"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, September 30, 2014

TTT: Books that were difficult to read

Today TTT is about books that were hard for me to read (because difficulty of book, subject matter, cringeworthy, or bad audiobook production.)

1. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez---Half the battle was the self-talk required to start the book. Once I did start it I realized that I needed help to understand it. This required that I do extra research and talking to others about the book. Eventually it was a very satisfying but it was difficult to read, admittedly.

2. True Sisters by Sandra Dallas---this was a recent book club selection so I felt I must finish it but I was so irritated by the book which is about people who traveled the Mormon Trail pushing handcarts across the American prairie. At first I thought the author was just trying to make an editorial statement about the Mormon faith and i just didn't want to be that mad at them as it seemed the author wanted me to be.

3. Zealot: the Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan---I tried to stay open-minded in the beginning but I read on I found it harder and more difficult to remain so. Aslan dismantles just about every tenet of the Christian faith describing Jesus as an illiterate man with little truth about his life actually reported in the Bible. I finished the book but was pretty shook up afterwards.

4. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn---it is hard to want to read a book when neither of the characters are likeable. I finally conquered the book because my husband was willing to listen to the audiobook with me

5. Room by Emma Donoghue---this book was difficult to read on two fronts. The first was the subject matter...a woman is abducted and held for years and years, has a child with her abductor, etc.  Yuck! Secondly, the actress that read the audiobook had a very irritating voice.

6. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell---I can't believe I finished this book. It was something like a billion pages long and had all kinds of words in other languages which made it even harder to read.

7. Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta---ultimately I ended up liking the book but it took me forever to read this book and to get any traction while doing it. Students by and large love this book so I'm sure it was something to do with what was going on with me at the time.

8. The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean telt by Hisself by David Almond---the book is written in vernacular. I was only able to read about ten pages before I gave up. It was too difficult to decipher the words without reading it out loud to myself. I wasn't willing to work that hard.

9.  The Tyrant's Daughter by JC Carlson---I liked the storyline but the narrator of this audiobook had a fake Middle Eastern accent which was quite off-putting.

10. White Teeth by Zadie Smith---I read 100 pages of this book in one sitting then couldn't make myself go back to it because I couldn't keep the characters straight in my mind. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sunday Salon...End of September

Frozen corn ready for bagging at the Emergency Food Network
Weather: Blue skies with wispy white clouds, comfortably warm outside.

Faith-in-Action weekend: this is the weekend that folks at my church participate in service projects rather than go to church, we are the church in the community. I helped out at the Emergency Food Network warehouse yesterday bagging up frozen corn. The twelve volunteers and myself dealt with almost 5000 pounds of corn. The photo above was taken by our project manager prior to getting started. Today my daughter and I turned into seamstresses making the component parts of the Days for Girls bags. These are homemade sanitary napkins that girls in developing countries can reuse.  If you have a sewing group and would like a very worthwhile project check out their website for details how to sew these projects. Days for Girls. We had over eighteen projects at a variety of skill levels to involve even our youngest and oldest members. It has been a wonderful blessing to all our church, and hopefully for our community.

Cookies: Carly worked with a group of kids as one of our Faith-in-Action projects to make cookies for firefighters. They made chocolate chip and gingerbread cookies then delivered them and got to climb around on the truck and try on the boots. Fun project.

Books completed this past week:
  • True Sisters by Sandra Dallas---a book club selection about the Mormon Trail. I didn't especially like the book but we did have a good discussion.
  • The Tyrant's Daughter by JC Carlson--- written by a former CIA officer. In it's entirety, which includes the essay at the end, it is very thought-provoking.
  • The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming---Murder, rebellion, and the end of Imperial Russia.
  • Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern---two unlikely friends, one with C.P. and the other with OCD. They help each other in surprising ways.
Currently reading:
  • The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd---my audiobook selection, on disc 3 of 11.
50-page project:
  • Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon---100 pages read. Though I may finish this book some day I won't recommend this book for our project.
  • A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman---150 pages read. A young dancer in India loses her leg in an accident. I think we should consider it as a book for our project.
  • 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith---37 pages read so far. It is another potential Mock Printz selection but I fear it suffers from the same problem as The Grasshopper Jungle by Smith...too crass.
  • Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis---upcoming
  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson---upcoming
  • The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton---upcoming
Prayers for: Betty who lost her husband of 67 years; for Sharon whose sister-in-law was just diagnosed with stage-4 lung cancer.

