I understand why this book got good reviews and won awards and can appreciate the unique workings of the short story/novel format. I think she accompl...moreI understand why this book got good reviews and won awards and can appreciate the unique workings of the short story/novel format. I think she accomplished what she was trying to do but it didn't work for me. (less)
Samhain LaCroix is just existing post-high school. He has a crappy fast food job, but good friends and a supportive mom and sister. One otherwise norm...moreSamhain LaCroix is just existing post-high school. He has a crappy fast food job, but good friends and a supportive mom and sister. One otherwise normal day an encounter with a bad customer changes Sam's life forever. The customer, Douglas, is a local necromancer and one of the most powerful paranormal people in Seattle. No one dares cross him. He recognizes that Sam has a small necromancy power and from that point on makes Sam's life hell. When threats don't work Douglas actually kidnaps Sam. In captivity Sam meets Brid, a female were-fae hybrid roughly his age. Despite the awful circumstances sparks fly between them and being held together helps make the situation more bearable for both. The hijinks are wacky but the non-stop wisecracking is broken by moments scary, sad, and touching. The characters, especially Sam and co. (especially his best friend, Ramon), are quickly but expertly developed. Actual character motivations drive actions, which is refreshing in the paranormal YA genre (which is often plagued by characters only reacting in ways to drive the plot, no matter how against character the reactions seem.) Characters are added in through-out the story, including a sassy 10 year old ghost and Brid's protective family, setting up for future sequels while helping to wrap this adventure up nicely. (less)
While I found the writing lyrical (almost overly so, to the point of being distracting actually) it was a little short on personality for the main cha...moreWhile I found the writing lyrical (almost overly so, to the point of being distracting actually) it was a little short on personality for the main character. I felt like she was a very "insert yourself here" character. I did not understand why this boy who was so amazingly awesomely gorgeous and fantastic would seek her out. I also was seriously annoyed by yet another teen girl using Wuthering Heights as a model for romantic love. W.H. is possibly the single WORST example of romantic love I can think of outside of Twilight. I also wondered if the sister hadn't died what would have ever gotten them main character to grow up and come into her own. Kirkus is right, this book is a good effort that gets lost in its own emo.(less)
I never thought I'd find a zombie book that would make me want to cheer for the Zeds, but Becker did it with this book. Jack, the professor zombie, fi...moreI never thought I'd find a zombie book that would make me want to cheer for the Zeds, but Becker did it with this book. Jack, the professor zombie, finds himself able to still think, read, and write after being resurrected. He can't, however, resist the temptation to eat brains (and other organs, but especially brains.) As he shambles through unlife he meets (and sometimes creates) a gang of other "super-powered" (normal-powered by human standards) zombies. Their motley undead crew is trying to get to the creator of the zombie virus in Chicago, and they meet and eat several interesting people along the way.
Funny and gore-filled, this book almost made me welcome the zombiepocalypse.(less)
Veronica has a dream job for someone who wears funky and vintage clothes like a shield. She works by herself (dream come true!) in the consignment cor...moreVeronica has a dream job for someone who wears funky and vintage clothes like a shield. She works by herself (dream come true!) in the consignment corner of the largest vintage clothing stored in the Northeast (home of the famous Dollar-A-Pound.) She is the deciding factor between what clothes are depped (sent into the Dollar-A-Pound chute) and what clothes are mined for the higher end spaces of the store. The book sticks mainly in the inner workings of the store and the groups of people working and interacting there, but ventures into Veronica's home life some. The store: there are the Florons (the girls who work on the sales floor), and there are the pickers who spend all day in the Dollar-A-Pound pile, there's Bill the stoner boss, and then there is Lenny a boy who has interesting interests and who thinks Veronica is different in a good way. This summer job, which her overbearing skinny-is-winny type mom thinks is at an animal shelter, is a turning point in Veronica's life and the way she relates to other people. Two of the Florons actually seem to like her and want to be her friend. But that friendship seems to have a pretty hefty price.
This book is one of those character-driven reads that is just riveting. Un-put-downable, even as I wanted to yell at Veronica that SHE KNOWS BETTER THAN THAT, COME ON! A great read for anyone who likes clothes (or anything) more than most people. Also a great read read for anyone whose ever felt, even a little bit, like an outsider.(less)
Miss Penelope Lumley has just graduated from Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Girls. Her first position as a governess turns out to be quite the stra...moreMiss Penelope Lumley has just graduated from Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Girls. Her first position as a governess turns out to be quite the strange one. She's brought to Ashton Place and told to watch over and train the three children that the lord of the manor, Lord Fredrick, found in the woods. Lord Fredrick gives them ridiculous names and no one really expects Miss Penelope to be able to teach them anything. Of course, Miss Penelope Lumley is armed with wit, common sense, a love of learning and teaching, and the many sensible sayings of Agatha Swanburne, founder of the Swanburne school. The three children, Beowulf, Cassiopeia, and Alexander have some strange hard to break tendencies such as chasing squirrels and howling. This is probably due to their unusual upbringing by wolves. But in the end, the children prove their humanity and do abundant credit to Miss Penelope Lumley's governessing skills.
