Friday, March 16, 2012

My blog has moved!

I have decided to move my blog to Wordpress due the nicer designs (though it is annoying that you can't adjust the font). Here is my new address: I hope my followers here will join me at the new site and continue to follow me there. Happy Friday all!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

New Place to Live and 100 Greatest Books for Kids

We had gone last weekend to look at new rental properties after our last choice, a condo in North Phoenix had fallen through, due to the size of our dog. We had looked at a small house near North Central Phoenix and thought it was cute and very convenient to work. So we put in an application for it. We got word yesterday that we got the house and so we are trying to move in this weekend! After 10 months of living with my parents, I am very ready to move out and be in my own place again, even if that means paying rent and more bills. Money will definitely be tight but I'm sure we can do it.

The other awesome and a bit random news I got this morning was from my email. As people who read regularly probably already know, I write book reviews on Goodreads as well as on this blog. I got an email from a self-published Young Adult author who has written a swashbuckling girl dealing with pirates in the 18th century book, and had read some of my reviews on Goodreads and decided that I gave my honest opinion on books. He's trying to get the word out about his book, so he asked me if I would be willing to read and review his book. I think this is so cool and plus I would get a free book! So I will definitely be doing that.

I found this list the other day while on FB and wanted to share it, since it was a great list of classic children's books. I figure I have read at least 31 of them, and probably parts of several more.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

YA Manga Book Reviews

From Jan 25-Feb 21, 2012. Total so far this year: 56

Young Adult
Library Wars: Love and War, Vol 2 by Kiiro Yumi
In this volume, Iku's roommate discovers that the temporary head director is taking books that the Board of Education has banned and hiding them away. The bad guys (the Media Betterment Committee) is sighted on library property and there is a militant library operation, led by the Task Force, to stop them. Iku gets caught in the crossfire and Dojo must again save her. Meanwhile, her co-worker Tezuka has asked her out, which she finds strange since he seemed to despise her before. A 17 yr old boy has murdered some people and the police come to the director of the Library Task Force to ask for his library records, which the director refuses to give because he believes in protecting the boy's privacy. Dojo and Iku have a talk and he tells her it is okay to be herself, something that no one has ever said to her before. Recommended for ages 14+, 5 stars.

Library Wars: Love and War, Vol 3 by Kiiro Yumi
This volume is jam-packed full of action! The PTA is holding a protest on books that should be banned after the murder that the 17 yr old committed in Vol. 2, on the lawn of the library, when two kids decide to do some protesting of their own with fireworks. The kids are quickly caught and made to apologize to the PTA, but then Major Genda gets them to make their case at a forum held by the libraries and a group called CFOC (Caring for the Future of Our Children), which are for book censorship. A friend of the Major's is an editor for a local magazine is covering the forum and trouble ensues when Iku's photo is taken. There are several more instances of Iku and Dojo embracing right as someone walks in. The Museum of Information is closing and its materials, which are on the history of the MBC (the bad guys), is being transferred to the Library, which expects the MBC to retaliate and try to steal the records. Dojo puts Iku on protection duty of the Library Director, while the rest of the team is set to protect the library. She is of course pissed off because she thinks that he doesn't think she is good enough. The library director and Iku are kidnapped by terrorists associated with the MBC. Recommended for ages 14+, 5 stars.

Library Wars: Love and War, Vol 4 by Kiiro Yumi
In this volume, Iku manages to send a message to Library headquarters in code to tell them where she and the Director are being held. So they are quickly saved. It is finally revealed (although I guessed  a few volumes ago) that Dojo is Iku's mysterious prince from a few years ago, that saved her in the bookstore and rescued her book from the MBC. It turns out he was punished severely for what he did, and when he saw her a few years later at the interview to get into training for the Task Force, she never knew that it was him. He liked her because she had passion for what she does, something he lost along the way. Dojo told her he was proud of her and what she did to save the Director. The big problem Iku has in this book is that she hasn't told her parents that she is on the Task Force, the militant wing of the library, just that she works in the library, because they wouldn't let her do what she loves to do. They are coming to visit and she has to hide the fact that she is in the Task Force. The funniest part of the whole manga was when Dojo decided to throw a party for Iku and she has alcohol for the first time and gets really drunk off two drinks, and Dojo has to take care of her again. Well that and when her other superior officer, Komaki, is eating in the booth right behind Iku and her parents and hears her talk about her prince and he can't stop laughing. Recommended for ages 14+, 5 stars.

Library Wars: Love and War, Vol 5 by Kiiro Yumi
This series is so addictive! I got really bummed when the county library didn't have the rest of the series, until I found out Phoenix Public did have it, so I reserved the rest of the series thus far. In this volume, Iku managed to fool her mother although her dad found out but didn't tell her mother or freak out about it. Iku's other instructor, Komaki, has a friend named Marie (a young deaf girl) who he gets books for. Iku can see that she's in love with him, even though Dojo thinks that's impossible since they are about 10 yrs apart. Komaki is taken by the MBC and accused of abusing Marie by giving her a book about a deaf girl, and that he was making fun of her. The MBC tortured him for three days until the Task Force found his location and broke in with Marie to explain to the MBC the real situation. Komaki confesses that he likes Marie.  
My favorite part of the manga was the 2nd bonus manga where Dojo, Komaki, Iku and Tezuka are at a party thrown by the library on protection duty and Iku damages her clothes, so the ladies at the hotel make her over and even Dojo is blown away (though he pretends like it doesn't faze him). Iku is getting hit on left and right and Dojo acts all aggressive/possessive, which is pretty funny.  Recommended for ages 14+, 4 stars.
Library Wars: Love and War, Vol 6 by Kiiro Yumi
It's Valentine's Day at the beginning of this volume, where apparently it is traditional in Japan for a girl to give chocolates to the guy she likes. Tezuka tries to ask out Shibazaki but gets turned down, but then a cute customer asks her out and she accepts. We see a side of her that she doesn't normally show to others, the act she puts on to survive, and how she really trusts Kasahara as a friend. Meanwhile the Weekly World News magazine has printed an article about the teen serial killer and it has been banned by the new head librarian, which shocks everyone in the Library Task Force. We learn a little bit more about Kasahara and Tezuka's families. I think the slapstick between Kasahara and Dojo definitely goes up in this volume, esp in the bonus manga with the bank robbers. Overall, it was an okay volume with some really funny parts but not as good as the last 5 volumes. Recommended for ages 14+, 3 stars.

Library Wars: Love and War, Vol 7 by Kiiro Yumi
This volume was kind of boring in comparison to the others, even though they did finally tell you some things that they had been hinting at forever. There is a mysterious reviewer on the library's website, and the Library Task Force find out it is Sunagawa, Tezuka's roommate. The reader is finally introduced to Tezuka's older brother who works for the Library Association of Japan. He and his younger brother had a falling out once he found out that the elder believed that the library should become a central government agency, which takes away from its autonomy and freedom from censorship (basically goes against everything the Library Task Force is for). Iku, because of a stupid mistake, finds herself drawn into the investigation of Sunagawa and becomes their main target. Everyone who works for the library believe she is responsible for burning books, although she is innocent. Recommended for ages 14+, 3 stars.

