20 December 2008

46. Sarah's Key

First, thank you to St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read the Advance Reader’s Edition of Tatiana de Rosnay's first novel written in her native language of English. This accomplished international writer chose a little known historical event as the basis for her novel, Sarah's Key. This was the Velodrome d’Hiver (more commonly known as Vel de Viv) roundup of Jews in occupied Paris on July 16, 1942. While I have spent years studying the Holocaust especially as it affected Eastern European Jews, I had never learned about the roundups in France. I am glad that I loved the book, but I would have been happy to have learned something new about the Holocaust even if I had not been driven to complete the book.

The story begins with young Sarah in her family’s apartment being rounded up by French policemen. Her mother is calling for her to hurry as the policemen were getting impatient. Sarah looks to bring her brother with them and decides instead to lock him in a secret closet in their bedroom. She plans to release him when she returns. Of course, like many who did not want to believe, Sarah thought she would be back home very soon. Her story of survival is emotional and the reader feels her pain as the story unfolds slowly through the length of the novel.

In alternating chapters, we are brought to the current age and introduced to Julia who is an American journalist married to a Frenchman. She is assigned to write a story on the 40th anniversary of the Vel de Viv. She discovers that her life and Sarah’s are intertwined. In the process of unraveling the mysteries of the past, Julia learns about strength and courage; pain and comfort.

In the end the author brings the idea of remembrance into the spotlight. This fits in nicely with my own philosophy. We must find ways to help people to remember or understand what happened during the Holocaust of World War II. Perhaps it will help us to understand the Holocausts we are ignoring in today’s world.

I found the writing to be very emotive and sound. While the following quotes may or may not appear in the final publication, here are two of my favorite lines:

Think of the things you love, of the things that make you happy. (p. 39, ARE)
Her mother had become like a child. (p. 71, ARE)

I enjoyed the alternating chapters and felt the story lines were neatly arranged. Perhaps the story is improbable, but the history behind the story is based in reality. Doing some research myself, I found Occupied France: Commemorating the Deportation which is a picture and text tutorial with more details about the Vel de Viv. Thank you again to Tatiana de Rosnay and St. Martin’s Press. This is a book I will loan to others and ask for it back so I can read it again.

TITLE: Sarah’s Key
AUTHOR: Tatiana de Rosnay
PAGES: 293
TYPE: fiction
RECOMMEND: I could not put this book down.


16 December 2008

Library Things

Today's Question: The LT Home Page feature. How are you liking it? Or not? Do you go here when you log into LT or do you use your profile page more?

I really do like the LT Home Page. When it was first released, I did not think I would like it and hopped straight to my profile. Now I spend more time on the Home Page checking recommendations, how many people are requesting Early Reviewer Books, reviews - you name it. Sometimes, I never even make it to my profile. It seems that LT just keeps getting better an better.

BB - I am sorry that you will not be continuing the weeky meme as you have really done an excellent job. I hope someone will take over the responsibility. I wish that I thought I could do it, but I am not sure I would know where to start or be creative enough with the questions. Thanks,

45. The Gates of Trevalyan

Thank you to Library Thing and Belle Books for the opportunity to read and review this book about the Civil War,

As a historian and a librarian, I thought that I would really love this book. In the beginning, as I was introduced to main characters Jenny Mobley, Emily Hill, and Charles King, I was still hopeful. In many ways this is the classic Gone With the Wind story with large Georgia plantations and all of the trappings of Southern culture and slavery.

Unfortunately, for me, the story, weak to begin with, got lost in the military and political history. I was able to finish the book only by skimming the long drawn out details. I will say that the history seemed to be well researched. So if you would like to know more about the Civil War era, espeicially in Georgia, you might like this book.

TITLE: The Gates of Trevalyan
AUTHOR: Jacquelyn Cook
PAGES: 365
TYPE: historical fiction
RECOMMEND: Only if you really like military and political history

09 December 2008

Tuesday Things

Most of us book bloggers like to write book reviews- if we don't love to write book reviews- but here's today's question. When it comes to LT (and your blog), do you review every book you read? Do you just review Early Reviewers or ARCs? Do you review only if you like a book, or only if you feel like you have to? How soon after reading do you post your review? Do you post them other places- other social networking sites, Amazon, etc.?

I love your first sentence, because I do like to write book reviews, but sometimes I certainly do not love to! I do reveiw almost every book I read. Because I am often reading four books at a time, one less than impressive book (that I may not even finish) may sleep through the cracks. On LT I usually post at least a portion of the review with a link to my blog for every book that I read. As for when things get posted, it depends on the time of the semester. If I am busy grading, I might take a break to read for relaxation, but not to write. While I try to review all books, I find it most difficult to review the books that I absolutely hate which are thankfully few, and sometimes against the mainstream. I have only posted one review on Amazon, and do not use any other venue. Time is always an issue for me.

My biggest problem with reviewing books is forgetting that ultimately I am writing the reviews mostly for myself and other book lovers. I often agonize over how much to tell about the plot, the characters, or literary style. I think it was Library school that did me in. We had to write reviews for children's books and the instructor's critiques were positively heartless. One would think the result would be better reviews, but sometimes I feel like I became more timid in my reviews. Another slight problem for me is that I find most books rather okay, a few I love, and a very few I cannot tolerate. So you may find that my reviews are mostly positive. I don't know if it is because I do not have discriminating tastes or because I read phone books when I was little!!! Either way, I just have to remember that reading is fun, sharing is fun, and the writing, well, just part of the process.

Happy Holidays,

04 December 2008

44. The Longest Trip Home

First, thank you to HarperCollins Publishers for the opportunity to read the Advance Reader’s Edition of John Grogan’s autobiography The Longest Trip Home. And while I wish I had read the book earlier, when it arrived and before the release, as John’s parents would have said, things happen for a reason.

John shares his memories of growing up in a devoutly Catholic family with three siblings and Mass every weekend. While I was raised Episcopal, I converted to Catholicism twenty years ago and tried to raise my own four children in the Church. Some are still there and some are not – with many of the same issues Grogan describes in his book coming into play as our family deals with the everyday struggles of living and loving one another. Through Grogan’s experiences, I have hope that my own children will forgive me my dogmatic adherence to some Catholic tenets that only a convert can extol as absolute truth. But faith is faith and can only help us through this life; can hopefully make us kinder and more rather than less accepting. At this point, I wonder if Mr. Grogan and I are not the same type of Catholics.

I don’t think I will give anything away to discuss another moment of wonder this book brought to my life. Grogan’s trip home took decades, but the final chapters dealing with the illness of his parents touched me. My own mother went through a very similar experience, and we thought – as did the doctor’s – that she was not going to live. We know that the time is coming soon when she will not continue here with us and I will be strengthened by the author’s words and insights. I would not have fully understood these chapters had I read this book any earlier.

Finally, I am so excited about the upcoming movie based on Grogan’s bestselling book Marley and Me. After reading The Longest Trip Home, I know that the script for the movie has certainly been pulled from the best of writing. And much to my surprise, my favorite actor (secretly known to my family as my boyfriend) plays Mr. Grogan. And while I cannot wait to read the book, I think I will wait and see the movie first - it opens nationally on Christmas Day. Delightfully I will know each family member in the movie because I feel like they are friends of the family from reading this newest book.

So, thank you Mr. Grogan – and once again your parents were right – things happen in their own time. I am very glad this was my time to read your wonderful family story. Your dad and mom are very proud.

TITLE: The Longest Trip Home
AUTHOR: John Grogan
PAGES: 331
TYPE: non-fiction, autobiography
RECOMMEND: As a Catholic, a daughter, and a mother, I am so thankful to have read this book. And to be honest, I think you will appreciate the struggles of the Grogan family even if you are none of those things.

