Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Jacob, now a 90 or 93-year old man (he can't rightly remember) recounts his life in the circus as a vet. He talks about life on the train, stopping and starting unexpectedly, and the elephant they acquire that requires the working men to go without their wages. The politics and attitudes of each of the circus riff-raff Jacob comes into contact with are vividly portrayed on every page. There is drama, a love story, adventure, and danger at every turn.

Water For Elephants is a well-researched fictional piece of work. Gruen has pulled events which actually happened in circuses around the country, especially during the 20s and 30s. The pictures included at the beginning of each chapter help illustrate the story being told, and the chapters that alternate between Jacob's present and past are great opposites. A fascinating read.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Book of a Thousand Days, by Shannon Hale

Dashti is a mucker who has had a hard life. Her father gone, her brothers abandoned her and her mother, shortly before her own mother passed away. Dashti must now learn how to fend for herself. As she heads into town, she sells her possessions to gain employment, and learns how to be a lady's maid.

But on the day she is to enter Lady Saren's service, something awful happens. Lady Saren's father is very displeased at Saren's refusal to marry Lord Khasar, and locks her in a tower for seven years--Dashti along with her. As three of those years pass, Dashti decides no one will save them, and they must do it themselves. With her determination, she is sure they will survive.

This story is based on Maid Maleen, a fairy tale recorded by the Grimm brothers. There are elements of fantasy at play, but the majority of the story is about a girl's determination to overcome circumstances out of her control. The beginning is slow and not well developed, but the rest of the story is worth the beginning.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

I know most of us have had thoughts of suicide at one time or another. Do you know anyone who actually went through with it? I hope not.

Clay, however, does. The girl he had a crush on for quite a while committed suicide, and two weeks later, he receives a package of tapes on his porch. He puts the first one in, only to hear Hannah's voice telling him that he has seven tapes--13 sides--of reasons why she killed herself. Each side is a reason, and each side is devoted to one person. Clay listens to each tape as he slowly follows Hannah's last thoughts to completion.

This is told in Clay and Hannah's voices, alternating. Unlike other alternating voice books, however, this book has both characters speaking throughout the novel. The story is very powerful.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Prom Nights From Hell, various authors

Prom Nights From Hell tells 5 stories of different prom nights. "The Exterminator's Daughter" by Meg Cabot; "The Corsage" by Lauren Myracle; "Madison Avery and the Dim Reaper" by Kim Harrison; "Kiss and Tell" by Michele Jaffe; and "Hell on Earth" by Stephenie Meyer.

Each story has its own sense of paranormal, and romance along with it (it is Prom afterall!). There are bad guys, good guys, a battle, and a little attraction thrown for the mix. Each story is different but well written.