Thursday, October 23, 2008

Kissing the Bee

If you have a best friend and you're secretly in love with their boyfriend and don't know what to do next, you should take solace in Kathe Koja's newest novel, Kissing the Bee. This book is excellent.

Dana is conflicted because she never said anything to her BF Avra about how she was in love with Emil. Then Avra asked him out and Dana had to keep her secret FOREVER.
But then....Emil reveals the fact that all of this time, he has been harboring secret feelings for Dana. Yeah!! They can finally be together.

Except...there is the problem of the girlfriend and best friend. That is a pretty significant roadblock in a relationship.

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.

Get it. Read it. Find a new respect for winged creatures, both hearts in love and bees!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Brothers Torres

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

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

Sight by Adrienne Maria Vrettos

The cover of Sight is an open eye. It is fringed by some lashes, it has some interesting colors within, and it is surrounded by white. It is pretty, forgive me here, EYE CATCHING.
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 by Elizabeth Scott

You may remember Elizabeth Scott from my earlier Blog about Living Dead Girl...and I have to admit that I am a little bit shocked that this lady penned both Bloom and LDG because they are COMPLETELY different books, though both made of the good stuff.

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'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

Breathe My Name

You know you're having a bad day when your mom wants to kill you.

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 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.

The Day I Killed James

If a title sells a book...and a book cover is the standard by which we all judge...then The Day I Killed James by Catherine Ryan Hyde is gold!

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.

The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine by April Lurie

Dylan is an ordinary guy. His parents are separating: his mom moved out and his dad is working like crazy to compensate. His brother is a pot head (and this may be the only sticking point with younger audiences). But Dylan...Dylan is just a good kid.

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!