Sunday, June 29, 2008

The day after

Well, I didn't read nearly as much as I thought I would, but part of that is because I spent a lot of time checking out other people's blogs. By nighttime, I was distracted and couldn't settle on doing one thing for too long. Such is my life.

I had a great time, though, even though I only read 6 hours max!

Laura did, too, and thought it was really neat that all these people all over the place were just reading.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Laura's goal reached

She did it! Laura wants to share that she finished Artemis Fowl. Way to go!

I, on the other hand, have pretty much reached my limit for tonight... YAWN!
I've taken a bit of a break...went for a nice walk with the husband and the dog, then took Laura out for a milkshake.

Since I last posted, I read a chapter of Anne of Green Gables to Laura (which adds about 8 pages to my total). I tried to read some of this Civil War diary (Sarah Morgan: The Civil War Diary of a Southern Woman), but the introduction is very long, and I want to read it, but not today.

I think I have to give up on Little Women for today, if I want to stay awake, so I'm going to read a bit of Sandman.

Thanks to all of you who responded with encouragement for Laura. It made her day! And I got a huge hug out of it, too. She is having fun with this and is enjoying checking in with me.

Update #5

Title of book(s) read this hour: No Girls Allowed: Tales of Daring Women Dressed As Men for Love, Freedom and Adventure (finished); Little Women
Number of books read since you started: 3
Pages read: 98
Running total of pages read since you started: 427
Amount of time spent reading: 1 hour, 20 min
Running total of time spent reading since you started: 5 hours, 15 min
Mini-challenge this hour: none
Distractions this hour: dinner
Current location: On my bed, with a cat on either side, but I've also read in the family room

This completed book was also a quick read. It was a graphic novel, with an intended audience of 9-11 years.

Laura's status

Laura wanted me to post that she has now read 127 pages. She is 88 pages away from finished Artemis Fowl. She says her goal is to get this one book finished, if nothing else, but she's feeling a little discouraged. I know she'd love some encouragement!

My tactic (and comment responses)

Someone asked how I'm dividing my reading (with so many comments it's easier to just make a post!). Little Women is long (duh), so I'm taking breaks from it by reading something lighter. So, I'll read a bit of Little Women (a chapter or two, or a whole hour), then read something else. I'm not reading multiple "something elses," just the one other until it's finished, then pick something else up. Make sense?

I loved It's Perfectly Normal. I think it's important to cut straight to the chase in terms of sex education, and that's exactly what this book is. It's a very balanced book and very frank. I want *both* my kids to read it, so that they can make the best decisions they can when the time comes (hopefully a long time from now, since they're only 9 and 11!). The only thing that annoyed me about this book were the little cartoon bird and bee interspersed throughout the book. It was like that annoying person who can't have a serious conversation without making a joke.

Update #4

Title of book(s) read this hour: Life on the Refrigerator Door: Notes Between a Mother and Daughter (finished); Little Women
Number of books read since you started: 2
Pages read: 224
Running total of pages read since you started: 329
Amount of time spent reading: 55 minutes
Running total of time spent reading since you started: 3 hours, 55 min
Mini-challenge this hour: Nymeth's web comics
Distractions this hour: bathroom break
Current location: On my bed

I feel like I cheated a little, because, while Life on the Refrigerator Door is 217 pages, most pages consist of something like this:


We need to talk. I'm in my room.

I love you, Mom

But 217 pages it was, and 217 pages I'm counting. Laura is mad because she doesn't read quickly. :-) I need to tell her to take a break from Artemis Fowl and read something quick, for a sense of accomplishment.

I'm starving, so I'm taking a dinner break!

The 9-year-old boys switched houses, so this was a much calmer hour!

Update #3

Title of book(s) read this hour: Little Women; It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex & Sexual Health (finished)
Number of books read since you started: 1
Pages read: 28
Running total of pages read since you started: 105
Amount of time spent reading: 1 hour
Running total of time spent reading since you started: 3 hours
Mini-challenge this hour:
Other participants visited: Debi, C.B. James
Distractions this hour: lots (9-year-old boys make a lot of noise)
Current location: On my bed, but I've also visited the loveseat in the family room

Laura has read a total of 81 pages and is still working on Artemis Fowl.

Update #2

I've decided to label my posts with my update number instead of hour number, since I may not post every hour.

Title of book(s) read this hour: Little Women; It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex & Sexual Health
Number of books read since you started: 0 (I'm not keeping track of fractions of books - I'll update this when I finish one)
Pages read: 36
Running total of pages read since you started: 77
Amount of time spent reading: 1 hour
Running total of time spent reading since you started: 2 hours
Mini-challenge this hour: Nymeth's web comics
Other participants visited: None yet this hour
Distractions this hour: bathroom break
Current location: On my bed

Laura has read a total of 47 pages so far; she's currently working on Artemis Fowl.

Hour 2 mini challenge

Nymeth's mini challenge for hour 2 was to read a web comic and write a short post about it. I caught up on my Unshelved feed, which I was many posts behind on. Unshelved is a web comic set in a public library, that deals with many of the common situations that occur in a library. When I worked in a public library I found it spot on, and now that I'm not in a public library, I find it fun to remember. Sometimes the posts are relevant to special libraries, too.

