"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx

Monday, September 1, 2014

Summer Reading Challenge Books

Today is the official last day of my 
30 Book Summer Reading Challenge

I managed to read 29 books. 

Here they are: 

(The book identified as "g" should be THE POWER OF ICU by Danny Hill.)

My top 5:
1. Looking for Alaska by John Green (a re-read)
2. The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer
3. Never Ending by Martyn Bedford
4. One Summer by Bill Bryson tied with The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Weckler
5. She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick

30 books Summer Reading Challenge

29 / 30 books. 96.67% done!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn

Right from the get-go the reader knows one thing: someone in the book is complicit, thanks to the title by Stephanie Kuehn.

As the book opens we learn that Jamie Henry is very concerned. His sister, Crazy Cate, is getting out of juvenile detention where she has been for the past two years after to confessing to burning down the neighbors fancy horse barn. Jamie knows that Cate will come back for him and he is not sure that he can cope with her reappearance. In fact, weird old symptoms come back. Symptoms that used to plague him when he was younger. He also recovers some lost memories, memories from life before their adoption. He even begins to wonder if he was complicit in Cate's crime.

Jamie is the quintessential unreliable narrator. The reader knows that all the information is not available and Jamie, who had recently stopped taking his prozac cold-turkey, seems confused about the details himself. It is nearly impossible to tell the truth from the delusions. Cate's role in the story is tantamount to a chess game and it is her move up next.
Kuehn’s second novel, after her Morris Award–winning Charm & Strange,powerfully examines how mental illness can turn into family tragedy that ripples far and wide beyond a single event. The prose is as hallucinatory as the madness Jamie seeks to uncover in a novel that’s tense and ambiguous from start to finish.- Children's Book Review, Publishers Weekly
 Hang on. The ending is both surprising and shocking. Is "check" or "checkmate?' Read it and find out for yourself.

30 books Summer Reading Challenge

23 / 30 books. 76% done!

Friday, August 29, 2014


Gum under tables. Ewww. Who does that?

Today, as I was moving tables around the library, I discovered, to my horror, that the tables each had its own disgusting batch of chewed gum on the underside. Ew..ww.w.w.

While scraping it off, I wondered about the degenerates who would deposit their gum for someone else to discover years later. Perhaps, I thought, they think sticking gum under tables is funny. Afterall we live very near Seattle which does have the ultra disgusting gum-wall. Or perhaps the gum-depositors are mean-spirited or barbaric. Most likely, however, they are just lazy. Which is double irritating.

I felt like I was in a movie... a bad comedy. At the moment where I, the star of the movie, discovered the cache of chewed gum, the whole audience lets out a collective "ewww..w.w.w.w."

Aren't you delighted that I shared this wonderful moment from my life with you?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts, August 27

These are my bookish thoughts ...

1. Books in a series.

So, this week I spent a few hours in the car with my daughter. She was listening to the audiobook of The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. I read it in 2011, the year it was published. After enjoying it immensely I had to wait for each of the sequels, Days of Blood and Starlight (2012) and Dreams of Gods and Monsters (2014.)   With the start of each sequel I'd struggle to remember the characters and the plot lines from the previous book(s). It was so frustrating. As I listened to the book as a captive audience with my daughter, I realized that I had forgotten so many of the details from the first book that would have helped me in understanding subsequent action in later books. It made me think that I should have reread the first book before starting the second, and so on. Who has time for that?

This is not an isolated case. With the popularity of books in a series, I find this to be true with just about everyone I attempt to read. Carly, my daughter, refuses to read books UNTIL the series is complete. That is why she is starting The Daughter of Smoke and Bone now. The third book in the trilogy came out this Spring so now she can safely read one book after the next, if she likes the first book.

I don't know what to do. I want to read the "hot" YA titles so I can be a "hip" librarian, but I don't want to spend all my time reading and then rereading them before I move on.

What do you do about books in a series?

2. Book Challenges

Summer is rapidly coming to an end and with it comes the end of my own 30 Books Summer Challenge.
I am currently reading and listening to three different books which means I'm working on books 25-27 toward the challenge. Not that it matters, but I do like to accomplish what I set out to do and it sure doesn't seem like this one is going to get done.

