"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=========

Monday, January 31, 2011

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading is hosted by One Persons Journey through a world of Books. Each week we spotlight the books we are reading, planning on reading or just finished reading.

What I'm currently reading:
Jane by April Lindner  I just started this book so I don't have an opinion yet.  Here is how Goodreads describes the book: "Part irresistible romance and part darkly engrossing mystery, this contemporary retelling of the beloved classic Jane Eyre promises to enchant a new generation of readers." I am very excited to dig in.

What I'm currently listening to on audiobooks:
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly.  From Goodreads: "Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. " I am nearly 1/4th of the way into this story and Andi hasn't discovered Alexandrine's diary yet.  She'd better do it soon because I am sick of the Andi who has a "whiny, depressed, bratty girl" persona.  I want to get on with the story and more about the French Revolution and less about unhappy Andi.

What I just finished reading:
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.  I have no doubt that this will be my favorite book club selection of the whole year. As Verghese said, he wanted to write a book about medicine and he has done it with a marvelous setting (Ethiopia) and a wonderful cast of characters.  I highly recommend this book to any adult readers, especially for book groups.  You will want to talk about this book when you are done.

What is up next:
Mudbound by Hillary Jordan.  I am really excited to get started on this book.  It is considered by some to be one of the best debut books of the decade.

Have you read any of these?  What are your thoughts about them?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Alchemist: a Graphic Novel by Paulo Coelho

Back in the early 1990s I accidentally read The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho mistaking it for The Archivist by Martha Cooley, which was that month's book club selection. I remember thinking that it was a wonderful, allegorical tale and I looked forward to discussing it with others. That didn't happen, thanks to my mistake. Since that time both of my daughters have read the book for an English class assignment, most of my friends have read and enjoyed it, and it is the summer reading assignment for the in-coming senior class at my school. In all that time this is my first rereading of the book. I chose to read the Graphic Novel version, published in 2010, as I just purchased it for the library and wanted to know how true it was to the original story. Coelho said that he had long wanted a graphic adaptation for his tale but until he now he did not find a publisher or a design team that met his standards. This book, published by Sea Lion Books, was adapted by Derek Ruiz and illustrated by Daniel Samphere, is spot on! It catches all the main themes and adds a beautiful visual aspect to the story.

Here is the book's trailer:

Here are some interesting tidbits of information that I learned about the book from Wikipedia:
-The book was originally published in Portuguese in 1988.
-It has now been translated into over 65 languages, the most of any book with a living author.
-There has never been a big marketing campaign set up to sell the book, rather, most people select it based on a word-of-mouth recommendation from a friend.

The main theme of the book: To find your treasure you must discover and follow your own personal legend. "Those who don't understand their personal legends will fail to comprehend its teachings;" and "When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it."

Even though I am not a huge graphic novel fan, I enjoyed this adaptation of The Alchemist very much and can recommend it without reservation.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Incarceron -- a futuristic prison, sealed from view, where the descendants of the original prisoners live in a dark world torn by rivalry and savagery... A young prisoner, Finn, has haunting visions of an earlier life, and cannot believe he was born here and has always been here. In the outer world, Claudia, daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, is trapped in her own form of prison -- a futuristic world constructed beautifully to look like a past era, an imminent marriage she dreads. She knows nothing of Incarceron, except that it exists. But there comes a moment when Finn, inside Incarceron, and Claudia, outside, discover each other. -from Goodreads
Wow, where do authors come up with their imaginative ideas? Prisons that think. Society picking a time period to copy and then live in that lifestyle or protocol. People and animals partially made up of recycled parts. Incarceron by Catherine Fisher is a wonderful, exciting, and ingenious story.  I listened to it in the audiobook format and found myself transported to this magical land every time I jumped in my car for the past few weeks. Often I didn't want to get out of the car when I arrived at my destination.  The story had me in its grip.

Amazon.com selected Incarceron as a best book for February 2010.  Here is what they said: "The shifting landscapes, unexpected plot punches, and bold, brave characters found in Catherine Fisher's Incarceron are nothing short of thrilling: fans of Garth Nix and Suzanne Collins will take to this epic, twisty fantasy instantly, but it's also the kind of book that will draw in the most hesitant fantasy reader."  I sure have found this to be true in my library.  I can't keep the book on the shelf and students are clamoring to line up to get it next.  Kids appreciate good stories and this book is a wonderful tale that sets us up for its sequel, Sapphique, that was released in December.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I'm not going to finish it...

