Sunday, May 29, 2011

In My Mailbox (18)

IMM is hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren.  The purpose is to share books bought, borrowed, scavenged, traded and won.  For more information click here.


Marcelo In The Real World Sunrise Over Fallujah

Marcelo in the Real World by Fransisco X. Stork
Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers


The Coven's DaughterThis Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein

* Debut

Thursday, May 26, 2011


familyFamily by Micol Ostow 
New York: Egmont, 2011
384 pages
5 out of 5

One the surface, it is a day like any other when seventeen-year-old Melinda Jensen hits the road for San Francisco, leaving behind her fractured home life and a constant assault on her self-esteem.  Henry is the handsome, charismatic man who comes upon her, collapsed on a park bench, and offers love, a bright new consciousness, and -- best of all -- a family.  One that will embrace her and give her love. Because family is what Mel has never really had.  And this new family, Henry's family, shares everything. They share the chores, their bodies, and their beliefs.  And if Mel truly wants to belong, she will share in everything they do. No matter what the family does, or how far they go.

I was happily surprised to discover this was a novel in verse (otherwise known as poetry). The cover captivated me from the moment I first saw it and the verse element meant that I had to read it. Right now. I read this in a few hours because it was just too good to put down (and short sentences make for quick reading).

The verse gives an authentic feel and voice to Mel. It feels like memories in snippets. For many people it is difficult to imagine why a cults are appealing. This style, to my mind, helps show (as opposed to just tell) how and why Mel finds herself feeling safe and secure as a member of Henry's family.

The family is supposed to share everything and the leader is God. This point is well made with the both the lack and use of capitalization. Repetition is also used very well. It brings urgency to certain passages and understanding to others.

Though the subject matter isn't the happiest, this is a fantastic read.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Thirteen Plus One

Thirteen Plus One (The Winnie Years) 
Thirteen Plus One by Lauren Myracle 
New York: Dutton Children's Books
272 pages

Winnie has finally gotten the hang of junior high - gaining two fabulous BFFs and a perfect (OK, sometimes perfect) boyfriend in the process. And with graduation just around the corner, the countdown to high school has begun. Not that Winnie is obsessing about it, since she has a whole bunch of things to check of her To-Do-Before-High-School list.  But things, like owning her heart's desire, helping the world, and - oh, yeah - growing up.  With so much to do and only a summer to do it, one thing is for sure: eleven, twelve, and thirteen were big, but fourteen is going to be epic! (Description from Amazon).

This is a wonderful book and a perfect little summer read. The book begins with Winnie turning 14.  She's on her way to high school soon; she's got two great friends and a sweet boyfriend. What more could a girl want?  To grow up for one. 

Winnie's voice is honest and true. She sounds and acts just like a fourteen-year-old while trying to figure out what it means to be a grown up--or at least a little more grown up. The dynamic between Winnie and her friends, Cinnamon and Dinah is also well done.  Cinnamon is the loud and slightly pushy one.  Dinah is the quiet one, and Winnie fits somewhere in between, though she's not perfect either.  They have spats and confrontations but actually think about the problems and get them worked out. I don't remember many girls doing that when I was in a school, but it's a nice addition. Girls don't have to be, er, witches?

Also, the relationship with Lars seems a bit of a stretch.  I don't remember anyone in middle school (or even high school for that matter) dating for more than three months, but the lesson that comes along with the relationship is a good one.  There is some joking and mention of sexual things in this book, but it's not graphic.  It's an honest depiction of how middle school girls joke and discuss sex and boys.

This is the fourth book in the Winnie Years Series and events from earlier novels are mentioned (especially Amanda, the ex-bff). The accompanying explanations caught me up perfectly so I didn't feel like I was missing out. Still, I might just have to read the others. 

Disclosure: I borrowed this ebook from my local library.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tween Tuesday: Cosmic

Tween Tuesday is hosted @ GreenBeanTeenQueen.  It's an opportunity to highlight great tween reads!

CosmicCosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce 
New York: Walden Pond Press, 2010
313 pages
4.5 out of 5

Liam has always felt a bit like he's stuck between two worlds. This is primarily because he's a twelve-year-old kid who looks like he's about thirty. Sometimes it's not so bad, like when his new principal mistakes him for a teacher on the first day of school or when he convinces a car dealer to let him take a Porsche out on a test drive. But mostly it's just frustrating, being a kid trapped in an adult world. And so he decides to flip things around. Liam cons his way onto the first spaceship to take civilians into space, a special flight for a group of kids and an adult chaperone, and he is going as the adult chaperone. It's not long before Liam, along with his friends, is stuck between two worlds again--only this time he's 239,000 miles from home.

I loved this book! The tone is lighthearted and humorous and Liam is quite charming. Any kid who has ever dreamed of being an astronaut will get a kick out of Liam and Florida's adventure. (Yes, Florida. But this is one instance where interestingly named characters actually add to the quirkiness and warmth of the story instead of being different simply to be different.)

