Monday, May 28, 2007

Dreamgirls (movie)

Yes, I finally got around to seeing Dreamgirls last night. It was a good story, and Jennifer Hudson can really sing, but I really didn't LIKE any of the characters. Effie was a prima donna, the other girls were just too willing to do whatever the men told 'em to do, and most of the men were either druggies (Eddie Murphy), cold calculating jerks (Jamie Foxx's character) or spineless (the guy who played Effie's brother). And frankly, the movie could have been shorter and still gotten the point across... (but that would've meant they couldn't shoehorn all those musical numbers in.)
Instead of Dreamgirls, I recommend another movie about the music scene in the '60s -- Grace of My Heart with Illeana Douglas. Now *that* movie is amazing.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Some Nerve by Jane Heller

Not bad, not bad. A nice frothy bit of escapism, and it was written pretty well too. It took me about an hour to skim through and hit all the high points. An enjoyable Sunday afternoon read.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

What's Al Gore Reading?

There was an article in the May 28, 2007 issue of Time Magazine. I had to laugh at myself, because while I did skim the article, I got very excited when I saw that the picture included with the article was of Mr. Gore sitting in his office, in front of his bookshelf. Oh joy! I could look at the books on his shelf and see what he has been reading! (I saw a copy of The Dilbert Principle by Scott Adams, along with a lot of other books I'd never heard of, most of which would undoubtedly be way over my head.)

Were it not for the Internet, I might never know that I am not the only person who enjoys looking at other peoples' bookshelves. There are several Flickr groups full of hundreds of people who upload pictures of their bookshelves. Check out and and you'll be treated to a smorgasborg of bookshelves. Or do a search for books by color to see the radical way that some people shelve their books by color, not by subject and/or author. Oh Melvil Dewey, you must be turning over in your grave right now.
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Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlen

I really enjoyed this book. Anna Quindlen writes a biweekly column for Newsweek and she comes across as a down-to-earth, practical and compassionate member of American society. Rise and Shine is the story of two sisters living in New York City. The younger sister, Bridget, is a social worker in the projects in the Bronx, and Meghan, the older sister, is the high-powered star of a nationally-syndicated morning show. The book is narrated by Bridget, and at first you think that she is the sister with more problems, but slowly you realize that maybe Meghan's life is not as great as it appears.

I found this book to be well-written, moving, heartbreaking, and ultimately redeeming. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

YALSA releases Teens Top 10 2007 ballot list

YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association, in case you're curious) just released the ballot for the 2007 Teen Top 10 Books. During Teen Read Week this coming October, teens can vote for their favorite books. As I scanned the ballot, my eyes halted at the description of Shannon Hale's book River Secrets. The blurb says: "Razo is one of Bayern's weaker soldiers. He is sure he is only on the important Tira mission out of pita." Wait, what? Out of pita? What is this, some sort of coming-of-age tale about bread products? Or could it be the nefarious spell-check daemon has struck again? Pita is, after all, a word, though I doubt it's the word that was meant here. I'm pretty sure he's only on the mission out of pity. But maybe it'd be worthwhile to read the book -- because maybe it is all about the bread products.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani

Wow, what a great book. It really gripped me and was almost impossible to stop reading. Every time I picked it up, I got sucked right back into the action. What did I like about the book? Well, I loved the narrator. Lucia Sartori is a talented seamstress in the early '50s in New York City. She lives with her big Italian family, and she works at B. Altman with a bunch of other talented women. She isn't sure whether she wants to get married because it probably means she would have to give up her career. I loved reading about her big family. I loved reading about the fashions of that era -- how people dressed up even to go to the grocery store. I loved reading about her.

What I didn't think worked so well: the beginning and the end of the book, which are jarring to me because they are told from the perspective of Lucia's young neighbor, who is the person to whom Lucia, now in her 70s, is telling the story. But if you can ignore those parts, the rest of the book is a terrific read. (Or heck, you might even like those parts.)

