Thursday, June 30, 2011

Some Local Library Love: Orem Public Library

Well, as some of you may know (I haven't mentioned it in, like two days) I moved recently.  I grew up in Utah and I couldn't leave my home town without giving a shout out, with my Libraries Around the World feature, to my childhood library.  This is the place where I grew up on words.  These are the stacks where I checked out every Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley Twins, Boxcar Children, and Babysitters Club book religiously.  My love for libraries was born and raised in the walls of this place.  It fed the fires of my book-lust and also, in later years, the fires in my pockets when I got a job there as a page.  But enough of the ridiculously overblown praise.  I took a few photos of this nostalgic building before we left.  It didn't always look like this, having received a few make-overs in the years since I caressed Nancy's yellow bindings (well, sometimes they were more of a grayish brown...).  But it will always hold a special place in my heart.  Or something like that (oh the cheese in this post is simply delicious).  I introduce you to the unimposing, but well-beloved Orem Public Library.

Many a time I remember running up those spiral stairs. It was like being in a book. A book with a castle and a fabulous collection of kids reading material.

Speaking of straight from a book, these windows are one of my favorite things. Done by a local artist, they span one entire wall near the collection of fairy tales (which, by the way, is quite extensive). They were not there for my early years, but I remember when they were put in. At least, I remember being completely jealous that one of my friends was a model for one of the characters in the window. Details, details.

And here's a close-up of one part. Not a very interesting part, but my hubby took the photo, so blame him. It's not even the part that my friend modeled for. Still, love these windows. And love this library.

What memories do you have of your "first" library?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Book Review: Jane Austen: A Life Revealed by Catherine Reef

Jane Austen: A Life Revealed by Catherine Reef
Publisher: Clarion Books
Publication date: June 2011
ISBN: 978-0547370217
Source: e-ARC provided by NetGalley

Jane Austen: A Life Revealed

Jane Austen has remained a household name for hundreds of years, an author many readers love to love.  But how much do we actually know about this historical figure?  Catherine Reef creates a biography of this mysterious woman, whose feelings and thoughts come to us only in bits and snatches. 

Things I Liked:
Yeah, I know that description was pretty crappy.  I'm not much good at non-fiction descriptions.  I enjoyed reading this biography.  Despite my being such a huge fan of Austen, I've read very few biographies about her.  I know quite a bit of the "facts" about her life, simply from online reading and such, but I wasn't as certain about other aspects of her life.  This was a good introduction to what we know and what we don't know about Austen.  I particularly appreciated that Reef clearly avoids speculation and other theories about why her letters were burned or what happened during some of her romantic escapades.  It was helpful also to get more of a perspective on the general historical time period.  A good biography for those just getting their feet wet in the Austen world.

Things I Didn't Like:
I wasn't that thrilled with the summaries of her books, which seemed sometimes to draw me out of the narrative, but which might be helpful for those who haven't read them.  It was also pretty short and I didn't think it was very original in its insights, but I'm definitely not an expert.  I became a bit frustrated with the format of this e-ARC, which I read on my Kindle and the images were absent or interrupted the text obnoxiously, but this was entirely the fault of the Kindle.  I looked at the images on the computer and they were fabulous.  I really liked what they seemed to bring to the story as well.  Good intro for younger fans of Austen.

Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin

Jane Austen: Her Life And Letters, A Family Record by William Austen-Leigh
Becoming Jane Austen by Jon Spence

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: none

Overall rating: ***

Do you have a favorite biography or other non-fiction book about Austen?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Book Review: Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis

Posted as part of Tween Tuesday, hosted by GreenBeanTeenQueen.
Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis
Publisher: Atheneum
Publication date: April 2011
ISBN: 9781416994473
Source: ARC sent by publisher

Kat, Incorrigible 

Ever since their mother died, people have been hoping Elissa, Angeline, and Kat, will not take after her.  Especially their stepmama, who nearly faints at the word magic.  But, when Kat discovers she might just have taken after the mother she never knew, she is determined to use her abilities for good.  Like saving her sister from marrying a potential wife-killer and finding a way for both her older sisters to marry who they want.  

