Saturday, June 04, 2011

Book 7: Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce

And now this is why you don't finish books that are boring you. Because you could be reading Cosmic instead.

This was a recommendation from animouse to my husband, who tried it and didn't get into it. Which is a freakin' tragedy and I'm going to lean on him until he reads it. If the ending doesn't make him cry, nothing will. And if he doesn't laugh about a million times while reading it... well, I don't even know.

This is a love letter to dads, in the form of a story narrated by Liam, a 12 year old kid who's so big and scruffy, he's constantly mistaken for an adult. When he gets the chance to have an awesome adventure, for which he has to pretend to be a dad, it's too good to pass up. Liam is probably too young to have read Kurt Vonnegut, who warned us, "we are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be," but he learns the truth of those words. And he learns what it means to be a dad, which sometimes involves doing the hard thing.

It sounds like a book adults will love more than kids, but it's so incredibly funny, I can't imagine anyone not loving it. Except apparently my possibly certifiable husband. * (12 & up)

314 pages

Reading: 2 hours, 26 minutes
Blogging: 10 minutes
Networking: 3 minutes

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Book 6.5 Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith

I don't think I've ever had so many DNFs in a book challenge before, but I don't have the patience I once did. Too many books in this world I want to read to waste time on ones I'm not enjoying. This seemed derivative and the narrator's voice too bland.

pages: 60 out of 310

Reading: 35 minutes
Blogging: 5 minutes
Networking: 12 minutes

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Book 6: Old Photographs by Sherie Posesorski

Old Photographs by Sherie Posesorski. Second Story, 2010 (978-1-897187-78-4)

A book about a girl who loves Agatha Christie mysteries, how could I resist that? Sadly, the Christie theme turned out to be pretty light (though that's considerably better than getting it all wrong!) But it was an interesting story.

Phoebe is having a lonely summer. Her best friend Yuri is away, and her recently married mother expects--insists--that she live a fairy-tale life full of the "right kind" of friends. So Phoebe pretends to be off to pool parties, when really she's just biking around town and stalking the adorably nerdy Colin.

When Phoebe comes across an elderly woman having a garage sale, who seems bewildered and frightened, she feels a need to help her. Her unexpected friendship with Mrs. Tomblin will lead to a mystery to solve, a budding romance with Colin, and some important changes in her relationship with her mother, who has been trying to block all memories of her working-class past that might cast a blemish on her new wealthy life.

The mystery of who robbed Mrs. Tomblin is not particularly enthralling, but the family issues really made this book for me, as Phoebe struggles with how her mother tries to erase their past -- including Phoebe's much loved relatives. I liked the strong, athletic and warm-hearted Phoebe, who's a lot smarter than she thinks she is -- especially about what's really important to people. The mild romance and the friendship between Phoebe and Yuri are warmly drawn. Everything comes together a little too sweetly and perfectly at the end, but overall this was a pleasant book, and just a little unexpected. (12 & up)

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy.

215 pages

Reading: 1 hour, 41 minutes
Blogging: 16 minutes
Networking: 2 minutes

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Book 5: White Cat by Holly Black

White Cat by Holly Black. Simon & Schuster, 2010.

Another totally awesome book! Or perhaps, just because I don't read YA that often anymore, everything seems fresh and wonderful to me? And everyone else is going, oh not that same old tired story again.

Not that it's completely original. The plot is reminiscent of Diana Wynne Jones: an alternate universe very much like ours except for the existance of magic (feared and known as curse work,) with a protagnoist who's the one person in his family who isn't a curse "worker." In this world, laws against workers create organized crime, with curses as a metaphor for drugs, prostitution and so on. (Runaway workers kicked out by their families are preyed on the underworld; liberals are fighting against laws forcing people to take a test to reveal whether they're workers.)

I thought the world building was delightfully clever, with so many aspects of society and history shaped by curse work. Australia, for example, has no laws against curse working "because it was founded by curse workers [...] who'd been sent to a penal colony."

The narrator is seventeen-year-old Cassel, the non-worker from a family of workers, criminals and grifters. Cassel has conned his way into a prep school, where he desperately tries to pass for normal. (Not so desperately that he doesn't make book for all the other students, however.) But the painful secrets of his past and his family are about to catch up with him, in a big way.

Lies, betrayal, and a narrator constantly fighting his own nature make for a gut-wrenching read. I can't wait for the sequel. * (14 & up)

310 pages

Reading: 3 hours, 25 minutes
Blogging: 2 minutes
Networking: 12 minutes

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