Feature Fun Friday - Luminous Book Teaser

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Shield of Faith by The Immediate.

Now here is a book I've been really excited about, ever since I first heard of it - LUMINOUS by Dawn Metcalf. This book seems to have all fascinating, dark, and unique elements combined together that I love in a book. And with the trailer just being released, I figure now is the perfect time to hype up the love on this one. This was done by a group of students at The New England Institute of Art. I'll be the first to say it is not perfect since it does little to tell anything about the characters (or ethnicity) or story, but I think it does serve as a good teaser...

I bet you weren't expecting that ending, right? The teaser leads perfectly into the description below.

As reality slips and time stands still, Consuela finds herself thrust into the world of the Flow. Removed from all she loves into this shifting world overlapping our own, Consuela quickly discovers she has the power to step out of her earthly skin and cloak herself in new ones-skins made from the world around her, crafted from water, fire, air. She is joined by other teens with extraordinary abilities, bound together to safeguard a world they can affect, but where they no longer belong.

When murder threatens to undo the Flow, the Watcher charges Consuela and elusive, attractive V to stop the killer. But the psychopath who threatens her new world may also hold the only key to Consuela's way home.

Like I said, this book sounds awesome, right? And ohmygosh the COVER! I am so in love with this cover I can't stop staring at it. Keep your eye out for this one, it comes out in just a couple of months. I hope you have a great weekend in store for yourselves!

The Hunger Games Lamb and Plum Stew - UPDATED!

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Mockingbird by Rob Thomas.

Okay, recap. I love food. I love recipes that magically turn into food. I like to invent recipes, (particularly from novels I love) that magically turn into food from their world that I can eat. And I'm rather good at it, too.

My very first recipe I ever invented on this blog was for THE HUNGER GAMES. I cannot tell you how I agonized over which recipe I would choose (there is so much food in there! I almost ended up rereading the first two books just looking for more), but in the end I decided on what Katniss declared was her favorite meal at the Capitol - lamb and plum stew.

And just so we don't freak anyone out, we're just getting this out of the way now: prunes are the plum equivalent of raisins and grapes. So fear not. They are yummy, I promise.

I debuted it on my first video log, but recently I decided this one needed a revisit to refine and hone this baby. The first was good, but it wasn't quite THERE. I can't say I've completely mastered this yet, but this is much much closer. So presented for you now is new and improved recipe for The Hunger Games Lamb and Plum Stew / Capitol Lamb and Plum Stew / Katniss's Lamb and Plum Stew!

The Hunger Games Lamb and Plum Stew

1 lb. Lamb meat
1 large Onion
10-13 pitted Prunes
1-2 C. Water
4 large Carrots
5 medium Potatoes
3 tsp. Red Wine Vinegar
2 tsp. Brown Sugar
1 good pinch Rosemary (about 1 tsp.)
3 stalks of Celery
1 Bell Pepper (any color)
Salt and Pepper to taste


Grape Juice to taste--for flavor (less than 1/4 C. I would think)
Juice Drippings from the crock pot
Salt and Pepper to taste
Water, if needed

Rice/Wild Rice**

1. Cut up lamb into very small, bite-sized pieces. Roughly chop 1/3 of the onion. Add the lamb, onion and plums into a crock pot set on low (250-275 degrees if your crock pot has a temperature gauge). Add the water. Cover and let set for four hours.

2. Four-five hours before you plan on eating, cut up the carrots and potatoes and add them to the crock pot. Stir. Add the Red Wine Vinegar and Brown Sugar. Aim for lumps of meat for the Brown Sugar, and pour the vinegar over everything. Add the Rosemary.

3. About 1.5-2 hours before you plan on eating, cut up the celery stalks, bell pepper, and the rest of the onion. Add them to the mix. Add more water if it is needed.

4. 20-30 minutes before you're ready to eat, cook some rice (about 2 C. rice is what I think you will need. I used brown rice, but you may use whatever you wish. The book calls for wild rice, but that's, you know, expensive.) Once the vegetables are soft to your desired texture, make the gravy.

5. Gravy. Suck up all of the juices from the stew (yummy) and place in pot on the stove. Add flour in small amounts, by the teaspoon, and whisk like crazy over low heat (if you know how to make a slurry, you're even better off). Try to make it smooth and keep it from clumping. Depending on how much stew juices you have, you may have to add water to help supplement it, or to thin it out if the gravy has become too thick. Add salt and pepper. Add the grape juice in small increments. Taste and tweak until it is the desirable mixture of sweet and savory.

