Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fire--Kristen Cashore

This is the companion book to Graceling. It's not a sequel or even really a prequel but is set in the same universe. There is one overlapping character but it's not necessary to have read Graceling first. If you haven't read Graceling, you're missing out! Get on that.

Fire is a monster. The only thing that makes her a monster is that she has colorful hair and can read people's thoughts and control their minds. Her father was the same way and was power-hungry and cruel and ultimately perished. Determined to be different than her father, Fire, the last human monster, sacrifices everything she can to fix her father's wrongs and to be her own person.

Cashore has once again written a really strong female character. While this book was a little heavier on the romance than the action, it was still a great story. I would love to read a third book tying Fire and Graceling together.

Blog-note: I have 3 kids now (including a 5 month old baby). I'm no longer working as librarian at all. I still read but it's hard for me to find the time to blog about them. And when I do it's often well after I've read the books and when I am wicked tired and incoherent. Therefore this blog is just a pale version of what it once was. Sorry. But cut me some slack.

Punkzilla--Adam Rapp

Adam Rapp

I read this book ages ago. The details are fuzzy.

14 year old Jamie, aka Punkzilla, is AWOL from military school and on the road heading for his dying big brother. Told through a series of letters to his brother and other members of his family, the book shows Punkzilla's journey on the road, as well as his inner journey away from being a screw-up.

As is common in Rapp's other books (33 Snowfish), the subject matter and the language are raw and edgy. Punkzilla's trip is not an easy happy one--it is disturbing and gritty and nothing that a 14 year old should ever go through. The end of the book is not a nice sitcom ending, but it is somewhat hopeful that Jamie might actually have found a place he can belong.

I would definitely recommend it for older teen readers and not the younger tweens.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife--Audrey Niffenegger

No, this isn't a review. I'm only "reviewing" the YA books I read. But I want to keep track of the grownup books I'm reading for my mom's book club too.

While you're here mosey on over to that follow button to the left and click on it. There ya go.

King of the Screwups--K.L. Going

Liam is a pretty boy in trouble with his Dad for the last time. His father is fed up with his screwups and decides to ship him to his parents to straighten him out. Liam's fashion model mom isn't strong enough to stand up to her husband, but manages to send her son to her loving brother-in-law instead. While stuck in a small town with his largely unknown uncle, Liam learns about the true meaning of family, as well as his own family history.

This was a good quick read. Liam is a likeable character even if for most of the novel he thinks that he has no personal responsibility over his screwups. He grows throughout the story. I'd recommend it to high school readers who can better understand the identity crisis Liam endures.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Unnameables--Ellen Booraem

Medford Runyuin is a typical 13 year old who feels like he doesn't fit in or belong to his society. Unfortunately for him belonging in this society is CRUCIAL. Medford lives on an Island where everything, even the people, is named after its use--and anything without a use has no name and cannot be trusted. Carpenters are called Carpenter, Farmers are called Farmer and children are able to choose which of their parents names/trades they wish to pursue. Medford has an uncertain future because of his unknown past. He washed up on the Island and was taken in by a carver and his wife. Although he works with the carver the town is not quite sure whether he can live up to the Carver name. Medford's guilt over secret feelings about unnameable objects has him unsure of himself as well.

This was an entertaining read and a good commentary on art for art's sake. There's humor--one of the main characters is a "goatman"--as well as fantasy and would be good for middle school readers and older.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Jellicoe Road--Melina Marchetta

Let me start by saying that I am out of the loop with YA lit now. I don't know what's coming out until I see it on the library shelves. I don't know who the recent Printz winners are or what books are creating the latest buzz. I'm no longer working as a YA librarian, in fact at this moment I am not working at all since I had my third baby 3 1/2 weeks ago. So I picked this book randomly off the shelf the last time I went to the library. I didn't even realize it was the Printz winner until I saw the seal later on.

This book was so good.

17 year old Taylor Markham attends a boarding school in Australia. She's been there ever since she was 11 years old and her drug addict mother abandoned her at a McDonalds. She is naturally a little messed up from the experience. The school is set up into houses and each house has a student leader that takes care of the younger students in the house. A teacher is assigned to each house, but does not live in it and has very little responsibility. The student leader shoulders most of the burden. Taylor is the unwilling house leader for her house, as well as the reluctant leader of an underground community. The students are all in a war with the Townies--kids who live in the town--and the Cadets--kids from a military school who come out for a few weeks each year. They fight over territory and make deals and war based on a purple book handed down to the students from 20 years ago. Taylor must deal with negotiating with the Townies and with the Cadets (the leader of which is someone Taylor has a mysterious history with) while coping with the absence of Hannah--a beloved volunteer at the school who picked Taylor up from the McDonalds and trying to understand her strange dreams about a boy in a tree.

