Saturday, December 29, 2007

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians - Brandon Sanderson

hahahahaha. fun-ny. ok, from the front flap, "a hero with an incredible talent... for breaking things. a life-or-death mission... to rescue a bag of sand. a fearsome threat from the powerful secret network that rules the world... the evil librarians." if that doesn't make you want to read a book i'm sure i don't know what will. of course it could be because i'm a librarian that i find that so funny. anyway, this is absolutely ridiculous fantasy/science fiction writing of the highest calibre for kids. even if you're not a kid anymore it's still a really good read. i learnt all sorts of things, like that dinosaurs aren't really extinct, but they are so useless you rather wish they were, and that stairs are much more advanced technology than elevators. of course, all of this information is being kept from you by evil librarians who wish you to remain ignorant. hahaha.

Zane's Trace - Allan Wolf

a novel in free verse. is this becoming more popular lately (see Crank)? the story is told from zane's pov. zane, a high school senior, suffers from epilepsy, which he describes like a werewolf transformation. he has been living with his grandfather since his schizophrenic mother committed suicide and his father walked out on them when he was still small. after his grandfather's death zane makes the decision that he is going to kill himself on his mother's grave site in zanesville, ohio. so, armed with an antique pistol, a case of mountain dew and a box of sharpies, zane sets off in a stolen '69 barracuda. along the way the story takes a decidedly supernatural twist. to some extent it feels like a play on that old urban legend about the guy who picks up the hitchhiker... ok, i won't say anymore, i don't want to ruin it. i enjoyed this book, and because it's in free verse it's actually a lot shorter than it's page count. if i were to be brutally honest though, i really chose the book because it has an absolutely brilliant cover (speaking of brilliant covers, "king dork" also has a brilliant cover and definitely deserves to be read. written by one of the guys from the mr. t experience. good punk band.).

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Bartimaeus Trilogy: The Amulet of Samarkand - Jonathan Stroud

move over harry potter. wow. what a great book. d. had suggested this series to me this summer, saying that although it is a children's book the demon (title character bartimaeus) was in possession of a very dry wit, and a love of footnotes. who doesn't love a good footnote (if you, like me, also happen to enjoy a good footnote, please check out "the impartial recorder" by ian sansom)? this is the story of nathaniel, an 11 year old magician in training. nathaniel is very self-righteous and very sure of his abilities. unfortunately he happens to have a bit of a dullard as a master. when nathaniel's pride is injured by the magician lovelace he vows revenge. revenge is to be had in the form of bartimaeus, a fairly powerful and sly demon, whom nathaniel conjures in order to steal a powerful magical article (the amulet of samarkand) from lovelace. thusly, are nathaniel and bartimaeus (much against his will) drawn into a web of magical intrigue.

the book bounces back and forth between being told from bartimaeus' pov and nathaniel's pov. nathaniel's entries tend to move the plot along, though i enjoyed them rather less than bartimaeus' chapters (which have footnotes. did i mention the footnotes?). i really think this book could give old hp a run for his money, but it unfortunately never found quite the popularity. it also made me laugh when reading this, to think of all of the anti-magic hysteria that harry potter inspired. imagine of the same crowd got a hold of this book, which has demons. this makes harry potter's magic look like sunshine and lollipops.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Last Chance to Eat - Gina Mallet

aside from fantasy books featuring various dark entities, my other favourite genre happens to be food writing. anthony bourdain, jeffrey steingarten, i don't care, if somebody writes a book about food i will probably want to read it. and then eat the things i read about. so i picked up "last chance to eat" from the library. touted as being a more serious foodie's version of "super size me" and "fast food nation". i won't lie to you, it started off very good. the chapters on eggs and cheeses are excellent. and i learnt that pears are only ripe for about 10 minutes. how true. have you ever tried to catch a pear at optimal ripeness? it's no easy task. however, by the time i got to the final chapter, which happened to be about fish, i think mallet had run out of steam, and it just seemed rather rushed. and then (and then!) she finishes up with this absolutely bizarre george orwellian vision of the future of global cuisine. very sci-fi, very weird, and very out of place in what was more of a series of reminiscences. so, a pretty good food book, but not my favourite. if you want something really good check out taras gresco, or the above mentioned jeffrey steingarten, or even (surprise!) ludwig bemelmans' "when you lunch with the emperor".

Vampireville - Ellen Schreiber

i love this series. it is such goth trash. the third book in the vampire kisses series sees the town previously known as 'dullsville' being redubbed as 'vampireville', by our teen goth protagonist, raven. this time she and vampire boyfriend alexander must stop the nefarious twins jagger and luna from turning soccer jock bully trevor into a creature of the night. with just as much superfluous name dropping as schreiber's previous efforts: "i unplugged my nightmare before christmas alarm clock.", "luna pulled out a pinky paranoid clutch purse from behind the basket." unfortunately, most of the goth brands mentioned in the book are completely made up, so they can't help you pull together the ultimate dark look. however, despite that, this is a great fun read if you are in the mood for some fluff with a little bite (oooh, that was a really bad joke).

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Palestine - Joe Sacco

last year deborah ellis experienced a lot of furor over a book entitled "three wishes", in which she traveled to israel and spoke with children on both sides of the israeli-palestinian conflict. basically, some organizations, like the uja, took offense at one particular story presented by a young palestinian girl whose sister had been a suicide bomber. it presented the story of the suicide bomber, not from the typical western media viewpoint that we normally see, but helped us to understand what would make someone do something like that. i thought "three wishes" was an amazingly balanced book, that presented both sides of the conflict, which is something we don't normally see.

"palestine" accomplishes a similar feat. joe sacco is an american journalist who travelled to israel back in the 90s. "palestine" is the story of the time he spent in the occupied territories speaking with displaced palestinians. it was his intention to share with people the palestinian side of the story. however, rather than do this in a more traditional format (read: book) sacco published his travel diaries in the form of a graphic novel. this is a powerful and informative book, and a must read for anyone with an interest in the situation in the middle east, or who likes non-fiction graphic novels. if you enjoy this sort of thing i would recommend also checking guy delisle's "pyongyang" and will eisner's "last day in vietnam", and of course the rest of sacco's catalogue.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A Dirty Job - Christopher Moore

i've talked a fair bit about my somewhat shameful love of the chick lit genre. but, of course, chick lit is not the only fluff out there i derive enjoyment from. take christopher moore for example: pure fluff. he's also a little hit and miss (not all of his books are absolutely fabulous), but he is a lot of fun. i first read a christopher moore book back in the early days of high school. it was called "practical demonkeeping", and read it solely because one of the main characters was a demon. i had a bit of an obsession with the supernatural back then (still do) and would eagerly scour the library's shelves for anything to do with vampires or demons etc. hence the discovery of christopher moore.

