What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in
    from   

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Comments

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
new posts in all blogs
Viewing Blog: Biblio File, Most Recent at Top
Results 1 - 25 of 1,593
Visit This Blog | Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
Blog Banner
A working librarian and library student who spends too much time reading shares all she has read. She is not genre specific, but her job makes her heavy on children's and YA.
Statistics for Biblio File

Number of Readers that added this blog to their MyJacketFlap: 26
1. On Safety, Kathleen Hale, and what to do next

A lot of bloggers are thinking about what the next steps are after this weekend. How do we react when negative status updates about a book can get you stalked? Is an author going to show up on my doorstep? Call me at work and harass me until I cry? Blogging isn't a job, it's a hobby. It's supposed to be fun, a way to connect with other book nerds.

It's not supposed to put you in danger.

Of the two big issues facing book bloggers right now, a major lawsuit looks like "lucking out."

That's fucked up.

And it's worse than authors showing up in your front yard and calling you at work. It's the people who automatically take her at her word that the reviewer was wrong and harassing her. She wasn't. I know. I'm shocked, too! A woman who thought that showing up on someone's doorstep was a rational response to bad status updates has a skewed version of the reality leading up to that point. Shocking! But there are a lot of people who are applauding her for "fighting back."

So, what's next? Do I seriously have to balance the safety of my family with my desire to talk about books? Is this a real live thought process I've been having the past few days? REALLY?

I blog and tweet with my real name. It's not that hard to figure out where I work. And part of this is on purpose--my blog is personal and mine and I do it on my own time, but to say it's 100% separate from work is hard. My day job (which includes regularly scheduled nights and weekends) affects the blog--it informs what I read, my library users inform my reactions to titles and my blog affects my day job-- it's opened up professional doors to me and given me opportunities I may not have had. Many of my blogging friends are also professional colleagues and part of my personal learning network. My blog is on my resume. Honestly, in the grand scheme, at this point, it doesn't make sense for me to change it to a pseudonym. But what am I leaving myself open to?

And here's another area-- I'm not just a book blogger. I'm also a professional reviewer. I regularly review for School Library Journal (paywalled) and the RT Book Reviews website. These are signed reviews and SLJ even includes my place of employment after my name. If anything, this is what makes the most sense to give up. The majority of my critical or negative reviews are professional (mostly because I'm not apt to finish a book I don't like unless it's assigned.) But, I really like reviewing professionally. It's made me a better reader and a better blogger. It has helped my career and sometimes I get paid. It's not something I'm willing to give up, and I don't think I should have to in order to protect my safety.

And then my thought process turns to the fact that the affected bloggers are much bigger than me, so it's not going to be an issue for me... except. I have had an author track me down at work about a review I wrote. This person used my library's "contact us" form to comment on my review of their book. Luckily, it was for one of the professional outlets, so I could just forward it to my editor and let them deal with it.

Who do I forward the scary lady on my front lawn too? What happens when someone defames me in an international newspaper? What happens if the it's the blog, where I'm the editor? Will my professional reputation be dragged through the mud and affect my ability to put food on the table?

Where do I go next? Do I give into my fear? Is that letting the terrorists win (in the parlance of our times?) Do I accept the risk, knowing there are more Kathleen Hales out there and if they can write well enough (and let's be honest, that article was fascinating and compelling. She can clearly write. She just can't recognize dangerous and probably illegal behavior) people will just take her word at it without even trying to hear the other side of the story?

In a month and a half, Biblio File will turn 10. Yes, a decade of book blogging. Posting has been spotty at times, and this is not the first time I've seriously considered stopping. But, every other time it was because of internal issues--do I really want to devote the time it requires or do I want to prioritize other things in my life? Do I still have the passion to make it worth the brain space? And I've always just taken a break or powered through. It's never because of something external before. And... I just don't know now.

I just don't know.


Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

0 Comments on On Safety, Kathleen Hale, and what to do next as of 10/20/2014 11:32:00 PM
Add a Comment
2. Innocent Darkness

Innocent Darkness Suzanne Lazear

Steampunk Faeries. Oh yes. And that’s all you really need to know.

Ok, you want to know more.

Noli comes from a good family that’s fallen on hard times. She’s an ace engineer and too reckless and spirited to ever be the perfect Lady her mother expects. After one-too-many brushes with the law, she’s sent to a reform finishing school.

Kevighn Silver is drawn to the school--it’s a school devoted to ridding young ladies of the Spark. The Spark may make them less-than-society-perfect, but every 7 years, the faeries in the Otherworld need to sacrifice a mortal girl with Spark in order to keep the magic going. The time is coming fast, and it’s Kevighn’s job to find the girl. A well-timed wish in the wrong place, and poof, Noli’s in the Otherworld, slated to die.

On top of all this is Noli’s best friend and next-door-neighbor, V. Noli knows V’s father would never let them marry, so it’s all very platonic, despite her wishes that it could be something else. V knows something is very wrong and tracks her all the way to the Otherworld, where he just happens to be an exiled prince. YEP.

First off, despite the awesomeness of STEAMPUNK FAERIES*, Noli is what makes this book. Noli knows who she is. She likes who she is. She struggles that who she is isn’t who her mother wants or needs her to be and how she can best take care of what’s left of her family. I like that despite the tensions between who her mother (and society) expect her to be and who she is, she still really loves her mother. There's tension, but it's not much greater than most teen daughter/mother tension. I appreciate that it's not a breaking point between them. Unlike many "modern before her time" historical heroines, she chafes at the restrictions, but kind of understands them? Also, more than many historicals, Noli and the text understand that many of these restrictions are actually the restrictions of her class rather than the time period. (She wants to work. The fact her mother won't let her isn't because she's a girl, it's because girls of their station don't work. Even though her mother (most shamefully) does.) She’s brave and bold, but will still cry when things go to hell.

