Thursday, August 31, 2006
Returning to one of my favorite subjects, we have the long-famous Susan Cooper's new novel Victory. This one has got two alternating storys that are mysteriously connected. Sam finds himself pressed into service onto Admiral Lord Nelson's flagship just prior to the Battle of Trafalgar (1805, for those few who wonder but don't know. Sam's story actually begins in 1803.). Present-day Molly has just been unhappily transplanted from her beloved London to less interesting Connecticut, and she's not at all happy about it. Molly has always feared water, but when she comes across a rare biography of the sea hero Nelson, she becomes fascinated and begins to experience an unsettling connection with the events 100 years prior - and especially with Sam. She begins to see flashes through his eyes.
Now this is at least the third fictional version I've read of that crucial sea victory. Augment that with more kids on ships books than I can count (2 just this year, 3 when the next Bloody Jack comes out in a few weeks), and I think I can say that I'm pretty familiar with the genre, despite the fact that I've never actually been on a ship with sails. I'm not going to concern myself with Molly, as I mostly found her rather uninteresting, though realistic, well, except for that whole "I see the past" thing... (by the way Blossom Culp SO did it better). This leaves Sam. There were only a few items that were fresh to me. Sam's uncle, who is pressed alongside him has a life-long career of rope-making. It was very interesting, and I wish we could have seen more of that while actually on the ship. What most note, however, is that this is indeed the only book I've read that gets this close to Nelson - he has a few significant cameos. All of the characters revere the man with authenticity - the mere hint of his presence creates a palpable hum throughout the ship. The smallest words of kindness or praise from "the man himself" is repeated and treasured. Cooper nailed that. Fiercely. +10, nothing offensive, but, you know, what with the bloody death and all during sea battles, it gets a little graphic...I think pink mist might have figured in somewhere...(p. 153). War sucks.
Oh, one additional issue - Molly is always talking about how she can feel Sam's presence and that he's trying to communicate with her - warn her away from certain things and sights, but there is no reciprocation on Sam's side. He never says anything like, "hey, I feel a bit possessed right now. That's weird." I'm just sayin'.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Regulars may have noticed the handy little box near the top of the right column. This is, for the uninitiated, a search box for my LibraryThing account. I was disproportionately excited when I came accross the site, as it fills in for the lacking search capabilites of Blogger. Every book I've talked about on this blog since its inception (minus the ones I start, but do not finish - which might change, what do you think?) is in my catalog there, tagged within an inch of its life. Eventually, I will add books that I read before the blog, but that might, er, take a while. Each book links back to its specific post within the blog. Yes. It is insane. I was posessed. Also, I have no life. It's very sad, really. Go ahead, play with it!
Also, if anyone can tell me how I can upload the depicted images into the template and onto the sidebar, 'twould be much appreciated, email me or something. Thanks!
While my phone looks nothing like that one, it is a fairly accurate representation of the status of my phone. So the 5ish of you who both read this and might have actually called me before the replacement arrives... well, you can leave me a voice mail. I'm not real happy about it either. But hey! It's not like I had any minutes left this month anyway!
Monday, August 28, 2006
I don't know why, but I was anticipating death. It must have been the combination of the cover and title that lead me to prepare for death, dying or hauntings. Look at it! You've got some ethereal clouds, but you are above the clouds floating in nothingness, just an overexposed eye peaking out. This totally should have been a ghost story.
However, it wasn't. It was a short novel narrated in alternating chapters by sisters who are struggling with their mother's expectations of them. Mina is expected to be the savior of the family - getting into a good school and earning enough money to take care of everyone. The only problem is that Mina isn't that great of a student and has been lying and covering up the evidence, as well stealing from the family business. Suna wants nothing more than for her mother to love her, but her mother seems incapable of showing any affection toward the younger, mostly deaf child. Suna is damaged and Uhmma can't forget that.
This wasn't all that fun to read. It was well written and far better than the last Asian-American experience novel I read. I didn't really like Mina all that much. Suna I just felt sorry for and wished she'd grow up a bit (which is totally unfair of me). It was the supporting characters that sparkled, if some of them still remained two dimensional. The father, long suffering. The Latino worker/love interest. What was most interesting to me, and what took me the longest to catch on to, was that when the characters were speaking Korean it didn't appear in quotations or with any of the standard indications of dialogue. It just flowed along with the text and you just figured out what was going on. Uncomfortable at first, but oh, how we adjust. Stealing, lying & complete disrespect of authority figures (isn't that one of the complaints for Bridge to Terabithia?), oh and very subtle sex. 14+
Sunday, August 27, 2006
This is really old news but, if you are in the mood for some fab satire, check out David Lubar's "The History of Young Adult Novels." Written in 2003, I missed it (until running across the mention in Cynsations.), so perhaps you did too. It's worth it to read and reminds me of how much I loved Sleeping Freshman Don't Lie. Enough links for you?
