Sunday, November 27, 2005

Drowned Wednesday (The Keys to the Kingdom)--Garth Nix

Oh Garth Nix, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways....
1. Sabriel 2. Lirael 3. Abhorsen 4. Mister Monday 5. Grim Tuesday 6. Drowned Wednesday.

I devoured Drowned Wednesday in just a couple of days. Arthur is at the hospital recupperating from a broken leg and telling Leaf all about his crazy adventures in the House when he decides to be proactive, return to the House and deal with Wednesday instead of waiting for her (she had already sent him an invitation to lunch that he couldn't refuse and claimed that transportation was arranged). Just when he decides not to wait for Wednesday's transportation and to do something instead of be vulnerable, his hospital room is flooded and he and Leaf are transported to a huge sea. Leaf is picked up by the ship meant for Arthur, but Arthur is stranded on his hospital bed. He manages to get picked up by a salvage ship, but not before disturbing some buried treasure and being marked with "the red hand" so he can't escape the wrath of the pirate who "owns" the treasure. Arthur must defeat the pirate, rescue Leaf, confront Drowned Wednesday, find the Third Part of the Will, get the Third Key, and save a whole bunch of lives before Wednesday is over.

This is a great adventure series that should appeal to loads of people. There's the familiar story of a boy who has been chosen to save the world when all he wants is to be left alone, but there's so much more to it. There's a lot of depth that older readers will appreciate. There's humor. Arthur is a very likeable character (did I say that last time?). I can't wait for the rest of this series!
On My Nightstand: Girls Dinner Club--Jessie Elliot

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Boyfriend List--E. Lockhart

Fifteen year old Ruby has everything going for her, a group of best friends, a perfect boyfriend, interesting albeit annoying parents, and then she loses it all (except the parents) and has panic attacks instead. Trying to figure out what went wrong, Ruby starts therapy and comes up with the reason: boys. She comes up with a list of all her boyfriends, even the ones that were imagined and unofficial and crushes from afar.

Ruby (Roo) is a funny typical boy-obsessed teenage girl. At times she is shallow and self-centered, and other times she really is the victim of her cruel peers. Her best friend is right that she was not meant to be with her "perfect boyfriend" (I thought his unique valentine's gift--half a carnation--was nice, but Roo wanted the everyday roses and didn't see the value in being different) but that doesn't mean her best friend should go out with him! What kind of a friend is that? Roo is not the nicest to her friends either--she snubs the only friends who really appreciate her. But she comes around in the end.

I liked The Boyfriend List. Roo is a likeable character, even with her faults. There were a couple of times when I was confused as to what was happening when, but no more confused than when I talk to real teenage girls.... and I think it was more a problem with my mommy brain than with the writing. It all made sense in the end. :-)

I think high school girls will appreciate the story more--they have more of a history with boys than middle school girls. Although middle schoolers are getting just as cliquey as high schoolers, and they are definitely into boys, it just reads more like a high school book. And there are some references to certain, um, acts, that I hope middle schoolers don't know. Although these days, you never can tell. I'm reading this with my high school book group in January so we'll see what they say...

Reading: Drowned Wednesday--Garth Nix
On My Nightstand: Girls Dinner Club--Jessie Elliot

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Grim Tuesday--Garth Nix

I finished the second book in The Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix last night. It took a little while for me to get into it. It wasn't as initially gripping as the first one was, but once the story picked up, I liked it.

Arthur thinks he can just go home and rest when he's done with Mister Monday, but once Tuesday hits he's faced with a whole new challenge! Grim Tuesday is the wielder of the Second Key and a cruel slave-driver. He's opened a pit to Nothing so that he can copy great works of art and sell them to the other Days. He's a cruel master and things are not going well. He tries to trick Arthur into handing over the First Key and Mastery of the Lower House by claiming that Monday owes him for all of the "stuff" he's given him over the centuries and that Arthur must repay Monday's debt. Arthur doesn't fall for it and is sent to the Pit. He must escape the Pit, find the second part of the Will, claim the Second Key, battle Grim Tuesday and control the leaking Nothing before he can even think about going home.

