Sunday, June 29, 2008
This is a prequel of sorts to the Repairman Jack series. A prequel that is in the form of a YA novel. I haven't read any of the adult series, although I have heard good things about them, which is what led me to pick up the book.
The story centers around Jack, a loner of sorts who is very perceptive and has a knack for "fixing" situations. Weezy (aka Louise) who is a conspiracy nut and who is also the champion of the secret history of the world theory. Finally, there is Eddie, Weezy's brother who mainly shows up to annoy us by saying stupid things like "stupidacious" or "awesomacious." It takes place in the early eighties and the novel is peppered with references to video games, television shows, etc. Some of the references were cute, like when Jack's dad is explaining his new computer and how he opted to only buy 48K of ram because he couldn't imagine ever needing 64Ks. Others are more intrusive like when they need to find out something and they wish there was an interactive television that could search all the libraries at once...you know...because its the eighties...and there isn't any internet...bleh.
Its a good mystery, I read it pretty much all in one day. The pace is fast, i liked the secret history, and there were some neat supernatural elements that presumably will be expanded upon in the sequels. Occasionally I felt like the author dumbed down his writing too much. It reads really young like an upper elementary lower middle school book, but the ritualistic killing is bizarrely mature (I'm not even going to go there, it was disturbing).
I wonder how I would have felt if I had read any of the adult books before reading this. I would think it would be fun to see how a beloved character got his start in the "fixing" business. I can't help but wonder which characters are in the adult novels. Weezy must be. His brother (nemesis?) Tom probably would be. I'm definitely intrigued. I'll probably pick one up. There's a whole bunch of them!
Other Reviews: Reading Rants
Saturday, June 28, 2008
She discovers that although she's been raised in isolation, she actually has family living nearby. Her aunt, a pastor in a holy roller type church, as well as her two cousins. Aslaug is unfamiliar with social complexities, having never really spoken to anyone other than her mother (and Aslaug was spoken to more than she spoke). So she's unprepared for social games and is rather exploitable.
Meldrum has combined herbology, religion, and social mores into a really original story. It alternates between Aslaug's retelling of her story and the court trial where she is being tried for murder. Throughout, you're not sure who is telling the truth, who is sane, and who has lost touch with reality. Was her childhood as she says? Was her mother her savior or her jailer? Has she been part of a religious miracle, completely delusional, or taken advantage by the unscrupulous? You might think you have it figured out, but information is doled out very carefully and I think you'll find you have to keep reevaluating your position. Truthfully, I'm still sorting through my feelings on this one. The writing is very good, the setting is dark and you have a sense of doom almost from the first page, the characters are twisted and weak and often become more loathsome the more you learn of them. There are theories and motives and definitely madness. I felt compelled to keep reading. I literally couldn't stop.
I was fascinated with the plants and herbs that Aslaug and her mother gather to survive. One that figures highly in the story is Jimsonweed, or as some call it Madapple. So I had to look up to see if it really existed. It does. The author is either a botanist or did a heck of a lot of research for this book.
The book struck me as one of those YA books that might be enjoyed equally, if not more, by adults. I was reading through her Amazon blog and it turns out she thinks its for older teens and adults. Interesting.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Joanna was spot on when she said that this book is a manifesto on feminism and activism. Frankie is known to her family as Bunny (short for Bunny Rabbit) because she’s sweet and innocent and in need of protection. Or so they think. Frankie is tired of being underestimated, tired of being swept aside, tired of being inconsequential. And she’s far too smart not to get her own way.
This book was so well written – it almost reads like a book someone researched on a historical figure, more humorous of course, but it presents Frankie as a person of consequence whose history has been recorded for posterity. That alone just tickled me.
From the inside flap:
“Frankie Landau-Banks:That about sums it up. What got to me too was that in many ways Frankie is also just an ordinary teenage girl. She pines after the good-looking older boy, snags him, and then tries to fit his idea of what he’d like his girlfriend to be. But where Frankie differs is that this fuels her anger and she acts out in unexpected ways. There is, of course, another boy of interest, but the book doesn’t play on any of the usual clichés. Well done, E. Lockhart, well done.
No longer the kind of girl to take “no” for an
Especially when “no” means she’s excluded from her boyfriend’s all
male secret society.
Not when her ex-boyfriend shows up in the strangest of
Not when she knows she’s smarter than any of them.
