"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=========

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Read all the Youth Media Award Books in 2017 Challenge. Sign Up!

Join me in reading the YA Award Titles from the Youth Media ALA Awards. It is only eight to eleven books and you will be reading the best of the best. Just sign up by adding your name to the comment section and have fun reading. The AWARDS will be announced on January 23rd in 2017. 

1. Michael L. Printz Award (Best YA literature of the year) 

2. Schneider Family Book Award (Teen living with a disability)

3. Alex Awards -10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences (Pick one of ten)     

    4. Margaret A. Edwards Award (Read one book by the winning author who has made a significant contribution to YA or Children's Lit)
    • Name of author ___________________ (Choose one of his/her books)
    • Title: ____(You fill the title you read of his books)_______________________________
    5. Stonewall Children's and Young Adult Literature (LGBT) 

    6. William C. Morris Award (First YA novel by author)

    7. YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults 

      8. Coretta Scott King Author Award (African American Author) 

      9. Pura Belpre (Latino Author) 

      *********Below the line are Youth Media Award Winners which are geared towards children or middle grade students. You may read them if you like, but they are not part of this challenge_____________________________________________________________________________________*10.  Odyssey Award (Best audiobook for Children or Teens) Will be on the list if a YA title.

      *11. Batchelder Award (Translated into English) Will be on the list if a YA title

      *12. Newbery Medal (Best Children's Literature) 

      *13. Caldecott Medal (Best Illustrated Picture Book) 

      *14. Sibert Informational Book Award (Best Information Book for Children)

      *15. Laura Ingalls Wilder Award (Honoring an author or illustrated who has made a substantial contribution to children's literature) 

      If any of the awards for these categories go to Junior or Children's books those books will not be included for this Challenge. Last year, for example, only nine of the categories had YA books, so we only read nine books, not fifteen. Honor books will be listed if the award book is geared toward a younger audience but the honor book is for teens.

      If you REALLY want to challenge yourself, you can read some or all the honor books in each category, too. OR you could move down and include books for the Junior and Children's Award categories like the Newbery, Caldecott, Siebert, etc. But I draw the line at YA books. That is enough for me. The full list of all winners and honor books will be listed on the Youth Media Awards 2017 Page after January 23, 2017.

      Join me. Sign up by adding your name and an email or a hyperlink to your blog on the comment section. Then stay tuned and keep in touch. Let me know how you are doing. Happy reading. Just and paste this page to your blog and I will contact you when the titles are available! 

      Sunday Salon, December 4th

      Weather: Blue skies and chilly. Don is outside putting Christmas lights on the house.

      Scripture lesson today, Isaiah 11:6: 
      The wolf shall live with the lamb,
          the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
      the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
          and a little child shall lead them.

      Reminded me of a poster created by an artist based on this scripture with minor modifications (see photo above):
      "And the Lion will lie down on the Lam
      But the Lion won't skwish the Lam
      Or Eat the Lam
      Or even nibble on the Lam a little"

      Cue the Christmas Music:
      I have days worth of Christmas music on my iTunes account. I don't think it is possible to listen to it all between now and Christmas, but I will try.
      I thought I'd share a few of the fun ones I've come across this week. Have a listen while you read the rest of this post.

      Brian Setzer Orhestra

      Jewel and Home Free on The Sing Off

      Jimmy Buffett, Christmas Island

      Crazy Corn Casserole: I know I have to break down and go grocery shopping but in the meantime I can still make a few recipes from items I have in my cupboard. For lunch I was able to scrounge up all the ingredients for Crazy Corn Casserole,  a favorite of my daughters. We ate it, thinking of the two of you with love! (See recipe below)

      Hummingbirds: I was outside yesterday with the dog and I heard the familiar chatter of the Anna's Hummingbird. "Oh dear", I thought, "I didn't realize you were still around." I went back in the house, found the feeder, and made up some solution for the birds to drink. Today I stepped outside, again with the dog, and this time I heard two of my tiny feather friends singing a song of thanks to me for their food. If you would like to hear similar sounds to what I heard visit Cornell's Ornithology Anna's Hummingbird Page.  It has both the chatter and the song.

      Prayers: for my son-in-law and daughter. We love you. Also, for a friend who had a negative result of a mammogram after breast cancer treatment. Prayers what they found is a noncancerous calcium deposit,

      Are you listening to the Christmas I cued up for you? If so, I hope you are enjoying the songs. Now a quiz. Can you locate Christmas Island on a globe?

