Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie

wow. i mean, wow. it doesn't happen very often that a book blows me away like this, but when it does, words barely suffice. i'd been waiting for this book to come in for a while. i had read the reviews and was eager to get it for the collection. as soon as it had been processed i eagerly snapped it up despite the fact that i had about 15 other books at home that i was thinking about reading. and am i glad i did. i read alexie's book in about 4 hours, it was so good i just couldn't put it down. this is a memoir in the way of 'angela's ashes', 'a million little pieces', or 'night'. alexie writes into the story of 14 year old arnold spirit jr. experiences and memories of his own life growing up disabled, poor, and with alcoholic parents on the spokane indian reservation in washington. junior, who was born with hydrocephalus is loved and protected by his family and his best friend rowdy on the reservation, but that isn't enough to help a nerdy looking kid from being a constant target for bullies. so after an incident involving a repentant geography teacher, a text book and a broken nose, junior decides that if he ever wants something more for his life he's going to need to get off the reservation, and the way to do that when you're 14 is to attend the high school in the white town 22 miles away. at reardon junior works to break down the racist barriers that exist and must stand up to the ostracization at home that comes from people's perception that he has turned his back on his tribe. alexie tells the story with such power that the reader can't help but be drawn into junior's life and be taught sympathy. the absolutely true diary is an absolutely brilliant book, and as neil gaiman said, there is no doubt that 'in year or so it'll both be winning awards and being banned.' well, it's already been nominated for the national book award and is number 3 on the new york times bestseller list for children, so i'd say it's well on it's way to fulfilling that prophecy.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo - Greg Leitch Smith

i chose this book for two reasons. one much more important than the other. the first was because there were ninjas in the title. the second was because there were piranhas in the title. the ninjas were more important. i really like ninjas. this book has nothing to do with ninjas. not really. and the piranhas are peripheral. i did know that before i started reading though. i'm not completely foolish. i did read the back. what this book is about is a trio of middle school students who attend the prestigious peshtigo prep. there is elias who must deal with the high expectations of his genius family, shohei, whose adoptive family has decided to immerse him in the culture of his ancestors, and honoria, whose science fair experiment involves teaching piranhas to become vegetarians. in a school that has a reputation they find that finding the truth isn't always easy, even when it's in the name of science.

The King of Attolia - Megan Whalen Turner

megan whalen turner won the newbery in 1997 for her book 'the thief'. i don't remember why i picked that one up, but it blew my socks off. i told j. this and she expressed shock that a newbery book could blow anybody's socks off. has the newbery gained a reputation for dullness? perhaps, but turner's book was anything but dull.

set in a made up realm, designed to appear archaic, but to possess some of the trappings of a much more modern society (there are pocket watches), turner's settings have been largely influenced by ancient greece. the the main character of the series ('the king of attolia' is the third book) is eugenides, the thief of eddis. trained to be a thief from his youngest days, eugenides is used to getting anything he wants. he's not a thief in the sense that he is an outlaw though. the thief of eddis is a high ranking position in the eddisian court and reports to the monarch. in his role of thief eugenides found himself caught up in all sorts of political intrigue which required him to use all of his skills as a thief just to keep himself alive. he has been imprisoned and tortured, and the third book finds him married to the queen of attolia and learning to act, not as a thief, but as a king.

it is a hard road for eugenides as attolia and eddis were previously at war, and it was eugenides scheming marriage to attolia's queen that saved eddis. eugenides finds he must work hard to prove himself capable and worthy of the respect of the men in his command. if you enjoy historical fiction peppered with more than a little action, than turner's books just might be your thing.

Geography Club - Brent Hartinger

did i mention that i'm catching up on posting about books that i read a while ago? like a really long while ago. in the summer long while ago. which means i may not be as fresh about what they were about. but i do remember if i liked them or not. truth be told, i like most of the books i post about. i mean, if i didn't like them i wouldn't finish them, right?

anyway, 'geography club' is about high school sophomore russell. russell just happens to be gay, and he just happens to attend high school in a small conservative american town. so russell figures that the closet is the safest place for him to be. but it would seem to me that closets are rather confining and it's bound to get a little lonely in there. this is a story about russell learning to accept himself, and in the process realizing that he also has some prejudices that need to be addressed. it's a good read, and a hopeful book. the message is encouraging to teens that they aren't ever alone, and there will always be support. as russell grows he realizes that his best girl friend is bisexual, his best guy friend isn't about to quit being friends with him over something like sexual orientation, and that the most popular jock star is is actually very scared of admitting the truth, and the school nerd is braver than anyone ever imagined.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Twilight - Stephanie Meyer

i just finished reading this one a couple of days ago. and i wanted to write about it quickly so i can return it to the library so that others can borrow it. i imagine there are some young vampire fans out there who will be excited to sink their teeth into this one. ha. it's been a little while since we had a serious new vampire series. not since anne rice and buffy anyway. although if you are into the vampire fiction and would like a bit of a lighter take on the genre i would highly recommend ellen schreiber's kissing coffins series.

now, back to 'twilight'. bella, not wanting to be burden on her mother decides to move from sunny pheonix arizona to rainy, foggy forks washington to live with her dad. bella finds that the novelty of a new student makes her fairly popular at school, except with her lab partner, edward, who looks like he wants to kill her. bella is intrigued by edward and his four siblings, who keep their distance from the rest of the kids at forks high school. it is not until edward saves her life, that bella begins to explore her relationship with edward, which leads to several astonishing discoveries and some good old fashioned danger. probably one of the hottest 'it' ya books at the moment, meyer's series is a must read for anyone who enjoys their romance with a little bit of bloodletting.