Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison

Lo has a serious obsessive/compulsive disorder which makes her an outsider, mostly at school and very often embarrassed and even immobilized by her rituals. They come in multiples of 3 with 27 being perfect. They include, tapping, repeating words and collecting "junk" in sets and rearranging them looking for the exact right order. Her compulsions apparently went into overdrive when the family lost her older brother. Lo is in AP classes and one boy is interested in her though she can't understand why. One of the popular girls also shows interest but possibly for Lo's smarts rather than Lo the person.
One way Lo spends her time is riding the bus, taking different stops each time, always some multiple of three. So it is that she stops at Neverland, a very run down area with strip joints and homeless "cities". She is considering where to look for more stuff to collect when shots ring out. She runs in terror and gets lost. A girl carrying onions to her mother's restaurant gets her back to the bus station. The following morning, Lo discovers that a girl, Sapphire, was gunned down just where she was standing. The news carried a description of several of her objects known to be missing and of her love of blue lipstick. The next time Lo goes out shopping for her collection its to a flea market where she discovers the objects described in the news, including a necklace that she buys and puts on and a metal butterfly. Lo is compelled to find out what happened to Sapphire, returning again and again to Neverland. She meets a boy known as Flynt there apparently a throw away kid who she cannot quite trust. She meets exotic dancers who sort of knew Sapphire and considers taking a job as a dancer in the same place as Sapphire. She meets a scary man who she runs from. And, she starts getting weird warnings, a dead cat on her door step, signs on her locker for instance. Yet, she cannot stop herself from searching for what happened to Sapphire. There are other murders. Lo tries to tell the cops what she suspects but they say Sapphire's case is closed. One cop believes differently. In the end Lo is nearly killed, learns about true love and about her brother who is gone. The obsessive stuff gets tiring to me but maybe thats the point. The mystery, well I suspected correctly where it was going but that doesn't mean everyone will and it is quite complex. Lo and Flynt are fairly complex characters but no others are. This is an ok story. JDW

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder

This novel written in verse is an easy read that touches on characters coming to terms with a bad hand that life has dealt them.

Amber has something life altering that will be happening tomorrow and she wants this day to mean something. She doesn't want it to be sad and she doesn't want to deal with tomorrow. Rather than spending time with her family who is also dealing with this emotional situation, she goes off on her own. When she visits the aquarium in hopes of watching the sharks and gaining strength from them, she runs into Cade who seems to also be going through something life altering. They spend the day together, making it count and finding strength in each other to face what tomorrow brings.

I've never done a novel in verse before because I've never been a big fan of poetry. This novel was nothing like I expected. Sure it's in free verse poetry form, but it still tells a story. It's not bogged down by being too poetic where you have to dig and interpret for the deeper meaning. It does have its poetic and metaphorical moments, but they work within the story which at times is more reflective of life than a simple sequence of events. That's not to say that it isn't still a sequence of events. This novel goes through the events of a whole day - conversation, interactions, setting, etc. All and all, it is still a story, just told in a form that's not restricted to paragraphs and punctuation. The story pulls you in because you want to know what Amber is dealing with and what Cade is running from. You care for these characters and want them to have happily ever after.

I enjoyed this novel more than I thought. The form makes it an exceptionally easy read and it still has a story that pulls you in.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Uglies: Shay's Story by Scott Westerfeld and Devin Grayson

Uglies is a series written by Scott Westerfeld and has now been turned into a graphic novel. It is a great story and this new form will introduce different readers to series's improtant themes.

Shay (aka Skinny) is an Ugly. In her world, everyone is an Ugly until they turn 16 in which they undergo surgery (also called "the Surge") and become a Pretty. Shay's 16th birthday is coming up soon, but she meets up with a group of Crims and begins to question whether anyone is really ugly or needs surgery. She decides to runaway and live in "the Smoke" which is basically living in nature and avoiding "the Surge." However, it might not be as easy as Shay thinks as a group of "Specials" is out to put a stop to "the Smoke."

I was nervous about reading this book because I have never read any of the other Uglies books. I worried that I wouldn't have the background knowledge needed to understand this world but everything was more or less explained and I could put the pieces together. At first I didn't understand why these normal/pretty people were considered Uglies and initially thought the concept was shallow but as the story progresses, Shay thankfully challenges the idea of Pretties, wondering what's wrong with the way people are. Also, reading the notes at the end of the book (there's an artist's sketchbook section) explains how the theme of these novels is that normal is fine - you don't need to change your looks. The character of Shay does a decent job stressing this point and driving home the theme. I really like how this format opens the door to possibly a different set of readers than the book. I personally never read the books because they're thick and big books turn me off but I had no problem with this graphic novel. It was a quick read with a good story. It has even peaked my interest in the actual novels, which is definitely a good thing.

I enjoyed reading this graphic novel from the Uglies series. I really like the theme and look forward to seeing where the story goes.

The Fault in our Stars By John Green

Hazel was diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at age twelve. She was only given two years to live, but has beaten the odds at age sixteen. Hazel meets Augustus at a cancer support group at the local church. As they get to know each other Augustus reads Hazel's favorite book An Imperial Affliction. Augustus uses his last wish to take himself, Hazel, and her mother to Amsterdam so Hazel can meet the author of her favorite book, Peter Van Hauten. Before they leave on their trip Augustus finds out that his cancer has come back. He doesn't tell Hazel so she can enjoy her trip, but drops the bombshell on the last day.

To me personally, this novel makes a good observation about cancer patients. You almost want to live your life to the fullest, while you can. No matter how long you live you are remembered by those who love you. The novel is fantastic, and I recommend it. The novel is also a good love story along with being a real tearjerker.

LRD/3/21/12 & TB

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Butterfly Clues. By Kate Ellison

Penelope had a nickname "Lo" Marin is her last name she has always loved to collect beautiful things. But in the year since her brother's death, Lo's hoarding has blossomed into a full blown, potentially dangerous obsession. When she discovers a beautiful antique which is a butterfly figurine , and recognizes it as being stolen from a recently murdered girl known as Sapphire.
As we continue reading, Penelope continues with her compulsive behavior, which she has had all her life. Penelope's behavior gets her into trouble, when she witnesses a murder, while wandering dangerous places in C leveland, Ohio collecting items that do not belong to her.

Penelope tries to solve the murder of Sapphire by investigating by herself. She goes to the "Club Tens" investigating, and looking around for clues about Sappphire who had worked there.
Penelope tried out for a job at the Club as a dance girl. She made the job at "Club Tens," but there was a wealthy man, by the name Gordon , who wanted her for himself. This did not happen .

This is the author's first novel. I liked the novel very much. It is a good read.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

There's a problem with this book that bothered earlier reviewers so much that they disliked the book. Evie works for the International Paranormal Containment Agreement - IPCA for short. Exactly what this organization is, how it came to be, why paranormals must be contained is never explained. Evie is best at containing vampires as she can easily identify them even when they are disguised. She has been with the organization for many years even though just a teenager. Evie uses a taser with a sparkly pink handle and a silver knife with a similar sparkly pink handle to render vampires helpless then she puts monitoring ankle bracelets on them and sends them to a containment center. There is lots of paranormal stuff going on so one wonders why containment and how it is determined who gets contained. Most teens, I think can set this aside. Evie is dang good at her job, a kick ass heroine. Being a teenager and always home schooled confined deep underground in the center, she is dying for true teenage experiences. She figures the tv program Easton Heights is a good way to learn how to be a real teenage girl. She does a lot of online shopping, most of which gets cancelled by her "foster mom". Everything about Evie being a teen is funny and a bit of a spoof of real teenage life and just delightful to read. Evie visiting a real high school and seeing her first locker and her prep for prom are especially fun. The story reminded me of Michele Jaffe's book BAD KITTY. There are two male love interests in this story, Reth a very persistent and powerful faerie and Lend son of a water elemental and a human. There is a prophetic poem that seems to be about Evie but maybe not. It predicts lots of death. When many paranormals begin dying with fiery golden palm prints over their hearts - clues point to Evie though initially she is clueless about why and who she really is. She never even knew she was a paranormal so is just finding out about her powers. So as not to give everything away, I have to stop here but the problem of who is killing paranormals and why is neatly resolved still leaving room for more books. This is an Illinois High School Media Association Abraham Lincoln Award nominee for 2013. Don't take it too seriously or you'll likely be disappointed, though JDW 3/17

Angel's hill by TEZUKA Osamu

The story revolves around a mysterious place called "Angel's Island" that resides somewhere on the ocean seas. Living on Angel's Island are a species of merpeople that can live both in the sea and on land. They have the form of a human, but can breathe in water as well as on land. Luna is a princess of this species of mermaid living on Angel's Island, but is exiled for breaking some of their rules. As punishment, she is placed inside a sea shell, and set adrift across the sea.

However she is found by Eji, a kind man which was reminded of his sister when he laid eyes upon her, rescuing her from the terrible fate of being a slave. After much insisting for repaying his kindness, Luna offered herself as his assistance and to try to be a friend to his sister. But unfortunate events take place as Eji's sister is confused for Luna, kidnapped by the very woman that wanted Luna dead.

Eji's journal to recover his sister will uncover secrets from Angel's hill, a big conspiracy and why Luna was sentence to death.

Black Jack by TEZUKA Osamu

Black Jack is the story of an unlicensed greedy doctor. Through out the books shows Black Jack doing some good deed, for which he rarely gets recognition — often curing the poor and destitute for free, or teaching the arrogant a lesson in humility. They sometimes end with a good, humane person enduring hardship, often unavoidable death, to save others. The art is really simple,but entertaining regardless. There is romance, humor and even educational value through out the books. Not only also shows Black Jack's interaction with is patients and the lessons he taught, but you get a look into his past and get to know the character better as well as his motives.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Shelter by Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben is an author better known for adult novels and now has created a series (I'm assuming) for young adults. I've enjoyed his other novels and this one is no different. I look forward to more in his young adult area.

Mickey's life has changed now that he's living with his uncle after his father died and his mom entered rehab. He's in a new town and school, simply trying to fit in. Since that's not enough for the sophomore to deal with, his girlfriend (Ashley) has suddenly gone missing. Then, one day on the way to school, the crazy "Bat Lady" stares at him from across the street and tells him that his father is still alive. As he tries to figure out how what she said is possibly true, Mickey becomes friends with the school losers (Ema and Spoon), enemies out of the basketball captain (Mickey longs to be on the basketball team) and the Chief of Police, and discovers that Ashley's disappearance is far more complicated than he ever imagined.

There is a lot going on in this novel in terms of mysteries. There's Ashley's disappearance, Bat Lady's cryptic message, and the mystery of a butterfly image that keeps appearing places. If I recall correctly from other Coben novels, he does throw a lot in, but it keeps the story going and all comes together nicely in the end. This novel is the same way. It all comes together, although at the end you're left with a bit of a "Huh?" reaction, but I think that's just to create a cliffhanger for another novel (fingers crossed). Everything else gets settled except for a new detail that gets thrown in at the last second, so overall it just creates more appeal. The novel definitely kept me going. It is a quick read with more than enough for teens to relate to (even if some of the moments can be a bit stereotypical - like the dumb, jock bully). Mickey had been introduced in an adult novel (Live Wire) and when the novel began it was in the middle of a lot of things that had already happened (dad's death, mom's rehab, etc.). At first I wondered if I should have read Live Wire, but eventaully things were settled and everything worked out.

I really enjoyed this novel. It had a great mystery that kept on going. You also grew to care about the characters which is important in a successful novel. I definitely look forward more from this series.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Rotters - Daniel Kraus

Joey Crouch has a good life in Chicago. He is a straight A student, plays the trumpet, and lives with his mom. Then his mom dies in a tragic accident. Joey is uprooted and sent to rural Iowa to live with his dad. His dad's house is littered with newspapers and books along with a rotting stench to it that will not go away. The kids at Joey's new school ask him what his dad does because he is supposedly a garbageman, but nobody sees him pick up any trash around the town. His biology teacher uses him as a human guinea pig in class every day. He ignores them to focus on getting good grades. A bump in this road is his dad who buries his homework, his trumpet, or anything else that Joey might need for school. Joey must dig to get his possessions back. Even though he does not realize it at the time his dad is training him to become a digger. Diggers dig up graves to take the valuables that might lie with the dead. The first time he goes out with his dad he helps out more than he thought. Joey is able to get the grieving daughter away long enough so his dad can dig up the father's grave. This act earns him some respect with the other Diggers. As he accompanies his dad on more and more digs, he attends school less and less. Even when Joey does go to class the kids still tease him about his smell and what his dad does for a job. At one point Joey just snaps and decides to take his revenge on his biology teacher and two of the popular kids who harassed him all the time. After he gets his revenge Joey runs away with another digger named Boggs to California.

When I first saw the title I thought it was going to be a zombie book, but after reading the inside cover I found out it was not. This book takes you into the world of grave robbing, a place where many of us probably would not go. As I was reading Rotters, it seemed very similar to The Monstrumologist by Richard Yancey. I believe that readers who liked The Monstrumologist will enjoy Rotters, and vice versa.

T.B. 3/9/12

Monday, March 05, 2012

The Last Song

Ronnie who lives in New York City with her mother and her younger brother are traveling to North Carolina to spend summer time with her father. She has not spoken to her dad for about three years and she is not happy about spending her glorious summer without her friends.

During a first few weeks with her father, she does not have a relationship with him, her younger brother get just fine with their dad.

Ronnie meets Will, he has a passion for volleyball, they become friends and later fall in love. Will helps Ronnie restore her father-daughter relationship and her passion for music. Ronnie later on discovers that her father is very ill, he has cancer. She want to recuperate the days she did not talk to her father, she wants to help him during his finals days.

As the summer comes to an end, is time to go back to school she decides she will stay in North Carolina with her father. Will is very supportive of Ronnie and they make a few changes in their relationship in order to be closer to eachother during school time.

I really enjoy Nicholas Sparks, I enjoy reading romance novels with a twist at the end. I feel this book contain exactly that, a end that the reader will not expect. RPA

Reality Check By: Peter Abrahams

One of the main characters is Cody. He becomes a drop-out in High School. Cody was an active football player, because of an injury he can no longer play. He has been dating Clea, the richest and prettiest girl in school. Her father disapproves so when she gets a B grade on her report card she is sent to Hong Kong for the summer, then to an elite boarding school in Vermont. Meanwhile,, without football he cannot get into school so quits to work in the lumber yard where he had worked over the summer. When Clea disappears while horseback riding, Cody wants to search for her too. Cody traveled in his car with his duffel bag with his belongings to Vermont. Cody arrived at Clea's Dover Academy a few days later. The search for Clea had started and their was Sargent Orton involved, who seemed to be genuinely concerned. The search for Clea was called off after a snowfall. Cody is working as the Sargent's assistant when finds Clea's cellphone in the warming hut in the forest near the school. Cody crosses paths with Agent Brand after he happens on a bar and sees students from the school there. Bran, like Orton and at first likes Cody. Brand offers Cody $500.00 to go back Little Bend, Colorado at once as Brand believes Cody to be in danger. A very wonderful stable caretaker has shown Cody a ledger with various transactions in it. Cody, and Sargent Orton go back to the barn, where the ledger is now missing. Now the Sargent and Cody explored the cider house, where Cody believed Clea was hostage. Cody got locked in a closet, and duct tape was placed over his mouth when he got too close to the truth of what happened to Clea and to some of the horses. I liked the novel, and had no idea what would happen. The novel is a good read.
LD 3/5/12

Sunday, March 04, 2012

The Dead of Winter - Chris Priestley

Michael Vyner lost his father and now has lost his mother. After her death he is taken to live with Sir Stephen, a friend of his father's, and now is his legal guardian. As soon as Michael arrives at Hawton Mere he begins to see strange things. He sees a woman in white along the road to the estate. As he is exploring, he sees a boy in the mirror that is not him. He hears strange sounds coming from a priest hole, where a priest died years ago. Michael even hears what sounds like someone running in the hallway outside his bedroom. As he finds out about the history of Hawton Mere he discovers that Sir Stephen's wife, Margaret, died in the moat surrounding the estate. Once he sees a picture of her he realizes that she is the one he saw on the road, and she is the one outside his window at night. What does the ghost of Margaret want? Why does is seem to only be Michael who can see the ghost and no one else? What other evil might be lurking in the halls of Hawton Mere Estate?

The book is set in Victorian England, as is the way that the characters speak. Don't let the language deter you. Once I got past the first few chapters it becomes a really good ghost story. I didn't want to put it down. The story keeps you interested and wanting to know what will happen next. This is a perfect book to read around Halloween, or when you just want to give someone a good scare.

T.B. 3/4/12

Friday, March 02, 2012

Hold Me Closer Necromancer by Lish MicBride

Sam is going about his life as a fast food worker with a couple of pals who share his apartment and a girlfriend when he has a chance meeting with a very bad man. His life rapidly changes with people insisting he knows all about his powers. He didn't know he had any. He gets captured and thrown into a cage with a hybrid werewolf (female) who is being tested to determine her strength and her threat. In fact, that is exactly why Sam is there. You see Douglas is a very powerful necromancer who wishes to rule the world. Douglas is none too easy on the pair and it is clear they need to escape his grasp. They are surrounded by protections which seems to make that impossible. But with a little help from a cast of wonderful, quirky characters they get it done. There's a lot of humor in this book. Douglas beheads Sam's girl then reanimates just her head which is carried around in a bowling ball bag. Sam has a quick wit and sharp tongue. Ashley, a ghost of sorts, loves waffles and so it goes. The uncomplicated version of this story is that Sam meets and kills a very very bad man and meets a kick ass girlfriend. There is lots of action, nail biting scenes, excitement here. I highly recommend this to anyone at least 14 years old ( there is a little sexy scene in the story). JDW 3/3/12