Dear Reader

Random musings on reading and books from a librarian in training.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Angel at the Fence debunked

Turns out what was dubbed the Holocaust's 'greatest' love story was not quite what it was billed.

If you haven’t read about Angel at the Fence, in it Herman Rosenblat claims that his future wife would toss him an apple over the fence of the concentration camp where he was interred during World War II. He claimed that they met years later on a blind date and have been married for 50 years.

People were entranced – his story appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul, he was on Oprah and a book and movie were in the works. The publisher has since pulled plans to publish the “memoir.” A children’s book based on part of the story, “Angel Girl” was pulled from the shelves.

According to CNN, Rosenblat issued the following statement: "Why did I do that and write the story with the girl and the apple, because I wanted to bring happiness to people, to remind them not to hate, but to love and tolerate all people. I brought good feelings to a lot of people, and I brought hope to many. My motivation was to make good in this world.”

One of the many sad aspects is that it sounds like Rosenblat probably could have told his story without the lies. He really did survive a Nazi concentration camp and has been married for 50 years.

A lot of people have egg on their face right now. Others probably feel hurt and betrayed.

And sadly it seems like much of the heartache could have been avoided. After A Million Little Pieces and Love and Consequences – two recent high profile memoirs that were exposed as fakes – publishers really need to place more safeguards in place. I realize a New Yorker level fact checking may not be feasible or affordable. However, there should be some fact checking/ verification process. When something carries the label non-fiction it should mean something.

Apparently some scholars had questioned the veracity of Rosenblat’s tale. According to CNN, Professor Ken Waltzer, the director of Michigan State University's Jewish Studies program, tried contacting the publisher with his concerns, but got no response.

Reading The New Republic’s story that raised the alarm bell, it certainly seems like the writer, Gabriel Sherman, made numerous attempts to reach the publisher and was rebuffed.

It’s unfortunate all around. It’s another black eye for the publishing industry, which once again fell for a story that really was too good to be true. It’s damaging to others who really do have amazing/ moving tales to tell. And sadly, it gives ammunition to Holocaust deniers.

Deborah Lipstadt, the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University is quoted telling The New Republic: "If you make up things about parts, you cast doubts on everything else. … When you think of the survivors who meticulously tell their story and are so desperate for people to believe, then if they're making stories up about this, how do you know if Anne Frank is true? How do you know Elie Wiesel is true?"

I even feel sorry for Herman Rosenblat, who sounds like he got caught up in forces beyond his control. I’m sure he never imagined when he sent his love story to the local newspaper that he’d wind up on Oprah and the subject of a movie.

But at the end of the day, a lie is a lie. There are no winners in this story and I worry what harm will come of this. There are some brilliant/amazing/moving stories to be told, but will fiascos like this make publishers and readers more leery of them. Hopefully, publishers will start more closely vetting memoirs and pay attention when red flags are raised.


Lerner Pulls 'Angel Girl' --

Anger, sadness over fabricated Holocaust story –

Colby Cosh: The fraud of Angel at the Fence

Holocaust 'greatest' love story a hoax

Monday, December 29, 2008


This was the second book that I've read by Octavia Butler and like Fledgling, it almost defies description.

Kindred centers around Dana, an African-American woman in the 1970s. When Dana and her white husband, Kevin, are moving into their new home, Dana finds herself transported in time/space. When she sees a child drowning, she jumps in and saves his life.
That boy is Rufus -- one of Dana's ancestor -- and the son of plantation owner/slave owner.

Dana keeps finding herself transported back in time every time Rufus' life is in danger. While she may be there for months, her time away from home is only hours. She needs to keep Rufus at least until her ancestor -- Hagar -- is born.

The novel, although it's considered science fiction, never delves into the mystery of time travel or how it is that Dana is transported back in time. It does focus on Dana's experiences of being treated like a slave. While she's there she goes through many of the hardships slaves went through -- working in the fields, being whipped, seeing close friends sold away. When her husband is transported with her once they have to lie about their relationship, since interracial marriage was illegal.

