Wednesday, July 15, 2015

July reads

I've flopped down into the fiction section of my reading list... aaahhhh...  It's pretty hot and humid here so it's a relief to come in and flop down on the couch and pick up a book.  The hard part is choosing which one!  Here are some that I've been reading this week.

The first one was some wacky fantasy fiction.  It's called Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye by Tania Del Rio and designed by Will Staehle.  It has kind of an old fashioned, Roald Dahl-ish feel to it (which you notice right away if you read the table of contents, where every single chapter starts with "In which...", like chapter 1 "In Which a Mysterious Guest Arrives").  The main character is Warren the 13th.  He comes from a long line of Warrens who are the caretakers and operators of the Warren Hotel.  Sadly, the hotel has fallen on hard times because Warren's father (the 12th) died years before, leaving the hotel to his brother, Rupert, and his son, Warren (13th).  Rupert has not been particularly helpful with the upkeep and married a woman a few years earlier, who seems unkind, at best (think about James' aunts in James and the Giant Peach).  Anyway, a mystery unfolds around "The All-Seeing Eye" which no one is quite sure what it is but everyone seems to want it.  It's a fun, crazy story and I can't wait to actually see the book because the advanced reader's copy I read had the pictures kind of catty-wampus.  What I could see were gorgeous pen and ink drawings with puzzles and I think that's what's going to really make this book.

The second one I read is more young adult than the other two.  This one is called "Dream Strider" by Lindsay Smith.  This one is set in a world where dreams are the most important thing.  It's a highly stratified class society, where the bottom dwellers are essentially slaves and the society elite spend their time analyzing dreams and trying to protect their society.  The main character, Livia, starts out in the lower class, dwelling in the tunnels but works her way up to serving in a house and is noticed by a professor who wants to study her abilities to dream.  Her ability is fairly unusual... if she is takes the correct potion, she can dream stride, which is to take over another sleeping body.  This is a pretty good thing to do if you are trying to spy on people, which is what the upper echelons are trying to do because the word is out that someone is trying to put the Nightmare beast back together so that chaos will rule again.  It has a lot of interesting opportunities for discussion, starting with dream analysis, but the commentary on class structure, government, the ethicality of research, are really big.  There is also some romantic pieces that can also provide some good discussion (two of the secondary characters are gay).  I liked this one a lot and it has a super cool cover.  

The last one I read is historical fiction.  Like the other two, it was an advance reader's copy from Netgalley.  This one is called "Night on Fire" by Ronald Kidd.  It's about a girl named Billie (her parents wanted a boy) who is growing up in Anniston, Alabama.  It's 1961 and things are about to change in a big way.  When the Freedom Riders come to town, Billie is forced to question everything she knows to be true.  Does her maid Lavender love her family?  Are the people of her town good people?  Is it right for black and white people to be together?  It's very well written (lots of great similes!) and the story was compelling enough that I read it all in one sitting.  It would be great connected to "Revolution " by Deborah Wiles or "Lions of Little Rock" by Kristin Levine.  

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