Book Review: Hurricane Song

Hurricane Song by Paul Volponi
Click on the book to see which libraries own it.

SUMMARY: Hurricane Katrina is raging and you are inside the Superdome! Miles has only lived in New Orleans with his dad, a musician, for a few months when Hurricane Katrina hits. Father and son haven’t exactly been getting along. Miles is obsessed with football; his dad’s passion is jazz. But when the storm strikes, they’re forced to work through their differences to survive a torturous few days in the Superdome. (adapted from the back cover)

OPINION: I am a big fan of Paul Volponi's book Black and White, which deals with how two boys, one black and one white, are treated in the justice system after commiting a crime. And I have to give Paul Volponi credit for addressing challenging race issues in Hurricane Song as well. However, he is a NYC guy, and it shows. This book seemed very generic to me in its treatment of New Orleans culture, Hurricane Katrina, and life in the Superdome. Maybe I just take in a lot of news, but I didn't really feel like he explored much new territory. However, the father-son relationship was really a driving force in this book, and the way they built a relationship through music added a layer of complexity to this straightforward story. This is a quick read that is a good introduction to the realities of Hurricane Katrina. Check it out if you enjoy contemporary fiction with an urban edge.


Living Like Larry

I recently read a Time article about people who have stripped down their lifestyles, just like Larry in The Gospel According to Larry. One guy invented the "100 Thing Challenge" and is blogging about his purge of stuff. Other people have vowed to only have items they use daily in their homes.

Reading the article definitely made me feel like I have too much stuff! BTW, if you feel the same, box up your old books and items to donate to the library book sale and yard sale. I have three boxes in my garage already! Just ask Mrs. Heise (the secretary) before you decide to bring a carload of stuff over to our garage.


Book Review: I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

SUMMARY: The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women is a fairly typical all-girls school--that is, if every school taught advanced martial arts in PE, the latest in chemical warfare in science, and students received extra credit for breaking CIA codes computer class. Cammie Morgan is a second generation Gallagher Girl, and by her sophomore year shes already fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways with her bare hands. But the one thing the Gallagher Academy hasn't prepared her for is what to do when she falls for an ordinary boy who thinks shes an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, and track him through a mall without him knowing, but can she have a regular relationship with a regular boy who can never know the truth about her? Cammie may be an elite spy in training, but in her sophomore year, she's beginning her most dangerous mission: falling in love. (adapted from the back cover)

OPINION: This book combines James-Bond style spy training with ordinary high school romance in an entertaining and humorous summer read. Despite the extraordinary intelligence and training of the Gallagher Girls, this story definitely qualifies as chic-lit! I really enjoyed the scheming it took for Cammie to evade her school's high-level security to meet Josh in town. (I have a thing for secret passages and bookcases that turn around.) Cammie's lack of knowledge about real boys and relationships creates some hilarious situations as she tries to keep her cover story straight. And Josh is a great guy who is totally worth it. Eventually, though, there arrives the moment of truth...during Cammie's CovertOps exam, no less! Pick this one up if you need a quick and fun read. But if you like more gadgets, action, and bad guys in your spy books, try the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz.

MORE INFORMATION: There is already a sequel to this book, called Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy, as well as a third book to be released next summer. And if you can't get enough of the Gallagher Girls, visit Ally Carter's website!


What I've Been Reading

Well, I have just been sitting around waiting for the baby to be born. And the midwives told me that I have to rest a lot to keep my blood pressure down. So this means I have gotten a lot of reading done! Today, I read two books and tried a third. Here's the rundown:
(Click on the book covers to see which libraries own these books.)

Life Is Fine by Allison Whittenberg
Since Allison Whittenberg is coming to our library this fall (!!!), I thought I'd better read her newest book! The irony of the title was apparent as soon as I opened Life Is Fine. Samara's father was never part of her life, her mother is completely uncaring, her mother's boyfriend has taken over the house, and she has no friends except a chimp at the Philadelphia Zoo. A chance encounter with a substitute English teacher and his random poetry reading gives Samara a glimpse of actual learning, and an actual friend. But this is not one of those feel-good life-changing student-teacher books. Grounded in the realities of urban life, Samara learns to take small steps toward creating and controlling her own future.

Tim: Defender of the Earth by Sam Enthoven
This action-packed sci-fi thriller reads like a summer blockbuster movie: two top-secret experiements backed by the British government rampage through London in an epic battle! One is TIM, a genetically improved clone of the tyrannosaurus. The other is Professor Edward Mallahide, who has mastered the science of nanotechnology by giving himself over to be part of his nanotech swarm. Brawn meets brains, and only one can survive! This is a great summer read that will keep you turning the pages. If you like the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, the Alex Rider series, another action and adventure books, this one's for you.

The Sky Village (Kaimira, book one) by Monk Ashland and Nigel Ashland
I love stories about future societies, and this book's post-apocolyptic scenario sounded promising. Plus, my interest was piqued by the mysterious connection between Mei, living in a sky village in China and, Rom, living in the ruins of Las Vegas. But this book, first in a projected five-book series, ultimately failed to capture my imagination. Supposedly, Mei and Rom each carry a gene that makes them part human, part animal, and part machine. However, the descriptions of this future society were not deep or subtle enough to make me care. I didn't even get halfway through before I stopped reading.


Book Review: Talent

Talent by Zoey Dean
Reviewed by Alexa

Writer Zoey Dean brings readers a story about a middle school girl, Mac, who sets out to find her niche. Her best friend Becks is already an awesome surfer and her other best friend Coco has been training with a famous dancer over the summer. So Mac, feeling out of place, decides to pursue what she already knows, talent scouting. She discovers Emily while Emily is vacationing in L.A. with her mom and best friend. Mac knows Emily's her one big shot, but as everyone else in Hollywood knows, acting is a hard gig to play, and Mac takes you on quite a ride as she wows the directors with Emily! It's hard to imagine that these girls are only twelve and doing what they're doing! But in today's world, things move fast and everyone starts young. Zoey Dean has captured it to a T, and Talent will capture you.