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

Thursday, December 31, 2015

A few bookish thoughts as we ramble toward the new year...

Pathway in Priest Point Park, Olympia
Some rambling and bookish thoughts....

It is nearly a new year so time to look forward, time to reflect. 2015 was an odd year of reading for me. By and large the novels I read, especially the YA novels, have coalesced into a gigantic glob in my mind with few distinguishing themselves but for a few details here and there. One book had fun footnotes, another had realistic characters, while another was completely surreal. Not much to go on when, in later years, I try to recall plots and characters from these books. Four novels did separate themselves from the pack: The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks; All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr; and The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. All these books were written for adults and three are book club selections. Hmm.  The fourth, The Martian, by Andy Weir, was the most oft recommended fiction book by me in 2015.

In sharp contrast, the nonfiction books I read this year all seem very vivid in my mind. I'm pretty sure I could write essays on each of them if called to. I learned about the Wright Brothers, all the stuff I thought I already knew but now actually know because I read David McCullough's book on these famous Americans. I felt anguish over the injustices played on women who are victims of rape as I read Missoula: Rape and Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer.  Two YA books will likely win several awards this year they are so good: The Symphony for the City of the Dead-Dmitri Shostokovich and the Siege on Leningrad by MT Anderson; and Most Dangerous-Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin. I recommended Being Mortal by Atul Gawande to everyone who would listen and bought it for my parents for Christmas.

The beauty of reading well-written nonfiction is there is never the sense of wasting one's time. The time spent reading is well spent if one learns something along the way.

Of the over 100 books I read this year nearly half were YA books published in 2015. These I read in an effort to identify the best of the best for our Mock Printz list and to see if I can identify the winner of the coveted Printz Award. Four books stand out in my mind: Bone Gap by Laura Ruby; Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman; and the two YA nonfiction books I mentioned above, Most Dangerous and The Symphony for the City of the Dead.

Speaking of award books. I am hosting a 2016 Challenge to read all the YA Youth Media Award winners for 2015. These awards will be announced on January 12th. Check out the details and join me by signing up on my blog post or on the Goodreads Group. The participants will attempt to read 8-11 books in the different categories. Check it out.

I did have several spine-tingling, special bookish moments in 2015. The first was the conclusion of the All-Pierce Reads event where we went with several friends to finale program to hear Daniel James Brown speak about The Boys in the Boat, his book about the 1936 Rowing team which won a gold in the Hitler Olympics. It is an amazing and fascinating story and it was so interesting to hear the author speaks about his research. The second, and this was my favorite, was centered around Harper Lee. My family and I decided to relisten to the audiobook of To Kill a Mockingbird in preparation for the publication of her second book, Go Set a Watchman. We were listening to the last chapter as we raced to Tacoma to see a screening of the movie of TKAM starring Gregory Peck. I had never seen the old movie before and was thrilled to have my family with me as we viewed it. Having just finished the audiobook together made the movie really come to life for us.
Anthony Doerr speaking in Puyallup

The third bookish moment was attending the Jim Taylor Memorial Lecture sponsored by the Puyallup Library. The speaker was Anthony Doerr, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning book, All the Light We Cannot See. Doerr is a very interesting fellow, he had lots of random things to talk about mainly about his interests, which are very varied. His point, when he decided to write his masterpiece, he had a lot of disparate information to draw from based on all his earlier life experiences. I was completely charmed.

Blogging about books served as a creative outlet for me. It was a love/hate thing. Some days I was ready to pack it in while others I was ready to stay committed to the process for life. My biggest frustration with blogging is the unequal attention posts receive. If I participate in certain book memes like Top Ten Tuesday, I will have a lot of visitors and comments. But if I write a book review it is very likely it will receive zero comments, so I don't know if anyone is reading the reviews at all. I understand that is a common complaint by other bloggers so I am not too worried but it is discouraging.

