Tuesday, August 5, 2008


I have been very busy over the summer! First I went to ALA in Anaheim. The highlight program for me was the RUSA CODES's program on book discussion groups. It was very informative and I was able to take away a lot of useful information that we will implement at my library. We are in the process of restructuring and expanding our book discussion groups that we offer at my library. Starting in October, we will offer the following book discussion groups:

Award Winning Fiction
Bestsellers/Popular Fiction
Short Stories
Senior Book Discussion
Knit One, Read Too! (fiction group that knits while discussing books)

I will be running two of the groups- Knit One, Read, Too! I have moderated since September 2006 and I will also be doing the Classics group which I am very excited about.

Then in July I went to ComicCon in San Diego. It was my first time going, and what an experience it was! I'll know better for next year what to expect and how to better manage my time in order to see the maximun number of programs that I can. I attended a panel program on American Dad and Family Guy which was hilarious! I also went to a program called QuickDraw which was also fantastic.

I admit that I have not been reading much since I've been so busy with the two conferences and things at work. I did read part of Anna Quindlen's book Rise and Shine for my book group and absolutely could not get into it. I even tried it on audio and couldn't bear it. I did the same thing with The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd. I could not get into it which really disappointed me because I loved The Secret Life of Bees so much. I am currently reading Midwives by Chris Bohjalian, and I love it! I can't wait to discuss it tomorrow at my book group.

I have also been busy with a summer school class. It's over with now, thankfully. I have two more starting at the end of August, but I think these will be fun and relatively esay in comparison to the last one. I'm reading several books for review for Historical Novel Society and Library Journal, so I am keeping busy!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Portrait of an Unknown Woman by Vanora Bennett

Bennett’s fiction debut is an extraordinary, detailed account of the family of Sir Thomas More during the reign of Henry VIII. The narrator of the story is Meg Giggs, More’s foster child.

The book follows the life of Meg, a kind, generous young woman with a knack for the healing arts. The love of her life is a man named John Clements, former schoolmaster of the children in More’s household. Clements returns after an extended absence and asks Meg to be his bride. She is thrilled and accepts his proposal though she soon finds out that Clements has a past shrouded in mystery, and she may never know the whole truth about him.

Against the backdrop of daily life is the storm of religious controversy that begins to mount. The fighting between the Protestants and Catholics grows with Sir Thomas Moore caught between it all. The painter Hans Holbein also plays a major role in the story as he comes to paint a portrait of the More family. His keen observances into the life of the Mores’ are fascinating, and Bennett’s descriptions of his painting techniques are beautiful. Portrait of an Unknown Woman is a wonderful piece of historical fiction.

Friday, March 21, 2008

A New Goal

Another goal...I counted up the number of books I read in 2007 (41) and decided that in 2008 my goal is to read 50 books for my own pleasure. I did read a few more than 41 books last year, but I don't count the nonfiction ones that I read for reviews for LJXpress. I don't know why. I guess just because they are work related. I also have not been counting the books I read for school and research. So I guess I'm just mostly interested in recording the fiction and nonfiction that I have read by choice.

My Caldecott challenge is going well. I'm reading Abraham Lincoln now and will have it finished today. I have also figured out which books I am going to read to complete my Genre Challenge. I used Joyce Sarick's book for suggestions and also a few other RA guides that we have here at work. Later today I will post the Newbery's I have read over the years so I can start working them into my reading list.

I have a pile of books at home that I am longing to read. I have to postpone abit because I have a book to read for LJXpress that is due in two weeks, and I have another book to complete for my book discussion group. It's Ruth Rendell's Adam and Eve and Pinch Me. So far it is interesting with quirky characters. I think I know what's going to happen, but I'm hoping for a great twist at the end. The book jacket promised psychological suspense and malice, so we shall see.

I just finished Maeve Binchy's Evening Class for my book discussion title for March. It was appropraite to read in March because of St. Patrick's Day. I thought I would absolutely hate it and was dreading it because it is a huge book, but I really enjoyed it. I would read another one of Binchy's. Most of the people in my discussion group enjoyed it as well.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Royal Panoply: Brief Lives of the English Monarchs

Carolly Erickson, the author of several royal biographies and fictional accounts of historical figures, brings readers a brief introduction to each of the English rulers. Starting with William the Conqueror and ending with the present queen, Elizabeth II, Erickson devotes about ten pages to each monarch. She focuses on each monarch’s entire life, from birth to death providing engaging details and entertaining facts about each royal over 1000 years of Britain’s past.

A recommended read for those interested in English history but want the short version of it!

The Passion of Artemisia

The Passion of Artemisia by Susan Vreeland tells the story of Renaissance painter Artemisia Gentileschi, a talented woman whose life has been full of disappointments and difficulties. Her early life consists of humiliation and betrayal. Her father eventually arranges her marriage to other painter. Artemisia thinks that she will finally be able to put her past behind her and start fresh, but her husband soon becomes jealous of Artemisia’s talent and is unforgiving of the fact that Artemisia was the first woman to be elected to the esteemed Academia dell’ Arte in Florence, before he becomes a member.

This novel abounds with detail of the Renaissance in Florence and contains beautiful descriptions of painting. It is a moving portrait of a woman who makes sacrifices but never looses sight of what she wants for her career, her daughter, and her dreams.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

2008 Genre Challenge

I have mapped out what genres I need to read for 2008 to meet my goal of reading one of everything. Here are the genres I need:

Gentle Reads
Literary Fiction

I have also decided to start reading all of the Newbery and Caldecott winners. I have read a lot of the Newberry winners over the years since I was a teacher. I think that this should be a lot of fun. I can get through at least one Caldecott a week and hopefully one Newbery each month. I'll let you know how I do.

Right now I am reading a couple of books to review for the Historical Novel Society. The reviews should be out in the March issue of their magazine. The three books I have read so far for 2008 have all been excellent. I will definatley read more of Robin Maxwell. I loved The Secret Life of Bees. It reminded me a bit of To Kill a Mockingbird since it was a coming of age story set in the South.