a shrink. This shrink had her make a list of all the boys she's ever dated or thought about dating. Of course, putting something like that in print? Not a great idea. But what messed her up so much that she had to go to a psychiatrist in the first place?

I totally get this book. Ruby is in love with Jackson. Jackson is a slimy jerk, but Ruby doesn't realize it. When Jackson dumps her and starts dating her best friend... she can't quite move on. This isn't the greatest book to read if you want to feel great about men, but I completely understand everything Ruby goes through. She makes some bad decisions, but nothing earth-shaking. She is the voice of every teen girl when it comes to boys. I hope things get better for her in The Boy Book.

One thing: It may have been because I was listening to it rather than reading it, but there was some SERIOUSLY crazy chronology here, but the message got across, so it couldn't have been too bad. Wait. Make it two things: The parents, at times, were caricatures. Maybe it was just how the actress performed their lines, but I don't think so. girls, 12+

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Hey Look! It's Queen Elizabeth I! In a comic!

As has been stated previously in this blog, I enjoy graphic novels, but when it comes to being well-versed in character history... I'm just not. Really, my knowledge is almost (but not entirely, thank you very much) limited to the movie versions. Sorry. In all fairness, I do tend to see quite a lot of those movies...though I think I can safely say I have no intention of seeing Ghost Rider. So, when I step into something as elaborate and meticulous (well, I think) as Gaiman's re-imagined Marvel 1602 I think that I would get a great deal more out of it were I the type of reader who possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of the extensive Marvel Universe, or even if I were obsessive enough to go to the fantastic character database. Which I'm not. But hey, maybe you are. I won't judge. Promise.

For instance, I truly have no idea who some of the characters in this actually are. However, other the obvious ones, I think I caught on to most of them by the end. There were two characters in particular whose more familiar personas' were especially amusing with their reveal at the end. Surprisingly, though I don't know why, the character commonly known today as Daredevil was the most engaging in this compilation. I now think that Mr. Fantastic is a total dork. Mostly because his constant stretching about was annoying. I don't know if he does that normally, if he was just showing off (or the artist was) or if he just has trouble holding a standard form.

However, none of this is relevant. The basic premise is: What would the world look like if super powers began to appear 400 years ago? How does it happen and how does the world cope? The answer: Not terribly well, but it really does get nicely folded into the actual historical events of the beginning of James I's reign in England and the later years of the Spanish Inquisition (which, I'm totally ashamed to admit I didn't realize until I just looked it up lasted for the better part of 400 years. Must read Incantation to reconcile my failure. Good thing it's conveniently on the Cybil's YA list!).

My only quibble? The end was, um, confusing? I'm still not quite sure what happened. I should probably go back and re-read, but that's so not going to happen. I think that there were several different endings. Some possibly occurring in alternate realities. Or not. Really, I did read it. Sigh. Oh well. I'll convince myself of some happy ending that is completely contrary to what actually happened. That's not to say whatever did happen wasn't happy. Oh dear. Well, read it if you want to. I might have just lost interest when Matthew Murdoch left the picture. ;)

Monday, October 23, 2006


I LOVE Ella Enchanted. I've read it, I think, three times, and we all know that rereading is quite the luxury. I rarely do it. So Naturally, upon hearing that Fairest was set in the world of Ella, well, I was pretty excited.

First I would like to point out the similarities between the covers (well, and the stories themselves being alt-fairy tales perhaps, as well...) of this book and of Bella at Midnight. Some of it may be in my head, but you've got a girl's face, you've got an ornate object of importance to the story, and you've got this brocade-like thing going on with the dress here and the cover pattern there. Notice how one is far better executed than the other. That's all. Just pointing it out.

Poor Aza was adopted. While she loves her family she doesn't feel like she fits in at all because everyone tells her that she is, well, quite ugly. The only time Aza feels comfortable is when she sings. No one has a better voice than Aza. The problem is that the image-obsessed Ayortha rarely see past her looks. When Aza ends up at the castle to witness the King's marriage she can no longer hide in her parents' inn.

