"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, September 22, 2016

Friday Quotes: Girl in the Blue Coat

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from the book.
The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56.

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. This is the book I'm reading right now---

Book Title: Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

Book Beginning:
A long time before Bas died, we had a pretend argument about whose fault it was that he'd fallen in love with me.
Friday 56:
Mr. Kreuk is a good man. He pays me fairly. He gave me my other, secret job, which pays even more.
Comment: Everyone is talking about this WWII Holocaust story set in Holland. I hope to listen to the audiobook this weekend as we are taking a bit of a road trip.

Monday, September 19, 2016

TTT: Audiobooks!

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten audiobooks I want I hope to listen to soon!

Yay! Finally a topic after my heart. I love listening to audiobooks. I am always searching for good books in the audio format.  And because I am a big believer in libraries these must be available free of charge with my library card. This is not always an easy task.

Here are a few books I hope to listen to soon:

1. Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse
Click on the audio link under the photo of this hyperlink to hear a sample.
I actually bought the CD-set of this audiobook and it arrived today. It will be my next book.
2. Gulp by Mary Roach
Click on link for a sample
I started this audiobook last year and wasn't able to finish it before I had to return it to the library. I want to finish it.
3. True Grit by Charles Portis
This book has been on my TBR forever and I keep thinking if I can find an audiobook I'll finally consume it!
4. LaRose by Louise Erdrich
I am a Louise Erdrich fan. I want to listen to her latest book.
5. The Perfect Horse: The Daring American Mission to Rescue the Priceless Stallions Kidnapped by the Nazis by Elizabeth Letts
I just heard about this book and it is the type I love to listen to.
6. Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsberg by Irin Carmon
My husband and daughter listened to this audiobook and recommend it.
7. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
I always enjoy listening to books with multi-cultural themes.
8. Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter
I haven't found a sample but I hope I do. This is a perfect type of book for the audio format.
9. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Sometimes these serious books are best for me if I can listen rather than read.
10. On the Edge of Gone by Corrine Duyvis
Fantasy and Science fiction are good audio selections. I am looking forward to this one.

What books are looking forward to listening to?

Sunday, September 18, 2016

YALSA's Backlist Reading Challenge

Check it out! YALSA is hosting an awesome reading challenge: to read award books you may have missed from past years.

Between now and Nov. 15th attempt to read five books to create a BINGO, or if you have nothing else to do, go for a BLACKOUT!

Here is a link to the YALSA Website which contains links to all the YALSA AWARD and BOOKLISTS.

Since I am still focused on reading potential Printz Award candidates for this year I do not want to pick up a new challenge myself but I wanted to see if I could actually fill in all the blanks from past reading since I do attempt to read the award winners every year and I did it. Check out my list below of books I have already read. I scored a blackout (but did all my reading before this challenge actually started.)

All the Light We Cannot See/Doerr
(Alex Award 2016)

Ghosts of Heaven/Sedgwick
(2016 Printz Honor)

Dreams of Gods and Monsters/ Taylor
(Amazing Audiobook 2015)
(Top Ten BFYA 2016)
(Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers 2016)
The Fault in Our Stars /Green
(2013 Odyssey winner)
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda/Albertalli
(2016 Morris Award winner)

Bone Gap /Ruby
(2016 Printz Award winner)
Rotters/ Kraus (Odyssey 2012, outside my comfort range)
Nimona/ Stevenson
(Great Graphic Novels 2016)
Brown Girl Dreaming/ Jaqueline Woodsen (2015 Coretta Scott King Author Award)
Love Dictionary/ David Levithan (2016 Edwards Author Award Winner)
Eleanor and Park/ Rowell (2014 Printz Honor)
Speak/ Anderson (Popular Paperbacks 2015)
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces/ Quintero (on both Quick Picks and BFYA 2015)
Looking for Alaska/ Green (2005 Printz Award; reread in 2014)
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time/ Haddon (Alex Award; reread in 2014)
We Are All Made of Molecules/ Neilson (Rainbow Book List 2015)

