Skip to content

Review Policy

March 15, 2012

I am particularly interested in books in the following categories:

  • Extremely well-written YA  fiction (no vampire romance or dystopia, please!)
  • Diverse writers and characters  portraying a range of authentic experiences
  • Historical fiction
  • Foodie lit or foodie memoir
  • Historical mystery or forensic-based mystery

If I request a specific title, I will do my best to review it in a timely manner. I will review books outside of the above criteria at my discretion.

Thank you so much for keeping me Surrounded By Books

– Elizabeth


Hodgepodge 2/10/18

February 10, 2018

Hieronymous Bosch Butt Music. (VoxPopulli) No, really. It’s actually rather melodic.

I’m a little obsessed with the Winter Olympics right now, and Mental Floss is taking good care of me. They live-tweeted the Opening Ceremony and it was brilliant.


The Most Decorated Winter Olympians in History  (wonder how much this will change in the coming weeks?)

How is the Olympic flame lit, and how does it stay lit?

The high-tech gear the Americans will be wearing at the Olympics (via Smithsonian mag)

Some other goodies from the Internet.

24 Children’s Books to Read During Black History Month (HuffPo)

10 Books That Were Written on a Bet (Electric Literature) 

Books Read in January 2018

February 2, 2018

January started out somewhat mellow, and then gathered speed. I have a feeling that the next couple of months are going to be a similar stampede of library and life busyness. Hoping that at least committing to a monthly blog post tallying up my reading will help remind me that I’m taking time for myself and my TBR pile.

Paper and E-Books

  1. Hogfather by Terry Pratchett. (Library book). Been meaning to read this for ages, and glad I read it at least somewhat close to Christmas.
  2. The Obelisk Gate, by N.K. Jemisin. (Library book) Wow. This series… just… wow. The worldbuilding and language really got into my head.
  3. The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin. (Library book). Yeah. Wow.
  4. Whiskey Words & a Shovel III by R.H. Sin. (Own book) A poetry collection I picked up a while ago. I really liked several poems and will come back to this.
  5. The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater. (Library book). Narrative journalism that told an important story, about a crime and its consequences for two teenagers and their families. I didn’t love the disjointed, mediated way the story was structured. I read it for a discussion group with my fellow YA-ers.
  6. Stunt Cat to the Stars by Constance Lombardo. (Own book) A funny little middle-grade novel I’ve had on my shelf since several Book Expos ago. Can see the Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans loving this.
  7. And the Rest is History by Jodi Taylor. (Library book.) The latest in the Chronicles of St. Mary’s ripped my heart out. Ripped my heart right out. Ugh. I was too shocked to weep.
  8. The Big Meow by Diane Duane. (Own book.) I’m so glad this latest in Diane Duane’s cat wizard series is finally out. I zoomed through it delightedly.
  9. Dead Man’s Chest by Kerry Greenwood. (Own book.) Phryne Fisher is a good comfort read. I’d had a tough week.

Graphic Novels

Superman: American Alien by Max Landis. (Library Book) Superman as a young 20something. I like that he has friends and family ties, still from growing up in Smallvile in this version.


I re-listened to Snuff, by Terry Pratchett, as read by Stephen Briggs, as my bedtime book for a few nights. Got it from the library.

The resolution reckoning…

11 books, 4 of which I own. And even the library books I chose had been on my Goodreads TBR, of meaning-to-read for a while. So I feel that things are getting off to a good start.

I’ve also been scrolling through the earlier reaches of my Goodreads Want-to-Read shelf, as well as my stacks of physical books, and getting rid of books I’m unlikely to read in the next year or so, or those I could get from the library if I feel the whim. I have a stack to donate to Housingworks that’s almost as tall as I am. I just keep having free time on days with soggy weather, which has kept me from actually getting said books out of the house.


Hodgepodge 1/10/18

January 10, 2018

A yoga sequence to do while reading? Thank you, BookRiot!

If Jane Austen had written The Empire Strikes Back…. I’m not sure what to do about this. Found via Ted Gioa’s Twitter feed.

It’s been a year since David Bowie’s passing. In addition to taking a moment to celebrate his oddities and mourn the music he is not here to make, taking a moment to honor him as a voracious reader. His son has started a book club in his honor.

Matt de la Pena asks great questions about the responsibility of children’s authors, and how they address dark or difficult topics. Should be required reading for librarians, too. (TIME)

Fascinating things discovered during the expansion of London’s underground (MentalFloss)

This list of Book Towns is how I’m going to plan vacations forever.

