Friday, September 28, 2012

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares

While browsing his favorite bookstore, The Strand, Dash finds a red notebook that contains a challenge.  He wanders through the store collecting the books that will lead to his next clue and when he finishes it, he discovers that he is now playing a game with a girl named Lily.  Both are minus parents at Christmas and looking for some distraction in the form of this notebook.  But as the notebook gets passed back and forth and the challenges get stranger for each person, Dash begins to wonder if real Lily will live up to notebook Lily.  Meanwhile, Lily is just trying to break free from her family and be a normal teenager.  It all comes to a head when a huge bull mastiff dog lands them in jail together, and that time together makes them think about being together beyond the notebook.

I love both of these authors.  You already know about my love for Everyday by David Levithan, and Beta by Rachel Cohn and I could wax nostalgic all day about their backlist, including the famous Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist, which wasn't completely ruined by the movie.  I love the back and forth of these characters and how completely different they are.  Dash is a worldly, brooding loner, while Lily is completely over protected and childlike.  Also, the supporting characters are just as wonderful, with dog-like Boomer, sullen cousin Mark, Mrs. Basil E. and grandpa who is a sweet-hearted hound dog.

What I appreciated most about this book was that Lily grew up.  She began as shy, rather outcast Shrilly, but she had made herself that way.  By the end she had so much more than Dash.  She'd had an adventure, got a dog, and found some real friends from her soccer team that up until that point she had largely ignored.  Her growth was the star for me.

But Dash grew in his own way too.  He came to realize that his previous relationship with Sofia wasn't the right thing, and that you can't dream someone up on paper and expect them to be that in real life.  I feel like Dash had his own community too by the end of the book, which is refreshing.  In finding each other, Dash and Lily each were given so much more.

And let's comment on some of the snarkiness.  The Disney movie Collation sounds real.  The love between office supplies and how they are personified was hilarious and spot on.  If Levithan and Cohn would ever want to truly sell their souls for profit, that movie would be it.  And the mommy-bloggers with their code crimson!  Plus the fact that Boomer reads the mommy blogs was just too precious.  I don't have a ton of room to talk, since I'm a book blogger, but you don't see me sending out code crimsons when someone destroys a book.

Overall, this is a great read.  It's quick, fun. light, but not sugar.  It's not some guilty pleasure book, but just a genuinely fun and entertaining read.  I would love to see this become a movie.  It would be such a great non-cheesy Christmas movie.  Like Nick and Nora with santa and a snarly muppet.  I'm seeing it in my head and it's perfect!

Let's pose the expiration date question.  I loved it, but as we all know, I'm still living in a suspended adolescence.  This isn't a big crossover book.  I would say that if you're not a true YA fan, then this book wouldn't be for you.  You need to have the right sense of humor for this book, and liking Everyday and Beta will not lead to a love for this book.  Liking Wide Awake or Gingerbread will lead you to this book.  You have to be able to laugh at it.  I would say if you like the show Two Broke Girls, you'll find this funny.  So, yes to teen readers, yes to most twenty-somethings, and for those of us 30 and up, read with caution.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Princess Academy

Princess Academy (Princess Academy, #1)

Miri lives in a small village perched on a mountain where everyone mines for linder, a stone used for flooring and decoration all over the kingdom, but since Miri is so small, her father forbids her to work in the mines.  Miri does have one important job though and that is haggling with the traders, so she is in the village when the message that the next queen will come from her village and that a princess academy will be set up to teach all eligible young ladies.  Dozens of girls are sent to the academy, but Miri is soon singled out by the tutor as a trouble maker, since she believes their treatment is not fair, and the top of the class.  But she is able to regain the groups trust by learning quarry talk, a means of communication that is only possible around linder, and she is about to communicate warnings to the girls.  Miri not only becomes the hero of the academy, but of the whole town, and she starts to believe that living as a princess may not be enough for her.

As I mentioned a couple days ago, I read this book in short spurts on my phone and Kindle.  I'm wondering if that caused my detachment to the book now.  I felt that the story was over long.  Miri learned quarry talk, regained the trust of her friends, made the town prosper with her new knowledge of economics, and re-evaluated her priories regarding the prince.  That should be enough.  I felt that the whole episode with the bandits and Britta's betrayal was too much.  Miri was already the hero of this story, why does she need to be the saint too.  

