February 11, 2007

Virtual Book Tour

Mom forwarded along an announcement that HarperCollins has teamed up with BlogHer.org, the eminent community for women bloggers, to launch a three-month virtual book tour. Beginning February 11, HarperCollins will promote the first of nine titles via BlogHer. Three times a month, at least 25 review copies of a new title will be sent to members of the community who request them through BlogHer's Virtual Book Tour Page, located at http://blogher.org/node/15258. Bloggers are invited to post their reviews and participate in book title discussions on their own blogs and on BlogHer.org, which includes a directory of more than 7,100 blogs.

The titles that will be promoted in the Virtual Book Tour include: Babyproofing Your Marriage by Stacie Cockrell, Cathy O'Neill, and Julia Stone; Diaper-Free Baby by Christine Gross-Loh; What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman; Good Kids, Bad Habits by Dr. Jennifer Trachtenberg; Men May Come and Men May Go, but I’ve Still Got My Little Pink Raincoatby Gigi Anders; Sanity Savers: Tips for Women to Live a Balanced Life by Dale Vicky Atkins and Barbara Scala; Modern Jewish Mom's Guide to Shabbat by Meredith Jacobs; Raw Food Life Force Energy by Natalia Rose; and How Elizabeth Barrett Browning Saved My Life by Mameve Medwed. 

... and of course Dr. Dale is a good friend of my Mom's, which makes this even more fun to check into!

Posted by Emily at 08:50 AM | Comments (4158)

February 04, 2007

Reading update

I'm horribly overdue on chronicling the books I've been reading -- I haven't posted anything since before our trip, so I'll probably miss some now, but here are some of them:

The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World
by Michael Pollan
(Dad and Jane gave me their copy months ago and I finally got to it on the trip and really enjoyed it)

The Labyrinth
by Kate Moss

A Letter of Mary: A Mary Russell Novel
by Laurie R. King
I meant to grab the one where they go to the Middle East, but instead this one follows that one and deals with a mystery left to them by a friend they had met there

Bandit Queen Boogie
by Sparkle Hayter
great fun, 2 friends traveling around Europe

Maximum Ride : The Angel Experiment
by James Patterson
Can't believe I haven't read this series before -- will now have to go read the sequels, left it for Hanna to try

Tortilla Curtain
by T.C. Boyle

Zen And the Art of Crossword Puzzles: A Journey Down And Across
by Nikki Katz

shoot, wish I could remember any others... they may come back to me.

Now I'm reading Forever in Blue: The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood (Sisterhood of Traveling Pants) by Ann Brashares and have a pile of crossword puzzle related books that I'm hoping to read before Puzzle Day... but I've been doing event organizing instead of much reading the last few weeks... I do have some long plane rides coming up in March to stock up for though...

Update: oops, one more I remembered just now:
The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession
by Susan Orlean

Posted by Emily at 08:01 PM | Comments (0)

February 03, 2007

Silicon Valley Reads 2007

Its time again for Silicon Valley Reads, where the people here all read and discuss one book. This year's pick was Tortilla Curtain, which I finished on Friday night just in time to go to the Morgan Hill event Saturday morning. Here are a few photos from the event, the group watched a video taped interview with the author and then had a discussion led by a professor of Latin American studies.


Its also our February pick for the bookclub at work, and its my turn to lead the discussion (last Wed of the month).

Posted by Emily at 07:50 PM | Comments (149)

December 22, 2006

A few books

Before I go, I wanted to write up a few of the last books I've been readig and listening to before I forget about them:

Swapping Lives
by Jane Green
Great chick-lit where a London singleton and a married CT housewife trade lives for a month to see if the grass is really greener elsewhere. A scary portrait of CT suburban life, making me appreciate living in such a very different social climate here.

The Tenth Circle: A Novel
by Jodi Picoult
Another from a fantastic author. This one is a father/daughter one filled with twists and turns. Lots of heavy issues, but great characters and story.

The Game (Mary Russell Novel)
by Laurie R. King
Another fantastic series, unfortunately I had about 1/2 a CD to go last night and had to return it before trip since it couldn't be renewed past our return date.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder: A Hannah Swensen Mystery (Hannah Swensen Mysteries (Hardcover))
by Joanne Fluke
You can't go too wrong with a book featuring cookie recipes interspersed in the murder mystery. Not the best of the food-themed mysteries I've read, but the series may improve (there are a bunch of them).

Posted by Emily at 06:24 AM | Comments (619)

December 03, 2006

Notable Books

I've read two of The 10 Best Books of 2006 (according to today's NY Times list) -- Special Topics in Calamity Physics, which I loved, and The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, which I finished off last night.

From their list of 100 Notable Books of the Year, there were the two from above plus The Gate of the Sun, which we read for book club (but which I didn't actually make it all the way through)

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan was really excellent, and I highly recommend it to anyone who cares about what they're eating (or isn't, and really should be). I had no idea how much of our diet was based on corn!

I also recently listened to The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, which was so well written (and not as hard to get through as I thought given the subject matter). I'm currently listening to The Tenth Circle and am not sure which book off the big pile I'll read next.

Posted by Emily at 03:22 PM | Comments (1644)

November 18, 2006

A couple more books

A couple more books off the pile:

In the car, I listened to The Templar Legacy: A Novel by Steve Berry (which I think I had read about in EW ages ago but can't remember). Its Da Vinci Code-ish (and I had to fast forward through the end of the prologue because it got too gruesome) and is very heavy on the religion aspects, but it was another one that I wanted to stay in the car for. PW wrote, "But lively characters and action set pieces make this a more readable, if no more plausible, version of the typical gnostic occult thriller." Booklist writes, " After nearly grinding to a halt through all the premise building, the novel finally gathers steam in the last 100 pages or so, concluding with a revelation that seems refreshingly clear after the many convoluted twists that precede it. Until the next Dan Brown opus is released, this should hold devotees." In a funny coincidence, I got an email from long-lost college friend Collin while I was listening to this book -- The Knights Templar always make me think of him since he almost wrote his thesis on them (but ended up not doing it in the end for some reason I can't remember).

Quickly polished off Dark Tort: A Novel of Suspense (Goldy Bear Culinary Mysteries) by Diane Mott Davidson that Mom had passed along ages ago. That series is always reliably delicious.

A sidetrip into nonfiction for Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab. A really interesting look at some of the unconscious food decisions we eat every day and the results of studies his lab has done with bottomless bowls of soups, super large movie popcorns and all sorts of other things.

And Nicole, my local YA librarian, made me check out Nancy Werlin's new book, The Rules of Survival, which she says is likely to be a Prince finalist. As always, Nicole picked another really good one. "Narrated by 17-year-old Matt as a letter to his youngest sister, Emmy, The Rules of Survival is his effort to come to terms with the vicious treatment he and his two sisters suffered at the hands of Nikki, their beautiful and unpredictable mother." (SLJ) Booklist writes, "The author of Double Helix (2003),Werlin reinforces her reputation as a master of the YA thriller, pulling off a brilliant departure in this dark but hopeful tale, with pacing and suspense guaranteed to leave readers breathlessly turning the pages."

Posted by Emily at 07:56 AM | Comments (0)

November 05, 2006

A couple of books

newmoon.jpgI couldn't resist gobbling up New Moon, the sequel to Twilight, a spectacular teenage vampire romance. This one was equally hard to put down and now I definitely want a third in the series -- and according to the faq, "Book three in the Twilight Series, Eclipse, is in the final stages of editing. This means that it's pretty much done, with just a few minor fixes to go. We're on schedule and Eclipse will be released in the fall of 2007." (phew) Read the first chapter of New Moon here.

spotofbother.jpgI listened to Mark Haddon's new book, A Spot of Bother and enjoyed it. It took me a while to get into it, but then I couldn't wait to find out what happened to the characters and how it would all sort out (and what the wedding would be like...)

onwhatgrounds.jpgI saw this on the Westport Library Book Blog and couldn't resist trying a coffeehouse mystery. On What Grounds by Cleo Coyle is the first in the series and was a very fun quick read (and includes recipes and coffee-making tips). I could see tearing through the rest of the series at some point.

Bookclub this month is The Life of Pi, so I may need to reread that since its been quite a while.

Posted by Emily at 09:25 AM | Comments (0)

October 28, 2006

The Thirteenth Tale

n188569.jpgStayed up very late to finish The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield last night. Kathryn at work had lent it to me and from the first page I was hooked.

Web Site for the book (including a chance to win a leather-bound edition)

Its another real booklovers book (here's a list of the character's favorite books and has a strong dose of Jane Eyre running through it.

Reading Group Guide

Vida Winter, a bestselling yet reclusive novelist, has created many outlandish life histories for herself, all of them invention. Now old and ailing, at last she wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. Her letter to biographer Margaret Lea - a woman with secrets of her own - is a summons. Vida's tale is one of gothic strangeness featuring the Angelfield family: the beautiful and wilful Isabelle and the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline. Margaret succumbs to the power of Vida's storytelling, but as a biographer she deals in fact not fiction and she doesn't trust Vida's account. As she begins her researches, two parallel stories unfold. Join Margaret as she begins her journey to the truth - hers, as well as Vida's.

Posted by Emily at 08:42 AM | Comments (0)

October 07, 2006

Special Topics in Calamity Physics

calamity.jpgFinished Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl last night. Mom had raved about it and then passed it along to me when I was there last week. I, of course, loved it too.

The web site for the book is cool (though it reminds me of JK Rowling's)

Here's the official description:

Special Topics in Calamity Physics is a darkly hilarious coming-of-age novel and a richly plotted suspense tale told through the distinctive voice of its heroine, Blue van Meer. After a childhood moving from one academic outpost to another with her father (a man prone to aphorisms and meteoric affairs), Blue is clever, deadpan, and possessed of a vast lexicon of literary, political, philosophical, and scientific knowledge—and is quite the cineaste to boot. In her final year of high school at the elite (and unusual) St. Gallway School in Stockton, North Carolina, Blue falls in with a charismatic group of friends and their captivating teacher, Hannah Schneider. But when the drowning of one of Hannah’s friends and the shocking death of Hannah herself lead to a confluence of mysteries, Blue is left to make sense of it all with only her gimlet-eyed instincts and cultural references to guide—or misguide—her.

Structured around a syllabus for a Great Works of Literature class and containing ironic visual aids (drawn by the author), Pessl’s debut novel is complex yet compelling, erudite yet accessible. It combines the suspense of Hitchcock, the self-parody of Dave Eggers, and the storytelling gifts of Donna Tartt with a dazzling intelligence and wit entirely Pessl’s own.

Kathryn suggested The Secret History as a follow-up.

Posted by Emily at 09:14 AM | Comments (0)

October 03, 2006

2 More Books

2 more books read/listened to:

Charlie Bone And The Hidden King (Children of the Red King)
I just love Charlie Bone -- maybe even more than I like Harry P.

by Gabrielle Zevin
This was a wonderful story to listen to -- and really nice to imagine the afterlife as such a nice place.

And 2 more came in the mail from the paperback book swap!

Dancing in the Dark by Mary Jane Clark
The Winter Queen by Boris Akunin

Thank you to everyone who is participating in the paperback book swap -- it's so much fun to open the mailbox and discover all these books!

Posted by Emily at 06:50 PM | Comments (0)

September 23, 2006

Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read is observed during the last week of September each year. Observed since 1982, this annual ALA event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted. This year, 2006, marks BBW's 25th anniversary (September 23-30).

2006 BBW; Read Banned Books: They're Your Ticket to Freedom

Most Challenged Books of 21st Century (2000-2005)
Explore Banned Books with Google

Posted by Emily at 08:50 AM | Comments (0)

September 21, 2006

2 More

I got two more books in the mail today from the paperback book swap (really, its not too late to join in, just let me know and I'll email you the invite!). Today in the mail were:

The Visiting Professor by Robert Littell
The Wind Caller by P.D. Cacek

all three so far have been postmarked from Washington DC

Posted by Emily at 06:52 PM | Comments (442)

September 20, 2006

September Books...

Another pile of books has piled up without me blogging about them, let's see if I can remember them all.

But first -- I'm so excited that I received my first book back from my paperback book swap! If you're interested in participating (you send out one book and send the letter to six friends, you get back 36 books!), please let me know -- I'd love to include you and somehow I doubt that all 6 of the people I sent it to are planning to actually follow through with it (if you did, thank you!! isn't it fun!!) I just got Bel Canto in the mail, which I have been meaning to read forever and now will finally try to get around to!

Anyway, here are some of the books I've been reading/listening to lately:

The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde
Thank you Mom for sending it -- I do love Jasper Fforde! I thought this was better than The Big Over Easy: A Nursery Crime, and so much fun to jump into the now familiar Nursury Crime world. Can't wait for the next Thursday Next though...

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
The local teen librarian had said this was the best book she had read all summer, and I can totally see why. Its a fantastic YA vampire book with great characters. A week later I was dreaming about making the movie version of it and I'm on the waiting list for the sequel. A quick can't-put-it-down one.

All Over Creation by Ruth L. Ozeki
I had really liked My Year of Meats a few years ago so thought I'd take this one (plus I thought S would enjoy the agricultural angle so it seemed like a good choice for our long weekend car ride) It was complicated and long (and I admit I fell asleep for some of it which probably didn't help), but overall I liked it and it lead to some interesting conversations in the car about genetic engineering and things.

Dragonsinger (Harper Hall Trilogy, Volume 2) (Harper Hall Trilogy, Volume 2) by Anne McCaffrey
We listened to this one on the way back home from Oregon. They're such comforting, easy to listen to stories. I'm glad I had listened to A Gift of Dragons since it got me familiar enough with the world that I could jump into book two of this series pretty well. I don't know why I haven't read all of them before now...

The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd
I had avoided picking this one up for ages, but was desperate for a CD so finally gave in -- and then of course loved it. I had no expectations going in except that the back blurb didn't sound very appealing. But the commutes zoomed by all week with this one playing.

I'm still slogging my way through this month's bookclub pick, Gate of the Sun, but it puts me to sleep so I doubt I'll finish in time for next week's discussion (and then I'll probably abandon it for my growing pile of fun books). Just started Elsewhere in the car which seems promising.

Posted by Emily at 07:44 PM | Comments (1)

August 31, 2006

Dragons and Spies

A quick note about 2 more books listened to:

Scorpia (Alex Rider Adventure)
Scorpia is the fifth book in the Alex Rider series of books by British author Anthony Horowitz. Raven's Gate (The Gatekeepers) (Gatekeepers, The). I haven't read any of the others in the series, but really like the character of Alex Rider and would be tempted to pick up the others.

A Gift of Dragons
A series of short pieces by Anne McCaffrey, which for some reason reminded me ot the characters in City of Ember... Very nice dragon tales and also tempting to keep going with others in her Pern series...

Posted by Emily at 07:33 AM | Comments (0)

August 30, 2006

Paperback Book Swap

book_stack.jpgIf anyone is interested in being part of a paperback book swap (you know, its like a chain letter, you send one book to the person on the top of the list and send the list to six people, and if all goes well you end up with 36 books) please let me know. Last time I tried to participate in one of these (dish towels!) none of my friends followed through so I didn't get any towels back. So if you want to play along, leave me a comment or send me an email and I'll send out all the details. How can you resist getting 36 interesting books from all over sent to you for the price of one book that you've already bought and read. Thanks!

Posted by Emily at 01:50 PM | Comments (2)

Google Book Search

Ooh fun! More PDFs of public-domain books through Google now.

Google Book Search

Posted by Emily at 11:45 AM | Comments (0)

August 26, 2006

New books by authors I love

There are so many new books right now by some of my favorite authors!

Mom sent me The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde (which of course I had to jump into immediately -- not a Thursday Next, but the NCD ones are still a lot of fun)
Jennifer Weiner's The Guy Not Taken: Stories is out (and you can see a video of her reading from it on her MySpace page! - how cool is that!)
And a new Sujata Massey, Girl in a Box is due out soon
Plus, a new Dorothy Cannell, Withering Heights: An Ellie Haskell Mystery, but not until next April it looks like...

Posted by Emily at 11:53 AM | Comments (1)

August 24, 2006

Read for the Record

Today is the day when we're all supposed to Read for the Record!

  • Tens of thousands of adults and young children will read The Little Engine That Could together in their homes, libraries, parent groups, preschool centers and major public venues on August 24 to show support for early learning, engage in the very practice that helps young children thrive, and set a world record.
  • A special edition of The Little Engine That Could, custom published by Penguin and generously printed gratis by Pearson, will celebrate Jumpstart’s Read for the Record campaign and share with you important tips for making the most of reading time with young children. The custom limited edition of The Little Engine That Could is available exclusively at Starbucks from August 1 – 28.

Brian and Karen are in San Antonio, where she will be the Jumpstart representative at an event with over 600 children (and simulcast to the schools with 30,000 more children) reading The Little Engine That Could together with state representatives, local celebrities, and much to Brian's liking, the Coyote mascot from the Spurs.

Posted by Emily at 06:04 AM | Comments (0)

August 20, 2006

More books

Some of the recent books I've been reading or listening to:

Hit the Road by Caroline B. Cooney

A great intergenerational YA book where a teen and her grandmother hit the road and run into all sorts of trouble. A really fun read.

The Photograph by Penelope Lively

It reminded me a bit of The Accidental, but that may be just the British family theme.

Jingo by Terry Pratchett
We loved Thud! A Novel of Discworld so much that we had to listen to this one too.

Blue Shoes and Happiness

The most recent in the The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, always a treat to read.

Miracle in the Andes by Nando Parrado and Vince Rause

This month's book club pick at our work book club. Definitely not one that I would have picked up on my own (but of course that's the whole point of our book club). I really enjoyed it though and am glad I read it! I've never read Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors (Avon Nonfiction) or even seen the movie, but knew the basics of the story of course.

Revolutionary Wealth by Alvin and Heidi Toffler

Only managed to get through 1/2 of the CDs before I had to return it, but there are some interesting ideas in there about prosumers and the changing economy.

The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs

Hanna recommended this one and I have to say it's a strage one. Maternal taxidermy and things. Hmm...


I just love Block's lyrical style. The subject matter is always pretty intense, I love the way magic is woven in. Yum.

Now I'm listening to Gatekeepers: Ravens Gate (After Words) a fantastic scary fantasy and will probably start our next book club pick, Gate of the Sun.

Posted by Emily at 08:22 AM | Comments (1)

July 16, 2006

3 books

I'm on a roll with three really fun reads this week:

Triangle: A Novel by Katharine Weber
This one is our upcoming bookclub book and so far everyone has really enjoyed it. It features the granddaughter of the last survivor of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory and her really great composer boyfriend as they piece together some of what happened to her grandmother. I'm going to have to pass this one along to Mom and to Aunt Susan, who I know is interested in books about that fire.

Literacy and Longing in L.A. by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack
Mom read this one when she was out here and I also loved it. (Lisa - I've left it on your desk for you) Booklist calls it "Book lust meets chick lit in this tale of a love-challenged bookworm." I mean really, how could we resist?

And a trip to my favorite bookstore in DC, Politics and Prose, yielded The Wonder Spot by Melissa Bank (author of The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing) which I read on the plane home today. I loved Sophie and totally identify with her self-description of being a "solid trying to do a liquid's job" and she was even a Hebrew-school dropout like me... Good, quick chick-lit read.

Posted by Emily at 02:32 PM | Comments (0)

July 06, 2006

A few books

Here's the last few books I've managed to read or listen to. I got bogged down for quite a while in The World is Flat, which set me back a bit. Got some good quality reading time this evening though while giving platelets again, so I managed to finish off Magyk (and will now have to go on the waiting list for Flyte)

The World is Flat: a brief history of the twenty-first century by Thomas L. Friedman.
This was our June bookclub book and it was interesting, but not a light read. It seemed to say the same things over and over, but they were interesting things so I tried to stick with it. Only 2 of the 8 people who came to the bookclub meeting had actually finished in time (I wasn't one of them) "The New York Times columnist offers a concise history of globalization, discussing a wide range of topics, from the 9/11 attacks to the growth of the middle class in both China and India."

Thud! by Terry Pratchett, Performed by Stephen Briggs.
S had listened to this one and from the little I heard I knew I was going to have to too. It is wonderfully funny and engaging. I'm really going to have to read more Terry Pratchett books. "A seemingly routine day in the life of City Watch commander Sam Vimes is abruptly interrupted by an unsolved murder, an impending war, an unwanted new recruit, and a pesky government inspector. By the author of Going Postal. It's a game of Trolls and Dwarfs where the player must take both sides to win. It's the noise a troll club makes when crushing in a dwarf skull, or when a dwarfish axe cleaves a trollish cranium. It's the unsettling sound of history about to repeat itself. THUD! It's the most extraordinary, outrageous, provocative, insightful, and keenly cutting flight of fancy yet from Discworld's incomparable supreme creator, Terry Pratchett."

Rowing in Eden by Barbara Rogan, Read by Anna Fields.
Another one passed on from S. "The surface serenity of life in the village of Old Wickham is disturbed by Sam Pollak's killing of his wife, a spate of arson, and the arrival of Jane Goncalves and her three foster children." Not something I would have picked up on my own, but I didn't want to get out of the car once I was hooked on it.

Septimus Heap, Book One: Magyk by Angie Sage
Had to read this one after so many people had asked for it at the library and I definitely enjoyed it and look forward to the next book. "After learning that she is the Princess, Jenna is whisked from her home and carried toward safety by the Extraordinary Wizard, those she always believed were her father and brother, and a young guard known only as Boy 412--pursued by agents of those who killed her mother ten years earlier."

And sadly I think that's it. I've been reading bits of The May Queen : Women on Life, Love, Work, and Pulling It All Together in Your 30s (which I learned about on Jennifer Weiner's blog) but haven't finished it.

Posted by Emily at 09:00 PM | Comments (2)

June 28, 2006

Janet Evanovich

While I was at work on Sunday, S was super wonderful and stood in line at Costco for 2 1/2 hours to get Janet Evanovich to autograph her new book so that we could donate it to the silent auction at the upcoming Friends of the Library fundraiser. I'm so impressed how many people were willing to wait for hours for an author there!


p.s. if anyone has other ideas for silent auction items or would like to come to the fundraiser, please let me know.

Posted by Emily at 06:16 AM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2006

Hebrew Book Week

Happy Hebrew Book Week (which apparently runs June 7-16)

During this week leading Israeli authors and poets will meet with the readers in organized fairs all over the country. Poetry readings, lectures, literary workshops, street theaters, comics happening and other activities for young and adults will also take place.

Some stats: The National Library at Hebrew Universtiy in Jerusalem reports that 6,840 books were released last year, as compared to 6,436 in 2004. In addition, there were 915 journal titles and new newspapers, and 650 non-book titles, including cassettes and CDs, appeared last year.

While unrelated, I'm very excited to be going to the Book Club Expo here in San Jose on Saturday! (if any of you are going, let me know and we can meet up there!)

And speaking of Hebrew, thank you to Ran for sending me a link to my site in Hebrew :)

Posted by Emily at 06:22 PM | Comments (1)

June 12, 2006

One by one marketing on MySpace

Another great use of MySpace -- an author asked me to be her "friend" on the site so I checked out her profile, read about her book, and ordered myself a copy on Amazon (because of the good reviews people were leaving on the site and because I thought it was so cool she sought out readers through the social network... and because our library doesn't yet own a copy). How's that for good marketing?

Posted by Emily at 05:06 PM | Comments (20)

May 25, 2006

May Book Roundup

Before I forget all of them, a rundown on some of the recent books I've read or listened to:

Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones
First novel in the Chrestomanci quartet -- another fun one with a boy discovering magic powers (yes, I'm in a rut of those)
And how cool is it that the School Library Journal review posted on that Amazon page is by our very own deputy county librarian!

The Prophet of Yonwood by Jeanne Duprau
The prequel (50 years before its even built) to the City of Ember, which I had written my culminating paper on (planning a visit for the author at our local library). I had preordered it ages ago. I definitely liked it, especially the end when we connect up with what we know from the later books. There's an excerpt on the Amazon page.

Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods by Suzanne Collins
Third in this fun series and just as satisfying. Next up is Gregor And The Marks Of Secret which the library doesn't seem to own yet (darn!)

Funny in Farsi : A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America by Firoozeh Dumas
This is our bookclub pick for the month (we meet the last wednesday of each month at lunch)

Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata [CD]
Narrated by Elaina Erika Davis
A Newbury medal winner

The Mask of the Black Tulip by Lauren Willig [CD]
The sequel to the The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, another fun historical espionage/love story. Definitely a guilty pleasure. (ooh, a new one is due out in November - The Deception of the Emerald Ring)

The Plot Against America by Philip Roth [CD]
Narrated by Ron Silver
Since we had about 12 hours in the car last weekend we polished this one off. I had heard about it for ages but the idea really didn't appeal to me. But it was worth listening to.

I think there were more... I have to get back into the habit of blogging them as soon as I'm done!

reading now: Dead Days of Summer
in the car: Eldest (Inheritance, Book 2) (though its due back on Saturday and I have over half the CDs left to go, so I'll probably end up reading the rest)

Posted by Emily at 08:42 PM | Comments (0)

May 03, 2006

Bunch of Books

I'm horribly behind in recording books here... Here's the last set of ones I've read

The Dark Hills Divide (The Land of Elyon, Book 1)
Beyond the Valley of Thorns
by Patric Carman
A great series I just stumbled upon with an 11 year old girl who ends up saving the day.

Midnight for Charlie Bone (The Children of the Red King, Book 1)
Charlie Bone and the Time Twister (The Children of the Red King, Book 2)
Charlie Bone and the Invisible Boy (The Children of the Red King, Book 3) (almost done listening to it in the car)
by Jenny Nimmo
Another great series -- a fantastic Harry Potter readalike (very similar -- young boy realizes he has some magic power and is sent off to boarding school) I love Charlie!

The Geographer's Library
by Jon Fasman
I just happened across this at a bookstore in Phoenix. It took me a while to get through (with the move and all) but it was interesting. Its a bit Da Vinci-code-ish -- journalist piecing together century old mystery type thing.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (again, this time for book club at work)
Listened to it this time -- very nice recording.

and there's probably more that I'm forgetting, but at least I've recorded these now.

Posted by Emily at 05:14 PM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2006

Book Group Expo

Oooh! This looks like fun: Book Group Expo San Jose. We just started a book group at work and one of our members sent around the link. I'm working 6/18, but definitely will try to go on 6/17.

Saturday, June 17 10A - 5P Sunday, June 18th 9A - 5P
San Jose McEnery Convention Center

If you thought book groups were just about reading books, THINK AGAIN! book group expo San Jose is designed for book group members as well as anyone who loves reading. This two day event is an innovation in bringing readers and authors together in an intimate and conversational way.

book group expo San Jose is a place where you can:

Meet (famous) authors. Eat chocolate. Attend lively discussions. Taste wine. Have your books signed. Sample desserts. Meet other serious readers. Watch live cooking demonstrations. Meet (not yet famous) authors. Savor fine tea. Browse books -- lots of books - to your heart's content. Listen to literati. Enjoy friends. Eat more chocolate. Learn about book groups and book clubs. Have fun. Serious fun.

And Tina and I were just talking about our old book group... it'd be fun to start that up again one day... There's nothing like sitting around with a bunch of interesting people talking about good books!

Posted by Emily at 03:47 PM | Comments (1)

March 26, 2006

March Book Roundup

With everything that's been going on I haven't had much time for reading, but here are the last few books I sqeezed in (the one upside about being too sick to get out of bed is I did get a little reading done the past few days).

thecompany.jpgThe Company by Max Barry

penderwicks.jpgThe Penderwicks : A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall

size12isnotfat.jpgSize 12 Is Not Fat : A Heather Wells Mystery by Meg Cabot

vanishingacts.jpgVanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult

Posted by Emily at 12:51 PM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2006

Tournament of Books

via Powell's Blog comes the Tournament of Books Pool from Coudal Partners where you can bet on the books chosen by The Morning News It costs ten dollars to place a bet.

All the money collected will be given to Donors Choose, an awesome charity that "provides students in need with the resources our public schools often lack." After the tournament we will randomly choose one of the right answers and send that person ALL the nominated books. Nine other correct bets will receive the nominated book of their choice.

The Current Odds according to the site are:

The History of Love 4/1
The Time in Between 20/1
Veronica 7/1
Never Let Me Go 5/2
The Greatest Man in Cedar Hole 30/1
Home Land 9/2
The Historian 5/1
No Country for Old Men 7/2
The King of Kings County 20/1
Anansi Boys 8/1
The Accidental 8/1
On Beauty 7/2
Beasts of No Nation 16/1
Garner 10/1
Saturday 3/1
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close 4/1

Hard choice since I've only read Teh Historian... I overheard sections of Never Let Me Go and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close while riding in S's car while he had the CDs of them playing. Will definitely have to add a few of these others to my to-do list...

Our office is about to start a book club, but I don't think we're organized enough to run a pool like this (though the Survivor Pool is still going strong).

Posted by Emily at 03:02 PM | Comments (18)

March 04, 2006


catch.jpgBetween pledge breaks this morning I finished off Catch by Will Leitch, a really excellent YA boy-book about a kid from a small town and his last summer before college. School Library Journal writes, "During the summer between his high school graduation and leaving for state college, Tim Temples works and drinks hard and discovers that he is not alone at the center of his own universe. ... Only belatedly does Tim realize that he is different from most of his friends, most of his family, most of the town. He's leaving to be a college guy, in a world just down the highway but very far away in terms of prospects. Leitch draws readers to Tim slowly and places him within a cast of characters who are finely etched, realistic, and memorably quirky. Teens will recognize people they know among these characters, some admirable, most deeply flawed, all genuine. This is a keenly felt and absorbing read about this bittersweet rite of passage." I will definitely add it to my list of YA recommended books.

Grade 10 Up

Posted by Emily at 03:56 PM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2006


Another great environmentally friendly young YA book to go with Hoot (by the same author... and did you know there's a movie coming out soon? yay!), Tangerine, etc. Can't beat books with kids who go after the polluting bad guys!

by Carl Hiaasen
Grade 5-8, 272 pages
2 thumbs up

Posted by Emily at 06:59 PM | Comments (19)

February 20, 2006

February Books

3 books to report on -- I feel like I haven't been getting any reading done at all but the last few days have been productive at least.

longwaydown.jpgA Long Way Down
by Nick Hornby
This one took me a while to get through but I did enjoy it. Its a weird set-up of four very different people who meet on the top of a building on New Year's eve -- each with the intention of jumping off of it but finding themselves drawn together. I liked the voices of the characters.

theearthmybutt.gifThe Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things
by Carolyn Mackler
which I had been meaning to get to forever (who can resist a title like that?) but once I started seeing reports that it was challenged in some school and once Emy blogged that she was reading it, I moved it up higher on my list. Definitely a good YA girl book.

storky.jpgStorky: How I Lost My Nickname and Won the Girl
by D.L. Garfinkle
a YA book with a smart, geeky, scrabble-playing teen facing divorced parents, teenage lust, and a looming driver's test... better than Adrian Mole and definitely a guy you want to root for.

I have a whole pile of other YA books waiting (I went a bit crazy with the holds when the new best books of the year lists came out). Luckily most of these YA ones are pretty quick enjoyable reads.

Posted by Emily at 08:08 PM | Comments (0)

February 03, 2006

Silicon Valley Reads

svreads06.gifPresented by the Santa Clara County Office of Education, the Santa Clara County Library and the San Jose Public Library Foundation, Silicon Valley Reads is designed to promote reading and literacy, broaden the exposure to and appreciation of good literature, and build community.

I've read one of the two books so far, When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka. The other book chosen is The Souvenir by Louise Steinman. Both present perspectives on the effects of World War II on California families. There are study guides available too.

I don't think I'm going to be able to actually make any of the events again this year which is too bad. Unfortunately I'm working tomorrow when there's a big event right down the street from me. But if you're local, check out the event list and participate! I love the idea of the whole community reading the same books and discussing them!

Posted by Emily at 08:32 AM | Comments (0)

February 01, 2006

Zod Wallop

zodwallop.jpgZod Wallop by William Browning Spencer is one very strange book. I can't remember where I heard about it, possibly in a discussion about books within books (one of my favorite reading categories). This one is downright trippy though, when the horror story becomes reality, or perhaps drug-induced shared telepathic hallucinations... anyway, it leaves you upside down and sideways but is well worth the wild ride.

Apparently it is often compared to The Land of Laughs by Jonathan Carroll, which happened to be in at the library last night so its now waiting on my towering to-be-read pile.

Posted by Emily at 07:42 PM | Comments (0)

January 28, 2006

Dealing with Dragons

dealingwithdragons.jpgI stumbled across Dealing with Dragons: The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, Book One by Patricia C. Wrede (also a co-author of Sorcery and Cecelia) when weeding W paperbacks a couple of weeks ago and just had to give it a try. And then of course I had to ignore the huge pile of books waiting in my pile and go right into Searching for Dragons: The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, Book Two (yes, there's a third and fourth as well).

Its a great series with a spunky princess Cimorene who is tired of etiquette and embroidery and being told that everything she likes to do is improper for a princess. She runs away from home and ends up keeping house for a dragon and getting plenty of the adventures she was hoping for. Throughout the books other fairy tale stories are woven in (like the giants frustrated that every adventuring boy who visits them is named Jack).

Ages 10+, Grades 5-9

I'm going to have to find a 10 year old who needs a birthday present and buy them the box set.

Posted by Emily at 08:42 AM | Comments (3)

January 23, 2006

Book Awards

The American Library Association (ALA) announced the top books and video for children and young adults -- including the Caldecott, King, Newbery and Printz awards today at Midwinter (one day I'll get to go to one of these ALA conferences, they sound like such cool events.) IN the mean time, here's more books to add to my pile of ones to check out...

ALA Press Release

"Criss Cross," written by Lynne Rae Perkins, is the 2006 Newbery Medal winner.
"The Hello, Goodbye Window," illustrated by Chris Raschka, is the 2006 Caldecott Medal winner
"Looking for Alaska," written by John Green, is the 2006 Printz Award winner. (read it)
"Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue," written by Julius Lester, is the King Author Book winner.
"Rosa," illustrated by Bryan Collier, is the King Illustrator Book winner.
"Jimi & Me," written by Jaime Adoff, is the Steptoe winner.
"Dona Flor: A Tall Tale About a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart," illustrated by Raul Colon, is the Belpre Illustrator Award winner.
"The Tequila Worm," written by Viola Canales, is the Belpre Author Award winner.
"Dad, Jackie, and Me" written by Myron Uhlberg, illustrated by Colin Bootman and published by Peachtree Press, wins the Schneider Family Book Award award for children ages 0 to 10. Kimberly Newton Fusco is the winner of the middle-school (ages 11-13) award for "Tending to Grace," published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children's Books. The teen (ages 13-18) award winner is "Under the Wolf, Under the Dog," written by Adam Rapp.
"Henry and Mudge and the Great Grandpas," written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Sucie Stevenson is the Seuss Award winner.
Jacqueline Woodson is the 2006 Edwards Award winner. Her books include: "I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This," and its sequel, "Lena;" "From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun," "If You Come Softly" (read it) and "Miracle's Boys."
"Secrets of a Civil War Submarine: Solving the Mysteries of the H.L. Hunley," written by Sally M. Walker, is the Sibert Award winner.

Alex Awards for the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences

"Midnight at the Dragon Cafe," written by Judy Fong Bates and published by Counterpoint.
"Upstate," written by Kalisha Buckhanon and published by St Martins
"Anansi Boys," written by Neil Gaiman and published by William Morrow & Company
"As Simple as Snow," written by Gregory Gallaway
"Never Let Me Go," written by Kazuo Ishiguro
"Gil's All Fright Diner," written by A. Lee Martinez (read it)
"The Necessary Beggar," written by Susan Palwick
"My Jim," written by Nancy Rawles
"Jesus Land: A Memoir," written by Julia Scheeres
"The Glass Castle: A Memoir," written by Jeannette Walls

plus a few others

Posted by Emily at 07:58 AM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2006

Case Histories

casehistories.jpgI finished listening to Case Histories by Kate Atkinson, read by Susan Jameson, in the car yesterday. I had seen the book on a number of year-end best books lists, and was surpried I hadn't seen it earlier given that I had read two of her other books, Behind the Scenes at the Museum and Emotionally Weird (and while I can't actually remember a thing about either of them, I think I remembered liking them.) This one is a detective story -- private detective Jackson Brodie looks into three old cases, one involving two sisters who discover a shocking clue to the disappearance of their third sister thirty years earlier, one where a lawyer is searching for his daughter's murderer, and one where a woman whose past mistakes and demanding family life culminate in a violent escape. Meanwhile someone is trying to kill Brodie and his ex-wife is threatening to move away with their daughter. The lives and stories of the characters weave into one another and the characters are all richly decribed and the narration is perfect. I would definitely recommend it -- I didn't know anything about it going into it and was a bit shocked at the end of the first chapters, but the investigation is great.

