Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Jacob, now a 90 or 93-year old man (he can't rightly remember) recounts his life in the circus as a vet. He talks about life on the train, stopping and starting unexpectedly, and the elephant they acquire that requires the working men to go without their wages. The politics and attitudes of each of the circus riff-raff Jacob comes into contact with are vividly portrayed on every page. There is drama, a love story, adventure, and danger at every turn.

Water For Elephants is a well-researched fictional piece of work. Gruen has pulled events which actually happened in circuses around the country, especially during the 20s and 30s. The pictures included at the beginning of each chapter help illustrate the story being told, and the chapters that alternate between Jacob's present and past are great opposites. A fascinating read.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Book of a Thousand Days, by Shannon Hale

Dashti is a mucker who has had a hard life. Her father gone, her brothers abandoned her and her mother, shortly before her own mother passed away. Dashti must now learn how to fend for herself. As she heads into town, she sells her possessions to gain employment, and learns how to be a lady's maid.

But on the day she is to enter Lady Saren's service, something awful happens. Lady Saren's father is very displeased at Saren's refusal to marry Lord Khasar, and locks her in a tower for seven years--Dashti along with her. As three of those years pass, Dashti decides no one will save them, and they must do it themselves. With her determination, she is sure they will survive.

This story is based on Maid Maleen, a fairy tale recorded by the Grimm brothers. There are elements of fantasy at play, but the majority of the story is about a girl's determination to overcome circumstances out of her control. The beginning is slow and not well developed, but the rest of the story is worth the beginning.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

I know most of us have had thoughts of suicide at one time or another. Do you know anyone who actually went through with it? I hope not.

Clay, however, does. The girl he had a crush on for quite a while committed suicide, and two weeks later, he receives a package of tapes on his porch. He puts the first one in, only to hear Hannah's voice telling him that he has seven tapes--13 sides--of reasons why she killed herself. Each side is a reason, and each side is devoted to one person. Clay listens to each tape as he slowly follows Hannah's last thoughts to completion.

This is told in Clay and Hannah's voices, alternating. Unlike other alternating voice books, however, this book has both characters speaking throughout the novel. The story is very powerful.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Prom Nights From Hell, various authors

Prom Nights From Hell tells 5 stories of different prom nights. "The Exterminator's Daughter" by Meg Cabot; "The Corsage" by Lauren Myracle; "Madison Avery and the Dim Reaper" by Kim Harrison; "Kiss and Tell" by Michele Jaffe; and "Hell on Earth" by Stephenie Meyer.

Each story has its own sense of paranormal, and romance along with it (it is Prom afterall!). There are bad guys, good guys, a battle, and a little attraction thrown for the mix. Each story is different but well written.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Deadline, by Chris Crutcher

About to be a senior in high school, Ben Wolf has a serious problem on his hands. His sports physical has come back, with extremely bad news. He only has one year left of his life.

Ben is torn between telling everyone in his life, or leaving it a secret until he can't anymore. But he's determined to make his last year the best one he's ever lived. That includes going out for the football team. Hitting on the best-looking girl in school. Antagonizing the government teacher. No matter what, Ben must face what will come. No matter what.

If you only read one book this year, make sure it's Deadline. This book will have you thinking about what you might do if you only had one year left. And what you might change.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Vampire Kisses, by Ellen Schreiber

Raven has always wanted to be a vampire. When asked as a child what she wanted to be when she grew up, her answer was a vampire. That made her an outcast in her small town. Then a new family moves into the house at the top of the hill in her very boring town, and all of a sudden, the town doesn't seem all that boring.

Raven is immediately drawn to Alexander, the son of the very odd family which moved into the old house. But is he just a strange young man, or a vampire? Raven can't decide, and neither can the town.