Friday, August 25, 2006
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Being an adult librarian I don't have a ton of opportunities to interact with or create programming for teens. I do however have opportunity to do a little for the adults. My second Book Discussion for adults took place tonight. Last month, we did My Sister's Keeper and had a grand total of one person show up. And that was one of my ever supportive co-workers (go Pat!). Tonight, however, I'm please to announce that in addition to myself and Pat (again on her own time!), there were three patrons in attendance for the Year of Wonders book discussion! Which, I know isn't spectacular success, but gosh, I'm awful happy about it, especially since no one showed up last time. It was also interesting to note that two of the participants wouldn't have normally picked up the novel had it not been for the posters placed about the library! That's pretty cool!
Haven't read this quick historical novel, you say? Let me tell you about it! Over the course of one year (1665-1666) we see through the eyes of Anna, a young widow, who is thrown into a leading role as a care giver when her small village is struck by the Bubonic Plague and decides to go into quarantine rather than allowing the disease to spread to the neighboring countryside. An altruistic ideal, of course, but what happens when more and more people fall ill and die? Who is left to go on caring for the sick and keeping the healthy from harm? What happens when fear gets the better of people with no escape?
It really was fantastic. I will admit to having a predilection for diseases, though. I find them fascinating. The book group enjoyed it as well. The one thing that made us all raise our eyebrows was the ending. As one participant noted: "It was like a completely different book. Like the beginning of another story. The feel and even the colors were different." She's definitely right, it was a marked transition, but I wondered that no matter what for Anna, after all that she had witnessed, after how much she had grown, life never would return to ordinary. At least not for her. Why not highlight the change by making it drastic? There's an argument for each. Again, it was fantastic.
Also, I am still looking for empathy, commiseration and advice regarding the previous post about bullying, so, please, let me know what you think, or tell me about a similar situation in your library/workplace.
I now return you to your regularly scheduled blogs.
Monday, August 21, 2006
I don't ask a whole lot. Pretty much, if you come into the library, and you don't want anything from me, I'm going to leave you alone. In fact, if you ignore me, there's a good chance I'll ignore you. If you don't draw attention to yourself, I may, *gasp* not even notice you. I know! It's surprising to me, too. But I don't care what you do. I'm glad that you are in the library, and I'm glad that you know we exist. You don't have to whisper, I'm not going to tell you to be quiet unless other patrons start to look askance at you.
However, if you are one of the very few people who do cross that thick line, in my experience, all that need be said is "hey, you are starting to disturb other patrons, so keep it to a dull roar, eh?" Again, YOU CAN DO WHATEVER, JUST DON'T BUG OTHER PEOPLE. My cousin's husband Tim (also a librarian, we are two of four librarians in this family. Yes, my dork lineage is pedigree.), manages a library that is far more urban than any I've worked in. I've been treated on many occasions to the stories of his madcap urban work existence. Because of these funny-if-you-didn't-have-to-take-care-of-them stories, I had girded myself for the man who would pee on the stacks and to the fact that one day I would have to call the cops on a patron. My only shortcoming was that I never quite anticipated the call wouldn't be over a drunk, but a 9-year-old. *sigh*
It started off fairly innocent. Some loud, startling noises from the children's section. I ignored them for a while, but they just kept getting worse, and the patrons were beginning to glare. So, up I go and find two young boys, "innocently" reading. I'm not buying it, 'cause it's 7pm and there's nobody else on that side of the library. I might be a tad naive at times, but I'm not a moron (Eric even said so today. In fact he said that I was "intelligent beyond my years." Either it was sarcasm or he sucks up REALLY well. I'm choosing to believe the latter, but probably it was a little of both...). I ask them to keep it down, the one boy continues and stuff gets thrown around and I tell the kid that it's time for him to go home.
Things then escalate to the point where the kid becomes defiant and won't leave the library. I call his father (completely pointless move, I might add) and tell the kid he can't come back for two weeks. He of course, knows that there isn't anything more I can do short of calling the cops so he's in and out of the library for the rest of the night creating loud distractions, in various guises. Eventually, we close. The next day here he is again. I don't even bother to talk to the kid. He knows and his father knows that he's not allowed back and at this point he's trespassing. I called the deputy, 'cause I'm not putting up with it again. In between the time of my call and the deputy arriving this kid has verbally insulted, physically threatened and actually punched other kids. I don't feel bad about calling the cops, but I wondered what, if anything, I could have done that would have prevented this from reaching such extremities. Should I have ignored him to the detriment of the other patrons the first night? Had I not called the cops would he have beat on smaller kids? I can't touch the kid, according to our policy, so how do I get him out, if the parents aren't present, participating or, well, care? I didn't know this kid from Adam, but apparently, he had just gotten off a year-long ban from the library. He's 9! Here's another year. I'd forgive him for the disruptiveness, but not the bullying. Not in my library. I hate it when I'm in charge...
Anyway, advice and thoughts are appreciated.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Defining Dulcie was a very sweet book. Dulcie's dad dies and her mom drags her to the other side of the country to a place where everyone within the county doesn't know her life story. Dulcie doesn't react to her father's death like her mother, and wants nothing more than to cling to everything familiar. In reaction, as soon as her mom announces she'll be selling her husband's beloved truck, Dulcie decides that she's had enough and steals said truck to drive across the country alone and live with her grandfather back in the hometown. Of course, when she gets home a few key things have changed and she suddenly finds friendship where she never would have anticipated. I don't know if any of that made sense, but I really loved this book. It was poignant and funny. The characters were vibrant.