Posted by Emily at 07:39 PM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2006


Finished inkspell.jpgInkspell by Cornelia Funke, audio version narrated by Brendan Fraser, on the ride home from work tonight. I have to say I didn't like the reading, and it took me a couple of CDs before I really fell into the story (and even then, some of the voices he did just bothered me). But the story itself was good and I think overall I liked it much better than the first (which Lisa T reminded me was disappointing since we had such high hopes for a book where people get to pop into other books... but looking back to my blog entry from 12/04 I guess I liked it at the time.)

This one definitely leads right into a sequel, so hopefully the story will continue!

And it looks like they'll be making a movie version of Inkheart, due out Spring '07.

"This time Dustfinger (the fire-eater/book character who came to life) returns to the pages of the Inkheart book from whence he came, and Meggie gets magically-and literally-caught inside the story, too."
16 sound discs (ca. 18 hr., 50 min.)

Posted by Emily at 10:32 PM | Comments (0)

January 07, 2006

Dreams and Fractals

2 books from this week:

dreamlittledream.jpgDream A Little Dream : A Tale of Myth And Moonshine by Piers Anthony & Julie Brady.
S has been listening to Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series (I read a bunch of Xanth ones from Meag's bookshelf in high school) and stumbled across this one. I wasn't blown away, but its an enjoyable quick fantasy read with interesting ideas about what happens to our dreams when we stop believing in them.

fractalmurders04.jpgThe Fractal Murders by Mark Cohen
I think Mom sent this one ages and ages ago but it sank lower in the pile and I just finally picked it up yesterday. Its a quick read with an interesting main character (who is a bit too ex-marine and workout/dog-crazy for my tastes) and some fun math thrown in (check out this great list of math fiction). I was totally into fractals for a bit in high school (thanks to Darin, who probably understood them a whole lot more than I did but I loved the way they looked) which is probably why she had sent it. There's a new one with the same PI out now, but its not math related (the summary says "The second mystery featuring private eye Pepper Keane, a former JAG with a Diet Coke addiction, who becomes the target of an outlaw biker gang.")

Also this weekend we saw the movie Munich, which led to much yelling (in Hebrew unfortunately) among the boys here. Its a disturbing and powerful (and very scary) film that seemed important to have seen.

Posted by Emily at 09:28 PM | Comments (0)

January 02, 2006

My Sister's Keeper

sisters-125.jpgNumber four from the teen top ten is My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult. The summary says, "Conceived to provide a bone marrow match for her leukemia-stricken sister, teenage Kate begins to question her moral obligations in light of countless medical procedures and decides to fight for the right to make decisions about her own body." So I shouldn't have been surprised that this would be an emotional read, but OMG. I really don't know how I would have been able to get through my teenage years if I read books like this then. But it is wonderfully written, the characters are great (and the perspective switches between them for each chapter) and it raises a million issues (no wonder they picked it to be one of the bookclub kits - though I'm not sure my friends would forgive me if I made them all read it and discuss it). So read it... but be ready.

Posted by Emily at 06:59 PM | Comments (1583)

January 01, 2006

2 more vacation books

2 more books finished to add to the pile (I do love long plane rides):

historyglasses.jpgA History Of The World In Six Glasses by Tom Standage, which I had given to Bill for his birthday but borrowed back yesterday. It was interesting, but not as indepth as some of the really good history through particular lenses like that are. I didn't realize how involved the British gov had been in keeping the opium trade alive to keep the tea supply going, and there were fun overlaps in the coffee house descriptions to Neil Stephenson's great book, but otherwise it was just an ok, quick read. It does make me want to add some more good non-fiction to my to-read pile though.

timetorun.jpgAnd Mom passed along A Time to Run by Barbara Boxer and Mary-Rose Hayes, which was a really fun political tale that I didn't want to put down. Here's the official summary: "The novel follows Ellen Fines from her days as a college student through romantic entanglements and a difficult marriage to a rising political star. When her husband is killed in a car accident during his campaign for the Senate, Ellen assumes his candidacy and achieves an upset victory over a political machine. On the eve of a crucial vote, past and public worlds collide when Ellen's former lover, now a journalist with strong right-wing connections, gives her sensitive documents that could either make or break her career."

Posted by Emily at 11:33 AM | Comments (1)

December 31, 2005

Inside Job

I always feel so cool when I've read the books that get featured as cartoons in Unshelved. Of course, I forgot to blog this one, which I read right before we left on vacation, but since it's technically tomorrow's comic, I still feel pretty on top of things.

insidejob.jpgInside Job
Connie Willis (one of my all time favorite writers, ever since I read Bellwether ages ago)
A quick read, but fun if you're into debunking mystics and channelling Mencken. I was so excited to see that there was a new Connie Willis that I was bound to enjoy it.

Posted by Emily at 11:44 PM | Comments (0)

December 30, 2005

Vacation Book Update

On the plane I read Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares (another of the teen top ten) and it is just as good as the first two but luckily didn't make me cry like #2 did (since that's awkward on long plane trips).

Next up was a birthday/new-librarian gift from Margaret and Alan, The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester, a very engrossing tale of the creation of the OED, a great read for anyone who cares about words or just loves stories of crazy little-known historical people who were obsessed with words.

Then a quick one, a birthday present from Mom, The House of Paper by Carlos Maria Dominguez, Peter Sis (Illustrator), Nick Caistor (Translator). Interesting tale of a man obsessed with books to the point that he builds a house of them, but more Literary (with the capital L) than I usually read, especially on the beach.

I then I finally read Julie and Julia : 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell (which had a long line of holds for it at the library) and LOVED LOVED LOVED it. After the first chapter I was going around the house telling everyone else they would have to read it. Karen expressed some concern since she doesn't cook -- but few can cook less than I do and I still absolutely loved it. Its more about Julie and her life and turning 30 and figuring out what you're doing in life and all... and of course it is all about cooking terrible sounding things like brains and kidneys and killing lobsters but it is hysterically funny and I couldn't put it down. Of course there's that pang of self loathing that other people can come up with an idea, blog about it, and become famous and published for it, but I won't hold it against her because the book really is wonderful and if anyone deserves a better apartment and kitchen and job sitting around writing in her pj's it is this woman and her very patient husband.

Posted by Emily at 05:22 PM | Comments (0)

December 24, 2005

The Truth About Forever

Again, having vacation time really rocks. There's nothing I like more than spending hours in bed finishing more good books. I have to say though, the weather today has been utterly amazing (sorry to those of you knee deep in snow, but after a couple days of yucky rain here, today was just picture perfect) so I did get out of the house and walked to the library for more books this morning and then later this afternoon walked over to our main downtown street for some more yarn.

forever.jpgThe Truth About Forever
by Sarah Dessen
Another of the well deserved teen top ten (yay, I'm half way through the list!). It had a lot of similarities to Someone Like You, which I had also enjoyed. I love these teen books where the main character finds a way to break out of the expectations of everyone around her and meets awesome new friends who help her to really be herself.

Here are the official summaries:

"The summer following her father's death, Macy plans to work at the library and wait for her brainy boyfriend to return from camp, but instead she goes to work at a catering business where she makes new friends and finally faces her grief."

"Although Macy has her whole summer planned out, situations arise that she does not expect, especially her encounter with Wes, a tattooed artist, who makes her feel surprisingly at ease and with whom she feels she can let down her guard."

Ages 12+

Posted by Emily at 04:29 PM | Comments (2218)

December 23, 2005

Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie

newest_Drums_cover.jpgAnother really awesome YA book, Drums Girls & Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick. Its was one of the teen top ten (I've now read or listened to 4 of them). Steven Alper, 8th grade drummer, has his world turned upside down when his 5 year old brother is diagnosed with cancer. Its heartbreaking to read, of course, but the character is great and his voice is fresh and funny and its a great, quick read.

Posted by Emily at 11:28 AM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2005

Goodnight Nobody, The Typhoon Lover

I got so much reading and knitting done this week that I feel like I'm on vacation already! 2 very enjoyable books to add to the list:

goodnightnobody.jpgGoodnight Nobody
by Jennifer Weiner, one of my favorite chick-lit authors and wife of a guy I knew from College Dems
This one's a murder mystery with the main character a frazzled suburban mother of three with the requisite v. cool best friend.

typhoonlover.jpgThe Typhoon Lover
by Sujata Massey
This is one of Lisa and my favorite series, and I thought this one was way better than the last, especially because Rei gets to go back to Japan where the stories always flow better... and the ending makes it sound like next ones will be very interesting as well...

mmm.... excellent reading... what to pick next?

Posted by Emily at 07:09 PM | Comments (2292)

December 19, 2005

Wizards and Pirates

2 more great audio books from the commute:

wanttobeaw.jpgSo You Want to Be a Wizard: The First Book in the Young Wizards Series by Diane Duane, Narrated by Christina Moore.
Ages 10 & up
"Thirteen-year-old Nita, tormented by a gang of bullies because she won't fight back, finds the help she needs in a library book on wizardry which guides her into another dimension."
A fun magical read, great NY scenes.

pirates.jpgPirates! : the true and remarkable adventures of Minerva Sharpe and Nancy Kington, female pirates by Celia Rees, Read by Jennifer Wiltsie.
"In 1722, after arriving with her brother at the family's Jamaican plantation where she is to be married off, sixteen-year-old Nancy Kington escapes with her slave friend, Minerva Sharpe, and together they become pirates traveling the world in search of treasure."
Grade 6-9
A fantastic YA pirate adventure with great girl characters. Another one of those CDs that makes you not want to get out of the car.

Posted by Emily at 07:49 AM | Comments (98)

December 15, 2005

Fat Kid Rules the World

fatkid.jpgThe new YA librarian at MH recommended this one, and it definitely now ranks among my favorite YA books.

Fat Kid Rules the World by K. L. Going

The unlikely friendship between Troy Billings, a 296-pound 17-year-old, and Curt MacCrae, an emaciated homeless legendary punk-rock guitarist high-school drop out.

Its a fast read that pulls you along to a punk rock sound track.

Good readalike to Joyce Carol Oates's Big Mouth & Ugly Girl

Grade 8+
A Michael L. Printz Honor Book; chosen by YALSA as one of the Best Books for Young Adults from the past decade.
trivia questions

Posted by Emily at 01:15 PM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2005

Souls in the Great Machine

One of my work colleagues recommended this series to me, and I'm completely hooked (the second one is waiting for me on my desk at work, since that's the one she lent to me with the advice that I read the first in the series first, which luckily they had in at the library.)

booksouls.gifSouls in the Great Machine
by Sean McMullen
(Book 1: Greatwinter) (Tor, 1999)

Set far in a future (40th-century Australia) where librarians pretty much rule the world and all walk around armed and fight duels to settle disputes, the story follows the Highliber of Libris - aka head librarian - Cymbeline Zavora - and other characters as they create a giant "Calculor" (a giant calculating machine powered by nameless human components with abacuses who remain imprisoned within its workings), fights wars, chase after lost loves, and communicate with ancient technologies left over from a more technological age.

Its a bit crazy but the world is compelling (oh right, cool librarian characters) and very interesting technology questions to ponder. A very satisfying read.

Posted by Emily at 07:35 PM | Comments (1)

December 08, 2005

The Romance of Libraries

The Romance of Libraries is out. I'm ordering a copy to give to Margaret and Alan (since they met working at the library) :)

Posted by Emily at 11:59 AM | Comments (0)

December 07, 2005

Vampires, Werewolves and Eve

2 books from the weekend away (nothing like a long plane ride, even though I slept the entire first leg and forgot to bring a spare for the final flight)

thegarden.jpgThe Garden by Elsie V. Aidinoff.
This was on the teen top ten list and was fantastic! Its a retelling of the Garden of Eden story from Eve's point of view. Grade 11 Up. (and the author was Smith '53))

gilsallfright.jpgI don't remember where I heard about Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez, but the review mentioned something about people who liked Hitchhiker's Guide liking it, so I of course put it on my list. The main characters are Earl the vampire and Duke the werewolves who end up stopping off for a bite to eat at a diner and staying to help the owner get rid of a zombie problem and stop a local teenager from ending the world. Its funny and a quick read.

Posted by Emily at 06:45 PM | Comments (0)

December 01, 2005

Teen Idol

teen-jacket.gifIn my effort to get through as many of the teen top ten books as I can, I finished listening to Teen Idol by Meg Cabot in the car on the way to work this morning. Its narrated by Elisabeth Moss (aka Zoey Bartlet on West Wing) who was fantastic. I have to say I loved it! I didn't want to get out of the car (and Amytha caught me sitting outside her apartment for a few extra minutes yesterday before going in to get her because I just wanted to listen to a little more). I haven't read any Meg Cabot before, but she's hugely popular at the libraries and I always meant to...

Posted by Emily at 09:37 AM | Comments (1342)

November 30, 2005

The Historian

historian.jpgJust finished The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, a hefty 642 page historical vampire adventure best-seller that I've been meaning to get to for a while (but patiently waited until my turn on the hold line since it wasn't like I didn't have enough other stuff on my to-read pile). I admit I was mostly drawn to it by mentions of vampire librarians... and wasn't disappointed. Its like a history version of the DaVinci code, the main characters rushing around Europe (mostly Eastern) chasing historical leads and documents to track down Dracula's tomb, which a great deal of Ottoman Empire history thrown in. Mostly told in letters, the action zips around between past and present and draws you right up to the last page... Excellent book! (though I'm glad I finished it before our trip, since it would be a heavy one to bring along, and I wouldn't have been able to leave it unfinished at home!)

Posted by Emily at 08:35 PM | Comments (1)

November 29, 2005

Berenstain Bears

Stan Berenstain, Co-Creator of Those Fuzzy Bears, Dies at 82

Stan Berenstain, who with his wife, Jan, churned out more than 250 books showing how the warm and fuzzy Berenstain Bears - Mama, Papa, Brother and Sister - confronted and learned from life's little crises, died on Saturday in Doylestown, Pa. He was 82.

Official Berenstain Bears web site
Random House page
books in our library
Activities for kids

[posted to library blog as well!]

Posted by Emily at 07:45 PM | Comments (0)

November 27, 2005

Listening to...

A lot of driving in the last week, so here are the books on CD I've been listening to:

hoot.jpgHoot by Carl Hiaasen, narrated by Chad Lowe. This would be a great read-alike with Tangerine, both feature middle school boys in Florida. In Hoot, Roy and his friends work to save a colony of burrowing owls from certain disaster in the form of a new pancake restaurant planning to bulldoze their holes. Grade 5-8.

outcasts19The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place by E.L. Konignburg, author of one of my favorite books of all time, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Narrated by Molly Ringwald. This book has been sitting on my pile for ages too, so I finally checked out the CD to listen to and of course loved it. It's a good match to Hoot, another kid taking on the system and stopping something (this time art rather than animal) from getting destroyed in the name of redevelopment and property values. Grade 6-9.

lovelybones.jpgand, since we had a 7 hour drive down to Joshua Tree, we listened to
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. I was tempted to read the book when everyone was raving about it, but knowing that the story is told from the perpective a 14 year old brutally raped and murdered watching her family coping with the loss, I could never bring myself to pick it up. But I finally did and it was well worth it. I felt it was a bit long, but really liked it and it definitely made the drive go quickly.

On the way back home we listened to Four to Score by Janet Evanovich, a mystery starring New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum. Mysteries are great for long car rides since you usually want to get to the ending, but I don't think this is a character I'd go back for more of.

Posted by Emily at 10:07 AM | Comments (12)

November 23, 2005

NY Times Notable Books

Yum, another book list.

Holiday Books: 100 Notable Books of the Year. This list will run in the Dec. 4 print edition of the Book Review. On Dec. 11, a selection of the 10 Best Books of 2005 will be printed.

Ok, so the only one I've read of the 100 seems to be Harry Potter #6.

Posted by Emily at 09:40 AM | Comments (0)

November 18, 2005

How to draw...

I'm weeding 970s today and kept coming across this great series of books that I thought I'd share:

A Kid's Guide to Drawing America
(You can see a few pages -- but none of the drawings at google books)

Posted by Emily at 01:48 PM | Comments (0)

Mid-November Book Update

Eek, more than mid-way through the month already and no reading update posts. Here's an attempt to remember what I've been reading and listening to lately...

Listened to:

neverwar.jpgThe third in the Pendragon Series, The Never War, where he goes to "First Earth" and tries to figure out if he should save the Hindenburg or if that will cause worse things to happen. I'll have to read The Reality Bug and Black Water now (though the library doesn't have the talking book versions, and the library I'm working at tonight doesn't have either of the books in). There's a sixth, The Rivers of Zadaa, which we don't seem to have at all yet.

seaoftrolls.jpgNancy Farmer's fantastic Sea of Trolls

now listening to Hoot, which I had been meaning to read for ages


Witch Way to Murder : An Ophelia and Abby Mystery, since it was about a psychic librarian.

ordinaryheroes.jpgScott Turow's new book, Ordinary Heroes, which Mom had sent me. I have to say that I never would have picked it up if it wasn't by Scott, but that I definitely got into it and enjoyed it. WWII battle epics aren't my thing, but I did want to find out what had happened to the character (though I had assumed the "twist" from the start so wasn't all that surprised)

Interestly, one of the main plot points at the end was the same as at the end of the Pendragon book, keeping the nuclear bomb out of Nazi hands.

Now finally reading The Historian.

Posted by Emily at 11:04 AM | Comments (0)

November 15, 2005

Happy Children's Book Week

It's Children's Book Week again!

A celebration of the written word, Children's Book Week introduces young people to new authors and ideas in schools, libraries, homes and bookstores. Through Children's Book Week, the Children's Book Council encourages young people and their caregivers to discover the complexity of the world beyond their own experience through books. Children's Book Week will be observed November 14-20, 2005.

Click the cool book:

Posted by Emily at 07:44 AM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2005

YALSA Question

How cool is it that someone just posted this question to the YALSA list:

I have a student who would like more books like "People of Sparks" and "City of Ember." What can you suggest?

I'll need to pull the page from the appendix of my culminating paper that is a list of related titles (since I wrote one of my papers on Jeanne DuPrau, author of those books. I've read about 6 dystopia books in the last few weeks for the list and have three or four more still waiting in a pile in the front hall.

Update: Here's the compiled list the YALSA folks made:


"The Giver" By Lois Lowry

"City of Light, City of Dark" by Avi (a graphic novel).

"Wind Singer" trilogy written by Will iam Nicholson (he wrote the screenplay
for The Gladiator).

Memory Boy by Will Weaver

The Giver, Gathering Blue and The Messenger by Lois Lowry

Gregor the Overlander and it's 2 sequels

The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick

Among the Hidden, by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Shade's Children by Nix

Dirt Eaters by Foon

The Fire-Us Trilogy by Armstrong

I Am the Cheese (Cormier).

Holes (Sachar) also has that otherworldly feel to it that makes Sparks/Ember
so appealing.

Another good future-society books is Nancy Farmers The Ear, The Eye, and the
Arm, which takes place in Zimbabwee in the future.

The following comes from Cathy:

After this came out and we received numerous requests for similar titles, I
put together these two lists of books entitled "Other Worlds".

Cathy Pridham


Stories About Life in
Imaginary Communities


Anderson, M. T. Feed.

In a future where most people have computer implants in their heads to
control their environment, a boy meets an unusual girl who is in serious

Barker, Clive. Abarat.

Candy Quackenbush of Chickentown, Minnesota, one day finds herself on the
edge of a foreign world that is populated by strange creatures, and her life
is forever changed.

Calhoun, Dia. Firegold.
Thirteen-year-old Jonathon, feared and hated by the brown-eyed Valley people
because of his blue eyes, tries to find answers to his true identity in the
Red Mountains, home of the Dalriada, a mountain people with mystical powers
and blue eyes like his.

Carmody, Isobelle. Night Gate. [J FIC]
Seeking a cure for her sick mother, Courage "Rage" Winnoway and her dogs
pass through a magical gateway to a strange land known as Valley where they
must find, before the sand in an enchanted hourglass runs out, the powerful
wizard. The Gateway Trilogy ; bk. 1.

Clement-Davies, David. The Fire Bringer.
In a Scotland beset by Norse invaders, a tyrannical lord of the deer herd
has ended old ways. Sequel: The Sight.

Dickinson, Peter. The Ropemaker.
When the magic that protects their Valley starts to fail, Tilja and her
companions journey into the evil Empire to find the ancient magician Faheel,
who originally cast those spells.

Dickinson, Peter. The Tears of the Salamander.

When Alfredo, a twelve-year-old choir boy in eighteenth-century Italy, loses
his family in a fire, he goes to live with Uncle Giorgio, who he discovers
is a sorcerer in control of the fires of Mt. Etna with sinister plans for
his nephew.

Downer, Ann. Hatching Magic. [J FIC]

When a thirteenth-century wizard confronts twenty-first century Boston while
seeking his pet dragon, he is followed by a rival wizard and a very unhappy
demon, but eleven-year-old Theodora Oglethorpe may hold the secret to
setting everything right.

DuPrau, Jeanne. The City of Ember. [J FIC]

In the year 241, twelve-year-old Lina trades jobs on Assignment Day to be a
Messenger to run to new places in her decaying but beloved city, perhaps
even to glimpse Unknown Regions. Sequel: The people of Sparks.

Ende, Michael. The Neverending Story [YA PBK FIC]

Bastian Balthazar Bux isn't very good at defending himself against bullies.
In fact, he isn't very good at much of anything. So, when the bullies from
school come after him one morning all he can do is run. Maybe it's luck
that he chooses to hide in the bookstore on the corner or maybe it's
something more. Whatever it might have been, his unplanned detour starts
him on adventure unlike any he could have ever imagined.

Farmer, Nancy. The House of the Scorpion.

In a future where humans despise clones, Matt enjoys special status as the
young clone of El Patron, the 142-year-old leader of a corrupt drug empire
nestled between Mexico and the United States.

Hautman, Pete. Hole in the Sky.

In a future world ravaged by a mutant virus, sixteen-year-old Ceej and three
other teenagers seek to save the Grand Canyon from being flooded, while
trying to avoid capture by a band of renegade Survivors.

Jones, Diana Wynne. A Tale of Time City. [J PBK FIC]

In 1939 an eleven-year-old London girl is kidnapped to Time City, a place
existing outside the stream of time and manipulating the history of
humanity, where she finds the inhabitants facing their worst hour of crisis.

Kay, Elizabeth. The Divide. [J FIC]

While hiking on the Continental Divide of Costa Rica, a young boy with a
heart condition falls into a magical otherworld full of fantastical

Lamensdorf, Leonard. The Crouching Dragon.

In 1959, French teens create a half-fantasy kingdom in an abandoned castle,
uncovering modern and medieval arms and armor and withstanding siege from
their parents and a criminal cartel, with an assist from President de

L'Engle, Madeleine. A Wrinkle in Time.

"A tesseract (in case the reader doesn't know) is a wrinkle in time...The
story of the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and
Calvin O'Keefe (athlete, student, and one of the most popular boys in high
school). They are in search of Meg's father, a scientist who disappeared
while engaged in secret work for the government on the tesseract problem."

Lowry, Lois. The Giver.

Given his lifetime assignment at the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas becomes the
receiver of memories shared by only one other in his community and discovers
the terrible truth about the society in which he lives.

MacHale, D.J. The Merchant of Death. [YA PBK] [Pendragon Bk 1]

Fourteen-year-old Bobby Pendragon, having learned he is a Traveler--someone
who can ride "flumes" through time and space, is soon off to the alternative
dimension of Denduron where he teams up with Loor, a girl his age from the
warrior-territory of Zadaa, in an attempt to save the gentle Milago people
from slavery.

Marsden, John. Tomorrow, When the War Began.

Seven Australian teenagers return from a camping trip in the bush to
discover that their country has been invaded and they must hide to stay

McCaffrey, Anne. Dragonsong.

Forbidden by her father to indulge in music, a girl on the planet Pern runs
away, taking shelter with the planet's fire lizards who, along with her
music, open a new life for her.

Nix, Garth. Lirael, Daughter of the Clayr.

When a dangerous necromancer threatens to unleash a long-buried evil, Lirael
and Prince Sameth are drawn into a battle to save the Old Kingdom and reveal
their true destinies.

Paolini, Christopher. Eragon. [First in the trilogy]

In Alagaesia, a fifteen-year-old boy of unknown lineage called Eragon finds
a mysterious stone that weaves his life into an intricate tapestry of
destiny, magic, and power, peopled with dragons, elves, and monsters.

Pattou, Edith. Hero's Song.

On a quest to rescue his kidnapped sister, Collun discovers that he is a key
figure in the struggle to save the kingdom of Eirren from conquest by Medb,
the Queen of Ghosts.

Pierce, Tamora. Sandry's Book. [First of four]

Four young misfits find themselves living in a strictly disciplined temple
community where they become friends while also learning to do crafts and to
use their powers, especially magic.

Rapp, Adam. The Copper Elephant.

In a world where children under twelve are used as slave labor in
subterranean lime mines, eleven-year-old Whensday Bluehouse struggles to
survive the continuous poison rains and evade the ruthless Syndicate

Russell, Barbara T. The Taker's Stone.

When fourteen-year-old Fischer accidentally uses a magic stone to summon
Thistle, one of its Keepers and an agent of the Light, he must help her
fight the evil Belial, who seeks to rule the world with cruel Darkness.

Shusterman, Neal. Full Tilt : A Novel.

When sixteen-year-old Blake goes to a mysterious, by-invitation-only
carnival he somehow knows that it could save his comatose brother, but soon
learns that much more is at stake if he fails to meet the challenge
presented there by the beautiful Cassandra.

Stevenson, Laura Caroline. The Island and the Ring.

After treachery destroys her kingdom, Princess Tania discovers that it is
her destiny to confront Ascanet, the ruthless lord enslaving the island of

Stroud, Jonathan. The Amulet of Samarkand. #1 in the Trilogy

Nathaniel, a magician's apprentice, summons up the djinni Bartimaeus and
instructs him to steal the Amulet of Samarkand from the powerful magician
Simon Lovelace.

Weaver, Will. Memory Boy.

Sixteen-year-old Miles and his family must flee their Minneapolis home and
begin a new life in the wilderness after a chain of cataclysmic volcanic
explosions creates dangerous conditions in their city.


Stories About Life in
Imaginary Communities

GRADES 3 - 6

Avi. Perloo the Bold.

Perloo, a peaceful scholar who has been chosen to succeed Jolaine as leader
of the furry underground people called the Montmers, finds himself in danger
when Jolaine dies and her evil son seizes control of the burrow.

Babbitt, Natalie. The Devil's Other Storybook : Stories and Pictures.

The further exploits of the Devil in his own realm and in the world above
are recounted in ten more tales.

Billingsley, Franny. The Folk Keeper.

Orphan Corinna disguises herself as a boy to pose as a Folk Keeper, one who
keeps the Evil Folk at bay, and discovers her heritage as a seal maiden when
she is taken to live with a

wealthy family in their manor by the sea.

Chabon, Michael. Summerland.

Ethan Feld, the worst baseball player in the history of the game, finds
himself recruited by a 100-year-old scout to help a band of fairies triumph
over an ancient enemy.

Christopher, John. The Prince in Waiting.

Thirteen-year-old Luke has no reason to suspect that anything will ever
change in the primitive society of the future in which he lives.

Collins, Suzanne. Gregor the Overlander.

When eleven-year-old Gregor and his two-year-old sister are pulled into a
strange underground world, they trigger an epic battle involving men, bats,
rats, cockroaches, and spiders while on a quest foretold by ancient

Coville, Bruce. The Song of the Wanderer.

[Sequel to Into the Land of Unicorns]

Having jumped into Luster, the land of unicorns, Cara makes a perilous
journey to bring back her grandmother, The Wanderer, in order to release the
Queen of the unicorns and allow her to die.

Dixon, Rachel Taft. The Witch's Ring.

A curious boy named Bottle uses his computer to help Amy Settle find her way
home after a magical ring transports her to the home of an evil witch.

DuPrau, Jeanne. The City of Ember.

In the year 241, twelve-year-old Lina trades jobs on Assignment Day to be a
Messenger to run to new places in her decaying but beloved city, perhaps
even to glimpse Unknown Regions.

Ende, Michael. The Neverending Story

Bastian Balthazar Bux isn't very good at defending himself against bullies.
In fact, he isn't very good at much of anything. So, when the bullies from
school come after him one morning all he can do is run. Maybe it's luck
that he chooses to hide in the bookstore on the corner or maybe it's
something more. Whatever it might have been, his unplanned detour starts
him on adventure unlike any he could have ever imagined.

Funke, Cornelia Caroline. Inkheart.

Twelve-year-old Meggie learns that her father, who repairs and binds books
for a living, can "read" fictional characters to life when one of those
characters abducts them and tries to

force him into service.

Gaiman, Neil. Coraline.

Looking for excitement, Coraline ventures through a mysterious door into a
world that is similar, yet disturbingly different from her own, where she
must challenge a gruesome entity in order to save herself, her parents, and
the souls of three others.

Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Among the Hidden. [First in the series]

In a future where the Population Police enforce the law limiting a family to
only two children, Luke has lived all his twelve years in isolation and fear
on his family's farm, until another "third" convinces him that the
government is wrong.

Haptie, Charlotte. Otto and the Flying Twins.

Young Otto comes to the rescue when he discovers that his family and city
are the last remnants of an ancient magical world now under threat from the
Normal Police.

Ibbotson, Eva. The Secret of Platform 13.

Odge Gribble, a young hag, accompanies an old wizard, a gentle fey, and a
giant ogre on their mission through a magical tunnel from their Island to
London to rescue their King and Queen's son who had been stolen as an

Jarvis, Robin. The Dark Portal. [First in the Deptford Mice Trilogy]

While on a rescue mission, a few daring mice journey below to the sewers to
an evil world populated by rats who peel mice before eating them and worship
the Dark Lord.

Langrish, Katherine. Troll Fell.

Forced to live with his evil identical-twin uncles after his father's death,
twelve-year-old Peer tries to find a way to stop their plan to sell the
neighbor's children to the trolls.

Lisle, Janet Taylor. Forest.

Twelve-year-old Amber's invasion of an organized forest community of
squirrels starts a war between humans and beasts, despite the protests of an
unconventional and imaginative squirrel named Woodbine.

Lowry, Lois. The Giver.

Given his lifetime assignment at the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas becomes the
receiver of memories shared by only one other in his community and discovers
the terrible truth about the society in which he lives.

Lowry, Lois. Messenger. Lois Lowry ushers readers into a hypnotic,
disconcerting fantasy world introducing us to young Matty, a boy whose role
for Village is more profound than he thinks. This episode follows Matty --
who lives with Seer and doesn't yet have his true name -- as he keeps busy
running errands through Forest and otherwise lives a youthful, carefree

McGraw, Eloise Jarvis. The Moorchild.

Feeling that she is neither fully human nor "Folk," a changeling learns her
true identity and attempts to find the human child whose place she had been

Molloy, Michael. The Witch Trade.

A boy and girl encounter hidden caves, fabulous boats, and captive children
as they join forces with powerful new friends on a quest for Ice Dust, the
source of magical power for good witches.

Napoli, Donna Jo. The Prince of the Pond : Otherwise Known as De Fawg

Having been turned into a frog by a hag, a frog-prince makes the best of his
new life as he mates, raises a family, and instills a new kind of thinking
into his frog family.

Nicholson, William. The Wind Singer : An Adventure.

After Kestrel Hath rebels against the stifling rules of Amaranth society and
is forced to flee, she, along with her twin brother and a tagalong
classmate, follow an ancient map in quest of the legendary silver voice of
the wind singer, in an attempt to heal Amaranth and its people.

[First in a series of three]

Oppel, Kenneth. Firewing. [Sequel to Sunwing.]

Griffin, a young bat, is sucked into the "Underworld," and his father
follows to rescue him.

Prue, Sally. Cold Tom : A Novel.

Struggling to find a place for himself, Tom flees the elven parents who hunt
to kill him and becomes involved with human "demons" in the nearby city.

Rodda, Emily. The Timekeeper.

Patrick and his sister and brother are drawn into the desperate efforts to
repair the Barrier between two parallel worlds before it is destroyed.

Said, S. F. Varjak Paw.

Guided by the spirit of his legendary Mesopotamian ancestor, Jalal, Varjak
Paw, a pure-bred cat, leaves his home and pampered existence and sets out to
save his family from the evil Gentleman who took their owner, the Contessa,

Scott, Deborah. The Kid Who Got Zapped Through Time.

When Flattop Kincaid buys a used video game at a flea market, he finds
himself in the Middle Ages among peasants who think he is a deranged member
of the nobility.

Snyder, Zilpha Keatley. The Unseen.

Feeling angry and out-of-place in her large family, twelve-year-old Xandra
finds a magical key to a world of ghostly, sometimes frightening, phantoms
that help her see herself and her

siblings more clearly.

Stewart, Paul. Beyond the Deepwoods.

Thirteen-year-old Twig, having always looked and felt different from his
woodtroll family, learns that he is adopted and travels out of his Deepwoods
home to find the place where he


Tate, Eleanora E. The Monsters of Morley Manor. [J FIC HISTORY]

Anthony and his younger sister discover that the monster figures he got in
an unusual box at an estate sale are alive, but they have no way of knowing
that the "monsters" will lead them on fantastical adventures to other worlds
in an effort to try to save Earth.

Townley, Rod. The Great Good Thing : A Novel. [First in the series]

Nothing ever changes inside the storybook kingdom inhabited by
twelve-year-old Princess Sylvie, her parents, and many other characters
until Sylvie discovers that by allying herself with the Reader she can
experience new adventures beyond the confines of the book.

Yolen, Jane. Boots and the Seven Leaguers : A Rock-and-Troll Novel.

Teen troll Gog and his best friend Pook work as roadies for a troll rock and
roll band until Gog's younger brother gets kidnapped.

Yolen, Jane. Hippolyta and the Curse of the Amazons.

Thirteen-year-old Hippolyta, a princess of the Amazons, fights to save her
people from destruction when her mother the Queen refuses to sacrifice her
second-born male child.

Posted by Emily at 11:08 AM | Comments (0)

November 08, 2005

Teen Top Ten

Teens vote for favorite young adult book

here's what they picked:

1. Girls In Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2005).
2. The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen (Viking, 2004).
3. Looking For Alaska by John Green (Dutton, 2005).
4. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult (Atria Books, 2004). [also available as a book club kit]
5. Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick (Scholastic Press, 2004).
6. Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2005).
7. The Gangsta Rap by Benjamin Zephaniah (Bloomsbury, 2004) -- the library doesn't seem to have this one... 2 others by the author though.
8. Teen Idol by Meg Cabot (HarperCollins, 2004).
9. The Garden by Elise Aidinoff (Harper Tempest, 2004). [sounds intriguing -- "Retells the tale of the Garden of Eden from Eve's point of view"]
10. How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship & Musical Theater byMarc Acito (Broadway Books, 2004).

Eek, I've only read one so far (#3). Looks like some good ones to add to my to-do pile [a few clicks later and they're all on their way to being on hold for me... so nice]. (#1 is already waiting in my pile at home somewhere)

(via Pop Goes the Library)

Posted by Emily at 12:32 PM | Comments (43)

November 06, 2005

Congrats to Dan

0-9648759-3-4.jpgCongrats to Dan Woog on the publication and success of his new book, Staples High School: 120 Years of A+ Education, a history of the hs I went to. Mom mailed me a copy, which should arrive tomorrow (apparently they sold out of the 300 they ordered for the reception today!) Here's Dan's remarks from that reception, including a thank you to Mom.

Posted by Emily at 09:26 PM | Comments (0)

November 03, 2005

Friends, Lovers, Chocolate

friendsloverschocolate.jpgMom sent me Friends, Lovers, Chocolate, the second in Alexander Mccall Smith 's Sunday Philosophy Club series about Isabel Dalhousie (it arrived the same day that I got to the top of the library's waiting list for the book so I let it go to the next person in line). I polished it off before work last night (sneaking in the last chapter during my break) Its a heavier read than his No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series -- more literary allusions and philosophical ponderings -- but very good. The title is fantastic as well ;)

The author is touring and speaking in our area on Sun, Nov 6 (Fox Theatre, Redwood City, 7:00 PM) but I'm already booked up.

Posted by Emily at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)

October 30, 2005

October Book Roundup

Some of the books I've been reading:

Blue Girl by Charles De Lint
A great YA novel that mixes YA angst with fairies and ghosts. I haven't read any Charles De Lint since Katy recommended The Little Country back in HS, but I remember really liking that one.

And listening to:

The Tale of Despereaux [CD]
Been meaning to get to this one for ages, but wasn't blown away. I got into it by the end, and I know kids love it. There was a great Unshelved about it recently.

Feed by M.T. Anderson [CD]
Lots of talk about this one in my YA resources class and I finally got around to listening to it.

The Merchant of Death (Pendragon Series #1) [CD]
The Lost City of Faar (Pendragon Series #2) [CD]
by D.J. MacHale
I love these -- I don't think I would have picked it up based on the cover of the book, but the CDs have been great fun and I have the third one waiting next.

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig [CD]
One of the librarians I work with was talking about this one, so I put it on hold. Its a bit of chick-lit and a great historic novel about spies in France. There are some steamy scenes that were a bit much for morning rush hour [blush] but a great story with great characters.