6. Leave the gravy in a separate pot (or add it back in now to the stew if you wish). Scoop meat and vegetables on top of a plates of rice. Pour gravy over the top. Viola. Feast and enjoy. :)

**You can also pour it over a bed of "wild rice" if you so desire (that part is in the book if you want to be really authentic). This is a 2-to-1 step. Double the portion of water for whatever measurement of rice you are using and cover it. Let the water boil off until the rice is soft and viola.

Monday's Muse, 32nd edition.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Kilmeny by Mediaeval Baebes.

The idea of Monday's Muse is to introduce you to unknown, forgotten, or overlooked fiction that has been lost from regular radar. I am WriterGirl. I am in the business of saving lives, one book at a time.

What I do is go to amazon, narrow it down to a YA field and type in a random word, any word that comes to mind. I then take a sampling of some I have never heard of before, or only vaguely heard of (and hopefully you as well). No infringement is intended for any description I take for the books. It's purely for promotional reasons. I will try and cover as many genres as possible that are fitting for the random word. Simple but it really uncovers some incredible gems. I will be doing this every other Monday. If there are any words you want to prompt me with, go ahead and fire away.

Today's random word:

Betrayal by Mayandree Michel.

At seventeen, Cordelia is an ordinary teen with an extraordinary and frightening secret. A secret that induces vivid dreams which she not only experiences true love, but crippling fear while barely escaping with her life each night.

After a life altering event, Cordelia has an unexpected encounter with Evan, the mysterious boy from her dreams, who reveals who and what she is – a descendant of the Greek gods. At that moment everything she knows of her world is a lie, and she must leave the present and go into the past to assume the role she was put on this earth for – safeguarding her ancient empire amidst evil forces that toil hastily to destroy it.

In a race against time, Cordelia must decide if she is truly a part of this dangerous world, or risk defying the gods, and ultimately lose the boy who has put a claim on her heart.

The Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1 by PJ Haarsma.

Johnny Turnbull has spent all of his 12 years aboard the seed-ship Renaissance en route to the Rings of Orbis. Due to a mechanical problem, the adults on the spaceship perished long before Johnny and the other young passengers were born (they were stored as embryos and raised by the ship's computer). When they arrive on Orbis 1, the orphans quickly learn that they will be forced to work for the Guarantors (alien businessmen) in order to pay off their dead parents' debt for their passage. Johnny is immediately identified as the first human softwire, someone with the ability to enter and manipulate a computer with his mind. Because of his gift, he is a prime suspect when the central computer of Orbis 1 begins to malfunction. He must prove his innocence and solve the mystery of the mechanical failures before time runs out. The author deftly introduces the futuristic setting without getting bogged down in long and detailed descriptive passages, and the brisk plot will keep the interest of reluctant readers. Although a few of the secondary characters are not fully developed, Johnny and his sister are well drawn, and the scenes between the two are skillfully crafted. The first in a planned quartet, this book is a good selection for science-fiction fans. –Melissa Christy Buron, Epps Island Elementary, Houston, TX, School Library Journal

The Betrayal of Maggie Blair by Elizabeth Laird.

In seventeenth-century Scotland, saying the wrong thing can lead to banishment—or worse. Accused of being a witch, sixteen-year-old Maggie Blair is sentenced to be hanged. She escapes, but instead of finding shelter with her principled, patriotic uncle, she brings disaster to his door.

Betrayed by one of her own accusers, Maggie must try to save her uncle and his family from the king’s men, even if she has to risk her own life in the process.

Tamar: A Novel of Espionage, Passion, and Betrayal by Mal Peet.

