Archive for the ‘Blog and Bookish Ramblings’ Category

I’m replacing this week’s Library Love with another book love of mine: the Green Valley Book Fair. Why? Because I adore the book fair. Absolutely, positively adore it.

The Green Valley Book Fair is basically a warehouse in the middle of a field filled with new, inexpensive books. It’s only open six times a year, between March and December, for a few weeks at a time. This year it opened the weekend before my birthday (best birthday present ever), but since I worked the day it opened (drat!) I had to wait a whole week before I could go. It worked out for the best, though. The book fair is a couple hours’ drive away, and yesterday’s weather was perfect for a road trip – the day started off cool and then warmed up without ever getting hot. The rain waited until I got home, too, which was nice.

One of the things I love about the book fair (besides the prices) is that you never know what you’re going to find. It’s like thrift store shopping. My mental shopping list rarely includes specific books; instead, I look for future Christmas or birthday presents and anything I would want for my personal library. This time I didn’t find quite as many presents as I had hoped, although I did score a copy of Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard for my niece (hilarious illustrations and great fun to read aloud; I can’t wait to give it to her!). I also found The Crown of Columbus by Louise Erdrich and her husband, Michael Dorris. This is their only collaborative work and one of the few Erdrich novels I’ve never read, so I was very excited to find it. I’m definitely going to try to read it before the month is out (since it is Louise Erdrich Month and all).

And now I’m off to enjoy the rest of this lovely Sunday by cooking, cleaning, reading, and taking a walk between rain showers. What are you up today?

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Send me back to Kindergarten.  I totally failed Sharing.

So on March 2 The Lorax joined the Dr. Seuss Book Turned Full-Length Movie Club.  Word on the street is that it’s doing pretty well in the box office and is actually getting some positive reviews.  (If you’re detecting a note of surprise, it’s because I am.  After the disasters that were The Cat in the Hat and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, I fully expect all full-length movies based on Seuss books to fail epically.)  In spite of these fairly positive reviews, I haven’t seen the movie yet.  In fact, I’m still pretending it doesn’t exist.

Up until about two minutes ago, I chalked this behavior up to worry – worry that the movie would let me down.  I’m so tired of picture books being turned into movies.  They disappoint me almost every single time.  And I so don’t want to be disappointed in The Lorax because, well, it’s The Lorax.  It’s one of the best Seuss books out there.  Plus once books get turned into movies then people usually think of the movie instead of the book, and if the movie is terrible then that means people are equating a horrible movie with a great book and that just irritates and saddens me.

So as I said, up until about two minutes ago (okay, yes, it’s been more than two minutes by now, but just work with me, okay?) I thought this was the reason for my Lorax movie avoidance.  And it is, to a degree.

But then I had an epiphany.  The real reason I’m pretending the movie Lorax doesn’t exist?


See, I wrote my Master’s thesis on the Lorax (the character from the book! not the movie!).  I poured my heart and soul into that thesis.  I agonized, I worried, I stressed, I cried, I paced, I wrote and rewrote over and over and over.  I carried the weight of that thesis around for two years.  When I finally finished it a year ago I knew it wasn’t perfect, I knew it wasn’t a masterpiece, but it was still the greatest accomplishment of my academic career and I was so thrilled I thought I was going to pop with joy.  I floated on air for weeks.

And now they’ve taken The Lorax, the book I carried around in my head for two years, and turned it into a cheesy animated film and I wish it didn’t exist because I don’t want to share it.  And I know I sound like a toddler, I know I’m being silly, but dammit, that’s my baby.  They stole my baby.

Eventually, I will get over this.  I’ll stop whining, I’ll let it go, I’ll even go watch the movie.  But I’m throwing a temper tantrum first.

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“You’re never too old,

too wacky, too wild,

To pick up a book

and read to a child.”


Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

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At the risk of destroying the pristine (ha!) image you have of me, I’m going to make a confession: I have a potty mouth. Before you think too poorly of me, though, I do want to say that I generally keep my foul language to a minimum around other people (and try to eliminate it entirely around children, people who might find it offensive, and during inappropriate moments). So I’m not ALL bad. (Unless I’m alone. Then I could make a sailor blush.)

Given my own bad habit, I’m pretty liberal-minded when it comes to other people swearing. The only time it really bothers me is when it’s excessive (at which point I feel like handing the perpetrator a thesaurus) or inappropriate (like, say, dropping the F-bomb at top volume in the library). I’m a little less liberal when it comes to crude or vulgar language, but I think that’s because I feel there are fewer appropriate moments to discuss various topics. (How’s that for vague?) So when I read Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (at the recommendation of a coworker) and encountered enough cussin’ to sink a ship, I wasn’t too bothered . . . for the first twenty pages. Then it started to get old. And ridiculous.

