Sunday, June 29, 2008

Jack: Secret Histories by F. Paul Wilson

Jack is 14 the summer he and his friends find the body in the woods. A body that has been there for two years and was ritualistically murdered. The more Jack and his friends look into things, the weirder they get. Not only does it seem to involve a mysterious society that has their Lodge in town, but there also seems to be unexplained incidents that lead back to a secret history that people are attempting to cover up at all costs.

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 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

Madapple by Christina Meldrum

Aslaug has been raised by her mother in a house where there is no electricity, no running water, and the drapery has been nailed down to keep the windows continually closed. On the day her mother dies she rips down the drapes letting light into the house for the first time. It seemed to me this was a bit of a metaphor for Aslaug's life - her world opening and new beginnings shining in. Of course, if only it was that easy. It never is.

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

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (Part 2)

Part 1 can be found here – reviewed by Joanna (read this first).

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:
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.”
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 clich├ęs. Well done, E. Lockhart, well 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.

Things You Find at the Library, Part 2...

I was inspired by Patti's note found by the computer and thought I'd post a couple of my good found items, too. I have these teen picks cards next to a box in the teen area so people can write short reviews of things they've read and I'll display the review next to the book on the shelf. It has turned out to collect nearly as many confessions and random statements as actual reviews.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Debbie Harry Sings in French by Meagan Brothers

After Johnny's dad dies his mom crumbles and he's left - at 12 years old - to pick up the pieces. He makes sure the bills get paid on time, he makes sure there's food in the fridge, and he makes sure the house is kept in livable conditions. Its all a bit much and he starts drinking to take the edge off. Before you know it, he's got a serious drinking problem and has been abandoned at the emergency room by his "friends" after he ODs. His mother, who doesn't understand him anyway because of the eyeliner, the black clothes, and the general gothiness of him and his friends takes the opportunity to ship him off to live with his Uncle.

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

Delicious Seasons by Rainbow Buddy

I read this short GN a week or two back, but I just kept forgetting to review it. Picked it up because of the nice cover and the interesting name of the author/mangaka.

Xiao Qiu is a young college student who loves to cook and decides to take a well-paying job as personal chef for a guy with some serious stomach issues. Unfortunately, he happens to be one of her more obnoxious classmates; it doesn't help that he is very picky and often forgets to eat. Things get even more complicated when her best friend asks her to help make a fabulous birthday dinner for her new boyfriend.

The storyline catches the interest and could probably keep a few readers involved; there are even short recipes for Chinese dishes spread throughout the book. Sadly, the editing is awful. At places you can't even figure out what the text is supposed to be saying. It appears to have been translated by a non-native English speaker and, while on those merits it is quite well done, for anyone who is a native speaker, this book falls flat and constantly trips one up. I was really disappointed, since I genuinely liked the premise and the art style. However, I just won't be able to recommend this graphic novel for purchase or check out.

That being said, definitely pick it up just to flip to the short story in the back.....who exactly is male and who is female here? I am usually pretty good at this game, but I still don't have a clue!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Fortunes of Indigo Skye by Deb Caletti

Indigo pretty much has it all, a loving family and a great boyfriend. There isn’t a lot of money, but there is warmth, devotion, humor, and good times. She’s even got a job she loves.

“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.”

And that is part of why the book is so good. Indigo is an insightful character. She’s descriptive, she’s got a clear point of view, and she’s different than your average protagonist. I related to her right off the bat, maybe more than most because of my years spent waitressing. She got it so right – you can tell a lot about people from what they order and how they order it. You do develop relationships with regulars and it can keep you (ok me) in a job for way too long just because you enjoy the people you work with and it feels cozy.

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.

Other reviews: YA Book Central, Read, Read, Read

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles

One night. One big mistake. No one is the same again. Especially not Caleb and Maggie. He spent the last year in juvie for a drunken hit and run, while Maggie, the girl he ran over, was in rehab trying to regain strength in her shattered leg. Complicating matters is that they not only go to the same high school, but are neighbors as well. It has been more than difficult for Maggie living next door to Caleb’s family, but when he’s released early from jail she’s thrown into emotional overload.

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

Oh no they didn't!

Those darn libraries are just smut factories! They let teens, yes teens, our sweet innocent young lambs check out R rated movies. Movies like (gasp) 300 and (choke) From Dusk Till Dawn. That one has vampires in it!!! For shame for shame!!!

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.


Things You Find at the Library...

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

Artichoke's Heart by Suzanne Supplee

Rosemary is sweet, funny, and is always helping out at her mom's beauty salon in her small town of Spring Hill, Tennessee. She isn't happy with herself, though- she wants to drop some of her 190 pounds. When a regular customer and friend has a heart attack related to obesity, Rosemary starts getting drastic in her efforts. Throughout the book, she attempts to lose weight in both unhealthy and healthy ways, which was realistic. She also helps other people deal with other addictive behavior, ranging from alcohol to perfectionism.
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!

100 Cupboards by N. D. Wilson

Doesn't this cover just scream, "Pick me up!"?

