Monthly Archives: September 2008

Twilight Series – 4 for 1 review

Initially I wanted to post a review for each book in Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series, but as I finished Breaking Dawn over the weekend, I realized that it wasn’t going to be easy. Although the books don’t overlap with each other, its not hard to give away spoilers. My overall impression of the books are that they are not the replacement Harry Potter series as some other reviews would have you think. I’m still trying to figure out the appeal of the characters despite the weak storylines. Not a typical review, I’ll just write up a paragraph on each title.

Twilight

The novel begins with Bella Swan’s move from Phoenix to Forks, Washington, one of the rainiest cities in Twilight (The Twilight Saga, Book 1)the US. Bella first meets Edward as her biology lab partner when he takes an unusually offense to her being placed next to him. Over the next few weeks, their relationship develops and its not long before Bella puts the pieces of Edward’s unusual characteristics together. His speed, his good looks, and his strength all point to Edward being a vampire. As their romance develops, a nomad coven soon enters Forks, putting Bella’s human life in serious danger.

Twilight is really the strongest book in the series. The reader feels Bella’s attraction to Edward, and every girl I’ve talked to who has read this book has fallen in love with Edward as well. Bella is clumsy and is very typical high school teenage girl, but maybe a little bit more mature. Twilight is a story that is definitely age appropriate for high school. The characters are strong, they can easily fit in high school archetypes of “jock” “cheerleader” “nerd” etc. I read this book from 10pm until 4:30am, so I have to say that reading that late at night with a cankerous raccoon scurrying around in my backyard helped add to the mood and tone of the book. I’m not sure I would feel as strongly for the book if I read it in broad daylight.

FINAL GRADE: A

The reviews for New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn are below the link.

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I <3 Blogs

i_love_your_blog

I’ve been absent from blogging for a quite a while now, things in my life are a bit hectic at the moment, and I have no Internet access at home. So that puts a bit of a damper on being able to blog at all hours of the day.

THANK YOU to Medieval Bookworm for *hearting* my blog!! I feel so special. =)

Now its my turn to let other blogs realize how special they are.

The rules:
1) Add the logo of the award to your blog.

2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.

3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs. (I have a feeling the people I’m nominating have already been given this award)

4) Add links to those blogs on your blog. (Done.)

1. The Bluestocking Society

2. Letters on Pages

3. Devourer of Books

4. Should be Reading

5. Take the Canoli (yummy yummy recipie blog)

6. The Book Lady Blog

7. Hidden Side of a Leaf

I promise I’ll be settled down by October and will have a number of reviews ready to be posted. I’m already working on the review for all 4 Stephanie Meyers books in the Twilight Series, although, I can give you all a sneak preview and say that I really enjoyed the first book, Twilight, and I wish I had stopped reading then because the following three books just fell apart.

I’m also trying to start the Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse vampire mystery series, but I seem to be only be able to find books 6,7,8 at my library and I can’t start from the beginning.

I did go to the San Francisco Big Book Sale, and it was not exactly what I was expecting. There were thousands of books, but on some tables you saw 30 copies of the same book (ie Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone). But fair prices, I even accidentally ended up buying an autographed copy of The Professor and the Madma, by Simon Winchester. I picked up mostly cookbooks for myself and a few memoirs for my sister (which I also plan on reading). October should be a good month.

A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of The Oxford English Dictionary

Banned Books Week Sept 27th – Oct 4th

Well now, what kind of librarian would I be if I didn’t mention Banned Book Week on my blog?

The American Library Association (ALA) has posted the 10 most frequently banned books and authors of 2007. I’ve posted the list below the link. I must say that some of these authors are repeat offenders, and I am glad that this is being brought to attention. Although my library doesn’t receive many complaints about books, I haven’t had to figure out the psychology behind the “I didn’t like it, so no one else should read it” mentality.

This is what ALA had to say about BBW on their website:

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read is observed during the last week of September each year. Observed since 1982, this annual ALA event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted. This year, 2008, marks BBW’s 27th anniversary (September 27 through October 4).

BBW celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met.

BBW is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Library Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers, National Association of College Stores, and is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

Intellectual freedom, censorship and copyright issues are some of the most prevalent issues libraries deal with on a daily basis. We are just gatekeepers to information. Librarians aren’t parents or guardians. We are not responsible for sitting down a child and explaining why certain materials are not age appropriate. That should be the parent’s responsibility. Its never fair that parents try to shirk away that responsibility just by getting rid of the book. The problem will resurface eventually.