I followed Nick & Norah up with What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day . . . by Pearl Cleage (recommended by several bloggers, including Amy and nomadreader). I noticed almost immediately that the language in What Looks Like Crazy didn’t bother me like it had in Nick & Norah. It didn’t take long for me to puzzle out why. While both novels are told in the first person (Nick & Norah is told by the title characters in alternating chapters), Ava’s voice in What Looks Like Crazy sounds more authentic. Her swearing rolls off her tongue as naturally as everything else she says and thinks. She doesn’t hold back, but it also doesn’t sound like she’s doing it just to get a reaction out of the reader, either.

The swearing, etc. in Nick & Norah, on the other hand, feels completely over the top. It could be argued that the excessive foul language makes Nick and Norah’s voices as realistic as Ava’s. After all, doesn’t the stereotypical teenager delight in using as much inappropriate language as possible just because they can? Isn’t it all about getting a reaction? And aren’t teenagers just struggling to find their own voice? Isn’t experimentation the best way to achieve that?

I want to give Cohn and Levithan the benefit of the doubt and believe that it was deliberately done: they gave their characters hyperbolic potty mouths because that’s what Real Teenagers sound like. I’m not entirely convinced, however.

Has anyone else read these two books? What did you think?

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Last Sunday the lovely and wonderful Andi at Estella’s Revenge tagged me in an ongoing game of book blogger tag.  Since this was the LONGEST WEEK IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD, I am only just now posting my responses to her questions.  (FYI: I was much better at real tag when I was a kid.  I was totally that person who “rescued” all the frozen people in freeze tag.)

Anyway . . . the rules:

1.  You must post the rules.
2.  Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post and then create eleven new questions to ask the  people you’ve tagged.
3.  Tag eleven people and link to them on your post.
4.  Let them know you’ve tagged them!


Andi’s questions:

1. Who would rank on your list of crushworthy authors–either for their skillz or their cutiepieness?

Once upon a time I had a running list of Men I Was Going to Marry. With the exception of Jon Stewart, everyone on the list was a children’s author or illustrator. Now that I’m older and more mature, I *totally* don’t have a list like that anymore, but if I did, this is who would be on it:

Mo Willems, Jon Scieszka, David Shannon, Dav Pilkey, Oliver Jeffers, Graeme Base, Neil Gaiman, John Green, Terry Pratchett, David Sedaris (yes, I know he’s gay), Lemony Snicket, Chris Raschka, Steve Jenkins, Jerry Pinkney, David Wiesner, and Ian Falconer.

Also book crushworthy: Isabel Allende, Louise Erdrich, Ursula K. LeGuin, Jane Austen, Susanna Clarke, Anne Fadiman, Sandra Boynton, Emily Gravett, Harper Lee, Ayelet Waldman, Alice Walker, Peggy Rathmann, Gail Carriger, Diana Wynne Jones, and Debi Gliori

. . . and many, many more.


2. What is your favorite guilty pleasure book if you have guilty pleasure reading?

I maybe sometimes occasionally read a romance novel.


3. Which literary female heroine would you most like to be for a day and why?

Tiffany Aching. Why? Dude, she smacks a monster on the head with a frying pan. In the first chapter.


4. Which television female heroine would you most like to be for a day and why?

Brenda Leigh Johnson from The Closer. Because she is awesome.


5. If you found out you were preggers (stop hyperventilating) OR if you were buying for a friend or family member, which children’s book would you consider a MUST HAVE for beginning a child’s library?

You HAD to write BOOK instead of BOOKS. Fine. The must-have book for a new kiddo’s library . . . this is really, really hard, by the way . . . is Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann. It is a shining example of why I love picture books. The text is sparse yet effective, and the illustrations reveal something new every time you read the book. Plus, in addition to featuring your standard zoo animals (gorilla, lion, giraffe, etc), it also has an armadillo in it. And who doesn’t love armadillos?


6. Do you have a favorite independent or small press? Why do they rock?

The only time I pay attention to who published a book is when I’m a) writing a works cited page or b) writing a review here (because for some reason I feel compelled to include the publishing info; too many years of writing essays, I suppose). So no, I don’t have a favorite independent or small press. I don’t really pay attention to that stuff. (Not that I don’t support independent publishers! Go, independent publishers!)