I'm just barely working on any of my other challenges, too. Why do I sign up for them (or start them myself) when I know how much stress they put on my life?

How about you? How do you handle book challenges? Do you participate in them. Any secret tips you've got for me that will help me avoid them in the future?

3. Can you tell that I am gearing up for school to start next week? You'll notice that my blogging rate goes way down in September, it has already started.

This meme is hosted by Bookishly Boisterous.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Salon, August 24

Weather: Gorgeous. What am I doing inside?

This week: the last week of summer, though I will likely  be back at school nearly or every day.

1500 textbooks, again: Last week my daughter and I "accepted" over 2000 new textbooks to our library system. It was such a relief to finish that task. I didn't go into to school for a few days and when I went back there was a new pile of books waiting for attention. It looks like the same number as we had before. *Sigh. Now I have another pile of over 1500 books to accept. This time I will be working with teachers running in and out of the library as they always do the week before school. *Double sigh.

Seattle: I drove up to Seattle with my daughter on Friday so that she could travel in the HOV lane. She is volunteering at the crisis call center. I read and blogged at Starbucks for two hours, then shifted to Barnes and Noble for another two hours. I have no trouble "hanging out" for four hours. Afterwards we did do a little shopping at Nordstrom Rack and found a few bargains. In fact, Carly is wearing the new dress she found right now and I'm wearing my new earrings.

Classic Club Spin book, Update #1: I am reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez for this event. I had thought I would blog once a week on my progress with the book. After starting it and finding the book a bit confusing I changed my mind. I will just report my progress here. Currently on audio disc four, page 113 of 448. My goal per week is 60 pages so I am a few pages off.

Books read this week:

  • Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn---a surprising ending keeps the reader on toes. I'm still digesting it.
  • Power of ICU by Danny Hill---related to school management. It has some powerful suggestions to change the way things are done.
Currently reading:

  • One Hundred Years of Solitude---as I already mentioned. I am listening to the audiobook.
  • Going Over by Beth Kephart---about the Berlin Wall.
  • In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson---Germany 1933-38. Another audiobook. I'm on disc 6 of 11.
Blessings: in church today the sermon was about how we need to bless those we have contact with every day. So today, blog friends, I send out a blessing to each of you. May your life be fulfilling and may you find ways to be a blessing to others, too!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The What? The Golem and the Jinni.

The Book: The Golem and the Jinni

Author: Helene Wecker--- who was raised Jewish, married to an Syrian-American man. The book combines elements from these two traditions.

Published: Harper Publishing, 2013; Blackstone Audio, 2014.

Summary: Set in New York City in 1899 where two unlikely creatures, a golem and a jinni become friends as they try to live among the human immigrants of the city. It blends mythologies from both Jewish and Arab cultures. The golem was created to be her master's wife, but he dies aboard the ship before it arrives in New York, leaving the golem alone. The jinni is trapped inside a copper flask for a thousand years before being released by a tinsmith in Manhattan's Little Syria. They are both named by their human hosts. The golem is named Chava by a kind rabbi who befriends her. The jinni is named Ahmed by the tinsmith, who takes him on as as an apprentice. Neither Chava nor Ahmed need to sleep so they end up discovering each other as they wander the streets of New York in the night.

The What? Golems are creatures made from clay. Golems are mentioned in the Bible (Psalms 139:16) and refer to an unformed bodies. The most famous golem in literature was created by a rabbi, was named Josef, could make himself invisible, and could summon the dead. A jinni  is a supernatural creature from Islamic mythology. We usually spell it genie. Neither creature was aware of the existence of the other creature until they met each other.

Awards: Winner of the Mythopoeic Award for works in fantasy and mythology; Nominated for a Nebula Award for excellent fantasy/science fiction books; Nominated for Goodreads Choice Awards for Fantasy and for Debut Author.

