Blow Me Down by Katie MacAlister

Lots of pirates, lots of sex, a blockade, a rogue computer game...what more could you want in a book? ;-)

MacAlister - author of sexy, funny reads about vampires and more - this time takes on a VR computer game consisting of pirates on the Seventh Sea. Amy Stewart joins the game on a dare, and then finds herself unable to leave...or leave Pirate King Corbin.

Fast and funny, and in a totally different setting than any book I've read, I thoroughly enjoyed this. If you like Captain Jack Sparrow, you'll like this. ;-)

Remember a few months ago, when I was bemoaning the fact that my iPod was acting up - AGAIN?

And I managed to fix it?

Well, apparently the mojo didn't stick. I have been iPod-less for going on two months now, and I've been miserable. I've tried every conceivable thing to fix the iPod, both my own methods and those recommended by Apple, but to no avail.

It grinds and grinds and grinds, and then mocks me by dying. Every.single.time.

This will not do.

So what's a girl to do?

Treat herself to a shiny new 30GB one. :-)

It should be here in a few days, all sleek and black and engraved (with Depeche Mode lyrics, even!) and video-holding and WORKING.


Things They Never Told Me in Library Science School Would Happen at a Public Library, #44:

What the appropriate response would be to watching my maintenance worker crowbar (and then kick open) a door that was locked shut when a deadbolt completely broke on our annex (I chose hysterical laughter)

Things They Never Told Me in Library Science School Would Happen at a Public Library, #60:

That I would become intimately knowledgeable about watershed, field tile, EQIP grants, waterway construction and acreage - all because our original founder bequethed the library a 40 acre farm 100 years ago, and we still farm it.

Things They Never Told Me in Library Science School Would Happen at a Public Library, #31:

That I would learn to "talk the talk" when it came to punching 120V receptacles into a wall for new servers, insisting on particulars for some wooden end panels for shelving, restarting a cranky boiler, or coordinating furniture installation via email.

Things They Never Told Me in Library Science School Would Happen at a Public Library, #75:

That I would have to daintily tell a coworker to stop wearing an offensive scent.

Things They Never Told Me in Library Science School Would Happen at a Public Library, #12:

That a group from the Corps of Engineers couldn't have figured out an easier way to get an 8+ foot metal server rack in through a regular sized door without aid of a dolly (because it's too heavy). In our case...remove from pallet, unwrap, nearly drop on sidewalk, laugh hysterically (again), slide through door with four people carrying it, pivot, pivot, PIVOT into the tech room.

And that was just the learning from THIS week...

Time once again for some of my fave links in Bloglines this week (and last, and frankly, the week before that as well...):

  • I have a new banner at the top of the page...the fantabulous Aaron Schmidt over at Walking Paper used it in his library redesign, and graciously shared the code with all. What a great idea! I tweaked it to kick off my Relay for Life campaign this year...

  • I'm loving these DIY bookmarks - I just printed some off myself, and they work great! [via I Love a Good Mystery]

  • Granted, those bookmarks aren't as funny as this homemade (and NSFW) one! [via Not Martha]

  • I'm lovin' the ThumbThing! I'm thinking a possible gift shop sell for the library. Too bad I can't just buy one from the website... [via J-Walk Blog]

  • Oh my god...I TOTALLY need this writing board for the shower! Why is it I always get my best story ideas or "a-ha!" moments in the shower? And why did I just share that with the blog world? ;-) [via J-Walk Blog]

  • In other news, I scored 72% on the librarian test. How'd you do?

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

I was reminded of my plan to read this book when Gladwell once again appeared on bestseller lists last year with his newest book, Blink.

This book tells a lot of different stories, experiments and research that ably demonstrates how things "shift" based on small changes. Gladwell explores the world of Sesame Street, crime in New York City, the wearing of Hush Puppies and people in the world who act as Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen.

It's not a lengthy novel, and Gladwell's writing is very approachable and understandable, and certainly makes you stop and consider trends, changes, shifts and human nature.

