Friday, April 29, 2011

Diana Wynne Jones, RIP

It's always a shock to me when a beloved author dies. How can an author die? Aren't they mythological beings who create entire worlds for us? But they're as mortal as we are, and I was reminded of that last month when I heard that children's fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones had died of lung cancer.

Her books are full of magic, adventure, and a sharp, biting wit that's particularly British - much like Harry Potter in tone, except with more of a satirical edge.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Author Crush

I will confess right up front that I'm going to gush. I can't stop reading/listening/watching Neil Gaiman's work. Right now I'm listening to Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders and I'm in love. I love Neil Gaiman's voice, I love his characters, I love his creepy (but not too creepy) stories. Frankly, he could read the phone book and I'd be entranced.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

New Favorite - C.J. Box

Don't you love it when someone recommends an author that leads you to discover a whole new series? C.J. Box has become one of my new favorite authors. Nowhere to Run features Joe Pickett, a Wyoming game warden. The book starts as Pickett is finishing up a year in exile in Southern Wyoming. He heads out on his last patrol through the area before returning home to his family. When he comes across a pair of twin brothers living off the land, things start to get dangerous. Box gives a wonderful description of the Wind River Range as both beautiful and menacing. Nowhere to Run is the 10th in the series, but it works well as a stand alone novel. Pickett is an engaging hero and I'm looking forward to reading everything in the series. Open Season is the first book and Cold Wind, the 11th, has just been released.


Friday, April 22, 2011

This Book is Overdue!

Last week as libraries across America celebrated National Library Week, my thoughts turned to all things library, and my attention was easily captured by This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson.

Johnson heralds this newly evolved librarian as your tour guide through the continuously complex morass of information that has become of the staple of daily life. The typical cybrarian or information specialist is tech savvy to the max and proudly obsessed by all details of a digital nature.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Reading Outside the Comfort Zone

I've been reading outside my comfort zone, which, as it suggests, has been uncomfortable and even painful at times, but which has also led me to discover some books I wouldn't have happened on otherwise.

One of those books is The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien. O'Brien is a master at capturing detail, nuance and delivering a superbly crafted story. A Vietnam war story, O'Brien goes nowhere near gratuitous violence or gory, grisly scenes, but he still manages to capture the essence of war in a way that made it impossible for me to read and eat at the same time.

Another book I discovered this week was The Hours by Michael Cunningham.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

On the Road

A recent transfer doubled my weekly commute. I was distressed because nine hours a week on the road would really limit my reading time, or so I thought. As things have turned out, I am reading more than ever. How? Audio books have been my salvation. I am currently "reading" The Girl Who Played with Fire by Steig Larsson. I downloaded this audio book to my MP3 player from the Pima County Public Library's Overdrive digital download service.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Jane Austen lives on

Jane Austen is fantastic, but you probably already know that. She is such a popular author that her books have generated hundreds of spin-offs. Whether its adding sea monsters to Sense and Sensibility, or writing about the married life of the Darcys and Bingleys, everyone seems to have a take on Austen's beloved books. Above all, I enjoy it when these spin-offs are clever.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

Meet Flavia de Luce. She's smart and observant and charming, a brilliant sleuth and chemist. There's little that fazes her, not even finding a dead body in her cucumber patch. Oh, yes, and she's eleven years old.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The $64 Tomato

Critters are destroying my garden. I've replaced the tomato plants three times but I know it's futile. My humble little plot is barricaded so completely I can barely get to it, but these critters are unstoppable. I think they're airlifting themselves in.

Man vs. the enemies of cultivation is the subject of The $64 Tomato, a memoir sure to hit a responsive chord with frustrated farmers like me. If your attempts to grow your own salad have been thwarted by the superior forces of Mother Nature, you'll appreciate William Alexander's account of adopting the life of a gentleman farmer in New York's Hudson River Valley.

To Manhattan transplant Alexander the plan seemed simple enough: put in a kitchen garden and some fruit trees, weed a little, water a little, then sit back and enjoy nature's bounty. But instead of
apples and corn he got all-out war, with contractors, plant diseases, bugs of every variety and (of course) deer, ground hogs, rabbits and all sorts of hungry, determined fauna.

Alexander's response to his negative gardening karma is hilarious. When organic solutions don't work he moves on to the hard stuff, including dreaded pesticides, traps, and a 10,000 volt-electric fence. Outsmarting Mother Nature takes up all of his time and most of his money. When he harvests the fruits of his efforts--his glorious heirloom beefsteak tomatoes--and figures the production cost per tomato, the result is an astonishing $64 each.

Still, Alexander's passion for gardening in spite of the odds is endearing, and his responses to horticultural adversity are a hoot. If you're struggling with mealy bugs and javalinas, or even if the local Safeway is as close to a garden as you want to get, this laugh-out-loud book is sure to delight.


Friday, April 1, 2011

One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding by Rebecca Mead

Diamonds, bridezillas, extravagant dresses, dinners for 200, each wedding is more extreme than the last. Why is this? America has been saturated with the idea that the bigger the wedding the longer the marriage will last - and the more romantic it is (really?).

The wedding industry tells you that you should desire a "fairytale wedding with a princess dress." They are nice people, right? They're just trying to make your dream day come true (while turning a huge profit). That hand-beaded dress was more than likely made in a sweatshop; making a woman's day in Vietnam not so perfect.

It's impossible to turn on the television without seeing a show about how to make your wedding traditional, yet personalized. How do you do this?

Buy more stuff. But it's not the fairytale we have been lead to believe.

Find One Perfect Day at your library to learn more!

~ Roller Derby Librarian