30 September 2003

Reads & Listens, September 2003

Reads:

Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale by Holly Black
Apparently, there are faeries in New Jersey (sure, why not?) who plan on making tithe of this girl only she's more than just a girl. Oh, and she has the hots for a completely unsuitable bloke her friends warn her against. Hrm. If you like Gaiman or de Lint, you'll probably like this book. Character development isn't all that, but Black's descriptions can be quite stunning. Would make a good graphic novel or manga.

Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix
A fast-paced and fun read, even if a bit predictable and eerily like something else I've read (been wracking my brain for days trying to figure out which book).

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
451 is the latest selection in the "One Book. One Region" project. I doubt I can say anything about it that hasn't been said before and ... well ... I'll just say it was okay, but not something I will read again.

Echo by Francesca Lia Block
Readers who liked Tithe will probably like this book. Me? I wish Block had written a thicker book with less glitter and more meat. Yes, the short story format was a cute trick and the mythic overtones where pretty amusing, but it feels as if I've just woken up from a drug induced dream and I'm a little pissed over how hungry I have been left by it.

Letters in the Attic by Bonnie Shimko
A very enjoyable read. Funny and painful with a realistic and non-Hallmarky look at first love. My only complaint is that the book had no real ending. Shimko left the book open for a sequel -- maybe, Lizzy goes to Florida to see her Gran, meets another nice girl and finally gets over Eva? Or Lizzy goes to Florida to see her Gran and Eva realizes how much she needs Lizzy and follows her? Or, Eva has enough of Lizzy's mooning about, outs her to everybody, and Lizzy flees to Florida in mortification? Also, I want to know which character was supposed to be the boyfriend of which the cover flap spoke.

Among the Imposters & Among the Betrayed by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Companion volumes to Among the Hidden. For the most part, Imposters was quite satisfyingly scary and full of unexpected turns. Unfortunately, Betrayed failed to hold my attention most of the time, because the plot seemed so obvious.

Kissing Kate by Lauren Myracle
Painfully realistic. Also compelling, funny, and insightful. Generally brilliant. Mercifully free of saccharine sweet "be brave, young lesbian" overtones or political speechifying. Readers will have little difficulty empathizing with Lissa. Honestly, I think this is one of the best "young lesbian identity" novels I've ever read. It's just a story about a girl whose world changes after she kisses (and is kissed by) her best friend.

Alt Ed by Catherine Atkins
Ouch. Hits a little too close to home.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The reviews I've read all call this a sensational first novel and a passionate romance, but it seemed strangely flat to me. After 518 pages shouldn't I have felt something more than relief I'd reached the end? And what was that little conversation between Charisse and Clare at the art reception about? "I just design them [computer viruses], then I paint the html onto canvas, then I have a show. I don't actually put them into circulation." Is Charisse saying she writes the viruses in html? 2006 should be a fun year (Once again, I outgeek myself).

Who knows? Maybe, it will make a better movie. Starring Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, no doubt. Gak.

Animal Sense by Diane Ackerman (illus. by Peter Sis)
Charming.

Singing the Dogstar Blues by Alison Goodman
Fun Australian YA novel. It took the story a little while to build up speed and then it went hurtling into the end. I thought the character development was a little flat, but I don't think most readers will care.

Jahanara: Princess of Princess, India, 1627 (The Royal Diaries) by Kathryn Lasky
Actually, pretty good. I was kind-of leery of it -- it being a "Royal Diary" and all -- but I was pleasantly surprised. It was reasonably well written with a fair amount of historical detail for a book of this kind.

Shelf Life: Stories by the Book by Gary Paulson
"Barcarole for Papers and Bones" is a complete mindfuck. Read it three times and still don't know what happened or why, but I get the creepies every time. The rest of the stories where a pretty good mix of well written material. "Barcarole" was the best, though.

Cupid & Diana by Christina Bartolomeo
Light romantic comedy with no surprises. While I have little interest in fashion and the clothing descriptions were lost on me, the intra-family relationships were well worth the read. The only real flaw in this book is the sister, Annette. She's barely mentioned in the novel, has no real role in it, and could just as easily have been edited out.