There's something about a good fairy tale. Hours before I began this book I was talking to Gwendolyn about the fact that there hadn't been a good romantic comedy in the theaters in ages. While Fairest has elements of the classic rom-com, what with the miscommunication, etc., it really doesn't fall into that category. Fairy-tales, at least for me, hit that same button. Let's call it the happily-ever-after button. It just makes me feel good. I like that. I don't have any criticisms. This book made me happy. I can't really ask for any more than that, can I?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Death by Giant Worm... huh.

On LibraryThing, my Scott Westerfeld tag has gotten awfully large. The Last Days just made it bigger, and finally, to my relief, it's bigger than the Meg Cabot tag. (Now remember, these are just the books that I've read this year.) I don't know why it bothers me that Cabot was the biggest for a while. I must want my love/hate Cabot emotions to be of the closet variety.

Anyway, The Last Days is the sequel/companion to one of my favorites from last year, Peeps. Now, if you read the Voya review you may think it one of the worst published books this year. I however, think the reviewer was unduly harsh. No, it wasn't Peeps, and yes, once in awhile I had to remind myself which character's chapter I was in, but it was compelling, interesting, and I enjoyed the characters. While I missed Cal, it was gratifying to have a conclusion to the two stories.

Picking up where Westerfeld left Cal and Lace, we meet 5 new voices who, despite the fact that NYC is clearly in a downward spiral slowly being taken over by piles of garbage, hordes of rats and totally creepy giant worms, just want to form a band, play music and get famous. They mostly ignore the state of the world in their teenage self-absorption, with just the occasional but revealing asides. I think that this is one of the highlights of what Westerfeld did in this book. He allowed the teens to try to go on with their normal lives until they had no choice but to admit that normal was no longer an option. Even then, they fit Armageddon into their own agenda. I enjoyed it.

It does bring up something I've been wondering about sequels for some time now. We always say that sequels are rarely as good as the first. Is that really the case though? How much of our perception of the second novel is because we are already acquainted with that world - because it's no longer novel and fresh? For instance, would I still like the first Pirates movie more than the second had I seen them in reverse order? When it comes to fantasy/sci-fi novels, can we truly expect to be as wowed with a fantastical world we are already familiar with? What do you all think?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

No longer any excuse for complaining!

Due to a bout of ambitious insanity, I volunteered and was appointed to the Nominating Committee of the inaugeral Cybil Awards for YA Fiction. The way that it works is that anyone can head over to the Cybils website and nominate their favorite 2006 book in each category. Upon the Nov. 20 deadline, myself and four other enthusiastic lunatics will argue (most amiably, I hope) amongst ourselves until the list is whittled down to five books. We will then turn those five titles over to the judging committee, who will pick the 2006 winner.

Check out the full Rules, think real hard, and head over to the Cybils and enter your favorite book!*

The Following is taken from Jen Robinson's Book Page -
Nominating Committee: These brave souls will narrow down the anticipated many nominations to FIVE.

Jackie (interactivereader)
Little Willow (Bildungsroman)
Mindy (
Sara (Sara's Hold Shelf)
TadMack (Finding Wonderland and Readers' Rants)

Judging Committee: These dedicated readers will read the five nominations, and select the winner, over a relatively short time period in January.

Leila (bookshelves of doom)
Liz (A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy)
Nancy (Journey Woman)
Patty (It's All About the Book)
Tasha (Kids Lit)

*Do read the other nominees - if for instance The Book Thief and An Abundance of Katherines have already been nominated (which they have) pick your other favorite book of the year.

Blood, and Guts and Gore! Surprisingly not a bad thing. Well, as long as it stays in the book...

Wow, is there ever a lot of Testosterone in this book!

I can honestly say that I've never read a historical novel set in medieval Denmark. Or any of those Nordic/Scandinavian/Viking lands. At least not from the point of view of the Vikings or without fantasy elements. Bloody folk, they were. The closest I think I've gotten is The Archer's Tale by Cornwell. (That book sent me on a Cornwell binge until I read the sequel which tempered my passion).

