Wednesday, November 2, 2011

True Love

I'm in love with Goodreads! How did I not know about this website before!?!?! If you love books, you must go there now, and be prepared to spend a looooong time there. :) It has everything- reviews, ratings, book giveaways, book groups. Book heaven.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Castle Waiting

I've recently finished reading a fantastic gem of a graphic novel called Castle Waiting, written by Linda Medley. It is a wonderful, gentle story about the strange inhabitants of a curious castle that serves as a haven for outcasts and oddballs. I'm not generally a fantasy fan, but this is such a great good time that I'd recommend it for anyone!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Authors Who Are Obviously Not Parents (Or Shouldn’t Be)

Here are a couple of picture books you don’t want your kids to read.

The first offender is I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont. All you really need to do is look at the image on the cover of the child painting on his own face to know you don’t want your little ball-of-fire to read it. This book got great reviews from respected sources, but I thought it was awful.

The second offender is Mabel O'Leary Put Peas in Her Ear-y by Mary Delaney. This little gem also received good reviews. Call me a stick-in-the-mud, but who believes that real children need any sort of encouragement to stick things in their assorted holes? Anyone? Anyone?

As a parent, it is clear to me that the folks who wrote these books either a) have no children, b) don’t understand their children c) don’t actually observe their children in action d) have children too young to read and/or e) will never allow their children to read the book they wrote.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Relax with a Good Book. In Whatever Format.

Our collective cultural anxiety over the print vs. digital issue is really bothering me today. I just read yet another rehash of the issue at Publishers Weekly called The Digital Revolution in Children's Publishing.

Personally, I am a die-hard print fan who hates reading on the computer, beyond work-related requirements. That doesn’t mean that I’m not interested in seeing where the whole print vs. digital issue will go, or how it will be resolved. I don’t think that’ll happen for decades, however. And frankly, I’ve become terribly tired of reading about yet another panel, conference, debate or discussion about who, what, where, when, why and how digital will supplant print as the format of choice. We need to take a breath, step back and let this all go wherever it will. Our apparent need to analyze, meta-analyze and re-analyze does not allow us to predict or control the future.

So take a break, everyone. Maybe let the future sort itself out while you relax with a good book.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Just a Little Love/Hate Relationship with the Twilight Series

I’ve just finished New Moon and begun Eclipse. I know, I know, I’m waaaay behind the curve.

Bear with me.

I put off reading this series because 1) I’m not a romance fan and 2) Everyone else was reading it, which is often the kiss of death for a book, as far as I’m concerned. I do, however, love a good horror novel, and this series seems to at least flirt with that genre. So, I took the plunge.

At the midway point in the series, I am enjoying the vampire/werewolf aspect of the story, but seriously struggling with the romance/damsel in distress aspects. I’d like to klonk Bella on the head more often than not. I know, she is a realistic portrayal of some young women. I much prefer my heroines in the mold of Katniss in Hunger Games, though. Gimme a girrrrl who can kick some butt and I’m a happy woman.

Many others, including University of Missouri professors Melissa Click, Jennifer Stephens Aubrey and Elizabeth Behm-Morawitz, have been bitten by the ‘Twilight’ bug (or, perhaps, sparkly vampire), helping to propel the books and movies based on them into a national phenomenon.

These professors have published Bitten by Twilight: Youth Culture, Media, & the Vampire Franchise. This collection of essays offers a critical feminist examination of the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer as well as exploring the marketing and media attention surrounding the books and subsequent movies. In a telephone interview, author Jennifer Aubrey explained to me that they wanted to conduct a serious critical examination of Twilight and welcomed the opportunity to look at the fandom of girls and women, which is often culturally devalued.

In the book’s prologue, the professors make clear that they are fans of the Twilight series. Approaching their work on the book from a fan’s perspective did not stop them from offering feminist criticism on elements of the stories, such as the traditional gender roles of the often-helpless protagonist Bella and the strong-but-silent vampire Edward, who dashingly comes to her rescue time and time again.

The authors believe that at the core of the Twilight series is a love story that speaks deeply to many women. Aubrey explained that many women and girls, whether they identify as feminists or not, recognize that elements of the stories are stereotypical and somewhat disturbing, such as Edward’s stalker-like behavior with Bella. Nevertheless, they love the stories, and some of the participants in the authors’ research were as perplexed as anyone by their deep interest in the series. I feel comforted knowing that I have lots of confused company out there!

Despite this widespread popularity with women, or perhaps because of this, the books, the movies made from them and the series author Meyer have been labeled as trivial. Bestselling author Stephen King, who has himself been criticized as not ‘literary’ enough, finds fault with Stephenie Meyer’s writing, saying she ‘can’t write worth a darn.’

Modern-day gender bias may explain why critics have been so ready to dismiss the series’ popularity. Despite the increasing equality of women in our society, the cultural devaluation of women’s interests remains disappointingly the same.

At the close of the book’s introduction the authors explain: ‘We hope these chapters provoke discussion of Twilight’s cultural impact, awareness of the dismissive treatment of girls’ and women’s media interests, and support for future scholarship examining female-oriented media texts and female audiences.’

For now, though, the dismissal of the Twilight series in the popular media means that serious examination of the works will remain firmly in the ambivalent hands of Twilight fans everywhere.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bibliophile Love: The Oxford Companion to the Book

Here’s a book that makes my heart go pitter-patter. Oxford University press is publishing The Oxford Companion to the Book. It’s a two volume set at 1,327 pages that contains everything a bibliophile could ever want to know about books. Now if I can just somehow justify the $275 expenditure… Maybe someday when the second edition arrives, I’ll find a used first edition at a bargain price. Or maybe I’ll have won the lottery by then.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sarah Palin, Who Needs Her? Kids Biography Cancelled

Here’s a little tidbit that caught my eye this morning. It seems that the Sarah Palin biography for kids, titled Speaking Up: The Sarah Palin Story, that Zondervan Publishing had planned for an October 2010 release has been delayed indefinitely, and that was news to the author. A search for the title at comes up empty- the book has already been wiped from that database. A search at, however, hits paydirt (for now)! Could be the tip of the iceberg of an interesting story. Or not.