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

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sunday Salon...Easter 2013

Have a Wonderful Easter!

Weather: Gorgeous. The weatherman says it will be 70 degrees today, sunny, warm and clear.

Today: Church then dinner with family and friends.  We are cooking lamb, a first.

Yesterday: The first day of Spring Break, slept in, shopped, puttered in the garden, walked the dog, read.

Tomorrow: We head to Victoria, BC for a few days of vacation and sightseeing.

This week I finished these books:

  • Ten Poems to Change Your Life by Roger Housden...I need this guy to explain all poems to me. 
  • The Wicked Wit of Jane Austen...one of those little books with quotes from her letters and books.

My Spring Break Reading List:

  • The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
  • Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo
  • The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
  • Prodigy by Marie Lu
  • The Light Between Oceans by ML. Stedman 
Scripture:  Mark 16:6,7  “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.  But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”

Spring yard: Spring is hard upon us now. As you can see in the photo above, the street trees are in full bloom.  Up and down the street the pink of the flowering plum makes the neighborhood look gorgeous. A few tulips are up and blooming. Step outside and the scent of spring is everywhere. I understand the Berlin is experiencing the coldest Spring in recorded history, and it has snowed in the heartland of our country, yet here we are with glorious, warm spring weather.

From the kitchen: Leg of lamb with roast potatoes and asparagus.

Quote:  "Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in spring-time."  ~Martin Luther



Saturday, March 30, 2013

April is National Poetry Month


April is National Poetry Month

Poets. org

Throughout the month I shall attempt to highlight favorite poems, poets and poetry collections.

Here's a fun poem by Billy Collins that serves as a good starter to poetry month:

Introduction to Poetry
by Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want the to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

-from The Apple that Astonished Paris, 1996

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Recommend

Books I Recommend the Most

For Teen Boys:

  • Runner by Carl Deuker...Boys really like this story which is set in Seattle. It has the character teetering on the edge between good and bad. Good wins.
  • Swim the Fly by Don Calame...just about the funniest book I've ever read. Naked ladies, farts, burps, silly stuff.
  • Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach...fun, spots stuff, yet a serious storyline, too.
  • I Am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak...older teen males really like this book where a slacker guy makes good.
  • The Maze Runner by James Dashner...kids who love the dystopian genre, this is the book I recommend after Hunger Games.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams...only for the students who enjoy quirky books. Some kids aren't ready for the type of humor in this book.
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline...I would recommend this book more but it is always checked out.

For Teen Girls:

  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green...I have yet to meet a girl who doesn't like this book.
  • Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson...this book really speaks to older teen girls who are ready to leave the nest.
  • The Sky is Everywhere by Mandy Nelson...girls love this touching story of grief and young love.
  • Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater...actually anything by this author.  I am a huge fan.
  • The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting...this book is set in a near-by community. Girls who like the paranormal genre really like this whole series.
  • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins...French culture and romance. Ah! 

Both:
  • Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers...assassin nuns. Need I say more?
  • Seraphina by Rachel Hartman...fantasy, dragons, half-dragons, music, adventure.
  • Divergent by Veronica Roth...dystopian adventure
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews...even though there is a dying girl in the book there is lots to like and laugh about. Boys appreciate the varied writing styles used in the text. Girls sigh about the way things turn out.
  • Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins...It is still so popular.
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore...I wasn't going to add this book because it has been out for so long, but just today a boy stopped by the circulation counter to rave about this book.  




Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday Salon...Daffodil edition

Sunday Salon... Moss, I mean, Daffodil Edition.


It is spring in the Northwest. Spring means moss daffodils in the Puyallup Valley where we are known for our daffodils, we even have a daffodil festival and parade in a few weeks. This year, however, I think it should be paired with moss because we have the green stuff growing everywhere...under our bedding plants, on our driveway, throughout our lawn, even on our roof. Take a close look at the  picture of my Japanese Maple, below, which has a blanket of moss below it after this winter. Here is a quote about moss I found in The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, the book I just started reading today:

Moss is selected to be the emblem of maternal love, because, 
like that love, it glads the heart when the winter of adversity 
overtakes us, and when summer friends have deserted us. 
--Henrietta Dumont, The Floral Offering


Weather: Cool and overcast with occasional sunbreaks.

Today and yesterday: we have been glued in front of the TV watching the NCAA Basketball Tournament. We did make a trip out to look at the fields of daffodils and purchased a small, antique dresser at the daffodil farm that is going out of business. Sigh. My husband and I also took the dog for a walk. It was colder outside than we anticipated.

