Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Book Thief

This book was apparently the "most talked-about book of 2006", so I must have been asleep that year. This book has won numerous awards, including the Printz for 2007. I don't know that I can say that the book was "life changing" like the NYTimes said it could be. But, I will say that I am forever enriched because I read it.

I should say up front that I loved it even though I didn't find it particularly "fun" or easy to read. I knew next to nothing about the book before I started reading it, and I know I won't do it justice trying to tell you about it anyway. But, I think it is useful to know what kind of a book you are getting yourself into because you need to be in the right frame of mind before you start reading it: The story is narrated by Death and is set in WWII Germany. Death follows the life of Leisel Meminger (the book thief), her foster parents, and other members of the town of Molching (near Dachau) during those horrific years.

The book was just extraordinarily well-written. Zusak's use of foreshadowing, irony, imagery, and figurative language were awe-inspiring. I definitely think this will be on my Top Ten list for 2008. Highly recommended.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Everything Bad is Good for You

This was another book for my social software class. The subtitle is How Today's Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter. Basically, the author argues that video/computer games, the Internet, TV and movies are not just feeding stupidity to the masses. Instead, they have important upsides including developing our logic and problem-solving skills.

Here's the thing: There are still only 24 hours in every day. When you add in all the things you "should" get done during the day--sleeping, eating, working, reading and what ever else you have going on in your life, the question remains--how much time do you really have left over for popular culture? I have a few hours a week. And, quite frankly, if I'm being fed stupidity during that time or intellectualism I really don't care. I just want to enjoy myself.

I think this is one of those books that while I'm not convinced about everything the author has to say, the arguments were interesting and it was a good exercise to think through how quickly we dismiss popular media as "bad". An easy read for nonfiction and certainly very relevant.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A to Z Author Meme

This meme has been going around the book blogging world so I thought I would throw my two cents in.

A - Archer, Jeffrey - Kane and Abel
B - Brooks, Geraldine - People of the Book
C - Coelho, Paulo - The Alchemist
D - Diamant, Anita - The Red Tent
E - Earley, Tony - Jim the Boy
F - Fforde, Jasper - The Eyre Affair
G - Green, Terence - Shadow of Ashland
H - Hale, Shannon - Book of a Thousand Days
I - Ihimaera, Witi - The Whale Rider
J - Jacobs, AJ - The Year of Living Biblically
K - Krauss, Nicole - The History of Love
L - Llewellyn, Richard - How Green Was My Valley
M - Meyer, Stephenie - Twilight
N - Napoli, Donna Jo - Zel
O - Orwell, George - Animal Farm
P - Piccoult, Jodi - My Sister's Keeper
Q - none
R - Ragen, Naomi - Sotah
S - Smith, Dodie - I Capture the Castle
T - Turner, Nancy - These is My Words
U - none
V - Vanderbes, Jennifer - Easter Island
W - Winspear, Jacqueline - Maisie Dobbs
X - none
Y - Yezierska, Anzia - The Bread Givers
Z - Zafon, Carlos Ruiz - The Shadow of the Wind

Which Twilight Character Are You?

Thanks Rae for the link.

Which Twilight novel character are you?

You're Rosalie - Image is important to you, you want to show off your best assets, and you have a lot of them- you think! You are also intelligent, which many people might not expect since you seem to be all about looking pretty. But deep down you're caring person that wants what most people in life desire: to be loved.
Take this quiz!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Bloggers and Readers Unite!

Hi everyone!

I would like to formally invite you to come and join a social network for book bloggers and book readers. You'll find the link here at I set this up using Ning where anyone can create their own social network for just about anything. Why not books?

Advantages of joining:
  • Meet new bloggers
  • We can hang out in one centralized location
  • By double posting your blogs, we can use the search bar to search all of our content in just one search. e.g. I want to know who has read Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day and what they thought about it. Type "Pettigrew" into the search bar, and a list of all the bloggers who have mentioned it with their posts will appear.
  • Increased exposure of our blogs
  • Authors/publishers can find us in one spot
  • People who love to read but don't want to maintain a blog consistently, can keep a log with their thoughts on their Book Blogs page.
  • It's free and it's fun!
Please feel free to leave any thoughts or recommendations on how we can improve the site. Come check it out and feel free to spread the word!

View my page on Book Blogs

The Miracle at Speedy Motors

Can you believe this is the ninth installment of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency? I just love Precious Ramotswe and the supporting cast of characters in Alexander McCall Smith's series set in Botswana. There is nothing earth-shattering about these books. They are relaxing, enjoyable, and entertaining. I feel transported to another place when I'm reading, and yet despite the marked cultural differences, the problems that plague all of us are the same.

There are three or four main plotlines to this book. One thread revolves around the foster daughter, Motholeli. We get further development into the impending nuptials between Mma Makusti and Phudi Radiphuti. Mma Ramotswe is sent threatening letters. And of course, there is a case to be solved.

I highly recommend this series. It makes for great light reading. Has anyone read of any of his other books? I haven't and I'm dying to know if they are just as good.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Other Boleyn Girl

As I mentioned previously, I was really interested to see what I thought of this book after hearing such mixed things from my book club friends and after reading such mixed reviews from my online friends. I kind of feel like Simon Cowell after Randy and Paula have had their say: "I actually agree with...Paula."

