The Books of Summer - Fall 2010

"The 39 Clues" #6 - 9 (various authors)

"Twilight & History"
Interesting series of essays on the historical basis of the different characters in the Twilight saga.

"The Templar Code for Dummies"
Easy to read and understand basic history of the Knights Templar.

"Legacy" by Susan Kay
Very detailed biographical novel of Elizabeth I.

"Shakespeare Undead"
Will Shakespeare is a vampire and the Dark Lady is a zombie hunter. Very amusing, and the Elizabethan language is quite colorful.

"The Pillars of the Earth" & "World Without End" by Ken Follett
An extremely detailed (sometimes a touch too graphic) medieval saga. "World Without End" sometimes seems recycled from "Pillars..." but it's still certainly engrossing.

"Robin Hood" by David Coe
Novelization of the newest movie.

"Retail Hell" by Freeman Hall
If you have ever worked in retail, you MUST read this book!

"The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vampires"

"Shaking Hands With Shakespeare" by Allison Wedell Schumacher
Excellent resource for students and actors.

"The Complete Idiot's Guide to Werewolves"

"Stuff That Makes a Gay Heart Weep" by Freeman Hall
This could be subtitled "Stuff That Makes Anyone With Any Taste Whatsoever Cringe." Totally hilarious!

"The Princess Bride" by William Goldman
I tried to read this in HS and didn't like it. Some things improve with age.

Very vivid medieval tale set in France during the Inquisition.

"The Playmaker" by J.B. Cheaney
A nicely detailed piece of Shakespearean fiction for the younger set.

"Painted Ladies" by Robert B. Parker
One of the last Spenser novels.
  • Current Mood
    cranky cranky

The Books of May 2010

"The 39 Clues" Books 1-5 (Juvenile Favorite Series, various authors)
I'm reading these (on my lunch breaks) for purposes of designing a window display for the store. The concept is that orphans Dan and Amy Cahill are on a global scavenger hunt to find 39 clues that will lead them to an amazing inheritance. They discover that their family is enormous, with ties to royalty and other influential figures in may countries. This is a grand adventure/mystery, along the lines of "National Treasure." The inclusion of historical persons, places and events will hopesfully entice kids to 'read more about it.' My main gripe about the series is that readers are given no good reason to suspend their disbelief about the idea of two regular kids running all around the world accompanied (sometimes) by a teenaged au pair. The series was written post-911, so that bit just rings untrue...possibly kids willl overlook it.

"Twilight and Philosophy"
A very interesting collection of essays that apply various philosophical and ethical theories to the characters and events of the Twilight saga.
  • Current Mood
    busy busy

The Books of April 2010

"Winter's Child" by Cameron Dokey and "The Crimson Thread" by Susan Weyn (teen fiction)
Part of the Once Upon a Time series, these are adaptations of The Snow Queen and Rumplestilstkin.

"Alchemy and Meggy Swann" by Karen Cushman (young reader/juvenile fiction)
Very nice Elizabethan historical fiction, featuring some fabulous insult matches. Like many of Karen Cushman's heroines, Meggy isn't especially lovable at first, but she grows on you as she finds her own strengths and grows up.

"Blood Oath" by Christopher Farnsworth (fiction)
Mission Impossible - with vampires. Very entertaining.

"Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy" (philosophy)
This is a series of essays using material from the Alice books to illustrate classic philosophical ideas. The reading can be a bit dense, but there are some very interesting ideas.
  • Current Mood
    sleepy sleepy

The Books of March 2010

“The Everything American Government Book” (US History)

“Wild Orchid;” “Belle;” and “Before Midnight” by Cameron Dokey (teen fiction)
Part of the Once Upon a Time series, these are adaptations of Mulan, Beauty & the Beast, and Cinderella, respectively. This is an excellent series, with lots of adventure, strong heroines who solve their own problems, instead of waiting around helplessly to be rescued, and no objectionable content.

The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer (teen fiction)
Yes, I read them. Stop snickering. Bella Swann sets back the evolution of the modern female character by at least a century.

“Fablehaven: Keys to the Demon Prison” by Brendan Mull (young readers/juvenile fiction)
This is the awesome conclusion to the series...but there are plenty of loopholes for more stories later on. I really love the complex characters that change and evolve as the story progresses – no cardboard cutouts here. I also love the way that different characters choices have consequences, and they learn from them.
  • Current Mood
    nostalgic nostalgic

The Books of February 2010

"Alice in Wonderland" by T.T. Sutherland (teen fiction/movie novelization)
I generally don't care for novelizations-of-movies-based-on-novels, but I really enjoyed this. In this case, it's sort of necessary, since Tim Burton isn't telling the sort of Alice story we're most familiar with.

"Alice in Wonderland: the Visual Guide" (film studies)
Very cool volume of artwork and photographs, with character bios and an outline of the story. (Note: this is the $15 version - there's a deluxe edition coming out next week) Have you guessed yet that I can't wait to see this movie?

"Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague" and "Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary" by Brendan Mull (young reader/juvenile fiction)
The third and fourth volumes of the ever-so-awesome Fablehaven series. Somewhat like Harry Potter, Kendra and Seth are growing up and learning to explore their respective gifts. I really hope number five won't be their last story.

"The Sixty-Eight Rooms" by Marianne Malone (young reader/juvenile fiction)
This is an absolutely wonderful story set in and around The Art Institute of Chicago, home to the Thorne Rooms, an amazing (and real!) collection of miniature rooms. Best friends Jack and Ruthie find a key that magically shrinks them small enough to enter and explore the rooms. Once inside, they discover that some rooms contain doorways to the historical periods they represent. They also learn that they're not the first ones to find and use the key, and solve a local art mystery. I really loved this one!
  • Current Mood
    sore sore

The Books of January 2010

"The Imagineers Guide to the Magic Kingdom" (travel)
Although you find this in the tarvel section, it's not about the best hotel to stay at, or when to get on line for Space Mountain. It's full of interesting facts about how the park was developed and all the amazing details that go into it.

