Thursday, December 28, 2006

Book 102: Whispers of the Night

NUMBER: 102
TITLE: Whispers of the Night
AUTHOR: Lydia Joyce
STARTED: December 25, 2006
FINISHED: December 27, 2006
PAGES: 308
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: Alcyone Carter was frightened.

SUMMARY: [From Amazon.com] When four London seasons fail to find her a suitable match, Alcyone Carter does the unthinkable and treks across Europe to marry a foreign nobleman she's never met. But on her wedding night, she discovers her handsome, enigmatic husband is not the man he claimed to be. Rather than live a lie, she escapes his estate into the darkness. But her husband - ignited by his desire and pride - risks everything to follow her from the depths of the Romanian forests into the decadent heart of Istanbul, where they're forced to confront the sensual passion they've discovered - and the dire threat that could cost them both their lives.

REASON FOR READING: It was Beth's 2006 Great Romance Novel Trade Christmas Gift to me. (I should probably get around to reading the one she gave me for the 2005 Great Romance Novel Trade Christmas Gift.)

THOUGHTS: This book needed to be longer. Much longer. At a scant 308 pages, I felt like the author as abridging her story. Alcyone and Dumitru were fascinating characters thrown into an even more fascinating story. The character development and plot, however, were lacking simply because Joyce did not give her story enough room to grow. The lack of space means that the characters come off more flat and one-dimensional than they should, and the story moves way to first. As I was reading, I felt like the author needed to slow down and catch her breath. Every plot moment and change in storyline worked, but they came one on top of the other.

Alcyone comes across as a woman who cares only for her freedom, mathematical thoughts, and money. The way Joyce writes, however, the reader can tell that there is so much more underlying her heroine. Forced by her father to marry a man with a title, Alycone heads out to southeastern Europe to marry a baron, only to find out that she's actually married the wrong man. It is in the scene where she deduces her mistake that the reader can clearly see there is more depth to this character than Joyce is allowed space for. Alcyone has real feelings and real reactions, but their merely glossed over for the sake of space.

Dumitru has the same problem. He's a baron prince, a caring man, and a spymaster. Sadly for the story, the spymaster bit is, again, glossed over. Joyce rushes through the politics and the quagmire that is international espionage simply to fit her story into the "usual" number of pages in a romance novel. This makes Dumitru's plot oftentimes confusing and almost unnecessary. Yes, it's cool that he's a spymaster. And, yes, it gives his character and the plot more intrigue, but if you're going to confuse your readers, why would the author throw that in at all?

The answer, Joyce is trying something new.

She's thrown those two characters into scenes and locations rarely scene in the modern romance genre. Istanbul? Slovakia? The Ottoman Empire? Wha? All of this makes for spectacular scenes and descriptions but, yet again, all of this is glossed over. There are moments in depth, such as when our leads must cross the chilly Danube, but, for the most part, these scenes are hurried. Our heroes are captured and what should be a dramatic drawn out scene, takes only a few pages. Then our heroes reach Istanbul. Dumitru is cast into the dungeon for his spying ways, and Alycone is forced into an English dinner party where she must find someone to help her save it. It is the turning point of the book, and it takes up scant pages of the story.

I kept on screaming, "More!" at this book. The writing is descriptive and imaginary, with a vocabulary that actually wowed me. The plot and characters could make for a phenomenal read, but it all came too fast, and was too short. I was almost exhausted at the end of this book; so much was crammed into so little space. Had Joyce added another 200 pages or so, her story would have been smoother, her characters more vibrant, and her plot even more intriguing.

MISCELLANEOUS: This is how you do a romance cover.

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): I'll let Beth read it before I put it on PBS.com
RATING: 6/10 [Good]

Monday, December 25, 2006

Book 101: To Rescue a Rogue

NUMBER: 101
TITLE: To Rescue a Rogue
AUTHOR: Jo Beverley
STARTED: December 22, 2oo6
FINISHED: December 25, 2006
PAGES: 417
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: A London night is full of sounds, but the barefoot young woman had not let any of them halt her flight until she heard the rattle of a carriage.

