Monday, December 29, 2008

Over and Under by Todd Tucker

2009 Alex Award Winner!

It's always a pleasure to read a darn good book, and this one made my Christmas vacation. It's a quiet read about growing up in southern Indiana and things hit awfully close to home here in Illinois. It's 1979 and Andy and Tom are best friends, running around with their new guns and shooting everything that moves. But the local casket company in Borden goes on strike. Andy's dad is management and Tom's dad is in the union. The two sides of the town clash and the plant manager ends up dead in a factory explosion.

I really thought about Stand By Me and Goonies and all sorts of other great movies involving country boys and friendship. This is one heck of a coming-of-age story.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Bone Magician by F.E. Higgins

I wasn't a huge fan of The Big Black Book of Secrets, so this "paraquel" didn't shock and awe me either. I think it's more for grade school kids, so my mind doesn't quite wrap around it and I was a little bored throughout. Pin Carpue works for an undertaker as a body watcher. One late night he sees two people raise a corpse and hence begins the story of the Bone Magician. What's the secret? And did Pin's father really kill his uncle?

Beka Cooper Book 1: Terrier by Tamora Pierce, Read by Susan Denaker

I have to admit that I almost stopped listening to this audiobook, but I'm so glad I didn't! Pierce creates a world in Tortall that is amazing. The keepers of the peace in town are called "dogs" and are basically cops. Guns don't exist though, so they carry knives and clubs. Beka Cooper had a rough life on the streets (think Dickensian poor folk) but was lucky to find shelter with her family at the lord's manor. But, instead of choosing the life of a servant, Beka becomes a "puppy" and is apprenticed to two "dogs" who don't usually train newbies. Beka soon gets the nickname Terrier. Why? She grabs onto her prey and never lets go. She's amazing--going after criminals through taverns and slop piles and seeing clues that no one else sees. But Beka is special because she has a little bit of magic in her. The magic helps her tremendously, even when her own sisters turn against her. Beka is one strong female character--a plus for fantasy readers like me.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Enders Hotel: A Memoir by Brandon R. Schrand

I stayed up late last night reading The Enders Hotel in one night and absolutely loved it. In fact, it's the best nonfiction book I've read all year. It's a tiny little book that packs a wallop. The author tells stories of growing up in a hotel, but it's quite the coming-of-age story. His hotel is full of drifters, ex-cons, and people down on their luck, while his grandparents are amazing people. His family has alcohol problems and AA and bad drunks play an important part in the memoir. I loved the scene where he smoked tea (instead of weed) and his own dealings with anger management. It's just a darn good book in my opinion.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards, Performed by Ilyana Kadushin

I listened to the unabridged audio version of this adult novel and I did finish it, although I thought about not finishing it a lot. It just wasn't my kind of book. It's a sappy read that I bet a lot of adult women book club members are reading.

Dr. Henry is a doctor who ends up delivering his own twins in the sixties. The boy is perfect, but the girl has Down's Syndrome. So he sends the girl with the nurse to a group home so his wife doesn't have to deal with the imperfection. Of course, this secret haunts him his entire life. Something is always missing, and the girl with Downs brings happiness to all those around her. The nurse doesn't have the nerve to leave the child at the home and raises the girl on her own. So it's a sappy read.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Gardens of Water by Alan Drew

Think The Kite-Runner meets Titanic. :D This is a great example of a sappy, dramatic love story. It's a well-written, lovely tale of a Kurdish Muslim girl and an American boy outside of Istanbul. The two start a secret relationship that escalates after a devastating earthquake. The families are tied together--his mother saved her brother during the quake--but the two shouldn't be together. Society is against them. It's quite the love story!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent

I feel like I just read a novelization of The Crucible. I know I've read lots of books about the Salem witch trials, but I don't feel like I read anything new here. I kept thinking, "Hey, where's Tituba?" and then she showed up in a prison scene with a one-line appearance. I'm not saying I didn't like this book--it's a beautiful read, very well-written, and interesting. But I was a little disappointed, too. I wanted to be wowed and I wasn't. The adult novel is mainly written from the point-of-view of Sarah, daughter of Martha Carrier, in the time period before and during the Salem witch trials. There was so much history involved that I knew what was going to happen. And the prison scenes were dreadful and I could practically smell the stink. But what new about the trials came from the writing of this book? Am I being too picky? But, hey, don't you love the cover?

