Monday, August 30, 2010

*Maria Palito*

I've decided to highlight one cool blog or website a week. Last week's was Culinary Concoctions by Peabody, one of my favorite food blogs. I'm starting with a friend's blog/web store, Maria Palito. I met my friend Maria Jose through one of the volunteering programs I do at my local public library. She makes beautiful eco-friendly jewelry and adorable felt animals, cards, and door hangers. I own one of her Tagua seed and wooden bead necklace and earrings sets, in red and black, which I totally love. Tagua seed is a fruit seed that grows mainly on the tropical rain forest of South America. I gave a friend of mine one of her super cute stuffed felt duckies and she absolutely loved it. So here's her blog/website and enjoy:

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Victorian-Edwardian periods

I have always been fascinated by Queen Victoria, probably because we share the same name (my first middle name is Victoria) and I've always thought I was named after her. This summer I have been absorbed in books and movies about the Victorian and Edwardian periods. I started back in April watching the 1976 BBC series The Duchess of Duke Street, starring Gemma Jones, about a famous female chef named Louisa Trotter and her adventures in Victorian and turn of the 20th century London. Her character is based off a real life person named Rosa Lewis and her association with famous personalities of the day including Bertie the Prince of Wales, Kaiser Wilhelm II, and many others. I read most of the biography of Rosa Lewis: the Exceptional Edwardian by Anthony Masters, and enjoyed it though it got pretty dry particularly at the end.

Next, I tried to read Lynn Vallone's Becoming Victoria, about the childhood and education of Queen Victoria, as seen through her own journals/letters/stories and literature of the day. It was a very interesting concept, however, I didn't get very far as it was rather dry, almost like a cross between someone's thesis and a regular work of nonfiction. Despite this, I would like to attempt to read it again later when I have more time and focus. I was also finally able to watch the new movie The Young Victoria starring Emily Blunt as Victoria and Rupert Friend as Albert. This version of their story is unique because it gives you a different view than what we normally see of the queen. The movie starts out before Victoria is crowned, when her mother and her mother's advisor Conroy, are still trying to control her. Victoria does not want to be married because she doesn't want to be controlled anymore, so at first she objects to Albert's pursuance of her, which is partly his own and partly prodded on by King Leopold of Belgium. Albert tells her his true feelings and they become friends, and he is allowed to write to her after he returns to Germany. Eventually Victoria's uncle William dies and she becomes the Queen and is controlled semi-willingly by the Prime Minister Lord Melbourne. Eventually after a couple changes in government, she invites Albert back to England and asks him to marry her (he is not allowed to ask her because she is the wealthier party). Once they are married however, tensions come out as Victoria wants Albert to be "an obedient friend and lover and not a controlling husband (taken from," however he wants to be part of the political decisions, something which Victoria refuses to allow him to do. So he starts by helping her with little things, like re-organizing the household staff to make it more efficient, and proves his worth even more so when he jumps in front of a would-be assassin to save her life. She is devastated at the thought of losing him, realizing that she was being selfish and rectifies things by putting their desks together and promising to work together forever. I thought Emily Blunt did a very good job as a young vulnerable but headstrong Victoria and Rupert Friend was excellent as a young good-looking frustrated Albert who is used to being controlled all his life as well and finally finds a good match with Victoria.

The Duchess of Duke Street led me to watch another BBC miniseries called Lillie, about the famous beauty Lillie Langtry. That particular series was starring the gorgeous and super-talented Francesca Annis and she does a fabulous job illustrating her life and most famously her association with Bertie Prince of Wales. As you can see there is a bit of a theme here with the Prince, so I decided I should read a biography of him next. I read John Pearson's biography Edward the Rake: An Unwholesome Biography of Edward VII, which I reviewed on Aug 19. Following this, I decided to get a better view of Edward and watched another BBC miniseries Edward the King, with the wonderful acting of Robert Hardy as Prince Albert (Bertie's father) and Timothy West as Edward aka Bertie. It was a very well done series and explains a lot about life with Victoria and Albert (she seems like a very hard person to get along with), their insanely idealized expectations of Bertie and the monarch he was to become despite his short reign of only about 10 years. I do find it interesting that Timothy West, his father Lockwood West and his son Samuel West have all played King Edward the Seventh at one point in their careers.