Dana's life on the plantation is grim and Butler explores the true brutality of slavery. I thought it was interesting that the time travel aspect was downplayed and the book focused more on race and slavery.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


For some reason, it took me forever to finish eclipse, the third book in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series. I don't want to give away anything for those still making their way through the series. The time it took me to read it isn't necessarily a reflection of the book, more of a reflection on my recent reading habits.

::spoiler alert!!::

For those of you unfamiliar with the series, it follows Bella and her involvement with Edward Cullen, a vampire
, and his "family" of vampires. Book three explores Bella's relationship with Edward and her friend, Jacob. As usual, danger is always lurking around the corner.

My own complaint with Meyer's books is a find them overly melodramatic and feel like most of them are too long. I felt the latest could have been pared down 50-100 pages.

However, this comes from someone whose favorite book has this passage:

"I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you -- especially when you are near to me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if that boisterous Channel, and two hundred miles or so of land, come broad between us, I am afraid that the cord of communication shall be snapped; and then I've a nervous notion I should take to bleeding internally. As for you - you'd forget me."

Jane Eyre.

I find it interesting how Bella loves reading Wuthering Heights, by another Bronte. I'm hoping to re-read it. I think it'd be interesting to read with Meyer's love triangle in mind.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Children's board books for the holidays

One of my favorite gifts to buy are children's books. There are so many wonderfully illustrated books now as well as some timeless classics. Here are some of my favorite board books.

The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton. Perhaps best known for Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. The Little House is a charming tale of a house in the country that gradually becomes neglected and lost amongst the developments of a big city.

Hug by Jez Alborough. I saw this book a few years ago and fell in love with it. As says "How can it be that a book with only one word--hug--repeated throughout, can be so good? The proof is in the pudding (or the wilds of Africa) in Jez Alborough's picture book Hug, a delightful mini odyssey of a baby chimpanzee on the hunt for his mum and a cuddle."

Just a very sweet book and a great gift.

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems. Disaster ensues when Trixie can't find Knuffle Bunny after a trip to the laundromat. The illustrations are really cool. My niece and nephews used to love this book.

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai
Gerstein tells the true story of Philippe Petit's tight rope walk between twin towers. "Once there were two towers side by side. They were each a quarter of a mile high... The tallest buildings in New York City."

This Land Is Your Land by Woody Guthrie/ Kathy Jakobsen (Illustrator). A great introduction to Woody Guthrie's famous song.

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost/ Susan Jeffers.

NY Times Gift Suggestions

The holidays are a great time to gather reading recommendations and gift ideas. Almost every publication has round up on best books of the years and/or gift guides


The New York Times has several lists:

The Book Review’s Top 10 books of 2008:

Michiko Kakutani's 10 Favorite Books of 2008

Janet Maslin’s 10 Favorite Books of 2008

100 Notable Books of 2008

I haven’t delved too deeply into any of the “adult” lists, but was not wowed on my first pass through. I would like to read Ten Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America, which is currently with a stack of books I meant to read this year.

I also bought: Lincoln: The Biography of A Writer for my dad after reading about it. According to the Times, “This resonant biography looks at the role that Lincoln’s avid reading of the Bible, Shakespeare and other works played in shaping his gifts as a writer, and how his literary skills in turn helped him articulate — and promote — his vision of a new America rising from the ashes of the Civil War.”


Best Illustrated Children’s Books 2008:

Notable Children’s Books of 2008

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Book vs. Movie

I always get excited when a book I enjoy is turned into a movie/ tv series, but that excitement inevitably turns into disappointment when I see the final product. I'm not sure why this is. Maybe books are too nuanced to successfully translate onto the screen. Or perhaps my expectations are too high.

Recent disappointments

True Blood. I had really high expectations for HBO's series, which is based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels. I was irritated that there wasn't more Sookie. While there were some quotes/ passages lifted directly from the book, there were new subplots that weren't in the book. I understand the need to pad the book a little, but at the same time felt that the weakness of the subplots were due to how one dimensional the characters were.