Zoe's Tale: An Old Man's War Novel by John Scalzi

Zoe is the type of young, snarky little teenager that I like to read about. Her family is a little strange. Her real parents are dead. But her adopted parents are the founding fathers of a new colony, and the settlers arrive on their planet in a fury of activity. But the Colonial Union has set them up for attack and as a pawn in a intergalactic war. So Zoe has to step in and try to save the day. Of course, it helps that she has an entire species of alien at her beck and call. But, that's what happens when your daddy gives alien life consciousness! :) Read this fantastic science fiction tale if you want to read fast, read late into the night, and get in trouble for reading during class! (No, wait, don't do that....)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer, Read by Emily Bauer

I haven't read much apocalyptic young adult fiction lately, so this one stood out. Miranda and her friends are pretty excited about a meteor that is planned to hit the moon one night. The whole town is outside watching and waiting for the spectacle, just like a comet or falling stars. But things go terribly wrong. The meteor is bigger than what the scientists thought. The moon look like it's blowing up. And it's bigger. All of a sudden cell phones don't work. And thus begins (possibly) the end of the world. The moon pull changes the tides and cities on the coast throughout the world are hit with destroying tidal waves. Earthquakes hit and volcanoes erupt in areas where it's never happened before. Miranda and her family have to buckle down. Miranda's mother is smart and stockpiles food, supplies, and other things while the rest of the community is still in shock. They chop wood and collect water. And, throughout it all, Miranda is just a teenage girl who fights with her mother and gets mad at her brothers. And falls in love. But who will survive? Will her family? Her friends?

Band Fags! by Frank Anthony Polito

I interlibrary loaned this adult coming-of-age story from Urbana and have to admit I giggled a little bit. It's the early 1980s and what Jack Paterno goes through, I remember. He plays Atari, rolls his jeans in junior high, and wore parachute pants to school. But Jack is a little different. Maybe. He's not sure. He's active in band, and good at it, and therefore he gets called the book title. But is he gay? He has a girlfriend all through junior high. And a lot of high school. He has dates to school dances and everything. But he and his best friend Brad grow apart when Brad announces his homosexuality. Jack isn't sure he wants to be labeled "that." Or does he?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Things I've Learned from Women Who've Dumped Me, edited by Ben Karlin, Written and read by Stephen Colbert, Will Forte, Tom McCarthy, Andy Richter....

I had to interlibrary loan this when I noticed that Nick Hornby wrote the introduction. It had to be good, right? And, oh, was it! I giggled on the interstate. I chuckled in the parking lot. And I even laughed until I cried. Seriously, I wish I could write like this! These men cracked me up!

Basically, each essay is about a man being dumped. But, oh, the lessons they learned! I can't even remember my favorite. I know Colbert's was funny because he claimed his wife edited the info about his past girlfriend so there are a lot of bleeps and noises. Funny! I plan on recommending this one to a lot of men in my life. It's just that kind of book.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan, Percy Jackson & the Olympians Book Three, Read by Jesse Bernstein

I love the Percy Jackson books. I know, I know, they are supposedly written for kids, but my high school students like these, too. So it isn't just me! Riordan has a way of mixing the Greek myths with the modern world and making me love it!

Percy is really in trouble this time. The monsters and stirring and trying to fulfill the prophecy. A major god's child is supposed to overthrow the world. Is it Percy, the son of Poseidon? Or Thalia, the daughter of Zeus? Or (oh no!) is there another child of the Big Three out there somewhere?

Percy's friend Annabeth is kidnapped and Percy and his friends set out to rescue her. They travel to the Grand Canyon, San Francisco, and everywhere in between trying to find Annabeth and stop the curse. The evil Luke is back with his cruiseship full of mosters and Atlas shrugs off the weight of the sky to be evil, too.

The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti

2009 Alex Award Winner!

Have you ever read anything by Charles Dickens? If so, you can't help but think of Dickensian England as you read this adult novel by first time novelist Hannah Tinti.

Ren is an orphan and dreams of finding out who his family is. But then Benjamin Nab claims him as his brother and Ren is thrust into a world of crime and deceit. Nab is a thief and Ren falls quickly into his footsteps. But, remember, I said Dickens? The world is dark, dreary, and full of dangerous factories with working children. There's a dwarf forced to live on rooftops to escape bullying and a giant coerced into killing for a living. There's a woman who yells because she is deaf and people who dig up dead bodies for science. Doctors are amputating and children are stealing to prevent hunger. Add in the nasty Top Hats who maim and kill for their boss McGinty and you've got quite a story.

Did I like it? I'm not sure. And I couldn't sell it to my book club members. It's dark and dreary and very violent at times. But at least the ending is uplifting.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Yummy Mummy by Polly Williams, Read by Rosalyn Landor

Sometimes adults need fun books, too, and this was one of mine! I was in the mood for some good adult chick lit, so I picked up this audiobook at my local public library. And it fulfilled my need! First of all, the narrator had a wonderful British accent--yay! Second of all, the book was about a thirtysomething woman who had one child--yay!

