Sunday, December 14, 2008
Our main character, Emerson, likes video games. She isn't popular. She isn't into fashion and beauty. She has a best friend that she is secretly in love with.
When a jumbo tron TV falls on her, through a quirky series of events, Em ends up dying. However, a brain transplant moves her brain into Super-Model Nikki Howard's body. Odd circumstances for sure. So now this down-to-earth, scholarly lady is transported into the world of high fashion, love triangles, and being an emancipated minor.
This is part one of a series. The ending is a little abrupt. Even though it was pretty much fluff fiction, I will be interested to see where this series goes. Part II is due out May 5th, 2009.
Watch the Airhead trailer here!!
From the very first chapter, I was hooked.
I couldn't do laundry, cook, or clean (tongue in cheek), I could only DEVOUR Simon Holt's latest offering: The Devouring. If you have ever heard someone say: I don't like to read...then put this book in their hand.
It is horror, but it is somewhat more plausible than the vampire genre. Based on what we know of human nature, The Vours make a very good explanation for why evil exists in the world. You see, Vours take over your mind. They send you to whatever your own personal hell is (oddly enough, the main character and I share a firm dislike for spiders...making this a challenge to get through for me)...and you live in that personal hell forever while the Vour masquerades as you.
The plot is compelling like crazy. You won't be able to resist this odd world that Holt has created. It is an excellent lesson in hope, however, hidden amongst the horrific events that unfold.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Suzanne Phillips did an equally good job of writing the book Burn. In this novel our main character, Cameron, is 14. He comes from a home that had a domestic abuse problem. His mother has since left that situation, but it's still a part of who Cameron is. He can't seem to find happiness, he has become more and more isolated as his freshman year has worn on. Anyone he becomes friends with is accused of being gay, events all of which keep piling one on top of the other.
His new friend, SciFi, is beaten up so badly for befriending Cameron, that he ends up in the hospital. And Cameron, who was absent for the beating that was doled out to SciFi, meets terror in the boys locker room.
He is held down, pantsed, and the "Red Coats" take pictures of his personal parts. These photos are then uploaded to the Internet.
Later these boys are arrested, but the damage has been done.
And Cameron, much like a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, just wanders through the next few days. He ends up burning himself when he starts a forest fire on purpose - just so he can feel in control of an event. He also ends up killing a classmate...which is the path that Phillips leads us down, forcing us to examine our own role in bullying.
If you watch, you are a part of it.
If you participate, you are a part of it.
If you stand up against it - maybe you save a life. Maybe that life is your own?
Interesting food for thought!
Phillips wrote a very compelling story about a dark time in life.
She did an excellent job with character development, with selecting a cover that will sell, and with telling a story that we could all stand to hear/read.
Monday, December 1, 2008
It was recommended by Real Simple Magazine, I believe, and I thought it might be kind of interesting.
Turns out I was right!!
If you need a Christmas gift for anyone who likes books, has ever read books, etc...this is an intriguing little volume.
Each title, author, and dedication is given. That introduction is followed by a + or - 4 page explanation of the dedication and the circumstances that surround it. Absolutely fascinating!! I highly recommend stuffing someone's stocking with this little ditty!
Sunday, November 30, 2008
With your story lines, you have captivated my interest. With your quick witted dialogue and interesting characters, you have woven a spell around my brain that I can't shake. With your compelling cliff hanger endings, you have enchanted me and left me reading other tripe while trying to fill in the time until your final (will it be final?) installment is produced. Oh...and the prequel!! 2010 seems so far away!!
In City of Bones, we are introduced to Clary, her best friend Simon, Jace and his band of Shadowhunters. We are introduced, in fact, to a whole new world that is entirely fascinated. Do I speak fairy or warlock? No. But when I am reading Clare's fabulous works of art, I think that I am an expert.
This lady has done such a fabulous job, that I couldn't even wait for our book vendors to send the next installments. Instead I had to visit my good friend AMAZON and order them up.
In City of Ashes, Jace and Clary's battle continues. I have 100 pages left and I can't wait to see if there is a Star Wars twist involved. How can these two be related? The world of Shadowhunters becomes more and more interesting with each page turn, making me wish I was a cool assassin instead of just a boring run of the mill librarian ;).
