Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Afterlife by Gary Soto

Our book club is reading this one, and I'll be interested to see what they think. I wasn't too impressed. I think it's a pretty good short story, but didn't feel it deserved a starred review in Booklist. With a no name author, I don't think it would have received a starred review. It's on the ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant YA Readers list, which I do agree with, because it's short and the main character is dead.
Bascially, Chuy is murdered in a bathroom of a club because he tells a fellow Hispanic that he likes his shoes. For the next few days, Chuy wonders around, visits his family and friends, and says goodbye to the world. In the process, he meets a fellow spirit who just committed suicide and falls in love with her. The story is predictable and interspersed with Spanish words. I'm glad there was a glossary in the back because I didn't learn those words in Spanish II! So I'll give this book about 2 1/2 stars. It was okay--not great and not bad.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Motor Mouth by Janet Evanovich

In this sequel to Metro Girl, Evanovich revisits Barney, the spunky female engineer who works as a spotter for Nascar driver Sam Hooker. Barney is ticked at Hooker, and their dating tension isn't all that interesting.
I didn't like the doggie subplots and the casual references to dead people throughout the book. It was supposed to funny, I know, but I wasn't laughing. I listened to the CD version of this novel, and wasn't impressed by Evanovich's breezy writing with a predictable plot.
I love the Stephanie Plum books, but I think the author is starting to write books to sell, instead of writing the quality comedies that made her famous. On, a purchaser compares the author to Danielle Steele, and I hate to say that I'm starting to agree. Unless her next novel knocks my socks off, I'm done with Evanovich. And that's sad because she really was one of my favorite authors.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

When It Happens by Susane Colasanti

"What are you thinking?" I whisper.
"Right now?" Tobey whispers.
"I'm thinking I can't believe we're finally together." He moves his hand down my hair.
That's when I realize it would be impossible to freak him out with how I feel about him. Because I'm pretty sure he feels the same way.
"What are you thinking?" he asks.
"I think . . ." My heart almost stops for a second. "I think . . . I'm falling in love with you."
Tobey doesn't freak out. He kisses me over and over, barely pressing his lips against mine.
p. 221 of this wonderful YA romance!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Peeps by Scott Westerfeld

Westerfeld, made famous lately by his Uglies/Pretties/Specials trilogy, first caught my eye with this novel. It was the first of his that I read. After reading it, I read So Yesterday, and then started the trilogy. Now I need to read The Last Days, the sequel to Peeps, and the Midnighters trilogy. All of his books are liked by my students.

The PHS book club just finished this one, and some of the students are already interlibrary loaning the sequel. This is not your typical vampire novel.

Cal Thompson has a parasite in him that he contracted through unsafe sex. He craves meat, can see in the dark, can climb buildings and has hypersensitive hearing. He's parasite-positive, or a peep. But he has a different strain. He doesn't go crazy like the peeps he hunts and captures. He is a super-peep and works for the Night Watch, tracking and removing dangerous peeps from New York City.

Cal can't fall in love, well, at least he can't act on it, because then he'd infect his girlfriend. So he fights his urges with a rubber band on his wrist, and still falls in love with Lacey.

The book is interspersed with scientific facts that are fascinating and really add to the novel. I love this book!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Book of Everything by Guus Kuijer

I picked up this small novel to read at school today. I love the cover with the little frog. The book was definately not as cute as the frog!

Thomas is a small nine-year-old boy who is abused by his father and has to watch his father hit his mother. Thomas deals with this by having VERY interesting conversations with Jesus. You know, about how Jesus was abused by his dad with the whole suffering on the cross thing.

I love the character of the neighbor Mrs. van Amersfoort. She gives Thomas the strength to put up with his father, and helps him find escape with good music, good books, and good friends. Thomas falls in love with a beautiful girl, even though she is 6 years older, has a leather leg, and is missing some fingers. He says he's going to marry her, and I thoroughly believe him.
Margot, the sister who acts like a passive idiot throughout the entire novel, ends up being the hero, of course, and I felt like yelling, "You go, girl!" In fact, by the end of the novel, all of the women (and Thomas) form a group and meet in the living room in front of the abusive father and he has to lock himself in his office. They stand up to him, and Thomas grows up to be just what he wanted. Happy.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Publish Date: April 2007

VOYA rating= 4P, 3Q S, J

Fifteen-year-old Clary Fray visits her favorite New York City night club late one evening and watches attractive teenagers follow a blue-haired boy into a storage room. Next thing Clary knows, the boy is dead, and the body disappears. Clary is not your typical mundie—she can see Shadowhunters and the demons they hunt. Clary’s mother is kidnapped, their home is ransacked, and Clary kills an evil Ravener in her own home. She is then temporarily adopted into the Shadowhunter clan, and begins to learn their ways. For some reason, Clary has the Sight and must use her powers and her new friends to find and rescue her mother. Along the way, she is burdened by the love of her best friend Simon and the complicated feelings she has towards Jace, a Shadowhunter.

This fast-paced fantastic thriller will keep readers on the edge of their seats. It includes everything from werewolves to mind-sucking librarians to vampires to a brother unknowingly kissing his sister! Just what teenagers love to read. Clary is an independent, saucy female character who adapts her newfound powers easily and thinks nothing of throwing a weapon at a werewolf. The dialogue is awkward at times which led to the 3Q rating. Clary makes some trite remarks that interrupt the narrative flow. The author is in a writing group with Holly Black, author of Tithe and Valiant, two dark fantasies similar to City of Bones.

Monday, January 1, 2007

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

So I read this one as a recommendation from a friend in the army who kind of compared it to chick lit for guys, and I totally agree. Really, it read like a young adult guy book, except the main character is in his 30s. Poor Rob listens to WAY too many records and the song lyrics have affected his personality in a bad way. He is so upset that his live-in girlfriend dumps him, even though he cheated on her, and wasn't very supportive when she goes through a VERY rough time (read the book to find out what). But, like chick lit, everything turns out okay in the end. Which is why this author is pretty cool. Because I wanted Rob to fall in love with someone, ANYONE, and Laura sure seemed like the right girl to handle him. Really, Laura knows Rob better than he knows himself. And we know that sometimes men are that dense, and need a women to tell them what they want out of life. :-) Okay, that might be pushing it.

But, all in all, this was an easy read, and any of my high school kids could handle it. If you like Finding Lubchenko, Bottled Up, Freshmen, or Girls for Breakfast, you'll like this one, too.
I just watched the movie last night and I loved it. John Cusack is excellent as Rob, and the movie reminded me of Say Anything. I'm not sure why the setting was changed from London to Chicago, but I loved how some of the quotes from the book were kept in the movie dialogue. Jack Black makes a great sidekick, too.