"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=========

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Happy Birthday Pride and Prejudice, 200 years old!

200 years ago this past week Pride and Prejudice was published and the public has been in love 
with it ever since. In honor of the birthday, let's have a little fun.

1. First hop over to the Telegraph and take the Pride and Prejudice Quiz.
How did you do? I scored 92%.

2. Go to this Jane Austin Quote site and find a Pride and Prejudice quote you never remember seeing before. Here's one I found:  "You have liked many a stupider person." -Lizzie to Jane concerning Bingley.

3. Select a Pride and Prejudice wallpaper for your computer this week:
Here's the one I picked:

4. Head over to Google. Type in "Pride and Prejudice Books Covers." Select your favorite.
Here's a fun one that strikes my fancy today:

5. Go to Goodreads and vote for your favorite Pride and Prejudice spin-off. I've read quite a few of these types of books and I had a hard time deciding on which was my favorite. Since I had to pick one I chose: Mr. Darcy's Diary by Amanda Grange because it is simply P and P from Mr. Darcy's point of view.

Have fun.

Monday, January 28, 2013

GKHS Mock Printz Workshop...Jan 28th

YALSA/ALA: Actual 2013 Printz Award list here.
I just got home from school and the 2013 Mock Printz Workshop. Talk about a fun event for a bookish-type person like me... talking and debating about good books with other bookish people for two solid hours.


Prior to the event: purchase the treats, send workshop invitations/reminders to students, run copies of the voting ballots, set up the tables and chairs in a conversational style.

2:00: Students start arriving in the library after the last bell of the day.
2:10: Welcome and explain the voting process.
2:15: Read information from the ALA webpage about why they selected the past Printz Award books. Direct attention to the voting criteria that the committee uses for excellence in literature (not popularity.)
2:20: Take straw poll.
2:25-3:00: Discuss all the books. Bring discussion back to excellence and criteria.
3:00: First vote. While votes are being tabulated, have students break for snacks.
3:10: Vote results. In this case, one book was the clear winner so we decided to choose this book as our winner.
3:15-4:00: Discussion to select Honor Books.
4:00: Vote. While votes are tabulated students selected a Advanced Reader book that I lugged home from the ALA conference yesterday.
4:10-4:15: We had to continue balloting to narrow down the list to select our Honor books.

Here is their Mock Printz award list:


  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green...students felt like this book was very authentic and got the teen voice just right. They really liked the whole story and felt that the plot twists kept it fresh and interesting throughout.

Honor books:

  • Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers...I confess that a group of the students were clearly in love with this book and couldn't be dissuaded by others to consider that it wasn't as strong on the voting criteria. 
  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater...I was surprised that this book was one of our Honor books, even though I am a huge fan of both the book and the author. It just seemed like this book didn't get much attention during our discussions. But apparently it had many fans in the group of students.
  • Seraphina by Rachel Hartman...the setting and the characters got a lot of attention when we discussed this book.
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews...the group felt that the various writing styles and authentic male teenage voice made this book worthy of an honor.

The older students tried unsuccessfully to pull for these two books: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and Code Name Verity. Unfortunately fewer kids read these two books than the books listed above otherwise I think we would have had more fans.  The students who made it all the way through Code Name Verity spoke passionately about it but several other students, who couldn't finished it, also spoke up which probably had a negative impact on the vote. The Aristotle and Dante fans will be exonerated  when they see the actual Printz award list here.

It was a fun and exhilarating workshop. But I confess that I am tired.  Time for bed.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Salon...January 27

Home from the ALA Conference with a pile of loot!
Weather: Rainy.

Friday: Deborah Ford, now with Junior Library Guild, made a special trip from ALA Conference in Seattle to meet with me and several other district librarians.  It was a fun, affirming, interesting, and well-spent day.  Thanks Deborah for making the long trek to visit with us!

Yesterday:  My hubby and I attended a dinner for eight (3 couples, and 2 singles) as part of our church fellowship. We had a fun evening of conversation and food.

