Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Oh, my daughter and I can't wait until Divergent comes to theaters in March 2014!

I actually paid money for this book so it can sit on my daughter's shelf until she's ready to read it--she's listening to Insurgent right now.

Well, book #3.  I see what the fuss was about.  Here's my take. First, I didn't care about all the who's fighting who and oh-my-God-I can't-believe-they-did-that-Becky stuff.  I didn't get sucked into Book #3 like I did the first two.  So, when the ending came about, I was like, "Cool!"

Thinking ahead, I think the movie for Book #3 will suck.  And all the filming at O'Hare Airport will cause a lot of delays.

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Yay for another kick ass female main character, but, geez, please edit some more and make it a tighter read.  549 pages? Really? And I didn't appreciate the extra spacing between the lines.  Give me normal spacing and a 400 page book instead please.

Ismae is a typical village daughter being sold to a nasty man for marriage when she is "saved" and taken to a unique convent.  The women there are daughters of death, St. Mortain, and learn how to kill and carry out his wishes.  Pretty cool, eh? I'm a huge fan of court intrigue, fancy dresses, dastardly men, and women who buck convention.

This is firmly in the high school YA section--she is trained vaguely in "womanly arts" and the truth about how women were treated back then is referred to often.  And who doesn't want to cure a man's poison by having sex? Or, wait, did she just lie on top of him? Ohhhh, we'll never know....

Dark Triumph, Book #2, is already published.  I haven't decided if I'm going to tackle it or not. It's only 385 pages though so maybe I'll appreciate it more?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

One Shot at Forever: a Small TOwn, an Unlikely Coach, and a Magical Baseball Season

So happy that I finally got around to reading this 2013 Alex Award winner! I bought it for my dad for Christmas last year--it's about a baseball team in Macon, Illinois, which is about 10 miles from where I grew up.  In fact, my mom retired from Meridian High School a few years ago, so I recognize some of the names of the teachers in this true story about a baseball season in the early 1970s. I played volleyball against some of the kids of these players--how cool is that?

Chris Ballard can tell a story. In fact, I'm eager to see what's coming next from him.  This book reminded me of David Finkel--I became vested in the characters and the story--I wanted to hear how the tale ended. So many novelists have this problem, so I'm amazed when I get good storytelling from nonfiction authors.

How did a peace-loving hairy young English teacher turn out to be a respected coach in a small rural town? How did a team that couldn't afford matching uniforms beat one of the best Chicago baseball teams in a championship series that didn't include the class system yet?

Give this to sports fans, but also give it to fans of good nonfiction.  It's much more than a baseball book--great ideas about teaching, coaching, parenting, and growing up big minded in a small town.

The Sin-Eater's Confession by Ilsa J. Bick

The book is Ben's confession. He's over in Afghanistan now, but there was a chain of events that landed him in the military.  Back in his hometown of Merit, Wisconsin, a boy takes Ben's picture without his knowledge.  And Ben is shirtless and asleep in a hayloft. And hot.  Ben is the valedictorian and a bit of a social outcast anyway, and now the rumors are that he's gay.  And here lies in my problem with this novel.  I never felt Ben's voice believable.  So much waffling about whether or not he's gay and how concerned he is with people's perception of him.  I understand why he joined up to escape. But I don't understand that he never directly addressed any of his problems. So many secrets, but I never felt connected enough to Ben (or Jimmy, unfortunately) to care about them.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The King of Lies by John Hart. Performed by David Chandler

Well, I've just about exhausted my listens from John Hart.  I loved The Last Child and Iron House and wasn't too thrilled with Down River. This novel from 2006 falls somewhere between.  This is a good thing, right? The author kept improving with every title he published which is what readers love to see!

Work Pickens lives in the shadow of his father.  When his father's body is found with two gunshot wounds and Work inherits $15 million, all eyes are on him for the murder of his father.  Work, however, believes that his mentally unstable sister killed their father and Work will do anything to save her. So he's trying to keep her from going to jail, but also trying to figure out the crime himself.  Honestly, the end of the book reads much more smoothly than the beginning.  The main character is a real jerk at the beginning and I didn't care to know why he wasn't cooperating with the female police detective. This is one of those family secret mysteries and I was definitely surprised by one of them!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

Now I know why some people don't like sports books.  This Australian novel had a lot of play-by-play of cricket and I had NO idea what what going on. Something about batting?

I understand why this garnered some Printz interest--it's a mystery, but things are complicated.  Charlie is a typical thirteen-year-old, but everything changes when Jasper Jones, the town's troublemaker, knocks on his window in the middle of the night.  Thus begins their night journeys--cigarettes, alcohol, girls, and dead bodies.