Thursday, December 30, 2010

Los Hijos de Anasi - Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman un autor fasinante! Cual quier lector sabe esto cuando empieza un libro es dificil de parar de leer.
En este libro en particular Los Hijos de Anansi contiene personajes tradicionales, leyendas africanas que se mezclan con los personajes que de algun modo cambian sus vidas y destinos.
Charles Nancy es el protagonista de este libro, Estadudidense pero plantado en Inglaterra, en el mundo de las fianzas. La tragedia del fallecimiento de su padre a echo cambios repentinos en su vida de Gordo Charlie como se le conose, a raiz de esta tragedia se da cuenta sobre un hermano cual no tenia ningun conosimiento. Este hermano tiene tenencia de aparecerce de forma extraña y repentina, esto causa grandes problemas en la vida de Gordo Charlie en todos los aspectos, en su trabajo, su vida personal con su novia, asta en el mismo.
Los metodos de Gaiman son muy tipicos tal como en sus anteriores novelas, que se encuentra magia pero de poco a poco de esfuma. Sin embargo, Gaiman tiene el valor de llevar sus novelas a otras dimesiones que demuestran su capasidad y atraen al lector.
Se los recomiendo, esta historia esta llena misterio no podras parar de leer!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell

This novel is a prequel to the highly successful show, Sex and the City. I've seen a few episodes of the show and both of the movies, so I have somewhat of a feel for what the show is like and the main character, Carrie Bradshaw. However, I have never read the novel by the same author which started the show. Is it right, then, to compare this novel to the show and not the original book because while I don't feel like it succeeded in connecting with the show, what's to say it doesn't connect with the book?

Carrie Bradshaw is a senior in high school trying to navigate her way through boys, friends, bullies, and her desire to be a writer. When she lands Sebastain Kydd as a boyfriend, she figures things are looking up, until she has to deal with Donna LaDonna who doesn't exactly like the fact that Carrie "stole" her boyfriend. Donna's now out to make Carrie's life miserable. Things, though, aren't perfect with her relationship and soon she begins to question her best friend's constant involvement with her boyfriend, which ultimately leads to betrayal and the sad end of a relationship and friendship. In light of the betrayal, Carrie finally starts to find the voice she needs to be a successful writer and is on her way to becoming the Carrie Bradshaw we all know. In the meantime she has to deal with a rebellious sister, another friend's romance troubles, the fact that all of friends seem to be having sex except her, and other woes that affect seniors in high school trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives.

I don't know what to say about this book because I feel like I'm judging it based on the TV show and not as a book. However, the book promotes itself as "Carrie before Sex and the City" so how can you avoid the comparison? You don't see TV Carrie until the final few chapters. I understand how the first 3/4ths of the book are shaping her into this character, but it took sooo long for her to emerge that it was hard to maintain my interest. Also, one of the great things about the TV show are the supporting characters. While Carrie might be the main star, her friends are so distinct and special that the show is equally about them. The supporting characters in this novel fell flat. You could never mistake Charlotte for Samantha on the show but in this book, nobody had a distinct voice or personality although they all had the potential. Her friend Mouse could have been taken out completely and Walt faded in and out of the novel while his story was interesting. Only Maggie and Lali had any substance but they still could have been anybody for most of the book. While the novel isn't about them, that doesn't mean they need to be cardboard cutouts for Carrie to interact with. At the same time, the setting of this novel could have been anywhere, anytime. This novel took place in 1980 but nothing in the novel, aside from the casual manner every treated drinking and smoking, told me it wasn't a different time from today. I'm not expecting news reports and the time period shoved down my throat, but if it's going to be in a different decade, make it a little more obvious. In the show Carrie was all about fashion and sometimes wacky fashion. Where are the leggings, jumpsuits, shoulder pads, teased hair, anything to tell me this novel isn't taking place yesterday? Sure she had a thing with a purse, a mink shawl and a hat, but three fashion things the whole book aren't enough to develop Carrie's obsession with fashion or set the time period.

The novel in and of itself wasn't horrible. It is a good story that clearly shows the path Carrie took to become editorial writer and everything that affected her. That all works for the novel. However, I don't think that readers are going to be able to separate it from the show they all know and so I don't think the novel lives up to it's potential.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Payback Time by Deuker

How Far should a journalist go to get a good news story, a scoop? Are there secrets meant to be kept? Mitch grew out when the rest of his friends grew tall in middle school and found himself being made fun of and looking for a new place to belong. This place is the school newspaper where he is the top writer and now a senior in high school. He has been assigned to cover sports, most important to the students but not to him. His photographer is Kimi Yon, a well liked student. At the first interview, photo shoot at practice before the first football game Kimi points out a new kid who is off by himself and when no one is actively watching him shows huge talent. She recognizes a hot story in this mystery kid and shares her ideas with Mitch. Not only is Mitch intrigued by the mystery and possible scoop which would look ever so good on a college essay, he is enchanted by Kimi's respect towards him. So, he begins investigating who this kid is where he came from, if he really is eligible to play football and begins an exercise program, in hopes of starting a relationship with Kimi. The investigation puts Mitch in harms way more than once and he is repeatedly warned to back off, stop what he is doing, its none of his business. Finally,
He has also put the mystery kid in danger from gangs and risked the high school's chances of a state title. And the story could never be published. Because there is a lot of reporting on the football games and even some on the school's badly divided girl's volleyball team this is a sports story first that will be enjoyed most by sports fans then a mystery. Deuker's books are always good exciting reads. jdw12/10

Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith

I didn't finish this book. I did not like it. Smith wrote Ghost Medicine which I liked very much. I wrote about it in this blog. Marbury Lens starts out with a brutal kidnapping and plausible escape and death of the kidnapper. Jack repeats many times that all that happens to him after is because the kidnapper messed up his brain. He repeats he should get help. But, he just keeps saying this and just keeps doing not very smart things. He is on vacation in London when a stranger begins talking with him as if they've known each other for some time. Then leaves a weird pair of lenses behind and vanishes. Jack tries them on and is transported to a different time and place. It is a inhospitable world with famine, lack of water, violence. Sometimes he is away from our world for only a minute, sometimes a whole day passes. He could dump the lenses after his first terrifying experience. He does not. He keeps using them, keeps saying the kidnapper messed up his brain. He begins to keep himself oriented in time by putting sticky notes all over his mirror and keeps right on going. And, I stopped reading. It was too repetitive, and did not make good sense to me. Maybe someone out there can explain the compulsion to subject himself to the terrifying experiences behind the Marbury Lens, not me.
JDW 12/27/10

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Undiscovered Cpuntry by Lin Enger

This is an adult book with teen appeal. A Young Man, Jesse, is writing a memoir of all that happened one horrible year when he was in high school some 10 years ago and sharing it with a younger brother who was too young to remember that time. The time when their father apparently shot himself while out hunting with Jesse and Jesse found the disfigured body and his life changed forever. That was the medical examiner's call. But. his father appears to Jesse with a different story of what happened. The story involves his uncle Clay who once dated his mother and once shot a cat with a shot gun, not unlike that which killed Jesse's father, Clay's brother. Though no one believes him, except maybe one slow witted young man, Jesse pursues his beliefs all the way to their anticipated conclusion. All the while, I hoped it would not end that way. And an abused young woman, perhaps Jesse's first love tries to talk him out of his trajectory even as she deals with nasty abuse by her father. The impact a parent's death from apparent suicide can have on a child is profoundly presented. And, suicide is a very current hot topic.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hellsing by Kohta Hirano

For those who love vampires stories here's a good one. This manga doesn't not only contain good art but also a good story line.

