Dear Blog Readers,

May 12, 2011

It’s been quite some time since the last post on this blog–life overwhelmed me a little, and I didn’t have time to keep up the way I’d like to.  But I’m happy to say that soon, hopefully by the end of this month, Let(t)’er Rip will be up and running again!  I plan on at least one review a week, probably more.  Check the About page for more about what I’ve been up to!

So I apologize to all the old followers I left hanging, and welcome any new who wander here, and wish you all happy reading!

Love,


Dear Blog Readers,

January 26, 2010

Just dropping a line to let you all know that I’ll be taking a very brief hiatus–I reported for my first ever jury duty yesterday, and was assigned to a trial that’s expected to last the week.  Naturally, since court is in the morning and my job is at night, that leaves me with very little time for writing awesome book reviews.

So I’ll see you on the flip side (by which I mean next week, by which time…it will be February already?  When did that happen?) for more opinionated epistolary fun!

Love,

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Dear 2010 Caldecott committee,

January 18, 2010

Once again, the book club I so often write about has held its mock Caldecott meeting, and we’ve chosen our books!  I just thought you might like to know, before you announce the actual winner and honors (in just a couple of hours).  I’ll be watching the streaming video feed on the internet from my cozy bed, biting my nails in anticipation.  😉

We started with a rather long list that we whittled down to a shortlist of choices at our last meeting.  That shortlist is what we picked discussed and picked from, and here it is (in alpha order):

All the World – Marla Frazee (written by Liz Garton Scanlon)
Egg Drop – Mini Grey
The Goblin and the Empty Chair – Leo and Diane Dillon (written by Mem Fox)
In the Belly of an Ox – Rebecca Bond
Jeremy Draws a Monster – Peter McCarty
The Lion and the Mouse – Jerry Pinkney
Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 – Brian Floca
The Negro Speaks of Rivers – E.B. Lewis (written by Langston Hughes)
One Beetle Too Many: The Extraordinary Adventures of Charles Darwin – Matthew Trueman (written by Kathryn Lasky)
A Penguin Story – Antoinette Portis
Red Sings From Treetops: A Year in Colors – Pamela Zagarenski (written by Joyce Sidman)
Redwoods – Jason Chin

After the first round of voting, a clear winner emerged–Red Sings From Treetops, with 26 points!

Read my review of it here!

We had a little more difficulty deciding the honor books; in the first round, four books were closely tied at 13 and 12 votes, after which the numbers dropped off drastically.  There was some unwillingness to name four honor books, though, so we voted again on just the honors.  After that round, at least one honor book became clear:  Moonshot, with 20 points!

The other three possible honor books were once again closely tied, one with 14 points, two with 13.  We decided to keep for certain the 14-point book:  A Penguin Story!

Then we took a quick vote between the two 13-pointers in order to eliminate one of them…and they tied again!  Finally we gave in and accepted the idea of keeping them both:  The Goblin and the Empty Chair (read my review here) and The Negro Speaks of Rivers!

I’m pretty pleased with our choices overall, though my personal picks were different.  When we initially voted, my top four were The Goblin and the Empty Chair, A Penguin Story, Red Sings From Treetops, and Egg Drop.

It was a very tough call for me–I felt a lot of the books this year were quite worthy of recognition.  I particularly fought with myself, though, over The Goblin and the Empty Chair and A Penguin Story.  I think A Penguin Story is incredibly clever and deceptively simple, not to mention compositionally amazing, and I’d have made it my first choice without hesitation if it weren’t for the Dillons.

I LOVE the Dillons’ work with extreme passion.  I think everything they do is fantastic, and even wrote a paper about them back at Simmons.  I think The Goblin and the Empty Chair is exceptional in its technical execution, not to mention beautiful; the illustrations not only fit the tone of the story, but enhance it, telling pieces that are never specified in the text.  The attention to detail is just breathtaking.  However, it was brought up in discussion that though the style they use in this book suits the story and the fairy tale feel of it, it’s also something of a throwback–a style they’ve used before (In Aida, if I’m not mistaken, and probably elsewhere too), so that it not only references a timeless fairy tale era but also a golden era of the Dillons’ work.  When I looked at it with that in mine, I could see it, how it was beautiful and perfect but not anything new.

In the end, I went with my heart over my head and gave my top vote to The Goblin.  But it was rough, lemme tell ya.

