Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Mary has always lived within the fences. Her mother has told her stories of life outside and what it used to be like before the Unconsecrated returned, but...those things only live in Mary's imagination.

Several months back, Mary's father went missing. It is suspected that he fell into the hands of the Unconsecrated. Every day her mother walks out to check the fences, desperately searching for her husband, and every day her mother breaks down a little bit more.

When Mary is out doing laundry one day taking her time, the siren sounds and she feels in her heart that her mother has breached the fence lines. When she gets to the fence line, it is too late. Her mother has been bitten. But Mary can't kill her mother, so she waits until her mother turns and then sends her out to become one of the Unconsecrated.

Mary's brother turns his back on her and Mary is forced to become one of the Sisterhood. As she becomes more embroiled in the secrets of the Sisterhood, Mary learns that in order for the Sisterhood to preserve order, they have kept many secrets. Before she can learn enough to piece together the whole story, however, the walls are breached and Mary finds herself running for her life to escape the Unconsecrated.

A zombie novel filled with enough horror and suspense to keep the pages turning, readers will not be disappointed with Ryan's first offering and they will be more than willing to stay on board for parts two and three (which are in the works).

Silver Phoenix : Beyond the Kingdom of Xia

Cindy Pon's debut novel is a hit! I was saturated in the culture and engrossed with the imagery. You fall right into this story and are surprised when you look up and hours have passed while you've been engaged in Ai Ling's world.

This is a quest story that combines horror, romance, and adventure. Ai Ling is the only daughter of a scholar father and mother who used to be a nanny, but Ai Ling is destined for greater things. She is a girl who has always lived within the confines of society, but now things are changing.

Ai Ling's father is called to the Palace of Fragrant Dreams, a dangerous return for him, as he was formerly kicked out of the palace and nearly executed by one of the King's advisors. While he is gone (for too long), Ai Ling is almost forced into a disagreeable marriage with a local merchant, but instead she leaves her village to find her father.

This leads her on a journey where she discovers demon life, roadblocks to prevent her progress, and love in the form of a fellow quester, Chen Young. As their paths intertwine and they trek forward towards the Palace, Ai Ling learns of her newly developing gift of being able send her spirit into other people...a gift that will serve her well when she encounters the evil that awaits her at the Palace of Fragrant Dreams.

Enchanting and colorful, you won't be disappointed in Pon's offering.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Along for the Ride begins with the start of Auden's summer. Auden has been raised by two academic parents who expected more of a little adult than a child. They have since divorced and Auden has come to terms with that.

When her father and his new wife, Heidi, call her and invite her to their beach side town for the summer, she decides to go for a visit. Immediately, Auden can tell that things aren't at all as they should be. Her father has immersed himself in writing leaving Heidi to raise the baby for herself. Heidi is at the end of her rope, she is very obviously crying out for help. Auden sees that, and she steps in to offer what she can from time to time. It becomes clear to her, however, that the problems are a little bit more than her experience level. She has been around this block before with her father and she has a lot to say about what is going on, but she can't figure out how to put it.

Auden also has trouble sleeping at night. In the past she has used that time to sneak away and study at an all night diner. Things in this small town are different, and she hasn't found the right spot yet, but her wanderings have led her to a boy named Eli. Eli shares Auden's insomnia problem, but he offers her some unique places to wait out her dreams.

While Auden and Eli share things about their past, Eli proposes that Auden begin a quest...everyone needs a quest. Since Auden's parents brought up a miniature adult, she hasn't had typical experiences (like learning to ride a bike).

In the meantime, stuff at home is out of control. Auden offers to take over the accounting aspects of Heidi's business while Heidi deals with the baby. Heidi has three teenage girls working for her, and as the summer progresses, Auden is befriended by these girls, making the first friends in her life.

Let me just say that Dessen is a fantastic author. She has the subtleties of being a teenager down. She does an excellent job of exploring frustrations and elations that accompany relationships of all kinds. This is summer reading at it's finest!!