"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Friday Quotes, Feb. 12th

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from the book.
The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56.

Check out the links for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Participants don't select their favorite, coolest, or most intellectual books, they just use the one they are currently reading. This is the book I'm reading right now:

Title: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Book Beginnings: 
Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet.
Friday 56: 
Most missing girl cases, the older policeman tells them, resolve themselves within twenty-four hours. The girls come home by themselves.
Comments: The Friday 56 quote is from some random page, I can't even tell which one. I am listening to the audiobook so I had to pull the quotes from a sample on the Internet. Obviously from the two quotes you now know that Lydia is dead, possibly murdered. What the reader doesn't know is very much about the girl and then family figures out they don't much about her, either.

Monday, February 8, 2016

TTT: Valentine's Day theme: favorite love quotes in literature

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday: In honor of upcoming Valentine's Day here are some of my favorite love quotes found in literature:

1.   “As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.” 
― John GreenThe Fault in Our Stars
2.  “Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.” 
― Nicole KraussThe History of Love
3. “Love is always patient and kind. It is never jealous. Love is never boastful or conceited. It is never rude or selfish. It does not take offense and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins, but delights in the truth. It is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.” 
― Holy Bible: New International Version, 1 Corin. 13
4.  “Be with me always - take any form - drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! it is unutterable! I can not live without my life! I can not live without my soul!” 
― Emily BrontëWuthering Heights
5.  “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach” 
― Elizabeth Barrett Browning

6. “Holding Eleanor's hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.” 
― Rainbow RowellEleanor & Park
7.  “Sometimes,' said Pooh, 'the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.” 
― A.A. Milne
8. “Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being "in love" which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.” 
― Louis de BernièresCorelli's Mandolin
9. “I'm in love with you," he said quietly.

"Augustus," I said.

"I am," he said. He was staring at me, and I could see the corners of his eyes crinkling. "I'm in love with you, and I'm not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I'm in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we're all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we'll ever have, and I am in love with you.” 
― John GreenThe Fault in Our Stars
10. “You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope...I have loved none but you.” 
― Jane AustenPersuasion

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Pierce County Reads Book(s) announced today!

Each year Pierce County selects one book for the Pierce County Reads book of the year. This year Pierce County Reads is breaking through a stereotype. Instead of selecting one fairly newly published book, usually nonfiction with a local connection, the committee decided to highlight five books by a Washington author, Sherman Alexie. they also made the announcement a few weeks early to allow readers to read as many of the books as they can before the finale event with Alexie on April 29th. In early March additional activities will be announced by the library system which will augment reading the books.

Each year my SOTH Book Club suspends our previously scheduled book selection in favor of reading the Pierce County Reads book. In 2008 we read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian as one of our club books. Since many new members weren't in the club at the time, but many others were, my suggestion will be that club members select one or two of the books they'd like to read so when we get to our club meeting all five books should be represented.

I'm excited for a few reasons. First, I have an excuse to read more Sherman Alexie books. Secondly, I get to go to another event where he is speaking. I've attended two of these events and enjoyed both of them so much.

“THE WORLD’S FIRST FAST-TALKING, WISECRACKING, MEDIAGENIC AMERICAN-INDIAN SUPERSTAR.”                                                                                 Mens’ Journal, on Sherman Alexie

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/entertainment/arts-culture/article58653643.html#storylink=cpy

For the official announcement read The News Tribune article.

Let the reading begin!

Sunday Salon, Feb. 7

Admiring BIG art, Pasadena, 2015
Weather: I see a few clouds out the window. But I also see a bit of blue sky. It remains to be seen how the weather will shape up today.

Katie T. and another participant await the final results. Who will advance to state?

Poetry Out Loud Regional contest: The Puget Sound region held its Poetry Out Loud contest yesterday. Twelve students from area high schools competed including our gal, Katie T. The contest, which was held in the Tacoma Public Library started off in an ominous way...with a fire alarm. Apparently some patron of the library pulled a fire alarm. We all had to evacuate the building and wait for the fire department to give us the all-clear, which took almost a half hour. Katie did great with her recitations of two poems but did not advance to the State level.

