Sunday, June 28, 2009

finger licking good

Have you read the latest installment in the Stephanie Plum series yet?

In the opening pages, Stephanie's friend and coworker Lula witnesses a grisly decapitation. The killers are on the loose, and trying to hunt Lula down. To save her own skin, Lula decides to solve the murder herself and she enters a barbecue contest to get closer to the murder victim's associates. Of course, Stephanie, her Grandma Mazur, and Connie from the bail bonds office are drawn into Lula's scheme to create an award winning barbeque sauce.

At the same time, Ranger has hire Stephanie to snoop around his security business. A series of break-ins at the homes of residential clients appear to be an inside job and while Ranger doesn't want to suspect one of his men, he is losing clients and street cred as more burglaries occur.

Joe Morelli is irritated to see Stephanie wearing black Rangeman uniforms, even though Joe and Stephanie are taking a break in their relationship after an argument about peanut butter.

The romantic tension between Stephanie and Joe and Stephanie and Ranger in the last few Janet Evanovich's novels has really been getting on my nerves. I felt like she was stringing them both along and I was ready for her to settle down with someone already. Evanovich really got the balance right in this book though -- Stephanie is still attracted to both guys, but by taking some time to be single, sort of, Stephanie's ongoing relationships with two men didn't bother me nearly as much. Always bumbling, chaotic and hilarious, Stephanie Plum is the best version of herself in this newest book in the series. I thoroughly enjoyed her newest adventure and I hope that you will too!

Finger Lickin Fifteen by Janet Evanovich

308 pages

Thursday, June 25, 2009

teen fiction

30 guys in 30 days by Micol Ostow

Claudia is starting college as a single girl, after several years of dating her first and only boyfriend. After some spectacular screw-ups, she realizes that she doesn't know how to talk to guys, and especially doesn't know how to flirt! Her roommate Charlie challenges her to talk to 30 guys in 30 days as target practice to overcome her lack of experience and get comfortable talking to boys again.

While Claudia's nervousness around guys seems believeable, her easy access to alcohol as a college freshman seemed less realistic. This fun romantic comedyfeatures a great feminist older sister role model (via email at least), who is balanced out by Claudia's kind and fun-loving beauty-pagent-winning sorority-rushing roommate.

282 pages.

Carpe Diem by Autumn Cornwell
Vassar Spore is a 16 year old girl who has her whole life planned out, right up to her Ph. D. and Pulitzer Prize. Her father is a time management consultant and her mother used to be a life coach but has been devoted to helping Vassar plan her life for the last 15+ years. Vassar was even named after the pretigious college, in the hopes that such a name would help secure her acceptance to the ivy league school, in addition to her years of planning and academic acheivements.

Her plans change when a mysterious package arrives from her equally mysterious Grandma Gert, and somehow her parents are blackmailed into sending Vassar on a summer backpacking trip through Southeast Asia. As they journey from Malaysia to Cambodia to Laos, Vassar is faced with many challenges to her planned and organized life -- including a cute Malaysian cowboy bodyguard, and the truth behind the family secret that her Grandma used to make Vassar go on the trip in the first place.

The story is told by Vassar herself, who is also writing a thinly-veiled version of the events as a novel to fulfill an AP English requirement over the summer. She is also emailing chapters back home to her friends, who send back hilarious comments critiquing the actions and decision of her "characters." I recommend this as an all-around delightful book for a teen summer adventure with some romance, college goals and family issues thrown in for good measure!

I listened to the audiobook. 9 hours.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Lit Report

While this novel doesn't really seem like it is written for teens, and the narrator, Julia, is WAY too smart for her supposed age of a senior in high school, there were still parts I enjoyed quite a bit. Julia's friend Ruth gets pregnant, but since Ruth's parents are very strict conservative Christians (her dad is known as Pastor Pete around town) Julia helps Ruth hide her pregnancy and eventually delivers her baby. The ties to literature are mainly at the beginning and the end -- while Julia is establishing her voice as narrator and beginning the book, and then tying up her loose ends at the end of the story -- but she seems to worship Austen and Vonnegut, so it's not all bad. I'm not reviewing this for the library site because I don't know that teens would like it very much.
The Lit Report by Sarah N. Harvey
197 pages.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

the new audiobook test

If I am not interested after the first CD, it gets returned.

I tried John Green's "Looking for Alaska" but all of his books sound the same and I just listened to Paper Towns -- both are about boys questing for mysteriously unattainable cool girls. I listened to about 3 hours.

Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs - probably a lovely story, but with three women's viewpoints on the first two CDS, I can't keep their stories straight with the scattered listening time available to me. I got over an hour in.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Annotated Wizard of Oz

This centennial edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum with pictures by W. W. Denslow and with an introduction and notes by Michael Patrick Hearn is worth reading. Whether you have read the story before, viewed the popular 1939 MGM movie version, or simply because you hear references to Oz and wonder what all the fuss is about.
The introduction is lengthy, about 100 pages, but well illustrated with photos, line drawings and reproductions of books and artwork from Baum's life and time. Placing Baum both within a historical context (he wrote the book in 1899) and a literary context (the children's fantasy Alice in Wonderland had been popular since 1865), the biographical essay provides details about the variety of Baum's jobs before writing the Oz books, and the partnership with W. W. Denslow, the original illustrator of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
What a treat to read the original text and illustrations together! I was surprised by how young Dorothy looks, how large the lion looms over her, and how friendly the Winged Monkeys' smile at everyone. If you can only picture the Judy Garland movie when you think of the Wizard of Oz story, these illustrations will certainly expand your imagination!
The annotations of the original text are referenced using small numbered notes in the margins. Readers who prefer to enjoy the original text and illustrations may do so easily, but those who are intrigued by the explanations, expansions and discussions of various topics will be drawn into the interspersed annotation pages as they read. Not only did I read all of the annotations for myself, I read some of them out loud to friends and family. For example, did you know that "According to the 1902 musical extravaganza of The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy lives near Topeka"?

Treat yourself and give the Wonderful Wizard of Oz a close reading with help from the special edition The Annotated Wizard of Oz!

I read 450 pages.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Summer Blowout

A fun summer ready by Must Love Dogs author Claire Cook, Summer Blowout is about a beautician with an eccentric family business who is interested in an entrepeneur she meets at the neighboring table a college fair. Lovely audiobook, entertaining, not too serious. Too much about a dog that she steals from a wedding where she is doing the bridal party make up, but I dealt with it. 6 hours