Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari

Probably, I am just weary of dystopic and apocalyptic novels for teens, so I was not especially thrilled with this one. Bird flu has evolved into an especially virulent form and is still evolving, still raging at books end. Most of the people in the world have perished in this epidemic. Young children, teens, a few elderly people and rare badly scared survivors are all that remain alive. There have been catastrophic earthquakes, floods, tsunami's as well. And, there are the sweepers who gather up the sick, dying, dead and tend to them. But, recently they have been carting off apparently still healthy individuals using mean dogs to hunt them down. Lucy has been surviving on her own since her family died. Aidan discovers her and asks her to join his small community of survivors, which she does when yet another tsunami wipes out the area in which she lived. Sweepers come and kidnap some in the community. A couple escape this time, something that suspiciously has never happened before. One of the escapees persuades Lucy, Aidan and some of the others to go on a rescue mission to bring back others who were stolen. Its a trap to get Lucy who has some sort of special immunity to the flu and who doctors want to study. The place they are held in resembles more of a prison than a research hospital, they are drugged and locked in. With the help of the one who set them up, now repentant, and an apparently friendly former school nurse Lucy, Aidan and the others escape. The doctor in charge is perhaps mad or crazy. An so the life of barely surviving goes on. I assume there will be more books in the future. I suspect Lucy will by rather like an Eve figure. She undoubtedly has whatever it takes to survive even the evolving flu and start a family which could help repopulate the world.
jdw 12/30/11

Resurreccion By: Lea Tobery

This was a novel in Spanish that actually was very explicit in regards to true love.
The main personality of the novel is Emma , who is seventeen year old, is in a coma and close death as the story begins. Emma has not seen lighted tunnels like other people,who are on their death bed. Emma met Ethan, with whom right away she felt a connection . When Emma regains conscience Ethan has vanished. Was Ethan an angel, illusion, or a dream ? Was it a messenger, who brings a message, that can change our lives for good ? Emma and her friends search for the real Ethan in cemetaries and in records. I personally recommend this novel in Spanish for any reader.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Caught by Harlan Coben

Last year teens discovered author Harlan Coben when his adult novel Hold Tight was up for an Abe Lincoln Award. This novel, while also aimed more for adults has important themes that teens need to pay attention to.

Wendy is a reporter who has just exposed social worker Dan Mercer of being a sex offender. At the same time, a seventeen year old girl has gone missing and the police are desperately searching for clues as to whether or not this "good girl" has run away or been kidnapped. Months after both events happen, there's no clue about the girl and Dan's reputation has been completely ruined, even though his case has been dismissed. When Dan contacts Wendy to clear his name, she witnesses his murder and is thrown into a complicated plot in which nothing is what it seems. Someone is out to destroy the reputation of Dan and his college roommates and somehow it appears as if the young girl's disappearance is another piece of the puzzle.

This book was slow at times but when I got to the end, my mind was blown. Literally, nothing was what it seemed and what was so cool was that conversations that seemed inconsequential became hugely important at the end. This book is also filled with important messages. One is forgiveness and letting go of past wrongs. Being unable to forgive destroyed one person while it saved others. Another important theme - although the book doesn't come flat out singing this as a theme - is the dangers of pretending to be someone else on the Internet. Wendy does this as research - to lure people for her news stories and to find information - but there are other characters who do it for impure reasons. It's a slippery slope between innocence and evil. A third theme deals directly with teens and it addresses drinking parties hosted by adults. There's a belief that if teens are going to drink, then it would be better to do so at home with a parent's supervision. Is that truly the right course of action or message that should be sent to teens?

I really enjoyed this book - the ending makes up for any slow parts in the novel. While it is more of an adult novel, the messages are definitely ones that teens can relate to and learn from.

Kill You Last By:Todd Strasser

Three girls have gone missing. All have connections to the same photography studio/modelling agency. This novel has all readers guessing right to the end, who murdered the girls. This novel has many possibilities of a plot that are very interesting. Shelby's Dad started a model agency in Soundview but business was not flourishing. Shelby, a teen in High School is shocked that her Dad is a principal suspect with the police regarding the missing models. But, she is also aware that he has looked at some of her girl friends in weird ways, made creepy statements and asked inappropriate questions about them. Then the police questioned Gabriel, who is the assistant of Shelby's Dad at Soundview. Gabriel had even dated some of the models, but did no harm to them. In a scam run by Shelby's Dad and his office manager, Janet girls were picked out at shopping malls and offered a chance to become models then charged more money than they should have for their photo shoots, and did not use the girls. In fact, the Dad would date girls who wanted to be models. Shelby's Mother had mental problems, and caught her husband alone with a model. This put her in a rage, and she also hit with a baseball bat for no reason. Shelby's Mom is a suspect too. Then there are the mysterious threatening e-mail messages and is Whit really all that he says he is, the way he keeps popping up unexpectedly.
The novel was fascinating, and I enjoyed the novel.
LRD /12/28/11

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Silence of Murder by Dandi Daley Mackall

This is a story about the murder of John Johnson, the beloved baseball Coach of the High School . Jeremy Long is accused of the crime, and he is put in jail. Deep down Jeremy loves the Coach, and later finds out the coach is his biological father he never knew. The Coach got Jeremy a job cleaning stables, and grooming horses. Later we find the coach dead in the horse stables. Immediately the Sheriff and the town's people accuse Jeremy for the murder. The reason for this accusation was Jeremy's blood was found on the baseball bat, and on the uniform Jeremy used. The Court session begins, and the coach's wife Caroline Johnson gives her testimony about her husband's murder. People on the jury think she might have murdered her husband for the insurance money she will collect. Another suspect, is Chase, who got in a rage because he didn't get the position on the baseball team he wanted. One person we have not mentioned is Hope, Jeremy's sister who always had faith in Jeremy. I recommend this novel, it has a lot to offer to the reader.

12/28/11 LRD

My view of the book:

Three years ago Hope, Jeremy, and Rita moved back to Grain, Ohio. Jeremy has not spoken a word in 9 years. He collects empty jars, which seems strange to everyone but Jeremy. After they move back the Coach gave Jeremy a job cleaning the stables near the Coach's home. They bonded, and the Coach let Jeremy help out with carrying equipment on baseball game days. He even bought Jeremy a wooden bat and a uniform to make him feel like part of the team. On the morning of June 11th, Jeremy is seen running from the barn with a bloody wooden bat and blood on his uniform. Mrs. Johnson finds her husband's body, and Jeremy is arrested for murdering Coach Johnson. The trial has gone on for most of the summer and only after Hope, Jeremy's sister, has testified is she allowed to be in the courtroom for the rest of the trail. Jeremy's lawyer is trying to make the jury believe that he is insane, and goes to jail instead of receiving the death penalty. Hope is the only one who truly believes her brother is innocent. With the help of her friend T.J. and Chase, the son of the Sheriff, they begin to discover what really happened the morning of June 11th. Hope and T.J. search the Coach's office and discover checks made out to Rita. They also find out that the Coach and Rita dated back in high school. As things look grim for Jeremy some surprising evidence comes to light, which could prove what Hope has said all along that Jeremy did not murder the Coach.

I enjoyed the book. The title was what first caught my attention. As you read the book you get wrapped up in the trial and you the reader try to figure out who murdered the Coach. It was like watching a court show on TV only with words instead of actors and sets. There are a few red herrings, and that makes things a little more interesting. I didn't figure out who the murderer was until the book revealed who it was. Even then I was a bit surprised. I do like it when a book surprises me like this one did.

T.B. 1/5/12

My Name Is Not Easy By: Debby Dahl Edwardson

Luke knows Inupiaq names are full of sounds white people can't say. He knows he will have to leave his behind, when he and his brothers are sent to boarding school hundreds of miles from their Arctic Village. Luke, and his brothers know they will be sent to a Roman Catholic boarding School called Sacred Heart School , where they are treated as students, not family. The students are of diverse nationalities such as Eskimo, Athabascan, Yupik and white. The students line up in different areas of the school cafeteria staying with kids like themselves. Every nationality must speak English. The native tongues must not be heard. If Father Mullen hears students talking in their native tongues he will slap their knuckles hard with a ruler to discipline them. Luke struggles at Sacred Heart School. The story is told by alternate narrators including Amiq, a cocky leader of the Eskimo students, Chickie, mixed race, Donna, Sonny and a few others. The
teens at the boarding School had many adjustments being this was their first time away from their families for many of them. The novel I recommend it's interesting.

My say:

This is one of the most enjoyable historical fiction novels I've read. It takes place in an Alaskan Catholic mission boarding school in the 1960's. The students have travelled hundreds of miles from home. There are no local schools for native Alaskans who are living far from urban centers in sparsely populated areas. There is an attitude on the part of the Father's and Sister's that the kids need to be tamed. I was in catholic school learning about Indians as they were still called then, about how their ways were savage and had to be replaced by our ways. That attitude is present in this novel as well. There is a disrespect for the native languages, customs, and foods. The languages are not easy for these people and they do not want it used in front of them.
Most of the kids have already had lives unique from and harder than the missionaries who are keeping them and teaching them. I really grew to like these feisty, durable kids. They are often wise to their keepers' prejudices and misconceptions and have a good time with them. The scene in which two boys from a "tribe" known to be hunters are asked to butcher a roadkill moose is hilarious. They had watched their uncle do caribou. They had never done it themselves. They had never even seen a moose. Though the teachers can be stern they are also obviously good people. The events such as sending one young boy away to be adopted without parental consent, the testing of the kids with radioactive iodine by the army, project chariot which was meant to show peace time use of atomic bombs are real. They are things that started native activism to save their hunting, fishing grounds, get local schools and much more. jdw 12/29/11

Monday, December 19, 2011

Mr. Monster by Dan Wells

**May contain Spoilers to I Am Not a Serial Killer**

Mr. Monster is the sequel to I Am Not a Serial Killer. Although I had not read the previous novel, I had no trouble getting into this story and putting together all of the pieces. It's an intriguing story into the world of a boy trying desperately to deal with demons, both his own self and in the real world.

John has been labeled a sociopath and is basically one step away from being a serial killer. He's already killed one person, but that was to save a town - so does that make it okay? Every day he has to deal with "Mr. Monster," which is what he calls the half of himself that longs to kill. He has a long series of rules that he tries to follow in order to avoid Mr. Monster from taking control, but sometimes it's a struggle to follow all of the rules. In the meantime, he has to try his hardest not to give Brooke - the girl he likes and secretly desires harming - too much attention, which becomes difficult when she starts giving him more attention. On top of Mr. Monster and the complicated Brooke situation, his sister is in an abusive relationship (and John would really like to give the boyfriend a piece of his mind) and now there are dead bodies showing up in town. As John probes FBI agent Forman for information, he begins to wonder if they have a serial killer in the form of a human or a demon - a problem that only John can solve.

This novel does not shy away from pushing the limits on abuse - including animal abuse which made me a little squeamish - and the intricacies of embalming bodies. Aside from that, this is a really interesting novel. It does a great job showing John's struggle to do what's right and to still accept who he is supposed to be. Is he destined to be Mr. Monster, or is he supposed to be John, an average teenager? The novel is very successful in showing that tug-of-war. It did a good job filling in the blanks for people who haven't read that first novel and, at the same time, creating enough interest that you want to go and read the first novel - even though you know how it ends. While I am not a fan of supernatural, the demon aspect of this novel does not turn me off of these novels. It adds a new level of fascination because each demon has his own characteristics.

Everything seemed to work in this novel. There is amazing personal struggle so you really end up caring for the main character - even if he is a budding sociopath. It is an overall intriguing story and worth the read, although be forewarned that it doesn't hold back in terms of concepts that might make you uncomfortable.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

iBoy - Kevin Brooks

Tom Harvey lost his mom at a young age and has been raised by his grandma in the slums of London. He is walking home from school one day and an IPhone is thrown out from the top floor of his building. It breaks open his skull, and he's in the hospital for 17 days. Most of the IPhone fragments have been removed, but a few remain and merge with his brain. After he wakes up he finds out that his best friend, Lucy, was raped and her brother was beat up. In the coming days he uses his iBoy powers to access information about everything going on in Crow Town. Tom also discovers that he can make his skin light up and become impervious to harm, when he is connected to a phone signal or WiFi connection. After he goes to see Lucy he hacks into the police database to see who is suspected in Lucy's rape. Tom then takes it upon himself, with his new iBoy powers to see that they are punished for what they did to Lucy. This draws the attention of Howard Ellman, the head honcho of a gang in Crow Town. He kidnaps Tom and Lucy in the middle of the night, and wants to make them pay for what has happened to the rest of his crew. Can Tom use his iBoy powers and save him and Lucy, or is Ellman going to get his revenge?

I enjoyed this book. It was fast moving and entertaining. Most people would probably want the powers Tom gained from the IPhone fragments. The question then becomes would you use them for good, or be swayed to the dark side to use them for selfish reasons.

T.B. 12/14/11

Friday, December 09, 2011

My Favorite Band Does Not Exist - Robert Jeschonek

Idea Deity is on the run from his controlling parents. They make him study so much that he creates a fake band called Youforia for his own amusement. Reacher is the leader of the supposed made up band Youforia. Reacher is trying to discover who is posting the personal information of the band online, while Idea is trying to figure out who is posing as his made up band Youforia. The connection between the two is Eurydice/Eunice. Eurydice is Reacher's girlfriend and fellow band mate. Idea encounters Eunice on his way to Maysfield for Youforia's debut concert. As they travel to Maysfield, Idea and Reacher are reading a book called Fireskull's Revenant, which is about Johnny Without and Lord Fireskull, two mortal enemies. They receive a prophecy that unless they join forces they will perish. This plays into the main plot and is foreshadowing what will come with Idea and Reacher. Eurydice/Eunice takes Idea and Reacher to the same diner where she convinces them that they are both real just in two separate realities. They agree to work together, and are taken into the characters of Johnny Without and Lord Fireskull to unite and defeat The Secret King.

I enjoyed the book. It was a bit slow to get going, but after 100 pages or so it picked up. I liked how the book within the book started to parallel the main story. It foreshadowed what was to come, but didn't give the story away. I was not expecting what happened at the end. It was a nice twist to pull together the different plot lines in the book.

T.B. 12/9/11

Monday, December 05, 2011


This is the first of a trilogy and those who get caught up in it will want to read the next two. Mr. Monster and I don't Want to Kill You.

John Wayne is named for the movie star not the infamous killer clown Gacy. He lives with his mom above a mortuary. He helps his mom and aunt prepare bodies for burial and describes too much of the process for my taste. He senses that he may be a killer in training since he is extremely fascinated by serial killers and by the mortuary work. His psychiatrist has diagnosed him as having a sociopathic personality. Most of the kids at school view him and his obsessions as too creepy and leave him alone. A mutilated body is found in an alley and John Wayne is determined to solve the crime even as more mutilated bodies pile up, each missing a single different body part and each graphically described. Everyone is terrified, including reporters and the police since one reporter and some law enforcement officers are among the dead. When John Wayne does eventually solve the crime he keeps the resolution secret from his town and family. He has unleashed the killer in himself and no one would believe the truth anyway. By the way, he is right, he is not a serial killer. He is something much much worse. How bad and where the story is going You and I will have to find out in later books - wew!
jdw 12/11

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Eleventh Plague By Jeff Hirsch

This novel is considered fiction, but to me the novel is very real, and true to what could occur one day. The novel considers the Eleventh plague a sickness like a deathly strain of influenza. The novel depicts a world that has nose-dived into a futuristic nightmare. Stephen Quinn one of the main personalities of the novel, struggles to define his rules of survival. Fifteen year old Stephen only knows the life of a salvage. Salvagers are people searching for materials they could trade to others for money to survive. Stephen's family was one of the few that survived these times.
Tragedy fell on Stephen, when his grandfather died, and his father became comatose after an accident. Stephen returns to Settler's Landing, which is a community that is good, and he has been to before. This visit he meets a girl Jenny who plays a main personality in the novel. Jenny is strong, mischievous, and becomes a good friend of Stephen's. Stephen, and Jenny went to see if his house existed after so much turmoil . Stephen thought his house felt like a museum . By that I mean silent, and eerie. No people, and Stephen wanted to hear his grandpa's voice, or his dad's.
I liked the novel very much.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Guantanamo Boy By: Anna Perora

The author was born in London to an Irish Mother, and a Sri Lankan Father. The novel Guantanamo Boy is the first novel written for Young Adult's by this author.
The main personality in this novel was called Khalid, Muslim fifteen year old boy from Rochdale, England who was kidnapped during a family trip to Pakistan, and imprisoned in Guatanamo Bay, Cuba. He was locked up in Cuba two years. He suffered interrogations, water boarding, where you feel like your drowning. Khalid was kept in isolation which can drive some people crazy. Khalid was allowed one shower a week . This is not a lot in a tropical climate where one perspires a lot from the heat. Another thing , which we don't think about there is no T.V., or books to read. Khalid only had a copy of the Koran to look at. The guards at the jail in Cuba claimed he had something to do with 9/11 in New York City. The guards thought he was connected to the Taliban. All this was false. The food in the Guantamo jail was inedible for any human .
One day, a lawyer appeared at Khalid's door and helped him move forward. The lawyer's name is Harry Peterson. The lawyer helped Khalid leave his horrible jail, and return to England. What a miracle after not seeing his family for so long.
I recommend the novel to anyone.

