Saturday, January 31, 2009

New Classics Challenge/TBR Challenge Review

Well, you know, I have company coming in 1.5 hours and I think I should just say I'm not going to finish the New Classics Challenge. Ah well. I did end up reading 4 books, 2 of which were off the scary list of doom, 1 of which fit the bill for the Chunkster Challenge and 1 of which was on my list for the TBR challenge (um, ok, so maybe I cheated because I knew it was next on the pile to read and that's why I put it on the list... but I hadn't started it yet when I made my list!)

Anyway, so here is the 4th and final New Classics Challenge book (although I am going to read Sandman really soon, because it IS already checked out from the library and everything.)

High Fidelity: A Novel Nick Hornby

I haven't read any Hornby before and I was hesitant to read this because I really liked the movie. You know how the book is always better than the movie? What if that isn't true? What if really, whatever story you have immersed yourself in first is better, because that's why you know, and deviation is what makes it worse, no matter what the original was.

That, however, is not the case. While I still like the movie, I can say that the book is better. It has more wit. Also, it takes place in London, which just seems like a better setting for it somehow.

Anyway, if you haven't seen the movie, Rob is a bit of a sadsack. He's reached his mid-30s, runs a failing record shop, he finds his friends lame, and his long-time, serious, live-in girlfriend has just left him for the guy who used to live upstairs.

Rob's not the most reliable narrator in that he's a very authentic voice and so believable. He never understood why Laura liked him in the first place, because he has some depression and self-esteem issues, so the reader isn't entirely sure either. But, Hornby is an author that treats the modern male well. He explores issues of masculinity and relationships from the male point of view, while not turning me off in the same way that Brent Easton Ellis, and Chuck Palahniuk all seem to do with male protagonists that I hope I never actually meet (which is an opinion based solely on reading the jacket copy of their novels and seeing some movies based on them--not a great way to form an opinion of an authors work, I know, but I really don't have much desire to read any of their stuff. I really don't read enough stuff about guys. I do really read girly books. Hmmmm.)

Anyway, Rob is funny, the story is good, and all the music snobbery is great--make sure you have some most excellent music playing while you read.

I now want to go read everything Hornby has ever written.

Friday, January 30, 2009

New Classics Challenge Review

I still have delusions of finishing the New Classics Challenge.

I only have to read 2.5 more books and review them. By tomorrow at midnight. Except, really, 5, because that's when my friend Ali's train gets in. And I still have to clean the house and I have plans for tonight. But I can finish, right?

Well, I did finish reading the longest book of the challenge, which is also TOTALLY counting for the chunkster challenge, coming in at 607 pages.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel Haruki Murakami

How do I begin to explain this? You have a missing cat, and his out-of-work drifting owner, and his disintegrating marriage. You have psychics, special healing powers, a politician that we just don't trust, and connections back to the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo. You have a crazy Russian officer, a teenager obsessed with death, and people spending a lot of time in the bottom of a well. Trust me, it all ties together into one glorious and amazing package of a book. To get too much into it would reveal too much about how the bits and pieces tie together.

In this book, Murakami uses the light, almost not there, but totally IS there, magical realism that we see in Banana Yoshimoto's work (I'm thinking most about "Moonlight Shadow" the second novella that's packaged with Kitchen). Yes there are dreams that may be happening on another plane, and psychic prostitutes, and other touches of the slightly paranormal (not least of which is the Wind Up Bird itself) but it doesn't feel like fantasy or anything, except for realistic fiction that isn't... realistic. I don't know how to explain it.

This may be the most incoherent book review ever.

Can I just say it was awesome and it reminded me that I really just need to read more Murakami, because I'm always blown away when I do?

Challenge Me!

Well, the New Classics Challenge is coming to an end, and I'm sprinting all the way (I'll post more about this later today, with a book review and hopefully tomorrow, sprinting across the finish line)

The Guardian 1000 Novels Challenge (which I'm hosting! Sign up!) starts on Sunday.

And I'm playing along with My Friend Amy's Buy Books Challenge.

Challenges are silly and fun. I like to think that reading is a competitive sport, and now that school is done, why not join some more?

So I think I will.

I now declare my intent to join the TBR Challenge, in which I have to read 12 books. I think this will help me in my goal to read 50 books off the List Of Doom. Here are 12 (with 12 alternates) I hope to read off that list. Hopefully, I'll read all 24, plus a few more!

1. The Adoration of Jenna Fox Mary E. Pearson
2. Anatomy of a Boyfriend Daria Snadowsky
3. Asleep Banana Yoshimoto
4. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves (The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation) M.T. Anderson
5. Aurelie: A Faerie Tale Heather Tomlinson
6. The Ballet Family Jean (Mabel Esther Allen) Estoril
7. Ballet Family Again Jean Estoril
8. Ballet Shoes Noel Streatfeild
9. The Book of Lost Things: A Novel John Connolly
10. Brideshead Revisited Evelyn Waugh
11. Cathy's Key: If Found 650-266-8202 Sean Stewart
12. A Certain Chemistry: A Novel Mil Millington


1. Cold Comfort Farm: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) (Penguin Classics Deluxe Editio)Stella Gibbons
2. Cybele's Secret Juliet Marillier
3. Everyday Life Lydie Salvayre
4. Explosions and Other Stories Mo Yan
5. Fire in the Blood Irene Nemirovsky
6. The Frog Princess (Tales of the Frog Princess) E.D. Baker
7. General Winston's DaughterSharon Shinn
8. The Girl from the Golden Horn Kurban Said
9. Hardboiled and Hard Luck Banana Yoshimoto
10. High Fidelity Nick Hornby
11. Life and Death are Wearing Me Out: A Novel Mo Yan
Life and Death in Shanghai Nien Cheng
12. Midnight Pearls Debbie ViguiƩ

I also want to join The Chunkster Challenge. I'm doing the Mor-book-ly Obese level, which makes me read 6 or more adult books with more than 450 pages.

I don't mind the stipulation for adult literature. I'm not supposed to complain, but I am. I don't like the reasoning behind the adult stipulation. "Don't complain folks, I read all thousands of pages of the Twilight series and they were good, but not a challenge. A chunkster should be a challenge. "

Sure, Twilight isn't a challenge, but that doesn't mean non-adult chunkster literature isn't (Book Thief) or that all adult chunkster literature is (Redeeming Love). Grrrrrrrrrr.

But those are my reading challenges this year (so far). We'll see how I do.

Poetry Friday

Well, I was quite excited to see that A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams won a Caldecott Honor on Monday.

His is poetry I had to read a lot of in school, and have returned to, time and again. This poem, "The Red Wheelbarrow" is one we snickered at as students (THIS IS POETRY?!) but has given me deeper and deeper meaning the more I read it and the older I get.