But, like I said, maybe my choice of reading device hindered my reading.  That's one of the biggest problems of reading on the Kindle, or phone, you have no concept of length.  When reading a physical book it is easy to see how much farther you have to go, but on a Kindle, or phone, you only get a percentage marker, and your "pages" are not truly pages.  Especially with a phone because the screen is so small, you are flipping "pages" every couple of seconds.  

I found Miri to be a likeable character, even if she was an obvious hero.  It would have made for a more interesting story if Britta, being the outsider, had learned quarry talk and earned the begrudging respect of her peers, then re-evaluated her love for the prince and decided that her father's goals for her were not enough.  That might be too much of a political rant for children though, so let's keep this book the way it is.

I'm going to blame my slight dislike of this book on two things:  the device I choose to read it on, and the simplistic, rather predictable message.  But since this is a book for 4th graders and not feminists, the message is fitting.  

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Amazon Recommends

If I post two short little posts today, does that make up for the fact that I still have not finished The Princess Academy and do not have a review for you?  It does!  Swell!

(I'm bringing back the work swell.  It's a thing)

This lovely gem found it's way to my inbox today:

Since I order books for fun and work from my same Amazon account, I often get recommendations for the newest in YA lit, plus books on Quantum Physics in the same breath.  This is just one of the things that makes me laugh during the day.  I wonder if there is someone working for Amazon that sometimes happens upon these lists and thinks, "why is this chick so into children's lit, scrapbooking and quantum physics?  One of these things is not like the other."  I sincerely hope so, and I hope that I confuse the heck out of this guy and that he shakes his head in frustration at my varied Amazon purchases. 

Which of these books would you purchase?  Any takers on the Quantum Mechanics book?  Maybe just for some light, beach reading?

Happy Reading!

I've already walked 2.5 miles today!

Today is the Western Walks-a-thon.  The day when all of us office junkies are told to get up and walk if off for one hour to raise money for Samaritan Well, the local shelter and food bank.  I did my walking bright and early at 7:00 am and in my one hour turn I walked 2.5 miles.  Not too bad.  I've got to up the pace if I want to do the Haunted Hill 4 mile course at the end of October, because the race official told me that I have to cross the finish line before night fall and the race starts at 4:00.  Maybe the hill really is haunted if they are so strict about completion times.  

As to why I want to walk a 4 mile course instead of run it like a normal person, my knee is all jacked up.  Which is a really crummy thing when you're 30.  I talked to my doctor about all the popping, but he acted like it was no big deal, well, it's kinda getting to be a big deal.  The more active I try to be (with walking and pilates and yoga) the more tightness I feel in my knee.  Not pain, just not a great feeling. 

But today I've already done my training, plus I know that I'll have another 30 minute walk over lunch, so tonight will be free for reading!  And clearing out space on the DVR.  New show season is so much fun!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Splendors and Glooms

Splendors and Glooms

Puppets, magic, mourning, and redemption compromise this Victorian-era tale.  Lizzie Rose and Parsefall work for the puppet master, Grisini, a man whose talent with puppets is only surpassed by his cruelty.  The small troupe is invited to perform at Clara Wintermute's birthday party, despite her parents hesitation.  But when Clara shows absolute joy at the performance, even though the house is in a prolonged mourning period, her mother becomes quite angry and speaks words out of rage.  Then Clara goes missing the next day, and all eyes are on Grisini and his two wards.  What has actually happened to Clara is beyond belief and how she ends up saving Lizzie Rose and Parsefall from the scheming Madama and her evil fire opal is incredible as well.  This is a long, detailed journey, but with each chapter told by a different narrator and so many complex characters to examine, determined readers will find an enchanting and unforgettable story here.

That's the short review.  The School Library Journal review, if you will.  That's what's on my Goodreads, but let's really talk about Splendors and Glooms.  WARNING:  I try very hard not to give too much away, but with so much going on in this book, some important parts might slip.

Let's talk about each character in turn.  Clara is a passionate, excitable girl living in the wrong time period.  She wants to be and do so much, but because her siblings have passed, she must instead live with survivor's guilt and try to be the perfect child.  Lizzie Rose was once a lady of the theatre and she is good and pure of heart, so living on the streets with Grisini does not suit her caring, generous nature.  Parsefall is a street rat and actually prefers to live that way, although he was once loved so dearly that he is afraid to be loved again.  Madama is conflicted, the very thing that is giving her power is killing her, yet she knows that she stole it, and that weighs on her conscience.  That she is given redemption just before her passing is incredible, and really shows the humanity in the story.  Dr. Wintermute was silent when his children died, but he becomes active when Clara disappears.  He refuses to mourn any longer, and of all the characters, I believe that he changed the most.  Meanwhile, Grisini did not change at all.  He was evil to start and evil to finish, but that Lizzie Rose saw to end his torture shows that at least she saw something worthy in him.  

The setting was clear and beautiful.  Many writers have examined a dirty and dark London in the late 1800's, and Schlitz does not break any new ground here, but her description of Strachan's Ghyll is quite wonderful.  With the crumbling tower, dark woods, and crisp winter air, there was much to discover.

Let's talk about popularity.  This could create some Newbery buzz.  I would honestly rather see this with a medal than Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!, but alas, it likely won't happen.  This book will be a hard sell.  It's long, slow, and very descriptive.  Like I said, it will take a determined reader to get through this book.  I do think, however, that this would make an excellent read aloud, not just for children, but adults as well.  Why not take this to a nursing home and read a few chapters?  It's a fairy tale, and you are never too old for fairy tales.  Libraries will certainly carry this book, but it won't get great checkouts, and I highly doubt that it makes the Caudill list either, but it is certainly lovely and I'm glad to own it.

Overall, I would recommend Splendors and Glooms to adults needing a lighter period story and to solid readers that would like to read something with a little weight.

Happy Reading!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Garage Sale Books

I know that this post is quite late since garage sale season is almost over, but I still feel the need to share.  I was raised on garage sales.  My mom loves them, and they lure her in like sirens calling to a ship full of pirates.  Every time my mom comes and visits me in the spring or summer she'll say "We stopped at two rummage sales and this is what I got!"  Or sometimes she'll comment on how they need to learn to price their stuff, or that she knows they have better stuff in the house and they are just holding out on her.

Sidenote:  I really think that my mom should write a rummage sale book, about pricing, organization, general tips, that kind of thing.  She's an expert at this stuff and I think her knowledge of second-hand clothing and housewares could solve all of our economic woes. 

Anyway, my sister inherited my mom's full, unrestrained love for rummage sales, but I'm a little more hesitant about them.  Doug hates when I bring home clutter, and I just don't have the patience or creative vision for some stuff.  But I valiantly tried to shop rummage sales this summer and guess what I brought home:  books.

My problem with rummage sales is that I feel compelled to buy something from the people, especially if there are adorable little kids running around and books seem like a harmless enough purchase.  I did buy a couple books for Anthony, which are easy to ship and pretty disposable as he ages, unlike toys.  But I also bought several books for myself, mainly those by Sarah Dessen and Sharon Creech.

Someone Like YouKeeping the Moon
First up, Sarah Dessen.  I picked up these two books for a dollar at one rummage sale.  I'd never read Sarah Dessen, but I knew she published a ton of books, and I was under the impression that she wrote cozy, innocent, small town books for teen girls.  Not so much!  If you read my post from Friday, you'll know that in Someone Like You, a girl has sex for the first time, her boyfriend dies the next day, and she must carry his love child in shame until she delivers on prom night.  Keeping the Moon is a little less heavy handed, but the love-yourself-no-matter-what-others-say-message is pretty forced as well.  Both of these books were early Sarah Dessen, and according to the Goodreads reviews, she's come a long way since.  Were these two books worthy of my dollar-absolutely!  I got to read an author that I'd heard a ton about, but never read before.  And just because she's not my cup of vanilla soy latte doesn't mean that she's a bad author.  I'd recommend her to a reader.

Chasing RedbirdBloomability

Next up, two Sharon Creech books purchased from my neighbors for maybe $0.50.  These were in pretty bad shape, so both are destined for the trash can when I'm done reading them.  They were a little water damaged and worn, but there was still one reading left in them.  I'd read Walk Two Moons in grad school.  Actually, I didn't like the book and didn't finish it before my lit class, but after everyone talked about it, I went back and finished it.  Sharon Creech is great at the meaningful, optimistic tale.  Chasing Redbird is about a young girl mourning her aunt and finding her place in the family by escaping the family for a while.  In Bloomability, a young girl leaves her rather dysfunctional family to attend a boarding school in Switzerland.  Both books are quick, light, and full of heartfelt hope.  Plus, they both oddly connect toward the end.  Even though they take place a world apart, they both have a homespun feel and the characters are simple, honest, hardworking folk.  I enjoyed getting Sharon Creech for a bargain and would always take that gamble again.