As with all good faeries stories, court politics and tradition are intriguing and dark (even if this one is dressed up in crazy fashion choices and steampunk toys.)

The first in a series, this one pretty much just sets everything up, but it builds a pretty awesome world you’ll want to stay in for longer. (Just don’t eat anything.)


*This is kinda like whenever I talk about His Fair Assassins, I just end up randomly shouting ASSASSIN NUNS! ASSASSIN NUNS!

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

0 Comments on Innocent Darkness as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
3. Lord and Lady Spy

Lord and Lady Spy Shanna Galen

Sophia Smythe is hiding in a wardrobe, waiting to capture Napoleon's top aide, when a fellow spy comes in and grabs him first. She is then unceremoniously laid off, as the war is over and the government no longer needs as many spies. And so she's packed off home to her boring and distant husband.

Adrian Smythe is shocked when he is laid off--didn't he just hand over Napoleon's top aide? Now what is he supposed to do? Go home to his boring and dowdy wife?

Then, the top secret Barbican group realizes it can hire one of them back. Whoever solves a simple murder case first can be reinstated. Only first, Sophia and Adrian have to get over the shock once they discover each other's true identities! As the danger mounts, they learn to work together as a team and slowly piece their marriage back together.

YES. This is a regency retelling of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. YES. It is 100% awesome.

I loved the action and the mystery, but I also loved the real distance between them and how they slowly come back together. Not having keep secrets about huge parts of their identities--the parts they cherish the most--definitely helps. Once they can be completely honest, they're almost entirely different people. But there are other issues--Sophia has suffered a string of miscarriages, the grief from each tearing them apart as they didn't know how to mourn together. On top of that, she knows she can't go through that again and so she's fearful of physical intimacy because of what may result. And I loved seeing them work together on spy stuff, and how their newfound respect for each other's work lead to a romantic relationship.

Like I said, it was AWESOME and I loved it and I'm excited to see that it's the first in a series--all retellings of spy movies (which is a premise that could be awful, but it's NOT.)


Book Provided by... my wallet

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

0 Comments on Lord and Lady Spy as of 9/25/2014 10:10:00 AM
Add a Comment
4. Show Your Work

Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered Austin Kleon

A great follow-up to Steal Like an Artist, which details how to be discovered.

Basically, find your people (easy to do with the interwebs) share a lot (easy to do with the interwebs) don’t be spammy (being spammy is easy to do with the interwebs) and learn to take criticism and stick it out for the long term.

My favorite part was when he says “No Guilty Pleasures” because he means it in the way that you shouldn’t be guilty about your pleasures--if you like it, embrace it.

I also like his emphasis on teaching and sharing skills and inspirations and opening up work processes as well as work products. I love that aspect of online maker culture right now. (I think Pinterest is great for sharing and discovering other people’s inspirations and work.)

Overall, it’s very practical, hands-on advice on how let other people know you’re out there, making things.

It retains the same vibe and design aesthetic of Steal Like an Artist and the two work really well together.

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

0 Comments on Show Your Work as of 9/24/2014 9:15:00 AM
Add a Comment
5. Bonjour Tristesse

Bonjour Tristesse Francoise Sagan, translated from the French by Irene Ash

Cecile loves the carefree and glittering lifestyle she and her father live in Paris. The summer is shaping up to be perfect--her father, his current mistress, and Cecile are spending the summer in a rented beach house. There’s even Cyril-- a nearby university student that Cecile tastes first love with. But then her father invites Anne, a friend of his late wife, to join them and it turns sour. Anne’s understand elegance forces out the mistress Elsa and the lifestyle that Cecile loves. When her father and Anne get engaged, Cecile, Cyril and Elsa hatch a plot to break them up, with tragic consequences.

While Sagan has some interesting and insightful comments about the type of people in Cecile’s life, especially her father, her age when writing this really shows. It’s written as Cecile looking back, mostly regretful for her actions, but then you realize that only a year has passed, and Sagan herself was only 18 when the book came out (younger when she wrote it) so while it well captures the emotions and logic behind Cecile, the older-and-wiser gets a bit tiresome as readers that actually are older and wiser will realize she still doesn’t get it, and it’s pretty obvious that it’s the author who still doesn’t get it, not the character.

THAT SAID, I did like a lot about it and I think it would lend itself really well to a modern YA-reworking, and it would work really well when aimed at an age-contemporary audience instead of adults. It’s a short book (without back matter, it’s only 130 pages in a small trim size) and she captures the languid summer beach atmosphere really well.

Not sure if I recommend it, but I am glad I read it.

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

0 Comments on Bonjour Tristesse as of 9/23/2014 11:24:00 AM
Add a Comment
6. The Family Romanov

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia Candace Fleming

It opens with an imperial ball in 1903 to celebrate St. Petersburg’s 200th anniversary, the story then jumps back to the childhood of Nicholas II and Alexandra. It starts getting more in-depth once they are married, which is the same time that Nicholas II becomes Tsar. What follows is a horrific story of incompetence and willful ignorance and a population pushed to action in order to survive.

I knew Imperial Russia had problems, and I knew Nicholas II wasn’t the greatest ruler, but holy crap. Fleming paints a bleak picture that offers them very little redemption. Running parallel to the story of the Romanov family is an introduction to early 20th century Russian history, looking at what life was like for ordinary Russians and the causes and starts of the Revolution. The story seamlessly works in quotations pulled from journals and other primary source documents.

Despite covering so much, she keeps it very readable and it’s a great introduction to the subjects, but I think that readers who already know about the topics covered will get a lot out of it as well. It has two different inserts of photographs and frequently in the text is a pull-out box titled “Beyond the Palace Gates” which contains the words of someone else--a soldier, a factory worker, a reporter, a peasant--to add contrast and context to the main narrative.

The package wins further points with it'scomprehensive back matter--endnotes, bibliography, index-- and being a teen-friendly trim size. (I have very strong feelings on trim size for teen nonfiction. It's a surprisingly huge factor in appeal.)

