Argument: There is nothing to do. I’m bored.
Rebuttal: Read a book.
Negative Rebuttal: I don’t have any books. I’ve read them all. I’m so bored I’m going to die.
Winning Response: Get in the car. We are going to the library.
Yes, every mother’s secret weapon. The scourge of bored children everywhere. The Library.
Lined with beautiful books that you can grab and go. Looks interesting? Grab it. Back blurb got you curious? Add it. Author you like? Stack it.
And the beauty of it all, you get to walk out with them for nothing. So if it is a dud, no worries. You can return it no questions asked. But if you love it, if it opens new worlds for you, you can go back for more. And more. And more! Is there anything better than a summer spent reading library books? Debatable.
OK, so, this book.
It’s called Picture This by Lynda Barry and is best described as a graphic memoir/how to book. Confused? I know. This book stands all on its own. It is odd and compelling and dark and deep and delightful. I have never read anything like it. Ms. Barry asked herself a simple question: what makes us stop drawing. She explores the odd notion that so many people have; namely, that they cannot draw. I haveto admit, she is dead on. I cannot tell you how many times I hear people tell me they are not “artistic” and they can’t “do art”. And yet, every child I have ever met is more than capable of picking up a crayon and making something wonderful. So what happens? When do we go from happy drawing to this awful self-criticism? I know I am just as guilty as the next person of this. But after reading this book, I found myself picking up a pencil and just drawing. Something silly and simple and childlike and perfect. And you know what? I’m actually proud of what I drew. Me! The “un-artistic” one! A great book in a unique form. See if you can find a copy for yourself.
Oh, this book! So, this is the second in the series, Chaos Walking. And it is a mighty mighty good series. You must start with the first book, The Knife of Never Letting Go. This first installment was an unbelievable book. Of course, it ended on a cliff hanger and the second book picks right up where it left off. The Ask and the Answer is a bit like The Empire Strikes Back. The heros get hurt. The bad guys have the upper hand. You are left wondering if good is going to triumph over evil and how. I’m hoping all ends well in book three. I will let you know.
What is so fabulous about this series is the world building. To make a good sci-fi or fantasy book, you must build a good world and Mr. Ness knocked one out of the park here. I’ve read quite a bit of sci-fi and fantasy in my day but this world is so totally unique it’s astounding. The universe he creates leads into some very deep and hard questions about what it means to be a good person. Staying true to yourself. The power of love. Sacrifice. Redemption. The consequences of decisions we make. Getting up after we fall. I could go on and on and on about the many ideas this book is chalk full of: deep moral delimnas entwined with a racing plot line. It is, however, rather dark and violent so be warned. Just thinking the word “Todd?” makes me tear up even now. Read the first book and you’ll know why. But be warned, so far, this series is just tearing me apart. Here’s hoping there are some Ewoks in part three….
I was so torn about this novel. It’s a mystery and winner of the Edgar Award in 2008 for Best First Novel. It is a suspenseful police procedural with great characters and storyline. Two mysteries are intertwined in this book. In the mid-eighties, three kids go into the woods and only one is found so traumatized he can not remember what happened to his friends. The found boy grows up to the a homicide detective who lands a murdered child case in his old home town. Trying to track down the murderer, the detective finds himself drawn back to the fateful day his friends disappeared. Both mysteries are wonderfully well written. However, only one of them is solved. The other is left dangling in the most unfulfilled way. This is the rare book where, as much as I loved the story, the ending killed it for me. It was a real let down after such a great page turner. From what I can tell, quite a few people felt the same way. Great book, bad ending. Ah well. I guess some mysteries really are left unsolved!
And Only to Deceive
I forgot to take a picture before I returned this book but good ol’ Amazon came through for me. Phew. So, very cute book. It’s a genre jumper. Mystery + Regency Era + Romance. Good times! The author did not follow society rules precisely. Her heroine flaunts convention and gets away with it quite regularly. Of course, she is also beautiful, young, recently widowed and endowed with quite a fortune so she is free to sail her own course. The book revolves around some mysterious artifacts left behind by our hero’s recently departed husband. In solving the mystery, she also learns more about her spouse and finds herself falling in love with him even though he is gone. Do not worry, there is a rogue-ish gentleman to ease her suffering, society matrons who wish to marry her off, and a few dastardly villains to round out the group. A quick, fun read that has just enough sparkle to keep you interested.
Last week was a dud for reading. I started three books and wandered away from each one. Sigh. Sometimes you just strike out. Luckily, the library is holding three more books for me as I type. I’ve decided there are far too many good books out there to waste your time on the sour ones. So, if a book doesn’t grab me in the first 100 pages or so, I toss it and try another. I used to feel guilty about this but now, it’s par for the course and quite liberating.
On my way to the library now! La la la!