My blogging goals for the new year are to start the transition toward retirement.  Up to this point I have mainly reviewed only the YA books I read. With retirement looming on the horizon (a year and a half away, I think) it is time for me to start turning my focus more toward books and reviews of the adult books I am reading. We'll see if this determination stands as the year progresses. I will stick with the memes I frequent now: Sunday Salon, Top Ten Tuesday, and Book Beginnings/Friday 56. I have started to built up a community of support in all of those memes and that is fun to feel like I have blogging friends.

Reading challenges for the 2016 year will be very similar to the ones I participated in this year: 1. Reading All the Youth Media Award Winners (YA); 2. Read all the Printz Award and Honor books; 3. Participate in Classics Club's Spin Challenges with a focus on female classic authors. Then I will participate in short term challenges that fit my fancy as the year progresses.

Enough rambling for one day... see you in 2016.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Challenges. End of the Year Report Card.

Every year I sign up, or host, reading challenges. Here is my report card on how I did on these challenges this year.

1. Goodreads---I signed up to read 100 books this year and I actually read 113. 

2. Printz Challenge---I try to read all the Printz Award and Honor books each year. I read all five of these winning titles by May.

3. Books You Should Have Read in School, But Didn't Challenge---I challenged myself to read three of these mainly classic books and actually read four.

4. Read all the winning titles in the Youth Media Awards from the ALA.---of the 9 YA categories, I read 8 of the titles, only missing the Edwards Award, which is the award which goes an author which made significant contributions to Children's/YA lit. This past year the winner was Sharon Draper. I did not read any of her books. But I issued a B+ grade because I read all the Printz books (5) and three of the Alex Award books.

Short term Challenges---
5. Big Book Summer Challenge---I read one book over 400 pages for this challenge. Pass.

6. RIP Challenge---I challenged myself to read one horror title in October and I actually read three. Pass.

7. Austen in August Challenge---I read one book, essays called What Matters Most in Jane Austen? Pass.

8. I participated in two Classics Club Spin Challenges and finished both books by the deadlines. I am currently participating in my third challenge but it won't conclude until February. Pass.

It was a good year for Challenges. I figured out that short term challenges kept me interested and less stressed so I will likely look for a few more of those type of challenges in 2016. I am the host of Reading all the Youth Media Awards and will get that page up for sign ups soon. The titles will be announced on January 12th.

Monday, December 28, 2015

TTT: Titles I am eagerly anticipating in 2016

Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For The First Half of 2016
for the GKHS Library
(I rarely pay attention to upcoming books unless they are highly publicized. The books I've listed below are books which students have notified me they are waiting for.)

Firelight (Amulet #7)
1. Firelight (Amulet #7) by Kazu Kibuishi
Even though this isn't really a high school series the kids love it and let me know when a new book is coming out. I met Kibuishi this year and love his work.
Release date: February 23, 2016

The Last Star: The Final Book of The 5th Wave
 2. The Last Star by Rick Yancey
The last book in the 5th Wave series. I predict this will be in high demand since the 5th Wave movie is coming out soon.
Release date: May 24, 2016.

Morning Star: Book III of The Red Rising Trilogy
3. Morning Star by Pierce Brown
The third book in the Red Rising series. I have a few ardent followers of this series.
Release date: February 9, 2016

Calamity (The Reckoners)
4. Calamity by Brandon Sanderson
The third book in the Reckoners series. A few kids have enjoyed this series and look forward to the final  installment,
Release date: February 16, 2016

The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, Book 4)
5. The Raven King by Maggie Steifvater
The fourth book in the Raven Cycle series. This is one I'm actually looking forward to myself.
Release date: March 29, 2016

The Rose and the Dagger
6. The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh
The second book in the Wrath and the Dawn series. Kids love the first and should be standing in line for the second.
Release date: May 7, 2016

The Siren
7. The Siren by Kiera Cass
Cass has quite a following for her Selections series. The Siren is a stand alone but I bet it has some fans waiting for it.
Release date: January 26, 2016

Stars Above: A Lunar Chronicles Collection (The Lunar Chronicles)
8. Stars Above by Marissa Meyer
A Lunar Chronicles collection of stories. Meyer lives in our area and has a large fan base. (Thanks to Cornerfold for highlighting this book for me.)
Release date: February 2, 2016.

