Flashback May 2011

Time to flashback to what I reviewed in May 2011!

Real Live Boyfriends (Yes, boyfriends, plural. If my life weren’t complicated, I wouldn’t be Ruby Oliver) by E. Lockhart. From my review: “Ruby Oliver is now a senior and has a real! live! boyfriend! Everything is terrific, until Noel goes away to visit his brother for the summer and starts acting strange and distant. Ruby handles the situation with her typical Rubyness, which means plenty of humor with the occasional heartbreak. . . . Ruby has a clear vision in her head of what should be and what should not be. Which can be a bit tricky for those who aren’t in her head. Ruby has to work out two things: one, speaking up about what is happening insider her head and vocalizing her fears and disappointments instead of pretending everything is OK, as well as realizing that how she processes things and interacts with people is not the same way others process and interact and that is OK.

An Incomplete Revenge: A Maisie Dobbs Novel by Jacqueline Winspear. From my review: “England, 1931. Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator, is asked to do a routine investigation into a real estate and business purchase. The economic slump had made cases hard to come by, so Maisie is happy for the work and happy to be of assistance to James Compton, son of the family who have been both mentor and employer to Maisie. She discovers a village where petty crimes and small fires are ignored, a village hiding from its dark past.

Small As An Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson. From my review: “Jack Martel, 11, wakes up on his first day of vacation, hot and worried that he’s overslept. He struggles out of his tent, looks around the camp site and sees — nothing. His mother’s tent is gone; his mother’s car is gone. His mother is gone. Jack believes his mother will be back soon. He goes about his day, finds something to eat, plays with some other kids staying at Acadia National Park. But then it’s the next day… and the next day… and Jack realizes his mother isn’t coming back, school is about to start, he has no way to get home to Jamaica Plain and if anyone realizes that his mother is gone, there will be big, big trouble. It’s up to Jack to figure out what to do next. Jack breaks my heart. Jack loves his mother. She loves Jack; she is fun, inventive, energetic, kind. Sometimes, though, she gets caught up in what Jack calls “spinning.” It’s not the first time she’s left for a couple of days, but before at least he was home, in his apartment, by friendly neighbors. Now he has $14 and not much more than the clothes on his back. And, Jack loves his mother. Another kid would go to the police, tell a grown up, call a grandparent. Not Jack. He is afraid that once he does that, people who don’t understand his mother will get involved and split them up. Jack is afraid of losing her forever and tries to keep it together until she returns.”

Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton. From my review: “Silla sits in the cemetery, a book of magic spells before her. Magic sounds crazy. Spells requiring blood sounds insane. For Silla, crazy and insane are words she takes seriously, ever since she came home to find the bodies of her parents and a room full of blood. Crazy, insane, are words said about her father. The police say he killed her mother and then himself. Silla is sent this book of blood magic, in her father’s handwriting. A father who believed in magic, who wrote a book of spells that require blood and herbs and other ingredients (and always, always blood) — is this proof he was crazy? Silla decides: if magic is real, if the spells of her father’s work, it is proof that he was not crazy. Silla cuts her palm, says the words. The spell works. She looks up and sees a boy is watching. Nicholas watches, watches a girl in a cemetery hunched over a book, murmuring words, watches her cut her hand. Nicholas is shocked — because he recognizes what she is doing.”

Memento Nora by Angie Smibert. From my review: “Nora James, 15, was shopping with her mother when a nearby building exploded. She saw the body of a man, heard it hit the ground. Luckily for Nora, she doesn’t have to worry about bad memories and nightmares. All she has to do is go to one of the many TFCs, a Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic. Take a number, wait your turn, tell the good doctor what you want to forget and take a pill. The memories are gone, and a person can continue his or her life, happily ever after. While waiting at the clinic, Nora sees a teenage boy with a cast that has the word “memento” go in, come out — and as she watches, he spits out the pill and mouths the word “remember.” Nora’s mother takes her to the TFC, and shows Nora just how easy it is by going through the process. The memory she shares is not of the explosion and dead body. It is far more personal, and far more world-shattering.  Nora decides she doesn’t want to forget, that it’s important to remember, and only pretends to take the pill. Nora and Micah (the boy in the cast) meet and compare memories. Together, they decide to spread the word that memory matters. Neither quite realize the risks they are running, by questioning the established order.”