Emma, Volume 3 by Kaoru Mori
I thought the beginning of this volume was really slow, but I guess she showed this scene to show William's life in comparison to Emma's. Either way, I thought it was frivolous and took away from the storyline. Volume 3 starts off at Emma on the train heading home to the coast with the young maid named Tasha whose mistress mistakenly thought Emma was her maid. Tasha and Emma end up in the same train car and strike up a conversation. Next is a boating party with William, two of his sisters, his brother, Eleanor, and a few other single ladies and a gentleman. William looks bored through the whole thing but it was more about the single ladies talking about Eleanor liking William and who they want in a husband. William is soon involved in all these society events and his friend Hakim wonders why. William explains that he hates all these events but feels that he must do it as a member of the uppe class, and I think in a way to forget about Emma. Next we see Emma arriving at the country house that Tasha works at to get a job. She is taught how to do things by Adele, the head maid, and catches on quickly. The servants are allowed to have a party and Emma does not participate, and is noticed by Hans, another servant. It seems he is interested in her though no one knows anything about her. Emma realizes that half the servants and the family is German. Emma because distraught thinking about William but keeps it to herself, crying alone. She ends up being selected by Adele and Mrs. Beeks (the head servant) to be the maid to accompany Mrs. Meredith, the mistress, on her travels. They go meet a Mrs. Trollop, who is very daring in her choice of hairstyle and dress. When they leave, the reader realizes that Mrs. Trollop has had relations with William, but it is not implied how exactly. Could she be his sister or another governess? Recommended for ages 13+, 4 stars.

Emma, Volume 4 by Kaoru Mori
In this volume, William and Eleanor go to the Opera to see "The Barber of Seville" (one of my favorite operas) and he realizes that she is in love with him. We are introduced to Eleanor's fiesty and overprotective married sister Monica, who thinks that William is jerking Eleanor around and goes to confront him. Shortly afterward, William proposes to Eleanor, who accepts. Meanwhile, Emma is preparing to go to London with Mrs. Meredith (Dorothea) as her hand maid. Dorothea and Emma meet Mrs. Trollop while they are out and Emma is borrowed to be Mrs. Trollop's maid for a ball she is going to. Mrs. Trollop decides to dress up Emma as a guest rather than a maid and no one recognizes her at the ball until the reader realizes that the ball that is being thrown is in celebration of William and Eleanor's engagement. William recognizes her at once and she faints. William goes to see if she is alright, and they kiss and makeup, only to be discovered by his mother, Mrs. Trollop, who makes them explain the whole situation. Recommended for ages 13+, 4 stars.

Emma, Volume 5 by Kaoru Mori
This one is probably one of my favorites thus far because the story is actually progressing at a faster rate than normal. The reader is first introduced to the story of how William's mother (Aurelia) and father (Richard) met, married and separated. Emma goes back to Haworth with the Merediths. Aurelia and Richard discuss William and Emma's situation and hope that they will be able to face the reality of not being together. Emma helps avert a fire that would've destroyed the Meredith's home. Emma and William start corresponding by letter and he makes a surprise visit to see her, which now makes everyone at the house privy to what has been going on. We are introduced to Eleanor's parents. Recommended for ages 13+, 5 stars.

Emma, Volume 6 by Kaoru Mori
William decides he needs to break off the engagement with Eleanor and in order to avoid this, his future in-laws arrange for Emma to be kidnapped, create a fake "I'm giving you up" up later and shipped to America to get her out of the way. Vivi, William's little sister, is a whiny brat the whole volume. William has to tell Eleanor again that he is breaking off their engagement later on in the book and his father is furious. Recommended for ages 13+, 4 stars.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
I would just like to reiterate before I give this review how much I love John Green's work. He just has some really insightful and hilarious things to say in his books. This is an awesome book, though tragic and hard to read at times given the subject matter.
It is about Hazel, a 16 year old with cancerous lungs and a boy she meets through her Cancer Support Group, 17 yr old Augustus who had a rare form of leg cancer and lost his leg (he has a prosthesis). Hazel hated going to group until she met Augustus and he fell hard for her, though she had problems doing the same given his past relationship history and her current condition. It wasn't until he lets her go to Amsterdam with him to meet her favorite author (who turns out to be a douche, but a douche for a reason that you don't find out till the end) that she lets herself fall in love with him. It is short-lived however, as his cancer resurfaces. Although it was a very sad book, it was hopeful in a life-sucks-but-love-makes-things-bearable kind of way. Recommended for ages 14+, 5 stars.

Legends of the Dark Crystal, Vol. 1: The Garthim Wars by Barbara Randall Kesel
First off, I loved Dark Crystal the movie. So I figured this would be good as well. It was alright, it is supposed to be a prequel to the movie version but the storyline is very similar to the original. The Skesis are ruling and draining gelflings (who are more abundant at this point) for their essence, to keep the emperor looking young. The Garthim (giant beetle-looking things)are still being used to round up things and Lahr, the main character of the novel, has figured out a way to kill them. He discovers another gelfling, whose village has also been destroyed, and they end up going together to warn the next gelfling village. Basically the village decides to fight and wins the battle...for now. Recommended for ages 13+, 3 stars.

New Job, New Place to Live and Book Reviews

I'm starting my fourth week at the new job and I really like it so far. I get to meet a lot of interesting people and it's a pretty easy job (a lot of typing envelopes, answering phones and putting information into databases). We've narrowed down our search for a new place to live and have found a condo that my hubby and I both like. I have to drop off the paperwork today after work and pay application fees, but hopefully our application will get approved in a couple days and we can go ahead and put down a deposit before someone else grabs it up. Meanwhile, I'm trying to mentally place furniture so we can make sure everything fits as we have definitely gained some furniture since the last time we moved.

I decided to stop using Maricopa County libraries as we are moving soon and there is no branch really close to me where we will be living, plus the main branch of Phoenix Public Library is literally 3 minutes from where I work, so it is super convenient and there will also be a branch library down the street from the condo. I'm still listening to Madame Bovary, which has some wonderful language in it, but then gets boring and tedious with long French place names and 19th century medical practices. Despite this, I am still interested how badly Emma will to screw up her life, with the totally oblivious Charles, before the end of the book. I have also just started a graphic novel version of Fahrenheit 451, which is a little bit easier to get through than the audiobook version. I don't know what it is about books written in the 1950s-60s, but I seem to have trouble staying focused on them.

It seems that I have managed to read 28 books since my last review posting. Those are predominantly mangas, children's picture books and cookbooks, since my attention span seems to be at a loss lately, but that is a pretty impressive amount nonetheless.

Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine
A very well done story about slaves with excellent illustrations, courtesy of Kadir Nelson. Henry was born into slavehood and at first lived with his mother and sisters until his master died and they were separated. When he arrived at his new master's tobacco factory, he met a girl who later became his wife and they had three children. When his family is sold to another man, he decides he needs to be free. So he ships himself to Philadelphia in a box, and gains his freedom. Recommended for ages 7 -12, 4 stars.

Flotsam by David Weisner
David Weisner is a genius! It's no wonder this book is an award winner as even though it is wordless, it is such a brilliant, original work of art. The illustrations are so good you literally are transported into another world. I love the one with the octopi. The book is about a young boy who likes to study things on the beach, such as crabs and starfish. He discovers an old-fashioned camera on the beach and goes to develop the photos. He gets these miraculous photos back and is amazed. He takes a picture with the camera and then throws it back in the ocean for someone else to find. Recommended for ages 5+, 5 stars.