And to read a few things related to The City of Ember (which I wrote one of my culminating papers on):

Gregor The Overlander and Gregor The Overlander And The Prophecy Of Bane (Underland Chronicles) and by Suzanne Collins

The Giver and Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick

There may have been some others, but I've been terrible about keeping track the last few weeks, and the kids ones go so fast. But now that school's over, I can tackle some of the huge pile of books on the to-read pile!

Posted by Emily at 09:56 PM | Comments (0)

October 20, 2005

Time's List

Another list of top books, Time's All-Time 100 Novels. I was excited to see a good mix of one's we covered in high school English classes and other favs (Snow Crash!!!)

I've only read 23 of the 100 so far, but will definitely keep this list around for ideas!

Posted by Emily at 08:40 PM | Comments (0)

October 16, 2005

I'm definitely ordering this one

We came across this one on the search for mysteries today. Our library didn't have it so I'm definitely ordering a copy for myself via amazon. Seems like a good one for Halloween :)

Witch Way to Murder : An Ophelia and Abby Mystery
by Shirley Damsgaard

Ophelia Jensen wishes she was just your typical, thirty-something librarian. Unfortunately, she's been burdened with psychic powers -- an unwanted "gift" she considers inconvenient at best and at worst downright dangerous....

Posted by Emily at 09:40 PM | Comments (0)

October 12, 2005


I'm way behind in my Entertainment Weekly reading, but stumbled across the full page profile of Julie Powell and thought she looked kinda familiar. Reading on, I saw that she went to Amherst a year ahead of me.

I found a mention of her on an old alumni newsgram here:

Julie Rosenstein ’95 (neé Powell) in August made national news with a rare culinary accomplishment: In 365 days, she cooked all 536 recipes in Julia Child’s 1961 classic, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. (The final menu, completed August 25: Rognons de Veau a la Bordelaise; green beans; and sauteed potatoes on a plate decorated with mayonnaise collee. Dessert was Reine de Saba.) Rosen-stein’s immensely popular diary of “The Julie/Julia Project” can be found online at blogs.salon.com/0001399.

and of course now there's tons of coverage in places like USA Today and Newsweek.

Jacket.jpgThere's quite a long waiting list for it at the library. (which I'll go add myself to)

Julie and Julia : 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen : how one girl risked her marriage, her job and her sanity to master the art of living / Julie Powell

Posted by Emily at 04:31 PM | Comments (81)

October 05, 2005

Brian's Chapter

crossingtheriver.gifBrian wrote to point out that one of his essays got picked up by an editor for a real live book! He's chapter 15: What Happened

Crossing the River: The Coming of Age of the Internet in Politics and Advocacy by Karen A.B. Jagoda (Xlibris 2005)

Way to go B!

Posted by Emily at 08:14 PM | Comments (0)

October 04, 2005

Teen Top Ten

Teen Read Week is coming up (Oct 16-22) and so I was checking out the nominations for the 2005 Teens’ Top Ten Books. Sadly, I've only read 4 of the 78 nominated so far:

Necklace of Kisses
The Year of Secret Assignments
Trickster's Queen
how i live now

I do have two of the others waiting in my to-do pile already:

Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood
Sea of Trolls

looks like I'll have lots of reading to catch up on once school's done!

Posted by Emily at 08:32 PM | Comments (0)

September 26, 2005

Banned Books Week

bbweek.gifIt's Banned Books Week 2005 (September 24–October 1) -- celebrate your freedom to read by reading a book that has been challenged or banned.

Posted by Emily at 09:54 AM | Comments (0)

September 18, 2005

Catching Up on Book Blogging

Here's the last few books (I was reminded how behind I was again by today's Unshelved), about one of the books I read a couple of weeks ago.

Necklace.jpgNecklace of Kisses by Francesca Lia Block
Mom sent this one with a note that I had to drop everything and read it right way, that it was that good. And of course it was. The PW review quotes my favorite line of the original book, explaining that, "Readers who remember Weetzie Bat and My Secret Agent Lover Man's first kiss (a "kiss about apple pie à la mode with the vanilla creaminess melting in the pie heat") from their YA incarnation may be crushed to learn that they've shared no kisses since September 11, 2001. " Weetzie, now 40, takes some time off and checks herself into a magical pink hotel where an assortment of strange people and things come into her life. Booklist wrote, "the celebration of the silly and the magical in a scary, sad world will appeal to all those once-teen fans who remember Weetzie and, just like her, now need a rewrite." I got to the end and cried and wanted to pick it up and read it again (which is just what I did when I read Weetzie Bat the first time).

opaldeception.jpgThe Opal Deception (Artemis Fowl, Book 4) by Eoin Colfer
Artemis is back for more adventures (having to overcome the mind-wipe that ended book 3 in order to be of much use to Holly and Mulch and to save all of Fairy civilaztion from the crazy Opal Koboi who was supposed to be securely imprisioned and in a coma. Great fun as always. Narrated by Nathaniel Parker (I listened to this on the commute).

wishlist.jpgWish List, also by Eoin Colfer
Narrated by James Wilby
Very different from Artemis, but if you liked them you might as well add this to your pile (or at least that's what I thought and did).

The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
Been meaning to read this one forever (recognizing another one of those huge gaps in my fantasy coverage).

Currently I'm reading Possession (which Dad and Jane recommended) and listening to Good Grief in the car. Though really I should be working on my papers and in the car I should be listening to my new Hebrew language CDs. There may be some others I've forgotten about, but I think this catches me up on posting.

Posted by Emily at 03:27 PM | Comments (11)

September 05, 2005

Speak on Tonight

Reminder: speakmovie.jpgThe movie version of Speak, one of the YA books I had read last year is on TV tonight on Lifetime at 9pm (or 6pm). (thanks to Pop Goes the Library's reminder which I had bookmarked in my bloglines feeds)

Update: I just finished watching it and thought it was extremely well done. I was sobbing by the end of it. One of the librarians on one of the YA mailing lists I'm on sent along these related links:

http://tv.zap2it.com/tveditorial/tve_main/1,1002,271%7C97076%7C1%7C,00.html - a great article about the movie with lots of insight from the director.
http://www.sho.com/site/schedules/product_page.do?episodeid=120440&seriesid=0 - trailer included.

Update 2: And if you missed it, they're showing it again on September 13th @ 7pm et/pt

Posted by Emily at 04:00 PM | Comments (2)

A Northern Light

northernlight.jpgJust got home from our trip and finished up the last few chapters of A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly, which is the upcoming selection for the Morgan Hill Library's book club.

Not only was it a fantastic book that I would definitely recommend (and a YA one to boot!), but in the "Sources and Suggestions For Further Reading" in the back, Bill's book is mentioned!

Scheffler, William L., and Frank Carey. Big Moose Lake, New York in Vintage Postcards. Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Tempus Publishing Group, 2000.

It takes place (obviously) at Big Moose Lake in the North Woods (aka the Adirondaks) and the back story involves a famous murder that happened there (apparently one of the only exciting things to ever happen there since there are tons of books using it, most famously An American Tragedy). The main story features 16-year old Mattie Gokey, a poor farm girl and promising writer-to-be, who takes a job at the Glenmore (the hotel where Grace Brown was staying when her drowned body was fished from the lake).

Posted by Emily at 03:41 PM | Comments (0)

September 02, 2005

Keplers Closed

Via Mad Lib., a SJ Merc Article talking about the sudden closure of Kepler's, that wonderful Menlo Park independent bookstore that Auban first took me to where we were living in Mt. View in the summer of '96 or so. I haven't been there for a while (since I keep moving further away from there) but I thought it was a great store and I think it will be missed greatly in the area.

Posted by Emily at 06:30 AM | Comments (0)

August 29, 2005

The City of Ember and The People of Sparks

ember.gifsparksnew-1.jpgSpeaking of great books, I just finished listening to The City of Ember and its sequel, The People of Sparks by Jeanne Duprau and am going to have to add them to my all time favorites list. Its probably best for grades 4-7 and would lead to some really interesting class discussions (lesson plans and quizzes) The audio books, narrated by Wendy Dillon, were superb.

"The city of Ember was built as a last refuge for the human race. Two hundred years later, the great lamps that light the city are beginning to flicker. When Lina finds part of an ancient message, she’s sure it holds a secret that will save the city. She and her friend Doon must decipher the message before the lights go out on Ember forever!"

some booktalks

ALA Notable Children's Book 2004
Best Children's Books of the year 2004; Bank Street College of Education
Capitol Choices, 2004
IRA Children's Literature Choice List, 2004

One of the CE questions is to plan an author visit to your library -- Jeanne Duprau is definitely one that I would consider choosing (plus, she apparently lives nearby!)

I really just want to start over and read it again, but there's a huge pile waiting for me (and as soon as I get my new language CDs in the mail, its back to Hebrew lessons in the car instead of stories for a while)

Posted by Emily at 08:37 PM | Comments (572)

Best of the Best List

via Pop Goes the Library (an excellent source of pop culture and library stuff), YALSA's best books for young adults from the past decade. Sadly, I only score 25 out of the 100 titles -- though I have at least 3 others on my bookshelf waiting for me.

So many books, so little time...

Posted by Emily at 08:25 PM | Comments (0)

August 28, 2005

Captain Underpants!

Captain Underpants (aka the Adult Program Librarian) made a guest appearance today at the library to help celebrate the town-wide picnic happening just outside.


with Jean assisting a bit in the flying part.

Posted by Emily at 08:09 PM | Comments (1)

August 27, 2005

Vending Machines

Via Lady Crumpett, book vending machines in Paris. Ooh, maybe Julia will see some on her trip!

Posted by Emily at 12:27 PM | Comments (0)

August 25, 2005

The Big Over Easy

tbo_usuk.jpgJust finished The Big Over Easy, the new Jasper Fforde that Mom had brought with her when she was visiting. Even without Thursday Next (my personal hero and role model), it was a very satisfying read and I'll definitely looking forward to another installment which is due out next July. Jack Spratt and Mary Mary (yes, the ones you think I mean) investigate the murder of Humpty Dumpty (I kept trying to explain to S that this wasn't one of the children's books I often read)

I like this exchange between Mary and Jack when Mary first joins The Nursery Crime Division

"Do they know?" "Do they know what?" "Do they know they're nursery characters?" "I think sometimes they suspect, but for the most part they have no idea at all. To the Billy Goats, Jack and Jill and the Gingerbreadman, it's all business as normal. Don't worry -- you'll get into the swing of it."
Posted by Emily at 05:11 PM | Comments (0)

August 20, 2005

Yellow Raft and others

A quick roundup of the last few books I've finished:

yellowraftYellow Raft in Blue Water by Michael Dorris
A wonderful three-generation story. Looks like a movie may be on the way. I could see it appealing to YAs.

disappearingactDisappearing Act
by Sid Fleischman
I started listening to this one on CD, but the second CD turned out to be for an entirely different book, so I finished it in book form. I really liked the characters - a brother and sister who escape a crazy stalker and start a new life together in Venice, CA.

awfulendA House Called Awful End
by Philip Ardagh
Kelly recommended this one when I was finishing around for CDs to listen to the other night. It was ok, but Mad Uncle Jack and Even Madder Aunt Maude ran up against my low tolerance for really stupid things. The main character, Eddie Dickens was likable though, and I may go back for the 2nd and 3rd parts to see what becomes of him.

The Kite Rider
by Geraldine McCaughrean
Not to be confused with the Kite Runner, this is a children's story about a Chinese boy strapped to a great big kite.

Posted by Emily at 04:13 PM | Comments (0)

August 16, 2005

Teen Read Article

This article on teen reading has gotten a lot of buzz on the YA mailing lists. It's so sad that they don't mention all the amazing, life-changing really excellent YA books out there!

Posted by Emily at 08:44 AM | Comments (0)

August 04, 2005

Magic and Nancy Drews

Some recent books I've been reading post-HP6:

puredead.jpgPure Dead Magic and Pure Dead Wicked
by Debi Gliori
Ages 10 to 14, Grade 5-8
A fun series that I kept seeing kids check out so I finally took one home -- and then immediately had to read the next one as well. A fun mix of magic and high-tech in the vein of Artemis, but quicker, simpler and funnier I guess. My favorite was when the pet rats end up being sent through the modem. Looks like I'll have to go find Pure Dead Brilliant and Pure Dead Trouble!

Not a Girl Detective : A Cece Caruso Mystery
by Susan Kandel
Mom sent this one and I am definitely going to have to pass it along to BobbiLynn next (aka the biggest Nancy Drew fan I know). I think I'll have to track down the first one, I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason.

And I finally finished my Pimsleur Hebrew lessons in the car, so I'm back to listening to stories there now for a while on the commute.

Posted by Emily at 08:21 AM | Comments (0)

July 19, 2005

Warped Reality

I have been feeling like I was the last person on earth to finish reading H.P., and even feeling bad having scheduled my move for H.P. day. [yes, i know it's only tuesday and that i'm insane] Mom IM that she had finished it Saturday, BobbiLynn blogged about finishing it as did a number of other friends and people whose blogs I read. NPR ran a story about some kids who stayed up all night that first night and finished it. At this point I'm about 100 pages from the end and was reading in the break room before my shift when a couple of people walked by and exclaimed that I was so far along in the book! I was shocked, thinking that surely everyone here at the library would have read it over the weekend (or on Monday at least, when the library is closed for the day).

I fully admit that I live in a warped reality. Yes, Parker, it is just a book. But it is a very good book and I'm looking forward to finishing it tonight. And really, how cool is it that everyone is all excited ABOUT A BOOK! Hurray for reading! But I do now realize that I didn't need to worry about being the last one done.

I liked how one of the girls in the NPR story said that it feels like its your own special world when you're reading it -- and then you look up and realize that everyone else feels like they're in a world all their own too :)

ok, back to weeding viking books

Saved Comments:

Two things:

First, you're not at all the last person to finish reading, because I'm only about 200 pages into it. If that. I REALLY want to finish it before I go to Convention next week though, because I just can't bring myself to lug it along.

Second, you don't live in a warped reality. The girl here lives in a warped reality. Seriously.


(Third, always have three points)
Posted by: Emy at July 19, 2005 09:58 PM

I was *so* happy to find a friend who had finished it by Monday. I have been holding all my comments back until my buddies can discuss this openly.

My brother (why?? why????) read the last 10 pages first. Can you believe that???

Hope you like the book! Would love to discuss when you finish, since I always enjoy your YA fantasty reviews.

Posted by: spinnity at July 20, 2005 04:25 PM

I loved it. I didn't really like the ending, but I think that's because I didn't want it to end, which is probably a good sign. I wish I had reread the one before it right before reading this -- there were a bunch of little things I didn't remember (since, of course, I had read that one the day it came out and rushed through it pretty quickly). There weren't as many small wonders like the candy and things that made the early books so enchanting, but it was definitely a satisfying romp and I find myself daydreaming myself into the book when I'm not paying attention...
Posted by: Emily at July 20, 2005 10:06 PM

I'm glad to hear i'm note the only nutty one ... I STILL haven't finished it because I can only manage a delicious hour a nite but I'm loving it (and this weekend for sure ....)
Posted by: lisa kimball at July 21, 2005 05:17 AM

Just bought it!
Posted by: Carrie at July 21, 2005 02:38 PM

I stumble upon your blog while I was in my English class, suppposed to be doing research for my English Oral, which is due next week.
I finished HP the day I starteded it- when it cam out! Don't worry that you haven't read it all yet though- as long as no one spoils the ending for you- I cried in the end, by the way.
So, that's about all I have to say, except that I'm from AUSTRALIA, and I'm 15! I finish Year 10 on the 25th of November!! And then I have a formal. YAY!! FORMAL!!
And I love Sirius Black!! YUMMY!!
My bets friend Emma- who is sitting next to me- just told me that I am strange! And I am!!!
He he he.
Posted by: Lauren at October 12, 2005 05:47 PM

Posted by Emily at 05:39 PM | Comments (0)

July 14, 2005

Book Roundup

It's been a while since I posted the books I've been reading and listening to. Here's the latest set:

shoponblossom.jpgThe Shop On Blossom Street and A Good Yarn
by Debbie Macomber
Mom sent these along too (thank you!) and I loved them. They are set in a yarn store in Seattle and are about the owner and the women who take her knitting classes and become friends. I passed it along to Emy since she's now a knitting store gal herself.

eternitycode.jpgThe Eternity Code (Artemis Fowl, Book 3)
Ok yes, I skipped book two, but I love this series and will try to go read the remaining two at some point. Its fun that its high tech and fantasy at once -- I'd definitely recommend it to kids (of all ages).

Scarlett Feather
by Maeve Binchy
S picked this one out for our drive down to San Diego (but since it was 17 CDs long, it took me another week to get through it). Irish drama about two friends who start a catering business and the ups and downs of the personal and professional lives. Very slow in parts, but I found myself drawn back in and wanting to see how it ended up.

weddingsanity.jpgWedding Sanity Savers : How to Handle the Stickiest Dilemmas, Scrapes, and Questions that Arise on the Road to Your Perfect Day
by Dr. Dale Atkins and Annie Gilbar
Mom sent this one, written by her friend Dale. It is Q&A about all the things that can go wrong in the wedding planning process. It made me truly appreciate how relatively calm and normal and civil my family (which I had always thought was crazy) really is. Perhaps that's why Mom sent it?

beinhart.jpgThe Librarian
by Larry Beinhart
Another case of if enough people remind me that I should read a book it does eventually move its way up my to-do pile. I loved loved loved Wag the Dog (and the book it was made from, American Hero). This is just as good -- a scary look at the political system that rings all too true -- and on top of that, the main character is a librarian!

Sadly, I seem to have packed ALL the other books in my apartment already and as tempted as I am to rush out and get an emergency book, I don't think I'll have time to finish it during the move and want a clean slate for HARRY POTTER. There is a pile of magazines sitting here that would be nice to read and recycle rather than taking with me, so I suppose I won't be starved for reading material tonight... plus there's the last bits of packing to do...

Posted by Emily at 07:31 PM | Comments (0)

July 08, 2005

New Jasper Fforde!

There's a new Jasper Fforde coming out in July!! According to the author's newsletter, "You may be interested to know that 'The Big Over Easy', my new book in the Nursery Crime series is just about to be published. It will be available to UK readers from the 11th July and in the USA only fourteen days later, on the 25th July." It's not a Thursday Next, but I'm sure it will be a lot of fun anyway.

And, as I was checking to see if I could pre-order that, I noticed that Amazon is celebrating their 10th anniversary! Umm, how utterly awesome would it be to have Harrison Ford deliver Raiders of the Lost Ark to your door? That's one of the coolest promotions I've ever seen. I wonder how they'll pick the winners...

Posted by Emily at 08:35 AM | Comments (0)

July 06, 2005

While you're waiting

While you're waiting for Harry Potter day to come along, check out this list of others to try from ALA. I'm really glad to see Mister Monday make the list (since its not on the list we give out at our library but I've been promoting it to anyone who asks for a Harry type book)

Books on the list that I loved (or at least would recommend)

Baum, L. Frank. The Wizard of Oz.
Billingsly, Franny. The Folk Keeper
Colfer, Eoin. Artemis Fowl.
Funke, Cornelia. Inkheart.
Nix, Garth. Mister Monday. (Keys to the Kingdom)
Snicket, Lemony. The Bad Beginning. (A Series of Unfortunate Events)
Stroud, Jonathan. The Amulet of Samarkand. (The Bartimaeus Trilogy)
Eager, Edgar. Half Magic.
Ende, Michael. The Neverending Story.
L'Engle, Madeleine. A Wrinkle in Time.
Lewis, C.S. Chronicles of Narnia.
Levine, Gail Carson. Ella Enchanted. [one of my new favorite movies, haven't read the book]
Nix, Garth. Sabriel. (Abhorsen Trilogy)
Paolini, Christopher. Eragon.
Pullman, Philip. The Golden Compass. (His Dark Materials)
Tolkein, J.R.R. The Hobbit.

Ones that were on my to-read list already:

Black, Holly. The Field Guide. (The Spiderwick Chronicles) [I listened to one of the later ones in the series]
Cooper, Susan. The Dark is Rising. (Dark is Rising Sequence)
Duane, Diane. So You Want To Be A Wizard.(Young Wizard Series)
Sage, Angie. Septimius Heap, Book One: Magyk.
Yolen, Jane. Wizard's Hall.

and now I'll have to go check out the rest :)

Posted by Emily at 12:07 PM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2005

Recent Books

I've fallen behind again in recording the books I've been reading and listening to. Here are a few recent ones:

candyfreak.jpgCandyfreak : a journey through the chocolate underbelly of America
by Steven Almond
Emy recommended this one and it took me a while to get to because first I had put the tapes on hold and then Vered (my car) has a cd player instead of a tape player so I had to start over and get the CD. It was SOOOO awesome (and I think I may have to but a copy to bring down to Paul next weekend, given our tendency to write about candy companies (hersheys and glico) when we weren't writing b-school papers on QVC) The only warning is that it will make you want to eat chocolate -- and especially to go find rare, local, old-fashioned bars still made by small family-run companies and then buy them for all your friends to try too. Thank you Emy for recommending this one!

murdermostcrafty.jpgMurder Most Crafty
edited by Maggie Bruce
15 All-New Stories of Criminal Handiwork and the Art of Deduction (Craft projects included)
A good set of short-story mysteries by a ton of authors I hadn't heard of (and a few I know and love like Sujata Massey). Mom gave it to me when I was home last week and most of them were quite good. I think I'll pass it on to Emy next -- with the warning that one of them, "How to Make a Killing Online" by Victoria Houston utterly freaked me out. The craft projects include paper making, making gourd ornaments, macaroni art, mosaic flowerpots, sewing, knitting with beads, weaving lanyards, tying trout flies, basket weaving, wreath making, dyeing with indigo, candlemaking, furniture refinishing, and memory collages.

Artemis Fowl
by Eoin Colfer
Every time I work on the children's desk, some one seems to ask for the books in this series, and when one of my colleagues at my other job raved about the newest one, I figured it was finally time to see what the fuss was about. Fairies, evil genius boys trying to take over the world (or at least stock up on fairy gold), high technology and magic, great characters... so now I'm hooked and will definitely want to read the rest of them.

Confessions of a Teen Sleuth
by Chelsea Cain
This was another one Mom sent -- and this one is definitely being passed along to BobbiLynn when I see her next!

deathoftheparty.jpgDeath of the Party: a Death on Demand Mystery
by Carolyn Hart
Another one I picked up from Mom's pile when I was there last week. Annie Laurance Darling remains one of my favorite mystery heroines (I mean really, what would be cooler than owning a mystery bookstore???) A very satisfying read (and as, always, leaves you ready for the next one to be written!)

and I listened to 1/2 of A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (since I wasn't making any headway on reading the book after two tries. The tapes were great -- it sounds like you're listening to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (narrator with a great British accent explaining the history of the universe and pretty much the answers to life, the universe and (nearly) everything). Unfortunately, I no longer have a tape player, so I'll have to either track down the CDs or finish it up in print.

Saved Comments:

I so rarely read anything that no one else has read - I'm very excited that I was able to tip you off on "Candyfreak"! :)

Mmmm...chocolate. I love that guy.
Posted by: Emy at June 20, 2005 08:44 PM

I LOVED Candyfreak. And I absolutely agree with you - it made me scan the candy aisles with greater interest, looking for the unusual, the unique candy bar. Mmmmm, book. It's one of the books that I forced upon my friend to read or die. :-)
Posted by: ilona at June 20, 2005 09:17 PM

Posted by Emily at 06:05 PM | Comments (0)

June 01, 2005

How I Live Now

So Don the teen librarian at one of the libraries I sub at recommended this book and it had been creeping lower on my pile as new ones get added (especially when I realized I just had to read all those Garth Nix ones.) But I really did mean to get to it so I finally put it at the top of the pile and made myself start. He was (of course) right and this is a fantastic YA book and well deserving of its awards and acclaim -- I definitely would recommend it!

howilivenow.jpghowilivenowcover.jpghow i live now
by Meg Rosoff
Ages 12-up
Wendy Lamb Books, 2004
2005 Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in Young Adult literature.

15 year old Daisy leaves New York (where she's feuding with her step mother, refusing to eat, and spending a lot of time with shrinks) and moves to England to live with her aunt and cousins. Pretty much all hell breaks loose there (with enough heavy foreshadowing to keep you reading to find out what is going to happen). Its a family acceptance story, a love story, a war story (set in the near future but reads like WWI because really when the power goes out we're not that much different than we were), and a survival story.

But its the style that I loved. The writing is wonderful and flowing and Randomly Capitalized and really brings the whole thing and the great characters to life. This isn't a great example, but here's the first chapter to give you a taste:

My name is Elizabeth but no one's ever called me that. My father took one look at me when I was born and must have throught I had the face of someone dignified and sad like an old-fashioned queen or a dead person, but what I turned out life is plain, not much there to notice. Even my life so far has been plain. More Daisy than Elizabeth from the word go.

But the summer I went to England to stay with my cousins everythign changed. Part of that was because of the war, which supposedly changed lots of things, but I can't remember much about life before the war anyway so it doesn't count in my book, which this is.

Mostly everything changed because of Edmond.

And so here's what happened."

Posted by Emily at 09:46 PM | Comments (0)

May 31, 2005

The Education of Robert Nifkin

robertnifkin.jpgSnuck in a quick YA one last night/this afternoon before heading to work: The Education of Robert Nifkin by Daniel Pinkwater. I have to keep better track of where I hear about books I then put on hold, purchase or check out (I probably heard the author on NPR)

Its a disturbing but amusing view of high school life in 1950s Chicago told as a long college essay by a kid who became a bit of a beatnik. Its a nice fantasy of getting to escape a horrible mind-numbing high school and really learn (or something).

Farrar Straus Giroux, 1998
Grades 8+, Ages 12-15
167 pages

Kirkus writes, "Falling somewhere between Candide and Holden Caulfield, Robert is an inexperienced but savvy teen, with an ability to land on his feet and capacity for sardonic observations that will have readers rocking with laughter."

Posted by Emily at 03:42 PM | Comments (51)

May 30, 2005

Looking for Alaska

8400904.gifMy professor and Ritchie both had raved about this book in our YA class so I had to give it a try. It was another great YA book with great characters. I laughed and cried.

Miles Halter heads off to boarding school to seek the "Great Perhaps" and finds Alaska Young -- clever, screwed up and sexy -- who pulls Miles into her labyrinth and things will never be the same.

Looking for Alaska
by John Green
Dutton Juvenile, 2005
Ages 9+

Posted by Emily at 07:24 PM | Comments (0)

May 26, 2005

Audio Books

I'm not alone in my new-found enjoyment of audio books:

Loud, Proud, Unabridged: It Is Too Reading!
By Amy Harmon

"Fewer Americans are reading books than a decade ago, according to the National Endowment for the Arts, but almost a third more are listening to them on tapes, CD's and iPods.

For a growing group of devoted listeners, the popularity of audio books is redefining the notion of reading, which for centuries has been centered on the written word. Traditionally, it is also an activity that has required one's full attention.

But audio books, once seen as a kind of oral CliffsNotes for reading lightweights, have seduced members of a literate but busy crowd by allowing them to read while doing something else.

I finished listening to The Keys of the Kingdom #1: Mister Monday in the car today and utterly loved it. I have the second one (Grim Tuesday) sitting in my to-read-next pile and will have to stock back up on some more to listen to when I'm at work at the library on Saturday.

Posted by Emily at 09:01 PM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2005

Reading Article

Lisa sent me this interesting article from Today's Washington Post:

Odds Stacked Against Pleasure Reading
By Valerie Strauss

The extensive required reading in her high school classes -- including Advanced Placement English Literature, where she flew from one classic to another -- left her with no time to pick up books she thought would be fun. And she was frustrated by teachers who offered either too little help in understanding the complex texts or conducted tortured efforts to wring symbolism out of every word.
Allowing students to pick their own books is more than a democratic reading experiment. Studies show that reading achievement is significantly improved when students have an opportunity to choose from a selection of interesting texts rather than being dictated to.

(Thanks Lisa!)

Posted by Emily at 03:38 PM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2005


lirael.jpgFinished Lirael: Daughter of the Clayr this afternoon and am showing great restraint by not rushing out right this minute to go by the third book of the The Abhorsen Trilogy right now (I put it on hold at the library so I'll get it when I work there tomorrow afternoon). This is the sequel to Sabriel, one of my top picks from my YA class. And even though the class is done, I have a huge (and growing) stack of other YA books I still want to get to. This is an incredible series and Garth Nix is now one of my favorite writers (I'm listening to The Keys To The Kingdom #1: Mr. Monday in the car and love it as well)

Posted by Emily at 06:44 PM | Comments (64)

May 16, 2005


Jane sent along this link to Nancy Pearl's summer reading choices from Morning Edition this morning.

Half Magic, by Edward Eager and The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster are literally two of my all time favorites, ones that I often come back to and reread (Greg even gave me an autographed copy of the Phantom Tollbooth one year for my birthday since the author hangs out at a coffee shop in Amherst we used to go to)

Sabriel, by Garth Nix and Sorcery Cecelia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, by Patricia C. Wrede are two of the ones I included in my YA database for class.

So now I have seven new ones to add to my to-do list!

I've been bad about blogging the last few books I've read, so I'll have to catch up a bit here. I finished Trickster's Queen last night which was just as great as Trickster's Choice and now I'll definitely have to go read the other series from that world (some are about Aly's mother the Lioness). Last week I finished The Kite Runner (as my one adult book "treat" in the middle of all my YA fun) and thought it was really very good. After that I read The Radioactive Boy Scout: The True Story of a Boy and his Backyard Nuclear Reactor which is a crazy true story about a kid experimenting with nuclear power in his backyard. I listened to The Folk Keeper (YA 56) and Cut (YA 57) in the car and thought they were some of the best of the semester. On this weekend's road trip, we listened to Breakfast at Tiffany's (and three of Truman Capote's short stories: "A Christmas Memory," "A Diamond Guitar," and "House of Flowers") and Einstein's Dreams (which I thought was really wonderful to listen to.)

UPDATE: I blogged this without knowing that I'd go home and find a signed copy of Nancy Pearl's book, More Book Lust waiting for me. Thank you so much Dad and Jane!!!

Posted by Emily at 08:21 AM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2005

YA55: The Shakespeare Stealer

This is on the young side, but very enjoyable. People were talking about it on one of the YA lists I'm on, so I'll have to go back and check if they thought it could be included in a YA collection or if its more of a children's book. I finished it on tape in the car on the way to work this morning.

The Shakespeare Stealer
by Gary Blackwood
Dutton, l998, 216 pages
Recorded Books; Unabridged edition (March 1, 2001)

This tale of a 14-year-old Yorkshire orphan sent by a rival theater manager to steal the as-yet-unpublished Hamlet in 1601 by copying it down as it is being performed, using an early system of shorthand. Through new friendships and unexpected job opportunities, Widge becomes quite close to those he must steal the play from. Will Widge be able to walk away from his new way of life and friends, or will he face his master and keep the play, "Hamlet" safe?

School Library Journal writes, "Tentative readers might be put off by Widge's Yorkshire dialect, but the words are explained in context. Wisely, much of the theater lingo is not explained and becomes just one more part of the vivid background through which the action moves. This is a fast-moving historical novel that introduces an important era with casual familiarity." In their review of the audio version, they add: "Actor Ron Keith's narration adds a strong auditory element to the story. The veteran narrator uses his well-developed talent to change voices for the characters, and employs inflecting vocal tones and silence to craft fuller personalities. Each voice is tailored to fit the subtleties of the character, as in the wicked Falconer. This is a great supplement to any language arts curriculum to enhance a Shakespeare unit, and a wonderful story just to enjoy."

This would be a great way to introduce kids to Shakespeare's time (it's like Shakespeare in Love for kids). "By giving students an easy to read novel that shows great insight concerning the cultural mores and customs during this time period, you as teachers will not have to explain the cultural backgrounds concerning Shakespeare's works. The story is set in and around London, England in the mid 1600's." (http://faculty.ssu.edu/~elbond/stealer.htm)

It could lead to some interesting discussions of intellectual property, gender roles, friendship & loyalty... and maybe leave you bitten with the theater bug!

Ages 9-14, Grade 4-8

There's a sequel as well: Shakespeare's Scribe
In this sequel to THE SHAKESPEARE STEALER, the plague comes to London, the Globe Theater closes down, and Widge and his fellow players have to travel all around England, performing in city squares, innyards, and guild halls. In a starred review, School Library Journal calls it "An exciting, well-written tale that is sure to leave young thespians clamoring for more."

Posted by Emily at 08:42 AM | Comments (1)

April 25, 2005

YA54: Al Capone Does My Shirts

0399238611.01._AA400_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpgHere's an interesting one for the pile, one that everyone was talking about so I thought I'd finally check it out. Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko.

Twelve-year-old Moose moves to Alcatraz in 1935 so his father can work as a prison guard and his younger, autistic sister, Natalie, can attend a special school in San Francisco.

It's a good quick read, an interesting time and setting (the families of the guards did actually live there on the island at that time) and a likable main character dealing with his sister, the pressure his family puts on him, and his desire to just be a kid and have a chance to play baseball with his new classmates. A good middle school pick.

2005 Beatty Award Winner

Grade 6-8

Posted by Emily at 09:28 PM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2005

YA52-3: Stoner & Spaz and If You Come Softly

Finished two "thin" ones yesterday -- Stoner & Spaz (an unlikely friendship between a film-obsessed boy with cerebral palsy and a drug addicted girl) by Ron Koertge on tape in the car and If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson (tragic interracial romance, late last night.

If You Come Softly

Ages 9-12

181 pages

Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, 2000

ALA Best Book for Young Adults

Stoner and Spaz

Narrated by Josh Hamilton

Listening Library, Inc., 2003

2 Cassettes, 2 hrs. 55 min.

Grades 9+

PW review of the tapes: "With a youthful edge to his voice, Hamilton brings a rich credibility to the roles of teenagers Ben and Colleen, stars of Koertge's sharp and emotionally moving YA novel. As two very different kinds of outcasts, drug-addicted Colleen and cerebral palsy-afflicted Ben forge an unlikely friendship that helps each of them blossom. And in the author's true-to-life style, setbacks, successes and uncharted territory await the duo on the path of self-discovery. Hamilton handily masters Koertge's smart, contemporary repartee between the protagonists, capturing each note of sarcasm and humor as well as lots of film and pop-culture references. Hamilton also adds welcome shades of color to supporting characters, including Ben's stuffy, overprotective grandmother. This winning performance, which envisions Ben and Colleen as likable and sympathetic-warts and all-will please fans of Koertge's work and surely gain him new admirers."

Posted by Emily at 08:09 AM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2005

YA51: Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes
Chris Crutcher
HarperTempest, 1993
295 pages

It's written from the point of view of Eric Calhoune, also known as "Moby," because of his weight. He and Sarah Byrnes have been friends since elementary school because they were both "different" -- she was badly burned in what she referred to as a childhood accident. When Moby joined the swim team, he started to shed his extra pounds...and he was afraid getting thinner would make his best friend think he didn't want to be her friend anymore (hence the title). But now the sarcastic, tough-as-nails Sarah Burnes has stopped talking completely and is in the hospital's mental ward. Eric uncovers some of the terrible secrets she is hiding and tries his best to help...

SLJ describes it: "An obese boy and a disfigured girl suffer the emotional scars of years of mockery at the hands of their peers. They share a hard-boiled view of the world until events in their senior year hurl them in very different directions. A story about a friendship with staying power, written with pathos and pointed humor. " PW adds: "A subplot centering on a self-righteous teammate drives home the point that nothing is as it appears on the surface, and leads to Eric being caught between his menacing vice-principal and the even more malevolent Mr. Byrnes--with spine-tingling results. Superb plotting, extraordinary characters and crackling narrative make this novel one to be devoured in a single unforgettable sitting." Kirkus (warning spoilers) writes: "Though Crutcher doesn't always play fair in developing his themes--all the conservative Christians here are humorless dupes or hypocrites, and one tries to commit suicide after it comes out that his girlfriend had an abortion--his language, characters, and situations are vivid and often hilarious. In the end, he deals out just deserts all around: Eric gets a stepfather he can respect; Virgil, a vicious mauling plus 20 years in stir; Sarah, a new and loving set of parents. Readers may find the storybook ending a welcome relief, though it does seem forced after the pain that precedes it. Pulse-pounding, on both visceral and intellectual levels--a wild, brutal ride."

Ages 12+, Grade 8+

ALA Best Book for YA
SLJ Best Book for YA
American Booksellers Pick of the List
California Young Reader Medalist
ALA Best of the Best Books for YA
Publisher's Weekly Starred Review
and other awards

If you like Chris Crutcher books, you'll probably like this one (there are definitely familiar elements from the other books.) After reading King of the Mild Frontier I definitely wanted to read more by him.

Posted by Emily at 07:08 AM | Comments (2)

April 18, 2005

YA50: Tangerine

Yes, I finally made it to #50! Of course I have a huge stack of other YA titles I want to get to, so the count won't stop here, but it does mean I'm going to have to start building the database of all of these, write booktalks for four of them, and make my lists of top favorites, etc. for this weekend's final ftf class (yes, I'm annoyed that we're having class on Passover).

by Edward Bloor
Scholastic Paperbacks; Reissue edition (June 1, 2001)
304 pages
8 sound cassettes (10 hrs.) Narrated by Ramon de Ocampo.

