Saturday, May 24, 2008

Map of Ireland by Stephanie Grant

Hmmmm. Sometimes you read a book and then you're not quite sure what you think of it. I know I really liked this adult novel. And it sure tackles a lot of issues in its little package. Ann is an Irish girl growing up in the Boston slums in 1974. The schools just started busing and now there are blacks invading her basketball team, her faculty, and her mind. Ann is a lesbian, we learn that at the beginning, and she has quite the crush on her African French teacher. And then Rochelle, one of the new black girls on the team, actually starts passing her the ball on the court. And the team wins. But the novel is really about race. And being a white girl in a black world. And having black girls in a white school. And what it means that Ann considers everything black and white.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Vamps by Nancy Collins -- BOOK REVIEW by KELLY N.

Two words can describe my opinion for Vamps by Nancy A. Collins perfectly: MAJOR DISAPPOINTMENT! When I read the description of this book, I thought there would be a lot more excitement and action. Once I started the book, though, I was introduced to stuck-up, snobby, rich vampires. With characters like Lilith, Jules, and the other Old Bloods, the average teenager couldn’t relate to them. Most of the population doesn’t have the amount of money that these fledglings (young vampires yet to mature) have. Also these charaters are SHALLOW! When Tanith is killed and Lilith tells her father, she is more concerned about her credit cards than her best friend. Most people would be too overcome with grief to think about anything else.

Vamps wasn’t a total let down because of Cally. Cally is more relatable than the rich snobs because there are teenagers out there who have to earn money to pay the bills when the parent(s) only spend money on what they want. When Cally first sees the Van Helsing (vampire hunter), Peter, she falls in love with him despite the fact his job is to kill vampires like her. A romance between two people on opposing sides like Cally and Peter makes a book more irresistible.

Ultimately, whenever the point of view switched to Cally or Peter, the book was SO much better and interesting. But whenever it was through Lilith or Jules’s prespective, Vamps lost my interest. Also the book just leaves you hanging in a way that just sucks. Lilith had just figured out that Cally is her demi-sibling (half sister), and she vows that no one will stop her from getting rid of Cally. But this is just a thought of action, not something that leaves the reader wanting more before you finish the book. There isn’t that much in Vamps about Cally and Peter’s relationship either. Because of Twilight people will be reading more vampire books in search of romance. There is some romance in Vamps, but not enough to satisfy a reader’s romance desire.

With Vamps, I think it should be rewritten so that the majority of the book is told by Cally, there are more scenes about Cally and Peter’s relationship, and there should be a different ending that leaves the reader hungry with anticipation for more. Now I think this book just stinks with only a couple of good points. If it is rewritten I think this book would be amazingly awesome. On a rating scale of 1-10, I would give this book a 3.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

2009 Alex Award Winner!

I love reading books that I don't want to put down. This adult novel won the Bellwether Prize for Fiction (whatever that means) but I think it means that it is just a dang good read. Hillary Jordan is quite the storyteller. The setting is Mississippi, 1946. The chapters are told from different point-of-views. My favorite is Florence, the wife of Hap, who is black, regal, tall, and serves as a midwife. She is helping in the household of Laura, who is one of the main characters. Laura married when she was 31 and is moved from her comfortable city life to a mudbound farm in Mississippi. She loves her two girls and is comfortable with her husband, Henry. The interaction between Laura, Henry, and Henry's brother Jamie is wonderful. The nuances and unspoken words between the three is awesome. I loved it. I think you can definitely call this a family drama. But I can't forget Ronsel, the black tank commander son of Florence and Hap. He's home from the war, just like Jamie, and has to learn to live under Jim Crow again. He doesn't do very well. This is quite the story of racial injustice, small town prejudices and hatred. But it doesn't just exist between the blacks and the whites.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Dragons of Babel by Michael Swanwick

2009 Alex Award Winner!

Wow is a good word to describe this adult fantasy novel. Dragons are metal beasts who need half-human pilots (think airplanes) and there is a strange combination of modern things mixed in with fantastic elements. Will is an orphan (what main character isn't in a fantasy novel?) who ends up being sucked into the life of a dragon who crashes in their town. Will becomes the dragon's lieutenant, which means that he has to do the evil work. After escaping the dragon's clutches, Will goes on an adventure and runs into all sorts of interesting characters. What makes this fantasy different from the others? I like reading about Muhommad Ali and doing taxes in a world of ogres and fairies. It works. I had to read this one slowly because I was afraid I was going to miss something!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult

This adult novel was published back in 1999, and I must say that I like Picoult's early novels better than her latest ones. Why? I'm not sure. But it seems like the books are better written.

Mariah is a mother who has quite a problem. Her daughter Faith is talking to God. And teaching her Bible verses. And making her bleed from her palms. What is going on? Mariah doesn't know. She is trying to deal with her husband's cheating and the divorce. And Mariah isn't known for her own mental stability. Seven years earlier, her husband placed her in a mental institution because she tried to commit suicide after finding out her husband was cheating. Now she is dealing with the cults and religious leaders camped out in her backyard. And the nation's leading television atheist is following Faith's deeds, too. Faith resurrects her grandmother after a heart attack. And Faith magically heals everyone in the hospital when she is in there. So what is going on? Is Faith really a prophet? Or is she trying to get attention during her parents' divorce? This novel really made me question my own beliefs about healers and miracles. What do I really believe? I'm not sure. And I think that is the point Picoult is trying to make.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

I Want Candy by Kim Wong Keltner

Candace's parents run a Chinese restaurant in San Francisco and Candace wants out. All her life, she's been frying eggrolls and working without complaint. But now, at the age of 14, Candace is sick. Her so-called best friend Ruby is experienced in things that Candace only dreams about. She's so anxious to get out of her parents' house that she'll do anything. Won't she? Maybe? Maybe not. This adult fiction novel is one heck of a coming-of-age story that explains what it's like to be Chinese American. Or just what it's like to grow up. Highly recommended for junior or senior girls.