Alucard, also known as Dracula, is a vampire that serves the head of an organization known as Hellsing. Of which operates under cover exterminating rouge vampires and out of control werewolves. Through many events of which had been control by a German Major of who's only wish is to die, but to have fun with it and be the worth. By recruiting many of who shared the same interest, he has cause what by many can be called an Apocalypse Alucard has to not only exterminate those who are causing death and destruction but too to find out that it all was a plot to kill him. Along with his Master Integra and his servant Seras, they manage to stop the slaughter but at the cost of his own existence.

Heist Society by Ally Carter

This novel was definitely enjoyable, although I found I had to suspend realism in some places and not due to supernatural occurrences but just for the fact that teenagers were accomplishing these tasks. That said, this novel about thieves felt like a teen version of Mission Impossible for females.

Katarina (Kat) comes from a family of thieves, especially art thieves, but doesn't want to live that life. She manages to get into a posh boarding school until she's set up for a crime she didn't commit and is subsequently expelled. It turns out that a friend committed the crime because Kat is needed to help her father who is accused by a powerful man (Arturo Taccone) of stealing his priceless art. If her father doesn't return the art, he will be killed. Kat knows her father didn't do it and soon figures out where to find the art. With only two weeks to retrieve it, Kat calls in help from family and friends, all of whom are teens since the adults think it's too dangerous and want the kids to back off. Together, though, the teens set out to rob a heavily protected art gallery - a feat committed by only one other person - the mysterious Visily Romani who stole the pictures from Taccone. In the midst of the thievery, Kat also deals with typical teen issues - jealousy over her beautiful cousin and a love triangle between herself, her best friend Hale, and Nick, the new guy.

This was a good novel. It was interesting and thrilling, especially if you like spy stories. I like how this brought the James Bond feel to a female audience. It has the action that might intrigue boys, but I think they'll be annoyed with the relationship side of the book and possibly a female protagonist. It's great, though, to show that spies aren't just guys. However, at times it was hard to wrap my mind around this being 16 year olds committing these acts. Even when they weren't stealing anything, they were traveling around the world unchaperoned and passing themselves off in so many different situations that I had trouble seeing teens being successful. True that's the life they were brought up in and it is fiction, so I guess I just need to be a little more accepting. One thing I found interesting about this novel was the back story about the painting and how during the Holocaust, Nazis used to steal priceless pieces of art from people. Even though the art in the story was fictional, the history was true and it was a nice touch to the novel.

I enjoyed this book. The characters were all enjoyable and the life they led was definitely captivating. True some of the acts were a bit hard to swallow, but it's fiction and that makes it fun. I look forward to the sequel coming out in June to see what else the characters can do.

Monday, December 13, 2010

When the Wind Blows by James Patterson

This book, although intended for adult audiences with adult themes, was added to the young adult collection due to the popularity of the Maximum Ride series. The main character in the series, Maximum, was first introduced in this novel and it's sequel, The Lake House. However, the character in When the Wind Blows and it's sequel are slightly different than the Max in the Maximum Ride series and supporting characters are changed, but it is still interesting to see where the idea of the character originated.

In the novel, FBI agent Kit Harrison is investigating a series of murders of prominent doctors who seem to be hiding something. One murdered doctor was the husband of Frannie O'Neill, a local veterinarian who suddenly stumbles upon a strange sight in the woods - a young girl with wings. This girl, named Max, escaped from a place called "The School" where she and her brother had been raised as lab rats and recently escaped. The people who ran The School don't want any witnesses to the experimentations that they've done and are now out to destroy the problems that have arisen with Max's escape. With the help of Kit and Frannie, though, Max tries to free her friends from The School and expose the secrets of some sick scientists trying to play God.

I find this book fascinating because of the idea of what science might become. Although this book is 12 years old, the ideas are still mind-blowing. It is an intricately woven plot and with intriguing characters that draw you in from the beginning. Each character has his/her own back story and you want the good guys to succeed and the bad guys to fail. The book has amazing twists and keeps you gripped from page one. It is, however, definitely intended for adult audiences. Some of the science is very complicated and heavy to sort through. There are also adult themes (violent/graphic deaths and just a little bit of sex - not that teens aren't already exposed to these themes). A lot of the novel focuses more on the adults and their investigation of The School and the associated murders. Even when Max comes front and center, it's about exposing The School and it's evils.

I haven't read the Maximum Ride series so I don't know how much actual appeal this novel will have for those fans since the only similarities I know between the books are a girl with wings who can fly named Max and the fact that she was created at a place called "The School." It is, though, a really good book, especially for teens who are looking for a fast paced, thrilling book that will challenge their reading.

Wildthorn by Jane Eagland

Before woman's lib, it was believed that a fulfilled woman was a married woman, mother, and socially involved or involved with church causes. There was no place for single women, especially not those who wanted to be doctors or other professionals. Such a woman might be sent to do service with a family, sent to a convent or even sent to an asylum for the mentally ill as happened to Louisa if they in some way became inconvenient to the family.
Louisa always preferred studying science, riding horses and hanging with her father to "appropriate" womanly pursuits. With her father's support she had been studying for the entrance exams for the newly opened women's college. But her father died. Her beloved cousin for whom she had surprised feelings beyond that which was customary was marrying as a good girl should. Suddenly Louisa was in the way. She is told she is going to a family to be a governess but winds up in Wildthorn. Its an asylum of the worst kind with abusive attendants, bad food, nothing to occupy a person's mind, and no escape unless the person's who wanted Louisa out of the way decided to sign her release papers. Louisa's struggles at the asylum, how she escapes, how she learns about the conspiracy that put her there and her blossoming romance with one kind attendant makes for a fast riveting read. Its part historical fiction, part homosexual romance and part women's lib. This story will make all of us females glad to be living in the twentieth century. jdw 12/13/10

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Designated Ugly Fat Friend By: Kody Keplingler

This novel got great reviews, and I could hardly put it down.

One of the main personalities is seventeen-year-old Bianca. She thinks of herself as not pretty , but is very smart. Bianca is way to smart to get involved with the opposite sex. In fact Bianca pours coke in the face of Wesley Rush at the school cafeteria.
Later in the novel, things change for Bianca and Wesley. They become good friends, and in fact start dating. Bianca relies on Wesley when her parents get a nasty divorce. Bianca has a father, who is a secret alcoholic , who got over the problem . When her father received the divorce papers, he goes on a binge, and gets violent. Bianca lives with her Dad. Her Dad started to go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, which helped him a lot.
Now Bianca spends a lot of time with Wesley alone without supervision Bianca does not want to go home to see her Dad drinking to much, and making a mess out of himself. The divorce has caused him shock, and he cannot believe it. In fact, the Dad had no clue as to what the wife was going to do. The novel is really a good message for all of us.
Do not presume you know all this material. Things like this happen all the time. Whether, or not you expect it. I liked this novel very much.


Pay Back Time By: Carl Deuker

This is a novel for teen males, but I find by reading, the novel it is good for teen females as well. It has a lot of action , and intrigue, and it is interesting to both males, and females.

We get to know Kimi, the school reporter, who takes photo's for the school newspaper. Mitch True works on the School newspaper with Kimi, and they are good friends.

Mitch, and Kimi are working on the missing links of Angel Marichal , who is the corner-back on the High School football team. He is a fantastic player . Angel is a 6 ft. 3 inches teen, and weighs 230 pounds, and is able to score points for Lincoln High School. Why does not the School Coach McNulty use Angel's great abilities, or talent to have Lincoln High School win against other football teams ?
Kimi, and Mitch True investigate Angel's background, and find his file in the School Office is blank, and only has the Coach of the High School's signature McNulty. It seems like a cover-up
of some kind. Angel Marichal's family it seems are illegal in the United States. Therefore, Angel was brought to the town where Lincoln High School is located to hide from the Immigration agents. He was also an important witness to a murder in his home town in California.

Read the novel to find out more details, and what really happens in this novel. I liked the novel.