Overall, it is fascinating and horrifying, and just really well-done and put together. I highly recommend it and keep an eye out for it come award season.

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

0 Comments on The Family Romanov as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
7. Fairest: Return of the Maharaja

Fairest Vol. 3: The Return of the Maharaja Sean E. Williams, Bill Willingham, Stephen Sadowski, Phil Jimenez

Check it out! Prince Charming is alive! And back!

And that’s the best thing I can say about this volume.

After dying in the battle against the adversary, Prince Charming comes back (which we all knew he would eventually, right? He’s much too powerful) but doesn’t want to go back to the mundy and instead becomes a ruler in an Indus fable world. There he meets a woman, Nalayani, who’s come to ask for help. Her village lost all its men to the adversary and is now constantly being attacked by roaming bands and they’re about to be wiped out. Charming is also facing issues as there are those who aren’t fond of having a white foreigner ruling them.*

I do like Nalayani because she’s awesome, but she’s also a new character and not having lived with her for years, I just didn’t care as much about her as I did about Charming or some of the other Fables characters.

Charming… has lost a lot of character growth. When we first met him, he was an arrogant ass, but over the series he had mellowed and matured, but he’s reverted back to all jack-ass charm and lost what made him a deeper, more likeable character.

But here’s my real problem-- the great romances of Fables have all been a slow burn building up through multiple story arcs. If Charming is *finally* going to meet someone for him, someone “better” than Snow or Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, we need the slow burn. We need to get to know Nalayani, we need to see them get to know each other and fall in love. The whole execution seemed rush and I never bought that Charming liked her more than he likes most awesome women, and Nalayani’s affections seem to turn on a dime. Overall, its was just really disappointing.


*this is problematic, as Charming is set up as the good guy, and those who aren’t into colonization are the bad guys. It's kinda worked out in the end, but ergh. But this whole issue is ergh, so...


Book Provided by... my wallet

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

0 Comments on Fairest: Return of the Maharaja as of 9/19/2014 9:12:00 AM
Add a Comment
8. Fairest: Hidden Kingdom

Fairest Vol. 2: Hidden Kingdom Lauren Beukes, Bill Willingham, Inaki Miranda

This is a bit of a jump-back in time from where the main series is. With the “present day” happening in 2002, so the action is pretty firmly at the beginning of the series, with lots of flashback to Rapunzel’s back story.

So, like most fairy tales, Rapunzel has a dark edge that we tend not to retell. In the original, the witch discovers the prince because Rapunzel is pregnant. She casts Rapunzel into the desert where she gives birth to twins. The prince gets tangled in brambles trying to climb the tower, is blinded by the thorns and is also cast into the desert. They all wander around for like 20 years before they find each other, Rapunzel’s tears of joy cure his eyesight and only then do they all live happily-ever-after.

In the Fables world, Frau Tottenkinder is the witch that imprisoned Rapunzel. She casts her out, Rapunzel gives birth, and she’s told her children die during childbirth. She’s always known that they survived and has spent centuries searching for them. At one point, she tries to drown herself but washes up on the shores of a Japanese fable kingdom (named the Hidden Kingdom).

In the present day, she gets a message via attacking crane origami that there is news of her children. She meets up with friends and enemies from her old adopted homeland, and Tokyo’s version of Fabletown where the present is tied with the fall of the Hidden Kingdom to the adversary's forces.

I loved this one. I loved the look at Japanese mythology and fables, how they played in their homeland and how they survive in the modern Mundy world. I liked the old school “present day” with Jack running his schemes, Snow and Bigby in the business office and Frau Tottenkinder doing her thing on the 13th floor of the original building. It was a nice return to the beginning. But more than that, I loved Rapunzel’s story and her strength. We don’t see a lot of her, as she’s not allowed to leave Fabletown because of her hair and she’s been kinda shoved to the side in this series.

There’s also a tantalizing clue about the truth about her daughters, that I don’t believe we’ve seen the answer to yet. (I’m trying to rack my brain, as this happens so far in the past to see if we’ve seen them and not known it, or if they have yet to come up.)

This is my favorite volume in the Fairest spin-off series.

Book Provided by... my wallet

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

0 Comments on Fairest: Hidden Kingdom as of 9/18/2014 10:36:00 AM
Add a Comment
9. The Unwritten Fables

The Unwritten Vol. 9: The Unwritten Fables Mike Carey, Bill Willingham, Peter Gross, Mark Buckingham

I was so excited for the one. Tom Taylor is trying to fix Leviathan and ends up in the middle of the witches from the 13th floor of Fables (which is my favorite comic) But, in the end… ugh.

Basically, it’s an alternate Fables universe where Mr. Dark has won and the Fables are barely hanging on (most won’t survive.) This is how alternate it is--Snow White is married to Mr. Dark and they’re keeping Bigby prisoner (and Mr. Dark has conquered all of Earth and is moving on to other realms.)

As such, the witches summon the “greatest wizard who never was, but might be” and end up with Tom Taylor as a stand-in for Tommy.

Now it’s a great concept--Fables who know they’re fictional, but they’re real and living in our world intersecting with this story about the power of story and where the line between fiction and reality is, and where it blurs. And it kinda touches on it, but not nearly as much as it could have, or should have. Instead, it ends up being a dark AU piece of Fables story, in which they get Tommy, Sue, and Peter to help fight their battles. It’s a rather horrifying look* at what could have happened in Fables, and it’s so Fables-centric, I’m not really sure what’s the point of having it as an Unwritten story instead of a Fables one. The only thing it really does is end in such a dramatic fashion to set up the Unwritten reboot. Not sure what this does to all the stories and threads that we still have resolve. I kinda wonder if Carey and Gross wrote themselves into a corner and this was the only way to get out.

That said, this series has kept me guessing the entire time, so I’ll withhold final judgement until we see what happens with the reboot.(But at the moment, I'm rather discontented.)

