Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Oh boy, I'm a little worried. It is only the middle of June and I fear that I've read the best book of the summer. ELEANOR & PARK is one of those amazing books that you don't want to put down, but you also don't want to finish. If you haven't check it out yet, please do!
Author Rainbow Rowell has masterfully captured the unique relationship between two misfits who never thought they would be destined for love. Eleanor's life has dealt her one blow after another. She simply doesn't expect anything but disappointment. She has successfully built a barrier to protect herself from the taunts and teasing she faces on a daily basis.
Park has friends, but he would rather use his music and his comics to block out the crass, immature behavior that surrounds him. His parents love him but don't always understand him. When he suddenly finds himself sharing a bus seat with Eleanor, he tries to focus on his own little corner of the world, but he is drawn to her flaming red hair and her seeming indifference to the cruelty aimed in her direction.
Gradually, after sharing a bus seat every morning and afternoon, Park and Eleanor begin to communicate. It begins as Park realizes she is reading his ever-present comic books as he turns the pages. Music comes next when he mentions his favorites and begins to pass her a tape or two. Eleanor can't believe he is so friendly, and when his actions suggest he may even think of her as more than just a friend, her world begins to blossom in a way she never would have imagined and isn't sure she can trust.
These two castoff characters captured my heart and pulled me into their relationship immediately. I was fascinated but also felt a bit like I was trespassing on something private. The relationship Rowell creates between the two is so tender and tentative, I found myself holding my breath and feeling the need to read carefully so as not to disturb or disrupt their personal space. At least for now, it is the best book I've read this summer.
Saturday, June 15, 2013
Thank you to author Amy Fellner Dominy for kindly sending me a copy of OyMG. Girls looking for a fun summer read should head to the bookstore or library in search of a copy ASAP.
Ellie Taylor has a chance to make her dream come true. She has snagged a coveted spot at the CSSPA summer camp. CSSPA stands for Christian Society Speech and Performing Arts. Ellie's dream is to attend the camp and win the top spot in the oratory portion of the final tournament where the prize is a full-paid scholarship to Benedict's, the top speech high school in the country.
Although her family is supportive of her oratory dreams, they can't afford the pricey tuition required to attend the prestigious high school. Ellie isn't really worried though because she is confident that she has the speaking talent to win the tournament, and on the first day of camp, she discovers an added bonus, Devon Yeats.
Devon is the grandson of the scholarship sponsor, the wealthy Doris Yeats. As soon as Ellie gazes into his piercing blue eyes, she experiences what her friend calls the "sizzle." Not only is Devon the grandson of the person awarding the scholarship Ellie wants so badly, but he is also proving to be her biggest competition.
An unexpected complication arises when Ellie is asked to fill out paperwork required for the scholarship. The form has a blank asking for her religious affiliation. She knows that Benedict's is a Christian school, but she can't believe the fact that she is Jewish could be a problem. When Devon explains that his grandmother hates Jews, Ellie realizes she must decide between her dream and family pride.
OyMG is a fast, fun read. Readers will fall in love with Ellie and root for her success. They will also appreciate the tough decisions she must make and the potential sacrifices those decisions require. Thanks again to Amy Fellner Dominy for providing a copy for me to review and share with other readers.
Sunday, June 9, 2013
Somehow I missed this Sara Zarr book, but happily that has been corrected.
Living in Pineview doesn't offer much excitement, but when tragedy strikes Samara "Sam" Taylor wishes her town was back to its boring, old self. Sam is struggling with family issues when Jody disappears. The town focus is on finding the missing teen. Sam joins in the search, but her own problems intensify causing her to worry that she will appear self-absorbed.
As the daughter of the local minister, Sam must be a glowing example of the perfect teen. Over the years, her mother has succumbed to the pressures of being a pastor's wife and taken to drinking. An accident and DUI conviction has her locked away in rehab, and with the town in chaos, Sam wishes more than anything that her mother was home.
Torn between her fear for the missing teen and her frustration and worry about her parents' crumbling relationship, Sam is looking for help in all the wrong places. When she should be sticking close to home to prevent her busy father from worrying, she takes to disappearing which causes even more strain on fragile friendships and her relationship with her father. How can she remain true to herself and her beliefs when even a minister seems to be compromising his faith every day?
WHAT WE LOST by Sara Zarr delves into family relationships and a young girl questioning her faith in God. Readers will keep turning pages as they join in Sam's search for answers and the search for a missing girl.
Thursday, May 30, 2013
THOUSAND WORDS by Jennifer Brown should be made available to every teen! Misuse of cell phones for sexting and bullying is an ever-growing problem. What begins as a joke or something intended as a personal message for one individual can easily mushroom into an out-of-control situation that ends in ruined reputations and more.
