Thursday, July 31, 2008

More Harry Potter

See, I post on Potter and then there's all this BIG POTTER NEWS!

First off, in case you missed it, the teaser trailer for Half Blood Prince is now out and circulating on the internets:

AND! Even more exciting is the release of Tales of Beedle the Bard which are the fairy tales that Rowling wrote for charity last year. Proceeds are going to charity AND the book is annotated by none other than Prof. Dumbledore.

I am seriously, dork-lisciously lusting after the Collector's Edition

And here's some more Potter love for you:

Listen to Potterwatch by The Basilisk in Your Pasta (how bad is it that I ALWAYS misread that as "The Basilisk in Your Pants?")

And... for some more video silliness

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mr Potter, I presume?

It's been over a year now, so maybe I should *finally* get around to reviewing

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling

Because I'm sure I have something new to add to the discussion. However, I can't review this without some spoilers. I just can't, and it's my blog, so I don't have to. SUCKERS. Normally, I put my spoil-y bits on my spoiler blog but that is not the case today. You have been warned: see--

After reading it, I posted my initial thoughts here. And they still stay the same.

It was interesting, after reading Order of the Phoenix and The Half-Blood Prince, I immediately picked up Sorcerer's Stone and worked my way back through the series, ending by rereading the most recent one. That was my plan for Book 7, but when I put it down shortly after dawn that Saturday morning, I was shattered. And I never reread this final book. Last week, I checked out the audio and last night I finished listening to it, but it's taken me this long before I could revisit it. I don't know why. There's something about Harry, and about this series, that grabbed me, and many readers, in a way other books haven't, and let's face it, I'm a total book dork, so I think it messed with my brain.

I'm still unsure of what to say about this book. I'm still struck by how funny it is. Even when I was crying, I was laughing. Always the tone of surprise...

Luckily, the Weekly Geeks provided many questions for me to answer about the book, so I don't have to craft my own review. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Alessandra asks: How did you like it? Was it very far from what you expected? And what did you think about the epilogue?

1. I loved it.
2. Yes and no.

Some things were exactly what I expected--Ron and Hermione would finally hook up, characters I loved would die, they would find all the Horcruxes, Harry himself was a Horcrux (even though I really, really, really wanted to be wrong on that one), Percy would come back, Snape really was good, RAB was Regulus, Voldemort would be defeated.

Some things weren't--the humor, I was surprised at some of the people she killed off (I mean really, HEDWIG?!), the whole Hallows thing, all the camping camping camping...

3. The Epilogue was... interesting. That really wasn't what I was expecting, I mean, there wasn't anything in it that surprised me, but I was thinking more of an Animal House type thing where it was be something along the lines of:

Harry Potter married Ginny and they had 3 kids with overly predictable and boring names. He became an auror and never returned to finish his last year of school.

Neville Longbottom became Professor of Herbology and married Hannah Abbot.

Luna Lovegood disappeared into the jungle and proved the existence of everything Hermione said wasn't real.

Draco Malfoy suffers from male pattern baldness.

I did want more information-- what jobs people had, what about everyone who didn't have kids, etc.

Jackie M asks: What were your thoughts on the revelations Snape revealed to Harry right before the last battle? What did you think of the "Deathly Hallows"?

I always knew Snape was good. (Seriously, before the book came out, I wore my Trust Snape shirt all the time.) I liked the revelations-- I mean, the After all this time? Always. Totally got me. Also, I think they explained things well as to his actions and motivations.

Now, I long suspected, but hoped against hope that Harry was a horcrux. As it became obvious during that part that he was, I just kept going "no! no! no!" I couldn't believe it! Luckily, it all worked out in the end.

The whole Deathly Hallows thing? I have to say, kinda lame. I'm not entirely sure they were necessary. But I do like when Harry finally makes that decision between Hallows and Horcruxes and turns his back on the hallows, which is something I didn't really grasp when I read it, but struck me more on the listen.

Bart's Bookshelf asks: How did the various character deaths affect your reading of the book?

I think only 1 death affected my reading, and that was Hedwig's. Don't get me wrong, everyone else affected me but Hedwig was the only that changed my reading. For those who aren't into Potter, Hedwig was Harry's owl, since the beginning, and she was mad at Harry for being cooped up in her cage and then caught a killing curse meant for him. All this happened within the first 15 minutes of my reading.

The quick death of such a long-standing, yet admittedly minor character, but one loved by Harry, set the tone for the rest of the book. I knew at that moment that this was going to be nothing short of a blood bath. I hadn't recovered yet when we found out that MadEye was gone. Due to the overwhelming emotions this brought out in me, I didn't cry much for the body count racked up "off screen." Where I felt sad for MadEye, Lupin, Tonks, etc, I didn't really cry for them. Colin, however got me. He was tiny even in death... man.

My one main unresolved question from the series though, my one burning question I never see addressed, is a character death question, and here it is:


Last we saw, she was chucked off a balcony into the foyer and is "twitching feebly". Greyback goes to eat her, but Hermione curses him away and then Trelawney chucks crystal balls at his head. Then the whole place is overrun by giant, man-eating spiders and we never see, nor hear anything about Lavender again. WAS SHE EATEN BY GIANT SPIDERS?

