Thursday, January 31, 2008

From My Young Adult Book Shelves

ALICE, I THINK by Susan Juby

I loved this book!

And I think I have found a new favorite author.  I bought this book at a library sale, and I'm so glad I did.  I found it a delightful read, a true hard-to-put-down book.  I knew it was going to be a delightful book when I read the first paragraph.  Any book that begins, "I blame it all on THE HOBBIT.  That, and my supportive home life." can only be wonderful!

Alice is a home-schooled, intelligent girl with slightly wacky parents, but an adorable, normal younger brother, and a therapist she calls Death Lord Bob.  Alice's parents had raised her to be creative and freely expressive, and the first week into her first grade school experience proved that this is not necessarily a good thing when dealing with your peers in a school setting.  So they took her out of school and taught her at home.  Now, at 15, she is going to go back to regular high school and is wondering how things will work out this time around.  The story is told with a lot of satire and wry humor.

Simply Audiobooks summed up their review of the book this way: "Alice, I Think is the story of a teenager attempting to survive her parents, her hometown, and her reentry into society. Told through keenly observant, satirical journal entries, Susan Juby's first novel is wise, witty, and utterly original."

Juby is very witty, and I cannot count the times I read a sentence and then had to re-read it just so I could experience again the pure joy of her turn of phrase. The description of Juby herself, on the back flyleaf, says it all:

Susan Juby dropped out of fashion design college at a young age and it shows. She lives on an island with her husband, James, and their dog, who prefers to remain anonymous. Alice, I Think is Susan Juby's first novel. She hopes there will be many more, as a career in fashion does not, at this point, seem likely.

I look forward to finding and reading more of her books and perusing her web site.

My copy of ALICE, I THINK is a very good ex-library copy with dust jacket and was published in 2003 by Harper Tempest.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Only Brave Tomorrows

From My Historical Fiction Shelves . . .


by Winifred Bruce Luhrmann

Published by Houghton Mifflin Company in 1989

I found this book at a thrift store and thought it sounded good.  ONLY BRAVE TOMORROWS is the story of a 15-year-old girl, Faith, who travels to New England in 1675 during King Philip's War.  King Philip was the Wappanoag Indian leader who waged a year-long war against the English colonists.  Faith's father is a pious Puritan who is zealous not only about his religion but about the New World, and is determined to settle in one of the Massachusetts colonies, despite the Indian warfare.

Although the main characters are fictional, real historical characters are mentioned, such as the minister Increase Mather, and militiaman Captain Turner.  This is the only novel I could find published under the author's name of Winifred Bruce Luhrmann.  On the back leaf of the dust cover the author says that she got the idea for the book, in part, from her own family genealogy.  Her family has records indicating that they may be descendants of Metacomet, known to the English as King Philip.  She states that she wanted the New England life of the complex Puritans and the equally complex Native Americans to "come alive."

I enjoyed the book.  It was a good, easy read with realistic characters.  The story is well told, and the main character shows the type of strength and determination I like to see in the character of a young girl in a novel like this.  I would let my 12-year-old daughter read this, and I believe she would enjoy it.  It is not deep, although it covers a very bloody action during America's early years. 

My copy, as I said, is an ex-library copy in good shape with a well-maintained dust jacket.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Turning The Pages

Turning The Pages

A few months ago someone, and I don't remember who, directed me to this site called Turning the Pages, which is part of the Online Gallery of the British Library web site.  I had saved it to look at later, and about a month ago was "later".  I was very enchanted with it, so I thought I'd share the info with you.  I really enjoyed reading through the Jane Austen's The History of England in her own hand.  This is a scanned copy of the book in her own handwriting, complete with little vignette sketches that she did.  You can "turn" the pages, using your mouse, just as if you were holding the book in your hand.  If her handwriting proves to be too hard to decipher, you can choose to read it in text or you can choose audio and listen to it being read as you read along.  You can also magnify portions of the text.

There are several very interesting pieces on the site, including a personal notebook of sketches of Leonardo DaVinci, Diamond Sutra -- the oldest printed book, and the first atlas of Europe, compiled in the 1570s.

So check out Turning the Pages when you have a moment.  And if one my readers is the one who first suggested it to me, then I apologise for taking so long to try it out!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

From My Mystery Shelves . . .


by Robyn Page

       Published in 2000

This is one of my favorite paperback mysteries on my shelves.  I got it the year it came out, and I believe I have read it three times since then.

Robin Paige is the pseudonym of the husband and wife writing team of Susan Wittig Albert and Bill Albert.  This is as yet the only book by Paige that I have read, and I really must remedy that situation!

From the Berkely Prime Crime web site: "Sir Charles Sheridan is many things––an amateur scientist, a renowned photographer, a skilled detective, and married to Kate Ardleigh, an American writer of the popular, yet frowned upon, 'penny dreadfuls.' Together with the help of historical figures, like Beatrix Potter, they uncover sinister secrets and solve murders."

In Death At Whitechapel the historical figure is Jenny Jerome Churchill, mother of Winston Churchill.  Scandal is threatening Winston's blossoming political career by someone who threatens to have proof that Winston's father was Jack the Ripper.  In order to help Jenny, Kate and her husband must delve into the mystery of the notorious murderer, discovering along the way a web of intrigue that goes all the way to the Royal family.

The Alberts use research that actually had been done that connects Jack the Ripper to Churchill, to Queen Victoria's son, "Eddie", and others, as well as the society of Freemasons.  I found the book intriguing, and have to say that in my opinion, of all the "Jack" theories out there, this one sounds the most plausible to me.

Check this one out at your local library and indulge in a thoroughly good read.  You won't be able to put it down.