Saturday, January 23, 2010

Need by Carrie Jones

Zara has been sent to Maine after her stepdad died. Zara sees it as punishment, but she was sent up to Maine to save her life and for a change of scenery.

Zara however, feels stalked. A guy she saw at the airport in Charleston is now appearing in Maine, and she thinks she can hear him calling her name from the surrounding woods. Her new friends, Devyn, Issie, and Nick are all sure there are pixies--blood-thirsty pixies--nearby and they want Zara to be their new queen. Zara's not sure who to trust or what to believe as everyone around her seems to be hiding something. One thing she is sure of--her stepfather knew what was going on, but he can't help her now.

I really enjoyed this book. I am a big fan of supernatural anyway, but taking a twist on pixies is a new one! Zara is a great character to follow along with, and I can't wait to read Captivate, the sequel to Need.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson appears to be an unremarkable boy who's only strike against him seems to be getting into trouble and getting kicked out of boarding school each year. His class visits the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the exhibit of Greek and Roman art and Percy can't believe it when his teacher attacks him. When it's all over, no one ever remembers there being a Mrs. Dodds.

Percy's mom decides it's time to send him to the camp his father has always wanted him to attend. Percy appears at the boundary of Camp Half-Blood after watching his mom die and killing a Minotaur. The camp is filled with demi-gods or half-bloods--children of the gods. Before Percy knows it, he's sent on a quest to recover Zeus' lightning bolt--which the gods think he stole.

A great first book in a series. The characters are pretty well-developed, and there's plenty of background to inform anyone who doesn't know their Greek mythology very well. All of the Olympians come into play in one way or another, and Percy's adventures as he crosses the country in 10 days are amusing. Lots of action and adventure to support his quest. I can't wait to read Sea of Monsters, book 2 of Percy Jackson and the Olympians!

Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan

It all started with a picture taken for photography class.

The picture Blake takes of a homeless woman sleeping on the street changes Marissa's whole life. The woman in the picture is her mom, a meth-addict who's been missing for the past year. Marissa starts combing the streets looking for her, and Blake feels responsible. Marissa swears him to secrecy, so Blake can't tell Shannon, his girlfriend, why he and Marissa are spending so much time together.

When Marissa's mom disappears and a dead woman is found in the morgue, Marissa and Blake fear the worst.

There is a lot of humor in this novel to counterbalance the bleak circumstances of Marissa's home life. The ending isn't happy or sad, it's an ending. The characters and story feel real and lifelike. A great book for the story it tells.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Columbine by Dave Cullen

I'm not a big non-fiction reader, but I decided to pick up Columbine after reading an interview of the author by Patrick Jones in VOYA (Voices of Youth Advocates) this past December.

I couldn't have had better guide. I was a senior in high school when the school shooting at Columbine happened--and much like everyone else--I bought into the myths and rumors about the whole situation. I remember not wanting to turn on the news because of what they might be saying, and I definitely was not impressed when we had a bomb threat called in to our school just a couple weeks later. We were not allowed to carry backpacks or our coats around.

Reading Columbine opened my eyes to the events that took place that fateful day and a few reasons why--there were none. I can't even express how I felt about this book adequately--maybe it's easier to say it's worth the read. I read it in two days--it would have been one day had I not had to sleep or work.

It's a work delving into the psyche of two boys without drowning in their reasons, and we skim the surface of tragedy. This is not a light-hearted work by any means, but Cullen creates a story that relays facts and emotions without bombarding you with them. A fantastic book. I highly recommend anyone pick it up.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Once Dead, Twice Shy by Kim Harrison

Madison is dead, but not. She was killed by a dark reaper, but when he killed her, she took the amulet that gave him power. That amulet gives her a body. The light reaper who was suppose to protect her got there too late, so his punishment is to train her how to use the amulet.

And the training is not going well. Madison is recognized by another dark reaper and Barabas (her light reaper) must figure out what's going on. Madison isn't going to wait for him, though. While he's asking the powers that be, she's become a target for the dark reapers. She has to learn how to save herself and those she cares about.

An interesting twist on the fallen angel idea. Lots of excitement, little to no romance, and lots of humor. The amount of people in the book can be daunting, but still makes sense.

The Miles Between by Mary Pearson

Destiny has been at Hedgebrook longer than any other boarding school. Her parents shipped her off beginning when she was seven. She knows better than to get attached. Whenever she starts to get attached to a place, she's shipped to another school.

October 19th comes around--a bad day in Des' mind. It's the day she was abandoned, and her and her mom's birthday, all rolled into one. So when she finds a car, engine running, door open, and a stranger asking her what she wants, she decides to seize the opportunity. She grabs Seth, Mira, and Aidan and they begin a road trip that will be the greatest trip of their lives.

A well-written story with many twists and turns. Some things seem a little far-fetched, but the story works well together and it makes you believe that all things are possible.

Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz

Schuyler is a sophomore at Duchesne, a prestigious private high school in New York City. Although her family built half of the city, she doesn't really fit with anyone at school, other than Oliver and Dylan.

Then a girl from their school is found dead, the most popular guy (Jack Force) starts to notice her, and she is told some of the truth about her family and the other people at school.

Schuyler is a blue blood--a vampire. But not a typical vampire--her mother had an affair with a human (Red Blood) and gave birth to a half-vampire, half-human.

To top it off, something is out killing Blue Bloods--something they're told can never happen. And Schuyler has managed to attract that something's attention.

