Monthly Archives: June 2011

The Book of Tomorrow (by Cecila Ahern) – Review

The Book of Tomorrow by Cecila Ahern
Age:Teen – Adult
Genre: fiction / magical realism
Format: Audio CD – Read by Ali Coffey
Harper Collins, 2011
ISBN 31197103871106
7 discs (8 hr., 25 min.)

Tamara Goodwin enjoyed living in the lap of luxury until the abrupt suicide of her father. Having lost her friends, house and all her possessions, Tamara and her mom go to live in the country with her aunt Rosalind and Uncle Arthur. One day, when looking through books in the traveling library, Tamara comes across a locked book with no author and no title. Once she manages to break the lock, she finds that the book is actually a diary, written in her hand for the very next day. Using this book that foretells the future as a guide, Tamara somehow pieces together a story bigger than herself, in an attempt to help snap her mother out of her catatonic state.

The book of tomorrow : a novelCecila Ahern is one of my favorite authors. I loved PS I Love You and No Place Like Here. Her works of magical realism are some of my favorites in the market. This book was no exception. I found myself really enjoying it, and listening to the story unravel. I would listen to the CDs in my car during my commute to and from work. Some nights its was hard to leave my car because I would stay until the disc ended just to hear what happened next.

Tamara’s character was incredibly annoying. rude and selfish at first, seriously, who screams in someone’s ear? Her character did grow on me towards the end. With The Book of Tomorrow, Cecilia Ahern did an amazing job of keeping the reader/listener in suspense as Tamara fumbled her way through the story trying to figure out the following:

  1. what was wrong with her mom
  2. how to cope with the loss of her dad
  3. the loss of her former life
  4. how to grow into a different, nicer person
  5.  and most importantly, to figure out just why Rosalind acted so strange and sketchy around her mother.

I found Rosalind’s character to be really fascinating and complex. Although, a bit of her appeal wore off once I found out her back-story. There were some interesting plot twists that I did not expect and some that I did expect, but still enjoyed nonetheless. There characters were well developed and I loved the country-side setting for the plot. Such a serene backdrop for such a tumultuous and two-faced events.

I think this book is aimed more towards the older teens that for adults. Although there is some foul language and talk of sex, there isn’t anything graphic in the text in that regards. I think older teens will sympathize with Tamara in many ways. For not being understood, for acting out and not knowing why, for wanting attention, for wanting love, for trying to solve a mystery on her own with no one believing her story.  

The narrator: 

Ali Coffey is a wonderful narrator. Her young voice is full of the animation, frustration and insensitivity that one would expect from a 16 year old rich girl. She really brought the character of Tamara to life and I think that gave the character more depth that she would have had in written form.

Find this book at your local library

Silicon Valley Author’s Panel – San Jose

Over the weekend, Saturday June 24th, I attended the very first Silicon Valley Author’s Panel, held by Barnes & Nobel in San Jose, Ca. This was a fantastic event and I hope there are more to follow. There is something of a drought of literary events in the South Bay, probably because of the drought of Independent Bookstores. I hope that this is not just a summer-time event, but something leading towards more author talks/visits and events. Usually most of the author visits in the South Bay are held at public libraries.

The Silicon Valley Author’s Panel was put together by author June Chen. She was also 1 of the 8 authors on the panel. Each author spoke for about 5-7 minutes about their book and the writing process and reason for writing that book. Then there was a Q&A session with the audience, followed by a raffle. Some of the prizes were books donated by a couple of the authors, other prizes included Barnes and Nobel gift cards ranging from $5-$20 dollars. I, sadly, won nothing, although I am now happily aware of a new batch of authors and books.

The Q&A session wasn’t really anything special. Many people (those that asked questions at least) seemed to be aspiring authors and had many questions regarding the publishing industry:  e-books, how to find an agent, etc. Almost all of the questions were general and directed towards all the authors. I think my favorite questions asked was “What is an e-book?”

In case any of the authors happen to come across this blog, thank you for participating in the author’s panel. I learned a lot, and now have more books to add to my To-Read list. =p

The Authors.

