Thursday, September 24, 2009

Losing It

Today, I had to pay for a book I lost. I know, embarrassing! But, contrary to what you might think, librarians do not have to sign a contract stating that we will never lose or damage items. We are human! This is the third item that I've lost in 5 years and I think that is a pretty good record considering that I usually have about 30 items checked out at a time. The sad thing this time is that I never even read the book. Oh, well. Have any of you ever had to pay for a lost or damaged library item?

Friday, September 18, 2009

It's Happening Again

I'm in another mini reading funk this week. I just haven't been able to read. I haven't really been interested in TV either so that leaves... daydreaming? I don't know what I've been doing with myself. I need to find something good to read for this weekend or I'll be sad.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

All the Colors of Darkness by Peter Robinson

Mr. Robinson's latest Inspector Alan Banks detective novel illustrates how wonderful a writer he has become. His first book was published in 1987 and I've tried to read his early Banks novels with little success. I find them lacking imagination and extremely routine. Yet his novels that have been published in the past 10 years or so are outstanding. He just keeps capitalizing on his experience and knowledge to create intricate, well-plotted, intriguing novels.
The lastest Alan Banks mystery finds Alan and DS Annie Cabot investigating the murder of a wealthy, ex-civil servant in Eastvale. The same day he is found murdered his boyfriend, a set designer for the local theater, is found in the woods hanging from a tree. They quickly deduce that it was a case of murder-suicide, but something doesn't sit right with Banks and, though he is forbidden to investigate further, he goes to London to track down several clues that could break the case open and send it in an entirely different direction. This novel was unique in that the mystery was solved within the first 50 pages, but the loose ends were the main focus of the book. I enjoyed Banks' investigations, but there were several sideplots that were distracting and unnecessary, including a terrosist attack on London that was kind of weirdly wedged in. There also wasn't enough of Annie, whose character I like and want to read more about. I also had issues with the ending, which seemed melodramatic and just didn't work. Overall, though, another excellent novel from Peter Robinson, who I will continue to read.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson

Another Ultimate Teen Bookshelf entry.
Do NOT read this, I repeat, DO NOT read this if you are PMSing! This is one of the saddest YA books I've ever read. Basic story: Ellie and Jeremiah are both new at their posh Manhattan school. When they meet in the hall one day it is love at first sight, but will their racial differences derail their relationship before it begins? A tragic, yet beautifully written love story from a very insightful writer. Teens who like the intensity of a Twilight-like love affair will devour If You Come Softly, however it doesn't end well and there are no vampires. Nevertheless, it is a gut-wrenching tale that many teen girls will identify with and take to heart.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Awards News

One of my favorite books so far this year, The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, has been nominated for the Man Booker literature prize. If you haven't read it yet, save it for a time when you can stay up late reading because you won't want to put it down! A fantastic book!

The Killer's Cousin by Nancy Werlin

This is another selection from the Ultimate Teen Bookshelf.
David Yaffe is eighteen and heading to Boston to live with his aunt and uncle and attend a private school for his senior year. Given snippets of information about his former life in Baltimore, the reader surmises that David was acquitted of murdering his girlfriend, Emily, and has come to Boston to escape attention and publicity. He moves in with his Uncle Vic, Aunt Julia and 11-year-old cousin Lily. They have a 3 story house and have remodeled the attic floor into an apartment where David will live while he attends school. His mother and Aunt Julia have never liked each other and when David arrives, Aunt Julia won't speak to him. He quickly finds out that Aunt Julia is also not speaking to Uncle Vic and that Lily is the go-between for her parents. He also discovers that Lily is a very strange and scary child. When David tries to discuss her behavior with his aunt and uncle, their relationship goes downhill and we learn how dysfunctional this family really is. I liked The Killer's Cousin. It was suspenseful and creepy and despite us knowing that David has killed someone, I liked his character. I would suggest this to a teen who wants to read a thriller and who wouldn't get too freaked out by murder and all-around evil. There were parts of the book that could have been better developed - some plotlines and characters are definitely left hanging. All in all, though,this was enjoyable.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Internet Down

Just a quick message to let you know my Internet is down at home so I haven't been able to post about any books this week. It should be back up either tomorrow or Friday. I've read a few books in the past week and I can't wait to tell you all about them!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff

This YA novel is on the Ultimate Teen Bookshelf list that I am trying to read through. When I read the synopsis it sounded okay, but it is better than okay - it is fabulous!
LaVaughn is fourteen and lives with her single mom in a disadvantaged neighborhood. In order to earn money for college LaVaughn takes a job babysitting for Jolly, a seventeen-year-old mother, who has two kids, Jeremy and Jilly. Jolly's apartment is filth-encrusted and cockroach infested, but LaVaughn loves the kids and becomes Jolly's friend. When Jolly gets fired LaVaughn continues to babysit for free while Jolly tries to find a job, much to LaVaughn's mother's disapproval. After months of unemployment, Jolly is finally convinced by LaVaughn to return to school and earn her GED. LaVaughn witnesses the desperation and mistrust that fill Jolly, yet also the accountability and capability Jolly accepts when she "takes hold" (as LaVaughn's mother says) and becomes responsible for her life and her childrens' lives. After a dramatic event that nearly takes Jilly's life, Jolly and LaVaughn go their separate ways and LaVaughn is left to ponder the nature of their relationship and why it had to end, as is the reader.
Written in a free-verse style and told in first person by LaVaughn, this short novel powerfully tells the story of two teens who are from the same neighborhood, but who take dramatically different paths in life. The evolution of Jolly's character is extremely well-done and so is the rendering of a poor neighborhood and school. I was very happy to find out that there is a sequel that focuses on LaVaughn - I can't wait to read it.