I was particularly peeved with the ending. In the book, Bill is not brought before the tribunal for killing another vampire. Rather he's away securing his position amongst the New Orleans vampires to have more independence from Eric and he does not try and rescue Sookie from the killer. He's out of town.

Silver lining: If more people are reading Charlaine Harris because of this show, that makes me happy. I also discovered Octavia Butler as a result of the documentaries HBO did before the show. (Seeing Stephen Root aka Jimmy James on tv is also a plus!)

Twilight. I just felt like it really didn't capture the essence of the book and rather came off as kind of cheesy. The low-budget special effects and giggling teenage girls might have distracted me. I also wasn't crazy about the makeup job for Edward and the music was slightly grating.

Some movies really capture a book ... Antonement, A&E's Pride & Prejudice and Masterpiece Theater's Jane Eyre and Anne of Green Gables. But the clunkers are what stand out. I still wonder if the people involved with Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont ever read the novel they "based" their movie on.

Maybe a book's appeal lies in the fact that your imagination shapes what you read. After creating an image of the characters and becoming emotionally attached, it's difficult to accept someone
else's vision. Perhaps the magic of books can't be captured in a tv series or movie. Doesn't mean I'll stop going to the movies though, I'm just resigned to that fact that I'll probably leave the theater feeling let down.

Do you have a favorite movie adaptation or a real stinker you can't get out of your mind?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Bookworm returns

Dear Reader,

Let's call the abysmal absence of posts a hiatus. Life got a little bit in the way bringing reading (and blogging) to a screeching halt. But just in time for the holidays ... did some say gift suggestions?! I'm back.

I'm hoping to post gift suggestions, tackle why is the movie/ tv show NEVER as a good as the book and resume my usual rambling, er, pontificating.

So welcome back!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Reading on the cheap

While the economy continues its free fall, many of us are trying to cut down on unnecessary expenses and looking for ways to save. I've started clipping coupons again and have now vowed not to look at my 401K statement for a long time.

What about those books, hmm? To paraphrase a famous quote, "Give me bread and books."

Here's a few ways I try to keep my book spending under control.

*Swapping - There are a plethora of swapping sites out there. Some specialize just in books, while others include books, CDs, DVDs and games. My personal favorite is Paperbackswap ( To get started you need to post 10 books and get two credits. If someone requests one of your books, you pay to mail it to them earning a credit. You can use that credit to request a book from someone else.

One feature I use on the site is the wish list - I've listed several books that I would like that are currently not in the system. When that book becomes available, I can either set it up so that it's automatically ordered or I receive an email alerting me. (For example, I recently received Neptune Noir, which is all about my favorite girl detective, Veronica Mars. PS: CW you still suck.)

When I read a book, I try to be very critical about whether I want to keep it or swap it. I've also picked up books for cheap along the way that I had a feeling would be in high demand with the sole aim of swapping them.

*The library - I wish I took more advantage of my library instead of too often giving into my book hoarding impulses. What could be cheaper than free?! Most libraries these days also have books on tape, CDs, DVDs and good old VHS tapes. If your library doesn't have what you're looking for, there's a good chance that they're part of a network. For instance, my library is part of the Minuteman Library Network, which means I can request materials from dozens of libraries. Many libraries also have museum passes available and free Internet access.

Libraries are also host to a variety of events: ESL lessons, movies, children's story time, book clubs, lectures, music, etc. I could go on!

* Used books - I occasionally hit a used book store new my house, Annie's Book Stop. The books are usually significantly cheaper than brand new books. With Annie's, I'll return books that I bought there previously for store credit.

Over the years, I've picked up used books many places along the way: garage sales, thrift stores, sidewalk carts and library sales. I LOVE the book sale the Friends of group does at my library. I've been able to pick up some neat, quirky books that were very inexpensive.