"a dirty job" is the story of charlie, newly a dad, and newly widowed. shortly after the death of his wife (which occurs shortly after this birth of his first and only child), charlie discovers that he is death. not the death, but one of death's helpers, sort of like santa's elves. only with less toys. minty fresh, one of charlie's "coworkers" refers to their position as "death merchants". anyway, it is now charlie's job to retrieve the souls of the dying and to make sure that these souls are passed onto their proper subsequent vessel. he must also raise a small child who seems able to kill things simply by pointing and saying, "kitty", take care of two hell hounds, and run a thrift shop, which employs a ex-cop and a sarcastic gothic teenager. definitely one of moore's better offerings as of late. and who doesn't enjoy something with death as the main character? it's like that show on hbo, "dead like me", or terry pratchett's mort character. so, if like me you enjoy sarcastic demons and your comedy with a bit of the supernatural, check out "a dirty job", cause, well, someone's gotta do it (oh come on, it had to be said. didn't it?).

Fables: Animal Farm - Bill Willingham

i think bill willingham is a funny name. don't you? conversely, the fables series is not funny. but it is fabulous. the fables series is willingham's dark reimagining of our classic fairy tale characters who now exist as a misplaced people as the homeland has been taken over by the evil adversary. the fables (as they are collectively referred to as) must now make their way in the modern world, but have established a separate governing body that oversees their action.

the first book in the series, "legends in exile", was done in a sort of hardboiled detective style, with bigby wolf cast in the role of detective. "animal farm", plays heavily on george orwell's novel, but has the less human fables, who must all live away from the city on a specially protected farm, rise up against their human overseers.

i think this is one of the best modern day takes on fairy tales out there, and there are a lot of books out there for anyone interested (notably pamela dean, terri wilding, and donna jo napoli's work), but these tend to be geared more towards girls. the graphic novel format of the fables series, along with its darker, edgier tone, makes it a more likely read for boys as well.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Little (Grrl) Lost - Charles de Lint

again, one of my favourite authors of all time. charles de lint is one of the masters of the urban fantasy genre (think holly black, francesca lia block and o. r. melling). "little (grrl) lost" is his latest contribution to the genre, and to be honest, i was rather disappointed. not as gritty or as dark as some of his previous work, and the action was a little stilted.

t.j., newly moved to suburbia from the countryside, finds a little in her house. you know littles right? these guys: they're a bit like the borrowers. anyway, seems this particular little is feeling a little stifled (sorry, that was a little joke >_<) and is heading out on her own. t.j. gets involved in elizabeth's escape plan (elizabeth being the little) and chaos ensues. very little of it fairy related. very little of it very dangerous. for the most part both elizabeth and t.j. are fairly safe. it seems they never end up in any sort of situation where they won't be saved by that handy literary tool, the deus ex machina.

meh. anyway, a fun and easy read, but for me as a fan of de lint, and knowing what he's really capable of in this particular genre, i was a little let down by his latest offering.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Final Solution - Michael Chabon

chabon has been one of my favourite authors ever since i read "the amazing adventures of kavalier and clay". after being blown away by that hefty tome (which has since spawned a comic series called "the escapist") i went off to read everything else chabon had ever written, most of which takes place in pittsburgh. he also wrote "wonder boys" which was turned into an amazing movie. all of this is by the way, i guess as it doesn't really have anything to do with "the final solution". a short and slightly strange story that involves a retired british detective who may or may not be sir arthur conan doyle/sherlock holmes, a young mute german refugee (the story takes place during wwII), and an african grey parrot that is almost continuously spewing strings of numbers in german. aside from that i won't mention anymore, as i don't want to give too much away.

Horseradish - Lemony Snicket

best book of quotes. ever. is there anyone who can be as sarcastic and dry as snicket? (i'm currently learning that brandon sanderson comes pretty close to the mark, but that is a review for another day.) "horseradish" is a collection of snicket quotes from his books "along with selections from his unpublished papers and remarks he has made at dinner parties and anarchist riots." i tortured g. by making him listen to me read most of the book out loud. that made it even funnier. one of my favourites relates to libraries, as a librarian i get a kick out of this sort of thing: "a library is like an island in a vast sea of ignorance, particularly if the library is very tall and the surrounding area has been flooded."

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pride of Baghdad - Brian K. Vaughan

powerful and disturbing stuff. vaughan's version of this story is like an allegory of fear and war. based on a true story of a pride of lions escaping from the baghdad zoo during the iraq war, vaughan anthropomorphizes all of the animals in this story and lets us view the confusion and terror of war through their eyes. is this like a new and brutal aesop? vaughan's previous work on runaways was incredible and had my vote for best graphic novel of 2006. glad to see that the man isn't letting up any.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Beyond the Deepwoods - Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

this was recommended to me by a. this summer. of course, it makes perfect sense that i am only just getting around to reading it now. the edge chronicles, of which this book is the first in the series, are a high fantasy series along the lines of the lord of the rings, or maybe something like the dragonlance books, where a fantasy world has been created in detail and populated with all sorts of fantastic creatures. stewart has done a great job populating the edge with all sorts of things: banderbears and hammelhorns and gloamglozers and slaughterers to name a few. riddell does a great job of illustrating all of the creatures, and nearly every page has one of riddell's truly excellent ink line drawings. i'm a big fan of riddell's art, and i was rather happy when he published his own picture book called 'the emperor of absurdia'. back to 'beyond the deepwoods' though. although i did enjoy the book, and was rooting for the protagonist, twig's, success, nothing really ties up in the end, which is one of the downfalls of some series, and i largely got the feeling that the first book was being used to set things up and establish characters for for future titles.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Pefect Example - John Porcellino

i read this this afternoon in about 20 minutes. it is a deceptively weighty though fast and easy read. porcellino is an indie comics writer and 'perfect example', is a biogrpaphical piece about the last summer between high school and university in the mid-eighties. porcellino's summer is filled with road trips, hanging out with friends, hiding away, being depressed and listening to semi-obscure punk bands like husker du and camper van beethoven. the comics style is sparse and simplistic. i commented to g. that either porcellino was making use of this particular style to make some sort of creative point, or he was actually just not a very good drawer. g. is pretty sure it is the latter. the simplicity of the art adds a bit of melancholy to the stories though, and if you enjoy indie comics this is a pretty good book.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Maggie the Mechanic - Jaime Hernandez

i had been doing some graphic novels purchasing for work and was doing quite a bit of research to figure out what are the important titles; what are the titles that are considered classic, influential and important. in essence, who are the big guns? well, hernandez's 'love and rockets' series kept popping up. intrigued, this is one of the books i picked up in toronto. 'maggie the mechanic' is the first of the 'love and rockets' compilations. i gotta tell ya, this is one interesting piece of work. think a latino archies, with some tank girl punk rock sensibility thrown in. it's like the 50s/the 80s/science fiction. this is the story of maggie, who is in fact a mechanic. she travels around the world repairing stuff and having some fairly crazy adventures involving dinosaurs, luchadores, hoverbikes, punk shows, psychotic dictators, and a somewhat unrequited love. back on the ranch, or more specifically, back at maggie's californian apartment that she shares with her roommate hopey, we get a more real life story that involves paying rent, buying new boots, drinking beers, and mooning after boys/girls. it took me a little while to get into this, it really is dense for a graphic novel. mucho, mucho text, and it's certainly not a short and easy read, but once i got into it i really, really liked it and look forward to following up with maggie and hopey in 'the girl from h.o.p.p.e.r.s'.

Castle Waiting - Linda Medley

i've been on a bit of a graphic novels kick as of late. we've really started getting some more arriving at the library, which has been great, plus i took a trip to toronto not too long ago and couldn't help picking up a few books whilst at the silver snail and the beguiling. one book i was really excited to see arrive at the library was 'castle waiting'. i read this in london a few years ago, but i think the book they had in london was like a digest version, because the one we have here is much longer. publisher's weekly describes 'castle waiting' as, 'a set of linked nouveaux fairy tales, this graphic novel extends the story of sleeping beauty into a modern, feminist chaucer'. i think that's spot on. 'castle waiting' delivers a set of linked tales involving the residents of 'castle waiting', a place where those who are fleeing prosecution can find safety and acceptance. this is one of those graphic novels that really underscores that the genre is not all superheroes and large breasted femme fatales anymore.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Truth About Stacey & Mary Anne Saves the Day - Raina Telgemeier

two for the price of one. the second and third books from the baby-sitters club graphic novel series. these books are so nostalgic for me. i used to read the baby-sitters club books all the time back in the day. pure candy. these are just retelling the first baby-sitters club books in graphic novel format. they stick pretty close to the events of the books, but the dialogue (and clothes) have been updated so as to not be so early nineties. oooh, remember fluorescent colours? new kids on the block? there, you see? nostalgia. did you know that you can actually buy nostalgia drinks in asian grocery stores? apparently the taste of nostalgia when bottled (or canned as it were) is a red bean flavour. sorry, that's way off topic. anyway, the second book in the series, 'the truth about stacey', is about stacey coming to terms with her diabetes and settling in in stoneybrook and tying up loose ends in new york. while i was reading this g. asked me what the truth about stacey was. i had to admit that i didn't know. still don't. the title may be a bit of a misnomer. the third book, 'mary anne saves the day', is about mary anne becoming a bit more mature (she always was the baby of the group), the baby-sitters club surviving their first real fight, and the introduction of dawn schaeffer, who moves to stoneybrook from california. these books are lots of fun, and i think for anyone who used to love the series, or for young girls now, they really are a great read.

Someone Named Eva - Joan M. Wolf

there were so many atrocities committed by the nazis, i wouldn't know where to start in naming them all. 'someone named eva' is the fictional account of milada, a czech girl from the town of lidice. in an act of revenge against the citizens of czechoslovakia, hitler razed the town of lidice, killed all the men and boys and sent the women and girls to work camps where most of them died. however, some of the girls were selected to go through the lebensborn born program which was developed to turn non-german 'aryan' children into good german citizens (read: nazis). basically, the kids were kidnapped from their family and brainwashed into believing in nazi ideals, they would start to believe they actually were german, and would be trained to speak only german, and to forget their mother-tongue. milada was one of the children from lidice selected for the lebensborn. she was renamed eva and adopted into a german family. this is a fascinating story of one of the lesser known events of wwii.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie

wow. i mean, wow. it doesn't happen very often that a book blows me away like this, but when it does, words barely suffice. i'd been waiting for this book to come in for a while. i had read the reviews and was eager to get it for the collection. as soon as it had been processed i eagerly snapped it up despite the fact that i had about 15 other books at home that i was thinking about reading. and am i glad i did. i read alexie's book in about 4 hours, it was so good i just couldn't put it down. this is a memoir in the way of 'angela's ashes', 'a million little pieces', or 'night'. alexie writes into the story of 14 year old arnold spirit jr. experiences and memories of his own life growing up disabled, poor, and with alcoholic parents on the spokane indian reservation in washington. junior, who was born with hydrocephalus is loved and protected by his family and his best friend rowdy on the reservation, but that isn't enough to help a nerdy looking kid from being a constant target for bullies. so after an incident involving a repentant geography teacher, a text book and a broken nose, junior decides that if he ever wants something more for his life he's going to need to get off the reservation, and the way to do that when you're 14 is to attend the high school in the white town 22 miles away. at reardon junior works to break down the racist barriers that exist and must stand up to the ostracization at home that comes from people's perception that he has turned his back on his tribe. alexie tells the story with such power that the reader can't help but be drawn into junior's life and be taught sympathy. the absolutely true diary is an absolutely brilliant book, and as neil gaiman said, there is no doubt that 'in year or so it'll both be winning awards and being banned.' well, it's already been nominated for the national book award and is number 3 on the new york times bestseller list for children, so i'd say it's well on it's way to fulfilling that prophecy.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo - Greg Leitch Smith

i chose this book for two reasons. one much more important than the other. the first was because there were ninjas in the title. the second was because there were piranhas in the title. the ninjas were more important. i really like ninjas. this book has nothing to do with ninjas. not really. and the piranhas are peripheral. i did know that before i started reading though. i'm not completely foolish. i did read the back. what this book is about is a trio of middle school students who attend the prestigious peshtigo prep. there is elias who must deal with the high expectations of his genius family, shohei, whose adoptive family has decided to immerse him in the culture of his ancestors, and honoria, whose science fair experiment involves teaching piranhas to become vegetarians. in a school that has a reputation they find that finding the truth isn't always easy, even when it's in the name of science.

The King of Attolia - Megan Whalen Turner

megan whalen turner won the newbery in 1997 for her book 'the thief'. i don't remember why i picked that one up, but it blew my socks off. i told j. this and she expressed shock that a newbery book could blow anybody's socks off. has the newbery gained a reputation for dullness? perhaps, but turner's book was anything but dull.

set in a made up realm, designed to appear archaic, but to possess some of the trappings of a much more modern society (there are pocket watches), turner's settings have been largely influenced by ancient greece. the the main character of the series ('the king of attolia' is the third book) is eugenides, the thief of eddis. trained to be a thief from his youngest days, eugenides is used to getting anything he wants. he's not a thief in the sense that he is an outlaw though. the thief of eddis is a high ranking position in the eddisian court and reports to the monarch. in his role of thief eugenides found himself caught up in all sorts of political intrigue which required him to use all of his skills as a thief just to keep himself alive. he has been imprisoned and tortured, and the third book finds him married to the queen of attolia and learning to act, not as a thief, but as a king.

it is a hard road for eugenides as attolia and eddis were previously at war, and it was eugenides scheming marriage to attolia's queen that saved eddis. eugenides finds he must work hard to prove himself capable and worthy of the respect of the men in his command. if you enjoy historical fiction peppered with more than a little action, than turner's books just might be your thing.