Amy has a live-in boyfriend and she isn't sure if he's the right one for her. In fact, she thinks he cheated while she was pregnant. But Amy meets Alice, a "yummy mummy" who is always perfectly made up in Jimmy Choos and manicured nails. Alice helps Amy redo herself--dayspa, new clothes, etc. And, whoa, that Pilates instructor helps Amy with feeling needed, too. But Amy isn't sure about whether her baby's father is the right one. And things get confusing.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

Towner Whitney is one confused woman. She's back in town because her grandmother has disappeared. Towner left back when she was 17 because she was in a mental institution. She admits at the beginning that she is a liar and an unreliable narrator, which is oh so true! Her family lives in Salem (with a history of witches) and all the women in the family do have some type of power. They are lace readers (hence the title) and can read the future. Towner is also pretty good about reading minds, also. Throughout the book, you're trying to figure out what caused Towner to flip out when she was a teenager. This adult novel has a little bit of everything--mystery, suspense, murder (maybe), abuse, love, and wild dogs.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

When the White House Was Ours by Porter Shreve

Daniel moves to D.C. under strange circumstances. His father was fired as a school administrator and decides to start his own school. It's the mid-1970s and a hippie school is just what D.C. needs! Daniel is a history buff and loves living in D.C., but his family is just plain strange. Various adults filter through the school as "teachers" whose credentials are fudged to sound impressive. The school fakes projects to help the house (like winterizing the house to save money). This is one of those quiet books. Things happen, but not very exciting things. I was never excited while reading it, yet I kept reading. I'm still not exactly sure what to thing about this adult novel.

Jinx by Meg Cabot, Read by Amber Sealey

Meg Cabot is getting pretty good at spitting out chick lit books with a tiny bit of magic. Jinx (or Jean) moves to New York City to get away from a stalker. But we don't find out the whole story until later in the book. Jinx experimented with magic back in Iowa and it still haunts her. Magic runs in her family, and even her cousin Tory believes that they are both destined to be great witches, all because their great-great-great-great-grandmother said so. Jinx isn't sure what to believe. But she knows that she has always had the worst luck. And it continues in NYC. On her first day, she spits her drink on the cutest boy she's ever seen. And she is run over by a bike messenger. Poor Jinx.

I must admit that I wanted to yell in my car--"Get over it already!" Cabot constantly repeats Jinx's self-pity and self-doubt phrases. I wanted to scream! But it turns out to be a decent chick lit book with a little bit of magic--just what a lot of teens like.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Riding in Cars with Boys: Confessions of a Bad Girl Who Makes Good by Beverly Donofrio, Read by Chrstina Moore

I saw this audiobook at my local public library and had to check it out. My cover looks nothing like the cover you see here. My cover has a guy and a girl intertwined in the backseat of car--racy!

Beverly is a party girl in the 1960s who gets into trouble--big trouble. She's a teenager, pregnant, and married to a drug addict. She isn't so innocent herself and she obviously didn't take Parenting. She makes so many mistakes. She's a hippie, into drugs and alcohol, and feels put out because her son ruined her life. But she starts making correct choices. She eventually puts herself through college, with the help of scholarships and welfare. And her son is smart and takes care of himself and her pretty well.

I LOVED this book and really think all teenagers who are having sex should read it. In fact, I wish I could get copies of this for all teenage mothers at PHS, but I'm not sure if that would go over well. This is a true story of a girl who makes it. But she really takes years to grow up.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Undiscovered Country by Lin Enger

Sometimes a librarian should do her research before reading a novel. I picked this one up, thinking, "Man, I loved one of his books!" Ummm, this is a novel by a first-time author. Lin's brother Leif wrote Peace Like A River, which I loved.

There are similarities between how the brother write. Both create peaceful settings in Minnesota country. Both create rugged male characters who are tough on the outside and tormented on the inside. Both make shooting someone a central point of the plot. :)

Like Matt Haig's Dead Fathers Club, the author uses Hamlet to create a modern-day version of the story. Jesse is a 17 year old boy hunting with his father. A gun fires, and his father is dead, apparently by suicide. But the dead father's ghost appears and Jesse blames his uncle for killing his own brother. Jesse's mother did used to date her husband's brother, so the suspicion is there. But the family business was in trouble, so maybe Jesse's dad did just want to leave his life. So, did Uncle Clay kill his own brother? Read it and find out!

