Friday, January 28, 2011

To the Power of Three by Lippman

This isn't considered a teen novel but I see no reason an intelligent, thoughtful teen couldn't appreciate it, especially someone already reading adult literature. The three in the title are girls, perhaps true friends who grew up together and almost made it to graduation together.

The story begins with an unusual school shooting. Initially it appears that one girl, unhappy with not being awarded the lead in the school's musical and in addition having her choice of play thrown out has shot the girl everyone loved, all girls aspired to be, who had been given the lead and perhaps who's parents influenced the choice of play. Then turned the gun on the third girl then herself. But, there is some curious evidence that doesn't fit the scenario. Little by little who the players in this story are, and there are many, come to light. Rumors flying around the school and community keep the investigators searching for the truth or as close to it as they can. Is the right girl being blamed for the shooting? Perhaps the girl who had only received a minor wound to her foot was responsible, her shoes had not been recovered at the crime scene. Would the presumed shooter come out of a coma and be able to tell investigators her story? Just as we slowly learn about the many characters we slowly get as close to the truth of the shooting as possible. We are left to make our own decisions regarding a number of things including pretty rich girl Kat's father's influence on the events and just how a pig slaughter went down and who the unknown witness to events really was. We also find out that however perfect this powerful trio seemed, they were far from perfect and quite good at subtle bullying and promoting cliques.

JDW 1/27/11

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Hostage By: Susan Wiggs

At first the novel is about the great fire in Chicago, that left most buildings downtown destroyed, and families were separated. Panic broke out , and there was looting everywhere.

The main character in the novel Deborah Sinclair is kidnapped by a sailor man on a traveler ( kind of a boat) by Tom Silver for ransom. Tom Silver has an adopted Father. They live in a settlement close to Minnesota. Deborah lives there for six months. Deborah does hard labor for way of life, and tries to get away a couple of times. She is caught each time. Deborah is accustomed to the rich life. Maids & cooks are at her disposal. She also has gone to private Schools, and sort of been brought up as a princess, very spoiled.

Tom Silver believes he can obtain a big ransom for Ms. Sinclair from her father who is super wealthy. The novel goes on in details about Deborah, and letting her go for ransom, and the dealings with her wealthy father.

I thought this was going to be a historical novel, but to me it wasn't.

The novel was interesting, but a bit wordie to me.


Monday, January 24, 2011

The Last Thing I Remember By: Andrew Klavan

The novel is about a teen who is seventeen years old called Charlie West, who is accused of killing his best friend Alex from High School and must appear in a Court of Law. Charlie is given a time in jail for the killing of Alex. Charlie is innocent of this crime, and is thrown into jail. Charlie has a girlfriend Beth that he loves very much. Both of them love each other through all the problems they have. Charlie and his family lives in Centerville, which is a town, where everybody knows everyones' business.

Charlie escapes from jail ,using a truck from the police, his get-a-way. Charlie eventually abandons the prison truck, and goes by foot into the woods, where he feels he is hidden better from the prison guards. Charlie finds a deepish puddle, where he manages to jump into so he is concealed from his enemy,or prison guard. The guards have special dogs looking , & smelling Charlie's scent. When Charlie plunges into the puddle he finds a cave, where he can swim to dry land, and get out, for his escape route away from the prison guards. He walks a long way, and doesn't recognize his surroundings. Charlie hears a young girl about five years old calling her Mother. This is a cue for Charlie to get some food, and rest, and maybe take a shower, and obtain some clean clothes. He asks to use their telephone, and talk to his parents. He finds out his parents have disconnected their phone in their house. The woman of the house who Charlie had found the little girl called her husband. The husband was the Asst. Attorney of Centerville, and knew about Charlie. The wife and young child were scared of Charlie, so they abandon their house in fear that Charlie would kill them. With the Police, and Sheriff surrounding the house Charlie was apprehended, and was taken to jail. He escaped at the front door of jail. Charlie used a car with the key in the ignition.
I will not go further into the details of this novel. I recommend this novel with its mysteries, and intrigues. LD/1/24/11

Before I Fall By : Lauren Oliver

This author writes her first novel which is fantastic, and has a lot of meaning to it. This novel deals with what it means to live, and die.

Samantha Kingston has everything in life. A great boyfriend, three amazing best friends. Samantha has picked at Thomas Jefferson High the best table to eat in the cafeteria of the school. Samantha has the choicest place for parking in the High School lot. She has it all.

