Wilamena Carlisle's mother was an astrologist, and, after her death, Wil became obsessed with the zodiac. This summer her planets will align, making it the perfect time for her to find love. If she doesn't seize this moment, she's going to have to wait another seventeen years, so time is of the utmost importance. Soon Wil is entangled in a love triangle with one boy who perfectly matches her astrological tables and one who does not at all.
Darcy Wood's debut is a cute summer read, especially if you are at all interested in astrology. However,, while I enjoyed Wil's quirky character traits, I didn't actually finish it. I have seen a lot of fabulous reviews on this one, but I think it just wasn't for me. Honestly, I just don't get astrology, and I think I had a hard time putting that aside. Still, I think this book would work for a lot of people, so if you are looking for a cute summer romance don't discount it on account of me.
Summer Days and Summer Nights from editor Stephanie Perkins is the perfect seasonal read. With stories by Leigh Bardugo, Cassandara Clare, Jennifer E. Smith and many more, there's something for everyone in this collection. The tales explore all types of summer love from first loves to lost loves and breakups to makeups. There's also a good mix of straight and LBGTQ relationships. I especially enjoyed the wide range of settings and genres in this collection with both contemporary and futuristic settings as well as stories that fit squarely in the horror and paranormal genre.
As is to be expected in a collection of short stories, I liked some stories better than others. Stephanie Perkins and Libba Bray's tales were among my favorites. But, as a testament to how varied this book is, I've seen reviewers who have loved tales that I didn't like as much and others who could've done without my favorites.
The warm, summery cover, the promise of surfing, and the lure of Hawaii were all too enticing to pass up, and so I decided to give Erin L. Schneider's debut novel a go.
On the eve of her annual summer trip to visit her mother in Hawaii, Sloane McIntyre learns her best friend and her boyfriend have betrayed her. One broken hand and broken heart later, Sloane arrives in Hawaii determined to escape the mess she left behind. Finn McAllister, son of a hotel magnate, proves the perfect distraction. That is until Sloane realizes her distraction has grown into something much truer. All the while, her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend are desperate for forgiveness, but Sloane can't forgive them; she can't even bear to talk to them.
I haven't read very many books set in Hawaii, and I found the setting of this book to be a big draw. I also really liked that Sloane was a swimmer. Her lessons with Finn's little sister were some of the highlights of the book.
However, I had some problems with the book as well. I was pretty underwhelmed by the writing. The language felt choppy and stilted to me, and I found it hard to get into a rhythm as I was reading. Other factors that were just a little much for me were all the instances of underage drinking and all of the cheating and almost cheating (although I should have been prepared for that).
Unfortunately, for me, this book didn't quite live up to its cover's promise; there's hardly even any surfing!
Ever since her mother passed away, Rose Darrow has been doing everything she can to keep her family's farm running. That's meant waking at 4am to work on the farm, trying to get her depressed father to eat and get out of bed, and putting her college plans on hold. All the while, Rose is struggling to keep her head above water, and she feels like she can't let anyone know. Enter Bodhi Lowell. He's the hired help for the summer, and he has his own rough past. At first, Rose is resentful of his intrusion, but soon the two can't deny their attraction.
I am a sucker for a good setting, and A Walk in the Sun has it in spades. Michelle Zink paints the Darrow farm with a soft rosy glow. I'm not a farm girl, and I loved how this book transported me to another world.
I also enjoyed the romance between Rose and Bodhi. The two fit together. They shared a similar temperament and just had a way of being easy with one another that I really enjoyed.
The pacing in this novel is fairly sleepy, but, to me, that set the tone perfectly for both the setting and the romance. I read it in two sittings.
Living in relative isolation on the Yorkshire moors, the Bronte siblings, Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne, keep themselves entertained by writingLiving in relative isolation on the Yorkshire moors, the Bronte siblings, Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne, keep themselves entertained by writing stories about fictional lands. However, their fictional worlds are much more real to them than anyone suspects because the Bronte siblings routinely crossover to their worlds and direct and experience the stories from within.
I was really excited about Worlds of Ink and Shadow when I first got a copy, and then I started to see some less-than-stellar reviews and got a little nervous, but I had no reason to be worried because I really enjoyed this book.
