Wednesday, November 25, 2009

All Wound Up

Unwind, by Neal Shusterman, is a Gateway Readers Award book and a truly riveting and memorable dystopian novel.
Set in the future, when it sounds absurd that "everyone was selecting their leaders not by their ability to lead, but by where they stood on [a] single issue," the life vs. choice battle has been settled with an unsettling treaty.

The book follows three primary characters, but there are multiple dynamic players on the second tier as well. Every character has a purpose, and every character deals with internal and external problems.

By virtue of the plot, the setting changes frequently. Each place is clearly described and charged with atmosphere.

I especially like how the author broaches sensitive topics in a subversive manner. Along with a tone of humane sincerity and an edgy sense for pacing, Unwind offers psychological insights, political and religious food for thought, action, and entertainment.

Gritty, Futuristic Urban Faery Tale

I'm not a fantasy fan, and rarely read books of that genre. However, I've read ten of the fifteen Gateway Award nominee books this year, and I'm not about to stop.

Good thing, too, or I'd have missed this book.

Wicked Lovely is strange, and different, and not nearly as dark as it tries to seem. Seth is lovable, loyal, and just a bit offbeat (sounds like Edward, eh?). Aislinn is independent to a fault, a bit reckless, and more powerful than she realizes. The Winter Queen is unredeemable, and the Sun King is a surprisingly sympathetic character. Donia is probably the most intriguing.

None of this will make sense unless you submerge yourself in this otherworldly tale of an apocalyptic nature. I like the atmosphere of the book best of all.

Warning: drugs are mentioned, sex is involved, and matters of life and death are at hand. Wicked Lovely is written for adolescents, yet does not shy away from these realities of high school.

I give it three stars: unusual is good, but easy ground to falter upon. The pacing was uneven, and the setting and conflict unclear/confusing at first.

If only the author's web page were not under reconstruction, I'd love to learn more about the capricious nomad who wrote Wicked Lovely.

By the way, this is the first book in a series. According to the Amazon reviews, many read it to fill the hole left by Twilight's end.

Monday, November 23, 2009

No Such Thing

This weekend I read Perfect Family, by Pam Lewis, and am already on the waiting list for her other novel, Speak Softly, She Can Hear.

I'd describe Perfect Family as a literary thriller. The characterization is strong, the pacing even, and the denoument just right.

One simple thing that I really enjoyed about this book were the character names. Pony, Tinker, Jasper, William, and Mira were embodiments of their monikers.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Reading, Writing, and Grading

I'm sorry to say that none of the books I've read in recent weeks have been exceptional. (I try to only review books I enjoy, so as not to hurt the feelings of those I hope to one day count as colleagues.) A couple you may find worthwhile are mentioned below. Sorry for the lack of photos and links.

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac was a solid book. It bogged down a bit in the middle, but everything in the story happens for a reason. I'm looking forward to the March release of this author's next book for adults, and I'll be reserving copies of her other two existing books. (Gabrielle Zevin also wrote the script for Conversations with Other Women, a neat conversation-driven movie with the fascinating actress Helena Bonham Carter.)

The Penny Pincher's Club
was a fluff of a story with a whole lot of believable characters. It seemed to be more motivational than entertaining, yet it sticks with me. Sarah Strohmeyer is the author.
Lately, I'm not at all interested in sewing for profit. At first I thought it was a period of recuperation after the intensity of the Strange Folk Festival, but the feeling lingers. I didn't exactly peak, but I reached goals pertaining to creating a quality booth display filled with inventory and a tidy sum to deposit afterward. Now I'm over it. All I want to do is make one-offs for gifts or personal use and return to fitness and writing as my primary personal endeavors.

If this feeling sticks, it leaves me with the question of what to do with my inventory and craft show paraphernalia. Suggestions?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Another Jancee Dunn Book!

Despite its (intentionally) cheezzzzzeeee cover, this book is one I urge you to crack open because it will crack you up!
In But Enough about Me, Dunn writes about her family, her phases, her eccentricities, and her encounters with famous people while working for Rolling Stone, MTV2, and Good Morning America.
In chapters that alternate between personal and professional life, she tells the stories she must have told a million times already.
This was a super-quick, fun book to read.
I reviewed her novel just a few weeks ago.