Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Publish Date:  March 22, 2011
ISBN:  978-1-4424-0905-7
Pages:  358
Jacket Photographs:  Ali Smith
Jacket Design: Lizzy Bromley

Rhine Ellery lives in a world where genetic tinkering brought to life all our fears.  The first generation of genetically altered children were strong, healthy and lived long lives.  Following generations didn't fare as well.  Males die by the age of 25 and females by the age of 20.

Young girls (as young as 13) are captured to become sister-wives to rich men or to serve in prostitution houses.  The married girls are forced to bear children to keep humanity going...and maybe to be tinkered with to see if the genetic issues can be remedied.

Rhine is kidnapped at 16 and forced to marry a young man, Linden.  She has a wedding ceremony with two sister-wives, Jenna (13) and Cecily (17).  I will say that the characters are wonderfully done.  I started out hating Linden, but finally decided that he is really a pawn for his father and he does, in his own way, care for each of the girls.  Jenna was an orphan and is truly excited to be a wife and mother.  Cecily was a prostitute and just doesn't care what happens.  Over them all is Linden's father - he comes across as simply evil.

It was interesting to see that Ms. DeStefano chose to use polygamy for her story.  I can see where the set up works for her story.  However, I'm not convinced of the way it played out.  I mean, if you want multiple brides to produce lots of children, wouldn't you... (a) test them to ensure fertility?  (b) carry through with the act of creation with all of them?

There were many aspects of the story that left me wondering.  For instance, the child seamstresses - how do they learn their trade so quickly and efficiently?  Why do some of the servants come across as old...or is that just me?  Who does the farming and building?  Is there business and religion?  I mean, in a situation such as this, religion always comes to the forefront.  I expected at the least, to have pockets of religious fanatics yelling about repenting your sins.  Religion seemed strangely missing as did explanation of how the young children learned and became so good at their trade - I mean, 20 -25 years isn't a lot of time to learn a trade (beginning as a child).

In the end, if you just ignore these questions, it's a beautiful story.  If you're like me, you're hoping that there's more and that all this will be explained.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wayback Wednesday

Publisher:  Del Ray
Publish Date:  Sept. 12, 1986
ISBN:  978-0345338587
Pages:  336

I was trying to find books to read for Wayback Wednesday and my friend Derek suggested Piers Anthony.  I had not read anything by Piers Anthony and for some reason was associating him with high fantasy, which I used to love but now, not so much.  Let me dispell that notion right off the bat - this is most definitely NOT high fantasy.  It is science fiction, if we are going to be forced to label it.

Through a series of unfortunate events, Zane (the main character) finds himself shooting Death and having to take up the office himself.  Now the Office of Death only collects souls that are in perfect balance of good and evil.  Otherwise, the souls will go directly to where they need to be.  The problem is that Zane doesn't always see why certain people have to die and goes about the job of Death a little differently than anyone else has.  He might convince someone not to commit suicide or assist someone to keep them from dying or grant last wishes.  The Purgatory News has a field day with his behavior, but they haven't thrown him out of office yet.

This is the first in a series and I'm looking forward to reading them.  They aren't difficult to read, although some of the concepts are interesting and something you won't always find, even in the best YA.  Luckily, Mr. Anthony does write simply and concisely, so it's easy to follow.  He's also quite amusing - for instance, Hell advertises to gain more souls.  They have billboards and enticements to cause you to sin enough to go straight to Hell.  Heaven on the other hand does not advertise, but quietly hopes that people will do the right thing.  I thought it was an amusing feature...isn't that the way we generally view it?  While I'm by no means religious, the religion aspect is always interesting.

Give it a try, I hear that the entire series is excellent and I'm going to read them all - you may see some more of them here in the future.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton

Publisher:  Simon Pulse
Publish Date:  February 22, 2011
ISBN: 978-1442409248
Pages:  288

Greek mythology seems to be hot in YA right now.  While I can't reveal too much here, trust me, it's great!