The book is written very much in the time period and vein of "The Secret Garden" or "The Little Princess" but is much more tongue-in-cheek and witty than either of those classic reads. It is very obviously also the first of a series, as the Mysterious Howling is never actually explained and really only comes in towards the end of the book anyway. This book didn't get the full amount of stars mainly for some plotting issues, but it isn't a book that is really so much about plot. It is episodic in nature, and each episode shows a little more about the characters and their relationships and loyalties to each other. The book is also, perhaps, just perhaps, a little to cheeky and impressed with itself. By which I mean, adults, especially those that loved the aforementioned Victorian girl stories will love this book and be in on the joke(s). But will it appeal so mightily to its intended audience?(less)
Helen, a successful writer, lost her husband, and after a year of emptiness and blank pages. She's turning all the energy she used to spend on writing...moreHelen, a successful writer, lost her husband, and after a year of emptiness and blank pages. She's turning all the energy she used to spend on writing and hr life towards interfering in her daughter, Tessa's, life instead. Then she finds out her husband was keeping a very big secret which involved removing most of their life savings. Reading this book is like having a long conversation about everything with an old friend you haven't talked to in a while. Helen and Tessa and their muddled relationship jump from the page. Since Helen can't write and is suddenly in more dire financial straits than she was prepared for she takes on teaching a writing class, and the class finally draws her out of herself.
This book is one to suggest to most every mother, daughter, grandmother, or person who has ever lost anyone ever.
Red Flags: The book groups are unrealistic and not as well drawn as they could be. Since it is a book about a writer other writers may find this jarring. If you don't like tidy endings you may not like this book.(less)
I liked this book about friendship and relationships with parents and late night call in radio, but I also kind of forgot that I'd actually read it......moreI liked this book about friendship and relationships with parents and late night call in radio, but I also kind of forgot that I'd actually read it...so, it is good, but not supermemorable.(less)
Denial and fear are two of the most strongly motivating emotions that drive this story. Ripped from the headlines and from the cops POV on Law and Ord...moreDenial and fear are two of the most strongly motivating emotions that drive this story. Ripped from the headlines and from the cops POV on Law and Order, the dumpster baby phenomenon is a tough issue to explore from any side, especially tough to explore from the perspective of the person who did the dumping.
On the surface, it seems impossible that Devon Davenport would be able to hide her pregnancy from everyone, including herself. But, until IT was born, she managed to suppress any of the clues. The story is a riveting character study, not only of Devon and her motivations, told mainly through flashbacks and through interactions with her court appointed lawyer. This topic is so harsh, so hard to wrap the mind around, but Amy Efaw does so with grace and a storytellers knack for a tale. A sad, disturbing tale with a moral, but a tale nonetheless.(less)
**spoiler alert** There is a device in fiction (and sadly, sometimes in real life) that I can not abide. When adopted/ive family members, for whatever...more**spoiler alert** There is a device in fiction (and sadly, sometimes in real life) that I can not abide. When adopted/ive family members, for whatever reason, are considered less than and not equal to biological family. My mom, my uncle, and a cousin I didn't know I had until just a few years ago were all adopted by their parents. Two things in this otherwise charming series of somewhat disjointed vignettes ruined my enjoyment because of my particular bias.
The first is one of the 7 siblings adopted makes out with one of the other siblings. These children were raised as brothers and sisters from nearly birth.(This family is comprised from 7 of 43 babies that were spontaneously simultaneously expelled as full formed infants from women who had not shown any signs of pregnancy. The Hargreeve's could only find these 7 left from that incident and he adopts them all as soon as possible after they are born.)
I don't know about you, but because I was raised in the United States and ingrained with certain views on incest, I'm grossed out by sibling makeouts even if the siblings weren't "biologically related." Maybe this was an intentional gross-out factor? The other moment that set me off is at the very end--not even in the main story arc, but a part of extra stories at the end--a villain asks the rough/broody Wolverinish character, Kraken,if it will bother him to see his whole family killed he says, "Not Really--we're adopted." My blood boiled my vision went hazy and red and I turned into The Awkwardable Hulk. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry. Mostly because now I'm going to tear your book--that you obviously worked hard on to prove that you aren't just another alcoholic rock star--apart.*
Of course, I don't know how intentional it is, but if you haven't noticed by now the story is a bit of a spoof (or rip-off, depending on just how much you really hate My Chemical Romance) on the X-men, with the enigmatic "father" Prof.X-type figure being a total Jerkface McGee to his family. Though actually other than the whole raising up the mutanty superpowered kids Hargreeve is more "Dr. Kellogg" from The Road to Wellville than Prof.X. He's such an over-acheiver who expects too much from children that the "unspecial" one actually writes a tell-all memoir. I like that each of the main characters is as dysfunctional as they are special, and each in their own way. And I like that instead of much world-saving the family is mostly showcased at some of their worst moments.
