Saturday, September 22, 2007

Long time

FYI: I had my baby one day after my last post (good thing I got Lady Friday done!) and haven't been able to read a thing since. Well, I did read the last Harry Potter but nobody needs me to blog about that. I'm back at work, albeit very part-time and no longer as a YA Librarian, but I hope to get some reading and blogging done. Eventually.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Lady Friday (Keys to the Kingdom)--Garth Nix

Title: Lady Friday
Author: Garth Nix
Pages: 304 p.
Publisher: Scholastic Press
ISBN: 9780439700887

I did not want to read this book. This might be surprising to those of you who have read my love letters reviews of the rest of the series (Mister Monday; Grim Tuesday; Drowned Wednesday; Sir Thursday ). Of course I *wanted* to read the book. I just didn't want to read it now--I thought I would read it while in labor and it would get me through it because I love this series so much. And then I started thinking what if I start it and then labor is really quick and I don't finish it and you know I'm not going to have the time once baby #2 is born. And that would be horrible! So I had to read it right away.

I'm going to spare you the summary of the series. Partly because you should just read the former reviews and partly because I'm not in the mood for intelligent coherent sentences.

In Lady Friday, the fifth book of the series, Arthur must find the 5th key and the 5th part of the will. Lady Friday has given him, the Piper and Superior Saturday the chance to find the 5th key by abdicating her control. Of course Arthur smells a rat and doesn't trust her "abdication." He decides to look for the will first and use the will to help him locate the key. Along the way he meets up with his old friends Suzy Turquoise Blue and Fred Initial Numbers Gold.

Once again Arthur's story is alternated with Leaf's. After defeating the spirit-eater from Sir Thursday she is hospitalized on Earth. Unfortunately for her the hospital is run by "Dr. Friday." Leaf is kidnapped by Dr. Lady Friday and transferred to one of the second realms. She learns of Lady Friday's unusual addiction and tries to battle her and get in touch with Arthur.

Fans of the series will not be disappointed in this latest installment. We know by now that of course Arthur will find the will and the key. He is the rightful heir. But will he use the keys? Will he sacrifice his humanity to save his Denizen friends? How far will he go to do the right thing?

In my last review (of Sir Thursday) I mentioned the previous trustees as having characteristics of the 7 deadly sins. Mister Monday--Sloth; Grim Tuesday--Avarice; Drowned Wednesday--Gluttony. I think those are the only ones that are really clear-cut. I'm not sure where Sir Thursday fits in. We've got Lust, Wrath, Envy and Pride left. Sir Thursday could fit Wrath--he did command an army. Lady Friday could fit Lust if you expand the definition to more than just sexual lust. She could also fit Envy--she was jealous of humans and their ability to sleep and dream and be mortal. I'm curious to see if I'm the only one who can see the connection... anyone else out there have any ideas?

Edited 5/14 3:3o pm: Ha! So I'm not reading too much into it! According to wikipedia (which we all know is the source of all knowledge), Lady Friday is afflicted with Lust. Ha ha! And yes, Sir Thursday is wrath. I didn't read any of this before I wrote my reviews. So of course now I'm wondering if the entire world is so much smarter than me. Sigh.
On My Nightstand:

Friday, April 20, 2007

Title: The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs
Author: Jack Gantos
Pages: 185 p.
Publisher: FSG
ISBN: 0374336903

Disturbing. Freaky. Yet riveting. I know there's been a lot of mixed reviews of this book--some people love it, some people hate it. I suspect the people who hate it just can't get over the freakiness of it.

Ivy is 7 years old when she stumbles across the taxidermied-body of her neighbor's mother. Although she screams and is freaked out, she is also strangely fascinated by her neighbor's (71 year old twins Dolph and Ab) activities. She realizes that she too loves her mother as much as the twins' loved theirs and embarks on an apprenticeship with them learning all there is to know about taxidermy.

I finished Love Curse in a day. It's not a very long book and it's pretty hard to put down once you start reading. It's just so... odd. Much like the twins themselves. Half of the story takes place when Ivy is 7 and just learning the secrets of the twins and the other half happens when she is 16 and learns the secrets of her own history. The story is gripping and interesting and definitely leaves the reader with something to think about. Is it possible to love your mother *too* much?

