Archive for November, 2007
Synopsis: Zoey Dean, author of the popular teen series The A-List makes her first foray into adult fiction with How to Teach Filthy Rich Girls. In this book, twenty-three year old Megan Smith is a Yale grad with impressive academic credentials who dreams of making it big in the New York journalism world. Unfortunately, she can’t get her foot in the door and lands a lousy job writing photo captions at a celebrity tabloid where she manages to get fired. She is unexpectedly offered a lucrative position tutoring Sage and Rose, the 17 year old Baker twins, who are gorgeous celebutantes and heiresses to a cosmetic fortune. Megan is offered a generous salary plus a $75,000 bonus if the twins achieve SAT scores good enough to be accepted at Duke. The catch? The twins are obnoxious, catty, pampered and have no interest in studying with unstylish and unattractive Megan. Megan almost turns the offer down, but her journalistic instincts kick in as she realizes she could get an insider’s view of the underbelly of Palm Beach high society and use that information to land a job as a writer. With help from Marco, the twin’s chef, Megan’s looks and wardrobe are transformed so that twins accept her as an equal and allow her into their lives. There is a romantic sub-plot, and some insights into relationships between sisters but the main focus is on the eye-popping excesses of the fabulously wealthy, Megan’s Cinderella-type transformation into a faux-society girl and her friendship with the twins.
My thoughts: This book is pure chick-lit: a smart, sassy heroine in a lighter-than-air plot that makes for a fun, quick read. What I really liked about it is the dazzling glimpse of high society, designer clothes and a fairytale lifestyle that I’ll never have.
I really liked this book and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough while I was reading it, but I do have some issues with it that started bugging me shortly after I finished. Issue #1: I stopped believing fairy tales a long time ago and I guess I’m kind of irked that Megan had to have a total Cinderella makeover before she started believing in herself. C’mon! She’s a Magna Cum Laude Yale grad! She should be smarter than that! Issue #2: [A bit of a spoiler ahead] Megan spent only 8 weeks with the twins and yet she manages to fix all of the psychological trauma associated with the death of their parents at an early age and being raised by their cold and distant grandmother while still managing to tutor them enough to pass their SATs. This one is really pushing the envelope of belief - she’s not psychologist, nor a teacher. Granted, she was a good student herself, but nothing leading up to this except for a slightly competitive relationship with her own sister leads us to believe she would have the wisdom or skill to pull this off.
Bottom line, if you can suspend your disbelief a little bit and you love stories about high society, you’ll love How to Teach Filthy Rich Girls, but if fairy tales and living happily ever after aren’t your thing you might want to pass.
Genre: Chick-Lit, but with a romance novel sub-plot.
Read-Alikes: This book has the ‘ordinary girl peering into the lives of the rich and famous aspect’ like The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus or The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger. For a more mature woman in a similar situation (and also a very funny book), try The Ivy Chronicles by Karen Quinn. Other ‘high society’ novels are Posh by Lucy Jackson or The Truth About Diamonds by Nicole Ritchie.
November 27th, 2007
We’ve had a lot of dancing at the library lately. First was a performance by the Different Drummer Belly Dancers of Bloomington. What a hoot! They made me want to sign up for Belly Dance lessons on the spot.
Next, Judge Jane Craney-Weaver demonstrated her ballroom skills with Arthur Murray instructor Tony. Once again, I was tempted to take lessons.
There’s one more chance to dance this month when we host Dance Dance Revolution for adults only on November 28th. The teens have been doing it for months now, and I know there are some adults out there who are just dying to give it a try. If you don’t even know what it is, DDR is an interactive video game. You play it by standing on a mat that has a tic-tac-toe like grid with colored arrows. The music plays, and you step on the correct colored arrow in time to the music. Easy, right? I’ve done it a few times (had to test it out to make sure it was ready for the teens, you know) and you can definitely work up a sweat. Come on out and give it a try - if it’s popular we may do it on a regular basis.
November 23rd, 2007
Synopsis: A Good and Happy Child by Justin Evans is the story of a man, George Davies, who finds himself unable to touch or hold his newborn son. To save his marriage and family, he begins seeing a psychologist who uncovers the terrifying events of his childhood. Shortly after his father died, young George begins seeing someone that no one else sees - a ragged, dirty child that he calls My Friend. George’s Friend tells him secrets that he couldn’t possibly know and urges him to do things he shouldn’t. Is the Friend a symptom of psychosis as his psychiatrist suggests, or is he something sinister and demonic as his deceased father’s friends seem to think? Only by revealing the mysteries of his childhood will George begin to heal as an adult.