When she knows
Mathew is lying to her.
And when there are so many, many pranks to be done.”
One more thing – I just have to say how furious Mathew and his group made me. They were so charming in some respects and such total turds in others. I wanted to smack them repeatedly. It was great!
Other Reviews: Bookshelves of Doom, Little Willow, 3 Evil Cousins, and about a million more. Everyone seems to have loved this book.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
What really struck me was that even though Johnny hasn't had the easiest life, he's sweet to the point of naivety. He is obsessed with Blondie's Debbie Harry. Obsessed to the point where he's not sure if he's in love with her or if he wants to be her. I think its Johnny's innocence that makes this work. He's open to being gay, even if he doesn't really think he is, but he's not sure what it means if he wants to dress up as Debbie Harry and enter a drag contest. He hashes it out internally and with his girlfriend, his guidance counselor, even his uncle. And it still manages to come off as refreshingly un-melodramatic.
I really enjoyed the music references too. I loved that Johnny, besides having a Blondie fixation, also ventured out into the punk community. And unlike other teen novels that focus on the punk scene, this one actually rang true. He goes to the local club on ladies night - a night when all female tribute bands play (The Ramonas do The Ramones, Janie Jones does The Clash). How cute is that? Not to mention being a really neat touch and one that ties into the central theme of figuring out his sexuality. I won't mention what Johnny discovers about his father, but needless to say, it was the icing on the cake. The only thing that could have made it even better is if he had found a New York Dolls record.
Other Reviews: Worth the Trip, Hypothetically Speaking
Saturday, June 21, 2008
“See, I loved being a waitress more than anything, but apparently, it’s ok to work as a waitress but not to be a waitress. To most people, saying you want to be a waitress is like saying your dream is to be a Walgreens clerk.”
Indigo is a character that is uber aware of class divisions, how money separates people not only because of having more or less things, but also because of the way it makes people act – towards each other and towards their possessions. She's also got a clear sense of self and what is important in life. So when she receives a 2.5 million dollar gift from a man she waits on, you think she’ll handle it well and make level headed decisions. Right? Well, not so exactly, which is actually a good thing, because if she had we’d have no story. Or at least not a terribly interesting one.
The story is told in retrospect, which definitely has its advantages. Indigo is able to slip in thoughtful commentary since she has the advantages of knowing how the story ends and can reflect more truthfully on how she handled, or mishandled certain situations. It’s interesting to see how all the characters react to the windfall, how relationships stretch, break, and are reformed.
My only complaint is that it felt like they squished as much text on a page as possible. It was sort of like someone set a page cap on the book and to fit in everything they mussed around with the margins and line spacing. And because the book is so descriptive, the book just felt incredibly dense. I would have preferred more white space and a book with a few more pages myself.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
The story is told from the two main protagonists’ perspectives. Caleb comes off as a bit unremorseful making him rather unlikable. Maggie is drowning in a sea of self-pity. Caleb tries to go back to life as it was before, while Maggie is ultra-aware that things will never be as they once were.
There are lots of positive things that this book has going for it, strong inter-generational relationships, great themes of healing, forgiveness, and redemption, an ending that isn’t too pat even if it is a bit quick, and a plot twist that many readers will predict incorrectly (or at least I thought it was implicating someone and of course I totally had the person wrong). But the dialogue is a bit clunky, perhaps a bit forced at times. There are some inconsistencies where Caleb will complain no one wants to talk about his time in jail, but then he’ll shut down anyone who tries to bring it up. Or where Maggie will say how self-absorbed Caleb was before he went to jail and then later reminisce about the times he took care of her in various circumstances. Characters are one dimensional with Caleb’s pill-popping image obsessed mother being one of the most flimsy. And a strange subplot where Caleb isn’t allowed to have contact with his victim yet is somehow allowed to attend the same high-school.
However, it is seriously melodramatic and has an interesting premise so I think the teen appeal is pretty high.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
You guessed it, another expose about the library is here.
I especially like how they interviewed a child psychiatrist that said, "The library isn't setting limits." Because everyone knows it is the library's job to raise the youth of today...oh wait...gosh...nope...that's actually the parents' job. Boy, that's gotta be a shocker. It seems like most people think the whole parenting thing is over once they push the little sucker out.