*And given how dark Fables has been recently, that’s really saying something. ALSO, when announcing the upcoming end of Fables Willingham has said that what comes up in the Unwritten crossover has consequences and now I’m really scared.

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

0 Comments on The Unwritten Fables as of 9/17/2014 11:28:00 AM
Add a Comment
10. Sisters

Sisters Raina Telgemeier

Raina, her sister Amara, her brother Will, and her mother are road-tripping to Colorado (her dad has to work and will fly out and meet them there.) Of course, Raina’s siblings drive her crazy and if she didn’t have her Walkman to drown them out, she’d go insane. The story alternates between the car trip and what happened before (Raina wishing for a sister, she and her sister fighting, the arrival of her brother, life in general in their cramped 2-bedroom apartment.)

As always, I love Telgemeier’s art and storytelling. I think the frame of the road trip works well. It’s also interesting because this focuses exclusively on her family, and as such, gives a different, more complex picture than the glimpses we saw in Smile. The other thing I liked was, when Raina and Amara reached their inevitable detente, they didn’t immediately become BFF. They gained a bit of understanding, but you know their relationship still wasn’t perfect.

Hilariously, I read this one a bit out-of-order. When I got it, I flipped to the middle just to kinda flip through it and I started reading. And then I got to the end, having only read the second half of the book. Then I had to go and read it again, but this time starting at the beginning.

It’s not my favorite of Telgemeier’s (she’s going to have a hard time topping Smile in my heart) but it’s still a great read.


Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

0 Comments on Sisters as of 9/16/2014 10:00:00 AM
Add a Comment
11. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 9



Volume 1: Freefall Joss Whedon, Georges Jeanty, Karl Moline, Dexter Vines
Volume 2: On Your Own Andrew Chambliss, Georges Jeanty, Cliff Richards, Karl Story
Volume 3: Guarded Andrew Chambliss, Jane Espenson, Drew Z. Greenberg, Georges Jeanty, Karl Moline
Volume 4: Welcome to the Team Andrew Chambliss, Georges Jeanty, Karl Moline
Volume 5: The Core Andrew Chambliss, Georges Jeanty

Ok, I’m just going to review all of Season 9 at once. It makes more sense that way. First off, there are only 5 volumes in Season 9, and that makes me sad.

Buffy’s living in San Francisco, trying to make rent and killing vamps in her spare time. She and Willow have some friction because remember how well Willow reacted to losing her magic in Tibet last season? Yeah, now that all the magic is gone from the world, it’s not easy. There are also major divisions in the slayer army--many were killed at the end of last season, but the ones that weren’t aren’t happy with Buffy for destroying the seed.

CONSEQUENCES. They’re even a bigger deal this season than they were last season. First, off World Without Magic is some seriously bad stuff that they have to learn to live with. I love the fact that Xander can’t uncoil--after years of fighting for his life, he can’t relax into normal life. I mean, I don’t love it, because Xander’s in a bad place and I like Xander, but I think it’s a very real consequence. Willow is having a hard time without magic, but one major character’s very existence is threatened by a world without magic. It’s amazing when it happens, because you don’t see it coming, and when it does, you’re just like “DUH OF COURSE”

A few big bads to deal with--ZOMBIE VAMPIRES (who Xander dubs “zompires”), who are basically feral--not the almost-human vamps we’re used to, and the Siphon, who sucks all special power out of you.

Buffy becomes friends with a cop, and they sometimes work together. An interesting character from the end of Angel shows up at the end. Spike’s around and occasionally we see him in his spaceship IN SPACE, because you know, WHY THE HELL NOT. But mostly importantly SPIKE IS AROUND. I love Spike. Kennedy has a side business of slayer bodyguards and there’s a very cool new slayer and watcher on the scene. A BOY SLAYER. He may not have actual slayer powers, but that’s not going to stop him.

I loved this, and I really loved the new complications they set up, and the new big bad we see coming for Season 10. Which comes out in November (UGH WHY SO FAR AWAY?!) I think with Season 8, sometimes Whedon was like “it’s a comic, I can do ANYTHING” and sometimes he did in ways that were fun, but weren’t necessary and sometimes took away from what makes Buffy work. He reigns that in a lot in Season 9. It’s much more about the characters, and we’re back to really just battling vampires. A new breed of vampires, but it’s back to basics (except for Spike’s spaceship, because… well of course you keep the spaceship?)

Books Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

0 Comments on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 9 as of 9/15/2014 11:02:00 AM
Add a Comment
12. Dead is Just a Dream

Dead Is Just a Dream Marlene Perez

Jessica and the other viragos are having a hard time figuring out Nightshade’s most recent run of murders. People are dying with looks of terror on their faces. They can’t figure out a pattern, and there are too many suspects. Is it the new art teacher who specializes in creepy marionettes? What about the landscape artist whose work has suddenly taken a morbid and disturbing tone? Or is it the ghostly horse that runs through town at night? And why does Jessica keep seeing a clown with a mouth of dripping blood outside her window in the middle of the night? To make matters worse, Dominic’s ex-girlfriend is in town and is making no secret of the fact she wants him back.

I love this series. This is a fun installment because it features the return of Daisy. Where she’s been in the periphery of the last few books, she and Jessica team up to solve this mystery, which is hitting really close to home when Sam ends up in an nightmare coma. Also, unlike some of the other mysteries, this one was hard to figure out because there were a lot of likely suspects and no clear pattern.

I like how this series balances paranormal mystery drama and regular high school drama. In addition to Dominic’s ex-girlfriend hanging around, graduation is looming, and Side Effects May Vary is going on tour, all of which make Jessica insecure about their relationship’s future. It manages to balance the different sides of the story with a light town that really works and why this entire series is consistently a delight.

The first printings also have a bonus short-story that works as an epilogue to the whole series (so I think this may sadly be the last one.)


Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

0 Comments on Dead is Just a Dream as of 9/12/2014 11:36:00 AM
Add a Comment
13. Orpheus in the Underworld

The Unwritten: Orpheus in the Underworld Mike Carey and Peter Gross


Tom ends up back in the story, but there are so many refugees--the Wound that Pullman gave to Leviathan means stories are dying--with horrible consequences in the real world and in fiction. It's hilariously awesomely horrible what some of our favorite characters from literature are forced to do. Tom journeys to the underworld to save Lizzie but Hades has been disposed by Pauly (PAULY!) But hey, Cosi and Leon are there to help out. (Oh, those kids! I’m so glad they’re still around in the story.)

This was pretty great. Pauly’s horrible, but I’m glad to finally see where that was going. Plus, we get to see what Carey thinks would happen in a Zombies vs. Vampire fight.

But let’s face it-- the FINAL PAGE makes it the greatest thing EVER. Because the final page sets up the next volume, which is a FUCKING FABLES CROSSOVER.

I cannot WAIT for it to come out.


Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

0 Comments on Orpheus in the Underworld as of 9/11/2014 12:34:00 PM
Add a Comment
14. Creativity, Inc.

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace

Part Pixar-history, part management how-to, Catmull lays out his management philosophy with examples of how he’s implemented it.

One of the things that Catmull really values is candor and building a culture where everyone feels free and safe to give honest feedback, and where speaking truth to power is welcome and encouraged. He shows this well in his book, because he illustrates his ideas with real-life examples, and he is very honest about his missteps and what happened when things didn’t work.

And I think that’s what I appreciated most about this book--Pixar isn’t a perfect company. Many beloved movies failed multiple times before hitting the theaters. I don’t want to say this is a “warts and all” because it’s not a tell-all airing out the dirty laundry, but, at the same time, it is very honest. Catmull shows where things have gone wrong and then parses it to try to examine why and what they changed to make things better.

One the other big underlying themes is letting go of ego. When people point out ways your project isn’t working, it’s not personal. (Of course as he readily admits, not taking it personally is really hard and much easier said than done, but it’s something to strive for). You should hire people smarter than you are, and then trust them to grow and you should listen to them. I think another very good point he makes is that when managers first learn about problems in meetings, or when told about something not-in-private, it’s not a sign of disrespect and that they need to GET OVER IT.

Personally, this is something I strive for in my own management. I told everyone who works at the library in my first few weeks here that if something isn’t working, I need to know. If I’m doing something that’s not helpful, they need to tell me. I have bigger things to worry about and deal with than being personally offended when you rightfully call me out on my bullshit. (Easier said than done, but I’ve been working on separating stuff out. Dealing with the issue, and then going home and acknowledging my sad feelings and wallowing a bit, and then getting on with it.)

He’s also a big proponent of creating a culture where it’s safe to take a risk and it’s safe to fail. (As Robert Reich said in his commencement speech when I graduated from college, if you’re not occasionally failing, you’re not reaching far enough or trying hard enough.)

I like that he gets into the specifics of culture clash issues when Disney bought Pixar and he became the head of Disney Animation. He then talks about what he did to change the Disney culture and that, like most things worth doing, it didn’t happen overnight and it wasn’t always smooth.

But, one of his big things, and I think this is a good take-away for libraries is that everyone’s responsible for quality. And this ties back with his points on candor--everyone should feel empowered to look for quality issues and to go ahead and fix them or bring them to the attention of someone who can help fix them. Problems are not solutions. Often the person who notices the issue won’t have the solution, because often solutions aren’t that easy, but everyone is responsible for quality. One of the ways they foster this is to bring people from different areas and departments together. When movies are in progress, works-in-progress are routinely shown to, and commented on, by people who aren’t involved in the movie. When Pixar had grown so big some of the candor was being lost, they had a notes day where people from all across the company (including kitchen staff) got together to talk about issues and possible solutions.

I spent a number of years in a large library where departments were very separate--the children’s staff had a different work room than the adult services staff, which was different than circ, etc. Since switching systems, I’ve been at branches, which are smaller. At my last branch, only 1 person could physically be on the desk at a time, so they did reference and circ, and helped people of all ages. There’s much more fluidity between departments because that’s how we need to function. I love it. We all have the areas we specialize in, but we all have our fingers in other things, which makes us understand each other a lot better, and we have a bigger pool of people to bounce ideas off, because even if it’s not their department, they know the basics of your resources and constrictions. It doesn’t always work and it’s not always good, BUT one of things I really want to do as a manager is foster this type of cross team collaboration and minimize some of the us vs. them dynamic that I often see in libraries that can get really poisonous really quickly. And this is where Creativity, Inc. really spoke to me, both with ideas on how to nurture this, but in just reaffirming its great importance. (And, here I’m going to plug my friend Rachel’s new blog, Constructive Summer: Building the Unified Library Scene which is about this very thing)

So, overall, obviously, I loved this book. I found a lot of inspiration, but it was also just a fun read (let’s face it, when your examples are about making Toy Story, I will find it more engaging than an example about making a car.) Also, the Afterword: The Steve We Knew made me cry, which was embarrassing, because I was on the bus. Steve Jobs (owner of Pixar) came up frequently in the bulk of the book, but the afterword really looked at his role, but more importantly was Catmull talking about a friend who died. Catmull really looks at the biographical books and articles about Steve and talks about how they jived and did not jive with the person he knew. As someone who’s read Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different a countless number of times, it was really interesting to see some of the big points directly rebutted.


Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

0 Comments on Creativity, Inc. as of 9/10/2014 10:12:00 AM
Add a Comment
15. Tween Hobo: Off the Rails

Tween Hobo: Off the Rails Alena Smith, illustrated by Kate Harmer

Based on the twitter account, Tween Hobo documents the adventures of a modern 13-year-old riding the rails with depression-era hobo stereotypes.

