Saturday, November 29, 2008

To Dance: A Ballerina's Graphic Novel
by Siena Cherson Siegel and Mark Siegel

Published in 2006.
64 pages (according to, as the pages aren't numbered).
Robert F. Sibert Honor Book in 2007.

To Dance, a children's graphic novel recommended to me by my goodreads friend george, is a delightful look at the life of an aspiring ballerina.


Janes in Love
by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg

Published in 2008.
176 pages (according to, as the pages are not numbered).

From the back cover: The coolest clique of misfits plays cupid and becomes entangled in affairs of the heart. People Loving Art In Neighborhoods (P.L.A.I.N.) goes global once the art gang applies for a grant from the National Foundation for the Arts. And the Janes will discover that in art and in love, general rules don't often apply.

What I thought: I loved The Plain Janes, and I loved this sequel. Maybe it's just my inner teenage-girl - but I truly hope for more episodes in this Minx graphic novel series.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lucky Man: A Memoir by Michael J. Fox

Originally published in 2002.
Unabridged audio book read by Michael J. Fox and Scott Brick.

A big fan of Michael J. Fox back in the Family Ties days, I enjoyed reading an excerpt of his memoir in Reader's Digest a number of years ago. Recently I had to take a short road trip by myself, so I picked up a few audio books from the library to keep me occupied and entertained. One of those was Lucky Man.

The first of the nine CDs was read by Fox himself. As I started the second disc, at first I was disappointed to hear the new reader - but Fox's personality quickly came through. Smart, honest, and funny, this was a great read. Or perhaps I should say "great listen"?

For information about Fox's work to fight Parkinson's disease, visit The Michael J. Fox Foundation Website.


We Have A Winner

As promised, I have randomly selected (using one lucky person from those who left a comment on either my give-away notice or my review and will be passing along a paperback copy of Andromeda Romano-Lax's The Spanish Bow to her.

And the book goes to . . . . Marg!
(Marg, if you'll email me your snail mail address,
I'll get the book out to you shortly!)

By the way, I've currently got several books in the review queue and will be passing them along as soon as finish them - so be sure to check back!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Wall by Eve Bunting

Illustrated by Ronald Himler.
Published in 1990. 32 pages.

The principal of my son's elementary school is conducting a "Principal's Book of the Month" program this year. Each student is given a selected book to take home for one day during the month to share with his or her family and then return to school for another student. November's book is The Wall by Eve Bunting.

This beautiful picture book tells the touching story of a boy and his father who visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to find the name of the boy's grandfather. It's about remembering. It's also about the sorrow of war.


Saturday, November 08, 2008

Weekly Geeks No. 23

This week’s theme: Fun Facts About Authors.

Since I'm currently reading The Truth About Forever, I have decided to choose Sarah Dessen as the writer about whom I'll post.

(Collage from a post on Dessen's "latest news" blog.)

  • Born June 6, 1970.

  • Lives in North Carolina.

  • Graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, with a degree in English.

  • Mother of Sasha Clementine, who was born September 2, 2007.

  • Her ninth YA novel to be released June 2009.

  • Enjoys shopping at The Gap.

  • Fan of UNC basketball.

  • Voted for Barack Obama in the recent election.

  • Official site.

Other Weekly Geeks' author fun facts:

Friday, November 07, 2008

Bronte's Book Club by Kristiana Gregory

Published in 2008. 149 pages.

I wanted to love this book. I really did. I had read Jeanette's review, and I thought that both my daughter Sugar Plum (who is 12) and I would enjoy the book. So I picked it up from the library.

Sugar Plum read it first, and she did say that she liked it. When I got to it - in the early morning hours of the recent read-a-thon - maybe I was just too tired, but it just didn't come together in a way that made me really love it.

Some of the things I did love:

  • The fun, colorful cover.

  • The main character Bronte - whose parents named her after Charlotte Bronte, author of Jane Eyre.

  • The choice of the book that Bronte's book club discusses over the course of several meetings - Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell - which was a childhood favorite of mine.

  • The section at the end of book on "How to Start a Book Club," including a recipe for Bronte's Brownies.