Ari is an orphan who's been passed from foster home to foster home.  She finally landed with a couple that run a bail bonds business, they've taught her all the tricks of the trade and truly love her.  Ofcourse, Ari wants to find out about her birth parents and her foster parents understand.  She tracks her birth mother to a city near New2 and then realizes that she has to enter New2.  New2 is an alternate New Orleans.  See, New Orleans was destroyed by hurricanes and flooding.  So much so that the US has fenced it off and it's no longer actually part of the US.  It's now home to the 'freak' population - rumored vampires, witches and shapeshifters.

All the characters were pretty well fleshed-out.  Ari is a kick-ass girl, she has doubts, but is determined to finish what she started.  There is a romance, but it's never blatant, it smolders just beneath the surface, so it doesn't detract from the story.  There is some swearing, including a few F-bombs, but it's not too bad.

For me, reading the descriptions of new2 brought back memories of reading Anne Rice.  I could easily imagine Louis living amongst the destruction.  Since I've always been a huge fan of mythology, it was wonderful to read something updated and I'm glad to see mythology being embraced by YA.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Out This Week: April 25 - 30, 2011

Abandon by Meg Cabot 
Release Date:  April 26, 2011

From Amazon: 
Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can't help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she's never alone . . . because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.
But now she's moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid.
Only she can't. Because even here, he finds her. That's how desperately he wants her back. She knows he's no guardian angel, and his dark world isn't exactly heaven, yet she can't stay away . . . especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.
But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld.

 Bumped by Megan McCafferty
Release Date:  April 26, 2011

From Amazon: 
When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society. Girls sport fake baby bumps and the school cafeteria stocks folic-acid-infused food.
Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and have never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Up to now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend, Zen, who is way too short for the job.
Harmony has spent her whole life in Goodside, a religious community, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to convince Melody that pregging for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.
When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.

 The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow
Release Date:  April 26, 2011

From Amazon: 
Fourteen-year-old Karl Stern has never thought of himself as a Jew. But to the bullies at his school in Naziera Berlin, it doesn't matter that Karl has never set foot in a synagogue or that his family doesn't practice religion. Demoralized by relentless attacks on a heritage he doesn't accept as his own, Karl longs to prove his worth to everyone around him.
So when Max Schmeling, champion boxer and German national hero, makes a deal with Karl's father to give Karl boxing lessons, Karl sees it as the perfect chance to reinvent himself. A skilled cartoonist, Karl has never had an interest in boxing, but as Max becomes the mentor Karl never had, Karl soon finds both his boxing skills and his art flourishing.
But when Nazi violence against Jews escalates, Karl must take on a new role: protector of his family. Karl longs to ask his new mentor for help, but with Max's fame growing, he is forced to associate with Hitler and other Nazi elites, leaving Karl to wonder where his hero's sympathies truly lie. Can Karl balance his dream of boxing greatness with his obligation to keep his family out of harm's way?

 The Saga of Larten Crepsley: Ocean of Blood by Darren Shan
Release Date:  April 28, 2011

From Amazon:  Before Larten Crepsley was a vampire general...

Before he was Darren Shan's master...

Before the War of Scars...

Larten Crepsley was a teenager. And he was sick of the pomp and circumstance of fusty old vampires telling him what to do. Taking off on his own with his blood brother, Wester, Larten takes off into the world to see what his newly blooded vampire status can get him in the human world. Sucking all he can out of humanity, Larten stumbles into a violent, hedonistic lifestyle, where cheats beckon, power corrupts, and enemies are waiting.

This is his story.

 Future Imperfect by K. Ryer Breese
Release Date:  April 26, 2011

From Amazon:  Ade Patience can see the future and it's destroying his life. When the seventeen-year-old Mantlo High School student knocks himself unconscious, he can see days and decades into his own future. Ade's the best of Denver's "divination" underground and eager to join the heralded Mantlo Diviners, a group of similarly enabled teens. Yet, unlike the Diviners, Ade Patience doesn't see the future out of curiosity or good will; Ade gives himself concussions because he's addicted to the high, the Buzz, he gets when he breaks the laws of physics. And while there have been visions he's wanted to change, Ade knows the Rule: You can't change the future, no matter how hard you try.

