Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Death, Ugly Dresses and Fat Girls a-Go-Go

Even though I have proctored no tests recently, I have still found some time to read bits of promising looking books and I have found some gems!

THE FETCH by Laura Whitcomb. I adored A CERTAIN SLANT OF LIGHT and all I can say about the first chapter of Whitcomb's newest books is beautiful, beautiful, BEAUTIFUL! Calder is a fetch, a guide to brings newly-dead souls to the afterlife. The reader jumps into the story with a dreamily wonderful look at his job and a woman who may distract him from his duties. I will be reading this whole book because is a wonder.

by Malin Alegria. This was recommended by a student and I didn't read much, but what I read was cherce. Star wants her 15th birthday celebration (a HUGE deal in her culture) to be a quiet dinner in a chic restaurant. But her family has their collective heart set on a traditional party with a mariachi band and a hideous dress. Very cute, and definitely on tap for next year.

by Marissa Walsh. (Who is from Lynn! And needs to get a website!) These short stories about body image look great. So far I only read Coe Booth's story - HOW TO TAME A WILD BOOTY - and it was great. I loved her TYRELL and I haven't been able to read KENDRA because kids keep taking it out! I look forward to the rest of the collection featuring favorite writers like Carolyn Mackler, Barry Lyga and Margo Rabb who needs to write more and faster right now! (CURES FOR HEARTBREAK is one of my all time favorites.)

And finally, my new best friend Julie Halpern's book GET WELL SOON is about a large girl in a psych ward and I will go into this in greater detail in the forthcoming post - Dear My New Best Friend Julie Halpern, I Love You So and I Hope You Are Not At All Creeped Out By My Fervent Devotion. Coming soon in a blog near you...

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Rabbit Season!

Here are the second set of books I perused during the SATs yesterday.

THE MISSING GIRL by Norma Fox Mazer. Ever since UP IN SETH'S ROOM, which I was obsessed with in high school (oh, to have a smokin' hot, older boyfriend know...a ROOM!) I have loved Norma Fox Mazer. She recently passed away and her last book is a good one. So good, in fact, that it is kind of freaking me out, and I am a little scared to keep reading! I will, of course, because I have to know what happens when one of the five Herbert sisters goes missing. And the creepy guy who is going to take her (which one is he going to take???) is gearing up for something icky. Pins and needles, my friends, that is what I am on.

GOOD GIRLS by Laura Ruby. Oh dear, Audrey gets her picture taken in an indelicate position without her knowledge. It gets passed around school and all hell breaks loose. I am irritated by the cover of this book (which is inaccurate and creepy) and the jacket copy (too breezy) which make it look like less than it is. (Although I understand the need to market it, blah blah blah... Harper usually does SO much better with their covers.) But the book itself is fantastic. Audrey is likable and usually level-headed. Except when it comes to Luke, a (barely) friend-with-benefits. This book depicts the dark side of technology (Damn you - cell phone cameras!) and the upside of friends who will stick by you. Am I going to finish it? Oh, you know me so well... Put it on the pile!

by Lisa Schroeder. I am just going to put it out there - painful title. However, the book is sweet and sad and lovely. (And the cover is beautiful. And the jacket copy is just the right amount of clever.) This novel in poems about a girl who loses her boyfriend in an accident is slight, but moving. I read this in less than 30 minutes, I should get a free pizza or something. (I am, however a very fast reader.) I should have read it more slowly to enjoy the language, but I really wanted to get the story. There is a nice bit of mystery and a whole lot of romance. I think this might just be a summer reading book this summer.

by Christine Schutt. I will admit it, I am a big wimp. I just can't bear to read a book about a parent losing a child. This book came highly recommended. When I was flipping through, I found a near perfect scene describing a teen dad on the subway that nearly broke my wee little heart when I thought of the rest of the story. (Affluent girl, dying slowly, everyone freaking out.) Did you ever read TAFT by Ann Patchett? That one snuck up on me... Anyway - so I barely read this one. But I will someday. Wow, this is a non-review - go read SLJ's. They loved it!

by Adam Shepard. After graduating from Merrimack College, Shepard hit the road to see if he could go from homeless guy to contributing member of the work force by using his wits and the safety net available to anyone. He did it as a response to Barbara Erihrich's slightly snotty, but well intentioned NICKLED AND DIMED. I only got as far as page 27, and while the writing is kind of workmanlike, the story has really got me hooked! This might be a summer reading pick.