Very interesting, indeed...

Holiday Princess by Meg Cabot

It's been a while since we had a book featuring Princess Mia, and if you are looking for an actual novel, this isn't it. Instead, Mia, her grandmother and her friends each write entries about different aspects of Christmas - traditions, present ideas, Christmas around the world and more.

As usual, it's full of snarky comments and funny one-liners, and hey, it's educational!

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

This book has been receiving a lot of advertising dollars in PW and LJ, so I was sufficiently intriqued to pick it up.

I haven't read fantasy much, and not in a looong time (despite a resolution to reread the entire Wheel of Time series this year), so this was a pleasant diversion from my normal titles. Though the writing is a bit modern-y and simple, I really enjoyed the story, the heroine and all the intrique. Yelena is sentenced to death by hanging, but is given a choice - either face the noose, or become the food taster.

This story weaves magic, politics, drama and the whiff of romance in a fast, entertaining, easily accessible story. If you've never read fantasy, this might be a good starter book...


Amazing Grace by Megan Shull

I picked up this YA novel because I liked the cover and the premise..."Ace" Kincaid decides she wants out of her whirlwind life - the life of a 15 year old tennis sensation (think Anna Kournikova's looks and Venus Williams' talent).

What follows is a sweet, sweet tale of a girl changes her looks, her life, and her location - and ending up in a tiny town in Alaska. Charming, touching, and warm, I flew through this book with a smile.

Highly recommended!

Paradise by Toni Morrison

This was selected by my book discussion group as the next title, so it was sort of "required reading" for me.

I've read Toni Morrison before, and I just don't care for her style. This story, to me, is choppy and awkward, confusing and just...ugly. I've never been a fan of stories that have one paragraph that runs for several pages, and features little dialogue - a very Hemingway-esque style that simply does not jive with me.

The story was tragic and sad, and I don't think I enjoyed reading a single paragraph. I hope the book discussion will shed more light on this book...

Time Was Soft There: A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare & Co. by Jeremy Mercer

When I saw that Paul Collins, author of Sixpence House was blurbed on the front cover, I decided to grab this book...either that, or I was dreaming of that Paris vacation again...

Mercer flees his native Canada in a flurry of confrontation, threat and fear, and finds himself wandering aimlessly through Paris, his money running low, as well as his constitution. He finds Shakespeare & Co, a famous bookshop known for housing struggling writers for free.

Mercer is quickly sucked into the world of Shakespeare & Co, as well as the eccentric owner, George. Though not a pretty tale, or even a particularly uplifting one, it is fascinating - and a little frightening.

A great Parisian escape for a few hours...

A Left-Hand Turn Around the World: Chasing the Mystery and Meaning of All Things Southpaw by David Wolman

As a lefty (along with about 12% of the world), you knew I was going to pick up this nonfiction title!

Wolman (obviously, also a lefty) decides to travel far and wide to try and unravel the scientific mystery of left-handedness, or for that matter, any handedness.

Though he throws in antecdotes and funny encounters, for the most part this is a very scientific-reading, highly researched tome about the nature of the brain and its connection to dominant hands. Wolman focuses particular attention on strong-handedness and mixed-handedness, leading me to question my own Southpaw tendencies.

I've always found it interesting how many "artistic types" are lefty, as well as the rash of lefties in library school, and who work at my library now. Clearly, we have bookish tendencies in my corner of the world. ;-)

I wonder how many "righties" will read this nonfiction book!

Just for fun, the 10 question "Edinburgh Handedness Inventory" (each is to be answered as either left, right or either), and my answers:

Writing - left
Drawing - left
Throwing - right
Scissors - left
Toothbrush - left
Knife (without fork) - left
Spoon - left
Broom (upper hand) - left
Striking match (match) - left
Opening box/lid - left

And yet, I might be "mixed", because of that throwing one. Weird. (I also golf right handed, but my golf coach *swore* I'd have an advantage that way...)

Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I've never read anything by the celebrated Marquez (author of One Hundred Years of Solitude, for example), so I thought I would pick up this novella and have a read.