His memory is failing, his grades are in a death spiral, and both Ade's best friend and his shrink are begging him to stop before he kills himself. Ade knows he needs to straighten-out. Luckily, the stunning Vauxhall Rodolfo has just transferred to Mantlo and, as Ade has seen her in a vision two years previously, they're going to fall in love. It's just the motivation Ade needs to kick his habit. Only things are a bit more complicated. Vauxhall has an addiction of her own, and, after a a vision in which he sees Vauxhall's close friend, Jimmy, drown while he looks on seemingly too wasted to move, Ade realizes that he must break the one rule he's been told he can't.

The pair must overcome their addictions and embrace their love for each other in order to do the impossible: change the future.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Entwined by Heather Dixon

Publisher: Greenwillow Books (Harper Collins)
Publish Date:  March 29, 2011
ISBN:  978-0-06-200103-0
Pages:  472
Jacket Art: lara Jade Photography
Jacket Design: Becky Terhune

This is a delightful retelling of the story of The Twelve Dancing Princesses.
To start out with, we need to know what the title ENTWINED refers to.  The Entwine is supposed to be a dance.  It is described this way:  (in brief) Similar to a troit-temps waltz, it is danced in open position with a long sash.  The lady and gentleman each take ends of the sash, which their hands must not leave.  In a series of quick steps, the gentleman either twists the sash around the lady's wrists, pinning them (aka the Catch) or the lady eludes capture within three minutes time.

The story, and the Princesses, captivated me.  I adore fairytales and this is a fantastic one!  Heather Dixon did an amazing job in bringing the Princesses to life - their personalities are outstanding.  While ofcourse I loved Azalea, my favorite has to be Bramble - she's loud and obnoxious and defends her sisters to the end.  The Princesses are named after flowers, alphabetically.  That's where the fun begins in the story.  ENTWINED is full of mischief and giggles, as well as magic and scariness.  The girls and their suitors are a riot!

The royal family live in a falling apart castle with some remnants of magic leftover - such as the tea set with the biting sugar tongs.  When the family goes into mourning (do any fairytales have both parents in the story??) and the King departs for a war...the Princesses are left on their own.  Pretty dresses, laughter, the gardens and dancing are forbidden.  There is nothing the girls love better than dancing and they are heartbroken.

Until...Azalea discovers a way for them to dance secretly - it involves a magical staircase and the mysterious (and handsome) Keeper.

The characterization of the King was amazing.  I began by seeing him as a cold, aloof man with no concern for his daughters, but quickly came to realize that he just didn't know how to connect with them.  It was wonderful to watch him figure out the situations and grow as a parent.

As I read the story, I saw a beautiful movie - the Entwine dance was performed by Azalea and Keeper, but almost as a shadow - while the rest of the story went on over it.  Will Azalea be caught?  I can't wait to see what Heather Dixon does next!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wayback Wednesday - Bellwether by Connie Willis

Publisher:  Spectra
Publish Date:  1996
ISBN:  978-0553562965
Pages:  247

This slim volume is packed with amazing writing.  Some will argue that it is not Science Fiction, but I think that this is the best kind of science sneaks up on you and darn it if you don't learn something and look at the world differently when you're done reading it!

Sandra Foster works for a corporation that employs scientists.  Honestly, just reading the description of the staff meetings is enough to recommend the book.  They are absurdly ridiculous.  Sandra's job is to figure out how and why fads begin - presumably so that the corporation can start fads and make loads of money.  Fads are a temporary fashion followed enthusiastically by a group.  A great example is that right now (at least in my area) raising chickens is a fad, I'm sure it's a fad because once people realize how much work it is, they will all stop.  We may be overrun by wild chickens this time next year.  Through a wrongly delivered package, by an inept mail clerk named Flip, Sandra meets Bennett O'Reilly who is studying chaos theory.  Add in a new assistant for Flip and you've got a great story.

At the start of each chapter is a short description of a fad, it's hilarious to see the lengths people will go to to fit in and be popular.  Some examples of recent fads would be: reality tv shows, energy drinks, the Macarena and Tamagotchi.  They boomed quickly and then faded quickly.

When funding is cut at the corporation, Sandra and Bennett decide to work together using sheep - which are a lot like people in many ways.  It was suggested by Flip's assistant.

Once you read Bellwether, you'll be watching your friends (and the general public) to see if you can spot the next fad.  You'll still wonder who started them...and be on the lookout for Flip!