Most libraries will have some sort of display or lists of frequently banned books. Many other locations, college campuses, bookstores, etc, will be hosting read-outs. My former college is hosting a read-out today, gathering people to read 15-20 minutes from their favorite banned book. I unfortunately won’t be able to make it, but you can check out this link to find out what is going on in your state and local area. BannedBooksWeekpicturecopy.jpg picture by n_avanesian

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More Tales of the City – Review

More Tales of the City  “Remarkable … delectable, addictive.”  -- New York Times Book Review

First Line

The valentine was a handmade pastiche of victorian cherubs, pressed flowers and red glitter.

The Review

More Tales of the City picks up quickly where Tales of the City left off. More Tales of the City continues the stories of Mary Ann, Mona, Brian, Michael (Mouse) and Mrs. Madrigal as well as all of their acquaintances and family. This story starts with Mary Ann and Mouse going on a Mexican cruise where Mary Ann meets a handsome gentleman with a case of amnesia about his life in San Francisco. Having convinced Burke to return to San Francisco, Mary Ann becomes Nancy Drew, trying to solve the mystery of Burke’s identity and why he has an abnormal fear of roses. Mona leaves California for Nevada, in order to put her life back in order, and Michael (Mouse) is constantly on the look-out for his one true love as well as dealing with his parent misguided homophobic letters and sentiments.

The book begins with a couple of chapters that neatly summarize the first book of the series. In this book, the characters going through development and changes, becoming a little bit more mature, and more settled with their lives. There are levels of self-discovery, but neatly written with the Maupin sharp wit and still puzzling, to me at least, pop culture references. The amnesia mystery is entertaining, as is Mary Ann’s obsession with finding out the truth about Burke. Mona’s relationship with the landlady, Mrs. Madrigal is further explained as well. This book neatly ties up all the loose strings left by the ending of the first novel. I’m curious to see what the third book, Further Tales of the City, will take the characters.

FINAL GRADE: A

More Tales of the City
by Armistead Maupin
Harper Perennial, 1980
ISBN 0060924799
340 pages

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Find this book at your local library

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Tales of the City – Review

A Novel (P.S.)

First Line

Mary Ann Singleton was twenty-five years old when she saw San Francisco for the first time.

The Review

Well, for starters, the opening line of Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin did not give away much of the plot or provide much of a thesis for the story as other novels usually do. The opening line, does however lay the setting for the novel. San Fransisco, and as you keep reading, you find that it is San Fransisco in the 1970s. Although the story starts with Mary Ann’s decision to move to San Francisco at age 25, leaving her home in Cleveland, she is not the central character in this book. San Francisco is a city filled with friends-of-a-friend, that seem to be loosely linked to Mary Ann in one way or another. The central characters revolve around the residents of 28 Barbary Lane; Mona, Brian, Michael (also known affectionately as Mouse), and their landlady, Mrs. Madrigal. As the first book in a series of seven books, Tales of the City simply sets up the scene and characters. For the most part, this book is story of a group of 20-year-olds looking for love, gay or straight love, in San Francisco. There are no clearly defined good guys or bad guys, there didn’t seem to be much conflict or climax in the first book. Towards the end there was a mystery revolving Mary Ann and one of the tenants, Norman Neal Williams, but I felt that the ending wrapped up a little too neatly and the mystery wasn’t very well laid out. There characters are all pretty self-involved, so there wasn’t any one character that stood out from the pack. However, I was interested enough to read the second book in the series, More Tales of the City. I am very glad I kept reading because the sequel is more detailed and well formed than the first book. That just leaves me to confirm that the first book was meant to be an introduction to the characters, and the mysterious Normal Neal Williams was an added element only to create some form of conflict in an otherwise plain story of finding love and acceptance in the city. Each chapter is about two to three pages in length, and tells the story of one of the ten main characters. The characters range from all sorts of personalities and ethnicities that seem to be the core representations of San Francisco. The hippie feminists, the closet gay men, the openly gay men, etc.

My only complaint with the book is that it was written in the 1970s, so therefore, many of the pop culture references, and there were many, would frequently go over my head, so I’d have to stop reading and look up the actors, plays, musicals, scattered throughout the novel. If you lived in San Francisco in the 70s, then this would be a choice read, as you will recognize the locations and many of the references Maupin refers to throughout the course of the novel.