Okay, I have to admit, the adoption thing does bother me, a lot, and the storytelling is choppy at best. But it IS interesting, and there is a talking chimpanzee named Dr. Pogo, whose hideous past is only briefly hinted at (these hints are actually the choppy/disjointedness I'm talking about. I get what they were going for but it really didn't work for me.) Actually there were a few little moments of humor in the book, for instance I crack up at the repeated use of "space" as a modifying descriptor for "alien." But maybe that is just me.
The art is great. The Viole Blanche is well imagined and beautiful, if not the most original idea. But still the whole flawed superhero thing is starting to be as tedious as the whole perfect superhero thing was during the golden age.
*I know, low blow, but google "drunk Gerard Way" and you will get 138,000 results. I understand sudden fame is difficult to handle and according to internets he is not drinking anymore, good for him. (less)
**spoiler alert** It is so far into the future after the Zombie-pocalypse that everyone in Mary's village is acclimated to unquestioningly following t...more**spoiler alert** It is so far into the future after the Zombie-pocalypse that everyone in Mary's village is acclimated to unquestioningly following the rules that the Sisterhood sets forth. Well, follwoing the rules has kept them relatively safe and alive from the Unconsecrated hoard just outside of the fense so far, right? But, as her future becomes more tenous, mary grows more defiant of the edicts and the sisterhood. On top of all that, Mary's got boy troubles, family troubles, best friend troubles, and of course, Zombie troubles.
The book has all the interesting mysterious parts of the M. Night Shyamalan movie "the Village" but instead of a boring backstory about the evils of the "Modern World", we get ZOMBIES. Scary, flesh-eating, mindless, zombies. Zombies with the rotting faces of Mary's mother, father, sister-in-law, and friends. Did you ever notice that zombies are an interesting metaphor for the evils of the "Modern World"? Mary's world has been shaped so much by living under the constant fear of horrifying death that every moment and every choice she makes is so very important.
Mary could be you, she has the same sorts of desires and daydreams as anyone. The first half is so atmospheric, creepy, and tense with the human side of living in a undead world that when it flows into the second action-packed (and a little violent) half you won't be able to put the book down. Don't let the "Teen Book" label fool you either. Carrie Ryan's story is not JUST for the young, it is for everyone who ever wondered what happens to humanity hundreds of years after the Dawn of the Dead.
This is what it looks like when a book disparages my homeland and makes me too angry to finish. Each slur against Indiana made me angrier and angrier...moreThis is what it looks like when a book disparages my homeland and makes me too angry to finish. Each slur against Indiana made me angrier and angrier until finally there was a comment about a teacher not being able to buy leopard print Sketchers (SKETCHERS? REALLY A-TRIG?) in Indiana because they were too cool.
I gave this book more than enough chances, we are almost to Thanksgiving in the school year and still the Viola has little to nothing good to say about Indiana and so I'm done. I give up, and you get to reap the benefits.(less)
Even though this book is a completely engrossing and resplendent read it didn't get more stars because I have no idea what an airtrack, suicide, 6-ste...moreEven though this book is a completely engrossing and resplendent read it didn't get more stars because I have no idea what an airtrack, suicide, 6-steps or any of the rest of these terms mean in relationship to breakdancing. Since these and other breakdancing terms are liberally sprinkled throughout the book without any explanation of what they mean or how the moves look I had a hard time staying in the story at times. While this technique sped up the action of the breakdancing scenes, it made it impossible for me to envision what they were doing.
OTHERWISE. I totally loved this book. It was a fast paced read with a engrossing main character, Nicole (Raven), who doesn't sound like anyone else in YA ficion that I can think of...and her New York doesn't sound like any other New York that I've read. She has this group of friends that is not bound by anything except maybe age range and love of breakdancing. I like that in a novel (And if you do as well then you should maybe also take part in this book challenge.
