Fairy Tales

>> Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I have long loved fairy tales. Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, The Princess and The Pea and on and on. They are stories that honor kindness, truth, perseverance and loyalty as well as true love. And though I know the Disney versions usually offer a more happily after version than the original tale, I can't help but agree that we all need a happily ever version even if it's not always realistic.

So, with my love of fairy tales, I was quite excited to be introduced to Robin McKinley's books. The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword are everything I want to find in a good fantasy. And her retellings of fairy tales and folklore like Spindle's End, The Outlaws of Sherwood, and Beauty gave me a new perspective on well loved stories.

I just finished Chalice and as I turned the last page, I had that wonderful warm fuzzy feeling that only a good fairy tale can produce. Once again, Robin McKinley was able to extract me from a busy world of cell phones, computers, customers and daily chores and put me into a world of magic, mystery and romance. Happy sigh.


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

>> Monday, February 23, 2009

- Anna

Wow, what a title. This was one of the books that I had seriously considered for February's book club. But it didn't win the library request race. And as much as I enjoyed Stormbreaker, I kind of wish that Guernsey had won.
I was skeptical when I discovered that the entire book is written as letters, and I almost decided not to read it. But I forced myself, and I wasn't two lines in before I was thoroughly enjoying myself.
First of all, I love books that can also teach me things. I had no idea that the British Channel Islands were occupied during WWII. And secondly, subtle British humor/wit will always win me over.
It was a book that left me smiling.


Stormbreaker (February) - Review


Stormbreaker is one of those Young Adult books that are truly geared for young readers. It doesn't really transfer over into the adult world; I guess I can't suspend my disbelief as far as I could when I was a kid. Nevertheless, it was a fun read. And I'm not going to say I wouldn't read another in the series. In fact, I've already read another Horowitz novel, Raven's Gate, which is more sci fi fantasy and right up my alley.
Overall, I liked this book.


Keepin' it real.

>> Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Here in the Sage Room, we keep it SO not real. I'm sorry, but it's true. We like our novels, fantasies and imaginative stories and have, to this point, chosen nothing but fiction for our book club picks.

One time we polled a few of our friends and found out very quickly why the three of us have gravitated toward starting a book club together. Many of our other friends prefer NON-fiction books over fiction ones.

We were astounded. Couldn't believe what we were hearing.

Then the war began and both sides took up their arms to defend what they like best. I think we won or maybe we were just evenly split. Whatever the outcome was, I have to say that while fiction is my preferred escape, I do enjoy a good "real" book every now and then. BUT it has to be about politics or history and preferably about the founding of our country. I guess you could say that's how I like to keep it real.

What's your poison? Fiction or non?


4 days left

>> Sunday, February 15, 2009

Book club is Tuesday night. For Erin and Anna, this simply means a night to anticipate and look forward to. But me, I'm feeling the pressure...because it's my turn to pick! As anyone in a book club knows, picking a book for the whole group to read can be quite daunting. At your whim, your fellow readers will spend the next month either lost in a wonderful new adventure or wading glumly through wasted time. It's up to you to give your best shot at finding the best book EVER WRITTEN. Talk about pressure!

Right now, I'm considering Firefly Lane by Kristen Hannah. I'm in the mood for a book about true, forever friendship and this one comes highly recommended by my dear friend, Cat. Or maybe the first Shopaholic book or Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella (recommended by Whitney!) But I'd really like to go the classic route, though we've read most of the obvious ones (we have a rule---you can't choose a book that anyone has read before). Some possibilities include A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Wind in the Willows, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, David Copperfield, Lolita, or Catch-22. And we should probably read The Color Purple at some point. Then there's Honeymoon With My Brother, which looks interesting... Erin, Anna, anyone, any opinions?