SUMMARY: [From Amazon.com] After Darius "Dare" Debenham rescues her from a potentially ruinous late-night adventure, Mara St. Bride vows to return the favor by rescuing Dare. A year after everyone thought he had perished at Waterloo, Dare turns up in England with little memory of what had happened to him and an addiction to opium. As Dare struggles desperately to overcome his dependency, the last thing he thinks he needs is someone like sweet, stubborn Mara meddling in his life, but she is determined to bring joy and light to the man she loves. A resourceful heroine who refuses to settle for anything less than true love and a tortured hero with a scandalous past eventually earn a happily-ever-after in this quietly powerful romance.

REASON FOR READING: It fit in my carry-on.

THOUGHTS: I probably should have read the plethora of books that came before this one in the series. More than once I found myself going, "Huh?" While the book can stand on it's own, so much is brought from the previous books that it is very easy to miss the nuances. I know I certainly would have enjoyed this book more if I had read all the other books in the series first.

I enjoyed two things about this book. First, the attention to detail. Beverley does not simply gloss over the whole "Regency" period. There are certainly details written about the balls, clothes, and horses. But Beverley goes beyond that. She also write about things like books needing their pages cut to be read, jewlery store purchases, and chamber pots! She also writes about the exhibits of London that were well attended at the time. Most authors neglect these everyday aspects of Regency London and it was nice to read about them for once.

Secondly, you can actually see how Dare and Mara would work as a married couple. Too often all authors write about is the chemsitry and lust between their leads. While I failed to feel any chemistry between Dare and Mara, I could actually feel the love. Beverly has them doing little things like holding hands, and having fanciful conversations. She shoes how they could work as husband and wife without hitting the reader over the head with such details.

Aside from those two things, this book wasn't anything special; just your typical regency romance. Like I stated earlier, it probably would have been much better if I had read the other books in the series. Then again, this once story did not whet my appetite enough to look for the other books.

MISCELLANEOUS: What's with naming heroes Darius?

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): PBSing
RATING: 5/10 [I didn't particularly like it or dislike it; mixed review]

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Books 99-100: Maus, A Survivor's Tale (Vols. I & II)

NUMBER: 99 and 100
TITLE: Maus, A Survivor's Tale, Vol. I: My Father Bleeds History and Maus, A Survivor's Tale, Vol. II: And Here My Troubles Began
AUTHOR: Art Spiegelman
STARTED: December 19, 2006
FINISHED: December 20, 2006
PAGES: 159 and 144 (Total; 303)
GENRE: Graphic Novels

FIRST SENTENCE: [From Vol. 1] It was summer, I remember.
[From Vol. 2] Summer vacation.

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com - Vol. 1] It is the story of Vladek Speigelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler's Europe, and his son, a cartoonist coming to terms with his father's story. Maus approaches the unspeakable through the diminutive. Its form, the cartoon (the Nazis are cats, the Jews mice), shocks us out of any lingering sense of familiarity. Maus is a haunting tale within a tale. Vladek's harrowing story of survival is woven into the author's account of his tortured relationship with his aging father. Against the backdrop of guilt brought by survival, they stage a normal life of small arguments and unhappy visits. This astonishing retelling of our century's grisliest news is a story of survival, not only of Vladek but of the children who survive even the survivors. Maus studies the bloody pawprints of history and tracks its meaning for all of us.

[From barnesandnoble.com - Vol. 1] Maus was the first half of the tale of survival of the author's parents, charting their desperate progress from prewar Poland Auschwitz. Here is the continuation, in which the father survives the camp and is at last reunited with his wife.

REASON FOR READING: These have been on my TBR list for quite some time.

THOUGHTS: This was the perfect set of books to read after finishing Night. I connected with the author and his personal struggle. Here he was, using the book has a meta-fictional and meta-autobiographical tool to help him understand his father. Throughout the book, Spiegelman himself surfaces through the text as something more than a character or storyteller. In fact, Spiegelmen breaks the story more than once to talk about writing the story, of finding the story, and coming to understand what he is doing. He becomes the reader and, in that way, the real reader connects with the heart of the story.

Another aspect of the book that worked well was the use of the animals as the characters. It makes the story a microcosm of itself. We can read about the Holocaust all we want, but we never can truly understand what happened unless we lived through it, and most of us have not. In using the animals, Spiegelman is taking the abstract to humanize the abstract. We can understand cats killings mice (the Germans killing the Jews in Maus), it's natural, we've grown accustomed to that idea and image. Seeing that in drawn form, and then connecting it to the Holocaust is jarring because humans killing humans on the scale of genocide is a concept we can never truly comprehend. Spiegelman tries to make us understand, mainly because he himself is trying to understand. He wants to get his father and his worrisome, perfectionist ways. The art and illusion seem a roundabout way of making the story tangible, but it works - particularly when the very human picture of Spiegelman's father in his prison garb makes an appearance at the end of volume II. It's as if Spiegelman is saying, "This is the story of my father as a young man, and here he is."

