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Search tags: by-the-way-of-the-author
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review 2018-04-20 03:03
Heroes of the Frontier
Heroes of the Frontier - Dave Eggers

This was tough for me. I love Eggers' work, and so much of this is what I would expect from him, but there are parts that just left me irritated, confused, or extremely stressed out for this unprepared, ill-equipped, mother of two, who displays an almost stunning lack of judgment when she takes her children on an inspired but completely unplanned trip to Alaska. The children, of course, are perfectly sweet, beautiful, wise little Yodas, who manage to charm even when they are at their worst.

 

Despite this, I was rooting for Josie. I bookmarked my audio-book and listened to one part several times — describing how we went from 4 parent visits a year at school to 46-hours' worth of recommended involvement (in a month). So, I cheered for Josie, even when she did some super questionable things (did anyone besides Josie not figure out the jumpsuits immediately?). And I almost made it all the way through. With about an hour or so left, Josie composes some music, and the story went from completely unrealistic yet kind of sweet and brave, to you have got to be kidding me. I considered Josie's musical scoring a charming affectation, a cute little character trait, but this was completely bizarre and almost offensive (to all musicians, everywhere, and I am not a musician). It went right off the rails for me after that.

 

There are some awesome, radical, refreshing ideas here about parenting and life, and it would have been so great if the rest of it had measured up to that great promise. Based on some other comments, I am guessing the geography is not well-researched, which seems a shame, and also easily avoidable. Any Eggers fans out there? Curious to know your thoughts.

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review 2018-04-20 01:12
CAST TWO SHADOWS: THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION IN THE SOUTH by Ann Rinaldi
Cast Two Shadows: The American Revolution in the South - Ann Rinaldi

Cast Two Shadows: The American Revolution in the South

Ann Rinaldi

Paperback, 304 pages
Published March 1st 2004 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published October 1st 1998)
ISBN: 0152050779 (ISBN13: 9780152050771) 

 

I was browsing the shelves when I found this book. Usually, an author sticks with the big events of the American Revolution, but Rinaldi sets this book in the south.  Caroline, the main character, is 14 years old and sees how the war has separated her family's loyalty, as well as how it has affected her friends. The British have taken over her family's plantation; her father is thrown in jail for supporting the patriots; the brother is fighting for the British. She sees some horrors on both sides and learns some secrets about herself as well. At some points, the reading is a little dry. Overall, a good book, though, YA readers who like historical fiction.

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text 2018-04-18 11:00
Facts About Me: A Life of Reading

My parents taught me to read and write before I attended school. Here in the UK (for those not familiar) we start around the age of 4/5, depending on whether your birthday falls before or after August, which is the start date for all after-Summer-Holiday terms. I started at 4, able to read and write, which got me and my folks into trouble at school, because they like to teach their own way, and didn't like that came pre-taught. Tough luck for them.

For that reason, by the time we started doing reading for classes in school, I was at an advanced level to the other kids. I also had a bit of a knack for being patient – sometimes more patient than the teachers! – so I helped another kid in my class with his reading, because he had dyslexia and/or learning difficulties. I'm vague about this, before I was too young to really understand it (about 9/10 years old) and it wasn't talked a lot back then. Some teachers just thought those with such challenges were slow, were lazy, or didn't want to do the work. I remember that much, because I remember staying inside during break times to help him catch up with his reading. Not many of the teachers, or other students, liked it, but the kid I helped did. And he did great.

I'm pretty sure that's why I wasn't much of a reader growing up. Hard to believe, right? Well, I wasn't. I read Sweet Valley High books, Sherlock Holmes, and stuff the school made us read, but I wasn't voracious about it, like I am now. I think that's mostly because of the subject matter. I never really liked what was being given to us, or what was recommended reading for my age at the library. I guess, nowadays, you'd call me a mature reader. Back then, I just didn't have the time (between school work and home life) or the inclination (subject matter!) to be as passionate about books as I am now.

Now, I read approximate 300 books a year. That doesn't sound like a lot, to some people I know, who can read 500+ a year, but in between that, I read-to-review (which takes longer, because I write notes as I'm reading, and then have to process and type that all up when I'm done) for both Netgalley and Divine Magazine. I also write, as you probably know by now. I can write a book (say about 80k) in a month, if I had unlimited time. Since that's rare and maybe only happens once a year, I can write about 2-3 novels a year, all of which take time, planning, editing, repeated reading, and research. That all takes time. So, for me, 300 books a year is a lot.

