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.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Measle and the Wrathmonk - Ian Ogilvy

i'm pretty sure that ian ogilvy has seen beetlejuice. i mean, a lot of people have seen beeltejuice but ogilvy must have been taking notes. not that measle and the wrathmonk isn't a good book. it is. but most of it took place within the set of a model railroad not unlike the model town in the maitland's attic from which the title character makes his first appearance. for fans of lemony snicket and roald dahl ogilvy is certainly worth investigation.

Mere Anarchy - Woody Allen

i have a theory that when woody allen is writing a story he first writes it out in plain english, and then he goes through it a second time with a thesaurus and takes out all of the normal words and replaces them with obscure items from vocabulary tests. it's just a theory. anyway i do enjoy allen's cheeky brand of dry humour. by far and away my favourite story from this collection was "strung out". not a reference to drugs of course but to physics' string theory. excellent explanations for everyday occurrences therein, such as: "i awoke on friday, and because the universe is expanding it took me longer than usual to find my robe." i just may try that next time i'm late for work. ;D

Keele Hall

Keele Hall
Originally uploaded by NadiaD
it would seem that variety is the spice of life as this post has nothing to do with books. well it sort of does. peripherally. about 5 years ago i attended a university in england called keele. it was a great year, and this is where my english classes took place. (i told you there would be a peripheral connection to books.) anyway, i have uploaded this photo from my flickr account. if you want to see more photos of my time across the pond in old blighty click the link under the picture.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Mobile Library: Mr. Dixon Disappears - Ian Sansom

you know how everyone has that "if only" career? it's often a bit of a joke, but somewhere, deep down, it really isn't? some people want to own a record store, or wax surfboards in tahiti. i'd really like to drive a bookmobile. how cool would that be? my friend's sister drove a bookmobile in guatemala for a while. anyway, where i'm going with this is that i really enjoy ian sansom's mobile library series because it's a little bit of vicarious wish fulfillment. except that israel armstrong, the main character, is such a poor sod who must have been poorly behaved in a past life in order to explain the amount of bad karma he experiences in sansom's books.

sansom has written another book aside from the mobile library series called "the impartial recorder". not only was it a great read, but it made excellent use of footnotes and a table of contents at the end that allowed you to easily access exactly where sushi was mentioned. very useful indeed.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Three Cave Mountain - Per Olav Enquist

i really like the current trend in children's publishing (and i guess it's happening in adult publishing too, thank you mcsweeney's) that invests a lot of effort into the packaging of a book to make it a more attractive consumer item. three cave mountain is just such a book with its corrugated lithographic cover. this is a beautifully old-fashioned book bot outside and inside. the story is a gentle tale about four young cousins and their grandfather as they journey up the mountain near their cottage in sweden. the purpose of the journey is to restore mina's courage after having been bitten on the bottom by an alligator as she was falling asleep.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack - M. E. Kerr

i ordered this book for the children and youth services department at the library fairly recently. despite the currency of the order the book itself is quite old: 1972. to be honest i had never heard of it (i guess i can't have heard of everything) and i chose it on the strength of its recommendations: best of the best books (ya) 1970-1983 (ala), 1972 notable children's book (ala), 1972 school library journal best books of the year, best children's book of 1972 (library of congress). you have to admit, those are some rather impressive laurels. and i have to admit they are pretty much well deserved.

although certain aspects of the book date it; there are peripheral mentions of the vietnam war, and there is a decided hippie-ness to some of the characters, these things are pretty subtle and to be honest i was looking for them. dinky hocker shoots smack was an enjoyable, easy read about looking at the way you live in your world and being able to understand where others are coming from. the cover quote sums it up well, "don't understand me too quickly."
oscar wilde once said, "looking good and dressing well is a necessity. having a purpose in life is not.” despite this, i decided that my blog, if i was to have one, was in desperate need of a purpose. and so after much thoughtful consideration i decided to stick with what i know. and as a librarian that would be books. henceforth i will continue to update this blog with reviews and thoughts on what i happen to be reading at any given time. think of it in the spirit of the 50 book challenge which has been going on forever, but i personally am stealing from barry lyga.