While watching Lillie and Edward the King, I discovered some very interesting personalities of the day. In Lillie, it was William Gladstone who was four times Queen Victoria's prime minister and a friend of both Lillie and the Prince of Wales. The one thing he did that I found intriguing was his habit of picking up prostitutes, which he did so he could save them from their lives and turn them onto the path of good. It was just funny how he literally went out at night by himself, while he was in office as Prime Minister, and picked up the ladies of the night and brought them home to his wife. In Edward the King, I found Princess Alexandra of Denmark (Alix to her friends and family) the later Queen Consort to Edward VII a fascinating woman because of what she put up with. I mean Victoria could not have been an easy mother-in-law to have and yet Alix got along well with her. Not only that, but with Bertie shagging everything in a skirt, it would be enough to drive any woman insane. But she seemed to really love him and stayed with him till the end. I found this article online about Alix that I wanted to share for those who want more information. Also I am fascinated by Alix's sister Dagmar (aka Minnie) who I had never heard of before. She was married to Alexander III (aka Sasha) the Tsar of Russia and had her name changed to Maria Feodorovna. She was the mother of my favorite and the last Tsar, Nicholas II. I would love to read a biography of her sometime. Here is some more information about Dagmar. Also I became interested in the two-time prime minister Benjamin Disraeli, as he was such a fascinating character. I will also have to read a biography of this great man and/or check out the BBC miniseries.

Liverpool games and other British stuff

I am very happy today because Liverpool finally won a EPL game! Granted it was a 1-0 victory over West Brom, but I'll take it. Especially after they got slaughtered last week by Man City 3-0, which was really horrifying to watch. For some reason we keep winning the European cup games, which don't count towards our league totals, but this was the first this season. So we will finally move from 18th out of 20 to 13th. The last time they won the League Championship it was 1989-90 season, so they are well overdue for a win.

In other happy news, I'm finally getting a Liverpool t-shirt! My hubby John is getting himself the new 2010-2011 team jersey. They should come in this week. I wanted to get the goalie jersey with Reina's name on the back, but it only came in long sleeves and it was like $80 with customization.  So will wait on that one. Also, I have been craving British chocolate for weeks now and last week I finally got myself a Galaxy bar. For those who have not eaten one, it is seriously the best most creamy chocolate bar ever. The Galaxy Caramel is amazing too. Besides, how can you not love a chocolate bar that encourages you to curl up with a good book? I also got a Fry's Peppermint Creme Chocolate bar, also yummy.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Health Problems and School

I want to be on this blog more this week, but I just started back school and it's keeping me supremely busy. I'm taking the three classes including the internship, which has just decided to become a whole lot more work, so I have to be really good about balancing my time (haven't mastered that yet). Add on the fact that yesterday I officially discovered that I have Carpel Tunnel Syndrome in my hand and arms and things get really fun. I've noticed the pain for over a month. I'd had it on and off, like every six months or so previously. It came once for a very long time on July 17th when I was at the Charleston-Bolton game, though I couldn't figure out why, only that it kept me up all night and only heat seemed to make the pain go away for a bit. It started coming about twice a week after that and then last night, I had it all night again. As I am typing my left hand is starting to hurt again. I went to the student clinic last night to check out the problem and that's what the doctor diagnosed and then she got me to do three blood tests (including one for Rheumatoid Arthritis, which I am really scared of getting as it runs in the family). This involved taking two vials of blood from the top of my right hand, and they had to take it this way becauseI have tiny veins which they can never find at my elbow joint. Using a needle on the top of my hand hurt a lot and I nearly passed out twice. So I have to go back in a week and then again in two weeks. Fun, fun all the way around. And I have to start wearing an arm brace on my right hand all day, which takes getting used to, as I am right-handed and it pretty much puts me out of commission.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Great Article from NPR on libraries

I found this great article from NPR. This was another Facebook post, but unlike most of them, it is actually noteworthy. The article was talking about how libraries are the next big thing in pop culture because they "get in fights, know stuff, are green and local, give you things for free, are open to the public, and so many people support them." It has some brilliant parodies involving libraries and Old Spices, as well as librarians & NPR staffers doing Lady Gaga. I also enjoyed Vanity Fair's response to a local news story about the relevance of libraries (stick it to them VF!).

Sunday, August 22, 2010

One of my favorite food blogs

I, as you might have noticed from my blog list, like quite a few food blogs. One of my favorites is Culinary Concoctions by Peabody because she has the most decadent looking desserts and as she says in this CNN article, "I will admit that my baked goods are usually a little over the top and can cause your thighs to expand just from looking at the photos, but if you eat healthy the rest of the time, it all balances out in the end." That being said, how can you avoid drooling over things like Friday's offering (Tira-Me So Hot to Bake Sundaes), or the Bananas Foster Sticky Buns, Soft Pretzel Salted Caramel Bread Pudding or even Because I Can Cadbury Creme Eggs Cupcakes.

