Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Text Game by Kate Cann

This book is from a publishing house that generates books which are considered short fiction and at a level accessible to all. This book is only 62 pages and is definitely at a lower reading level, although that doesn't mean it lacks in story.

Mel is dating a boy she believes is out of her league. She simply cannot believe he is that into her. Just when she thinks she can put her insecurities away, she receives a text message implying that her boyfriend is cheating on her. At first she tries to ignore it, but then the texts keep coming. Rather than talking to her boyfriend when it began, she wait a while and tries to find proof. Once she has it, she accuses her boyfriend and destroys their relationship with her lack of trust. Now in a deep depression, Mel wonders if there's anything she can do to make things right.

Since this is short fiction, this book obviously lacks some depth in storytelling that you would find in a novel. That does not mean, though, that it isn't good. The story is definitely something that teens can relate to. The prevalence of technology in the lives of teens is growing and it adds a whole new level of bullying and opportunities to cause trouble in another person's life. The message and theme of the book are definitely important. This book will appeal to teens who struggle with reading but want a good story.

Unremembered by Jessica Brody

This is the first book that I read by Jessica Brody, I did not know what to expect but I really enjoyed it !! I thought this book was about a girl who lost her memory and there was going to be a boy in the story trying to help her and then they had a happily ever after. But I had no idea it would turn into a whole different world of sci-fi and mystery which you figure out about along the way!

At the beginning of the book, Sera didn't know or remember anything about herself. Her mind was basically blank. When reading it, I also felt an emptiness and I couldn't connect to her character. But as she started to figure out who she was, she gained a personality and I got more and more into her character.

I was more than halfway through the book when I realized Sera loved Zen. Nonetheless, I thought the relationship between Zen and Sera was absolutely amazing! Their love was so strong that even though scientists erased Sera's memories over and over again and she kept forgetting who Zen was, they still stayed together and she somehow managed to fall in love with him all over again!

This book was a mix between Mystery, Sci-Fi and Romance. It was an absolute thrill to read! I believe this is the first book in a series and I cannot wait for the others to come, is a book that you cannot put down because you just want to finish it in the same day you started it.

RPA 8/27/2013

The Sigh by Marjane Satrapi

The Sigh is a story that is very reminiscent of fairy tales and fables. It is about a young woman named Rose who asks her father to bring her the seed of a blue bean. When he fails, she lets out a deep sigh, which conjured a magical being known as The Sigh. The Sigh gives the father the seed, who is so grateful he tells The Sigh  he'd do anything to repay him. A year later, The Sigh returns to collect his debt - he wants Rose. She agrees to go and ends up falling in love with a mysterious man she meets. However, something tragic happens and she begins a journey to make up for her mistakes that caused the tragedy.

This is a really short book - only 56 pages. It's easily read in one sitting. The book is filled with illustrations that help tell the story. Just as fairy tales and fables had a deeper message, this one talks about the fragility of life and other topics, such as a woman's obsession with a man, the need to protect oneself for sadness, and lengths one will go to get what one wants. It is a quick and enjoyable novel with plenty of subtle depth.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Uglies is the first book in a series and hooks the reader into picking up the next book.

This book takes place in what sounds like the future where everyone is considered ugly until they turn sixteen. On their sixteenth birthday, the person undergoes extensive plastic surgery and is turned pretty. From then on, life is about having fun and being beautiful. Tally, the narrator, can't wait until her birthday which is in a matter of weeks. But then she meets Shay, a teen who doesn't know if she wants to be pretty. Shay challenges the idea that you have to have surgery in order to be considered pretty or happy, especially because your looks aren't the only thing that changes after surgery. She knows of a secret group of people who live in "The Smoke," an area of people who chose not to have the surgery and are happily living in the wilderness. She wants Tally to join her there, but Tally isn't sure if she can live her life as an ugly. On the day of her surgery, something goes wrong. Tally is taken in and told the only way she can have her surgery is if she leads the authorities to "The Smoke." Although she does go to "The Smoke," she battles with whether or not to activate the tracking device which will lead the authorities to them. Things get even more complicated when she learns some secrets about what it really means to become pretty.

