Friday, August 29, 2008

The first step is always to admit that you have a problem.

My name is Mary, and I have a problem. Yesterday I took 2 paper-bound books plus my Kindle to work with me (plus my spare book that is always rumbling around in the back seat, JUST IN CASE).  I stopped at a used bookstore on my way to my grandmother's and bought 2 books. When I got to work, six books that I had reserved through inter-library loan had arrived (okay, 2 of them are picture books so that won't take long). Then our box of advanced reader's copies came in. (Boy was Pat excited to find the latest P.D. James and Michael Connelly in there. I know what SHE is doing this weekend. But I digress.) So I added to my pile an Advanced Reader's copy of a book I've been hearing a lot about. Then while I was creating the new acquisitions list for this month, I noticed a new Linda Barnes had come out and we owned it! (Plus it was on the shelf.) Well, I haven't read any of her mysteries for a while so off the shelf and into my bag it went.
Total books brought to work: 3 (plus a spare)
Total books brought home from work: 12 (plus a spare)
Net gain: 9 books, one herniated back from lifting a very large overstuffed bag, and a realization that I have a serious problem.
But I'll deal with that later. Now I have to go finish my book. (One of them, anyway.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall (kid's book)

I adored this charming, funny little kid's book. It reminds me of a book I used to read over and over when I was growing up - Five Little Peppers and How They Grew -- only a bit more contemporary. Four sisters and their intrepid dog ("Hound") have all sorts of adventures on their summer vacation. I highly recommend this wonderful book.

Babymouse: Monster Mash by Jennifer & Matthew Holm (kid's book)

Babymouse and Halloween - what could be better? Yet another terrific book in the Babymouse graphic novel series for kids.

The Laughter of Dead Kings by Elizabeth Peters

Another Vicky Bliss novel?! FINALLY! I have been waiting since Night Train to Memphis (1994) for more Vicky Bliss novels. I devoured this in one sitting. It was terrific - just what I would expect from Ms. Peters. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner (kid's book)

Skippyjon Jones is a young Siamese cat who dreams about being "Skippito Friskito, who fears not a single bandito" (picture a cat-like Zorro, wearing a mask). This cute picture book is a lot of fun and would be a great read-aloud for parents to read to their young kids.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bad Kitty Gets A Bath by Nick Bruel (kid's book)

This book made me giggle helplessly. Anyone who's ever dealt with a cranky cat will get a huge kick out of it. Nick Bruel not only writes well, but as an illustrator, he also catches that special disgruntled look that only cats have perfected. I can't wait to read the earlier picture books he wrote, Bad Kitty and Poor Puppy.

Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

Oh man, now I have to wait for the 5th book in this series along with everyone else! Hurry up and publish it, Mr. Riordan. I can't wait to find out what will happen next in this wonderful series.

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

Some parts were pretty funny but on the whole I agree with most of the reviewers -- this is not Sedaris' best work. I remember when I read Naked, one of his first books -- I laughed so hard I nearly peed my pants. This one is definitely not like that. In fact, Sedaris seems more thoughtful and sad in this one than he has in previous ones.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Flap Art

If you are like me, you spend an inordinate amount of time craning your neck in public places trying to see what people are reading. If you are one of the people who finds this behavior annoying and obtrusive, I apologize, because I can't stop doing it. I also can't stop myself from striking up random conversations with people who are reading books that I like, even though it's clear that they only want to be left alone to read.

To shield yourself from prying eyes (and also play a practical joke on people who are prying), you might want to check out Flap Art at
Some of these are mighty funny.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Sea of Monsters and The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan

Dang, I adore this series! Rick Riordan can really write. I am currently working my way through the fourth book in the series, The Battle of the Labyrinth, which I practically had to wrestle out of some poor kid's hands (he had just returned it, actually, and I snagged it out of the book drop immediately). This is one of those series that is just as much fun for kids as for adults. And I get a big kick out of talking about these books with kids - and then hearing what other books they think I should read as well.

Yay, Percy Jackson and the Olympians! Rick Riordan, please hurry up and write the next book in the series. Meanwhile I will continue savoring Book 4 until I have to finish it. Then I may go back and re-read the whole series again. That's how awesome it is.

