Saturday, June 23, 2007

Dark Hours - Gudrun Pausewang

A WWII story told from a young German girl's perspective. She lives in a town that is on the Russian front and she along with her family pack some essentials and flee to another city. En route they are bombed by the allies and must wait it out in an bomb shelter. Unfortunately the bomb shelter isn't all that great and it collapses, leaving Giselle and her 3 younger siblings trapped in a bathroom. Most of the story takes place during this time as they hang out in the dark, rationing their food, and attempting to get someone's attention so they can be rescued. They're only down there for a day or two, but it will seem like SOOO much longer when you read the book.

This book lacked the emotional punch one expects from WWII books.
And except for a brief mention in the introduction, there is no mention whatsoever of the holocaust, genocide, or uncountable crimes against humanity that were committed during this war. The whole thing just left me cold.

Save your time and just re-read The Book Thief.

Friday, June 22, 2007

What I've been reading lately

The Song of the Sparrow -
Lisa Ann Sandell
Another novel in verse, this one told from the perspective of Elaine aka the Lady of Shalott. After Elaine's mother dies, she is brought to live with her father and brother in the war camp. There she runs wild, learns healing arts from Arthur's sister Morgan, and longs for other girls to befriend. So when one finally does, Gwynivere, she is unprepared for the coldness with which she is treated. I'll admit, I'm a sucker for new versions of Arthurian legend, especially ones where Gwynivere is portrayed as a bitch. I never did like her all that much. This wasn't the best one I've read, but it is plenty good and will appeal to both the romantics and the King Arthur buffs.

The Noah Confessions - Barbara Hall
Deep, dark family history. That is the gift that Lynnie's father gives to her on her 16th birthday. She was hoping for a car, instead she gets a spangly bird bracelet and a letter from her dead mother. And I'll tell you, once the letter begins you are spellbound, you are desperate to know what is going to happen next. The ending is a bit anti-climatic, I wish there had been more drama and perhaps some bloodshed, but I guess I can be satisfied with a life-altering experience.

The Road - Cormac McCarthy
A dystopian future where nothing grows, the earth is covered in ash, people have for the most part died out, and you can't trust anyone you do happen to meet. They're more likely to kill and eat you then they are to extend any sort of aid. It is in this world that a father and a son walk south on an old buckled highway to escape the oncoming winter that will surely kill them - unless something else does first. This is a bleak book. There is nothing fun about it. It was so dark it was almost unbearable, but it was so well written I couldn't put it down. It was grisly, there is a whole bunch of baby eatin' going on. And so of course I couldn't get this stupid Meteors song out of my head. Eat the Baby (eat the baby, eat eat eat the baby, eat the baby, eat eat eat the baby...why not they taste nice, etc.) It was totally inappropriate and I told my brain to stop, but it wouldn't. What I did find interesting is that we never find out what happened to the world. There are some flashbacks, but nothing concrete, nothing says "this is what happened..." We just have to wonder about it. It made it all kinds of scary.

And now I'll go back to simply being jealous of all my colleagues who got to go to ALA while I had to stay home. I'm hoping for presents!!! Good readable presents!!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A miracle!?!

Good gracious, its an acorn squash! Grown right in our garden!

just wanted to share.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Team Awesome Masters the Danskin Triathalon

We don't just read books people! We woke up early Sunday morning and participated in the Danskin Triathalon and did, as expected, quite awesome! We did the relay and finished in 2:01.

A very respectable showing! Next year, we'll do the whole thing. Go Team Awesome, go!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Evil Genius - Catherine Jinks

Cadel isn't like other kids. For one thing, he's got a genius IQ. For another he's already in serious trouble with the law. And not just for breaking windows, stealing bikes, or other normal delinquent acts. Nope, not Cadel. He's in trouble because he likes to spend his spare time hacking into high-security computer networks like bill-paying services and power grids. He's good, but not so good he doesn't get caught. Of course, he is only seven years old.

So he's a genius, sort of withdrawn and strange and frankly his adoptive parents don't quite know how to deal with him. They're more than happy to pawn him off on his therapist and let them hash it out in their sessions. Little do they know that his therapist is in constant contact with Cadel's biological father, Dr. Darkkon, an imprisoned evil genius. And little do they know that during Cadel's "therapy" sessions, all three are hashing out a plan to use Cadel's enormous IQ for evil [insert evil laugh].