As a New Year's resolution I decided that I was going to finish ten books that I had started but didn't finish in 2010. So far I have checked off two books from that list. Not bad. It is still only January. So today I settled down with the next book on my list, As Easy as Falling of the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins.

My reading of this book was interrupted when I handed to book over to a student who was looking for a funny book. Since then I've been carrying it around with me hoping for another chance to pick it back up. That day was today. I settled in to my new favorite reading chair, cat on the arm of the chair, and a fire roaring nearby. I start paging through, trying to remember where I left off, decided on a spot and started reading. Then, what the heck, I must have fallen asleep because I swear I just read those pages...skip ahead to where I was...start reading, and whoa, how did I get that far so fast? Take a closer look. The publisher made a big boo-boo on this book. I read to page 201 then it jumps back to page 179 and starts again until page 210 where it skips ahead to page 245. No wonder the kid thought the book was funny...but not that kind of funny.

I now can officially give myself permission to not finish this book. In fact, I think I'll throw the book away.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Read my Review Wednesday

A Trillion Books hosts this weekly meme:  Read My Review.

This is my first time participating and I am so happy to find this site.  I love to read others reviews and wish that more people would read mine.  I always get lots of comments when I participate in memes but few comments on my reviews.

Here is the review that I did on the fabulous Printz Honor book:  Please Ignore Vera Dietz

Please let me know what you like/don't like about my review style.  I always try to keep my reviews short and I will rarely include any spoilers or even too much of the storyline.

Follow Friday

Hosted by Parajunkee

Follow Friday

Today's honoree is Logan E. Turner so hop on over and visit her site after you take a minute to look around here. If you like what you see, please follow me and I'll do the same for you.

The question of the day:

Who do you cheer for?

That's easy:  Oregon Ducks Football!  I attended UO when the football team was horrible.  Now it is so much fun to go to a game, plus I love watching Duckie, our mascot.

I LOVE MY DUCKS! (Return of the Quack by Supwitchugirl)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing by Ann Angel

Forty years after her death, Janis Joplin still fascinates. During a remarkable music career spanning hardly more than three years, she soared to the heights of rock-and-roll fame with a blues-inflected voice and an electric stage presence that could set a stadium on its feet.  Then suddenly, at age twenty-seven, she was gone. Her tragic death by drug overdose has become an iconic example of the price of fame, yet, as author Ann Angel shows, it was more complicated than that. -from the book jacket
I've always had a sort of voyeuristic fascination with celebrities who died young, especially those who died from drug overdoses.  So when I saw that this book, about the life and death of Janis Joplin, won the YALSA Award for Excellence in Non-fiction  for Young Adults last week I knew I had to get it for my library and I knew that I had to read it. The book arrived today and I read it the same day. “From the cover art and the interior design to the compelling personal narrative, this is a pearl of a book,” said YALSA Nonfiction Award Chair Don Latham. I agree.

Sometimes when I read nonfiction I really want to dig deep into a subject and to learn as much as I can, other times I just want to get a bit of information and to be entertained at the same time.  This book falls into the second category.  I didn't want to know every minute detail of Janis Joplin's short life, I just wanted to learn a little bit.  What kind of person was she is high school?  What kind of training did she receive to be able to sing with that unique blues voice that so captivated her audiences? Why did she use drugs and why was she so insecure?  The book answered all my questions and entertained me with photos and artwork related to her life and career. It was perfect for my level of interest.

I confess that I came home from work today to see if I had any Janis Joplin on my iTunes. Nope.  So I went to the iTunes music store and listened to four or five snippets of her most popular songs.  Yup, that gal could sing. What a pity that she died so young.  But on the other hand, perhaps we still like her because she did.  Who knows?  If you have even the tiniest bit of interest in the life of Janis Joplin, I recommend this book. It is worth the hour or two it will take to read it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Top Ten Inspirational Literary Characters

The Broke and Bookish
Top Ten Inspirational Literary Characters

1. Melanie Wilkes from Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
She always seems to do what is right and what is needed at the time; she stayed loyal and kind to bad-girl Scarlett who wanted to steal her husband.