The tension is high and Enger pulls off a teenage romance with the mystery, also. I absolutely LOVE the cover of this book.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah, Read by Susan Ericksen

I listened to this adult fiction novel and it was enjoyable in a feel-good way. Kate Malarkey and Tully Hart are best friends. They fall together unexpectedly in the late 1970s in junior high and stick together for the rest of their lives. The first part of the book deals with their childhood and teenage years. Tully is the wild girl--brash, beautiful and a little crazy because of her horrible mother. Kate is the quiet, calm, responsible one who keeps Tully reigned in. Eventually they head off to the University of Washington together to major in television production. Tully wants to be a TV anchor more than anything, and she makes her dream come true by becoming the next Oprah. Kate marries her boss, has two kids, and settles into being a full-time mom. The two friends are separated by distance, but still manage to come together despite Tully's selfishness and Kate's depression. The novel follows the two until a death. To me, this book was nothing special, but I've read lots of sappy adult books. This is a grown up version of a Lurlene McDaniel book!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Swap by Antony Moore

I wasn't too impressed with this one, even though I like the basic plot line. Harvey swaps a 1st edition Superman for a piece of metal pipe as a young boy. Now he's old, running a comic shop, and constantly regretting his decision. So he returns during this class reunion to talk to the swapper, but things get worse. Someone is murdered and Harvey is implicated and even feels guilty. This is a little snarky, but just didn't quite work for me. And I'm not sure who I would ever recommend it to.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sly Mongoose by Tobias S. Buckell

I'm not a huge science fiction fan, but love fantasy! So I couldn't believe it when I LOVED this adult sci fi novel! I read in some reviews after reading the novel that this author has created several books in this world, but I've never read them. However, I read this book as stand-alone just fine and highly recommend it.

Timas is a 14-year-old boy who helps upkeep the ore thingie under his city. Everyone depends on him to keep the city alive. And to stay thin. He forces himself to be bulimic so he can fit into the special suits to walk on the planet's surface. Everything changes on planet Chilo when Pepper crashes through the bubble into their world. Pepper is a trained fighter who can kick some butt. And does so regularly. But he just escaped zombies and is trying to save the world, even though no one believes him until aliens and zombies start showing up on the planet. Timas and Pepper are forced to bring change to Chilo, through hard fighting, good luck, and exploring new ideas. Add in a cute avatar named Katerina to interest Timas, and you have one heck of an adventure story! This would make an awesome movie!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz, Narrated by Christina Moore and a Full Cast

I know it was a big deal last January when this children's book was announced as the Newbery winner, so I had to give it a shot. This was the full-cast audio version, so each character in the medieval village was spoken by someone with the appropriate accent. This made it much more interesting. I liked the concept of the book, but I have to admit I was rather bored. Sure, in a classroom, this collection would work. But, for recreational reading, I think it lacked anything relevant to today's society. Do kids really get into reading dialect about medieval times? I never would have picked this up because it looked fun to read. I think librarians like the idea that a librarian wrote the book and I'm wondering if that clouded committee members' judgment? (Oh, no, the wrath will fall upon my shoulders!) But, then again, I don't work with grade school kids. So maybe my perception of what they like is skewed. Any supporters of this book winning the Newbery out there? Can you argue why this won? :D

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Monster of Florence: a True Story by Douglas Preston with Mario Spezi

I've read several of Douglas Preston's thrillers, but I wasn't prepared for this true story! While researching the serial killer "The Monster of Florence," Preston gets entangled in a web of controversy and mismanaged bureaucracy. This book makes the Italian police and legal force look like total crap. And I mean it.

Starting in the late 1960's couples were murdered in their cars in isolated parking areas in the hills around Florence, Italy. The killer shot both the male and female, but then cut on the females, spilling their purse on the ground and little else. Most of these murders occurred on nights with full moons in the summers. Mario Spezi, the co-author of this book, was the Italian crime beat journalist who covered the gruesome killings and became the expert on the trials. The Italian police charged several people, held innocent people in jail, and everone became a suspect. Even Preston was charged with helping Spezi plant evidence. This story is amazing if you like murder mysteries and true crime. I still can't believe how Preston became entangled in the murders! I'm sooo glad I live in America and not Italy!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Free-Range Chickens by Simon Rich

I don't usually like joke books. But this author writes for Saturday Night Live and knows what he's doing! Several of these cracked me up. The selection "Middle School Telephone Conversation" has two kids emailing their friends about how they both won a million dollars in a Clearing House Sweepstakes. "Frogs" has one frog justifying their dissection but another one contradicting him because the freshmen kid's lab report was poorly written. "Time Machine" and "The Eleventh Hour" cracked me up. I'm breaking copyright rules, I'm sure, but I think Mr. Rich will approve since I'm pushing his novel. Email me if you don't, Mr. Rich!

The eleventh hour

--Warden? It's the governor. I've decided to pardon Jenkins.
--Sir, it's 12:55. Jenkins has been dead for nearly an hour.
--Really? My watch says 11:55.
--Did you . . . remember that it's daylight savings day?
--(Sighs) I can't believe this happened two years in a row.