Greg Archer   
Book Title: Shut Up Skinny Bitches
Content: Body image issues, health, eating habits, eating disorders
*Betty Auchard          
Book Title: The Home for the Friendless
Content: Memoir, growing up in Iowa and Colorado during the Great Depression.
Robert Balmanno
Book Title: Runes of Iona & September Snow
Content: Dystopia, What happens to the Earth in 50-100 years in the future.
June Chen
Book Title: Seeing the Light
Content: The story of a selfish & self-centered girl as she ages and learns about the meaning of life through her mentor, Ralph Waldo Emerson.
*Martha Engber  
Book Title: Growing Great Characters From the Ground Up
Content: Writing how-to.
Timothy Fitzgerald
Book Title: Wawona Brotherhood
Content: Book 1 of a 3 part memoir series about growing in San Jose. The books also cover a lot of the history and events that took place in San Jose and on the SJSU campus.
*Audry Lynch
Book Title: Steinbeck Remembered
Content: 1 of 4 books written about author John Steinbeck. In this book, Lynch interviewed over 20 people that once knew John Steinbeck.
John K. Waters
Book Title: The Everyhing Guide to Social Media
Content: A guide towards understanding and using social media online.

Top 10 Myths About Introverts Debunked

Bookworms are often given the reputation as introverts. Well, we are to some extent, although the term “introvert” usually has the connotation of a loner, recluse, and weirdo. That’s not the case and I and many other avid readers are neither loners or recluses. Weirdo we judge on a case by case basis.

via CarlKingCreative

Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.

Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.

Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.
Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.

Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.
On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.

Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.
Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.

Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone.
Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with ONE PERSON at a time.

Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.
Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy.

Myth #8 – Introverts are aloof nerds.
Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them.

Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun.
Introverts typically relax at home or in nature, not in busy public places. Introverts are not thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. If there is too much talking and noise going on, they shut down. Their brains are too sensitive to the neurotransmitter called Dopamine. Introverts and Extroverts have different dominant neuro-pathways. Just look it up.

Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.
A world without Introverts would be a world with few scientists, musicians, artists, poets, filmmakers, doctors, mathematicians, writers, and philosophers. That being said, there are still plenty of techniques an Extrovert can learn in order to interact with Introverts. (Yes, I reversed these two terms on purpose to show you how biased our society is.) Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of Introverts increases with IQ.

Blog Rennovations

Some of you may have noticed that my blog has been going through some growing pains in the past couple of weeks. I feel as though it is getting very cluttered between my library/career posts and general booknerd posts and reviews. I hope to keep The Novel World as primarily a space for reviews that fall into the age group of 12 and up, basically tweens to grandparents.

As a result, I’m in the process of transferring all posts & pages related to children’s books and storytimes to another site:

This site will house reviews on picture books, non-fiction, storytime activities, toys, movies and anything else related to those categories.

Gilmore Girls and the Politics of Identity – Review

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Gilmore Girls and the Politics of Identity edited by Ritch Calvin
Age: Adult
Genre: Non-fiction/Essays
McFarland, 2008
ISBN 9780786437276
221 pages

Back cover synopsis:

This work examines Gilmore Girls from a post-feminist perspective, evaluating how the show’s main female characters and supporting cast fit inot the classic portrayal of feminine identity on popular television.

As an avid Gilmore Girls fan, I recently splurged and bought all 7 seasons of the show because of the massive sale on Amazon. As it is I watch the show on a regular basi on the, but I love the special features, behind the scenes and the little booklets that come with DVD set acting as an encyclopedia for all the political, musical, pop culture and literary references distributed through the fast-paced dialogue.

This book I found particularly interesting because of the post-feminist slant and the thorough examination of the characters and plotlines. Topics ranged the Utopia that is Stars Hollow, to the faux-feminism represented by Rory Gilmore’s relationships, the mother-daughter relationships, the role of food, the role of music and the theme of single motherhood as portrayed on TV.

