Friday, May 2, 2014

Sick Day Reading on a Beautiful Day

Thursday, May 1 (rabbit rabbit rabbit).  Sunrise today was at 5:52, sunset will be at 8:22- Woo HOO; all that daylight!

P-Patch hens dust bathing in the warm dirt
It's going to be HOT today- amazing how quickly the weather changes around here.  It was cold last Thursday (see last post) and it may be a record breaker today, mid-80s!  Last Saturday I spent a couple of hours weeding out along the big rosemary bush at the edge of the house - you might remember that I mentioned that it had blossomed and I didn't see any bees in it.  Well, they found it!  You can hear the bees humming in and around it, honey and bumble, the branches bouncing when the bumbles leave one and move to another.  You know what was really cool?  Weeding and feeling bees fly into me, boomp, and then careening off back into the bushes.

What a week for books!  I had lunch with my friend Colleen, a rep for Penguin children's books, last Friday and she generously shared 4 new YA books with me.  I've wolfed down two of them, am halfway through the third and have the fourth on the bedside table.  On that Friday, a warm and sunny one, I was in the middle of Mink River, by Brian Doyle, and put it down for an hour (reading in a local bar) to dabble in Althea and Oliver, by Cristina Moracho.

And then, I woke up on Saturday with an awful sore throat and stayed home on Monday, sick, sick sick .  Ah, but I love being sick if I don't have to work.  Those long hours reading and sleeping, sweating and cooling, books, socks and kleenex discovered, pushed down to the foot of the bed, under the blankets.

Sick day books:

Reading Mink River on a ferry in a cloudbirst
Mink River is a book for adults, a song of a book, about a small Oregon coastal town and the people who live and love in it.  It isn't a book for hurrying through, you have to settle in with it, moving through it like the river moves between its banks to the ocean.  Like Ken Kesey and his Sometimes a Great Notion,  Mr. Doyle knows his Oregon landscape, weather and people.  I miss the people in this book already, and I am more homesick for Port Orford than I have been in a while.  The sequel, The Plover, is on my bedside table, too.  (Mink River: Oregon State University Press.  Plover: Macmillan.)

Pennyroyal Academy, by M. A. Larson, is more a middle grade novel than YA but it was great!  A fairy tale variation on the whole  princess theme, Pennyroyal Academy is a training school for young women (and one boy) who want to become Princesses, bold, courageous women (and, now, one boy) who battle dragons and witches.  Princess is not just a title at Pennyroyal, it is a way of life and a military role.  Those who become Princess are brave and strong, enduring months of training under a Fairy Drillsergeant. 

Evie, our hero, is a young woman with no memory, wrapped in a dress of spider webs, who has just escaped a witch and is heading toward Pennyroyal Academy accompanied by a young man who is off to become a knight. Her journey to Princess is athwart in horror and terror.

Great action, horrible jealousy, a little romance, Pennyroyal Academy will be a hit with the 10 and ups and moms who are really tired of the standard fairy princess world - if Paper Bag Princess, by Robert Munsch was in your stack of read alouds, this is the book for you.  (Pennyroyal AcademyPenguin.  Available 10/14.  $16.99.) (Paper Bag Princess:  Available now.  $6.95.  Paperback.)

Probably not the cover! On my way to work after a sick day.
And the last book to keep me company on what was, from the window, anyway, an amazingly beautiful, warm and breezy day, was one I only just started before I faded into a very slightly feverish nap, Dove Arising, by Karen Bao.  You all know I love science fiction, real science fiction where you can believe that what is happening can happen and Dove Arising is one of these books.  The author is very young (I think Colleen said she was 17 when she started writing this book) and quite talented.  Dove Arising is the story of Phaet (pronounced Fate) Theta, a young gardener on the Moon, colonized by scientists to lower the chance of conflict due to religious controversy.  Phaet's family is broken up when her mother gets arrested and she joins the military to try and provide a better life for her siblings.  It's at that point she discovers that everything she thought she knew about her world is wrong.

Dove Arising was fun and thought provoking, filled with political machinations and really nasty people willing to hurt someone to get ahead.  It is fast-paced, humorous, and I loved the military training scenes a lot; I think this could be a great book for both sexes.  I am hoping there will be a sequel but it ends in such a way that it feels okay to wait.  (Dove Arising: Viking.  Due August 2014.  $17.99.)

It's going to be a good year for books if just these few titles are anything to go by. 

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