Monday, August 13, 2018

Vampire Girl By Karpow Kenrade

Vampire Girl by Karpow Kenrade

This is much more a YA book. It is written in first person present tense. The voice is that of Arianna, Ari, who has just turned eighteen. Most people won’t remember Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. It was a ridiculous musical. Well, this is one bride to be choosing from seven brothers who happen to be the seven princes of hell. It seems at two she almost died and her mother made a contract with the then king of hell in order to save her life. Well in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers the guys need and get some schooling about how to behave around women. Well, these seven need some schooling because they each rule over a sub-kingdom named for one of the seven deadly sins; greed, envy, war, vanity, lust, gluttony, and sloth. Ari, the women, is definitely the one to school them, but believe me, they don’t all play nice. But who is surprised, they are the princes of hell. There is quite a twist at the end and book one ends without her having chosen a mate.  There seem to be at least six books in the series. 

Friday, August 10, 2018

Three reviews

The Kindling by Braden Bell

This is book one of I think seven. It is written in third person past tense. It is the story of three teens in whom there awakens the unexpected powers of the ‘Magi.’ The Magi are a secret force engaged in a battle between good and evil. I love that not all three are sold on embracing their powers and joining the battle. It is an intense battle and well written. I loved the idea of super powers when I was a teen and still wouldn’t mind having a few to help in special circumstances.

The Selection by Kiera Cass

It is the first in a series. It is written in third person past tense. The plot is the bachelor meets the hunger games. Set in the post-world war IV kingdom of Illea. The kingdom is made up of 35 regions. From each region, a candidate will be selected to go live in the palace. From one of these 35 women, Prince Maxon will pick his wife. There is a lot of worries and turmoil over ‘Will he like me?’ ‘Do I like him?’ ‘I’m homesick and want to go home?’ And then there are those pesky rebels who keep attacking and ruining the party. Oh, and the old boyfriend shows up at the palace. And spoiler alert book one ends without us finding out who the Prince chooses.

Genius: The Game by Leopold Gout

This book is told in three different first-person voices. All three are teens who are computer and technology prodigies. These three teens end up at the Game, which is being held by an international businessman. While on the surface all seems on the up and up these teens know there is a very nefarious plot running beneath the surface. Oh, and by the way they aren’t shy about breaking a few laws and rules them self. There is a lot of computer and code talk that may turn on some but also did not slow the story down for the less geeky me. You’re left at the end with a cliffhanger. There are two additional books in the series.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Two Reviews

I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

This is book one of the seven-book Lorien Legacies series. This story has all the ingredients a middle school boy might be looking for if: he wished hormones released his superpowers, he wanted a mysterious loyal pet, wanted to talk to the most beautiful girl in the school, he finally wanted to trounce the bully and his friends, and was willing to accept help defeating an alien invasion. I found it a good read. There is a lot of backstory about the planet Lorien but it is worked in skillfully. If my summer read list wasn’t so long I might have gone for book 2. However I have to admit in long series my interest often wains after book four, but I think this might hold it. It is written in first person present.

A Man Called Ove by Frederick  Backman

Listed on the reading list As a Man Named Of, I chose to read the name that way. Ove feels he can contribute to the world by at every turn upholding principles and order. The story is set in Sweden but it seems more like a Soviet state from Tolstoy or Kafka. Even though both Saabs and Volvos are Swedish cars Ove believes only the Saab is worth owning. After GM buys Saab he never buys another car. When his neighbor buys a Volvo their relationship hits rocky ground and when the neighbor trades the Volvo for a BMW that is the end. Ove appears as an angry man with a temper. Slowly his backstory is told and we understand some of the things that have shaped him and scarred him. And slowly we begin to understand Ove. But what also emerges is that maybe Ove just doesn’t know how to exist in a world of silly politeness and excessive small talk and where you can’t even get a plain black coffee in a coffee shop. He several times tells us ‘it is not what a man does but what he says.’ Ove never turns down a request for help. He might grunt or curse but he doesn’t say no.  He does this not because he has a good heart but because it is the right thing to do and because it is what his wife would have wanted him to do. This is a densely narrative book, but very rewarding.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Five reviews

I spent the last week on a road trip from Virginia to Texas and back. I didn't get a lot of reading done but I listened to five books on Audible.  Their reviews are below.