Batman Evolution, The Piano Guys:


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Through the Woods ... I'm still scared

"It came from the woods. Most strange things do."

Into the Woods is a collection of five short stories in a graphic novel format by Emily Carroll. The illustrations and the dialogue combine for spine-chilling, often terrifying spin-offs of the Red Riding Hood story. The moral is always the same, watch out the the woods because no good thing happens there.

While on Goodreads I was struck by the reviews from other readers. All reviewers comment on the perfection of the illustrations and the outright creepy nature of the stories.
This book scared the shit out of me. Not just a fun, spine-tingling chill, but an I-must-now-sleep-with-the-light-on kind of scared. These would be great to read to older kids for Halloween, but you'd have to show the pictures! They are as frightening as the stories. My rating: 10/10. A perfect blend of words and pictures. This is true talent. ---Katy, at Goodreads
Oh. My. Goodness. Holymolyholymolyholymolyholymoley. This is the most hauntingly beautiful book I have ever read! ...The writing and dialogue both have a way of whispering something right into your ear, giving chills and everlasting goosebumps. I don't think I will ever be able to explain in words how absolutely brilliant and freaking creepy and unique this graphic novel is. ---Staley, at Goodreads
SO GOOD. SO CREEPY.  Short enough to read in one sitting, but good enough to re-read many times over. Carroll excels at letting your mind fill in the worst of the scares, although her artwork is absolutely stunning and perfectly suited to these stories ---Stewart, at Goodreads 
I read the book in one sitting while at work, or rather, I read the book in one day in between a lot of interruptions while at work. Because I wasn't in bed while I read it the thought of nightmares didn't enter my head.  After reading all these reviews, I am glad the impersonal nature of the work setting helped buffer the fear-factor for me.

Take a look at Emily Carroll's webpage for samples of her artwork and an introduction to her personality.

I guarantee this book will be popular in my library. And, if you can cope with scary stories, with you!


Snapshot Saturday, September 27

Back in the early 1950s my parents lived in Boston. My dad was in seminary at Boston University. My mother worked as a new nurse at Boston Floating Hospital. They lived in a tiny studio apartment near Fenway Park. They became Red Sox fans during their time in Beantown but they couldn't often afford tickets to the games. Instead they would sit on their stoop, listen to the game on the radio, and hear the noise from Fenway.  Since that time they have wanted to go back.  This week they met up with my brother in Boston and went to a game at Fenway Park.  Isn't this a cute, happy photo?

Photo by Tony Kingsbury

Snapshot Saturday is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Quotes....September 26

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City Reader
The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice

Check out the links for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Participants don't select their favorite, coolest or most intellectual books, they just use the one they are currently reading.

I'm reading---

Book: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Book Beginnings:
"There was  a time in Africa the people could fly. Mauma told me this one night when I was ten years old."

Friday 56:
"One morning while Charleston turned miserably on the brazier of summer, Hetty and I lay flat on our stomachs on the rug in my room while I read aloud from Don Quixote."

My thoughts: Sue Monk Kidd is back!!!! I loved The Secret Life of Bees so much and have waited for years for another gem from her. This book about slavery and feminism is shaping up to me a good one. I especially like the quote from page 56. I just can picture it...being so hot that it feels like being on the BBQ rotisserie. That is not a good hot!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

This cracks me up...

Today I visited Amazon.com looking for an audio CD of Bless Me, Ultima. Look what I found. It is available but at a not-affordable price.  I think it is funny that someone thinks that they will sell it for this amount. Take a look.

