23. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Teen Books · Tags: , ,

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King, 279 pages, read by Angie, on 03/20/2015

Lucky Linderman isn’t lucky at all. When his grandma died she asked him to find his grandpa. Problem is grandpa was a POW in Vietnam and never came home. Lucky has been dreaming about rescue missions to save his grandpa ever since. Lucky is also being bullied by a horrible kid named Nadar McMillan. Nadar is one of those kids that every kid knows to avoid, but all the adults love. It doesn’t help that his father is a sue-happy lawyer. Nadar started bullying Lucky by peeing on his shoes when he was seven and hasn’t stopped. Lucky’s parents know he is being bullied, but can’t seem to find the energy or the drive to do something about it. His dad is a chef, works all the time and only wants to talk food when he is home. Dad has been so traumatized by growing up without a dad that he can’t seem to become one himself. Mom spends all her time in the pool swimming laps to avoid her unhappy marriage and her unhappy child.

It is not until Nadar physically harms Lucky so that others can see that mom finally does something. She doesn’t call the police or Nadar’s father; she takes Lucky and leaves. They head to Arizona and her brother’s house (mainly because it has a pool). Things seem to be looking up there. Lucky is bonding with his uncle and lifting weights and he meets a girl who helps build up his confidence in himself. Only problem is that the aunt is CRAZY. She is positive Lucky is suicidal and keeps wanting to help him in her own inept way. In Arizona Lucky learns some truths about himself and his family and starts to gain the confidence he needs to stand up to Nadar.

This is a book that might not be for everyone, but if you stick with it you are going to be rewarded. A.S. King always seems to write about the misfit characters who come into their own in her books. Like her other characters, Lucky is a real kid with real problems. He is picked on and bullied and misunderstood. Sure he dreams about rescuing his grandpa from the jungle prisons of Vietnam and sure he has a chorus of ants who offer commentary on his life, but that doesn’t make him crazy. In fact, the dreams and the ants help him work through what is going on around him. The ants offer a bit of light-heartedness to an otherwise fairly dark story.

26. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Mystery, Teen Books · Tags:

There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake, 464 pages, read by Angie, on 01/24/2015

Shelby Cooper tells us from the beginning what is going to happen to her. We know she will get hit by a car. What we don’t know is why or what will happen as a result. She gets hit by a car because she is deaf and did not hear it coming. What happens is that she and her mom go on the run and are chased by the FBI across Arizona. There is also a whole thing where Shelby has waking dreams where she is in “The Dreaming”, a Native American type spirit walk where she has to kill the crone and save the child. She has a spirit guide in Coyote, who also happens to be the cute boy Mark she meets at the library. The dreaming helps her come to terms with her life in the real world.

I am not sure what I think about this book. Part of me was really frustrated with the whole dreaming bits and how they kept pulling me out of the story. The other part of me really kind of enjoyed the real bits of the story. While I might not have liked Shelby as a character, she is sarcastic and rude and has definite body image problems. I did like the path her story took. I never knew what was coming next in this crazy ride Nick Lake created. I know his big thing is dual storylines (In Darkness), but I don’t think it was really necessary in this case. I didn’t believe the dreaming like I thought I was intended to and I just wanted those parts to end so we could get back to the real story. It was a compelling read however and I really couldn’t put it down.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.

26. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton, 301 pages, read by Angie, on 01/23/2015

This is one of those books that stays with you. Even days after I finished reading it I am still thinking about it and the world Lelye Walton created. I generally don’t like magical realism books; they just aren’t my thing, but there was something about this one that got its hooks into me and wouldn’t let go. The title is misleading; this is not just a book about Ava Lavender, the girl born with wings. It is the tragic story of her entire family going back generations. It starts with her great-grandfather moving the family to New York. New York is not gentle with the Roux family. All of them suffer for love and die, all except Emilienne who flees New York, marries a baker and moves to the house on Pinnacle Lane. Her husband dies early leaving her with neighbors who think she is a witch, a young Viviane to raise and a bakery. Viviane too has her troubles with love. She ends us broken hearted with two young children: Henry who barely speaks and sees things others cannot and Ava with her glorious wings. She sequestered them in the house on Pinnacle Lane but even that cannot stop the tragedy that seems to follow the family.

