Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon

Susan and I just finished book 5! I think we started it 3 months ago. We always listen to them (which is what I recommend anyone does because Davina Porter rocks a Scottish accent like no other!). The CDs for these books come in 2 sets of about 25 each. Toward the end of the first set, I started to lose interest. Susan pulled me along for a couple of CDs and got me going again. See, you should read with a friend!
This story is meandering and hard to assign a "plot" to, but I think it was fun anyway. I had hoped it would end the saga of Stephen Bonnet, but it didn't. It did start to clear up some Ian Murray-ness. It did create a relationship between Jamie and Roger (huzzah!). It just did a lot, and it all satisfactorily!
Gabaldon's blog references some good lines from this book. I will echo Allison who said, "My favourite line? From The Fiery Cross, when Jemmy asks if Jamie has balls, and Jamie replies 'Aye, lad, I have … But your Da’s are bigger.' Lord, how that man warms my heart!" I think that was my favorite line from this book. The whole post is available at
These books just make me happy. On to A Breath of Snow and Ashes!

Readicide by Kelly Gallagher

I am a recently converted Kelly Gallagher-ite. I also have started poking around his blog at I just finished Readicide and, I must confess, found myself in a bit of a mid-life crisis. This book is all about ways for the English teacher to help students retain/gain a love for reading. The mid-life crisis part comes in when this book is paired with (1) the arrival of End of Course testing scores and (2) the graduation of the next to last class I will have taught.
The test scores affected me because I used to like getting them back. I know that is contrary to the popular belief, but I found them reassuring. I liked the concrete input from someone else saying that I was doing a good job. That just doesn't exist in the library. I don't get any feedback regarding how students perform as a direct result of my role in their lives. I don't know how to get this, but it is definitely something I miss.
Graduation made me sad this year. The faculty is always given an opportunity to choose students to whom one would like to distribute diplomas after graduation. Last year Dr. Pelham forgot to do this, and I had to email him about it. This year, I also sent a reminder email. When did the list get posted? On the day I was gone to Arkansas and was unable to sign up. By the time I returned on Monday, only kids I recognized (not felt connected to) were left on the list for me to choose. So, I spent graduation at a table next to 3 very connected teachers giving diplomas out to students who love them while I gave diplomas out to kids I had four years ago who didn't really like me then. What a drag! It totally deflated me. Next year's graduating class will be the last class of students I taught. I really hope I get to choose the kids I hand diplomas to! I also really hope I come to find a place within myself where I feel like I am affecting students in the library as much as I did in the classroom.
I know I was a great teacher, and I know I'm a good librarian (still figuring it out!). I just want to know I am loved by students again. I really miss their sense of reliance on me and the feeling that I made a difference in their lives.
This is a random post that really has nothing to do with this book. The book is great. If you teach English, you should read this book. It is revitalizing. That is another thing I miss about teaching. My favorite part of the year was reflecting on how I had done and planning for the next year. I guess that's the real source of this book's making me sad; I miss the chance try teaching some of my favorite titles again.
No one understands this. Susan and Mom think I'm crazy. Maybe I am, but it's still how I feel.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Death of a Chimney Sweep by M.C. Beaton

This is the latest Hamish Macbeth mystery; the English title is just Death of a Sweep. I enjoy this cozy series. These books are easy reads and rather enjoyable.

I usually listen to these on tape, but I'm listening to Gabaldon's The Fiery Cross right now, I read this one. When I read these, I am more aware that they are not really mysteries with the same connotations as usual (think Hercule Poirot). There is no great reveal of the murderer. Hamish usually knows who the murderer is throughout most of the story. The real story comes in when you try to figure out the motive behind the murder. (I also enjoy the Scottish element and reading the dialect!)

Once again, Beaton is a tried and true reading escape! I read this series and the Agatha Raisin series. You can find all of titles in these series at

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Aurelia by Anne Osterlund

I read Aurelia after reading Academy 7. It took me longer to get through Aurelia because, honestly, it was not as well-written as Academy 7. Since Aurelia was Osterlund's first book and I really enjoyed Academy 7, I will say that I am really glad she grew as an author. Since I read on her blog that both of these works are intended to be the start of a trilogy, I am glad to know that any successive books will have better writing.
In addition to writing, I also feel that the plot of this work was weaker. The basic premise is that there have been a few attempts on a princess' life and a childhood friend is called in to keep any eye on her without her knowing. The friends haven't seen each other in a while, and, before you know it, romance is blooming.
This story is set sometime in the past (when carriages and swords were used), but the characters are very modern in their words, actions, and names. An interesting question to pose here for a book club would be: Were teens in the past really very different from modern teens or do we just think they were because of the books we read today? (If you comment, go on and answer that one.) I think that people have always been the same. I think their language and syntax would have been different from ours, but their thoughts were to whether or not they really said what they thought...I don't know. I wonder how much history books have glossed over reality for the sake of propriety.