      The library is decorated for the holidays. I love all the splashes of color that the decorations add to the library and the display case. I try to make sure that all religions and traditions are included: Nativity; Hanukkah; Yule; Diwali; Tet; Chinese New Year; Eid al-Fitr; Winter Solstice; Kwanzaa; and All-Kings Day.

      Books read this week:
      • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott---I finished this book as part of the Classics Club Spin Challenge. A reread. I liked it better as a kid.
      • Girl at War by Sara Novic---A book club selection. A disturbing look at the horrors of war through the eyes of a young girl.
      • The Singing Bones by Shaun Tan---Grimms Fairy Tales with sculptures depicting parts of scenes, Tan is an artist so I would consider this book to be an art book.
      Currently reading:
      • When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore---a YA selection that I reading AND listening to. Magical Realism. I'm enjoying it a lot. 98% complete. I am within pages of completion.
      • The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan---a second book in a series. I liked the first book much better than this one but I will finish it. You know me. 
      Baking: Pfeffernusse (Peppernuts). They are a favorite Christmas treat in our family because they are flavored with anise, one of those ingredients that is hard to find at the store so when I see it, I buy it. That would explain why I have three bottles of it.

      Peppernuts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
      The Puyallup Book Mark is going out of business. Sigh. It is the only book store in town and it is a used one at that. Now we will have to buy our books online or else drive into Tacoma, Lakewood, or Federal Way to go to an actual store. But the upside, I bought 13 books for a dollar each.
      This recipe was published in Carly's 3rd Grade Class Cookbook. She drew the picture. 😁😁😁😁

      Leave a comment. Please. I'd love to hear from you. What are you doing in preparation for Christmas?

      Saturday, December 3, 2016

      2016 Reading Challenges Complete

      It may be only December 3rd but I have completed all my 2016 reading challenges. Woot. Woot. No last minute cramming in a few more pages to complete a challenge on the last day of the month this year.

      So how did I do and what did I read?

      A. Read all the YMA Winners (YA selections only). Complete!
      1. Michael L. Printz Award (Best YA literature of the year) 
      • Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
      2. Schneider Family Book Award (Teen living with a disability)
      • The Unlikely Hero of Room 13-B by Teresa Toten
      3. Alex Awards -10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences (Pick one of ten)     
      •  Girl at War by Sara Novic; 
        4. Margaret A. Edwards Award (Read one book by the winning author)
        • Name of author David Levithan
        • Title: Will Grayson, Will Grayson; Dash and Lilly's Book of Dares;Lover's Dictionary
        5. Stonewall Children's and Young Adult Literature (LGBT) 
        • Porcupine the Truth by Bill Konigsberg 
        6. William C. Morris Award (First YA novel by author)
        • Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
        7. YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults 
        • Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin
          8. Coretta Scott King Author Award (African American Author) (The winner is a children's book, so select one of the Honor Books)
          •  X: a Novel by Iliyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon
          9. Pura Belpre (Latino Author) 
          • Enchanted Air by Margarite Engle
          B. Read all the Printz Award and Honor books from 2016 (Complete!)
          Award winner:
          • Bone Gap by Laura Ruby---read June 13, 2015
          Honor books:
          • The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick----read May 11, 2015
          • Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez---read January 28, 2016
          C. Read Pulitzer Prize books---4 completed
          • The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
          • The Yearling by Marjorie Rawles
          • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
          • The Sympathizer by Viet Nguyen
          D. Read Classics by Women Authors---8 completed
          1. The Yearling by Marjorie Rawling (1938)/Jan. 13, 2016
          2. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (1920)/April 16, 2016
          3. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (1939)/June 19, 2016
          4. West With the Night by Beryl Markham (1942)/June 24, 2016
          5. A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O'Connor (1955)/July 7, 2016
          6. The Splendid Outcome by Beryl Markham (1987)/ July 24, 2016
          7. Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen (1937)/ October 23, 2016
          8. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868)/ November 27, 2016

          E. Goodreads Challenge: Goal: read 105 books for the year. I've read 111 so far!

          This year I focused on reading challenges that advanced my interests and ongoing challenges and I'm feeling really good about what I accomplished. Eight classics and four Pulitzers feels especially good. Since I am always looking for Printz Award winners many of the books on the first and second challenge I had already read in 2015 before turning the calendar page to 2016. It feels a little like cheating but it will be an ongoing situation. When the 2017 Youth Media Awards are announced, I will have already read many of the books. The one challenge I love and I missed this year, Austen in August, was postponed until September and, as you know, I was too slammed that month to participate in a reading challenge.