Spiegelman is kind to no one in this book. He does not sugarcoat his "characters," nor does he try to completely rationalize their actions. He makes his father seem like a possessed man who is living only in the past. Vladek, the father, is shown in modern day doing things he did in the camps to survive. Spiegelman himself comes off as detached and selfish. He doesn't get his father, and though he tries in the book, it comes across as an obligation. He let's everyone be. It's all out there, bare, for the reader to dissect themselves.

Maus works because it's not trying to be something, it just is. The reader can clearly see the author struggle with the book, his father and their relationship, and the Holocaust. Those are all things that the reader can identify with too. The book is a struggle, reading it is a mental struggle, and Spiegelman, by placing himself at the forefront of that struggle, ensures that Maus tells a dramatic and important story of history and the struggle to come to grips with that history.

MISCELLANEOUS: This takes courage.

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): Back to the library
RATING: 8/10 [Terrific]

Monday, December 18, 2006

Unsuggestions

My friend Tony was trying to help me bridge the gap between now and Thursday, when I fly home for Christmas. In doing so, he passed me along to the Unsuggester at LibraryThing. I decided to play around and found some very interesting things.

I put Vince Flynn's Consent to Kill in and the unsuggester returned 75 books. I supposedly neither own nor read the books in the list. I actually

own...
  1. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  2. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  3. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  4. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
  5. Vanity Fair : a Novel Without a Hero by William Makepeace Thackeray
  6. The Elements of Style by William Strunk
and have read...
  1. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  2. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  3. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  4. The Plague by Albert Camus
  5. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
  6. The Elements of Style by William Strunk
  7. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  8. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
In comparison, I put in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander and I have neither read nor owned any of the 74 books it returned. As a final test, I put in Mark Bowden's Black Hawk Down. Again, I neither own nor have read the 74 books listed. I'm trying figure out what this means. I am either an eclectic reader, or the whole Vince Flynn book was a fluke.

Anyone home?

It feels very odd to be in the library right now. Last week, it was insane. Finals week has a way of turning the library into a kind of intellectual night club. Not so much this week. I just went upstairs to get a cart of books from the reference room, and it was eerily silent. I mean, a library is supposed to be quiet, but this was just odd.

Over the last two weeks, I've really come to place certain faces in certain seats. People tend to grab the same place to study over and over again. I also felt quite guilty for bringing a squeaky cart into the reference room because the noise would jar people out of their bibliographic and paper writing stupors.

Today, there was nothing to worry about. There was one person in the reference room. Everyone else has gone home for the holidays.

Now we librarians get to deal with the carnage and fall out that comes at the end of the semester.

The book drops, they are scary.

The carts of books waiting to be shelved. Even scarier.

Book 98: On Truth

NUMBER: 98
TITLE: On Truth
AUTHOR: Harry G, Frankfurt
STARTED: December 17, 2006
FINISHED: December 17, 2006
PAGES: 101
GENRE: Philosophy

FIRST SENTENCE: Not very long ago, I published an essay on bullshit, entitled On Bullshit (Princeton University Press, 2005).

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] Having outlined a theory of bullshit and falsehood, Harry G. Frankfurt turns to what lies beyond them: the truth, a concept not as obvious as some might expect.

Our culture's devotion to bullshit may seem much stronger than our apparently halfhearted attachment to truth. Some people (professional thinkers) won't even acknowledge "true" and "false" as meaningful categories, and even those who claim to love truth cause the rest of us to wonder whether they, too, aren't simply full of it. Practically speaking, many of us deploy the truth only when absolutely necessary, often finding alternatives to be more saleable, and yet somehow civilization seems to be muddling along. But where are we headed? Is our fast and easy way with the facts actually crippling us? Or is it "all good"? Really, what's the use of truth, anyway?

With the same leavening wit and commonsense wisdom that animates his pathbreaking work On Bullshit, Frankfurt encourages us to take another look at the truth: there may be something there that is perhaps too plain to notice but for which we have a mostly unacknowledged yet deep-seated passion. His book will have sentient beings across America asking, "The truth-why didn't I think of that?"

