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

Thursday, June 28, 2012

June is Audiobook Month: my favorites

June is Audiobook Month. With the recent announcement of the Audies, the audiobook awards, I thought it was time for me to announce a few of my favorite audiobooks, too.

For me listening to a well-read audiobook is one of my favorite activities. A good reader can bring a book to life, can add a dimension to the book that adds to it's magic or drama. Audiobook narrators can assist with pronunciation of difficult words used in fantasy tales or world languages, often allowing me to be transported in my mind to far away lands or places. But the opposite can happen, too.  If a book is poorly read, the book can become tedious. Since it usually takes longer to listen to a book than it does to read a book the book may seem to go on and on forever. Sometimes I even abandon the audio version of a book when this happens so that I can finish the book sooner, but that is rare. Usually I relish the time spent listening to audiobooks.

Here are some of my suggestions:

Fantasy Books
  •  Harry Potter Series narrated by Jim Dale. Dale has won multiple awards for his narrations of the Harry Potter series. Listening to him read is mesmerizing. He creates over 250 different voices that he uses for the plethora of JK Rowling’s characters. Pure magic! (Pun intended.)
  • The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials Series) by Philip Pullman. This full cast audiobook had my whole family so enraptured that we barely spoke for listening while we traveled home from a vacation.
  • The Inheritance Cycle Series (Eragon) by Christopher Paolini read by Gerard Doyle. This series is full of made up names and places. If I read a book when I don't know how to pronounce names and places it slows me down and frustrates me.  The audiobook is the perfect solution for this problem. Because these books are long, I often listen to the book when I'm in the car and then read when I am in the house, which means I have to skip a head next time I'm in the car.  It gets confusing but I manage. By the way, Gerard Doyle is one of my favorite voice actors.  I can listen to him endlessly.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird narrated by Roses Prichard. Ms. Prichard has Scout’s voice perfect. I’ve listened to this audio version repeatedly over the years and I never get tired of it. Look for this version at your local library, I couldn’t locate it on-line.
  • Brideshead Revisited (narrated by Jeremy Irons)
  • My Antonia (narrated by Patrick Lawlor); 
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (narrated by Kate Burton.)
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Performed by Dick Hill)
Authors reading their own works. Don't miss these-
  •  David McCullough is a most appealing author/narrator who reads his own historical works for audio books. I recommend listening to 1776 . You’ll learn history and be captivated at the same time. McCullough’s voice is instantly recognizable if you watched Ken Burns’ Civil War series on PBS. 
  •  Bill Bryson (In a Sunburned Country; et al) I love this guy's sense of humor and his timing when he is reading his own books.  One of my favorites, which seems like it should be a real snorer, is A Short History of Nearly Everything.
  • Frank McCourt (Angela’s Ashes; et al.) McCourt narrates in his Irish brogue. Beautiful.
  • Tina Fey (Bossypants) this was an Audie Award winner this year.  It is very funny just like the actress herself. 
  • Sherman Alexie reading his semi-autobiographical masterpiece, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. This audiobook won several awards.
Any book (or series) by Alexander McCall Smith
Alexander McCall Smith carefully selects the narrators for his different book series and all of them do a remarkable job reading with correct dialects and accents.
My favorites of the favorites:
  • Stargirl narrated by John Ritter (may he rest in peace) is a darling young adult novel about a girl who lives by her own rules and brings happiness and delight wherever she goes. The book is written from the point-of-view of a man who loved Stargirl when he was a boy. Ritter does a masterful job as narrator. 
  • The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig, centers around a one-room schoolhouse in early 20th century Montana. Narrated by Jonathan Hogan this book was not recorded on CD, but I was able to listen to an audio download from my public library
  •  Peace Like a River by Lief Enger, performed by Chad Lowe. I just finished listening to this book for the third time.  I could have turned around and listened to it again immediately. Love it.

2012 Favorites (so far):
  • The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan, read by Patrick Lawlor (Nonfiction)
  • State of Wonder by Ann Prachett, read by Hope Davis  
  • Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Fiona Hardingham and Steve West.
  •  Shanghai Girls by Lisa See, read by Laura Song 
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, read by Carolyn McCormick 
  •  Day After Night by Anita Diamant, read by Dagmara Dominczyk
  • Peace Like a River by Lief Enger, read by Chad Lowe
Please post some other ideas of good books to listen to. Thanks. Enjoy listening!

