Thursday, February 26, 2009

You're batting .750, Floating Lush!

One of the fun things about working in the library is talking to people about books. My fellow librarians are an interesting (!!!) lot and we recommend books to each other quite freely. The Floating Lush has done quite well with her recommendations. I've loved 3 of them and the 4th, well, we just won't talk about that one too much (in case you're curious, it is Tam Lin by Pamela Dean).

My first Lush book was The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. Thursday Next (I've always loved that phrasing in British books) is a special operative in the Literary Division of the Special Operatives Network in an England transformed by fighting the Crimean War for well over 100 years. Her job is to prevent literary vandalism such as stealing characters from well-known and well-loved books. I gobbled this book up, couldn't stand being away from it. Please, read it. It is fresh, funny and inventive.

Next came War for the Oaks by Emma Bull. A fantasy set in Minneapolis with the climactic scenes set near Minnehaha Falls and the surrounding park. There was a wonderful feeling of involvement and intimacy in knowing the setting of every scene. Eddi McCandry is trying to start a new band when she is approached by the emissary of the Queen of Faerie with the message that the saving of the world is on her shoulders. As if auditioning band members wasn't enough to keep her busy. I couldn't wait to crawl into bed with this book, often crawling between the covers an hour or more before my usual bedtime....

The latest successful recommendation (via was Graceling by Kristin Cashore. A first novel of lovely proportions! Thankfully, to be followed by two companion novels, the next coming out in the fall. Katsa is a Graceling, the holder of a special gift (some Gracelings can predict weather, some can swim without fail, some are physicially strong beyond what is normal) which is shown by her eyes being different colors. At eight, Katsa killed a man because she was afraid he would hurt her, thereby establishing her grace as killing. She becomes the unwilling hitwoman for her uncle the king. She meets another Graceling, Prince Po of Lienid who makes her see the world quite differently and gets her involved in a mystery concerning the kidnapping of his grandfather. This book is getting a lot of attention in the library world and deservedly so for it is a fabulous read: great characters, wicked villains, dire circumstances, satisfying outcomes.

So, Lush, you've done very well by this reader and I thank you for it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

best nonfiction writer (for kids) ever!

I spent part of last evening, stretched out on my daybed, reading children's nonfiction. I read about collecting baseball memorabilia, Alexander Calder (who got his start making a complete circus using wire with all parts movable) and something which has completely escaped my mind. Earlier in the day, I had finished Washington at Valley Forge by Russell Freedman. I learned so much: Valley Forge started as an absolute disaster--no lodgings, food rations in miniscule amounts, soldiers dressed in rags and less--but ended up as a huge success, with the troops building wooden cabins for shelter, a Quartermaster who actually requisitioned food and supplies for the men, the troops receiving training that turned them into an efficient and effective army. Did you know that Martha Washington (indeed, many of the wives and families) was at Valley Forge, staying in a small cabin with her husband?

Russell Freedman is an amazing author: intelligent, curious, entertaining with the ability to bring characters (and situations) to life in your mind. I first encountered him in Eleanor Roosevelt: a life of discovery where he made me fall in love with Eleanor, the shy, clumsy child who became the First Lady of the World, the eyes of Franklin Roosevelt's presidency. Then came The life and death of Crazy Horse; the Newbery Award-winning Lincoln: a photobiography; the story of a German aristocrat and a Swiss artist traveling throughout the Dakota territories with a Native American guide in An Indian Winter. More recent books include The adventures of Marco Polo and The voice that changed a nation: Marian Anderson and the struggle for equal rights.

I looked Mr. Freedman up on the Internet and first, let me say he looks exactly as he should: curly gray hair and beard, intelligent and warm in appearance. He says he writes books about subjects he is curious about and you can feel the sense of understanding and learning
he brings to his writing. I would read about any subject he cared to write about--he makes history come alive!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

endlessly fascinating

The older I get, the more I feel the need to be creative (leaving my legacy to the world?) and creating. Therefore, I am endlessly fascinated by creative people and their creations. Now that I have a beautiful sewing/craft room in my little condo, I am interested in the creative spaces that other people have.

Last week, I bought the second issue (I have the first, as well) of a fabulous magazine called Where Women Create. Wow! It is a little pricey ($14.95) but packed full of great stories and glorious advertisements for everything creative: quilting fabric, stamping supplies, artisans of every stripe and more. I can spend hours looking at the pictures, checking the websites of artists and businesses alike, getting ideas for my hibiscus pink craft room and on and on.

Check out their website at or ask me if you can look over my shoulder while I'm reading the latest issue!

(Fabric update: I found the Brown Bear, Brown Bear fabric at Treadle Yard Goods ( on Grand Avenue. I bought the panel, the striped border fabric and the animal fabric--the quickest and happiest sale Treadle had that day! The colors are beautiful and my imagination is perking away at how I can use the fabric. I also received the fabric I mail ordered: The Flintstones, The Jetsons and Lucy at the Chocolate Factory--all bright and cheerful and reeking of nostalgia. I do love fabric!)