Worlds of Ink and Shadow is a little like Cornelia Funke's Inkworld series in that fictional and real people interact and even crossover from the real world to the imaginary world. A situation where two world's collide is often a lot of fun and a good premise for an intriguing tale, but, what makes Lena Coakley's book stand out is that this book is strongly influenced by history. Beyond the Bronte siblings, their experiences at Reverend Carus Wilson's Clergy Daughters' School, and their home in Haworth, the fictional worlds they travel to in Ms. Coakley's book are also based in fact. The Bronte's did write many stories in their youth, creating the elaborate worlds of Verdopolis, Gondal, and Angria, and they populated them with the characters featured in Worlds of Ink and Shadow
I really enjoy historical fantasy and books that insert fantastical elements into the real world. Plus, I really like the Bronte's, I've been to Haworth, and I have read a string of fictional books about real people as of late, so, for me, this book was a real treat.
I liked reading about the young Bronte siblings. Ms. Coakley does a nice job conveying a close family. I enjoyed thinking about the books they would write in their future and how they might be tied to their youthful musings. The plot itself was at times super creepy and at other clever and amusing. It all fit very well with the mood of the English moors.
It's been awhile since I had as much fun reading a book as I did reading this one. And let me assure you, t Review featured on Intellectual Recreation.
It's been awhile since I had as much fun reading a book as I did reading this one. And let me assure you, that was a very welcome occurrence.
First of all, Down with the Shine has a dark humor to it that I just loved. What made everything funnier was how all the bizarre and crazy wishes were juxtaposed with the normal and mundane. And, a wish that seems like it's all in good fun when there's no way that it can come true, can become truly terrifying when it actually does happen. The scenes at Michaela's never-ending party were particularly fraught with this hilarious brand of terror.
As the plot progresses, the reader learns that wish-granting is not the only form of magic in this alternate reality. But the other magic-welders that we do meet are connected to Lennie's father, a criminal who seems more and more sinister as the book progresses. The dark and gritty, the seamy underground and criminal aspects of the magical world in Down with the Shine reminded me of Holly Black's Curse Workers Trilogy, and I love The Curse Workers Trilogy so, so much. Discovering in Down with the Shine a book that has a similar tone and atmosphere as this beloved series, was so unexpected and marvelously thrilling.
And, while we're talking about the darker aspects, there's the whole murder of Dylan, Lennie's best friend, to consider. Lennie wishes her alive again. Not a simple wish. Dylan was one of the creepier, but also sadder, aspects of the story, but the book really benefited from the emotional depth brought about by her death.
A shining ray in all this black humor, is Smith, but, as you've probably gathered, nothing is simple in Down with the Shine. Smith is Dylan's twin brother and he blames Lennie for Dylan's death. However, even at the beginning, the reader can tell that Smith's feelings toward Lennie are complicated and there's a great deal of like hidden underneath all that blame. Smith's wish backfires in a way that is both very humorous and quite endearing. And I just liked him, and I liked Smith and Lennie together. A lot.
Long story short, I gulped Kate Karyus Quinn's book down. And I'd love a sequel. ...more
Jane Steele begins her story by telling her readers about how, upon her reading of Jane Eyre, she was quite struck by the similarities between her liJane Steele begins her story by telling her readers about how, upon her reading of Jane Eyre, she was quite struck by the similarities between her life and Jane's, expecting one distinct and rather glaring difference: whereas Jane Eyre overcame her tormentors with forbearance and virtue, Jane Steele murdered them.
The murders definitely add an unexpected twist to the story of Jane Eyre. However, despite the body count Jane Steele remains a very likeable and sympathetic character. And, although the reader may be aghast at some of her crimes, you also can't help but pull for her.
I quite enjoyed Lyndsay Faye's retelling of Jane Eyre. I love how self-conscious this book is in its nod to Charlotte Bronte's classic. Jane Steele's life does closely follow that of Jane Eyre--both are orphaned, tormented by cousins, sent to dismal boarding school, and eventually become governesses. In terms of plot the books closely parallel one another. But, in other ways, Jane Steele mirrors Jane Eyre in subtle and delectable ways.
I love Jane Steele's voice, the fact that this book was set in the same historical moment as Jane Eyre, and the friendship between Jane and Clarke. The years set in the boarding school and on the streets of London were definitely my favorite. Once Jane becomes the governess for Mr. Thornfield the pacing drags a bit, but at this point I started to be reminded of another classic, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, because of all the ties to India and lost jewels.
