Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Love Falls by Esther Freud

This adult novel started with such promise, but I was a little disappointed by the end, probably because I don't like the main character. She's a wuss.

Lara is seventeen and is invited by her mostly absentee father to Italy for the summer. She accepts because she wants to get to know her dad better. But she doesn't really like what she sees. Her dad isn't the marrying kind, but he's really good at sleeping with married women. And he doesn't seem to think that his daughter should care.

Lara is thrown into the world of rich kids. She falls in love with Kip (what a name) but it doesn't seem to be real love. In fact, hopefully he isn't her half-brother, since the rumor going around is that her father had an affair with his mother. And what about Roland, the creepy married guy who hits on Lara and everyone else constantly? He's handsome, but ewwwww......

Avalon High by Meg Cabot

I really needed this fluffy novel. Ellie (Elaine) had to go to Avalon High School this year because her two medieval professor parents are on sabbatical. She falls in love with Will, even though he has a girlfriend. Will's best friend Lance is having an affair with Jennifer, Will's girlfriend. Does this plot sound familiar? What if I told you that Will's first name is Arthur? That's right. This novel is a twist on Arthurian legend and really works. How does Ellie fit in? In the legend, she commits suicide because Lancelot doesn't love her. But Ellie can't stand Lance. So the story isn't going the way it's supposed to. And Mr. Morton, Ellie's English teacher, knows it. And don't forget about Marco, Will's evil step-brother.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Hero by Perry Moore

I'm so glad I finally got around to reading this cute novel! It's winning all sorts of awards and making it to the top of a lot of 2007 young adult book lists, and I totally understand why.

First, it's unlike anything I've ever read before. It's about a teenage boy who is the son of a disgraced superhero. Thom's dad allowed a tragedy to happen and was kicked out of the superhero League and Thom isn't allowed to talk about it. But Thom has recently found out that he has superpowers, too. Thom can heal. It might lead to a seizure, but Thom can heal broken bones and make sick people well. And, he can also knock out electrical power in a one mile radius, but he's working on controlling that part of his power. So, Thom is invited to try out for the League and he must keep it a secret from his dad. Make this his #2 secret. Because his first one is that Thom is gay and has always known it, but hasn't told his father. Kids at school know. And kids on the opposing team's basketball team know about it, but Thom doesn't have the guts to tell his dad.

So this is one heck of an action novel and has combinations of Superman and Spiderman and all the teenager angst and romance and embarrassment and everything that can be thrown into a good young adult novel. The author was the executive producer of the Chronicles of Narnia films, so he's multi-talented. I can't wait to read Perry Moore's next book!

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: a Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver with Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver

I went into this adult book with a definite bias. I'm the daughter of a staunch Republican corn and soybean farmer who listens to talk radio. I grew up ten miles from ADM and Staley's processing plants in Decatur, Illinois. And, horror of horrors, I vote Republican since I know my Libertarian vote only takes away from the Republicans.

So this isn't exactly the book for me. I struggled with it. Kingsolver is a great writer; we all know her novels are pretty good. But in this book she and her family promise to try to live off the land. They are concerned with the oil crisis and corn syrup and gas prices and food additives and everything else that I don't concern myself with. (Yes, that's a preposition I'm ending my sentence with) (again)

If you want to know where food comes from like all the other city folk out there or if you like shopping at farmer's markets and driving a hybrid, this book is for you. If you're like me, it isn't! :)

P.S. I don't like how she blamed the Arizona drought on global warming. Last I heard, it's because people aren't supposed to live in a desert. The land can't support the booming population and the desert is just getting dryer.

P.P.S. I can't wait to read the comments on this post!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

What a beautiful little book! And it's hard to describe. The town of Bascom, North Carolina, believes in magic although they don't really call it magic. Claire Waverly has inherited gifts from her grandmother, along with the Victorian house. She is a caterer, and her food can make people change. Herbs, vegetables, and flowers from her garden can influence the people who eat it. Even better, there is a magic apple tree in the backyard that is magic, too. But it isn't just the Waverlys. Other families live up to their names, too. The Clarks always marry older women. Evanelle is an old lady who always gives people things before they need them. This quiet magic makes the novel wonderful to read. The magic is subtle and weaves a little bit of fantasy into a great family tale. This adult novel has drama, romance, mystery, and a little bit of everything else thrown in. It's adorable and I fell in love with little Bay Waverly and Evanelle.

