Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Maybe, because I haven't finished the book.
Monday, September 29, 2008
I could not put this book down, and one boy who checked it out from the library was done with it within a few days and gushing to me about it, so I assume it has teen appeal. There is a set up for other books to come, but this book clearly stands on its own. I give it a big thumbs up and it is one of the two best books I've read this year.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
This rarely talked about and I think misunderstood topic is given a good reading in Afrika. Kim, the daughter of an expatriate South African, returns to that country with her mom who is reporting on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Kim, who grew up in Canada, doesn't know who her father is and why her mom left South Africa in the first place. Throughout the book the reader learns about the effects of apartheid, both past and present. It was interesting to me to see how the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was received and what life was like for both whites and blacks post apartheid. That said, I don't think this book has too much teen appeal. The search for her father gives a plot to the book and I think it would be a good one to read for a school unit on Africa (or racism), but I'm not sure too many kids would pick it up on their own. I give it a low maybe.
I found the story and the detail wonderfully tied together with the setting. The exterior world of ice and snow matches the interior of Genesis's struggle. She is frozen in uncertainty, waiting for the thaw - and the author does an excellent job of meshing the two. I feel that Season of Ice is a compelling read that was very well written. Thumbs Up.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Kari and Lucas are best friends who share a love for art. When Kari's mother gets a writing gig in France, the girls come along. When visiting a Rembrandt exhibit at a Paris museum, they find themselves swallowed in a mystery involving a possible forgery (the third Lucretia). Later, the mother is pulled in, and their mystery takes them to Holland.
This was a fun read. I was pulled along, wondering what would happen next, though I often wished that the last sentence or two of every chapter had been omitted. This is a book that I would be very comfortable recommending to folks, but doesn't seem to stand up as a permanent contribution to teen literature. Thumbs down.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Leslie thinks that having a tattoo will help her feel like she owns her own body and give her confidence. Instead, the tattoo she chooses makes her the consort of the king of the Dark Court in the Faerie world. He feeds off her negative emotions and though she feels no negative feelings, she's not happy either. In fact she's addicted to the King. Can she escape the faerie world? Does she want to? I had read the predecessor to this book, Wicked Lovely, and this one does stand alone. Characters of the first book appear and the world Marr created is the same, but this is a different story. I had some problems with some of details of this one. I didn't get Leslie's role or appeal. So though it stands alone, I still give it a Nay
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
Patron Saint of Butterflies may appeal to young and older teens who took an interest in the removal of children from the desert compound in Eldorado, Texas earlier this year.
Agnes wants to be a saint. Honey is absorbed by learning about and seeing butterflies. They live in a religious compound, Agnes has two parents and a brother on the compound and Honey is an orphan. The brainwashing and blind following of the seemingly hypocritical "father" of the group is bile-fetching.
It is amazing that Honey would have such a sense of self and right despite the limited positive adult role models among the brainwashing. The alternatives to living in the commune could have been more detailed, but perhaps that would have come across as preachy. Although Honey saw the hypocracy of Veronica and Emmanuel, no other Believers question it. Following the events in Eldorado, some folks might be up in arms against this book, others against cult communes.
This doesn't have the warm fuzzy feeling of Schooled. It serves a different purpose, reflecting the depth of struggle between the pull of family, self-preservation and a sense of justice.
As Josh said at the meeting, there isn't a lot of dialogue and the graphic novel conveys much of the story in the illustrations.
I would say this is an excellent contender for Thumbs Up 2009. My only concern is the level of teen appeal. It is for an older reader (through adult). Some readers may object to the nakedness which is not meant to be titillating, but demonstrates the (au) natural openness of family. The discussion that could arise from a deep reading of Three Shadows has the potential to be quite profound and insightful.
Charlotte Usher dies at the moment she thinks her dreams are coming true. So her soul/ghost is having trouble detaching from the living.
Each of the dead have names associated with their death, favorite activities. Here's the passage that encapsulates the type of humor and made me laugh out loud. "DJ was spinning platters in the air, aiming the old vinyl LPs like buzz saws at Simon's and Simone's heads. Silent Violet sat at a desk ramming a finger down her throat like a determined bulimic, searching for her voice...Suzy Scratcher absentmindedly carved "wash me" into Rotting Rita's back as Rita grabbed at maggots crawling from her nostrils, rolled them in her fingers, and flicked them at Mike and Jerry, who held their thumbs and pinkies up like goalposts." (233-234)
So Charlotte is annoying and whiny and not particularly likable. I liked Scarlet and her goth spunkiness. The rules and "group goal" is interesting. I'm hoping there will be a greater wealth of superb titles to choose from, but if not, this may have a chance for consideration among what I've read so far. MAYBE
Gecko Fosse drove the getaway car.
Terence Florian ran with the worst gang in Chicago.
Arjay Moran killed someone.
All three boys are serving time in juvenile detention centers until they get a second chance at life in the form of Douglas Healy. A former juvenile delinquent himself, Healy is running an experimental halfway house in New York City where he wants to make a difference in the lives of kids like Gecko, Terence, and Arjay.