By the way, a Bellwether is...well, never mind, you'll see.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney

Publisher:  Flux (Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.)
Publish Date:  February 8, 2011
ISBN:  978-0-7387-2582-6
Pages:  312
Book Design: Steffani Sawyer
Cover Design:  Lisa Novak

Donna Underwood is a student of the Alchemists.  She can't help it, it's her family.  When she was 7 years old, she was being attacked by wood elves and her Dad died trying to save her.  Shortly after that, her Mom got sick and no one knows why or with what.  It seems to be mostly mental. Now Donna lives with her Aunt and is home-schooled.  She tried public school, but one argument and a ruined locker she home.

See, when Donna was attacked by the wood elves, there was terrible damage done to her arms.  But the Maker was able to fix it, using iron and silver.  Now she wears long gloves all the time, has to remember to control her strength and feels cold - a lot.

Donna has a best friend, Navin, who knows nothing of what she really is.  But he loves her and has stuck by her even when she got kicked out of school.  Then Donna meets a boy that, like her, has questions, scars and no parents.  Xan, it turns out, is part fae.  His wings were ripped off when he was stolen by the wood elves.  Together they try to solve some of the mysteries surrounding Donna's life and the Order of the Dragon.

While I like Donna ok, she didn't make me want to cheer her on.  Neither did Xan and I'm usually a big fan of the fae.  However, Navin made me want to find out more about him.  Too bad he's not really a main character.  I hope that in the second book we find out more of Donna and Xan's background stories so that I can feel like I 'know' them more.  I'll admit it...the cover drew me in! The writing was fair, but I never felt drawn in...which is what says "great story" to me.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Out This Week: April 18, 2011

Eona by Alison Goodman
Released April 19, 2011

From Amazon:  Eon has been revealed as Eona, the first female Dragoneye in hundreds of years. Along with fellow rebels Ryko and Lady Dela, she is on the run from High Lord Sethon's army. The renegades are on a quest for the black folio, stolen by the drug-riddled Dillon; they must also find Kygo, the young Pearl Emperor, who needs Eona's power and the black folio if he is to wrest back his throne from the selfstyled "Emperor" Sethon. Through it all, Eona must come to terms with her new Dragoneye identity and power - and learn to bear the anguish of the ten dragons whose Dragoneyes were murdered. As they focus their power through her, she becomes a dangerous conduit for their plans. . . .

 Defiance (Strange Angels #4) by Lili St. Crow
Released: April 19, 2011

Now that sixteen-year-old Dru's worst fears have come true and Sergej has kidnapped her best friend Graves, she'll have to go on a suicidal rescue mission to bring him back in one piece.

That is, if she can put all of Christophe's training to good use, defeat her mother's traitor, Anna, once and for all, and manage to survive another day... 

 The Pale King by David Foster Wallace
Released: April 15, 2011 ( I know this one is last week, but definitely worth mentioning!)

The agents at the IRS Regional Examination Center in Peoria, Illinois, appear ordinary enough to newly arrived trainee David Foster Wallace. But as he immerses himself in a routine so tedious and repetitive that new employees receive boredom-survival training, he learns of the extraordinary variety of personalities drawn to this strange calling. And he has arrived at a moment when forces within the IRS are plotting to eliminate even what little humanity and dignity the work still has.
The Pale King remained unfinished at the time of David Foster Wallace's death, but it is a deeply compelling and satisfying novel, hilarious and fearless and as original as anything Wallace ever undertook. It grapples directly with ultimate questions--questions of life's meaning and of the value of work and society--through characters imagined with the interior force and generosity that were Wallace's unique gifts. Along the way it suggests a new idea of heroism and commands infinite respect for one of the most daring writers of our time.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Publisher:  Little, Brown and Company
Publish Date:  September 14, 2010
ISBN:  978-0-316-04267-3
Pages:  592
Cover Design:  David Caplan

Set in the small southern town of Gatlin, South Carolina; this story made me feel the humidity - the history - the Southernness - of it all.

It's a love story that spans 100 years and two couples from very different families.  A modern type of Romeo and Juliet.

It's hard to be the new girl in any town, harder in a small town and ridiculous in a small Southern town.