Wintry Hodgepodge 1/6/17

January 6, 2018

“Any time it gets that cold, iguanas become lifeless. But that doesn’t always prove fatal.” (NPR)


“You may have noticed that the books you really love are bound together by a secret thread. You know very well what is the common quality that makes you love them, though you cannot put it into words: but most of your friends do not see it at all, and often wonder why, liking this, you should also like that. Again, you have stood before some landscape, which seems to embody what you have been looking for all your life; and then turned to the friend at your side who appears to be seeing what you saw — but at the first words a gulf yawns between you, and you realise that this landscape means something totally different to him, that he is pursuing an alien vision and cares nothing for the ineffable suggestion by which you are transported.

I’ve only barely begun to read C.S. Lewis but I found this while browsing Tumblr and it makes me think I need to read The Problem of Pain, and his essays generally.

Reading YA in Corporate America (BookRiot) Come ON! What part of ” every book its reader” are we not understanding?

I’ve never thought much about how blackboards transformed American education, but this makes a lot of sense (JSTOR Daily)

Thanks to Lisa for reminding me that it is almost time to get obsessed with the Winter Olympics. I do love the speed skating… and the crazy feats of skiing.

And sometimes, I really love the figure skating.

2018 Reading Resolutions

January 1, 2018

Nothing says “plan grandiose reading resolutions” like January 1st. Read classics! Don’t buy any books! Read the books that have been languishing on the shelf! Read more diverse authors! Read more poetry!

Over the years I’ve done all sorts of ambitious variations, with admittedly patchy success. I did manage to churn through the complete Sherlock Holmes stories, so there’s that.

I set the bar pretty high for 2017’s total reads. But shooting for 200 did a number on me, as it were. I got to 196, with a good handful of shorter graphic novels and middle grade fiction. In November and December, I felt twitchy about making the numbers, and chose shorter books to read.

This year, I’m going to set the goal at 150, to encourage myself not to choose books as an excuse to churn through them faster. I might exceed that number, who knows?

And I’m modifying my No Buying Books resolution. Because yes, I have a definite need to read the books I’ve accumulated over the years, and I know that my library can keep me well stocked with new titles that catch my eye.

All of that said, I’m not going to penalize my favorite bookstore, Burton’s Bookstore, with my self-restraint. And, I like that buying books from Housing Works Bookstore helps a good cause. So this year, I’m modifying the resolution.

Image result for Burton's bookstore greenport

Image result for Burton's bookstore greenport

If and when it’s time to buy a book, I’m ordering it from Scott at Burton’s, or picking it up at Housing Works. For me, or for gifts.

As for reading challenges, I think I’m only going to do two:

The Mount TBR Challenge is a way to read books I already own and have been meaning to read for ages.

Challenge Levels:

Pike’s Peak: Read 12 books from your TBR pile/s
Mount Blanc: Read 24 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Vancouver: Read 36 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Ararat: Read 48 books from your TBR piles/s
Mt. Kilimanjaro: Read 60 books from your TBR pile/s
El Toro: Read 75 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Everest: Read 100 books from your TBR pile/s
Mount Olympus (Mars): Read 150+ books from your TBR pile/s

And the rules:
*Once you choose your challenge level, you are locked in for at least that many books. If you find that you’re on a mountain-climbing roll and want to tackle a taller mountain, then you are certainly welcome to upgrade.  All books counted for lower mountains carry over towards the new peak.

I’m going to sign up for the first level, Pike’s Peak, with the hope that I can read a few more than that.

I’m also signing up for the Hub Challenge when YALSA posts it next month, reading from a selection of award-winning YA and middle-grade titles. Because I feel like that gave me a good grounding in what’s out there in YA, and pointed me towards some titles that I might not have found on my own.

Seems like a good place to start.

Happy New Year, and Happy Reading!


Books Read in December

December 31, 2017

Book totals for the final month of 2017, and for the year.

