Friday, July 13, 2018

Gone Hiking

The Ninja Librarian is taking a couple of weeks off to go hiking.

To entertain you while I'm gone, I'll share a few photos on random days :)

Spider Meadow
Glacier Peak Wilderness
©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2018
As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Middle Grade Review: Quicksand Pond

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Title: Quicksand Pond
Author: Janet Taylor Lisle
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017. 240 pages (Hardback)
Source: Library

Publisher's Blurb:
Newbery Honor winner Janet Taylor Lisle’s gorgeous and profound new novel about a pivotal summer in two girls’ lives explores the convictions we form, the judgments we make, and the values we hold.

The pond is called Quicksand Pond.

It’s a shadowy, hidden place, full of chirping, shrieking, croaking life. It’s where, legend has it, people disappear. It’s where scrappy Terri Carr lives with her no-good family. And it’s where twelve-year-old Jessie Kettel is reluctantly spending her summer vacation.

Jessie meets Terri right away, on a raft out in the water, and the two become fast friends. On Quicksand Pond, Jessie and Terri can be lost to the outside world—lost until they want to be found. But a tragedy that occurred many decades ago has had lingering effects on this sleepy, small-minded town, and especially on Terri Carr. And the more Jessie learns, the more she begins to question her new friendship—and herself.

My Review: 
I picked this one up to fill the "Q" slot in my middle-grade alphabet reading challenge. I didn't realize until now that it won a Newbery Honor, though I'm not totally surprised. Or maybe I am, because I ended up with mixed feelings about the book. On reflection, those mixed feelings may be in large part why it's a prize winner.

The story is strong, and at the start it feels like it's going to be kind of a sweet story about a growing-up summer. You know the sort. Peaceful, with everything sorted out in the end. But things get more and more unsettling, and disturbing, and Jessie doesn't always know what is the right thing to do (nor does she always do what I would wish she would). Because of that, I was in some ways unsatisfied, and definitely not at peace. The ending leaves some things unresolved or not made clear, which always bugs me a little (I must have an awfully conventional streak in me, because I want to know just how it all works out, and not be left trying to interpret clues).

In the end, the importance of the book doesn't lie so much with how satisfying the story feels, but with the insights it shares about judgement and the assumptions we all make about others. As with a number of new books I've read recently, it's clear that Jessie's parents don't always act in the best ways, though they are clearly loving parents who want to take care of their children. But are they always good people? Jessie is clearly reaching an age where she'll have to ask that question more and more.

My Recommendation:
This is worth a read. It certainly brings up the question of gossip and how what we all think we know may be wrong. It's a little disturbing, and not the peaceful read I was expecting, but the author is addressing some important issues about rushing to judgement. We can all use a reminded of the dangers of that.

FTC Disclosure: I checked Quicksand Pond out of my library, and received nothing from the writer or publisher for my honest review. The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."  

Monday, July 9, 2018

Cozy Review: Shelved Under Murder


 

Shelved Under Murder: A Blue Ridge Library Mystery
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Crooked Lane Books (July 10, 2018)
Hardcover: 300 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1683315957
Digital: ASIN: B075QJHPR9
 

Blurb:
Autumn leaves aren’t the only things falling in the historic Virginia village of Taylorsford—so are some cherished memories, and a few bodies.

October in Taylorsford, Virginia means it’s leaf peeping season, with bright colorful foliage and a delightful fresh crew of tourists attending the annual Heritage Festival which celebrates local history and arts and crafts. Library director Amy Webber, though, is slightly dreading having to spend two days running a yard sale fundraiser for her library. But during these preparations, when she and her assistant Sunny stumble across a dead body, Amy finds a real reason to be worried.

The body belonged to a renowned artist who was murdered with her own pallet knife. A search of the artist’s studio uncovers a cache of forged paintings, and when the sheriff’s chief deputy Brad Tucker realizes Amy is skilled in art history research, she’s recruited to aid the investigation. It doesn’t seem to be an easy task, but when the state’s art expert uncovers a possible connection between Amy’s deceased uncle and the murder case, Amy must champion her Aunt Lydia to clear her late husband’s name.

That’s when another killing shakes the quiet town, and danger sweeps in like an autumn wind. Now, with her swoon-inducing neighbor Richard Muir, Amy must scour their resources to once again close the books on murder.

Review:
Although I received a review copy in a timely fashion from the publisher via NetGalley, I am unable to post a review, as I got busy (moving and all that), and didn't finish the book before it expired. Since I was more than 1/3 of the way in and enjoying the story, I will probably pick up a copy and finish once it is available. My rating will hinge in part on whether my very early conviction about who dunnit is correct, but I can vouch that the writing is strong, the characters interesting and reasonably well-developed, and the setting interesting (okay, maybe I'm a little biased to libraries).

The Ninja Librarian missed the boat this week, but author Victoria Gilbert didn't, and has stopped by with a great guest post--thank you so much!

Dream Casting – Why I Don’t

There’s a very popular activity in booklandia where authors “dream cast” their books. This means they find actors—I use “actor” to refer to both male and female performers, by the way—that they feel would be the perfect person to portray their characters on screen.  This information is often posted on their blog, or in a guest blog post, or on Twitter and other social media sites.

I’ve done this in the past, and I certainly don’t begrudge anyone from having fun with this activity. But I no longer participate, and I’ll tell you why.

I have two reasons. One: the best person for a role may not be the actor you assume, based mainly upon appearance, to be the perfect fit. Two: if your book does get turned into a movie or TV property, your comments about the actors you particularly “want” in the role might come back to bite you.

Expanding upon reason one—I’m a former theatre major who did some work in costume design and technology after college. When I was involved in this career I sometimes sat in on casting calls for plays. It was an enlightening experience to be on the other side of the table during auditions. One thing I learned was that often my preconceived “image” of a character would be blown away by a particular actor.

Based on the text or the director’s expectations or other factors, I’d often form a strong idea about how a particular character in the play should look. But then an actor who didn’t resemble that preconceived vision would audition—and totally change my mind. Sure, the text said something about red hair or light eyes, and this actor had dark hair and eyes. But that didn’t matter when they could bring the character to life in a way that no one else could.

So I know that simply adhering to textual descriptions of characters isn’t always the best way to “create” a character for the screen. Which is reason one why I don’t “dream cast.” (I do use actor photos to portray my characters on Pinterest, etc., but that is just for a visual representation of how I have described the characters in my books. I’m not saying that those actors would be the best people to actually portray the characters on screen).

Which bring me to reason number two—not making a big fuss over certain actors being “perfect” for a role because…someone else might end up with that role. If your book is adapted for the big or small screen, directors, producers, and casting directors will be in charge of who gets the parts, not you. (Unless you are mega-famous, and even then the author doesn’t always get the final say).

So, let’s say you’ve been very vocal about wanting Actor A to play your protagonist. You’ve posted about this a lot, so everyone knows—or can go back to your posts and tweets and so on—to view your strong opinions. Then your book gets picked up by a film or television studio. Only, they decide to cast Actor B. Maybe your book fans get upset over this casting and there’s a lot of social media fuss that casts a shadow over the production. Do you really want this? I don’t, which is why I don’t “dream cast” anymore. I want to allow the film or television experts to do their jobs, as well as the actors, without a lot of negativity concerning casting decisions.

Which brings me to the news that A MURDER FOR THE BOOKS and SHELVED UNDER MURDER have been optioned by Sony Pictures Television! Of course, I don’t yet know what will be developed, if anything, from this option deal, but I am very excited to see how my characters and settings may be brought to life.

And I promise to keep an open mind about the casting, whatever happens. I won’t be upset if the actors don’t exactly resemble the descriptions in my books. As long as they portray the heart and soul of the characters, it’s all good!


That's fantastic news about the options, Victoria! Best of luck to you with that, and thanks again for stopping by and helping me out  :o

About the Author:
 
Victoria Gilbert, raised in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, turned her early obsession with reading into a dual career as an author and librarian. She has worked as a reference librarian, research librarian, and library director.

When not writing or reading, Victoria likes to spend her time watching films, gardening, or traveling. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers, and is represented by Frances Black at Literary Council, NY, NY. Victoria lives in North Carolina with her husband and some very spoiled cats. This is her first Blue Ridge Library mystery.
Author Links:
Website/blog: http://victoriagilbertmysteries.com/
Facebook author page:  https://www.facebook.com/VictoriaGilbertMysteryAuthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/VGilbertauthor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/VictoriaGilbert
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/victoriagilbertauthor/

Purchase Links:
Amazon     B&N         Books-A-Million      Indie Bound 

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