Tuesday, May 26, 2009

No Angel by Jay Dobyns

Over the course of Operation Black Biscuit, ATF undercover agent Jay Dobyns nearly lost himself into his role of "Bird" Davis, bad-ass biker. Dobyns became so focused on his work attempting to infiltrate Arizona's outlaw motorcycle gang scene that eventually he resented time away - to visit his kids - and he quit returning wife Gwen's phone calls.

This is a good book, and a very engrossing read. It's gives an interesting look at police investigations and also the Hells Angels from the inside. I was especially intrigued by the history, organization, and culture within the HA.

I won't hesitate to recommend this book to either bikers or police-supporters: It's a fair book that clearly shows the appeal these communities have for those who live "outside the law," but it's also clear on why fewer gangs with less power would be a good thing.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Absolute Brightness by James Lecesne

Like Phoebe's life doesn't suck enough, then Leonard moves in.

Phoebe Hertle is pretty wrapped up in the drama of her own life - he parents' divorce, her sister's strange behavior, her mom's beauty shop customers, and even her own dramatic haircolor(s). And then one day this weird loser cousin she's never met shows up at the door to live with them. Leonard marches to the beat of his own conga line, and while he's an outcast at school, he's mister popularity at the beauty shop where he wins hearts and gradually improves the lives of all the regulars. And while Phoebe thinks he's a pest - and worse - she also wonders why he's never tried to "fix" her.

And then one day, Leonard disappears. And that's where this book really gets interesting.

I really enjoyed the personal discoveries and growth that Phoebe experiences during this book. They're real, and not always pretty - just like in real life.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Comfort: A Journey Through Grief by Ann Hood

One day, five-year old Grace Adrain was fine: bubby, funny, goofy, lovable and loved. Forty-eight agonizing hours later, she was dead from a virulent form of strep. And her mother was shattered.

This tiny, beautiful book is Ann Hood's story of losing her daughter and re-inventing life anew.

After Grace's death, Hood can't write, can't read, can't cook, and finds she can hardly breathe. Everywhere she goes, Grace is not. And that will never change.

But eventually, Hood begins to find tiny, elegant ways to live. Shells with butter and cheese for dinner with cucumber slices. Knitting. Writing. And gradually, Grace is still gone, but Ann has returned.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Talk me down

Talk me down by Victoria Dahl

More brain candy. In one week without class, I've cruised through four novels. Two were for teens, and two are total fluff. Sometimes we all just need to take a break and find a mountain town to hole up in. The main character in this book does exactly that. Of course, she has a detour into the arms of her childhood crush, who just happens to be the chief of police.

True love and other disasters

True love and other disasters by Rachel Gibson

OK, you noticed that my last post was a textbook. Even librarians are allowed brain candy once in a while.

This was a sweet story of love between a hockey player and the trophy bride who inherits the team he plays for. Like many paperback romance novels, it was pretty predictable. However, I'd previously read others by the same author and it was nice to see a reappearance of some familiar characters, like Jane, Vlad and Darby.

Early childhood language arts

Early childhood language arts by Mary Renck Jalongo

This book kept me away from all the fun stuff for months. It was the text for a course in Interactive Literacy, but we read it all. It had some great suggestions and I've put many of them to use in library programs already.


Savvy by Ingrid Law

I had a lot of fun reading this book. The Beaumont kids are so extraordinary and yet, they're not. It was fun to see Mibs struggle with the more normal issues of a thirteen year old without losing sight of her savvy (or extraordinary gift). She handled Will's interest in a very mature manner, which would be impressive from a real thirteen year old.

Paper Towns

Paper Towns by John Green

This book was OK. I listened to it on playaway, and just kept wondering when it was going to end. I thought to myself, "If I were reading this, I'd know how many pages were left. If I were listening to it on CD, I'd know how many discs were left." I felt like I was waiting for something to happen. It finally started to get really good when they figured out where Margo was; then it ended.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Coop by Michael Perry

I love, love, love Michael Perry. And I can't stop talking about this book.

This, the latest episode of Mike's autobiographical book series, takes the reader into the imminent birth of the Perry daughter, the imminent arrival of pigs and chickens to the farm, and Mike's attempts to build and maintain suitable structures for animal, family, and vegetable.

It's hilarious, heartwarming, and thought-provoking. You gotta love a guy who writes so elegantly about faith. Or snot. Well, at least I gotta love him. And again, we meet colorful characters and mad-cap situations, all accompanied by an alt-rock/country-blues soundtrack.

Have I mentioned how much I enjoyed this book?

Have I mentioned how much I love Mike Perry?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Punk Rock Etiquette by Travis Nichols

While the book is written for teens starting their own band - and it is a fun, lively how-to book on getting started in music - it's equally entertaining to a non-musician.

I've heard this book described as a graphic novel, and I'd say that's reaching a bit. It does have lots of little illustrations and one section is in comic format, but really the book is mainly text. And I did enjoy the book's tone - it's written very casually, like you're just sitting down chatting with a big brother or mentor who wants to help you through this band junk.

There's a lot to learn here, both as a musician or as a fan. When think some of these things over, it sure makes you reappraise the bands you see performing. What did they give up to get there? And what part do I play in the whole thing?

Savvy by Ingrid Law

Extraordinary kids with special talents - I've read a bunch of these books lately, but I'm still not tired of them. There seems to be a great many of these being written, but also a lot of really QUALITY writing. Yay!

Each member of the Beaumont family has a "savvy" or special super power that reveals itself on their 13th birthday. Mibs' birthday is coming up, and she's dying to see what cool thing she'll be able to do. She's sure it'll be something great. But then her daddy's in a car accident, and Mibs' talent seems less important - or is it?

The book turns into a crazy, madcap roadtrip on a pink bus with a full cast of true characters. Sometimes, the book kind of reminded me of the first Muppet movie - where they're on a mission, but keep getting derailed by crazy circumstances.

Savvy is a quick read - but still funny and heartwarming and full of suspense. I'd recommend it for 6-8th grade readers. Lighter in tone that Percy Jackson, but in a similar genre.

A Hard Day's Death by Raymond Benson

I've been looking for a good "brain candy" series, and I think I've finally found it! You know - nice easy reading, a captivating storyline, but nothing too serious or gory. Just something to consume quickly and then move on, with little nutritional value ... brain candy.

Rockin' Security is known for high-profile guard duty at concerts and for celebrity rock stars. On the down-low, Spike Berenger also branches out into rock-n-roll private eye work. Spike's been all over the music business as a guitarist, manager, and friend to all kinds of big names. Now he's using those connections to figure out who really murdered aging rocker Flame.

I love rock music, and this series really is an insider's geek nirvana. Old grudges won't die, Berenger's slept with every woman in the storyline, and nobody really lives too far from their wild and woolie past glory days. There were twists I hadn't seen coming (but maybe should have), and I enjoyed the fact that each chapter has a track listing - recommended listening, and a foreshadowing of the action to come.

Well-written and fun. This was the first in the series, released in 2008, and the second in the series, "Dark Side of the Morgue," was released in February. I'm going to move on to that one - I hope it's as good!