Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I read Laura Lippman's What The Dead Know because it was in The Morning News' Tournament of Books. I liked it quite a bit even though I guessed one twist really early on. I thought it was pretty well-written too. It inspired me to check out a bunch of her other books, but unfortunately they were less compelling. The Power Of Three felt like it was missing something and fell just short of being good. Some parts of the mystery were really obvious right away and it wasn't exactly the definitive book on destructive teenage friendships. But the one that made me decide I was pretty much done with Lippman was Every Secret Thing. The second the character Alice was described as "fat" at the beginning of the book I knew she was the guilty one. This feeling was only confirmed as she was then described as a "heavyset blond woman... trudging along" and "a hulking, almost obese woman." Oh, but then came the kicker: "Nancy willed herself not to let her eyes drift down to the indistinct bulk beneath Alice's bright pink t-shirt. The girl had to weigh almost two hundred pounds. God help her if she had weighed more when she came home." Seriously, what the actual fuck? 200 pounds? She clearly has no idea of what 200 pounds looks like and by that time I was so over the book and, by extension, Lippman, that I took back the rest I had checked out without even bothering opening them.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Let's talk YA.

So Jonathon Scott Fuqua's King Of The Pygmies was pretty interesting. It's about a teen boy named Penn who starts hearing voices. His parents are concerned about mental illness, while his alcoholic uncle insists they have the power to hear other people's thoughts. I liked how the book stayed ambiguous enough to allow the reader to wonder and hope along with Penn, but also realize with him what he needs to do about his situation.

Bad Kitty by Michele Jaffe was a lot of fun. I loved the characters and the playful writing style. It's been compared to the Lulu Dark books and rightfully so, but there's more of a scientific CSI bent in this one that I enjoyed.

Ally Carter's I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You and Cross My Heart And Hope To Spy were very, very cute. They're about a spy academy for girls disguised as a swanky private boarding school. I really had a lot of fun with these, especially when they added in the boys in the second book.

Overall I enjoyed K. L. Going's Fat Kid Rules The World, although Going has a distorted view of what 300 pounds looks like on a 6'1" frame. She obviously picked that weight as some sort of arbitrary point above which she believes someone is too fat to function. I was disappointed in that aspect, but I liked the punk rock stuff.

How They Met And Other Stories by David Levithan wasn't entirely consistent, which is understandable given that he included Valentine's Day stories he's written since high school. It's worth reading though, because there are a few really excellent ones. My favorite was the the Bar Mitzvah story with the dancer and his little brother.

Claire recommended I read The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt and I predictably loved it. It's about a young teenage boy named Holling who is forced to attend a one on one study hall once a week with his least favorite teacher, Mrs. Baker. They begin with regular classroom work, but as they begin to work toward an understanding they touch on many things from Shakespeare to baseball while the Vietnam War and other outside events color the backdrop.

I'd never read Am I Blue: Coming out from the silence edited by Marion Dane Bauer, which seemed odd given my interest in the subject, so I finally grabbed it. And now it's been so long since I read it that I pretty much only remember the story about the people turning various shades of blue. The only other thing I have in my notes is that 1994 seems like a really long time ago. So, uh, yeah.

And then Maureen Johnson's The Bermudez Triangle started out a little too cutesy for me and I nearly tossed it, but it got better. It's about the fallout among three close friends when two of them start seeing each other.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Forever ago I read Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer, which I mistakenly thought was the last book in the series, but no, apparently there's another one on its way. Which I will read as soon as possible even thought I just keep getting more and more annoyed with these characters.

Cherie Priest's Dreadful Skin wasn't as good as her others, but still interesting. It's three interconnected novellas about a werewolf and the nun hunting him across the United States in the 1800's. She keeps things less explicit in these stories, but she does slow-burn horror pretty well.

Next on the list was Jeffery Deaver's The Sleeping Doll, which I read despite the fact that his picture on the back of his books kinda gives me the creeps. I actually enjoyed this one with the whole cult murder angle. The writing wasn't great though, and if I had to read the word "kinesics" one more time I was going to pitch the book through the window.

Post-Pop Cinema: The search for meaning in new American film by Jesse Fox Mayshark didn't really rise above intro to film criticism level, but I couldn't resist the picture of The Life Aquatic on the cover and the mentions of David Foster Wallace on the first page of the introduction. Basically it argues that the certain group of directors lumped under the postmodern banner use postmodernism as a "starting point rather than a conclusion" in their movement toward a "sort of self-conscious meaningfulness."


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