Teens who like mind-blowing books and books that make one think "What the hell??" will be drawn to this one.

On My Nightstand:

New Moon--Stephenie Meyer

Title: New Moon
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Pages: 563 p.
Publisher: Little Brown & Co.
ISBN: 9780316160193

I was a little hesitant to read this because I had heard that it was not as good as Twilight and I loved Twilight... but I wasn't disappointed. Sure, it wasn't as good as Twilight, mostly because Edward's role in the book is largely reduced. But it was still good and the ending made it all worth it.

Those of you who have read Twilight will remember the star-crossed lovers, vampire Edward and human Bella. They overcome great odds and danger to be together. Unfortunately Edward and his vampire family cannot truly change their nature and it's a risk every time klutzy Bella spends time with them. She manages to slice her finger open at her birthday party and that starts a chain of events resulting in the Cullen family moving away to protect her. Of course being a typical teenage girl Bella doesn't see them leaving as a means to protect her, but rather as an indication that they never really loved her, and she feels especially rejected by Edward. After many months of numbness she discovers that she can hear his voice in her head if she does stupid reckless dangerous things. She starts on a path of danger, accompanied by her friend Jacob Black, who is harboring secrets of his own as well as a crush on her.

Most of the story centers on Bella and Jacob's deepening friendship while she struggles to remember Edward while not actively remembering him. Once Jacob starts behaving strangely it's easy to guess what his dark secret is and to predict an eventual confrontation between him and his natural enemy Edward. Jacob is not a replacement for Edward--for either the reader or for Bella. It's not until Edward re-enters Bella's life that the story really picks up.

There were quite a few typos in the book but most readers will probably skip right over them anxiously reading quickly to get back to Edward. The ending is as happy as it can be for these two perfectly (mis)matched lovers, leaving plenty of room for another sequel, hopefully after Bella graduates and Carlisle fulfills his promise. Fans of Twilight will eat this one up too.

On My Nightstand:

Friday, April 13, 2007

Story of a Girl--Sara Zarr

Title: Story of a Girl
Author: Sara Zarr
Pages: 192 p.
Publisher: Little, Brown & Co.
ISBN: 9780316014533

Deanna was only 13 when her father caught her in the backseat of a car with a 17 year old boy doing things that no father should ever have to see. Three years later they both still carry around the pain of that incident. Deanna's been wrongly labeled a slut at school and deals with daily torment by her gossip-mongering peers. Her father can barely look at her, let alone speak to her in anything other than commands or accusations. She dreams of the day when she has enough money to move out with her brother and his girlfriend and their new baby.

This could be called the Story of Many Girls. Aside from actually being caught in the act by your father, lots of young vulnerable girls have similar first time situations--ones filled with regret that they never truly get over. This novel is so realistic it's almost painful. Interspersed throughout the book is Deanna's own writing, her own Story of a Girl, a girl desperately trying to forget her past. It's not until she learns how to forgive can she truly forget--a lesson everyone in the family needs to learn.

This is definitely a girl book, but might appeal to thoughtful boys. Although sex makes up a large part of the storyline the act itself is never described. The story is more about the emotional aftermath--Deanna's shameful regret, her brother Darren's unplanned pregnancy, her parents dysfunctional reaction to both. I would steer this book towards high schoolers, not because of the sex but because they may have more of an understanding of mistakes and regret. I finished this in just a couple of days because I couldn't put it down.

Reading: ?
On My Nightstand: More books

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Life As We Knew It--Susan Beth Pfeffer

Title: Life As We Knew It
Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Pages: 337 p.
Publisher: Harcourt Inc.
ISBN: 0152058265

This was probably not the best time for me to read this book, but I knew there was a request list for it and I felt guilty so I got it done.

Miranda and her family are happily anticipating an meteor hitting the moon. The worst it can do is make another crater right? They have cookies and go outside to watch the show with the rest of their neighbors. But something goes horribly wrong...

The meteor. Suddenly the moon was closer to Earth than it should have been. It's easy to forget how important the moon is--but with it being out of whack the tides were also out of whack, causing huge tsunamis, tornadoes, volcanoes, earthquakes and all sorts of natural disasters. Floods wiped out whole states and countries, killed millions of people and left others with no food, oil, or electricity.