All in all, this book was a great romp, and I had a lot of fun reading it.
Lucy Alling sells rare books and hasn't always been exactly honest when it comes to her methods. When her secret is discovered, it ruins Lucy's relatiLucy Alling sells rare books and hasn't always been exactly honest when it comes to her methods. When her secret is discovered, it ruins Lucy's relationship with her boyfriend, James, but forges a connection between Lucy and James's grandmother, Helen.
Helen employs Lucy to go on a trip with her to England. On the surface, the trip is to find some antiques and silver for her family, but really Helen must travel to England to return a watch that she stole from Lucy's grandfather.
Lucy and Helen do quite a bit of soul searching on their journey, and much of Lucy's self-discovery takes place in Haworth where she visits the Bronte's parsonage, walks the moors, and helps a young innkeeper revitalize her business.
The Bronte Plot is definitely a book for those who love British literature, especially, the works of the Brontes. Katherine Reay explores some of the themes the Brontes tackled asking questions like: Is family destiny?
What I loved most about this book is that it makes the reader feel like a tourist. This was helped along for me because I have been to London, Haworth, and Lake Windermere.
Keeley Hewitt lives in the small town of Aberdeen. After a particularly wet spring, several flood warnings and evacuations, the governor declares their town unsafe. A dam will be built upstream flooding the town to create a reservoir that will protect the residents living downstream from further flood damage. Now Keeley, her family, and the entire town must pack up and move.
The Last Boy and Girl in the World is a deceiving little book. It seems to dangle the promise of a light and fun read, but instead it delivers unexpected depths. (No pun intended.) Keeley must wrestle with the potential loss of her home and what it means to be a loyal daughter and friend. At the same time, her longtime crush suddenly sees her, and she has a job with the sheriff's son, a boy she can't stand. There are no easy answers to the problems that plague her, and Keeley finds herself making one mistake after another.
I've been in the mood for a book that looks at a tough situation and doesn't take the easy way out. That is exactly what Siobvan Vivian does in The Last Boy and Girl in the World, and I appreciate it so much. There is, of course, something fun and delightful about a light and fluffy read, but a book that digs a little deeper, as this one does, can be so satisfying.
Some readers may find Keeley difficult to like. She miscalculates at almost every step, but I think that her heart was in the right place. Sometimes it takes a long fall for us to see where we went wrong. All these things made Keeley feel more real.
I have been wanting to read a book by Siobhan Vivian for some time now, so I jumped at the chance to review The Last Boy and Girl in the World. It definitely lived up to my expectations.
When they were seven, Tessa and Callie were witnesses in a murder trial. Wyatt Stokes was convicted and sentenced to death row on the strength of their testimony. Now, ten years later, Tessa is back in Fayette, Pennsylvania, and she has questions about that night so many years ago because, as she's grown, she's realized that some things never did quite add up. Now Tessa and Callie are looking for answers but digging through the past can be dangerous.
I really enjoyed The Darkest Corners. It's fast paced and gripping. Like Tessa and Callie, I needed answers even if that meant staying up really late to get them. Kara Thomas's book is full of secrets and lies--that's what makes the murders so difficult to solve.
Honestly, this is one of the better YA thrillers that I've read. I really liked how there were a couple of different (but intertwined mysteries) going on in the book. I have been able to guess the big reveal of way too many YA thrillers, and was thrilled to find that the twist in this book struck the perfect balance. As a reader, I had some suspicions, but I did not expect them to play out the way that they did. This is ideal situation. A reader of a thriller needs some clues but if the answers are too obvious it's no fun.
Eleven years ago six kindergartners disappeared. Now five are back. Where is the sixth? And why can't the five remember anything about the last eleven years?
I really enjoyed Tara Altebrando's new thriller. The Leaving has an intriguing premise. That's really why I had to pick it up. I also quite like the cover. There's something about that one broken swing that is just so creepy to me.
The Leaving is told through three perspectives. Lucas and Scarlett are two of the taken children. They want answers. I really liked how Tara Altebrando dealt with their missing memories. The physical clues and the gut instincts were well laid. Avery, the third perspective, is the sister of Max, the boy who is still missing. Max's disappearance has created a hole in her life that has only gotten larger now that the other missing children are back.
Tara Altebrando definitely keeps her readers on their toes. I like how the reader isn't quite sure if there is something otherworldly to this whole story. Like the characters in the story, I definitely wanted answers.