Today: I went to the Exhibitors portion of the ALA conference in Seattle with two other high school librarians. We got so loaded up with loot that we had to make three trips back to the car because we couldn't lug everything around. We probably got over 50+ ARC copies of books including Prodigy, the new Sarah Dessen (I can't remember the name); and the sequel to Grave Mercy.  SCORE!

Tomorrow: Is the Mock Printz Workshop after school. I had over 50 readers this year on my Mock Printz team and so far every single one of the replies has been YES.  I could have a BIG group of kids working with me to pick their favorite YA book of the year.  I will post the results tomorrow evening.  Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the actual Printz awards are announced tomorrow so I will have to avoid the Internet tomorrow so I don't accidentally bump into the results before my workshop. I'm on pins and needles.

Book I am reading and listening to right now: Railsea by China Mieville. A twist on the Moby Dick story. I listen to it in the car then read ahead when I am in the house.

Books I finished this week:

  • 52 Life Lessons from It's a Wonderful Life by Bob Welch.
  • The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth
  • The Girl Who Fell Below Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne Valente
I'm praying for my daughter who is experiencing real challenges as a first-year teacher of 4th graders.

From the kitchen: Black Forest Cheesecake. We took it to the dinner for eight, but once piece was leftover so we just shared it.  Yum!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Mock Printz...my favorites

Our Mock Printz Workshop is just around the corner. Just as the real Printz Award committee is preparing for their selection meeting the end of this month, my team of 50 high school readers are preparing for theirs.  They have been very busy reading, reading, reading... trying to figure out which book deserves top honors. The Printz Committee (American Library Association) uses this criteria as they make their selection, therefore we attempt to use the same:
Quality Literature. Published in 2012. What is quality? We hope the award will have a wide AUDIENCE among readers from 12 to 18 but POPULARITY is not the criterion for this award. Nor is MESSAGE. In accordance with the Library Bill of Rights, CONTROVERSY is not something to avoid. In fact, we want a book that readers will talk about. Librarianship focuses on individuals, in all their diversity,... As every reader knows, a great book can redefine what we mean by quality. Criteria change with time...What we are looking for, in short, is literary excellence. All forms of writing—fiction, nonfiction, poetry, art, and any combination of these, including anthologies—are eligible. The following criteria are only suggested guidelines and should in no way be considered as absolutes... Depending on the book, one or more of these criteria will apply:
  • Story
  • Voice
  • Style
  • Setting
  • Accuracy
  • Characters
  • Theme
  • Illustrations
  • Design (including format, organization, etc.)

Of the 25 books I read, here are my favorites: 

1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green...very strong voice and story, unforgettable characters, the portion of the book in The Netherlands displays an unusually strong and beautiful setting; the theme, childhood cancer, is not one I have often (if ever) seen in YA lit. It is handled in a sensitive but not overly sentimental way. Even with all its hype this book deserves it. Grade: A+

2. Dodger by Terry Pratchett...compelling voice and point of view; the setting, Victorian London, seems to be accurate with comparisons to Dickens' works. Really strong and likeable characters. Pratchett inserts a kind of self deprecating humor to his writing that makes it a delight to read. Grade: A

3. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman...fantasy with a beautifully wrought setting, exquisite writing, and unforgettable characters, even the dragons. I could see the whole world that Hartman created in my mind's eye. Grade: A

4. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein...set during WWII in both England and France; the story and plot were very strong, the voice of the narrators, which shifted in the middle of the book, allowed the reader to gain insights they wouldn't have if only told from one point of view. Grade: A-

5. Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick...based on a true story of one person's experience during the reign of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia; the voice of the narrator made the story. Grade: A-

6. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Saentz...of the five LGBT books I read this year, this is my favorite.  I was so beautifully written it felt like I was reading one big, long, beautiful poem. Grade: A- (Review Pending)

7. Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater...paranormal mystery (with a bit of romance thrown in); very strong writing with enough of a plot twist to make it different than the glut of paranormal books so popular right now. Grade A-

8. Dying to Know You by Aidan Chambers...the narrator, who never identifies himself; strong descriptive writing, and the growth of the main character all make this a strong contender. Grade B+

9. Ask the Passengers by A.S. King...very strong descriptive writing and a memorable and sympathetic main character are pluses for this LGBT novel. Very strong and compelling theme of love. Grade: B+

10. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews...unique writing design styles used throughout this book (movie script, journal, quizzes). What are the chances of having two excellent books about kids with cancer in one year?  My only problem with this one is the sheer volume of foul language. It compels me to give a reading disclaimer. Grade: B+

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Note to Blogger...feel free to join in.