REASON FOR READING: Saw it on a cart I was labeling, and I had to see if the author was just as pretentious as ever.

THOUGHTS: Yup, still has pretentious as ever.

I have this sneaking suspicion that Mr. Frankfurt is just going out of his way to be an ass. There is something in his superfluous vocabulary and overwrought prose that makes me think he sees himself as better than everybody else. I could not actually get into the subject of this book because I was too busy dreaming of socking the author.

This is the second of Frankfurt's books where I've wanted to say, "Thank you, sir, for philosophically investigating a common subject to an obvious conclusion." We need truth. Truth is good. Truth keeps society going. Wow, what a profound conclusion. Honestly, I never knew that.

Sure, this could be a great book, but Mr. Frankfurt's holier-than-thou tone really just makes me want to kick him in the shins.

I get it. You're smart; you don't have to be hoity-toity about it.

MISCELLANEOUS: Shiny cover!

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): Back to the library
RATING: 5/10 [I didn't particularly like it or dislike it; mixed review]

Friday, December 15, 2006

Book 97: Night

NUMBER: 97
TITLE: Night
AUTHOR: Elie Wiesel
STARTED: December 14, 2006
FINISHED: December 15, 2006
PAGES: 109
GENRE: Memoir

FIRST SENTENCE: They called him Moshe the Beadle, as though he had never had a surname in his life.

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] An autobiographical narrative in which the author describes his experiences in Nazi concentration camps, watching family and friends die, and how they led him to believe that God is dead.

REASON FOR READING: I came across it as I was working overtime in the stacks and just decided to take it home.

THOUGHTS: You can't review this book. You can talk about the prose, but you can't actually review memoirs, and this memoir specifically. How do you talk about the plot and characters of someone's life, of someone's past, of the death of someone's religion and childhood? You can't. Wiesel's book is important because it is so open. It lays bare a 15-year old boy's innermost soul.

The one part of this book you can review is the prose. It is stark. It is simple. And it is heart-wrenching. The basic prose leaves the reader feeling exposed and vulnerable. There is absolutely no hiding from Wiesel's story. And that is where my conundrum comes in. For me, this book was not so much about one man's struggle through hell; it was about the compassion of man. More explicitly, this book made me think about where human compassion fails.

It may just be me, but I found myself not really "feeling" Weisel's horrors. Last year, I read about genocide... a lot. Since I was writing about humanitarian intervention for my politics thesis and the Rwandan genocide in film for my media studies senior paper, I found myself reading mountains of articles and books on genocide throughout history. And, I think somewhere in my research, I became numb to the horrors of this travesty. The first few articles had me on the verge of tears; after I watched Hotel Rwanda and Sometimes in April in the same afternoon, I was depressed for 48 hours. But after that, nothing moved me any more.

That's why Night made me ask myself, "When does human compassion stop?" This book should have moved me to tears many times. It should have me gunning to rage against the genocide that is occurring in Darfur. Instead, I read it in one sitting, merely blinking through the most difficult scenes. Am I no longer a compassionate person, do I no longer care about the ravages against humanity that are ongoing as I type this, or has my brain simply shut down to save my sanity?

For me, Night is not simply about the horrors of on man's experience of the holocaust, it makes the reader questions how much horror they can stand. It forces them to ask themselves whether they are strong enough to act against genocide. It makes the reader questions who they are, how they perceive the ultimate crime, and what, if anything, they can do about it.

MISCELLANEOUS: What was the whole debate over this book? I remember there being something, but I'm not entirely sure what it was.

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): Returned to the library
RATING: 8/10 [Terrific]

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Book 96: What to Wear to a Seduction

NUMBER: 96
TITLE: What to Wear to a Seduction
AUTHOR: Sari Robins
STARTED: December 12, 2006
FINISHED: December 13, 2006
PAGES: 384
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: Barely taking in the birds chirping in the trees, the squirrels darting about, or the sun riding on the pine scented breeze, Prescott Devane strode down the path to the orphanage's guest house, his irritation at full boil.

