Saturday, June 23, 2012


A number of books have hit the New Shelf.  Here are reviews of a few of them from our library reviewer, Susan Arthen.

A Slave in the White House: Paul Jennings and the Madisons by Elizabeth Dowling Taylor

I liked this book, but I wanted to love it. Taylor has put together the very interesting story of Paul Jennings, a slave owned by the Madisons, who wrote his own book, A Colored Man's Reminiscencs of James Madison­.   I felt the story was really interesting, but I also felt that some of Taylor's suppositions about what Jennings's thoughts and feelings were did not have that ring of truth I was looking for in  the book. Paul Jennings was clearly a special man, or the recipient of special treatment. He was literate, and once freed became a landowner and none of these things would have happened if by accident of birth (or purchase) he had ended up in a different family. The book did make me wonder how many more slaves could have had this kind of success, how many good minds and good hearts never had the chance to flourish. 

Wayward Saints by Suzzy Roche

This was a fun read; Mary Saint is the small town girl who made it almost all the way to the top as a rock star and then slowly slid back down and out of the profession all together. There are a lot of 'familiar" characters in the book; an abusive father, the lover/bandmate who dies accidentally, and more. But there are also unexpected characters that give a twist to the story and so you think you know where it is going but you are not sure.  There are several subplots, from the growth of Mary's mother, to the visions Mary has had, to the sad dreams of a local high school teacher, but they all work together. The story never feels muddy or confusing and brings us to a fairly tidy conclusion. Tidy but not perfect.

Switched by Amanda Hocking

This is the first of a young adult trilogy about changelings and trolls. It is an updated slant on a familiar fantasy theme, both in literature and in life, that of not feeling like you belong in your family, that you are a changeling and your real parents will come for you. When Wendy's  "mother" tries to kill her because she knows Wendy is not her child, she is locked away as crazy. But she knew the truth.  Wendy finds out she is a princess, that she now belongs in a sumptuous castle-like house and that she belongs. However, she did not plan on being a troll nor having to engage in endless social maneuvers. I read the book straight through in a few hours and I think YA readers will enjoy it.  I am waiting for the second book to see what plays out, as the last few pages from this first book leave you hanging!