Wednesday, September 28, 2005

It's Banned Book Week, my fellow bibliovores! Check out this article for a quick discussion about banning with the author of the much-challenged Annie on My Mind.

Then go read something that would give the banners a heart attack. Try Fahrenheit 451, which has been banned itself for bad language. The irony is mind-boggling.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Counterfeit Son

Yes, indeed, it has been over two weeks since I posted. Not that I haven't been reading, it's just that I couldn't recommend my evolutionary psychology book to anybody, except maybe as an insomnia remedy.

I have had this book (and one other) sitting around on my "I should really return this to the library" shelf for awhile. I just didn't because I didn't want to do so before I blogged it. But the library wants it back, so here we go . . .

Book: Counterfeit Son
Author: Elaine Marie Alphin
Published: 2000

Six years after his sudden disappearance, Neil Lacey has returned to the bosom of his family. It's like a dream come true for the Laceys, except for one thing: he's not their son.

His name is Cameron Miller, and he's the son of a recently deceased serial killer. The same serial killer, in fact, that kidnapped and murdered the real Neil. All he wants is a regular life, a home and a family. He wants to be Neil, and forget he was ever Cameron.

But the deception is getting harder and harder to carry off. . . .

While Alphin doesn't go into graphic detail, she makes it clear that Cameron suffered physical and sexual abuse at the hands of his father for many years. Cameron's own reaction to this is almost more disturbing--he accepts it as normal and expects it from his new family. She also creates realistic and believable reactions, not only for Neil's parents, but for his sister and brother as they all have to work through the family tragedy turned upside-down.

As Cameron adjusts to having a family and people who care about him, his struggle between the desire to keep it and the growing realization that his actions are wrong intensifies. You're not sure until the very last moment which is going to win.

The ending feels just a little deus ex machina, but overall, this is a great book.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Owl in Love

I've been reading some good books lately. Here's one of them.

Book: Owl in Love
Author: Patrice Kindl
Published: 1993

Fourteen-year-old Owl is passionately in love--with her science teacher, Mr. Lindstrom. Oh, she knows what the magazines say about girls and crushes, but she knows it's more than that. And why? Because silly little crushes are for regular girls. She is a were-owl, and owls mate for life. Therefore, this is True Love. What's a slight species difference, not to mention an age gap of about twenty-five years, to Destined Mates?

Owl is confident that with enough patience, she and Mr. Lindstrom can be together. But then she starts encountering a weird, inept barn owl in her nightly flights, and a mysterious, wild boy living in the woods behind Mr. Lindstrom's house. And suddenly True Love doesn't seem so important anymore . . .

Fantasy author Holly Lisle says that every fantasy author gets one "gimme" per story--one element or event that's just utterly illogical, but that the audience will accept anyway. More than one gimme is pushing it pretty hard. Moreover, once that gimme is there, you have to proceed logically from that point. Owl in Love is a perfect example of this. Once you manage to accept the idea that a fourteen-year-old girl can turn into an owl at will, the rest of the book is meticulously logical and beautifully crafted.

This book has been called hilarious, weird, haunting, and original--all by the same reviewer. The great strength of this book is Owl herself. She watches regular people and their activities with detached puzzlement. Her comments on humanity are enough to make you roll on the floor, more so because they're delivered in such solemn and serious language. And it's obvious to everyone but Owl herself that she shares quite a lot with these nutty humans she holds herself separate from.

The minor characters (everyone seems minor next to Owl) are just as delightful. From sweet and unexpectedly crafty Dawn (who has proclaimed herself Owl's friend, somewhat to Owl's bafflement), to Owl's darling and somewhat daffy parents, to the object of passion himself, Mr. Lindstrom, and the weird and wild boy Houle, Kindl creates a cast worthy of the star of the show.

Owl's in love . . . and you will be too.

Friday, September 02, 2005

People all over the world are donating money to the Red Cross and similar immediate-relief efforts to aid the victims of the Katrina. By all means, do so. In fact, follow this link to do so. Agencies Supporting Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts at MSN. You can take your pick of agencies.

Just please, think about giving your money to these people too.

The LLA Disaster Relief Fund is now accepting monetary donations to assist school, public, and academic library restoration efforts in southeastern Louisiana.
Please make checks payable to: LLA-Disaster Relief and mail to:
421 South 4th St
Eunice, LA 70535
from the Louisiana Library Association Homepage

What about after? What about when people come back to the places they lived? By that time, certainly many months in the future, the focus of the media will be diverted away from New Orleans and onto other things, but rebuilding money needs to come from somewhere.

School, public, and academic libraries have been devastated as surely as have private homes. Their facilities have been destroyed, their collections carried away or irretrievably damaged. But it's the nature of the beast that libraries come way down the list. Help make sure New Orleans and surrounding areas can rebuild their libraries as well as their homes.

And if you know or are anybody who worked for the New Orleans Public Library, please go to The NOPL Blog and post contact information.

A book rec tomorrow, I swear.