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

Round up is over at Adventures in Daily Reading. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Middle Grade Fun Series!

First off, this weekend I did a chapter-by-chapter analysis (with brief summary at top) of the 1949 and 1967 editions of Nancy Drew and The Clue of the Leaning Chimney over at Geek Buffet. Check it out!

Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls: New Girl Meg Cabot

There's nothing wrong with walking to school with your mom and dad on your first day. Except everything.

Allie's back! She's settling into her new house and her new school, but nothing, of course, goes to plan. The big problem is Rosemary, the bully, who wants to kill Allie. And then Lady Serena Archibald gets really sick and might have her kittens too soon and they might not live! AND THEN HOW WILL ALLIE GET A CAT?! And then Grandma comes. Grandma's good at presents, but she isn't very nice.

Hilarious. Allie is an excellent heroine with a strong voice and a strong sense of self. If you liked the first, you'll like this one. I'm very much looking forward to Best Friends And Drama Queens, which comes out in March. The plot sounds a lot like something Cabot describes happening to her in her contribution to Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume and how Blubber was really helpful. I hope see gives Judy Blume a shout-out in the book!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw Jeff Kinney

Greg's back! Huzzah! I managed to snag a copy of lunch, but it's been hard--the holds list on this is miles long, and it's ALL kids. Ever since this came out, I've had to deal with the crushed faces of children when I tell them where they are on the list.

Anyway, Greg's afraid his dad will send him (not Roderick, HIM) to Military School.

If you like Wimpy Kid, this books won't disappoint, I mean...

There was this book Dad used to read to me every night called 'The Giving Tree.' It was a really good book, but the back of it had a pictures of the author, this guy named Shel Silverstein.

But Shel Silverstein looks more like a burglar or a pirate than a guy who should be writing books for kids. Dad must have known that picture kind of freaked me out, because on night after I got out of bed, Dad said, 'IF YOU GET OUT OF BED AGAINST TONIGHT, YOU'LL PROBABLY RUN INTO SHEL SILVERSTEIN IN THE HALLWAY.'

That really did the trick. Ever since then, I STILL don't get out of bed at night, even if I really need to use the bathroom.

How can you NOT love it?!

The Guardian's 1000 Novels Challenge

Well, here I am, hosting my very first challenge!

The British paper, The Guardian, has come up with a list of 1000 Novels Everyone Must Read Before They Die. (In case they take that link down, I've also posted the list here.)

So, the challenge is to read 10 and review read and review 10 books off the list (that's 1%) between February 1st of 2009 and February 1st of 2010.

Of these 10, you must read 1 from each category and, if possible, 1 should be a book you have never heard of until you saw it on this list.

Feel free to complain about certain books being included or not included.

Also, they have broken the list into smaller sections, with annotations, so you can see what a book is about before you check it out.

I'll have a post every month rounding up your reviews and it'll be lots of fun, so sign up below!

UPDATE There will be prizes! I'm not sure what yet, but at the end, there will be a prize drawing for everyone who finishes, and probably a drawing or two along the way...

Also, feel free to use these buttons!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

John Updike, RIP

John Updike passed away today.

I haven't read any of his stuff. I'm afraid to. When I was in 6th grade, Updike was doing convocation at Lawrence University, located mere blocks from my elementary school, so the talented and gifted teacher walked us all down to hear him speak. He read a piece in 2nd person, about a middle aged man on a road trip with his family and the cute waitress when they stop for dinner. Since that day, I have NEVER struggled with what 2nd person narrative is.

He also read from one of the Rabbit books (which, at the time, I confused with Watership Down, so I was momentarily confused when he started reading not about Rabbits on a ship, but about neighbors having sex on a pile of laundry.) Let's just say that scene he read to us had a great effect on a bunch of socially awkward 6th graders. It was also an interesting window into the odd world of adults. The adult books I read at the time (and I did read quite a few) didn't deal with the angst of middle age and suburbia. I wasn't entirely convinced that adults had feelings and personal lives at that point.

Hearing Updike read that one scene changed my life in subtle ways, and is an event that has stuck with me greatly, hence my desire, but also great fear, to read the Rabbit books for myself. What if they're not as good as I remember? What if they won't hold the same impact now that I am an adult? Should they just stay in my memory in that huge chapel with streaming sunlight?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Non Fiction Monday, Challenges, Awards, and ZOMBIES!

First things first, HT to Bookshelves of Doom.

You may want to preorder your copy NOW of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance+Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! How can you resist?!

Y'all saw the results of this morning's ALA Youth Media Awards, right? For me, it provided the perfect excuse not to work out. Ok, the cuteness of the dog would have worked this morning, but obviously, a good children's librarian should watch the awards webcast instead of working out, right? RIGHT!

I have very strong opinions in some of these categories, but they're the same categories that I'm sitting on non-ALA awards committees for (Cybils and Blue Crab) so I'll keep my trap shut until I'm allowed to discuss such things.

In other news, The New Classics Challenge ends on the 31st. This started in AUGUST, but I forgot about it until this month. Whoops. So far, I've read 2.5 of my 6. Also, I was supposed to read The Bonfire of the Vanities: A Novel but I couldn't find our copy, so given I was checking a book out of the library, I figured it should be The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes.

Anyway, the two I finished are both nonfiction! Yay!

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down Anne Fadiman

I have long wanted to read this book because of the fact it deals with Hmong culture. Growing up in the 80s and 90s in Northeast Wisconsin, the Hmong made up the vast majority of the non-white population, but this isn't an ethnic group that you hear a lot about, which has always surprised me.

One of the reasons I love the Jackson Friends series so much is because there is a Hmong character.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down is a heartbreaking tale of a young Hmong girl in Merced, California, who has severe epilepsy. Due to the language and cultural barriers between her family and the medical community, the system fails her utterly.

Fadiman's account explains how each side tried its hardest to help Lia Lee and how each side completely failed her. Mostly, she does this without judgment and anger, but once and awhile, she can't, and I can't really fault her for that.

Fadiman does an excellent job of explaining the medical issues surrounding Lia's condition and treatment, as well as the cultural issues surrounding her life, and the history of the Hmong people and their life in America.

My only fault with the book is that it tends to treat Hmong culture as completely homogeneous, without the usual disclaimers or sentence weakeners you see in other cultural books, such as "traditionally X culture does... " or "many member of Y ethnic group feel..."

My other wish is for an updated version, as many of the troubles facing the community Lia and her family lived in had to deal with immigration and welfare status--both contentious issues that have undergone drastic changes since this book first came out in 1997. Luckily, the book's website does offer updates on how the people we meet in these pages are doing since publication.

