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!