Because really, for Ron's ex-girlfriend to be eaten by spiders?

Bookchronicle asks: I am a long time Harry Potter disliker though I am attempting to amend that. Why do you find the series and particularly the final book appealing? it what you expected? Are you disappointed that it's the end of the Potter world?

If you don't like Potter, you don't like Potter. And you know what? THAT'S OK. I am a total fan girl geek, but if you have the boy wizard a fair shot and it wasn't your thing, THAT'S OK. Now, if you never even tried it, but are anti-Potter, I have no time for you, but if you tried it and don't like it? THAT'S OK. Not every book is for every reader, Potter included.

Now, the questions:

1. I don't know. I read the first book in one sitting. My boss told me to read it and loaned me her copy (this is back when I was working ILL for my college library, way before I became a children's librarian). I sat down to read a bit of it. Eventually, I had to go to the bathroom, but wanted to finish my chapter but then, I couldn't leave it there! I had to keep reading. I'm surprised my bladder didn't explode, because I held it for half the book. It's not the best writing, but the story is good, and Rowling makes you care about the characters, maybe not all of them, but some of them.

Anyway, I've read lots of articles on the appeal of Potter-- partly the Cinderella escapism, the blending of a school story with an apprenticeship story. It's oddly funny. I also think the characters had a lot to do with it, and not necessarily the main characters, but there is a whole slew of really great secondary characters. My favorites are Ginny and McGonagall. We don't see a lot of them, but when we do (especially Ginny in the later books when she gets a personality) there's something really there. Or the twins are fantastic. The scene where they drop out of school is priceless.

When follow dorks and I would play that "who's going to die" guessing game, my strongest feelings were for the minor characters.

3. I wouldn't say disappointed, she ended a story arc that was 7 books long. While I would welcome more, I'm not expecting it. I am however, sad. Just as sad as I was when I finished Narnia in 6th grade. Luckily, I'm a librarian, so I had other things to read to keep me going. And we still have movies to look forward to and the whole Potter-mania thing that won't die for quite some time yet.

And that's it for Harry. Let me know if you have more questions though-- I love to talk Potter.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Nonfiction Monday

First, a few announcements

My Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing with Fire contest was won by Miss Erin. (It's in the mail!)

Also, the Minx title Burnout , which I reviewed this spring is now out and available for purchase.

Anyway, it's Nonfiction Monday. I will be honest and say that this review draws heavily from the review I wrote for class.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West Dee Brown

A little background-- I had to read 2 non-fiction YA books for class. This title really is an adult title, but it was on the YA shelves at work because it is used a lot in classrooms. I've been meaning to read this for awhile, so I picked it up. Because when I have to read a bunch of books for school, I don't take the easy way, no siree bob. Let me pick a book with 400 pages! GO ME!

In this impressive work, Brown chronicles the Indian Wars of nineteenth century, from the Native American point of view. Each chapter chronicles the sufferings of a different tribe as the work moves through time. Meticulously researched (although only direct quotations are sourced), Brown relies on the voices of the time period. Each chapter opens with significant events in world history as the century progresses, and relevant quotations from the players in that chapter’s narrative. The style of the chapters changes, as they are told in what assumes is the traditional narrative style of the tribe or nation being discussed. Photographs, often posed portraits, are sprinkled throughout, as well as traditional Native American chants, complete with musical notation.

Due to the changing geographic nature of the story, the book would benefit greatly from the inclusion of at least one map. (Although this one is really helpful if you want to read next to your computer. I know it looks small, but if you click on it, it enlarges.) Also, due to the overlapping nature of many of the stories told, a comprehensive timeline would also be helpful. A list of people mentioned in the book would also be helpful. Sometimes players emerge chapters later, sometimes players have multiple names. This multiple naming is especially true of the white generals and administrators who were given different names in different languages.

Despite its flaws, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is an important work to balance out the historical record. The narrative’s story-telling style adds to the power of the work, as well as making this often over-looked side of history gut-wrenching and accessible to high school readers. Contains table of contents, bibliography, and full index. Photo credits included in captions. Recommended for collections catering to a high school audience or older.

Round up is at Picture Book of the Day!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Adult Nonfiction Monday. Scandals, Gossip, and the 4-term President

Franklin and Lucy: President Roosevelt, Mrs. Rutherfurd, and the Other Remarkable Women in His Life Joseph E. Persico

On a personal level, here is my favorite passage from the book*, and the most interesting new thing I learned:

Washington in the summer was near unendurable. The heat descended as soon as the sun rose and still baked the city as night fell. In the days before air conditioning, the capital was reportedly rated a tropical post entitling diplomats to a hardship supplement.

That really has nothing to do with the book, but HOLY COW PEOPLE! IT'S HOT OUT! I'm just a poor northern girl melting away in a DC summer.

Anyway, the book. Persico has written on FDR before. This time, he turns away from politics, government, and war and instead turns to Roosevelt's personal life. Persico's main thesis is that to understand Roosevelt, you have to understand his relationships with others, particularly women.

