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!