Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich

I can't help it--I must keep reading these to see if Stephanie Plum ever decides between Ranger and Morelli.  I was happy to see that in this volume she "swears off men" (sorta). Stephanie is a bounty hunter who isn't very good at her job.  But she has the help of her ex-boyfriend Morelli and her ex-whatever-you-call-him security expert Ranger. You can't forget Lulu, Stephanie's partner, who is overweight and a former 'ho.  And, um, she calls herself that, so I'm okay typing it here, right? Lulu has some important parts in #18 of the series--yay! And Stephanie herself isn't quite as, um, busy with her two men. I was getting a little worried about her in #17.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Irises by Francisco X. Stork

I hope this author sounds familiar to you? He tackled autism in Marcelo in the Real World and at-risk kids in The Last Summer of the Death Warriors. Both are worth a look if you missed them!

Kate and Mary are two sisters (ages 16 and 18) living in El Paso, Texas. Their mother is in a vegetative state, but their religious father won't even contemplate pulling the plug.  But when their preacher father suddenly dies, the two girls must make some serious decisions. Follow their dreams? Follow their father's wishes? Try to make it on their own? Or together? Should they make decisions based on love or money right now?

Isn't that a great cover? I also loved how the author tackled issues like euthanasia and death without resorting to something as sappy as a Lurlene McDaniel plot line.

Pink Smog:Becoming Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block

Fans of Weetzie Bat will appreciate this prequel, but I wasn't a huge fan of Block's series (I know, shame on this librarian!) The writing still has its lyrical moments, and there is plenty of magical realism to confuse me.

Louise is 13 and bullied at school. The mean girls tease her, her mom is a drunk, and her father has left them for some unknown reason recently.  With the help of some new friends, Weetzie (as her dad calls her) gains some confidence and is able to get strong enough to survive her life.

I didn't appreciate the subplot with the notes (you'll understand if you read it)--I felt like it wrapped up too nicely at the end.

But girls, if you've ever wanted to see why Weetzie became what she did, this is the book for you!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

I have caught the steampunk bug like many of America's teens so I was anxious to read the tale of a steampunk Cinderella.

Cinder is a cyborg--part human and part machine. She isn't sure why, but parts of her have been replaced with mechanical parts--her spine, her foot, her hand, etc.  As a cyborg, she isn't a real citizen of New Beijing. She is "owned" by her step-mother.  It's a futuristic society, too--everyone has an ID chip embedded in his or her wrist.  Add in a plague, too, okay? (I swear, this sounds like a lot going on, but it blends together easily) Cinder is a mechanic who fixes droids and robots, but she finds out that she isn't quite who she thinks she is.  When the evil queen of the moon arrives on Earth to arrange her own marriage with Prince Kai, all of Earth falls under her spell, but, for some reason, Cinder is immune to her witchy ways.

I think this book will be popular with younger teen readers--nothing edgy here, but lots of fast action and sci fi romance.

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, Read by Carrington MacDuffie

I can't remember who recommended this adult book to me, but I'm not sure if I like you for it or not! I usually love reading anything about flappers and F. Scott Fitzgerald, so I dove into this tale of Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.  Unfortunately, I didn't know much about Papa Hemingway's private life until I listened to this novel, and now I've lost almost all respect for the man. He's an idiot.  Good old Ernest wanted to live the good life and be a married man and have a mistress.  At the same time.  And he ruined his wife's self-esteem (what little she had to begin with) by making her feel like doo-doo for not wanting to live with her husband's mistress.  Really, Ernest? You think you're such a great man that you deserve two women in your life?  Ugh....makes me sick.  Thank God, Hadley finally leaves him.  And Ernest moves on to have 4 wives before killing himself.  Serves him right....he was a sick bastard.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: a Novel in Pictures by Caroline Preston

I'm so glad I interlibrary loaned the official copy of this book instead of reading the Advance Reader's Edition!  Beautiful!  I'm a sucker for anything from the 1920's, so this quick scrapbook read was perfect for me!

Frankie decides to keep a scrapbook of her life, using an old typewriter from her attic and memorabilia from her life.  This book is the result. You can follow her as she graduates from high school, has an affair (kind of), attends Vassar, and ships off to Paris to try her hand at being a writer.

The story is nothing new, but the world of flappers portrayed in scrapbook form is--great pick as a 2012 Alex Award winner!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy, Read by Sile Bermingham

This is the continued story from Heart and Soul--the same cast of characters is back and living life as usual.  This tale focuses on Noel, a young alcoholic, who suddenly finds himself a father to young Frankie.  He needs the help of all those around him to raise her, and there is the usual coming together of characters in love/life, and everything else.  It's typical Maeve Minchy and, as usual, I want to go to Ireland!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long, Jim DeMonakos, and Nate Powell

This Junior Library Guild selection is a great graphic novel addition to a Civil Rights section.  It's 1968 in Houston and a black family and a white family are dealing with the events that are happening in Texas and around the United States.  Sure, the story has been told before, but this graphic novel is the gripping kind of story that you want to read all in one sitting. Folks, the N-word is everywhere, but there's nothing here that shouldn't be in any high school library.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Crossing the Tracks by Barbara Stuber

If you ever need a good young adult to read, check out the Morris Award winners.  Given to the top YA books published by new authors, the award is a varied list of anything you might like.  This title was a 2011 winner and has been on my list to read since.  Who can resist the glowing suitcase on the cover?

It's 1926 in Missouri and Iris is shipped off to be an old lady's "companion" for the summer while her dad is busy with his new girlfriend and shoe store in Kansas City.  Iris's life isn't that great, and the change of pace is actually a plus for her.  She's fifteen and learning a lot about life.  It's a classic coming-of-age story, told in 1926 Missouri, so that's a plus for me!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

I was on the Alex Award committee that gave this author's Mudbound an award because it was amazing historical fiction. I remember comparing it to To Kill a Mockingbird. So Jordan's second novel is quite a switch!

Hannah Payne was raised a traditionalist--obey the men in your life, follow God and His Church, and don't stir up trouble.  But now she is a Chrome--dyed red by her government because she had an abortion.  Not only did she sin (and murder), she refused to name the father of her baby or the abortionist.

Jordan plays homage to Hawthorne with a quote at the beginning and The Scarlett Letter theme continues throughout the book.  This adult novel could easily be used as a companion novel to the classic, but it also raises some interesting questions about government intervention, morality, herd mentality, and public discrimination of criminals.

I did have an issue with Hannah's sexual awakening in the second half of the book. I don't want to give away any details, but I just think her actions didn't quite fit with the way she was raised.  Yes, I know it was her "awakening" (Thanks, Kate Chopin!), but it still seemed a bit forced in the narration.

All in all, I liked Mudbound much better. But I'll still read her next book! Bring it on, Hillary Jordan!