Sunday, June 7, 2009

Books I've read this week - The Ballad of West Tenth Street; The Raven's Pool

Wednesday I read The Ballad of West Tenth Street by Marjorie Kernan ©2009. This was a win from Confessions of a Real Librarian. (Thanks again!)

From the back of the book – “Once upon a time in Manhattan there stood a pair of fine old brick townhouses on West Tenth Street. One had a blue door with a tarnished brass knocker in the shape of a dolphin. The other was empty. Behind the blue door lived Sadie, the widow of a famous British rocker who died of an overdose, and two of her children, Hamish and Deen.

The children manage to muddle along as best they can with a loving but distracted mother. But their whole world changes when the house next door gets a new owner – a mysterious Southerner who quickly endears himself to his new neighbors, taking them – and their friends – under his protective wing. In doing so, he transforms everything.”

This was a different story. The rocker dad has been gone for 12 years but the family is barely functioning. The oldest daughter, Gretchen, is so bad she had to be committed to an institution. The mother drinks most of the time and the two younger children, 12 and 14, are the responsible ones. When a rich, older gentleman moves in next door with his wonderful cook, Ettie, he takes an interest in the family. Another big part of the story is a homeless man, known as Capt. Meat, who also becomes a friend of the children, and his cat, Titus. The mother gets called away to England, leaving the children behind. They end up staying with the gentleman next door and several things happen. The whole story wasn’t very believable to me but has been described as an urban fairytale. Towards the end of the book one of the characters dies and I ended up wishing I hadn’t read the book.

Today I finished The Raven’s Pool by Deborah Cannon ©2004. I won this book last April from TCM Book Reviews. I had started it several weeks ago and just couldn’t get into it. I finally decided either to read it or pass it on.

From the back of the book – “When half-Haida archaeologist Jake Lalonde arrives on Cedar Island in search of the origins of the Raven myths, he is embroiled in a battle with a ruthless developer who plots to turn his archaeological site into a them park.

Grad student Angeline Lisbon faces a tough choice : Jake and the protection of a sacred site or Radisson and his promise of wealth and power.

The developer is relentless, bound to take what he wants. And what he wants is much more sinister – and much more ancient – than either archaeologist can imagine.”

This book takes place along the northwest coast. Like the blurb says, it's about the battle between the archaeologist who's trying to preserve the past and the billionaire developer who’ll stop at nothing to get what he wants. It’s also about the native myths and legends surrounding the raven. Jake is trying to find something that will give the government a reason not to sell their property. Radisson wants it all including Angeline, who has to decide to work for Radisson or give her love and support to Jake. Radisson is used to getting whatever he wants so when things don't go his way, it really infuriates him. He plans on building a theme park based on the local native history. He’s promised most of the people in the area jobs at his new park if they’ll sell their land to him. Jake has a string of 'accidents', falling rocks, no brakes, etc. They don't stop him but he also never seems smart enough to put 2 and 2 together. Angeline uses her beauty to try and get what she wants and then is upset when Radisson wants to take her to bed. She and Jake are almost killed as the story reaches its climax. Fairly predictable story line.

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