An intriguing lyrical folk tale, very much in the oral tradition (it was written to be read aloud, and one can just imagine Neil Gaiman's melodious vo...moreAn intriguing lyrical folk tale, very much in the oral tradition (it was written to be read aloud, and one can just imagine Neil Gaiman's melodious voice in one's head as you read it), set in old Scotland. A "wee" man (dwarf) asks another to guide him over the mountains to a mystical cave, that is said to contain all kinds of gold. They journey for days on foot, endure some hardships, and say little. But when they arrive, things get interesting! I don't want to give anything away. It's a spooky story of love and revenge, ach it is. Illustrated with paintings and also with primitive comics panels, complete with speech bubbles. I understand that the paintings came first, shown on a screen as Gaiman told the story, and then they added the comics when making it into a book. But I personally didn't care for the mix of media, they didn't jibe well. I would have preferred all one or the other style of illustration. But the story is great and sticks with you after you finish it. Not really a graphic novel, but I put it in that Goodreads shelf because I don't want to create a new one for the occasional "illustrated story/graphic picture book". (less)
Lovely modern day version of the archetypal Black Beauty story: horse narrates his life as he is sold to a series of owners and makes friends along th...moreLovely modern day version of the archetypal Black Beauty story: horse narrates his life as he is sold to a series of owners and makes friends along the way, learns lessons. In this case, Macadoo is a Belgian draft horse, which is a different and interesting choice for a horse story. His mother imparts lessons to him about his breed, that they were important for humans, used in clearing land and doing all sorts of work; and that his job will always be to be strong and to heal people. Yes, the story is a little heartstring-pulling and dare I say schmaltzy, but really nice. Macadoo suffers the heartbreaking first separation from his mother, and then another separation years later from the boy he has grown to love; but he also learns to stay true to his calling and love every new child who comes to care for him or to ride him. And there's a lovely happy ending. I enjoyed learning a little more about vaulting (the sport of doing gymnastics tricks while on the back of a horse running around in a circle!) and therapeutic riding stables. I liked the mules he befriends, Job and Molly, too. My only quibble, and what kept me from giving it five stars, was that the horses were pretty much all-knowing; they all understood their humans perfectly, so they were always aware of what was going to happen to them. Mac's mom knew what an auction was and knew of the historic importance of Belgians; Mac learns to recognize the constellations in the night sky! As in, their real names, not some horse-idea of the constellations. But maybe I am being too cynical. I know as a 13-year old I would have eaten this book up, and I enjoyed being able to hand it to one of my library teens as her summer reading prize recently. I would read the other book in the series, Chancey of Maury River, too. I received an Early Reviewer advance reading copy of this book from LibraryThing in exchange for my (belated) review.(less)
The story of two sisters, who are very close until the older one, Layla, starts to change her behavior and Nell learns that Layla is secretly dating h...moreThe story of two sisters, who are very close until the older one, Layla, starts to change her behavior and Nell learns that Layla is secretly dating her art teacher. And Layla insists that Nell keep the secret from everyone: from their divorced parents, even from Nell's adoring best friend Felix, whom she tells *everything.* Nell can only confide in the imagined ghosts of two boys she used to know, until they died in supposed accidents. She had been looking forward to her freshman year, finally attending Layla's high school, able to join Layla's soccer team and share in Layla's fun. Nell even tries out for the school play in hopes of meeting the utterly cute boy Sam. But the pressures of keeping Layla's secret, of lying and covering for her absences, and seeing the changes in Layla's personality, are all starting to take their toll on Nell. Will she tell?