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

I listened to Echo as an audible book, it was wonderful. It is the story of the journey of a magical harmonica that gives courage to who ever plays it and the wisdom to know when to pass it on. Each part of the book focuses on a different owner. In the end how the harmonica has journeyed from one to the other is told and all the stories are brought together in one final performance. The audible version included a great deal of music and was quite lovely.

The Wife Between Us By Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

This is not typical middle grade reading. It is a very complicated love and revenge triangle in which each of the three adults, one man and two women, are a little unhinged, vengeful and manipulating. It is also made complex by numerous flashbacks, often to scenes that have been visited before but now are seen from a different angle.

The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

First you need to know, if you read this book you are going to learn a lot about Jellyfish, a lot. Suzy’s parents describe her as a constant talking person, but when her estranged best friend drowns she goes silent, not a word. Yet in a wonderful way the style of writing is as if she is constant talking to the reader and also to her deceased friend. Large parts of the narrative are actually in second person as she addresses the friend.  Inspired by a group of three young teens who actually flew from Florida to Tennessee on their own, in an attempt to visit Dollywood, Suzy  manages to buy a plane ticket to Australia to speak to a world renowned Jellyologist. Will she make it? At its heart this is a story about the true pain of middle school when the paths of two friends diverge.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Madelaine is allergic to the world and her mother has built for her a safe house in which she has lived for 17 years protected from the world outside and quite content. When a funny attractive boy moves next door she wants more.  She is finally faced with choosing whether she wants to live safe in her bubble or die outside living the fullness of life. If you find yourself suspecting that mom has more than Madelaine’s health as an agenda pay attention.

Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans

If you had a special ability, who would you tell? Would you tell your parents you could read minds? Would you tell your best friend you could shock the living daylights out of him? That is the beginning of this story. The middle of the story is the discovery that others, only a few others also have powers. And then the challenge is how to use those powers for good when others want to use them for evil. This is the first in a series of seven books. At time the story was very intense but at other time I thought it a little slow. I probably will not come back to this series. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Whisperer in Darkness by H. P. Lovecraft

The Whisperer in Darkness by H. P. Lovecraft

What a wonderful surprise to find this classic in the list. I have read a number of authors who sight Lovecraft as one of their sources of inspiration and even some who have built upon the mythology he developed. I had not ever read any of his works. He is famous for his influence on the horror genre of the 20th century and numerous songs and games have been influenced by his work, unfortunately, he did not experience financial success during his lifetime.  This is written in a first-person narrative with a bare minimum of dialogue.   It also has a far more challenging vocabulary than is usually found in YA or even modern fiction with only a little archaic vocabulary. It was a scary page-turner edge of the seat, classic horror novel. I’ll never look on the hinterlands of Vermont the same.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Blink By Sasha Davis

Blink By Sasha Davis

There were four choices for the title Blink. One was a Batman graphic, another a rapture story, (religious rapture), and another a psycho-thriller. I chose this one.  However, this is definitely more a late High School book than an early middle school. Mostly for the level of violence, most of it domestic, second for language and finally for some intimate personal interactions. The story is told in first person past tense by high school junior Josh Michaels who as a rising star on the football team and who should have it made except for a neglectful dysfunctional mother, an abusive ex-stepfather, a dope smoking friend, and twin little sisters who need his love and protection, and Chatham Claiborne, the most beautiful person he has ever met.  Two storylines begin in the first chapter and finally meet fully in the last chapter. They are the story of four-year-old Rachel Bachton, kidnapped 11 years before our story begins and the mysterious Chatham Claiborne who shows up in this nowhere town north of Chicago. By the end, Chatham owns who she is and Josh does some growing up, but there is a lot of pain before that happens. 

Friday, July 13, 2018

The Leaving By Tara Altebrando

The Leaving By Tara Altebrando

The Leaving uses three characters to tell the story from their point of view. Two of the characters were part of the six kindergarteners who were taken 11 years before the story begins. The third is the sister of a boy who was taken but doesn’t return. The search for the truth is a suspenseful journey and right up to the end I wasn’t sure who to trust. The story raised for me a lot of questions about memory. It points out that most of us remember very little of our childhood. The story asks; What is a really good memory? Would you rather remember a catastrophic event or simply have a blank spot where that memory was? If you lose your memory can you go forward without trying to regain that time? The story also explores the ways in which those who are left behind try to cope.  And throughout the story is the conflict between people who chose to deal very differently with the same events. A good read.