Monday, April 29, 2013

The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

The Orphan Master's Son
This extraordinary book gives the reader a glimpse into life in a very isolated country - North Korea. We follow the life of Pak Jun Do as he supervises orphans, learns how to fight in dark and cramped tunnels, works on a boat that kidnaps Japanese people off their beaches, and is subsequently taught English. He is then put on a fishing boat to monitor and transcribe radio transmissions. An unfortunate event on that boat caused him to be put into a mine prison where he kills and takes the identity of Commander Ga, the minister of prison mines and husband to the national actress, Sun Moon. To fit in with the fishermen who had tattoos of their wives on their chests, he put a tattoo of the actress on his chest, not imagining that he would ever meet her.

All through the book we see examples of life in a totalitarian country. Every home has a loud speaker wired in that broadcasts propaganda at any time of the day and night. Children grow up with only the stories they hear from this source. Everyone is in constant fear of being reported for the slightest infraction. Old people without family to take care of them, are killed by having their blood drained. And the prisons! The prisons!

This book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Deservedly so.

My rating for this book: 

Angels in America, Parts I & II by Tony Kushner (1993)

Angels in America
 Part I and Part II of this play take place in 1985, just as people were learning about AIDS and how it was transmitted. It was a very terrifying time for homosexuals since they not only were the ones most commonly afflicted, but it gave others additional reasons to fear and hate them. So many gay people have enough problems with being gay without the added stress of a fatal disease threatening them. Our cast of characters are composed of four homosexuals and members of their friends and family. We see how this illness affects them as well.

This play won the Pulitzer prize in 1993 and if you are interested, HBO produced it for their network and should be available to watch.

My rating for these plays: 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

Etiquette & Espionage
I have enjoyed the adult series by this author called The Parasol Protectorate which features vampires and werewolves in Victorian England. This book takes this already fun format and ramps up the steampunk aspect of it a few dozen notches!

Sophorina is the youngest in a family of girls and when a mysterious Mrs. Barnaclegoose shows up one day offering to take her to a finishing school, her mother is happy, if a bit perplexed, to let her go. Sophorina is such a tomboy, it's hard to imagine anyone could attempt to teach her manners. She packs up a few things and is off. They don't get very far when they are attacked by flywaymen in airdinghies. They are after a prototype and thinks it is in their carriage. They get away thanks to Sophorina's quick thinking and bravado.

The story continues and we learn about Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality which is suspended in the air by multiple inflated balloons. We meet the young people who surely will factor in future stories and learn about this wonderful steampunk setting.

I highly recommend this to lovers of action, steampunk, or just something completely different. 

My recommendation for this book:   

Monday, April 15, 2013

HUB Challenge

The HUB Reading Challenge
This year, for the first time, I participated in The Hub Reading Challenge. The Hub is the blog for YALSA (Young Adults Library Services Association) and the challenge was to read at least 25 books from a list of 85 award winners. It started in the beginning of February and runs until June but I managed to finish early. Some of the books I read were in the NHS Library but most of them I had to borrow from the County library. A few I went ahead and bought for our library. The following is the list of books I read. The titles in bold are available from the NHS Library. The ones with an asterisk (*) I will probably purchase for our library soon.

My favorite book was The Round House and my favorite new discovery was Tamora Pierce. I enjoyed Squire so much that I intend to read the entire series during the summer! It was fun to be challenged to listen to audio books and read graphic novels. I was lucky to find The Diviners at the County Library on a Playaway, an MP3-sized gizmo with just that book on it. I listened to it in the car and at the gym. It was a long book but very fun to listen to.

1. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (2012) 
2. Juvenile in Justice by Richard Ross (2012)  
3. The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen (2011) 
4. After the Snow by S.D. Crockett (2012) 
5. * My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf (2012) 
6. Sparks: The Epic, Completely True Blue, (Almost) Holy Quest of Debbie by S.J. Adams (2011) 
7. * Ultimate Comics, Spider-Man, Vol. 1 by Brian Michael Bendis and others (2012) 
8. Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby (2012) 
9. * Heist Society by Ally Carter (2012) 
10. Boy 21 by Matthew Quick (2012) 
11. The Diviners by Libba Bray, read by January LaVoy (2012) (I listened to the audio version but the print version is in our library)
12. Prom & Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg (2011) 
13. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney, read by Ramon de Ocampo (2011) 
14. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (2012) 
15. The Night She Disappeared by April Henry (2012) 
16. Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy by Bil Wright (2011) 
17. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (2012) 
18. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews (2012) 
19. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (2012) 
20. The Pregnancy Project by Gaby Rodriguez (2012) 
21. The Round House by Louise Erdrich (2012) 
22. Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks (2012) 
23. Daredevil, Vol. 1 by Mark Waid et al, (2012) 
24. Squire by Tamora Pierce (2001) 
25. * I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga (2012)