Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Where Does The Time Go?

Who said so many books, so little time? Whoever they were, they were right. Time is a precious commodity and not just time for reading. (I must admit, I do have that part of multi-tasking down. I always manage to find time to read.) What I can't find time for is all the other book related things. I have all these things I want to post on the blog, but the next thing I know days have passed and I haven't posted anything. I really do mean to catalog/organize my personal book collection, but the next thing I know weeks have passed and I've not even collected the boxes to start the organizing process. (And no, I'm not necessarily going to arrange my books according to Dewey. I just need to be able to find books when I want to look up something or loan one to a friend. However, I can easily locate my Caldecott and Newbery books - so maybe I'm not totally disorganized.)

I recently listened to The New Policeman by Kate Thompson on audio. (Listening to audio books while driving is a great way to work through your reading list.) J.J.'s mom just wants more time for her birthday. Time is leaking out of their world and into another. Sometimes, I think that's my life. All my time is leaking somewhere. I couldn't even finish this post in one sitting.

The New Policeman is a young adult book, but I believe adults will enjoy it, too. I did find the reader's voice rather irritating, but the snippets of Irish music made it worth while to listen to the audio version rather than reading it for myself. And it bought me a little extra time. :)

I'm currently reading Accessory to Murder by Elaine Viets (mysteries are my indulgence), A White Hourse Diary by Lady Bird Johnson and listening to Leven Thumps and The Gateway to Foo by Obert Skye. I'm rather disappointed in Leven Thumps and ordinarily, I wouldn't bother finishing it. I often say that life is too short to spend it reading a book you don't enjoy and don't have to read. However, my students are all reading this book, and even though I've not yet figured out its appeal, I feel I should finish it so that I can actually talk to them about it.

As my friend Betty Bookworm always says - "Read More Books!"

What are you reading?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Currently Reading

I just finished Deborah Wiles' Aurora County All Stars. Perhaps it is because I've met Miss Wiles a couple of times and have heard her speak, but when I read her books, I always hear a lovely southern accent in my head.

Aurora County All Stars is a wonderful book. It's about baseball, it's about finding yourself, it's about finding friends you didn't know you had, and it's about including everyone. It's a book with a message, but it doesn't hit the reader over the head with it. I believe children will enjoy it, but I'm not sure they will appreciate the Walt Whitman references. The true baseball fans will love the quotes from famous players. Another reason I enjoyed this book, is one of my favorite characters from a previous Wiles book (Ruby Lavendar) plays an important role in the story.

I am now reading Elven by Patricia Giff and 7th Heaven by James Patterson. And I'm listening to The New Policeman by Kate Thompson. I love the snippets of Irish music.

What are you reading?

What Comes After Harry?

Beverly’s Book Notes
July 2007
What Comes After Harry

As I write this, it is only about 32 hours until Harry Potter fans will finally know his fate. But then what? What do you read when there’s no more Harry Potter?

While there is truly only one Harry, fans of the young wizard need not despair. There are a number of magical fantasy books to keep you reading after all is known about Harry. This month, we discuss just a few.

The Charlie Bone Series by Jenny Nimmo

Parents who are disturbed by the dark nature and sorcery found in the Potter books may be more comfortable with this series. I fondly refer to the Charlie Bone series as Harry Potter Lite. Charlie is one of the endowed children, descendents of the Red King. Each of these children has a magical gift. Charlie can hear the people in photographs and paintings speak. Sometimes, he is even able to travel into the pictures. Some of his friends can control the weather or speak to animals. The first four books also include a mystery about Charlie’s father. Just like Harry Potter, these books have a good verses evil theme. However, thus far in the books there has been no sorcery or spell casting. This series is suitable for juvenile as well as teens and adults who enjoy lite fantasy.

Current titles in storyline order:
Midnight for Charlie Bone
Charlie Bone and the Time Twister
Charlie Bone and the Invisible Boy
Charlie Bone and the Castle of Mirrors
Charlie Bone and the Hidden King
Charlie Bone and the Beast

The Septimus Heap Series by Angie Sage

Readers looking for a darker story with more wizard lore will enjoy Angie Sage’s Septimus Heap series. Septimus is the seventh son of a seventh son. Much like Harry, Septimus finds himself at odds with a dark sorcerer who has returned. And like Harry, Septimus is frequently surrounded by ghosts. In addition to Septimus’ story, the books also include his foster sister, Jenna, a young princess orphaned years ago when the dark sorcerer had her mother assassinated. Set in a different age and world than the Potter books, the Septimus Heap serious has a medieval feel. The magical characters do not try to hide their abilities from the non-magical. Magical abilities are nothing new in this land. It is easy to physically identify the wizards, as the eyes of those who practice magic turn a brilliant green. This series is suitable for teens and adults.

Current titles in storyline order:
The Enchanted Inc series by Hannah Swendson

Chick lit fans who also enjoy a little magic will be delighted by this series by Hannah Swendson. Someone said Enchanted, Inc. is Harry Potter meets Sex in the City. Not having watched Sex in the City, I can’t be certain, but I think Enchanted Inc. is somewhat more innocent. At first Katie Chandler thinks all the weird things she notices as she makes her way around the big city, it just typical New Yorker behavior. She soon discovers that what she is really witnessing is magic at work. Unlike the muggles found in Harry Potter, Katie’s inability to do magic or be influenced by it makes her invaluable to Magic, Spells, and Illusion, Inc., for whom she goes to work after quitting her thankless job as the assistant to “Evil Mimi.” Soon after joining MSI, Katie meets “the” Merlin, becomes involved in good magic vs. evil magic conflict, and develops a huge crush on her boss, a talented young wizard. Swendsons’ light and airy writing style make this series a quick read with just enough magic and romance to make things interesting. Readers will want to keep reading, if only to find out if Katie finally gets her hunky young wizard. This series is suitable for teens and adults.

Current titles in storyline order:
Enchanted Inc.
Once Upon Stilettos
Damsel Under Stress

July’s Audio Recommendations:

His Dark Materials Series by Philip Pullman and recorded by Full Cast Audio

This is a very dark series about a parallel world in which a person’s soul lives outside his/her body in the form of a dæmon. The story centers around Lyra and her dæmon, Pantolimon, who are swept up in a dangerous plot involving disappearing children and the controversy over a mysterious entity known as “dust.” The story is full of wonderful creatures like armor clad polar bears, witches, and “gyptians.” It is sometimes hard to tell the good guys from the bad in this struggle to control the universe. Some readers may find the religious views expressed in the later books disturbing. However, it is a beautifully written fantasy that has appeal for both juveniles and adults. Bruce Coville’s Full Cast Audio, brings Pullman’s words to life with an astounding intensity. Be careful if you listen to this book while driving. It is too easy to get caught up in Lyra’s world.
Titles in storyline order:
The Golden Compass
The Subtle Knife
The Amber Spyglass

That’s all for this month. Be sure to visit your local library. It’s your gateway to many different worlds. Whatever you do, be sure to make time for a good book.

PS. Editor’s Note:

Even though I knew there were 3 copies of the latest Harry Potter book waiting for me in my mailbox, I could not help taking out some of our vacation time to attend Border’s Midnight Release party and pick up another copy for the long drive home. Not having attended one before, it was worth it just to experience all the hoopla. And, yes, I finished the last book way before we reached home. I won’t give anything away. I will just say J. K. Rowling is a master story teller.