Monday, December 28, 2009

silliness

You'd think, by the way I'm dragging my feet on this, that I've never before, IN MY LIFE, packed a suitcase. Now, admittedly, it's pretty damn cold where I'm going and I've had to purchase a whole new set of clothes for this adventure, but still. Pack the damn suitcase Holley!

So, I'm going to New York on Wednesday! I've never been before and am pretty excited about it. Chances at this point are slim that we'll go into actual NYC, but it's a state I've not yet been to so I'll take whatever part of it they want to show me. We are going to Kingston and, consulting the website, we are both at a very similar temperature right now. That's pretty funny considering this is Alabama :-)

Geography has never been one of my strengths but my big brother tells me that it is in upstate NY. Looking at a map it seems to me to be more in the bottom right hand corner near Connecticut, but maybe they label things differently up there...like the upper Nile or something. We will be closer to Woodstock than to NYC and the town of Kingston itself dates back to the arrival of the Dutch in the late 1600's. The town has a historical district so maybe I can wander around and get into some trouble...at least as much as I'm capable of anyway.

Alright, enough dawdling! I'm packing my suitcase now, night ya'll!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

out of the frying pan...





...and in to the 2010 100+ Reading Challenge over at J. Kaye's Book Blog!

I had a devil of a time keeping up with my reviews this past year and initially decided not to do the challenge again because of that but J. Kaye informs me that reviewing every book is OpTiOnAl!

So, I'm in! I have no problem keeping up with what I read, just finding time to blog it all so this time around I'll just be keeping a list and blogging what resonates. I'm not quite sure how I'll work that this time around but I'm pretty quick at figuring things out so I'll just wing it!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

curiousities

I am behind a lexus with the tag LSU TT. I can't help thinking titty...

throwing in the towel


***UPDATE*** In re-linking this list, I discovered 2 books that I reviewed but did not add to the list! I don't know if they made it over to J. Kaye's blog or not but that makes 107!!! The two books were Jo Graham's Hand of Isis and Max Brooks' World War Z!***END OF UPDATE***

I just don't believe I'll be able to squeeze another book in before December 31st so I'm stopping because, after all, I am ahead! I read 105 books this year for J. Kaye's Book Blog 100+ Reading Challenge! And I should say that I'm not stopping reading, merely wrapping up this challenge. I probably read this much every year anyway, if not a little more, but I don't normally blog each and every thing I read...just the stuff I either really love, or really hate :-) Here's to getting back to normal and here's my completed list!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The ides of the week before Christmas...

...and all through the 'brary not a creature was stirring except 18 bazillion ill-behaved teenagers studying for exams and eating/drinking the 3 metric tons of soft drinks, potato chips, and cookies that we buy for them.

whose idea WAS this? anyone have a few xanex to spare?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris


Sookie is once again up to her eyeballs in trouble, this time with a sniper taking shots at local shape shifters. This concerns her for very pressing reasons, not the least of which is the safety of her loyal boss, Sam. Her turn of luck goes from bad to worse when her house catches on fire, Sam is shot, and her friend Tara takes up with one very nasty vampire. Local Were politics, her awkward relationship with her now (ex)vampire boyfriend, and Eric's suspicion about what exactly went on between them while he had no memory combine to make life exhausting and confusing for the barmaid from Bon Temps.

I HAVE to read my sci-fi book and Catcher in the Rye for my bookgroups so Sookie will go on hold for the next little while.

*sad*

Sunday, December 13, 2009

the stork

My friend and coworker, the lovely and talented Book Diva, had her first baby not long ago (Dec 3rd I believe) so I went to visit and take lasagna once they were at home and somewhat settled.

Little Brooklyn is almost too cute to be believed and she napped in the crook of my arm quite comfortably! I just noticed that my hair is flipping up into little blond horns...how apropos.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris


Since Sookie is on the outs with her (now ex-) vampire boyfriend, she has done little except work, work, work. On the way home from a rough New Year's Eve working at Merlotte's, Sookie spots a most unclothed vampire running down the road and is amazed to find Eric, Bill's boss and owner of the vampire bar Fangtasia. Even more amazing to Sookie is that Eric has no idea who he is, who she is, or what he's running from. This uncertain, sweet side is SO not what her fragile emotions need at the moment, nor the trouble following close on his heels from a coven of witches bent on destruction.

Keep 'em comin!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Club Dead by Charlaine Harris


When Sookie's vampire boyfriend, Bill Compton, is abducted while on a secret assignment for the queen vamp of Louisiana, Sookie is enlisted to help recover him. The information he is gathering is wanted by many in the supernatural community and they will do anything to get it. Sookie and Bill have gone through a rough patch personally, but when she discovers Bill's relationship with his abductor to be more of a sexual nature, the relationship just might be over all together.

On to number four!

Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris


Sookie is up to her eyeballs in trouble, this time in Dallas, Texas, when she attempts to find out who has abducted a vampire from a local nest. A local group, the Fellowship of the Sun, is suspected and it's Sookie's job to infiltrate the group and use her telepathy to find out anything she can.