'Tis true. I liked it. I told myself I had to read 100 pages a day if I was going to get done before book club this Wednesday and I liked it so much that was no trouble at all. There are two things that may have influenced me:

1. I love historical fiction, period.
2. Historical fiction, set in England where I've spent 6 years of my life, is just icing on the cake.

Having said that, it has been awhile since I've thought of the Tudors, so a lot of the story was "new" to me. I made myself stay away from Wikipedia for the first 500 pages so I didn't ruin too much for myself. I did have "Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived" running around in my head though, so I knew how things were ultimately going to end up.

The story is told from Mary Boleyn's perspective, and her character definitely grew on me. I thought the story of Henry VIII's court was well-crafted and researched. It is a story of ambition and sex, and how the women in the family were used to further the family's power and influence. So, based on the main thematic elements, I understand where it may not interest some people at all. It was a touch overdone for me, and I kind of think that Gregory put all of the most scandalous theories out there and rolled them into one book. My only other gripe is that it all ended quite abruptly, but I think that may have been the author's intention. I just wanted a little more closure.

I'm really quite excited to see what book club is like this week. This may be the first book we have strong opposing opinions about, so it should make for a good discussion. Anyway, I will definitely be checking out more of Gregory's works in the future.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What Leaders Need to Know and Do

I am so not suggesting you need to run out and read this book. But, I did--so I'm blogging it, dang it.

One thing I find hilarious about this book, is that while Amazon itself won't sell you the book, an Amazon seller will for the measly price of $159.95 (+$3.99 shipping).

K, this book is 80 pages long--that's $2 PER PAGE!

I had to read this for my management of library and information centers class. And, I have to say that if you are really into business management theory and leadership, it is a really good summary of what makes a good leader (35 competencies to be exact). There is also a scorecard and matching DVD so you can keep track of what areas you need to develop as a leader. I could see using this if I managed a small group of people. I think it is a useful exercise to see what strengths and weaknesses people have and also, probably most importantly, to be fair about where you can improve yourself.

Anyway, if you would like to check out Dr. Ruben's book I would suggest purchasing from the publisher directly for $32. I'm off to undercut that Amazon seller. I think I'll list it for $158. ;)

Monday, April 14, 2008

The 13th Reality: The Journal of Curious Letters

Yay! I finally finished a book. Dan and I read all but the last 100 pages or so out loud to each other on the drive back home. You bet I finished it today before he could! I've never read a book before by someone I knew...and the strange part was that I could hear the author's voice while I was reading it. It definitely has James' humor infused throughout. My six year old was laughing from the back seat when he heard a reference to underwear.

You know you've read a good book when you are MAD that it is a trilogy and you have to wait to find out what is going to happen next. The bulk of the story follows Atticus Higgenbottom as he receives a series of 12 clues that he glues into his Journal of Curious Letters. He has to solve the clues and prove himself worthy of something that will happen in the future...he just doesn't know what that is!

The action definitely takes place in the last quarter of the book, but I enjoyed the setting and character development. One of my favorite things about the book is that parents are actually involved, and are alive and well. No dead moms, evil stepfathers, or hiding from unsupportive parents (OK, so he hides from the mom, but not the dad). It is refreshing to see a supportive and loving parental role model put faith in his son.

I'm definitely looking forward to the next installment.

Appropriate for ages 9+.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Over My Head

I've over-committed myself reading-wise this month. I'm in the middle of three books, and I really need to get started on a fourth.

I'm about 1/4 the way through Emma. I became a total Jane Austen slacker. I haven't even watched the new Sense and Sensibility on PBS yet!

I'm nearly 1/2 way through The 13th Reality: The Journal of Curious Letters. Dan and I read it out loud to each other in the car on the way to Florida last Saturday. A classmate of ours from the BYU accounting program wrote it (talk about a career change!) and we are really enjoying it.

I've also started The Book Thief for this online book group I just joined. I am finding this book quite fascinating, and I'm so excited about the book group. It's just that it isn't exactly light Spring Break fare.

Finally, I need to get a move on The Other Boleyn Girl for my in person book club this month. I have heard totally mixed reviews about this book, and I'm a little apprehensive as to what I'm going to think.

In the meantime, I just came across this list and decided I've got even more reading ahead of me if I want to create the "perfect library".

Perfection may have to wait.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians

From the book description:

A hero with an incredible talent...for breaking things. A life-or-death rescue a bag of sand. A fearsome threat from a powerful secret network...the evil Librarians.

Alcatraz Smedry doesn't seem destined for anything but disaster. On his 13th birthday he receives a bag of sand, which is quickly stolen by the cult of evil Librarians plotting to take over the world. The sand will give the Librarians the edge they need to achieve world domination. Alcatraz must stop them! infiltrating the local library, armed with nothing but eyeglasses and a talent for klutziness.

I had to read this book once I saw the title. (This soon-to-be librarian does not want to be lumped into the evil category, thankyouverymuch.)

I think I had perma-grin the entire 300 pages.

Brandon Sanderson, author of the Mistborn series (which my husband is loving), has written this hilariously witty children's book, appropriate for kids starting at about age 9. Some of the humor will be appreciated more by older kids and adults (I'm sure there's stuff I missed!), but it's definitely a book for all ages. I'm also excited to see Alcatraz's adventures continue. Sanderson has five books slated for the series in all.

And yay, this means I completed The Journey for the Once Upon a Time Challenge! On to Quest the First...