"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, November 28, 2011

Top Ten TBR books for winter reading

Broke and Bookish
Ten books I plan to read this winter...
  1. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa--- the first book of the popular Iron Fey series.
  2. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery---I already have it checked out from the library, ready to go.
  3. Fragile Beasts by Tauni O'Dell--- This is a book club selection for January. I've heard good things about it.
  4. Stick by Andrew Smith--- As I've been reading books for my Mock Printz event kids keep telling me how amazing this book is and they think it might be a winner.  I need to read it quick and add it to my list, if it as good as the kids say.
  5. My Name is Not Easy by Debby Edwardson--- This book is coming out with great reviews.  Another Mock Printz contender?
  6. Jane Austen Ruined by Life by Beth Pattillo---Jane Austen books or books with Jane Austen in the title are synonymous with winter for me. I haven't read this one yet and I am eager to get my hands on it.
  7. Mr. Knightley's Diary by Amanda Grange--- See note above.
  8. Evernight by Claudia Gray--- I have lots of students who are absolutely crazy for this series right now. I am determined to find out what all the fuss is about.
  9. Wolves, Boys, and Other Things That Might Kill Me by Kristen Chandler---my daughter just finished this book and she promised me that she would be my guest blogger if I read it first.  Look for that sometime in late December.
  10. Printz Award winners--- the ALA meets in mid-January and announces all their award books for the year.  I will read all the Printz award and honor books that I haven't read already.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday Salon... Nov. 27

On the web: The Ellen Show videos of Sophia Grace and Rosie.  If you haven't seen these two darling girls, take the time now: Ellen Show

I'm thankful for: the days off work to spend at home with my family and for the Adams family who hosted us for Thanksgiving dinner.  We had a lovely time with our daughter's soon-to-be in-laws.
I'm listening to: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.  The 50th anniversary edition. What a funny, delightful tale.

I'm reading: Five Flavors of Dumb by Anthony John--- it seems like I am in a reading funk right now just slowly reading the same book for weeks, or just barely reading it.

Book finished this week: The Giver by Lois Lowry.  I was shamed into reading this dystopian classic and I'm glad I was.

Lists I am making: Christmas gifts.  Argh!  I cannot believe that we are only four weeks out.  I have made a little bit of progress but not much.

Scripture lesson in church: Matthew 2:1-12 "On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him."

I'm praying for: The homeless in our society who have to live outside in such terrible weather and for those who are jobless during this Recession..

Around the house: Christmas decorating this week? I hope so but we haven't done anything yet.

From the kitchen: Split Pea soup made from a leftover ham bone.  A family favorite on cold days.

A favorite quote I laughed about this week: "Expectations is the place you must always go to before you get to where you're going. Of course, some people never go beyond Expectations, but my job is to hurry them along whether they like it or not." -Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Snapshot Saturday... Nov. 26

My poor yard looks so desolate at this time of year. The weather is so grey and depressing. Among all the dead plants and dry leaves is a splash of color...our little apple tree. I think it is funny that the tree hangs on to the apples but drops its leaves.

My husband made a comment when I told him I was going to take a picture of the tree. "The tree we grow for the bugs." We really should spray the tree so we would actually want to eat the apples.  Oh well, they look festive.

Snapshot Saturday is hosted by At Home with Books.

Friday, November 25, 2011

TGIF and Follow Friday...Books For Which I am Thankful

Books For Which I am Thankful...
(TGIF from Greads and Follow Friday from Alison Can Read)

During my childhood:
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle--- This book was my favorite and most important book of my childhood.  I read it over and over and used it repeatedly for reports, etc.  
  • The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis--- This series rocked my world as a child.  All of the symbolism, creativity, and wonderful characters opened my brain to a whole new world.  I still love this series and reread it often.
  • Where the Red Fern Grows by Rawles--- I went through a phase where I only read animal stories.  This was my favorite and it still holds a special place in my heart.  I can cry just thinking about it.
During early adulthood:
  • Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns--- This is the book that brought me back to reading after a long hiatus. It was after reading this book that I helped form a book club and started reading great literature.
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen--- Though I have read many classics, this remains my favorite and it reminds me why great literature is important in my life. It is still one of my all-time favorite books and I reread it every few years.
  • Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver--- This was my first Kingsolver book (read out of order) and my introduction to a favorite author. All of her books speak to my better self.

