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Showing posts from September, 2010

This and That

October is National Medical Librarians' Month. (Yes, the whole month!) To celebrate at the hospital where I work, I'm doing something I started last October--having a reading contest. I gave random prizes throughout the month, and then the "top readers" won bookstore gift cards.

Last year, I had participants report the number of pages read on a weekly basis. I quickly learned that probably wasn't the best route to go because two people went far into the lead early, leading me to create three tiers of readers to keep the "contest" interesting. This year, I'm having participants report minutes/hours spent reading on a weekly basis, and I think that should make the contest more competitive. We'll see soon enough whether I'm right or if I need to go to a two- or three-tier system again.

Interestingly enough, all of the winners chose a gift card to Barnes & Noble last time, despite each person having the option of selecting any booksto…

Demon from the Dark by Kresley Cole

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Demon from the Dark (2010), the latest release in Kresley Cole's uber-popular Immortals After Dark series, is the story of witch Carrow Graie, vemon (as in demon plus vampire) Malkom Slaine, and an eight-year-old girl named Ruby.

The Order has Ruby, Carrow's niece and soon-to-be-adopted daughter, and to get her back, Carrow needs to bring Malkom to them.

This is sort of a loose spin on the Tarzan and Jane story since Malkom can't even talk to Carrow at first, he's extremely powerful and untamed, and Carrow eventually gets him back to her version of civilization.

The part of the story that didn't quite work for me is the fact that Carrow didn't just ask Malkom for his help. Instead of betraying him to save Ruby, she could easily have obtained his help with rescuing Ruby. I know, I know; you have to have the conflict for the relationship to overcome according to the romance formula.

Why, though? Why is that the formula? Why can't we just have a nice little…

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco Stork

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After being drawn to Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco Stork (2009) by the cover, the concept of a story revolving around a teenage boy on the Autism spectrum pulled me into actually reading the book.

Marcelo is seventeen and has always gone to a school for children with special needs. He's comfortable there, interacting with the other kids and working with the horses. He's even all set to start a summer job working with the ponies, learning how to train them to interact with the kids.

Then his father issues an ultimatum. Marcelo either spends the summer between his junior and senior years of high school working in the mailroom at Dad's law firm, or Marcelo has to go to regular school for senior year. If he is successful living in the "real world" for the summer, Marcelo can choose which school to attend.

Marcelo hears music in his head, doesn't understand social expressions and cues, and has a difficult time with activities and situations a lot of peop…

The Duff: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger

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I want to admit right away that I likely wouldn't have kept reading The Duff: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger (2010) much beyond the beginning pages if I didn't regularly read and enjoy her blog so much.

That being said, I'm (a) glad I kept reading and (b) convinced that someone younger would appreciate this book much more. There are times that being forty while reading a book written for--and by, in this case, as Kody is a teenager--current teens is a disadvantage. I certainly felt a generation gap while thinking "I'd never have gotten to know this jerk better. Well, maybe when I was 17 I would have, but I wouldn't waste my time on someone who treated me that way now."

"This jerk" is Wesley Rush, the guy who gets around in school, and the first one to refer to our heroine, Bianca, as the Duff of her group. He even starts calling her Duffy.

Somehow, smart, loyal, snarky Bianca still manages to fall into a fling with Wesley. File i…

This and That

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"I know this is Maya's toy, but I'm just holding it. I'm not hurting it. Honest. I'm the world's best behaved Rottie ever, and I know this isn't food. I'd already have eaten the little stuffed froggy if I thought it was food. . . ."

And we have an official name for our Shih tzu--Muffin Crystal Ford, called Muffin or Muffy. Maya decided Crystal is an even fancier name than Diamond.

We're in the middle of Banned Books Week 2010. To learn more, visit the ALA (American Libraries Association) site.

Or, even better yet, read a book from one of the lists of the most frequently challenged books of 2007, 2008, or 2009 to mark the week. The Huffington Post has the listings here.

I won't be posting a review of An Unforgettable Lady written by J.R. Ward under the name Jessica Bird. From what I did read--the beginning couple of chapters and the end--I'd file this under "book written before author became famous/never should have seen the …

Cleo: The Cat Who Mended a Family by Helen Brown

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Even though I haven't been a cat person since I saw the tomcat on my grandparents' farm that I used to cuddle and carry around like a baby "playing" with a mouse, I still loved Helen Brown's Cleo: The Cat Who Mended a Family (2010). (Put me firmly in the "Dogs Rule" camp, though.)

