Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I just finished Being, by Kevin Brooks. This was an interesting book in that it was a fast-read, a somewhat thriller and somewhat of a sci. fi. book. It's about 16-year-old Robert Smith, who goes in to see the doctor for a routine scope exam but what the doctors find is anything but normal. It is revealed that Robert has filaments, moving metal parts and plastic casings inside of him. Robert wakes up during the point in the exam when the doctors find all this stuff. He also overhears that they want to do further experiments with him to find out just what type of being he is. He also surmises that all the doctors in the room aren't doctors at all but perhaps some men he can't trust that work for the government or a private group. Robert panics and decides to get out of there as fast as he can. To do so, he has to take one of the doctors hostage. This spins out of control for Robert as he needs to steal cars and dodge the doctors that want to explore him.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Bastard Out of Carolina

Wow, Bastard Out of Carolina is an intense book! Dorothy Allison wrote a gripping story of a young girl who is sexually and physically abused by her step-father. Set in South Carolina, this book depicts a family that knows poverty but still tends to strong family ties. I will tell you that this is a chilling book and very realistic. You won't know what happens at the end until the very last page. BTW, Bastard Out of Carolina was made into a movie.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Two Human Rights Related Books

I read Sold by Patricia McCormick and A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. Ms. Onsrud read Sold and posted about it a while back so I'll refer you to that post. I really liked this book although it was a bit hard to take because of the treatment of the girls.

Long Way Gone was also excellent. It is a story of Ishmael, a 13-year-old from Sierra Leone who is forced into becoming a boy soldier for the government. (I had always thought it was only the rebels that pressed boys into service!) This is a memoir so it is Ishmael's remembrance of what happened to him between the ages of 13-18. It's heart breaking and also raw. (He does state in the book that he has a photographic memory so it would seem that the events he describes are pretty accurate.)

The book begins in Ishmael's village in Sierra Leone and takes the reader through the horrific tragedy of civil war. It ends in another country but in between, Ishmael has to come to terms with feelings of guilt and the psychological flash-backs that war can incur.

I'm thinking that this would be an excellent Cafe Library book.
BTW, this is a 2008-2009 Battle of the Books book.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Speaking of books that have been made into movies...

I read Girl With a Pearl Earring recently, by Tracy Chevalier, and really enjoyed it. I wanted to read it because I had seen and loved the movie with Colin Firth (yum!) and Scarlett Johannson.

The book is about a middle class Dutch girl in the late 1600s who has to take a job as a maid because her family has fallen on hard times. She is hired to clean the studio of the famous painter Vermeer, and they share a certain fascination for one another. It's sort of a coming of age story as she learns what is important to her as well as what is possible for her in the society she lives in.

I really enjoyed getting more insight into the main character, which was possible because the whole story is told from her point of view. Naturally, many aspects of the story were developed in more detail than in the movie; however, it was gratifying to know that the movie had remained true to the spirit of the book. Both versions of the story give insight into gender and class restrictions, while also delving into ideas about art and religion. Fascinating and melancholy.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Memoirs of a Geisha

I finally read Memoirs of a Geisha by Aurthur Golden this summer. I've had the book since the movie came out several years ago and have been wanting to read it ever since. If you have seen the movie and loved it, I recommend reading the book. The book pulls you in even more than the movie as you follow the life of Chiyo (Sayuri) from her poor childhood to her life in the okiya becoming a geisha. Even though I know very little about Japanese culture, Golden places enough history into the novel to give you a sense of what was happening in their lives.

If you want a book to get lost in, this tome is for you and there is still time to read it before school starts!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Julie Anne Peters

I read two books by Julie Anne Peters: grl2grl and Keeping you a secret.
grl2grl is a collection of short stories about coming out, first time adventures, a transgender teen longing for a sense of self, a girl whose abusive father has turned her to stone, and much more. This book is filled with teens making their way through relationships and the search for identity. Of the two Peters's books, I liked this one better. It seemed more true-to-life.

Keeping You a Secret is one young woman's coming out and what that means in her life. As she begins a very tough last semester of high school, Holland finds herself trying to sort out her future and intrigued by a transfer student who wants to start a lesbigay club at school.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Three Bags Full

I just finished reading Leonie Swann's Three Bags Full. It was a very different murder mystery where a flock of sheep try to solve their shepherd's murder. The cast of sheep characters number 19; all with distinctive personalities. Othello the "bad boy" black ram; Mopple the Whale, a Merino who eats a whole lot and remembers everything, Miss Maple, the cleverest sheep in the flock, maybe in the whole world who is the lead detective in this mystery.

I had a hard time trying to figure out this book at first but when I got rolling, I didn't want to put it down. There are a few LOL moments...I LOVE to LOL.

The book received lots of starred reviews. I encourage you to check it out.