I wasn't at all convinced that this was going to be worth my time for a good 100 pages. Some of the language seemed forced and it was getting on my nerves. After that relaxed and straightened out, I just wanted to blow off work and read until I finished. Instead, thinking that would be frowned upon, I merely stayed up to 3 am. I finished the book, but only got about 3 hours of sleep. Sigh. It was totally worth it.

Halfdan is a slave. More specifically, he is the illegitimate son of a powerful chieftain, whom, while not married to his mother (also a slave) is in love with her. With this little ounce of power and the luck of fate, his mother makes a bargain that grants Halfdan his freedom, makes him nobility, and gives him tons of guilt, ethical conflicts, and a very nasty enemy.

I'm so reading the sequel.

Without letting anything go (because it really is worth the read), I applaud Judson Roberts in how he set up the next book. Most people I think would have skipped right from the funeral pyre to what Roberts has made into the second book. This was better. I was glued to it.

And yes, I will reluctantly admit that it was totally the cover that got me to pick this one up. I was halfway through the book before I even realized that it, in fact, said Viking Warrior on the cover, not Young Warrior, as my brain would have had me believe.

If you are one of those curious people who get distracted by articles in the encyclopedia, or just want to know more about those bloody Vikings, The Stongbow Saga is an informational site on the subject. Cool.

Definitely give this to fans of The Ranger's Apprentice (then maybe throw The Archer's Tale at them). 14+ what with the violence, though a desensitized 12 yr. old would love it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

It's Less of a Riddle when you Know the Answer. Kinda.

The Riddle is Alison Croggon's follow-up to last year's The Naming. I find this series fascinating, in a non-traditionally fascinating way. It's taken no little musing for me to figure out why I feel this way. Ultimately, I've decided that it's because no matter how fantastical or monumental the happenings in the book are, it's handled in such a way that not only is it entirely believable, I start trying to fit the fantastic into my world. Which is weird. Even when you think nothing is happening, something is. It's just emotional or psychological. It's quiet. It's subtle. It's gripping. I literally can't put it down. I'm not quite sure how Croggon does it. I dig fantasy, but I don't normally go for the Epic stuff. For instance, I still haven't read any Robert Jordan. Which is apparently some sort of dire sin judging by the gasps I always hear when I admit to that. But jeez, I can't commit to that! And how boring would it be for all you who read this? (that's just a bad excuse I'm banking on to get me out of reading that series for a couple more years...)

You've got your typical orphan, Maerad, born with extraordinary power and destined to save the world from evil. There's one of those prophecies, which naturally leads to the quest we began in the first book. Now Maerad and her mentor have been ruled outlaws, which makes their quest just that much more difficult. Which is just what they need on top of the Storm Dogs, Abominable Snow-Creatures, and that normal teen girl surly-ness.

It's pretty much the standard epic fantasy plot. In fact, it sounds rather ordinary when I break it down like that. There are some rather predictable elements, but it's the journey, right?

Read it when warm, as there is a whole lot of snow and cold. Word of advise - don't get too attached to anyone; Croggon seems to think that killing off everyone Maerad loves makes her stronger.

Monday, October 16, 2006


I have this feeling that everyone and their grandmother has read this by now and loved it, but here I am, talking about it anyway. Dairy Queen was up for a Quill award against Eldest, Book Thief, Elsewhere (prior to blog), and King Dork. Eldest won, probably because of the public voting portion. Having, coincidentally (well, Dairy Queen got pushed up b/c of the nomination), read all of them, I was pulling for Book Thief.

But this is about Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (can I say that I love that name? It has a nice ring...). D.J. isn't big on communication. She flunked English and she barely talks to anyone - especially not about her father's injury, how much she misses her older football star brothers or how tough it is running a family farm all by herself. Not only is she burying her thoughts, she's sacrificing her own interests for the farm. Then she starts training the opposing team's quarterback and figures out exactly what she wants - to play football.