It was her taciturn but beloved grandfather, William Hyde, who gave Tamar her strange name. But in 1995, when she was 15, he committed suicide, leaving her to wonder if she knew him at all. Later, when she opens the box of War II memorabilia that he left her, she's struck by the need to find out what it means, who he really was, and where she fits in. Tension mounts incrementally in an intricate wrapping of wartime drama and secrecy, in which Tamar finds her namesake and herself. Forming the backbone of the novel are intense, sometimes brutal events in a small Dutch town in Nazi-occupied Holland and the relationship between the girl's namesake, a member of the Dutch Resistance; Dart, a code operator assigned to help him; and Marijke, the love of his life. Peet's plot is tightly constructed, and striking, descriptive language, full of metaphor, grounds the story. Most of the characters are adults here, and to some readers, the Dutch history, though deftly woven through the story, will seem remote. But Peet's sturdy, emotionally resonant characterizations and dramatic backdrop will pull readers forward, as will the secret that gradually unravels. Despite foreshadowing, the outcome is still a stunner. Winner of Britain's 2005 Carnegie Medal, this powerful story will grow richer with each reading. --Stephanie Zvirin, Booklist

Compass in the Blood by William E. Coles Jr.

A scandalous 1902 criminal case in Pittsburgh is the inspiration for Coles's (Another Kind of Monday) sassy, suspenseful YA novel. Dee Armstrong, a freshman journalism student at the University of Pittsburgh, is fascinated by one of the city's most notorious crimes. Kate Soffel, wife of a prison warden, was accused and convicted of an adulterous affair with a prisoner, and of assisting the prisoner and his brother in a jailbreak. Dee wrote an award-winning paper on the topic and its sensational press coverage during her senior year of high school. Now her obsession with the case has led her to reexamine it. A controversial and power-hungry TV journalist who produced a documentary on Soffel approaches Dee, in response to a letter the teen wrote, and asks Dee to help discover Soffel's "real" story. Dee soon finds herself meeting one of Soffel's relatives, scouring local cemeteries and fighting off the backstabbing TV woman. Coles provides copious but never tedious historical details that drape his story in authenticity. Dee and her friends make a likable detective team, even though they sometimes arrive at conclusions too conveniently. Their playful, honest exchanges keep the proceedings on track. A subplot about Dee's mother feels tacked on, but does not detract from the book's main thrust. Most intriguing of all, though, is Coles's revelation in an author's note that he eventually located Soffel's final resting place and is bound to secrecy regarding its whereabouts. --Publisher's Weekly.

Age of Bronze, Vol. 1: A Thousand Ships by Eric Shanower.

Shanower won 2001's Will Eisner Comics Industry Award for Best Writer/Artist for this extraordinary project: the first part of a seven-volume graphic novel about the Trojan War. He has researched every imaginable source about the war, from ancient legends to medieval romances to contemporary scholarship, and synthesized them into a fantastically rich narrative. He's also delved deep into the architectural history of Mycenaean Greece, so that the dress and settings in the book look like Bronze Age artifacts, rather than the Classical Greek styles normally associated with the story. The book begins with the story of Paris, the milk-white bull and the kidnapping of Helen, and goes up to the start of the war Shanower still has a ways to travel before touching the material of the Iliad. He treats the material as historical fiction rather than mythology, as a tale of people, not of gods, though the supernatural aspects of the story are worked in through dreams and visions. Shanower subtly alters his visual style for every flashback sequence: when Priam relates the story of Herakles, the images are cartoonish and the characters larger than life. His dialogue is formal but not florid, and the narrative flow is clear and simple. But the story also has many amazing scenes for an artist the erotic entanglement of Achilles and Deidamia, the feigned madness of Odysseus, the launching of the thousand ships to rescue Helen and lay waste to Troy and Shanower makes the most of them, with a fine-lined style in black and white drawings evoking woodcuts and classical paintings. --Publisher's Weekly.

Feature Fun Friday - The Hobbit Start of Production!!!

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Hands by Jewel.

I am deliriously giddy about this. This was ten minutes of pure joy wrapped in a happiness bun. Trust me, if you liked the movie/books, they are worth every single minute. Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!

I WISH I'd had classes like this!

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): The Cave by Mumford and Sons.

I love this. Can I say how much I love this? I LOVE this. It's a program called One School, One Book and it is exactly what it sounds like. An entire school reads a book and does projects, classes and extracurricular activities to incorporate it across the curriculum. The one that first introduced me to this and had me jumping up and down and screaming myself giddy was Lakeshore High School, which recently did The Hunger Games as their pick for One School, One Book.

The night was filled with informative and fun displays that educated those not familiar with the "One Book, One School" program. Talented music students attended to perform their original compositions about "The Hunger Games" and the theme of survival that dominates the series. There were also several "experiments" in the science wing dedicated to Suzanne Collins’ novel.

Yes. That IS a wood girl in a science lab. On FIRE.

