Well, I'm back from Seattle and going to my very first ALA Midwinter, which I have to admit was eye-opening and very productive!

I attended a reference discussion, worked the NMRT Resume Review booth, got to sit down and chat about Footnotes (the NMRT publication I will be editor of next year) at the NMRT All Committees meeting, crashed a RUSA group, groped Captain Jack Sparrow, and heard Joe Klein speak about Iraq and American politics.

RRS Worker
My Captain

All in all, a good time!

Of course, after the conference there was time for some fun too. ;-)

(Like watching the Colts win to go to the SUPER BOWL, BABY!)

I ate copious amounts of seafood.

January 21

I went to the very glassy Seattle Public Library.


I conquered my fear of heights by going to the top of the Space Needle (and enjoying a tasty Starbucks at the top).

January 22

I watched fish get thrown at Pike Place Fish Market.

Flying Fish

I saw the Microsoft campus.

Microsoft Campus

I met Mary's family.

Mary and Marissa

Sadly, I never found McDreamy.

City Girl

But I found Seattle...lovely. :-)

(The entire photoset is right here!)

Skylight Confessions by Alice Hoffman

I am a devotee of Hoffman's writing, and was first in line to read her newest novel, which follows the progression of a family through several generations.

Arlie loses her father and finds her husband the same day, and this novel tracks her life after marriage, then transitions to her son's story, and then finally to her grandson, with threads and weaves throughout that leave you wondering how you got from point A to point B so effortlessly.

The writing is luminous, and the story quick to read, though it was not my favorite of Hoffman's (that would be The Probable Future). Still, anything Hoffman writes is recommended!

Valley of Silence by Nora Roberts

I told you I was eager to read this one - I even had to snag our Bookmobile copy since Main's was checked out (Thanks, Jeanne!).

This is my favorite of the trilogy, as it delves more into the vampires (I love me some vampires!), and of course, features the final battle of good and evil, which is always a good time.

I think Roberts foray into fantasy was successful and interesting, and I hope she tackles it again in the future. This trilogy is recommended!

Nasty Bits by Anthony Bourdain

I'm a big fan of "celebrity chef" Bourdain, and enjoyed his first memoir Kitchen Confidential.

This is a compilation of essays that have been written over the years by Bourdain and range from memorable meals he's had, trips he's taken, slagging other chefs, and just generally talking food. The short explanations in the back of the book help place each essay in context and give a bit of background on its origin.

This is a good essay collection, though if you are unfamiliar with Bourdain, I would recommend starting with KC.

Pants on Fire by Meg Cabot

Mary grabbed this galley at ALA Midwinter, and I grabbed it from her stack of galleys with a squeal of delight. ;-)

This is a stand-alone title from Cabot, and features Katie, a high school senior who lives the perfect life (with perfect boyfriend, grades, and job) until Tommy Sullivan comes back to town...

(insert dramatic music here!)

I tore through this quick YA novel and enjoyed it (as I do everything Cabot writes), and am sure it will be popular with readers when it is released on May 1.

Dance of the Gods by Nora Roberts

This is the second in the Morrigan's Cross trilogy by Roberts, her first foray into fantasy fiction.

We continue to see character development as the circle of six prepare for the final battle against Lilith and lots of big bad vampires, and travel to Geall to ready themselves for battle.

I really enjoyed this read, and am now REALLY eager to read the third novel!

Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

This memoir is alarming, horrifying, hysterical and fast-paced...and is made more so by the fact that it's true.

Burroughs comes from a dysfunctional family, and when his mother can no longer cope, "gives" Burroughs to her psychotherapist, and he is quickly absorbed into an even weirder, more dysfunctional family. Burroughs storytelling is straightforward but biting, honest but edgy, and I found myself compelled to turn the pages to see what would happen next.

A great memoir, and now I'm doubly eager to see the movie recently released...

seattleI'm jetting off for Seattle tomorrow to attend the ALA Midwinter conference.

I'm looking forward to collecting exhibit hall schwag, good meetings with colleagues, yummy seafood, some sightseeing and the search for McDreamy. ;-)

Pictures and more when I return next week!

Size 14 Is Not Fat Either by Meg Cabot

It goes without saying that I love me some Meg Cabot. :-)

Natch, I loved this novel (written for her adult readers), the second "Heather Wells mystery" (after Size 12 Is Not Fat). This time, Heather has to deal with a decapitation in "Death Dorm", and finds herself hot on the trail of the killer...but will the killer find her first?

