Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Seventeen year old Lennie is trying to make it through being back at school after the sudden, tragic death of her beautiful sister, Bailey.  Their mom left when they were young and the girls lived with their grandmother.  Dealing with death is hard enough on a teenager, but Lennie's issues become even more complicated when she not only starts to have strong feelings for the amazingly hot, beautiful, talented new boy at school, Joe, but also Toby - her sisters boyfriend.  She's never been in a relationship or even kissed many people for that matter, so when she has to deal with feelings for two guys at once, it's a lot.  And the one person she wishes were there to talk about it with - her sister - is dead.  In Jandy Nelson's debut novel, Lennie's life is put right out there for the reader to follow.  This book is beautifully written and full of emotions:  passion, sadness, confusion.  I absolutely loved it and couldn't put it down.  What I loved most of all was just the descriptions of love.  First, true, forever loves are amazing and the way that Nelson writes about Lennie's feelings will hit home with adults and teens alike.  You must read this book.  It is amazing!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Eli the Good by Silas House

In 1976, Eli Book is a ten year old kid who lives in the beautiful countryside and enjoys life.  He loves to write, play with his best friend Edie, and be in the woods with the trees.  If only life were this easy, though.  This book is a reflection on a summer in Eli's life in which life was really simple but also completely complicated at the same time.  Eli's father is a Vietnam veteran and has problems and flashbacks related to the war.  Eli wants to understand about this but his father won't talk to him about it at all.  Eli decides to go about finding out about his father's time in the war on his own.  Edie is a close friend for Eli, but even this simple relationship is complicated when Edie announces that he parents are getting divorced.  Eli's sixteen-year-old sister, Josie begins acting differently and questioning everything.  His crazy war-protesting aunt, Nell, shows up to live with them for the summer.  All these people are dealing with so much and Eli narrates the story of a family struggling to be together and stay together even during rough times.  The book is told by the grown-up Eli.  He gives insights into the summer that he can only have by looking back.  I liked this book ok.  It was interesting to read about the father's time in Vietnam, and I could identify with Eli when he wanted to know about his parents but couldn't find a way to ask.  I appreciated the portrait of this family and Eli's reflection but kept waiting for more. 

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

I knew this book would be intense when I started.  I was drawn in immediately and just couldn't stop reading.  Wow.  That's the main word I feel right now....just, wow.

On May 2, 2008 Nick Levil, a student at Garvin High begins a shooting spree in his school commons area before school.  This is a day that no one will forget, especially his girlfriend Valerie.  Nick turned the gun on himself but not after killing and wounding students, teachers, and Valerie herself.

Dealing with a tragedy like this is hard even if you aren't even directly affect by it.  But Valerie is right in the middle of it all.  She went out with Nick for three years.  She loved him.  They made a "hate list" together naming all the people who got on their nerves at school.  Nick read names from the list during the shooting.  Valerie steps in the way of one of his bullets that day.  She gets shot.  She sort of saves another girl's life.  But she's a part of this.  The police want to know her involvement.  She's dealing with so much.  After summer, Valerie has to go back to school and face them all....the students on the hate list, the teachers, the people who hate her...can she do it?  Is there any way she can become "normal" again?  Is there any point?

In this book Valerie deals with it all:  parents, her shrink, kids at school, everyone.  She has to tackle her issues and figure out how she can go on with her life or if that is even possible at all.  What's worse is that she loved Nick...she still loves him...

It doesn't get much more complicated than this.  Like I said earlier, this book completely drew me in from the first moment.  Some of it was hard to read and it got to me at times, but it was a great read. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

I read this book once when I was a kid but couldn't remember it, really.  So I picked it up again and sat down to enjoy.

The book begins on a dark and stormy night, and things only get stranger and creepier from there.  Meg Murray is a normal kid.  She's smart but gets in trouble at school.  She's seen as "belligerent" and unruly by her teachers.  She knows how to do math problems fast using her "shortcuts" her dad taught her, and of course, these behaviors make the teachers annoyed.  She's one of many in her family including her twin brothers Sandy and Dennys, and her "strange" little brother Charles Wallace.  On top of all this, Meg's father, who worked for the government, has gone missing.  He just wasn't there any more.  While Meg, her brothers, and her mother all believe he's out there somewhere and will come home, most other people think that Meg's dad is never coming back (or worse has run off with another woman or something).