LRD 11/14/11

No Moon By Ivonne N. Watts

This is a trying and historical account of what happened when the Titanic Ship hit an iceberg. Everybody was evacuated in the dark into rowboats, where they awaited a rescue. Everyone practices putting on their life jackets, even the children. Miss Gardner is in charge of Lady Milton, and Rupert Maltons 's children. Miss Gardner was a young Nanny compared to others.
Some of the crew, and officers have to stay back on board the Titanic, because there is not enough room to escape on the rowboats. The titanic's Captain Smith was the man in charge of the ship. The Titanic hits an iceberg in the middle of the night . Gardner the Nanny puts her children in clothes, and then the life jackets. In their rowboat, there are children , and ladies, with two males rowing away quickly from the Titanic that is sinking. The survivors of the Titanic are rescued by a ship called Carpathia. There are many activities occuring. Read this novel , and you will be intrigued.
I recommend this book very much.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Need so Beautiful by Young

Charlotte is an orphan living in a loving foster care home. Since she was about 12 she has experienced compulsions she calls needs to go to complete strangers, reach out to them and tell them something that will keep them from permanently ruining their lives. Over the years the compulsions have increased and now her skin is turning a glowing golden color. She has a boyfriend she loves very much and a best girl friend but must lie to both constantly because of her strange behavior. Her foster mom is a nurse working for a free clinic where Charlotte has come to know the doctor who has been trying to be her protector as he knows what is happening to her. She will one day be completely transformed to a golden glow and most people she has touched will not remember she ever existed. She struggles with the idea of never growing up, never being remembered and with shadows that offer that which she had always believed she would have. If you believe in angels this book is for you. It is a very quick read and somewhat sad. JDW 11/10/11

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Guys Read: Thriller edited by Jon Scieszka

This book is a collection of short stories with a thriller theme. While the stories are "guaranteed to thrill, [and] chill," it falls a little short depending on the audience. It is a great introduction, though, to many popular young adult authors, such as M.T. Anderson, Walter Dean Myers, James Patterson, Anthony Horowitz and others.

Ten stories form this collection. They range from haunted houses and ghost to missing people to threatening people like pirates and thieves and even mysterious monsters. Young boys are the main character of each story - hence the "guy" read aspect. That doesn't mean, though, that girls cannot read this book, although they are not the target audience. As with most story collection, some stories are more exciting than others, but they all seem to fit the theme. Initially I had been a bit disappointed in the book because I didn't feel that the stories were exceptionally thrilling or scary - I felt no chills. I figured this could be from one or two reasons - audience or the fact that these are short stories. Although I'm sure Edgar Allen Poe would disagree, sometimes short stories don't offer enough development or details in terms of stories to really catch you. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't - the same can be said for regular novels. Audience is another factor. This book is targeted for ages 8-12, which definitely explains the PG quality of stories. In no way is that a bad thing, except when you're expecting and hoping for PG-13 or higher like I had been expecting. This book is great for kids who want a few thrills without it being too scary or for the younger audience getting into thrilling stories. It might be a disappointment, though, for experienced thrill seekers.

This novel has an amazing assortment of popular young adult authors. They all come together to write thrilling but a bit tame stories. It was a good book and the stories are enjoyable.

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

This is a mystery/thriller with a little bit of romance. The setting is a small town during the Vietnam era. Characters are Jasper Jones who is a loner, weird teen with alcoholic father who uses his deceased mother's last name and is often blamed for things not done by him, Charlie who may be Jasper's friend and is the studious son of a school teacher and a mother who wishes she were somewhere else and does not really care for Charlie, Jack Lionel who is a scary monster type that all kids avoid except to challenge each other to sneak peaches off his tree without being caught, Eliza Wishart who is Charlie's love interest and sister of a missing girl, Jeffrey Lu who is Vietnamese and whose family has many friends and enemies in town, he is Charlie's best friend.

School is ending for the summer and Charlie is looking forward at least to escape torture from the school bully and perhaps see a little more of Eliza. Jasper appears under his open window late at night desperately in need of help. As it turns out the help needed is to dispose of the dead body of Laura Wishart which is hanging in Jasper's secret home and help discover her murderer.
Summer becomes one of sneaking around, discovering unexpected things, hanging with Eliza and Jeffrey and finally in the last few pages seeing the unravelling of many closely held town secrets which mostly will never be revealed to the town's people in general. The ending is great, if only everything hadn't happened at once. It seems like more hints of things to come would have helped this story's pace some. It kind of dragged with not much important going on and not much discovered. I'm thinking kids who liked 13 Little Blue Envelopes may appreciate this. Hope that doesn't give too much away. JDW 11/9

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Variant - Robison Wells

Benson Fisher has been in and out of foster homes since he was five years old. At his last school he filled out a scholarship that was aimed at foster kids. The next day he got a call and was on his way to Maxfield Academy in New Mexico. Right off the bat things seem weird to Benson. He sees two kids try to make a run for it when he's dropped off. Becky, who handles orientation, is a bit to cheerful and tells him to refer to the manual for any answers to questions he will have. There are cameras all around the school to monitor everyones movements. During his first night he has to choose which group to join. There is Society, Havoc, and Variant. Benson chooses Variant, after having not so good encounters with Isaiah and Oakland, the leaders of Society and Havoc respectively. Benson settles into the routine of Maxfield Academy. Some of the days they have class all day, or half a day with paintball in the afternoon. As Benson and some of his Variant members are walking back from paintball they pass a graveyard. Benson is told of the time before the truce between the groups. Everything was chaos and quite a few people died. Later that night Lily jumps the wall to escape and dies. The next day everyone becomes a little on edge when they find out about her death. A few days later the school has a dance. Benson and Jane head out and as they walk by the wall they are attacked by Dylan and Laura. Jane is severly injured and goes to a mechanical room in the basement of the school. Benson follows to make sure she's all right. He then sees her take her ear off and plug a computer cable into where her ear was. As Benson holds on to the knowledge that Jane was an android, unrest begins to take over the school and talk of leaving escaltes.

I didn't want to put this book down. To me it was a cross between Lord of the Flies and 1984. It captured my attention from the first page all the way to the last page. The ending was a twist, and I didn't see that coming. I reread the last few pages a few times to fully understand what was written. From what I looked up this is book 1 of a trilogy, so I will be eagerly awaiting the next book.

T.B. 11/5/11

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Goliath - Scott Westerfeld

The Leviathan receives orders to pick up a package from Russia. Once it is on board the crew finds parts to a device hidden within all the meat strips. The device is assembled, but no one seems to know what it does. They then are ordered to pick up Nikola Tesla, the famous inventor. The device is called Goliath, and according to Dr. Tesla it will end the war. The Leviathan escorts Dr. Tesla to Japan, where he demonstrates his device in front of a group of Clankers and Darwinists. During the journey to Japan Prince Alek puts the pieces together to discovers that Dylan is Deryn, a girl. As they reach California, Alek confronts Deryn about her secret. She has wanted to tell him, but was fearful of his reaction when he found out that she isn't a boy at all. After a day at William Randolph Hearst's house the Leviathan heads south through Mexico. This is the only way to get Dr. Tesla to New York, since the United States is a neutral in the war. Once in New York Dr. Tesla gets everything set up to activate Goliath. As the detonation time approaches Deryn gets word of a German plot to attack Goliath. Will the German's succeed in destroying Goliath, or will Dr. Tesla's device end the war between the Clankers and the Darwinists?

I have loved the Leviathan trilogy since I read the first book. Scott Westerfeld has crafted an intriguing alternate reality story of the first World War. I was eagerly awaiting the release of Goliath, and I was not disappointed. I liked the way he wrapped up the story. I had figured out some of the ending as I was reading. I was also surprised about a few of the events that unfolded at the end. I like it when I work out an ending in my head, and the author does a complete turn-a-round of what I think will happen.

T.B. 10/27/11

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Go ask Alice by Anonymous

The story is based in the 1970s, is very difficult to say a year or even a decade since the time line is somewhat confusing. Alice is a teenager how gets trapped in the drug/addiction world. She was not looking for drugs but was introduce to them in a party, served in a drink without her knowledge. After she finds out she realizes that she actually likes them and has to experiment with other hardcore drugs. She ends up dropping out of school and she goes to a different city where I finded very difficult to believe she and a friend, who is also an addict, start a small business in this new city. She has several guys in her life, one at a time, but never really in love. She is trying to stay clean but relapsing several times. When comes back home her "addict" friends turn away because she is trying to stay clean. She ends up at a mental hospital. Personally the time line was very confusing and yet the story was missing something. The book is based on a true story but is listed under fiction, the book is good and okay yet there are so many details missing that it does not make it a good book.

Habibi by Craig Thompson

Across a landscape of desserts, harems and another modern industrial clutter. Habibi tells the story of Dodola and Zam. Two slaves children bound to each other by chance, to grow up, survive and the love that grows eventually each other as time passes. Habibi is a love story of the hardships once you are of survival due to your status in society. Dodola and Zam have to venture a word, where they are separated, sold, hunger to eventually reunite each other and begin their new path to build a future for themselves. Good art and great story telling, Habibi is a must read.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Stay by Deb Caletti

This is a haunting story filled with the ghosts of past wrongs and obsession that threaten to destroy the main character (not the scary kind of ghosts - but those are mentioned). Although slow in some parts, it has a poetic message about letting go and forgiveness.