End of semester one/Beginning of semester two: Wednesday marked the ending and beginning for us, the half way point of the school year. What a week. With many students leaving and many others coming in at semester, it was pretty busy in the library with flurries of activities around textbooks and ipads. Ugh.

Fun or Funky photos: I posted a funky photo taken during a vacation to Santa Fe a few years ago on my Facebook page. My sister replied with question marks. This got me thinking how much fun it would be to look back in my photos and post a few more fun or funky photos for you to enjoy.

Me amidst the outdoor art of Santa Fe, May 2014.
Don and I and LOTS of lavender at King Estate Oregon, 2015

Vitruvian Man in the Chinese garden at The Huntington , near Pasadena 2015
Friend Ken W. and Don near a huge beaver sculpture, Portland, Oregon

The Tri-Delt making the third delta of her sorority's name, Victoria BC
Flu Shot: I finally got my flu shot this past Friday after learning about confirmed cases of the flu at my school. Hopefully better late than never. The shot itself wasn't bad but I did feel kind of sickly for the rest of the night.

Books read this week:

  • Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena---the Newbery Medal winner and a picture book.
  • Nice Recovery by Susan Juby---a recovery memoir and a helpful book for those wanted to make a fresh start from an addicted lifestyle.
Currently reading:
  • The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George---a misnamed title. I am listening to this book in the audiobook format on 1.5 speed so I can hurry up and be done with it. Sigh.
  • Vanishing Grace: Whatever Happened to the Good News? by Phillip Yancey---I hope to finish up this book which I started in November for a class I already finished teaching at church. It is slow going since I am only reading one or two chapters per week. No hurry.
  • Sanditon by Jane Austen---her unfinished novel. I have read the book before but the version which was completed by "a lady." I want to see which parts were Jane Austen and which were not. 
For your viewing/listening enjoyment: William Joseph. I love this musician but all I could think about while I watched the video was , "He is wrecking a piano in all that water."

What are you up to? I'd love it if you'd leave a comment below!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Thoughts on award selections and two reviews

Readers of my blog know I am quite obsessed with the Youth Media Awards announced each January at the end ALA mid-winter meeting. This year I was shocked by two things when the announcement of the winners were made. 1. There were only two honor books selected by the Printz committee. Usually four honor books are announced. 2. The Newbery Medal winner is a picture book. I decided not to say anything about these two things until I read the books in question. Why complain if I ultimately agree with the committees' decisions? Well, I finished all the books this week and now I can criticize their choices.

The Printz Award committee selected Bone Gap by Laura Ruby as the #1 YA book of the year. It was a solid choice. The book incorporates Greek mythology into a modern story set in the Midwest. There is a bit of a romance, full of adventure, magical realism, and even a medical mystery. The mythology doesn't hit the reader over the head. Bravo Printz committee. Good choice. The two honor books were The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick and Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez.

Marcus Sedgwick is no stranger to the Printz having won the Printz Award in 2014 with Midwinterblood and an honor in 2011 with Revolver. This year's selection, The Ghosts of Heaven, is a complicated set of four stories which are connected through space and time by the same themes of spirals and making decisions on faulty or incorrect information. The book is brilliant. It deserved the Printz honor.

25256386The other honor recipient, Out of Darkness, is set in Texas in the 1930s. A Mexican teenage girl, Naomi, moves with her half-siblings to live with their father. Their mother is dead. Naomi has great misgivings about moving in with Henry, the children's father, because of the way he treated her mother when she was alive and the way he acted around her. But she moved with her siblings, wanting to protect them. Racism is alive and well in Texas in the 1930s and Naomi doesn't fit in at school with her classmates. She and the twins make friends with a African-American boy who lives in a neighboring community. Naomi and Wash Fuller fall in love. It is, of course, a forbidden love and must be kept hidden from everyone. Just about the time they decide to run away together a tragedy strikes their community. The school explodes killing around 300 students. This school explosion really happened in New London, Texas in 1937. The double tragedy is what happens to Naomi and Wash in the aftermath of the explosion.