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

Me, the Missing, and the Dead by Jenny Valentine

Lucas is fifteen yeas old. His dad has been missing since he was ten. No one actually knows what happened to him. They found his abandoned car, but no dad. No one seems to care all that much anymore except for Lucas. He really wants to figure it out. Did his dad die? Or is he a cold-hearted jerk who abandoned his family? He doesn’t have much to go on until the fateful day he steps into the minicab office and spots Violet. After he meets her, everything starts to come into focus.

“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

Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor

12-year-old Addie is waiting. Waiting for normal. But everything about her life at the corner of Freeman’s Bridge Road and Nott Street in the city of Schenectady is more like “abnormal.” She shares a small and dingy yellow trailer with Mommers, her biological mother. Mommers is an “all or nothing” person. Manic or depressed, up all night online or sleeping all day, there or, more and more, not there. Addie’s step-father Dwight is living upstate with "the littles," Addie’s two younger half sisters, and his new girlfriend, Hannah. Mommers and Dwight may be divorced, but “there’ll be no ‘ex’ between me and you, Addie, girl,” Dwight tells Addie. Despite his phone calls and visits to check on her, Addie wonders if she’ll ever feel like part of Dwight’s new family. Ever feel normal.

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 New York winter - in the vocabulary notebook she keeps handy for when she learns new words, with her pet hamster, Piccolo, and with Soula and Elliot - her friends at the gas station across the street. Laughter, music, and friendship make a community of the mini-mart for Addie.

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

Jenn H.'s Vacation Reads: Part Three

Okay, this is the end of my vacation reads. Just a few GNs left....

First, Beauty Pop by Kioko Arai tells the story of a girl, Kiri, who is truly a fabulous hair stylist, yet uses her powers to secretly makeover desperate girls. In complete opposition, the Scissors Project consists of three boys who publicly makeover a chosen girl on a regular basis. Their hairstylist, Narumi, plans to be the greatest beautician in all Japan; in fact, he has only once been defeated in a competition, by a mysterious girl when he was in the fourth grade. Hmmm, who might that be? I didn't think I would like this one very much, but the characters kind of won me over. I really like Kiri and her friend Kanako and the SP group is fairly intriguing. Plus, there is no way a group could exist in the US like this and not only not be presumed gay, but also have a swooning following of girls. I have to warn you that vol. 1 ends in a cliffhanger, so if you plan to read it, you might want to pick up more than one.

Next, I finished the last 3 volumes of Crescent Moon by Haruko Iida. Mahiru is a normal high school girl who happens to give other people good luck if they need it; sadly the good luck does not reach herself. This all changes when a group of strange older boys reveal that they are part of the "Lunar Race" and she is the reincarnation of the long lost human princess who can help them save their people. What I really liked about this story is that it combined the Western and Eastern "monsters" very well. We have a vampire and a werewolf, but we also have oni, tengu, fox demons, and gender shifters. It is pretty well done and the story actually keeps you interested. There is even a love story embedded (but not overwhelming).

Finally, a Vertigo book, My Faith in Frankie by Mike Carey and Sonny Liew relates the tale of Frankie and her own personal god, Jerivan. Since she was a small child, Frankie has relied on Jerivan to protect her, help her win all games, and do well in school. This has always worked (with one important exception) until Frankie becomes interested in boys. Now, with her jealous god constantly interfering, Frankie finds it impossible to date or even just make out. Jerivan's distractions are hilarious; one poor boy finds himself surrounded by rabbits while trying to kiss (and do other things to....) Frankie. Instant performance anxiety.

What really makes this GN is the side characters and the sharp wit. Her best friend, Kay, has always benefitted from Frankie's god, but in many ways has stayed in the background. She even does this literally by retelling Frankie's childhood at relevant points in the story. Jerivan is also quite fascinating, as are Godtown and his parents. Even Dean Baxter, childhood friend and new love interest, has surprising depths and secret plans for Frankie.

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

Jenn H.'s Vacation Reads: Part 2

Well, this continuation is mostly manga. But those who know me won't be too surprised.

Click is the story of a boy, who awakens one morning to discover a terrible secret about his family: when they reach puberty, they change gender! Joonha has always been a chauvanistic and proud boy, but when he finds himself suddenly female, he must move far away and cut off contact with his new girlfriend and his lifelong best friend. Now Joonha is a tough girl in a new high school, just trying to make it through without attracting too much attention. Unfortunately, neither her own nature nor her former friends are willing to let that happen.

