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Posts Tagged ‘Patricia Briggs’

Armed with nothing more than a mere paper list and 2 canvas bags, I prepared to do battle in the County Fairgrounds Grange Building, to find hidden treasure at the Annual Library Book Sale.

BookSale2014-AllBooks2

And find treasure I did!!

On my list were several broad categories … first I was looking for a particular chapter book series for my friend’s son, then books on model trains for another friend and particular cookbooks for another friend and myself. But then … I had a list of MG and YA novels and adult fiction strictly for my own reading pleasure. Some of these were Newbery winners or honor books that I’d been trying to find for awhile, others were books gathered from the 100 book bucket lists from an earlier post, some recommended by friends. What would I find?

Book Sale Books3 hours and a terribly aching neck later, I did quite well. Let’s take a closer look.

At left we have the known writers up top and books on my list below. The top 3 are among my favorite authors – Patricia Briggs, fabulous writer of urban fantasy and the Mercy Thompson series with Raven’s Strike, Alice Hoffman with  Incantation which in theme seems to be along the line of recently enjoyed The Dovekeepers, and Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Dreams which I’ve been wanting to read for some time, and found quite unexpectedly.

Another Jerry Spinelli MG classic, Milkweed, and Almost Home another MG by Joan Bauer of Hope Was Here, plus a healthy kitchen book by another fave of mine, Dr. Andrew Weil, and the only book of Nicholas Evans, of The Horse Whisperer fame, that I haven’t read, The Divide. Below them, books I’ve had on a list for awhile –  YA Schooled by Anisha Lakmani, and MG The Underneath by Kathi Appelt and Crispin, the Cross of Lead by Avi.

I also found the next book after The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls’ Half Broke Horses about her grandmother Smith whom we met in her memoir. I am so impressed by Walls’ writing that I was hoping to find this book and The Silver Star but am real happy about at least getting one of them. The Liars’ Club by Mary Karr is another much-praised memoir, and Water for Elephants also has gotten rave reviews if I can get through what I hear is a fair amount of brutality to the elephants. They could lose me there; we shall see.

BookSale2014-Stack1-2And on to the lucky finds … I was looking for The Giver by Lois Lowry, but found instead Gathering Blue, perhaps dark, but intriguing, as may be the collection of short stories by Neil Gaiman, Smoke and Mirrors. The Te of Piglet is a companion to the Tao of Pooh which I already own and love – a can’t miss for me.  Shanghai Girls by Lisa See seems to have the flavor of Memoir of A Geisha which was outstanding, and The Red Leather Diary is a book I remember reading about being excellent some time ago. A surprise and hopefully another treasure.

I was first introduced to The Whale Rider as a movie about the New Zealand Maori tribe, specifically Kahu, a girl who should receive this sacred honor by lineage but which is only bestowed upon boys and men. It was excellent and I was thrilled to stumble upon the book by Witi Ihimaera. I am trying a sci-fi book by C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet. I am not generally a sci-fi fan, but this sounded great. I also found The Hearts of Horses by Molly Gloss, The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle and Horses and the Mystical Path by three McCormicks, because what would my (reading) life be if not inclusive of animals? (And yes, 2 cookbooks are in that pile, too!)

Today I feel rich, very rich. I didn’t find a bunch of the books on my list, but am more than happy with what will keep me engrossed for quite some time. The ones I couldn’t find? They’re on a new list under a magnet on my fridge, and whenever I am so inspired, I can toddle on over and pick them up from my local library, where I’ll also sit and soak up picture books to feed the writer and illustrator within.

Oh, and not to mention I am waiting for my inter-library loan of Deborah Harkness’ second book The Shadow of Night. Sometimes it seems crazy that something so simple can bring such happiness, but such a good crazy!

 

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I find there are periods of time in which I am all over the place. I’m working on several graphics jobs that call upon very different mindsets, am fielding a proposal to do a new job, wondering when I should follow up on something I am waiting to hear back on, when I’ll get the time, (or desire), to simply pull the remaining paperwork from my files so I can put away all my 2010 tax stuff, and it goes on and on.