This is a funny, unique mystery with a fun setting, cool characters, and lots of pop culture references - I loved it!

Highly recommended!

Baby Proof by Emily Giffin

This is the third novel from Something Borrowed author Giffin, and features another jet-setter from New York City. Claudia and Ben met on a blind date, fell in love and married, all with the understanding that they didn't want to have children.

Until Ben changes his mind.

Claudia struggles with her maternal instincts, her relationship with Ben, and her own decisions on what is best for her life. I sympathized so much with the character (as someone who does NOT want children, and hates being chastised and looked down upon for not wanting to be a mother, and understanding my own maternal limitations), and with the struggles she endured in the course of the novel.

Sensitive, well written and touching on a taboo topic, I truly enjoyed this title.

Note: I listened to the audio edition, narrated by Cynthia Nixon, who did a fine job in narrating this novel.

Everything Must Go by Elizabeth Flock

This is another character-driven novel from the author of Me & Emma, but this time, Flock has a male protagonist trapped in a life of the mundane.

This book is full of flashbacks and musings from Henry Powell, a former football star turned men's clothing employee and caretaker of his ailing parents. This book flashes back to his life in high school, then forward as he life moves on every so slowly, and Henry watches his hopes fade along with the clothes in the shop window.

This is a poignant book that has no real beginning, middle or end, but instead is a character study of someone beaten yet unwilling to completely give up hope.

Flock is a gifted writer, who can make the most mundane readable...

I know we're many, many days past Christmas now, but I wanted to share photos and blurbs from our "Christmas in the Woods" - the cabin we rented in Brown County to spend a few days during the holidays.

(Warning: photo heavy post ahead!)

For many, many days leading up to Christmas, we prepared food. And I don't mean a few bits and bobs, I mean enough food to survive a nuclear winter. ;-) One of our final treats before we left was Dad making a "Tony Stewart wreath" all by himself!

Tony Stewart Would Be Proud

We packed up the van (no, we don't travel lightly) and headed for the hills of Brown County, and our cabin that was way, way, WAY out in the woods without anything else in sight!

Staging the Van

Our first view of the cabin (which Mum said reminded her of the house from Psycho)...

First View of Lost N' Found

Isn't it awesome inside? It was totally rustic and pretty, though we weren't fond of the nearly vertical stairs!

Stone Fireplace

We unpacked, we scoped out the place, we set up the tree and got our masses of food into the kitchen and then within minutes, Dad was in the hot tub while Mum and I sat on the porch...


Look, Ma!

We feasted on crab legs (yum!), then played a few rounds of pool before calling it a night (even Mum played!)...

Not Quite Professional

The next morning we ate breakfast, read a bit, then Dad and I went on a "hike" to find firewood and scope out the location. The tiny pink dot is me!


Shortly thereafter, Don and Michelle came over with a surprise - a dog borrowed from Don's aunt. As we are all massive dog people, this was fabulous - it was like rent-a-dog! Introducing Penny, the world's cuddliest dog...


Dinner was clam chowder, shipped from Dad's and mine's favorite restaurant on Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey!

Slaving Cooks

Christmas Eve involved lots of food (this is only half the buffet table!), naps, football and presents!

The Spread

Dad and Penny

Christmas Eve Prezzies

Me and The Donald

Dad's new pimp slippers!

Pimp Slippers!

My fab new robe!

My Fluffy Bathrobe

Michelle loves the quilt I made (with Jeanne's help)...

Michelle's New Quilt

The infamous eggrolls....it's a long story...;-)

The Infamous Eggrolls

Christmas morning brought stockings from Santa, and quilts to open!

Christmas Stocking

It Fits!

Admiring the Quilt

Wrapping paper detritus...

No More Presents

The rest of the day was spent watching telly in our pajamas and snacking before calling it a day as the snow fell outside. We got up early and packed, cleaned and emptied out our idyllic little cabin, then locked the door for the last time...

Saying Goodbye

Leaving the cabin behind...


What a wonderful holiday, and what memories!

(To see the entire photoset, click here)

The Kindness of Strangers by Katrina Kittle

The cover and the enigmatic description of this novel piqued my interest, and once I began reading, I couldn't put this story down.

