19 December 2011

Going Underground

Going Underground
Susan Vaught
young adult contemporary fiction

I might not be the most up to date on what teenagers are up to these days, but Susan Vaught is. I would not have even thought of the plot of this story. A 14 year old and his 13 year old girlfriend are understandably curious about sex. They engage in some petting and they take photographs of themselves naked. They then send the pictures over their cellular telephones to each other - sexting.
Because of a wrinkle in a state law, even though the children are close in age, the boy is charged with rape, and producing and distributing child pornography. He will also be labelled a sex offender for the rest of his life. He is not allowed to socialize with children and a number of other restrictions. Everything about his future seems to be restricted. The only adult that even gives him a chance is a drunken cemetery keeper!
The book certainly brings up a number of ethical questions about the way that well meaning representatives may pass laws that don't work out the way they intended.
I would not feel comfortable recommending this book to a 13 year old, but others might. I recommend that this book be on a college reading list for an ethics or law class. It also could be the subject of an adult book discussion or for a reading circle for parents of teenagers, especially if those parents, like I, have never given the idea of sexting a thought.

15 December 2011

Time in Between (Tiempo entro Conturas)

Time in Between
Tiempo entro Conturas)
Maria Duenas
translated by
Daniel Hahn
adult historical fiction

This book came to our library as an uncorrected proof, so I didn't know what to expect, except that it is a hefty 615 pages and has an interesting cover.
All I knew about the Spanish Civil War before reading this book is that it was some time between WWI and WWII and Ernest Hemingway was somehow involved in it or wrote about it.
This novel follows a poor/middle class working girl who is a seamstress like her mother before her. She does not know her father and when the Spanish Civil War breaks out, high fashion is not on anyone's top priority list. The mother and daughter are out of work and out of money. The mother finally contacts the daughter's father who is able to give them enough money for them to start anew in a fresh place. Sira, the daughter, is young and impressionable. She follows a man to Morocco where he bilks her out of all of her money, leaving her pregnant and bound for debtor's prison. As the novel progresses, Sira matures and encounters a number of historical figures in North Africa, Spain, and Portugal. There is romance, exotic places, intrigue, drama, times of poverty and times of plenty and looming above it all - war.
Of course, we are reminded of Casablanca. As a Star Wars fan, I am also reminded that George Lucas has often taken characters and place names from Jewish and African mythology and history. This novel is set in part in Tetouan, Morocco. Doesn't that sound a lot like Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker's home planet of Tatooine?
I enjoyed this novel very much. Now I want to travel to Spain and Morocco!
If you like this novel, you can read next "Dreamers of the Day" by Mary Doria Russell.


Will Hobbs
book on compact disc
Narrated by Ed Sala
children/young adult adventure fiction

An orphaned boy has troubles with foster parents and the group homes he has been in. He runs away from a detention facility and ends up in the middle of a desert area in the western U. S. There he befriends a biologist who is monitoring and nursing some California condors that have been released into the wild. An unlikely friendship forms. Of course, there have to be some bad guys, so there are two arms smugglers who want to use this desert wasteland as their storage facility and don't want any pesky kids or condors to ruin it for them. There is also some hanggliding.
Overall, it is a good adventure story. Ed Sala's voice lends mature, full narration.

12 December 2011

Fortune's Fool

Fortune's Fool
Mercedes Lackey
adult fantasy fiction
Book 3 in the 500 Kingdoms Series
read on my Kobo E-book reader

Oops. I didn't know I was skipping from book 1 to book 3 in a series, but in this case it worked out okay. The books are set in the same fantasy realm, but do not feature the same main characters. I think I only encountered one "spoiler" bit of information that must have happened in book 2.
This series that is based on twists in fairy tales features the Little Mermaid and a Seventh Son who fall in love. The conflict is not with their parents objecting or anything, but in their professions. The mermaid is a spy and in the Sea King's secret service. The Seventh Son of a (land) king is a rover who with his music pushes magical blessing on his father's kingdom. The mermaid and the prince must team up along with a variety of other Champions (dragons, an underground Queen, etc.) to rid the land of a maiden-stealing djinn (genie). How is that for a fantasy quest! Now all we need is some unicorns. Yes, there are unicorns!
Lackey's series is fun and a quick read for teens and adults. If you love Oz and/or Xanth, then you will aslo fall in love with the 500 Kingdoms.