The Big Kahn by Neil Kleid
This graphic novel is about the son of a Jewish Rabbi whose last name is Kahn, who turns out to have a compelling secret: he is a former grifter who was not born into the Jewish faith! A CON artist! Con? Kahn? Get it?
Sorry about that. Aside from this books puntacular title, it was really, really good. I liked how they focused equally on the religious faith and the religious culture and how both of those draw and repel people at different stages of their lives. I think my Mormon readers will find a lot of parallels. Especially with the role of gossip in even the most high-minded religious communities.
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
The thing I am really proud about is that I read this book without buying it or getting it from the library or borrowing it from a friend. I read the first section at Borders, the second at Third Place Books and the third while I was baby-sitting for a friend after the kids were asleep. Bam!
This means I had heard some spoilers by my hardcore friends who finished the book the first week it came out, but it didn't ruin the experience for me. I was relatively satisfied by the romance, although I wish the ending had been less abrupt. Nevertheless, the whole series is kick-ass. I hope the movie doesn't suck too bad.
Gooney the Fabulous by Lois Lowry
Another Gooney Bird book for the K-2 set. I find these books fun and age-appropriate but sometimes I get a little bored. However, I stand by my statement that Lowry is a genius. It's not her, it's me. One thing that really hits home with these books is how realistic the kids dialogue is. They sound like real kids. It's great.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I have started this book a million bajillion times and finally, FINALLY succeeded in finishing it. I actually liked it a whole lot. I found that the varying levels of compatibility between various partners was realistic, rather than an attempt to snag everyone a husband before the story ends, which is how a lot of the (versions of the) movies sometimes seem. There is a guy in my ward who totally reminds me of Mister Collins. That is all.
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
This book is part of my Banned Books Project. I guess it's not a surprise that this book gets some people's hackles up, but honestly, kind of like Daddy's Roommate, to me it seemed pretty tame, even boring. But maybe that's because it's easy for me to think of families with homosexual parents being just like families with heterosexual families BECAUSE THEY ARE. These books do a good job driving home the point that homosexual parents love their kids and do normal household things just like any parent, but at this point I think we're past that. Stories about homosexual families need to start being actual stories, not just focusing on the one difference that doesn't actually make their family that different.
I read a newer edition that had edited out a small section about how Heather was conceived. I'll try to find an original edition one of these days.
The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place by E. L. Keonigsburg
I really like this author, she has written several Newberry Award books, which is a pretty big deal. I listened to this book on tape and I got REALLY EXCITED because the two main adult characters are Hungarian and they use several Hungarian words in the text!! The book was read aloud by Molly Ringwald (??) and she tried her darndest to pronounce the Hungarian correctly, but sometimes failed.
That aside, this is a really fun story, keeps you guessing the whole time. The main character is a really funny kid with a super entertaining voice. Nice message too, about accepting differences instead of rejecting them.
Maus 1: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman
This is one of the few graphic novels with a non-superhero theme that I was aware of as a child. Never got around to reading it until now, though. I am hooked. It's an incredible story. Moving and honest. Not that I didn't know this before, but holy crap the Holocaust was brutal.
Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner
Jennifer Weiner was one of my favorite novelists when I was in high school. Now that I'm older, I can recognize that her writing doesn't exactly reinvent the wheel, but her stories are still really inventive and fun. I think her work is pretty representative of the "beach book" genre, which isn't meant as a criticism at all.
This book was a sequel to Good in Bed, which was her first novel. Like I said, I enjoyed it, except my favorite character dies at the end. That's not a spoiler because you don't know who my favorite character is. Ha!
Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
I have heard of this book before, but I read it because I have a Kindle app on my phone and you can download a lot of "classics" for free. I love free. Also, it was a quick read and I was able to finish it in one plane ride while Carlos was sleeping.
I assumed this was a period piece, but it was actually written in 1916 so it was actually just writing about that time period! The story is about a coddled Victorian orphan named Elizabeth Ann who lives with her overprotective aunt and cousin. When her cousin becomes ill and needs to go to the seashore (remember when that's what sick people got to do? I wish I could have been sick back then) Elizabeth goes to live with her other cousins who live on a farm in Vermont. They are not only awesome but teach her that she is capable of much more than she thought--she walks to school alone, takes care of the farm and tutors younger students in her one-room schoolhouse. She also takes the nickname Betsy.
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
This is a really good book, but guess what? The movie follows the plot of the book amazingly well and is actually better. I think the book is still worth reading, but it kinda blows my mind that I find the film adaptation more effective. What's next, processed food tasting better than real food? Oh, what a world, what a world ...
The only problem with the movie is that I think a lot of the people missed the fact that the whole thing is satire. The book makes that a lot more clear. It also makes the big reveal (you know what I'm talking about) a lot more obvious than the movie does, which is a bummer.
Also, get a newer copy of the edition with the forward/afterward that talks about fight clubs cropping up at BYU. What the what?
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
I finally read this! It is the first Dickens novel that I have actually finished (Sorry Mr. Berkbigler, I didn't finish Oliver Twist--it sucked). It's short enough to be a Christmas tradition if you like that sort of thing. And it's a great read. Here is what I learned from this book:
1. A lot of modern brushes paint Scrooge as selfish, but the weird thing is he doesn't even spend his money on himself. He just hoards it. This is not what most rich Americans do.
2. A Muppet Christmas Carol was shockingly faithful to the original and even used a number of direct quotes from the text.
3. Accordingly, I can ONLY picture Ebenezer Scrooge as played by Michael Caine. This takes nothing away from my reading experience, however. I think it adds to it.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
This book moved me so much I not only cried, but I was depressed that it was over. I was also depressed because the book was kind of depressing. I can't explain why because that would give too much away. There are so many books about introverted awkward teenagers. I wish I had known about all of them when I was an awkward, introverted teenager.
Even if you never were, you should read this book.
In Odd We Trust by Dean Koontz
Another graphic novel, this one of the supernatural-crime genre. Apparently Dean Koontz is kind of a big deal in the non-graphic novel world, but I had never heard of him before this. Apparently this series continues in various novel/graphic novel forms, but I may or may not pick it up. This story was entertaining enough--Odd Thomas is a guy who sees dead people who uses his supernatural powers to solve murder mysteries--but I wasn't completely enthralled like I was with masterpieces of the genre like V for Vendetta. There are just a lot of books out there. And I am pretty busy, OK?