Friday, December 18, 2009

Recommendations from Julie

The Storm in the Barn (graphic novel) by Matt Phelan
1937 Kansas dust bowl. 11 year old Jack is not happy. His sister has dust pneumonia. His dad is angry and depressed because of his failing farm. And Jack is the target of local bullies. But Jack sees something strange in the old Talbot barn... The story is fantasy blended with realism, done with great empathy. Phelan has done a great job of presenting this desperate time and place.

Skim (graphic novel) by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki
This is a touching story of a teenage girl struggling with issues of death, suicide, sexual preferences, friends and lifestyles.

Friend of the Devil by Peter Robinson
Alan Banks and Annie Cabbot are working on separate cases in different towns: Banks, the murder of a young woman in an area called "The Maze" and Cabbot the murder of a paraplegic in a wheelchair. The story is highly suspenseful plus Robinson's detectives have a lot of depth; you feel like you get to know them.

Push by Sapphire
Reading a book like this reminds me of what a sheltered life I have lived. Poor Precious! Her father began molesting her when she was still in diapers. She was pregnant by him at age 12 and again at age 16. Her mother beat her. She couldn't read. And if that's not enough, when her father died of aids she discovered that she too was HIV positive. Fortunately for her though, one of her persistent teachers got her to enroll in a different school which was geared to meet the needs of people just like Precious. This is a very fast, easy read that leaves you troubled but hopeful.

Dust Devils by James Reasoner
James Reasoner missed his calling--he should be writing graphic novels. This story is short and fast with little narrative and lots of action. It would make a great graphic novel. As a non-graphic novel it's short and sweet; enjoyable but lacking in lasting effects. But it would be so great with pictures!

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain
I saw Bourdain speak recently so had to read (I listened in this case) his book. It was a great listen (read by Bourdain). Lots of rough, rude and crude language, very up front about everything. I learned more than I ever knew, or wanted to know, about being a chef. This book definitely left me wanting more. I can't wait for him to pick up where this one left off so I can hear more about the TV show.

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