Friday, January 28, 2011

Wicked Appetite

Wicked Appetite (The Unmentionables, #1)Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this first installment of Evanovich's latest series. This one features Diesel beginning his search for 7 stones of power, racing to find them before his (evil) cousin Wulf does. Evanovich makes me laugh with her wacky characters and their equally wacky antics, and I laughed out loud numerous times. The only thing that wore a little thin occasionally was Carl the Monkey (familiar to Stephanie Plum fans) and the sexual-tension-going-nowhere theme (also familiar to Stephanie Plum fans). Does Evanovich not know how to write stories in which people have healthy, long-term romantic relationships?

Otherwise, it was a light, fun read.

For readers' advisors: story and character doorways

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cat Among the Pigeons

Cat Among the Pigeons (Cat Royal, #2)Cat Among the Pigeons by Julia Golding

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fun adventure story featuring a young teen orphan (Cat Royal) trying to save her friend Pedro from being reclaimed into slavery by his evil master in 1790s London. Very fast-paced and exciting! It's the 2nd in a series (1st was The Diamond of Drury Lane), and I'm looking forward to reading the third (Den of Thieves)!

For Readers' Advisors: story doorway, with setting & character as secondary doorways

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Friday, January 14, 2011

An Abundance of Katherines

An Abundance of KatherinesAn Abundance of Katherines by John Green

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Any book that makes my husband pick it up out of curiosity and laugh out loud while reading the first few pages is great book. How often can you say that about a YA novel?

I loved this book. It took me a while to get past the overuse of the word "fug," although I appreciate why Green used it as he did. But other than that, I found the book great fun. I loved the use of humorous footnotes. I loved how real the characters seemed. I loved the quirkiness of the characters and the use of math to try and describe human relationships. And I thought the structure of the book was interesting, the way John Green interspersed the present-day with (not-chronological) snippets of the "beginning of the end," the "end of the middle," the "middle of the middle," and so on to tell the back-story. That helped hold my interest.

The premise of the story is that uber-smart Colin Singleton has dated and been dumped by 19 girls named Katherine. He's totally depressed and decides to go on a road trip with his hilarious friend Hassan, who is trying to avoid going to college & getting a job. They end up in rural Tennessee, drawn by the lure of a tourist trap and caught by the offer of a summer job and a place to stay. Colin is obsessed with creating his Theorem: a mathematical formula to predict who will dump whom and when in a relationship. Question is, can math actually predict the future?

For readers' advisors: character & story doorways.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference!

Eats, Shoots  &  Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference!Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference! by Lynne Truss

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lynne Truss has adapted her semi-famous book Eats, Shoots, & Leaves into three picture books (so far). What a great way to visually illustrate the impact punctuation has on the meaning of sentences! The rules really are quite simple and greatly enhance communication, and yet so many people screw them up constantly. This book puts the same sentence side by side on facing pages but changes the commas and uses illustrations to demonstrate the different meanings. Then at the end, there are two pages that give a little more info about the rules for each version of each sentence.

The only sentence pair I didn't like was the one with the squinting modifier about the boy & the duck: "Becky teased the boy with the fluffy duck./Becky teased the boy, with the fluffy duck." The second option just feels wrong to me. "With the fluffy duck" is a fragment. In real life, if I had to use that sentence, I probably would have rewritten it to say, "Becky used the fluffy duck to tease the boy." Surely Truss could have picked a better example?

Ah well, the rest of the examples are good. And readers young and old will enjoy the funny drawings by Bonnie Timmons. Readers will also enjoy Truss's other picture books, The Girl's Like Spaghetti: Why, You Can't Manage Without Apostrophes! and Twenty-Odd Ducks: Why, Every Punctuation Mark Counts!.

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Raising a Son: Parents and the Making of a Healthy Man

Raising a Son: Parents and the Making of a Healthy ManRaising a Son: Parents and the Making of a Healthy Man by Don Elium

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this book slowly, over the course of several months, and although I appreciated what the authors had to say, I think I would have been better off had I read it faster. Much of what the book covers is really Parenting 101, just targeted to boys, so it wasn't all that revelatory to me personally. However, I think there are thousands--maybe millions--of parents out there who would GREATLY benefit from reading and internalizing this book, given the wretched parenting I see all too often where I work (in a public library).

What I especially like about this book is how the chapters are organized, so you can choose to read the whole thing in order, as I did, or skip to the sections most relevant your own son's stage of development or circumstances. And they included further references and resources at the end of each age-specific section. I'm reading an older edition, so some of the references are a little outdated and might be hard to find, but they probably fixed that for the newer edition.

I also especially liked the examples and stories included throughout. They helped ground and explain the theories in a very concrete, practical manner. The authors have extensive experience, especially Don, who is a marriage, family, and child counselor, and they really seem to know their stuff!

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel

The Exile: An Outlander Graphic NovelThe Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel by Diana Gabaldon

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I should preface my review by saying that graphic novels are not really my thing. I love reading comics in the paper and all, but this is only the second graphic novel I have ever completed reading. It's not going to make me a GN convert, let's put it that way.

I had a hard time following along in the GN version of Outlander as told from Jamie's (and Murtagh's, among others) point of view. The artwork was lovely, but I could NOT keep the men's faces straight. They all looked nearly identical to me, and I had to rely on the skimpy dialogue to follow the story. Thank God I'd already read the real novels!

While I'm on the subject of the artwork, what is up with the artist's inability to keep Claire clothed?! I know Claire had a very curvy figure and all, but seriously, no matter what the outfit or context, she always had to be falling out of her flimsy bodices?! WAY too much cleavage to be believable. Capt. Randall's assumption that Claire was a prostitute became utterly logical and rational. She's drawn to look like a blowsy barmaid, for crying out loud!

I'm not certain who the target audience is for this GN version. Perhaps Diana Gabaldon wants to whet GN fans' appetites and get them to read the original series? The nature of this format is such that at least 85% of the story is missing, along with 98% of the character development and back story. It's like reading an abstract for a doctoral thesis. *sigh* In this case a picture really is NOT worth 1000 words. Ah well, I tried. And I stuck it out for the whole thing, just to be sure.

For readers' advisory: story doorway...or people with short attention spans?

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