She not only has gorgeous tasting and looking food on her blog, but also funny stories to go along with them, which makes them a joy to read. One of my favorite posts of hers was from when she was baking the Double Stuff Oreo-Chocolate Chip Shortbread and writes about her brother and her dad's least favorite phrase. I've only tried one of the recipes she posted, the WW Peanut Butter Cookies due to the fact that I've had no time to bake them, but maybe with my current unemployment, I could try my hand at a few. Maybe I could do one of the less complicated recipes like the Bananas Foster Bread Pudding with Sauce, Roasted Onion and Gorgonzola Soup, Bacon & Two Cheese Quiche, or the Dulce de Leche-Cashew Thumbprint Cookies. In any case, they all sound good.

The Adventures of Thor the Thunder God

Yay!! I finally got my new book The Adventures of Thor the Thunder God in the mail yesterday. I had randomly found it this summer while working at my internship and had fallen in love with the the funny stories and fantastic illustrations. It would be great to use for a storytime for older kids because of the illustrations. Here is the description of the book from the author (Lise Lunge-Larsen's )website. Lise also has quotes on the importance of folk tales on her website, which I also enjoyed.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Youth Services Librarians and Budget Cuts

I thought this was appropriate as all the libraries I know are having budget cuts. This strip, completed this Thursday, is from my favorite online web comic Unshelved. This week's strips were about budget cuts and this particular one was about the children's librarian Tamara who cracks me up, especially when she pits her extremely cheerful self against Dewey, the super-cynical teen librarian. In this comic, she is justifying herself to the manager Mel so she can keep her job.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

August 19: Book Reviews and Recommendations

This will probably be my last big group of book reviews for awhile as I've just started school again and have a ton of required reading to do. However, I have been enjoying my last few weeks of freedom and reading up a storm. Most of the books are YA, but there are a couple adult books thrown in for good measure. I can't wait to read Eric Shanower's graphic novel version of The Wizard of Oz and his own Oz books, and Yellow Tanabe's Kekkaishi Volume 10-20!

Eoin Colfer
Artemis Fowl #7: The Atlantis Complex (*Spoilers*) - I thought the 6th book was better.
Overall, I really liked this book, especially as I have waiting for a month for it to come out so I can continue the series. The only annoying this is now I have to wait forever for the next one to come out, just as the story was getting interesting. Basically, due to Artemis's scheming and evil planning suddenly turning into good intentions, he has developed what the fairies call "Atlantis Complex" which involves an obsession with numbers, paranoia and multiple personalities. I thought the multiple personalities bit a bit boring, though amusing that his alter-ego was love-struck knight in shining armor character and totally useless when it comes to strategy and planning. I loved the whole underwater exploring part of the book and yay for the giant squid! I thought the bad guy's plans where better than usual, aka mesmerizing a whole arena full of luchadore fans to kill Butler and Juliet and gel robots created by the LEP and sabotaged by the villain to do his bidding. The interspecies romance kind of killed the ending for me; I would've thought it would be more spectacular.

Derek Kirk Kim
Good as Lily:
I really enjoyed this short graphic novel from Derek Kirk Kim. I picked up this volume after reading his collaboration with another of my favorite graphic novel writers/illustrators, Gene Luen Yang. The whole idea of this comic is brilliant, and that goes the same for the artwork. Grace is a Korean girl who has just turned 18. After celebrating with her friends at a local park, she goes back home and then remembers she left one of the presents back at the park. While there, she runs into herself at age 6, 29 and 70. How did this happen and why are they all here at the same time? I like that the different ages were like different aspects of her personality and she discovers so much out about herself and how to change.

Yellow Tanabe
Kekkaishi Volume 1 (I have currently read through Volume 9; Below is the series premise)
Cute manga series about a young boy who is to be a great demon-fighter only he doesn't really want to be. He fights with his family's arch-rival, the beautiful Tokine who is a much better fighter than him and frequently kicks his butt. However, he's forever in love with her and fighting to protect her. Yoshimori's real passion is making cake sculptures and other sweets, which of course his grandfather and elder Kekkaishi abhors as it has nothing to do with fighting.