I can't wait to start Drowned Wednesday and I think Thursday comes out in March. This is a really unique series and there's so much in it on so many different levels. I highly recommend...

Reading: Dunno yet
On My Nightstand: Girls Dinner Club--Jessie Elliot, others are coming

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Top Ten

These are my top ten books... in no particular order... all of them are suitable for YA even if not orginally published that way. There are way more books that I could have included here but these are the first ones that popped into my mind. Some of these annotations are from bookmarks I've done for the library because I do not feel like making new ones.

Rats Saw God
Rob Thomas
In order to graduate on time, failing Steve York agrees to write his life story in 100 pages. As he writes his story, we realize why he went from an “A” student to a troubled teen and he realizes that his life doesn’t have to be as difficult as he makes it.

Perks of Being a Wallflower
Stephen Chbosky
Perks is the story of a young boy’s mental breakdown but is told through letters rather than traditional narrative. A true coming of age story, Perks will resonate with teens who are dealing with their own demons, while also leaving them with hope that even if things are not good, “they will be soon enough.”

Princess Bride
William Goldman
This is the only book/movie combo that I loved equally! I've read the book so many times. It's supposedly an "abridged" version of a much older work by some old guy. It's not. Goldman completely made up this fairy tale story of true love and adventure. In the book it's Goldman's father who is telling the story to him.

Stravaganza: City of Masks (and the rest in the trilogy)
Mary Hoffman
In this first book of a planned trilogy, courageous fifteen-year old British boy Lucien wages an all out war with cancer and is rewarded with a gift from his father in the form of a beautiful notebook that transports him into the fantastical world of 16th-century Bellezza, a place where he is miraculously healthy.

Golden Compass (and the rest in the trilogy)
Philip Pullman
Lyra and Will explore the mysteries of dust and the meaning of life and love in this engrossing trilogy.

Sabriel (and the rest in the trilogy)
Garth Nix
The Abhorsen and her offspring battle the ultimate evil and keep the border between life and death secure.

Keeping the Moon
Sarah Dessen
I love all of Sarah Dessen's books, but this is the first one I read so it has a special place in my heart. Colie is a former overweight girl who spends her summer living with her fitness guru aunt and working at a restaurant with two twenty-something girls. Colie didn't have any close female friends and the older girls adopted her. At the time I didn't have any close female friends either and this book really spoke to me.

Dark is Rising Series
Susan Cooper
I read this series when I was 10 years old. Will Stanton is the last of the "old ones," a mysterious group of wizard like people. He must battle the forces of evil and save the world. The was written way before the phenomena that is Harry Potter, and is in many ways a superior series.

The Once and Future King
T.H. White
I love King Arthur, so much so that I took a college class entirely devoted to the Arthurian legend. I loved this book when I read it as a teenager. It tells the story of King Arthur as a young boy nicknamed Wart and how he grows up to be the Once and Future King.

On the Road
Jack Kerouac
I wrote my undergrad thesis on Jack Kerouac, as well as a major seminar paper my senior year of college, for a total of 60 pages all about Jack... I fear that Kerouac is lost to today's teens, but his most popular road trip novel really resonated with me when I was a teen. Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty will always be classic figures of literature for me.

Honorable mentions
Sign of the Qin
L.G. Bass
Based on Chinese legends, this engrossing first book in a trilogy introduces the major characters in an upcoming battle between good and evil, focusing on the Chosen One, the young Starlord prophesied to save the world from evil.

Young Wizards Series
Diane Duane
I read the first one in this series when I was a teen and never knew there were sequels... until I became a YA librarian myself! There have been seven of eight books now and in each one Nita and Kit are wizards sworn to preserve life and fight the Lone One—the power responsible for creating death.

Reading: Grim Tuesday--Garth Nix
On My Nightstand: Others

Monday, October 24, 2005

Mister Monday (The Keys to the Kingdom) -- Garth Nix

I don't know why I waiting so long to start this series. I finally picked the first one up just to see if it's really YA since so many libraries have it in J. I think it's YA. Definitely middle school, and that's YA in my library...

Arthur Penhaligon is starting seventh grade in a new school. Unbeknownst to him the entire seventh grade is forced to participate in a cross country run on every Monday, and naturally he's starting school on Monday. Even though he's a severe asmastic Arthur doesn't have a note from his doctor because he didn't know he needed to bring one... he tries to do the run anyway and winds up passing out.

While he's struggling to breathe he witnesses a strange interaction between a couple of men who just appeared out of thin air. A man being wheeled in a bath tub carriage gives Arthur a key (the minute hand to a huge clock) in the hopes that Arthur will die and he can take the key back having fulfilled his part of a Will demanding he give the key to a mortal. But Arthur doesn't die and is instead revived by the Key. Thus enters Mister Monday, the lesser Key to the House, and the strangeness begins...

I love Garth Nix. I loved the Sabriel trilogy. This isn't quite as great as that trilogy (at least not yet) but it's still pretty good. It's a great fantasy about a young boy who has to save the world when all he wants to do is be home and have friends. Kids who like Harry Potter will like Arthur and this series. There's so much more to it than a simple save the world scenario. Nix has created a really unique idea that I don't want to diminish by trying to explain. Careful readers will recognize the religious allegory, but it's not necessary for the story... kids who don't pick it up won't be any less satisfied. I think younger middle school kids will like the fantasy elements and older teens will like the deeper meanings.

I can't wait to start Grim Tuesday next...

Reading: Grim Tuesday--Garth Nix
On My Nightstand: Drowned Wednesday-- Garth Nix

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Jailbait--Leslea Newman

This book has been on my nightstand for a little while... I had another library's copy (in fact the only other copy in the system) because mine was checked out. Apparently the day my copy came back (isn't that rather possessive of me? I should say my library's copy, but let's face it I *am* the YA Librarian and that teen section is mine, baby!). Where was I? Oh yeah, the day my copy came back, a father saw it on the shelf and decided it wasn't appropriate. He filled out a form and everything. I just happened to check my e-mail on a Sunday evening and my co-worker had e-mailed me to tell me what happened, so I was able to read most of the other library's copy and be prepared when I went to work on Monday. It's still an official process that I probably can't talk about. I will update when I can...

Andi is an overweight, vulnerable girl in 1971. Her best friend has moved away. Her brother is in college. Her parents are self-involved people. She's picked on at school, friendless and pretty isolated from anyone who could help her. She's walking home from school one day and an older man drives by and waves. She's intrigued by him and begins fantasizing about him. After repeatedly driving past her, one day he stops. She gets in his car. (This is where the new mom in me said "That's it, my children go nowhere without me until they're 30!"). He takes her to an abandoned house and they become more and more intimate, until after her 16th birthday when they "go all the way." She lies to him and tells him her name is "Vanessa" but she knows nothing about him at all. She foolishly believes she is going to marry this man but she doesn't know his last name or where he lives or how to reach him. She is beyond stupid, but it's realistic. Teenage girls, especially ones with self-esteem issues (um, all of them) and ones who have no one to say "Dude, wake up!" do stupid things. I am so glad I had a boy first. (Yes another baby reference, deal with it.) Things progress and get creepier and creepier until Andi finally realizes that she's engaging in risky behavior and learns her lesson. The book has a strong moral lesson and it's clear that this is a cautionary tale.

Aside from the author saying "This is 1971" there were no clues as to the time period. There were no internet or cell phones, so I suppose it was easier for Andi to be cut off from people, but other than that there wasn't a very good sense of setting.

I admit that while I was reading this I was looking for things that could be objectionable and arguments against those objections, so my review is probably a bit skewed... it's not great literature, I didn't enjoy it as much as I've enjoyed the other controversial books I've read this year, but it's an important book and it deserves to be read.

Reading: Mister Monday--Garth Nix
On My Nightstand: Grim Tuesday, Drowned Wednesday--Garth Nix

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Sandpiper--Ellen Wittlinger

Sandpiper Hollow Ragsdale is not even 16 yet, but she's got a pretty bad reputation as a slut--with good reason. Believing that oral sex is not "real sex", she willingly and easily performs it for multiple boys at school. Not interested in having any of them as actual boyfriends, she quickly moves on from one boy to the next until she meets...

The Walker is an 18 year old boy who lives alone and spends his days walking through the town and his nights stocking shelves at a store. He refuses to get in a car, but can diagnose skidmarks on the road. He is a loner, keeps his personal information to himself and likes to stay in the background until he meets Sandpiper.

The Walker renames her Piper, because Sandpiper is too weird and Sandy is too normal. He and Piper begin a friendship and help each other overcome their pasts and look forward to the future.

At times I wanted to strangle Piper, but that was the point. She didn't start out as a very sympathetic character, but as the book went on she matured and realized that her actions affected more people than just herself. Wittlinger's novel is about a controversial topic--oral sex--but she doesn't sensationalize it. The act itself is never described or depicted, but it is referred to numerous times. Piper uses the familiar slang to describe it. Although Piper doesn't think that oral sex is real sex, Wittlinger makes clear that it is and that even though pregnancy is not a threat, there are consequences for her actions.

I liked the relationship between the Walker and Piper. I liked Piper's parents. They were absent enough to let Piper deal with the consequences, but in the end they were there to help her pick up the pieces.

This is an important book and should be mandatory reading for all girls who think that just because they don't have intercourse they are still virgins and can have oral sex as often and with whomever they want. Definitely high school reading, although middle school girls are engaging in this behavior as well, and may benefit from reading this.

Reading: The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke--Suze Orman
On My Nightstand: Jailbait, Keys to the Kingdom series

Friday, September 30, 2005

This is not a review

I'm preparing my book group questions and I'm working on Nov's book (Looking for Alaska--John Green). Naturally I've been searching the Internets for already made questions 'cuz I'm lazy like that. No such luck, but I came across John Green's blog. And then Andrew Auseon's (Funny Little Monkey) blog. I created a new section over there (to the right) for YA Author blogs because there are a gazillion of them. Remember when authors were so untouchable? Now they're blogging like the rest of us. I bet they even go to the grocery store. Anyway, my point... both of these guys (who you should totally read BTW, the books and the blogs) are my age, actually slightly younger, and they sound wicked cool and they have books and they write and one of them has a baby too and there's this group of YA authors and they all talk to each other and I wish I was a part of it.

That is all.

On My Nightstand:

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Last Universe--William Sleator

Susan and Gary have always known their huge garden was a little odd--Gary has embraced it while Susan has feared it. Forced to take her invalid brother to the garden everyday, Susan resents the demand on her time, as well as being forced to go to the spooky garden she has never liked. But the more Gary goes in to the garden--particularly the Quantum maze--the stronger and better he feels and Susan is obligated to make her brother well. The Quantum maze sends the siblings to other universes--parallel universes--some of them better and some of them not.

This was a real freaky book. The ending completely threw me off. I liked it--I want to know more about Quantum and whether or not the science in this book is "real." Remember that show Quantum Leap? It all makes sense to me now.

Reading: Who
On My Nightstand: Knows?

Before Wings--Beth Goobie

Fifteen year old Adrien is barely recovering from her brain aneurysm 2 years earlier when she is sent to work at her aunt's summer camp. Adrien is constantly waiting for another aneurysm to kill her and spends most of her time being bitter and grumpy and feeling trapped between the real world and a spirit world. She meets a boy--Paul--who also has a connection to the spirit world and eventually decides she wants to be part of the living world.

This book had a lot of potential--I really liked the idea of a girl trapped between two worlds. I liked Adrien's attraction to Paul. I liked Paul. But it seemed like it fizzled at the end. There was a great buildup that led to a disappointing finish. I was expecting more at the climax and the resolution afterwards. It seemed like Goobie gave up, like she didn't know where she wanted to go with the story.

Reading: Either Jailbait or Mister Monday. Not sure yet
On My Nightstand: More, more, more

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Claiming Georgia Tate -- Gigi Amateau (Contains spoilers)


Georgia Tate cuts her vacation with her father short when he touches her innapropriately. She tells her grandmother who comes to get her right away. Foolishly thinking she's protecting Georgia from embarassment, she does not tell her husband what has happened. Georgia doesn't offer to tell him either. It doesn't matter much until her grandmother dies and Georgia's grandfather thinks she should live with her own dad instead of take care of an old man like him. Georgia is afraid to tell her grandfather the truth and reluctantly agrees to live with her father.

Georgia manages to avoid her father's advances until one night he gets drunk and rapes her. She knows he has crossed the line and she seeks refuge with the transvestite who lives in her apartment building. He convinces her to talk to her grandfather and eventually the police. Her grandfather sends money for her to take a bus home. Unfortunately, her grandfather gets into a car accident before she arrives and is in the hospital instead of picking her up at the bus station. The novel ends on a hopeful note with her and her grandfather reuniting and recognizing that they are a family.

This is a very disturbing, haunting novel. I've begun to read things differently--I used to always identify with the teen protagonist but lately I've started to identify with the parents too (*gasp*). I just can't fathom how a parent could ever hurt a child like that. I think this was even harder for me to read now that I've crossed that line (the parent line). This is not an easy read, but it's well worth it. I think high schools girls will eat it up, but middle school girls could benefit from this as well. If Georgia had been honest with her grandfather, this tragedy could have been prevented. Sadly there are lots of girls that are probably in the same situation and don't know how to get out.

Reading: Before Wings -- Beth Goobie
On My Nightstand: a bunch

Invisible -- Pete Hautman

Doug and Andy are best friends. Doug is obsessed with trains, particularly his model trains and the community he creates with them in his basement. Andy is a football player and actor who still manages to be there when Doug needs him. Doug and Andy are inseparable, even though Doug's therapist would like to see Doug forget all about Andy.

Pete Hautman has written another great book (Godless). At the risk of giving anything away, let's just say that not everything is as it seems. Engrossing and well-written, recommend this book to boys. High school boys seem the likely target, although there's nothing preventing middle schoolers from reading as well. Girls who read anything and everything will enjoy it too.

On My Nightstand:

Talk -- Kathe Koja

Attempting to escape his own life for a while, Kit auditions for a play and is cast as the lead in a controversial story. Although he's never had any official acting experience, he blows away the other cast members and eventually the audience with his ability. He's been "acting" his entire life--hiding the fact that he's gay. The play gives him the confidence to kind of come out to his parents--the words are never spoken but there seems to be an understanding and acceptance between them.

The story is told from two points of view: Kit's and Lindsay, the female lead in the play. She's a regular in the school plays and believes everyone else is beneath her until she meets Kit. She is attracted to his talent and his UNinterest in her.

Scenes from the play are interspersed throughout the story and help frame the inner conflicts faced by both Kit and Lindsay. Well-written, good plot, good characters; junior and high school students are probably the best audience. A sub-plot of censorship surrounding the controversial play is particularly interesting in today's censorship-prone climate.

On My Nightstand:

The Destiny of Linus Hoppe -- Anne-Laure Bondoux

I did a bunch of reading over the last couple of weeks when I was on vacation...

The Destiny of Linus Hoppe has an intriguing premise-- there's a test that high schoolers must take to decide where they will live/work after graduation. The smartest students will stay in the clean, safe, richer realm one. Other students will go to the blue-collar worker-class realm and still others will go the third realm for "rejects" and rebels. Linus decides that he wants to change his destiny. He and his friend hack into the computer that makes the decisions in order to change the realm he is meant to be in.

The story is interesting and I'm vaguely curious as to what happens in the next books, but the text just wasn't written very well. The dialogue didn't feel realistic. The entire time I read it I felt like I was reading a bad translation, and sure enough it *is* a translation. I'd like to know what happens to Linus but not enough to read the next books. I'll take the summary instead.

On My Nightstand:

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Manny -- Sarah L. Thomson

An entertaining diversionary read, I picked this up because my sister was a nanny in the Hamptons and I thought it would amuse me. It mostly did. It's kind of fluffy, which is not what I usually read, but it's what I needed at the moment so it all worked out well. The main character (is his name Josh? It could be, I don't really remember) is a male nanny out in the Hamptons so he can pick up girls. He learns that there's more to life than picking up girls and there's more to being a nanny than just taking the kid to the park.

It was a light quick read, girls would probably like it more than boys even though the main character is a boy. It's good for middle schoolers, and although the main character is obsessed with girls, the romance never passes the kissing stage.

Reading: Talk--Kathe Koja; The Power Broker--Robert A. Caro
On My Nightstand: Before Wings--Beth Goobie

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Funny Little Monkey--Andrew Auseon

I'm too tired to write intelligently... Arty is a midget and his twin brother is huge. They don't get along well. Arty plots revenge with the school underground, but winds up learning more about himself along the way... Good book. Arty was a bit of a jerk. The one problem I had was with Leslie-- the beautiful girl Arty is infatuated with who notices him one day and befriends him. Arty goes from being obsessed with her to thinking how mean she is... but there's only one slight incident to back this up. There should have been more of her mean side to explain Arty's sudden disapproval of her.

Other than that, I liked it. Hey, it's got monkey in the title.

**9/30/05 I fully admit I am adding to this review because I just linked to the author's blog and I don't want him to find it and think that i am some illiterate reviewer without words. so there. although, if he were to find it, he should give me a break since he's a new dad and knows the pain of sleep deprivation. but he didn't do the birthing so he doesn't know you lose your brain in the process. and apparently capital letters. hmmm. but i digress.

So, Arty suffers from Hormone Growth Deficiency. He's really small and in an ironic twist of fate, his twin brother is huge. Dad couldn't deal with Arty's treatment and all the doctors so he ran out. Mom has been trying to make ends meet. The boys lash out at each other--Kurt physically and Arty verbally. Arty enlists the help of the school underground to get revenge on Kurt for his abuse. Led by a cool high schooler nicknamed Kerouac (which will probably be lost on the rotten teens today who aren't reading On the Road), they wind up teaching Kurt *and* Arty a lesson.

I liked Kerouac. I liked the idea of an underground of students gathering information and helping others. Like I said above, I wanted a little more about Leslie and why Arty stops liking her. Don't get me wrong--I saw through her from the beginning, but Arty was so enamored and then it seemed like all of a sudden he wasn't. But overall, I really did enjoy it.

And I still like that monkey is in the title.

Reading: The Manny--Sarah L. Thomson
On My Nightstand: more

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince--J.K. Rowling

No spoilers here.

Much better than the last felt much tighter, like it was actually edited. I don't want to give anything away, so I'll just say that I enjoyed it and am looking forward to the next one and the conclusion of the series.

Reading: Nothing
On My Nightstand: ??

Sleep Rough Tonight--Ian Bone

Alex used to be cool... until his dad called the police and ratted on Alex's criminal friend, the Jockey. The Jockey gets sent to juvenile detention and Alex is ostracized. He's willing to do anything to get attention--inluding deliberately baiting the bullies so they will beat him up and notice him. Then one day the Jockey comes back and decides he's going to "help" Alex become a man by showing him what it's like to live on the streets for a weekend and have to survive with nothing but your own wit and cunning. But can Alex survive?

Bone has written a gripping, engaging story. Alex is annoying--but he's supposed to be annoying. He easily falls for the Jockey's "big brother" act, but with the help of a true friend he realizes what it means to really be a man.

Reading: Nothing right now
On My Nightstand: lots

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Stravaganza: City of Flowers--Mary Hoffman

No time for a proper review... loved this book, not as much as the first one, but I still enjoyed it. It wraps up the series nicely while still leaving it open. Hoffman says on her website that she might write more but with different characters.

This one wasn't quite as strong as the first two, but I still recommend it. The entire series would be great to use in the classroom or as recreational reading.

Someday I'll write a better review, but not today.

Reading: Nothing
On My Nightstand: Lots

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Gospel According to Larry--Janet Tashijian

I just got around to reading this... I don't know why I hadn't before. I'm in the midst of summer reading program craziness... so no time for a proper review, but here's a quickie:

Josh Swensen uses his alter-ego Larry to philosophize about materialism and consumerism and why the world is bad. Larry's website "" becomes insanely popular and despite his original intentions he becomes the very thing he rants against--a "celebrity" at the center of consumerism.

I liked it--it was a quick read--I didn't find it "didactic" like some people did. The lesson was there, but I enjoyed the story too.

Reading: ?
On My Nightstand:

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Quid Pro Quo--Vicki Grant

In the interest of full disclosure--I've read this book because the author sent me a free copy (and signed it too!) after finding this blog.

Cyril MacIntyre is not your average teenager. He accompanied his mother to law school from 10 years old until he was 13. He attended her classes and helped her cram for exams. When she gets a job with an attorney, he even helps out in the law office. All of this legal experience comes to good use when his mother winds up missing and he suspects foul play.

The style and tone are very reminiscent of the author's other work--The Puppet Wrangler. It's funny. Cyril's a good kid but not perfect. He remembers certain things from law school, but not everything. He's not some super-smart kid who automatically saves the day.

I particularly enjoyed this book since I married a lawyer... I threw out the term "estoppel" the other day and my husband was very surprised. And he thinks I learn nothing from reading fiction.

There are some Canadian references that may be lost on American readers, but nothing sticks out in my head right now, so there couldn't have been that many.

Quid Pro Quo is a good, quick read and will interest boys looking for a little hero adventure and anyone interested in the law. And I'm not just saying that.

Reading: Stravaganza: City of Flowers--Mary Hoffman
On My Nightstand: Lots

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Gifts--Ursula K. Le Guin

Take a gander at the date my friends, yes, that's right. I read another book. And it didn't take me 2 months! I'd tell you my secret but I don't feel like it.

Orrec and Gry are friends from childhood growing up in a mystical place. There are different families or lineages, much like clans, and they each have their own unique "gift." Some are benign like communicating with animals, but others are more sinister like "unmaking" (killing). Orrec's lineage is with the unmakers. Gry's family are callers--they can communicate with animals. While Gry uses her gift to train horses, her mother uses hers to call animals to the hunt--luring animals to be slaughtered. She pressures her daughter to do the same, but Gry would rather not call animals to be killed. Orrec longs for signs that he has the gift as well, until he and his father begin to believe that he has the "wild gift"-- a gift that cannot be controlled. To protect his family he blindfolds himself--he cannot harm them if he cannot see them. He and Gry learn to live without using their gifts.

Gifts is by the same author who did the Earthsea books. I loved those books. Gifts is not quite as strong as them, but it's still a pretty good book. The plot is interesting and the characters are well-developed (except for one who only exists to be an outsider that needs explanations so they can start the narrative), although Orrec is slightly annoying at times. Readers who enjoyed Lois Lowry's The Giver will also enjoy this one.

On My Nightstand:

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Looking for Alaska--John Green

Miles aka Pudge (because he's so skinny) is looking for his "Great Perhaps"--his life-altering experience. He finds it when he goes to a private school and finds friends. His roommate Chip is appropriately nicknamed the Colonel and leads his friends through pranks and good times. Sharing in the fun is crazy Alaska, a wild, carefree girl with deep dark wounds that only occasionally surface. The fact that these kids are all wicked smart and spend time studying as well as partying adds to the book's coolness.

The characters are all interesting people... 3-dimensional and dynamic. Without getting into spoilers, it was obvious to me what Alaska's "secret" was, although knowing that didn't lead me to any answers any better than the Colonel or Pudge. I really liked this story... the characters, the plot, the writing. The teens were realistic--being away from home in a boarding school they behaved more like freshmen at college--complete with all the risky behaviors that teens away from home for the first time get involved in. Nothing was gratuitous... it all made sense for the plot and for the characters.