This story takes place at two different times in Clara's life. There's her present life which deals with the aftermath of her recent past. In her present life she and her father are on vacation by the sea, hiding out from the troubles of their recent past. Clara's trying to have a normal summer, with a job at a lighthouse with her cranky boss and a developing crush on a sailor on top of her father's own blossoming romance. The only problem is she can't seem to escape the ghosts of her recent past. Christian had been her soul mate. When she met him she knew they were meant to be together and pursued him. Things were wonderful until he started to get clingy and jealous - downright obsessed with Clara. She'd been doing so much to keep him happy, she didn't know who she was anymore and then it got to the point that Clara and her father needed to escape (which brings us back to the present story and their vacation).

This novel starts off really choppy and slow. The chapters alternate between her vacation life and flashbacks to her relationship with Christian. Once the switching back and forth stops, the story really begins to flow. Later on there's another flashback chapter but it has a smoother transition. As I read the flashback chapters, I felt like the author was trying to show the relationship rather than simply tell the reader what happened, but a huge chunk of those chapters still felt like telling because she was summing up portions of their relationship. You could see where it was all going, but I felt it could have been done differently - then again, that's just a person preference seeing how I've never been a big fan of books that flit back and forth between time periods.

This book puts a lot of meaning behind different situations. It's not just telling a story but placing importance on all things that happens. It's a lot deeper than most fiction. If you're just looking for simply a story to read, you might find the moments of reflection distracting and tiresome, but this book has a greater purpose. It was a really good read - once it got a handle on the appropriate flow of storytelling. The characters are great - you feel for Clara, you're creeped out by Christian, and you're intrigued by the supporting characters. Each one has layers and secrets and ghosts. In the end, it was an enjoyable read.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The Price of Loyalty by Mike Castan

This is not a new or original story. Walter Dean Myers told a similar tale in The Scorpions.
A group of grade school friends have recently begun middle school. They decide to form a secret club that isn't really a gang. But soon they are doing things like tagging, shop lifting, smoking weed and brawling that are very gang like. Some of the group is more gang like than others, skipping school, finding a place to hang (a cul de sac), doing meth. One of the group, Manny, really isn't comfortable with his friends' new activities and hangs less and less with them. Except, he is the one getting the marijuana for them. Then there is a nasty fight in which two middle schoolers who officially belong to a gang are beaten senseless and left lying in the cul de sac. Manny and his girl friend find them and with Henrietta's mother's help notify authorities so the two will get help. What follows is lots of questioning by police about who did the beating. Manny finally caves and rats out his friends. There are consequences for all involved of varying severity, including Manny who must deal with his abuela's disappointment in him, his friends disapproval and having been involved with marijuana distribution. For kids still looking for more gang related books. JDW 10/5

Monday, October 03, 2011

Island's End By:Padma Venkatraman

This novel will capture the imaginations of many readers. The main female character of the novel struggles between tradition, and the values she believes in and modern influences. Her name is Uido, and she is chosen to be the Spiritual leader of her island tribe. The novel takes place on the Andaman Island. These are Islands East of India that lay in the Bay of Bengal. These Islands are covered with tropical rain forests that protected the tribal people. The strangers from other Islands , tempted the tribe members with gifts they have never seen.The strangers make the tribal members very curious about modern life. The author of this novel travels to the Andaman Islands to experience life on the Island. Also the author met with native people, who overcame a natural disaster, and preserved their unique way of life. In the novel Uido transforms from a girl to a tribal leader.
This novel is a good read. 10/3/11 LD

Mice By: Gordon Reece

This novel keeps the interest of any individual, because it piques our interest, or curiosity.
The novel begins, with a Mother, who is a lawyer, and is recently divorced. Shelley is her teenaged daughter, who is very smart. One problem Shelley has she is bullied so badly in the High School that she was frightened to attend. So the Principal had a male tutor, and a female tutor come to Shelley's home to cover her studies. Her male Tutor Mr. Roger's came every morning. Mrs. Harris came in the afternoon. Shelley preferred Mr. Rogers who was interesting when teaching Shelley. Mrs. Harris taught in a boring method, and Shelley did not look forward to her arrival at the house or cottage. This novel was an amazing story that took place in an English cottage that was isolated, but close to about twenty miles away to a village with all the necessities like a Police Station, Schools, grocery store, and Hospital. One night, a burglar got himself into their cottage by unscrewing the window frame, and letting himself into the cottage quietly. The burglar began robbing things that he could carry. He also carried his hand weapon, which was a sharp knife. Unreal, the two women fight the burglar, and Shelley the teen, ends up giving the final blow to the burglar. Now, the women must devise where to dump the body. The Mother, Elizabeth, thinks of burying the body right in the rose garden. Her mother says to the daughter we will dig a shallow grave, and place the burglar in the grave. All the towels with blood, and clothing that is soiled will be abandoned in an abandoned mines. The mines are about an hour and a half from their cottage. I recommend this novel . It is humorous , but also a mystery Some readers think the novel Mice is a psychological novel. I enjoyed the novel. I recommend the read.
10/3/11 LD

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wish you were dead by Todd Strasser

While this book is supposed to be a thriller and it had it's moments, it simply didn't create enough suspense to create a roller coaster ride one expects with a thriller. At the same time, it's supposed to be about the world of blogging and social networking, but failed to delve deep enough.

After someone blogs about being teased and wishing the bully were dead, said bully suddenly disappears. Everyone is suddenly on edge and speculating about what could have happened, especially Madison - the last person to see the girl. With no new news, life slowly starts to go on until another student disappears - another student the blogger complained about. What's going on and what's the mystery behind the new guy that Madison can't help but feel attracted to? He's hiding something and it doesn't help Madison's nerves when she starts receiving mysterious notes about danger.

This book was not as thrilling as it could have been. It was almost as if there were too many lulls in the story and not enough moments of suspense. Certain characters were thrown into the story, possibly as red herrings without being developed enough to really be taken in that direction. The true killer comes completely out of left field but almost in a fashion where you wonder where that came from. Madison has a "creepy" email stalker that doesn't seem to serve much purpose except connecting to the Internet theme, maybe? There were the occasional "diary" entries from the kidnapper, but those were mediocre additions. The whole novel wasn't terrible, but it could have pushed further. This is up for an Abe Lincoln award but it doesn't seem to have any real guts. You don't really feel the character's pain at the beginning - only a little. If she wants this person dead so badly, I personally thing I should feel the same way. Unfortunately that didn't happen. If this is supposed to be about the evils of blogs or social networking, it should have been a more prevalent aspect of the story. It was simply the catalyst and nothing more. So much more could have been done afterwards to carry on the theme and create thrills. If this is supposed to be about Madison searching for answers, not hiding at home and speculating. Everyone comes to her with the answers as opposed to her finding them on her own.

This book simply leaves you wanting more thrills and less waiting around for something to happen.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Animal Land by Makoto Raiku

There is a time when women are not ready to be mothers. In this case a strange woman has abandoned her child, allowing him to float down a river. Somehow the baby ends up in a place full of animals. Rescued by Monoko a tanuki, the child discovers his rare ability to speak different animal cries. Now Monoko as the child's 'mother' will venture into the dangers of the animal kingdom to ensure her 'child's' survival.

Black Heart Crypt by Grabnestein

This is a creepy story perfect for Halloween. Its rated for middle school readers. There are a couple of pretty gruesome scenes in it that may make it unsuitable for some of the younger tweens. Its perfect for 7th & 8th graders. Zack Jenning's dog Zipper chases something into a nearby graveyard where Zack witnesses an eerie conversation among ghosts. He can see ghosts you see. He is from a long line of relatives who could see ghosts. His father chose to give up his gift. A short time later there is a ghost attack in a hardware store and father calls in his three gifted aunts for help and protection. Halloween is fast approaching and ghosts can wreck havoc on Halloween night and something is clearly afoot. The twelve notorious Icklebys escape from the crypt in which they have been locked for a long time. Their goal is to kill the boy Jennings in revenge for having been locked up in a crypt by his great aunts. There is some implausible, doesn't work for grown-ups stuff in this story but I think it will work just fine for kids. Zack, his grandpa (a ghost and nephew to the three aunts), and his aunts battle to send the notorious Icklebys ( twelve or is it thirteen of them) on their way forever, to get back Norman Ickes' stolen body from his distant relatives and generally restore peace. Go ahead read by sage candle light, the ghosts will leave you alone, I promise! JDW 9/24

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dust and Decay - Jonathan Maberry

After the events in Rot and Ruin Tom Imura has been training his younger brother Benny, Nix Riley, Lilah a.k.a the Lost Girl, Chong, and Morgie how to fight and quiet the zombies that live out in the Rot and Ruin. Morgie is the only one who doesn't go with as they leave town to follow a plane Benny and Nix saw flying over the Rot and Ruin. As they venture out from the town they run into bounty hunters who are working for White Bear. They find out that there is a price on their heads, and they are worth more alive than dead. After an attack by a white rhinoceros they come upon Brother David's place, with no Brother David. Chong thinks that the attack is his fault and runs away. Tom decides to go looking for him leaving Lilah, Benny, and Nix at Brother David's. Later that night a zombie attack on Brother David's place forces Lilah to separate from Benny and Nix. Eventually everyone makes their way to the Wawona Hotel, either by being captured by White Bear, or making it on their own. The hotel has been turned into the new Gameland. Gameland is run by White Bear and Preacher Jack, and it is where kids are put in pits with zombies and people bet on who will survive. The battle for the Rot and Ruin begins and ends at the Wawonda Hotel. Will our heroes survive the battle, or will White Bear and Preacher Jack continue to control the Rot and Ruin?

