Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hiranandani, 224 pages

Title: The Whole Story of Half a Girl
Author: Veera Hiranandani
Pages: 224
Date: May 31st
Found: While shelving
Motive: Grabbed based on the title, intentionally didn't read the back
Summary: Sonia Nadhamuni is half Indian and half Jewish American. She loves her school, her life, her family, but when her father loses his job and she is forced to start going to a public school, life doesn't seem so simple anymore.
Verdict: Surprisingly good. Again, the push and pull of cultural backgrounds was intriguing, as well as family dynamics, peer pressure, rocky friendships, and the confusion of growing up.

Brick by Brick by Stephen McCranie, 206 pages

Title: Brick by Brick: Principles for Achieving Artistic Mastery
Author: Stephen McCranie
Pages: 206
Date: May 30th
Found: Pre-ordered through Kickstarter a few months ago, originally found the individual essays here. <-- go check it out, it has nearly the entire book right there for free under the table of contents.
Motive: I'm an artist, or used to think so, and am hoping to carefully pick that up again
Summary: A collection of essays, in comic form, about cultivating sustainable creativity.
Verdict: This book is simply beautiful. Very knowledgeable, bringing wide concepts to clarity, reminding us we all have to start somewhere. These essays are absolutely wonderful for aspiring artists. Actually, a lot of the principles apply to all areas of life. I love this book.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, 264 pages

Title: And Then There Were None
Author: Agatha Christie
Pages: 264
Date: May 30th
Found: Had on hold
Motive: Somehow managed never to have read Agatha Christie before, and she's on the table of Literary Elements, and I looked up a list of her best stories, and this was a highly recommended one
Summary: The elusive U. N. Owens has individually invited ten people to an island mansion. They arrive with no host to greet them, and soon are confronted with a chilling tape recording. As they begin to die, one by one, the remainder of the party must work quickly to solve who the killer is, and how to get off the island.
Verdict: Excellent. This was absolutely brilliant. I can't believe I waited so long to read this. Very well-crafted mystery, with many pieces carefully accounted for.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Grimmy and the Temple of Groom by Mike Peters, 122 pages

A comic collection Jason and I picked up at an antique mall this weekend.

Little Britches by Ralph Moody, 288 pages

This book had been on the pull list for a patron and after reading the back, I thought it looked interesting. Ralph Moody was 8-years-old when his family moved to a ranch in Colorado in 1906. It covers the first few years of his family's experiences, and was funny, touching and sweet. This was a great book for people looking for a boy's version of Little House on the Prairie.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Dave Berg: Five Decades of "The Lighter Side of..." by Dave Berg, 272 pages

I always loved "The Lighter Side of..." strips in Mad Magazine, so I was delighted to see this book come into the library featuring the cartoonist's career from the 1950s on. A great look at how society has changed, but humor stays the same.

Big Nate in the Zone by Lincoln Peirce, 216 pages

I always like the Big Nate books. The biggest issue with them is getting them into the house and reading them before my kids run off with them. Considering my daughters are 12 and 18, it's a testament to how funny the books are.

Everything is Going to Be Great by Rachel Shukert, 312 pages

I saw this reviewed somewhere else and thought it looked really funny. Requested it via inter-library loan, gave it a go, and, meh, not so funny.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Quiet by Susan Cain, 352 pages

Title: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
Author: Susan Cain
Pages: 352
Date: May 28th
Found: Had on hold
Motive: I'm an introvert and really like trying to understand it
Summary: A really good study on introverts, broken into many sections.
Verdict: Excellent. It took me a pretty long time to get through, simply because I kept getting distracted by other books, but this was really good.

Poorcraft by C. Spike Trotman, 168 pages

Title: Poorcraft: The Funnybook Fundamentals on Living Well on Less
Author: C. Spike Trotman
Pages: 168
Date: May 27th
Found: While checking in books
Motive: We've been trying to live more simply for awhile now, so this looked useful
Summary: A selection, in comic form, of advice on living within your means.
Verdict: Perfect. I know and practice many of these ideas already, but it still encouraged me to go even further into simplicity, and it's just nice to have everything outlined so simply. Highly recommend.