The Girls by Lori Lansens, Read by Stephanie Zimbalist and Lolita Davidovich

This is one of the adult novels that made it onto the 2009 Abraham Lincoln Illinois High School Book Award list. And (I hate to admit this) I hadn't read it before! I managed to interlibrary loan the CD version of the novel though and it was an interesting tale.

Rose and Ruby are conjoined twins who cannot be separated. Both girls tell their stories in this book and they are completely different people. And, oh, what a life. Their mother abandons them at birth and their nurse becomes their "aunt." In slow, but sure ways, both girls find romance. Kinda. Rose is a writer who carries her sister around all the time. Ruby is the more delicate sister who is interested in finding Native American artifacts in the fields around their home.

To me, the novel wasn't great. But I can see why high school students might be fascinated with the idea of conjoined twins.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Last Winter by Larry Fessenden, Robert Leaver, and Brahm Revel

Nothing like a bad graphic novel to keep you thirsting for good fiction! :) Whoa, this was so very cheesy! It's based on a movie that swept the festivals in 2006 and was out on DVD this summer. Um, don't see it. Unless you like corny horror flicks. A bunch of guys are in Alaska and getting ready to drill for oil. But the ice is melting, it's raining instead of snowing, and people start going crazy. People start dying. Pencil in some crows and crazy human/caribou things. And that's about it. Bottom line--the author thinks drilling for oil is bad. And never, ever walk out in the Arctic naked....

Sunday, September 21, 2008

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

This adult novel is for adults, especially librarians and die-hard book nerds! I really can't see a high school student getting into this, but I've been proven wrong before! Brooks is a great writer--you can't deny that. But it took me a week to read this book, and that's too long. If the book fascinates me, I get sucked in and read fast. I didn't feel that way with this one.

Hanna Heath is known for preserving books and gets the call to study the Sarajevo Haggadah. It's old and has a fascinating history. She finds things like a cat hair and a wine stain in the book and through flashbacks we find the secrets of the book. Here's the deal though. I don't really care what an old book has gone through. Maybe I'm a cynic? Or just a realist? But the mystery of this book wasn't enough of a mystery to me.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Missy by Chris Hannan

It isn't very often that I read a book and I think, "Wow, I didn't know that!" But this Scottish playwright surprised the heck out of me.

Dol McQueen is a 19-year-old "well-used" young lady in the Old West. She and her girlfriends travel west to Sierra Nevada to start a new life. She gets some help from missy, which is another word for laudanum or liquid opium. Ohhhhh, you say! Dol's life stinks, and she doesn't know it because she's too high. She gets beaten up by men with flashy rings and her mother is a drunk loser.

I just had no idea this kind of life existed. It's not Bonanza or Little House on the Prairie--that's for sure ! But the author makes the tale work. I devoured this book and hoped that Dol would come to her senses.

The Secret Between Us by Barbara Delinsky, Read by Cassandra Campbell

There's nothing like listening to a chick drama in the car! I must say that this one bored me a bit though. Ooooo, a secret! It's tearing up the kid! She can't sleep! She can't do homework! She doesn't want to text her friends! Wah-wah.

Deborah allows her daughter to drive home in the rain at night. She hits her teacher, who eventually dies. But he was out in zero visibility weather without reflective clothing. And Grace did have her driver's permit. But Deborah doesn't tell the police everything and they assume that Deborah was driving. The secret destroys Grace. Eventually the secret comes out. Add in a recent divorce for Deborah, a cute brother of the deceased, and a cheating lawyer, and you have a pretty typical dramatic book.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Breakfast at Bloomingdale's by Kristen Kemp

I really needed a young adult chick lit book. I know, I know, I should be reading titles for my committee, but sometimes a girl just needs a break! Kemp's novel was a little different. Cat Zappe (her name is really Junebug) heads to New York City on her own before she even graduates from high school. Her plans were to always head there after graduation with her grandmother and start their own clothing line, Breakfast. But those plans change when her stylish, eccentric grandmother dies suddenly. Cat is left with boxes of her grandmother's things, a boyfriend who dumps her, and unsurety. Somehow she has to make it. Through a strange network of friends and acquanitances, she makes it in NYC, even though her mother is wanting her to come back home.

I loved the Project Runway feel to the novel, but it might bore some readers. And Cat is quirky and the dialogue is stilted at times. And sometimes the girl just needs smacked for being rude! :) jk! But the cover is great. And it's about fashion. So give me more!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Beach House by Jane Green

This was a pleasant adult novel to listen to at the end of summer. Nan is an elderly lady who lives on Nantucket. She decides to rent rooms for the summer. Basically the tale has been told before, but this is a nice, quiet read. The individual stories at the beginning of the book all come together at the end. Divorces, new romances, and basically everyone finds Nantucket and the magical beach house home.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Famous and Obscure Writers edited by Smith Magazine

First of all, I love when I can read books in 30 minutes. I sped through this one, only stopping to add my favorites to my myspace and facebook pages. And I found tons of poems that I loved.

