Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Lord Loss: The Demonata by Darren Shan

Well, I had to read this one before I put it on the shelf for the students! The whole demon on the cover scared me a bit. But, it's typical Darren Shan, who is best known for his Cirque du Freak series. The book is a little gory, a little fantasy, and not very scary.

Grubbs Grady is horrible to his family, but he actually misses them after they are torn apart by demons one night. He has to live with his Uncle Dervish, who is rich and lives in a Gothic mansion. (of course). Grubbs befriends Bill-E Spleen and they believe that Uncle Dervish is a werewolf and set off to prove it. Eventually there is a "killer" chess tournament with Uncle Dervish, Grubbs, Lord Loss, and some familiars. This is book one in the series, but I don't think I'll be purchasing the rest. Interlibrary loan might have to satisfy readers of this poorly written horror tale.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot

Here's another fluff CD that I just had to listen to! And I have the sequel in my car, so I'll be writing about it soon, too.

Meg Cabot is best known for her young adult novels in The Princess Diaries and The Mediator series. Her adult fiction is pretty good, too.

Lizzie Nichols just almost graduated from college (she forgot to do her thesis) with a degree in History of Fashion. She fell in love the night her dorm caught one fire, when a handsome British boy rescued her from the showers. Three months later, she's on a plane to London, hoping to rejoin her perfect boyfriend. But, he's not perfect. He wears a hideous red leather jacket with epaulets. He wants to "borrow" $500 from her. He lives with his parents and she has to sleep in a loft bed above the washer and dryer. So she leaves. Her best friend is staying in France for a few weeks, working at a chateau that specializes in weddings. Lizzie fits right in and falls in love. Again. This time with a French/American man who secretly dreams of being a doctor. Will the relationship work out? Will her big mouth get her into more trouble? Will she ever learn to keep her mouth shut?

Hapa Girl by May-Lee Chai

This adult memoir is a little bitter and I'm not all that thrilled that I read it. Chai is 1/2 Chinese and 1/2 Caucasian. She had an ideal childhood in California until she moved to South Dakota and encountered racism. She was teased, her dogs were shot, and the locals made their lives miserable. Yep, they did. And she used grades and her smarts to last her throughout high school. But, I thought she was awfully whiny.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tantalizing Tidbits for Teens 2 : More Quick Booktalks for the Busy High School Library Media Specialist by Ruth Cox-Clark

That's right. Librarians have their own professional books. In fact, we pretty much have our own publisher, Linworth Books. I reviewed this professional resource for VOYA and gave it a pretty positive review. Is it for high school kids? Nope. But it's great for librarians who don't have time to read. Of course, I'm old school. I actually think that librarians should ONLY book talk books they have read--what a concept! But, I know some people don't want to make the time to read. Obviously, I think that being a librarian means that you have to read. A lot. Often. Quickly. and Love it. I'm glad I do!

The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer

This is one of the best books about the Persian Gulf region I've read in a long time! And, lately, it seems like the publishing houses keep publishing books about Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, so I've read a lot of them. Why did I like this one? It's quietly good. It's not a WOW book, but, after finishing it, I thought, "Hmmmm, that's pretty good."
The adult novel follows the path of Isaac Amin and his family. Isaac is a wealthy gem dealer who is arrested suddenly and put into prison. He is suspected of being a spy, but really the new government just wants his money, his houses, and his gems. So Isaac is tortured for several months until he finally gives them all the money in his bank accounts. In the meantime, we learn that his young daughter is trying to do her part and stealing files from her girlfriend's basement. Isaac's only son is going to college and drawing closer to his Jewish faith by falling in love with a Hassidic Jewish girl. Through it all, the family grows stronger. Isaac arranges for his family to be smuggled out of Iran and the novel quietly ends.

