by and

Crushed is reminding me quite a bit of The Penderwicks. Both books feature a setting that would have been perfectly natural in a book from 50 or 100 years ago: The Penderwicks' summer vacation cottage, and in Crushed, the one-room private school the lead character, Audrey, attended before going to public high school.

I'm just a few chapters in, but the characters in Crushed are becoming very well rounded, especially the mysterious boy who's always staring at Audrey.

by and

I liked it, but not as much as Crushed. The McNeals seem to have a formula: sweet-but-not-hip-main character, misunderstood boy, thugs, betrayal, missing parents.


My husband had this in a stack of well-reviewed YA that he'd been meaning to get around to, and I started reading it on a whim.

It's a very sweet book. Stargirl Caraway is the new girl at school, and her strange clothes and forward manner (singing happy birthday to students at lunchtime, cheering for *both* teams at sporting events) makes her stand out among her classmates.

Leo, who tells the story, becomes fascinated and confused by her. I found his point of view quite believable, but I did feel that the school's opinion of Stargirl became a charicature of school-age ostracism, and not entire true to life.

Still, Stargirl is a completely winning heroine, and I think that if I had read this as a kid, I would have tried to make her a role model.


Nick Hornby loved this one, but I just liked it. I didn't warm up to it the way others have. I found it a bit new-age-y and crisp, what with the chilly demeanor of the angel-bird-man whatever he was. Plus, the whole bit with the popular sporty boy befriending the kooky home-schooled girl, it's been done better by Jerry Spinelli.

Still, the writing is beautiful, which is no small thing.
Water for Elephants


I'm such a sucker for books about this era. Water for Elephants would be a good companion for Carter Beats the Devil. While Carter is about magicians, Elephants is about a depression-era circus and its train.

Gruen must have done a ton of research for this book, because it's filled with details about animals, the business of circuses, trains, and hoboes. I could taste the animal trough lemonade and smell the vermin filled straw beds.

Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table


There's a lot of soap opera in this memoir. I was enchanted by "Tender at the Bone", but with this one I kept shaking my head, saying, "Ruth! Get it together!" Not that we all haven't had periods in our life like that, but still. I found this book draining while her first memoir was enriching.

I'm going to try the Swiss Pumpkin recipe, though.
American Gods: The Tenth Anniversary Edition: A Novel


I was hoping for something different. It's not an "okay" book, at all, it's actually a pretty great book. But to quote Randy whatsisname, "For me, it was just a'ight."

I found it very guy-y, especially when sex was involved. I could totally see some half-smart high school boy thinking it was heh heh really cool.

I just didn't dig it the way I dug Stardust.
The Girl with No Shadow: A Novel


Well that's confusing. In the US, this book is called The Girl with No Shadow. Apparently they don't have it listed as such on Goodreads!

I liked this book, I did. I thought it tied in well to Harris' recent young adult novel, Runemarks. Much of the same magic is used in No Shadow.

At times I get a little tired of the narrator coyly addressing the reader, you know what that's like, right? You feel like the narrator thinks she can read your mind? I know you do.

Luckily, she only does this with one character, and it suits the character.

So. It's a sequel to Chocolat, and what's quite jarring is that I was never sure when the first book was supposed to take place. Since I've watched the film several times (mainly to see Johnny Depp say, "I'll come over later and take that squeak out of your door.") I've imagined the 1950's as the setting. No Shadow quite obviously takes place in the present, cell phones and all.
The Jane Austen Book Club


There are a lot of other books I'd recommend before this one. It wasn't horrid, exactly, but I didn't find it a worthwhile read. I didn't believe any of the characters, and there wasn't much of a story there. However, it's gotten me interested in reading and re-reading some Jane Austen, so the book's got that going for it.
Appetite for Life


500 pages of Julia Child is a lot. Ms Child is worth 500 pages, though, and she offered up plenty of written material to base the book on, so it's an interesting read.

I'd say that unless you're really, really into Julia, reading "My Life if France" is enough. In fact, if you haven't read that one, you should.

Even though I'd already read about that portion of her life, I found the bits about her learning to cook and researching the recipes for Mastering the Art of French Cooking to be the most interesting part of the book.