10/13/12 A few more 2012 favorites

  •  Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann, read by Julia Whelan
  • Mirrormask by Neil Gaiman, read by Stephanie Leonidas
  • Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, read by Caitlin Greer
  • The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen, read by Laura Flanagan 
  • The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe, read by Katherine Kellgren
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, read by Wil Wheaton
  • Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation by John Carlin, read by Gideon Emory
  • Lirael by Garth Nix, read by Tim Curry (#2 in Abhorsen series)
  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, read by Rosenblat and Morris
  • Abhorsen by Gath Nix, read by Time Curry
  • Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, read by Polly Stone
  • Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Will Patton


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Review: The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison

In the beginning of The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison, we meet Penelope (Lo) Marin as she is stealing a lawn ornament because it is beautiful and she gives in to her obsession to "have" it. We are also introduced to Lo's counting and verbal rituals. We learn that these rituals and her obsessive thinking that keeps Lo marginalized in school and lonely in life. As the story unfolds we discover that her brother has recently died and his death has sent everyone in the family into a tail spin. When Lo learns about the murder of a girl she feels compelled to learn all she can about the girl and help uncover her murderer. The process puts her in harms way but also helps her uncover information about her brother.

I read this book with a great deal of positive anticipation.  There are very few really good mysteries for young adults and this book seemed like it would help fill the gap.  Though it was interesting, I had a hard time relating to any of the characters or feeling that caught up in the who-done-it aspect of the story.  Even the tense moments were so short lived that they barely caused a bit of anxiety. Lo's obsessive-compulsive mannerisms were more interesting to me than the actual mystery.  I was also very irritated with Lo's parents who were completely incapable at parenting or even making an attempt at understanding their daughter and her disorder. It would be so refreshing to have characters whose parents were thoughtful, helpful, and loving instead of distant, messed-up, and incompetent.

Student readers have liked this book. Maybe the things that irritated me about it aren't the things that teens notice.  Whatever it is, this book will remain a "top-shelver" when school resumes in September.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sunday Salon...Father's Day, June 17

Favorite readers
Weather today... Sprinkling and overcast.

Yesterday we picked up a small end table that we ordered to replace the wooden crate covered by a table cloth that we have been using for the past 30 years in our family room.  :)

Today is Father's Day. We are planning a family day of activities since this will be our last Father's Day together as our small family unit before our oldest daughter is married. I think we'll start with a quick lunch of hot dogs or something else manly. Then to the LeMay Car Museum in Tacoma which opened a few weeks ago.  Then off the the driving range to watch our golfer hit a few buckets of balls. Finally home to a wonderful dinner of BBQ salmon.  Sounds fun, huh?

***Update: Our decided upon plan was thwarted by the long line at the Car Museum.  We did get to the Red Hot Dogs Tacoma and all of us ordered a weird, but good dog.  Our favorite and the weirdest was the Hosmer Dog which is a hot dog with peanut butter and bacon.  I know, it sounds awful but it works!  We then attempted a picnic at a nearby park but it was too windy so we ate our dogs in the car looking at the park.  Next we drove back to Puyallup and went to our local putt-putt golf coarse.  We opted for the obstacle course rather than the water hazard course.  Don won and I came in last with the daughters sandwiched in between. We ended our adventure day at the Meeker Days celebration downtown and had a bowl of frozen yogurt. Now the salmon is marinating and Don is watching the US Open Golf tournament on TV.  Ah!

I'm reading the same book I was working on last week: 
  • The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison. It is a YA mystery. I have been reading it so slowly because this week was a full of evening activities and then exhaustion from the daily textbook returns. 
I'm listening to...actually I just went to the public library yesterday and five audiobook holds were waiting for me.  It is an example of the "feast and famine" phenomenon.  For the longest time I couldn't figure out what to listen to so I put in a lot of requests and they all arrived the same time.  What should I listen to first? 
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
  • Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
  • Still Alice by Lisa Genova
  • The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
(I just checked the library page and only Night Circus has other holds on their audiobook, so I will start with that one since I won't be able to renew it. And I just noticed that this audiobook is read by Jim Dale, the same voice actor who read the Harry Potter books with such acclaim.)