          Looking forward to 2017:
          Since this year felt just about right to me in terms of reading challenges, I will stick with a similar plan for 2017. I want to continue to read off my Classics and Pulitzer lists. I will read all the YMA winners and the Printz award and honor books, and hopefully this year 'Austen in August' will be in August so I can join in. 

          Thursday, December 1, 2016

          Little Women...a retrospective

          As a young girl I adored Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. I must have been in 5th or 6th grade when I read it. I remember laying on my bed with book in hand dreaming of the life that the March sisters led, pining for a time I would never know. I loved Jo the most. I wanted to be Jo, so sure of herself and so talented, yet fun-loving, independent, and strong. If I was Jo then I thought of my older sister Kathy, as Meg. She was much better looking than me and more feminine, like Meg. My younger sister, Grace, had to be Amy, and in a way she is. Grace is very creative (we could call it artistic) and she does have blonde hair just like Amy. There was no Beth in our family, but that was fine with me since Beth dies and I didn't want anyone in my family to die. My brother, Tony, could be Lawrence (Teddy). He was always willing to play with his sisters if there were no male playmates around and he and I always had good romps when we played in the swimming pool or outdoors. We weren't a perfect match for the March family but if we scrunched we could sort of fit into the slots provided by these literary characters.

          With these happy memories to look back on I was thrilled when Little Women was selected as my Classics Club Spin book. Surely a book I loved so much as child should warm my heart as an adult. In fact, I couldn't remember if I had read the unabridged or abridged version of the book first time around so I looked forward to reading the whole unabridged book this time around, all 500+ pages of it. I checked out the library copy of the book and I also cued up the audiobook on my computer. Last summer I got a free download from SYNC and I hadn't listened to any of it yet. First glitch, I couldn't figure out how to transfer the file from my computer to my iPod. Bummer, that meant if I wanted to listen to it I was tethered to my computer. Reading the print version was an option but I already had three (or was it four) books I needed to finish for book club and other projects. All of this I tell you just to make the point that I got off to a rough and a late start.

          Right from the epigraph I knew that my childhood memory of the book wasn't going to hold up.
          Go then, my little Book, and show to all/That entertain and bid thee welcome shall, /What thou dost keep close shut up in thy breast; /And wish what thou dost show them may be blest/To them for good, may make them choose to be/ Pilgrims better, by far, than thee or me./ Tell them of Mercy; she is one/Who early hath her pilgrimage begun./ Yea, let young damsels learn of her to prize/The world which is to come, and so be wise;/ For little tripping maids may follow God/ Along the ways which saintly feet have trod. 
          Apparently Louisa May Alcott was making a point right from the start that all the work-a-day stories in the book about the sisters were not nearly as important as the religious messages she would be delivering therein (Shmoop). And to say there is a preaching tone to the book is stating it mildly. As a child I missed all the literary allusions to Pilgrims Progress and knew nothing about the Transcendentalists ideals. As an adult I felt clobbered over the head by them.

          With these thoughts in mind I wonder what is it that makes Little Women so special? Why is it even considered a classic? After consulting Shmoop I found a few answers to my query. It is consider the classic book for girls. Why? Probably because every girl whoever reads it does exactly what I did as a child---fit, or tries to fit, her family into the pages of the book. We all know people exact like Jo, and Meg, and Amy.  We may even know a few sweet Beths. We all wish we had mothers like Marmee and families who lived up to their ideals even if it means they forgo earthly riches. We want friends like Laurie and opportunities for creative pursuits.

          The first 23 chapters of Little Women were published in 1868 and it is largely accepted that these chapters were based on Louisa May Alcott's life. These chapters seem so real because they probably were quite true. The second half of the book, chapters 24-47, were originally published a year later in 1869 in a book called Good Wives. The reading public demanded that Alcott continue the story of the four sisters into adulthood. Everyone wanted to know if Jo and Laurie would end up together. "Without her own life experiences, the second part of the novel may feel less realistic. However, no amount of fan-mail could force Alcott to marry off the two main characters in the way her readers expected" (Shmoop).