Looking forward to reading more Trigiani! The joy I feel in discovering a new author that I like reminds me of a strip recently published in Unshelved, the comic for librarians (bet you didn't know we librarians have our own comic strip to read!): Seven Stages of Falling In Love with an Author.

Friday, May 18, 2007

What Got You Here Won't Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith (business book)

What holds you back in life --  at your job, or in your personal life? Goldsmith's premise is that even successful people can have behavioral traits that keep them from achieving even more. By framing his book in terms of behavior, instead of in terms of personality traits, Goldsmith makes it clear that he believes people can change their behavior and how they act around other people -- but only if they choose to.
I really enjoyed reading this book. I saw a lot of things in the book that other people around me fall prey to, which makes me wonder -- which of these things do I do that I'm just not seeing? (It's that whole Johari window concept -- it's a lot easier to point out what is wrong with OTHER people than with yourself. "Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but don't notice the log in your own eye?")

Polly and the Pirates by Ted Naifeh (graphic novel)

My evil friend Tara recommended this awesome graphic novel to me. Why is she evil? Because this is the first in a series and the second one hasn't come out yet, so I can't find out what happens to Polly next. This was a really fun, entertaining book. Polly is a proper young lady in boarding school who is abducted by pirates who tell her that her mother (who died when Polly was young) was Pirate Queen Meg. The pirates need Polly's help in locating a missing treasure map. At first Polly is all prim, proper and prissy, but after a while she begins to cut loose and really revel in her pirate-grrrl side. Give it a try, I think you will enjoy it! Just don't blame me when you finish it and begin jonesing for the as-yet-unpublished volume 2.

Orbit by John Nance

I wanted to like this book. I really did. I saw a really good review of it in a catalog I respect. But first I had a hard time with it because it was written in the present tense, which I find kind of jarring. "Kip is stirring his oatmeal. He thinks to himself, 'I am stirring my oatmeal.'"  It would have taken me some time to overcome that, but then Kip was having marital problems and he was ogling this woman who was helping him prepare for his trip into space... frankly, it felt kind of like a male version of a romance novel/thriller, and I just couldn't get past the 20th page. But I'm sure SOMEONE will enjoy it!! Just not me.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Wave Hill Gardens in New York

My mom and I took a bus tour to Wave Hill Gardens in New York City today. It was GORGEOUS, let me tell you. Lots of birds, bees, beautiful flowering trees, and ample opportunities to take pictures (which we did with abandon. Digital cameras are great.)  And the best part was that someone else made all the arrangements and did all the driving. Know what that means? Yes! It's true! I got to read on the way there instead of paying attention to traffic. It was great. We signed up for the tour through the Chatham Adult School, and I am already looking forward to when their fall catalog comes out so we can plan a few more trips.

The Chamber by John Grisham

Sadly, I just couldn't quite keep up the momentum to get through this thriller. Maybe I just wasn't in a Grisham mood, but the characters didn't grab me and I only made it through the first 100 or so pages. (Of course, I then read the end to see how things turned out. I am a bad, bad person.)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Boy Who Was Raised By Librarians by Carla Morris and Brad Sneed (kid's book)

Trisha, my pal and a children's librarian herself, recommended this delightful book to me. Melvin is a curious child and he knows right where to go for answers. The three librarians at Livingston Public Library are always delighted to answer his questions throughout his childhood and adolescence. Why? Because "that's what librarians do." The ending is delightful and the book is charming and fun. (Okay, yes, as a librarian I may be slightly biased, but still. Read it!)

That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown by Cressida Cowell & Neal Layton

Meredith recommended this cute book to me because I'd said I am a big fan of Knufflebunny by Mo Willems. Emily and her toy rabbit Stanley (isn't that a great name for a rabbit?) spend their days going on adventures and having a great time. But the Queen is jealous and she keeps trying to persuade Emily to give Stanley to her. A very enjoyable read!