Book finished this week: 
  • Peace Like a River by Lief Enger.  I can't even begin to describe just how much I love this book.  It is the third time I've listened to it and I'd relisten again in a heartbeat.
Scripture lesson in church:

I'm praying for: my friend who just learned that she has non-smokers lung cancer.

Around the house: It is a mess. Two daughters home and long hours at work do not make for a tidy house.

From the kitchen: Copper River Salmon marinated in our special sauce as a Father's Day treat.  This is our family specialty.

Quote of the day: "She got her looks from her father.  He's a plastic surgeon." -Groucho Marx

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Summer Reading list...laughably long

Don't laugh. Here is my list of books that I want to read this summer.  I know the list is laughably long especially considering how busy my summer looks to be shaping up.  Anyway, I still hope to read these books and more...

*The ten books I am looking forward to reading/listening to the most this summer. For this week's Top Ten Tuesday

Books for up-coming Book Club meetings:
  • Heart in the Right Place by Carolyn Jourdan
  • Still Alice by Lisa Genova
  • Half-Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls *
  • The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean
  • Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
  • The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
Books for Personal Challenges:
  • Stotan by Chris Crutcher---Chris Crutcher Challenge *
  • Chinese Handcuffs by Chris Crutcher---Chris Crutcher Challenge
  • Delirium by Lauren Oliver--- Read a Long Book, Summer Challenge
  • Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy by Bil Wright--- Read the ALA Winners Challenge
  • A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry---Read a Long Book, Summer Challenge; From My Own Shelves Challenge
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern--- Audiobook Challenge *
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline---Audiobook Challenge
Books as possible Mock Printz selections:
  • A Grave Mercy by Robin La Fevers *
  • In Darkness by Nick Lake
  • Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi *
  • BZRK by Michael Grant
  • Dying to Know You by Aidan Chambers *
  • A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle
  • The Difference Between You and Me by Madeline George
  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein *
  • The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison (In progress)
Books as possible Nifty-Fifty Cart selections:
  • Lockdown By Alexander Gordon Smith (In progress)
  • The Alchemyst by Michael Scott
  • Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien
  • Sabriel by Garth Nix (In progress)
"Just because I want to read it" books:
  • A Dog's Purpose by Bruce Cameron *
  • Legend by Marie Lu *
  • Insurgent by Veronica Roth *
  • Jerk, California by Jonathan Friesen---a favor for the Psychology teacher who would like a new selection for her AP students.

Can I do it?  Any books you think I should add, subtract?


Monday, June 11, 2012

End of the school year haiku

The end of the school year in my library means one thing: textbooks! For the past week and this week all I deal with from the moment I arrive at work until I crawl out the door eight hours later is textbooks. When I arrive home I am usually so low on energy I just veg in front of the TV rather than reading. To help me shake off my textbook state of mind I thought I'd write a few haiku.

"I didn't do it," 
the red-faced student complains. 
Graffiti on page.

How much do they weigh?
I think as fatigue sets in.
Five? Ten? Twenty? More?

Already full to the beams.
Where to put the rest?

"Clean your own textbook,
or do you want to pay me
 to clean it for you?"

Black tape: bent corners,
Glue broken spine,  tape ripped page.
Book repair on cheap.

All your textbooks in!
I'll see you in September
Check them out again.

End of day drive home.
Listen to audiobook.
Only literary fix.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday Salon, June 10

New hanging basket for a shady spot on the porch.
Weather today... Sunny after morning clouds, and cool.

Yesterday we picked up daughter #2 from college and moved her out of her dorm.  She is home for three weeks and then off to school in Italy for the summer.

Today I went to a graduation party for the son of an x-neighbor. I attended with a current neighbor. I guess you could say it was a neighborly day.

I'm reading: 

  • The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison. It is a YA mystery. Hhe main character, Lo, has OCD. 
I'm listening to:  
  • Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. I love this book.  It is my third time listening this book.