This is the first book in a two part sequence. Raven is a believable character, and the story is told from her point of view. Especially if you ever wonder if someone you know could be a vampire...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You by Ally Carter

This is the amusing tale of Cammie, a 15-year old girl who meets a guy she really likes. The problem? She is a spy-in-training and he can never find out. Plus, if the school learned about Josh, she'd be in big trouble, nevermind her mother being the headmistress and Cammie and her friends sneaking out to learn more things about Josh in the first place.

So Cammie begins the biggest covert operation of her life--but first she has to figure out how to act like a normal teenager.

A great first novel--love attacks everyone. And Cammie and her friends are hilarious trying to figure out what kinds of things Josh likes and trying to do their homework in the meantime.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Midnight Predator by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Turquoise Draka is a vampire hunter who is extremely good at her job. Her next mission is to infiltrate the ancient vampire sanctuary, Midnight, and kill the vampire in charge, Jeshikah. In order to fulfill her mission, she's going to have to pretend to be a human slave.

Determined to be the one who kills Jeshikah, Turquoise accepts the assignment, only to find Jaguar is the vampire in charge. And there's something a little strange about him. He figures out who she is, but lets her continue her mission.

Now the only thing standing in Turquoise's way are the memories of being an actual human slave, and the possibility her former master is in house and able to recognize her.

Like the other Den of Shadows books, this one is fast, action-packed, and exciting.

Shattered Mirror by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Sarah Vida comes from a long line of vampire hunters. Hunting a vampire by the name of Nikolas, who killed one of her relatives, she approaches a house party on her own--and survives. Barely.

In school the next week, she gets the shock of her life--Christopher and Nissa are both vampires and want to be her friends. Guilty at deceiving them, she confesses the truth, but has to face the consequences and her feelings. What she feels for Christopher forces her family to reject her and she's left wondering what will become of her.

Vampire hunting is popular--and Atwater-Rhodes pulls it off. Again the story is fast-paced and quick to read. Very enjoyable.

Demon in My View by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Jessica Allodola has an interesting hobby--she writes novels about vampires. Her favorite vampire--Aubrey--is often on her mind while she's at school, until she thinks she sees him.

Forced to confront a past she doesn't remember, she soon realizes what she writes about is real--and part of her repressed memories. The vampires she writes about, though, aren't happy with having their world revealed and are trying to silence her for good.

Aubrey is the only one standing in their way. Can and should she trust him? Will she have to become a full vampire to survive?

Again, short, action-packed, and enjoyable.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

In the Forests of the Night by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Risika is a vampire who was changed by another named Ather, in front of her twin brother and Aubrey, whom she believes killed her brother. She stalks Aubrey in a deliberate game of cat and mouse while determining whether she has the strength to defeat him.

During one of their battles, however, Risika discovers her brother wasn't killed that night--he was already a vampire. What should she do now, when the reason for her revenge has disappeared?

Short and action-packed, I enjoyed reading about Risika and her fight for justice.

Getting to Third Date by Kelly McClymer

Katelyn has a secret everyone on campus is dying to find out. She is the mysterious Mother Hubbard--the advice columnist for the school newspaper. Her advice is no-nonsense, but angers many students for being too unforgiving.

So now Katelyn, a.k.a. Mother Hubbard, must break her own two-date rule, and give the men in her life another chance. Could she be wrong about their potential? Can she possibly find Mr. Right in a sea of Mr. Wrongs?

A cute romance about not giving up on people too soon. The characters are touching and amusing.

The Other Side of the Dark by Joan Lowery Nixon

Stacy wakes up after being in a coma for four years--since the night her mother was murdered and Stacy was shot. Coping with the time difference is one thing--her body matured, songs, fashions, and everyone in her life have changed.

What's worse--the man who shot Stacy killed her mother and Stacy saw him. She just can't remember his face. She wants to make him pay, but will remembering once again put her life in danger?

A mystery and a thriller. Stacy tries to adapt to the world that changed without her, but it's hard. This book was published a while ago, so it's dated, but still one of my favorites.