I finally used my Barnes & Noble’s gift card from Christmas – bought the reference book I’ll need for some of my characters in the picture book I’ll be bringing with me to the upcoming NJ SCBWI June Conference, and surprise! David Cook’s CD, (yup, from American Idol.) Usually, when I work at my desk, I listen to new age, light classical piano or guitar, or Indian (American) music because I can’t do creative writing when someone is singing lyrics, but lately, when on other types of work, I find myself listening to the radioio IDOLS station in iTunes. Sometimes I watch the show, sometimes not – this year I seem to be interested. I do know, however, when I hear David Cook’s voice, I hear something I like, so he’ll be arriving in a few days. And then I went to read a bit about Patricia Briggs’ latest in the Mercy Thompson series, River Marked, but let’s not go there just yet.

Forrest Gump arrived today. I must be the only person on the planet who hasn’t seen Forrest Gump, but so be it. I, unlike a friend of mine, am a constant juggler of movies in my queue. He just adds something, and when it comes up, it comes up. Not me. I seem to ponder how it will fit in with the current tenor of my life, my feelings, etc. Do I want to laugh? (or need to?) Am in the frame of mind to deal with something powerful and disturbing? I can’t say how many times I have pushed Hotel Rwanda down as it begins to surface in my queue. And I just watched Alice in Wonderland, which I really enjoyed a lot. Makes me think that maybe when I’m done my current book, that I’ll read Alice – she’s a fixture on my bookshelf.

Now watching Alice in Wonderland and Forrest Gump may be an offset to that current book – The Kite Runner. I was told it was a very sad book. I didn’t ask why my friend found it so, so am discovering the many levels of sadness for myself. Certainly, reading a book like this makes it that much more obvious what fabulous, often spoiled, lives we are living here in the land of the free and home of the brave. Visualizing the bombed ruins of Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan and the cruelty of the Taliban as described by the author is sobering to say the least. And it made me think of how that happened here in its own way, except that the victims weren’t Afghani people, they were native Americans.

Imagining the abject poverty the Afghan people were subjected to is heartbreaking, but that same poverty is also right here in America. Many of those living on reservations are living in conditions that are below those of third world countries, yet no one ever talks about it. Or even seems to know. Indians have the highest rate of poverty of any group in the United States.

Years ago at a pow-wow, I saw this great tee shirt. It was funny, well, no – not funny – more ironic. Clever. Ultimately, more sad than anything else. It features Geronimo and several other Indians, the tee shirt saying – Homeland Security – Fighting Terrorism since 1492. Here it is – you can order it at Northern Sun along with many items which have something to say. Was their experience so different than what happened in Afghanistan? Their world destroyed, families killed, homes taken away, forced to live where their terrorists demanded. It was a very dark chapter in American history. I wonder if that history is being taught. Or that this impoverished way of life, so unlike our own, continues on in many parts of this country. Or are we all just too busy?

Well, rambling I am. I also wonder when one of my cats will get past the hairball she seems to be harboring somewhere in her digestive tract, and which she feels compelled to try and push up in the vicinity of 2 – 4 a.m.

And I can’t wait to start photographing my friend’s little boy, my model for the MC in aforementioned picture book. Yeah, just all over.

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Or perhaps I should say what I’ve been reading, but haven’t been blogging about. It seems there are just times when blogging about books isn’t as compelling as reading them and moving on to the next one. Here’s my book list over the last few months from the most recent back …

Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli – what a wonderful, extraordinarily well-written YA novel.  Truly this book deserves to be written about at great length, (and I’m sure has been elsewhere on the web), but as this being only the second of Jerry Spinelli’s books I’ve read, I must say how impressed I am. Told in the first person by a child who only knows his name to be stop thief, the tale takes place in 1939 during the Nazi occupation of Warsaw. How the lives of everyone changed as the Jackboots settled in the city, as Jews and others were herded into the newly-created ghetto and later forced onto trains, as people slowly starved, as smugglers were hung, and friends made and lost is what the author describes. Stop thief goes through many transformations during this time, including being given a history as a gypsy to try and protect him, and observes the horrors of the Nazi occupation. Yet somehow, these horrors became an integral part of everyday life in ways I cannot imagine, and the story is seamlessly told through the eyes of this child. Milkweed is so different from The Book Thief, and seemed so much more accessible to me, for lack of a better word. I highly recommend it.

Bunnicula, The Howliday Inn and The Celery Stalks at Midnight by James Howe (and Deborah Howe in Bunnicula only) – I had expected more of Bunnicula, the vampire bunny, but in these three consecutive middle grade mysteries, each becomes better than the previous with funny dog and cat characters trying to solve them. The best of the three for me was The Howliday Inn, as it was the most complex and the humor was getting better, too.