The Carnival at Bray/ Foley (2015 Morris Honor Book)
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (2013 Pura Belpre Winner)
Jackaby/Ritter (BFYA 2015)
Porcupine the Truth/ Konigsberg (Stonewall Award 2016)
The Unlikely Hero of Room 13-B/ Toten (Schneider Family Book Award 2016)
Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War/ Sheinkin (YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction 2016)

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Getting ready for Mock Printz selection

This coming week the high school librarians in my district will get together to select our 2017 Mock Printz Reading list. I've been reading YA books like a fiend all summer so I need to spend a little time this weekend thinking about what books I'd like included on the list.

My favorites. Each earned 5/5 stars.
 My thoughts: The Passion of Dolssa by Berry and We Are the Ants by Hutchinson both have all the makings of Printz-worthy books. The Raven King by Stiefvater is fabulous but will the committee consider it since it is the 4th book in a series? Jazz Day looks more like a potential Caldecott winner but I want my students to read it, so I will push for inclusion on our list.

4/5 star books 

I will fight for
Let’s discuss
I’ll recommend we don’t include
The Lie Tree
Character Driven
A Steep and Thorny Way
Exit, Pursued by a Bear
Burn Baby Burn
Rebel of the Sands
The Memory Book
Essential Maps for the Lost
The Serpent King
The Bitter Side of Sweet
The Memory of Light
The Golden Boys
Draw the Line
Anna and the Swallow Man
Salt to the Sea
Highly Illogical Behavior (not pictured)

I read twelve other YA books which could qualify for the Printz. I won't recommend any of the books I awarded three stars, or any of the nonfiction books I have read so far. The Printz committee doesn't seem interested in giving awards for nonfiction since the creation of the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction a few years ago.

Books I still want to take a peek at (recently published or still unpublished) which are getting good review, one or two of these might be late additions to our list.

What are the favorite YA books you've read this year? Have I missed any books you think we should consider?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Friday Quotes: The Reader

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from the book.
The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56.

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. This is the book I'm reading right now---

Title: The Reader by Traci Chee

Book Beginnings:
Once there was, and one day there will be. this is the beginning of every story.
Friday 56:
She quickly grew irritated with his helplessness. He just stood there, waiting for her to do something.
Comments: I just received my copy of this book today. I'm pretty excited to get started. And, I see it is the first book in a series. I may be entertained by this author for the next few years. Who knows?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Several short reviews of 2016 YA books

I give up. For weeks I have been promising full reviews of all the YA books I read this summer and the last four reviews have lingered unwritten in my head. Today, finally, I call uncle. Here are quick summaries and brief reviews in lieu of the more lengthy, thoughtful reviews I was hoping to publish.

Rebel in the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton. Set in the exotic desert land of Miriji, where ordinary people often find themselves face to face with truly magical beings. Amani wants out of the dusty town where she lives aptly named Dustwalk and she is sure that her sharpshooting skills will be the tool she uses to leave. When she meets a mysterious stranger at a shooting contest she hopes he will have a role in her escape route. Little does she know that he will not only play a role in saving her life but also in unlocking her true potential.

I enjoyed the book a lot and trust it will be a new favorite among my readers. It is also the first book in a series, which I predict will develop a loyal following. When I was young I loved reading from the abridged version of 1,001 Arabian Nights book we owned. I would just get swept up in the exotic, sandy setting with such lush oases, animals, food, and colors. This book brought those happy reading memories to mind. Plus, who doesn't love a plucky female protagonist who just starts to recognize her own strengths? My rating--- 4 stars, print.

My Name is Not Friday by Jon Walter. Samuel and his mischievous brother, Joshua, are free black boys living in an orphanage run by a Catholic priest. The father teaches the boys to read and do numbers but he is also very abusive to the boys if they do not toe the line. One day the father blames Joshua for a despicable act and Samuel takes the blame for it. The father sells Samuel into slavery as his punishment. The man who illegally buys Samuel renames him Friday, since it is the day the transaction takes place. He is bought by a young boy and his mother and is forced to work for them on their plantation. Little by little Samuel works his way into the new life and even starts teaching other slaves to read which, of course, is forbidden. When Union troops arrive in the area Samuel can finally imagine the possibility of seeing his brother again.