Photo taken in the courtyard of Van Lierop's bulb farm
This past week was Jane Austen Week in my library. I am an unabashed Jane Austen fan and enjoy sharing my passion with others.  See my post here about the event.

Spring yard: We had a cold, rainy week so the flowering plums are just now starting to blossom out. I thought they'd be further along. It was so wet out that I didn't make a tour of the yard this week to see what else was poking out of the earth. 


Today at church: It was Palm Sunday and we are entering Holy Week. We had a special service today that involved the whole congregation processing into the sanctuary at the same time. This week we are encouraged to pray for specific people and events around our church all week as we prepare for Easter.

Scripture: John 14:1 Jesus said: "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me."
Aren't daffodils one of the happiest looking flowers?
Book completed this week: The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin. Set in Wenatchee, Washington around the turn of the 20th century. This book wasn't what I expected and I'm withholding judgment about it while I let it settle in my brain.

Still reading: Prodigy by Marie Lu. But at least this week I can say I've made progress.  My goal is to have this one done by or before Friday!

Just started audiobook: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, a book club selection.

On deck: The Paris Wife by Paula McClain, the All-Pierce County Reads book and another book club selection.

From the kitchen: Homemade oatmeal cookies with deluxe raisins. A family favorite.

Quote of the week: "A house with daffodils in it is a house lit up, whether or no the sun be shining outside." --A.A. Milne

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Jane Austen Week in the Library


This past week was the fourth annual Jane Austen Week in my library. This year in honor of the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice we watched the Keira Knightley version of the film every lunch period for the week.  Because of the length of the film (over 2 hours) we didn't have as much time for trivia as in past years.

Highlights:

  • An average of ten students per lunch, mostly girls, rushed to the library, carrying their lunches. We have three different lunches at the school.  One lunch had more students than the other two, around 15 students.
  • The four out of five of the trivia questions focused on Pride and Prejudice. 
  • Prizes issued for lunch winners and the grand prize winner (highest total all lunches) were: 1st Lunch: Hailey chose the book Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman (a Pride and Prejudice retelling); 2nd lunch: Hannah chose a hardback edition of Pride and Prejudice; 3rd lunch Brianna chose a Sayings of Jane Austen book. The grand prize winner of Alicia and she won an antique handkerchief from Great Britain, part of my husband's grandmother's collection.  
  • Students sipped on Twinings English Breakfast tea with milk and sugar and nibbled on shortbread while they watched the finale. One gal told me that she had never had before in her life. I hoped she liked it.
  • Though most students have seen the movie several times, they all seemed to enjoy the experience. I know I did.

BTW- I just ordered my own set of Jane Austen stamps (see photo above) from the Royal Mail.

Know Me Better...March 23

Hosted by I am a Reader-Not a Writer

This Week's Questions

What is the kindest thing anyone has done for you?
What is most memorable about your high school years?
Have you ever gotten up early for a "black Friday sale"?
Were you named after anyone?
Would you bungee jump, skydive or something similar?

What is the kindest thing anyone has done for you?
When my husband was serving in Iraq neighbors and friends were so generous with their time in helping us with yard work and household tasks that we couldn't manage ourselves. I still feel so grateful nine years later.

What is most memorable about your high school years?
Two things percolate to the top of mind: a) Ken, Rita, Gerry, Andy and I goofing around together. We would do silly things like fire drills from our cars when we got to intersections or pool tournaments. b) SYMCO and church camp---I was on a church council of youth that met once a month and planned a summer camp. I loved those meetings and the friends I made. 

Have you ever gotten up early for a "black Friday sale"?
Depends on how early is early. I get up every Black Friday by 8 AM or so to go to the sock sale at Fred Meyer. But that is generally it. That sale ends at 11 AM so I usually don't have to get up that early.

Were you named after anyone?
A woman that worked with my mom. I have never met her, so it is pretty unspecial.

Would you bungee jump, skydive or something similar?
No. I get frightened on roller-coasters. I can't even imagine coming up with the nerve to free fall, even for a short period of time.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Retrospective Wednesday: One! Hundred! Demons!


 

Retrospective Wednesday is a feature at My Head is Full of Books designed to give bloggers a chance to highlight a book that was published in previous years, in the hope that it will cause others to go back and read it. The featured book must have been published one or more years ago. 