Miranda is one of the lucky ones since her mom freaked out at the beginning and used all her money to stock the house with boxed and canned food. But their food and their luck can't last forever.

Written in journal format, Miranda's story is gripping and heart-breaking. She is a likeable sympathetic character who sacrifices everything to help her family. There was one point that kept bugging me--they had food but no electricity so how were they cooking? It was finally explained that the stove was natural gas and didn't rely on electricity so they were fine cooking. Until the gas ran out. Although it was eventually explained this bugged me because I automatically think of not being able to cook when the electricity is off. Other than that very very minor point, this is a good solid read and highly recommended.

On My Nightstand:

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist--Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Title: Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist
Author: Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Pages: 183 p.
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
ISBN: 0375835318

I read this book in one day. For some of you that might not be a big accomplishment. Considering the fact that I am a full time working mom and if you look at the frequency, or lack thereof, with which I manage to post here, I think you too will agree that this is indeed a big deal for me. I was helped by the fact that I was stuck in a doctor's waiting room and it was a relatively slow night at the ref desk. And that I just *couldn't* put it down.

The story opens with Nick performing with his queercore band and Norah in the audience. Nick sees his ex-girlfriend Tris, panics, and asks complete stranger Norah to be his girlfriend for the next five minutes. Norah knows Tris and for a variety of reasons agrees to Nick's strange request. Five minutes turns into something much much longer.

The story is told from both points of view in alternating chapters. Rachel Cohn wrote the Norah parts and David Levithan wrote the Nick parts. Collaborative novels are always hit and miss with me. Particularly ones that are written this way where one author takes one character; I find that a lot of the time when the one author has to write dialogue for the other character it doesn't sound quite right. Cohn & Levithan managed to avoid this problem. If it hadn't been for the title page I wouldn't have known that two authors wrote this. There were no inconsistencies, nothing sounded false, nothing sounded like it was just thrown together. It's actually quite amazing that both voices were as riveting and compelling as they were.

I loved this book. I couldn't put it down. I was a little upset that I didn't know anything about the queercore punk/metal scene but now I do(thanks wikipedia). There's lots of language in this book--the f bomb makes a regular appearance--as well as sexual situations and it totally suits the characters and the story. Nothing is gratuitous. This is not a middle school novel. It's a wonderfully written, well-told love story for high school teens.

On My Nightstand:

An Abundance of Katherines--John Green

Title: An Abundance of Katherines
Author: John Green
Pages: 227 p.
Publisher: Dutton Books
ISBN: 0525476881

John Green's follow up to his award winning first novel Looking for Alaska is just as entertaining and well-written, although not as heartbreaking. Colin Singleton has made a habit out of only dating (and getting dumped by) girls named Katherine. When Katherine 19 breaks up with him he and his best friend Hassan embark on a road trip to nowhere to break Colin's depression. Colin, who happens to be a child prodigy hoping to one day be a genius, decides to find a formula based on his history with Katherines that would predict the outcome of all romantic relationships. The two get sidetracked in a small town in Tennessee and Colin discovers much more than a formula.

Although Colin is a bit whiny and tends to drive people (Katherines) away with his constant need of approval and his low self-esteem, he is at heart a likable character. The friendship between him and Hassan is realistically portrayed and entertaining. Hassan is the comedic relief who slaps some sense into Colin. In Tennessee they meet up with Lindsey who also brings Colin back to reality.

Green includes footnotes throughout the story, especially when Hassan tells Colin that some piece of knowledge he is about to impart is not interesting, allowing readers to judge for themselves. As a geek, I found the footnotes very interesting. There's also an appendix explaining the math used in the formula. I haven't gotten around to reading that yet but I intend to.

While this is by no means a fluffy feel good novel, it is not as emotionally heartbreaking or significant as Alaska. It is a bit lighter, with funnier moments, and a less intense plot. It is definitely an enjoyable read and highly recommended. I think it would suit high schoolers more since they tend to have more of a romantic life-history and the angst that goes along with graduating from high school and not knowing what's going on in your life.

