Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Catching Up

It's been a long time since I've posted anything here.  Things just got away from me.  I blame it on moving to a new house a year ago.  Just got out of my normal routine and habits - which was a very good thing.

So, there are stacks of books that I haven't recorded here.  I'll try to think of them all. Or most of them. Or some of them.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, the author of the Monstrumologist series.
Survival after four waves of alien invasion. Now it's the fifth wave and the humans that are left are ready to fight back.

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia.
Such an excellent book set in the summer of 1968.  Three sisters from Brooklyn go to California to visit their estranged mother, a poet who left them when the youngest was just a baby.  Their summer is an education in racism, activism, the changing world and their own mother.   I loved this book.

P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams Garcia
The sequel to One Crazy Summer was just as excellent as the first book. I may have enjoyed this one more simply because I could relate to the setting of 1968/69.  The Jackson Five was what everyone was talking about, a point that figures into the plot of this book.

From Norvelt to Nowhere by Jack Gantos  (Audiobook narrated by Gantos)
The sequel to Dead End in Norvelt.  This was funny and enjoyable, but a little over the top. Not as successful as the first book.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (Audiobook narrated by Gaiman)
This was cataloged in the adult section of the library, but it could be a great YA read.  It's a fantasy and is fantastical, frightening and wonderful like Gaiman's other books. He's a great reader of his own books, too.

The Undertaking of Lily Chen by Danica Novgorodoff  (Graphic Novel)
I read this because there was a discussion about the appropriate place in which to shelf the book in the library.  It's a Teen book, but there are a few questionable parts. However, I liked it.

Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
The Newbery Winner for 2014.  A vacuum cleaner, a squirrel and some quirky characters. I think this book will not be for everyone, but I did like it a lot.

Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff
A National Book Award finalist.  Mila and her father go on a trip to find her father's friend Matthew who has gone missing.  Good book. I can't remember much else about it, though.

The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death and a Boy Called Eel
by Deborah Hopkinson
Hopkinson is primarily a non-fiction author. She brings her skills to this book about a cholera outbreak in a poor section of 1854 London.  Based on true events.  My kind of book.  I loved it.

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki  (Graphic Novel)
I liked this a lot. Two girls who know each other solely from the summers they spend at the lake.
It's just a "slice of life" book - simply about the girls in one summer of their lives.  One thing that appealed to me is that I remember being that age - not a mature teenager but no longer a little kid. Wanting to be "grown up" but still interested in childish things.  There are some mature themes in this book. It's a Teen novel.

Boxers and Saints by Gene Leun Yang (Graphic Novel)
A two volume set. Boxers tells the story from the Chinese point of view.  Saints tells the story from the Christian missionary point of view. Who'd have thought that a graphic novel about the Boxer Rebellion would be so good? Not me, but it was!  These appeared on many Best-Of lists for 2013.  A National Book Award finalist.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
I don't always like dragon type fantasy.  Or I say I don't, but whenever I do read a book in this genre I like it except, perhaps, for Eragon (which went on too long).  Anyway, I loved this book.  Interesting to me was the religious aspect of the setting and plot.

Death on Blackheath by Anne Perry
The Pitt mystery for spring of 2013.  Pitt is still involved in political things since he is head of Special Branch. I didn't like that direction for the Pitt books because I don't really care for political themes. But this one was leaning more toward being a regular mystery novel. Charlotte and Emily get to be involved more than they had been in the past.  And big news for Vespasia and Victor.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
The selection for 2014 One Book One Bluegrass.  A tribute to 1980s pop culture.  I really, really liked this book. It would make a great Teen selection, however adults that were young in the 1980s will really relate.  The story is set in the future but, thanks to a little mystery set in motion by the 80s loving computer mogul (think Steve Jobs?) everyone is obsessed by 80s culture.  So good.  This would make a good movie and I think that's actually in the works.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan  (Audiobook narrated by Jesse Bernstein)
I expected so much more from this book. Madeline loved this series. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't listened to it. Jesse Bernstein was not a very good audiobook reader.   He was believable as Percy Jackson, who is the narrator of the story. But the voices of the rest of his characters were all wrong.  And to top it all off, the discs are stuck in my car's CD player. I either find a way to get the things out or pay the $60 replacement fine.  So not worth it.  Why couldn't have something read by Simon Jones have been stuck in the player?

Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne
Sawyer Dodd is mourning the death of her football star boyfriend. They were the perfect couple, but not really. Nobody knows that Kevin was abusive towards her and she wanted out of the relationship but didn't know how to end it.  At least that's what Sawyer thinks, until she finds a note in her locker that says, "You're Welcome."  This reads like a Lifetime Network movie.  I wouldn't be surprised to see it there one Sunday afternoon.

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
This is about two brothers and their love for basketball, their father and the cute girl in school.  It just happens to have African-American characters. Just happens to.  The book isn't preachy or depressing or about civil rights or slavery or inner city life.  It's just about a family. I loved it so much. And I sat in Chipotle reading the end and crying.

Much Loved by Mark Nixon
This is not a novel. It's book of photographs, featuring well-loved stuffed animals (mostly teddy bears). Each photo is accompanied by the story of the toy and the person who owned it.
All of the pictures are great. The story of the pink fellow on the cover is so great. It makes his expression all the better. He seems to be saying, "You just don't know what I've seen!"

Bulu the African Wonder Dog by Dick Houston
I've been seeing this book on the shelf at the library for a while now. It's shelved in the dog section of nonfiction.  It doesn't have the best cover so I often wondered who the heck would ever read it. I finally did and loved it.  Bulu is a great dog and I cried when I read his story. The book is not that well written. But it is a worthwhile read and one that I will now recommend to kids.

Visible City by Tova Mirvis
Tova Mirvis is the author of two other books that feature Jewish culture as a strong plot point. This book has nothing to do with religion and may not even mention Judaism at all. (Maybe just once).
I kind of missed that in a Mirvis novel, but it didn't hurt my enjoyment of the book. Various characters who all live within a block of each other in New York become involved with each other in various ways. With another author that might have become an unrealistic, contrived element of the story. But Mirvis builds this puzzle in an interesting and graceful way.

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