One! Hundred! Demons! by Lynda Barry is the very first "autobiofictionalography" reviewed on this blog. In the first view pages of this graphic novel/biography we learn that Lynda Barry the cartoonist/artist/author decided that she was going to face her demons after reading that Buddism teaches that each person must face 100 demons in their lifetime. Here we are treated to nearly twenty semi-autobiographical comic strip stories set up in a scrapbook format with the demons identified with one word: Dancing, Hot dogs, Hate, San Francisco, etc.

Notice all the "monsters" on the page? Each comic strip is full of these little extras. Such a delight to eyes.
"With fantastic powers of memory (or perhaps imagination) Barry recreates the near-hallucinatory, intensely observed world of childhood," said Andrew Arnold of Time Entertainment in 2002 when the book was first published. As Lynda faces her demons we are led to believe that all was not well in her life at home, school, or in the lower-class neighborhood where she lived. But then again, she was facing her demons, so one can't really go bragging about the good stuff at the same time. Lynda's mother does not come out well in these sketches.  She was angry and abusive, making me marvel that Lynda made it out of childhood in one piece. And, in case you are wondering, I understand that she has been a very popular cartoonist and now leads workshops helping authors find the creativity and inspiration to write. "Fictional or not Barry's demons have a kind of authenticity that makes them totally real" (Arnold.)

Sometimes I find myself crying just thinking about the sad parts of books .
There is a lot to relate to in the demon sketches, maybe not the angry parent part but sketches that express the awkwardness of the teenage years, aching over dumb decisions, wishing that adults would talk to us about negative emotions as well as positive ones, and so forth. I was even tempted to try my hand at a "demon journal" and then decided that, at this time, it is best to let "dead dogs lie."

Look for this treasure at your public or school library. It is a delight.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday Salon...St. Patrick's Day!


Happy St. Patrick's Day! May the luck o' the Irish be with ye all year.

The photo is the St. Patrick's Day troll earrings I wore to school on Friday.  Only two students commented on them.  One male teacher said that he didn't know if he was "allowed" to say anything about troll earrings. Being careful not to offend, I guess. I think they are funny.

Weather: It is sunny but cold right now. It snowed a few flakes yesterday.  So we are experiencing our typical weird March weather. I am just about to run outside to deadhead more hydrangeas. I should prune the rose bushes but probably won't. Woops, I missed the sun, now it is sprinkling.

Yesterday: My husband and I moved books in my library for a few hours. As I reported on Fridays post I made a decision to incorporate the reference books into the regular collection which means moving nearly all of the nonfiction books.  A Big Job. We are done through the 500s (Science) which sounds like I am half way done but the library has tons of 900s (History) books. I am so grateful to Don for giving up four hours of his Saturday.

Yesterday evening: we watched the UO Ducks win the Pac-12 Basketball Tournament against UCLA.

Today: We started the day helping out at the homeless program at our church.

This week in the library: Jane Austen Week! I'll be showing Pride and Prejudice every lunch period for a week in honor of  200th year anniversary of that book. We also play games, have trivia contests, and award prizes. It is my favorite event of the year. Any Austen fans (or soon-to-be Austen fans) are welcome.

Spring yard: the hyacinths are blooming. I don't know how I missed them popping up but they are in full bloom now. The flowering plum is ready to burst, it will be in full bloom by next Sunday, I'm sure.  The candy-tuft is looking quite pretty with its white flowers. And the small-leaf rhododendron (looks like an azalea) is just starting to bloom on the side facing the house (guess it is warmer that direction.) Flowers are everywhere. As I drove around today I noticed lots of daffodils, camellias, and flowering trees.

Books currently reading:
  • The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin this is for an upcoming book club in a few months but the book came in from the public library so I am reading it now.
  • Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James is like visiting old friends.
  • Prodigy by Marie Lu.  Sigh.  Need I say more
Books completed this past week (remember I didn't complete any books the week before)-
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Audiobook. Fabulous. Check out my review.
  • Emma by Jane Austen. Whoop! I finished it (after one year of reading!) Final update here.
  • One Hundred Demons by Lynda Barry, graphic biography. Look for my review soon.
  • Dead to You by Lisa McCann. Here's the review.
  • Four-Star Movies: the 101 Greatest Films of All Time by Kinn and Piazza. Make your own top movie list and join in the discussion here.
Lenten prayer focus of the week: for people who struggle with depression or addiction.

Scripture today: John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

From the kitchen: New England boiled dinner again today.  Hey, it's St. Patrick's Day.  We can have the same dinner two times in one month!