2.  Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The respectful way that he represents Tom Robinson, treats his neighbors, even the nasty Mrs. DuBois, and the thoughtfulness he uses with his children. This is a book about conscience.  We all can use more of it!

3.  August Boatwright from The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
"August created an alternate religion for herself and her friends based around a statue of a black Mary that has been passed through generations of her family. She teaches Lily about this religion and spirituality in general, as well as about beekeeping and love."  -Sparknotes

4. Jeremiah Land from Peace like a River by Lief Enger
"Jeremiah, a school janitor, is a man of faith who quietly performs miracles – one of which is to bring Reuben [his son] to life after his lungs failed to inflate when he was born. Reuben is the only one who ever sees or notices these miracles; he concludes that he is meant to be a witness to them."  -Wikipedia

5.  Anne Elliott from Persuasion by Jane Austen
To my mind the most inspiring of all Austen's characters, Anne is counted on my others for her thoughtfulness, practicality and unselfish ways.

6.  Morrie Morgan from Whistling Season by Ivan Doig
Morrie was the man pressed into service as a teacher in a one-room school house.  His teaching methods were unorthodox but inspired Paul so much that 50 years later he could recall the impact that Morrie had on his life.

7.  Corrigan from Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
Corrigan is the very selfless Catholic brother who loves the unlovable and inspires everyone to be their better selves.  "Corrigan told me once that Christ was quite easy to understand. He went where He was supposed to go. He stayed where He was needed. He took little or nothing along, a pair of sandals, a bit of a shirt, a few odds and ends to stave off the loneliness. He never rejected the world. If He had rejected it, He would have been rejecting mystery. He would have been rejecting faith."-p. 20

8.  Jane Eyre from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
"Charlotte Brontë's heroine towers over those around her, morally, intellectually and aesthetically; she's completely admirable and compelling." -100 favourite fictional characters

9.  Aslan from the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
The benevolent creator of Narnia.  Every action and word from Aslan is inspiring to me.
“'They say Aslan is on the move - perhaps has already landed.' And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different... At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside" -The Lion, Witch , and the Wardrobe, Chapter 7.

10.  Oskar Schindler from Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally
Schindler is credited with saving the lives of over 1200 Jews during the Holocaust. "His extraordinary story might have died with him but for their [survivors] gratitude. In trying to answer the inevitable question, why did he do it, one of the survivors said: 'I don't know what his motives were... But I don't give a damn. What's important is that he saved our lives.' Perhaps the question is not why he did it, but rather how could he not. And perhaps the answer is unimportant. It is his actions that matter now, testimony that even in the worst of circumstances, the most ordinary of us can act courageously. If Oskar Schindler, flawed as he was, did it, then so might we, and that is reason enough to hope." -Jewish Virtual Library

I love a good book where one or more of the characters speaks to my better instincts and encourages me to think and act on a higher plane.  Who are some literary characters who inspire you?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

What we have here is a perfect title for a book, Please Ignore Vera Dietz or it could be Please Ignore, Vera Dietz. Either way, there is a whole lot of ignoring going on in this book, but fortunately for us and for Ms. King, the Printz selection committee did not ignore this book as it was selected as a Printz Honor book last week.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz  made it onto my radar too late to add it to my Mock Printz list of books but one reader, who checked out the book from another library, told me that she thought this book could possibly be the year's winner.  After reading it I see why.  There are several really cool literary things that happen in this book.  First we know right from the start that Vera Dietz's best friend Charlie is dead and he probably died from questionable circumstances. We also know that Vera is ignoring what she knows and is stuffing her feelings by drinking and being perpetually busy.  The story of Charlie and Vera's friendship evolves through short chapters from earlier events in their lives. Fortunately, since there is so much movement back and forth in time, the chapter titles leave very little question what time period and date the event occurs in.  For example one chapter is titled: "History-Age Thirteen-Summer." The chapter titles even tell us who will be the narrator of the chapter: Vera, Charlie (even though he's dead), Ken Dietz (Vera's dad), and even the Pagoda (yes, a building!)