Lena and Aubrey meet at Charlie Price's funeral. They are both Charlie's girlfriend. Neither knew about the other. After the funeral the two team up to find the truth. What else was Charlie keeping secret? How did he juggle all the lies? And the biggest question of all, is Charlie really dead?
Charlie, Presumed Dead is told through three alternating perspectives: Lena, Aubrey, and Charlie. As the book progresses it becomes clear that Charlie isn't the only one keeping secrets. The girls race around the globe: Paris, London, Mumbai, etc. searching for answers. I enjoyed the globe trotting. It reminded me of The Conspiracy of Us and Inherit Midnight.
In general, I think thrillers should be confined to one book. The main motivation for readers of thrillers is to get some answers. To not have that pay off at the end of the book is such a let down.
In an alternate 1880 London, Luke Lexton seeks to join a secret society of witch hunters. The final task in his initiation is to pick a witch's name aIn an alternate 1880 London, Luke Lexton seeks to join a secret society of witch hunters. The final task in his initiation is to pick a witch's name at random from a ledger and then kill this witch before the next full moon. The name he picks is Rosamund Greenwood. Soon Luke is undercover at the Greenwood home ready when opportunity strikes. Yet Rosa isn't what Luke expected. Rosa is just a girl with problems of her own. The Greenwoods are in debt and eager to see Rosa make a good match in order to secure their finances, even if it means a life of unhappiness for poor Rosa.
Witch Finder reminded me a bit of Anna Godberson's The Luxe series, but with magic and witches. Both books are set in the late 1800s, feature the economic misfortune of a once-wealthy family that must rely on its daughters to secure the family fortunes, and contain an "inappropriate" love interest serving as a stable boy. It's a good recipe for a story.
I was certainly not head-over-heals crazy over Witch Finder, but I thought it was decently entertaining. The climax was quite action-packed. The reader certainly feels for both Rosa and Luke who are trapped in unforgiving circumstances.
I can't remember when I first heard about this book, but it was quite awhile ago, and I've been longing to get my hands on a copy ever since. Then, I went to NoVa Teen Book Fest a couple of Saturdays ago and saw April Genevieve Tucholke speak which only served to fan the flame. Somehow my stars aligned because, just after NoVa, I learned that I had won a copy of Wink Poppy Midnight from Penguin's First to Read.
One of the reasons I wanted to read this book so desperately is because everything I had heard about it was just so mysterious. Ms. Tucholke summed it up like this, "There are three characters. There's a villain, a hero, and a liar, but the reader doesn't know who is who." I wanted to know. I wanted to see how a story with three unreliable narrators would unfold. (Also, if we are talking about reasons why I wanted to read this book, I must mention the cover. That cover is incredible and every bit as mysterious as the blurb.)
If you are interested in reading this book, don't sift through a lot of reviews. Go in blind. A book as mysterious as this one is better the less you know. If you need more convincing, read on.
Wink, Poppy, and Midnight. These are our three main characters and the three narrators of our story. Wink is a wild child. She has a mass of red curls and lives in the woods with her free range siblings. Poppy is the queen bee. She has her minions and her pranks. Midnight is the boy who is caught between the two.
Wink Poppy Midnight is a short and strange little book, but it's strange in a good way. I really liked the way that the story is told. Each of the three titular characters takes a turn narrating. The chapters are very short and the writing itself is rather stylized. The language added to the mysterious feel of the story, as did the fact that nothing is ever fully tied down. I don't really know, for example, where exactly these characters live.
Because before I even started reading I knew at least one of the narrators was lying, it was pretty clear that the obvious villain, hero, liar set-up was not the truth and that there were going to be some surprises and reversals. I was pretty suspicious of one character in particular, but it wasn't like We Were Liars where I guessed the whole big reveal early on. Despite my suspicions, it was still very satisfying to see it all begin to come together. For me, the story really picked up once we got to the reveals.
Although I enjoyed this book, it's definitely not one I'd recommend to everyone. The strangeness (and some of the less-savory character traits) are not going to appeal to every reader. But the readers that like this type of thing are going to love this book.
Every year on the anniversary of her brother Jake's death, Jaycee sneaks into the abandoned hospital, a place her brother frequented. She's looking foEvery year on the anniversary of her brother Jake's death, Jaycee sneaks into the abandoned hospital, a place her brother frequented. She's looking for a trace of him. Anything that will help her remember. And, when she finds a map outlining all the sites he visited on his urban exploration trips, she determines that she too will visit those abandoned corners of Ohio.