Now all that’s left is to wait a few hours and see which books you guys picked as this year’s best!  I think The Lion and the Mouse is likely, though it didn’t get my vote or place high enough for an honor in mock voting.  I think there’s some tension and pressure around that book, since it’s the big buzz book for the award, and since Pinkney has been honored numerous times but never won.  We shall see.

On a side note, we didn’t do a mock Newbery in book club this year, so I’m woefully under-read in that regard, though I perused Heavy Medal to see what the buzz was earlier in the week.  That said, I’m rooting for When You Reach Me (Rebecca Stead), because it seems to be a front runner, and I read it last week and thought it was INCREDIBLE and wonderful and very Newbery-ish.  My review of that will be on its way in the next month or two (yeah, that’s how backlogged I am after those months I took off), but I just want to point out that I think it would be fantastic for When You Reach Me to win given how heavily it references A Wrinkle in Time (Newbery winner, 1963).  I’d love to hand-sell them together with matching gold medals on their covers!

Sadly, I’m feeling too sleepy and uninformed to make personal picks for the other awards–but I’m excited to watch them live very soon!  I’m keeping my fingers crossed for good choices!

Love,

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Wanna check out this title for yourself?  Try the Indie Bound or ABC bookstore finders!


Dear Blog Readers,

January 7, 2010

Happy 2010!  It’s a new year, and that means it’s time for some year-end summation here at Let(t)’er Rip.  Holiday craziness has kept me from catching up with reviews of everything I read in 2009, but this post is a way for me to round up the year’s best, total some statistics, and give you readers a sneak peak at upcoming reviews.

So let’s get started!

First, a round up of my top 9 of ’09 (meaning books that were new in ’09, though I had lots of backlist faves this year too), in no particular order:

Two Parties, One Tux by Steven Goldman (reviewed here)

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The Goblin and the Empty Chair by Mem Fox, illust. Leo & Diane Dillon (reviewed here)

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The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness (reviewed here and here, and I know having two books of a series listed as one entry in my top 9 is sort of cheating, but I don’t care)

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Ash by Malinda Lo (reviewed here)

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When the Moon Forgot by Jimmy Liao (reviewed here)

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Life Size Zoo by Teruyuki Komiya, Toyofumi Fukuda, Makiko Oku and Kristin Earhart (reviewed here)

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The Snow Day by Komako Sakai (reviewed here)

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American Jesus vol. 1: Chosen by Mark Millar & Peter Gross (review to come)

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Big Frog Can’t Fit In by Mo Willems (review to come)

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Now, a little (or big, actually) preview of 2009 reviews to come in the new year:
That Book Woman by Heather Henson, illust. David Small – 32 pages
Black Orchid by Neil Gaiman, art by Dave McKean – 144 pages
Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan – 336 pages
There’s Another Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone, illust. Michael Smollin – 32 pages
Moribito II:  Guardian of the Darkness by Nahoko Uehashi, trans. Cathy Hirano – 272 pages
Some of Tim’s Stories by S.E. Hinton – 160 pages
Fade by Lisa McMann – 256 pages
Greenwitch (The Dark is Rising Sequence #3) by Susan Cooper – 148 pages
The Grey King (The Dark is Rising Sequence #4) by Susan Cooper – 224 pages
The Blind Colt by Glen Rounds – 80 pages
The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya by Nagaru Tanigawa – 208 pages
Cat Burglar Black by Richard Sala – 128 pages
American Jesus Vol. 1:  Chosen by Mark Millar & Peter Gross – 72 pages
Adventure of Meno Book 2: Wet Friend! by Tony and Angela DiTerlizzi – 48 pages
Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott – 176 pages
Big Frog Can’t Fit In by Mo Willems – 16 pages
Death Note:  L:  Change The World by M – 174 pages
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – 384 pages
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins – 400 pages
Blood Song: A Silent Ballad by Eric Drooker – 312 pages
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne – 240 pages
Birches by Robert Frost, illust. Ed Young – 32 pages
The Pet Dragon:  A Story About Adventure, Friendship, and Chinese Characters by Christoph Niemann – 40 pages
The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger – 40 pages
Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman, illust. Charles Vess – 32 pages
A Book of Sleep by Il Sung Na – 24 pages
Let’s Go to the Capitol by Bernard Rosenfield, illust. Gustav Schrotter – 45 pages
Prayers from the Ark by Carmen Bernos de Gasztold, trans. Rumer Godden, illust. Jean Primrose – 75 pages
Totty by Paola Opal – 24 pages
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, illust. Michael Martchenko – 26 pages
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert – 16 pages
Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats – 32 pages
Fullmetal Alchemist novels 1-5 by Makoto Inoue – 1084 pages total

