Showing posts from November, 2007

On Me as a Reader, and The Game by Diana Wynne Jones

Part of why I keep this blog is my fascination with the process of reading, how reading engrosses readers, how I see myself in books (and assume others do the same). My interest in reading was cemented at a young age; my mother told me that, when I was about 6 or 7, I told her I wanted to be a reader when I grew up. Not a writer, mind you, but a reader. I did get interested in writing later, but in truth if someone would pay me to read all day, I'd do it. I'm good at it. I'm observant and easily hit fiction speeds of well over 100 pages per hour. Admittedly, as I write this, I see that my careers to date--librarian, professor--may be as close as I'll ever come to well-paid work that requires me to read. My reading preferences change continuously, but occasionally I find a book that reminds me that there are landmarks in my tastes, like the following 2007 release.... The Game by Diana Wynne Jones Whenever I see a new book by Diana Wynne Jones (despite her being

2 great books, 2 duds

Bloom by Elizabeth Scott It's as though this book opens after all the typical YA romance books end. Lauren has the great football-player boyfriend and the popular best friend, but her life feels hollow. Until Evan comes back to town, Evan who was briefly a trial step-sibling thanks to one of Lauren's father's ill-advised bouts of shacking up with girlfriends. Evan knows her past, and what's more he makes her weak in the knees. Watching her weakness is part of the fun here, including that weakness that keeps her from breaking up with her official boyfriend like she should. It makes her more human that she can't bear to face her own feelings directly, and not until Evan's mother points out that her two-timing behavior is "just like your father" does Lauren realize that she has to make things right. Evan takes her as she is in the end, which makes this a satisfying story of a girl who seeks substance, hesitates when she finds it, but survives despit

Slam by Nick Hornby

I love Hornby's writing in general, and I learned why in the jacket flap copy of this book where a New Yorker reviewer called him "the maestro of the male confessional." That's why. That said, this is not his best effort. Sam unwittingly becomes a 16-year-old father, just like his 32-year-old mother did in her time. The portrayal of the situation is realistic, with Sam spacing out when things get too emotionally tricky. However, the narrative itself invokes skater Tony Hawk and time travel in ways that are amusing for awhile, but ultimately distracting. I found the narrative really dragging when, after Sam has flashed forward to the future, we then arrive at that future and plod through the events again, albeit with a wiser Sam. The time travel felt like a device to show that he had grown rather than an organic component of the story. However, Sam's obsession with that incessant quotation from Tony Hawk's autobiography were convincing, reflecting the

2 new YA novels

I know, dear readers, that most of you who read me read because, well, you want good reads. I know because you've told me, so this one's for you: Princess Academy by Shannon Hale This princess book is as cool and refreshing as its chick-lit counterparts are pink and frothy. Miri is a mountain girl who, along with all the other girls of the proper age in her village, are forced to attend Princess Academy. The Prince needs a bride, and his advisors have augured that she will come from Mount Eskel. Miri and her compatriots are treated like backwards idiots by the woman who runs the academy. Fortunately, they band together and outwit their oppressor. Unfortunately, bandits come to the mountain, and the princesses-in-training face mortal danger. All ends well in this magical story because Miri discovers the secrets of Mount Eskel's single export, linder stone, which in addition to being strong, light, and beautiful, is also capable of carrying the mountain dweller's