Audiobooks that are especially delightful:
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, read by Roses Pritchard. I didn't read this book as a child. This audiobook was my introduction to this classic.  It remains my favorite book and favorite audiobook of all times.
  • Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince by J.K. Rowling, read by Jim Dale.  If you haven't listened to a book read by Jim Dale, you are missing one of the highlights of life. My family listened to this audiobook when we took the favorite family car-trip vacation.  We were all enraptured by it.
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie, read by the author. This semi-autobiographical story is both funny and poignant. The experience was heightened by Alexie's unique reading.
 Recent reads for which I'm especially grateful:
  • Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese--- This is my favorite book of 2011. I liked EVERYTHING about it.
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry--- I finally read this classic piece of children's lit. Now I know what all the fuss is about.
  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett--- I think this book is very transformational. I want to encourage everyone to read it.
YA Books that are a cut above:
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green--- I am a John Green fan, so I like everything this author writes.  But if I can talk students into reading his books, it seems to change the way they look at literature, too.  His books are all excellent.  Looking for Alaska was his first book.
  • The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak--- This historical fiction is so well-written, it just blows readers away.
  • Going Bovine by Libba Bray--- Funny, symbolic, and poignant. This book represents the best of the best of recent YA lit.
As a librarian I am very thankful for these series:
  • Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling--- these books have done more for children's/YA literature than any other series, ever!
  • Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer--- a whole new genre was spawned by this series, Paranormal Romance. Many, many students found the joy of reading because of this series and have continued reading after finishing it.
  • The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins--- just when it seemed that reading was going to slip back into an unpopular past-time along came the Hunger Games. Kids love it and now can't get enough of Dystopian lit.

What books are you especially thankful for?

*TGIF followers, forgive me for not following the question of the day.  I wanted to express my thankfulness this week for books, so I actually am answering last week's question now.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Authors I Would Like to Host for Thanksgiving Dinner

Broke and Bookish
Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I'd like to host this Thanksgiving.  Since all live authors have families and friends where they'd rather be, I decided to focus my list on the dead ones.  :)
  1. Jane Austen---I love her books and I know she'd be a delightful guest, where I would no doubt  be able to talk her into finishing her novels, The Watsons and Sanditon. Every Janite in the world would be glad that she came to my house for dinner.
  2. Wallace Stegner---His book Crossing for Safety was one of my early favorites and I liked it even better when I learned what an environmentalist this guy was.
  3. Siobhan Dowd---It makes me sad to think of how Ms. Dowd died so young from cancer, yet she still inspires me.
  4. Robert Cormier---I'd love to have a long "chin-wag" with this author about what it is like to be such a commonly banned author.
  5. William Shakespeare---Hey, why not ask him to dinner and then grill him about all the controversy around his authorship?
  6. Dr. Seuss--- Do you love him? I sure do. I grew up on the Cat in the Hat and Sam-I-Am, too!
  7. Mark Twain--- I would just sit and listen as he spins a yarn.
  8. Madeline L'Engle---I'd finally have the chance to tell her how thankful I am for her books.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

It's Monday, Nov. 21 and I'm reading...

Sheila at Book Journey is the host of this meme.

What I am reading- 
  • Five Flavors of Dumb by Anthony John---A deaf girl is the manager for a Rock Band.  She has to get people interested in the band that she herself has never heard.  This is the last book in the 2011 Read the ALA Winners Challenge for me.  This book won the Schneider Family Teen Book Award which honors novels that deal with the topic of people living with disabilities.
What I recently completed-
  • The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things by Carolyn Mackler--- A Printz Honor book in 2004. A delightful, funny, poignant coming-of-age story about a girl trying to find her way through adolescence with a weight problem and a family that seems perfect. But all is not as it seems.
  • My Abandonment by Peter Rock--- "Inspired by a true story and told through the startlingly sincere voice of its young narrator, Caroline, My Abandonment is a riveting journey into life at the margins and a mesmerizing tale of survival and hope." (Goodreads) Listened to the audio version of this book. This is my book club selection of the month.
  • Forever by Maggie Stiefvater---The third book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series. I feel sad that I have to say good-bye to my friends: Sam, Grace, Cole, and Isabel, now that I am finished with this wonderful trilogy.
What I'm listening to-  
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry---I was shamed in to finally getting started on this book which has been on my TBR pile for years.  So far, so good.  I am actually liking this dystopian novel.  Does something sad happen, though?
What is up next- I am actually starting to mentally make a list of books to checkout for the Thanksgiving holiday. Here are a few I'm hoping to get to:
  • Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery---another source of shame that I haven't read this book yet.
  • The Iron King by Julie Kagawa---The first book in the Iron Fey series is already on my bedside table.
  • The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster--- another childhood classic that I missed in my childhood. This book is celebrating 50 years of publication this year.  It is time that I read it, don't you think?
  • Some teen romance story.  I have more girls than ever that are looking for a good romance book this year and I a keep running out of suggestions. Many are not interested in paranormal romances.  Any ideas or suggestions? 
What are you reading this week?