At the beginning of the book, we see Brown in a somewhat difficult marriage (two very different people who almost fell into getting married at a young age) and a life revolving around her two young sons--Sam, age nine, and Rob, age six.

Then Sam is hit by a car while crossing in a dangerous location, leaving behind unimaginable grief and devastation for his parents and brother.

Shortly after his death, the cat Sam was waiting to receive as his belated birthday present, already named Cleo by him, arrives. Helen doesn't want the cat, at first, but Rob does. After all, this is Sam's cat.

So begins a story covering 24 years in Helen's life, all with Cleo involved. Year…

Miss Smith and the Haunted Library by Michael Garland

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Maya's first order of books purchased through a fundraiser for her school arrived this week. Her favorite selection is Miss Smith and the Haunted Library by Michael Garland (2009).

Zack and the rest of his classmates get to take a surprise trip with their favorite teacher, Miss Smith, to the public library. Imagine a library that looks like a haunted house and is staffed by a woman named Virginia Creeper. Add the obvious fall setting, and it's hard not to think of Halloween and scary happenings.

Then Virginia Creeper begins reading her favorite selections from Miss Smith's Incredible Storybook. Suddenly, creatures like the Headless Horseman, Captain Hook, and the Jabberwocky are coming out of the book and joining the kids at the library.

How terrifying--or maybe it's actually fun, really, and time to have a party!

Our overall personal rating of the vividly illustrated, highly entertaining Miss Smith and the Haunted Library is an A.

Maya also ordered a set of Scooby-Do…

Worlds Apart

Yes, I'm a little behind, but I finally saw the wonderful 2008 Dutch film (with English sub-titles) Worlds Apart on the Sundance Channel.

Loosely based on a true story, Sara (Rosalinde Mynster) is a Jehovah's Witness teenager strongly tied to her family and her faith. Until she meets Teis (Johan Philip Asbaek), not a member of her faith, and begins to learn about the possibilities of the outside world.

Although a romance, the movie is really about Sara's struggle to find her own path, to make her own decisions about what she thinks, feels, and wants to do with her life--even if that comes into conflict with her family and their fundamentalist beliefs.

What young adult can't relate to that struggle for independence?

My absolute favorite scene is just after a funeral, when Sara talks for a moment with her father.

My only disappointment about the film? I only had the chance to see Worlds Apart once!

This and That

One more comment on Easy A that I forgot to put in Monday's post--Besides either having Amanda Bynes play the role differently, or casting someone else, I wouldn't have chosen Penn Badgely for the guy of interest. He struck me more as a Patrick Dempsey, who never was my type, than a John Cusack, Judd Nelson, or Michael Schoeffling. At least his role really was small. (Yes, I loved Jake Ryan, but Lloyd Dobler--yummy!)

Would anyone else have loved to go to Lincoln Center for The Breakfast Club reunion? (Okay, I'm not sure I want to know about it if you did go!!!) As an aside--Emilio, filming a movie in Toronto? Seriously?? You couldn't fly to New York for a couple of days for the 25th anniversary of something that turned into the defining movie of a generation, a cult classic, and to honor the legacy of John Hughes?

Anyone planning to read Freedom by Jonathan Franzen? I think I'll wait until the Oprah Book Club hype ends and then check out one of the trillion c…

Easy A

I had so much fun watching the new teen movie, Easy A, on Friday evening. Emma Stone is great to watch, and how could I not like a movie referencing Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, my all-time favorite book?

My favorite parts included a shout-out to the leading men in the 1980s teen movies, a section showing what Stone's character actually did on the weekend she supposedly lost her virginity to a guy in community college, and pretty much every scene with her parents (played superbly by Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci).

There were a few moments that didn't seem terribly realistic, and Amanda Bynes as the leader of a group of high school "Jesus Freaks" is over-the-top campy when a more subtle approach would have been chilling and played better.

Overall, though, if you enjoyed those 1980s movies like Say Anything, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, etc., you should enjoy Easy A, too.

