Sunday, December 30, 2012

Resolutions, Revisited

About this time last year, I blogged about some books that might help you with your New Year's resolutions. This year, how about something a little different: here are some books by authors and journalists who spent a year (or some other set amount of time) doing something different from their normal lives, with wildly varied results. Perhaps they will inspire you to try an experiment in your life, or maybe they'll just make you grateful to escape their lists of arduous, arbitrary restrictions in 2013.

Drop Dead Healthy : one man's humble quest for bodily perfection by A. J. Jacobs is this intrepid stunt journalist's attempt to be as healthy as possible, based on information from a number of more or less reputable sources. Its humor is balanced by a lot of thoughtful reflection on what health really is, and how to integrate health recommendations in a way that's actually helpful and realistic.

Read on for more stunts (or are they more than just stunts?):

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Looking Back at 2012

I have lots of various book lists going at a time; wishlists, to buy, currently reading, finished, etc.  This is the time of the year that I like to create yet another list, my favorites from the year.  It's always fun to look back at past literary adventures.  Certain books were not all that memorable, as evidenced by the fact that I can hardly remember the plot much less the character's name.  Other titles could be written in bold type, because they were so much fun.  Looking back I see I have read a lot of dystopias along with my standard fantasy and teen contemporary titles, so this list is heavily skewed in that direction.  Hmm, maybe my New Year's Resolution could be to branch out a little more.  Anyway, here were some of my favorites from the past year.

The Selection by Kiera Cass
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
A Touch of Power by Maria Snyder
What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

And may the New Year, bring many more.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Caregiving and a Road Trip

I really enjoy novels that are set in places that I know. I love reading about familiar street corners and towns I have been in. The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison is just such a book. The story is set on a peninsula out in the Puget Sound, west of Seattle. Later in the book the main characters head east across Eastern Washington, northern Idaho and on into Montana, ending up in Utah. I am from Eastern Washington and I have lived in Seattle, Idaho and Montana as well. Utah too. Still, when I read this book it is the characters that stand out. There is Ben Benjamin, who lost everything but has a knack for taking care of people, and Trevor, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy and is a frustrated, hormonal 18 year old young man. The two characters come together when Ben applies for a job taking care of Trevor.  Ben has just finished taking a class called The Fundamentals of Caregiving and working with Trevor is his first job in this new field. The story of their relationship involves what might possibly be an ex-wife, an estranged father, a road trip, childbirth. It includes humor, waffles and a mysterious Buick Skylark. Check it out. You will enjoy it!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Unconventional Pets

I'm a sucker for a good animal story. Although I've never had anything more exotic than cats and goldfish living in my home, I'm fascinated by people who (sometimes accidentally) take in pigs or sheep or chickens or ducks. Here are a few of my favorite animal memoirs. They're funny and sweet, and they'll make you want to stop whatever you're doing and give the critter nearest to you a good scratch behind the ears.


~Queen of Books

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Little Century: High Desert Drama

I'm not wild for westerns and cowboys are not my weakness. But that said, the adventures of Esther Chambers, Chicago schoolgirl turned homesteader heroine in Anna Keesey's Little Century, kept me turning pages.

Untethered and aimless after the death of her mother, Esther bravely pulls up stakes and lights out for Oregon's high desert country in search of family. The family in question is her distant cousin, a cattle rancher named Pick. Pick quickly convinces tenderfoot Esther to homestead Half-a-Mind, an abandoned claim adjacent to his own spread--even though she's a city girl who's never ridden a horse, and is not, strictly speaking, old enough to file a claim. No matter. Esther is nothing if not plucky, and if she proves up her claim in five years, Pick will buy the land from her. In the meantime he's counting on her presence to help keep out the sheepmen and preserve Half-a-Mind's good cattle-grazing land.

Well, everyone knows that cattlemen and sheepmen are sworn enemies, and Esther soon finds herself in the middle of a full-blown range war. This book has all the elements of a classic western: harsh wilderness, an arid, desolate landscape, outlaws, outcasts and privately-administered justice. Plus, the town of Little Century  has enough quirky characters--including the eccentric newspaper editor, the nosy postmistress, and a somewhat shady lady--to keep you happily occupied between confrontations. There's a romantic angle as well. Two of them, in fact, as Esther finds herself pursued by both a cattleman and a sheepman, guaranteeing that the course of true love does not run smooth.

Keesey teaches creative writing at Linfield College in Oregon; this is her first novel, but hopefully not her last. Fans of historical fiction will find it a tightly plotted, wonderfully descriptive evocation of the turn of the last century, and mighty fine reading.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Punny parody literary fiction dedicated to librarians? Count me in!

I will say up front that Japser Fforde is one of my favorite authors ever. He is funny, geeky, a fan of literature, and can churn out wry observations and puns faster than James Patterson can release books. If you enjoy the humor of Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams, Fforde is an author you might want to look into. The Woman who Died A Lot is the latest novel in the Thursday Next series and it doesn't disappoint in the least.

Thursday Next lives in a world where literature is king, the library has its own military force that conducts morning raids to retrieve overdue materials (hmm, that's an idea...), and pet dodos are all the rage. She used to regularly travel to the book world where she worked for Jurisfiction, but has recently been forced into semi-retirement after an assassination attempt left her crippled. However, life is never uneventful for the Next family. Thursday must find out why her consciousness keeps getting downloaded into synthetic bodies. Her 16 year old genius daughter, Tuesday, is trying to figure out how to stop a smiting that will destroy a good chunk of her home town. And her son, Friday, must figure out why he is going to kill a snotty teenager as foretold in a letter he received from his future self. You know, all in the average day for a Next.

