Monday, October 20, 2014

Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta

If you're in need of a fast-paced mystery thriller, this one is for you.  Jace is just a kid swimming in a pit lake when he sees something he shouldn't have.  Now he's a witness in a murder trial, and people want him dead.  Instead of the typical witness protection program, he's placed into a survival camp for troubled kids in the Rockies.  He likes learning how to survive in the wilderness and it comes in handy when the bad people come after him.  Thanks to the help of a former wildfire fighter struggling with her own demons, Jace is able to confront the people after him and a forest blaze.

Honestly, there were some plot holes and coincidences that I just couldn't forget while reading this one.  I loved the characterization of the Jace though--the elements of a great novel are here, but the coincidences were too much for me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Did you love The Hunger Games but wish it were more violent? Then this adult dystopia is for you!

Darrow is a Red, a group of people who work hard mining in order to prepare Mars for human civilization.  He started at age 13, like everyone else, and he's worked his way up to helldiver--he's brave, strong, and sometimes a little crazy with the drill he runs.

After his young wife is murdered, Darrow learns that Mars is already populated by scores of higher castes who want to keep the Reds in the dark.  Darrow wants to make the Golds suffer for taking his Eo from him, and he is reborn with the help of some scientists and sculptors.  In disguise as a Gold, Darrow must score high in the tests to determine his capabilities.  Remember the tests in Divergent? And the fights between districts in The Hunger Games? And the government who rules everything in The Maze Runner? And the houses in Percy Jackson and the Olympians?  And the bodies that are created in Pure? All that is here.  So I felt like I was reading a mishmash of other dark science fiction books thrown together in short sentences, but it worked.  There were times when Darrow's mind worked faster than mine and I was surprised with the plot twists.  I'm adding Book Two to my To Read list--Golden Son is supposed to be out on January 15, 2015.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

In this collection of graphic stories, the artwork is exquisite. And creepy! Five short stories are told, surrounded by an introduction and a conclusion that are just as haunting. Many of the stories are old--taking place in the past, as visible by the character's clothing.  In "The Nesting Place," it looks like young Mabel might have polio--she wears leg braces and has a walking stick. Her story was my favorite--she met her nightmare and conquered it.

Add this to your Halloween displays for creepy stories--it will fly off the shelf!

My Name is Resolute by Nancy E. Turner

I do love historical fiction, so I went into this huge beast with an open mind.  And it was easy to keep reading. It's an epic that follows that title character from childhood to death.

Resolute isn't a young girl you want to like--she's a rich, snobby girl with slaves on a Jamaica plantation.  But her home is attacked by pirates and she is taken with her sister to be sold into slavery.  Her childhood is horrible--she's a slave, beaten, and eventually sold to Canadian Catholics where she learns to spin and weave.  Her trade saves her and gives her a purpose.  Eventually she crawls out of the ashes and marries, has many children, and becomes a supporter of the American Revolution. Her name fits her well.

There were a few instances of choppy transitions and plot gaps that were summed up in a sentence or two, but overall, her story is a smooth read. I'm sure Turner's research was extensive--Resolute comes across many famous people in her life--Revere, Washington, Margaret Gage, etc. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Blood of My Blood by Barry Lyga. #3 in the I Hunt Killers Series

Barry Lyga freaking rocks. I loved I Hunt Killers and Game and he takes the third book in the series and hits it out of the park! I can't remember the last time I read a trilogy where all the books were awesome?

Jasper is in trouble. His dad's alive and no one is capable of hunting the serial killer down except for Jasper.  And so he does. Using every piece of knowledge that his dad taught him, he crosses state lines and manipulates people and comes dangerously close to being like his father.  Is Jasper a killer, too? Will he be able to kill his father when they finally meet? What if he has to choose between his father or his best friend or girlfriend? Oh, the tangled web of nature vs. nurture.....

Non-stop action. Violence. Gore. Dead bodies. Torture. It's all here.  And it's awesome.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Orphans of Race Point by Patry Francis

This was a bit too dramatic to me--I felt like I was reading a soap opera and I didn't know that was I had signed on for when I checked this book from my library.

The story spans generations--we first meet Hallie, a doctor's only daughter, as she becomes involved in the life of Gus, a friend who loses his parents when his dad kills his mom.  Over the years, their relationship evolves, and (no spoilers here), things REALLY happen.  Lots of sweet side characters in this and it would make a great Lifetime movie!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Fever by Megan Aboott

Modern Crucible tale here.  Deenie Nash is a normal high school girl--boys, gossip, and mean girls are on her mind a lot.  But when her best friend has a seizure in school and foams at the mouth, all hell breaks loose.  Lise doesn't get out of the hospital, and when another close friend has similar symptoms, the entire town freaks out.  Is it the HPV vaccine that the girls just received? Is it the nasty dead lake outside of town that no one is supposed to swim in?

Deenie's brother Eli and her teacher father are dealing with their own problems, too.  Through it all, the reader is guessing the cause of the hysteria.  Let's just say that I had my suspicions, but I was still surprised!

The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

Sometimes there are books that show the bad side of people.  This is one of those. Next time I drive through the boondocks of Missouri, I will be very, very careful!

Deep in the Ozark Mountains, Lucy is worried about the her kinda friend Cheri. Cheri is mentally disabled, and Lucy cared more about her than most.  She gave her old toys, helped her at school, and talked to her when other kids didn't.  After being missing for a year, Cheri's body is found--dismembered.  The police are basically nonexistent in this area--everyone is crooked, taking bribes, and protecting family and friends.  Lucy investigates on her own, but finds out that her family isn't exactly what it seems.  Her own mother died years ago after Lucy's birth, and it turns out that her mother's disappearance is connected to Cheri's. Secrets are everywhere.  And people can be ugly.

Above the Dreamless Dead: World War I in Poetry and Comics, edited by Chris Duffy

High school teachers, use this book! I would have loved to use this when I taught history and English.  I went through a stage in my 20s when I read a lot of the World War I poets--Sassoon and Brooke mostly.  But, whoa, this version rocks. So easy to incorporate into the classroom.

In the introduction, Duffy notes that many Americans don't know much about World War I, and I agree.  Trench warfare was horrible and deadly--shell shock was common, and soldiers thought their commanders were idiots for fighting for months to gain 10 feet of ground.

More than ten authors are highlighted here, from all class levels.  Soldier songs are used, too, and some are downright hilarious.  I love how so many artists are used and it's fascinating to study how the artist chose to represent the words. So many styles of drawing, but they are all appropriate. 

Sad, heartbreaking, and a must-read. War sucks. My favorites were "The Coward" by Rudyard Kipling adapted by Stephen R.  Bissette and "The Next War" by Osbert Sitwell adapted by Simon Gane.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Kill My Mother: a Graphic Novel by Jules Feiffer

So you guys know that I don't read too many graphic novels.  When I do, they are award winners or something that a friend recommends strongly. My community college library purchased this adult graphic novel based on a review somewhere, but it hasn't been checked out yet. It's been on display, too. 

The problem? I don't see the teen appeal other than the title. The homage to noir threw me off.  I've read a few pulp detective novels, but I was just confused on this one.  Feiffer is a great artist--he's won all sorts of awards, but I really couldn't tell the characters apart and so I was lost.  The word bubbles are everywhere and my scatterbrain had a hard time following the action.  And there was plenty of action! Totally unbelievable to me, though, especially the war scenes. These characters aren't nice and don't care.  And that meant that I didn't care either.  There are some adult scenes with penises and boobs.  I loved the crossdressing twist, but didn't think that Elsie's character rang true. This was just not my thing.