          In addition to being the quintessential girl book, it holds up well to the scrutiny of English teachers over the ages with all kinds of themes, literary allusions, and literary spin-offs. I pity the poor boy who ever had to study this book in class, though I dare say it is unlikely to happen in this generation. High School English teachers no longer have the luxury to teach long books and students, with a few rare exceptions, are unlikely to select them for their own enjoyment.

          In a funny coincidence, the day I finished Little Women this week I opened up Google to find this picture as their Google Doodle of the day, since it was Louisa May Alcott's 184th birthday.

          Google Doodle from Nov. 29, 2016

          Am I glad I read Little Women again even though it didn't 'wow' me the way it did when I was a kid? YES. Will I read it again? UNLIKELY. Will I recommend it to readers of the future? YOU BET. It holds a special place in American Literature and always will. "Aside from moral lessons, historical significance, and the sheer enjoyment of reading, Alcott's novel includes a well-drawn cast of characters that are still familiar to us (Shmoop). Hopefully these characters will be our friends for life.

          Shmoop Editorial Team. "Little Women." Shmoop. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 1   Dec. 2016.

          Monday, November 28, 2016

          Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

          Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter is nothing like I thought it would be. Actually, I don't know what I thought it would be but it wasn't like anything I've ever read before and it was really, really weird, so that counts as unexpected, right? Before I reached page 50 there was no way I was going to finish it...it was too weird and I couldn't figure out what was going on. But I have this thing about not abandoning books before a good, heartfelt try so I read on. By page 100 I could see the potential and I was completely confused. It was still weird. By page 150 I was hooked and reading as fast as I could to figure out how this weird tale was going to work out.

          Let's see, what was so weird about it?
               To begin with, Vassa, the main character, has a little doll which lives under her clothes and has a huge appetite. She also steals things.
               Then there is a store which spins and moves up and down deciding to allow or not allow entrance.
               The store is guarded by a motocycling portion of the night.
               And, of course since it is from a Russian fairy tale, there is a witch with a name close to Baba Yaga and lots of swans. I am not familiar with the fairy tale it retells: Vassilissa the Beautiful.

          What I liked about the book.
               Well, it was unpredictable.  Ever feel like you are reading the same story over and over? Not this time.
               The characters grew on me. Even the detached hands that do the witch's dirty work.
               I knew everything was going to be OK in the end, but I had no idea how we were going to get there. So I was satisfied with the entirety of the tale.

          Will I recommend it to other readers? Why not? But I will add a caveat about how weird it is and how the reader will need to be patient to allow the story to unfold.

          Here is what a few other readers (from Goodreads) had to say about Vassa in the Night:
          This is one of those books that I absolutely loved but I'd hesitate before rushing out to recommend it. Because it's weird. No, seriously, it's REALLY weird.---Emily May
          Well that was COMPLETELY BIZARRE...but in a good way! You know what makes sense in this book? Absolutely nothing. Welcome to Russian foklore!  ---Cait from Paper Fury
          This book was so bizarre. Magical realism in YA, at its finest. Bizarre, but intriguing. ---Alyssa 
          This is what a YA book should be -- dark, specific, weird... Vassa lives in a dystopian futuristic Brooklyn with Erg, the doll who lives in her pocket. There is so much wonderful imagery. The perilous journey Vassa must take to Baba Yar's convenience store, the scuttling helpers there. The whole thing is like Tim Burton meets Judy Bloom in a Salvador Dali painting. Or maybe Madeline L'Engle meets Fellini. Whichever: read and love. ---Elizabeth Gold
          This is probably one of the weirdest books I have ever read and I can tell you it is so worth the read. ---Michelle
          This was so, so weird. I enjoyed the hell out of it!---Petra 
          See? I am not alone. Weird, but wonderful. Oddly fantastic. Read it, I dare you, but be sure to keep an open mind...weirdness guaranteed.

          Sunday, November 27, 2016

          Sunday Salon, Nov. 27th

          Sunrise  November 26, 2016. Photo by Nancy Nelson. Used with permission

          Sunrise and Mt. Rainier. Nov. 26, 2016. Photo by Nancy Nelson. Used with permission
          Weather: Overcast and sprinkling rain.

          Spectacular sunrise: Saturday morning we awoke to the most spectacular sunrise. See the photos above taken by a friend, Nancy Nelson, from her house, which is not far from here.