Eric Shanower
Adventures in Oz:
I am a huge Oz fan and always have been. I know Mr. Shanower's work from when he illustrated Edward Einhorn's Oz book Paradox in Oz and he had signed my book. So I was very excited to discover this graphic novel version of his Oz stories. I absolutely love the artwork! It's like all the Oz books I've ever read over the years come to life, like Tik Tok the mechanical man, Professor Wobblebug and the only soldier in Oz. That alone would give it five stars, however, the five stories inside the volume were not that good. What was up with the flying swordfish in the first story? Not to mention all the trolls, dragons and wood nymphs in the Forgotten Forest of Oz story. I did like the Ice King of Oz as that seemed like a true Ozian story. Therefore I gave it 4 instead of 5 stars.

Shannon Hale
Enna Burning:
This book started off so interesting, picking up where Goose Girl left off. Bayern is at war with the neighboring country Tira, and suddenly everything that Enna knows is changing. The boys she grew up with Razo, Finn and her brother Leifer, are all going off to fight with the army. She goes to help too, but goes with her friend the Princess Isi. Enna discovers how to produce fire and use it on things. Will she use it for good or for total destruction of herself and others around her?
I thought the book really dragged in the middle, especially after Enna was captured. So much so that I wasn't sure I wanted to continue it. Thankfully, after the war ended the story got much more intriguing and I was just hoping throughout the book that she would finally realize what a good guy she had in Finn.

River Secrets:
Like Enna Burning, the book was really slow in the middle, but really picked up in the end. I liked the ending, though I hoped she would've expanded on the romances a bit more. The story picks up where the last book left off, and Bayern and Tira have decided to trade ambassadors and their parties in an attempt at peace. Razo is picked to go with Talone, Enna, Finn and a group of soldiers from Bayern's Own, and nobody including him, knows why Talone has done this. When the first arrive there, there are tensions in the city because of the preceeding war and they are kept separate at the palace. Then the burned bodies begin showing up. Who is doing that to them and why? Could it be Enna, the mysterious Lady Dasha, Tomas the man who started a fight with Razo on the way to Ingraden (the Tiran capital), or someone else? It's up to Razo to find out.

Forest Born: (*Spoilers in second paragraph*)
Again, like the other books of the series this book dragged in the middle. However, it was an enjoyable book with several big plot twists that I was not expecting. Forest Born is the story of Rin, little sister of Razo who was the main character in the last book, River Secrets. She has tree-speaking and as she discovers as the book progresses, also has people speaking. A town in eastern Bayern is burned, the captain of the guards is killed and the king is injured. The queen, Isi, and her friends Enna and Dasha go to investigate and are joined by Rin who is watching the queen's son Tusken. Isi goes to investigate what is going on and infiltrates Kel, the neighboring country, taking "the fire sisters" and Rin with her. A group of fire-speakers are being led by the mysterious Queen of Kels, but who is she and what does she want with Isi and the other girls?

Ok I was genuinely horrified to see Selia come back into the storyline, as I thought she was dead after she named her own punishment in Goose Girl (the first Bayern book). And then when she was bluffing and said she had kidnapped Tusken and killed Razo, I was shocked again and sad because I had really grown to love Razo's character after the 2nd and 3rd books. I was as relieved as Isi when she found her son and Razo safe and sound. I thought it was interesting how Rin was so afraid of becoming evil like Selia due to her people speaking skills, even though they weren't as well-developed as Selia's. I did like how Rin used her abilities to make herself more calm through tree-speaking and then using people-speaking to give Isi the confidence she needed to defeat their enemies. I also found it most gratifying that she got to punch Selia in the face, as I myself wanted to do that while reading the book. I'm glad that Finn and Enna finally got married. I'm curious to see if the author extends the series further as I would like to see more adventures with the fire sisters, Rin, Razo and Finn.

John Pearson (Adult)
Edward the Rake: An Unwholesome Biography of Edward VII
I've been wanting to read this ever since I watched the BBC miniseries "The Duchess of Duke Street" about a famous female chef who was a mistress of Edward's and "Lillie" about Lillie Langtry, who was one of his most famous and longest-lasting mistresses. Because of these two series, I have been completely fascinated with the Edwardian period with its flamboyant lifestyle, sumptuously long 14+ course dinners and obsession with champagne, as well of the life of the monarch Edward VII. This book put into perspective his life and how he became the way he did. With the extremely strict moral upbringing pushed upon him by his mother Victoria and father Albert (who were apparently just reacting to the debauchery of their families), the way his mother never really allowed him any royal responsibilities because she didn't find him worthy (even though he was the heir to the throne),and the way he was never allowed friends, it is almost no wonder that he turned out like he did. It's only really impressive that his "rakishness" lasted over 40 years instead of losing interest in it after about 10 years or so. I would be curious to know if there was an actual number of women he seduced/slept with, which I think would be somewhere on par with the likes of Gene Simmons, of Kiss fame.