Gilmore girls and the politics of identity : essays on family and feminism in the television seriesEach essay was well researched (although a few could have used extra editing as some sentences did not make much sense.) Since I have been voraciously watching the show, I recognized every single episode and scene referenced throughout the book, although at times the facts as written in the essay were different than what I had witnessed on the show. Although the book was engaging, having read it all once made the essays repetitive. Most of the essayist used the same scenes and the same quotes in their examples. There wasn’t much variation in theme or points of view. It is pretty unanimous that Lorelei is the masculine, feminist who scares away the men in her life and paved the way for overly feminine Rory to demur from responsibility and instead hide behind the men in her life.

Having read this collection, I doubt I’ll be able to watch the show with the same naive enjoyment as I have in the past. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. Amy Shermin-Palladino is an incredibly smart and creative lady. She knew exactly what she was doing by creating a TV series based on an unwed mother who had a child at the age of 16, a much underrepresented segment of American life and society.

Although there is some talk of social class and the lack of racial diversity on the show, the main focus of the essays remained on Lorelei and Rory, their relationship, their intellect and personalities. The essay that spoke to me the most was titled “Drats! Foiled Again: A Contrast in Definitions” by Anne K. Burke Erikson. Erikson’s theme of the essay was that was the show speaks as the truth is vastly different from the actions and interactions between the characters. Lorelei claims that she and Rory never fight and are the best of friends. Yet throughout the show they are constantly bickering or not speaking to each other after a spat. Also that Rory is the “good girl” even though she is willing to drop Chilton because of Dean, she drops out of Yale, she steals a boat, she flirts with Jess while still in a relationship with Dean, etc. Rory is by no means an angel, but in comparison to her peers, she stands out as exceptional. In comparison to the other characters and other relationships on the show, Lorelei and Rory are isolated on a Utopian island of filial perfection.

Although there was an essay for Paris, for Lane and for Sookie, I still felt as if these characters were not well discussed throughout the course of the essays except to point out the perfection found in Lorelei and Rory. Very little is said of Lorelei’s relationship with Jason (Digger) and it seems as if every essayist was rooting for the Rory and Jess relationship.

When read in portions, this collection of essays is insightful, introspective and offers Gilmore Girl fans another way to attach themselves to the show and become better acquainted with the two quick-witted women that have been the foundation of a TV series that is still garnering fans and popularity no less than 5 years after the series finale.

Book 28 of 2011


Find this book at your local library

C’est la vie! 2011 Santa Barbara French Festival is Cancelled

The French Festival is no more! I’m so bummed about this. I was really looking forward to going this year. In fact, I managed to get my husband, his parents, his brother’s family along with my mom to agree to go with me to see the mini Eiffel Tower, the Poodle Parade and eat all the pastries and macaroons we could find.

Today I find out that the Festival is cancelled for this year and perhaps forever. This is a major setback/buzzkill for my Paris in July celebration plans. Back to the book and movies for me.

Portland’s Street Librarian

Only Portland.

Laura Moulton recently received a RACC grant which will fund a project to bring books to the homeless on the streets of Portland, called Street Books. This mobile library is not your typical bookmobile. It is a bike powered cart with about 40 books. She uses a card catalog to keep track of the books and has no expectations of when the books will be due. Only 6 of the 25 currently lent out have been returned. This is awesome in so many ways, I don’t even know where to begin. I’m really excited that this project has been started, especially for a segment of community that doesn’t always get the help and resources necessary.

To support the project, there’s a PayPal account accessible through the Street Books website, where you can sponsor individual books that’ve been requested.

Read the full article here.

Noteworthy Links #20

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Noteworthy Links

My list has an Australian slant, and leans toward:

  • equity of access to information and library resources
  • the impact on libraries of shared data on the internet
  • how library users find research information
  • format changes – the rise of online video, ebooks, transliteracy and DRM
  • how librarians and libraries are preparing for the future
  • Talk about recycling. A former jail has been renovated and is now a public library. (via Morgan County Citizen)
  • Use Salem Press for all your librarian blogging needs and wants! Salem Press maintains one of the best blog directories for librarian blogs on a variety of topics; general, academic, public, school library, quirky, local library and commercial library blogs. They recently awarded one blog from each category with the coveted Salem Press 2011 Blog Award. Check out the winners and make sure to devote at least an hour to exploring all the blogs listed on the website. (via Salem Press)
General Library Blog:  Librarian in Black
Public Library Blog: Swiss Army Librarian
Academic Library Blog: Information Tyrannosaur
School Library Blog:  The Unquiet Librarian
Local Library Blog:  Cecil County Public Library
Quirky Library Blog: A Librarian’s Guide to Etiquette
Newcomer Library Blog:  Hack Library School
Commercial Library Blog:  Neverending Search

