Friday, December 23, 2011

Vampyres of Hollywood

Vampyres of Hollywood  (Vampyres of Hollywood, #1)Vampyres of Hollywood by Adrienne Barbeau
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I stand by my earlier statement in a review of a vampire book where the author had changed the vampire rules so that they could walk in the sun: YOU RUIN VAMPIRES AND YOU RUIN THE TENSION. There is something deliciously dark (no pun, or maybe, yes, pun intended) about having to live in the night.  Darn it! They are creatures of the night! When you change it, you ruin it.  I'm sorry, that's just the way I feel. Moving on....

So, the rest of this story features a madcap murder mystery that barely holds together.  It is told in alternating chapters by the police detective and the Chatelaine of Hollywood (head vampire and scream queen actress) as they both try to figure out who is killing actors, agents, directors.  There is some language and mentions of bondage and S&M clubs and the sheer brutality and gore of the murder scenes pop this up to 11th grade at least if not a faculty read.

I think the authors traded in a fast moving plot for character development.  I never felt an emotional connection to any of the main characters and therefore didn't care if they lived or died, making it hard to get through the end of the book.  I did finish it, but at the end instead of being breathless at the huge fight, I was ho hum.

And the huge fight at the end?  Doesn't make any sense.  It's not even worth writing a spoiler to try and figure it out.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Collection Development: A Few Thoughts

This year we have a new headmaster.  While, this is nothing new to us in terms of what we do, we have found some small changes in policy are necessary.

Fortunately, what that means is that we are getting more departments involved in the selection of materials.  Of course, one of those hot button areas is the health and sex education sections of the collection.  One thing I would advise that school librarians do is to periodically look over your section, take the whole section down and then ask the relevant teachers to come over (for coffee and donuts, wine and cheese, whatever works for your school) and have a short meeting and go over the books that you currently have and have some print outs of books that you may want to order.

By opening the dialog and asking for help on a proactive basis and by having the materials right in front of them, you can ask if the materials meet the curriculum and the needs of the students.  Since that section can be a hot button issue, you can also begin to create some allies and a conversation about what it is that they need and how you can help them with resources.

Furthermore, with this particular subject matter, I would advise that you treat material on it as you would graphic novels.  My policy with graphic novels is to never put one on the shelf until I have looked or read every page, because graphic novels can look innocuous and yet be very adult and you don't want to label them for middle school, when they are for high school only.  I don't trust reviews on graphic novels.

Death Comes to Pemberly

Death Comes to PemberleyDeath Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's tough to take on one of the most beloved books of all time.  Well, at least if you love Pride and Prejudice, you REALLY love it.  So, anyone messing with it had better get it right.

I've tried to read several books that were "sequels" to P&P mostly because I miss those characters so much that I want someone to get it right.  PD James does and she doesn't.  She does what she does best, which is write a mystery.  She tries really hard to stay true to the characters and to move us down the road to finding out what has happened and what is going to happen in their lives and for that I think she deserves some credit because she did do it in a pretty entertaining way.  I was intrigued enough to read the whole book and I am one of those people who will drop a book after the first 50 pages.

I think she also had a vision in mind for Lydia and Wickham (Did he do it? Will he be convicted?) and for that I love her.  You can tell that for all these years the way Austen left Lydia and Wickham in Elizabeth and Darcy's world as their family connection has bothered her and James needed to write out her own version of how to correct it for the Darcy's.  You have to love her for going to this trouble.

However, what is missing from the book is characterization.  We get a lot of plot and little of the entrancing interactions between characters that was so entertaining in P&P.  And that is where my chief disappointment lies.  She tried so hard and obviously had a clear vision of where she wanted to go.  She was thorough in her use of language of the time (although not as gifted as Austen, but who could be), but she lacked the interplay, dialog, scenes and outright fighting and comedy that marked P&P as such a classic.

In the end, it is worth reading to see her unique vision, but it is not a true sequel.  I am still waiting for that to be written.

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