Thursday, January 19, 2012


by Eleanor H. Porter
218 pages

Pollyanna is a children's book set in the early twentieth century.  It is about a girl who has recently become an orphan after her missionary father dies.  Pollyanna is then sent to live with Aunt Polly, who is just "doing her duty" by taking her in.  Even though she is an orphan living with a dour aunt, Pollyanna stays optimistic by playing the "Glad Game."  Pollyanna's game makes a huge impact on the whole town, but Pollyanna's ability to play the game is about to be tested.  Will she lose her optimistic outlook entirely, or will she find gladness once more?

Overall, I liked this book.  It had a nice, optimistic tone and was a quick read.  However, I really don't think anybody can be as intrinsically good as Pollyanna is.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

License to Pawn

License to Pawn: Deals, Steals, and My Life at the Gold and Silver
Rick Harrison & Tim Keown
272 pages

This book is an autobiography of Rick Harrison, star of History Channel's Pawn Stars.  Harrison discusses his family history and early life as well as his present situation as a star of a reality TV show.  Along the way he tells how his father struggled to start a second-hand store in Las Vegas and how that store eventually transformed into the successful pawn shop it is today.  "The Old Man," Corey, and Chumlee also contribute to this book, adding their perspectives and discussing how they helped contribute to the pawn shop's present day success.

I occasionally watch Pawn Stars, so it was interesting to get insight into the real people behind the show.  I admit that Chumlee's chapter sounded more like Tim Keown must have written the whole thing.  However, I underestimated Chumlee's ability to be thoughtful and reflective and was pleasantly surprised.  I also thought Rick was a bit full of himself in places, but overall, it was an interesting read.

"Wither" (Chemical Garden #1) by Lauren DeStefano

358 pages

Rhine is sixteen years old. Thanks to the "modern science" of her parents' generation, she has only about four years left to live. Genetic engineering went completely wrong, leaving an entire generation embedded with a virus that kicks in at about age twenty for girls and twenty-five for boys. Scientists are rushing to find a cure, but there's no hope in the foreseeable future. This phenomenon has driven the world into despair, with poverty through the roof, orphans wandering the streets, and women sold as polygamist brides in order to have more children. When Rhine becomes such a bride, she vows to escape. She's going to play nice until her rich hubby and his overbearing father trust her, but as time goes by she finds herself growing closer to her "sister wives" and even warming to her young, naive husband, who is falling in love with her. She realizes that he doesn't know that she was kidnapped and forced to wed him--that was his father's doing. And it turns out that his father has many more sinister operations hidden in the mansion.

I liked this book a lot more than I expected to. The cover didn't interest me at all, but I'd heard from several friends that it's really good so I gave it a shot. The dystopian setup is pretty bizarre and unique. The dying-at-twenty thing is almost too random and specific, but maybe it's just weird enough to be realistic. If there is ever a huge sci-fi style shift in society, it's likely to be caused by something really crazy that the traditional speculators never saw coming. Anyway, the characters are really interesting, and I like that they're multidimensional and hard to figure out (okay, not all of them, but several). The ultimate conclusion is fairly predictable, but I'm okay with that. The setup for the next book in the series is just right, and I'm looking forward to it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Little Women Letters

The Little Women Letters
Gabrielle Donnelly
355 pages

The Little Women Letters is a work of fiction that gets its inspiration from Louisa May Alcott's famous novel Little Women.  In The Little Women Letters, Emma, Lulu, and Sophie Atwater are descendants of Jo March, the feisty middle sister of the March clan that Little Women focuses on.  Emma is the dependable older sister (like Meg), Lulu is the outcast bohemian middle sister (like Jo), and Sophie is the pretty, charming youngest sister (like Amy).

The book is written mostly from the point of view of Lulu, the middle sister.  Lulu is 24 and has no clue what she wants to do with her life (I know how that feels).  While up in her mother's attic, she finds letters from Jo March written to her sisters.  From these letters, Lulu finds solace and clarity to finally make big decisions about her life.

I read this book because I grew up reading Little Women and am a huge fan.  The Little Women Letters, however, was a bit disappointing.  The writing was a little cheesy and everything worked out a little too perfectly.  I'm sad to say, but I don't think I would recommend it. You're better off just reading (or rereading) Little Women.  

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Twenty Gold Falcons

Twenty Gold Falcons by Amy Gordon
216 pp                                                                                              

From the author of Gorillas of Gill Park, here's another sort of mystery with many of the same characters from that first book.  Aiden and her mom have moved to Gloria, leaving behind their family farm after the death of Aiden's father.  Aiden has trouble settling in but through a crazy cast of characters, some of which turn out to be relatives, and a story about falcons and gold coins, she gradually finds a way to be comfortable in her new environment.  This is a Mark Twain Nominee for 2012-2013.
Kim F