What Jaycee didn't count on was that a ragtag group of friends, former friends, and maybe more-than friends will insist on joining her on this journey. It's really through these interactions that Jaycee and the other members of her group, Natalie, Mik, Bishop, and Zach, will come to terms with their past and embrace the future.
Each of the characters in You Were Here takes a turn telling the story. Jaycee, Natalie, and Zach through traditional prose. Mik, who is not much of a talker, tells his story in the form of a graphic novel. Bishop contributes street art. I thought the experimental format of Cori McCarthy's book was a lot of fun. I would have loved to see even more imagery.
I also enjoyed the whole urbex aspect of the book. All of the sites the teens visit are (or were) real places. The abandoned sites made for a great setting. Kind of creepy and very evocative. Also, I think they served as a nice metaphor for how thoroughly Jaycee especially, though also the others to a somewhat lesser extent, had removed themselves from the world in the aftermath of Jake's death.
Ashley Montiel died in a bike accident. Six months later, Cloudy, Ashley's best friend, and Kyle, Ashley's boyfriend, discover the identities of someAshley Montiel died in a bike accident. Six months later, Cloudy, Ashley's best friend, and Kyle, Ashley's boyfriend, discover the identities of some of the recipients of Ashley's donated organs. They make the hasty decision to go see the recipients for themselves.
Both Kyle and Cloudy are struggling with Ashley's death in their own ways. I really enjoyed how The Way Back to You dealt with different types of grief and different reactions to a friend's death. Cloudy not only misses her friend fiercely but she also feels a great deal of guilt over a secret she's kept from Ashley and Kyle. Kyle is a wreck. He is ready to quit baseball, so that he can stay in his room listening to his sad playlist over and over again. The road trip allows Kyle and Cloudy to come to terms with the things they need to come to terms with.
One thing that made this book more enjoyable for me was that I've been to many of the places Kyle and Cloudy visit along the way--Sacramento, Sedona, etc. The trek across the Southwest worked for me.
I also was a big fan of the kitten. This story would not be the same without Arm. Putting her into the story was definitely the right call.
My one reservation with this book is that Ashley seemed a little too perfect. On the one hand, it was refreshing not to have the deceased person in the story leaving behind a trail of secrets, but, on the other hand, Ashley would have felt more human if she'd been given a few flaws.
I've been reading all sorts of Sherlock Holmes-inspired YA novels lately (stay tuned), and this is a great one! I really, really enjoyed A Study in Charlotte.
Charlotte Holmes and James Watson are the great-great-grandson and the great-great-granddaughter of the famous detective duo. James has been fascinated with Charlotte his whole life, although they've never met. That is about to change, however, because James is now enrolled at Sherringford, the boarding school in Connecticut that Charlotte already attends. Their first meeting isn't exactly an easy or comfortable one, but then, shortly thereafter, a Sherringford student is murdered, and Charlotte and James are the prime suspects.
I really enjoyed that the Holmes character in Brittany Cavallaro's remix is a girl. For one, that made this retelling stand out, and it also really changed the dynamic of the Holmes/ Watson pair in a way that made it feel fresh and new. I liked how Charlotte and Jamie were always conscious of their illustrious ancestors. The family history, with its added expectations, gave the characters a great foundation as far as motivation was concerned--it added another layer to their relationship, added to their motivation to solve the case, and definitely influenced their psyches. I also felt like Jamie's aspirations as a writer allowed the book to have a more literary feel that linked it nicely with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories, and I really loved the writing style. It just worked for me. A boarding school setting is usually a huge plus, and the framing of Holmes and Watson added a new angle that helped raise the stakes.
Overall, I'm a huge fan. This book was lots of fun, and I will be happy to settle down with Charlotte and Jamie again when the next book comes out.
I love the spin that Heather W. Petty puts on her Sherlock Holmes adaptation. Instead of a Holmes/ Watson duo, we've got a Holmes/ Moriarty pairing. And Mori is a girl. A brilliant, troubled, scared and scarred girl who might be able to beat Sherlock at his own game or may be his true love.