Things I Liked:
Reading this book was a frolicking good time!  I loved Kat and wanted to know more about her and read more about her antics.  She is spunky, unconventional, and also still learning about family relationships.  Her determined choices are so fun to watch unfold and I couldn't help but laugh at her mistakes and cheer at her triumphs.  It was a fun historical fantasy read complete with sweet romance and hysterical characters.  Can't wait for more from Burgis (sequel Renegade Magic out next April).

Things I Didn't Like:
I was actually expecting more tricks and craziness from Kat than I got.  Perhaps I had higher expectations for this book than I thought, but I wish she had done a few more incorrigible things in society.  Still, I enjoyed every minute of the read and kids are sure to love watching Kat get out of scrapes.

Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

Kat reminded me a bit of Anne of Green Gables and Flavia de Luce

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->
some very minor perilous experiences

Overall rating: ****

Who's your favorite spunky, incorrigible heroine?
If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Monday, June 27, 2011

Listless Monday, Dress Up Edition

Listless Monday was inspired by both Amanda at A Bookshelf Monstrosity's feature Books by Theme and Court at Once Upon a Bookshelf's Listed feature.  Be sure to check out their lists!

Well, I've been having a hard time coming up with good ideas for lists recently, and this idea isn't exactly an original one, but I figured I may as well throw it out there.  I've noticed that a lot of covers recently have gorgeous dresses on them, so, here are a just few I find fantastic:

Dress Up Edition

The Luxe Splendor: A Luxe Novel (The Luxe) Envy (Luxe, Book 3)

Rumors: A Luxe Novel (The Luxe) Princess of the Midnight Ball Princess of Glass

Entwined The Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles) The Vespertine

Unearthly The Crimson Thread: A Retelling of "Rumpelstiltskin" (Once Upon a Time)
The Lightkeeper's Ball (A Mercy Falls Novel)
(Suggested by Inside a Book)

Any additions?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Friday, June 24, 2011

Retro Friday Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie of Angieville and "focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc." 

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 2005
ISBN: 9780375842207
Source: personal copy (reread for book club)

The Book Thief

Guys, I really struggled with a summary of this book.  I just don't think it's possible for me to write it well enough.  But here's what I will say: story of a young girl growing up in World War II Germany.  All told from the narrative perspective of a compassionate Death, Liesel's story will break your heart and lift your spirits at the same time.

Things I Liked:
Does this book really need more gushing?  Could I possibly be able to say anything new about it?  Probably not.  I'll just say, if you haven't picked this book up, you really should.  The writing alone is worth the read - gorgeous, different, vivid and expressive, it will make you think differently about nearly everything you know about WWII Germany.  The story itself is slow to unfold, but you become acquainted with the characters and fall in love with them, and then suffer when they do.  It is a rich, detailed and simply lovely story, with such a unique and intriguing narrator that you will find yourself flying through the pages.  Read it.  And then read it again.  And again.  After meeting Markus Zusak, I loved the story even more.  Some of the many, many parts I loved:

I could introduce myself properly, but it's not really necessary.  You will know me well enough and soon enough, depending on a diverse range of variables.  It suffices to say that at some point in time, I will be standing over you, as genially as possible.  Your soul will be in my arms.  A color will be perched on my shoulder.  I will carry you gently away.  At that moment, you will be lying there (I rarely find people standing up).  You will be caked in your own body.  There might be a discovery; a scream will dribble down the air.  The only sound I'll hear after that will be my own breathing, and the sound of the smell, of my footsteps.  The question is, what color will everything be at that moment when I come for you?  What will the sky be saying?  Personally, I like a chocolate-colored sky.  Dark, dark chocolate.  People say it suits me.  I do, however, try to enjoy every color I see - the whole spectrum.  A billion or so flavors, none of them quite the same, and a sky to slowly suck on.  It takes the edge off the stress.  It helps me relax. p 4
She was the book thief without the words.  Trust me, though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like rain.  p 80
Many jocular comments followed, as did another onslaught of "heil Hitlering."  You know, it actually makes me wonder if anyone ever lost an eye or injured a hand or wrist with all of that.  You'd only need to be facing the wrong way at the wrong time or stand marginally too close to another person.  Perhaps people did get injured.  Personally, I can only tell you that no one died from it, or at least, not physically.  p 111
Yes, the Fuhrer decided that he would rule the world with words.  "I will never fire a gun," he devised.  "I will not have to."  Still, he was not rash.  Let's allow him at least that much.  He was not a stupid man at all.  His first plan of attack was to plant the words in as many areas of his homeland as possible.  He planted them day and night, and cultivated them.  He watched them grow, until eventually, great forests of words had risen throughout Germany....It was a nation of farmed thoughts.  p 445
Things I Didn't Like:
This being my second time reading it, I was struck again by how many swear words there are.  Mind you, many of them are German, but the religious exclamations also made me uncomfortable, but I don't think they'll bother many people.  I know it didn't detract much from the beauty and bitterness of the story for me.  Also, it really isn't a short book and might be a bit hard for those who can't invest much time and effort into the reading, but know it will be worth it if you can.  

