Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Juvie Three

The Juvie ThreeThe Juvie Three by Gordon Korman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gordon Korman has come a long way from the days of Bruno & Boots' goofy antics at MacDonald Hall. In The Juvie Three Korman tells the story of three boys convicted of crimes ranging from driving a getaway car to theft to manslaughter. They are plucked from their various forms of jail by Douglas Healy, himself a survivor of juvenile detention, and taken to live in an experimental halfway house in New York City. It is not an easy transition for any of them, especially Terrence, the only one with the mindset of a criminal and no concept of how lucky he has been thus far. When a scuffle on the fire escape results in a bloody concussion and amnesia for Healy, the boys panic and drop him off at a hospital, convinced that the authorities would never believe it was an accident.  They succeed in pretending all is normal...until a phone call from the social worker sends them into a tailspin.

For readers' advisors: story and character doorways, likely a good choice for reluctant readers, particularly boys

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Amazing Thinking Machine

The Amazing Thinking MachineThe Amazing Thinking Machine by Dennis Haseley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Patrick and Roy's father left home a while ago to find work somewhere. It's the middle of the Depression, and jobs are scarce. The boys' mom tries to keep them fed and hold things together at home, but when they figure out she's been accepting charity baskets of food, they balk at eating the donated meals. Then Roy gets the bright idea to build an "amazing thinking machine" in their backyard and charge local kids a fee (food or a penny) to come and ask it questions.

I think this book would be best read with your children--maybe a chapter a night at bedtime--so you could answer questions about the Depression and the many unpleasant and prejudiced slang terms for the "bums" hanging about in vacant lots. (The boys use these terms frequently but come to see that ANYONE could end up like the unkempt strangers begging for food.)

For readers' advisors: character and setting doorways, with story secondary.

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The Grand Finale

The Grand FinaleThe Grand Finale by Janet Evanovich

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I checked this one out as a downloadable audiobook when I was testing our new service (OneClick Digital) and needed something to practice with. I love Janet Evanovich's books and thought this one sounded like a light, fun thing to listen to in the car on my way home. is light and fluffy...and utterly, teeth-grindingly idiotic. I listened to the first half hour, and it didn't get any better, so I will not be listening to the rest.

Reading the print version might have been better. At least that way I wouldn't have to listen to the narrator simper through Berry's dialogue and attempt to smolder through Jake's. Then again, the characters and story itself are ridiculous. She's a dingbat, and he's unrealistic in the extreme. I mean, really? I'm supposed to believe he gave up a lucrative chemist/inventor position for the glamorous world of teaching first grade because he hated the corporate life, just "happened" to have a degree in elementary education AND a teaching certificate, and he wanted to use students as his guinea pigs? Oh, and he has a perfect body, etc. Riiiiiiight. I nearly went blind from rolling my eyes so much in that excruciating half hour drive home.

Likewise, Berry's character made me gag. She's supposed to be all independent and self-sufficient, pulling her life back together after her divorce from her philandering husband, but...she's an immature adolescent in an adult's body. A flighty airhead. Vapid. I can buy that she's nervous about delivering a pizza to an isolated, dark, creepy old house. I can even buy that she climbed a tree to rescue a kitty and was distracted by the sight of a gorgeous male stripping out of all of his clothes in his bedroom. Her internal dialogue about it makes me cringe, but OK, whatever. What put me over the edge, though, was 1) her idiotic conversation with Mr. Large Pizza (Jake) and 2) that after protesting being saved from going over a cliff with her Jeep, she insists on walking home (from the middle of nowhere!) WITHOUT first climbing down to salvage her purse and other important personal items and documents from her crushed vehicle. Really?!?


For Reader's Advisors': skip this one. Or only suggest it to someone wanting total fluff.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lord John and the Scottish Prisoner

Lord John and the Scottish Prisoner (Lord John Grey, #3)Lord John and the Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, my goodness, I now need to listen to all of the Outlander series on audiobook! Or at least I do if they are all read by voice actors as wonderful as Jeff Woodman & Rick Holmes. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven when this book started playing, and I was so grateful that it was 13 CDs long. Bliss!

