Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Handling Sin by Michael Malone

Raleigh Hayes is a solid, conservative, thoughtful, civic-minded insurance agent. He's plotted and planned his life to be risk-reduced and bland - but he's about to realize you just can't count on everybody else playing by your rules.

His divorced, defrocked father just escaped from the hospital, bought a Cadillac, and took off for New Orleans with a young black woman. He's left in his wake a list of crazy, unexplained tasks for Raleigh to perform in order to preserve his inheritance.

The task list pushes Raleigh into a wild, scavenger-hunt-type road trip adventure that will shake up his whole life. Along the way he'll discover friends, family, and (gasp) *fun* that he hadn't planned on.

I found this book by way of a list of "best comic novel" recommendations. It's long (600 pages), but you'll be hooked by Raleigh's reluctant, inadvertent journey.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Things just got weird for 15-year-old Clary Fray - she tried to stop a gang from killing another teen only to find he wasn't really human (he shriveled and disappeared when stabbed) ... and the gang members seem to be invisible to everyone but her. Then, Clary's mom gets abducted and Clary is forced to fight for her life against some kind of demon-lizard.

It's all just the start of a long, eye-opening journey for Clary: turns out she's been missing big pieces of the puzzle that makes up her young life. Her heritage is supernatural, her gifts have been veiled inside her own mind, and the world is much more multi-dimensional than she'd ever suspected.

Add a cute boy or two, some tattoo magic, and mysteries around every corner, and you've got quite a page-turner (although, I listened to the audio). This is just the first in the "Mortal Instruments" series, and it came highly recommended to me by a teen library patron - I'm glad I listened to his advice. I'm hooked!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

by Barbara Kingsolver

Have you ever made a conscious effort to buy locally? Chances are, you have. Kingsolver and her family took that effort much farther and spent an entire year devoted to eating food produced only within a limited range of their home. Much of the food was grown/raised right in her own backyard. As I listened to the book, I couldn't help but think of a friend who really does live this way. She raises chickens and sheep, and grows nearly every plant her family will eat. She also trades with friends who do similar things. This is an admirable process, and many good ideas come from the book, but so many times I thought about how difficult it would really be to fit all those things into my life. All in all, this book was a fun and funny read.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Half-Life of Planets by Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin

Music-obsessed boy meets off-kilter science girl and they immediately hit it off. A friendship forms, but neither is sure how to discuss their interest in the other: she's closed off, he's got Aspergers. But somehow, they understand one another better than anyone else can.

These teens are instantly likeable, and they've got a funny, quirky friendship with just enough tension to keep you wondering how it will end. And the music references - let's just say I laughed out loud more than once: KISS/kiss wordplay, the importance of John Oates, and the impulse control it takes to not follow your instinct when a girl's t-shirt says "Squeeze."

I read it in a sitting. Chapters alternate between Liana's voice and Hank's, so you get a fair balance in viewpoint and a great look inside each character's head. Highly recommended.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Scaredy-cat Splat

by Rob Scotton

Splat is back for another raucous adventure in his newest picture book. This time his goal is to be the scariest cat at school during the Halloween party. It looks as though his plan may be ruined though when he needs a last minute costume change. Tag along for this adventure to see if Splat can best his friends.

The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks

by Rebecca Skloot

This phenomenal book was chosen for the University of Wisconsin's Big Read 2010. Henrietta Lacks was a poor black woman who died in the early 1950's of cervical cancer. However, there is a part of her that is still alive today. Doctors at Johns Hopkins took a sample of her tumor. Within 24 hours, they discovered that her cells were regenerating. The cells have never stopped doing so. HeLa cells have been studied regarding many illnesses over the years, and without them, we would not have a cure for polio, or many other diseases that now seem like a thing of the past.
The story becomes more intriguing when you realize that the Lacks family had no idea of Henrietta's significance to the medical world for over twenty years.