Again, I'm loving these books but they are equivalent to a great big bag of pork skins. Would your doctor recommend them? Nope....but I do! :-)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer


In anticipation of the New Moon movie, I reread all four books over Thanksgiving. I now need new glasses.

I'm not going to lay out four whole reviews of these books because, in all honesty, who doesn't know what these books are about? You know what? I love Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn! I love the movies! I love The Host!

Is she winning the Man Booker Prize? No.
A) She's not British.
B)This is a fantasy novel written to entertain the yungins and I for one believe she's done a fabulous job.

that is all.

oh, and this officially brings my total read for 2009 to 101! I met the challenge. December 31st, here I come!

Evil at Heart by Chelsea Cain


After his second rescue from a stretch of time in the not-so-loving hands of serial killer Gretchen Lowell, the Beauty Killer, Archie Sheridan has voluntarily checked himself into a psychiatric hospital to deal with the ramifications his injuries, his sexual attraction to Lowell, and his addiction to Vicodin. Unfortunately for him, Gretchen is on the loose and people are starting to die in horrific ways again. The only problem is that the bodies are being dumped in previous murder sites and Gretchen Lowell may do many things but repeating herself is not one of them. The Beauty Killer seems to be hard at work again and the unit in charge of investigation wants Archie’s help in bringing her to justice but he is not sure Lowell is really behind the current mayhem.

Again, I love this series. It is gruesome, disturbing, and a very quick read. Is that a bad thing? If you loved Patricia Cornwell back in the day before she got so angsty, this is the series for you!

Heartsick
Sweetheart
Evil at Heart

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris


So, I’ve finally gotten on the True Blood bandwagon which, of course, has led me to the books. I claim them as an extravagant guilty pleasure. Guilty in that the writing really isn’t that good, but, just like M&M’s, I’m devouring them at a high rate of speed AND enjoying myself immensely. Everyone needs to find books like these in their reading lives. I’m not speaking of the content of course, just the enjoyment level. Different content for different folks.

In Dead Until Dark, vampires have “come out of the coffin” and achieved some legal status (sounds AWFULLY familiar….cough, cough, Anita Blake, cough, cough) thanks to the Japanese perfecting synthetic blood to deal with their unique dietary requirements. The tiny Louisiana town of Bon Temps has been fairly isolated from the debate until vampire Bill Compton moves into town. Sookie Stackhouse is a waitress at Merlotte’s and is quite excited by this turn of events. Not everyone in town is as gracious to the newcomer, but Sookie is determined to make him feel welcome. Unfortunately, women in the town start being killed and the police are quick to point the finger at Sookie’s new friend. Her unique ability to hear the thoughts of those around her provide the perfect opportunity to try to find out who is behind it before her Lothario of a brother gets the blame. The only one she can’t here is Bill and the relief behind that silence leads to some steamy romance. First in a series…nine books and counting!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

happy thanksgiving!

I will be without computer access for a few days so I am taking this opportunity to wish everyone a happy thanksgiving! If you are going out shopping on Friday, you are insane!
Love,
Holley

Monday, November 23, 2009

Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls


Having read The Glass Castle and ReAlLy liking it (despite my doubts about its authenticity as a "memoir"), I was terribly excited to hear about Walls' first attempt at biographical fiction. Half Broke Horses is a fictionalized account of the life of her maternal grandmother, Lily Casey Smith. Lily was raised on a ranch and became a rancher's wife. Along the way, she earned a college degree, taught in one-room schools, drove a hearse around to pickup the school kids, mended fences, branded cattle, learned how to fly an airplane, and just in general lived her life to the fullest. Proud of her dentures, concerned that her kids learn life's lessons, and eager to build a life of stability, Lily bulls her way nonstop through life's challenges.

I liked this novel very much but it is rather choppy. If you've read The Glass Castle, this will definitely make you want to read it again and if you haven't read it, it would be a great follow up to this. I don't envy you the job of whittling out fact from fiction but both books are incredibly engaging reads!

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger


In Her Fearful Symmetry, the twins have been estranged for over 20 years, Elspeth in London and Eddie flown off to Chicago with her twin's fiance. Now Elspeth has died and left her flat in London to Eddie's twin daughters, Julia and Valentina, under the conditions that they live in the flat for one year and that their parents never set foot in it. Eddie is NOT happy with the situation but sees no way out of it. The twins are desperately curious about what led to their mother and aunt's separation, but Eddie isn't telling.

Julia and Valentina are mirror twins, meaning that while all Julia's insides are where they are supposed to be, Valentina's are just the opposite and there are some health consequences for her such as a heart murmur and asthma. Julia has always been her caretaker and protector and Valentina feels smothered. This sensation only increases once they move to London and Valentina becomes attracted to her aunt's bereaved lover, Robert. Robert lives in the same building in the flat below Elspeth's and their is an upstairs neighbor, Martin, who has troubles of his own since his wife left him because of his exhausting OCD habits. Robert is a tour guide at Highgate Cemetery, which neighbors the apartment building, while he finishes his doctoral thesis on a history of the cemetery and Victorian funerary practice. Meanwhile, Elspeth is still hanging around. She is determined to alert Robert and the twins to her presence and so the haunting begins.