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] "What does one wear to a proper seduction?" Edwina groaned as she stared at her reflection in the tall gilded mirror. "And what now? I'm putting on the clothing simply to have it taken off." And why would proper Lady Edwina Ross dress to seduce "London's Perfect Lover"? Because Prescott Devane, the notorious rogue, is the only one who can help the desperate lady with her scheme to catch a blackmailing fiend. Because no one else could play the role of a love-struck fiancé so convincingly. Because a faux engagement, secrets, the threat of scandal, and the promise of untapped passion are too tantalizing to ignore. Because, if the need arises, every woman should know what to wear to a seduction.

REASON FOR READING: Anything but a Harlequin

THOUGHTS: After all the crappy Harlequins I just finished, this book should have scored a 7 easy. It didn't. "Why?" You ask. Because the two lead characters have no flaws. They're perfect. Other people may not like them for whatever reason, but the way Robins writes her characters makes them perfect people. It was kind of disgusting. They were so perfect. I want flawed heroes. I want real people. Is that too much to ask.

Edwina arranges the fake engagement with our hero, Prescott (who recently save a child from burning to death), because she wants to help a friend. Prescott can't say no to a woman in need. Our two romantics are caught up a superfluous blackmail plot. Proper seduction, wooing, and falling in love-ness ensues.

Hero properly refuses past paramour. Hero stays at the side of ailing heroine. Heroine stands up for hero. Blah blah blah.

It was all so dreadfully boring. At least the characters had a little chemistry.

MISCELLANEOUS: I can't figure out if it is anatomically possible to copy the heroine's pose on the cover.

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): PBSing.
RATING: 5/10 [I didn't particularly like it or dislike it; mixed review]

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Book 95: No Bride But His

NUMBER: 95
TITLE: No Bride But His
AUTHOR: Carly Bishop
STARTED: December 6, 2006
FINISHED: December 11, 2006
PAGES: 249
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: CNBC Special Report, correspondent from the scene, Superior Court of King County: ....

SUMMARY: [From suite101.com] Undercover agent, J.D. Thorne is getting closer to uncovering the TruthSayers operation, which is full of dirty cops and dirty city officials. After J.D. talks with an old friend who is also a local judge, an attempt is made on his life.

Detective Ann Calder left her home and the battered women's and children's shelter she created to save J.D. from certain death. Ann knows someone is trying to kill J.D., but who?

Ann took him the only place she knew she could keep him safe. He needed time to heal. Home. In Cold Springs, Montana, the religious community where she was raised.

Annie Tschetter, as she was known, had left the community when she was young and she was not exactly welcomed back when she arrived with J.D. in tow. They tried to send her away finally Ann told Timothy, her brother, that J.D was her husband and he then let her stay but she had to follow the rules.

Ann has made a promise to herself when she left the community that she would never fall in love because then you cannot be free. No matter how hard Ann tries, she can't help the feelings that she has for J.D. and has had since the last case they were on together.

When J.D. is well enough he and Ann leave because he cannot put the kind people of the community at risk to save him. They would stop at nothing or no one to get him.

REASON FOR READING: Almost to 100

THOUGHTS: I have no idea what happened in this book. There was so some sort of vigilante group that was attacking our romantic pair. They were the bad guys working for good who were still bad. It made absolutely no sense. Somehow we arrive at a religious colony. Very weird. There was a SURPRISE! baby teenager.

I honestly am so confused by the plot of this book that my brain hurts.

Also, for a couple that was supposedly hot for each other since before the book started, there was absolutely no chemistry.

MISCELLANEOUS: No more Harlequins! Yippee!!!!!

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): Cringe
RATING: 1/10 [Don't waste your time / Awful]

Make up your mind!

That's right, less than I week after I've started it, I've decided to kill the whole "Picture Book" feature. I realized that those updates were just regular blog posts, not a real feature.

How fickle is woman. At least this one.

I will try to continue daily updates, but I make no promises.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Introductions


Hello, everyone. I am the labeler. I am the bane of Meghan's existence... or at least my predecessors were. They wouldn't print, or would print awkwardly - with smears everywhere. Once she was able to fix the smears, something on the computer would break. Then, once the computer was fixed, the labeler would break again. The first three months of her job were spent fighting with the labeler.

I, on the other hand, am a much better labeler. Aside from the weird installation of my resin roll, I work quite effectively. I do not smear. I do not have evil plastic cover strip. Best of all, my labels don't need to be ironed onto the books.

Then again, I don't like to stick to certain types of binding cloth. Oh well, you can't be perfect.

