22. July 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Fiction, Mystery, Noelle, Teen Books

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, read by Noelle, on 07/16/2014

Each summer the wealthy, seemingly perfect Sinclair family meets on their private island. Cadence, Johnny, Mirren, and Gat are a unit, especially during “summer 15,” marking their fifteenth year on Beechwood– the summer that Cady and Gat fall in love. Cady became involved in a mysterious accident, in which she sustained a blow to the head, and now suffers from debilitating migraines and memory loss. When she returns to Beechwood during summer 17 issues of guilt and blame, love and truth all come into play.

 

12. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Teen Books

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, read by Angie, on 07/11/2014

Ari is a young man filled with anger and silence. He comes from a family with a father scarred by war, a mother devastated by a son’s actions and a brother who has disappeared from their lives since he went to prison. Ari has no friends and is melancholy. His only desires are for a truck and a dog. He likes to run and workout, both solitary activities. It all changes when he meets Dante. Dante is vibrant and chatty. He likes to draw and read poetry. He asks hard questions and truly wants to know the answers. Ari and Dante become best friends. Dante brings Ari out of his shell and gets him to talk and makes him realize it is ok for boys to cry. They are there for each other even when Dante moves to Chicago for a year. Their friendship holds up even when Dante confesses he would rather kiss boys than girls and would really like to kiss Ari. Ari cares so much for Dante that he saves his life and goes after a boy who hurt Dante. However, Ari is still conflicted and angry even if he doesn’t know what he is angry about. 

I thought this story was wonderful. I loved the friendship of Ari and Dante and the fact that Dante being gay really had no affect on it. Ari accepts Dante for who he is and who he loves. They are friends no matter what. I also loved the parents in this book, which is something I don’t often say. I thought both Ari and Dante’s parents were some of the best. The relationships were realistic and touching. I also really enjoyed the dialogue of this book. It is snappy and relevant and reminded me of the dialogue on some of my favorite tv shows. This is a great story about acceptance, both of others and yourself. It is a love story, a story about families, a story about self-awareness and a story about growing up into who you are meant to be. 

07. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Teen Books

This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready, read by Courtney, on 06/19/2014

David and Mara used to have a fairly ordinary life. Then, their older brother joined the armed forces and was killed. Now, the family is a complete mess. Over the course of their grieving, David’s parents first turn to the Evangelical Church for answers. It helps, to an extent. David is “saved” and his parents start to come out of their depression. David and Mara are taken out of the public schools and put into a religious homeschooling group. Over time, the church ceases to be enough for David’s parents and they find solace in a group that believes in the end of the world. Instead of calling it the “Rapture”, this new group calls it the “Rush” and claim to know exactly when it’s going to happen. David and his sister are dubious, but their parents appear completely convinced. As the date for the “Rush” draws nearer, David’s father becomes increasingly unhinged, speaking only in Bible verses. In the forty days before the “Rush”, David and his sister are asked to give up everything worldly to prepare for their salvation. Aside from not really believing that the end of the world is coming, David has some other problems with this situation. He’s a baseball star with college scouts following his every pitch. He’s got a girlfriend that he’s absolutely crazy about. In other words, he really doesn’t want to give up his entire life.
When the book opens, it is the night of the “Rush” and David and Mara have missed it. Instead of being at home with their parents on the night that they are supposed to be taken to Heaven, David and Mara have gone to an after-prom party and missed the deadline. When they return home, their parents are gone. No messages or notes. Their clothes laid on on the bed under the covers as though they had simply vanished. Needless to say, David and Mara are concerned. They don’t believed their parents have been “Rushed”, but something is clearly not right. Now they need to figure out what happened to their parents before word spreads that two teenagers are living by themselves.
The premise of this book is fascinating to me. I’m not a religious person, so it was interesting to see how a practitioner would view the world. Smith-Ready miraculously manages to keep this story from either glorifying or vilifying those of faith, but always remains critical of those who would use faith to achieve their own ends. I’m not 100% sold on the parents’ reaction to their eldest son’s death, but a catalyst was needed and grief is a powerful one. David and Mara make a great sibling team. David is a person of faith, while Mara is a skeptic who manages to play the part of a religious person to avoid confrontation with her parents. David’s girlfriend, Bailey, provides a great foil to David. Bailey is not religious either, but is curious and considerate when the topic of religion comes up, which happens frequently. I will admit that my brain fuzzed out a bit during the baseball-heavy portions of the book, but overall, this was a very engaging take on faith and religion. Would likely make a very good book club read.

07. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Teen Books

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, read by Courtney, on 06/03/2014

I’m kind of feeling like E. Lockhart lulled me into a false sense of security with her more light-hearted previous novels. This one was devastating and I’m still kind of reeling from the final moments of the book.
Cadence Eastman Sinclair comes from an extremely wealthy family. The type that summers on a private island off the coast of New England. The type that plays tennis, owns pure-bred golden retrievers, and inherits mountains of money. These summers on the island are golden. Cadence and her cousins, Johnny and Mirren, are joined by Johnny’s step-father’s nephew, Gat and all four are roughly the same age. They call themselves the Liars and set themselves apart from the rest of the family.
Something terrible happens the summer they are all 15, but Cadence can’t remember any of it. All she knows for certain is that she had some sort of head injury that leaves her with devastating migraines. Two years later, she finally returns to the island to find a lot of changes. The Liars are still there and they are very much the same as she remembers, but the main house has been rebuilt, the family tiptoes around the events of two summers ago, and the family’s patriarch is showing signs of Altzheimer’s. Cadence is determined to uncover the truth about that fateful summer, but no one wants to talk about it. Not even the Liars. Everyone wants Cadence to remember things on her own.
Gradually, the memories start coming back and Cadence is able to begin piecing together the events that have brought the family to this point. As it turns out, some things really are so painful that the brain will block them out. I don’t envy Cadence on any level.
This is one of those books with a surprise ending. Some readers may figure it out, but I wasn’t one of them. It completely caught me off guard and left my heart hurting. It’s a brilliant book with fantastic and intriguing characters, even if they’re not always likeable.

03. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Lisa

I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora, read by Lisa, on 06/30/2014

When Lucy, Elena, and Michael receive their summer reading list, they are excited to see To Kill A Mockingbird included. But not everyone in their class shares the same enthusiasm. So they hatch a plot to get the entire town talking about the well-known Harper Lee classic. They plan controversial ways to get people to read the book, including re-shelving copies of the book in bookstores so that people think they are missing and starting a website committed to “destroying the mockingbird.” Their efforts are successful when all of the hullabaloo starts to direct more people to the book. But soon, their exploits start to spin out of control and they unwittingly start a mini revolution in the name of books.

03. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Lisa

Lean on Pete by Willy Vlautin, read by Lisa, on 06/25/2014

Fifteen-year-old Charley Thompson wants a home, food on the table, and a high school he can attend for more than part of a year. But as the son of a single father working in warehouses across the Pacific Northwest, Charley’s been pretty much on his own. When tragic events leave him homeless weeks after their move to Portland, Oregon, Charley seeks refuge in the tack room of a run-down horse track. Charley’s only comforts are his friendship with a failing racehorse named Lean on Pete and a photograph of his only known relative. In an increasingly desperate circumstance, Charley will head east, hoping to find his aunt who had once lived a thousand miles away in Wyoming — but the journey to find her will be a perilous one.

In Vlautin’s third novel, Lean on Pete, he reveals the lives and choices of American youth like Charley Thompson who were failed by those meant to protect them and who were never allowed the chance to just be a kid.

03. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Kristy

Drama by Raina Telgemeier, read by Kristy, on 06/20/2014

PLACES, EVERYONE!

Callie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi, she can’t really sing. Instead she’s the set designer for the drama department stage crew, and this year she’s determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget. But how can she, when she doesn’t know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together? Not to mention the onstage AND offstage drama that occurs once the actors are chosen. And when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier!

03. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Kristy

Smile by Raina Telgemeier, read by Kristy, on 06/15/2014

From the artist of BSC Graphix comes this humorous coming-of-age true story about the dental drama that ensues after a trip-and-fall mishap.

Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth. What follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. And on top of all that, there’s still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly.

03. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Kristy, Teen Books

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, read by Kristy, on 06/01/2014

Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth. This extraordinary first novel has captured the imaginations of teenagers and adults across the country.

30. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Madeline

Lean on Pete by Willy Vlautin, read by Madeline, on 06/18/2014

Fifteen-year-old Charley Thompson wants a home, food on the table, and a high school he can attend for more than part of a year. But as the son of a single father working in warehouses across the Pacific Northwest, Charley’s been pretty much on his own. When tragic events leave him homeless weeks after their move to Portland, Oregon, Charley seeks refuge in the tack room of a run-down horse track. Charley’s only comforts are his friendship with a failing racehorse named Lean on Pete and a photograph of his only known relative. In an increasingly desperate circumstance, Charley will head east, hoping to find his aunt who had once lived a thousand miles away in Wyoming — but the journey to find her will be a perilous one.

In Vlautin’s third novel, Lean on Pete, he reveals the lives and choices of American youth like Charley Thompson who were failed by those meant to protect them and who were never allowed the chance to just be a kid.

29. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Romance, Teen Books

The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel, read by Angie, on 06/28/2014

Becca Williamson is a singleton in a high school full of couples. She was dumped by her best friend when Huxley entered coupledom and now her new best friend Val wants nothing more than to be part of a couple. Becca’s sister was dumped on her wedding day and has entered a state of depressed hibernation. Becca fights against the world of couples by taking on the role of The Break-Up Artist. Through an anonymous persona online she will break up a couple if she is paid and she has a very high success rate. Her skills are challenged however when she is hired to break up Huxley and Steve, the golden couple of Ashland High. Things get even more complicated when she starts having feelings for Val’s new BF Ezra. Becca just might be in trouble herself on this one.

I had mixed feelings about this book. I thought the premise was interesting, but I found the story a bit unbelievable. I also thought it was exactly how a man would see teenage girls, knowing nothing about how they think or act or what their lives are like. Every single girl in this book wanted nothing more than to be with a boy. If you didn’t have a boy you were a social outcast. Once you had a boy you moved up the social ladder depending on who the boy was. It is seriously degrading to girls to think this has anything to do with reality. Sure some girls are boy crazy and obsessed with being in a couple, but not all girls and certainly not an entire high school of them. I also thought it was terrible the way Becca was portrayed. Sure she ends up fine in the end, but really the majority of the book she comes off as a bitter, jealous girl who isn’t a couple and can’t stand it. She even makes out with her best friend’s boy friend and thinks its ok. Maybe my feelings aren’t as mixed as I thought. I think this could have been a vastly different book if it had been written by a woman who had actually experienced life as a teenage girl. 

I got a copy of this book from Netgalley.

27. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Skies Like These by Tess Hilmo, read by Angie, on 06/26/2014

Jade is spending her summer in Wyoming with her aunt Elise who she hasn’t seen since she was a little girl. She meets Roy Parker who styles himself as a true cowboy and a descendant of Butch Cassidy (real name Roy Parker). Roy’s family is going through some hard times since his father had to close his hardware store. Roy blames Kip Farley for all the troubles because he built a giant franchise store not far from the Parker’s store. Roy devises all kinds of schemes to get back at Farley; everything from fish heads hidden throughout the store to planning to sell his stuff on ebay to robbing the local bank (Roy only actually does the fish). Jade wants to be supportive of Roy, but isn’t comfortable breaking the law. All Jade’s previous summers have been quite, but this one is full of adventure and fun. 

I thought this was an excellent book about family and adventure and finding yourself. Both Jade and Roy go through transformations during their summer together. Jade loosens up a bit and learns that real adventure can be a lot of fun. Roy has to come to terms with his family situation and his heritage. The bonus with the book is that you also learn a lot about Butch Cassidy and star gazing. I think there is something for everyone here. 

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.

24. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Teen Books · Tags:

Burning Blue by Paul Griffin, read by Angie, on 06/23/2014

Nicole Castro is a pretty, popular girl who seems to have it all. She is athletic, has a perfect boyfriend, has won a beauty contest, is smart. This all changes when someone throws acid in her face scarring her and ruining her perfect beauty. Nicole doesn’t see who throws the acid and seems to retreat into her home with her mom as her only companion. Jay Nazarro is coming back to school after a humiliating experience. Jay suffers from seizures and had a horrible one during a school assembly. Jay is super smart and a skilled hacker, but a bit of a loner and definitely from the poor side of town. Jay and Nicole meet in the counselor’s office and Jay becomes obsessed with figuring out who threw the acid. The police don’t seem to be making any headway so Jay thinks he can use his hacking skills to do better. Jay and Nicole start hanging out and become friends which pushes Jay even more to figure out the mystery.

This was a compelling read. Once the story really got started I didn’t want to put it down. The story is told from Jay’s point of view and he has a fantastic voice. I liked how much depth these characters had. I thought their friendship was pretty believable as was the reactions of those around them. We get additional glimpses into Nicole’s life through her diary entries and the notes from her psychiatrist. I thought the mystery of who actually threw the acid and why was also interesting. Looking back I can see the clues, but during the reveal it was a surprise. I like that there were twists and turns in the investigation that left the reader wandering what was really going on. I guess my only big complaint was a storyline that seemed to go nowhere. Nicole has a young friend who is dying in the hospital. She visits her and is upset when she dies. However, we never really learn who this girl is and what her connection to Nicole is. Seemed like a storyline with no point and pulled the reader from the real story taking place. I think it could have been eliminated with no issues to the plot. Other than that I really liked the book. 

20. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Multicultural Fiction · Tags:

The Young Healer by Frank N. McMillan III, read by Angie, on 06/18/2014

Feather and her grandfather set out on a quest to heal her young brother Peter. Spotted Eagle is a Lakota medicine man and he wants to teach Feather the traditions of their people. Their quest leads them throughout New York City during a raging snowstorm as they meet a Chinese herbalist, a homeless woman, a bear at the zoo and a grandfather at the Empire State Building. Their journey is full of magical coincidences that help making the vision quest more special. Feather’s mom, Ann, is resistant to the old ways and doesn’t want anything to do with a traditional healing ceremony, but Feather and Spotted Eagle are determined to help Peter. 