If this sounds convoluted, that's because it is. Several weeks later and I still can't quite decide whether I liked this book or not. I like the historical bits about Highgate Cemetery and the Victorians (Niffenegger is a tour guide there and her love of it shows!) but the characters, with the exception of Martin and his wife, are just kind of icky and unlovable. The ending was a disappointment of epic proportions but with a solution like Valentina comes up with, I never imagined a tidy denouement. It just felt choppy and rushed...sort of tacked on at the end rather than really brought to a satisfying conclusion. The Time Traveler's Wife was not my favorite book either but the overall writing and character development were much tighter and more involving for me as a reader.

aaaaaahhhhhhhhhh...the freenssssh!

Thanks Amanda!



Enter the spoof:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

! ! ! this just in ! ! !

KT has car trouble this morning so I swung by her house and picked up the whole gang! We were putting Toes' booster seat in my car and Scout had already climbed in when I heard her say, in an amazed tone of voice, "Ooooh, Aunt Holley! What is this right here?!" When I turned to see, she was pointed at the handle to roll down the window. I replied, "That's to roll down the window. Welcome to your ride in the past, Scout! It's almost like a covered wagon!"

On a similar note, at The World's Most Least Successful Yardsale this past weekend, KT's mom put out a typewriter. When the girls got there, of course they had to marvel at all the stuff they'd not noticed in their Nana's house that we were now attempting to get rid of. They crowded around the typewriter and said, "Oooh, look! A cash register!"

Out of the mouths of babes, indeed.

that is all.

Friday, November 13, 2009

luck is a lady

and hopefully she looks favorably upon me :-)

Yesterday's adventures included going to Georgia for sinful lottery tickets, lunch in Anniston, and a look through an antique mall.

I've already looked at the GA lottery website today but the drawing for numbers hasn't taken place yet, that'll be tonight. The jackpot is 12 million. Here's hoping. I also played one of the little scratch off cards to no avail, but it was an intense 2 minutes of anticipation and fun :-)

I love antique malls. I don't go through them too often because I have a bit of the impulse shopper coursing through my veins and I am unable to control it very well in such places but I kept it to a dull roar yesterday. It was the Apple Barrell antique mall in Anniston if any of you know of it. There are a couple of other places I would have liked to look in, but we ran out of time so I'll have to go back another day. I bought a set of three pictures of wine grapes...I have that sort of themed thing going on in my kitchen. What is in there now are color copies of the backs of Cooks Illustrated magazines and some really crappy paintings of herbs straight from my own considerably untalented hands so these will fit in perfectly. i also got a 6 candle tiered stand to put in my fireplace since I don't lay actual fires there. I tried it out as soon as I got home and it was very nice and almost like a real fire IMHO.

Between the antique mall and trying my candle stand out, I had book group. Can I just say how much I love book group and the friends I've made there? If you aren't in one (and for librarians, outside of the one you may lead at work), you should definitely think hard about it. Great friends AND discussions!

Alright! I am LEAVING this house immediately or I will sit here all day!

I haven't done anything today except farm on Facebook. My staycation is rapidly drawing to a close and I have been loving it! Some friends are having a yard sale tomorrow so I'm taking a few things over and will help out some...if I can leave this house anytime soon :-)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

staycation hump day

I'm having a fabulous staycation so far and am about to get the dreaded house cleaning underway. My plans for the day fell through so I've decided it will not be a complete loss. I need to do some serious scrubbing and today is the day!

Monday Mom and I met for lunch and saw the new 3D Christmas Carol. It got sucky reviews over at Rotten Tomatoes but I loved it and would definitely see it again. Just a note for anyone with young children thinking that because it says Disney everything is okay, there are some dark and rather creepy bits...you better check it out first, I'm just saying. Otherwise you'll have a kid screaming in the middle of the night saying a ghost with a ripped off bottom jaw is dragging chains up the stairs and screaming in their face. You decide.

Yesterday, we again met for lunch then went the Birmingham Museum of Art to see the Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness exhibit from the Yale University Art Gallery. I had the great pleasure to take a group of library patrons to the exhibit last week where we had a special private tour of the exhibit from the head curator of American Art at the museum and it was FaBuLoUs! I tried to remember for Mom all of the inside stories he had to share about the artwork on display. The docents in the exhibit wear "Ask Me" buttons, but they don't wait to be asked. I really wanted to say, "Thank you but we had a private tour from Dr. B last week." Unfortunately, I'm not that brave so we were followed around and talked to most of the way. They were knowledgeable and polite, but I didn't really want the help and I sure didn't ask for it.

After we finished the exhibit, I took Mom around and showed her some of my favorite things from the permanent collections. We were in the pre-Colombian section when I heard the tale-tell sounds of a drip. In my previous manufactured home, affectionately referred to as the crack house, I developed severe roof leaks which have left me with a preternatural awareness of the sound of dripping water. I knew this was not a tick, but an actual in-the-room drip. I hunted the little bastard down and it was dripping directly on to the case for a 1000 year old (or somewhere thereabouts) Incan statue. I admit it, I lost it for a few seconds. 9-1-1 was very briefly considered before my rational brain took hold and I tracked down a museum employee. Before you could blink a veritable army of curators and custodians were wheeling the case aside, drying it off, then convening to stare in puzzlement at the ceiling. It did rain unceasingly yesterday and was very gusty as well.

