Sunday, June 20, 2010

My life in Ashes

I just recently read Kathryn Lasky's Ashes, and, as a librarian, I have to say it hit home, mainly because of the strong focus on books. Ashes is about a thirteen-year-old German girl growing up in Berlin just as Adolf Hitler is coming into power. Gabriella Schramm's father is the chairman of the Department of Photoastonoy at the University of Berlin. Her mother is a pianist, and her sister Ulla, also a gifted musician, has recently turned away from her studies to focus more on boys. The world is changing around Gaby just as she is beginning to grow up. The years 1932-1933 thrust her into moments of adulthood which she writes about in her Diary of Shame. Moments that either made her feel uncomfortable, or times when she thought she could have reacted better to a situation. Most of those situations dealt with something to do with the growth of the Nazi party in Germany.

Gaby spends much of her time reading books that the Nazis will soon label as being subversive. Soon both her beloved books and her Jewish friends, including Albert Einstein, are under attack. While some might claim the book burning to be the defining moment, I focused more on the librarian Frau Grumbach, and her refusal to hand over the names of students who checked out "questionable" books to Fraulein Hofstadt. Frau Grumbach disappeared the next day and was never seen again. As a librarian myself, of course that was going to make me think of my own responsibility towards my patrons. And wondering if I would have the guts to make a stand about something I know is fundamentally wrong, or would I go along with it in order to cause the least harm to myself by not standing out. Oo, ethics. Of course, I can really just hope that I'm never in that situation.

I also enjoyed that this book was written from a gentile's perspective from that time period. It always seemed like the books I read about World War II when I was a child/young adult mainly featured Jewish or other persecuted people. I think there should be more like this. It was like how I learned at a young age from Bette Greene's Summer of My German Soldier that not all German people were evil Nazis (besides, who wouldn't get a youthful crush on Anton).

I am participating in Centreville's teen summer reading program this year as they are doing "Team Teen" vs "Team Adult" where as Kent Island is doing the middle schoolers vs the high schoolers. I'm kind of glad that I'm not doing it in Kent Island because the high schoolers already have over 4000 pages read-and that was done by just one girl this past week! I would so lose to her.

I am getting ready to have our first adult summer reading book discussion this Tuesday evening. I hope it goes well! I'm not the best at public speaking, so hopefully I will as all the right questions to get the discussion humming and I won't have to talk again. I wish! The book we are doing this time is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Later in the summer it is The Hunger Games. I'm quite looking forward to that one. If anyone will actually show up for them.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hour 48 is here. Finally!

Seriously, it is challenges like this, and my obstinate nature, that only propels my natural state of being a hypochondriac into overdrive. Like, maybe I should get some sleep, but, no, we stayed up and read the entire 48 hours. Go me! Two years in a row. However, if this is going to be the weekend date this challenge is held from now on, I'm doubting that I will be participating so heavily in it in the near future because I have a new nephew. He's so adorable! And hopefully he is doing well considering I was totally selfish and didn't call to ask about him this weekend at all. He is home from the hospital, I know that. I also didn't pick up my parent's call. I need to call them now to see when they are planning on arriving here today.

So I'm kind of tossed as what to do right now. Spruce up the apartment, take a nap, or go to church. At this moment, I'm actually feeling quite perky. Energy drink kicking in 6 hours late? Maybe so.

I think, however, I will hold off doing my last few reviews until the next post.

However, here are the books I read for this homestretch:

13) A Posse of Princesses by Sherwood Smith
14) Nightlight by The Harvard Lampoon
15) Bad Kitty: Catnipped by Michelle Jaffe
16) Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster
17) Hunger Games (audiobook) by Suzanne Collins

Time spent reading/blogging: 48 hours
Books read: 16
Pages: 4118
Money donated: $75.25

Let the partying begin!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

38 hours 20 minutes... end is nearing!

I'm getting to that veiny point in the competition, where the veins on my feet, legs, hands, and arms make their appearance. Needless to say, this last 12 hours or so are my favorite. From what I can recall from last year. However, new plan for tomorrow morning is, despite how scummy I feel, I fully intend to read/walk my way over to the playground area that they have by the school/church right next to me and doing the last couple of hours over there. I did that tonight before it got too dark and it was quite lovely getting to see someplace that wasn't the living room in my apartment. And I can rest quite comfortably reading a book on the slide. I'll have to remember this for next year.

