Saturday, December 25, 2010

What to do????

I really wanted a Kindle for Christmas and I got one. I also promised myself to not buy books and use the library more.
What do I do?
I love the Kindle.
I love books.

Here are libraries I can now reach out to via my Kindle...
New York Public Library
Fairfax County Library
Los Angeles Public Library (although I am not very sure about the ability to download to the Kindle)

I also found out the entire works of Shakespeare are $3 on Kindle.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Returning Books

I've officially turned my child into a bibliophile.
We were returning the 17 books he had checked out a few weeks ago (and we have read all of them at least twice) and picking up one book on hold for me. He COULD NOT LEAVE without checking out a book.
He ran for Field, asked for a Christmas book, and then...picked out "When Cows Come Home for the Holidays" It's a great and fantastic book. Funny and about the holiday spirit. We were laughing out loud reading it.

Wylie also had two doctor's appointments yesterday. Dentist and Pediatrician. He was really good at both. He also received two vaccines and a blood draw. The later hurt a great deal and required him to hold his arm incredibly still. Remember he's 4, because I don't think I hold my arm as still as he did. HE HOWLED AND CRIED. Why am I telling you this here?

I offered Wylie as a reward/consolation for being so brave a trip to the BOOKSTORE (yup buying a book) and picking out a book. He looked at me in the midst of his tears and sadness and said "Could we go borrow from the library?" My kid offered the chance to buy a book. He wants to borrow from the library.
I love him.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hunger Games-Susan Collins

I liked this book.
I would recommend this book.
It is receiving lots and lots of word of mouth press.

How much did I like it?
I stayed up way too late several nights as I was sucked in to the story and wanted to find a spot where I was comfortable leaving the main character. The story is well written, the characters well developed and enough left out that you aren't quite sure what to make of them at times. It is part love story, part survival story, part political commentary.

It is a trilogy which means there are two more parts of the story to read and to fully understand the main character Katniss' motivation and ultimately what happens to her. You finish the first book hoping for change and resolution but are offered none. I like that.

I have one huge problem with this book:

About 1/3 of the way into the book I realized I had read something VERY similar years ago. There were parts of the story that felt WAY TOO FAMILIAR. I can't say that the Susan Collins totally ripped off other writers work but I'm having some serious concerns. I believe that while she wrote a good and compelling book she took far too much from other books and by changing a word here and there is not acceptable. Here are my concerns:

Plot Synopses


The Hunger Games takes place in an unidentified future time period after the destruction of North America in a nation known as Panem. Panem consists of a wealthy Capitol and twelve surrounding, poorer districts. It is stated that District 12 is located in the coal-rich region Appalachia

As punishment for a previous rebellion against the Capitol, every year one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district are selected at random and forced to participate in the Hunger Games, a televised event where the participants, or "tributes", must fight to the death in a dangerous outdoor arena until only one remains.

Battle Royale

Battle Royale, a high-octane thriller about senseless youth violence, is one of Japan's best-selling - and most controversial - novels. As part of a ruthless program by the totalitarian government, ninth-grade students are taken to a small isolated island with a map, food, and various weapons. Forced to wear special collars that explode when they break a rule, they must fight each other for three days until only one "winner" remains. The elimination contest becomes the ultimate in must-see reality television. A Japanese pulp classic available in English for the first time, Battle Royale is a potent allegory of what it means to be young and survive in today's dog-eat-dog world.

The Long Walk

One hundred teenage boys participate in an annual walking contest called "The Long Walk," which is the "national sport. The event is run by a character known as "The Major," who is implied to have much power, stemming from a possible military or fascist state system. The Major appears at the beginning of the Walk to encourage the boys and start them on their way, and then occasionally thereafter. There are no stops, rest periods, or established finish line, and the Walk does not pause for any reason (including bad weather or darkness); it ends only when one Walker is left alive.

Items almost photo identical in each book.

