Saturday, October 31, 2009


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


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.


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!

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

Teddy is a U.S. Marshall and he and his partner Charlie have arrived on Shutter Island to investigate the possible breakout of one of the criminally insane patients at the asylum, Ashecliffe Hospital, that makes its home on the island. Teddy quickly realizes that all is not right. The patients he interviews seem coached, the orderlies and doctors know more than they're letting on, and no one really seems concerned enough about the woman who has disappeared. The more he investigates, the more Teddy comes to realize that events are conspiring against his being able to leave the island at all.

OMG! I would love to talk to anyone who has read Dennis Lehane's Shutter Island! I've been reading about the movie for months and have seen the previews quite a bit in the last several weeks as well. I wanted to read the book before I saw the movie and I am SO glad I did. I can hardly wait to get this book into my patrons' hands at the library. It was not spooky and creepy as I once imagined that it would be, but it is a tense, tightly plotted, suspenseful thriller that I was pretty sad to finish. I've got another of Lehane's novels, Mystic River, on my TBR list now!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

! ! ! this just in ! ! !

Patron: What Ellis Peters' books do you have that I haven't read?