The Effects of Light by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

I can't begin to explain this debut novel from a beautiful writer.

Luminous writing and amazing imagery weave through this novel, and though the characters at times frustrate me, or make me think they are "too much" I sped through this amazing novel. It evocates beautiful imagery, and questions our beliefs in art and art history. As a librarian, I'm often a defender of first amendment rights, and this novel raises some of the same questions we're constanted posed: about freedom of expression, of pornography versus art, and about what people consider acceptable.

I'll let the jacket explain the plot: "Throughout their childhood, Myla and Pru Wolfe pose for a haunting series of photographs, many involving nudity...the photographs fire each girl's psyche with a sense of artistic accomplishment. Until their world irrevocably shifts..."

Read this book.

Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen

What a hoot!

Chaz Perrone pushes his wife Joey overboard during their anniversary cruise to hide a secret, ridding himself of his wife so that he can continue his swindling, seeing his mistress, and cruising town in his new Hummer.

The only problem? Joey didn't die.

What follows is a hysterical, fast-paced romp through Boca Raton and the Everglades as wife plots against husband, cops and robbers run back and forth, backstabbing and blackmail, and a little spicy romance thrown in.

I've never read a Hiaasen novel, but this novel certainly charmed me, and I hope to read his others. What a fun, fun read!

Note: I listened to the audio version, narrated by Barry Bostwick. I was initially concerned about listening to Barry, but from the first line, he had me. What a great narration!

The Virgin's Lover by Philippa Gregory

I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book because a) I was utterly taken with Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl and b) because Elizabeth I has always been one of my answers for the "if you could have dinner with any one person" question.

This historical novel weaves known history of Elizabeth I's first few years as queen with mystery, suspense, supposition, politics and murder. In short, a fantastic and engrossing read.

Gregory truly captures the passion of Elizabeth and Robert Dudley, the conflicts of religion and politics, and life as it was in 1558.

If you haven't read Gregory's novels, you really must. I'm not a historical reader at all, and I found myself enchanted.


Wanna see how I spent last week while on vacation?

Take a gander at my race weekend pics right here.

I'm particularly pleased of the very last photo on the page. Yes. :-)

Geekdom rears its ugly head...

The new Star Wars III trailer f'n ROCKS!

Except for Hayden's hair, which decidedly does NOT rock.

See for yourself here...

Courtesy of I Love a Good Mystery...

Name 3 of your favorite series.

I can only pick three?? The three that pop to mind first are the Anna Pigeon series by Nevada Barr, the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton, and the Stephanie Plum series from Janet Evanovich. But then I get to thinking about it, and I want to add the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, the Seven Brides series by Leigh Greenwood, and the Princess series by Meg Cabot. I'm not very good at narrowing things, obviously.

Name 3 series you think went on too long.

The Wheel of Time series, for sure! Robert Jordan has written a detailed and elaborate story, but even his most diehard fans are convinced he's just going to drag this out until he's about 147 for either the money, the hype or the annoyance factor. It's a great fantasy series, and the only one I've EVER liked, but his wordpadding is getting old.

The other two I would question are the Anita Blake and Stephanie Plum series. Now, don't get me wrong...I love them both. But. They are both becoming formulaic, or relying purely on sex or shock value to sell books. I just wonder where the logical conclusion to both characters lie, and how they are going to get there without being totally stale. But hey, they sell tons of books, so I guess they can continue forever if they like...

Name 3 books you wish had been series.

Hrm...this is a really hard. Most of my favorite books really *are* stand-alone titles, and I think if the characters were to continue, it would water the impact of the original story. I mean, how do you continue The Lovely Bones, The Time Traveler's Wife, The Probable Future, The Da Vinci Code, My Sister's Keeper? You can't.

(Granted, TDVC was a looooose continuation of Angels and Demons, but not really.)

I'm going to have to think some more about this answer and get back to you...

Oh man. I just programmed this into my cell's speed dial. is a FREE service that provides all kinds of information from sport reports to stock quotes. I know I'm going to use this the next time I'm halfway to the big city and can't remember what time the movie starts, or am on the highway and want a weather report for my destination. What a snifty service!

Give it a try for yourself! How cool!

This is an amazingly addictive, sad, frightening, funny, wondrous site. What an incredibly original idea, and even more incredible are the responses received.

PostSecret distributed blank postcards, and encourages people to send them back with a secret as long as it is true and it has never been shared with anyone. The responses are just...