A second cool literary device it uses is how Vera incorporates the vocabulary words she is learning for her English class into the context of the story.  But she doesn't do it sneaky like some SAT prep book might, she does it right out front: "Here's me using exacerbate in a sentence. Greg thinks he helps on busy nights, but really, he only exacerbates the problem." (p. 152)

Another thing that A.S. (Amy) King does that seems to be a winning combination for Printz selection, she uses literary allusions to a classic book, Lord of the Flies.  Not many but just enough to give the book a bit of authority and let us know that her character Vera is no academic slough. But, come to think of it, Lord of the Flies is one of those books I never read in school and should have, so perhaps there are more allusions to it that I didn't catch.  I believe there is a challenge for me in this paragraph! Hm..m..

Now I challenge you to read it and see what you think.  I should warn you, however, to keep a hankie nearby.  You may need it.  I did.

*This book is part of the Printz Project Challenge and also one of the 10 books I hoped to get to in 2011.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

What me? Stylish?

 Thank you very much Kat over at A Journey in Reading honored me today with this blogger award.  I am always humbled when I get an award because I never feel worthy.

1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award!

So let's see...seven things about me?
1.  I went to the University of Oregon (The Ducks!) and was thrilled that our football team did so well this year.  It is not an insult if you Quack at me.
2.  I love my job as a high school librarian even though I have a few kids who are "addicted" to my book recommendations.  Three kids in the last two weeks have told me that they won't read a book unless I recommend it.  My-my.
3.  I got my sister a darling black Pomeranian for Christmas through a very weird series of events.  The dog looks just like Duchess in The Pie and Patty Pan by Beatrix Potter.
4.  My husband and I are famous, within the family anyway, for our BBQ salmon and marinade.
5.  I dressed up like Mother Superior for the Sound of Music Sing-a-long in Seattle on New Year's Day.  Fun and funny.
6.  I consider myself to be a Janite (a huge Jane Austen fan.)
7.  I'm in two all-female book clubs.
My family and I at the Sound of Music Sing-a-long.

Blogs I am bestowing the stylish award on:
Two Bilbliomaniacs
Miss Remmers' Review
Coffee and Crackers
Book Junkie's Bookshelf
Taming the Bookshelf
Owl Review a Book
Helen's Book Blog
The Elliott Review
My Reader's Block
DeRaps Reads
Writing from the Tub
Book Love

Friday, January 14, 2011

Am I really signing up for another challenge? Talk me down!

Reading from My Shelves Project
Here are the details if you are interested (or so you'll know what I am going to attempt to do):

* Challenge runs from January 1 - December 31, 2011.
* Read books from your own shelves, and then pass the books on to someone else: a friend, relative, the library, used book store, swap them, just as long as the book leaves your house once it has been read.
* Decide on your goal (12 is the minimum - no maximum). Cross over books are allowed.  My goal is 12 and I will for sure cross over with other challenges.

Here is a picture of several of the books I rounded up without looking very hard. All shall be in contention to help me meet this challenge---

Notice the Raggedy Ann and Andy book in there?  I actually had to have one that I know I am going to read. Notice also that several books still have their price receipts still hanging out of the book?  Why did I buy if I wasn't planning on reading immediately?  Am I crazy for signing up for another challenge? Talk me down!  Please!

Follow Friday

  1. Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Host { Parajunkee.com } and any one else you want to follow on the list
  2. Follow our Featured Bloggers - http://annettesbookspot.blogspot.com/
  3. Answer the question: 

    What makes up your non-human family??

Muffy- Cardigan Welsh Corgi  (Clown dog! She is sitting up hoping for a treat here.)

Ichiro- (Ichi for short)- Tiger-striped cat (only likes my daughters and was very naughty scratching the living room rug over the holidays. But he looks very sweet here.)

Demiter- (Demi for short)- White long-hair cat (has one blue and one gold eye, she sleeps with me and can be a doll or a pill)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Learning to Swim: a Memoir by Ann Turner

"Listen I am trying
to remember everything
because it keeps coming back 
like a skunk dog
on the porch
whining to get in,
and I'm afraid
if I don't let it in
it will never
go away."
          -Listen by Ann Turner

The skunk dog on the porch is sexual abuse and this moving memoir, written all in verse, is part of a cathartic process that Ann Turner went through to rid herself of the demons caused by the event.  In the note at the end of the book Turner explains: "When I first started these poems it was terribly painful, like eating ground glass.  But at the same time, when they came pouring out of my heart and through my flying fingers, I felt washed, cleansed, and somehow renewed."

