Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Art of Mending by Elizabeth Berg

I haven't read an Elizabeth Berg novel in a while, but they are always a treat. Her observations about the fragility of families, the ways in which we are tied together, are always insightful. And her writing is beautiful. I couldn't put this one down. I didn't want it to end. I really enjoyed it.

Department of Lost and Found by Allison Winn Scotch

What do you do if you're a high-powered lawyer working for a busy and somewhat sleazy politician, and you wake up one morning and discover that you have stage 3 breast cancer? Then, on top of that, your boyfriend decides he can't handle it and he dumps you? Well, this novel is about thirty-year-old Natalie Miller, who is trying to regain control of her spiraling-out-of-control life. I enjoyed it. I wouldn't say it's high literature, but it was entertaining and interesting nonetheless.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Ultra: Seven Days, by the Luna Brothers (graphic novel)

Clever and amusing tale of three female superheroes who are trying to manage their love lives, their relationships with their parents, and the day-today stuff of every day life, in between smacking down bad guys. My only beef: this was obviously first published in comic form, and when they republished it in bound graphic novel form, they didn't leave enough of an inner margin, so it was hard to read the stuff at the inner edges of the pages. I suppose I could have ruthlessly broken the spine of the book, but that seems cruel. It's not the book's fault that the publisher is an idiot and didn't leave enough of an inner margin. Plus, the book didn't fall open nicely - maybe it was bound too tight. I felt like I had to wrestle it open and apply continual force to get it to STAY open. Let's just say I really had to *work* to read this. 

Name All the Animals by Alison Smith (memoir)

When 15-year-old Alison Smith's older brother dies in a horrific car accident, her family is shaken to its core. Her parents cling even more firmly to their faith in God, while Alison herself decides that God no longer exists -- ironic, since she attends Sisters of Mercy convent school. This memoir is by turns sad, funny, heartbreaking and uplifting. I really enjoyed it. Beautiful writing, too.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Play Dead by David Rosenfelt

This is Rosenfelt's latest book, revolving around the case of a man who was unjustly imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit. Five years later, Paterson lawyer Andy Carpenter gets involved with a golden retriever who has been abused. During the course of trying to save the golden, Carpenter discovers that the dog had belonged to the imprisoned man -- and was supposed to have died five years ago. This is a funny, fast read. I enjoyed it very much!

Rattled by Debra Galant

Debra Galant came to speak at our library a few months ago. I had heard about her, but I hadn't read her book yet. She was such an interesting, engaging and funny speaker that I decided I had to buy a copy of her book. I just finished reading it yesterday and boy, was it funny. All I will say is: if you live in suburbia, and especially if you live in New Jersey, you'll probably find something funny in this book.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Woods by Harlan Coben

Could... not... put... this... book... down.
Another fabulous offering from the talented Mr. Coben. He's the reason I look so haggard and bloodshot this morning -- I had to read till late in the night.

Camp Babymouse by Jennifer & Matthew Holm (graphic novel)

If you haven't read a Babymouse book yet, you are in for a treat! Babymouse goes to camp, where she discovers that even though in her mind she is an intrepid camper, the reality is somewhat different. She even has trouble making friends. And what the heck is "bug juice" made of, anyway? It all seems a bit much until she makes a friend. This is another excellent installment of the Babymouse series. I highly recommend ALL of them.

Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks (teen novel)

Thanks to Dodie for recommending this terrific book to me! Cadel is not an ordinary boy. By the tender age of seven he's learned to hack into computer systems all over the world. His parents are at their wit's end so they send him for therapy with Dr. Thaddeus Roth. The lessons Cadel learns from Dr. Roth are probably not the ones his parents thought he would learn... but then again, are they his parents? Through Dr. Roth, Cadel discovers that his real father is mad scientist Dr. Phineas Darkkon, currently serving time in a maximum-security prison. Dr. Roth and Cadel's father want him to study the different facets of evil, so they send him to attend an institute where he learns about forgery, poisoning, misinformation, lying, and much more. Now Cadel has to choose: does he really want to be evil, or does he want to try and break free of their clutches? A really entertaining read. I had a hard time putting it down. Someone told me this is going to be the beginning of a series and I hope it is!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Divorce that book!