Unlike the twitter account, there’s a basic plot-- Tween Hobo’s parents are pretty absent, her brother’s in California in some place called “rehab” and she needs to know what’s going on. When she learns that her teacher’s brother is a hobo, she’s inspired and off she goes to California to get answers about her brother. She live tweets/blogs her adventures and is adopted by a band of hobos who are what you think of when you think of Depression hobos. It all stays light and funny as they try to find work, perfect their bean recipes, and look for free wifi. It often mocks tween culture, but it’s obviously from a place of love and “I was totally like this when I was that age.” Lots of tweets, lots of pictures, lots of random other lists and things about life on the rails.

Although the joke occasionally wears thin, it was pretty enjoyable and funny. I liked tween hobo’s upbeat, can-do attitude and the way she never realized her adventures and life choice were bat-shit crazy insane. Plus, Hot Johnny Two-Cakes is just plain hottt.

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

0 Comments on Tween Hobo: Off the Rails as of 9/3/2014 9:08:00 AM
Add a Comment
16. Unwritten: The Wound

The Unwritten, Vol. 7: The Wound Mike Carey and Peter Gross

We start with the Tinker and Pauly-Rabbit hanging out in a wasteland, encountering streams of fictional refugees, streaming from The Wave.

Then we switch to a detective in Australia, who partners up with Danny--the reader from the last issue in Tommy Taylor and the War of Words--to infiltrate the Tommy Taylor cult. Tom and Richie then go hide out and deal with some very real ghosts in Tom’s past.

This is a good “must set up next plot point” volume, but nothing spectacular. EXCEPT that it introduces us to Danny and Didge (the detective), and they are awesome and great additions. (Also, let’s give a shout to Didge, who’s Aboriginal and dyslexic. Turns out dyslexia is a pretty great defense against Pullman’s freaky fiction hand! Also, she’s generally awesome and literally kicks a lot of ass.)

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

0 Comments on Unwritten: The Wound as of 9/2/2014 10:38:00 AM
Add a Comment
17. The First 90 Days

The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter, Updated and Expanded Michael D. Watkins

I picked this up because Jessica Olin recommended it on Twitter as a follow up to her ALA panel on leadership, What I Really Want To Do Is Direct. If you don’t know, last September I made the leap from librarian to branch manager and in June, I transferred to a much bigger branch in our system.

Basically, the book looks what leaders need to do in the first 90 days (with some groundwork to lay before you start) at a new job, whether you’re new to the organization, new to the department, or just in a new role. It helps ease you into a new role to be successful, and to be successful relatively quickly.

One thing I really appreciated was how practical it was. Instead of being full of blithe platitudes, it was full of stuff like “you need to talk to your supervisor about x, y, and z. You need to talk to all of your direct reports about a, b, and c. You need to map out these 6 things.” Parts of it are a bit jargony, but explained well, and do give a useful framework to think and discuss certain things. It includes a lot of charts to fill in to help you think about the things he says you need to be thinking about.

He really stresses taking the time to learn different things (and he tells you what you need to learn) before you hit the ground running, to make sure you’re focusing on the right things for greatest impact and that you’re doing it in a way that’s most likely to succeed without burning bridges that shouldn’t be burned. It’s just extremely helpful and doable.

While its focus tends to be on high-level private sector/corporate transitions, the overall issues and Watkins instructions scale down and transfer pretty well, even to a public library. (I see he also has one on government jobs, but I haven’t read it and can’t comment on if it’s more applicable.)

I liked that the final chapter was about how professional transitions mean personal transitions, too, and working with your family and other people in your personal life to ease everything.

It also gets points for gender-inclusivity--the examples of new managers were evenly split between men and women, and when it talks about dealing with your new boss, the pronouns switch from he/him to she/her every other section.

Overall, it was really helpful, and I highly recommend that people transitioning into a new role read it, but preferably a month or two BEFORE the transition actually happens. I finished it on day 30, and while I still got a lot out of it, I would have gotten even more if I had finished it on day -30.


Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

0 Comments on The First 90 Days as of 9/1/2014 11:47:00 AM
Add a Comment
18. Tommy Taylor and the War of Words

The Unwritten Vol. 6: Tommy Taylor and the War of Words Mike Carey and Peter Gross

Tommy’s coming for the Cabal, but they’re not sure how to prepare for him. Pullman has some ideas, but no one wants to listen to him. We get A LOT of Pullman backstory here. He’s been the Cabal’s thug for millennia. Lots of exploits to cover. There’s even an entire issue of Pullman in Gilgamesh. Plus, we find out who/what Pullman is, exactly (although it’s already been heavily hinted at.) Also, some important backstory with Wilson and Mme. Rauch.

This is a much larger omnibus, and we also have the final showdown between Pullman and Tommy, and the results are… not good. (Setting up the next chapter in the overall story.)

We end with the story of one of the Cabal’s readers--how he got involved and his role in everything, even as a completely insignificant player.

This is where the series really drives home the point about story and how we use story in our lives, and the power story holds in our world.

I loved seeing Pullman through the ages--especially with Gilgamesh and how the art style changed depending on the time period. I think that’s another thing this series does really well--changing the art as things shift. Different time periods, different book, all have art that fits with that story, which is different art than the main story we’re telling. Very cool.

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

0 Comments on Tommy Taylor and the War of Words as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
19. Hollywood Sisters: Caught on Tape

Here's another reprinted review from the much-missed Edge of the Forest

The Hollywood Sisters: Caught on Tape Mary Wilcox

Life in Hollywood can be crazy, but for Jessica Ortiz, it’s not tabloid party-girl crazy. In this third installment of The Hollywood Sisters, Jess’s romantic complications continue, an overzealous tour company is eluding the police, plus there’s always drama on the set, and not just the scripted kind.

Jess’s TV star sister, Eva, has decided that, in order to speed things up on the Jeremy front, it’s time for fake-boyfriend Heathcliff to appear in person. Only she cast the brother of Jess’s creepy ex-boyfriend.