Dear Blogger:

This week-end I finally figured out how to "unfollow" blogs I had previous followed. The process was time-consuming and tedious.  But I did it. I went to everyone of the blogs I was following, signed in, and unfollowed if the blog was no longer current. You'd be surprised how many blogs that was, over 1/3rd! That was 120+ of the 350 I followed. That's a lot.

I understand when a person decides that blogging is no longer their thing or they need to take a hiatus. I am not faulting the 120 that stopped. But I think there are a few things that you, BLOGGER, could do to help us FOLLOWERS.
  • Several of the blogs have had no activity for over a year, a few have been inactive for over two. My suggestion, when a blog reaches 6 months of activity, Blogger should contact all the Follwers and give out the directions for how to "unfollow." Better yet, just unfollow them for us. But, at the very least, do a color coded system on the blog roll. Black=active; Blue= no activity for 3-6 months; Red= over 6 months inactivity. That would be helpful.
  • Three or four of the blogs had been hijacked by other businesses.  I had no way of unfollowing these sites and now I am being SPAMMED with information every time they update with information that I never signed up to receive.  How do I officially complain about these? And why is that possible?
  • A few of the blogs have changed their settings so that they no longer display GOOGLE FRIEND CONNECT button.  How do I "unfollow" if they have removed that button? The directions I found do not address this.
  • Some bloggers kindly said good-bye, closed their blog, and redirected us to another spot. Now am I stuck being a FOLLOWER of a dead blog? How do I "unfollow" something that no longer exists? Another suggestion here: when a person actually closes their blog, BLOGGER should automatically purge all names from the follower list. That seems only fair. Either that or give us a GARBAGE BUTTON next to each blog that we follow on our Blog Roll.  That would make "unfollowing" possible even when blogs have been killed by the author. Please, pretty please.  A garbage button would be awesome.
That's about it.  I sure hope to hear back from you, BLOGGER, with answers to my questions.  I do love blogging and I enjoy having followers, I just hope that you can help make the whole following/unfollowing process a bit better.

Thanks for your consideration.


 PS:  Followers: please make comments on this blog that you would like to address to BLOGGER yourself. Hopefully we can get some response to our questions and our issues addressed.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Top Ten Spots/Settings I'd like to See More of in Books

The Broke and Bookish
Top Ten Tuesday: Setting or Spots I'd like to read more about in books.

I actually think about this question when I am selecting books for my library, especially to celebrate our multicultural heritage. Here are some areas of the world that I find challenging finding good YA lit:

1. South America...any and all of the countries in South America. It is really difficult to find books written about or by South American authors for teens. I wonder if they are there but no one is translating them. Hmm...

2. South Pacific Islands...We have a lot of Pacific Islander students at my school, mainly from Guam and Samoa, and I have a heck of hard time finding books set in these exotic settings.

3. Philippines...We also have a lot of students with ties to the Philippines in our schools.

4. Central America...and all countries in Central America. See the note above about South America.

5. Native American Tribal Lands in the Pacific Northwest... Washington has one of the largest number of Federally recognized tribes of any state in the United States. We need more books set here.

6. Israel...we hear a lot of the conflicts in this area of the world but it is difficult to find YA Lit set in Israel in modern times.