Sugar & Spice By: Lauren Conrad

This novel is a good read for any teen girl, who loves watching reality television . This shows how actresses cannot confide in anyone in Hollywood , even close friends, because they are out to get the role you wanted without thinking twice. Jane is one of the personalities who just wants to control her life. Jane swears off men, and all the problems that come with them. We then are introduced to Scarlett, who has one boyfriend called Liam. The problem with Scarlett, is she is friendly with the cameramen, and men working off stage. Liam does not like to be the second fiddle to Scarlett.
The author towards the end of the novel, reveals that the real drama is usually behind the scenes.
I liked the novel very much.


Thursday, December 02, 2010

Behemoth - Scott Westerfeld

The war between the Clankers and Darwinists continues in Behemoth, the second in Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan trilogy. After escaping the mountain with Prince Alek, Count Volger, and Master Klopp the Leviathan heads toward Constantinople. They are attacked as soon as they reach the city by a Tesla cannon, which uses lightning for its blast. The Leviathan avoids destruction, and at the same time Alek and Klopp make their escape into Constantinople. While there they befriend an American news reporter, who eventually figures out who Alek really is. Back on the Leviathan the captain reveals to Deryn the true reason they are in Constantinople. He wants Deryn to take a group of three men and place vitriolic barnacles at the bottom of kraken nets to disolve them, which will take about one month. This will allow the Behemoth to come through, and turn the war in favor of the Darwinists. Deryn succeeds in her mission, but looses her men and becomes stranded in Constantinople. Can Deryn find Alek, who is also in the city, and also get back to the Leviathan?

Behemoth was just as good and fast paced as Leviathan. It continued the story nicely, and left you with ideas where the story might go in the third book. The third book in the Leviathan trilogy called Goliath, will be coming out in October of 2011.

T.B. 12/3/10

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

One thing I hate is being misled. I dislike picking up a book that promises to be thrilling and suspenseful and finding it to be dull without a single moment of suspense. I felt misled with this book since the back cover (at least on the edition I read) made it sound like the novel focused on the mystery behind a drowned body. However, barely even a third of the book focused on that part of the story and the rest was somewhat boring in my eyes.

This novel takes place in 1906 when times were tough, especially for a girl on a farm with no mother. Mattie Gokey is the oldest daughter of four and is forced to act as mother to the family, as well as son to her father who needs help on the farm. Mattie's dreams, though, lie in school and books, so being forced to work on the farm is the last thing she wants to do. She finds herself stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place when she gets into college with a full scholarship, but no way of going since her father won't fund the trip and needs her on the farm. Try as she might, she sees no way of making her dream for college come true and then a local boy (Royal) asks her to marry him and she realizes her life is destined to be on a farm. Mattie's life on the farm is the past while the drowned woman is the present and Mattie is working at a hotel when this happens (You don't find out why she's at the hotel until the last half of the book). The woman (Grace Brown) had given Mattie a set of letters to burn, but Mattie never had a chance and then the woman's dead body appeared. Curious, Mattie reads the letters and the mystery behind Grace and her companion swells.

To begin with, this book is depressing. It's probably the time period and how limiting the options were for people (not just women) and how sad it was to see people's dreams go up in smoke (not just Mattie's dreams either). But, like they say, those were the times. It wouldn't be realistic if it were rainbows and unicorns. As I read about Mattie, though, I couldn't help but be conflicted about how I felt for her. Part of me felt she was selfish to want to go to New York since her family needed her so badly but then there was the argument of why shouldn't she pursue her dreams. I honestly didn't know what stance to take on the character, especially since the former opinion fit with the times of the book while the latter opinion is much more modern. However, the book constantly focused on this struggle to make her dream come true and the repeated disappointment that it became tiresome. I honestly struggled to read the the first half of the book because it was so slow. To me the most interesting parts focused on Grace Brown's story and I think it could have been a much more captivating book if it had been about her. The author gave a note about the true story of Grace Brown which the book touches on. If she had continued the story from where Mattie left out, exploring further the letters, told Grace's story, it would have, in my eyes, been a more interesting novel, but that's not what this novel focused on and I should focus my judgment on what it was, not what it should be. To me, what it was was depressing and frustrating and sad.

Despite how the back of the book presents this novel as a murder mystery, this is really just a coming of age story for young Mattie Gokey as she faces the tug of war between her dreams and life's reality. If the novel had been presented that way I probably would have a more favorable review because I would have expected that more so than a murder mystery. When I'm misled, I have a hard time liking a book, especially when I'm already ambivalent about historical fiction and so much of this novel was about life back then. I know others who have enjoyed this novel but I'm just not one of them.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Freddie Mercury

Me encanta la musica de Queen, la banda de rock que "rockio" en la decada de los años 70 y 80 (entre otras). Y sin duda alguna me gusta la musica de Freddie Mercury, el lider de tal banda.
No hace mucho tiempo que conosi y escuche la musica de Queen. Cuando estava en mi noveno grado en la preparatoria, una compañera de clase de fotografia tenia musica de Queen en su entonces iPod shuffle primera generacion. Le pedi permiso para escucharla, la cansion que no conosia en ese entoces ahora es una de mis canciones favoritas en mi repertorio musical. La famosa cancion Bohemian Rhapsody!
Bueno en este libro escrito por el autor y amigo Peter Freestone del desaparecido Freddie Mercury, cuenta la vida sobre su amigo. Tras trabajar con Freddie por doce años.
El relata como estuvo relacionando con Freddie, como lo conosio, cuando trabajaron juntos y tal mas.
Regresando un poco mas a mi opinion de Freddie, me encanta su musica, su letra, era un fasinante entretenidor cuando se subia en los esenarios. Uno de mis shows favoritos fue en el año 85, en el evento Live Aid. Eso fue mas que un show de entretenimiento, fue algo extraordinario.
En la vida personal de Freddie Mercury no puedo commentar nada, ya que la respeto y no soy nadie para opinar. La vida personal de cada quien es, algo muy privado. Pero como lider de la banda de rock Queen, creo que ahora es una leyenda. Tenia su propia personalidad cuando cantaba.
Desafortunadamente fallecio hace ya casi dos decadas, pero aun sigue en los iPods de los que aun escuchamos su musica.
Les recomiendo este libro. Se presenta desde una perpectiva de un amigo, assistente personal, confidente etc. El autor al igual nos presenta con algunas fotos de Freddie, en sus dias ordinarios sin presentacion con la banda. Recornando a Freddie Mercury.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Just Listen By Sarah Dessen

This a self-explanatory novel with personalities, and characters that get to be part of you as you read, and get into the novel. I was anxious about finishing the novel in order to find out about Owen. This is Anabel's boyfriend. This novel was exciting , and stressful, but in the end, it turned out happy. I recommend the novel very much.
The author is very good as she presents her characters in the novel. The plot thickens, but she unravels the story as we speak.
At this moment Sarah Dessen is one of the favorite authors for Young Adult. She has a captive audience with teens. Dessen is able to reach teens in her novels. The novel "Just Listen" should be required reading for teens. It has a message for teenagers that is clear.
In the novel, you feel grief, fear, and love. This novel captures many teens. Sophie meets Owen Armstrong, who is obsessed with music, and always tells the truth.
The novel is good, but at the same time one has a message to digest from the novel.
LRD 11/5/10

Twisted By: Laurie Hase Andersen

This is a novel about a teen called Tyler, and how at the beginning of the novel he was considered a nerd until he was arrested, and picked up by a police car. Tyler sprayed painted the walls in the high school worth thousands of dollars. Tyler also was appointed a Probation Officer. By the way, Tyler's probation is to work with the janitors at school. Tyler likes Bethany very much . They are two different personalities who, mange to be together although they are different.
What do you think of Bethany's behavior at the big teen party? This teen party was held in a home , where their wasn't any adult supervision. All the teens at the party drank as much as they wanted.
I liked the novel very much. It taught me a lesson. Besides too much drinking pictures were taken of attendees in awkward poses. Bethany is Tyler's Father's boss daughter.