Sarah and her two sons are trying to pick up their lives after the loss of their husband/father when a scandal rocks their neighborhood, and brings a new member into the home. I can't really tell you the scandal without giving away the story, but it's harrowing and difficult to read, though more common than many think.

This is a wonderfully written, amazingly engrossing tale that I flew through in a day. If you are looking for fiction with drama and redemption, then pick up this novel. Highly recommended!

Cannery Row by John Steinbeck

I've vowed to read this since visiting Monterey twice in the last few years and walking along Cannery Row!

This short novel is set against the backdrop of Cannery Row, but focuses much more on the myriad characters that inhabit the area, and how they intersect and interrelate throughout this story, and how sometimes the best of intentions can go awry.

Despite some of the darker tones of other Steinbeck novels, this one remains stubbornly upbeat and optimistic, which is a nice change from the others.

Looking to read a classic from this author? This is a good one!

One Mississippi by Mark Childress

This was highly recommended to me by several fellow library folk, and what an amazingly well-written book, set in the early 1970s of Mississippi when race and fitting in where still a daily conflict.

Daniel has recently relocated to Mississippi and quickly finds a new best friend, but on prom night a tragic accident takes its toll on Daniel, their friendship, and the lives of those that surround them.

This is a page turner of a book, and the end was completely unexpected for me. A tremendous study of a different era - recommended!

Time for another daily dose of the TinyTown sheriff reports - typed exactly as they appear in the local newspaper...

  • caller is suspicious of a telephone call from a telemarketer

  • caller wants the deer that has been hit

  • caller is concerned about mud all over the road

  • caller is missing money, caller left bank with four money envelopes when the caller got to the parking lot she was missing three envelopes

  • caller advised guys have been peeping in her windows, throwing sticks and ringing the door bell

  • deer stand stolen

  • caller locked out of running car, there is a child inside

  • caller advised that a maroon vehicle pulling a white passenger car by chain, almost caused an accident

But then again, maybe you do. :-)

I was tagged by the lovely Maire:

  1. I'm related to Florence Nightingale on my father's side, though I would make a crummy nurse.

  2. My first concert was Barry Manilow. And he was fabulous. :-)

  3. I can only wear jewelry made out of real gold, otherwise I turn it green and eat through it in a matter of days.

  4. I own 23 pairs of black shoes.

  5. I almost attended Webster College instead of Indiana University.
And now for the tag o' five: Carrie, Denise, Meg, PoBaL, Layne

As Maire said, I have decided to do Project 365 this year, taking a picture a day for the whole year and keeping it as a Flickr photoset.

Right now, I'm tentatively calling it:

Photos of the Mundane

Because I'm sure it will be exceptionally boring at times, but hey, it'll be a year in the life. ;-)

Wanna follow along? Just visit the Flickr photoset from time to time...

(No, it's not nearly as cool as John Green's Brotherhood 2.0 idea, and if you haven't gone to check it out, do. It's a riot. *grin*)

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. 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 2006 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 rock...

Just Like You Imagined - Nine Inch Nails
(I rediscovered how f'n rad this song is from the 300 trailer. Yummy.)

Somewhere a Clock is Ticking - Snow Patrol
(This is such a powerful song, more so that I heard it on Grey's Anatomy when Izzie cut Denny's LVAD wire and Burke got shot. Oh.My.God.)

Requiem for a Dream (Big Damn Remix) - remixed by Literary Lemming, originally by Clint Mansell
(This is a remix done by a Serenity fan, and the music combined with the clips from the movie just rocks my socks.)

The Perfect Drug - Nine Inch Nails
(I don't know why, but I finally "got" this song this year. And it's been on repeat ever since.)

Behind - Lacquer
(I had to hunt this down when I saw the amazing video for the song. Totally mesmerizing.)

Non-Entity - Nine Inch Nails
(Hearing this in concert demanded a download, and the combination of simple piano and Trent's plaintive voice just get me.)

Boogie Shoes - KC and the Sunshine Band
(I've always loved this song, and I love its connection to SportsNight, but after dancing to it on our cruise, it's become my "make a day happier by dancing like you did in the Bahamas" song.)

Living Dead Girl (Subliminal Seduction Remix) - Rob Zombie
(Hot, Hot, HOT rage song.)

It's No Good (Bass Bounce Mix) - Depeche Mode
(I rediscovered this forgotten remix, and have been jamming ever since.)

SOS - Rhianna
(She sampled Tainted Love. Of course I adore shakin' my ass to it. You do too. Admit it.)