Update: Here is another funny thing. I was looking through my school library catalog and noticed we have the audio CD set for Bless Me, Ultima. I'm sure I was the one who purchased it, too!  Silly me. Why was I looking to buy an audiobook when I can just check it out from my own library?

Monday, September 22, 2014

TTT: Books on my TBR pile for the Fall

Top Ten books on my TBR pile this Fall:

1. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd---this book was a Christmas gift and I still haven't read it. It is time.

2. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya---I just added this to my TBR pile today. It is my Banned Books Week selection of the year. Now to find a copy.

3. Landline by Rainbow Rowell---I am on-hold for the audiobook version at the public library. I think my place in line is 35th out of 76, or something insane like that. Guess I'll be waiting a while.

4. The Hotel on Place Vendome: Life, Death, Betrayal at the Hotel Ritz in Paris by Tilar Mazzeo---an upcoming book club selection.

5. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson---John Green says this book is amazing. That is enough for me to want to read it.

6. Tales from the Town of Widows by James Canon---another book club selection.

7. 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith---I enjoyed his last two books, Winger and Grasshopper Jungle, so I hope this one is good, too.

8. Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis---the reviews on this book are crazy good.

9.  Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer---another YA book with very good reviews. I am on-hold at the public library for this one, too, and may not see it for a few months.

10. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell---what can I say? I am a Rainbow Rowell fan. My daughter owns a copy of this book so I will just grab her copy.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Banned Books Week September 21-27

This list represents some of the books that we challenged, banned, or restricted in 2013 and 2014, as reported to the Newsletter for Intellectual Freedom. Most of these books have won awards, yet they continue to draw ire from people intent on banning books.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Published in September 2007.
Won the National Book Award in 2007.

Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
Published in 1972.
Awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2002.
On the US Academic Decathlon list of 2009.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Published in 1985.
Won the 1985 Governor General's Award in Canada
and the very first Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1987.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Published in 1999.
A New York Times Best Seller for 71 weeks.

Looking for Alaska by John Green
Published in 2005.
Won the Printz Award in 2006.

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Published in 1970.
Morrison is a Pulitzer Prize winning author and has been awarded a Nobel laureate.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Published in 2013.
A Printz Honor in 2014.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Published in 2000.
Time Magazine Comix of the Year in 2000.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker.
A Pulitzer prize and National Book Award winner in 1983.


One Hundred Years of Solitude...a reading experience.

Last month I decided to join in the Classics Club #7 spin. The concept: write down twenty classic books that you want to read. Include dreaded books as well as those you truly want to read. On a given day one book is selected by number and that is the book you must read. My list of twenty titles included One Hundred Years of Solitude, albeit in the 'dreaded' category. I think outright feared would be a better description. Nineteen books I wanted to read, one I didn't, and One Hundred Years was the one selected from my spin list (by number). Sometimes the universe conspires to give us what we need, not what we want.

As soon as I announced I would be reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, a friend who teaches English Language Arts commented that she liked the book, but used the visual family tree a lot because everyone seemed to have the same name. "Oh boy," I thought, "not only will the book be hard to read, it'll be confusing, too." I clearly needed a reading strategy if I was going to finish the book, let alone enjoy it.

This blog post is dedicated to the strategies I used to not only conquer One Hundred Years of Solitude, but to actually enjoy it.

1. Get a copy of the book that contains the Buendia family tree, or bookmark a web version as a favorite in your browser. This reference point should help prevent some of the confusion caused by similar/same names recurring throughout the generations. This family tree seems as good as any other:

2. After reading less than ten pages of text I opted for the audio version of the book. My public library had a Blackstone Audio 2014 version read by John Lee. Listening to the book was a brilliant choice. Lee handled the Spanish names and descriptions effortlessly, which really helped my comprehension and enjoyment. Follow this link for a brief audio sample of the book.