In modern day London, a teenage Sherlock "Lock" Holmes and a teenage James "Mori" Moriarty live on Baker Street. A few blocks away in Regent's Park a dead body is discovered. Lock challenges Mori to solve the case before he does. The one rule is that each player must be completely forthright with the information he or she uncovers. But Mori soon discovers that these murders are much more personal than she originally suspected, and that's when she begins to keep secrets.
Lock & Mori is pretty dark. Murder is always a serious business, but not all murder mysteries plunge into the potential for human depravity like this one does. In that way it's a bit of an emotional ride because Mori is rather a mess and understandably so.
The London setting was a huge bonus for me, in this one. Heather Petty does a great job evoking atmosphere, and I just felt like the characters were where they belonged.
It will be really interesting to see where Ms. Petty takes this series. What's to become of Lock and Mori? Will they be allies or enemies?
Olivia has grown up in the shadow of her mother's suicide. Her father has a difficult time engaging with her because she reminds him of her mother, and, as her grandmother has aged she's begun calling Olivia by her mother's name, Lillian. Though she knows her life isn't really her own, Olivia has a difficult time separating herself from her mother's memory because it's all she has left, and she wants to know her mother so badly.
When Olivia's best friend Jaime gets into a deadly fight with his father Olivia grabs him, her boyfriend Max and their best friend Maggie and runs. The teens flee their small Louisiana town for the anonymity of New Orleans.
Drowning is Inevitable is an emotional book about what it means to be a friend. The ties that bind Jaime, Olivia, Max, and Maggie are so strong because they have faced so much heartbreak together. The book is also about families; dysfunction families, finding family in friendship, and mending family ties. It is very much about loss and dealing with grief as well. There are so many lost characters in this book who are floundering because they never picked up the pieces after a loved one's death. They've blocked out the rest of the world in various ways. Through the course of the novel they are forced to remove the blinders.
Shalanda Stanley's writing is quite lovely and conveys the emotional aspects of this novel so well. Olivia and her friends make some terrible choices in this book, and the consequences they face are very realistic and rather heart-breaking.
I picked up this book because of the cover. It's just gorgeous, and I am particularly drawn to the script. I was so pleased to find the pages within matched the lovely exterior.
My best friend from high school went to graduate school at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. When she would visit we would pepper her with questions about living in Alaska. Her answers made Alaska truly seem like a whole other world. One that I was excited to read more about.
The Smell of Other People's Houses takes place in that whole other world. In 1970 four Alaskan teenagers' lives will slowly become entwined. The novel is told through the perspectives of these four seemingly unrelated characters. Ruth and her younger sister live with her grandmother, and she's drawn to less-repressive homes. Alyce's dreams of dancing conflict with her time with her father on his fishing boat. Dora is trying to escape the nightmare of her past. Hank and his brothers stow away on the ferry.
It is difficult to express in words the simple elegance of Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock's novel. I love books like this that create a quiet, contemplative mood and that only comes with superb writing. The language in this book is exquisite. The reading experience is beautiful both in content and in execution.
As would be expected in a book like this, the setting is a huge part of the book. There are plenty of Alaska-specific traditions and customs that add to the overall feel of the book. (I especially enjoyed my time with Alyce on her father's fishing boat.) Yet the characters themselves are never overwhelmed by the setting.
Every character in this book is dealing with some big issue. Truly, many of them are in heart-wrenching situations. Despite those issues the book remains very character driven. With the combination of tough issues, lovely writing, and heartfelt characters it should be no surprise that this book delivers some powerful emotions. I'm glad that I read it.
I am a sucker for time travel novels with blue covers, and look at this amazing cover.
Nix Song lives aboard a time-traveling ship with her father and his crew. They could be described as time-traveling pirates because they roam from era to era collecting unusual artifacts to sell to their contacts. All of this is done in the service of Nix's father's one obsession: to return to a time where his wife, Nix's mother, is living.
I love the way that time travel works in The Girl from Everywhere. To time travel, the crew must obtain an original, hand-drawn map. Using that map to navigate allows the travelers to journey to the year the map was made. When Nix's father finally finds a map that will allow his to travel back to 1868 Honolulu to save his wife, Nix is full of misgivings. What if saving her mother means that she'll no longer exist? Why isn't she enough for her father?
Other than the fabulously original method of time travel, the other big draw of this book is that it's primarily set in the Hawaiian past. I love how Heidi Heilig wove the story of Nix and the crew with the true history of Hawaii. (And, I love how she explains all this in the Author's Note at the end. When there's an Author's Note, I always read it.)