Oh the possibilities! Seriously, I wish I had had something like this when I was in elementary/jr. high/high school. Yeah, I'm sure some of the assemblies could be very lame, but the benefits are seriously outweighing the potential dumb parts (again, refer to girl on fire. I would have killed to have a chemistry class like that!).

I'm already imagining other books. Astronomy with Across the Universe, the mechanics and physics of moving a castle (Howl's Moving Castle), cloning and social classes (House of the Scorpion), Graceling gym class O.O ...

Which book would you have liked to have had across the board classes about in high school? Anything coming to mind?

Review - The Lady and the Lion by Laurel Long and Jacqueline K. Ogburn

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): The Shadow Proves the Sunshine by Switchfoot.

My reviews are a bit different than most. As an undercover superhero (ordinary girl extraordinaire), my purpose is to try and uncover hidden gems lost from the familiar radar. Because of this, I have set up some guidelines for myself (just like the pirate code). :)

I will focus on YA and Children's literature (with very rare exceptions).
I will not review any book that is one of the top 25,000 bestselling books (based on Amazon ranks).
I will try and aim for books 100,000 or larger.
I will review recent books or books of great merit (preferably both).

The Lady and the Lion by Laurel Long and Jacqueline K. Ogburn
Published: October 27, 2003
Publisher: Dial
Pages: 32
Current Amazon Rank: #677,399 (out of print?)
Author's Website: Here
Want it? Find it here.

The First Line:

Once upon a time, a merchant asked his three daughters what he should bring them from the city.

My Take:

This is a picture book. But don't underestimate it because of that. This is a fairy tale retelling straight from the the Brother's Grimm that few seem to know exists. They never had a Beauty and the Beast story. That came from Madame Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve (more famously abridged and adapted by Mme Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, both in the 18th century). This is as close to Beauty and the Beast you'll find in their pages, but at the same time, it is much more.

It starts out much the same, with the father making a grievous error of judgment and it is his youngest daughter who must pay the price. But of course the lion is not as cruel as he first seems, nor as ordinary. But here comes the first twist. He turns into a human at night. And she can see him, but cannot shed the light of a candle on him. In time they fall and love and marry. But that is only the beginning of the story...

(All I can say is it involves dresses, a quest, an ocean, and a flying griffin. Eat your heart out Beauty and the Beast).

The story is great and yet again I have to wonder how some stories are so remembered and others fall to the wayside. This one is definitely worth a good dusting, even with the coughing fits that may ensue. But the illustrations! Oh my goodness, they are gorgeous. Intricate, detailed, and completely mesmerizing. The book is worth it for the illustrations alone. Luckily, the story is just as engaging, and you'll wonder where this "familiar" fairy tale will turn next.

The Final Word: For the gorgeous illustrations and a different take on a familiar fairy tale, it is worth every page and every word of this stunning picture book.

Nothing Important, but equally more so because of it.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Mia Pu Serena by Emma Shaplin

This isn't always about something big or important. Sometimes, I like to post about the simple things, because they can often be the most important of all. There is beauty in even the smallest of things.

Feature Fun Friday - Blogoversay Special! If I Stay by Gayle Formwan Timelapse

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): The Downeaster "Alexa" by Billy Joel.

This is a very special FFF. It's my third year blogoversary! I can't believe I've been on this little blog for three years. It's kind of incredible. No, it is incredible, and the fact that you've been here for so much of it. Thank you. No really, thank you. So here is my blogoversary present to you. It's actually what I did to celebrate my second blogoversary (heh heh *draws line with toe*). Yes, I am terrible about timing, but I do everything I can to keep my promises. I asked what my followers wanted to see last year and of course they voted on a crazy antic. Somehow it got narrowed down and decided I would do a sidewalk chalk drawing of a book cover. (I felt like a kid again. It was awesome).

I decided on Gayle Forman's best-selling work, IF I STAY, because, 1. it is a well-known and emotionally powerful story and 2. most of the cover is in pastels. Which most sidewalk chalk seems destined to be produced in these days. *shakes fist at sidewalk chalk gods* I will let you know, I've never attempted anything like this before. This is pure diving in blind, right before your eyes. I don't think I'd touched a piece of sidewalk chalk since I was in elementary school. So this was doubly scary. And fun. On top of that, it was WINDY. I mean mega-where-is-Dorothy's-house kind of windy. Shingles were blown off roofs. A tree in my neighborhood was knocked over. But I'd planned it and by golly, I was going to do it. :) In all, it took 11 pieces of chalk (eight of which were blue) and a little over 3 1/2 hours. There are over 2000 photos shot.