As much as I liked or admired Out of Darkness I really thought several other books were more worthy of a Printz honor than this book. In it the racist climate of the 1930s was well defined and the characters were well developed for the most part, though I thought most were a bit flat and singular in their motivations. I was most interested in details pertaining to the explosion and the aftermath. Yet the details were fairly sketchy considering the long length of the book, over 400 pages. I actually found myself speed-reading through sections of the book where I found the details a bit repetitive and tedious.

In comparison I felt three other books were more or at least just as worthy to receive a Printz Honor: Challenger Deep by Neil Shusterman; Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin; and Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege on Leningrad by MT Anderson.

At least Most Dangerous and Symphony for the City of the Dead both won a Youth Media Award. Most Dangerous won the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award. Symphony for the City of the Dead won a Sibert Honor. Both are awards for nonfiction books. Challenger Deep, which had earlier won the National Book Award, got nothing at the Youth Media Awards ceremony. Nothing! The book takes a serious look at what it is like to sink into mental illness from the inside-out. The book is thoughtful as well as insightful and so well-written. I felt certain with so many great books about mental health this year this book would at least garner a Printz honor. When the committee selected only two instead of four honor books, it was as if they were saying these three books weren't as worthy as the other two, and they were. They totally were. It still makes me angry to think about. Gr.r.r.

22521973Since I am a high school librarian I don't often pay much attention to the Newbery Medal because the award usually goes to middle grade books. This year, however, the Medal was awarded to a picture book, The Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena. The story is about a little boy whose grandmother takes him on a bus ride. During the ride she helps him to see and appreciate things in his world which he didn't appreciate before: music, vision, and people living in different circumstances. The story closes with the boy and his grandmother helping out at a soup kitchen. The book is darling. DARLING. And the artwork is fun and colorful. But a Newbery Medal? This book did win a Caldecott honor, too. It is pretty confusing these award categories which overlap.

If I had any say in the matter I would make a much clearer distinction between the award categories. Printz Awards would go to books written for high school students (gr. 9-12+); Newbery Medals would be awarded to books written for middle grade readers (Gr. 5-8); Caldecott would still go to the best illustrated book but a new category would have to created for emerging readers (Gr. 2-4). Well, obviously I don't have any say in who gets what award. I just wish I did.

I appreciate all the work the members of the selection committees do but this year I disagree with a few of their choices.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Edgar Award Nominees

                The Edgar Book Awards go to the best mystery writers.

The Edgar® Awards to be presented 4/28/16

Each spring, Mystery Writers of America present the Edgar® Awards, widely acknowledged to be the most prestigious awards in the genre.

The nominees for 2016, in the Young Adult division are:

Young Adult

 Endangered by Lamar Giles (HarperCollins Children's Books - HarperTeen)
A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis (HarperCollins Publishers – Katherine Tegen Books)
The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury (Scholastic – Scholastic Press)
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma (Algonquin Young Readers - Workman)
Ask the Dark by Henry Turner (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – Clarion Books)

Check out the link for the full list of nominees in all categories. The Edgar® Awards