I don't even mind that there has been 48 hours worth of football on the tv downstairs. I am in my own little demon vs. shadowhunter vs. lycanthrope vs. vampire vs. evil father vs. fairy world. And it's a good one.
Thank you for being so talented, Ms. Clare. I am just sorry that it took me this long to find you!
So...a few things that struck my fancy, and a few things that didn't:
My last post was about Kissing the Bee by Koja...so when I saw her new book Headlong, in the review room, I picked it up. Wished I hadn't. Kissing the Bee was so magnificent...maybe all of the good words went into writing that one? Hard to say.
In Headlong the main character, Lily, attends The Vaughn School. She doesn't really fit in. She tries, but it is never "the real Lily". When Hazel Tobias shows up, things change for our Lily. She becomes adventurous and exciting. But what happens when that friendship ends?
For a great take on boarding school, save yourself for E. Lockhart's, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. Frankie is someone you really wish was your best friend vs. Hazel's moody tumultuousness. And if you're still into the new school conundrum after that, try Lauren Myracle's newest ghost tale, Bliss. I am about half way through it...think she is on to something good here...hippies and ghosts. Watch the trailer...if you dare!! (Click here!)
I also enjoyed Barry Lyga's newest book, Hero-Type. Lyga writes about an average kid who was in the right place at the right time and ended up saving a classmate from death. This starts a media frenzy and said average kid is followed around all of the time. When the media catches him doing something "unpatriotic", he goes from hero to zero in no time. Interesting questions are posed here as Lyga takes something pretty common and flips it on it's ear. He's good at that!!
Kelley Armstrong's novel, The Summoning, has garnered much praise...but not from me. I had a kid return it and say "I just couldn't get into it". With one of those dangling sequels...which I will have to wait awhile for...I wish I hadn't gotten into it. Chloe Saunders has a small problem: ghosts talk to her. Interesting premise. However, when it gets her checked into a mental institution, it's not so great after all. The mental institution provides her with some interesting friends...all of which posses a secret power. When all of the powers collide, Chloe and the others figure out they've been brought together for a purpose. Sad thing: we'll have to wait until the sequel to figure out what that purpose is. Long road to nowhere, folks.
There is lots out there! With the release of the 2009-2010 TAYSHAS list, holiday reading has never looked so good!! Enjoy!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Throughout the novel, Dana is researching bees for her biology project. Koja expertly interjects non-fiction bee text to help propel the story along, and when it comes together, it makes a masterpiece of a novel about making the choices that count.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Today I had to enlist a student to teach me some Spanish cuss words.
It was a good day at work. :)
The Brother’s Torres is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! This is about two brothers. The older brother, Steve, is the protector (this is why I always WANTED an older brother!!). Steve is a soccer superstar. Having one parent that is white and one that is Hispanic, both Steve and his brother have to work hard to fit in with the crowds that they choose at school. We can draw the inference that Steve is into some bad things, based on his secretive actions.
The younger brother, Francisco/Frankie, is just figuring out high school and relationships when he crosses paths with a guy who beats the shbeep*** out of him. Steve feels he must defend his baby brother; this sets up a theme that will recur throughout the novel. While Frankie constantly struggles with his brothers role in the family vs. his own, it takes a pretty upsetting event to reveal that they are brothers to the bone and blood is, indeed, thicker than water.
There are, of course, subplots involving parents and girls and best friends, all of them excellently written.The cover alone, a tattoo of the title, should propel this book into the right hands.
***Facebook has a The Brothers Torres page complete with pictures of Borges, a "Brothers" YouTube book trailer, t-shirts, and more!!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The Compound by S.A. Bodeen starts off with a nuclear bomb attack. Eli and his family escape to their fallout shelter built three stories underground. However, in the rush, they are separated from Eli's twin and his grandmother.
For fifteen years the family must live in this compound and wait out the nuclear winter. Luckily, Eli's father is a gagillionaire, so the compound is stocked with nicer accouterments than my house. They have a hydroponic garden to grow...ahem...vegetables. They have a livestock area. His father has spared no expense and has thought of everything in preparing this underground hideout.
