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Cybils 2016

23 Sep

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A few weeks ago, the message came that applications were open for Cybils judges. I debated. Should I or shouldn’t I?  For the last 2 years, I served as a Round 2 judge for YA non-fiction.Round 1 judges narrow down nominations to 5-9 top titles. Round two judges select the best of the shortlist.

I knew I didn’t have the time to be a Round 1 judge. Book nominations open October 1 and close on the 15th. You’d be amazed how many books get nominated in that short time.  Round 1 readers start reading right away and have to have a shortlist by the end of December. Round 2 judges get started after that. We have to read all the titles on the short list and debate their merits, coming up with a decision that can be announced on February 14th.

Except this year, I won’t be reading; I’ll be listening. A few new categories were added this year. One of them was audiobooks and that is the category to which I applied and was selected to be a Round 2 judge.  I wanted to try something new and I have really upped my audiobook consumption this year. When you apply, you can apply to up to three categories. Regardless of the category, you have to attach a link to a blog post that shows your ability to review that category.

I am excited to be a judge again this year and excited to stretch myself and take on a new challenge.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Book VS Movie

29 Jul

We had to turn in our laptops in June. They will be replaced in late August when we go back. Although I miss having a second computer at home for the summer, I will mostly miss it for the sticker I had on the front, which was given to me by a former colleague.

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I recently finished listening to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. 

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It took a little longer than I’d planned because I was listening in the car and I am not driving as much these days. It was great fun reconnecting with the Hogwarts gang and I noticed more humor in the books than I remembered. I also noticed more omissions in the movie adaptation. As I listened, I could visualize the movie in my head, which is why certain missing bits stood out.

The book opens on Harry’s birthday, while the movie begins with Dobby and  the imminent dinner party with the Masons. When Ron, Fred & George come to get Harry at the Dursleys’ house, the book mentions that Fred & George have to break into the cupboard to get Harry’s trunk, then carry it up the stairs. Not in the movie.

The first really big omission is what Harry sees in and hears in Borgin and Burkes. Rowling was ding some serious foreshadowing in the book, but Harry doesn’t really hear anything in the movie.

The book has several other significant things that the movie does not.

  1. The book’s Deathday Party is completely omitted, necessitating the movie to come up with a different way for Harry to encounter the frozen Mrs. Norris.
  2. Hermione saves Harry from the rogue bludger in the movie, but Fred & George restrain it in the book.
  3. The book is full of foreshadowing of Ginny’s role in the Chamber of Secrets, but none of this appears in the movie.
  4. The Valentine’s dwarves of the book are completely missing from the movie, which I think is a crying shame.

The Harry Potter Wiki has an extensive list of differences at the bottom the Chamber of Secrets page. 

I have Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban on hold. I am #13 in line on 11 copies. Fortunately, I have a few other audiobooks I can listen to in the meantime.

Summer Driving

24 Jun

I have a summer driving plan and it doesn’t involve a destination. I want to listen to the entire Harry Potter series on audiobooks in  the car. The project will take me longer than the summer, I am sure. But, next year marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of the first book, published as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in Britain, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone un the US.

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I’m about halfway through this book and I am pleasantly surprised at how faithful the movies were to the original. I had thought that the movie intro, where Dumbledore shows up with what we later find out is a deluminator and McGonagall appears as a cat,  were innovation by the production company. Listening to the book, I know realize that these were, indeed part of the original book that I’d forgotten.

I am at the part where Harry has just played in his first Quidditch match. I can’t help but have the movie version of things paying in my head now, as I listen, and I suspect young people nowadays have probably seen the movies before they read the books. I haven’t read the books since 2007, when The Deathly Hallows came out and I reread the books to refresh my memory. I am surprised at how much I still like this first book.

This afternoon, Lucy and I are taking a little road trip to Woodburn to scout out the new park we will be using for the Oregon Basset Hound Games in a few weeks. Harry, Ron and  Hermione will be traveling with us.

