Monday, January 30, 2012

Are You Going to Kiss Me Now? by Sloane Tanen

What would it be like to be stranded on an island? What would it be like to be stranded on an island with a bunch of skill-less celebrities? Such is the premise of this novel about survival - both in the wilderness and in Hollywood.

When Francesca hears that her father is having a baby with his new girlfriend during a separation from her mother, her writes a fictional story in which she's dealing with his death - a story that wins her a trip to Africa with a bunch of celebrities. All she has to do is document what happens, which seems like a dream come true until the plane crashes in the middle of nowhere. Now she's on a island with Jonah - a Christian pop singer, Cisco - a teen heartthrob, Chaz - a celebrity gossip columnist, Eve - a young celeb dealing with personal drama, Milan - a teen diva, and Joe the adult actor role model. As they try to survive on the island, the truth about each character comes to life as they deal with the thought that they might never be rescued. To cope with trauma, Francesca makes note of all of these soul baring revelations in pretend text messages to her friend at home (although there's no reception so she'll never get them, right?) Will the celebrities make it off the island or will nature be too much for these celebrities?

This is a cute novel that delves into the people's vulnerabilities and desire to keep up appearances, especially when you're a product of the public eye. The book touches on a lot of problems from drug addictions, homosexuality, affairs, illegitimate children, and simply what it means to be scrutinized by the public. I think it did a nice job handling the topics and having the characters grow on the island. At times it becomes boggled down by celebrity name dropping. Also, in the beginning Eve and Milan were interchangeable. I had a hard time remembering which female burned down the house and which one had a drug issue. Could that be commentary on female celebrities or weak character development, I don't know, but come the end of the novel they were a little bit more distinct. Besides those two, all of the other characters were nicely developed with clear motivation.

This is a quirky novel that explores not only the difficulties of surviving in the wilderness completely unprepared, but also the secret, extreme lives of some not-so-picture-perfect-celebrities. In a way it's a tabloid reader's dream novel - even if the celebrities are fictional. It was definitely a fun book that in the end is not all fluff.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Fracture - Megan Miranda

Eleven minutes, that is how long Delaney Maxwell was under the icy lake water. She lies in coma for six days with her parents and best friend Decker never leaving her side. After she wakes up everyone is astonished that she is alive. Her brain scans show something is wrong, but Delaney feels fine. Except there is this pull in her head. She can sense when someone is close to dying. She tries to ignore it, but the pull brings her to an elderly neighbors house the first night she is back home. She sees a figure going around the house and then her dad comes out and brings her back inside. When the neighbor dies the next day, her parents accuse her of having something to do with her death. Delaney says she had nothing to do with the neighbor dying, and her parents drop the accusations. As she catches up on school work and studies for finals she encounters Troy, another person who was in a coma, and woke up being able to sense when someone is about to die. Delaney discovers that Troy helps the elderly die quicker, instead of having prolonged suffering. She is horrified and tries to tell Decker what is going on, but their friendship is on the rocks. Mainly because he thinks she is with Troy, and he doesn't know how to tell her he is in love with her. When her friend Carson dies in her arms, Delaney begins to question why she is still alive and why someone with so much promise has to die so young.

I liked this book, and would put it in the creepy category. There were parts in the book that gave me chills down my spine as I read it. You really didn't know what to expect with Troy. One minute he is this nice guy who works with elderly people. The next he is causing them to die quicker. You do not know whether to hate him or like him. What would you do if you could sense when someone is going to die?

T.B. 1/29/12

Friday, January 27, 2012

Where Things Come Back by John Corey whaley

Much as Robert Mccammon's book BOY'S LIFE swirls around a boy and his reaction to a brutal crime that happened nearby so this story swirls around Cullen and the weeks just before and after his brother Gabriel disappears. There is a plot line involving Cabot Searcy that kept me wondering how this very weird guy fit in until the final pages. There is a plot line involving the suspected spotting of the long extinct ivory billed woodpecker and all the excitement surrounding that. Cullen's family is reeling from the loss of a son, nephew, cousin to a drug overdose making the loss of Gabriel all the harder. Cullen dates but doesn't really care about a couple of local girls and continues to hang out with his long time best friend. And so the summer passes and plans begin to be made for the year to come. I don't think this book is as good as Mccammon's or as Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine has similarities. Teens don't enjoy those two titles, though adults who read literate novels do. I doubt they will seek this book out. This title is the author's first. Its hard to categorize this title since no single subject stands out predominantly. Perhaps he is someone to watch, to see what he comes up with next? This title won the Prinz for best teen book of 2011. JDW 1/27

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Fault In Our Stars - John Green

Hazel is a survivor of thyroid cancer. She goes to support group once a week at the local church. It is here that she meets Augustus Waters, a friend of Isaac, who is another support group attendee. One could say it was love at first sight. After the meeting Augustus says that they should go and watch V for Vendetta. Before the movie they talk about their favorite books. Hazel's is An Imperial Affliction, and Augustus's is The Prince of Dawn. They read each others books. Hazel continues reading The Prince of Dawn series. Augustus has the same reaction she did after finishing An Imperial Affliction. It is one of those books with an open ending waiting for a sequal to be written. Augustus uses his dying wish to take Hazel, her mom, and himself to Amsterdam to meet Peter Van Hauten, the author of An Imperial Affliction. A few weeks before they leave Hazel goes back into the hospital with fluid building in her lungs. After she's released her doctor says no to her traveling until she is better. Strings get pulled by Hazel's doctor and the trip is back on. The day they meet Peter Van Hauten doesn't go the way they thought it would. He is a drunk and barely remembers that he was meeting Hazel and Augustus. He won't answer Hazel's questions because that would mean writing another book, which he won't do. On the last day of their trip Augustus tells Hazel that his cancer has come back, and there isn't long before he's gone.

I absolutely love and enjoyed John Green's latest book, along with the rest of his YA novels. It was raw, emotional, and moving. The reader feels like they are a part of the story, and not just looking in from the outside. Words can not express how powerful this book is. Make sure you have a tissue handy because you will need it.

T. B. 1/24/12

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Scones and Sensibility by Lindsay Eland

This novel is a slightly overdone comedy of errors that tries to be unique and quirky but sometimes come across with too much flavor for my palette.

Polly is in love with the romances of Anne of Green Gables and Pride and Prejudice. Lost in those worlds right down to her dress and speak, Polly takes it upon herself to insure that this summer all those around her are happily in love. She decides it is up to her to find a love connection for her best friend Fran's father, two elderly neighbors, and her sister (although her sister already has a boyfriend, but Polly doesn't approve). While working deliveries for her family's bakery, she's on the prowl for future spouses, using yummy bakery goods to seal the deals. Some cases work and some - or most - go horribly wrong when Polly refuses to admit that maybe she doesn't know what's best for others.

While this story has been done before, the predictability of the scenes is not as troublesome as the main character. Her obsession with these two novels was cute at first but quickly became annoying. If the reader doesn't have background knowledge of the two books, it might take away from the charm. Beyond the way she talks and tells the story, she's so oblivious that you wish someone would stand up and give her a reality check she desperately needs. Even when it finally comes, she doesn't completely learn her mistakes. I personally didn't find her a very likable character - she interfered too much for me to hope she succeeded.

The story itself works as a comedy of errors but the main character is a little too sweet and quirky for my taste buds. If an off-the-wall matchmaking book is what you're looking for, though, this book will satisfy your needs.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Once a King, Always a King by Reymundo Sanchez

Once a King, always a king based in Humboldt Park a community in Chicago is the second book from My Bloody life. Reymundo better know as Lil' Loco. Describes us how he is trying to become a better person to society and to himself. But how difficult it is to attempt to escape the only lifestyle he has known all his life. How difficult is for him to keep a job from staying away from drugs and alcohol with no education other than his high school diploma. Reymundo who he has no family support, ends up doing time for covering some else on a drug charge. During time in jail he tells us how he wants to get out and find a job and recover from all the partying and drugs. Until he meets Marilyn, a very smart student at University of Illinois at Chicago and beautiful. Rey gets to know her a friendship blossoms and they fall in love. They decide to move out of state to Dallas to start a new life for both of them but this plan never really works out since their past hunts them. Marilyn has her own issues, her own dark past involving her family mostly her father that at the end disrupts her relationship with Rey. They end up braking up their relationship and going their separate way. At the end of the book he explains how having no support from his family, having a mother that was dependent on men and how his childhood violence end up being and influence on him for his gang lifestyle. How difficult was to stop socializing with gang members because everyone knew him as one. Rey tells us that he has a new life, a new family of his own and he loves his family. He has almost no contact with his mother or sisters or the rest of his family just because he decided to move on. Also how his past still hunts him during his dreams at night and the aggressive behavior he created during the gangbanging days have to be controlled with medication. All in all I really like the book not because how detail it is but because the book can send a message how the gangbang lifestyle ruins lives not just the gang member lives but others around him and the community. RPA

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Animal Land Vol.2 by Makoto Raiku

Continuing from Volume 1

Animal land vol.2 continues the adventures of Monoko and the human baby name "Taroza". Along with the wild cat Kurokagi. Even though they had surpass various predators there are still more out there. Specially in winter when a pack of wolves are looking for anything that can fill their bellies. Taroza will do his best to convince the canines that there is more to the world than hunter and pray. Taroza it's willing to make this come through even thought his ability to speak animal cries it's a curse rather than a blessing.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey

This is quite similar to the TV series titled Ghost Whisperer. Lenzi, as it turns out is a reincarnated 'speaker". Someone chosen by the IC to assist hindered souls in moving on. With the soul of her protector inside guarding her, she talks with these souls and does whatever needs to be done to allow them to rest. At outset she does not know any of this, she fights when her protector approaches her to get things moving. Ordinarily reincarnates remember their pasts but Lenzi does not. Eventually she first trusts then falls in love with her protector, dumping her long time boyfriend in the process. The way that goes down seems mean for a good spirit like herself. Alden, her protector, disobeys rules to save Lenzi from the angry boyfriend. He then must face a disciplinary committee and perhaps be destroyed forever. Lenzi helps the boyfriend move on as a hindered soul. She gets on with assisting souls and even resisting a malevolent spirits that carve words into her skin. There are exorcisms involving holy water and several other protectors. Lenzi has a personal malevolent soul which has yet to be made to cross over permanently. There is one nasty encounter with this soul. This IC board has quite a list of rules and points to be gotten and seems kind of silly to me. Actually if I think too hard about this the entire story is a bit corny. Its all derivative. I can point to the movie the Exorcist for some of the material here for instance as well as Ghost Whisperer mentioned above. Having said that, the paranormal genre is very popular with teens now so perhaps teens not familiar with the tv show and movie and other bits gotten from elsewhere could get into it. Except for Lenzi's personal malevolent soul things are pretty well resolved in the end but I suspect there will be a trilogy here anyway. jdw 1/3/12