Monday, August 31, 2009

Color Your Future

This was a surprisingly awesome book. I thought it was going to be a lot like The Color Code, separating out the colors and building from there but it was a book to all the colors on strengthening character. Very inspiring. My favorite quote from the book: "The less time and energy you spend on those you love, the less capable you are of loving them." This quote has haunted me since I read it. Hope it does the same for you :)

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I may be the last librarian in America to have read this book. Since being published last year, this YA novel has taken everyone by storm and the last time I checked there was still a waiting list for it at my library. I know that Kyla and Megan read it and both recommended it so I hope I can discuss it with one of them soon.
Katniss Everdeen lives in a fractured, post-apocalytic North America called Panem that is now divided into districts. Most of the districts are poor and people die of starvation, including in Katniss' District 12. This district is known for its coal mining and Katniss' father was killed in a mining accident when she was young. Katniss had to become the provider for her mother and little sister Prim and has therefore learned how to hunt, fish, trap and forage for food. Little does she know that these skills will be paramount to her survival in a brutish, bloody, fight to the death spectacle called the hunger games. The hunger games occur once a year and each district must send 2 teen participants to compete, one boy and one girl. This year, Katniss is chosen to compete along with Peeta Mellark, a boy who once saved her life. The suspense then begins as we follow Katniss into the arena as she tries to become the winner of the hunger games and return to her mother and Prim. 
This description doesn't do the book justice at all as there are so many undercurrents running through the novel and I can't describe them without giving the novel away. I can only say that you should read it to discover one of the most suspenseful, thrilling, touching YA books I've read in a while. It definitely lived up to the hype and I have a hold on the next book in the series, Catching Fire, which will be released on Tuesday.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Pet Peeve

A pet peeve I've had for a while now which doesn't make sense to me, but bugs me nonetheless is inappropriate names for female characters. What I mean specifically is generationally incorrect names. I find it so annoying when characters who are from my generation are named Edith, Joan, Carol, etc. I don't know anyone born in the 70's who has a name like this! Jennifer, Michelle, Stacy, yes. Linda, Susan, Cindy, NO! The same goes for characters who are born in the 80's. Jessica, Amanda, Ashley, yes! Judy, Shirley, Betty, NO! If I ever write a book, you can bet that my names will fit the generation the character was born in.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Watchers by Dean Koontz

I have read this book at least 10 times, and I still love it! I read it again because I was procrastinating finishing The Mill on the Floss and wanted a quick read. This is a great story about two escaped lab projects. One, a golden retriever with the intelligence of a human and one a hideous, intelligent monstrosity, called The Outsider, designed to be a killer. The dog ends up with Travis, a disillusioned and depressed veteran and brings him together with Nora, a beautiful, albeit timid, woman who was raised to be a spinster. The dog changes their lives and becomes part of their family, but The Outsider has a compulsive need to track and kill the dog who was the "favored son" of the Francis Project that produced them both. Then there's always the looney out of left field that seems a recurring element in Koontz's novels. A man named Vince who is a contract killer believes he absorbs the lives of those he kills. He also believes he will someday achieve immortality and that owning the dog is part of his destiny. So we have the NSA, The Outsider, and Crazy Vince after the dog, Einstein, and Travis and Nora trying to keep the dog safe and free. Exciting read, and only a little funny for having been written in the late '80s.

My Heartbeat by Garret Freymann-Weyr

This short, but powerful novel is listed on the Ultimate Teen Bookshelf list that was recently put out by the American Library Association. Since I've switched over to youth services I thought I'd try to read as many of these as I can in order to have a better background in YA literature.
My Heartbeat
describes the plight of Ellen, a freshman in high school, and her brother Link and his best friend James. Link and James are older and wiser and allow Ellen to hang out with them on occasion. Ellen has had a crush on James for a while (which he knows about) and admires her brother. When a fellow student asks if Link and James are "a couple" Ellen reevaluates her view of their relationship and decides to ask them. Her probing changes the dynamics of all of their relationships and Ellen and James eventually start dating, while Link has to deal with his confused sexual identity. The writing in My Heartbeat is beautiful and the material is thought provoking. Freymann-Weyr examines the issues of love and who you love in a, mostly, open-minded way. I definitely wouldn't recommend this to anyone who is offended by frank discussion of sexual identity or the opinion that it doesn't matter who you love, as long as you love.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes

In the spirit of Under the Tuscan Sun, Bella Tuscany continues the story of Frances Mayes' restoration of her house in Cortona. Since the house is mostly complete in this book, we journey with Frances and her husband Ed as they explore other parts of Italy including Naples and Sicily. I very much enjoy Mayes's writing style and love her lush descriptions of everything she comes into contact with. This is a beautifully written as well as informative book.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Reading Makes Me Sick

Not really! I've just had a continuous massive, migraine-like headache this entire week and when I get home I can barely watch TV, let alone read. Pain-killers don't seem to help, so I haven't done much reading, except for a few picture books, lately. I've never gone this long without reading much and I hope it goes away soon. I think I've been too stressed out over switching jobs that I've lost all interest in everything that normally makes me happy. Maybe when I settle in to the new job I will be able to focus more.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot (who, by the way, was really a woman)

This is a "can't put it down but can't bear to go on" book. You want so badly for things to go well for Maggie, all the while thinking that things can't possibly end well. This is a story about a family who, through a series of misfortunes, lose everything and their struggle to restore their good name and standing. It is about human struggle and virtues and ignorance and pride and disappointment and it's no wonder George Eliot was really a woman, which I did not know until reading the bio at the beginning of the book. I devoured the first 7/8's of the book, but cannot bring myself to go on as I think of all the possible endings and none of them are good. If anyone has read the book, please give me a warning or some hope so I will not do what Mom does: read the last page to decide whether I want to go on or not.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Ennui Continues

I still can't read and it is driving me crazy! I spent tonight watching 1,000 episodes of Snapped on the Oxygen Channel because I just can't put forth the effort to do anything else right now. I did get the new Stieg Larsson novel last week, The Girl Who Played with Fire, but it is disappointing me. I really don't care for how amoral everyone in the novel is. I thought it was quirky in the first novel, but just irritating in the second. I know that the author intended for the main character, Lisbeth Salander, to be completely free and without scruples, but do I really want to read about someone like this? She is supposed to be the heroine in the series, but I don't find her to be someone to look up to. I don't know if I will finish the book. Aside from that, I am dabbling in Frances Mayes reading both Bella Tuscany and A Year in the World intermittently. Maybe I will finish one of them soon.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Divine Center

Yes, I'm finally posting!! Mostly because I am so inspired by this book, The Divine Center by Stephen Covey. It is opening my eyes to so many different perspectives. Thanks to Anbolyn for recommending.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Changes to My Reading?

I haven't finished any books lately, and surprisingly, have not really felt like reading. I've been watching a lot of TV instead. I don't know why this is, but I hope it passes soon.
I found out last week that I am now a youth librarian (well, as of August 17) and I am moving to another branch to supervise 4 people. This shocking news might be why I haven't felt like reading (and haven't been able to sleep). This is a huge change for me! I'm not sure if it will alter my reading habits by making me feel obligated to read childrens' and YA fiction. Probably not. I may read a few more kids' books than normal, but I see myself sticking to my usual. That is, once I feel like reading again!