LaRose: A Novel
9. LaRose by Louise Erdrich
Edrich is one of my favorite authors.
Release date: May 10, 2016

Felicity: Poems
10. Felicity by Mary Oliver
This book is already published but I just found out about it when I was doing my homework for this assignment so I am treated it as a new book in 2016. Oliver is my favorite poet. If you don't consider yourself a poetry reader or lover, you might want to try a volume of Oliver's poems, They are so spot on and simple to read.
Released on October 15, 2015

End-of-the-year clean up. Found a few reviews I missed.

As 2016 looms and 2015 is drawing nigh I am cleaning up a bit (literally and figuratively.) I found four YA books I read but hadn't reviewed. I think they are all worthy of at least a short summary.

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13-B by Teresa Toten

When the counselor of his O.C.D. support group suggests that each of the group members select a superhero persona might be helpful in their treatment, Adam decides to be Batman. The girl he has his eye on is Robin, which is a lovely coincidence toward a possible relationship. But relationships are messy when one notices the drugs meant to keep the OCD symptoms at bay aren't working anymore and all the rituals required to get through the day and past thresholds are getting more elaborate and complicated. Adam wants to be a hero for Robin and for his mother, who has problems of her own. He wants to be a better person than he is but he is not sure he can do it.

The Unlikely Hero is truly one of my favorite YA books read in 2015. I finished it in May and have no idea why I never reviewed it. When I asked a student to read it and tell me on a scale of one to five how many stars he would give it, he said it deserved fourteen stars. My daughter, who volunteers at a crisis hotline, said it was the best book she had ever read on the challenges for people struggling with OCD symptoms. She is determined to NEVER refer to her desire to organize things as OCD after reading this book.

I gave the book 4 of 5 stars. My only criticism of the book is how quickly I was able to see through the mystery of the person writing threatening letters to his mom. I will be recommending this book to all kinds of reading teens.

I Crawl Through It by A.S. King

Four accomplished teenagers are on the verge of explosion. The anxieties they face at every turn have nearly pushed them to the point of surrender: senseless high-stakes testing, the lingering damage of trauma, the buried grief and guilt of tragic loss. They are desperate to cope—but no one is listening. So they will lie. They will split in two. They will turn inside out. They will build an invisible helicopter to fly themselves far away from the pressure…but nothing releases the pressure. Because, as they discover, the only way to truly escape their world is to fly right into it. ---from A.S. King's webpage
As I reread the summary of this book, I Crawl Through It, I realize why I had a hard time writing the review and leaving it for "another day." The book is very weird. It is the first surreal novel I have ever read. And everything is really surreal, believe me. Throughout the book I am looking for clues which will help me make sense of what I am reading. How can a person turn herself inside out and why don't the adults recognize that she needs help? How can a girl only see on Tuesdays the helicopter her boyfriend is building and how can she dare ride in this invisible machine? Nothing is what it seems yet everything is a clue to reality. 

Before you decide against picking up this book because it is so strange, I want to remind you what a tremendous writer A.S. King is. She is truly a wordsmith. "It is masterfully written and brilliantly bizarre" (VOYA). I awarded it 4 of 5 stars and added to our Mock Printz list as a late entry.

The MARTians by Blythe Woolston

When Zoë Zindleman graduates as the last girl in her school and gets a job at Allmart, she thinks her life will improve. But her mother moves out of the house, which is in foreclosure, and tells Zoë to stay put until she is kicked out. Suddenly she if faced with the awful choice of living alone with no way of getting to work, or moving into the laundromat with Warren, another Allmart employee. It seems like Allmart is going to suck the life out of her unless she does something different and quick.

This dystopian novel really paints a bleak picture of the perils of a life of consumerism. It was a quick read which caused me to think a lot about the choices we are making as a society. The funniest part of the book were the news reports. 3.5 of 5 stars.

