Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Captain's Island Part II- Chapter 1

So way back when I posted Captain's Island Part I it was my intention to post the book online. I couldn't ever get the thumbnail feature to work well. I think I have it down so that you can click on each page to enlarge it. So here is my out of print book.

Banned Book Wednesday

I hate the banning of books. Now this doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in censorship, I do. For instance I don’t believe that the complete guide to Kama Sutra should be in an elementary school. For one thing I wouldn’t want the wee ones to injure themselves attempting new moves on the jungle gym. On the other hand I have a deep seated belief in the freedom of speech. My first banned book memory is a strong one. I loved Shel Silverstein growing up. He was wacky, lovely, strange, and seemed to understand me more than any author I’d read before, I was in complete awe when I first read Where the Sidewalk Ends, I cried my heart out when I discovered “The Giving Tree.” Around 8 or 9 I was over at my aunt’s house (she was the one who had first shown me Shel). I rushed over to her bookcase to get my beloved Sidewalk and it wasn’t there. Baffled I asked her where it was. She has discarded it because apparently it had come to light that Shel had done some work for Playboy. Even my little mind was confused, who cared, I wasn’t reading Playboy, I wasn’t looking at anything bad in Sidewalk, so why would it matter?

My mom later explained to me about banned books and book burning (I almost had an aneurism when I learned of that one). I’d like to thank my very cool mom for being just as outraged at banned books as I was then. In all likelihood it is due to her that I have such a passion for banned books. This isn’t to say that my parents let us read whatever we wanted to. Just the opposite, they scrutinized every book, tape and movie that they could. I think that I watched half as many movies as my friends due to violence, sex, or even politics (my mom didn’t let us watch Mr. Mom because it reinforced the idea that it should be shocking for men to take care of children, don’t ever get her started on that one with her). However, my parents believed that it was up to them, not libraries, schools, or anyone else (except maybe my scary grandma) to tell me what to read or watch. She also was always out there, buying books that the school had banned that she thought I should read, many a Judy Blume and Gary Paulson novel entered into our home that way.

In honor of my mom and all of the banned books out there, I’m starting Banned Book Wednesday. The idea sprung from this article in the Guardian about Susan Patron's The Higher Power of Lucky, which won this year's prestigious Newbery Medal. I haven’t read the book yet but you can believe that I will. I’ll tell you how it is. If you have a banned book that you’d like me to highlight send me your story and maybe I’ll post it. (See, I believe in censorship, I put on my blog what I want to).

Without further ado may I present book one of Banned Book Wednesday:

The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron

From Booklist Lucky, age 10, lives in tiny Hard Pan, California (population 43), with her dog and the young French woman who is her guardian. With a personality that may remind some readers of Ramona Quimby, Lucky, who is totally contemporary, teeters between bravado--gathering insect specimens, scaring away snakes from the laundry--and fear that her guardian will leave her to return to France. Looking for solace, Lucky eavesdrops on the various 12-step meetings held in Hard Pan (of which there are plenty), hoping to suss out a "higher power" that will see her through her difficulties. Her best friend, Lincoln, is a taciturn boy with a fixation for tying knots; another acquaintance, Miles, seems a tiresome pest until Lucky discovers a secret about his mother. Patron's plotting is as tight as her characters are endearing. Lucky is a true heroine, especially because she's not perfect: she does some cowardly things, but she takes pains to put them to rights. Francisca GoldsmithCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Book Club

I've always wanted to join a bookclub. There were always problems with this though the first being that I'm lazy, I don't want to drive anywhere but home after work. The second is that I don't like that many people, and if my English classes were any indication there would be at least one person worthy of unadultrated hatred at each meeting. So what better kind of book club than one that I don't have to go to and one in which I pick who gets to join up? Namely, my friend Rob. The first book that we will be reading is one that we each had read in our childhood. The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander. I choose this cover because it's the one that I grew up with. I had forgotten how much I love this series. Bits of it are coming back to me as I read. It's quite strange really, I read along, think to myself: yes, yes... I know this, but I can't remember what's next. So here for your reading delight is the first paragraph of the book:
Chapter One

The Assistant Pig Keeper

Taran wanted to make a sword, but Coll, charged with the practical side of his education, decided on horseshoes. And so it had been horseshoes all morning long. Taran’s arms ached, soot blackened his face. At last he dropped the hammer and turned to Coll who was watching him critically.
“Why,” Taran cried. Why must it be horseshoes? As if we had any horses!”
Coll was stout and round, his great bald head glowed pink. “Lucky for the horses,” was all he said, glancing at Taran’s handiwork.
Are you interesed yet? No? Well I'm tired of typing the first page so just go to Amazon and read it there! See? I told you that I'm lazy. You should read this book, if not for the whining small child, then for the fact that it has an oracular pig in it. Who could resist an oracular pig!