Geography Club - Brent Hartinger

did i mention that i'm catching up on posting about books that i read a while ago? like a really long while ago. in the summer long while ago. which means i may not be as fresh about what they were about. but i do remember if i liked them or not. truth be told, i like most of the books i post about. i mean, if i didn't like them i wouldn't finish them, right?

anyway, 'geography club' is about high school sophomore russell. russell just happens to be gay, and he just happens to attend high school in a small conservative american town. so russell figures that the closet is the safest place for him to be. but it would seem to me that closets are rather confining and it's bound to get a little lonely in there. this is a story about russell learning to accept himself, and in the process realizing that he also has some prejudices that need to be addressed. it's a good read, and a hopeful book. the message is encouraging to teens that they aren't ever alone, and there will always be support. as russell grows he realizes that his best girl friend is bisexual, his best guy friend isn't about to quit being friends with him over something like sexual orientation, and that the most popular jock star is is actually very scared of admitting the truth, and the school nerd is braver than anyone ever imagined.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Twilight - Stephanie Meyer

i just finished reading this one a couple of days ago. and i wanted to write about it quickly so i can return it to the library so that others can borrow it. i imagine there are some young vampire fans out there who will be excited to sink their teeth into this one. ha. it's been a little while since we had a serious new vampire series. not since anne rice and buffy anyway. although if you are into the vampire fiction and would like a bit of a lighter take on the genre i would highly recommend ellen schreiber's kissing coffins series.

now, back to 'twilight'. bella, not wanting to be burden on her mother decides to move from sunny pheonix arizona to rainy, foggy forks washington to live with her dad. bella finds that the novelty of a new student makes her fairly popular at school, except with her lab partner, edward, who looks like he wants to kill her. bella is intrigued by edward and his four siblings, who keep their distance from the rest of the kids at forks high school. it is not until edward saves her life, that bella begins to explore her relationship with edward, which leads to several astonishing discoveries and some good old fashioned danger. probably one of the hottest 'it' ya books at the moment, meyer's series is a must read for anyone who enjoys their romance with a little bit of bloodletting.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Lost Colony - Grady Klein

a graphic novel. my consumption of graphic novels has been at an all time low this year. i'm hoping this is soon to change as my library orders in more titles. for the time being though, whenever i do manage to come across a title in our current collection that i haven't read i'm always eager to get it home. and what a disappointment this one was. i had seen the sequel in some catalogues and was trying to decide whether or not we should add it. to be honest, i found the cover of the sequel to this particular book kind of offensive. i did decide that i would give this one a try though and see. and i've got to say, i just don't get it. found the plot confusing, i wasn't keen on the artwork, it looks very computer generated, and i think there was an anti-slavery message in there somewhere but it was too muddled to tell. the front flap is full of positive superlatives, i disagree with all of them. i'm going to leave it at that. as to what i decided about the sequel. i'll let you figure that out for yourself.

Bannock, Beans and Black Tea - John Gallant

this is john gallant's memoir of his childhood growing up in depression era prince edward island. john gallant is the father of seth who just happens to be a famous canadian comics auteur whose work is largely published through the montreal publishing house, drawn and quarterly. seth, remembering his father's stories encouraged john gallant to record these stories in the form of letters written to his son. seth would then compile them into a book and provide the book's illustrations. the end result is, as one comes to expect from seth, exquisite. the fabric jacket with woodcut-esque illustrations, and thick, almost card stock pages with a handwritten font and black ink illustrations, really make this something special to pick up and look at. gallant's depiction of his childhood on prince edward island is as far removed from the prince edward island of anne of green gables as it is possible to get. this is not an island of picturesque farm houses and sunday teas, but rather of dilapidated shacks and almost constant starvation. think of the stories told by grandparents everywhere about how they had to walk uphill both ways to schools and make those stories worse, and you have gallant's childhood. what keeps this from being depressing though is gallant's sense of humour and his ability to look back and see lessons in his past. for anybody who enjoys their canadiana, and even for those who don't (and i assure you, i typically fall in the latter category) this is a great book.

Teen Idol - Meg Cabot

what's that you say? more chick lit? why, yes, it is.

i have a slight confession to make. i really got behind in doing this and these reviews at the moment are all from books i read about a month ago. which means, at this point, i'm getting a little fuzzy on the details. this also means that when i pulled cabot's 'teen idol' out of the pile of books that i'm done with and really should bring back to the library i drew a complete blank. the first thing i thought was, 'did i actually finish this one?', and then after deciding that yes, in fact i had finished it, i thought, 'what was it about?'. i've given this some thought, and i think it's all coming back to me, with a little help from the back flap.

jenny greenley is the advice columnist for her school's newspaper. this is not unlike being superman, as she must keep her identity a secret, and in her secret identity help save people... from over controlling parents and bad dates. so of course when hollywood star luke striker comes to partake in a little method acting by really getting into his new role as a midwestern high school student by being a midwestern high school student, jenny s charged with showing luke around and keeping his identity a secret. if i'm not mistaken luke hides his apppearance by, wait for it, wait for it, drumroll please, wearing glasses. oh, the superman references are falling thick on the ground. of course hijinks and catastrophe ensue (of the high school variety of course). it was fun, it was fluffy, i think i finished it in an afternoon. meg cabot really is the queen of the genre.

Only You Can Save Mankind - Terry Pratchett

according to wikipedia (my favourite source for very quick fact finding) terry pratchett is the second most widely read author in the uk. i assume j. k. rowling must be the first... wait while i check that out on wikipedia (haha, just kidding). terry pratchett is one of those authors that i always wanted to like, but never quite could. i've read a couple of books from the discword series and just couldn't really get into them. which is odd, as i typically enjoy fantasy. i did enjoy the bbc radio series about mort though, that was quite good. but none of this has anything to do with 'only you can save mankind', which is in fact not part of the discworld series, but rather part of pratchett's johnny maxwell series. i liked this one. pratchett wrote it at the time of the first gulf war in iraq and it was more or less a commentary on how with all of our modern technology, it is possible to desensitize people enough that war seems like nothing more than a video game. no more holding your fire until you see the whites of their eyes. george w.'s continuation of his daddy's war in iraq ensures that pratchett's commentary appears less dated than it otherwise might.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Lost It - Kristen Tracy