Twelve-year-old Paul, who lives in the shadow of his football hero brother Erik, fights for the right to play soccer despite his near blindness and slowly begins to remember the incident that damaged his eyesight. The book is told through Paul's diary entries where he chronicles his adjustment to this bizarre new place, describing his triumph at soccer, making new friends, and fighting the frost to save a tangerine grove. No one except Paul -- especially their parents -- sees how vicious and amoral his brother Erik really is, but the secret is about to come out.

Gr 6-9, Ages 11+

The Library Journal Review of the audio version was written by our Deputy County Librarian! She writes that, "This excellent recording will bring new fans to a book that has become a YA classic." From Booklist: "There's a lot going on in the story--perhaps too much--and with the exception of Paul, the characters are little more than intriguing, shadowy shapes. Paul's musings occasionally seem too old for his years, as well. Still, the book has a lot going for it, especially the atmospheric portrait of the eerie community, where lightning strikes more often than it does anywhere else and a school is swallowed by a sinkhole. One thing is for sure: this dark debut novel proves that Bloor is a writer to watch." From Kirkus: "Smart, adaptable, and anchored by a strong sense of self-worth, Paul makes a memorable protagonist in a cast of vividly drawn characters; multiple yet taut plotlines lead to a series of gripping climaxes and revelations. Readers are going to want more from this author."

I've been listening to it in the car for the last week and definitely enjoyed it. While some of the plot twists are a bit unbelievable (a giant sink hole swallowing the modular classrooms?... actually that might be wishful thinking for those of us in SJSU's lovely modular maze) but Paul is a great character and I would definitely recommend the book to middle schoolers.

1997 "American Bookseller" Pick of the Lists, an ALA Top-Ten Best Book, a "Horn Book" Fanfare Book, a "Publishers Weekly" Best Book of the Year, and an Edgar Award nominee.

Posted by Emily at 05:10 PM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2005

YA49: Blood and Chocolate

I'll have to add the rest of the info tomorrow, but wanted to record #49:

bloodchocolate.jpgBlood and Chocolate
Annette Curtis Klause
Dell Laurel Leaf, 1999
264 pages
Ages 14+

A great werewolf one!

Booklist gushed that, "This violent, sexy novel is a seamless, totally convincing blend of fantasy and reality that can be read as feminist fiction, as smoldering romance, as a rite of passage novel, or as a piercing reflection on human nature…Klause's imagery is magnetic and her language fierce, rich, and beautiful…Passion and philosophy dovetail superbly in this powerful, unforgettable novel for mature teens."

And the author is a librarian! In an interview, she writes: "The library seemed to be a good environment for a writer--I would be the first to read all those lovely books and reference sources would be at my fingertips.  Of course, I didn't know back then that there is hardly any time to read the books with all the others things to do."

2001 American Library Association Top Ten Challenged Books of the Year. (She writes on her site that this is her "most dubious honor")
2000 Garden State Teen Book Award
2000 South Carolina Young Adult Book Award
1998 American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults.
Voted one of the top 10 on this list, too!
1998 American Library Association Quick Picks.
Voted one of the top 10 on this list, too!
1998 Nominated for the Heartland Award for Excellence Young Adult Literature.
1997 School Library Journal Best Books of the Year.
1997 Booklist Editor's Choice.

And soon there will be a movie!!

spiritedaway.jpgPlus, I finally saw Spirited Away tonight (which I'm going to include in my assignment as well because I have to review 10 non-print items) It was amazing! I had included it in my 12-month YA plan that I just turned in yesterday, and had been meaning to see it forever. "In the middle of her family's move to the suburbs, a sullen 10-year-old girl wanders into a world ruled by witches and monsters, where humans are changed into animals."

Posted by Emily at 11:09 PM | Comments (2)

April 13, 2005

Looking for Time Travel Books

Help -- any of you have any suggestions for good time travel books where the characters go forward in time (I'm having a much easier time with a list of ones going back in time). The Time Machine came to mind, but otherwise I'm pretty stuck.

Failing that, any favorites that are set in the future (e.g. Feed)

YA books preferred, but adult books that would appeal to teens will do as well.


Posted by Emily at 11:23 PM | Comments (6)

April 12, 2005

YA48: Boy Meets Boy

boymeetsboy.jpgWow, this was one of the best ones of the bunch IMO. Its a very quick read and I want to immediately go back and read it again (like I did with Weetzie Bat).

Boy Meets Boy
David Levithan
Alfred A. Knopf, 2003

Read an excerpt here.

Its a lovely, sweet high school romance with an obvious twist from the normal boy-meets-girl fare. It is utterly believable yet entirely fanciful -- this is a town and a school you just don't find everywhere (but then again I always wanted to live on Sesame Street, and there's nothing wrong about escaping to a world where people can interact in ways they may not be able to in the real world).

For some reason this description of Noah's room really stuck with me. It's like he's the StarGirl type character that Paul almost loses. Here's how Paul describes it the first time he sees it:

I don't know where to begin, both in looking at it and describing it. The ceiling is a swirl of just about any color you'd care to imagine. But it doesn't seem like it was painted with different colors -- it looks like it appeared at once, as a whole. One wall is covered with Matchbox cars glued in different directions, with a town and roads drawn in the background. His music collection hangs on a swing from the ceiling; his stereo is elevated on a pedestal of postcards from absurd places -- Botswana, the Kansas City International Airport, and Elvis convention. His books are kept on freestanding shelves hung at different angles on a sea-green wall. They defy gravity, as good books should. His bed is in the middle of the room, by can be rolled effortlessly into any corner. His windowshades are made from old bubblegum wrappers, arranged into a design.

As Noah says, "I hope you don't mind whimsy." (46) It reminded me of the types of things the girls in Dangerous Angels would do to their rooms, and all the other great characters in these books who really could express who they were.

The lengths that Paul goes to show Noah how he feels are some of the most romantic high school gestures ever, guarenteed to make you melt. As the front cover says, "In this celebration of love in all forms, David Levithan has crafted a world full of engaging and enduring characters that readers will want to visit again and again." In his bio, the author says he is "often asked if the book is a work of fantasy or a work of reality, and the answer is right down the middle - it's about where we're going, and where we should be."

Posted by Emily at 03:33 PM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2005

YA47: Montmorency

Everyone was talking about this one in class, so I thought I'd give it a try. It was interesting, well written, hard to put down, and refreshingly different from the other YA ones.

montmorency.jpgMontmorency: thief, liar, gentleman?
Eleanor Updale
Orchard Books, 2003
233 pages

When a petty thief falls through a glass roof trying to escape from the police, what should have been the death of him marks the beginning of a whole new life. He soon becomes the most elusive burglar in Victorian London, adopting a dual existence as both a respectable, wealthy gentleman named Montmorency, and his degenerate servant Scarper who prowls the newly built city sewers (London, 1875).

The Amazon review writes that, "Middle school fans of John Bellairs, Lemony Snicket, and Philip Pullman, will delight in plowing through the cliff hanging pages of Montmorency. Updale's prose is clear and plot-driven, full of the kind of fascinating detail about the quirky Victorian thief's dual existence that young mystery readers adore. And, with a sequel coming in 2005, they won't groan too loudly at the wide open, although wholly satisfying ending." School Library Journal explains that, "Peculiarly enough, Updale's seamless historical novel contains no true adolescent characters. Yet the transitional stages of Montmorency's entry into society and evolving sense of self-discovery resemble the paths taken by many famous teen protagonists. Readers will find themselves drawn not only to Montmorency's compellingly bizarre biography, but also to his clever and mischievous nature that eventually leads him to both a realization of his past wrongs and a valid career where he can put his "best" skills to good use." From Booklist: "It's tough to pinpoint the target audience, though--some readers will react negatively to the absence of characters their own age, and find the abundant period details overly fussy (in one scene, Montmorency lingers over the subtle flavors of whisky). This will appeal the most to older kids who enjoy immersing themselves in historical atmosphere, including some adult devotees of Victorian detective fiction."

Grade 6-10

The sequel has been nominated for the 2005 Best Books for Young Adults:
Updale, Eleanor. Montmorency on the Rocks: Doctor, Aristocrat, Murderer?
Scholastic/Orchard Books, 2005. $16.95. (0-439-60676-4).

Posted by Emily at 02:32 PM | Comments (0)

April 08, 2005

YA46: Rats Saw God

ratssawgod.jpgAnother book finished on tape in the car (boy the commute goes fast with a good story... not that its a very long commute... and yes, the end of this assignment is in sight so there will eventually be more variety in my reading picks here).

Rats Saw God
Rob Thomas
Simon Pulse, 1996
224 pages
Recorded Books, 1996, 5 sound cassettes (6.5 hr.)
Narrated by Johnny Heller

By his senior year in high school, Steve York has come through the worst two years of his life. His parents have divorced, and his girlfriend has broken his heart. Now he's barely making it through his senior year in San Diego, busted for being high in class, and risking flunking out. Steve's only hope to graduate on time and avoid summer school is to write a 100-page paper for his guidance counselor. Will the assignment help him to pull his life together or push him over the edge? As we read Steve's account of his Sophomore year in Houston, his group of friends and their Grace Order of Dadaists (GOD) club, his first love Wanda "Dub" Varner, we start to see where everything went wrong. At the same time, we start to see him pull things back together, his academic recovery, fueled in part by a new love interest, and his reconciliation of long time tension with his famous astronaut father. The book is funny and touching.

From PW: "In his first novel Thomas lays bare the pain, awkwardness and humor at the heart of one teenager's search for identity.... Thomas, a former high school teacher, nails his setting with dead-on accuracy. The sharp descriptions of cliques, clubs and annoying authority figures will strike a familiar chord. The dialogue is fresh and Steve's intelligent banter and introspective musings never sound wiser than his years. Readers will likely enjoy the quick pace of Steve's journal-style flashbacks; on a deeper level, they will be moved by his emotional stumbles and impressed by his growing maturity." Booklist adds: "Thomas, a former high-school teacher, has a strong, funny voice, but the first-time novelist needs to learn how to trim a book; what should be left out is as important as what to put in. This is definitely for the YA crowd, not the preteens who often pick up this sort of book. The language is authentic, and a first-time sex scene, though not exactly graphic, has some memorable images." Kirkus finds that "Readers will take heart from the way Steve grows past his rebellion as they laugh at the plethora of comic situations and sharply set up, well-executed punchlines."

Apparently, Thomas was one of the original screenwriters in season one of Dawson's Creek and co-created Cupid (which I liked). He's also the creater of Veronica Mars (which I should probably watch at some point). There's an interview with him about it on Salon.

If you liked Rats Saw God...

Posted by Emily at 03:41 PM | Comments (0)

April 05, 2005

YA45: Sabriel

Another really good one! I'll admit I've had this on my pile from the very start of the semester and kept picking it up, considering it, and then picking up some other book from the pile. I even carried it all the way to Florida over the holidays (but then put it aside to read the new books Mom had brought). It was fantastic though -- really good fantasy and I couldn't put it down. Of course I'm going to now have to add the others in the series to the list of books I want to read after this course ends.

Book 1 of the Abhorsen Trilogy
Garth Nix

School Library Journal explains that, "This vividly imagined fantasy pits a young necromancer against a shambling horde of deliciously gruesome minions of an unspeakably evil sorcerer." The reviewer finds that, "Though he doesn't handle every element with equal skill, his monsters are scary and repulsive, his sense of humor is downright sneaky, and he puts his competent but not superhuman heroine through engrossing physical and emotional wringers. This book is guaranteed to keep readers up way past their bedtimes." PW writes, "Although Sabriel is possessed of much heavy knowledge ("A year ago, I turned the final page of The Book of the Dead. I don't feel young any more"), she is still a teenager and vulnerable where her father and love for Touchstone are concerned, making her a sympathetic heroine. Rich, complex, involving, hard to put down, this first novel, an Australian import, is excellent high fantasy. The suitably climactic ending leaves no loose ends, but readers will hope for a sequel." Booklist writes, "The action charges along at a gallop, imbued with an encompassing sense of looming disaster. Sabriel, who entered the Old Kingdom lacking much of the knowledge she needs, proves to be a stalwart heroine, who, in the end, finds and accepts her destiny. A page-turner for sure, this intricate tale compares favorably with Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass and will surely appeal to the same audience."

Ages 12+, Grade 7+
Notable Children's Books of 1997 (ALA)
1997 Best Books for Young Adults (ALA)
1997 Books for the Teen Age (NY Public Library)
Best Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror 1996 (VOYA)
Books in the Middle: Outstanding Books of 1996 (VOYA)

Posted by Emily at 06:55 AM | Comments (108)

April 04, 2005

Sujata Massey, Wednesday Night

The Virtual Chautauqua is pleased to invite you to participate in a special event.

We have the exciting opportunity to talk with Sujata Massey, author of a wonderful series of mysteries featuring her heroine, Rei Shimura.

Date: Wednesday April 6
Time: 8:30-9:30pm US Eastern Daylight Savings Time
Email me if you want call information emily - at - chocolatespoon.com

You can find out more about Sujata's work at her website

Massey's books tell great mystery stories while, at the same time, exploring some of the cross-cultural challenges that emerge for the heroine as she straddles her Japanese-American heritage. Rei Shimura's trade in japanese antiques and her relationship with her extended family in Japan sends her to places all over Japan. She explores everything from the ancient art of flower arranging to modern Japanese comics.

The Rei Shimura series includes:

Zen Attitude (1998)
The Flower Master (1999)
The Floating Girl (2000)
The Bride's Kimono (2001)
The Samurai's Daughter (2003)
The Pearl Diver (2004)

Please join us for this special Virtual Chautauqua event! Even if you haven't read any of Sujata's books (yet) it will be fun to hear about the writer, the writing process, and the world of mysteries!

Posted by Emily at 06:59 AM | Comments (20)

March 31, 2005

YA44: Hard Love

Finished another good one (on tape) in the car on the way to phone banking tonight.

hardlove.gifHard Love
Ellen Wittlinger
Simon & Schuster, New York: 1999
240 pages
Unabridged Audio, narrated by Mark Webber, 4 hours, 58 minutes (3 tapes)
Michael L. Printz Honor Book, Lambda Literary Award
A YALSA Quick Pick for Young Adults, 2000
A YALSA Best Book for Young Adults, 2000

John Galardi is "a witty misanthrope", a high school junior who has just published the first issue of his zine "Bananafish" under the name of Giovanni. In the years following his parent's divorce, he's closed himself off to most emotions (though there is some serious anger hiding under the surface). Marisol is a self-proclaimed "Puerto Rican Cuban Yankee Cambridge, Massachusetts, rich spoiled lesbian private-school gifted-and-talented writer virgin looking for love." Her zine, Escape Velocity, inspires John to stake out the lobby of Tower Records until she shows up with the next issue. A strange friendship develops, and John finds himself falling in love for the first time (despite frequent reminders from Marisol that she is in fact a lesbian). After a disasterous sidetrip to the prom, the two end up at a weekend zine conference in Cape Cod. The book is named after a song by Bob Franke which nicely sums up their relationship and helps them to realize what they have come to mean to one another.

PW called it a "somewhat overdramatized account of unrequited love explor[ing] the complexity of relationships in the 1990s." But they go on to say that "This self-consciously up-to-date novel scratches the surface of perhaps too many issues, but John's intelligent, literate yet raw entries betray more to readers than he knows of himself. The awkwardness of awakening sexuality, a growing preoccupation with identity, and crossing the line from friendship to more are all themes here with which teens will readily identify."

Ages 12-up, Grade 8 Up

this quote really struck me, so I checked out the book so I could capture the lines (I'm glad I did get the book, because the layout mimics the zine style and is quite interesting)

"I always wanted to paint, didn't you?"
"No. I was never any good at art."
"I'm not either; I just want to do everything. Why can't we all do everything we want to? I'd be a writer and a singer and a painter and a politician and... maybe an Olympic track star."
"In one lifetime?"
"Why not? Sleep less."

Posted by Emily at 11:14 PM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2005

YA43: Prom

prombook.jpgI saw this one in B&N the other day, and since I had liked Speak and since they were offering signed copies (it says "Dance!" and the author's signature), I decided I might as well go for it. Plus, with Brooke here shopping for prom dresses, a book about the prom seemed appropriate. I managed to finish the last few chapters this afternoon in time to blog a bit about it before I need to rush off to work. I liked it. The main character has a voice so out of my sphere of experience, but I found myself caught up in her life and the people around her and looking forward to seeing how the prom turned out.

Laurie Halse Anderson
Viking Juvenile, 2005
215 pages

Ashley Hannigan is barely getting through the last months of her urban Philadelphia high school, has a huge backlog of detentions to serve, a drop-out boyfriend she wants to move in with, a pretty crazy family, and a job serving pizza in a rat costume. So when her math teacher steals the money that was supposed to pay for the prom, no one is more surprised than Ashley that she ends up saving the day -- even though she had no intention of getting swept up in the prom fever that her best friend, mother, aunts, and everyone else was obsessed with.

Booklist explains that, "Here, though Anderson's bright, witty narrator is a self-professed 'ordinary kid,' whose problems, while intensely felt, are as common as a burger and fries. She's as ambivalent about her boyfriend, who is both sweet and undependable, as she is about her college prospects; her part-time job serving pizza in a rat costume is far from fulfilling; and her family, which she calls 'no-extra-money-for-nothin’-poor,' mortifies her (her pregnant mother's belly 'screams to the world' that her parents have sex), even as they offer love and support. In clipped chapters (some just a sentence long), Ashley tells her story in an authentic, sympathetic voice that combines gum-snapping, tell-it-like-it-is humor with honest questions about her future. The dramatic ending may be a bit over-the-top, but teens will love Ashley's clear view of high-school hypocrisies, dating and the fierce bonds of friendship." The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books writes, "Ashley represents a point of view not often seen in literature for young people, that of the kid who's not expecting or desiring to go to college, who's satisfied with her working-class surroundings and future. Her cheerful pell-mell family and neighborhood is depicted with tenderness as well as humor.... Anderson keeps the pace swift, dividing the narrative into numbered sections that are more brief scenes than chapters and emphasizing snappy dialogue that's imbued with the reality of longtime friendships. The Cinderella theme is handled with the lightest of touches (readers may not even initially pick up on the heroine's name); it's not really a story about Cinderella so much as a tale about the impulse to have one's moment of celebration, and readers will revel in Ashley's opportunity while dreaming of their own."

Ages 12 & up, Grades 7 & up


Once upon a time there was an eighteen-year-old girl who dragged her butt out of bed and hauled it all the way to school on a sunny day in May.


That was me.

Posted by Emily at 04:00 PM | Comments (0)

March 27, 2005

YA42: The Sandman, Vol 1: Preludes & Nocturns

sandman.jpgThe Sandman: Volume 1: Preludes and Nocturnes (Sandman #1)
Neil Gaiman
Illustrators: Mike Dringenberg, Malcolm Jones III
DC Comics, 1991 (originally published as individual magazines, 1988-89)

Read this one today (since I realized that many of my library books were overdue and couldn't be renewed again so I might as well finish as many as I can up so I can return them when the library is open on Tuesday). Can't say I really liked it or understood most of it, but I think it will grow on me as I read more of them and have a chance to talk to folks who really love the series.

The introduction by Virgigo Executive Editor Karen Berger explains that, "This first volume of the SANDMAN series is very much a work in progress; that of a talented writer who eventually honed and refined his skills and progressively developed his initial concept -- a series about dreams: personal, nocturnal, and imaginary -- and expandid it in ways that produced some classically modern and unforgettable stories." She also writes that, "SANDMAN also has a dispropotionate number of women who read the series, probably the most of any mainstream comic. In a medium that is still widely occupied by males, that in itself is a major achievement."

Preludes & Nocturnes is the 1st volume of 10 in THE SANDMAN LIBRARY. The back explains that you can read them in order or as individual volumes.


Posted by Emily at 06:42 PM | Comments (1)

March 26, 2005

YA41: Someone Like You

Finished another book on tape in the car this morning on the way home from our regular Saturday morning campaign meeting. I really enjoyed it and was completely laughing out loud at the final scene. Along the way I had caught myself yelling at the mom character and completely sympathizing with the main character Halley.

someone.jpgSomeone Like You
Sarah Dessen
(not at all related to the Ashley Judd movie, which is actually based on the v.v. good chicklit book, Animal Husbandry)
About the Book
Puffin Books, 1998, 281 pages
Listening Library, 4 tapes

Halley's just about to turn 16 and life is definitely changing. She's fighting with her Mom all the time, her best friend's boyfriend is killed in a motocycle accident and finds out she's pregnant with his baby, she starts hanging out with a wilder crowd and meets a very wild boy... There are some great details like the clean-cut accountant that Scarlett's mother is dating and his slow transformation into his alter-ego Vlad from the medeival reenactments... the utterly disasterous start to prom night and its glorious, goofy ending...

PW writes, "Dessen's realistic portrayal of contemporary teens and their moral challenges breathes fresh life into well-worn themes of rebellion and first love.... This romance/coming-of-age story is not as tightly written as Dessen's debut, That Summer; it suffers from some scenes reminiscent of soap opera and from flat presentations of almost all the adult characters. But Dessen's fully developed characterizations of charismatic teens, particularly the rebel-without-a-cause-type Macon, are sure to attract readersAespecially those who, like Halley, have felt the urge to take a walk on the wild side." From Audiofile, "Adolescence is hard--at times exciting, at times terrifying, and often both at the same time. For Halley, her sixteenth summer brings sadness, death, new life, and changing relationships with family and friends. Katherine Powell brings all the characters to life. Halley's somewhat unsure, introverted manner at first contrasts with Scarlett's confident, extroverted personality; gradually each voice changes as Halley's romance with Macon forces her to withdraw from her mother and to make her own decisions as she matures. The scenes between mother and daughter grate, appropriately so, as Powell accentuates the growing separation, revealing both underlying humor and adolescent sarcasm. The scenes between Halley and Scarlett are absolutely right, and Powell makes this candid treatment of teenage pregnancy a powerful book." The NY Times was not as kind, writing: "It will entertain teen-age girls, but its reliance on the conventions of so many young-adult novels pegs in as a genre piece."

Gr. 7-12, Ages 12-up

Posted by Emily at 06:14 PM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2005

YA40: Flipped

I didn't even realize that this book was by the author of the Sammy Keyes series (Amytha had recommended them for my 6-12 class and I loved Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief and later listened to Sammy Keyes and the Runaway Elf, and I often recommend the series to folks when they're looking for a good mystery for kids) It's a fun, quick read.

Wendelin Van Draanen
Trade Paperback | Knopf Books for Young Readers | Juvenile Fiction - Love & Romance; Juvenile Fiction - Humorous Stories| 0-375-82544-4 | $8.95

A fun, "he-said, she-said" romance told in alternating chapters by two eighth graders (Bryce and Juli) who describe how their feelings change about themselves and each other from when they meet at age 7 until their teenage interactions. It reminded me a lot of Star Girl -- down to Bryce's grandfather's advice that "Every once in a while you'll find someone iridescent, and when you do, nothing will ever compare." There could be a whole subgenre of amazing, eccentric girls and the cowardly, conformist boys who barely realize what they're letting slip away from them.

The Amazon review explains that, "With Flipped, mystery author Wendelin Van Draanen has taken a break from her Sammy Keyes series, and the result is flipping fantastic. Bryce and Juli's rants and raves about each other ring so true that teen readers will quickly identify with at least one of these hilarious feuding egos, if not both. A perfect introduction to the adolescent war between the sexes." Publisher's Weekly wrote that, "With a charismatic leading lady kids will flip over, a compelling dynamic between the two narrators and a resonant ending (including a clever double entendre on the title), this novel is a great deal larger than the sum of its parts." From School Library Journal: "Right from the upside-down chick on the book's cover, there's lots of laugh-out-loud egg puns and humor in this novel. There's also, however, a substantial amount of serious social commentary woven in, as well as an exploration of the importance of perspective in relationships. Well-rounded secondary characters keep subplots rolling in this funny, fast-paced, egg-cellent winner."

Ages 10-14, Grade 6-9

Posted by Emily at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

March 22, 2005

YA39: Trickster's Choice

Finished listening to this one in the car on the way home from work today and absolutely loved it. I was worried at the beginning because the chapters start with quotes from other sources to give a bit of history, advice, etc. and the first one was so dense to listen to (it would have been easier to read I think) that I thought the whole story would be like that. But as soon as I met the characters and got into the action I was completely hooked. Now I'm going to have to go track down the next one in the series as well...

tricksterschoice.jpgTrickster's Choice (Daughter of the Lioness Book 1)
Tamora Pierce
New York : Random House, c2003. 422 pages
New York : Random House/Listening Library, p2003. 7 cassettes (11 hr., 54 min.)

School Library Journal described it well: "With magic, spells, winged horses that are part human and part metal, crows that take human form (and provide a romance for Aly), brutal fighting, treason, and attempted kidnapping, this fantasy has plenty to hold readers' attention. It also offers an interesting examination of race, as well as a look at an adolescent's finding her independence, an especially difficult task with such a powerful mother. Aly is a strong, intelligent, and resilient feminist who stretches this fantasy to a parable of girl-power. The book at times bogs down in the sheer number of characters and relationships, and in the author's zealous attention to descriptive details, but Pierce's fans will enjoy it."

The Booklist review (by one of my hero-librarians, GraceAnne DeCandido) says: "A marvelous cast of characters, human, mage, and animal; a tangled web of political and racial tensions; and the promise of other Aly stories to come will engage Pierce's legions of fans and win over even more."

Grades 7-12
One of the teens' top ten for 2004

Posted by Emily at 03:28 PM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2005

YA38: Double Helix

Next up in the YA List: Double Helix by Nancy Werlin

Dial Books, 2004
256 p.

Reading level: middle and high school
Curriculum areas: English, Biology, Ethics, Psychology

Teacher's Guide (co-authored by my YA Professor)

School Library Journal explains that "Werlin clearly and dramatically raises fundamental bioethical issues for teens to ponder. She also creates a riveting story with sharply etched characters and complex relationships that will stick with readers long after the book is closed. An essential purchase for YA collections." In Booklist's starred review, they write that "Werlin has proved herself to be one of the best youth thriller writers working today." In this book, "Werlin delivers more than just a solid thriller-cum-growing-up story. She offers a thoughtful consideration of genetic engineering and takes a stand, but not at the expense of an intriguing mystery." The review calls it "A solidly crafted, thoughtful novel featuring a clever, obsessed kid who finds truths, small and large, about life, family, and, of course, himself."

A good one to start some interesting discussions about genetic engineering and ethics. I enjoyed it -- I liked the characters and thought it was well told. And it definitely makes you think.

Posted by Emily at 11:06 AM | Comments (0)

March 17, 2005

YA37: King of the Mild Frontier

kingofmild.jpgChris Crutcher is one of the best YA writers out there, and his autobiography, King of the Mild Frontier: An Ill-Advised Autobiography, is just as good as his books and hysterically funny. It helps to have read some of his books first, because you see the real life experiences that inspired many of the characters and scenes.

School Library Journal said, "For those who want to know the real poop behind this popular author's characters (and, to some extent, his character), this is the book you've been waiting for.... His signature wit was sharpened in response to both his feelings of inadequacy and his competitive nature, honed by participation in high school and college sports. He addresses issues about his use of profanity in his writing for teens. Tough and tender reminiscences focus primarily on family, social, and school conflicts, but lessons derived from his career as a teacher, therapist, and writer are also described. Hyperbole lightens the mood as the author portrays himself as a young crybaby, academic misfit, and athletic klutz, utterly without self-aggrandizement. Abrupt transitions, some convoluted sentences, and nonlinear progression may challenge some readers, but the narrative holds undeniable appeal for the author's fans and demonstrates the power of writing to help both reader and writer heal emotional/psychic wounds." Booklist's starred review says, "Like his novels, Crutcher's autobiography is full of heartbreak, poignancy, and hilarity... This honest, insightful, revealing autobiography is a joy to read. Crutcher's fans will relish this intimate glimpse of the author, and the book may win some new readers for his fiction." PW said, "Readers will clasp this hard-to-put-down book to their hearts even as they laugh sympathetically." While Kirkus called it "...a deeply moral and philosophical work with important messages about life, death, relativity, heroism" (which seems a bit over the top)

272 pages
HarperTempest, 2003

Of his books, so far I've only read Chinese Handcuffs and Whale Talk, but I thought they were both fantastic. His other books are: Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes (which is supposed to be really great), Stotan!, Athletic Shorts : Six Short Stories, The Sledding Hill, Running Loose, Ironman, The Crazy Horse Electric Game, and maybe a few others.

Posted by Emily at 12:31 PM | Comments (0)

March 14, 2005

YA36: The Year of Secret Assignments

On a much lighter and more enjoyable note than Monster, last night I finished:

secretassignments.jpgThe Year of Secret Assignments
Jaclyn Moriarty
Arthur A. Levine Books, 2004

What fun! Its a bit like the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books, but Australian and you hear more from the boys. It features three tenth grade girls who have been assigned pen pals (boys from the rival school) for their English assignment. The book is told in the letters back and forth, plus diary entries, emails, a goofy writer's journal, notes from parents, and other missives. They get into more trouble than you'd think possible and definitely have fun doing it. (I must say I'm partial to these stories of groups of high school girls, though sadly none of my 'Spoons' are probably reading these entries these days.)

Oh! I almost forgot to mention that one of the characters is an Emily. The three girls are Lydia Jaackson-Oberman, Emily Melissa-Anne Thompson, Cassie Aganovic.

The Amazon review says it well: "Moriarty's captivating comedy of manners reads like a breezy 21st century version of Jane Austen--with no end of ridiculous misunderstandings, angst-ridden speeches, and heartfelt make-ups. Female teen fans of Ann Brasheres' The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Megan McCafferty's Sloppy Firsts will waste no time swapping copies of The Year of Secret Assignments, with all their best buds." School Library Journal wrote: " The adventures of the friends are funny, exciting, and, at times, poignant as they deal with problems of growing up and developing relationships. This delightful book set in Australia is full of fun, engaging characters, and important messages about friendship." Booklist said: "There are a few coarse moments... and the story's myriad devices wear thin in places. But this is an unusual novel with an exhilarating pace, irrepressible characters, and a screwball humor that will easily attract teens, many of whom will yearn for madcap adventures and unshakably devoted friends like these." And Horn Book's starred review called it " ...fast and funny but not frothy...is complex, original, unpredicable enough that it's much more than guilty-pleasure read."

Here's a great list of Read Alkes from the King County Library System

Nothing But the Truth by Avi
Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett
Big Book of Bart Simpson by Matt Groening
Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman
All American Girl by Meg Cabot
The Year My Life Went Down the Loo by Katie Maxwell
Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen
Knocked Out By My Nunga-Nungas by Louise Rennison
Boy Meets Girl by Meg Cabot
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
Frozen Rodeo by Catherine Clark
Princess in Pink by Meg Cabot
Love Among the Walnuts by Jean Ferris

Ones from the list I've read already:
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 ¾ by Sue Townsend
Angus, Thongs and Full-frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

Posted by Emily at 04:34 PM | Comments (85)

YA35: Monster

Walter Dean Myers
HarperCollins, 1999
288 pages
audio version: 2hrs, 34 minutes (2 cassettes)

The story is written as the screenplay that 16-year-old Steve Harmon creates during his incarceration and trial for his participation in a felony-robbery. He attempts to reconstruct and reconfigure the events of the crime, trying to figure out if he is the "monster" the prosecutor has described him as. Its a disturbing tale from inside the justice system (I'd be interested to see how Dad would compare it to his juvenile prosecuting days)

2000 Coretta Scott King Honor Book, 2000 Michael L. Printz Award, 1999 National Book Award Finalist, 01 Heartland Award for Excellence in YA Lit Finalist, 00-01 Tayshas High School Reading List, and 00-01 Black-Eyed Susan Award Masterlist
2000 Best Books for Young Adults (ALA), Hornbook Fanfare 2000, Michael L. Printz Award 2000, 2000 Coretta Scott King Award Author Honor Book, 2000 Quick Picks for Young Adults (Recomm. Books for Reluctant Young Readers)

From Booklist: "Myers combines an innovative format, complex moral issues, and an intriguingly sympathetic but flawed protagonist in this cautionary tale of a 16-year-old on trial for felony murder." The Amazon review writes, "Steve is an adolescent caught up in the violent circumstances of an adult world--a situation most teens can relate to on some level. Readers will no doubt be attracted to the novel's handwriting-style typeface, emphasis on dialogue, and fast-paced courtroom action. By weaving together Steve's journal entries and his script, Myers has given the first-person voice a new twist and added yet another worthy volume to his already admirable body of work." From Kirkus: "The format of this taut and moving drama forcefully regulates the pacing; breathless, edge-of-the-seat courtroom scenes written entirely in dialogue alternate with thoughtful, introspective journal entries that offer a sense of Steve's terror and confusion, and that deftly demonstrate Myers's point: the road from innocence to trouble is comprised of small, almost invisible steps, each involving an experience in which a 'positive moral decision' was not made." School Library Jounral wrote: "Monster will challenge readers with difficult questions, to which there are no definitive answers. In some respects, the novel is reminiscent of Virginia Walter's Making Up Megaboy (DK Ink, 1998), another book enriched by its ambiguity. Like it, Monster lends itself well to classroom or group discussion. It's an emotionally charged story that readers will find compelling and disturbing."

discussion questions/reading group guide (pdf)

Posted by Emily at 04:19 PM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2005

YA34: Homecoming

Ok, for slightly younger kids (9-12) but it was great and I'm going to include it as a stretch (plus the series continues as Dicey gets older) I've seen lesson plans for grades 7-9, so it should count. I've been listening to it in the car for the last week and just finished the last tape yesterday afternoon. I'll definitely want to read the rest of the series once I'm done with the required reading for this class.

"Part survival tale, part family story, this classic on-the-road novel features a family of four brave children led by thirteen-year-old Dicey. Abandoned by their mother in the parking lot of a Connecticut mall, the Tillerman children make a long, dangerous trip to Maryland to find a home."

(part of the Tillerman series)
Cynthia Voigt

My classmates said I had to read this when I wrote about Izzy Willy Nilly on our class discussion board.

"A glowing book...An enthralling journey to a gratifying end."

The AudioFile review (since I was listening to the book in this form), says: Homecoming is one of those rare books for all ages part adventure, part family story, about people you grow to care about. Published for children, Homecoming and the other novels about the Tillerman family have become classics and favorites of both children and adults. Barbara Caruso’s narrative style is low-key, like the author’s, bit it grows on you. Her voice soon become an extension of the book rather than an intermediary. This is one of those wonderfully done recorded books which makes a traffic jam bearable and a long dull trip enjoyable."

Dicey's Song, the sequel to HOMECOMING, won the 1983 Newbery Medal.

There's a tv movie which would be interesting to see as well.

Posted by Emily at 03:03 PM | Comments (0)

March 12, 2005

YA33: Star Girl

Star Girl
by Jerry Spinelli
Knopf Books for Young Readers (New York: 2000)
186 pages

She was elusive. She was today. She was tomorrow. She was the faintest scent of a cactus flower, the flitting shadow of an elf owl. We did not know what to make of her. In our minds we tried to pin her to corkboard like a butterfly, but the pin merely went through and away she flew.
A wonderful story about non-conformity, friendship, high school pressures to fit in, finding someone who makes you look at the world differently... The official description reads: "In this story about the perils of popularity, the courage of nonconformity, and the thrill of first love, an eccentric student named Stargirl changes Mica High School forever."

PW described her as "Part fairy godmother, part outcast, part dream-come-true, the star of Spinelli's novel shares many of the mythical qualities as the protagonist of his Maniac Magee. Spinelli poses searching questions about loyalty to one's friends and oneself and leaves readers to form their own answers." Parents Choice calls it "a unique love story and humorous tragedy." Kirkus Reviews called it "a magical and heartbreaking tale." Booklist was much less forgiving: "Dialogue, plot, and supporting cast are strong: the problem here is Stargirl herself. She may have been homeschooled, may not have seen much TV, but despite her name, she has lived on planet earth for 15 years, and her naivete is overplayed and annoying."

An ALA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults
A Publishers Weekly Choice of the Year's Best Books

View a Booktalk from the Bensenville Community Public Library.

When the author was asked if he believes that people like Stargirl really exist or if she is a fantasy character," he replied that "Stargirl is as real as hope, as real as possibility, as real as the best in human nature. Outrageous? I hope so. Thank goodness for the outrageous among us. I wish I were more outrageous, less predictable, more unrealistic. I understand that the story carries a whiff of fantasy, of the tall tale. The story, and in particular the character, are intended to raise dust in the corners of credibility, to challenge our routine ways of seeing ourselves. When Archie says to Leo, 'She is us more than we are us,' he refers to both her essential humanity and to our own often unrealized potential." That's the appeal for me of course -- I wish I was unique and danced to my own drummer (or ukelele), but am really frightfully boring and conformist.