Honestly, not much like any other WWII book I've read, but try  

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne 
Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli 
Hitler Youth by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

s-factor: !@#
as mentioned above, mostly German or religious

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->->
not a lot in number, but necessary as part of the story

Overall rating: *****

Anybody out there not read this book?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Book Review: Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Blood Red Road by Moira Young
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry (Simon & Schuster)
Publication date: June 2011
ISBN: 9781442429987
Source: e-ARC provided by Galley Grab

Blood Red Road (Dustlands)

When Saba's brother Lugh is kidnapped and her father killed, Saba is willing to do anything she can to get him back.  She's determined to cross the wasteland she's always lived in and find him, so things can return to normal.  But things become complicated when she is forced into an unwilling daily battle for her life.  Can she escape from this new tortured existence, with the help of a mysterious group called the Free Hawks, and possibly the intriguing Jack?  And more importantly, will she ever see Lugh again?

Things I Liked:
Oh this was a such a great story!  Not only that, but I fell in love with the main characters.  Those two, Saba and Jack, had me smiling and laughing in the middle of a depressing and painful story.  Saba has this great voice and character that you can't get out of your head, and I started to think and talk like her, because I got so into the story.  This will grip you from the beginning to end.  Start reading for the awesome dangerous futuristic world and keep reading to know more about Saba.  Really well done.  Can't wait for more from Moira Young.  Here's a taste:

What was that fer? he yells.
Fer kissin me! I yell.  An don't you dare do it agin!
Oh don't you worry about that, he says, I'd rather throw myself over that waterfall!
He picks hisself up.
I'd rather sleep naked in a nest of scorpions! he says.
He stomps off, leadin Ajax behind him.
I follow with Hermes.
My lips is tinglin. p 326 of ARC
Things I Didn't Like:
I was only bothered with the phonetic spelling and lack of grammar and quotation marks a few times.  Which is surprising.  Honestly, what I kept thinking about was how hard it must have been to edit it!  Great, great book.

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

s-factor: !@
some, but not a lot

mrg-factor: X
just kissing, really

v-factor: ->->->
there is some action violence and fighting

Overall rating: *****

I've heard people say the phonetic thing bugged them. Not so much with me. What about you?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Week (or Two) Late and Many Photos Short...

I believe I am the very worst when it comes to recapping bookish events I attend.  Usually this is blamed on my sincere inability to bring a camera.  Truly, it's because I just don't know what to say about them.  They are always awesome and I really love to meet authors, but for some reason telling y'all about them seems impossible.  Still, I wanted to mention that I had the very great privilege of meeting four authors during the Dark Days of Supernatural tour.  

Divergent (Divergent Trilogy)I'm not going to lie that moving from the great state of Utah where there always seem to be hundreds of awesome author events going on made me feel sad.  So, I was pretty pleased that I had this consolation prize fairly soon after moving to Arizona.  It was held at the Changing Hands bookstore, which I was super happy to finally visit. 