This was great fun. A little predictable, but the characters were excellent. D.J. had a very distinct voice and everyone was well filled out. I won't forget these people soon; they all seemed so real. Very Good.

Incidentals: Other Quill nominees/winners I've read: Julie & Julia, John, Paul, George & Ben, which I loved, but did not include in the blog, and A Breath of Snow and Ashes (yes, I love me some Gabaldon - read prior to blog).

Friday, October 13, 2006

Luv. Twuu Luv...

It's no secret that I think Runaways are the BEST graphic novels out there. These two did not let me down. Seriously, if you haven't read this series - do it. I can't believe that I waited this long to read these last two.

Ok, so the major initial arc was all tied up (...was it?) in the big, glossy, pretty Vol. 1 compilation, and now we have the manga-sized poorly-bound, but who cares 'cause, yay! there's more, stories! The big challenge here was whether Brian K. Vaughn could start a whole new, equally compelling storyline. Yeah. He could.

Our heros have again run away. This time not from their nefarious out-of-the-picture supervillian parents, but from the foster care Captain America left them at the end of the last. They have taken it upon themselves to battle the encroaching criminals (mutant and otherwise) taking advantage of the vacuum left by the absence of The Pride (the evil parents for those of you who STILL aren't in the loop. And yes, I'm nagging). Getting in their way are some former teen superheros who want the kids to have the childhood they scorned. I'm not versed enough in the Marvel Universe to know about these new guys, but I'm guessing that they've back stories somewhere else. Anyway, they are fairly inept (to comic results) when it comes to catching our wily teens, but the well-meaning bunglers (who call themselves Excelsior) have a mysterious benefactor... Not only do the runaways have to constantly elude Excelsior, in a shocking event Gert appears from the future with a dire message...and that's Volume 4: True Believers.

Volume 5: Escape to New York. The slightly disturbing superhero Cloak (whom we've met before) calls on the Runaways to help him out back in NYC. He's been framed for the assault of his partner Dagger (get it?). All the superheros are out to track him down, and that makes proving his innocence difficult. He hopes the kids will be able to maneuver unseen. Cameos by Wolverine, Iron Man (who will apparently be played by Robert Downing, Jr. in the Iron Man movie, which I guess is old news I knew nothing about. But then, I've never heard of Iron Man, so...), Captain America (is it just me, or is CA rather annoying? We learned in the last volume that he has bad breath.) and best of all, Spider-Man. Very fun! There was a guest artist for the first two eps. of this volume. I didn't have any problem recognizing anything, but there was definately a change in feel for me. The edge rather came off; I think that some of what makes this series unique disappeared. But it's probably just me.

Marvel says that Vol. 6: Parental Guidance will be "in stores" on the 25th, but I don't see it on Amazon, B&N or iPage, so here's hoping. Maybe I should just start getting a hold of the actual comics...especially since the future brings Joss, remember?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Double Feature

Right. So I'm being lazy (*hack, sniffle, pops another cough drop*). I'm SEVEN books behind in posting. So I thought I'd combine the ones that go together. I did read them back-to-back after all. And my LibraryThing totally needed more Westerfeld (Just like it needs more Cabot. Or not at all. Incidentally, I just heard a co-worker say "Cabot" as "Cab-o," with a French pronunciation. I know it was wrong of me, but I did laugh. And then I corrected. Yes, insufferable is me.)

I'm sure you are all aware of my Westerfeld love. I keep waiting for him to live up to the love-inspiring Peeps, but alas. I did enjoy Uglies, but, in my opinion, and it does pain me to say it, the trilogy did not get better as it went along. I'm not quite sure why I feel this way. I know for certain, the thing that bothered me most of all in Specials was the fact that Tally, after all of the extraordinary feats and attributes of the first two books, became horrible whiny and unlikable in the third. She had brain damage, whatever, it totally got old. Probably because it was all from her lobotomized point of view.

