Saturday, April 23, 2016

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Jessie has to move with her father from a middle class Chicago neighborhood to a very wealthy, elite neighborhood near Hollywood when her father decides to marry a wealthy woman there.  She finds herself in an elite, very competitive school as well.  She and her father recently lost her mother to cancer.  The woman and her son recently lost their father/husband.  There are other losses in this book as well, a brother, a sister.  Everyone with a loss is struggling in his/her own way with grief, some more successfully than others.  

Jessie is feeling especially misfit in new school, new designer home, no friends when she receives an anonymous message telling her how to start navigating the new school.  The somebody who is nobody and Jessie begin to regularly communicate and Jessie begins to have friends again.  The course of friendship isn't always smooth but its getting there.  The mystery identity of SN keeps one reading and guessing  and hoping along with Jessie.  The pair play a game - tell me three things to get to know each other and to help Jessie guess who the mystery person is.  All in all this is a decent romantic story worth your time.  Thats from someone who generally doesn't care for such stories.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Falling Kingdom takes you into a world where the tale of a princess, a rebel, a sorceress, and an heir to a throne is told across a plane of 3 different kingdoms. The book perfectly tells the story from each of the characters' point of view despite them rarely ever encountering one another. Each having their own layers of complexity, developments, influences, and values. Because of that their actions must be viewed from different perspectives. It is captivating and personally always had me on the edge of my seat wondering what is to come. It is story filled with a fantasy/magical take on medieval hierarchy, and where people fight for their survival, and the rulers of each kingdom for power.  It centers on characters who are part of different sides yet ultimately may come together, or drift farther apart in shocking ways, but if this satisfies your taste then this book, this series is one to try.


Monday, April 11, 2016

Shallow Graves by Kaci Wallace

Its about a girl name Breezy, that wakes up in a shallow grave without no memory about what happened within that year she has been missing or why she is in the grave. All she does know is that she is dead, well... undead, with a dead man at her feet, and a few memories of what happened before she woke up which was the last party she went to before she disappeared and of the slap she gotten that caused her to leave the party.

During the book you are on edge because you discover that the world is a lot more scary and darker than ever. You follow Breezy as she tries to discover what she is now, her powers she know has, who killed her, and her trying to stay alive over the different challenges that she now faces. Breezy meets a few people who are also creatures or some would say monsters but she learns that just because you aren't human doesn't make you a monster.

Personally, I really enjoyed the book. It gives you monsters, drama, action, and horror. I honestly thought I possibly might not like it but I was happily wrong. Definitely for the fans of horror, supernatural creatures, and suspense.  


April 11th 2016

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Fighting Chance by Claudia Melendez Salinas

This has similarities to several other books I've read in the past.  One is Walter Dean Myers' book Scorpions.

A boxing club has been using free a formerly unused storage shed for boxing  training and practice bouts.

Now the town park district has decided that they need to take it over for paid programming. Coach and several boxers try to fight the take over. That is just one of the things going on and this one is left unresolved.

Miguel Angel is one of the neighborhood kids using the facility to stay away from drugs and gang violence.  His best friend has joined a gang and tries to pull him in.  Among other things Miguel hides a gun for Beto and is found at the site of a murdered man and arrested.  

Miguel tries to resist joining Beto's gang which gets him targeted by Beto's leader.  Beto is to kill Miguel but finds he cannot.  This gets Beto killed by the leader.

Now Miguel, in addition to having been arrested, possibly losing his refuge from gangs and guns has
lost his best friend and he begins to question his life as is, to consider revenge for Beto's murder and really struggle.  

This book does not have a neat ending.  We are not sure that Miguel will really resist joining a gang to get revenge for Beto but there is hope.  This part is a bit different from other books where the kid involved generally predictably winds up in jail or juvie.  I did like that about this book.  But in addition to the possible loss of the packing shed by the arrest was never completely resolved.  That is did Miguel get cleared or did coach just bail him out?

There is also a thread about kids from the wrong side of town dating and relating to wealthy kids and the kinds of issues involved, gives authenticity to the story.  This is an ok story.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The house of the scorpion by Nancy Farmer

The House of the Scorpion takes place in the future in a country called Opium which borders between the United States and Aztlan(Mexico.) The novel begins with a young boy named Matt who happens to be a clone of El Patron or the original Matteo Alacran. Matt must survive the whats coming after him because every direction he faces there is always someone trying to physically or emotionally harm him. 

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Countdown Zero - Chris Rylander

