Archive for January, 2007

My First Meme

I’ve so enjoyed reading other bloggers’ memes. Now, I get to do my own!

Hardback or trade paperback or mass market paperback?
Usually trade paperback, but now that I read all these blogs, I’m always seeing new books I want. I’ve indulged in a few more hardbacks of late.
Amazon or brick and mortar?
Amazon. I love the discounts and the thrill of a box on the doorstep!
Barnes & Noble or Borders?
Barnes & Noble. We don’t have a Borders where I live. T and I go to Barnes & Noble several times a week. We’re big fans. (Although I do enjoy Borders, too, when I have the chance).
Bookmark or dogear?
Bookmark! (And occasionally, nothing. “I gotta remember I’m on page 53, ‘kay?'”)
Alphabetize by author or alphabetize by title or random?
My shelves are all random. They look pretty that way.
Keep, throw away, or sell?
Just this week I did a big purge and sold about 35 books to used bookstores. Gotta make room for the news!
Keep dustjacket or toss it?
Read with dustjacket or remove it?
Usually read with it, but sometimes remove. I actually prefer reading hardbacks from the library–they do wonderful things with the dustjacket.
Short story or novel?
Novel. I love digging in. I should try more shorts, though.
Short story collection (short stories by the same author) or anthology (short stories by a different author?
Collection, I s’pose. I most recently read a Carol Shields collection, but that was over a year ago.
Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket?
Definitely Harry Potter. I read the first Lemony Snicket. I enjoyed it but didn’t love it. I have stood outside a bookstore at midnight for Harry, though.
Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks?
I try really hard for chapter breaks. Or those mini breaks, where there is a gap in the text. Or when T wakes up.
“It was a dark and stormy night” or “Once upon a time”?
Buy or Borrow?
Both. I love buying, but I love library books, too (especially brand new ones that no one else has read!)
New or used?
New, all the way. I know we book lovers are supposed to love used books, too, but I don’t. I don’t mind library books at all, but used books are not my bag. I’m not even really a fan of used bookstores. If I’m going to own a book, I want it fresh and shiny.
Buying choice: book reviews, recommendation or browse?
Sometimes I read the San Diego paper’s Sunday book reviews and want every book they review. I also read Bookmarks magazine for ideas. But, these days, I get most of my recommendations from blogs.
Tidy ending or cliffhanger?
Tidy ending.
Morning reading, afternoon reading or nighttime reading?
Before T, I used to LOVE reading in the backyard on weekend afternoons (oh how wonderful . . . ahh . . .) Now, I fit in reading whenever I can (T’s naptime or 10 minutes before bedtime, usually)
Standalone or series?
Favorite series?
Harry Potter, His Dark Materials, Sally Lockhart, Airborn/Skybreaker, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Favorite books read last year?
See this post.
Favorite books of all time?
I think I’ll get that one its own post someday soon.


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Criss Cross

Wow, yet another book I am wildly enthusiastic about. Could it be that this blog has brought me good luck? I just finished Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins, and it is wonderful. This is the kind of book that makes me think, “Maybe I do want to be a writer. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to do this stuff?” The emotions Criss Cross brings out are completely real and totally genuine.

Now, Criss Cross isn’t an exciting book. It’s about one spring and summer shared by several teenagers living in a small town. We don’t know what year it is, but there are a few clues–such as bell bottoms and music from a record player. Nothing big happens in the story. The kids just subtly change and mature. And we are fortunate enough to see inside their heads–as Hector tries to get the attention of Meadow–who is probably too “popular” for him, as Lenny teaches Debbie how to drive (sort of), and as many other small but big events happen.

Maybe I like this book so much because I could REALLY relate to the characters. Debbie is my favorite. In two different scenes, she is found reading a book in her backyard. Hey, I used to do that! Well, actually, I still do that. Although Debbie is a fave, really I could relate to all the kids, like the story Rowanne tells about her job, where the only thing her co-workers are interested in are boyfriends. I also enjoyed watching the kids interact with their parents. They’re all between childhood’s “My Parents Are Wonderful” and adulthood’s “My Parents Really Did Know What They Are Talking About.” Here, our characters are struggling through adolescence and are not quite able to talk to their parents about it.

I have a short list of books that I consider “summer” books–really beautiful novels about kids experiencing an important summer in their lives. Perhaps that’s a reason why I like books with teenage characters so much–for them, more than for adults, summer is a time of endless possibility and change. When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Holt, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, and The Rain Catchers by Jean Thesman are also on this short list. And now I have to add the wonderful, beautiful Criss Cross.

Note: Criss Cross won the Newbery last year. Hmmm . . . To me, this really isn’t even a children’s book. Maybe an introspective teenager would like it, but I think it is MUCH better appreciated by an adult, looking back.

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And the Award Goes To . . .

Well, hidey-ho! What a difference a year makes! Last year around this time (January-February), I remember cruising around amazon one day and discovering that the year’s Newbery award winner was out. I thought, “Hey, I should get that. That would be fun to read.” So I did.

Now, this year, I am obsessed with lit blogs, especially kid lit blogs. I read them every day and have even started my own. Thanks to all these blogs, I now know more than ever before about children’s books. And, I’ll confess, I got a little shiver of excitement the moment before the Newbery announcement (yeah, I watched it live on the web). Kind of like the thrill I used to feel as the alphabetical list of snowday cancellations got closer and closer to my school.