3. I read biographical information about Gabriel García Márquez and descriptions of magical realism before I got too far into the story. Never having studied literature with the assistance of a college professor, I needed some background information to help me appreciate the book. This obituary for Gabriel García Márquez in The New York Times by Jonathan Kandell was a good starting point. In fact, after reading this obituary I felt my attitude about this project shift from dread to excitement. Kandell had this to say about the magical realism of Gabriel García Márquez:
In following the rise and fall of the Buendía family through several generations of war and peace, affluence and poverty, the novel seemed to many critics and readers the defining saga of Latin America’s social and political history. Mr. García Márquez made no claim to have invented magical realism; he pointed out that elements of it had appeared before in Latin American literature. But no one before him had used the style with such artistry, exuberance and power... “Reality is also the myths of the common people,” Mr. García Márquez told an interviewer. “I realized that reality isn't just the police that kill people, but also everything that forms part of the life of the common people.” (NYT, April 17, 2014)
Professor Matthew Strecher defines magical realism as "what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe." (Princeton) Many of the strange events in One Hundred Years of Solitude must simply be accepted as magical realism.

4. I shared the listening experience with my husband. Though I was nearly 1/4th of the way through the audiobook, Don agreed to listen to the rest of it with me on a recent weekend road trip. I gave him a quick summary and intro to the characters before popping in the next CD, He picked up the story on the run. Don, unlike me, did take literature classes in college and was able to recognize the meaning of symbolism and themes that were lost on me. When we came to parts that confused both of us I would pause the disc and look for help on my smartphone.  Shmoop became one of my favorite sources. This site is not only informational, it's also entertaining. Here is the opening paragraph, so you can see what I mean:
...In 1966, a moderately successful journalist is driving his family to Acapulco. All his life, he's wanted to write about growing up in his grandparents' house, but he's never really gotten a handle on just how to get across the weird mix of superstition, knowledge, religion, personal stories, and global history that surrounded him. Suddenly, the idea hits him full-on: a dead-end town; an endlessly repeating, cyclical, completely self-involved family; and above all, a narrator who doesn't give any kind of overarching ethical commentary on the insanity of the characters or on the supernatural and fantastical things being described (Shmoop Editorial Team).
Don and I listened to and discussed One Hundred Years of Solitude during our drive to Eugene and back, probably nine hours total time. We talked about the characters and storyline, trying to figure out Garcia Marquez' intended meaning in the many surprising elements. We had the most fun with the biblical allusions: the Garden of Eden; the flood; the symbolism of the fish; themes of resurrection and salvation; and finally the wind of the Holy Spirit.

In all my previous reading experiences I never used literary aids as much as I did with One Hundred Years of Solitude. This statement makes it seem that understanding or enjoying this book would be impossible without literary aids. Honestly I was so "into" this book I simply had to know more. I was compelled to do my own personal research out of my own sense of curiosity. The reading/researching experience was extremely rewarding and added to my enjoyment.

We finished the last disc within a half hour of home giving us one last chance to talk about our experience of listening to this award winning, mind-blowing book. We both agreed that we enjoyed the shared experience and benefitted from the discussion.

Often works written in other languages lose something in translation. Gregory Rabassa translated One Hundred Years in 1970 and apparently Garcia Marquez preferred the English translation to the original Spanish. I'm not sure if that is true but I was never aware of issues related to language nuances missed in the translation.

To review, here are the steps I followed to enhance the reading of One Hundred Years of Solitude. I recommend you...

  1. Select a book with the Buendia family tree, or print a good one off the Internet.
  2. Read up on the author Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Magical Realism.
  3. Consider listening to the audio version of the book.
  4. Give in to the urge to do some of your own research on the book, its symbolism, and themes.

Because I followed these steps, reading a book I dreaded ended up being a very pleasurable experience.

Kandell, Jonathan. "Gabriel García Márquez, Conjurer of Literary Magic, Dies at 87."The New York Times. The     New York Times, 17 Apr. 2014. Web. 21 Sept. 2014.

