Hi, I'm Mrs. F-B!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

To be read pile - holy cow!

OK, I knew I had a lot of books on the pile for summer, but I guess I didn't realize just how many there were...Here are two pics of my (and Hummer's, I guess) TBR piles! Which ones do you think I won't read???

Are you doing your summer reading???

So far I've read three books - how about you? Need the details? Click
here for everything you need to participate in WOMS Summer Reading!

Also, don't forget you can still sign up for Multnomah County's Summer Reading program. Use all the same reading for both programs and get double prizes. Plus you might win a trip to Disneyland if you do the Multnomah County program!! Just stop by any library branch to sign up if you didn't get signed up at school.

Models Don't Eat Chocolate Cookies - Erin Dionne

Do you think I wouldn't pick up a book with chocolate cookies all over it AND written by an ERIN?!? Of course I would! And I was not disappointed.

This book is a fairly new one in the WOMS library - I bought it at the last book fair. It's the story of 13 year old Celeste, who is overweight, due in large part to her obsession with chocolate cookies. Sad to say, I can relate to that obsession which is why I NEVER, EVER buy Oreos. (Luckily, I can always count on my sister-in-law Christy to bring them to every family event. One of the many reasons I love her!)

Celeste is having some struggles at school because of her weight - other kids bully and tease her. I know this happens, but still every time I read a book that has something like this in it, I feel uncomfortable. And actually, I think that's a good thing. I hope kids have the same reaction and that it makes them think about things they say or do or watch others say/do without stopping them. The final straw for Celeste is when her aunt submits her application for the Miss Husky Peach modeling contest. It's enough that Celeste is bigger than most girls, but does she need to parade around about it? She's thinking NO WAY, NU-UH, NEVER!

But she can't summon up the courage to say no, and even when she does try to say no her mother isn't listening. So she goes along for the ride, thinking she'll just sabotage her chances instead of telling her mom no. One of her means of sabotage is actually trying to make more healthy choices about eating using her eating journal (yeah, health teachers!)so she can lose twenty pounds.

This novel has a lot of issues wrapped in it that teens are dealing with. Crushes, self-esteem, appearance, friends, bullying...and although it's an ambitious pile of issues, Ms. Dionne does a great job pulling it all together. I think I'm gong to suggest this one to our mother-daughter book club. Lots to talk about!

If you'd like to read more about this author, click here.

Available at the WOMS library and the Multnomah County Library.

The Glass Castle - Jeanette Walls

This was an incredible memoir which I listened to on my iPod over the last week or so. (It kept me awake on a solo drive to Bend!) Jeanette Walls is a very successful reporter working in New York now, which is a great, but not terribly amazing. But reading this story and finding out about her path to get there makes it and incredibly amazing fact.

Jeanette Walls grew up poor like most of us have never personally encountered. Often the places she live were dilapidated and sometimes even downright dangerous. For much of her life she had no indoor plumbing, sometimes having to go out and dig a hole in the hillside to go to the bathroom. She was often hungry. One story she relates is of a time when she and her sister ate a stick of butter for dinner because that was the only food in the house. Many days she dug through the garbage cans in the lunchroom or bathroom at school to find something to eat. She often went without a warm coat or shoes that fit. IT is an existence I cannot even imagine.

The relationship she had with her parents is also something I can never imagine. Her parents were certainly not caretakers of their children (she has three siblings). Even though they could have worked to support their family, buy them food, clothes, mattresses, they chose not to. Her father actually did work sometimes, but he was an alcoholic, and this would often lead to him losing his job, so his income was not steady. And generally he drank away whatever he did earn, so it wasn't that helpful anyway... Her mother worked very infrequently as a teacher, but basically felt that her children should be able to take are of themselves. She had her own things to worry about.

And yet, in spite of all these obstacles in her way, Jeanette Walls made it! It's an incredible story. What is also incredible is that she's not bitter or blaming - things I am nearly sure I would be if I were in her position.

As a teacher I think this was a really good book for me to read, because although I hope my students are not in such extreme situations as Jeanette was, I am sure I'd be surprised, and I want to keep this in mind. I expect kid to come to school ready to learn, but what if they come to school just hoping to get some food out of the garbage can. How can I expect them to be ready to learn? And how can I make a difference for them? I want to think about this. As a librarian I want to keep this story in mind as well, because Jeanette and her family found a lot of refuge in the library and books, and I want my library to be that kind of place. A place where kids who need a refuge, who need resources, can get them, whenever they need them.

