Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dodger by Terry Pratchett

2013 Printz Award Honor!

One of the highlights of my library career will be listening to our Printz chair Sharon Grover talk to Sir Terry Pratchett on the phone.  That's right, Sir! 

Summon your inner Dickens.....

Seventeen-year-old Dodger (ignore the faulty picture of a kid on the cover) is street-smart and clever--and he knows his way around the London sewers. He makes his living finding things in the sewer and selling them, but is lucky to live with an elderly Jewish man who helps him out. After Dodger saves a beautiful young girl in the streets, he encounters Dickens, serial killer Sweeney Todd, and famous politicians on his way to better himself. 

The writing here is Pratchett's best yet--funny, heart-wrenching, and fast-paced. 

Fever by Mary Beth Keane. Review from Advance Reader's Edition. To be published in March 2013.

Ahh, my first adult novel to be held in my hands since ending my Printz committee reading...It was delicious!

You've heard of Typhoid Mary, right? Well, this is her story--it was new to me! Mary is sent to America to find work like many other Irish. She worked as a laundress, but her true calling was to be a cook. And she was a good one, until she was accused of being a carrier of typhoid. Turns out that she infected 23 people, yet she didn't really notice. The city of New York imprisons her on North Brother Island for three years, mainly because they didn't know what to do with her. She tried to get a lawyer, but a poor Irish woman (who didn't attend church and lived with a man out of wedlock) wasn't getting any sympathy from the public.  When she was finally released, she wasn't supposed to cook again, but, she did, and people sickened again.

I consider this novel "good" historical fiction--it was exactly what I was looking for. I learned some more about the early 1900s in NYC while gaining sympathy for this poor woman who was a victim (but did she deserve it?) of society.

Gods in Alabama. Written and read by Joshilyn Jackson.

Love this!

Arlene has lived in Chicago for years and she has no desire to go back home to Alabama. Something happened there that she doesn't want to think about. But now her African-American boyfriend is thinking marriage and he wants to meet her family. As much as she tries to use racism as an excuse to not go home, she knows that she must give in. 

The secrets in this book are big ones, and the reader can pretty well guess what they are. But the down-home, lovely characters keep you listening. I'm working my way through this author's audiobooks and I'm not disappointed!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Legend by Marie Lu, Read by Mariel Stern and Steven Kaplan.

Non-stop action! I can see why this book is recommended to lovers of The Hunger Games.

June is a child of the Republic--a prodigy who earns rank quickly and is destined to be top-ranked in the Republic's army.

Day is a child of the slums and a rebellious teen--wanted by the Republic and a Robin Hood to his friends.

Of course, the two fall in love. Of course, June sees the errors of the Republic and saves Day.  But, even with the formulaic plot, I can't wait to read the sequel!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Backyard Saints by Joshilyn Jackson

My second take of a Joshilyn Jackson audiobook wasn't as great as the first. The author is a wonderful narrator (how often does that happen?) but the subject got to me.

Ro Grandee is a difficult character to listen to. She's in an abusive marriage, was abused by her father, and can't figure out how to escape...or even if she wants to. Her mother ran away when Ro was 8, and now the mother appears as a card reader in an airport. Ro's fortune? Either she or her husband will die.

After a failed murder attempt, Ro finally leaves. After leaving, she knows that her husband will search for her, but she hopes that her father or mother will protect her.  You know the book will end in violence--but by whom? And on whom?

I just don't understand the mentality of people who take abuse. I'm sorry, but I don't. I know it's probably because I've never been abused or seen anyone close to me abused. I don't understand how someone can put themselves in that situation. So I struggled with the whole concept of Ro finally getting the courage to leave.

I won't give up on this author--I'm going to listen to more by her soon.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail by Cheryl Strayed, Read by Bernadette Dunne.

I've been on a memoir kick lately--strong women making good decisions after making some piss poor ones. Cheryl Strayed is an example. She isn't the best role model--cheating on her husband, unable to handle her mother's death, doing hard drugs for no real reason, but she makes a strange decision that changes her life.

She decides to hike the Pacific Coast Trail. Alone.

Cheryl had a step-father who taught her all about camping and a mother who raised the family in rustic conditions in the forests of Minnesota. But she had never really hiked a day in her life, and had nothing to guide her but a guidebook. Stupid, right? But she makes it, thanks to the people she meets along the trail, almost all of whom were kind, generous, and friendly.

Her story of a summer of hiking shows readers that most people are good and that we all admire strong people. Cheryl was brave to hike such a long distance alone, and she's easy to admire for it. But she's also easy to admire because she grows during the trip. A lot. And the reader grows a tiny bit with her.