I also picked up some adult books at rummage sales this summer that I'll likely never read.  I grabbed Loving Frank, A Million Little Pieces, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, not to mention The Help, which I got at a silent auction this winter.  I'll probably read The Help sometime, but the others will eventually go on my own garage sale.

Overall verdict of garage sale books, buy the children's and YA books, but skip the adult books, and beware guys that are too salesmen-y.  I ended up with a bunch of golf balls that way, and my hubby was not impressed.

Happy Reading!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Expiration Date

While working on another post, I remembered that I really need to do a post on expiration dates.  In regards to children's and teen books, I mean.  I have long believed that certain books have an expiration date, and my go to example for this is Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Lois Sachar.

Sideways Stories From Wayside School (Wayside School #1)

Don't get me wrong-this is a great book for kids, but I think to fully appreciate it, readers need to be in that weird age between 2nd and 4th grade.  Their sense of humor is a little wacky at this time, and this book speaks so directly to that, that it's just genius really.  That Louis Sachar could write a book so perfectly suited for that age group as a grown man is pretty astonishing.  But I'm telling you, if you read it after that window of time has closed, it's just a strange little book.

But more important examples of this come in the form of young adult literature.  With so much crossover appeal, YA has become the next big thing for adult readers, but not all YA books are meant to be read by adults.  One classic example is Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger.

The Catcher in the Rye

Don't yell at me yet, Salinger is classic and brilliant and lalala.  But, I read this book and loved it and identified so closely with it in high school, but when I had to re-read it for a young adult lit class in grad school, I thought Holden was a lazy, whiny jerk.  Basically, I'd grown up, Holden hadn't and I just couldn't take it.

Then there's the book that jogged my memory about writing this post: Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen.

Someone Like You

You'll read more about why I bought this book at a rummage sale next week, but I picked it up, read it and just laughed at how ridiculously preachy it was.  Here's part of my Goodreads review:

"Halley gets a call at her summer camp that her best friend, Scarlett needs her because Scarlett's boyfriend Michael was killed in a motorcycle accident. Halley is busy comforting her friend, fighting with her mom, working at a grocery store, and creating a new love interest when she finds out that Scarlett is pregnant with Michael's baby. They only had sex one time, the night before he was killed, and now she's carrying his love child."

That's the gist of it.  Have sex one time and your boyfriend will die and leave you with a baby that you will deliver on prom night.  No kidding!  Oh, and Halley is way too scared to have sex with her boyfriend, because what if she ends up just like Scarlett!  

Now, had I read this when I was sixteen, I know that I would have related.  Actually this book did come out when I was sixteen, so there are no cell phones, no texting, no Facebook, no internet.   Aside from my theories that you should not read this book after high school, I honestly wonder what teens would think of it today.  It has not aged well.

But that's not my point.  My point is that with all the angst and all the drama and all the sensationalism, this is not a crossover book.  Someone Like You needs to stay firmly in the Young Adult section, and should only be read by adults looking to laugh at their youth.  To me, this sounds like a bad after school special wrapped up in a sex ed lesson from an abstinence only campaign.

To be fair, Goodreads reviews suggest that Sarah Dessen has come a long way as an author, and I'm not saying that she is a poor author, just that she is writing for a very specific audience.  I also said that had I read this at 16, I would have loved it.  But my 30 year self just could not stop laughing at this whole situation.

What other YA books out there should stay firmly in YA land?  I suggested Daughter of Smoke and Bone to one book club member and while she really did like it, she said that she could really sense that teen angst in the background.  Is that necessarily a bad thing?  Do you sometimes bristle at the preachiness of some "crossover" books?  Let's discuss!  Drop me an email at or comment below to keep the conversation going!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Three Books, One Reader

If you follow me on Goodreads (and you should, by the way, because Goodreads is so much fun!  Find me by searching Tiffany Erickson), then you know that I am currently reading 3 books.  It's totally true.  Right now I am reading Splendors and Glooms, The Princess Academy, and Dash and Lily's Book of Dares.

Splendors and GloomsPrincess Academy (Princess Academy, #1)Dash & Lily's Book of Dares
To find out why I'm reading three books, let's look at the format.  I'm reading Splendors and Glooms in hardback, The Princess Academy on my phone via the Kindle app, and Dash and Lily's Book of Dares on my computer via NetGalley download.  So here is how my reading goes:  SG when I'm lounging at home, PA when I'm out and about (like at the high school football game this past weekend) and DLBD on my lunch break.