43. Memories of Anne Frank: Reflections of a Childhood Friend

I have been to Amsterdam. I have walked from the center of town, along the canals, to visit the house where Anne Frank and her family hid. I walked through the small spaces and stood in front of Anne’s diary. It was a humbling and emotional moment. It brought the book Diary of a Young Girl to life; intensified the feelings I remembered from multiple readings of this classic Holocaust biography.

But Reflections of a Childhood Friend is more than the story of Anne Frank, it is the story of Hannah Goslar who was friends with Anne from age four until Anne died shortly after being reunited with Hannah in Bergen-Belsen. It was not until after the war that Hannah realized that Anne had not lived but had died shortly before the camp was liberated. I am grateful to Hannah for telling her story and for Alison Gold for recording it in a way that young people can read and appreciate.

Hannah’s story is equally compelling as she was separated from her family with only her younger sister to care for as they were “relocated” from Amsterdam to Westerbork to Bergen-Belsen. The courage of these women who were but young girls is inspiring and through Hannah’s memories, readers will gain a greater understanding of the hardships which were endured and the friendships which were held so close.

TITLE: Memories of Anne Frank: Reflections of a Childhood Friend
AUTHOR: Alison Leslie Gold
PAGES: 135
TYPE: non-fiction
RECOMMEND: I found this book, with photographs, to add to the Anne Frank story, as well as introducing me to another survivor.


25 November 2008

Library Things

I positively love widgets. I have the Random Books from My Library widget on my LibrarysCat Book List Blog. On my personal blog I have a postcrossing widget and a wonderfully fun Wordle. If you have never done one before, you should visit my blog and try it! It makes a word mosaic of sorts with the most common words from your blog.

I was fortunate to participate in a library program called 23 Things. We had to blog about it and while I no longer update it, there are some fun things linked there...photo mosaics, sandboxes, wikis, technorati, delicious, bubblr, and of all things::::LibraryThing! It is rather funny looking back at my first experience there! We basically learned about Web 2.0 applications and had to work with them from our own offices...it was great. Thanks to the PLAN folks for providing me with this opportunity.

Great question as always.


19 November 2008

42. The Butterfly

The Butterfly by Patricia Polacco tells the true story of the author’s aunt who lived in France during the Nazi occupation in World War II. In a very touching and light-handed manner, Polacco introduces the harshness of the Jewish Holocaust. Monique was a young girl during this period and finds that her mother has been hiding French Jews in their basement. She and a little girl her age discover one another and share their thoughts and dreams. When the family is on the verge of discovery, Monique’s mother assists in the family’s attempt to escape. The papillon, or butterfly, is a symbol of the freedom that should be standard for each person in the world as well as the violence that crushes that freedom. Although this story is not all happy endings, the subject of the Holocaust is introduced in manner that would be acceptable for younger children.

Polacco’s website provides a number of interactive activities and video clips of the real life people in this beautiful story. Another interesting idea to go along with this book would be The Butterfly Project of the Holocaust Museum of Houston. They are hoping to collect 1.5 million hand made butterflies by 2012 to represent the “innocent children who perished in the Holocaust”. Although it will be just two little butterflies, I am sending mine off to the museum and hope that you will as well. If you are an educator, please consider having your students do the same.

TITLE: The Butterfly
AUTHOR: Patricia Polacco
TYPE: non-fiction, historical
RECOMMEND: An excellent children's book for Holocaust education

18 November 2008

Tuesday Things

Boston Bibliophile, you always do such a wonderful job with our questions. Even when I do not have enough time to answer them, I make time to check out everyone else's answers. That only makes sense if you consider that it takes more effort to compose a message than it does to read one! Thank you again!

1. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
2. Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron
3. Nation by Terry Pratchett
4. Brisingr by Christopher Paolini
5. Anathem by Neal Stephenson
6. American Wife: A Novel by Curtis Sittenfeld
7. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
8. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel by David Wroblewski
9. Eclipse (The Twilight Saga, Book 3) by Stephenie Meyer
10. Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland

I loved American Wife and have linked to my review in the list above. I have started The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, it is my book club's December book, and while I am sure that I will like it, I am having to read it slowly in the beginning to get all of the people straight. The rest of the books, I am going to try to sort by desire to read!

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
The Graveyard Book
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel

Eclipse (The Twilight Saga, Book 3)
Any Given Doomsday

If any of you can convince me to move books either direction, I am up for recommendations! Happy Reading!


17 November 2008

41. Hana's Suitcase

Hana’s Suitcase is the story of one woman’s successful attempts to bring the Holocaust alive for Japanese children. It is also the story of Czech Jew Hana Brady and her brother George, who survived the Holocaust without knowing his sister’s final fate. Fumiko Ishioka, Director of the Tokyo Holocaust Education and Resource Center, wanted to have just one item from the Holocaust that Japanese children could touch and relate to – so they would really understand the harsh reality of the Holocaust. Fumiko was given Hana’s suitcase. On behalf of the Japanese children who visited the museum, Fumiko worked tirelessly to find out more about Hana. The book tells this story. It is a wonderful testament to the good people of this world who make a difference in the lives of children everywhere. And in some ways, Fumiko’s quest reunited George with the memory of his sister.

The story was first told by Paul Lungen in an article in the Canadian Jewish News. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Radio presented a documentary by the author, Karen Levine in January 2001. You can listen to it here. In addition, there are many remarkable links from this broadcast page. Another interesting development with this book is the production of a play: Holocaust story makes theatre debut, as it is reported in the Canadian Jewish News.

TITLE: Hana’s Suitcase
AUTHOR: Karen Levine
PAGES: 111
TYPE: non-fiction
AWARDS: 2002 Award for Older Readers, Association of Jewish Libraries Sydney Taylor Book Awards
RECOMMEND: A true story that has a big impact. I really loved this story.


30 October 2008

40. The Condition

I fell in love with this quirky New England family. The author took me to the home of any family, with all of the faults, limitations, love, expectations, disappointments and discontent found within the human condition. While the story centers on the family struggle with Paulette, who has Turner's Disease - a condition which causes a halt to normal physical maturity, each of the family members struggles with their own "conditions" which range from sexual choices, drugs, ADHD, fearfulness, and distrust. As the family gathers for one last time in their previously owned cottage on the shore, I found myself cheering for all of them - please take the time to explore and embrace your own conditions - accept one another. I was quite sad when I turned the last page and it was over.

One of my favortie passages ends like this:
That like a grave illness, adulthood had befallen all three of them. That fortuitously or not, their courses in life had been set, the only lives they were going to get. p. 312-313

This reminds me of what I always tell my four grown children: To be happy in this life, find something you love to do and then do it! It took me forty years to find something I loved to do and I am grateful to come to work every single day!

TITLE: The Condition
AUTHOR: Jennifer Haigh
PAGES: 320
TYPE: fiction,
RECOMMEND: I really loved this book.


39. All About Lulu

I read a review that said this title was misnamed because the book is really all about Will. In reality the book is all about Will's obsession with Lulu. With a delightful and diverse cast of characters, this is a book to fall in love with - from the beginning where we find Will stranded by the death of his mother leaving him with his champion body builder father and twin brothers who follow Dad's every path. When Dad remarries and brings Willow, a grief counselor, and her daughter Lulu to their home, Will begins to find himself with Lulu's help. He falls in love with Lulu and devotes every waking moment to documenting her every delightful and not so delightful activities. When Lulu turns away from Will, he is devestated. But as we know, life goes on. I fell in love with Will, his brothers, Willow and Lulu. I was left as confused as Will until the very end. Finally, there is redemption and sadness, and finally understanding.