The song is by the relatively underground Jenny Dalton, who was gracious and all kinds of wonderful, giving me permission to use it for this video. It is called "Snow Mazes of Norway" and was written for a 24 hour songwriting contest about her brother. It sings about Norway, but the tone and images felt so perfect for this story, considering the snowy day that changed Mia's life forever. And I loved how the repetition of the piano melody felt like falling snow. Plus her voice is just beautiful. So, HAPPY BLOGOVERSARY! And I'm just happy this fell just a week after Where She Went came out. ^_^

ETA: It is my two-year blogoversary. It spans from 2009 to 2011, but doesn't, you know, actually cover all three of those years. *blushes and hides*


Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): King of Lullaby by Eiffel 65.

It's hard to say how I feel about libraries. They are a very real and integral part of me. So please excuse my self indulgence because this is a random amalgamation of links dedicated just to them. :)

First, from Finding Dulcinea, the World's Greatest Libraries, past and present. There is of course the great library of Alexandria, but there is also the Yuju Temple library of 7th century China and the Pergamum.

About a hundred years after the great Library of Alexandra was formed, another great library was established. After the ruler of Egypt banned the export of papyrus (the plant used to make paper) it is thought that parchment was developed in the city of Pergamum—in modern-day Turkey—which made possible the copying of books outside of Egypt, and the development of the Library at Pergamum. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, eventually the library, along with the entire city, was turned over to Rome, and some think that its collection was given to Cleopatra to become part of the Library of Alexandria.

It also covers modern libraries like the Library of Congress and the Queen's Library. Click here to read the rest of the article.

Here is a Wikipedia link to a list of larger libraries in the ancient world.

And here is something that made my heart melt into a puddle of joy and giddiness on the floor. 20 of the Most Beautiful Libraries in the World from Oddee.com. What I would give to spend a night in one of these. More body parts than I'd care to admit. Just looking at these makes me want to put a library scene in one of my books. Or all of them.

Strahov Monastery, Czech Republic

Rijkmuseum, Amsterdam

And included in this list is one of the most gorgeous private libraries--I personally believe--in existence. I saw an article on it years ago that had my jaw hanging open and my heart pining. I. Want. This. Library. I want to walk into this library. I want to touch the doorknob to this library. I would die happy. It is Jay Walker's private library.

Nothing quite prepares you for the culture shock of Jay Walker's library. You exit the austere parlor of his New England home and pass through a hallway into the bibliographic equivalent of a Disney ride. Stuffed with landmark tomes and eye-grabbing historical objects—on the walls, on tables, standing on the floor—the room occupies about 3,600 square feet on three mazelike levels. Is that a Sputnik? (Yes.) Hey, those books appear to be bound in rubies. (They are.) That edition of Chaucer ... is it a Kelmscott? (Natch.) Gee, that chandelier looks like the one in the James Bond flick Die Another Day. (Because it is.) No matter where you turn in this ziggurat, another treasure beckons you—a 1665 Bills of Mortality chronicle of London (you can track plague fatalities by week), the instruction manual for the Saturn V rocket (which launched the Apollo 11 capsule to the moon), a framed napkin from 1943 on which Franklin D. Roosevelt outlined his plan to win World War II. In no time, your mind is stretched like hot taffy.

From Wired.com in an exclusive look inside. Click here to read the rest (this is one article you don't want to miss).

And I must end on a personal note. I had the opportunity to go through the Library of Congress once. It is an incredible building. Here is a picture from a highly decorated panel waaaaay up on the ceiling. Yes, that is indeed a bunch of naked guys playing baseball. If you ever get the chance, ask them to tell you the story of why it is up there. It made me smile.

Libraries are awesome.

Pre-Feature Fun Friday - Frozen Reading for National Library Week

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Vorrina Pi by E.S. Posthumus.

