I should be writing a "Wicked Cool Overlooked Books" entry but I'm so scatter-brained lately that I can't seem to focus on anything but what is in front of me this very minute. Thus far we have enjoyed multiple beach days (lots of shell collecting but no swimming yet - the water is chilly for me but I really do want to get in and do some body surfing as my son has never seen me catch a wave before); one stellar trip to the zoo (two words: baby armadillos); one fine day flying with my step-dad in which I had my hands on the controls for the first time in 15 years and did not humiliate myself; one day fishing (one fish caught); one day boating (dolphins sited) and two dinners out with friends and one barbeque with family. Tomorrow we go to Ron Jon's to get a few presents (one for Christmas - I am planning that far ahead!) and likely more beach. I am having a truly lovely time.
Reading accomplished thus far:
* One issue of Shape that has pretty much sworn me off sugar. (It was bought for the plane - I'm trying to hate Gabrielle Reece for looking so fabulous on the cover and being very nearly my age. Drat her!)
* The Entomological Tales of Augustus T. Percival: Petronella Saves Nearly Everyone by Dene Low. This will be in my July column which is shaping up to be a "Choose Your Own Adventure" theme. Aimed at MG readers I have to say that Petronella is a charmer from start to finish. Set in England in1903 it has plenty of atmosphere, some thrilling international intrigue and a lot of very very very funny moments. Petronella is a saucy protagonist who would really like to just be enjoying her coming-out but must save the country first (and hopefully get closer to her best friend's big brother in the process). The weird bit would be dear Uncle Augustus who has fallen prey to a fever of sorts by eating an odd beetle (by accident) and is now compelled to eat bugs - a lot of bugs. It's the perfect level of odd for the story Low has created and I really dearly hope this one gets a good readership (Betsy I think you would enjoy it)
* Ghost Town by Richard Jennings. Also set for my July column this book took so many unexpected turns that I could not put it down. It's not a thriller (or suspenseful) by any stretch of the word but as 13 year old Spencer Honesty recounts his recent events in his hometown (which is now basically abandoned except for him and his postmistress mother) of Paisley, Kansas readers will be swept away by the surreal yet homespun storyline. Spencer starts taking photos with his long dead father's camera and discovers the town's recent residents (living and dead) appear in some of the final prints. He also grows some pumpkins that look like famous people, has long conversations with Chief Leopard Frog, his imaginary friend who writes poetry, and makes a long distant friend with the publisher of a catalog of oddities. Spencer pines for his next door neighbor, the gorgeous 15 year old Maureen, gets Cheif Leopard Frog published, dodges an interview with a poetry magazine intern who has nefarious purposes of her own, dreams big, and wins huge. In the midst of all this Jennings throws in some deep thoughts on the nature of towns and why they matter and why small ones are worth saving. This is a confection of a story with a very appealing narrator and is a very quick read. If you have a struggling reader, it's a must.
* Nothing But Ghosts by Beth Kephart. I'm halfway through and already I've fallen hard for Katie whose mother died suddenly leaving her and her father struggling along. For Katie that means diving into a summer gardening job with the town recluse and then researching her long unseen boss to uncover clues to odd behavior on the estate. There is also a cute boy who is willing to help with the paper shuffling, a cool librarian (make that wicked cool librarian) and Katie's father, an art restorer who is a dear man finding himself also uncovering a few secrets. The mystery is just beginning to show itself here and the adventure is a bit more slight then the other two books but I think this will fit nicely in my July column as well - won't know until I'm finished. I can say though that the language is startlingly graceful and the Katie is a most compelling protagonist. I can't wait to see what happens next.
* The Ebb Tide by James Blaylock: Langdon St. Ives at his best and a perfect steampunk adventure just as I expected. We just discovered a wicked cool submarine type vehicle and it seems that a very bad guy is after a very important map and St. Ives and his crew must SAVE THE DAY! Expect to see this in my May column.
* Journey of the Pink Dolphins by Sy Montgomery. What's interesting here is that Montgomery isn't just writing as a naturalist but includes and enormous amount of mythology and folklore on her subject (and those she meets while studying it) and also some interesting insight into the minds of others who are fascinated by it (ala Susan Orlean). Pink Dolphins is proving to be a surprise - one of my cool reads in the May column.
* Dear Billy Pt 3 by Garth Ennis. It's a comic book that broke my heart - no, tore my heart out. I will write about this three issue mini (part of Ennis's Battlefields series) later this week. You might think comics are for kids; my God, how wrong you are.
The new issue of Bookslut is up with my column of mysteries - please read and enjoy. I also see there is an interview with Samantha Hunt which is wonderful; consider it a must-read. And hey, Gwenda says she is blogging everyday this month! Yea!