Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell

First time novelist Josh Bazell has wowed me. Think of Carl Hiassen and Chuck Palahniuk put together. He's created a character kinda like Dr. Gregory House on the TV show, but added in a bit of the Sopranos. Pietro Brwna works as a doctor in the busy Manhattan Catholic Hospital, but he may not be who you want to be your physician. He's smart, yes, but his mafia background may put you in the line of fire. His past comes back to haunt him when a familiar face is lying in a hospital bed. We find out about his past in flashbacks, and he definately had a reason for going into the Witness Protection Program. It's a mystery, a tragic romance, a shocker, brash, amazing, and gripping as heck. This is for mature readers only though, kiddos.

My Abandonment by Peter Rock

2010 Alex Award Winner!

Caroline is thirteen and her whole world changes when she is treed and taken to the police station. She and her father live in a state park, running from the public, hiding their house, and keeping away from everyone. Why? Because her dad thinks people are after him. But they keep a po box so he can collect his money from being in a war. The two of them are happy together, even after they are placed in a house on a ranch. The dad has to work and Caroline enjoys the food, house, and clothing. She's even excited about going back to school. But her dad's paranoia gets the best of him and they run off again. But, as you read, Caroline starts to let you know things. Why did they really run? What's this about a sister? And is her mother really dead? There's just enough mystery in this beautifully written novel to keep you thinking. It's a winner!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Daughter of the Flames by Zoe Marriott

I was hoping for a book similar to Graceling, and I wasn't disappointed. It isn't as well written, but it whet my appetite for a female girl who can kick some you-know-what. Zira is fifteen and been raised a warrior by her adopted mother. But as she turns of age, important information about her past is revealed that changes her life course. Zira is a leader and her people's loyality and dedication is put to the test as the Ruan and Sedorne people class. Without giving too much away, I think the romance was a little rushed, but overall, it's a fun, fast read.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea

To be published May 19, 2009.

Well, this adult novel is definitely unique! Nayeli is nineteen and lives in a dying, poor, rural, quaint Mexican town. When Mexican bandits (the police) start harassing the town, she and her friends decide to travel to America and bring back seven strong Mexican men to save their town. Yep, she and her friends spent a lot of time watching westerns in the movie theater! But her town really is dying because there are no young men. And so the adventure begins. It's a struggle to cross the border illegally, and the secondary characters are wonderfully drawn. The humor is subtle (in places) and outrageously Hispanic in other places. A friend of mine called this book Mexican magical realism, and I think that's a good description. But after reading it, I'm not sure if I loved the book. It was interesting and different, but I didn't want to stay up late reading it, and that's a true test for me.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Read by the Author

I'm actually quite pleased that this book won the Newbery! (Wow! I agree!) After listening to the audiobook, I thought, "Yep, Gaiman did it again!" He has a way of writing creepy books that have just enough lightheartedness to keep me going.

Bod Owens lives in a graveyard, even though he's human. As a baby, his parents were murdered and the mysterious Jack is still after him. And so the ghosts adopt him. Bod (short for Nobody) is given gifts to help him--see in the dark, pass through gates, learn how to fade from sight. The ghosts raise a wonderful boy who yearns to see what is outside the gates of the cemetery. Eventually Jack finds him and an exciting denouement had me wanting to finish the audiobook quickly. All in all, this will make one heck of a movie!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

There was a big fuss about this short little young adult novel and I can see why. It's like a Lurlene McDaniel dramatic tale without all the details. Short, to the point, and shocking. Alice is a young girl forced to stay thin and childlike for her captor, a perverted child molester. But now she's getting older and not a child anymore. And even though Ray has molded her mind to submit, she knows he won't want her much longer. So Ray gives her an assignment to find another little girl to take her place. What a concept, huh? Despicable and unnerving. So Alice goes to a park to find another little girl. She finds one, along with the girl's older brother, and the dramatic conclusion will shock you. I was kinda expecting it because I'd read other librarian's blog posts.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett

What an awesome fantasy! I could give you a list of my high school students who would absolutely love this adult fantasy novel by newcomer Peter V. Brett. The book is the first in a series, and I can't wait for the second one.

A beautiful, patient and stubborn healer, a saddened jester, and a brave fighter combine forces to save a small town from the Corelings, the demons that haunt everyone nightly. This book has everything a good fantasy should have, but it so readable and NEW to someone like me who's read tons of fantasy. It's 416 pages of goodness! It's the best book I've read since The Name of the Wind!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Madapple by Christina Meldrum, Ready by Kirsten Potter

Oooo, I see what the fuss was about with this YA novel! It's awesome! Yay! I listened to the audiobook and wanted to keep driving during the last two CDs. I HAD to know how it ended! Aslaug was raised in a small house in the woods with her mother, isolated and educated. When her mother dies, Aslaug has to learn how to survive in a modern world. But modern people take advantage of girls like Aslaug. She is taken in and taken advantage of. Through Aslaug's court transcripts (why, oh why, is she in court you may ask?) and her own reflections, you'll get sucked into Aslaug's world. She's an awesome teenage girl. You cheer for her as you read and you dread the reliability of the narrator and the decisions of the court. What's the truth? Is Aslaug a murderer? a mother? a prophet? a saint? or just a confused girl?

The Earth Hums in B Flat by Mari Strachan

This adult novel won't be published until June 2009. I picked up the uncorrected proof at Midwinter in January, and I'm glad I did. Gwenni is a 12-year-old girl living in a tiny town in Wales and she's struggling. The town is rife with rumors, suicides, affairs, and things that are confusing to a 12-year-old. Gwenni tries to be a detective like on TV to figure things out, but that just gets her nervous mother upset. To top it all off, Gwenni's best friend is starting to be a little "fast" and then her favorite babysitting employer is arrested for killing her husband. But who did commit murder? and why? Add in some mystical flying, and this is a very enjoyable, quiet, pleasant read.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of The Hells Angels by Jay Dobyms and Nils Johnson-Shelton

If only this true story could have read a little bit faster so I didn't have skim parts....Jay Dobyns went undercover into the Hells Angels and he became quite the bad boy. I had no idea that the Hells Angels were really that bad. Heck, around here, the motorcycle "gangs" go on charity runs and hold fundraiser dinners. But now I know better about the Hells Angels. Jay becomes more and more "Bird" and less and less Jay. He barely gets out.

Blonde Roots by Bernardine Evaristo

This adult novel is an interesting alternate history novel. Europeans are slaves to Africans, and history as we know it is very different. Hair must be braided and piled high on the head. Fat is in. So are multiple wives. And, wow, Doris is right in the middle of it. She's an Englishwoman who was taken captive and forced to live as a slave, but escapes on the Underground Railroad. It's an interesting twist, but not an exciting book.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Glister by John Burnside

What a creepy cover! But the book just didn't live up to the cover. Young boys are disappearing in an economically depressed town. The chemical plant has closed, leaving workers with horrible diseases and townspeople with strange cancers. Even the children are affected, and Leonard and his friends act strangely and kinda freaky. The local policeman is owned by the rich guy in town and when the boys start disappearing, not much happens. (This is when my common sense kicked in and asked, "Where are the feds?") But no one seems to care about the town--not even the local citizens. The book is creepy in a quiet way, but I was looking for more shock and awe.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Genesis by Bernard Beckett

Houghton Mifflin was really pushing this thin little adult sceince fiction novel at ALA in January. In fact, it was the only adult title they mentioned at their dinner preview. It was released in New Zealand as a young adult title, I believe.

The entire book is a transcript of Anax's question-and-answer session with three judges. Anax's goal is to enter the Academy, the ruling entity of her futuristic world. But to do so, she had to select a topic of study, and she chose Adam Forde. And, so, during her answers, we learn about the history of her society. I must admit I was bored in the middle with the transcripts of Adam's discussion with the robot. I'm not too into philosophy, so I'm interested to see what teens think about this quick little book. And, hey, since I somehow ended up with three advanced reading copies, I'm all set for distribution! And I know the Houghton reps kept going on and on about the ending, but I wasn't too surprised.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Miles from Nowhere by Nami Mun

I'm still not too sure what to think about this adult novel. It's a gritty tale of a young Korean-American girl who runs away from home. Her mom goes crazy when her dad leaves, and, wow, what a choice to run away from home! Homeless in New York City isn't fun. It's the 1980s and homeless means heroin, abandoned apartment buildings, and other illegal activities to earn money. Her life stinks. And therefore she thinks about suicide, abortion, and other depressing things quite often. When I finished this, I wondered why I did. I mean, I had to read it to see how it ended. Mun is a great writer, but Joon's life is so embarrassing and difficult to read, that it's hard to life the book.

The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan, Read by Jesse Bernstein

This is #4 in the Percy Jackson series and I think I'm finally starting to get sick of the series, because this one didn't hold my attention like the others. I mean, really, how many times can you go into the labyrinth and out of the labyrinth? And have another fight with hellions? I guess I'm just looking for something different when compared to the earlier books in the series. I did like how Percy needed the help of a regular human to get them through the maze, but didn't really like the tension between the two girls in Percy's life. Yuck.

Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick, Read by Joel Johnstone

I didn't know this Rebecca Caudill winner would make me cry! But it did. I was expecting a cool book about a rockin' 8th grader. And it was, but it also dealt a lot with the main character's younger brother who has leukemia. Steven is your typical 8th grader, in love with the beautiful girl in class, and just getting by. But when his brother is diagnosed and begins chemotherapy, Steven's life starts falling apart. He stops doing homework and distances himself from his family and friends. But, eventually Steven gets himself straightened out and his friends rally together to help little Jeffrey. Great read!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Roanoke: a Novel of Elizabethan Intrigue

I'll read any novel about Queen Elizabeth. Heck, my facebook quiz even said I'm her in a previous life! lol. This adult novel follows Gabriel, a spy from the Elizabethan age as he and a coworker travel to and from Roanoke, Virginia to spy for the queen. She plays a minor character in the novel. It focuses on Gabriel and his role in some political and economical turmoil that always follows a royal court. If you're a historical fiction fan, read it.

Ransom My Heart by Princess of Genovia Mia Thermopolis with help from Meg Cabot

Well, if you're read The Princess Diaries, then you have to read this adult novel! Because Princess Mia wrote it! ;) with help from Meg Cabot, of course. Hopefully this will serve as a great introduction to historical fiction for some younger readers. Personally, I'd heard all the cheesiness before--the stunningly beautiful girl who shoots arrows like a man, the handsome man back from the Crusades who can get in any girl to, um, well, and the age-old tale of falling in love when you're not supposed to. It's a fun, light-hearted read!