June 17th, 2009

Book Report 3

Pressing along, here is the rest of my reading, consisting of a couple of mysteries and a whole lot of middle grade and young adult novels.

The Likeness is the second mystery from Tana French and it is just as good as the first one, if once you accept the premise that the detective looks like the victim. In a lot of ways, it has the feel of Rebecca, kind of a gothic gathering of omens building toward something.

Jasper Fforde is too clever for his own good. I laughed out loud lots of times while reading The Fourth Bear, the second in his Nursery Crime series. Literary jokes abound. Punch and Judy have a hilarious role as marriage counselors. It is “just right.”

Having discovered the wonders of the internet for exhausting the work of authors I enjoy, I continued to read Alison Uttley’s books. None of them are quite as charming as the one that inspired my binge, Little Grey Rabbit’s Christmas, but all were entertaining: Lavender Shoes, Foxglove Tales, and Yours Ever, Sam Pig.

The best book I read this whole period was, hands down, I Am the Messenger. It’s brilliant. It’s touching. It’s hard to explain. Just go read it. Then read Markus Zusak’s other book, The Book Thief. It’s the story of a German kid during World War II and her resistance to the Nazi regime. I could not put it down. I cried. It’s beautiful and sad.

The worst book I read was Artemis Fowl. Syd loved it when he was younger, but I found almost all the characters to be ill-natured. There are others in the series, one of which is sitting on my “to read” shelf, but I’m pretty sure I’m not going to read it.

T.R. had a lot of unread books on his shelf. We went through and sorted them into ones he actually wanted to read and ones he had no intention of reading. I picked through the latter pile, sending some to good homes, some to Goodwill, and some I kept for myself. The Year of Miss Agnes is a book I bought T. when we went to Alaska, thinking he might like to read about an Alaskan experience. He wasn’t into it, but I loved the book about a Native American girl and the teacher that came to her small village.

The Chessmen of Doom was a mystery that failed to engage me much. I’ll be giving it away (email me if you need it or any of my other give-away titles below!).

Having loved the Spiderwick books, I expected to enjoy The Nixie’s Song, but it didn’t live up to the quality of the former series. I’ll also be giving it away.

Hatchet has won awards. I can see why. It’s another kid-surviving-in-the–wilderness story, but well told and engaging. If T. would consent to read it, I think he’d like it, but he has plenty of other stuff to read, so I won’t push it.

Dr. Illuminatus seems to have come out in the wake of Harry Potter. It’s an alchemical adventure story. I liked it, but didn’t love it. There is at least one sequel, but I probably won’t seek it out. I would if I were twelve, though.

I’ll also be giving away White Serpent Castle, a samurai mystery story. It was perfectly competent, but now that I’ve read it, I’m done. I’m also done with books I stole from T.

Four books on my list were re-reads: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Farthest Shore, and The Princess Bride. Harry Potter soothes my soul. I loved The Farthest Shore as much as I did when I was a kid. The Princess Bride read better the second time.

I’m in the middle of something of a Kate DiCamillo phase. I have more to read. But, for this period, I read The Tale of Despereaux and The Tiger Rising. She tells a good story. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is still my favorite of her books that I’ve read so far, but I am looking forward to the other unread ones I have waiting for me on the shelf.

The Willoughbys is pretty much the perfect kid novel. It has all the classic elements and also a modern sensibility. If I had read it as a kid, I’d have worn it out. I would happily give this book as a gift.

Speaking of which, I did give Once Upon a Marigold as a gift to our niece, Cameron. And, in doing so, I found out that there is a sequel!!! I hope Cameron likes the first book, which I did not read this time out; I loved the follow-up, Twice Upon a Marigold. Sweet, silly, and funny.

Beyond the Deepwoods was first in a series that I won’t read the rest of. Run-of-the-mill fantasy that might have captivated me when I was younger, but presently bores me. I’ll be giving it away.

Sabriel is also the first in a series and one that I may well read more volumes of. The world is engaging, the problems real, and the solutions creative and exciting. Also helps: a strong female protagonist.

Reading a book about learning disabilities sounds boring. Not so when a brilliant cat helps a kid overcome them. Check out Whittington. It’s on the easier end of the spectrum, but well done.

The White Bone is a book about elephant salvation. It was weird, but in a good way. I’m not sure whether I liked it or not, but it was definitely interesting.

The stories in Black Juice followed me around for days after I read them. The premises are interesting and the execution is superb.

And, finally, I read The Cuckoo Tree, one somewhere in the middle of the Wolves of Willoughby Chase series. I loved the first three or four of those books when I was a kid, so I was excited to learn that there are now more! It’s so cool when people whose work I like write more. Excellent mixture of spies and magic, intrigue and adventure.

Phew! Now I can get back to reading for the summer contest!