Book finished this week: 
  • Day After Night by Anita Diamant---Set in Palestine in 1945 before Israel was a country. It is interesting and so well-written. I listened to this in the audiobook. I highly recommend this book in this format.

Scripture lesson in church:Proverbs 3:5,6  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight."

I'm praying for: My energy this week as I am dealing with heavy textbooks every day, all day.

Around the house: We bought several beautiful hanging baskets for the porch and deck area.

From the kitchen: Spaghetti and sausages with foccacia bread purchased at Saturday Market.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Places I hope to get caught reading this summer

The Broke and Bookish
 Top Ten Tuesday this week is a rewind so I can choose my topic.

Top ten places I hope to be caught reading this summer.

1. Cinque Terra, Italy...we will be vacationing in Italy this summer.  While we are staying in the Cinque Terra region I imagine we will encounter some lay-in-the-sun moments. And you know what that means...time to read and relax.

2. On the Rapido train between Florence and Venice, Italy. I can't read in a car but I can on trains and buses.  Go figure.

3. On the airplane flight to Rome. And, of course, home again.

4. Lake Tahoe, California... my family of origin will be gathering in California for a week in July.  There should be plenty of chances to break out the books.

5. Angels Camp, California...in the middle of Gold Rush country. I hope there is time for a little sight-seeing, golf, and reading.

6. Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle, Washington... it is a fun destination that is less than an hour from home. During the summer there are concerts in the park.  In order to get good seats one has to arrive early and stake out a good spot with the lawn chairs or blankets.  Next to people-watching I usually fill the time waiting for the music with reading.

7.Chambers Bay Creek Park, University Place, Washington... also not too far from our home, this park is almost surreal with the weird concrete works leftover from some old factory. This park provides a spectacular view of the sunset over Puget Sound.  Might as well arrive early for a picnic and take the time to read a few pages first.

8. Paradise, Mt. Rainier National Park... nothing is more beautiful than Paradise (Visitor Center) on Mt. Rainier when it is in wildflowers. On a sunny day it is fun to hike and take in the sights.  But the air is thin, so one must stop and soak up the sun and read for a bit, too.

9. In our car... On our way to California we will listen to an audiobook. (We won't drive down the freeway waving flags, however.)

10. In the backyard, in a hammock... this is actually my favorite reading spot of all.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

It's Monday, June 4, and I'm Reading...

Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Text
Sheila at Book Journey
What I am currently reading: 
1. Sabriel by Garth Nix... Sabriel's father goes missing and now she must search for him in the Old Kingdom, where the dead refuse to stay dead.

2. The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison... Lo, a OCD girl  gets caught up in a mystery that may lead to answers about her brother's death.

What I am listening to:
-Day After Night by Anita Diamant... based on a true story about the settlement of Israel after WWII

What I've recently finished:
1. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa-This is the first book in the Iron Fey series which is hot, hot, hot in my library.  I read it to evaluate if I want to include it in my Nifty Fifty cart of special books.  It took me a month to read it but I did like it.

2.  Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews... Greg, at the urging of his mother, befriends a girl with leukemia. Funny and poignant.

3. The Miles Between by Mary Pearson... Destiny and her friends go on an unexpected road trip in search of a fair and just day.

4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Audio Book)... I shared this listening experience with my daughters.  What's not to love?

What I hope to read next: 

A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron... my youngest daughter highly recommends this books and made it very clear that she will not read any more books that I recommend if I never read the book she does.

 What are you reading?


Sunday Salon, June 3

Dreaming about lazy summer days.
Weather today... Overcast, cool, and rainy. We're having a wet, cold end to our Spring. 

Yesterday a high school friend, Jean, and her partner stopped by for an overnight visit. It was a reminder about the preciousness of friendships and I should be better at nourishing them. Thanks, Jean. I love you.

Today the leadership team at church competes in a Bible Jeopardy against the Children's Sunday School classes. Every year the adults lose. Later in the day we serve lunch to the homeless population in our area.