I absolutely loved this book. I like how Jonathan Maberry didn't just make it about people fighting zombies, he made it about what it means to survive when 90% of the world are zombies. He has created characters that you care about, and ones that you can't help but hate. You can place yourself inside the mind of any character, and feel like you are actually there with them. I hope he writes a third book or even a fourth book, because to me the story isn't done yet. Rot and Ruin along with Dust and Decay are two of the best zombie books I have read, and I highly recommend them.

T.B. 9/21/11

Monday, September 19, 2011

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid The Book of Scary Urban Legends - Jan Brunvand

Urban Legends have been a part of folklore for a long time. All are told by a person who said it happened to a friend of a friend. From the Vanishing Hitchhiker, to Bloody Mary, to Spiders in the Cactus, to the Kidney Heist, to the Kentucky Fried Rat. These stories have become part of our culture. Even though the location of where the story happens (like the urban legends that happen on college campuses) changes, the essence of the story remains the same.

So the next time you have a party or a sleepover, and you want to give people a good scare tell them to go into the bathroom and say Bloody Mary three times in front of the mirror, or after you hear about an escaped convict with a hook for a hand, and you come home from being out with your girlfriend/boyfriend and discover a hook in the side of the car door. If you are at a boarding school or college make sure you turn on the lights if you hear strange sounds coming from your roommates side of the room. Last, but certainly not least, if you are babysitting young children, make sure you check on them, and if the phone rings make sure it's not coming from inside the house.

If you want to read more urban legends you can check out Jan Brunvand's other books, and I also recommend the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series.

T.B. 9/19/11

Thursday, September 15, 2011


I finally finish the this amazing trilogy!!! Personally I enjoy this book, in had been a couple months since I had finish Catching Fire. I decided to pick up Mockingjay because there is so much suspense at the end of each novel.
This time Katniss Everdeen is ready to fight the capital and rescue Peeta, but she only sees the deaths she believes she has caused. In this book we see Katniss in District 13 and meeting with President Coin. She visits what is left of District 12 and slowly a love triangle unfolds between Katniss, Peeta and Gale. To make matters worse Peeta is being tortured in the capital and as well on live television, Katniss is willing to do everything so Peeta is rescued. Katniss is determined to kill President Snow, but she is so confused who to believe? In who to trust? At the end we discover that in so many fatalities Prim, Katniss's sister, ends up dying. Now more than ever Katniss feels so sick mentally and physically, she is just simply tired of this confusion.
In the book we will learned how does Katniss after all this she ends up having a wonderful family with the person she realizes she truly loves. This is a must read book or I should say trilogy!!! RPA

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Flip By: Martyn Bedford

This is the first novel for Young Adults written by this novelist. The novelist has written five adult books .
The theme he has incorporated for Flip is not that simple. Teens should like this novel, and really get into it.
From the beginning of the story , we find ourselves meeting Alex, a fourteen year old teen, who is trapped in another boy's body called Phil, but nicknamed "Flip."
This novel throughout demonstrates the teen search for self. To me it is the underlying theme
throughout the novel. Reviewers of the novel "Flip" believe the story is written well, and brings out many themes throughout the novel, makes you think deeply, when the novel is finished. Some of the personalities are from New Zealand in the novel. Cherry, Alex's good friend throughout the plot.
The main theme I got from the novel, was we have a soul, whose will do we have. We know it has no limits. Alex demonstrated this point in the novel.
The novel was alright, and better towards the end. It is a good read.
LRD 8/23/11

Monday, August 22, 2011

Carter Finally Gets It By Brent Crawford

This is the author's first novel.. Carter is a freshman in High School, and is the main personality in the novel. Carter has a stuttering problem that shows up when he encounters females belly buttons , and female breasts. He has a problem with attention deficit disorder. Carter is a virgin, because he cannot talk to girl's. In my opinion, Carter is not ready for High School, or going on a date with a girl. Carter is chased by the Police for being underage behavior. Carter surprises everyone, and gets a crush on a drill team member at his High School. This novel becomes interesting, because of all Carter's problems. They become resolved, and Carter finds a girlfriend, which no one thought possible. The novel ended, and I like the plot, although the novel had underage drinking. I believe teens could relate to this novel. I recommend this novel to any reader
LRD 8/22/11

Carter's ADD makes it hard for him to stay focused on his goals. It makes him decide if a little speed on a bike is a good thing then more is better as an example and wonder what that group of hot girls think of him when he should be focusing on something else. He's the kid that carries all his books and papers everywhere in school and still doesn't have the right thing in class. He wishes his brain would let him do better in school and with social situations. The story opens as the summer is coming to an end and his first year in high school is about to begin. He has failed, spectacularly, hilariously to reach his goal of doing THE DIVE the top swim team member can perform. Carter is number two. After lessons from big sister Lynn on dating and relating to girls he goes to the end of summer unsupervised teen party. He manages to leave on good terms with a girl he hopes to date only to hilariously blow it later in the story. The way Carter relates to us his disasters such as, eating an extra large bean burrito before his first official date with predictable results, is a lot of fun for the reader. But, he sometimes lets us in on his frustrations with himself. He has a group of friends he calls my boys, which feels unauthentic to me. They tend to spur him on, kid him and so on. Carter is a good kid trying to figure out how to fit in and making lots of mistakes along the way. There is more than one unsupervised teen party in this book and the kids don't ever face any consequences which bothered me. This is a guy book with lots of rude, crude guy talk, as many guys often do. I'd give this book to fans of David Lubar and especially his book SLEEPING FRESHMEN NEVER LIE. Watch for the sequel Carter's Big Break. JDW9/18

Before I Die By: Jenny Downham

Everyone knows they must die, but we have no clue as to what day, or exactly when it will happen. Tessa the main character of the novel has a list she composes of what she wants to do before she dies. Tessa is sixteen and has leukemia. She has many blood transfusion's, and needs to relieve her pain. Her Dad lives there full time. Tessa has a brother called Cal, who is close to her sister, and Dad. Tessa has a good friend called Zoey. One of the main items on Tessa list is having sex . Tessa wants to spend her weeks at home using holistic methods of healing. Once in a while, Tessa gets bad nosebleeds, which are dangerous. The nosebleeds do not stop very easily. So someone drives Tessa to the Hospital, a Doctor takes care of Tessa. Tessa has a nurse that comes to her house called Philippa she is from the Hospital and takes care of her. Nurse informs Tessa what will happen to Tessa. Philippa brings drugs that will help her as she continues.
This novel was outstanding, and shows , what it might be to die. I recommend the novel. LRD 8/22/11

My Say:

Tessa has been fighting leukemia for four years, now there is no hope for cure, only for management which will delay the end at great cost to her quality of life. Tessa's list of things to do before she dies includes many things that change and evolve as the end nears and as her loving family and friends manages to help her fulfill her wishes. She is often too depressed to get moving. She is sometimes too tired to get on with life. Tessa disposes of many of her belongings, especially hopeful diaries she wrote when she still thought she might get well. She does this in a bonfire created by a neighboring teen. Beyond all expectations, Adam and Tessa bond even as she suspects that he just fills sorry for her. He is able to help her fulfill the most important item on her list, which by the way is not having sex. Tessa's friend Zoey gets pregnant and considers abortion but chooses to keep the baby for Tessa. Whole research papers have been written about the tendency of authors to combine death and dying with birth and rebirth so this part of the story is cliche. Zoey, otherwise is a true friend with all the doubts and strengths any friend might have. JDW 9/21

Breathe my Name By: R.A. Nelson

To me it is a complicated plot, that unravels itself toward the last few chapters of the novel.
Frances Robinson tries to forget her birth Mother, who suffocated her three younger sisters. Frances was able to escape her Mother's crazy doings. Frances is eighteen years old , and tries to forgive her Mother but she cannot forget her past. Nelson writes with compassion, and sensitivity. This novel may disturb the reader. This novel is basically about the ties that connect with our families, and our innermost secrets we hide in our families. Many who read the novel, think Frances and Nix are the most interesting personalities in the novel. Frances with Nix's help was determined to reach where her Mother was. They both had stamina, and determination to follow their goal. I recommend this novel to any teen. It is a good novel, and also has a good message.

