Friday, March 30, 2007

A Funny for Friday

I love Frazz. If you're not following this charming comic strip about an elementary school janitor/Renaissance man and the kids at his school, you should be.

If you don't get the one-panel library joke, try this link.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Harry Potter 7 covers

Check 'em out! Beware, however, they're HUGE. I can't get Firefox to shrink 'em down any, but maybe IE will.

Gorgeous, and also food for all sorts of speculation. Like, check out Dobby holding Godric Gryffindor's sword in the British one! What's that all about?! And what's Harry wearing around his neck in the US one? And who's watching? Gah!! I may actually faint. Somebody catch me.

Mary Grandpre, can I grow up to be you?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

You Need to Go Watch This

Mr. Rogers testifying about the need for children's programming in 1969

Because. You do. It's been years since I saw Mr. Rogers on TV and I still feel better just hearing his voice.

Do I Actually Read Non-Library Blogs?!

Zee of Zee Says tagged me with another meme, which is to list 5 non-library blogs I read. Thanks, Zee! Turns out I actually do have some.

1. Cute Overload I don't care what kind of day you've had, you have to smile at this blog. Kittens! Puppies! Occasional lizards! All in a state of overwhelming cuteness! Don't read the entire page at once or you may never recover. Also, you may start speaking in a reeeeeediculous Frawnsh accent!

2. Dooce The most famous blogger ever to get fired from her job, Heather Armstrong now writes about everything and nothing, and does it hilariously. My favorites are her monthly letters to her daughter, Leta, wherein she talks candidly and lovingly (and often slightly insanely) about all the changes her preschool-age daughter is going through as she grows.

3. Jane in Progress Television writer Jane Esponson talks about selling scripts, writing for the networks, and writing in general. I first found this because she often works with Godlike-Creator-of-Buffy-and-Firefly Joss Whedon, and let's face it folks, I would watch a hemorrhoid commercial if Joss directed and Jane wrote.

4. Jane Austen Quote of the Day I do love me my Janes. This time it's Jane Austen, with quotes taken from her novels and her letters, each one exceeding your daily recommended allowance of biting wit. It's like getting your daily helpin' o' scalpels . . . but funny.

5. Popcorn and Chain Mail. It doesn't update very often, but when it does . . . ahhh, the snark is strong with this one. Three or four history buffs (or possibly history professionals; they certainly know a lot of stuff I don't, and I enjoy history as much as your next librarian) go after Hollywood's version of history. Notable sporkings have included the cartoon Anastasia, weepie-fest Titanic, and most recently, Tristan+Isolde, otherwise known as Pretty, but they sure can't act.

I do have more, but 95% of my blogs are connected to the library or kidlit world in some way. Good lord, I am a one-track dork. Anyway, if Little Willow at Bildungsroman, Shannon at Clarity . . . perhaps, Fuse #8 or anybody else wants to join in the fun, please do!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Down the Rabbit Hole

I'm back! With a book! Isn't it funny how whenever you think you've hit the drought of a lifetime, bookwise, you suddenly stumble into a patch of really really really good stuff?

Well, that's how it always happens to me.

Book: Down the Rabbit Hole
Author: Peter Abrahams
Published: 2005

Ingrid Levin-Hill should be over the moon. She’s gotten the part of Alice in the stage version of Alice in Wonderland. But it's hard to concentrate on the stage when a woman named Cracked-Up Katie is murdered right after Ingrid was in her house. And when she mounts her own personal investigation, she keeps coming up with questions instead of answers. What's with her parents lately? Who is this guy, Vincent Dunn, and why did he come to Echo Falls? What really happened to Cracked-Up Katie's fiance? Is she ever going to find the end of this rabbit hole?

It’s no coincidence that Ingrid is playing Alice. Abrahams expertly captures the strange, senseless feel of Carroll's classic. There are a lot of loose threads that exist simply as loose threads. They may or may not be connected. They may be connected, but we don’t know how. I finished the book unsure about whether this was Abrahams not bothering to tie it all together, but the sheer volume of these loose ends makes me think this was his way of making Ingrid’s world Wonderlandish, where things happen for seemingly no reason and with no discernable effect.

It’s tempting (and human) to wish for all of them to be wrapped up, for her parents’ behavior, her brother’s, her grandfather’s, to be explained. But that would have been too pat. Life is a bundle of loose ends, after all, as Alice and Ingrid both learn.

Pick up Down the Rabbit Hole for a challenging, twisty mystery about a sane girl in a crazy world.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Just in Case You Suddenly Get a Lot of Extra Time

Presenting . . . The Literature Map! A snazzy little website where you can plug in an author you like, then it displays a cloud of authors similar. The closer the author, the more similar. It's pretty keen, although they do need a little editing (Jane Austin?), and it's kind of fun to follow your own literary tastes through all the different clouds it generates. It's not snobbish about kidlit or genre fic, either.