The book is almost totally engrossing yet I found myself holding back a bit in my praise for it because I honestly felt like things came too easily for Samuel, even in the face of horrific situations, he ultimately triumphs. Something tells me that was very unusual for blacks living during the Civil War years. In an interview at the end of the book, the author said he purposely left out specific, historical details in an effort to explore the human condition and inspirations. But even with these reservations I really did enjoy the book. My rating---4 stars, audiobook.

American Girls by Alison Umminger. Anna is 15-years-old when her mother has a baby with her lesbian partner. Anna gets fed up with the way her life is unfolding in Florida, so she steals a credit card and flies across the country to California where her older sister lives. Instead of demanding that she come home, Anna's mother insists that she stay where she is until she learns her lesson. Rejected and dejected, Anna is forced to be her sister's side kick in both her acting and personal life. Along the way she is asked to read up on the Charles Manson women, as a research expert for a movie director. She does it as a way to make a little money but the research findings really start to bother Anna. She really starts to question what motivates people to commit such heinous crimes.

I really didn't like this book. In fact, I probably wouldn't have written a full review at all if I wasn't doing the abbreviated versions here. I ordinarily don't review books here that I can't wholeheartedly recommend to my teen readers. My biggest beef was how little I actually learned about the Manson Girls. Anna was completely self-absorbed and vacuous. There was nothing in the storyline which spoke to me nor do I imagine it speaking to my students. I don't even understnad the title or the cover. Guess you can tell I won't be recommending this book.  My rating---2 stars, print.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two by JK Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany. Touted at Harry Potter #8, this book is actually a script for a play performed in the UK this past July.  The events occur eighteen years after book seven when Harry is an overworked father of three children. He and his son Albus just don't connect or seem to understand each other. When Albus disappears Harry consults a centaur for help in finding him. The centaur interprets the signs in the stars and makes a prediction about Albus which is very upsetting. Can Harry save his son? Can they avert the coming darkness?

I admit I was very disappointed with this book in the beginning. In fact the first half of the book just drags and I had the hardest time forcing myself to read it. I understand that the idea was Rowling's but the writing belonged to the other authors. It was pretty obvious. In fact, I actually felt like I was reading fan fiction at a few points in the story. To be fair I admit that I have never liked reading movie/play scripts. My reading style of reading fast and skipping over details doesn't work well with this format. My interest picked up at the mid-point of the book when the plot twist occurred, then I couldn't read fast enough to find out how things were going to work out. "Please," I kept repeating to myself, "Don't let Voldemort come back." My rating---3 stars, print.

2017 Printz Award Contenders

34 / 35 books. 97% done!

All four of the books were published in the US in 2016, so they qualify for the Printz Award, though I seriously doubt that the Harry Potter book will be considered. One more book to reach my goal of reading YA books before selecting the Mock Printz list for the year. I know I can make the goal, or even exceed it.

Monday, September 12, 2016

TTT: Favorite books set in Africa

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite books in X genre. I am twisting up the prompt and listing my favorite books set in Africa.

1. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. Set in Ethiopia and epic story that takes place over many years about the lives of two brothers and their careers in medicine.

2. Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. Set in the Congo. The story of five women in a family living in Africa because of the misguided father/husband who wants to save the "heathens." Told in five voices.

3. West with the Night by Beryl Markham. Set in Kenya, before it was Kenya. True stories from a remarkable woman. I read this book because I enjoyed the book Circling the Sun by Paula McLain, which is a fictional account of the life of Beryl Markham.

4. The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay. Set in South Africa before the end of apartheid.

5. The #1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. Set in Botswana. This book feels like the Africa I remember. Funny, too. (First book in a series.)

6. Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein. Set in Ethiopia about the Italio-Ethopian war. Very revealing.

7. Things Fall Apart by Chenoa Achebe. Set in Nigeria. I know just about everyone has to read this book in school but it is truly a book I think about just about every day. Who has the right to say my way is right and your way is wrong?

8. Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan. Set in Tanzania. An albino boy has to escape the hunters who are hunting him.

9. The Bitter Side of Sweet also by Tara Sullivan. Set in Ivory Coast, it highlights the negative side of cocoa plantations and the near slavery conditions for the workers.

10. Playing the Enemy by John Carlin. Set in South Africa. About Nelson Mandela and the game (Rugby) which helped bring about the peaceful end of apartheid.

11. Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron. Set in Rwanda during the Rwandan Genocide.

12. Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell. Set in Egypt during the time when the Middle East was being carved up for political reasons. A novel which includes real life characters like Lawrence of Arabia and Winston Churchill.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Sunday Salon. Sept, 11th

Image result for September 11th memorial
Sept. 11, 2001-Sept. 11, 2016

September 11th memory: On September 11, 2001 as the events in NYC were unfolding to the horror of a nation and world I was blithely asleep and getting ready for work. I didn't know about the terrorist attacks until I got to work when someone asked me how I was doing and I didn't know what she was talking about.  As the events of day unfolded we all sat transfixed on our televisions, even as classrooms of students came and went throughout the day. One students, a girl, asked if we could please just do our lesson which I had completely abandoned, because she was tired of being sad and just wanted to get on with things. Ah to be young and self-absorbed. Little did we know how much the events of that day, fifteen years ago, would transform all of our lives.

Weather: It has ended up being a sunny day but it started off cold and overcast.

Ugh: The beginning of school is always tough for us in the school library because we have to work so hard to get out the textbooks to all students in the different classes but this year we've also had to deal with the iPads for every student. It has ended up being a bigger problem than anyone imaged. On Friday I was still at work at 6 PM because I didn't want to come back on Monday to a mess. It has been a stressful and tiring start to a new school year.

Militia Ball: Don and I went to the Militia Ball last night for the Washington National Guard. As much as I complain about doing this type of thing, We sat at a table with only JAG officers and their wives, so we didn't have to pretend to be hyper-military folks, which always drives me crazy. I actually had fun last night, especially once the dancing started.  The Guard has a rock band that played a lot of old classics that are good for dancing (and singing along to) but the band does not look like a normal rock band. See photo below. The band members just look like normal soldiers. Ha!
Soldiers? Rock Band? Both!

Books completed:
  • The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen---an amazingly well-written novel about the experience of the Vietnam War from the perspective of a Vietnamese national. I hope to have my review up later today or tomorrow.
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling, et al---a very slow-starter for me, it picked up about mid book. It is a play, set 18 years after the end of the seventh book.
Currently reading:
  • Arcadia by Lauren Groff---a book club selection, I am not sure I will be able to force myself to finish this one. It is written in such a stream of consciousness style I feel lost and disconnected most of the time.
Up next: I will have to do a little "shopping" this afternoon to decide what audiobook I want to listen to next and I currently have six library books checked out. Which one should I read first? 
  • Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick...I like the author (Silver Linings Palybook) but haven't heard too much about this one.   OR
  • Thanks for the Trouble by Tommy Wallach...the last book I read by the author was set in Seattle which is always a bonus but otherwise I know nothing about this book.  OR
  • Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin....another blogger keeps recommending this alternative history novel.  OR
  • Flannery by Lisa Moore...this book has three starred reviews and is supposed to be funny. OR
  • On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis...an apocalyptic thriller. That sounds good. OR
  • Caravaggio: Painter on the Run by Marissa Moss...a new Junior Library Guild election about a favorite artist..
  • When a horse is really a lamp.


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Friday Quotes, Sept. 8th THE SYMPATHIZER

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from the book.
The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56.