LRD 8/22/11

My thoughts. Frances was haunted by the demons that possessed her mother, for her entire life. Her adopted parents would not talk about her past or let her talk. A stranger calling himself a lawyer gives her a letter supposedly written by her mother, supposedly in a half-way house now that her psychosis is under control. The letter gives Frances the idea of finding her mother and trying to lay demons to rest but does not reveal the location of her mother. Nix is the new guy in school and looking for friends when he meets very introverted Frances. He agrees to help Frances visit her past and find her mother. I didn't think any one's motivations were clear. I did not like these characters. I never got a sense that the story was leading to a deadly confrontation as it did about 20 pages from the end. There is a bit of a romance between Nix and Frances but it never quite gets off the ground because of France's haunted past. Frances's mother suffered from postpartum depression/psychosis. There have been several instances in the news of mothers killing their children while suffering, apparently to save the children from the very demons that were controlling them. JDW 9/19

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

This author also wrote the loosely historical fiction teen comming of age novel A Northern Light which I very much enjoyed both for its history and for its strong female protaganist. Revolution is a much more ambitious historical piece with another strong female lead. Andi has had a triple tragedy the past year. First her beloved little brother died in a way that perhaps she could have prevented then her parent's already rocky marriage finally and irreparably falls apart and her mother along with it. Andi is on antidepressants as a result. They tend to have a side effect of causing hallucinations. Andi is trying to care for herself and her mother, grieve her brother's death and turn in her outline for her senior thesis at a private school for wealthy, artistically talented high schoolers. When the school sends Andi's failing grades to her absent father, he appears, puts her mother in a mental institute for help and wisks Andi off to Paris where he is doing dna testing on a well preserved heart which could prove to be that of the son of Louis XVI who was beheaded during the French Revolution. It had been Andi's plan to do a research paper on a somewhat obscure and creative guitarist of that same time period. Now her father has demanded that she turn in her outline and introduction to him by the end of her time in Paris. Andi is a gifted guitarist and very knowledgeable about the history and evolution of guitar music. She has been to Paris before, she knows the language and knows her way around. She and her father are staying with friends. Every one has his or her own busy schedul leaving Andi mostly on her own. The night of her arrival she is handed a guitar which had recently been found in the catacombs under Paris and is believed to be from the French Revolution Period. Andi discovers a secret compartment with a diary inside. From this diary, she has a very detailed account of the beginning and almost ending of the revolution including the death of the small son of Louis XVI heir to the French throne. Andi finds herself drawn into the story told in the diary until she is no longer present in real time. This happens while waiting in a historical library for books on her subject and also when with other gifted musicians she has met in Paris, perhaps aided by the use of antidepressants. She meets the musician subject of her thesis, becomes the young woman whose diary she is reading, and ultimately survives now much stronger than she was before. While the revolution was well researched and no doubt true to history, there is way too much detail for me and I suspect most teens. I enjoyed the history of guitar music woven within though. Andi, being gifted, bilingual, enrolled in a special school and accostumed to travelling to and in Paris may make this story hard for many teens to relate to however well written the novel. JDW 8/11

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Something Like Fate by Susane Colasanti

Someone told me that every story has already been written and it's the author job to make the story unique. This novel is a storyline that's been done many times before and while the author tries to make it unique, she doesn't quite hit the mark.

Lani believes in fate, from horoscopes to Magic 8 balls and tarot cards. After Erin saves her from a car accident, she believes they'll be best friends tied together forever due to this event. When Erin starts dating Jason, Lani can't help but notice how wrong the two of them are together. What she does notice, is how perfect Jason would be for her. They're connected in so many ways, but he's dating her best friend, so what's she to do. Things don't improve when the two of them are alone together since Erin is at camp. Should she follow her heart or remain true to her best friend? When she goes for her soul mate - because fate basically said they're destined to be together - she'll do anything to keep her friendship with Erin.

The book tried to be special by exaggerating Lani's obsession with fate and all things related to that belief. In doing that and giving the character her quirky moment - the taste of water can be described as a colored shape? - the novel faltered in basic elements of the story. Many scenes felt underdeveloped, just thrown in there. It doesn't really get a good flow until the last half when everything fell apart. The narrator does have a good voice; you definitely feel as if this story is being told by a teenager. However, this novel just falls short of the mark.

I don't want to say this novel doesn't have depth, but it could have a lot more than it does. It's simply a story that's already been told and doesn't do enough to make itself stand out.

Vampire knight Official Fanbook by Matsuri Hino

Dive into the world of your favorite vampires. This is a basic guide to the hit series Vampire Knight. With sketches, story boards, bios, character designs. Even a exclusive interview with the creator Matsuri Hiro. Even art work. If you had questions from the manga this will help you shed some light.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

White Crow - Marcus Sedgwick

Winterfold, England used to be a booming town, but the ocean has swallowed up parts of the town over the years. Rebecca and her father head there for the summer because her father called off a search for a young girl back in Greenwich, and that lead to the girls death. Rebecca explores the village, and encounters Ferelith. Ferelith has grown up in Winterfold, and knows the history of the town. She takes Rebecca to old graveyards, the only church left standing, and a building called the Hall. Back in 1798, a French doctor came to the town and was trying to raise evil spirits to possess people. Ferelith straps Rebecca in the chair where the victims once sat. Rebecca is frightened and scared. After a few hours Ferelith comes back to release her, and Rebecca doesn't want to be friends anymore. Rebecca heads home and realizes that the necklace her father gave her must have fell off in the Hall. She heads back and Ferelith is there waiting for her while a thunderous storm closes in and threatens to take away the Hall.

This book was ok. It left me a bit confused, and unsatisfied as a reader. I did like the journal entries from 1798, which mirrored what was going on with Rebecca coming to town as the new girl. I wish the entries had been incorporated more into the story instead of being just put in between the chapters. The ending and the title of the book left me confused. I think I was expecting more out of the book than what was written.

T.B. 8/16/11

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Everfound - Neal Shusterman

The fight for Everlost and the Earth comes to a head in the final book of the Skinjacker Trilogy. Mary's Afterlights continue their journey westward, hoping to full fill her mission as she lay comatose in the back of the train. They encounter a group of savage Afterlights, and the Afterlights scatter, except for a chosen few who remain loyal to Mary. Jix frees Allie, who has been held prisoner by Milos. Jix and Jill get captured by the Neon Nightmares. After a few days Jix cleverly tricks the leader into holding and Everlost coin, which sends his spirit to it's final resting place. Jill leaves Jix and the Neon Nightmares and rejoins with Milos and the skinjackers. Allie makes her way to San Antonio with the intent of stopping Milos and the other skinjackers from reaping souls to build Mary's army. There she encounters Clarence, who can see both Everlost and Earth. When they find Milos and everyone else Clarence, who according to Everlost legend is a scar wraith, touches Squirrel and his spirit just disappears. This one event sends ripples through out Everlost and Earth, and it awakens Mary Hightower. Once she finds out what has been happening, Mary continues to go forward with her plan to end all life on Earth and bring everything living into Everlost.

I've loved and enjoyed this trilogy, and Everfound was a good ending to this trilogy. A few things I figured out before the end of the book, but there were a few things that I didn't see coming. I recommend the whole Skinjacker Trilogy: Everlost, Everwild, and Everfound. Also, any of Neal Shusterman's books including Bruiser and Unwind.

T.B. 8/11/11

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Twisted by Sara Shepard

The newest edition in the Pretty Little Liars series continues with more of the same - which can be a good thing, or a bad thing.

After the fire in the Poconos in which the truth about A and Ali had been revealed, the girls take a trip to Jamaica where something happens to tear the four friends apart. Ten months later they're living their own lives. Spencer's mother has a new beau with an attractive son that Spencer finds herself drawn to, but can she be trusted to keep his secret when she's battling a few of her own? Emily has not only the secret from Jamaica troubling her, but another secret that pulled her out of swimming. Now she has to find a way to get a scholarship and her new friend Chloe's father might be the answer, if he can keep his hands to himself. Aria thinks things are going great between her and boyfriend Noel, but then the beautiful foreign exchange student enters the picture and we get to see how far Aria will go to keep her boyfriend. Finally, Hanna's father is starting his campaign for the Senate and Hanna's ambition and naivete might jeopardize it if she doesn't pull out some sneaky moves. If that wasn't enough for the girls to handle, "A" is back in their lives ready to cause trouble. But how can that be? It looks as if what happened in Jamaica isn't going to stay secret if A has anything to say about it...

The drama of A and these girls inability to stay out of trouble continues in the newest book in what is certain to be at least a set of four books. Some might groan and ask why can't A just die or the girls get a clue, while others might relish in the newest edition to this guilty pleasure. (I groaned but yet I just had to read the book to see where it went. I'll probably even pick up the next one because as tiresome as the antics sometimes get, the series is addicting.) The popularity of the TV show definitely has fueled the need for another book (it could have ended with the last one) and this one has added new twists to the girls' lives. Having it about a year after the fact helped continue the story with more options for the characters.

If you've been sucked into the drama of the Pretty Little Liars, you'll enjoy this book. It's more of the same but in a way that will quench your hunger until the next one comes out.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ka n na gi by Eri Takenashi

While there are many stories about Gods and humans concentrated on a serious theme. Ka n na gi is another one of those. Not exactly. Jin has always seen strange black bugs since he was small. As time passed Jin grew up like any other boy, but after and unexpected encounter his life would begin to change. Nagi a strange girl appears in front of him and she claims to be a God! Is she really? Yes she is! Soon the odd pair begins to live under the same roof, looking forward for weird happenings and defeating of small black bugs called "defilements" who stain the holy land. Not to count the small wacky adventures.