Pretties was good though. Not as exhilarating as the first, nor was the romance as convincing (and WOW did I miss David - he's rather like the Cullen factor in Meyer's books. He adds a sparkle, and in this case, a weight of authority or authenticity or something that just makes the whole situation more believable & urgent.)

I'll always have his blog...He's consistently clever on that...And it's not like I've given up on SW or anything, after all, I'm reading Last Days right now...

PS- for those of you who tried to go to the Funny Farm two posts ago, try again. In my germ-infested haze I was incapable of the most basic of HTML coding. Terribly Sorry...

Enough with the ellipses already!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Doctor #10 and Daisies

While I shall miss Christopher Eccleston dearly, Doctor #10 (David Tennant) won me over with this lovely line:

"You want weapons? We're in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world! This room's the greatest arsenal we could have - arm yourselves!"

There couldn't have been a better introduction (I missed the first two episodes).

Goodbye Buffy Quote! Hel-lo Doctor! (We're speaking of my email sig, of course).

Oh, and I'm feeling much better now. Still attached to a box of tissues, but no long feeling dizzy. Definate plus. I can now function as a germy member of society. My apartment has begun to look like Meg Ryan's apartment in You've Got Mail when Tom Hanks brought her daisies to cheer her up when she had a wicked cold. Total disarray. Now, if I could only find some lovely chap to bring me daisies...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


*cough cough*

This is me. Sick in bed. I should be sleeping. But I'm not. I can't seem to manage it. Instead, I'm watching Doctor Who (I so love Christopher Eccleston, I don't know how I'll deal with the new guy.) on DVD and writing this. Which shall be brief. I began to feel guilty about not having posted in a while.

Meanwhile, to assuage my guilt, here's the new obsession: Funny Farm. Have fun!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

New Moon

The difference between New Moon and Twilight? This time I recognized as I was reading that it was melodrama. This doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it, but it didn't erase everything else in the world to me as the last one did. I really liked Jacob, and I'm glad we got to see more of him, but I was irritated with Bella for not realizing more quickly that vamps aren't the only scary beastie out there. I, in my audience omnipotence, saw it coming in the first book, so it was rather painful waiting through half this book before she figured it out. I mean, hello? It just isn't logical that there would only be one mythical creature that turns out to be real, you know, once one gets past the logic of any existing. Seems like it would be something I would have asked Edward about sometime in the first months of the relationship. But hey, that's me.

And, I really missed the Cullens. There's a sparkle there (and I'm not talking about their skin) that makes the book...I'm still, nevertheless, dying to see what happens next. I want to discuss the ending, but hesitate to give any spoilers. harrumph.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Classic Reference

I stole these from Diane C, a fabulous (I think that I'm beginning to use that word too much...) colleague of mine. They are her favorite reference questions from kids:

Girl looking for the birth date of the Mother of God. Father standing around in an entirely useless manner. I wonder what wires got crossed...

Boy looking for the Gestational period for Dragons! Diane tried very hard to explain that it really depended on the author...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Book Group, episode 2

Weight of Water by Anita Shreve. Not really something I'd normally choose to read, but my first choice for Book Group got turned down by the overlords, as they have their own designs on that title, so I had to choose quickly. I didn't really enjoy it. Most of the characters were unlikeable, which, ok, whatever, you can't like everyone. The time shifts were jarring and came without warning. I can make an argument saying real life is never as structured as a novel; suddenly displacing a reader better mimics how certain things in life trigger memories and thoughts regardless of what is really going on around you. But what really bugged me about the novel? It was cold. Not just because the setting was stark, although that didn't help. But our narrator was of the "Just the facts, ma'am" philosophy, and the book tended to read like dry non-fiction. I wasn't emotionally invested. At all.

The book group (3 new people this time! yay!), pointed out something I hadn't realized. Our primary narrator, Jean, never talks much about herself; her past; her emotions. I was so irritated with the obvious distance she created between herself and the story that it didn't even occur to me that we really knew next to nothing about her. While I know that Shreve has a very loyal following, I'll only give this book to those who enjoy a good depressing read. Myself? I don't think I need to read anymore Shreve.