At this point, Meg and Charles Wallace go down with their friend Calvin to the hold creepy house down the street and encounter some strange women:  Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, and Mrs Which.  In a flash they are no longer in their safe neighborhood but in an entirely different universe.  Once they jump to a new time and place that night, they have a crazy adventure ahead of them if they want to make it back.  They get a chance to find Meg's father, but can three kids battle what waits out there in the universe?  Read this classic and take a journey to far away places.  I loved the book this read-through, and I think I might read the rest of the books in the Quintet now.  I'd like to see what happens to Charles Wallace, Meg, and Calvin.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson

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I was soooooo mad when this book ended.  Once I got into Scarlett Fever, the sequel to Suite Scarlett, I was hooked and then it just ended on me.  I am definitely already ready for the next installment of this fabulous New York girl and her life.

So Scarlett Fever picks up after the first book, obviously.  The hotel Hamlet production has ended and now life seems blank, bleary, and boyless as Scarlett looks around the empty hotel.  School's about to start and she still works for the crazy Mrs. Amberson, but she can't stop thinking about Eric, her sort-of boyfriend from the summer.

Mrs. Amberson started her own acting agency which has one client (Spencer, Scarlett's brother) as of now, but they are hoping to find more.

Scarlett's older siblings seem depressed while her younger sister, Marlene is strangely acting nice.

On top of all this, enter Chelsea Biggs and her crazy stage mom....oh, and Max, Chelsea's brother.  Mrs. Amberson wants Chelsea to sign with the agency but needs to use her "secret weapon," Scarlett to seal the deal and make it work.  Scarlett finds herself starting school, pining away for Eric, dealing with her brothers acting career, walking a rat dog that pees everywhere, and getting annoyed to death by Max who is in high school yet seems to act like a troll or fifth grader every time she's around him.

Sounds like a wonderful start to the year, huh?

Well, in this second book you get to follow Scarlett around the city on her crazy errands and adventures as she continues to find her place in the city, the world, and her own life.  I loved this book just as much as the first and can't wait for Scarlett #3.  (And I am wondering what the next titles will be and how they will use Scarlett's name....Oh, and my only beef with this book is the cover.  I know it matches the paperback....but I'm annoyed that it doesn't "go" with the first book...they don't look like sister books or friends....but that's not really a big deal.)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Liar by Justine Larbalestier

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Wow.  This girl is crazy.  That's my main thought right now as I try to piece together Liar.  The title says it all right her.  Micah is a liar - that's the only truth you know right away.  But she promises to come clean during the book and tell the truth.

With short hair and a thin frame, Micah can easily pass for a guy and actually does for two days at her new school.  But once she's found out, everyone knows she's a girl and life moves on.  Micah lies to her classmates, her parents, and her teachers.  But lying is hard.  So many details to remember; so many lines of lies can get crossed.

Micah tries to come clean when Zach, one of the best guys at school and Micah's boyfriend goes missing.  His body is later found and Micah, along with everyone else, tries to make sense of what exactly happened to him.

When you pick up this book, you are in for quite a ride inside the head of a girl who can weave lies magically.  This book is full of twists and turns.  Can Micah really tell us, as readers the truth about her life and what happened?  I guess you'll have to read and see. 

Friday, February 12, 2010

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

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This story about Ida Mae Jones was an amazing new take on a WWII story.  There are many YA books about the time period, but this one shows us a whole new world - the world of the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots).

Ida Mae lives in Louisiana with her mama, grandfather, and younger brother.  Her older brother is away at medical school, and her father died a few years before in a farming accident.  Ida Mae and her friend Jolene clean houses to make money after graduating from high school.  While Ida Mae cleans, all she can think about is getting enough money saved up to go to Chicago to try to get licensed as a pilot.

She knows all about flying.  Her daddy got a plane and dusted crops.  From the moment Ida Mae went up the first time, she knew she wanted to be in the air, feeling the wind in her hair and seeing the sky all around her.

When the war starts, life changes for all Americans.  Ida's brother goes to war, and Ida learns about the WASP program.  She wants to go so badly but the only problem is that she is black.  "Negro" women aren't even considered for the program, so the only way Ida Mae can join is if she keeps her hair straight and uses her light skin to "pass" as white.  Against the wishes of her mother, she goes to Texas to become a real pilot.  Texas isn't a safe place, though, for a black girl pretending to be a white pilot, and while Ida is confident that she can fly planes, she's not so sure she can pull this off the whole time.

