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  • fairrosa 10:25 am on July 15, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    Food Log 

    When I have a chance, this will be updated.
    Second day in Kunming, noon-ish

    Nothing really extraordinary to report. Had Er Kuai, a local favorite thin rice crepe, with choices of fillings. I got peanut sauce.

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    Hoping for the kind of traditional home made soy milk, I went to a small shop advertising freshly pressed soy milk. It turned out to be made with a blender:

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    It tastes OK though.

    Didn’t eat much while exploring the city on foot for another two hours until encountering deep fried various edibles with chili powder. I got lotus roots stuffed with sticky rice and oyster mushrooms. Each skewer is 2 renminbi = 30 cents. Here I am holding them… Truly delicious:
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    Back to Lost Garden around noon, and since I wanted to take advantage of sitting in the rooftop restaurant and writing and reading, I ordered the following for “lunch” given the lack of gluten free choices here: French fries, an egg and yogurt.

    First Day in Kunming

    Breakfast/lunch at the hostel.  Eggs bacon and small salad.

    As I roamed the streets, couldn’t help but buy and eat:

    A small bag of sunflower seeds, salted on the street in a huge sieve

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    Three bunches of beautiful green grapes, tasting exactly like what I remember from childhood, measured with old fashioned scale.

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    A hot sweet soup with shaved walnuts, dragon eye fruit, ginger, and red dates

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    A skewer of street lamb bone joints.

    Dinner is at a modern Japanese restaurant: cold sake with lemon, four sushi pieces with octopus and salmon, a pot of savory tofu soup…. This dinner cost me a whopping $12.50 USD.

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  • fairrosa 5:57 am on July 15, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    In Kunming, Yunnan, At Home 

    This really feels like home.  Mostly it reminds me of Taipei and a Taipei as I left it in late 80s: there is a energetic blend of the older and the newer.  Nothing is so ancient as to lose its connection to current life and nothing is too at the front of the world stage to feel absurd.  It feels just right.

    I have talked to a sixth grade girl at the airport: her favorite pastime is to stay in her room, playing classical music both western and Chinese as background for reading good books.

    The cab driver and I and a guy selling local specialty foodstuff are all from the same generation…within the same decade… Everything and everyone just feels familiar and easy going.

    The Green Lake Part 翠湖 proves to be highly enjoyable, clean and beautiful and family friendly.

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    • medinger 6:21 am on July 15, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      So happy for you!

      • fairrosa 6:55 am on July 15, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Can you share this on Facebook for me? Tag my name. Since I can’t make Facebook or Google work here at all. Thank goodness for WordPress.

  • fairrosa 5:52 am on July 15, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    In Kunming, Yunnan, At Home 

    This really feels like home.  Mostly it reminds me of Taipei and a Taipei as I left it in late 80s: there is a energetic blend of the older and the newer.  Nothing is so ancient as to lose its connection to current life and nothing is too at the front of the world stage to feel absurd.  It feels just right.

    I have talked to a sixth grade girl at the airport: her favorite pastime is to stay in her room, playing classical music both western and Chinese as background for reading good books.

    The cab driver and I and a guy selling local specialty foodstuff are all from the same generation…within the same decade… Everything and everyone just feels familiar and easy going.

    The Green Lake Part 翠湖 proves to be highly enjoyable, clean and beautiful and family friendly.

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  • fairrosa 5:21 pm on July 9, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    Finished Sinner and Glass Casket. Currently working on Complicit and Conversion. Both intriguing. Downloaded galleys and library ebooks: about 16 or so for the upcomin month long international travel reading needs. Hopefully will get a few of them done since two weeks of the travel will be mostly taken by scheduled course work.

