Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Book Expo America 2006

Exactly two weeks after I set foot at BEA 2006, I am finally recovered enough to write about it! What a whirlwind! New books, famous authors, gala dinners...what more could a book lover desire?

I'm trying to think where to begin...I attended BEA to check out new books for children and teens, but along the way I did discover some neat new books for adults as well. All of the buzz this year was about a recent book called Water for Elephants (Algonquin, 05/06), by Sara Gruen. All of the independent booksellers had read it and were really excited to tell people about it. Apparently it is a love story set in a travelling circus during the 1930s. I always love circus books, ever since reading Geek Love in high school. I can't wait to get my hands on this!

I also met Charles Frazier, author of Cold Mountain, and picked up an advance readers' copy of his book Thirteen Moons, due out in October from Random House. I picked up so many galleys, I haven't had a chance to read this one yet, but it's at the top of my pile.

For teens, Gail Carson Levine has a new fairy tale novel coming out in September called Fairest. This is a surprising version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs that definitely twists in ways the reader will not suspect, much like Ella Enchanted. The cover art on this book is gorgeous too, so it will make a great gift come the holidays.

In audio books, Random House Audio acquired the library of read-aloud stories published by Rabbit Ears. They plan to keep the Rabbit Ears imprint and re-release old favorites such as Robin Williams reading Pecos Bill as well as new recordings. Random House plans to have all of the backlist back in print by the end of 2007. Collections of stories will be available in August, such as fairy tales, world folktales, and American tall tales, all read by celebrities. These are eagerly awaited by those of us who remember the series fondly. Also interesting, during BEA, Random House annonced that it is teaming up with Starbucks to release two classic audio books during the holidays, The Velveteen Rabbit and The Night Before Christmas. For more information on this corporate partnership, check out the article in Publisher's Weekly.

My favorite "porcine wonder" has returned in two new stories, Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride and Mercy Watson Fights Crime. These hilarious books are appropriate for those who are starting to feel confident reading on their own. My 6-year-old friend is a big fan. These easy and fun stories show that Kate DiCamillo, author of Because of Winn Dixie, has a wide range of writing talents. Chris Van Deusen's art is also especially bright, expressive, and reminiscent of by-gone days. Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride came out earlier this month and Mercy Watson Fights Crime will be out in September. If you're not familiar with the series, be sure to check out the first book, Mercy Watson to the Rescue.

I think that's all the reviewing I have in me right now. Believe me, you will see more upcoming fall season books on the blog as I work my way through the boxes I sent home.

Other cool authors I met?
E D Baker, author of the Tales of a Frog Princess series, which includes the upcoming fourth novel, No Place for Magic.

Kevin O'Malley, an author and illustrator of such books as Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude and the Miss Malarkey series, among many others. I sat next to him at dinner and have a personalized drawing he did for me! What a cool dude!

The wonderful and prolific Walter Dean Myers, author of tons of African American history stories, novels, graphic novels, and picture books. This time he was touring for The Harlem Hellfighters: When Pride Met Courage.

Meg Cabot, whom I've just begun to love, author of the Princess Diaries series and other awesome books for teens and adults. I picked up How To Be Popular, due out in July.

Sandra Boynton, the rock star of baby books, signed a copy of her newest songbook, Dog Train, for my little friend Dominic. She has a new board book titled Your Personal Penguin, coming out in September.

Andrew Clements was signing his two newest books, a picture book titled A Million Dots, and a new novel called Room One: A Mystery or Two, both are due out in July from Simon and Schuster.

Avi gave me a copy of his new Crispin book, Crispin: At the Edge of the World, due out in September. This is a sequel to the Newbery Medal winning Crispin: The Cross of Lead.

I want to tell you more of what I picked up and whom I met and what I saw, so stay tuned. For today I'm out of time.

Your Friendly Librarian

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Webby Awards

The Internet's most prestigious award, the Webby Award winners were announced yesterday in 69 Internet categories. Winners are voted on by industry experts and also people around the world, with the People's Choice award. According to the press release, 300,000 people voted for the People's Choice this year. Incredible!

You can sign up now to be a part of next year's competition, voting on what sites should be nominated early in the year. It's always fun to have a say when the official nominees are released. I have discovered some of my favorite websites and blogs this way. Check out the nominees and winners from this year's competition on the Webby website.

The Webbys got me to thinking about what Internet sites I visit most frequently, besides the search engines and my email. Here are my top five, in no particular order:

Google Maps
The Daily Candy
101 Cookbooks
Craig's List
Powell's Books Review-a-Day

What sites do you enjoy most?

Your Friendly Librarian

Sunday, May 07, 2006


With Book Expo America around the corner - this year in Washington, D.C. - I have to get back into children's/teen literature mode since that's the reason I'm attending.

What's on my bookshelf to get me back into the spirit of things? I have been loving Anthony Horowitz's teen spy series about Alex Rider. I also recently discovered Robin McKinley, who has won numerous awards and honors for her teen fantasy novels, but whom I had not read before.

Eagle Strike, Anthony Horowitz

Scorpia, Anthony Horowitz

Evil Star, by Anthony Horowitz

Rose Daughter, Robin McKinley

The Door in the Hedge, Robin McKinley

The Wish, Gail Carson Levine

Al Capone Does My Shirts, Gennifer Choldenko

East, Edith Pattou

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Busy Times

I find myself much busier than usual right now and I am interested to note my reading choices during this time. For example, non-fiction resources with useful snippets are more appealing than the more concentrated non-fiction I had planned to read. I also find that I am reading comfort fiction rather than new and meaty fiction (the sort I might review on the blog).

My light fiction of choice right now is anything by Joan Aiken. In the last week I have wolfed down two of her Jane Austen inspired sequels. I find her ideas and writing style aren’t that divergent from my idea of the Austen spirit. I just completed Mansfield Revisited and The Youngest Miss Ward. The second was especially enjoyable as it followed the histories of very minor characters in Austen and so was mostly original.

Ah non-fiction! Right now I feel the need to sing the praises of The Cake Mix Doctor cookbook by Anne Byrn. Moving to a new home in a high altitude climate, but being very busy, it is welcome to find a cookbook that embraces cake mix – an element easily converted to a high altitude receipt. I have always enjoyed this cookbook, but this week I am especially appreciative. Try the Bacardi Rum Cake (pg. 292) or Banana Cake with Quick Caramel Frosting (pg. 72), two of my favorites.

Other indispensable non-fiction right now?

Sunset Western Garden Book, edited by Kathleen Norris Brenzel. This is THE guide to growing anything in the western half of the country. Covers Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta. This exhaustive volume lists EVERY plant that will grow in the western zones, when to plant, when to water and really special sections such as what to plant under your oak tree, deer resistant plants, and plants for windy areas. It also includes a how-to section for gardening novices such as myself that explains things like planting cuttings or how to compost.

Renovating Old Houses: Bringing New Life to Vintage Homes, by George Nash – very useful for wiring projects, remodeling your basement, and examining the quality of your roof.

And for dreaming, I have been enjoying Creating the Not-So-Big House, by Sarah Susanka. Her ideas are complimentary to my own, namely that many newer houses are bigger than the average family really needs and waste space and resources in pursuit of cubic feet. She advocates the use of quality materials and design to create personal spaces that reflect the families that live in them and to eliminate empty, wasteful space. Her ideas mesh well with existing, older homes and remodel projects and her books are full of gorgeous house photos.

What kinds of reading do you do most during busy times?

Your Friendly Librarian