The book focuses on key relationships-- his overbearing mother Sara, his wife Eleanor, his various mistresses, mainly Lucy Rutherford and Missy LeHand, his daughter Anna and a few other cousins. The political life, and the historical events that surround this story are all background material, mentioned in passing, always in the background.

Persico was recently given access to correspondence between Roosevelt and Lucy that was though long-missing, and that provides the backbone of his story, as well as interviews, diaries, and even other current scholarly thought.

The portrait that emerges is one of a Roosevelt who needed women to be supportive, but submissive. At the same time, we see the relationship with his wife Eleanor to be one of professional and political soul-mates who worked amazingly well together for the betterment of the country, but couldn't relate on a personal level, so they sought personal fulfillment elsewhere.

Perhaps the most complicated figure in all of this is Eleanor. Persico devotes several chapters to her relationships with others. Sometimes, it comes across almost a justification for the President's behavior-- it's ok that he has Lucy, because Eleanor has also found someone. But usually it's just shown as one more complicating factor in the lives we lead.

In the end, Persico paints a complex and deep portrait that neither condemns nor apologizes for the behavior of his subjects. At times Franklin is fighting against the odds for survival, at times he is jovial and loving, at times he is ruthless. As Persico explains in the conclusion, the reason Franklin's image survived his adulterous ways "is largely explained by the fact that revelations about his private life surfaced only after his legacy in history had been securely established. Further, the press largely left his personal life alone."*

Bybee asks, as part of the Weekly Geek challenge, to my post here, "What did you think of the FDR/Lucy biography? Was it a scholarly effort, or just salacious gossip?"

It was a scholarly effort, to the point where Persico sometimes bends over backwards to not delve into the gossipy. FYou can't write a book about love affairs without discussing whether or not the relationships had a physical aspect to them. As there is no evidence either way, Persico never says. However, he does lay out the case for both sides, often quoting historians who have gone out on a limb to state an opinion, so the reader can come up with their own conjectures. (Basically, only Roosevelt's legs were effected by the polio, so a physical relationship was medically possible, he was also an active man in his prime. But, he was also raised with strict Victorian morals, as were many of the women he was involved with so... who knows?)

*I'm reviewing from an ARC, so passages may be different from the published version.

ARC reviewed as part of LibraryThing's Early Reader's Program.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Music Meme

Radley's trying to start a meme that I love. He'll never tag me, so I'm just stealing it. I'm also changing it.

The original meme is... "So here’s my challenge: Name the five guiltiest, most embarrassing pleasures on your iPod–the songs you secretly, shamefully enjoy when no
one’s around. It should almost hurt revealing to the world that they’re in your collection."

The reasoning being that in the "Hit Shuffle and list the 10 songs that come up" memes, the list is oddly well balanced and shows a lot of street cred.

My meme is to Honestly do the hit shuffle and list 10 songs, and then also to list your 5 super-guilty songs.

My Honest List:

1. Belleville by Bireli Lagrene, from Gypsy Project

2. Waiting 4 U by Bai Kwong from Shanghai Lounge Divas (The original CD, not the remixes. The remixes suck.)

3. Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain by Willie Nelson from Vintage Country

4. Ektetina of the Prothesis from the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom by Sergei Rachmoaninov performed by Valery Polyansky and the National Academic Choir of Ukraine, from Rachmaninov: Vespers; Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom

5. Lawyers, Guns, and Money by The Wallflowers from Enjoy Every Sandwich: The Songs of Warren Zevon

6. Les cles du Paradis by Jane Birkin from Arabesque

7. L'amour de Moi by Jane Birkin from Arabesque

8. Friend of the Devil by Counting Crows from Films About Ghosts: The Best Of...

9. The First Noel (Attaboy House Party Remix) by Bing Crosby from A Six Degrees Collection: Christmas Remixed - Holiday Classics Re-Grooved

10. Note Olvidire by Pistolera from Siempre Hay Salida

Some comments: I find it really annoying that 2 songs from the same album played right in a row. Especially because I don't really like that album and am not entirely sure why it's on my iPod in the first place. Also, probably 50% of my iPod is from Putumayo CDs. I find it really weird that NONE of the songs played in this 10 song selection.

Now, let the mocking commence.

My guilty pleasures...

1. My iPod has a lot of Wizard Rock. To illustrate, I'm going with Ode to Lav-Lav by Roonil Wazlib. I probably downloaded this from their MySpace page. But some good Wizard Rock Mixes that I have on my iPod are Wizards and Muggles Rock For Social Justice and Wizards and Muggles Rock For Social Justice: Volume Two. Both have their fair share of hits and misses, but... if you like Wrock, check 'em out. I chose this one because of the following lyrics: Oh baby, you know you're pretty fun to snog/But snogging's kinda boring/ And I'm sort of worried that you'll give me an STD... O Lavender Brown, you're going down/ You may be hot, but Hermione's hotter/ I'm the Gryffindor King, you can't share my crown/ Hermione's great and you're just not her... Stop giving me hickeys/ I'm sick of your face and I'm not taking the mickey

2. I Got Nerve by Hannah Montana. This is one of those horrible moments when you're listening to the radio (or, in this case, Pandora) and you hear a song you really like and you get into it and then you find out who sings it and you die a little inside. But the song is your new best friend, just you know, in absolute secret.

3. Rehab Amy Winehouse. I don't know why I'm guilty about this. Maybe because it's so passe. It's so LAST YEAR or something. I still really like it.

4. Girlfriend Avril Lavigne. See Hannah Montana, above on my justification. Amazingly, it took me FOREVER to find that song in English. Apparently Avril has recorded that song in every language imaginable.

5. What I Go To School For Busted. I just like it. We listened to it a lot in Manchester.

Anyway, steal this meme if you feel like admitting your musical shame to the world.

Weekly Geeks #12

I've been meaning to particpate in Weekly Geeks for well... quite a few weeks now. So, I'm jumping in today with both feet.

This week, Dewey tells us to...

1. In your blog, list any books you’ve read but haven’t reviewed yet. If you’re all caught up on reviews, maybe you could try this with whatever book(s) you finish this week.

2. Ask your readers to ask you questions about any of the books they want. In your comments, not in their blogs. Most likely, people who will ask you questions will be people who have read one of the books or know something about it because they want to read it.

3. Later, take whichever questions you like from your comments and use them in a post about each book. I’ll probably turn mine into a sort of interview-review. Link to each blogger next to that blogger’s question(s).

4. Visit other Weekly Geeks and ask them some questions!

Here are my books, listed by month in which I read them... some of these will also be reviewed shortly...

April 2007 (yes, I know!)

Book Crush, Nancy Pearl
Junie B. Jones: Dumb Bunny Barbara Parks
Yang the Youngest and his Terrible Ear Lesley Namioka
From a Crooked Rib Naruddin Farah
The Invention of Hugo Cabret Brian Selznick
Special Topics in Calamity Physics Marisha Pessl
Exit A Anthony Swofford
Midnight at the Dragon Cafe Judy Fong Bates
Name Me Nobody Lois Ann Yamanaka

May 2007

Chicks with Sticks: Knit 2 Together Elizabeth Lenard

June 2007

The Embroidered Couch Lu Tiancheng

July 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows J. K. Rowling

September 2007

Bad Boys Ahoy! Sylvia Day
Drina Dances in Paris Jean Estoril
Drina Dances in Madiera Jean Estoril
Drina Dances in Switzerland Jean Estoril
Drina Dances on Tour Jean Estoril
Drina Ballerina Jean Estoril
Ask For It Sylvia Day
Champagne Rules Susan Lyons

October 2007

Jack of Fables: Jack of Hearts Bill Willingham

January 2008

The Murder of Bindy MacKenzie Jaclyn Moriarty
The Spell Book of Listen Taylor Jaclyn Moriarty
Regarding the Bees Kate Klise

February 2008

Tithe Holly Black

April 2008

Shopgirl Steve Martin

June 2008

Fables: The Good Prince Bill Willingham

July 2008

Stop in the Name of Pants! Louise Rennison
Serve the People Yan Lianke
Franklin and Lucy: President Roosevelt, Mrs. Rutherford and the Other Remarkable Women in his Life Joseph E. Persico
Snow Falling in Spring: Coming of Age in China During the Cultural Revolution Moying Li

Ask Away!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Poetry Friday

It's Poetry Friday! Yay!

Today's round-up is hosted by Kelly Fineman. Head on over and check it out. But first, my entry.

Today's poem opens up the YA Cultural Revolution memoir, Snow Falling in Spring by Moying Li.

Spring Remembrance by Wang Sengru (6th century)

When snow stops falling,
Leaves turn green.
When ice melts away,
Water glistens blue.
Once again, the yellow bird chirps,
All sing a song of memories.

I've just started reading the actual book, but expect a review soon!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Too bad Daddy's Amex can't buy you a soul...

I'm swimming in articles about YA literature. These articles mainly just made me love Roger even more than I already do. (We were reading "Problems, Paperbacks, and the Printz: 40 Year of YA Literature.") I read several articles that covered the same ground, but you can't beat Roger's tone of voice.

Which brings us to Gossip Girl in my mind. Somehow. Anyway, you know I love this series. Seriously love this series. I understand why people object, but sometimes I think they need to get over themselves. For class, we had to read another article, this time by Anita Silvey who discusses the rising trend of fantasy or other worlds over realistic fiction and how/why they are appealing to today's YA audience. To quote my friend Mary, who was talking about Sex and the City but the same idea holds, "It's fantasy, except instead of aliens they have men." And instead of wizards, they have shoes. They might not be super spies, but they are super shoppers in ways the majority of us can only be in our wildest dreams. And yes, I realize the irony of me posting this just after reading Liz's post revisiting class in YA lit.

Anyway, the actual books.

WARNING: I am reviewing books 3, 4, and 5 in a series. There will be spoilers for the books that come before it. It's the nature of the best.

Because I'm Worth It Cecily von Ziegesar

February. Fashion week. Nate gets busted for weed and meets an heiress. Serena gets model-discovered while shopping. Blair cuts her hair. Jenny makes a friend. Dan and Vanessa have drama I never expected.