The authors

Josephine Angelini (Starcrossed)
Ellen Schreiber (Vampire Kisses)
Aprilynne Pike (Wings series)
Veronica Roth (Divergent)

Illusions (Aprilynne Pike)...were all really nice.  And really entertaining.  I don't know how they do it, but all the authors I've met seem to have an innate ability not only to write, but to entertain as well.  Most of the event was simply taking questions from the attendees and I loved that.  They answered some fun questions about their books, writing, as well as random stuff.  And here is where you realize another thing about my write-ups - I don't remember specific things said.  All I really remember is enjoying the company, listening to people talk about literary things and the love of reading.  It makes me happy.  

StarcrossedAnd, of course, it's always nice to meet them, even if I still haven't written out some flash cards that will help me start conversations.  I usually stick with smiling widely and saying thanks when it's all over.  When I open my mouth, I usually end up wishing I'd stuck with the wide smiling.  

Vampire Kisses 8: Cryptic CravingsAnywho, I didn't meet any blogger folks, though afterward I saw some much more thrilling and well written write-ups of bloggers who were there.  Maybe next time I'll meet them.  Maybe.  If you want to see photos and hear more about what they actually said, visit I'm a Book Shark and Late Bloomer Online.  Much more entertaining.  

But at least now I can stop feeling guilty that I didn't mention anything about it.  And I can go back to being jealous of all my old Utah friends who get to see Ally Condie and Ally Carter.  That's like Ally squared awesomeness.  Sigh.

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Book Review: Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Posted as part of Tween Tuesday, hosted by GreenBeanTeenQueen.
Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publication date: October 2010
ISBN: 9780385738835
Source: Library

Moon Over Manifest

When Abilene is sent by her daddy to spend the summer in Manifest, she isn't too thrilled.  Her daddy's never sent her away before and Abilene is unsure how she'll fit in to the town.  But, it's only for the summer.  Staying with Shady, the temporary preacher for the last fourteen years, she discovers a box filled with letters that lead her and her new friends on a spy hunt.  But the letters aren't the only source of history she has.  Miss Sadie, the town's fortune teller, is also telling stories from Manifest's past and Abilene is hoping her father will show up in some of them.  Maybe then she can figure her father and herself out.

Things I Liked:
I can sure see why this won the Newbery.  The writing is quite beautiful and I was really transported back to the 1930s and to the first great war.  The story is beautifully woven, incorporating details from Abilene's present as well as the history of Manifest and her daddy's past.  The characters are endearing, particularly Sadie and Shady, both fantastically flawed people that you can't help but cheer for.  Just an all around well written and researched book.  Can't wait for more from Vanderpool!  Here are some favorite parts:

Hearing Gideon tell about it was like sucking on butterscotch.  Smooth and sweet. And when he'd go back to not saying much, I'd try recalling what it tasted like.  Maybe that was how I found comfort just then, even with him being so far away.  By remembering the flavor of his words.  p 1-2
Miss Sadie's place wasn't quite as scary in the daylight.  It had gone from being a full-fledged den of iniquity to a sorry excuse for a house.  Grass and weeds snuck their way up through the saggy porch and all around the sides of the house, giving it the scruffy look of a week-old beard.  If this was a ghost house, it looked like that ghost had lost his job and all his savings along with the rest of the country.  p 53
I thought I knew a thing or two about people.  Even had my list of universals.  But I wondered.  Maybe the world wasn't made of universals that could be summed up in neat little packages.  Maybe there were just people. p 144
Things I Didn't Like:
I think this one will not have much in the way of kid appeal.  The jumping around in stories and the slow moving plot will deter those who aren't particularly fond of historical fiction.  It may even have that effect on those who are fond of it.  Definitely a book that will be loved more by adults.


Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm
A bit like Born to Fly by Michael Ferrari

s-factor: !
some, but not many

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->
some intense parts, but nothing too frightening

Overall rating: ****

While I love a good historical fiction, I kinda wish more fantasy books won Newbery awards. What do you think?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Monday, June 20, 2011

Name That Book, Episode 14

Name that Book is a biweekly game where you get to guess a book title from the photo clues.

Here's another week of book puzzle guessing fun! I think these ones are a bit too easy, but oh well. Leave your guesses in the comments.

Book 1:

Book 2:

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage
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