Friday, January 2, 2009

End of the year clean-up

To get a fresh start on 2009, I've decided to lump together all the books I haven't bother to blog about thus far and didn't have enough to say about individually to warrant the effort of writing a post. In other words, I'm cleaning out my blog closet.

My friend, Libby, recommended this post-apocalyptic world/morality tale to me and I was happy to find that it wasn't heavy-handed or tedious. When I have a feeling that a story has A Message, I get bored of it. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld is about a society of people that have massive plastic and reconstructive surgery at the age of sixteen to make them Pretty. They are born with the normal features of humans, but by the time they have the surgery, they are stunningly gorgeous, outside the normal range of beauty. Tally is anxious to have her surgery done, until she meets Shay, who wants to escape out of the city and join The Smoke, a society that survives outside of the authorities control and remain un-Prettied. The story is suspenseful and exciting, examines our preceptions of beauty and questions the government's control over our lives. Loved it and can't wait to read the next one.

For a book about family tragedy, foster care and busybody adults who ruin children's lives, this is an incredibly funny book. Polly Horvath has a way with words that I thoroughly enjoyed in Everything on a Waffle and her character, Primrose Squarp, was a delight to read about. Primrose narrates and shares recipes, explaining her undying certainty that her parents are not dead, but merely marooned on an island somewhere, despite every single adult she knows telling her otherwise. It takes place in New England and her town has a collection of quirky characters who help and hinder her along her way. Thoroughly enjoyable read for the 8-12 age group.

Lemony Snicket is still writing, apparently and The Lump of Coal is his latest brief story of a walking and talking lump of coal who is trying to find his purpose. It was a strangely poignant and tender story about miracles, despite Snicket's normal gloomy outlook. I was touched by the ending:

It is a miracle if you can find true friends, and it is a miracle if you have enough food to eat, and it is a miracle if you get to spend your days and evenings doing whatever it is you like to do, and the holiday season like all the other seasons is a good time not only to tell stories of miracles, but to think about the miracles in your own life, and to be grateful for them, and that’s the end of this particular story.

Worth the five minute read that it was and since he got Brett Helquist to illustrate it, doubly worth the look-over.

My seven-year-old daughter is absolutely in love with Jenny Nimmo's Charlie Bone books and once my husband started requesting me to get him the books on CD from the library, I figured it was time to see what the fuss was about. The first book is Midnight for Charlie Bone and I devoured it. It fills a nice little spot in my Harry Potter-loving heart and with eight books out there so far, it'll be some fun reading for a while. Jenny Nimmo has her own way of writing that differs greatly from J.K. Rowling's, but you can't help but compare Charlie to Harry. Very different tune, but it strums the same strings. Charlie finds out that his is endowed with the ability to hear what the people in pictures are saying or thinking and is shipped off to a special school for children with these kinds of abilities. He starts to unravel all sorts of mysteries about his family and the founder of the school. It's a great book for any age of readers who loved Harry Potter.

Speaking of Harry, I scooped up a copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard at the library the other 141day. It's said to be translated by Hermione Granger from the original runes, with commentary by Albus Dumbledore and J.K. Rowling. The tales are meant to be children's stories for wizard families, like Goldilocks and the Three Bears is for Muggle families. It was fun to read the tales that Rowling, er, I mean Beedle, based so much of the last Harry Potter book on. Even more fun was Dumbledore's commentary and explanations, which were done in his signature way. Makes me consider telling those stories to my children in addition to the normal Cinderella, Three Little Pigs, etc. that Muggle children know so well.

Ahh, I feel so much better getting those out of the way. Now, I think I will get out of my jammies and get some reading done. There's a whole year of reading ahead of me!


  1. I'm glad you liked the Uglies. I liked it too, but I loved the Pretties. However, I was a bit disappointed by the Specials (the last book of the trilogy). I started Iodine but haven't really been able to get into yet. Then again, I have a lot of personal stuff going on and so I've been reading scriptures and the Ensign and that's about it lately.

  2. Jenny, you hit on several books that I've been meaning to read for a while, so it was fun to be reminded of them. I'm glad you liked them too. If I get it from enough sources, eventually I'll get around to reading them myself!