Musical selection of the Day: "Sull'aria" or "Che Soave Zeffiretto" a duet from The Marriage of Fiagro by Mozart. This is the song that Andy Dufresne plays for the prison yard in Shawshank Redemption. I've been trying to figure out the song for years. I found the answer in the Four-Star Movies book and immediately purchased it on iTunes. Here it is for your listening (and viewing) enjoyment:


The actual song in the opera

 or the song with beautiful scenery. Take your pick.




Or the actual scene from the movie. Heck, listen to all three. Happy Sunday.
 


Saturday, March 16, 2013

3rd and final update on Emma progress

Illustration by C.E. Brock

In an effort to move myself along toward completing Emma by Jane Austen I decided to blog about my progress.  This will be be last installment as I did it,  I finished the book.  Beware there are spoilers ahead.

Weekly progress: Part three, chapter 13 to end.

50 page goal: yes, or I ran out of pages to read, at any rate.

Action: Mr. Knightly returns from London to console Emma and ends up confessing his love for her. Frank writes a super long letter to Mrs. Weston explaining his actions in concealing his engagement to Jane Fairfax. Emma frets about her how her father and Harriet Smith will take the engagement. Mrs. Elton has snotty things to say about Emma. Mr. Knightly agrees to move into Hartfield so that Mr. Woodhouse won't be alone without Emma. He finally is happy about the arrangement when neighboring chicken coops are raided and he sees Mr. Knightly as a protector of his property.

Surprises: I was delighted by how many surprises I encountered in these last few chapters of the book.  The first shocker was that Jane Fairfax actually broke off the secret engagement with Frank Churchill right around the same time as the death of his aunt, so there was a delay in getting all that sorted out before they were happily back together. Next, Harriet Smith was sent by Emma to London for a month to stay with Isabella, Emma's sister, after the engagement. It was Mr. Knightly who told Emma that Mr. Martin and Harriet Smith would be getting married, not Harriet to Emma (as in the movies.) Lastly, and this is a trite surprise, Harriet's parentage was discovered.

Comments: I have always loved the C.E. Brock illustrations for the Austen books.  The link I provided above will get you to a page that has all his illustrations for Emma. Once I built up a head of steam, I quite enjoyed reading Emma and found that I was more interested in spending time on it that the other stuff I was currently working on. This weekly update really helped keep me on task.

Thanks for reading, and by doing so encouraging my completion of this classic novel.

Friday, March 15, 2013

A little diversion into the best movies of all time

I try to keep the focus on books, though I often divert off into personal matters like what I have growing in the garden or what's been good in the kitchen. So today you won't be completely shocked to see that I want to talk about movies, good movies, the best movies of all time!

It all started in the library, however, when I decided (probably stupidly) to move some books around.  More specifically I decided to move my whole reference section out. Kids don't use reference books anymore, or rarely.  If they do look for information in the library among the books, they look in the subject areas. So I decided to integrate the two. Why not just move the reference books in and among the other books on the same subject? It makes sense to do it, at least on paper. But the reality of moving a few reference books out actually means moving nearly every book in the whole nonfiction section of the library.  Gulp!  That is a big job.

I started the job this week..needless to say I'm tired.

Anyway...while I was looking over the reference books, I got to the 700s, These are the art, music, and sports books.  Most of these reference books were just oversized books that don't fit on library shelves well.  I pulled out one of these books and looked at it for the very first time: Four-Star Movies: the 101 Greatest Films of All Time by Gail Kinn and Jim Piazza, copyright date 2003. I'm sure this book ended up in reference because of its size. I determined to move it or weed it but I opened it first.

What are the top ten best movies of all time, at least as of ten years ago?  Hmm.  Let me think? If I was making the list I'd put all the movies I like on the list. Here's a quick try on my part:
Anne's list:
1.  Gone with the Wind                             2. Sound of Music
3.  The Wizard of Oz                                4. Dr. Zhivago
5.  Mary Poppins                                     6. Toy Story
7. Grease                                                 8. It's a Wonderful Life
9. Singin' in the Rain                               10. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Notice that my list is a bit heavy on the feel good endings and lots of music?

Now for the Four-Star, Top Ten Movies listed in the book:
1. Godfather I and II                                 2. Casablanca
3. Citizen Cane                                          4. Gone with the Wind
5. Lawrence of Arabia                             6. North by Northwest
7. The Wizard of Oz                                 8. Annie Hall
9. Chinatown                                           10. Singin' in the Rain

Hey, we agreed on a few. I'm probably the only person alive in my generation that hasn't ever seen a Godfather movie. I vaguely remember Citizen Cane and North by Northwest. I haven't seen Lawrence of Arabia or Chinatown, and distinctly remember disliking Annie Hall. It irritated me.