I read an interesting interview with her here, which gives some different perspective on issues that I was thinking about as I read. I think reading this book has made me think more about others, and any book that does that deserves a recommendation from me. This one definitely does for high school readers and up.

Available at the Multnomah County Library.

Report for Murder - Val McDermid

An author friend of mine, Chelsea Cain, who writes AMAZING murder mysteries (for grown-ups) suggested this author as one of her favorites at a recent book reading I attended, so I thought I'd check her out. It was nothing like Chelsea's work, much more slow going and mellow, but I liked it a lot. It's set in England with a Scottish reporter as a writer who turns into a detective when someone is murdered at the all girls boarding school where she's gone to do a story on their fundraising efforts. There were not many grisly moments in this novel, nor many that were too scary, but there was certainly tension that kept things moving.

I'll definitely be reading more of this author's work.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Contest announcement for Sarah Dessen fans

Want to win a copy of Sarah Dessen's newest novel, Along for the Ride? I know I do, which is why I entered the contest over at Susane Colasanti's blog. If you'd like to win, all you have to do is go to her blog and make a comment about which of Sarah's books is your fave and why. Pretty easy, hey? Here's the link! Enjoy!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Poetry Friday - "Sonnet 43"

My husband and I will celebrate our 20th anniversary next week, so for the last poetry Friday of the school year, I give you (and him), this most beautiful love poem. Happy anniversary, my love!

How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

2 books with so many similarities

Rules for Hearts - Sara Ryan
Sweethearts - Sara Zarr

OK - SO many strange coincidences between these two books that I somehow started reading at the same time.

1) Both have HEARTS in their names
2) Both have authors name Sara (and neither have an H)
3) Both have long lost boys who've been "found"
4) Both have female main characters with things in their pasts they haven't shared with many (or even any) people
5) Both the boys disappear for periods of time in the novel and no one knows where they are adding a layer of mystery to the present in addition to the past.

Both of these books are a bit heavy, not typical "pink" books, surely, but both are very well done and were interesting stories. The stories, incidentally, go in very different directions despite their similarities. I just found the coincidences so interesting, especially since I was reading both at the same time.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Lulu in Marrakech - Diane Johnson

I found this title on a recommended list and I listened to this book on my iPod. I have to say I was sorely disappointed. The plot didn't move along much, the main character wasn't very like-able, and the conclusion was non-existent. It didn't even seem like one of those stories where there's going to be a sequel so they just drop you off on the side of the road. It just ended. Very disappointing and highly NOT recommended.

Not Anything - Carmen Rodrigues

No picture available for this one, sorry.

I really enjoyed this book! It's sad and sweet and a nice addition to our Hispanic literature collection.

16 year old Susie lost her mother several years ago, and now it's just she and her dad living in Miami and they don't really communicate very well. And for Susie, keeping herself insulated from most people (and the pain she might face if she loses them too) is working just fine. Or so she thinks.

When her English teacher Mr Murphy asks her to tutor Danny Diaz, Susie isn't very interested in the job. He keeps after her though, and finally convinces her to take on the case. But when Danny begins to break open the hard shell she's carefully constructed, will Susie be able to let him in?

This is a bittersweet coming of age compounded by the death of a parent, again something I've not had to deal with. It has some of the same themes as What Girls Learn by Karin Cook and Define Normal by Julie Ann Peters.

All three of these books are available in our library.

Something Maybe, Elizabeth Scott

Hannah is a smart girl, but she's making dumb boy choices. WHY do girls so often do this? They get wowed by the super hottie, and the super sweetie, the much better choice, obviously, gets left standing in the rain. It does make for a good story, however, which is what you have here. Throw in a mom with an, um unconventional job, a dad who's a famous star but doesn't have time for his daughter unless he wants something, and you've really got the fixin's for some action.

Of course Hannah would prefer that no one even know she HAS parents (as is the case for most adolescents I think, but really, really so much worse for Hannah). She does everything she can to keep them under wraps, but when your dad's famous this can be tricky. Especially when he tricks you. I felt bad for Hannah because she just wanted her dad to love her for her, and it seemed like that was just too much for him. I so cannot even imagine this kind of situation because my own experience was so far opposite of this.

Pick up this story at the public library to determine whether Hannah eventually sees the error of her ways with the boys or not.

Sophomore Switch - Abby McDonald

I received this book in my mailbox one day from the book elf. Whoever you are, publisher, publicist, author, real elf...thanks so much!