     
  • fairrosa 12:20 pm on July 7, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    ALSC and its newly revised policy on members who serve on the committee 

    Over at Horn Book, Roger Sutton, the editor in chief, recently published an editorial that sparked a bit of a discussion and controversy over the January 2014 revised Policy for Service on Award Committees. This is a publicly accessible document that governs various aspects of members of such committees such as Sibert (for nonficiton,) Newbery (for text) and Caldecot (for illustrations) awards for American Children’s Books published each year. I posted quite a few comments there but decided also to add some thoughts here. One of my biggest concern as a long-time ALSC member (and former Newbery member twice over and Notable Children’s Books selection committee, among other non-book related committees) is how the Division itself “regards” its member body. The preamble of this document states:

    “ALSC affirms its confidence in the integrity of members who are invited to be nominated or appointed to serve on award committees, and in the integrity of the officers or nominating committees responsible for selecting candidates. Because of the nature of the work of such committees, those who serve on them must be especially sensitive to conflict of interest situations and the appearance of impropriety. The purpose of this policy is to clarify the eligibility and responsibility of candidates asked to serve on such committees.”

    To me, the first two sentences are antithesis to each other — I mentally translated these two sentences to: Great, the Division states first and foremost that IT trusts implicitly the integrity of ITS members (librarians, classroom teachers, reviewers, professors, etc.) and that they will behave professionally and with civility while they serve on these highly sought after committee posts (paying their own way to attend conferences and donating at least a whole year of their time to read and think and discuss the eligible titles). Oh-but wait wait, the second sentence negate all that was implied in the first sentence. It seems to be saying that “since you, the DIVISION’S members who have the privilege (as pointed out later in the document) to serve on such committees really don’t know how to behave using print or online media, you must be told exactly what you can and cannot do because, um…. we actually don’t trust you at all without spelling everything out and without putting a muzzle on all your opinion outlets (in this newly revised guideline, the outlets include blogs, twitter, official and professional signed reviews, etc.)

    In the older version of the document, it was pointed out that one can always express one’s personal opinions over eligible titles even while serving on the committee as long as one makes it amply clear that it’s a personal expression and the process is to be trusted — 15 people with 15 different opinions and affiliations and experiences tend to cancel out all the “personal” stuff and come to a communal decision that serves the public well. The new policy revision seems to me to put huge stock on a few people’s personal’s opinions and place little or no trust in the time-honored, although often seemingly mysterious, process of how Newbery, Caldecott, and other children’s book award winning titles are chosen.

    Just want to clarify: you’re still allowed to verbally express your personal opinions with your colleagues or friends or patrons — just never to publish them anywhere.

     
  • fairrosa 12:56 pm on July 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    Realized that All the Bright Places won’t be published until January ’15! Have to stop reading it and moved on to something different: Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater which just came out a couple of days ago. And also finishing Glass Casket.

     
  • fairrosa 1:53 pm on July 2, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    I had the most fun in Las Vegas with the Best Fiction for Young Adults (BFYA) committee — discussing books in an intellectually invigorating and extremely civilized fashion. Here’s the list of titles we delved quite deeply into:

    Alexander, Kwame
    Almond, David
    Anderson, Laurie Halse
    Armentrout, Jennifer
    Bedford, Martyn
    Blankman, Anne
    Brown, Jennifer
    Brown, Skila
    Burgess, Melvin
    Carleson, J.C.
    Colbert, Brandy
    Combs, Sarah
    Dellaira, Ava
    Fredericks, Mariah
    Giles, Lamar
    Green, Sally
    Han, Jenny
    Hattemer, Kate
    Herbach, Geoff
    Hubbard, Jenny
    Johnston, E.K.
    Kephart, Beth
    Kiely, Brendan
    LaCour, Nina
    Lockhart, E.
    Maciel, Amanda
    Oliver, Lauren
    Paige, Danielle
    Philbrick, Rodman
    Reinhardt, Dana
    Reynolds, Jason
    Rutkoski, Marie
    Shepherd, Megan
    Shinoda, Anna
    Smith, Andrew
    Smith, Jennifer E.
    Smith, Lindsay
    Strasser, Todd
    Taylor, Laini
    Templeman, McCormick
    Venkatraman, Padma
    Vlahos, Len
    Waller, Sharon Biggs
    Walton, Leslye
    Whaley, John Corey
    Crossover
    The True Tale of Monster Billy Dean
    The Impossible Knife of Memory
    Don’t Look Back: You Won’t Like What You Find
    Never Ending
    Prisoner of Night and Fog
    Torn Away
    Caminar
    The Hit
    The Tyrant’s Daughter
    Pointe
    Breakfast Served Anytime
    Love Letters to the Dead
    Season of the Witch
    Fake ID
    Half Bad
    To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
    The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy
    Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders
    And We Stay
    The Story of Owen: Dragonslayer of Troneheim
    Going Over
    The Gospel of Winter
    Everything Leads to You
    We Were Liars
    Tease
    Panic
    Dorothy Must Die
    Zane and the Hurricane: A Story of Katrina
    We Are the Goldens
    When I Was the Greatest
    The Winner’s Curse
    Her Dark Curiosity
    Learning Not to Drown
    Grasshopper Jungle
    The Geography of You and Me
    Sekret
    No Place
    Dreams of Gods and Monsters
    The Glass Casket
    A Time to Dance
    The Scar Boys
    A Mad, Wicked Folly
    The Strange & Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
    Noggin