Mostly, I just reaffirmed that I don't "get" some literature, or that I'm shallow.

Either way, I didn't really enjoy reading this novel, though Marquez's writing is compelling enough. I figured with an opening line like this, it would be interesting:

"The year I turned ninety, I wanted to give myself the gift of a night of wild love with an adolescent virgin."

Mostly, though, it was just sorta weird and squicky. Not for me...

The Rise and Fall of a 10th Grade Social Climber by Lauren Mechling and Laura Moser

Though you know how this YA book will end once you get a few pages in, you keep reading anyway.

Mimi is the new girl at a very different school in NYC, and through a series of miscues and a bet, tries to remake herself into part of the "Coolies". What follows is an exploration of high school social circles, drinking, drugs, sex and who your friends really are.

Sharp but funny, this is a good recommendation for (slightly more mature) teens.

The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd

This book has spent zero time on our library shelves since being released, due to the popularity of Kidd's other may have heard of it...The Secret Life of Bees.

I really loved this book, and tore through it in less than a day. It's very different from her other fiction title, and has a few people up in arms - the main character falls in love with a Benedictine monk.

The story takes place in the low country of the Carolinas, and Kidd weaves in the geography, family conflicts, first and last loves, and an exploration of self. Her writing is simple but evocative, and though I read it quickly, I missed the main character when it was over.

Highly, highly recommended - as I sure many book groups already have!

Even though Christmas has been over for a couple of weeks, I've barely had time to catch my breath (and return to the land of internet access) to post about our FAB-U-LOUS Christmas cabin adventure.

What follows is a photo-intensive diary of our three days in idyllic Brown County...

(To see the complete photo set, click here. These are just a few of my faves and of the memorable moments...)

On December 23rd, we packed up the van and got ready to head out to find our mystery cabin. We'd see a few photos online, but the location is kept secret until you actually check in and get a key, which is really kinda cool. Of course, the Priddis clan does not travel lightly, nor do we "rough it" in any sense of the word...


We find the cabin with no trouble, let ourselves in, marvel at the decorations and then immediately set to work unpacking the kitchen stuff, opening a basket o' goodies from Michelle and Don, fixing broken lights, and trying to get the fireplace going...


Naturally, we put the cake stand to good use...


The folks look pretty stoked about their 40th wedding anniversary present...the cabin...


Michelle and Don hang out for a while longer (to test that the pool table is in good working order), and then leave us to wander around, test the porch swing out, ooh and ahh, and eat. Of course. ;-)



Isn't it perfect? :-)



Of course, the hot tub also needs to be tested for quality control...


After dinner, Dad and I hit the pool table, with Mum as a spectactor. Dad claims not to have played in 20 years, but he sharked everyone all weekend! I, on the other hand, relied mostly on luck. Mum was good at chalking the cue, but struggled a bit with the execution of hitting a ball. ;-)



All set for Christmas...



After a restful night, Christmas Eve dawns and we set about doing...nothing. Eating, reading, relaxing...perfect...


Don and Michelle planned to come out about lunchtime, so we set off getting the buffet organized. Only my mother would use a orange juicer to sprinkle powdered sugar (stolen from a gingerbread house kit) on a Victoria Sponge for "prettiness". ;-)



We snack, we talk, we shoot a lot of pool, and Mum hits the Bailey's bottle...


Mum and I watch the Colts game (and the roaring fire) while the gang plays pool...


Michelle and I weigh in on the pork pie (cold pork with aspic and pastry) that Mum made. The older folks love it, the younger folks...not so much...


Finally, it's time for prezzies! Don gets clamps, Michelle gets gift certificates, I get a goody box, so on and so on...



Finally, it's time for the final presents from Dad...a diamond necklace for Michelle, and an emerald ring from me. What a memorable moment...



Christmas morning, Mum, Dad and I are up early, and immediately dig into our stockings as the sun rises...