There's so much in this book it's hard to summarize anything. It's nearly impossible to put down. Taylor begins her journey as untrusting and bitter and eventually learns to open herself up to other people. She finally accepts her past, learns the truth about her family, and is able to move on and look to the future. I cannot say how much I loved this book. It's not the fantasy I usually rave about... but Marchetta pulled me in to the world she created and I could not leave until I was done with the book. It's well-written, the characters are complex and interesting, and the story is riveting. I highly recommend it!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Graceling--Kristin Cashore

In Kristen Cashore's fantasy novel there are people called Gracelings who have extraordinary gifts. Some are graced with cooking skills or healing skills or mind reading. Katsa is a young girl graced with killing. Her uncle, King Randa, uses her abilities to maintain control over his subjects, as well as her. She does not like being the king's bully but she doesn't see a way out until she meets another strange Graceling from another kingdom.

This book has everything you want. Fantasy, adventure, romance, social commentary, political intrigue, mystery. Katsa is a strong female character who stays true to her ideals. She is determined not to marry or have children. At one point I was disappointed because I thought that certain events were going to change her mind, but she didn't. She didn't change her true essence to please a man or anyone else. Cashore did a great job of creating a really strong heroine. She starts out a little lost and not understanding her grace, but by the end of the book she learns what her grace really is and what she can do with it. She finds her place in the world and accepts it.

This was a great book and I look forward to reading the companion, Fire, when it comes out in the fall.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Jo-Jo and the Fiendish Lot--Andrew Auseon

I enjoyed Andrew Auseon's first novel Funny Little Monkey and was not disappointed by his second. Jo-Jo and the Fiendish Lot is an immensely creative and imaginative look at life after death. The story opens with Jo-Jo, a 17-year old boy, who has lost his girlfriend and his desire to live. He intends to commit suicide when he is distracted by the naked body of a young girl floating in the water. The sight of the body is enough to delay him and arouse his curiosity. When he decides to touch the body the unbelievable happens--she opens her eyes and comes back to "life." Jo-Jo learns that there is an Afterlife--just not quite the heaven we imagine. More of an "other life", the Afterlife is a place to go to try to fix the mistakes made the first time around. When Jo-Jo makes a poor decision he follows the girl back to the Afterlife and is given a second chance at "life" and needs to choose whether or not to take it.

The story is pretty damn cool. Auseon's vision of the Afterlife is unique and wonderfully described. But his description of the band that the young girl is in--The Fiendish Lot--and the music they play is just out of this world (no pun intended). I found myself wishing for a soundtrack. I would love to know if Auseon had a band in mind as he created the Fiendish Lot!

Auseon really hit his stride with this novel. I enjoyed it a lot and was really annoyed that I had only 30 pages to go when my water broke in the middle of the night and I went into labor--without the book packed! Luckily I managed to finish it when I got home. I highly recommend this and look forward to his next books.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Starclimber--Kenneth Oppel

This is the sequel to Airborn and Skybreaker. It is just as good as the first two.

Matt Cruse is still in the Air Academy and hoping to land a job as an officer on an airship and work his way up to captain so he can seriously compete for Kate's affection and win the approval of her parents. While on break from school both he and Kate are invited to take part in a brand new adventure--in space. After a grueling 2-week training camp, Matt is ready to embark on the very first mission to space, but not without some hesitation as he has just learned that Kate is engaged.

The entire book is exciting and thrilling. As expected things don't quite go as planned and what started out as a simple mission to space turns into a race for their lives. Along the way we learn Kate's true motives and intentions.

This is a great blend of fantasy, adventure and romance. A must read for fans of the series.

Stravaganza: City of Secrets--Mary Hoffman

The Stravaganza series was supposed to be a trilogy. I am so glad Hoffman decided to go for more. As with the first three books there is a new protagonist, a new stravagante who travels between our world and the alternate world of Talia.

Matt is dyslexic and insecure in our world, but once he travels to Talia he is able to read with no problems. He discovers the other stravaganti in his world--Georgia and Sky and Nick--as well as the ones in Talia. Readers will be happy to see Luciano and Arianna return as well.

The entire series is a wonderful fantasy with a historical feel to it. It could spark an interest in the history of Italy--on which Talia is based--and the real people and places that inspired the series. A must read for any fan of the series.

Revolutionary Road--Richard Yates

This is not a teen book so I'm not really reviewing it. I'm just putting it here in case I ever forget that I read it and make the horrible mistake of reading it again. Which would be a pity because there are so many good books for me to read. (I read it for my mom's book group. I'm not leaving YA lit behind...)

Guinevere's Gift--Nancy McKenzie

This is book one in the Chrysalis Queen Quartet. I will not be reading book 2.

Guinevere is 13 years old and a tomboy living with her uncle and aunt since the death of her parents. There is a prophecy that she will grow to be the highest lady in the land but nobody takes it seriously, least of all Guinevere. Her aunt, the Queen, is jealous of the prophecy nonetheless and tries to advance her own daughter and hold Guinevere back.

I love Arthurian legend and usually enjoy anything even remotely related to it, but I just couldn't get into this book. It took me a long time to read it and even longer to be able to post about it.

Young tween girls would probably enjoy it, but the true Arthurian fan won't find anything new or special here.

Blog Archive