Saturday, February 27, 2010

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantasky
Warning: Parts of this review may annoy you; I am identifying with my inner teen.
Details: OMG! I love this book. Twilight has nothing on it. On Thursday night, I read about 37 pages. I started again on Friday night around 7:15 and finished with page 349 at 1am. I just couldn't stop. I felt so compelled. It was great. I probably have not been so absorbed into a book world since the Twilight series.
Basics: Lucius Vladescu shows up in rural Pennsylvania to tell Jessica Packwood that she is really a vampire named Antanasia Dragomir who was bethrothed to him at her birth. The rest of the story is about their hate/love relationship, her adjustment to life as a vampire, and the political implications of bethrothals.
Style: In contrast to Twilight (which has a great plot and average to below average writing), this book is well-written. The letters from Lucius to his uncle are so great . They smack of irony and sarcasm and, like, commentary on American teenagers.
I'm not doing justice to this book. Please just read it!
Exciting Find: There is a continuation of the story at

Friday, February 26, 2010

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

OK: As you can see from my titles, I LOVE Laurie Anderson books! She is a user of figures of speech and symbolism. These things made me happy as a teacher and, I find, they are satisfying to me as a reader.
Premise: This is Anderson's first work of historical fiction. It is set in Philadelphia during the break-out of yellow fever in 1793. It is a coming-of-age novel, specifically dealing with womanhood.
Reading: It took me a day of reading (which is 30 minutes snatched after the boys go to bed) to get into this book. I was afraid I was going to be disappointed, but I wasn't.

Exciting Find: I finished the Winter reading program at the Smyrna Public Library yesterday (5 books in 5 weeks!). When I went to collect my "gold prize," I accidentally went to the wrongshelf and discovered playaways. I have heard them mentioned before, but I didn't know what they were. They are portable books on tape...they are MP3 players for people who don't own one (like me!)...they are an MP3 player with one recorded book loaded onto it. So exciting! This will revolutionize my walking exercise in the summer! Which one did I pick up by accident (fate?)? I picked up Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson; it is her 2nd work of hstorical fiction! No really was what I just happened to pick up. "That's what I call Positively Providential!"
An excerpt of this book can be found at

Reading Status: I am still listening to The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. I am reading Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey. It's about dating a vampire.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Death of a Valentine by M.C. Beaton

The title is actually Death of a Valentine: A Hamish Macbeth Mystery. I know, I know; this is not one of the titles listed in my last post. I had been on hold for this book for about two months; when it came to me on Sunday (ironically, Valentine's Day); I just started reading.
Update: I am on p.46 out of 214 in The Catcher in the Rye. I'm just not into it. I'll keep trying. I am still listening to/ enjoying The Devil in the White City. It is, however, a book on tape that I listen to on the way to work. I have had snow days, been ill, and had more snow days over the last two weeks, so I am not finished with this title yet.
Cozy: This book is an English cozy, that is, a typical who-done-it. Hamish Macbeth is the hero of the Hamish Macbeth mysteries. He is a red-headed policeman in Lochdub, Sutherland, Scotland. He isn't the brightest, but he uses his people-skills to find out the truth. This book, like the other Hamish books, kept me changing my opinion of the murderer until the end. I will say, though, that this was the first of Beaton's book about which I have guessed correctly.
I also enjoy Beaton's other mystery series with the heroine Agatha Raisin.
Question: What is your favorite book series?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Topic: This book is about a girl dealing with the loss of friendship and a friend, anorexia, and cutting herself. It is similar to Speak, a favorite by Anderson, in that this is a book where a girl faces her issues. It is different from Speak because the heroine created her own hell.
Analysis: This book was hard for me to get into because the topic is so foreign to me. Once I was in it, it was hard to get out of my mind because the topic was so upsetting. The heroine is so pitiful in her messed-up-ness. The teacher in me found the book depressing because it highlighted the fact that there are some children that I am not equipped to handle because they need way more help than I can offer; there are some children who may not be able to be helped at all...sobering.
Literary Merit: I always love Anderson's similes and metaphors. She also has great symbolism: spider web. Seriously, read her and enjoy!
Scary Fact: One of the girls in this story is named Cassandra Jane. This was a potential name if I had ever had a daughter. Cassandra is Jane Austen's mother's and sister's name and Jane is, obviously, Jane Austen's name.
An excerpt of this book can be read at

I'm not listening to Rebel Angels any more; can't do it. I'm still listening to The Devil in the White City; the snow days have slowed my progress on it. I think I'll pick up J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye. I've never read it. It's on banned book lists, which probably means it's great!