Wither by Lauren DeStefano. From my review: I am fascinated by the world DeStefano has created. Imagine a world where, for fifty years, no child born has lived past 25 or 20. Rhine and Rowan were born to “first generation” parents (so, obviously, the genetic engineering also extended fertility); their parents were killed in an explosion and the twins have taken care of themselves, and each other, in the years since. Any child born to subsequent generations will see their parents die. What does that do to people? To a culture? For Rhine and Rowan, it creates a tight bond between the siblings.

Chime by Franny Billingsley. From my review: “Briony Larkin, seventeen, is a wicked girl. Stepmother knew, and tried to protect her, helped Briony keep her secrets from her family and neighbors, tried to teach her to control the witch within. Stepmother is dead, leaving Briony alone to deal with a distant father and sick and injured twin sister. Despite knowing she shouldn’t pursue her witch ways — witches are hanged — Briony sees her sister getting ill and fears it is the fatal swamp cough. Briony goes into the swamp to talk to the Old One there, the Boggy Mun, to beg for her sister’s life. Shouldn’t an Old One grant the wish of a witch?”

Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland by Sally M. Walker. From my review: “The second grave that fascinates me was a body found in the basement of a house, a hasty burial without coffin or respect. Did you know that sometimes people used their cellars not to store food but as a trash dump? An archaeologist explains, “people lived upstairs and dumped fish parts and pig parts and chamber pot contents and goodness knows what else down there.” Imagine that. Imagine dumping that refuse in your cellar. Wouldn’t it smell? How healthy would that be? Why would you do that? And then I thought about Laura Ingalls Wilder and the books where the Ingalls were snowed in for days and days and days. As a grown up rereading the series, I’d wondered, where did they put the trash? Go to the bathroom? Is that why a basement was used as a trash pit? And then… as the chapter reveals… a body was buried in the basement. Treated like garbage. Hidden. Unknown. For hundreds of years, until the secret was revealed. What was it like, to live in that house? To know that body was there?

Divergent by Veronica Roth. From my review: “It is impossible to read Divergent and not think, “what faction would I be in?” I’m too selfish for Abnegation, too cynical for Amity, not blunt enough for Candor, not brave enough for Dauntless, and not clever enough for Erudite. But I like working with others to achieve things, like Abnegation, or keeping the peace, like Amity; I value honesty, like Candor, can stand up for myself and others, like Dauntless, and value knowledge like Erudite.”

Jane Jones: Worst. Vampire. Ever. by Caissie St. Onge. From my review: ” Meet Jane Jones. Mild mannered high school student who is secretly a vampire! A mild mannered vampire, that is. If you think being a vampire means you’re one of the cool, rich kids? Think again. Jane’s not rich. She’s pretty average. Moving all the time to keep her secret identity from being discovered means she has no real friends. She got vamped along with her entire family, so she is forever their protected, teenage daughter even though she really is decades old. And worst of all? She’s allergic to blood. No, really.


4 thoughts on “Flashback May 2011

  1. Small As an Elephant – it was a year ago that I read this book and it still is with me. Oh, Jack! Your heart breaks for him when he wakes up and finds his mother gone and as you follow him on his journey. This is a great book and I hope other discover it. Also a good book to recommend to kids looking for elephant books.

    I’m a fan of the Maise Dobbs books but the last few people I’ve recommended them to haven’t liked them but they didn’t say why. Some are stronger than other but overall I really enjoy them. Have you read her latest one, Leaving Everything Most Loved yet? I’m currently number 54 of 142 holds at the library so looks like it will be a while before I get read it.

    Franny Billingsley – such a brilliant author. You can tell she is a poet ’cause her use of words is precise and there is a lyricism to her stories that match the tale being told and could only be achieved by a poet. I enjoyed Chime but LOVED The Folk Keeper.

    Can you believe I still haven’t read Divergent yet? Guess I’d better get on that before the movie comes out.


  2. Eliza, glad to find someone else who appreciates SMALL AS AN ELEPHANT.

    Much as I enjoy the Maisie Dobbs books, it’s the first one I like best and think is the strongest. But, I think that of most mystery series books. I have the last one, I just haven’t read it yet.

    Can you believe I’ve never read The Folk Keeper?


  3. Liz – I also liked the first Maisie Dobbs book the best but I thought her last one, Elegy for Eddie was close. I liked the character growth shown in this book.

    The Folk Keeper includes one of my favorite mythological creatures though I can’t tell you which one without being spoilery. There are too many books out there competing for out attention. However, when you’re looking for a lovely book to transport you, keep it in mind. Also, it’s only 162 pages – so perfect for your plane/train trip to BEA.


  4. Eliza, I have to double check, I don’t think I’ve read EDDIE yet. And yes, that does make FOLK KEEPER perfect for my train ride!


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