Good book about sibling relationships, and learning to be your own person, as well as lying and secrets and the price of keeping someone else's secret. Also an interesting description of student/teacher affairs, from the student's point of view. I would recommend this for high school and up, due to content. I read an advanced copy of this book from Netgalley.(less)
A marvelous book about two young women who become friends and support each other through some trying times, when the world hasn't treated them very we...moreA marvelous book about two young women who become friends and support each other through some trying times, when the world hasn't treated them very well at all. Quincy is tough, angry, black, and facially deformed from a childhood injury inflicted by her mother's boyfriend. Biddy is overweight, white, nearly agoraphobic, overweight and afraid of all boys. Quincy and Biddy are also self-described "Speddies," Special Education kids who are now graduating and facing life on their own. Told in alternating viewpoints by both girls, this is the story of how they start out as reluctant roommates-- in a garage apartment owned by an elderly woman whom they will help in exchange for their room and board--and end up as the closest of friends. They begin cooperating in household tasks, when they realize they have complementary skills: Quincy loves to cook and can do it well, while Biddy feels the most content when she can clean a place to "sparkly." They both have a lot to get used to, just in having a clean bed to sleep in or the absence of jeers and catcalling, for they come from broken and foster homes. And as the book progresses, we learn why Biddy had to give up her baby, and what drives Quincy to lash out at everyone.
This is a wonderful look at the differently-abled, at sexual abuse and the healing process, at bullying and its effects. But mostly it has well-rounded characters who tug at your heart with their pain and their efforts to overcome it, to fit in in the world and be seen as normal. Lizabeth, the senior citizen who takes them on as boarders and home help, is also shown not as a saint but as a real woman who has a wonderful heart but makes her own mistakes in relating to the girls.
Recommended for high school readers; strong language and some descriptions of rape, though described in simplistic terms. (less)
8th grader Donovan has always been a prankster, a clown, the guy who doesn't know why he's compelled to cause a ruckus, he just has to do it. But now...more8th grader Donovan has always been a prankster, a clown, the guy who doesn't know why he's compelled to cause a ruckus, he just has to do it. But now one of his dumb pranks has backfired, causing a whole lot of damage, and Donovan's about to be in big trouble--until his name gets accidentally added not to detention but to the list of students accepted into the special academy for gifted students. Now he thinks he's got the prefect cover to hide from the Superintendent and escape punishment--if he can only manage to survive the rigorous classes and the school full of nerds. The nerds turn out to be much more normal than he'd expected, however (in their own geeky ways), and Donovan turns out to have a few gifted talents of his own. They just aren't necessarily related to science or math or biology.
GREAT book! Lots of fun. Donovan is hilarious, sweet, charming, adorably average. I loved all of the characters, and the great themes of science and intelligence in this book, that it's okay to be really smart and to love to ask questions and find things out. Also the anti-bullying themes, that no one should be ridiculed for being smart OR for being less-than-smart. And after reading this, I *so* want my own robot.(less)
This is a very weird book. It is a very funny book, also profane, and a little profound maybe. The basic plot is like something out of a 1960's atomic...moreThis is a very weird book. It is a very funny book, also profane, and a little profound maybe. The basic plot is like something out of a 1960's atomic-science fiction movie: two high school boys witness the unwitting unleashing of giant killer praying mantises on an unsuspecting town! All these bugs want to do is is eat--they eat humans, as well as each other--and mate. And maybe eat their mate while mating. If the bugs aren't stopped, they will rapidly multiply and take over the world! But oh no, they're UNSTOPPABLE! They were created in a secret lab experiment in the 60's, by some really twisted scientists trying to come up with the world's best soldier, and it's going to be really hard to undo that experiment. Then there are the two young men who get caught up in this horrific carnage--Austin, who loves his girlfriend Shannon but who is also having strong feelings for his best friend Robby, who came out as gay a few years ago. It's going to be up to the three of them to save the world and maybe perpetuate the human species. This book is a story of love and sexual identity and the end of the world, and the bonds of friendship and the hopes of small town boys who yearn to get out of their dead-end lives, as well as a story of a lot of blood and guts and sci-fi hilarity. The book is really funny! But also gross at the same time, which is also funny. Austin styles himself a historian, so he's writing down everything that happens to himself and his friends, in what he feels is a detached objective manner. He also is documenting his ancestry, weaving in the stories of what happened to his father and his grandfather and his great-grandfather who came over on the boat from Poland. So there are a lot of details in this book, some of which weren't necessarily needed, as well as crude teen-boy language. (There's also a lot of