Maya's take-away from the movie, "You should…

Ruthless by Anne Stuart

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Ruthless (2010) is the first entry in Anne Stuart's House of Rohan historical romance series.

Elinor Harriman is intelligent, loyal, very practical--and also penniless and trying to keep the household, including her lovely younger sister, afloat while dealing with a mother addicted to gambling and men. (Not much in the way of mother-daughter love in this story, but the two sisters have a strong, supportive relationship.)

Enter Viscount Rohan, jaded by life and having the money and dark good looks to get anything (or anyone) he wants. Leader of a group of English aristocrats living in Paris during the mid-1700s, he seems to live only for his next moment of debauchery.

But then he finds the wonderful Elinor, and the seemingly unequal couple is actually quite well-matched in temperament and intellect. And Elinor actually needs the kind of assistance only someone like Rohan can supply when matters in her extended family come to a head.

Excerpt from Kindle Location 1327-1341:

"And I…

This and That

I had a phone interview for a job in Bermuda yesterday morning. I definitely have the right education and experience for the position because it's doing exactly what I've been doing for 11 1/2 years--working as a hospital librarian.

I think I did fine on answering all of the questions, except the one asking about whether I'd be bringing anyone to the island with me if I'm the successful candidate for the position. Sigh. Seems like the goal is to fill the island positions with single ex-pats whenever possible.

Not holding my breath, in other words, though I should only have to wait ten working days for word. Very reasonable.

If nothing else, I'm enjoying learning more about Bermuda. The biggest concerns, from what I've read, are ants, cockroaches, mold, (fresh) water shortages, and the cost of living. If you want to assure yourself that you have a decent cost of living wherever you happen to be, check into the rent prices in Bermuda. WOW! Then look at the…

Shadows at Midnight by Elizabeth Jennings

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Shadows at Midnight (2010) is the latest romantic suspense novel from Elizabeth Jennings, aka Lisa Marie Rice.

Defense analyst Claire Day gets seriously injured while on assignment at an American embassy in a fictional African country. U.S. Marine Dan Weston, who requested assignment to the embassy detail just to be close to Claire, who doesn't even see him as a person until the day of the explosion, is also injured.

Flash forward to a year later, and the bulk of the story, when Claire has no memory of the explosion and the preceeding week of her life and remaining serious health issues, plus questions about what happened when she was injured--and her best friend also died. When she sees Dan, now the owner of his own security business, on t.v., she travels to D.C. for some answers about what happened.

Imagine Dan's shock to find the woman of his dreams, the woman he spent a year thinking was dead, at his office. At his office, and asking lots of questions that need to be ans…

Dracula in Love by Karen Essex

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After wavering about whether I wanted to read Dracula in Love by Karen Essex (2010), I read StephanieD at Misfit Salon's review. Put up the "sold" sign!

I really enjoyed Essex's expansion of the original Dracula by Bram Stoker, told this time from Mina's point of view, with the goal of telling the "true story" of what happened, an actual rebuttal to Stoker's version of "true events." Essex manages to take Stoker's original story and add a depth and sensuality that brings shades of the best of Ann Rice to mind. Her Mina is so vivid, completely fascinating, and actually more interesting than Dracula. The chemistry between Mina and "my love," as she calls him, is spellbinding.

All of this is done while remaining true to the overall spirit and writing style of Stoker's Dracula. I can't help wondering if he would enjoy the book--or find his own tale overshadowed--if alive today.

Here's a short excerpt from Kindle Loc…

Anti-Texas Longhorns Humor

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I admit that I have a Cafe Press t-shirt with the flag of Texas and these words beneath: Willing to Mess with Texas.

Just a little slam at the hubris of certain Texans. Not the ones who are my friends/pen pals, of course, just certain other ones. :)

As a Nebraska Cornhuskers fan, I also find this anti-Texas Longhorns message from a chain e-mail humorous:

Religious (and All) Book Burning

"There is only one religion of book burning. Whatever the book--a text from any religion, a novel, a philosophical treatise, a poem--those who cast it into the flames stand arm-in-arm with Goebbels on a square in Berlin worshipping at the altar of hatred. . . ." ~~John Ralston Saul, International PEN President

You can read the full text of his response to the threatened burning of the Quran at his site here.

