Books & More
"I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. "
— Anna Quindlen
from "Enough Bookshelves," New York Times, 7 August 1991
Saturday, April 30, 2016
Not your average superhero
By: Perry Moore
Thom Creed is a pretty average kid except for a few minor details: his dad is an Ex-Superhero, and Thom is Gay. In this action-packed and heart-wrenching novel, Thom struggles to keep his father in the dark about his sexual orientation and the fact that he has joined the League of Superheros, something his father has forbidden. But Thom wishes to do good as he figures out how to use his new abilities along with his League teammates Scarlett, who can control fire; Typhoid Larry, who can get people sick with just a single touch; and Ruth, a sassy, wise older woman who can see the future. This coming-of-age story is geared towards an older teen age range; due to its more mature topics and language, I wouldn't recommend it for anyone younger than 15.
The audiobook narrator, Michael Urie, did a great job. It was also wonderful to listen to Stan Lee read the introduction he wrote for this novel. If you like slice of life superhero stories and are looking for a LGTBQ Teen novel, this is a perfect read/listen for you!
Monday, April 11, 2016
Clone with a soul?
Title: The House of the Scorpion
By: Nancy Farmer
Over a hundred years in the future, Matt Alacran lives in the Land of Opium, where he is the clone of the Lord of Opium, El Patron. The 100+ year-old ruler was once a powerful crime/drug lord who took much of the southern United States and northern Mexico and formed the Drug Countries, where each grows a different Drug and sells it internationally. But Matt isn't too worried about all that; he’s more focused on surviving the tense internal politics of one of the richest and powerful families in the country, possibly the world.
Through Matt's treatment in this bizarre world, Farmer brings up lots of questions about what it means to be a person. In Opium Matt is nothing but a clone, and thus property, and so he is treated like the intelligent family dog. The Catholic religious practices of several of the characters touch Matt's thoughts and make him wonder if he even has a soul, since animals apparently don't. This novel isheavy in concepts, but whimsical in its descriptions of the poppy fields and land of Opium.
Also, the opposing themes in this book—for example, the mixture of old fashioned traditions and futuristic technology—make it dynamic and provocative. I very much look forward to reading (or listening to) the next book in this series, The Lord Of Opium.
Thursday, March 31, 2016
Will to survive
Title: Salt to the Sea
By: Ruta Sepetys
Near the end of World War II in Europe, many people have begun fleeing their homes to escape the Nazis. The Russians are destroying whole towns, and people are escaping with what they can carry. Joana, Emilia, Florian and Alfred have all left home for different reasons. Joana is a Lithuanian nurse in search of the family she became separated from during the war. Emilia is a Polish girl fleeing something horrible from her past. Florian is a Prussian soldier with something to hide. And Alfred is a German soldier who feels that what the Nazis are doing is right. The sea is the only way for them to get away from what they are hiding and find freedom. Their paths cross when they all gain passage on the ship Wilhelm Gustloff, which is crowded with war refugees who are supposed to be going to a safe place in German territory. Joana, Emilia, Florian and Alfred have come this far in their journey, but will they survive the last leg?
Based on the actual sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, the worst maritime tragedy in history, Salt to the Sea tells the story of survival against all odds. In the face of the tremendous heartbreak of war, Joana, Emilia, Florian and Alfred still have the will to survive.
Monday, March 28, 2016
Treacherous net, treacherous human hearts
Title: The Treacherous Net
By: Helene Tursten
Many of our readers are familiar with Swedish author Helene Tursten. Her character, Detective Inspector Irene Huss, appears in a number of books, audiobooks, & DVDs in our library catalog. The Treacherous Net, her latest translated mystery, is a complex work, with an ambitious theme dealing with loneliness, the most widespread disease in Sweden, and modern society as a whole.
There are three concurrent storylines: a time-sensitive case to save teenage girls from an online predator; a mummified body discovered during a house demolition that triggers the reopening of a cold case from 42 years ago; and an intense workplace conflict between Huss and her new boss, Efva Thylqvist.
Loneliness, an internal poverty, is reflected fully in the book. Young teenage girls from both rich and poor family backgrounds turn to the treacherous Web for love and romance. But face-to-face interaction can be treacherous, too. Ever since her former boss was replaced by Thylqvist, Irene has experienced the taste of loneliness at work. She has been passed over and her input ignored. Worse, she has become isolated from her best friend/colleague, who was moved away from their shared office, and from the rest of her fellow officers, who have been won over by their attractive, seemingly hardworking new boss.
Faced with these challenges, Huss does not give in and quit her job, for she loves what she does. As the case progresses, Huss finds her true allies within and outside her department. And she surprises herself by finding the strength to speak out and give credit to the deserving when the new superintendent intends to grab all the glory herself.
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Take fiscal responsibility as well
Title: You Disappear
By: Christian Jungersen
I have finished reading You Disappear by Danish novelist Christian Jungersen, but its impact is such that my mind simply will not let it go.
The story is straightforward: Mia Halling, a school teacher, is struck with a series of unpleasant surprises. One hot Mediterranean day during a family vacation in Majorca, her husband Frederik is driving so recklessly that he crashes the car, falls, and is taken to hospital. It turns out that he has been suffering from a brain tumor, possibly malignant. After medical consultation and treatment back in Copenhagen, Mia finds the black cloud of the cancer scare lifted, but is faced with a graver reality and its damage to her family. Frederik, the principal of Saxtorph Private School, has embezzled and lost more than 11 million kroner of the school’s funds, gambling on international commodity indexes. Erratic risk-taking behavior apparently is characteristic of orbitofrontal brain injuries such as his.
Unlike many a public official or private CEO who bankrupts their city or company and walks away without being held financially responsible, Frederik and other school board members have to face the consequences: take fiscal, as well as moral and political responsibility. They are obligated to sell their upscale houses and liquidate all their assets to make up for the misused funds. Even though Frederick has medical evidence that his behavior was caused by his brain tumor, he is likely to serve jail time.
Jungersen won Denmark’s Best First Novel Award in 1999 with Undergrowth. His next novel, The Exception, won two more Danish literary awards. I cannot wait to put my hands on these earlier books.
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