Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Far From You by Lisa Schroeder

Lost and alone...down the rabbit hole. Years have passed since Alice lost her mother to cancer, but time hasn't quite healed the wound. Alice copes the best she can by writing her music, losing herself in her love for her boyfriend, and distancing herself from her father and his new wife. But when a deadly snowstorm traps Alice with her stepmother and newborn half sister, she'll face issues she's been avoiding for too long. As Alice looks to the heavens for guidance, she discovers something wonderful. Perhaps she's not so alone after all....
Loved it! I read this book in one sitting, unable to pry away from Lisa Schroeder’s simple, yet elegant writing. It’s amazing how much emotion can be displayed with so little words and with absolutely no “fluff” added. The pages seemed to turn themselves as I got lost in Alice’s struggle and the mounting tension between her and her family. The beautiful language of the tale will stick with you long after it is done. I am very much looking forward to reading Schroeder’s previous work, I Heart You, You Haunt Me. From what I’ve heard, it will be just as refreshing.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Bonechiller by Graham Mcnamee

Danny’s dad takes a job as caretaker at a marina on the shore of a vast, frozen lake in Harvest Cove, a tiny town tucked away in Canada’s Big Empty. If you’re looking for somewhere to hide, this is it. It’s the worst winter in years. One night, running in the dark, Danny is attacked by a creature so strange and terrifying he tries to convince himself he was hallucinating. Then he learns about Native American legends of a monster that’s haunted the lake for a thousand years. And that every generation, in the coldest winters, kids have disappeared into the night. People think they ran away. Danny knows better. Because now the beast is after him.
I had high prospects for Bonechiller, but sadly, it left me out in the cold for the first half. Although I loved the characters and their development was great, the action sequences were riddled with too much description and not enough “oomph”. But I decided to keep going and thankfully, the second half of the book was fast-paced and chilling. So, if you’re willing to drudge through pages upon pages of icy, sludgy, chilly descriptions of Canada, then you’re in for a treat when you reach halfway! Give it a try, maybe it’ll rub you a better way.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Grief Girl by Erin Vincent

It’s just another October day until Erin Vincent’s parents are hit by a speeding tow truck. Mom dies instantly. Dad dies one month later after doctors assure Erin that he’s going to make it. Erin and her teenaged sister, Tracy, are left to raise their baby brother, Trent—and each other. Their beloved uncles blow what little money they had, family “friends” disappoint, kids at school are jealous, and their grandparents threaten to take Trent away from them. This is Erin’s story.
“This is a gripping memoir of the aftermath of their deaths. Although her loss took place more than 20 years ago in Australia, her use of the present tense and a wholly authentic adolescent voice lend her retelling palpable immediacy. Gritty language, a swift pace, and glimpses of humor amid tragedy make this a page-turner. The author captivatingly portrays her journey through the stages of grief, which she aptly points out take place in no discernible order. Perhaps most poignant is the heartbreaking post-funeral abandonment of her and her siblings by adult friends and relatives. Teens will sympathize with her 18-year-old sister's anger at the crushing responsibility of parenting her younger siblings. At the same time, the author's own feelings of rejection, abandonment, and self-blame will resonate with many readers. Recommend this book to those who have experienced loss, or want to understand what a friend might be going through, as well as to teens looking for an absorbing read” (review by Rebecca M. Jones). A quick, powerful read, Grief Girl should not be missed.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you are all having a great day celebrating the birth of our Savior. I just got back from my grandma's and she got me the best present ever: a stack of BOOKS!
These books are:

Bog Child-Siobhan Dowd
Set in Stone-Linda Newbery
The Knife of Never Letting Go-Patrick Ness
The Explosionist-Jenny Davidson
Creepers-Joanne Dahme
Vidalia in Paris-Sasha Watson
Bonechiller-Graham Mcnamee
Tender Morsels-Margo Lanagan
Grief Girl-Erin Vincent
I Never Promised You a Rose Garden-Joanne Greenberg

I'm so excited to read and review these-now I just need to decide which one to start with!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb

Someone was looking at me, a disturbing sensation if you’re dead. In the class of the high school English teacher she has been haunting, Helen feels them: For the first time in 130 years, human eyes are looking at her. They belong to a boy, a boy who has not seemed remarkable until now. And Helen—terrified but intrigued—is drawn to him. The fact that he is in a body and she is not presents this unlikely couple with their first challenge. But as the lovers struggle to find a way to be together, they begin to discover the secrets of their former lives and of the young people they come to possess.
Once again, an encore reading of one of my favorite books in the world. This book should get an award for best first sentence of a novel. The moment I read it, I was hooked. Laura Whitcomb’s tale of ghosts is unlike any I’ve ever read-and is by far the best. Richie Partington stated it perfectly when he said, “Alternating between sensual, gritty, dark, delightful, and frightening; between atmospheric fantasy and down-and dirty contemporary YA realism, A Certain Slant of Light is absolutely awash in literary quality and an award winner waiting to happen.” The characters of the ghosts James and Helen, and the teenagers they possess, Billy and Jenny, are ripe and overflowing with merit. I cannot wait for Whitcomb’s next novel, The Fetch, arriving February 2nd 2009. I am certain it will be just as amazing as her debut, A Certain Slant of Light.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Oblivion Road by Alex MacAulay

This is actually the second time I’ve read this book, but I decided to pull it off the shelves again because the weather here in good old Chicago land is pretty similar to the setting of Alex MacAulay’s third book.
Courtney Stanton thinks she's on just another ski trip with her friends -- until a horrific car accident strands them all on an isolated Colorado road during a blizzard. Frightened but alive, Courtney and her companions discover an abandoned vehicle nearby, and seek help. But the vehicle turns out to be a prison van, with the inmates missing, and the guard's dead body in the front seat. Soon after, a stumbling figure emerges from the snow, a handcuffed refugee from the van. He says he's been in prison for selling meth, but that he once served in the army. Dare they trust him? He pleads innocence about the guard's murder, warns them about the other fugitives, and promises he will help guide them out of the wilderness. But as the group begins a nightmare trek across the frozen landscape, they start to get the feeling he hasn't told them the entire truth, and someone -- or something -- is secretly watching their every move.

Survival stories have always been a favorite of mine, so I was so glad when I discovered MacAulay’s writing and his specialty of being stranded and having to survive. The suspense and non-stop action keep you on the edge of your seat. Although the writing can seem a bit amateurish at times, the ingenious plot and suspense make up for it. I could feel the characters pain as they battled dehydration, hypothermia, hungry wolves, and convicted killers. Overall, Oblivion Road is another hit from MacAulay, and a great read for those cold winter days. So grab a warm blanket and some hot chocolate and be thankful you’re safe and sound in your house while reading this book!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Since I've got some major Christmas wrapping to do, I'm going to turn the review of this marvelous book over to Judy Lind, whose review of Amazon exemplifies everything I would want to say.
"The Road is a work of stunning, savage, heartbreaking beauty. Set in the post-apocalyptic hell of an unending nuclear winter, Cormac McCarthy writes about a nameless man and his young son, wandering through a world gone crazy; bleak, cold, dark, where the snow falls down gray; moving south toward the coast, looking somewhere, anywhere, for life and warmth. Nothing grows in this blasted world; people turn into cannibals to survive. We don't know if we're looking at the aftermath of a nuclear war, or maybe an extinction level event -- an asteroid or a comet; McCarthy deliberately doesn't tell us, and we come to realize it doesn't matter anyway. Whether man or nature threw a wild pitch, the world is just as dead. The man and his son are "each the other's world entire"; they have only each other, they live for each other, and their intense love for each other will help them survive. At least for a while. But survival in this brave new world is a dicey prospect at best; the boy and the man are subjected to sights no one should ever have to see. Every day is a scavenger hunt for food and shelter and safety from the "bad guys", the marauding gangs who enslave the weak and resort to cannibalism for lack of any other food. We are the good guys, the man assures his son. Yet in their rare encounters with other living human beings, the man resorts to primitive survivalism, refusing help to a lost child and a starving man, living only for himself and his son, who is trying to hold onto whatever humanity he has left. It's in these chance encounters with other people, even more than their interaction with each other, that we see them for who they really are. The boy is a radiantly sweet child, caring, unselfish, wanting and needing to reach out to others, even though this bleak, blasted world is the only environment he's ever known; the father, more cautious, more bitter, has let the devastation enwrap him until all he cares about is himself and his son. And to hell with everybody else. Their journey to the coast is an unending nightmare through the depths of hell and the only thing that holds them together is their love for each other. When one is ready to give up, the other refuses to let him. I won't let you go into the darkness alone, the man reassures his son. But ultimately, as the boy finds out, everyone is on his own, and all you can do is keep on keeping on. McCarthy has proven himself a master of minimalism; with a style as bleak as the stripped terrain the man and the boy travel through, but each sentence polished as a gem, he takes us into the harsh reality of a dying world. The past is gone, dead as the landscape all around them, and the present is the only reality. There is no later, McCarthy says. This is later. Deep down the man knows there is nothing better to hope for down the road, even though he keeps them both slogging down it, only to keep his son alive. And we keep slogging down that road with them, hoping against hope that around the next corner or five miles down the line, maybe there is something, anything, to make survival worth while. Living in such a hell, why would anyone want to survive? The mother made her decision; she checked out long ago. We come to the end of this book totally drained, enervated, devastated, but curiously uplifted. Because as long as there is love, McCarthy tells us, maybe there is something to live for, and as the book shows us at the end, maybe there is a even little bit of hope."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Change of Pace