Oh, and when discussing China, it uses the Wade-Giles instead of Pinyin system of romanization, but that's a China-geek complaint, and the book isn't about China, so I'll let it slide.

The Glass Castle: A Memoir Jeannette Walls

I picked this one because it's on the scary list.

Jeannette Walls grew up unbelievably poor. Her father was a dreamer and drunk, her mother an artist who didn't want to be tied down with a regular job. As a result, they moved a lot, lived in places with no water or electricity and often went hungry. Despite this Jeannette managed to attend Barnard and is now a gossip columnist for MSNBC.

While Walls life was unbelievably hard, the plot is the only driving factor in this book. The events make it readable, but the characters are flat--there's little insight, or feeling. (Except for Walls embarrassment when she feels people are laughing at her, or staring. So it's odd that she became a gossip columnist, right?) Many times when writing about something horrible, survivors tell their tale in a detached manner--as if truly engaging in the subject matter again would inflict great physiological damage, which it might. While this is quality I will forget in stories that we would otherwise might not hear, such as This is Paradise!: My North Korean Childhood, I'm less forgiving in instances such as these. First this happened, then this, then this, then this. No analysis, just plot.

While engaging, I'm not entirely sure why it won so many awards because the literary merit isn't as there as it could be.

Overall, I give it a resounding "meh"

Nonfiction Round up is here.

New Classics Round up is here.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Twilight Pt. 4: The Snark Interview

So, to compliment my interview with Lex, I thought it would be fun if I had a conversation with my friend Ali. Ali has the snarkiest eyebrows known to man and hasn't read Twilight yet. All she knows about the series is the fangirl screams that haunt her dreams, and all the Twilight related flair she sees on Facebook. As such, the conversation turns to Harry Potter on a regular basis.

This conversation took place in AOL instant messenger, so there is some overlap as we both type at the same times. I haven't edited anything but format, but I have added some Twilight flair picture.

Anyway, I am in italics, and Ali is bold.





Are you going to ask me about Twilight? My readers are already bored. Because I know what you're talking about, but they have no idea what's going on.

wait, what? I thought you were asking me?

Oh. Sorry. I thought you were asking me, based on your pop-culture-flair-only references



I didn't know I was supposed to have questions prepared

Let's just get our snark on then

if that's what you want, I'll need some time

Do you find me dazzling?

always, but if you tear my headboard to shreds you still have to pay for it

That was his MOM's headboard


which is twisted

quite literally at some point, I would imagine

*snort* Are you Team Edward, or Team Jacob?

I'm inclined to say Jacob, just because I hate Edward on principle. should I have put more thought into that?

Which principle is that?

the principle that every teenage girl in the world is in love with Edward. that didn't work for me in HS and apparently doesn't now, either

ha ha ha ha ha. Jacob's a werewolf

I know there are some werewolves I'm rather fond of. more werewolves than vampires, come to think of it

LOL. Besides Remus Lupin, who are your other werewolf loves?

um... I'm going to try to salvage this one and say that's still more werewolf loves than vampires

Fair enough

besides, Remus is man-wolf enough for anyone ;-)

True. Which book is your favorite?

um...which one has the chess piece on the cover? I like chess...

That would be... wait... let me go look... Breaking Dawn. as a Non-Twilighter, what do you find most annoying about Twilight?

that's also the last one, right? because that would be two for the price of on

That *is* the last one!

the fact that it has taken over the book category of flair on facebook

What is so annoying about Twilight flair?

the bad grammar? and the fact that I can hear the squee-ing from here

*snort* What is your favorite piece of Twilight flair?

I rather like the one that casts aspersions as to the parentage of Jacob Black

Because he's a werewolf with the last name of Black, he must be the love
child of Remus Lupin and Sirius Black?

that's the one

that's also one of my favs

hey, they already transplanted Cedric. -- I mean, Edward -- I mean, Pattenson

Yeah, I really like the one that says "Edward was a Hufflepuff"

but that's okay. Harry's got that saving people thing going on, it makes sense that others in his universe would have similar leanings

LOL Based on your knowledge of Edward, would you put him in Hufflepuff?

well, he seems kind of sparkly with fluff between his ears and terribly idealistic views of romance, so why not? I certainly don't see him anywhere else...except maybe trading fashion tips with Pavarti and Lav-Lav


oh, come on, like both of them don't wish they could dazzle

In his defense, he holds several degrees, which I can't tell is a matter or smarts, or the fact he doesn't age and doesn't sleep, so why not keep going back to high school and college and studying all night long. And what do you think dazzling is?

I would like to say something flip involving body splash with glitter in, but I would imagine it's infinitely more likely that it's some special way of putting someone in a highly suggestive state

Yeah, it's even lamer than that

seriously? does he at least get to have real fangs?

Basically, Edward is so pretty that girls will do whatever he wants, as if he was using some sort of Jedi mind trick. And, it's totally a minor part of the book.

well, there's something

He does have real fangs AND! When he goes into the sunlight, he's really sparkly

because vampires do so well in sunlight. but, you know, sparkly/flaming, potato/potahto

Well, in this world, sunlight doesn't hurt him. He's just really sparkly, so he can't let others see him when it's sunny. Which is why they live in the Pacific Northwest, where it's cloudy a lot

perfectly logical

Yes. Has Twilight changed your feelings about Volvos at all?

I can't remember the last time I saw a volvo. oh! though, I did have a question about that: is it like a shiny, metallic, reflective silver paintjob on said volvo? and, if so, have we also thrown out the "no reflections" baby with the vampiric bathwater?

LOL. I don't know about reflections. It's that Edward drives a Volvo that he keeps nice and clean. He drives it very fast. Because of his awesome vampire ninja skills

better to have a clean car if you're going to do that. less likely that something will fly up and hit you in the head if you have to stop suddenly. vampire ninja?


does that mean we get vampire pirates, too?

just that he has awesome reflexes

it's only fair. oh

like a super-charged ninja. vampire pirates are good...How do you pronounce Renesme and what is the meaning behind it?

you could write a series about them for t(w)een girls and never have to work (or, rather, I) pronounce every letter in that name -- ren-ez-me -- and flair leads me to believe that it has something to do with the loch ness monster, though no one seems very happy about this

That's amazing!


Well, you pronounced it correctly. The Loch Ness monster connection is that it gets shortened to Nessie and Bella gets pissy

I do my best. I blame Terry Pratchett, though. he has a character named Esme, and so I just appended the "ren"

The best is that it's a combination of her mom's name (Renee) and Edward's (Esme)

very original and thought provoking

Albus Severus doesn't look so bad now, does it?