7. Africa...any country. I'm eager for more stories about daily life, not just genocide and AIDS problems.

8. Spain and Portugal

9. Greece and Turkey

10. Australia and New Zealand

Review: Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

So far I have read twenty-three books in preparation for the 2013 Mock Printz Workshop (which I will be hosting on January 28th in my library.) I know, that is the day that the actual Printz awards will be announced but I had to pick that late date because of school related conflicts like "Finals Week" and the Poetry Out Loud School-wide Contest. (Needless to say I will have to go on an Internet blackout that day or I might accidentally bump into the results before my workshop, and that would blow the whole thing.) Anyway.... I've been reading like crazy and I keep adding books onto the already too long list to try and consume in this ninth hour. Ask the Passengers by A.S. King  is one such book. It came out in late October, well after our Mock Printz list was established.  I started hearing good things about the book as soon as it was published. With budget issues and then the holidays, I didn't even get a copy for the library until early January.  By that time there was a strong chorus of voices singing it's praise.

With all that build-up you will be surprised to learn that my initial reaction was "meh." When I read books deserving of the Printz Award, I want something special, super special. Hadn't I read this book before or a variation of it? You know the book I'm talking about, where the main character is confused about sexuality but the parents and friends all are too messed up or distracted to be emotionally available to help? Or the book that is set is such a small (minded and/or sized) community that the people are all in everyone's business and carry with them stereotypes and judgments reinforced by the rest of the community. And lastly, a tale of woe where the main character has friends and seems fairly well adjusted until one critical error causes everyone's opinion to turn on a dime.  I hate that. Where are the adults when the kids need them and all the harassment is happening in the halls? Couldn't a story about a questioning teen ever be set in a supportive community with parents and adults who understand that navigating through adolescence is difficult and often requires TLC and in a world where school personnel who do their job to keep kids safe?  *Sigh. Guess you can tell that is a big deal for me.

Lest you think I'm being a bit harsh, remember I am judging this book against the "special standard" in my mind for potential award books. And my first reaction was "no, this book doesn't meet the specialness standard." But what about the interesting conversations that Astrid has with socrates? And how about the passengers on the airplanes that receive her love? And why did I care so much about what happened to Astrid in her hour of need? Hmm...maybe there really are quite a few special aspects of this story.

I really enjoyed the blog post by A.S. King where she talked about the book along with her influences and inspirations. This post actually helped me see the book in a new light. She said that she really wanted the story to be about love.  Please go read the whole post but here is just a snippet:

In Ask the Passengers, Astrid Jones has a lot of love. And like many people her age (17) she would like to find love, too. Except that she’s very confused about a lot of things. Because she thinks she might love a girl…and she’s a girl. And that’s complicated in her town and in her family and in her society and in her world. But it really isn’t. Love is love. Nobody can tell me it isn’t. Nobody can tell me that my love is more important, real or relevant than another person’s love.

She also talks about philosophers and her motivation for including them in the book:
So, when Astrid Jones explores philosophy during her time of questioning, she has that same mix of love and hate I experienced when I was first introduced to philosophy. On one hand, Zeno infuriates her because he seems to be complicating something simple. On the other hand, Socrates and his need to question everything and open minds helps her open her own mind and see the world the same as The Allegory of the Cave, and in so doing, he helps her realize that very simple fact—no matter what the shadows in the cave say, love is love. -A.S. King on Book Smuggler
Gives one quite a bit to think about. One of my teen readers, a male, returned the book on Friday with this comment: "Wow, this book is good. I'd give it a 9 out of 10. I think it should be considered for our Mock Printz." Sounds good to me.  What are your thoughts on the book?


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday Salon...January 20th

Weather: We have been living within a frozen cloud (Fog) for the past three days here at home. But if we travel a few hundred feet in elevation, like where my school is located, the sky is clear and beautiful.

This past week: We attended the Governor's Inaugural Ball in Olympia, Washington. It was a grand occasion and so fun. See photo, it doesn't do the whole event justice.

Yesterday: We attempted a movie, but there was no parking at all at the theater.  Guess everyone was sick of the fog and wanted to spend the afternoon inside. We came home and wrote our thank you cards for Christmas gifts instead.