* Friends/family - I tend to freak out about lending books, especially ones I like, for fear I'll never see them. I have been lending more lately ... baby steps. But sharing books with friends and family is a great way to get more exposure for books and authors you enjoy. It's also a great way to find new authors/ books that you might not have picked up on your own.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

fledgling - Octavia Butler

For some reason it's taking me forever to finish a book lately. I'm so tired by the time I get home, that I'm ready for tv. We'll play an "old person's card" and chalk it up to the change in the weather.

I finally finished fledgling by Octavia Butler, which I learned about watching a HBO special before True Blood.

Fledgling centers around Shori, a 53 year old vampire, who wakes up hungry, alone and badly injured. Someone is targeting Shori's family and anyone who tries to protect her.
While Shori is a vampire (or Ina), she's also the product of genetic engineering. A mixture of human and vampire, it's believed her black skin and human DNA enable her to stay awake during the day and also go into the sunlight (although her exposed skin does burn).

I really found Butler's take on vampires interesting - unlike some books vampires can have children and mate, live in communities - men and women do live in separate communities and have a unique relationship with the humans surrounding them. Ina are bound to the humans they regularly take blood from and suffer a horrible loss if that human (symbiont) dies. This is a far cry from the dangerous, blood thirsty vampire who callously discards humans after feeding on them.

There were some parts of the book that dragged a little for me, but that might have been my reading state of mind. Overall, I found this an interesting take on vampires and a stirring look at racism and bigotry.

Monday, October 6, 2008

True Blood update

So, I'm sticking with True Blood but mostly at this point for the hope that it will actually achieve it's full potential and because I love the Sookie Stackhouse books so much.

Maybe I'm too literal but I find it jarring how one minute they have dialog verbatim from the book and the next minute they're adding subplots that aren't in any of the books. I don't if they felt they had to pad it because the first book was too short for a whole season.

Things that annoy me:

The Tara subplot - don't know why they have to make Tara so grating and abrasive when in the books she's actually successful and owns her own clothing store. The unrequited love for Jason... yeah, that's never been done before. And sleeping with Sam, ugh, do NOT get me started.

V juice - Yes people drink vampire blood and its sold on the black market. Last week's episode with Jason drinking a whole vial of vampire blood to me was ridiculous and over the top.

Sookie's abilities - Yes Sookie can read people's minds, but it's only explicitly acknowledged by a few people. For the most part, Sookie tries to downplay her ability and others attempt to live in a state of denial about it.

That said, the actor who plays Bill is growing on me and I think Anna Paquin is great. I also like the feel of the show. There's been some great images and scenes like when Bill wiped his tears and they flashed on his hankerchief with a smear of blood on it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mice and Men Under Fire

A Kansas City mother is pushing to have John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men removed from the school's required reading list. She objects to the book's use of the n word.

According to UPI, Dana Washington said: "The N-word is used more in this paragraph than most rap songs, and I think that's absolutely ridiculous .. I'm not asking for the book to be banned, but for it to be removed from the list of required reading in the USD 500 school list. ... I want them to find another book that doesn't use the word so violently and profusely."

The school's response: "It's not a pleasant part of our history," David Smith, a spokesman for the school district, told KMBC-TV. "But kids these days need opportunities to learn about it, understand it, not in a sanitized 21st-century way, because that's how we move forward in society."

Let me preface any discussion with this caveat: I’m in no way saying that the use of n-word is acceptable.
However, I don’t think the answer is removing Of Mice and Men from the reading list.

John Steinbeck’s classic focuses on two migrant workers during the Great Depression. One of them has limited capabilities that result in the book’s tragic ending.
Although it’s painful to read racist words it also reflects what was happening in our country at that time. Instead of pushing to have the book removed from the list, why not approach it as a chance to discuss racism in our country and the power/harm of racist words? If we ever hope to learn from history it’s not by ignoring it or shying away from the unpleasant bits.

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What banned books do you want to read

Shelf Talk has an interesting post on banned books they'd like to read - . The post was inspired by a hilarious Onion article, Nation's Teens Disappointed by Banned Books,

"Desensitized to sex and violence from an early age, today's teens simply expect more out of their banned books than previous generations," said Naomi Gould, director of the D.C.-based National Education Consortium. "For the teens of yesteryear, access to novels like Tropic Of Cancer, Portnoy's Complaint, and Lady Chatterley's Lover was an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime thrill. But for teens raised on Cinemax and Def Comedy Jam, it just doesn't cut it."

tee hee.

Like Shelf Talk, I haven't r
ead The Awakening in years. I wouldn't mind picking it up again.

I went through a list of 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000.
and banned novels/ challenged novels

My pick's include from this list include:
The Chocolate War - Robert Cormier's tale of the fall out from one teen's refusal to participate in the school's annual chocolate sale repeatedly shows up on challenged book lists. I kind of like to see what the fuss is about.

A Wrinkle in Time - I've been meaning to read this for years. I feel like it's a must read in the scifi/ fantasy cannon.

Bless Me Ultima

Catch 22 - I've been meaning to read this for years
Slaughterhouse Five - Is another classic I feel remiss in not having read.

Must Read Books

In response to Esquire's Greatest Books Ever Written, Jezebel polled readers on must read books by women. As Jezebel pointed out there was just one woman author on Esquire's list:

Jezebel's list is compiled mostly of female authors -

I've included the list below. Which books have you read? Which ones do you want to read? (I've bolded the ones I've read and the ones I'd like to read are in red. Sadly, I have not read a lot of these books.

  • The Lottery (and Other Stories), Shirley Jackson (I know I read The Lottery in high school)
  • To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
  • The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton
  • White Teeth, Zadie Smith
  • The House of the Spirits, Isabel Allende
  • Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Joan Didion
  • Excellent Women, Barbara Pym
  • The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
  • Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys
  • The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Beloved, Toni Morrison
  • Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
  • Like Life, Lorrie Moore
  • Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
  • Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
  • The Delta of Venus, Anais Nin
  • A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley
  • A Good Man Is Hard To Find (and Other Stories), Flannery O'Connor
  • The Shipping News, E. Annie Proulx
  • You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down, Alice Walker
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  • Fear of Flying, Erica Jong
  • Earthly Paradise, Colette
  • Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt
  • Property, Valerie Martin
  • Middlemarch, George Eliot
  • Annie John, Jamaica Kincaid
  • The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir
  • Runaway, Alice Munro
  • The Heart is A Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers
  • The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston
  • Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
  • You Must Remember This, Joyce Carol Oates
  • Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
  • Bad Behavior, Mary Gaitskill
  • The Liars' Club, Mary Karr
  • I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
  • A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, Betty Smith
  • And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie
  • Bastard out of Carolina, Dorothy Allison
  • The Secret History, Donna Tartt
  • The Little Disturbances of Man, Grace Paley
  • The Portable Dorothy Parker, Dorothy Parker
  • The Group, Mary McCarthy
  • Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
  • The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing
  • The Diary of Anne Frank, Anne Frank *I've read this in school but would like to re-read it.
  • Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
  • Against Interpretation, Susan Sontag
  • In the Time of the Butterflies, Julia Alvarez
  • The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck
  • Fun Home, Alison Bechdel
  • Three Junes, Julia Glass
  • A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollstonecraft
  • Sophie's Choice, William Styron
  • Valley of the Dolls, Jacqueline Susann
  • Love in a Cold Climate, Nancy Mitford
  • Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
  • The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. LeGuin
  • The Red Tent, Anita Diamant
  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera
  • The Face of War, Martha Gellhorn
  • My Antonia, Willa Cather
  • Love In The Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • The Harsh Voice, Rebecca West
  • Spending, Mary Gordon
  • The Lover, Marguerite Duras
  • The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
  • Tell Me a Riddle, Tillie Olsen
  • Nightwood, Djuna Barnes
  • Three Lives, Gertrude Stein
  • Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
  • I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith (I've seen the movie, I'd like to read the book)
  • Possession, A.S. Byatt

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Banned Books Week

This coming Saturday kicks off Banned Books Week. I was very disappointed to learn that there are no events planned in Massachusetts. Check out the Web site, you may find some events in your area. They are also doing things in Second Life.

