Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr

In this sequel to Wicked Lovely, Marr brings back the main characters Aislynn, Seth, and Keenan, but only as minor characters.

The past year of Leslie's life has been terrible. Her mother ran out on her family, her dad drowns in a bottle of alcohol everyday, and her brother Ren hops from one drug to another, searching for the next high. The family is crumbling, and Leslie is the only one that strives for responsibility--she pays the bills with her waitressing job, and can't wait to graduate from high school and move to college.

The only thing Leslie looks forward to is the tattoo she hopes to get and the marking it will giver her body that it is hers--and hers alone.

What she doesn't know is the tattoo has its own way of making her body a prisoner.

Another fantastic novel by an accomplished author.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Up All Night

Up All Night is an anthology of work from some of today's best authors. The stories all cover different topics and characters, but they all revolve around the characters discovering something about themselves or the world around them--late at night.

Peter Abrahams' story "Phase 2" tells the story of a family waiting for their father to return home to begin "Phase 2" of their lives.

Libba Bray's story "Not Just for Breakfast Anymore" is the story of Maggie and her friends, on their way to a concert and Maggie's attempts at hiding her father's secret life.

David Levithan's "The Vulnerable Hours" portrays a wide cast of teens, all at crossroads in their life, and how the hours between midnight and dawn are powerful at revealing strengths and weaknesses.

"Orange Alert" by Patricia McCormick is the first person narrative of a 15-year old girl wanting her driver's license and the freedom being away from an abusive step father and an ignorant mother.

"Superman Is Dead" by Sarah Weeks is a story within a story--the main character is telling his friend the story he wrote for an English project while his mother is gone and he's babysitting his brother. His story reflects his real life--something he would like to be away from.

Gene Luen Yang's "The Motherless One" is a manga depiction of a monkey who learns he has no mother, and the search to find out why.

Ever by Gail Carson Levine

As with Levine's other books, Ever takes a fairytale and turns it on its head.

Kezi is a young girl living with her family. They are a devote family, praying to their god Admat and following his laws. But one day, Kezi's mother becomes sick. Kezi's father, in an attempt to cure his wife, promises to kill the first person who congratulates him on his wife's recovery in a sacrifice to Admat. In their world, an oath is no longer valid after three days, so after Kezi's mother becomes well, the family lives in fear as to who will congratulate her father.

Olus is a young god from another country, fascinated with humans. He has longed for a friend his whole life, but he never imagines he'd fall in love with Kezi. As he watches their life, he becomes more infatuated with her, even daring to introduce himself and save her at one point. When fate intervenes, Olus is determined the two of them can overcome destiny to write their own.

This tale is told in both Kezi and Olus' point of view. Each chapter alternates, but the story is powerful and amusing.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio tells the story of Evelyn Ryan and her family, told by her daughter. The family of 12 never had much in the way of money or possessions, but they had a mother determined to make their life meaningful. Evelyn entered as many contests as she could, writing jingles, rhymes, and poems to bring in money to feed and clothe her growing household. She won large and small contests, sometimes earning $1 for her writing, sometimes trips and cars, all sold to bring money into their simple lifestyle.

Terry Ryan, Evelyn's sixth child, tells the story of their life growing up with an amazing woman--a woman all the children call their hero for everything she did to make their lives happy. Evelyn, as reported by Ryan, took every situation life threw at her in stride, with confidence and optimism that things would work out. Raising 10 children practically on her own, she struggled and sacrificed to keep their house together. This is the true story of one amazing woman's life, and the impact she made on her children and their community.

A fantastic read. The subject matter seems depressing, but the book is written in love and humor. Many laugh-out-loud moments throughout, especially when reading the limericks, jingles, and rhymes Evelyn came up with to win. This non-fiction reads like fiction.