It had been a long time since I had read Gossip Girl... in fact, over a year (I read a few for last year's 48 Hour Challenge). I had forgotten how fast paced it is. How the characters develop really slowly. (Can you believe I'm starting to feel sorry for Blair?!) How absolutely biting and funny it is.

No, it's not literature, but it's also now as trashy as you'd think.

I Like It Like That Cecily von Ziegesar

Spring Break! Woo! They may not life their shirts like Kitty or Tobias, but these kids still party.

Blair might just finally do the nasty with Serena's brother. Nate's geared up for a romantic getaway with Georgiana. Who might have something to do with why Serena got kicked out of boarding school. Too bad Chuck has shown up. (Dude, what's with Chuck?!) Awkward hilarity ensues. And back home, Jenny's stalking a nice boy and Dan is enduring the internship from hell. Oh, and we finally meet Vanessa's parents. Yikes.

Again, I'm really feeling Blair. I don't know why. And Nate. I was so happy when they broke up, because I was enjoying the series in a catty trash sort of way. I've started actually caring about the characters.

You're the One That I Want Cecily von Ziegesar

And... we all got into college! Or didn't! Serena needs to decide which school to attend, so she falls in love around the Ivies. Nate tries to be sweet by being a jerk. And something HUGE FINALLY happens. I'm surprised they didn't wait until the last book! And Blair is forced to be her mother's birth coach. And Dan and Vanessa play house. And wow Jenny. Wow.

There is SO MUCH going on in these books. I just kinda mentioned a handful of the plots. They're complicated. I had forgotten how much gossip there is in the books and how destructive it is. The characters know it, but can't help themselves, just like most people.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


So, this is going to be an interesting 2 months. I'm taking YA lit right now, and the reading is going to be insane. In a good way, of course, but blogging might be sporadic. On the other hand, expect some more formal reviews as I'll probably just post my homework. Heh.

Anyway, last weekend, Becky tagged me for a meme.

1. Link the person(s) who tagged you
2. Mention the rules on your blog
3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours
4. Tag 6 fellow bloggers by linking them
5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged.

1. I have 80 bajillion books. Most librarians don't have many books at home. They work in a library, so their home doesn't need to be a library. Yeah. Not me.

2. I often pace while I read. I can walk for miles between my front and back doors while reading.

3. I put on my eye make up with both hands. Step by step, I'll start with the brush or implement in my left hand, do my left eye, and then pass it over to my right hand and do my right eye. Then, the next step starts with my left hand and eye again. This is one of the few things I do with my right hand.

4. I like old-fashioned cocktails. Dirty martinis, Manhattans, Gimlets, Apple Jackrabbits. But I will often replace the gin with vodka. In a related note-- there are only 4 types of martinis. Just because you serve it in a martini glass and add "tini" to the end of it does not make it a martini. It's a cocktail. (The 4 types are dry (gin and a little vermouth) wet (gin and more vermouth) vodka (vodka and vermouth) and dirty (martini+ olive brine) )

5. Macaroni and Cheese must be made by Kraft. Preferably with orange powder. A full 1/4 butter must be used. Slightly more than 1/4 milk should be used. The butter should NOT be premelted when making it. The heat of the noodles with melt the butter. When the butter's all gone, then it's as mixed as it's going to be. Also, it tastes better when eaten with a wooden spoon straight from the pot. (This is so true that in high school my sister and I would just carry the pot to the living room and sit and watch TV while both eating out of it.)

6. In pizza and coffee, and many other things, there is a category of "good" and "bad" And there can be bad-good, and good-bad. This is best explained in coffee. There is good coffee. It is high end and roasted in small batches and you know what I mean. There is bad coffee. It is sold at gas stations and diners. They are 2 separate category of beverages. There is good bad coffee (George Webb had the best good bad coffee in high school) There is bad good coffee (Starbucks sells "good" coffee, but when they brew it, it's crap). McDonald's used to have good bad coffee, but then they upgraded to good coffee, but it's bad good coffee. Good bad coffee is ALWAYS preferable to bad good coffee.

Anyway, Tombstone frozen pizza is the best of bad pizza. I think I could eat it for all my meals every day. I LOVE IT.

And now... I tag... Erin, Abby, Dana, Hilary, Molly, and Lauren.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Poetry Friday

One of the things I like to do on Poetry Friday is to go to my shelves of poetry books, randomly take one, and flip to a random page. That way I'm discovering new poetry, too.

And so, today's find is from The Pocket Book of Modern Verse: English and American Poetry of the Last Hundred Years from Walt Whitman to Dylan Thomas ed. by Oscar William. It's out of print. I stole this copy from my parents when I moved out of the house, and the cover might be more scotch tape than cover. The pages are still falling out.

Lessons of war: Judging Distances

Not only how far away, but the way you say it
Is very important. Perhaps you may never get
The knack of judging a distance, but at least you know
How to report on a landscape: the central sector,
The right of arc and that, which we had last Tuesday,
And at least you know

That maps are of time, not place, so far as the army
Happens to be concerned - the reason being,
Is one which need not delay us. Again, you know
There are three kinds of tree, three only, the fir and the poplar,
And those which have bushy tops to; and lastly
That things only seem to be things.