          Thanksgiving: We hosted dinner this year. There were thirteen of us, just enough that we had to split into two tables. It was a lovely day and meal with everyone contributing something but by the end of the evening I was completely spent. I crawled away from the party around 9 PM and fell exhausted into bed. Wednesday evening we all attended a multi-congregational worship service to thank God for our many blessings. The front of the church was festooned with symbols of plenty and reminders of God's bounty. See photo below.

          Football: It was not a good weekend for our teams: The UO Ducks lost to their rivals OSU Beavers and the WSU Cougars lost to their rivals UW Huskies. The Husky win means they will go on and play for the conference championship, which will make people around here happy. Don started wearing his Seahawks jersey later in the day in hope that they would win their game today. Ha.

          Books and reading: I brought home several books from school on Tuesday, hoping I'd have enough time to get away and read a bit over the holiday weekend. That did not happen. I seem to be just plodding along in the books I've been reading for weeks now:

          • Little Women...I have a goal of finishing this book for my Classics Club Challenge by Dec. 1st. It may be a race to see which happens first: the turning of the calendar page or the finishing of this long, classic, children's book. 91% complete.
          • Girl at War...a fictional look at what children go through when war hits their country. It is not a light read and I am finding it hard to want to read many pages at a time. 69% complete.
          • The Singing Bones by Shaun Tan...Tan is an artist who created 3-D objects to represent aspects of many of Grimm's Fairy Tales. I am discovering fairy tales I haven't heard before.
          Finished this week:
          • John Ball's In the Heat of the Night by Matt Pelfry...a full cast audio production of the play In the Heat of the Night. Very well done. Look for my review today or tomorrow.
          • Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford...another audiobook and a book club selection. The book had a lot of good messages but I felt it to be too melodramatic. Not a favorite.
          Prayers for: Sharon's mom. She had surgery for an obstructed bowel last week and now is struggling to regain her health.
          Our sanctuary was transformed over the weekend and now we are ready for Advent.

          Today is the first Sunday of Advent. We look forward to the reminder that God loves us and he sent his Son to the earth as a reminder of that love. Maybe I'll be able to talk Don into helping me get out the holiday house decorations.

          Have a good week, my friends!

          Friday, November 25, 2016

          Lists! 'Tis the Season

          Best Books of 2016 lists

          It may not be December yet but the Best books of the Year lists are starting to show up. I shall attempt to keep a list for you here of as many as I find them. As per usual, my focus shall be on Young Adults but many of these lists are attached to best adult list. All you need to do is trail back on the lists I link.

          1. Publisher's Weekly- Best Children's and Young Adult books.
               The list is divided into Picture Books, Middle Grades, and Young Adults. There are 15 YA books identified, only one is nonfiction.

          2. School Library Journal. Best Books of 2016.
               66 books are listed, they are divided among five categories: Picture books; Chapter books; Middle Grade books; Young Adult books; Nonfiction books. I watched the one hour into to the list on Kid Lit TV and got all excited about many titles. Fifteen YA titles were listed.

          3. National Book Award.
               Young People's Literature division winner: March, Book Three by John Lewis.

          4. Kirkus Prize.
               One winner, and five finalists were listed in the Young Readers category, the two YA titles on the list Burn Baby Burn and The Reader.

          5. Audible (Audiobooks). Best YA audiobooks of the year.
          The Sun is Also a Star is the winner. Honors go to: Anna and Swallow Man; Exit, Pursued by a Bear; Gemina; and The Forgetting.

          6. New York Times 100 Notable books of 2016. None are YA titles. Sigh.

          7. The Washington Post. Best Children's and Young Adult books of the year. The only problem with this list is that there are no Young Adult titles on the list. There are several middle grade titles but nothing for teens.

          This list will be updated as more Best of lists are published.

          Monday, November 21, 2016

          TTT: Ten bookish things I'm grateful for

          Let me pause and just say that this Fall has been rough for me and mine. My brother was diagnosed with serious cancer. iPad deployment was a month-long nightmare at work. My beloved father-in-law abruptly died while on vacation in Arizona. And then the election. Ugh. I am sad, sad, sad over the turn my nation has taken. In light of all these events I still need to pause and gift thanks for so many good things in my life this time a year, specifically (on this blog) for bookish related things, not sure i can come up with ten but I will try.

          Bookish things I am thankful for:

          1. The English teachers and their classes are back! Two years ago our district selected a particular curriculum which de-emphasized reading full-length books and embraced reading segments of books and essays. Almost all the teachers stopped bringing their classes to the library for free-choice books. Last year a few trickled back and this year they are back in greater number than ever before. I am grateful for English teachers who recognize the importance of getting books in students' hands.