Besides, if the Library of Congress uses me, I should be darn good enough for a university library.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Picture Book

My roommate, Kristy, gave me this book journal for my birthday this summer. A few months later, my father gave me the exact same journal as a "just because" gift. I use it to keep track of books I want to buy and/or check-out from the library. I also use it to know which books I have borrowed from where. Two sections of the book are already devoted to this purpose. The middle section is for keeping quotes and such. I doubt I will follow that little bit, because I have this here online journal for such purposes. Instead, I'll probably use that middle section to continue to list what books I want.

The very last part of the book is a folder section. I have an index card there listing what books I have already read, and want to own as First Edition hardcovers. I also keep a ruler back there in order to cross out the books I buy or return to their original owner. No one ever said a neat freak, book lover didn't like lists.

The book is the perfect size to fit in even my smallest purse. Thus, when I know I will be out and about (around a bookstore or a library), I make sure to have this little sucker handy. The one downside, this analog format does not necessarily translate that easily to the digital "Wants" list I have on my computer. I also made an attempt at one time to have a coding system so I knew where to pick-up the books, but I found that to be to cluttered and difficult to read. Another downside is that I can't readily alphabetize this journal, so I spend an obscene amount of time going page by page, trying to cross out a book I know is on my list.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Book 94: The Man She'll Marry

NUMBER: 94
TITLE: The Man She'll Marry
AUTHOR: Ann Roth
STARTED: December 6, 2006
FINISHED: December 10, 2006
PAGES: 248
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE:Cinnamon Smith slowed her rented sedan to a crawl and peered through the windshield.

SUMMARY: [From the back of the book] After a painful breakup and the loss of her job, Cinnamon Smith feels there's only one place she can go - her best friend Fran's bed-and-breakfast in the small town of Cranberry, Oregon. The first person she meets on her arrival is Nick Mahoney, Fran's handyman. Cinnamon's attraction to Nick is immediate, and the feeling is definitely mutual.

But Cinnamon has spent years working toward a certain kind of life, a life she can't have with Nick. Spending time in Cranberry, and with him, is beginning to change all that. Then she gets a job offer that would put her career goals back on track... Which means Cinnamon has to choose between the life she's always wanted and the love that's right in front of her.

REASON FOR READING: Must. get. through. Harlequins.

THOUGHTS: I'm getting really sick of reading and reviewing Harlequins. They just seem so insubstantial and flat. Come the new year, I am going to gorge myself on anything but romances in general and Harlequins in particular.

Nick and Cinnamon do indeed have a great romance and story, but it just wraps up way to nicely. Complete with the little bow of "Marry me?" And the big secret of Nick's dyslexia, not much of a sticking point at all. I really wish the whole drama surrounding the pair would have been Cinnamon's desire to marry a certain kind of man - the kind of man that is the opposite of Nick. She wants wealthy, upward leaning, highly educated, MBA, yada yada yada. Instead, she gets Nick the handyman. That whole scenario was more interesting than the whole, "I have dyslexia and reading is hard."

Roth clearly has a talent for both characters and plot, I only wish she had more pages in which to express herself.

MISCELLANEOUS: Seriously, Cinnamon. Please refer to my friend Jennifer's blog. My thoughts on this are in accord with hers.

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): PBS
RATING: 4/10 [An "okay" book, but I don't recommend it]

Saturday, December 09, 2006

When you wish...

I was over at Sarah's Books - Used & Rare, reading her post about a reading journal that recently came into her hands. She says, "There's nothing so sweetly ephemeral as ephemera such as this."

Her post reminded me of me of a wonderful artifact that used to sit in the display case of the used bookstore I worked in during High School. It was a large encyclopedia about wines of the world. The owner of the book had turned it into a masterpiece. Wine labels, review slips, and notes had been added to the book over the years. Normally, I would have palpitations over seeing a book so used. In this case, however, I was moved by the previous owner's passion. All the writing and labels added to the quality of the book instead of detracting from it.

The book was so thick with additions that it no longer closed. It burst open at to a forty degree angle. There was no way this book would fit on a bookshelf with other books. It was an entity unto itself, and, from the first moment I saw it, I wanted to own it. Unfortunately, at the time, I could not afford it.

I go home about three or four times a year, and I always check to see if this book is still there. It always was, until this Thanksgiving. I walked in, looked at the case, and it was gone. My heart plummeted more than a little.