TITLE: All About Lulu
AUTHOR: Jonathan Evison
PAGES: 320
TYPE: fiction, coming of age
RECOMMEND: I really enjoyed this quirky first novel.

28 October 2008

Tuesday Things

This week's question: Legacy libraries. With which legacy libraries do you share books? Tell us a little about a couple of them and what you share.

How much fun was this!! Thank you BB, as you always come up with good questions for us. Here is my list:

Marilyn Monroe - 1
  • Hawaii>

  • Alfred Deakin - 1
  • Pride and Prejudice

  • Carl Sandburg - 4
  • A Lantern in Her Hand

  • Pride and Prejudice

  • The Good Earth

  • My Antonia

  • Earnest Hemingway -2
  • Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

  • Pride and Prejudice

  • William Butler Yeats - 1
  • Pride and Prejudice

  • Sylvia Plath - 1
  • Cranford

  • Theodore Dreiser - 1
  • My Antonia

  • Walker Percy - 2
  • Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

  • Pride and Prejudice

  • Sir Walter Scott - 1
  • Emma

  • I found this wonderful because it brought to mind some of my very favorite books - the book most shared was Pride and Prejudice, and the book that I was most happy people had read was Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.

    For your second question, I will have to think about it. My mother has been in the hospital for the last three weeks and I am almost brain dead. She has been moved to a physical rehabilitation center, so things are looking up and I may get some sleep! I did get some reading done at the hospital so at least there was that! Thank you for keeping us thinking and sharing.


    13 October 2008

    38. A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life

    Often when I feel like reading has become a chore instead of a pleasure, I pick up a Young Adult novel and, somehow, I feel renewed and ready to read everything in sight. In this case, I was lucky to have a new list -- Association of Jewish Libraries Sydney Taylor Book Awards thanks to the Boston Bibliophile. So this was the first book from the list that I decided to read and it was a great choice.

    Simone Turner is a sixteen year old girl who is, for the most part, happy with her life. She loves her adoptive parents, rather likes her younger brother, has a crazy best friend, and is dealing with the normal teenage issues. [I loved Simone’s parents, who seemed like hippy activists.] Simone’s biggest problem is that she does not really want to meet her birth mother who has suddenly called and asked to meet her. With only slight pressure from her parents, Simone finally agrees and finds that her mother Rivka was raised in a Hasidic Jewish family and got pregnant when she was sixteen. Rivka was shunned by her family – finally deciding to give her baby to the Turners. Rivka introduces Simone to her brand of the Jewish faith which includes some of the loving rituals that bring her peace. In the beginning, Simone cannot understand this brand of faith as she professes to be an atheist. After a number of awkward family gatherings and a visit at Rivka’s home, Simone comes to understand that faith has the potential to sustain someone in the most difficult times and can be the only thing left to hold on to.

    TITLE: A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life
    AUTHOR: Dana Reinhardt
    COPYRIGHT: 2007
    PAGES: 256
    TYPE: fiction, young adult
    AWARDS: 2007 Honor Award for Teens, Association of Jewish Libraries Sydney Taylor Book Awards
    RECOMMEND: I loved it.


    03 October 2008

    Lovely contest, Many winners

    Devourer of Books is having a wonderful Giveaway in honor of her 100th book review - what an accomplishment and what a contest! The more people who enter, the more books she will give to the winners. You have until October 15th to enter.

    Tuesday Thingers (on Friday)

    For this week's Tuesday Thingers, I've copied the list of the most-challenged books of the 1990s straight from the ALA website. I've highlighted the ones I've read. Highlight what you've read, and italicize what you have in your LT library.

    Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
    Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite
    I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
    The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
    Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

    Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
    Forever by Judy Blume
    Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
    Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
    Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
    My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
    The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
    The Giver by Lois Lowry
    It's Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
    Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
    A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
    The Color Purple by Alice Walker
    Sex by Madonna
    Earth's Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
    The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
    A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

    Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
    Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
    In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
    The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
    The Witches by Roald Dahl
    The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
    Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
    The Goats by Brock Cole
    Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
    Blubber by Judy Blume
    Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
    Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
    We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
    Final Exit by Derek Humphry
    The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
    Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
    The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
    What's Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    Beloved by Toni Morrison

    The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
    The Pigman by Paul Zindel
    Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
    Deenie by Judy Blume
    Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
    Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
    The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
    Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
    A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

    Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
    Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
    Cujo by Stephen King
    James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
    The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
    Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
    Ordinary People by Judith Guest
    American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
    What's Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
    Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
    Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
    Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
    Fade by Robert Cormier
    Guess What? by Mem Fox
    The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
    The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
    Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
    Lord of the Flies by William Golding
    Native Son by Richard Wright
    Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women's Fantasies by Nancy Friday
    Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
    Jack by A.M. Homes
    Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
    Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
    Carrie by Stephen King
    Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
    On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
    Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
    Family Secrets by Norma Klein
    Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
    The Dead Zone by Stephen King
    The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
    Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
    Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
    Private Parts by Howard Stern
    Where's Waldo? by Martin Hanford
    Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
    Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
    Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

    Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
    Sex Education by Jenny Davis
    The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
    Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
    How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
    View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
    The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
    The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
    Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

    Well, I guess I better get busy - I would hate to miss all of the banned books!

    02 October 2008

    75 Books Every Woman Should Read

    Thanks to Jezebel for providing this list. I have read only 18 (in red), have heard of most of them, and should get busy. They also have a must read list for men.

    The Lottery (and Other Stories), Shirley Jackson
    To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
    The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton
    White Teeth, Zadie Smith
    The House of the Spirits, Isabel Allende
    Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Joan Didion
    Excellent Women, Barbara Pym
    The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
    Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys
    The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri
    Beloved, Toni Morrison

    Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
    Like Life, Lorrie Moore
    Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
    Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
    The Delta of Venus, Anais Nin
    A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley
    A Good Man Is Hard To Find (and Other Stories), Flannery O'Connor
    The Shipping News, E. Annie Proulx
    You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down, Alice Walker
    Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
    To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

    Fear of Flying, Erica Jong
    Earthly Paradise, Colette
    Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt
    Property, Valerie Martin
    Middlemarch, George Eliot
    Annie John, Jamaica Kincaid
    The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir
    Runaway, Alice Munro
    The Heart is A Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers
    The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston
    Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
    You Must Remember This, Joyce Carol Oates
    Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
    Bad Behavior, Mary Gaitskill
    The Liars' Club, Mary Karr
    I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
    A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, Betty Smith
    And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie
    Bastard out of Carolina, Dorothy Allison
    The Secret History, Donna Tartt
    The Little Disturbances of Man, Grace Paley
    The Portable Dorothy Parker, Dorothy Parker
    The Group, Mary McCarthy
    Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
    The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing
    The Diary of Anne Frank, Anne Frank
    Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
    Against Interpretation, Susan Sontag
    In the Time of the Butterflies, Julia Alvarez
    The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck
    Fun Home, Alison Bechdel
    Three Junes, Julia Glass
    A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollstonecraft
    Sophie's Choice, William Styron
    Valley of the Dolls, Jacqueline Susann
    Love in a Cold Climate, Nancy Mitford
    Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
    The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. LeGuin
    The Red Tent, Anita Diamant
    The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera
    The Face of War, Martha Gellhorn
    My Antonia, Willa Cather
    Love In The Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    The Harsh Voice, Rebecca West
    Spending, Mary Gordon
    The Lover, Marguerite Duras
    The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
    Tell Me a Riddle, Tillie Olsen
    Nightwood, Djuna Barnes
    Three Lives, Gertrude Stein
    Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
    I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
    Possession, A.S. Byatt

