Saturday, April 4, 2015

Since You've Been Gone


Emily, the main character in Since You've Been Gone, is suddenly friendless. Her best friend Sloane disappeared at the beginning of what was supposed to be a great summer. Instead, Emily is at odds with nothing to do and no one to hang out with. Sloane didn't leave her new contact information, but did leave a To Do list for Emily. Emily starts working on the list and makes new friends, including her school's Golden Boy, Frank Porter. The blossoming romance between Emily and Frank gave me butterflies in my stomach. So cute. Emily's transformation over the summer is remarkable. The To Do list takes Emily out of her shell.

I'm always a fan of YA romances, especially when they are stand-alones like Since You've Been Gone. I liked this one so much I first read it in October of 2014. And I just reread it again. Also great is Matson's Second Chance Summer.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Extraordinary, Ordinary People

In reading biographies and memoirs, I am always taken aback by how many varied people the subject knew. Condoleezza Rice is no different. Rice knew the girls killed in 16th St. Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham in 1963. She was friends with Denver Broncos players. She took a class taught by Madeleine Albright's father. And then, of course, there's all the political figures she met in her roles in the Reagan and Bush (41, she doesn't go into 43's administration) presidencies. 

This memoir, while including Rice's jobs, both academic and political, is the story of her family and the impact of her parents. Rice grew up in Birmingham, then moved to Denver when her father got a job at the University of Denver. After getting her PhD at the University of Denver, she went to Stanford. She also had several periods in Washington, D.C. As it's a story about her family, the book ends when her father dies. It doesn't include the last 15 years of her life. 

One of the funniest stories Rice related was when the Berlin Wall fell. She was working at the National Security Council. They were scooped by CNN and learned about the events on TV like the rest of America.

At the end, when her father dies, he knew she was going to become National Security Adviser, but never knew she would also become Secretary of State. This reminded me a little of Obama's grandmother dying just before the 2008 elections. Rice's father gave so much towards Rice's success that it's sad he never got to see her as Secretary of State. 

Rice's mother died of a brain tumor at 61, which hit a little close to home as my mother-in-law recently passed away from the same thing at 60. I cried through most of that chapter. 

I listened to the audio book, which Rice narrated. I liked the fact that it felt like she was talking to me.

All in all, Rice has a fascinating story. She has been a witness to many important historical events. I don't know what she's been up to in the past few years, but it's probably as diverse and interesting as everything in Extraordinary, Ordinary People.  

One downside of most non-fiction audio books is the lack of pictures included in the paper version. Luckily, my library had a copy of Extraordinary, Ordinary People. One notable exception: Tina Fey's Bossypants, which included some great photos in a PDF.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Reading Promise

What a disappointment. I love reading and books, so a book about reading is a sure winner, right?

The idea of this book had such promise, but the execution was dismal. The book had parts about the reading promise, but a lot of other parts that were just stories about the author's life and not related to books or reading. I found the narrator to be too precocious and her father to be a bit of a martyr about being a single parent and being a school librarian.

I read to my daughter, but probably should read more. I picked this up thinking that it would give me inspiration. Instead it just wasted some of my limited reading time.

I know parents who still read to their tweens and teens. I remember loving being read to. Having a streak like Ozma and her father is something to aim for, but sadly this book didn't entertain.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Famous in Love

Do you ever read and enjoy a book and then see negative reviews on Goodreads? I really hate when that happens. It makes me question my judgment. Famous in Love was one of those books.

Famous in Love the story of a teenager picked to star in the latest YA hit book's movie adaptation. Her two leading men are potential love interests. (Though one is 22 while she's 17, which made me a little skeeved out.) The movie is based on a book trilogy (a la Divergent or Hunger Games) and this book only covers the making the first movie.

I can see where some of this book's negative comments are justified (insta-love), but I sped through it.  I'm looking forward to the next book in the series, which will be out later this year. The series is scheduled to have at least 3 books. Suspend Some belief and it's a fun read.

I purchased Famous in Love for my library. I'm anxious to see what the circ stats look like. I hope people pick it up and enjoy it like I did.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Kissing Ted Callahan (And Other Guys)

slight spoilers:

I read an excerpt of this from the YA Buzz Books Spring 2015. It intrigued me. I enjoyed this, but wasn't crazy about it and didn't like it as much as I thought I would. I liked the platonic relationship between Riley and Reid. It's nice to read something different than the best friends falling in love plot that's common. The loss of the book Reid and Riley shared lead Riley to think the same thing I did: How stupid to write all of that down. (As in these characters are stupid.) Ted wasn't much of a character. He was just there. As Riley's love interests Garrick was so much more interesting. The rest of the characters seemed to be too young and too old at the same time. Uneven. I will purchase for my library, but it won't be at the top of my list.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

New Tag: Purchased for Library

I'm the YA person at my library. Part of my job is collection development. Since I started at the beginning of last summer, I've been a weeding machine. It's hard pulling books that you loved when you were younger, but I always remind myself it's so the new books have more visibility.

Probably my favorite thing about my job is buying new books. Our library has a pretty small book budget. My portion of it is approximately $4700. Can you imagine getting to spend $4700 on books? It's a dream come true. 

I'm making a new tag for books that I've purchased (purchased for library) so you can see what I'm spending some of the money on. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Forgotten Killer

I remember hearing about Amanda Know but the case wasn't something I paid attention to until I read Douglas Preston's The Monster of Florence. (Link to my review of that book.) Preston was (insanely) accused of murder by the same prosecutor as Knox. His story was unreal--this happened in modern times? in an industrialized democracy? in Europe? 

Since then I've paid much more attention to the case. This Kindle Single explains Rudy Guede and his role in Kercher's death. I can't imagine how anyone with any facts (as opposed to the Italian police and prosecutors who said they just knew she was guilty without any evidence) would think Knox and her boyfriend had committed this crime. 

If you are at all interested in the case or in the justice system, you should read this. 

Our American justice system is far from perfect, but Knox's story will realize how lucky we are for the rights and liberties we have in the US. Amanda Knox's story tribulations with the Italian court system do not appear to be over. I hope Preston's research will help her in some way. It convinced me that she didn't commit the murder.