Gosh, I had never even heard of the Newbery winner, The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron. But now I have a new book on my to-be-read list. Of course, I’m bummed that A Drowned Maiden’s Hair didn’t get any honors. And I’m even more bummed about Kiki Strike by Kirsten Miller. The more I thought about it, the more I was rootin’ for Kiki. Maud’s story captured my interest slightly more than Kiki’s, but Kiki’s gets more originality points. And I still think about Ananka’s “rules” at the end of each chapter. (Note to readers: go get Kiki Strike!) Anyhoo, at least I can recommend my faves to my blog readers.

I did better with the Printz. I haven’t read American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. Maybe I will, but maybe I won’t. I have yet to read a graphic novel. My gut tells me I should start with To Dance by Siena Cherson Siegel and Mark Siegel. As for some of the “honor” books, I do LOVE with a capital L both Octavian Nothing and The Book Thief. I’m a John Green fan (Looking for Alaska! Wow!) and have An Abundance of Katherines checked out from the library as of this Saturday, and it is near the top of my list.

And now, back to last year. This morning, in honor of the Newberys, I started Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins. I’m on page 65 right now, and it’s beautiful. Special thanks to Kate’s Book Blog–her Top 10 of 2006 really got me reading Criss Cross.

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Go Tell it on the Mountain

I’ve been busy reading a book for my book club–The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter. Now, it’s not a book I would have picked up on my own. Maybe because the word “education” is in the title. Even though I am a former teacher, the word “education” doesn’t exactly send chills of reading anticipation down my spine. But, really, I’m 2/3 through, and I’m digging it. The five-year-old narrator’s voice is a bit too precious at times, but the descriptions of life in the Tennessee mountains, 1930, are neat. Along with Colonial America and Turn of the Century stories, I also love Life in a Cabin stories–so this fits the bill. It’s a fun read.

I am reminded of life in high school, though. I’m on a deadline. I have to have this book finished by 8:30 tomorrow evening. Will I make it? Think so.

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So Good, Oh So Good

A Drowned Maiden’s Hair was just what I needed. I literally devoured this book–reading it during every second I could scrape up. It took all my willpower not to stay up and read the last 50 pages last night. I told myself, “Kate, Maud will be there in the morning. Get some rest.” But as soon as I had T happily digging through his red box for toy treasures this morning, I had A Drowned Maiden’s Hair open and my nose in it (with one eye on T).

I knew I would love this book because it is subtitled “A Melodrama.” Now, how cool is that? And yes this book has orphans, villians, and suspense. I also knew I would love this book because it is set in 1909. I love the Turn of the Century–from Samantha Parkington to (*swoon*) A Northern Light. Again, A Drowned Maiden’s Hair doesn’t disappoint: Barbary Asylum, Hawthorne Grove, and Cape Calypso all come alive in all of their 1909 glory, complete with Gibson Girls and Ragged Dick.

And do I need to say how much I love Maud Flynn? I do! She is such an honest character–yearning for love and wanting to do what she is told–yet she’s not a bit sappy. I like, too, how her physical appearance isn’t perfect. How many books actually say the main character’s hair is “thin.” Oh Maud, you are fabulous enough to run with Kiki Strike!

As I read this book, I kept thinking of my grandmother, whose older sister died of pnemonia when she was 12. I’m not sure why I kept thinking of her–maybe because her name reminds me of Maud’s. It’s Lavinia. If I were to write a melodrama, I might name a character Lavinia.

But enough about my family history. Readers out there–go get A Drowned Maiden’s Hair! It’s one of those books that I wish I were just starting–just so I could experience it anew. Highly, HIGHLY recommended!

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Parasols! Orphans! Mystery!

Oh, I just started A Drowned Maiden’s Hair yesterday, and I’m halfway through! Oh Maud! Oh Victoria! Oh 1909! I love you all!

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Long Live the Queen!

Well, I finished Marie Antoinette: The Journey last night! Hip Hip Hooray! I feel great about this accomplishment. As I’ve mentioned, I don’t read a lot of non-fiction, and it is not something I gravitate towards. A few days after I posted about reading a biography most recently in 5th grade, I remembered that–just three years ago–I started John Adams and didn’t finish it! I rarely do not finish books, so this is an unseemly blot upon my reading record. So, just the fact that I finished this big bio is a cause for throwing one’s tri-cornered hat in the air!

I had a little trouble slogging through the bits on court politics. Mainly because I couldn’t keep all the characters straight–all the Ducs and Comtes and Princesses. But, otherwise, the book kept me riveted, particularly as I got toward the infamous end and the chapter “The Head of Antoinette.” Whoa.

I now feel like I really know Marie Antoinette. And I feel bad for her! She was a good mother and not a bad person, and she got a raw deal. She just happened to be a Queen at a bad time for queens. Honestly, I got this book because of its pretty pink cover and because I want to see the Sofia Coppola movie. Now, I’m eager to read more about the French Revolution. I’m even considering reading A Tale of Two Cities. We’ll see what I decide on that. What I really want to do is visit France and see all of Marie Antoinette’s real life stuff.

And isn’t that what reading is all about–learning and wanting more? Oui.

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