Ages 12-up, Gr 6-10

Here's a list of books you might like if you liked Stargirl (from Nancy J. Keane and Barrington PL)

    Ones I've read
  • Buddha Boy, by Kathe Koja
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
  • The Misfits by James Howe
  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
    Ones I haven't yet
  • Alice, I Think by Susan Juby
  • Amandine by Adele Griffin
  • Backwater by Joan Bauer
  • Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen by Dyan Sheldon
  • Dolores: Seven Stories About Her by Bruce Brooks
  • Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty
  • Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen
  • Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen
  • The Only Alien on the Planet by Kristen D. Randle
  • Razzle by Ellen Wittlinger
  • Rules of the Road by Joan Bauer
  • Squashed by Joan Bauer
  • Thwonk by Joan Bauer
  • What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones

Posted by Emily at 01:28 PM | Comments (2)

March 10, 2005

YA32: the perks of being a wallflower

perks_book.jpgthe perks of being a wallflower
Stephen Chbosky
MTV, 1999
256 pages

I hadn't even heard of this one, but someone mentioned it in class and I liked the title, so when I recognized it in the teen section at King I grabbed it and put it on my pile. Turns out it has been a huge smash hit (according to this review/interview, it has sold tons of copies, become a cult favorite and been the target of morality campaigns). It is the story of an emotional 15 year old boy experiencing the joys and pains of freshman year. Its told entirely in letters from August 1991-1992 (my senior year in high school like many of the characters) Through a young English teacher, he is given a number of books to read and write about over the year which are woven into the narrative of what's going on with his friends and family. The list of books include On the Road, Naked Lunch, The Stranger, This Side of Paradise, Peter Pan, A Separate Peace, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, Hamlet, Walden, and The Fountainhead (one blogger wrote that, "Despite its unbelievability, the lists are one of the most fascinating parts of the novel. It is full of lists of other books and of songs. The book is almost worth reading just for an exploration of the things listed therein and their functions within the narrative.")

Ouch though, the PW review is pretty harsh: "A trite coming-of-age novel that could easily appeal to a YA readership, filmmaker Chbosky's debut broadcasts its intentions with the publisher's announcement that ads will run on MTV." School Library Journal was more forgiving: "Grounded in a specific time (the 1991/92 academic year) and place (western Pennsylvania), Charlie, his friends, and family are palpably real. His grandfather is an embarrassing bigot; his new best friend is gay; his sister must resolve her pregnancy without her boyfriends support. Charlie develops from an observant wallflower into his own man of action, and, with the help of a therapist, he begins to face the sexual abuse he had experienced as a child. This report on his life will engage teen readers for years to come." Kirkus is mixed, writing: "Aspiring filmmaker/first-novelist Chbosky adds an upbeat ending to a tale of teenaged angst... the right combination of realism and uplift to allow it on high school reading lists, though some might object to the sexuality, drinking, and dope-smoking. More sophisticated readers might object to the rip-off of Salinger, though Chbosky pays homage by having his protagonist read Catcher in the Rye." ... and : "A plain-written narrative suggesting that passivity, and thinking too much, lead to confusion and anxiety. Perhaps the folks at (co-publisher) MTV see the synergy here with Daria or any number of videos by the sensitive singer-songwriters they feature."

I certainly couldn't put it down.

I found this old Time Magazine article that talks about the book:

Time, July 19, 1999 v154 i3 p79

Reads Like Teen Spirit: Edgy fiction is making literature "cool" again. (trends in young adult literature)(The Arts/Books)(Brief Article) David Spitz.

Charlie has issues. His favorite aunt passed away, and his best friend just committed suicide. The girl he loves wants him as a friend; a girl he does not love wants him as a lover. His 18-year-old sister is pregnant. The LSD he took is not sitting well. And he has a math quiz looming. Charlie is the high school freshman protagonist of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky, a 29-year-old screenwriter. Published by MTV, it is one of a new generation of novels geared toward teenagers, for whom such subjects are increasingly just part of growing up.

Young-adult novels, as the genre used to be called, still center on disenfranchised adolescents who could be direct descendants of Holden Caulfield. Now, though, says Stephen Roxburgh, president and publisher of Front Street Books, "the heat has been turned up." Front Street helped bring so-called bleak books to early teens in 1997 when it published one book set in a juvenile-detention facility (Adam Rapp's The Buffalo Tree) and another in which a 13-year-old sleeps with her mother's boss (Brock Cole's The Facts Speak for Themselves). They were followed by Melvin Burgess's even more graphic Smack, a British novel imported by Henry Holt, which details a middle-class 15-year-old's descent into the world of heroin addiction and prostitution.

These books and others that feature stark themes, complex plot lines and ambiguous resolutions are edging out the happy endings and conventional morals of the old-style teen "problem" novels, which would obsess over something like a divorce, or an accidental pregnancy, for 120 pages. "The formula has been broken," says Eliza Dresang, author of Radical Change: Books for Youth in a Digital Age.

Now in its fourth printing, The Perks of Being a Wallflower has developed a cult following since it was released in February. "It reminded me of me and my friends, totally and completely," a teen reader reported on an AOL message board. Said another: "I don't read books by choice too often, but I really loved this one."

Book merchants and publishers love it too. Amazon.com has designated a special area for teens online; chains like Borders and Barnes & Noble have begun to do the same in their stores (hint: look for teen racks near the coffee bar). To make the books more attractive to young people, publishers are printing them in larger sizes and illustrating their covers with bold colors and stylish graphics. They're also promoting the books on TV shows and in magazines that are popular with youngsters, as well as on websites.

Teen fiction may, in fact, be the first literary genre born of the Internet. Its fast-paced narratives draw upon the target demographic's kinship with MTV, which has a joint venture with Pocket Books, and with the Internet and kids' ease in processing information in unconventional formats. Smack is told by multiple narrators. Monster, the latest novel by veteran children's book author Walter Dean Myers, is recounted in the form of a screenplay. Louis Sachar's Holes, last year's Newbery and National Book Award winner about a boy erroneously sent to a juvenile detention center, shuttles between past and present.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is presented as a collection of letters the narrator has written to an unspecified recipient. Nearing the end of his freshman year, Charlie realizes what he likes about a certain book, and his description serves to explain the appeal of his own narrative: "It wasn't like you had to really search for the philosophy. It was pretty straightforward, I thought, and the great part is that I took what the author wrote about and put it in terms of my own life."

Teen books may not be able to compete with the visuals of The Matrix, but they do provide a few hours of what teens may need most: time to think. And there's nothing bleak about that.

Posted by Emily at 09:59 PM | Comments (1)

March 09, 2005

YA31: Blankets

Craig Thompson
Top Shelf Productions, Marietaa, GA: 2003
592 pages

Its hard to describe this book, so I'd recommend looking at a few of the sample pages here. Even then, it doesn't capture how captivating the story is. Its a memoir of the author, growing up in snowy Wisconsin in a fundamentalist Christian family, sharing a bed with his little brother, escaping into dreams and drawings, going off to church camp, falling in love, wondering about religion, trying to fit in, growing up, all the regular YA Lit themes. The art is wonderful and you get so swept up in it you almost forget the format entirely and its almost like you're dreaming it.

PW writes, "Thompson manages to explore adolescent social yearnings, the power of young love and the complexities of sexual attraction with a rare combination of sincerity, pictorial lyricism and taste. His exceptional b&w drawings balance representational precision with a bold and wonderfully expressive line for pages of ingenious, inventively composed and poignant imagery." School Library Journal explains, "Thompson himself is the protagonist, and this is his tale of growing up, falling in love (and realizing the physical and moral complications that can imply), discovering the texture and limits of his faith, and arriving at a point from which he can look back at those experiences. The snowy Midwest, peopled by overweight parents, hairy youths, and lovingly depicted younger siblings-including a respectfully and realistically treated minor character with Down syndrome-is energetically realized in Thompson's expressive lines and inking." A Booklist starred review agrees: "Eschewing the usual alt-comics cynicism, Thompson's evocation of high-school romance manages to be both romanticized and clear-eyed. His visual mastery shows in fluid line work, assured compositions, and powerful use of solid black areas and negative space. Weighing in at nearly 600 pages, this is a genuine graphic novel, with a universal appeal that suits it for any collection." Time calls it "Part teen romance novel, part coming-of-age novel, part faith-in-crisis novel and all comix, "Blankets" is a great American novel."

Posted by Emily at 03:24 PM | Comments (0)

March 07, 2005

YA30: Buddha Boy

A quick placeholder blog entry for this next YA book (before I rush off to grab a bite to eat with Julia before phone banking)

Buddha Boy: a novel
Kathe Koja
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 128 pages, paperback 117
Speak (Penguin), 2003

Grade 7-10

Posted by Emily at 04:02 PM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2005

YA29: Memoirs of a Bookbat

I thought I was scheduled to work today, but it looks like I'm not, so I'm going to try to take advantage of some extra found hours and catch up on my homework so I can meet up with Dad & Jane in SF tomorrow.

First off, another great YA book to add to the pile:

bookbat.jpgMemoirs of a Bookbat
Kathryn Lasky
Harcourt Brace & Company, San Diego: 1994
215 pages

I had enjoyed Kathryn Lasky's Star Split, but until I looked back on my blog entry just now I had forgotten that the author was a friend of Lisa's!

The official summary is that "Fourteen-year-old Harper, an avid reader, looks back on her life and realizes that her parents' public promotion of censorship has grown into a quest for control over her choices and decisions." She has to hide her books from her born-again fundamentalist parents, who move around the country crusading against unfit books in schools. It fits wonderfully in my "Books and reading - Fiction" subject heading goal and sprinkles in the children's books that help Harper get through her life (Brer Rabbit, Tom Sawyer, Narnia, Judy Blume, etc.)

Just that afternoon at the library storytime, Nancy had read a beautiful poem about a baby bat being born. It described bats' "sharp ears, their sharp teeth, their quick sharp faces." It told how they soared and looped through the night, how they listened by sending out what the poet called "shinging needlepoints of sound." Bats lived by hearing. I realized, standing in front of Nettie right then, that when I read I am like a bat soaring and swooping through the night, skimming across the treetops to find my way through the densest forest in the darkest night. I listen to the shining needlepoints of sound in every book I read. I am no bookworm. I am the bookbat. (31-32)
PW explains, "In this very smart (and somewhat acerbic) book, Newbery honoree Lasky ( Double Trouble Squared ; The Night Journey ) combines fictional characters with real-life authors and religious groups (such as Operation Rescue) to create a credible and entertaining story of an emerging independent thinker." School Library Journal was less impressed, calling it "a problematic story with a cast of disappointing, one-dimensional characters and a plot that misses the mark." Booklist agress, writing: "Thinly disguised as a novel, this is an essay about the danger of the religious Right. Characterization is minimal: the fundamentalists are all caricatures of fools and villains. The free-thinking teenage narrator looks back at her life with her weird, religious parents and sees that reading books has made her wise and humane and broad-minded; even as a young child, she learned from Brer Rabbit to be cunning and to hide the books her parents crusaded against." Kirkus hit closer to how I felt about the book, writing: "Lasky's obvious sympathies are sure to strike a responsive chord among the like-minded; her many specific references to children's literature enrich Harper's accessible first-person narrative. " Ages 12-up, Grade 6-9

It would be great in a display of censorship/intellectual freedom/Bill of Rights/decision making/family & duty related books. From Hinton to Hamlet also puts it in the categories of "The Wise Old Woman or Man. This figure protects or assists the character in facing challenges." -- Harper's grandmother and various authors serve in this role -- and "The Hero. The main character leaves his or her community to go on an adventure, performing deeds that being honor to the community. The journey of the hero." The book, Using Literature to Help Trouble Teenagers Cope with Identity Issues includes the chapter "Identity through Self-Awareness: Kathryn Lasky's Memoirs of a Bookbat." I can imagine, however, that the book would not be popular among certain groups.

Posted by Emily at 10:44 AM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2005

YA27 & 28: Buried Onions and Whirligig

buriedonions.jpgBuried Onions
by Gary Soto
Harper Collins, 1997
149 pages

Nineteen year old Eddie lives in Fresno, has dropped out of school where he was supposed to be studying air conditioners, and just wants to escape from his world of gangs and violence and keep a job, put food on the table and lead a normal life. Try as he might to stay out of the trouble around him, breaking free seems impossibly hard.

Joni's Booktalk

Booklist explains, "The 'buried onions,' which Eddie imagines as the underground source for the world's tears, pervade the tone and plot, but the unvarnished depiction of depressed and depressing barrio life is as important as the positive images of Latinos Soto has created in his other works." PW writes, "This bleak, claustrophobic novel perfectly captures the cyclical despair of its [19-year-old, Hispanic protagonist]." School Library Journal writes that "Soto's descriptions are poetic, and he creates deep feelings of heat and despair. A powerful and thought-provoking read."

Ages 12+, Grade 9+

by Paul Fleischman
Dell Laurel-Left, New York: 1998

This one's probably going on the list of my favorites of the semester.

In Cat's Cradle, Vonneget wrote, "If you find your life tangled up with somebody else's life for no very logical reasons that person may be a member of your karass." Brent Bishop had read that book in English class and the term popped into his mind when sitting down to a game of Go at a shared campsite with a cyclist traveling from British Columbia. Your friends and family aren't part of your karass, he muses. You can't choose its members, and might never know who was in it or what its purpose was. Brent realizes that he is connected to the girl whose life he ended when driving drunk. And he realizes that everything one does -- good bad and indifferent -- sends a wave rolling out of sight, touching other lives, bringing some people together, tearing others apart. The girl's mother has asked him to travel to the four corners of the country and build whirligigs of a girl that looks like her so that people all over the country can receive joy from her even though she's gone. This is a novel connections and consequences, alternating between Brent's story and those of characters whose own lives are set in motion by his wind toys, long after he's passed through.

Joni's Booktalk

• A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
• An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
• A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
• A Booklist Books for Youth Editors’ Choice
• A Publishers Weekly Best Book

Posted by Emily at 03:30 PM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2005


summerland.jpgForgot to write this up the other day when I finished listening to it, but since I should probably bring it back to the library tonight when I go to work, I thought I should do it now.

Michael Chabon
500 pages
Miramax; 2002
Ages 9-12

I loved it. It started off slow and for a while I had forgotten why I had checked it out, but once the fantasy side of it came through I couldn't stop listening (10 tapes worth allowed for a lot of listening pleasure and many drives that seemed way too short).

PW writes, "Impressively, the author takes a contemporary smalltown setting and weaves in baseball history, folklore and environmental themes, to both challenge and entertain readers. Images of the icy Winterlands and beasts like the werefox and Taffy the motherly Sasquatch recall C.S. Lewis's Narnia and some of Philip Pullman's creations in His Dark Materials. Devotees of the genre and of America's pastime will find much to cheer here. All ages." School Library Journal, which recommends it for grades 5+, writes ". Readers will identify with Ethan and his motley crew with their insecurities, longings, family problems, and their sometimes clumsy ingenuity. Packed with magic, adventure, myth, and America's favorite pastime, this book will enchant its audience." Booklist says, "Committed fantasy buffs are a breed apart, but even they will have to bring their A-games if they expect to digest this ingredient-rich plot. (Certainly, only the most precocious of kids will be able to get around on Chabon's mythic fastball.) Still, there is a good story here, semi-buried beneath the world building; maybe a trimmed-down, three-hour movie will salvage it for the more mundane among us."

Posted by Emily at 03:59 PM | Comments (0)

February 28, 2005

YA26: Izzy Willy-Nilly

Izzy Willy-Nilly
Cynthia Voigt
Simon Pulse, New York: 1986
Paperback, 280 pages

This was a really incredible book and, like much of the YA gems, extremely depressing. You know it will be from the cover, which clearly warns that "One drunk driver changed her life forever..." But it is wonderfully told and Izzy is a great character, as is her outspoken friend Rosamunde who helps her deal with what has happened and how she has changed. I would definitely recommend it -- and will probably put it on my top ten list for the class, but keep the kleenex box nearby.

Publisher's Weekly called it "one of the Newbery Medalist's most poignant novels." School Library Journal said, "No one will be able to finish this story without understanding the psychological trauma an amputee faces." Booklist said that it "Conveys a keen understanding of the physical practicalities involved in coping with a handicap." And Kirkus said that "Voigt has a gift for writing books that are impossible to put down, not because of breathtaking plots but because her characters so involved the reader in their inner lives.  This is a penetrating look at some real people.  Izzy is a winner."

Not to slight the actual issue the book addresses, but I feel the reviews focus too much on the amputation and not enough on the transformation Izzy goes through internally. The book is about friends and family and perceptions and depression and life -- and while you may not think you'd identify with a girl who has lost her leg in a car accident, it addresses a lot of the deep, universal issues that these great YA novels tackle in a very accessible way.

Ages 12+, Grades 6-9

Mom will be pleased to know that the author, Cynthia Voigt, is a Smithie ('63) and grew up in Southern CT (not sure where, and she went off to boarding school in MA anyway I think, but some of her other books take place around Bridgeport and elsewhere in the state).

If I have time this semester I'd definitely add another of her books to my list.

Posted by Emily at 03:32 PM | Comments (6)

February 23, 2005

YA25: Alphabet of Thorn

This is probably more of an adult book, but I'm going to include it in my database anyway (and hope that I manage to read more than the bare minimum required so a few stretches will be overlooked) School Library Journal writes "This belongs in most fantasy collections and is suitable for both adult and YA readers." And some of Patricia McKillip's other books are in the children's section. I had originally seen the title on some teen reading list that now I can't find, and when I realized it featured a library I immediately sought it out.

alphabetofthorn.jpgAlphabet of thorn
Patricia A. McKillip
New York : Ace Books, 2004.
314 p

Nepenthe now 16 years old, was orphaned as an infant on a cliffside and adopted by the royal librarians of the kingdom of Raine (they had a tradition of taking in abandoned children and were up to the letter N when they found her). She is given a book to translate (in a language of strange thorns) and finds it drawing her in and revealing more than she ever would have expected. A new, young queen has been crowned and challenges face the realm from unexpected sources. Magic, stories, language, love whirl around in this book that I just couldn't put down and didn't want to end (it did end a bit abruptly I thought).

Posted by Emily at 08:12 PM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2005

Francesca Lia Block in NY Times

Francesca Lia Block, author of those Weetzie Bat books I loved so much, is featured in a big article in the NY Times:

Writing Frankly, Young-Adult Author Pushes Limits
Published: February 23, 2005

This summer she will publish "Necklace of Kisses," another Weetzie novel, but this time for adults, about a troubled marriage. Now, Weetzie is in her 40's and her children are in college. After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, her relationship with her boyfriend is troubled. Weetzie goes to a magical pink hotel where she encounters a mermaid who kisses her and starts her on the way to healing. ... She has at least two more young-adult books on the way, she said, and two more for adults.
"How can I tell you this without sounding too crazy, too West Coast?" she asked, with a laugh. "I believe life is infused with magic. I believe in creativity and art as experiences of magic. I do."
Posted by Emily at 06:57 PM | Comments (1)

February 18, 2005

YA24: The Second Summer of the Sisterhood

secondsummer.jpgThe Second Summer of the Sisterhood
Ann Brashares
Delacorte Press, New York, 2003
373 p

I meant to just read a little bit of this and then do some other homework and/or go to bed early so I'd be ready for class tomorrow, but this was one of those books I just couldn't put down.

This is the sequel to The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and takes place the following summer. I wasn't sure that it could live up to the first one, but I fell right into it and ended up crying quite a bit. I may need to wait until I finish enough books for my class project before I can read #3, but it is definitely now on my list.

My teacher today said that she felt that the audio version was even better, so I might have to add that to the list too (though I am very much enjoying Summerland in my car now)

Posted by Emily at 10:13 PM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2005

YA23: Wizards of the Game

wizardsofthegame.gifOk, for slightly younger than YA's, but I'm counting it anyway -- and felt I deserved a nice fluffy one after Fallen Angels.

In Wizards of the Game, Mercer Dickensen spends all his free time playing a fantasy role-playing game and runs into some _real_ wizards along the way that need his help. Add in religious fanatics protesting the game to the school board, a cute popular girl, a would-be witch, a roomful of paper-mache monsters, and all of a sudden you almost wish it was still just a game.

I tried to give it to a kid the other day since he was looking for InkHeart and other light fantasy (and this was next to Inkheart in the to-be-shelved cart). I took it home because it made me think of Eduard and all those Magic games and tournaments. And then I started it yesterday because some people were talking about RPGs in the staff room Tuesday night at the library and I was telling these two teenage girls about how I had briefly played Robotech in high school... but mainly because I was the only girl with all these cute -- if geeky -- guys (but I was a geek too, so it worked for me). Anyway, I enjoyed it. Its not a must-read, but it was fun.

Wizards of the Game
David Lubar
Philomel Books (New York) 2003

Ages 9-12, Grade 5-8

Posted by Emily at 05:52 PM | Comments (0)

YA22: Make Lemonade

I really do like listening to books in the car -- I'm making a bit of progress on my homework, I don't have to feel guilty that I should be doing some other work at the time, and I've avoided listening to any of the terrible things going on in the world for little stretches at a time (I try to catch a bit of NPR anyway so I don't go through withdrawl, but the car rides go by much faster when I'm not weighted down by real news).

So today on the way to work I finished up listening to:

Make lemonade [sound recording]
by Virginia Euwer Wolff
New York : Listening Library, p2002.
Read by Heather Alicia Simms

Its the story of two teenager girls -- 14-year-old LaVaughn who is saving money to go to college by babysitting, and 17-year-old Jolly who has dropped out of school and is trying to raise two little kids on her own.

I'm going to have to go back and read it though as well, since the Publishers Weekly review writes, "Poetry is everywhere, as Wolff proves by fashioning her novel with meltingly lyric blank verse in the voice of an inner-city 14-year-old." It was wonderful to listen to, but I bet it would be to read as well. It sounded almost like poetry but I didn't even realize it was written that way. Already its going to be one of my favorites of the YA books on my list and now I'll have to go check out the other two in the trilogy...

Ages 11-14

Posted by Emily at 03:11 PM | Comments (0)

February 09, 2005

YA21: Fallen Angels

fallenangels.gifIn contrast to the last YA book on the list, there was definitely nothing light and fluffy about this one. Yet it is an amazing book and I could see it appealing to teenagers. I certainly never would have picked it up if it wasn't required, but it is one that will stick with my for a long long time.

Fallen Angels
Walter Dean Myers
Point, Scholastic, 1988

Coretta Scott King Award, 1989

I barely know what to blog about it. Its the story of Richie Perry, a 17 year old from Harlem who ends up fighting deep in the boonies of Vietnam trying to make sense of what's going on, but mostly just trying to get out of there alive.

Its one of those books that I wish I had finished early enough in the day to go to the movies afterward so I can displace some of the images still floating around in my mind.

I thought I was signed up to work tonight, but must have had the date wrong and since I had a free evening I thought I'd polish it off. I would have been finished earlier but got slightly distracted setting up a character in Second Life so I can participate in one of the events scheduled for OSN2005 where we're all going to meet up at someone's part of that virtual world and hang out online. The conference attendee list is up to 340 and people have already begin to have some really interesting conversations there!

Posted by Emily at 07:46 PM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2005

The Evolution of the American Academic Library Building

I know, it sounds pretty boring, but I actually really liked it and found it fascinating! Needless to say, this was required reading for my Library Buildings seminar.

evolutionofaalb.gifThe Evolution of the American Academic Library Building
David Kaser
Scarecrow Press Inc, 1997

It was really interesting to see how library building design has evolved over time as changes in education, styles, funding sources, technology, building materials, etc. shaped them. I'll have to discuss it with Margaret and Alan to see what they think of it.

I actually learned quite a bit about the Amherst Library in the book and decided to dig around on the website to see what else I could find. There's a great photograph on their history page showing the inside of the original Morgan Library. And one of the reading room. Apparently, among academic institutions before the Civil War, their's was the only library built in the simple rectangular style with perimeter shelves that was popular in European libraries of the time (3). The library opened in 1853 and in 1857 housed 12,000 volumes (to William's 7,200) The library was only open for service three hours/week (to William's 2) (ok, ok, Harvard had 74,000 and was open 28 hours a week in 1857). According to Kaser:

In both its exterior appearance (neither Classical nor Gothic but Italianate) and its internal use of space (perimeter wall shelves), Morgan Library differed from its contemporties. Superseded as the College library when the Converse Memorial building was opened in 1917, Morgan Hall today houses College offices. (19-20)

Morgan Hall now houses the Departments of American Studies, Anthropology and Sociology (and also houses a copy of Dad's thesis). Here's a photo c. 1885 of the outside of Morgan Library and another of the stacks.

Here's a photo from inside of Converse Library and of the outside. Converse Hall now has administrative offices and the Red Room (renamed after I graduated to something else I think) where Auban and I used to sit and knit during student government meetings.

To add to the list of influential Amherst librarians, the book mentions William Isaac Fletcher who wrote an influencial essay in the American Architect on October 27, 1888 to help bridge the growing tension between librarians and architects over design of stacks, etc. I'm not entirely sure what he meant when he wrote that some librarians were "perhaps a trifle long-haired"? (48-49) It is also noted that Amherst carpeted its library in 1964 (I had no idea that carpet was such a significant innovation in the library world!) (122)

Frost Library, which the book doesn't mention, was completed in 1965 (photo of the construction.) The library now seems to have more than 1,003,887 volumes and more than 575,177 other media materials.

(and I didn't know that there was a library school there in the summers from 1891 to 1905!)

Posted by Emily at 07:49 PM | Comments (83)

February 03, 2005

YA20: Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging

angus.gifOne of the YA Librarians I work with recommended this one, but I have to say I really didn't like it. There were some very funny laugh-out-loud moments, but overall I just didn't click with it at all. Its billed as "a younger bridget jones," (or worse, a combination of Adrian Mole and Bridget Jones) and is the diary of 14 year old Georgia Nicolson, a British school girl discovering the joys of teenage life.

Angus, thongs and full-frontal snogging : confessions of Georgia Nicolson
HarperCollins; 1st American ed edition (May 31, 2000)
256 pages

Of course the School Library Journal review says, "It will take a sophisticated reader to enjoy the wit and wisdom of this charming British import, but those who relish humor will be satisfied," so perhaps I'm just not up to the challenge.

Books for the Teen Age 2001 (NYPL), Books for Youth Editor's Choice 2000 (Booklist), Top 10 Youth First Novels 2000(Booklist), 2001 Michael L. Printz Honor Book, 2001 Best Books for Young Adults (ALA), and 2001 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Readers (ALA)

Ages 11+, Gr 7-9

Posted by Emily at 08:40 PM | Comments (90)

January 31, 2005

YA19: The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

While I'm catching up on my book blogging here, I should record this one, which I listened to driving around last week (I'm becoming addicted to books on tape in the car - especially for these hour long drives - though I admit that the books I read and the ones I am listening to are starting to blur together a bit and I keep expecting the characters from the different stories to run into one another).

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
by Avi
Performed by Alexandra O'Karma

Thirteen year old Charolotte Doyle is a proper, well-brought up young lady from a respectable family who has been off at boarding school and is making the journey from England to join her family at home in Rhode Island. When her chaperones and anticipated travel companions fail to show up, she finds herself the only passenger (and only female) on a troubled ship on the brink of mutiny.

School Library Journal writes: "On a long, grueling journey from England to Rhode Island in 1802, a 12 year old changes from a prim and proper girl to a swashbuckling mate of a mutinous crew and is accused of murder by the captain. Awash with shipboard activity, intense feelings, and a keen sense of time and place, the story is a throwback to good old-fashioned adventure yarns on the high seas."

Newbery Honor Book -- 1991
Gr 5-8, Ages 12+

Great fun! I do love a good spunky heroine who isn't afraid to challenge the bounds of her life, trade her skirts in for sailor's pants and [insert appropriate nautical terminology here, something about rigging and climbing and such :)]

Posted by Emily at 10:43 PM | Comments (1)

YA18: Big Mouth and Ugly Girl

bigmouth.jpgI'll admit I picked this one because the cover and title intrigued me, but then I read the back at some point and decided not to try it (something about school shootings i thought). Then, the other day after my shift at the library I thought I'd pick up a tape for the drive and saw it again. When I saw that it was being read by Hilary Swank and Chad Lowe, I knew I had to give it a try. A friend wrote a review dismissing the author's style, and I'm not sure I would have liked the book as much if I was reading it. But having it performed was completely captivating, and its made the last six hours of driving just fly by. I reached the end of the last tape on the way home from work today and really missed hearing it (not to mention my NPR station is doing pledge breaks, which get old really fast even if you are a loyal supporter).

Big Mouth & Ugly Girl
Joyce Carol Oates
New York : HarperTempest, 2002

Big mouth & ugly girl [sound recording]
Joyce Carol Oates
New York : HarperCollins Publishers, p2002

Set in a suburban high school in the post-Columbine world where jokes can get you in a world of trouble, Matt Donaghy's big mouth does just that. Ursula Rigg, warrior woman basketball star calling herself "Ugly Girl" and not caring about what other people think, steps in to defend Matt (who was only joking) and the two become friends. The chapters alternate between the two of them, sometimes using emails back and forth, and we learn about their lives, their friends, their families and the growing friendship.

PW says: "Readers will relate to the pressures these two experience, both at school and from their parents, and be gratified by their ability to emerge the wiser." School Library Journal: "Oates has a good ear for the speech, the family relations, the e-mail messaging, the rumor mills, and the easy cruelties waiting just beneath the veneer of civility. Matt's character and especially the heroic Ursula's are depicted with a raw honesty. Readers will be propelled through these pages by an intense curiosity to learn how events will play out. Oates has written a fast-moving, timely, compelling story." The AudioFile review claims: "Screen celebs Hilary Swank and Chad Lowe deliver alternating chapters in perfect counterpoint, superbly capturing the divergent emotional journeys in affect, tone, and pacing." Booklist's Starred Review finds: "Distinguished novelist Oates' first young adult novel is a thought-provoking, character-driven drama about the climate of hysteria created by school violence in America, and how two teenagers find the courage to fight it and to find themselves in the process."

Ages 13-up. Grade 8+

Posted by Emily at 10:25 PM | Comments (0)

YA17: The Misfits

I was supposed to be working at The Tech tonight, but so many of us showed up that they really didn't need me and one of the other volunteers convinced me that I had enough on my plate and should go home. So I took advantage of a surprise free evening and polished off another book for class (and had a very nice conversation with Carrie about her recent adventures.)

misfits.jpgThe Misfits
James Howe (author of the Bunnicula books)
New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2001.
274 p.

A very nice, seventh grade friendship book -- four best friends: Bobby Goodspeed (who tells the story), Joe Bunch, Addie Carle, and Skeezie Tookis, who are seventh graders at Paintbrush Falls Middle School in upstate New York decide to start a third party and run for student government on a platform to eliminate name calling (the No-Name Party). Each of them has been called their share of names in their life (the lists they make are amazing examples of middle school cruelty). Their campaign slogan: "Sticks and stones may break our bones, but names will break our spirit."

Ages 11 to 13

"Kids who get called the worst names oftentimes find each other. That's how it was with us. Skeezie Tookis and Addie Carle and Joe Bunch and me. We call ourselves the Gang of Five, but there are only four of us. We do it to keep people on their tows. Make 'em wonder. Or maybe we do it because we figure that there's one more kid out there who's going to need a gang to be a part of. A misfit, like us." (p. 13)

I loved that the group met weekly at the ice cream parlor to discuss important issues (and kept minutes), I loved that Bobby says things like he doesn't give a fig newton about something or swears on a stack of pancakes.

Posted by Emily at 10:05 PM | Comments (8)

January 30, 2005

YA16: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

sisterhoodpants.jpgThis is another one of those books that I almost didn't read because it seemed too popular and overdone. I hate when I do that, because I almost always finally break down and read the book and absolutely love it. Had I just given in the first time I saw it, I wouldn't be the last on the planet to figure it out. Oh well.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Ann Brashares
320 pages
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
September 2001

I loved this! Four best friends, spending their first summer apart, discover a pair of jeans that seem to magically look amazing on all four of their very different body types and use the jeans as a way of keeping in touch and being together even when they have to be apart. They make up a crazy list of rules and mail the jeans to each other all summer long, promising to record the adventures they bring to them. They all learn a lot about themselves and relationships to others over the summer of course (this being YA fiction there's death, divorce, sex, etc.) and really they are just great girls and have a really great friendship going.

Needless to say I checked out the sequel today, am looking forward to the newly released third book, and will definitely be lining up with the 13 year olds girls to go see the movie when it opens (with Amber Tamblyn from Joan of Arcadia as Tibby and Alexis Bledel from Gilmore Girls as Lena and America Ferrera from Real Women have Curves as Carmen -- how cool is that!) Off to check out the official web site...

Posted by Emily at 09:38 PM | Comments (4)

January 28, 2005

YA15: Hidden Talents

I found this author by reading his really funny VOYA column, "Where's Lubar" (pdf of the one I saw) and just had to give him a try.

Hidden Talents
David Lubar
213 pages
Tor Books, 1999

American Library Association “Best Books for Young Adults”
American Library Association “Quick Picks for Young Adults”

Wouldn't it be great to find out that all the trouble you were getting into was really caused by some special paranormal power and that you could learn to control it instead of letting it mess up your life?

This is an easy, quick read. I think even younger (9-12) kids would enjoy it. It features Martin Anderson, a 13 year old boy who gets shipped off to Edgeview Alternative school (after being kicked out of other schools and groups for mouthing off to teachers) and who figures out that his new friends are really quite special (Cheater is telepathic, Trash is telekinetic, Flinch is clairvoyant, etc.)

You can read the first chapter here if you'd like.

Posted by Emily at 07:02 AM | Comments (1)

January 24, 2005

YA14: The Amulet of Samarkand

Spinnity recommended this one a while back, and so I thought I'd give it a try. I didn't love it, but it is a very intriguing world (modern London with magicians running the county and djinnis at their summons, etc.) and I'd be willing to try the others in The Bartimaeus Trilogy (this was book #1)

The Amulet of Samarkand
by Jonathan Stroud
Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 464 pages
Miramax (September, 2003)

Off to a campaign meeting, more about this later...

Posted by Emily at 04:45 PM | Comments (1)

January 17, 2005

YA13: Chinese Handcuffs

chinesehandcuffs.jpgChinese Handcuffs
by Chris Crutcher
New York : Greenwillow Books, c1989.
ISBN: 0688083455
202 p.

My library system only had one copy down in Morgan Hill (where I'm working this Wednesday) but I found a used copy at the bookstore in Pentaluma and snatched it up while I had the chance since its one of the required readings for class. It has a lot of similarities to Crutcher's Whale Talk (also starring a super athlete who won't do the "patriotic" thing and play school sports, mostly to annoy the crazy coaches/principal) and is another really gripping, intense read. But boy, its heavy. First, most of the book is in the form of letters that Dillon Hemingway, age 16, is writing to his brother -- who committed suicide in front of him. And then there's "Jennifer Lawless, a star high school basketball player with a secret too monstrous to tell and too enormous to keep" -- which we're seeing all too much of in these teen books. Dillon's a great character -- too good to be true in many ways (and a load of trouble to those in authority) but you want to like him and want him to fix all the tremendously awful stuff going on. Ugh - I certainly understand why I didn't read these books as a teenager though.

There's an excerpt here if you want a taste.

PW called it "a weighty, introspective novel." In a less than flattering review, School Library Journal wrote, "There are enough plots here to fuel a soap opera for a year" and "There's a place in fiction for teenage problems, but surely not all in one novel."

ALA Best of the Best Books for Young Adults
Ages 12+, Gr 9-12

Posted by Emily at 06:29 PM | Comments (0)

January 16, 2005

YA12: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

curiousincident.jpgI finally got around to reading Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time -- yes, yes, many of you have been recommending it for months now. For any of you who have missed it completely, its a really interesting book told from the point of view of a 15-year-old with Asperger's syndrome in Swindon, England.

There's a nice review here, an interesting interview with the author here (where he compares the book to Pride and Prejudice) and its certainly been talked about a lot this past year. I really enjoyed it -- the character is really wonderful and it is really amazing to view the world through his eyes.

From Chapter 71 (the chapters are numbered in prime, rather than cardinal, numbers):

All the other children at my school are stupid. Except I'm not meant to call them stupid, even though this is what they are. I'm meant to say that they have learning difficulties or that they have special needs. But this is stupid because everyone has learning difficulties because learning to speak French or understanding relativity is difficult and also everyone has special needs, like Father, who has to carry a little packet of artificial sweetening tablets with him to put in his coffee to keep him from getting fat, or Mrs. Peters, who wears a beige-colored hearning aid, or Siobhan, who has glasses so thick that they give you a headache if you borrow them, and none of these people are Special Needs, even if they have special needs. (p. 43-44)

Posted by Emily at 08:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 14, 2005

We'll Always Have Parrots

parrots.jpgSo yes, I gave into the temptation and read We'll Always Have Parrots by Donna Andrews, a quick fun mystery starring Meg Langslow, blacksmith and amateur sleuth. This time, the adventures take place at a fan convention for the crazy sci-fi show that Meg's fiance Michael appears in, so the book is filled with all sorts of goofy fandom (plus flocks of parrots and monkeys running amuck in the hotel). Great fun!

