Monday, August 4, 2014

E. Lockart's Riveting WE WERE LIARS

"Be a little kinder than you have to."

"Always do what you're afraid to do."

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is one of my all-time favorite books. I also really loved Dramarama. Actually, I loved everything I've read by E. Lockhart. So I grabbed We Were Liars and began reading without so much as a glance at the book jacket.

But I'll give you the benefit of a quickie synopsis:
Spending the summers on her family's private island off the coast of Massachusetts with her cousins and a special boy named Gat, teenaged Cadence struggles to remember what happened during her fifteenth summer.

Cadence (Cady) wakes up after an accident with no memory of what caused her to hit her head. She doesn't remember much of the summer before the accident either. But before she begins to investigate what happened that summer, we're taken on a journey through the lives of her intriguing family, the Sinclairs.

Their family owns an island with several homes on it. Each home belongs to a different daughter and her family. Cady and the other cousins have been spending their summers on the island every year. Cady and the other two of the older cousins, Johnny and Mirren, are the best of friends. Another boy named Gat, who is not related to Cady, begins joining the threesome one year. The four become inseparable.

The the accident occurs and things change. When Cady is well enough to return to the island two summers later, she's determined to find out what happened. She's frustrated that everyone seems to be hiding the truth from her. What she discovers is unforgettable.

I loved this moving, emotional, riveting book. Lockhart has a way of evoking a completely unique mood and atmosphere for each of her books. This one of spellbinding. The story has rich characters and an amazing setting. It also makes you think about class, family, and what it means to be an outsider. I can't even speak about the ending without giving anything away. But it is incredible. Also, the writing! I was highlighting right and left at all the beautiful phrases and imagery. Wow!

Seriously. This is one you won't want to miss out on. I wish I had a book trailer to share. (I've been saying that a lot lately. Perhaps I should start making them myself...) But I do have an interview with the author about the book. There are no spoilers, but you still may want to wait to watch it until after you read the book.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

ALL OUR YESTERDAYS is a Thrilling Time Travel Ride by Cristin Terrill

As you may have noticed, I'm a sucker for time travel books. But I really like them to be well thought out, plotted well, and have characters I care about. This one has all of those requirements and much more.

Here is your quickie synopsis:
Em must travel back in time to prevent a catastrophic time machine from ever being invented, while Marina battles to prevent the murder of the boy she loves.

This is one of those books where spoilers can ruin the experience, so I'll tread lightly. The book begins with Em in a prison cell for unknown reasons, next door to an unknown boy with whom she has daily conversations in between being interrogated and tortured. Right away, the plot sucked me in. Em breaks out with the boy, Finn, in the cell next to her. They go back in time to murder a man who is apparently responsible for making the world a horrifying mess.

The story is told masterfully in two time periods concurrently. This is one of those types of novels that can become a mess really easily. In other books, I get bored by one of the narrators and flip ahead or skip big sections. Not here. both points of view are so intriguing, I did not want to miss a word of it. The author did a brilliant job of keeping the plot tight, clear, and action-packed. There were scenes so brilliantly written that I felt I was watching an action movie.

As much as the plot stood out, the characters are wonderful too. Em and her friend have gone back in time over and over to try to prevent the villain from ruining the world. They are faced with an emotional decision for this last attempt. I felt Em's anguish. I felt her confusing love for two very different guys. All of the main characters are rich and complete.

This is one of the best books I've read this year! You should read this one as soon as you can get your hands on it. You won't be disappointed.

If this is Cristin Terrill's first novel, as it appears to be, I'm truly looking forward to more from her! Check out the book trailer below:

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Enjoy Some Summer Fun with TALES FROM MY CLOSET by Jennifer Anne Moses

Like clothes? Like drama? Are you a teen girl? Then I have THE book for you! Seriously, this is a great summer read. Well, actually it's a great read for anytime, but I'm trying to illustrate that it's not a real deep book. And frankly, sometimes that's exactly what I'm in the mood for. (Although, I'm not sure you needed all of that. You could probably tell from the title what type of book this is.)

Your quickie synopsis:
Justine and her friends Bianca, Becka, Polly, and Anne, living in West Falls, New Jersey, are high school girls dealing with different fashion issues.

The book is told from the points of view of five different girls. The voices aren't strikingly different, so it took me a minute to keep them straight, but stick it out, because it's worth it. Justine has moved to a suburb of New Jersey just in time for school to begin. She wears her most fashionable dress to school, which elicits ridicule from several students. She resorts to wearing lame/boring clothes to try to blend into the background the following day. 

The other girls are all dealing with their own issues. Each one portrays a certain facade, but is feeling differently on the inside. The funny thing is - not a one of them can see how much they all have in common. They all have a passion for clothes. Through various ups and downs, they end up connecting with each other to become good friends. 

The book's strengths are in the way the characters overlap through fashion. I enjoyed it. Like I said, it's great for reading by the pool or at the beach. It also will make you want to clean out you closet and go shopping. Or reinvent your style. 

If you enjoyed SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS, this is right up your alley. 