And thank you to StephanieD at Misfit Salon for pointing me to this quote.

This and That

Somewhat good news to report today. The Iranian government decided to suspend the stoning sentence of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, imposed after her conviction on an adultery charge. This is only a suspension of the sentence, and she still faces a charge in connection with her husband's murder. Where there is time and life, there is hope, however.

You can read more in the Associated Press article here.

For those of you who don't know me personally, I despise Walmart. The way they encourage the enslavement of workers in Third World countries, the way they show their employees how to register for food stamps and other benefits while Sam's children are billionaires, the way they push the local mom-and-pop businesses out of existence when they enter a town. . . . I could go on all day.

I certainly don't need any additional reasons to dislike the corporate giant, but they always seem to provide new ones, anyway. Here's an interesting piece from Ohio.com about the w…

The Pirate by Katherine Garbera

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I'm seriously disappointed in The Pirate (2010), the latest in Katherine Garbera's The Savage Seven Series.

J.P. "Laz" Lazarus is an ex-Navy Seal working undercover as a captain tanker in order to stop some Somalian pirates. Daphne Barrett is a physician, divorced from a U.S. Senator, seeking new purpose in her life by going to Africa on a medical mission group, which is traveling on Laz's tanker.

Overall, the book could have benefited from strong editing. The fact that Daphne went in, literally the same, very short paragraph early in the story, from wondering if Laz might be involved with the Somalian pirates to pretty much not caring if she could just have sex with him, did nothing for this reader. I think a good editor could steer a good author to removing those sorts of errors that make the reader question the heroine's judgment.

Or has the good editor gone the way of everything else considered a "cost" or ding to the "profit margin&quo…

Making Peace

I think, now that I'm forty, I've finally made peace with myself about my relationship with my dad. Or lack of a relationship, really.

Today would have been his seventy-fourth birthday if he hadn't died in 1993, just after turning 57. I was 23 back then, and I hadn't reached the point where I could talk to him about what a lousy father he was to me. I hadn't reached the point where I could talk to him about anything important at all, even, since we weren't at all close. I was too young to remember really living with him before my parents divorced. Plus, I'm not sure how much he was even around before the divorce; to my mind, it didn't seem like he spent much time with us at all.

Then he didn't tell us (meaning my sisters and me) about his serious health issues, and any chance to say anything before it was too late evaporated.

Knowing that we all have a limited time in this life, and we generally don't know when that time is going to end, is …

This and That

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Muffin--or maybe Diamond--and Maya on Saturday. Maya wavers between wanting to continue to call her Muffin, the name she came to us with, and Diamond, Maya's name choice. Since we told Maya this is "her" dog, we'll go with whatever name she chooses.

If anyone knows any dances or chants to drive away rain, please let me know. I'm desperate enough to try anything. We had more flooding in our basement last night, and lucky Herb, my husband, is spending his day cleaning, tearing up carpet, etc.

Interesting article at Oregon.live titled Public Libraries: Diverse Picture of Patrons Emerges Here, Elsewhere. You can read the full text here. I don't believe this is shocking information to anyone in the "library world," but nice to get into the mainstream press.

Highlight point for me:

A 2008 Harris Poll found that 68 percent of Americans had a library card and that 76 percent had visited a library in the year prior. Newer research shows that library usage …

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer--American Cancer Society

We'll see how much my out-of-shape body regrets this decision in October, but I joined a team from the hospital where I work walking in next month's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event. Besides raising awareness of breast cancer, all of the funds collected by participants go to the American Cancer Society.

If you want to make a donation, here's the link to my personal page. The money goes directly to the American Cancer Society.

For a little extra incentive, if you make a donation of any amount, please leave a comment with your e-mail address on this message--or contact me directly at Choco223@aol.com if you don't want to leave your e-mail on a public blog posting. I plan to give "a little something" (blank journal, box of notecards, bookmark, etc.) to everyone who makes a donation.

Thank you!

International Quilt Museum--Lincoln, NE--August 28, 2010

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Maya's favorite part of the International Quilt Museum is the staircase.

The interactive displays run a close second for Maya. I really enjoyed that aspect, too, especially since they have quite a few of my two favorite kinds of quilts--Victorian and Amish.

How cool that the sculpture in front of the museum actually includes chairs for visitors!