Monday, September 21, 2009

"Including Alice" by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

In the book Includign Alice Alice's dad marries her old teacher Silvia Summers. Alice is happy until her dad and Silvia leave on thier honey moon without saying goodbye. Alice is left with her aunt. Wher her dad and Silvia finnaly get home things change, some for the better.

I woudl give this book 4 out of 5 stars and recomend you read it.

"Death By Bikini" by Linda Gerber

Death by bikini is a book about a girl named Aphra who lives on an island with her father. Her father owns a resort so Aphra works there. When some agents and villans started to come to the resort things started to get weird. Aphra strtes to fall in love with the son of a family that has been running from the law. People are injured, including Aphras father and finally things get sorted out and all is well again.

After reading this book I would give it 3 1/2 stars out of 5 and recomnd that you read it to.

Monday, September 7, 2009

"Sister Wife" by Shelley Hrdlitschka

Born in raised within the strict precepts of a religious movement in the isolated community of Unity, Celeste has been rasied with the idea that polygamy, and complete and total obedience to the man of the family, is the only way a woman will be allowed into heaven. As she approaches her own assignment as wife to an older man, Celeste, at the age of fifteen, is struggling to accept her destiny. Her questioning attitude becomes a problem to the community when she is seen breaking a taboo by becoming close to Jon, another teenager who has his own doubts about a future in Unity. An arranged marriage is quickly scheduled, and Celeste must quickly act to decide her future.

Although life in polygamous communities might seem like a bizarre twist of religious convention to most freedom-loving readers of our culture, Hrdlitschka skirts any question of the legitimacy of these sects by examining the community of Unity from several different viewpoints, including those of a outsider who found security in the community, and Celeste's sister who is fully committed to the life. The reader is left to fully understand Celeste's decisions and motivations. This compelling study of people whose individualities are never allowed to develop is a page-turner!

Rated FIVe out of FIVE stars.

"The Dead and the Gone" by Susan Beth Pfeffer

This companion novel to "Life As We Knew It" tells the story of the fight for survival after a global catastrophe from the viewpoint of 17-year-old Alex Morales. Unlike the small-town heroine of "Life", Alex is a native New Yorker whose life changes dramatically after the moon is pushed out of its orbit due to an asteroid collision. Millions of lives are immediately lost to tsunamis, flooding, weather changes, and electrical disruption, and the dismal forecast of any improvement in services or food supply are not lost on Alex, who is immediately thrust into caregiver to his two younger sisters.

Alex continually wrestles with his faith and morals as he struggles to survive and provide food, heat, and security to his family. Pfeffer unscrolls the horrors of a civilization's collapse slowly, though, making each new disruption to Alex's "normal" life even more powerful. It will not be easy to forget the nightmarish implications of "body shopping", for example. The reader, along with Alex and his sisters, find optimism for the future perhaps the hardest ideal to have faith in when faced with the day-to-day struggles to survive.

Rated FIVE out of FIVE stars.

"Living Dead Girl" by Elizabeth Scott

This book should be issued with a first aid kit of upset-stomach relief, tissues, and heart medication, as the reader is immediately plunged, along with the main character Alice, into her nightmare world spent as the kidnap victim of her captor Ray. Since she was snatched at the age of ten, Alice is forced to spend her days as the victim of mental, physical, and sexual abuse by the monster who controls every aspect of her life. Now that she is fifteen, Alice comes to realize that Ray is planning to supplement his "family", and Alice must join him in his plans to find the right girl.

Reminiscent of "Such a Pretty Girl" by Laura Weiss, this book, although gripping and unforgettable, pushes the boundaries of content for young adult fiction. The descriptions of the abuses suffered by Alice, although not explicit, leave no doubt to the horrors the character is experiencing. I often had to just put the book down to escape the revulsion felt by the powerful and gripping story. The ending is unforgettable.

For mature readers only, I'd rate this FIVE out of FIVE stars. If you have any doubts about your maturity level (and I'm not talking about your reading level), please wait to read this novel.

