Monthly Archives: October 2009

Photo Friday

This was the pile of books and magazines I took on our beach vacation this summer. I did not get all of them read, and still haven’t but I think it was a noble effort!

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When things get as overwhelming as it has been recently, I like remembering times like this from that week:

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I hope everyone has a safe and happy Halloween!

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Breaking Up With a TV Show

As with any good pop culture lover, TV shows are near and dear to my heart.  I honestly watch too much TV.  Trying to stay on top of it can get difficult.  I only picked up one new show this year, Glee, because I watch too much.  So I am sad that it has come to this, but I must break up with 2 shows.

1. Dollhouse – I’m a Joss Whedon sometimes-fan.  I love Buffy.  Angel was okay.  Never could get in to Firefly/Serenity.  Love Dr. Horrible.  So of course I was willing to give Dollhouse a try.  I watched all last season, despite the fact that I wasn’t loving it.  So when I started to turn a blind eye to the new episodes this season piling up on the DVR, I had to admit to myself that my heart just isn’t in it.  Sorry, Joss.  Goodbye, Dollhouse.

2. Ugly Betty – I think American Ferrera is adorable.  I love the nephew on the show.  Marc and Amanda are awesome.  But I just can’t.  Not anymore.  Farewell, Betty.

Dexter, I’m hoping I can avoid getting to that point with you, but it’s not looking like a healthy relationship for much longer.

Have you broken up with any shows this season?

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Harry Potter exhibit in Boston – ALA Midwinter

My friend Nic just shared this with me today: There is a Harry Potter exhibit at the science museum in Boston through February!  Very excellent timing for a conference full of librarians. I know I will be finding time that weekend to go.

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Coming Together, Giving Back – Kidlit Con 09

KidLitCon-badge

Because I am still pondering some of the Kidlit Con panels, I am going to report on the day backwards. Coming Together, Giving Back: Building Community, Literacy, and the Reading message was the final panel on Saturday, October 17th.  The four leading the discussion were Jen from Jen Robinson’s Book Page, Gina from PBS Booklights, Ernestine from Reading is Fundamental, and Terry from The Reading Tub.  The main idea behind this was how can we, as book bloggers, can come together and reach outside of our community.  It’s all well and good to talk to each other, but when we spend so much time building our knowledge, we need to think of ways to get outside of our community.  Literacy is such an important issue to all of us, so collaboration can allow us to accomplish much more than we can as individuals.  Examples of projects that have worked so far are the Cybils, Guys Lit Wire, Reader Girlz, and Share a Story – Shape a Future.

One idea is to collaborate with other bloggers.  There are lots of book bloggers who don’t focus on kid lit, maybe you can guest post there and invite them to guest post on your blog.  And then there are all the bloggers who focus on other things.  My friend Jen at The Next Kid Thing suggested, when I mentioned this, that I could guest at her site, and I’d love to have her guest here.

Laurel Snyder proposed an idea where people all over the country gather together on the same day, in malls, to read together with children.  There are 25 millions kids in the US who still don’t have access to books outside of school.  That is a huge number, and the idea of bringing focus to the importance of sharing books with kids is awesome, especially the idea of having it in a mall where it might reach those who are less aware of the situation.  I really hope Laurel runs with the idea and that we all do what we can to support this!

Posts will come later on the rest of the conference!

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David Gray tonight!

We’re headed to PA to see David Gray tonight.  He’s been my favorite singer since White Ladder.  I think this is the 5th time I’m seeing him.  I saw him first at Radio City in NYC for the White Ladder tour.  I know I saw him at least once when he released A New Day At Midnight, and then I saw him twice on the Life in Slow Motion tour – once at the 9:30 Club (probably my favorite since it was so intimate) and once at DAR Constitution Hall.

I have to admit that as I’ve gotten older, I find myself listening to less music.  NPR is on the radio most of the time, whether at home or in the car.  David Gray is the one singer I never tire of and can just listen to over and over.  He got me through a lot of late nights during grad school.  I walked down the aisle to marry my husband as his “January Rain” played.  I’ve even instructed my husband that he must play a couple of his songs at my memorial service when I die.

His newest album, Draw the Line, has been out for a month now.  Mr. Gray has said this album is different from the rest – he is working with several new people, and he stepped out of his personal life to find inspiration for the songs.  It is evident in the music, and while it’s a well put together album, I will say it’s not destined to be a favorite of mine.  I love “Jackdaw” and I also really like “Kathleen.”  I don’t like “Full Steam” but I think part of that is due to Annie Lenox – her voice has always driven me crazy.  She isn’t touring with him, so I am interested in seeing if he does the song and what it sounds like without him.

I would love to hear him sing “World to Me” and I’d REALLY love to see him reach back beyond White Ladder and do some stuff from his 3 earlier albums.  “Gathering Dust” and ‘Forever is Tomorrow is Today” might be my favorites and I’ve never heard him sing either live.  I’d also particularly love to hear him sing “Coming Down,” “Late Night Radio,” “Shine,” “Wisdom,” “Bird Without Wings,” and “As I’m Leaving.”

Regardless of what he plays, I’m sure I’ll love it.  He has the ability to make me like songs when I hear them live even if I didn’t like them on a cd.  Something always moves me to tears each concert (usually “Freedom”) and something always gets me dancing (usually “Please Forgive Me”) so I am super excited! It’s been far too long since I had a David Gray fix!

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The Maze Runner by James Dashner

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Read in August, 2009 – ARC received from the publisher (the cover is just black with white text so I like seeing the published cover)

In the beginning of James Dashner’s first book in a new trilogy, The Maze Runner, Thomas wakes up inside a dark box and has no idea where he is, or who he is.  He soon finds himself pulled out of the box into a courtyard and greeted by many other teenage boys.  He soon learns that the boys have all arrived the same way and, like him, cannot remember anything about who they are except their names.

Thomas begins to find his place in the day-to-day life of this strange place.  They live and work in a walled in area, and each boy has a job he must do.  Cook, farm, build – the usual tasks in a community.  One group has a special job – the maze runners.  Outside of their walls lies a maze that they have never found a solution to.  The runners go through it every day, returning each night to share what they discovered.  Every night, the walls move and these strange creatures come out  and will kill any boy they come across within the maze, so it is important no one spends the night outside of the walls.

After Thomas’ arrival, things begin to change.  One of the other boys swears he recognizes him.  The next person to arrive via the dark box is not a boy, but a teenage girl with a surprising message.  Can the maze be solved?  Is it possible to escape this strange place alive?  Who are they and why are they all there?

I had a difficult time getting into this at first.  Part of it was getting used to the slang the boys use, which is unique to their world.  I’m not sure why I had a hard time with it since I don’t remember struggling with the slang in Uglies or Feed.  I think I also had a hard time adjusting to the world, which is probably similar to the adjustment the characters go through when they arrive.  I did eventually get into it and then didn’t put it down until I finished it that same day.  I liked the characters of Thomas, Chuck, and Minho.  I am not sold on Teresa.  It is inevitable that this book will be compared to The Hunger Games  due to the all-teenage-fight-for-survival, but it can also be a Lord of the Flies readalike with the (almost) all male cast of characters and the power struggles that occur.

It is a certain cliffhanger, and I can’t wait to see where it picks up.  With the way the book ends, there are a lot of different ways it could go.  I’ll be buying this for our school library, and it would be a great middle school read, too. There is some violence, but nothing graphic, and no bad language (the slang they uses fills in for our bad words) or sex.

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Paranormal Activity

I’ve never been a big horror/scary movie fan.  When I was growing up, the Nightmare/Friday/Halloween movies never really scared me so I never had much interest in anything else.  Now, I love ghost stories, and I think my problem with those movies was that you saw everything, and what has always scared me was the idea of what you can’t see.

The one movie I remember being scared from as a kid was The Lost Boys.  Not because of all the vampires, but just one scene: the guys are at their house after they’ve gone to attack the vamps in their cave, and they have prepared the house knowing the vamps will be coming for them.  Corey Haim realizes that his dog is still tied up outside and runs to go get him.  It’s very windy out, and as he’s untying the dog, he looks up in the sky and starts freaking out because he sees the vamps coming.  He and the dog make it back to the house just in time.  The audience never gets a shot of the sky, just Corey’s scared face.  Later that night, after seeing the movie, we went to bed with the windows open.  I woke up at some point that night to a lot of wind and all I could think of was what Corey saw in the sky.  I freaked out, but not wanting to let my mom know the movie scared me (I was 11 or 12 at the time), I went and climbed into bed with my sister.  My sister who is 5 years younger than me.  Like she would protect me.

