Cites & Bytes @ Bailey

a library newsletter, a compendium of interesting tidbits, a communication tool....from Bailey Library @ Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. (Site Feed)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Recently Read and Heard....

I was going to post these last week but then Jane posted her book about caring for the children of Africa and I felt shallow and embarrassed. Anyway, here are my latest, including some young adult literature recommended by Kathy Frampton and Myra Balok:

The Old Wine Shades by Martha Grimes. Stop the presses! I read one of my mystery series books out of order. This Richard Jury novel didn't really hold my interest the first time around but I recently finished it off. Not one of my favorites in the series... a woman, her autistic son, and their dog disappear. The dog comes back. The man who relates the story to Jury goes on and on about quantum physics (not my strong point) and a lot of other blather that might be more interesting if I was actually sitting in the pub with Richard Jury myself, knocking back a pint or five. Unsatisfactory.

Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block. Have you ever known any of those lovely, fey eccentrics who like to paint flowers on their knees and make clothes out of children's bed sheets, wear tutus to breakfast, and are totally unaffected by the stares of the public? They are pretty rare, but I think every community should have one. Weetzie is one such, meets her soul mate Dirk who turns out to be gay, gets three magical wishes, discovers her true love, has a baby, and finds her dream house. This is a classic in young adult literature, often censored but loved by many, set in the La-La land of Los Angeles.

Clockwork by Philip Pullman.
Step it up a notch... this is a finely written fairy tale flirting with reality, fantasy, and a little bit of Faust. The imagery is amazing... like the tall mysterious stranger who blows into the inn in a cloud of snow, the description of the sled careening through the night with its dead driver, and the relentless approach of the mechanized murdering knight. The humans and machines are flawed in this tale but love conquers all in the end... this short read is a treat.

Bluford High: Blood is Thicker by Paul Langan and D. M. Blackwell. This is a new teen series (at least to me) that is proving very popular. This particular entry deals with a family that has to move in with relatives due to the father's poor health. Tension immediately erupts between cousins Hakeem and Savon, with some suspicious robberies to fuel the fire. I wonder if this is a "packaged" series, like the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants? Not that I object... if teens are reading, that's a bonus.

Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn. A story of love and abuse from the abuser's point of view, this book was sad, interesting, and might be enlightening to teens experiencing similar problems. Although I wouldn't call the "hero," Nick, sympathetic, his story did provide some understanding of a controlling, violent relationship and should provoke some good discussion and/or writing. Do they still do Afterschool Specials?

Boogaloo on 2nd Avenue by Mark Kurlansky. Mark Kurlansky wrote the widely-admired Salt and Cod... and then he wrote this. There is a large, large cast of characters in this book about New York's Lower East Side in the 1980's... every ethnicity and eccentricity... and quite a few narrative threads to follow (and in my case, drop, on a very short commute with an 11-Cd audiobook.) Murder, music, erotic interludes with a German pastry chef whose skin smells like butter, exotic foods, Caribbean drug dealers, and much, much more make for a tumultuous scene... just like the cover of the CD. I was surprised when I ended up liking it.


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