LRD II/5/10

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley

Charlie and her father are on their annual summer vacation to visit grandpa in the small town where her parents grew up .. This time neither Grandma nor Mother is with them. Mother died several years ago and this is the first vacation since grandma died. Grandpa just wants to sleep all the time and father is a shadow of his former self. Neither is very aware of Charlie.
For the first time in the many years she has been visiting, Neighbor Rose and her two friends decide to befriend Charlie. Rose's reasons aren't exactly simply to be friends but rather to use Charlie to get out of the town she feels stifled in. Dave seems to have fallen in love with Charlie which she finds very interesting but both are very awkward. There are trips to the water falls, a camping trip in which Charlie hears the others singing a song that makes fun of her. This results in Charlie dumping every one's friendship. There is a little swearing. Charlie tries to learn to drive. Dave is bitten by a snake and nearly dies. Throughout the story, which is narrated alternately by Rose and Charlie, Charlie hears music in everything and writes songs and sings mostly to herself and Rose speaks of the science in everything. Charlie is a shy one, reluctant to show others who she is, hurt before by teasing and possibly dumped by a close friend just before vacation. Gradually the group of likable sort of friends sort out who each really is and come to terms with all that has happened in this one eventful summer vacation. I think this would be great for middle schoolers who like Natasha Friend. jdw 10/27/10

Three Illinois State High School Book Awards Books aka Abraham Lincoln Books

1. Sontag. House Rules
This is a memoir of growing up in a household with a very controlling, emotionally abusive father, who worsened in time. Sontag looks at why her mother could not break free of abuse, why she sought so hard for positive recognition she could never get, how her sister, the invisible one faired. How people tried to help her. What it has all meant in time. I would recommend this to folks who have read Pelzer's A child called it and needed a more thoughtful look at abuse and its impact.

2. Corben. Hold Tight
This is an adult thriller with a couple of teen protaganists. Its difficult to summarize this story as it has a large cast of characters, all of whom are necessary to this very twisty plot. A suicide of a friend has changed Adam dramatically and caused his parents to start spying on him and restricting his movements. He reacts by running away. Which causes the parents to go searching, even as the cops claim he is a run-away who they will not search for and that one son of a cop is not involved. A school girl has been harshly, unjustifiably criticized or made fun of perhaps by an otherwise well respected teacher which leads to her being cyberbullied and her father to stalk the teacher and her mother to threaten him. There appears to be a serial killer on the loose having done one horrendous murder with another woman missing. Jill, Adam's sister is being shoved aside while her parents worry about her beloved brother. Jill is also the only remaining friend of the girl being cyberbullied. And Adam's father is a renowned organ transplant surgeon who is trying to find a kidney for a neighbor boy whose father does not know he is not the boy's biological father at the same time he is searching for his missing son. It all ties together very neatly and unexpectedly in the end. There is also a teen nightclub that may be a cover for an illegal drug operation that perhaps Adam and the boy who committed suicide may have been involved in it. Corben never loses track of any of his characters. Its one very fast roller coaster ride.

3. Giles. Right Behind You
At age nine a young boy, upset about a number of things tries to burn a friends new baseball glove in a fit of anger and winds up burning the kid to death as well. The public judges the boy to be a sociopathic murderer. However, he spent several years in a mental institution, catatonic so horrified was he by what had happened. His father never gave up on him, his doctors never gave up on him. Eventually, as a teenager he is released to try to live a normal life. How he learns to forgive himself and live again, experience happiness and love is a hard trip with many errors along the way.
jdw 10/27/10

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

When the Ghost Screams by Leslie Rule

In honor of Halloween, I decided to read a series of true ghost stories with the promise that this book "will leave you with goose bumps and a strong desire to sleep with the lights on!" at least according to the back cover. Unfortunately, this book did no such thing, maybe because I'm a skeptic, but I really just think it's poor storytelling.

This book focuses on who the ghosts are, looking mostly at victims. There are stories of missing persons that are believed to haunt places, accident victims, war victims, and even those that fell prey to the witch hunts. One section discusses prisoners that have yet to move on, another looks at just odd occurrences with ghosts, and then it all ends with places you can visit or stay at that are haunted. There are a lot of stories, some which are barely even a page long. Most of the information in the book focuses on telling the back story of the ghost and how they came to their untimely end, not so much on the ghostly actions.

Unfortunately, it seems like more time is spent on their story than the actual hauntings. That seems to be one of my biggest complaints is that I don't think the collection does a good enough job convincing the reader that hauntings are going on. It almost feels like there's a big long story about the person and then "people have reported seeing a woman's ghostly form" story. The encounters feel vague and most everything is from a third person. People say this or this happens at this place but it all feels so removed or like it's hearsay. To me it didn't feel reliable. Maybe I'm just looking for proof or more specifics of what people saw - create some imagery for me! It all just feels like a story, not anything true and there aren't enough details of what goes on in terms of the hauntings to have me convinced something odd is going on. My other major complaint are the pictures. This book is filled with photographs, which would normally be a great thing, if the pictures showed anything. "This is the store that is haunted" tells me nothing! In the entire book, there is only one picture that actually shows a "ghost." It really irked me when in one story the book talked about how photographers capture great "spirit-like streaks...exiting the structure" (96) and the accompanying picture is a 1930s postcard. Where are these pictures with the spirits?!

This book proved to be a huge disappointment. I can't say that a single story scared me. There was too much of who the person was and not enough of the things that go bump in the night. The author failed to create a picture for the reader so that they could feel the presence of the ghost. Maybe I'm just a skeptic, but I would think a book like this would have me thinking things might be amiss in terms of whether ghosts are real or not. This book did nothing to make me think ghosts might be walking among us.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dust - Joan Frances Turner

Jessie died nine years ago, and was reborn a zombie. She has been apart of a zombie gang, and has led a good afterlife, well as good as any zombie can. Then one day she notices that their leader, Teresa, doesn't smell like your typical zombie. At first she dismisses it, but then the zombies notice humans who start looking and smelling like zombies. Jessie's brother, Jim, finds her in the forest, and tells her that he's part of a group of scientists who are trying to find out why some people come back as zombies. The thing is that the bacteria they released into the surrounding area is making humans turn into zombies, and zombies back into humans. As most of the human population dies before they turn into zombies, the zombies turn into humans, but with a voracious appetite. They eat anything and everything until nothing is left. Can the zombie/humans survive, or will their hunger consume them all?

I absolutely enjoyed this book. It wasn't your typical zombie threat unleashed, and the few humans remaining try to fight back and survive. Dust gave the zombies personality, feelings, and a sense of belonging somwhere. To them they were almost human, even though they were dead.

I also recommend the Generation Dead series by Daniel Waters.

T.B. 10/22/10

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Huge by Sasha Paley

I picked up this book because I started to watch the TV show based on the book. Most times people will say the book is better, but in this case, I think the TV show does a better job of life at a fat camp.

Wil has been sent to Wellness Canyon because her parents own a health club and it's embarrassing to have an overweight daughter. She, however, doesn't see this being a problem and decides to gain weight at camp instead of lose. Her roommate is April, who, on the other hand, has saved her money for years to go to this camp and wants to lose as much weight as possible. The two butt heads with their conflicting attitudes towards camp until they discover a common enemy - a boy named Colin who they both like and who then humiliated both girls. Now bent on revenge, the girls join forces, losing weight and gaining friendship.