Today: I fell on the ice on the porch stairs as I was attempting to assist the dog who couldn't get up the stairs because they were so...wait for it...icy. To her credit, the dog "came to my rescue" as soon as I fell down. Nothing is broken.

Tomorrow: I will be glued to the TV watching the 2nd Inauguration of President Obama.

Books I'm reading:

  • The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth... a LGBT novel about a girl who is sent to a "re-education camp" for being a lesbian. 
  • 52 Little Lessons from It's a Wonderful Life by Bob Welsh...I'm plugging a way on this book. Each devotion is about three pages, very doable.

Audiobooks I'm listening to right now:

  • Railsea by China Mieville...a take on Herman Melville's Moby Dick.  I just got started and so far I am flat out confused.
  • The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne Valente...I'm half finished with this sequel to The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland... but will need to suspend listening to it because I want to finish Railsea before my Mock Printz even on January 28th.

Recently finished:

  • Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell... a historical fiction set in the early 1920s. Loved it.
  • Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick...a victim of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia speaks out. Very touching and important.
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz..."a beautiful story brilliantly told."-The book jacket. The best LGBT book I've read all year, maybe ever.

Today's Scripture: Philippians 3:1 "Rejoice in the Lord, again I say rejoice."

Around the House: Daughter #2 is home for the long week-end. I love having her here and miss her so much when she is away at college.

From the Kitchen: Homemade Chicken Parmesan. Delicious!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Review: Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick


Initially I thought that Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick was a redundant book that just copied it's nonfiction cousins, the Alive in the Killing Fields by Nawuth Keat and First They Killed My Father---a Daughter of Cambodia Remembers by Loung Ung. Then I started reading it and the voice of the young narrator, Arn, got in my head and I was completely captivated by his voice and horrified by his story. I also thought that Patricia McCormick, who wrote the powerful story SOLD about young girls and prostitution in Asia, had just done a very good job researching the topic of the Cambodian genocide of the 1970s. It was not until I neared the end of the book that I realized the Arn is an actual person and McCormick based this book on his experiences with the Khmer Rouge as a young teen. Indeed the MARC record for the book says "it is a work of fiction based on a true story."

In the Author's Note, McCormick writes:
"Over the course of two years, I spent countless hours with Arn Chorn-Pond- at my home during long, emotionally draining interviews; in new England, talking to his adoptive family; in Cambodia, where we retraced virtually every step of his life during the three years, eight months, and twenty days of the reign of the Khmer Rouge...I asked Arn difficult, probing questions about his actions- the heroic and the horrific...Then I wrote his story as a novel. Like all trauma survivors, Arn can recall certain experiences in chilling detail; others he can tell in only vague generalities... Trying to capture that voice was like trying to bottle a lightening bug. Every time I imposed the rules of grammar or syntax on it, the lights went out. And so, in telling Arn's story I chose to use his own distinct and beautiful voice..."
 This voice, Arn's voice, that McCormick captures in Never Fall Down is what makes this book extraordinarily special. It makes the story come alive and real, as if Arn is in the room with me telling his horrific story. Here is just a small sample:
"Always, with a kind voice, they say to each other, comrade this, comrade that. One day you are comrade. The next day corpse."
 Arn, who was eventually adopted by an American family, wondered why he lived when so many died. His adoptive father told him it was because he was chosen. He felt that Arn was chosen to tell the story of his people and the war that so many have already forgotten.  In Never Fall Down we are reminded of the horrors of war, particularly on children, yet we also see the indomitable human spirit. Thank you, Arn Chorn-Pond, for sharing your story with us and Patricia McCormick for your beautiful writing. We will remember.

If I were giving out grades, this book just earned an A+.


Monday, January 14, 2013

It's Monday, Jan. 14 and I'm reading...