This manga is about a serious story....Kind of.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

I had a hard time believing in this story. Portland Maine has become a small dictatorship. It is surrounded by electrified fences. It has crypts for permanent enemies of the state. It has rules regarding what you can and cannot read, watch on tv, see in plays, etc. Religion is really the indoctrination of people with the values of the state. And, romantic love is called a virus which is cured once a person passes his/her seventeenth birthday, by brain surgery, which sometimes goes badly wrong and sometimes doesn't work. After that, people are passively, accepting of their fates. They are assigned jobs, they are assigned spouses, they are told how many children they are allowed to have. There are only hints of how/why this happened. A person can sort of understand that if one grew up in this restricted society, knew nothing else then this would all seem normal. Understanding why adults who apparently lived at the time of whatever happened believe in this system is harder to understand. Except rumors abound about invalids (uncured) living in the wilds outside the fence. Folks are aware that there is a world across the ocean they know nothing about, and don't care since the cure. There are resistors. Lena, just before her cure, learns that romantic love has a lot to recommend itself. Lena goes to illicit concerts with music not controlled by the state. Lena even gets to visit the wilds with her love, Alex, a resistor. Of course eventually they get caught, pretty much everyone does. There are so many safeguards against escape such as the fences, constant violent raids and whatnot that it would be virtually impossible not to. In fact, this situation seems virtually hopeless as far escape or a future of freedom of choice and of true love. Reminiscent of Lowry's The Giver which is less violent and more hopeful. JDW7/28

Monday, July 18, 2011

Newly Wed by Nancy Krulik

This book lies in limbo between good and bad as well as in terms of audience. It doesn't quite have young adult appeal, but it won't quite appeal to an adult audience.

Jen is a senior in college and Jesse has already graduated and is a junior associate at some business. The two, after knowing each other for eight months, are getting married. Through a deal with the online dating service where they met, they get a free wedding if they chronicle their marriage online. It sounds easy enough, but the newlyweds have a lot on their plate between their conflicting personalities, pressures from work and school, as well as other newlywed problems. Will it get to be too much, or with this couple stick it out?

The author of this book is known for children's books and young adults. This book definitely reads like a young adult book in the manner that it's written but I question how much appeal the first year of marriage will have for teens. It is a fluff novel - there's not much depth to it. This might, now that I think about it, be a good transition novel for teens who like romance but aren't quite ready to delve into the adult romance world. The book does a decent job showing some of the newlyweds' struggles but, in a way, it's a simplistic view of their issues. Everything could have gone further and I would have liked more of the blogs they had to post. The book, though, is an interesting idea and the story all works together.

Limbo is the best way for me to describe this book. It doesn't rest fully in one ballpark or the other. It's not bad, but it's not great. It doesn't have the depth of an adult book, but it's not quite a young adult topic. If you're looking for a fluffy romance, this is a decent book to pick up.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Efrain's Secret By Sofia Quintero

This novel has to do with a dream that many teens have. The teens would like to get out of their mundane situation, and attend an ivy league University. Efrain Rodriguez is a Senior in High School where he grew up in the South Bronx, New York. He is an Honor Student by day, but to
earn extra money at night he is a drug dealer. Efrain lives a double life secretly.

The author of this novel realizes that the teen Efrain puts his whole life on the line by planning two lives, which can get Efrain seriously in trouble. His drug selling is kept secret from his school buddies.
I liked this novel very much. It had action, and very important message to teens, Efrain was so involved with drugs it might just influence his future life, and his goals. I recommend this novel.
Read this novel to find the details.

LRD 7/10/11

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Once By Morris Gleitzman

This novel recalls to me some historical facts I studied in School, which could have taken place during Hitler's regime. It was a time when Jews were persecuted, and finally exterminated. Jewish children were shot, and no question asked. This novel is about a boy Felix who was placed in a Catholic orphanage for about seven years by his parents. Felix is Jewish, and runs away from the orphanage, and goes on a journey through Nazi occupied land. Felix left the orphanage to search for his Mother, and Father. Little did he know his parents were dead.Felix on his long trek to safety, he saw a house burning, he rescued a girl Zelda, also Jewish, from the home. Felix saw no other people in the home that were alive, so he left with Zelda the young Jewish girl he rescued.

Felix was very imaginative, and could tell stories to grownups, or children too. Felix had a very creative mind could entertain children as well as adults with stories. Felix and Zelda arrived in a town where there are other Jewish people huddling around, where the Nazi soldiers are gathering together. Felix and Zelda have eaten all the bread they had had. Felix feels weak, and has a fever, and collapses on his knees. A man on the street has compassion on Felix, and takes him to a secret house where Jewish orphans live. Zelda is sick now with a fever & is not able to eat.
This special house was a factory with machines. The soldiers one day decide to check the house,
and the cover of the Jewish orphans is uncovered.

This novel is good. I recommend.

7/9/11 LRD

Deadly Little Secret By: Laurie Flaria Stolarz

This novel from the beginning appealed to me because of the title of this novel. The novel throughout was a mystery until all was solved at the end. I would not have believed it til , I read this novel. This is one in a series of novels that I read. This novel you have romances, and suspense like I said before you wonder during your reading of the novel.
At the beginning of the novel we are introduced to a sixteen year old Camelia. Her life had been ordinary til she met Ben, who is a junior in High School. This changed everything in Camelia's life.
It is rumored that Ben is responsible for his former girlfriend's death. Ben is ostracised by everyone in his high school. Camelia is attracted to him, and his gentle manner. But soon Camelia is receiving weird phone calls, and strange packages with nuts inside. Ben believes she's in danger, and that he wants to help her. Camelia knows he is hiding something, but he is not the only one with a secret.

Read this novel, and find out more details. It is a good read.

7/9/11 LRD

Friday, July 08, 2011

Like Mandarin By: Kirsten Hubbard

The novel appealed to me, because first of all, it was awarded one of the Michael L. Printz award, and the Author traveled to Belize, Central America , and did some diving with dolphins.

The novel takes place in the badlands of Washokey, Wyoming. The novel mainly focuses on Grace Carpenter, and Mandarin Ramey who is seventeen, and a carefree spirit. Grace, and Mandarin become close friends, which surprises people. They are paired off for a School Project. Remember Grace is studious, and self -conscious . The two girls are opposite in their personality.
The two girls go skinny dipping on the canal. Then Mandarin suggests they run away from home both of them together. Grace says she will run away also. In the town of Washokey, where the girls live they have "Nelly's Bargain Boutique' which is a junk store, but it indicates their environment where the teens live.
It turns out Manda has a troubled life. Sometimes she hangs out in bars, and picks up men. She is hurting inside.
The novel helps you escape, and get away from your problems, and home.
I recommend this novel, and I enjoyed it.


Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Prom & Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg

This is a quick and enjoyable read that anyone who enjoys Jane Austen will appreciate.

Lizzie Bennet is an outcast at Longbourn Academy because she is one of the dreaded "scholarship" kids. Teased and harassed on a regularly basis, Lizzie can't help but have her defenses up when around fellow students with money. Forced to join her best friend Jane at a reception between their school and Pemberly Academy (a reception in preparation for the ever popular prom), Lizzie meets Jane's beau Charles Bingley and his friend Will Darcy. At first Lizzie thinks Darcy might be nice, but then he proves to be just like all of the other people with money and her defenses shoot up. No matter what Darcy does now, Lizzie won't bend and when things fall apart for Jane and Bingley and the sneaky George Wickham enters the picture, Lizzie doesn't know who to trust or who to believe in. Can she let go of her pride and prejudices to see Darcy's true character?

This novel did a great job capturing the story of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in a modern time where it's not about finding a husband, but a prom date. It was a pleasant surprise to see familiar characters pop up in new ways. That's definitely not to say that someone unfamiliar with the original tale can't enjoy this novel. It just goes to prove how Austen's tale is truly timeless. Everything flowed nicely and fit logically. At times it felt like the language was off, but I don't know if that was just how I read it - sometimes I find an English accent going off in my head, especially if I'm reading something Jane Austen. Therefore, I don't know if this was just the way I read it or if the language was stilted - like she was trying to throw in some of that formalized talk like from the original novel. It wasn't anything, though, that distracted from the whole of the novel (nor the excessive use of exclamation marks at certain unnecessarily points).

I've always been a fan of Pride and Prejudice so reading this book was a treat. It was a quick read and I really didn't want to put the book down (if only I didn't have a bedtime). Any fan of Jane Austen or chick lit will enjoy this book.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Draw the Dark - Ilsa J. Bick

The town of Winter, Wisconsin has a dark past, one that people have forgotten. Back in 1945 the town served as a place where German prisoners of war were held. They were cheap labor and helped run the factory in town. At one point all of the Jewish people there left the town, and no one knows why. Fast forward to 2011 where Christian Cage, nephew of the town sheriff, goes and spray paints the side of an old barn. The owner presses charges, and Christian is sentenced to community service at the local nursing home. It is there he meets the last surviving Jew from the World War Two era. After seeing David Witek, Christian begins to have strange visions, when he dreams and draws, about the town of Winter back in 1945 from David's point of view. From these visions of the past Christian is able to piece together what really happened back in 1945, and uncover the mysterious and forgotten past of Winter, Wisconsin.

This book was good, a bit scary, and an edge of your seat read. The plot moved forward really well, and there was no sluggish or boring parts to it. It was a whole lot better than the other small town with a secret book, Cryer's Cross, I read back in May.

T.B. 7/2/11

Monday, June 20, 2011

Shine By Lauren Myracle

In a rural town in North Carolina, sixteen year old Cat lives with her older brother, aunt and her Dad. She used to have a close friendship with Patrick but for some reason they drifted apart. Everyone in their town knew that Patrick was gay but Cat had no problem with him being gay. She had always had caring feelings towards him. One night at Patrick's job he was found badly injured and near death. Cat wants to find out who was the author of this so called hateful crime, so she sets herself to investigate. She goes around town and talks to some close people that tend to hang around with Patrick. The story has a very twisted ending, that some readers might not expect. I have to note that the story is somewhat long but the ending is worth it !!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I'll Be There by Sloane

This book gets it's title from the Michael Jackson song by that name. Two brothers, one an older teen and one almost a teen have been dragged all over the country by their father who hates government, laws and just about everything else. The boys are just a front to give him a look of respectability. He ran from the kids mother with them when Sam, the eldest was just a second grader and Riddle just two years old. Riddle has never been to school, Sam hasn't been since second grade. What they know they are self taught, except for the survival skills they learned watching their father. The man, Clarence Border, has post traumatic stress syndrome and probably some other problems as well, perhaps alcoholism and schizophrenia. Clarence gets enough money to survive on by stealing and fencing his loot. He concentrates on smaller easier to fence items and there are plenty of those, usually, if you know where to look. At the beginning of the story they have just arrived in a middle sized college town and are living in an abandoned house and their truck at the poor end of town. Sam has an ear for music and has taken to attending church services on Sunday just to listen. On this particular Sunday, in this particular church Sam hears a girl, about his age, do a flat solo then flee the church. Their eyes met while she was singing, he goes to her outside to comfort her then vanishes. The girl, Emily, finds Sam and they connect very deeply, truly. Her family, knows by the way he dresses, his mannerisms and so forth that he is not from the same type of life that Emily lives. Rather than alienate their daughter they set out to get to know the young man and discover his incredible musical talent. They also get involved in Riddle's life. The pair, who are devoted to each other, are living a life they didn't know was possible when their father finds out and runs again. This time things go wrong, their truck crashes, Sam is thrown down a cliff and Riddle jumps after him. Their father is also thrown and badly injured. The story becomes a survival story, the two boys down the cliff and the father in the truck he has managed to return to. They are in a wilderness area. It is some time before humans come across the survivors. The story does flash to Emily's life in the aftermath of their disappearance including trying not to go to prom with annoying classmate Bobby Ellis who tries to do everything just right but in the end hilariously does it all wrong. Finally the story comes to a happy ending, which we mostly expect all along but which is interesting and fun getting to. The devotion of the two boys to each other is especially touching. Their survival reminds me of Paulsen's book Hatchet. JDW 6/14

Livvie lived here by Dooley

This is a slight entry in the growing list of novels trying to depict what it is like to be "on the autism spectrum". So Livvie is autistic, perhaps rather high functioning. She attends a special school where she gets along with some students and not others. She has tantrums so violent that she has caused her family to be constantly looking for a new rental home they can live in til the next time. Livvie has two sisters, she is middle. Her peculiar needs force her sisters to room together, rather unfair since she has her own room and there is some resentment. The story revolves around Livvie's day to day life and peculiarities and her attempts to find her family a new place to live since their current lease is not being renewed and Livvie knows it is her fault.
The author only sometimes keeps to Livvie's voice, other times slipping into her school teacher role. Dooley is a special education first and a writer second. I would pass on this one. A story, often overlooked, that does a good job of showing what could be for those on the autism spectrum is THE SPEED OF DARK by Elizabeth Moon. JDW6/14

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Things A Brother Knows.By: Dana Reinhardt

I was attracted to the novel, because I grew up with two older brothers. The brothers in the novel never got along. Levi was the youngest brother, he was 17 years old. Boaz was the older brother, who had been a Marine . The two brothers take a walking trip from Boston-to Washington D.C. together.

The author handles the family incidents very well. Dana Reinhardt, the author does an excellent job for her first novel.
We find ourselves focusing on Levi, who struggles through High School , while his older brother Boaz is doing his time in the Marines. Pearl and Zim are the friends who support Levi, while the other brother is gone away to the Military. Levi graduates from High School in the end.
When Boaz comes home from the Military, it is very noticeable that he has changed. So Levi follows Boaz one day to see where he goes. Levi finds out Boaz never finds out what he believed.

I recommend this novel very much.

LRD 5/31/11

Sunday, May 29, 2011

We'llAlways Have Summer By Jenny Han

This novel takes place, after Isabel Relly Conklin's first year in College during the summer. Belly is faced with making a choice of marraige between two brothers she has loved for many years Jeremiah, and Conrad Fisher. The problem is, Jeremiah proposes marriage, but Conrad Fisher confesses that he still loves Belly.

Belly has many problems organizing her wedding to Jeremiah. She is a smart teen, but young in age. She is 19 years old, and her Mom does not approve of the marriage. In fact, she makes it a point to tell Belly she will not attend the marriage. Belly's Dad is also opposed to his only daughter's wedding. Now who will give Belly away ?

Belly, and Taylor planned the wedding. It's a small wedding with twenty people invited. The couple will be married on the beach. The best man will wear khaki shorts. The bride's dress in the end, was sought out by Belly's Mother, who became a big help to her daughter with the arrangements on the special day.

Unfortunately, it poured down rain on the actual wedding day. Belly married Conrad not Jeremiah. I loved the novel, and it kept me on my toes. Read the novel it is great!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Anna & the French Kiss By Stephanie Perkins

Honestly, I read this novel to enhance my knowledge of Paris, France. The beginning of the novel was boring to me, it took about 100 pages before my interest was satisfied. The plot has to do with teen girl Anna, and Etienne , who are shipped off to boarding school.

The plot thickens, and School continues. School becomes a way to make friends with each other. They are Lab partners in School who become close friends. Finally, they become a couple , and date each other .

The teens are in a dormitory situation, while they attend school in France. A lot of teens start dating each other , and they branch out visiting famous sites around Paris. For instance, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, Seine River, the Louvre Museum of Arts, the Champs de Elysee where many shops and cafe are located. Notre Dame is visited because of the famous stained glass windows, and gargoyles, high ceilings too. The Cathedral is an example of Gothic architecture worldwide. When you look inside of the Cathedral, your breath is taken away from the beauty.

This novel is a good read, and I recommend the n novel.


What Can't Wait By: Fishley Hope Perez

The title of the novel caught my eye, so I began reading it trying to decipher the story line was about. It turned out a Mexican lived in a run down neighborhood in Houston,Texas . Immigrants wanted to make ends meet rather, than accomplishing a College Education. Marisa is the main teen character in the novel. She is very bright , and wants to attend College.

In fact, Marissa makes it into the School of Engineering in Austin, Texas. This means she will live on campus, and be far from the home she grew up in.

Marisa has a good friend that later becomes her boyfriend called Allan. He is Mexican, and will attend a College in Houston, Texas. In this novel, a dance like a prom occurs, which is exciting for the student that attend High School. Marisa's family expects her to work, and give her wages to the family. Marisa has to give her wages to her Father.

There are many incidents throughout the Novel. I recommend the novel . It is a good read. Read the novel yourselves to find out the final ending.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Unthinkable by Shirley Duke

If you're looking for a quick creepy story, pick up this book. However, if you're looking for substance and an overall satisfying story, this might not be the route to take.

Omar has this problem where he has horrifying visions of people's deaths. He takes these visions and turns them into stories that he posts online because, as far as he's concerned, these are just weird dreams. Suddenly, though, his stories are coming true - starting with the murder of a former friend. Once it happens again, he makes the connection and realizes he needs to stop the images from coming true. When rewriting the story doesn't work, he knows he has to stop the visions - and his own life. Suddenly a girl shows up and she knows what he's going through and knows how to help him, without resorting to suicide. Is she the answer to his prayers, or does she have something sinister up her sleeve.

The book started out pretty good. Being such a short book (only 103 pages) it went by really quickly, but in doing so, lacked certain things like character development and other elements that draw out the story. It could have been slowed down. I would have like to have been invested more in the characters and seen more of the visions and incidents connected to them. However, for a quick chill, it works...up until the climax when we learn the truth. I personally rolled by eyes but maybe my expectations are too high. Then everything got wrapped up in a neat little bow, which seemed to easy - especially when the villain is supposedly "partially immortal." Again, maybe my expectations are too high but I think this novel could have pushed for more.

Based on the size of the novel, I think it's aimed either lower level readers or hesitant readers. It's a scary story simple enough to draw them into the world of reading without overwhelming them. It does a decent job in that aspect. Aiming for simplistic, though, makes it just that - simplistic. I thought the book had more potential than it achieved.