The Grey brothers have extensive evidence of corruption by an army officer and set out to track him down and bring him to justice. Among the papers in the packet of evidence is a poem they believe to be written in "Erse" (the language of the Scottish Highlanders), so John's brother Harold sends soldiers to fetch Jamie from Hellwater and bring him to London to translate what turns out to be an Irish poem. To Jamie's dismay, a former comrade and die-hard Irish Jacobite, Tobias Quinn, has followed him there. Next thing Jamie knows, he's on a boat to Ireland with both Lord John & Quinn, battling brutal seasickness and trying to convince his unwelcome Irish companion that the Jacobite cause is dead and should be put to rest.

This novel is sort of a bridge between Gabaldon's Outlander series and her Lord John series. It features both Jamie Fraser and Lord John Grey and takes place during 1760 when Jamie is "on parole" at Hellwater--after Ardsmuir Prison but before being free & Claire coming back. The chapters switch back and forth between Jamie's & John's points of view, and the voice actors likewise switch back and forth, doing the voices for all the people in their respective chapters.

I've seen a thread on Goodreads of people complaining about the narrators--Rick Holmes, in particular--and I do not understand why they are so displeased. True, I am not Scottish and have never (yet) been to Scotland and cannot therefore say for sure how accurate Holmes' Scottish accent is, but sheesh! His voice is wonderful and brought Jamie to life in a whole new way for me!

For readers' advisors: Like Gabaldon's other Outlander books, this one is pretty long and involves intertwining subplots and political intrigue. There is some relatively graphic sexual content, but no real sex scenes (it's all memory, fantasy, and dreams). There is quite a lot of swearing but all of it makes contextual sense. Character and setting doorways are primary; story is secondary.

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Blog Name Change

Today I decided it was time to change the name of my blog. I'm not 33 anymore, I use my blog mostly for publishing reviews of all the books I read, I am a reference librarian, my favorite color is periwinkle blue, I love the Librarian in Black blog, and my first half a dozen blog name ideas were already taken, so..."Librarian in Periwinkle" it is! What do you think? Good name? Or do you have a better idea? I'm open to suggestions!

Thanks for reading, everyone!

Free ebook copies of His Good Opinion!

Do you love Pride and Prejudice? Ever wonder what Darcy was thinking? Now is your chance to find out!

My friend and author, Nancy Kelley, is offering free ebook copies of her new novel His Good Opinion: a Mr. Darcy novel today only on Amazon! And for sharing this information, you will be entered to win a free paperback copy--woohoo! :) For more information, click here:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

VoiceMale: What Husbands Really Think About Their Marriages, Their Wives, Sex, Housework, and Commitment

Voicemale: What Husbands Really Think about Their Marriages, Their Wives, Sex, Housework, and CommitmentVoicemale: What Husbands Really Think about Their Marriages, Their Wives, Sex, Housework, and Commitment by Neil Chethik

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

VoiceMale caught my eye as I was searching for something for a library patron, and I picked it up out of curiosity. What DO husbands think about their marriages, wives, sex, housework, and commitment? The result of Neil Chethik's research is an interesting mix of the surprising, the sad, and the encouraging, with a good dose of the obvious thrown in. (Men who split housework fairly with their wives tend to have happier marriages with more sex. Gee, no kidding!!)

Chethik's findings mesh well with what Alison Armstrong's PAX Program has been saying for years, which I appreciated. I would love to be able to discuss the book with my husband, although I'm doubtful I'll be able to convince him to read it any time soon. It's written with both genders in mind as its audience and could really be a helpful tool for strengthening and understanding marital relationships in all stages.

For readers' advisors: it almost qualifies as "nonfiction-that-reads-like-fiction," except for the lack of a unifying story arc.

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