Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Along the same lines of Ghostbusters and Supernatural, Anna Dressed in Blood is about exterminating a ghost. When the ghost is an attractive teen aged girl and the hunter is a teen aged boy, things get a little complicated.

Cas Lowood is following in his father's footsteps, which means killing ghosts. After his father was murdered by the ghost he was trying to kill, Cas takes over his job and travels the world dealing with the local haunts who have a habit of not resting peacefully. If a ghost is responsible for mysterious deaths, you can count on Cas to handle the problem. His latest target is "Anna Dressed in Blood," a teen aged girl who had been killed on her way to a dance and now dismembers her victims who dare to enter her house. Cas first meets Anna during a prank gone wrong and was startled - not by the appearance of the ghost, but by the fact that she didn't kill him, unlike other unsuspecting prey. He soon discovers that Anna isn't exactly what she seems and that other forces are at play. With the help of new friends, Cas works to free Anna and to come to peace with the monster that killed his father years ago.

This was an enjoyable book. Supernatural books aren't my usual genre, but there's nothing like a creepy ghost story that makes you double check under your bed before going to sleep. This novel has a good amount of creep factor, although I don't think it will keep you up at night. It's intriguing, though, because like Cas, you start to feel sorry for Anna as you discover this struggle she's dealing with since she feels guilty about killing. As a romance blossoms, you realize that this book appeals to both males and females. Overall it's an enjoyable book. In light of it being an Abe Lincoln award nominee, I'm not as impressed compared to the other Abe books I read. This one is a good story, I liked reading it, and I might even consider reading the sequel Girl of Nightmares. Thinking of it as a book up for an award, though, I feel like there needs to be more to it - something that I walk away with when I finish the book. I didn't feel that way with this book. It's a great story and I enjoyed it, but I don't think there's enough behind it to make it an award winner.

If you're looking for an enjoyable ghost-busting, local-lore-hunting novel, this is the book to pick up. It's a great story that pulls you in with likable characters that you want to see succeed. It might not keep you up at night trembling in fear, but it is a great story.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan

I heard of this book from my younger sister, this was her big series after the harry potter books. Its an adventure book with the main focus being on a young boy named Will. Will was always short for a 15 age old, the fact that he never knew his parents made life in Castle Redmont worst. After a big war between King Duncan and Morgarath, children where left without both parents. Arald, Baron of Castle Redmont gave these kids a home and on their 15 chose a job for them to become apprentices. Rangers have always scared Will, with their dark cloaks and shadowy ways. The villagers believe that the Rangers practice magic that makes them invisible to ordinary people. What he didn't know was Rangers are the protectors of the kingdom. Highly trained in the skills of battle and surveillance, they fight the battles before the battles reach the people. Because of the village rumors when Will found he was chosen to be a Rangers apprentice, he first thought this was a punishment. Will soon learned, there is a large battle brewing. The exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, is gathering his forces for an attack on the kingdom. And this time, he will be hard to stop. I really liked this book and I'm reading the rest of the series of Ranger's Apprentice. I would give this book to anyone who likes Harry Potter or Hunger Games.

The BODY in the WOODS by April Henry

Give this to a reluctant reader interested in mysteries.  It is a quick and easy read.  Search and rescue crews out to find an autistic man who had wandered off stumble on a dead body of a young female.  Although they were teens and had no adults with them they had been well trained in both CSI procedures and in search and rescue operations so immediately went into action recording what they had seen along the way and what they saw at the scene.  Adults take over and interview the group together and separately.  They provide trauma counseling as well.  The group cannot stay out of the murder investigation, for the girl had been murdered.  They saw similarities in other recent murders, they investigated the others they had met on the trail that day.  They came to their own conclusions, some correct and some not.  One of their group nearly becomes a victim herself, the local law enforcement personnel weary of their meddling and slow to respond.  The mystery is interesting enough to hold ones attention but it seemed like there was a disconnect between the way the teens talked and their ages, about 16 and with jobs and driver's licenses.  It bothered me.  I kept wondering if Ruby was Asperger's Syndrome for instance.  Except for the murder, not graphically depicted, this book is without any of those worrisome things like sex, violence and language.  The book got excellent reivews but I would put it at mediocre at best.  JDW8/18