Well, I seem to have to compulsively check this site a lot, let's just say that.

Just to see what people will write next. To see what people will reveal. To feel all their emotions.

How odd to be an online voyeur into the secrets of others.

What I wonder the most is this: how do the people feel after they have sent off their postcard? Is it cathartic? Is it frightening? Is it emotional?

And I wonder if they are all true.

My guess...most of them are.

I've been on vacation for the last week, so it's time to play a little catch up on ye olde blog...

First link of note today: Jennifer Weiner has a blog!

As you may (or hey, may not) know, I love Jennifer Weiner's books, and Good in Bed still ranks as one of my favorites books of all time. If you haven't read Jennifer, promise yourself you will.

Her blog looks to be a funny collection of antecdotes, news, and snarks. Perfect. :-)

Unexpected Development by Marlene Perez

Is that a great cover or what?!

I swear to you, this book was written JUST.FOR.ME. Any more-than-buxom girl such as myself would totally agree.

Megan has spent her teen years hiding her enormous breasts, and all the teasing that goes with it. She is saving up for reduction surgery, and is famous for her baggy shirts.

The summer before senior year, her life turns upside down as she meets a boy, stands up to a different boy, finds herself, and tries to come to terms with herself.

A quick YA novel, this is a sensitive, accurate and engrossing novel about a topic that surely hasn't been written about so candidly before.


Every Boy's Got One by Meg Cabot

Yay! Another Meg Cabot gem for me to read on vacation!

As is becoming Cabot's signature, this book is written entirely in email/letter/journal/receipt format, and thus is a speedy, speedy read.

Holly and Mark decide to elope to Italy, and take along their best friends Jane and Cal as witnesses. Too bad Jane thinks Cal is a jackass and Cal thinks Jane is a ditzy artist.

Oh, how the sparks will fly!

This is just such a frothy, fun, fast read, and I devoured it from beginning to end.

And now *I* want to go to Italy!

To Die For by Linda Howard

This is a perfect "vacation" book (which is exactly why I picked it up for my trip to Vegas!).
A murder, a hunky cop, a lot of mayhem, a ditzy blonde and a lot of sexual tension make up this quickly read, quickly forgotten book.

Howard's writing is snappy and fun, but ultimately forgettable. If you need a quick, fun read, this is a great bet though!

Wedding Season: A Comedy of Manners, Matrimony, and Seventeen Marriages in Six Months by Darcy Cosper

I was immediately taken with just the cover art of this book, and knew I had to add it to my "to be read" list. :-)

This is a surprisingly funny, surprisingly insightful book, still filled with typical chick lit moments but less of the cliches you would expect. Joy has the perfect boyfriend and no desire to get married...her thoughts go for a spin when she has to attend 17 weddings in 6 months, including all her close friends, her family, his family and seemingly everyone. This dose of martial bliss makes Joy begin to question everything she believes.

A fun beachy read with just enough substance to keep you engrossed. :-)

The space geek in me thinks this is

The other panoramas are equally as impressive! What a nifty site!

Shadowland by Meg Cabot, writing as Jenny Carroll
This is the first book in "The Mediator" series, and I just flew through it!
Susannah has just been moved cross country by her mom, started a new school and has inherited three stepbrothers. All of this is fine...except that Susannah is a mediator - she can talk to, touch, and help ghosts.
Doesn't help that her new bedroom is inhabited by Jesse, a bodacious ghost who's seveal hundred years old. ;-)
This is such a fun and feisty read, and I can't wait to dive into more of the series!

Snagged from Kristin's Book Log...

Here's a list of the top 110 banned books. Bold the ones you've read. Italicize the ones you've partially read. Underline the ones you specifically want to read (at least some of). Read more. Convince others to read some.