My good deed for the day done (and, I admit, feeling quite proud of myself), Mom and I parted ways. She didn't want to drive home in dark AND rain and I had an invite to KT's for dinner. With a couple of hours to kill, I took myself to the movies and saw Law Abiding Citizen. It has a well-earned 23% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes but it's Gerard Butler so who cares. It could have been dubbed in Korean and I would barely have noticed and certainly not cared much. He'd better watch it though, and carefully consider the beleaguered career of Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Dinner at KT's was goat cheese, red wine, and ravioli. We drank and watched hilarious videos on youtube of Flight of the Conchords songs and people being stupid. I have included one for your viewing enjoyment!




Now, sadly, grown-up life intrudes and I must clean the house. It's beginning to look a little gross. Binky seems embarrassed.

With the Lightnings by David Drake


*sigh* Disappointment. I do like military sci/fi, honest. Witness my near fangirl love for the Old Man's War universe and Robert Buettner's Orphanage series...but With the Lightnings, I just can not love. The characters are okay but there are way to many paragraphs that end with something along the lines of "it was a matter of honor and Daniel Leary was nothing without his honor!" I put quotations on it but it is not a direct quotation, or maybe it is..I don't remember. I noticed in the Pub Weekly review that his name is listed as Cassian Daniels but it's Daniel Leary in the book. I have no idea why there is a discrepancy.

The book is described as a space opera and I'll go one step further and say space soap opera. Just too many episodes of pat drama where I could imagine a tight close-up of a face twisted with confusion and self doubt, some music swelling in the background. I also notice in this PW review the phrase "crisply delineated space-age equipment." I found it just as coherent as one of Tristan Tzara's cutup poems. I blame my inability to understand complex math and science reasoning. I struggled to finish as this book just did not resonate with me.

I'll let Amazon take it from here via Publisher's Weekly since they seemed to enjoy it more than I did.

From Publishers Weekly
Veteran military SF author Drake (the Hammer's Slammers series) launches an unlikely pair of star warriors at the far-future and evil Alliance of Free Stars, which is locked in mortal combat with the Republic of Cinnabar over the wealthy trading world of Kostroma. Cheeky young Cinnabaran Lt. Cassian Daniels has quarreled with his powerful and merciless father, who has tossed him out and left him to his own slim devices. Spunky young librarian Adele Mundy is the sole survivor of her Cinnabar clan, which was wiped out in a conspiracy led by the elder Daniels. After some colorful initial posturing, Cassian and Adele pool their familial pride and anti-totalitarian views in Cassian's impromptu first command, a scratch crew trapped ashore in an Alliance coup. Together they outwit (Cassian's doing) and outshoot (Adele's forte) the bad guys. Updating dashing Horatio Hornblower tactics and vintage John Wayne heroics with crisply delineated space-age equipment, a convincing extraterrestrial setting and formidably battle-hardened female NCOs, Drake gives a familiar plot a full measure of appealing derring-do. This surely shouldn't, and probably won't, be Cassian and Adele's last adventure together.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

satty

...another Saturday at work nearly done and thankfully it's been pretty slow. I'm petsitting so I have a steady block of Dirty Jobs to watch last night and who even knows what I'll find on the telly this evening! I don't consult lists or anything because then it would be too much like work. I'll just roam around and find something that catches my fancy...several things more like. I'll be back home tomorrow evening and then....*sigh*, then a whole week's staycation! Whatever will I do with myself? As I posted on Facebook last week, sadness is watching the very last episode of True Blood that Netflix can send you :-(

Maybe I'll order them all over again and start over as I don't imagine that Season 2 will be here any time soon. I could just read the books of course, and I will, but that takes a little time as there are a few others interested in the series right now as well. I'm equally sad because these are not widely available on CD...my preferred mode of hammering out some quality reading since I'm in the car, uninterrupted, for at least 2 hours every day.

Anyway, I am sorry to be so absent except for book reviews but my life has been fairly monotonous of late. Work, sleep, rinse, repeat...that's pretty much it. Hopefully the next week, in which I spend copious amounts of time with my mom, will yield some simply fantastic blogging fodder. Mom is usually pretty good for that, even if she doesn't know it.

And hey! I need to share Halloween photos too! Me and the new laptop will get that figured out immediately.

Gotta go. Time to shut 'er down!

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris


This great, fun little adventure is a book of what I’d call biographical essays. David Sedaris is funny, wicked, irreverent, and heartbreakingly honest about the pros and cons of growing up in a (to me) large and somewhat unusual family. I have only recollections of my own family with which to compare and we were an unusual lot too, but Sedaris’ kin are just a little farther out there.