This short 100 page memoir is divided into three sections:
Sailing- arriving at the cabin on the lake with her family; preparing for a summer of fun.
Sinking- a neighborhood boy rapes her and warns her not to tell a soul.
Swimming- she eventually does tell and the adults in her life gather round to help, love, and to teach her how to swim.

Not a cheery subject, to be sure, but the book is very powerful especially in its message of the importance of telling a trusted adult so that the abuse will stop.  I will keep this book in mind when I have need of it for special referrals.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

I'm a hypocrite when it comes to fantasy books. I say, when asked, that I don't usually read or like fantasy books; they're not my style. But lately I have found myself reading a lot more fantasy and generally I like it. I think one of the problems to starting fantasy books or fantasy series, as most fantasy books are part of a series, is they are usually so massive, they are just daunting to start. Though not completely daunting at 400 pages, Finnikin of the Rock,  by Melina Marchetta, was a hard book for me to start and also to "get into". I read well over 100 pages before I felt any kind of rhythm with the book and it was probably around page 200 before I actually felt compelled to keep reading.  As I was contemplating this I was struck by a thought.  I think the reason that almost all fantasy books are long, part of a series, or hard to "get into"  is because the author is compelled to introduce us to almost everything---lands, language, gods, people, creatures, even food and clothing.  Suddenly it made perfect sense to me why I have such a hard time getting started in these books, I am not always sure I feel like doing all the work required to pay attention to all those details.

That said, once I made it through the introduction to the land and characters in Finnikin of the Rock I settled in to read a highly imaginative and exciting tale.
Ten years before the story’s start, assassins crept into the kingdom of Lumatere and murdered the royal family, with the possible exception of Balthazar, heir to the throne. As rumors circulated that Balthazar survived, a mystic cast a curse that created a magical barrier around the kingdom and prevented thousands who had fled from returning. Marchetta focuses her tale on 19-year-old Finnikin, the son of a former royal guard, who is serving in exile as an apprentice to Sir Topher, a former adviser to the murdered king. While aiding refugees, they meet a young novice who can enter others’ dreams and claims that Balthazar has chosen Finnikin to “take his people home.”-Booklist
The main characters are multi-faceted, intriguing, and worth rooting for.  Their dialogue is interesting and enlightening. The action exciting and the budding romance is tender and sweet. This book was the favorite book of my Mock Printz team and many students were very disappointed that it didn't win any of the ALA Awards handed out this week.  There is a lot to like in Finnikin of the Rock, especially for fantasy fans.

*I listened to this novel in audio book format.

Monday, January 10, 2011

2011 Printz Awards announced today!

The 2011 Printz Award books (along with 15 other awards) were announced today. This is a list of the Printz Award and Honor books:

The 2011 Printz Award goes to:

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
In a futuristic world, teenaged Nailer scavenges copper wiring from grounded oil tankers for a living, but when he finds a beached clipper ship with a girl in the wreckage, he has to decide if he should strip the ship for its wealth or rescue the girl. (Read my review here:)

 The 2011 Printz Honor books are:

Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick
Fourteen-year-old Sig is stranded at a remote cabin in the Arctic wilderness with his father, who died just hours earlier after falling through the ice, when a terrifying man arrives, claiming Sig's father owes him a share of a horde of stolen gold and that he will kill Sig if he does not get his money.  (Read my review here:)

Nothing by Janne Teller
When thirteen-year-old Pierre Anthon leaves school to sit in a plum tree and train for becoming part of nothing, his seventh grade classmates set out on a desperate quest for the meaning of life.
(Read my review here:)

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
When her best friend, whom she secretly loves, betrays her and then dies under mysterious circumstances, high school senior Vera Dietz struggles with secrets that could help clear his name.

Stolen by Lucy Christopher
Sixteen-year-old Gemma, a British city-dweller, is abducted while on vacation with her parents and taken to the Australian outback, where she soon realizes that escape attempts are futile, and in time she learns that her captor is not as despicable as she first believed. 

Congratulations to all the winners.  
I can genuinely recommend these books since the Printz selection committee always does such a good job selecting excellent books.
 See the whole list of ALA 2011 Youth Media Services Awards here.