Saturday, May 31, 2014

Books Read in May 2014

It was a great reading month. I did pretty well with my reading plan getting in nonfiction, western, mystery, graphic novel, middle grade, picture book, teen, fantasy, women's fiction, paranormal, literary, and romance. So many good reads.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Reading Plan - Middle Grade Fiction - Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life by P.J. Hoover

Following my reading it plan, I was overdue for a middle grade novel, so I was delighted to have Tut turn up in the mail. Hoover seems to have found her niche in the genre popularized by Rick Riordan of blending mythology, adventure, and contemporary middle school angst. Can't  wait to booktalk this to kids.

Fourteen-year-old King Tut is assassinated in his tomb by his uncle and advisor, General Horemheb a devotee of the Cult of Set, but he gives as well as he gets and slays Horemheb at the same time. But, that is not the end, it is only the beginning as the gods step in and give them both immortal hearts. Flash forward three thousand years and Tut, forever fourteen, is an eighth grader in Washington D.C. and Horemheb is still not done with him and the Cult of Set is growing ever more dangerous.

I remember how passionate I was about mythology starting in third grade so I figure kids, that young, who love mythology will also go for it. It's main audience, though, is probably those in 5th - 7th grade who will appreciate the humor and enjoy attaching obscure facts found in the story to what they  already know about ancient Egypt and contemporary Washington D.C.  Tut's family and friends are also a delight.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Reading Plan - Nonfiction. Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of the Creative Mind

Keeping with my reading plan I was overdue for some nonfiction. I've been a big fan of Twitter since 2008 so I decided to give Biz Stone's memoir/essays a go. I am glad I did.

Great memoir and inspirational essay. Biz is the kind of person I like to hang out with. His risk taking, career-wise, is a familiar story and I love, love, love, how he is trying to make the world a better place. I have followed my passions throughout life, making some decisions that definitely didn't make for a plump pocketbook but I've not been bored. Like Biz and his wife, Rick and I have taken off across country on the chance a new job would work out and in addition to that we also rented a place sight unseen that didn't work out as well as hoped.  We also left lucrative jobs to be where we wanted to be and to do what we wanted to do. I would love to know what Biz's Meyers-Briggs letters are.

I'm definitely a reluctant reader when it comes to nonfiction but I found this thoroughly enjoyable because of Biz's exuberant way of living his life.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Book of the Week - Backlands by Michael McGarrity

Michael McGarrity
Dutton 507p. $28.95 2014

This sequel to Hard Country can be read on its own but makes a lot more sense if one has started at the beginning of the Kerney family presence in New Mexico. Backlands starts after CJ Kerney has been killed in the Great War. Emma’s health is failing and she takes eight-year-old Matt to the ranch where he finally becomes acquainted with his irascible father, Patrick. This is really Matt’s story as he shoulders responsibilities beyond his years, follows the path Emma had wanted for him, and does make it to college. New Mexico in the first half of the 20th century is the main “character” of this saga with accurate descriptions of the “land of enchantment” and her people at their best and at their worst. Matt is a smart strong character who becomes real through his triumphs and disasters. McGarrity knows New Mexico and it shows with his authentic descriptions from transcendent beauty to parched ugliness.  The Roaring 20s, the dust bowl years, the Great Depression, and the years of World War II are conveyed with truth. On an intimate level, Matt experiences extraordinary love and loss. I was particularly struck by changes in fortune faced by the Kerneys that so echoed what was happening to my own antecedents in those same years several miles to the north. The precariousness of ranch life is eloquently detailed in a way that makes the reader care. Backlands is an appreciation of New Mexico, a love story about the land and people, detailing the sordid as well as the splendid. I can’t imaging any library in the American West not wanting to have both Hard Country and Backlands in their collections. I completely concur with the reviewers who have recommended it as a readalke to readers of The Son by Philipp Meyer and Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry.

May's far

Sunday, May 11, 2014

On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee

Beautiful writing is joined with a well developed dystopian future world in which there are three distinct strata of society; charter villages for the elite, settlements where laborers produce the food and goods used by the elite, and the open counties, dangerous lawless open country where it is everyone for herself in this literary science fiction novel. Fan, a feisty heroine, is a tank diver, taking care of the perfect fish raised in B-Mor until she leaves to hunt for her lover who was taken away. Out in the open counties Fan encounters a variety of dangerous situations learns the tragic and violent pasts of those she runs into but, in the tradition of literary fiction, the story is not the strong suit. I can recommend it to folks who like literary fiction and aren't afraid of some science fiction trappings. I'ld recommend this to readers who like Haruki Murakami or Peter Heller's The Dog Stars.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

OMG! I get to meet Jo Walton!