Tasha (American girl) and Emily (British girl) are both looking to escape. Tasha made a huge mistake at a party and now there's a video all over the Internet with her on it - and it is NOT flattering. Emily's boyfriend has dumped her and her parents are very high pressure people. What better way to avoid your problems than moving to another country for a college exchange program? Well, maybe these girls could think of about 100 ways now that they're living each otehr's lives, but it's too late.

Wild child Tasha feels stifled and way over her head academically at Oxford. Strait-laced Emily thinks the academics are a blow off and all the people are shallow at UC Santa Barbara. Neither one has really made any friends. This exchange isn't really working out to be all that they'd hoped for. Finally, in desperation, they start e-mailing one another for tips to survive, even they don't even like each other (based on what they know of each other, that is). This turns out to be quite helpful in helping each one to fit into her environment, but in the end, is it really a good idea?

If you want to find out, this book will be available soon at the Multnoamh County Library and the BHS library (it's a better choice for the high school library, and I'll be sending it up there).

I really enjoyed reading it. Thanks again, book elf!

Sweet Life - Mia King

This is an adult book that I saw on another author's blog. When she talked about it, it reminded me of another book I read recently (The Last Time I Was Me), so I checked it out from the Multnomah County Public Library. It was a nice, easy read, with great character development and enough of an unknown to keep me really interested.

The premise of this story is that a family has moved to Hawaii from New York on the spur of the moment, and instead of the paradise they've expected to find, the couple finds their marriage disintegrating. He moves out, and she stays in the (moneypit of a) house they've bought. Their young daughter stays with the mother. In order to cover expenses, Marissa (the wife) must take boarders in to their home, a prospect which she finds a bit frightening. The results of this bold move, however, turn out to be exactly what she needs and the friendships she forms sustain in her during a time when she is floundering as she's never done before.

Throughout the story, there is a possibility that the two will reunite, but the possibility that they will not is just as likely. This is what really kept me reading. I don't find too many authors who can develop the tension in such an unpredictable way outside of mystery authors.

A lovely book that I definitely recommend for a summer read.

Julia's Chocolates - Cathy Lamb

This is a book by the same author who wrote The Last Time I was Me which I really enjoyed. Both of these are adult books. I did not like this book quite as much as the first, however. IT took me too long to get into the story, and also the woman was fleeing a relationship with a man who abused her, and it is difficult for me to read about these things.

I also did not agree with some of the choices this woman made. I could kind of understand where she was coming from, but it was so clear that she was doing the wrong thing, I had a hard time being sympathetic.

There were some things I really did love about this novel, however. One was the library where she worked, and where she befriended two young children who were clearly in need of a friend. Unfortunately, I think there are lots of kids who are not getting the care they need from home, and I am happy that some of them can find solace in libraries (but I'd rather they didn't have to!). I also loved some of the crazy characters in this story, and the powerful relationship she had with her aunt who she's come to live with. And the yummy chocolate references, as always, made me salivate!

If you have to choose to read only one Cathy Lamb book, I'd choose The Last Time I was Me, but this one is also good.

My Life in Pink and Green - Lisa Greenwald

Lucy's mother and grandmother own and run a local pharmacy. But now's not the best time for a small, local business like that, and the business is failing. Lucy, however, is sure she can come up with a plan to save the business. Enter pink and green. See Lucy has some skills in the "pink", meaning girly, area. She's really good at doing hair and make-up, and tehy just happen to sell that stuff in the pharmacy. She's also really good at coming up with clever "green" marketing ideas, which of course are always popular.

Put the two ideas together with the persistence of a bulldog (Lucy) and you know that while the pharmacy might not make it in the end, it will at least have a fighting chance.

I really enjoyed this book by a member of the Class of 2K9.

Being Nikki - Meg Cabot

Time to catch up on my blogging. I get super busy with school stuff at the end of the year, so I have been neglecting my blogging. well no more! Today is the day I vow to catch up. hang on to your hats, kiddies, cuz here we go!

I am a HUGE Meg Cabot fan, but I have to say I didn't adore Airhead, the first book in this series as much as I have loved most of Meg's other books. I liked it, though, and I was definitely sucked in enough to want to know what happened next, so you can imagine how excited I was when Meg Cabot said on her blog that if you wanted a review copy, all you had to do was ask. How nice was that? But then she sent it a few weeks before the actual release date and said if we read it early we weren't allowed to blog about it until the official release date! That was kind of brutal. Of course I could have written it and scheduled the post to appear, but I wasn't organized enough. Obviously, since I'm just getting to it now!

