Wednesday, September 23, 2009


While I've been enjoying these books (mostly), for some reason I'm just not getting through them as quickly as usual. I don't know why, because they are great books (mostly). I just fall asleep before I can get through more than a page or two. Secondly, I've been working on this post for a whole week, adding a few sentences at a time, never able to finish. My life may be too full.

Simpsons Comics A Go-Go, by Matt Groening; art direction by Bill Morrison. I keep having to buy replacements for these, so I looked to see why they are so well-loved (and abused). The bindings are quite terrible, which explains the rapid falling apart. Note to self: permabound? regular hardcover?
I can also see the appeal of this book to both comic book fans and Simpsons fans-- the book is actually five short stories, which are episode-like in their self-contained-ness. The dialogue lines are all in character and quite natural for each of the characters. The stories aren't terribly exciting, but it doesn't look like they are re-dos of actual episodes, either (at least, not any I've seen).

If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name: News from Small-Town Alaska, by Heather Lende. ARC--ancient. I looked this town up on a map, and I actually applied to several libraries in the vicinity (by vicinity, I mean 2-hour travel radius). I really loved this book, which surprised me, because it was really sad. The stories mostly revolve around a death and the obituary the author wrote for that person, but they are surprisingly upbeat and positive. I'm not sure what the author was going for-- it seemed like she was aiming for a change-you-life-stop-and-smell-the-roses-love-your-children type of book, but, while I loved it, I can't say it made that sort of lasting impression on me. I highly recommend it, however.

North of Beautiful, by Justina Chen Headley. ARC-- Denver. Something about this book, maybe one of the front-cover blurbs, put me off this book, but I decided to finally give it a try. I loved it! What a lovely book. I could really identify with the main character; she's so real and so well voiced that she really drew my emotions. The writing was lovely, artistic, really capturing both the settings and the emotions. This is another book taking place in Eastern Washington, and I liked the small-town home.
There wasn't really any one thing that stood out for me so much, but for some reason, my emotions were so connected to the character and her journey. This is the first book I've read since March that I've forced onto a colleague--frequently I recommend the books I read, but I took this ARC and put it into the hands of a friend(I did demand it back when she's done, to be installed into my permanent collection). Buy it! Read it!

Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride,
Mercy Watson Fights Crime,
Mercy Watson: Princess in Disguise,
Mercy Watson Thinks Like a Pig, and
Mercy Watson: Something Wonky This Way Comes
, by Kate DiCamillo; illustrated by Chris Van Dusen. These are so fun! I love them. They make me happy. I love that the sentences are all short, but not uniformly so. Their shortness makes the simple, keeps the ideas concise and wrapped up. The vocabulary, while accessible to a lower-grade student, takes surprising turns, pulling 50 cent words out of seemingly no where. I notice them, because they are like little bites of cake, savory and surprising in a text otherwise composed of words not more than five letters. They flow, however, and they won't be overly challenging to young listeners. Challenging, maybe, but that's how it ought to be; the meanings are frequently clear from context or illustrations. Love love love!

Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse, by Kaleb Nation. ARC-- Denver (I think, though it could have been Chicago). I struggled through to page 77, but I had an attachment disorder: I just couldn't bring myself to care about the characters in this book. It is an obvious Harry Potter copy: main character, a young boy, lives unwanted in a terrible hilarious family led by a petty buffoon of a man. The boy has hints that the world is more than it seems and he is a part of that. News flash: someone already wrote that story. Come up with something more original.
The writing isn't bad, so I certainly recommend giving it a go for your library if you have a pack of kids who haven't moved on from the wee Potter, or if you've got younger kids who aren't ready for the savage anger of the last few Rowling books, but want the magical stuff anyway.

Intertwined, by Gena Showalter. This, in case you've been living under a rock, is the first of Harlequin's new imprint directed at YAs, called, ingeniously, HarlequinTeen. And wow, was that ever crap. First of all, it is in many ways like every other teen-vampire-romance-action book that has been popular lately. If kids want to read basically the same book over and over again, fine, but it makes me sad.
I was frequently frustrated because this book, while drawing on fantastical elements, completely ignores the traditions and established rules of the that world, yet mostly doesn't explain. Vampires are ok in the sun, and we aren't going to talk about it! By the way, that whole stake through the heart thing? Bogus, because vampire skin is invulnerable! Ha! I really hate authors who ignore the fantasy canon.
Secondly, apparently the author had an idea of what a "Harlequin" book sounds like, and she maintained that standard in writing it. It was disgusting, twee and poorly written, preparing future readers for grown-up Harlequins. Although the real main character in this book is a dude, this book is obviously for girls. And boy are those girls going to be disappointed by their first kisses after reading this. Fortunately, even though it's a Harlequin, the book sticks mostly to kissing. There is a sex-without-sex scene on pages 286-287, though, if you're worried about your impressionable children. It is thinly-veiled soft-core porn, hidden behind vampire lunch and sex-role reversal.
I bought it for my library because 1) Harlequin is a big name and their new line generated some interest, and 2) it's a vampire boy-girl book, so it'll go to my teens. However, there is nothing about this book that raises it above every other crappy vampire book, and quite a few things that are worse than every other book. This is perhaps the worst book I've read in quite some time, actually. And of course there will be a sequel. It makes me want to weep, and then die.

1 comment:

Ms. Yingling said...

Hard for me to buy anything with Harlequin in the imprint, and I am really annoyed by comic books right now! My Garfield and Far Side books will go out four times each day. Not sure children are reading the few words that are in them. If they fall apart, this may not be a bad thing!