Friday, January 28, 2011
Here at the library everyone 'in charge' is currently concerned with statistics from the past year. The director has a big report to prepare, and everyone has to answer to what they did last year. Guess what I learned yesterday? Yeah, Blogger has stats now. Now I can be all weird and find out things like how many times my blog has been viewed, and from whence came the viewers. Turns out people HAVE actually been reading this thing, or well visiting it at least. Not just from the U.S. either....although my husband is sure that there are plenty of spamish hits accounting for some of this activity, and I'm sure he is right but it is still cool. I think so at least. I do wish more people would comment just to say "hey", especially if they (you) are from a country other than the good ol' U.S.A., I don't even care if you speak English. (Pop this post into a translator and then comment in whatever language you want!) Ok, I'm getting weird now. I'll blame lack of quality sleep. Besides needing a new bed, which we do, we also had fun with the furnace failing to produce heat in the wee small hours of Thursday morning.
I'm off topic....again. The point is that I have been posting here only since last May, and so I think that 10 followers is awesome! Also, I think that having hits from 10 countries including UK and Russia is also awesome. Probably, I use the word 'Awesome' too much.....not sure I care. If it bothers you, let me know. Heck, let me know anything. (within reason, of course.....I don't really want to know about your pet's bathroom habits....unless it is amusing maybe....)
I have a great post all planned.....I just have to make the time, so am hoping for Monday. I'll start on it tonight, if the stars align. Thank you all for making my blog enjoyable. It was good therapy for me anyway getting 'stuff' from my head and onto the magical, mysterious internet. Feedback, and knowing that someone out there in the 'real' world has seen it somehow makes my brain happier. Like sunshine for the soul, and we all need sunshine for our souls.
Speaking of Neil Gaiman (we were, weren't we?), I listened this week to an audio collection of his and was tickled to find a sweet interview with N.G. and his daughter at the end. Very fun, and highly recommended. I promise to speak of other authors for a while. I'm not obsessed, I promise. I just really enjoy his stories. Maybe someday I'll move on to some of his "grown-up" books.....when I get around to it.
Have a wonderful weekend! Much love!
Thursday, January 20, 2011
I was thinking about some of that "retro blogging" that I keep meaning to get around to. I mentioned in this post about sharing books with my niece. We also share an affinity for things like Dragons and Faeries, and so I had shared the Dragon Slippers series by Jessica Day George. I was enchanted with Dragon Slippers from the first moment I read this description (from the author's website):
She wanted dragon gold. She got a pair of shoes.
Many stories tell of damsels in distress, who are rescued from the clutches of fire-breathing dragons by knights in shining armor, and swept off to live happily ever after.
This is not one of those stories.
True, when Creel’s aunt suggests sacrificing her to the local dragon, it is with the hope that the knight will marry Creel and that everyone (aunt and family included) will benefit handsomely. Yet it’s Creel who talks her way out of the dragon’s clutches. And it’s Creel who walks for days on end to seek her fortune in the king’s city with only a bit of embroidery thread and a strange pair of slippers in her possession.
But even Creel could not have guessed the outcome of this tale. For in a country on the verge of war, Creel unknowingly possesses not just any pair of shoes, but a tool that could be used to save her kingdom…or destroy it.
When I finished Dragon Slippers, I was kind of sad. There were hints about the survival of a character thought to have perished, and I wanted to know how this could be. However, the second book Dragon Flight had not yet been published. I recently learned that the author had no intentions originally of ever writing a sequel. I am so very glad that she not only wrote the sequel, but a third book, Dragon Spear as well. Such a delightful series, filled with adventure, embroidery, dressmaking, dragons, humor, exotic pets (and friends), and even some romance. They are not thick books, perfect length for the middle grade audience, even though some of them think they need the fattest books out there. We probably have J. K. Rowling to thank for at least part of that.
Sometimes I post on our library's blog. I have been known to pillage my own blog and modify slightly to save from totally redoing everything. Last week however, I created an entirely original post on some picture books, I may do another one today since I didn't get to but three that day. I thought about pillaging that to put up here, but instead I'm just linking. I'll save time, and get to talk about even more books. It is win/win.
The comment challenge. Not going to make the goal of 100, not close. That said, it has really been great. I have discovered some new-to-me blogs, and brought some new great folks here. I would call it an over all success.
I have to take this time to say how much I LOVE Paolo Nutini. My current play list is exclusively Paolo. If you don't know Paolo, I am sorry, and you need to rectify that immediately. This should help. I wanted to embed this video, but apparently that has been disabled. Pooh. Well, you'll just have to work a little harder. : ) There are so many things I love about this video, though it may not fit the images in my head when I first heard the song. The best part is that if it wasn't what I pictured, it was more fun. It is a sort of homage to Harvey, the 1950 Jimmy Stewart film. If you haven't seen this, you really should. In the film, Harvey (a Pooka) is invisible to all but Stewart's character. Elwood P. Dowd is one of my favorite Stewart characters. Such a sweet, thoughtful caring man. So what if is best friend is a six-foot invisible rabbit.
