Sunday, October 30, 2011

In Which I Run Out Of Steam

My children would tell you that this has occurred because the house is so cold that the only thing steaming is their breath, but I refuse to turn on the heat until November 1st unless the temperature dips below 55. It's been 56 all weekend. I also have a Book Fair induced cold, complete with a sore throat, and although it is a gorgeous fall weekend out, all I want to do is sleep. Therefore, while I have read a number of books, my germ-addled brain has taken but the most desultory overview of them. This is actually not a bad way to determine the value of books; I was struck by the quality of writing in them even though I now remain unable to give a sufficient plot synopsis.

Look's Alvin Ho: Allergic to Dead Bodies, Funerals and Other Fatal Circumstances was quite delightful, although too young for my own library. I enjoyed how the unlikely circumstances almost made sense, and was only slightly put out by Alvin's occasional misunderstanding of terms, such as the Odd Sea for the Odyssey.

Nikki and Deja's Election Madness by Karen English was also interesting, although I always have trouble with books that put a lot of emphasis on class presidential elections, since I don't know of anywhere these still occur. This looks like a nice series for younger readers, but the present tense narrative wasn't something I liked.

I thought that Chris Raschka's Seriously, Norman would be a good funny book for middle school boys, but it went a bit over on the quirky meter for me. I'd take a look at this one first; it might be one for your library.

Eames' The Dagger Quick was a great historical pirate romp, complete with intrigue and adventure. Eames did a very good job at keeping the dialogue and setting true to the period; the only slight anachronism was drawing a smiley face on a barrel. Would people have done that? Maybe, but wouldn't have used the term smiley face, perhaps. Spent most of yesterday reading this one and felt quite swashbuckling by the time I finished. Laundry? Why do I have to do that on the pirate ship?

 Falkner's The Project and was slightly disappointing. It wasn't Brain Jack, which was so very good. Good, but without the technological component that made Brain Jack so fabulous.

Two problem/quirky novels that came across my desk were Lewis' Wild Wings, which failed to really capture my interest even though it was set in Scotland, and Schmatz' Bluefish, which I read all the way through even though I don't think any of my students would ask for this sad but ultimately triumphant tale of two troubled and disadvantaged students who count on each other to make it through tough times in their lives.

Kathryn Miller Haines' The Girl is Murder was pure fun for me. Iris' father has been injured in the bombing at Pearl Harbor, her mother has committed suicide, and things are generally grim as Iris has to adapt to a new public school where the students are much grittier than they were at her private school. Since her father's detective agency is not doing well because of his injury, she tries to help him out, especially when one of his cases concerns a boy from her new school who has gone missing. The mystery in this was a bit weak, but I reveled in the details of daily life during WWII; the clothing, the teen culture, the slang. Gave this one to Teen Daughter to read.

When I am doing my normal reading for school and blogging, I go through a lot of books that I don't review because they don't quite strike a chord with me. For the Cybils, I try to read the books completely and review every one, but that is rather hard. There are 145 books in my category, and I have read 109 of them, most of which I reviewed. I'm waiting on a few more reserves, but hope that some review copies start coming in, especially of some of the good looking Canadian titles.

I try to tell the children that it will be warmer if they take a nap. I may follow that advice as well!


  1. Ha, I'm trying to hold out until December 1st! It's dropped well below 50 here, but my apartment is insulated with books, so the temperature inside hasn't gone under 60 yet.

    Half our staff at the library is sick - I think we need to move our staff workday. Every year, we close the library for the third Friday in October to do projects which always involve dusting. The next week, most of the staff get sick. Coincidence? I think not!

  2. I broke down and turned on the heat twice this week. I thought my 2 year old's body couldn't take the cold night even in comfy blanket sleepers! Before kids we would try to make it to Thanksgiving before we cranked the heat.

    Nice reads ... I will have to check for Girl is Murder. Sounds right up my alley.

  3. I loved the first book in the Nikki and Deja series, but didn't care for this last one. Deja wasn't a very nice friend.

    If you haven't read it already you should check out Latasha and the little Red Tornado by Michael Scotto. It comes out in Nov. but I think its still on netgalley.