The Girl With Borrowed Wings by Rinsai Rosetti, 290 pages

Title: The Girl With Borrowed Wings
Author: Rinsai Rossetti
Pages: 290
Date: May 24th
Found: While shelving in teen department
Motive: I actually just grabbed it based on the cover and intentionally avoided reading the back of it so that I could be entirely surprised
Summary: Frenenqer lives in the desert, a heritageless expatriot controlled by her father. When she meets a Free person shaped as a boy with wings, her world is opened significantly.
Verdict: I don't even know how to feel. I had a huge amount of sympathy for Frenenqer most of the way through the book, the shut-down of emotions, the strangled feeling, not knowing how your true self is supposed to behave, but by the end I was just so sick of her. I don't feel like the situation called for the way she treats her friends, or how truly careless and emotionless she is about things. I don't know, it just made me sad. I'm not even sure what was meant to be real or not.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, 229 pages

Title: An Abundance of Katherines
Author: John Green
Pages: 229
Date: May 23rd
Found: While checking in
Motive: I'M ON A ROLL
Summary: Colin is was a child prodigy who enjoys anagrams. He's also been dumped by 19 girls during his 17 years. All 19 happen to be named Katherine. Colin suddenly finds himself on a road trip with his only friend, while he desperately tries to write a Theorem to explain his experiences.
Verdict: Amusing, interesting thoughts throughout, wish I could have appreciated the math portion, but ultimately meh...

Paper Towns by John Green, 305 pages

Title: Paper Towns
Author: John Green
Pages: 305
Date: May 20th
Found: While checking in
Motive: Welp, read two of them, on a roll, let's try this one too
Summary: Quentin is a good kid. A boring, good kid, with good grades and good parents and a good future ahead of him. When magnificent, mysterious Margo climbs in his window one night, he takes the first step on an enigmatic journey to understand her, himself, and humanity.
Verdict: Well. The only way I can really describe this is I absolutely -loved- the underlying psychological considerations, certain quotes, several pages towards the very end - I loved the moral, I guess, but it was a long time coming, and I didn't really enjoy most of the journey. I had to wade through it and it was kind of tiring. So I have mixed feelings.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, 374 pages

Title: Ready Player One
Author: Ernest Cline
Pages: 374
Date: May 17th
Found: Had it on hold for awhile
Motive: Everybody's talking about it so I guess I'll try it
Summary: It's 2044 and the world has taken a downturn. Most of humanity spends its time living in a virtual reality world called the OASIS (basically the ultimate pairing of a super-Facebook and a nearly infinite MMO) with limitless possibilities. The recently deceased creator of this world has hidden his fortune somewhere in the game (basically Willy Wonka), and Wade is one of the millions of users determined to unlock the puzzles and claim the prize.
Verdict: This was shockingly wonderful. I was not prepared for the level of wonderfulness that was this book. The pacing was perfect, the references were awesome, the cleverness of the puzzling and game logic was so good. Thoroughly and surprisingly enjoyed.

The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan, 331 pages

Title: The Tropic of Serpents
Author: Marie Brennan
Pages: 331
Date: May 15th
Found: Had it on hold
Motive: Thoroughly enjoyed the first one
Summary: Isabella is back on the field, in the tropical swamps of Eriga. Will she and her team be able to study the elusive swamp-wyrms? Can she avoid political scandal along the way? Will she survive the awful terrain?
Verdict: Enjoyable. Not nearly as good as the first one, unfortunately, but alright. I felt like this one dragged on more with politics and didn't focus enough on the dragons, but that's me.

Divergent by Veronica Roth, 487 pages

Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Pages: 487
Date: May 13th
Found: On hold for a looong time
Motive: Super hyped up right now, curious
Summary: Beatrice must make a decision that will change her entire world. Which faction does she belong to?
Verdict: Seriously enjoyable as far as pacing and action goes, I couldn't put it down (well, the romance scenes came close) and was seriously on board with it until close to the end when I was kind of slowly feeling sad that it wasn't making sense. The more I thought about it afterwards the less the first part made sense either. The entire basis of the book is pretty shaky. I thoroughly enjoyed my journey, though (well, mostly).
Oh, also, I've heard people loosely compare it to the Hunger Games, but did anybody else catch the Ender's Game vibe? Particularly with the virtual test thingies. Just me? Hm.