we were liars by e lockhart

Three cousins joined by a nephew of one of the adults lived all summer long on an island off Martha's Vineyard, their own island with three huge houses and two beaches, with motor boats, kayaks and cooks and servants.  They never talked about their lives off the island, at school.  They always obeyed their parents. No one had problems, or if they did these were not spoken of. They are the liars. Something changed the summer of fifteen (the year they were fifteen).  It wasn't just that grandmother had passed away the previous winter.  It wasn't just that Cady was madly in love with the nephew and grandfather did not find him acceptable. It wasn't just that the aunts were angry and arguing.  But that was part of what happened.
As the story opens Cady is back on the island the summer of seventeen not having been there the previous summer and not remembering much of what happened that fateful summer of fifteen and suffering horrible migraines.  There is a gleaming new house where once there was an old wooden mansion filled with memorabilia, all of which is gone.  One aunt roams the island all night long.  One of the little cousins has terrible nightmares and the liars meet at one house where slowly Cady's memories return and the awful events of summer fifteen are revealed and Cady recovers from selective amnesia and grieves inconsolably.  The reader remembers along with Cady and is horrified along with her and left a bit breathless in the end.  And perhaps we come to understand just a bit the importance or lack of importance in things, money and what controlling, manipulating others can lead to.  Definitely read this, even if your background isn't that of the incredibly wealthy.  
JDW 8/18

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Graduation Day - Joelle Charbonneau

Cia finds out the truth about The Testing, and realizes the rebellion isn't what she was lead to believe.  She heads to meet with President Collindar. Cia tells the president what she knows about about the rebellion.  The president believes Cia even when she thought the president wouldn't.  President Collindar gives Cia a list of twelve names including, Symon, the rebel leader.  The names include Dr. Barnes, the head of The Testing, and his close associates.  At first Cia thinks the president is going to eliminate the names on the list.  When she tells Cia she wants her to eliminate them, Cia can't fathom it.  The president tells her that she is best one to do this and trust no one, echoing the words her father told her.  As Cia thinks things over she knows she can't do this alone.  As officials search every building on campus for a missing student, Cia makes of list of people she can trust to carry out the mission.  When she runs into Tomas she brings him up to speed on what the president wants her to do.  She knows Tomas is with her, and decides to make up tests for the others.  If they pass then they can be trusted.  She puts a tracking device on Ian's bag, and Stacia is on board from the get go.  They make a fake radio to test Raffe.  If he "listens" to it the radio will explode.  She gives it to Raffe after class telling him not to listen to the recording.  When she meets up with Raffe later Cia shows him the list and he marks five names off.  Those five want The Testing to end as much as they do.  Dr. Barnes, his father, and the others have to die.  He gives back the radio and has passed Cia's test.  Cia, Tomas, Stacia, and Raffe meet at the library to discuss what needs to be done.  When Will and Enzo interrupt their meeting Cia and Raffe go walk around campus to find a good escape point.  When they head back to the dorm there is an explosion and smoke coming from Cia's room.  Inside she finds Enzo covered in burns from the radio.  As officials come to investigate Raffe helps Cia escape.  She heads an abandoned house in Tsou City to wait for Tomas, Stacia, and Raffe.  Will they be able to carry out the assassinations and end The Testing, or will Dr. Barnes and Symon take over the government and continue The Testing?

I have enjoyed this series and I loved how the final book wrapped everything up.  The theme of trust no one has been a constant through out the series.  As Cia finds out no matter what you are given some tasks are to great to do on your own.  You have to trust at least one other person to help you out.  Some that you think can be trusted may betray you, but that's how life is.  Not everyone can be trusted.  If everyone trusted everyone else I think we would have more of an utopian society.  Actions speak louder than words and those actions are what we use to decide who to trust. 


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Through the Woods is a graphic novel made up of five short stories which mostly seem to take place in or around the woods. While these stories won't necessarily keep you up at night, there is definitely a creepy factor to them all.

The graphic novel starts off with the idea of reading in bed in the dark and thinking about what creatures might lurk in the shadows. The first story, "Our Neighbor's House," is about three sisters who are left alone while their father goes hunting. They are given strict instructions to head to their neighbor's house if he doesn't return in three days. When they ignore that direction, a stranger visits and the sisters start to go missing. The second story, "A Lady's Hands are Cold," is about a recently married woman who keeps hearing a strange song coming from different parts of the house. When she finally searches for the source, she makes a startling discovery. Story number three, "His Face All Red," is about a brother who doesn't believe the man in front of him is his brother, especially after what happened to them in the woods. The Fourth story, "My Friend Janna," is about a girl whose best friend used to pretend that she saw ghosts. After a trip to the woods, a strange presence seems to be lingering beside the friend. The final story, "The Nesting Place," is about Mabel's experience with her new sister-in-law and how the monsters her mother used to tell her about might not be stories after all.