One for Sorrow by Christopher Barzak

This adult debut novel could have been published as a young adult title. But as I read it, I kept feeling like I had read it before and it's nagging at me to realize what books this reminds me off. I'm not sure. But it really feels like I've read something just like this before.

Adam is a 15 year old messed-up kid already. Then a kid in his class is murdered and his mother is involved in a hit-and-run and is paralyzed. This drives him over the edge. He sees the dead kid's ghost and meets other ghosts. He runs away. Twice. He meets a girl and they fall in love but he doesn't know what to do with love. He wanders around and hits bottom. Hard. Of course, he's redeemed at the end, but you wonder if he's going to make it.

The writing is Ya-ish, but I still want to know what this book reminds me off. Maybe I have just read so many books about dead kid's ghosts and mentally ill teens that they are all running together in my mind?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Mary Modern by Camille DeAngelis

DeAngelis created a first novel that made me think. Now, it wasn't the best adult novel I've read, but it was fairly interesting. Basically, Lucy can't have a child and wants one. Since she is a genetic researcher, she clones DNA from her grandmother's apron and creates a child. But the child comes out of the incubator as a 22 year old woman with her memories intact. Instead of living in the 1920s, she's in modern America and has to adjust. This book is a combination of sc-fi, romance, family drama, and religious/social inspection. I don't usually include quotes, but I'm going to for this one.

"When Lucy was a teenager, the fact that she could count the people who would die for her on a single finger used to send her into weeklong fits of depression. Then there were none, and she could not afford to linger on it. Now Gray winds his arm tight around her waist, mumbling in his sleep, and she drifts off thinking maybe one is enough" p. 27-28

That quote makes up for the one sentence paragraph on page 52 that is eight lines long! I almost stopped reading right there! The book has a slow beginning but gets exciting in the middle, so keep reading!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Ministry of Special Cases by Nathan Englander

I couldn't finish disk one of this adult audiobook either. Maybe I'm getting picky because I want to be entertained more. But I just couldn't get into this one. After listening to it for 30 minutes or so, I still can' explain to you what exactly it was about. Something about the Jews and a separate cemetery and Eva Peron. I just couldn't get into it. I read some reviews on LibraryThing and one reviewer claimed the novel started slowly. And it did. It's just not my thing. I'm sure other readers will love it, but, I gave it a chance and chose to listen to Avalon High by Meg Cabot instead. :)

Pants on Fire by Meg Cabot

I couldn't finish listening to the first disk of this audio young adult novel. And this is way. The reader was irritating. Seriously. I was wincing in the car. And the writing--argh! I'm not sure what Meg Cabot was thinking when she created such an annoying main character. Katie Ellison is one of the most annoying teenagers in YA lit. And I only heard a little bit of the first CD. She is cheating on her boyfriend and then a third boy comes along who is so h-oooooooooo-t. And she's running for her town's Quahog Princess because she just wants the money. And she has her boyfriend that she is simply keeping around because he is a star football player. She is very shallow and easy to hate. So I disliked her. And turned it off!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle

I'm so glad I listened to the audio version of this adult novel. Lily Rabe, the reader, was wonderful, and I swear I've listened to her read something else.

Alice Winston is a young girl who has grown up alone on her family's horse ranch. Her mother is depressed and never leaves her bedroom, but the family doesn't talk about it. Her father works in the barn and they never discuss why Alice's older sister ran off and got married the year before. But then things change. Alice falls in love with someone she isn't supposed to. Alice's father falls in love, too, and it isn't with his wife. And then Alice's sister and her husband come back to the ranch to live. This dysfunctional family weaves an intriguing tale and I must admit that I had tears in my eyes at the end.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Lottery by Patricia Wood

This adult novel definitely reminded me of Forrest Gump. Why? Because it's about a mentally challenged young man who knows more about life than most of us.