I think I'd feel more motivated to get going on my reading for class if either of my professors for this semester would post the syllabi.

Posted by Emily at 05:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 13, 2005

Access Denied

accessdenied.jpgEndulged in some much-needed escapism this evening and polished off Donna Andrew's latest Turing Hopper adventure, Access Denied. I'm surprised I haven't blogged about this series before - either You've Got Murder (Apr 2003) or Click Here for Murder (Apr 2004). But its a great mystery series with a wonderful main character who is a sentient artificial intelligence so it has very cool computer stuff and a great set of characters and situations.

Now I really do have to go back to reading for class... though I did note that Owls Well That Ends Well, the next Meg Langslow mystery from Donna Andrews, comes out in April and We'll Always Have Parrots is still sitting here patiently on my pile... one more couldn't hurt... :)

Posted by Emily at 09:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 10, 2005

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

whitejacket_188.jpgAnother absolutely amazing, magical book that sucked me in completely and utterly. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. However, since it was 782 pages with complicated footnotes citing more fantastical magical stories and sources, it did take far longer than I expected to read it and I have been sadly neglecting my teen reading list (luckily classes don't start for another week or two.) I had seen the book in the stores months ago and had been tempted (by Neil Gaiman's review on the back claiming it as "unquestionably the finest English novel of the fantastic written in the last seventy years") but resisted given how heavy it would be to cart around.

In September Hanna wrote to say that it was wonderful -- and she is never wrong with her book suggestions (she even had had Pop send her a US copy because it came out in the states a couple of weeks before the UK version). I knew then that I was going to have to read it, yet it still took me until Mom carted it down to Florida (and then refused to cart it back so I was allowed to have dibs on it) that I finally got around to it, and it is definitely worth the wait!

Its the tale of two magicians -- the title characters of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell -- who are attempting to restore magic to England. It reads like historical fiction (the kind I love with real and magical characters intermingling) and has that wonderful stuffy English drawing room feeling that's irresistable in a good read.

There's a web site with some excerpts and extras and things if you're interested.

Posted by Emily at 08:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 27, 2004

YA11: The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents

On the plane to Florida, I read The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett. I've always meant to get around to reading more Terry Pratchett (the only one I've read was Good Omens by him and Neil Gaiman) so when I saw this one on the suggested reading list for class I wanted to make sure to add it to my pile. Its a fantasy, pied-piper kind of story, with a talking cat and some pretty smart rats.

The summary given for the book says, "A talking cat, intelligent rats, and a strange boy cooperate in a Pied Piper scam until they try to con the wrong town and are confronted by a deadly evil rat king." Publisher's Weekly explains that, "For this outrageously cheeky tale, British writer Pratchett pairs a dynamite plot with memorable characters a group of intelligent rats sporting such monikers as Hamnpork, Big Savings and Darktan (they've been foraging in the University of Wizards' garbage dump and come up with "the kind of name you gave yourself if you learned to read before you understood what all the words actually meant"), plus a "stupid-looking kid" with a flute and a criminal kitty mastermind named Maurice." School Library Journal calls it a "laugh-out-loud fantasy" and suggests that "Readers who enjoyed Robert C. O'Brien's Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (Atheneum, 1971) and Richard Adams's Watership Down (Macmillan, 1974) will love this story."

I enjoyed it -- its a really easy, accessible fantasy. If you don't like talking animal books, this one probably isn't for you. For some reason the rats growing awareness of morals and ideas and maps and things (they learned to think after eating something from a wizard's garbage pile) reminded me of the conversation the whale in Hitchhiker's has as he's falling to earth ("Calm down, get a grip now ... oh! this is an interesting sensation, what is it? It's a sort of ... yawning, tingling sensation in my ... my ... well I suppose I'd better start finding names for things if I want to make any headway in what for the sake of what I shall call an argument I shall call the world, so let's call it my stomach.").... but that may just be me.

There are some scary scenes in the final battle against the evil rat king and giant rats, which is why this is probably rated as a YA rather than a kids book.

Winner of the 2001 Carnegie Medal, Gr 7 Up, Ages 12+

Posted by Emily at 11:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 23, 2004

YA9&10: Whale Talk & I am the Cheese

Two more books for the teen pile this week:

iamthecheese.jpgI Am the Cheese : a novel
by Cormier, Robert.
[New York] : Pantheon Books, c1977.
233 p.

My opinion of this book was probably not helped by reading it while feeling sick, but its not one of my favorites of the bunch -- and psychological thrillers are not really my cup of tea anyway. In this one, "A young boy desperately tries to unlock his past yet knows he must hide those memories if he is to remain alive." It has received a ton of awards, including being an ALA Notable Children's Book; An ALA Best Book for Young Adults; A Horn Book Fanfare Honor Book; A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year; and A New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year. School Library Journal called it "A horrifying tale of government corruption, espionage, and counter espionage told by an innocent young victim...the buildup of suspense is terrific."

It reminded me of the really disturbing Buffy episode where she wakes up in a mental institution and can't tell if that's the hallucination or if her whole life being a vampire slayer is the fiction and life in the institution is the reality.

whaletalk.jpgWhale Talk
by Crutcher, Chris.
New York : Greenwillow Books, c2001.
220 p.

This is one that I really liked. I liked the main character TJ and his quest to form a swim team of the most unlikely characters. I'm looking forward to reading Crutcher's autobiography, King of the Mild Frontier : an Ill-Advised Autobiography (which is also on my class reading list and which luckily was in at the library tonight... but then I left it at the reference desk, doh)

The description given of this book is that: "Intellectually and athletically gifted, TJ, a multiracial, adopted teenager, shuns organized sports and the gung-ho athletes at his high school until he agrees to form a swimming team and recruits some of the school's less popular students." The more touchy-feely review includes that, "Together they'll fight for dignity in a world where tragedy and comedy dance side by side, where a moment's inattention can bring lifelong heartache, and where true acceptance is the only prescription for what ails us."

Posted by Emily at 07:37 PM | Comments (0)

December 21, 2004

YA8: The Canning Season

canningseason.jpgNext up, The Canning Season by Polly Horvath
196 pages
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003
National Book Award Young People's List ; 2003

In The Canning Season, thirteen-year-old Ratchet Clark "finds herself summarily shipped off to a remote, bear-infested corner of the Maine coast, where distant nonagenarian twin cousins live in unprecedented eccentricity." (Publisher's Weekly) They are joined by another unwanted teenage girl named Harper and the girls are treated to wild and wacky stories and bring new life into the old house. School Library Journal explains, that "The approaching canning season becomes not only a metaphor for that moment in each life when everything is ripe, but also provides Ratchet with the self-confidence found in working with others and with a means to support herself."

There's a wonderful sense of finding where you belong, what you're good at and where you fit... and what's more wonderful sounding than a great old house in Maine with books and blueberries and waves and not worrying at all about the rest of the world (aside from the bears). I was definitely swept into the story, the characters and the wonderful setting. I'm ready to go and help with the blueberry jam!

I like the Amazon review which warns, "Though fairytale-like in its setting and its charm, do not be fooled. Suicide, decapitation, wretched mothers, and a sprinkling of profanity pepper this poignant, philosophical, darkly humorous novel that dips into subjects from technology to love to death. In Horvath's capable hands, readers are left believing in the best of human nature as she switches effortlessly from the sublime to the ridiculous and back again. Wild stories, brilliant dialogue, and vats of compassion distinguish Newbery Honor author Horvath's latest offering."

Its been compared to Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach

Gr 6-9, Ages 12+

Posted by Emily at 04:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Harry Potter, July 16

Yay! Something to look forward to!

"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is completed and has been delivered to my English-language publishers,'' Rowling said in a statement on her Web site dated Dec. 20. The book, which "takes up the story of Harry Potter's sixth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,'' will be released on July 16 in the U.S., Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, Bloomsbury said today in an e-mailed statement. Bloomsburg.com

More at http://www.jkrowling.com


Posted by Emily at 08:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 14, 2004

Chasing Vermeer

chasingvermeer.jpgFinished Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett (Scholastic Press, New York: 2004) last night and absolutely loved it. Its a wonderful mystery/adventure starring two smart sixth graders and is filled with art, puzzles, codes, secret hiding places and all sorts of other exciting things. Its gotten quite a bit of hype (calling it the The DaVinci Code for kids) and I've been meaning to check it out for a while now (finally broke down and bought it).

Publisher's Weekly writes, "Puzzles nest within puzzles in this ingeniously plotted and lightly delivered first novel that, revolving around the heist of a Vermeer painting, also touches on the nature of coincidence, truth, art and similarly meaty topics." And "The art mystery and the crisp intelligence of the prose immediately recall E.L. Konigsburg, but Balliett is an original: her protagonists also receive clues through dreams, pentominoes (math tools with alphabetic correspondences), secret codes (including some left to readers to decipher) and other deliberately non-rational devices... Thick with devilish red herrings, this smart, playful story never stops challenging (and exhilarating) the audience." The Amazon description adds, "In the classic tradition of E.L. Konigsburg’s From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, debut author Blue Balliett introduces readers to another pair of precocious kids on an artful quest full of patterns, puzzles, and the power of blue M&Ms." What could be better than that?

Ages 8-12 (but that shouldn't stop you from enjoing it too)

Posted by Emily at 08:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 10, 2004

YA7: Holes

holes.jpgThis is another one that's been on my list for ages (since kids come in and ask for it all the time), and I finally got around to reading it yesterday (its quick). Holes by Louis Sachar.

The book won the Newbery Medal in 1999 and was on the National Book Award Young People's List in 1998.
And of course there is the Disney Movie which I haven't seen yet but will probably track down now that I've finally read the book (the cast does not look at all how I imagined them though, but I bet Sigourney Weaver is great as the Warden with her rattlesnake venom nail polish!)

Description: "Stanley Yelnats is under a curse. A curse that began with his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather and has since followed generations of Yelnats. Now Stanley has been unjustly sent to a boys' detention center, Camp Green Lake, where the warden makes the boys "build character" by spending all day, every day, digging holes: five feet wide and five feet deep. It doesn't take long for Stanley to realize there's more than character improvement going on at Camp Green Lake. The boys are digging holes because the warden is looking for something. Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment--and redemption."

240 pages
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998.
Ages 10-up. Grade 5-8

I thought it was a great read. Its quick and easy and weaves in the tale of Stanley and the other kids sent to dig holes with the history of Stanley's family and that of a crazy Wild West outlaw. It deals with some of the same issues of being an outsider and bad things happening as the other YA books cover, but does it humorously and with charm. Publisher's Weekly starred review described it as a "dazzling blend of social commentary, tall tale and magic realism."

Posted by Emily at 08:11 AM | Comments (3)

December 09, 2004

YA6: Inkheart

inkheart.jpgI've been meaning to get to Inkheart by Cornelia Funke for a while now (part of my determination to work my way through the "Books and reading -- Fiction" and "Characters in literature -- Fiction" subject headings in the catalog), but its always checked out from the library with a waiting list of holds. I finally bought it the other day (since a percentage of my B&N purchases were going to a good cause.)

It was as good as I had hoped, and I couldn't put it down. Twelve-year-old Meggie lives with her father Mo, who repairs and binds books. Her life is turned upside down when a mysterious stranger she spots outside her house in the rain turns out to be a fictional character her father has "read" to life from a book nine years earlier -- the same time her mother had mysteriously disappeared as well.

From Publisher's Weekly: "Funke plans every exquisite detail: chapters begin with quotes from books such as The Wind in the Willows, setting the stage for this book about books, and bookworms will appreciate the opportunities to identify with the characters (e.g., Dustfinger does not want to learn the ending of Inkheart, both Mo and Elinor warn Meggie of the dangers of fire to those who surround themselves with pages, etc.). Meggie makes a triumphant heroine and in the end discovers her own secret talent. Funke once again proves the power of her imagination; readers will be captivated by the chilling and thrilling world she has created here."

Inkheart / Cornelia Funke ; translated from the German by Anthea Bell.
by Funke, Cornelia Caroline.
New York : Scholastic, 2003. 534 p.
Ages 11-15

Posted by Emily at 09:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 04, 2004

YA5: I Was a Teenage Fairy

teenagefailry.jpgFrom the author of Weetzie Bat (now one of my all-time favorite books):

I Was a Teenage Fairy
Francesca Lia Block
HarperCollins; 1998
192 pages

A tiny fairy winging her way through the jasmine-scented L.A. night. A little girl caught in a grown-up glitz-and-glitter world of superstars and supermodels. A too beautiful boy with a secret he can never share...

Its a wonderful tale of transformation and like in Block's other books, there are serious issues (in this one, Barbie's run in with a pedophilic photographer) but they are treated sensitively. Barbie is helped by Mab, "a pinkie-sized, magenta-haired, straight-talking fairy, who may or may not be real but who helps Barbie and Griffin uncover the strength beneath the pain, and who teaches that love--like a sparkling web of light spinning around our bodies and our souls--is what can heal even the deepest scars."

Posted by Emily at 08:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 30, 2004

Bee Season

Read Bee Season: A Novel by Myla Goldberg on the plane back yesterday. I've been meaning to get to it for ages, and finally checked it out of the library and took it along with me.

Eliza Naumann, a seemingly unremarkable nine-year-old, expects never to fit into her gifted family: her autodidact father, Saul, absorbed in his study of Jewish mysticism; her brother, Aaron, the vessel of his father's spiritual ambitions; and her brilliant but distant lawyer-mom, Miriam. But when Eliza sweeps her school and district spelling bees in quick succession, Saul takes it as a sign that she is destined for greatness. In this altered reality, Saul inducts her into his hallowed study and lavishes upon her the attention previously reserved for Aaron, who in his displacement embarks upon a lone quest for spiritual fulfillment. When Miriam's secret life triggers a familial explosion, it is Eliza who must order the chaos.

It wasn't exactly what I had expected -- since all I knew in advance was it was something about spelling bees (and I loved Spell Bound) but I definitely enjoyed it and it was perfect for a plane ride read.

Posted by Emily at 09:28 AM | Comments (0)

YA4: Speak

by Laurie Halse Anderson
197 pages

Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won't talk to her, and people she doesn't even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that's not safe. Because there's something she's trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth. This extraordinary first novel has captured the imaginations of teenagers and adults across the country.

The book is dripping with awards, including: A 2000 Printz Honor Book, A 1999 National Book Award Finalist, An Edgar Allan Poe Award Finalist, A 1999 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist, Winner of the SCBWI Golden Kite Award, An ALA Best Book for Young Adults, An ALA Quick Pick, A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, A Booklist Top Ten First Novel of 1999, A BCCB Blue Ribbon Book, A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, and A Horn Book Fanfare Title.

I liked it a lot -- its really funny even while dealing with a hard subject. The main character, Melinda Sordino, is very likable and while she stops speaking to most of the rest of the world, we still get to read what she's thinking and experience the problems of high school along with her.

My favorite line: "Just in case we forget that
'weareheretogetagoodfoundationsowecangotocollegeliveuptoourpotentialgetagoodjoblivehappilyeveradfterandgotoDisneyWorld,' we have a Job Day." (p. 52)

Grade 8/Age 12 and up

Posted by Emily at 08:57 AM | Comments (0)

November 26, 2004

YA 2&3: The Chocolate War and The Outsiders

2 classic YA books today:

chocolatewar.jpgThe Chocolate War
Robert Cormier
Knopf Books for Young Readers; 30th Annv edition (September 14, 2004)
272 pages
Originally published in 1974

outsiders.jpgThe Outsiders
S.E. Hinton
Puffin Books; Reprint edition (November 1, 1997)
180 pages
Originally published in 1967

The theme today seems to be high school boys getting beat up, but despite that I actually found that I enjoyed both books a lot.

The Chocolate War tells the story of Jerry Renault who refused to sell chocolates in the annual school fund-raiser and sets off an all-out war involving a secret school society, the Vigils. It deals with how hard it is to stand up to the pressure of high school and how awful and mean kids can be. Jerry goes from being a bit of a hero to an outcast and a scapegoat by the Vigils with pressure from the acting headmaster who is in way over his head with the chocolate sale. There's a sequel, Beyond the Chocolate War which I'll have to check out as well to see what happens to Jerry, Archie, Obie, and all the other characters we met in the first book.

You may know The Outsiders more from the 1983 Francis Ford Coppola movie starring Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe, Ralph Macchio and Patrick Swayze (which I'll now have to go rent). The book came out in 1967 and has been one of the best selling young adult books of all time. The story is told by Ponyboy Curtis who lives with his two older brothers Darrel 'Darry' Curtis and Sodapop Curtis. Along with their gang of friends (Dallas 'Dally' Winston, Johnny Cade, Keith 'Two-Bit' Mathews, and others) they are "Greasers," poor tough outsiders from the wrong side of town with long greased hair. Their rival gang, the rich "Socs" (Socials), like to beat up Greasers for fun, but Ponyboy comes to realize that they're just guys too -- and things are tough everywhere.

The best part of The Outsiders though was the additional Q&A at the end with the author, S.E. Hinton. She was 15 when she started writing the book, in response to a friend being beat up for being a greaser. I actually never would have guessed that the author was a woman, and apparently others felt that way too. Answering a question about why she uses her initials, she writes that her "publisher was afraid that the reviewers would assume a girl couldn't write a book like The Outsiders." She also talks about how shocking the book was at the time, responding that:

"I was pleased that people were shocked with The Outsiders came out. One of the reasons for writing it was that I wanted something realistic to be written about teenagers. At that time realistic teenage fiction didn't exist. If you didn't want to read Mary Jane Goes to the Prom and you were through with horse books, there was nothing to read. I just wanted to write something that dealt with what I saw kids really doing."

Update: Plus, I learned from Dan Woog at the party that one of the big experts on YA, Sarah Herz (who wrote From Hinton to Hamlet), used to be an English teacher at Staples!

Posted by Emily at 08:33 AM | Comments (18)

November 23, 2004

YA1b: Dangerous Angels

dangerousangels.jpgDangerous Angels
Francesca Lia Block
New York : HarperCollinsPublishers, c1998.
478 pages

This is a collection of five short books in one, including Weetzie Bat, so I didn't think it could count as a separate entry in set of YA books for class (but after reading the first one last week I knew I had to read everything else in the series immediately). Its wonderful and I could barely put it down. The first book, "Weetzie Bat", is still my favorite but the others add depth to the characters and show more love and loss and magic and all the other things I loved about the first one. Three of the other stories are about Weetzie's daughter Cherokee and her almost-daughter Witch Baby ("Witch Baby", "Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys", "Missing Angel Juan".) The final piece, "Baby Be-Bop," tells the story of Weetzie's friend Dirk. There are angels and ghosts, genies and magic spirits, but it feels somehow both real and solid at the same time. I love the writing style - it feels like it dances off the page.

I'm still very taken with this description of Weetzie's first kiss with her true love, My Secret Agent Lover Man (that's really his name).

A kiss about apple pie a la mode with the vanilla creaminess melting in the pie heat. A kiss about chocolate, when you haven't eaten chocolate in a year. A kiss about palm tress speeding by, training pink clouds when you drive down the String sizzling with champagne. A kiss about spotlights fanning the sky and the swollen sea spilling like teams all over your legs." (p. 29)

I've already made some of you read that (sorry) since I've been carrying the book around and showing that passage to anyone who asks me what I'm reading...

I love their crazy unconventional loving family, the food, the flowers, the clothing, the names, the words they use... I was definitely swept away by it.

Posted by Emily at 03:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 17, 2004

YA1: Weetzie Bat

Ok, for my class in the spring I'll be reading a whole bunch of Young Adult (YA) (aka teen) books. I thought I might as well get started with some of the ones on the list.

weetziebat.jpgLast night I thought I would just dip into Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block, but found myself reading the whole thing (its a small format, 113 page quickie) and absolutely loving it.

Of course it was published back in 1989 so I'm extremely behind the times (the amazon description reads: "Ten years ago Francesca Lia Block made a dazzling entrance into the literary scene with what would become one of the most talked-about books of the decade: Weetzie Bat. This poetic roller coaster swoop has been repackaged with a sleek new design and is available in both hardcover and paperback editions. Rediscover the magic of Weetzie Bat, Ms. Blocks sophisticated, slinkster-cool love song to L.A.the book that shattered the standard, captivated readers of all generations, and made Francesca Lia Block one of the most heralded authors of the last decade.")

So I checked the full set out from the library tonight, Dangerous Angels: The Weetzie Bat Books (one of the benefits of working on the adult side is that the teen collection is right in front of the reference desk) and can't wait to get started on it (I think I'll read Weetzie Bat again first because it was just amazing... I don't remember the last time I wanted to read a book again as soon as I got to the end).

Hmmm... Liz and Betty may be getting a few extra books for Hanukkah this year...

Posted by Emily at 11:20 PM | Comments (1)

Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age

enough.jpgFinished Bill McKibben's Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age last night.

I read his Age of Missing Information years ago and its one of my all-time favorites (that's the one where we watches EVERYTHING that is playing on all the cable channels for 24 hours -- that's A LOT of TV -- and compares what he learns from all of that to spending 24 hours outside, by himself, on the top of a mountain or something)

This book addresses issues of genetic engineering, robotics and nonotechnology. As the back says, "McKibben offers a celebration of what it means to be human and a warning that we risk the loss of all meaning if we step across that threshold." Its not a light read, but I wanted to tackle it (its been sitting in my pile since May according to my Amazon purchase records), especially with the new genetics exhibit at The Tech. It is definitely thought provoking and I'm really not sure what to make of it all.

Posted by Emily at 11:07 PM | Comments (0)

November 05, 2004

Survival Guide

via bookslut, The Bush Survival Guide: 200 Ways to Make it Through the Next Four Years Without Misunderestimating the Dangers Ahead, and Other Subliminable Stategeries (available for preordering):

From the Inside Flap

Here is the reality: Bush won; Kerry lost.

Here is your reaction: AA#RGH*HG@GHW&WGRWW!!?!

Here is your salvation: The Bush Survival Bible

Although many of you may try, you can’t really do anything about the election results. But you can do something about your postelection stress disorder. Here are 250 ways to help you get through the next four years. For instance:

• Are you suicidal? Here are 5 antidepressants to consider.

• Are you cold? Here are 6 reasons to love global warming.

• Are you ready to leave the country? Here are 7 countries to move to.

• Are you political? Here are 6 ways to get involved in local politics.

• Are you spiritual? Here are 9 prayers to get you through the night.

No matter who you are, no matter what you feel, there’s a solution for you. Yes, Bush won. But that doesn’t mean you have to lose. And remember, he can’t run for a third term. Just 1,461 days to go! Light a candle, don’t sweat the Bush stuff, and pray.

Posted by Emily at 09:24 AM | Comments (0)

November 04, 2004


codex.jpgSince reality's getting less and less appealing, I found myself eaten by another book, Codex by Lev Grossman. Its been sitting in my pile since July, but I finally got around to it and then, of course, couldn't put it down. Its another literary thriller to be filed along with The Rule of Four and The Da Vinci Code. Its part medieval book chasing and part computer role playing game, which is definitely appealing, but it doesn't entirely pull it off. I immediately disliked the main character at the start, but he did grow on me, which I suppose is worth something.

I'd love to find one of these exciting literary thrillers where the female character is the lead instead of the beautiful-young-scholar-sidekick for a change. Though I guess we'll always have Thursday Next at least.

Posted by Emily at 06:23 PM | Comments (0)

October 31, 2004

The Pearl Diver

pearldiver.jpgThank you Lisa for the new Sujata Massey book, The Pearl Diver, which I quickly gobbled up and finished yesterday. The reviews have been mixed, but its always good to get back to a character you've spent so many adventures with, and I've always liked Rei. I just hope that the Japanese government lets her back into the country so future books can take place there. This one was in DC, which -- while still fun -- isn't the best place for Rei. Lisa, what did you think of it?

Posted by Emily at 08:16 PM | Comments (32) | TrackBack

October 28, 2004

The Sunday Philosophy Club

sundayphilosophy.jpgThank you to Mom, who sent me Alexander McCall Smith (of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency fame)'s latest, The Sunday Philosophy Club. Like his other books, this is a light, quick read and I definitely enjoyed it. The main character/sleuth in this one is Isabel Dalhousie and it takes place in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The best part though is the note in the back that there's a new book in the Precious Ramotswe series coming out in the Spring of 2005, In the Company of Cheerful Ladies. Yay! And hopefully there will be more Isabel Dalhousie cases to come as well!

Posted by Emily at 04:45 PM | Comments (0)

October 22, 2004

Recent Reading

I'm behind in blogging books, so I'll try to catch up.

The Same Sea by Amos Oz (Harvest Books; 2002)
I don't usually read anything resembling poetry, but a friend lent me this book and I was immediately drawn in. Its part poetry, part prose, about a series of characters with intertwining lives. Publisher's Weekly calls it, "a meditation, a lamentation, a quest for meaning, a story of family love and of erotic longing, and a vibrantly poetic prose poem." Translated from Hebrew by Nicolas de Lange.

Seven-Day Magic
by Edward Eager (1962)
Couldn't resist rereading this one by the author of Half Magic (one of my all-time favorites.) In this one, five children end up with a magical library book which takes them on all sorts of exciting adventures. The author information mentions that "In each of his books he carefully acknowledges his indebtedness to E. Nesbit, whom he considered the best children's writer of all time --" so I decided to try one of those as well.

The Phoenix and the Carpet
Edith Nesbit
I checked out the tapes of this story to listen to in the car, and its been a wonderful week of driving around lost in the adventures of the four children, the magical golden phoenix and the wishing carpet (plus it had the benefit of not having to listen to any bad news about the war or the election on the car radio for a whole week). It was wonderful, and definitely very much like the Eager books.

Posted by Emily at 07:10 PM | Comments (0)

October 16, 2004

Little Red Ink Drinker

Saw this on the new book display shelf here in the kids section at the Morgan Hill Library and couldn't resist.

Little Red Ink Drinker
by Eric Sanvoisin
Illustrations by Martin Matje

"Odilon and Carmilla love sucking up the ink in books with their twin straw. Especially the ink in adventure stories! But as they begin one of their favorite tales, it's the straw that sucks them in - and plops them right into the story..."

Definitely one to add to my pile of books about books... there are apparently a couple of others in the series, but they're checked out at the moment: The Ink Drinker, A Straw for Two, and The City of Ink Drinkers. In this one, the main characters get sucked into Little Red Riding Hood.

There's even this book club of ink drinkers at a school library in Southern CA. What fun!

This review from Salon calls the main character the "spiritual heir" of Milo in The Phantom Tollbooth (one of my all time favs of course):

Translated from the French, "The Ink Drinker" retains charming continental touches in its illustrations, which are strewn with appropriately unapproachable text. The sensibility is pure 8-year-old. "Eric Sanvoisin is one bizarre writer," boasts the author in his bio. "Using a straw, he loves to suck the ink from all the fan letters he receives ... If you write to him, he will send you a straw."

Sadly I can only find the author on this list of authors without web sites which is too bad because I defintitely would have written away for my straw.

Posted by Emily at 11:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 14, 2004

System of the World

systemoftheworld.jpgAfter what seems like an eternity, I have finally finished Volume Three of Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, The System of the World.

As Publisher's Weekly explains it:

The colossal and impressive third volume (after Quicksilver and The Confusion) of Stephenson's magisterial exploration of the origins of the modern world in the scientific revolution of the baroque era begins in 1714. Daniel Waterhouse has returned to England, hoping to mediate the feud between Sir Isaac Newton and Leibniz, both of whom claim to have discovered the calculus and neither of whom is showing much scientific rationality in the dispute. This brawl takes place against the background of the imminent death of Queen Anne, which threatens a succession crisis as Jacobite (Stuart, Catholic) sympathizers confront supporters of the Hanoverian succession. Aside from the potential effect of the outcome on the intellectual climate of England, these political maneuverings are notable for the role played by trilogy heroine Eliza de la Zour, who is now wielding her influence over Caroline of Ansbach, consort of the Hanoverian heir. Eliza has risen from the streets to the nobility without losing any of her creativity or her talents as a schemer; nor has outlaw Jack Shaftoe lost any of his wiliness. What he may have lost is discretion, since he oversteps the boundaries of both law and good sense far enough to narrowly escape the hangman. In the end, reluctant hero Waterhouse prevails against the machinations of everybody else, and scientific (if not sweet) reason wins by a nose. The symbol of that victory is the inventor Thomas Newcomen standing (rather like a cock crowing) atop the boiler of one of his first steam engines. This final volume in the cycle is another magnificent portrayal of an era, well worth the long slog it requires of Stephenson's many devoted readers.

It really is an amazing set of books and well worth the 2700+ pages, but it definitely sucks me in completely while I'm reading them and it is time to emerge back into the light, blink a few times, and get back to work on my paper and other actual work.

Posted by Emily at 06:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 17, 2004

Girls' Night In

girlsnightin.jpgI don't usually read short stories, but I couldn't resist picking up Girls' Night In which features chick lit shorts from authors like Jennifer Weiner, Sophie Kinsella, Meg Cabot, and more. Very satisfying :) and now I have a bunch of new authors to try out! Mom apparently has already read Jennifer Weiner's newest, Little Earthquakes and the film of In Her Shoes should be coming in 2005 with Cameron Diaz, Mark Feuerstein, and others.

Posted by Emily at 09:50 AM | Comments (2)

September 08, 2004

A Little Princess

A_Little_Princess.jpgBobbiLynn and I went and saw a brand new musical production of A Little Princess at Theatre Works in Mountain View tonight.

I had reread the book last weekend while I was in Iowa, and absolutely loved it. I don't really remember reading it as a kid, but knowing my Mom, I must have read it at some point. Its a wonderful story and the characters are memorable - Sara Crewe (with her doll Emily) is a bit too good to be true, but you want to believe in her and be a princess too.

The musical (which I discovered in reading some of the reviews beforehand) was extremely different from the book (somewhat similar in plot to what I remember from the Shirley Temple version, including a role for Queen Victoria) but transplants the action from India to West Africa.

I liked the production but it took most of the first act to shake off the frustration at having it be so different than what I had read and hoped to see. I hate being one of those grumpy you-aren't-following-the-book theater goers, and finally settled into being able to enjoy it for itself.

It was a long play and we stayed afterwards for Q&A with the artistic director and members of the cast, so its quite late!

Posted by Emily at 11:58 PM | Comments (3)

August 21, 2004

We the Media

wethemedia.jpgFinally finished Dan Gilmore's We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People this morning while at KTEH (I only work during the pledge breaks, so can sit and read during the shows). You may remember that I had purchased the book and had it signed when I was at the BlogOn Conference last month. I'm a big fan of Gilmore's and read his blog (or rather, subscribe to the rss feed for it) and enjoyed the book.

He writes that his "goal in this book has been to persuade you that the collision of journalism and technology is having major consequences for three consituencies: journalists, newsmakers, and the audience. The evidence seems persuasive that something big is happening." (237) In addition to talking about blogging and other technology, he covers a lot of the copyright and Big Media issues extremely well. He concludes that:

"Open systems are central to any future of a free (as in freedom) flow of information. Yet the forces of central control - governments and big businesses, especially the copyright cartel - are pushing harder and harder to clamp down on our networks. To preserve their business models, which are increasingly outmoded in a digital age, they would restrict innovation and, ultimately, the kinds of creativity on which they founded their own businesses. The danger in this is massive, but the public remains all too oblivious, in part because Big Media has failed to cover the story properly. I don't think that's a coincidence." (238)

There's a blog with additional info about the book at wethemedia.oreilly.com. I think the book's a must-read for any of us jumping into this medium as bloggers/readers of blogs, consumers/creators of news and people concerned about what's going on in the media. The book has even been published on the site in pdfs under a Creative Commons license so you can take a peak before you buy.

Posted by Emily at 01:37 PM | Comments (0)

More on depressing books

Back to discussing how depressing some kids books are (see our summer reading discussion from July 18), LIS News today points to a NY Times piece on Why Teachers Love Depressing Books. It discusses Barbara Feinberg's Welcome to Lizard Motel: Children, Stories, and the Mystery of Making Things Up, which I have sitting here on my pile of books to read soon.

From the article:

An avid reader growing up, I decided that there were two types of children's books: call it ''Little Women'' versus ''Phantom Tollbooth.'' The first type was usually foisted on you by nostalgic grown-ups. These were books populated by snivelers and goody-two-shoes, the most saintly of whom were sure to die in some tediously drawn-out scene. When the characters weren't dying or performing acts of charity or thawing the hearts of mean old gentlemen, they mostly just hung around the house, thinking about how they felt about their relatives.


Nevertheless, many kids do love these books. Perhaps they make certain readers, the ones who've grown up too fast, feel less alone and impart to others, the ones too eager to grow up, a frisson of the ''serious.'' The latter might well become teachers who insist that kids read books that make them cry. But there is no chemistry more subtle and combustible than the matching of reader with book; it just can't be standardized. Pair a ''Phantom Tollbooth'' kid with ''Little Women'' and the results will stink. You have to experiment until you get it right: that's the only formula for making a lifelong reader.
Posted by Emily at 07:46 AM | Comments (0)

August 17, 2004

Library Career Romances

kitsy.jpgVia Lady Crumpet today is a great site about Library Career Romance Novels with fantastic book jacket art that will be sure to appeal to Amytha and just priceless plot descriptions.

I've never read much in that genre, but Amytha and Julia are always championing it (and Amytha even has a trashy romance novel bookclub!) and I figure I should be somewhat aware in case I ever get to do reader's advisory...
Earlier this morning I was thinking about them when I saw the NY Times piece, 'Sorry, Harlequin,' She Sighed Tenderly, 'I'm Reading Something Else' on how Chick Lit and other genres are eating into romance novel sales.

Posted by Emily at 03:05 PM | Comments (0)

August 14, 2004

Something Rotten

somethingrotten.jpgUtterly utterly brilliant and wonderful! Just finished the latest Jasper Fforde, Something Rotten. This continues to be pretty much my all time favorite series and Thursday my all-time favorite literary character, hero and role model.

"Ah!" he said. "The ubiquitous Miss Next. LiteraTec, team manager, savior of Jane Eyre. Is there anything you can't do?"

"I'm not that good at knitting." (p. 328)

Then of course I had to rush right over to jasperfforde.com, enter the trip to Wales sweepstakes, check out all the extras and deleted scenes, and only barely resisted ordering myself a (rather overpriced) "Jurisfiction:Ever wanted to be in books?" tshirt. Its particularly funny that the secret code word is spelled differently in the newly released US version so we have to add an extra "e" to the end.

The best part? Apparently there will be another Jasper Fforde adventure in 2005 (though it doesn't say if it will be a Thursday Next adventure... perhaps we can look forward to one about Friday Next (Thursday and Landon's son)?

Posted by Emily at 10:37 PM | Comments (0)

August 09, 2004

A bit of Alice everyday

I've already mentioned here how much I love Alice in Wonderland, so of course I can't help but pointing out that you can now subscribe to a page of Alice a day -- Alice's Adventures in RSS (via library stuff.) Nice!

Posted by Emily at 07:35 AM | Comments (2)

August 05, 2004

More chick-lit

And on a lighter note than all those 22 million single women not voting, at least some of them seem to be writing books. Here's two more chick-lit links from this week's 'New This Week' stuff from the Librarian's Index to the Internet

Chick Lit Author Roundtable
"The success of Helen Fielding's 1998 bestseller 'Bridget Jones's Diary' helped launch a new genre in women's fiction called Chick Lit. AuthorsOnTheWeb.com has brought together 16 writers ... to discuss the essential elements of a Chick Lit novel, the impact these books can have on female readers, and the scenes or characters that they are especially proud to have written." Includes author profiles and the authors' answers to several questions about chick lit.

Big Books Issue: Chicks Dig It
Special issue of the Baltimore City Paper focusing on chick lit.

You know, I don't think I even read all that much in this genre, but for some reason I'm fascinated by the coverage of it (and I suppose its good cultural-literacy and potential reader's-advisory information). Though I am looking forward to Jennifer Weiner's new Little Earthquakes coming out in September (which I discovered while looking for earthquake books [grin]) and American Girls About Town by her along with Adriana Trigiani (Queen of the Big Time is on my pile already) and Lauren Weisberger (of The Devil Wears Prada fame).

Posted by Emily at 02:24 PM | Comments (2)

August 01, 2004

Girlfriend's Day

girlsday.jpgDid you know that August 1st is officially Girlfriend's Day? According to some, "Today is Girlfriend's Day, a day to take your girlfriends shopping, out to eat, to a spa, a movie, or to the park. A slumber party is also recommended."

I learned this from LISNews which linked to an article in the Bradenton, FL paper about the Manatee Public Library System's list of recommended chick-lit to celebrate the day!

Letsee... of the one's they recommend, I've only read one, Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner, which is a fantastic pick (and the author married a guy I knew from Amherst!) I'll have to add the others to my list: Confessions of a Shopaholic (which I've been meaning to get to), Talking to Addison, The Big Love, Last Chance Saloon, and Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie (who Lisa clued me in to a while ago and who I love). Its a good thing my summer classes are over soon!

(Hmmm, it also seems to be Respect For Parents Day, National Kid's Day and Sister's Day)

Posted by Emily at 09:32 AM | Comments (2)

July 29, 2004

How I fell in Love with a Librarian

Just finished How I Fell in Love with a Librarian and Lived to Tell About it by Rhett Ellis, a very quick (101 page) read about "a shy preacher whose life takes an exciting turn when a beautiful but disturbed librarian arrives in his small town." I'm not sure I'm thrilled with the portrayal of the crazy librarian, but the campaign to save the library is fun to read and the main character is endearing. I think I'll pass it along to Amytha next.

Posted by Emily at 10:26 AM | Comments (0)

July 27, 2004

The Winter Hare

winterhare.jpgAt long last we come to the end of the series of 4th-6th grade Middle Ages historical fiction. And a fitting end, for after all those tales of the open road and pilgrimages and minstrels, this time we find ourselves under seige in a castle.

Goodman, Joan Elizabeth. The Winter Hare. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston: 1996. 255 pages. ISBN: 0395785693.

Twelve-year-old Will Belet, known to most as "Rabbit" wants more than anything to grow up to be a noble knight. Sent to serve in his uncle, the Earl of Oxford, as a page, Will soon realizes that things are much more complicated than he thought. The story unfolds in 1140, with England divided between the supporters of King Stephen of Blois (reigning king/usurper) and those of the Empress Matilda (daughter of King Henry, widow of Prince William), and Will gets caught up in the battles, sieges, intrigues and adventures. The book is filled with much of the same wonderful detail we've seen in the other books about life in the middle ages, castles, healing, monasteries, the role of women and peasants, etc.

As the Booklist review says, "A good book to recommend to those who loved Marguerite De Angeli's A Door in the Wall (1989) or Elizabeth J. Gray's Adam of the Road (1942)."

And now on to developing library programming around all these books!

Posted by Emily at 10:03 PM | Comments (0)

Adam of the Road

adamoftheroad.jpgAnd we're back to the Middle Ages again... This time for Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray (Illustrated by Robert Lawson), The Viking Press, New York: 1942, 317 pages, ISBN: 0670104353, which won the Newbery Award in 1943.

The book tells the adventures of eleven-year-old Adam Quartermayne, son of Roger the famous minstrel, as he travels the open roads of thirteenth-century England searching for his missing father and his stolen red spaniel, Nick. It ties in wonderfully with the other middle ages books I've been reading, touching on many of the same themes and adding more detail and engaging stories to life on the road and in the villages and castles during that time.

One reviewer writes, "In one boy's travels between June and April, this story delivers a rich and varied picture of life in medieval England, from its seedy inns to its gracious courts, from pious church people to the crude and crooked, from bustling fairs to desolate roads, from cloistered academies to the plowman's team. Every season, and many picturesque settings, passes into view at an interesting and, indeed, pivotal period of English history. Yet at the same time, the book warmly and faithfully focuses on the warm heart and fierce devotion of its charming, determined young hero." (Robbie Fischer)

Searching around for the book online, it is clear that it is used in many classrooms and libraries around the country. There are many teacher guides and activities associated with the book, and it is often compared to Crispin.

Just one more Middle Ages book to go for this assignment...

Posted by Emily at 08:30 AM | Comments (0)

July 24, 2004

Emily's Reasons Why Not

emilysreasons.jpgOk, took a quick break from the Middle Ages to read Emily's Reasons Why Not by Carrie Gerlach, a fun, guilty-pleasure chick-lit book that Mom had sent. I admit it feels somewhat narcissistic to read books where the title character shares your name (though on a related note, the head of Technorati mentioned at BlogOn that it makes good business sense to base a business on one of the seven sins -- his was vanity since his site lets you find out who in the blogosphere is talking about you) This Emily is a 30/31-year old PR pro in LA who, after a string of unsuccessful boyfriends (including her boss's boss's boss and a professional baseball player) starts to see a therapist to talk about life and love. He has her create lists of reasons why each of these guys were bad news for her. She has wonderful supportive girl friends (who she calls on to support her through these messes) and a lovable dog to keep her company.

Posted by Emily at 10:10 AM | Comments (2)

July 22, 2004


crispin.jpgToday's entry in the middle ages series is Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi. People are always mentioning Avi but I had never actually read any of his books so I thought it was about time.

Crispin is a thirteen year old orphan in fourteenth century medieval England who is falsely accused of robbery and murder by the abusive steward John Aycliffe who ruled over the peasants in the village. He manages to escape and leaves his village for the first time in his life. "On the run, with nothing to sustain him but his faith in God, Crispin meets 'Bear,' a roving entertainer who has ties to an underground movement to improve living conditions for the common people. They make their way to Great Wexley, where Bear has clandestine meetings and Crispin hopes to escape from Aycliffe and his soldiers, who stalk him at every turn." (School Library Journal)

As one Amazon review explained, "Providing plenty of period detail (appropriately gratuitous for the age group) and plenty of chase-scene suspense, Avi tells a good story, develops a couple of fairly compelling characters, and even manages to teach a little history lesson. (Fortunately, kids won't realize that they're learning about England's peasant revolt of 1381 until it's far too late.)" (Paul Hughes)

The book was a 2003 Newbery Award Winner and New York Times Best-seller.

And yes, I'm tired of the Middle Ages already, but this was a good read.

Posted by Emily at 11:10 AM | Comments (2)

July 20, 2004

The Door in the Wall

doorinwall.jpg#3 in my middle ages series was much shorter, and was a Newbury Award Winner from 1950. The Door in the Wall by Marguerite De Angeli (Doubleday, New York: 1949, $16.95, 121 pages, ISBN 038507283X) follows the story of ten year old Robin, son of Sir John de Bureford. His father is off at war serving the king, his mother is off attending the Queen, and right before he is due to go off to serve as a page in another castle, Robin falls ill and can no longer use his legs. He is rescued from his home (since all the other staff of the castle seem to have died of the plague) by Brother Luke and taken to the monk's hospice. There he is cared for and educated -- he learns to read and write, to carve wood, and regains his strength. A letter from his father arrives and Robin, Brother Luke and John-go-in-the-Wynd (a minstrel) head off to the castle Lindsay where he will fulfill his duties as a page and await his father's return from war.

The title comes from a bit of wisdom Brother Luke teaches Robin, that one only has to follow a "wall far enough and there will be a door in it." (16) As the School Library Journal review sums it up, "This Newbery Medal winning story, set in medieval times, is about a boy who learns his own strength when he saves the castle and discovers there is more than one way to serve his king." The story is told from Robin's perspective and uses language that feels much more old-fashioned and appropriate to the times than The Ramsay Scallop (though that may make it harder for kids to read through).

One reviewer on Amazon noted that, "The setting is romanticized. There is nothing about the disgusting sounds, smells, habits, and parasites of the Middle Ages. If I had not read Cushman's "Catherine Called Birdy" (another good book) first, I would have thought that Medieval England was clean, pretty, quaint--and only a little muddy when it rained." ( "kaia_espina") Instead of bogging us down in Robin's hardships, it feels like a book that would be inspiring -- one can overcome limitations, can meet wonderful people who help you, and can find the door even when your life feels walled-in. While the book may not be for everyone, it seems a nice alternative to some of the summer reading we were discussing the other day.

Posted by Emily at 09:01 PM | Comments (0)

The Ramsay Scallop

ramsayscallop.jpgMiddle Ages Historical Fiction for 4th-6th graders, #2: The Ramsay Scallop by Frances Temple (Orchard Books, New York: 1994, 310 pages, $15.30, ISBN: 0531086860)

It is 1299, and fourteen year old Elenor of Ramsay is supposed to be marrying Thomas of Thornham, who has recently returned from 8 years of crusading. Neither are thrilled at the idea -- they barely know and don't exactly like each other! Father Gregory, the village priest, sends the two of them off on a long pilgrimage from England, through France to the shrine of St. James in Spain to atone for the sins of the entire village. Along the way, they learn about themselves, each other and the world around them. They meet new friends, overcome hardships, and hear great stories and songs.

Its a long slow tale at the pace of pilgrims walking and walking, with an abrupt jolt at the end that's a bit unsettling. But its a very interesting slice of medieval Europe told in an approachable, modern-sounding way. The characters are interesting (the perpective switching among them) and the stories are lively, the religion a bit overwhelming at times, but perfectly appropriate to the time and place. I can't imagine having the interest or patience to have read it as a 4th grader, but I can see how it could appeal to others.

Posted by Emily at 11:09 AM | Comments (0)

July 18, 2004

Summer Reading

An op-ed in today's Times, Summer Reading List Blues by Barbara Feinberg looks at the harsh realistic fiction being required of kids on summer reading lists.

They tend not to be about children having adventures or fighting foes in slightly enchanted realms, as the young characters do in, say, "A Wrinkle in Time," the 1962 classic by Madeleine L'Engle. Instead, they depict children who must "come to terms," "cope with" and "work through" harsh realties. Where characters in my books lollygagged in meadows, as it were, the children in these books are trying to hack their way out of cellars.

I completely agree with her comments -- I'd take Harry Potter over the "problem novels" that they're being forced to read. Which, of course, is why I picked sci-fi intead of realistic fiction for my genre fiction selections for class...

Posted by Emily at 11:20 PM | Comments (1)

The Revolution Will Not be Televised

revolution.jpgJust finished Joe Trippi's amazing new book, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (Regan Books, 2004) I highly recommend it to any of you interested in how the internet is reshaping politics (and everything else in our lives). As you know, this has been my pet topic for years and years -- including being the topic of my college thesis back in 1997 (feminist activism and community on the net) and most of my professional experience (working on web sites like the ACLU's, Common Cause, NARAL, Feminist Majority Foundation, campaign and PAC sites with Brian, etc.) These days Brian's the big expert on the topic, but it still gets my pulse racing.

I loved the book -- it tells the story of how the Dean campaign tapped the power of blogs and meetups, etc. to give the supporters an unprecedented role in the campaign. It made me wish more than anything that I had packed up all my stuff and gone to sleep on the floor of the campaign office in Vermont and reminded me why the campaign was so appealing and how revolutionary the people I was meeting at those meetups really were. He draws heavily on work by Howard Rheingold (Virtual Community and Smart Mobs) and Robert Putnam (Bowling Alone) -- two of my all-time favorite theorists, and quotes Joi Ito a bunch (who I've known as "Joi Ito, world's coolest guy" since I met him with Lisa in Japan in 1989.)

So check out the Change for America site, where they're continuing the revolution, and joetrippi.com where he's blogging about the book and press appearances.

Joe TrippiOh! And I almost forgot to point out that he went to San Jose State, so he's a local story here as well. And here's a photo of him that I took when Dean was here in San Jose at Zoe Lofgren's house for a fundraiser.
Catch Bush Blog Ad

Posted by Emily at 11:23 AM | Comments (0)

July 14, 2004

Enchantress from the Stars

enchantress.jpgOk, last sci fi one, really, since I have to turn in the assignment shortly.

Enchantress from the Stars by Sylvia Louise Engdahl (Athenium, 1970, 275 pages, ISBN: 0613616197) feels like the perfect choice to end my series because it also ties in amazingly well with the folk tales I was reading (and even to the medieval books waiting in my pile). It is aimed at readers 12 and up, so technically doesn't fit in the scope of the project, but I loved reading it and thought it was amazing. In the book, three civilizations from different planets in widely varying stages of development clash in what could be either a mutually disastrous or beneficial encounter.

The folk tale part involves four sons of a woodcutter who set off on a quest to defeat the dragon that has been terrifying their village, hoping that they will be richly rewarded by the king. On their way, they meet an Enchantress from the stars who promises to help, requiring a series of trials and tests before granting magic tokens with which to combat the dragon. Sound familiar?

But we know that it is not an Enchantress at all, but Elana - a student from a much more advanced world, who had stowed-away on her father's mission to the planet Andrecia. The dragon is not a dragon at all, but a huge machine belonging to an Imperial Empire who plans to colonize the planet. These colonizers are more advanced than the Andrecia natives, but are a technological people who haven't yet advanced to the higher level like Elana's people who have control of telepathy and other powers. The mission is to pursuade the Imperial Empire to leave the planet and its people without revealing to them the existance of the more advanced civilization.

Sound complicated? It is, but it is wonderfully told through the eyes of Elana, Georyn (the woodcutter's youngest son), and Jarel a doctor in the service of the Imperial Empire who has doubts about what his people are doing. It raises lots of good issues about colonization and advancement of civilization (and what it means to be civilized) as well as ideas about magic and believing and love. As the inside flap says, "This unusual book fo science fiction asks questions that we ourselves much answer for our own times."

The book was also a Newbury Honor book in 1971.

Posted by Emily at 07:11 PM | Comments (1)

July 12, 2004

Catherine, Called Birdy

birdy.jpgOk, finally on to historical fiction this week for class (though I'm not happy with my final sci fi list so I may add in one more before switching over completely)

Tonight I finished Catherine, Called Birdy (Harper Collins, 1994, 212 pages, ISBN: 0060739428) by Karen Cushman (author of the Midwife's Apprentice, which I may also try to read this week). I was attracted to the line on the cover that reads, "She's not your average damsel in distress," and indeed she isn't.

The book is the diary of Lady Catherine (known as Little Bird or Birdy) during 1290, when she is fourteen years old. Her father is trying to marry her off to someone rich, and she spends a great deal of time and energy trying to scare off would-be suitors. She's spunky and not afraid to speak her mind (even if she ends up continuously punished for doing so) and reveals a fascinating world of class divisions, herbal remedies, demanding religion, fleabites and faires. Most diary entries start with a brief description of the life of that day's saint, which tie into how Birdy feels about standing up for herself and resisting being sold into an awful marriage. The back of the book asks, "Can a sharp-tongued, high-spirited, clever young maiden with a mind of her own actually lose the battle against an ill-mannered, piglike lord and an unimaginative, greedy toad of a father?" Personally I was hoping she'd run off into the forest with the goat herder (who wanted to be a scholar).

I think I'll stay with the middle ages theme for this assignment, and got a bunch of other books from the library to try out. Mary sent along some great sounding titles as well which I'm going to try to sqeeze in (or read for fun after the class ends). Thanks Mary! The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood sounds particularly intriguing!

Posted by Emily at 07:02 PM | Comments (2)

July 10, 2004

The Closing of the American Book

A nice op ed in Today's NY Times by Andrew Solomon addresses the recent data on the decline of reading in the US.

Some good quotes:

"We have one of the most literate societies in history. What is the point of having a population that can read, but doesn't? We need to teach people not only how, but also why to read. The struggle is not to make people read more, but to make them want to read more."

"We must weave reading back into the very fabric of the culture, and make it a mainstay of community."

Makes me want to run out and become a librarian... :)

Posted by Emily at 08:39 AM | Comments (0)

July 07, 2004

The Girl with the Silver Eyes

silvereyes.jpg#7: The Girl with the Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts (Scholastic Inc, 1980, 198 pages)

This one was intriguing. The main character, Katie Welker, not only has silver eyes, but has discovered that she can move small items by thinking about them -- a sure way to freak out babysitters and cause all sorts of trouble. When a strange man comes asking questions, Katie runs away and tries to find other kids with silver eyes who can understand what she's going through.

It hits similar themes of feeling different from the people around you as many of these other children's sci-fi books have been. Don't we all wish we had special powers and all want to find out that we're not alone in feeling different? I can definitely see the appeal of these books for kids figuring out who they are and what makes them unique.

Posted by Emily at 09:36 PM | Comments (3)

July 06, 2004

Star Split

starsplit.jpgDuring our weekly Group Jazz call today, Lisa suggested that I look for books by her friend Kathryn Lasky. So I rushed out to the library afterwards and found Star Split which fits nicely into my sci fi theme for the week. (For those of you, like Dad and Jane, who missed the beginning of the sci fi series and weren't sure why I was reading and numbering sci fi kids books all this week, its for my current class assignment. We had to pick a genre and read a series of books in it and then will have to review them and develop some programming for a book group of 4th-6th graders to discuss them and do some related games or crafts or things. After a few more of these for good measure, I'll be moving on to historical fiction I think.)

But anyway, Star Split was amazing! I think its the best one I've read for this exercise and puts most of the other ones to shame. I'd say it is for slightly older kids than the others I've been reading, but I think I'll include it on the list anyway.

It takes place in 3038 in a world where almost everyone is genetically enhanced. The main character, Darci Murlowe feels different in some unknown way, but until she comes face-to-face with the shock of her life while she is away at rock climbing camp, she has no idea just how different she is or what it means to the future of human beings. It is a very sophisticated look at issues of cloning and genetic engineering told in a very personal way through the thoughts of this thirteen-year-old girl who is becoming aware of her own special individuality and uniqueness. The author's note at the end is particularly interesting as she traces how the all of the issues and technologies at play in the future world she has created are already coming to fruition (e.g. Dolly).

There's a really interesting Booklist review as well (though it gives a lot a way).

Posted by Emily at 08:32 PM | Comments (0)

July 05, 2004

The Mother-Daughter Book Club

motherdaughter.jpgTo get ideas for this week's class assignment, I read The Mother-Daughter Book Club: How Ten Busy Mothers and Daughters Came Together to Talk, Laugh and Learn Through Their Love of Reading by Shireen Dodson. (HarperPerennial, 1997, ISBN: 0060952423)

I thought I would just skim it as a reference book to get ideas of activities and discussion questions, but I immediately was entranced by the book and read it cover to cover. I think it should be required reading for every mother of a 9-12 year old girl -- and that it works to read long after you have or are one.

It made me wish I had been in a group like that at that age, and makes me want to try harder to get my own book group going again (even without the mother-daughter aspect). And certainly it makes me appreciate all the sharing of books and great book talks I've had with my Mom and Lisa and friends and family over the years. And quite jealous of Dad and Jane's 20+ year bookclub....

I liked this passage particularly:

You can sit by yourself and enjoy a good book. But something very different and special happens when you get together and talk about a book with other people. You experience the book differently. Discussion becomes a prism, breaking the book's events, characters and themes into a rainbow of ideas that lead the way to still more discussion. Things we thought were obvious can become intriguing; the ordinary can become interesting. The assumptions that so often define our attitudes toward each other as mothers and daughters, and which limit our experience of each other, can fall away. (141)

Posted by Emily at 03:49 PM | Comments (1)

July 04, 2004

The Jane Austen Book Club

janeausten.jpgMom called last night to say that she had finished The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler and that I had to move it up higher in my pile of books to read. I had started it a couple of weeks back but had put it aside to read books for homework. But, at her urging, I picked it back up last night and finished it just now because, of course, once I started again I couldn't put it down.

Jane Austen always makes me think of my friend Carrie H., now at the McCarter theater in Princeton. I'll have to write and see what she thought of the book (since I can bet she went out and bought it as soon as she saw it...)

The book is about a book club in the Central Valley of CA who meet to talk about different Jane Austin novels -- Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, and Persuasion. We learn about the lives and loves of the five women and one man in the book group, and about their own takes on the lives and loves of Austen's characters.

One of the women in the book club is even a librarian:

In general, librarians enjoyed special requests. A reference librarian is someone who likes the chase. When librarians read for pleasure, they often pick a good mystery. They tend to be cat people as well, for reasons more obscure. (213)

Personally, I've had a crush on Captain Brandon myself, though its clear that Fowler doesn't approve of that match, describing him as "the dull man Elinor and her mother have picked out for" Marianne (254) . Of course, I may have been influenced more by Alan Rickman's portrayal... though its hard now not to think of him as Prof. Snape.

But it was definitely a good read and such a wonderful concept for a book!

Posted by Emily at 04:50 PM | Comments (0)

July 03, 2004

Rewind To Yesterday

rewind.jpgBook 6 (maybe): Rewind to Yesterday by Susan Beth Pfeffer (Delacorte Press, 1988)

I really didn't think I was going to like this one. I hated the beginning, which was:

Kelly Diane Forrest pounded her fist on her math textbook. "I hate school!" she cried. "I hate everything about it, and I especially hate math." (1)

As somewhat of a math-chick growing up, I was always very defensive of the girls-aren't-good-at-math stereotypes. The "Math is Hard" Barbie fiasco was one of my family's favorite running jokes. Surprisingly, this book is listed in a Girls Excelling in Math and Science Booklist

In addition, the story seemed pretty hopelessly dated when you see how excited the family is to get their VCR (to be fair, it was published in 1988)

"You really got one!" Kelly shouted when she saw the shiny new machine. "Oh, Daddy!" (3)

But somehow the story grew on me. This new VCR that eleven-year-old Kelly is so excited about turns out to allow her, her twin brother Scott and their best friend Miri to travel back in time! They can only preset their VCR for 24 hours, so they can only go back within the same day, but they manage to each relive and change a bit of their day -- and Miri even finds an important reason to change what happened.

Not great -- and not nearly as interesting as the other ones I've been reading for this assignment, so I may not bother including it if I can find some others (of course the library is closed tomorrow for the holiday...)

Interestingly, it looks like there is a sequel, Future Forward but the SCC library doesn't seem to have it and the Publisher's Weekly review posted in Amazon and on the SJ Library's site seems to be for an entirely different book.

Posted by Emily at 06:04 PM | Comments (0)

July 02, 2004

Into the Labyrinth

intothelabyrinth.jpgReading children's literature is so satisfying! You can just zip through them!

I wasn't feeling very well this morning so stayed in bed for a while and finished Into the Labyrinth, the sequel to Roderick Townley's The Great Good Thing (which I read yesterday)

The popularity of the book is already wearing the characters out (so much so that the author writes in a yoga instructor to help them cope with the stress) but the real challenge begins when the story is uploaded onto the web and the characters have online readers to deal with as well. Stranger and more dangerous things start occuring including disastrous changes to the text and sudden deletions, and Princess Sylivia and her friends are forced to battle a computer virus in the strange labyrinth of cyberspace!

I think I may need to work my way through the rest of the Books and Reading -- Fiction subject heading!

Posted by Emily at 12:39 PM | Comments (0)

July 01, 2004

The Great Good Thing

greatgoodthing.jpgOk, one more book and then back to other work. I couldn't resist this one when I saw it, its like Lost in a Good Book for kids! Its called The Great Good Thing and is by Roderick Townley (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2001, ISBN: 0689853289). It features Princess Sylvie and all the characters in her story -- and the story is actually remarkably like the folk tales I've been reading for class (same pattern of rescuing animals and then having them save you later, someone turning into a handsome prince, etc.) Plus, you get to see the characters as they rush back to their proper spaces each time the book is opened by a reader (and as they wait for the emergency lighting to flicker back on when the book is shut). But a fire forces all the characters to flee the storybook kingdom and they escape into their reader's subconscious as she sleeps! Can Princess Sylvie keep the story alive in the reader's mind and keep the characters from rusting away with disuse?

There's a sequel where I think they publish the book on the web... (coming after some more work-work...)

Posted by Emily at 08:54 PM | Comments (0)

Star Hatchling

starhatchling.jpgBook 5: Star Hatchling by Margaret Bechard (Viking, 1995, 152 pages, ISBN: 0670861499)

When Shem and his sister Cheko see what they think is a star crash-land in their forest, their lives are turned upside down by the "hatchling" that comes out. We know that its Hanna, a teenager who arrived in an escape pod from the space ship her family was traveling on, and the perspective switches back and forth between Shem's take on the situation and Hanna's as they try to make sense of one another. An interesting take on first-contact situations and figuring out aliens and outsiders.

(I'm also intrigued by My Sister, My Science Report by the same author.)

One more to go and then I'd better start figuring out what to do with them... (though I'm still open to other suggestions if anyone has any other sci fi recommendations with strong girl characters, approx grades 4-6 level)

Posted by Emily at 05:52 PM | Comments (0)

The Winds of Mars

windsofmars.jpgBook 4, The Winds of Mars by H. M. Hoover (Dutton Children's Books, New York, 1995, 181 pages, $14.99, ISBN: 0525453598)

Annalyn Reynolds Court, daughter of the president of Mars, is sent off to an elite military academy for training and finds herself caught up in the political struggles shaking the planet as she learns the truth about her father and his oppressive rule. The story is told by Annalyn after the events have unfolded. As the review explains, "Annalyn's step-by-step awakening to both the treachery of her immediate family and the inequities of Martian society is convincingly portrayed. Woven neatly throughout, quirky, well-thought-out details provide a distinctive setting for this fast-paced SF adventure." (Publishers Weekly)

It reminded me of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy - there's something about Mars that makes it such a good setting for corruption of power.

If I have time, I also checked out Away Is A Strange Place To Be by the same author.

Posted by Emily at 09:51 AM | Comments (1)

June 30, 2004

A Swiftly Tilting Planet

swiftlytilting.jpgFor the third in my sci-fi for girls series, today I finished Madeleine L'Engle's Swiftly Tilting Planet. (1978) I had bought the Time Quartet Box Set after watching the TV movie of A Wrinkle in Time a few weeks back. I must say that I didn't remember any of this book in the series, though I'm sure I read it a million years ago. I may have to go and reread the other two now as well (A Wind in the Door and Many Waters).

In this book, Meg Murry O'Keefe is grown up, married to Calvin O'Keefe (who we met in the first book), and pregnant with their child. Its Thanksgiving and the president calls to inform Meg's father than there's a threat of nuclear war. Meg's mother in law passes along a powerful rune to Charles Wallace, now 15, who travels through time with the unicorn Gaudior to change some Might-Have-Beens and hopefully stop "the horrible possibility of our lives being snuffed out before another sun rises." (13) Meg helps out by travelling along with Charles Wallace psychically, but I wish she had a more active role for the purposes of my theme. I may use A Wrinkle in Time instead if I have time to reread it this week as well, since Meg more directly saves her brother in that one.

Meg explains it best, that its all about "Interdepenence. Not just one thing leading to another in a straight line, but everything and everyone everywhere interreacting." (17)

In this fateful hour,
I place all Heaven with its power
And the sun with its brightness,
And the snow with its whiteness,
And the fire with all the strength it hath,
And the lightening with its rapid wrath,
And the winds with their swiftness along their path,
And the sea with its deepness,
And the rocks with their steepness,
And the earth with its starkness,
All these I place
By God's almighty help and grace
Between myself and the powers of darkness!

Posted by Emily at 08:42 PM | Comments (0)

June 29, 2004


earthborn.jpgFor the second book in my sci-fi series, today I read Earthborn by Sylvia Waugh (Delacorte Press, 2002. 273 pages, $15.95. ISBN: 0385900600).

Imagine finding out all of a sudden that your parents were from another planet and were planning to leave -- with you -- in just a couple of days to return "home." It might explain why you always felt they were a little different and why you've always tried to very hard to fit in... And when it turns out that if they don't leave then, they'll never have another chance... would they stay or leave without you when you refuse to go?

As the jacket says, "Sylvia Waugh explores the most complicated alien creatures of all -- parents -- and the most powerful force in the universe -- love."

Like Tria, Nesta Gwynn discovers inner strength and resourcefulness she never knew she had, and seeks out help from the only other people she think will believe her...

Posted by Emily at 05:48 PM | Comments (2)

The Firebird

For folk tales this week, I've been looking at some Russian folktales.

Spirin, Gennady. The Tale of the Firebird. Translated by Tatiana Popova. Illustrated by Gennady Spirin. Philomel Books, 2002. 32 pages. $16.99. ISBN 0399235841

firebird.jpgGennady Spirin’s retelling of The Tale of the Firebird combines elements from the classic Russian folktales “Ivan-Tsarevitch and Gray Wolf,” “Baba Yaga,” and “Koshchei the Immortal.” Beautiful full-page illustrations and tapestry-like borders filled with elaborate details of swords and wolves and firebird feathers bring the story to life. The illustrations capture the ornate architecture and royal trappings of the palaces of the Tsars and Kings, with dazzling attention to the details down to the golden buttons on the robes, the brocade dresses and onion-topped domes. The tale begins with a Tsar and his three sons and focuses on the youngest, Ivan-Tsarevitch. Someone is stealing golden apples from the Tsar’s treasured tree, and Ivan-Tsarevitch catches a tail feather from the culprit and is sent off on an adventure to bring back the firebird. Ivan-Tsarevitch meets a gray wolf who offers to help to repay an earlier kindness, and advises him on how to capture the firebird. But Ivan-Tsarevitch does not heed the advice and is caught by King Muhmud, who spares him in exchange for bringing back a horse with a golden mane. The adventure continues as the wolf takes him to King Karam’s palace where he can take the horse – as long as he does not touch the harness. Ivan-Tsarevitch, unable to resist again, is caught but spared in exchange for rescuing the King’s sister, Yelena the Beautiful. The wolf takes Ivan-Tsarevitch to Baba Yaga the Wicked at her cottage with the chicken feet. Baba Yaga is in countless Russian folktales – usually as a mean witch, but sometimes kind and helpful. Katya Arnold explains in Baba Yaga: A Russian Folktale, that “She is so familiar to Russian children that she’s almost a member of the family – like an elderly aunt who is either mean or nice, depending on her mood.” (Author’s Note) In Spirin’s retelling, she is much kinder than in most and offers help without demanding work as in many other tales. Here, she tests Ivan-Tsarevitch and rewards him with a magic sword (in a lake reminiscent of the Arthur legends) with which, along with more help from the magical wolf, Ivan-Tsarevitch is able to battle Koshchei the Immortal and rescue Yelena the Beautiful. Victorious, they return the promised items and are richly rewarded. The language of the story lends itself to being read aloud, and listeners will delight in the patterns they hear of the three sons, three quests, three great leaps to travel from place to place, and other repeated elements.

Related Tales:

Sanderson, Ruth. The Golden Mare, the Firebird, and the Magic Ring. Illustrated by Ruth Sanderson. Little, Brown and Company, 2001. 32 pages. $15.95. ISBN: 0316769061
Ruth Sanderson’s The Golden Mare, the Firebird, and the Magic Ring, which is based on elements from “The Firebird, the Horse of Power and Vasilissa,” “The Firebird and Princess Vasilissa”, “The Humpbacked Pony,” and “Tzarevich Ivan and Grey Wolf” is very similar to The Tale of the Firebird. In this retelling as well, wise animals offer counsel and magical aide in repayment of past kindness by our hero. After a continuing series of quests, one leading to the next, the hero ends up marrying the beautiful woman he rescues.

Kimmel, Eric A. Baba Yaga: A Russian Folktale. Illustrated by Megan Lloyd. Holiday House, 2003. 32 pages. $14.95. ISBN: 082340854X
This story starts off as a Cinderella tale, and the wicked step-mother sends the lovely Marina (who has “a great ugly horn growing out of the middle of her forehead”) on an errand to “Auntie-in-the-Forest,” Baba Yaga the witch. By listening to the advice of a wise frog and by treating the animals and even the trees and fences with care, she is able to outsmart and escape Baba Yaga. The magic items that create deep rivers and dense forests to slow down the chase are common in many Russian folktales (sometimes with Baba Yaga, sometimes with a giant or other enemy of our hero).

Mayer, Marianna. Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave. Illustrated by K.Y. Craft. Morrow Junior Books, 1994. 40 pages. $15.89 ISBN: 0688085008
This is also a Cinderella tale involving Baba Yaga, and goes into great detail about the witch and her household. Vasilisa outsmarts Baba Yaga with the help of her magical doll, instilled with her mother’s love.

Reesink, Marijke. The Magic Horse. Illustrated by Adrie Hospes. McGraw-Hill Books, 1974. $5.95.
In this older version of the classic tale, a miller with three sons finds his wheat being trampled in the night and only the youngest son figures out the mystery. When he frees the culprit, a magical grey-tailed white horse, he is promised the horse’s service whenever he wishes, and uses him to win the hand of the tsar’s daughter.

Kimmel, Eric A. I-Know-Not-What, I-Know-Not-Where: A Russian Tale. Illustrated by Robert Sauber. Holiday House, 1994. 64 pages, $16.95. ISBN: 082341020X
This longer, chapter-book format retelling of the Russian folk-tales is similar in structure to The Tale of the Firebird, but features Frol, the middle son of a peasant and his adventures. Beautifully told and illustrated, this version combines elements of a cursed princess Frolya in the form of a white dove who turns out to be the granddaughter of Baba Yaga in this story. A greedy czar and his advisor send Frol on a series of quests, eventually to bring back I-Know-Not-What from I-Know-Not-Where, which turns out to be just the thing to break Frolya’s spell and free her from Koshchey the Deathless’s power (the same villain as had captured Yelena in The Tale of the Firebird).

Riordan, James. Russian Folk-Tales. Illustrated by Andrew Breakspeare. Oxford University Press, 2000. $19.95. 96 pages. ISBN: 0192745360
This wonderful collection contains “Vasilissa the Wise and Baba Yaga,” and “The Firebird.” In this version of The Firebird, it is a stable lad named Ivan who is sent to capture the firebird (with the grey wolf’s help). He is then sent to rescue Yelena the Fair for the king, but falls in love with her on the trip back.

Posted by Emily at 11:22 AM | Comments (0)

June 28, 2004

Tria and the Great Star Rescue

tria.jpgFor the third assignment in my kid-lit class, I'm planning to read a bunch of sci fi for 4th-6th grade girls. [And no, I haven't finished my second assignment yet, but should have that to post soon] After class tonight I ran over to the Campbell library and checked out a stack of them -- but if any of you have suggestions, I'm definitely open to hearing them!

Tonight, I started with Rebecca Kraft Rector's Tria and the Great Star Rescue (Delacorte Press, 2002, 184 pages, $14.95, ISBN: 0385729413) Its the story of a girl named Tria who lives in a high-tech world and is afraid of "outside" and the germs and real people that fill it. Her best friend is a hologram named Star, and she spends her free time taking apart pretty much anything she can set her WonderTool to. An emergency message from her Mom, who soon turns out to be kidnapped, sends Tria on an adventure Outside and to a school that bans most of the high-tech gadgets she relies on (including a projector for Star!) With the help of two new friends and her virtual tutor (who she accidentally wires into her robot horse) she sets off to rescue her Mom and save the day.

I loved the cover art as well!

And the author, Rebecca Kraft Rector, is a children's librarian! Hmm... maybe we can invite her to participate in the August Chautauqua.

Posted by Emily at 10:32 PM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2004

Rule of Four

ruleoffour.jpgYou know how you hear about a big best-seller book and resist reading it on principle because its been so overhyped and talked about? And then you break down and read it anyway and love it and immediately fall into the craze? It was like this with the DaVinci Code, which I resisted for a while until Katy said she had read it (and she's a pretty discerning reader) and of course I loved it and have been telling everyone to read it. Well its happening to me again.

Mom passed along The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason while I was home this weekend and I finished it on the plane back today. It was great!! Its similar to the Davinci Code in that it centers around decoding secret hidden messages, but it is even better! Friendship, intellectual passion, relationships, college life (Princeton eating clubs), suspense, excitement... a little of everything. I couldn't put it down and didn't want it to end. Highly recommended -- if you like that type of thing (which I definitely do!) Thanks Mom for passing it along! I don't know why I was resisting (except, of course, that I was supposed to be reading about grants...)

what is the rule of four?

Posted by Emily at 08:04 PM | Comments (19)

June 23, 2004

Maid of the North

maidofthenorth.jpgI've been reading folk tales for class this week and finished a collection of them, Maid of the North: Feminist Folk Tales from Around the World this evening after getting home from a full day at The Tech. They were all interesting and gave me a good feel for some of the typical folk tale formulas (and it was fun to have some intelligent, brave, strong heroines instead of just damsels in distress).

For my next written assignment, I'll be working on The Tale of the Firebird, and I checked out a whole stack of other Russian folk tales today from the Campbell library to compare it to. The stack's too big to take on the plane though, so that project will have to wait until I'm back from CT.

But Julia lent me the most wonderful looking dragon book today, so after packing I think I'll treat myself to reading that one next... (Plus it turns out that the SJ Library's summer reading theme is "Catch a Dragon by the Tale" and they have a whole list of fun looking dragon books to check out...)

Posted by Emily at 10:46 PM | Comments (0)

June 21, 2004

Easy Readers

For homework this week we have to write reviews for some Easy Readers. Easy Readers are those books written for kids learning to read -- they have simple vocabulary, use big fonts, have short sentences, and lots of pictures. One of our text books explains, “The easy-to-read book differs in appearance from the picture storybook in several obvious ways. Because they are intended for independent reading, they do not have to be seen from a distance and may be smaller; the text takes up a great proportion of each page; and the text is often divided into short chapters.” (Tomlinson, Essentials of Children’s Literature, p 80).