I really enjoyed the fact that this book highlights a culture not seen in children’s realistic fiction very often, the Native American culture. I also liked that it was not only set in modern times, but also in a modern city. It highlighted how Native Americans can adapt their cultural traditions to fit a modern world, but still honor those ancient customs. I thought Feather and her grandfather were both fun, dedicated, interesting characters throughout the book. I did think Feather’s parents were a little one-dimensional, but they didn’t play a very big role in the book. I liked how the reader was left wondering if there was really magic playing a part or if it was just coincidences. A very special book that I am sure would be great for discussions.

13. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Fiction, Noelle, Teen Books

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams, read by Noelle, on 06/13/2014

Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters. That is, without questioning it much—if you don’t count her visits to the Ironton County Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her secret meetings with Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her. But when the Prophet decrees that Kyra must marry her sixty-year-old uncle—who already has six wives—she must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family forever.

12. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Award Winner, Brian, Contemporary Fiction, Paranormal, Romance

O My Darling by Amity Gaige, read by Brian, on 06/12/2014

darlingO My Darling was described to me as one of the best supernatural books, a comedy and a romance.  I saw no comedy, a hint of the supernatural and did see the romance even in a tragic sense.  The writer wrote with great imagery which made it a joy to read.  There were parts I thought were not necessary and other parts that confused me.

 

 

11. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Sarah, Teen Books

November Blues by Sharon Draper, read by Sarah, on 06/10/2014

This is the sequel to “The Battle of Jericho” that fills you in on Josh’s girlfriend, November, after he’s gone.  Within a couple of months of Josh’s passing, November finds out that she is pregnant.  All of her friends rally around her to support her, but her Mom’s disappointment is almost too hard to bear.  Jericho (Josh’s cousin) feels like he is responsible to help November through this but he is still aching over Josh, too.  Complications and ugly high school life make this very believable and heart wrenching.  November has to find the courage to do what is right by the baby, regardless of what others think.  This was a good book, but I enjoyed the first one more.

02. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Tracy

Whitethorn Woods by Maeve Binchy, read by Tracy, on 05/08/2014

Maeve Binchy once again brings us an enchanting book full of the wit, warmth, and wisdom that have made her one of the most beloved and widely read writers at work today.

When a new highway threatens to bypass the town of Rossmore and cut through Whitethorn Woods, everyone has a passionate opinion about whether the town will benefit or suffer. But young Father Flynn is most concerned with the fate of St. Ann’s Well, which is set at the edge of the woods and slated for destruction. People have been coming to St. Ann’s for generations to share their dreams and fears, and speak their prayers. Some believe it to be a place of true spiritual power, demanding protection; others think it’s a mere magnet for superstitions, easily sacrificed. Not knowing which faction to favor, Father Flynn listens to all those caught up in the conflict, and these are the voices we hear in the stories of Whitethorn Woods men and women deciding between the traditions of the past and the promises of the future, ordinary people brought vividly to life by Binchy’s generosity and empathy, and in the vivacity and surprise of her storytelling.

Maeve Binchy is at the very top of her form in this irresistible tale.

02. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

The Cherry Cola Book Club by Ashton Lee, read by Kira, on 05/17/2014

cherry cola {FCEA40D7-9A5C-40B1-B52F-3A568A25D2C3}Img400 9781611737134_p0_v1_s260x420Small town librarian MauraBeth tries to ramp up programming and usage at her library, in an attempt to keep the city council-members from closing the library in order to fund development in the town.  I thought this would be a little more interesting, being a librarian, but it wasn’t very.  Too much HANDWRINGING and really, 1 book club that meets every 6 weeks?

01. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Best Kept Secret by Ann M. Martin, read by Angie, on 05/31/2014

This book tells the story of Francie as she grows up in the 1970s and 80s. She has to deal with her parents’ divorce, her disabled uncle moving in, new friends, new schools, family feuds and all the things that come with growing up. This is the third book in this series; the previous two followed Francie’s mom and grandma. A lot of time is covered in this short novel. It starts with Francie starting school and ends with her married with a baby on the way. Unfortunately, the span of years really cuts down on the storytelling. Each chapter is basically a different year in her life so very little is actual told about what happens to her on a daily basis. It is more like a collection of vignettes than a fully fleshed-out story. There are things like the feud between family members that is mentioned but never really explained. And there is an incident when Francie is young where she is almost kidnapped and another girl disappears. This is mentioned several times but really never goes anywhere. I think the book would have been better served to tell Francie’s story through childhood with more attention to detail than to try and tell her entire life story in 200 pages. 

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.