E-Books/Paper Books

  1. The Long and Short of It by Jodi Taylor. St. Mary’s short stories, some of which I’d read elsewhere, but didn’t count until I read this in book form. Never sure what to do with short stories in my book tallies, really.
  2. Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy by Elizabeth Kiem. YA set in Russia and NY in the 80’s. Sets up a series I’m not sure I’ll keep reading, though.
  3. One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia. Excellent historical fiction for middle grade readers, with a very much 11 year old protagonist, in the summer of 1968 in San Francisco.
  4. Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan. Really well done middle-grade fiction I will happily hand to tweens.
  5. Landscape with Invisible Hand by M.T. Anderson. I read this for a book discussion with my fellow YAbrarians, and it’s about the dystopian aftermath of alien first contact… it felt remote, like a thought experiment, and also too real in its dystopian discomforts. Did not like this.
  6. Interim Errantry: On Ordeal by Diane Duane. Novellas about some of the other characters from the Young Wizards’ universe. I really liked Ronan’s. And Mamvish’s was impressively strange.
  7. Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View. An anthology of all kinds of authors writing in various parts of the Star Wars universe. Really interesting, and I liked a lot of the stories by familiar favorite authors (I read it for Daniel Jose Older, not going to lie), and authors that were new to me.
  8. Miles Morales by Jason Reynolds. So good. I need more Miles Morales in my life. Novels or comics, not picky.
  9. The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig. Reread, because Christmas.
  10. A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh. Meh. English country manor mystery with histrionic characters. Not much fun, kind of irked it was my last book of 2017.


Graphic Novels

  1. Space Battle Lunchtime Vol. 2: A Recipe for Disaster by Natalie Riess
  2. Gotham Academy Vol. 1: Welcome to Gotham Academy by Becky Cloonan
  3. Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. 1 by James Tynion. Actually not as ridiculous as it could have been.
  4. Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Who Run the World? Squirrels. by Ryan North. Aw, yeah!
  5. Batgirl, Vol 2: Family Business by Cameron Stewart. I like this iteration of Batgirl. Not hideously dark.
  6. Deadpool: The Complete Collection by Daniel Way. I wanted to like this more than I did.
  7. Gotham Academy Vol 2. Calamity by Becky Cloonan. I’m still not sure this series won’t collapse under the weight of its own mythology and the larger Batman universe, but for now, it’s doing well.
  8. Lumberjanes Vol. 7: Birds’ Eye View by Shannon Watters. Love this series.
  9. Batgirl Vol 1: Darkest Reflection by Gail Simone. Darker than Cameron Stewart’s take, but interesting to see how they incorporate some of the source material and take it to different directions.
  10. Superman: Earth 1, Volume 2 by J. Michael Stracyzinski. I don’t think I’ve read Vol 1, but this was a solid introduction, and a pretty good mix of dark and hopeful, which is about what I’d expect from JMS.



  1. The Folklore of Discworld by Terry Pratchett. What you read when you’re starved for more Discworld audiobooks. On the plus side, it includes audio of an interview with Sir Terry, himself. Which was lovely.
  2. Cinnamon by Neil Gaiman, as read by the author. About 15 minutes long, but a good fairy tale.

Twenty things read? Hooray for me! Not too shabby at all!

And that’s it for 2017!!!  195 according to Goodreads, and I’m sure heaps more than that if you count the picture books I’ve been reading for storytime.

EveryLibrary - Any Library Initiative Anywhere for Every Library EverywhereIn honor of all this, I’ve made my donation to EveryLibrary, because they do good, important work to help libraries. I rounded up to $200.

A year of firsts. My first, working as a public librarian, with actual teenagers. My first time reading manga. My introduction to a lot of comic series, even as I follow up with old favorites.

Can I pick a favorite book of the year? I’m not sure I can. There were several great ones. A few I didn’t love, but mostly a great reading year.

Lessons learned: I’m not going to shoot for 200 again next year, because starting in December I got kind of competitive, and chose shorter books and graphic novels to make the numbers work.

Hodgepodge 12/13/17

December 13, 2017

An entire semester’s review of biology… seamlessly folded into “My Shot” from Hamilton. This teacher is a genius.

From the Talented People I Know division: My friend Emily, writes about Shakespeare on the Page, a Better Way   (WomenWriteAboutComics) She makes several very good points, but especially:

Wouldn’t you prefer to read a graphic novel version of a play in which a comics artist treated the playscript like a comics script, turning it into a fully-fledged comic, rather than one where the artist treated the script like a “classic book” to be “adapted” for “reluctant readers?”

YES! This! Say it again for the people in the back!!!

So many, my god, SO MANY books and adaptations, and even articles or lesson ideas, could benefit from rethinking and coming more from this perspective. Get away from the “adapt for reluctant readers” mindset, and barrel straight into telling the best, most interesting story, play with the strengths of the medium you’re transforming into.

I know I’m late to this particular party, but I dearly loved the plums meme that made the rounds on Twitter.

There were also song parodies.

Putting this Twitter thread here for both a reading list and collection development purposes.

Two lists of forthcoming YA books from Teen Librarian Toolbox have me wondering if I should just give up on sleep. Here and Here.