Friday, June 19, 2009

look me in the eye by John Elder Robison

This is an Abe Lincoln book.... It was good, but not great.--Janine

From Booklist*Starred Review* If one looked at only Robison's impish sense of humor (he once ordered a blow-up sex doll to be delivered to his junior-high-school teacher—at school), or his success as a classic-car restorer, it might be impossible to believe he has the high-functioning form of autism spectrum disorder called Asperger's syndrome. Clues abound, however, in his account of a youth encompassing serious inability to make and keep friends; early genius at pyrotechnics, electronics, and math; and pet names such as Poodle for his dog and Snort and Varmint for his baby brother. Much later, he calls his wife Unit Two. It is easy to recognize these telltale traits today, but Robison went undiagnosed until he was 40. In the 1960s, he was variously labeled lazy, weird, and, worse, sociopathic. Consequently, his childhood memories too often read like a kid's worst nightmares. Not only did his parents fail to understand the root of his socialization problems but they were also virtually as dysfunctional as the pair Augusten Burroughs portrays in Running with Scissors (2002). 'Nough said? Not nearly. Robison's memoir is must reading for its unblinking (as only an Aspergian can) glimpse into the life of a person who had to wait decades for the medical community to catch up with him. Chavez, Donna

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Happens Every Day by Isabel Gillies

This book was a quick read... nice pick for faculty!--J. Asmus

Isabel Gillies had a wonderful life -- a handsome, intelligent, loving husband; two glorious toddlers; a beautiful house; the time and place to express all her ebullience and affection and optimism. Suddenly, that life was over. Her husband, Josiah, announced that he was leaving her and their two young sons.
When Josiah took a teaching job at a Midwestern college, Isabel and their sons moved with him from New York City to Ohio, where Isabel taught acting, threw herself into the college community, and delighted in the less-scheduled lives of toddlers raised away from the city. But within a few months, the marriage was over. The life Isabel had made crumbled. "Happens every day," said a friend.
Far from a self-pitying diatribe, Happens Every Day reads like an intimate conversation between friends. Gillies has written a dizzyingly candid, compulsively readable, ultimately redemptive story about love, marriage, family, heartbreak, and the unexpected turns of a life. On the one hand, reading this book is like watching a train wreck. On the other hand, as Gillies herself says, it is about trying to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness, and loving your life even if it has slipped away. Hers is a remarkable new voice -- instinctive, funny, and irresistible.
I thought it was a good read--Janine

A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb

Another book in an increasingly popular format - books that are narrated by the dead, this story is told by Helen, who has been dead for 130 years, but whose spirit is sustained by attaching herself to a human host, as of late, an English teacher named Mr. Brown. Helen becomes suddenly aware of James, the disembodied spirit of a young man who has died years earlier. He too has attached himself to a human host, Billy, a teenage boy. James and Helen fall in love. So Helen searches for a more appropriate host that will enable James and Helen to continue their romance. A compelling novel with a twist at the end.

Fat Kid Rules the World by K. L. Going

I loved this book for its honesty and a plot twist that blew me away....the fattest kid in school and the coolest kid in school become friends and form...a band! Troy is 300 pounds of sweaty, unhappy insecurity who is contemplating suicide in the NYC subway station. Curt is a charismatic, punk rocker/dropout/homeless kid who stops him, befriends him, and somehow sees beneath the layers of Troy's fat the future drummer of his new rock band. Don't miss the part when Troy takes the stage for the first time!

Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway

Within a few weeks after their breakup, Audrey’s boyfriend, Evan, writes and performs a rock song about their split that catches the attention of a music executive and catapults Evan and his band to stardom. Because she is the song’s subject, Audrey suddenly becomes a celebrity, too, and over the course of a school year, she finds herself dodging paparazzi, rock stars in search of a muse, and star-crazed classmates. Audrey is a very likable character that exhibits quite a bit of integrity considering the sudden advantages available to her. Audrey surprises everyone when she goes live on MTV! A very humorous and grounded look at fame and teen romance.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd

The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd

Ted and his big sister Kat, take his cousin Salim to the London Eye(a HUGE ferris wheel). Salim boards the capsule and seemingly disapears into thin air. Ted and Kat try to solve the mystery and find their cousin. Ted is very intelligent, but has a "funny brain", (Aspbergers maybe?)--between his brains and Kat's sneakiness they investigate the disappearance--did Salim get on the Eye? Did he disguise himself? Was he kidnapped? Did he run away? This book reminded me of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time--a mystery solved by a boy whose brain works differently and views the world differently than "normal" people. This is a good mystery, there is suspense, humor, cross dressing--a very entertaining read.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bad girls don't die by Katie Allender

Bad girls don't die by Katie Allender

Alexis, the high school bad girl, outsider, challenger, rebel, thinks her life is pretty normal. Then, her doll obsessed little sister Kasey, starts acting strange, using old fashioned words, stealing homework, and her eye color keeps changing. Alexis is also experiencing strange things in her house, doors slamming, lights flickering, cold spots, and appliances turning on and off on their own. Is her sister possessed? Is she going crazy? Can a Buffy-like cheerleader help her? Will she get a boyfriend? Can she perform an exorcism? This is an appropriately creepy story, that might have some appeal for Twilight fans, but more geared toward readers of Repossessed, or readers looking for a creepy occult story.

The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
This is the last installment to the Percy Jackson series. This is a fabulous adventure that takes classic Greek mythology and puts it in the modern world (Mount Olympus is on the top of the Empire State building). Percy Jackson,15 year-old, son of Neptune, is a demigod and hero, who thinks he is fated to sacrifice himself on his 16th birthday to save the world from Titan control. Epic battles, soul searching, love triangles and incredible monsters make this a wild and satisfying read--it is also really humorous! Get students started with The Lightning Thief, the first book in the series. This is a good book for adventure readers, Harry Potter fans, fantasy readers and students looking for a laugh.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Undiscoverd Country by Lin Enger

I really enjoyed this book. Teaching this book side by side with Hamlet would be the way to go. It appeals to teens and adults. --J. Asmus

"School Library Journal (February 1, 2009)
Adult/High School-In his most famous soliloquy, Hamlet speaks of that dread of something after death, 'the undiscover'd country, from whose bourn no traveler returns,' and this dread is realized beautifully in Enger's debut novel. While hunting deer in the northern Minnesota woods on a cold November afternoon, Harold Matson dies of a single grisly gunshot wound to the head. The local officials deem the death a suicide, but 17-year-old Jesse is convinced that his Uncle Clay is responsible for his father's death. The teen is visited by his father's ghost, has a girlfriend whose personal torment could give Ophelia a run for her money, and a bumbling/developmentally delayed relative (Clay's brother-in-law) who knows the truth about two murders for which Clay was responsible. But the elegantly written novel amounts to much more than just its allusions: Enger has taken a classic tale of betrayal, murder, justice, confusion, and forgiveness and created a story that will appeal to any teen who has experienced love and loss or grappled with dark family secrets. Readers might be left wondering what Hamlet would have been like had he survived. Less tragic perhaps, but he would have had an abundance of material for a career as a writer.-Jennifer Waters, Red Deer Public Library, Alberta, Canada Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information."

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin

Living with an viscious, manipulative, and violent mother has taught Matthew how to survive and shelter his younger sisters from their mother's abuse. And then one day, a ray of hope:

"For me, it all started when I saw Murdoch stare down an angry father twice his size who was about to start pounding on his son. I heard him tell the little boy that no one had the right to hurt him, no one, not even his father. I'd never heard anyone say that before. I was thirteen years old, and what I thought I knew was that no one could be trusted. Especially the people who said they loved you.

"I was about to learn that I was right. And that I was wrong." 

This book is about a group of people, ordinary in their lives and demeaner, who, when confronted by evil have the courage to stare it down. As Murdock explains to Matthew, quoting the great bard himself, "Some are born great, some achieve geatness and some have greatness thrust upon them." Mathew and Murdock were not looking for greatness, nor were their family and friends, but each achieve it in their own way, in the the nick of time.