Jul 28 10:43

Orphan Train

Kline, Christina Baker

Thank goodness this was a compelling read because I had only a few days to finish it before it was due back at NYPL. I came home from the Zine Librarians unConference to five books ready to be picked up, three of them two-week loans. Now I have just over a week to finish the other two. Never mind, they were both renewable. Phew!

So yeah, Orphan Train shares parallel stories of two quasi-orphans making their way through harsh adoption/foster conditions about eighty years apart. The elder, an Irish immigrant at a time when the Irish were viewed with open hostility in the US, is taken to the Midwest via orphan train in the 1920s after a fire claims her family. In the name of Christian goodness, children were given away, often to be used as servants. Flash forward to the early 21st century and you get foster parents paid to "care" for a child they seem to hate.

Jul 27 2013
Jul 28 10:24

Painted Girls, the

Buchanan, Cathy Marie

Three impoverished sisters with a dead father and an absinthe-addicted mother try to survive in late 19th century France. One of the ways a girl could make money at the time was to be in the Opera ballet school and eventually perform with the ballet. Or pose for Degas.

Jul 24 2013
Jul 20 21:08

Interestings, the

Wolitzer, Meg

Wolitzer gives us six friends, who met at an arts camp in the summer of 1974 when they were teenagers and follows them through their lives to middle age. The book is 468 pages long, and I didn't want it to end. The book is mature, feminist, loving, harsh, sad, privileged and privilege aware and truth telling. It's both big and small, in that in covering several characters over thirty years it's rather epic, but it's more about the passive reality of its characters lives than what happens to them.


"I know we live in a very sexist world, and a lot of boys do nothing except get in trouble, until one day they grow up and dominate every aspect of society."

"Though he hadn't been born into privilege, he too had been helped up the ladder over time, though the talent he possessed was squarely his."

"But in a lot of ways she could never leave her family drama, and I get that. The past is so tenacious. It's just as true for me. Everyone basically has one aria to sing over their entire life, and this one is hers."

Jul 20 2013
Jul 17 14:41

Wonder When You'll Miss Me

Davis, Amanda

I don't know how to talk about this novel. Plot points and themes include gang rape, weight and body image, mental health and life in a traveling circus. I appreciate the protagonist's emotional progression throughout, but I'm not sure the conceit of her imaginary "fat girl" companion really works. It's still a good book. Read it and tell me what you think.

Jul 15 2013
Jul 17 14:25


Grant, Mira

Attempting to fill the void left by her Newsflesh Trilogy, Mira Grant gives us another near-future made dystopic by a health cure gone wrong. This first entry in the Parasitology series brings us likeable characters, a quasi-believable medical threat (though to be honest far less plausible than how she envisioned zombies), corrupt business practices, mad egomaniacal scientists, strained family relationships and two sweet dogs.

Jul 11 2013
Jul 05 20:17

Into the Forest

Hegland, Jean

Sort of like the movie 2 Days in New York that I watched last week, I am not sure if I admired or hated this book. The writing is good, I guess. It's sophisticated, but not showy, but the characters might be a little hard to love.

Jun 30 2013
Jun 30 15:53

Buried on Avenue B

De Jonge, Peter

It's weird when a book takes place in a neighborhood you know incredibly well, but is in a universe you've heard about but don't recognize, populated by alcoholic, bigoted police officers. Buried on Avenue B has a second location, Sarasota, Florida, which is not far from Tampa, where I went to grad school. The people in the Publix grocery stores in Sarasota are depicted as nicer than the ones I encountered in Tampa, but there was one commonality--old men bagging groceries. De Jonge assumes they're doing it for the minimum wage. In my naivete, I want to believe it is for something to do.

Jun 26 2013
Jun 22 16:12

Hallowed Ones, the

Bickle, Laura

Amish teen Katie is looking forward to going on Rumspringa with her boyfriend Elijah. Instead she finds herself fighting evil, as well Elijah and the community elders. If the premise sounds ridiculous, unfortunately its execution kind of is. Unless it's meant to be silly, like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and books of that ilk?

Jun 22 2013
Jun 22 16:07

Night Sweats: an Unexpected Pregnancy

Crossett, Laura

I've now read the material in this book three times, once as a series of blog posts, the second time in manuscript and now as a gen-u-ine book. Three times, and each time I was dazzled by Laura's honesty, insight, generosity, kindness, love, snark and beautiful writing.

The title pretty much tells you what it's about, the non-LC subject headings give you a few more clues:

Crossett, Laura--Confessions.
Pregnant women--Mental Health.
Christian biography--United States.
Pregnancy, Unplanned--United States. [Extra fun: search your favorite library catalog for "unplanned pregnanc*" and see what subject headings your results yield.]
Wayward spinsters--Iowa--Iowa City.
Intrauterine contraceptives--FAIL.

(Disclaimer: I am friends with Laura, and I helped with the subject headings.)

Jun 17 2013
Jun 16 20:42


Shepard, Sara

Yes, I'm three books in to Pretty Little Liars. I don't even like it anymore, but I'm not sure I can stop.

Jun 16 2013