All of this started when Ernest Hemingway was challenged to write a story in six words. He wrote, "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." Wow. That gets you thinking, doesn't it? And most of the 6 word memoirs in this book will, too.

Some of my favs.....

Painful nerd kid, happy nerd adult. - L.J.Williamson
Boy, if I had a hammer. - Tim Barkow
Bespectacled, besneakered, read and ran around. -Rachel Fershleiser
Supported the sublime with uncurbed enthusiasm. -Jeff Newelt
Danced in Fields of Infinite Possibilities. -Deepak Chopra
Soul'd out so I could prophet. -Gotham Chopra
Followed rules, not dreams. Never again. -Margaret Hellerstein
I'm enjoying even this downward dance. -Colum McCann
All night phone calls complete me -Harry Manning
Barrister, barista, what's the diff, Mom? -Abigail Moorhouse
And he nerded as never before. -Jon Thysell
It's not you. It's me. Honest. -Allison Glock
Thought I would have more impact. -Kevin Clark
Time to start over again, again. -Dan Petronelli
Still lost on road less traveled. -Joe Quesada
Discovered moral code via Judy Blume. -Beth Greivel
My first concert: Zappa. Explains everything. -Janet Tashjian
Boys liked her. She preferred books. - Anneliese Cuttle
Carbohydrates call my name every day. -Mary Petersdorf
Some collect coins. I collect diplomas. -Srini Rajagopalan
I fell far from the tree. -Rebecca Stadolnik
Without me, it is just aweso. -Chris Madigan
I have not done it all. -Aaron Knoll
Well, I thought it was funny. -Stephen Colbert
Cheese is the essence of life. -Mary Lynch
The freaks, they always find me. -Ginger Lime
Must remember: people, gadgets. That order. -Briam Lam
Wasn't born a redhead; fixed that. -Andie Grace

Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich

This was the perfect adult novel to finish yesterday at the pool! I'm in love with Ranger, what can I say?

This series is awesome and I'd love to see the movie they would make out of them. Evanovich always manages to make me laugh out loud, which is awesome. Stephanie Plum is a bounty hunter who always gets into too much trouble. This time a neighborhood guy robs a bank but the partners in the robbery end up dead. Stephanie's boyfriend, Morelli (a cop) is cousins to all involved, and, of course, gets mixed up. Somehow Stephanie finds the dead men in Trenton. And she manages to collect losers who live (and protect) Morelli's house. It's just funny. That really explains it all! Everyone needs a fav beach author, and Evanovich is mine!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Genghis: Lords of the Bow

I couldn't WAIT for this book to be published. As you may remember, I'm a huge fan of Genghis: Birth of an Empire and praised it endlessly last year. This is the second book of the series and it doesn't disappoint.

Genghis was married and conquering everyone at the end of the first book and now he's settled into being khan. He and his brothers rule easily and kill fast. So this novel is more about how Genghis handles everything. He doesn't have to worry about the threat of the open steppe anymore. Everyone bows him now, but how does he keep everyone fed? What does he do with the slaves? Who really cares which horse is bred to which horse? Genghis has to make a lot of decisions and start to delegate, which is always hard for a ruler. His youngest brother Temuge becomes the man who handles the everyday things while his other two brothers are the generals. As they move farther into China though, Genghis realizes that things are different on the other side of the wall. They read and write, build huge cities, and fortresses that are almost impreganable. Genghis makes it, but the foreshadowing makes me dread reading the next book in the series. Genghis' empire is impressively strong, stretching across Asia, but there are hints of a downfall. His youngest brother is a little sneaky. And his oldest son is trying to prove that he isn't the child of his mother's rapist, but the rightful heir to the Mongol empire. Whoa. I can't wait to see Jochi prove himself.

Wow. This is good. Read it.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

If you like thick books, this one is for you! This adult novel is quiet and calming and very suspenseful. I will admit that I was getting a little bogged down in the middle, because I didn't want to stay up until 2 am to finish. To me, that means the book isn't excellent. But I do know this is a bestseller and there is a reason.

Think Hamlet. Edgar's family raises dogs. But then Edgar's uncle comes to stay and Edgar's father dies. Did the uncle kill him? Because the uncle makes his move pretty fast on Edgar's mother. And Edgar has to get proof. This is more difficult for Edgar though because he's mute. He can hear, but he can't talk for some reason, so he has to sign. This means that he can communicate great with the dogs and helps train and care for them.