Can I tell you that this book was WAAAAY better than the original? Because it was WAAAAY better than the original! That's pretty unusual, I think, for a second book to be better than the first in a series. My theory about this one, though, is that I had to have some time to come to terms with what had happened to Nikki, and it took me a whole book to get to the place where could handle it. Se what happened in book 1 was that Emerson Watts, an average looking but pretty smart girl died, and so did Nikki, a supermodel with shall we say less than the sharpest smarts...But really, only Nikki's brain dies and only Emerson's body died, and then the doctors did a whole body-brain transplant thing. See why it was a little hard for me to believe. I mean, come on. But I guess we might be getting to the point where it could happen. Well, maybe not anytime immediately or anything, but not that far from now. Maybe.

So anyway, Em didn't know any of Nikki's friends or how to be a supermodel or anything, and she didn't really WANT to, either. But she's had no choice. In this installment, Being Nikki, I'd come to terms with the whole transplant thing, so I could just go with it, and it was a pretty exciting story. I do admit I wanted pop Meg Cabot one, though, at the end of the novel. How could she just leave us hanging like that?? WAY unfair!


2 pink books - not too good :(

I have been on kind of a bad streak with the books I've been listening to on my iPod lately, which is very disappointing. (Currently, however, I've got one that's better, thank goodness!).

These were more books I got from a suggestions list. I think it was "If you liked Bridget Jones's Diary then you'll like these". I really did like that book, but I guess it must have had something these didnt' These two books weren't terrible, and both had some funny parts, especially Altar Egos, but overall, they just weren't that great.

The titles were

Man Eater by Gigi Lavangie Grazer and Altar Egos by Cathy Lette.

These books are ok beach fare, but not on the top of my recommended list.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Poetry Friday - "At the Library"

I can hardly wait for the long days of summer when I can lounge away my whole day reading - by the pool, on the back deck, sprawled on the living room couch...you get the idea. And of course I'll be heading to the library to get a lot of my reading materials and to participate in the Multnomah County Library's Summer Reading program (they have one for grown-ups, too!)

At the Library

It’s fun to look
for a special book
And then to sit
And look at it.
You turn the pages one by one
Until your special book is done
And then --
go find another one.

- Sharon Siegelman

The Man Who Walked Between the towers - Mordicai Gerstein

This is a children's book which won the Caldecott a few years ago. I picked it up after watching the movie Man on Wire which is a documentary of Philippe Petit's 1974 literal walk across a wire that was strung between the Twin Towers in New York City. The movie was fascinating. This guy is a crazy man. But a crazy man with the best balance of anyone I have ever seen. It was amazing.

The book is a children's book, so the story itself is fairly simple, but the drawings are outstanding. It has some pages that are foldouts, so the drawing is three pages long. It's really cool.

A very interesting story about a man who had an idea and followed it through, no matter the obstacles.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Wings - Aprilynne Banks

Mrs. Frisk invited me to go to the Supernatural Summer author visit at Barnes and Noble with her the other day, and Aprilynne Pike was one of the four authors speaking. It was a fun event, but it was kind of strange for me to hear four authors speak when I'd only read one of their books, this one.

This is a fairy (or faerie in this book) story, and you know fantasy is generally not my genre, but my general rule is that as long as there are more real people parts than fantasy parts, I'll give it a go. Such was the case with Wings, a story which I really enjoyed.

Fifteen year old Laurel is in her first year in public school, and she's pretty nervous about how things will go. Luckily, she meets some nice kids right off (not sure how realistic that is), including David. David's a super smarty in science, and it turns out Laurel really needs him as a friend because not too far into the book she begins blooming. For real. As in a giant flower is sprouting from the middle of her back. She has no idea what to do, but she decides, of all things, to tell David about it. Not her parents, but a boy she barely knows. Again, not too sure how realistic this is.

David, being the science guy that he is does a little investigating. And you know what he discovers? He discovers that Laurel, who is named after a plant, eats only vegetables and fruits and drinks only Sprite, is not actually a girl. she's actually a PLANT. Right down to the square cells and the clear "blood" and the lack of a heartbeat. Wow! that's kind of different...

There's a whole second layer of the story as well having to do with some property Laurel's family owns that's very important to the faerie world as well as a fairy who's got some romantic interest in Laurel and who, consequently, is not a big fan of David.

Although there were parts of the story that were not too realistic, the whole faerie thing notwithstanding, I found myself enjoying this story and looking forward to the sequel. I've ordered this book for the library so it will be available at WOMS in the fall.