Friday, November 18, 2011

2011 National Book Award-Young Peoples Lit

Since my last blog post was on Award books I thought it would be timely to note the winner of the 2011 National Book Award-Young People's Literature category is:

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Read all about it at The National Book Association website. I think the book sounds fabulous.  Onto my TBR pile it goes!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

To read old award books or not?

Several years ago I decided to read all the past Printz Award and Honor books. At the time I had read none of them and started down the list with great zeal. Now, six years later, that zeal for reading the past winners has waned, though, over the years, I have completed 41 out of 57 of them. So I've done pretty well. When I began I was a "beginning" librarian and eager to read as many good YA books as I could to make recommendations to my students. I still am, and I read all the current winners, but I must admit to souring a bit on past books because kids want to read the latest and greatest. And I want to stay current and do my best to be familiar with what is available for teen now.

It sounds like I am talking myself out of completing my goal to read ALL Printz award books.  In fact I was darn near that decision until I picked up Carolyn Mackler's book The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things this week and consumed it in two sittings. (Yes, I was reading at work. And yes, I had other things I was supposed to be doing.  But, hey, don't you think reading should be part of a librarian's job description?)
Feeling like she does not fit in with the other members of her family, who are all thin, brilliant, and good-looking, fifteen-year-old Virginia tries to deal with her self-image, her first physical relationship, and her disillusionment with some of the people closest to her.-Book summary in library catalog.
The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things was a Printz Honor book in 2004. Even though there are dated examples of computer usage in the story they aren't distracting enough to wreck the plot. The story is as fresh, funny, poignant, original, relevant, and encouraging in 2011 as I'm sure it was in 2004. This book deserves the award that it won and it deserves to be read and appreciated by teens today. Fortunately for this book the title is an invitation to kids looking for a funny, lighthearted read and it is often checked out. But what about older award books without clever titles?  Hmm...I think I will still continue with my quest to attempt to read all the Printz books. I have found very few that I didn't think were worth the effort.

P.S. For my high school librarian, blogging friends: I created a lesson plan for an English teacher where the kids were required to read an award book. Their graded assignment related not only to the book but to the award.  The teacher dropped in a few days ago and exclaimed that the kids were really responding positively to it.  If you want a copy of my lesson to try at your school, email me at work: abennett(AT)bethelsd(dot)org.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Top Ten Books TBR on the pile the longest

Hosted by The Broke and Bookish
(It seems like I have created a similar list previously so I hope this list of longstanding books on my TBR pile isn't boring to you, dear reader!)

*With updates! I have been shamed in to action today by the comments on the blog.  See the remarks in red.