If this kind of silly alternative history meets light science fiction/fantasy appeals to you and you are not already a fan of Thursday Next, I recommend checking out the first novel in the series, The Eyre Affair, or the first book in the Nursery Crime series, The Big Over Easy, which is just as fun.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Move over Reacher, there's a new guy in town!

Have you already read all the Jack Reacher novels from Lee Child? Would you like to meet another ex-military hero that can hold his own with a little bravado and even a little swagger? Or maybe the thought of Tom Cruise playing Reacher in the upcoming movie adaptation has you looking for a new hero? Maybe it's time to check out Army Ranger Quinn Colson, star of a new series from Ace Atkins. Colson has the confidence and competence that makes  Reacher so appealing, but with slightly more humility and a lot more charisma.

In The Ranger, Quinn Colson takes leave from the army to return to his hometown in Jericho, Mississippi for his uncle's funeral. His uncle, Sheriff Hampton Beckett, supposedly killed himself. With the help of deputy Lille Virgil, Quinn starts to investigate in order to find out what really happened. The cast of characters in this action packed mystery includes ex-girlfriends, army buddies, meth dealing criminals, corrupt politicians and sinning preachers. If you like The Ranger, Colson's story continues in The Lost Ones.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Best Books of 2012 Galore!

This is the time of year when I am out in the book stores picking out great reads for my family and friends, especially my nieces and nephews. But which ones? I confess I love love love the "best books of the year" lists that I find all over the internet.

In case you enjoy them too, here is a collection for your perusal. P.S. Unlike the other titles we talk about here, these books aren't necessarily in our catalog.

Here goes:

All Ages
Book Riot's Best Books of 2012
Best Books 2012 (Publisher's Weekly)
Goodreads Choice Awards 2012
Southwest Books of the Year (Pima County Public Library)
25 of the Most Wonderful Book Covers of the Year (Atlantic Wire)

10 Best Books of 2012 (New York Times Sunday Book Review)
100 Notable Books of 2012 (New York Times Sunday Book Review)
What To Read Awards: The Salon Book Critics’ Poll (Salon Magazine) just added
Notable Books for Adults (ALA/RUSA)
Best Books 2012: Top Ten (Library Journal) just added
Best Books 2012: More of the Best (Library Journal) just added
Librarian Nancy Pearl's Picks For The Omnivorous Reader (NPR Books)
Great Reads In Store: Indie Booksellers Pick 2012's Best (NPR Books) just added
Our Editors Select The Best Books Of 2012 (Huffington Books)
The Slate Book Review Top 10 of 2012 (Slate Magazine)
2012 Books: Slate Staff Picks (Slate Magazine)
Overlooked Books of 2012 (Slate Magazine)
Nerdfighter Book Recommendations (author John Green) just added
The 10 Best Books of 2012 (And 5 Almost Worth Burning) (
The Listen List: Outstanding Audiobook Narration (ALA/RUSA)
Best Art Books of 2012 (Brain Pickings)
Best Design Books of 2012 (Brain Pickings)
Best Science Books of 2012 (Brain Pickings)
Best Psychology and Philosophy Books of 2012 (Brain Pickings)
Going Vegan: 5 Favorite Cookbooks from 2012 (Oregon Live)
Favourite Comics, Art Books & More (Drawn blog)

Extra Yarn by Mac Bennet
Children and Teens
Best Books 2012 (School Library Journal)
Notable Children’s Books of 2012 (New York Times)
Best Children's Books of 2012 to Give as Gifts (Parenting Magazine)
Children's Books 2012: 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing (NYPL)
Cybils Award Finalists for 2012
The Best Illustrated Children’s Books and Picturebooks of 2012 (Brain Pickings)
My Favorite Nonfiction Books of 2012 (so far) (Abby the Librarian)
Best Young Adult Books of 2012 (Goodreads)
Judy B.'s 2012 Top Teen Fiction Reads (Tattered Cover)
Judy B.'s Favorite 2012 Non-Fiction Teen Reads (Tattered Cover)
Christmas Book Ideas for Teens (YA Nerd blog)
Top 10 Science and Health Books for Youth (Booklist)
Outstanding Science Books for Students K–12 (National Science Teachers Assn)
Children's Books (NPR Books)
Your Favorites: 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels (NPR Books)

--Lisa, your Facebook Librarian

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I Am Serious. And Don't Call Me Shirley.

Lately I've been in a rut of very serious books. They're all about the fate of the world, and death and love and other serious matters. They were good, by and large, but I seriously needed a change.

Luckily, the next book in M.T. Anderson's Pals in Peril series came my way. This is an homage to, and send-up of, all those kids' adventure tales of the 40s and 50s. Every time I read one, the sheer madcap fun of it all leaves me smiling. I dare you to keep a straight face when reading even the titles:

Whales on Stilts!
The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen
Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware
Agent Q, or the Smell of Danger!
Zombie Mommy

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Gifts from the past

I know, I know it's time to go out and spend money and shop and buy presents for people.  For those short on cash but with lots of creative spirit have I found the book for you.  I spied it out of the corner of my eye, and it was too irresistible to pass up.