Book Review Rats Saw God

****Thomas, Rob. Rats Saw God. 1996. 224 p. Simon & Schuster’s Children’s Publishing.

Ages: Around 14 or 15 and up

 

            Steve York starts out his senior year, at a new school, high, and failing English.  An insightful guidance counselor reads Steve’s straight-A junior transcript and presents a challenge: write a 100-page essay about his life and pass English.  The story flips between Steve’s difficult relationship with his astronaut dad and his first serious romance during junior year, and then coming to terms with life in his senior year. Good romance story from a boy’s point of view written by the creator of Veronica Mars before his TV career.

 

Parental Notes: Sex between teens, in detail.  Good discussion on birth control and conversation of responsibilities between teens having sex. There’s also swearing, drinking and some drug usage—although there are consequences.

****Levithan, David. Boy Meets Boy. 2003. 185p. Knopf.

 

Ages: 12 and up

 

           Utterly charming teen romance about two boys in love. When witty out, going Paul meets shy, artistic Noah it’s love at first sight.  Of course stuff gets in the way. Paul’s ex-boyfriend wants to get back together, his best friend Joni is dating a control-freak, and his friend Tony needs Paul to help with a rare problem: religious parents that can’t accept he’s gay.  Noah’s been hurt before and is unsure if Paul’s really interested.

 

Paul lives in the kind of kitschy fun town you’d find on TV; the cheerleaders perform on motorcycles, the transvestite quarterback is also prom queen, and the local sweets shop is called “I Scream”.  In this town being gay is just another flavor of life.

 

The romance had me rooting for Paul and Noah to get together.  The side story with Tony and his religious parents is resolved in a way that’s respectful of religion, parents, and gay individuals, and the whole story is just a sweet, romantic, fun read.

Parental Notes:  Couple of kisses between two boys in love

 

Book Review: Raising The Griffin

Wyatt, Melissa. Raising The Griffin. 2004. 279p. Wendy Lamb Books.

 

Genre: Realistic Fiction

 

Ages: 13 – Adult

 

            Ever wonder what Prince Harry’s and Prince William’s life is really like?  What’s it like to have your family honor questioned because your most recent romance is plastered all over the tabloids? To worry about assassination attempts?

 

Meet sixteen-year-old Alex Varenhoff, son of the exiled King of (fictional) Rovenia.  Alex’s uneventful life of exiled royalty in Britain is changed overnight when Rovenia overthrows their communist government and reinstates the king as the ceremonial leader over parliament, making Alex the prince of Rovenia. Now Alex lives in an ancient castle where he needs to make an appointment to see his own parents. He’s tutored by an uptight soldier, not that much older than himself, and his new life is full of rules for everything he does from getting dressed to leaving the castle. Alex just wants to go back to the way things were but the country’s fledgling democracy depends on his family’s performance as royalty. Alex must be the prince the people of Rovenia want—something Alex could care less about – until he starts meeting the Rovenian people and Alex isn’t sure what he wants.

 

Raising the Griffin offers a life-like behind-the-scenes tour of the fascinating details of modern royalty – from the cumbersome protocol of public engagements, to dating while the tabloids watch, to the very real pressures and dangers of pleasing the masses of a hopeful new country. This is not a male version of the Princess Diaries but a far more serious look at what royalty means in the real world. Good read that kept me thinking about it long after I finished.

 

Parent Info: There is a brief non-graphic sex scene.

Book Review: The Bartimaeus Trilogy

Stroud, Jonathan. The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1: The Amulet of Samarkand. 2003. 464p. Miramax

Genre: Fantasy

For Ages: 10 to Adult. Would make a good bedtime or classroom reloud.

Bartimaeus is a thousand year old demon who has seen and done everything. He’s kept his wry sense of humor while building the Egyptian pyramids and fighting in the Great British -Czech War of the Demons. How is it possible that a 12-year-old magician’s apprentice summoned him?

Nathan is a 12-year apprentice with energy and drive to burn, but all his mediocre middle-management master will let him do is listen to endless pompous nattering and clean up the workroom. When his master lets powerful magician Simon Lovelace humiliate Nathan, Nathan takes his learning into his own hands and plots his revenge. He has ambitious plans and they start with his first big demon summoning: Bartimaeus. 

My son loved this book and insisted I read it. Great read. My husband read it and liked it too. The narration alternates between sarcastic Bartimaeus and a third person narrator. It’s a darker, more political world of magic than Harry Potter. Bartimaeus and Nathan make an interesting pair and watching their power struggle/friendship unfold is both tense and entertaining.
This is one of those rare series where the third book is as good as or better than the first two and ties things up in a satisfying way.

Sequels:
Book 2: The Golem’s Eye
Book 3: Ptolemy’s Gate

September 2006: InBrief

Quote of the Month:

“There are murderous murders out there, with nothing but murder on their minds, and they’ll stop at nothing—even mur-der.” John Oliver on the Daily Show 9-11-06

Highlights: School’s started.  I have time to write.  The fall TV season is starting and I’ve been healthy all month. Wow.

[sings] It’s the most wonderful time of the year. [/sings]

Books Finished:

Looking for Alaska, by John Green ****

Kicked, Bitten, and Scratched, by Amy Sutherland ***

Fanfic Read:

Neptune Navigator Online ****

Movies Seen:

Rent (on DVD) ****
The Motorcycle Diaries (on DVD) **

Music I Listened To:

Rent CD (movie version)  ****

Sub Jobs: 

2 half days in the same kindergarten class ****

TV Watched:

Battlestar Galatica (last half of season 2) ****

Bones (new season) ***

Colbert Report ****

Daily Show ****

Gilmore Girls (season premiere) ****

How I Met Your Mother (new season) **

Scrubs (finished the last of the Tivoed episodes from last season) ***

Supernatural (season premiere) ****

Veronica Mars (rewatched parts of season 2 episodes) ****