While I was at it I decided to check out what "Normal" People think are the Top Ten movies of all time. I found this list on the Top 100 Movies as voted by normal people website:
1. Godfather I                                            2. Shawshank Redemption
3. Titanic                                                   4. Casablanca
5. Forrest Gump                                        6. Lord of the Rings, Return of the Kings
7. Pulp Fiction                                           8. Gone with the Wind
9. Schindler's List                                      10. The Dark Knight

Obviously, this is a very hard list to make and is based a lot on personal preference.

I am enjoying the big book, even if I don't agree with the authors choices. It is fun to make lists and to prioritize. It is also fun to read about movies I know and I don't know.  One thing is for sure I'd better see Godfather sometime.

Now it is your turn.  What are your top ten movies?



 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Review: Dead to You by Lisa McCann



 Ethan was abducted from his front yard when he was just seven years old. Now, at sixteen, he has returned to his family. It's a miracle... at first. Then the tensions start to build. His reintroduction to his old life isn't going smoothly, and his family is tearing apart all over again. If only Ethan could remember something, anything, about his life before, he'd be able to put the pieces back together.
But there's something that's keeping his memory blocked. Something unspeakable...

Right from the beginning of the book Dead to You by Lisa McCann I had this foreboding feeling that something terrible was going to happen. Perhaps it was the title, Dead to You. Hmm. That should be a clue, right? Or the book jacket and promo like the one I got off Lisa McCann's own webpage and pasted above. It is pretty obvious that this is not just the story about an abducted boy who finds his way home nine years later. A boy who has a few things to work out. As I read I kept thinking that there is something else that will be revealed, some awful something. But as the end of the book neared and things were starting to wrap up nicely for Ethan I thought I was mistaken. I thought this up until the last page and then, Wham-o!

All I can say is don't jump to the end of the book early.

Though not a personal favorite, Dead to You has a lot for teen readers to like: a little romance mixed in with the family drama, and a mystery. The book is very readable with short chapters and realistic teen language (translation: foul language.) The pacing of the book is such that even reluctant readers might find themselves gobbling this one up.

In my typical style I listened to the audiobook while in the car and read the actual book while in the house. Aaron Tveit was the voice actor and he did a good job and sounded like a teenager.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Retrospective Wednesday...Airborn by Kenneth Oppel

 

Retrospective Wednesday is a feature at My Head is Full of Books designed to give bloggers a chance to highlight a book that was published in previous years, in the hope that it will cause others to go back and read it. The featured book must have been published one or more years ago. 
 
Matt, a young cabin boy aboard an airship, and Kate, a wealthy young girl traveling with her chaperone, team up to search for the existence of mysterious winged creatures reportedly living hundreds of feet above the Earth's surface.  In the process they run into air pirates and fight to save their airship and all the passengers on board.

"In a swashbuckling adventure reminiscent of Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson, author Kenneth Oppel creates an imagined world in which the air is populated by transcontinental voyagers, pirates, and beings never before dreamed of by the humans who sail the skies." -Scholastic Books

Airborn, published in 2004, is the first book of a trilogy. But unlike many books in a series, this book ends on a satisfactory note and could easily stand alone. In an feeble attempt to read all the past Printz Award and Honor books I finally made my way to Airborn and found it completely exciting and invigorating. It has a bit of  the steampunk feel to it as the airship plays such an important role in the book and it is set in what appears to be the late 1900s. The other two books in the series are Skybreaker (2005) and Starclimber (2008).

Last year Airborn was optioned to a film company and Oppel is writing the screenplay, so hopefully we will get to see this high-air adventure on the big screen soon.  But I am giving you fair warning.  You will want to read the book first, so get to it. Scholastic books publicizes this book as a grade 6-8 book, I'd say that it could easily be of interest for students in grades 5-10. After I publish this post I am going to check to see if the library even has the other two books in the series, and if not, take care of that immediately.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday, March 12