Lullaby (Remix) - The Cure
(Lullaby was on my playlist last year, so I decided to hit up the remix this year. Still lovelovelove this song best from Robert.)

Unforgiven II - Metallica
(Whee! I downloaded Metallica from iTunes, after all the crap with Napster a few years ago. I haven't heard this song in ages, but it's still amazing.)

Breaking Free - Gabriella and Troy
(It's from High School Musical, okay? It makes me happy. Bite me. *grin*)

Pour Some Sugar On Me - Def Leppard
(After seeing them live this summer at Deer Creek, this became my anthem for the rest of the summer. One lump or two? *grin*)

Clubbed to Death [Kurayamino Variation] - Rob Dougan
(This is always on the playlist, and has been since 1999.)


Catch Me When I Fall by Nicci French

I found this novel completely engrossing, and read it in less than a day. Holly seems to have it all...a good job, a loving husband, beauty...but she seems to crave excitement and danger, and one night her world begins to spin out of control, and what follows is a tale of stalking, suspense and terror.

This is a semi-suspenseful tale of whether Holly is paranoid, ill, or just living the good life, and the reader isn't sure throughout. I wasn't sure how this novel would end, but found myself satisfied with the conclusion. The first 2/3 of the novel are from Holly's point of view, and then it switches to her best friend Meg's point of view, which could have been jarring but was actually a good transition.

I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I got into this novel - recommended!

I've been dying for months to share the quilts I've made, and then gave as Christmas presents, to friends and family.

So, without further ado, the quilt gallery of the last few months!

Mum's Quilt - The Colours of Trinidad

Mum's Quilt

Michelle's Quilt - The Colours of India (front)

Michelle's Quilt: Front

Michelle's quilt was handquilted by my friend Jeanne (almost 35 hours of quilting!), and looked absolutely AMAZING...

Michelle's Quilt - The Colours of India (back)

Michelle's Quilt: Back

Dad's Quilt - Huge Flannel Fuzziness

Dad's Quilt

Jen's Quilt - Black and White Sevens and Nines

Jen's Quilt

Jason and Sean's Quilt - Fancy Fabrics

Jason and Sean's Quilt

This one was also handquilted by my friend Jeanne, but I learned how and helped out with the stitching (well, I tried!), contributing almost 8-10 hours of the total 70 hours of quilting.

I think everyone liked their quilts, and I loved making each and every one of them! Who knows what quilt I will make next, but I think it's time to bust one out for myself, no? ;-)

Per tradition, it's time for my annual wrap-up of all the books I read in 2006. I felt like I hardly read at all this year (or read a couple of BIG books that took weeks on their own), but I did okay. The stats...

Number of books read in 2006: 152
Number of books read in 2005 (for comparison): 162
Average of books read per month: 12.6
Average of books read per week: 2.9
Daily average: 1 book read every 2.4 days
Percent of fiction read: 81%
Percent of nonfiction read: 19%
Number of audiobooks "read": 22

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

Ballis, Stacey. Room for Improvement. 2006.

Brockmann, Suzanne. Flashpoint. 2006.

Cabot, Meg. Avalon High. 2006.

Evans, Nicholas. The Divide. 2006.

Green, John. Looking for Alaska. 2006.

Green, John. An Abundance of Katherines. 2006.

Kidd, Sue Monk. The Mermaid Chair. 2006.

Krakauer, Jon. Into Thin Air. 2006.

Levitt, Steven D. Freakonomics. 2006.

Meyer, Stephenie. Twilight. 2006.

Meyer, Stephenie. New Moon. 2006.

It goes without saying that anything written by a Weiner, Cabot, or Evanovich is automatically on the list. :-)

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 2007! Happy New Year!

Dark Side of the Moon by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Kenyon has often been compared to Laurell K. Hamilton, and her latest book hit the NYT Bestseller list, so I thought it was time to give it a read.

I like the dark setting mixed with wry humor, but found myself really, really confused by all the god, goddesses, worlds, warring factions and complexities of the "Dark Hunter" world, though I thought the writing and the relationships were interesting and well done. Perhaps if I had started at the beginning, I would be more attune to the myriad characters...

An interesting novel on the darker forces of nature (vampires, wereanimals, etc), but a few too many characters and worlds for me...

Hot Target by Suzanne Brockmann

Okay, I'm hooked.