Hey everyone, just wanted to say that although my Currently Reading pic has been Peeps for the last few days, I am actually moving on to something else. I rarely stop reading a book halfway through and not finish it, but sadly, Peeps is just not delivering for me at the moment. The concept of vampirism as a result of an STD was interesting, but the evolution tie-in didn't bode well with me and the plot didn't have enough action. So, for the past few days I've been reading some of Stephen Kings short stories including The Mist (read now, it's awesome!) and The Raft (disturbing and strange, but good). Now, I have decided to read The Road by Cormac McCarthy in time for the 2009 movie starring Viggo Mortenson. That's it, happy reading!
P.S. I probably won't be posting for a while since I've got finals next week and will be crazily cramming!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Identical by Ellen Hopkins

Do twins begin in the womb? Or in a better place? Kaeleigh and Raeanne are identical down to the dimple. As daughters of a district-court judge father and a politician mother, they are an all-American family -- on the surface. Behind the facade each sister has her own dark secret, and that's where their differences begin. For Kaeleigh, she's the misplaced focus of Daddy's love, intended for a mother whose presence on the campaign trail means absence at home. All that Raeanne sees is Daddy playing a game of favorites -- and she is losing. If she has to lose, she will do it on her own terms, so she chooses drugs, alcohol, and sex. Secrets like the ones the twins are harboring are not meant to be kept -- from each other or anyone else. Pretty soon it's obvious that neither sister can handle it alone, and one sister must step up to save the other, but the question is -- who?
This is the first book I’ve read that was written in verse, and it definitely won’t be my last! Identical was a stunning, gorgeously executed piece of art. An Amazon reviewer stated, “The way she creates her little character paradigms - the writing that says more that it first seems to say, the way words arrange to make a maze of meanings, her displays that land somewhere other than the other side of rainbows - are fabulous” and I couldn’t agree more. This disturbing tale is woven with heart-wrenching images of sexual abuse, drug abuse, and eating disorders. This book opened my eyes to what can be happening behind closed doors. I sincerely recommend it to all. Brava, Ellen Hopkins!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I Love Your Blog Award!

This is so cool! I just received the I Love Your Blog Award from Amanda at That Teen Can Blog! (http://thatteencanblog.blogspot.com/). I am so grateful to Amanda for getting this award and am glad that my reviews are a hit!

I am going to nominate:
-WORD for Teens
-The Book Muncher
-And Another Book Read
-Hope's Bookshelf
-The Story Siren
-Reader Rabbit
-Reading Keeps You Sane
*you'll find the links to these blogs under Favorite Book Blogs and Websites on the right

Now, all you gotta do is follow these instructions:
After receiving the award you are supposed to pay it forward:
1) Add the logo of your award to your blog.
2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4) Add links to those blogs on your blog.
5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs.

Thanks All! This makes my day :)