"Magic Realism." Princeton University. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Sept. 2014.

Shmoop Editorial Team. "One Hundred Years of Solitude." Shmoop.com . Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 21 Sep. 2014.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Snapshot Saturday...September 20

We visited the animal barns while at the Washington State Fair (The Puyallup Fair) yesterday:

Mohair Goat. Love the hair!
Belgian butts

Percheron giant weighing in at 2200 pounds.
Being silly in Sillyville.
Snapshot Saturday is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Friday memes...September 18

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City Reader
The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice

Check out the links for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Participants don't select their favorite, coolest or most intellectual books, they just use the one they are currently reading.

I'm reading---

Book: True Sisters by Sandra Dallas

Book Beginnings: July 28, 1856. The two sisters leaned forward, their hands flat against the rear of their handcart, waiting, fidgeting, impatient. It was late in the day, and they had been ready for hours, had stood there behind the spindly cart that was piled with all their worldly goods, listening for the command or maybe the sound of the cornet that would send them on their way.

Friday 56: She had so much to learn to please her husband, so Louisa was satisfied at the rare words of approval. There was no further talk of food until they reached camp and the women took out their bacon, rancid now, and meager ration of flour and prepared a dinner tht all of them hoped would not be their usual fare in the valley.---from page 156.

My thoughts: The book is historical fiction about the western migration of Mormons seeking the land they call Zion, in Utah territory. It is pitiful what these poor people had to endure including a high death rate from starvation, exhaustion, and exposure to the elements.

Monday, September 15, 2014

TTT: Authors that don't get the love they deserve

Top Ten Tuesday's topic is authors I've only read one of their books. I am putting a twist on that theme and will focus on authors who do not get the love they deserve by students in my library. (In no particular order.)

1. Garth Nix: I am crazy about the Abhorsen series by Nix. I practically have to beg for students to start the series, let alone finish it.

2. Patrick Ness: The same thing goes for Ness. Kids are a bit intimidated by the Chaos Walking series by size. Once they start the series, however, they are likely to finish it.

3. David Levithan: LGBT students often search for authors that speak to their issues but Levithan is often overlooked. His most popular book at the school is The Lover's Dictionary, which wasn't written as a YA book, and Every Day which isn't a LGBT-themed book. Sigh.

4. Stephanie Perkins: Shockingly Perkins isn't as popular as you would think based on all the love she gets on the blogosphere. Kids like Anna and the French Kiss, but practically ignore Lola and the Boy Next Door. Her new book has been checked out once, but the school year is new. Teen readers are so streaky.

5. Cory Doctorow: I am crazy about Little Brother and have two other Doctorow books in the library which are all largely ignored. I sometimes wonder if students avoid books because I am pushing them.

6. Sara Zarr: Her most popular book in my library is her first novel published in 2007, The Story of a Girl. Students will read it if I remind them but don't usually make their way to her other books.

7. Marcus Sedgwick: The Printz Award winner, Sedgwick is a top-notch writer but students are reluctant to select his novels, even Revolver which is a mystery that involves a gun. Admittedly, though I liked it a lot, Midwinterblood is a very different story that is difficult to understand unless approached by a sophisticated reader.

8. Terry Pratchett: Pratchett fans will read everything by this author but that has been very few students over the years.  Those that find Pratchett, though, LOVE him (and should.)

9. Libba Bray: in one of my top five favorite YA authors. She doesn't get near the love she deserves in my library from the students.

10. A.S. King: another top-five favorite author of mine whose books don't circulate as much as they deserve.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday Salon---September 14

The plate we created for our parents on their 50th wedding anniversary. This year they celebrated 63 years together.
Weather: Beautiful blue skies, temperatures in the low 80s. It is a lovely end-of-summer day.

