Saturday, October 24, 2009

Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie by Kristiana Gregory ***

I'm yet again reviewing a book for kids, but this is again because I've been working at my son's school library once a week & it's hard for me to not start perusing the titles in my spare time.

This book is part of the Dear America series, which seems to basically be fictional diaries of different young women thru the history of our country. This one is based in 1847 & is subtitled The Oregon Trail Diary of Hattie Campbell.

It's a very quick read & does a good job of describing the difficulties of the people who attempted the trek west back in the day. I'm sure the author used as sources some of the real diaries that exist from back then & blended them into the story she came up with. I think it's especially good since it also touches on things that any 13 year old girl would be thinking about: boys, dresses, worries about younger siblings, being tired of said siblings, etc.

Overall, a good book about a very interesting topic.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd ****

This book is part of the growing genre that have people with Asperger's as the hero of the story. Ted (love that name!) is the boy at the heart of the book. He & his sister Kat try to solve the mystery of what happened to their cousin, Salim, when he didn't come down off the London Eye.

The book is written for kids, but as all good books are, everyone will enjoy it. It is a true mystery & I couldn't figure out the ending at all before I got to it.

While getting my picture of the book's cover for my blog, I happened to read Ms. Dowd's brief biography. I was very dismayed to see that she died of breast cancer not long after this book was published in 2007. Cancer sucks--that's all I can say.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult **

I'd never read a Jodi Picoult novel before, so when I saw this one in a pile of books my mom was getting rid of I took it home. The basic premise is the anatomy of a high school shooting, from the morning it happens, then jumping back in time & then forward from that day. The idea seems good, everyone wonders what goes through the mind of a teen who decides they can't take it any more & will kill their school mates. But I felt there were many flaws in this book. Some were just me being nit-picky, like finding four really obvious editing problems ("he" instead of "she", referring to something that wasn't possible in the time line given, etc etc), but some others were just things left unsaid. I wanted to know a little more about some of the characters, & I really wanted to sympathize with the shooter but had a hard time doing so. I guess I just wasn't that into the subject, maybe, but I kept wanting the teens to get over the popularity thing & get on with their lives.

I was disappointed in the book in general--it seemed like the kind of book that an author rushes to finish because of commitments to the publishing house. I still would like to read some of her other books, though, because I fear this one didn't do her justice.