Hour 1

Title of book(s) read this hour: It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex & Sexual Health by Robie H. Harris
Number of books read since you started: .5
Pages read: 41
Running total of pages read since you started: 41
Amount of time spent reading: 1 hour
Running total of time spent reading since you started: 1 hour
Mini-challenge this hour: Introductory Meme
Other participants visited: Eva, G-Town Reader, Word Lily
Distractions this hour: bathroom break, 1 doorbell ring
Current location: On my bed with my kitty laying across my book, head on my arm while I type!

Off to lunch for a few minutes.
Prize you’ve won:


I'm going to use this graphic on any updates I have throughout the day, mini-challenges, etc. Any reviews I post won't have this graphic, but I will tag it as a read-a-thon post. (I may choose a smaller graphic to add...haven't decided yet.)

Here's the first mini-challenge! I'm posting a few minutes early so I can get started reading right at 11:00. This challenge was posted by Reading Derby.

Introduction Meme

Where are you reading from today? I'm reading from my home in Houston, Texas (well, technically a small suburb right outside the city limits called Meadows Place).

3 facts about me …

  • I am a librarian, currently in a medical library in a local cancer center.
  • I have 2 kids, one who plans to read along with me today
  • I am a terrible housekeeper, and I feel slightly guilty for reading all day today instead of trying to get some housework done.

How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?
I don't really have a TBR pile specifically for this read-a-thon. I've got a stack of about 8 that looked like good light choices, but I reserve the right to pick up anything in the house that grabs my interest.

Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?
I just want to have fun. I don't have any idea how many books I might finish (if I even finish any). I want to visit a lot of blogs and read. I do want to make a large dent in Little Women. I know I won't read for 24 hours, but I would like to get in at least 7 hours today and a couple of hours tomorrow morning. I'd love to read more today, but I'm trying to be realistic.

Any advice for people doing this for the first time?
I haven't done this before, so I'll get back to you on this tomorrow!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Why I Will No Longer Shop at Borders

I'm really sad. Borders used to be one of my favorite places to go hang out, and more times than not, I'd end up buying something. But it's gotten progressively unfriendly. First, the Harry Potter party last July was pretty horrible (especially compared to previous ones we had attended). Then I started getting annoyed that we get pestered to join Borders Rewards every time we buy anything from them. (We choose not to because I don't like the idea that every purchase I make is logged in some computer somewhere so we can be advertised to; while I don't buy questionable material (but who decides what is "questionable" anyway?), I don't like that it is available for someone to obtain if they wanted - as opposed to the library which doesn't keep records of what people borrow.) Today I heard of a knitting book I wanted to buy and checked Amazon and they did have it (of course), but as I was planning a trip to Borders tonight, and I wanted immediate gratification, I decided to pay a little more and buy it at our local store. So, after dinner we went over to Borders and browsed a bit. While I'm in there, I just got this vibe of unfriendliness. They have reduced the number of books they have and there seems to be lots of empty space. Employees seemed a little more "in your face." It was just uncomfortable. But I found the book I wanted and planned to buy it. I also wanted to pick up some knitting supplies, and since there is a Hobby Lobby in the same shopping center, I left Jimmy with the book and went to Hobby Lobby to get what I needed, intending to meet them back at Borders. As I was heading to the checkout line, I looked up and saw Jimmy. He said he needed the keys. They wouldn't let him sit and read a book at Borders, so he left. What happened is that he tried to find seating and when it was all taken, he sat on the floor in the section in which he was browsing, and an employee told him he couldn't sit there and had no suggestions of what else he could do, so he left. So now, on top of having higher prices, reducing their inventory, pushing their rewards program, and just feeling unfriendly, they discourage people from browsing. Well, I was already irritated with the line in Hobby Lobby, so I put everything back (did I mention I really don't like Hobby Lobby, either?) and went to the car, where Jimmy told me he had bought my book. I had just been thinking how I didn't want to buy it from Borders and would get it on Amazon for cheaper, so we went back to Borders so Jimmy could return the book.

From now on, if I want to browse I'll go to Half Price Books or an independent bookseller (if I can find one...) and most purchases will come from Amazon (or anywhere but Borders). I'm sure I'll go back at some point out of necessity, but it will most certainly not be my first stop ever again.


Well, I feel like such a slacker when it comes to Dewey's Read-a-Thon this weekend. (I'm sorry for the lack of links, but I can't seem to get that to work when I post via e-mail, and if I mess up, I can't go in and correct my mistake until I get home.)

