Posts Tagged ‘Carol Ballard’

Book Update

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

I know that at the moment people are probably more interested in a crochet update, but some of these books were read literally weeks ago, and I’m actually enthusiastic about discussing the more recent ones, so on we go:

12. Eldest by Christopher Paolini

In this book both the story and Paolini’s writing skills widen and improve. He brings in several additional points of view and threads to the story, which add interest and excitement during Eragon and Saphira’s long training period. That is important for the ongoing tale, but Paolini was wise enough to recognise that he wouldn’t have been able to spend so long on it, or to go into so much depth with it, if that’s all that had been happening in a large portion of what is supposed to be an adventure story.

I amn’t going to claim that Paolini has matured into a a brilliant author in either this or Brisingr (see below, presuming I catch up that far tonight), but the steady improvement gives me a lot more hope for the promise he shows than Eragon did alone.

13. Explaining Cerebral Palsy by Sarah Levete
14. Explaining Asthma by Angela Royston
15. Explaining Autism by Robert Snedden
16. Explaining Diabetes by Anita Loughrey

This is a fabulous new series for teenagers on a relatively common selection of medical conditions and disabilities. It is intelligent, with accurate information (where I or my co-readers had expertise enough to tell, which was enough to assume similarly for the rest) about the medical impacts, and positive honesty about the social impacts. Unlike some other series on these issues that I have come across, it is aimed just as much at the young person directly or indirectly affected by the condition in question and his or her friends and siblings, as at their young researcher doing a science project.

Many an underinformed adult could do with reading these clear and comprehensive non-othering volumes.

17. Brisingr by Christopher Paolini

Mostly as above, but I think Paolini could still work on his consciousness of his less major but important characters, and where they’re coming from as people. Too often they are ciphers, and motivation for others rather than the motivated themselves. (Plus one poor woman seems to have been heavily pregnant for two or more solid books, while another is visibly pregnant (to herself and her husband at least) within about a week. So maybe it’s the timings he needs to work on…)

18. Explaining Blindness by Lionel Bender

This covers a variety of visual impairments. I’ll have to find out have they made it – or even better the others – available in any more accessible formats (e.g. large print, Braille, or electronically).

19. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Hm, I assumed I’d reread this last year as well, but apparently not. It’s a comfortable but still intriguing go-back-to, and I think I was in the mood for that at the time (yes, it was weeks ago). It retains the capability to be very thought-provoking even after several readings, as much about the craft of the writing as about the chronologically mixed up lives of Henry and Clare. I thought about going through it sometime, in strict chronological order for either one of the pair, but Niffenegger has obviously put so care into how things are presented to us that I didn’t do that this time.

20. Explaining Down’s Syndrome by Angela Royston
21. Explaining Cystic Fibrosis by Jillian Powell
22. Explaining Deafness by Sarah Levete
23. Explaining Food Allergy by Carol Ballard

More good and useful books. I’m glad I read them all, but they’re easiest to describe as a series.

24. The Youngest Bride by Menucha Chana Levin

A well-written novel (slightly let down by the ending round-up for me, but not badly) set in the Jewish communities of 19th century Russian domains. The period is well explained, as are the emotions of the main character. It’s sweet, but in no way sickly.

25. Maggid Stories for Children: Holiday and Around the Year by Chaviva Krohn Pfeiffer

I started flicking through this, and stopped and read it from cover to cover. The stories are deftly retold from the author’s father’s anthologies for adults, and accompanied by lovely pictures. The layout and text font and size are well chosen for both reading to a young child or group of children, and for a newly confident reader to enjoy alone.

26. Chocolate Liqueur by Sarah Kisner

This was very obviously a magazine serial story, although the smoothing for the novel version has been well done. It isn’t bad, and actually didn’t fall exactly into what I anticipated being the fairytale ending from page 16. However I did wonder why that obvious possibility was never even considered. There are unaddressed class issues in this book. (The addressed ones are made much of, then skimmed over.)

27. A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg

Another comfort reread (I couldn’t sleep at all a few nights ago) I’m surprised I didn’t return to last year. As well as not reading much at all so far this year (I was in the 80s, not the 20s, last March) I seem to be challenging myself less. I am reading more for my studies this year, but rarely a whole book through, so that stuff doesn’t show up here, of course…

Anyway, this isn’t a winter book for me, just a sweet one with lots of funny moments. It doesn’t shy away from giving characters very hard backgrounds, although we tend not to be told more of these than we need to understand the character.

28. Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy

There’s definite influence from the Harry Potter novels here, but instead of the downfall of magical, and thus world society, being threatened in England and Scotland, this time it’s in and around Dublin. I didn’t find it all that culturally Dublin or Ireland, but spotting places was fun. (And I would point out that the Wax Museum and the Municipal Gallery are literally around the corner from each other, if not on the same block. Apparently the Wax Museum is about to move, and thus presumably won’t be as downtrodden as in this book, but that’s how it was in 2007 and for much of the previous decade or two.)

Anyway, this was an enjoyable romp, and made internal sense. Stephanie is a likeable, self-confident (but not arrogant) twelve year old with a definite mind of her own. I would read the sequel if it came my way, I think.

And apparently I’ve caught up! Which is good, but I really should read more…

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Nurturing Environments

Thursday, 5 June 2008

I finally got back to my log cabin blanket last night, as even though it’s big, it was the only single bag project I could find to take along to the group last night. We were back in Starbucks after the renovations, but in a different section, as they haven’t put back ‘our’ tables yet. I don’t know is this temporary or long term.

152. Shining Star by Chani Altein

This is a sweet but thought-provoking character novel, about Adina, the ‘ordinary’ middle child of a very talented family, who feels she should do something to make her stand out of the crowd, even though the many good qualities she puts to good use generally require the personal connection to be appreciated.

Adina has the support network of family, friends, teachers and neighbours we could all use, and enjoys the giving aspects of that just as much as the receiving ones, but that doesn’t stop her having some hard decisions of her own to make and stick to along the way.

153. Eco-Action: Buildings of the Future by Angela Royston

Scary-because-it’s-clear-and-upfront information on global warming and how our buildings do and should impact upon it, including lots of suggestions for small-scale changes. (Turning off lightbulbs, proper insulation and also writing to politicians to encourage the larger-scale changes.)

A good incentive to finish my blankets and shawls, and reduce the use of heating this winter!

154. Keeping Pets: Mice by Louise and Richard Spilsbury

Mice don’t need many lessons in insulating their homes – pet ones simply need to be provided with the correct materials! I never fail to be surprised how small mice really are; the pictures in this book do make them look very cute indeed.

155. Physical Science in Depth: Heating and Cooling by Carol Ballard

And here’s how it all works, through freezing, boiling, deposition and sublimation, to affect every substance and creature out there.