This book is crying out for a fun-fashionista style book trailer, but I couldn't find one. Darn. Anyway, enjoy this fun-filled, fashion-focused, friendship book. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

THE HERE AND NOW is a Hopeful, Sci-Fi Adventure from Ann Brashares

If you're like me, your mind will probably immediately go to SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS when you hear the name Ann Brashares. My interest piqued when I heard about a different kind of traveling. Time traveling. Yep, this is quite the departure from SISTERHOOD.

Here is your quickie synopsis:
Seventeen-year-old Prenna, an immigrant who moved to New York when she was twelve, came from another time and she and the other travelers must follow strict rules to avoid destroying the new life they have worked so hard to get, as well as the one person Prenna is desperate to protect.

Prenna traveled to 2010 from about 60 years in the future where the world was (is/will be) crashing down around her from a blood plague. Literally everyone is dying. The world is hot and wet, and the mosquito are feasting. Prenna and this group have traveled back in time to before this destruction to escape. They live by strict rules like: you can't interfere with the sequence of time, you must avoid inclusion in the historical record, and above all - no getting emotionally or physically intimate with a "time native."

So, my first thought was, if they escaped to this earlier time, how could they resist attempting to change this awful future? But they have a strict rule against it. Puzzling right? And why would they only take this small group of people? Questions, so many questions.

Back to Prenna. She has a friendship with this boy, Ethan, and would love to get closer to him, but she has to hide so much from time natives that it strains their relationship. After meeting this strange, but oddly familiar homeless man, Ethan and Prenna begin on an investigative journey that throws them much closer together, despite the "rules" of her community.

I enjoyed this book. Not only did I enjoy the thinking about the time path and possible forks in the road. But there were some sections about memory that I loved. The community gave the people fictional histories as their new lives, so they could fit in with the new time period. In the begining, Prenna is remembering the people who died in the future, including loved ones. People in her community talk, but they don't really communicate.
Sometimes I only hear what we don't say. I only think the things I shouldn't think and I remember what I should forget. I hear the ghosts in the room, all the people we lost in our old life who are crying out to be remembered. But we never do remember them. The whispers of things we feel and don't say - I hear them too.
It made me really sad. If you no longer speak of these people, are they erased completely? Anyway, that was just one section that really spoke to me.

Here is a book trailer, of sorts. It doesn't say much about the book itself, but with SNLer Ana Gasteyer as the host, it's worth watching.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Lauren DeStefano has Another Hit on Her Hands with PERFECT RUIN

People tell me all the time that they've "written off dystopians." They are tired of them. Well, as a YA librarian, I can't hardly "write off" an entire genre. Especially now, when there are oodles of them still being published right and left. But what I will do is be very particular about the ones I choose to read. In other words, these books have to compete for my time in ways that they never had to before. 

One of the best ways to win at this competitive race to the top of my pile is to be published by an author I already love. That's how PERFECT RUIN reached the top. Fortunately for me, in this world full of Dystopian/Utopian Sci-Fi books, book 1 in the Internment Chronicles is original and fresh. I had a feeling it would be. I didn't even read the description, but I had read WITHER, so I knew that Lauren DeStefano is a unique storyteller. I was pleasantly greeted with an original premise that kept me reading. That says a lot, since I've been extremely picky lately about the books I read - dystopian or otherwise. I have a huge pile for this summer, so I've been rather fickle. I read this one in 3 days. 

Here is your quickie synopsis: 
Sixteen-year-old Morgan Stockhour lives in Internment, a floating city utopia. But when a murder occurs, everything she knows starts to unravel.

Internment is a city that floats way above the ground. The lore states that humans had become so ungrateful and bratty that the god of the ground was going to get rid of them, but the god of the sky convinced him that the humans were to clever to dispose of, so he agreed to grant them a small island in the sky to live on. They would never to be allowed to return to the ground. Interesting premise, yes? 

So, Morgan is living in this city in the sky called Internment. They've been there several hundred years, and the society has some interesting rules. It's pretty much a police state with arranged marriages, arranged births, and a king to rule over everything. 

But there are some lovely parts of society too, and most people enjoy their organized, somewhat pampered lives. However, these other people, they have a longing to know what's over the edge. They feel that there is more to the world than their tiny island in the sky. Some are so tempted by the mystique of the edge that they jump off. Unfortunately, these "jumpers" always come away with an injury of some type that scars them for life. 

The day a fellow student is murdered changes everything for Morgan and her entire family. Suddenly her small paradise begins to feel claustrophobic and frightening. But that's just the beginning. What she learns next will change her world forever. 

I really enjoyed the premise and curiosity kept me reading. I really wanted to know more about the world. DeStefano has created a world rich with history and religion. The characters are interesting, although I want to know more about Morgan's betrothed, Basil. I feel like he has more going on than we're privy to in this first book. Morgan is well balanced. She's a dreamer, yet still practical when needed and reacts to the events around her in an authentic way. Morgan's best friend Pen is quite the surprise. I love her! I'm also intrigued by the character who made her entrance right at the end. 

I'm really looking forward to the sequel. I was so afraid to look to see if it was out yet. Ack! I was letdown, of course. It doesn't come out until March of 2015! Oh well. Don't let that dissuade you from reading it now. It's totally worth it!