The stories in the book are all interesting and a little creepy. Most, if not all of them, leave the ending sort-of open and up for interpretation although still pointed a certain direction. That adds to the eeriness of the story because you're left wondering what's really going on - in a sense, the story will haunt you since it's not neatly wrapped up in a nice bow. I don't think that these stories will give the reader nightmares, but they are certainly twisted. The illustrations add to the suspense of the story.

In the end, if you're looking for a twisted graphic novel with a bit of a creep factor, this is worth picking up. You'll have it read in an hour but the stories will stay with you longer.

Monday, July 21, 2014

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

This is Science Fiction.  It is written in alternating voices of Tarver a career serviceman and war hero and Lilac, overprotected and wealthy daughter of THE CEO of apparently the only planet *terraforming corporation.  And, Tarver being interrogated.
Tarver meets Lilac when his protective senses kick in at a ball on board a spaceship in hyper drive.  A person who did not fit in with the others approaches her.  He rushes to her protection.  She did not need it and eventually brushes him off as beneath her after what he thought was an interesting conversation.  Shortly after the ship begins to quake and shudder and it is clear it is in trouble.  Folks are instructed to go their assigned escape pods and a stampede ensues.  Tarver sees Lilac in trouble once again, grabs her gets to the nearest escape pod and tries to launch.  It is Lilac's knowledge of the technology aboard that allows the damaged craft to launch and eventually land on an unknown planet.  This scene is very like the scene from Titanic.  Its just on a space ship instead.  The pair watch their ship fall apart and fall from the sky onto the planet.  While struggling to survive the pair save each others' lives multiple time.  Tarver has the survival skills and instinct to know what to do nest.  Lilac has tech knowledge and a lot of determination.  She did not want Tarver to see her as helpless.
While the pair assume the planet is terraformed and help is already on the way, there are dangers present not usually included on terraformed planets.  The plants are largely new to Tarver who has been to many planets and on many military campaigns.  And, Lilac is experiencing visions and voices that seem to be real and that eventually affect Tarver as well.  The pair head to the downed spacecraft hoping for survival supplies.  After removing as much as they can before rotting smell sets in and with Tarver severely injured and out of commission for a time they head to what they believe is a building of some type.  And so they explore and survive and seem to be lead in their actions by the voices and visions.  Perhaps there are living beings here trying to communicate.  What happens next is tragic beyond anything I've experienced reading in a while.  Lilac is not who she was at the beginning, and of course neither is Tarver, but he was not changed by the beings with the illusions and voices. Their relationship is a bit of a tragic romance the ending is for you to read. What the illusions and voices are have their own tragedy.  Those beings seem to me to be a nod towards Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles so I would suggest that as a next read for those who enjoy this novel.  They are eventually rescued by a corporate spaceship.  
*Terraforming is transforming a planet into an environment livable by humans.

Dear Zoe by Philip Beard

Here's a book often overlooked at our library that deserves to be read. When Tess's three-year-old half-sister dies tragically the teenager and her mother become deeply depressed from grief. Tess carries a burden of guilt as the result of the accident. Additionally, she already feels out of place in her mother's new family made of Dave, Em and Zoe and her mother. The tragedy makes her feel even more out of place. Tess goes to live with her unreliable father to escape the grief and depression of her family. While there, she tries to write a letter to Zoe explaining her grief, her guilt so she can move on finally. This novel alternates between the present where Tess gets to know and love a neighbor of her father's and her letter to Zoe where the whole story of the tragedy is told. It is a bitter sweet story that may make the reader teary eyed. She comes to a new understanding of her father and of the tragedy. She is able to share with her mother thus helping her as well. In the end, Tess returns to her home with her mother but maintains her relationship with her father and her new boyfriend. Everyone continues to heal and begins to move on with their lives, even Em who was pretty left out of every one's grieving lives even though this six-year-old was grieving too.