The Three Little Pigs: An Architectual Tale by Stephen Guarnaccia
A cute picture book about The Three Little Pigs but each has a different architectural style that they imitate, like the third pig has a house that looks like Frank Lloyd Wright's house, Falling Waters. I enjoyed the end pages which featured architectural elements such as furniture, houses and housewares that were used in the book. It can be read to kids younger than five as the story is pretty simple, but only older kids and adults would appreciate the architectural/design elements of it. Recommended for ages 5-10, 3 stars.

Simeon's Gift by Julie Andrew Edwards and Emma Walton Hamilton
Honestly I gave this book five stars because of the amazing Renaissance-like illustrations, that were so detailed and absolutely gorgeous. Definitely going to have to find more books illustrated by Gennady Spirin. The book comes with an audio CD of actress/singer Julie Andrews Edwards performing the book, which was created by her daughter Emma and herself.
The story is about a young lute-playing minstrel named Simeon who is in love with a noble lady named Sorrel. He thinks his meager income won't be enough for his girl so he sets off to gain more experience so he can write a song worthy of her. He sees and hears many wonderful things including great cities, soldiers, an abbey choir, and all manner of instruments. His head is so confused that he cannot really write his song properly, so he leaves the city and heads back home. On the way, he befriends a bird, fish and doe. When he arrives back home, his beloved is overjoyed at his return and his newfound friend, and suddenly his song pops back into his head fully completed and Sorrel loves it. He goes on to write many more. Recommended for ages 8+, 5 stars.
Coretta Scott by Ntozake Shange
The book is a very well-done biography, in the form of poetry, of civil rights activist and wife to Martin Luther King Jr, Coretta Scott King. I loved the poem by Ntozake Shange, about as much as her poem for the children's book "Ellington Was Not A Street." Kadir Nelson's paintings are amazing as usual, even my 6 month old enjoyed looking at them. Recommended for ages 7+, 4 stars.
Just Mommy and Me by Tara Jaye Morrow
I picked this book out because my nickname for my son is Monkeypants because he is so wiggly and climbs everywhere, plus I just thought the cover image was cute. He enjoyed me reading this book to him. This is an adorable book about a son who imagines him and his mother are monkeys and do things like eat bananas, take naps in the jungle and watch the sunset together. As another reader has said, would be great to read for Mother's Day. Recommended for ages 6 months+, 4 stars.
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker
I randomly found this one at the library after trying to find some new books for my son, and since my hubby works in construction, I thought it would be a good fit for them to read together. It is a cute rhyming bedtime book about the trucks that work at a construction site: Crane Truck, Cement Mixer, Dump Truck, Bulldozer and Excavator. It has details that kids would enjoy like the trucks sleeping with teddy bears and blankets. I think this would be a great book to get for my son when he's a bit older as the text was kind of long for him now. Recommended for ages 2-5, 4 stars.
Cloud Tea Monkeys by Mal Peet
I have been waiting to read this book for ages but never had the time until now. It is a folktale about a young girl who goes with her mother to the tea plantation. Tashi is not old enough to pick the tea leaves, so she plays with the monkeys that live near the mountain instead. One day, Tashi's mother becomes really ill and cannot work and doesn't have the money to get a doctor. Tashi tries to pick leaves herself but the Overseer of the plantation just laughs at her. She is upset and explains her story the monkeys, and then falls asleep. When she awakens, the monkeys have picked special tea leaves for her. The Royal Tea Taster makes a surprise visit and finds out that her special leaves are Cloud Tea leaves, and promises to pay her a pouch of gold coins every year if she can get him more of the leaves. She agrees and takes the money. Her mother gets better, they thank the monkeys with fruit, and live off the money while drinking the special Cloud Tea. Recommended for ages 8-12, 5 stars.
Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African-Americans by Kadir Nelson
Heart and Soul is a very well done history of African Americans in the United States (1700s - present day), narrated from the point of view of a Southern African-American woman (in a conversational tone) whose family history stretches from the 1850s to the present day. It includes a timeline and historical note from the author. The illustrations are phenomenal paintings, modeled by the author himself and portrait of some of his family members, and definitely the best part of the book. Recommended for ages 9-12, 5 stars.
The Aviary by Kathleen O'Dell
I picked this book by accident the last time I visited the children's department at the downtown Phoenix library. It was a good random find for browsing down the aisles of the fiction section. Although I figured out part of the storyline at the beginning of the book, most of it was a complete surprise and very well done.
The Aviary is about a 12 year old girl named Clara who has lived most of her life shut away in the Glendoover house, where her mother and a lady named Ruby take care of old Mrs. Glendoover. Clara's mother has always told her that she should never leave the house because she has a heart condition, and Clara has always kept away from the aviary where the five birds are kept, until one day she hears one of them say "Elliot," which opens up a mystery to the young girl. Who were the Glendoover family and what happened to their children, especially their baby son Elliot? What is the truth about Clara and her family's past? To find out, you must read this delightful little book. Recommended for ages 9-12, 4 stars.
Baby's First Year by Rick Walton
This was a very cute rhyming book about a baby's first year milestones, such as smiling, laughing, crawling, and walking. It would be good for a sibling of a new baby. Recommended for ages 6 months - 5 years, 4 stars.
Daisy and the Egg by Jane Simmons
Another cute picture book, with soft painted illustrations, for kids about to become an older brother or sister. Daisy and her mother are awaiting the arrival of Daisy's cousins and her new little brother or sister. Her cousins hatch first and eventually Daisy gets a new baby brother named Pip. Recommended for ages 6 months - 5 years, 3 stars.
China Modern: 1oo Cutting Edge, Fusion Style Recipes for the 21st Century by Ching-He Huang
I have made Vietnamese and Japanese food at home, but honestly Chinese food is pretty intimidating with the complicated recipes and ingredients I've never really tried. However, Ching makes the recipes easy to understand and most of them look really tasty. She has some traditional Chinese recipes, East/West fusion and Chinese mixed with other Asian cultures. Easy recipes like Chili and Pepper Squid, Lychee and Vanilla Ice Cream; to more complicated ones like Vegetable Bao (steamed buns) or Once-a-month Savory-Sour Vegetarian Noodle Soup. 4 stars.
Gary Rhodes New Classics by Gary Rhodes
I will say that the author/chef was very thorough in his research of the recipes and their backgrounds. That was the part that I really liked. However, after having read many cookbooks and websites on classic British cuisine, I have seen most of these recipes before so I didn't find many recipes that I wanted. The other problem is lack of money to buy specialty ingredients, like suet, which is cheap in Britain but expensive over here. 2 stars.
The Three Chimneys: Recipes and Reflections from the Isle of Skye's World Famous Restaurant by Shirley Spear
I enjoyed this becoming a chef memoir of the author and her recipes from her gorgeous little restaurant and B&B in northwest Skye. I had been to this western island of Scotland when I was studying there in 2004, although I only went to the SW portion (It is very ruggedly beautiful). The recipes and photos of the food were gorgeous, though a good number of the ingredients would only be accessible if you lived in the UK or could afford to buy them online. Neverless, it was an enjoyable read about a foray into the restaurant business from two amateurs that turned into an enormous success. 3 stars.
The Museum Vaults: Excerpts from the Journal of an Expert by Marc-Antoine Mathieu
The cover looked interesting, so I picked this up in the Teen graphic novel section at the downtown library (although I don't believe it should've been in the teen section). It was a futuristic look at the Louvre in the fictional subbasements, where the collection is now stored. The graphic novel was making fun of art history and curatorial practices, which I found kind of funny as I majored in art history and museum studies in university. Overall, I thought it was pretty boring, though I liked the Escher-esque black & white art. 2 stars.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Happy 200th Birthday Charles Dickens and the ALA Youth Media Awards

I apologize for the second paragraph (having some formatting problems). 

