Sunday, July 12, 2009

Read this week (5)

I may have checked out more books than I can read by their due (and in many cases, renewal) dates, so unfortunately, I returned some of them this week. But alas, I persevered and read a couple just in the nick of due date time.

What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell
My Goodreads review:
This book was just blah for me. Not bad, but not fantastic or captivating. It's set just after WWII, and I'd say that's the strength of the book - the sense of place and time, the fashions, the propriety, and other little details that may go unnoticed. It's a coming of age story of Evie, who is a little dim, in my opinion. She takes a trip to Florida with her veteran stepdad and gorgeous mom where she falls in love for the first time, fairly naively. I don't like knowing more than the main character does, and I certainly felt that in this book. And the strange perhaps murder mystery at the end of the story was a bit jarring - I suppose it was necessary since Evie was kept in the dark for most of the story (or just too blind to see what was in front of her), and she needed something to make her see things for what they really are, but I thought this was an odd way to do it. Anyhow, not sure why it won the National Book Award, especially compared to some of the others for 2008, but I suppose those author judges know good writing when they read it.

Little Moon Dog
by Helen Ward
I read this picture book at the CCB while working on my faerie bibliography. It's no secret that I love all things faerie - I've even said that if I ever go back for my doctorate, I'd write my dissertation on faerie literature. Though I know Holly Black is the queen of all dark, urban faerie stories, I was actually drawn in by Melissa Marr's writing. But all of my faerie reading since then has been YA lit because that's all that I thought was out there - but it isn't so! While this book does not explicitly state that the summer "visitors" are faeries, their actions give them away. The dog and his owner live a comfortable and perhaps sometimes boring life on the moon. Until the summer visitors arrive and whisk the dog away to have lots of fun and adventures. It's a sweet book with a happy ending - true friendship outlasts the whims of faeries.

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
My Goodreads review:
I understand and agree with the hype, but boy did I hate reading this book. Heart-wrenching the whole way through, I found myself physically reacting to the hideous and unforgivable characters and scenes. I did not believe I could feel so strongly for 13 year-old Kyra who is forced to marry her 60 year-old uncle, but my blood did boil. The quote by Gregory Maguire on the front of the book is perfect: "The Chosen One makes the heart race, the teeth grind, and the brow bead up in sweat." Yeah, it's a heavy book. But the best usually are.
I can't say much more about this book except that you have to read it. Unless you read for pleasure, then I would highly advise against it.

The Fruit Bowl Project by Sarah Durkee
I would not have picked this book up if it wasn't one that I was reviewing for the 2009-2010 Golden Jaguar Award, the reader's choice award at the middle school I will be student teaching at in the fall. And I didn't give it a glowing review. The premise of the book is actually kinda cool - a rockstar visits an eighth grade Writer's Workshop class and introduces their next assignment. They all write the same story from a different perspective. So more than half the book are the students' pieces of writing, from poetry to plays to Broadway musicals to letters to simple prose. While I enjoyed reading many of them, I wonder if middle school students would share my preference. I doubt that they sit around and read each other's work for pleasure, maybe of their close friends, but certainly not 50 kids' writings in a row! I felt like this was a great writing exercise for the author but not such a great experience for the reader. :/

Next week, I hope to be reading more for this and next year's Golden Jaguar Award since summer is quickly flying past me. And eventually I will get to that Libraries in Books entry!


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