1. Post-apocolyptic country—Run by totalitarian or fascist type government

2. Teenage or young participants—Forced to participate by lottery or volunteer in order to save their immediate family and region

3. Only one winner -the rest are dead-killed by their peers, killed by the government or from the event itself.

4. Intercession by family not allowed—No communication with outside world, no sympathy from the government, the government interacts to make the event more interesting.

5. Told from the survivor/winner voice

Slight differences between Battle Royale and The Hunger Games.

1. Battle Royale is Japanese-

2. Battle Royale participants wear collars not chips in their body

3. Battle Royale participants are semi armed going in.

Slight differences between The Long Walk and The Hunger Games.

1. The Long Walk is not a fight but a survival to the end.

2. It is a Major not the Gamemakers that sets the rules and can be upset at the littlest thing and change the rules to fit his needs.

3. The participants are “volunteers” and in some cases more prepared than others. The “Careers” are very similar in hunger games.

I now have to read Stephen King's "The Long Walk" again.
I have to read Battle Royale by Koushun Takami again.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Art at the Library

So in reviewing what is happening at our local library I came across many art related exhibits, projects and demonstrations conducted at local libraries throughout the nation. This is how the library brings more than just books to the community.

Raynham Public Library-Massachusetts
Quilt Display for the month of December: Here

Kealakekua Public Library-Hawaii
Sakura Ensemble: Here

Oakridge Library-Tennessee
Display of local artists work: Here

Sacramento Public Libraries team up with an art museum
Crocker for Kids: Here

Our local library in Playa Vista had cupcake decorating for teens this week. For the younger children there are crayons and coloring pages set out for each season and holiday along with the books that offer more information on the season or holiday.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

P.D. James

I'm still in love with this author. "Shroud for a Nightengale" was perfect. I thought I had figured out PD James' method of defining the murderer. I was wrong.
I had ideas about the murderer in this one. I was right but I was also very wrong.
There were 2 when in fact you thought there would only be one.

There were oddities that were there mostly to confuse and distract.

It was a wonderful read.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Pirate Books

Wylie has a love of pirates. We have started amassing a pirate book library of our own due to his love of pirates.
Karen came into town for a brief visit last night and brought Wylie a pirate book. The book is part of a series of books called Barefoot Books. Wylie brought the book to dinner and then wanted to read the whole thing cover to cover last night. A book that inspires that kind of interest is the best!

I like the philosophy of the company "Live Barefoot". The are about giving children the knowledge to explore and the ability to imagine.

Explore. Imagine. Create. Connect. Give Back. That’s what Barefoot Books is all about. It’s exploring other cultures, our planet, ourselves. It’s making time for make-believe and letting imaginations run wild and free. Most of all, it’s about using the power of stories to nourish the creative spark in everyone and strengthen connections with family, the global community, and the earth.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

10 Fictional Characters

I was tagged to come up with 15 fictional characters who have had a great influence on my life. It was tough to really pull the 10 that I think were most influential. In general there are so many who have helped shaped me and my thoughts that I would need to say any book or character I encountered. However, I wouldn't have encountered any of these without the ability to read or the ability to go to my local library. I've noted the books in which I found the characters.

  1. Claudia (From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler)--The girl ran away to the metropolitan museum of art and figured out how to stay there!
  2. Sam Gribley (My Side of the Mountain) --A boy moves to the forest and lives in a tree off the land for 1 year. He survives.
  3. Jane Eyre (Jane Eyre)--She stands up for herself and then finds happiness where she least expected it.
  4. Dominique Francon (The Fountainhead)--She remains with me to this day. Something about how she handled herself.
  5. Brett (The Sun Also Rises)--Confidence
  6. Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird)-Strength of faith and belief in all things being good.
  7. James Qwilleran (The Cat Who Series)-writer, animal lover, mystery solver, living in a barn.
  8. Rebecca Sharp (Vanity Fair)--Reminder that climbing socially isn't everything and ultimately doesn't make you a better person.
  9. Jo March (Little Women)-She just stayed true to herself. It wasn't perfect and pretty just who she was for better or worse.
  10. Babar (The Babar Series)--he had friends in high and low places. He had the ability to think clearly, he opened a museum!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Latest on Libraries Reinventing Themselves

Great article in the LA Times today about how libraries are reinventing themselves into a community resource.
You can read it here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Where to find inspiration

How do I pick the books I end up reading?
1. I love to go wander the stacks at the library to find something interesting to read. I judge the book based on dust cover, flap and if I know the author. Sometimes I am very surprised and sometimes I'm disappointed.