Jennifer Matesa (Adult)
Navel-Gazing: The Days and Nights of a Mother in the Making
A frank honest view of a woman's pregnancy and birth of her first child, as documented by the author's journaling and the pictures taken of her by the book's photographer through the stages of the author's pregnancy. I liked the author because I could relate, as she had an English husband and frequently had migraines. Plus she was smart and the book was easy to read and didn't glaze over the uncomfortable parts of pregnancy/childbirth that a lot of books leave out.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Learning new things

So yesterday was my last day at work at the Archive, due to budget cuts in the state and the funds being appropriated elsewhere. Boo :( So I am currently unemployed and looking for work pretty much wherever I can find it. Today I started volunteering in a new area at my local public library where I have been volunteering on and off since Sept 2008, this time working in Technical Services (aka Cataloging). I have basically no experience in this area, but I figure anything I can learn will be useful as I may end up in a small branch library where I have to do a little bit everything. I have taken Information Organization & Retrieval (SLIS 707), which I took this past spring semester, which was basic Cataloging and included a lot of the terms the Cataloger was using today, so I didn't feel totally clueless. I'm doing pretty easy work once she explained it, which includes making sure the the RFID tags (basically insanely small computer chips they put onto library items for tracking purposes) match up with the barcode on item and then putting them into the correct boxes for delivery to the branches. The other thing I did was going through a list of withdrawn books and deleting OCLC records so that people don't request a copy of a book/media item that doesn't exist in the library. So now I'm signed up to do this once a week for 2 hours.

The other thing I did today was look up my classes to see if they had posted the syllabi. This semester I'm taking a Intro to Reference and a Intro to Research class, as well as finishing up my internship. I know it doesn't seem like much, but trust me, just from looking my syllabi I will be plenty busy. My reference class actually says this on the syllabus and it is underlined as well as in bold: "Please keep in mind that any reference course demands a serious commitment of your time." So it's a good thing that I enjoy visiting the library because I will be spending a enormous amount of time there this semester, probably more than the whole rest of school. I'm not 100% sure what my other class is about yet or how to approach it, so hopefully I can figure out more once I get the textbook and view the opening video. The most lovely (NOT) thing is that I have a group project due on Sept 14, the weekend after my friend's wedding which is course out of town and I will be gone for 4 days. Bah humbug! I'm gonna have to figure out real quick who is in my group so we can get this project finished ASAP!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Opening Game of the Season!

Sunday was Liverpool's first game of the season and as my husband said "It's feels like Christmas because you get a new season to open and enjoy!" They were playing Arsenal and it was a good game to watch, especially since we were in the Cock & Bull Pub for the first time since April, and surrounded by a roomful of fellow fans. We were at their new location and the owner Rod was showing us around and telling us all about how he plans to improve it and the new menu, which will feature a lot of curry and Shephard's Pie! Hurray!

Anyways, one of our new players Joe Cole, got thrown out in the first half for a totally crap call. The other team had been pulling similar moves before that and they didn't get thrown out. So we were down to 10 men, and yet we still scored! Unfortunately they did too, by an accident with our goalie Reina. That's okay Reina, as I pointed out to my hubby, without you last season would've totally blown as you saved our butts so many times. And he is why whenever I get a Liverpool shirt, I want one with Reina on the back (bonus that he's a cutie!).

The photo below is from last year I believe but I love it because it shows my second favorite player Fernando Torres (also from Spain like Reina and played on the Spanish National Team during the World Cup) and his daughter.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

New possibilities

I've been feeling rather down lately, due to money troubles, my job soon to be ending on the 16th, and being unable to find work. This has made me really stressed out and I've been feeling it physically, i.e. feeling exhausted and achy all over, especially in my shoulders and back. Thankfully this has changed in the last few days. I've been feeling a bit better, though still tired. My financial aid check has finally come in so we can afford to do things again and the bank won't charge us any money for being underbalanced. Also, I just got a call two days ago about a library job phone interview!! I am very excited and have already started researching the area in the hope that I do get the job.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Essay in the NY Times about YA literature

I really enjoyed reading this article. I, myself, love YA books and they're usually the ones I turn to first when I want something new and interesting to read. It is how I discovered and fell in love with Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy, Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl series, and Suzanne Collin's the Underland Chronicles. I read Suzanne Collin's first book Gregor the Overlander for a series book project my children's literature class. I was trying to think outside of the traditional box for series and read some newer more interesting books. Gregor was definitely the gem in that group, and I devoured the other books in the series and then moved on to The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. Now I can't wait for Mockingjay to come out, as the article says, like so many other teens and adults. In fact, I've started several YA series this summer and have been waiting for the library to process the books. These include Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex (#7 in the series); Linger, which is the second book of Maggie Stiefvater's Wolves of Mercy Falls series and follows the brilliant book Shiver; as well as Rick Riordan's new series The Red Pyramid, which I hope is as good as Percy Jackson and the Olympians.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Shannon Hale, Jeanne Du Prau, Mary Hoffman, and Eoin Colfer

Recently I've managed to find a string of really well done children and teen books. I decided to go and get some books I've been meaning to read for awhile but haven't had the opportunity to read and ended up with these three authors. Hale, Hoffman, and Colfer: I'm in love with their writing, and Du Prau's first novel I liked, though the jury is still out on the second. So here's the list, along with some reviews from me and descriptions from the authors.

Shannon Hale
Rapunzel's Revenge
Calamity Jack
The Goose Girl:
I'm sure that I have at some point read the story of The Goose Girl, as I am a huge Grimm Brother's and fairy tale fan, but I didn't remember it. I had loved Shannon Hale's books "Rapunzel's Revenge" and "Calamity Jack," and so figured I should give this book a try. I absolutely loved it. The story kept me enthralled from beginning to end, though I think she dragged the storyline a bit in the middle with all the "hunting the princess in the castle" part. The story is about Ani, an unsure and not confident princess who is being forced into an arranged marriage with a far-away prince she's never met. On the way there, her lady in waiting Celia plots with a mercenary and some of the palace guards to take Ani's place and be the princess. Ani escapes their clutches and eventually ends up as the far-away king's goose girl, and spends the rest of the story trying to regain her title. I liked that she could speak with the birds and the wind. The whole dead horse head on the wall was kind of creepy, but I understand the significance. I also liked how she treated young awkward boys who can't express themselves properly like Finn and Garrick (I find it endearing). I must say that I really wanted Ani to succeed and become princess again, if only to get rid of Celia and Ungalad.

I liked The Goose Girl so much, that I am planning on reading the entire series of four books. The next book in the series is Enna Burning, featuring several of the characters from the first book, followed by River Secrets, and Forest Born.

Jeanne Du Prau
The City of Ember:
The premise of the book is very interesting, even to a friend of mine who doesn't read YA books. Basically the world is ending and so a group of people call the Builders create an underground city called Ember and equip it for about 200-220 yrs, after which time they have left instructions for how to leave the city and come back to the real world. Only the instructions get lost and it's now between 220-250 yrs later. A girl named Lina finds them and tries to decipher (because her little sister chewed most of it up) what they mean with the help of a boy named Doon. The story totally drew me into it from the beginning and kept me there until I finished the book a day later.

Mary Hoffman
Another fantastic book from Mary Hoffman. I've been putting off reading this book for awhile, as I finished up Hoffman's Stravaganza series. I'm glad I finally did read it. It was a well-researched and well-done historical fiction set in 13th century southern France during the time of the Albigensian Crusade, or the Catholic Church's war against the Cathars, called the Believers in the book. They were seen as heretics by the church. The Pope authorized a crusade initially against the Cathars, but it later stretched into towns were in the way of what the Pope's army wanted, heretic or not. The heroine of the story is Elinor, a nobleman's daughter who runs away from her family, and becomes a joglar (male minstrel) after they try to force her into marrying a much older man. It is her struggling to survive around the war, and how she does this, that forms the basis of the story.

Eoin Colfer: His writing keeps getting better and better with every Artemis Fowl book I read, so I can't wait for #7!

Artemis Fowl #5: The Lost Colony

Artemis Fowl #6: The Time Paradox
Will have to rate this one as my favorite so far, even though all the time jumping was a tad confusing. In this book, Artemis must go back in time and battle his 10 yr old self in order to cure his mother from a deadly disease. The ending did leave you hanging and I am very curious to see what happens in Colfer's 7th book "The Atlantis Complex".