  1. Five Flavors of Dumb by Anthony John. If I read finish this book before January (I just started it) it won't be quite a year on the list and it will complete my Read the Award Books Challenge. I currently have this book checked out from the library and I've read the first few pages.  It's a start.
  2.  Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. This book was so popular in my library the minute it arrived that I had to stand in line behind the students. After a year I still haven't had that turn yet.
  3.  Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver. My hubby gave me this book for Christmas in 2009 because he knows I am a Kingsolver fan.
  4. Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. I watched the PBS Masterpiece Theater in January of 2009 and bought the book at the time with the resolve to read it. I still want to but... 2+ years.
  5. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett has been on my TBR pile for at least 5 years. I worked with a teacher who was crazy for the book and highly recommended it.
  6. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler---This book has been on my TBR pile for 6+ years and I just finished it today! Finally!!!! I cheated and added a book that I had actually finished.  It wasn't anything like I expected but I did enjoy it a lot.
  7. Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky---I'm in two book clubs and I still haven't read this novel by the famous author who was killed in the Nazi holocaust. I want a good excuse to set aside the needed time to do so. 6+ years.
  8. The Giver by Lois Lowry---I think kids must read this book in late elementary school because everyone but me seems to have read it. I've owned a copy for at least ten years and I still haven't cracked it.  But I am determined to read it soon. I placed a hold on the audio version of this book at the public library.  A copy was available so I should have this book "in the bag" by this time next week.
  9. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry---this book was published in 1995 and has been on my list since at least 2000, so that means it's been on my TBR pile for, um..m..., over 11 years. I think its length is a deterrent to starting.
  10. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery---this book shows up on all my "guilt-ridden" lists. It's been on my list for over 20 years. Gasp! This book was also available in the audio format at my public library so I will listen to it when I am finished with The Giver. I did place a hold on it to insure that I do this...after 20 years one cannot be too careful!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday Salon, Nov. 13, 2011

I'm reading on the web: articles about Occupy Wall Street.  What a mess.  Portland, Oregon tried to be open to the protesters message but had to close down their Occupy Portland because of all the illegal activity and drug overdoses.  Ugh.

I'm thinking about: Where we will be for Thanksgiving this year.  Usually we have plans all hammered down well before this time but for some reason no one in my family is willing to make a specific plan this year which leaves us in a quandry. 

I'm listening to: Forever by Maggie Stiefvater.  This is the third book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series.  I love the audiobook version because it has multiple readers, a different for each part.

I'm reading: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. I confess to being a bit stalled out on this one.

Book reviewed this week: Divergent by Veronica Roth, Habibi by Craig Thompson, and Chime by Franny Billingsley.

Lists I am making: Gifts I want to get wrapped up before I see my family next week-end so that I can avoid mailing all the Christmas presents this year.  I purchased most of my gifts this year at the Global/Fair Trade market we held at my church last week-end..

Scripture lesson in church: John 21. "Simon Peter, do you love me?" "You know I do, Lord." "Then feed my sheep."

I'm praying for: My friend Cindy whose elderly mother and sick brother have moved in with her.

Around the house: My daughter decided on her wedding dress and has ordered it.  The whole family drove to Seattle Friday afternoon for a late afternoon appointment, so all of us got to see the dress and weigh in with our thoughts.  Don cried when the decision was finally made, just overcome by emotions.  It is becoming very real for us that our baby is getting married.

From the kitchen: Stir fried vegetables and beef, Thai style.  Quite spicy and tasty.

A favorite quote I laughed about this week: "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."
Douglas Adams

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Divergent by Veronica Roth

I predict that Divergent by Veronica Roth will be the next dystopian novel to draw the attention and devotion of teens. There. I said it.

When Beatrice (Tris) Pryor turns sixteen she has to decide which faction to choose: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, or Erudite. Her choice will determine where she lives and by which virtues her life will be guided. A test will help with the decision but Tris doesn't have to follow the results, which is good since her test is inconclusive. However once she does decide her choice exposes her to the demanding, violent initiation rites of the group, and it also threatens to expose a personal secret that places her in extreme danger and threatens to dismantle the whole society. "Veronica Roth's young adult Divergent trilogy launches with a captivating adventure about love and loyalty playing out under most extreme circumstances." (Goodreads)

While Twilight spawned a whole genre of paranormal romances, Hunger Games has ushered in a resurgence of the dystopian novel. Divergent is one of those dystopian spin-offs.  Is it a good story?  Yes. Is it a completely new and unique tale? No. Divergent reminded me a lot of both the Hunger Games trilogy (Collins) and The Uglies series (Westerfeld). Did I like it? Yes. I liked the story quite a bit and found it to be quite exciting and frustrating in turns.  I always think that dystopian novels are frustrating.  So that is a good sign that Roth was on to something in this story which is set in a futuristic Chicago. Will I recommend this book to my students? You bet I will.  In fact, I recommended this book on the strength of it's plot long before I had a chance to read it. All the kids who have talked to me about it really like the book and are eager for the sequel. Come to think of it, so am I.

Snapshot Saturday

Sunrise, the shadow of Mt. Rainier, in Washington State, as viewed from Graham-Kapowsin High School one day in October 2011. This is my seventh year teaching at this school and I have never seen this before. The mountain cast a huge shadow at sunrise. Lots of students and staff ran out of their classes to take a picture. It was such a rare phenomenon.  Very cool.