"Shift" by Jennifer Bradbury

During the summer before his freshman year at college, Chris decides to bike cross-country with his best friend Win. Near the end of their journey, Win disappears and Chris is left to return home alone. Now, back at school, Chris now must deal with the investigator, hired by Win's controlling and powerful father, who is intent on discovering Win's whereabouts.

As Chris reflects on the summer with Win, it becomes clearer to Chris that the journey was a deeper one than a mere cross-country bike ride. Chris must explore the a more mature meaning of friendship, family, and loyalty, and decide the appropriate actions that will affect the destinies of all involved parties.

In her debut novel, Bradbury writes like an expert in the world of long-distance biking (as well she should, as she herself has accomplished a cross-country trek). She also brings an authentic voice to the lives of mature adolescents. With every page, the reader is brought along on Chris' and Win's journey, sharing their flat tires, pranks, convenience store dinners, and conversations. The characters' actions ring true to their motivations. I was sorry to see this journey end with the last page - the characters were so alive to me I felt they might be biking up my driveway any minute! I look forward to Bradbury's next novel.

"Beneath My Mother's Feet" by Amjed Qamar

Nazia is a Indian schoolgirl devoted to her mother and the life her mother has planned for her - to be married later this year (her fourteenth) and become a dutiful wife and daughter-in-law in her new family. Nazia's life, however, takes a sudden turn when her working class family is suddenly plunged into poverty upon the loss of her father's job. A plummeting drop in pride and social standing follows as Nazia and her younger siblings must follow their mother into housekeeping (and living in a shack on the grounds) for a wealthier woman.

Nazia is determined to rise from poverty, and even begins to question marrying her bethrothed, but to do so means doing the unimaginable - breaking from the sacrificial duty expected of her from her mother and family. Will she be able to risk all in her quest for a better life?

The tale of Nazia and her family makes one realize that a life free from having to daily find food, shelter, and a measure of safety are not to be taken for granted. A book is a success when it makes me wonder how would I measure up if I were placed in the position of Nazia. How would one not only survive but thrive, imagining a life that has not before been part of your imagination? One is left to compare one's own hopes and dreams with the ones of the characters in this novel.

Rated FOUR out of FIVE stars.

"The Possibilities of Sainthood" by Donna Freitas

It's nice for a girl to have a hobby, and Antonia Lucia Labella has a whopper - every month, she writes a letter to the Vatican petitioning for a new patron saint (as in The Patron Saint of Figs, or The Patron Saint of Irons) AND nominating herself for the position. She is undeterred from her passion despite a. her fractious, if loving relationship with her Italian mother b. her job at her mother's Italian market c. her longing to receive her first kiss and d. the fact that the Church only canonizes dead miracle-workers as saints.

Antonia buffers her petitions by diligently studying about, and praying for assistance, from the many patron saints in her Saint Diary. She also breezes through her home, school, and neighborhood with a determined faith in herself, her family, and her future, working miracles large and small with humor, open-mindedness, and faith.

Freitas paints a wonderful portrait of an appealing, positive, and determined young woman. Although Antonia's life is highly influenced by her Italian heritage and Catholic religion, her quests are ones that any teen can identify with, and the humor that is found on every page makes this a terrific read. Sigh - the only detail lacking in this novel is a recipe for the Italian wandies (pastry) that were mentioned in Chapter 20 - they sound delicious!

Rated FOUR and a HALF out of five stars.

"Wintergirls" by Laurie Halse Anderson

When visiting the many attractions at Niagara Falls, many tourists make a stop to ride the cable car over the giant Whirlpool. As one hovers over that impressive natural phenomenon of swirling torrents, a basic primal fear starts to set in - What if the cable car snapped? What if you fell in the monstrous vortex? Surely that would mean the end of life for any living creature sucked into the depths through that power. So overpowering that you wonder that if you were caught and dragged below, would even your spirit be able to escape the pull?

While reading about the main character in Laurie Halse Anderson's Wintergirls, one can't help thinking that Lia is caught in a mental whirlpool so powerful that escape is impossible. As a teen obsessed with controlling caloric intake, Lia's every waking second is spent structuring her life on diminishing her food, her movements, her relationships. This disappearing act, instigated by a friend's death and seemingly uncaring parents, is so realistically created by Anderson, that the reader experiences, along with Lia, the powerful pull of anorexia on the mind, body, and spirit. Can Lia ever escape the illusion of the disease's control?

