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Sunday, April 08, 2007

A Scanner Darkly

Author: Philip Dick
Reading Level: Adult

Publisher: Random House Audio
Edition: Text: 1977; Audio Book, read by Paul Giamatti, 2006

Loved the enigmatic plot line and shared the despair of the main characters in such bleak circumstances. Giamatti's more than competent rendition of the text added to the appeal. I usually only listen to audio books when washing dishes or doing chores, but this one I had to listen on my iPod in bed and on the bus... couldn't stop, especially during the latter half of the story. There are also many moments of absurdity that are both laughable and pitifully so. Really glad that I got to know this story -- and now am wondering, "How on EARTH could they make this fairly introspective novel into a movie?" But, then, Blade Runner (based on Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep) was made and successfully so, although it is true that the book and the movie are quite different, both powerful in their own ways.

It was nice to finally understand the meaning of the title, too!

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Secret History of Tom Trueheart

Author: Ian Beck
Reading Level: 4th-6th

Publisher: Greenwillow (HarperCollins)
Edition: Hardcover, 2007 (ARC)

Very little works for me in this fairy-tale inspired fantasy. The logic seems largely faulty (such as the limited view on fairy-tale world and that only these 7 brothers - all named Jack - can take on these "quest" assignments.) The "message" is so blatant that the tale holds little depth. It simply did not work for me.

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The Last Girls of Pompeii

Author: Kathryn Lasky
Reading Level: 5th-7th

Publisher: Viking
Edition: Hardcover, 2007 (ARC)

The imagined story of a group of nobles, slaves, and gladiators during the days leading to the eruption of Vesuvius is a great topic. I enjoyed the historical details but at the same time found that at certain points, the "history lesson" overshadows the momentum of the plotline and thus slows down the pacing of an otherwise very exciting tale.

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Magpie Gabbard and the Quest for the Buried Moon

Author: Sally M. Keehn
Reading Level: 4th - 6th

Publisher: Philomel
Edition: Hardcover, 2007 (ARC)

It is definitely Quirky, with that capital Q! The tall-tale tone and the magical and outlandish plotline are consistent and coherent in their own way. Very strong opening scene and concluding passages.

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Emily Windsnap and the Castle in the Mist

Author: Liz Kessler
Reading Level: 3rd - 5th

Publisher: Candlewick
Edition: Hardcover, 2007 (ARC)

The third installment of the Emily Windsnap series. I didn't read the first two but would not consider seeking them out and reading them after scanning quickly (not quite worth my time or energy to read carefully) this book. I wonder if mer-people were real, would they be displeased at the general portrayal of their characteristics?

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Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree

Author: Lauren Tarshis
Reading Level: 4th - 6th

Publisher: Dial
Edition: Hardcover, 2007 (ARC)

The tone, matter-of-fact, aloof, observatory, self-aware, emotionally detailed -- is very interesting -- at least at the beginning. It becomes a little boring after a while. The chapters from Colleen's viewpoint are told pretty much in this same tone, which does not quite fit her timid personality. Even though the story is seen through Emma-Jean's eyes and thus are all exaggerated (slightly or largely,) certain events (such as the Queen Been losing her hold on the 7th-grade populace) still need the real-life logic to convince this reader.

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