Snapshot Saturday is hosted by Alyce over at At Home with Books.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Follow Friday...Veterans Day Edition

Alison Can Read and Parajunkee

(Congratulations to Book Nympho and Mother Lode on being the featured bloggers of the day for Follow Friday.)

Q: In light of 11.11.11 and Veteran’s Day tell us about your favorite soldier and how he or she is saving the world. Fictional or real life.

A:  Donald Bennett, my husband!

Colonel Don Bennett, State Judge Advocate for the Washington Army National Guard. 
Served in Iraq from 2004-05. 
33+ years of service to our country.  
He is my hero!
Don is devoted to our country and to justice, not only for our soldiers but also for the citizens of countries where our military serves. As a JAG officer he is in the position of advising commanders and making sure that standards are upheld and laws governing conduct are enforced.

Runner-up: First Lieutenant Gordon Parr, my uncle

Served in the Army during WWII in the Pacific Theater.
His unit, the 96th Infantry Division (belatedly in 2007) received its Presidential Unit Citation for its "esprit, heroism, and continuing demonstrations of raw courage" in the decisive Battle of Okinawa. 
Gordon died this year at age 87.
He -- and a whole generation of men and women -- fought for our freedom against incredible odds. We are here today because of their courage and valor. Thank you for your service.

A great big word of thanks to all soldiers, marines, sailors, airmen, and coast guardsmen who have answered the call of duty to our country. I appreciate your service and recognize that freedom isn't free. Thank you! Also, thank you to all military families who have sacrificed so much for us.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A librarian's dilemma

The definition of dilemma: a situation requiring a choice between two equally undesirable alternatives.

That is where this librarian is right now, making a choice between two equally undesirable alternatives. The question---whether to put Habibi by Craig Thompson into circulation in my school library. What are the two equally undesirable alternatives, you ask? Let me explain, but first let me tell you about the book.
Sprawling across an epic landscape of deserts, harems, and modern industrial clutter, HABIBI tells the tale of Dodola and Zam, refugee child slaves bound to each other by chance, by circumstance, and by the love that grows between them.

At once contemporary and timeless, HABIBI gives us a love story of astounding resonance: a parable about our relationship to the natural world, the cultural divide between the first and third worlds, the common heritage of Christianity and Islam, and, most potently, the magic of storytelling. -Craig Thompson's Habibi webpage
S.I. Rosenbaum, a reviewer for the Boston Phoenix, said this about Thompson and Habibi:
“Craig Thompson's new graphic novel, Habibi, is a masterpiece. This isn't an opinion. This book is a gorgeous object; to make it, Thompson apparently covered himself in honey and rolled around in a thousand years of Arabic calligraphy and Islamic art, and the result is breathtaking.”

I know. It sounds lovely.  It is lovely.  Craig Thompson is a master at illustrations and his graphic novels are amazing.  This book is no exception. 600+ pages in length with amazing illustrations and a dramatic story line, this seems like the perfect book for a high school library. It would be a perfect book for us EXCEPT for one rather large-ish problem.  SEX.  There is lots of it in the book and when there is sex in a graphic novel, well, er-r-r, the results are graphic.

Last Tuesday the Top Ten Tuesday meme asked the question "What are the titles of books that made you feel uncomfortable?" This book would have made the list.  I was very uncomfortable while reading it.  I couldn't get comfortable with the volume of graphic sex acts in the book.  And I'm pretty sure that parents of my high school students wouldn't be comfortable with it, either. Therein lies the dilemma.  To return a book that has a fantastic storyline and wonderful illustrations by a very talented author/illustrator (bad choice) or keep it even though it really is too graphic for the population (another bad choice.) As a public school librarian I am charged with selecting books for our collection which match the curriculum and the values of the community, but I am also a believer in the anti-censorship aspect of the 1st amendment.

What to do, what to do?  It is a dilemma.  Whatever I choose, it will be a bad choice.

Your thoughts?

PS.  Go to Craig Thompson's webpage and take a look at the art, the reviews, the process of making Habibi.  Of particular interest to me is that none of the example illustrations on his page include sex scenes.  Hmmmmm....