    16 September 2008

    Tuesday Things

    Today's Question: Have you ever added a quote to the quotation field in common knowledge? What's a quote you particularly like from a book, one that you know by heart?
    My favorite quote ever is from Alexander Pope Essay on Man:
    Hope springs eternal in the human breast,
    Man never is, but always to be blest. (30)
    My daughter was born in 1979, two weeks late. She had meconium aspiration and was on a ventilator for three days. When she was finally off the ventilator, we were so excited. The lead doctor came up and said to us "I have no idea what you are so excited about - your daughter - if she lives - will either be severely retarded, completely crippled, or a vegetable." First, my ex-husband nearly decked him. Then I broke down. The intern who had been working with us came up to us and said - never, ever give up hope. He was my hero and I hoped that when his practice got huge and crazy that he would never forget those words. **My daughter graduated from college last December and is doing well...neither retarded or crippled. But the real issue is that we would have loved her no matter what!
    Back to the question - I have never put a quote in the common knowledge field. For whatever reason, I don't participate fully in the things that LibraryThing has to offer. I also loved many of the quotes in The Things They Carried and would consider adding some of those to LibraryThing.
    As always, excellent question. Thanks.
    Flusi the LibrarysCat

    09 September 2008

    Tuesday Things

    Today's question: Awards. Do you follow any particular book awards? Do you ever choose books based on awards? What award-winning books do you have? (Off the top of your head only- no need to look this up- it would take all day!) What's your favorite award-winning book?

    I do follow the awards. Of course, the main ones that we order each year are the Newbery, Caldecott, and Coretta Scott King Awards. Our staff always fight to see who will get to read them first. (I loved this year's selections and have reviewed them here and here.) I also check the ALA website for other award winning books as they are announced. As an avid list lover, nothing makes me happier than a list of (what should be) excellent books. I agree with you about thinking how many award books I have would take all day. And I give away many of my books due to space limitations...only keeping those that hold a special place in my heart.

    BTW, thank you for the link to the Sydney Taylor Book Award site. With my passion for all things related to the Holocaust, I cannot believe I did not know about this one. I have read many, many of the books awarded and will use this list to make sure our coverage here in the library is good.

    I have a question for all of you: I am having a problem with reading - never thought I would write that - my problem is that I have ARC books that I should read first, but am not drawn into them, so then I feel guilty when I read other books. Any suggestions??


    02 September 2008

    Tuesday Things

    Today's question: Members who have your books. Do you ever look at this feature? Do you use it to make LT friends, or compare notes? There are three tabs- weighted, raw, and recent. "Weighted," which means "weighted by book obscurity and library size" is probably the least self-explanatory of the three, whereas "raw" and "recent" are more so. Do you get any kind of use out of this feature?

    I have looked at this feature many times and love seeing what other books these members have. I love lists and this is a great way to make a list of books I too might like to read. I also like to read other people's reviews. Great food for thought. Of course, since we have this blog ring set up, I love to read all of your reviews. Especially for the books I have read!

    24 August 2008

    37. Confessions of a Contractor

    Thank you to G. P. Putnam’s Sons for the opportunity to read and review this funny book which mixes home renovation with sexual opportunities, both taken and refused. And before I read the author, Richard Murphy’s bio, I knew that he had renovated a house or two. While I have never wrangled with $20,000 decisions, I have made decisions that ruined my budget and I was generally pleased that I had. And I would have shot my last (or maybe any) contractor before he touched me, much less slept with me.

    So add one contractor, two illegal immigrants, two women, one angry husband, an ex-girlfriend, and a slew of well-meaning, for good or bad, friends – you have a Los Angeles contractor’s best nightmare. Henry Sullivan tries to manage all of the above, while completing intricate and chaotic renovations in the two women’s homes. He has a host of entertaining old friends and meets some rather interesting new friends. While most of the relationships have sexual overtones, they are all very amusing. Henry narrates his way through one summer – one that was supposed to be a vacation. Falling in love with two women was not what he had planned. Especially since one is married.

    I enjoyed the narrator, Henry, and loved his friends. I was happy to see that CBS is picking up the book for an hour long pilot drama. Check out the book's webpage!

    TITLE: Confessions of a Contractor
    AUTHOR: Richard Murphy
    COPYRIGHT: 2008
    PAGES: 273
    TYPE: fiction
    RECOMMEND: I loved it.

    36. Snail Mail, No More

    I thought that Martin and Danziger had a great premise on this book for children ages nine through twelve. Unfortunately, at times, the technology and the changing nature of the two correspondents, get lost in the other issues which are being added to the key story. Tara and Elizabeth were best friends when Tara moved away. After corresponding via snail mail, the two girls get email and eventually chat. Their correspondence via snail mail is chronicled in P. S. Longer Letter Later also by Martin and Danziger. This book was good enough that I will probably try to find the earlier story to complete the series.

    The girls’ lives are changing rapidly and they are both making new friends. Even with email, it is hard for the girls to maintain their friendship without jealousy or anger. There are plenty of opportunities for the girls to support one another – a baby is born, someone dies, divorce, and illness – all of these things happen. Perhaps the strength of the book is how the girls do manage to handle their changing lives and relationship.

    TITLE: Snail Mail, No More
    AUTHOR: Ann Martin & Paula Danziger
    COPYRIGHT: 2001
    PAGES: 320
    TYPE: fiction, Ages 9 - 12
    RECOMMEND: I am a little on the fence on this one! Worth the read.


    18 August 2008

    Tuesday Thingers

    Today's question: LT and RL (real life)- do you have friends in real life that you met through LibraryThing? Have you attended any LT meet-ups in your area? Would you be open to attending meet-ups or is LT strictly an online thing for you?

    For me, there is not too much of an overlap in LT and RL. In fact, there is only one other person I know besides my daughter who has an active account on LT. That amazes me!! WHY?? I love all things books, love all things which make up nerdery - this is my husband's word for all the blogging and posting and cataloging that I do, for the most part related to LT.

    I would love to attend a meet-up in my area. Thinking about location, I wonder where in the world such a meet-up would be - New Orleans, Atlanta, Tallahassee? All within driving distance, but might require an overnight stay. Sounding better and better.

    What is funny about this question, is that when I talk to my daughter and three sons, I refer to people whose blogs I have read for five years as my friends. And I will never really meet them. They think that is so funny. To tie this in with LT, I got a postcard last week and my daughter asked me who it was from and I said, "Oh a friend from LT" - you know who you are! Thank you very much. I loved it. So here's to new friends and happy reading!


    17 August 2008

    35. One More Year

    While I do not normally read short stories, I found One More Year by Sana Krasikov intriguing simply because of the topic and the multicultural aspects of the stories. Krasikov was born in the Ukraine and grew up in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. Certainly with the problems in that area of the world, my heart goes out to the author and I hope that any family members she may still have in Georgia are safe. An instructor I know was visiting family in Georgia when the fighting broke out and, while terrified, hopes to return home to his wife and child as soon as possible. Merely thinking about this situation leads one to consider the immigrants who are central to this collection of short stories and who have half of their hearts in two countries.

    Krasikov provides us with eight short stories – with each story dealing with a character that has left one place for another, hoping for a better life for themselves or someone they love or even, perhaps, to escape a life they can no longer bear. The courage of change – to leave what is impossible for what is possible. Hope for a different place with a different result. Unfortunately, the hope is often greater than what is possible and the character is faced with even greater obstacles. Choices are somewhat limited. Still, many of the characters held on to hope in spite of the difficulties.

    An excellent interview with the author can be read at Three Guys One Book. She has a great deal of maturity for a newly published author and I look forward to her first novel. I must admit that I liked the cover on the ARC better than the current cover.

    I love it!!!!