Six years into living in the compound, little things start to go wrong. The food supply is running low. Eli suspects something is awry with his father. When Eli begins investigating he is able to find a wireless connection with his laptop...that connection with the outside world blows the lid off of life in the compound.
Watch a video trailer of The Compound on MacMillan's site.
I have to say that the more and more YA fiction I read this year, the more I appreciate the fact that my parents pretty much let me live my life without trying to kill me. Thanks, mom & dad!
Monday, October 13, 2008
The story is even better.
Adrienne Maria Vrettos first caught my attention with Skin. Her new novel, Sight, is equally compelling, but a completely different topic.
Now, I am not sure where I stand on the whole ESP/Second Sight issue. Things like that tend to overwhelm me because if that is possible, then endless other things are possible, and my little mind isn't ready for that.
However, reading about Dylan's SIGHT was interesting. Dylan can see children who are already dead. She then leads cops to their bodies. This helps everyone with closure. She has had this Sight since she kindergarten. No one has ever told her anything about it. In order not to be viewed as a freak, she has kept the whole thing under wraps. Her mother knows, but urges her to keep quiet about her talent. But now a killer has returned to town and Dylan's Sight is changing. It is adapting. Will she be able to save the next victim? And what will she find out about herself?
Vrettos has posted Chapter One on her website. Give it a look!
****Readers who are into this idea will also like Wake by Lisa McMann. You can visit her website and watch a trailer for her novel by clicking on the link or read my review in the archives.
Either novel, you come out wishing you had secret powers.
Bloom is Lauren's story. Lauren's mother left when she was little, leaving Lauren to wonder if her mother really ever loved her. Her father works long hours and is never around, but in true YA format, Lauren has a decent group of friends that keep her afloat. She even has a boyfriend that she likes (but doesn't like).
Bloom is largely a romance. But it isn't a romance between Lauren and her boyfriend...that wouldn't be angsty enough...it's about a secret romance between Lauren and Evan, a new boy at school. Lauren's dad and Evan's mom used to date; Evan even lived with Lauren back when they were younger. Well, now he's back. And he's tall, dark, handsome, and brooding.
Lauren is conflicted because Dave, her boyfriend, should be everything she could ever want in a guy. He is genuinely nice. Being with him makes her popular. Something is missing, however, and it takes Evan to introduce that missing element. Evan makes Lauren feel all of the things that are always described in movies and books, but she is insecure about that feeling because she is pretty sure that the "wild streak" is what caused her mom to leave. Lauren doesn't want any part of that aspect of her genetic make-up.
Who will Lauren choose?
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
It makes for an even WORSE day when she has already killed your three little sisters...and you're just waiting your turn...FOR TEN YEARS!!
Breathe My Name by R.A. Nelson plops you right down in the middle of the turmoil Frances Robinson is facing. Ten years later she has a new family, a family that is very supportive and full of functional love.
But when her real mom gets out of jail after being "rehabilitated", she sends Frances a note implying they have unfinished business...as in I still might want to kill you. Naturally, Frances has some questions surrounding her previous life and she is caught up in this idea of unfinished business.
Frances, as you can imagine, can get a little frazzled. She makes some choices that are questionable, like sexually experimenting with a new boy, Nix, in her class; given the situation, I think that it is classified as appropriate. She and Nix end up taking off on a road trip that leads Frances to her mother. The things she finds out along the way help to put things in perspective, but this book is intense. I-N-T-E-N-S-E.
You may know CRH from her previous work, Pay It Forward...a little touch of literary genius that was a One Book, One Community feature nationwide (even in Richardson, TX).
You may know some of her other works that were TAYSHAS nominated (such as The Year of My Miraculous Reappearance). And if you don't know any of these titles, that is just fine because her newest novel is a great way to introduce yourself to some great literature.
In the novel Theresa is our likable main character. She is 18, recently separated from her boyfriend, and desperate. In a bout of depressive thought, she carelessly invites her next door neighbor, James, to a party (and makes out with him rather noisily) in an effort to make her ex jealous. She knows that James likes her more than she likes him, but in the heat of the moment of revenge, she allows herself to get carried away. When Theresa and her ex decide to hook up, James leaves the party on his motorcylce (in what we can deduce is anger and hurt)...and he is never heard from again. His motorcycle is found at the bottom of a cliff on Pacific Highway 1.