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Review: Chime by Franny Billingsley

I've been very hesitant to write a review for Chime by Franny Billingsley because, frankly, I wasn't sure if I "got" what all the fuss was about over this book and I didn't want to sound stupid or dull. I also had the experience of not liking the book for well over half of it and then experiencing an overwhelming sense of loving it as I neared the end.  In fact, I reread the ending to check to make sure that it was love, not just infatuation.  Yup.  Loved the book.

So what is it about Chime that causes the National Book Award committee to make it a finalist and for professional reviewers to give it stars (6 starred reviews at last count) when the book is so confusing in the beginning and such a slow starter?  The Kirkus reviewer for Chime said:
Billingsley takes the time to develop a layered narrative adorned with linguistic filigree-she is one of the great prose stylists of the field, moving from one sparklingly unexpected image to the next and salting her story with quicksilver dialogue. She sets the tale in a gently alternate turn-of-the-20th-century England in which Mr. Darwin, Dr. Freud, witches and the Old Ones coexist. Briony, hugely likable despite her dismal self-hatred, is devilishly smart and funny, and readers will root for her with every turn of the page. Delicious.

What I have discovered about the book, as I talk to readers, it that students aren't able to picture this semi-magical, semi-historical setting and aren't patient enough to let those "delicious" prose sweep them away. Which is really a pity because the story is really magical, imaginative, funny, and poignant in turn. Students also have a hard time liking Briony, the main character.  I wonder if that is related to the fact that Briony doesn't like herself? The story is also a lot deeper than you would guess by reading the book jacket or looking at the cover. While the plot is part mystery, part fantasy, part romance, part paranormal, and some family drama it revolves around Briony, a girl who is full of self-doubt and guilt. She blames herself for many things including her sister's brain injury and for the illness that has infected the whole town.

Billingsley's narrative is really exquisite. The reviewer for Booklist said about her writing:
"Exploring the powers of guilt and redemption, Billingsley has crafted a dark, chilling yet stunning world. Briony’s many mysteries and occasional sardonic wit make her a force to be reckoned with. Exquisite to the final word.
Chime really is a novel  "that is both lushly sensual and shivery." -SLJ

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ten Books I read that were outside my comfort zone

Top Ten Tuesday Topic: Ten books I read that were outside my comfort zone. This will be a tough list for me to create since, as my husband says, "You'll read anything, Anne." This is very true. I am comfortable with just about every genre and topic.  That said, here are a few books/types I remember feeling uncomfortable about as I read them:
1. The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey---the horror genre is not for me and this book is scary!
2. Punkzilla by Adam Rapp--- very edgy realistic fiction.  A few too many swear words and truly uncomfortable situations for my comfort zone.
3. Lolita by Vladimir Nabocov---Pedophilia, I sure hope no one is comfortable with this topic. I know I wasn't.
4. Library Wars, Vol.1 by Kiiro Yumi---Japanese manga. I got all confused what direction I supposed to read the frames and I kept doing it backwards which made the story very confusing.  Ha!
5.  Tweak by Nic Sheff---I usually enjoy memoirs about people over-coming drug addiction but this book had too many minute details about drug use for my comfort level.

 1. Formula books... you know the kind where you could write the story because you know the formula for the plot?  I cannot make myself read these type of books.
2. Biographies/Memoirs of people where I disagree with their politics or values. I also don't read memoirs about people who are famous for a short time or because they are rich, etc. What could I possibly learn from them that I would care about?
3. Gratuitous sex or foul language---I don't avoid books that contain sex or language but it makes me cringe when it is over-the-top or gratuitous.
4. Horror genre---I don't DO scary.  I mean it.  I get scared by scary books (and movies) and I actually have nightmares.  Not worth it.
5. ...and zombies; sea monsters... I'm sorry but I just don't like the books which add zombies or monsters to classics such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. 

It's Monday, Nov. 7 and I'm reading....

Sheila at Book Journey is the host of this meme.

What I am reading- 
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. This book has been on my bedside table for at least three years. I finally got a good start on it on the plane ride home from Hawaii. 
  • Habibi by Craig Thompson.  This is the artist who wrote Blankets, my all-time favorite graphic novel. I'm still near the beginning of the story and am still confused about the characters and the setting since the story goes back and forth in time.  Hope to sort things out this week.
What I recently completed- Divergent by Veronica Roth. I'd heard wonderful things about this book by other book bloggers and I must admit that I found it very exciting. The story is another of the dystopian tales of the Hunger Games, Maze Runner ilk.  Look for my review soon.