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

High tech- Low tech

My school became an iPad school this year. What does that mean? It means that every student is checked out an iPad like a textbook and most teachers are conducting lessons using the tools available to them on the iPads like Canvas, Notability, Pages, and many other subject-specific APPs. One English teacher told me she was thrilled because now she could have her students submit all their papers through Turn-It-In, an APP which helps prevent plagiarism. It really has changed education at our school overnight. But...I've noticed some really sad side effects of the iPads and their widespread usage.
  • Fewer kids are checking out books, even ibooks. More kids than ever are coming to the library as just another place to hang-out with their friends and to even play video games together. Fewer students are reading or looking at the books. We are part of a statistic which is happening everywhere high tech is integrated. As kids embrace the technology, the less they read. The less they read, the less they can read. Sad.
  • Every year since our library opened eleven years ago we have dedicated one table to jigsaw puzzles. The puzzle table has become a place for kids to spend a few minutes at lunch being quiet or working in concert with someone else to finish a task. It has been a very popular spot, up until this year. Now no one, or very few students, bother with the jigsaw puzzles I dutifully put out for them. The puzzle table is a victim of the ipads, I fear. Low tech (jigsaw puzzles) cannot compete with high-tech iPads.
  • Remember when your kids were little, say two years old and you would plop them on the floor next to another two year old? What would happen? The kids would play next to each other, not with each other. I think it is called simultaneous play. Anyway it is part of their development. Kids have to learn how to play together and they don't do it at first.  With the introduction of iPads, it is as if we have kicked kids backwards in development.  They sit next to each other and play on their iPads, not interacting with each other. It is as if they are back to the simultaneous play stage of their lives. 
  • One day while walking through the cafeteria where kids gather before school, I noted a whole lot of kids playing video games on their iPads and no one reading, Not one person. I remarked about this to an administrator who was supervising the room. Without missing a beat she said, "That is why kids bring guns to school." What? I was pretty shook up by her comment and very surprised. I was thinking reading, and she was thinking guns. Ugh. She went on to explain that kids don't talk to each other these day and don't know how to work out their problems. So if there is a conflict what do they do? They bring guns to school. Hey, what do you do in video games? You shoot everything, right? Scary!
I really worry about us as a society if we never have time for low-tech (or no-tech) activities. What are your thoughts on this subject?

Monday, February 1, 2016

TTT: Favorite books set in a historical time

Hosted at Broke and Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite books set in Europe and the Pacific during World War II.
I have read a lot of books about World War Two over the years. Here are a few of my favorites, listed in random order, after Night by Elie Wiesel and The Diary of Anne Frank, which everyone knows and has read:

5619091. The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
375013A nonfiction account about two sisters arrested in the Netherlands for hiding and sheltering Jews. Half of the book is about their experiences saving Jewish individuals from sure annihilation. The second half is about their experiences living in a concentration camp. Corrie ten Boom survived and used her story as a positive Christian message of hope and forgiveness. I read this book years ago and it has stayed with me all these years.

2. Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally
Yes, everyone has seen the movie but I recommend everyone also read the book. It is a fiction book about a real man, Oscar Schindler and how he personally saved thousands of Jews by creating a list and making sure the people on that list were not touched by the Nazis. This book blew me away.

3. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Two intertwined stories, one in France, the other in Germany before and during WWII. This was my favorite novel of 2015.
4. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
This story about a young foster child living with a German family during the lean years of the war. She learns to read and hordes books. She also helps her foster parents save a Jewish man by hiding him. This book ranks in my top ten YA novels.
5. A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
Set in Pacific during WWII and then Australia afterwards. The first part of the book covers the story of British woman and children who become prisoners of war when Japan captured the island where they lived. They were then forced to march all over Malaya before settling down in a village to wait out the end of the war. I loved the mini-series and have read and re-read the book many times.
6. Unbroken: a World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand.
The amazing, AMAZING story of Louis Zamperini, a US Olympian, whose plane went down over the Pacific. He survived months in the life raft just to be captured by the Japanese. This reads like an adventure novel but it is all true.
7. In Harm's Way: The Sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors by Doug Stanton. Another true account. This one about the last ship sunk at the end of the war. Because the war was nearly over, no one was looking for the ship not did they send out a rescue team to save the sailors floating in the ocean. This book made me mad, but it is very well-written.
8. The City of Thieves by David Benioff
Set in Leningrad during the 900 days of siege on the city by the Nazis. This book has humor, but at the same time a lot of heart. Another two favorites on this topic: Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostkovich and the Siege on Leningrad by M.T. Anderson AND The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean about the artwork in the Hermitage Museum and how it and the people who worked there survived the terrible war.
9. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Lithuania during WWII under Stalin where he did worse things to his own people than even imaginable. This story is based on the story of what happened to the author's family.
10. Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
Oh my. What a book. It revealed the deplorable acts of the French people against the Jew in the Vel' d'Hiv arena. Very sad.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
11. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Shaffer and Barrows.
WWII in Guernsey island. Written as a series of letters. I enjoyed this book a lot.

There are so many more. I will stop.