Friday, February 23, 2007

No, Get It? It's A BOOK Bag!

Bags from books? What's this? What kind of a monster would destroy a book for the sake of fashion? Well, that would be Caitlin at Rebound Designs. She makes these super great purses. Don't worry, she only uses books that were either on the way to the trash or those that are pretty beat up anyway. Apparently she hordes the pages in her attic though (that's a might weird). You can even send her your favorite book and she'll whip it up into a snazzy little handbag for you. They're a bit pricey (average is $120) but it's about going rate for a personalized handbag.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


I picked up a new book this weekend: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. Its beautiful. Half of the book is made up of illustrations that are beautiful and reminicent of old silent films. This is definitely a book to check out. If you have kids who love comic books, it’s a good tradeoff because they have to keep reading in order to understand the story between illustrations. Hey, they might even accidentally learn something about early movie making. You can go here for an interview with Brian.

Dirty Like a Martini

Have you ever read something that made you laugh out-loud and then you quickly look around to see that no one has seen you reading that book, much less laughing at it? That’s how I felt when I read My Horizontal Life by comedian Chelsea Handler. It’s dirty, dirty like a martini. The book chronicles her one-night stands, drinking habits, and her love of black men (or rather her love of taking black men home with her in order to make her father uncomfortable). Go, on buy it, have a filthy laugh.

Sky People!

I just finished reading The Sky People, a new sci-fi book by S.M. Stirling. It’s the first of his books that I’ve read and I loved it. I haven’t enjoyed a sci-fi book this much in a long time. I love the old sci-fi, from the sixties, where life is possible on such close planets as Mars and Venus. For obvious reasons you don’t get stories like that anymore. However, Sky People sets itself back in time and gives the reader that great sense of hope of life on planets close enough to travel to. The book was everything that I ever wanted but never got from a Ben Bova novel. It had a tight storyline, believable characters and perhaps best of all: dinosaurs! Now, the ending was pretty loose but you can’t blame Stirling for that. It is my belief that sci-fi and fantasy writers cannot properly end stories. You usually just get a great story and then the sudden feeling of “and that’s that folks”. I can’t think of a single sci-fi or fantasy book that has a good conclusive ending. Even Stephen King, master of story-telling and plot has never ended a story well. Stirling also throws in the requisite amount of humor that I demand out of science fiction, at one point even making a slur against trashy sci-fi novels of the sixties (that made me laugh out loud). Now, I know that this is supposed to be the first book in a series, (you don’t need a crazed fan site to tell you that, Stirling clearly sets up the book that way) but I’m tempted not to read any more because as a general rule I hate sci-fi follow up books. Too often writers get caught up in their own fantasy world and all you get is a character driven book, richer in detail than a Victorian sitting room. While detail and strong characters are a necessity so is plot. A strong plot with good character development has allowed me to forgive a lot of poor writing in the science fiction genre. All in all though, it’s a terrific book and a fun read.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Have you heard?

"When the Dark comes rising, six shall turn it back,
Three from the circle, three from the track;
Wood, bronze, iron; water, fire, stone;
Five will return, and one go alone."
Every so often I hear a whisper of a film version of a book being made that gets me as excited as a four year old boy waiting for the next Power Rangers movie to come out. It has come to my attention they are making a film of The Dark is Rising sequence. I read these obsessively as a child. Susan Cooper is such a genius, not to mention a Newbery award winner. If you haven’t read the series, I highly recommend them. The order of the books goes as such Over Sea, Under Stone, The Dark is Rising, Greenwitch, The Grey King, and Silver on the Tree Then again if you’re not into all that nerdy magical stuff, you might stay away from them. I rank them up there with any of Alexander Llyod’s books, especially his Chronicles of Prydain, and Westmark series. On the whole though I think that I like his Vesper Holly series the most. Who wouldn’t love a good adventure story?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Bread Alone
I love cook books. I can pour over glossy photos and recipes for hours and hours and get a deep satisfaction from it. Recently, I have realized that I have too many. Some, I never cook out of. Others I haven't looked at in years. Time to thin the heard (so I can get some new ones). I got rid of a couple of books I had bought back when I had no clue how to tell if a cookbook was going to be useful or not. I dispensed (with great trepidation) three entire cookbooks. This was mainly because I had bought a new book. The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread by bread master Peter Reinhart. I've leafed through his other books, Crust and Crumb and Brother Juniper's Bread Book: Slow Rise as Method and Metaphor . What drew me to this book were the photos and the concise instructions. I think that over the years he has learned what information people need and what they don't. So I'm all fired up to begin bread baking. I love homemade bread, but the long hours that it takes is extremely daunting to me. With two jobs, a husband and a dog I lack the hours need to make really good bread. However, I'm going to try on the weekends.