I have something special planned for this Friday, but I could not pass this up. If you didn't guess from Monday Muse's special word prompt, it is National Library Week. That alone is an excellent reason to visit one of the most amazing institutions in existence, in my opinion. This video combines two of my favorite things: libraries and a massive coordinated public display a la Improv Everywhere. The age range is fantastic. It seems like everyone who loves books is represented. Becky P. of the Sturbridge MA Library organized this, got a group of about 75 together, and just after 4:20 PM they froze for for five minutes. I'm most amazed about the little kids sitting so still. It's incredible to watch. To celebrate books, it's frozen reading in a mall. :)

Monday's Muse, 31st edition.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): The Plant-Boy's Song by Phillip Glass.

The idea of Monday's Muse is to introduce you to unknown, forgotten, or overlooked fiction that has been lost from regular radar. I am WriterGirl. I am in the business of saving lives, one book at a time.

What I do is go to amazon, narrow it down to a YA field and type in a random word, any word that comes to mind. I then take a sampling of some I have never heard of before, or only vaguely heard of (and hopefully you as well). No infringement is intended for any description I take for the books. It's purely for promotional reasons. I will try and cover as many genres as possible that are fitting for the random word. Simple but it really uncovers some incredible gems. I will be doing this every other Monday. If there are any words you want to prompt me with, go ahead and fire away.

Today's random word:

The Library Card by Jerry Spinelli.

A library card is a kind of magic ticket: a passport to places distant--unknown--even forbidden. In his latest offering, Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli takes that idea and spins it until the story, its characters, and all of us are dizzy, and offers it as a prize to young readers up for the ride.

The magic library card that turns up in the four separate stories in this book is a ticket to whatever each young character needs most at the time. Each story is imaginative, surprising, and well beyond the "books are good for you" theme one might expect from a tome with this title.

To the reader, it's almost Twilight Zone-y. The 12-ish kids in these stories face varied turning points as they move toward adolescence. They all find their way thanks to a mysterious blue card that seems to have materialized from nowhere.

Street kid Mongoose must decide whether to follow a friend clearly on his way to trouble or seek his own path. April, just moved from New York to an isolated farm, needs a friend. Deprived of television for a week, young Brenda must learn to handle her restlessness and figure out who, besides those goofballs on television, lives inside her head. A grieving Sonseray, barely realizing he's in need, finds comfort and a reassuring connection to his dead mother.

For many kids, the library is just that place where the Ghostbusters first got slimed. This book offers a reminder of the "real" spirits waiting on every shelf. --Amazon.com Review

Strings Attached by Judy Blundell.

From National Book Award winner Judy Blundell, the tale of a sixteen-year-old girl caught in a mix of love, mystery, Broadway glamour, and Mob retribution in 1950 New York.

When Kit Corrigan arrives in New York City, she doesn't have much. She's fled from her family in Providence, Rhode Island, and she's broken off her tempestuous relationship with a boy named Billy, who's enlisted in the army.

The city doesn't exactly welcome her with open arms. She gets a bit part as a chorus girl in a Broadway show, but she knows that's not going to last very long. She needs help--and then it comes, from an unexpected source.

Nate Benedict is Billy's father. He's also a lawyer involved in the mob. He makes Kit a deal--he'll give her an apartment and introduce her to a new crowd. All she has to do is keep him informed about Billy . . . and maybe do him a favor every now and then.

As she did in her National Book Award-winning What I Saw and How I Lied, Judy Blundell traps readers in a web of love, deceit, intrigue, and murder. The result? One stunner of a novel.

Lirael by Garth Nix [included because it has one of the best libraries in fiction].

Lirael has never felt like a true daughter of the Clayr. Now, two years past the time when she should have received the Sight that is the Clayr's birthright, she feels alone, abandoned, unsure of who she is. Nevertheless, the fate of the Old Kingdom lies in her hands. With only her faithful companion, the Disreputable Dog, Lirael must undertake a desperate mission against the growing shadow of an ancient evil.

In this sequel to Sabriel, winner of the Aurealis Award for Excellence in Australian Science Fiction, New York Times bestselling author Garth Nix weaves a spellbinding tale of discovery, destiny, and danger.

