Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Hush, Hush

Title: Hush, Hush
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Fitzpatrick

Nora Grey's class seating chart forces her to sit next to a new student at school, Patch. Though he's tall, dark, and handsome, he makes her feel uncomfortable. She's not interested in romance. He's interested however. His interest in her starts to worry her as he starts showing up wherever she is. Is he stalking her? Eventually though, she finds herself drawn to Patch and his mysterious demeanor. She wants to learn more about him.

After a number of strange and terrifying incidents, Nora doesn't know who to trust, including herself. When she finally thinks she has the answers, she finds out how she fits in a struggle between what she never thought could be real and humans. Someone has to make a sacrifice that will change her life forever. The question is, who will make the sacrifice?

The Bottom Line: I thoroughly enjoyed the premise of the book, both realistic and supernatural, but it did take me a while (Chapter 19) to get a real clue as to what was going on (trying to put the very telling cover art to the back of my mind). In the end, the character development won me over and I wanted to hear more from Nora and Patch, not to mention the very real and intense moments that drive them together.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Splendor: A Luxe Novel

Title: Splendor: A Luxe Novel
Author: Anna Godberson
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Godberson

This review discusses the plot points of previous books in the Luxe series. If you have not read the 3 previous Luxe books: The Luxe, Rumors, and Envy, skip ahead to The Bottom Line.

The third book in the Luxe series had quite a cliffhanger ending with Diana heading off to join the army in pursuit of Henry, former maid, Lina, inheriting a massive fortune, and Elizabeth marrying Mr. Cairns to cover up her pregnancy by the recently deceased Will Keller. Henry took off for the army to escape the agony of his love for Diana leaving his scheming wife, Penelope, reeling from his sudden departure. Will Diana and Henry find each other? Will Elizabeth be happy with her new life as the wife of Mr. Cairns? Will Lina be able to keep her past a secret? How will Penelope fair now that Henry deserted her?

So often in these longer series,’ the author uses the conclusion to satisfy the demands of the readers without any consideration to whether these endings fit into the setting, plot, or the character’s personalities (see Breaking Dawn). With Splendor, the fourth and final book, Godberson successfully ties up the loose ends and produces conclusions for her characters that truly reflect the nature of their personalities and the limitations of the society in which they live. Unfortunately, I do believe that some readers will be disappointed in the ending for one of the main characters. I felt that it was completely appropriate and fitting for that particular character but I will admit that I shed a few tears as that conclusion played out. The plot had a few surprises and twists which kept the basic story fresh and interesting. Even though it was sad to see it all end, I loved this final book and I look forward to reading something new by Godberson in the future.

The Bottom Line: Splendor was a well-crafted ending to an entertaining series! Though fans may be a little disappointed in the ending for one of the characters, the author did a wonderful job of successfully concluding this series in a way that remained consistent with the characters and setting of the books. I truly enjoyed all of the books in this series!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

14 Cows for America

Title: 14 Cows for America
Author: Carmen Agra Deedy
Level: juvenile
Location: J 327.676 DEE 2009

This book is based on a true story about a Maasai young man who was in New York September 11th and how he related the event to his people on his return to Kenya. Their reaction is captured in this story.

Bottom Line: This short book based on true events is powerful. The artwork does an excellent job of conveying the feelings of the Maasai people. The last sentence of the book is poignant ,"Because there is no nation so powerful it cannot be wounded, nor a people so small they cannot offer mighty comfort." Make sure to read the end note written by the actual Maasai man and his dedication. You will be touched by the compassion of these warriors.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Pretty Dead

Title: Pretty Dead
Author: Francesca Lia Block
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Block

Fans of Twilight will most likely pick up Pretty Dead as a read-alike. Sadly, many of those fans will be very disappointed. Francesca Lia Block is a talented writer who revolutionized both the fantasy and LGBT genre for teens in the 90s and 00s. When I heard she wrote a vampire story, I had high hopes. I read the book in one day but didn't realize until after finishing it that the reason I was flying through it was because I wanted to finish and read something good.

Quite different from the heroines of other vampire books, the beautiful 100+ year old Charlotte Emerson is constantly in a state of sorrow, despite being immortal, beautiful, well loved and extremely wealthy. It’s as if Block read Poe and Plath and transferred that melancholy into a vampire story, minus the good execution. Charlotte has seen everything from the bombing of Hiroshima, to Woodstock, to September 11th- all at the age of seventeen. She is immortal and perfect in every way. However, she is overcome by her constant wallowing of her immortality. She has a very close relationship with her brother (some scenes suggested a little too close, which was creepy). When he dies in the early 1900s, she tries to continue her life, despite being devastated.In present day when her best friend Emily dies suddenly, she starts to turn back into a human. Things get even weirder when her maker (and decades long lover) William comes back into her life after separating years before! The ending is extremely anti-climatic.

The reader will most likely not connect to the characters. The flowery, pseudo-intellectual prose will not be appreciated by teens looking for a fun vampire story or characters they can identitfy with. Although there are a few interesting moments, it’s obvious that this contrived story was simply Block trying to market off the vampire craze. Instead, it reads like terrible fan fiction you would find on the Hot Topic message board.

Bottom Line: Judging from this letdown, Pretty Dead sounds less like a book title and more like Block's (once present) storytelling ability.