    On Saturday afternoon, local teens came and gave their feedback. The ones that got the most support are:

    Grasshopper Jungle, Tyrant’s Daughter, When I Was the Greatest, A Mad Wicked Folly, and Noggin.

    About half of the titles on the list received more than 9 YES votes at the informal straw poll. As a collective, even when we have drastically different opinions, all well substantiated, we should be able to offer the world a solid slate of high quality BEST FICTION of 2014 (BFYA 2015) in early February!

     
  • fairrosa 10:06 am on July 2, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    Currently reading: All the Bright Places by Jennnifer Niven (galley)

     
  • fairrosa 10:05 am on July 2, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    Since last update: finished — Tease, The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy, Never Ending, Crosscover, Prisoner of Night and Fog, Lover Letters to the Dead, Winner’s Curse, Going Over, The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim, Breakfast Served Anytime, Fake ID, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Gospel of Winer, We Are the Goldens, No Place, A Time to Dance, The Scar Boys, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

     
    • danaeleu 12:26 pm on July 2, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I wish I had thought to ask about Going Over. That is one of my absolute favorites of the year, but I’m seeing split opinions.

  • fairrosa 3:30 pm on June 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    Since last update: finished – Half Bad, Her Dark Curiosity, A Mad Wicked Folly, Caminar, Noggin, When I Was the Greatest, Torn Away, Don’t Look Back. Reading now: Tease and The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy

     
  • fairrosa 1:44 pm on June 7, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    Don’t have time to post detailed summaries about the books I’m reading — too many to catch up before Annual at Vegas. Finished: Dorothy Must Die, Fat Boy vs. the Cheearleaders, The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf, The Hit, Dreams of Gods and Monsters, Panic, The Tyrant’s Daughter.

    Currently reading: Her Dark Curiosity and Half Bad

     
  • fairrosa 9:52 pm on June 6, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    It dawned on me just now that this is the first ALA media evaluation committee that I have served that asks me to compare mostly apples to apples. The books are all written with a teen audience in mind, they are all fiction, with (for the most part) common elements such as characterization, thematic development, plotting and pacing, etc., and in some cases they are even telling the same stories. Both Newbery and Notable Children’s Books committees demanded the members to examine a wide range of different kinds of books and with developmentally diverse audiences. BFYA asks for something different.

    On the one hand, it can be tedious — especially because there are always trending or tried-and-true high concepts that turn many books into clones of each other — reading nothing but fiction titles for teens. On the other hand, it is a different kind of examination: very much like English Lit. classes or the Young Adult Lit. classes which I enjoyed tremendously in college and grad school. I can really sink my teeth deeply into figuring out why one author’s handling of a particular character is just more appealing or convincing or moving than the next author; how does one author pace the actions more effectively and keep the readers’ interest high while another author manages to lose the grip on her readers; and how consistent and appropriate a particular narrative device (present tense/police report/multiple perspectives/unreliable narrator/verses, etc.) is employed, etc.

    Too many books to read, too little time. But at least now I feel that I have a slight understanding of how I should approach all the reading henceforth.

     
    • DaNae 12:27 am on June 7, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Will your discussion be open to the masses in Vegas like at Midwinter?

  • fairrosa 10:15 am on May 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    I should not have been surprised but nonetheless am stunned at how many characters (in the recent YA books I have read) who are portrayed as beautiful/good looking/gorgeous/handsome/pretty whose first and often most prominently described feature is “blue eyes” or “green eyes” or any variations of these two colors (emerald, icy blue, baby blue, deep blue, deep lake, etc.) Enough that when I read about the beauty of a pair of dark brown eyes I let out an audible hoot!