2. I have my lists of books to read. The Modern Library, The BBC List, and the list of books identified in any universities English 101 course.

3. I use the NY Times bestseller list as a source for new novels and mysteries.

4. Another great place is searching the blogs or websites or just googling book lists to see what other people have read recently, is on their summer reading list, or what is recommended. Interestingly I do not find Barnes and Noble, Borders or Amazon a good source of inspiration. It's almost as if they are too big and too diverse.
I was on the GOOP website today and found a summer reading recommendation post. You can find it here. Several interesting books to consider.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Library Ballot Measure

Get this on the ballot for March 2011




The proposed ballot measure would increase the Library’s Charter-mandated funding from .0125% to .0300%--effectively restoring the Library budget to its 2009 level and gradually restoring service to 6 days a week at the community branches and 7 days a week at the regional branches and Central Library.

If placed on the March 2011 ballot, this measure would require only a simple majority of the vote to pass and would result in no new taxes; it would reallocate a small portion of existing city funds to the Library.

City Council Votes on Library Ballot Measure
Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 10:00am
Council Chambers, City Hall, 200 N Spring St., LA 90012,...

How Easy is That?

I "met" Ina Garten today. She was signing her newest book "how easy is that?" at the Santa Monica Williams-Sonoma. The book is fabulous. Lots of good basic easy and yummy recipes. I got into line at 1pm and had my book signed at 2:40pm. I left a bit disappointed.
While waiting in line, I took the time to process what I feel was poor management by Williams-Sonoma. Here are the ways I would have changed the process:
1. Have to book available to purchase in advance of the signing. There was a requirement that the book be purchased at that particular Williams Sonoma in order to get it signed. They did not have copies of the book until today.
2. If copy of the book must be purchased at the signing, make the line for purchasing the book only for purchasing the book and have it connected with the line to get it signed. Otherwise it gets tedious waiting in two lines. Very tedious.
3. If you are only going to have the signing for two hours, limit the number of people in line, make it be reservation or be willing to have the signing last longer than two hours. The assembly line signing doesn't make for a very enthusiastic reader. At least allow the purchaser 1 minute to say hello and have the book personalized.
4. Communicate and work with the surrounding shops that will be dealing with the line that snakes 2 blocks through prime retail area in Santa Monica. Encourage the people waiting in line to be courteous to the shops as well as encourage the shops to offer samples to the people waiting in line. Kiehl's (three blocks away) kept sending their employees down the street to offer samples to all the women waiting in line. I scored a few fun moisturizers. I also scored a free sample of Pinkberry. The Kiehl's shop and the Pinkberry shop were chock full of women with their Williams Sonoma bags with the book from Ina. The shop that wrote "KEEP CLEAR" on the sidewalk by their front door and the tables outside--WAS EMPTY.
5. Finally, I would have made sure to be highlighting items that could be purchased in conjunction with the book. This is gift season. I would have had a few of the items in the book made and offering samples. I also would have highlighted some towels or something from the book that was for sale. I would NOT have everyone who just spent $35 or higher and was waiting in line ushered in the back of the store and then promptly ushered out the front of the store. I would have liked to browse.

Okay so the book is great. The process not so much.
How Easy is That? Not Very

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Latest Library Visit

We returned everything that was due tomorrow when the library is closed for Veteran's Day. We came home with 14 books in total.
Subjects covered:
English Royalty
Vile Verses

We are still waiting on books for the grownup: Current wait list number 154 and 150 for "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" and "Never Let Me Go" respectively.