I started reading multiple books when I worked at the library, of course.  I typically had one book going at work, something that I was "required" to read for a program or reading list, one work book going at home, and a fun book going at home.  Reading multiple books got even easier with my Kindle and now that I have the Kindle app for my Droid, I have books with me everywhere! 

For the most part, this is a system that really works for me.  But there are some downfalls.  In order to read multiple books at a time, the book has to be engaging, but not so engrossing that it's all I want to read.  Then again, if a book is completely engrossing, I'll finish it in a day or two and be done.  But, as every reader knows, some books are hard to get into and demand your attention.  For instance, I've started The Scorpio Races twice, but haven't been able to make it past the first couple chapters.  I've read great things about that book, so I know that I'll just have to block some time, read five or more chapters in one sitting and just make it happen, but right now I can't dedicate that much time.

I haven't had a problem with forgetting book details or confusing the plots too often because when I read multiple books, I pick books that are very different.  SG is about puppeteers in the late 1800's, PA is about a mountain town in the 1700's (I would guess that's the time period) and DLBD is a modern YA book.  Plus, when I read multiples, it takes me longer to get through all the books and in a way, I actually end up remembering them all better.  Sometimes when I blow through books in a day, I forget what happened and it's like I never read the book at all.  For instance, I kept remembering this book where a prince uses the toast "Cheers m'dears", but I could not for the life of me remember it.  Turns out it was The Kneebone Boy, which I blew through in a day or two only a couple weeks before.  So, by reading three books at a time, it actually slows me down so I can enjoy and digest them all.

I switch up my reading alot, so after this three book adventure, I might be back to one books at a time, but since I read so much Children's and YA literature, I feel like I need to diversify more.  Who knows, but right now, this is the system that works for me.

Are you a one book-one reader kind of person, or do you like to read around?  Wow, this kinda makes me sound like a book slut.  I'm seeing Dash and Lily's Book of Dares behind Splendors and Glooms back, and having a fling with The Princess Academy.  My reading life is very complicated!

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Life is a Circus!

Happy Homecoming!  And Talk Like a Pirate Day!  But we'll only be talking about homecoming today.  If you are interested in Talk Like a Pirate Day, you need to check out a different blog.

On Monday, I showed you my office after a couple hours of decorating:

This year's Homecoming Theme was "Cirque du Western:  The Carnival Never Ends".  (I'm still waiting on my pony over here!)  My decorations had four main components:  Ceiling Decor, Garlands, Circus Pictures, and Balloon Animals.  Let's break it down!

For the ceiling, I made tissue paper flowers.  Was I the only person in the world that didn't know how easy this was?  Seriously!  I had so much fun making these.  I followed this tutorial from and the flowers look great!  I don't know, but they might be my favorite part.  I also hung purple balloons and gold star streamers around the room for even more fun.  That was the hardest part of this whole thing.  I didn't bring a step ladder so I ended up standing on a rickety, swiveley bar stool that is older than I am to pin everything to the ceiling tiles.  But that all fit the circus theme because it was quite an acrobatic feat. 

Next up:  Garlands!  I made these fun signs using the Cricut and scrapbook paper and lots of sticky tack to adhere them to the walls.  My department chair has been unknowingly dubbed "Ringmaster", while I am the "Lion Tamer".  I thought about being the snake charmer, but that seemed kinda mean.  But believe me, sometimes being a secretary feels like being a lion tamer since I do get growled at and sometimes people want to claw my face off.  Don't worry, the feeling is mutual!

But look at this darling lion!  Most of the time my professors are just little kittens like this guy.

On to circus pictures.  I grabbed some old-timey circus pictures from Google, glued them to yellow cardstock, laminated them, added the purple bow and, again, used a ton of sticky tack to get them on the walls.

My favorite is the lion tamer, for obvious reasons.  She's staring down those lions like a boss!  I have nine such photos around the office, and I get bonus points because one demonstrates a physics principle.

Finally, balloon animals.  I bought a $5 balloon animal kit at Walmart with the intention of covering my office in a balloon menagerie.  But by the time I got around to even experimenting with balloon animals, it was past 9:00 on Monday morning and I just needed to be done.  So, I learned how to make a basic dog, quickly churned out five of them, and called it a day.  I'm still really happy with these little guys though so I might have to learn how to make more.

