Monday, December 28, 2015

The Doll Collection, edited by Ellen Datlow

The Doll Collection is a set of 17 new tales of dolls from 17 different writers. The editor made one condition: no evil doll stories. The stories do plumb the depths of the "uncanny valley" of human comfort level with dolls.

I did not enjoy The Doll Collection as much as Haunted Dolls (edited by Seon Manley), but as a doll collector it was definitely still worth reading.

As usual with story collections, there are two star stories and five star stories. I thought the strongest story overall was "Homemade Monsters," about a boy who turns a Captain Kirk doll into Godzilla and what happens after a neighborhood bully intentionally breaks it. As a doll collector, I thought Seanan McGuire's "There Is No Place for Sorrow in the Kingdom of the Cold" was the best story. In it, a doll maker explains the true purpose behind her craft, and the creepy boyfriend who makes fun of her work gets what is coming to him. You can tell reading this story that the author collects dolls herself.

(The author note says, "Seanan McGuire is an avid doll collector, and she shares her room with several hundred blank, soulless eyes. In addition to her doll problem, she has a small writing problem, and she publishes and average of four books a year".)

There are some truly disturbing stories in this collection, and some that just didn't work for me. Some didn't really have much to do with dolls. Still, I recommend this collection for anyone who enjoys short stories and has an interest in the creepy/cute paradox of dolls.

The Galesburg Public Library has both The Haunted Dolls and The Doll Collection in the adult FICTION area.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Publisher description: "When Gabriel Ash's wife and kids were kidnapped four years ago by Somali pirates, his life spiraled out of control. He left his job working for the British government and moved to a small town where he descended into near madness. But with the help of his dog, Patience, and his friendship with young police officer Hazel Best, his focus returned. So when he discovers that his wife is still alive, Ash is once again filled with hope and fear. Hope that he has another chance to find her and their two young sons; fear that, in trying, he may bring about their deaths."

One thing I like about Jo Bannister is that she excels at drawing emotional relationships between members of the opposite sex who are not romantic pairs. This is brilliantly displayed in Desperate Measures, the third book in the Gabriel Ash/Hazel Best series.

Desperate Measures is full of plot twists, okay, not all entirely plausible, but the story kept me guessing and I thoroughly enjoyed it. At one point I actually had to skip ahead because something happened that I both believed and could not believe.

I love the character of Gabriel Ash, the depiction of his struggle to cope with his PTSD, and his ability to hear his white lurcher Patience speak. (Patience is a great character too.) I also like that Gabriel is clever and intelligent but not a James Bond type. ("He had never been licensed to kill. He'd never been licensed to shout loudly or carry a pointed stick. He was a desk jockey - always had been, always would have been until he took his pension and the CBE that went with it. ... He was the kind of man who apologized to people who bumped into him in shop doorways." (p. 216))

If you like English police procedurals with lots of character development, I recommend all of Jo Bannister's series. If you also  are drawn to depictions of characters with PTSD, so much the better as far as the Gabriel Ash/Hazel Best series goes. Can't wait for the next book in the series!

The Galesburg Public Library has many books by Jo Bannister in multiple formats. The first book in the Gabriel Ash/Hazel Best series is Deadly Virtues.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

Posted for reader Holly:

I recently had the pleasure of grabbing the book My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout.  This book is about a woman whose mother comes to visit her while in the hospital after 8 years of estrangement from one another.  The pages have seemingly few words for the intense amount of emotion and meaning that is captured within them.  Even though the main character is specifically from a troubled family, this book will reach anyone who knows the power and connection between a mother and child.  I was simply amazed by what I felt from this book, as if the emotions were hovering  in the air... as if I were sitting in the hospital room feeling the healing of the character both physical and emotional. Highly recommended. 

 - Holly  

My Name is Lucy Barton will be published in January and will be available at the Galesburg Public Library

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Edge by Roland Smith

Genres: Adventure, Thriller, Middle Grade
Series: Peak #2
Release Date: October 6th, 2015
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Source: Checked out from GPL

Add on Goodreads
The International Peace Ascent is the brainchild of billionaire Sebastian Plank: Recruit a global team of young climbers and film an inspiring, world-uniting documentary. The adventure begins when fifteen-year-old Peak Marcello and his mountaineer mother are helicoptered to a remote base camp in the Hindu Kush Mountains on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. When the camp is attacked and his mother taken, Peak has no choice but to track down the perpetrators to try to save her.

It’s been so long since I read Peak but I remember it fondly. Unfortunately, this sequel did NOT live up to my memory of Peak. I love a fast-paced adventure but this one didn’t do much for me. It was quick and easy to read but that's pretty much it.
For starters, I think this book needed more development. Everything happened too fast and the tension was never the right amount. As a result, I wasn’t as invested in what was happening. I also found the entire situation unbelievable. A lot of things didn’t add up and there were way too many loopholes. For example, the climber from Australia is some guy who cannot even climb but the entire event is supposed to be full of professional young adult climbers. Could they not find a single kid who knew how to climb in Australia? I am just like woah.
Peak, for the most part was an okay kid, but he said some obnoxious things that made me wonder whether or not he lived under a rock (yes I am trying to be punny.) I guess when you’re a child prodigy, anything is a possible…
Maybe pass this one if you, like me, haven’t read Peak in years. Or if you haven’t read either, Peak might be something cool to try! Mountain climbing for the win!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Genres: Graphic Novels, Young Adult
Release Date: September 5th, 2006
Publisher: First Second
Source: Checked out from GPL

Add on Goodreads
All Jin Wang wants is to fit in. When his family moves to a new neighborhood, he suddenly finds that he's the only Chinese American student at his school. Jocks and bullies pick on him constantly, and he has hardly any friends. Then, to make matters worse, he falls in love with an all-American girl...

Born to rule over all the monkeys in the world, the story of the Monkey King is one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables. Adored by his subjects, master of the arts of kung-fu, he is the most powerful monkey on earth. But the Monkey King doesn't want to be a monkey. He wants to be hailed as a god...

Chin-Kee is the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, and he's ruining his cousin Danny's life. Danny's a popular kid at school, but every year Chin-Kee comes to visit, and every year Danny has to transfer to a new school to escape the shame. This year, though, things quickly go from bad to worse...
I was in 8th grade when I first read American Born Chinese. I loved it but re-reading this book took my love to a whole new level.  So what prompted this re-read you ask? Well, I was reading The Arrival, another great graphic novel, for one of my classes and then suddenly, I remembered ABC. I remembered the yellowness of the cover and I remembered the way the author weaved together 3 completely different stories in such a surprising way and then I wanted to re-read the book. I wanted to experience it from a more ‘grown up’ perspective.

I kind of want to make re-reading the book an annual thing for myself now because I have so much love for it. American Born Chinese deals with cultural identity, bullying, stereotypes and learning to love who YOU are.

Jin Wang moves from China Town, San Francisco to a school where he is the only Chinese-American kid in his class. The teacher basically gets his entire life story wrong on the first day and makes it evident to him how much he sticks out. As the years go by, he seems to become more and more self-conscious of all the stereotypes surrounding his culture and how that affects the way people view him. 

His story runs parallel to the Monkey King's and the two stories interact in such interesting ways! Of course everything about this book is interesting to me but we won’t go down that rabbit hole.

So do I recommend this book? HECK YEAH I DO! Also if you’re a fan of Fresh off the Boat, this book would be a great read.