Looking for Alaska by John Green, 221 pages

Title: Looking for Alaska

Author: John Green
Pages: 221
Date: May 11th
Found: While checking in
Motive: Read The Fault in Our Stars, decided to see what this was like
Summary: Miles Halter decides to go to boarding school in search of the "Great Perhaps". There, he meets Alaska Young. Nothing is the same.
Verdict: I don't know what I expected this to be like, but it caught me off guard anyway. Kind of uncomfortable to get through most of it, had some really intriguing thought processes and perceptions going on, but ultimately I don't know that I enjoyed it all much. 

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, 208 pages

Title: Pippi Longstocking
Author: Astrid Lindgren
Pages: 208
Date: May 9th
Found: While checking in
Motive: Read during childhood, saw spiffy new illustrations
Summary: Tommy and Annika realize that they live next door to an extraordinary girl. Pippi takes them on many adventures.
Verdict: More enjoyable than I had remembered. Very quirky and ridiculously fun.

Orchards by Holly Thompson, 336 pages

Title: Orchards
Author: Holly Thompson
Pages: 336
Date: May 8th
Found: While shelving
Motive: Already read another of hers, wanted to see if this one was as good
Summary: Kana Goldberg, a half-Japanese half-Jewish teenager, is sent to Japan for the summer after a classmate commits suicide. She is put to work in the orange groves and processes thoughts and feelings about her and her friends.
Verdict: Again, I enjoyed the alternative storytelling technique, as well as the exploration of culture, and inner feelings. The different perspective was really thought-provoking as well.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral, 272 pages

Title: Chopsticks
Author: Jessica Anthony, Rodrigo Corral
Pages: 272
Date: May 8th
Found: Had to send to mending, got it on the way back in
Motive: It looked like candy
Summary: Glory is a piano prodigy who is consumed with practicing and performing shows that her father plans. Frank is the boy next door. What is this madness?
Verdict: I just kind of feel meh about this. The idea is creative and wonderful, the scrapbook-ey mixed media method. The story and character development are severely lacking though. I had absolutely no emotional connection to any of the supposed conflicts. Fascinating twists, but just not quite enough, I think.

Saving Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, 144 pages

Title: Saving Shiloh
Author: Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Pages: 144 pages
Date: May 5th
Found: While checking in
Motive: Just read the first two
Summary: Rumors are swirling that Judd Travers has done something despicable, but Marty's family continues to try to soften his hard exterior with kindness and trust. Are they doing the right thing?
Verdict: Pretty moving finale to the trilogy.

Shiloh Season by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, 128 pages

Title: Shiloh Season
Author: Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Pages: 128
Date: May 5th
Found: While shelving
Motive: Just read Shiloh
Summary: Judd Travers has started drinking again, and things start looking dangerous for Marty's family, especially Shiloh.
Verdict: Pretty good sequel. Nice look at how everybody's a somebody, even the mean ones.

Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, 145 pages

Title: Shiloh
Author: Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Pages: 145
Date: May 5th
Found: in a thrift shop
Motive: Seems like a classic, already own it, decided to go ahead and read it one afternoon
Summary: Marty finds a beagle roaming the fields by his house, but quickly learns that the dog is abused by his owner, Judd Travers. How can Marty protect this dog who has stolen his heart without losing the trust of those around him?
Verdict: I think this was great. Intelligent young protagonist with a huge heart, who makes mistakes along the way but works hard and makes the right decisions in the end. Also, lovable canine companion.

The Language Inside by Holly Thompson, 528 pages

Title: The Language Inside
Author: Holly Thompson
Pages: 528
Date: May 4th
Found: While shelving in teen department
Motive: I actually just grabbed it based on the title and intentionally avoided reading the back of it so that I could be entirely surprised
Summary: Emma's family moves from Japan, the country she considers home, to Massachusetts when her mother becomes sick. Emma deals with many emotions, physical pain, concern for her mother, homesickness and guilt for leaving her friends in a time of need. She expresses herself through poetry.
Verdict: I really liked this. I did not expect it to be in free verse, so it threw me off for awhile, but I quickly became accustomed to the rhythm of the story. I enjoyed the creative storytelling, the inner breakdown of experiences, and the concept of feeling alone in a country without looking out of place.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, 224 pages

Title: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Author: John Boyne
Pages: 224
Date: May 2nd
Found: While shelving
Motive: Heard of it and the movie, wanted to know if it was any good
Summary: 9 year old Bruno's family moves when his father receives a promotion. With nobody to play with him, he becomes more curious about the fence running alongside their house, and the people behind it.
Verdict: I found the attempt at an innocent point of view really compelling, and of course the ending is startling. Upon further thinking it does seem that it could have been handled a little better.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney, 217 pages

Title: Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Author: Jeff Kinney
Pages: 217
Date: May 3rd
Found: While checking in
Motive: Seems to be very popular, became curious
Summary: Greg Heffley starts keeping a journal as he begins middle school for the first time. Much drama and awkward situations await.
Verdict: Meh. I guess it could be useful for introducing -really- reluctant readers to books, but I'm partial to Lewis' thoughts here: 

“A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.”

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh, 384 pages

Title: Hyperbole and a Half
Author: Allie Brosh
Pages: 384
Date: May 2nd
Found: Put on hold
Motive: I've read parts of her blog several times before
Summary: Allie relates a series of dysfunctional stories from her life, including her childhood and her inner mind. 
Verdict: Again, I really enjoy graphic novels as a form of memoir, and really connected to a lot of the feelings in this one. Toward the end I was like, well that's going a little too far, and then I remembered the "hyperbole" part, so I let it go. As a whole this is brilliant.

Harvey by Herve Bouchard, 168 pages

Title: Harvey
Author: Herve Bouchard
Pages: 168
Date: May 2nd
Found: While shelving
Motive: I like graphic novels that are kind of memoirs too
Summary: Harvey, a young boy growing up in Canada, learns that his father has died of a heart attack. He tries to understand what has happened.
Verdict: Really simply told, and moving. I appreciate that it's told from the eyes of a child, and tries to capture deep emotions.

The Rover by Mel Odom, 512 pages

Title: The Rover
Author: Mel Odom
Pages: 512
Date: May 1st
Found: At the library!
Motive: Recommended by Danya
Summary: Edgewick Lamplighter, a halfling third-level librarian of the Vault of All Known Knowledge, is randomly kidnapped by pirates. His skills and cleverness help save the day on more than one occasion. He also writes a book.
Verdict: Started out alright, started becoming disappointing partway through, then basically rounded out to alright again. The most confusing part is where the cover art came from. Really though, the slowly uncovered history that Wick remembers is pretty interesting.

Queen Elizabeth's Daughter by Anne Clinard Barnhill, 371 pages

A review book I read covering the life of Mary Shelton, one of Queen Elizabeth's ward, who was the closest thing to a daughter that the Virgin Queen had. Well written and fascinating.

Branded by the Pink Triangle by Ken Setterington, 155 pages

A great teen book looking at how gays were a subsection that Hitler tried to wipe out during WWII and how they faced persecution after the war as well. It took decades for them to get any acknowledgement for their time and treatment in the concentration camps.

Toothiana Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies by William Joyce, 226 pages

It's interesting to see how they combined these books into the movie Rise of the Guardians.

E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earth's Core by William Joyce, 251 pages

The second in what has turned out to be a really fun and different children's series.

Friday, May 23, 2014

SVU Kiss of the Vampire by Laurie John, 281 pages

The thriller editions of the Sweet Valley books are always extremely campy. Really, a vampire with mind control and nobody thinks of that when bodies keep turning up drained of blood.

SVU Shipboard Wedding by Lauri John, 229 pages

This ending actually had be laughing out loud. It was hilarious. These are just a fun and fast read.

SVU SS Heartbreak by Lauri John, 230 pages

Well, nobody's dead yet.