I cut this article out when I first saw it in the New York Times several years ago:

The article talks about the joys of not finishing a book that you aren't enjoying! If you are one of those people who feels the need to finish every book you start, maybe this article will help you see that there are much better things you can do (and better books you can read) -- so if you're not enjoying something: Stop reading it! (Unless you're studying to be an air traffic controller. Then by all means, keep reading the manual. Please.)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen

I enjoy Sarah Dessen's teen novels. The novels are usually written from the perspective of teenaged girls who are trying to make sense of their relationship with their family, their schoolmates and their friends. They are well-written and thoughtful, but I think they are probably best for older teens, maybe 8th grade and up. Adults would also enjoy them! 

The Starfish and the Spider by O. Brafman & A. Beckstrom

Dodie recommended this book to me and I just started reading it. It's fantastic -- everything I could ever want in a business book. Lucid, funny, and well-written. I love reading nonfiction written by people who realize that nonfiction can be engaging and exciting and interesting -- not like those textbooks they used to make me read in school.

The book's main message is that sometimes a decentralized organization is better able to survive than a hierarchical organization -- for example, if a starfish loses a leg (is it called a leg on a starfish? Hmm, I think it might be an arm) then it can adjust and cope while a new arm is being grown.

The discussion in this book reminds me of one of my favorite books, Where Wizards Stay Up Late by Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon. That book talks about the origins of the Internet and how the people who came up with the idea for the network deliberately chose to build a network whose pathways were distributed -- so that information could travel many different paths to get to a destination, which would make the network much more durable and stable than if there was only one pathway you could travel (and then what happens if a server goes down along the way?)

I really do love it when similar ideas pop up in books that I am reading or have read. It's so interesting to make these connections.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Where do I find stuff to read?

Hey - there are lots of great resources to help you find something to read that will be of interest to you. Here are two of 'em.

NextReads -- monthly e-newsletters in over 20 categories -- catnip for booklovers. Sign up at Long Hill Library's web site:

BookPage Xtra -- monthly e-newsletter delivered to your in-box.

Friday, June 08, 2007

White Corridor by Christopher Fowler

Oh, Christopher Fowler, you disappoint me. Your elderly detectives Arthur Bryant and John May are so wonderful on their own -- why must you introduce a second storyline which includes a peek into a serial killer's mind? I know this may sound cranky, but I would much rather spend time with my friends Bryant and May than with some serial killer I hardly even know. So, I did the only thing I could -- I quickly skimmed all the serial killer sections, and only slowed down when I got to a Bryant and May section. The descriptions of the two detectives and their interactions with each other are priceless. (At one point, the technologically inept Bryant asks May whether he can find out some information "on that interweb thingie.")

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Courtney Crumrin in the Twilight Kingdom by Ted Naifeh (graphic novel)

This is the third volume in the series. I have liked everything I've read by Ted Naifeh because he writes such strong female characters. And I like the art, too. I'd recommend this to late-middle-schoolers and up.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius: Volume 3

I just can't even tell you how much these books make me laugh. I really can't begin to express how much I love them. I can tell you that I think I have now read all four of the trade paperbacks, and I don't believe Mr. Winick is writing them anymore, which makes me very sad. But I will now commence to read everything else he's ever written.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Courtney Crumrin and the Coven of Mystics by Ted Naifeh (graphic novel)

Courtney Crumrin is an orphan who lives with her uncle Aloysius, a warlock. Courtney is a girl after my own heart -- she kicks some serious butt. This graphic novel is really enjoyable. It's rated Y for kids 7 and above. Ted Naifeh really knows how to build a great story. I enjoyed one of his other books, Polly and the Pirates, as much as I enjoy this series.

the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels by Bryan Lee O'Malley

Scott Pilgrim is dating Ramona Flowers, a mysterious deliveryperson for Amazon. But in order to date her, he must vanquish her seven evil ex-boyfriends. It has its cute moments but the story really doesn't grip me, especially since I think the main character is kind of clueless and annoying. I'm done with it now. (Sorry Tara, I know you like this series.)