Fast forward to when Cadel is 14. He's just graduated from high school, he's enrolled in the Axis Institute (actual name - Axis Institute for World Domination) and he is taking a full course load: computer science (infiltration), psychology (manipulation), media studies (misinformation), accounting (embezzlement), and my personal favorite pragmatic philosophy (pure evil). To tell you the truth, it is going great! Cadel is at the top of his class, he's passing with flying colors, and he's well on his way to learning how to live and love an evil lifestyle. Nevertheless, the good times are about to end. After Cadel creates his human pattern recognition software he begins to notice that things are really not what they seem. Alliances shift, stretch, and break altogether, people turn on each other, a normal thing given they're all evil, but alarming all the same! However, most disturbing to Cadel is that he's begun to notice that much of this attention is being turned toward him.

This book isn't quite what I thought it would be. For one thing I was expecting something that would appeal to reluctant readers. Instead I found that it was a densely written 486 page book. I also had it in my head that it would be more superheroish and it really wasn't in the least related to superheros (except I guess Dr. Darkkon's attempts to develop genetic mutants). Don't get me wrong, I loved it. Even though I had misconceptions of the story, it still rocked.. I could have kept reading Cadel's story until he reached adulthood and so I was pleasantly surprised when I reached the end and found the announcement that there is a sequel planned.

Cadel's character development was truly an excellent thing. I loved how even though he was a genius, he still was completely out of his element in most areas of his life. I loved the courses he took, the double crossing, his computer pen-pal, his slow realization that when his therapist told him early on that he shouldn't trust anyone it was true. He really shouldn't trust *anyone*. A point that Cadel neglects to fully grasp until it is almost too late.

THE PLAIN JANES by Cecil Castellucci & Jim Rugg

When Jane Beckles' life is threatened by tragedy, her parents feel it is best to move the family from the uncertainty of the bustling Metro City to safe & sound Suburbia a.k.a. Hell...

"I'm lonely for friends", Jane thinks to herself...Until this MainJane meets a true tribe of real-life, kindred-spirited Janes... BrainJayne, TheatreJane, & SportySpice...uh, I mean SportyJane.

MainJane wants to find a way to make things beautiful. With the help of the other Janes, she forms a rouge art gang called P.L.A.I.N. - People Loving Art In Neighborhoods. P.L.A.I.N. executes purposeful acts of beauty around Surburbia...causing citizens to take notice and Main Jane to find healing through the mantra "Art Saves".

This book is rockin'! It's a quick read with a memorable story.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Life as it Comes - Anne-Laure Bondoux

Life as it Comes is about two sisters living in Paris. The eldest, Patty, an irresponsible free spirit, the younger, Mado, a brainy capable girl who is forced into the role of caretaker. Their parents died in an accident less than a year ago and the two girls are barely holding it together - and when Patty reveals that she is several months pregnant things begin to get even more undependable.

Even though Patty is two months from her due date the girls go on vacation to their cabin in the French countryside. At first their holiday is idyllic, they are relaxed, they meet the hot Dutch brothers staying in the next cabin over, they dance, they swim. But it soon comes to an end. The girls don't have a cell phone nor is the cabin equipped with a house phone. So when Patty goes into labor early, it is a very scary situation that the girls are forced to deal with on their own.

This book is about dealing with grief, family bonds, responsibility, betrayal, and redemption. It is translated from French and at first I had a bit of a hard time with the narrative because it sounded a bit off to me. (I read The Killer's Tears another of Bondoux's books and thought it was beautifully written - so I was surprised at first that the books had the same translator.) Regardless, the girls sounded French in the way they talked, so I think it worked for the book. Even though it appeared to me at first that it was a poor translation, in the end I decided the flow of the words were just supposed to sound French. Does that make any sense at all? My coffee maker is evil and didn't brew my coffee right. This is an ongoing problem and I'm fairly sick of it. I am getting rid of it this weekend once and for all. After which, of course, I'll be completely clear and concise in all my reviews :)

I liked the book, it was a fast read. There were several unbelievable plot points ***spoilers*** such as their ability to keep the summer home and apartment after their parents die (although this might just be my not understanding how things work in France), Mado delivering her sister's baby with little difficulty, Patty's turn-around in the end of the book where she becomes completely responsible. However, I did enjoy it and I think it would appeal to a wide audience.