October 5, 2015

The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen

by Katherine Howe
First sentence: "The cafe in the basement of Tisch, the art and film school at New York University, was redecorated this year."
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Review copy snagged from the ARC shelves at work.
Content: There's talk of teenage drinking (and some actual), plus drug use. There's also one almost-sex scene. It's in the Teen (grades 9+) section at the bookstore.

There is no way to write this, I think, without spoiling the premise. If you choose to go into this without knowing what it is, then you should probably stop reading now.

Wes is at NYU for the summer film workshop for a reason: he wants to transfer from the University of Wisconsin-Madison to NYU because Madison is, well, small. Constricting. The Same. He needs something different, and he Knows he can find it in New York City. (Well, can't we all?) He's out helping one of his friends, Tyler, film an art film at a seance when his life really changes: he meets Annie and Maddie. They're edgy, they're different, they are most definitely not from Wisconsin. And as Annie pulls Wes into her story (and he gets more tangled up with Maddie), he discovers that maybe the life-changing event he thought New York would offer him isn't going to be in film school.

I'm going to say it, even though Howe danced around it: this is a ghost story. And, as such, it's quite good. I liked not knowing that Annie was a ghost for a while -- it took the whole first section for me to figure it out, though there's a pretty big clue at the end of the prologue. I liked Wes's discovering of her story, and how Annie flitted back and forth in time. I liked Howe's historical detail; it's most definitely something she excels at. And I thought the love triangle-ish thing between Wes, Annie, and Maddie was unique as well.

The only thing that really bothered me was that Howe refused to call a spade a spade. She never, once, admitted, in words, that Annie was a Ghost. She was a Rip Van Winkle. Every time it came up, they dodged the bullet. It got old. Just say she's a ghost, please.

But, other than that, it was an intriguing weaving between past and present, and a unique way to look at ghost stories.

October 4, 2015

First Sunday Daughter Reviews: September 2015

I got distracted this morning and forgot to put this up partially because Hubby was gone and I didn't sleep well and partially because I was busy making cinnamon rolls. Because that's what you do when your husband is gone.

I did eventually remember... better late than never, right?

Also: it's October! Which means Cybils time. I'm hoping to hold my own on the Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction category. I think if I read half the books, I'll be doing good. BUT, we need your nominations!  You don't have to be a blogger to nominate. You just have to have read a book that was published in the past year (from October 16, 2014 to October 15, 2015). Please take 15 minutes and give us some good books to read!

Onto the kids... K and Hubby started reading this:

Which makes my heart happy. K loves Batty (I knew she would) and even Hubby's enjoying the story line.

A picked up this on a whim (I think M recommended it to her ages ago):

She loved it. She kept saying it was really hard to explain to all her friends how INTENSE it was. It seems I've got another Shannon Hale fan in the house.

I threw this at E
and she says it's really good so far. Reminds her of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.

And C is inbetween books because of being in the school musical (which is FAME this year. And if you didn't sing "I'm gonna live forever" I will be sad). But she's really looking forward to the poetry unit in her language arts class. They started with this slam poem, which she really thought was intriguing.

What are you reading?

October 2, 2015

Honor Girl

by Maggie Thrash
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: There's about a half-dozen f-bombs scattered throughout the book. It's in the teen graphic novel section of the bookstore.

It's the summer of 2000, and Maggie is 15. She's been going to the same summer camp in Kentucky -- Camp Bellflower -- since she was little, the same camp her mother and grandmother both went to. There was a lot of tradition in the camp, including that of Honor Girl: the one senior camper that was supposed to embody all the Tradition of the camp.

There are very few books, I think, that truly capture what a 15-year-old girl is really like, in all her angst and insecurity. And Thrash's graphic memoir hits the nail on the head. It's spot-on. From the drama between her and another girl over who will get their shooting D.E. (a mark of excellence) first to the rumors that fly around the camp about anyone and everyone. But, for Maggie, her summer is wrapped up in a crush she has on one of the counselors, Erin. Does she like Maggie back? Is Maggie even supposed to like one of the counselors? What does it all mean?

The answer is, ultimately and honestly, that she doesn't know. There is no grand Coming Out moment. There are some moments when I wanted to smack those running the camp, when they discriminated against Maggie for exploring who she is. But, mostly, it was just one slice of a moment in time, when a girl fell in love and didn't really know what to do about that. And that was something I found I could relate to.

I'm glad Thrash decided that her story needed to be told.

September 30, 2015

September 2015 Wrap-Up

I honestly forgot that today is the end of September. Seriously. No idea what day it is, beyond the day of the week.

Except that tomorrow is the Official Start of Cybils Season! Which means, I really should be keeping track of the days. This year, I'm back on round one of Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction, which makes me happy. It seems that our panel is full of very intelligent, chatty people, which also makes me happy.

I'm also hoping for (another) bout of insomnia tonight, so I can be up when the nomination form goes live and can get my favorites in right away. If I don't, it won't happen until I'm off work, and by then it might be too late. But then, I'm obsessive that way....

My favorite this month? Not an EMGSF book (though this may be the last month for that), but rather this:
Walk on Earth a Stranger
So good.

As for the rest:

Middle Grade
The Blackthorn Key
Full Cicada Moon
The Thing About Jellyfish

Adult Fiction
How To Be Both (audio book)
My Brilliant Friend (audio book)
A Room With a View

What was your favorite this month?

September 28, 2015

Audiobook: How to Be Both

by Ali Smith
Read by John Banks
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: There's probably six or so f-bombs spread through the whole book. It's in the adult fiction section of the bookstore.

I knew very little about this book before picking it up, only that it made for an excellent book group discussion in one of the book groups at the store, and that a couple people on staff really loved it. It was enough for me to use my last audiobooks.com credit to get the audio. The other thing I knew was that this book is two novellas in one, and that half the books printed have one first, and the other half are reversed. You don't know, previous to picking it up, whose story you will get first.

The two stories are interconnected looks at art and perception. One is contemporary, the story of a mother-daughter relationship. The other is a stream-of-consciousness from the perspective of an Italian Renaissance painter in the 1400s. I really don't want to say much more than that, except I read it Camera-Eyes, and I thoroughly enjoyed the way the two stories weaved together. It gave me much to think about.

Also, once I got used to the narrator (and the book), I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this one. I enjoyed his style, and that he didn't try to do falsetto female voices. Everything was pretty matter-of-fact, which took a bit to fall into the groove with, but once I did, was quite lovely.

An excellent read.