Article can be found here.
I found this cryptic note beside one of our teen computers. I don't know about you, but my favorite part is that the enterprising young person spelled "happened" semi-phonetically. Oh, and I am also sort of tickled that they didn't know how to spell the F word.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Rosemary's life is filled with women - the only male character in the book is her love interest. Her family consists of her mom, aunt and grandmother. Despite this weird coincidence that seems a little too scripted, the characters in this book are humorously realistic, and I thought this was a great book on self-image and battling weight loss, especially for young adults. I also thought it was so spot-on in its depiction of American southerners- it reminded me so much of my extended family. I especially love the friendship between Rosie and Kay-Kay, one of the most beautiful girls at school.
This book was released today on Amazon!
Twelve-year-old Henry's parents have been kidnapped in South America, and he has come to live with his aunt, uncle, and 3 cousins in Henry, Kansas. Their ramshackle house holds lots of secrets-secrets that slowly begin to reveal themselves to Henry and his cousin Henrietta. First, there are the two strange compass dials that break their way out of Henry's attic bedroom wall. Then, there are the cupboards-99 of them that Henry discovers behind the plaster on the same wall, one of which seems to lead to a post office and another where trees and rain came be seen. Not to mention, the strange small man who seems to be living in their dead grandfather's room, which no one has been able to open in the past two years. Will Henry and Henrietta uncover these mysteries before something horrible comes out of the cupboards?
I really enjoyed this book! At first, it was just a bit spooky, but later it reminded me of some of the classic fantasy series, like Narnia or Dark is Rising, where a seemingly normal child finds a strange new world. Apparently, it is the first in a new series; I am looking forward to the next one. Sadly, it was published in December, or I would suggest it for our Mock Newbery--it is that good!
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
“Before then I’d never thought what it was actually like to be an old person. I’d just weave in and out of them on the pavement, and smirk with my friends at their funny hair and high-waisted trousers and the way they make paying for something at the checkout last for ages just to have someone to talk to. One minute the thought never crossed my mind, the next I was really and truly concerned about what it was like to be old and stuck in London, where everyone moved faster than you and even the simplest thing could end up taking all day. It was her. I know it was. It was my old lady, the dead one in the urn.”
So yah, Violet is dead. Lucas finds her in the minicab office and conspires with his grandmother to get her off the shelf so he can take her home. Clearly Lucas is not your ordinary teenage boy.
This book was absolutely hilarious and the writing was superb. The way that Lucas describes people, it is nothing short of wonderful. The book is a bit of a mystery, with Lucas slowly discovering what his dad was really like – there are clues littered throughout from belongings, to clues hidden in his grandfather’s Alzheimer stricken memory, but also is very much a coming of age story. The plot is actually quite intricate with interesting coincidences bringing increasing amounts of information to light.
And the ending…oh the ending. It was so fulfilling.
Run out and read this book!
Sunday, June 8, 2008
12-year-old Addie is waiting. Waiting for normal. But everything about her life at the corner of Freeman’s
With a contact she met on the Internet, Mommers starts a “new business,” and office supplies show up at the defunct little trailer by the box load. Mommers is optimistic about the future; Addie is cautiously counting the days until her flute solo in the upcoming school concert. But Mommers’ enthusiasm for her new business (and boss) keeps her away from home night after night. Halloween is a turning point for the worst:
“So this is the smell of Halloween this year, I told myself. No sweets. No trick-or-treating. No candy bars to sort and trade. No fun. No Dwight, no Brynna, no Katie. I looked at the dark trailer. No Mommers.”
Despite her mother's prolonged absences, Addie is able to find sparks of joy in the dark
Still, it is with her sisters and step-father where she longs to be. But Addie knows the state believes children belong with blood relatives. And besides, who would look after Mommers?
Leslie Connor (author of Dead on Town Line) has written a remarkable book about the twists and turns of life and the heroes you meet on the way. With well-drawn characters and intensely packed dialogue that allows readers to see the ripples of emotion in our otherwise composed narrator, the novel packs a powerful emotional punch.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
My only issue with this GN is that it might come back to bite the librarian. Unlike Carey's Minx offerings, Frankie contains more language, nudity, and adult situations. Most older teens, and some younger ones, will be fine with it, but their parents might not.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Monday, June 2, 2008
More later.... Have to go to work!