Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

First, I want to say welcome to the new followers. I don't post often, but I hope what I post is entertaining in some way.

For various reasons, I never got around to wishing everyone a Happy Hanukkah, Happy Solstice, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, and whatever other holiday people celebrate in December.

So now I can say to everyone, Happy New Year! Cheers. And here's to a great 2010 for all of us.

I'll leave you with a few recommendations. Managed to read 107 novels in 2009 (yes, I should read more nonfiction...) and here are my last Gems of the Week for 2009:

by Frank Cottrell Boyce (Harper, pub date 1/19/2010), for ages 8 to 12.

Anyone who read and loved Millions as much as I did will also enjoy Frank Cottrell Boyce's new novel. But it's a very different storyline. Here, twelve-year-old Liam Digby manages to get himself onto a rocket ship. How? By pretending he's his own father. And how, you ask, could he possibly fool the scientists into thinking he's 30-something? Simple. Liam is incredibly tall and mature for his age. He's already shaving.

Ok, so if you can accept that premise, you'll have a lot of laughs with this very entertaining novel, in which the narrator convinces us that playing video games really does prepare you for life. Like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl, Cosmic centers around a contest. The lucky winners will get a chance to go to China and ride the best thrill ride ever invented. Liam talks his friend Florida into going as his "daughter" because the contest is open to kids and their fathers. When they get there, they find out the rocket is a real rocket, not just a thrill ride. And only one dad can go up with all the kids. So in a sort-of contest within the contest, Liam (who, remember, is only 12) has to compete with the other dads to be the best dad, the one dad who gets to go into space. Luckily, Liam is a very observant kid and knows all about dadliness.

Sound goofy? It's hilarious.

In sharp contrast is Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (Little, Brown, official pub date is January 2010, but it's already on the shelves), ages 12 and up.

Dark, brooding and lushly atmospheric, Beautiful Creatures is a young adult paranormal romance mixed with Southern Gothic. And unlike so many young adult paranormals, it's told from a guy's point of view. Ethan Wate comes from a long line of southerners. He's spent his entire life in Gatlin, South Carolina, and can't wait to graduate and get the heck out. Then Lena Duchannes comes to town...

"She was powerful and she was beautiful. Every day was terrifying, and every day was perfect."

Lena, the niece of the town recluse, has certain powers. Things happen when she's around. And Ethan is inexorably drawn to her.

I'm sure Little, Brown is hoping this will be the next Twilight (same publisher). It could well turn out to be.


  1. Oooh, I just finished Cosmic and never even thought about how similar it was to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! Even Dr. Drax was a little like Willy Wonka - imaginative, a bit silly, and not terribly worried about putting kids in danger. I like it!

  2. Thanks, Katie. Good point about Dr. Drax!


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