Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

Robert Langdon is once again on the hunt and being hunted. This time, his friend Peter Solomon has been kidnapped and tortured to reveal his deepest secrets. His sister, Katherine, is also in danger, although she has no idea of what's going on. The clues to Peter's location and what the kidnapper is looking for lead Robert and Katherine across Washington D.C. with the CIA hot on their tail. Many twists, turns, and reversals pack the newest of Robert Langdon's adventures.

The Lost Symbol is full of the same stuff that made The Da Vinci Code a huge hit. There is plenty of history, conspiracy theories, symbolism, action, suspense, and science to keep anyone reading. The book was a little longer than it probably had to be, but that's to be expected. While the ending wasn't a total surprise, getting there was just as interesting and captivating as you would expect.

I may have had a few problems with the plethora of "?!" in the text, but other than that, I found The Lost Symbol another great story.

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Nora isn't happy to have Patch for a lab partner in Biology, but their teacher won't be persuaded. Since they're lab partners, they spend more time together and Nora can't help some of the attraction she feels. Not only do they have to work on their lab projects, but Patch seems to show up in a variety of places or convinces Nora to meet him.

Nora has more problems then her growing attraction to Patch. She's managed to evade death too many times for her comfort and she wants to know his role. Patch knows she'll never believe he's a fallen angel, and his hands aren't completely clean when it comes to her near-death experiences.

Nora and Patch have an interesting relationship. This is a great supernatural romance. Patch's struggles to choose between what he should do and what he wants, while Nora struggles to keep herself alive. The storyline is plausible and well-written.

Fire by Kristin Cashore

In the Dells, a kingdom is on the brink of civil war. King Nash inherited his father's mess--his father's only aim to please his close friend Cansrel, a human monster who could control thoughts and lived to see others suffer.

Cansrel's daughter, Fire, shares his abilities, but not his taste for suffering. She has hidden away her entire life to avoid controlling people, invading their thoughts, and being hunted. But the King calls on her to help avoid losing his kingdom, and she can't refuse the chance to undo the terror her father thrived on.

Just as fascinating as Graceling, Fire involves drama, action, adventure, and romance. There are many elements at play here, and it seems Fire is the focus in most of them, just as Katsa was. Her bravery and courage turn out to be her greatest assets.

Monday, October 12, 2009

After by Amy Efaw

This story is graphic and heart-wrenching.

Devon stays home from school one day, laying on the couch and barely aware of what's going on around her. Her mother comes home from her graveyard shift, bubbly and talking constantly. The police are all over their neighborhood--someone found a baby in the dumpster behind their building. When the police show up at their door, Devon's mother lets them in so they can ask Devon if she's seen anything. Instead, they arrest her.

Devon doesn't really remember giving birth, or throwing the baby into the garbage. As she sits in juvenile detention, waiting for her hearing, she begins to recall the events that she's tried to block out. Did she intend to throw away the baby? Does she really know what happened THAT NIGHT?

Reading this book took some time. As much as you don't want to like Devon for what she did, it's impossible to hate her. The narrator takes you through all that goes through Devon's mind during the labor and birth, but only as Devon finally recalls and accepts what's happened. The author's note at the end explains why she chose to write a novel in the way that she did. And it worked. A fantastic first book, but not for the faint of heart.

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

Calli's life is both good and bad. When her father is gone, it's great. She plays with Ben (her brother), her mother Antonia, and her best friend Peeta. When her father is home, life is full of fear. And Calli hasn't spoken in four years, since her mother fell down the stairs and lost her baby.

Peeta understands Calli without speech. They have a fast and steady friendship, looking out for each other. So when they are both found missing one morning, their parents assume they're together, out playing in the woods. The girls, however, seemed to have taken off in their pajamas, Calli without shoes, and both without telling anyone. Soon, everyone is desperate to find these two young girls.

This story takes place over one fateful and eventful day. It is told from the view point of Antonia, Martin (Peeta's father), Ben, Louis (Deputy Sheriff and friend of Antonia's), Calli, and occasionally, Peeta.

Well-written, a story of secrets, violence, fear, hope, and above all, family. I couldn't put it down.

Never Cry Werewolf by Heather Davis

Shelby has a love/hate relationship with the moon. She gets into the best kinds of trouble--boys--at night. She has the best intentions, but that doesn't seem to matter.

So she gets shipped off to therapy camp for the summer. The camp is suppose to "help" her, but also gets her out of her stepmom's hair. So, Shelby heads off to Camp Crescent, instead of the boot camp her stepmom suggests.

At Camp Crescent, Shelby really tries to be good. But she meets Austin. And Austin needs help, before the full moon. Shelby has to weigh being good, and helping a friend that really needs it.

A good romance. Not too heavy, but a good werewolf story too. Definitely a story about Shelby, and how you should accept the consequences, even if your intentions are good. The adults in the story weren't believable at times, but that's easily overlooked.

Ash by Malinda Lo

Aisling, Ash for short, lives in a small kingdom near a great forest. It is told there are fairies that live deep in the woods, and Aisling has heard stories about them her entire life. The old ways include revering and fearing the fairies, and her mother believed and lived by the old ways, while her father did not. When Ash's mother dies, Ash spends too much time with the grave, visiting her mother.

Ash's world is torn apart again after her father remarries and then dies. Ash moves to her stepmother's house and becomes their servant, supposedly because her father left them with debt. When she escapes to the woods to get away from her awful step-family, she meets Sidhean, whom she is convinced is a fairy. She also meets Keira, the King's Huntress. As she spends more time with each, she is torn between her attraction to Keira and her desire to go with Sidhean and see her mother again.

This is a retelling of the Cinderella story with a very different outcome. Ash is a great character and her story is well-told and engrossing. The ending seems a little too neat, considering the build-up to what fairies expect in return for their favors. Still, a great twist to an old favorite.