What's your plan, do you say? Plan? What plan? Maybe I should be better prepared for this reading goodness! I actually do have a few books set aside that are short and fun. I have the first volume of both Sandman and Y: The Last Man, plus there are a few other graphic novel series around our house, thanks to my husband, that I could pick up if I want. I also have a handful of Roald Dahl's short novels that Eli just loves that I could whip through in no time. My big read right now is still Little Women, which I'm about 1/3 of the way through. I've been reluctant lately to have more than 1 "main" read going, but I may pick up something else. No library books for me! I have probably 100+ books at home yet to be read (that I have actually accounted for - there are certainly more that I haven't dealt with yet) that I can choose from. I may try to make a dent in all the ARCs I have sitting around, since most of those are kids books and will be quick reads. I
may make a run to Borders tonight and check out the magazines for new knitting/crocheting books and/or a new issue of Bookmarks. I have an audiobook on my iPod if I need a break and want to knit or, god forbid, do some cleaning (you don't want to see my laundry pile...well, really it's multiple piles). I have a couple of knitting books that I've skimmed but not read. I'm going to read It's Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris, since I haven't actually read it but bought it months ago.

I plan to check in hourly, but we'll see what actually happens. I don't know how late I'll actually make it before falling asleep. I'll probably also take a little break to stop by our neighbors house for a birthday party that we got invited to yesterday.

And my daughter, Laura, plans to read along with me. I'm not sure how long she'll stick with it, but I expect I'll get at least a couple of hours out of her. I'm hoping to convince her to guest blog for me some during the day, so stay tuned for that!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt

Oh, this was just a fabulous book! I was reminded of Stardust, as it was a fairy tale, although, even though I liked this book a lot, Stardust was still better.

Keturah is a storyteller, and, after she follows a hart into the forest and gets lost, she keeps Death at bay by telling him a story, winning extra days by promising the ending the next day. She bargains with Death that in order to win her life, she must find her true love.

I loved the fairy tale quality of this book. This was one I had a hard time putting down. I highly recommend it to any of you who participated in the Once Upon a Time challenges.

I can use this one for the "L" author for the A-Z challenge. Also, if you've reviewed this one, let me know!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Checking in

I haven't posted much lately. I finished one book last week, Keturah and Lord Death, which I meant to post a review of this weekend and forgot. I'll try to post a proper review tonight. It was a really good book! I am currently reading Little Women, which, believe it or not, I've never read before! I am thoroughly enjoying it, so I feel a little sad that I didn't enjoy it before now.

I'm trying to get out the door for work, so what am I doing sitting here posting? I'll try to be better this week!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It was Tuesday on Tuesday...

I'm behind on blog reading. Not sure why - a lot on my mind, I guess, but I can't yet share what's occupying my mind.

So, two days late, here's where I am (and it's roughly the same as on Tuesday).

I'm back to two audiobooks, as I've been chauffeuring Laura to and from a band camp all week, so we picked a book to listen to.

Audiobook 1: We're in modern-day England where we have made the acquaintance of Sebastian, a 12-year-old boy who lives in the walls of our ancient manor that our parents just bought. While he is only physically 12 years old, Sebastian was born in 1420, the son of Henry V's alchemist. (Doctor Illuminatus: The Alchemist's Son)

Audiobook 2: I'm in New Hampshire, where an inmate on death row wants to donate his heart to his victim's sister. (I am, at times, an ACLU lawyer, an inmate with AIDS who killed his partner in an act of passion, and a priest.) (Change of Heart)

Main book: I am desperately trying to find my true love while keeping Lord Death at bay. I am also trying to save the people of my village upon impending plague that only I am aware is coming. (Keturah and Lord Death - this is a fantastic book!)

Bedtime: Still on an island with Peter and his friends. Dealing with mermaids and flying longboats and talking to porpoises.

Nod to raidergirl3 for doing this every week at

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Book diet goes kaput - wish list grows shorter

Oh man, oh man, oh man! Book sale today, and I feel like a hit the jackpot! I spent $15 ($1 per book), and many books were on my wishlist (marked by an *).

Here's what I got:

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century by Thomas L. Friedman
*Labyrinth by Kate Mosse
*Matrimony by Joshua Henkin
Peony in Love by Lisa See
*That Old Ace in the Hole by Annie Proulx
*Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson
*Welcome to the World, Baby Girl by Fannie Flagg
Helen of Troy by Margaret George
Milk Glass Moon by Adriana Trigiani
Friday Night Lights: A Town, A Team, and a Dream by H.G. Bissinger
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Fairest by Gail Carson Levine (for Laura)
*The Nature of Monsters by Clare Clark
*The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall
The Tale of Desperaux by Kate DiCamilla

I've read Tale of Desperaux, but it's a great one to add to our collection. Also, I'm not sure Laura's read it yet. These books are all in fantastic condition. Score!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Masterpiece by Elise Broach

I loved this little book! Marvin is a beetle. He lives in an apartment occupied by James, James' distant mother, his pompous stepfather, and his little brother, William, the only good thing about his parents' divorce. Marvin wants to do something special for James for his birthday and ends up experimenting with the pen and ink set James got as a gift from his artist father. As it turns out, Marvin is a brilliant artist! When James' parents find the picture Marvin drew, they assume, naturally, that James made it, and this leads to a series of events, ultimately involving the theft of a masterpiece.

I didn't know what to expect from this book, as it could easily have gone either way. Marvin was a very believable character (well, if you can get past the anthropomorphism). The story was, of course, a bit far-fetched, but it was so cute. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoyed The Tale of Despereaux or Chasing Vermeer. It started out reminding me of Beverly Cleary's mouse books, but the intended reader is, I think, a bit older than for those books, and the story is more complex.

Edited to add: I forgot to mention that this was an ARC copy; Masterpiece is due to be published in September.

If you've reviewed this one, leave a comment!

This fills the "M" spot in the A-Z Challenge.

Monday, June 16, 2008

That Darn Yarn by Tony Millionaire

Being a knitter/crocheter, plus having a thing for sock monkeys (especially after seeing Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium last fall), I had to grab this book off the new book shelf at the library for the PB&J Challenge.

This book tells two stories at once, on facing pages. In one, a little girl knits up a birthday present for a friend (brother?), while on the facing page, a sock monkey unravels, as it rolls down the staircase after a piece of yarn gets caught on a nail on the banister. The pictures on one side are black and white line drawings, while the ones on the other side are full-color. I'm undecided as to whether the sock monkey that is unraveling is the same one that the girl knit, or if the two stories are unrelated. And this bugs me a little bit. But I think kids would think the book was fun. It's not my favorite that I've read, but it was entertaining.

The Porridge Pot retold by Anthea Bell

This picture book is a retelling of a German folktale, in which a young girl's parents quarrel when all the food left to them is one pot of porridge. The parents take off on a chase, leaving the girl to fend for herself. With the help of a mysterious old woman, the girl meets a prince, they fall in love, and all live happily ever after (after a bit more zaniness, of course).

The best thing about this book is the glorious illustrations. The illustrator, Claudia Carls, marries sculpture and painting to create the most whimsical scenes. I found myself poring over each and every illustration, trying to catch all the details. I highly recommend this one, for the pictures if for no other reason.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Weekly Geeks #8 Scavenger Hunt

What a cool idea!

This week we're on a scavenger hunt. Here's my list of things to be found; I'll update it as I find things. I have to say, I doubt I'll finish, because I doubt I'll have enough time to spend looking at blogs...

1. (THE PRIZE. Did you find it?)
2. youtube
3. war
4. Sunday Salon
5. Buy a Friend a Book
6. BTT (or Booking Through Thursday)
7. omnibus
8. Speculative fiction
9. Short stories
10. Ani Difranco (or just Ani)
11. Printz
12. Man Booker Prize (or just Booker)
13. Newbery
14. Mother Talk
15. interview
16. history
17. glbt (or any other arrangement of those letters, or with a q in there)
18. fantasy
19. film
20. giraffe
21. biography
22. Geraldine Brooks
23. graphic novels
24. classics
25. faerie
26. Amelie
27. doo doo doo
28. 24 Hour Read-a-thon
29. etsy
30. poetry
31. Bookmooch
33. R.E.M.
34. Bookworms Carnival
35. library -Karen's Book Nook
36. Lost (must refer to the TV series)
37. Six Feet Under
38. ReadingAnimals (I’m featuring her because I feel bad that I can’t figure out how to comment at her blog.)
39. hedgehog
40. pregnant
41. nosebleed (or nose bleed)
42. 42 (No, that’s not a mistake; number 42 is to find the digit 42.)
43. herding cats
44. Django Reinhardt
45. A.S. Byatt
46. Homer
(The next three are suggestions from my son.)
47. ROFL
48. cheezburger (must be spelled with Z!)
49. d20

50.-?: Each participant gets to put one keyword in the comments, so keep coming back to check on them if you’re trying for the prize!

Friday, June 13, 2008

It's been a slow week

After my burst of reading over the weekend, things have slowed down a lot. Monday night I picked up Deadline by Chris Crutcher, one of the books on the Tayshas high school recommended list, and I read maybe 1/4-1/3 of it before putting it aside. It actually isn't a bad book, but I just wasn't into it. Seeing as how there are around 60 books on that list for 2008-2009, I'm not going to keep reading something if it's not my thing.

So, instead I picked up Masterpiece by Elise Broach, which is another one of the ARCs I brought home from TLA. This one is really cute. The main character is a beetle who lives in the walls of an apartment that is occupied by a boy named James and his family. I'll save more for a review when I finish the book, but I'll say that the book reminds me a bit of Beverly Cleary's Mouse and the Motorcycle or what I imagine A Cricket in Times Square might be like (I've never read it). It's very cute.

I'm sort of reading Anne of Green Gables to Laura, but it's on an "as time allows" basis. She read it several years ago and isn't interested in reading it by herself again. I was afraid that might happen with a couple of books she read when she was really too young for them... But it's a fun read-aloud, and I'm enjoying reading it with her!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Weekly Geeks #7

Here's the assignment for Weekly Geeks this week:

1. Decide what to illustrate and start taking photos: Most of you are book bloggers, so you may want to post photos of your favorite reading spot, your TBR pile(s), your local book store, your favorite librarian, your child reading, etc. You may want to post several photos of a certain topic (like all nine of your kids reading!) or a mixed bag of photos that are unrelated except that they’re bookish. Or you may want to post just one photo, it’s up to you. If you have a different type of blog, post photos of whatever you think is suitable.

We're also supposed to link to other people's photo post, but I'm going to cheat a little here. I can't view most images at work, and I really want to take a look at people's pictures, so I'm going to post a summary on Saturday with links to some blogs I took a look at.

Over Christmas I went through family pictures at my mom's house and found several of me reading at various ages, so my theme is SomeReads (Through the Years). You can click on the images for a bigger picture.

This first picture is of me when I was probably 2 years old. I think that book was a book about Smokey the Bear, but I may be misremembering.

In this one, I was around 7 years old. Gotta love the 70s stylin'! I'm reading a reader from school.

Here's one from when I was about 8. I'm pretty sure I'm reading Jack & Jill Magazine. I wonder if I was making a face on purpose...

And this one's from when I was 11. I hated those sweats - I felt like a big duck. And you can't tell, but I was sporting a nice mullet. I have no idea what I was reading.

These next two are thrown in for good measure. They're both from our small town newspaper, both on a large, stuffed Curious George at the public library. In the first one, I was 2, and in the 2nd, I was 6 (I'm the one with brown hair in the picture). The library must have been very new in the first picture, because the shelves are very bare.

I hope you enjoyed my foray into the past!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

It's Tuesday, Where Are You?

I can't believe it's already Tuesday again!

Today I am in Idaho, where I am trying to live the rest of my life in one year, because that's all the time I've got. (Deadline by Chris Crutcher)

At bedtime, I'm still on an island in the middle of nowhere, and I think I just got fed to something big. (Peter and the Starcatchers)

On a completely unrelated note (other than being about books...), I spent yesterday evening in the library with my kids. As I've mentioned, our central library just underwent a renovation, and the new children's and young adult sections both boast the inclusion of gaming systems. (Someone commented on a newspaper story right after the grand opening that all the books were pushed to the side and the video games had center stage - this couldn't be further from the truth...) I asked Eli what he thought about being able to play video games in the library, and his response was "It's kinda creepy! Libraries are supposed to be quiet!" Welcome to the library of the future, my son... Even better was my daughter complaining about the toddler making noise, keeping her from reading. She said the mom really needed to make the kid be quiet; we were in a library! I then told her that that room was the one room in the library where that mom didn't have to worry about
her child making noise, and that I had been in her place and wasn't about to complain! Too bad it wasn't her that I used to have to worry about, cuz then I could have really rubbed it in her face! :-)

Monday, June 9, 2008

One Good Punch by Rich Wallace

Seriously, I don't remember the last time I've finished so many books in so little time. No complaints!

I started One Good Punch over lunch today and finished it tonight while hanging out at our newly renovated downtown library, where my husband was teaching a web development basics class. One Good Punch is a short novel; the ARC copy I read is only 114 pages. I guess it's more of a novella.

Mike Kerrigan is a squeaky clean senior, who dreams of being a great track star and then having a successful writing career. He has a job with the local paper writing obituaries. When he gets caught with 4 joints in his locker, courtesy of a real winner of a friend, he has to decide whether to rat out his "friend" or take the fall himself, giving up all he has worked so hard for.

I think this book would have been much better if it had been longer, with more time to develop the characters. Instead, I feel like so much was glossed over - especially the way Mike finally resolved the situation. This book was ok, but nothing to really write home about.

If you've reviewed this book, leave a comment and I'll link to you hear.

This book fills the "O" title in the A-Z Challenge.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

I've just been a reading roll lately. I read this one in one day, too. This book was fantastic!

Arnold (Junior) Spirit is a Spokane Indian, the bottom of the proverbial totem pole on his reservation in Montana. Arnold was born with hydrocephalus, had brain surgery as a baby that he wasn't expected to survive, and suffered from seizures. As a result, he was constantly bullied as a kid. After what could have been a disastrous event (he threw a book in class, frustrated that they were forced to use the same book his mother used 30 years previous, and hit his teacher and broke his nose), he was convinced by said teacher to transfer to the "white" school in a nearby town, off the reservation. Arnold then had to deal not only with being the new (Indian) kid in a racist town, but also with being the kid who had shamed his reservation by leaving.

Interspersed with comic strips (Arnold is an aspiring artist), the book has a lot of humor. But some humor is obviously just a tool to cover up pain. Growing up on a poor reservation is not easy. Arnold is forced to deal with several deaths in a very short time; most of the people he knows are alcoholics; his best friend hates him. But the book is full of hope and optimism. I can easily see why this book won the National Book Award for Young Adult Literature.

There are parts of this book that may be inappropriate for younger readers (I'm not quite ready for my 11-year-old to read it), due to, shall I say, autoerotic content.

Other reviews:
Amanda (the librarian)

This book fulfills the "A" author for the A-Z Challenge.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Prey by Lurlene McDaniel

This book was one of the ARCs I brought home from the Texas Library Association conference and the first Lurlene McDaniel book I've ever read. I've heard of McDaniel; I even used one of her books in an assignment several years ago in a children's lit class when I had to compile a list of books on a certain topic. This book is not the type of book McDaniel typically rights, by her own admission in the author note.