New reading updates:

9) Hilary McKay's Wishing For Tomorrow. So, no lie, I grew up loving Burnett's A Little Princess. One of my all-time favorites. So when I discovered that there was going to be a sequel of sorts, I had to jump all over that one. And I am quite pleased with the result. The first couple of chapters do have bits from the original novel (basically the banquet/Sara finding the "Indian Gentleman") but it mainly deals with life at Miss Minchin's Select Seminary after Sara leaves. The main thread throughout the story of the girls' left behind is Ermengarde and how she deals with losing her best friend. Or how she thinks she has lost her. But, McKay does a wonderful job of fleshing out Lotte, Lavinia, Jessica, the two Miss Minchins in addition to adding new characters like Alice (the new maid-love her!), Tristram (the boy next door), and Bosco (the cat). This is going to be a book that I buy to keep!

10) Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George. I didn't mean to read two 12 Dancing Princesses books for the challenge, it just happened. Why I haven't read this one earlier, I don't know. My only defense is that once I own a book, it gets regulated to "read last" status because I always have a billion books checked out. I've loved Jessica Day George back when I read her first novel, Dragon Slippers, so I was happy to read these fairy tales retold she has been doing. This was is a lot more traditional retelling of the story (as opposed to The Thirteenth Princess) but still very well told. I love the knitting knight Galen. And, I think with all books based on this story, there is the lack of character development except for a few of the major princesses just because there are so many of them. These princesses all had flower names as their mom was big into flowers. She was also the cause of them being cursed to dance (and then marry) the half-demon princes because her mom made a deal with their dad. Good idea, right? So not. Very fun read.

11) Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George. I fought to get this book from the Bloomsbury Publishers at ALA Midwinter this year. I knew what I wanted, but it was at the bottom of their stack. After asking three times, however, someone was willing to go get it for me. And I loved it! This one is a sequel of sorts to Princess of the Midnight Ball and focuses on Poppy, one of the middle princesses (and a twin) who is sent to Breton as part of a new royal exchange program. Not that the king wants her there because his son happened to die attempting to break their curse back when they had to dance every night. So hostilities from that direction. And then she meets Prince Christian who just happens to be captivated by a former lady now servant Eleanora? Something is not quite right, and Poppy will need to use all of her wits and knitting power to set things on their correct course. A twist on the Cinderella story, but who is the real Cinderella? Needless to say, it was worth every moment spent annoying the publishers for my ARC of it.

12) Ouran High School Host Club Vol 1 by Bisco Harori. Jo seemed to very much like this series. I just didn't get into it. Maybe I need to read it when I'm not so tired? I'm not sure. Oh well.

Time spent reading/blogging: 38 hours, 20 minutes
Books read: 12
Pages: 3239
Money donated: $58.75

27 hours and still going

But maybe not all that strong. I'm sensing a need for chocolate in the near future. Especially because I seem quite excited that my newest book, Hilary McKay's Wishing For Tomorrow, has pictures.

More books, please.

7) I somehow sense that there are going to be a lot more sequels I am going to want to read in the near future. Like Y.S. Lee's The Agency: A Spy in the House. A fun, light Victorian mystery romp. At age twelve, Mary Quinn, orphan and convicted criminal, fell off the scaffold and into the care of Anne Treleaven, the headmistress of Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls. There she is educated and at age 17 becomes a part of the "The Agency", a select organization of crime-solving women. Because who really expects Victorian women to be all that exciting? So you know that while there are good women in the story, that means there is also going to be bad women, too. Just have to figure out who is who. Her first mission is to infiltrate a rich merchant's home as a lady's companion. Then the real adventure begins! Looking forward to the next Agency book.

8) Mairelon the Magician by Patricia C. Wrede. I might have hit this book at the wrong time because it came highly recommended to me, but it just seemed to drag. Maybe I'm just getting to the point of tiredness due to lack of sleep.

Last night Jo and I read out loud to each other the first half of Nightlight. We also spent a couple hours resting our eyeballs and listened to more of The Hunger Games also did this during breakfast which was thoughtfully provided for us by Jo's mom and her sister. Yay! In addition, I ate a piece of the best chocolate chip pie I ever had thanks to my friend and co-worker, Erin.

