Friday, August 29, 2008

Tales of Uncle Remus: The Adventures of Brer Rabbit by Julius Lester

Julies Lester and Jerry Pinkney retell the marvelous tales of Uncle Remus with the same sly sense of humor and with the addition of some modern detalis (references to shopping malls and such). I listened to the audio version, which I highly recommend. It kept me laughing out loud even as I spent the day hauling around boxes of heavy textbooks.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Acceleration by Graham McNamee

Duncan still has nightmares about the day he failed to save a drowning girl. His guilt overwhelms him and his relationships with his family and friends suffer because of it.

Duncan takes a mind-numbingly boring job at the transit authority lost and found. One day, while poking around the dusty shelves looking for a book to read, he comes across a mysterious journal. The journal belongs to a serial killer wannabe who documents the acceleration of his crimes--torturing small animals, setting fires, to stalking women on the subway.

Duncan feels driven to stop the would-be killer before he strikes, but when he tries to turn in the diary, the overworked police are not interested. Duncan, with the help of his two very different best friends, sets out to find the killer.
Plot and characterization are both handled well and the suspense gradually builds to an exciting climax. Very well-done mystery that will keep readers turning pages.

Don't skip the interview with the author at the end of the book. It will give you a fascinating glimpse into the writing of the novel--and it's funny.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Blackthorn Winter by Kathryn Reiss

During a trial separation, Juliana's mother takes Juliana and her little brother and sister to live in a tiny artist's colony in England. Juliana's mother plans to find some solitude and peace so that she can start painting again and recapture her artistic self. Juliana understands none of this and misses her dad.

Shortly after Juliana arrives in Blackthorn, her mother's school friend, a nosy and obnoxious woman, is murdered. Though a suspect is jailed right away, Juliana is convinced that the real killer is still on the loose and investigates on her own.

Juliana's investigation leads her to make some mysterious connections with her own past. Can she find the real killer before he - or she- strikes again?

Lots of creepy atmosphere and suspense will keep mystery fans turning pages.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Book trivia

Think you know about books? Try this free online book trivia game:

Friday, August 15, 2008

Stop in the Name of Pants! by Louise Rennison

Book NINE in the Georgia Nicolson series. If you haven't met Georgia yet, you'll want to start with the first book, Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging. These books are so funny that they come with a warning: Do not eat or drink (especially carbonated beverages) while reading. You WILL laugh out loud and it WILL hurt if food and/or drink comes spewing out of your nose. BEWARE!

Georgia is back, but still stuck in the cakeshop of love. She is the official girlfriend of the Luuurve God, Masimo, but she's all alone at home while he's visiting his family (and his ex-girlfriend) in Pizza-a-Go-Go Land.

Though Georgia has finally eschewed The Sex God, Robbie, with a firm hand, she can't stand it when he takes up with Wet Lindsay again.

Dave the Laugh keeps cropping up when Georgia least expects it. He gets all her jokes and they accidentally spend more time on the snogging scale.

When tragedy strikes Georgia finds that she can be (sort of) mature, but she still finds plenty of time to snog and do the bison disco with her mates. Still no choice, on the boyfriend front, though. How long is Dave going to wait for Georgia to realize that he is the one for her?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Spent the day rereading Les Mis and avoiding the work I should be doing to get ready for school. I loved this book the first time I read it in high school (even with a poor translation) and it just gets better every time.

Jean Valjean, #24601, spends years in prison after stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving family. When he is finally released, he becomes ever more bitter because no one will give him, an ex-convict, a chance to start a new life. He repays a bishop's hospitality by stealing silverware. Instead of pressing charges, the bishop makes a furthur gift of a pair of silver candlesticks and tells Jean Valjean to use them to make a good life for himself and others.

The plot is complex, combining many storylines and historical connections. Hugo frequently digresses from the main storyline, but his story of love and redemption is a must-read. Once you have read this enormous book, check out the musical. Listen to the Original London Cast Recording. Better yet, go to London and see it live. And bring kleenex--lots of it.

Check out pictures from the musical, see video clips, and even buy tickets for a performance at the official website:

Monday, August 11, 2008

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

Fourth (and final) book in the Twilight series.

I absolutely loved the first three books, and as a member of "Team Jacob" I was really hoping for a happy ending for him.

I have mixed feelings about the resolution to Meyer's marvelous series. Much of what I loved about the earlier books remains--the interesting twists of vampire and werewolf legend, the well-described setting, Jacob's snarky comments, and the realistic and entertaining dialogue between the characters. Even though the ending was too neat, I was glad that everyone got their happy endings.

However, where I was able to suspend my disbelief and go along for the ride in the earlier books, this one was a bit harder to take. Probably because Meyer's Mormon philosophy was much more obvious--I felt like I was getting beaten over the head with her belief system. The early marriage, the immediate pregnancy, the willingness to completely submerge her own needs and act like a martyr in order to keep the guys happy, the self-blame...Bella was a disappointment. And the conflict with the Volturi--underwhelming, to say the least.

If you enjoyed the rest of the series, don't let the negative reviews stop you from reading the finale. Even though I didn't LOVE it, I still think it was a worthwhile read.

Readers looking for a fantasy series with strong, smart female characters who rescue themselves, check out Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle trilogy. It combines elements of magic, romance, and historical fiction. And it might even make you think...