Sheila at Book Journey

Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Textt
Currently Reading:
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Saenz...this has been on my bedside table for over a month and I finally opened it today. My goal, finish it by weeks end.
  • 52 Little Lessons from It's a Wonderful Life by Bob Welch...love the movie? Bob has some small lessons and inspirational thoughts culled from it.
I'm listening to:
  • The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne Valente...the second book in this creative and unique series. I'm a fan.
What I've recently finished:
  • Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell...historical fiction set during the Roaring Twenties  in Cairo. I enjoyed listening to this audiobook very much.
  • Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl...a Regency-style romance/romp that is quite readable and upbeat..
  • Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick...in the voice of a young Cambodian boy forced to work and fight for the Khmer Rouge. This book, though depressing, is a must read to understand the impact of wars, genocide, yet the indomitable human spirit.

What are you reading?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday Salon, January 13

Weather...clear and cold; unusual for the Pacific Northwest even in the winter. Weather reports say there may be snow in our future, even rarer.

Today...I got up early to attend the first service at church so I could get home to watch the Seahawks (Seattle football) play their playoff game in Atlanta. But when I got home, the fine weather called my name.  I first had to take the dog out for a walk. She must not be feeling well and I practically had to drag her around the block. Poor thing.

Yesterday...I had one of those rare "do nothing" days, which doesn't mean I did nothing, but I did what I wanted which meant a lot of reading and blogging.

What I'm reading:

  • 52 Little Lessons from It's a Wonderful Life by Bob Welsh...I am attempting to read three lessons per day.
  • Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick...a fictional look at the Killings Fields of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Powerful and depressing, but very readable.

My audiobook:

  • Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell...this is my first book by this author but it won't be my last. Wow. This book has it all---a bit of romance, mystery, and history. Set in Cairo in 1921 around the time of the Cairo Peace Conference that divided up the Middle East.

Recently finished:

  • Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl...a lighthearted Regency romance/romp with a happy-ending. 

Scripture lesson: Philippians 2:15, 16  "Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life."  

Around the house: we delivered our daughter back to college last Sunday.  The house always seems so quiet and empty when she leaves. *Sigh.

From the kitchen: I didn't bake it, but I bought a loaf of pumpkin/chocolate chip bread at the local bakery. Delicious.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Know Me Better, January 12

I Am a Reader-Not a Writer

"Know Me Better"

This Week's Questions:
Where is your favorite spot to read?
Are you a fast or slow reader? (you can test your reading speed here)
Fanfiction - Love it or Hate it? Have your ever read/written it?
Summer or Winter?
Truth or Dare?

My Answers:

  • My favorite spot to read is currently the couch in the family room but I have also found a bit of time to read at the desk in my back office during lunch time.  My absolute favorite spot is in the hammock  in the backyard but not this time of year, obviously. :)
  • I took the little test and found that I read around 380 words/min.  If I were able to maintain that speed of reading I could read War and Peace in 28 hours.  Ha!
  • Fanfiction?  I don't even know what it is.  I looked it up and still don't know.  Please tell me.
  • Summer. Duh!
  • Truth, I'm not a very daring person.

Feel free to join in the fun.  Either answer the questions on your own blog or in the comment section.  Click the link above to sign up.

Review: Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl

Keeping the Castle is a Regency romance by Patrice Kindl told in the voice of Althea Crawley, a seventeen-year-old beauty who lives in Crooked Castle with her mother, young brother, and two step-sisters. Finances are bad and Althea knows that she must use her beauty to make an advantageous marriage. The castle, which is precariously situated on the Yorkshire cliffs, is falling apart and Althea desperately wants to repair the castle so that her brother, Alexander, has something to inherit. Fortunately there are plenty of eligible bachelors nearby: The Marquis of Bumbershook, Lord Boring, Mr. Godalming, and Mr. Hugh Fredericks. Whom should she choose? Or better asked, who will choose her?

There is little doubt right at the outset of the story that things are going to end well, but this upbeat little story has plenty of fun and lighthearted moments in between.

I was all prepared to give this book a neutral to bad review.  It is so silly and trite.  And what is with all the weird names?  I could never figure out if Kindl was using them as a play on words or not.  Other reviewers have mentioned the similarities to Austen novels. It also brought to mind I Capture the Castle by Bette Smith, from which this book seems to have borrowed a few themes. It doesn't seem like this book should even be mentioned in the same breath with these two classics.

