Thursday, September 29, 2011

Same Author, Same Story, Not the Same Reaction

I finished the first book in the series Ranger's Apprentice called The Ruins of Gorlan.  Not being the biggest fantasy fan in the terms of strict fantasy a la Lord of the Rings (I do like those books though),  I was happily surprised with this book.

Here are my surprises:
  1. I'm old and to prove it I was totally digging Halt not Will, but in my defense I probably would have dug Halt as a teenager.
  2. I bawled like a baby at the end and the emotional scene between Will and Halt when Will finds out about his father.
  3. Definitely don't judge a book by it's cover - this cover is dark and unappealing!(don't you think?)
  4. I just checked out book 2 and hope that I enjoy the rest of the series as much and I'm wondering if I'll cry again.
  5. I can't wait to meet the author on November 8th - how cool!!!
  6. I liked a fantasy book other than Harry Potter.
Unfortunately, now that I'm done with this audio book, the challenge is picking the next one.  After having a nice long chat with some book store sellers, I decided it's time to read some more adult books.  They recommended The Blind Contessa's New Machine so I put that book on hold, and then headed to the audio book section.  I chose two adult books.  One by a new author to me, but not new in the publishing world and the second one was from an author that I've read before and loved.

As you might guess from the title of my post, I started with the author whom I previously read.  I've never read this book before, but I've read this book before - it's the same setting, character voice and descriptions as the previous novel, which I loved.  In the past, I would have gone through all of the author's books even if it was the same, but now I don't have time for that.  I'm annoyed to be honest, do I continue on or drop it.  What would you do?

For right now I think I'll start with the other book and then go back to this one.   Do you think published authors care?  My husband does, but he isn't published yet.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Stories That Make You Cry

This evening as we were having a quiet night of reading, my husband reminded me of a book and made me cry.

Let me set the scene.  My step-son was lying on the floor with his feet up next to the fire reading Airborn by Kenneth Oppal.  My 4yo old was tucked in bed after we read Goodnight Moon and sang our special song “Little Drummer Boy”.  My husband was on the loveseat reading a memoir by Dick Gregory and I was on the couch reading The Private Thoughts of Amelia E. Rye

As I was finishing reading a very poignant scene, I closed the book and said, “Ah, this is such a great book!”  I began telling my husband about it and he wasn’t finding it as endearing as I was.  I told him he needed to read more fiction.  He proclaimed that we have different tastes in books and that’s okay and then reminded me how we all read A Long Way From Chicago aloud together one summer through road trips and around camp fires. 

As he was recalling this, he was reminded of the scene at the end of the book with Grandma Dowdel.  This stoic no nonsense woman stayed up all hours of the night with every blasted light on in her house and waved like crazy as her grandson’s troop train passed by not in the hopes of seeing him, but that he would see her.   Just as I am now, the two of us opened the flood gates and down came the tears and our reflections about the story. 

Now that is powerful.  We read that book 3 years ago and still it evokes such memories.  And after a long day of worrying about work, worrying about kids, worrying about family, worrying about ‘what if’s, it’s nice to know that there are books that give us an outlet, an escape, a hope, a reminder of our blessings. 

So dear readers, which books make you cry?  I have a long list, so I’ll just leave you with my top two:  as mentioned above A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck and Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery, the last of the Anne of Green Gables books – I defy anyone to read Walter’s letter to Rilla without crying!

So let’s hear yours!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That

When you read a lot of books, do you ever get confused with the characters?  I was showing a colleague today the latest book trailer for Inheritance the last of the Eragon books.  I must admit I haven't read these books (I previously stated fantasy is not my favorite genre), but I know he loves these books so it was fun to watch him try to figure out the dragons.  Then he realized that he was confusing another series.  Ahh, the joy of reading too many books.

This situation has happened to me on some occasions, but my most notable encounter dealt with Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (my FAVORITE HP book) and Star Wars Revenge of Sith.  I was at a luncheon after a funeral of all things, when I began discussing with a friend the trustworthiness of Snape.  ***side note, if you are one of those rare people living under a rock and don't know about Snape and Dumbledore, be forewarned, spoiler ahead****  I was convinced (rightly so) that Snape was good and was giving her all my reasons why he had to be good and possible motives for him to 'kill' Prof. Dumbledore.   She agreed with me, but then said, "I thought that too, but what about when he killed all those kids in that room."  I couldn't figure out what she was talking about and then it hit me.  "That wasn't Snape, that was Anakin!"  Boy did we have a laugh about that and sad to say, I don't think the mourners were too happy with us.

My husband mentioned me in a tweet today about freelance editing and included a link to an article:  As I read through this Q&A, I realized that I am a 'copy editor'.  I pore over every word that my husband writes, fixing spelling and inconsistencies as well as grammar.  I am not a content editor although I offer some suggestions about the story and character mapping, etc.  I love to read his work and it's my natural instinct to fix spelling and grammar and then put a big three-quarter square around some text with a question mark next to it.  That's my clue to tell him that something isn't right with that section - fancy right?  Glad to know my place though.