Not only has the Golden Tours bus company figured out where the Ortiz’s live, they’ve been pulling into the driveway! And it’s not just the Ortiz’s house—somehow this tour group even knows when gated houses are open, and always when the police are on the other side of the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, on the set, Lavender’s ex-boyfriend is pulling some very nasty, and very public, practical jokes on her. Jess knows it’s Murphy, but how is he getting onto the set? And how will she find out when she’s spending all of her time avoiding this week’s Very Special Guest Star?

A light, quick read, Caught on Tape shows the craziness of life in Hollywood, while featuring well-grounded characters that non-starlets can identify with. Jessica solves mysteries through observation and quick thinking. I also appreciate that her frequent poems read like they were written by the teenager she is. Overall, Hollywood Sisters is a very entertaining and fun series for tweens and teens.


Book Provided by... The Edge of the Forest, for review

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

0 Comments on Hollywood Sisters: Caught on Tape as of 8/12/2014 11:14:00 AM
Add a Comment
20. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Last Gleaming

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight Volume 8: Last Gleaming Joss Whedon, Georges Jeanty, Scott Allie

So, Twilight would have been a logical conclusion to the season, but no, this one’s all about consequences, so it takes a bit of a left turn here in a way that actually works.

So, Buffy and Angel can never just be happy--no when they had superpower sex they created an entire universe, and Buffy then abandoned it to return to Earth. But nature, even on other planes, abhors a vacuum and, well, there are consequences to creating a universe, and there are consequences to abandoning it. It all ties back to the seed of wonder--the root of magic on Earth that turns out is physical object… and it’s in Sunnydale.

The question is what to do with it--protect it? Destroy it? Give it away? The gang goes back to the beginning--back to Sunnydale and back to the Protector, who is an awesome bit of “casting” on the part of Whedon et. al. Some very nice parallels with the beginning of the series (and by that, I mean the first season that was on TV beginning of the series).

And of course, at the end of Twilight, we had Spike show up in a goddamned spaceship piloted by giant cockroaches because OF COURSE SPIKE NOW HAS A GODDAMNED SPACESHIP PILOTED BY GIANT COCKROACHES. (This makes me joyously happy, both for the WTF?! factor, but also because I just love Spike. Who doesn’t love Blondey-Bear?)

Things never go right in Sunnydale, and what happens there is devastating on so many levels, making it surprisingly satisfying end to the season, and perfectly setting up the Angel & Faith spinoff.

And oh man, I thought this season dealt well with the consequences of creating a slayer army? There are MAJOR consequences to what goes down in Sunnydale--ones that are going to haunt Buffy & Co. for a long, long time.

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

0 Comments on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Last Gleaming as of 8/13/2014 10:02:00 AM
Add a Comment
21. Steal Like an Artist

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative Austin Kleon

Who ever had this one checked out before me left a some sticky arrows in the front cover, which was good, because I ended up using them.

This book is a short read--lots of graphics, fun typography, and white space, with some good advice about how to be creative and make your art.

Kleon’s basic point is that nothing is new anymore, so steal inspiration from things you enjoy. As he reminds us, even the Beatles started as a cover band. Also, if you steal from 1 person, that’s plagiarism. Stealing from many is research.

He tells the reader to think about the flaws you see in your favorite artists work--what could have been done differently? If they were still alive, what would they make today? If your 5 favorite artists got together and made something, what would it be? And then he tells us to go make those things.

I also like that he tells us to give our secrets away. Part of it is building a name for yourself, but he also reminds us that Martha Stewart built an empire on telling the world how she does stuff.

It was a great read and well-designed, with a lot of advice and inspiration on how to go out and make art. I really loved it and now I need my own copy to mark up and reread on a regular basis.

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

0 Comments on Steal Like an Artist as of 8/14/2014 11:56:00 AM
Add a Comment
22. Unwritten: On To Genesis

The Unwritten Vol. 5: On to Genesis Mike Carey and Peter Gross

Back story time! Through some fairly fun hijinks (involving explosions, the Cabal, and Madame Rauch), we see more of what Wilson Taylor was up to, both in the time before Tommy Taylor, but also in how he raised Tom and Lizzie. And the Cabal kicks its game up a notch.

So it doesn’t do much to develop overall plot, but it continues to answer some questions, and the back story is awesomely f-ed up. I like it involves comics-as-literature, and I like the introduction of The Tinker--an old-timey over-the-top superhero. It answers A LOT of questions and raises even more as the world and plot really start to make sense.

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

0 Comments on Unwritten: On To Genesis as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
23. Orange is the New Black

Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison Piper Kerman

Piper used to run drug money for her then-girlfriend. 4 years after she got out of the game (when the girlfriend asked her to start running drugs, too) she was arrested. They also charged her with conspiracy and was subject to harsh mandatory minimum laws, so she plead guilty to hope for leniency at sentencing. She then waited. The US wanted to try the head of the operation, but needed to extradite him and wanted Kerman to testify against him as a civilian, not a prisoner. 6 years after pleading guilty, Kerman was sentenced to 15 months in minimum security.

This memoir focuses a bit on her life before Danbury, but mostly looks at her year in prison and what she learned about herself, the institution, and the societal and political structures we have in place to keep landing people there. Kerman does not have a lot of sympathy for our drug sentencing laws--especially the prosecutorial catch-all of the conspiracy charge. She knows how lucky she was in having the resources to have good legal counsel and saw many, many, many women who did a lot less than she did go down for a lot more time.

It is pretty eye-opening to the realities of the prison system--how it sets people up to fail, how it doesn’t actually fix our issues, but also the camaraderie underneath as people turn to each other to build family and support mechanisms in order to survive (mostly emotionally, though a bit physically).

One thing I appreciate about Kerman is she never denies that she did wrong. She never says she didn’t deserve to go to prison. In fact, it was in prison that she finally came face-to-face with the realities of the drug trade--not the people who go down for being in it, but the addicts and the what addiction does to people, families, and communities. And she doesn’t turn away from facing it and dealing with her shame and guilt (both moral and legal) head-on.