Jean, a photojournalist, is sent to cover a scandalous double ax-murder that happened in 1873 on a remote rock off the coast of Maine. She brings along her family and as she delves deeper into the murder she begins to see parallels between the past and the present, with equally disastrous consequences.

The ladies, while not overcome with love for the title, did seem to be glad to have read it. And they said they'd come back for the next one, so, really, I can't ask for more, can I? =D

Small Boulders Work Too

The Wisdom of Kristy B:

"We shouldn't date boys, we should throw rocks at them."

Yeah, that pretty much says it all.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

This is me, not so much with the talking.

I realize that I'm among the last in the blogosphere to read this book, so I'll keep my comments to a minimum. Actually, I don't feel like any comments. It can speak for itself.

Favorite Bit, Ananka in the library: "I headed for the computer terminals set against the back wall. A man was hunched over one of the desks. Hearing my footsteps behind him, he glanced over his shoulder and quickly tapped one of the keys. An image of three little puppies frolicking about a garden popped up on his computer screen. I sat down at a terminal and tried to get to work.

'Say, cutie pie, do you like puppies?' hissed the very creepy man at the next computer.

'Only if they're cooked medium rare,' I informed him. I've found that in certain situations, it's best to come across as a little loony. 'Now get lost before I ask the librarian to have a look at the Web sites you've visited today.' I was only acting on a hunch, but that man jumped out of his seat as if I had set him on fire. Avoiding my eyes, he snatched his belongings and scurried out of the library" p 158-9.

See also: Important Back-to-School Message

Judging by what I saw on a patron's terminal last week? Ew. Totally ew.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Job Congratulations!

For whatever reason, I was one of the first in my group of library school friends to graduate. Now, all of a sudden, just about everyone seems to be seems to have landed their librarian jobs, so congratulations are in order!

First of all, my dear bff Sarah (whose blog you see on the top of my friend list to the right) has moved down for a children's librarian position in Florida, or as she terms it, Paradise. She's blogged about her first week there, and I'm very happy for her - even if she managed to find a locale that couldn't be farther away from me, barring actually leaving the country (or me moving to Alaska).

Continuing on my friends list to the right, Rachel will be joining me in Washington State!!! Granted, she'll be a good 5ish hours away, but hey! I'm so not complaining! Yay! I might even hop over there for turkey-free Thanksgiving with her, her husband Brandon and our friends Kristy (congrats were given to her earlier in this blog) and Jay! She'll be a most rockin' youth librarian.

Kip, who's blog regularly shames me for its intelligence (and can be found on that oft-tauted list) seems to have landed a position as an adult librarian at my former place of employment. Not that I heard that from him (yes, I know you read this, and yes, that should make you feel guilty, Kip). Either way, I'm happy for him!

While we are on library school friends that don't tell me anything, I hear Cassie has some librarian position somewhere in Chicago where I'm sure she's using her ample Spanish skills! Go, Cassie! Chicago is one of my Favorite cities. I hope you are doing well, Cass. I have no idea if she reads this blog.

Liz. When I think of Liz it cracks me up. Mostly because we majored in the same undergrad program at GVSU and were friends then. We lost track of each other, only to shockingly find ourselves together in our first semester of Library School. While she graduated before me, she's moved on to her second (and far more interesting job, IMHO) as a librarian with teen duties at the place of my former employment, coincidentally under the iron rule of my lovely Aunt Lori, the assistant branch manager, which we all just realized recently in a moment of hilarity. Good hire, Lori.

Brian. Ah Brian. The most normal guy I ever encountered in Library School (Kip you are normal too, Brian's just more...typical or something). The kind of guy who says, I'll email/call you soon and doesn't actually do that. But it's ok, he's still my friend. Brian has finally left that dinky academic library and found a grown-up librarian job at a shiny university I am quite familiar with. Way to go, stranger!