          2. For the district tech department that placed filters on the student iPads this school year.  Last year the iPads had no filters and most students spent all their time using the iPads to play games and listen to music. This year kids are finally making their way back to the library and checking out books again after a year hiatus where they almost abandoned books entirely. Finally the iPads are being used for the  purpose they were purchased, to enhance education not to enhance game playing. Whew!

          3. Students who love to read. I had a girl who was so excited today when a book I was holding for her came available. She said last year (1st year of iPads) she just couldn't make room for reading, but this year, "everything else is getting pushed over so there is room for books and reading."

          4. For my Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church book club.  I was at the very first meeting over 21 years ago and been a member ever since. At our last meeting there were 17 members in attendance. We all love God and love books. Wow.

          5. For my RHS Book Club. All nine of us worked together at RHS. Most are retired now, or like me, moved to another school, but we are all Rams and love books. It is so nice to keep this connection going.

          6. For audiobooks so I can share my reading experiences with my husband when we are in the car together.

          7. For public and school libraries. I know I say this every time I get a chance but libraries really are the best bargain around. Use them!

          8. For my fellow librarians locally and nationally. I get so much support from my librarian friends in my district and region, and my blogging librarian friends often offer great suggestions and support, too.

          9. For my library clerk. Sharon works really hard every day and I appreciate all she does for our school and how much she helps me do my job. Thank you.

          10. For all my blogging and Facebook friends who make comments or link me to all things books, reading, and libraries. I'm afraid you all think of me as a one dimensional character but I love you all.

          Happy Thanksgiving everyone (US) and have a good week (International).

          Sunday, November 20, 2016

          Sunday Salon, Nov. 20th

          Weather: overcast and cool. Threatening to rain on and off all day.

          All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and Anne a dull girl. I had one of those weeks that was just crazy busy at work. I double booked myself almost every period for three days in a row. So I not only was busy every period I was also running around every period from class to class. I ended up staying late every day except Wednesday when I had to leave early for my follow-up mammogram (gulp) but they discovered nothing after closer inspection (whew.) I came home every day completely pooped. See what I mean about Anne having a dull week?

          "Look everybody. Look whose back. Again." That is one of our favorite lines from the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". In the movie the grandmother keeps running away and a neighbor brings her back. In our life, we say the line whenever someone is gone for a while and returns. This week it was Ichiro, our fifteen-year-old cat, who disappeared for over 48 hours before returning all bedraggled with a wounded foot. Boy, were we happy to see the old boy. I had already written our girls an email telling them I thought he was gone for good. Glad I was wrong. The photo montage (above) is one photo of him which I manipulated with Waterlogue.

          Thanksgiving this week: We are hosting the dinner this year and plan the traditional meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and sides, and plenty of pies. My parents and sister and her husband are driving up from Eugene, her daughter is flying up from California, a cousin and my aunt are driving down from Seattle, my cousin's daughter and her husband will be here (they live nearby), and so will our daughter and her husband. It will be a full house, but lots of fun. We will miss our youngest daughter who will remain in New York and dine with friends.

          Books read this week:
          • Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter. I attempted to finish this book last Sunday as part of my 24-hour reading/blogging event. I didn't quite get it finished in time but finished it later in the day. It is a weird one but I did end up enjoying it.
          Currently reading:
          • Girl at War by Sara Novic. For an upcoming book club about a girl trapped in the fighting during the Bosnian War. 33% done.
          • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. For my Classics Club challenge. I hope to finish by Dec.1st. 69% finished. Audiobook.
          • Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford. Another audiobook and book club selection. 70% complete.
          Fish Tacos:  A new food obsession of mine is fish tacos and we dined out one day at the local Taco Del Mar and each had two fish tacos then later in the week we successfully made them ourselves, using two recipes, one for cooking the fish and the other for the white sauce.  In my opinion it is the white sauce that makes them extra special, but we did use cabbage, cheese, and pico de gallo along with the fish and sauce. Since we had leftovers, we are having them again today. Yum. Anne Burrell Fish Tacos.  and Wickedly Good Sauce for Fish.

          Have a wonderful week. Even with all the disappointments of this Fall (election results, death of my father-in-law, cancer diagnosis for my brother) I still have so much to be thankful for. Bet you do, too!