i'll give you three guesses what this book is about, and the first two don't count. tess whistle is a junior in high school, her parents are born again christians and her best friend is going through an emotional crisis that has culminated in a plan to blow up a poodle. when tess' parents suddenly take leave of their senses (my opinion) and abandon tess to go and 'find themselves' in the wilderness, tess is left in the care of her very grounded grandmother (again, my opinion). of course with all of this chaos in her life, who can blame tess when she falls hard for transfer student ben easter. this is a cute little coming of age story, with a lot of high school romance and the added twist that everything does not end up in a nice little happily ever after package at the end. there is no disaster (not really) but i like that tracy left us with a very real life ending to this story.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Weetzie Bat - Francesca Lia Block

i love this book! no seriously, this is one of my favourite books of all time. i absolutely adored it in undergrad, and i still can't get enough of block's crazy punked out vision of shangi-l.a., or hell-a., as it is also known. the title character, weetzie bat, is a free-spirited high school punk rock loner who meets her soul mate in classmate dirk, who has a brilliant mohawk and drives a '55 pontiac. they spend their time moshing at shows, eating cheese and bean and hotdog and pastrami burritos at oki dogs, picking up ducks, and visiting with dirk's purple haired grandmother fifi. when fifi passes on a magic lamp to weetzie, she makes three wishes: a secret agent lover man for herself, a duck for dirk, and a beautiful little house for them to live happily ever after in. and so brings into play the catalyst that will drive the story forward and allow block to continue with the four other books in the dangerous angels series: baby be-bop, missing angel juan, cherokee bat and the goat guys, and witch baby. block's books are considered by some to be must have a fiction. i'm not about to argue with that stance. if you enjoy magical realism and you feel ready for a literary trip that will leave you feeling not just a little dizzy, i would definitely recommend checking out weetzie bat.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

This is the End

that line always makes me think of joy division. does it do the same for anyone else? never mind. please ignore me. it would appear that i have finally reached the last activity. the 23rd thing. thank goodness there weren't 43 or i would have gotten a whole lot less sleep this week than i did. it would appear that there are some questions that need to be answered. you want thoughts and opinions, lasting impressions, eh? well, here goes it.

what were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?

i was very appreciative to learn that there are online word processing and spreadsheet applications. for me, this is very useful as i do not have any such software on my computer. think of all of the work i can get done at home without having to come into work.

i have really enjoyed publishing a blog. i don't know if anyone noticed, but there are several posts in there that have absolutely nothing to do with this library 2.0 project. in fact, i fully intend to continue publishing the blog when this is all done. book reviews only. i promise never to discuss what i had for breakfast. i don't think i would want anyone to know the answer to that question anyway. i do believe that keeping a running compendium of what i've read though will be helpful to me at work as a reader's advisory tool. despite best intentions i really cannot remember every book whose pages i have made it through.

i found the internet based applications, such as and rollyo and technorati to be very useful. when i am not working against a clock (the deadline for this project is tomorrow) i would like to take the time to explore them more fully and develop something absolutely mind blowing in its efficiency.

how has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?

this program has made me stop thinking about checking all of this technology out, and has forced me to get up off of my proverbial derriere and do it. without this project and its deadline it is so easy to put things off because there will always be things that seem to require more immediate attentions. now i will only have to hope that without the project nudging me gently down the road to 2.0 wisdom that i will continue to explore and play, not just on sites i know and feel comfortable with (youtube anyone?)

were there any take-aways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?

surprised me? i suppose the things i would most likely be able to say surprised me were simply the things i was unaware of before embarking on this journey. applications like rollyo, technorati, and, as well as the online office suite type programs managed to do that. one other thing that surprised me was how easy and intuitive it all was, and how once i really sat down and focused on it it was not too crazy to get through it all and get it done.

what could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?

in the future, were this program to be run again there were a few things that i would like to see changed. i would have liked it, as a person who had to initial others' checklists, if the checklists and the activities were a little more copacetic. also, i found it irritating that the links in the wiki didn't open up in a new window, but rather as i worked through an activity i would have to reopen wikispaces and relocate my place. sometimes i would end up doing this 3 or 4 times. separate windows would have been appreciated. but i suppose we can't have everything, and perhaps through wikispaces that is not even an option.

if we offered another program like this in the future, would you again choose to participate?

would there be prizes? just kidding. of course i would. it was fun, and educational. what more can you ask for. oh yeah, prizes, you can ask for there to be prizes :)

Friday, September 14, 2007


ok, one last post before i turn in for the night. i will admit to being exteeeemely sleepy. so sleepy in fact that it took me four tries to spell sleepy.

i created a netlibrary account back when i started at osngupl. i wasn't sure if it would still work though as i haven't made use of it since i created it. i know j. said her account stopped working because it had been so long since she had last logged on. well, i am lucky because my account still is working. i was able to sign in (i even remembered my password) and take a poke around for audio book titles. i initially did a search by title and author and kept on coming up empty handed. well, that isn't entirely accurate. i was able to find ebooks of everything i was looking for, but no eaudiobooks. i then went to the eaudiobook centre on the sidebar. this way i was able to view lists of all of the eaudiobooks collected by netlibrary sorted into very broad subjects. i was hugely impressed that there were 105 young adult fiction titles listed. less impressed by the paltry 15 titles in children's fiction. i would certainly be interested in listening to much of the content listed in young adult fiction. i could probably download it directly onto my computer and listen from there. however, in case you had forgotten, i am tired. such further (and optional) adventures will have to wait for another day.


i looked through some of the listed podcasts on i kept finding that the podcasts i was interested in ended in 2006. or perhaps they didn't, but the last one linked to was in 2006. so, giving up on that i headed over to the cbc and subscribed to the vinyl cafe podcast straight from the source. the problem is that the vinyl cafe podcasts are only about 4 minutes long. i would prefer the podcast if it was actually an entire vinyl cafe episode. i think that i actually prefer to stream radio shows online because that way i get the whole show. i often stream radio shows from the bbc, and i enjoy listening to the new music on cbc 3. transferring the podcast into my bloglines account was no more difficult that it was to transfer blogs into the account. i suppose if there were a variety of podcasts that i wanted to listen to regularly it would make sense to add them to bloglines and check in every so often. but i'll admit to liking going straight to the bbc and looking for new things while i listen to my regular shows.


i played around on youtube. i've been playing with youtube for a long time now. i find the site rather addictive. i'll find a video i'm looking for, but then there are all of these 'related videos' or 'more from this user' or even just all of those random videos along the sidebar, and i find that i can lose a lot of time just goofing off if i allow myself to. one thing i'm rather peeved at youtube about is that they are going around deleting all of the anime content off the site (i know, i know, copyright issues) and when i go look for the latest episodes of my shows they are no longer there. although now i've got stage6 and i find the content to be more reliable than that on youtube. the other problem with youtube is that the video quality is very poor. whenever i choose to watch a video clip in full screen it becomes so pixelated that it may be better to just watch it on that tiny little screen. again, stage6 has youtube beat in terms of video quality. very crisp and clear. i haven't tried t in full screen yet, but the smaller screen is large enough to make it less of a concern.

