Friday, February 26, 2010

Two Books, One Snowday

I finished another book before I fell asleep last night: The Hollow by Jessica Verday. A note about the book itself: it is 500+ pages with huge margins, a big font, and extra space between lines. I'm sure there was some marketing strategy behind this decision. The fact is, it's not a very long book.

So, the's too bad they didn't wait until the second book was published and put it all together in one volume. Why, you ask? Because what started out as an awesome book just...ended. Abbey is dealing with the death of her best friend, Kristen. There is a mystery surrounding Kristen's death. It remains unsolved. Completely unsolved. Abbey meets a mysterious boy named Caspian. We do get a few answers about who Caspian is--in the last chapter of the book.

"The Hollow" refers to Sleepy Hollow, and Washington Irving's grave, and the stories he wrote, figure prominently into the book.

Instead of being a great book, it is a 500+ page introduction to whatever comes next. I guess I will have to wait for the next book in the series to be published to find the answers I want!

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I just finished Candor by Pam Bachorz, and it is the first book of the year that I can't wait to read with students. What a book--what a story--what an idea. Wow. A perfect complement to Feed and The Giver, Candor adds an element that is terrifying: it could really happen.

Oscar Banks lives with his father in a perfect community--a community his father has created by controlling the thoughts of the people who live there. The parents in Candor, Florida all know what's going on: tired of fighting with their out-of-control teens, they have chosen to move to Candor, where subliminal messages transform their troubled children into model citizens.

Oscar knows what is happening, and he fights against it. But in the end, it's not a story of fighting or mind control or being the perfect citizen. It's a story about what we do for love. Will Oscar make the ultimate sacrifice?

I am still haunted by the looming questions that this book raises. How far will parents go to "protect" their children? How far will any of us go to believe what we wish could be true? We've all been indoctrinated with the idea that "it's our differences that make us special." But are there people who would work to stamp out those differences, and if there are, to what lengths will they go? Troubling stuff, and Bachorz explores it brilliantly in this book.

It's a snowday! Hooray! I'm in the middle of three other books...I'm sure I'll finish at least one of them by the end of the day. Maybe two? Or--dare I hope--all three?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Presidents' Day Two-fer

I finished The Lost Symbol, which is predictably Dan Brown-like. I love that he writes research in the context of fiction, but I have to admit that his ideas seem to be getting stranger and stranger. I have nothing really to say about this. It's a Dan Brown book. Ça suffit.

I also finished Murder Takes the Cake by Gayle Trent. It was a finalist in Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award contest. More important, it was free on my Kindle. First, I will say that I read the whole book. It frequently made me laugh out loud--maybe not always on purpose. Then I will say that today, I went online to see if it had ever been published on paper. Like, by a publisher. It has. I'll stop there.

I started a Jospehine Tey mystery by Nicola Upson last night, but I think I'm mysteried out for a while. I'm heading upstairs to being reading Candor by Pam Bachorz. My goal is to finish before I go to school on Friday. Wish me luck!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Real World Reading

After searching high and low for a copy of Marcelo in the Real World, I finally got my hands on a copy--thanks to my friend Banna of the (wonderful) River's End Bookstore. Both Banna and my friend Sharon--two women for whom I have tremedous respect--have raved about this book, which was rumored to be a contender for the Printz award to boot.

It was an easy start; I liked it at first, but at a certain point, I found myself wondering what was so special about it. It as a fine book, but I didn't think it was great. Until...I kept reading. And it got better. And better. And in the end, it was beautiful. Thoughful. Poetic.

And maybe not entirely believable? But it was certainly true, and for that, I can forgive a lot.

Now I'm more than halfway through The Lost Symbol; I started listening to it on a long car ride, although I should have known better. Dan Brown may not write the most literary novels, but they are certainly compelling. So, back to the hidden tunnels and mysteries of Washington...until next time!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

First February Finish

I slowed down and finished only one book this week: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. If Agatha Christie had written Harriet the Spy, the result would have been this book. I loved it!

No time to blog more; I need to get reading. I'm about to start a book I have been waiting since last fall to read: Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork. I can't wait!