And as promised, here is a picture of me in a tiny hat.

I was going for Lion Tamer, but I look more like a waitress with a tiny hat.  Whatever.

I would love to tell you that my office was the best decorated office on campus, but due to a malfunction during my registration, it wasn't even judged.  Sad face.  But, I know my office is the best, and you know my office is the best, so I am declaring myself the winner!  BEST AND MOST CREATIVELY DECORATED OFFICE ON CAMPUS!  Thank you very much!  This means the world me!

All in all, between making the flowers, garlands, pictures, and assembly, I probably put in about 8 hours of work.  But you can't argue with the result.  I smile every time I walk in the office.  How could you not smile?  It's amazing in here.  Most of my grad students are international students so they don't really understand Homecoming, but they are loving the decorations.  It's so funny to watch people's faces when they see the office for the first time.  Plus, it reminds me not to take myself so seriously, because it's really hard to be serious with tissue paper flowers hanging from the ceiling.

When I asked my department chair if I could decorate, he said "Whatever makes you happy".  I wonder if he regrets that now?  He might regret it when he sees what I have cooked up for Christmas!

Happy Homecoming!!

Legal disclaimer:  Again, the opinions in this blog are all mine and mine alone.  I'm just showing you how I got creative with decorating and this should not be a reflection on my employer.   Yada yada yada, la la la, don't sue me!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Just a Little Rant

This is just a quick little rant before I do a bigger post today about my homecoming decorating.  (Bonus Points on the quiz to the person that can correctly identity how many Einstein posters are in my office!)

I've discussed series books before here, but am I the only one that see "A New Series from (blank)" and feels nothing but dread!  It happened again today with The Diviners by Libba Bray.

The Diviners (The Diviners, #1)

This book looks incredible.  A young girl is shuttled off to New York to live with her eccentric uncle who is obsessed with the occult, but little does he know that his own niece holds a dark secret power that could help solve a murder.   Then I saw those words that fills me with dread "author Libba Bray opens a brand-new historical series"...NO!  I would love to read a single book and feel completely fulfilled, not have to wait on pins and needles for the next one (Laini Taylor-I'm being patient, but your book is still 6 weeks away.  Double Aside:  November 6 is Election Day, and the future of our country hangs in the balance and all I can think about is the release of Days of Blood and Starlight.  That might be un-American.  Or it might be very American since so few people vote.  I mean, I'm going to go vote, but I'll be reading on my Kindle while I'm in line.  And if it takes me a really long time in the voting booth it's most likely because I'm trying to finish the chapter.)

Anyway, now I'm left with the age old question for nerd-girls:  Do I read The Diviners right away or do I wait until the series is really underway so I don't have a long wait between books?  Knowing me I'll read it right away and be disgusted with myself for becoming so attached to the characters that I change all of my sign-in passwords to their names so I can remember them. 

I understand why authors write series instead of stand alone books.  Some stories are too big to tell in 300 pages.  Also, there's the added bonus of more book sales and more money.  But I love a book that is captivating in 300 pages.  There's something really nice about the brevity of it.  Right now I'm reading Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz and it's pretty great.  I can tell that the characters are going to stick with me and that I'm going to look back on it fondly. 

That's my rant.  The Series Conundrum Part 2, if you will.  I still don't know what I'll do about The Diviners, but if you read this and feel compelled to send me a copy of the book, then I will thank you with five pounds of chocolate and 1000 bonus points on your quiz.  Not that the points mean anything, but sometimes it's just nice to know that you earned that bonus.  

Happy Reading!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pop Quiz

What happens when you take a children's librarian out of the library and set her in the Physics Office at a mid-sized public university?

She eventually goes crazy and decorates the office in a circus theme.

Complete with balloon animals.  That's going on my resume!

 There is actually a reason for this.  I didn't just go nuts and start decorating.  It's Homecoming!  And the theme is Cirque du Western:  The Carnival Never Ends.  Aside:  If my workplace is a never-ending carnival, then shouldn't my office have a cotton candy machine and a pony?  I'm bringing this up at my next review.

You'll have to wait until tomorrow for more pictures, including a picture of me in a tiny hat, because my phone is being vvveeerrryy sssllloooww with the Instagram uploads. And because my favorite partner in crime hasn't stopped by my office to take a picture of me in my tiny hat yet.  I'll have to call her.

Until tomorrow!

Happy Reading!