Of course, this book is about more than breakdancing. It is about love and friendship and family and living forever vs living as a human. The immortals (Jiang Shi) in the book are conflicted by their immortality and how they attained and keep it. Though none of them, even the leader/mastermind who is hiding things, comes off as evil; their enemies don't come off as evil either. Overzealous yes, evil no. I think that might be my favorite thing about the book, the characters, even those without a lot of "screen time" feel totally realistic and multi-dimensional without a lot of random crap thrown in to make them that way. It is a good story, mostly well told.(less)
The football pre-season starts next Saturday. Do you want to know why I know this? It isn't because I personally LOVE the gridiron or even know why it...moreThe football pre-season starts next Saturday. Do you want to know why I know this? It isn't because I personally LOVE the gridiron or even know why it is called "gridiron." No, it is because from August to February I live with a football junkie. I get to hear all about the draft, the fantasy league winners and losers, and our TV is taken over by pointless commentary after pointless commentary. Madden0whatever is played non-stop. As a not-particularly sporty person there are only two ways to deal with this situation. One is to protest, to complain, to throw up one's hands and move out. The other is to try and figure out what all the fuss is about. Oh, I still roll my eyes whenever I get treated to a 10 minute diatribe on why Adrian Peterson is the best running back EVAR, but I also watch games and ask questions about why something was called this way or that. Or, what that flag means, or why they got an extra point, etc. I feel like I'm getting to understand a little bit more about the game and its appeal. A little.
Unlike me, football is Marcus Jordan's life. He and his mom have just moved to a new town to escape his fascist dad and so his mom can take pictures of rocks. He starts practicing in a park and forms an eccentric and erratic friendship with a middle-aged guy named Charlie, who is extremely spry and who teaches Marcus more about football in just a few weeks than all of his years on a team. But, Marcus ends up covering for his new friend when he discovers Charlie's erratic behavior isn't just from a quirky personality.
Along the way Marcus barely squeaks onto the football team. He wants to be QB, but his new high school's team is undefeated and record breaking and so Marcus has to battle their unwillingness to mess with status quo and the QB who drove them to victory. Troy hates Marcus immediately, and it doesn't help that Troy's on and off again girlfriend is interested in Marcus, and Marcus is VERY interested in Alyssa too.
So immediately we've got a complicated plot, told in a straightforward manner, by a kid who just wants to Do The Right Thing. Marcus and all the characters are well developed, the story draws you in immediately, the plot never slows down and the conflicts are very real. My only complaint with this is that the "mystery" of Charlie goes on a little too long. I find it hard to believe Marcus wouldn't have started asking pertinent questions earlier in the story and figuring out answers earlier on too. At any rate this book has romance, fights, pranks, friendship, brain-injury awareness, kidnapping, and lots and lots of Football. It is the ultimate blitz of a book! Even for a wannabe fan like me. (less)
I believe you can tell a lot about us by the stories we tell about ourselves. Tola's (whose name is from a shortened Italian Cinder...moreA sorta fairy tale.
I believe you can tell a lot about us by the stories we tell about ourselves. Tola's (whose name is from a shortened Italian Cinderella) stories are told through her art. The stories about her are told through the internet and vicious rumors spreading like wildfire through the school. No one believes her, and she's established early on as an unreliable narrator. It doesn't help that the rumors are getting her and her favorite teacher in a lot of trouble. There are so many delicate elements to this story: Tola's family, her friends--past and present, prince charming, her art, her obsession with the Bros. Grimm and her own wicked stepmother, and the teacher in question. Though I must admit that, of course, my favorite character is the blip of the School Media Specialist, Ms. Esme (who fights against censorship and gives Tola subversive materials.) The characters are so strong, the story fluid and for the most part, very well paced. The humor fits well and never seems forced. Oh, and the hero is an aspiring pastry chef, and since my own personal prince charming is currently in pastry school, I can totally appreciate a prince charming who woes through baked goods.
I saw Laura Ruby talk on a panel about Sex in YA Lit at ALA last Monday. I didn't remember her as the author of the ARC I'd just started, but when I put the two things together it totally made sense. She tackles tough topics in such an amazing and inventive way. Well played, Laura Ruby. (less)
At the annual ALA convention (this year, held where I live) I got a chance to hear Susan Elizabeth Phillips talk about her life and work and how the w...moreAt the annual ALA convention (this year, held where I live) I got a chance to hear Susan Elizabeth Phillips talk about her life and work and how the women in her family are long lived and have children later on. Her grandmother was born the year the civil war ended! How cool is that!
She discussed this book, and read from the beginning which was fantastic for me. Though actually, this book was not nearly so fraught with will they/won't they tension as Match Me If You Can or Breathing Room, but still, you can never ever ever go wrong with a Susan Elizabeth Phillips story. She makes me proud to be a romance reader.
In this book, Blue Bailey's fortunes have just taken a turn for the absolutely devastating when Dean Robillard of Chicago Stars fame wanders into her life. The book focuses a lot A LOT on the struggles Dean has forgiving his family for the way he was not raised by them. Blue has her own family issues, and in the end dealing with your demons to be able to let love in is the theme in question with this book. I loved it and would recommend it to all of you. (less)