7. Have you read any independent or undersung books lately? Something that’s been flying under the bloggy radar?

No one here reads the Dear Dumb Diary books by Jim Benton. What is wrong with you people???


8. What’s on repeat on your MP3 player? (Selfish, I need new music.)

I just discovered Adele’s song “Rolling in the Deep” a few weeks ago, (no, I do not live under a rock), so for a while there that was on repeat all the time. Now I’m just listening to whatever comes on.


9. If you would be any pair of shoes, what would they be (feel free to refer to Pinterest or Google Image Search)?

Flip flops. Plain black ones.


10. If you won a million dollars, what would you do first?

This is a boring answer, but I would pay off all my student loans and credit cards. And then do a happy dance.


11. Adult beverage of choice?

Cherry coke and coconut rum. YUM.


I’m tagging:

Molly at bookhopping

Chandra at Chandra Universe

Kerry at Entomology of a Bookworm

Nicki at Fyrefly’s Book Blog

Jennifer at The Literate Housewife

Amy at Amy Reads

Aths at Reading on a Rainy Day

nomadreader at nomadreader


And their questions are . . .

1. Speaking of tag . . . what was your favorite playground game as a child?

2. Do you reread books? Why or why not?

3. What unread book has been sitting on your shelf the longest? Why haven’t you read it yet?

4. What’s your favorite place to get books? Second favorite?

5. Name one book from your pre-blogging days you’d like to review.

6. What literary character would you like to take out to coffee?

7. What book has surprised you recently? (you liked/disliked it more than you expected, it had unexpectedly plot twist, etc.)

8. Share one random fact about yourself we don’t know.

9. What’s your favorite odd food combination?

10. When you were a kid, you wanted to grow up and be a ____________.

11. Pancakes or waffles?


If anyone else wants to answer the questions, go for it!  I am particularly interested in your answer to #11 🙂  Thanks, Andi, for tagging me!

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My blogging in 2011 may have been less than impressive, but it was a great year for reading.  If you take a peek at my 2011 book list (sorry about the formatting; blame the Blogger –> WordPress move), you’ll see that not only did I read a bajillion books, but that there were very few duds among them.  Hurray!

I only had a few months last year when I didn’t get a lot of reading done: January (when my thesis was consuming my every waking and sleeping moment), April (new job), and June (moving, presenting at the ChLA Conference, entertaining a house guest).  I more than made up for these low reading months in November, though, when I sprained my ankle and was stuck at home for over a week.  While spraining my ankle made me absolutely batty, it also made me very grateful for two things: 1) a comfortable couch, and 2) my love of reading.  I don’t know how I would have survived otherwise.

In other news, there’s an end of the year reading survey floating around the book blogosphere (created by The Perpetual Page-Turner) and I’ve decided to steal Andi’s idea and do an abbreviated version of it.  Without further adieu . . .


Best Book You Read In 2011? 

I tried answering this. Tried and failed.


Most Disappointing Book/Book You Wish You Loved More Than You Did?

I’ve mentioned this before, but I have to say it again: Room by Emma Donoghue. That book had one of the most unrealistic child narrators I have ever read. I know, I know, he grew up sheltered, etc, etc, etc, but he had a very articulate mother who talked to him ALL THE TIME. His language skills should not have been so poorly developed.


Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2011?

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud. For years my mom and brothers gasped dramatically whenever I confessed I hadn’t read the Bartimaeus series yet. When I finally picked them up this year I figured they would be good, but I didn’t expect them to be witty and clever and original, too.  Definitely worth re-reading.


Book you recommended to people most in 2011?

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett. Actually, I recommended the entire Tiffany Aching series. Multiple times. And with lots of gushing.


Best series you discovered in 2011?

See above. And now read them if you haven’t already.


Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2011?

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Confession: while I really liked it, I am not quite the gushing Hunger Games fan that everyone else seems to be. Nonetheless, this book held me in its grip from start to finish. I could hardly put it down.


Book you most anticipated in 2011?

Heartless by Gail Carriger. Because Alexia Tarabotti cracks me up.


Favorite cover of a book you read in 2011?

I actually wasn’t a huge fan of the book, but I still love the cover:

Most beautifully written book read in 2011?

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. See: every review written.


Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2011? 

The book that comes immediately to mind is A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. I was a weepy mess when I finished it.


Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2011 to finally read? 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. I have no excuse. Everyone around me loved this book. I have no idea why it took me a year to read it.


One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2012?

Continue to read deliberately and improve my blogging habits.


Did you answer this survey?  Or any end-of-the-year survey?  Tell me!  I’d love to read your answers.

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