Broke and Bookish

Ten+ Books I want to Read this Spring

On my TBR pile at home:
  • Death Comes to Pemberly by P.D. James- my sweet husband gave me this book for Christmas a few years ago. I want him to know that I appreciate his thoughtfulness.
  • A Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling- see rationale above but change the year.
  • Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore- third book in the Graceling series, which I love, and both my daughters have read it.  I must catch up with them.
  • Prodigy by Marie Lu- I have the ARC of this book and have had it so long that the book is now published. I must bear down and finish the thing.
For My Book Clubs:
  • Girls Guide to Homelessness: a memoir by Brianna Karp
  • The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
  • The Orchardist by Amanda Copland
  • The Light Between Oceans by M.L.Stedman
 Mock Printz 2014 possibles:
  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell...it has already earned four starred reviews (Published 2/26/13)
  • Etiquette Espionage by Gail Carriger...it also has four starred reviews (Published 2/5/13)
  • Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys...three starred reviews so far. (Published 2/12/13)
  • Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos...1 starred review (Published 3/5/13)
Jane Austen:
  • Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman...a modern retelling of Pride and Preduice
  • Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo
  • Sense and Sensibility by Ms. Austen herself. I hope to start a S/S progress report blog like I did for Emma to keep me on track.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Fault in Our Stars audiobook...a little rant, and lots of rave.

The Fault in Our Stars

Last January when The Fault in Our Stars by John Green was first published I was one of the first people in line to get a copy.  Today I finished it again, this time consuming it in the audiobook format. I loved it just as much the second time as the first, maybe more. Here is my original post in case you want to read more gushing about how much I love this book.

Now for the rants and raves...
This book deserved more love than it got from the YALSA/ALA award committees. If it couldn't win the Printz award, why not at least an honor? I don't get it.  This book is not only fabulous in terms of story, plot and characters, the writing is spectacular. There are so many memorable scenes and truly touching moments. There are quotable lines. And it got snubbed by all the award committees except for the Odyssey Award for the best audio book of the year. Thank goodness one of the committees had some sense and picked the clear winner of the year.

TFIOS really deserved the Odyssey award for excellent audio book production. Kate Rudd's narration as Hazel was perfect. I really enjoyed the way she interpreted the text. Case in point, I read a passage in the book that I didn't understand was sarcasm until I heard Ms. Rudd read it and then I recognized my mistake. She also was able to give a distinctive voice to Augustus without doing that creepy voice alteration that some readers do when they are reading for an opposite sex character.

Here is what the selection committee had to say about TFIOS winning the Odyssey this year:

“The Fault in Our Stars” perfectly captures the mercurial characters of Hazel Grace and Augustus, teens whose chance meeting in a cancer support group, surprises them both as they embark on an emotional roller coaster of a journey.  Late in the Midwinter of our deliberations, this exquisitely understated performance by Kate Rudd, captured the magic of John Green’s words and our hearts,” said Odyssey Award Committee Chair Teri S. Lesesne.

At the end of the book John Green is interviewed and he says that he often thinks that his audiobooks are better than his print edition versions because this format adds depth. I'm not sure if this one is better but it sure is good. I actually decided to stop listening at the end of disc four, picking up the book to read to the end, for fear that I would crash my car knowing how hard I would be crying. Instead I sat on the couch and wept as I finished it.

Why so many tears?  Is it a mother thing? Perhaps, but I think it is really a love thing. The thought of losing the one I love makes me want to weep even when it is just a theoretical thought. The idea that 'some infinities are bigger than other infinities' really struck me this reading. Whenever we love someone, be it spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, or child and we should be grateful for the days we did have with them. As Hazel said, "You gave me a forever with in the numbered days, and I'm grateful."

John Green, if you are reading this blog, I want you to know that I think the Printz committee blew it this year. But even though TFIOS did not win the big prize officially, it won in my heart and I'm sure that  I am not alone in this estimation. Congratulations on winning the Odyssey Award.  I hope  lots of fans will find thier way to your book through this format. And by the way, I admire your determination to write books for young adults that deal with tough subjects in an ethical (and often humorous) way.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday Salon...March 10

The Chapel of St. Ignatius at Seattle University, Steven Holl architect.
Weather: today it is drizzling rain.  Yesterday it was gorgeous---over 60 degrees and sunny. All the neighbors were out working on their yards.  We planted dahlias and deadheaded the hydrangeas  I should have pruned the roses but that was asking a bit much.

Yesterday: We went to the Lenten Prayer service at Seattle University, a beautiful service of music held in Chapel of St. Ignatius. My daughter is in the choir. It was a very moving service. My older daughter and her husband attended with us.  After the service we went to the Cheesecake Factory for dessert. I had Mango Key Lime with a coconut macaroon crust. OMG.  So filling. I was only able to eat half. By the time we got home it was 12:30 AM and after we adjusted the clocks ahead an hour for daylight savings time, it was after 1:30 AM by the time my head hit the pillow.

