Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Darling Jim by Christian Moerk

Three beautiful Irish sisters are pulled into a dark and twisted tale when they run into Jim, a handsome man on a motorcycle in their small town. He's sexy and irresistible, and even gets the girls' aunt to agree. But Jim is nothing but trouble, and soon tales of murder, rape and bad things fill the countryside. The girls are trapped, but it isn't by whom you think.

The first part of this book grossed me out and I loved it! But the constant presence of diary entries, letters, and flashbacks turned around things so much that by the end that I found myself wishing for better editing. I *loved* the storyline but wished for a better telling, which isn't a good thing to say about a book based around Irish storytelling. However, I can see this as a darn good movie.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I can see why this adult novel is making its rounds around book clubs in public libraries--it's a feel-good novel about middle-aged women. Reminded me of Driving Miss Daisy and To Kill a Mockingbird because of the concentration on race relations and the relationship between white women and their maids. The narration rotates between three characters. Aibileen is a African-American who is on about her seventeenth baby that she has raised for white families. Miss Skeeter is a white woman who lives with parents, wants to be a writer, and believes that black maids have a story to tell. Minny is an African-American maid who has been fired tons of times for smarting off. The three women tell a story of racial injustice in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s. Really, I think this is more of a story for adult women than teenagers, but I know some mature female teenagers will enjoy the read.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Flavia is an eleven-year-old character you love to love, but thankful she isn't your daughter! She's into poison and has an advanced chemistry lab in her house. She extracts poison ivy and puts it in her older sister's lipstick. She spies. She picks locks. She's sneaky. And she solves a crime. A stranger is dead in the garden and her father is arrested. With research and interviews, Flavia figures out the story that goes back to her father's schooldays. This is a clean mystery--a more literary Trixie Belden, which I absolutely adored as a kid. Who should read this one? Public library women's book clubs.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Condition by Jennifer Haigh

I had no idea this audiobook would be as depressing as the cover, but, hey, I was warned! Gwen McKotch is diagnosed with Turner's Syndrome in the 1970s. She is permanently in a young girl's body and her mom doesn't want her to mentally grow up either. All five family members have their story told and they are all pretty messed up. And, um, normal. The mom doesn't want her daughter to grow up. The dad is a scientist who is captivated by pretty women. One brother hides his gayness. The other brother suffers from ADD and suffers from it and its consequences his whole life. I wanted to finish this family drama to figure out what happened, but I must admit that it was rather disheartening.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Crazy for the Storm: A Memoir of Survival by Norman Ollestad

Does the world need another mountaintop survival story? I'm not sure. It seems like there are four or five published every year, but I guess some people out there really love this genre. I have to admit that this one was a little better than most. I wasn't too thrilled with how alternating chapters told about the plane crash and the author's past. I wanted to just read the chapters about the plane crash, since that is really what I was interested in. But, hey, the kid's past is what helped him survive the day on the mountain. At age 11, Ollestad was already a great skier, surfer, skateboarder and hockey player. All those daredevil sports his dad made him do helped him have the tenacity to survive, even when his father didn't. And the writing was great--you can tell the author studied creative writing. The good writing made another mountain survival story bearable. I'm interested to see what book comes next from this author.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Unlikely Discuple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University

Kevin Roose was a journalist at Brown University when he decided to transfer to Liberty University, a very conservative Christian college founded by Rev. Jerry Falwell. Kevin was raised Quaker by pretty liberal parents, has a lesbian aunt and fit right in at Brown, so it was culture shock when he transferred. But Kevin figured out that students at Liberty aren't that different than the students at Brown. In fact, the students at Liberty seem happier, even with the strict rules enforced by the RAs. Nothing beyond short-term hand-holding. No revealing clothes, etc. Kevin leaps into the evangelical college with an open mind and doesn't spend the book bashing conservatives, which I appreciated. Instead, he pretty fairly notes the positives and the negatives of the college and the people who go there. In the end, he interviews Jerry Falwell (the last interview before Falwell's death) and he is greatly impacted by the Rev.'s death. Falwell was "complicated, " Kevin tells his father. Even back at Brown, Kevin still prays occasionally, so the semester at the holy university definitely influenced him. And even though I really enjoyed the first third of the book, the middle and end took me forever to read. I just couldn't breeze through it and I found myself putting the book aside to find something else to read.