Monday, October 31, 2011

The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder

Amber sneaks out of her house this morning. She’s been thinking about it for quite awhile and she’s prepared herself. She has all the essentials to get her by: jelly beans, drumsticks, and a limo waiting to take her to the ocean. It’s the day before the thing she is dreading most, and she has only this one day to herself to figure it all out…

Cade is standing in the aquarium mesmerized by the swirling, floating jellyfish. He’s here on purpose to lose himself however he can. He thinks he’s prepared for what going to happen. It’s the day before the thing he is dreading the most, and he’s hoping to find the courage to face it, using this one day.

Amber and Cade meet accidentally, and this is where their journey begins. It starts out quite innocently, no one daring to tell their story, or what is going to happen. But slowly, the stories pour forth along with the pain of decisions needing to be met. Heads: you lose; tails: you lose. Is there even a winning side? Both Amber and Cade aren’t sure, but they do know that this is a day of oxymorons – happiness found inside the overwhelming fears both must face.

Is one day enough?

Lisa Schroeder’s novel in verse will carry the reader forward with the story of each person slowly coming to the surface without the reader losing interest. Her story is poetic, not only in the cirumstances both teens finds themselves in, but also in her concrete poetry she scatters throughout the pages. Redemption can be found even in the darkest of places and Schroeder’s novel captures these two elements with clarity and beauty. After reading this book, it did make me stop and think about both character’s situation and what tough decisions in life both have to make. That is a sign of a quality book. Recommended.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Texas Gothic by Rosemary- Clement Moore

Amy thought she was going to have a peaceful summer while her Aunt Hyacinth was in China. How hard would it be to take care of her aunt’s herb farm in the beautiful hill country of Texas? The worst thing Amy encountered so far were trying to keep the goats out of the yard.

Until she ran after them in her underwear. And met Ben McCullogh…

The McCulloghs own the ranch in Barnett that surrounds Aunt Hyacinth’s small farm. Ben (and everyone in town) has always known the Goodnights have a little bruja to them. And Amy and Ben’s first chance meeting causes even more friction. Not only do the families have a tenuous relationship, but a recent project on the McCulloughs ranch has brought on even more tension. Long dead bodies have been excavated, and the ghost of the Mad Monk now haunts Amy.

Amy and her sister Phin are now part of the anthropological dig headed up by a team of UT students and their professor. The bones seem to be from long ago, but it’s the dangerous and threatening ghost that tries to harm Amy that is the foremost concern for the sisters. Amy now realizes she’s haunted, but doesn’t know what the ghost wants. All he tells her is to be careful (Alto! Cuidado!) but is that enough?

Ben doesn’t want to help Amy find solutions, nor does he believe in hauntings. Even his worst enemies, the Kellys (including the deputy) tell Amy to stay away from trouble and quit stirring up the community. Amy would love more than to stop, but her haunting won’t let her go. It’s telling her to find him…but will it lead to more danger that it’s worth? What exactly is going on at the McCullough ranch?

A great ghost story founded on Texas legend, this novel will be one where teens will find a great mixed genre of supernatural and mystery. The Goodnight girls’ personalities, as well as that of the family, will carry the reader, while the sharp romance between Ben and Amy will carry the reader even further. Adding a flair for modern forensics and ghost-hunting, this novel balances past history with today’s techniques readers may be familiar with. It’s Ghost Adventures meets CSI – all in a great YA book. For a Texas native myself, Clement-Moore’s writing captures the heart and scenery of Texas, from the families to the folklore to the personality of small town Texas.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Okay, a little shameless self-promotion

Sometimes, there are things I post on my Twitter feed that I don't put on my blog.  If you want to see links to sites, comments et al, look at:

teacher librarian with a twist of technology

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Zombie Books

With all the interest about zombies, I decided to compile this list of suggestions, add to and tweak it a little, and post it just in time for Halloween! Check out the trailers with the Youtube links : )

My Boyfriend is a Monster: I Love Him to Pieces (graphic novels)

Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey

Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse? By Max Brallier

Bad Taste in Boys- Carrie Harris

Zombies Vs Unicorns- Holly Black

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies—Seth Grahame Smith

The Forest of Hands and Teeth. The Dead Tossed Waves. The Dark and Hollow Places. by Carrie Ryan.

The Zombie Survival Guide: How to live like a King after the Outbreak. by Etienne Guerin DeForest

World War Z by Max Brooks

Boneshaker by CheriePriest

Generation Dead series by Dan Waters

Zombie Haiku by RyanMecum

The Maze Runner series by James Dashner

Rot and Ruin; Dust and Decay by Jonathan Maberry

Z by Michael Thomas Ford

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

Never Slow Dance with a Zombie by by Ehrich Van Lowe

The Cellar by A.J. Whitten

Dust by Joan Frances Turner

The Boy Who Couldn't Die by William Sleator

The Enemy by Charlie Higson

The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell

The Zombie Autopsies by Steven Schlozman

I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked it by Adam Selzer

Zombie Blondes by Brian James

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Divergent by Veronica Roth

2011 HarperCollins

In New Chicago, there are five factions of societies:  The Dauntless, who have no fear; the Erudite, who have knowledge; the Amity, who are kind and open; the Abnegation, who possess selflessness; and the Candor, who are honest. Then there are the factionless, who don't belong to any group, but are drifters living on the streets, reliant on handouts.  Then there are the Divergent....