For the Kiddo:
1. Robots: Clive Gifford--Good descriptive book about all the different types of robots.
2. Skeleton: Steve Parker-One of the discovery series which breaks down all the different bones in bodies and how they are connected. It also covers exoskeltons.
3. Car, Richard Sutton--This one is all the different types of cars. Not as great as we hoped.
4. Ultimate X-men: Peter Sanderson--Superheros and amazing information.
5. You Read to Me and I'll Read to You; very short scary tales to tell each other: Mary Ann Hoberman--FANTASTIC
6. Vile Verses: Roald Dahl--All the poem and songs from his books in one book. Very enjoyable and fun.
7. Dear Mrs. LaRue, letters from obedience school: Mark Teague--fun book of letters written from a dog to his owner.
8. Frog and Toad are friends: Arnold Loebel--This is a beginning reader book. Short chapters, simple stories and the understanding of the progression of a book. AND it's Frog and Toad!

We also picked up three books for school about the autumn season, thankgiving and holidays in general.

For the grownup:
1. Unnatural Causes: P.D. James
2. Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, the queen's favourite: Ophelia Fields.
3. More about Boy, tales from childhood: Roald Dahl--Autobiography.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Her name is Field

We found out from a friend the name of our favorite librarian.
Her name is Field.
It's perfect. Wylie actually thought it was cool.

She is everything a librarian should be and the inspiration for Wylie.
She has long flowing hair that is curly and dark brown. She is slightly overweight but wears beautiful long skirts and long sleeved boat neck shirts and sweaters. Her voice is quiet but firm. You know when she laughs her whole face is part of that laugh. The kind that invites you to join.

She listens. She waits. She teaches. She does not judge. She remembers.
She encourages questions.
She smiles when questions are asked too loudly, too excitedly, and when asked repeatedly. Her instructions of quiet are not stern and punishing. They are explanatory and calm.

Field remembers each and every book that Wylie has read. She remembers his favorites. She tries to find new ones.
Field knows that while picture and first reader books are fun, Wylie wants the good stuff. He wants the information and long stories. She knows that if it's a good mix of diagrams, photos and story Wylie will eat it up.

The worst part...
She's on medical leave. We don't know when and if she is coming back.
There is no substitute.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

So Excited for this book...

So I usually test out cookbooks from the library before committing to the purchase. Sometimes I find one I have to have and sometimes I find ones that only really have one recipe I might use a few times at best.

All of the above goes out the window when it comes to Ina Garten, better known as the Barefoot Contessa. I have been able to make, enjoy and alter ALL of her recipes. I love her style of writing and her simplicity in food.

So, why do you ask am I so excited...

She's signing her latest book "How Easy is That" at the Williams-Sonoma in Santa Monica on 11/11/10. I have the day off work and will be one of geeks lined up to get her signature and note in my book. I might even try to get a snapshot with her.

Then when I get home and have fully read the book cover to cover in secret in the car, I will hand it off to Wyatt to hold onto and wrap for me for Christmas.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Everything I know about Skeletons

Wylie wrote his first book this weekend.
So he "ghost" wrote it, in that he dictated to me and I wrote it.
He did sign the back of it and added stickers to illustrate it.
I'll post a photo soon.

It is titled "Everything I know about Skeletons"
It has about 7 pages
It has very interesting facts in it.

The first public reading was at TANS-November 1, 2010.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Back to PD James

I was reading PD James and then the next few books in the series were not available. I've found them again and will be checking a few out to read.
I've also been reading an Anne Perry book that was given to me at the pool by a woman who was finishing it up.
It's a Victorian England mystery!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Kiddo Book update

Wylie picked lots of books out last time and we had a few on hold. One of our holds came in and we made a special trip to the library to get it.

1. Everything I know about Pirates: Tom Lictenheld. We really are enjoying this book. Just enough history mixed with a perfect amount of silliness. We are reading it a few pages a day to enjoy it, talk about it, and just savor it. YES this is like candy to my child. I mean did you know that holding a knife in your teeth is looked down upon by the ADA, especially for pirates? Well that's a fact you learn in this great book.