FINAL GRADE: A –

Tales of the City
Armistead Maupin
Harper Perennial, 1978
ISBN 0061358302
371 pages

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Find this book at your local library

Buy this book from Better World Books

Buy this book from Amazon

Book Group Expo – Updates

The Third Chapter of the Book Group Expo is going to be held at the San Jose Convention Center towards the end of October. This is a great event, to see author seminars and “couch-talks” walk through the exhibit hall and meet different publishers and learn about new books. The Authors are already signed up, and I’m happy to say many of these authors have graced the review pages of some of my favorite blogs. It’s always better knowing about books and authors before going to an event, even if I haven’t had a chance to read all the books.

I’ve included the list of authors below the link. Please visit the website Book Group Expo for more information.

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Upcoming reviews updates

Whoever said the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer was addicting, was most certainly neither exaggerating nor joking in the slightest bit. I started reading Twilight at around 10pm last night and ended up staying awake until 4:30am to finish the book. I could not put the book down for one second. After getting all of three hours sleep, I promtly read through New Moon this morning, finishing around noon, also not putting the book down for more than 1 minute. Reviews will be coming in the next few days. I have to work tonight, otherwise I would probably pull another all-nighter to finish Eclipse and Breaking Dawn. But I think I shall take a break from Edward and Bella for one night. I need something to look forward to for the rest of the week.

I will also have reviews for two Amistad Maupin Books, Tales of the City and Further Tales of the City posted this week as well. It seems that my theme of the week is series.

I’ll also be reporting on the giant San Francisco Book Sale going on at Fort Mason this week. If you aren’t planning on going, I suggest you change your mind. Its going to be a fantastically large book sale, and I plan on getting there bright and early so that I can spend the entire day browsing through all the books on the tables.

Keeping with the supernatural theme (the show did start last Thursday, if anybody caught the season premier), I checked out a biography on Charles Fort, the “Man Who Invented The Supernatural”, a fiction author from the 1920’s.

Weekly Geek # 17 – Library Quotes

I will dazzle you with 2 quotes today, because I did not get a chance to post one yesterday.

A good library will never be too neat, or too dusty, because somebody will always be in it, taking books off the shelves and staying up late reading them. ~Lemony Snicket

I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I got to the library and read a good book. ~ Groucho Marx

The Swap – Review

The Swap

Pre-ramble:

Well, this book was supposed to be my very first Early Review for Library Thing’s Early Reviewers group. The bad news is that I didn’t receive the book until one week after the publication date. The good news however, is that this book is readily available for purchase for all you lucky readers.

A few years ago, a friend of mine once told me that the very first line in the book is the most important line in the entire work. This is the sentence that is supposed to hook the reader, and leave the reader wanting to reading more. To this day, I always take in the first sentence to be a sort of thesis into how the rest of the book will carry through. Usually, I am not surprised.

The Review:

The Swap by Antony Moore

First line: Superman One?” The “odd boy” turned his face, never completely clean, toward the school building and Harvey watched his nose wrinkle as to a bad smell.

The Swap is the story of one’s man’s trade of a comic book, Superman One for a piece of tubing string in 1982. Fast forward 20 years, and the giver of the comic book, Harvey Briscow now owns his own comic book store and deeply regrets having traded Superman One. The comic book is now worth over $200,000. With the upcoming 20-year high school reunion, Harvey hopes to find the boy he traded the comic book with, and try to retrieve this valuable piece of comic-book history. What happens following the reunion is a murder mystery-love triangle-misunderstandings situation that is full of twists and turns all set in England, mostly Cornwall and London.

I would consider this work a black comedy. There are some very funny scenes, but the overall tone is dark and slightly depressing. The main character, Harvey, starts off very likable, but soon loses his appeal and comes off as lazy and rather lacking common sense. We see very little of the “odd boy” or “Bleeder” as he is rudely nicknamed all through school, even though the entire story revolves around him and the swap made with him back in 1982. To be honest, I think this novel was a little to short. There were a number of areas where I wished the author had expanded and added more detail too. I enjoyed Moore’s wit and fluid story-telling. Although the story is told mostly through Harvey’s perspective, there are instances when another character’s point of view is the main focus. I found those chapters to be a little distracting, because all my energies were focused on finding out what was going to happen to Harvey. The ending felt very rushed, considering what the entire novel was leading up to. Although not the most memorable novel I’ve read this year, I wouldn’t object to reading another Moore novel in the future.

FINAL GRADE: B

The Swap
by Antony Moore
Bantam Dell, 2008
ISBN 0385342346
262 pages

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Find this book at your local library

Buy this book from Better World Books

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Weekly Geek # 17 – Quote 3

“Librarian is a service occupation. Gas station attendant of the mind. ” – Richard Powers (In The Gold Bug Variations p.35, 1991.)