From therapy for a lisp and guitar lessons with a midget to the fastforward existence of a life lived on speed and crystal meth and the ultimate in total immersion French lessons, Sedaris has done it all. I laughed out loud regularly while reading this and am definitely interested in reading some of his other work. Another similar book that I heartily enjoyed (maybe even a little more than this one) is Jenny Lancaster’s Pretty in Plaid.

Me Talk Pretty One Day is another bookgroup selection. This is what happens when you are in three bookgroups; personal reading takes a back seat to required. It’s kind of like being in school except there are not really any tests and you frequently are provided with wine and other refreshments. That’s school I can deal with and I’m fairly certain Mr. Sedaris would agree.

The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham


Kitty marries Walter Fane more out of a need to be wed before her dull and unattractive sister than from any great idealist love for the rather dour bacteriologist. When they journey to Hong Kong, Kitty rather quickly falls into an affair with a well to-do politician, Charles Townsend. Walter learns of the affair and offers her an ultimatum: travel with him to work in a cholera-ravaged village or he will pursue the public scandal of divorcing her for adultery.

When things with Townsend don’t go as she’d planned, Kitty is forced to travel with her husband to the afflicted village. Dealing with the specter of death and her husband’s cold disdain lead Kitty to many realizations about herself and her life.

My bookgroup at work is reading fiction set in an Asian country so I was thrilled with reading The Painted Veil because I loved, loved, loved the movie! Since the book is usually better than the movie, I picked it up with much anticipation. Just to top things off, the audiobook has a fantastic narrator!

Neither the book nor the movie has what I’d call a happy ending, but the movie ends on a much more positive note. I think, possibly, the book ends more realistically. TPV was published in the mid-1920’s so it has a sort of Great Gatsby feel to it, especially as Kitty relates her upbringing and how she came to marry Walter.

I waffled back and forth between liking and hating all of the characters at one time or another and I count that as a serious point in Maugham’s favor; to be able to make the characters so real and malleable. A spoiled, yet redeemable woman, an irreverent playboy, a rigidly reserved and complex man…such is the stuff of which good drama is made! I love this book and look forward to a re-read. I did listen to it but I do own a paperback copy as well and it is one classic I’ll be holding on to for future enjoyment.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

for sure not in kansas anymore

I LoVe indie horror! This is one making the festival circuit right now.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween!!

Is having the BEST time in a bar full of gay men!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins


The Hunger Games was an amazing book and the second in the series, Catching Fire, does even more to fire me up (pun intended) about this author’s work!

The books are set in a U.S. destroyed and replaced by the dystopic state of Panem. There are 12 districts ruled by the Capital. After the Capital ruthlessly destroyed the 13th district and put down the revolution by the other districts, it sets in place a method to lord over the defeated districts AND remind them of their place, the Hunger Games.

Every year, each district holds a drawing in which all children over the age of 12 must participate. From these drawings, each district must send two tributes, a boy and a girl, to the Hunger Games. The children must battle to the death and only one winner may be crowned. We meet Katniss and Peeta in the Hunger Games and Catching Fire is obviously a continuation of that story. The Hunger Games go on and the Capital is even more despicable, but there is unrest in Panem and all it may take is a leader spark the flame of rebellion.

Sorry to use so much fire imagery but you read this book and see if it doesn’t get to you. I am SO hooked and the thought that I now have to WAIT until next year for the third is driving me bonkers!


Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson


My book group was reading National Book Award winners so I decided to pick Tree of Smoke because it has been a long time since I’ve read any truly literary fiction, much less 614 pages of it. I started off listening to the book, and the narrator is great, but the story shifts perspective so effortlessly and the time periods (even within the same year) shifted around a lot and I was losing track of the story line. So, I checked the actual book out and things began to flow and I loved it!

This novel spans from 1963 to 1983 and is about the Vietnam War…or at least the war from Skip Sand’s perspective. The character list is pretty long and the plot not at all straight forward. You have Colonel F.X. Sands and his legendary exploits combined with a slightly shady association with Psy Ops now. No one seems to like him or to really know what he’s doing in Vietnam. Skip looks up to his uncle and wants to help out with Psy Ops but the colonel doesn’t let him do too much except look after three footlockers of notecards full of incomprehensible information. A Canadian missionary/nurse, two brothers suffering all the different consequences of wartime service, a Vietcong operative turning spy for Colonel Sands, and a handful of other characters keep the smoke thick and further obscure what’s going on.

Even after finishing this book, I can’t really tell you what it is about. It was dense and complex and hard to keep up with and I loved every minute of it. I don’t know who on earth I’d recommend it to. It is not a straightforward war novel. It is more a philosophical, somewhat stream-of-consciousness exploration of the tolls of war on the human psyche. The book’s customer reviews on Amazon pretty much sum it up.

5 Star-32
4 Star-13
3 Star-15
2 Star-17
1 Star-31

I don’t remember ever encountering a book where there is such a spread between love-it and hate-it. I loved it and I’d love to hear from someone else who enjoyed it though of course I won’t ignore you if you loathed it either.