The end of the line

6 Apr

And so, I have come to the end of an era. I just finished listening to the last audiobook in Gail Carriger’s Finishing School  series. Melancholy sigh.

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Yes, the steampunk adventures of Miss Sophronia  Temminnick are over. I will admit that the dramatic finale is most satisfying. All four books were narrated by read by Moira Quirk and her performance was equally as engaging as Katherine Kellgren’s narration of the Jacky Farber series, which I adored. In both cases, I listened to all the books on audiobook because their narration was so spectacular I felt that my silent reading of the books would pale in comparison.

Publisher’s Summary: If one must flirt…flirt with danger.

Lessons in the art of espionage aboard Mademoiselle Geraldine’s floating dirigible have become tedious without Sophronia’s sweet sootie Soap nearby. She would much rather be using her skills to thwart the dastardly Picklemen, yet her concerns about their wicked intentions are ignored, and now she’s not sure whom to trust. What does the brusque werewolf dewan know? On whose side is the ever-stylish vampire Lord Akeldama? Only one thing is certain: a large-scale plot is under way, and when it comes to fruition, Sophronia must be ready to save her friends, her school, and all of London from disaster–in decidedly dramatic fashion, of course.

Fortunately, Ms Carriger has more books of a similar ilk and I have already placed Soulless

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the first book in the Parasol Protectorate  series on hold. I opted again for the audiobook. Although not narrated by Ms Quick, I have read that the narrator of this series, Emily Grey, is worthy of the task. We shall see.

2016 Hub Challenge Check-In #6

6 Mar

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I’m not sure where this week went. While the previous week dragged, this one flew by in a rush. I only really finished one book for the Challenge, though I hope to finish an audiobook this afternoon.

I finished this slim, small book

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The title of The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks by Sam Maggs, says it all. This is a how to book for fangirls.

Summary:Fanfic, cosplay, cons, books, memes, podcasts, vlogs, OTPs and RPGs and MMOs and more—it’s never been a better time to be a girl geek. The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy is the ultimate handbook for ladies living the nerdy life, a fun and feminist take on the often male-dominated world of geekdom. With delightful illustrations and an unabashed love for all the in(ternet)s and outs of geek culture, this book is packed with tips, playthroughs, and cheat codes for everything from starting an online fan community to planning a convention visit to supporting fellow female geeks in the wild.

I think if you are a beginning fangirl, this is a great place to start.

I am still listening to the 16 disc (20 hour) audiobook of Libba Bray’s Lair of Dreams, book 2 of the Diviner’s series.

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Summary: After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. With her uncanny ability to read people’s secrets, she’s become a media darling, earning the title “America’s Sweetheart Seer.” Everyone’s in love with the city’s newest It Girl…everyone except the other Diviners.

Piano-playing Henry DuBois and Chinatown resident Ling Chan are two Diviners struggling to keep their powers a secret—for they can walk in dreams. And while Evie is living the high life, victims of a mysterious sleeping sickness are turning up across New York City.

As Henry searches for a lost love and Ling strives to succeed in a world that shuns her, a malevolent force infects their dreams. And at the edges of it all lurks a man in a stovepipe hat who has plans that extend farther than anyone can guess…As the sickness spreads, can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld to save the city?

There are a lot of characters and the book is long. As with The Diviners, I don’t love the story enough to have read the actual print book. But the narrator of the audiobook,  January LaVoy, is excellent. She ably differentiates the multitudinous character voices in an authentic way. When I finish it, this all bring me to a total of 20 books for the Challenge, 5 away from the minimum required.

2016 Hub Challenge Check-In #5

28 Feb

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It was a good/bad week for the HUB Reading Challenge. I read a good book and listened to a not that great audiobook, both of which are parts of series.

This week, I listened to Half Wild by Sally Green.