repetition--every time Austin gives someone's name, he gives both first and last name, which drove me crazy by the end of the book. And he started chapters by repeating what had just happened previously. I think it was his pseudo-historian writing style, trying to be that impartial observer, but it got old fast. Just my opinion.) Austin is confused about sex, and misses his older brother who is serving in the military overseas, and Austin also has been bullied, and is now thrust into a really scary situation. This book is just a great mashup of everything. I finished it laughing with tears in my eyes, for Austin and his tribulations and his heroic efforts, but I was also a wee bit annoyed. I can't decide whether to give it three or four stars. I had fun reading it, but I was also frustrated with the writing style. Definitely recommended for only high school and up, for the mature content. (But then again, there's a lot of IMMATURE content as well! Ha!)(less)
This is only the second book I've ever read about mermaids, I think, definitely the first one in a long time, and it was fun! A very interesting mytho...moreThis is only the second book I've ever read about mermaids, I think, definitely the first one in a long time, and it was fun! A very interesting mythology/worldbuilding, where the mer people are descended from residents of Atlantis, and they live in several different kingdoms, some of which have tentative peace agreements with each other. 16 year old "merl" Serafina is a princess, the daughter of the Regina of the kingdom of Miromara (which is always ruled by a female), and as the story opens she is nervous about the big Dokimi ceremony she's about to undertake. It's like the official debut of the princess, where she is declared the official heir and betrothed to a neighboring merman prince at the same time. But it involves her having to stand her ground while a fierce creature sniffs her over, basically tasting her blood to make sure she really is of royal lineage--if she's not, she could die! She also has to cast a songspell to prove her worthiness to rule. I liked the use of magic in the book; it's done via singing, as of course mermaids are known for their siren voices, but also with light, and even blood. Serafina is worried not only about the ceremony, but about meeting her intended, Prince Mahdi, again after not seeing him for two years. When they were 14, they seemed to hit it off and she likes him; but she's heard that he's now changed, is rebellious and hanging out with slutty girls. And soon she has far bigger worries: an attack by a rival kingdom that injures many, including her mother, and sends Sera and her best friend Neela fleeing for their lives, chased by bad mermen!
A great deal of the story involves a nightmare Sera is having, of a coven of legendary witch-mermaids chanting about 'seeking the five' to stop the rise of an evil force. Through Sera's travels she meets 4 other mermaids, all of whom have had the same dream, and who discover they are linked together in this battle to combat the evil creature Abbadon. They have to work together to decipher clues and make their way to the witches, learning more about the history of their underwater realm and about their own ancestors, the Six Ruler Mages of Atlantis. The book ends on a very intense cliffhanger, so be ready to read the sequel whenever it comes.
I liked the idea of this book, the mermaids and their magical mythology; liked the vocabulary and incantations taken from a series of world languages--so not everything magical is spoken in Latin, but also in Greek, Romanian, etc. There's a nice multicultural feel to the story; the other mermaids are from other lands. And the humans are called 'terragoggs', which is very unique. But I thought the characters were a little young for 16, and they talked about eating candy and wearing designer mermaid clothing in a very shallow tweeny way. Sera's supposed to have growth as a character, learning to rely on herself and to let go of her fears, etc, but it took forever for that to happen. Also, as much as the setting and magic were unique, I kept getting thrown out of the fantasy by phrases that indicated actions that could not possibly happen underwater. "She slapped her tail on the water" to make a noise to distract the enemy: really? When she's many fathoms below the surface? Slapping only happens at the top of the water, where there is air, and the girls only surfaced once, in a cove, so you know that the rest of the time they are at the bottom of the ocean. Where no one slaps anything. The amusing notion of the mermaids and mermen riding 'hippokamps'--we are led to believe they are sea horses--was okay until the sound of their 'hooves' occurred. Even if they were some creature other than the sea horse we are familiar with, they surely would not have legs and hooves underwater! It was almost as if the story was written for a land-based society and then the author changed her mind and went back to change things to a water society. (They live not on a street but on a 'current', and use 'currensea' to buy things. Groan.) They had buildings and chairs and tables, and curtains, which also threw me off. It was too human-like in some ways, and therefore corny, while in others it was very otherworldly and marinelike. This may just be me nitpicking, and a teen or middle grade reader (which is the age I'd recommend this to) won't notice such details, but I did feel a little disappointed whenever this sort of thing pulled me out of the story. Overall it's a fun story, once you get into it, with action and magic and bad guys and a very creepy evil creature, and a tiny bit of romance, and hey, they're mermaids so if you like mermaids, you'll love this book!