A barn is not called a barn, to put it more plainly,
Or a field in the distance, where sheep may be safely grazing.
You must never be over-sure. You must say, when reporting:
At five o'clock in the central sector is a dozen
Of what appear to be animals; whatever you do,
Don't call the bleeders sheep.

I am sure that's quite clear; and suppose, for the sake of example,
The one at the end, asleep, endeavors to tell us
What he sees over there to the west, and how far away,
After first having come to attention. There to the west,
On the fields of summer the sun and shadows bestow
Vestments of purple and gold.

The still white dwellings are like a mirage in the heat,
And under the swaying elms a man and a woman
Lie gently together. Which is, perhaps, only to say
That there is a row of houses to the left of arc,
And that under some poplars a pair of what appear to be humans
Appear to be loving.

Well that, for an answer, is what we might rightly call
Moderately satisfactory only, the reason being,
Is that two things have been omitted, and those are important.
The human beings now: in what direction are they,
And how far away would you say? And do not forget
There may be dead ground in between.

There may be dead ground in between; and I may not have got
The knack of judging a distance; I will only venture
A guess that perhaps between me and the apparent lovers,
(Who, incidentally, appear now to have finished,)
At seven o'clock from the houses, is roughly a distance
Of about one year and a half.

--Henry Reed

Lisa over at Under the Covers has the roundup!

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Before we get to our regularly scheduled reviewing, some announcements.

Quiescit anima libris
has an excellent post today about catalogers and how, despite popular library-world sentiment, we are NOT the enemy. (Ok, I'm not a cataloger, but I do love cataloging and have been a cataloger and might be one again someday. Mmmmm... cataloging...)

Also, there's still time to enter my drawing for a free (hardcover! not an ARC!) copy of Playing with Fire by Derek Landy. Information can be found here.

AND! I haven't done my Top 9 for [insert month here] since April! So, click on the store and see my top 9 for July!

Anyway, some books, yes.

I've been reading lots of Alice lately.

Alice the Brave Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

It's the summer before 8th grade. Alice is excited to be an 8th grader, but the summer's being spent at Mark Stedmeister's pool and Alice is TERRIFIED of the deep water. Can she deal with her fear without doing something absolutely mortifying?

Lots of angst about over coming various fears. Also, the typical Alice banter with questions about bodies, sex, and growing up.

Alice in Lace

Well, it's a critical choices unit in health class. Pamela has to pretend she's having a baby and do her report on all the options she has and the effects. Elizabeth has to do hers on buying a used car. Alice and Patrick are supposed to plan a wedding, honeymoon, and set up an apartment with only $5000, plus set up a monthly budget.

And here the differences in Patrick and Alice's background start to come out. Also, there is some serious drama surrounding the assignment (and not the made up teen drama that surrounds everything in Alice's life, but real drama)

Also, this one was initially confusing, because I accidentally read Outrageously Alice first. Whoops!

Outrageously Alice Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Alice wants to stand out and be noticed. But, there are so many weird things going on. Alice is a bridesmaid, Halloween goes dreadfully wrong, and Pamela's family has hit the fan. Plus, it's pretty obvious Miss Summers has two boyfriends!

Will any of Alice's attempts to shine in her own way NOT end in disaster?

Of course not.

Achingly Alice Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Miss Summers is spending Christmas with the McKinleys! Yay! Right? Well... she's spending New Years with Mr. Sorringer so... who does she like more?

Alice is starting to understand though, because Sam from Camera Club pretty obviously likes Alice. Alice likes Sam too, he's nice and caring, but what about Patrick?

So, here's the deal. Alice is a very real character. I wish I had discovered her when I was 12. I don't know why I didn't, I mean, she was around then. But her constant worrying about boys, and sex, and bodies, and her mortal embarrassment over everything... basically, the very things that make her such a true and honest character, as an adult grate on my a bit after reading 3 books in a row.... so... the lesson is... space your Alice, so she'll just be winning. But you should read her. And you should give her to all the younger teens in your life (because Alice is one of those series that ages up, so they'll be friends with her for a long, long time.)

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

And, occasionally, I review books

Hmmm... it turns out it's been, like, over a week since I actually reviewed a book. We'll say I've been too busy. Last Tue-Thur night last week, I slept. So sick. Luckily, it was the sleepy kind, so I didn't have to be consciously miserable all that much. Then we had company for the holiday weekend and then... well, hi! I'm blogging!

Plus, I have been reading A TON. And, I've been really crabby this week. And who wants to review books when they're crabby? Plus, I don't have any books for upcoming review that deserve a crabby review. Wait, I take that back, I do, but they were so bad that just thinking about them makes me even crabbier and then my head threatens to explode, so I just have Dan make me a mojito instead.

Anyway, this is a very special blog post WITH A CONTEST! It's my first contest, so I hope lots of people enter. Anyway...

Playing with Fire Derek Landy

In this action-packed sequel to Skulduggery Pleasant, we say that there are still attempts to raise the Faceless Ones and rain death and destruction upon the world.

But, Valkyrie has some training under her belt, so they're ready for the challenge.