Things are going well, until one night Healy is accidentally knocked unconscious while trying to break up a scuffle among the boys. Terrified of the consequences, they drop him off at a hospital and run away. But when Healy awakes, he has no memory of them or the halfway house. Afraid of being sent back to Juvie, the guys hatch a crazy scheme to continue on as if the group leader never left. They will go to school, do their community service, attend therapy, and act like model citizens until Healy's memory returns and he can resume his place with them.
But life keeps getting in the way...like when Gecko finds romance. Or Arjay gets famous. Or Terence starts reverting to his old ways. If the boys are discovered, their second chance will be their last.The premise of this book is very promising, but I did have some problems. Some of the third person narration read kind of awkward at times and it took awhile for me to really feel for the characters. Also, this book lacks some of Korman's normal humor. That said, by the end I was invested in the characters and actually felt nervous for them during the climax. Right now this is a high maybe for me, but I would be really interested to see what other people think.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
This book, by Hope Anita Smith, tells the story of a family where the dad has "walked out" on the family, but has returned. The story, told in verse, is from the perspective of CJ, the oldest child in the book. CJ is trying to understand why his father had left the family and is trying to adjust to his father's reappearance. Without being over-the-top, we see the how this family has been altered by this change and that reunion is not as simple as having everyone together at the dinner table. While this book is a quick read, it is nuanced enough to stay in the mind for awhile. Anyone who has been subjected to a major change as a result of someone else's actions could relate to the book. I give it a thumbs up.
This first novel by author Bodeen is a truly gripping thriller. Eli, 15 years old, and most of his family have been locked away for the last six years in a massive underground shelter built by his billionaire father. Life on the outside has been destroyed by a nuclear war that also claimed the lives of Eli's twin brother and grandmother who were unable to make it to the shelter in time. They have 9 years to go before the door to the shelter can be unlocked but they are running out of supplies and won't last much longer. But then Eli makes a shocking discovery that changes everything.
I really enjoyed this book. It has appeal for a variety of teens, both guys and girls. The plot twists and turns and will leave you shocked in the end. Eli struggles with standing up to his tyrannical father to do what's right and save his family. All in all, a darn good yarn. I vote yay.
As far as road trip novels go, this one is lots of fun! There are alligators, pirates and a potential hurricane. How much more adventure do you want? :) Still, it is rather light but highly enjoyable. This one will soon fade into the recesses of my mind, though, so I vote nay.
Pete, Pauley, twins Alex and Nicole, and Raymond used to be tight. As they have grown up, they have grown apart. It's the summer before they all leave town for various reasons be it college or other pursuits. Nicole calls Pete and wants them to all get together one last time. Even though Raymond is and has always been the outsider of the group, Pete insists upon dragging him along. They start drinking and things quickly turn bad. There's a fight and the group splinters apart. A local celebrity is murdered and Raymond goes missing. He's soon accused of the murder.
I have never been much of a Kevin Brooks fan. I had high hopes for this book after reading a review because it sounded so intriguing. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. It's a very dark novel and there isn't any resolution in the end and there doesn't seem to be much that is positive or redeeming. I vote Nay.
This story is about two sisters, Claire and Natalie. It's the summer before Claire leaves for college. For Natalie, it's a summer of friends, fun and work but nothing special. Then there is an accident and everything changes. The would you from the title comes from the game Would You....would you rather know what's going to happen? Or not know? This is a very poignant look at one family's struggle when their lives are turned upside down. I say it's a strong maybe. I would definitely like other opinions.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Morning becomes the poster child of vampires mainstreaming in the 21st century. He has to deal with being 16 forever, attraction to girls, and his dreams of his future.
The writing was generally good, especially with imparting the jokes and the banter. There were some shifts in perspective that were irksome (including a note from Portia 'aka the author' on the inside flap, but the book isn't from her perspective, but maybe that was out of Meehl's control). At some points Meehl speaks directly to the reader, but it feels awkward p 203 "He'd also found time for a light snack. In vampire parlance, 'a light smack'." His puns were amusing.
I wasn't convinced of Morning's fall after all he'd been through - seemed a bit improbable.
I also recognize that I wasn't in the most open frame of mind either, so recognizing that I could be hypercritical on this one, I'm giving it a MAYBE.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
As I said - it really seems like this book is intended for a much younger audience. It also took me forever to get through - just didn't captivate me. Nay.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Twelve year old Addie's parents' recent separation has split not only her father-in-law and mother, but Addie from her step-siblings. A driving force between the break-up is likely whatever mental illness drives her mother to spend all her waking hours on the Internet looking for "business opportunities". Dwight, the step-father, has without obligation sprung for a yellow trailer in the city in which mother and daughter will live, and sends monthly checks that usually catch flight once they're in "Mommers'" hands. At a service station across the street friom the trailer, Addie befriends Soula and Elliot. Soula is in chemo, and Elliot dates the owner of a local restaurant. When her mother's business opportunity finally arrives, Addie is often left home alone for days on end. She even resorts to packing empty cereal boxes with thumbtacks to cover when her grandfather comes over to check up on her. She has managed to mature beyond her years, but maturation isn't enough to avoid a terrible accident that will eventually alter her and her family's way of life.