Monday, October 22, 2007

In Secret Service by Mitch Silver

Any audiobook about James Bond is something I want to listen to, and this adult novel had an interesting twist. Amy Greenberg, a professor in America, is sent to Ireland to pick up a package that her dead grandfather left her in his will. She finds out that it is an unpublished manuscript written by James Bonds' creator, Ian Fleming. Amy knows that the manuscript is valuable, but she doesn't believe HOW valuable until people start dying around her. Someone is after her. Well, several people are after her. And she doesn't know who. Who doesn't want the manuscript published? the Irish? the Royal Family? Americans? and how is she going to escape the men who are after her?

Envious Moon by Thomas Christopher Greene

Don't be deceived by the cover of this adult suspense novel. It's not a sexy book--not at all. Anthony is a Portuguese fisherman who lives in Galilee, Rhode Island. He's not a criminal, yet he tries to steal an envelope of money from a rich dead lady's house, and inadvertently kills a man in a struggle. While the struggle ensues, he sees a lovely young woman, Hannah, and falls in love. While hiding from the cops who keep asking questions, Anthony meets Hannah and they fall in love and spend some glorious weeks together. But then things start happening. And we start finding out some strange things about Anthony. And we learn that Anthony isn't the most reliable narrator.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Resurrection Blues by Mike Tanner

This young adult novel was just what the cover promised--a gritty, realistic look at a Canadian teenager in a band. Flynn is a guitar player, and a darn good one. He drops out of school to tour with the Sawyers, a local band that is trying to make it big. He's the youngest in the band and has to face a lot of problems while on tour. The other guys in the band are typical bad band members--selfish, drug and alcohol addicted, and lacking in morals. Flynn gets caught up in the whirlwind and ends up losing his high school girlfriend AND a woman he wanted. Flynn isn't sure he wants to grow up, and idolizes his Uncle Ray who drops in occasionally and teaches Flynn some basic guitar moves. But Uncle Ray isn't what Flynn thought. And neither is his girlfriend. And neither are the other band members. This is quite the coming of age story.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

How to Talk to a Widower by Jonathan Tropper

Sometimes librarians need to read fluff, too. And this is fulfilled my need for mindless, funny entertainment. It's definitely not something I'll buy for the high school, but this audiobook was a good change of pace for me.

Doug Parker is a widower and still grieving for his wife of three years. He's 29 and suddenly single again and doing a poor job of living. He has an affair, he "almost" tries to commit suicide and he ignores the problems the rest of his family is having. His twin sister is getting divorced AND is pregnant. His younger sister is marrying his ex-best friend. His father just had a stroke and his mother is popping pills to deal with it. Yet, the author makes this novel funny and the narrator does an excellent job telling the story. Doug Parker grows up, finally, at age 29.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Genghis: Birth of an Empire by Conn Iggulden

Oh, this one is good! I love reading awesome historical fiction. With this adult novel, I feel like I know why and how Genghis Khan became the great leader of the Mongols. This novel tracks his comfortable childhood and how he was trained with his brothers to be fearsome and powerful. But then his father is murdered and his father's best friend takes over the Wolves clan and leaves Genghis' family to starve and freeze.
But they survive. Temujin (who later calls himself Genghis) starts small and slowly gathers warriors to him. He is a powerful leader, ruthless and loyal. And smart.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

This book won the2006 Printz Award from the American Library Association, which means it's the best book in young adult literature from that year. Hmmmmm. I agree that it's good, but I'm not sure that it's the best. It's different, yes. And maybe they wanted a graphic novel to win the award. But I'm not sure I agree that it's the BEST thing that came out of 2006 young adult literature.

Basically it's about a young Chinese American boy who isn't quite sure about his identity. Should he act like he's Chinese? or ignore his heritage? Should he date white girls? and put up with the bullying in his mostly white school? Interspersed with this tale is the tale of the monkey king, which I had never heard of before reading this book. But the two tales combine well and make for a great tale. Is it the best of the year? Maybe. Maybe not.

Past Perfect by Susan Isaacs

I listened to this audiobook and was pleasantly entertained. This is your typical spy girl light adventure.

Katie used to have a desk job at the CIA and was fired for no reason. Fifteen years later, she still wonders why she lost her job. But now she successfully is a writer for the Spy Guys television series and gets wrapped up in a CIA mystery. Her old colleague at the CIA calls her and then disappears mysteriously. So Katie gets sucked into the web of finding her old CIA coworker Lisa. The the intrigue begins. Throw in some ex-East German Secret Police members, a few murders, and mysterious deaths, and you have yourself a mystery!