          Wednesday, November 16, 2016

          Three short YA reviews

          I am attempting to clean up my inbox and finish up all past due book reviews. Here are three short ones:

          On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis
          Amulet Books, 2016
          Audiobooks by Brillaince Audio, Read by Stephanie Willis
          From the Publisher:
          January 29, 2035. That's the day the comet is scheduled to hit--the big one. Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter outside their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found, and at the rate Denise's drug-addicted mother is going, they'll never reach the shelter in time. A last-minute meeting leads them to something better than a temporary shelter--a generation ship, scheduled to leave Earth behind to colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But everyone on the ship has been chosen because of their usefulness. Denise is autistic and fears that she'll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister? When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?
          My thoughts: We listened to this audiobook on two different long trips, separated by a week.  That and some of the production decisions of the audiobook really detracted from my enjoyment of this book. Perhaps I would have liked it more had I read the print edition. Other reviewers talk about the exciting, almost thrilling post apocalyptic nature of the Sci-Fi drama. I thought the strength of the book was in the characterization of Denise, an autistic teen. Denise is a deeply complex character who is very self-aware of her autism and how it impacts her life. "It's unsurprising that Duyvis, autistic herself, draws a superbly nuanced portrait of Denise as person (not a collection of pitiable autism tropes or cure narratives), but what makes this a winner is the nerve-wracking adventure" (KirkusReviews). 

          Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

          Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse
          Little, Brown, and Company, 2016
          Hachette Audio, read by Natalia Payne
          From the Publisher:
           Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days procuring and delivering sought-after black market goods to paying customers, her nights hiding the true nature of her work from her concerned parents, and every waking moment mourning her boyfriend, who was killed on the Dutch front lines when the Germans invaded. She likes to think of her illegal work as a small act of rebellion. On a routine delivery, a client asks Hanneke for help. Expecting to hear that Mrs. Janssen wants meat or kerosene, Hanneke is shocked by the older woman's frantic plea to find a person--a Jewish teenager Mrs. Janssen had been hiding, who has vanished without a trace from a secret room. Hanneke initially wants nothing to do with such dangerous work, but is ultimately drawn into a web of mysteries and stunning revelations that lead her into the heart of the resistance, open her eyes to the horrors of the Nazi war machine, and compel her to take desperate action.
          My thoughts: Another audiobook which I listened to with my husband on a trip to Oregon and back. Initially we both thought it was going to be a mash up of The Diary of Anne Frank and The Hiding Place, both Holocaust stories from The Netherlands. Although there is a missing girl who was hiding, The Girl in the Blue Coat is really a mystery, with a lot of history mixed in. Where is the girl and how did she disappear? A long the way we learn more details about resistance work in The Netherlands during WWII, such as how babies and young children were squirreled away right under the noses of the Nazi guards and placed in homes with Dutch families. It always surprises me that new information is still coming out about the Holocaust over seventy years after the war has ended. This book is appropriate for younger teens, 13-16 years old.

          Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

          The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian
          Simon and Schuster, 2016
          From the Publisher:
          The Last Boy and Girl in the World is a stunning new novel about a girl who must say goodbye to everything she knows after a storm wreaks havoc on her hometown. What if your town was sliding underwater and everyone was ordered to pack up and leave? How would you and your friends spend your last days together? While the adults plan for the future, box up their possessions, and find new places to live, Keeley Hewitt and her friends decide to go out with a bang. There are parties in abandoned houses. Canoe races down Main Street. The goal is to make the most of every minute they still have together. And for Keeley, that means taking one last shot at the boy she's loved forever.  It's the end of Aberdeen, but the beginning of Keeley's first love story. It just might not turn out the way she thought. Because it's not always clear what's worth fighting for and what you should let become a memory.
          My thoughts: I bought this book for my library based on the summary from the publisher (above). It sounds so good and interesting. And maybe the book is good for teens but to an adult (me) the characters are too selfish and childish to like or even to cheer on. Everything in their town is being destroyed and everyone has to move and move out quickly, in weeks. The school year isn't quite over so graduation is canceled, the principal leaves town even before the last day of school, and the building is dismantled in days. Yet, kids go out and slip and slide in their swimsuits and make hay while it rains on. I just couldn't square it in my mind...if this were reality things just can't move that fast and kids aren't really that selfish and self-absorbed. Only one student has checked the book out so far and I haven't talked to him to see what he thought of the book. I hope he liked it better than I did.

          Rating: 2 of 5 stars.