Thursday, November 29, 2007

Options: The secret life of Steve Jobs (a parody by Fake Steve Jobs)

This was a pretty amusing (and fast) read. I enjoyed it. The book originated as a blog - - which is still being published.

Luna by Julie Ann Peters (teen novel)

An interesting book written from the perspective of a girl whose older brother is transgendered -- he thinks he is a girl trapped in a boy's body. This was a National Book Award finalist. It was good, but I liked Peters' latest, Between Mom and Jo, better.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Wood Wife by Terri Windling

I think I would have enjoyed this book more if I'd been in a different mood.

Define "Normal" by Julie Anne Peters (teen novel)

I liked this book about two very different high school girls who slowly learn to become friends and help each other through difficult times.

Family of Strangers by Susan Beth Pfeffer (teen novel)

A well-written novel about a dysfunctional family and how one of its members tries to get help.

Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library by Don Borchert

A funny look at life in a small branch library in California. Many of the situations that Borchert describes will ring bells with other public librarians. It's a good read.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Between Mom and Jo by Julie Ann Peters (teen novel)

Wow, what a great book! Thirteen-year-old Nick is heartbroken when his biological mom and his mom's partner, Jo, break up. During the course of the book Nick tries to figure out where everything went wrong, who he is and how he can deal with this new life. This is a powerful and moving, well-written book. I enjoyed it very much.

Stick to Drawing Comics, Monkey Brain! by Scott Adams

A collection of very entertaining, short essays on whatever topics Adams feels like writing about on any given day, ranging from "How to dance" to "Chinese Striptease Funeral" and beyond. The book is collected from entries in Adams' blog - I really enjoyed it.  

The Rejection Collection Vol. 2: The Cream of the Crap by Matthew Diffee

More cartoons that didn't make it into The New Yorker -- not necessarily because they weren't funny enough, but because they were too un-PC or too gross. (My kind of humor. I found most of the cartoons in here to be screamingly funny.)

The Professor's Daughter by Joann Sfar and Emmanuel Guibert (graphic novel)

Entertaining... but I had a little trouble following the story. It could be that there's something wrong with me rather than the book. I did enjoy the illustrations and drawings.

Milk Eggs Vodka: Grocery Lists Lost and Found, by Bill Keaggy

Yes, an entire book consisting of pictures of old grocery lists that people tossed to the ground when they were done with them. I enjoyed the first few pages, but then it got a bit old, and some of the author's snarky comments were kind of annoying. This is a great book to borrow from a library!

It Takes a Worried Man by Brendan Halpin

Loved this book. It's a memoir, based on a journal that Halpin kept during the year his wife battled with breast cancer. Honest, sad, brutal and funny. I  also really enjoyed Halpin's memoir of teaching, which is called Losing My Faculties. If you haven't read this guy's nonfiction work, you should definitely try it - it's quite powerful stuff.

Cottage for Sale, Must be Moved by Kate Whouley

I enjoyed this memoir of a Cape Cod woman's purchase of a small cottage, which she then proceeded to move 20-odd miles down the road to join onto her existing house. It is quite a good look at all the trials and tribulations that go into tackling a major building project like this. If you enjoyed Tracy Kidder's House, you will probably enjoy this as well.

Friday, November 09, 2007

How Ya Like Me Now by Brendan Halpin (teen book)

Very, very good book. When Eddie's dad died last year his mom fell apart, and got hooked on oxycontin. Eddie's barely been managing to keep things together. When his mom finally gets busted and sent to rehab, Eddie gets sent to live with his aunt, uncle and cousin Alex. This sounds like a grim tale and in many ways it is, but Halpin writes with such humor, honesty and authenticity that it's a hard book to put down. By the end, both Eddie and his cousin have learned a lot about how to deal with life. Note: I also very much enjoyed Halpin's previous teen book, Donorboy. And he's written a couple of memoirs that are also good.

Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik (book 4 in the Temeraire series)

I wasn't that big of a fan of Black Powder War, the third book in this series, but boy, this one really kept me riveted. If you haven't yet been introduced to this series, do yourself a favor and pick up the first one -- His Majesty's Dragon. In this alternate universe, set in the 1800s during the Napoleonic Wars, everything is much the same as in our universe, except there are dragons -- and the dragons are part of the military. I don't want to say more except that I highly recommend this series.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Goldilocks and the pile of library books

No, that's not the title of an actual book. It's how I felt last night as I tried to find a book that would catch my interest.
Repossessed, by A. M. Jenkins (teen). Rejected (though I did skim it very rapidly to see if I was missing anything.)
The Falconer's Knot by Mary Hoffman (teen). Rejected -- set in 13th century Italy and I just didn't feel like slogging through a period book right now.
The Spell Book of Listen Taylor by Jaclyn Moriarty (teen). Rejected -- I could swear I tried to read this book before (and didn't like it then either). I've liked other things by this author, but this one left me cold.
Why We Read What We Read by Lisa Adams and John Heath (nonfiction). Rejected. The book was too heavy and uncomfortable to hold, and I think the authors could have done with a little more editing. I would have read this if it was a magazine article but it just didn't do anything for me as a 340-page (heavy) book.

Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

This is a really interesting look at happiness and the human brain. It's accessible, well-written, scholarly and funny, all at the same time. I really enjoyed it and it gave me a lot of food for thought.

Millicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa Yee

Recommended to me by Diane D. What a fun book! Millicent Min may be only 11 years old, but she has an astronomical IQ and is going into her last year of high school. Being really smart isn't the same thing as having high emotional intelligence... and through the course of the summer, as Millicent finds her first real friend and tries to tutor the stupid Stanford Wong so he won't fail English, she learns and grows a lot. This is a funny, well-written book! Am looking forward to reading the sequels.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Lost Light by Michael Connelly

A very satisfying thriller, one that kept me guessing until the end. (It did get kind of violent at the end but I skipped that part.) This is one of the Harry Bosch series that Connelly writes about a cop in the Los Angeles police department.