I never had any problems with Albus Severus. it was Lily and James that I found singularly uninspired

Uninspired yes, but less cheesy


So, is Edward the most perfect boyfriend ever? Or is sneaking into your bedroom to watch you sleep and forbidding you to see your best friend kinda creepy?

I'm going to have to go with B on that

yeah. I wish all the little fangirls would, too

aren't they still warning them about people like that?

I would assume, but they all do love Edward and think he's just the bestest! Even though, after watching the movie, I kinda love him too

it's his Cedric-ness bleeding through
I didn't when I read the books, but Edward invoked feelings in my that Cedric never did

interesting. then again, Cedric was not at his best

I was rather surprised

he spent most of that film/book running for his life. or with his head on fire. or with Voldie's foot on his face. hard to make a good impression that way

*snort* And dazzling Cho so that she didn't fall for Harry. Not that I'm a huge Cho fan, but Harry was sad. And I felt bad for Harry

Harry was sad. though Cho was a bit of a waste of energy for him

Yeah, but as Rowling said, he had to grow up romantically before he was worthy of Ginny. Ginny Weasley would totally kick Edward's ass

is Bella more together than Cho? I mean, did (C)ed-ward learn anything from that experienc

I'd choose Cho over Bella any day

Ginny Weasley would totally kick anyone's ass. Bat-bogies away!

Bella is the biggest Mary Sue you've ever read


And unbelievably spineless. Cho was annoying, but in an understandable way.
clearly. since

she allowed some creepy, sparkly guy to watch her sleep and dictate her social life

yes. So, what's Jasper's thing?

I can't even figure out who Jasper is. he apparently isn't important enough to have a team and the fangirls seem to find him particularly noxious. he does seem to enjoy baiting the others, though

He's Edwards vampire-brother

(there's not much Jasper flair)

He can control emotions. Emmett's more the baiter. He likes to make dirty jokes that piss off Bella

is he really his brother who is also a vampire? or is he edwards brother in that they were turned by the same vampire and therefore are sort of from the same litter?

(Emmett is also his vampire brother)

I like Emmett already

Um, I don't even think they were turned by the same vampire, although many of the Cullens were all turned by the Dr. Cullen. But they live together, posing as a young couple with their foster children

who was a doctor of.....? ah ha

He's a medical doctor, and had a habit of turning people he couldn't save with medicine

yet another reason to be afriad of the system, your new family may be a cadre of undead, just waiting for you to join them

Not that they're really foster children, it was just the only excuse as to why their kids would be so old

Hmmmm... I'm trying to think if there is anything else

I'm afraid I won't be much help to you, there

Any other flair confusing you?

I tend not to read it if I can possibly help it

ok. Then are we done?

i believe so. but it's your interview


And, to conclude, I would like to you let y'all know that Ali will be reading Twilight starting at the end of the month.

Twilight Pt. 3: The Fan Girl Interview

So, my cousin Lex is 17 and is the one who begged me to read Twilight. I thought it would be fun if she interviewed me about the series after I finished.

This interview took place using Facebook's fake-email messaging system and I have not edited it all, except to remove the names of the guilty and to make the formatting look decent. Also, we did this in August, right after I finished reading them, so the feelings are immediate, and my Princess Diaries comments are a little out of date. There are also random references, and some spoilers, to Georgia Nicolson.


Lex: so queston numbero uno: What did u think of the Series?

Me: I really liked it! I just had the first one, but as soon as I finished it, I went to the bookstore to get the rest. I'm really looking forward to reading Midnight Sun, and her adult book, The Host.

Lex: i cant wait for Midnight sun. did u like the way she kept moaning on about missing Edward to Jacob in book 2?

Me: I know I'm in the minority here, but I really liked Book 2. I felt really badly for Jacob, because it was obvious that he really liked Bella and she's all "Edward Edward Edward sob sob sob" BUT! I think in that entire book, Meyer really showed how devastating heartbreak can be and how real depression is and how awful it is. I really appreciated how each month was labeled and for three months, it was just a blank page. I think that was simple, but really moving at the same time.

That said, I was really pissed off at Charlie in that book. He should have dragged her off to get professional help really early in that book. Who cares if she wanted it or not, he's the parent, and he should have acted like it.

Have you read the Princess Diaries series yet? (If you haven't, you HAVE TO! The movies are TOTALLY different!) At the beginning of the latest book, Mia is really really depressed after a break up and can't get out of bed or anything, so her body guard picks her up, chucks her in the back of the car and takes her to therapy. Charlie should have done that too. Bella's really small--it wouldn't have been that hard.

Lex: ya, i liked the second book but i do agree with u that to save with all the whining that she should have gone to tharapy. yes i have read the princess diaries series,i just havent read the new one yet which is princess mia. i know that the movies r totally not the same and that made me upset. i hope that they dont mess up the Twilight movie! did u think that it was over dramatic that edward almost provocted the Vultiori then Bella had to go and save his ass?

are u a team Edward or Team Jacob??? im with Edward.

Me: The VERY LAST PRINCESS DIARIES BOOK comes out in January, FYI. Also, the bit I told you about Princess Mia takes place right in the beginning, so I didn't completely ruin it for you!

Anyway, Twilight. Edward's little suicide attempt was totally drama queen. If he really thought Bella was dead he should have (a) confirmed it outside of Alice's head and (b) gone into Vampire therapy!

You'd think that being 100+ years old would give you some perspective on these things.

As far as Team Edward vs. Team Jacob... at the end of Eclipse, I was Team "Run Away and Find a Real Guy" I really didn't like either of them! They were both very controlling and manipulative. They put Bella in a really hard spot and didn't care. They both liked to boss her around and didn't take her emotions, feelings, thought, and ideas seriously. I thought they were both really shitty choices.

And I was really surprised it was a debate! At the end of Eclipse, Edward and Bella are sending out wedding invitations! I really didn't think anything was going to change.

Now, during New Moon, I was totally Team Jacob, because all those issues I had with Edward (See above) he didn't have. But then her turned into a werewolf and Jerk just like Edward.

But, I was happier with them in Breaking Dawn-- once Bella became a vampire, Edward stopped being such a jerkwad and started being a good guy.

Do me a favor Lex-- never date a guy like Edward. Just because he claims to be doing it in the name of love or protecting you doesn't give him the right to control who you see, break into your house to spy on you (sorry "watch you sleep" that's CREEPY) or jack up your car. I don't care how hot he is-- it will not end well. The only way it could POSSIBLY end well is if he turned you into a vampire and you were stronger than him so you could KICK HIS ASS. But, just because that happened to Bella, I doubt it would actually happen in real life!

