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Monday, October 1, 2007

What I'm Reading September 2007

Ok, so it's October 1, and I am a day late on recounting some of the books I read in September, but for the record, my watch claims it is September 31st.

Seriously, as I am nearing the end of the calendar year I am faced with some holes in my assigned reading list. Most RAs are expected to read at least 1 book from their libraries most popular genres each year. In our case, at the Berwyn Public Library, we have an agreed upon list which includes more than 1 book in some genres. This month I tackled my Young Adult requirement and, the one I dread the most, my Romance requirement. So here are three of the books I read this past month and at least one option for a readalike.

After much hemming and hawing, I chose to read the regency romance Fool For Love by Eloisa James. One of the reasons I chose a James' novel is the fact that her books are known for eschewing many of the traditions of the regency romance; that and the fact that she is also a Shakespearean scholar. She did not disappoint in this regard. In fact, when looking at the customer comments of Amazon, you can clearly see a divide between those who like the straying and those who are unsettled by it. To each their own; however, if you are looking for a sexy, historical romance, with sharp wit and well drawn characters, and do not mind that the situations and characters are a bit outside the normal boundaries of the genre, anything by Eloisa James is a good choice.

Specifically, Fool For Love is about Henrietta and Simon. Simon, a London dandy, and the new guardian of his two young sisters, heads off to the country to check on the rumor of his Aunt's pregnancy, which if true, and produces a male child, could spell the end to his fortune. Henrietta, is a young girl from the country with a bad hip who believes she can never marry and bear children. Simon is struck by Henrietta's sharp tongue and wit; while Henrietta is intrigued by Simon's worldliness and self confidence. Together, the two find a love and happiness neither thought would ever be theirs. True to the genre, this romance ends resolved and happy. There are also a few recurring characters from James' other Duchess Series titles. If you like the regency setting and the wit of James' books, and you do not mind the sensuality, you can also try Amanda Quick's Seduction or Julia London's Highlander Unbound.

After speaking to one of the Young Adult librarians here at Berwyn, I selected Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli as one of my two YA titles for 2007. It is extremely popular at our library, and after reading it, I see why. Stargirl is new to Mica High school (AZ); in fact, after years of homeschooling, she is new to school in general. She plays her ukulele in the lunchroom, carries around a pet rat, and cheers for the wrong team. Narrated by wallflower, Leo Borlock, Stargirl is a compelling entry into the subgenre of the nonconformist teen tale. A few other notable novels in this vein are Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen, Razzle by Ellen Wittlinger, and the classic The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier.

I also read Jasper Fforde's latest entry in the Thursday Next Series, Thursday Next: The First Among Sequels. The books in this bestselling series take place in an alternate reality Reading, England where literary crimes must be patrolled, Thursday can travel inside literature, and the Goliath Corporation rules all. This novel takes place 14 years after Something Rotten. Thursday is married to Landon, they have three children, and she is no longer working for the literary division of Special Ops, well at least not officially. Much of this novel revolves around the falling read rates in all of England. Thursday spends a great deal of time in the book world battling herself, or at least the book version of herself, and trying to stop "the end of time." Confused yet? This is a series for book lovers. If you want to give it a try I would suggest starting with The Eyre Affair to see if you like Fforde's humor and the onslaught of literary references.

Readers who love Thursday Next and are looking for something similar to tide them over until the next installment should check out Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. In this epistolary novel, a young girl named Ella, lives on the fictional island of Nollop off the coast of North Carolina. The island is named for Nevin Nollop, the author of the famous sentence “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.” When the local government begins banning letters of the alphabet as they fall off of Nollop’s memorial statue, Ella begins to fight for her community’s freedom of expression. Ella does what she can, but with each falling letter it becomes more difficult for her to communicate.

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