A stack of quickie reviews!
The Visconti House by Elsbeth Edgar- a middle grade book I read because someone recommended it in my children's lit class. Laura lives in a creepy old mansion, The Visconti House, in Australia, where her parents have just made her move to. They are artists and have fun artist friends but of course Laura just wants to be normal. Why is it that kids in books are like this? Anyway, she's an outsider because she's new and when Leon, an new boy, shows up, rather than befriend him Laura shuns him too. They slowly become friends as they unravel the secrets of the Visconti House: who built it and why? A book that's not great, nor bad, but you might get annoyed at Laura. She's completely unable to draw the parallel that her parents cool artist friends, that she really loves and admires, would not fit in at her school and that she can be like them or be "normal" but not both. Leon is great though. reminded me a bit of Mark Petrie from Salem's Lot. gotta reread that one! this one is a 5.
Return of the Thin Man by Dashell Hammett- These were weird. When The Thin Man became a hit movie, the studio hired Hammett to write the two sequels, which are published in this book for the first time. He apparently did it for the money but wasn't too thrilled to do so. The two stories published here are less novellas and more like story treatments. They aren't full screenplays, they aren't in that format, but everything is in present tense and there are occasional asides on how staging should go or alternatives if bits won't work. As stories they were fine but I feel like I would have rather watched the movies. There is also a lot about Hammett himself, his relationship with the movies and how those movies were received. interesting but not what i expected. a 5.
Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova- Non-fiction! I actually read this one months ago, like in February. I wanted to like it but that subtitle is a bit misleading. There's a lot of neuroscience and some of the the process by which Holmes does what he does but not much "how to" which is what i thought it was. Interesting but not fab. a 4.
Feed by M.T. Anderson-Scary, shocking, depressing and good! Read for my YA lit class. I forced it on B just to have someone to talk about it to face to face. My professor says, in general, teens love fantasy and hate sci-fi. As someone who's always loved both, I certainly don't get that! Perhaps kids automatically prefer fantasy over science fiction because they have more experience with it? That is, many young children’s stories are fantasy. All those fairy tales, talking animal, and magic item stories give kids a familiarity with the settings, tropes and rules of fantasy. Kids aren't familiar with all the tropes of sci-fi so maybe that's why they don't like it? Are there any Science fiction fairy tales? anyway, a 6.
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau- I was a really strong reader early. My parents also let me read anything. As a consequence, I think I overestimate kids reading ability and their ability to handle what they read. I say all this because I read this book for my YA lit class and I could have easily read it in 3rd grade. It is a fine little story but not a favorite. Ember is a city surrounded by darkness and all light comes from lamps. The lights are starting to flicker and no one knows why. It is up to two kids, Lina and Doon, to save the city. a 5 from me.
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness- Saved my best for last! an amazing book I chose to read for class. I'll post my booktalk summary:
Todd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown. There are no women, no girls, and no children because all the females died just a few months after Todd was born. There was a war with the Spackles, who released a virus which killed the females and made the males hear all the thoughts of the other men and all the animals around them. They call this Noise. Todd thinks he knows how the world is until he meets a girl in the swamp. She has no Noise. Her name is Viola and she crashed in her spaceship with her parents, who died in the crash, the first of a new wave of settlers to New World. Finding Viola sets off a journey where Todd must escape with her from Prentisstown to find Haven, the original settlement. But the evil men of Prentisstown will not let Todd go without a fight and they will follow the pair all the way to Haven if they have to. As Todd runs, he begins to understand that everything he thinks he knows is wrong.It is an adventure book with plenty of action and suspense. It is also very dark, like in a "shit just keeps getting worse and worse" way. I immediately put the 2nd book on my hold list at the library. I give it a 7!
I'll do a graphic novel catchup soon!