"The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet" by Erin Dionne (young readers)
This is a sweetly absurd story of the daughter of two ever so slightly overzealous Shakespeare professors and her genius kid sister. A must read for young rennies and Shakepeare fans.

"Divine Misdemeanors" by Laurell K. Hamilton (science fiction)
The latest Merry Gentry novel.

"Incarceron" by Catherine Fisher (teen fiction)
In a post-apocalyptic world, the government has put two bold programs in place to ensure future peace and tranquility. All of society's undesirables have been placed in Incarceron, an inescapable sentient habitat, programmed to be clean and safe, and to provide education, food, and health care. The rest of society returns to a simpler lifestyle, similar to renaissance Europe. Sounds like it should be pretty good for everyone,yes? Not quite.

This actually reminds me a bit of "Logan's Run," I think because of the idea that not everyone wants to live in someone else's idea of a perfect habitat. A very good read, with an open ending, so there will likely be another.

"Beastly" by Alex Flinn (teen fiction)
A retelling of Beauty and the Beast, set in present day NYC. I really like this one, because it incorporates alot of the details of the fairy tale, the magic mirror, the rose garden, the library, and one that tends to get glossed over - the witch puts the beast under the curse because he's a cretin, and he has to earn to freedom.
  • Current Mood
    calm calm

Passing on a bit of advice...

A couple of years ago, when my dad had to move to a nursing home, we had to make alot of legal and financial decisions. Our lawyer gave us an excellent bit of advice that helped to make this past week a bit easier, so I'm going to share it.

Get a fire proof document box (about $50 and easily available from a variety of retailers). Inside, have a file for each family member which includes: birth/baptismal certificate, life insurance policy(s), military discharge papers, any advanced medical directives/living wills, last will and testament, and paperwork for any major assets, such as stocks or bonds. I was fingerprinted as a child, in the wake of the Adam Walsh case, so my fingerprints are included in my file. You get the idea...any personal paperwork that you might need in an emergency when you might not be thinking too clearly.

You should also have a file for any vehicles you own, including title and insurance policies, the deed or rental agreement to your home, with homeowners/renters insurance policy, cemetery deed, and your marriage license.

I KNOW this isn't stuff you want to think about if you are young and in good health, but when you need to put your hands on these papers, it's generally because of a death or other emergency, and there is time pressure and you're just not thinking straight, and it's not a good time to have to go ripping the whole house apart.

The Booksof November - December 2009

"Reunion: Three Plays" by David Mamet (drama)

"Robin Hood" by Don Nigro (drama)
Imagine the legend of Robin Hood meets The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).

"A View from the Bridge" by Arthur Miller (drama)

"Underworld: Rise of the Lycans," "Underworld: Blood Enemy," and "Underworld: Evolution" by Greg Cox (science fiction)
Rise of the Lycans and Evolution are novelizations of the films. Blood Enemy is an original novel published after the original Underworld movie. It's based upon Lucian's flashbacks of Sonja's death and the beginning of the war - the story that eventually became Rise of the Lycans. It's very interesting to read such a different treatment of the story - Sonja is portrayed as more of a fairy tale princess, and the story feels more like Beauty and the Beast. It's definitely worth reading if you like the series, but I think TPTB made a much stronger choice having Sonja be a warrior princess, and casting an actress who looked more like Kate Beckinsale.

"The Complete Idiot's Guide to World War I" (history)

"The Complete Idiot's Guide to European History" (history)

"The Imagineers' Guide to EPCOT" (travel)
This is really fun. It's not about picking the best hotel for your trip, or when to get in line for Space Mountain - it's all sorts of neat factoids about the design process used in the Disney parks.

So, that's 59 books for 2009...first time, complete reads, not counting books I just skimmed for whatever reason (like the Lacemaker and the Princess, great juvie historical fiction that I really should go back and read completely, or the latest MEG book which really, REALLY sucked), or anthologies where I only read one selection.

Rest in peace, Dad...

My father, Henry Klatte, passed away December 26 at St. Cabrini Nursing Home, where he'd been a patient for the last two years. He'd been very ill for most of this month, so we're thankful that he is at peace.
  • Current Mood
    sad sad

The Books of Aug-Oct 2009

"Fairest of All" (teen fiction)
Nifty backstory about the Wicked Queen from Disney's Snow White.

"The Taming of the Shrew" William Shakespeare (drama)
I was born in the 20th century and I don't like this play. At all. Even though I do understand the historical context, and I've read the essays...I don't like it. That being said, I am still head over heels in love with the production that was staged at NYRF this summer. Simply amazing people making magic.

"Romancing the Pirate" (romance)
Tacky pirate romance novel. So sue brain was fried.

"Lady of the Forest" and "Lady of Sherwood" Jennifer Robeson (fiction)
Two totally awesome Robin Hood novels. I think I tried to read "Lady of the Forest" a long time ago when it first came out, and was very disappointed because it was being marketed as fantasy and it's not. The current covers are also misleading, since they look like steamy romances - and they're not. These are fairly gritty historical fiction - dirt, brutal 'justice', and the the nasty truth about the crusades and the people who commanded them. If you liked the BBC Ivanhoe (with Stephen Waddington), give these a shot.

"The Lost Symbol" Dan Brown (fiction)

"The Professional" Robert B. Parker (mystery)
The latest Spenser mystery.

"British History for Dummies"
  • Current Mood
    lonely lonely