Thanks to Throwing Marshmallows for the link! What fun!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Interview Meme

Straight from Zee at Zee Says, my entry into the interview meme.

1. Tell me about one holiday tradition your family has that you think is unique.

This may not be strictly unique, but I think it is unusual. We don’t rip into our Christmas presents all at once--there’s a structure to the gift giving. Presents are opened one person at a time, with the person who opened the last one getting to pick the present for the next person. We do this in set rounds--when everyone’s gotten one, we decide whether to do another round or do something like watch one of our new movies or cook or take a break from each other. It is absolutely required that my dad (and his camera) capture the giftee and gift on film. We do one or two rounds on Christmas Eve (after church) and then leave the rest until Christmas day.

The rounds tend to break down by evening, when people who got some big gifts have opened them all and people who got a lot of little gifts are still opening. But I don’t think we’d ever do it any other way. It stretches the day out forever, and it also focuses us on each other and not just the joy of acquisition.

2. What is one thing you regret?

Hiding in a book for most of high school and never accepting any of the overtures of friendship or socialization made to me. A really bad middle school experience made me suspicious and cagey, convinced that anybody reaching out had their own nefarious plans for making my life hell.

3. What is one movie you think all people should be required to see? Why? If it is not a movie that most people have seen, give a 1-2 sentence summary.

The Sixth Sense. It’s one of the few movies that make me cry that I will actually watch again. I love the way it looks at life and death and who’s on which side, and how it affects them.

4. What is your favorite comfort food?
Mexican food, like my mom makes. More specifically, frijoles that still have little bits of uncrushed bean and lots of cheese and milk and you know that some kind of beef or ham bone was involved in the cooking of the beans. The smell and taste and texture just mean home to me.

5. What is the scariest thing that's ever happened to you? How did you maintain the fear from overtaking you?

I temped for about a year in between undergrad and library school. (I don’t recommend that, by the way. Not long-term. Temps are treated like the gum on your shoe in a lot of offices.) I got fired suddenly from a temp job . . . the agency called me and told me not to go to work the next day. I wasn’t even entirely sure why. I’d never been fired or kicked off anything before. I was terrified that I’d done something horrendously wrong that the agency refused to tell me about, and they would never hire me again, and I’d wind up begging pennies on the street corner in order to pay the tuition to the library school that had just simultaneously accepted me and told me they couldn’t offer financial aid. It didn’t help that it was more than a month before I got another job from them, and I just watched my bank account slide toward zero.

I know now that I was expendable, just a temp that they could jettison at will, and there was probably nothing personal in it. But at the time, it felt darn personal.

I got through it day by day. The thing that helped most was going to church, where I also sang in the choir. The friendship and support of that choir helped out so much, and so did the feeling that there were things out there bigger than my stupid little life.

If you want to play, leave comments and I’ll try to come up with my own interview questions.

Monday, March 19, 2007

John Green, M.T. Anderson, and Semi-Rampant Criminality

No review today because I had my own urban adventure, which included a cathedral, a central library, cheap jewelry, lots of walking, hole-in-the-wall cuisine, and being stuck on the train for two extra hours. Four of those things were really fun.

Don't despair, however. Over at Brotherhood 2.0*, John Green has a special guest with him for his bidaily video, and it's none other than M.T. Anderson, the only author I have ever done a doubleheader for besides Lisa Yee. They schlep around Detroit and commit acts of mild illegality, and generally confirm all my impressions of both authors from their books. Check it out!

*What do you mean you're not following it?**


Friday, March 16, 2007

Er . . . huh?

Not to say I've never known any evil librarians. But a book about a boy battling a cult of evil librarians who restrict information doesn't seem like it's doing the ol' image any favors.

However, I'll keep my peace and see if it rocks. If so, I claim the power of the Evil Shush. Or maybe the Evil Bun. My hair's certainly long enough. I wonder if the Evil Bun could strangle people? That's a power I could use some days.

Thanks to Fuse #8 and Zee Says for the link.

Monday, March 12, 2007


Book: Speak
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Published: 1999

From Day One of high school, Melinda is untouchable, a pariah. She committed the most heinous of high-school crimes--called the cops on a summer party and caused a number of fellow students to get arrested, or at least in serious trouble. Her friends have deserted her and nobody else will get near her. As the school year goes on, she finds herself less and less able to talk. Even her art class, which offers a non-vocal alternative, isn't any help as her year-long assignment goes down the tubes. Her only refuge is an abandoned janitor's closet where she goes to be alone.

But ultimately, Melinda has no choice but to speak.

Okay, I know what you're saying . . . especially those of you who are total YA lit whizzes. Why the heck are you blogging this book, Bibliovore? It's not like we don't know about it! There's even a movie!

But like Melinda, I find I've just got to talk. I'd always heard about Speak as one of those towering classics of modern YA lit, with the result that I didn't have any idea what it was about or what kind of book it was. I wasn't entirely sure I would like it, but I instantly found myself sucked into the bitter, harrowing, and at times deliciously snarky narrative.

While Melinda can't talk to anyone in her life, she can and does pour it all out to us. Everything from her opinions on the constant changes in the school mascot ("Home of the Trojans didn't send a strong abstinence message, so they've transformed us into the Blue Devils") to her near-incoherence in the presence of her attacker is opened up to the reader. Speech and silence seem to feature in every relationship in her life, and the choice between one or the other at certain points directs the narrative.

In the end, I forgot it was a Classic Novel and just sank into the story. And that may be the best definition of a classic yet.

Maryrose Wood Interview!

Those good folks over at Bookslut have interviewed Maryrose Wood, author of Sex Kittens and Horn Dawgs Fall in Love. Not surprisingly, the poor book got challenged somewhere. Also not surprisingly, the person doing the challenging had never even seen the book. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to let my ears recover . . . I'm almost deafened by the sound of silly people shooting themselves in the foot.

Anyway, definitely check out the interview. It's hilarious, and not just because of the challenge story.

Thanks to E. Lockhart's blog for the link.

Friday, March 09, 2007

But are they reading them?

Teens buying books at fastest rate in decades
From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Welcome news or wishful thinking? You decide.

I actually think they're right about the sheer quality of the teen lit out these days, and they make an interesting point with one-time Harry Potter readers that still have the reading habit.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

How Did I Miss This?

March 1st was World Book Day!

In my own defense, every day is World Book Day in my house. But seriously, I am sorry I missed it. Check out the list of books the world can't live without!

From the World Book Day website:
1) Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen 20%
2) Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkein 17%
3) Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte 14%
4) Harry Potter books – J K Rowling 12%
5) To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee 9.5%
6) The Bible 9%
7) Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte 8.5%
8) 1984 – George Orwell 6%
9) His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman 6%
10) Great Expectations – Charles Dickens .55%

Okay, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights just annoy me, and I've never been able to stay awake through 1984 or Lord of the Rings. But other than that, I love these books! (Yes, even the Bible. It's got some great sex and violence in there.) Hey, 60% ain't so bad.

What's number one? Eh? Eh?? It's all about the Lizzie and Darcy, baby! As if proof of my most excellent taste was needed.

ETA: Thanks to Fuse #8 for the link.

Unfunny YA? Egad!

Stumbled across a link to this blog post by Greg Leitich Smith, about the dearth of funny books in YA. While his survey isn't the most scientific one ever created, in general I have to agree with him. I find my funny YA mostly by luck, and knowing the authors. Of course, some of the best books don't sound that funny from the jacket copy, or even the title (The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie, anyone?)

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Just want a ham sandwich?

Thanks to Fuse #8 for the link.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Clementine Sequel!

I heard mention of a new Clementine book on another litblog, right after I'd posted my own review. (I've forgotten which blog it is, but if that sounds familiar to you, thank you!) Tonight I remembered about that and went to check the publication date on Amazon . . . lo and behold, it's out in less than a month! Huzzah!

The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie

Book: The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie
Author: Jaclyn Moriarty
Published: 2006

Bindy Mackenzie has got it all going for her. She's the top student in Year 11 at Ashbury School, she runs workshops for fellow students, she even holds down two jobs without breaking a sweat. But she's also humorless, ruthless, superior, and stunningly unable to relate to any other human beings even when she thinks she's trying. Frankly, it's a wonder somebody hasn't tried to murder her before this.

She's sure done a good job of alienating her entire Friendship and Development class. As she begins cracking around the edges, her strange behavior pushes them further away. Unfortunately, they're the only ones who have a chance at figuring out who might want to murder her. Now the question is . . . will they?

I've recently fallen in love with Jaclyn Moriarty's style. She writes epistolary novels that take on multiple voices and points of view, and manage to be warm and funny and just a little kooky without losing their sense of human reality.

As abovenoted, Bindy may be the girl least likely to have a book written about her. Yet even as you goggle at her supreme unlikeability, you actually kinda find yourself . . . liking her. Glimpses into her early life, supplied by the "My Life" assignment given to her by her FAD teacher, show how she got the way she is, and as her slow murder-by-poison sends her life into a tailspin, she begins to realize that the only way she'll make it through is by reaching out to the people she's never had any use for before.

The unlikely murder plot isn't going to satisfy any mystery buffs, but you'll forget about that as you follow Bindy through the torturous, hilarious process of becoming human. Kudos to Moriarty and I can't wait for the next adventure in Ashbury!