After tearing through Flashpoint recently, I wanted to read another Brockmann book to see if it was as good.

It was.

I love the combination of SEALs, FBI and security forces as the main characters, but in civilian situations - this time, protecting a threatened movie director who happens to be young, female and more vulnerable than people think. Brockmann skillfully weaves all the SEAL stuff with romance, suspense and a lot of complexities in character.

I loved it - I can't wait to read more in the Troubleshooters, Inc. series!

Midnight in Death by J.D. Robb

I've never read any of the "In Death" series by J.D. Robb (otherwise known as Nora Roberts), though many of my patrons rave about the series.

This is a police procedural series, set in 2057-2058, and while there are a few nifty technologies included, not enough to make you feel like you are in a Sci-Fi novel. I liked the characters well enough, and the mystery was intriguing but wrapped up neatly by the end.

I'm not sure I would clamor to read every title, but I can see a certain appeal to fans of Roberts' style of novels.

Note: I listened to the audio edition, narrated by Susan Ericksen. Her reading was well done, and she did the various accents well. This is a quick listen, only three discs, but this is one of the shorter stories in the series - originally part of a collection.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

This has been one of those "buzz books" that everyone is talking about, but no one I know has read yet to tell me about it!

Margaret is contacted by an aging author who wants to tell the "real story" of her life, and as Margaret begins to interview Vida Winter, she is thrust into a story of ghosts, a ruin of a house, murder, sexual repression, madness and family secrets that she has to unravel.

There are a lot of strands of this story, and at times I found myself a bit lost as I tried to unravel the mystery along with Margaret. The writing, however, is absolutely breathtaking - some of the phrases rattling around in my brain long after I heard them. However, I was disappointed in, what I felt, was a rather abrupt ending.

If you are looking for a Gothic/Victorian novel full of mystery and madness, pick up this title. Intriguing...

Note: I listened to the audio edition, narrated by Bianca Amato and Jill Tanner. Both of their voices were perfect, and melded well together. The recording was 13 discs, and I listened to it with intervals in between, which may have led to some of my confusion. The recording, however, was fantastic!

California Demon by Julie Kenner

This is the follow up to Carpe Demon, which I read and enjoyed last Christmas, so I was eager to dive into this book and see what's new in the world of demon hunting in California. :-)

Kate Connor is still trying to balance her family life and the demands of being a reinstated demon hunter (think Buffy in suburbia), but this time she receives a message from beyond the grave that spins her into a bigger mystery - all while still battling the bad guys.

This is a well-written, smart and sassy read that I really enjoyed. I highly recommend this if you liked Buffy, or if you like chick lit. Great!

Devil in the Junior League by Linda Francis Lee

This is one of those car crash books...you want to look away, but you can't.

Frede Ware is one of the top members of the Junior League of Willow Creek, TX when her world starts to fall apart, but she has to try and keep up appearances as best she can. Her lawyer agrees to help her in exchange for Frede getting his "less than desirable" wife into the JL. This is fully of catty, vicious and wicked behavior, but ultimately works out for the best.

A fun glimpse into the world of women who put appearances above all else. An engaging read!

Out Of This World by Jill Shalvis

This is a fun chick lit book with bit of the supernatural thrown in for good measure.

Rachel inherits a B&B in Alaska, and takes her friend Kellan up to check it out. They are met with lots of strange goings-on, no way to return to civilization, and a growing attraction to one another.

This is a fun, feisty, sexy tale that I read in only a few hours. Fun!

Bubbles Unbound by Sarah Strohmeyer

Lots of folks have recommended this series to me as something for Janet Evanovich fans to read, and I can definitely see similarities...goofy main character, dark male lead, bumbling but ultimately triumphant detective work.

Bubbles is a hairdresser turned sometimes-journalist who is willing to do anything for her "big story". Throw in a surly photographer, a mystery, and a lot of witty dialogue and you have Bubbles.

A fun, feisty read for all Evanovich fans!

Morrigan's Cross by Nora Roberts

This is the first in a new trilogy from Roberts, and is her first foray into fantasy writing. The fate of the world relies on a group brought together by fate to battle a vampire older than time and to save the world.

Of course, it involves time travel, battle sequences, and people hooking up after knowing each other for a couple of days. Typical Roberts - but with magic! :-)

This is a quick, entertaining read, and I'm going to check out the next two titles in the series as well. A different read from Roberts!