Lex: ya, i already dated a guy like Edward and u met him and i dumped him. his name was Stupid McIckypants. but the thing with McIckypants was i was already stronger than him so if i wanted to kick his ass i could and still can. but i really do see ur point bout Edward and this is rare for me to say but i really dont want an Edward even tho i think it would be awsome to date and marry a Vampire the chances of it are very very slim if none at all. but at the same time i wouldnt date Jacob either cuz if i was friends with a Vamp i wouldnt let my bf control my friends and family cuz who i am friends with doesnt matter to him. My b day is in 2 weeks! ok that was off topic but i had to put it out there. Now that u have read the series, could u understand why girls like my age r like obbessed with it and like want the perfect guy to kinda be like Edward??? sorry that i dont type in paragraph form and that my grammer kinda sucks, its summer break for me and this is my normal typing way.

Dont u think its kind of annoying how if Alice can see the future then u couldnt have any privicy??

I think that if i ever had to choose between annoying pack hearing all my thoughts or tell the future for every one i would choose the pack cuz then u could at least give some ppl privicy bout their future.

Me: YAY for not wanting an Edward!!!!! I think a lot of girls want an Edward because he's hotttttt and can't get beyond that to see that he's a little creepy in his hottness. (And, to be fair, you're totally hung up on Masimo and Robbie because they're hottttt where Dave the Laugh is awesome but merely cute)

Anyway! I really can see why girls your age are completely obsessed with the series. I would have been too! (Back when I was your age--I can't believe I just said that--we were all obsessed with Anne Rice and Interview with a Vampire and that series of books.)

Anyway, I don't think I would want to date/become a vampire, for a few reasons--1. I don't know if I would be strong enough to not eat people, and I don't want to eat people and 2. I really don't want to live forever, even though I wouldn't mind if I still had the body I had when I was 20!

As far as the Alice thing-- I think it would be annoying, but Alice's visions aren't fail proof-- you can change them--and often, her visions have proved wrong because she saw what was coming and everyone acted accordingly to make that event NOT happen. I think I would be more annoyed with the Pack thing, because you couldn't hide ANYTHING from everyone else in the pack. There are a lot of thoughts in my head that no one else should ever hear! Especially because I often think really mean things. I think I would piss the pack off and they'd eat me or something.

Lex: haha, do u have the ann rice vampire books??? my dad says that i shopuld read them but i cant get my hands on the first book or like any of them. well i know who should play Masimo in the Georgia movies, it should be the guy that played prince caspian. but ya i dont like robbie anymore cuz he went back to octapus girl (i forgot her name). did u see the Georgia movie??? cuz i want to but didnt get the chance. alright back to twilight. What did u think of Bellas acting skills in the first book to try and leave charlie to save his life????

Me: I don't have any of the Ann Rice books anymore-- the first is Interview with a Vampire-- I agree with your dad! You should read them!!!

I haven't seen Prince Caspian yet, so I can't say. Also, I don't know if Robbie really is with Wet Lindsay, I know SHE thinks so, but remember when what's his face, Hunky, said that it seemed to be mostly on her end? I like Robbie a lot, but he and Georgia are just a bad match! Don't worry about not seeing the movie-- it hasn't opened in the US yet-- you haven't missed it at all!!!!

I think Bella's acting skills were pretty good in the first book. I felt really bad for Charlie, because in order to leave, she had to say and do some pretty crappy stuff, but... it works out as to why she had to do it.

Lex: ya, alright, i do remember Tom saying that it was mainly Wet Lindsay. what was ur reaction when Edward called Bella's baby a thing?

Me: I was surprised. Edward's very traditional, so I thought he'd be really excited about the baby. Once it became clear that no one knew what this baby would be and that Edward thought (well, knew) that it was killing Bella, then I understood why he was so squemy about it.

I think the baby thing was a good way for Bella to become a vampire without Edward having to feel weird about killing her, given that she was going to die anyway!

What did you think of the name Renesmee?

Lex: i thought the name Renesmee was hard to pronounce and every time my mom would correct me id almost bite her head off bout it. i love the baby tho. i kinda get why Edward was scared but he should have been a little happy to know that he had a baby, i do agree with u tho bout how to turn Bella

Me: It is a mouthful-- I like Nessie as a nickname though. I think once Edward started to hear her thoughts, before she was born, he turned around and was pretty excited. Before hand, he was just freaked out that Bella was going to die and I don't think he was sure it was a baby at all!

Lex: ya, i like the nickname but i dont think id like my kid being called nessie. im out of questions. im kinda tired


Twilight Pt. 2: In Which I Review The Books

Ok, I did love the Twilight series. It's not good literature by any means, or the best books I've ever read, but I ate them all up.

My cousin Lex had been clamouring for me to read them for AGES. While I was having much fun with my friend Ali making up what we though the book was about, based on the Flair application of Facebook, I finally gave in this summer. Because really, what kind of YA book nerd was I if I hadn't even tried to read it?! (You'll meet Lex and Ali again later today in further Twilight-related posts)

In the supreme joy that is taking YA lit in grad school, I finally read Twilight AS HOMEWORK. As soon as I finished, even though I still had to finish reading Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels for the same class, I ran to the store and bought the rest of the series.

My review of the first book is the homework assignment I turned in, hence the slightly different tone than my review of the other three.

Twilight Stephenie Meyer

When Bella Swan moves to cold, rainy Forks, Washington to live with her father, she misses the warmth and sun of Phoenix. That is quickly forgotten, however, as she falls in love with the enigmatic and beautiful Edward Cullen. Putting a super-natural twist on the classic doomed lovers scenario, Edward is a vampire who both loves Bella and wants to eat her.

Edward is a romantic hero in the broody, sometimes cruel, mold of Heathcliff and Mr. Rochester, while Bella identifies her all-consuming love with that of Juliet. Meyer’s characters are flat and her dialogue often leaves something to be desired. Despite this, her take on the star-crossed lovers, full of chaste sexual-tension, will leave readers turning pages late into the night and clamoring for further installment so the story.

Also, in a bit I did *not* turn in, I must say that I have NEVER understood the attraction to Mr. Rochester or Healthcliff. Nor have I ever really understood Juliet. While Edward's swagger is typical of most romance novel heroes (and Twilight is a bodice-ripping romance, but without the ripped bodices) Bella lacks the spunk usually found in the objects of their affection.


New Moon Stephenie Meyer

The book begins with Edward leaving Bella "for her own good" and disappearing. Bella, meanwhile, disappears into her own grief and depression. Eventually, she starts spending a lot more time with Jacob, helping him restore some motorcycles, which she takes to riding. She starts engaging in some potentially risky behavior (motorcycles, cliff diving) because every time she puts herself in danger, she hears Edward's voice in her head, and she can't give that up.