Please Bury Me in the Library by J. Patrick Lewis (Author), Kyle M. Stone (Illustrator)

A semi-swell collection of 16 poems celebrating books, reading, language, and libraries. Subjects range from Otto the Flea (who writes, of course, his "Ottobiography") to "The Big-Word Girl" (who takes her Webster's to the movies) to "Great, Good, Bad" books ("A bad book owes to many trees/A forest of apologies"). The brief selections encompass various forms, from an eight-word acrostic to haiku to rhyming quatrains and couplets. The tone is generally light, with the last few entries turning more to wonder and metaphor ("A good book is a kind/Of person with a mind/Of her own..."). Usually printed one per spread, the poems are accompanied by richly dark artwork. The thickly applied acrylic paint and mixed-media illustrations are sometimes reminiscent of the work of David Shannon, with a comically grotesque air, and add comprehension to the verses. The Lewis hallmarks are all here–clever wordplay, humor, nonsense, rhyme–though the collection doesn't have quite the spot-on snap of his best stuff. Kids will enjoy the switcheroos of "What If Books Had Different Names?" ("Alice in...Underland?/Furious George...") and the faintly macabre title poem, but others, which reach a bit for even a nonsensical point, will have less appeal. Lee Bennett Hopkins's Good Books, Good Times! (HarperCollins, 1990) and Wonderful Words (S & S, 2004), which include offerings on the same subject from many fine authors, would partner in a nice balance with Lewis's frothier nonsense. –Nancy Palmer, The Little School, Bellevue, WA School Library Journal

The Library by Sarah Stewart.

The creators of The Money Tree paint a blithe yet affectionate portrait of a woman whose life centers on reading. Elizabeth Brown's obsession begins in childhood: "She didn't like to play with dolls,/ She didn't like to skate./ She learned to read quite early/ And at an incredible rate." Stewart's nimble verse follows the bibliophile through the years as she fills her home with books. Finally, "when volumes climbed the parlor walls/ And blocked the big front door,/ She had to face the awful fact/ She could not have one more." Elizabeth then decides to share her wealth: she donates her collection to the town, turns her home into a library and-of course-continues to read voraciously. Attuned to the story's humor and period setting, Small's (George Washington's Cows) airy illustrations charm with historical touches and soothing pastel hues. Triple-ruled black borders and filigreed corners suggest a family album of old, while black-and-white spot art highlights details of a singular life. The book's dedication adds a poignant note: "To the memory of the real Mary Elizabeth Brown, Librarian, Reader, Friend 1920-1992." --Publisher's Weekly.

Tomas and the Library Lady by Pat Mora (Author) and Paul Colon (Illustrator)

Tomas Rivera, who at his death in 1984 was the Chancellor of the University of California at Riverside, grew up in a migrant family. Here, Mora tells the fictionalized story of one summer in his childhood during which his love of books and reading is fostered by a librarian in Iowa, who takes him under her wing while his family works the harvest. She introduces him to stories about dinosaurs, horses, and American Indians and allows him to take books home where he shares them with his parents, grandfather, and brother. When it is time for the family to return to Texas, she gives Tomas the greatest gift of all--a book of his own to keep. Colon's earthy, sun-warmed colors, textured with swirling lines, add life to this biographical fragment and help portray Tomas's reading adventures in appealing ways. Stack this up with Sarah Stewart and David Small's The Library (Farrar, 1995) and Suzanne Williams and Steven Kellogg's Library Lil (Dial, 1997) to demonstrate the impact librarians can have on youngsters. --Barbara Elleman, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI, School Library Journal

The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq by Jeanette Winter.

"In the Koran, the first thing God said to Muhammad was 'Read.'"*
--Alia Muhammad Baker

Alia Muhammad Baker is a librarian in Basra, Iraq. For fourteen years, her library has been a meeting place for those who love books. Until now. Now war has come, and Alia fears that the library--along with the thirty thousand books within it--will be destroyed forever.

In a war-stricken country where civilians--especially women--have little power, this true story about a librarian's struggle to save her community's priceless collection of books reminds us all how, throughout the world, the love of literature and the respect for knowledge know no boundaries.

Includes an author's note.

House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones.

The sequel to Howl's Moving Castle

When Charmain Baker agreed to look after her great-uncle's house, she thought she was getting blissful, parent-free time to read. She didn't realize that the house bent space and time, and she did not expect to become responsible for an extremely magical stray dog and a muddled young apprentice wizard. Now, somehow, she's been targeted by a terrifying creature called a lubbock, too, and become central to the king's urgent search for the fabled Elfgift that will save the country. The king is so desperate to find the Elfgift, he's called in an intimidating sorceress named Sophie to help. And where Sophie is, the great Wizard Howl and fire demon Calcifer won't be far behind. How did respectable Charmain end up in such a mess, and how will she get herself out of it?