We dive under the tree, and unwrap and generally make a mess. I got DVDs, household bits and pieces, lots of kitchen-y things, but most of grandmother's complete china tea set. So awesome...

After a breakfast of croissants and tidying up, Dad and I tackle the $7 gingerbread kit I insisted we buy and bring. It was...challenging. ;-)


Mid-morning, we decide it's time for another snack. Mum whips up some soft-shell crab sandwiches, and it begins to snow "between the soft shell crabs and the en crut" that we're having in another couple of hours.

Mum and I sit outside for a while, giggling ourselves silly and watching the snow fall. We reminince that sitting in the freezing cold watching scenery is a bit like being on Clacton Beach in England. Only the British, man. ;-)



"En crut!" Mum's Beef Wellington for lunch...


The snowfall made everything beautiful and festive...we couldn't have been luckier on Christmas Day...



Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the gingerbread house needs some adornment. Clearly, the icing was not the best ever, and we didn't quite get our gingerbread house looking like the picture. Made me laugh, though. ;-)


Don and Michelle came back out for evening, with lots of talking and pool playing. If we do this again, the pool table is a deal-breaker...



Before we knew it, the next morning had come and it was time to repack our wares into the van and leave our little Christmas cabin. We shoved the Christmas tree back in the box, cleared out the kitchen, ate a "rustic" breakfast (butter on tin foil, I ask you...) did our "chores", and said goodbye...




One final photo as we drove down the (perilous) drive...


Until next year, we hope...

Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog by John Grogan

With a face like that on the cover, how can you resist? :-)

This is really a simple tale of a husband and wife who buy an overexcited, oversized Lab and the next 13 years that they share. Grogan's brilliantly writes vignettes of the trials and toils of raising Marley, as well as the changes he and his family go through with Marley along for the ride: kids, new jobs, relocating and more.

Marley is a great "character", and it's not hard to imagine yourself alongside Grogan during some of these exploits! Though you know Marley won't live forever, the book ends on a hopeful note, rather than a sad one. Some in the publishing industry have already taken to calling this NYT Bestseller "Tuesdays with Marley".

A great memoir of a cutems dog...

Christmas Jars by Jason F. Wright

This is another one of those tiny feel-good Christmas-y books, so I thought I'd give it a try.

For such a small novel (with, admittedly, writing that doesn't exactly fly off the page), this packs in several stories lines that tie up nicely at the end. At the heart of the tale is the story of a family that collects change throughout the year (in a jar, natch) and then leaves it with someone who appears to really need it for the holidays.

A warm and fuzzy tale for folks still needing the Christmas spirit!

My friend Sean has a neat idea...each year, he creates a compilation CD of all his favorite or most played songs of the year. He just gave me a copy of his 2005 mix (whee! new music!), and I thought it was a snifty idea, hence my own music mix.

Besides, I like lists. ;-)

And maybe you'll find a tune or two to preview on iTunes...

And without further ado, my 2005 music mix...some are new songs, some are old, some just resonated at the time, some are always on, and some were just rediscovered.

Eclectic and weird, quiet and dance-infused, angry and sad, pop to opera...

Right Where It Belongs - Nine Inch Nails (aka "the new Hurt" from With Teeth; Trent pouring out his heart...)
Freak On A Leash (Dante Ross Mix) - Korn (a fab, FAB must-have remix)
John The Revelator - Depeche Mode (new dance tune from the new CD)
Lullaby - The Cure (Robert Smith. Sexy. Rawr.)
All Night - Def Leppard (otherwise known as the "if I were a stripper..." song by the Divas)
Lebanese Blonde - Thievery Corporation (great song from Garden State)
Canned Heat - Jamiroquai (I *have* to dance when I hear this)
Let Go - Frou Frou (another great song from Garden State)
Beautiful Day - Mellowdrone (short but haunting)
Pedal to the Metal - Kazzer (a must-listen when behind the wheel)
One Fine Day (Madame Butterfly) - OperaBabes (the final crescendo always gives me goosebumps)
Slither - Velvet Revolver (rock on, G n R part II!)
Everything Is Everything - Phoenix (addicting song from Six Feet Under)
Howling - Morcheeba (originally heard on La Femme Nikita, recently rediscovered)
Clubbed to Death [Kurayamino Variation] - Rob Dougan (a constant song since first hearing it all those years ago in the first Matrix movie)
All Day Long I Dream About Sex - JC Chasez (this makes me giggle, and then dance)
Breathe Me - Sia (haunting voice, haunting song from Six Feet Under)
To Get Down - Timo Maas (most famous as part of a Budweiser commercial)
Big Mistake - Chainsuck (also originally heard on La Femme Nikita, recently rediscovered)
Angel - Massive Attack (dark, sexy, amazing)
In the Waiting Line - Zero (apparently, I loved Garden State's music)