Prey is the story of a teacher who seduces her 15-year-old student and proceeds to have a (highly inappropriate) sexual relationship with the boy. The story is told from the point of view of three characters: Lori Settles (the teacher), Ryan Piccoli (the boy), and Honey Fowler (Ryan's best friend, who is secretly in love with him). While this book is definitely a page-turner (I finished it in one day, something I haven't done in ages), it is deeply disturbing. The relationship is consensual, insomuch as a 15-year-old boy can consent to sex with a woman more than twice his age, but that doesn't justify the affair. The whole thing is really very sad. It becomes clear early on that Lori was sexually abused at some point, and Ryan lost his mother tragically when he was very young. There is so much psychology involved, but again, nothing that makes it right.

You know how sometimes one error in a book can throw you off and bug throughout the book? I had this happen in this book. Ryan is 15, a freshman in high school. At one point in the book, his father tells him he should start thinking about college and maybe fill out some apps. As a freshman? Yeah, that happens. And in the same conversation, Ryan tells his dad he has already taken the SATs. Um, no, not as a freshman. I found this really annoying, because McDaniel rights books for teenagers, and has for years, and you would think she would be more in touch with what teenagers actually do, and when. Sorry - I know it's nitpicky, but the author lost credibility with me at that point.

I give the book about 3 stars. I enjoyed it; I couldn't put it down. But the subject matter was disturbing, and, really, the writing style wasn't very good.

If you've reviewed this book, leave a comment, and I'll link to it here.

This book fills the "M" author spot for the A-Z challenge.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Wow. I have been avoiding this book like the plague. After reading many reviews, I was convinced it wasn't my thing, and I had no intention of reading it. But then I decided to read books off the 2008-2009 Tayshas List, which is a recommendation list for high school students put together by the Texas Library Association, and this was on the list. When my randomizer spat out this particular book as the first selection off the list, I cringed, and I almost resubmitted in order to get a different title. But I decided to persevere, and I checked the library catalog. I was still reading another book, but was thinking ahead in case I needed to place one on hold. When I saw that I would, indeed, need to place it on hold, I was secretly happy, because all copies were checked out, and there wasn't first in line. I decided that if, when I finished the book I was reading, if my copy wasn't already on its way, I would choose a different book. Obviously, it didn't work out that way, since I am now reviewing it.

I was so wrong about this book. Yes, it is bleak, dreary, somber, dismal, and any other synonym you can think of. But it is SO GOOD. I would give it 5 stars, except for the fact that I feel that McCarthy used too may $5 words, for no real reason. Well, he probably had a reason, but it was over my head. I lost count of how many words I didn't know, and I consider myself to have a very good vocabulary. I really feel that there is a completely different level to this story that I just didn't get. But, I quit analyzing literature after I completed my lit requirements in college, and I don't intend to pick it up again now.

For those needing a synopsis, The Road takes place years after an apocalyptic event, and there are very few survivors. "The man" (as he is referred to throughout the book) and his young son (I never gathered from the reviews I've read that the son was a young boy; I always assumed he was at least a teenager) are making their way south, presumably to find more "good guys." The going is bleak, marked with periodic fortunate events that allow them to keep going a little further. I kept trying to figure out where exactly they were. I know they were in the Virginia/North Carolina/Georgia area at the beginning, due to a reference to a "See Rock City" sign, and they were headed towards the coast. My assumption was that they were heading toward the southern coast, perhaps the Gulf of Mexico, but I think, actually, they were headed toward the Atlantic coast, as the intention was to continue heading south once reaching the coast. You can't really go any further south from the Gulf of Mexico...

If you, like me, have hesitated to read this, I urge you to give it a chance. I honestly couldn't put it down once I started.

If you've reviewed this book, leave a comment, and I'll link to your review.

This book counts as my "R" title in the A-Z challenge.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis is a memoir, told in graphic novel form, of Marjane Satrapi's childhood in Iran, during the Islamic Revolution. The story is told in black-and-white pictures, comic-strip style, though there is little comic about them. Satrapi's story is filled with horrors and frustrations. Horrors at watching (not necessarily literally) friends and family die. Frustrations of being a woman in such an oppressive society. Satrapi was a very brave child, standing for what she believed in from a very young age. Her family embraced the Western lifestyle in a time where Islamic fundamentalism prevailed, putting their very lives in danger.

This book is now part 1 of a 2-part series. This particular book ends when Satrapi is either 12 or 13 and she leaves Iran for Austria, to continue her education. I very much want to read Persepolis 2, to hear the rest of her story.

Satrapi spoke here in Houston not long ago - unfortunately it was a weeknight, and weeknight gigs are hard to arrange with 2 youngish kids. I hear it was very good, and I wish we could have made it.

If you've reviewed this book, leave a comment, and I'll link to your review.

Other reviews:
Marg at ReadingAdventures
tinylittlelibrarian at Tiny Little Reading Room

This book fills the "S" author spot in the A-Z Challenge.

