Thursday, June 21, 2007

a gift to you

It's my birthday (yes, I get more excited about my birthday than most 12 year olds) but I thought I'd give you all a fun gift. Go check out this website:
It's a site dedicated to fun and interesting book inscriptions. I love to get and give books as gifts. Though I'm not usually big on writing in books, these are fun. Enjoy!

A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

  • Mass Market Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Signet Classics (May 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451526961
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451526960
  • List Price: $4.95
  • I finished this book on June 21
Hehe. This makes me chuckle. It's one of my favorite Shakespeare plays. I couldn't find a good cover image (the book I have has a pattern of a fairy and dude with a donkey head. it's very 70's) so I ganked this image from somewhere. I dig it because Titania has Farrah Fawcett hair. I totally wish my hair floated around me like that, though I'm sure it would get cumbersome after a while.
Okay, so this is the last book of the challenge, and I've finished it on the last day, which is, as I mentioned: my birthday. And this play is a little birthday treat. I had to read it by myself though: I tried to get my boyfriend to read this out loud with me, but he wouldn't do it (lame!). Though I'm sure most of you have read it, my lovelies, here's my snarky synopsis. So four young people with mixed up love lives venture into the forest and get hassled by fairies. Said fairies work their magic and mess up their love lives even more and of course, shenanigans ensue. Also there are some goofy actors and one of them gets his head turned into a donkey. That reminds me of some of the transformations in Strange Happenings, how about you?
I love everything about this story, it's fun and low on the tragedy (unlike all the Shakespeare we had to read in school). Speaking of school: if you feel the need to over analyze this please feel free to do so here.
Reading this makes me want to watch the movie again. I like the 1999 version with just about every famous person ever in it. I highly recommend it, everyone is very good looking and shimmery. I remember seeing this play performed live when I was a youngster at Shakespeare in the Park here in Buffalo. Between getting bit by mosquitoes it was super enjoyable. For those of you who have not enjoyed it I say: to the theatre (or netflix) with you! or, you it...possibly with friends. Extra points to those who use fun voices/accents.

Strange Happenings by Avi

  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books (May 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152057900
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152057909
  • List Price: $15.00
  • I finished this book on June 20
The subtitle of this book is Five tales of Transformation and that's exactly what it is. This was the last book for the challenge besides the extra credit book (which I'll be finishing later today) and it was a quick fun read.
When I was a little Bee I used to hate going to school and I would always wish I was my cat, Ivy, so I wouldn't have to go. Ivy got to sit at home in sunbeams all day and do whatever she wanted and I had to go to lame-ass school and do math (to this day math makes me ill). As you can guess, I never turned into a cat, but Tom did, in one of the stories in this book. Tom finds out, undoubtedly as I would have, that being a cat is kinda lame and he wants to switch back. Trouble is the former boy then cat now inhabiting Tom's human body does not want to switch back. Super weak! It just goes to show you kids, don't trust talking stray cats. Oh, who am I kidding? We all know I love talking animals.
I'm not sure what my favorite story in the book is, but I think the one titled "Curious" is sticking to me the most. It's about a kid who's very curious and sets out to find the truth about the town baseball mascot. And um, bad stuff ensues. Yikes. I think this one is too creepy for some younglings (by that I mean too scary for me). Did I mention that I'm afraid of mascots of any kind? Once a guy dressed up like a big stupid pink ice cream cone put his arm around me and I nearly punched his big pink gut. See, all I'm saying is, it could be a killer under there. Or Cher. I'm just saying, what's Cher been doing lately?
Anywho: this was a fun short one of stories that seemed somewhat familiar to me, like I'd heard them around a campfire before, or something. In fact, I think that would be the perfect place to hear them. Avi, of course, has written a gajillion books (48,317 results, Amazon? Really?) and this one probably just slipped out one morning while he ate his frosted flakes. But it was cool and worth a read, not to mention boasting a cool cover image. The last thing I read where people turned into other things was The Metamorphosis. Somehow, I think you won't find it hard to believe that this was a little tastier than Kafka.