#1 The Bible
#2 Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
#3 Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
#4 The Qur'an
#5 Arabian Nights
#6 Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
#7 Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
#8 Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
#9 Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
#10 Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
#11 The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
#12 Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
#13 Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
#14 Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
#15 Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
#16 Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
#17 Dracula by Bram Stoker
#18 Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin
#19 Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
#20 Essays by Michel de Montaigne
#21 Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
#22 History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
#23 Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
#24 Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
#25 Ulysses by James Joyce
#26 Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
#27 Animal Farm by George Orwell
#28 Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
#29 Candide by Voltaire
#30 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
#31 Analects by Confucius
#32 Dubliners by James Joyce
#33 Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
#34 Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
#35 Red and the Black by Stendhal
#36 Das Capital by Karl Marx
#37 Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire
#38 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
#39 Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence
#40 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
#41 Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
#42 Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
#43 The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
#44 All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
#45 Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
#46 Lord of the Flies by William Golding
#47 Diary by Samuel Pepys
#48 Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
#49 Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
#50 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
#51 Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
#52 Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
#53 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
#54 Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus
#55 Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
#56 Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
#57 Color Purple by Alice Walker
#58 Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
#59 Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke
#60 Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
#61 Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
#62 One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
#63 East of Eden by John Steinbeck
#64 Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
#65 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
#66 Confessions by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#67 Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais
#68 Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
#69 The Talmud
#70 Social Contract by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#71 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
#72 Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
#73 American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
#74 Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
#75 Separate Peace by John Knowles
#76 Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
#77 Red Pony by John Steinbeck
#78 Popol Vuh
#79 Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith
#80 Satyricon by Petronius
#81 James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
#82 Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
#83 Black Boy by Richard Wright
#84 Spirit of the Laws by Charles de Secondat Baron de Montesquieu
#85 Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
#86 Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
#87 Metaphysics by Aristotle
#88 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
#89 Institutes of the Christian Religion by Jean Calvin
#90 Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
#91 Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
#92 Sanctuary by William Faulkner
#93 As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
#94 Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
#95 Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
#96 Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
#97 General Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud
#98 Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
#99 Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Alexander Brown
#100 Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
#101 Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines
#102 Émile Jean by Jacques Rousseau
#103 Nana by Émile Zola
#104 Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
#105 Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
#106 Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
#107 Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
#108 Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
#109 Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
#110 Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
This book has been on my "classic book to read" list for a long time, but I was prompted to pick it up after hearing Oprah (natch) was going to broadcast a made-for-TV version.
This was a really sloooow book to read. I enjoyed the story, and I liked the characters (in their tragic way), but I think I really struggled most with the dialogue. Written phoenetically, I found I couldn't exactly whip through the pages.
"Ah know yuh didn't. Ah been heah uh long time listenin' to dat heifer run me down tuh de dawgs uh try tuh tole you off from me."
It's all written just like that.
I'm glad I read it, and I'm curious to see how it presents on screen...

Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson
As I am going to be traveling to England for a few weeks in May, I thought it only fitting that I get into the Eurotrip frame of mind by picking up Bryson's travelogue across Europe.
Bryson, half travel writer and half comedian, decided to recreate his 1973 backpack trip across Europe with stops ranging from Stockholm to Rome to Istanbul. He doesn't sugarcoat or gloss over his findings, but he does see humor in his travels.
A quick and absorbing read - perfect for getting into the spirit of travel again!
Note: I listened to the audio version, narrated by Bryson himself. It took time to get used to his voice, but I eventually enjoyed the recording/

Barefoot in Paris: Easy French Food You Can Make at Home by Ina Garten
This cookbook just makes me seeth with jealousy. Garten not only lives in the Hamptons and has a show on FoodTV, but she also has a flat in Paris that she pops over to all the time.
The photos are gorgeous, the food sounds sumptious, and it makes me long to go back to Paris.
Some of the foods sound waaay out of my range, but quite a few of the recipes sound do-able. I plan to jot a few down before returning this book....

Michael over at Tame the Web always links to some of the coolest technolibrary stuff. I get so stoked every time I see a recent posting in my Bloglines, waiting to see what the newest and coolest this week is going to be...

This week I almost fell off my chair. Libraries are circulating iPods. Loaded with audiobooks. Or with samples of music from their collection.

They are circulating iPods.

As Michael said, how cool would it be to put up a flyer that says "Get an iPod @ Your Library"!

I only got an iPod this past Christmas, but I can see how folks become immediately enamored with it (my enthusiasm even inspired De and Carrie to each pop out and get one). Even before seeing Michael's postings about iPod usage, I had wondered how we could incorporate this into a public library. I remember how exciting it was when Indiana University began circulating laptops, digital cameras and video cameras to students - this is very much in the same vein. I've jokingly asked my boss if we could circ laptops, but we're not quite as fiscally secure as IU. ;-)

After seeing all these new and exciting uses, though, I did ask my boss, only half jokingly, if we could circ iPods. He said sure. I danced a jig.

