Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Enthusiastic about Polly Shulman

Polly Shulman had a little book of hers called Enthusiasm come out in 2006. I found it in a tiny library in my city.  I took it home, read it, loved it and then bought the paperback edition. So it now sits on my shelf.

Julie's friend Ashleigh can be called excitable since she has a habit of falling in love with things and in the process, dragging Julie along for the ride. While it's certainly never boring, it is starting to get out of hand. Especially, when Ashleigh discovers Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Julie's favorite book. Something she thought she truly had to herself.

Now Ashleigh talks strangely, wears floor length capes and wants to find her own Mr. Darcy by crashing a dance at an all-boys' school. The problem is that when Julie meets Ashleigh's idea of a real life teenage Mr. Darcy, she falls for him herself. What is Julie to do?

What I really enjoyed about Enthusiasm was that it was relatable. The characters could be people you very well know. And who hasn't followed one of their friends into a somewhat disastrous situation? Another thing I appreciated is that it was less of a retelling of Pride and Prejudice and more of a novel about the influence of Jane Ausen's book on young ladies of the world. How the book has inspired a lot of us to have unrealistic expectations about encountering our own Mr. Darcy.

It's also a great novel to introduce to younger readers who haven't even heard of Jane Austen or who find the task a bit unappealing/daunting. Maybe this novel by Shulman will encourage readers to pick it up and give it a chance.


So now it's 2010 and she has another novel out this month called The Grimm Legacy and it sounds amazing. Any book that involves fairy tales and I am all over it like a chocoholic at a chocolate fountain .

Elizabeth has finally found a job and it is at a Circulating Material Repository, a sort of unusual library that specializes in the lending of objects. Things she never thought could be real exist in the lower floors of the repository, all of them beautiful and exciting. But there's one thing the other pages won't discuss, the Grimm Collection. A room that is the most carefully guarded and the most treasured.

So when items from that room start to go missing, Elizabeth is determined to find them and figure out who the thief is.

Friday, July 9, 2010

My History with Cameron Dokey

I think I was 12 years old when I found the first book by Cameron Dokey. The local mall that I lived near used to rent floor space to a book vendor every Christmas.  It was on a table covered in cheap blue cloth that I found Mystery Date: Heart's Desire.

Jeannie buys a pendant from an antiques shop but never expected it was anything more than an old necklace.  The pendant she found can grant the wearer's heart's desire.  It also has the power to awaken the spirits of the dead.

It was a love story.  It had betrayal and mystery.  It involved Egyptian mummies. At the time, I'd had a really intense love for things about ancient Egypt so I never stood a chance.


The thing I liked most about her writing was how vivid her imagination was and even when she was being overly and romantically cheesy, I loved whatever she wrote.  I still do.

It is a true delight reading her novels and if you've never had the chance to before then get on it.  Sharpish.

She has also written other short books over the years, including many novels in the Once Upon a Time Series:

  • The Storyteller's Daughter (A Retelling of The Arabian Nights)
  • Beauty Sleep (A Retelling of Sleeping Beauty)
  • Sunlight and Shadow (A Retelling of The Magic Flute)
  • Golden (A Retelling of Rapunzel)
  • Before Midnight (A Retelling of Cinderella)
  • Belle (A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast)
  • A Wild Orchid (A Retelling of The Ballad of Mulan)
  • Winter's Child (A Retelling of The Snow Queen)
  • The World Above (A Retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk)
Gif made by crazy-tea-lover

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Where I prattle on about R.A. Nelson

It was in 2005 when I walked into the library and discovered a novel by R.A. Nelson. The cover design was simple yet interesting so I flipped to the back cover and read the description. I was intrigued right away and I have been keeping an eye on his books since.

Teach Me by R.A. Nelson is about Carolina "Nine" Livingston who forms a friendship with her English teacher, who she can share ideas with and relate to, but then has that relationship change into something more. It's a journey for Nine through the obsession, the love, the consequences and the unknown.


In this novel, R.A. Nelson writes from the point of view of a female character.  Some readers might be concerned with the level of success a male author would have with this.  Would each line somehow be filled with mockery at the female character's expense?  Would the novel seem haphazardly thrown together?

Nine's voice doesn't even remind me of my brother's high pitched interpretation of what a girl sounds like. The voice feels true and solid.  The story moves quickly and not a sentence is wasted.  It also has a great build-up until the end.

Another thing is that R.A. Nelson doesn't make it easy. There are parts of the book that are truly painful to read because the situations are so uncomfortable. And it's not something I mind at all. For me, it's the books that make you uncomfortable that are worth reading.


Days of Little Texas

This novel is about Ronald Earl (aka Little Texas), a sixteen year old travelling preacher, who moves from place to place spreading the word of God and laying his hands upon the sick to heal them. But though he believes with all his might, he still finds himself in doubt.

One night after a sermon, a girl in a blue dress is brought to him. He lays his hands upon her and when she smiles at him, he feels that he has healed her like all the others. But after that day, he continues to see the girl and she's always wearing the same blue dress. She starts showing up in places she shouldn't be and doing things that no living girl should be able to do.


I really enjoyed this one as well. I expected it to go so many ways, but it kept surprising me with the unexpected.  It is a unique ghost story that really wraps itself in the heat and humidity of the south.   It is incredibly creepy and it was a lot of fun to read.

I've been ranting and raving about it to my friends (who probably don't care) for months now. I don't think I'll ever stop talking about it any time soon. And Ronald Earl?  I have such a great love of this character. He has so many things coming at him all at once and he just keeps on going.

Days of Little Texas is one of those books where you can't quite explain how good it is because every word you use doesn't describe it well enough.

Comes out in Trade Paperback September 14, 2010.


Breathe My Name

This novel is about an decade old secret that Frances Robinson carries with her. When she was young, she used to live with her mother and three sisters in Fireless, a made-up country.

But Fireless changed Frances' mother and took her further and further away from her sanity. So much so that she does something truly awful.  Frances is enough to escape. But now Frances' mother is out of prison.


Again, heavy subject matter (both past trauma and mental illness).

However, this novel was not a completely enjoyable read.  The main character had me emotionally in the beginning, but the more I got to know her the less I liked her.  Towards the end, she becomes so incredibly silly and annoying that it made the book hard to finish.  R.A. Nelson usually gives you great characters and compelling stories.  The story was a bit disappointing in the end.



Emma feels like her life is falling apart. Her epilepsy overshadows every move she makes and has cost her so much. All Emma wants is to live her life freely, but her condition is ruining all her plans. That is until one night on a solitary road, it saves her life.

After the attack, Emma starts to feel strange. Almost better and stronger than she used to be. But a monster out in the dark doesn't like loose ends and it's just waiting until it can tie them up.


It seems he's jumping on the vampire train. I haven't been impressed by many YA vampire novels (Two, I've been impressed by only two) but I'll form an opinion of it when I read it. And so far from the description, it doesn't sound all that bad. I'm excited to dig into it.