Monday, June 18, 2007

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

  • Mass Market Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTorch (April 30, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380789035
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380789030
  • List Price: $7.99
  • I finished this book on June 18
Okay my lovelies, I just returned this evening from Florida trip number one. This week will be busy (finishing the challenge plus celebrating my birthday and my new niece) and then I will be leaving for more Florida nonsense on the 24th. My personal shenanigans aside, I still found time to finish this book (feels like I have been reading it forever, though). American Gods fills my mythology spot in the challenge, which is quickly drawing to a close.
So, imagine that Gods from just about every different belief system in the world are hanging out in America. Now imagine if they were going to war. Yeah - ouch. Now imagine if you find yourself in the middle like Shadow, our downtrodden hero. Shadow is just about to get out of jail when he finds out that he's getting out early because (insert The Price Is Right loosing noise here) his wife died. Worse yet: she died while she was giving someone else road head (seriously? who does that?! Have people not read Thinner? Jesus Christmas!) Anywho: an understandably despondent Shadow takes a job with a mysterious and shady character named Mr. Wednesday. Is he a god? Yes sir. Does he draw Shadow into a web of intrigue that opens Shadow's eyes to various things? Indeed. Also, Shadow's dead slut wife stays dead but hangs around occasionally lending a (rotting) hand and spitting out maggots. Awesome.
For me, this story was somehow simple and super involved at the same time. There was a lot of characters coming back being more important than you thought originally which I appreciate. I always like when things you learned about before become nice and significant later on. This book also made me wish that I knew more about various mythologies, so you can look forward to me reading some more myths in the future. Check out the info about the book and all the different gods involved. I also liked a lot of the characters - there were endearing crotchety old gods and cool ladies (did I mention that a guy got swallowed by a certain god's lady-parts? yikes stripes!). I also really liked Shadow. He was a very realistic guy in a totally crazy situation and I have a big crush on him -but not as big as the crush I have on Mr. Gaiman. Coincidentally - I recommend reading his blog, because it's super enjoyable.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

bee's random ramblings

So, my astute lovelies, you've probably noticed that this post isn't a book review. And you'd be right. It's a love note from me to tell you that I will be out of town a lot during the rest of the month. I'm going on two separate trips to Florida, and will have only sporadic internet access.
I mention this because I like to think you'll miss me. The real moral of the story is that I won't be on my meebo chat so if have something really important to say you can e-mail me (check out my profile for the address).
In other news: I have been asked several times lately how I choose what to read next. Mostly, I choose based on two things: recommendations from friends/colleagues, or book reviews. I read lots and lots of book reviews at my job. Anywho: up till now I have collected titles of books I wanted to read on little post it notes (have I mentioned that I'm a school supply junkie? check out this cryptic quiz of movies made out of office supplies. it's good times.) Because the post it's have been taking over my life I have begun to make an actual list that I won't loose. You can peek at it here, please note that it's just a random listing of some of the post its I've collected with titles i want to check out. Also note that I hate capitalizing things. I'm not sorry. Feel free to give me more suggestions, I'm always looking.
Okay, one last thing to share with you: I totally stalk where people come from to get to my site and what search terms lead people here. Some of them are hysterical and I will now share them for your amusement.
  • schmoozing geek
  • what happens in the champagne room (no sex, that's what, son!)
  • gay bum sex (heehee! I can't imagine why!)
  • how to get an awesome ponytail (I'm number 2 - that cracks my shit up!)
  • werewolf sex room (okay, that's too weird even for me)
  • foxy librarian (that's me!)
  • naughty greek gods
  • homosexual priests
  • inappropriate behavior
There are actually tons of ones about these two things: gay porn and man ponytails/80s hair.
So, if you've come here accidentally while looking for porn please stick around even though there is no boobage or naked men (but you know, there are some books about gay sex) If you've come here trying to find how to have an awesome 80's man-shag maybe, um, you should reconsider that look. Just sayin' So, lovely did you get here? (perv)
The moral of this post: I'll be on vacation but I promise I'll be reading a lot (finishing up my challenge books!) and I'll post when I can! p.s. pretend like you miss me!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Abhorsen by Garth Nix

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: Listening Library (January 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807205605
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807205600
  • List Price: $25.00
  • I finished listening to this audio book on June 6
That's right, kids! Two seals of approval in a row! We're on a streak! (apparently we are also on an exclamation point streak!! sorry, i'll calm down).
Okay, so, as you may have guessed this is the third (and, regrettably final) installment in the Abhorsen Trilogy. Of course, we remember Sabriel and Lirael. Well, this one takes all the best fun parts from these books and rolls it up into a great big ball of charter magic shenanigans
So, here's the rub: the big bad in this book is The Big Bad (not to be confused with strongbad) meaning he's called The Destroyer and he means to destroy. He's been bound up in some metal circles for about a gajillion years and he's piiissed (that's only read properly if you kinda sing it, you know what I mean). So, Lirael and Sam have to stop it with the help of my favorite character ever: The Disreputable Dog. Craziness and badassery ensue. Big time. This book had some really good parts and I had chills more than once.
Also, you may remember in the Lirael post I wrote that I had some requirements for this book. One: I wanted to find out more about the Disreputable Dog *bing* Done! I'm not gonna tell you, but I will say that I giggling and clapping in my car like a total nutcase. Two: I wanted Sam to stop being such a girly man. Check! He totally stopped the whining which was a total plus. Three: I wanted Lirael to kiss someone, anyone (besides the Dog who licks her constantly). You can't hear it but I'm making the Taboo buzzer noise. No kisses for Lirael, but as Eddie from Rocky Horror tells us two outta three ain't bad. What? Did I just mention Rocky Horror, which also stars my favorite audio book reader, Tim Curry? Why yes, yes I did. I know you're sick of hearing it, but I'm not sorry. I love this man's voice.
Apparently there is a collection of short stories from Mr. Nix titled Across the Wall: Tales of the Abhorsen and Other Stories. According to the review here it only contains one story relating to this series, but I would still read it.
Anyway, I loved this series, there is such cool magic going on and the female characters are strong and interesting. I'm sort of surprised that this series isn't more popular. I definitely recommend it. Also, if you read these and like them I suggest the Sevenwaters Trilogy. This is one of my favorite fantasies with amazing female characters, one of which my my cat is named after. p.s. I wish my cats could talk, though I doubt they have anything as interesting to say as the Disreputable Dog or Mogget.

