Thursday, March 19, 2009

catching up is hard to do!

Wow. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve updated. I’ve been meaning to update, as I’ve read several books over the past few weeks, but time has been short. There are lots of great things happening with work…which means busy has been my middle name lately!

What have I read lately?

Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt – Actually, I listened to this book. It was excellent! I highly recommend the audiobook. The narrator does an excellent job of putting you in 1968/1969 Long Island and reads so you can easily tell which character is speaking.

Holling Hoodhood is convinced that his homeroom teacher, Mrs. Baker, hates his guts. As the only child in his 7th grade class who isn’t Jewish or Catholic, Wednesday afternoons mean he is the only seventh grader left still at school. Mrs. Baker starts off the year with many mundane tasks for Holling, but then decides that he can learn the great joy that is Shakespeare. Set during the late 60s, the Vietnam War plays a significant part in the tale by looming in the background and its effects on the characters.

This is one of those books that you may find in either the Children's area or with the Teen books.

Ten Cents a Dance by Christine Fletcher – When her mother becomes too sick to keep her packing house job, fifteen year old Ruby quits school and starts working in her mother’s place. Ruby loves to dance. It is what keeps her spirits up after a long day in the Chicago meat packing plant. When she learns of the opportunity to earn better money by being a taxi dancer, she decides to take the job. This places her into a slightly seedy world of dancing with patrons of a dance hall (one dance per ticket – which costs ten cents), and catching – and keeping – “fish”.

Having not heard of taxi dancers, I was intrigued when I first learned of this book. I did enjoy the tale, but thought the end was a little too nicely wrapped up and happy. I did like the author’s note at the end, explaining what prompted her to tell this tale.

Madame Pamplemousse and Her Incredible Edibles by Rupert Kingfisher

Every summer, young Madeleine is shipped to Paris to work in her uncle’s restaurant. Uncle Lard wants to be a famous chef, but unfortunately his concoctions are as vile as he is. Madeleine is a wonderful cook, but, after Uncle Lard figures this out, is forced to only clean dishes and never, ever cook in the restaurant.

While running an errand for a particular type of food, Madeleine comes across the odd little shop of Madame Pamplemousse. Here she ends up buying a small jar of food that changes the luck of Uncle Lard’s restaurant. This prompts Uncle Lard to decide that he must have Madame Pamplemousse’s secret recipes. He sends Madeleine to work with the mysterious woman…and to steal her secrets.

This is a cute book. There are lots of illustrations throughout, and the tale flows very quickly. I enjoyed it.

The Ruby in the Smoke (Sally Lockhart Trilogy, Book 1) by Philip Pullman – This was a quick read. I read it in just a few hours last night. It was a decent enough tale, though I think that the author has a love affair with the word “presently” (opinion comes from reading other books by him as well).

It’s 1872 London, and sixteen year old Sally has lost her father sea in what was supposedly a shipwreck in the ocean near Singapore. After receiving a cryptic note, Sally isn’t so sure that it wasn’t murder. Sally pools her resources and tries to solve the mystery of her father’s death, while also trying to stay alive herself.

I have a paperback copy of Ruby in the Smoke that is free to a good home.

Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott – This was another book group pick. Set in current times, Dani and her mother are thieves. They infiltrate rich communities and steal silver from the wealthy. Dani doesn’t have the love of the game that her mother possesses, but, as it is the only thing she has ever known, she can’t figure out how to get out of the family biz. When mom settles on the small costal town of Heaven as their next hit, several things happen that Dani doesn’t count on – namely, finding a friend in the wealthy crowd and falling for a local police officer.

This was another OK book. It was good fluff, with a pretty predictable ending.

I think that is it!

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