Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bruiser by Neal Shusterman

Tennyson doesn’t really like the Bruiser. He’s weird, standoffish, and just a huge bulk of nothing. But when his sister Bronte begins dating the Bruiser, that’s when Tenny’s had enough. The only way to break them up is to confront the guy, and that’s what Tennyson plans to do.

But his confrontation with the Bruiser isn’t what he expected. Brewster, aka Bruiser, doesn’t fight back, even though he’s big enough to pound Tennyson down. But it’s what Tennyson sees that makes him realize there’s more than meets the eye. Brewster’s back is covered with scars, bruises, bump, blisters…like someone has beaten the living daylights out of him….

And that’s where the story truly begins. Brewster and his little brother Cody live with his Uncle Hoyt, a mean drunk who works a steamroller at night and stays home during the day. Uncle Hoyt keeps Brew and Cody close, not wanting any outsiders in their “circle” and when Tennyson and Bronte step over that boundary, they don’t quite understand what they stepped into….

Strange coincidences – Tennyson’s bruised knuckles from lacrosse disappear, Bronte’s sprained ankle feels instantly better….and when they’re around Brew, they notice his red, injured knuckles and the limp he now has. Cody knows the secret and knows that his big brother would never let anything hurt him. Now Bronte and Tennyson know his secret as well, but they don’t know all of it or the ramifications it will have not only on Brewster himself, but on their family and friends as well.

If your family is falling apart; if you want so badly to be the next MVP; if you want to make a person’s life better by showing them true friendship….how far will you go? But more importantly, would you be willing to sacrifice one for the sake of all? Which hurts more – living in your own bubble without any meaningful relationships or caring for the people around you and making whatever hurts them your own?

I know I have an amazing book in my hands when I read through it in one sitting, but don’t want to read it all because then it’ll be over. Such is the case with Neal Shusterman’s newest YA novel. This isn’t just about child abuse, but something much deeper, much more emotional, and very thought-provoking. What seems innocent and helpful at first can be deadly and dangerous if put in the wrong hands. Shusterman not only wields a powerful tale told in different voices of the main characters, but also works magic on the reader by pulling them in on a rollercoaster ride of emotional and edge of your seat situations. I also loved his subtle use of vocabulary enhancement as well…something all readers get when they read, perhaps more so with this book. Excellent read for all secondary grade levels.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Wildthorn by Jane Eagland

In Victorian England, the protocol for young ladies was to learn the gentle arts (embroidery, music, hosting parties) and her goal of achievement was to marry a gentleman, start and family and become part of a social network of genteel ladies that included visiting cards and tea, and socials. But Louisa wants none of that….

Living in a home with the perfect Victorian mother as a model, Louisa struggles against her mother’s wishes and runs to her father for support. And it’s there that her father gives Louisa a look at the “other side,” a place of learning about medicine, reading and studying Latin, wanting more from life than scones, teas and garden parties. And Louisa wants this so badly.

Because of her gregarious nature, Louisa fights against becoming a gentlewoman. At her aunt’s house, she shows her true nature by speaking outright against the position women are held in and wants nothing of marriage, but a career instead. And this alarms her family more than she realizes…

With the passing of her father, the fate of her future now rests with her brother Tom, who is now head of household. He has deemed it fit for Louisa to become a companion to a friend’s sister, and there she must find her meaning in life. But what she doesn’t realize is that she’s been committed by her family to Wildthorn, the local insane asylum, to cure her of her “insanity.” And it’s at Wildthorn that will make or break Louisa, but is her will strong enough to survive the horrors she faces there?

This is Eagland’s first YA novel, and she tackles the historical side of Victorian England from all viewpoints, including parents, siblings, fiancees, men and women. What the reader realizes after reading this book is that problems young women face today are the same ones they faced over a hundred years ago. The only difference is the way these problems have been handled by society. Eagland writes not only about the forward movement of women into the workforce, but tackles personal issues as well, including assault against teens and feelings Louisa has toward the "gentler sex." The setting takes main stage in this book, looking at the horrors of what happened in an insane asylum in the Victorian Age. The only caveat would be the epilogue, which seemed to be a hasty happy ending of Louisa’s and Eliza’s relationship with each other. Otherwise, the allusions, situations, and twists Eagland writes within her novel makes this an outstanding new debut for YA fiction.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Need to know the Newest YA out there?