Reading the description and even the first bit of the novel it's easy to view this is a silly tale about something that could never really happen. And that may be true, but there is much more to this story than meets the eye.  Yes, Liam tries to be a typical kid but is often mistaken for an adult. As a result he finds himself in sticky situations.  Often, however, his dad manages to step in, usually in the nick of time. The relationships within this novel are what make it great. Liam and his father. Florida and Liam. Liam and the children he chaperones. There is something to be gained, by both parties, that ends in heart-warming revelations and understanding.

I highly recommend this novel.
Disclosure: I borrowed this ebook from my local library.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

In My Mailbox (17)

IMM is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren.  The purpose is to share books bought, borrowed, scavenged, traded and won.  For more information click here.


 Gossip From the Girls' Room: A Blogtastic! NovelDust City

Dust City by Robert Paul Weston (ebook)


The Magic of Finkleton

The Magic of Finkleton by K. C. Hilton*


The Great Hamster Massacre 

The Great Hamster Massacre by Katie Davies^

Free ebook:

Songs for a Teenage Nomad

Songs for a Teenage Nomad by Kim Culbertson

*Debut novel
^US Debut - Published in the UK Jan 2010
This looked fun, so I nabbed it off the ARC shelf.

Just a note: it is way too easy to buy books on my Nook.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Curse of the Wendigo

The Curse of the Wendigo (Monstrumologist)The Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey 
New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010
424 pages
4 out of 5

As apprentice to Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, Will Henry has lived a life dedicated to the pursuit of monstrumology: the study of monsters.  But when Dr. Warthrop is informed that his old mentor Dr. von Helrung is trying to prove the existence of the mythical Wendigo, he who devours all mankind, a creature that starves even as it gorges itself on human flesh, Will's world is punged into fresh turmoil.

Will and Dr. Warthrop must traverse the desolate wastelands of Canada...and in the process, may discover a truth far more terrifying then even they could have ever imagined.

I have a hard time with scary movies.  Blood and gore just make me feel nauseous these days, but thank goodness for Rick Yancey and The Monstrumologist series.  With this series I can satisfy my interest in this genre without the icky side effects. The story took a little longer to grip me than with the first one, but once I hit that stride I did not want to put this down. 

I love the structure of these books.  Yancey is supposedly the editor of William James Henry's journals that were found after his death.  He writes of visiting professors and doing research at the University of Florida and visiting places in Gainesville and Alachua.  The familiarity of these places really brings these stories to life. The structure is so great because it works.  When I read the opening passages where Yancey discusses the research behind the stories, I'm intrigued, but as soon as the story starts that all fades away and I find myself in Will Henry's world.  I completely forget that there is a Rick Yancey and the town I live in until the final pages.  He makes me want to believe that perhaps it might just be real.

The characters remain the same from the first title--Will Henry both awed and intimidated by his guardian, Dr. Warthrop.  Dr. Warthrop's determination and ego leading him along.  I love the way these two interact.  Also, the inclusion of Warthrop's former love and best friend adds conflict and interest to his character.  Overall, the characterizations are well done.

The Curse of the Wendigo is the second of the Monstrumologist series. Though it is not necessary to read the first book to understand the second, I highly recommend them both.  I am also happy to report that there will be a third to the series.
Disclosure: I borrowed this title from my local library.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

In My Mailbox (16)

IMM is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren.  The purpose is to share books bought, borrowed, scavenged, traded and won.  For more information click here.


Thirteen Plus One (Winnie Years)

Thirteen Plus One by Lauren Myracle (ebook)


And then Everything UnraveledDead Girl Walking

And Then Everything Unraveled by Jennifer Sturman (ebook)
Dead Girl Walking by Linda Joy Singleton (ebook)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Replacement

The ReplacementThe Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff 
New York: Razorbill, 2010
343 pages
3 out of 5

Mackie is not one of us.  Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a replacement--left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago.  Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate.  But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem.  He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs. (Description from Amazon).

The premise is interesting and unique but I wasn't immediately gripped by the story. There are times when I feel novels explain too much and other times when I feel the set-up is lacking.  This was sort of an in-between for me in that sense.  The description does provide some set up--yes, Mackie is definitely a replacement and he's allergic to the human world.  But the story still felt like it was jumped into a bit without much explanation.  More is given along the way, but as someone who does not read this genre often, a little background would have uncluttered my brain a bit more.

Mackie is an interesting, well thought out character who contends with the typical teenager problems like figuring out girls while also working to appear normal.  Mackie's "condition" is not necessarily a secret; the town of Gentry has a long history of pretending things are normal while putting up safeguards to keep their children safe in their beds.  The only other two characters worth mentioning are Roswell, Mackie's best friend, and Tate.  Roswell is the quintessentially normal son of the most normal family in Gentry and knows Mackie is different, but sticks by his side anyway.  Tate is Mackie's love interest.  There's a lot of bickering and confusion, but that's teenage love for you. 

Many of the scenes involving Mayhem just seem surreal to me.  At first I felt like I was reading a different novel.  The intertwining worlds did eventually make sense and flow more smoothly. 

Overall it was an interesting read and I like that it takes a bit of a different look at the paranormal.