    TITLE: One More Year
    AUTHOR: Sana Krasikov
    COPYRIGHT: August 12, 2008
    PAGES: 196
    TYPE: fiction, short stories
    RECOMMEND: I enjoyed the stories and hoped to see beyond the end.


    34. American Wife

    Thank you to Random House for the opportunity to read and review this delightfully wicked book loosely based on the life of Laura Bush! I am not sure what you have planned for September 2nd, but I would get in line at your local bookstore to buy this book. Or you can beat the crowds and pre-order online from Amazon.

    Author Curtis Sittenfeld, who also wrote Prep: A Novel and The Man of My Dreams: A Novel, has caused quite a stir with her latest novel, American Wife: A Novel. In case you have not heard the buzz, her novel follows the life of Alice Blackwell. Alice grows up in small-town Wisconsin with a life often filled with confusion, some level of privilege, and a tragedy that overshadows the rest of her life. Even without the advance press, the reader realizes very quickly that Alice = Laura. After college, Alice works as a librarian (beginning to catch on?). She meets and marries Charlie Blackwell, who continues to push ahead politically even as his wife begs him to stop. A wicked description of the sex life of the soon-to-be-president was hysterical! Even so, it seems a bit sad that Alice, who is our narrator, seems to only watch as life happens to her. She is often not an active participant. There is a bit of a surprise at the end, when finally she sorts through the difficulties of private and public life to make a statement of her own!

    Sittenfeld adds in just enough current events, like 9-11 and the war, to give credence to this delightful work of fiction. The story of Alice’s grandmother sent me straight to Google, but I could not confirm! Alice’s car accident in high school which tragically killed a classmate did actually happen to Laura Bush, but I suppose we will never know if the details are at all similar.

    If the reader is seeking an autobiography of the First Lady, this might not be the best place to start. However, the writing is concise and the stories are intriguing. I thought perhaps 500 pages would be tiring, but it was slow only a bit in the middle. Another thing that has me wondering is why people are so upset about the book – if it is fiction, then get over it and enjoy the ride. If the author touches too close to home, so sorry.

    I love it!!!!

    TITLE: American Wife: A Novel
    AUTHOR: Curtis Sittenfeld
    COPYRIGHT: September 2, 2008
    PAGES: 551
    TYPE: fiction
    RECOMMEND: Delicious.


    07 August 2008

    33. Tan Lines

    After reading the first line of J. J. Salem’s novel, Tan Lines,

    There are eight thousand nerve endings in the clitoris, and this son of a bitch couldn’t find any of them. p. 3

    I knew that the book might not be the pick-of-the-month for the church book club. Even so, if you can get past the sex, drugs, rock and roll, and often funnily foul language – this is a fantastic book.

    Reading Tan Lines reminds me of a few things. First, if you are from the Northwest Florida area, the Pensacola Beach regulars are lovingly called “beach trash” which implies in all its Southerness that these folks are often socially flawed but endearing and loved none the less! This description might be used to describe many of the characters found in the novel. Second, upon reflection, Tan Lines reminded me of an updated Valley of the Dolls, published in the 1960s. In this Jacqueline Susann novel sex, drugs, name-dropping, and social climbing were the downfall of key characters.

    So who are the primary characters in Tan Lines?

    Lisa Pike – self-described “twenty-first-century fashionista feminist” p. 21 Lisa is a public persona with a personal life collapsing all around her.

    Kellyanne Downey – an actress wannabe who has found herself as the kept mistress of a much older man with few acting prospects in her future.

    Billie Shelton – an indie rock star whose star is quickly fading.

    In spite of life choices which have lessened their connectedness, the three friends try to get together each summer and this summer it is in the Hamptons where they will mingle with the rich and famous. Unfortunately their choices this summer lead to betrayal, hurt, and even murder.

    This book was delicious. My favorite thing was the author’s inclusion of many contemporary people and comments – from bands to name-dropping to current events. My favorite quote – talking about the glut of reality TV shows (which I must admit to watching) is “It doesn’t matter how fake things are. Haven’t you heard? Reality is the new substitute for truth.” p. 90

    Once you get into the story of the summer in the Hamptons, it is easy to overlook language that might be offensive to some but may be used to set the tone for the book. I would advise you to at least give it a try. It might just turn out to be one of your “guilty pleasures” as suggested on the book cover. For a male author, J. J. Salem might have gotten these three strong females just right!

    TITLE: Tan Lines
    AUTHOR: J. J. Salem
    COPYRIGHT: 2008
    PAGES: 306
    TYPE: Fiction
    RECOMMEND: I could not put this book down.

    05 August 2008

    Tuesday Things

    Today's question is only marginally about LibraryThing but I thought it might be a fun question anyway. It's more about blogging. Everyone who participates in Tuesday Thingers has a blog- some have a book blog, some have several, some have blogs that are more personal, etc.- and we've all chosen to participate in this particular way of networking to build traffic, get to know each other, etc. So my question is: what other weekly memes or round robins do you participate in? Is this the only one? Why Tuesday Thingers and not some other weekly Tuesday meme? Or do you do more than one?

    So far this is the only weekly meme that I participate in. However, I enjoy it very much so I have been thinking of joining others. Thank you for providing a good link to get started. It is always fun to read what others have to say and I always try to comment on quite a few each week. We all know how wonderful it is to come back to your blog and see notes from new friends. And, I agree that it must be difficult to think up a new question each week. But maybe you could move to questions about reading in general which is of course related to Library Thing in a most intimate way! This is a great group and I am glad that this was my introduction to memes.

    04 August 2008

    2008 Update

    I made a personal challenge to read 52 books in 2008 – or at least one book per week. Half the year is gone and I have read 30 books, and 8443 pages. Of these books, only six were non-fiction. A few fell into the historical fiction genre as well. Most importantly, six of the books were Advanced Reader Copies for which I am grateful. 66% of the authors were female. Many were award winners! So far it has been a great year of reading.

    In the 1% Reading Challenge, I have completed only 2 of 10 books. I guess I need to get going on that list.

    To make it even better, it is wonderful to share with all of the people in the Tuesday Things book ring. So many recommendations that I think I will make my goal this year. Thanks to all of the publisher's who are willing to take a chance on a librarian blogger!

    32. So Long at the Fair

    Thank you to Doubleday for the opportunity to read and review this galley of So Long at the Fair.

    Author Christina Schwarz, who also wrote Drowning Ruth, tells the story of a marriage and an affair. Jon and Ginny struggle with the minutiae of their relationship, while each of them also struggles with the past which has shaped their future. Two things make their lives even more difficult – Ginny is trying to get pregnant and Jon is having an affair with a co-worker. While this might be enough drama for some, the author tells us another story. It is the story of Jon and Ginny’s parents – told in alternating chapters of the book. Does the past dictate the future? Is the marriage on the brink of disaster?

    To be honest, I found this book a little confusing. Even so, I enjoyed it. And I liked it enough to read it again with a who’s who chart! Why? Because the emotion and struggles are so well developed by Schwarz that the novel is worth a second read for full understanding. The characters are likeable and the suspense builds to a satisfying conclusion.

    Here is a short excerpt from the book from USA Today. Or here at the Random House author/book page.

    TITLE: So Long at the Fair
    AUTHOR: Christina Schwarz
    COPYRIGHT: 2008
    PAGES: 244
    TYPE: fiction
    RECOMMEND: Um, very good, but make a family tree.

    31 July 2008

    31. Miracles on Maple Hill

    Miracles on Maple Hill, by Virginia Sorensen, was selected as the Newbery Award winner in 1957. While some of the older Newbery winners seem to be outdated in today’s world, this book is filled with relevant historical and emotional topics.