Monday, February 05, 2007


Do you love zombies? I do. It’s weird. I’m terrified of anything remotely scary. My overactive imagination kicks in and doesn’t let me sleep for weeks. But zombies, they’re different. I love a good zombie movie. Favorites include: Dawn of the Dead, 28 days later: I really love that one, and perhaps my all time favorite Shaun of the Dead. Have you seen Shaun of the Dead? It’s one of the funniest movies ever. For Christmas, my husband bought me The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete protection from the Living Dead by Max Brooks. It’s fun but not much of a story, I was excited to see another book by him World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. I didn’t have time to read yet another book so I got it on audio. It’s great, although abridged, the book is just short stories so you’re not losing too much and I will now certainly read the book. The audio has a lot of people with strong voices reading it (which makes all the difference) Alan Alda, Mark Hamill, J├╝rgen Prochnow, Henry Rollins, John Turturro, Rob and Carl Reiner are just a few of the people who read for this. Here’s the description from Amazon:

Zombies are among us. In a series of journalistic-style interviews and monologues, Max Brooks tracks the institutional and geopolitical missteps that led to the collapse of civilization and follows the intrepid survivors as they tell the story of fighting their way back against a zombie horde of 200 million. Brooks tells the story of the world's desperate battle against the zombie threat with a series of first-person accounts "as told to the author" by various characters around the world. A Chinese doctor encounters one of the earliest zombie cases at a time when the Chinese government is ruthlessly suppressing any information about the outbreak that will soon spread across the globe. The tale then follows the outbreak via testimony of smugglers, intelligence officials, military personnel and many others who struggle to defeat the zombie menace.

First few lines:

Since the end of official hostilities, numerous attempts have been made to document the Zombie War. WORLD WAR Z is the definitive account of the technological, military, social, economic, and political details as told through survivors' stories of how civilization went from the brink of extinction to a universal victory against the living dead

Friday, February 02, 2007

Novel View II or Captains’ Island Part I

In honor of Novel View’s big move I thought that I would post one of the greatest finds I ever did find in a little ol’ bookstore. Remember the little alcove connecting the two upstairs rooms? There were all sorts of old and interesting books there. I found this for a friend and loved it so much that I scoured the internet for it and bought a copy for myself and my brother. It’s one of the best books ever. I hope to post a little of the story each day, since it’s not really a book that you can often find. Here’s the cover and back, it’s what sucked me in. I never even read it before buying it. I just knew that it had to be a wonderful story.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

A Novel View

There is this fantastic little bookstore here in Anchorage called A Novel View. It is just great. For a long time it was located in one of the fabulous little houses that are slowly disappearing from downtown Anchorage. The main floor had mystery, romance, Alaskana, and featured authors. If you went up the creaky stairs (paying mind to watch your head so you didn’t hit it on the low ceiling) you would find a wonderful assortment of literature, travel books, and other fun findings. You could then walk through a tiny alcove in which old and valuable books were tucked away. On the other side was a small, cozy, carpeted room with a lot of lovely children’s books. The basement though, oh the fabulous basement (watch your head!) that contained the worst of my secret habits, Sci-Fi paperback. I could spend hours down there digging through stacks and racks of science fiction. Alas, due to unfortunate circumstances they have been forced to move.
At first I was horrified. If not in a creaky, cute little house, then where? I was sure that it would be the last time I ventured to their store. Well, I just got my monthly email from Pat, the owner. She’s informing her loyal customers that they will now be sharing space with the Cook Inlet Book Store. What a great idea! I love the Cook Inlet Book Store. It caries a ton of Alaskana books, and you can always find something interesting. However, I don’t shop there often because I just don’t need that many Alaskana books. Now though, I’m sure to most likely see something I like while visiting the Novel View portion of the store. I hope this joint venture works out for everyone. Good luck Pat! I'll see you for First Friday tomorrow!

Photo by Molly