Sunday, October 31, 2010

Being Dead is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral by Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hayes

Verdict: I LOVE this book! It is so funny if one if a Southerner; I imagine it is funny, but not SO funny, if one is a regular ole person not of the Southern persuasion.
This book is set up with chapters about an aspect of the Southern death. Chapters cover such topics as tasteful food at a funeral, casseroles made with Campbell's soup, acceptable songs, the eternal pantry, and much more! Each chapter is followed by numerous delicious-sounding recipes, though I haven't tried any of them.
Bottom line: I highly recommend this book to Southerners, especially those no longer living in the South, because it will make you smile!
You can see the lovely cover of this book at
Question: Has anyone ever eaten an aspic? This must be a Southern delicacy more Southern than yours truly. The recipe (and picture on the cover of the book) make it sound like a V-8 Jell-o mold. Yuck!

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Exile by Diana Gabaldon...

...An Outlander graphic novel with illustrations by Hoang Nguyen; "experience Jamie's side of the story."
Graphic novels are a really popular current trend in the book world; they are essentially literary comic books. I had never read a graphic novel until this one. We have Jane Eyre, The Odyssey, and Maus I and II (hallmarks of this genre) at school, but none have ever appealed to me until now.
If you've been keeping up with this blog, then you know that my friend Susan Strasinger and I have been reading The Outlander series together (just started The Fiery Cross today!). I was at a vendor fair yesterday when I received a graphic novel flier. Lo and behold, Diana Gabaldon and her new graphic novels were featured. I tried to request this from the public library, but it was waiting to be ordered. Nothing would do but to go to Barnes & Noble last night to buy my own copy to complete my Outlander set.
This story is told from Murtaugh's point of view with an eye for Jamie's experiences. One of the things Susan and I really admire about Gabaldon is her use of point of view as an interesting element (difficult to accomplish!). There were some times while reading this graphic novel when some secret was revealed (that Claire had not known when she told the story in the first Outlander novel), I found myself thinking, "What? That so did not happen." Then I would realize that this is not a work of fan fiction; it is a work by Gabaldon. These new things are things she may have always known had happened since she created the world.
I enjoyed this, but I think it is because it relates to something I already enjoy. I am not sure this genre is for me on a regular basis. On the flip side, I can see how some students who begin with a graphic novel might progress to the original novel later. In fact, in the notes at the end, Diana Gabaldon tells readers that the graphic novel only covers the first 1/3 of the novel; I hope this leads someone to read the novels because they are so enjoyable!
Gabaldon began writing comic books before progressing to other genres. This seemed a natural leap for her. (I still can't wait for a movie or, even better, a mini-series about each book!)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Eyes of the Amaryllis by Natalie Babbitt

I found this book while weeding fiction at the JOHS library. It was on my list of books with copyright dates over 20 years (this is 1977), so I was taking it off the shelf to check its conditions and the last time it had ever been checked out. It had never been checked out, but I read the back and thought it sounded interesting. Besides, Natalie Babbitt wrote Tuck Everlasting, which I really enjoyed when I taught it to 7th graders at Donelson Middle while student teaching (bless their hearts because I was not the high-quality teacher then that I came to be after years of experience).
This book was not my favorite. It was weird without being enchanting. It had the potential to be enchanting, but it just didn't succeed. It is about the relationship that develops between a girl and her estranged grandmother; the revelations in character relate to the mysteries of her grandfather's death at see.
It was just weird. It doesn't have draw. I have chosen to withdraw this book.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman...

...with illustrations by Dave McKean
This book a Newberry Award as "the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children."
This book is based on Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. It is the story of a boy whose parents are killed by The Man Jack. He wanders to a graveyard and is given "the protection of the graveyard" for his youth. He is given the name Nobody and adopted by a couple who died in the 1700s, the Owens'. The book is about his adventures in the graveyard and out in the world. It has all sorts of moral lessons and a refreshing lack of romance. Read more about it at
I read this book because it is up for a Volunteer State Book Award. I enjoyed it, but I think it is more suited to middle school; therefore, it is not my favorite for the voting.
I do plan on using this book as the theme for our next book club meeting. I think I will pick up some Halloween decorations next week when they go on sale! Does anyone have any ideas for food?