Monday, August 4, 2008

I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Kuehnert

You can really tell that this adult novel was published by MTV Books. Teen angst--whew! I loved the punk rock references, as the main character, Emily Black discovers exactly what role music should take in her life. She was raised by her dad to love music and is a popular punk rocker by her teen years. But Emily is haunted by her mother who left when Emily was a baby to "follow the music." But Emily knows there is more to the story than that. Emily, like tons of musicians, struggles with drugs, alcohol, and crazy boyfriends. But she needs to find herself somewhere in all that and eventually she does. High school girls will love this book, I just know it.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Outcast by Sadie Jones

I LOVED this book! Yay! It's a romance and suspenseful and very Say Anything-ish. So, of course, I like it. It's also set back in the 50s mainly, so it's always nice to read a good historical novel that isn't packed with facts.

Lewis is the outcast. He just returned from two years in prison. And he's only 19. He burned down his church. Why? Let's just say he has anger management issues. He was the only witness to his mother's drowning when he was 10 and his father never acted like a good father. He doesn't know what to think about his stepmother. But alcohol and kissing helps Lewis get by. But then those get confusing, too. The Carmichael girls have always been in his life. Heck, his dad works for their dad. But they are nothing but trouble. Young Kit has always loved Lewis, but Lewis is fascinating by Kit's older sister. Lewis is drawn to both of them in different ways and everything comes to light in their small town by the end of the novel. Read it!

A Wolf at the Table: a Memoir of My Father by Augusten Burroughs

I had always heard about Burroughs' Running with Scissors but had never read it. Now I think I understand the hype. He can tell one heck of a story. This is his recollection of his father. His dad was a professor who had mood swings and drank too much. It wasn't that he physically abused Augusten (much), but it was his inattentiveness that destroyed Burroughs. He tried so hard to get his father to pay attention to him, but it never worked. His dad just didn't care. Even when Burroughs was older and in his first apartment, he couldn't get much out of his dad. It's sad. But Burroughs isn't writing his own pity party. Because he eventually works out that he can be a good person without a good father. He won't turn into his dad because he cares not to. And that's what matters. A good memoir to give people hope.

Someday This Pain Will be Useful to You by Peter Cameron

I forgot all about this vacation read until I found it in a bag of books! I loved it! You can tell from the cover and the title that it's going to be a great teen read. But it wasn't what I expected. James Sveck has issues. His family is strange and uncaring. He doesn't really want to go to college, even though he's already been accepted to Brown. He loves visiting his grandmother, even though everyone else thinks he's weird. He gets into trouble a lot. Think about Holden Caulfield and you get a good picture of what kind of person James is. He is so disappointed in our world, and has good reason to be. But don't give up on James.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Paper Towns by John Green

If you know me at all, you know I love John Green. Yes, I know he’s married. But I was addicted to Brotherhood 2.0 last year and have Hank’s songs downloaded on my ipod. I watched John Green eat a blender-ed Happy Meal. But I don’t think the Yeti (his lovely wife) will mind another idolizing book blog entry from a librarian. I mean, really, at least the review is good!

I was lucky enough to get John Green to autograph my advanced reading copy of Paper Towns (due out in October 2008). Now my lucky five-year-old daughter has all three of his books personally autographed to her. She’ll learn a lot from reading this one!

Quentin is a nerdy senior. He and his best friends spend most of their time playing videogames and doing homework. But now his friends are talking about senior prom. And, all of a sudden, Quentin’s lovely neighbor Margo Roth Spiegelman (the full name works best for her) is at his window. Oh, what a spree they have! It involves revenge, backstabbing, spray paint, Vaseline, Veet, tulips, a bottle of water, Mountain Dew, and three catfish. You know you HAVE to read this book now, don’t you? Isn’t your curiosity peaked?

Margo is a lot like the character Alaska in Looking for Alaska. And Quentin is like the boy who loves Alaska. Quentin LOVES her and will do anything for her. So, when Margo disappears, Quentin starts his own investigation. He knows that he is the closest person to her. But then he discovers that Margo is a lot of different people and maybe he doesn’t know the real Margo.

But, to me, the way John Green tells the story makes it made of awesome. I giggled, chuckled, and laughed. The part about the Beast sword cracked me up (read it) and the way he tells the story of the black kid wearing a Heritage, Not Hate t-shirt killed me. John Green tells the kinds of jokes I like to hear. He’s just my kind of nerd.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Disenchanted Princess by Julie Linker

My daughter made me read this. Really, she forced me because it's about a chicken who becomes a princess.

