Kelly Strom: Vacation book picks panned out
I was headed out of town for a vacation a couple of weeks ago and hadn't yet picked out my books to bring along. You'd think that the reading selections would be the first thing a librarian would pack for a trip. Well, sometimes life gets in the way and I'm forced to grab some books at the last minute and hope for the best.
This time, I picked some titles that were quite different from one another — but both good in their own way.
The first one is by an author who had an outstanding debut thriller last year. Elizabeth Haynes is a new author whom I have recommended several times to people who enjoy suspense. Her debut, "Into The Darkest Corner" was one of my favorites when it was released, so I was excited to see her new one, "Dark Tide."
Although still thrilling, this has a different feel to it. The main character is more light-hearted, and there is some romantic play in this one that wasn't touched on as much in her first novel.
Genevieve works in London at a high-pressure corporate job. After her parents pass away, she feels more and more like she wants to do something different with her life. She works even harder to earn bonuses and increased pay, hoping to get enough someday to buy a boat and fix it up.
A friend of hers suggests she should use her dance skills to earn money at a gentleman's club. It sounds so clich, but Genevieve decides to just look around at her options; maybe there will be some place where she can have fun doing what she used to love, earn some money and stay safe.
She finds such a place at The Barclay. The rules are strict, the clientele is membership only and the management seems to care about the welfare of the employees. So she begins dancing on weekends to earn some extra cash for the boat. Eventually she earns enough to buy the boat but needs a bit more to fix it up and live on it during her year off.
This is when her plans start to fall apart. She manages to get her dream, but at what price?
The other book I picked out was very different. I am a big fan of the children's and teen books by Lemony Snicket. He's most known for writing the "Series of Unfortunate Events" books, which spawned a movie starring Jim Carrey. As always, the movie wasn't nearly as good as the books, but I digress.
(For some other column, I'll tell you all about Lemony Snicket, but for today, we'll stick with the author's books under his real name, Daniel Handler.)
When I found out that Handler wrote books for adults too, I was excited to try one. He is known for his quirky characters, colloquial writing style and incredible wit.
So I picked up "The Basic Eight." I will be honest with you: It took a little bit to grab me. I just felt that it started slow. The idea of the story revolves around the lives of eight friends in high school. They are not your "normal" teens. They are clever and worldly and well-read. They enjoy theater and classical music.
From the beginning of the book, the reader is told that something very bad has happened over the course of the story. A death.
The story leading up to this death is told through two different time lines in the point of view of one character. She is writing the story in order to set the record straight in her defense of the death.
So I guess it took me a little bit at the beginning to sort out what the theme was, but once I understood that, and really got to know the other characters, I was good to go.
By the time I was halfway through the book, I was determined to keep reading until I found out what had really happened one terrible crazy night at a party given by this group of teens, "The Basic Eight."
I hope to continue to bring you some fun summer reads in the next couple of months. Hopefully one or both of these will get you started.
And as long as you're reading, be sure to sign up for our summer reading program. Kids aren't the only ones who get to play. Adults can read books and win their own prizes. Come in and sign up or just visit http://www.champaign.org for more information.
Kelly Strom is the collection manager at the Champaign Public Library. She orders books, magazines, newspapers, audiobooks and CDs.