Legal Note:  This blog is in no way, shape, or form acknowledged by my employer.  This is not a blog about my work or employer, just a blog to show you how I got creative in decorating for homecoming.  Any and all opinions are mine and mine alone and in no way reflect the beliefs of my employer.  Do you get it yet?  This blog is all about ME-as it should be.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Anthony's Book

Photo books are the perfect gift for any occasion.

Get your tissues!  It's another Anthony post!!

When Kimberly and Patrick were in the process of adopting Anthony, Kim wanted some books on adoption to assure him that this was a forever thing.  But most of the books on adoption deal with international adoptions, not domestic ones.  Anthony does understand that we are his forever family and that he grew in someone else's belly, but in Kim's heart, so he gets it for the most part.  Although he didn't understand Adoption Court so much, but that whole day was a little lackluster.

Anyway, I wanted to write a book for Anthony that explained to him that he is already the perfect child for our family because he is like us in so many ways.  And he is ours for better or worse, rain or shine, crazy or normal, peanut butter and jelly, Dave and Busters.  Okay, I know that got weird, but that's how Doug and I say our wedding vows to each other, so it shows the commitment that I have to this little man. (No, that's not how our wedding vows actually went, but that's how we remember them.)

So, this is my first crack at writing a children's book.  Gotta love self-publishing!  Now dad, you can get off my back about writing a kid's book.  I wrote one.  It's at your grandson's house.  Lay off me!

Full disclosure:  If you click on the see larger link you will be redirected to Shutterfly, where you can see the book in all it's glory, and order your own copy!  But none of the proceeds go to me or anything else cool, just Shutterfly, so maybe I'm not a published author.  Blast!  I'll get back to writing, dad.  

Happy Reading

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I am really not prepared

I didn't bring a number two pencil, I don't know where my calculator is, and I haven't owned a protractor in ten years.  I'm not at all prepared to post today.  I thought I was-honestly.  I was going to do this post about reading a galley on my Kindle and how my early generation Kindle messes up that experience, but then I realized that some pictures to drive home the point would be a good idea.  I could do what I always do when I don't have any idea what to post and pull up an old storytime and post it, but instead I thought I would be honest.  I am not prepared.

Isn't my honesty refreshing?  Aren't you glad to know that there is another person out there trying to act like they are all organized and together, but it's really all crazy, all the time?  See, this post was for you.  To let you know that you're not alone in faking your togetherness.

You're welcome.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Liar and Spy

Liar & Spy 

Georges and his family have to move from their Brooklyn house to an apartment, which when coupled with bullies at school is a really big deal.  Plus, since his dad lost his job, Georges mom has to work a lot of double shifts at the hospital, and his name is Georges, pronounced George, but most people don't understand that.

Then, on the first day at his new apartment, he sees a sign that says, Spy Club Meeting Today.  That's where he meets Safer, the unusual kid from upstairs and learns about his first assignment:  to spy on Mr. X, the man dressed all in black from the 4th floor who mysteriously walks around with suitcases all the time.  

Meanwhile at school, Georges science class is doing the unit of destiny, where a taste test becomes a matter of life, death and love.  During this unit, Georges learns more about struggling through bullying and who makes the rules at school.

You already know that I am a big fan of When You Reach Me, so I was very excited to read Liar and Spy.  The two books are not very similar, except that there is a strong friendship theme that runs through both.  There are a few big questions in this book:  Who is the liar and who is the spy and Who makes the rules?  Personally, I think that the second question is more important, but the first question makes for some great plot twists.  

I greatly enjoyed Liar and Spy and I'm very glad that I bought it.  It's just one of those great books that makes you believe in children's literature, and in some ways, the goodness of humanity.  I might be over exaggerating, but after a bunch of YA dystopian fiction, that's how I feel.  

As for Newbery buzz, yes it will get some buzz because it's Rebecca Stead and former winners always receive buzz.  I don't think that this will win though.  Not that it's not worthy, but I have a feeling that the committee will go big this year and pick something a little more out there.  This book is very reader friendly, though, so I would love to see it on the Caudill list in a couple years.  Especially since there is a male protagonist, this will be an easy sell.

Happy Reading!

Monday, September 10, 2012


Delirium (Delirium, #1)
Lena lives in a future dystopia where  love is considered a disease.  Everyone receives "the cure" around the age of 17 and this is a procedure that children are preparing for their whole life.  Each cured is matched with a mate, told how many children to have, and pushed into a predetermined profession.  It's controlled, it's predictable and it is for everyone's safety, but it's all a lie.  