A lot of people don't like this book, because there isn't a lot of Edward in it. And people who don't like Twilight in general don't like it because Bella's at her weakest.

And... this is my favorite of the series. While there is no Edward, and while Bella is really weak, I think it is an honest and raw portrait of depression and the reactions to it. The chapters in this book are grouped by month as the year passes. The sections for October, November, and December are beautiful and moving in their stark simplicity.

I must say though, I was SO ANGRY at Bella's parents for not stepping up and giving their daughter the help she needed. Just because she says she doesn't want to go to therapy doesn't mean she doesn't have to go! You have to pull a Lars a la Princess Mia and pick her up, chuck her in the back of the limo (or in the case, a pick up truck) and dump her on the therapist's couch.

Eclipse Stephenie Meyer

Edward's back and protecting Bella! The vampires and werewolves hate each other! Here's where the minor red flags that Edward threw up for me in Twilight made me want to scream RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY WHILE YOU STILL CAN! Cutting you off from your friends is NOT OK! Even if werewolves and vampires are mortal enemies! And while I loved Jacob dearly in New Moon, once he becomes a werewolf he turns into SUCH A JERK. At the end of New Moon I was very Team Jacob. At the end of this one, when there was blindingly obvious which guy Bella would choose, I was team "run away and get a life." They both sucked and were horrible choices.

Bella really annoyed me in the this one. She would be all righteously indignant at the crap Edward was pulling, but then when she called him on it, he'd be all "oh, I'm sorry" and she'd be all "OK! Let's make out!" Grrrrr.

And yet, I couldn't stop turning the page...

Actually, it reminded me of re-reading Forever . . . as an adult. When I first read it in Junior High, Katherine and Michael's love was true and pure. When Katherine's parents didn't want them to spend the summer together, they were SO MEAN AND EVIL. When I re-read it as an adult, Michael sent up every read flag very early on and thank heaven Katherine's parents were there to try and get her daughter to keep some perspective. Too bad Bella doesn't have a voice of reason in her life.

Breaking Dawn Stephenie Meyer

Bella may have turned into the ultimate Mary Sue in this one, but she grew a spine and started to kick some ass. I think her relationships become more healthy and she was less annoying. Although I did have to put the book down during the birth scene (and I've seen people give birth before!)

The final battle though was a little anti-climactic.

Overall, I really like this series. There isn't a lot of criticism that I've heard that I can disagree with, but I swallowed these up and enjoyed almost every minute of it.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Twilight Pt. 1: Poetry Friday

It's Twilight Weekend here at Biblio File. There will be reviews and interviews.

But first, a silly little poem I wrote:

There once was a vampire named Edward
Whom Bella wished to take Bed-ward
He said "Oh! I can't!
I'm a dangerous scamp!"
But Bella said "Bite ME, not the fangirl herd!"

Tee hee hee

Laura Salas is rounding up!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Back to the Books!

Such a weird week. Having Monday and Tuesday off totally throws off my internal clock, especially because it's my week to work Saturday, which means I also have tomorrow off. Next week will be back to normal, but the week after that sees me taking time off to hang out with visiting friends, so it'll be the same as this week. CRAZY TOWN.

Anyway, one of my goals for January was to review books that I read in 2007 but hadn't reviewed yet.

So, without further ado, here are some old reviews!

Yang the Youngest and his Terrible Ear Lensey Namioka

Yingtao Yang is the youngest of 4. His family just moved to Seattle from China and they are slowly getting used to their new country. It was hard at first, but things are settling down, even if his sister has done something utterly bizarre and taken an American name while at school.

The real problems aren't cultural. The real problem is that Yingtao is totally tone deaf and, no matter how hard he tries, is really bad at violin. Too bad his parents are musicians and all of his older siblings play beautifully. He's supposed to be the 4th in their quartet, but he's just no good! His parents say it's because he doesn't practice enough and yell at him for wasting his time playing baseball, which he is really good at.

But, his new friend has the opposite problem--his parents want him to be good at baseball and spend all his time playing the game, but he's horrible and really just wants to spend all his time playing violin, which he loves. So, with the big recital, Yingtao will just pretend to play and his friend will really play behind a curtain. What could possibly go wrong?

This is a funny book about fitting in, getting along with your parents, and playing baseball. I enjoyed the small glimpses into the issues of fitting into a new culture without that being what the story was all about. This is an older book, a classic even, and there's a reason why it's lasted so long. Kids will still enjoy it!

Good for boys 4-6th grade.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret Brian Selznick

Ok, so I'm not sure I can really add anything that hasn't been said before about dear Hugo. For those who don't know...

Hugo Cabret is a boy who lives in a Parisian train station and winds and fixes the clocks. He is obsessed with automatons.

The main beauty of this book is that it's part chapter book, part wordless picture book, with the segments of story told purely in pictures having the quality of a silent film, without resorting to flipbook.

It also was amazing last year when it one the Caldecott Awards (best Illustrated book) even though it clocks in at 533 pages. And, in addition to winning an award that is for picture books, it was also named one of the Top Ten Books for Teens.


I loved it.

And rumor has it the Martin Scorcese has bought the rights. If anyone could do this book justice, he can.

Back for Weekly Geeks 12, some people asked me some questions about this one:

Bart's Bookshelf asked:

What you thought of the mix of prose and artwork in Hugo Cabret?

LOVE! I think for the subject matter of this story, with its look at early technology and film history, it worked really really well, more than just prose or just pictures would have.

Kim asked:

I have a question about The Invention of Hugo Cabret...What is this book about basically? Is this considered a young adult book? I have a 12 year old who really likes reading fantasy--Harry Potter, Brian Jacques, the Warrior series, get the picture! Would this book be up his alley. I am tired of buying him a book and having him be done in 2 days! This book looks like a pretty big tome which might take him 3 days to devour instead!!

While teens will really enjoy this, I would consider this middle grade. While this isn't fantasy, I think it might appeal to fantasy readers, especially if they enjoy the steampunk subgenre. However, given that large chunks, if not the majority of this book is told in pictures, it won't last 3 days. I think it took me 2 hours. I couldn't put it down. Then I turned it over and reread it again. Still, I do highly recommend it.

The most wonderful, beloved, and missed Dewey asked:

Did the visual art in The Invention of Hugo Cabret appeal to you? Do you think the images furthered the story as much as the text did?

It really appealed to me and I think in some cases it furthered the story even more than the text. Parts of the subject matter were highly visible and telling those parts of the story with a pictures instead of words just worked better, I think.