i found it hard to choose a video on youtube that i wanted to link to this page. i ended up choosing the music video for our retired explorer (dines with michel foucault in paris, 1961) by the weakerthans. it's a fun video, and i quite enjoy the low budget nature of canadian music videos.


i've been playing around with i used to have an account with pandora. i quite enjoyed it as a way to discover new artists, but it did tend to make my old computer crash. it utilized a version of flash that was just a little too flash-y for my computer it would just give up. the other problem was that pandora is only available to users in the states. i had gotten around that for a while by providing them with a buffalo address and zip code when signing up, but eventually they caught on that my ip was not coming from buffalo and they kicked me off. so that was the end of that. i would say that is is just as good as pandora was though. in fact, because it runs so much more smoothly on my new computer than on my last, i'd say i like it better. i can find all of the bands i try to look for, and they even have both of the bands that g. has been in. for his most recent band there is even a picture of the guys. i thought that was rather fun. i have added a widget to this blog that shows what i've been listening to. i'm not entirely sure it is working though. i am going to have to listen for a bit longer and monitor the updates. i'll add to this post and note whether it's working or not.

yeup. looks as though it is. yay. that's rather fun. i was worried it wasn't working, but it seems that you have to actually finish listening to a track before it will appear on the widget. if i navigate away, or let them know that i don't dig a particular track it doesn't appear on the widget. handy.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Google Docs

the post prior to this one was created using google docs and then posted directly to my blog. tis a rather useful application that google docs. i will admit that google makes me a little bit nervous as i think they might be trying to take over the world. and to what ends i ask, to what ends? who knows, this could all end up very 1984. but they do good work, those kids over at the google offices, and i suppose if the world is going to be taken over by any major corporation it should be by one with a cheerful primary coloured logo. for those of us who do not have office suite or any other word processing software loaded onto our computers, an application like google docs is mighty handy. again, like, or rollyo, or bloglines, the basic idea is portability. while i can easily download open office to my computer, i am still restricted by needing my personal computer to access any documents i create (not being part of a network). if i want to take my documents from one computer to the next i need to either attach them to an email, or employ a portable storage unit like a cd-rom or a usb key (did you know that you can purchase a usb key made from wood? it looks very cool). as soon as a portable storage unit enters the equation we introduce the possibility of files becoming corrupted. what if my wooden usb key turns into a tree and leaves? (sorry about that, i couldn't help myself) utilizing an application ensures that your documents are kept safe so you can access them from any computer at any time. assuming the internet is working, that is.

Sounds familiar.

We emerged from youth all wide-eyed like the rest.

Shedding skin faster than skin can grow,

And armed with hammers, feathers, blunt knives:

Words to meet and to define and to...

But you must know.

The same games that we played in dirt,

In dusty school-yards,

Have found a higher pitch and broader scale,

Than we feared possible,

And someone must be picked last,

And one must bruise, and one must fail.

And that still twitching bird was so deceived by a window,

So we eulogized fondly, we dug deep and threw,

Its elegant plumage and frantic black eyes in hole,

And then rushed out to kill something new,

So we could bury that too.

The first chapters of life almost made us give up altogether.

Pushed toward tired forms of self-immolation that seemed so original.

I must, we must never stop watching the sky with our hands in our pockets,

Stop peering in windows when we know doors are shut.

Stop yelling small stories and bad jokes and sorrows,

And my voice will scratch to yell many more,

But before I spill the things I mean to hide away,

Or gouge my eyes with platitudes of sentiment,

I'll drown the urge for permanence and certainty;

Crouch down and scrawl my name with yours in wet cement.

by: John K. Sampson

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Wiki Part 2

as jamie oliver would say, "easy peasy". g. would add a "lemon squeezy" to that, but sometimes you need to know when to stop rhyming. i played in the sandbox. there was no sand. in that respect it was a most unusual sandbox. i came all prepared with my bucket and shovel, only to find them completely superfluous. i posted my favourite tv shows, some favourite books and a new favourite website. i learnt that editing a wiki is as easy as the wiki people lead you to believe, and that is a good thing. if we ever wanted to start up a library wiki it would certainly be useful for it to be as user friendly as possible. this exercise leads me to believe that that would indeed be the case.


doesn't wiki sound like either something a surfer in hawaii would keep in his hut (not dissimilar to tiki) or a valley-girl phrase, "that is, like, so wiki". all joking aside, i chose to check out the stevens county rural library district wiki project. this is a wiki created by a public library system in washington state. it allows users to edit and create pages on anything related to the stevens county community, from hunting and fishing to the best places to watch the sunset, from washington murder mystery booklists to manga booklists.

this is something that we could very much create for our library and open up for collaboration from our community. i can use this site to learn about the colville skate park, or where i could take kung fu lessons, or when the libraries are offering storytimes. on a more literary bent, i can check out an alphabetical list of all of the manga series that the library collects, the titles of which are hyperlinked to each series' first volume in the stevens county rural library district's online catalogue. i like it. i like it a lot.

Sunday, September 9, 2007


let's try this again.

i read the posts by the pundits. some things i agree with. some things i don't. how do i feel about 2.0? my feelings on the topic are still in flux to be quite honest. like cotton candy it can be delicious (not in controlled amounts, but too much leaves you bouncing off the walls feeling a bit queasy.

what i like about 2.0 is that it encourages collaboration with the end user. wikis, podcasts, youtube, blogs, all encourage the individual to contribute, and through contribution to become part of a larger whole. to belong to a community. what does this mean for the library? i don't believe that library 2.0 necessarily translates into increased web presence and technological gadgetry. i believe it means that we should encourage collaboration with our patrons, thus building a stronger community within and around the library. what books do patrons want to see in our collection? what lecture series would they like to attend? what furniture would they like to sit on?

are there ways in which we can incorporate 2.0 technology into a 2.0 library? sure. we could provide rss feeds of new materials, we could open a wiki to allow users to review materials, and discuss materials with each other, we could offer im reference services, we could start a public library blog and provide content with instructional videos, or video booktalks. there's a lot out there that we could be doing, and a lot that we are doing.

what don't i like about 2.0? i don't like the technolust, and i don't like the sense of exclusivity that comes with it. sometimes it seems as though 2.0 is the buzzword of a club, a club that is very, very cool and i'm not sure i'll ever measure up for membership. i don't like the assumption that the web can be everything to everyone. i don't like that as we advance technologically doomsayers continue to listen for the bells tolling the death knell of the book.

as libraries search for ways to evolve in a 2.0 world (or a 3.0 world or an 7.3 world) we need to continue to consider our user. yes, technology is wonderful (it can also be terrifying and dangerous), but there are those who are unable to access all of these new toys that are being developed. what about our patrons who live in rural areas with only dial up internet access? what about our patrons who can't afford to have something like a computer in their home? what about our patrons to whom computers continue to be mysterious and somewhat daunting entities? as we strive to achieve 2.0 we need to remember that the ideology behind 2.0 is not merely technological, but is about inclusion in the process, whether it be digital or analogue.