On the bright side, the one other book I've wanted to buy from the shop - a first U.S. edition of Bram Stoker's Dracula, rebound with red leather and a black leather bat - is still there. And the price dropped by a grand.

Maybe. One day.

If I wish hard enough.

Picture Book

Whoops. A little late on this one. That's what I get for having a random Friday off.


If you're like me - clipping lots of things from magazines, newspapers, calanders, etc. - this tool could sure come in handy. Levenger would get all my money... if I could afford it. While this single-sheet cutter is not too expensive, I keep on forgetting to order it. Has anyone used it before? Thoughts?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Picture Book

I was once asked, if I could reverse one natural disaster, which one would I give the etch-a-sketch end to? After much thought, and odd looks because I did not pick the Tsunami from 2004, I decided on the earthquake that tumbled the library of Alexandria into the sea. It's almost impossible to imagine what priceless treasures of literature and history were lost on that fateful day.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Book 93: Little Girl Found

NUMBER: 93
TITLE: Little Girl Found
AUTHOR: Jo Leigh
STARTED: December 3, 2006
FINISHED: December 5, 2006
PAGES: 256
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: If the SOB said the Bulls "was robbed" one more time, Jack was going to get his gun and shoot the damn television.

SUMMARY: [From the back of the book] When a child was dropped on ex-detective Jack McCabe's doorstep, he vowed to guard her with his life. She had no one to claim here - except sexy caregiver Hailey Bishop. And both vulnerable ladies needed his protection from killers tying up loose ends - killers who might be dirty cops...

Jack worried the wasn't the right man for this job - not since the accident that had stripped him of his badge, his life. But together they formed a fugitive family, working to keep one another safe... and Jack felt whole for the first time in years. Maybe he was the one who'd been found and rescued after all.

REASON FOR READING: Must. rid. self. of. Harlequins.

THOUGHTS: Author thinks, "How can I get two people together in close quarters, have the marry, and get a kid all within 250 pages? I know, I'll come up with an insane plot involving the mafia and dirty cops that is never fully fleshed out, wrapped up hastily at the end, and involves the hero having a back story about taking a bullet to the hip. And my heroine! She must be carrying and curvy. Perfect."

Gag.

MISCELLANEOUS: I have now matched my "books read" from last year.

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): PBS.com
RATING: 1/10 [Don't waste your time / Awful]

Picture Book

Today's image comes from BookLust, one of my favorite blogs. Ever! I suggest that everyone hop over there and dig around the archives. Ms. Storms, the blogger, is a fantastically addictive writer and one hell of an artist as well.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Book 92: Just for Christmas

NUMBER:92
TITLE: Just for Christmas
AUTHOR: Stella Bagwell
STARTED: November 30, 2006
FINISHED: December 2, 2006
PAGES: 251
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: Hope Logan glanced at her wristwatch, then out the open door of the gift shop to the main waiting area of Maitland Maternity Clinic.

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] Hope Logan wanted only two things for Christmas—her husband, Drake, and the child he refused to give her. Drake had made it plain he had no desire to be a father...and it seemed his desire for Hope had disappeared as well.

Drake Logan didn't mind taking risks—but not with his wife. Their one shot at being parents had ended in disaster. He'd almost lost Hope then...and now it looked as if he was going to lose her anyway.

Then came Stevie....When Drake's young nephew arrived for the holidays, everything changed. Suddenly they seemed like a family—and they acted like it, too! Only, Stevie couldn't stay forever. And Hope and Drake had to decide if they loved each other enough to try again...or if their happiness would be Just for Christmas.

REASON FOR READING: The better to motor threw the Harlequins...

THOUGHTS: Compared to ALL of the Harlequins I've been reading lately, this one was surprisingly good. It had a dramatic realism that was missing from the other romances. Drake and Hope actually came across as, oh my goodness, real people. It was actually quite shocking. Their relationship had all the dynamics of any real-life couple in trouble. In this book, I was not so much intrigued by the whole "romance" and "plot" of the book. Instead, I was drawn to the connection that develops between two people who, while still deeply in love, are no longer sure they can work things out anymore.