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. This is the book I'm reading right now---

Title: The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Book Beginnings:
"I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man of two faces. Perhaps not surprisingly, I am also a man of two minds."
Friday 56:
"So it was that we soaped ourselves in sadness and we rinsed ourselves with hope, and for all that we believed almost every rumor we heard, almost all of us refused to believe that our nation was dead." 
Comments: the writing in this book is spectacular, simply spectacular. The subject, a sleeper spy for North Vietnam in South Vietnam, isn't a topic I long to read about but the writing is so good I can recommend it even before I am finished with the book, with one caveat---I am listening to the audiobook. I know that format bothers some people but I understand the print edition is difficult to read because of the long paragraphs and dense writing style. Those issues are not problems in the audio version. The quote for Friday 56 I pulled from Goodreads. Since I do not have a copy of the print edition I couldn't turn to page 56 and the sample of the book on Amazon only goes to page 14 or something similar. The Sympathizer won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction this year and I know why. WOW.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

End of Summer Report

My Head is Full of Books, end of summer report:

Books read: (Memorial Day to Labor Day): 32
  • Nonfiction: 7; Fiction: 25
  • YA: 21
  • Book club selections: 5 (I'm currently reading two more)
  • YA novel: The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry
  • Nonfiction: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
  • Memoir: West With the Night by Beryl Markham
  • Book Club Selection: Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
  • Adult novel: The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Leveen
Currently reading:
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling and others
  • Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen
  • Arcadia by Lauren Groff
  • The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Ngygen
Book Reviews written: 33 (yes, I was behind on reviews going into the summer!)

Favorite reviews:
Books read for challenges:
  1. Draw the Line by Linn
  2. The Passion of Dolssa by Berry
  3. The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Leveen
  4. We Are the Ants by Hutchinson
  1. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
  2. West With the Night by Beryl Markham
  3. A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor
  4. The Splendid Outcome: Africa Stories by Beryl Markham
  • Classics Club Spin book:  A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor
  • Potential Printz Award books: 21 read this summer
Favorite Potential Printz Award books, which I will recommend for the BSD Mock Printz list:
  • The Passion of Dolssa by Berry
  • We Are the Ants by Hutchinson
  • Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph by Orgill
  • Character, Driven by Lubar
Reading obsessions:
  • Africa books
  • Potential Printz Award books 
What's up next:
  • The end of September we will pick the Mock Printz reading list. I hope to have at least 35 YA books (published in 2016) read by that time (I've already finished 33 total.)
  • I currently have four books checked out which I haven't even started yet. There is always a new book to capture my attention.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite TV Shows

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite TV Shows (or the shows I watch the most often)

I am not much of a TV watcher but the TV is on a lot of the time. 

1. The Rachel Maddow Show...for my nightly political fix.

2. The Voice...I love this show and will get rather obsessed with it as it nears its finale. My favorite singer to emerge out of this show: Jordan Smith.

3. Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives...I like lots of cooking/foody shows. This one has actually helped us make selections of places to eat when we've been on the road.

4. Dr. Who...since this is from BBC I can't always find this show on a schedule. I've watched all the episodes from Doctor #9-12. Now I await more from Doctor #12.

5. American Ninja Warrior...I am not sure why this show makes me so happy, but it does. I watch it when I need to escape from serious things in life.

6. Oregon Ducks Football...obviously there aren't that many football games during a season but we either go to the games or watch them on TV. We can't get DISH TV because they do not carry the station that carries all the Duck games if they aren't on another network.

7. The Great British Bake Off...another show on BBC but if I can find it, I love this baking show where very British-sounding treats are baked up each week.

8. America's Got Talent...I usually don't enjoy it until later in the season when the real talent has been sorted out.

9. Chopped...another cooking show, this one ends up with a winner by the end of the episode. I like to watch folks cook under pressure (so I don't have to!)

10. Big Bang Theory...I don't even know if this show is still a current show but if it is ever on, I enjoy watching it.