Lena Duchannes (rhymes with rain) is the new girl.  She's also the niece of the town hermit.  She drives a hearse. She has a large wolf dog that follows her everywhere.  She dresses "weird".  Ethan Wate is captivated by her. It doesn't hurt that she's the girl of his dreams...literally.

The more Lena and Ethan come together, the more people try to keep them apart.  When they figure out that two of their ancestors fell in love and one died tragically (Ethan's named after him), the mystery deepens.  Add to that Lena's strange powers over the weather and there's quite a lot going on here.

The story is excellent, some authors have trouble keeping several storylines going, but these two authors are amazing.  I was on the edge of my seat and half in love with Ethan and Lena myself.  I really felt that Lena and Ethan could be real teenagers; they seemed to be caught up in the paranormal, yet all they want to do is have the fun that they should have as teens.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Out This Week: April 11, 2011

I cannot believe I didn't have this post ready to go!  Then to completely forget about doing it?!  Spring fever has definitely hit!  So here we go:

The Gathering Darkness (Darkness Rising #1) by Kelley Armstrong
Released on April 12, 2011

From Goodreads: Strange things are happening in Maya's tiny Vancouver Island town. First, her friend Serena, the captain of the swim team, drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. Then, one year later, mountain lions are spotted rather frequently around Maya's home—and her reactions to them are somewhat . . . unexpected. Her best friend, Daniel, has also been experiencing unexplainable premonitions about certain people and situations.
It doesn't help that the new bad boy in town, Rafe, has a dangerous secret, and he's interested in one special part of Maya's anatomy—her paw-print birthmark.

 The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide by Stephenie Meyer
Released on April 12, 2011

From Amazon:  This must-have hardcover edition--the only official guide--is the definitive encyclopedic reference to the Twilight Saga and provides readers with everything they need to further explore the unforgettable world Stephenie Meyer created in Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn, and The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. This comprehensive handbook—essential for every Twilight Saga fan—is full-color throughout with nearly 100 gorgeous illustrations and photographs and with exclusive new material, character profiles, genealogical charts, maps, extensive cross-references, and much more.

 Memento Nora by Angie Smibert
Released on April 15, 2011

From Goodreads:  A teen struggles to hold onto her memories-and her identity-in a world that wants everyone to forget-and keep on shopping. Three dynamic teens come together to creat a comic book of their memories.

 Soul Surfer Devotions by Bethany Hamilton
Released on April 12, 2011

From Goodreads:  She’s blonde, brave, and totally determined—she’s a gutsy professional surfer who has inspired millions, and her biggest audience is teenage girls. In this devotional, Bethany speaks straight to her soul sisters about letting God lead in the epic ride of life.

In this devotional, Bethany shares stories of women to admire, prayers to focus on, and wipeouts to avoid. Girls will hear thoughts on friends, family, faith, gossip, and peer pressure—Bethany covers it all.

This book will release in time for the scheduled Spring 2011 launch of Bethany’s movie, Soul Surfer, starring AnnaSophia Robb, Helen Hunt, Dennis Quaid, and Carrie Underwood. This re-release is updated with new content, a “Where Is She Now?” page, and journaling spots.

Demon High by Lori Devoti

Publisher:  CreateSpace
Publish Date:  January 6, 2011
ISBN:  978-1456592608
Pages:  312
Cover Design:  Lori Devoti

Lucinda lives with her Nana in a falling down house.  It's the family home and neither one can imagine moving, but one day Lucinda reads a letter from the bank - they owe back taxes and the house is in disrepair and in danger of being condemned.  While Nana disappears to 'talk to people', Lucinda comes up with a plan to save the house.

Lucinda's family are Demonologists - Demon Callers.  Well, some of them are.  Nana's mother was and Lucinda's mother is...was...  Nana refuses to let Lucinda even talk about it.  It's dangerous work and addicting.  Lucinda's mom disappeared years ago while calling demons.

Lucinda knows she can make money off calling demons.  She calls on her ex-friend, Brittany.  Brittany acquires things for college kids, in return she gets to hang out with them.  The girls strike a deal:  Brittany will get paying customers, Lucinda will call up a fairly harmless demon, keep it controlled, dismiss it and then they split the pay.