Libyrinth by Pearl North.

Haly is a Libyrarian, one of a group of people dedicated to preserving and protecting the knowledge passed down from the Ancients and stored in the endless maze of books known as the Libyrinth. But Haly has a secret: The books speak to her.

When the threat of the rival Eradicants drives her from her home, Haly learns that things are not all she thinks they are. Taken prisoner by the Eradicants, who believe the written word to be evil, she sees the world through their eyes and comes to understand that they are not the book-burning monsters that she has known her entire life.

The words of a young girl hiding in an attic—written hundreds of years before Haly’s birth—will spark the interest of her captors and begin the change necessary to end the conflict between the Eradicants and Libyrarians. With the help of her loyal companion Nod, a creature of the Libyrinth, Haly must mend the rift between the two groups before their war for knowledge destroys them all. Haly’s life—and the lives of everyone she knows—will never be the same.

A powerful adventure that unites the present and future, Libyrinth is a fresh, magical novel that will draw in young readers of all genres.

Feature Fun Friday - Hunger Games Rue's Lullaby by cgifford103

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now) Rue's Lullaby by Christina Gifford.

Most of you know I love books, and even more so, I love when someone adds to that world and creates something new. I love when something crosses from one medium to another and together they become something more. For example, taking the words on a page and setting them to music. Here is one, from The Hunger Games.

I've been following The Hunger Games movie updates like a child on sugar and I stumbled on something rather extraordinary. Now I knew there were songs of "Rue's Lullaby" and "The Hanging Tree" long before this, but this one really struck me. Most of the songs on YouTube covering "Rue's Lullaby" are set to the same tune, "Kiss the Rain" by Yiruma. It is very soothing and rhythmic, definitely a lullaby, but with almost a New Age feel to it with too few variants in the melody. Not quite happy, but it's not the anguished rendition I imagine her singing to a 12-year-old girl who was dying in her arms. This one is different. It has a much more haunting quality to it that sends shivers up my arms. And the best part? She has a link on her channel where you can download a copy--for free, completely legal. I would have paid money for this version. This one is worth owning.

My Mini Adventure in Glass Making

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Villa Under Attack by Jesper Kyd [Assassin's Creed Brotherhood soundtrack].

You guys were right! Both of you were. This was indeed a glass demonstration. It was incredible to watch. The first time I'd ever heard of glass blowing used in fiction before was The Glass Blower's Daughter and Maria V. Snyder's Glass series. I especially loved Maria's use of containing magic inside balls of blown glass. So when I had a chance to see a glass being shaped before my eyes, I was transfixed. My family, less so. They didn't appreciate me watching with my hands pressed against the glass like a child at a Christmas store window for who knows how long. Because the only part you didn't get right was the location.

Do you want to see the clue again?

And here it is.

That is Minnie skiing. Yes, I am in the happiest place on earth here, in a Mayan temple of all places (because when you think Mayan temple, you think of glass gift shop, right?). And it was indeed Christmastime, which made it even better.

This is me in front of one of my favorite rides there, the Aerosmith Rocki 'N' Roller Coaster, complete with fwhooshing hair. :) In my hand is the first Mickey ice cream of my life. Mickey ice cream = joy. And why yes, that is a piece of chocolate on my lip, because Mickey ice cream is that awesome. :)

But seriously, if I could get my hands on blowing/shaping glass myself instead of just watching, I may be in heaven. That flame had to be a thousand degrees.

Guess My Adventure

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Credits by Tom Salta [Prince of Persia The Forgotten Sands soundtrack - Wii version].

A definite oldie, but I say adventures are like Twinkies - they never go bad (that is so not true by the way. Did you know Twinkies can grow green mold if placed on top of an EXIT sign for three months? True story, cross my heart). So in other words, this is not somewhere recent. I honestly don't think you can guess where I am from this picture. Actually, you might. From one teensy clue in the background...

(I really should hold my tongue. I don't think I've ever outsmarted you on a Guess My Adventure yet). Let's see if I can prevail this time! Bwa ha ha!

Feature Fun Friday - April Fool's Day Special

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Be Africa by Bibi Tanga and The Selenites.

It's cute, it's adorable, it has action and mystery, and a little groundhog. And a treasure hunt. What more could you want?! But seriously, when looking for an appropriate book video for April Fool's Day, I came across this and fell in love. I really may have to buy this one. Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!