Next was the newest volume of The Wallflower by Tomoko Hayakawa. I have been reading this one for awhile and it has recently been made into a anime, which I am looking forward to watching. Four beautiful boys have made a deal with their landlady: they can live in her fabulous mansion rent-free if they can turn her neice, Sunako, into a lady. Simple, right? Wrong! Sunako loves nothing better than horror/slash movies and hiding in the darkness. She is often mistaken for a ghost (or the girl from The Ring of the same name). She is dark, socially awkward, and not pretty, and that is exactly the way she likes it. Can a cutie pie, a brain, a ladies man, and a dangerous boy change Sunako? Or will she change them?
This is a really funny manga, strangely drawn in a style I don't normally like. But you can't help but root for Sunako and start to realize that the boys are more than just a pretty face. I was addicted after volume 1.
Now two new ones for me: The Day I Become a Butterfly and Seduction More Beautiful Than Love. Both of these are more adult books, but might make a good addition to an adult GN collection.
The Day I Become a Butterfly by Sumomo Yumeka is a collections of short love stories. These stories vary from typical sappy romances to quirky homosexual relationships. Don't get me wrong, there is no nudity or anything truely offensive. This book was definitely written for romantics, with kissing and handholding as the main goals. It just covers a wide spectrum of relationships. I really enjoyed the title story, about a boy (actually even I had trouble telling this one was a boy) who is dying, but also happens to be falling in love with another boy who is rumored to be able to sense death. The art style for all of the stories is soft and quite beautiful. It adds to the sentimental nature without being overly saccharine.

Seduction More Beautiful Than Love by Lee Hyeon-Sook appears to also be a love story, if an unconventional one. Daoun is a young first-year high school teacher, trying hard to reach her students. Ryumin is the local "prince charming" with a bad attitude and a crush on his teacher, Daoun. Enter Hyuwoo, a new teacher who went to school with Daoun and has always had a crush on her, too, and we have a love triangle of the most scandalous sort. Which handsome man will win over Daoun? And will her choice destroy her?
Okay, I admit, I did pick this up for the scandal. But the story is pretty intricate and could be good. I've only read vol. 1, so we'll have to see. But it can definitely be a guilty pleasure!

Speaking of which, I also picked up the new Anita Blake book with my birthday money. Blood Noir by Laurell K. Hamilton focuses on Jason the werewolf, one of my favorite characters. Jason's abusive father is dying and he needs to bring a girlfriend home to prove he is not gay. Unfortunately, he just broke up with his girlfriend; so, Anita offers to fill the position for a weekend visit. To Asheville, NC!!!! I am thrilled that one of my favorite LKH characters is from a place on two hours away from where I grew up.

Anyway, sounds fairly simple for Anita's world, right? Well.....throw in a wedding where the bridegroom just happens to be a ringer for Jason, staying in the same hotel, and the confusion abounds. Oh, and the bridegroom's father is the governor of the state and a presidential hopeful. And someone wants to kill him. So, now Anita is not only dealing with emotional baggage, but also the very real threat of someone trying to kill her best friend. It was fun and very much an Anita Blake story. So if you are an LKH addict, enjoy!!

Well, I am still not done. But these are the most adult things I read over my vacation. I will continue will the rest later. Sorry, I seem to be hogging the blog. Just read a lot of new stuff and feel like sharing.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Jenn H's Vacation Reads: Part 1

Vacation! Lots of reading time....and not all of it "required."

First, I read I am Scout by Charles J. Shields. This was a redone version of his previous biography of Harper Lee, Mockingbird (Scout is written for children/teens). Shields starts by outlining the childhood and family of Nelle Harper Lee, including her father, A. C., upon whom Atticus Finch is based. We also come to know her estranged mother, with which Nelle always had a difficult relationship, mostly due to her "nervous disorder"--undiagnosed bipolar disorder. We also meet Truman Capote, Nelle's childhood friend and future well-known author as well.

The book covers Lee's life from childhood to the present, and is tastefully done considering that she is still alive but refuses interviews. Interesting details connected to To Kill a Mockingbird and In Cold Blood would make this a good read along for either of those books, especially Mockingbird during English classes. It is very readable and keeps your attention throughout and clearly shows that writing is difficult for everyone, not just students.

Okay, that's it for the more academic reading. Next, we have Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8! Yeay, Buffy is back and she has her own super-secret demon-fighting organization. All the newly called slayers have formed tactical teams with Xander as their "M". There are even three different "Buffy"s--one partying with the Immortal, one underground (literally), and the real Buffy Summers that we all know and love, leading her strike teams. Unfortunately, Homeland Security is not to fond of this set up, a pair of old enemies have returned, and Dawn has a rather large problem.

Next, a road trip with E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski, and Lauren Myracle--How to Be Bad. Inspired by David Levithan and Rachel Cohen, these three authors have teamed up to write a road trip book about three girls who alternate chapters (and authors) to deliver some fun and craziness, as well as a little therapy. Jessie is the mastermind of this trip, stealing away her best friend Vicks under the pretense of visiting Vicks's boyfriend at the University of Miami. In reality, she needs a getaway to come to terms with her mother's cancer, which she hasn't told Vicks about, and to "live" as her mother has advised. Vicks agrees to go since she hasn't received more than a late night text message in the two weeks Brady has been gone, and is not only worried but understandably pissed. Mel volunteers to tag along, offering to pay for a hotel room as well as food and gas, just on the off chance that she might make a couple friends (btw, Patti, she is Canadian!). Thus begins their Thelma and Louise adventure, filled with hot boys, cool gators, and some truely memorable arguments....

More later.... Have to go to work!