Michelle asked: It seemed like The Invention of Hugo Cabret was really big when it came out. I was working in a bookstore at the time that sold new books, and we couldn't keep it in stock. Very quickly, though, it crept into the shadows, and now it's hard even to ask someone about it, because no one has ever heard of it. Does the book give any insight into this - was it disappointing? Did it fail your expectations of it? Or did it just not stand out as much as it seemed like it would have?
Hmmm. This is a really interesting question, because it doesn't match my experience at all. I think part of the initial craziness over it was the fact that the format, mixing wordless picture book with chapter book, was so new. Then, when it won the Caldecott, it gained even more fame.

In my library, circulation has died down a bit on it, but it's still checked out on a regular basis. When we first got it , and then when it won, there was a mile long holds list. Even after that, it was rarely on the shelf--as soon as we got it in, it was gone again. Now, it does stay on the shelf once and a while, but still gets checked out a lot.

I think that while it does live up to the hype, it's more of a quiet book, not a runaway ohmygod everyone loves this sort of thing. If that makes any sense...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

Here's my post at Geek Buffet about today's events.

Inauguration Day--kidlit connection

There will be a bigger post coming, but I wanted to share an awesome kidlit connection that I saw today while braving the crowds and temperatures of the National Mall this afternoon.

Someone had a Flat Stanly there. Flat Stanly saw President Obama being sworn in.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Really Adult Books!

I've thought long and hard about this.

This is my blog for every book I read, but I do tend to read a lot of things on the children's/YA side of things and am most decidedly a member of the kidlit side of the biblio-blogosphere.

But, sometimes I read adult books. Really, really, really adult books. The kind that have Fabio on the cover and lots of ripped bodices on the pages. I want to review everything I read, but I realize that reviews of such books might be totally unexpected to my normal audience and might make certain people feel uncomfortable.

So, I ended up reviewing these books on my spoiler blog, so they're super-easy to skip if you don't want to hear my views on word choice in such a context. I totally understand.

BUT! If you do, I have a reviews of

Champagne Rules Susan Lyons
Ask For It Sylvia Day
Bad Boys Ahoy Sylvia Day
The Embroidered Couch Lu Tiancheng

right here. If you don't want to read them, that's cool. I've changed the music in my Amazon widget over on the sidebar. You can amuse yourself with that and I'll get back to my normal fare in a bit.

And what do you think about this decision? How would you handle it?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A few types of Princesses

So, I'm about half way through reading Princess Diaries, Volume X: Forever Princess. Mia is STILL with JP? I mean, WTF? He's even ickier than I remember him. Also, why is Mia so spineless? I love this series, but girl needs to grow a pair. I'll talk more after I actually finish the book.

Today, we'll talk about some other princesses and fairy tales with two more books in the Once Upon a Time series...

Sunlight and Shadow Cameron Dokey

Mmmm. So this installment of the Once Upon a Time series gives a new face The Magic Flute. There are differences, of course, which is what gives this version new life and vitality. I cannot express how much I loved this book--I could not put it down.

Mina, the daughter of the King of the Day and Queen of the Night has been kidnapped by her father. Prophecy at her birth says that Mina's marriage would bring great changes to the powers of her parents, and so Sarastro has been grooming her husband for years.

Mina has no wish to be a pawn in her father's games, and so she runs from his house, to try and return to her mother.

Lots of great stuff here. I also really enjoyed the shifting points of view throughout the story to get so many different reactions to the events taking place. Dokey gives each character a unique voice and vision. This might just be my favorite in this series!

The Rose Bride by Nancy Holder

Rose's tale starts as a Cinderella tale, with an enchanted garden tied to her mother and an evil stepmother and stepsister. About half-way though shifts to "The White Bride and the Black Bride" as it becomes apparent that the evil steps are sorceresses. Plus, there's a war.

This one just didn't work for me. There is all sorts of random weird ties with Greek Mythology (who is a devotee of Zeus vs. Artemis plays a not insignificant role) even though it takes place in medieval France? That was never really explained and was just... weird. Also, in the author's note, Holder says she was inspired by the movie Ever After. It shows. A lot.

Also, the end was really rushed. Overall, like I said, it just didn't do it for me.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


In case you don't live in the DC area, I would like to tell you that THE WORLD IS ENDING THIS WEEKEND! As you are probably aware, Tuesday is Inauguration Day. There will be scads of people coming in to see the festivities. Lots and lots and lots of tourists. Plus, you know, it's cold. The DC government ordered the Smithsonians to stay open all day so that the crowds and crowds of people on the mall can warm up and use the bathroom. Only, no one is sure how the people who work at the Smithsonian were supposed to get there. Last I heard, the staff of the American History Museum is having a slumber party on Monday night.

Anyway. We're thinking of walking into town, only it looks like every bridge will be closed, so who knows *how* that will happen.

Even better, there's a 30% chance of snow. This city goes into a blind panic when it starts snowing.

This is the stuff political comedies are made of.

On the other hand, it's a week away. They've promised me snow many times in the past, but as the day draws near, it always gets downgraded to rain. Phooey.

No matter what happens, taking MLK day into the mix, it's a 4 day weekend. YAY!

Anyway, books:

Suite Scarlett Maureen Johnson

Scarlett Martin's family owns a hotel. When each of the Martin children turn 15, they get one room in the hotel that they are in charge of. Scarlett was given the biggest suite in the hotel. And, that very day, a most bizarre and demanding person moves in.

Sadly, the hotel isn't doing that well. Scarlett's older brother and sister are trying to hold onto their dreams while not abandoning the family. Her younger sister is a grade A brat, but you have to be nice to her, because she used to have cancer...

And then, there's a boy.

Everyone really loved this book, so I had really high expectations going in, plus hello! Maureen Johnson! I LOVE HER!

And while this book was good, it did not live up to all that I wanted it to be, especially in the middle. Scarlett makes a lot of bone-headed moves that made me want to kick her. I mean, yes, her decisions are exactly what a 15-year-old girl would do. They were in character, but I still wanted to hurl something at her head.

Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for it? Ah well.

What I Saw And How I Lied Judy Blundell

Something bad has happened. We know this, because the story is told in flashback, but we don't know what. So, as we follow Evie and her mother and step-father down to a last minute vacation to a boarded up Palm Beach, we try to figure it out.

What happened? Who's the bad guy? What are the lies Evie is telling (because, with the title, we assume there are lies, right? At least, I did.)

Palm Beach is dead and fraught with tension as we tease it out.

Evie is struggling to grow up, to be allowed to grow up. She meets a man and falls in love. (And she's a young teen, and this is a man. DANGER WILL ROBINSON!)

Blundell weaves the post-war Florida setting wonderfully but... when we finally got to the end... my thought was "Wait, what? Really?" about 2 different things.

It's been a week, and I'm still not entirely sure about how I feel about this book. Hmmmmm. Have you read it? What did you think?