Apparently today is Charles Dickens' 200th Birthday and I found this article on FB that I wanted to share, which contains ten facts you probably didn't know about the author. Apparently bells rang all over London in celebration of his birthday, his resting place in Westminster Abbey was cleaned up, my favorite English actor Ralph Fiennes did a reading from Bleak House at a memorial service for the author at the Abbey (which was also presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury) and Prince Charles cut a cake in honor of the occasion with Camilla at the Dickens Museum. My favorite Dickens work, and yes I'm sorry to say the only one I've actually read, is Tale of Two Cities. It is such a sad story but a good one and of course one of the most quotable of his books, i.e. "It is a far far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known;" and "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." I, like so many others, have seen countless adaptions of his works, such as A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, and Great Expectations. I will say though that British actor Simon Callow's portrayal of the great author himself in the BBC production The Mysteries of Charles Dickens is quite good. Here is an interview with the actor about the show. 

The American Library Association (ALA) has released their picks for the 2012 Youth Media Awards after their Midwinter Conference in Dallas on Jan 23. Here is the press release that lists all the award and honor winners. I was surprised by how many I had never heard of. Most of the time I wonder what the people on the award committees are thinking as I sometimes can seriously not get why they picked the books they do pick, but I guess they must be seeing something that I don't see. Anyways, yay to Jack Gantos for winning the Newberry! He is one of my favorite children's writers. I have not read Dead End in Norvelt yet but it is on my to-read list.Congrats to Brian Selznick for a Schneider Family Book Award (ages 9-13) for his amazing book Wonderstruck: A Novel in Words and Pictures. Thanhaha Lai, one of the Newberry honor winner's book Inside Out & Back Again about escaping Vietnam and coming to the US looks interesting. I also want to check out the Caldecott honor book Grandpa Green by Lane Smith, the Coretta Scott King Author Award and honor Ilustrator award winning book by Kadir Nelson Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans, and more that I have yet to discover on the ALA award list. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

February Life Update

I've given up on the State Library and Archives job as it has been 5 weeks now and still no answer. I have not heard back from Everest College, though I think I did a good job with the in-person interview. Meanwhile, last Friday I got a call from the Diocesan House again, wanting me to come back for a meeting. Basically the job opened up again, so they offered me the job and I took it. I started Mon Jan 30 and have just finished up my first week. It has taken me forever to get the hang of the very multi-line phone system (like 20 extensions) but I think I'm finally getting it. So I am currently working for the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona, which covers the entire state (71 churches/groups/foundations). Needless to say, I have been introduced to a whole lotta people in the past week. I found out that we have a very active Spanish ministry (including a Spanish-only church) and a Sudanese church, as apparently a lot of the Lost Boys of Sudan settled in the Phoenix area. I like it when churches are more multicultural. I already know a lot of church lingo, as I am a cradle Episcopalian and my mother is a priest, but I will definitely have to keep learning whilst working in this position. Luckily, everyone is really nice, helpful and patient with me as I learn. It's a part time job (18-20 hrs) but I'm hoping that it will go to full time by next year. It apparently was full time before but because of the economy, they had to downsize. The priests for the most part are pretty cool and super smart, like the Dean of the Cathedral has a PhD in Astrophysics and the Bishop has a PhD in Medieval History (I'm very curious to know what he wrote his dissertation on). 

I'm making a very conscious effort to read more this year, though because of my working now and being ill since Wednesday (baby gave me his cold) that has slowed down a bit. So far I have read 41 books so I am off to a good start. Might have to eventually change my goal from 200 to 366! I am currently reading John Green's new book The Fault in Our Stars, which is brilliant. I'm also tackling some cookbooks, in Chinese and British cooking. Since my hubby is English, I'm always on the lookout for good British cookbooks as he gets nostalgic every now and again. We recently discovered The Cornish Pasty Co. in Tempe, about 45 minutes from us over our anniversary weekend (last Saturday the 28th, 6 yrs). We ended up having the pork/apple/potato and the steak/mushrooms/zucchini/Stilton pasties and they were awesome. We also had Banoffee Pie, which was delicious and I hadn't had in forever! For those who haven't had this dessert, it's basically a graham cracker crust with toffee/caramel, bananas and whipped cream. Simple but amazing. I discovered it when I was studying in Scotland. 

Liam, my 6 month old son, is doing well. He had his wellness checkup recently and weighed in at 18lbs 9oz and was 29 1/2 inches in length. I keep saying he's like a baby in a toddler's body b/c he's so long. He got ill after he was given a mandatory shot and now my mother, father and I all have the crud, i.e. congestion, coughing, sore throat, runny nose, hard to breathe etc. We think Liam might walk before he crawls as he has been practicing in the bouncer that my parents got him. He has been eating solid foods for a little over 2 months now and doing well with them, eating both fruit and veggies. My hubby is doing well in his job. He works for an apartment remodeling company in Phoenix and gets along well with everyone. We are currently looking for a place to live. We wanted to rent a house but everything is just a little bit out of our price range, so we'll probably be looking at apartments or townhouses instead. Problem is finding a half decent one in our price range that's not in a bad area of town, as I want Liam to be safe. We're hoping to have enough money to buy a house of our own by this time next year, and that the prices will still be low. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kazu Kibuishi, Hiromu Arakawa, David W. Cowles, and Giada De Laurentiis

I'm excited about my interview tomorrow with Everest College, although I do tend to get nervous around committee interviews. Luckily it is easy to get to, and I hope to have a few to walk around the library if we don't do it in the interview. I started to listen to the audiobook version of  Madame Bovary today, which was a Banned Book Club pick, which I am temporarily not doing until we move to the new place. 

Young Adult
Flight, Volume 1 edited by Kazu Kibuishi
I picked up this volume after picking up Kibuishi's "Amulet, Book 4: The Last Council," and finally decided that I wanted to read more of the author's work. The book is a collection of up-and-coming comic/graphic novel creators, and they are all-based on the idea of flight. My favorites were Derek Kirk Kim (author of "Good as Lily"), Kazu Kibuishi, Jake Parker, Vera Brosgol (author of "Anya's Ghost"), Jen Wang, Neil Babra, Rad Sechrist, and Phil Craven's work. Recommended for ages 12+, 3 stars. 

Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 2 (Fullmetal Alchemist #2) by Hiromu Arakawa
In this volume, Ed and Al go with Colonel Mustang (the Flame Alchemist and Ed's superior officer) to see the leading specialist on biological transmutation, Shou Tucker, the "Sewing Life Alchemist". Ed is excited to get into Shou's archives to do research and Al befriends Shou's daughter. Everything is going great until Ed realizes the truth behind the chimeras that Shou creates. For his transgressions against God, a mysterious man kills both Shou and his new creation, and tries to kill more state alchemists. He manages to severely damage both Ed and Al, so much that they have to go to the mechanic back in their home town. On the way there, Major Armstrong recognizes a doctor from the civil war who used to work for the military. The reader finds out that he is/was working with the two shady characters from the first book, Lust and Greed. Their mission is never explained, but it seems that they are up to no good.