SVU: College Cruise by Laurie John, 230 pages

Book 12 of the University series. No one should be friends with or date Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, you will not be safe or happy.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Carter Finally Gets It, by Brent Crawford, 300 pages

Cari recommended this to me as I was becoming familiar with The Teen Department. It's pretty funny, I'll admit there was a time or two I laughed out loud. There were some parts I didn't particularly care for, however: obsession over whether a girl is fat or not, for instance, and whether she's "do-able." But, it's written from the perspective of a 14 year old adolescent boy, and I can see it's appeal to teens. In fact, I started to tell my youngest son about it and he immediately replied, "I've already read it!"

Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter, 320 pages

This is a memoir of the author's life as a young girl growing up in the foster care system. I'm always interested in reading these kinds of stories, as I was a "foster parent" to one of my little brothers many years ago. Child abuse is a nightmare, and usually so is "the system" which struggles to place these kids in healthier homes (often times they end up in even worse places, unfortunately.)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Moranthology (285 pages).

by Caitlin Moran.

An anthology of her essays, blogs, rants, whatevs. Funny feminist essays, including a great article about Lady GaGa.

The Source of Magic by Piers Anthony, 326 pages

It's been a good decade since I've read the Xanth books. This is the second one, and I'd forgotten how good they are, puns included.

The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle by Catherine Webb, 311 pages

I came across this book in the teen department. It was a fun mystery, very unusual.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wipeout of the Wirelss Weenies and other Warped and Creepy Tales by David Lubar, 174 pages

Whenever a new David Lubar book comes into my house it's a struggle between my daughters and myself over who gets to read it first. If someone puts the book down unguarded, it can very easily disappear, only to be found in someone else's hot, little hands. His short stories are always funny, creepy and twisted, like my family.

Dandy Gilver and the Proper Treatment of Bloodstains by Catriona McPherson, 293 pages

I really like these mysteries. They're set in the 1920s in Scotland, and are a great view of the upperclass from a slightly askew viewpoint. I had no idea of where this one was going up until the very end, which is always better than knowing the killer from page one.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Ma, Now I'm Goin Up in the World by Martha Long, 445 pages

These books ALWAYS have me going "crapity crap crap" at the end because I just want Martha to get a happy ending but somehow it always gets pulled away from her. These are heartbreaking reads that have me eagerly turning each page. A great memoir series.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Simon & Kirby Horror by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby, 319 pages

This is a collection of the early horror comics put out by Simon & Kirby. These comics were brought down by the Senate hearings in the 1950s that resulted in the comics association censoring themselves. A great collection and a must read for fans of early comic books, especially the horror ones.

SVU He's Watching You by Laurie John, 280 pages

Another super thriller from Sweet Valley University. It's not safe to hang out with Jessica or Elizabeth.

The Vanishing by Wendy Webb, 290 pages

I came across this pulling books for people and thought it looked good. Kind of a different twist on the haunted house story.

Ma, it's a cold aul night an I'm lookin for a bed by Martha Long, 349 pages

This is the third book in this completely heartbreaking series. Martha is sixteen and sets out from the convent to make her way in the world. But she is soon back on the streets trying to make her way, determined to be somebody some day. I love these books, they're a fascinating look at a subsection of society that often gets overlooked. I so want to bring Martha home, give her a warm bath, soft bed, a hot meal, and most of all, love.

Ma, he sold me for a few cigarettes: A Memoir of Dublin in the 1950s, by Martha Long, 479 pages

I began reading this in April for Child Abuse Awareness Month and finished it on Mother's Day. It's horrific how poverty, mental illness, and society in general perpetuate child abuse and neglect. I am definitely going to continue reading the author's line of "Ma" books.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Art of Loving, by Erich Fromm, 123 pages plus 34 bonus pages

I believe this book is as relevant in 2014 as it must have been in 1956, when it was originally published. I read the fiftieth anniversary edition and quite enjoyed the bonus pages at the end of the book. One of my favorite quotes is, "Love is not primarily a relationship to a specific person. It is an attitude, an orientation of character, which determines the relatedness of a person to the world as a whole, not toward one 'object' of love." I am absolutely intrigued by the author and plan to read many more of his eclectic works.