What I'm listening to-  
  • Flip by Martyn Bedford. A new twist on a old tale of body swapping. This one really poses a serious question, "What would you do if..."  When I complete it I will have completed my whole 2012 Mock Printz reading list.  I'm impressed by the seriousness with which this intriguing problem is handled. I should finish this today.  
  • Forever by Maggie Stiefvater- the third book in The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy.  I am eager to get going on this book.
What is up next-
  •  Five Flavors of Dumb by Anthony John. A deaf girl is the manager for a Rock Band.  She has to get people interested in the band that she herself has never heard.  This is the last book in the 2011 Read the ALA Winners Challenge for me.  This book won the Schneider Family Teen Book Award which honors novels that deal with the topic of people living with disabilities.
  • I'm not sure what I will pick up next to read. I want to finish all my challenges by December 31st. so I will likely pick up a book "I should have read in school but didn't" such as Their Eyes Were Watching God by Hurston, Frankenstein by Shelley, or  The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.  Can you think of any books you read in high school that you actually think everyone should read?  I'm looking for suggestions.

What are you reading this week?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday Salon Hawaiian Wrap-up---Nov. 6

Home from Hawaii! Back home from Hawaii. This morning we had our first frost of the Fall. Time for a Hawaiian wrap-up.

Favorite Dance: The Fire Dance. We saw it twice, once at our hotel and once at the Polynesian Cultural Center. The dancers have nerves of steel twirling fire around their bodies. Pictured: me and the two dancers who entertained us by the hotel pool.

Favorite Visit: Actually we only visited with one friend in Hawaii but it was a blast. Don's friend from college, Karl. He made us a fabulous BBQ lunch which we ate on the beach after boogie boarding. Pictured: Don and Karl showing off their 50+ year-old bods! Not bad guys! Mahalo, Karl, for a fun day!

Favorite food: Giovanni's Shrimp Scampi (pictured) served right out the roadside food truck. I ate shrimp three times in five days. Yum! We also LOVED the pineapple whip from the Dole Plantation. If you ever visit there, get it. It is a perfect combination of sour and sweet.

Favorite tree: Who doesn't love the tall palm/coconut trees?  But we also fell in love with the Cook Pine which is used as a wind break around the coffee plantations. Cook Pine is a cousin to the Norfolk Island Pine. Cool, huh? Another gorgeous tree we saw at the Dole Plantation was the Painted Eucalyptus. Check out the bark.

Favorite fruit: We were introduced to the Apple Banana, which is more flavorful than a regular banana. In fact we tried to bring a bunch home but they were confiscated at the airport. The bananas certainly don't look very yummy in the picture, but they were. We also loved all the fresh pineapple and papaya. One day Don had fresh pineapple with every meal.

Favorite place to read:  A toss up between the beach or poolside. It rained quite often while we were there so we had to be under umbrellas to protect our books, but otherwise both locales were ideal for restful reading. I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, Divergent by Veronica Roth and half of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz.

Favorite wake-up call or most annoying, depending on how tired we were: The Hawaiian Myna bird sat on our lanai every morning and sang us a wake-up song.  We slept with the lanai door open to catch the breeze and to hear the ocean, so we would jolt awake when our Myna friend burst into song. That bird can sing LOUD!
Photo Source: Ki'i O'Kapa

Sunsets: Our hotel was on the North Shore of Oahu and we had a perfect location to view the gorgeous Hawaiian sunsets every night.

Now that we're back, I'm again listening to: Flip by Martin Bedford. This is my last Mock Printz book on the list of 15.

I'm currently reading: Habibi by Craig Thompson, his new graphic novel.
Scripture: Romans 6:1-4 "...Just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life."

This week I'm praying for:  The woman we helped in Hawaii after we witnessed her husband shoving her down and kicking her. Domestic abuse is never OK and I pray that she has the strength to get the help she needs, so that she "may live a new life."

Around the house:  Today I must run out and rake a few leaves onto the compost pile. It is definitely Fall here in the Northwest.

From the kitchen: My daughter made Lasagna Cups, little personal size portions of lasagna in cupcake cups. They were good and perfect for dieters.