This is not a happy book in any way. There is death and loss and rape and people turning into birds. It is like a dark fairy tale told to scare children and warn them about the dangers of love. The entire time you are reading it you know terrible things are just around the corner. You want to warn the characters but you can’t. There is a lot that can’t be explained but you realize you don’t need an explanation. You can just believe that this is the way the world works in Walton’s mind. This is not a book for everybody but those that get lost in the story will have a hard time finding themselves again.

29. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Lisa · Tags:

School of Charm by Lisa Ann Scott, 304 pages, read by Lisa, on 10/16/2014

Who’s got time for hair curlers and high heels when you’re busy keeping baby turtles alive?

Chip has always been a tree-climbin’, fish-catchin’ daddy’s girl. When Daddy dies, Mama moves her and her sisters south to Grandma’s house and Chip struggles to find her place in a family full of beauty queens.

Just when she’s wishing for a sign from Daddy that her new life’s going to work, Chip discovers Miss Vernie’s School of Charm. Could unusual pageant lessons and secrets be the key to making Chip’s wishes a reality?

Full of spirit, hope, and a hint of magic, this enchanting debut novel tells the tale of one girl’s struggle with a universal question: How do you stay true to yourself and find a way to belong at the same time?

01. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction · Tags:

Nightingale's Nest by Nikki Loftin, 256 pages, read by Angie, on 06/30/2014

Little John is working with his father trimming trees for Mr. King during the summer. One day he hears the most amazing music. He discovers it is a little girl who sounds like a magical bird. She is an orphan living with Mrs. Cutlin whose property borders Mr. King’s. Gayle is just like a little bird, more comfortable in the nest she built in the tree than on the ground. Over the next few days Little John and Gayle become very close. Little John needs something good in his life. His family is not the same since the death of his little sister. His dad is drinking a lot and spending their rent money on booze. His mom still talks to the little sister Raelynn as if she is still alive. They are about to be evicted and have no where else to go. So when Mr. King offers John $500 to bring Gayle to his house and let him record her voice, John accepts. Mr. King is a bit creepy but John doesn’t think he would actually hurt Gayle. However, after he records her Gayle acts as if she has been wounded. She claims Mr. King stole her voice. There are a series of unfortunate events that leads to a horrible accident and the loss of the rent money. Little John has to make things right with his family and with Gayle.

I am still not sure what I think about this book. It was a very engaging story and one I really didn’t want to put down. However, it is based on a fairy tale I am unfamiliar with, which made the story a little more difficult to understand. Magical realism is also not my favorite genre. With that being said I think it is a magical little book that will definitely find fans.

14. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Kira · Tags:

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, 387 pages, read by Kira, on 05/13/2014

 

The book starts out slow.  It is the story of 2 youngsters trained in the magical arts as opponents in a challenge.  The venue for competition is the Night Circus.  Their respective masters omit informing them of important rules of the game, like how a winner is determined.

night_circus___celia_and_marco_by_acbunny-d60u8rythe_night_circus___celia__s_library_by_sombrewood-d5e00xk01a624d91a48461261ac67cdfc3c6a88AlemanhaI found timeline a night_circus__the_clock_by_thesearchingeyes-d5laf5vbit cos-NIGHT-CIRCUS-large640Night_Circus_Hero_groupnfusing.NightCircus_AFthe_night_circus___widget_and_poppet_by_eizurin-d4i1ce0Night Circus 0911  But once I got into the book, I found it magical, very atmospheric and a bit mysterious.  I like the way the different story-lines blend together.

27. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Award Winner, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Food, Kira · Tags:

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender, 292 pages, read by Kira, on 06/13/2013

On her 9th birthdayparticularsadness cake  Rose discovers that she can taste the emotions of the people who prepared the food she eats; thus discovering the emptiness and discontent her Mother represses.

This is a story of attempting to forge meaningful connections within one’s family and beyond.

The atmosphere reminded me of that found in the title “A Certain Slant of Light”, though Sadness is far more realistic and grounded (yes it contains a small amount of magical realism).

31. January 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags: , , ,

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, 409 pages, read by Kira, on 01/27/2013

 

scorpioraces

Some race to win. Others race to survive.

Every November, on the Island of Thisby, riders compete in the Scorpio Races. They attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line.
Some riders live.
Others die – because the Water Horses, though fast, are man eating monster horses.

The writing is gorgeous and the island itself seems like a character, Stiefvater creates very atmospheric locations.  There is something here for everyone, adventure, love (NOT ROMANCE), family relationships.  This might be Stiefvaters best yet!

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