But I digress. Back to Paolo....which is in itself a digression from the topic of books, but......sorry, what was I saying? Oh yes, Paolo. This fine young lad from Paisley, Scotland is so soulful and different. His music is diverse, and delicious, and often oh so sexy. My favorite line (from Coming up Easy"): "It was in love I was created, and in love is how I hope I die." My thoughts exactly. Have a wonderful day, everyone.
Monday, January 17, 2011
“Once there was the sun, bright and warm and wonderful, shining like the love within my heart. Now there’s no more sun, Winter has killed everything…”
These lines are from a song from the 1994 animated film Thumbelina. I’m starting to feel that way about winter. The truth is I’m not getting any younger, and the cold hurts. I’ve spent the majority of the week cold. Cold feet…chilled to the core. The bulk of my thoughts these days, unless preoccupied by something important, have been consumed by thoughts of somewhere warm.....or hot tubs. *sigh* Sadly, the warmest I get tends to be in my bed just before time to get up, or so it seems.
Not that this has anything to do with anything. I’m just whining.
Now that that part is over, I can get back to books. Much more pleasant subject matter.
I enjoyed this story. I wasn’t sure at first if I would, to be honest. C’mon, a perky teenage girl with a pink sparkly taser that she has nicknamed “Tasey”? Ok, so she tracks down paranormals (werewolves, vampires, etc.) for an organization called the IPCA (International Paranormal Containment Agency), and has a mermaid for a best friend, that‘s interesting. Her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, and she has the ability to see through the glamours of the paranormals. All pretty interesting. The way the faeries transport her along the faerie paths…..ok, I’ll read it. So I read it, and I really did enjoy it.
This book has well written, believable characters (in spite of many of them being paranormals), a really interesting, super cute boy, engaging plot, and humor. What is not to love?
I learned not to make assumptions about girls who like pink and watch cheesy teen angst-y dramas on tv, because sometimes, all that girl wants is to be ‘normal’, when she is anything but. The author posted very eloquently about this here.
My new favorite thing about this debut novel is the fact that I walked into my sister’s house the other day and my niece was holding a copy up to me pretty much as I walked in the room. A friend of hers had given it to her, and she wanted to share it with me. Apparently, she read it in 3 days, and loved it. I was excited to tell her that I had already read it, so we could talk about it then and there. She loved how romantic the story was, and was super excited when I told her that there would be two more. The fact that she has to wait until fall for the second installment didn’t seem to phase her too much, “That just gives me time to read it again.” she said. I love sharing books with the kids in my life! Funny side note: when her Mom had asked her if there were any bad words in it (my niece is 12), she replied, “Nope, she just says ‘Bleep’.” : )
Thursday, I read Amelia and Eleanor Go For A Ride by Pam Munoz Ryan, illustrated by Brian Selznick. This is one of those picture books that, though based on actual events, completely captures the imagination. I don’t know if kids would react to it the way I did, but as a ‘grown up’ who is fascinated by both Eleanor Roosevelt and Amelia Earhart, I found the story wondrous. It brings to light so many things that are different, very different today than when this takes place, which is 1933. Few women were as bold and adventurous as these two famously independent women. It was considered too bold for a woman to drive in 1933 (something Eleanor loved to do), much less fly an airplane. Secret Service is much more rigid, and rightfully so, not to mention much harder to slip past. The nighttime flight over Washington D.C., and subsequent car ride would never be able to happen today. But then, we women take driving for granted today. We take the fact that we have more freedoms and opportunities today completely for granted. We forget what our, um, foremothers ? went through to get us to this point. I learned many things just because of this book (looking things up on the internet can be very distracting-so easy to get off on tangents and lose a whole day).
The way Ms. Ryan talks about gloves, and stars, and the White House dinner is rich with detail. She is eloquent and paints such a vivid picture there is almost no need for illustration. Mr. Selznick, however has provided amazing artwork that could almost tell the story in itself. What really struck me the most was that I had seen this book around the library for some time, possibly years, and hadn’t ‘gotten around’ to reading it until that day. How many more wonderful books am I missing out on? May I live to 100 and still not have read all the books I want to read. So many great books, so little time to read them all. What a problem to have.