Anderson's writing successfully captures the dilemma of the disease on a teen's psyche, fully exploring its deceptive pull, to the gripping extent she also achieved in Speak. Highly recommended - FIVE stars.

"The School for Dangerous Girls" by Eliot Schrefer

Angie, a teen with a difficult and troubled adolescence who has depleted her mother's patience, is sent to Hidden Oaks, a reform school hidden deep in the Colorado countryside. A former boys' prep school with its own tragic past, the Hidden Oaks campus consists of severaltermined to find buildings surrounded by the ruins of former dormitories, gyms, and classroom buildings. Angie, along with the rest of the "dangerous girls", jockeys for position and standing in a group that suffers minimal interaction with the adults whose mission is to reform them. Once classes start, it becomes apparent that the students have been separated into two "strands" of girls - one whose members remain in classes, and another, whose members mysteriously disappear and are not heard from again.

As Angie attempts to find her place at Hidden Oaks and deal with her troubled past, she is also determined to discover the fates of the girls who have disappeared, and begins to suffer from the cruel and bizarre punishments of the teachers. The threatening setting of the ruined campus and deteriorating weather, coupled with the exploration of the dark side of group dynamics, make this a thriller from start to finish. One can't help but turn the pages to find the answers to the many mysteries embedded in the appropriately named Hidden Oaks.

I'd rate this book four out of five stars.

"The Underneath" by Kathi Appelt

A pregnant cat, abandoned deep in bayou country, finds a sense of safety and belonging when she decides to live in the crawl space under a cabin with a hound dog who lured her there with his lonesome song. The family is soon complete with two kittens, and Ranger, the dog who has been permanently chained to his position, immediately turns aside his loneliness to love and care for his new family. The cats are quickly taught to stay hidden quietly and carefully in the Underneath, for to come out into the sunshine could mean an encounter with the Monster who lives above them - a damaged recluse known as Gar-Face.

The unlimited monstrosity of Gar-Face becomes apparent when the animals' guard becomes lax and tragedy strikes. The animals are left with not much more than their unshakable motivations to once more find their sense of love and security complete once again within the bonds of their family, but to achieve their longing, they must all risk the ultimate sacrifice.

The lyrical nature of Appelt's writing is perfectly suited to the mysterious and secretive nature of the bayou in which the story takes place. The story of love, security, and freedom, battling with the presence of evil and death, is perfectly set and expressed in the story of these animals who have chosen to engage in that battle for each others' sakes. This 2009 Newbery Honor and National Book Award Finalist is well worth the reading, however, if you are a sucker for animals like I am, keep that tissue box handy!

FIVE out of FIVE stars.

Friday, September 4, 2009

"Specials" by Scott Westerfeld

The main characters in this book are Tally, Shay, Fausto, Tachs, Ho, David, and Dr. Cable. The setting where this book took place is Uglyville, New Smoke and Diego. The summary of main events are after Shay and Tally's last operation to become a Special they are now living in the wild looking for any Uglies or Pretties they can make special. Something went wrong and Shay and some others were being operated on to despecialize them. Tally managed to change Dr. Cable. Now she lives in the wild with David. She is free. When I finished the book I was left thinking about was if Tally and David would ever catch up with the others or if they would be on their own from now on. I would recommend it beecause you never knew what was going to happen next. I would rate this book 5 stars. MUST READ!!!!

"Pretties" by Scott Westerfeld

The main characters in this book are Tally, Peris, Shay, Fausto, and Zane. The setting of this book took place in New Pretty Town. The summary of main events is Tally had recently had her transformation to be a pretty. She kept having flashbacks of her life as an ugly. So Tally, Fausto and Zane decided to escape Pretty Town and hopefully meet up with David in the smoke again. They did escape only to be found again by the Specials. Her friend Shay was a Special Special now. Just like Tally was going to be. When I finished the book I was left thinking about how Tally would cope with being a Special, Special, and what will happen to Zane now. I would recommend it You never knew what would happen from chapter to the chapter. I would rate this book 5 stars. MUST READ!!!!