"If you give a moose a muffin" event. Are you familiar with the children's book If You Give a Moose a Muffin? If you do give the moose a muffin you get trapped into doing a chain reaction of other things, like making blackberry jam to go on the muffins, and picking the blackberries to make the jam. The moral of the story, don't start or it will lead to something else.
     Well our "moose-a-muffin" project started a few weeks ago when we bought a new car. That meant we would need to clean out the garage so there would be a place to park it. But cleaning out the garage meant buying shelves to put the stuff on and building a shed for all the gardening supplies...you get the idea. We started phase two of  "moose-a-muffin" project this week-end. We bought shelving units, put them together, then moved our garagey items onto them.  We are half way there. Next week-end we start the garden shed. We have lived in this house for seventeen years. What has taken us so long to get with it?

Saying good-bye: The youth director at our church is moving after serving our church for twenty years. Today was his last church service with us and tonight was the farewell party. I had no idea that I would take it as hard as I did. At one point in the service, our education director ask everyone in the congregation who has ever been part of the youth program with Brett to come up. The front of the church was jammed with all these adult-looking people. I started bawling and basically cried the rest of the service. My daughters both grew up in the church under his leadership. Farewell, Brett, we love you and will miss you so much.

Books read this week: None completed but I am working on a lot of books because...

50 Page Project: I am trying to read at least 50 pages of a bunch of YA books we are considering for our Mock Printz list of books.  Here is my progress:
  • Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon---pg 30; I will read on. 
  • The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming---pg. 75; I will peruse more pages.
  • The Here and Now by Ann Brashares--- 1 audiodisc of 6 completed; I will continue listening.
  • Starbird Murphy and the Outside World by Karen Finneyfrock--- page 66; I have read enough.
  • This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki--- page 50; I have read enough
  • The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean telt by hisself By David Almond---page 9; I have read enough. It is written in vernacular and is very difficult to read.
  • A Time to Dance by Padima Venkatraman--- page 31; I will read on.
  • Through the Woods by Emily Carroll---page 208; oh, I just realized I DID finish one book this week: this one.
  • She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick---complete. I read this book last week but it is another selection being considered for the Mock Printz.
Up next on my 50 Page Project: All these books are either here in a pile or on-hold for me at the public library.
  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
  • Otherbound by Corrine Duyvis
  • 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith
  • Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern
  • The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson
  • The Tyrant's Daughter by JC Carlson (audiobook)
I know that this sounds like a lot of books. I want to read a bit of all the books I can on our list and by committing to reading just 50 pages I get a nice feel for the storyline and the writing style without bogging down on one book. Of the nine books I read a part of last week I was able to weed out three that I am really not interested in adding to our list; three others deserve a few more pages before I decide; and I will recommend inclusion of the last three based on the pages I read.

First World Problems: While cleaning out the garage, my husband and I were forced to make decisions  that would make people in other parts of the world cringe. Should we keep the bread-maker machine? We haven't used it for years but still, we may want to. The huge Pioneer speakers
that have been taking up room in the garage for the past ten years need to go...but we bought them when we were young and poor. Should we keep this or toss that? We have so much, it seems so selfish of us to even ruminate over STUFF.  On that note, for your listening enjoyment, Weird Al Yankovic: First World Problems.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Dedications... take a look

While nosing around on Twitter this morning I ran into this list of 26 of the Greatest Book Dedications You Will Ever Read (Buzz Feed). Please take a look at the whole list. I know you will enjoy it.

Here is one of my favorites from The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer:

The list got me thinking how I usually ignore the dedications in books. I jumped up to peruse my bookshelf to see if there were any hidden gems.  Most of the dedications were predictable but a few were worth mentioning:

The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig: "To Ann and Marshall Nelson. In at the beginning and reliably fantastic all the way."

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell: "For Kari, who's better than fiction."

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger: "To Robin: The country ahead is as wild a spread/As ever we're likely to see/The horses are dancing to start the advance---/Won't you ride on with me?"

All of these are sweet and thoughtful, then I opened up Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach and just about lost it. This doesn't really need any explanations!

Ha-ha! Woody! Get it?

