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    Tuesday, May 27, 2008

    The Luxe by Anna Godbersen
    Elizabeth Holland is one of the social ruling class of Manhattan in 1899. She is well-mannered, rich, from an important family, and of course, very beautiful. Her best friend is her greatest rival, her personal maid is jealous and vindictive, her sister finds her bland and weak-willed. When her mother tells her that their family has been left with heavy debts after the death of Elizabeth's father, it becomes Elizabeth's responsibility to save the family from poverty by marrying a young man of high social status and wealth -- a cad who has his own reasons for marrying her. But Elizabeth has a secret, a dangerous secret that could turn her family to ruin and must make her decide between true love and family responsibility. As events start turning, rumours, misunderstandings, and small tragedies abound, all leading up to the fateful day that was to be her wedding day....
    If you like prince-to-pauper stories of social status, gossip, passion, mystery, tragedy, love, infatuation, pettiness, and wealth, this will be just the book for you. Set in Manhattan at the turn of the last century, it blends historical fiction with the difficult life of a teen socialite with heavy responsibilities and her own dreams for happiness. Each chapter is headed with a newspaper clipping or quotation from a magazine, and each chapter is told from a different viewpoint. It's a fun read that sweeps the reader along, almost like reading a gossip column or a tabloid.
    The few sexual encounters are quickly glossed over and left fairly vague.
    Y FICTION Godberson

    Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
    Terrorists have attacked San Francisco, blowing up the Bay Bridge. Marcus and his friends, skipping school in favour of playing a game, are picked up by the Department of Homeland Security and taken to a prison where they are questioned and threatened. When all but one of them are let out and they find that their hometown has turned into a police state with every move of every person monitored every day, Marcus is determined to do something -- he wants to get back at the DHS for kidnapping his friends and torturing them. He believes that the government has overstepped its bounds of authority in taking away his freedoms and the freedoms of everyone else in San Francisco. So he starts his own private war, setting up an untapped internet and starting a movement that soon builds a life of its own.
    A fascinating look at terrorism, technology, government policies and practices, and the rights of American citizens. The pacing was good, the story was good, and overall, it was mostly believable -- it reads like something that could happen today, tomorrow, or next year. I found it a hard book to put down and was even interested in the short technological tangents about hacking and software and gaming and such. A great book for techno-geeks, free spirits and freedom lovers, and fans of books like 1984 and Animal Farm. Of course, others will like it a lot, too. Recommended.
    Sexual scenes and conversations included.
    Y FICTION Doctorow
    (For more on Little Brother, or for the audio download, see previous posts.)

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