We have new villians! The main one is Baron Vengeous wants to bring the Grotesquery back to life. The Grotesquery is a Franken-monster that contains a bit of Faceless One. The Baron has waited for year for the last two ingredients before he can shout "IT'S ALIVE" and now he has them. Plus, he and Skulduggery have a few unsettled scores.

But the Baron has lots of help--including a vampire that keeps infecting innocent bystanders and a Southern Gentleman who can move through the Earth itself.

And, in the end, Landy sets us up perfectly for the next book in the series.

Overall, if you liked the first one, you'll like this. You have cool monsters, a wise-mouth skeleton, and more than one girl who kicks ass, or is starting to. Plus, there are a few characters whose loyalities are unclear--both to the reader and the characters. China Sorrows, for instance, is on no one's side but her own, so it's always a gamble asking her for help. I like moral ambiguity in a few characters-- so often in literature, characters are good or bad, and sometimes they change, and they often have good or bad qualities to round them out, but... so rarely is a character so clearly both good and bad. AND when they aren't clear, they're often clear to book characters, but not the reader, or to the reader, but not the other characters...

Anyway, it's a solid sequel that doesn't disappoint.

AND! Now, for the contest, I have a copy to give away. It's open world wide and to enter, you must email me at kidsilkhaze at yahoo dot com with the subject line "Playing with Fire." If you blog about this contest, email me the link with the same subject line and I'll enter you another time for every time you spread the word. All emails must be received by Wednesday, July 16th at 9pm, US East Coast Time. At that point, I'll throw everyone's name into some sort of container (like my pasta pot) and have Dan draw a name. Unless he's out of town, then I'll just close my eyes and do it myself.

Good luck!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

100 Books Meme

So, I'm stealing this one from Sean (who, incidentally for those who don't know, is my cousin).

1) Bold: Books I have read.
2) Italics: Books I intend to read.
3) Underline: Books I love.
4) Strikethrough: Books I have no intention of ever reading or was forced to read at school and hated.
5) Reprint this list in your own blog.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen I loves me some Jane Austen. Subtle wit and hot men. Whee! Even though, I will admit to hysterical giggles every time I pull my copy off the bookshelf, because Dan defiled it by sticked a prescription drug warning label on it, so the cover now reads "Warning! May cause drowsiness!"
2 The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien I really liked this, but due to the devoted following it has amongst hard-core fans, I hesitate to say I loved it. I mean, I haven't reread it since I read it the summer before 7th grade.
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte I never understood the love story here, but I did like Jane. Plus the crazy lady in the attic.
4 Harry Potter series – J.K. Rowling I am the ultimate fan girl. Test me.
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee I'm almost embarrassed to say I haven't read this yet.
6 The Bible hmmmm... I mean, I've read portions of this, but not the whole thing.
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte I don't love the book, but I LOVE the pro/anti-Cath factions in the Thursday Next books by Jasper Fforde.
8 Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell=
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman Yeah, yeah, I know... it's on the list.
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens I loved this. I also read it of my own accord, which I think helped my appreciation.
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott I've probably read most of this in elementary school, but I never finished.
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles– Thomas Hardy It's on my bookshelf...
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller What ever happened to the Snowdens of yesterday? FANTASTIC.
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare Hmmm. I've read many of the works of Shakespeare, but I don't think I plan on reading ALL of them.
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier I feel I need to read this to fully understand the Daniver clones in Thursday Next.
16 The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien See my comments on Lord of the Rings.
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger I really liked this when I read it in high school. Now, Holden just annoys me.
19 The Time Traveler's Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell I liked it when I read it, but I think now I'd just want to smack Scarlet.
22 The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald One of my favorites. Plus, you know when reading it that the parties Gatsby throws are like the ones in Sabrina...
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy I have the new translation sitting on my bookshelf, waiting for me.
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh On my bookshelf!
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky I read this one in college. I like Karamazov better though.
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck East of Eden and Canary Row are better.
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame There are some really beautiful illustrations of this...
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy I think I would really love this now that I'm an adult. But I did really like it when I spent the summer before my junior year in high school reading it...
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens I liked Great Expectations so much, I feel I should read more Dickens.
33 Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis I was bereft when I finished this, because there were no more chronicles...
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis Ok, am I the only one wondering why this is on the list, as is the entire series?
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin – Louis de Bernieres I've never had any desire to read this. I don't know why.
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne How could you not love Pooh?
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown Yes, I loved this. Not in that it changed my world view or is a great work of literature, but I loved in a guilty pleasure sort of way, the same way I turn up Avril Lavigne on the radio in the summer when my windows are down or that I know most of the words to "Baby I Got Your Money" by OBD. Or that fact that I've seen What a Girl Wants more times than I can count.
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel García Márquez I'm a big fan of his work and have it on the shelf. I just have to read it.
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving I like Irving, so I might get around to this one at some point.
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery Anne and I are bosom friends, and not just because my middle name is Anne, with an E.
47 Far From the Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale – Margaret Atwood This book scared the ever-living crap out of me, so I can't say I love it. IT'S SCARY SCARY SCARY.
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding I HATE THIS BOOK. HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE. The only reason I forgave Mrs. Haack for making me read it is because everything else we read was awesome that year.
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons This has been calling to me from the bookshelf for a while now!
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen My first Austen. I read it on a train in China.
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafón
57 A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens I was a little "eh" on this, but I think it's because it took me 2 months to read, and I only ever got to read 2-5 pages at a atime.
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon LOVE. I shouted the praises of this from rooftops after I finished!
60 Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez Beautiful. I read this in the England.
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck Probably my least favorite Steinbeck.
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov Yes, it's about a dirty old man, but Nabokov's prose! It's poetry! That's a man who know how to make love to the English language...
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac Des Moines! That's almost to Denver! Also, Kerouac claims that Iowa has the prettiest girls. I read this on a high school train ride to San Fransisco. It changed my life.
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary – Helen Fielding V. good and V. awesome. Every thing wants to be the next Bridget Jones and every thing fails miserably.
69 Midnight's Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby-Dick – Herman Melville I mean... why?
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens Please sir, may I have some more? Already on the bookshelf...
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett I don't know how many times I've read this. It's AWESOME. I love it. And the musical is awesome.
74 Notes From a Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce This is something I'd want to do in a classroom setting, and I don't ever see myself being in that setting.
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – A.S. Byatt It's on the shelf...
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens Ok, I like all the movie versions better. Well, the fun movie versions.
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83The Color Purple – Alice Walker on the shelf!
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web – E.B. White Eh.
88 The Five People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom SERIOUSLY?! This book seems like a load of poo. Schmaltzy poo.
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton I feel things would make more sense if I read some Blyton.
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad Any reason why I should?
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery I don't LOVE this because I read it in French. In French class. And it was hard.
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams My father has been trying to get me to read this since about 5th grade... and I always say "It's about rabbits" But one day, I'll read it, just for Dad.
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole Dan makes random references to this all the time.
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl Not my favorite Dahl, but still a good one.
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo I read half of this in 6th grade, after seeing the musical. It was too much for me at the time, and I really never see myself going back into it. Some other Hugo, sure, but not this.

