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June 2008 Staff Book Reviews

Submit a book reviewAs we get ready for the Summer Reading season the staff of the Pioneer Library System, and hometown libraries, offer you these book reviews. Perhaps one or two will help you kick your Summer Reading off with something new.

Or maybe you have a title you already enjoyed and you want to share your review of it?  If so be sure to submit a review of it to be used on the website this Summer!

 


 

book jacket of book two in the Grimm Sisters seriesSisters Grimm by Michael Buckley
5 star rating

Genre: Children's Fiction
Staff Reviewer: Crystal Inman, Shawnee Public Library

The Sisters Grimm mystery series, Children's Fiction, is a wonderful walk down memory lane with your favorite Fairy Tale characters. Except these characters aren't quite how you remembered them. They're fallible and funny,intelligent and inept. The stories in the series surround two sisters, Sabrina and Daphne Grimm. They have no idea that they're descended from the famous Grimm Brothers. When their parents go missing, a grandmother they didn't know they had comes to claim them. And that's when the fun begins. The Sisters Grimm series has a lot of depth even though they are Children's Fiction. The books are well-written and humorous. Characters are interwoven with care and accuracy. And for someone who grew up on Fairy Tales, I highly recommend them.



book jacket for Moon WomenMoon Women by Pamela Duncan
5 star rating

Genre: Adult Fiction
Staff Reviewer: Cindy Stevens, Center for Reader's Services

In Pamela Duncan's debut novel the reader meets and falls in love with three remarkable women, the Moon women. Set in the foothills of North Carolina, three generations of women learn the meaning of life, love and family. The matriarch, Marvelle Moon, was wife to Jesse and mother to twelve children. She has known the heartache of losing children and her husband, and now is seeing her own life's road coming to an end. Marvell's two daughters, Ruth Anne and Cassandra, don't quite know what to do with their Mama. Ruth Anne, the older sister, has recently divorced and has just found out that her youngest daughter, Ashley, is pregnant - and not married. Cassandra is 41 and never married. She runs a child care center, taking care of other people's children and her mother.; She longs for a life of her own, but doesn't see one in her future. Ashley, at nineteen, has already seen some of the harshness of life and struggles with the mother/daughter relationship. She finds herself needing her mother, but not knowing how to heal the rift that has grown between them. These three women find the way to love themselves, each other, and make room in their lives for men that just can't seem to understand them, but love them just the same. Pamela Duncan writes with the lost accent of Appalachia. The characters unfold like the spring flowers that they all love. The reader will laugh, cry and sigh as the last page is turned. The Moon women are not women to be soon forgotten. Duncan follows the Moon women in her following novels, Plant Life and The Big Beautiful.

 

 

book jacket for Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of LifeJeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass
5 star rating

Genre: Teen Fiction
Staff Reviewer:Cathy Adams, Moore Public Library

Jeremy Fink is going to turn 13 in one month when he unexpectedly receives a package in the mail. Jeremy, and his friend Lizzy, open the package to find a locked box labeled "The Meaning of Life." There are four locks on the box, each needing a different key; but no keys are in the package. The package does include a note letting Jeremy know the box was prepared for him by his father, and should be opened on his 13th birthday. So, Jeremy, who finds comfort in familiar things, and adventurous Lizzy begin the search to locate the keys. Join Jeremy and Lizzy on their journey as they learn new things about themselves, search for the keys, and look for the meaning of life. This great book can also be found on audio.

 


book jacket for The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
5 star rating

Genre: Teen Fiction
Staff reviewer: Sandy Shropsire, Moore Public Library

As author and illustrator Brian Selznick explains, "My new book is a 550 page novel in words and pictures. but unlike most novels, the images don't just illustrate the story; they help tell it. I've created something that is not exactly a novel, not quite a picture book, not really a graphic novel or a flip book or a movie, but a combination of all these things."