     ALA the annual meeting of the American Library Association is a little more than a month away. I'm excited because I'll be accepting the Margaret E. Monroe Library Adult Services Award at the RUSA Achievement Awards Event on Sunday of the conference. I'll also be seeing my dear libraryland friends, the librarians, editors, publishers, and authors who mean the world to me.

   I'm planning my reading for ALA because I am such a fan girl and I always like to be prepared. When I meet the authors I am in such awe of, I want to have recently read their books.

     I'm going to a dinner where the guests of honor include Deborah Coonts, Terry Goodkind, Alan Gratz, Rachel Howzell Hall, P.J. Hoover, Douglas Preston, Hank Phillippi Ryan, V. E. Schwab, Wen Spencer, and Jo Walton.

     Some of these authors are new to me, some I've enjoyed in the past, and OMG! I get to meet Jo Walton! I loved Nancy Pearl's interview of Jo but most of all I loved her book 
Among Others, published by Tor Books (ISBN:9780765321534) in 2011. 

In 1979, fifteen-year-old Mor, grieving the death of her twin and her own loss of mobility due to a shattered leg and hip is sent to a girls' boarding school.  She finds refuge in the science fiction and fantasy novels she loves and spends as much time as she can in the school library and public library. Meanwhile she tries to see fairies, who do not seem present in England, a big difference from where she lived in Wales. 

     The beauty in this book lies in Mor's connection to books and through her love of books, relationships with the school librarian, her newly met father, and Wim, an attractive "bad boy" from the library SF club. I probably love this so much because she is so much me when I was a young teen and even though this story, told in diary format, is set in 1979-80, when the protagonist is 15 and I was 25, we were reading the same books at the same time and often, even coming to the same conclusions about them. This book is well deserving of all the accolades and awards it won.

     As a procrastiread, a book so good I didn't want it to end, I was able to stretch it out over three days. It is meant to be savored.

    Jo Walton is not the only author I'm excited about in this lineup. I'll be writing about the ones I've read soon, and after I have read the ones new to me, I'll be sharing them with you.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Read in May

I'm hoping I will be able to "sell" the very awesome Revolution by Deborah Wiles to someone at Bistro Teen Book Club on Tuesday at Delta Library. It is an extraordinary novel with lots photographs and song lyrics at the beginning of sections that really make 1965 come alive. It is complex, meaningful, and important but is going to be a stretch for many readers the ages of the protagonists and may be very disturbing to younger readers with sophisticated skills who will by horrified by the violence surrounding the Freedom Summer in 1965 Mississippi. I think teens who try it will love it but it is being marketed to grades 3-7. 

Caged Warrior by Alan Lawrence Sitomer is for the opposite end of YA. Powerful and hard hitting, this grim and gritty story of high school sophomore who supports his family with earnings from fighting mixed martial arts cage matches pulls no punches in looking at some of the ugliness in the world. This page turner will pull in the toughest of reluctant readers.

Book of the Week - The Axe Factor by Colin Cotterill

The Axe Factor
Cotterill, Colin
Minotaur 2014

Jimm Juree, a Thai crime journalist who has followed her family  to a small seaside village after her perhaps slightly demented mother bought a resort there finds mysteries far from the big city. This, the third novel detailing her adventures,
is the first one I’ve read and I thoroughly enjoyed it It is fully of quirky interesting characters. She is sent to do a story on a very attractive British ex-pat novelist living nearby where she is warned off by his Burmese housekeeper. He claims to divorcing his young wife but had she actually left him? After all, a man who flings axes at watermelons for research on his mysteries could be hiding something. The village’s lone doctor is also missing. Things really start heating up when a threat is attached to Jimm’s front door with a hand axe.

I will be looking for more enjoyable jaunts in this series. The setting in Thailand is intriguing and fresh and Jimm’s bread and butter job of translating signs into English exposes some hilarious mistranslations done by others. Her relationship with family members including the family dogs are also a treat.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

3 for 3

So far this month three books in three days. Nice to be back at my traditional pace even if only for a short while. The Axe Factor is my next featured Book of the Week. 

I've submitted my reviews of Better Homes and Hauntings, a delightfully humorous paranormal romance and A Woman of Fortune,  a "lifestyles of glitz and the rich" Christian romance to Booklist so watch for them there.

You can see what I'm reading and what I've read lately on Riffle.  Please follow me there.