Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Season by Sarah MacLean

I've said it before--sometimes I'm just in the need for fluff. And this historical love story set in Regency England fulfilled my need. It's the typical bodice ripper with Lord Blackmoor as the sexy stud, but it's completely rated PG. Heck, G. Just kissing! But, it's passionate, sparks flying kissing that leads to an almost certain engagement, I'm sure!

Alex is the intelligent (totally different from other girls in her time period, I'm sure) only daughter of the Duke of Worthington and about to "come out" in her first season in London. She's not too thrilled about the customs and fancy dresses, but, of course, she's beautiful and filthy rich and she just has to snag a husband because it's expected of her. She's not too impressed with her options until a family friend of her brothers starts to look better to her. Lord Blackmoor has inherited the title from his recently deceased father. Gavin thinks his father was murdered and is intent on finding his killer. England is at war with Napoleon's France and spies are everywhere! Alex and her two best friends get involved with the intrigue and everything wraps up nicely in the end. This is quite the satisfying read if you're looking for a typical clean historical romance. Even junior high girls would like this one!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

And Then Everything Unraveled by Jennifer Sturman

From the cover, you can tell this is chick lit, but I was in the mood for something light. Other than leading into a sequel (And Then I Found Out the Truth), this didn't disappoint. Delia is shipped off to live with her aunt in NYC when her mother's ship disappears close to Antarctica. Delia isn't sure what to expect, since she's never met her aunt(s) before, but she's sure she won't have to live there long. Delia insists that her mother is still alive, and starts receiving clues that she might be right. She has a voice mail of static from Patagonia. Her mother's laptop is wiped clean. And the oil company that her mother was researching starts acting funny. So Delia is on the hunt for her mom, and trying to survive a snooty NYC prep school at the same time. The book is pretty unrealistic, but, hey, I didn't care!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

High schools girls can be evil. This young adult novel is a prime example of what bullying and hazing can be in high school. Yuck. Makes me glad I went to a small high school.

Regina finds herself out of the in-crowd when she tells on a friend's boyfriend late one night. (Think Laurie Halse's Anderson's Speak) She's snubbed by her cool popular friends and doesn't like it. She's shunned, punished, and horrible things happen to her. But, as she says, she kinda deserves it. She was in therapy herself for the cruel things she did to unpopular kids. An ostracized boy befriends Regina when no one else will, but her mean ex-friends notice and try to ruin their relationship, too. This book is just a horribly good example of mean girls. And adults and teachers who ignore all the warning signs. I hate to think that things like this could be going on at my school. Ugh.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Twelve Rooms with a View by Theresa Rebeck

I was really looking forward to reading the second adult novel by the Alex Award winning author of Three Girls and their Brother. And I wasn't disappointed! Tina is thrust into a huge outdated apartment overlooking Central Park in New York City when her mother suddenly dies. Tina has always been the outcast of the family--she's beautiful but chooses horrible men to date. She doesn't get along very well with her siblings either. One sister is too bossy and commanding while the other sister is a pushover. But mom is dead and the sisters must try to take over the millions-worth apartment and put it on the market. Tina, who didn't have a place to stay anyway, agrees to live in the apartment while her mother's estate is being contested. The problem is that her mother died three weeks after her step-father died. He had a will leaving everything to her mother. Her mother didn't have a will. But the two deceased people were such social recluses that no one really knows what was going on, but EVERYONE wants the awesome apartment!

Things wrapped up a little too nicely in the end, but I didn't care. I liked the voice of Tina and the interesting characters who lived in the apartment building.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve

I wish I had a better memory. I know I read and enjoyed Reeve's Hungry City Chronicles (4th book in the series is A Darkling Plain), but that was back in 2007! I've read hundreds of books since then and can't remember a darn thing.....

In this prequel, we see the birth of Grike, a stalker (dead human with robot innards). London is about to become a traction city. I'm sure there are more details that make this a prequel, but I just can't remember them.

Fever Crumb is a foundling who is raised in the Order of Engineers. She has always known she was different, but she had no idea that people outside the order would be scared of her. Because of her strange eyes, people believe she is Scriven, hated for their ruling of London years before. Fever works for an archeologist, Kit Solent, and finds herself remembering things she shouldn't. She knows secrets and her ability is related to her mother and the scar on the back of her neck. As Fever discovers who she is, she isn't sure if she wants to belong to the world of her mother or her father.

Great steampunk!

Horns by Joe Hill

I was sickened and scared (in a good way) by Hill's (Stephen King's son) first novel, The Heart-Shaped Box, so I was anxious to read this one. The Protestant in me is always a little freaked to read about Satan and evil, so I read this poolside in Playa del Carmen--NOT at night!

Ig has been going through a personal hell ever since he was a "person of interest" in the rape and murder of his girlfriend Merrin. Everyone, even his parents and lawyer, believed he killed her. And now he awakens with horns. On his head. Devil's horns. Now everyone he touches tells him his or her horrible secrets and desires. His anger grows out of control when he discovers Merrin's murderer. Through flashbacks, we learn how Merrin, Ig and their friend Lee are intertwined. The religious confusion of God and Satan didn't thrill me, but it made a good story.

An Impartial Witness: A Bess Crawford Mystery by Charles Todd

For a change of pace, I picked up this advanced reading copy from an ALA conference. It's a series, but I've never read the previous books and have no need to. Bess Crawford is a English nurse serving in World War I and is a witness to a conversation at a train station. Next thing you know, she's interviewed by Scotland Yard, testifies in a murder trial, and sets off to solve the mystery herself. I loved the details about France and England during the war and the descriptions of the appropriate behavior of the time. The plot is really conversation driven, and even the mystery is solved by paying attention to the conversations of the characters. That got a little old for me, but it was worth it to read a different kind of book.

The Agency by Ally O'Brien, Read by Kate Reading

Loved this juicy adult audiobook about the other side of book publishing! :) Tess Drake is an agent in London who represents authors, sports stars, and anyone else who needs an agent. She's been working under the meanness of her boss Cosima, but Tess isn't an angel. She's ruined her friendship with her best friend, been committing adultery with a married man for over a year, and alienated herself from many other people in the business with her own ruthlessness. She's trying to take the plunge to start her own agency, but it's difficult when everyone conspires against you. The back flip calls this "The Devil Wears Prada meets Entourage" and I have to agree--loved it!

The Spellmans Strike Back by Lisa Lutz

I'm not sure how Lisa Lutz does it. This is the 4th book in the Spellman Files Series (Alex Award winner The Spellman Files, Curse of the Spellmans and Revenge of the Spellmans). Izzy is 32 and trying to grow up, but it's difficult with her family. Her mom is blackmailing her to date lawyers, even though she's not interested. Younger sister Rae is interning for Maggie now and trying to free an innocent man from prison. Brother David (Maggie's boyfriend) is still an unemployed lawyer and Izzy's parents are trying to clean up the business so Izzy can inherit a debt-free investigation service. As always, the funny, quirky writing style and family antics make the book. Hope the movie gets out of "in development" soon!

Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin

Werlin can WRITE. The cover pulled me in and I was thrilled to discover there were fairies in this YA novel (to be published in September).

Phoebe Rothschild, a descendant of the famous rich Jewish family, has never thought of herself as ordinary. With two parents who love her, she's grown up pampered, privileged and eager to please. But at the start of a new school year, she leaves her petty spoiled friends behind and takes pity on the new girl. The two quickly become best friends. When Phoebe becomes attracted to her best friend's brother years later, trouble occurs. Mallory and Ryland aren't human, yet are trying to convince or trick Phoebe into their fairy world. Why? What makes Phoebe extraordinary?

Artichoke's Heart by Suzanne Supplee

This is a YA title on the Abe Lincoln list so I wanted to read it before school started. Rosemary is the fat girl--at school, at her mom's hair salon, and especially in the mirror. Her self esteem is pitiful, but she gains more with weight loss. I didn't like how her diet started over a boy, but that may be realistic for a teenage girl. As the pounds drop off, Rosemary gains a boyfriend, a best friend, and the possibility of losing her mother to Hodgkin's disease.

Tales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes

Wow. I love John Barnes and totally understand why this book won a Printz honor. Love the similarities to John Green, too.

Karl is a senior in high school and this thick book chronicles six days of his life in the 1970s. I'd call this one a comedic drama--I laughed out loud several times and smiled a lot. But the kids in the Madmen Underground--aka the school's therapy group--have serious problems. Karl is so experienced with alcohol that he goes to AA. His friends all have their own stories. While Karl dreams of being "normal," he learns that everyone has problems. With friends and a little effort, problems can be solved. Or at least managed. One amazing coming of age story!

Changeless by Gail Carriger

Maybe I was too excited for the sequel to the Alex Award winner Soulless, but this one didn't thrill me. Alexia Tarabotti is still an interesting character, but Maybe marriage has dulled her? ;) Her wit wasn't as sharp. She does solve the mystery of why vampires and werewolves aren't changing anymore, but her relationship with Lord Maccon at the end of the novel was disheartening. He's my werewolf stud and I don't think he would act quite so boorish. But, yes, I'll read Blameless, due out in September!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Refresh, Refresh, a graphic novel by Danica Novgorodoff, adapted from the screenplay by James Ponsoldt, based on the short story by Benjamin Percy

Wow. I understand what the fuss was about when this YA graphic novel was published. It rocks and I'll definitely be adding it to the PCHS collection. I think many kids in Paris will relate.

Josh, Cody and Gordon all have dads in the Marines who are off fighting in Iraq. They constantly wait at their computers (hitting the refresh button) to see if their dad is still alive. In the meantime, the boys grow up, fight to get tough, drink at bars where they aren't carded, and try to decide if the service or college is the right choice for them. Through it all, the boys stick together and try to become men--the right kind of men.

Life Without Summer by Lynne Griffin, Read by Tanya Eby Sirois

Some books are just so stinking sad. Tessa's world shatters when her young daughter is hit and killed by a driver outside the girl's preschool. She's obsessed with finding out who killed her little girl--was he drunk? high? What other excuse would someone have for hitting a little girl and not stopping? In the meantime, though, her marriage is falling apart, too.

Tessa begins seeing a therapist, Celia, and about half the book is from her point-of-view. Celia is remarried after divorcing a drunk, but her new husband and teenage son don't get along. Celia needs a therapist herself--she's not handing her teenager well, she doesn't tell her new husband some of her secrets, and she focuses so much on solving the problems of others that she ignores herself.

The two women become close through therapy and eventually their personal lives intermingle, too. But, oh, prepare to cry. Any book about a mother losing a child chokes me up. :(