Last story of the night, my darling 4yo had quite a day at school - he kept kids from napping, he threw his glasses and broke them, and continued to throw a fit in the bathroom banging doors and shouting!  Suck!  We talked to him, he cried, we took out the big bucket and he really cried.  The big bucket is the land of the lost toys - lost to one sad little boy.  Bye-bye annoying loud noise making truck, hopefully next time your owner will make better choices! 

Now what to do about those glasses??!!! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Give a Hoot Read a Book

My fabulous husband found this for me and I think it's great!  I want to order some for my library!  Speaking of giving a hoot and reading a book, I am love, love, loving Ranger's Apprentice and I don't normally love fantasy.  The writing is clever without pandering to its audience and the world he creates is realistic yet mysterious.  Flanagan's word choice and use of language is spot on and I think it's great how much students want to read it and subsequent books in the series.  This is the book I'm currently listening to, so you can imagine how much I'm enjoying my commute now and if gas weren't so expensive, I might find myself making some unexpected trips throughout the day just to listen to more.  Can't wait to hear Flanagan in person in November!

Now a note about my fabulous husband and an illustration of how truly wonderful he is as demonstrated with a story about our morning.  We wake up at our usual time, only now it's even darker in the morning and the bed is too comfortable, but alas duty calls.  As I'm getting ready to leave, on time for once, I go into my 4yo's room to kiss him goodbye when the wave of smell hits me - pee, saturated pungent pee and it's bad.  So I take my son's pjs off of him while he is dead asleep, I lay out a mattress pad on his couch, transfer him to the couch, cover him up with his Hello Kitty blanket, start to strip the bed, but then go to the kitchen to tell my husband that he'll have to give our son a shower and throw the sheets into the wash.  As usual, my handsome husband has made me breakfast and coffee to take on my commute.  I'm gathering up all my items: purse, 64oz water bottle, my lunch bag and separate container which didn't fit into my bag, two books, my laptop bag, and my coffee mug.  Quite a lot and as my husband pointed out the books should go in my bag, but it was a little too late because as I was heading to the door my books started to slip and then there went the coffee all over the kitchen floor.  After a moment of stunned silence, my husband proclaimed, "Go hon, you have to go, you'll be late.  I got this."  What a guy and I felt terribly leaving him with such a 'wet' house.

One last bit of this story must be told, particularly since I shared it on Lisa and Laura's blog:  Despite feeling badly about leaving my husband with such a disaster, mostly of my making, truth be told...

I was really bummed about not having my coffee!  And with that I can happily say that Tuesday is over!  I'm not a big fan of Tuesdays, but it looks like the day will end better than it started.  Later all!

Monday, September 19, 2011

How Many Books Can You Read at Once?

 I wanted to share all the books and books and books I've been reading.  How many books can you read at one time?  As a librarian, I'm fortunate enough that I get to be surrounded by books all day long and I get to read them to students - EVEN BETTER, and EVEN BETTER STILL my 4yo active son, my 13yo. active step-son, and my 44yo active husband! 

I don't count picture books as books I'm currently reading although I probably read on an average 10/day.  What I love is that I have a long commute so I listen to audiobooks.  Have you ever talked to someone who sits in the car after arriving at her destination just to finish listening to the chapter?  That's me, although that sometimes gets me in trouble with the 'school' clock and the start of the day, but oh so worth it.

So what am I listening to?  Right now I'm in the midst of Ranger's Apprentice and so far I'm rather impressed with how John Flanagan has created this world.  I've been drawn into it without much work, perhaps it's listening to it, but I feel myself watching the movie in my mind and that is always a sign of well-written book for me.  I'm so thankful because I will be meeting Mr. Flanagan in November and creating activities for my students to prepare them for his visit, now it will be much easier! Phew!

A colleague emailed me today asking me to order some books he found on Amazon that might get his reluctant girl readers reading.  I love that he took the initiative to look for some books, but why didn't he ask me for a recommendation??  Right?  Hello, that's my job!  Well, I handled it with grace and aplomb, I brought him a stack of books that I thought his students would like!  I think he was a bit overwhelmed, I told him if those didn't work we could look into other options - ha!  BTW - I gave him Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little, Mallory on the Move, and Amelia's Notebook, so I'll let you know.  While checking out these books, I picked up The Plain Janes and started reading.  It's a graphic novel and as those books are more often than not checked out, I was happy to have a crack at it.  It grabs you right from the beginning, I'll give you that!  Looking forward to more perusing of that book tomorrow. 

In the meantime, I've also started the adorable The Private Thoughts of Amelia E. Rye and Notes From the Dog.  I still have The Rise of Renegade X  to finish on my Nook, and Three Black Swans to finish and return to the library.  More in my pile?  You bet, I have Aurora County All-Stars, Silent Boy, and more from my husband.  He is a genius at short story so I like to challenge him with contests or blog posts, check out his stuff below if you don't believe me! He is also in the midst of a wonderful novel that I'm all caught up with, so now he needs to write more of it, it's that good!