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I read the first book in the trilogy, Half Bad, when it came out in 2014 and really liked it. Maybe it’s been too long since I read it, but I didn’t enjoy Half Wild  nearly as much. The narration by Carl Prekopp, was excellent. I just couldn’t get into the story and really only managed to finish it  because I was knitting while I listened. Nathan’s obsession with Annalise was not realign interesting to me, especially since I can’t really remember her from Half Bad.  There seems to be a lot of gallivanting all over Europe and shapeshifting in a stream of consciousness sort of narration, but overall I just didn’t love it. At this point, I don’t care about any of the characters enough to read the third book, Half Lost,  which comes out later this year.

On a happier note, I really enjoyed Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.

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For the last few years, I’ve seen the books of  Bardugo’s first series, the Grisha trilogy, on the shelves of my local library. They’ve intrigued me, but I’d never read any of them, despite a strong fan base.

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I got an ARC of Six of Crows when I was in San Francisco this summer and finally got around to reading it.

I had a little trouble getting into it at first. I have this name issue and have abandoned books because I hate the pretentious names an author has given his/her characters. This happened most recently with Marie Lu’s Rose Society series. The names felt too forced to be believed. I abandoned the first book of the series and will probably never pick it up again.

I worried a little as I started Six of Crows that I would have the same reaction. I DO believe that reading it might have been made easier if I’d read the Grisha Trilogy, even though this is a separate first book in a series. However, as I got going, I got the rhythm of the world Bardugo had created and really connected with the characters.

Set in the same world as the Grisha trilogy, Six of Crows follows a group of six outcasts as they embark on deadly heist to break someone out of an impregnable prison. Bardugo is a compelling writer. What I really like is how she unfolds the story. The plot is set in motion and then, as events unfold, each character’s backstory is slowly revealed to deepen our understanding and connection to them. Bardugo suspends the plot in strategic places to reveal the backstory. Then, she suspends the backstory to move the plot forward. It is very effective and it certainly made me want to keep reading. I am looking forward to the release of the next book in the series, Crooked Kingdom, later this year.

2016 Hub Challenge Check-In #4

21 Feb

A few days ago, my twin sister sent me an e-mail telling me she’d just finished a great book called The Boston Girl and wondered had I heard of it? I laughed because I’d read it this week too! We don’t have many twin moments, but this was surely one.

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Sometimes you just want a good sweeping family saga and this one was really quite enjoyable.

Publisher’s Summary: An unforgettable novel about a young Jewish woman growing up in Boston in the early twentieth century, told “with humor and optimism…through the eyes of an irresistible heroine” (People)—from the acclaimed author of The Red Tent.

Anita Diamant’s “vivid, affectionate portrait of American womanhood” (Los Angeles Times), follows the life of one woman, Addie Baum, through a period of dramatic change. Addie is The Boston Girl, the spirited daughter of an immigrant Jewish family, born in 1900 to parents who were unprepared for America and its effect on their three daughters. Growing up in the North End of Boston, then a teeming multicultural neighborhood, Addie’s intelligence and curiosity take her to a world her parents can’t imagine—a world of short skirts, movies, celebrity culture, and new opportunities for women. Addie wants to finish high school and dreams of going to college. She wants a career and to find true love. From the one-room tenement apartment she shared with her parents and two sisters, to the library group for girls she joins at a neighborhood settlement house, to her first, disastrous love affair, to finding the love of her life, eighty-five-year-old Addie recounts her adventures with humor and compassion for the naïve girl she once was.

Written with the same attention to historical detail and emotional resonance that made Diamant’s previous novels bestsellers, The Boston Girl is a moving portrait of one woman’s complicated life in twentieth century America, and a fascinating look at a generation of women finding their places in a changing world.

My sister listened to it on an Audiobook narrated by Linda Lavin and I gave it a listen…Lavin is fantastic.

Additionally, I finished  The Notorious RBG a short but excellent biography of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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I’d read Sonia Sotomayor’s memoir a few years ago and was curious to read about another Supreme Court Judge, especially as things heat up over appointing Justice Scalia’s successor.

I knew she must have been appointed for a good reason, but I had no idea about how much she had done for equal rights for man as well as women. Having read this short book, I’d actually like to read something a little longer about her.