The book was decent but I think it's very misleading. While I don't have any experience with fat camp, I feel like this book was very misleading. First off, 15 pounds in 2 weeks is not a very realistic or necessarily healthy. Also, if you're exercising, chances are you might actually gain weight because you're gaining muscle which weighs more. Everyone had amazing weight loss results and they treated it at times like they weren't even trying. Wil didn't even want to lose weight yet suddenly she's so skinny her parents can wrap their arms all the way around her and she doesn't fit into any of the skinny clothes her parents "optimistically packed." Not to mention that they all magically fit into "normal" sized clothing. Yes I know that fat camps are designed to have drastic weight loss, but it doesn't work for everyone. Wil didn't even seem to put forth a conscious effort and she had amazing results. At the same time, everyone was so casual about weight that this could easily have just been an average run of the mill camp, nothing to do with weight. There is so much emotion and struggle going on with addressing weight loss that wasn't addressed, such as eating disorders and the fact that not everyone is going to lose weight. I think this novel just showed the positive side of it and I think it did an unrealistic job at that.

At the same time, I don't think this book gives a positive outlook for overweight people. I liked Wil at the beginning of the book because she seemed to have the attitude of "I'm happy the way I am, why can't you just accept me." Yet that attitude disappeared and she seemed to have no motivation towards either side of the spectrum and was losing all this weight. Then there's April who just wanted to be accepted and popular, which only happened once she became skinny. So is this novel saying you can't be happy unless you're skinny? Not in so many words, but everyone lost weight which makes me feel like you can't be satisfied if you're not skinny.

I dislike this novel because I think it sends the wrong message. It makes it seem like fat camp is the cure-all for overweight people. Without even trying you'll lose weight and then you'll be popular - which, if that's the case, why aren't fat camps more prevalent? True there's a message about friendship but that seems to get lost as the characters don't change or learn until the last three chapters. The book is an easy read, but take it all with a grain of salt and don't expect the full experience of life in "fat camp" because much of the emotional ride is missing.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Shadow Hunt by Langrish

This is a fantasy with monasteries where an orphan boy might be sent to live, cloisters of nuns where a girl might go for "finishing", the world of elves, dark riders, white lady, and more.

Wolf ran away from the monastery where he felt he did not belong, while running he sees a possibly naked girl dash into a cave. She looked like she needed rescuing. Then the lord of a nearby estate and his hunting party ride by. Wolf breathlessly tells of the girl and Lord Godfrey agrees to go to the rescue. Wolf goes into the cave sees illusions and rescues the girl. Certain she is elf and possibly able to connect Lord Godfrey with his recently dead beloved wife, the lord takes Wolf and the girl back to his estate. The wild girl is housed in the barn with the horses and one beloved pig. Wolf is set to guard and teach her. Lord Godfrey's daughter , Nest, has met Wolf and the girl and is enchanted by them both. This is much more interesting and less scary than sewing for her up coming wedding to a man she doesn't know. Nest names the girl elfgift. Much of the story is the day to day activities of Wolf, Nest and their problems keeping track of elfgift and their failure to teach her to talk by Lord Godfrey's deadline. There is a hob who lives in the hearth at the estate and is a wise prankster. There is a festival. There is a trickster demon. The story climaxes when Lord Godfrey grabs elfgift and takes her off to the cave he hopes will be the entrance to the land of elves, the unleashing of the wild hunt and a tragic death. The story wraps up nicely, though it feels finished, it does leave just enough open so that a sequel might be possible. For those of us who enjoy the world of elves, fairies and the like this is an enjoyable story. I personally hope there is a sequel! jdw 10/10/10

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Wanted : A Pretty Little Liars Novel by Sara Shepard

Pretty Little Liars is finally wrapped up, although, of course, isn't not exactly a pretty little bow. I'm not going to really summarize the book because that will give it all away. All you need to know is a new character is introduced who is, you guessed it, too good to be true. While the creepy text messages have stopped, that doesn't mean their lives have returned to normal. In fact, maybe they were safer when their enemy was openly threatening them.

The book has extreme soap opera flair to the point I was going to throw the book out the window. I could not believe the author pulled one of the cheapest soap opera tricks there is. And what's worse, she didn't just use one cheesy soap opera ploy, but multiple! If she wanted flair and to go out with a bang, you could argue that she did (literally and figuratively). However, it also felt like a cop out. Until I got to the end I was extremely disappointed because I didn't feel like the girls grew or developed from this experience, but the last few chapters showed a little growth and maturity that made me feel a little bit better, even if it did seem too much like a pseudo-happily ever after for each character.

I'm glad the series is over. It started to drag and become unrealistic. Maybe if I read them all at once without waiting months for the next book to appear I would have had an easier time riding the suspense. I know that I definitely was sucked into the series at the beginning so I would recommend the series. Now that it's finished, maybe it'll flow better than long interludes between books.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

God is in the Pancakes By Robin Epstein

Grace is a teen whose life has been turned topsy turvy in High School. Her best friend Eric is no longer a close friend, because of circumstances. Grace's sanity is saved by her after school's job she has at an Old Folk's home called Hanover House. Grace makes friend with Mr. Sand's who is
a patient there. They become close friends, and share ideas whenever Grace is working. Mr. Sand's has a disease called Lou Gehrig that cannot be cured. Mr. Sand's does not want to be confined in a wheelchair. He would like Grace to help him die. Grace does not want to help him to die. Grace does not want to be the one to snuff him out. Grace tells Mr. Sand's she must think about it, and plan how she will do the deed. Finally after seeing Mr. Sand's suffer so much, she executes his death very carefully. Grace is a Candy Stripper, so she has access to any room in Hanover House. Especially Mr. Sand's Room.
Grace squishes his pills for Mr. Sand's, and makes him drink it several times. It makes Mr. Sand's go to sleep, and never wakes up. The nurse finds him dead in the early morning. Grace planned the death well.
Grace told no one until she attended the funeral of Mr. Sand's. Grace told the widow of Mr. Sand's how she executed Sand's death.
Grace was 15 years old, and becomes close to Mr. Sand's. In fact, she is like a Granddaughter to Mr.Sand's. This novel makes you think, and the reader digs into their heart for an answer to the proposed question asked to Grace. I liked the novel very much .This is a question we all must face one day.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Paper Daughter By Jeanette Ingold

The tittle of the novel had to do with Immigration of Chinese in the United States. Documents of births, marriages, and deaths were destroyed in the San Francisco earthquake, and fire. This novel's main character Maggie Chen who was born with ink in her blood. Her Father fired her imagination with the ambition of the newsroom, and she is anxious to start summer internship at the Herald newspaper. But before Maggie begins at the paper, her Father is killed in a hit and run accident. Despite her sadness, she's determined to begin at the newspaper.
Maggie researches for her first story, which reveals illegal activity that could be linked to her Father. Maggie knows she must clear his name . Maggie goes to Seattle China town, and discovers her Father is connected to the Chinese Exclusion Era. Maggie must confront everything about herself, and her Father. Maggie discovers more about her true self, and her Father's hidden life, and a family she never knew.
This novel was fascinating, and enriched me about Chinese immigrants in the United States.
LRD 9/21/10

The Cupcake Queen By Heather Hepler

Hog's Hollow is not a place or town . It is the main place where this novel takes action.
I learned through this novel, most teens hide what's going on inside of them , so as not to expose their emotions, or feelings.
Penny is a new High School student who arrives at Hog's Hollow with her Mother. Penny's life changes a lot being that Penny's Mother owns and runs a bakery that sells only cupcakes. Penny is made to work at the bakery. She is longing for her friends in New York, and her Dad she and her family left behind. There's Chasity a mean girl who is out to get her in High School. Her new friends Tally, and Blake, and Marcus. Marcus runs on the beach every night is a cute male. Just when Penny begins to accept her new life, she has to make a choice that changes everything for her.

