Monday, March 26, 2007
Thursday, March 22, 2007
This one won the Carnegie Medal because it "is a powerful and moving story that cleverly connects the present with the past." Oh, my, does it! I LOVED it. I couldn't put it down. All 424 pages of it. The suspense is unbelievable. I thought I knew what happened. Well, kind of. But the ending still took me by surprise. The bitterness of the son. The easy forgiveness of the granddaughter, Tamar.
The book goes back and forth between the 1940s and modern day. In the 40's, Tamar and Dart are two Dutchmen who went to Britain, became undercover agents, and parachuted into the Netherlands to help the Dutch Resistance against the Nazis. While I read many books about the Dutch Resistance, this one tops them all. I was obsessed with reading the parts of the book that took place in the 1940s. All the details about secret codes and run-ins with Nazis. The murders and the consequences. The renegades of the Dutch resistance and the people who tried to keep them under control. And there were so many Dutch who helped with the resistance. Normal people who risked their lives to save other people.
But this isn't just a war book. It's a love story. Tamar is in love with Marijke. Then Dart meets her and falls in love with her, too. What a love triangle this forms and their actions form the plot of the novel. The modern day story has Tamar, a teenage girl, trying to find out about her dead granddad and her grandmother, Marijke, who is in the nursing home with dementia. The two stories combine with such force.
The ending was slightly disappointing to me for some reason and I 'm not sure why. I liked the modern story ending, but Tamar and Dart's story jaded me a bit. Maybe I was disappointed in what happened and that caused me to not like the ending. I'm not sure. But I do know that this novel is one of the best historical fiction novels I've ever read. I know I'll nominate this one for the next Abe award.
Monday, March 19, 2007
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Holy smokes! What a great cover on this one! This is the sequel to Finding Lubchenko, one of my favorite "guy" books. I wasn't as impressed with this one, but Simmons still writes a great adventure story. You have to love Evan Macalister. He's quirky, great-looking (he tells you), intelligent, lazy, and loves to make his dad's life a living you-know-what. Evan's dad is rich and makes millions off the smallpox vaccine. The problem is that bad people keep trying to steal the smallpox strain to create biological weapons. In the first book, Evan saves the day. In this one, Lubchenko (the mysterious CIA-like dude in France) saves them, and Evan saves his dad's life without his dad finding out. Evan has a great relationship with his girlfriend and her one-liners are great. She really puts Evan in his place, especially the scene where they are at a topless beach in southern France. She's hilarious. I will still recommend this one to the readers of Finding Lubchenko. It ought to stay off my shelves.
This is one adult novel that should have been marketed as a young adult one. Really, it's YA lit. I don't know what Harper was thinking.
Polly is a teenager full of angst and the novel is divided into the names of the men in her life. She dates some real losers, probably because her real dad is off drinking himself silly and ignoring her. Her beautiful mother remarried when Polly was young, but it hits Polly really hard when her real dad disowns her so her step-father can adopt her. Polly is really into the punk rock scene in D.C. and spends her high school life going to concerts, drinking, and smoking. By the time she gets to Virginia Tech, she's settled down a bit, and after one fun and footloose semester, settles down into art and math. She works at the college radio station and even works at the Disney store in the mall when she's home over the summer. This is your typical coming-of-age bildungsroman story, but Polly does get raped by an acquaintance when she is home from college. She doesn't report it, but does end up telling her friends and her mother. She also has a turning point in her life when she realizes that her boyfriend is a loser. Hello! The readers know it, but it takes Polly awhile to see it.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Friday, March 9, 2007
Wow! It's been a long time since I've read an adult thriller like this one. It reminded me of early Stephen King, the Richard Bachman stuff. I was scared by page 40, and that's pretty good.
Judas is a a fifty-something aging rock star, living with a former stripper, who has made a lot of people angry in his life. Turns out the step-father of one of his former live-in's haunts him. His ex, Florida, committed suicide, and now the ghost of her dead step-father wants to make Judas kill himself and everyone around him. This is quite the psychological thriller. The stepfather was a sneaky hypnotist and almost every character in the novel has a hidden past. It took me two days to read this one because I didn't want to set it down. I am looking forward to reading his second novel.
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
This is a great one! Really, this could be used as a textbook in history classes. A lot of the information was repetitive for me since I already knew a lot about the Warsaw ghetto uprising. It started slowly, but, oh my, did it pick up in the middle. I didn't want to put it down until I finished. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I like this one better than Maus.
Yossel is a young boy when his family is placed in the Warsaw ghetto. He entertains the Nazis and the people around him because he is an artist. He can draw superheros and the horrors that are taking place around him. His family is taken to Auschwitz. People around him were starving. Then Yossel meets an old teacher of his who has escaped from a death camp. Yossel draws his story, and it is very powerful. The story ends with Yossel and his friends in a sewer under the ghetto, trapped, and ready to fight the Nazis. This story has been told so many times, but I really like this wonderfully drawn graphic novel. The pencil drawings are stark and even look incomplete in places. The paper feels like expensive drawing paper. Please read this one.
Monday, March 5, 2007
Bloody Jack: being an account of the curious adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, ship's boy by L.A. Meyer
I was pleasantly surprised by this one that I read for Abe. I thought I had read it before and not liked it, but I think I'm remembering some other pirate novel. I really liked this one! Mary Faber becomes an oprhan at a young age in London because sickness destroys her family. She falls in with a rough crowd of kids who teach her to beg, but her real skill of making money is having the ability to read. After the senseless death of her gang leader, she cuts her hair, and goes off to sea as a ship's boy. She's good at it. But, in her career as a ship's boy who earns her way to midshipman, she becomes a woman in more ways than one. Puberty hits and she has to hide all sorts of things from her shipmates. She falls in love with another shipboy who she reveals her sex to. She earns the nickname "Bloody Jack" because she kills a pirate during an attack, and kills a man who tries to rape her. Eventually, of course, everyone finds out that she is a girl, and the captain and crew (who respects her) arranges for her to go to an American school for girls. To find out what happens next, read the sequel!
Thursday, March 1, 2007
This 128 page book is a collection of sports short stories. I usually like this author, but I wasn't impressed by this collection. While the stories were intertwined, beginning with Ron when he's in 6th grade, and ending when he's winning the 2 mile at the state track meet, I didn't see the point of some of them. I thought the young Ron would turn off a lot of my high school readers. I know that I didn't like reading his petty thoughts that a junior high kid thinks. After reading the book, I just thought, "Humph." I'm not happy I read it. I didn't hate it, but I didn't like it either.