Saturday, June 05, 2010

Big Trouble at the SATs

What I usually do when proctoring the SATs is bring a big old stack of books to flip through as I watch the test takers. Sure, I walk the rows and look up frequently, but it is a nice cloistered environment where I can give each book a 20 minute test drive. I ditch the ones that are lame and keep the good ones to finish later. Usually it is about a 50/50 split.

Well today the unthinkable happened. I liked every book! Not only that, but every single one of them has me wondering what is going to happen next! I am very ticked off. I don't have time to read 10 titles in the next 2 weeks. I have a life! I have a family! I have a job! (Although I can justify the reading as part of my job, which is excellent...)

Furthermore, of these 10 books, 7 of them have the makings of excellent summer reading picks for next year. So here are my don't-take-my-word-for-it-because-I-haven't-finished-them-yet-but-I-have-a-really-good-feeling-about-these mini-reviews.

Golden Web by Barbara Quick. Allesandra wants to be a scientist, but since she is a girl in 14th century Italy, it seems like an unlikely dream. The first 19 pages have a smart, resourceful heroine, a dashing older brother, an evil stepmother and a medical experiment on a lecherous priest. What's not to like?

Sources of Light by Margaret McMullan. Sam is a freshman when she and her recently-widowed mother move from Pittsburgh to Jackson, Mississippi in 1962. She sees the Civil Rights Movements through an outsider's eyes. Her mother's new boyfriend gives her a camera and she uses that to express her emotions.The story may not be immediately accessible, but the writing is beautiful.

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood. The hilarious account of Miss Penelope Lumly, a 15 year-old recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, and her work as the governess for 3 feral children who were found in the woods of a very grand estate. I predict a Series of Unfortunate Events-like success for this series.

Scars by Cheryl Rainfield. This one is a bit of a rough read, but very suspenseful.Slowly, memories of Kendra's childhood abuse have been coming back to her. She can remember the emotions and some aspects, but not her abuser. He had threatened to kill her if she ever told, and she is convinced that, whoever he is, he knows that she is not ready to keep this secret anymore. I totally skipped to the part where she remembers who it is and as soon as I finish this post, I am going to find out what happens to him.

The Sweetheart of Prosper County by Jill S. Alexander. I am a complete sucker for small-town stories and this is a good one. Set in East Texas, it is the story of Austin Gray who gets involved in the Future Farmers of America in hopes of being elected Sweetheart and getting to ride in the (no Jesus) Christmas parade. I know, it sounds pretty slight, but it is quite funny so far.

Reality Check by Peter Abrahams. Stephen King calls him "My favorite American Suspense novelist" and so far, I have to admit I am pretty hooked. Cody and Clea are two teenagers in love. When Clea's overbearing father sends her to boarding school in Vermont, Cody is heartbroken. When she disappears, he takes off across the country determined to find her. Of course, I am not up to that part yet. But so far, the characters are realistic and the story is gripping.

Princess for Hire by Lindsay Leavitt. This was supposed to be the guilty pleasure read that I told no one about, but it is so dang cute, I have to give it credit! Desi is a high school girl looking for a job that does not require her to dress up like a giant badger. When she is offered a job as a substitute princess she jumps at the changs. Hilarity ensues.

Thirteen Days to Midnight by Patrick Carman. I didn't expect to like this as well as I do! The story is about a boy who finds that he is not only indestructible, but that he can pass this power along. Carman jumps right out of the gate with an action scene that hooks the reader hard. He also has a clever way of presenting a "bad boy" character in a safe-for-the-classroom (so far) manner.

Ten Things I Hate About Me by Randa Abdel-Fattah. Jamilah is the daughter of a tradition Lebanese Muslim family, but at school she goes by Jamie and her dyed blond hair and blue contacts keep her background a secret. Important issues of assimilation and racism are cleverly woven into what seems like a lighthearted book about being true to yourself.

Birth Marked by Caragh M. O'Brien. This one is the big winner for me. It is the story of a dystopian future What can I say? I am a sucker for dystopian futures! (In a "nice place to visit, wouldn't want to live there kind of way.) Gaia is the daughter of a midwife who has just delivered her first baby without her mothers help. She delivers the baby, against it's mother's wished, to "The Enclave" as the law demands. When she returns home, she finds that her parents have been arrested and she is the new midwife. Thirty-four pages in and I am HOOKED. As a matter of fact, I am out of here. I have too much to read!


ScoutFinch said...

Thanks for the summer reading suggestions, and for making my summer reading list even longer. So many of them look great. Can I bring the list to Ashley and Courtney?

Barb said...

You can also send them to my library thing account where there is a list of all the books I am looking at so far for next year.

Melody Marie Murray said...

Dude, you have to update more often.

Barb said...

Your wish is my command! (Although it is pretty funny that just published a new post and then checked my email and there was your comment all ready for moderation!