Hi, I'm Mrs. F-B!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The President's Daughter books 1,2,3,4 - Ellen Emerson White

I really enjoyed this series which I started around the time of the elections. the main character is Meghan Powers, whose mother decides she's going to run for President, and she wins! Sounds pretty exciting, right? Well not to Meghan. She never wanted her mom to even run much less win! The series begins when the family still lives in Massachusetts, runs through the election, and carries on to the White House. There are many moments of suspense, some WAY too unbelievable, but of course FICTION is often about suspending disbelief, and if you can do that, I think you'll enjoy these books a lot, especially if you're interested in politics or what it's like to live in the White House.

Available at the Multnomah County Library.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Call Me Hope - Gretchen Olson

How would you feel if your parents named you Hope and then your dad left and your mom called you Hopeless all the time? It's not something anyone would wish for, and certainly not something the main character of this story enjoys. Her mother is quite verbally abusive to her, calling her names, belittling her, and generally just being mean. Hope tries so hard to be good, but it seems like she can never meet the mark. Even though you know this story is fiction, it's really hard to read some parts because you know that this really is the way some parents treat their children.

When she reads the Diary of Anne Frank in school, Hope makes a connection with Anne and the difficulties Anne's facing that help her to find ways of coping. The counselor at her school also gives her some great strategies she can use. The other thing that helps Hope through is finding people that show her they care about her, like the two women who run the resale shop where Hope gets a part time job.

This story is an intense read, but Hope's power of spirit and her constant attempts to overcome her difficulties make it an excellent piece o literature for middle grades and will hopefully open up some avenues of discussion for children in situations of verbal abuse.

Sea Otter Resuce - Roland Smith

This is one of the non-fiction Battle of the Books titles for this year, and it was a quick read and super interesting. It's about the Exxon Valdez oil spill that happened up in Alaska in 1989. I spent some time up in Alaska (even Valdez) this summer, so I was really interested in this story. Roland Smith used to be a veterinarian, so when the oil spill happened he was asked to go up and help. His first hand knowledge of the animals and of the rescue effort made this a really great piece. Plus there are awesome photos of the rescue efforts. Those little sea otters are sooooo cute. But only when they're not covered with oil.

The Exxon Valdez oil spill was one of the worst ever and caused the deaths of thousands and thousands of animals, including the sea otters, birds, seals, some whales, and many other animals. It was a devestating event that no one was properly prepared for. Luckily, as a result of the spill, people learned a lot about how to do a better job of containment and clean-up in the event of a spill, and new rules were created which will require all oil tankers in the future to have basically two hulls to help prevent spills in the case of an accident.

I'd definitely recommend this book for lovers of animals and the envirnonment.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Host - Stephenie Meyer

I have to say it took me about 200 pages to get into this book (it's over 600 pages long), and that isn't really like me. I did grow to like the story, although it's not really my kind of book. This is a sci-fi futuristic book, and although I enjoy most sci-fi, I realize now that I don't really enjoy alien sci-fi. That's just a little too weird for me. Sort of like I only like fantsy that has real people in it, I guess I also only like sci-fi that has people in it, not aliens. I think that's what saved this book for me. It did have real people in it, and now that I think about it, I think they came in around page 200...coincidence? I think not. Honestly, had it not been our book club book for this month, I probably wouldn't have finished it, but I'm glad I did.

Recommended for lovers of alien sci-fi stories middle school aged and up.

A Wizard of Earthsea - Ursula LeGuin

If you've ever heard me a do a book talk, you undoubtedly know that fantasy is not really my genre, so you will probably not be surprised to hear me say that a book with the words wizard and earthsea (not even a word!) was not my favorite I've read this year. It's a Battle of the Books title, so I forced my self to read it (I listened, actually), but it was just a little too wizardy for me.

Having said that, if you LIKE fantasy, I think you will really enjoy this book. It's got a good mystery, pleny of adventure, lots of magic, and a good plot going. It's the first in the Tombs of Atuan series, and I'd definitely recommend it to fantasy fans or those who are interested in exploring this genre. It's well written and has been around for quite some time, written by Oregon's own Ursula LeGuin.

Copies of this title are available on the OBOB spinner rack in the WOMS library.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Barack Obama - Son of Promise, Child of Hope - Nikki Grimes

I read this recently published children's book just before the election. It's a good book, and I did like the illustrations a lot, but I didn't love it. I thought it could have had a little more information in it than it did. Picture books aren't my specialty, of course, but I have read quite a lot of them, and this one just didn't WOW me. It's a nice place to start, though, for young children who don't know anything about our 44th President.


Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist - Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

It is really too bad this book has so much bad language in it that I could NEVER have it in my library, because I really did enjoy the plot of this novel. Nick has just gone through a terrible break-up, and when he sees his ex at a concert, he does the only thing he can think of, he turns to the girl next to him (who he's never seen before) and asks her if she'll be his girlfriend for just five minutes. For her own reasons, Norah agrees with a whopper of a kiss. And this begins not just five minutes but a whole night of young love.

This story was written by two authors, one male and one female, and they tell the story in alternating chapters. One chapter's Nick, then the next is Norah. Sometimes this can be difficult to read, but these authors pull it off marvelously. The character development is outstanding, and these two characters, while they do have potty mouths, also have some great boundaries and don't just act without thought. In fact, they're quite thoughtful as evidenced by many of their discussions.

I'm curious to see the movie of this book which has just recently come out to see if the characters match my vision of them. It rarely happens, so I kinda doubt it. This book is only appropriate for mature high schoolers.

Shantaram - Gregory David Roberts

This was fascinating book, but I think it's the book hat's taken me the longest to finish of any book I've ever read. It took me over 6 months. Of course, if you look at teh last six months of this blog, you'll see that I have read just a couple of other things as well, but still it's quite unlike me to spend so long on one book. And then again, I don't often read 936 page books...

One reason I don't spend forever reading books generally is that I tend to forget hat was happening if I leave a book and then come back after a while. This did not, interestingly, happen at all with Shantaram. No matter how long I stepped away from it, it was always clear when I came back. I thought that was interesting.

This book had action, suspense, character development, philosophy, crime, romance, pretty much everything. I guess when you write such a long book you have room to write about everything! but the secret is in being able do it well and not have your reader feel like it was just dragging on and on. I never really felt like that with this book, which was great.

The story is about a man who got into drugs, was thrown in prison, escaped and went off to India where he ended up working for a mafia type group there. In real life, the author himself ended up in prison and escaped, went to India and opened a health clinic (also a part of the story). It was fascinating to wonder how much of this story was true, and how much completely made up. I felt like the main character's descriptions of his feelings as an escapee on the run must have been more accurate than anyone else would have been able to write them, along with some other things, like treatment of people in prisons (super difficult to read about sometimes).

I really, really enjoyed this novel and would recommend it to adults with staying power or a bunch of spare time on their hands.

The Last Chinese Chef - Nicole Mones

This was my most recent book for my grown up book club, and I totally loved it. I think it's the second best book we've done in book club (The Thirteenth Tale was my very favorite). It was beautifully done by local Portland author, Nicole Mones. At first I struggled with the ancient Chinese history part, but by the end I really enjoyed how she wove that in. It was a book that made me feel peaceful when I read it. It was totally fantabulous. I'd recommend it to other grown-ups reading this blog.