Sunday, July 25, 2004

I haven’t read any Gary Paulsen books… inspired by Allison I decided to give him a try. Not feeling in the mood for a wilderness survival plot I searched around for something a little different. And after reading the title and description for The Glass Café Or, the stripper and the state: How my mother started a war with the system that made us kind of rich and a little bit famous … I was hooked! The book is pretty tiny…99 pages, normal font with greater than normal line spacing on narrow pages… I seriously think reformatted it could be about 50 pages. And this suited me just fine…1) because I was able to read the whole thing in bed this morning (I love doing that!) and I still had time to do other sundry things with my day and 2) I really wanted to read the whole thing thru. It’s a very riveting story and fun to read… definitely the mark of a great writer when they can get their point across beautifully without wasting words. You get clear pictures of the characters and the story stays with you even though you’re done with the book in a flash. The style of writing is like free association, you really feel like you are reading the words of a 12 or 13 year old kid who is easily distracted and likes to talk. The story line is unique and fantastic…. Bringing up topics like strippers as mothers, art vs. pornography, and of course…they System and how sometimes it can fail.  I am so glad I started with this book, I could well be on my way to becoming a Paulsen fan!

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

I am a big supporter of GLBT's and the issues important to them, but I never really knew much about transgenders. After reading the book Luna by Julie Anne Peters, I can say that I have a much better understanding, and an enormous amount of sympathy for people who's physical and mental sexes do not match. Luna is about a high school senior named Liam who feels he is a girl born in a boy's body. His girl manifestation is Luna, someone that only his younger sister, Regan, has met. Regan has known the truth about Luna/Liam for a long time, and accepts and loves him/her for the person indside, who happens to be brilliant and beautiful. Regan has spent her whole life protecting and worrying about Luna/Liam, and gets freaked when Luna decides to start going public with the truth. It is a wrenching read; the anguish Liam feels over being in the wrong body is palpable. But it was really well done, and a very important and groundbreaking book. Highly reccommended from this end.

Monday, July 19, 2004

I've read A Wrinkle in Time about a million times but for some reason never got around to reading Madeline L'Engle's other books.  Until now.  I just read A Ring of Endless Light.  Now I am going to read every single book by her. 
A Ring of Endless Light is the third book in series about the Austin family.  Vicky Austin and her family are staying with her grandfather for summer.  He is very ill and they want to be with him as much as they can for his last summer.  Vicky is friends with Leo, an honest guy who has just lost his father and leans on her for comfort.  She's also friends with Zachary, a rich kid whose attempt at suicide is connected with the death of Leo's father.  Vicky has a third friend, Adam.  He is spending the summer working at a marine biology station.  Adam invites Vicki to help out with his dolphin study.  They discover that she has a real connection with the dolphins and can communicate with them.  We follow the Austin's summer and Vicky's relationships with each of the boys while exploring all kinds of philosphical, ethical and moral issues.  The book is smart and the reading is interesting and fun. 
Now I am starting the first book in this series, Meet the Austins.

Friday, July 16, 2004

I have never read any of the Baseball Card Adventures by Dan Gutman...I always thought I should but I am not really into sports....So I knew I would have to motivate myself to try something new.  The thing is, I have no trouble selling those books.  Kids come in asking for them and they are hardly ever on the shelves.  Well, across the circ desk came the audio version of Shoeless Joe and Me and it was just 2 tapes so I thought "Why the hell not?!"  (I can think stuff like that at work, just as long as I don't confuse myself and say what I feel out loud)
It only took me a couple of days commuting to and fro work to finish the book which is always a plus because I like to finish between Monday and Friday...just don't do as much driving on weekends.  Anyway...enough about me!  I really loved this book...much more than I thought I would which is always cool.  First off the narrator, Johnny Heller, is brilliant and I am not the only one to think so.  He's a comedian and he's done a lot of narration work and he's won some awards too I think.  He sounds just like a kid when he's supposed to be a kid and an adult when he is supposed to be an adult.  What I didn't know about these books is that they involve time travel but I wouldn't call them "fantasy" or even sci fi ... that element is really secondary to the sports and historical themes.  I loved the way Gutman gives the reader historical information without it seeming educational in that icky kind of's fascinating and inspiring.... I had some vague idea of who Shoeless Joe Jackson was but I didn't know anything about the Black Sox scandal and his involvement ... or according to the book, lack of involvement.  It really got me interested in the scandal so I went online of course and now have the movie Eight Men Out on my holds list!