Mermaids in the Basement
by Michael Lee West

Published in 2008. 291 pages.

First sentence: If I had not read the cover story in the March 2, 2000, National Enquirer, it's doubtful that I would have gone to Alabama and ruined my daddy's engagement party, much less sent the bride-to-be into a coma.

From the book jacket: The beloved bestselling author of Crazy Ladies returns with a funny and poignant tale that explores the complex bonds between a daughter and her father.

Why I picked up this book: I first saw this book at my local library branch in March. Both the cover and the title caught my eye, but I had a pile of things to check out already so I decided to leave this one. That very night I discovered that tinylittlelibrarian had read and enjoyed the book, and I added it to my to-read list. In July the Salt Lake County Library included Mermaids in the Basement on its Reader's Choice list for July through October 2008. Since one of my categories for the Triple 8 Challenge is "Salt Lake County Reader's Choice," I decided that this was a perfect time to check out the book. I finally got to it in October - and I'm glad I did!

The source of the title: The epigraph of the book is a poem from Emily Dickinson.

I started Early - Took my Dog -
And visited the Sea -
The Mermaids in the Basement
Came out to look at me -

Final thoughts: The overall book reminded me of Divine Secret of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. (I'm actually referring to the movie because I haven't - yet - read the book.) I haven't read any of West's other novels, but I definitely enjoyed this one.


Running Behind Schedule

Since starting this blog in January 2007, my posting of reviews has pretty much kept pace with my reading. Over the past several months, however, I have been getting further and further behind. There are now nine books that I have read but have not yet posted a review. In chronological order, those books are as follows:

  • Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky

  • Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

  • Mermaids in the Basement by Michael Lee West

  • Janes in Love by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg

  • Bronte's Book Club by Kristiana Gregory

  • To Dance: A Ballerina's Graphic Novel
    by Siena Cherson Siegel and Mark Siegel

  • The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

  • A Simple Plan by Scott Smith

  • The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

I could use some help!

Have you read any of these books? Have you posted a review to which I could link? Do you know of any discussion questions or related information to which I could also link?

If you haven't read one or more of these, are there some questions you'd like me to address in a brief review?

Please let me know.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Books Awards Reading Challenge II

August 1 to June 1
Hosted by 3M

As seems to be the way things go around here lately, I'm just a little late getting myself organized for this challenge. (Actually I'm three months behind. Sigh.)

The challenge requires ten award-winning books in at least five different award categories. These are my current picks (although, as allowed by the challenge, I reserve the right to make changes at any time):
  • Alex Award (named for young adult librarian Margaret Alexander Edwards and given each year by the Young Adult Library Services Association to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18)

    • The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (2003)

    • Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (2007)

  • Michael L. Printz Award (named for a Kansas school librarian and awarded to a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature)

    • An Abundance of Katherines by John Green (2007 Honor Book)

    • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (2007 Honor Book)

  • National Book Award for Young People's Literature (one of four categories of National Book Awards given to celebrate the best of American literature)

    • The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer (2002) (The House of the Scorpion was also a Printz Honor Book in 2003.)

  • Nebula Award (given annually by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America for the best science fiction/fantasy fiction published in the United States during the two previous years) and Hugo Award (named for a magazine editor and given annually by the members of the World Science Fiction Society for excellence in the world of science fiction and fantasy)

    • American Gods by Neil Gaiman (2002)

  • Newbery Medal (named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery and awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children)

    • Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (1978)

    • Dicey's Song by Cynthia Voigt (1983)

    • The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron (2007)

    • The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman (1996)

342,752 Ways to Herd Cats

With just one month left to go in Renay's quirky challenge, I've been browsing the master reading list to decide what three books I'm going to read. There are 632 titles on the list, and although I've read quite a few of them, there are so many that I could choose from - including a lot that are already on my to-read list!

In case you're curious, among those I've already read and liked (besides the ten I recommended myself):

The three books I've decided upon for this challenge:
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
    (recommended by J - and also by one of my high school English teachers very long ago, so I figure it's about time I read it)

  • Enchantment by Orson Scott Card
    (recommended by booklogged)

  • The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
    (recommended by Becky - and also by my daughter Jelly Bean)