Monday, June 4, 2007

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; Library Binding edition (August 25, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763617229
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763617226
  • List Price: $17.99
  • I finished this book on June 3
My stars, I loved this! I haven't doled out the seal of approval in a while, so this is momentous. I was just waiting for something like this to come along. This is another one of those that I picked up and read in one sitting before bed. It was like a sweet and satisfying cup of tea with cookies (I'm very into cookies). The subtitle of this book is Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread which I love. And this cuteness has also won a Newbery Medal, which made me assume that it would be sad and possibly feature the gratutious death of one or more characters (possibly a child) but, awesomely, it was not like that at all. It was cute and sweet.
See, Despereaux is a tiny mouse, really tiny, with these great big ears, who lives in a castle. He doesn't want to be like other mice, he's not interested in hunting for crumbs, or scurrying, or even nibbling paper. In fact, he is much more inclined to read the romantic tales in the library than to eat them. So, of course, I want to snorgle Despereaux, despite the fact that he's a fictional mouse. Also, I love talking animals. But that's the problem, Despereaux talks to the beautiful Princess Pea, worse, he falls in love with her. This sets all the other little meeces' knickers into a twist and they banish tiny Despereaux to the dungeon to be eaten by rats (oh no!) From there, the story splits off and introduces us to a few different characters who all play a part in Despereaux's tale.
My favorite scene is where Despereaux is trying to tell the king something and he won't listen. The king basically puts his hands over his head and says "Nah nah, I can't hear you..." like a child, which I found hilarious. Not to mention that he has outlawed soup and rats, which, you know...makes perfect sense and is not at all crazy.
Another great part of the story is DiCamillo's voice. She talks to the reader, and even encourages the reader to go look up words, which I think is fantastic (I will not tell a lie, my dears, I had to look up a word). There are also sweet illustrations of the tiny mouse, the mean rats and the beautiful Princess Pea done by Timothy Ering. Anywho, the book was great, and it's one of mine for the challenge. I will definitely be reading more of Ms. Camillo's work in the future.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Subtle Knife by Phillip Pullman

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (July 22, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679879250
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679879251
  • List Price: $13.60
  • I finished this book on June 3
Okay, so this one is the second in the His Dark Materials trilogy. I read the first book last spring when I was in my young adult books class. I have been waiting to read the others for a while now and I finally had time. Not to mention, they count towards the challenge.
The first book (soon to be a movie staring the hungry Nicole Kidman) centers mostly on Lyra, a little girl in a world that both different and similar than ours. In Lyra's world everyone has a Daemon, who is basically an animal version of their soul. The daemon's of children change to whatever animal shape they want but when a child becomes an adult the daemon takes on a fixed form. At the movie's website you can take a quiz and get your own daemon. Mine is a badass wolf, (fear him!) by clicking you can also see what yours might be (and if you do, tell me in the comments!)
In this book there is a lot more going on than just Lyra's exploits. We meet a boy named Will who is from our world, and many other characters. My favorite part of this book is all the different plots going on and the different motivations of all the different characters. Reading I was struck by how real and human so many of the characters felt to me. There is, however, an injury of a character that made me mighty angry and which reminded me of a similar injury in another book which also steamed me up. (hint: dad a chum, dad a chee, I can't help but bring up Stephen King all the time, I'm rubbish.)
This trilogy has a lot going on in the allegory department. Toward the end of this book many things became clear to me and I'm very excited to jump into the next one. The book focuses on, to name a few: sin, evolution, the Fall, and many other religious ideas. I'm expecting there to be an all out war with the heavens in the next book and I'm not thinking I'll be disappointed.
There's about a million sites online dedicated to this series, but here's what I suggest: for character and plot info as well as analysis check out spark notes and the wikipedia article. Also check out the Random House page and this page which has a whole chat community.