Thursday, December 28, 2006

from e to you by Chris d'Lacey and Linda Newberry

This is another email novel that turned out to be more than just pen pals telling each other about their everyday life. Annabelle and Guy are the children of two men who used to be friends. One day their parents decide that their children should create a correspondence because Guy is mourning the loss of his mother and could use a friend. Their personalities clash a bit in the beginning, but they soon form a fast friendship that leads to a bit more, but that's almost to be expected when two people of the opposite sex correspond. What makes this novel better than the previously blogged email novel is that this one includes a few little sub-plot mysteries. First there is the mystery of why their fathers are no longer friends when they used to be really close Then there is the mystery of this locket that Annabelle finds and her father tells her to forget about. Next comes the mystery of who Jane is and why is she so close to both of their fathers. And why is Mary Mary sending a love letter to Annabelle's father when she's married to Guy's father? These mysteries encourage the paranoid and creative side of the main characters creating crazy and enjoyable stories that make this novel more than just the correspondence of two pen pals.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Life As We Knew It By: Susan Beth Pfeffer

This is a novel of hard times for a family that tries desperately to survive . They must ration their food, and use food they have carefully.

Next they loose their electricity, so their is no heat to keep warm.

Lastly, but not least, of importance a flu becomes a menace to everyone . Fortunately, the family of the book lives far from other people's houses. So the family is not exposed to foreign germs.

Concerning the little food they conserved. The Mother only ate one meal a day, and let her son Jon eat more food since he was growing.

When someone got sick they got Dr. Peter their family friend from the Hospital in town. For flu he said take asperin, and drink fluids. Then one day, the Mother fell down, and it was winter, and the daughter Miranda went to the Hospital. When she arrives two nurses said Dr. Peter died of exhaustion, and exposure to flu. The Mother got weaker, and kept falling, but the sons helped her.

Because of their wise planning, the family had food. A very good novel, and worth reading. Many practical lessons learned too. We must keep our faith, and never give up.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Aftershocks By: William Lavender

This novel is historical fiction written in the San Francisco,California area about the 1906 earthquake. It focuses on a middle class family, who the Father is a prominent Doctor, and well known in the community. The wife Catherine is considered a social butterfly by the society. They have two children , the boy is Corey, and the daughter is Jessie.

Jessie has a dream of becomming a Doctor, but does not have the funds to accomplish her goal.
Little does she know that when her Father has a major stroke while driving. He hits a lampost , and he is taken to the Hospital, and dies eventually.

When the Will is read to the family, Jessie finds out her Father has left sufficient money for Jessie to complete her medical degree.

Jessie finds out she has a sister called Lilly . She looks for her, and finds out she is an orphan at the Refugee Camp. Jessie then proceeds to make friends with the Doctor in charge of the Camp.
Little do we know the Doctor takes a keen interest in Lilly, and Jessie.

This book is worthwhile reading, and very interesting.

LRD 12/19/06

Monday, December 18, 2006

Invisible Threads by Annie and Maria Dalton

This novel is told by two different people, explaining different times of their lives. The one is Carrie-Anne, a young girl trying to find her birth mother. The other person is Naomi, Carrie-Anne's birth mother. Carrie-Anne's story is the present while Naomi's story discusses the the pastevents leading up to Carrie-Anne's birth. Carrie-Anne is bitter about her parents hiding her adoption and their unacceptance of her search for her biological mother. This creates a rift between Carrie-Anne and her adopted mother which makes her seem like a spoiled brat. At the same time, Carrie-Anne has her three friends that incorporates the conflict of what happens when friends become more than friends and those feelings change. Does Carrie-Anne ever meet her birth mother and what answers can this mother give her are the ultimate questions of her story line.

Naomi is another story line. She lives with her single mother who has what might be considered Bio-polar tendencies. Naomi adapts to her mother's highs and lows, trying to be a happy force in her life. At one point they find happiness when Lily and her two daughters enter the picture. That, though, changes when a man arrives, destroying not only the friendship, but the mother/daughter relationship. Things then get even more complex and disastrous when Naomi finds herself pregnant and feeling alone.

The invisible thread that connects these two is nothing more than their DNA. There are brief moments when similarities appear and the term "invisible thread" appears once or twice in the novel, but there needs to be more of an overlap to deliver the answers the story desires. I would have loved to have found out how Naomi ends up as an adult. There is so much about her childhood and how that affects her that it might be nice to see how it truly shapes her once she gains true independence. This story has the potential to turn into a Nature vs. Nurture exploration, but it falls short of choosing a side. You'd think that calling the novel an "invisible thread" it's pulling more towards Nature and how these two women are always connected, but there's not enough proof one way or the other. There almost needs to be more purpose or answers come the end of the novel. If the conclusion is that there are no answers, then the build-up is disappointing.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