    As I read the book, I was struck by the imagery and sense of place which was strongly developed by Sorensen. I have never been to visit the northern United States, but I feel like I have been there – visited four times in a year and caught a glimpse of each season.

    The story revolves around a family. The father has returned from the war (which is unnamed) and is having difficulty returning to the civilian life. How appropriate is that in the lives of children today? The mother and two children are concerned about the father and wish that he would return to his old self. To help with this process, the family visits the grandmother’s old place in rural Pennsylvania – a place called Maple Hill, where miracles happen!

    The story is told from the perspective of the daughter, Marly, who immediately falls in love with the mountain and the wonder of the rural life. The father stays on fulltime at Maple Hill, while the family visits every weekend. The strength of the novel is the descriptions of the flora and fauna in the area and especially the gathering and processing of the maple syrup.

    Other reviewers have talked at length about this spirit of the place, and I invite you to read them here!

    TITLE: Miracles on Maple Hill
    AUTHOR: Virginia Sorensen
    COPYRIGHT: 1956
    PAGES: 180
    TYPE: fiction, Newbery Award Wimmer
    RECOMMEND: I loved this book.


    30. A Time for Dancing

    A Time for Dancing, by Davida Wills Hurwin, was selected as an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and I couldn’t agree more with the ALA decision. Ballet is center stage for high school friends Julie and Samantha. They met in ballet class and have been best friends ever since. Until everything changes – changes due to cancer.

    The book is written with a style that complements the content – every other chapter is told from the perspective of one of the two friends. In the beginning, it seems to be the “normal” high school story – who likes who? Who broke up with whom? What is going on this weekend? However, very quickly Jules finds out that she has an aggressive cancer. And even though she and Sam have leaned on each other for years, Jules finds that this is something she must fight alone. The chemo has devastating effects – tired, nauseous, no hair, etc. She seeks an alternate treatment, which caused me a little bit of concern at first, but the author made sure that this was only a temporary pause in approved treatment. I am a two time cancer survivor and do not regret one day of chemo – of course, I realize that my situation was much different. And of course, as the author points out, dealing with cancer is very personal and solitary.

    The book touches on religion and spirituality and has many moving scenes between the girls as well as between the individual girls and their families. This would be a good book to use with high schoolers for a discussion of a number of topics. There is also a film version of the book – view information here!

    TITLE: A Time for Dancing
    AUTHOR: Davida Wills Hurwin
    COPYRIGHT: 1995
    PAGES: 257
    TYPE: fiction, young adult
    RECOMMEND: In the end, I really liked this book.

    29 July 2008

    Huge and wonderful contest

    WOW! And I almost missed it. And you will too unless you hurry. I have been at Bookshipper's blog for the last hour - the reviews are that good.

    And so is this contest - but it ends on July 31st. So hurry over to the visit Bookshipper, sign up for the contest and then stay a while and read a few reviews.


    Tuesday Things

    Today’s question: Cataloging sources. What cataloging sources do you use most? Any particular reason? Any idiosyncratic choices, or foreign sources, or sources you like better than others? Are you able to find most things through LT’s almost 700 sources?

    I had to think about this one for a minute. I almost always go with the default, which is Amazon. Not usually disappointed. But of course, there is a reason for this. I have been too busy (lazy?) to enter all of the books that I have here at the house. I have quite a few esoteric works about Eastern Europe and I wonder if I will have to go to LOC (or original cataloging) to input those books, should I ever get up the energy. One question I have is whether any of you have the barcode scanner they are always talking about?? That might make life a little easier, not sure! If anyone uses one, please tell me how it works for you.

    Have a good reading week!


    27 July 2008


    Click the image to enlarge!

    Absolutely too much fun! The possibilities are endless at Wordle.


    26 July 2008

    29. The Things They Carried

    When I look at the list of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, I often wonder why some books are included. I suppose some books are included because there is a person for every book, right? Well, in the case of The Things They Carried – it is more that there is “A” book for EVERY person. This book provides insights into the Viet Nam conflict that I have never encountered in four decades of reading. As a Baby Boomer who grew up in the shadows of the Kennedy assassination and the Viet Nam conflict, I knew these people. I knew boys who went to Viet Nam. I knew boys who did not return. I knew boys who returned, but never came home. I knew the people in Tim O’Brien’s novel. And it was sad to remember them. Still, it was beautiful to remember them through Tim O’Brien’s memories. It was hard; it was easy. This book was an experience I am grateful for having. Although I suppose it is possible that there are other opinions, I cannot imagine it.

    O’Brien repeats the words the things they carried many times in the novel. It is this repetitiveness that helps us understand what the men carried and why. For example:

    The things they carried:
    Were largely determined by necessity
    Was partly a function of rank, partly of field specialty
    Varied by mission
    Were determined to some extent by superstition
    USO stationery and pencils and pens
    Themselves with poise, a kind of dignity
    All the emotional baggage of men who might die
    Shameful memories
    And the list continues

    While telling the stories of the men who served together in Viet Nam, O’Brien tells us about the value of stories – be they real or imagined:
    Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story. (p. 40)

    By telling stories, you objectify your own experience. You separate it from yourself. You pin down certain truths. You make up others. You start sometimes with an incident that truly happened, like the night in the shit field, and you carry it forward by inventing incidents that did not in fact occur but that nonetheless help to clarify and explain. (pp. 179-180)

    Finally, O’Brien leaves the reader to think about war and the harsh consequences. He reminds us that when a man died, there had to be blame. Who gets the blame? The idiots who made the war. The rain, the river, the mortar rounds, people who were too lazy to read a newspaper, who were bored by the daily body counts, who switched channels at the mention of politics. Blame whole nations, blame God. Blame an old man in Omaha who forgot to vote. Ultimately – the causes were immediate. A moment of carelessness or bad judgment or plain stupidity carried consequences that lasted forever. (pp. 198-199 – words have been edited out by me, but the meaning is not changed).

    This book made me think. Do we belong in Iraq? Are we immune to the body counts? Unless they are our own? Did we ever belong in Iraq? If we did, how do we get out? If we didn’t, how do we get out? How do we best honor those who have given their lives? What did they carry?

    If I never read another book on the list of 1001, I am thankful for the list because it led me to this book. I love you Uncle Rick and I am sorry for all the things that you are still carrying.

    TITLE: The Things They Carried
    AUTHOR: Tim O’Brien
    COPYRIGHT: 1990
    PAGES: 273
    TYPE: Fiction
    RECOMMEND: Yes, one of the best books I have ever read.


    20 July 2008

    28. The Heretic's Daughter

    If you love reading historical fiction and have an interest in the Salem Witch Trials, you will likely enjoy The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent. This is the author’s first novel and will be released September 3, 2008 by Hachette Book Group.

    What makes this book even more enticing to read is that the author is a tenth-generation descendant of Martha Carrier, who is at the center of her novel.

    The story begins in the cold Massachusetts winter of 1690 with Martha and Thomas Carrier, as well as their children, moving to Andover to live with their parents. Their economic situation forced them to leave their home. The story is told from the perspective of young Sarah who only sees her grandmother for a brief time before she is sent away to protect her from smallpox. Sarah lives with her aunt and uncle and cousin where she finds the lightheartedness and joy that seems to be missing with her own family. When forced to return to her own home, Sarah’s disgruntlement with her mother grows and the two struggle for some way to connect. Both Martha and Sarah are somewhat stubborn and willful. Between the troubles in the village, troubles with relatives, and the witch trials which were beginning in Salem, the family struggles. When Martha Carrier is accused of being a witch, the family learns the power of their love.