Obviously, we have a ways to go before we get to that point, but that's what you want in a director - someone willing to at least examine the technology before shutting it down. I know he was skeptical about a public blog, but he let me give it a whirl - and with positive results. I know he's still not sold on IM Reference, but he's willing to listen if I can make a good enough case.

He also has an iPod, and thus sees the fabulous potential of this little device. ;-)

I really dig on the idea of circulating iPod shuffles loaded with audiobooks or music samples. We've talked about having a "listening station" in the library - this takes that idea and runs out the door with it. Very cool. I'm cautiously optimistic that what these libraries are doing is within the bounds of the law and iTunes contract, that it isn't a financial disaster, and that it's something even a smaller library can take on. I can't wait to see how this whole story progresses...

In any case, I smile when I think of that crafty librarian who said "You know what? Let's just TRY it. What's the worst that can happen? It's the price of doing business."

I can always applaud that spirit in a librarian.

This site makes me smile.

I love the creativity these strangers emanate as they create a virtual community of silliness.

Technology is beautiful. :-)

There has been much afoot in the library world lately, and I have entirely too many things still "marked as new" in Bloglines, with the thought that..."yeah...I wanted to comment on that..."

So let's see what's got me (and the library blog world) all atwitter....

I must admit, I haven't really been a big fan of the brightly colored bracelet thingies that are all the rage, but for the one that I really wanted to buy but has been perpetually sold out.

(You knew it was going to be a racing thang, didn't you?)

Today, I found another that I think is just a great marketing tool from a consortium of libraries in Illinois. Libraries Matter bracelets just might be the next hot thing. Let's hope so.

Dear, oh dear, I don't even know where to start with GormanGate. I read the article in Library Journal the same day it broke into RSS feeds 'round the world. Michael Gorman, an intelligent and respected library director, who also happens to be the president of the American Library Association (the big dog association for the library profession), wrote an opinion piece about "Blog People". It was, shall we say, short sighted and less than flattering. My favorite sentence:

Given the quality of the writing in the blogs I have seen, I doubt that many of the Blog People are in the habit of sustained reading of complex texts. It is entirely possible that their intellectual needs are met by an accumulation of random facts and paragraphs. In that case, their rejection of my view is quite understandable.

So. Anyone who blogs is a bonehead, when this paragraph is stripped down to its bare bones.

I would never advocate to the entire organization I represent that if you blog, you in (picture Heidi Klum saying this), and if you don't blog, you out. (Auf Wiedersehen.)

If you work reference, you in. If you work technical services, you out. If you only read fiction, you in. If you only read biographes, you out.

This could be fun.

Here's the thing. By finding all these different blogs by different librarians in totally different aspects of our profession, but finding blogs that post nothing but library news, by finding blogs that link to exciting and interesting websites for free information...I am better informed about the trends and news of the library world than I ever was in school. I don't feel lost when I go to conferences and hear all these stories and trends discussed. I like knowing what's coming down the pike in technology and library trends, so that I can pass that on to my director, and so that I can craft opinions that are informed, and thus I can then put my own library directly in the path of progress.

How can any of that be bad? How can using technology to its fullest to share information be anything but good?

Let's try and remember the basic credo of our profession: free and open access to information, no.matter.what.

How you receive that information..well, that's up to you.

The Problem with Murmur Lee by Connie May Fowler
I can't describe this book, nor can I tell you what I liked about it, except to say I really did enjoy it.

Though this borrows elements from other books (like The Lovely Bones), this book is fresh and original, written with so many voices and so many points of view. It's fairly short (barely 200 pages) but captivating.

If you have a few hours, read this wonderfully written novel.

Relay for Life is a huge event in our town, and everyone participates in one way or another. This year, one of the teams kicked off a new fundraiser - a trivia challenge, held on a Saturday night, for which teams could sign up, register and compete.

Like a flash, the library put together a trivia team and excitedly registered.

It wasn't until weeks later we found out that apparently we were scaring off the competition. Folks in town heard that the library had a team, and were suddenly hesitant to register. Even the night of the challenge, several people commented that they didn't stand a chance against a crowd of librarians.

As it turns out, they were right. Our trivia team won the challenge, and celebrated by donating back the majority of our cash winnings that night.

It was great to contribute to this cause, we had a blast, we satisfied our competitive streak, but most importantly, folks around town recognized that librarians are smart, intimidating, to be taken seriously, and that maybe they should spend a little more time in the library.

And how. :-)