Snapshot Saturday---Fans!

Last week-end my husband, Don, and I attended the University of Oregon v Michigan State football game at Auzten Stadium. It was a lovely day, even verging on a bit too hot. At half time a fan-cam was set up in the center of the field to take a 360-degree photo of every fan in the stadium. We watched the camera and when it swung our way we mugged for it. We were sent a link to the complete photo and it was hard to find us among the 59,000 fans present that day, But here we are.

Don is in the front center with a thumb up. My cousin Steve is next to him making an O with his hands. I am behind Steve. We tagged the photo and a green O was placed over me and we couldn't figure out how to remove it. Behind Don, with the yellow hat pulled low, is my sister Kathy. Next to Kathy is my Dad.  He has binoculars around his neck. Dad is standing next to mom who is listening to a friend, Jim. Next to me on the other side is Janelle, a friend of my cousin Anne. Anne is at the end of the row behind the guy in the green shirt. We don't know anyone else in the picture. Can you tell we were having fun?

Snapshot Saturday is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Quotes

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City Reader
The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice

Check out the links for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Participants don't select their favorite, coolest or most intellectual books, they just use the one they are currently reading.

I'm reading---

Book: The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, & the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming

Book Beginnings: 
Chapter 1- THE BOY WHO WOULD BE TSAR. On a frosty March day in 1881, the boy who would become Russia's last ruler glimpsed his future. That morning, Nicholas's grandfather, Tsar Alexander II, was riding through the streets of St. Petersburg when a man stepped off the sidewalk. He hurled a bomb at the imperial carriage.
Friday 56:
Little did they know that the real danger to Nicholas's throne was not Alexei's hemophilia. It was the dark clouds of social unrest gathering across his empire.
My thoughts: 
     Two thoughts. 1) I am thrilled to have a nonfiction book written for teens on the topic of the Romanov family, the last Tsar of Russia. Typically nonfiction books are written for younger students or for adults. This seems perfect for the high school set. It is highly readable 2) I predict that this will be relatively popular in my library. I hope so anyway!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Summer may be over but all the reviews were not done, until now.

Summer may be over but I still need to review books I read in the sun. The last week of summer I read three fabulous YA books. All of them deserve their own book review but alas, no time. All of them deserve any and all positive attention they receive and I hope my voice will be heard in the chorus singing their praises.

Never Ending by Martyn Bedford
     Shiv and her family are vacationing in Greece where her brother dies. Shiv feels responsible for his death. Months later she still can't move on from her grief and her guilt. Because of this she agrees to go to inpatient treatment at the Korsakoff Clinic which employs very controversial treatment methods. Told in alternating chapters between the past in Greece and the present at the clinic in England, the reader is strung along wanting to find out what really happened to Declan on that fateful day.
     Bedford's writing is so descriptive and vivid it was more like watching a movie than reading a book. The ending is amazing but one has a lot of pain to get through to get there. This was the only book read this summer I couldn't read fast enough. Grade: A

Girls Like Us by Gail Giles
     Quincey and Biddy are both graduates of the high school's special education program. They are also "graduates" of the foster care system. When they are placed together in a living situation it doesn't seem like it will work out since the girls are so different in character. Quincey is a good cook and a hard worker but she is also very critical and angry. Biddy is kind and simple but also very scared of people, especially men. Surprisingly they find that they can bring out the best and find ways to help each other. Told in alternating Quincey/Biddy chapters we get a lot of insight into the multiple ways that humans can make the world a better or a worse place for people with learning disabilities. As the story unfolded I found myself empathizing with both girls and cheering for them as they make their way in the world. Grade: B+/A-