Here's the ones I wrote about:

piratepete.jpgOn the Go with Pirate Pete and Pirate Joe. By A. E. Cannon. Illustrated by Elwood H. Smith. Viking Books, 2002. 32 pages. $13.99.
Yo Ho! Pirate Pete and Pirate Joe, along with their dog Dudley and cat Studley, are hungry for pirate adventures (and for seafood)! Colorful cartoon drawings illustrate each point made in the text -- from how Pirate Pete is tall and thin while Pirate Joe is short and round, to a parrot who speaks pig-latin – giving visual clues to the text and making it a delight to look at. The book is broken into three short chapters chronicling their adventures and pirate-preparations, and each chapter title has its own illustrated page. The simple vocabulary and repeating phrases make it a fun and easy story to tackle, and their zany adventures and general silliness are darling. Readers who want more can jump right into their continuing adventures in Let the Good Times Roll With Pirate Pete and Pirate Joe. Aye! No doubt about it, these are certainly some silly pirates!

wizardandwart.jpgWizard and Wart. By Janice Lee Smith. Pictures by Paul Meisel. Harper Collins Publishers, 1994. 64 pages. $13.89
Double Yikes! When Wizard and his dog Wart set up a magic shop to do a little hocus-pocus, the duo learns that solving people’s problems can be hard work! Their new house is big enough for them to hocus in the front and pocus in the back (and take naps in the middle), but is it big enough for all the trouble they cause? The story is illustrated with full-page pen and ink watercolors with wonderful details that jump off the page (from the fanciful wizard robes to the box of Wizard Pops cereal and carton of bug juice on the breakfast table), making every page a delight. Silly rhymes (tragic magic? hare pair?) and silly spells are sprinkled throughout the adventure. The book is easy to read with short sentences and four short chapters and it leaves you wanting to know what kind of magic they’ll cook up next (or if they have learned their lesson!)

mollygetsmad.jpgMolly Gets Mad. By Suzy Kline. Illustrated by Diana Cain Bluthenthal. G.P. Putname’s Sons, 2001. 70 pages. $14.99.
Molly Zander likes being the top athlete in the third grade, but a surprise field trip to the ice rink shows her some stiff competition. The story is told from the point of view of her best friend Morty, who sees his friend’s jealously and bad behavior. Molly’s efforts to prove she’s number one wind up putting Morty in a cast with a broken ankle – leading to more jealousy as Morty gets a special classroom lunch with the teacher and Molly’s new rival. Eventually a lesson in hockey teamwork gets everyone back on the same side. This transitional chapter book is sprinkled with engaging black and white drawings that capture the characters and their attitudes perfectly. While the lessons are a bit heavy-handed, the characters are endearing and readers will recognize many of the feelings the kids deal with in their elementary school lives. There’s even a math problem thrown in for fun!

megmackintosh.jpgMeg Mackintosh and The Mystery in the Locked Library. By Luncinda Landon. Secret Passage Press, 1996. 43 pages. $13.95
A mysterious secret message in some otherwise healthy cereal sets Meg Mackintosh and her brother Peter on an adventure through the library for their cousin Alice. Each set of pages poses a question such as “Where do you think the key could be?” and “What do you think happened?” – allowing the readers to play sleuth and discover library skills along with the book’s heroes through a series of clues in the text and images of the book. The black and white line drawings and sketches need to be closely examined to get all the clues, and invite backing up and rechecking earlier ones to find out more. Meg’s sleuthing will remind readers of Encyclopedia Brown, but she has her own style and strengths. The lack of chapter separations and relatively complex topics suggest that slightly older kids or groups of kids working on the mystery together may benefit more than young readers. Best of all, if readers enjoy solving the mystery, this is just one of a whole series of Meg Mackintosh cases. Case closed!

emilyalice.jpgEmily and Alice Babysit Burton. By Joyce Champion. Illustrated by Joan Parazette. Gulliver Books, 2001. 32 pages. $14.0
Baby-sit a bulldog? When best friends Emily and Alice decided to start a babysitting company, that’s not exactly what they had in mind. But they took the job of cheering up their friend’s dog Burton, who had been unhappy since the family had a new baby. When even peanut-butter cookies won’t make Burton come out from under the bed, the two friends realize what’s troubling him and give him the attention he needs. Bright colorful illustrations which fill each page will have you falling in love with the adorable Burton dressed up in baby clothes and out for a stroll with the girls. The attention to detail in these watercolor and marker drawings complements the telling of the story and adds volumes to the experience. This is the third in the Emily and Alice series chronicling their friendship and adventures together, and its short chapters and straight-forward text should make it appealing to many young readers.
[And yes, I chose it because it was an Emily book!]

Babar Loses His Crown. By Laurent de Brunhoff. Illustrated by Laurent de Brunhoff. Random House (Beginner Books), 1967. 63 pages.
Babar can wear a crown, but he can’t wear a flute! So after his bag is switched accidentally at the train station and he realizes he crown is missing, Babar and his family race all around Paris trying to find the man in the mustache who took the wrong bag. This pleasing story features many of the highlights of Paris, and Babar bravely goes about his day despite being terribly sad about losing his crown. Laurent de Brunhoff carried on the legacy of his father, Jean de Brunhoff, who created Babar in 1931, and the simple watercolor and ink illustrations are as appealing today as they are when the book was published in 1967. The classic yellow end-papers with the parade of elephants holding onto one another’s tails and Babar in his famous green suit will delight parents who knew the books from their own childhoods. This edition, adapted to be an easy reader, contains a limited vocabulary and short, straightforward sentences. It is no wonder that Babar and his family have been favorites for almost 75 years!

I also read:

Pinky and Rex
By James Howe. Illustrated by Melissa Sweet.

Poppleton has Fun
By Cynthia Ryland. Illustrated by Mark Teague.
Which I loved, even though it sent a message that its no fun to go to the movies by yourself... a fear which I only recently overcame

The Golly Sisters Go West
By Betsy Byars. Pictures by Sue Truesdell.

All of Our Noses Are Here and Other Noodle Tales
Retold by Alvin Schwartz. Pictures by Karen Ann Weinhaus.

Pooh Goes Visiting
By A.A. Milne. Adopted (into an Easy Reader) by Stephen Krensky. With decorations by Ernest H. Shepard.

Lost at the White House: A 1909 Easter Story
By Lisa Griest. Illustrations by Andrea Shine.
Featuring President Taft (but she didn't get scared by the Easter Bunny like Brian did when we went when he was 2 -- years later I think he even volunteered to _be_ the bunny)

Little Bear
By Else Holmelund Minarik. Pictures by Maurice Sendak.

Make New Friends
By Rosemary Wells. Illustrations by Jody Wheeler.

Morris the Moose
By B. Wiseman.

The High-Rise Private Eyes: The Case of the Missing Monkey
By Cynthia Ryland. Pictures by G. Brian Karas.

Frog and Toad Together
By Arnold Lobel.
(interesting, both this book at Morris the Moose are dedicated to Barbara Dicks)

Amelia Bedelia
By Peggy Parish. Pictures by Fritz Siebel.

Emily's Shoes
Written and illustrated by Joan Cottle.
(this was the very first one I picked off the shelf -- and the author turns out to be from Connecticut and live her in Los Gatos!)

The Lucky Duck
By Sarah Durkee. Illustrated by Dave Prebenna.
(part of the Between the Lions series, which you can see on PBS)

EEK! Stories to make you shriek: A Very Strange Dollhouse
By Jennifer Dussling. Illustrated by Sonja Lamut.

Amanda Pig and Her Big Brother Oliver
By Jean Van Leeuwen. Pictures by Ann Schweninger.

The Tea Squall
By Ariane Dewey.

Henry and Mudge: The First Book
Henry and Mudge in the Family Trees
By Cynthia Rylant. Pictures by Sucie Stevenson.

Singing Diggety.
By Maggie Stern. Illustrations by Blanche Sims.

Zena and the Witch Circus
By Alice Low. Pictures by Laura Cornell.

Pish and Posh
By Barbara Bottner and Gerald Kruglik. Pictures by Barbara Bottner.

Posted by Emily at 06:45 PM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2004

Mystery Bags of Books

Amytha and I stopped by the Friends of the Campbell Library's Book Sale this morning (since we both intern there and love buying books...) and they were selling sealed mystery bags of books for $3. Amytha bought 2 bags of romance novels, and I bought a mystery bag of mysteries!

When I opened it, here's what I had bought:

To The Hilt
by Dick Francis

Poirot Investigates
by Agatha Christie

Murder Most Cozy: Mysteries in the Classic Tradition
an anthology with authors like Dorothy L. Sayers, amanda Cross, and others

Payment in Kind
by J.A. Jance

Death Takes Up a Collection
by Sister Carol Anne O'Marie

Murder in the Smithsonian
by Margaret Truman
(which I think I have read)

Last Seen Wearing (Inspector Morse)
by Colin Dexter

Ulterior Motives: A shocking true story of money and murder
by Sizanne Finstad

McNally's Folly
by Lawrence Sanders

The White House Pantry Murder
by Elliott Roosevelt
(which I think I have read)

by Carol Higgins Clark

While My Pretty One Sleeps
by Mary Higgins Clark

English Country House Murders: Classic Crime Fiction of Britian's Upper Crust
Edited by Thomas Godfrey

The Cat Who Saw Rd
by Lilian Jackson Braun

Field of Thirteen
by Dick Francis

Paper Money
by Ken Follett

Come to Grief
by Dick Francis

All Around the Town
by Mary Higgins Clark

McNally's Luck
by Lawrence Sanders

by Dick Francis

What fun! Now I just have to find some shelf space for them all...

Posted by Emily at 01:35 PM | Comments (2)

June 10, 2004

Dr. Dale

youremyparents.jpgMom just sent a note that family friend Dr. Dale Atkins will be on the Today Show talking about her new book, I'm OK, You're My Parents, on Wednesday morning, June 16th. (Plus she has a blog of course)

The email says:

You NEED to read "I'm OK, You're My Parents" immediately if:
•Your Father refers to your husband as "It."
•You call your Mother to tell her you've just won a Pulitzer, and she tells you your brother should be nominated for a Nobel Prize
•Your four year old son watched your mother baptize your 8 month old in the kitchen sink and said, to him, "SHSHSH, don’t tell mommy”
•Your father buys you flannel pajamas with feet for your honeymoon
•Your father wants to discuss the details of the police check he ran on your boyfriend
•You tell your Mother you've started seeing a therapist, and the first thing she says is, "What does he say about me?"
•When you see a show on Animal Planet about creatures that eat their young, you think, "Those kids got off easy... "
•Your Mother crashed your bachelor party
•Your Mother still tries to set you up on blind dates... and you're married
•Your Mother who knows you are gay asks you to go out with this wonderful woman she met who she is sure can straighten you out
•Every time you argue with your Father about Bush, he grumbles about changing his will
•Your Mother still has your bronzed baby shoes... in her purse

Posted by Emily at 08:04 PM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2004

Recommended by Julia

Keeping track of these here so I don't forget, here are some books recommended to me by my friend Julia (another Tech volunteer). Thanks Julia!

(amazon links and full titles to come)

Catherine Coulter
Beyond Eden

Sophie Kinsella
Confessions of a Shopaholic
Can You Keep a Secret?

Iris Johanson
The Ugly Duckly
The Search

Anne Bishop
The Black Jewels Trilogy

Shelia Queen of the Forest?

Patricia McKilip?

Peter H. Reynolds
The Dot

Cornelia Funke
The Princess Knight

Robin McKinley
Blue Sword
The Hero and the Crown

Mo Willems
Don't let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

Posted by Emily at 01:38 PM | Comments (1)

June 03, 2004

Knit Lit

knitlit.jpgFinished KnitLit : Sweaters and Their Stories...and Other Writing About Knitting by Linda Roghaar and Molly Wolf. Thank you so much to Lisa who saw it in Politics and Prose (one of my favorite places in the world) and sent it to me. I'm going to pass it on to other people in my knitting group, since it is a really lovely collection of short pieces perfect for knitters!

Posted by Emily at 07:55 AM | Comments (2)

May 27, 2004

The Confusion

theconfusion.jpgWell, since my net connection was down all morning, I used it as an excuse to finish up The Confusion, the second in Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle. We rejoin our friends Jack Shaftoe, Daniel Waterhouse, Eliza Countess de la Zeur, and countless other characters for 832 pages of exciting, complicated, and bizarre adventures.

The third part is due out September 21st!

Posted by Emily at 05:56 PM | Comments (0)

May 14, 2004

Laurie King

About 100 people showed up tonight at the Friends of the Los Gatos Library's Friday Forum with author Laurie King. (She's up there in the front of the room in the purple scarf). I stopped at Border's on the way there and picked up a copy of her new book, The Game, which she signed for me.

The dedication in the book reads:

For the librarians everywhere, who spend their lives in battle against the forces of darkness.

and she spoke a lot about doing research at the McHenry Library at UCSC and how amazing the reference librarians were there. (Go Margaret!)

BeeKeeper's ApprenticeI read The BeeKeeper's Apprentice a couple of weeks ago and forgot to blog about it (bad!). It was fantastic -- its the story of Sherlock Holmes' very cool young female appentice! Laurie King has written 14 books so far, and is at work on the next one in that series which takes place in San Francisco (which is where Holmes and Mary stop after being in India in The Game). I'd also like to read Folly, which someone asked her some questions about tonight.

She was a great speaker and it was fun to go to a Friends of the Library event (plus it was a lovely night to be walking around town).

Posted by Emily at 11:54 PM | Comments (0)

May 12, 2004

Naked in Death

nakedindeath.jpgI'm way behind in blogging about books I've been reading, but I did manage to finish one last night, J.D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts)'s Naked in Death, which BobbiLynn loaned me. A bit more intense than the mysteries I generally gravitate toward, but I loved the characters and the fact that it takes place in a high-tech future. Its the first of a series of 16 or more, so I may be hooked...

Thank you BobbiLynn for a great recommendation!

Other ones I need to write up from the last few weeks:

The Good Guide (which I read for my Reference class paper and which will be useful for my work at The Tech)
Miss Zukas and the Library Murders (I'm hoping the main librarian character gets a little less stereotypically uptight in later books)
Something from the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America by Laura Shapiro (fabulous! Makes me wish I had majored in sociology and gone on to do cool sociological research like that! Did you know that Betty Friedan and Julia Child came on the scene and published their revolutionary books eight days apart?)

Now that the semester is almost over, its definitely time for a "summer reading" meeting of the book club!

Posted by Emily at 10:49 PM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2004

Go Eat Ice Cream! (tomorrow)

icecream.gifFrom LIS News, which reports that the ice cream is on the house tomorrow, April 28 6-10pm, and for every scoop given away, Baskin-Robbins makes a donation to First Book to provide new books for underprivileged kids.

(hmmm... I'll have to try their Cafe Mocha Nonfat Soft Serve Yogurt)

Posted by Emily at 12:35 PM | Comments (1)

April 24, 2004

Book Meme

I just thought that this was so much fun -- feel free to join in!

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

(via Icon Template)

"Collaborative advantage often involves creating new ways to think and work with others that presently may not exist, not just simply combining two technologies like ingredients in an omelet."
Mastering the Art of Creative Collaboration by Robert Hargrove

... and yes, I'm procrastinating, but I'm having a terrible time coming up with a search on "a subject of interest to you" for my 244 homework on Lexis-Nexis...

Posted by Emily at 10:04 PM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2004

World Book and Copyright Day

worldbookday.jpgI know, I know, if I start posting every "National such-and-such Week" and "World such-and-such day", I'll drive everyone crazy, but I love these things, and so here's another.

Did you know that today is World Book and Copyright Day?

"UNESCO's General Conference .. pay[s] a world-wide tribute to books and authors on this date, encouraging everyone, and in particular young people, to discover the pleasure of reading and gain a renewed respect for the irreplaceable contributions of those who have furthered the social and cultural progress of humanity."

(they chose today because April 23 is Shakespeare's Birthday)

The Center for the Book in South Africa has some nice information on it as well. I really like their event posters (right sidebar).

Interestingly in England, they celebrated it on March 4th.

Posted by Emily at 09:31 AM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2004

Turning Pages

turningpages.jpgCheck out this great site from the British Library, Turning the Pages where you can flip through books like Leonardo's Notebook and a 14th century Hagaddah, magnify sections, hear audio commentary, etc. Very nice!

Posted by Emily at 10:20 AM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2004

Another crisis book

Mom sent me an article today from last week's CT Post entitled, A Midlife Crisis at 30: Women of Generation X Search for Balance of Work, Family by Beth Whitehouse (syndicated nationally from the LA Times)

It draws on the book Midlife Crisis at 30 : How the Stakes Have Changed for a New Generation--And What to Do about It by Lia Macko and Kerry Rubin. (There's also an excerpt here)

I just hope its better than the Quarter Life Crisis was (which left us all wanting to go out and write a better book ourselves). Hmm... maybe I should get this new one and Facing 30:Women Talk About Constructing a Real Life and Other Scary Rites of Passage by Lauren Dockett, Kristin Beck for Carrie's upcoming birthday (though I bet someone else already thought of that) (257 days more for me, but who's counting)

Posted by Emily at 03:26 PM | Comments (2)

April 08, 2004


Oh no! I found this site while looking for a list of fiction with librarians as the main characters for my Reference class, and now I'm going to want to read all of them!

What are bibliomysteries?

"mysteries that have settings, plots, or substantial characters in them related ot the world of books, writers, archives, and libraries."

Posted by Emily at 10:32 PM | Comments (1)

April 03, 2004

Murder Walks the Plank

murderplank.jpgThere are few things more satisfying in life than finishing a mystery by one's favorite author! I just finished Caroline Hart's latest, Murder Walks the Plank. Its apparently the 15th (?!!?!) book featuring Death on Demand Mystery Bookstore owner Annie Lawrence Darling and her utterly adorable husband Max Darling. She is consistently my favorite mystery writer and just gets better and better each time! The best part is the name-dropping of all the other mystery writers and characters throughout the book. Even one of the other characters is a mystery writer who keeps quoting from her own characters! Thanks to Mom for sending it along!

Posted by Emily at 03:42 PM | Comments (1)

March 30, 2004

The Path

thepath.jpgJust finished The Path: A One-Mile Walk Through the Universe by Chet Raymo, a professor of physics and astonomy at Stonehill College in North Easton, MA. The book "chronicles the universe he has found by closely observing every detail" of his one mile walk from his house to work. "He connects the local to the global, the microscopic to the galactic, with a scientist's curiosity, a historian's respect for the path, and a child's capacity for wonder." It was a lovely read and leaves you wanting to go out for a walk in the woods or to plant something and watch it unfold over time. There's a wonderful environmental message, but mostly a great sense of how amazing the world is and how we should stop and take a look at it.

Posted by Emily at 10:30 AM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2004

Book Club, #2

bookclub2.jpgOur bookclub met today at Ellen's for more good food and talk (about lots of things besides books, and some talk of books). Here we are (Ellen, Tina, Emy, BobbiLynn, and me.)

Some of the things we talked about/recommended:

Jasper Fforde books (since Ellen recommended Jane Eyre, I had to jump in and mention The Eyre Affair)
Rediscovering Nancy Drew by Carolyn Stewart Dyer and Nancy Tillman Romalov
The Girl Sleuth (by Bobbie Ann Mason -- almost another BobbiLynn)
Girl Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen (and also the movie)
East of Eden and The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes (and the movie)
Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand (and the movie)
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (and the movie)
The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio (10 stories, people hiding out from the plague)

(and actually recommended by people in knitting group:
The Brothers K by David James Duncan
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Secret Lives of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Bee Season by Myla Goldberg --
I had brought up Bee books because I was trying to remember the name of the Los Gatos Town-Wide Read, which turns out to actually be The Bee Keeper's Apprentice by Laurie King instead)

6th Sense
Mork and Mindy
Brideshead Revisited
Scarlett Pimpernell
Arrested Development
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Hildago (mostly because Aragon is in it)
Never Ending Story
Princess Bride
Whale Rider

Places to go
Outside of the Campbell library, there is apparently a word-find of children's authors in the cement -- will have to check when I work there 4/8
Thoroughly Modern Millie (BobbiLynn and I saw an ad on the back of a bus and want to go see it here in San Jose)
Santa Clara County Library

Questions to ponder
How does the Care Bear Theme Song go? (Lyrics and .wav file of Care Bear Count-Down, 5-4-3-2-1 -- funny, I thought it would sound more familiar...)
What percentage of your brain are you actually using? Is the 10% figure people cite include all the things like breathing?
How can I learn to take better minutes in meetings? Should I learn short-hand?
What ever happened to Jello pudding pops? (Look! petition to bring them back!)
Can you freeze jello pudding? (In fact, here's a recipe for Homemade Pudding Pops!)
Don't take "stunning" as a complement from Ellen...
Where does the phrase "hoochie mama" come from (and how do you spell it?) (The Urban Dictionary says it is a "polite term used by women to define other women as sluts", but I'm still looking for word-origins)
Making jewelry out of people's ashes (no, really, check out Life Gem -- eeww)
And knitting from one's pet's fur (see VIP Fibers: Hand-spun yarn from your very important pet, though my favorite is the headline Making mittens out of kittens)
Happy endings...

Posted by Emily at 06:40 PM | Comments (0)

March 22, 2004

The Pursuit of Alice Thrift

alicethrift.jpgFinished a very enjoyable Elinor Lipman on the plane back -- The Pursuit of Alice Thrift, which Mom had passed along a while back after she read a bunch of the author's works. It is the story of a workaholic surgical intern without any social skills who falls into an ill-fated romantic entaglement with a lying fudge-salesman.

Posted by Emily at 12:53 PM | Comments (1)

March 17, 2004

Ruby in the Smoke

Lisa sent me The Ruby in the Smoke by Phillip Pullman (author of the excellent His Dark Materials Trilogy: The Golden Compass / The Subtle Knife / The Amber Spyglass books. Finished it tonight -- a nice quick, but fun read. I definitely liked the characters and would like to read the other ones in this series. I'm still sorry that Hanna and I never made it to the stage version of His Dark Materials in London (though Aunt Susan reported hating it).

Posted by Emily at 09:55 PM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2004


eragon.jpgFinished Eragon by Chrisopher Paolini, which I learned about from the library's mailing list when they started circulating copies. The author is an 18 year-old kid and the book has caused quite a sensation. I've read mixed reviews -- there's certainly nothing new in it, we could be in any number of other worlds like Middle Earth -- but I couldn't put it down. I'm hoping to pass it along to Eduard when he comes to visit in a couple of weeks, and will definitely pick up the next in the series when it comes out. I've certainly read better fantasy, but it was a good read.

Posted by Emily at 05:51 PM | Comments (1)

February 24, 2004

Fun Fact

From Jasper Fforde, one of my current favorite authors:

"The name of Thursday's husband, Landen Parke-Laine, comes from what happens if you are playing Monopoly and land on the first of the blue set -- a U.S. translation might be 'Landen Boarde-Walke.' Hence, his parents' names, mentioned in Lost in a Good Book, are 'Houson Parke-Laine' and 'Billden Parke-Laine.' "

From an interview with the author by Barnes and Noble

Posted by Emily at 08:29 AM | Comments (0)

February 19, 2004

Fahrenheit 451

I somehow managed to get through high school without reading Ray Bradbury's 1953 classic, Fahrenheit 451, but since it was this year's Silicon Valley Reads selected book, I thought it was time that I did.

Its definitely one of those ones you have to read in your life.

The author has a nice site at http://www.raybradbury.com/ as well.

Posted by Emily at 10:16 AM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2004

Digital Fortress

digitalfortress.jpgI had bought Mom Dan Brown's Digital Fortress for Hanukkah and she recently sent me back a copy. I have to admit I couldn't put it down. Its a really quick read (helped by the fact that most chapters are only a couple of pages so its way too easy to tell yourself you'll just read one more... and then another...) However, I felt that the codes it was based on were too obvious and given away to the reader way before the characters finally figured them out, and the premise isn't as interesting as his DaVinci Code or Angels and Demons. It'd be a great airplane read though -- you'd be across the country in no time.

Posted by Emily at 09:00 AM | Comments (0)

February 08, 2004

Book Group!


Today was the first meeting of our new book group!

I forgot to take the picture until after Marisa already left, but here are Laura, Brenda, Tina, Ellen and I with a pile of books, mugs of tea, and lots of cookies and brownies.

We talked about books, movies, tv shows, history, religion, and a little bit of everything!

Rather than all reading one particular book, we thought we'd all just come prepared to talk about some of the books we've liked and be able to hear about a wide range of different books.

Here are some of the books that I noted that I wanted to look into:

Thank you all for coming and for the great book suggestions! Feel free to add more by commenting here!

Posted by Emily at 07:56 PM | Comments (4)

February 06, 2004

Sorcery and Cecelia

Finished Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot: Being the Correspondence of Two Young Ladies of Quality Regarding Various Magical Scandals in London and the Country by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia C. Wrede and am going to pack it up and mail it to Carrie H. for Chocolate Appreciation Day (aka Valentine's Day) since I think it will appeal to her Jane Austen sensibilities (with a bit of magic thrown in for fun.)

Posted by Emily at 12:28 PM | Comments (557)

February 02, 2004


timeline.jpgBobbiLynn lent me her copy of Timeline by Michael Crichton. I loved it and immediately had to write to Hanna because its closely related to her own projects (without the dangerous time travel, as far as I know). It reads a bit like a movie script and makes me want to see the movie (though everyone says it's awful).

Thanks BobbiLynn for the great recommendation (see, my book group idea is already paying off!)

Posted by Emily at 05:57 PM | Comments (6)

January 27, 2004

So Many Books, So Little Time

somanybooks.jpgMom sent me Sara Nelson's So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading, which I finished this morning. I thought it was a lot of fun. Its really more than the books she read, but how they found her and what they meant to her.

Here's a list of some of the ones from the book that I think I'll add to my to-do pile:

Personal History by Katherine Graham

How Boys See Girls by David Gilmour

The Ginger Tree Oswald Wynd

Heartburn by Nora Ephron (an old favorite to reread)

House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (though I HATED Ethan Frome in high school)

Floater by Calvin Trillin (I loved Tepper isn't Going Out)

And Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich (Which Carrie has offered to lend me next time I visit her)

and I want that: How we all Became Shoppers by Thomas Hine

Posted by Emily at 11:57 AM | Comments (0)

January 23, 2004

Home: A Short History of an Idea

Finshed Home: A Short History of an Idea by Witold Rybcznski last night. I had bought it with Carrie at our trip to the GreenApple bookstore in SF.

Its a quick journey through time tracing the history of the idea of home and of comfort.

He writes that:

[Comfort] is an idea that has meant different things at different times. In the seventeeth century, comfort meant privacy, which lead to intimacy and, in turn, to domesticity. The eighteenth century shifted the emphasis to leasure and ease, the nineteenth to mechanically aided comforts -- light, heat, and ventilation. The twentieth-century domestic engineers stressed efficiency and convenience. At various times, and in response to various outside forces -- social, economic, and technological - the idea of comfort has changed, sometimes drastically. (231)

and urges that, "We must rediscover for ourselves the mystery of comfort, for without it, our dwellings will indeed by machines instead of homes." (232)

181krsth.jpgI liked the book and the way each chapter started with an image of the home in art and a quote about home or comfort from literature (similar to how Alan talks about Hay in art and literature). This is one of the paintings he used, Georg Friedrich Kersting's Girl Embroidering (c. 1814) for the chapter entitled "Ease" (along with a Jane Austen quote from Emma: "Ah! There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.") [I found the image on a site with notes and illustrations on Regency clothing styles from a site called The Republic of Pemberley: Your haven in a world programmed to misunderstand obsession with things Austen.]

Posted by Emily at 09:23 AM | Comments (19)

January 14, 2004

Better Together

bettertogether.jpgWhile Mr. Duncan continued to work on my DSL (including taking the modem with him to the central office for a few hours for more testing), I finished Robert Putnam and Lewis Feldstein's Better Together: Restoring the American Community which Lisa had sent me for Hanukkah (and which I had read most of before leaving for London). Not as good as Putnam's Bowling Alone, one of my all time favorites and most-quoted in papers in college and grad school, but there were lots of interesting elements. Its a selection of case studies of social capital -- including an example of branch libraries in Chicago and of Craig's List, as well as churches, schools, neighborhoods and cities from around the country addressing a variety of issues.

I found it interesting that the book distinguishes between two types of social capital: "Some networks link people who are similar in crucial respoects and tent to be inward looking -- bonding social capital. Others emcompass different types of people and tend to be outward-looking -- brindging social capital." Bonding social capital is compared to "a kid of sociological Super Glue, whereas bridging social capital provides a sociological WD-40." (2)

In discussing online communities (a pet topic of mine of course), he writes:

Computer-based technology matters not because it can create some new and separate form of virtual community, but because it can broaden and deepen and strengthen our physical communities. Just as an alloy is a mixture of several metals that has different and more advantageous properties than those of any of its consituents, so we should be aiming to craft alloys of electronic and face-to-face networks that are more powerful and useful than either kind alone." (293)

Posted by Emily at 07:41 PM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2004

What Should I do with My Life?

pobronson.jpgI bought Po Bronson's What Should I Do With My Life? at Hethrow airport and thought it would go well with the career counselling I got as my brithday present. I read the whole thing flying across the country today and thought it was fabulous. I'm going to pass it on to Carrie next, but I'd definitely recommend it to everyone. It has great stories of people who are trying to figure out what to do -- something I'm certainly working on.

Posted by Emily at 10:07 AM | Comments (0)

Well of Lost Plots

welloflostplots.jpgI was in the airport at Heathrow and saw The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde, the third book of one of my favorite series -- and it doesn't come out in the states until next month!!! It was as good as the others -- plus there are deleted scenes and other treats at http://jasperfforde.com/. I had just recommended the first one (The Eyre Affair) to Hanna while I was visiting and was able to finish this one in time to leave it with Mom to read next.

Posted by Emily at 09:13 AM | Comments (0)

January 06, 2004

Altered Carbon

alteredcarbon.jpgAt Hethrow Airport this morning I finished Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan which was a fast-paced cyberpunk detective story. I can't remember who had recommended it or where I had read about it (it may have been an Amazon suggestion), but I really enjoyed it. It takes place in a futuristic Bay Area where people are able to be resleeved into other bodies...

Posted by Emily at 05:43 PM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2003

The Dragon Charmer

dragoncharmer.jpgFinished Jan Siegel's The Dragon Charmer today while waiting for someone to FINALLY take their wet clothes out of the washing machine so I could do my laundry. A bit denser than the first one of the series, Prospero's Children and not quite as gripping, but still hard to put down.

Posted by Emily at 08:14 PM | Comments (0)

December 11, 2003

Deception Point

deception.jpgBobbiLynn leant me Dan Brown's Deception Point which I finished today. Not as good as his other books, but a very enjoyable quick read and more grist for the conspiracy mills. I'm going to bring it home for Mom to read before I return it to BobbiLynn.

Posted by Emily at 07:57 PM | Comments (0)

December 09, 2003

Return of the King

returnoftheking.jpgReread Return of the King so I could go see the movie next week (Eduard's promised to take me). I've been rereading them one at a time right before the movies come out so they're fresh in my mine (the movies have been great, but the books even better!) I was hoping I could convince him to read it as well but its pretty much hopeless!

Posted by Emily at 08:03 PM | Comments (0)

November 29, 2003

The Little Women

littlewomen.jpgFinished The Little Women by Katharine Weber last night. Its a story of three sisters who basically run away from home when they find out that their mother had an affair. Their names are Meg, Jo, and Amy and they move in with a friend name Teddy, so there's a great deal of Little Women reference throughout the book. It grew on me by the end, but there are these annoying notes from the sisters that were kind of whiney throughout the text.

Posted by Emily at 11:04 AM | Comments (0)

November 25, 2003

The Probable Future

probablyfuture.jpgFinished Alice Hoffman's The Probable Future today by the author of Practical Magic (which I didn't read, but I saw the movie ages ago)

I love trips where you can just keep reading!

Posted by Emily at 07:04 PM | Comments (0)

November 24, 2003

Angels and Demons

angels.jpgFinished Dan Brown's Angels and Demons, a prequel to The DaVinci Code. Just as gripping (though a bit gruesome at times and without the cool feminist angle), and another very fun read.

Posted by Emily at 09:23 PM | Comments (0)

November 18, 2003

Adventures in Time and Space with Max Merriwell

timeandspace.jpgAdventures in Time and Space with Max Merriwell by Pat Murphy, one of the best books I've read in quite a while (up there with Lost in a Good Book) [Mom, I'll bring it to you to read on our trip]

The main character is even a librarian, and the author works at the Exploratorium!

Posted by Emily at 05:45 PM | Comments (0)

November 16, 2003

Beginner's Luck

beginnersluck.jpgFinished Beginner's Luck by Laura Pederson this morning. Lisa sent it to me in the latest batch of fun books. I wasn't sure about it at first but the main character, a 16-year old high-school drop-out gambler girl, totally grew on me and the crazy people she goes to live with were just delightful.

Posted by Emily at 10:37 AM | Comments (1)

November 11, 2003

Prospero's Children

prosperos.jpgA quick escape into fantasy -- i just finished Prospero's Children by Jan Siegel. Magic, mermaids, a trip through a painting into Atlantis... quite a nice way to escape :)

Posted by Emily at 11:37 AM | Comments (0)

November 07, 2003

River of Shadows

riverofshadows.jpgFinished River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West by Rebecca Solnit. I checked it out from the Library the day Margaret, Alan and I took a tour. He had found it in the browsing area and dared my to read the first chapter and not want to read the whole thing. I, of course, loved it and read the whole thing.

horses.jpgIts a history of Eadweard Muybridge, famous for his motion-study photographs that helped lead to cinema, and really a wonderful portrait of California and the West (including Leland Stanford and Silicon Valley). Towards the end she writes:

"Muybridge pursued the transformation of bodies and places into representations, representations that in some ways fed that unslaked desire for landscape, geography, beauty, embodiment, and the life of the senses, but Stanford, who hammered the Golden Spike, pursued the annihilation of time and space without mercy, without misgivings, without deference to what might be lost, and this might be the difference between Hollywood and Silicon Valley. Hollywood would become the center of the world of movies, while Silicon Valley is the center of the world of information technology, and in the way these two institutions dominate the world one can say California is the center of the contemporrary world, but of a world in which time and space have been annihilated, a world that is in some obscure way so dismbodied, dislocated, and dematerialized that the very idea of a center is perplexing." (258-9)

Posted by Emily at 05:56 PM | Comments (0)

October 30, 2003

Life of Pi

lifeofpi.jpgFinished Life of Pi by Yann Martel today on the bus. I chose it because its one of the options for Silicon Valley Reads. (I actually voted for Daughter of Fortune since it seemed more appropriate)

Life of Pi was great though! Its a crazy story of an Indian boy shipwrecked for months on a lifeboat with a Bengel Tiger!

Posted by Emily at 09:58 PM | Comments (0)

October 26, 2003

Dewey Decimal System of Love

dewey.jpgFinished The Dewey Decimal System of Love by Josephine Carr. Pretty awful. I was hoping for a fun, light book with a librarian lead, but this was pretty terrible. Nice slice of Philadelphia life though.

Posted by Emily at 03:44 PM | Comments (0)

October 25, 2003

Leonardo's Laptop

leonardo.jpgFinished Leonardo's Laptop by Ben Schneiderman. Not great, but maybe I've just been around user-centered design too long already.

Posted by Emily at 03:43 PM | Comments (0)

October 21, 2003


quicksilver.jpgJust finally finished Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 1) (it helped to have a nice long plane ride to dedicate to it). He's one of my favorite authors (loved Cyptonomicon, Diamond Age, Snow Crash, etc.)

Part II, The Confusion, is supposed to be coming April 13, 2004.

Posted by Emily at 07:18 PM | Comments (0)

October 17, 2003

Morality for Beautiful Girls

morality.jpgStarted and finished Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith yesterday. Its the 3rd in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. There's a new one in hardback that I'll have to go get now.

Posted by Emily at 07:10 AM | Comments (0)

October 12, 2003

The Alphabet Versus the Goddess

goddess.jpg I finally finished The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image, by Leonard Shlain. I've been reading it in bits and pieces on the bus and light rail so it took me a lot longer than it should have to get to the end. I really enjoyed it though and highly recommend it! The premise is basically that literacty reinforces the masculine left hemisphere and devalues the right (which processes tasks traditionally female) and that this factor inflamed misogyny in literate societies. He shows how basically every society went crazy (for a while anyway) when literacy spread (resulting in the destroying of images, burning of witches, etc.). He does end with the optimistic view that television and the Internet are helping to reinforce images again which is allowing for much better treatment of women and values such as respecting the environment and diversity.

"Trapped in the center of a spinning washing machine, it is difficult for anyone so positioned to appreciate that the clothes tumbling violenty about are becoming cleaner." (p. 418)

Posted by Emily at 06:00 PM | Comments (0)

September 09, 2003

Toward Consilience

Ack! for some reason this entry about the book Toward Consilience was replaced with icky spam!

Posted by Emily at 09:31 PM | Comments (0)

September 01, 2003

Full Frontal PR

fullfrontal.jpgSpent some of Labor Day trying to catch up on reading Full Frontal PR: Building Buzz About Your Business, Your Product, or You for our upcoming Group Jazz (virtual) retreat.

Posted by Emily at 03:05 PM | Comments (0)

August 29, 2003

The DaVinci Code

davincicode.jpgKaty originally recommended that I read The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (she had finished it and was then reading The Name of the Rose) and then Mom passed along her copy after reading it on her California visit. I couldn't put it down!

BobbiLynn saw my copy today and mentioned that there were secrets to be learned at www.danbrown.com so now I have to go try to figure them out...

I'm now reading The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image, by Leonard Shlain. I've had it sitting on my shelf for over a year, but it seemed like the perfect follow-up book.

Posted by Emily at 06:28 PM | Comments (0)
Emily's Musings: Books