But after closing the book, with a big smile on my lips, I thought perhaps it wouldn't kill me to say a few nice words about this book, too.  It is silly,  but also sweet and often funny. While Austen's characters usually take themselves very seriously, Althea doesn't.  It is as if she knows that everything will end well even when circumstances appear bleak.

Next I thought about my library users.  Most of them cannot make themselves read Austen or Smith, even if they try. They won't have the same problems with this book.  Here is a Regency romance packaged for today's readers. Nothing wrong with that.

Friday, January 11, 2013

2012 Hottest books in the GKHS library

Lists. Lists. lists. Here is a list of the most popular books in the GKHS Library in 2012. 

Our school assigns summer reading for students. I have removed those four books from the list and any others that the kids HAD to read. Those four books are: The Alchemist by Coelho; The Hunger Games by Collins; The Uglies by Westerfeld; and Touching Spirit Bear by Mikaelsen.

1. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
2. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
3. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green*
4. The Maze Runner by James Dashner**
5. Divergent by Veronica Roth**
6. The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow**
7. Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony* -1
8. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare**
9. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor**
10. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers*
11. Pretties by Scott Westerfeld
12. Inheritance by Christopher Paolini
13. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
14. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews*
15. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick**
16. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
17. Swim the Fly by Don Calame**
18. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher**
19. Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson**
20. Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien
21. The Death Cure by James Dashner -1
22. Graceling by Kristin Cashore**
23. Dying to Know You by Aidan Chambers*
24. Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith**
25. Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick
26. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson**
27. The Difference Between You and Me by Madeleine George*
28. Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkes
29. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater**
30. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie**
31. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys**
32. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak**
33. Halo by Alexandra Adornetto -1
34. The Monstrumologist by Richard Yancey**
35. The Good Braider by Terry Farish*
36. Maximum Ride: the Angel Experiment by James Patterson**
37. The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan -1
38. Specials by Scott Westerfeld
39. Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck -1
40. Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach**

*...These books are part of my 2013 Mock Printz reading list.
**...These are on my Nifty-Fifty Cart, high-interest, easily accessible books in a special location.  This is proof to me that this cart of books does attract readers.
-1... I only have one copy of each of the books with this legend. One way of thinking about it is that these books circulated the most of any of the books, at least 20 times each.

What are our favorite books on my list? What are the favorite books in your library?


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Friday Posts...January 11

Alison Can Read.
Parajunkee's View

Feature and Follow Friday.
Congratulations to the featured blogs:  Never Too Fond of Books and The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia

Question of the day:

If you could choose one supernatural being/creature to really exists what would it be and why?

I'd like The Incredibles to really exist.  They are the good guys and have really "incredible" gifts. And, of course, I'd like to be Elasti-Girl, or have her gifts!

Rose City Reader
Book Beginnings on Friday

Book: Boy 21 by Matthew Quick, from the preface: "Sometimes I pretend that shooting hoops in my backyard is my earliest memory."

Thoughts: I've only read the preface so far. What I know to this point: the boy's mother is gone, his grandfather lives with them, and the boy wants to please his father by being really good at basketball. I liked Matthew Quick's first book, Sorta like a Rock Star so I am looking forward to this one. I am hoping that it will be a book that attracts male readers, a hard audience to please.

Have a fun Friday!

Teacher-Librarians---The Heart of Student Learning

This video makes me proud to be a teacher-librarian in the State of Washington. Take a look and pat yourself on the back if you agree that libraries are the heart of your school.

Today two Math teachers dropped by my library and told me that our library is "the bridge of the starship." I agree proudly!

 Washington Library Media Association.