Lena's mother committed suicide after having the cure three times and never being truly cured.  She raced out of the house one night after telling young Lena "I love you, remember that.  They can't take it".  Lena was then raised by her aunt and became an outcast for having a diseased family.  Many teens show signs of amor deliria nervousa, but the cure takes all of those symptoms away, along with any feeling or passion.

While on a normal run with her best friend Hana, Lena meets Alex, a cured that seems to have a secret.  Then Hana starts listening to non-approved music and going to parties.  Lena is trying to save Hana but at the same time, she's discovering a whole new world herself.  She befriends Alex and learns about his troubling past, and how that could effect her predictable future.

All in all, Delirium by Lauren Oliver is a thought provoking book.  What if your whole life was planned?  What happens to your relationships after the cure?  What would it be like to be raised in a world without love?  Not only are teens not allowed to show love toward members of the opposite sex, but parent's don't even show love to their children.  Parents treat child rearing as a chore or duty.  That's very disturbing to me.  But like so many dystopian heroines before her, Lena must choose between escaping to the wilds to survive on her own and fight, or accepting society promise for a perfectly predictable life, much like in Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series or Rachel Cohn's Beta.  That's a part of the dystopian genre, the main character must leave society to fight from the outside.  

Delirium is a good book and was definitely worth my time, but I realize that I have read too many YA dystopias lately because I am getting pretty cynical about them.  I have one more on my reading list, Divergent, but I'm putting that on the far back burner for right now so I can cleanse my palette with some light middle-grade chapter books, or even a big stack of picture books.  

Happy Reading!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Let's Play!

I've mentioned football several times on this blog and I do love football season.  Well, I love it for a month, and then I'm over it!  But, during that month, I love to do a sports-themed story time.  What better time to force your sports allegiance on unsuspecting preschoolers!  I tried to teach my kids the I-L-L, I-N-I chat, and it worked okay, but not great.  I'll have to try harder in the future.

I liked to make my sports programs kinda general not only to keep the kids engaged, but also because I feel like there aren't a lot of great storybooks about one particular sport.  For instance, I'd love to do a nothing-but-football story time, but I just couldn't find the books to support it.  If I'm missing something, please let me know!!

Let’s Play!
Preschool Storytime

Opening Song:  Bendable Stretchable by Georgiana Stewart
Sergio Saves the GameOpening Rhyme:  Dance your fingers
Dance your fingers up, dance your fingers down.
Dance your fingers to the side, dance them round and round.
Dance them on your shoulders, dance them on your head.
Dance them on your belly and now put them to bed!

Book:  Sergio Saves the Game by Edel Rodriguez

Rhyme:  Balls
(for each size ball, make that shape with your arms)
Let's Play Football! A great big ball, a medium-sized ball, a teeny-tiny ball I see
Let’s count them, ready!
One, two, three!!

Book:  Let’s Play Football by Jan Mader

Dance:  Sport Pokey
Dino-BaseballYou put your cleets in, you take your cleets out.
You put your cleets in, and you shake it all about.
You do the sports pokey and you turn yourself about.
That's what it's all about!
(glove, helmet, shoulder pads, etc)

Book:  Dino-Baseball by Lisa Wheeler
Hot Rod Hamster 
Rhyme:  This is the way you play baseball
(Tune:  Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush)
This is the way you hit the ball
This is the way you catch the ball
This is the way you throw the ball
This is the way your run the bases
When you play baseball!

Book:  Hot Rod Hamster by Cynthia Lord

Rhyme:  10 Speedy Racecars
(Tune:  10 Little Indians-I liked to hand each child a cardstock
car with a number on it and have them stand as we sang.)
One little, two little, three speedy racecars.
Four little, five little, six speedy racecars.
Seven little, eight little, nine speedy racecars
Ten little racecars race!

Craft:  Foam Finger
For this craft, I cut out two foam finger shapes from Fun Foam, as shown in the picture below from


Then, I punched holes around the foam finger so the kids could lace them up with shoestrings.  Finally, I let the kids color on the foam with markers and add stickers.  Giverslog paints her foam finger and uses craft glue, so that would work great with older kids, but little ones have fun just lacing and coloring.  

My finger was orange with blue laces of course!  Go Illini!  But this makes a great craft for any sport's theme and with a few adjustments, works for any age.

Happy Reading!