Saturday, February 20, 2010

Elizabeth's BookShelf Take One

Kerry and I recently realized that so many of the books we read never make it into our illustrious blog reviews. As our reviews generally feature books we either absolutely love or loathe, we have come up with a new blog entry: the "BookShelf." The "BookShelf" will list books we're currently reading--good, bad, and boring--which may not have otherwise made into BookMates. Let us know what you think of it!

Titles that are on my metaphorical BookShelf: (they're really strewn about my apartment in absolutely no order. My cat Chicklets is actually chewing on one right now. Thanks, cat.)

Possessed by Kate Cann

I picked up this title because I read somewhere that Kate Cann's young adult mystery-horror novel was gripping and entertaining. It's about a teenage girl who escapes the stifling environment of the British projects to work in a countryside manor, where she discovers evidence of black magic in the supposedly ideal hamlet surrounding the manor.

British countryside? Manors? Black magic? I'm a sucker for books like this. Unfortunately Cann's writing is, well, not good. I skipped the entire middle section of the novel and still wasn't remotely surprised by the ending. Stick with The Perilous Gard for British manor-magic tales.

Numbers by Rachel Ward

Coincidentally, this young adult novel is also set in Great Britain, but with a much more original premise than Cann's Possessed. Fifteen-year old Jem has the unique ability to sense some one's date of death when she looks them in eye. This obviously has some serious downfalls, one of which is the isolation that Jem imposes upon herself to keep from caring about others. Soon Jem is caught up as an innocent bystander in a terrorist plot she can't stop, and is on the run from the law with her friend Spider. While this part of the novel is pretty ridiculous, Ward's depiction of the foster care system and the projects is affecting and the most interesting part of the novel. An entertaining read.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

I've just gotten into reading mysteries, and picked up Bradley's novel because it recently won the CWA Debut Dagger Award. So far it has fabulously lived up to the award. In fact, there's a definite possibility that I may write a post about this title in the future so I will keep this short: Flavia de Luce is an eleven-year-old girl living in her family's stately British home in 1950 (I really didn't mean to make this post British-themed). Flavia is also brilliant, a dedicated chemist with a special interest: poison. Thus when she discovers a dead body in the garden, she's pretty excited. Was the dead man poisoned? Why is his body in their cucumber patch? What does her reclusive father know about all this? Flavia makes it her mission to get to the bottom of the matter, and Flavia's mission is very entertaining indeed.


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  2. I finally read 'Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie'! I knew you'd recommended it, but I kept forgetting what it was about and thinking it was some sort of Southern magical realism women's fiction. So Flavia came as a welcome surprise. I liked it, but not sure I'd want to read the next in the series.