What reviewers had to say about the book and author:
  • Wecker "writes skillfully, nicely evoking the layers of alienness that fall upon strangers in a strange land."-Kirkus Reviews 
  • "And this impressive first novel manages to combine the narrative magic of “The Arabian Nights” with the kind of emotional depth, philosophical seriousness and good, old-fashioned storytelling found in the stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer."---Patricia Cohen, New York Times
  • Wecker has written a novel of ideas, touching on issues from faith to free will, that’s also as entertaining as the fantasies she herself enjoys reading.---Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
Length: Most reviewers mentioned the length of the book and how the details became tedious especially when dealing with the jinni's backstory. I didn't mind all the details I just thought that listening to over 20 hours of one story was too much. I should have picked up the print version of the book so I could read ahead faster. (However, George Guidall did a masterful job reading it.) Like in a lot of fantasy books, the details that add length, also add depth and complexity.

My review: I loved this book. It delighted me on so many levels. When I was a young girl I was completely captivated by the 101 Arabian Nights stories. This book, with its mythology and supernatural creatures, reminded me so much of those stories. I recommend it anyone who enjoys a touch of magic in their reading selections.

30 books Summer Reading Challenge

21 / 30 books. 70% done!

Snapshot Saturday...Watermelon eating dog

Muffy, the watermelon-loving dog. We hold the rind for her to eat off the bit of red left on it. She has learned to use her front teeth for this task and she takes it very seriously.

Snapshot Saturday is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey by Nick Bertozzi

Sir Ernest Shackleton's odyssey to Antarctica in 1915 is one the most legendary survival stories of all time.
When his expedition arrived aboard the Endurance in Antarctic waters in January 1915 they planned a transcontinental trek. Instead the Endurance got stuck in the ice. Now his party had to wait through the whole winter and hope the ship would survive to transport them home. It didn't. In October, the Endurance broke up in the ice and the men were forced to save themselves making camp on the ice and by dragging the lifeboats until they reached open water. In formidable conditions they navigated two boats to Elephant Island where half the party wintered. Shackleton and several others braved an additional 800-mile trek through stormy seas to reach South Georgia Island, which was inhabited by a few whalers. In all not a single man was lost or died. It is truly an amazing survival story, one we would expect to read about in a novel, not real life.

Now Nick Bertozzi has brought the Shackleton story to life again through his excellent graphic biography. He wanted the book to not only tell Shackleton's story but wanted it to honor all the men on the expedition and their contributions. It was amazing how they helped each other to stay positive and cheerful is the face of the gravest situation. They played games, acted out plays, and hunted. One of the men was willing to go back on board the Endurance, even though it was clear that it was breaking up, to rescue the deck of cards.

Nick Bertozzi's drawings bring Shackleton's story to a new generation. Can you imagine why anyone would have answered this ad, run in the London papers in early 1914 to join him as crew on the journey?
"MEN WANTED: FOR HAZARDOUS JOURNEY. SMALL WAGES, BITTER COLD, LONG MONTHS OF COMPLETE DARKNESS, CONSTANT DANGER, SAFE RETURN DOUBTFUL. HONOUR AND RECOGNITION IN CASE OF SUCCESS. -SIR ERNEST SHACKLETON"  Yet 28 men did answer the ad. Bertozzi honors their stories as well. They all survived and everyone credits the sheer force of will of Sir Ernest Shackleton.

For more on the voyage of the Endurance, check out this website.

My only complaint about the book probably says more about me than about the artwork. I wished that the words were larger in the text boxes. Ha! Guess you can tell who has aging eyes.

30 books Summer Reading Challenge

20 / 30 books. 66% done!

Friday Memes---August 22

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City Reader. The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. 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. I'm reading---

Book: Going Over by Beth Kephart

Book Beginnings:
We live with ghosts. We live with thugs, dodgers, punkers, needle ladies, pork knuckle. We live where there is no place else to go.

Friday 56:
I'm not supposed to be here with Savas, but he is beside me, my warrior boy on my best friend's bike, trying to be brave and fearless. Is fear here?

My thoughts: The book is set in both West and East Berlin in 1983. Savas is a preschooler who has run away from home and the narrator is a teen who is railing against presence of The Wall. It has taken me about 50 pages to understand how the book is organized, with alternating chapters and points of view. I'm hoping to learn more about Berlin and how the wall separated the city.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

50th Anniversary---Beatles in Seattle

August 21, 1964 The Fab Four visited Seattle.

My sister's best friends sister went to the concert. Even as a seven year old I was jealous. I remember asking her all the details of the concert when she got back home.

The ticket price for the concert was $5. Ah, those were the days!