CRH dissects the novel into three parts and tells the story in both journal formatting and in narrative. From the pieces, the reader understands that James is dead and that Theresa feels severe onus about it. As the novel progresses we are steeped in Theresa's guilt but still separated enough to understand that whatever happened wasn't directly her fault.
There are several secondary characters that are introduced to help Theresa on her journey. This very powerful story is an amazing blend of emotion and circumstance that combine to make a wonderful, wonderful book. The moral of the story, roughly paraphrased from Jame's mother in the story, is that we should all be careful with each other's hearts, regardless of the nature of our relationships (friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, mothers, aunts, neighbors).
I think that is a wonderful moral so I am going to state it again: Be careful with each other's hearts.
He is secretly in love with his BF, Angie. Angie went to film school over the summer and she wants to do a short film that will be previewed at an NYU program. The subject she picks: Dylan Fontaine's life.
He resists at first...until Angie points out that he should do something extraordinary with his life instead of just existing. That is when the risks begin.
He takes control of the situation with Angie...he helps his brother...he plays basketball in "The Cage"...Dylan steps outside of the areas where he is comfortable and really explores the life that he wants to lead.
Which poses the question: what would a film of your life look like? What risks would you be willing to take on film...and off of it.
Let me know!
Sunday, September 28, 2008
The story goes back and forth between narative and courtroom drama.
Did Aslaug kill who they say she killed? And it takes about half way through to figure out who they say she killed. It is well worth the investment. By the end of the book you cannot imagine finding yourself in a crazier world and for a moment you might wonder what is the real truth.
Aslaug was raised by her mother in a very secluded way. She was home schooled and was handed a great education. However, she had no interaction with other kids her age and with other people in general. When her mother dies of cancer, Aslaug is left to figure out life on her own. She eventually finds her way to other family, family that she didn't know existed, family that lives in the same town. But this does not create the happy ending that it should. This family is part of a religious group that sees Aslaug's return to the fold as a prophecy. When Aslaug turns up pregnant (a virgin birth)? the prophecy unfurls and the dogmatic relationships intensify.
Filled with twists and turns and coutroom manuscripts, readers will definitely be invested in this character and the murkey depths of her life.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Two best friends, alike in both size & appearance, get into a horrible car accident. When the paramedics pull their bodies from the wreckage, the identify the girls incorrectly.
They tell one family that their daughter has died. That family has a funeral, grieves, tries desperately to come to terms with everything.
They tell the other family that their daughter is alive, but that she is in critical condition and will never again be the same.
And then a doctor comes along who matches dental records to the girls...and realizes that they got everything wrong.
One family gets their daughter back. Another family loses a daughter. The process starts again.
That is the premise of Jacquelyn Mitchard's new novel. It is an excellent story with tons of food for thought. Kids will be drawn to the intense elements of the story, but will gain a new perspective on life by the end.
View the book trailer on Mitchard's webpage. Look around while you're there. She's got some very neat novels and some nice features (like a mailing list that keeps you posted on events).
**There is brief sexual content when Maureen tries to sow her oats. However, situationally, it is very appropriate and well written.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Here is a link to Alex's blog http://iamalexbradley.blogspot.com/....while he claims (on his blogsite) not to be a god, I seriously disagree.
I think what I most appreciate about Alex Bradley is witty writing. There are these great lines buried in the text, so you can't just skim the work, you really have to read it through to find these wonders. Truly funny.
Hot Lunch is about two girls who share a bit of...animosity, shall we say. One thing leads to another in the food fight realm, and the next thing they know, they are in charge of lunch duty. They have to serve and prepare the Hot Lunch selection at their school.
Through their preparations, research, and time together, the girls branch out and make some friends, as well as learn quite a bit about nutrition.
Which brings me to my next point: Alex Bradley has some great facts in the "notes" section at the end...that will help teens who are interested in food and healthy eating learn more and empower themselves about dietary decisions.
Not only did I get a cute story about friends, but I also got a cleverly shrouded lesson in nutrition. Bravo, Alex Bradley...Bravo!!
Read this....Buy it for your middle and high school libraries.