Penny has to adapt to a small town, after living in New York City for most of her life. The novel is very interesting, and has a lesson. The lesson being can cupcakes bring romance to the town ? Read this novel to find out the lesson.
LRD 9/21/10

Bruiser - Neal Shusterman

Brewster, or Bruiser, as the kids call him has a reputation, and everyone hears rumors about him. One day Bronte asks him out, and he agrees to go out with her. Tennyson, being the protective big brother, follows Bruiser home one day. What he finds is Bruiser protecting his brother from their uncle. After that incident Tennyson begins to notice other things. When someone cut themselves it would heal almost instantly. When Tennyson was hurting during a lacrosse game, and Bruiser was there, he took away the pain so Tennyson could continue playing. Bronte and Tennyson don't fully realize what is going on with Bruiser until he and his brother come and live with them for a little bit after their uncle dies. Their parents are fighting and are heading toward a divorce, and after Bruiser is living there they act like nothing is wrong. It is then they see how much Bruiser cares about them to take away their pain, which then becomes his pain.

A chilling and thought provoking novel. I love Neal Shusterman's books and Bruiser is his best book yet. It gets you thinking about how would you act if you met someone who could take away all of the pain in your life.

T.B. 9/21/10

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Love StoryStarring my Dead BestFriend By Emily Homer

For months, Cass Meyer has heard Julia talk about a secret project . But when Julia dies in a car accident, her drama wants to bring the project she has into a musical that everyone wants. Cass would like to help because she is not a drama person, and she spends the whole summer involved with the musical. Helping wherever she is needed. Cass becomes the prop girl in the musical written by the dead girl Julia.
The novel is very interesting, and worthwhile. The town where the plot seems to take place happens to be in a quiet town where nothing happens . Until the musical occurs, and everybody seems to think the play is weird, but hilarious.
Cass decides to take a cross-country trip on a bicycle caring Julia's dishes in a Tupperware container.
This is a novel about friendship, and love. The trip across country on bike was one thousand miles for Cass to find herself. The musical that was composed by Julia the girl who died in the accident. The musical turned out to be the craziest that the High School produced.
The novel is very good, and entertaining. Cass is a student, who is a Math whiz at seventeen.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Radiance by Alyson Noel

Radiance is the first book in a new series and a take-off from the immortals series by the same author. This series focus on the deceased sister of the main character Ever in the immortals series. I had only read the first book in that series and at first felt I was missing something in Radiance, but the book quickly took on its own life.

Riley is 12, but unfortunately is also dead. She lives in a place called Here & Now where people continue with life - work, school, sleep, etc - but have the ability to manifest whatever they want. It seems like a decent deal, except she still misses Earth and then learns that each person has a role. She is given the role of "Soul Catcher," which means she goes to Earth and helps souls cross the bridge they failed to cross when they died. Joined by her dog Buttercup and her dorky guide Bodhi, her first task is to convince the impossible "Radiant Boy" to cross, although many others for the past 100+ years have failed to do so. Bodhi has his own task in convincing the "Wailing Woman" to let go of her grief to move on. Will the two succeed and find their place in this new world?

The book had a good voice. You could definitely hear a 12 year old telling this story. It was also a quick read but I wasn't overly impressed with the story. Don't get me wrong. It was a good book and has no fatal flaws, but I'm just not eagerly waiting for the next book to come out. Maybe because I don't see it going anywhere besides what's already been done in this novel. Go to earth, convince the ghost to move on, go home and repeat. Hopefully a curve ball is thrown into the next book because, so far, I'm not impressed. If, though, you liked the immortals, give this a shot to see what happened to Ever's sister. Maybe it will mean more to you than it did to me, someone unfamiliar with the other series.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tuck para siempre

Es un clasico total! Al igual uno de mis libros favoritos personalmente.

La escena del libro toma lugar, en la primera semana de Agosto. Donde el clima es caliente, diria MUY caliente, como sin hacer ningun movimiento moderado y comienza a sudar descontroladamente.
En el pueblo llamado Treegap, donde hay una poplacion moderada. A las a fueras del pueblo Treegap, esta la casa de los Foster. Es una propiedad grande, que asta incluye un bosque.
Es donde conosemos a Winnifred Foster, la unica hija de Sr. y Sra. Foster. Que tan solo tiene diez años, ella ademas de vivir con sus padres, tambien vive con su abuela. Sus padres y la abuela son muy desiplinados.
Tiene actividades que asistir como por ejemplo clases de piano y sus tareas pero se siente sola. Ya que no tiene nadie con quien jugar, nadie con quien compartir travesuras infantiles. Winnie (su sobrenombre) busca diversion, conoser gente, ya que la mayoria del tiempo se la pasa aislada dentro de la cerca de el jardin de su casa.

Al atardecer de un dia en la primera semana de Agosto, mientras ella estaba en el jardin como siempre, sola pensando y platicando con un sapo. Alguien le llama, levantandose se da cuenta que es un forastero vestido de amarillo, alto y delgado. En su charla el le pregunta a Winnie si ella vive en esta casa? Y hace cuanto tiempo ella vive en esta casa?Winnie contestando muy casual contesta que si, incluyendo que simpre a vivido ahi. Diciendo que el bosque es parte de su terreno. Al final el señor vestido de amarillo añade que el esta buscando a una familia.

Alos cuantos minutos la abuela de Winnie aparece, preguntando que conquien habla? Winnie solo contesta que el esta buscando a alguien.

El señor estaba recontando la charla que tuvo con Winnie cuando, la abuela lo interrumpio diciendo que ell no conosia a nadie, y ni ganas tenia de conocer. En ese mismo instante dejo de hablar, y exclamo "Virgen Santa, han vuelto otra vez, despues de tantos años! -- has oido Winifred? La musica de los duendes de la que te he hablado, Dios mio, han pasado tantisimos años desde la ultima vez que la oi!"Eso cautivo al señor, estaba tenso le levanto la curiosidad a un nivel alto muy alto.
Me gusta el estilo de la autora, ya que me gusta como descirbe las cosas. Para mi gusto con mucha delicadesa. Este libro fue publicado en la decada de los 70's, sigue siendo popular.

Se que e escrito partes del libro, pero lo hice para dar solo una probadita como es el estilo que la autora Natalie Babbit.
No olviden es un classico de literatura juvenil!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Finikin of the Rock by Marchetta

I would give this book to fans of Tolkein's Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. It is dark, violent, yet hopeful. There is some pretty good world building and a number of characters I grew quite fond of. There was a violent, not well understood takeover of the country of Lumatere consisting of several areas I will call states. There were massacres, burnings at the stake and many many refugees running and running getting out of this land just before the gates were sealed, trapping unfortunates inside and out of communications with relatives and leaders on the outside. Finnikin, whose father was once captain of the king's guard and the kings first man have been travelling the worlds outside of Lumatere recording the dead and living, the refugee camps and hoping to plan a way to get back into Lumatere and take it back from the impostor rulers.
Along the way they take on a silent, highly competent, angry novice from a cloister who calls herself Evanjalin when she decides to talk and a violent preteen orphan who has stolen from them among other things. Evanjalin seems to excel in lies and manages to get Finnikin incarcerated in the mine prisons where he discovers his father. They carefully plan a successful escape and join others left from the former guard. About five years has passed while Finnikin and Sir Tropher did their survey of refugees. Another five years seems to have past as Finnikin, the guard and other able bodied Lumatere refugees plan their attack on the closed gate. Finnikin and Evanjalin have grown to care for each other and Finnikin to discover her true identity. Evanjalin, is a dreamwalker who shares dreams with those inside and relives every death of a Lumatere over and over. She has managed to communicate the coming attack to the survivors. The captors sense something is up and burn the capitol city just as Finikin and his guard break through the gate. There is help of the Lumatere gods along the way. As the country recaptured rebuilds itself there are concerns for the future. Might they have been taken over by another country as a passage to a attack a distant powerful country? Should Lumatere plan their own attack, against who? This seems to be an opening for a second volume. JDW 9/10/10

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Futureproof - N. Frank Daniels

Luke goes to Peckerbrook High, which is a fine arts school, in Atlanta, Georgia. He lives with his mother, brother, his mom's boyfriend and three of his kids. As the school year progresses Luke gets fed up with living with everyone, and decides to leave and go out on his own. He makes friends with people who can get him drugs like heroin, coke, and crack. That then becomes his life. All he cares about is having sex, finding a job to get money, and getting his next fix. When his girlfriend, Andie, gets pregnant the first time they get an abortion. Later on she gets pregnant again, but is still shooting it up with Luke. When Luke finds out they go to a treatment center, and get Andie on medication. When she doesn't take the medicine for a few days, she starts having abdominal pains, and is taken to the hospital. The baby is born premature, and is in state custody until the courts determine that Luke and Andie are fit to be parents.

