Bookpile: June 2010

I swear, I think I missed a book from early in the month. Just feels like I have to had read one in there before I started writing up reviews. Can’t remember though. Sigh.

My Sherlock Holmes: Untold Stories of the Great Detective – I made it about a third of the way through this one. Liked the story featuring the first Mrs. Watson (did you know there were two? what?) but I think the other stories would only appeal to people who are really in to the original Sherlock Holmes stories. Bonus that these stories, since they’re told from the perspective of other, minor characters from the Sherlock Holmes stories, aren’t trapped into Doyle’s style, making them more readable. Still, I just couldn’t really get into it much and – benefit of short stories – just dropped it.

Dirty Magic – Fantasy story geared toward the 10-12 age range. Single book, not a series, and honestly, I’m not entirely certain why I picked it up. It sat in my pile for a while before I got to it, so who knows. It’s kids fantasy and sometimes that’s all I need. But, having read it, there’s more to it. Really enjoyed this one – a creative world, strong characters and interesting twist at the end. (It’s got movie-people-will-screw-this-up written all over it.) Joe has crossed over into a world where war is the reality and his life is constantly at risk. His love for machines, guilt over his sister and determination serve him well as he uncovers the reality behind the conflict and comes to realize people are more valuable than things.

Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute – I’m pretty sure I just saw the title and cover and thought this had to be interesting. Then I cracked it open and … it’s a graphic novel! About a lunch lady! Who’s a superhero! Craziness, puns and total chaos ensue. It’s a crazy romp that includes lunch-themed weapons (like a banana boomerang), cyborg substitute teachers, a secret spy lair in the furnace room and three kids who manage to get themselves into the action. Monochromatically colored with yellow and pretty simply drawn. This is not a book for grown-ups but your 8-year-old might love it.

Dork Diaries – Girl version rip-off attempt of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Or, well, that’s the way I felt. And I didn’t really like the Wimpy Kid stuff that much. I have a small problem (part of being a grown-up) with books like this where the kid just never has anything good to say about her (perfectly nice) parents. On the other hand, it’s a fairly realistic showing of a 14-year-old girl’s viewpoint. Except that everything’s spelled correctly and grammatically correct. Ha! Artwork has a real anime feel with the eyes, which was kind of weird, but reflected the purported talent of the main character. There are some interesting options for conversation here with your child to talk about how we treat other people, how our self-image is often quite different from what others see and so forth. It’d be the rare girl who would actually draw that from the story on their own.

The War of Art – This book was floating around while I was in Seth’s program in NY, but I never even picked it up to look at it. Why? Who knows. But after a barrage of “you have to read this” from Clay, here I was. And I whipped through it. It’s a very whippable book. And yet, one you want to ponder over and mull a lot. So, it’s gone back to the library and I’ll be getting my own copy to scribble in. And am telling you to get one too. If you do creative work or wish you were (and you know who you are), this one is for you.

The Brass Verdict – Trying to get back and catch up on what some of my favorite authors have put out and Connelly is definitely one of those. He brings two of his big characters together in this one – Bosch and Heller – when a lawyer is murdered on the eve of a trial. Heller takes over the trial, Bosch is investigating the murder. It’s Heller’s first one after a year off for rehab (in the drug, mental and physical senses) and way more than he had planned to bite off to start with. Add to that the fact that he’s now a potential target, Bosch is as taciturn as ever and it’s a bit of a stressful bag. Told from Heller’s POV and can’t say I’d mind if he keeps these two together in future stories. They make for an interesting pair.

House of Dark Shadows and Watcher in the Woods – First two books in the Dreamhouse Kings series. Got the second book from my friend at Thomas Nelson (with no expectation of review) and realized I need to go back and start with the first. And read a few other reviews to decide if it was worth it and necessary. And, oh yes it is. Thriller series aimed at young adults, so fairly quick read. In fact, I polished the second one off in my three-hour trip home from Nashville last week. Yes, it moves that fast and is just that good. Scary, creepy, totally-cool-I-wish-that-were-real-adventure, Stephen-King-uber-lite. Trying to be enthusiastic here without giving anything away! Let’s just say, the King family is moving to Pinedale and into a highly unusual house and begin a life-or-death adventure no one could have anticipated. Oh, except the dad. He could. I’ve already got the next two on hold at the library and am definitely going to be exploring Liparulo’s books for adults. Recommending for most of my young friends.

Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude – Another one of those things that I have no idea how it ended up in my library. (Seriously. How can I not remember the books I own?) And while I really appreciate the format and layout, I just couldn’t stomach actually reading it. Made it through the intro sections and was pretty much reminded just why we all hate salespeople. And why I and my sales bosses just never really saw eye to eye. And yet, I do see the benefit of being more positive and optimistic about things in general. I just don’t buy the over-the-top, brain-washing kind of approach.

Frankenstein – Put this in my Kindle for Mac and started reading it on my Nashville trip as part of my experiment with not lugging six books on every trip. (So link is to the actual free Kindle version, which was very nicely laid out and easy to read.) Two reasons for having this one – first, continue my education of classics and second, my understanding is that the story we all think we know isn’t actually the one that’s in the book. So I wanted to find out the real story. Only … well, I didn’t make it through the story. My tolerance for that particular style of writing has gone down extremely in the last decade and given how much there is available to read that I find entertaining, I will be scoping out a synopsis somewhere rather than trying to finish is. How disappointing. Hoping the rest of the classic tales I downloaded capture my fancy.

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