With The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Selznick breaks conventions associated with the art of bookmaking,taking the genre of illustrated novel to a whole new level. Utilizing wordless, chronological pictures and pages of articulate text, the story unfolds somewhat like watching a black and white silent movie. Neither words nor pictures alone tell this sotry of a thief, a broken machine, a callous old man, an eccentric girl, and many, many secrets. All are artfully entwined to relay a magical and intriguing mystery set in 1930s Paris.

Hugo Cabret is a twelve year old orphan, a keeper of clocks, and often a petty thief. He lives in the walls of a bustling Paris train station; secrets and concealment shroud his very survival. Hugo is trying desperately to repair a mechanical man, called an automaton, an intricate machine that he hopes will present him with a message from his deceased father. Thefts of parts to help him fix the automaton shoon land Hugo in serious trouble with a toy shop owner, and together with the man's unusual goddaughter, the boy's covert existence is threatened.

Inspired by real historical characters and films, Selznick's newest book is a masterful blending of narrative and art appropriate for all ages. The movie rights have been picked up the book by Warner Bros. and Initial Entertainment Group.



book jacket for Losing it: and Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a TimeLosing It: and Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time by Valerie Bertinelli
3 star rating

Genre: Adult Non-fiction
Staff Reviewer: Nelson Dent, Norman Public Library

Who knew that Valerie Bertinelli and Eddie Van Halen actually hooked up right here in Norman, OK after a concert at the University of Oklahoma? Valerie Bertinelli's forthright account of the girl-next-door sweetheart who played Barbara Cooper in the hit 1970'2 show, One Day at a Time,describes her ups and downs with her weight, her twenty plus year's marriage to rocker Eddie Van Halen, motherhood, and life's struggles in the celebrity spotlight. Losing It: and Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time spares no secrets, yet doesn't use the blame game some celebrity tell all books tend to do. After reading this book, I respected Bertinelli's choices as a writer as she keeps her integrity intact and reveals the struggles she has with her weight gain in a way anyone can understand (which I always thought she looked great) but it not only gave her perspective as an actress, but from a regular down to earth person which was the narrative style she used throughout the book. This book is a quick read, nothing too shocking and repeats itself in a few places, but it's no different than another perspective from a former TV star. I do like the Oklahoma connection and Valerie proves that she came out okay in the end and is enjoying a new outlook on life.

 


book jacket cover of Confessions of a Pagan NunConfessions of a Pagan Nun by Kate Horsley
5 star rating

Genre: Adult Fiction
Staff Reviewer: Cindy Stevens, Center for Reader's Services

Don't let the title of this book put you off. Confessions of a Pagan Nun is a hauntingly beautiful novel of the life of an Irish woman in the sixth century that spans the decline of pagan druidism and the ascent of Christianity. Gwynneve is born in a small village in Ireland and apprentices herself to a druid, Giannon, who instructs her in the druid ways and, more importantly, reading and writing. Gwynneve sees the tonsured Christian monks and hears the stories of the hero, Jesus, who overcame death and promises a place free from fear, hunger and cold. She sees more villages accept the new Christian ways and sees the beauty of the old ways being lost. The transition from one tradition to another isn't always smooth or easy. Horsley allows the reader to experience this ancient and pivotal time through superb use of language and wordcraft.

Gwynneve spends her last years as a Christian nun in a cloistered monastery tending the flame of Saint Brigit, recording her memories and copying the word of God. Gwynneve describes herself as small and frail. She is very humble and self deprecating. The end of the book came as a surprise to me, but was perfect in the telling. Confessions of a Pagan Nun wasn't finished when I turned the last page. The story lingers and I find myself thinking about Gwynneve and Giannon.

Another non-fiction book, How the Irish Saved Civilization: the untold story of Ireland's heroic role from the fall of Rome to the rise of medieval Europe by Thomas Cahill, recounts the tremendous contribution the Irish made to early Christianity and the incredible scarcity of literate people at that time. Ms. Horsley wrote Confessions of a Pagan Nun and it is a work of fiction, but I must warn the reader that this book reads like an ancient work, written on velum. I was prompted several times to reread the title page where it states that it is fiction. Both of these books are highly recommended.

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