I tag anyone who has had the tenacity to read this far and has the energy to put into completing this!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Madly Dashing Along

Yonks ago, I promised pictures of my hair cut...

Last Friday morning, I looked like this:

Yes, I know it's dark and hard to see. Work with me here. Anyway, last Friday afternoon, I looked like this:

Yay for short and cute. I like the gleefully devious look my hairdresser got when she said "are just trimming up today?" and I said "Nope, we're losing length." And she said "Excellent" in a very Monty Burns sort of way. I love her.

And, because I'm posting pictures and this was on my camera as well, have a super cute shot of my dog:

Poetry Friday

Happy 4th of July every one!

Today's poem is actually a song,

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
A song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine,
But other hearts in other lands are beating
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country's skies are bluer than the ocean
And sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine,
But other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
This is my song, O God of every nation,
A song of peace for their land and for mine.

words by L. Stone, music to the tune of Finlandia by J. Sibelius. You can listen to it here. (That link will make the song start right away. It's a weird arrangement that in the end works in "My Country 'Tis of Thee" which I find really funny as a patriotic song given that the melody is "God Save the Queen" or I guess, at the time it was written, "God Save the King".)

Sibelius is one of my favorite composers.

Anyway, round up is over at In Search of Giants! Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Spotlight Kinda Sucks

Well, I've gone through and added pictures and links to this weekend's posts... now, some more books!

Airhead Meg Cabot

After an accident at the Stark Megastore Grand Opening, Emerson Watts wakes up to find that her cynical, anti-fashion, uber-geek gamer girl brain has been transplanted into the body of Nikki Howard, teen super model. Em Watts is dead, Nikki Howard is alive. It also quickly becomes apparent that the transplant wasn't done to keep Em's spirit alive, but rather, to keep Nikki alive to fulfill her contractual obligations as the face of Stark Enterprises...

Cabot said this was an edgier book. And it's edgy... for Cabot. She does touch on the ethics of brain transplants and the results thereof. It's also apparent that Stark Enterprises (which has its finger in everything, like a very evil Virgin) is spying on Nikki. This plot doesn't get very far, but has the potential to get into seriously edgy material.

Em is a very un-silly, un-shallow heroine. She's someone I could relate to. This would be a great book for people who find Cabot's other work a little light. There are a lot of loose ends at the end of the book, so I'm very much looking forward to Being Nikki, which comes out next May (2009).

Also, we get the 5th Jessica Darling book next May, too! Yay!

Audrey, Wait! Robin Benway

Even if Evan was a stoned slacker who only talked about himself, it wasn't easy for Audrey to dump him. The kicker is that he goes and writes a song about it that catapults up the charts. Suddenly, the paparazzi is chasing her, her cell phone number's been leaked, and she's being seriously misquoted in the press. Audrey just wants to get back to normal, and the country is debating Audrey's love life.

Funny, while still dealing with Audrey's freak-outs at being thrust into the spotlight in a realistic manner, this book didn't disappoint.