Great Joy – Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline – I picked this picture book up for the magnificent illustrations, but was disappointed in the story. And I really do enjoy DiCamillo’s writing. Something was missing for me, but the illos were fabulous.

Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins – this YA novel is a Newbery winner. For me, it wasn’t as absorbing as many of the other YA novels I’ve been reading, but it was a very true-to-life depiction of  that awkward time when kids grow into adolescents. It takes place in the 60’s, and shows the growth of several young boys and girls and their relationships. Not heavy on plot, but nice – and nicely drawn –  characters.

Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman – this was unexpected as I hadn’t realized it would be a graphic novel/picture book! For some reason I had expected a YA novel like The Graveyard Book (yet to be read). However, I loved the story and the fabulous illustrations by Dave McKean, who also did Coraline, and which really make this book come alive.

Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen – a story of an abused woman, who finally reaches out to get help to save her life, taking her son with her as well. This help takes place in being given another identity and being relocated in another part of the country by a little publicized agency who specializes in helping abused women. However, Fran Benedetto cannot escape her police officer husband forever as he wants his 10 year old son back, and somewhere, in an untold story behind hers, is searching for both of them. This book is hard to put down, and recounts, through her eyes, the “accidents” that she can no longer bear nor justify to others, and her new life which almost seems normal. The abuse is harrowing and painful to read at times, and her new life is always overshadowed for the reader with the anxiety of Bobby finding her. A good read.

Heaven Eyes by David Almond – a YA novel by one of my favorite authors. Almond’s characters and plots are so uniquely his own. There is a magic threading through all of his stories which happens to resonate with something in me every time without fail. Heaven Eyes is a child who is living with an elderly man who saved her from the muck outside a deserted industrial site. Three runaways from an orphanage up the river land on the edge of the brackish mud adjacent to where she lives, and their intertwining stories unfold slowly to reveal a deeply disturbed man and a child who’s been given a history not based in reality. The three orphans are well-drawn characters in their own right with their own history, and find drama and revelation in their encounter with Heaven Eyes and Grandpa. Ultimately, they  must decide to stay in an unreal environment or hope to return to the world from which they came, bringing Heaven Eyes and her spirituality with them. A Fantastic read, (and I’m truly not doing it justice here.)

No Small Thing by Natalie Ghent – a middle-grade novel about 3 children who acquire an unwanted pony during very rough times for their family. Their mother tries to keep it together after their father walked out on them, profoundly affecting them all. It is a story in part about the responsibilities of owning a pet, but also of the children’s relationships, caring for one another and managing their lives together. Some good spots, but for me, was just OK.

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs – from the Alpha and Omega Series. Fabulous. The first Briggs novel I read was Moon Called, and this is a storyteller whose books I cannot put down!

During this time I am reading one or more metaphysical books on an ongoing basis, but that, for another time …

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Sometimes I like to read literature, read in my field, (children’s books), something enlightening and inspiring, or perhaps a good, complex novel. I like a variety of things.

Sometimes I am in a place where I want to read something totally engaging which sucks me in hard and doesn’t let me go until I’m done and all but spits me out.

And that’s what I got when I read Moon Called by Patricia Briggs. A writer friend’s husband thought I might like this, (how did he get my number?!), and lent it to me. Was he right! Now I wouldn’t have actually sought out a book written in first person by a woman who’s a Volkswagen mechanic and who’s also a coyote shapeshifter, and whose life is intertwined with werewolves. I wouldn’t have known it existed. But now I do.

What a fast, fabulous, can’t-put-it-down novel! The storyline is solid and very well told with just the right amount of factual information woven in about werewolves to keep the plot moving along, but never leaving me feel like I was being educated. Our heroine, Mercedes Thompson, a.k.a. Mercy, is a well-developed, engaging character. The pace is very fast, and wrapped around Mercy’s friend Stefan, a vampire, a witch who is a “cleaner”, and some involvement of the local fae, it’s totally absorbing.  The backdrop is the local werewolf clan, headed by Mercy’s next door neighbor and pack Alpha, Adam.

I realize as I write this, that Moon Called could sound almost hokey, but truly, it’s not. It’s a complex story in the nature and motives of the characters and very well-written. So much so, that you’ll see that the book I am now reading is the next in the Mercy Thompson series, Blood Bound. I can only hope it’s as good!

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