Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Thursday, April 13, 2006


This week's pile includes:

Assassination Vacation, by Sarah Vowell

Apex Hides the Hurt, by Colson Whitehead

Sea of Monsters, by Rick Riordan

The Breadwinner, by Deborah Ellis

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Jailed for Overdue Books

I picked up this little snippet and thought I'd share. Remember, folks, overdue library books are no trifling matter!

Patron Receives Jail Sentence for Overdue Books - Library Journal

Your Friendly Librarian

Friday, April 07, 2006

Create Your Own Platial Map

Librarians don't just share books, they also find resources on the Internet. In this vein, I want to share a website/service I learned about through National Public Radio.

Platial is an Internet map service with which one can create meaningful, personalized maps! How cool! I just learned about it today and am playing with it at the moment. This is just too fun not to share. One can create maps of favorite places in Boston, romantic lookouts, future vacation destinations, or the quickest way home from the airport. It's both a practical and whimsical tool.

Check out the website for Platial.

Listen to the NPR story about Platial.

Now, go make some maps of your own!

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Here's what's on my bookshelf today:

The House of the Scorpion, by Nancy Farmer

The Not So Big House and Creating the Not So Big House, by Sarah Susanka

China, Inc., by Ted C. Fishman

A Year in the World, by Frances Mayes

The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell (still there, still worth reading)

Of adult interest...

I have currently been taking a brief, and welcome, respite from children's literature to catch up on some adult reads. As much as I love kids' books, it is wonderful to chew on some mature issues and longer novels now and then.

In fact, the word "chewy" came to mind as I was finishing up Sigrid Nunez's new novel The Last of Her Kind. The trajectory of the novel follows the lives of two Barnard College roommates through the tumultuous 60's and 70's. Drugs, politics, murder - what almost sounds like a spy novel is actually a remarkably beautiful story of friendship and loss. Loss of family, loss of idealism, loss of friendship and loss of innocence. Although it was more a loss of innocence for me, the reader,(especially after so much kid lit), rather than characters, who started out pretty hardened by the world.

Ann is a political activist from a wealthy Connecticut family who spurns everything and everyone that made her and wishes she could be poor and black because that would make her more "pure" and not the oppressor/agressor of the masses. Georgette comes from a very poor and abusive background and only made it to college with a teacher's glowing aid. She wants nothing to do with the era's politics and longs for the things Ann spurns, or at least some stability. While the two girls could not be more different, they are able to teach each other about the world as they experiment with the laidback and open lifestyles of the late 60's.

After leaving school, the girls settle more and more into their opposite worlds, until they can no longer relate to one another. But this does not keep them apart in thought, and the story weaves aspects of their lives together, even as they are apart.

I'm not really doing the story justice, but it was a wonderful, thought-provoking book for me, as it opened up aspects of the hippie movement I had not considered before; examined social justice issues from a new perspective; and highlighted mental illness and its effects on family.

Grade: A-

I also recently completed The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama. This is a beautifully written, peaceful story, set in Japan at the beginning of the second World War.

A young Chinese man, Stephen, is sent by his parents to their beach house in Japan to recover from tuberculosis. As the Japanese offensive in China picks up momentum, Stephen becomes more and more attached to his Japanese friends and lifestyle.

The contrast of the peaceful landscape and peace-loving personalities of the Japanese characters to the seemingly war-mongering Japanese government is striking and is a confusing issue for the Chinese Stephen to deal with; especially as friends and loved ones back in China are killed and forced to flee their homes.

Tsukiyama is half each Japanese and Chinese and grew up in San Francisco. I'm curious to read more of her novels. She is a truly talented writer.

Grade: A

Last night I was thinking about how I usually only post positive reviews on the blog. And the true is that I only like to write reviews of books I love...otherwise, why bother talking about them. I also will put down a novel if I'm not enjoying it or think it won't hold my attention. Case in point, last night I started reading Arturo Perez-Reverte's newest novel, Purity of Blood. Something about the styling of the characters or the tone just didn't do it for me and I decided not to read further. He is an odd author for me - The Queen of the South and The Flanders Panel are both novels I devoured and ones that have really stuck with me, while I have also put down his Club Dumas and The Fencing Master. Maybe it has something to do with the translations (Perez-Reverte writes in Spanish) or my ignorance of Spanish history. I don't know. I think it's mystifying because most authors are not that way for me.

Happy Reading!