Now that I think about it, it feels a little like the ACROSS THE UNIVERSE Sci-Fi Trilogy that I adored so much. Hopefully this series will get even better with each installment, like that one did.

Monday, June 16, 2014

John Corey Whaley's NOGGIN Grabs Your Attention with a Laugh, Holds on to it with Wit and Soul

"Listen -- I was alive once and then I wasn't. Simple as that. Now I'm alive again. The in-between part is still a little fuzzy, but I can tell you that, at some point or another, my head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado."

Yep. Best first paragraph I've read in a long while. NOGGIN is awesome. It sounds like it's going to be a comedy. And yes, it's funny. But, it's also sweet, thought-provoking, witty, and sad.

Travis was dying of leukemia at sixteen years old when he was approached by a doctor who said he could freeze him until they find a suitable donor body for him. This meant that they would need to store his head until such time arose. That brings us to the "my head got chopped off" part of the plot.

Travis figured it would be decades before he woke up, so he said goodbye to everyone and died / went to sleep. When he wakes up it's only 5 years later. Travis is thrilled to jump back into his old life again, but soon finds out that 5 years is just enough time for his friends, particularly his girlfriend, to move on without him.

The book begins as simply witty and interesting and grows into something meaningful and thought provoking. This type of medical procedure doesn't really seem all that far off into our future*, so it feels authentic to consider the emotional ramifications of leaving your life for a while and coming back later. Time stood still for Travis, yet it forged ahead for everyone else.

Travis must figure out a way to deal with the changes and appreciate life. Will he be able to make a new life for himself while still hanging on to part of his old life? Will he be "worth saving?"

I really enjoyed this book. Travis is a wonderful, deep, realistic character. His friend Hatton is hysterically funny. He's reminiscent of any Anthony Michael Hall character from the 80's teen movies - in the best way ever.

Here's the trailer, which doesn't really tell you much, but the quotes are awesome.



*Unless you're a doctor or scientist and then, maybe it feels different. ;) 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Hysterical Modern Day Fairy Tale with a Touch of Heart: GORGEOUS by Paul Rudnick

"Oh my God. OH MY GOD!!! No that's not right, that's not nearly enough because right now even God must be tweeting everyone in heaven and asking, 'Did U hear what Jate just said???'"

GORGEOUS was a lot of fun! It's like the Meg Cabot PRINCESS DIARIES series with some supernatural thrown in. And it works, actually. Really, it's a modern day fairy tale.

Your synopsis:
When eighteen-year-old Becky Randle's mother dies, Becky is whisked away from a trailer park to New York City, where fashion designer Tom Kelly offers to transform her into a glamorous Rebecca, a girl fit for a prince--but soon she begins to fear that she will lose touch with her real self.

I enjoyed Becky, and her best friend, Rocher, is hysterical. She's the perfect sharp witted, funny sidekick to Becky's leading lady/Cinderella character.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Neil Gaiman's THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE

Yes, it's been a while since I've posted a review. I'm overcome with a sense of ennui about reading lately. I've started a book, put it down, picked up another, put it down. Nothing lately has has lit that book-passion fire in me. Did this one?

First the synopsis:
When a middle-aged man returns to his childhood home in Sussex, England, for a funeral he remembers frightening childhood memories relating to the neighbor girl who promised to protect him from the darkness unleashed by a suicide at the pond at the end of their street.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

BORN AT MIDNIGHT by CC HUNTER has Supernatural Fun and Romance

So, the annual Montgomery County Book Festival is coming up on Saturday, bringing over 40 authors! It's a free event and includes panel discussions, three keynote speeches, and autograph sessions. I've been meaning to read a series by one of the authors, C.C. Hunter, called BORN AT MIDNIGHT. I'm sure I would've gotten to it eventually. But then a student told me about it in book club last week, and her excitement was so contagious, I picked it up.

Yay! I'm glad I did. Kylie Galen had been feeling like her world was crushing in on her. Her boyfriend dumped her, her grandmother died, and her parents were divorcing. The last straw is when she's inadvertently arrested at a party. Her parents send her to what appears to be "juvenile delinquent" camp to straighten her out.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Chilling, Horrifying, and All Consuming - You Won't Soon Forget THE FIFTH WAVE by Rick Yancey

"I am the one not running, not staying, but facing.
Because if I am the last one, then I am humanity.
And if this is humanity's last war, then I am the battlefield."

I'm not sure why I didn't know about this book until now. Apparently, it's been out since May, and it's on several "best-of" lists. But, anyway wow! I couldn't put it down. And after stopping halfway along in two other books first, it was super satisfying to find this one. You probably recognize the author, Rick Yancy. He wrote THE MONSTRUMOLOGISTand THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF ALFRED KROPP.

The 5th Wave is a great combination of dystopian and alien invasion/science fiction. It begins with the electricity going off at school. Cassie Sullivan, along with her entire high school, is rounded up into the gym. Soon, they began to feel that something major has gone wrong when parents are showing up on foot to pick them up. Cars no longer work. Nor does any other device requiring electricity, batteries, or radio.