amazing grace by Megan Shull

This novel follows Grace Kincaid as she leaves her life as a famous tennis star to become a nobody in the Alaskan town of Medicine Hat. There she starts life as Emily, a normal girl. With this new, normal life she experiences a best friend, Fisher, and her first love, Teague. She also has to adapt to life in Alaska, including freezing showers and chopping wood. She quickly adapts and falls in love with Medicine Hat, only to have that come crashing down as the paparazzi find out about her hiding place. The story is directed to the reader, Grace is talking to you, describing what she's going through. While it puts you in the story, just like a friend gossiping, it seems to be just limited to the highlights of her life. Normally that's not bad, who wants to hear about the everyday boring stuff, but the novel already moves at a fast pace so it might be nice to slow it down a bit. At the same time, the problem of her being discovered seems to be a big deal, although it seems blown out of proportion. Stars deal with the paparazzi all the time. Pulling a disappearing act seemed to make the situation worse. But at the same time, the book completely blew over the drama that the situation could have created. It was almost as if the climax didn't receive the respect it deserved. That's a bit of a contradiction, blown out of proportion yet not enough, but there was just something missing to make it worthwhile. The book is good for a quick read, although there are parts that can be slowed down to give it a little more meat.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bleed by Laurie Stolarz

If I had to describe this book in one word it would be strange or weird but in a good way. Stolarz tells the stories of 10 different teenagers who are interconnected in one way or another. Nicole sleeps with Sean, her best friend Kelly's boyfriend, while Kelly is in California meeting a convicted felon, Robby, she had been writing to for a few years. Robby's meeting with Kelly scares Kelly away and Joy, their waitress, who wants true intamacy almost goes all the way with Robby. Maria bribes Sadie into going out for ice cream, but first Sadie needs to cut Maria to prove her friendship. Sadie is overweight and her sister Ginger is jelous of Kelly even though Ginger doesn't know Kelly. Derick thinks he can get any girl and meets Mearl in the diner that his family owns. Later in the day Mearl runs into Maria and after that encounter thinks that she has started to plant roots. In all of the stories there is blood or the allusion of blood. It seems that Stolarz is saying that if we bleed we know we are alive, no matter what our lives are like.

Also recommended: Blue is for Nightmares, White is for Magic, Silver is for Secrets, and Red is for Remberance, all by Stolarz.

T. B.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Notes from the Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick

Don't judge this book by its cover! It is a fun, funny fast read and in the end both sad and hopeful.

Late one night Alex, home alone again drinks all the alcohol his father left behind when he left the family and tries to drive drunk to his father's in anger. He manages only to drive across the neighbor's lawn, behead a lawn gnome and give himself a concussion and a severe case of alcohol poisoning. He is lucky to be alive. He is lucky to not have killed any one. He will not be able to get his driver's license for several years. He has to do community service in an area nursing home which smells like rotten turkey and lysol.

He is assigned to Sol Lewis, elderly and Jewish whose sense of humor and use of yiddish phrases is hard for Alex to appreciate or even understand. At first he focuses on playing poker and reading with Sol. Until he stumbles on Sol's and his mutual interest in jazz guitar. Alex is so self centered at the start that he doesn't realize that his long time friend Laurie is now in love with him, doesn't ask Sol about his past life and interest in jazz or about the daughter Judy who never visits and never picks up the Hannukkuh Flowers Sol buys for her. Sol has emphysema and is so old he actually knew jazz greats from the 30's. No one fights to live forever and it is inevitable that Sol won't always be around. But, he teaches Alex many life lessons in his wonderful funny "gotcha" way and Alex in turn helps a reconciliation between him and his estranged daughter.
Don't be a meshuggener - read this!
jdw 12/7/08

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

rob& by P.J. Petersen and Ivy Ruckman

This is a book written as email pen pals and is supposedly the true email correspondents between the two authors. Petersen is "Rob Cruise" a resident at Pine Creek, a type of boarding school for trouble makers of all sorts. Ruckman is "Sara 4348" a girl he decides to email after reading her poem online. A vast majority of the novel is about convince Rob not to push his luck at PC even though he's miserable and about Sara dealing with a move. The novel plays with how truthful a person honestly is in email (Rob sometimes creates new identities for himself) and, of course, young love (because you can't have two pen pals of the opposite sex not fall in love - yes that was a double negative). The novel starts off slow because it is just an account of everyday teenage life but it does pick up (a bit). The line between truth and reality could be pushed a bit more - or at least contemplated more seriously. The characters are just too trusting to not consider the truth soon. Even when Sara realizes that Rob might not be the man she just brushes it off. It also seemed as if the lead up to their love was missing. Correspondence doesn't automatically equal love, so I would have liked a little bit more reason for the connection. There were a few emails to Sara's friend Angie, so it very easily could have been included as her musings for this man. It's just hard to see at what point the characters go from "I like talking to this person" to "I love this person." Nonetheless, it was an interesting read and I like the email format.

TRUE NOTEBOOKS by Mark Salzman

Respected writer, Salzman is a volunteer writing teacher for the Inside OutSide Writing Project.
Volunteers lead groups of teens, waiting in juvenile hall in Los Angeles for trial and sentencing, in
writing classes. These are kids who take guns with them to see movies. They are kids who take a nod of a head as a threat and shoot first. These are murderers. They are kids who did not fully understand the impact of their actions at the time. They are kids whose hopes and dreams have ended. Many didn't have much to begin with. Now they have less. They are chameleons, one way on the outside, different on the inside. They write coherent, heart felt pieces that may win your sympathies. This is Salzman's moving story of the project and the writers.
JDW 12/5/06