The Emperor of Any Place by Tim Wynne-Jones

When Evan's father dies, he finds a hand bound book on his desk. The book is about an experience a Japanese soldier has on an island where he is stranded during WWII. Evan can't figure out why his father was reading the book and how it relates to his grandfather but as he reads the book himself he gets drawn into the mystery it presents. It is "engrossing, suspenseful, and at times, terrifying" (Goodreads).

I had a hard time getting any traction on this book until I was well into the mystery. Wynne-Jones is a solid writer and has crafted a very different tale here. I was thinking it was just a historical novel until the monster shows up and suddenly it veers into the realm of paranormal or horror fiction. I did have one student tell me she enjoyed the book but we didn't chat about it so I don't know what it was she liked about it. All the reviews I've read of the book talk about Wynne-Jones doing a good job with the symbolism of war and peace, fantasy and realism, love and hate. Rating 4 of 5 stars.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Sunday Salon: Post Christmas

View out the back door of the Adams' home, Christmas morning
Weather: Raining and cold. Icky NW weather.

Christmas morning: Two family traditions that can't be missed: 1.  Playing the Halleluiah Chorus (Handel) on the stereo before kids can come downstairs for their stockings. This year our daughter, 24, insisted she couldn't come downstairs until the choir sang but we couldn't find the CD. Eventually I lured her downstairs by singing it myself. :) 2. Eating a big breakfast of crepes with all kinds of toppings and lots of whipped cream. And I mean LOTS of whipped cream this year because one of Don's gifts from me was a Whipped Cream dispenser with CO2 chargers. What fun!

Crepe recipe from the Joy of Cooking, 12th edition, cookbook:
3/4 cup flour, sifted
Resift with:
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
2 eggs
Add and beat:
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup water
1/2 tsp vanilla
Make a well of the dry ingredients. Pour in the liquid ingredients. Combine with a few quick strokes. Ignore lumps, they will take care of themselves. You can rest batter for up to 6 hours. Heat a greased 5 in. skillet and add a small amount of batter. When browned, turn. Serve with jelly, powdered sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon sugar, cherry pie filling, whatever you like. We always double the recipe.
Sunset on Christmas

Christmas Day: We drove toward the mountains to spend the day with our daughter's in-laws, thier family and friends. Rick and Nancy host a huge and elegant meal of prime rib with all the extras. Delicious. This year there was snow on the ground. Our granddog, Luna, had fun chasing snowballs and retrieving them, or attempting to retrieve them. She is so cute.

Luna looking for the snowball

Yesterday: we picked up after ourselves in preparation for the arrival of Don's dad and his wife later in the day. After they arrived, we had a good visit and a delicious Honey-Baked Ham (Thanks, Susie) dinner, which included the apple pie I had made earlier in the week.

Games: One of the best parts of the holiday season is playing games together. This year Carly got a few new games. Carrassonne is out new favorite an we have already had several tournaments. The first thing my mother-in-law said to me this morning was, "Where is Carly, so we can play another round of Carrassonne?" Fun!

Reading: My reading has gone onto the back-burner this break but I've done a bit:
  • The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings---this is my Classics Club Spin book. I finally found an edition I can read (not too small) and have made a bit of progress. On page 100 of 350.
  • The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick---We watched the mini-series and LOVED it. It is an alternative history. What if Germany and Japan won the war? We decided we had better read the book so we started the audiobook this week. Progress 1/4th complete.
  • Next Big Thing---a fun book which covers topics about fads and the next big thing.  I just read the chapters about Rock-n-Roll and Teenagers this morning. Who knew that teenagers weren't teenagers before they became teenagers in the late 1930s?
Josh Groban: Bring Him Home from Les Miserables:

Next Sunday Salon will be in 2016. Have a fun New Year's Eve!---ANNE

Revving up for Book Award Season

In a little over two weeks the American Library Association will announce the Youth Media Awards at the end of their Mid-Winter Conference. I have been preparing for these announcements all year by frantically reading as many YA books published this year which makes them qualified for consideration. The first step, as I look back on my 2015 reading, is to identify which books I awarded the most Goodreads stars. Sometimes I love a book and issue 5 stars and then the book doesn't settle well and now I might go back and give it less stars today. In keeping with my original thoughts I will report my original rating. I am hoping my four and five star books are the ones the actual committees choose from, but we shall see. *Are the books I HOPE will win some award or honor.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Mosquitoland by David Arnold *
I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest
Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman *
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson *
Most Dangerous by Steve Sheinkin *
The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
The Shepherd's Crown by Terry Pratchett *
Steve Jobs: Insanely Great by Jessie Hartland

The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick
The Dead I Know by Scot Gardner
SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki
The Tightrope Walkers by David Almond
March: Book Two by John Lewis
Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell
X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli *
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith
The Truth Commission by Susan Joby
Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge
Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier
I Crawl Through It by A.S. King *
The Emperor of Any Place by Tim Wynne-Jones

The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough
Kissing in America by Margo Rabb
Dime by E.R. Frank
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach
The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks 
Honor Girl by Maggie Thrush
Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older
The Hired Girl by Laura Schlitz
The MARTians by Blythe Woolston
Fairest by Marissa Meyer


Saturday, December 26, 2015

2015 Favorite Book Club Selections

2015 Book Club favorites. I am in two book clubs. For this reason sometimes books will end up on my end-of-the-year list more than once. This year I asked the gals in my clubs, SOTH and RHS, for feedback. Their top three selections will be noted within my list of favorites. Keep in mind I select my favorites based not only on how much I liked the book but also on how well the book generated a discussion. I also factor in an educational aspect.  Did I learn something new by reading the book?  If so, bonus points.

1. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown (2013, Viking Press)...this book was featured as the All Pierce County Reads book of the Year. It is about the rowing team from the University of Washington and how they won the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. It is much more than a sports book, however, it also a book about the lives of the rowers and their coaches, the Great Depression, and Hitler and the beginnings of the Nazi movement. This is the second year on my "favorite book club selections" list. (SOTH #1)

2. The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (2014, Algonquin Press)---I really liked this book when I read it last year. In fact it was my go-to-book for recommendations for a while. There is lots to talk about with this book and it is just charming.  (RHS #1)

3. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (2013, Little, Brown and Co.) ---I spent the whole month of December 2014 reading this book in preparation for book club in January. At 775 pages I would not recommend this book for the average book club but if you have the fortitude for long books this book is SO good. One take away, the trajectory of your life is one event away from spinning off into a completely different direction. (RHS #2)

4. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (2014, Scribner)---This was my favorite book read in 2015. I listened to the audiobook and my experience with this format was so positive, I can't help but recommending it to you. several gals in the club didn't like the book as much as I did because the story travels back and forth in time and between two characters who don't meet until nearly the end of the book. I attended an author event with Doerr which increased my opinion of the book.

5. The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks (2008, Viking Press)---This is another book which I consumed in the audio format which was a very enjoyable experience, the narrator was very good. The story is really the history of a special book, a Jewish Haggaduh, a prayer book. We meet characters who "touched" the book back to its inception. Running concurrently was the story of the gal who was hired to curate the book. The phrase "the people of the book" relates to the three religions which descended from Father Abraham---Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. This was a very timely read since there is so much news of the strife in the world related to these religions. A note, however, some gals in the club had a hard time with the book and several didn't finish it. But I loved it.

6. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (2014, Viking Press) ---I read this book in 2014 also and just loved it. There is so much to learn from it about the abolition movement, and the early feminists, The Grimke sisters. This book should have been higher on the list but the day of month we were discussing it was the worst storm of the month. The storm, not the book, took center stage of our discussion. My advice, read it! (SOTH #2)

7. The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig (2006, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)--- This has long been a favorite book of mine. The theme was about the education of children in one-room schoolhouses back in 1910s and the characters who were hired as the teachers.  If you have never read anything by Ivan Doig, I really recommend you start with this gem.

8. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (2012, Scribner)---Another book I read last year and another book which looks at the consequences of our decisions. It gave us lots to talk about. (SOTH #3)

9. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee (2015, HarperCollins)---This book has to be considered the most controversial book published in 2015. First, there is evidence that Lee never wanted the book to be published at all, Secondly, our beloved Atticus Finch isn't who we thought he was from To Kill a Mockingbird. For these reasons and many more, we had a wonderful discussion.

10. Deep Down Dark by Hectar Tobar (2014, Farrar, Straus, Giroux) ---This is a nonfiction account about the 33 miners who were trapped underground for 69 days in Chili in 2010. This book recounts their experiences before, during, and after the mine collapsed and their miraculous rescue. Reading the book is a little overwhelming since there are so many people to keep track of, but it was so interesting, too. (RHS #3)

Honorable mention: To the Field of Stars by Kevin Codd---several members from our church walked this year the Camino de Santiago, or the Pilgrim's Way, in Spain. This book is about one man's experience walking the Camino. We had an excellent discussion about the book. But I recognize this is a very specialized book, not for the average book club.

My favorite 2014 Book Club Favorites. Click the link.
My 2013 Book Club Favorites are here. Click the link.
My 2012 Book Club favorites are here. Click the link.
My 2011 Book Club Favorites are here. Click the link.
My 2010 Book Club favorites are here, if you are looking for more suggestions. click the link.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas from my house to yours!

Our Nativity Set 
The cookies are baked, the cards are sent, the gifts are purchased and the packages are wrapped, the dinner is planned and our contribution, pies and frog-eye salad, are prepared. The choir is rehearsed, ready to sing at the 11 PM service tonight. We understand there will be snow where we will be going for dinner tomorrow. Now we wait for Christmas.

May you and yours find peace and happiness this holiday season.

Enjoy this musical interlude while you wait with me. Joshua Bell and Straight No Chaser have a twist on the Nutcracker.


Finally...I've started my Classics Spin book, The Yearling

book cover
This is the edition I finally found of the Yearling published by Reader's Digest in 1993

On December 5th I joined in the Classics Club Spin event. The spinner landed on Book #19 where The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings sat on my list. So I was finally going to read this classic book, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1938. It seems like just about everyone had cut their teeth on this book except me and it is on all kinds of read-before-you-die lists. I couldn't wait to get started.

Print too small!
I knew I had the book in my library and so I didn't worry about searching around for it at the public library or elsewhere. I had a cute copy of the book with a 50th Anniversary Edition sticker on it. I checked it out to myself but didn't open it for days. When I did, I understood why the book hadn't circulated much in my ten years as a librarian. The print was tiny...too tiny for my old eyes. I clearly had to find another edition to read.  And to make matters worse, it was bound too tightly and it was nearly impossible to read the words nearest the middle binding. That should be easy, right? Wrong.

Even though this book was first published in 1938 and won a Pulitzer it is not available for download in the E-version from the library. In fact Overdrive doesn't offer it in any format. Next I searched other sources for an e-book. iBooks let me read a 40-page sample on my tablet. That was the largest sample I found anywhere. I couldn't believe it. Apparently the world will have to wait for another eight years before the book makes it into public domain and we can read free copies on ebooks, which will be seventy years after Rawlings death. By then I am sure everyone will be simply clamoring for it. Sigh.

Just when I was about to give up and pay for the Kindle version a thought came to me that my funky little used bookstore in town may have a larger copy of The Yearling that I could see to read. I had to navigate through holiday shopping traffic to get there but sure enough there was a nice big version published by Reader's Digest. Yes! I was in business. This edition even had colorized illustrations from the original book.

After this odyssey to get a copy of the book I was finally able to sit for an hour this afternoon and read. And what a treat. I can already tell why this book has received such literary honors and awards. The language Rawlings used must have come straight out of the back-country in Florida. Dialogue is written in vernacular and it just rolls off the tongue (or the tongue in my mind, anyway.)