So how many books do you read at a time?  Can you keep them all straight? Do you feel you have to finish the book to count it as read?  Don't you think that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is still the best written show around or has your mom 'bogarted' all the chips too?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

It's about the Blessings, 'Bitca'

I've just started following writer Natalie Whipple on twitter, check her out if you haven't, I'm also following her blog.  In honor of Natalie being a first time Buffy the Vampire Slayer watcher I've added 'bitca' in my title.  It has been fun following her as she experiences Buffy episodes for the first time and I try to remember the episode as she tweets about it.  As you know, that show ROCKED!  The writing was spectacular and anyone who remembers the episode where Xander showed his lack of spelling prowess will understand my 'bitca' reference.  I have a few 'bitca' comments to make, but then it's all about the blessings!

My husband (learn about him below) is fond of telling people that when he met me I was the cute, adorable, librarian of a quaint little K-2 school, then the K-5 librarian of a brand new 'green' school, (they tore down that quaint K-2 school #sad), and now the District Librarian traveling between schools in this K-8 district where there used to be 3 librarians and 3 schools.  Sign of the times, right?  Sadly, yes, and sadly not wanting to lose my job I went along with it, a smile on my face and only complaining to those family who would stand to hear it.  I lost one of my dear friends along the way - she was the librarian at the 6-8 school when the district decided to cut her position and leave me to be the district librarian servicing all schools.  I also lost that feeling of making a difference and having a library program that meant something.  But that's just the background so enough of the 'bitching' because despite these sad tidings there is some good news and that is where the blessings happen.

BOOKS!  BOOKS ARE THE GOOD NEWS!  Although I might not have as much time to read to students as I used to, the times I get are precious and so much fun!  I value it now more than ever because every opportunity is special and offers the chance to put another story and book into the hands of a bright young mind.  Books help us escape, they help us focus on something other than our problems and books teach us about all sorts of things.  They give us hope even when they are about a bleak and scary future.  Books are hope, they are dreams, they are possibilities, they soar, no matter the format.  Our job is to make sure we keep getting stories out there, to make sure students have books to read.

Speaking of getting stories into the hands of students, my school district was recently the recipient of some free ebooks.  This boon accomplished many things.  First, after 7 years I finally got our library server and software program updated.  Secondly, it has caused such a stir of excitement in the students because now not only can they check out books electronically, but they can make recommendations to their friends, to me and create reviews of the books.  I had the chance to look on the system this morning and see if I had any requests to process and there sat 25 book reviews needing approval and several book recommendations.  Wow, for me that was very powerful, students still like to read and they want their opinions to be heard and matter - I LOVE IT!

So even in some seemingly bleak times there is always books, banter, and Buffy to see us through and I'm incredibly thankful for the blessing of my job.  Now it's off to read more of my husband's great new novel.  I love the first chapter and the great hook at the end of it, creepy and intriguing all wrapped up in one and I can't wait to read more!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Tweeting, Getting Ready for Author Visits, and Editing My Husband

I've been reading a lot of tweets since my last blog post - it's addicting, fun, fascinating, educational, and time consuming.  This takes away from my normal reading time, but in the long run it's reading on a whole new level.  There are readings of the clever, quirky, snarky, funny, boring tweets, as well as clicking on links to blogs, news sites, educational sites, author sites, etc which leads to lots more reading - it's a whole new reading world!

Meanwhile, I'm so happy to have a long commute (did you hear that? my husband's jaw just hit the ground since I often complained of the commute in order to get sympathetic massages - wink, wink!)  During said hour commute to work I get lots done.  At the bridge work stop, I read my friend feed.  By the time I hit the highway, I've been updated on all my football news with @MikeandMike, so that for my last 25min I can listen to an audiobook - ah, the joy and sometimes defeat of a great book on cd!

Currently, I'm listening to "A Dog's Life" by Ann M. Martin.  What a poetic author!  I love how she so convincingly writes this tale from the dog's point of view.  It's wonderful, it's sad, it's sincere, it's peaceful!  The saddest thing is I'm almost done and it's on to my next book which I'm reading to prepare for an author visit.  I have higher expectations for this next author than I did for the first one I had to read.  What torture that was!  I won't comment on which authors these were here, but you can certainly check out some of my latest reviews on Goodreads.

Lastly, I'm reading and editing my husband's writing.  You can learn more about him at the bottom of this blog. He is so creative and such a talented writer, but his mechanics need refining (ie spell checker) and since I read every word and pore over sentences and structure we are the perfect writing team.  I've irked him tonight though since I participated in #BB101 over on twitter (you can click on my twitter tag to follow me) and have been updating my Goodreads and Blog.  I am anticipating a fun weekend though as he has added over 5000 words to his very juicy book.  I can't wait!