I’ve also been tearing through tons and tons of manga in the last few months, and since reviewing them volume by volume would take me into 2011, I plan to tackle whole series at once.  Here’s a list of upcoming manga reviews (because you know you love them, or at least, I hope you do, because manga is a misunderstood little piece of amazingness):

Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa – 22 volumes thus far, 4256 pages
Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya – 23 volumes, 4850 pages
Ouran High School Host Club by Bisco Hatori – 13 volumes thus far, 2536 pages
Hero Tales by Huang Jin Zhou, illust. Hiromu Arakawa – 1 volume thus far, 176 pages
Love Hina by Ken Akamatsu – 14 volumes, 2724 pages
Negima! Magister Negi Magi by Ken Akamatsu – 24 volumes thus far, 4744 pages
Fushigi Yuugi:  Genbu Kaiden by Yuu Watase – 9 volumes thus far, 1752 pages
Absolute Boyfriend by Yuu Watase – 6 volumes, 1192 pages
Otomen by Aya Kanno – 4 volumes thus far, 800 pages

And now, more for my curiosity than anything else, some statistics:

Books read in 2009: 254

Pages read in 2009: 48,672

That’s an average of one book every 34 hours or so.  Geez, when I look at it like that, it sounds crazy.  Some of those are picturebooks, true, which take much less time to read than a novel, and some of them are manga and other graphic stuff, which takes a little less reading time than plain text for me, but even so that’s damn impressive.  Not that it’s any kind of contest.  (Becky, any chance you were keeping track of how many books you read this year?  Though I suspect you’d best me no matter what I do.)

Anyway, stay tuned for some more (and hopefully more frequent) reviews this month, and keep your eyes peeled for a post about the results of mock Caldecott discussion with the book group I frequently talk about.  I’ve got to record our picks before the actual awards are announced, just in case we turn out to have gotten it right!

Love,

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Dear Very Patient Blog Readers,

November 19, 2009

You may be asking yourselves where the reviews I promised for November are hiding themselves–and the answer would be “in my overworked brain.”  I’ve got a stack a mile high just waiting to be posted here, but November is proving to be as overwhelming as October was.  I can only hope that December will somehow be better.  I haven’t forgotten about you, my few faithful readers, and I imagine you checking this blog every day with hope in your hearts, only to have that hope dashed by my lameness.  That’s how I imagine it goes, anyway.

Let’s consider November another month of hiatus, and I’ll do my best to return full force in December–gotta fit in everything I read in ’09 before it’s ’10, after all!  In the interim, if you find yourself suddenly craving my sparkling wit and charm, check out the Curious George blog, on which I have a regular weekly feature.  😉

See you again soon, I hope!

Love,

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Dear Blog Readers,

October 21, 2009

Hi!  Surprised to see me?  It’s been a while since the last review, so I thought I should at least post to say that I’m alive and reading, and will be posting more frequently once the craziness of October is over.  Three jobs plus volunteer theater is rough on a girl, you know?

Of course, nothing could keep me away for very long, so look forward to lots more reviews (including a lot of manga–I’ve been in serious manga-devouring mode lately) in November!

Until then, happy reading!

Love,

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Dear Blog Readers,

August 24, 2009

I was thinking today about how summer is almost over, and about how fall comes after that, and about how Christmas and the New Year seem not so far away right now…and that led me to wonder about how many books I will have read in 2009 by the time it’s done.  Which then led me to wonder how many pages of text all that reading will equal.

So I decided that I’m going to add page counts to my posts from here on!  So that when 2010 rolls around, I can look back and add up the numbers and find out just how much reading I really did this year.  I’m also going to go back and add up the books and pages I’ve read so far.  Yikes.

I’ve just made a lot of work for myself, but I think it will be fun in the end.  So look for more regular posts from me–life has calmed down considerably now–and also look for the addition of pages-so-far tracking!

Love,

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