It’s an easy read, written in short sections and vignettes, part personal story, part character sketches of the people and scenes around her. The pacing works really well to move it ahead quickly. That said, it would benefit from tighter editing. I think many were originally written as a series of essays, and so some characters are introduced with the exact same language multiple times while others show up out of left field with no context given.

But, let’s be honest--I picked this up because I’m a fan of the show and wanted to check out the source material. So, how does the book compare? Well, book-Piper has a much better head on her shoulders than TV-Piper. She’s much more aware of her privilege and also knows how to keep her head down to avoid trouble and extra time. I often want to smack TV-Piper up against the head with a clue-stick when it comes to socioeconomic issues, but not so much with book-Piper (but, book-Piper also has the benefit of hindsight). Book-Larry is also much more together than TV-Larry.

Also, not surprisingly, there is a lot less drama in the book than the show. While Piper does eventually come face-to-face with her ex-girlfriend, it’s not until the end, and there are no lingering attraction issues. We also don’t get a good look at many of the other women in Danbury with Piper. Some of the nicknames are the same (Pennsatucky, Big Boo, and Delicious instead of Tastee) but they don’t have backstories and often the personalities we see on screen are nothing like the glimpses we see in the book. Other characters don’t have names, but you see some character traits to make them recognizable (such as the Russian kitchen boss, or the strict, older bunkmate, the aging hippie who teaches yoga and the activist nun) but the stories aren’t quite the same. On the reasons is in prison, you don’t ask, so Kerman just didn’t know the backstory of a lot of her fellow inmates.

I do recommend it to most people, but especially fans of the show. It’s fascinating and a fun read that doesn’t bog down, despite the repetition issues I mention above. Also, if you do watch the show, it’s really interesting to see which parts are TV and which parts are actually true.


Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

0 Comments on Orange is the New Black as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
24. All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel Anthony Doerr

This book guys, oh this book.

It starts in Saint Malo, with the Allied bombing. Hiding in her house is Marie-Laure, 16 and blind. Hiding in a basement with the rest of his unit is Werner, 18 and a German soldier. It then jumps back to Marie-Laure growing up with her father in Paris, losing her eyesight, spending her days in the Museum of Natural History where her father works. It jumps back to Werner, growing up with his sister Jutta in a children’s home, destined at 15 to go work in the same mines that killed his father, until his skills with radios and mechanics mark him for something greater.

It occasionally flashes forward to the “now” of the bombing and for the most part alternates between their two stories. Occasionally other stories interrupt. There is a storied diamond, spirited away from the museum before the invasion that the Nazis are looking for and Marie-Laure may or may not have. There is Jutta in the children’s home. There is the after. There is Marie-Laure reading 10000 Leagues Under the Sea in Braille, her uncle who hasn’t left the house since returning from WWI. There is Werner trying to survive the Nazi Youth academy. Huddled with his sister and his short-wave radio, listening to a French professor broadcasting science lessons to children. There is the resistance--Marie-Laure helping it, Werner tracking it and ending it.

The chapters are short--usually only a few pages, but the writing is so magical. I love Doerr’s rhythm. Each sentence is perfect. Most of them are short, like the chapters, but contain so much. I like that, despite the dual stories and occasional jump in time, it’s a fairly straight forward story, but perfectly executed. This is one of the best, if not THE best book I’ve read this year, maybe longer. It’s not the story is mind-blowing (although the story is very good) but just the language and rhythm and overall, such perfect writing. I wanted to show you some, but individual sentences don't stand out, it's how it all adds up.

Such, such perfect writing.

This book guys, oh this book.

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

0 Comments on All the Light We Cannot See as of 8/26/2014 9:53:00 AM
Add a Comment
25. Duchessina

Here's a post that originally ran in the now-defunct Edge of the Forest

Duchessina: A Novel of Catherine de' Medici Carolyn Meyer

Catherine de’Medici is mostly known as the power behind the throne during the reigns of her ineffective sons, the kings of France. History has also placed her with the blame of the St. Bartholomew’s massacre in which over two thousand Huguenots were killed. Not much is known about the early life of Catherine de’Medici, beyond her use as a pawn in various Florentine power struggles.

In this latest installment in her Young Royals series, Carolyn Meyer’s imagination fills in the gaps in her story. Orphaned as an infant, she is known as Duchessina, the little Duchess after her duchy in Urbino. She grows up in Florence, in the Plaza de Medici under the watchful eye of her cardinal uncle, the future Pope Clement VII. After her guardian uncle assumes the pontificate, Italy is plunged into several wars against the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. Catherine is eight at the time and does not completely understand the political machinations at play as the citizens of Florence take the excuse to reassert their independence from Medici rule. Catherine is taken as a war hostage and sent to an anti-Medici convent. She then changes convents from time to time as the turmoil mounts and recedes. Eventually, Catherine is taken to Rome to be with the Pope as he arranges her marriage to the French dauphin.

Once in France, Catherine’s life does not become easier. It is obvious her new husband’s affections lie elsewhere. But, with the skills she has learned, she makes a place for herself.

This is an exciting tale with historic splendor, adventure, love, and true friendship. Unfortunately, the historical notes at the end act mainly as an epilogue to her life, not as illuminating background information to the events of the book. During the Italian Wars, the young Catherine does not fully understand the political maneuverings at play, and as she is the narrator, neither does the reader. Also, there is nothing to let the reader know which details of the story are fact, and which sprung from Meyer’s mind. It is also interesting to note that Catherine’s speaking voice is the same at the age of three as it is as an adult.

(note-- I did go an read an adult biography of her, Leonie Frieda's Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France, which I reviewed here in 2007)


Book Provided by... The Edge of the Forest, for review

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

0 Comments on Duchessina as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts