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

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