Weekly Geeks #6 wrap-up

This week's task was to catch up on reviews. I didn't get completely caught up, but as of last night, I was only had 1 left to post.

This week I posted reviews of:
Rules by Cynthia Lord
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensesn
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
The Crocodile Blues by Coleman Polhemus
Big Chickens Fly the Coop by Leslie Helakoski

The only one I didn't get posted was my review of Peresepolis, which I plan to post soon.

Read-a-Thon Meme

Snagged from Debi's blog

If I had 24 hours to read, my goals would be:

I don't think I would set any goals, unless I had something very specific I had to have read by a certain time. Thankfully, this is rare these days. I guess I would just want to put a dent in my TBR pile.

This is what I am going to have to do to get 24 hours of reading:
Well, I am under no delusion that I will read for 24 hours. I'm expecting to get 10 hours, at the most. I'm hoping to get my daughter on board, too, and my son spends entire days outside in the summer. My husband is entrenched in lesson planning for classes he's teaching this summer and a new class in the fall, so I suspect he will be doing a lot of that. There should be very little I have to arrange in order to get my reading time in.

If someone asked me for recommendations of “can’t put down” books for the read-a-thon, I would recommend:
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
The Road
(yeah, I know this one is bleak, but I did have a hard time putting it down)
graphic novels

If you participated in the October 2007 read-a-thon:
I didn't participate last October.

I tag anyone who wants to do this...

Read-a-Thon a comin'!

Last year when Dewey hosted her first ever read-a-thon, I was a new book blogger, and it also was in October, which is a notoriously busy time of year around my house. So, I had to pass. Needless to say, I was hyped when I saw that Dewey was going to host another, this time in June! We tend to not travel much in the summer, and the kids aren't involved in any weekend activities, so there's no reason at all that I can't participate this time. Yay!

Here's information about the Read-a-Thon, from Dewey's blog, the hidden side of a leaf.

Anybody that knows me in person knows that there's no way I'm actually going to read for 24 hours straight, as once the sun sets and my book and I hit the sofa, I'm heading for sleepytime. But there's nothing to stop me (other than my family) for reading the daylight hours away.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Big Chickens Fly the Coop by Leslie Helakoski

In this colorful picture book, the four chickens inhabiting the coop decide they want to visit the farmhouse. Each time they venture out of the coop, they encounter some fixture of farm life and wonder if this is the farmhouse, each time to get frightened, sending them running back to the coop. It's a cute idea, and the pictures are bright and interesting, but in the end, we all felt a little bit let down.

That said, while my first impression that this would be a great story for preschoolers (and maybe they would like it more than my 9- and 11-year-old children did) didn't play out, it would be a great teaching tool for vocabulary and the use of interesting verbs and adjectives.

The Crocodile Blues by Coleman Polhemus

I was browsing the new books shelf at the library for picture books to read for the PB&J Challenge, and I couldn't resist taking this one home.

This book cover, with it's dark blue and black with the splash of bright yellow, really catches your attention. The inner illustrations of this (mostly) wordless book are simple silhouettes in just one or two colors per page. All the pictures are in some combination of blue, black, yellow, and white. The author incorporates fold-out pages to help tell his story, and I thought this was going to be a real winner. Unfortunately, what seemed like was going to be a really cute story ended with me and both kids going, "huh." I think the humor just went completely over all of our heads.

The (apparent) premise is a man goes to the store and on his way home he encounters a machine that, when a coin is inserted, spits out an egg. The egg ends up being that of a crocodile, who proceeds to run the man and his pet bird out of his home and then opens a blues bar in his apartment. While the pictures are fantastic, the story was lacking. But then, I've never been a real fan of wordless books, so maybe it was just me.

PB&J Challenge list

I'm making this post for ease of keeping track of what I've read for the PB&J Challenge.

All Year Long by Kathleen W. Deady
Bark, George by Jules Feiffer
The Crocodile Blues by Coleman Polhemus
That Darn Yarn by Tony Millionaire

Aylesworth, Jim - Itty Bitty Mousie
Birdseye, Tom - Look Out, Jack! The Giant Is Back!
Colshorn, Carl and Theodor - The Porridge Pot
Helakoski, Leslie - Big Chickens Fly the Coop

Random thoughts on a relaxing Friday

I had a job interview today and took the whole day off from work, and it has been such a nice day. I've gotten in more reading time this afternoon than I've had in days (if not weeks). I've been reading The Road, which I am enjoying much more than I thought I would. I've got less than 100 pages to go and hope to finish it in the next day or so, depending on my schedule. Actually, I will be picking up Laura at the airport tomorrow afternoon, which will give me prime reading time, assuming I get out of the house early enough to get through security with time to spare. Depending on how far I get tonight, I may even need to grab an extra book.

I still have a couple of reviews to catch up on - I'll try to get those posted later tonight.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Weekly Geeks #6

This week in Weekly Geeks we're supposed to catch up on reviews. I'm almost there, but I don't know if I'll make it. I still have 3 reviews to post, and I think maybe I'm done for tonight.