again with the names. i promise, i will never mention the names of the web 2.0 sites again. i promise. if i were to combine the blog searching capabilities of technorati, with the travelling favourites tool, and the search tool rollyo it could be rather powerful. i'm thinking i'd like to use technorati to search for sites on a variety of library topics such as ya librarianship, 2.0, graphic novels, children's books and so much more and then troll for useful results which could then be added to my rollyo search roll and added to my favourites. with the added links could search other users accounts in and rollyo and see what sites they've added and edit my lists again. this could go on until i have some sort of super list. not unlike a super virus. a list that cannot be defeated. ah, the librarian's dream. so many full stops. and why? what is the deal with the need for these websites to have such twee names? do they know how irritating it is to have to remember where to type those full stops? okay, that gripe out of the way. i'm actually quite keen on it seems very user friendly. i had tried to load it onto my previous computer, but it just wasn't having it. i have my fingers crossed that i will have better luck on this one. i'll tell you a bookmarking story. when i left vaughan to move to owen sound i had a number of websites that i'd been pretty reliant on. so, what i did before leaving was that i saved them all to a word document and then saved that word document to my yahoo briefcase. when i got to owen sound and the demands of my job changed i found several more websites that could help me in my new capacity, from graphic novel reviews, to professional sites, to architectural design sites. i have two computers that i use at work, and i like to do certain things at home as well. that's three computers where i need to have access to my favourites list. before i had to copy and paste urls into word documents and email them to myself and then open the links and save them to each computer's favourites list. although not massively time consuming, it did take more time than i would have ideally liked. now with a new computer i need to reconstruct that favourites list yet again. i think before i bother i am going to give this whole thing a shot.

Saturday, September 8, 2007


i now officially have a rollyo account and have created a search roll for... wait for it, wait for it... comics! heh. i am a nerd. it works pretty well, i took a number of comics sites that i like and respect, added them to rollyo, and tested it out by searching for 'nightcrawler' and 'naruto'. it brought me right to articles discussing the latest nightcrawler comic, and how naruto is viz media's hottest manga title right now (i could have told you that). i wouldn't mind playing with this tool a bit more and refining my search sites by checking what sites other comic kids have listed and what links are recommended on the sites i visit and then cross referencing them to my search roll. but that dear friends is a task of, shall we say, superheroic proportions, and it is nearly midnight and if i don't go to bed soon i may turn into a pumpkin. you can link to my rollyo here:

Library Thing

i went to library thing and i added a number of my favourite adult books from the past year. i suppose i could've added kids books or even graphic novels or picture books, but i think the lists for these would have been too long, and this was much more manageable. my favourite aspect of library thing is the suggestions page. i sort of rolled my eyes when they suggested other books by authors that i've read. that seemed just a little too obvious. but with the random new titles and authors i enjoyed clicking on 'why' to see which book the suggestion was being influenced by. reminded me of which generates a radio station based on whatever band you supply and plays songs by other artists you may also like. now if only i had the time to read all of these suggested books.
back on track. we were experiencing some technical difficulties for a time. these were easily rectified with the addition of a new computer. funny that. i am now determined to finish up this web 2.0 game before the deadline. so here i go. week 5. play week. step one: image generators. i have played with some image generators. i made a bob dylan sign movie, i had my tarot read, and got my anarchist cookbook recipe of the day. i also produced the above picture at

Shrimp - Rachel Cohn

that's right, i liked gingerbread so much i ran right out and read shrimp. and you can rest assured that i will be reading cupcake in the very near future. can rachel cohn do no wrong? i like to think so. just as good as gingerbread. cyd charise has entered into an era of household peace with parents sid and nancy, she is working things out with her tiny surfer artist boi shrimp, and is even making girlfriends for the first time in her life. just don't ask her to fill out a college application or she may go supernova. my favourite bit in this book? they mention rancid! hahaha, referring to tim and brody in a talk about t.r.u.e.l.o.v.e. and yes, who ever thought our favourite mohicaned punk rockers would get divorced, but it just goes to show.

Repossessed - A. M. Jenkins

the premise of this book is that the demon kiriel has become bored with his position in hell and decides to take up residence in a human body to get a taste of life. it's a fun premise, and i was really looking forward to this, but regrettably not one of the best books i've read this year. that said it brings up some good theological questions. interestingly, kiriel is extremely well-behaved while taking part in earthly existence, and has exceptionally good manners, so no hell raising here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Gingerbread - Rachel Cohn

the first in a trilogy about high school student cyd charisse. i picked this up because rachel cohn was part of the duo that wrote 'nick and norah's infinite playlist', which i thought was absolutely brilliant. one of those brilliant books that i keep trying to get others to read. plus it had one chapter in particular with what is perhaps the most excessive use of a particular four letter word in the space of a single page. i have such a sophomoric sense of humour. goats! i am pleased to say that cohn did not let me down. i love cyd. yes she's uber privileged, and angsty, but the the somewhat fanciful tone reminds me of a more down to earth francesca lia block ala weetzie bat. this is a great book for anyone who enjoys their chick lit with a little bit of an edge. as a final note cyd's parents are named sid and nancy, but are sadly not reincarnations of a certain pair of legendary punk rockers.

Clemency Pogue: The Scrivener Bees - J. T. Petty

this is the third book in the clemency pogue series. also the only one i've read. it was given to me as an uncorrected proof. the cover art was intriguing so i took it home determined to ignore the fact that i hadn't read the first two books. well, i'm going to have to go back and read the first two now in order to find out how the action in the scrivener bees came about. a junior fantasy novel in the spirit of the spiderwick chronicles, the story focuses on our hero clemency pogue who seems to be not insignificant to the continued survival of make-believe, and her antagonist inky mess, a changeling child determined to take over make-believe. i guess i was supposed to side with clemency, but i'll admit i found myself sympathizing with inky mess and rooting, if not for his success, at least for his change of heart.