Also, in her bio, for some reason, "Under a pen name, she has written many New York Times best-selling novels" really rubs me the wrong way. If you're not going to tell me what else they are, then don't bring it up! It's like going "I know a secret and you don't"


Friday, January 09, 2009

Adult Books

Do any of you wish that your favorite YA authors wrote books for adults?

One of my favorite things about the Sex and the City Movie was that it was an adult story. So many adult movies today are historical fiction, war, blow things up, or feature overgrown men children. This was a movie about... adults.

And I'm not saying that adult literature is more important but... if my favorite authors can capture the feelings and thoughts of who I was so perfectly, making me wish they YA literature was the force then that it is now, I want to see what they can do to capture the person I am now. If they can still capture that rawness and immediacy. Just 10-15 years older.

Anybody else with me on this?

Poetry Friday

On Sunday, it will have been 6 years since Dan and I got married. It really doesn't seem like that long ago. This picture is from a Potomac Nationals (one of our local minor league baseball teams) game this summer that we went to with friends.

Today is Poetry Friday. Today I offer another song, this is one of the ones we sang during the ceremony. It's one of my favorites for cold winter nights.

Hearth and Fire
by Gordon Bok

Hearth and fire be ours tonight
And all the dark outside,
Fair the night, and kind on you
Wherever you may bide.

And I'll be the sun upon your head,
The wind about your face;
My love upon the path you tread
And upon your wanderings, peace.


Wine and song be ours tonight,
And all the cold outside;
Peace and warmth be yours tonight
Wherever you may bide.


Hearth and fire be ours tonight
And the wind in the birches bare;
Oh, that the wind we hear tonight,
Would find you well and fair.


Roundup is over at Picture Book of the Day!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Books for Grownups

One thing I noticed when doing my year end review was that last year, most of the adult books I read were nonfiction. I read very little adult fiction. I don't know why, that was just the way the cookie crumbled, I guess.

But, here are two adult fiction titles I did read:

Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters Mark Dunn

The island of Nollop lies just off the coast of the South Eastern US. It is named after Nevin Nollop, the man who discovered the pangram sentence "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." Citizens of Nollop are fantastically devoted to the English language. Things get interesting when letters start falling off the Nollop statue in town. Is is old fixative? Or is Nollop striking letters from our lexicon from beyond the grave? Those in town think it's Nollop working in mysterious ways, so certain letters, and any words containing them, are now outlawed.

Told in, fittingly, in letters (of the correspondence variety) we follow the path of the Nollopians as they lose more and more of their language and fight to make their council see sense.

It starts out as a light-hearted, humourous premis, but it becomes gripping as citizens get more and more desperate, as punishments for using the forbidden letters are harsh and rebellion is mounting. But not in a scary way.

Overall, I recommend. It's for adults, but there are lots of young adult characters and I think many high school students (especially those that are already readers) will enjoy it.

Love Marriage: A Novel V. V. Ganeshananthan

This is a really concise, sprawling family epic. The chapters are all short vignettes, and I mean really short, some are only a paragraph long, and none are over a few pages. And contained in these episodic jewels is Yalani, the American born daughter of two Sri Lankan immigrants, the first in their families to have a Love Marriage. When her uncle, a high-up in the Tamil Tigers is dying, he moves to Toronto with his daughter, who will have an Arranged Marriage. Yalani and her parents go to Toronto to care for him and it is there that Yalani starts researching her family, so we get the stories of all of her relatives in multiple generations. The narration jumps through time and sides and of the family, and much of it is also a girl trying to balance being American with being Sri Lankan and trying to make sense of the war.

Ganeshananthan's prose is amazing, though. I love the way she clues you into time and space, such as referring to her mother as "Vani not yet my mother" to signify the story takes place before she (Yalani) came on the scene. Her use of capitalization is also something that I savored. (This sounds pretentious, but it's not.)

Several small gems of chapters add up to make one lovely book.

Full disclosure: ARC provided by publisher through LibraryThing's early reviewer program.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Housekeeping and Challenges

I have 3 reading goals this month.

1. I totally forgot about the New Classics Challenge. It ends on the 31st and I haven't done any reading for it. I've been debating just failing on it, but 4 of my unread classics are also on the scary list of doom, so I'm going to at least try. This means I am trying to read and review the following books by the end of the month:

1. Wind up Bird Chronicle
2. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
3. Possession
4. Glass Castle
5. Bonfire of the Vanities
6. High Fidelity

2. I have to read all the MG/YA Non-fiction Cybils finalists. I have a stack already! (Technically, this isn't due at the end of the month, but we have to pick a winner by the 14th of February, so I want to have most, if not all read by the end of the month, so I have 2 weeks to ponder and discuss)

3. One of my goals this year is to have no more than 5 pleasure reading books checked out at a time. I won't tell you how many I have checked out right now, but let's just say it is WAY more than 5. I will give myself to the end of the month to read as many as possible. After that, all but 5 are going back to the library. (Ok, this goes until February 4th though, because I have the first few days of the month off and won't be at the library until the 4th to return my books. Ha!)

And... I've joined another challenge. This is an easy challenge.

My Friend Amy is challenging people to buy 1 book a month and read it. 3 books can be ones you've already owned. This is something that was going to happen anyway, so it's not really a "challenge" but it will be fun! You should join, too.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Ringing in the New Year

It's Poetry Friday and, despite the lack of snow this year, this song has been in my head for a new year. I've been inspired by the goals of my friends and Justina's vision board and with me no longer in school, I've set some challenges for myself this year. I'm looking forward to it!

All shall be well again, I know

One of my favorite trips when we lived in England was when we went to visit a friend who was studying in Norwich. There, we went to a pub that dates to 1250 (really low doors and ceilings, but excellent fish!) and saw the cell where Julian of Norwich wrote Revelations of Divine Love. The church of St. Julian is overshadowed by the Norwich Cathedral, but there is something amazing about looking into the room where the first book written in English by a woman was penned. No matter what your religion, if you appreciate literature and books, it was a bit of a holy experience.

Anyway, here's the song. Lyrics and chords can be found in everyone's favorite folk song handbook Rise Up Singing

Julian of Norwich by Sydney Carter

Loud are the bells of Norwich
And the people come and go
Here by the tower of Julian
I tell them what I know

Ring out, bells of Norwich and let the winter come and go
All shall be well again, I know.

Love, like the yellow daffodil
Is coming through the snow
Love, like the yellow daffodil
Is Lord of all I know


Ring for the yellow daffodil
The flower in the snow
Ring for the yellow daffodil
And tell them what I know


All shall be well, I’m telling you
Let the winter come and go
All shall be well again, I know.

Round up is at A Year of Reading!