Maira's Books

In January of 2005 I started this blog as a record of books I’ve read as I was afraid I would forget what I have read. I have often referred back to my own blog to remember a book's contents or see what I have read by an author. I have enjoyed passing my books on to friends or recommending books to read. I know I have missed recording some, but in general I try to keep up with what I have read or listened to.

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Location: Kalamazoo, MI, United States

I am a librarian at Waldo Library at Western Michigan University.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Flyte by Angie Sage (2006)

Book Two of the Septimus Heap trilogy had been lying around the house for quite some time, and before I forget what Magyk was about, thought I should read it and it again delighted me. Obviously for young adults with short chapters, but it continues this rich new magical world, where magic is often performed through charms and other magical objects, the biggest and most wonderous being the dragon boat. Jenna is now princess and Septimus the apprentice to the ExtraOrdinary Wizard Marcia. Jenna is kidnapped by her oldest brother Simon, who has joined the Darke forces. I sorta liked the way all magical verbs were bolded and in a more old-fashioned font. Septimus goes after her, and they have all sorts of adventures before getting back safe and sound. They are just kids, but you can sense the bond between them growing. The title Flyte comes from a new form of magyk that gets found in this book. I am again in awe of the many characters, creatures, and types of magyk kept track of by the author.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sidewalks: Portraits of Chicago by Rick Kogan (2006)

One of the few times I heard the author speak and was moved to purchase the book. Rick Kogan and just as important, Charles Osgood the photographer, addressed us at the LOEX conference in Chicago early in May. It was a fun, informative session on Chicago. Both men work for the Chicago Tribune and travel around Chicago and surrounding areas looking for interesting things. They don't follow famous people (there are a few musicians and artists, and one not very flattering, but realistic photo of Mayor Daly), but look for ordinary people doing extraordinary things. In our after dinner presentation, they had about a dozen of Osgood's photos blown up to poster size. They asked audience members to choose a photo from a bag, and then they talked about the place, the person, the story behind it. My favorite story was about a barber, who emigrated from Russia in 1990 and now has a shop on the sixth floor of a classy neighborhood and who shaves and cuts the hair of some well known people. There were great stories about the 20 foot cat they found in a deserted parking lot, or the two-story outhouse in southern Illinois, or the man who raised two kids by selling peanuts on a street corner, or how Osgood got a great shot from the top of the dome of the oldest library in Chicago, or about the man who single-handedly reorganized the naming and numbering system on the streets of Chicago. All great stories that became columns in the Sunday paper - along with wonderful photographs by Osgood. What we as librarians appreciated, was how they researched the story. Of course they interviewed the people involved, or asked around to try to find out something about the cat or other object, but often they had to do more research. For instance, they found that the two-story outhouse was not unique, and that five other places in the U.S. claim to have the only two-story outhouse. The book is compiled of over 100 of these stories and photos and is a wonderful mosaic of Chicago. I bought the book and had it signed, thinking I was going to give to someone as a gift, maybe to someone in Latvia, but after reading it, I want to keep it for myself, and look up some of the wonderful places they describe.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Hollow by Nora Roberts (2008)

Second in the Sign of Seven trilogy. Still not my favorite topic, but for some reason I still like the interplay of these three friends that were born on the same day, and now the three women that have been pulled into their lives to fight this evil that rears his head every seven years. This book focused on hippie lawyer Fox, who falls for New York City boutique lady Layla. Nice first undressing scene. These six people are quite different and look at the world from different viewpoints, but they really do complement each other and create a greater whole.

The Serpents Tale by Arianna Franklin (2008)

Another good historical fiction book. This takes place during the reign of Henry II in England and involves an unusual character - Adelia Aguilar - a female forensic pathologist. Her father taught her medicine and dissecting dead bodies, but I can't imagine that forensics had evolved that far in the 12th century.

Mysterious by Nora Roberts (2008)

Light reading, three of her earliest books in one. Not great.

This Magic Moment (1983)
I think I liked this one the best. It was about a magician - Pierce Atkins, and the woman who falls in love with him is Ryan Swan, who works for his agency. This was a glimpse into an interesting world of stage magic, and the enormous amount of practice it requires. I also likes some of the side characters.

Search for Love (1991)
This was one of those - Oh, Please! Serenity (starts with the name) is looking for her long lost grandmother in Britanny and finds out about her past, gets a castle and prince all in one fell swoop.

The Right Path (1985)
This was one of Roberts' romance and mystery combinations, a bit of JD Robb coming through. Morgan is visiting friends on a Greek island and falls for one of the wealthy guys there. But she keeps taking walks at inopportune times along the beach and lands in the middle of smuggling operations and can't figure out if her guy is the good guy or bad guy.