And I LOVE it. I love getting to explore new stories, new worlds, new writing and new authors. And I love being able to write my own stories. It might have taken a while, but I found my passion in the end.

 

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review 2018-04-15 04:43
Books Can Be Deceiving by Jenn McKinlay
Books Can Be Deceiving - Jenn McKinlay

Lindsey used to be an archivist at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale until about six months ago, when she was laid off. She's now the director of the Briar Creek Library. She's just starting to feel more comfortable with small town life and her new position. It helps that one of her employees, Beth, is also her friend from back when they were both getting their library science degrees.

Beth is a children's librarian who's been working on a children's book of her own for several years. Lindsey thinks Beth should show her work to a New York editor who's vacationing in Briar Creek, but Beth is hesitant - her horrible boyfriend, Rick, keeps telling her it isn't good enough and needs a lot more work. Since he's a famous author whose first book won the Caldecott Medal, he'd know, right? When Beth tells Rick about her plans to meet with the editor, things rapidly sour between them. They break up, but the situation only gets worse after Beth hears what the editor has to say. She attempts to go to Rick's island and give him a piece of her mind, only to discover that he's been murdered. Unfortunately, Chief Daniels seems to consider Beth his top suspect.

A coworker of mine highly recommend this series to me. She basically inhaled what's been published in the series so far. She enjoyed the library aspects, the romance with Sully (she mentioned the love triangle that pops up in a later book, so I already know to expect that), and the fact that Lindsey is fairly similar in age to her (and me, too!).

My feelings about this book are more measured, but I enjoyed it too. The library aspects were great, even though there were a few things that made me raise an eyebrow. The odds of Lindsey getting an archivist job at Yale right out of library school seemed incredibly slim, based on what my job hunt 9 or 10 years ago was like. Then again, this was published in 2011, so maybe such a thing would have been more likely in the early 2000s. I also raised an eyebrow at the way Lindsey handled Beth's situation. I couldn't help but wonder if she'd have been as quick to promise Ms. Cole, aka "the lemon," she wouldn't suspend her if she had been the one accused of murder. Having your best friend as one of your employees can mess with your judgment.

That said, most of the details were great, like the random phone call from a vendor selling a database the library neither needed nor could afford, the couple arguing over which movie to check out right before closing time, and Lindsey's "crafternoons" idea. I can add this to my short list of books that star librarians who actually do occasional on-page library work.

The mystery itself was good, with a few twists I absolutely did not expect. I did wonder about the bit where Lindsey and Beth left town to do some investigating on their own. Would Beth have been allowed to leave like that?  Detective Trimble seemed more open to other possibilities, but Chief Daniels certainly considered her a suspect.

I'm looking forward to more developments in the romance between Lindsey and Sully, although I'm already dreading the love triangle. Sully seems like a great guy, and I could think of a lot of things that could complicate his and Lindsey's relationship without a love triangle being added to the mix. For example, Lindsey is still dealing with the hurt and betrayal of discovering that her fiance was cheating on her, which unfortunately happened at around the same time she was laid off.

All in all, this was an enjoyable and quick read. I definitely plan on reading the next book. In fact, I already have a copy in via interlibrary loan.

Extras:

At the end of the book there are several extras, including "The Briar Creek Library Guide to Crafternoons," a reader's guide for The Last Time I Saw Paris by Lynn Sheene, a knitting pattern for the rolled hat Lindsey made (which was originally supposed to be a sock), a recipe for Sully's hot chocolate, and a recipe for Mary's clam chowder. The crafternoons guide could come in handy for public librarians looking for adult programming ideas.

For my part, the only extra I've used is the recipe for Sully's hot chocolate, which I've now made several times (with powdered cinnamon instead of sticks, and no nutmeg). I disagree with Lindsey's assessment that it isn't too sweet - after my first time making it, I cut the sugar back by half. I suggest halving the recipe if you just want to make enough hot chocolate for yourself. It's a very rich drink, and halving it makes enough for one good-sized mug.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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url 2018-04-12 05:00
Author Of The Month - J. Scott Coatsworth - Week Two

Join us again as we continue our celebrations for this fabulous author!

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