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This installment: two fantasy books in a young adult series; a novel that straddles SF and romance genres; the second in the Millett trilogy; and a CD of an old Hispanic favorite .

 

      Fever Crumb and A Web of Air by Philip Reeve

A patron with teenage children drew my attention to this series with great enthusiasm, and I got so caught up in it I read both books in a row. The oddly named heroine is a hybrid of human and Scrivner (different colored eyes but no characteristic skin markings). The latter species is being exterminated as a threat to the current repressive society. Fever is a foundling, brought up by the guild of engineers who live and work in the huge sculpture of a head and value emotionless science. This is a post-apocalyptic society that seems like a luddite throwback, with constant power plots and skirmishes. In the second book a barge of actors takes center-stage, and Fever gradually sheds the constraints of her upbringing. Lots of action lively mis-en-scene, fascinating take on technology.

 

   Still Life with Shape-Shifter by Susan Shinn

 

Melanie lives in constant fear that her half-sister Ann won't return. Because Ann feels the call of the wild acutely and goes off for long stretches as a white husky. Of course no one must know of this anomaly. When writer Brody shows up, following rumors, she tries to keep him at bay but he's persistent, charming, and in the end a good guy. The biggest problem: an animal's life is shorter than a human's and young Ann doesn't have much time left. This book straddles the genres of sci-fi and romance. It's a lovely read.

 

   How the Dead Dream by Lydia Millett

 

This is the second book in her trilogy, but I read it after finishing the last, Magnificence. Here we learn more about the mysterious T, who starts as a successful real estate developer but after the accidental death of his true love goes into despair and then tries to connect with and protect the animals his projects have threatened. His primary investor, Fulton, is the essence of gross testosterone, and T's grief and vulnerability puts this in bold relief and hastens his disaffection with his profession. The book leaves us hanging as T, in Belize, is stripped to essence, lost in the jungle, yet with a weird sense of resolution. Elegiac and fascinating.

  

   Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros

 

This is one I read back in 2002 and keep putting on my Staff Picks shelf at the library, so decided to listen to it and was richly rewarded. It's an epic, for sure, bringing us through the multigenerational Reyes family from Mexico in the old days to various migrations back and forth to U.S. cities. The young narrator tells all, in increments, and teases the primal story out of the "awful grandmother." Mismatches and missteps abound, making for tangled and fascinating tales. We get "notes," too: historical contexts and updates about real places and characters embedded in the book. Lots of Spanish words and phrases throughout, adding considerable sabor. Cisneros performs the story herself, perfect pitch.

 

Back next Monday.

 

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