Ashleigh has just finished her sophomore year and is hoping to spend a great summer with her boyfriend Kaleb who will be headed off to college in the fall. While at a party, Ashleigh hears a suggestion from a friend that she should text Kaleb a sexy picture so he can be reminded of her when he is away at college. Having had just enough alcohol to compromise her inhibitions, Ashleigh locks herself in the bathroom, removes her bikini, and takes a nude photo of herself, then hits send on her phone.
Unfortunately, Ashleigh's relationship with Kaleb deteriorates once he hits the college campus, and after a few unpleasant long distance arguments, Kaleb breaks up with her. Bad feelings escalate and Kaleb is responsible for spreading Ashleigh's image via texts and emails. The resulting chaos not only ruins Ashleigh's reputation, but also threatens her relationship with her parents and even her father's job.
Once again Jennifer Brown handles an extremely sensitive subject in the perfect way. Her message is hard-hitting and will speak to any teen who picks up THOUSAND WORDS. Ashleigh learns a difficult lesson and suffers realistic consequences that deliver an important message about an ever-increasing problem with modern technology.
Monday, May 27, 2013
Moving to Santa Monica is the last thing Jeff wanted to do. A new school and new friends are not easy to deal with, and Jeff finds them especially challenging. When the first person he meets is has been dead for more than a year, he isn't sure he is up for the challenge.
Kimberlee died in a drowning accident. Her life was filled with privilege most can only dream about, but despite her easy life, she made choices that didn't exactly make her popular among her classmates at a private school called Whitestone.
Jeff meets Kimberlee on his first day at Whitestone. Totally unsure of himself in this private school, wearing an uncomfortable uniform for the first time in his life, it takes Jeff some time to realize that the hot-looking girl who begins talking to him is actually a ghost. She finally convinces him he is the only one who can see and hear her. She then explains that she needs his help.
Kimberlee reveals that for years before her untimely death, she had been stealing. She stole anything and everything from friends and from stores simply for the challenge and the thrill she felt afterward. Now Kimberlee finds herself unable to pass on to wherever it is she is supposed to go after her death, and she believes if Jeff could help her return the stolen items, she might be able to rest in peace.
When Jeff reluctantly agrees to help her, he doesn't realize what he is in for. A visit to an ocean side cave reveals stacks of boxes filled with the hundreds of items Kimberlee has stolen. What follows is a crazy adventure involving anonymously returning stolen merchandise without getting caught. Will Jeff manage to help Kimberlee without getting into trouble himself? Will she learn her lesson and find peace in the afterlife?
Author Aprilynne Pike has concocted a unique, action-packed ghost story unlike any most readers have experienced. Filled with typical self-involved high school students, a tough principal, annoying teachers, and one bitchy ghost, LIFE AFTER THEFT is a fun read guaranteed to provide entertainment around the pool this summer.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Excellent book! Ok, that said, here's a summary.
Carey and her little sister Jenessa captured my heart by the end of the first chapter. Raised by their bipolar mother in the deep woods of Tennessee, the sisters have learned to fend for themselves even when their mother disappeared for weeks at a time in search of her meth suppliers.
Carey vaguely remembers being told that running off to live in a hidden camper in the woods was the only way to protect them from an their abusive father, but something doesn't add up. When the man claiming to be their father arrives at their hidden camp to take the girls back with him, Carey fears the worst, but since their mother has been gone for the longest time ever, she knows their survival may depend on this man.
Even though life away from the woods terrifies Carey, she knows it is better for Jenessa. Their father's new wife seems to love Jenessa and provides both of them with everything they need. Despite her fears, Carey begins to get comfortable, however, along with comfort comes an increasing nervousness as she thinks about the secrets she still has not revealed about their life in the woods.
IF YOU FIND ME is at once heartbreaking and inspiring as author Emily Murdoch reveals the tragic life of Carey and Jenessa and their rescue by a loving father. This one was hard to put down, and the story will haunt readers long after the last page.
Monday, May 13, 2013
Don't talk to strangers! Everyone knows the rule. When a stranger talks to Diamond and tells her he can introduce her to movie stars and even get her a movie audition, all common sense leaves her mind. She follows him out of the mall and into a nightmare.
It was an innocent trip to the mall to buy new tights before their performance, but Mercedes can't forgive herself for letting Diamond go off to the food court alone. If she hadn't stayed back in the dance store to try on the red leotard, Diamond wouldn't be missing.
Everyone is frantic. Diamond has disappeared from the mall without a trace. Her friends and family can't get in touch with her because the battery in her phone is dead. No one has a clue where she could be.
When Diamond wakes up tied to a bed surrounded by video cameras, she can't believe what's happening. Drugged and forced to do unspeakable things, she begs to be allowed to return home.
PANIC by Sharon M. Draper is a story ripped from tragic headlines about the abduction of a teen and the resulting community chaos. A must-read for teenage girls who might be tempted by a stranger's promises despite the most dire warnings from parents and other authority figures.