     
  • fairrosa 10:10 am on May 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    The Impossible Knife of Memory 

    impossibleknifeby Laurie Halse Anderson

    Genre(s): Realistic Fiction

    Basic Content Information: Hayley has to deal with caring for her father (her mother died a while back and her father’s long term girlfriend left) when he gets deeper and deeper within the dark landscape of PTSD after tours in Iraq. At the same time, she falls in love with Finn whose sister is a drug addict that his parents pour all their energy on and leave no time for him, who is in the process of applying to college. Her best (and only) friend Gracie also has to deal with parental fallouts of her father cheating on her mother and shouting matches at home. With everyone around her having to take care of their own business, Hayley is quite left alone to handle the worsen conditions of her father. When a former comrade was killed in the war, Hayley’s father left the house and a desperate search and rescue mission (by the young people themselves) ensues.

    Edition: Hardcover

    Pub Date: January, 2014

    Publisher: Viking

    (I’m only recording the bare bone facts about the Young Adult Fiction titles I read in 2014 — Serving on the Best Fiction for Young Adults committee means that I need to be quite cautious in expressing opinions on social media. The safest way is to not express specific reactions publicly. But I’d like to keep reporting the titles I encounter throughout the year. You can always follow the link to Goodreads to see other readers’ reviews.)

    Click here for: Goodreads summary and other people’s reviews.

     
  • fairrosa 10:51 pm on May 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    And We Stay 

    andwestay by Jenny Hubbard

    Genre(s): Realistic Fiction, Poetry infused novel

    Basic Content Information: It is 1995. Emily had to leave her high school and her city due to the recent suicide in the school library of her ex-boyfriend after she told him that they were through -suicide by a hand gun he found in his grandmother’s drawer. Guilt ridden, Emily is sent to an all girls’ boarding school where the poet Emily Dickinson attended to “recover” from her nightmarish experiences. Emily was indeed named after the poet and she happens to be quite an accomplished poet — plenty of poems are included in the narrative. With the help of some understanding adults, the power of poetry, and some lucky coincidences, Emily eventually can see the light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Many teen issues are touched upon in the book: abortion, teen passion, kleptomania, suicides, depression, etc.

    Edition: Hardcover

    Pub Date: January, 2014

    Publisher: Delacorte Press

    (I’m only recording the bare bone facts about the Young Adult Fiction titles I read in 2014 — Serving on the Best Fiction for Young Adults committee means that I need to be quite cautious in expressing opinions on social media. The safest way is to not express specific reactions publicly. But I’d like to keep reporting the titles I encounter throughout the year. You can always follow the link to Goodreads to see other readers’ reviews.)

    Click here for: Goodreads summary and other people’s reviews.

     
  • fairrosa 10:35 pm on May 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean 

    truestory by David Almond

    Genre(s): Magical Realism(?) Fantasy(?) Parable(?) Horror(?)

    Basic Content Information: In less-learned spelling (some words are correct while others are wildly inaccurate,) we read the super-natural, fantastic, and intense life story of a semi-feral child after the bombing of his town when he was born and then locked up in a small room with is mother and visited occasionally by his father who turned out to be the priest who held power over Billy’s mother and many others. Billy Dean then was groomed and turned into a prophet who “telt” his own tale with vivid and sometimes grotesque and gory scenes in a time of raging wars around the world. A combination of naiveté and extreme clarity of how the world functions can be found time and time again in this telling.

    Edition: Hardcover

    Pub Date: January, 2014

    Publisher: Candlewick Press

    (I’m only recording the bare bone facts about the Young Adult Fiction titles I read in 2014 — Serving on the Best Fiction for Young Adults committee means that I need to be quite cautious in expressing opinions on social media. The safest way is to not express specific reactions publicly. But I’d like to keep reporting the titles I encounter throughout the year. You can always follow the link to Goodreads to see other readers’ reviews.)

    Click here for: Goodreads summary and other people’s reviews.