Leon Leyson was ten years old when the Nazis invaded Poland. This book is a memoir of his young life. He experienced the Krakow ghetto, survived the Plaszow concentration camp, and was eventually taken under the wing of Oskar Schindler. As one of the youngest children on Schindler's famous list, Leyson's story is the perfect way to introduce young readers to that amazing story of bravery, compassion, and intelligence.
I think everyone in my book club enjoyed reading and discussing this book. It's a very quick read. It only took me about 2 and a half hours to read the whole book, but its power is not at all diminished by its brevity. ...more
Jack Mandelbaum was a young boy when the Nazis invaded Poland. He was quickly separated from his family and sent to Blechhammer concentration camp. Left to survive on his own, Jack's tale is one of fortitude and endurance, great sorrow, and the will to survive.
Andrea Warren excels at writing nonfiction for young readers. She deftly conveys the tragedies and triumphs of Jack's life. ...more
The United States 807th Medical Evacuation Squadron crash landed in Nazi-occupied Albania. It took them three months and a hike of over 1000 miles to reach the sea and an evacuation boat. They battled blizzards and had many close calls with Nazis and Nazi sympathizers. Along the way they were aided by local partisans and several British Special Operatives.
I learned quite a lot while reading Eric Braun's Trapped Behind Nazi Lines. Nazi-occupied Albania is not an aspect of WWII that is often discussed. It was really interesting to learn about the occupation in Albania and what the locals and Allies were doing to thwart the Nazis. I'm particularly interested in the work of the British Special Operatives and would like to learn more about their role in occupied areas during the war.
The escape of the 807th MES is even more remarkable considering that the group consisted of medics and nurses. They were not necessarily trained in combat, had no weapons, and were not prepared for the harsh climate.
It was also interesting to learn about why many of them did not tell their stories in the years after the war. Several kept silent because of the political situation in Albania.
A story of courage and resistance, this is a great nonfiction book for young readers interested in World War II.
Ada has spent her whole life in her flat. Her mother won't let her go outside because she's ashamed of her twisted foot. When the war starts and the cAda has spent her whole life in her flat. Her mother won't let her go outside because she's ashamed of her twisted foot. When the war starts and the children of London are being shipped to the country, Ada sneaks out with her brother Jamie and joins the evacuated children.
The War That Saved My Life felt so familiar to me in the best of ways. This type of book where the child in a bad situation develops a trusting relationship with a caring adult is one that I read a lot as a child.
I absolutely loved Susan Smith, and I thought that Kimberly Brubaker Bradley did a nice job making her feel like an actual adult. I think sometimes these type of books can have adults that are a little too perfect, but Susan definitely had her ups and downs, and she talked to the children in a way that felt very familiar to me.
I like Ada's tenacity. She is a tough little girl, but I was equally pleased to see the real effects of the trauma that she had suffered. And that that trauma stuck around for the entire book.
I also like the way that the war is woven into the story. The Dunkirk episode, especially, was a big turning point for our characters.
Symptoms of Being Human opens with: "The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?" These are the opening lines in Riley Cavanaugh's first anonymous blog post. Riley is gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, some days as a girl. Sometimes a flip can happen in the middle of the day. As a result, Riley is dealing with some pretty hefty body dysphoria, meaning that the body Riley inhabits often feels like it doesn't fit. The dysphoria causes an anxiety that landed Riley in a mental health facility and with a therapist who prescribed this anonymous blog to help Riley find a community. Then the blog goes viral.
As if Riley's life isn't complicated enough, Riley's father is a congressman running for reelection, and Riley has just transferred to a new school. Facing bullying and pressures at home Riley feels compelled to keep this secret.
Beyond informing its audience of the ins and out of what it means to be gender fluid, Symptoms of Being Human has a lot of heart. Riley finds two friends and allies at the new school, and they are both great characters. Also, Riley has a very supportive family, and ends up finding support in the community as well.
I never like reading about bullying, and Riley suffers through some truly terrible moments. This book definitely feels like an issues-book, but sometimes an issues book is what's needed.
Kristin Lattimer is a track star and homecoming queen. She has two great best friends and a long term boyfriend. Then, at a routine gynecology appointment, she learns that she is intersex. She has androgen insensitivity syndrome meaning that her body is resistant to male hormones. People with AIS have XY chromosomes but the many of the physical traits of a woman.