This was a really engaging book. It challenges the idea of what makes a person pretty and the power people put on looks. The concept sounds great to a degree - that no one will ever be prettier than another person - but you see how much gets lost when everyone is the same. The novel is about friendship and loyalty and standing up for what you believe in. This book flawlessly gets you thinking while still providing a thoroughly entertaining novel. It connects you with the characters and leaves you longing for more, especially because the drama takes a turn at the end and creates a great cliffhanger. I really enjoyed this novel.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Bunny Drop by Yumi Unita Vol.1

Daikichi a thirty-year-old, headed home for his grandfather's funeral. To his surprise, his grandfather had a illegitimate child with a younger lover.  Everyone was shocked and surprise at the news. A conversation to be based on what the fate of the child would be turned into a sour conversation, due to nobody wanting to take the silent little girl, Rin, in. Fueled by the insensitive comments of his family, Daikichi decides to take child home. It takes him a little bit to adjust to such responsibility, how long would it take you to realize you will be raising your aunt? As Daikichi gets to know more about Rin, the more curious he is about his grandfather.

The art is pretty simple but just fitting enough for the kind of story telling this book it.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Animal Man by Jeff Lemire and Travel Foreman

We get something new from DC. Animal Man!

Buddy,  also known as Animal man, has the unique power to take on the abilities of any animal.  Not only does he has his hero duties to deal with. He also struggles with the challenges of being both a husband and a father.

His troubles really being when his daughter Maxine starts showing her own disturbing powers. Now Buddy begins a journey, leading him to discovering the root of his and Maxine's power. And a war that will depend whenever life will go on.

As this journey continues, Buddy will be question everything he has known about himself, the real origin of his powers and his true identity.

Art by Travel Foreman, shows a much darker side of the DC universe.

Little Girl Gone by Drusilla Campbell

This is an adult book with lots of teen appeal, especially since the three girls in Cleveland escaped from their mentally off kidnapper.
Willis has a mission to keep wayward teen girls safe from being murdered.  To that end, first he takes Madora to an abandoned house in the mountains of Arizona then several years later shows up with a pregnant teen girl he handcuffs and keeps prisoner in a run down trailer behind the house. 
Madora, now in her early twenties was a confused, grieving teen who had lost her father to suicide when Willis took her from a party while she was very drunk.  Madora believes he loves her and she loves him.  But reality appears to be different, she seems a slave to his every wish.  Linda was begging for food at the edge of a highway when Willis picked her up and imprisoned her.  She is very clear eyed as to what kind of a creep Willis is. 
Willis, a high school drop out and a veteran trained as a medic, believes it is his right to be a doctor like his father.  He ekes out a living as a caretaker for elderly folks.  He says they like him and give him gifts. He also works as a sometimes orderly.  He does not allow Madora to work saying she has to care for the tied up Linda. When he takes on another patient, he crosses paths with Django who recently moved in with his aunt after the tragic deaths of his parents. 
Django is determined not to go back to the new school where students rejected him on the first day.  He has seen what a creep Willis is and decides to investigate where he lives.  This brings Django in contact with lonely Madora and a stray pit bull puppy named foo that she cares for and about. 
On a day when nothing goes right for Willis, he loses his temper and beats Madora up.
Django had already put ideas in her head about escaping and setting Linda free.  This is the turning point of the story.  Lives unravel and reassemble rather differently than they were before.  Madora has hope for a future, Django helps her a lot.  He and his aunt forge a friendship.  We do not really know what happens to Linda.  We do know that Willis had had his eyes on yet another teen girl to kidnap but instead is spending time in prison.
I think Jody Picoult fans may like this one.  Its a quick, easy read with a controversial subject that really held my attention.  Absolutely read this!
JDW 8/13

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Columbine by Dave Cullen

This book is about the Columbine school shooting in 1999. This book is a well-rounded account of what happened at the school, the shooters, victims, and investigation.

On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold brought guns and bombs to their high school and killed thirteen people and injured multiple others. They had an elaborate plan to outdo the disasters of Waco, Texas and Oklahoma City, but many of the plans fizzled out due to technical errors. While the death toll wasn't as high as they hoped, the lives they changed were numerous. Many of the injured faced struggles to recover and the families of the victims would never be the same, nor would the parents of the killers. With the killers dead, the investigation should have been open and shut, but larger questions loomed, like what led the boys to this point? As the truth about the boys and their evolution emerged, people couldn't help but wonder if this could have been prevented. This novel addresses how the boys got to April 20th, as well as the victims' struggles to move on and get their answers they need.

The attack on Columbine is one of those moments in history that affected the nation. It seemed to be one of the first major attacks on a school, and while there have been many afterwards and even bigger ones, such as Virginia Tech in 2007, Columbine has made a lasting effect on history. I work in a school, and you can see how the events in 1999 set forth a reform to classroom procedure. Reading this novel, there didn't seem to be any kind of procedure for teachers and students. Now, though, on top of tornado and fire drill, schools practice lockdowns. It even changed the way police handle these types of situations.

I felt as though this book did an excellent job recreating the event without glorifying the killers. While I read this book, the  account of what happened on April 20th sent chills up my body to realize the horrors that people went through and the coldness of the killers. In general, I found this book fascinating, especially to realize all of the warning signs, particularly from Eric, and how maybe it all could have been prevented. As chilling as it was to read about the killers' downward spiral, it was encouraging to see the victims rebuild their lives and yet heartbreaking to see many struggling.

Non-fiction is not my genre of choice, but this book held my attention and even had me looking online for more information. While this book does not serve create a profile for teen shooters, this book is eye-opening and worth the read.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

The Haunting of Gabriel Ashe - Dan Poblocki

Gabe and his family have lost everything when a fire consumes their apartment.  They move in with Gabe's famous grandmother.  She did illustrations for the well-known horror author Nathaniel Olmstead.  Gabe and Seth, the next door neighbor, start playing a game in the woods behind their houses.  They are princes looking for their enemy called The Hunter.  Before school starts Gabe is invited to a pool party at Felicia's house.  He goes over with Mazzy and everyone has a good time.  Just as everyone is about to leave all their bags and towels are thrown into the pool.  No one sees anything, but Gabe suspects Seth since he wasn't invited.  Seth and Gabe are playing their game after school on Friday, and Seth uses a M-80 to blow up a pile of rocks.  The next morning the pile of rocks is rebuilt.  Gabe tells Seth to fess up about rebuilding the pile, or Gabe will stop playing the game.  At school the following Monday Seth avoids Gabe until lunch when he tries to get Gabe to not sit with his friends. Seth then pours chocolate milk onto Felicia and takes off from school.  Gabe sees Seth after he gets home.  Seth warns him that the Hunter will come for him.  A few weeks later Malcolm is over to watch horror movies with Gabe.  The doorbell rings and Gabe thinks it's Seth playing a trick.  It turns out to be Mazzy, Felicia, and Ingrid coming over unexpected.  Gabe gives them a tour of the house and shows them the puppet his dad is working on.  All the sudden it comes to life.  They hear a growling sound from inside of the puppet.  Everyone thinks it is Seth playing a trick on them.  The next morning the puppet is missing and Gabe thinks Seth took it. He and his parents go over to Seth's house, but they can't find it there.  At school the science lab rat has disappeared.  When it appears again only the bones remain.  The Tuesday before Halloween Felicia's death by chocolate cake is blown up by a M-80 at the school bake sale.  The Wednesday night before Halloween almost everyone is visited by a ghost.  The next morning everyone at school is talking about the ghostly visitor.  Thursday night Gabe's Grandmother tells him about Mason, the man behind the story of The Hunter.  Is it really The Hunter causing all of this mayhem, or is it Seth using the story of The Hunter to cover up what he's really doing?

I enjoyed this book.  As I was reading it was like a horror movie in my head instead of on a movie screen.  I even had a few chills when Gabe's grandmother told the story about Mason.  The ending of the book is sad.  It wouldn't be a horror story without a death now would it?

T.B. 8/6/13