Just in time!

29 Jan

I’m about 2 discs from finishing Winter, the audiobook I’m listening to on my daily commute.

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And a good thing, too, because guess who will be at Powells in Beaverton on Thursday. MARISSA MEYER! My teaching partner and I are both planning on being there, as are a large number of the girls we teach. We’ve been talking about it and I have it on my homework board.

She’ll be there promoting Stars Above,  a collection of stories about characters from The Lunar Chronicles  series.

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And now I have a confession to make. Unless things change radically in these last two discs. I will not read Fairest,  which tells Levana’s story. I dislike her so much, I don’t want to know what happened to turn her into the manipulative evil queen I’ve come to hate. My teaching partner says she will read it because she would like to know. Maybe I’ll ask for a summary.

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It is a little bittersweet, coming to the end of a series, but I have really enjoyed the journey with Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and Winter.

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Making me LOL

2 Dec

Lucy is a silly girl and her goofy antics have had me laughing, which is making Fiona’s loss bearable.

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I don’t often read humorous books, but I’m listening to Finding Audrey  by Sophie Kinsella  during my daily commute and I am actually laughing out loud as  drive.

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Gemma Whelan, the narrator is spot on and these Brits know how to do this sort of off beat humor. It isn’t really a funny story, more of a tragicomedy. The eponymous Audrey is slowly emerging  from the fog of Social Anxiety Disorder that resulted from vicious bullying.She wears dark glasses and avoids contact with people outside her family. But under the guidance of her therapist, Dr. Sarah, who feels rather real, Audrey is pushing herself to move forward.

Parents are often undeveloped or completely absent in YA novels, but Audrey’s parents are farcically realistic and form a fitting counterpoint to the real struggle Audrey feels. There’s a little love story, but it doesn’t overshadow the power that is Audrey, facing her fears.

This might be one of the best YA books I’ve read about mental illness this year. Kinsella shows recovery from mental illness as a long process of two steps forward, one step back. Even at the novel’s close, Audrey has not been miraculously cured.

Dealing with grief

19 Nov

I picked up Fiona’s ashes yesterday. They are sitting on a shelf with the ashes of Louie and Clara. They each have a picture there to help me remember. Fiona is on the left, Louie on the right and Clara in the middle. We all deal with grief in our own way.

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Given what happened in Paris ( and Lebanon) this past week, I want to bring your attention to this little gem of a novel.

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If you’ve not read it, you should. Especially now. It is a book from a few years back, but it is definitely worth picking up in the aftermath of yet another horrible terrorist attack. It is set five years after the  co-ordinated terrorist attacks around London on July 7, 2005, that killed 62 people.The people in this story are all dealing with grief in their own way, but it is not a very healthy way.

Publisher’s Summary: My sister Rose lives on the mantelpiece. Well, some of her does. A collarbone, two ribs, a bit of skull, and a little toe.

To ten-year-old Jamie, his family has fallen apart because of the loss of someone he barely remembers: his sister Rose, who died five years ago in a terrorist bombing. To his father, life is impossible to make sense of when he lives in a world that could so cruelly take away a ten-year-old girl. To Rose’s surviving fifteen year old twin, Jas, everyday she lives in Rose’s ever-present shadow, forever feeling the loss like a limb, but unable to be seen for herself alone.

Told with warmth and humor, this powerful novel is a sophisticated take on one family’s struggle to make sense of the loss that’s torn them apart… and their discovery of what it means to stay together.

Jamie is a sensitive boy whose new best friend happens to be a Muslim girl. He is trying to navigate a new school, bullies and a father who hates all Muslims. Jamie is left on his own a lot and  wants his family to be whole again but doesn’t know how to make that happen.  It is a tear-jerker, so have a hankie at the ready, but it is also a heart-warmer.
I actually listened to this a few years ago, but it has stuck with me. I must say that it was marvelously narrated by David Tennant. If you like audiobooks, I highly recommend this one.

Randy Ribay

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