After helping the Agency take down the evil organization called The Pancake Haus a few months ago, Carson has gone back to his normal life.  This includes pulling pranks at school with his friends.  They decide to pull Prankpocalypse, which is to execute as many pranks as possible.  A few of the pranks are building a wall of snow behind every entrance of the school, rearrange the sauce and condiment bottles in the cafeteria, hide the tables and chairs from the cafeteria in one of the school bathrooms, and hide expired eggs all over the school.  Carson is stuck in Principal Gomez's office as he arrives around 3 am.  Carson uses a rock to break a window and run from the school.  Everyone else helping Carson gets out without being seen.  A week later Carson gets a note in his lunch telling him Agent Nineteen has seventy-two hours to live.  Meet on the school track in six minutes.  He makes an excuse to his friends about having to go to the bathroom to meet Agent Blue on the track.  He takes Carson to Agency HQ, which happens to be underground underneath the school.  There's a lot more security than there used to be since there is a rogue agent on the loose.  Agent Blue says to seriously think about coming back to work for the Agency.  This time around he could be seriously hurt, or even die.  He agrees and they go to see the Director.  Director Isadoris tells Carson that Agent Nineteen checked in at a base which does research and produces insidious biochemical agents.  There was an automated communication which said the virus, code name Romero, had been released.  Shortly after they lost contact with the base.  The base in question is inside Mount Rushmore, which is where some of Carson's classmates are going for a field trip over the weekend.  Agent Blue has talked to Principal Gomez and Carson can go on three conditions: 1. he helps clean up Principal Gomez's office, 2. if Carson gets one more disciplinary incident between now and eight grade graduation he will be expelled, and 3. he must give up the names of his accomplices from the Prankpocalypse.  After school at Dillon and Danielle's house he tells them Gomez wants him to give up everyone that helped out the week before.  The trouble is most of them are going on the trip and turning them in would exclude them from going.  Jake, who Dillon invited over, says he'll take the blame so everyone else can go on the trip.  His mom is on the school board, so it won't be hard for him to take the blame.  The next day Carson gives Principal Gomez Jake's name, and he gives Carson permission to go on the Mount Rushmore field trip.  Carson's mom is excited he's able to go on the trip and Dillon and Danielle are surprised but happy he is going when they see him on the bus on Saturday morning.  After they get to the campgrounds everyone has trouble putting up their tents, which makes for some funny incidents.  Later that night Carson tries to sneak out to meet with Agent Blue, but Jake has to go to the bathroom.  Carson slips away from Jake to meet Agent Blue.  He gives Carson everything he'll need to get into the base including the antidote to the virus.  Jake finds Carson behind the bus.  Carson lies saying he needs to use special toilet paper when Jake sees the backpack next to Carson.  The next day after the group arrives Carson stays near the back so when Agent Blue creates a diversion he can slip away quietly.  It takes a few seconds more for Carson to realize the diversion has been done when Agent Blue drops his camera.  As Carson climbs to where the secret entrance is he gets to one last cliff and his body gives out.  Jake who had followed Carson saves his life.  Carson tells Jake that he's a spy and he has to retrieve the virus before it's unleashed on the world.  Jake helps him get through the stages to enter the facility.  After they get to the lab where Agent Nineteen is they see him laying on the ground unconscious and one of the doctors barely conscious.  Carson gives the antidote to the doctor through a drop slot.  Once the doctor and Agent Nineteen are injected with the antidote Carson opens the lab.  Phil walks out while Jake comes back with the virus.  Carson is then locked in the lab with Agent Nineteen watching Phil and Jake leave with the virus.  Will Carson be able to escape and help stop the virus from being released, or will he and Agent Nineteen perish in the lab with no one able to rescue them? 

I enjoyed this book.  It was a fun and entertaining read.  I really liked that there was a secret base hidden inside Mount Rushmore.  It makes you think where else has the government put secret bases only they know about.  I'm glad there is a third book because this one ended on an interesting note and I would like to see how the story continues.  The third book just came out in February of 2016.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Symptoms of being Human by Jeff Garvin

The fact that this novel explores gender identity differences in teens should not stop folks from reading.  Of course it is especially good for  GLBTQ kids searching for their place to fit in.  It is filled with universal truths that any kid who has had the experience of not fitting in, of being different in any way.  As this story starts Riley has already attempted suicide and failed.  Riley begins an on-line blog at the encouragement of a supportive counselor.  It rapidly gains a following including one gender identity different teen who is beaten by parents for coming out.  Riley also has an on-line stalker who goes to the same school but who cannot be identified.  All this going on results in anxiety attacks and depression and near giving up for Riley.  It is made worse by the fact that Riley has not come out to the parents, one of whom is a prominent political figure.  When the stalker leaks facts of the blog and of Riley's gender difference to the press, everything comes to a head.  Couldn't put this one down.  Highly recommended.  jdw 2/16

Out of the Dark by Ashley Hope Perez

This is historical fiction based in the late 1930's in the oil fields of south Texas where there is a mix of black, white, Hispanic populations.  Folks lived fairly well no matter what race  since oil was plentiful and free gas could be had to use in all households.  Still there were separate schools for blacks and whites.  Whites had everything newer, more plentiful.  An Hispanic girl from a different part of Texas stuck out both in the white and the black community.  So Naomi came to New London, oil town, with her younger mixed race half siblings when their father came for them and took them from their mother's parents, their abuelitos.  Henry's pastor said it was the right thing to do.  Almost right away beautiful, resourceful, intelligent Naomi formed a friendship with the son of the principal of the black school.  He also was attractive, intelligent and resourceful.  There were constant racial tensions, who could shop at what store at what time, what was Naomi doing in the whites only school and so on.  Wash's and Naomi's friendship progressed, became more than friendship.  When Henry started making advances at Naomi, wanted to marry her things got especially tense and the pair made plans to escape taking the kids with.  Then there was a horrific explosion at the whites school.  Many were injured, many were killed.  The oil rig workers, the black community including Wash all did the best they could to save lives, to find the missing.  Afterward there were rumors about who was at fault for the explosion and ultimately deaths of so many white children.  Someone had to pay and ultimately whites set out to make the black community and in particular Wash and his family take the blame.  The family tried to escape.  They were nearly lynched.  Terrible, terrible racially motivated stuff happened to Wash, Naomi and Washes family.  Beto under his white name Robbie was the lone survivor.  A riveting story based on the New London Texas school disaster of March 1937.  Very hard to read and very hard to put down.   JDW 2/16