Now back to reading hard-core. Seriously. ;)

Time spent reading/blogging: 27 hours, 20 minutes
Books read: 8
Pages: 2214
Money donated: $42.00

17 hours in...

Alas, poor Yorick, I sense no sleep for me tonight. No sleep, and no air conditioning. It was supposed to be fixed yesterday afternoon. No show. This afternoon. No show until almost 7. Then, apparently some other part was broke and since it was too late to buy the part (and are these places closed on Saturdays?) I was informed that I would have to wait until Monday. Vexed, you say? Vexed was way back there. It's been over a week now. ::grumblegrumble::

There are so many worse things out there. I shouldn't be complaining about a silly thing like that. Besides, just think of the savings on my electric bill!

I have now read three more books! So...

4) Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted. Any book in it that discusses musicals (even if it is Grease) is fine by me. And, there even was a mention of how the musical differed from the movie, that's a nice plug. Lucius managed to create a rather large explosion his freshman year of high school and blew off his arms. Now he has hooks. His scars are quite visible to the outside world, making him open to torment by fellow students. Aurora's mother recently died of cancer. Her scars are inward and I got the feeling she didn't talk much about her mother with her new friends. They are both new to the school, their respective parents having moved them to a new school district for a new beginning. I thought it was a good read. Plus, Aurora's father was the school librarian. The awesome one would could find you research. Gotta love that!

Took a break from reading books and switched on an audiobook of Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games for dinnertime. We are doing this book for a summer book discussion shortly and I need a refresher. Somehow, though, listening to Katniss talk about the time she nearly starved and how Peeta saved her made me feel not so hungry anymore. It was like the time I was at Dachau Concentration Camp and we had just watched the introductory film filled with starving prisoners and some American stood up after the video was ended and loudly proclaimed, "Well, it's time to go get something to eat!". Tact much?

5) The Everafter by Amy Huntley. One of those books that I probably needed to read. Why? Because I form strange attachments to inanimate objects just like Madison Stanton, the protagonist, did. And now that she is dead, she has discovered that through the objects she's lost throughout her life, she can go back and revisit those moments. Until she finds the missing object and the experience of that memory is forever lost to her. It made me wonder just what sort of lost objects I would find in my own "Is", though I would go beyond year 17 now. I was surprised just how she died. I wasn't quite expecting that.

6) The Thirteenth Princess by Diane Zahler. A fairy tale, retold. This one of the "Twelve Dancing Princesses". Jo recommended that I read it next. It was light and enjoyable, having the tale told with an extra princess. One who is, unfortunately, regulated to working as a servant because her father, the King, blamed her for causing her mother's death. And for not being a boy. Despite that, Zita (unlike her sisters who's names all start with "A's"), has turned out to be a well-adjusted girl who, during the course of the book, befriends a stablehand, a witch, and a soldier, all on her quest to help her sisters end their curse. I did figure out earlier on who the bad witch was. I'm not sure if I should be proud of myself, or not!

Currently reading: The Agency: A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee - Fun!

Time spent reading/blogging: 17 hours, 15 minutes
Books read: 6
Pages: 1567
Money donated: $31.50

Friday, June 4, 2010

9 hours in...

And I feel like I'm moving at a snail's pace reading my books. All will be well, though, I am sure. As long as I have four total done by hour 12, I think I should reach my goal. Maybe? Goal being to at least match the amount I read last year.

So, what have I been reading so far?

First up was Castle Adamant by Sally Watson. She's an old favorite of mine who just recently started writing again. Or at least publishing her books again. The problem with her books that generally her characters are at least slightly related to characters from other books and it makes me want to go read the other ones again! Watson again wrote a fabulously eccentric female character from the time of the Civil War in England, Verity. She being a Roundhead "kidnapped" by Royalists and ending up at a Royalist stronghold Castle Corfe. Pretty much all of Watson's main female characters give me hope that maybe men out there really do prefer their women intelligent instead of just easy-going, as of course Verity was going to end up with the snappish Peregrine, as they battled out their feelings for God, country, and themselves with a dialogue peppered with Latin, Greek, and Bible scripture. A rewarding read.

Next we turned our thoughts to modern times with a paranormal twist. In other words, Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins. So I figured out some of the villainy ahead of time in this book, however, I wasn't quite prepared for all the treachery or the death. I can see why Jo would want me to read it as it is very entertaining and pulls you in. I'm looking forward to the next book.