I'm reading: 
  • Sabriel by Garth Nix.  One of my colleagues always raves about this book and the series.  I am enjoying it. 
I'm listening to:
  • Day After Night by Anita Diamant---Set in Palestine in 1945 before Israel was a country. It is interesting and so well-written. This is the perfect format for this book with all of the Hebrew words and names.

Book finished this week:   
  • Me and Earl, and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews. See the opening paragraph on my Book Beginnings post from Friday.  It was a lot more poignant than I anticipated.
  • Iron King by Julie Kagawa.  I finally finished this opening book of the Iron Fey fantasy series.
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  This was the second time listening to this audiobook.  
  • The Miles Between by Mary Pearson.
Scripture lesson in church:Habakkuk 2:14 "For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD..."

I'm praying for:Patt and his wife.  Cancer treatments keep him low on energy with pain and breathing problems.  It is hard to be the spouse at times like these.

Around the house: The librarians from the district were here for a social and the weather cooperated.  We had smoked salmon, shrimp, and lots of other yummy snacks.

From the kitchen: Dan (my daughter's fiance) and I taste tested a red wine we're considering for the wedding, Renegade Red. It's motto: "Glasses, we don't need no stinking glasses."


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Big Book Summer Challenge

Join the challenge at Book by Book here.
I decided to join Sue over at Book by Book for her BIG BOOK SUMMER CHALLENGE.  It sounds completely doable since I only have to read one big book to qualify! If this sounds like something you'd like to do, too, here are the details:

The Details:
Hey, it's summer, so we'll keep this low-key and easy!

  • Anything over 400 pages qualifies as a big book.
  • The challenge will run from Memorial Day weekend (yeah, I'm running a bit late already, but it's summer!) through Labor Day weekend.
  • Choose one or two or however many big books you want as your goal.  Wait, did you get that?  You only need to read 1 book with over 400 pages this summer to participate! (though you are welcome to read more, if you want).
  • Choose from what's on your shelves already or a big book you've been meaning to read for ages or anything that catches your eye in the library - whatever peaks your interest!
  • Sign up on the links list below or on the Big Book Summer Challenge page.
  • Write a post to kick things off - you can list the exact big books you plan to read or just publish your intent to participate, but be sure to include the Big Book Summer Challenge pic above, with a link back to this blog.
  • Write a post to wrap up at the end, listing the big books you read during the summer.
  • You can write progress posts if you want to and/or reviews of the big books you've read...but you don't have to!  There will be a separate links list for big book review posts.
That's it!  Go check out your shelves and your TBR list and sign up below!

Sign up at Book by Book.

Books I am considering for this challenge:
Blood Red Road by Moira Young
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver


Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

It took me a month but I finally finished The Iron King by Julie Kagawa. It is a dramatic and imaginative fantasy set in both modern times and in the Nevernever, a faery realm. Meghan is a child of both, being half faery and half human, thus it is up to her to not only save her brother but also the whole faery kingdom from sure annihilation at the hands of the Iron King. Along the way she meets friends that were thought to be imaginary characters from books and is faced with horrible dilemmas which require promises/oaths for some event in the future. All of these promises are not fulfilled in this book. Now the reader must pick up the other books in the series to find out what adventures await Meghan and her friends.

It took me awhile, obviously, to get in to the story. I liked Meghan but was never quite sure about the cast of characters around her.  Were they friends or were they foes?  Perhaps they were both. Magical things happened, battles broke out, faeries appeared/disappeared, friends were hurt then healed. Typical stuff of fantasy writing. Then I perked up. The plot tilted to the right when technology entered the storyline. I found this bit to be very imaginative and almost comical, certainly not what I was expecting.  In the end the book proved to be very satisfying and I admit that I do want to read the sequel, The Iron Daughter.

This whole series has been a steady favorite in my library for the past two years. It is also a strong contender as an addition for my Nifty-Fifty Cart, which I stuff with 50 tried-and-true good books. The cart is getting a make-over this summer with about half the titles being swapped out. First books in series are popular additions because they keep readers coming back for more!

If you have read The Iron King and other books in this series I'd love to hear from you. Do you think I should add this to my nifty-fifty cart?  How are the other books in the series in comparison to this one?