And while you're purchasing, check out 24 Girls in 7 Days. The title will intrigue the kids, at least it has in my library, and you will have another great Alex Bradley masterpiece!!
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Zombie Blondes by Brian James kicked off my foray into the dark side of YA literature.
The ZBs are this crazy group of cheerleader zombies. They dress the same, look the same, and KILL THE SAME (please cue sinister music).
All kidding aside, any book that puts cheerleaders as the undead...I can get behind it. I always thought there was a little something unnatural about all of that bending and jumping; a nod to Brian James for taking it to the next level.
After I finished off the Zombie's, I decided it was a pretty happening topic, so I moved on to Generation Dead. I've linked to author Daniel Waters' blog because, well, he is a pretty cool guy. I'll tell you what...if the story doesn't sell on this puppy, the book cover will get this book a-movin. The main character falls in love with one of the zombies and all hell breaks loose.
Also, Oprah said that you should read it, so...DO IT!
Lisa McMann wrote Wake, which was pretty interesting. You could not pay me to enter the dream world of high schoolers, but this brave lady attempted to do so and the result is actually less revolting that you might imagine. Lisa McMann also accepted my friend request on Facebook, so...we're pretty much BFF right now. :)
I read some other things, too...but they were about living folks. I'll save that for next time.
Happy Reading (moo-ha-ha-ha [evil laugh]).
**all books mentioned have sequel potential. Be aware that you MAY be hooked...**
I was away for a bit, a little jaunty trip to the Med.
Then I had this crazy baby shower that required a lot of home repair work.
And finally, I was reading like crazy!!
What I have found this summer is that the world of the undead is as fascinating as ever.
OF COURSE I read Breaking Dawn.
To all of the nay-sayers of Meyer's fabulous body of work, I would just like to point out that if she had written Round Four of Edward vs. Jacob, she was going to lose a huge fan base.
There was no way for her to pick Jacob OR to pick Edward, really, because she was going to offend people either way. (I am firmly Team Jacob, Jason is firmly Team Edward....even in our own loving family there was discord!)
So instead, Jacob imprinted on baby Bella (Really? Renesme? Really...come on, now...).
Imprinting = creepy, but...whatev.
The point is that both populations in Team Edward and Team Jacob were left with a satisfactory choice. No one died, everyone lived happily ever after (and after and after and to eternity).
Including me, because now I can rest easy that Bella is part of the Cullen clan and Jacob is happy.
I am going to opt out of reading the re-telling from Edward's POV. To me, that is just too much.
Infer what Edward was thinking and then move on. It is better that way.
Otherwise, it just seems like a shameless ploy for milking the cash cow of popularity.
I am, however, getting together everyone I know to go to the midnight showing of Twilight. If you haven't seen the trailer...please indulge me.
That's right...the midnight showing, despite the fact that it is a school night and bedtime is strictly 10pm.
If you want to jump on the train, feel free.
12-12-08...be there or be !
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
And that's just not so.
I was just busy since we adopted a new puppy...Stella. (You have to scream it out - fist in the air, as in "A Streetcar Named Desire".)
I read Lurlene McDaniel's new book Prey.
It's about a teacher/student affair...blah, blah, blah. Mediocre.
If you want a more powerful teacher/student affair book that explores psychological damage and real dangers, check out Barry Lyga's book Boy Toy.
I read that one and felt ill.
So...I didn't really want to write about that one so much. But it's worth the read. You'll find that one in your PUBLIC library...
I read Mazer's new book The Missing Girl. And, since I was home by myself when I read it, I was worried I was going to be abducted. Except that I'm no longer a teenage girl, so probably not what your average pedophile is after (you don't think about those things until the sun is up, though...which makes for some pretty tough sleep).
If you want a more powerful abduction story, though, you should read Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott. Dang! It is a painful story that is almost too hard to read. But is in an important story - one that I am glad Scott took the time to write.
So...read these, not those on the beach this summer...and stay tuned.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
The gem of the week: "The Last Exit To Normal". I wish that it was not copyright illegal to put quotes from this book in my blog because just about every single page has something hysterical or something so well written on it you can't help but admire it. That is a hard feat to accomplish when you are writing about some weighty topics. However, the ease with which the words flit onto the page make you wish that author Michael Harmon was your best friend. I know that writing isn't easy; this man can craft words, though, and he gets "it". Just reading the first paragraph of the dust jacket clued me in to the fact that this experience would be unique and wholly satisfying.
