Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Haunting Tale

Just finished Breathe, one of this year's Lone Star picks. Not too impressed. Firstly, I suppose I should admit that I'm not a fan of the horror genre. YA horror rarely delivers. But I have other critiques. The Ghost Mother character came off as bizarre. The motivation for her actions just wasn't strong enough. I might have bought it if the author had tried to portray her as a mentally unstable person, like Misery, but this was not the case. The whole business with the Nightmare Passage was just weird and seemed like too much, especially since it was introduced more than halfway through. Probably could have just left that out altogether. I suppose that made the main character's dealings with the departed a positive experience, but here again, I just didn't buy it. Speaking of the boy, what happened to his weird mannerism? Hmmmm, I guess that just wasn't important once he he got to know the ghosts, huh? Now the asthma condotion of the protagonist was a new twist that I thought worked well in the story. Kids might be able to relate to that aspect or find it at least enlightening. But I don't see anything spectacular about this book at all.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Vacation reading

Last week we went on two vacations: Glen Rose (i know big whoop) and Las Vegas baby! So I got a lot of reading done. Finished Kenneth Oppell's Silverwing. I loved Airborn which was on the Lone Star list a couple of years ago. This book was written much earlier in his career and I can see why it didn't get anywhere as much publicity. It's an animal fantasy centered on bats. Now generally I do love a good animail fantasy. Fire Bringer totally wowed me. But that's neither here nor there. What I'm trying to say is this one did not. Not 100% why- it just didn't satisfy. In fact, I'm not going to spend much more time on it. One thing I'll mention though was it aimed at an elementary audience most likely. I think most middle school readers would react like me.
Moving on now. My second book finished was a larger endeavor- meaning more pages. But I got through it quickly. Was that because I had more time to read being on vacation or because it was actually a book that I had trouble putting down? Hmmmmmmmm hard to say. Aren't I helpful? At some point I might actually get around to telling you the title of aforesaid book- oh hey why don't I mention it know? It was Second Virgin Birth. Did I mention it was closer to home? Not yet. By that I do mean literally. The author Tommy Taylor is a local librarian AND on the HEB ISD school board. Now he's an author, albeit a non-consulted one. Does taht make sense? His wife published the novel without his knowledge- does it make more sense now? Okay, that little fact does play a big part. Hopefully it explains the many grammatical errors I found. I couldn't get past them. Seriously- I was an English teacher. It really does annoy me when educated people don't know how to properly use an apostrophe. I'm trying to be understanding and realize that if he'd actually gone through a publisher that would all have been taken care of. In fact, for a reasonable sum, I'd do it for him.:)
OK I think I need to focus on the actually need to talk about the story now. Quite intriguing premise- a scientist has obtained the DNA of Jesus and decided to bring Him back to life. and since the Pope doesn't like this idea, this scientist and his co-horts are wanted men. That's pretty much all I need to tell you about the story. Well, I will tell you that they manage to implant the DNA in a young girl's egg and create the pregnancy successfully. To me, it read a lot like the Left Behind series and a bit like the Da Vinci Code. If you can get over the errors and get your hands on a copy, it's a good read. Note- mine was a gift and the binding is falling apart after one reading. -you'll have to order one from Amazon.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A Beastly Twist

The most recent book I've finished was Beastly by Alex Flinn, who happens to be a woman. Oops. I was reading a particular paragraph thinking to myself, "Now see, that's exactly where men and women have completely different views on sexism". I flip back to see the info on the author and lo and behold, Alex is a woman. So much for my theory. I guess I have to admit to you all at this point that, yes, I did have an issue with the portrayal of sex and sexism in this novel. Not once, but twice mind you, the author made a disturbing comment about how a school dance is like legalized prostitution. I'll explain this in the context of the reading as best I can: the boy buys the girl a fabulous corsage and gets her a limo to ride in and and treats her like a princess all night. In return, it is assumed he will get what he wants, which is apparently always to ravish her. O.M.G. Reminds me of a disgusting article I read in Ebony that shocked the bejeebers out of me. It was a pro/con debate on why men should pay for sex. I know what you're thinking. What? Why would any magazine publish such trash? No idea, but they did and I read it. The man (and I do use that term loosely) said that in any relationship a man has to buy a woman lots of things to be able to get in bed with her. My jaw did hit the floor. I cannot possibly fathom a world where people think these attitudes and actions are not only widespread and normal, but ACCEPTED. They most definitely are not. I don't know about you, but my life has never resembled the above descriptions. OKAAAAAY, I think I'll get off my soap box now.

So did you actually want to know what the book was about? Ok. I can do that. Well, it's a modern day retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Need I say more? Well, I will anyway. I tend to be long-winded when I write. Beast starts out as your typical most popular guy in school with good lucks and a rich dad to boot. What does this make him? A total jerk. So of course, the night of the aforementioned dance, he is turned into the beast by a mysterious new student (the witch) at school whom he dissed earlier in the story. When his father finds out, he spends months going to doctors to cure this stange disease before giving up on his son entirely. He is moved out of his father's Manhattan apartment and moved to a 5 story house in Brooklyn with the housekeeper and a new tutor who is blind.

With the witch's parting present- the magic mirror, he looks in upon his former friends and discovers the shallowness of their lives- which of course mirrors his own former existence. Ironic, huh? One he returns to frequently is a humble girl who attended his school on scholarship. Their brief connection was when he gave her the crushed rose that his date was not impressed with the night of the dance. She turns out to be Beauty if you didn't see that coming from a mile away. Now this is a stretch, but he manages to entrap her as his "prisoner" when it is her drug-addicted father that breaks into the house. In order to not be killed or have charges pressed against him, this really pitiful father offers up his daughter to the beast. Whatever. So she moves in, eventually falls in love with him cause he's changed and then he has to let her go because her father gets sick months later. But wouldn't you know on the very night his chance to get his true self back would expire if he's not kissed by a woman who loves him, he checks on her with his mirror and sees her in such peril he risks running through the city to save her. And of course she kisses him just in time and saves the day.

I wasn't thoroughly impressed if you didn't get that. It's one of this year's Lone Star books, but I don't know why. I really think it's a high school book. I definitely won't vote for it. But feel free to form and share your own opinion of Beastly.