Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper

Kate is a mixture of her divorced parents. Both parts practicality and passion for Shakespeare. After her heart was broken, she swore off love. But now she was won an essay contest that sends her and her Shakespeare scholar father to Verona Italy for the summer. Classmates are trying to fix her up. She and a fellow classmate are tricking the rest. A lot of Shakespearean twists and turns are sprinkled through out the book. That being said, I can't finish it. I've tried to read it several times now and just get bored. It probably doesn't help that I don't care for Romeo and Juliet and the comedies of Shakespeare's I've read. And this book has a lot of that flavor. I think you have to be familiar with Shakespeare and appreciate him to appreciate this book. I'm nay.

Triskellion by Will Peterson

I realized that I didn't post on this book. I don't remember a lot of details other than my impression, so to push things along for our December meeting, I'm posting the Kirkus review which nicely sums up the plot (with a few ***spoilerish*** details)

Author Mark Billingham and television scriptwriter Peter Cocks collaborate on their debut novel, the first of a planned fantasy trilogy. Fourteen-year-old New York City twins Rachel and Adam are uprooted to spend the summer in the home of a grandmother they barely know. A group of hostile characters inhabits her isolated English village, lending a mood of mystery and threat. Gabriel, a shadowy outcast teen who readily participates in the twins' shared extrasensory mental dialogue, befriends them but has a plan of his own, aided, inexplicably, by hordes of bees. Digging beneath an ancient chalk circle in the village, a television show archaeology crew recovers part of a three bladed talisman, the Triskellion; a group of evil Morris dancers makes every effort to steal it for their own purposes, as the twins quickly realize that even their grandmother may be plotting against them to protect some long-hidden secret. Told in brief but exciting episodes, the breathless pace helps to make up for the rather flat personalities that people this often suspenseful but somewhat predictable novel. (Kirkus)

Triskellion has flavor of Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series, and the dark extrasensory abilities of human and animals that Mary Stewart included in some of her books. It will serve as readers advisory suggestions for this genre, but I don't think it is TU award worthy. NAY

Escape the Mask by David Ward

Escape the Mask by David Ward is the first book in The Grassland Trilogy. The story opens in a cave, a series of holding cells for new arrivals, told from Coriko's perspective. Coriko is suffering a punishment - a night of fear in the cave that is flooded by water to cull the weak. Coriko hisses instructions on how to survive the surging ocean to two new captives. The cells are fuller than normal, and Coriko notices others changes among their captors' behavior.

Ward combines slavery techniques of intimidation, divison, punishment for not reaching quota, and isolation to create a sensory deprivation cut off from the rest of the world for the young captives. The children depend and trust few others than their mates. The book conveys desperation, the best and worst of human nature, and longings for belonging.

For those who want the tension of good/bad, other realms, war and humanity, captive and escape, it could be a readers advisory selection. It has some gruesome images, but not uber grotesque in detail, so seems ok for younger teens who want aspects of war and battle. I don't think the title stands on its own, doesn't have enough depth, and doesn't warrant the TU award. NAY

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Bod's family was killed by the man Jack. He now lives in the graveyard that he toddled to the night his parents were killed and is protected by the ghosts that haunt the graveyard and his guardian who is neither living or dead. Jack is still after Bod but can only get to Bod if he leaves the graveyard. This book has been my favorite so far. The story is full of quirky characters and is full of snap shots of Bod's life from the night his parents were murdered through to the night when it was safe for him to leave and live his life. I didn't want it to end. I give this a big TU!

Metro Survive by Yuki Fujisawa

This was a fast past, very interesting story. Mishima is a bit of a pushover and ends up getting trapped underground because of an earthquake.  He slowly becomes a leader of the others trapped there (although I get the feeling that the transformation isn't yet complete).  I had a hard time putting it down.  But it definitely doesn't stand alone - being number 1 in a manga series, I can't say I'm surprised by that.  I vote NAY.

Friday, November 21, 2008

City of Time by Eoin McNamee

This is the second in a planned trilogy and I haven't read the first, so it was a little confusing, although there were attempts to explain things. It's a complex story of a society in which time is literally running out. Owen, the grandson of the Navigator who has mapped time, must save the world from the Harsh who want to destroy it. I think if I want to fully understand this world, I need to read the first book. Nay for not standing on its own

The Alcoholic by Jonathan Alter and Dean Hespiel

I'm not a fan of graphic novels, in general. This book is a depiction of a man, Jonathan, who, after running from the police and burying himself in the sand, reviews his pathetic life. He began drinking at age 14 and his alcoholism followed him until his forties. Even when he doesn't drink for several years, he's not free from the alcoholism. It is a very realistic and cautionary tale. It's supposed be humorous, but I didn't see it. Just very bleak. Besides that, I didn't think it is an appropriate book for teens, and therefore Thumb's Up. It is written from the viewpoint of an adult looking back on his life. Big Nay for me.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Everything You Want by Barbara Sharp

Emma's family wins the lottery and their family life changes for ever. From the blurb I was looking forward to this book. However, I was disappointed, the storyline seemed weak and I felt that the characters were undeveloped. I am voting NO for Thumbs Up.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Debbie Harry Sings in French by Megan Brothers

When we meet Johnny he is in the middle of an drunken, goth dressing teenage-hood. He plummets into self destructive behaviors, that eventually lead to his mother sending him to live in South Carolina with an uncle he barely knows. As Johnny tries to set his life back on track, he becomes obsessed with Blondie singer Debbie Harry. So much so that he begins to realize he is actually longing to be her. But Johnny is pretty sure he isn't gay, especially since he's really into ubercool Maria.
This is an interesting take on some of the gray areas of sexuality and gender. As far as I can recall, it is the first contemporary transvestite teen book I have read. Brothers does a good job of exploring this often misunderstood topic. The writing was good, but not earth shattering. I think this book's importance is more topical than literary, but that that is enough to give it a Yay!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Summer of Naked Swim Parties by Jessica Anya Blau

Jamie is 14 and is constantly mortified by her pot smoking and naked swimming parents. She feels her parents should be angry when they learn she is sexually active with her 17 year old boyfriend. She wants to scream when her mom wants to compare diaphragm sizes with her.
This book finally made sense to me when I realized it was an adult book with teen appeal. Most of the way through it felt like a book targeted to adult reminiscing about the 70s. Which, ultimately, it is. I think this will have very limited teen appeal. And at times can get pretty graphic. I'm nay.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Beneath My Mother's Feet by Amjed Qamar

Nazia is a young good Pakistani daughter, goes to school, does what she is told and is looking forward to her marriage to her betrothed. But her father is injured on the job and will no longer work so Nazia is good daughter and drops out of school to help her mother clean houses so they can pay the rent. She soon realizes that she wants more than to be a good daughter. She wants to return to school and not marry her cousin. She learns a lot of lessons and realizes that she must be true to her self. It is definitely a book about empowering women and how they are the cornerstone of the family. I was disappointed in how few positive male characters there were. A good book but I leaning more towards a nay.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Brett McCarthy: Work in Progress by Maria Padian

Brett is a typical 8th grade girl in Maine. Her mouth gets her in trouble and she loves her grandma, soccer and vocab words. In this book she looses her best friend, her grandma gets sick and she gets banned from soccer. She has to learn who her true friends are. It is a good story that is already out of date as of last night (Nov. 4th). There are several references to 12 states allowing medical marijuana, there are now 13. Each chapter is titled by a vocab word such as "in-ter-lop-er" and vocab words and their definitions are also sprinkled through out the book. One of her classmates doesn't know the word "provoked" which seemed odd to me (but that could be just me.) On the whole it was a good book with a terrible cover. I don't think it does the story justice. I'm nay for now.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Viper Within by Sam Mills

Jeremiah, a high-school student sociopath has formed a new religion and persuaded a handful of misfit students to join it. Their plan is to kidnap a terrorist and demand that the government meet their demands for her release. Jon is the last member to join this group and he finds himself faltering at the initiation tests required of him. Jon realizes the truth that the kidnap victim is an innocent Muslim student. He begins to disbelieve everything that Jeremiah has ever told the group and tries to help Pradna escape. This is a very powerful, disturbing book. A great deal of violence and torture. Many British references and current events referred to. I am voting NO

The Postcard by Tony Abbott

One phone call changes Jason's summer vacation and life forever.When Jason's Grandmother dies, he's sent down to her home in Florida to help his father clean out her things. At first, he gripes about the heat, being away from his best friend, but whilst packing up her belongings he discovers some interesting items. He soon discovers a mystery surrounding his grandmother's past.
Together with a new and unusual friend, Dia who is just as excited to solve these clues, they unearth his Grandmother's secret. I'm voting a strong MAYBE on this.It is a little young , but quite the page turner.