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