Shane & Sara. One of my older friends (dating back to High School), Sara and her husband Shane have found new jobs and moved to the Windy City along with Cassie (though the three do not know each other). They are not librarians, as it would be weird if I only had friends inside of my profession. Really weird. Anyway, they are wonderful, and I'm happy for them. Here's to being back in the Midwest and closer to family! (Shane's blog can be found on the right. He often posts funny things. Like the super gross bacon snack bar on the Kraft website).

Anyway, to all my dear friends: Congratulations! We can no longer pretend we aren't adults. Good luck with that transition.

If that photo strikes you a little bit wrong, but you can't quite figured out why, count the fingers. I'm sure he's hoping to avoid Inigo. ;)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The melding of two great things. My life is complete.

Runaways, which is the best graphic novel/comic series EVER (or so I say), will be going through an interesting transition soon. Brian K. Vaughn will be passing the torch and writing duties to none other than Joss Whedon!(!!!) Don't read to the end of the article if you aren't totally up-to-date with the series. There's a bit of a rude awakening. Also, illustrator (artist? whatever) Adrian Alphona will be replaced by Michael Ryan.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

UGH! Choices!

What do I do!? Watch Season 2 DVD of Veronica Mars?! Or Read New Moon?! They're like, BOTH my favorites? OH, however will I choose?


Friday, September 08, 2006

Mmm, Danish...

Book Three of The Shamer Chronicles, The Serpent Gift is translated from the Danish, by the author Lene Kaaberbol. I was impressed with the first two, The Shamer's Daughter and The Shamer's Signet but this one let me down a little. It was very good in the end, but it could have done quite nicely with about 75 - 100 pages cut out of it. It's a children's book that rings in at 377 pages, and while I've got nothing against long books, I generally prefer it when the plot doesn't strand me in a predictable and pointless location for a third of the book. It gave her time for some character development, but I seriously doubt that it couldn't have been accomplished elsewhere in the novel. But hey, who cares what I think? Hell, right now, I barely care. Not to let my negative attitute seep into my always chipper blog or anything. Clearly, I know nothing, as Booklist gave it a starred review. Of course, in their plot description they completely skip over the action in the section I'd have cut, so perhaps I'm not all that out of line...

Either way, in this third installment we find Dina still without control of her Shamer powers, but they have happily settled into a quite life. Until, (where would we be without an 'until'?) Dina catches the eye of a mysterious man in the market who begins to stalk the family with a surprising secret (well, surprising if you're like, 10).

With the exception of that which I have already noted, the book was still very good. I might even read the 4th, The Shamer's War sometime after it comes out later this month.

Though I must admit, it drives me crazy that although these have to be translated from the DANISH, we can get these BEFORE we can get more of Australia's Ranger's Apprentice, and those are already in English. It's Flanagan's novels that have me on the edge of my seat, not so much Kaaberbol. 10+

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Commentus Interuptus

Because it seemed like the 'cool' thing to do, I switched to Beta Blogger. This means that if you are a fellow blogger, you've been experiencing, er, problems with commenting. As I do so enjoy your comments, there are several ways to get around this; the most easy being just comment using "other" or "anonymous" and sign your name. Or, if you so desire you can merge your blogger account into Beta (which you'll probably have to do eventually). Or, you could just wait it out until Blogger straightens itself out. But, please don't let any of this discourage you from commenting on my Music Frustrations, My Phone Situation, Or My Book, er, Expeditions! Comments make my day and are a HUGE part of what makes blogging fun.

Sorry for the inconvenience, and I promise, now that I've swore at Blogger a whole lot, I'll go back to commenting on your blogs, too. Minus the easy linkage to my blog, of course.

Also, for those of you with my phone number - My Phone Is Now Here! It's happily charging, but hopefully, by the time I get back from work (I'm on lunch now) it will be a fully functioning link to humanity! Yay! So, after 6:30 PST / 9:30 EST tonight, I can again receive (and make) calls!