It seems like a great always does...but of course there are issues.  So now there are demons roaming the halls at Caldera High and, even worse, Lucinda might be falling in love with one of them.

A pretty good story, although I felt let down by the ending.  I can only assume that there will be a sequel to answer all my questions.  I think that part of my letdown might be because I'm a big fan of Kim Harrison's adult series The Hollows.  That involves demon calling and all the details...this one wasn't quite as good, but then this is YA, not adult. :) Lucinda really starts to come across as fascinating and tough, but never really makes it there.  Brittany is a little more interesting and one of the demons is pretty good.  I hope that there is a second book and that the characters get fleshed out more.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Publisher:  Razorbill (Penguin Group)
Publish Date:  October 18, 2007
ISBN:  978-1-59514-171-2
Pages:  304
Cover Design:  Christian Funfhausen
Cover Photo:  Getty Images/Ryan McVay

Jay Asher hit a homerun with his first novel.  It's amazing...simply amazing.

I need to share a couple things here before I talk about the book: 1) I'm beginning to rethink how much my sister loves me as she keeps sending me books that make me cry.  2) in 7th grade my Reading teacher ran out of things for the highest reading group to do so she taught us things like speedreading.  Why is that important?  Because this weekend I read 2 books, one was 562 pages and one was 289 pages, I also attended a Saturday class, slept 8 hours each night, did housework, went out to dinner, hung out with my family and did homework. took me an entire week to read this book.  It's a slim book, only 288 pages.  I had to keep putting it down because the author kept hitting on those small things that happen to a lot of teens - those things that we try (or tried) to shove back in our minds and hearts and forget about.

Hannah Baker committed suicide.  It wasn't due to any one thing, it rarely is.  It was all those little things, building and building until she couldn't take it anymore.

But Hannah decided that her death shouldn't be for nothing.  She wants the people that contributed to hurting her to know and understand what they and the others did.  She records her story on cassette tapes and mails it off to the first person with a list of who to send it to next.

Do the recipients follow directions?  Better yet, do they learn anything?

Parents, teachers, counselors, teens...everyone should read this and hold the message in their hearts.

There's an excellent blog post about this very subject over on Auntie Heather Brewer's blog - go check it out here:

Note:  THIRTEEN REASONS WHY comes out in paperback in June 2011 - great chance to pick it up if you haven't already.  Word on the street is that the movie will come out in 2013, no actual date yet.  Who'll be in it?  I don't know, but rumor says Selena Gomez...who knows?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Close to Famous by Joan Bauer

Publisher:  Viking (Penguin Group)
Publish Date:  February 3, 2011
ISBN:  978-0-670-01282-4
Pages: 256
Cover Design:  Nancy Brennan
Middle Grade (ages 11 & up)

Joan Bauer has done a beautiful job!  This is a delightful story of a young girl who dreams big.

Foster McFee is in 6th grade and she is an amazing baker.  The only thing keeping her down is that she can't read.  Her Dad died in Iraq and now it's just her and her Mama.  Her Mama sings backup for an Elvis impersonator...for now.

Before long, they're on the road - Foster with her baking supplies and her Mama with a black eye.  They end up in the tiny town of Culpepper, West Virginia .  There's a lot going on for such a small town and Foster is in the midst of it.

Foster is a strong character and will be great for young girls!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wayback Wednesday!!

Shadowland by Peter Straub
Publisher:  Berkley
Publish Date: 1980
ISBN: 978-0425188224
Pages: 480

Read as a teen, this book was horrifying and had many layers to the story.  I was glad to see that when reading it as an adult, the story held up. 

The story begins at a fancy prep school.  Del and Tom become friends quickly because they are both fascinated with magic.  There are all kinds of things going on at the school - the students are having nightmares and other odd things are happening.  Once school is over for the year, Tom accepts an invitation from Del to spend the summer holiday at Del's Uncle Collins' estate.

It turns out that Uncle Collins is a retired magician and plans on teaching them a lot over the holiday.  Some of it is fun and some of it is terrifying.  The problem is deciding which is real and which is not.  Uncle Collins is also an alcoholic and half-crazy.