Today: I am determined to make a big dent in the book Prodigy, either that or abandon it.
Tete-a-tetes, small daffodil-type bulbs
Crocuses at the base of one of our street trees.

Evidence of Spring in the yard: the crocuses are in full bloom, the daphne is starting to open up and smell delightful, and the tete-a-tetes are blooming. I even noticed that the clematis is starting to bud. All the photos were taken in my yard.

Daphne, not such a lovely plant the scent of the flowers is heavenly.

Reading: I didn't complete any books this week but I sure have a lot I'm in the middle of:

  • Emma by Jane Austen. I have less than 50 pages to go. 
  • Prodigy by Marie Lu, less than half finished.
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, listening to the audiobook, 3/4 completed. LOVE IT!
  • Dead to You by Lisa McCann, 1/4th finished. I stopped listening to it in favor of TFIOS but will get back to it this week.
  • Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman, a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Just getting started.

In the library: I started a small competition between TAs. They each get to feature five of their favorite books.  If anyone checks out their selection, they get a point. Then they can put up a new book. The TA with the most points wins a prize. This runs through March. I am calling it Lucky Choice.

From the kitchen: New England boiled dinner: Corned Beef, steamed cabbage, and boiled potatoes... a family favorite. We got a REALLY good corned beef this year. It was really stringy (which sounds bad, but is good.)

Scripture of the day: Isaiah 61:1,2
 "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor."

I'm praying for: a blogging friend, Laurie, who is experiencing almost debilitating depression. And for a student who has to move in with her father because her mother is in the hospital due to drug addiction. The Lenten prayer focus of the week is for children who live in unstable homes. It is weird how this links up with the scripture.

Favorite quote of the week: 
“As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.” 
― John GreenThe Fault in Our Stars

Saturday, March 9, 2013

2nd weekly update on Emma progress and other musings

My favorite of the three Emma movies I've seen is this one. 


After nearly a year of slowly, oh so slowly, reading the book Emma by Jane Austen I've decided that I'd best find a way to encourage myself to actually complete it. Thus, this weekly update is born. Once a week I shall report on my progress, pose a question or two, reflect on anything and everything Austen.

Weekly progress: Part 3, Chapters 1-12; pages 285-379.

50 page goal reached? Yes, plus some. At one point my momentum was so good the thought occurred that I might actually finish the book this week. Alas, that is not the case.

Current action: Up to this point in the book there hasn't been much action, but with the start of Part 3 things pick up. First, with Frank Churchill back in the near neighborhood, the Westons can now host their ball at long last. Emma determines that she isn't in love with Frank but decides that Miss Smith is just the gal for him. Later Mr. Knightley hosts a strawberry party and the very next day Emma leads a trip to Box Hill and then acts very badly to her guests. Mr. Knightly calls her out causing Emma to feel deeply grieved. Mr. Knightly abruptly leaves town. After he is gone Miss Smith makes a revelation which causes Emma to realize that she is in love with him but she fears that her behavior has chased him away forever. While he is gone there is some big news about Frank and Miss Fairfax that shocks everyone.

Surprises: After the outing to Box Hill broke up badly and everyone went home, Mrs. Elton hosted a party at her house in the evening and invited everyone but Emma (and presumably, Harriet Smith.) Mr. Knightly didn't attend, however, and everyone was pretty tired from the earlier outing so the party wasn't much fun. Ouch! That must have hurt Emma's feelings but in her contrite frame of mind when she learned of this from Miss Bates, she didn't appear to be upset by the obvious slight.

Questions: Why did Jane Austen leaves so much of the action to this last section of the book after so little in the first two sections?

Comment: I am now almost 99% certain that I've never read Emma before, unless you count flipping to the good parts and reading/rereading them. I know I've read Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, and Northanger Abbey but now I am having my doubts if I've ever read all of Sense and Sensibility and any of Mansfield Park. I've just seen the movies so many times I feel like I have. After discovering all the things the movies leave out, I am now determined to read the last two books I mentioned in their entirety once I'm done with Emma. (Which I realize is a pretty ironic thing for me to say on the heel of confessing that it has taken me over a year to read Emma.)