I loved the girls that she joins in the WASP program, especially Lily and Patsy.  All the girls doing men's work reminded me of the movie A League of Their Own.  The girls in the book have a fun time and help each other through life during the war.  This is a great read that shows a wonderful new perspective on a WWII story.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

the dead & the gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer

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I read Life As We Knew it last year and loved it.  the dead & the gone is the companion novel to this one.  it can be read alone or before or after the other book.

Alex Morales is 17 years old and a junior in high school.  He lives in New York and is a good kid.  He's got two little sisters and his parents at home in their basement apartment.  His dad takes care of the apartment building, and Alex's mom just started working as a operation room technician after going back to school to get her education.  Alex is on scholarship at a private Catholic boys school where he is in the student government and on the debate  team.  He works after school at a local pizza joint and helps out his family however he can.  His life isn't the most amazing in the world, but it's good....until....

The meteor hits the moon, knocking the moon closer to earth.

What follows in this book is a day by day account of what happens to Alex and his family once the moon has been hit.  At first no one knows what's going on, but bit by bit Alex starts to realize that life will never be the same.  What's even worse is that after he doesn't hear from either of his parents for a few days, he begins to think he never will.  Will Alex's parents return?  How will he take care of his sisters?  They are ok for a while, but soon food becomes scarce, the sun stops shining, and dead bodies begin to pile up on the city streets of New York.

This book was really interesting because it was different from the first one.  In the first book, Miranda, the main character, was from a small rural Pennsylvania town, and this book shows what happened in the big city.

What I am even more excited about is that the final book in this trilogy This World We Live In, comes out soon this spring.  In this new book, the paths of Miranda and Alex cross and we'll  get to see what the world is like a year from when this all happens.  I'm really wondering if they'll all die or if the scientists will figure out a way to fix the problem or if they'll find new ways to survive.

Both of these books are great, you should pick on up now!

Friday, February 5, 2010

My Big Fat Greek Reading Week

So!  I read two great Greek gods books this week, and I would highly recommend both.

I have wanted to read the Percy Jackson series for a while now.  The movie previews made me get a copy and get started.

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Percy Jackson has trouble when he goes on class field trips.  He also has  trouble staying in a the same school for more than a year.  He always seems to get in trouble or kicked out.  He finds out, though, that there may be a reason for this...monsters from mythology are following him because he's the son of Poseidon and mixed up in a very sticky struggle between the gods of Olympus.  When he finally gets to the beach to relax with his mother away from his horrible step-father, their peace is ruined by a minotaur and Percy's introduction to Camp Half-Blood.  From this moment on, Percy realizes that he's not your average kid, and that his life will never be the same.  Someone has stolen Zeus' sacred, most powerful thunderbolt, and Percy must help discover what has happened to it and return it by the summer solstice or else lots of people (and gods, and monsters) will be hurt.

I loved Percy Jackson - The Lightning Thief, and I can't wait to read the rest of the series.  It was really fun like Harry Potter, and totally cool to see the gods and monsters and powerful beings of mythology at work in the real world...they're all out there, we just don't quite see them!

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My second Greek read was Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs.  While Percy's gods are right there in the America with him and all the rest of us.  The gods and their descendants in Childs' book are located on an oh so beautiful island called Serfopoula.  Poebe is about to start her senior year when her mother suddenly announces that she's fallen in love and they will be moving to Greece.  Not exactly the way you want your senior year to begin.  Poebe has not choice, though, and she's tough and can probably survive anything for nine months.  Then she can just go back to the states, go to college with her pals Cesa and Nola at USC and move on with life.  Greece isn't the only problem she faces though, her new school, the Academy, is full of a different kind of student.  She be leaving her friends to go to school with kids who are all descended from the Greek gods.  As if high school weren't hard enough, now she's the nothos, the newbie, and will have to keep up with these super-power godlike others as best she can.  If regular high school girls can be a pain though...girls with goddess powers are even worse.  Can Poebe survive a year here?  Sure, the island is beautiful, but will that be enough?  Read this book to take a journey overseas and watch Poebe as she navigates a very unusual school.

This book was super fun!  I loved Poebe.  She was honest and funny.  She felt lots of emotions during the move, which is what any of us would feel like if we had to move  to a new situation.  This is a great read with a fun magical twist.  I will probably be picking up the sequel soon!