Huzzah! Time for more coffee.

It's Rabbit Season!

Okay, it may not be rabbit season, but I am feeling daffy - and testing season is now over until the spring. So sad that my book smorgasbord-ing will be drawing to a close and I am going to have to actually finish something now.

But yesterday was the small SAT and I got to take a look at 10 new titles. But before I get to them, I want to mention the comments. I have received 2 comments from writers of books which I gave less than glowing reviews. So I imagine that they get pinged when they get mentioned online. (And Francie Nolan is out of a job... - And if you get that reference, leave me a comment and I will take you out for lunch, because we are kindred souls!) Anyway - the people about whose books I say nice things never comment. So I am thinking of just saying everything stinks so that EVERYONE will comment and I can just say, "Oh just kidding!" after.

Many of this post's books came recommend by Theresa Maturevich, reference librarian from the Beverly Public Library. (Let's see if she has one of those little blog gremlins who tells her when she is mentioned...) So thanks Theresa - it must be great to have a job where you get to sit and read books all day!

And now, the books:

by Brad Gooch. This is well written, the cover is beautiful and Flannery O'Connor is one of the classic writers who can draw me in like nobody's business. I loved the beginning with the chicken who can walk backward. But the truth is, I am just not much for biographies nowadays. I lack the intellectual curiosity and the attention span. But this one was a nice one.

INTO THE WILD NERD YONDER by my new best friend Julie Halpern. I was going to devote a whole post to this book because it is absolutely delicious. And you know what? I think I shall. Stay tuned for that one!

by Lawrence Hill. Oh my. Oh my. I never buy books for myself, because I just buy them for the library and act like they are mine. But I put this one on my Christmas list. I will be reading it for me. It is about a girl taken into slavery who eventually travels the world. And I started crying on page two where she matter of fact-ly says, "I never had the privilege of holding on to my children, living with them, raising them the way my own parents raised me for ten or eleven years, until all our lives were torn asunder." Well go ahead and grab me by the throat and shake me, Lawrence Hill, because you are KILLING ME! It got great reviews and I am going to wait until I have time to just leap into it.

GETTING THE GIRL: A GUIDE TO PRIVATE INVESTIGATION, SURVEILLANCE AND COOKERY by Susan Juby. Why is it that I just love books that are a tiny bit too explicit for summer reading? This one is so good and so far it has nothing that will get me fired, but I am nervous because the story is that girls are getting"Defiled" at his high school and Sherman Mack, short, awkward and mildly clueless is on the case. There are so many sweet details in this book, the best friend who tries to talk "street" to cover up his voice that sounds like a 6 year old girl, the burlesque-dancing mom who is still rebelling from her straight laced parents, the wry heavy-set gal pal, and of course the dull pretty inamorata. (And she may get more interesting, I am only on page 50). Am I going to finish this? Hell yes! I need to know how it ends. Am I going to put it on summer reading? If everyone is able to keep the graphic details to themselves (I am talking to you, Juby!) perhaps. Of course, maybe I could get the scholastic version. Grrr... But I digress.

by Susan Kuklin. Come for the titillation, stay for the politics. This looks like it is going to be one of those "true crime" stories that are practically salacious in their fetishization of the crime, but it ends up being a really moving, sad and educational book about how juvenile offenders are defined by their worst moment. The story of Roy Burgess, Jr. broke my heart. I browsed through the rest o the chapters and it certainly looks like summer reading to me, if it ever comes out in paperback. Um, kind of sad, summer reading. But it will interest kids, I think.

Okay, I have to do some laundry and drink some coffee. I will put out the other five later. This is an embarrassment of riches, right here!