Kabul Beauty School – Review

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Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez
Age: Adult
Genre: Memoir
Location: Afghanistan
Random House, 2007
ISBN 9780812976731
283 pages

With nothing more to offer than a desire to help a country of oppressed women and a degree in cosmetology, Deborah Rodriguez divides her time between Michigan and Kabul where she works as a teacher for the Kabul Beauty School. The school offers a resource and opportunity for the women of Afghanistan in a time following the ousting of the Taliban.

This book was both fascinating and annoying. Fascinating because I love reading about Middle Eastern culture, and I dearly loved The Bookseller of Kabul for its intimiate and thoughtful portrayal of life in Afghanistan for both men and women. This book, I felt, was lacking in those key elements. Rodriguez’s level of cultural insensitivity was frustrating throughout the entire book, as was her lack of concern for her missteps. For instance, she discussed men’s hairstyles in Kabul and how one barber dared to rebel against the regime by giving the men haircuts of long lengths. These men would hide their hair under caps so the police would not find out. Once it was uncovered that the barber had been breaking the law by giving men these haircuts, he was promptly sent to jail. Instead of discussing the horrors of a Middle Eastern jail and the injustice of being thrown in jail for such a seemingly trivial offense, Rodriguez ended the story with a quip “He was a true prisoner of fashion!” It left a very sour taste in my mouth at her brush-off of this event, and I have to admit, it left me biased and critical towards the rest of her stories. The writing style was overly floral and I feel highly embellished. The author’s ability to invoke little white lies to family about her life in Kabul had me questioning the validity of many of the episodes in the book. Overall, the book felt like a giant pat-on-the-back for the author for her ability to remain the stereotype of the “rude American” in a country and city that prides itself on its manners and sense of pride.

While I enjoyed reading about the women in Afghanistan, the focus of the book never went farther than the doors of the beauty school. I’m hesitant to call this a memoir because of the narrow scope of focus. The chapters and storyline were choppy with no real focus or linear path. It can probably be considered a travel memoir, or a series of travel reminiscences. I stopped reading about 20 pages before the end of the book because the stories felt more like gossip than introspection about the struggles of Afghani women. Although I’m sure the author meant well, and her role in the beauty school significantly changed the lives of dozens of Afghani women, the overall feel of this book was disappointing and unfocused.

Book 27 of 2011
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Kabul Beauty School : an American woman goes behind the veil


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In addition to LibraryThing and Goodreads, BookLikes is another bookish website helping readers keep track of their collections on bookshelves, books to read and books liked and disliked along the way.

What makes this site so different from the other two already established and favorite options? BookLikes offers immediate recommendations based on books you “like.” For example, I liked Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, and immediately two of her older books popped up in the recommendations box. The site is still in Beta form, so it has its flukes. I liked Petite Anglais by Catherine Sanderson and had the following books pop up on the recommendations shelf: Blog Marketing, RSS & Atom, Realty Blogging. I think the more authors liked the better the recommendations will be. At the moment, my recommendations are all technical blogging books, which are pretty wonky and not books I am looking for right now. You do have the option of hiding a recommendation, but another one will just pop up in its place. You can browse books by category or see the top recommendations from current users.

I didn’t see any space to join a community or chat in a forum, but you do have the option of starting a discussion thread, allowing other users to respond to a thought or question.

I see this primarily as a useful marketing tool for bloggers to link back to their reviews. Otherwise, I think non-bloggers would do better with LibraryThing and Goodreads. Librarians will be able to use this tool for more general readers advisory and booklist creations for various age groups and genres.