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

Thanks to Deborah for recommending this great fantasy novel to me. She was describing it to me, and I thought it sounded interesting, but then she mentioned it was written by the guy who wrote Alcatraz and the Evil Librarians and I knew it had to move to the top of my list! Well-written, interesting and hard to put down. I'm looking forward to reading more of his stuff.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Reader's Bill of Rights

From Better Than Life by Daniel Pennac
The Reader's Bill of Rights
1. The right to not read
2. The right to skip pages
3. The right to not finish
4. The right to re-read
5. The right to read anything
6. The right to escapism
7. The right to read anywhere
8. The right to browse
9. The right to read out loud
10. The right to not defend your tastes

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (kid's book)

I've been hearing about this book for a while now and finally, after reading Vampirates, I thought I'd give this one a try.  WOW. It was fantastic. It completely lived up to the hype I'd heard about it. I couldn't put it down.
Rick Riordan knows how to keep your attention - probably due to the fact that he has been a middle school teacher for several years. This book was interesting and funny and sad and everything good.
The funniest part for me: when the hero and his co-questors attempt to enter Hades, only to discover that it looks like a toll plaza on the Jersey Turnpike and there are three lines to enter: two regular lines and one EZ-DEATH (which is the one moving fastest, of course).
My chief disappointment is that this is book one of a series, and I only checked out the first one from the library. Now it's Sunday and the library is closed, and none of the books are available on Kindle or I'd download the second one right now and start reading! Dag nab it.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

I am grateful to my friend Melissa for mentioning the title of this book while we were sitting around last Sunday reading the papers (she was reading the New York Times Book Review). The title was intriguing enough that I downloaded the first chapter as a sample to my Kindle, and by the time I'd read the first 500 words I was hooked. I have always loved books that are written in the form of letters written between people ("epistolary novels," though I've never been able to pronounce that word). This book is fantastic - letters between a novelist living in post-WWII London and the members of a literary society on the Channel Islands, which had been occupied by the Nazis during the war.
I literally could not put this book down. I read and read and read until I was finished. I highly recommend it. If you're interested in reading more wonderful books in the form of letters, I would also recommend 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff and of course the wonderful Daddy Long Legs (and its "sequel," Dear Enemy) by Jean Webster.

Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean by Justin Somper (kid's book)

Thanks to my friend Trisha for recommending this terrific book to me. The characters are well-rounded, the plot interesting, and I think this book could be really popular with tween boys and girls alike. Newly orphaned twins Grace and Connor must contend with pirates and with "vampirates" in this page-turner. I recommend it highly - and have already downloaded both sequels to my Kindle!

Monday, August 04, 2008

The Handholder's Handbook by Rosette Teitel

Subtitled "A guide for caregivers of people with Alzheimer's or other dementias," this is a very straightforward and useful book. The author's husband suffered a slow decline with Alzheimer's, and she shares the wisdom and knowledge she learned through their last years together.
For me, since I am dealing with a grandmother with dementia, I found chapter nine "The Child Speaks" to be most helpful. It contains some interviews with children whose parents suffered from dementia, and really helped me feel that I am not alone in the thoughts and feelings that I have been experiencing.

Nothing to Lose by Lee Child

Another satisfying Jack Reacher thriller by Lee Child!

Moscow Rules by Daniel Silva

Dang, I do love a good Daniel Silva thriller. (And I've never read a bad one.) When I found out that a copy of this book was available at my local library branch (a browser's copy - first come first served) I jumped out of my chair and raced over there so I could grab it before anyone else did. I managed to stop myself from reading into the wee hours to finish it that very night, but it was difficult. If you haven't read Daniel Silva you are in for a treat, and although they don't have to be read in order, I would probably start with the first one about his recurring Gabriel Allon hero, The English Assassin

How to Be Useful by Megan Hustad

A fascinating look at the world of "how to succeed in business" literature and how it has changed over the past century or so. This is not only a great guide for people just starting out in the workforce, but also for us old geezers who've been out in the trenches for awhile. Everyone can pick up one or two things that are useful from this book - which is the whole point! Loved it.