I enjoyed reading this book. It gave insight into how a drug addict acts, and thinks when all they care about is getting their next fix, and not caring about much else. It also gave a look into what people will do and sell just to get money. According to the back of the book, there will be a second book in the series, but there's no mention of when it will be released.

T.B. 9/9/10

Saturday, September 04, 2010

North of Beautiful by Headley

I read this book because it is popular with teens. This is a multi layered story with several well developed characters. It includes a flawed but loving mother who is utterly wonderful to find in a book and is ever so realistic. Terra has a port wine birthmark across a large portion of her face. She has been stared at a lot over the years and her family has taught her to hide behind her hair and behind thick layers of makeup, they also uncomfortable with this fault. Father is verbally abusive, mother eats too much and cannot at first stand up to his abuse which wasn't always true. Terra's brother is working in China and invites the family to visit even providing them with tickets. Terra's mother and Terra are both artistic. Their activities have lead them to meet a young man Terra's age and his mother. They too had been planning a trip to China. Even though Terra's father refuses to go, Jacob and his mom encourage the pair and all four head to China. This is a learning trip for Terra in many ways. She comes to understand what she values in a relationship, she begins to appreciate herself and define herself by her strengths rather than by the port wine birthmark and to understand why her family acts as they do, all hiding behind something by their dysfunctional actions, working too much, eating too much, criticising too much, wearing too much makeup. The adventures in China were wondrously descriptive as well. This book is worth the trip.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn

Sleeping Beauty is my favorite fairy tale, so I was excited to see it remastered by the author of Beastly. This story has it's moments but I'm not overly excited about it now that I've read it.

Talia is a princess from a country known as Euphrasia. On the day of her christening she was cursed with death when she pricks her finger on a spindle. Another fairy, unable to undo the curse, merely makes it that she'll sleep until true love's kiss. Try as they might to avoid spindles, she still pricks her finger and falls asleep. Enter many years later a teenager named Jack who gets bored with his European tour and tries to the find the beach. Instead, he finds the sleeping village of Euphrasia, as well as a beautiful woman who he has the urge to kiss. Talia then awakes and is blamed for ruining their kingdom since they've been sleeping for 300 years. She runs away with Jack to America since her father doesn't want her anymore and she's certain he's her true love since his kiss awoke her. As she grows accustom to American ways and not being a spoiled princess, the evil witch who cursed her continues to haunt Talia, feeling tricked because she doesn't think Jack is Talia's true love, so she shouldn't have been woken up. Just as Jack realizes he truly does love Talia, the evil witch magically brings Talia back to Euphrasia first for revenge, and then to see if Jack truly is Talia's true love and can rescue her yet again.

One reason I was disappointed in this book is because to me the whole "awake in another time period and must adapt" has been done so frequently that it's old hat. True, there's not much you can do with the Sleeping Beauty storyline to make it interesting, but it just wasn't enough for me. One thing I found interesting was how Jack wasn't your typical hot guy, frat party, jock. He was interested in gardening and becoming a landscaper. You don't really see guys portrayed that way in books and I thought that was a nice touch - you don't have to be a tough macho, stereotypical guy to be a hero. One stupid note: This is based on Sleeping Beauty and Disney is mentioned but when Jack sees sleeping Talia, his first reference is Snow White. Seriously? You see a sleeping princess and your first thought is Snow White? Come on! Or did the author just not want to make it obvious? I think it would have been funny for his first thought to be Sleeping Beauty because the true love's kiss is more obvious in that storyline. But, like I said, just a stupid note that made me chuckle.

This book was decent. It's been a while since I read Beastly, so I can't really tell how they compare if you're into the remastering of fairy tales and like Alex Flinn. As a story itself, I think a lot of this book has already been done before and that is always a disappointment for me. Just the same, I hope the author continues to modernize classic fairy tales because they're still fun to read.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Come, Reza, Ama por Elizabeth Gilbert

Te as sentido que estas en una situacion donde no encuentras salida? Donde no hay solucion?
En el libro no-ficcion escrito por Elizabeth Gilbert. Nos relata su historia donde es infeliz en su matrimonio. Cada mes que pasa da gracias por no estar embarazada, ya que no quiere y no se siente lista para tomar el paso de ser madre. Nos cuenta con gran detalle como ella y su marido, deciden divorsiarse. Despues de una larga espera, esperando que el proceso de el divorcio llegase a un acuerdo. Elizabeth decide embarcar en una vacacion por todo un año, en tres diferentes paises; Italia, India y Indonesia. Segun ella para darse tiempo asi misma, y al igual conoserse mas a fondo.
En Italia, le da gusto a su paladar! Descubrindo comidas Italianas. En la India, ella misma tratandose de ayudar a encontrar la paz interior mediante la meditacion. Por ultimo el deseado equilibrio entre el espiritu y el cuerpo.
Al final vuelve al encontrar el amor!
En lo personal, me encanta este libro! Ya que lo relata con gran detalle, es mejor dicho, descubrimos que Elizabeth se tomo su tiempo para contarnos su experiencia. En lo personal cuan do estaba sentada leyendo su libro, yo sentia que estaba ahi en Roma a su lado, como en algunos dias se sentia triste, y en algunos alegre. Al igual me encanto como organizo su libro. Al principio de su libro, Elizabeth explica que decidio escribir su libro como un japa malas. Al igual explica que es un japa mala. No se los explicare que es lo que es un japa mala, pero si les recomiendo, levantar este libro y empezarlo a leer. Como les dije previamente, creo en lo personal que es un libro yeno de experiencias y creecimiento en si mismo.

Monday, August 23, 2010

After School Charisma

This is one of the latest stories of Kumiko Suekane. Not only is it a great story line but it contains Kumiko's great art, with much detail and even more character developing.

Kamiya Shiro it's regular student but different from his classmates, reason? He isn't a clone. Yes Shiro assist to a clone school and takes classes with clones of many well known people through out history. How would you like to have physics with Napoleon? Or your artistic classes along side Mozart? Even having lunch with Hitler! For many a honour, but much to his liking, Kamiya finds himself hated by some for the simple fact that he has freedom unlike the rest of the students. All clones are meant to surpass their originals. But many want to take a different path from their originals. Everything was going as plan until clone Kennedy, had the exact same death as his original. The news got the school owners worried, and increasing the security of the grounds, protecting the 'future' outstanding clones that will soon complete yet another chapter in History. Now all clones worried that they might experience the exact same death as their originals. But Shiro and the rest of his classmates are willing to find out what's going and why the school had covered up the incident with clone Kennedy. But all might go downhill as they found clone Mozart dead in his room.

So far three volumes had been publish in english with the fourth on its way. But this is a very interesting story worth of reading.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Dying Breath by Alane Ferguson

This is the fourth book of a series that I have always been skeptical about. While it has been a few years since the last book and this one continues with the previous cliffhanger, I was pleasantly surprised with how the book connected everything and how it turned out.