Scary things for me have always been about the possibility of things unseen, not knowing what might be lurking out there.  (Is it a surprise that I am a control freak?)  Two movies have scared me in my adult life: The Blair Witch Project and The Ring (spoilers ahead for these movies).  The Ring is certainly not about what is unseen, but I think the movie scared me because of the creepy video, the even creepier little girl who comes out of the tv and scares people to death (the audience never sees what happens when she scares you to death, so I guess it is a little bit about what is unseen), and my experience after seeing it.  I saw it with friends late at night and had to drive home alone.  I was freaked out and tried to call my husband at home to ask him to be waiting for me at the door so I wouldn’t have to run across the yard alone.  He didn’t answer the phone and all I could think of is the scene when Naomi Watts is driving to her ex’s house, hoping to save him before he dies, and he doesn’t answer the phone.  When I got home, I ran into the house, and the TV was on in the den.  I walked in and my husband was asleep on the couch and his face was covered.  Again, all I could think of was Naomi walking into the guy’s apartment and seeing him sitting in the chair with his back to her, and she had to walk up and turn the chair around to be greeted by his dead face.  It took me half a minute to walk over to the couch and uncover my husband’s face to confirm that he was just asleep.

The Blair Witch Project scared me because it is the epitome of not knowing what is out there.  I waited in line for hours to see it when it opened at the Angelika in NYC.  I had followed the internet hype for a long time and was so excited to see it (knowing all along that it was a movie, not a documentary).  When I went home that night, walking from the subway to my apartment in Astoria, Queens, I was scared witless, terrified of the possibility of a Blair Witch in Queens.  The ending really freaked me out because you don’t know what happened to Josh, you see the brief shot of Mike, and then Heather drops the camera and you don’t know what happened to her. Frea-key.  Just thinking about it now, 10 years later, gives me the willies.

And 10 years later, I go to see Paranormal Activity.

(Editing in my final paragraph here because it is non-spoilerly and can be read by someone trying to decide whether to go, but jump past it if you plan to click beyond the cut and read the whole post: I think that if you plan to see this, doing it in the theater is your best bet.  Despite the higher price, you can’t beat being surrounded by an equally jumpy crowd.  Tension was briefly relieved tonight when, after one moment, a guy yelled out, “Aw, hell no!”  I can’t imagine the atmosphere of the movie will be the same if watched at home.  But it certainly isn’t the scariest movie ever made, and despite the fact that my bedroom door is making weird noises due to the wind tonight, I am not afraid to leave my bedroom alone in the dark house, and I’m not afraid to fall asleep, which are my biggest signs of ghost/scary movie/things that go bump in the night fear.)

Spoilers to follow, so I don’t advise reading unless you have seen the film or don’t plan to.

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Photo Friday

Since I know I will never be one to participate in the Kidlitosphere Poetry Friday, I thought I’d start my own Friday thing for this blog by doing Photo Friday.

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I took this a month or so ago when I was finishing a re-read of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series in preparation for the release of her new book, An Echo in the Bone. I had set my book down and left the room, and when I returned, I found Jake using it for a pillow. Apparently, I’m not the only member of my house who is a Gabaldon fan!

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Thursday Tidbits

I’m hoping to get back on a regular review posting schedule soon (I can’t believe it’s been over a month since I posted one) but I thought that for today, I’d throw out a couple of random tidbits in case you haven’t seen them

  • If you are familiar with Mo Willem’s pigeon books, you will find this fake poster hysterical!
  • Glee fans! Glee will be on the cover of the next issue of Entertainment Weekly! Very exciting! I can’t wait for it to show up in my mailbox!

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Teens’ Top Ten 2009

This week, YALSA announced the winners of the Teens’ Top Ten. Voting was conducted online in August and September, and it is exciting to see John Green’s Paper Towns top the list! Congrats to him and to nerdfighters everywhere! DFTBA!  I have to admit that I was a little surprised he beat both Breaking Dawn and The Hunger Games since they both have their fans, but yay for John!

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