Thirdly, was Julia Golding's Black Heat of Jamaica, the fifth book in the Cat Drury books. I had to order this one from the UK because it wasn't out yet and I can't say enough about the fun that is this series. Seriously. Not to mention we have Billy Shepherd actually acting, dare I say it, passably nice to Cat in this one. Actually, most of the major players from earlier books were gone in this volume and we were left with many a villain. Or at least scoundrels and one villain (Kingston Hawkins). And believe you me, he was up to great and terrible things. Looking forward to the next adventure with Cat (yes, I actually already have this one pre-ordered) but it is going to be a lengthy wait.

And now I'm reading Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted.

Hours: 9.5ish now
Books read: 3
Pages: 883
Money donated: $15.75

Ready, set, go!

"The moment we have all been waiting for," quote Jojo. And I'm ready to start this thing.

My charity of choice this year is a couple from my church who are in the midst of adopting a baby boy from Ethiopia. So, I am doing $5 per regular book read, $1 per graphic novel, and $.25 per valid comment on my blog. I can wait to meet their new son!

And now it starts with a Sally Watson book, as tradition dictates. Hopefully my air conditioning issue will be fixed today.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Everybody is playing the game.

Luckily the rules are the same. (Yes, I am misquoting a musical, and that musical is Chess).

I have most recently signed up to compete (yes, like an athletic event) in MotherReader's 48 Hour Book Challenge. I was in it for gold last year for my own mercenary reasons (ARC of Catching Fire much?), but this year, I want to go all the way for the charity of my choice. Which, I can't quite say yet because I have not gotten it approved by those who need to approve it, but it will be for a splendid cause if I have any say in the matter.

What I won't be doing is seeing a show after the event as I did last year (Tom Stoppard's Arcadia and I so wish I had seen it when I was more awake). Nor will I be celebrating barricade day with my friends who are stuck on this continent and can't celebrate it in Paris with all the other Les Miserables junkies. No exciting Paris trips for me this year. Instead, I'll be reading for a cause.

I have been reading Estelle Lazer's Resurrecting Pompeii the last few days, and I am quite enjoying myself. More for her humorous commentary on stories written by Theophile Gautier which feature heroes who have a tendency to form attachments with random body parts of long-dead women: in one instance a cast of a woman's bosom and hips, the other a woman's foot. Now I want to read these stories outright, despite the fact that the author gave a brief summary of them. The stories being Arria Marcella and The Mummy's Foot.

I love how reading one book can introduce you to another. I would have never heard about Gautier, I bet, except for this book. It is just like how one blog can inform another and link to something else and it continues forever. Sometimes I get lost in reading blog posts. Oh, technology, what a "time waster" you are to me. Or is it? Certainly I learn things when I hop from one blog to the next following a stream of information that interests me.

But now I am feeling woefully tired. Perhaps I am no longer young enough to stay up late and keep night hours. That bodes ill for the challenge...

Friday, January 29, 2010

Mayhem! Or, "to be continued..."

Growing up, I always enjoyed reading books by authors that were dead (though I did read those by authors living, of course). There was a finality to it that the authors would be unable to leave you hanging because the next book was already written. So even if they did leave you with a tantalizing "to be continued..." at the end of one book, there was always the immediate relief of the next. Unless they die before the series is complete. But new authors? You have to wait a while for the next book to come out. That sometimes takes a bit of patience!

And Then Everything Unraveled by Jennifer Sturman

Cordelia Truesdale (or Delia to her friends), a California girl living with her mom, T.K., goes surfing one day only to come home to the news that her mother has disappeared during an Antarctica expedition and is presumed dead by all. Everyone, that is, except for Delia herself. However, a reading of T.K.'s will sends Delia to live in NYC with her Aunt Charity (or Charley), with her other aunt, Patience, acting as her trustee; neither of which she had ever met before. As if starting her junior year in a new preppy private school isn't enough, Delia attempts to unravel the mystery of her mother's disappearance and along the way makes friends with a tech-saavy schoolmate, becomes attracted to a boy who might be dangerous, ask the assistance of a private detective, be told her future by a psychic, and attempt to avoid T.K.'s oily assistant, Thad.

I enjoyed reading this, but I do wish that it didn't leave me with a hanging ending. Though at least one thing was resolved by the end o the book. Of course, I'm not going to say what! I am looking forward to reading the sequel, And Then I Found Out the Truth.

