Tuesday, October 10, 2006

More YA than you can shake a stick at

Hello my lovelies! Who knew that people besides Dana actually read this thing?

Anyway, I'm serving on the Young Adult Notable Book Discussion Committee this year, and I have a reading list of around 60 books I need to read by the 25th. I don't think I'll get them all in, but hopefully quite a few! (Luckily, 10 of them are ones I recommended, so I've already read those!) Plus, y'all know I love YA books, so there's a few in here that I've just been reading because, apparently, I never grew up. Or when I was a YA I was too big for my britches and read SERIOUS ADULT LITERATURE and am going back and catching up. Or something. Anway, y'all just want to know about the books!

When I reviewed The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs on Amazon, I was torn on how many stars to give this book. On one hand, this tale of too much mother-love, taxidermy and eugenic theory is extremely well written and oddly compelling.

On the other hand, it is so well written that it's exteremly creepy to a point where reading it just made my skin crawl.

Ivy's always enjoyed spending time in the local pharmacy run by the Rumbaugh twins, but that fateful Easter Sunday when she stumbles across their dead mother, stuffed and mounted in the basement near her play area, everything changes. That is when she is drawn into a long-running family curse of mother-love. From then on, she switches between worrying about the inevitable death of her own mother and how this curse is effecting her life and if there is any possible escape.

A dark, creepy tale that's done so well that it should probably be saved for older readers.

One really well-written, and yet light and fun, book is Maureen Johnson's 13 Little Blue Envelopes. Let's just say, that when I started reading this one night and didn't go to bed until I stopped. I just couldn't put it down. At the time, my friend Jack (a real, live British person!) was visiting. Jack was impressed I read the whole thing in one evening but I said it was really good. He looked a bit wary, as, let's face it, it's a bit of a chick book. BUT! Twenty minutes later I turn around and he's a few chapters into the thing! He was saddened when I said it was overdue so I had to return it right away but then he went to the bookstore to look for it! So how's that for a recomendation?

Yes, but Jennie, what's it about? Ok-- So, Ginny's favorite aunt has just died. When she does, Ginny gets a package with 13 little blue envelopes, all numbered. The first one contains rules for the journey and enough money for a plane ticket to London. She's not allowed a camera, a guide book, or a journal. She's just given an ATM card and an address. Once she completes that part, she's given a new task to complete, which usually involves going to a different city in Europe. Engaging, well-written, and really fun and moving all at the same time, I highly recomend this to anyone over the age of 13... and, apparently, it's not just for girls!

I was so dissapointed when I read Search of the Moon King's Daughter by Linda Holeman. It was one of the sample booktalks in The Booktalker's Bible: How to Talk About the Books You Love to Any Audience and... let's just say it was booktalked a little too well.

Emmaline lives a lovely life as a shopkeeper's daughter in a village in Northern England in the 1830s. Then, her father dies and her family (including her deaf, mute brother) is cruelly turned out into the cold when the new shopkeeper comes to town. They move to Manchester (oh! cruel city!) where she and her Mom (who's always been a bit of a drunk and a slut) have to work in the mills. When her mom crushes her hand in an accident, she becomes addicted to opium and sell's Emmaline's little brother to a chimney sweep in London. So, Emmaline goes down to London to find him...


UGH. Seriously? I mean, what else can go wrong in these lives? Although meticously researched, it wasn't well-written enough for me actually care.

In Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah, Adeline recounts the story of her childhood, first being unloved by her older siblings, then being absolutely despised by her evil, cruel stepmother. (Seriously, she shipped her off the Tianjin to be killed in the Communist invasion.) I have no idea why this woman was so cruel, and I'm hoping that her other, more adult, biography, Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter will answer some of those questions.

Although her story does get bogged down quite frequently by lengthy explanations of the Chinese language, it is well-told. I also wonder if these explanations will not seem so tedious to people who didn't spend their undergrad years immersed in the subject. This is also a noteworthy book because although it covers the later-half of the twentieth century (a rather turbulant time in Chinese history) it does not focus on the Communist Revolution or the Cultural Revolution, both of these being far removed from her experience. A good recomendation for both Sino-philes and others.