According to the Web site, Banned Books started more than 25 years ago in response to a sudden increase of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 1,000 books have been challenged since then. The challenged books range from children's to reference to adult fiction. They include classic works such The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and popular works like the Harry Potter series.

While I understand some parents' concerns with books are serious, some border on the ridiculous. One parent wanted YA Lois Lowry's books removed because she'd objected to references to stuffing and snapping bras in the series. Really?

However, challenging books is not the answer. Just because one person finds a book objectionable does not give them the right to prevent others from reading it. It's important, I think, to remember that books are still under attack and we should continue to fight for the freedom to read.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Dear CW: Take a note, look at HBO

Wow, that was fast. Only after two episodes, HBO is renewing True Blood. Based on Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse novels. Regular readers, may recall I have ambivalent feelings. In all fairness, rare is the tv/ movie adaption I like 100 percent.

I have some problems with the series ... it plays a little loose and fast with the novels, I sort of detest the Tara/ best friend subplot. However, I'm hanging in there. I think Anna Paquin is great as Sookie.

True Blood goes for second bite

Five Reasons: True Blood

* The post title refers to my bitterness about CW's habit of canceling my favorite shows. Oh, bookworm Rory and super sleuth Veronica, tv is not the same without you.

Any True Blood watchers out there. What do you think?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Geek Gear

When I saw Peeramid's bookrest pillow, I fell in love with it. Shaped like ... wait for it ... pyramid, it's designed for reading books when you're lying in bed, sitting on the couch or traveling. It has a bookmark attached to it.

I came soooo close to buying this tonight, but I currently can't justify sending $30 something on it. My inner, let's be a responsible adult is like, save those pennies and use a pillow for reading. That said, I just think this looks adorable and looks so handy. I hate trying to find a comfortable spot reading a book when I'm sitting on my couch.

Help save Bitch magazine

The woes that the publishing industry is facing are well. Magazines and newspapers are losing revenue, advertisements are down and layoffs continue. Hopefully we can all agree that a diversity of voices is beneficial for everyone.

I don't recall when I began reading Feministing, but I quickly began hooked. I don't agree with everything they post, but find it a refreshing/ provocative view on issues, news and culture. In a similar vein is a magazine called Bitch, which describes itself as commentary on the media-driven world from a feminist perspective.

The magazine is currently in financial trouble and needs to raise $40,000 to survive. I have to admit that I’ve never read Bitch – I read their blog, but for some reason haven’t been able to find it on the newsstand. However, I’m blogging about it because I think It’s so important that we support a diversity of voices.

Bitch magazine needs your help!

The "Save Bitch" campaign: 28 days and $24K to go

Help Us Keep Bitching

Bitch Editors Ask Readers for 40K: Feminist Mag's 'Fate Is In Your Hands'

Will Bitch Go Broke?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

New Moon

I've caught Twilight fever. I recently packed New Moon the next book in the series to read on a recent long weekend trip. I could not put it down. It's one of those rare books where when it was too late to read, I'd find myself skimming several pages because I was just dying to know what happened next.

Now, I'm not saying Stephenie Meyer's books are perfect. There's something that bothers me about them, I can't quite put my finger on it. I think they do tend to be a tad overly melodramatic. However, there's something I really like about Bella's character. They tend to be very engrossing books.

I have Eclipse, but am taking a break. I don't want to finish the series too quickly. I do, however, have quite a large stack of vampire books that I'm hoping to tackle.

A Lion Named Christian

I'll admit I'm a sap. I've been known to tear up at Hallmark ads, cry every year when I hear Happy Christmas (War is Over) and definitely was, ahem, misty eyed when I watched A Lion Named Christian.

If you have not seen this video, it's definitely been making the rounds lately. The video is about two Londoners who bought a lion cub at Harrods. Eventually the lion - Christian - grew too big for them to care for. He was introduced back to the wilds of Africa. A year later, they decided they wanted to see their pet again despite warnings that he might not recognize them and that it was dangerous. In the video, we see Christian embracing the two men.

According to Short Stack, a book the two men wrote about their experiences is being republished, A Lion Named Christian.

I'll admit that the video is a tad cheesy, but very sweet. I find it interesting that after all this time there's a resurgence of interest in their story.

By the way, Short Stack will now be posting daily.

Monday, September 15, 2008

True Blood merch

I'm still on the fence about HBO's True Blood, but I don't know if that's because it seems like it's not completely true to the book. I know they probably need to add some elements that aren't in the book, but the Tara subplot is wearing thin on me.

I'm realizing I'm going to have to view separately from the book.
However, I am love with these bar glasses. The glasses are from Merlotte's, the bar Sookie works at.


True Blood,,20222109,00.html

Our Second Date With True Blood Leaves Us Confused But Wanting More

TV Review: TRUE BLOOD - SEASON ONE - 'The First Taste'

HBO's new vampire series "True Blood" doesn't suck

The Review: True Blood Needs to Sharpen Its Fangs

Give HBO Some Credit

HBO's 'True Blood': What did you think?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Election Reading Habits

Amazon has a neat feature up to examining political reading habits by state.

I would not say there's any big surprises here. In my home state - Massachusetts -- 58 percent are reading Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Obama. 42 percent are reading McCain's Faith of My Fathers.

In Palin's state, Alaska, 64 percent are reading Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska' Political Establishment Upside Down.

I thought it was interesting that in formerly staunch red state NH, 45 percent were reading Zinn's A People's History of the United States.

Regardless of your party, there's a lot of books out there on both candidates. I just downloaded Obama's biography. I'm interested in hearing it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Geek Gear returns

One a recent trip to New York, my friends and I went to a store called Fishes Eddy. Now, what with an unfortunate habit of routinely breaking glasses/ aversion to cooking, I tend not to buy a lot of things for the kitchen.

However, I fell in love with these glasses – based on fairy tales, there’s Little Boy Blue and Red Riding Hood. I bought a set of four glasses and a really cute t-shirt with the Red Riding Hood design on it.

I’ll just have to be extra careful drinking from these.

Monday, September 8, 2008

A New Superhero: The librarian

Look beneath the covers and you may be surprised at all libraries do. For instance, libraries are currently the front lines in skirmishes over civil liberties. As part of the Patriot Act, the FBI can look at citizens’ library records such as books checked, etc. They don’t need probable cause to get a court order from a secret court.

Mother Jones has a tale of several librarians who fought the FBI and won (this short article is definitely worth reading).

The FBI presented Connecticut librarian George Christian with a National Security letter and told him that he had to turn over records on library patrons. According to Mother Jones, NSL are “…are a little-known FBI tool originally used in foreign intelligence surveillance to obtain phone, financial, and electronic records without court approval. Rarely employed until 2001, they exploded in number after the Patriot Act drastically eased restrictions on their use, allowing nsls to be served by FBI agents on anyone—whether or not they were the subject of a criminal investigation. In 2000, 8,500 nsls were issued; by contrast, between 2003 and 2005 the FBI issued more than 143,000 nsls, only one of which led to a conviction in a terrorism case.”

Christian and his fellow librarians decided to fight the order with the help of the ACLU.

"People say very confidential things to our reference librarians," explains (librarian Peter) Chase. "They have medical issues, personal matters. What people are borrowing at a public library is nobody's business."

The courts ended up siding with the librarians that the NSL was unconstitutional and lifted a gag order that prevented Christian and his fellow librarians from discussing the case in public.
Threats to libraries can also come from unlikely places. Take Maine resident JoAn Karkos. She looks like an unthreatening older woman.

Karkos, however, has taken upon herself to determine whether a book was fit for public consumption. Karkos checked out two copies of It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health and then refused to return them.

According to Boing Boing, Karkos wrote the library saying: “I have been sufficiently horrified of the illustrations and sexually graphic, amoral, abnormal contents. I will not be returning the books.”
NPR reports that the library took this seriously: “The librarians were not amused. "This has never happened before," Rick Speer, director of the Lewiston Public Library, told the Sun Journal. "It is clearly theft.”

Karkos was eventually charged a $100 fine (that a minister paid off.)
These stories while seemingly different both have my blood boiling.

If you think a library book is offense, it’s simple: DON’T CHECK IT OUT! To think that you have the right to dictate what other people read is offensive and arrogant.

The thought that the government wants to pry into what books/magazines you read or movies you watch or even what Web sites you visit, is a chilling one. Say I check out The Anarchists Cookbook, read about explosives or say serial killers, that does not mean I’m a terrorist in the making or a female Ted Bundy. If we turn a blind eye to the erosion of civil liberties, we start down a dangerous path. People should be able to go to the library and read without fear of prying eyes and be able to check out whatever book they want.

So, kudos to librarians for fighting challenges on every front. I’ve waxed poetically about libraries before, but I want to stress what an important role librarians play. They’re an incredible asset and are increasingly vocal in the fight to protect our unfettered access to information.

America's Most Dangerous Librarians
Library Cards
Judge orders woman to return two library books or go to jail
Protest over 'Pornographic' Book Raises Interest

True Blood premieres! Sookie is on TV

I’ve been lax about blogging this past month; I’ve also been lax about reading. Hopefully, that’s about to change. Just in time to justify subscribing to HBO, True Blood premiered last night!!!

I thought the "documentaries" before hand were interesting. One thing I pondered this summer is how various authors interpret the vampire myth. Reaction to sunlight, Holy Water, crucifixes and vampires vary depending on the author. For instance, Charlaine Harris’ vampires can’t go out in the sunlight and cannot enter someone’s home unless explicitly invited.

Overall, I’m excited about True Blood, which is based on Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels. For the uninitiated, True Blood is the name of the synthetic blood that allows vampires to “come out of the coffin” and openly participate in society. Sookie is a barmaid in a small Louisiana town (she's also telepathic). She becomes enmeshed in the vampire world after meeting Bill.

I’m horribly picky when it comes to movie/ television adoptions. I thought this seemed pretty true to the spirit of the book.

Nit picks first. I did not like how they’ve changed Tara’s character and downplayed Arlene’s. In the first book, Arlene, a fellow waitress/ friend plays a more prominent role. I thought the way they handled Sookie’s telepathy was a little heavy handed. Most of her close friends do not know she can read their minds, they just think there’s something off with her. Although, I can see why HBO went in that direction. Her ability plays a crucial role in the story, but she can’t read her boss Sam’s mind as clearly as other humans (and this will be important later).

I also really can’t picture the actors who play Sam or Bill as these characters. I picture Sam as a little more stocky, with reddish/blonde curly hair. And Bill (pictured left/ played by

Stephen Moyer), for some reason I pictured him with ink black hair and alabaster skin.

After reading the description again I realized I substituted my own image for how the character is really described. I still would have liked to see Henry (Kyle Schmid) from Lifetimes Blood Ties as Bill. I thought he was great in that series, which was based on Tayna Huff’s novels. (BTW: Still not over Lifetime canceling this series. BOOOO)

Now, it probably sounds like I didn’t like the first episode. However, that’s not the case. It’s just that I’ve enjoyed the Sookie Stackhouse books so much, that I’m probably way too critical. I think it’s great that someone recognized the potential for these books to be turned into a gripping series. There’s excitement, mystery, romance and the supernatural. They’ve also had some pretty creative ads and seem to be really promoting this series.

HBO, please don’t disappoint me like some other networks cough ::Lifetime:: cough did.

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