Monday, October 26, 2009

! ! ! this just in ! ! !

someone called this morning and wanted me to send one of our books to another library system using the library card from that system...I wonder if she's ever tried to use her Macy's card at Sak's...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks


With World War Z, I have completed the R.I.P. Reading Challenge Peril the First (four books from any subgenre of horror by Oct 31st) and am edging ever closer to completing the 100+ Reading Challenge (100 book by December 31st) with a total of 89 so far.

For the R.I.P. Challenge my completed list is as follows:
A Good and Happy Child by Justin Evans
Chasing the Dead by Joe Schreiber
Eat the Dark by Joe Schreiber
World War Z by Max Brooks

World War Z is part political satire, part dystopian fiction, part zombie novel, all good! It is set up as a series of interviews with survivors of the Zombie War and you get a great look at this fictional Armageddon through their eyes. It wasn't exactly scary per se but many of the interviews were quite chilling.

My favorite interview was Arthur Sinclair (Alan Alda on the audiobook), who was in charge of retraining a usable workforce. Virtually all he had to work with was executives and consultants and the like who had no viable skills for the world after The Crisis. These people were having to be trained and managed by the very people who had cleaned their houses, repaired their cars, and maintained their existence before the infection spread....makes me want to go out and learn how to fix something.

I really enjoyed this book! It is not only an excellent work of zombie fiction, but also a unique lens through which to view our current world. It is amazing that something that has been made up in the mind of one person can be so capable of making my own world seem a bit more tenuous. I don't look on that as a bad thing. Now is as good a time as any to be more aware of what goes on around you.

! ! ! this just in ! ! !

One of our regular patrons (and one whom we are all friendly with, otherwise I would not joke with him) just came up and asked if Daxx would help him with a MS Word problem, so I said, "Two trains leave two separate stations at the same time going 30 miles per hour in opposite directions, how soon do they meet?"

To his credit, he didn't even roll his eyes.

that is all.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Orphan's Destiny by Robert Buettner


Orphan’s Destiny is the second in the Jason Wander series. I’ve already blogged about the first book, Orphanage. It’s hard to review a series without giving away too much but I will do my best. Jason Wander is in the book so obviously he makes it through Orphanage. He is grateful to be returning to Earth but has no idea the changes 5 years can bring but I can assure you he likes none of them. The powers that be want him to say the war is over but he just can’t bring himself to believe it. Jason feels he has no place and nothing to do in a world where the war is over (I’m simultaneously reading a Vietnam War novel and some obvious parallels struck me). The war is most definitely not over and Jason may be its only hope.

I still love this character and can hardly wait to start the next one. The is always a couple of pages of the next book in the back and I was all ready to come to work and check it out but, as usual, my bookgroups are pressing and I’ve GOT to get those three read before anything else!

Eat the Dark by Joe Schreiber


I’ve read one other book by this author, Chasing the Dead, and I really like him. Light and quick, just enough gore, thrilling, creepy but nothing that keeps me up at night…perfect Halloween reading!

In Eat the Dark, Mike Hughes is not too happy at having to work at the hospital on the last night it is open. All the patients have been moved out so pretty much all that’s left in the building is him, another doctor, the security guard, a nurse, some files, and hospital equipment. Don’t you think now is the perfect time to bring a convicted, depraved serial killer in for a last minute MRI? And of course he can’t wear those metal restraints in the MRI machine!

Mike is creeped out by Frank Snow’s presence in the hospital, anxious about his wife and son’s unexpected appearance, unnerved by the security guard’s assumption that he is having an affair with the nurse, and most especially, he is freaking out because Frank Snow has just passed him a note saying he can stay and do his job and take the consequences or he can take his family and leave now and be safe. Which do you think he chooses?

So, ALL the hospital windows have been boarded over, all the doors are locked, the power is out, and Frank Snow, convicted serial killer (of a decidedly Saw nature), is loose and strolling about.

Hope you’re not afraid of the dark.

Loved it! As I said before, it’s a quick read that doesn’t leave you jumpy and since I’ve been reading/watching a lot of scary stuff recently that is a blessing. I brought it on myself, I know… J

Friday, October 16, 2009

evening of cinema

Let me tell you how excited I am. Really, really, really, really, really, REALLY excited! Katie and I had originally planned to take today off to see a morning showing of The Road, then discuss what we'd seen over lunch, then see it again in the afternoon.

Yes, we like Viggo.

Alas, The Road was moved back to November 25th but we still wanted to see movies. Enter the Paranormal Activity fanaticism...with which I became ToTaLlY infected. I went to their website and voted for Birmingham with every email address that I have! And it's here! We bought our tickets online yesterday!

So, Zombieland at 3:20 and Paranormal Activity at 7:25

Yay!


made my librarian's heart sing

This librarian posted his response to a book challenge

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chasing the Dead by Joe Schreiber


So, Chasing the Dead.

Great literary journey? No.
Fun, gory, thrill ride? YES!

Susan Young gets a phone call.

"You have a very lovely little girl, Susan."

And the bottom drops out of her world. The voice on the phone instructs her to get a flashlight, the shovel from her tool shed, and some canvas sheeting. She is not to ask any questions. She has three minutes to be back in the car or the little girl's dead. So begins an all night horror fest that only begins with her digging up a dead body that she'd buried just as deeply as her own memory of why it was there in the first place. It seems she only thought the Engineer was dead. Tonight, the past will come to life in a way that she never dreamed could be true and that she's not at all sure she can recover from.

The ONLY thing that I didn't like about this book is the point of view. Is there such a phrase as "third person present". I don't know, it just kind of got on my nerves but the story was so much fun that I got passed that and moved into the mayhem. The ending is weak but it is his first book. I already have his next book checked out and ordered the new one! A great author to add to your creepy TBR list!

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen


To say that Auden West has led a sheltered life is a little bit of understatement. Possibly the worst thing about it is that she sheltered her own self...from her father's distant manner, her mother's constant analysis and judgement, her brother's wayward manner, and the friendships and relationships that made her uncomfortable. Now it's the summer before she begins college and that feeling of having missed something leads her to head to the beach for the summer to live with her father and his new young wife Heidi and her brand new baby sister Thisbe.

She should have known better. Heidi is not the perky person Auden remembers, Thisbe screams all the time, and of course her father is oblivious to it all, having shut himself in his office to work. Auden's insomniac ways lead her all over the roads and streets of the little town of Colby and she makes a ton of mistakes along the way, including getting a bit tipsy and hooking up with the very recent ex of one of the employees at her stepmom's boutique. That was an awkward situation to uncover. Soon enough, Auden runs into the only other lonely, insomniac resident of Colby and finds that there is more to life than academics and it is all just waiting to be experienced.

I LoVeD Along for the Ride! I believe it would be a decent read-a-like for Twilighters too! There is absolutely nothing of a paranormal nature going on with this but it is a slightly awkward girl who meets a dark, brooding guy with secrets of his own and the sweet stirrings of romance follow along kind of bumpily in their wake. I will definitely be reading another of Sarah Dessen's novels.

The Snakehead by Patrick Radden Keefe


The Snakehead begins in 1993 when a couple of National Park Police officers on a graveyard shift patrol discover a ship that has run aground just off the Rockaway Peninsula in New York. The ship, Golden Venture, is fully loaded with skeletal, malnourished Chinese illegal immigrants, many of whom have drowned in their attempts to make it to shore. The officers call in for backup and the media circus begins.

The actual story Keefe tells begins much earlier, with the discovery of gold in northern California in 1848 and the coming onslaught of railroad construction not long afterward. Keefe gives a brief but fascinating history of the Chinese in the United States leading up to the emmigration of Sister Ping to the U.S. in 1981. She came to this country to work as a domestic and soon ran several flourishing businesses which allowed her to bring her family to the U.S. as well. The family business, smuggling people, flourished as well. In 1960 there were 236,000 Chinese in America. By 1990, there were 1.6 million Chinese in the country. Sister Ping was flying in immigrants by the plane load at $30,000 or more per passenger. When the INS cracked down on the flights, she began to bring them by boat and that is where Sister Ping's story merges with that of the Golden Venture and its unfortunate passengers. What they went through, and continue to go through, is truly heartbreaking.

Keefe researched mountains of court and police interview transcripts as well as conducting untold numbers of interviews with everyone he could track down. There are extensive notes in the back as well as an index. I was excited to learn that a documentary (it is also called Golden Venture) had been made spotlighting the plight of the passengers of the Golden Venture and I look forward to watching it very soon.

Highly recommended!

Blood of Ambrose by James Enge

Blood of Ambrose is the book for my science fiction bookgroup this month. Young King Lathmar VII is ruler in name only of the Ontilian Empire. The late Emperor’s brother-in-law, and likely murderer, Lord Urdhven, appoints himself Protector to his nephew but he is no benevolent uncle. He sets out to kill anyone who tries to get between him and the King, but it is generally understood that the King will be the final victim and Urdhven can crown himself Emperor. Lathmar calls Ambrosia his grandmother to simplify the fact that she is several hundred years old so he’s not really certain what her actual title might be. Ambrosia sends Lathmar out to find her brother Morlock, but he is somewhat inept and is soon caught and returned to the castle. Ambrosia is tried as a witch and sentenced to trial by combat.

As Urdhven has conveniently had both of her hands broken, it is up to the local murder of crows to deliver Ambrosia’s message to her exiled brother. Morlock—stateless person, master of all magical makers, deadly swordsman, recovering alcoholic—arrives just in time to save her, sort of. Together, Morlock and Ambrosia try in their own ways to get Lathmar to mature into the ruler they really don’t hold a lot of hope that he can be. In the face of Urdhven’s continuous, and mysteriously backed, efforts to regain control of the kingdom, Lathmar needs to find strength and conviction to rule in his own stead.

If this sounds long and drawn out, it is and it was. I like fantasy and maybe I’m such a fangirl of GRRM that I tend to view all fantasy through that lens but this was not a terribly enjoyable story for me. There was a little too much going on a little soon and I really felt like I had been dropped into the middle of a long running series.

