Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Opposite of Love by Julie Buxbaum, Read by Ariadne Meyers

It's the end of the school year and it's time for me to start frequenting the awesome Casey Public Library again! And I mean that. They do a wonderful job of weeding the old titles in their small space, and I love the selection of audiobooks. Just right to entertain me in my vehicle during the summer!

This adult novel intrigued me by the cover, but it almost needs a more chick lit-ish one. Emily Haxby is a power attorney, dealing with a boss who sexually harasses her, an important father who ignores her, and a boyfriend, who, well, seems perfect. So what does Emily do? She breaks up with Andrew when he starts showing signs of flashing an engagement ring. And thus continues Emily's self-destruction. With the help of best friends and a good therapist, Emily starts to turn her life around, but this book does a good job showing what the bottom of the depression pit is like. But don't think this is deep fiction. It's chick lit, plain and simple. But I enjoyed it. It's not fluffy! :)

The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman

Alice Hoffman deserves her starred review in Booklist, but I'm just not really sure what to think of her latest adult novel. Her writing is beautiful, but I like to become attached to my characters and Hoffman has a deliberate way of separating the reader from her characters.

Elv, Claire and Meg are three sisters who create their own language and fantasy world to escape the troubles of their parents' divorce. I love the descriptions of the world and even the way the sisters communicate and feed off each other. But then they start to drift apart. And as the sisters drift apart, so did my interest in them as people. Elv goes downhill until she crashes. And I won't even mention what happens to one of the sisters. But let's just say that tragedy strikes. The girls become women I wouldn't like, so the book was difficult to read. I zipped through the first half, but the last half bogged down a bit.

The Last Child by John Hart

Johnny is 13 and has lost his twin sister. She's disappeared, kidnapped and killed probably, and his family has paid the consequences. His father left. His mother drinks too much and medicates herself. And Johnny is haunted by the feeling that he can still help her. So Johnny is on the hunt for her abuser, because there is always the chance she's still alive, right? With the help of a local cop, Johnny embarks on a remarkable chase and string of coincidences to solve the mysteries of his life. But real life doesn't always work out smoothly, and neither does Johnny's life.

I was up really late reading this one because I just had to know the ending. It's a nail-biter and I really was rooting for Johnny to be happy.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

As They See 'Em: A Fan's Travels in the Land of Umpires by Bruce Weber

No, the Illini coach didn't write this adult baseball book. This Bruce Weber went to Florida and attending umpire school and wrote about his story behind the plate. And it's a good one that I was impressed by. Lots of gritty stories about famous plays and players and what goes on behind the scenes of a baseball game. Great for baseball fans!

Drama Queers! by Frank Anthony Polito

Last year I read this author's Band Fags and I must say that this adult novel is very similar. Just substitute band for drama. And it's still about a gay teenage boy who cracks me up. I couldn't stop smiling and giggling. But that might be because of all the 80s references....

Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar, Read by Ryan MacConnell and the Full Cast Family

I've been meaning to read or listen to this young adult novel for years, but just got around to it! I know Lubar created the idea for Full Cast audio, so I'm glad I was able to interlibrary loan the CDs.

Scott Hudson is a lowly freshman trying to survive high school. His older brother was a popular troublemaker who is kinda a loser now that he's out of high school. Scott's friends are leaving him--moving, joining the wrestling team, and just drifting apart. Scott is constantly trying to get closer to Julia, the beautiful classmate who might be out of his league. But the freaky pierced girl is getting a lot of his attention, too, even though Scott is embarrassed to be seen with her. And, um, Scott's mom is pregnant. So the story is told in a journal (not a diary, he tells us) to his future sibling. Let's just say he isn't too thrilled with sharing his home with a whiny little kid! Scott is a smart, funny kid, even though he is exhausted from him freshman year.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hold Love Strong by Matthew Aaron Goodman

This adult novel is urban fiction, but not your typical urban fiction--it's beautifully written, even though it's full of violence, language, teenage moms, and depressing situations.

Abraham was born to a 13-year-old mother who eventually turns into a crack addict who is murdered. Everything around him is horrible--typical New York City projects. Basketball may be his way out, but, like all basketball stars, school and the police keep getting in the way. His grandma is trying to keep the family together, but she's having a hard time, too. Apathy is everywhere.

I'm not too sure how I feel about this book. It's a slow read, but the language is beautiful.

My Little Red Book by Rachel Kauder Nalebuff

Umm, I guess you can tell what this book is about by its cover. I interlibrary loaned it and didn't end up finishing it. The editor collected stories from women about their first period. I was hoping to laugh more, but after the first ten stories, they all started sounding the same. I skimmed the rest looking for women who live in different cultures. Those were interesting, but the American stories weren't fascinating at all. I guess all women are more alike than we think!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Strangers in the Land of Egypt by Stephen March

Well, Publishers Weekly called this a well-written read, and I'm going to disagree with them. In fact, I started underlining all the sentences that made me roll my eyes. I felt like I was getting preached to, and that isn't a happy feeling for me. But, hey, I know what I like. I don't like Mitch Albom books. If you love them (like the millions who do) then you might like this adult novel. But I had to force myself to finish this book even though I knew how it would end. Heck, I was even watching Marley & Me this afternoon as I finished it. How appropriate it that?

I never felt that Jesse was a believable teenage character. He supposedly is tough and mean and wants revenge against anyone who has wronged him. Yet he gets sucked into Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner." Really? Because that's what all the hoods on the wrong side of the tracks like? And how Tuesdays with Morrie is this book? Young boy gone wrong must do community service with an old Jewish man in a nursing home who has survived the Holocaust. Gee, do you think they bond? Even though they are from different worlds? Do you think the boy learns respect for different cultures?

Ugh. I'm gagging.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

This Australian young adult title won the Printz Award which is given to the best YA book published in the U.S. in a given year. So, of course, I had to read it to see what the fuss was about. I know from reading other librarians' blogs that this winner came out of left field. And I have to agree with them. To me, this title is a lot like The Book Thief. It's a mature book, but not because it's full of "adult" topics. It's written like an adult book--flashbacks, lots of secondary characters, and winding plots and innuendos.

I had to force myself to finish it. I didn't get sucked into the book until the last third of it, when I had to stay up until 1 am to finish. However, I don't think my teenagers will enjoy it. It's another boarding school book and the mystery doesn't grab the reader like it should. The italicized flashbacks are confusing until the readers gets to the last third of the book. I never really liked the main character, either, although she does seem witty. I didn't want to feel sorry for her because she isn't nice to her housemates. And when she finally was a good friend, I thought her actions seemed forced.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Read by Allan Gorduner

Back in 2007, I tried to listen to this audiobook and couldn't finish it, but I wrote this review. In the past few weeks I forced myself to keep listening because I had to see why this book is supposedly so good. It's on the 2010 Abraham Lincoln Illinois High School Book Award list and I've had several students read it and love. So I forced myself.

But I still don't really like it. I think the point-of-view made it unique and led to some of the awards. And it seems like people enjoy sad Holocaust stories for some reason. But I'm still not a fan. Give me the author's Getting the Girl and Fighting Ruben Wolf any day.