    The best part of the book starts when the actual trial begins. The amount of available research for this half of the book lends an authenticity to the story, which seems bogged down with heavy metaphors and over-detailed snippets in the first half of the book. Even so, the telling of the family story prior to the witch hunts may be necessary to understand the final chapters. Perhaps more succinct descriptions without as many metaphors would serve to strengthen the first few chapters.

    Many of the details found in the story are confirmed at a number of websites, including this one. Or from this biography. It was the adherence to this historical occurrence that made the book a good read. After I got to the trial, I could not put the book down, equally sad and horrified. Because of these emotions, I would encourage interested readers to give this book a chance. I am grateful to Hachette Book Group for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this interesting and entertaining book by new author Kathleen Kent.

    TITLE: The Heretic's Daughter
    AUTHOR: Kathleen Kent
    COPYRIGHT: ARC copy, to be published in September 2008
    PAGES: 332
    TYPE: Historical fiction
    RECOMMEND: After the first half, I really enjoyed this book. The strength of the writing improved as the content moved to the trials.


    15 July 2008

    Tuesday Thingers

    Today's topic: Book-swapping. Do you do it? What site(s) do you use? How did you find out about them? What do you think of them? Do you use LT's book-swapping column feature for information on what to swap? Do you participate in any of the LT communities that discuss bookswapping, like the Bookmooch group for example?

    I have never joined in any of the bookswapping groups. I am not sure why because Lord knows I have tons of books that I have read and probably will never read again. But I do visit and trade at the Book Worm - a locally owned used book seller! The owner is wonderful.

    14 July 2008

    27. A Gathering of Days

    A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl's Journal, 1830-32 by Joan W. Blos won the Newbery Medal in 1980. As you might guess, the book is written in the form of a diary which was kept by thirteen year old Catherine Hall who tells about her life in rural New Hampshire in the early 19th century.

    I liked the opening of the book which was a letter from Catherine to her great-granddaughter who was turning fourteen. She writes, "Once I might have wished for that: never to grow old. But now I know that to stay young always is also not to change. And that is what life's all about - changes going on every minute, and you never know when something begins where it's going to take you. So one thing I want to say about life is don't be scared and don't hang back, and most of all, don't waste it."

    The beauty of this small book is in the descriptions, both of the physical places and the emotions of the young girl who loses her mother and her best friend to fevers. Until her father remarries, she must take care of her younger sister. Young children (we have it with a recommended reading level of grades 4-8) might appreciate Catherine's emotions as her new "mother" moves in with them and brings many changes to their home!

    In addition to winning the Newbery Medal, this book also won the American Book Award (Children's Fiction) in 1980.

    TITLE: A Gathering of Days
    AUTHOR: Joan W. Blos
    COPYRIGHT: 1979
    PAGES: 144
    TYPE: Fiction
    RECOMMEND: I really liked this book and would recommend it to children who are interested in New England history or how young people lived in the past.


    26. Ruby Holler

    Ruby Holler, by Sharon Creech, is ultimately a story about love and family. The story centers around thirteen year old twins, Dallas and Florida. They grew up at the Boxton Creek Home for Children as they were orphaned shortly after they were born. Unfortunately, Boxton Creek Home for Children is not a nice place to grow up as the owners are only interested in one thing - their profits. Because Dallas and Florida have been there so long, they know all of the rules and break most of them. The owners refer to the twins as the "trouble twins." Although they have been to a number of foster homes, they always gget sent back to the Home. Their luck changes when Tiller and Sairy, a much older couple with grown children, asks the Home if they can have the twins stay with them in Ruby Holler as they need some help preparing for a trip. Suspicious, the twins do not understand why they are NOT always in trouble. Their lives turn into a wonderful adventure in Ruby Holler and they solve a mystery that puts an end to the Boxton Creek Home for Children. They learn that parenting does not have to be cruel and that family is forever.

    Ruby Holler won the Carnegie Award for Children's Literature in 2002.

    From the author's website:
    About six years ago I received a letter from my aunt in which she related a story about my father when he was young. She ended the story with "and that was when we lived in the holler." Holler? I hadn't known about the holler and was intrigued by the notion of my father and his many siblings and parents living in this place. I began to imagine the place, and as I did so, I knew it would be a great setting for a story, but it was several years before I began to see who the characters might be who would live in this holler. I think that the older couple, Tiller and Sairy, evolved because I was thinking of my grandparents living in a holler, and this couple resembles my grandparents in some ways. The children, Dallas and Florida, probably came to life because I'd been thinking of my father as a mischievous child (that was evident in the original story my aunt told) and his equally-mischievous siblings. After I'd begun the story, I saw a real photo of my grandparents' house in the holler. The house was but a tiny shack, rather decrepit looking, and the holler wasn't as enchanting as the one I imagined. I'm glad I didn't see the photo before I began the story!

    TITLE: Ruby Holler
    AUTHOR: Sharon Creech
    COPYRIGHT: 2002
    PAGES: 310
    TYPE: Fiction
    RECOMMEND: While I liked this book, I did not love it. Still I think it might offer some interesting lessons for young children

    08 July 2008

    Contest alert!

    In the Shadow of Mt. TBR has a great contest on her blog. Check it out!

    Tuesday Thingers

    Tuesday Thingers
    Since we're past the Fourth of July and the summer season has officially started, what are your plans for the summer? Vacations, trips? Trips that involve reading? Reading plans? If you're going somewhere, do you do any reading to prepare? Do you read local literature as part of your trip? Have you thought about using the LT Local feature to help plan your book-buying?

    First, I am not sure what it has been like where you guys live, but it has been summer for quite some time here in Northwest Florida. I mean, it has been HOT! As for vacations or plans for the summer, I am going to go to Andover, Greece, Miami, the Hamptons, and a few other choice places. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your point of view) I do not have to spend any money at all - because these places are all in books - FREE books that I am so happy to read and review. I guess another good thing about not going anywhere is that I better be getting busy reading, because I need to be reviewing these as well. I have started two of them, but I am so busy grading at this point in the semester that I don't have a lot of free time. As for the why no vacation - we only have two staff members in my small library and it is really hard for either of us to take off for a whole week. In fact, the university is closed the week of Christmas until January 2nd and we get to be off without taking leave, so my boss asked that our small library be closed from the last day of the semester. So we are off for about three weeks. It is so wonderful that it is almost worth no summer vacation.


    03 July 2008

    25: Lincoln: A Photobiography

    The 1988 Newbery winner Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman is an excellent and informative book about the life of our 16th president. What makes this book amazing is not only the pictures, but the writings of Lincoln which are provided and the small details of his life which perhaps are not as well known.

    One amusing detail of his writing is from his home-made arithmetic book. In his own writing, Lincoln says:

    "Abraham Lincoln
    his hand and pen
    he will be good but
    god knows when"
    (p. 13)

    Freedman provides many stories about Lincoln's childhood and family. The details of the day Lincoln was killed are very touching. The war was over and Lincoln and his wife, Mary, were trying to come to terms with the death of their second child. During a carriage ride early in the day, Lincoln told Mary, "We must both be more cheerful in the future. Between the war and the loss of our darling Willie, we have been very miserable." (p. 121)

    TITLE: Lincoln: A Photobiography
    AUTHOR: Russell Freedman
    COPYRIGHT: 1987
    PAGES: 150
    TYPE: non-fiction
    RECOMMEND: Recommend for grades 4-8

    01 July 2008

    Tuesday Thingers

    Here is the Top 100 Most Popular Books on LibraryThing. Bold what you own, italicize what you've read. Star what you liked. Star multiple times what you loved!

    I hope all the American participants have a great Fourth of July weekend!

