Tuesday, June 22, 2010

This World We Live In

Title: This World We Live In
Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Pfeffer, S.

*Sometimes called The Last Survivors Trilogy, this title follows the events of the companion novels Life As We Knew It and The Dead and the Gone. If you have not read these novels, please stop reading as there are spoilers in this review.

It's been a year since a meteor hit the moon causing the Earth and it's inhabitants to struggle to survive a global catastrophe, massive starvation, floods, tornadoes, climate change, and disasters unimaginable. In this novel, Miranda and her family from Life As We Knew It continue to live as best they can, rationing supplies, scavenging abandoned houses for the things we all take for granted. In a twist of fate, Alex Morales and his sister Julie from The Dead and the Gone become a part of Miranda's life.

This World We Live In Susan Beth Pfeffer Book Trailer - Funny bloopers are a click away

The Bottom Line: While we got to know the characters very well in the first two novels, this addition completes what I feel is an authentic and moving series of books with characters that are unforgettable.

Going Bovine

Title: Going Bovine
Author: Libba Bray
Location: YA Bray

Can Cameron find what he’s looking for?

All 16-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school—and life in general—with a minimum of effort. It’s not a lot to ask. But that’s before he’s given some bad news: he’s sick and he’s going to die. Which totally sucks. Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure—if he’s willing to go in search of it. With the help of a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf and a yard gnome, Cam sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America into the heart of what matters most.

Bottomline: This was an interesting read - a bit of adventure, a bit of fantasy, and a bit of "is this real or is it a dream?". He definitely comes across some interesting things on his road-trip, including: a talking gnome, a cult obsessed with being happy, snowglobes, spring break Party houses, etc etc. I wasn't really liking the story at the beginning, but it pulled me in and I really wanted to know if Cameron would achieve his "quest".

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place - the mysterious howling

Title: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place- the mysterious howling
Author: Maryrose Wood
Level: J
Location: J Wood M.

Have you ever watched someone's children who acted like animals? Well Penelope Lumley's charges really do. After being told she is old enough to leave Swansburne Academy for Poor Bright Females Penelope starts her first job (at 15) as a governess. She soon learns the three children were found living in the woods and act like wolves. Not only must she teach them how to dress and speak instead of bark, she must also have them ready to dance and socialize at Lady Constance's first Christmas party . Odd things happen. It seems someone is trying to lure the children into behaving in a way that would send Lady Constance running. Who is trying to sabotage Penelope's efforts with the children? Will she be fired before she can find out and will the children survive without her protection? It is clear Lady Constance has no clue about children and does not wish to form a relationship with them. Lord Ashton is away at his club quite frequently or hunting. (He and Mr. Aldo are the ones who found the children.) Although he does not attend the Christmas party he invites several of his hunting friends from the club. It is unclear exactly what he has been saying about the children to them. There are a few other characters who seem questionable and a few household staff who are Penelope's allies.

Bottom Line: I thought this was an enjoyable read and will pick up the next book to find out more answers to the background of the children and Penelope. I also want to learn if my hunches about who is causing trouble are correct. The book is set in a time when carriages are used, but don't let that turn you off. The language isn't old fashioned or hard to understand. There are just enough possible clues and new questions to keep me reading and the story moving along. You may think you have some of the answers! I felt for Penelope and shared her compassion for the children, who are really sweet kids. I too was trying to figure out the answers to the many questions that arise around the party.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Children of the Sea, Volume 1

Title: Children of the Sea, Volume 1
Author: Daisuke Igarashi
Level: Young Adult
Location: Graphic YA Children Vol. 1

"The sea has a story to tell, one you've never heard before..."
Ruka was just a little girl when she saw a ghost at the aquarium--lights enveloping a fish, making it disappear. Now as a teen, she has found herself back at the aquarium where her father works, spending all of her free time with two teens, Umi and Sora, who were found in the ocean and raised by "dugongs" or manatees. Growing up in the ocean has made their bodies vulnerable to life outside of the water and the adults in the story are searching for answers. Then it is reported that all over the world, fish are disappearing from aquariums and more children are found living in the oceans. There are many clues, but no resolution.
The Bottom Line:
This title was selected to be in the 2010 Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). It is in traditional Japanese manga format, so you read right to left, starting at what we would usually consider the back cover.
Overall I enjoyed this book. While it was more of a "quiet" graphic novel than I'm used to reading, meaning less action, I still enjoyed it. It was slow going at times, but then the artwork quickly saved the day. Panels of drawings of undersea life are beautiful in their representations of whales, manatees, and other species. Ruka is a strong character, and Umi and Sora are intriguing. On to volume 2!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Spirit Bound

Title: Spirit Bound
Author: Richelle Mead
Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Mead

This review may discuss some major plot points from the four previous Vampire Academy books. If you have not yet read Vampire Academy, Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, and Blood Promise, jump ahead to The Bottom Line.

Since Spirit Bound is the fifth book in this six book series, I don’t want to say too much about it for fear of accidently giving something away. After returning from Russia, Rose comes back to the academy to take her final test to become a guardian. With Lissa’s help, Rose is still committed to finding a way to restore Dimitri’s soul, but she needs the help of dangerous Moroi prisoner Victor Dashkov, to accomplish this goal. Will Rose find a way to change Dimitri or will he strike at her first?

Although the main focus of the book seems to be on Rose’s quest to try and change Dimitri back from an evil Strigoi to his original state as a Dhampir guardian, Richelle Mead has a few other plot threads forming or coming to a conclusion in this novel. I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of plot threads that were resolved in this book even as frustrating new storylines opened up for, what should be, a truly exhilarating finish to the series in the next book. I continue to be impressed by Mead’s writing as she does an amazing job juggling her multiple plot threads while also deepening her characters in a way that is consistent with their personalities. I have never been a huge fan of Lissa or Adrian but I have a deeper appreciation for both, particularly Lissa, after reading this novel. She finally evolves into the loyal friend that Rose deserves, instead of just existing as the best friend that Rose must protect.

For the Dimitri lovers out there, he does make an appearance in this book and the scenes with him are equal parts captivating and heartbreaking. All I will say is that I love how Mead handles Dimitri’s character in this book. She writes him perfectly and consistently in this installment, even though it is upsetting at times to witness the changes in him.

The Bottom Line: I am obviously a huge fan of this series. I think it is the best fantasy/vampire series out there for teens and adults. In this 5th book, Richelle Mead closes off some plot threads and creates some crazy new ones to carry over to the final book in the series. So read Spirit Bound, start forming your conspiracy theories and get ready for the final installment, Last Sacrifice due out on December 7, 2010.