Wednesday, December 26, 2012

I love the Lisa Yee books...and one of the things I love best is that you don't have to read them in order.....each one stands alone, though they intertwine like through the various events and children's lives.  Warp Speed stars Marley who is lightning fast at running, but only because he uses it as his only escape from all the bullying he goes through on a daily basis.  The issues tackled are real, but not overwhelming and are solidly aimed at middle school.....and the kids feel like people I know.....all around a good, solid book.

Sparrow Road is one of those amazing books that's hard to's a book about family and about growing up and is such a pleasant quiet read that it never seemed like something I would enjoy....but I did.  The story centers around an artist retreat where Raine and her mother go for the summer.  Raine isn't sure why, but is positive she will be miserable in this quiet sleepy town....instead she bonds with the various artists and begins to discover her own talents.  She also meets her biological father for the first time and begins to come to terms with who he is and how she feels about him.   This is a really good example of a "sleeper".....but if you are someone who wants a good story, then this is for you.

Personal Effects is a really hard read, but completely worth it.  Matt's brother died in action in Iraq and his father's decision of how to deal with it is to ignore it and work on "toughing" Matt up so he too can join the military.  When Matt finds some personal letters in his brother's personal effects, he decides to take a car and travel across country to meet this girl his brother was involved with but had never mentioned.......and when he arrives, he finds that there are many aspects of his life that his brother kept secret.   This was an emotionally packed story that hit me hard, but I would highly recommend to anyone.

I wasn't sure about this book, seemed like it would be yet another werewolf book, but it isn't......instead it was a completely original tale delving into the Native American legends of skinwalkers (aka shape changers).  Maya is dealing with backlash of the death of her best friend, when Rafe, the new kid in town, shows her that her birthmark marks her as a skinwalker.  She is trying to figure this out as well as what really happened to her friend when a fire breaks out and they have to evacuate.....this is the start of a trilogy, but was an exciting and fast read.

Boy at the End of the World is an alright story of a young man who wakes up in a birthing pod who is trying to figure out the world around him and also save the other "stored" animals and people from machines gone awry.  This is an alright story but rather predictable.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

An interesting graphic novel, not amazing.....but not bad.....the basic premise is exactly as it sounds.....a couple of guys who kick is a dwarf, the other....well, he doesn't define himself, so let's call him a really big dude......they go after monsters, for a price and usually cause mayhem while doing it.....sort of Lethal Weapon, but with monsters in a fantasy setting........give it a shot if you're looking for something different

Orchards is a book in verse.....and while it's sad in content, it stays uplifting and speaks to the power of family.  When a classmate of Kana's commits suicide, her mother sends her to her extended family in Japan in an effort to get her away from the situation and also keep grounded while getting to know her mother's family better.  The family has orchards and Kana helps with various pruning and maintenance duties as well as generally getting used to an entirely different culture.  This is a quiet book, with moments of sadness and triumph but it was a really good look at the survivors of suicide.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Berlin Boxing Club is a rough read....and you know it's going to be with a setting of Nazi Germany and the main character being a Jewish kid who wants to be a boxer.....that being said, I am glad this was assigned to me to read.  It was a quick read, very on point with the characters and an engaging story that hasn't been done a million times (which is hard in Holocaust fiction)........I really enjoyed this, despite the depressing story setting it managed to be uplifting and enjoyable to read.

Aaaand now another sad shootings.......however, this one isn't a tragic story and is a VERY fast read due to being told in poetry format.  Andy is the janitor's kid and is one of a few bullied kids.  He befriends Blake and through the course of their friendship he discovers that Blake has a gun, courtesy of his father who died in the military.  Andy enjoys shooting the gun at cans and trees, but is worried at his friends obsession with "getting even" with all the bullies.  He is left with a choice, betray his only friend or risk a greater betrayal if Blake isn't joking and indeed intends to carry through with his threats.  I liked that this story isn't from the shooters point of view, and I liked the flowing nature of the narrative.

I don't usually pick up Joan Bauer books, and I don't know why....because every time I read one, I quite enjoy it.  Close to Famous is no exception to this rule.  I was assigned this title, and while it looked like it would be a lame book about a kid who liked turned out to be quite good.  Foster loves baking, it is her armour against all the other difficulties in her life; like her mom's abusive boyfriend, like her inability to learn to read and her father's death in Iraq.  When Foster and her mother end up in West Virginia in a tiny little town, she doesn't have high hopes; but as she meets various residents things start to change......Foster finds her niche and real friends and the strength to deal with all that life throws her way.   I really enjoyed this...perhaps a bit more than I might've if I hadn't just finished two VERY depressing titles, but still....a nice fun light book with well drawn characters and an interesting story.

Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, review by Nina Soukhanovskii

Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton.  A Quote to Consider: “With a shiver of foreboding he saw his marriage becoming what most of...