Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sleeping Naked Is Green

Sleeping Naked is Green: How an Eco-Cynic Unplugged Her Fridge, Sold Her Car, and Found Love in 366 DaysSleeping Naked is Green: How an Eco-Cynic Unplugged Her Fridge, Sold Her Car, and Found Love in 366 Days by Vanessa Farquharson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The title of this book is what originally caught my eye. It should really have dawned on me right then that if she calls herself an "eco-cynic" in the title, the book is probably going to include some snarky, disparaging comments about those of us who give a flying fig about this planet we're all on. Thankfully, the author does by and large grow in to becoming one of us over the course of her year of daily green changes.

My overall impression of this book is that the author is very very young. Not that I'm all that old, mind you, but she is SO young (early twenties??) and still in that phase where she's really out to prove young & hip, primarily. And she seems to be on the verge of alcoholism. But I very much admire her willingness to try things even I would balk at, like getting rid of her car, taking lukewarm showers, taking a butchering class, or using composting toilets. She broke her own rules more frequently than I would like, but at least she TRIED, which is more than most people do, and she raised a great deal of awareness about personal choices and options by sharing everything on her blog, in her book, and in her weekly newspaper column. And because of her, a lot more people are trying to make their own green changes, both small and large, and I am thankful for that.

For Reader's Advisors: character doorway because it's all about the author and her personal development over the course of the year. Be careful when recommending it to uber-conservative types, though, because Farquharson bed-hops (or tent-hops!) a bit, and there is some swearing.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Burning Lamp

Burning Lamp (Dreamlight Trilogy, #2, Arcane Society, #8)Burning Lamp by Amanda Quick

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This latest addition to the fictional world of the Arcane Society is both #8 in the Arcane Society series, as well as #2 in the Dreamlight Trilogy. Nothing groundbreaking here, but it is a solid, entertaining read.

The Winters family has a "curse"--every once in a while, one of the men will inherit a tendency to develop paranormal talent at the age of 36 that goes beyond his original talent. He must locate both a dreamlight reader (a woman) as well as the Burning Lamp his ancestor created, and persuade the woman to use her talent and the lamp to prevent him from going mad. Enter Griffin Winters, late-19th-century London crime lord, and Adelaide Pyne, social reformer.

I had a hard time believing Griffin was really a crime lord--he was too honorable and, well, nice. Not brutal or unscrupulous enough. But otherwise it was a fun read. I enjoyed the appearances of other characters from earlier novels, despite wishing I had the previous books at hand to help jog my memory.

For reader's advisors: story doorway.

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Snow White and Rose Red

Snow White And Rose Red (Fairy Tales)Snow White And Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is definitely not Disney's Snow White. True, there is no sex or bad language, and violence is only discussed, not really depicted, but that's really where the similarities end. In Patricia C. Wrede's version of the classic fairy tale, Snow White and Rose Red are the daughters of a poor widow who ekes out a living by making herbal remedies to sell to the townsfolk. They live next to a forest, on the edge of the border of Faerie, in the Elizabethan era of England. Living in the village of Mortlak are two sorcerers whom the girls accidentally spy casting a spell that unwittingly traps the spirit of the younger son of the Queen of Faerie in first a lamp and then a crystal. The Queen's sons are half human/half faerie, and the human half slowly transforms into a bear which is then cast out into the human world. The Queen's older son, John, sneaks out of Faerie in search of a way to save his brother, Hugh, meanwhile a trio of human-hating faeries plots to steal the lamp and crystal and break the bonds holding Faerie to the mortal world.

The language is fabulous--very much how I think Elizabethan English might have sounded. Reading dialogue in the novel is like reading Shakespeare (and I mean that in a good way!), especially toward the end when the Puck-like character of Robin is introduced. It's delightful and really adds to the atmosphere of the story and setting.

So for Reader's Advisors, the main doorways are story and language. It's billed as a YA book, but adults will love it just as much--if not more--than teens.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Help

The Help The Help by Kathryn Stockett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It took me a while to adjust to reading the written dialect/accent of Aibilene and Minny, but once I got going, I fell in love with this book. The characters felt like real people--even Hilly wasn't a one-dimensional villain. I was never entirely sure where the story would lead, not even when I guessed a bit of someone's secrets here or there. I had a hard time putting the book down at the end of my lunch breaks because I wanted to find out what happened next.

I kept wanting to put everyone in a room and make them TALK to each other and see how artificial and arbitrary their differences were, founded on ignorance and prejudice. (I especially wanted Minny to talk to Miss Celia.) But then, I was born more than a decade after this book took place and in an entirely different part of the country. I have very little personal experience with racial prejudice. Or domestic help, for that matter! :) I don't know how I would have handled the cruelty and shameful miscarriages of justice. Would I have been brave enough to risk my life to challenge the hateful status quo? It's really amazing to me just how far we've come in a generation. To have improved that much gives me hope that we will be able to continue the progress into--and beyond--the next generation.

For Reader's Advisors: story and character doorways, with setting also pretty important.

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