Monday, January 7, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: 2013 Reading Goals

Broke and Bookish Host
Reading Goals for 2013

1. Read at least 9 books a month, per average.
2. Read all the Printz Award and Honor Books.
3. Read all the American Library Association AWARD books (not necessarily HONOR) books in 10 categories. These will be announced the end of January.
4. Read at least five books that I have here at home. (I only read two of my own books last year.)
5. Listen to at least 20 Audiobooks.
6. Spend at least one month reading only books that I want and no books that I "have to read".
7. Read at least three Chris Crutcher books.
8. Read at least three Printz award books from previous years that I haven't read yet.
9. Read or listen to at least two classic books.
10. Turn off the computer and read more each day.

Review: Dodger by Terry Pratchett

Dodger is a delightful and funny novel by Sir Terry Pratchett. Dodger is a departure from the Discworld series and this novel has a definite upbeat feeling about it even though it deals with a very serious subject---life and poverty in Victorian London.

Our hero, Dodger, could easily be Dicken's Artful Dodger, an upbeat but very streetwise kid. In fact, Charles Dickens is a character in this tale. Dodger is an orphan who makes a living by toshing, or going down into the sewers looking for coins and other treasures. When asked by Henry Mayhew if he likes toshing, Dodger answered that it does give him quite a lot of freedom. Mayhew, as you may or may not know, was the sociologist who wrote the book about the deplorable conditions of the working poor in 19th century England. Pratchett not only included him as a character in the book but he even dedicated it to Mayhew.

Dodger is quite an optimist considering the awful living conditions that confront him. He does try to mind his own business at all times but can't help getting involved when he witnesses two men beating up a young women. This act of heroism changes his life and brings him to the attention of many famous people including Prime Minister Disraeli and Queen Victoria.

Pratchett's style is so down to earth and funny that I would find myself suddenly laughing out loud at his word choices or notes of sarcasm. For example, a doctor gives Dodger a "cursory look with quite a lot of curse in it." Pratchett's explanation at the end of the book about his word choices and and use of slang was not only helpful but downright hilarious. It felt like he was was just joking around with me personally.

My husband and I listened to this book artfully read by Stephen Briggs. Here's a shout-out to Briggs. He does a great job.

Dodger is so successful are thwarting evil and handling his new found fame that readers can't help but cheer him along. And I can't help but cheer for this delightful novel and it's master storyteller author, Sir Terry Pratchett.


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sunday Salon...January 6, 2013

UO Duck skydiving.

Today: First Sunday of the New Year and first Seattle Seahawks playoff game (hopefully more to come.) We, the whole family, are watching the game right now.

Yesterday: we took down the Christmas decorations. Now the house looks dull and drab.  This happens every January after I put away all the bright, colorful Christmas trimmings.

This past week: the University of Oregon football team won the Fiesta Bowl, 35-17.  My favorite play was the opening play where DeAnthony Thomas ran the ball back for a touchdown.  Way to go, Ducks!

Currently reading:

  • Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl...I've just started this story which seems to be a combination Jane Austen story, a Cinderella re-telling, and I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (which I love, by the way.) Already I am picking up that the story is a bit silly and the characters a cliches.  I'll reserve judgment until I read a bit more.
  • 52 Lessons from It's a Wonderful Life by Bob Welsh...The title says is all.  I love the movie and watch it every holiday season. Bob Welsh is a family friend. I am loving it.


  • Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell... set in the Roaring Twenties, the main character is just leaving for an adventure in Egypt.

Recently finished:

  • Dodger by Terry Pratchett...a delightful and clever tale in the style of Dickens, who is in fact a character in this book.  Pratchett is a master and very funny story-teller.
  • Ask the Passengers by A.S. King... a high school senior is questioning her sexual orientation but has no friends or family members which she trusts to talk over her concerns. Look for my review of this book later today or tomorrow.

Today's scripture lesson: Philippians 1: 27 "Whatever happens conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ."

New Year's Resolution: to do my utmost to follow the above scripture.

A commercial message: I recently discovered The Body Shop Body Butters. I have such dry skin that I usually spend all winter completely miserable.  Now my skin is smooth and soft. My favorites are all designed for very dry skins: mango, shea, or cocoa.

From the kitchen: two new recipes that were BIG hits: Chicken Enchiladas made with green sauce; Minty Chocolate Crinkle Cookies.