The Book I've Never Forgotten, But Can't Remember

>> Thursday, February 12, 2009


When I was about 9 or 10, I overheard a phone conversation of my mom's. She was telling a friend that I had taken up reading because everyone else in the family read. And while this is probably true (as I mentioned previously, my sister read constantly), I recall thinking that my new interest in reading had more to do with this hilariously funny book I'd read than anything else. The problem now is that I can't remember the name or author of the book. All I can remember is that it was about siblings who lived in either a hotel or a boarding house and all the wild schemes and scrapes they got into. To this day, I attribute much of my love of reading to this book. I remember laughing aloud and thinking, "I had no idea a book could be this funny!" The clever words, the imagery, the characters - it captured me. And I've been a prisoner ever since.

So, fellow readers, what was the first book that made you fall in love with reading?


The Friday Night Knitting Club - E's Review

>> Monday, February 9, 2009


I don’t know one single thing about knitting. I can’t even sew on a button. But it fascinates me that pieces of yarn are woven together to create beautiful masterpieces. It fascinates me that my Great-Great Aunt Nettie crocheted me a blanket before I was even born and I still sleep with it today. I mean I still have it today. Did I just admit to sleeping with a blanket at the age of 29?

This book however did not fascinate me. It left me wishing I had connected with at least ONE of the characters. It left me not understanding why the author even wrote the book. Don’t get me wrong, I, like Anna and Lisa, flew through this book. I liked the writing style, just not the content as much. And as I was flying along I kept hoping for something that would tie it all together, a place in the book where we could cut off the loose ends and sit back and marvel at how beautifully everything came together. I never got to that point. It was an easy, fun read but I didn’t love it. And I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t recommend it.

I think I have a problem. I like to become the character(s) I’m reading about. I like to wander alongside the Lake of Shining Waters, find myself in the heart of the French Revolution or jump onto platform 9 ¾ to enter a world of magic and unknown. The Friday Night Knitting Club was an escape, sure, dodging reality for long enough to not do the laundry or wash the dishes, but it wasn’t a transformation. It didn’t take me from this world into another one and it didn’t leave me wanting. The best ones leave you wanting, yearning for more. The best ones you still hang on to even when you’re almost 30 years old…


A Reason to Read

>> Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I read to escape. Some people read to be informed. Some read to be relevant in society. Some read to better themselves. Not me. No, I just want a place to let my imagination fly.

Below are some of the books that held my imagination and let me escape into their world in 2008.

Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage
I actually found this series in a section of the library purposed to help readers who felt lost after the last Harry Potter book. Apparently I was not alone in my mourning. This series is more geared for children than young adult. But I thoroughly enjoyed it, and yes, it did help.

Beauty by Robin McKinley*
I didn't think that I would like fairy tales retold. Robin McKinley convinced me otherwise. She makes the magic of a well known tale come alive in an altogether new way. She's also written other original stories, one of my favorites, The Blue Sword. She will be an author I go back to over and over. In fact, I just saw on her website a new book I didn't know about. Hellooo, that will be going on my list.

Foundling: Monster Blood Tattoo Book One by D.M. Cornish*
Any book that has its own explicarium (being a glossary of terms) is going to be all right with me. I admit that I'm still trying to decide how much I like this series, but I just checked out the website, and yeah, I definitely need to get Book Two: Lamplighter.

The Books of Pellinor by Alison Croggon
This is a very satisfying read for someone looking for good fantasy. I am somewhat impatiently waiting for Book IV, The Singing.

Host by Stephenie Meyer
I repeat. Stephenie Meyer got me to read a book about alien body snatchers...and like it.

Starcatchers Series by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson*
A favorite children's story retold with its own twists. Still need to read the third book, Secret of Rundoon!

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde*
Umm, who wouldn't love a character named Thursday Next? Need I say more? (Just in case I do need to say more...Jane Eyre gets kidnapped and Thursday Next has to save the day for both Jane and literature lovers worldwide.)

Right Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse*
If you google "laugh out loud books," P.G. Wodehouse makes the top of the list. I totally agree. If you like good, clean fun and side-splitting laughs, Jeeves and Bertram are for you.

Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix*
Why did it have to end? I would like more please! More chilling stories of the undead and the bells that bind them. More stories of the Disreputable Dog. More Sabriel and Lirael.

After writing all this out I realized two things:
1) my sister puts me onto a lot of authors (see the asterisks)
2) I have some books to read!


The Friday Night Knitting Club (January)--Lisa's Review

>> Monday, February 2, 2009


I loved The Babysitters Club books as a tween, I really, really did. But I wouldn't want to read them now. No offense to Ann M. Martin, but I'm looking for a higher level of writing as an adult reader. With all the hype, I thought The Friday Night Knitting Club would be a winner. Unfortunately, it left me feeling like I'd just waded through a 400-page Babysitters Club book for adults. It was a quick, easy read and it did hold my attention, but mostly because I kept waiting for something to happen that would convince me that I had not wasted my time. It had all the components of a great girly book---a group of women, each with their own story, a place where they met to talk, a hobby they all shared... There was just something missing. She didn't make me love her characters or even believe that they were real people (except Anita--I DID like Anita). The dialogues seemed stilted, unrealistic. Several events seemed contrived and fake (like the sudden trip to Scotland to visit the stereotypical grandma). And then the ending...for what reason? (I don't want to spoil it for those who may still pick up the book). Overall, it was an alright read if you're looking for something light and "fun." I guess I just expected more from a book on so many bestseller and book club lists.

I will say this for the book, though. I now REALLY want to learn to knit. As soon as I'm done with my current project (putting pictures from the past three years into albums on Shutterfly), I might try it! Or maybe I'll start a quilting bee....


Per Erin's Request


It was summer 2007, and I was in deep Harry Potter withdrawal and depression. Nothing could satisfy my craving. I wanted more. But no, book seven was the last. The Deathly Hallows had ended the saga of Harry, Hermione and Ron.

My husband, sympathy itself, handed me an article from the Wall Street Journal featuring a new series about vampires. A series many other Potter fans were turning to for solace. But I barely glanced at it. How was a book about vampires going to ease my loss? I was not into Buffy or Dracula. No, it wasn't for me.

Then I saw the Twilight movie trailer. Then I realized it was a book. Then Erin picked it for book club. Then I was caught up. Okay, I could get on board with good vampires. I could get on board with Edward and Bella and Jacob. I suspended my disbelief. I let go and dove into the series.

And then Breaking Dawn - book 4 - arrived. The book that I ordered online ahead of time, that didn't arrive on release date, that I anxiously ran over to Wal-Mart and bought because I just couldn't wait for the mail. The book that was supposed to answer all the burning questions. Edward or Jacob? Vampire or Human? How was this all going to end?

Badly. That's all I can say. It ended badly. I was taken from a world I could believe in, into a world that I needed a big box of crackers to help with all the cheese! I kept repeating to myself, 'Are you kidding me?' Who were these people in Breaking Dawn? Impostors - puppets on a string! I know not everyone will agree with me. Some are perfectly happy with Breaking Dawn. But I will always wish it were different. I will always wish that Stephenie Meyer will write another book 4, one where her characters are allowed to live, not ones she manipulates for a happy ending.

Sidenote - I am anxious to see if Meyer will finish Midnight Sun. It has the potential to redeem the series for me.

And Twilight the movie? Pure disappointment. It could have been so good. Was it the acting? Was it the adaptation, the directing? All I know is that it did not capture the magic of the book. It had good moments, but most of the time I was just cringing (or shushing Erin's under-the-breath heckles and incredulous laughs). Would I have liked it better if I was 13, maybe. Needless to say I'm not excited about the next movie, but I will probably go see it all the same.

So, Host. That's an interesting book. Do I like it? Yes. Is it somewhat strange? Yes. Did I ever think I would read a book about body snatching aliens. No. Did Stephenie Meyer's writing draw me in. Oh yeah!

If you dont' know anything about the Twilight series or Host check out Stephenie Meyer's website.


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