Some of the scenes are still disturbing to me, but nothing that shouldn't be read.  There is a crucifixion scene that is very realistic and disturbing, but without it the book wouldn't be the same.

This is a great book as an introduction to what Peter Straub does.  He is right up there with Stephen King - just as scary, using everyday objects and people, for the most part.  Excellent Spring Break or Summer Break reading!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Publisher:  Penguin Group
Publish Date:  Feb. 23, 2010
ISBN:  978-0-670-01110-0
Pages:  288
Cover Design:  Natalie C. Sousa

Lia and Cassie are high school Seniors and up until recently they were bff's.  When they were little they made a pact to be the skinniest girls in school...and they've kept it.

Now Cassie is dead and Lia is seeing her ghost everywhere.  Lia is a Wintergirl.  She's not fully alive and not yet dead.  She's slowly starving herself to death and Cassie is waiting for her.  Lia has all the tricks down pat:  sewing quarters into her weigh-in clothes, eating with the family and then sneaking in a few hours on the stairmaster - there's plenty of ways to stay a Wintergirl.

This is a disturbing and touching story of illness and recovery.  Everyone should read this - male/female, young/old, everyone.  Laurie Halse Anderson tackles issues that no one else wants to and she does it in a sensitive manner with great characters.

I think the two things that really got to me were that Lia constantly calculated calories as she looked at or thought about eating food and the messages that she would read on the websites.  The messages made me want to help these girls, no one should live that way.  After reading this book, I said a thank you to whichever diety is in charge of teenage girls, that my daughter eats in a healthy manner and has good self-esteem.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Out This Week: April 4 - 11, 2011

City of Fallen Angels (Mortal Instruments, Book 4) by Cassandra Clare
From Goodreads:  City of Fallen Angels takes place two months after the events of City of Glass. In it, a mysterious someone’s killing the Shadowhunters who used to be in Valentine’s Circle and displaying their bodies around New York City in a manner designed to provoke hostility between Downworlders and Shadowhunters, leaving tensions running high in the city and disrupting Clary’s plan to lead as normal a life as she can — training to be a Shadowhunter, and pursuing her relationship with Jace. As Jace and Clary delve into the issue of the murdered Shadowhunters, they discover a mystery that has deeply personal consequences for them — consequences that may strengthen their relationship, or rip it apart forever. Meanwhile, internecine warfare among vampires is tearing the Downworld community apart, and only Simon — the Daylighter who everyone wants on their side — can decide the outcome; too bad he wants nothing to do with Downworld politics. Love, blood, betrayal and revenge: the stakes are higher than ever in City of Fallen Angels.

 Red Glove (Curse Workers, Book 2) by Holly Black
From Goodreads:  Curses and cons. Magic and the mob. In Cassel Sharpe's world, they go together. Cassel always thought he was an ordinary guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth—he’s the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything—or anyone—into something else.

That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. Cassel was tricked into thinking he killed her, when actually he tried to save her. Now that she's human again, he should be overjoyed. Trouble is, Lila's been cursed to love him, a little gift from his emotion worker mom. And if Lila's love is as phony as Cassel's made-up memories, then he can't believe anything she says or does.

When Cassel's oldest brother is murdered, the Feds recruit Cassel to help make sense of the only clue—crime-scene images of a woman in red gloves. But the mob is after Cassel too—they know how valuable he could be to them. Cassel is going to have to stay one step ahead of both sides just to survive. But where can he turn when he can't trust anyone—least of all, himself?

Love is a curse and the con is the only answer in a game too dangerous to lose.

 Where She Went by Gayle Forman
From Goodreads:  It's been three years since the devastating accident ... three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Julliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.
Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

 Flip by Martyn Bedford
From Amazon:  One December night, 14-year-old Alex goes to  bed. He wakes up to  find himself in the wrong bedroom, in an unfamiliar house, in a different part of the country, and it's the middle of June. Six months have disappeared overnight. The family at the breakfast table are total strangers.
And when he looks in the mirror, another boy's face stares back at him.  A boy named Flip. Unless Alex finds out what's happened and how to get back to his own life,  he may be trapped forever inside a body that belongs to someone else.

Friday, April 1, 2011