It's definitely a high school book, not a middle school book, but should appeal to boys as much as girls.

Reading: Gifts--Ursula K. Le Guin
On My Nightstand: baby poop books, as usual.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy--Douglas Adams

That's right. I read a book. A wicked long book that had nothing to do with baby poop. Actually it was more than one book... the Ultimate Hitchhiker has all of the individual Hitchhiker books in it. I read it so I can see the movie, although in retrospect I won't be able to see the movie until it comes out on DVD. Oh well.

The first few stories were great--I would have been irritated had I read them separately though and had to wait for the sequels--as it was I started reading one as soon as I finished the last one and that worked out well. Most people know the story-- Earth is demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass and the only survivor is Arthur Dent, an everyman type wearing his bathrobe. He survives by hitching a ride with his friend Ford Prefect, a newly outed alien, on the ship responsible for demolishing the earth. Hilarity ensues.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first 3 or 4 stories (I can't even remember how many). The last one "Mostly Harmless" didn't seem as strong. It completely dropped two characters. It just didn't feel right.... but I'm glad that I finally read HHGTTG and I can't wait to see the movie.

Reading: Looking for Alaska -- John Greene
On My Nightstand: Gifts--Ursula K. LeGuin; various baby poop books

Friday, May 06, 2005

Airborn--Kenneth Oppel

Crikey, I'm a loser.

I finished Airborn months ago. I liked it, liked the story--adventure, fantasy, little romance. Had some wicked errors--unnecessary words and at one point a character was referred to by a different name--but I still liked it. I think a movie is in the works.

I don't have the energy for a proper review.

I haven't been reading much. Too hard. Brain hurts. But I have lots on my nightstand waiting to be read. Soon as the boy can feed himself...

Reading: As if
On My Nightstand: the Complete Hitchhikers's Guide to the Galaxy--Douglas Adams; a couple of YA books that looked good; Ultimate Breastfeeding Guide; American Academy of Pediatrics Guide to Nutrition and Caring for your Baby up to age 5, can't remember the exact titles.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Godless--Pete Hautman

I actually started and finished a whole book--and it had nothing to do with babies. Woo-hoo!!

Jason Bock is the product of a hypochondriac mother and religious father. Most of the time things are okay. When Henry Stagg, physically smaller but intimidating, clocks Jason one day, he looks up from the ground and sees a water tower in the distance. That moment changes everything.

Jason decides to create a religion based on the water tower. The water tower is God. Jason is the Kahuna, the founder, and whatever else he wants to be. All he needs is a couple of disciples and he's good to go. He finds them in his best friend Shin, his ordinary friend Dan, a local girl, and the unlikely Henry Stagg. What starts as a summer joke turns into something much more serious. Shin immerses himself in the new religion, claiming that the Ten-Legged One (the water tower) speaks to him and through him. Henry still views it as a joke, but twists it into his own demented version. In the end Jason is left alone.

This is less a book about "religion" than it is about teenagers and cults and society and how easily things get out of control. Some might not like it--crying heresy and other nonsense--but it has very little to do with Catholicism. Jason could have been a dissatisfied Buddhist or Jewish and it would have been the same story. Godless captures that time of teenage confusion when teens question everything and try to make their own answers.

I highly recommend it!

Reading: Airborn--Kenneth Oppel
On My Nightstand: Baby Sign Language

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

I do read, really, I do

Well, maternity leave is over. :-(

What I've read lately:
Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg and the new one The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. I highly recommend both. It's mostly common sense but when you're a new mom sometimes you need things spelled out to you! The baby whisperer's plan is similar to BabyWise, but not as strict. She doesn't believe in crying it out. I'd recommend it to all new moms!

I read a few teen books during my leave, but not many. None I can remember.

I'm currently reading Godless by Pete Hautman and loving it. Soon as I finish it, I'll get a real review up.

Reading: Godless by Pete Hautman
On My Nightstand: Airborn--Kenneth Oppel

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