Good Books and the Random Movie

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Location: Brooklyn, NY, United States

28 March 2014


Torn by Amber Lehman is a novel of one girl's move from a private Catholic high school in the Midwest to a public school in southern California and how that move changes her.

Krista McKinley is moving to live with her older brother. Her goal is to make at least one friend at her new school. And right away she meets Carrie in her dance class. Carrie is apparently dating Brandon, at least they are all over each other near the lockers. Quite a change from an all-girls Catholic school.

But Brandon is not dating Carrie. They are great friends, but Brandon is gay. At first this is a shock to Krista, but as she spends time with them she really grows to like Brandon and Carrie and their friend Ryan. Through out the school year the four friends will become close and experience many things together.

Lehman has written a young adult novel that explores the fluidity of sexuality. While a couple of the characters label themselves early in the book, only one sticks to that label for the duration of the story. It is an interesting book that will engage readers but fails to make a statement about GLBTQ issues.

Lehman, Amber. (2010). Torn. New York: Closet Case Books.

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24 March 2014

Hild (Light of the World #1)

Hild by Nicola Griffith is the first book in her Light of the World trilogy about Saint Hild of Whitby who played a large role in Brittan in the Middle Ages.

Readers are introduced to Hild as a young child. Her mother had a dream that said Hild would the Light of the World, a seer for her king. Her uncle, king Edward of Northunbria, heeds this prophecy and uses Hild to help plan attacks on other kingdoms.

Hild is a bright child who can see the patterns in things and often comes to conclusions before they are obvious to others. She has visions and sees omens that guide her advice. One of the patters she sees is that Christianity is coming to Brittan. It will be a major force in the politics as some convert and others resist.

Volume one of the trilogy sees Hild into adulthood. She is a strong character, more so for a woman of her time period. She is surrounded by characters that are brought to life by the magic of Griffith's words. 

Based on historical research and using real people from history as characters, Griffith has created a novel of Brittan in the 600s - a time of many kings, knights, superstition, and political intrigue. Hild reads like an epic fantasy (as many of them are set in a Middle Ages-like worlds) and shows life in the seventh century. The beginning of the book is a steep learning curve of names, different languages, and some confusion, but it is worth the time to read through the beginning to an amazing story. Hild is as much a legend as Joan of Arc, though less well known. Griffith brings her alive and makes readers care about her and the people around her.

Griffith, Nicola. (2013). Hild. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

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17 March 2014

About a Girl

About a Girl by Joanne Horniman is the story of Anna McGuire.

Anna grew up in Canberra (Australia) but moved to the artist community of Lismore for a fresh start after college did not work out. Now she works at a bookstore. One night she sees a local singer who she cannot get out of her head. When she sees her again at a coffee shop, they decided to meet again.

Anna was never one to have a large group of friends. There are things in her past that she has worked through but have changed her and Flynn is her first new friend in Lismore. But Flynn also has things in her past that she is not ready to talk about other than through her music. Anna and Flynn start a tentative relationship - tentative because Anna is not used to making friends, especially with someone to whom she is greatly attracted.

Horniman's novel captures a tender time in Anna's life when she learns a lot about herself and starts to open up to people for the first time. About a Girl is a beautiful book.

Horniman, Joanne. (2010). About a Girl. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen and Unwin.

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10 March 2014

The Night Counter

The Night Counter by Alia Yunis is the story of one family in America - lead by a strong-willed 85 year old mother of ten and grandmother of fourteen. Each night for 1001 nights, since she arrived in Los Angeles to stay with her grandson Amir, Fatima Abdullah has been visited by Scheherazade. And after 1001 nights there time together will end forever.

Fatima, knowing that after ten more nights she will die, must get her family in order. She has children and grandchildren who need to be married, treasures to sort and decide what she will leave to whom - including her house in Deir Zeitoon, Lebanon. And as she tells Scheherazade of her family members, Scheherazade flies around the country and world to visit them giving readers a glimpse of their lives.

Filled with stories of love, family, humor and destiny, The Night Counter is the tale of how different members of one family react to and change from the stories of their lives. It is an epic tale told over the last few nights in a woman's life.

Yunis, Alia. (2009). The Night Counter. New York: Three Rivers Press.

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01 March 2014

Love a Little Sideways (Kowalski #7)

Love a Little Sideways by Shannon Stacey is the seventh book in her Kowalski family romance series.

Liz Kowalski has lived in New Mexico for years, but after visiting her family in Maine for her brother's wedding, she started to feel like moving home. There was really nothing keeping her in the Southwest since she broke up with her boyfriend of fifteen years. So she has packed everything she owns into her car and is driving home.

How embarrassing that as soon as she hit the town of Whitford, she also hit a tree. Now the police are on their way to help her with her car - and she is just hoping it is not Chief Drew Miller because the last time she was in town they sneaked away from a wedding to have sex.

Chief Miller is surprised to arrive at a traffic accident and see Liz Kowalski. After spending the afternoon with Liz months ago in what they both assumed was just a rebound, Drew has not been able to get his best friend's little sister out of his head. And even though they are adults, there is a code about dating your best friend's sister.

Shannon has given fans a treat with this installation in her series by revisiting the family camping trip that we read about in her first book in the Kowalski family series. The entire family has decided to make the camping trip a reunion by having the cousins in Maine join those from Massachusetts for a week. And Drew is invited because of his father...

Stacey, Shannon. (2013). Love a Little Sideways. New York: HQN.

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