    1. Harry Potter and the sorcerer's stone by J.K. Rowling (32,484)
    2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6) by J.K. Rowling (29,939)
    3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Book 5) by J.K. Rowling (28,728)
    4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Book 2) by J.K. Rowling (27,926)
    5. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Book 3) by J.K. Rowling (27,643)
    6. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Book 4) by J.K. Rowling (27,641)
    7. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (23,266) **
    8. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (21,325) ****
    9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) by J.K. Rowling (20,485)
    10. 1984 by George Orwell (19,735) ****
    11. Pride and Prejudice (Bantam Classics) by Jane Austen (19,583) *****
    12. The catcher in the rye by J.D. Salinger (19,082)
    13. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (17,586) **
    14. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (16,210)
    15. The lord of the rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (15,483)
    16. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (14,566) ****
    17. Jane Eyre (Penguin Classics) by Charlotte Bronte (14,449)
    18. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (13,946) ***
    19. Life of Pi by Yann Martel (13,272)
    20. Animal Farm by George Orwell (13,091) *
    21. Angels & demons by Dan Brown (13,089)
    22. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (13,005) ***
    23. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (12,777)
    24. One Hundred Years of Solitude (Oprah's Book Club) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (12,634) **
    25. The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, Part 1) by J.R.R. Tolkien (12,276)
    26. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (12,147) *
    27. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (11,976) **
    28. The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings, Part 2) by J.R.R. Tolkien (11,512)
    29. The Odyssey by Homer (11,483)
    30. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (11,392) ***
    31. Slaughterhouse-five by Kurt Vonnegut (11,360)
    32. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (11,257)
    33. The return of the king : being the third part of The lord of the rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (11,082)
    34. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (10,979)
    35. American Gods: A Novel by Neil Gaiman (10,823)
    36. The chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (10,603)
    37. The hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy by Douglas Adams (10,537)
    38. Lord of the Flies by William Golding (10,435)
    39. The lovely bones : a novel by Alice Sebold (10,125) ***
    40. Ender's Game (Ender, Book 1) by Orson Scott Card (10,092)
    41. The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Book 1) by Philip Pullman (9,827)
    42. Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman (9,745)
    43. Dune by Frank Herbert (9,671)
    44. Emma by Jane Austen (9,610) *****
    45. Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (9,598) ***
    46. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Bantam Classics) by Mark Twain (9,593)
    47. Anna Karenina (Oprah's Book Club) by Leo Tolstoy (9,433)
    48. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (9,413)
    49. Middlesex: A Novel by Jeffrey Eugenides (9,343) ***
    50. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire (9,336)
    51. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (9,274)
    52. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien (9,246)
    53. The Iliad by Homer (9,153)
    54. The Stranger by Albert Camus (9,084)
    55. Sense and Sensibility (Penguin Classics) by Jane Austen (9,080) *****
    56. Great Expectations (Penguin Classics) by Charles Dickens (9,027) ***
    57. The Handmaid's Tale: A Novel by Margaret Atwood (8,960) **
    58. On the Road by Jack Kerouac (8,904)
    59. Freakonomics [Revised and Expanded]: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt (8,813)
    60. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery - (8,764)
    61. The lion, the witch and the wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (8,421)
    62. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (8,417)
    63. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (8,368)
    64. The Grapes of Wrath (Centennial Edition) by John Steinbeck (8,255)
    65. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (8,214) ***
    66. The Name of the Rose: including Postscript to the Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (8,191)
    67. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (8,169)
    68. Moby Dick by Herman Melville (8,129)
    69. The complete works by William Shakespeare (8,096)
    70. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond (7,843)
    71. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (7,834)
    72. The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel (Perennial Classics) by Barbara Kingsolver (7,829)
    73. Hamlet (Folger Shakespeare Library) by William Shakespeare (7,808)
    74. Of Mice and Men (Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century) by John Steinbeck (7,807) ****
    75. A Tale of Two Cities (Penguin Classics) by Charles Dickens (7,793)
    76. The Alchemist (Plus) by Paulo Coelho (7,710)
    77. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (7,648)
    78. The Picture of Dorian Gray (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) (Barnes & Noble Classics) by Oscar Wilde (7,598)
    79. The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition by William Strunk (7,569) ***
    80. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (7,557) ***
    81. The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Book 2) by Philip Pullman (7,534)
    82. Atonement: A Novel by Ian McEwan (7,530) ***
    83. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (7,512)
    84. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (7,436)
    85. Dracula by Bram Stoker (7,238) ****
    86. Heart of Darkness (Dover Thrift Editions) by Joseph Conrad (7,153)
    87. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (7,055)
    88. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (7,052)
    89. The amber spyglass by Philip Pullman (7,043)
    90. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Penguin Classics) by James Joyce (6,933)
    91. The Unbearable Lightness of Being: A Novel (Perennial Classics) by Milan Kundera (6,901) ****
    92. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (6,899)
    93. Neuromancer by William Gibson (6,890)
    94. The Canterbury Tales (Penguin Classics) by Geoffrey Chaucer (6,868)
    95. Persuasion (Penguin Classics) by Jane Austen (6,862)
    96. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (6,841)
    97. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (6,794)
    98. Angela's Ashes: A Memoir by Frank McCourt (6,715) *
    99. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers (6,708)
    100. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli (6,697)

    24. The White Mary

    I am pretty certain that I will never have the opportunity to visit Papua New Guinea, but thanks to author Kira Salak, I feel like I have had a grand tour of this beautiful island. The author’s own travels in this country shine through in her writing and lend an authenticity that is sometimes missing in contemporary fiction. My next purchase will be her non-fiction account of traversing the country, Four Corners: A Journey into the Heart of Papua New Guinea.

    The White Mary centers on journalist Marika Vecera, who has found fame in her field by traveling to the most dangerous locations to report on the inhumanities of war and cultural genocide. She owes much of her fame to Robert Lewis, an older journalist who inspired her from a young age. While this simple story forms the background for the novel, the author leads us, through two story lines, to a state of love and redemption.

    Marika has had a difficult life as she and her mother fled Czechoslovakia after her father was executed as a dissident. She has seen terrible acts of violence and endangered her own life to further her career. Early in the story, Marika meets Seb, a psychologist who falls in love with her. Their relationship grows but Marika is unaccustomed to being cared for and cannot return his love. After a miserable argument with Seb, Marika sets out to look for Robert Lewis who is presumed dead by his own hand, but has been sighted in a remote village in Papua New Guinea. The second half of the novel focuses on this quest and the vivid descriptions engage the reader fully. I could not put the book down until I knew the answer – What if Lewis isn’t dead? Marika is joined by Tobo, a witch doctor, who serves as her guide, and together they make a slow journey through the thick jungles and over the high mountains to the village, where Lewis was supposedly spotted by a missionary. They encounter a number of tribal communities and Salak brings the cultural differences, even among the different tribes, to the forefront of the story. You will need to read the book to see if Marika finds Lewis, but I think it is safe to say that she found her will to live, to love, and to embrace happiness even in the face of global sadness.

    I absolutely loved this book. I enjoyed the methods employed by Salak to introduce us to Marika. Her story unfolds slowly as she considers her life, the choices she has made, and the horrors she has witnessed during her quest. Tobo also lends a fascinating voice, explaining tribal culture to both Marika and the reader. To add depth to the novel, many of the tribal members also have strong voices in the novel. Whether you consider this cultural anthropology, a mystery, or just a wonderful novel, I think this book will delight you. I sincerely hope that the author is working on her next story, although this one might be difficult to top.

    Thanks to Henry Holt & Company for the opportunity to read and review this brilliant

    TITLE: The White Mary
    AUTHOR: Kira Salak
    COPYRIGHT: 2008
    PAGES: 351
    TYPE: Fiction
    RECOMMEND: Strongly recommend to everyone


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