I have a partial solution!  This blog features YA authors who are debuting novel this year!!  There's a list from April Henry, to Lisa Schroeder to Michael Northrup.  Not only are they debuting new novels, but there's also videos, booktrailers and just some pretty interesting stuff on there....
I'm going to start following this one : )

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Violet knew she had an unusual gift the day she found the dead body when she was nine years old....Flash foward...
Vi is now a junior in high school.  She has a pretty good life, her circle of friends are there for her, her best friend since third grade, Jay, is still her best friend.  She has parents and an uncle who love her.  Life couldn't be better.  Except for the imprints...
What are they?  They're what's left of animals or people the moment they die.  They linger, following and finding Vi through sound or color.  Vi can see which people have imprints, from war veterans to policemen and firefighters.  She can also see the imprints left on the dead...

HE is looking for his next victim.  He can't help himself.  The hunt is extravagant...making him feel so good.  He looks for those that are alone, the beautiful helpless one, and takes her.  But his hunting grounds have to change.  Restrictions are now making him hunt in a more confined area.  But he's careful, because he's been doing this for years...

Vi's friendships, especially with Jay are slowly changing.  She can't shake the feeling that she wants to be more with her best friend, but at the same time is afraid of losing him as a friend if he doesn't feel the same way.  What is a girl to do?  And then she finds another body, this time at a party at the lake, and the imprint is calling out to her louder than ever before....

HE can't believe the body was found so quickly?  What does the sheriff's niece know and how?  He thought he was being smart, hunting quickly and quietly.  He's decided this girl who keeps finding his body may have to be next....

What an excellent mystery novel!  Not only does Derting use murder mystery as a backdrop, but she is able to deftly weave in a story about friendship, love and connections at the same time.  The two even each other out, while not losing the reading to either storyline.  The reader gets to know all the characters involved with each other, and will think they know who the elusive "HE" is but like all good mysteries, not until the last part of the book.  And yes...there is a twist!  Sensual, supernatural, suspenseful all wrapped up in a great YA novel!  Highly recommended.

Friday, September 10, 2010

You Are Not Here by Samantha Schutz

Annaleah loves Brian.  He's the one....the one that makes her feel weak in the knees.  The one whose kisses she craves and whose arms feels best around her.  Annaleah would do anything for him.  She forgives him when he doesn't return phone calls.  And forgives him again when he says he'll show up but doesn't.  And she'll forgive him again when he says he'll meet her friends, but he doesn't...

And then the most terrible thing in the world happens.  Brian dies...and Annaleah goes into a tailspin.  She has her friends Marissa, Parker and Joy who want to help, but she pushes them away.  She has her mother, but doesn't want to tell her anything.  She's fallen into a depression that wraps its arms around her and kisses her, promising to stay with her if she's faithful.  And she is.  Annaleah goes to Brian's grave, lays down beside him and tells him everything. 

Slowly life changes.  Her friends move on, her mother continues to work, and Annaleah is left alone with the Dearly Departed and Brian.  But it takes someone and something to alter her life and see it for what it truly is.  But can Annaleah resist the urge to isolate herself or fall headlong into the only comfort zone she knows?

Schutz has written a beautiful novel in verse about how one teen deals with depression on her own terms and slowly realizes the world she's created.  Readers will know from the onset the persona of Brian and feel for Annaleah, while also trying to help her friends get her to know the truth.  This is a fast read of a great story about love, loss and healing, with perfect characterization that will take the reader to the ending.  A perfect pairing for those who enjoy novels from Lisa Schroeder.   Recommended.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher - booktrailer

Just finished this not too long ago. I tried to upload it to blogger...can't.

Click here to watch the video

You can also embed it onto your website : )

Friday, September 3, 2010

Something Like Fate by Susane Colasanti

Junior year is upon Lani. She's been looking at the stars and tracking her horoscope and knows this year will be the best ever. She has her friends Erin and Blake beside her, and although she's not part of the Golden Circle, she is still likeable by her classmates.

Erin, her best friend, is also ready for high school, especially when she sees Jason, the guy she's been crushing on. Erin usually gets what she wants, and Lani is there cheering her on. Blake is hoping to get through his last year without any bumps in the road, and Lani is keeping his secret. Life couldn't get any better.

But then summer arrives, and as with all summers, life unexpectedly changes. Lani faces some major challenges before her senior year ever starts. And the biggest obstacle? How to tell her best friend that Jason and her are seeing each other. And Blake's secret? Oops.... Senior year isn't what Lani is hoping or wishing for, and the fates are definitely working against her.

Need some light and fun reading? This is one to pick up. It's a definite magnet for girls to want to read. What can be more taboo that dating someone's ex when the ex won't let go? Colasanti has weaved together two episodes in one life about love, friendship, betrayals, and healing. This will be one handed from one girl to another!