"My name is Perry L. Crandall and I am not retarded." Perry goes on to talk about his IQ on the first page, just like Forrest Gump. But, unlike Forrest Gump, Perry's family is horrible except for his Gram. When Gram dies, Perry's family deserts him and takes his money. But then Perry wins the lottery. And his family wants power of attorney over him. And his family wants to invest his winnings for him. And they want his money.

But Perry discovers that he is quite the businessman. He invests in his bosses' shipping business and things take off. He learns not to take every collect call. He learns to write checks for $500 because that is how many zeroes fit in the box. And he also falls in love. Perry loves Cherry, the tattooed, pierced gas station attendant who is in love with Perry's best friend Keith.
This is a coming-of-age story, even though Perry is 31 when his Gram dies. But Perry grows up, even though his IQ is only 76. He learns to live on his own and be financially secure. And he learns to love.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Beautiful Miscellaneous by Dominic Smith

This book needs a new cover. It's a pretty cover, but it really needs something not so dorky looking so it would attract more teen readers!

Nathan Nelson is raised to be a genius but doesn't quite fill the shoes. His dad is a famous physicist and his mother is a gourmet cook and woman of the world (from her living room, at least). Nathan is a good child and does everything his dad wants--science camps, trig tables, and spelling tests. But in junior high, Nathan purposely misses the winning question of a science bowl. And says no more.

But then, in high school, Nathan is in a horrible car accident and injured. He now has synesthesia and sees colors and smells scents when he words. The result? An awesome memory. Nathan can recite TV dialogue perfectly and memorize phone books. His parents put him in The Institute where he can learn to "utilize" his new-found talent. While there, he finds love, finds friendship, and grows up.

This is quite the coming-of-age story. Nathan deals with his father's death in a difficult way, and the reader really grows to like Nathan. He's a good kid, even if his thoughts are a little messed up.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Queen of Babble in the Big City by Meg Cabot

I HATE when books end the way this one did. Really, Luke popped the marriage question in the last paragraph and I have to wait until next summer to figure out what she decides to do! Does Lizzie take Luke back even though he bought her a replacement sewing machine for Christmas instead of an engagement ring? What does she do about Luke's best friend who she kissed on New Year's Eve when she thought she was through with Luke? Chaz, her best friend's ex-boyfriend, is the man who remembers that she loves Diet Coke and says he has always liked her. So what will Lizzie do? Marry her prince? (He really is a prince, even if he isn't recognized by the government of France) or decide to be on her own for awhile?

This is an entertaining chick lit title that I listened to because I needed a break from all the angsty and depressing titles I've been reading. Sometimes I just need a laugh. :)

Monday, November 5, 2007

Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

If you haven't read Great Expectations, don't bother reading this adult novel or you'll be lost.

Matilda lives on some island off Australia in the early 1990s. She's black, poor, and doesn't know it. But the only white man in her village (who is married to a kind of crazy black woman) becomes their temporary teacher during a civil war and begins reading the classic Dickens novel to the schoolchildren. They begin learning storytelling skills and all about Dickensian England. The kids are captivated by Pip even though their own world is falling apart around them.

I completely agree with the reviewer in Publishers Weekly who stated, "but the extreme violence toward the end of the novel doesn’t quite work." I'm glad it wasn't just me. It was like portions of A Long Way Gone just popped into a literary novel. It didn't work. To me, this novel is too literary for high school students and I won't be purchasing it for my high school. I don't even think I could recommend it to teachers, unless they have read Great Expectations.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Slam by Nick Hornby

Hornby really knows how to get into the mind of a 15-year-old boy. The author is best known for his adult "guy lit" books like About a Boy and High Fidelity, and this is his first venture into young adult literature. The main character has a Hornby stream-of-consciousness voice, but the books is a little preachy for me.
Sam lives in England with his single mom, who had him when she was still a teenager. He skates, but don't think that he is an ice skater--he's a skateboarder. The book becomes a one about teenage pregnancy, but Hornby handles it from the guy's point-of-view. He didn't intend to follow in his mother's footsteps, and Sam doesn't want to follow in his father's footsteps, too. So he chooses not to.