On My Nightstand:

Monday, February 05, 2007

Among the Hidden--Margaret Peterson Haddix

Title: Among the Hidden
Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix
Pages: 153 p.
Publisher: Aladdin Paperbacks (Follettbound)
ISBN: 0329239317

I don't know why I never picked this series up before, but somehow I missed it. My middle school boys recommended it for our Feb. book group and I agreed. I'm glad I did.

Luke is a 12 year old boy who has never been seen in public. He is a third child or a "shadow child"; illegal because of the authoritarian government's population law, he must live his life in hiding. He has always followed the rules carefully and taken his hiding very seriously until one day he sees the face of a child in a house window--a house with a family that already had 2 kids. He becomes obsessed with this face and dares to leave his house and break in to his neighbor's house searching for it. He is rewarded with a young adolescent girl, Jen, who is also a third child but one without fear. She "hides" but she's set up mirrors so she can still look outside and no one can see her. She sets up a secret chat room so she can talk to other shadow children. She is determined that one day she and Luke and all the other thirds will be free. When Jen disappears after attending a rally for shadow children rights, Luke's safety is compromised and he must make a serious decision--to stay in hiding the rest of his life or to accept help from the last place he thought it would come.

This is just the first in a series and readers will definitely want to continue and see what happens to Luke. Although Luke is stuck in his house for most of the story there is enough action and suspense to keep readers entertained. I was outraged at the idea of the government interfering in people's reproductive choices, but some governments already do. Among the Hidden does a good job of raising serious questions about government abuse while remaining a really good story.

Reading: Nothing yet
On My Nightstand:

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Girl, Going on 17, Pants on Fire--Sue Limb

Title: Girl, Going on 17, Pants on Fire
Author: Sue Limb
Pages: 233 p
Publisher: Delacorte Press
ISBN: 038573218x

This is the 3rd book in this series and just as funny as the first two. Jess Jordan really knows how to get herself in trouble--after spending the summer worrying about her boyfriend cheating on her because of some miscommunication, she lets yet another miscommunication break them up the day before school is to begin. From there her school year just gets worse and worse.

Jess is a funny likeable character. Girls who liked the Louise Rennison books will be attracted to all of Jess's mishaps and her Britishisms but will like Jess even more because she's not as mean-spirited as Georgia Nicholson is. Jess is just a confused teenage girl with delicate self esteem who would like the world to revolve around her but knows it doesn't. I heartily recommend this entire series to middle and high school girls alike. Boys probably won't be as interested.

Reading: Among the Hidden--Margaret Peterson Haddix
On My Nightstand:

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Cruise Control--Terry Trueman

Title: Cruise Control
Author: Terry Trueman
Pages: 149 p.
Publisher: HarperTempest
ISBN: 0066239605

I read Stuck in Neutral many years ago, but just re-read it for my middle school book group. I remember the book having a big impact on me the first time I read it, but reading it while being pregnant was even more of an emotional experience. I continued on with Cruise Control hoping I would get some sort of closure. Cruise Control is set in the same time period at Stuck in Neutral but it's told from older brother Paul's point of view. Some of the events from SIN are mirrored in CC and it gives a more complete picture of the McDaniel family home life. Paul is a loving brother, even if he can't express it, and his difficulties of being a sibling to a "vegetable" are realistically portrayed. This is NOT a sequel. It's not necessary to have read SIN first, but the experience of reading CC is so much more complete and meaningful when you have read SIN.

I was hoping for closure--for some clue as to what the father was going to do with Shawn (the developmentally disabled "vegetable") but Trueman doesn't give it up. Once again the ending can be interpreted in more than one way. People who are more positive are given a glimmer of hope that maybe Shawn and Paul's Dad will be interrupted and rethink his plan (to end his child's suffering). Those who aren't quite so positive can see it the opposite way--that Paul will be too late.

CC is not quite as strong as SIN but that's just because it's told from a different point of view. I shouldn't say it's not as strong. It's not as painfully moving as SIN was, but it's still a great book.

(side note--I finally got approved for the new blogger, so now I have labels! woo-hoo!)
Reading: Nothing yet
On My Nightstand: Saline Spray and tissues

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