Finished: Once Upon a Time II Challenge

Woohoo! Finished!

Here's the final tally:

The Sweet Far Thing

Princess Academy
American Gods
The Book of Lost Things

My favorite was absolutely Stardust! But I enjoyed them all. This was a lot fun! Thanks to Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings for hosting!

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

I'd heard so many great things about The Book of Lost Things, and I wasn't disappointed. This book is delightfully creepy! I explained it to someone as "fairy tales, if you were having a nightmare about them."

David, an unhappy young boy, due to various events in his life, enters a frightening world by slipping through a wall in his garden and suddenly finds his life in danger. Fairy tales come alive, but with disarming twists. David embarks on a journey through this other world trying to find his way home, and on the way he matures greatly from a young boy to a young man.

I would compare this book somewhat to Neil Gaiman's work. The writing style is different, but the aura of the book is very similar. I saw this classified somewhere as young adult (I think maybe someone tagged it as such in LibraryThing), but, really, I think the target audience is older. It reminded me a bit of Stephen King, but brainier, if that makes any sense.

If you've reviewed this book, leave me a comment and I'll link to your review.

Other reviews at:
The Written Word
the hidden side of a leaf
things mean a lot

This completes the Once Upon a Time II challenge! And it fulfills the C author spot in the A-Z challenge.

Booking through Thursday

Have your book-tastes changed over the years? More
fiction? Less? Books that are darker and more serious? Lighter and more
frivolous? Challenging? Easy? How-to books over novels? Mysteries over

Don't forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don't have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

I don't often answer these, although I like reading other peoples' responses. But this one looked like a good opportunity to post.

I think it's natural for people's book tastes to change over the years; after all, we all grow over time. When I was in high school, I read a lot of Danielle Steel and Stephen King. I would never pick up a flat-out romance book now, but I'm not averse to reading another Stephen King (it's been years since I read anything by him, but I've enjoyed every one I ever read). Then I went through a Patricia Cornwell stage - I'm over that now, too, as the Kay Scarpetta novels just really seemed to fizzle. I read *much* more literary fiction than I ever have before thanks to book blogs and magazines like Bookmarks. But I'm also reading more young adult books than I've ever read before, thanks to keeping up with some reading lists over the past couple of years. I think I've finally settled into a groove with reading, in that I get suggestions from everywhere, and my wishlist/TBR stack have books of all different varieties. I don't read romance anymore (at least not
Danielle Steel-type - Philippa Gregory's books and the Outlander series do have some "romance" characteristics), and I've learned that I don't really care much for cozy mysteries. But overall, I'll read just about anything you put in my hands!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace...One School at a Time by Greg Mortensen

Three Cups of Tea is an inspiring book of how one man can make a big difference. Greg Mortensen, after an unsuccessful attempt at climbing K2, makes a promise to build a school in a small village in Pakistan. This goal of just one school becomes grander as suddenly he is being asked to build schools (mostly schools for Muslim girls) all over Pakistan and Afghanistan. Mortensen overcomes all kinds of odds to make this happen, including lack of funding and the changes in the world after 9/11.

This was another audiobook, and overall, it was pretty good. The narration wasn't the greatest, and the book does not have the best prose I've ever read. But then, Greg Mortensen doesn't pretend to be an author - he's just a man who is trying to spread the word about what a difference education can make in combatting radical fundamentalism. I highly recommend this book!

Rules by Cynthia Lord

This was the last book Laura and I listened to before school ended. I chose it because 1) she had asked me to get it from Audible months ago, but we were listening to His Dark Materials for months and 2) it was a short book, and we didn't have much time.

Laura and I both liked this book very much. The main character, Catherine, has a younger brother with autism, and she is torn by her feelings of embarrassment over his differences and the need to protect him. She also is dealing with confusion over her blossoming friendship with Jason, a wheelchair-bound boy she meets at her brother's Occupational Therapy clinic, and a new friendship with a girl who moves in next door. There are a lot of issues thrown into this book, making it quite complex for such a small book. I highly recommend this one, either in print or as an audiobook. The narration for this was very good.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

It's Tuesday, Where Are You?

Today, I spent a lot of time in Iran, during the Islamic Revolution (just finished Persepolis over lunch).

This morning I was somewhere in New England, maybe? I'm honestly not sure where Change of Heart is set. Being Jodi Picoult, it's gotta be somewhere New England-y.

Later today, I will still be on an island in the middle of nowhere with Peter and his friends in Peter and the Starcatchers, and also walking South, I'm guessing somewhere in the area of Tennessee/Georgia, after some sort of apocalyptic event, with my boy (The Road). I just started The Road last night and haven't made it very far, but the mention of a See Rock City sign is a dead giveaway.

As always, if you'd like to play, visit raidergirl3 at

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Anne of Green Gables

I had completely forgotten about this - thank goodness for Google Reader!

This month marks the 100th anniversary of the original publication of Anne of Green Gables. There's a blog devoted to the re-reading of this classic found here. I'm going to be reading, and I'm going to try to convince my daughter to read it. Wanna join along?