Archive for April, 2012

As always, before we begin our discussion of the current month’s selection, people have an opportunity to talk about some of the books they are currently reading (or have just read).   The books mentioned at our April meeting were:

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Hardwired by Walter Jon Williams

Twelve Impossible Things Before Breakfast by Jane Yolen

Burning City by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

The Black Company by Glen Cook


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The group met on Wednesday evening to discuss Except the Queen by Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder.   As always, we had a great and lively discussion.  I’ll try to highlight some of what people had to say …..

  • Brian C. started the discussion, commenting on how he wasn’t that wild about the book.  He understands that for many fantasy books, it’s more about description than plot …  but in this book, he found there were too many points of view.  He also found inconsistencies in how, for example, the sisters were banished and had no magic, but then still managed to talk to bird, work small bits of magic, etc.
  • Mike M, on the other hand, really enjoyed the book.  He was familiar with Midori Snyder, but not Jane Yolen, and although for the first part, he said, “It felt like I was riding a kangaroo,” he felt that once the sisters got sent out from Faerie, that the story quieted down.  He really liked the descriptive writing, and the somewhat slow pace, although he agreed with what Brian mentioned about the inconsistencies in the magic/abilities.
  • There was some discussion about how in Fantasy stories, you can make up the rules as you go along, but how in Science Fiction, most of the time, authors rely on real science or math.  Some reader said that when they read science fiction, they tend to wonder if the author is getting the science right (and others find, in contrast, that they wonder less about the science because they don’t know the science, anyway).
  • Kathleen said that she wanted to like the book more than she did.  She likes both authors, liked the elements of folktales and fairytales and magic, but she was thrown off by the choppiness of the language.  She felt it would abruptly go from florid descriptions to plain language, making the jumps between authors too clear (and wondered where the editor was — something echoed by other readers).
  • The back-and-forth in narrators was something that threw off a lot of readers.  We all wondered if this choppiness was due to the fact that this book was written by two authors, who have different writing styles.  I had found information about this book on Jane Yolen’s blog, and she does mention that she wrote certain characters, and Snyder wrote others — which would explain some of the inconsistencies, especially with the pacing.
  • We all discussed the fact that the authors gave us a somewhat unusual viewpoint — usually in a story, it’s an ordinary person who gains powers or abilities, and here, it’s completely the reverse.   Readers also liked that the two main characters were old women, and although Sparrow is a focus of the story, she is not the focus of the story (it’s not all about her, the young hero).
  • The folktale and fairy tale elements were things that some readers really enjoyed.   Baba Yaga, in particular, was a character that some people focused on — and were surprised by how nice she is in this story, considering how she is historically portrayed.    Menolly said she really liked how the authors wove together fantasy and mythology in the story, bringing together Central and Eastern European mythology with a bit of African mythology.
  • Understanding some of these folktale and fairytale elements seemed to be connected to why some readers liked, or didn’t like, the book.   Brian C. said he didn’t have as much knowledge of certain characters, or elements, and he didn’t really like the book too much.   Menolly, on the other hand, has a lot of knowledge of folktales and fairytales, so she found she recognized a lot of things in the story, and she liked the book.
  • One person brought up a discussion topic, about how he felt this is a “womanly” book — not necessarily feminist, but feminine — focusing on traditional womanly attributes (hearth magic, herb magic, etc.).   Other readers brought up how in this story, the Maiden, Mother and Crone are all portrayed.   Menolly said that she hadn’t thought about it before, but now that we were discussing this, this story has a real mother focus — the Queen trying to save her daughter, etc., and that there is a focus on mothering/nurturing in this story.  Nicole brought up the point that she found it hard to understand why the Queen would abandon her child, which led to a discussion of how, in this story, it really is “except the queen” — other people have to follow the rules, but not her.
  • Hola noted that she liked how there was a strong friendship between the two sisters, and that it was nice to see that although they start off as being shallow and ditzy, that by the end, they have both really grown as characters.

As you can see, we had a great discussion.   More comments are very welcome, so if you’ve read the book and would like to continue the discussion, please leave a comment!



One last note, generally, about the books we’ve been reading recently —- Greg said that he found a common theme in them, which is: survivors and surviving.  This book certainly fits with that, and I think I might do a future post about the other books, as well.

Note: The books that people mentioned as what they’re reading now will be put in a separate post (so stay tuned)

Another Note:  Some people in our group choose to use aliases, so you will see a mix of names in these discussion summaries.

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Author John Scalzi

I know I already posted about the Hugo Nominations previously, but Les sent me a link to John Scalzi’s post on his blog, Whatever, about the nominations in the Short Story category.

Scalzi very nicely included links to all of the short stories, so if you’d like to read them, please visit John Scalzi’s post for the full info.

Les’ timing on sending me this info was perfect — since our May book will kick off our fresh cycle of reading, bracketed at the beginning and end by books by John Scalzi.

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Due to a scheduled Library Committee meeting, our group will meet upstairs, in Youth Services, in the YS Activity Room.   Youth Services is on the second floor of the library — and as soon as you go through their doors, their staff desk is on the right, and they can direct you to the room.

And, just in case …. our April book selection is Except the Queen by Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder.


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The Library now has a presence on Pinterest!   For those of you who may not be familiar with Pinterest, it is “A content sharing service that allows members to “pin” images, videos and other objects to their pinboard. ” 

It’s a nice way for the Library to share a lot of different kinds of things with our patrons, including things about our Youth Services art projects, library programs, displays in the library, and even our discussion groups.  There are even boards for things like “Book Love!”

Alex, one of our Adult Services librarians, created this cool collage of our book covers, and pinned it to a Board.    If you’d like to see all of what we’ve got, please visit us on Pinterest!

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You Belong at Your Library!   Our library is celebrating National Library Week this coming weekend — starting with a all-ages concert on Friday, April 13th at 6:00 p.m.

Come listen to the Old Town School of Folk Music’s own Laura Doherty in concert, enjoy some games and take a crazy picture that tells the world why you belong at your library!

On Saturday, April 14th, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, we’ll have an open house in our meeting rooms, showcasing some of the local groups that meet here at the library.   It’s a great opportunity to see the variety of different groups, and also learn about what Adult Services and Youth Services have for our patrons, as well.

For more information, please visit our home page at http://www.lislelibrary.org, or visit us on Facebook!

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The winners will be presented at Chicon 7, Chicago, Illinois, August 30-September 3, 2012   Toastmaster: John Scalzi.

Here’s the list, and I’m going through it now — I know the library has the nominated novels.   🙂

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