The other book we've been enjoying and really talking about is the Egypt/Mummy book.
1. The 5,000 Year Old Puzzle: Solving a Mystery of Ancient Egypt: Claudia Logan. This is another book we are reading a few pages at a time. It's written by a young boy in the 1920s. It includes post cards he wrote to his best friend, his diary of the expedition, and then in the margins all sorts of interesting facts about Egyptians. Again, we are taking the time to read, discuss, and enjoy. Last night as part of the exploration of mummies we built a pyramid. Lots of fun.

What would I do if Wylie didn't like to read or be read to?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Library Visit 10-21-10

We went to the library to return a few books, pay a fine ($1.35 this time--on the title: "It was Disgusting and We Ate It"), and pick up a few new fun books.

Here is our "hold" list:
For the Kiddo:
1. Everything I know about pirates : a collection of made-up facts, educated guesses, and silly picture; Tom Lichtenheld. We are currently reading Everything I know about Monsters. It's engaging and I really think Wylie is learning to recognize certain words as a result.
2.Franklin's Class Trip; Paulette Bourgeois. Wylie keeps selecting this book to look at while at the coffee shop. I promised to find it in the library. He is waiting patiently.

For the Grownup:
1. Never Let Me Go; Kazuo Ishiguro--I'm intrigued by the story. I'm really interested in finding out how this is written. Ultimately I feel like this will either be a love or a hate. Wait time: que number 212/ number of copies 67
2. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest; Stieg Larrsen--I'm waiting patiently considering how the last one ended. Wait time: que number 198/ number of copies 33

Our Current List at home:
For the Kiddo
I love my pirate papa; Laura Leuck - A simple story about a boy and his papa. Perfect night time reading
The pirate's eye; Robert Priest-Weird story about a pirate who lost his glass eye and it is found by another man who can see the harm and pain the pirate has inflicted. When he gets the eye back he sees the good and converts.
Mouse soup; Arnold Lobel- Mouse meets Weasel. Mouse tells Weasel stories to stall becoming Mouse Soup. Fun and silly.
Chowder; Peter Brown--Chowder is a dog who does silly things. Wylie laughs as he reads.
Everything I know about monsters : a collection of made-up facts, educated guesses, and silly pictures; Tom Lichtenfeld--All you need to know about under the bed, sock, basement, closet, school and attic monsters. Including a monster fighting chart.
Danny the dragon; Russel Punter--Dragon lights fire for village, village learns to make fire, village needs help from marauding pirates, Dragon saves the day. Early reader book designed to encourage word recognition and reading.
The story of Ferdinand; Munro Leaf--WE LOVE this story about a gentle bull who liked to pick flowers under his cork tree.
The 5,000-year-old puzzle : solving a mystery of ancient Egypt; Claudia Logan: Something new to explore about Egypt, mummies and tombs.
Dust 'n' bones : ten terrifying classic and original ghost stories; Chris Mould--Definitely not as kid friendly as I thought but with a bit of altering in the stories Wylie likes them.

For the Grownup:
Remake restyle reuse : easy ways to transform everyday basics into inspired design; Sonia Lucano--This one is going back quickly. There is nothing about reusing in this book and a ton of crafty tools that seem to make the reuse and restyle very much just making something new. Didn't like it one bit.
2. Louisiana Real and Rustic; Emeril Lagasse--Cookbook, interesting recipes.
Between friends : craft projects to share ; Charlotte Lyons--Crafts from 1 hour to 1 week long. Things to do with a friend and for a friend. Something for the holidays and for everyday. I'm looking forward to trying a few of these things with Wylie.

So in review, Wylie is still on a pirate/dragon/mummy kick but is definitely branching out to some newer ideas. He picked all the books.
I'm waiting for a few good novels. I'm also preparing for Christmas and other events.
I'm going to put on hold a few of the books from the BBC list. I will try to read Hardy again. I will try to read Orwell. Remember that I said "TRY."
What are you reading?