No, it's not. West is a L.A. socialite who is forced to move to Possum Grape, Arkansas, when her dad is imprisoned for embezzlement. This is the typical chick lit book (heehee). She's horrified about living on a farm and riding in a minivan, but later realizes that family and good friends are worth having. There's a little bit of romance and a lot of fashion design, since West wants to be a designer. Not much substance to this one though.

Black-Eyed Susan by Megan Barker

I love vacation. I needed this book. Pally, who runs the fishing resort my family goes to every year, has an awesome library of paperback novels. Tom Clancy, Sandra Brown, Harlequin books, Westerns--she has it all. This one caught my eye and begged to be read.

Susan is the privileged daughter of a General in a world of Dukes and Lords. She's the wild one-a horseman and a ratter with her little terrier. But when her father dies, she loses everything and must rely on the godfather she has never met. Along the way she is ravaged--ooooooooo. Now she must find a husband, but who will it be? And what will become of her attacker?

Dead to Me by Anton Strout

Simon Canderous left his life of crime behind to work for New York City's Department of Extraordinary Affairs. Simon works in the Other department and his specialty is psychometry--he can read objects. In between battling zombies and tackling ghosts, Simon saves Irene, a forgetful ghost who hasn't moved on for some reason. The Sectarian Defense League (government speak for cultists) ransacked Irene's apartment and stole her wooden fish. Huh? Read this snarky urban fantasy to see how Simon saves the day.

Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

Josey Curini is 27, lives at home and is still bossed around by her mother. For three years, she's been in love with her mailman. And she has no friends. Until Della Lee shows up in her closet. Now, instead of depending on packages of Ho-Hos and romance novels, Josey is told to start living. Della Lee introduces her to Chloe and the three begin to change their lives. Chloe and her books are recovering from a cheating boyfriend while Josey figures out how to date. Allen tells the tale of friendship and love in a sweet, Mitford-type of way! With just a tad bit of whimsy....

The Learners: the Book After the Cheese Monkeys by Chip Kidd

Happy moves to New Haven fresh out of college to begin his career in advertising. It's 1961 and Happy is using pen, pencil and brushes to create ads. It really didn't interest me, so I stopped on page 52. I was hoping for a Mad Men-ish read, but it wasn't.

Falling into Mahholes: the Memoir of a Bad/Good Girl

Unfortunately this adult memoir is a little TOO adult for high school students. I found it hilarious and it hit a little too close to home in some parts. Merrill is a forty-something woman who tells her story, even though it's embarrassing. She's anorexic and then bulimic. She drinks too much and has no idea how to act around men, even though she's thin, smart, and beautiful. Hence the title!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Easy Company Soldier: The Legendary Battles of a Sergeant from World War II's "Band of Brothers" by Sgt. Don Malarkey with Bob Welch

This is one of the best war memoirs I've ever read. Why? Because I read it in two sittings and because it reads like fiction. Bravo to Malarkey and Welch for telling a great story. I'm definitely adding this book to my school collection.

We've all seen Band of Brothers and Saving Private Ryan. Malarkey tells his story--from a childhood in Oregon to barely making it into the service to receiving an Bronze star. Malarkey was one of the paratroopers in Operation Overlord and saw horrific battles. But his tale isn't too gritty. It's a testament to the friendships forged in war and the differing personalities that are forced to cooperate. Some of his officers just plain stink. But others are worth following. And this book is really worth reading.

Laughing Without an Accent by Firoozeh Dumas

Dumas continues her childhood tales from Funny in Farsi. I thought the reading was entertaining in an soft and easy kind of way. She has a way of making you smile as she writes about the quirks of Americans and Iranians. The stories are disjointed and jump around, so don't read this if you're expecting a continuous memoir.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Shadow Year by Jeffrey Ford

Well, this adult mystery got me thinking, which is a good thing. But I'm not sure if it's a great book or not! And I hate that. The boy has an older brother who can beat up anyone and a younger sister who is just a little strange. She pretends to be someone else and "knows" things. When a peeping tom is seen around the neighborhood, the siblings decide to solve the crime. Using a model of their town, the three create clay figures of their neighbors, the cars, and the houses. But then a classmate goes missing. And someone else dies. And the peeping tom is still around. A lot happens during the Shadow Year, so if you lie subtle suspense and mysteries, this one is for you!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Twenty Chickens for a Saddle: the Story of an African Childhood by Robyn Scott

I wasn't too impressed with this adult memoir about growing up in Botswana. Scott's family always was a little strange--her dad practiced homeopathic medicine, her mother homeschooled the children, and her grandpa was kinda crazy. At the age of 7, her parents moved back to Botswana, and the children lived there for the rest of their childhood. The father flew around as a private doctor in the bush and their mother taught them. Scott encounters rascism, Apartheid, HIV and AIDS and all sorts of things in Africa. All in all, nothing really stood out about this memoir, but it's an easy read.