All I can say after reading that book is that I wish I had a tough old broad Aunt who thumped me with spoons when I messed up. I wish that I lived in Montana and worked on a farm. And that I am so glad that I have a family like Ben's - without all of the drama (I would much prefer to learn life lesson's through text rather than my own experiences...).
The end is a nice tidy package, which is incongruent with the rest of the book, but I still think it is worth the read and I can't wait to see what the kids think! I am sending it to trial with Jason first, though. I want to see what he thinks...I'll keep you posted!
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
This book is called Hero and it is authored by Perry Moore (who, apparently, is the cat's pajamas, and just executive produced "The Lion, The Witch..." etc...).
Moore did a great job writing this book. He wasn't preachy. He wasn't one themed. He was multi-faceted and the book was an easy read.
Thom, despite having an unnecessary "h" in his name, was a very likable kid who was coming of age. He has a lot of issues to deal with: his home life, his budding powers of healing, his missing mother, oh...and the fact that he is gay and his father won't approve.
But what you like about Thom is that he decides he has to be true to himself and then he goes out and lives the life that makes that happen.
Many YA- GLBT books seem to stop at the fact that the main character is gay and out. Moore didn't let his book fall into this trap. Instead, the fact that Thom was gay was represented from the start...and his struggle became more about, as one of the secondary characters, Ruth, put it: choices. The choices that we make, good or bad, that influence our lives.
My superpower would be telepathy...so I could tell that the exploding coke was coming and avoid it all together. Altruistic, I know.
But I would use it to communicate that if we all read a little more Moore, we might be a better planet.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
There are certain times in your life when you can completely identify with a character or a feeling. Caletti's writing is chalked full of these personal truths. I think that is why she connects so well with her audience.
Since Honey Baby Sweetheart, Caletti has gone on to pen The Queen of Everything, Wild Roses, The Nature of Jade, and her latest addition to the collection: The Fortunes of Indigo Skye. Usually with authors, they write a hit and miss, but I have yet to read a Caletti miss. She is AMAZING!!
The Fortunes of Indigo Skye is richly complex with human emotions. The main character, Indigo Skye, is a high school student who waitresses. To hear her describe waitressing changes how you treat people!! It also makes you exhausted. When Indigo gets a check/tip from a customer to the tune of $2.5 mil, she is shocked. The rest of the book is the roller coaster ride that money can be. Indigo loses herself, finds herself, and learns the life lesson about what is important (people and relationships) and how to keep it.
Normally, I would tell you to go and check this out immediately from your library (because any time I can plug a library, why not!!). However, with this book, with all of Deb Caletti's books, you need to buy them. And you need to read them with a pen handy. The way she crafts a sentence will resonate within you (no matter your age). You will want to underline the truths she buries in her work. You will want to unearth the little treasures and store them in your memory (or your quote book, as the case may be).
Friday, April 18, 2008
I am all about being a librarian. It is a large part of my identity. I had a great time at TLA. A great time!
However, there are a few things that I would like to point out to others of my profession.
It goes a little like this:
1. Over a certain weight limit, knit pants are FORBIDDEN. Knit pants look good on my sister. She weighs 90 lbs. If you aren't in this category, go right to your closet and "weed" those pants from the collection.
2. If you do decide to forgo my advice and keep the no-no-knits, please heed this warning: knit pants should only come in black. There is no need to match your horrible pants to your horrible shoes.
3. Shirts with applique - appliquepasa? Why? Seriously. No one needs to wear a school bus on their shirt. If I walked into my doctors office and she had a stethoscope monogrammed on her lab coat, I would probably collect my things and walk out. Where is our professional pride?
4. Why are librarians, who basically trademarked "shhhh!!!", always TALKING during presentations? Oh my gosh!
5. If you wear open toed sandals, skip the hose. If you have to wear the hose, skip the open toed sandals. Whoever said that these things go together is a horrible, horrible liar.
Not to be a Negative Nancy, but seriously folks - if we want to be professionals and recognized as such, we have a little work to do.
I am going to do my part...