My reading plan: in order to complete the book by the contest deadline I will need to have it finished by Feb. 2nd. In order to meet that deadline I will need to read 50 pages a week beyond what I've already read. Should be easy. I also hope to post periodical updates on my blog, but don't promise to make weekly posts.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Raggedy Ann(e) is 100 this year

Image result for Raggedy Ann Stories (1918) written and illustrated by Johnny Gruelle
Raggedy Ann and Andy illustrations by Johnny Gruelle 
Yesterday I went shopping with my daughter and we ended up in the Hallmark shop in the mall. As she was purchasing gift tags I look a spin around the shop and was surprised to see a lone Raggedy Andy on the shelf with a tag which read RAGGEDY ANN is 100 this year, 1915-2015. The reason I was surprised is I consider myself to be a bit of a Raggedy Ann know-it-all since I have collected the dolls since I was a little girl. Actually my mom started the collection for me since my name is Anne. I'm sure she knew I would feel a connection to a doll namesake (even though she doesn't spell her name with an E like I do.) 

Apparently the creator of Raggedy Ann, Johnny Gruelle, applied for a patent for his rag doll in 1915 and his first book about the doll, Raggedy Ann Stories was published in 1918. My version of that book has a copyright date of 1918 with "Forty-sixth edition" in tiny red letters following. I guess that means my book was published in the 1960s some time. Most Raggedy Ann dolls of yesteryear were homemade with McCalls offering a simple to follow pattern. When I was young, my mother, who I never thought of as much of a seamstress, made me one of these dolls. Unfortunately, I have no idea what happened to that doll. She may still be stuck in a box somewhere. I hope so, anyway.

For the past twenty-plus years, my younger sister has given me a Raggedy Ann ornament for the Christmas tree each year. Two years ago we decided these ornaments had reached critical mass, meaning we had enough of them to have a completely Raggedy Ann and Andy Christmas tree. It gives me such joy to decorate a tree with items I have collected for years. In addition to Raggedy Ann/Andy ornaments I also have my real dolls on the tree including my Raggedy Ann Madame Alexander dolls and my Barbie (Kelly) Raggedy Ann/Andy dolls. What fun. See photos of this year's Raggedy Ann tree below.

Happy 100th Birthday, Raggedy Ann(e). I love you!

Monday, December 21, 2015

TTT: Dec. 22nd. My Favorite YA Audio books of 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: The actual topic for the day is what books would I like Santa to bring me. Since I prefer to get my books from libraries and I typically don't ask for books for Christmas, I decided instead to list my favorite YA audio books of the year. Thanks for indulging me.

Top Ten YA Audiobooks I listened to in 2015
I really like to listen to audiobooks if they are narrated well and if the pacing isn't too slow. These ten audiobooks were my favorites of the year. I've listed them in alphabetical order because I love them all and can't choose a favorite. Please open the hyperlinks in a new tab and experience a short sample of each audiobook.
Blue Lily, Lily Blue 
by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Will Patton
Audio clip at SoundCloud

Challenger Deep
by Neal Shusterman, read by Michael Curran-Dorsano
Audio clip at SoundCloud

Egg and Spoon 
by Gregory Maguire, read by Michael Page
Audio clip at Candlewick

Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War
by Steve Sheinkin, read by Ray Porter
Audio clip at Amazon.com

The Neverending Story
by Michael Ende, read by Gerard Doyle

by Justine Larbalestier, read by Rebekkah Rimmington, Fiona Hardingham, David Ligudzinski
Audio clip at Scribd.

The Scorpion Rules
by Erin Bow, read by Madeleine Maby
Audio clip at SoundCloud

The Shepherd's Crown
by Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs
Audio clip at SoundCloud

Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege on Leningrad
by M.T. Anderson, read by the author
Audio clip SoundCloud

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B
 by Teresa Toten, read by Johnathan McClain
Audio clip Amazon.com

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and Bookish