I liked this book, but I wished they explained more about the Shou Tucker and his daughter part like they did in the anime. It is one of the most disturbing part of the series. My favorite part was the introduction of Alex Louis Armstrong, the "Strong Arm Alchemist". I thought his character was hilarious in the anime. Recommended for ages 14+, 3 stars.

The Deli Maven's Cookbook by David W. Cowles

Well I definitely know more about the origin of the Jewish Deli than I ever knew before. The author breaks it down into many categories, not all of which I really think should be in the book, but there ya go. He first describes what a deli is, his search for a good deli in Washington state, and true tales of the deli (including quotes and jokes). He then describes the recipes for the items one usually finds in a deli, such as homemade pastrami, beef brisket, pastrami lox (which is apparently lox cured like pastrami), potato knishes, lox/scrambled eggs/onions (which I had never tried until the other day at a breakfast place and was delicious), cheese blintzes, Dilly Deli Horseradish Mustard and more. 3 stars.

Weeknights with Giada: Quick and Simple Recipes to Revamp Dinner by Giada de Laurentiis
This is an ARC from Netgalley. 
Normally I love watching Giada on Food Network, she always makes yummy looking Italian recipes and it is pleasant to watch her show. Giada's daughter will be 4 years old by the time the book is published and the author wanted to make more healthy meals for her family and share them with others. Now as a new mom, I can appreciate what she is trying to do. While the pictures make the recipes look even more appetizing, I found the recipes to be a bit too mainstream and boring. 2 1/2 stars. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Laura Lee Gulledge, Vera Brosgol, Trevor Marriot and Hiromu Arakawa

Jan 22 Book Reviews, Part II: 

Young Adult
Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge
I picked this up by accident at the library while browsing the last time, as I was feeling like some new graphic novels and it looked interesting. This journal style graphic novel is about Paige, a shy 16 yr old girl from Charlottesville, Virginia who moves with her writer parents to New York City. It is a huge change for her, not only because she moved in the middle of her junior year of high school but because she doesn't know anyone and it feeling rather lonely. She decides to reinvent herself by keeping this journal sketchbook and making new friends, who she in turn helps out with their creative adventures. I thought it was really well done at showing what it is like to be a very introspective quiet girl who wants so desperately to fit in but doesn't want to do the wrong thing (I know I have definitely felt this way, more so in college than high school, but I also moved the middle of high school so I know how she feels). She ends up publishing her own mini magazine of drawings, which she calls Pages by Paige. Recommended for ages 14+, 5 stars.

Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol
I've been wanting to read this one forever but never had the time until now. It was well worth the wait, although I thought the story was a little slow at times. Anya's Ghost is about a high school Americanized Russian teenager named Anya. She seems constantly annoyed/embarrassed at her mother and brother, only has one friend and never quite seems to fit in anywhere. One day while cutting through a park, she falls down an abandoned well and meets a ghost named Emily who follows her to school. At first they get along and Emily helps her out with schoolwork and flirting with Sean, the boy that Anya likes. This is until Anya finds out what Sean is really like, a humongous jerk, and that the only reason that Emily is helping her out is to live through her, as she never got the chance. Anya decides to investigate Emily's murder and turns out that things are not as they seem and suddenly everything starts going pear-shaped. What is Emily's real story? Will Emily and Anya ever really be happy? To find out, read this intriguing graphic novel. Recommended for ages 12+, 4 stars.

Emma, Volume 2 by Kaoru Mori
I liked this volume better than the first because of the character development. In Volume 2, Emma finally get to go on an outing with William, to the Crystal Palace to look at the exhibits and their relationship finally begins. Her employer Kelly dies and she decides to leave town, and tries to meet up with William but they miss each other. We get to meet William's brothers and sisters, and they are scandalized when they learn about Emma (esp his youngest sister). Meanwhile Evelyn, the girl that William's father wants him to marry, has become friends with William's older sister and is starting to fall in love with William. I can't wait to see what happens in Volume 3! Recommended for ages 12+, 5 stars.

Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 1 (Fullmetal Alchemist, #1) by Hiromu Arakawa
This manga version of Fullmetal Alchemist is pretty much exactly like the beginning of the anime series. I had watched the original version of the anime but was told by manga fans that reading the manga version or seeing "Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood" was better because it gave the actual story. Volume 1 explains how the Elric brothers, Edward the eldest who is the State Alchemist and his younger brother Alphonse whose soul is trapped in a suit of armor. This occurred when the brothers tried to use alchemy to bring back their dead mother and forgot the rule of equivalent exchange, so Al lost all but his soul and Ed lost his right arm and left leg. He is called "fullmetal" because he has all metal appendages to replace the ones he lost. They have two adventures in this volume, the first to a town where a man claiming to be a priest who performs miracles supposedly possesses a piece of the Philosopher's Stone. The second is about a mining town owned by a tyrant military man who taxes the occupants nearly to death. Recommended for ages 14+, 3 stars.

Master Chef Tom's Burns Night by Tom Bridge
A e-book guide to doing your own Burns night (usually celebrated around Robert Burns' birthday, Jan 25), it gives you a basic introduction of what the event is and includes recipes you can use to create your own menu.
3 stars. 

Jack the Ripper: The 21st Century Investigation by Trevor Marriot

I would like to preface this review by saying that if you do not like very graphic and detailed descriptions, with some pictures, of crimes, then this is not the book for you. I first became interested in Jack the Ripper in high school after I read a book about the subject. I was fascinated and horrified by what happen, and I guess part of the appeal is wondering why in the heck someone would do something like this. I've seen the Patricia Cornwell special that she did in the late 90s, and while it was interesting, I don't believe the mystery could be tied up in that complete a package like she made it out to be.

In this book the author, a former Detective in London, breaks down the murders into manageable chunks that makes everything easier to understand. The five "canonical" murders as he calls them, are discussed in detail which includes the actual court proceedings, along with four additional murders which may or may not be attributed to the Ripper. The second part describes the possible motives for the killer, the evidence, the Ripper letters (which the author basically says were all manufactured by journalists of the day), a list of eleven suspects that the author doesn't believe did the murders and a final suspect that he believes committed not only the 5 canonical murders, but also at least 6 others all over the world. I thought it was a very well done book. 4 stars.

Tony DiTerlizzi, Cassandra Clare, Kazu Kibuishi, Kiiro Yumi, and Kaoru Mori

I didn't get the Diocesan House job and I'm still waiting on the word from the State Library and Archives after my interview for the paid internship position there about a month ago. I have another interview for a part time Library Assistant position at Everest College, a for-profit college that is in-between a two and four year school. I would be doing a little bit of everything since it is a very small library (would only be and the Librarian if I got the job), which would be great experience. We already had a phone interview that I think went really well so now I have an in-person interview on Wed afternoon. 

Other than that, things have been pretty good. My son Liam had his 6 month doctor's appointment and he weighed in at 18lbs 9 1/2oz and was measured at 29 1/2 inches long. He's so long, it's almost like he is a baby in a toddler's body. He's very healthy and we've been feeding him solid food for about 2 months now. We started him on veggies and only recently added fruits, which is supposed to help him not develop a sweet tooth. Needless to say, like most babies, he likes sweeter veggies like carrots and squash more than his green veggies. Also we finally have found a place outside of my parent's house to live, though we cannot move in till March 1. The rental house is in pretty rough shape now, but it should be ready by then. 

I've been reading up a storm since the beginning of the year and have finally gotten in the groove of reading again regularly. Today I have read my 22nd book, which is pretty awesome considering it is the 22nd of January! I will try to post again more regularly as I am reading more. I will be dividing these up also as I've read  12 books since the last time I've reviewed on the blog. 

Just Go to Bed by Mercer Mayer
One of my favorite Little Critter books, in which he pretends to be a spaceman, zookeeper, cowboy, general, sea monster, train engineer and more. This is all while his dad is trying to get him bathed and in bed, finally exclaiming "Just go to bed!", which is very funny if you've ever tried to get a kid to bed who didn't want to go. Recommended for ages 6 months+, 4 stars. 

Ted by Tony DiTerlizzi
I have been trying to find a copy of this picture book for years and was so excited when I finally found it at my local library! It was as good as I thought it would be, i.e. a zany and funny picture book done by the fabulously talented author and illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi. Ted is the pinkish-purply imaginary friend of a young boy, and they get up to some pretty crazy adventures, which the boy's dad does not appreciate. That is until the boy realizes that Ted knows his dad (was in fact his imaginary friend named Ned) and the dad rediscovers his sense of fun and spends his time playing with Ted and his son. Recommended for ages 5+, 5 stars. 

Children and Young Adult
Amulet, Book 4: The Last Council by Kazu Kibuishi

I swear the books in this series keep getting better and better, though now it is killing me not to know how the series ends. I love it that the book works so well with and without words to convey the story/action. 

In this volume, Emily and her family have finally made it to Cielis, where the Stonekeeper's amulets were first created from the Mother Stone. She is told that she will be called on by the Guardian Council and given a set of trials to prove her worth, but she feels that something is not quite right. New allies are introduced, who will help Emily in the next volume. Why is everyone in Cielis so quiet and why do they distrust foreigners so much? Why does the Guardian Council keep itself hidden away? How much does Emily know about Max, the other Stonekeeper who accompanied her to Cielis?  Recommended for ages 10+, 5 stars. 

Young Adult
Flash Gold (Flash Gold Chronicles #1) by Lindsay Buroker
I found this on the free list for the Kindle and it looked interesting so I decided to give it a try. It was a very quick read and I really got into it. The story is set in the 1890s in the Yukon Territory in Canada, and is about an 18 yr old inventor named Kat. There is a dog sled race where the grand prize is $1000, which is enough for Kat to get out of the small town she is in and create more inventions. The title comes from a substance that her inventor father, Ezekiel, created to power machines and is apparently in very high demand from gangsters. They have sent gangs of people to capture Kat and get the Flash Gold, all of this during the dog sled race. A stranger named Cedar comes with her to help her out at the last minute, though his intentions are unclear. Will they get her and the gold? Will she win the race? Why is Cedar there in the first place? To find out, read this novella. Recommended for ages 14+, 5 stars. 

Emma, Volume 1 by Kaoru Mori
I picked this one up by accident (though apparently it's been on my to-read list for awhile) while browsing the teen section at the library. I enjoyed this quick read about a young servant girl named Emma who works for Kelly, a former governess to William Jones. The first time Emma meets William, he falls in love with her but is too shy to tell her how he feels. She has had letters from multiple suitors but always says no. William's friend Hakim comes to visit him from India and then he falls in love with Emma, only he tells her outright about it. The first volume ends with William's father telling him that he is to marry the young girl he danced at the ball with the previous night. Recommended for ages 12+, 4 stars. 

The Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices, #2) by Cassandra Clare

Ok so I've been reading Cassandra Clare books for over a year now and I love them. She is simply the best writer for kisses/make-out scenes, at least in teen books. You really feel right there with the main character experiencing it as it happens. And there were some really great scenes like that in these books, and with two hot guys no less. I usually cannot put these books down once I've started and this book was no exception, although it did take me awhile to get into it because I could not remember for the life of me what in the heck happened in the previous book (until about 50 pages into it). The only thing that really annoyed me about the book (and the reason it got four instead of five stars) was because I found out pretty early on that the author was once again using a formula to explain the story, i.e. girl torn between two guys, one sensitive and shy and the other brash and beautiful. For whatever reason, that just annoyed me. 

This book picks up where the other left off. Tessa is still staying at the London Institute for Shadowhunters, Will is still treating her and everyone else like he doesn't care, and they are trying to find Mortmain and what he is planning to do with his clockwork creations. As the book progresses, Tessa is slowly falling for both Will and Jem and can't really decide who she likes more. Charlotte's tenure as head of the London Institute is questioned by another Shadowhunter named Bernard Lightwood, who wants to take over control of it from her. The Consul has given Charlotte two weeks to find out Mortmain's whereabouts. Meanwhile, Will has been secretly seeing Magnus Bane in an attempt to find a demon that cursed him five years ago. Charlotte, Jem, Tessa and Will find out that Mortmain sought reparations from the Shadowhunter Council after his parents were murdered, and that he lived in York. Will they be able to find Mortmain before the two weeks is up? Will Tessa ever discover who she is? Which boy will Tessa chose? These answers and more are found in this delightful sequel to "The Clockwork Angel". Recommended for ages 15+, 4 stars. 

Library Wars: Love and War, Vol. 1 by Kiiro Yumi
A very funny introductory volume to Library Wars, a futuristic view of Japan where the government has "created a committee to rid society of books it deems unsuitable (back cover)," and the libraries fight back by creating a militant librarian task force which protects against censorship. The concept is just so cool sounding, and kinda makes me wish they had something like this in real life. The main character, Iku Kasahara, is one of the hardest working people in training to join the Task force, and is better than the men who have joined her. She has followed "her hero" to the Task Force after the mysterious male stranger saves her book in high school after the gov't does a raid on a bookstore that she is in. She and another boy named Hikaru Tezuka are invited to join the Task Force but Kasahara is always behind as she fell asleep during her classroom training. During the whole thing, you can see her falling for Dojo, her teacher, especially after she realizes that he is "her hero," even though she doesn't want to. Tezuka may also be falling for her. Can't wait to read the next 3 volumes! Recommended for ages 12+, 5 stars. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Anne Burrell, Calista Taylor, and Stephen Savage

So I got a no from the Diocesan House on the job there and also a no from the PT Recreation job. My paid internship interview with the State Library went well on Tuesday I think, so I'm just waiting to hear back from them. In the meantime, I will include my latest couple of books read. 

Where's Walrus? by Steven Savage
One of the selections for the Mock Caldecott, this was one of my least favorite of their selections. The illustrations were cute, but the story left a little to be desired, even the baby got bored with it. In this wordless picture book, a curious walrus decides to leave the zoo and go exploring in the city, while the zookeeper follows him. He finally ends up at a diving competition where he takes the first prize, so the zookeeper decides to built him a diving board so he can do that at the zoo. Recommended for ages 5 month - 5 yrs, 2 stars. 

Devil on a Sparrow's Wing by Calista Taylor
Loved this book, but was disappointed at the suddenness of its ending, hence the four star rating instead of five (though I devoured this book faster than the first). This volume of the Viridis series was more about adventure, though there was a little mystery thrown in from the viewpoint of wondering what would happen next. 

At the beginning of the book, Phoebe has just recently married Seth and they are living together happily. Phoebe has created Sanctis, another herbal concoction based off Viridis that sharpens one's senses. Needless to say, when the two herbals are mixed, there are some interesting outcomes. We, the readers, are finally introduced to Gavin's family who live in the Highlands and are practically a family to Seth as well. After an encounter with Gavin in the Highlands that ends in some inappropriate things accidentally happening, Seth storms off in a rage and is seems to have been blown up in an explosion at the Tinkerer's Guild. Phoebe is devastated and it takes her over a year to get over it. Will she be able to find love again? Is Seth really dead? Will Gavin ever have his love of Phoebe realized? To find out, read this fascinating sequel to Viridis. Kindle ebook, 4 stars. 

The real taste of delicious Indian sweets by Karissma
I love Indian sweets, especially Galub Jamin and Jalebi, so I wanted to give this cookbook a try. The book contains a description of each dessert (though I wish there were pictures with the description instead of with the recipes).The recipes are short and simple, but my gripe is that the author switches from English to metric measurements and doesn't explain what some of the Indian ingredients included in the recipes are. 3 stars. 

Cook Like a Rock Star: 125 Recipes, Lessons, and Culinary Secrets by Anne Burrell
I watched her interview with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, and I liked her before that after watching her cooking show on Food Network. Her cookbook is not conceited like other major chefs, and she doesn't talk down to you like you're an idiot. I knew that she worked with Mario Batali (he wrote her Forward for this book) but I never knew that she had trained in Tuscany. As a result of this, most of her recipes have an Italian slant. I like who she divided the recipes into traditional Italian dining categories (minus the first one): Piccolini ("little nibbles"), Firsts (Appetizers), Pasta, Seconds (Meat Dishes), Sides and Desserts. I love her cheese, mushroom, and prosciutto dishes; esp the Goat Cheese Cheesecake, Parmesan Flan, Sugar Snap Pea Salad with Crispy Prosciutto and Mint, Wild Mushroom Ragu, and the Spinach & Ricotta Gnocchi with Fontina Fonduta.  4 stars. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Brian Selznick, Alton Brown, Peter Sis, and Calista Taylor

Jan 1 book reviews part two: 

Children and Young Adult
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
Another wonderful book from author/illustrator Brian Selznick, done in a similar format to his Caldecott-winning masterpiece "The Invention of Hugo Cabret." I have been waiting months to read this book and devoured it in a few hours. 

The book is set in 1977 and follows Ben, a 12 yr old half-deaf boy who recently lost his mother in a car accident and is currently living with his aunt, uncle and cousins. One night, he discovers a book he's never seen about a museum exhibition called Wonderstruck and inside he finds a bookmark with a note from a mysterious man named Daniel. His mother has never talked about him a
nd even more curious, is the locket he discovers the same night with the picture of the mystery man. Could this man be the father he never knew? The only clues he has is an address to a bookshop in New York City. While this written story is going on, we see another illustrated story from the point of view of Rose, a deaf and mute 12 yr old girl from 1927. While Ben is experiencing things like going to the American Museum of Natural History in NYC, so is Rose. Who is Rose and what is her connection with Ben? To figure out this mystery, you must read this amazing story. Recommended for ages 8+, 5 stars. 

Teach Yourself VISUALLY Crochet by Cecily Keim
Great resource for beginner crocheters or those that want to brush up on their skills. I have never been good at interpreting crochet shorthand, and I've always been a better visual learner, so this book was ideal for me. It gave you basic and advanced stitches, in addition to techniques, stitch variations, combining stitches, how to follow a pattern, stitch patterns, and troubleshooting. It also shows how to make different shapes/flowers/creatures, blocks and motifs, edgings, and patterns for everything from hats, socks, sweaters, coasters, handbacks and belts. I think I might buy this one. Recommended for all ages, 5 stars. 

Good Eats 3: The Later Years by Alton Brown 
I've loved Good Eats since the beginning, even though it is a bit campy (i.e. the Okra episode). Alton Brown is very informational and scientific though, and I love how that continues through the Good Eats cookbooks. I definitely have marked more recipes in this cookbook than in Volume 1, with recipes like Salted Caramel (my current obsession), Cauliflower Cheese, Mincemeat Pie (one of my hubby's favorite Christmas treats), homemade vanilla wafers for Banana Pudding, Beer Bread, and Meat Sauce and Spaghetti, just to name a few. 5 stars. 

The Weekend Crafter: Crochet: 20 Simple and Stylish Designs to Wear by Jane Davis
A short book on projects you can supposedly finish in a weekend (not sure that would work for me as I'm slow in finishing crochet projects). I did not like most of the patterns, but I did like the Classic Cable Scarf and Hat because the Cable pattern can usually only be done with knitting. 2 stars.

Viridis (Book 1 in the Viridis Series) by Calista Taylor
I would consider the book to be more erotica than romance as some of the scenes were pretty graphic, but I guess you could consider it romance since two of the main characters were wooing each other throughout the book. This was my first ebook for the Kindle.

The story is about Phoebe, who during the illness of her now-dead sister, tried to create an herbal cure for her. The end product was Viridis, an herbal elixir that heightens one's senses and has become the hit of London among the elites that come to Phoebe's club to enjoy themselves. She runs the club with her brother Gabriel. She gets an unexpected visit from Seth, an inventor she used to be in love with who left her over a year ago to help the Cause (whose objective is to help the poor of England against the Crown). Meanwhile, there has been the murder of one of Phoebe's clients, Lord Niles Hawthorne. Inspector William, a newly minted detective is on the case and trying to find his connection to the SS (her Majesty's Secret Service). Will William find the killer and why the young lord had been murdered? Will Phoebe ever find true happiness? To find out, read Viridis. Can't wait to read book 2! Five stars.

The Conference of the Birds by Peter Sis

I had never heard of this epic poem before reading this book, but I picked this up because I heard that the author/illustrator was coming out with this illustrated graphic novel version, and it sounded intriguing. The original 4,500 word poem was written in 12th century Persia by Sufi mystic Farid Ud-Din Attar. Peter Sis named his poet in the story Attar after the mystic.

Attar, a poet, turns into a bird and confers a meeting of all the birds in the world to discuss the problems of the world. He believes that in order to find the answers of how to solve all the world's problems, the birds must take a long journey to find Simorgh, the true king. Thousands of birds set off but only a few make it to the end. What they discover in the end surprises them.

While I didn't understand all of the journey to meet the king, I got the gist of everything. What really made this book was the brilliant illustrations, which more completely explained the parts of the poem that were difficult to understand. I also really loved the thick paper he used too. 4 stars.

The Big Book of Weekend Crochet by Hilary Mackin
I've been looking for a project to do, but everything I've found is out of my talent range or really ugly. Most of the designs in here are okay, but once again, the sizes are small and I'm not skilled enough to enlarge it to my size. Also I don't think you could actually finish this in a weekend unless you were working nonstop. I did like the casual jacket, the kid's fisherman sweater (pictured on front) and the rainbow blanket. 2 stars. 

Mercer Mayer, Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long, Kevin Henkes and more

I have been very busy reading since I last posted my reviews on Dec 17, although I haven't read any Netgalley, so I need to get back in the habit of reading those. I just realized I've read 20 books since Dec 18, so this review list will probably be a bit long and I will divide it into two different posts. For those who have never been to the site before, I rate the books on a scale of 1 to 5 stars and break them down according to age category (children/young adult/adult). 

Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People by Monica Brown
This was another book nominated for the Mock Caldecott awards at my local public library. I decided to check this one out because Pablo Neruda is my favorite poet of all time. His poetry on everyday things, as well as his love poems, are so amazing. I was curious how they were going to make his life story into a picture book for children since he was a Communist and exiled from his home country for his viewpoints, but Monica Brown has managed to gloss over those parts and make a beautiful book about the poet that children would want to read. I learned a lot about him that I did not know before, like he originally went by the name Neftali and only took the name Pablo Neruda as a pseudonym after his father disapproved of his poetry, and that he had a house in Spain called the House of Flowers. I thought the book itself was quite good, with a text that was like poetry, and enjoyed the bright colors of the illustrations, although I found the words swirled in among the drawings to distract a lot from the actual book text. Recommended for ages 5-10, 4 stars. 

A Butterfly is Patient by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long
This book is part of the Mock Caldecott awards discussion to be held at my local public library. I would just like to say firsthand how much I love all of Dianna Hutts Aston & Sylvia Long's books. They have gorgeous illustrations (which caught the eye of my 5 month old, even though he wasn't really listening to me as I read the book itself - too wordy for him) and informative text, which draws you into the story of whatever is featured in their books (butterflies/seeds/eggs). The secondary end pages feature the caterpillars of various types at the beginning of the book, followed by the grown butterflies at the end of the book. 

This book was about butterflies started from the time they hatch from their eggs as caterpillars through their growing phase, into the chrysalis and turning into butterflies. The book discusses how the butterfly helps to pollinate flowers, protects itself from predators, how it feeds itself, the biggest and smallest butterflies in the world, how they got their name, the difference between a butterfly and a moth, and where they migrate to during the year. Recommended for ages 7+, 5 stars. 

Seven Fathers by Ashley Ramsden
This was another selection for the Mock Caldecott awards from my local library system. I had never heard of the story, which was based off a Norwegian folktale about a young man lost in a snowstorm who finds himself at a house seeking shelter and rest, and has to ask everyone in the house before he can do so. The story just dragged on for awhile and then I didn't really understand parts of the ending. I hesitate to give any Ed Young illustrated book this few stars, but I liked the cut-paper illustrations but not the story. Recommended for ages 7+, 2 stars. 

Square Cat by Elizabeth Schoonmaker

I have been wanting to read this one for awhile as it looked so adorable and got the chance as my local county library system is doing a Mock Caldecott award discussion and this was one of the nominees. I liked that the cat's name was Eula as that was my grandmother's name (who recently passed away), plus the illustrations were simple but fantastic and it held my 5 month old son's attention as well. 

This book is very cute story about a square cat named Eula who doesn't fit in, even though she tries so hard to. Her fellow round cat friends, Patsy and Maude, become square to make her feel welcome. This would be a great book for storytime. Recommended for all ages, 4 stars. 

Brother Sun, Sister Moon by Katherine Paterson
Another selection for the Mock Caldecott, I had never heard of this book before. It is based on Saint Francis's Canticle of the Creatures written in 1224, and was re-created by author Katherine Paterson (author of Bridge to Terabithia). Although I liked the text, I absolutely loved the cut paper illustrations! Scherenschnitte ("scissor cuts") came from Germany and these intricate designs are done from one continuous piece of paper. My favorites are the illustrations from Sister Moon, Sister Death, and the author/illustrator notes in the back of the book. Now this is a book I'd love to own. Recommended for ages 8+, 5 stars. 

Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes
A selection for the Mock Caldecott awards, this was a cute book where a little white rabbit uses his imagination to wonder what it would be like to be green, a rock, really tall, and fly. He does know that his mommy loves him. My 5 month old loved the illustrations. Recommended for 5 months+, 3 stars. 

Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw
A selection for the Mock Caldecott award, this book is a cute story about a cat that is adopted, brought home to a family and accepted/loved. It is told in senryu, "a form of Japanese poetry similar to haiku, which typically describes the foibles of human nature--or in this case, cat nature (author's note)." I liked how the cat pretended not to be paying attention, but was well aware of what was going on around him. Recommended for ages 3+, 4 stars. 

My favorite verses were: 

Help! I've been catnapped, 
dressed in frillies, forced to lap
tea with your sister. 

Oops! I mistook these 
for wiggly worms. I didn't 
know they were your toes. 

Just Me and My Puppy by Mercer Mayer
Little Critter trades a baseball mitt for a puppy, but his Mom & Dad say he has to take care of it if he wants to keep it. The book continues with his adventures with his new puppy. My favorite part is when he tries to put on the leash, and the ending. Recommended for ages 5 months+, 4 stars. 

The Wizard Comes to Town by Mercer Mayer
I randomly picked up this book in the Easy Reader section while looking for Little Critter Mercer Mayer books for my 5 month old. I have always loved his books, especially because of the illustrations of monsters, and this book is perfect for that. It is a cute story about Z.P. Alabasium, a traveling wizard who decides to stay at Mrs. Beggs boarding house and creates all kinds of trouble for her and her guests. That is until she decides to take matters into her own hands and get rid of him. My favorite part is when she goes to confront the wizard and finds herself dressed in a ballet tutu on top of a giant tortoise. Recommended for ages 7+, 4 stars. 

All By Myself by Mercer Mayer
A Little Critter book where he describes all the things he can do when he gets older, such as dialing a phone, buying a train ticket to go to his grandparent's house, and getting a paper route. He laments being small and having to do what his parents tell him to do. Recommended for ages 5 months+, 3 stars. 

A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever by Marla Frazee 
I've been wanting to read this book since it won the Caldecott honor a few years ago, but have not managed to get my hands on a copy until now. Overall the book was pretty funny, and the author's biography on the back flap cracked me up too. 

It is a very cute story about two cousins, James and Eamon who spend a week with their grandparents and go to nature camp. The whole time they are there, their grandfather tries to get them interested in Antarctica and its animals, but they are too busy doing everything alike and having fun being together to care. That is, until the last day they are there, when they create a surprise for their grandparents. Recommended for ages 5+, 4 stars. 

Blue Chicken by Deborah Freedman
A selection for the Mock Caldecott for my local library system; I absolutely love the imagination in this book! It is an adorable tale about a painting of a farm that includes a barn, chickens, ducks, a cow and a cat. One of the chickens decides to help by painting the barn blue, but things get out of hand and soon everything is covered in blue. Will she be able to get out of this mess? To find out, give this book a chance. Recommended for ages 5 months+, 5 stars. 

Happy New Year!

Greetings all! I hope everyone had a good New Year's Eve celebration and is recuperating nicely today. My hubby and I made an early night of it since we had been out for 6 hours that morning/afternoon. A bit fuddy-duddy I know, but we were exhausted. Today has been very laid-back and nice. I've been writing reviews on Goodreads (to be posted here soon) and reading a new cookbook that I put on hold at the library Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey. The author knows just the kinds of desserts I like, so there is already 7 recipes bookmarked and not even halfway done with it! 

I have some job updates. I had an interview the week before Christmas for the Diocesan House (the administrative offices of the Diocese of Arizona) as an 18-hour per week secretary/greeter. I think it would be a great place to work. I'm hoping to hear from them this week as they want to fill the position by Jan 10. I have another in-person interview scheduled for Tues Jan 3 with the Library Development Dept. of the Arizona State Library and Archives, for a 24 hr per wk (occasionally more depending on special events) paid internship position. I am very excited about this one as I'm hoping this will help me get my foot in the door with Arizona libraries as it will be paid experience in the state. I may also have a phone interview for a 24 hr per wk position with Corinthian College (local community college) for the circulation desk. I'll fill ya'll in with more info as it becomes available. Fingers crossed on these interviews; this momma needs a new paying job!