Thursday, April 30, 2009

Paper Towns

John Green had me at "This Machine Kills Fascists", and then almost lost me with a Woody Guthrie insult. And then he had me again with a Billy Bragg Mermain Avenue reference, and he kept me through to the end.

Quentin Jacobsen has lived next door to Margot Roth Spiegelman for a long time, and he has loved her from afar for an equally long time. When she invites him on an all-night revenge caper around Orlando, he is drawn into a crazy and risky adventure that includes dead fish, spray paint and Sea World. When Margot disappears the next morning, Quentin realizes that the adventure is only beginning. As Quentin and his quirky friends follow the bizarre and complicated series of clues that Margot has left behind, he worries about her mysterious disappearance. Margot has run away before, but she is just so awesome, so popular, so ...Margot...that everyone assumes that she is pulling some sort of amazing prank before graduation. Is this one of Margot's dramatic runaways, or are the clues she left for Quentin trying to tell him something more?

In his fabulous new novel, Green combines equal parts of mystery, adventure, comedy, and drama for an end-of-senior-year road trip that is chock-full of obscure cultural references. Highly recommended!

I listened to it -- 8 hours.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Labor of Love

While I don't think this is her best work, I enjoyed Rachel Hawthorne's teen romance "Labor of Love" which was about teenagers helping rebuild houses in New Orleans post hurricanes. In the Author's Note at the back, Rachel explains that she got the idea for the novel while attening the ALA conference in June 2006, when she was out to dinner and observed a table of teenagers who were in town to volunteer. The main shortcomings of this book were that the rebuilding efforts did not seem believable or well researched compared to other similar books I have read (Dana Reinhardt's "How to Build a House" for example) and that the plot replied on a psychic to help the characters address their feelings, and that is a personal annoyance for me as a reader, especially when the psychic is not later debunked, etc.
298 pages.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Fiction being my drug of choice when I need an escape, I have devoured several titles this week.

So Inn Love by Catherine Clark-- predictable teen romance about kids spending their summer jobs at a Maine resort. 327 pages

The Finishing Touches by Hester Browne
London finishing school on verge of bankruptcy is revived by adopted daughter of founding family using modern approach to refined and elite life skills. This is the second book I've read this year that addresses the practical topics that well rounded girls should be taught. The first was "Everything Nice"
416 pages

Peeled by Joan Bauer - GREAT teen audiobook. 5.5 hours

And some nonfiction parenting stuff:

Wonderplay from the 92nd St. Y Parenting Center 118 pages
First Foods by Bryan Vartabedian 231 pages

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Birthday roundup

65 total books
90 hours of audiobook listening
And 15170 Total pages

Not really that much compared to previous years, but I had a baby, so my reading time declined as well as my ability to remember what I have been reading. I've left more books unfinished this year than at any other time in my life, and it seems like I only blogged about them if I abandoned them on purpose because they made me mad, not if I just got distracted and returned them to the library when they were overdue.

I look forward to another great year of reading and I'm going to start right now!!
What better way to spend my birthday than with a good book (and my wonderful spouse, who is reading as well. Of course, for Dan to total what he read in the last year, just look at what has been posted on slashdot, engadget, etc. and then add it up because he has read it all!)

natural born awakening

I listened to SEP's Natural Born Charmer, which I had read before. It was narrated by the late great Anna Fields. 12 hours.

I read The Awakening by Kate Chopin for my book group. People at the discussion were very mixed/confused/conflicted by what they thought about it, what they were supposed to think about it, and whether or not they found Edna inspiring or disgusting. I read most of it while holding the baby, which made it hard and easy for my to sympathize with a woman who didn't want to be defined by her children and family. 190 pages.

Dan and I read aloud to Kivrin for 30 minutes at a booth for National Library Week yesterday, but it was all board books which I traditionally have not counted here.

I feel like I have read more things lately, but I can't seem to find any evidence of them lying around the house so this will be my last post for this year.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Snowed In

No, I don't wish for more snow. Or any snow. But Rachel Hawthorne's Snowed In was a nice little escape during this week's cold snap. Ashleigh and her recently divorced mother move to a small island off the coast of Michigan to run a bed and breakfast. The guest rooms are being redecorated over the off-season and the tourists are all visiting some place warmer, like the Texas city that Ashleigh just left behind. Coming from a huge high school with over a thousand kids in her class, she is very worried about enrolling in a school where the junior class has only 6 students. Also, dating might be a big problem. Ashleigh doesn't believe in having a boyfriend, and likes to just date a guy a couple of times before moving on. What will she do with such a limited selection? The first few guys she meets are all very cute, but all of the girls seem to have steady boyfriends. What is a girl to do when she is new in town and the snow is falling?
Rachel Hawthorne is the best teen romance writer I've ever read. Funny and light-hearted stories with occasional laugh out loud dialogue. She creates characters that I would want to hang out with and get to know better, and puts them in situations that are different from my own life, but still believable. Her novels are first-rate fun!

261 pages.