I really enjoyed Waiting for Normal. Addie's strong character really appealed to me, and the heartiness of Soula and Elliot was also endearing. I think it holds it's own - and I'm willing to give it a thumbs up at this time. We'll see how that stands down the road.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
From back cover: Chiyoharu used to be the leader of the troublemakers, until one day an innocent prank results in a major fire at the school. When his three cohorts take the blame and are expelled, Chiyoharu tries to go on with his mundane life, beating himself up with guilt. Then he meets the mysterious, muscle-man Souza of the North Wind and a ditzy self-proclaimed detective who are trying to solve the mystery behind Souza's amnesia...
It is billed as nonstop action comedy, and there is frequent action, especially with the characters yelling at each other. Chiyoharu is slowly remembering where he's seen the image on the back of Souza's shoulder told in flashbacks. The teacher that Chiyoharu has a crush on is having money troubles. There competition among Chiyoharu's friends about what to do when they are together - is reading manga rude when other people are talking or playing Playstation?
I can't see it standing on its own as a solitary title, and don't see it as a significant contribution to teen literature, although I do see it's appeal for manga, and there are positive messages in the storyline which will continue to unveil as the series progresses. NAY
This is the second novel of the young Sherlock Holmes. His mother is dead, his father wants nothing to do with him, blaming Sherlock for his wife's death. Sherlock is forswearing personal connections as this puts others at risk who could be close to him, yet he craves relationships with people.
It is fascinating to observe Sherlock's journey as he accumulates knowledge, develops proficiency with weapons, and hones his uncanny knack at observation and recall. He is manipulative, skilled and yet still a young adult.
I found this book to be more interesting and better written than the first in the series. I enjoyed seeing Sherlock's young life, contrasting it with the character I know through BBC renditions of the detective and seeing how Peacock explains how Sherlock becomes the man he is known to be through film and Doyle's stories. What I cannot evaluate is how this story will stand on its own since I've read the first one and how someone unfamiliar with Holmes might take the story without the broader context of this famous literary character. The first volume, I deemed too young for our group, but this one has a greater mixture of gore, violence and suspense that it fits into our age category.
I need others to weigh in on this. MAYBE
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Twins, Pen and Percy must use their magic to save their governess, Ally, from men forcing her to use her magic against the Princess Victoria in 1937 England. It is part mystery and romance with a dash of fantasy added. It is a decent book but not great. I vote nay.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
A slightly clumsy, self-conscious young woman is starting at a new high school. On her first morning she meets a gorgeous, bronze-haired young man who makes her heart start to pound. But, he is obviously hiding some secret that makes him distant and potentially dangerous. No, this is not a Twilight re-cap, it is the actual beginning of Evernight by Claudia Gray. There was one surprising event, but it was so poorly conceived that it made the protagonist seem like two different characters altogether. Throw in names that are intentionally "fancy" and you have a so-so vampire-love story with no award potential. Nay.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Catherine "Cat" Royal lives in the Theater Royal in Drury Lane, London. This was an excellent historical fiction - an Regency England novel from the point of view of one of the lower class. Cat gets tangled up in a an adventure with a diamond, an artist in disguise, some lords, a lady, and the local gangs. Told by Cat, this novel follows the form of a play with "Acts" and "Scenes," "Principal Characters," and "The Critics." Cat's glossary at the end explicates her slang to her regency readers. So a creeper is a "louse, toady" and taggle-tail is a "slatternly woman." Our teens today might need to look up some of the definitions! I thought this had a lot of appeal, was fast moving, and clever. I vote yea.
A sequel to Once Upon a Marigold, the evil queen is back . . . and now what should Christian, Marigold, and King Swithbert do? This was a delightful romp that explores what happens after "happily ever after" - cute and fun. But it didn't completely stand alone and I don't think that this is of permanent value to the genre. I vote nay.
Geena and her two best friends (who haven't met before) are in for a summer of working together at Triple Shot Betty (a drive-through coffee shop). Guys, gals, drinking, and sex are all a part of this one big summer. While this book didn't personally appeal to me, I did end up liking it . . . but I don't think that it fits for Thumbs Up - not a permanent contribution to the genre. I vote nay.
Monday, September 1, 2008
I have read some great reviews of this book. I'm sure others will find it more appealing. Its just not up my alley.
I posted a really long review, but now that I've gotten it out of my system, lets just say I don't like how the author portrayed Obesity as the opposite of Anorexia. The girls are not treated equally as outcasts.. the heavy girl basically gets the extremely short end of the stick.
Nay, if you haven't guessed that yet.
Lynda is known for her comic strips/books, but here amidst colorful and creative art, she doesn't try to teach drawing. Frankly, she isn't teaching WRITING either, but her biographical sketches and clever writing exercises help readers understand the processes (and circumstances) that lead to creative expression. I personally wish I had more time to write and doodle in my old journals, and this book reminded me of the pleasure I got from those free-form story-writing exercises. I look forward to using this book in our library's new teen writing group, and I hope everyone gets a chance to crack this open and take a look. Yay.
Here is a recent interview with the author if you would like to know more about her.