Friday, March 8, 2013

First Test my first Tamora Pierce book


Every year I make an effort to read all the ALA Award winning books as a personal reading challenge. This means that I try to read at least one book in every category in which awards are given for young adult lit (not all child lit.) The Margaret A. Edwards Award "honors an author, as well as a specific body of his or her work, for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature. It recognizes an author's work in helping adolescents become aware of themselves and addressing questions about their role and importance in relationships, society, and in the world"(YALSA).

Ms. Tamora Pierce was the winner this year "honoring her significant and lasting contribution to writing for teens for Song of the Lioness quartet and The Protector of the Small quartet...While set in a fantasy world, Pierce’s heroines face realistic challenges that resonate with teen readers." (YALSA).

First Test is an ironic title because it is my first Tamora Pierce book and it my test book. Should I read more from this author?  The answer is a resounding yes.

First Test is about a precocious ten-year-old Keladry of Mindalen, daughter of nobles, who serves as a page but must prove herself to the males around her if she is ever to fulfill her dream of becoming a knight. This ten-year-old does things that most adults cannot and is wise beyond her years. Aside from my disbelief about the amazing abilities of this child-adult, I found the writing strong, the plot interesting and exciting, the characters fun and varied, the world fully developed, and the hazing despicable. Why do adults, who say that they demand strong adherence to the rules, also seem to allow, or turn a blind eye to hazing? Keladry does turn the hazing to her advantage, however, which is an appreciated plot twist.

I also appreciated the imaginative creatures with which the people of the land were at war. Spidrins, huge and smart spider-like things, provided Keladry and her classmates with a first opportunity at real battle. Once again it was hard to believe that adults would allow children to go to battle against such a formidable foe, but I was able to suspend my disbelief and immerse myself in the exciting action.

I'm ready to read Page, the second book of the Protector of the Small quartet. But first I may want to go back and read her Alanna series, which predates this one. I also hope to find some new readers for Tamora Pierce. Her female characters are so strong and confident, wonderful role models for today's girls.

I listened to the audiobook read very smartly by Bernadette Dunn.


 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Literary Cakes



I want someone to make this cake for me. Just sayin'....

Check out all thirty literary cakes at Flavorwire.com.

 

Monday Musings...

I read an editorial in Booklist last week by one of the contributors to the magazine. In it he said that last year he didn't read one single book that he wanted to read, he only read books that he had to read so that he could review them, presumably for the magazine. Reflecting on the article, the thought struck me that I may not have read anything I wanted to either. Could that possibly be true?  With two book clubs and demands of a teen librarian on me it certainly seems like I am always reading books I should rather than those that I want to read just for pleasure.

With this in mind I looked over my reading list for 2012 and I am happy to report that my initial estimation (none) was wrong.  Nearly every month I found time to read at least one book just for myself. Sometimes those books ended up in the library but often times, not. I rarely reviewed them, especially if they were adult books.

Here's my round-up:
January-The Fault in Our Stars. I am such a big John Green fan, I would have read this even if I wasn't a teen librarian. (1 out of 9)
February-Henry Tilney's Diary by Amanda Grange. Even though I have the book in the library, I read this for no other reason than because I am an Austen fan. (1/7)
March-Mirrormask by Neil Gaiman. I'm also a Gaiman fan. (1/11)
April-Ladies of Missalonghi by Colleen McCullough. Reading Ladies is a little like eating comfort food. It is one of my go-to books when I need a feel-good read. (1/9)
May-Hunger Games in audiobook format. Though I read it the first time as a teen librarian, this second time through was just for me. (1/14)
June-Peace Like a River by Lief Enger. Though this was a book club selection, I'd already read the book twice before so I didn't need to reread it, I wanted it. (1/4)
July-Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern were blogoshere favorites that I HAD to read (and I'm glad I did.) And A Dog's Purpose at the urging of my daughter. (3/19)
August-Dancing with Mr. Darcy. Another book for this Austen fan. (1/6)
September-Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Saved a Nation. This was an audio selection that my husband and I listened to together. (1/4)
October-No serious personal reading this month. (0/15)
November-Rip Van Winkle by Irving, illustrated by Rackham. Even with Mock Printz in full swing, I took the time to read this classic for myself. (1/10)
December-Several Christmas stories that we read as a family plus the Art and Characters of Nutcrackers. It was a good month for personal reading. (5/11)

It appears that no matter how busy I am that I do make time for myself and for personal selections. I'm fairly sure if I didn't I would start resenting the books I "had to read", decreasing my enjoyment of them, too. It's nice to have balance.

What about you? How do you balance what you have to read verses what you want to read?