Someday's Dreamers Volume 1 - Norie Yamada

first new manga i've read in a while. i've mostly been keeping up with the mangaverse through anime. which yes, i know, often differs substantially from its corresponding manga, but what can i say, i'm not that thrilled about spending $10 per volume for something that runs 30 volumes. someday's dreamers takes place in an alternate universe present day nagasaki. physically, it remains true (i think) to the way nagasaki is, there's even a bit of a travel guide in the back to the places mentioned in the manga. the twist is that in the nagasaki of someday's dreamers it is perfectly normal for people to have magical powers. the story centres around magic user nami and transfer student ryutaro. throughout the course of the first volume nami develops a crush on ryutaro who is seems to hate her for no apparent reason. i look forward to finding out how their relationship evolves.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Short Bus - Jonathan Mooney

this is a bit of a mash-up of several genres. is it an autobiography? is a travelogue? is it a treatise on special education in the united states? perhaps one could call it a treatobiographlogue? that's right, i made up a new genre! but perhaps that is part of the point. mooney, who is dyslexic and ADD, struggled through the public school system in the united states always being told he was stupid, and desperately trying to fit into the round holes society has so nicely laid out for us to pop into. but what if you're not a round peg? there's all sorts of labels that then get thrusted upon people, and for good or bad, they are expected to live in the world with this label of "other" constantly hanging over their head. well, maybe it shouldn't all be about labels. maybe we should all extend our middle right hand digits in the general direction of all of the labels that are forced upon us and upon others and turn around and walk away. who knows what we might find.

Queen of Babble in the Big City - Meg Cabot

yay! more chick lit! meg cabot's queen of babble may be my favourite chick lit book of all time. in close competition with sophie kinsella's "can you keep a secret?" and "undomestic goddess" titles. and lizzie nichols (the queen of babble herself) is at it again and in new york this time living with her prince charming (no, seriously, the guy is a prince, though because the french chopped off the heads of all of their monarchs a couple of centuries ago it's not a very useful title). this time she's really working on keeping her mouth shut about things, but how long will she be able to hold out as the drama builds up around her? i feel like there's a third title making its way down the pipeline. i hope it's soon though, because i honestly forgot most of what happened in "queen of babble" by the time this one came out. ah well, it's not like it's all that complicated.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

RSS in the Blogosphere

and so i sallied forth to investigate that which is the rss feed. much like the name implies, it was, in fact, really simple stuff. cut and paste, cut and paste. i can see how creating a newsreader account would be useful for informational blogs. for example, i signed up to several librarian blogs, notably jessamyn west's 2 blogs, and can envision checking stuff like that via the newsreader account. they are not heavy on the visuals and i am looking at them more to check out what's going on rather than to experience the blog. where i can't see the newsreader account being of much interest to me at all is with blogs that rely heavily on graphical content. i have several indie design blogs that i check regularly. it's like window shopping online, as i never buy stuff, i just gaze longingly. however, when i look at them via bloglines, the viewing screen alters the layout and design in a not so fabulous way.

as for using the various blog search tools, i can't say as i'm keen. i actually prefer google's blog search function to any of the ones listed for this project. i find that when i search via google i actually pull up blogs that are relevant to my search term as opposed to bringing up completely random blogs that just happened to use the word i'm looking for in a single post. using google to search librarian blogs the first blog on the list is jessamyn west's makes sense to me. the other blog search tools bring me to more commercial enterprises, and more often than not the first hit is amazon. sigh. and can somebody tell me what is with all of the cute and witty names for these blog search tools? feedster, technorati, syndic8... i get it, you're hip and 2.0 and stuff. seriously, i get it.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J. K. Rowling

well, i've finally done it. i've read THE book. you know, THE biggest book of the year, perhaps the decade. who knows, maybe even the century. has a book ever generated such such media furor and public popularity/obsession? that would be something worth looking into. what i really wanted to say was that in the end of the latest and last harry potter book... ha! you thought i was going to include a spoiler didn't you? in fact, one young man that i work with gets an unhealthy kick out of reading the harry potter books as quickly as he can when they are released and then ruining the ending for people. i think he has an unnaturally well-developed sense of schadenfreude.

i really am amazed at the harry potter phenomena. the books are good, and the seventh title is certainly no exception. they have this ability to just suck you into the story and before you know it you've read a 607 page book. but there are lots of books out there that are equally well written and equally absorbing, but none of them produce the same level of cultural interest. you know what? i'm going to quit questioning this because in the end it's all really fabulous because it has kids and adults reading and being genuinely excited about the book they're holding in their hands. and that is nothing but good.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Year of Secret Assignments - Jaclyn Moriarty

i was looking for something light to read over lunch the other day, so i headed on over to the ya section before leaving for break and picked up moriarty's 'the year of secret assignments'. and am i ever glad i did! i laughed so hard reading this that milk came out my nose. ok, it didn't actually, but it would have. i don't think a book has made me laugh this hard in a long time. for those who enjoy voyeuristic fiction (read books that take the form of diaries and other personal scribblings) this is an excellent addition to the genre. the story is based around the lives of 6 students writing letters to each other at rival schools and interspersed with diary records and emails etc. i am especially fond of lydia, 'huh, the computer just told me it looks like i'm writing a letter. spooky. how did it know? it's a little paper-clip man and it wants to help. that is so nice of it.'

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Vegan Virgin Valentine - Carolyn Mackler

i am going to make a confession. i love chick lit. it really is a lot of fun, and terribly enjoyable to read. it's funny that it seems like admitting to reading and liking chick lit should be part of some sort of 12 step program where admission of your problem is the first step to recovery. i feel that way about anime too, but i won't go into that here. the kicker is that chick lit has perhaps gotten a bit of a bad rap somewhat unfairly, as some of it (not all, mind) is quite well written. and some of the ya chick lit is absolutely fabulous (no reference to bad british sit coms intended).

so i finished vegan virgin valentine by michael printz award winner carolyn mackler. that is an excellent and trustworthy award. if a book has gotten the printz award, i would take that automatically as a stand up endorsement that the book will be great ya fiction. v.v.v. is the coming of age story of mara valentine who is your classic type-a (gold) personality. she's got everything in control and is ready to head off to yale and take valedictorian at her high school until her cousin v. shows up and life suddenly becomes a whole lot more complicated. what is the organizer of chemical-free grad night supposed to do with a pot-smoking juvenile delinquent in the house?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Just So Stories - Rudyard Kipling

i love rudyard kipling. i think he must have been a major influence on writer's like lemony snicket because all the way back in the late 1800s when kipling was writing these stories he was employing some of the devices that authors like snicket enjoy so much. i'm speaking of those little asides to the reader, where it feels like the author is letting you in on a little secret, or making a personal joke with you. and he uses big words, but in a rather tongue-in-cheek sort of way.

i have always enjoyed the story of the elephant's child, which explains how the elephant got his trunk. after reading all of the just so stories, i have to say that the elephant's child remains my favourite. there's something about the elephant with his 'satiable curiosity and the bi-coloured-python-rock-snake that is extremely endearing.

Exit A - Anthony Swofford

i've been on a kick of reading grown-up books lately. more grown-up books over the past couple of weeks than i've read in the past half-year. guess i can't read kiddie lit all of the time. anyway, for some reason this one seems more grown-up than the others. not sure why that is. i picked it up solely because it's set in japan, and once again japan has not let me down. honestly, i can't think of much more to say as i finished it nearly a week ago and am just writing this now.