This brings me to something else I did that day. I listened to the first part of the audio version of The Chosen One, by Carol Lynch Williams while I ate my lunch. (and a little longer….) Wow. I had been told it was wonderful. I had been told it was powerful. I was not prepared for it apparently. It brought me to tears, I was so moved. This book…..and I have not even finished the first “part”. (I downloaded this from our digital library, it comes in 5 ‘parts’, which is like 5 discs if it were on CD.) --"Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated polygamous community without questioning her father's multiple wives and her twenty brothers and sisters, with two more on the way. Or at least without questioning them much--if you don't count her secret visits to the Ironton County Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her occasional meetings with Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of marrying a man who is chosen for her. But when the Prophet decrees that Kyra must marry her sixty-year-old uncle, and her parents are powerless against him, Kyra must confront the increasingly violent lengths to which the Prophet and his followers are prepared to go to enforce his will over the entire community." (Copied from the above linked Overdrive site) -- I just passed the point where Kyra has discovered the Bookmobile and read her first fiction book. The book? Bridge to Terebithia. Yeah. She is so amazed and moved by this book, and has so many questions, yet she has no one to whom she can talk about it. How frustrating and sad that would be. Because of her faith, she should not be anywhere near a public library with its “brainwashing books” whether or not it is on wheels. She definitely shouldn’t be reading fiction. This imaginative and sensitive young girl in imminent danger of being married off, so eloquently read by Jenna Lamia, went strait to my heart. I cannot wait, and yet am afraid to listen to more of her story. The work is fiction, but for how many girls can it be reality? I shudder to think. Yes, I have to finish this one for sure.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
I should add that I learned about it at BookMoot, one of my all time favorite book blogs. Thank you Camille.
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Friday, January 7, 2011
I sincerely hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday season, and is now the better for it. Holidays and family are great! I will admit to being a little ok with the season being over though. I got pretty exhausted between all the fun, excitement, and good times. (and a few not-the-best times)
On to books. I love them, I've read lots, and want to share lots of them with you. Even if there are not too many of you, I don't mind. I like doing it anyway, and hope to do much more this year. Not really a resolution though, I don't really do so well with those. Call it what you will, I am determined to be healthier and more productive this year. That is all. : )
I promised a post on Neil Gaiman's picture books, well, some of them at least. LOVE them. If you saw the episode of Arthur that he did, you heard a snippet of Instructions, which he did with Charles Vess. Wow. This is SUCH a "Me" book. This is a beautiful and poetic look at how to get through life, or any fairy tale. I have learned that there are those who believe in magic, and those who don't. To each their own, I am definitely a believer in magic. Therefore this book is amazing to me. So beautifully written and illustrated, it is the kind of book that I want to own and read often. I want everyone I know to read it, even though I know many of them won't. *Sigh* Sad but true reality.
The first picture book of Mr. Gaiman's that I "discovered" was The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish.
It was the first Neil Gaiman book I had ever read. Needless to say, I was hooked. This is a delightfully fun story of a boy who....well, read the title. All his Dad does is sit and read his newspaper anyway, so why not? His mother is not amused, however and makes him take his little sister with him to swap back. The problem is the boy with whom he has swapped has already swapped Dad for something else. The result is a swapping extravaganza until finally everyone has what they started out with and the boy and his sister have their father back.
Another favorite that I want to post here about is The Wolves in the Walls. Oh goodness do I love this book! Partly because it has a definite Neil Gaiman feel about it, which means humour and British-ness and things strange and wonderful presented in a matter-of-fact way, and partly because I think I may have wolves living in the ceiling of my bathroom.
Lucy knows that the sounds and creepy watched feeling she experiences in her "big old house" is due to the fact that wolves are living in the walls, but her Mom says it is mice. Dad says it is rats, and her brother hopes it is bats. Couldn't be wolves, because you know what they say: "if the wolves come out of the walls, it's all over." I have read this book recently to kids ranging in age from 4 to 11. They all enjoyed it. That is one of the great things about a well done "children's book"; they can entertain everyone. Just another reason why one should never stop reading picture books.
I often wish that books didn't have to be labeled and classified. A good story is a good story, who cares what age group it is aimed at? Exceptions do apply, I suppose. Still, if anyone sees you with a great picture book, never be ashamed!
I know everyone has heard of, if not seen Coraline, but not as many know that it was written by Neil Gaiman. Also, Stardust, which is aimed a bit older, is very good. I think I have mentioned in previous posts about The Graveyard Book and Odd and the Frost Giants, if not, look into those as well. Great storytelling.
I just today ordered several more titles for our library's digital collection. I'm looking forward to more stories from this amazingly talented author. The above titles should by no means be considered a complete summation of his work, only a part of his books for children (with the exception of Stardust). He writes for all ages, and I'll get around to some of the others as well.....sometime. (This could be considered a tribute in honor of his recent wedding, if not for the fact that I had been planning it for a while......)
On a completely different train, I did finish Paranormalcy, by Kiersten White. Hopefully I will get to that review before too long.