Archive | January, 2013

Grim but Good.

20 Jan

I just realized that Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell came out this month! An advanced reader of this was passed along to me, with the recommendation “Read it. It’s great. It’s different.” So I read it. It was great. And different.

deathofbeescoer

Imagine Room if Room had a snarky-smart-foul-mouthed teen as a narrator instead of a sort of ferral-innocent-naive 4yr old. Two sisters live in a housing project in Scotland, their parents are broke and junkies and a little crazy, and Marnie (the elder sister) has pretty much been doing all the parenting/rearing of her younger sister, Nellie. At the start of the book, both parents are (mysteriously) dead, and the two girls are burying them in the backyard (hoping that if they can just make it until Marnie turns 16, she can claim responsibility for her younger sister Nell and the two won’t have to be thrown in the foster care system). It sounds like maybe a funny beginning, but it really is very not funny. Grim and grimy and dark. But one of those books that you can’t put down.

Librarians Read Challenge.

15 Jan

I am fairly new to the Johnson County Library – and have a fairly lowly position. Which is lovely because it gives me time to focus on the Librarians Read Challenge that started Jan. 1.

Every year, there is a county-wide challenge to see how many Young Adult/Juvenile books can be read. I guess the goal, broadly, is to familiarize everyone with different parts of the collection. Everyone is to keep track of the books they read during January and February, and whichever Librarian can read the most pages wins (just glory, no prize). As you can imagine, I am all over this challenge.

I can’t quite decide how to blog about this – I don’t want to post entry after entry of silly little books. So I think I will just write about the BEST things I read, the ones that I think would appeal to Everyone and not just Young Adults or Children. And I read one last night. That was so good. So, SO good.

the-wicked-and-the-just

I don’t remember where I read about this one – but if you love historical fiction – READ IT. Ah it was so good. It takes place in Wales in the year 1250. A young girl, Cecily, and her father move from a lovely estate in England (her uncle, back from the Crusades, is the rightful heir and kicks them out) to an English stronghold in Wales. Inside the castle walls, Englishmen live in relative peace and health. Outside the wall, the Welch are starving and sickly and poor – not to mentioned heavily taxed. Cecily is a bit of a brat – accustomed to great things and used to getting her way. Her “maid” at the new home, Ginny, is a poor Welch girl struggling to feed herself and her sickly mother. A revolution brews, Cecily realizes the error of her ways….oh it is good. I would even compare this, maybe, to Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, except that it is a little grittier and there is no real romance between any of the characters. Just has that time-period sort of feel.

the Big Apple.

10 Jan

I ended 2012 with two slightly older books – one from the beginning of 2012 and one from…oh, a couple of years ago? I brought both of them with me on my NYE travels, and finished them both before I got where I was going (I had a long, long layover).

Cascade

This cover catches my eye every time I see it. I had it from the Library, but couldn’t really bring myself to start it (who knows why?). When I did – I was surprised. It is not at all what I thought it would be, and in a great way. The story is of a young woman who hastily marries a man in her small town in order to save her father and his beloved theater from bankruptcy in the small, small town of Cascade. She is a painter and had been looking forward to a successful career in New York City before giving up  her dreams and moving home. Settling into her new domesticated routine in the small town, a door-to-door salesman comes a’calling – a young jewish man who also happens to be a highly trained and highly skilled painter. The two (of course) find themselves in a precarious (and lovely) friendship. There is SO much more to this story – more than love – a story of a town about to be destroyed (flooded, as it sits in a valley by a river that needs expanded), a woman’s quest to pursue her artistic career, a desperate husband, a murder…

heroicmeasures

Heroic Measures is an old favorite of my bookrep friend. It is slim, and odd. In a pleasant sort of way. Taking place mostly in a fifth story walk-up in NYC, this is the story of a lovely old couple and their beloved dog (dachshund). The couple is thinking of moving to a smaller place with less stairs, and have their apartment on the market. The day of the open house, poor dog gets very ill and they must rush her to the vet. Narrated alternately by the couple and the dog, set in post 9-11 NY, this book is a lot more dramatically and tensely charged that I would have imagined. It is one of those books where you just feel on-edge and involved. It was a captivating, swift read.