Beatrice has only known Abnegation.  She sees the selfless life she leads, but when she and her brother Caleb go to school, her eyes automatically turn to the Dauntless - they intrigue her.  Now, Beatrice is to go through the ceremony which all sixteen year olds go through and make her ultimate decision, whether to stay in her faction or leave it completely behind and start a new life in a new faction.  She also carries a dark secret with her.  She is Divergent, a special set of people who possess traits of more than one faction.

Her brother chooses the Erudite, a faction known to stir trouble with the Abnegation faction, who are in charge of the government.  Beatrice chooses Dauntless, and a new name - Tris.  Her family is devastated, and Tris knows that she'll never see them again, but what waits her for during her initiation process into Dauntless gives her no chance to mourn.  She'll either be part of the faction or factionless if she fails.

It is during her initiation that Tris understands more about herself, what she is capable of doing, and the secret of her status as Divergent.  Tris also uncovers a plot created by the Erudite, threatening the existence of the factions and causing chaos and death.  But is knowing enough?  Is Tris strong enough to fight against this plot, or become a part of it?  Faction over blood is the Dauntless credo...Tris has to make the ultimate decision.

This is a excellent novel for those who enjoy reading dystopian fiction.  The author takes the reader into New Chicago and her writing creates images for the reader, a trait seen in quality writing.  It is the characters, though, that are the strong part of the novel, from those showing love to those who are reckless, to the evil a human can possess.  Adults also play a strong role in this novel and aren't use simply as backdrops to the situations Roth writes about.  A sequel will follow May 2012.  Recommended for junior high and high school.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Conor was awakened by the monster one night.  But when he looks at it, this thing that is a yew tree, he isn't afraid of it.  In fact, he really doesn't have any feeling for it, because it's just a dream...

Conor lives with his mother in house beside a graveyard with a yew tree.  His father remarried and now lives in America, and his bossy grandma comes by once in awhile, the way Conor likes it.  It's just him and his mum, and he's happy with that.  When her hair begins to fall out, he understands.  Her continuous trips to the bathroom to throw up after treatments have become part of their schedule. 

At school, Conor is alone.  The bully beats up on him, but he won't raise a fist or fight back.  He won't speak to his best friend Lily, because of the secret she revealed to everyone.  No one notices him.

But when the monster calls, Conor goes.  And the monster is going to tell Conor three stories.  The last one will be the one Conor tells.  And that's the scarierst one of all.  It's nearly 12:07....time for the monster to come out.

Don't let the cover fool you - this isn't one to put with the scary reads.  Instead, this is a hauntingly beautiful story about the power of love and strength of hope.  Ness has captured such a perfect story that relies on allegories and double entendres that serious readers will understand.  What exactly is this monster and the crazy stories he tells?  Although Conor may not understand, the reader begins to see the whole picture.  Ness takes the reader into the mind of Conor, how he justifies his actions, and how he deals with this most difficult issue of his life. 
It's been a long time since I cried through a book, and this one packs an emotional punch.  This isn't a book just for children, but a whole range of audiences about love, loss, and letting go.  Highly recommended.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

By Ransom Riggs, Quirk Books, 2011

When he was young, Jacob loved his grandfather's stories about his life, especially the ones about the peculiar children. They all lived at Miss Peregrin's Home for Orphans on a tiny island in Wales, and each had different talents. They ranged from being able to lift huge boulders, to being invisible, to being able to float through the air. And there were also the monsters that were chasing Jacob's grandfather....

But as Jacob grew older, the less he listened to his grandfather's meandering tales. They were for children, and he knew his grandfather, in his old age, didn't make as much sense anymore. But one day, while Jacob was trying hard not to work in his family's business, he got a call from his grandfather. And this call changed Jacob's life.

Now, at sixteen, Jacob hears a cryptic message from his beloved grandfather, now deceased. He has a recurring dream about his grandfather telling him to "find the bird, find the loop, find the grave." His other dreams are about monsters, whose mouths are lined with dangerous teeth and tentacles. Now, he sits in Dr. Golan's office, telling him about these dreams, along with the stress of finding his grandfather's dead body and the monster he truly saw, which his doctor says is trigged by this stress.

The best curative for Jacob, under Dr. Golan's orders, is to find out about his grandfather's past, and now Jacob has a chance to find out what exactly his grandfather was talking about by going to this mysterious island in Wales. But are they truly tales or the truth?

Riggs writes a fantastical story about the modern world and those that reside beyond imagination. Not only is the story an amazing adventure, but how Riggs manages to incorporate old and unusual photographs into the story is what makes this book stand out from any other I've read. The photographs are part creepy, part intriguing, but the mash-up of both the narrative and images makes for an excellent read for adults and young adults alike. Riggs keeps the reader engaged with Jacob's discoveries about the truth behind his grandfather's stories and the possibility of leaping across time. Perfect for fantasy readers and highly recommended by this reveiwer.  Publisher book trailer: