Friday, July 29, 2011

Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker

Reviewed from Uncorrected Advance Proof. Final book was published 7/19/11.

Lacey is a good Christian girl and has never doubted her parents and their faith. But when her old classmate Ty moves back to town and her best friend's older sister gets pregnant, Lacey starts to wonder if her religion is the right one. Is it fair that the girl who gets pregnant is shunned while her boyfriend can act like nothing happened? Are all sins treated equally in the eyes of the Lord? Because when her church creates Hell House, a haunted house-ish horror show that acts out sins to bring people closer to God, all sins are equal--gay marriage, abortion, drunk driving. But are they really all bad? Ty questions some of these himself and since Lacey likes him, she starts to wonder, too. Love makes things tricky and even her parents' love might not help her.

The book was a little too preachy for me and I didn't like the church Lacey belongs to. But I think some freshmen and sophomore girls would really like this book, especially because that's when many teenagers begin to question the church they have been brought up in. We'll see how it circulates in my library.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich

Do I really need to blog about this? Back in 2008, I laughed my way through Lean Mean Thirteen and I've read every other book in this series. I rarely blog about them because they are bestsellers and if you read and like one, you'll be hooked. Stephanie Plum works for a bail bondsman, so if you skip out on your bail, she'll come get you and bring you to jail. Or try to. Maybe she'll have Lulu help, an overweight ex-hooker in size two spandex. But Stephanie's real dilemma is always between her sometimes boyfriend Morelli (a cop) and Ranger (a stud who doesn't need laws). And in a goofy family and it's a hit. I really hope the movie people don't screw this series up! One for the Money is coming out in January 2012, and I'll be there!

Miles from Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams

I loved The Chosen One about a Mormon girl, so I've saved this Advance Uncorrected Proofs for months. And, I hate to see it, but I don't think it was worth it.

Lacey is thirteen and has to take care of her mentally ill mother. Sounds a bit like Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, right? But the way the story is told works in that novel and doesn't quite work in this YA novel. Lacey has flashbacks constantly, but there is no break in the page to let you know it's happening. I just didn't "feel" for Lacey like I did CeeCee, and I couldn't help but compare the two characters. Unfair, I know.

In the Shadow of the Lamp by Susan Dunlap

Reviewed from Uncorrected Advance Proof. Final book published 4/12/11.

I'm a sucker for historical fiction, and this one kinda worked for me. Molly is a parlormaid who ends up going to the Crimea with Florence Nightingale to become a nurse. With no experience, Molly discovers that she has healing hands (the supernatural stuff irritated me--no need for it to be included in the novel) and learns quickly. She's tough, but weak when it comes to determining if she loves Dr. Maclean or Will, a boy from back home who followed her to the war. The descriptions of the surgeries are downright gross and totally awesome--all those amputations!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Returning by Christine Hinwood

Sometimes I read a book and think, hmmm, I wonder if this will show up on the Printz list. And I think this Junior Library Guild selection might. As I was reading it, I got a little confused. It's a medieval-ish world, but there aren't any magical elements. It seems British, but I may be way off with that one.

Cam comes home from the arm missing an arm, but he also just doesn't fit back into his old life. He can't stop thinking about the Uplander lord who sliced off his arm and then saved his life. The two men from different worlds are drawn together, and their lives intertwine for years.

Graceful is a successful farmer's daughter who was betrothed to Cam, but the engagement ended after he lost an arm. After all, what good is a man missing a limb? But her father has bigger plans for her, even if it means marrying the enemy to unite two families. So her destiny is still meant to be with Cam, but in a different way.

The plot is hard to explain, but the storytelling is brilliant. I don't think this book will be popular at PCHS (we'll see the circ stats are this fall) but I think the quiet action will attract of few of my female readers.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy by Bil Wright

What a sweet read! First of all, it's great to read a book with a fabulous, not skinny, well-dressed gay boy who is a makeup artist. When was the last time you read a book with that kind of main character? Second of all, Carlos is real. He makes mistakes. He loses a friend because of his choices. He doesn't always do the right thing for his family. But, boy, is he focused on getting that makeup job at Macy's. And, finally, he's gay, but the author doesn't come right out and tell you. Carlos doesn't define himself as gay--he's an artist who occasionally likes to wear women's shoes and carry a purse. Because it's fashion!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman, Read by Jenna Lamia

Sometimes a sweet little read is needed, and this audiobook recommended by a friend was the perfect summer listen. CeeCee has had a horrible childhood taking care of her mentally ill mother. Her father is always "working" and when her mother dies, CeeCee is given to a great-aunt to raise. And this is the best thing her father ever did for her. Under the care of Aunt Tootie and her cook Oletta, CeeCee flourishes.

It's a sweet, simple read and everything turns out okay. Sometimes we need books to reassure us that this is possible.

The Boy in the Suit Case by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnette Friis

Review written from Advance Uncopyedited Edition. Novel to be published Nov. 2011.

This book is being sold as the next The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and I can see why. Sure, it’s Scandinavian, but it’s also about a kick-butt woman who likes to help women who are abused. Nina is a nurse who isn’t very motherly to her own family, but likes to help Eastern European women escape from men who hit them. When she accidentally picks up a suitcase for a friend and discovers a three-year-old boy in it, she decides to solve the mystery herself. Action happens too quickly for the police to catch up (of course). The boy’s Lithuanian mother is also on a crusade to save her son, especially when she discovers that his disappearance might have something to do with the child she sold years ago when she was a teenager. That’s right, sold. Sigita has been feeling that guilt for years and she can’t let anything happen to this child.

The action is fast-paced and I understand why this is a hit worldwide. It’ll be a hit in the U.S. market, too. Can’t wait to read the next Nina Borg book!

Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Review written from Advance Readers’ Edition. Novel to be published on 9/27/11.

According to the back cover, this book is “pulse-pounding and addictive, GLOW begins the most riveting series since The Hunger Games.” I don’t quite agree, but I think this book will satisfy many readers thirsting for more Katniss.

Waverly and Kiernan are made for each other--the oldest children on a ship bound for New Earth. Luckily they like each other, so it’s okay, especially since Waverly ovaries are ready and she can soon begin having the minimum of four children that is required on their ship to maintain the population. But when another ship attacks, Waverly and all the female children are forced to leave, leaving the boys to fend for themselves. Anarchy rules--Kiernan must struggle for leadership among the boys and Waverly must figure out how to save her shipmates. There’s a conflict between secular and church thinking between the two ships, and Waverly isn’t thrilled when Kiernan starts preaching that he’s doing God’s work. This is the first book of a series, so the action isn’t completely resolved--fair warning!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Shelter by Harlan Coben

My teens love Harlan Coben, so I was interested to see that he took the James Patterson route and wrote a book for teens. And it was soooo much better than Patterson's "talk down to teens" books.

Mickey Bolitar is 15, but not your typical teen. He's traveled the world with his parents and lived in some strange and third-world places. Along the way he learned martial arts and some other helpful tricks. When the first girl he likes at his new school disappears, Mickey tries to find her. Next thing you know, he's involved in a white slave trade affair in his new hometown. His mom is in rehab (not dealing well with the death of his father) and he's learning more and more about what kind of job his dad had. Mickey is a darn good hero--making friends with the fat goth girl at school and befriending the school trivia nerd. All in all, I think Coben has a great start to a new series!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Botticelli Secret by Marina Fiorato

Thank you, condo owners, for leaving an excellent example of kinda smutty historical fiction for me to drool over for the past two days! I loved this one so much that I added the rest of the author's books to my to-read list on Goodreads.

Luciana isn't your typical heroine--she's a high-priced whore who earns some extra money posing for artists. When she poses for Botticelli and steals from him, the events of the novel are set in motion. Thrown together with a high-born monk, the two renegades are driven to save the Italian city-states from war. Of course, Luciana isn't what she thinks she is, and neither is the simple monk. But the two together are unstoppable. Think The da Vinci Code meets Girl with the Pearl Earring!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Huntress by Malinda Lo

Kaisa from Lo's Morris Award winning Ash is back in this prequel novel. She accompanies Taisin, a gifted sage, and the King's son into the fairy world to speak to the fairy queen. Kaisa isn't sure what she's getting into, but she was needed, according to Taisin's visions. The adventure is long and rough and many people die. But eventually Kaisa's purpose becomes clear.

This book was slow going for me--I was looking forward to starting it and then I was looking forward to finishing. I almost didn't finish, and that doesn't happen much in a YA novel. One plus is that one of the love relationships in the book is between two teenage girls--that doesn't happen much in mainstream YA fantasy.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Outer Banks House by Diann Ducharme

Reviewed from Uncorrected Proof. Book was published June 2010.

Ahhhh, the perfect beach read! Abigail’s daddy might be crazy--he just built a little beach house right next to the water at Nag’s Head, North Carolina. No one else builds that close to the ocean! But Abigail loves the air, water, and freedom. Her ma is sickly, but Abigail has to give reading and writing lessons to a dirty local fisherman. Who, of course, ends up being the man of her dreams. He teaches her about racism, even though it’s Abigail who lives on a plantation and had slaves who are now her low paid servants. Abigail is practically engaged to an up-and-coming doctor, but his prettiness and uselessness is a complete turnoff after a summer at the beach.

Abigail’s about-face about slaves, black people, and rascism is a bit of a stretch, but her ability to teach freed slaves was a plus. She becomes entrenched into the “colored community” on Roanoke Island, and is shocked when her daddy shows his true colors in a lynching. Abigail’s story is breezy and light, but really well written--I enjoyed it and it puts me in the mood to go to the beach. Alabama, here I come!

Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean by Justin Somper

Book One of the series has been on my shelf for months and I finally finished it after members of my PPYA committee convinced me of its worth. And they are right. It’s not cheesy like the title.

Connor and Grace, twin children of a lighthouse keeper, have always heard their father sing a shanty about the dreaded pirates/vampires, but they never imagined they would meet them in person. After their father’s death, the children escape to the sea and almost drown in a terrible storm. Connor is rescued by pirates and Grace is lucky enough to be picked up by the Vampirates. The two must use their skills (Connor is strong/quick and Grace is smart) to find each other and survive the pirate seas.

It’s a quick, entertaining read and I can see why the series is popular with middle schoolers and junior high kids. It’s quite the adventure!

The Time-Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky

Published April 2011, but reviewed from Advance Reading Copy

Seventh-grader Louise Lambert loves vintage clothing. All her friends are buying new clothes at the mall, and Louise knows all the cool clothiers of earlier times--CoCo Chanel, Missoni, and tons of other designers I’ve never heard of. When she gets a special invitation to a one-day only vintage sale, she attends to find the perfect dress for the junior high semiformal. Unfortunately, the dress she tries on takes her back to the days of the Titanic. Louise is in the body of famed actress Miss Baxter, and she must try to keep the Titanic from sinking and get back into her junior high self. Obviously, you all know the ship still goes down, but her friends survive.

Good story, but I just didn’t feel like Louise’s voice was that of a 7th grader. Her character really should have ben about 14 or 15. I mean, really, she was put into the body of a adult actress with married men flirting with her--not exactly 7th grade stuff. I think the plot could have been more interesting if Louise was an older teenager.

Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson

Oh, baby, I can't wait to see this movie! How lucky was this author? Gee, I'll write a book and sell it to Doubleday, oh, and, wait, Steven Spielberg will direct a movie from it, too (out in 2013).

Think of Independence Day and Armageddon and all those movies where Will Smith kicks ass. Take it times 10. Now you have a world where robots are essential to humans--they are our domestics and factory workers. But a human creates a monster who thinks too well and takes over all computers. Sounds simple, but havoc is wrecked all over the world for years. Humans survive, but it takes several heroes to lead the resistance in the New War. The action doesn't stop and you want the characters to rescue you on their way to save the world. Read it--all your friends will be talking about it soon anyway....

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, Performed by Nick Podehl

I'm telling you--you can't go wrong listening to an audiobook that won an Odyssey Award. This book was an 2011 Honor winner and really deserved it. The performer spoke like a dog, folks. And he did it well! It didn't hurt that the story was awesome, too. Books Two and Three are on my to-read list now, but I'm going to keep listening to them instead of reading them.

Todd's home on New World has completely thrown him for a loop. He grew up in Prentisstown--a world where there are no women and men don't speak to boys. He's the youngest boy, but the action starts days before his thirteenth birthday, when he is supposed to be a man. A girl arrives in the woods and he can't hear her thoughts. This is strange to Todd--he is used to hearing the "noise" from everyone around him, even pets and farm animals. Todd and the girl embark on a journey to try to find safety in a world that has gone crazy. Again, the audiobook is amazing--I wanted to sit in the garage to find out what was happening next. I know I may be the only YA librarian who hasn't read the Chaos Walking series, but better late than never!

Triangles by Ellen Hopkins

To be published Oct 18, 2011. Picked up ARC at ALA Annual in New Orleans.

Well, I was wondering how Ellen Hopkins could get more adult, and, wow, she sure can! I must admit that the blatant discussion of swinging, threesomes, affairs, and disregard for the sanctity of marriage made me uncomfortable. And I’m a divorced woman who has done her share of living. But Hopkins has a way of bringing taboo topics to light for young adults in her books, so I’m not surprised that she tackled something similar in her first adult novel.

Three female friends are trying to survive. Holly has the perfect husband, but chooses to have an affair and spice up her life. Marissa devotes her life to taking care of her terminally ill daughter and tolerating her gay son, leaving little time to her husband who has cheated on her for years. Andrea is divorced and trying to find a man, but has just about given up--nothing seems to work for her. The three women are floundering, as well as the men in their lives.

It was heart-wrenching to read, but I’m interested to read Hopkins’ version of the story told through the eyes of the teens in this novel. I foresee a bestseller for Hopkins--many of her teen readers are now adults, and even her teen fans will run out to purchase this adult novel told in verse.

Interesting the novel, Holly discovers her real mom, whose name is Sarah Hill. Um, that’s my name! I met Ellen Hopkins last year when she came to my school--we’ve exchanged emails about the visit. Was she inspired by my bland and normal name? :)

Here's a sample poem from page 299 in the ARC--I know, I know, it might not look like this in the final printing, but it's too good not to share.


Since I’ve gone out with a man

who even pretended this much

interest in me as a woman.

Me as a mother. Me as a sister.

Me as a human being. Robin listens

more than he talks about himself.

Asks all the right questions. Laughs

at all the appropriate times. Gives

compliments freely. He’s handsome,

in a down-home sort of way. Has

a career he loves, not just a job he puts

up with, and he’s not afraid to spend

a decent chunk of his hard-earned cash

on a pricey Sunday brunch for two

at one of my all-time favorite places.

He’s in relatively good shape. Has

a really great smile. Most likely

isn’t married. And all that makes me

wonder, one: what’s wrong with

him? And, two: if there’s nothing

at all wrong with him, why me?