Rachel E pointed out that she found it entirely unrealistic that a mother would a) leave town after her kid loses her father, b) that she would let her kid stay with the grandfather and c) actually go with that conclusion (ie it can't be that easy legal-wise). I disagree with her while admitting that 'c' might be slightly improbable. I totally understand 'a' and don't really see the problem with 'b' and 'c's issues didn't bother me as the story and characters were so wonderful. But as I'm not going to tell you the ending, you'll just have to go read it for yourself and tell me what you think.
For a more complete review see Bookshelves of Doom. It's because of her I read the book anyway. However, if the first two pages don't capture you - I hereby decry that you have no soul. Sorry. (side note: read those bits during an endless car ride with my parents. Found it even funnier with that painful contrast.)
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
I've been a very bad blogger of late. Ever since I went home in July my blogs have been few, poor and far between. I have no good excuse. I was gone, then my parents were here, then I was just lazy. I've got tons to add though. I can tell you of my new internet obsession. Or about that time (yesterday) that I called the cops on a 9 year old. Perhaps you'd like to hear about the two guys who crashed their cars shortly after meeting me (see, now no disaster has befallen me of late, it's just spiraled away. Call me the Typhoid Mary of car accidents...). Maybe you just want me to shut up and blog more books (which, I must confess, in addition to not blogging, I've not really been reading much. I'll pause for your gasps and while you mutter in shocked tones to your neighbor. Because I so know that you surf in tandem...pause....).
Let me know. Your silence will only mean we'll be up for a game of Jackie Roulette...
(Wanna know what that picture is? Go here). lol.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Richard Peck is one of those classic writers who have been around the entire time I've been a reader. Mom gave me the Blossom Culp series when I was a kid and I loved it. I think I even read a couple of them more than once. It had the perfect mix of history (which I was fascinated with) and that prickly factor of fear. I missed a few of his between then and his fab Chicago Duo, but once I read A Long Way From Chicago I was a fan reborn. I've read each of his books since then, and none, IMHO, have come close to matching the sparkling fun of those two books. Here Lies the Librarian comes darn close.
From the get go we meet Peck's trademark quirky characters as they scramble for cover from a tornado. When the dust settles and we find out that the twister tore up the graveyard, oh, it is a scene to behold. Peck has a way of capturing the tragicomic. As for summaries, well, that's not really what some Peck novels are about are they? I'll give it my best... 1914. Peewee has grown up under the attention of only her mechanic brother, so it's no surprise that when Irene Ridpath, Library Student, comes to town she mistakes the 14-year-old for a boy. That all and more changes when the future librarian sets her eyes on the rundown, closed library in Eleanor's small Indiana town.
My only issue come with the fact that we never hear what happens to one of our main characters. I was attached, and felt unresolved. But you know, sometimes we just don't know how other people's stories turn out.
This would be a great family read.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
I totally dug the first Young Bond adventure. I'm always on the lookout for good adventure books where kids have to actually apply knowledge (ok, well, that sounds boring, but you know what I mean). Alex Rider has to rely on his cleverness just as much as his ability to snowboard down a mountain on an ironing board.
I was geeked when I heard about the Fleming's approval of this series. How could it not be a hit? Furthermore, I was hoping that since they are setting it when James is still a teenager it would avoid the misogynous overtones that make the movies rather unwatchable by me (I mean, seriously? The dude technically never ages, and they're on the 20-something movie. Not that much time has passed. I'd like to see just one of the women he ends up with in the end to carry over to the beginning of the next film. Then if you have to kill them, well, at least it wasn't just a wham, bam thing. And don't give me any lines about the intended incorrigible nature of the character. At this point he's lacking depth. 20 odd movies and lacking depth. Totally unbelievable. Ticks me off. Rant over. ) Thus far we seem to be successful. Kind of. He still meet a lovely girl in the first book that gained no mention in this one. I also somehow doubt that I'll see the two from this one ever again. At least he isn't sleeping with all of them like he does as an adult. You know what? I think that while I knew I didn't much care for the adult version, I don't think I realized the extent of the issues I have with his man-slut behavior. I am such a moralist. *Sigh* Sex & the City doesn't make it all better. The sheer inequality! *Deeper sigh* I guess the rant wasn't really over. Sorry (oh, God, please don't let me start wearing only black & white with those horrible blocky white shoulder apron/collars. Really, I don't want to be a Puritan...).
Young Bond's second adventure, Blood Fever starts with the murder and kidnapping of the family of one of his cohorts. Soon James finds himself conveniently placed to help his friend out and uncover an international ring of robberies. You know what? I liked Silverfin more. It seemed more original to me. I kept getting elements of this one mixed up with one of the Alex Rider books. Don't get me wrong, I have no qualms recommending it, this installment just lacked the sparkle of the first (and I'm not just referring to the cover). Maybe it's just that Blood Fever lacked any of the quirky, SF, truly scary villains that Silverfin excelled at. It's pretty violent (and we were expecting...). Boys 12+ you know who to give this to.