Author I.W. Gregorio is a surgeon, and she was inspired to write this story because of an encounter during her residency with an teenage intersex young woman who has just discovered her condition. It was clear to me while reading that Gregorio had experience in the medical field as she was able to navigate the reader through all of these aspects of the book with superb adroitness.
Kristin's response to her diagnose is written very realistically. I could quite easily understand why Kristin made the choices she did in the weeks that passed after finding out. I actually grew quite fond of Kristin. She is a very sympathetic character. She's a good person, and, of course, I am always a fan of characters who are runners.
Kristin's biggest challenge is what other people are saying and thinking about her. When the story is circulated around the school you can imagine how betrayed she feels. Luckily, there are some really lovely characters who befriend Kristin while she is navigating this new reality. Darren, is particularly great, but I also quite liked snarky Julia.
Burn, the second book in the Four Sisters series, is more of a companion novel than an outright sequel. Stray, the first book in the series, also made my list of favorite debits of the year in 2014. It's a twisted fairy tale with a feminist flare that gives us a new take on fairy godmothers. I eagerly awaited the next addition to this world, but it didn't quite live up to my expectations.
In Burn Elanor, one of the Orphans who helped Aislynn escape in Stray, returns to the Mountain. And then nothing really happens for a long time. Sure Elanor hears that people are planning on leaving, she participates in a raid, and rescues her brother and a stranger from Josetta's castle, but none of this feels essential or helps to build any sort of tension whatsoever. None of the side characters have any depth at all, not even Aislynn, who was the main character in the last book and surely has some internal motivation.
The last fifth of the book does pick up, and, in a series of reversals, suddenly things are pretty darn exciting. The sad part about this is that it only served to show me how interesting the world of Burn could have been if only it were a bit more fully developed.
Burn is a short novel. Too short, in fact. It reads more like a novella than a fully fledged stand-alone book. I guess the good news is that it only took me an evening to read.
Last year I read the first in the Soulfinder series, Shadow Study, and it completely renewed my love this world and these characters. I'm happy to report that Night Study kept that love fest going.
Night Study picks up right where Shadow Study left off. Owen Moon has been foiled but not captured. With Yelena's powers still mysteriously missing, Yelena agrees to return to Ixia with Valek only to find that Ixia is not a safe haven either. Tensions between Ixia and Sitia are heating up and allies are falling fast.
Night Study, following in Shadow Study's wake, continues to explore Valek's past with some surprising and very satisfying developments. I, like most Study Series fans, absolutely love Valek, and the more time I spend with him the more I love him. Valek makes some decisions in this book that are cause to cheer. Also, there are many lovely moments between Yelena and Valek. I am so happy to see them this devoted and happy together.
I continue to adore the side characters, as well. As Janco says, they have become a little misfit family. Janco, Leif, Ari, and Fisk, are all well represented in this book. Plus, we have the addition of a few new characters that I think readers will find quite intriguing.
Night Study is intense in the best of ways. So much happens in this book and with every page the conspiracy seems to thicken. I kept thinking, "Oh, things can't possible get any worse." And then they would not only get a little worse but much worse! How our characters are going to turn everything around, I just do not know. The set up for the next book is quite well done. I'm going to snatch up Dawn Study as soon as I am able.
Westie lives in Rogue City, a place where humans, creatures, and Native tribes freely mingle. It's a rough town, but it suits Westie just fine. ThereWestie lives in Rogue City, a place where humans, creatures, and Native tribes freely mingle. It's a rough town, but it suits Westie just fine. There she has the freedom to pursue her one goal: find the cannibals who killed her family.
Revenge and the Wild is a fun combination of urban fantasy and steampunk. Westie's adoptive father, Nigel, is a brilliant inventor. He built a machine prosthetic to replace Westie's severed arm, and a mask that allows Alistair to talk. Now Nigel is building a machine that can amplify the magic in gold. The machine's completion is of the utmost importance because magic is fading.
Michelle Modesto created a really interesting alternate wild west. I liked the gritty feel to the this book. Westie is a pretty single-minded person, and I appreciated her spunk and grit, even as she kept bungling things. I quite liked many of the side characters, as well, especially Alastair and Costin. The cannibals are pretty creepy, making for a heart-stopping conclusion.