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Book: The Clearing by Heather Davis
Genre(s): Young Adult Light Paranormal, Romance
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 2010
Paperback: 212 pages

Summary: Amy, a high school senior who’s starting fresh in a new town in the countryside, is having a tough time fitting into the different culture of her new school, and would much rather wander around in the woods behind her Great Aunt Mae’s trailer than hang out with kids in this odd town. On one of her rambles, she finds a mysterious, misty clearing in the woods. When she crosses the mist and meets Henry, she changes his (and her own) life forever. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but suffice it to say that there is something supernatural about the mist and it is instrumental in helping  a sweet romance to sprout–a romance with unintended consequences for all in the story.

To whom will this appeal?: Lovers of romance will flock to this book. While intended for a teen readership, both teen and adult readers will enjoy this book if they like books where the plot unfolds slowly, with a touch of magic, a swirl of romance, and a tinge of bittersweet happy-sadness.

Book: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (first of a trilogy)
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Dystopian Fiction
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication date: 2008
Hardcover: 384 pages

Hunger Games coverSummary: Katniss Everdeen may be a 16 year old girl, but the weight of the world hangs on her shoulders. Not only does she support her mother and 11 year old sister Prim by hunting (illegally), she is the one upon whom will hang the burden of fighting in the 74th annual Hunger Games — a gladitorial fight to which her district must contribute two children to fight 22 others to the death~ all for the entertainment of the Capital. But fighting with her (or is it against her?) will be Peeta, the quiet blond haired boy who saved her life when he gave her some bread, all those years ago. How will Katniss handle her bow when it’s other kids, and not wild animals whom she must hunt?

To whom will this appeal?: Neck-breakingly fast-paced and dark of tone, this book will appeal to the teen or adult who enjoys reading about the possible bleak dystopian futures we may all be facing. While there is some (gallows) humor, know that this book will weigh heavily on you, either creating a need for you to run out and read the next two in the trilogy — or to run away to some lighter fare.

Lovers of romance will find some sustenance here, as Katniss is torn between two amazing boys, (and there are some amazing fashion moments!) but Katniss is most definitely not your average stereotypical sighing-in-love girl.  Think blend of a cup of Twilight and a gallon of Girl with a Dragon Tattoo(Some romance mixed in with a strong, kicking-butt, fighting for survival,  female protagonist).

Book: Nation by Terry Pratchett
Genre(s): Science Fiction, pseudo-historical fiction
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: 2008
Hardcover: 384 pages
Other: Printz Honor book, 2009

Summary: Far away and long ago, in a parallel world much like our Earth, a boy – Mau – is about to become a man by completing the ultimate test of his island Nation — a coming of age ritual in which he must find his way back home after spending a month on Boys Island. Just as his ordeal is almost over, a sudden tsunami destroys his Nation and Mau is left bereft, not even sure if he’s a boy, a man, or a ghost.

In the meantime an English girl — Daphne — is marooned on Mau’s island, by the very same tsunami. Nation is the story of the coming of age of these two teens as they navigate language and cultural differences to help each other — and others — survive and rebuild a very different Nation. Funny and heartbreaking by turns, this book will grab those who venture into its vast world.

To whom will this appeal?: This book will appeal to older teens and adults who enjoy adventure stories with a strong twist of humor as well as philosophy. Fans of Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy are especially advised to run, not walk, to find a copy of this book, as this book will help to slake the thirst that Pullman’s work creates, for the rare combination of adventure, humor, philosophy, deep understanding of human nature, and an understanding of the fragility and simultaneous beauty of the human predicament.

Others who will also enjoy this book: fans of “marooned on an island” adventures, appreciators of multicultural literature, fans of historical fiction, folks who are mesmerized by books such as Lord of the Flies (but wish for a less damning ending).

As far as appeal factors, while the book is indeed faster paced than many a philosophical meditation on the human condition, and at times is in fact a page-turner, this is more a book to be savored than rushed through, so it will be better appreciated by those who like their adventures more on the literary side.

Just strolled around the new book section and picked up these to scan/flip through as I sit at the reference desk:

~The Book of Other People edited by Zadie Smith
~The Importance of Being Kennedy by Laurie Graham
~Laughing Without an Accent by Firoozeh Dumas
~Mistress by Leda Swann
~Making a Difference by Being Yourself by Gregory E. Huszczo

Figure it will help with my Reader’s Advisory skills. :-)

What are you scanning these days?

Recently I asked many friends, both online and off, to recommend one book they had read in the past year. In fact here is exactly what I asked:

hello friends!
I have a request for you… If you could recommend (to me or to anyone else) one book that you read in the past year (loosely defined, doesn’t have to be exactly within the ’08 time span) then what would it be? Who is it by? And why would you recommend it? (The why can be as short or as long as you like. It could even be one word, if you don’t want to write much.)

Linked here for your perusal and enjoyment is the result of everyone’s combined efforts.

Friends, thank you so much for playing the book game along with me!  If you would like to add a book to the list linked above, do fill out this simple form!

P.S. Rajeev Alexander gets the prize (so far) for longest, most thorough review. Thank you, R! :-)

Today I announced that on my coffee break I would be heading to the library across the street to return a couple of books, and possibly even browse a bit… (Hey, I had to remain true to my moniker, despite pressing homework for grad school!)

My co-worker, who is  a 1.5 generation Russian immigrant, and hasn’t visited a library in at least a decade, but loves books, perked up and asked if she could tag along. Read the rest of this entry »

July 2020