Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Intrigue at Highbury (Or, Emma's Match) by Carrie Bebris

This is the fourth book in the Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery series. I have read the other 3 and found them amusing, but I am going to stop this one at page 65 of 317. They have gotten increasingly far-fetched, and this one isn't even interesting to me. It goes against my nature to stop a book in the middle, but I am making the decision to return it to the NPL tomorrow. I have other books to read (namely, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman) that have been nominated for the Volunteer State Book Awards. I've got to get back to books I'm enjoying; I read for pleasure now (and sometimes it is a pleasure to read for information, i.e. the NON-FICTION travel guide of Scotland I have sitting on the coffee table right now).

Don't worry, though, fellow Janeites! I can't wait to get my hands on Stephanie Barron's Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron: A Jane Austen Mystery.

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon

I finished listening to Book 4 of the Outlander series. After each one, I need a little break; once I get back to them, I can't stop. I am so thankful to Susan for introducing me to them and encouraging me to listen to something new (not Pride and Prejudice for the 18th time...still love it!)
The best aspect of this series if the changing points of view. The Outlander (Book 1) was engrossing and had the change in time period to keep it spicy. Dragonfly in Amber (Book 2) was interesting because it also switched back and forth between present tense and flashback. Voyager (Book 3) finally shows some times when only Jamie is present and Claire is elsewhere, so a new point of view is introduced here. Drums of Autumn (Book 4) alternates between the slowly converging stories of Roger, Brianna, and Claire. This story was so satisfying to me until the last 1/8 of the book when the dramatic irony/ one character's determination not to accept happiness almost overwhelmed me.
This book was very exciting for me because both Susan and I saw a prediction come true. She had predicted that we had not read the last of Black Jack Randall. I had predicted (back in Dragonfly) that Jamie's tombstone had been placed near Black Jack as a clue for Claire and not as a grave-marker. BTW: Susan predicts that their deaths in the house-fire that will be reported in the paper are a rouse to fool someone in order to make a fresh start in life (compare to fire at Jamie's print shop in Dragonfly).

When I bought the actual books for Susan and myself last year, I also bought The Outlandish Companion. I am still working my way through it. It only covers material from the first four books. If you buy it, I suggest not purchasing it until after you have read the first four. No, possessing it but not reading it is not an option. If it is in your house, you will open it and figure out some things before it is time. I mean it! I tried not to read, but even reading the glossary of names gives away some information. I was glad, however, to have this at the end of the four books. It cleared up what happened to Nayawenne; I somehow failed to make all of the right connections.

One of my goals this year is to teach students to find an interest in a book and go from there. Susan and I have learned so much from our reading in the Outlander series. We have further studied Bonnie Prince Charlie, Scottish dress and weaponry, the Moraveans, and Scottish travel. In fact, I have the Scotland DK Travel Guide next to me right now and the DK Eyewitness Scotland book on order from the NPL. Intellectual stagnancy is a drag and knowledge rocks!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I love this website: For each book spotlighted on the website, there is a brief hook, a list of honors, author information, a playlist selected by the author to accompany the books, questions about the book, and party ideas (for some books).
I plan to use it with my school's Volunteer State Book Awards Book Club. Students are reading one book on the list every month. 5 of the nominees are on this website, so I have plenty to choose from for our meetings.
Please check it out!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Matched by Ally Condie

How this Book was Chosen: The JOHS library gets pre-released books every few months or so. We put them on a shelf and only tell senior library workers or regulars about them. One such "regular," a boot-straps kind of girl who always has a book in her hand and makes my day with our conversations, chose this book. She read it in about 2 days, and then she asked me to read it. She has read lots of these, but she has never asked me to read one. So, it took me a week, but I read it.
Story: This story is set in a dystopia. I have always liked dystopian stories (Animal Farm, The Village), but reading this story helped my student discover that she likes it as well: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! (I digress...) On some level, this is also a classic love-triangle with Cassia, Xander, and Ky. Cassia and Xander are "matched" at the Match Banquet on Cassia' 17th birthday; they have always been best friends and this is an ideal match. When Cassia goes to view her datacard with Xander's information on it, she sees Xander and then another boy she knows named Ky. Now Cassia must choose between the life she is told to have and the life she may be strong enough to choose to have. Good book!
When Can You Get It?: This book is set to be released November 30, 2010. You can find out more about it at
Further Digression: I love the green dress on the cover of this book!

Beastly by Alex Flinn

This book is a modernization of Beauty and the Beast: all versions. At first, the idea seemed odd to me to rewrite a fairy tale for young adults; then, I remembered library school. When we were in Children's Lit class and Mrs. Kinnersley pulled out those children's books, I (the stodgy high school person that I am) gave a groan. Then she started reading, and all the years fell away and the whole class was full of children where adults had been just a few minutes before. Children's books transcend age. The same is true of fairy tales. The same is true of this fairy tale that because this book.
Kyle Kingsbury is popular, good-looking, and cruel to those less-fortunate than he (i.e. ugly people). After one night of serious meanie-ness, he is turned into a beast guessed it...a witch. He will remain as a beast until he finds a girl to love him/kiss him and break the spell. You know the story, but this version has some interesting modernizations like chat rooms and a junkie-father.
More information about this book can be found at

VSBA Voting: This book is good, but I think Black Box (see August) is still my favorite.