In the spirit of leaving 2005 behind, it's time for my annual wrap up of book reviews. How'd I do this year?

Number of books read in 2005: 162
Number of books read in 2004 (for comparison): 160
Average of books read per month: 13.5
Average of books read per week: 3
Daily average: 1 book read every 2.2 days
Percent of fiction read: 56%
Percent of nonfiction read: 44%
Number of audiobooks "read": 18

And now, for the best books of the year (in my humble opinion, of course!), in author alphabetical order...

*Inside the Kingdom by Carmen bin Laden

*Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

*Devil's Teeth by Susan Casey

*Ten Big Ones by Janet Evanovich

*Me & Emma by Elizabeth Flock

*Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

*Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

*Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

*The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

*Honeymoon by James Patterson

*Rob& by P.J. Petersen and Ivy Ruckman

*The Pact by Jodi Picoult

*Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

*Myth of You and Me by Leah Stewart

*Dead Run by P.J. Tracy

*Love my Rifle More Than You by Kayla Williams

I was pleasantly surprised to see that fiction and non-fiction were almost evenly split in my readings this year, seeing as how I have a pretty major bias towards fiction. Cool. :-)

To check back on the reviews of some of these past titles, or to see what reviews you might have missed, click on "book review index" over in the navigation to the right.

Can't wait to see how I do in 2006! Happy New Year!

A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

I've read a couple of other Hornby novels, so I was curious to see what his latest was all about. Four utter strangers end up on the top of a high rise in London on New Year's Eve for one purpose - to kill themselves. After meeting up on the roof, they all end up walking back down the stairs and into each other's lives.

The four characters are totally different, but you have no trouble falling into their "gang" hate some and love some of them. The plot is really not a plot, and though the story drags a bit in the middle, there is still the painful forward motion as these four decide whether or not to off themselves.

Tight writing, great characters voices and an interesting plot. Recommended!

Note: I listened to the audio version, narrated by Simon Vance, Kate Reading and (rawr!) Scott Brick. The narration was absolutely AMAZING, and I can't imagine reading this book after listening to it. The voices MADE the book for me. If you can, give it a listen!

Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom by Julie Kenner

What an absolute hoot of a book!

Imagine if Buffy got married, had kids and become a domestic goddess, all while never telling anyone about her former "job". Imagine that, and you have the basis for this fun novel.

Kate Conner hasn't been a demon hunter for 15 years, trading in holy water for carpools and dinner parties, but when a demon crashes through her window, she's back in the game. The book combines a bit of the supernatural with everyday occurances (like babysitting duties), a mystery, characters who could be good or bad, and a lot of humor.

I tore through this book, and absolutely loved the lighthearted tone combined with the "killing demons" part. Highly recommended!

Girls On Film (An A-List Novel) by Zoey Dean

This YA novel is very much in the same vein as the "Gossip Girls", bored teenagers trying to be cool, spice things up, and ruin relationships.

This time, the fish out of water is Anna Percy, who falls into the "in" crowd, but has to decide for herself if it's where she wants to stay. The writing is solid and the portrayal of the young and rich is engrossing, but I found Dean jumped from plot to plot and between moments in time, making me wonder if I'd missed a page or a paragraph.

Dishy and escapist!