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood

The first book in a new series, Maryrose Wood quickly introduces the reader to the ever intrepet Miss. Penelope Lumley, who at fifteen years of age is a recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females. Armed only with sayings of Agatha Swanburne (not all of them make sense), her favorite stories in the Giddy-Yap, Rainbow series, and her own personal convictions, Miss Lumley is still not quite prepared to face her newest challenge: being a governess to three children recently found running wild in the woods of Ashton Place. Named the Incorrigibles by Lord Frederick, the owner of Ashton Place, Alexander, Cassiopeia, and Beowulf face many challenges in becoming normal children as taught by Miss Lumley, not the least of which are the local squirrels. When the much anticipated ball (by Lady Charlotte, at least) devolves into "Mayhem!" as shouted by Cassiopeia, many questions are raised but none are answered by the end of the book.

In a way it reminding me in parts of Lois Lowry's The Willoughbys and Joan Aiken's The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. Perhaps the orphans, perhaps the mystery, or maybe just the sometimes ridiculousness of it demonstrated by the adults in the story. While I wish I knew more by the end of the story, I did find it a fun romp. I'm looking to reading more of the series!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ruined (and the not so ruined Helen Hayes nominations)

Rebecca Brown, the fifteen-year-old protagonist of Ruined, a young adult novel by Paula Morris, finds herself at the beginning of the book shuttled off to live in the pre-Katerina city of New Orleans while her father is on an assignment in China. Her mother is dead, and there is only her Aunt Claudia, who isn't actually her aunt, to take care of her for an entire school year. Upon arriving in New Orleans, Rebecca learns she will be attending the prestigious Temple Mead School for girls, a school that has a rigid system of hierarchy that Rebecca, being an outsider, will never be able to crack.

The story really starts to move when Rebecca disobeys her aunt and sneaks into the cemetery (rule 1 - do not go into the cemetery) to spy on a group of "Them" girls from the Temple Mead School and their boy followers (rule 2 - do not associated at all with that group of kids). Of course, Rebecca makes a noise while spying on them, and has to flee through the cemetery. Except she gets lost. And meets a girl who points the way out. A girl who turns out to be a ghost.

Ruined took me back to the good old fashioned ghost stories of my own youth. A time where there were no zombies and vampires to interupt a good haunting. I could see the plot twists coming, but I still had fun getting there. Perhaps the most interesting aspects of the story for me was learning more about New Orleans historically and pre-Katrina. I think that the ghost, Lisette, had the most fleshed out character (yes, even as a ghost) of anyone in the book including Rebecca. I wish I could have learned more about Helena and what made her tick, though I guess every teen book needs that randomly awful for no apparent reason mean girl. And the romance aspect of it, I don't think it really needed it because to me it was more Lisette's story than Rebecca's.

Overall, while it had some weaknesses, I did enjoy Paula Morris's Ruined.

Next up: The dreaded "To Be Continued..." (a.k.a. two books I have recently read that featured those words at the end of the book)

And can I just get my theatre dorkiness squee out? I was so excited to see that both David Turner and Miriam Silverman were nominated for this year's Helen Hayes Awards (it is Washington, D.C.'s yearly theatre awards). And both for their performances as Tristan and Marcela in Shakespeare Theatre's Dog In the Manger, one of my favorite productions of last year (and currently in my top list of plays). Also Arcadia was nominated for several awards and other shows I liked. I can get more into the Helen Hayes Awards than the Tony Awards because I see a greater portion of the shows, so I do actually have my favorites!

And who could resist a play that has such lines as, "Late again, missing all the fun, like a virgin at an orgy." My friend actually made a t-shirt for me with that line on it as a birthday present. Though, however much fun Tristan was, my heart and sympathies went out to Marcela. "You don't throw stones at a window to test the quality of the glass."

However, I also have to love Arcadia just because of the archival dorkiness and Tom Stoppard love. I can't believe I went this long without knowing about the awesomeness of this play of his (though to be honest, the only other one I've seen by Stoppard is Rock 'n' Roll both in NYC and at Studio Theatre here in D.C.). I only wish that Thomasina (and Septimus) had a happier ending. Still, who could resist loving the opening line, "Septimus, what is carnal embrace?"..

Monday, January 25, 2010

Open letter to librarians from California

Dear Librarians of California,

Why? Why do you have to be so helpful? It puts pressure on us other poor librarians, especially those from the east coast. And then add to that your natural beauty, us less beautiful east coast librarians just can not compare.

Hah. We had a patron in the other day who told us that life was better in California as for as libraries and librarians go. I'll be taking his words with a grain of salt, however, because he also believed that my boyfriend called me at work to break up with me (because I was a bad kisser). I really don't know where he gets this information because that never happened to me at all! And, I might add, is slander. Especially the way the story is spreading... (not that I'm helping at all by posting it here).

Librarians are helpful and hot the world over, not just in California. Or that's what I choose to believe.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Maybe I'd rather usher at a theatre.

I've been slacking off on reading the past two days. That could potentially be a bad thing, I guess, but I have actually been working on completing the blanket that I started crocheting about two and a half years ago. That's a long time for me, when at one point, I was cranking one out every couple of months. I guess because this one is for me and not a gift, I haven't felt the inspiration. Until I realized how much nicer my apartment would look without random piles of granny squares around. I have enough piles of books in this place that anything else is just messy in the extreme. That and I want to put the keyboard my brother gave/lent to me where I was keeping these piles. Seems like a good enough excuse to get to work! That isn't the blanket that I'm in the midst of working on, but it is going to end up looking just like that once it is complete. Minus the scarf.

I also ushered at Ford's Theatre last night. It's a volunteer opportunity I first began last year with their production of The Civil War, and I have enjoyed the opportunity to help out while still getting to see a show (for free!). Last night's production was called The Rivalry by Norman Corwin (though I kept wanting to call it The Dispute). The play was about the Lincoln/Douglas debates of 1858 (the election that Lincoln lost) as told through the debates themselves (dialogue was pulled from the debates) seen through the lense of Stephen Douglas's wife Adele looking back on what happened. It's a very enjoyable show (in my opinion), though quite dorky. Great if you love history!

I couldn't help but think, however, that being a volunteer usher is not at all unlike being a librarian.

For example:

1) As a librarian, I get to scan your card and that recognizes the patron and their ability to check out items. As an usher, I get to scan your ticket and that identifies you as a paying patron with a seat.

2) "Can I help you find a book?" (and then leading them to the correct section in the library) isn't that far off from "Can I help you find your seat?" (and once again taking them to the correct seat).

3) I have the Dewey Decimal System to work with at the library. At the theatre, I have the sometimes confusing seat numbers. Everyone gets confused and misplaced sometimes, even books!

4) Instead of handing them a receipt when the transaction is complete, I hand them a playbill once I have shown them their seat.

5) "Where is the bathroom/water fountain/add in your own directional question?" Same the world around, I suppose.

6) Nametags are desired, and sometimes required, no matter how much you dislike them.

7) Ah, reference questions. They are the meat and potatoes of my library diet. How was I to know I would be asked questions about Lincoln's life (and not have any resourses but my brain as an aid) and questions about recyling and what exactly does go into the paper slot vs trash. E.G. Where does the leftover cookie bits go? (Um, trash?)

8) Wearing a bright smile, no matter what is happening in your life? Same in both places!

9) Drunk patrons. You can find them both at the library and at the theatre. What a relief!

Really, it's all about working with the public. I just never thought that my library career would inform my ushering job. Though, I guess I should be grateful, because I'm not quite the expert. Though I'm always happier if I get my special corner of the theatre where I like to work.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I am so good in this scene.

Have you ever read a book and have some glaring instance of "that isn't right!" happen? Now you know I'm a big theatre geek, and a big fan of shows like Les Miserables (really, if people die, I'm happy). So imagine my surprise when I come across this little bit in Alex Flinn's Diva. I really like Alex Flinn's books, especially her fairy tale ones, and this really was a tiny thing that had nothing to do with the main character at all, but, reading it just annoyed me, though I'm sure that other people wouldn't have picked up on it at all. The book is about a teenage girl, Caitlin, who sings opera and, at the beginning of the book, has been accepted into the Miami High School for the Performing Arts.

When one of the other characters (who becomes a friend of Caitlin) introduces herself to her Performing Arts classmates, she makes the statement that she performed as Young Eponine on Broadway in Les Miserables. Now, if you have ever seen Les Miserables, you would know that the role of Young Eponine is a bit role. She does not say anything, nor does she sing at all. It is Young Cosette that has the lines and sings "Castle on a Cloud". I can only assume that the author got the two confused because it is Eponine who has a song in the second act (and has millons of teenage fans).

Secondly, the roles of Young Eponine/Young Cosette is typically shared by either two or three girls depending on the production (though I do believe some of the regional productions might have assigned girls to either Young Eponine or Young Cosette). But, you would either be not in a performance or in the performance as either Young Eponine or Young Cosette depending on the rotation used. A young actress on Broadway in Les Miserables would not be cast as Young Eponine. She would be cast as both roles. Though, if you were announcing to your class you performed on Broadway in Les Miserables, it would make more sense to claim you were Young Cosette rather than Young Eponine.

Yes, I have thought way too much about this. Have you ever run into something that just sticks out as wrong to you?

Next up... Ruined by Paula Morris

And, a bit more personal. I've been pondering the need for new pointe shoes. The ones I am currently wearing (because I have three pairs I rotate) are from 1997. I really have no idea if they are the kind of shoe I should even be wearing anymore, as obviously a lot can happen in 13 years. Perhaps what I find more frightening is that one of my fellow dancers is 13-years-old. Yes, my pointe shoes are the same age as her. That makes me practically ancient in ballet terms! But, really, I fell yesterday doing a pirouette en pointe. How embarrassing, right? Maybe I'm just getting too old for this type of thing.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

So, it wasn't Babe Ruth, but...

It's been a while, n'est pas? So much, and yet so little, has happened the past six months or so. I'm going to be an aunt again! That's exciting news. I'm also going to be in the local ballet production of The Nutcracker come June (I know, a little late-just so long as it doesn't interrupt any 48-hour book challenges!). But, at present, I just returned from ALA midwinter in Boston where I attended a genealogy pre-conference event, caught up with old Simmons friends and Boston itself, and snagged a lot of books that I have been interested in reading. Perhaps most exciting, however, was I managed to quite accidentally meet a favorite author of mine.

I was sitting in the Au Bon Pain cafe that was attached to the hotel we were staying at, talking with Julie (my friend and co-worker) and two other librarians who were on her committee, when an older woman came up to us and asked us if we were librarians. We stated in the affermative, and she went on to thank us for being librarians because she, as an author and as a child, always has had a soft spot for librarians. Score points for us! Which I thought was quite nice of her to say, since obviously we weren't her librarians, just some random librarians off the street (and we never can get enough of complements, can we?). She told us that she had been out of the writing/publishing field for a while, and was interested in starting back up and she was doing a reading soon for that purpose. She then handed us a flier for her upcoming reading, her name was on top and it was... Bette Greene, author of Summer of My German Soldier, one of my favorite books when I was a kid! (Seriously, how could you not love a book that had a hot, German boy in World War II who was not evil-it's like how could you not love Nat Eaton from Witch of Blackbird Pond? You just can't not.)

This meant that I of course had to go and talk to her. I told her how much I loved reading Summer of My German Soldier growing up (and, even now), and she seemed delighted that I actually remembered who she was and liked her writing. She gave me a hug and sat me down to talk a little about her life at present and books, both hers and others. Her husband had been sick for the past twelve years, and she had gone to taking care of him full time, which is why she was about of the writing business for so long. I did not realize until she was telling me about how she writes about emotions (those that she has experienced) and not plot points, that Summer of My German Soldier had personal meaning to her. Not that I asked her if she had a father who liked to beat her. I hope that wasn't part of her emotional experience growing up.

She also attempted to shock me out of my librarian senses by informing me that she thought that the writing for Make Way For Ducklings was pedestrian, though she loves the plot (and wishes she had thought of it). However, I wasn't shocked because it had been so long since I read that book, that I don't remember all the details. She also said that she was due for a reread, so maybe it will come off better this time around.

Ms. Greene signed the flier for me, as I obviously didn't have a book handy, and now I will have that to treasure for life. You never know who you are going to meet in the magical city that is Boston! Actually, that's true. Because Julie and I also ran into Mitali Perkins as we were on our way into the exhibits. She was on her way out!

So, which author from your childhood would you love to randomly meet one day? I'm sad that I will never get the chance to meet Madeleine L'Engle or Lloyd Alexander. I never would have had a chance to see L.M. Montgomery, so she doesn't count.