Kyle O'Neil from the previous book, The Circle of Blood, wants Cameryn. However, he's a psychotic killer, so Cameryn doesn't really want him. As she deals with the stress of a stalker (thankfully the FBI is helping and she's in tight with the local police department) Cameryn is also helping explain the deaths of Leather Ed and a celebrity who all died in their town with an odd substance in their lungs. Why a seventeen year old is able to solve these crimes and not the professionals I still don't understand, but she figures it all out and just has to survive O'Neil's deadly plans for her. It's not all bad, though, since Justin - the local deputy - admits his feelings for Cameryn and their relationship blossoms - much to O'Neil's displeasure.

I have always been on the fence about these books but this one wasn't too terrible. I liked how the author threw in a romance (that's right, I'm a girl and I've always enjoyed a little romance with my murder mysteries). True, it was a little unsettling that he's 22 and she's barely 18, but what are you going to do when the spark happens? This book had a steady pace and it all worked - even the science lessons. The climax/resolution was a little lacking, however, because I really didn't think a psychotic killer would act like he did when he already knew she'd tricked him once before and then to finish it like he didn't wasn't much of the blaze he wanted. Then again, I'm very critical and maybe I just want to have a reason not to like this book.

Compared to the other books in this series which I didn't really buy into, I could swallow this one a little more. It was decent and makes me wonder if there will be any more.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Espressologist by Kristina Springer

After reading multiple adult fiction books in a row, it took me by surprise to return to young adult fiction just because of how simplistic some of the writing is. This novel is an interesting idea but it's just so basic in terms of storyline with minimal conflict. Just the same, it's a nice quick read and sometimes you need a break from the heavy books.

Jane Turner works at a coffeehouse and believes she can define people based on the drink they order. She takes this belief one step further and tries to hook up people based on compatible drinks. After a few great connections, her boss gets wind of it and turns Jane into a promo for the holidays were you can get a drink and a love connection. In the meantime, Jane has connected her best friend Em with a friend from college - Cam - and has a tiny tinge of jealousy that they're hitting it off so well. At the same time, she can't exactly figure out what's going on with Will, the really hot guy who always comes in and flirts with her. Then she gets featured on a hit TV show and her little hobby might be more than she can handle.

This book was cute. It is an interesting idea that our drink choices might define us, but it's all too easy - especially when all of her connections work out so wonderfully. Can she really be that dead on based on people's coffee choices? Come on! Then there's only about ten pages of actual conflict at the end of the novel because Cam seems to have more feelings for Jane than he does for his girlfriend and there goes Jane and Em's bff status. It's too typical and everything ends up happily ever after - even the mean girl starts to sing a different tune. Maybe my expectations are too high and I'm looking for more than just a quick summer read, but this book could have stepped it up a little. Just because it's a fun romance doesn't mean it can't have depth or a lot of conflict. True there was the "what's up with Will" conflict and the "this is too much for me to handle" but it was all so simple and easy. Clearly I'm expecting too much but why not? Teenagers can handle it and if you pass it off as so easy, you risk misleading them.

Was the book good? Yeah, it was a nice quick read. Could it have been better? Yeah, I think so. Should I read it? If you like fun chick lit you'll enjoy this book.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Bradley

This is on a list of recommended adult books for teens. Its set in England in fairly recent times. It's protagonist is an extremely intelligent 11 year old. She makes tons of references to Shakespeare as well as to lots of obscure (at least to me) literature. Its hard for me to believe that teens could care about, know about, relate to all that stuff. It certainly did not send me off to read any of it. In addition to being extremely well read, she is a genius chemist with a huge well stocked lab and library. Its impossible for me to believe an eleven year old could be that well read AND that good a chemist. The story revolves around an apparent suicide many years earlier witnessed by her father and around extremely rare, valuable missing stamps. One of which went missing at the time of the suicide, another rather later. Flavia becomes involved when one of the gentlemen involved in the earlier incident visits her father then shows up dead in the garden. Its an interesting, twisty story and for a brief time a nail biter as Flavia is captured by the killer. It just seemed too improbable to me. Sorry to all those out there that made this book and others by this author a bestseller. JDW 8/12/10

Monday, August 09, 2010

NUM8ERS by Rachel Ward

I wrote about THE MARK earlier. Its another teen novel in which a teen can tell when someone is going to die. In that book an aura appears around people 24 hours before their deaths. This book explores whether or not to tell someone they are about to die, what one would do if they knew, if death could be prevented then what might happen. In num8ers Jem sees the date of death for each individual when she looks for the numbers. She has seen such numbers all her life and only recently understood them to be the date of death. She has been in foster care a long time as her parents are dead. Her current home is pretty stable but she is accustomed to skipping school and otherwise being a misfit. Another misfit who has recently started selling drugs for another student and using a little.Spider, becomes friends with Jem. He also frequently skips school and they often spent those days together. Its on one such day that Jem sees a cluster of deaths about to happen that same day, all of the people are near the London Eye Ferris wheel. In panic she runs taking Spider with her. The kids are seen running just as there is an explosion resulting in numerous deaths. They become persons of interest. Believing that no one will believe them innocent of causing the explosion they go on the lam, trying to escape the man-hunt, the law. While fleeing they have a number of harrowing experiences and recognize their true love for each other. Spider is captured, Jem goes into asylum in a church. They are reunited temporarily but tragedy strikes, partly because the reunion occurs on the date Jem sees as Spider's death and she is desperate to stop it. What follows is Jem coming to terms with things and a fairly common resolution - a new life replaces that of Spider's. This is mostly adventure story. I preferred Marked but Numbers is the more popular. JDW 8/9/10

Katy's New World By: Kim Vogel Sawyer

This is a novel about a Mennonite family, and how a teen girl Katy finally adjusts, to being allowed to attend a Public High School. Katy had to get permission from her Dad. Katy's Mother walked out on her Dad and Katy with no explanation. Both the daughter, and the Father never heard from the Mother. Mennonites are a religious group with high morals and peacemakers. Kate wore old fashion clothing with a cap on her head, that made her stand out from other teens.
Whenever katy was invited to a school party, or some one's house for a sleepover she had to ask her father's permission to attend. Katy had to be very persuasive, and usually the Father had to meet the family. Katy's Dad wore a flat brimmed hat that all Mennonites wore. Women had to keep their heads covered. It was part of the tradition, and culture of all the Mennonites.
Katy had to make all the meals for her Dad and herself. Katy also had to help with farm chores.
For example, milking the cows, and anything else that had to be done. Katy's father,drove her to a certain point where Katy caught her school bus full of teens . The teens on the bus made fun of Katy , and would not sure the school bus seats. Katy had to sit on the school bus way in the back of the bus.
This novel was very informative to me, and also interesting. I did not know so much about Mennonites people as a group. Read the novel to find out more.


The Devil's Paintbox By: Victoria McKernan

This is a Historical novel that takes place on the Oregon Trail in about the 1860's . This novel captures the beauty of the Western Frontier.
At the beginning of the novel we see two orphans in Kansas called Aiden, and Maddy, who are barely surviving on their farm. They eat mud pies, and not to much potable water. They are brother and sister, so they try to encourage themselves. Aiden and Maddy hardly see people.
One day a man comes riding on a horse, and offers Aiden, and Maddy to join his wagon trail to the Oregon Trail. The trek of 2000 miles, is dangerous, and many physical hardships to encounter. The wagons must cross a ragging river that sweeps away wagons, and people .
In fact, Maddy, who made friends with the wagon Doctor called Dr. Carlos, was swept away, and the body never was recovered.
Aiden made friends with the native American Indian tribe who taught him how to fight and survive. This is a trilling novel based on one of the greatest survival stories of all times. Remember the teens are only sixteen when they start the journey on the wagon.
Aideen the teen male in the novel has his good friend who is called Tupic. This is an American native Indian. After the wagons are destroyed on the River, Aideen becomes a lumber jack for another job. Aideen learns plenty, and makes some money.
There are many events, but read the novel, and you will find out. Aideen matures, and we find he has killed two me3n in self defense.
Read the novel for lots of action.