Drake is a multi-layered character who loves Hope so much that he makes bad decisions. After Hope miscarried their child, he refused to have another baby because he was too afraid of losing Hope herself. In setting this standard, he begins to lose Hope by pushing her away. Drake still loves his wife, but he is so afraid of losing her that he does not notice that he's about to lose her anyway. On another level, Drake is so set in his belief that he will be a bad parent that he does not see that he has exactly what it takes to not repeat his parents' mistakes.

Hope is so determined to have a baby that she just pushes Drake away. The best part of this book is the way Drake and Hope interact because they refuse to compromise. It's this push a pull of wills that makes the book enjoyable.

The random drama surrounding the couple actually takes away from the book. I don't care about the abandoned baby, I don't care about the random hook-ups, I know this is all set-up for the rest of the series (which I would not avoid reading), but it detracts from the relationship at hand. I wish Bagwell had focused more on the struggles of the married couple. Drake and Hope were fascinating characters, everything else was just filler.

MISCELLANEOUS: Romance grab bags from the library are fun.

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): PBS
RATING: 6/10 [Good]

CR: I'm stopping this little bit... because it's just plain annoying.
RN: See above. Boo to unnecessary shtuff!

On the Job #3

There is a comedy of errors occurring as we speak. A part-timer in the Stacks office was trying to put a security strip down the spine of a book. She did not follow the maxim of "Don't force it." So the metal stick she used to guide the strip got stuck. Not just stuck, stuck. Jammed in there not moving an inch stuck.

We tried brute force. That failed.

We tried using another metal stick to widen the gap between the spine and the textblock. That failed.

Then my one boss broke out an heater and ironed the spine. That just worked.

Our next option was to stick the book in the freezer to see if that would dry the glue out.

New Feature!: Picture Book

Starting today, I'm going to start a new feature.... or at least try to start a new feature: Picture Book. I'll post a photo, cartoon, or whathaveyou that I find interesting. Today's picture comes from this random site after a random Google search for "Library Shelves."


Friday, December 01, 2006

Book 91: The Sheik's Secret Bride

NUMBER: 91
TITLE: The Sheik's Secret Bride
AUTHOR: Susan Mallery
STARTED: November 29, 2006
FINISHED: November 30, 2006
PAGES: 251
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: "Oh, Mommy, look!"

SUMMARY: [From the back of the book] Single mom Liana Archer had read her share of romance novels featuring dashing, passionate sheiks. Still, she was astonished when sinfully handsome Malik Khan, Crown Prince of exotic El Bahar, hijacked her and her little girl off an airliner and into his lavish palace. Why would the sexy desert prince want a passable pretty school teacher from San Bernadino?

Dazed, breathless and mesmerized with desire, LIana quickly became Malik's royal bride. But dare she entrust her daughter - or her heart- to a man who would give them anything byt his love? Or might a caring American mother and child finally move this proud, imperious monarch and make his kingdom complete?

REASON FOR READING: Another short one on my way to 100. I am so cheating. But it's my list, so I make the rules. Muhahahaha.

THOUGHTS: I honestly could not enjoy this book because I kept on thinking of the political ramifications of everything that was going on.

1. Malik, the sheik, (god I love rhymes) steals Liana off of a plane. She's an American in a Middle Eastern country. While this book was written before Sept. 2001, I still say that would not have gone over well in the press. Even when Liana contacts the embassy later about her surprise marriage they tell her "Meh, nothing we can do sista." Somehow, I don't think that would happen.

2. Malik's people don't care that he married an American? If he's so beloved by his country, and loves his people so much, why would he up an marry a Westerner?

3. Clearly, marrying someone randomly in a desert nomadic ceremony, without their knowledge or consent is legal. Let's see that one hold up in a court of law.

4. A school teacher clearly makes the best royal ambassador for a country she's never been too.

5. And, even more clearly, the neighboring Arabic countries will readily take to a Western being a royal.

6. Malik, the sheik, wanders around with no royal bodyguards whatsoever. Clearly El Bahar is the safest country in the world and no one would want to assassinate an unguarded royal.

7. Malik, the sheik, is also a Western man in hiding. There was nothing remotely Middle Eastern about him. He's even portrayed as a cross between George Clooney and Cary Grant on the cover of the book.

I know romance novels ask the reader to suspend reality a little bit, but this was just too much.

MISCELLANEOUS: I want to go to Bahrain

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): Cringe
RATING: 3/10 [Poor, Lost Interest]

CR: Just for Christmas by Stella Bagwell
RN: Little Girl Found by Jo Leigh