Monday, September 15, 2008

These is My Words by Nancy E. Turner

These is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901, Arizona Territories: a Novel by Nancy E. Turner (1998)

First, let me say I loved this book, eventually. . . and it is "adult fiction".

I borrowed this book on the spur of the moment a couple of months ago (July), and read the first few pages. They seemed rather depressing, and I didn't continue, partially because the book was due by then. However, a week or two ago, I was informed that the author goes to the church I've gone to the last couple of weeks. This book was nominated in 2007 to be the One Book AZ book. (By the way, I'd like to see Veil of Roses by Laura Fitzgerald for One Book AZ 2008!!) So, I tried These is My Words again. It is not easy reading. . . several people die in just the first 41 pages or so. However, by then, I had to know what happened. I have to say that this is the kind of book I've appreciated for years, since I was a kid (historical fiction in journal/diary format).

Wow, I was sorry when I reached the end of the book. Fortunately, there are seq
uals. There are several very sad portions, and some wonderful portions (for instance, I didn't realize the University of Arizona here in Tucson was the first university in Arizona) about the joy of reading and education. Sarah never got to go to school formally, but studies on her own, and eventually passes the 12-grade exams. She moves into Tucson with her husband, even though she hates being in town, so that her children could have the privilege of going to school. She runs a ranch on her own. Sarah is a very strong woman. If you go to the author's website, there are pictures of the woman Sarah is based on. Sarah is based on the author's grandmother's diaries and experiences.

An excellent read! I highly, highly recommend it!

Evernight by Claudia Gray

Evernight by Claudia Gray (2008)

I read this book last week. It is a new teen vampire novel. I enjoyed it more than (*gasp*) Twilight when I read that book when it first came out. The author really sets up a surprise in the middle of the book that I did not totally expect, which made it fun to read. The story starts out with the main character, Bianca Olivier, moaning about having moved to a new school and how she misses the small town she'd grown up in. Now she is in a snooty boarding school where her parents are new teachers, and she has very odd classmates. One of the classes offered is "Modern Technology", where the students learn about iPods and how to program a microwave. It turns out this class is for vampires who are several hundred years old who need a class to learn about technology. I found this rather silly, but the rest of the book was very good. I liked it better than the House of Night books I read earlier this summer. I did not like Evernight as much as the Vampire Academy series (I read the second book in this series earlier this summer.)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Comfort: A Journey Through Grief

Comfort: A Journey Through Grief a memoir by Ann Hood (2008)

"Grief is not linear. People keep telling me that once this happened or that passed, everything would be better. Some people gave me one year to grieve. They saw grief as a straight line, with beginning, middle, and end. But it is not linear. It is disjointed. One day you are acting almost like a normal person. You maybe even manage to take a shower. Your clothes match. You think the autumn leaves look pretty, or enjoy the sound of snow crunching under your feet.

Then a song, a glimpse of something, or maybe even nothing sends you back into the hole of grief. It is not one step forward, two steps back. It is a jumble. It is hours that are all right, and weeks that aren't. Or it is good days and bad days. Or it is the weight of sadness making you look different to others and nothing helps. Not haircuts or manicures or the Atkins diet.

Writing about Grace, losing her, loving her, anything at all, is not linear either. . . Grief doesn't have a plot. It isn't smooth. There is no beginning and middle and end" (52-3).

This a very small, short book, but oh, so heavy. I could not put it down! I saw it a week or two ago on the new nonfiction shelf at one of the branch libraries, and I just knew I had to check it out.

I learned from this book that not only do older people sometimes die of a virulent strep infection, but supposedly otherwise healthy five year old children. I knew when I started this book what would happen. It says so on the book flap.

Ann Hood arrived one day in April of 2002 to pick up her 5 year old (whom she'd had at age 39) daughter Grace from ballet class, and the teacher told her that her daughter had possibly broken her arm. So they go to the ER, where they said yes, it was broken, and that the pediatric orthopedist might want to do surgery, but that is could wait a few days. Grace started running a fever, but her pediatrition wasn't that concerned. However, Ann was concerned and took Grace back to the ER, where they still didn't think anything serious was going on. Two days later, after surgery and intubation, Grace died in her parents' arms, while they are singing her Beatles' song, Grace's favorite music.

This book is about Ann's grief, and how she deals with it. How she deals with it differently from her husband (Lorne). How their son (Sam!) deals with it. How Ann could finally deal with sorting through Grace's things. How she could not tolerate the song "Amazing Grace" anymore. How she gave up her love affair with the Beatles, because all things Beatles reminded her of Grace. How they missed having a little girl, but found, now in their 40s, that they could no longer conceive, even with IVF. How they adopted a baby from China. Annabelle did not, could not, replace Grace, but she brought hope and laughter back into their lives.

Bewitching Season

Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle (2008)

I heard about this book from the YALSA listserv. It is a by a first-time author, and I feel it is very well-done.

It is unlike a lot of other books with fantasy themes. Magic exsists, and amongst the well-to-do families of London in the mid-1800s, when Queen Victoria is about to take the throne. Twins Persephone and Penelope are witches, but no one in society is to be made aware of this. They are also being presented out in society, with the hopes of making good matches for husbands. Their neighbor is also grown up, and showing much interest in Persy. Pen is much more interested in society, while Persy is extremely nervous and upset by the prospect of balls and dinner parties. Meanwhile, their teacher/nanny who was also teaching them magic on the side (and their mother supposedly doesn't know) is now missing, and the two young women are having dreams about where she might be.

This is a well-written book that I highly enjoyed because it brings historical fiction, fantsy, romance, and some mystery together in a fun way.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

White Magic: Spells to Hold You: A Novel

White Magic: Spells to Hold You: a novel by Kelly Easton (2007)

This teen fiction genre novel is relatively short, a quick read. Despite the title, it is not that "magical". It is mostly about a group of three girls finding the power within themselves to get through life and find their places in life. Each chapter is a different point of view (told from the perspectives of Chrissie, Karen and Yvonne with Jimmy thrown into the mix). It is fairly well done, but I had trouble getting into this book. If I were a teen, it might have been a little easier to get into it, but I am doubtful. I liked all of the girls' stories, but it didn't feel like it went deep enough, and felt rushed. Chrissie has just moved to California from Vermont, because her mom is getting remarried, and she is very resentful about leaving Vermont. Karen is in love with Jimmy. Yvonne becomes disillusioned in belief in magic when her wish comes true and her mother finds her, and turns out not to be quite who she always imagined she'd be.