She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick
      Laureth Peak's dad has taught her a lot of things about patterns, logic, and coincidences. She has also taught her to be independent even though she is blind. When he goes missing and no one else seems to care or notice, including her mother, Laureth knows she has to find him herself. The only problem is how to get to New York via Heathrow airport by herself as a blind person? Benjamin, her seven year old brother is enlisted to help. Once they pass all the gates and they are actually in New York how will they find their father? And what if he is in trouble and needs help? The story develops into quite an exciting mystery.
     I listened to the audiobook version of She is Not Invisible. The book is read by Anna Cannings, an actress who is blind. She read the book from braille. The listeners are told this from the outset and it made such an incredible impact on me as I listened. When Laureth, the character, talks about ways that people treat her like she is invisible, I couldn't help but wonder if Ms. Canning had similar experiences. It was very impactful. I highly recommend it, especially in this audio format. Grade: A-

Monday, September 8, 2014

Project 50 Pages

I dropped by the public library today and picked up six YA books that we are considering for our Mock Printz Workshop. With the demands of a new school year on me right now there is no way that I'll be able to read all six of these additional books plus the two I have sitting around home already before the selection committee meets at the end of the month. So, it is time to instigate Project 50 Pages. I commit to read 50 pages of the books then evaluate and grade them as to their worthiness to be selected for our Mock Printz list of books.

List of books:

  • This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki
  • Starbird Murphy and the World Outside by Karen Finneyfrock
  • Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern
  • The True Tale of Monster Billy Dean Telt By Hisself by David Almond
  • The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson
  • A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman
  • She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick*
  • The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sunday Salon, September 7th

Don and I at the UO/MSU Game, 9/6/14. Can you tell by our faces who won?
Weather: Sunny and warm. The temperature is in the low 80s today.

College Football: The 2014 College Football season has started and we are University of Oregon fans. Yesterday we attended the University of Oregon v Michigan State game at Autzen Stadium in Eugene. The game was no cake-walk and the lead changed hands a few times before the Ducks pulled ahead and won. The day was warm and we sat sweating in our t-shirts, squinting in the sun until it set behind the diamond-vision screen. Fun, fun, fun.

2014-15 School Year: After a teacher inservice on Tuesday, school started on Wednesday, Sept. 3rd. My role, at this time of year, as librarian is mainly about getting out textbooks and equipment. Not the most exciting stuff, but necessary. We're off and running.

Thank goodness for audiobooks: En route to Oregon and back we listened to two audiobooks in as many weeks. Today Don and I not only listened to but we also discussed One Hundred Years of Solitude. It really enhanced my understanding of the book and the symbolism within its pages. Since he was driving, I was the research master looking up information about the book on my smart-phone which I would read aloud. Then we would digest the information together. The miles flew past as we tried to figure out what Garcia Marquez was telling us in the story of the Buendia family.

30 Book Summer Reading Challenge ended on Monday. I read 29 books. I am competitive enough to be a bit upset with myself for not quite making my goal. But on the other hand, who really cares?

Books read this week:
  • How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You by Matthew Inman---very funny, as you can imagine by the title. See poster above for more details.
  • She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick---this audiobook with a blind protagonist was read by a blind actress who read it from braille. Amazing.
  • Girls Like Us by Gail Giles---two "Speddy" girls are placed together in a roommate situation after graduation. They learn from each other how to expand their lives.
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez---this was my Classic Club Spin book, a classic I've wanted to read but was afraid to start.  Yay! I read it and liked it.
Currently reading:
  • True Sisters by Sandra Dallas---a book club selection. It is another audiobook. This book is about the Mormon migration to Zion (in Utah territory.)
  • Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon---recently translated into English from its original Spanish, this was Ruiz Zaphon's last young adult novel.
Recipe of the week: Banana Cottage Cheese Pancakes. I made up the recipe.
Blend together (in a blender) until smooth: 3/4 cup cottage cheese, four eggs, 1/2 tsp real vanilla, one banana. Add 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt. Blend quickly. Cook on a lightly oiled griddle on medium heat. Serve with a little maple syrup, nutella, or peanut butter, whatever you like. Delicious!

Favorite video of the week: OK, I confess, it is about Oregon, so I recognize it will have limited appeal. But I love it.