Nobody knows, what day is our last day on earth. We must all prepare ourselves for that important day .

Samantha Kingston has no clue that Feb. 12 is her last day on earth. She lives a charmed life with no worries. She figures out her death, which is mysterious. Samantha realizes now after a near death , of all she will loose, or leave behind.

The novel in my mind is good, and a worthwhile read.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Crash Test Love by Ted Michael

Crash Test Love in some ways falls victim to teen cliches but still finds a way in the end to stand out and not fall prey to the predictable.

Henry is the ultimate playboy. He's good with girls - able to read them and figure out who will be an easy hook-up - and has no interest in relationships. All he wants to do is crash Sweet Sixteen parties and find girls. Then he meets one who has him questioning if that's really what he wants out of life. Garrett just moved to town and is done with boys after a recent break-up. As she tries to fit in, the "J-Squad" or the cool girls in school, proposition her with the promise of friendship if she lures Henry into falling in love with her and then publicly breaking his heart. At first she's hesitant but after hearing Henry started a rumor about her, she feels a little payback never hurt anyone. The plan is soon in motion but, of course, they both fall in love and Garrett begins to have second thoughts until it all spirals out of control and they're both left hurt. Will they have a happily ever after or are things just not meant to be for these two characters struggling to figure out how the opposite sex fits into their lives?

Much of the novel seemed to be typical teen cliches - the devious cool girls (we all know about Mean Girls), the bet to break some unsuspecting person's heart, the inevitable falling in love between the predator and prey. That said, it all still worked and I think that the ending saved it from being too cliched by throwing in a touch of reality. One thing I liked was how the author created the main characters' personalities in the way their chapters were written. Henry was into movies so dialogue was written like a script. The author used this format to even show a shift in the character and the way he interacted with the world. However, I didn't really like how he wrote Garrett and her interest in music as randomly the last words would be a song title and the artist in quotes. It was completely random and somewhat annoying. Or else there were "Top three *artist* songs going through my head in relation to *some topic*. I think that it'll really date the book and I wasn't sure if I needed to know the song to get the purpose of the connection or why it was happening. Henry explained why he saw things as a script and I didn't feel Garrett's style was really explained so it was a bit irritating.

This book was a quick read and enjoyable. Despite the cliches it gave a nice dose of reality with regards to relationships.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

First, although Anderson is well respected and popular, I don't especially like stories where issues are more important than character development. The subject is bullying and perhaps emotional abuse.

Tyler, took out his rage over being bullied by vandalizing the school. He received probation and community service for his evil deed. The story starts with both of these mostly out of the way but with an increase in the verbal attacks on him. His best friend is also being bullied by the same group of kids.

The sister of one of the bullies has taken an unexpected interest in Tyler. She sits with him at lunch and texts him. When her girl friends are around though she hangs with them instead. She invites Tyler to a big underage drinking party. Then goes with the girls. Tyler walks there so arrives late. Many are already drunk and making out. Tyler who is on probation and not supposed to be partying and drinking, mostly abstains. Still going is not his brightest decision.

He winds up driving the girl and a boy, both drunk to near toxicity home. Then walking home. Someone from the party has posted not very nice pictures of the girl on the Internet. Tyler is accused. The bullying in school gets out of hand to the point that Tyler is beaten up and made to go to school in isolation though he is not at fault. His computer is confiscated, he considers suicide. His father, who works for the girl's father is fired and takes it out on his already beaten son. From here the story winds down with Tyler deciding to take some control of his life and plan for the future and leave the mess at school behind. jdw 1/15/11

Manifest: a Mystyx Novel by Artist Arthur

This is the first of a trilogy, also my first Kimani Tru novel. Krystal's mother has recently divorced and moved back to her home town. Krystal is upset with mom, most especially because she hasn't answered any questions about the divorce. At her new high school, Krystal who has recently turned fifteen meets to other recently fifteen teens, Sasha, a richie and Jake, a tracker. The three share identical m shaped birthmarks. They also appear to be manifesting super powers for the first time. They form a sort of secret union since they are of different social groups. Jake's grandfather possesses a diary from his wife and some random knowledge about the whereabouts of the powers. Krystal is able to hear and speak with the dead. This is totally freaking her out. One especially persistent ghost is Ricky, a teen who was murdered and he doesn't know by whom and cannot pass into the light until his buddies are cleared and his murder is solved. Two other recurring ghosts already have halos, have moved on but cannot help Ricky. Both are girls who are unsolved murders. One is Trina, Ricky's girlfriend, the other is the red headed crying girl, in turns weepy and angry. The trio start researching Ricky's death and trying to solve the crime. They are also all preparing to go to a school dance with different dates. The girl's dresses are wonderfully described. And, Krystal has begun to receive scary phone messages some accompanied by nude pictures of Trina and the Crying Girl. One more thing, on several occasions first Krystal then all three have been attacked by a trio of angry Crows and have seen wisps of black smoke snaking away while feeling deep dread. An incident at the dance leads Krystal to solve both Ricky's and the girls' murders. As the story closes the trio once again sense the growing dread, the growing evil dark and know they will at sometime have to face and overcome it. Mystify, is the next book in the series. I look forward to reading it. This was an exciting, fast read.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer - Lish McBride

Samhain Corvus LaCroix, just Sam to his friends, seems to be your normal every day kid working in a fast food place. Then one day everything he thought he knew is going to be turned upside down. Sam, Ramon, and Brooke like to play potato hockey, and while they are playing hit a fancy car. The owner comes in later near closing, wanting to know who damaged his car. He spots Sam, and recognizes him as another necromancer, but Sam knows nothing about it. Brooke is killed that night, and her head shows up at Sam's doorstep the next morning. There's a note telling Sam to meet Douglas, the owner of the car, at the zoo. Sam goes and Douglas explains what he is and Sam still doesn't believe him. He then goes to his mom for answers. She explains that he is indeed a necromancer, and his uncle and her bound his powers shortly after he was born. He leaves angry, and tries to find his uncle. Sam discovers that his father remarried and he has two younger step sisters, who are also necromancers. Back home he gets a call from another necromancer, and goes to get some air after the phone call. He is then kidnapped by Douglas, who wants him for his necromancer powers to be used for evil.

I absolutely enjoyed this book. All of the characters blend together nicely to tell a very well written story. This book can stand alone with out any sequels, but there is a part of me that would like one or two more books to continue the story. This was a finalist for the 2011 William C. Morris award, which honors a debut book by a first time author writing for teens.

T.B. 1/13/11

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The Lying Game by Sara Shepard

The author of Pretty Little Liars (PLL) comes back with another mystery series sure to captivate its readers with intrigue and suspicion. This book comes out strong and hopefully the series won't become as big a soap opera as her first series.

Sutton is dead and now a ghost keeping tabs on Emma - her identical twin. However, Emma just found Sutton ever existed. The two lived completely different lives - Sutton rich, popular, great family; Emma a foster child moving from home to home. After Emma discovers Sutton, she goes to find her twin but is quickly mistake for Sutton and no one believes that she's not who they think. It doesn't help that Sutton in notoriously known for pulling pranks and lying. Emma doesn't know what to do, especially when she receives a note announcing that Sutton is, in fact, dead and Emma must play along if she wants to survive. Things get dicey for Emma as suspicion begins to form around her two best Madeline and Charlotte, as well as Sutton's sister Laurel. Any one of them could have killed her. So now, not only does Emma have to keep up the act of playing Sutton, but she has to figure out who killed her sister. In the meantime, Emma learns about the Lying Game which is basically the four of them pulling pranks - some of them pretty awful. New to the game, Emma never knows when something's real and when it's just a prank.

This book was an easy read and pretty captivating. Sure the separated identical twin story is a bit soap operaish, but overall the book isn't too soapy. One thing I found interesting was how the story focuses on Emma being Sutton, but meanwhile you have "Ghost Sutton" watching in and giving commentary, as well as flashes of memories. It was a nice touch. Also, one thing that is better about this book compared to her other series is there's only one story going on. PLL had four story lines and each one got more dramatic - and not always in a good way. Without delving into the secret lives of each character in this book, this book allows for more build up with this story and keeps it more focused. The characters are still new and you almost look forward to learning more about each girl in the next book - it helps the mystery. Keeping this novel limited to the one story helps it develop into a better, stronger story. Also, it'll be easier to pick up the next book months down the line. In PLL there was so much going on you were almost lost after a long period of time with each character's story. Sure the supporting characters could be better developed (Madeline and Charlotte blend together a bit) but it's still new and you don't want to play all your cards in the first book if you hope for a series.

I'm definitely intrigued by this book. I was horribly disappointed by the conclusion of her previous series and can only hope she doesn't go off the wagon in this one too. So far I'm looking forward to the next book.