     
  • fairrosa 10:39 pm on May 7, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    Days of Blood and Starlight 

    daysofbloodandstarlightby Laini Taylor

    I should have read this a LONG time ago. Whoa, what powerful punches Laini Taylor manages to deal to the readers — over and over — so many surprises and things going just the opposite of what one expects. Lots of gore. Tortured romance. Amazing magical inventiveness. Just too much fun in one book. Should not be allowed! But, how happy I am to have read the second installment — and that I HAVE to read the 3rd book because it’s nominated by fellow BFYA members.  So excited.  But I’m reading another book, not yet nominated, first.  Can’t have all the goodies at once!

     
  • fairrosa 1:56 pm on April 12, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    Reading The Impossible Knife of Memory. I have not posted for more than a month — traveling back to Taiwan, re-reading stuff for a Quiz Show at school (Golden Compass, Wizard of Oz, Hobbit,) and recovering from jetlag and dealing with many special events at work — ALL great stuff, but preventing me from reading new YA’s which I really should have been doing. Definitely getting back on track now — And probably will not post too much 2015 BFYA here since there is an internal discussion board that’s wonderful and with intelligent and heated debate from my committee members and I’ll most likely be working THERE instead.

    For those of you who are interested in seeing the current BFYA Nominated List, go here: http://www.ala.org/yalsa/bfya-nominations. Some really great reads.

     
  • fairrosa 11:44 pm on March 1, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    Reading David Almond’s newest offering: The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean: telt by hisself.

     
  • fairrosa 12:59 pm on March 1, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    Don’t Even Think About It 

    Imageby Sarah Mlynowski 

    Genre(s): Sci-Fi (faux), Mystery, Realistic Fiction, Teen Romance

    Basic Content Information: New York City/Tribeca high end public school sophomores in one specific class all were accidentally infected by a “vaccine gone bad” and developed ESPs — they can hear other people’s thoughts and have internal dialogs with each other.  Social awkwardness ensue, romances broken up and formed, the discrepancies between the exterior and the hidden layers of expressions and thoughts are explored, and the sordid lives of the grown-ups are exposed: the school nurse who used to be a stripper, a father who has an affair, parents who use Viagara and go at it all night long, etc. Once or twice, we see a trustworthy adult.  The ending may or may not lead to a sequel.

    One of the 22 affected teens might be of Japanese descent.  The rest are all upper-middle or upper class whites — not entirely sure if it is in keeping with the neighborhood portrayed: Tribeca.  (I searched the NYC demographics data by zipcode, but since 10013 includes Chinatown – so almost half of the residents show up as Asian, and 10014 reaches into West Village and thus more than 90% European White.)  According to my husband who works in Tribeca, it is likely that this particular made-up public high school simply has more than 90% of white students. My experience in an upper east side intentionally diversified k-12 school with about half of the student body from families that are not exclusively European White is definitely different from what presented in this book.   

    Edition: NetGalley

    Pub Date: March 11, 2014

    Publisher: Delacorte/Random House

    (I’m only recording the bare bone facts about the Young Adult Fiction titles I read in 2014 without expressing personal opinions — as an experiment and a different discipline.  You can always follow the link to Goodreads to see other readers’ reviews.)

    Click here for: Goodreads summary and other people’s reviews.

     
    • DaNae 10:16 pm on March 1, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Yes, but did any of the 22 have an olive complexion? :)

      • fairrosa 11:36 pm on March 1, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Haha… no… here are some of the physical descriptions: “She had curly blond hair, big green eyes, a button nose, and a gymnast’s body.” – “Tess had wavy brown hair and brown eyes.” — “She had straight dark brown hair and pale skin.” — another boy has gray hair (early gray) and is the only openly gay kid in the school. George Marson is hot and has “Dark hair, dark skin.”- “He had light brown hair, almost blond, and big brown eyes.” — “Sadie had straight blood hair, a big smile, a waiflike body, and huge pale blue eyes.” — …”extremely pretty. She had shiny brown hair and big green eyes.” Pi Iamaura who might not be white is not physically described.

        • DaNae 10:57 am on March 2, 2014 Permalink | Reply

          So more waifs, gymnasts, and hot boys over actual diversity. Also maybe it should be acknowledged that if you happen to have green eyes it is a given they are big. And by big and we talking giant squid or Betty Davis?

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