There were numerous brief mentions of VERY IMPORTANT things that had gone on in the past to make the characters the way they were but little or no follow through to engage the reader. There were footnotes about phases of the three moons of this world which pointed you to an appendix in the back where you found this: “The novel begins on 25 Remembering, A.U. 330. It ends on 18 Cymbals, A.U. 333. 48th Ring, A.U. 330: Year of the Hunter”. A list of similar entries follows, none of which I remember reading anything about in the book. I’m happy to see such thoroughness in world building, but there is no note or explanation about why these things should be important to the reader.

There were many parts in the book which I understood were intended to be amusing, but it was a stretch. And plus, IMHO, a book cannot be a comedy when it involves a dead, rotting demon-possessed baby giving orders to its undead army from atop the carcass of a dog with four human feet and a human face sewn on to it. I am not averse to dead, rotting demon-possessed babies in my fiction, but the attempts at humor along with that didn’t ring true for me and, truthfully, felt a bit bipolar. I like a bit of morbid merriment along with the best of them (take Greg Kihn’s Horror Show or Army of Darkness) but the novel just felt like two stories unsuccessfully merged. I hate to say it, but I’ll have to pass on future novels if this is a series.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

the great crap debacle


...otherwise, and from here on out, to be known as The Mad Crapper.

So, Daxx the Magnificent storms into the workroom. Two teenage boys, in two separate stalls, both managed to deposit a huge, noxious dump above the waterline....effectively sealing off the men's room for all other use.

Noises and giggling were reported from that area, Daxx and Jorge and were dispatched for reconnaissance, and the discovery was made. Unfortunately, the boys had vacated the bathroom by that time, as anyone with an olfactory system would do, so we had no physical proof of the crime without some sort of crime lab testing.

Anger. Anger.

Daxx flushed both toilets multiple times without success. KT draped the offending matter with a bunch of toilet paper so that water and suction could work its magic, but it splashed up on to the toilet seat. The poor cleaning crew will have to deal with the rest of it after the library closes.

How coincidental that this occurs so soon after the last grotesquery...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

random craziness

has anyone else who works with the public experienced a severe uptick in crazies lately? Cuz, let me tell you...the liberry is jumpin'!

Matt had a freaky Friday, Katie got broadsided this morning, and this evening I had an old lady call, WAILING and SOBBING, babbling about missed appointments and dinner was supposed to be tonight and it got mixed up with Tuesday (or the reverse, I couldn't understand her very well) and she was trying to make it right and nobody would just answer the phone and what was she going to dooooooooooooo?!?!?! Can't you just help meeeeeee?!?!?! I said, "I'm sorry ma'am, but what is your specific question?"
OL: I need to speak to somebody RIGHT NOW but no one is answering the phone. I need to speak to someone at The Club RIGHT NOW!

Me: Ma'am, this is the library.

OL: I know, but they're not answering the phone. I want to speak to someone directly RIGHT NOW! *wails and sobs again*

Me: I can look up the phone number for you. Are you talking about the country club or The Club?

OL: *escalated wails and sobs* NOOOOO! NOT THE COUNTRY CLUB! THE CLUB!

I googled the number and gave it to her. She sobbed and hung up. Hope it was the right one.



.....and RIGHT NOW dear readers? Right now, creepy bowlcut fireman is walking across the library blowing various wet and chunky bits into a cloth hanky. It sounds like some sort of bizarre elephant mating ritual. Is it ever okay to blow snot out of your nose right out in public? An unexpected sneeze I can fully understand, but this is a five minute, chunky, wet, particulate-ridden nose blow.

Get this straight, John Q. Public. I've seen what you leave in public toilets and sinks not to mention what you'll just casually walk around and do around other people.

Frequently, you are gross.

that is all.




Monday, October 5, 2009

Proust was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer


I've raved about Jonah Lehrer and his books before so I won't expound yet again, just click through if you'd like to see my previous post. I'll just say that I enjoyed my second and third go-arounds with Proust was a Neuroscientist just as much as I did the first reading. This time I was reading AND listening to it to. It's a great audio if you are a fan of such things like I am.

I talked one of my bookgroups into reading this and our meeting is on Thursday! There are no discussion questions so I'm currently hard at work making up my own AND I'm going to make madeleines (you've seen my first attempt here in late september)!

Dramarama by E. Lockhart


The cover and the inside cover copy for Dramarama reeled me in:


Two theater-mad, self-invented

fabulositon Ohio teenagers.

One boy, one girl.

One gay, one straight.

One black, one white.

And SUMMER DRAMA CAMP.

It's a season of hormones,

gold lame,

hissy fits,

jazz hands,

song and dance,

true love,

and unitards

that will determine their future

--and test their friendship.

This book was all that I wanted it to be and I enjoyed it immensely! These two friends are determined not to be held back by their small town roots and go after the exclusive summer drama camp with everything they have. Sayde is seeking to get rid of her shy exterior to release the bigness and razzle-dazzle she has inside while Demi is looking for acknowledgement of his talent and his first chance at a romance not frowned on by his parents and community. They both find all they could wish for and more at the Wildewood Academy for Performing Arts Summer Institute.


This book reminded me of one of my favorite movies (so sue me!), Center Stage and another sort of theater-centered book I read early in the year, Suite Scarlett. Funny, mostly light-hearted, and inspiring!