Monday, July 12, 2004

Martha Brooks is still one of my favorite YA authors. Being with Henry is the story of a teenage boy, Laker, who doesn't know his real Dad. His mom kicks him out of the house when he gets in a fight with his new stepdad. Laker lives on a the streets for awhile until he is taken in by an elderly man, Henry. The two form an unusual friendship, helping each other with all kinds of things. Laker struggles to fit in with the rest of Henry's family: his middle-aged daughter, Vera, and her daughter, Charlene. Henry, Vera, and Charlene are grieving the loss of Henry's wife. Laker is grieving the rejection of his Mother and the loss of the father he never knew. Even with the resentments and sadness they are all feeling, they manage to help one another through these hard times.

If you read only one Martha Brooks novel in your entire life, it should be True Confessions of a Heartless Girl. That's her best one ever!

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Just got back from ALA and I am giddy with meeting authors! I met Tamora Pierce (and am currently reading Trickster's Queen to review for SLJ), Jane Yolen, Janet Tashjihan, and Kate DiCamillo. I also saw Angela Johnston, Jennifer Donnelly, Carolyn Mackler, Helen Frost, K.L. Going, and Andrew Clements. I am starstruck.

I also got a galley of the new Meg Cabot novel called Teen Idol. It was cute, but maybe not quite up to the quality of All American Girl, or the Princess Diaries books.

It is about Jen Greenley, who on top of being the mystery advice columnist for her school paper is asked by the administration to be a part of another secret: famous movie star Luke Striker is coming to her high school as an undercover student to research a role. Jen has been asked to show him around, and as per usual with Meg Cabot, chaos and hilarity ensues. It will be big, yes, and it was cute, yes, but perhaps not her best. Look out for it!

Monday, July 05, 2004

Do you like time travel?
Do you like historical fiction?
Do you like little old ladies?
Do you like France?
Do you like lemon filled doughnuts?

If you can answer yes to any or all of these questions, go and read The Golden Hour by Maiya Williams. Join Rowan and Nina on a quest to reconnect with each other and share their grief after losing their mother in a tragic accident.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

I just read Tim O'Brien's Vietnam memoir called If I Die in a Combat Zone Box Me Up and Ship Me Home. This book starts with O'Brien's enlistment into the Army after seriously considering escaping to Canada during the draft. He then chronicles his experiences in bootcamp and the basic training he received in Vietnam before heading out to the jungle. Then, it's all war. I can't really describe this book. It's horrifying and terrifying and gut wrenching. Again, I can see clearly why Vietnam Veterans are so reluctant to talk about their war experiences. It's not real life or anything you can explain to someone who hasn't been through it. I'm so glad that there are people like Tim O'Brien who can speak the unspeakable so those of us that weren't there can better understand the Vietnam/American war experience.

I just finished reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. Reading this book was quite an experience. Christopher, an autistic teen, discovers his neighbor's dog dead when he is out for a night-time walk. But the dog is not just dead, it's been killed with a garden fork. Christopher decides he will find the murderer. We start detecting with Christopher and all his quirks and brains and difficulties in relating to others. Although I really liked this book because it was so unusual and had a great narrator, I was disappointed with the other characters. I thought there could have been a lot more character development. Maybe this is deliberate though, since the narrator has such difficulty relating to others... I don't know...I wanted more from the co-stars of the story.