I read an advance electronic copy of this book from Netgalley.com--which was the very first book I've ever read on my new Kindle paperwhite, so that was fun! (though the formatting was a little wonky, I guess because it was not the finished copy)(less)
This is a fun time-travel-with aliens-twisty story. I listened to it on audio over the course of a few weeks, unfortunately, just in little bits and p...moreThis is a fun time-travel-with aliens-twisty story. I listened to it on audio over the course of a few weeks, unfortunately, just in little bits and pieces at a time, so I don't remember a whole lot about the plot. But I definitely enjoyed it; the diskos concept (of disks that are portals to fixed points in time, usually where a disaster occurred) is fun. Tucker is a great everyman reluctant hero character, caught up in weird circumstances and just trying to get back home. Great for middle school readers. Makes you think--what would YOU do if you had the chance to time travel, but weren't sure where or when you'd end up?(less)
A sweet, quiet book written in verse, about a 7th grader, Josie, who happens to have cerebral palsy. She has some speech difficulty, and her arm and l...moreA sweet, quiet book written in verse, about a 7th grader, Josie, who happens to have cerebral palsy. She has some speech difficulty, and her arm and leg are affected, but she can communicate just fine with others. She lives on her family's farm (which has been sold off in parcels for subdivisions, so it is no longer a farm), with her single mom and her grandmother. The whole family loves to garden and grow things; her mother is studying for her nursery management degree, and the book is full of flower and vegetable metaphors. The story takes place over a year, as Josie meets a new boy, Jordan, who becomes her friend, seeing past her disability to revel in their shared love of science and plants. Josie ditches her summertime therapy sessions to spend as much time as possible with her friend, before he leaves for science camp, but of course she gets in trouble with her mom for lying, and suffers jealousy over his time spent with other girls. Her changing relationship with her grandmother is also a key part of the book. The poetry is beautiful, with lots of nature imagery, showing how their whole house blooms when the family is together. Good book about friendship, and for showing how to treat people who are different, by respecting what's on the inside for it may surprise you. (less)
A suspenseful sci-fi novel with some great twists and turns! Marshall lost his twin brother Austin 3 months ago in a car accident; Marsh was driving,...moreA suspenseful sci-fi novel with some great twists and turns! Marshall lost his twin brother Austin 3 months ago in a car accident; Marsh was driving, and is wracked with guilt as well as grief. Ever since, he has been walking around in bare feet, a rather unusual way to grieve, his parents think--but it's because he is determined to find a "thin space." This would be a spot, hard to see, where the barrier between our world and the next is thinner, so the living can enter the world of the dead. Marsh desperately wants to speak to his brother again, but not necessarily for the reasons you might think. He meets Maddie, a girl his age who moves in next door, and this complicates his search for a thin space because he is sure there is one in her house; but how can he get inside to search without revealing to her his mad quest? I can't talk too much about this book for fear of spoiling too much; it's just a really cool and clever book! It's suspenseful, dark, and keeps you guessing; an excellent psychological study of survivor's guilt, with a supernatural bent. Ohio author.(less)