The Lost Diary of Don Juan: An Account of the True Arts of Passion and the Perilous Adventure of Love by Douglas Carlton Adams

I totally agree with the Library Journal review on this one! Too many words and nothing really more than a poorly written smut book. And there wasn't even very much smut!

I definitely won't be buying this adult romance for the high school library.

We all know who Don Juan is, and this historical novel recreates his possible life. Why did he romance women? And how did he become that way? This attempts to tell his story. I stopped after page 75.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Can I Keep My Jersey? 11 Teams, 5 Countries, and 4 Years in My Life as a Basketball Vagabond by Paul Shirley

I admit it. I didn't finish this autobiography. I got about 50 pages in and had to stop. Now, trust me, I like basketball, and I found some parts of this book interesting. The whole concept of trying out for NBA teams was new to me. You always hear about the superstars who have everyone begging for them, but you don't hear about the great players who are considered "great" in the NBA. So that part was fascinating. But I found Shirley's writing to be rather bitter. He was a great writer, but I just didn't get sucked into the book. And for me to read a memoir, I have to be drawn in.

The Song of Kahunsha by Anosh Irani

Oh, boy, this was rough to read. I knew things were bad for orphans in India. But this was tough. Chamdi is an orphan in Bombay. When he finds out that his orphanage is closing, he runs away. And, oh, the life on the streets is horrible. Within three days, a friend dies a brutal death, he is planning on stealing from a church, he starves, and he falls in love with another homeless girl. He sees people with no arms and no legs who are forced to serve as spies for the local thug. He almost has his tongue cut off. He gives up on ever finding his father who left him at the orphanage. Yet he doesn't stop dreaming of a better life.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Skin by Ted Dekker

This adult suspense novel was great at first. I was scared by page 100. I had to stop reading it at night so I could get to sleep. It was freaking me out. But then I kept reading. And I guessed the culprit. Which always stinks. I want to be surprised at the end of suspense novels. I really do. And it reminded me of Bad Monkeys at the end. But Bad Monkeys is soooo much better.

A cop, a brother and sister, and two visitors are thrown together in a small desert town. A tornado and a serial killer come together to kill tons of people. The FBI and cops can't catch him. The five strangers have to take care of him while doing what he says. What does the killer have against all of them? Why does the killer want revenge? And what are the mysterious implants in their brains?

My Side of the Story by Will Davis

This adult novel is Holden Caulfield-ish, just like the quote on the cover from Kirkus Reviews. But I won't be buying it for our high school. I really, really liked the cover art on this original paperback though. But, like a modern day Holden, the narrator cusses. A lot. And he's gay. So I don't think PHS is quite ready to have this book on its shelves.

The narrator, Jazz, is 16 and has a holy-roller sister. His parents just found out that he's gay because his sister told them that Jazz frequents the gay bar in town. His parents make him see a shrink. His best friend, Al (short for Alice) keeps getting him into trouble. To top it all off, Jazz runs into one of his teachers at the gay bar. Ewwww.

The narrator's voice was refreshing at first but got annoying about halfway through the novel. I was getting anything new out of the book. Thus the low rating.

Born on a Blue Day: A Memoir by Daniel Tammet

Wow. Daniel Tammet is one heck of a man. That's really all you can say about him. I look at the kids at our school with Asperger's and autism and differently after listening to this audiobook.
Daniel had a horrible childhood and no one understood his disease. He had no friends. He was misunderstood by everyone even though he is extremely gifted. Daniel is a savant. He memorized the number pi to 20,000+ digits to raise money for charity. He can learn a complicated language like Icelandic in a week. But Daniel is different. He can live independently with his partner. He can work full-time, although it's his own business that allows him to work from home. He can stay in a hotel by himself and fly on a airplane on his own without it being too traumatic. Even though he is an autistic savant, he has found a way to thrive in our society. This is his story.