My thoughts: I never think of Horror as a genre that I enjoy, but when I look through lists of Horror novels I find myself thinking “I read that one, and that one and Oh! that one was good…” So maybe I’m a closet Horror fan after all. This isn’t a guts ‘n gore Horror novel, it’s more of an unnerving, disquieting piece. The pacing of A Good and Happy Child is fast and thrilling, and subtle terror and anxiety builds throughout the book. Even though it is set in modern times, it has a very Gothic feel to it and leaves you guessing as to whether George is truly possessed or whether it’s all in his head. The characters are rich and believable and I look forward to more work by Justin Evans.
Subgenre: Psychological Horror or Demonic Possession
Read Alikes: Fans of The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty will enjoy the possession and exorcism aspects. Angelica by Arthur Phillips and The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield both have the same Gothic is-she-mad or is-she-possessed feel. Orson Scott Card’s The Lost Boys have a similar slow build of tension and childhood problems.
November 20th, 2007
PC Cop installation Update
As with all things computer, the installation of the new PC management software is not going exactly according to schedule. The main problem is getting the printer to work, but I hope we’ll get through that soon. Of course, if you’re reading this blog right now, you probably have your own computer and you don’t rely on ours and the new software is not an issue.
Keeping track of what you’ve read
Do you have trouble remembering what you have already read? Would you like to inventory your book collection? Would you like to keep a list of things you would like to read? If you answered yes to any of these questions, there are some nifty online tools available to you. I have found four of them, and there may be more out there.
First is LibraryThing (www.librarything.com), which is what I use. It allows you to catalog 200 books for free, then there is a small charge after that. It is simple to use - you enter the book’s title, author or ISBN number and it inputs most of the information for you. After that you can personalize the entry with ratings, comments, reviews, dates read and descriptive tags. From a librarian’s standpoint, the thing I love most about LibraryThing are the descriptive tags and the Library Suggester, both of which are great tools for when I’m looking for something good to read and don’t have anything specific in mind. You can get book recommendations based on a specific book, your entire library, or one tag of a book - for example books about Afghanistan.
I’m slightly hesitant to do this, but here’s a link to my library which is a list of everything I’ve read in the past year or so. Please don’t gasp in horror when you see what I’ve been reading - I’m an omnivore when it comes to books.
Other book cataloging tools are:
Shelfari (www.shelfari.com) - Completely free, more graphics and less words. Very easy to navigate More socially oriented with the ability to have ‘friends’ much like a FaceBook for book lovers. (They are affiliated with FaceBook.)
Reader2(reader2.com) - Also completely free & socially oriented but a bit hard to navigate.
GuruLib (www.gurulib.com) - Also completely free & easy to navigate. Not much for sharing, but good organization tools that allow you to create wishlists and separate “shelves” to help organize your books..
November 8th, 2007
OK, now that Billy has made a few enhancements, it’s time to get this blog rolling!
Today we are installing new software to help manage the public computers and I’m excited about it because I hope it will make things easier for both patrons and staff.
It used to be that you had to come to the desk in order to check out a computer, wait in line, hand over your library card or ID and then you were handed a cardboard placard indicating which computer you are assigned to. If we had a waiting list, you signed your name on a piece of paper, the staff would monitor when someone’s time was up and inform the patron they had to get off the computer. (Believe me when I tell you that kicking people off the computer was not something that anyone enjoyed.) Once the person vacated, the staff would hunt through the library looking for the person who had signed the waiting list.
With PC Cop, you can walk up to an unused computer, enter your library card number and PIN and begin using it. You’ll initially have a one-hour session, but if there are enough empty computers, you can extend your session. If all of the computers are in use, you’ll enter your library card number in the self-service kiosk. The first available computer will be assigned to you and only you can log on to it. You will have five minutes to claim your computer - if you don’t, it will be reassigned to the next person in line.
It looks like we will have this new system up and running by mid-day on Thursday, so stop in and let us know what you think of it!
November 7th, 2007