Books to curl up with: a librarian's musings

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Good Kin in more than one way

I am a big fan of Anne McCaffery's Pern novels, so I was a little concerned when I saw that she had written Dragon's Kin with her son, Todd. I've never been a big fan of collaborative novels. Is writing ability passed on in the genes?? The answer is yes. I am about halfway through and it is classic Pern so far.

This story is set in about the middle of Pern's history. Kindan is the son of a miner, who is helping a new mining community get going. His father is also bonded to the community's watch-wher. Dragon's kin, the watch-wher helps warn the miners of danger in the pits. However when a sudden pocket of gas is hit there is no time for warning. Kindan looses his father and brothers. An orphan, Kindan thinks his life is leading him toward being a harper to sing and teach in his society. What changes and challenges lie him ahead??

Friday, January 23, 2004

Tale of One Bad Rat

People sometimes think because graphic novels are stories in pictures that they must be bits of fluff. Not so. Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot tells the story of Helen. Helen is a runaway, who left an abusive home. She hits the streets in search of a new life. She finds that life away from her home isn't any easier. Running through the book is her connection with Beatrix Potter, who also declared her independence. One Bad Rat isn't an easy book to read, but it is a good book and a valuable book.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Benni Harper

I realized this weekend that I have never blogged about one of my two favourite characters - Benni Harper. Benni is the star of Earlene Fowler's mysteries. In the first novel, Fool's Puzzle Benni's husband has died six months earlier in a drunk driving accident. Benni has moved into town for the first time in her life, leaving ranch life behind. She gets a job as the director of the museum and art co-op in San Celina. Slowly she is rebuilding her life, when ceramic artist, Marla, is killed at the museum. Gabe Ortiz, acting police chief, tells Benni to keep out of it. Her role was reporting the body and that's all. Since Benni's dippy cousin, Rita, is involved somehow, Benni can't seem to step out. Benni finds her life being shaken up again.

The mystery is good, but it is the characters that bring you back book after book - fiesty Benni, the way too attractive Gabe, Benni's bossy loving grandma - Dove, her best friend Elvia. With each book the cast grows and you'll love the expanding circle.

Fowler has been nominated for several Agatha Awards and has won one for Mariner's Compass. Each novel's title is a quilt pattern and are best read in order. Fool's Puzzle; Irish Chain; Kansas Troubles; Goose in the Pond; Dove in the Window; Mariner's Compass; Seven Sisters; Arkansas Traveler; Steps to the Altar; Sunshine and Shadow

Thursday, January 15, 2004

A Reluctant Warrior

Gregor, the Overlander by Suzanne Collins will appeal to fans of Harry Potter. Gregor is a young teen, who refuses to hope or look to the future since his father disappeared several years ago. The book starts at the beginning of summer. A summer he won't be going to camp, because he has to look after his youngest sister, Boots, for his mom. While doing Gregor is doing laundry, Boots plays with a ball and goes near the vent in the laundry room. When she crawls in, Gregor goes after her only to fall into another world - Underland.

In Underland Gregor finds a world totally foreign to him. All he wants is to take Boots and go home. However he finds himself drawn into a war in which the Underland humans are fighting the rats. Even if he is mentioned in a famous Underland prophecy as the warrior, Gregor just wants to get home. Until he learns the rats have his dad. Then he will need the special talents of the 8 questors and even his litttle sister Boots.

Gregor, the Overlander started a little slow, but picked up once he was on his quest. Since there are other prophecies in Underland, I have a feeling Gregor will be going back.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004


Hole in the Universe by KC Cole explores the idea of nothingness from a scientific perspective. While the book progesses to explore the idea of nothingness and space, my favourite part is Cole's history of the idea of zero. For a number representing nothing, zero raised quite a stir when it entered the world of mathematics. Since it seems like such an inoccuous concept now, it really caught my attention.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Graphic Novels.... more than a comic book

In preparing for a discussion of some graphic novels, I found two I thought I'd blog about. They are ying and yang. Really couldn't be more different.

Epileptic 1 by David B. Epilepsy is the demon that haunts this family. The author's older brother Jean-Christophe develops a seizure disorder as a young teen. Finding a cure becomes the family's obsession in a time when the options didn't yield many results. This book is like reading a biography through a painting by Salvador Dali. The artist uses images from history and mythology to demonstrate feelings and dreams about his experiences. A haunting book about a haunted family.

Liberty Meadows - Eden by Frank Cho. Liberty Meadows could not possibly be more different from Epileptic 1 if it tried. Liberty Meadows is a refuge for animals that have lost their habitat. Two of the lead human characters are the incredibly beautiful Brandy, the animal psychologist and the incredibly besotted Frank, the vet. Other main characters include Ralph, the midget circus bear and Leslie, a bullfrog. However other animals at the refuge hold their own too. This collection of comicstrips reminds me a great deal of the goofy, sick humour of Bloom County. If you loved Bloom or Calvin and Hobbes, Liberty Meadows is for you.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

DE Stevenson

Born in England and the wife of a military officer, DE Stevenson wrote quiet novels about the people and places she knew in England and Scotland. Sometimes classified as romances, these books are as much mild novels of manners. Often characters and places may show up in other novels, so you get to revisit old friends.

Miss Buncle's Book and Miss Buncle Married (also combined in Miss Buncle) are great novels to start on. Shy and self-effacing, Barbara Buncle lives in a small town on the dividends of her stock inheritance, but the checks are getting smaller and smaller. She decides she has two choices - raise chickens or a write novel. She decides to write a novel, but what starts as a simple novel gets out of hand as her character based on local villagers take on a life of their own. Can she get it published when she is done? What will happen when they recognize themselves??? Chaos and hilarious attempts at intrigue as the village looks for the anonymous author. Silly, charming and a wonderful evenings read.

Stevenson revisited Miss Buncle, by then Mrs. Abbott, during WW II in the novel - The Two Mrs. Abbotts.

If you find you like the works of DE Stevenson, there is a Yahoo Group devoted to reading and discussing the books, which is free to join.