This is the first book in the Blue Bloods series, and it has everything. Action, intrigue, romance, and secrets.

Hamlet by John Marsden

Hamlet, the prince of Denmark, just lost his father. His boyhood friend, Horatio, tries to get Hamlet to open up about his grieving. One night, Horatio wakes Hamlet to tell him about the ghost he's seen--of Hamlet's father. The ghost charges Hamlet with avenge his murder.

Hamlet bids his time, trying to decide if what he saw was real. As he believes the ghost was real, his demeanor also changes. His stepfather--his uncle--and the new king decides to get rid of Hamlet before the situation gets any worse. Hamlet gets his revenge, but manages to kill the entire family in the process.

Marsden reworks Hamlet and tries to make it more modern. it works in the beginning of the story, but as it moves to the conclusion--there isn't time. It's an excellent retelling of Shakespeare's tale.

Fallen by Lauren Kate

Luce is being sent to reform school, after the mysterious death of a boy she liked. Luce's parents send her to Sword & Cross school, a rundown school near home.

The school is nothing like Luce is use to--the campus includes a cemetery and a staff that expects nothing but the worst from the students. Luce struggles to fit in, becoming friends with the strange Arriane and Penn. She finds herself drawn to both Daniel and Cam. Cam returns her interest, but Daniel can't seem to decide if he likes her or hates her.

Luce deals with the reality of school and her infatuation with both Daniel and Cam while keeping her own secrets--she can see shadows. The longer she's at Sword & Cross the more they appear, and it seems Daniel can see them as well. Luce can't get over the idea that she knows Daniel from somewhere, and she wants to know what's going on and what the shadows really are.

This book is the first in a series. The action in the book really picks up in the last third, while the rest of the story is busy setting up background and character development. It's a little bulky, but hopefully the next book explains more about what was left out of this book.

Troy High by Shana Norris

Cassie goes to Troy High, but is friends with Greg, who goes to Lacede High. The two schools are intense rivals just as their Greek mythology roots--the Trojans (Troy High) and Spartans (Lacede High).

Tensions run higher this year when the district lines are redrawn and some students who attended Lacede now have to go to Troy, including Elena, Greg's brother's girlfriend. Elena soon falls for Paris, Cassie's older brother and dumps Lucas. Everything gets more complicated for Cassie as she and Greg are pulled into the feud.

This is a light-hearted chick-lit book with many action points. I found a lot of amusement out of the book because the author attempts to retell the Illiad. She does a fabulous job with the story--it's amusing to see how she does it. Even if you aren't familiar with Homer's tale, you'll still enjoy reading about the school rivalry.

Ruined by Paula Morris

Rebecca Brown is going to New Orleans for the year--while her dad goes to China. What a girl from New York will do in New Orleans, Rebecca doesn't know. It isn't what she expected either. For one, as an outsider, no one wants to talk to her besides her 'cousin' at school. She's attending an all-girl school for another. And she meets a ghost in the cemetery across the street from her aunt's house.

But Rebecca's life is getting a little more complicated every day. A boy on her street seems to like her, but he's got an agenda. Lisette, the ghost, has a darker side Rebecca isn't sure she wants to know about. And Rebecca learns there are skeletons in her own family that are about to change or end her life.

Well-written and engrossing. The scenes in New Orleans are well-developed and vivid. The ending is foreshadowed throughout the book--but I was so distracted by what was going on, I didn't put things together until almost the end.

The Hunting: Z. Rex by Steve Cole

Adam and his dad are working on a new virtual reality video game. In order to find new funding, Adam's dad leaves for a few days in order to find another job. But he doesn't come back and Adam is worried.

Adam wonders what is going on--and then his building is attacked by a living, breathing dinosaur. Not sure what to think, Adam runs from the dinosaur and from the men who are hunting him and it. But the dinosaur, Zed, is determined to get him. And Zed is incredibly smart.

Adam and Zed head across the Atlantic--Zed can also fly--to find Adam's dad and look for help. Not sure who to trust, Adam takes a chance and puts them all in danger.

A definite sci-fi novel. Lots of action and danger to go around. Some things might make suspending disbelief hard, but things fall into place to make a great novel with lots of promise for the next in the series.

Night Runner by Max Turner

Zack lives in a mental ward--but he isn't insane. He's allergic to the sun, food, and a few other things that just makes life more difficult. His parents are dead and Zack enjoys his freedoms--the ones he gets.

Then an old man crashes into the ward and tells Zack his life is in danger. The nurse--Nurse Ophelia--who has taken care of him his whole life disappears and an unknown man appears with the police looking for him. Zack doesn't know what's going on, but he's determined to get to the bottom of it all without being captured. Despite who is after him.

Lots of action and storyline. This is the first in a series, and I can't wait for the sequel. Zack is a great character.

Spanking Shakespeare by Jake Wizner

Shakespeare has always gotten attention for his very unusual name. The attention he wants, though, he doesn't really get. He's a senior in high school and never kissed a girl, let alone anything else. It's what fills hist thoughts most days.

When Celeste, a girl from English, appears to take an interest in him, Shakespeare is thrilled. He imagines all sorts of ways he'll finally get laid, only to have none of them happen. He starts to notice Charlotte and finds he wants to know more about her.

This is written as Shakespeare's memoir. There is a lot of humor, especially in dealing with his family and you really have to wonder if he believes some of the things he says. Gives you a glimpse in the mind of a horny 17-year-old. Funny, smart, and definitely for an older crowd.