Saturday, April 30, 2011

Book 21 (2011): The Chosen One

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams is a young adult, fictional novel set in a cult.

Kyra is 14 and the oldest of many. She lives in a trailer in the desert with her mother and her siblings. All her other mothers and siblings live in trailers next door. Her father lives with them all. They live in a compound with the other members of the cult, The Chosen, and they are led by Prophet Childs.

As the story unfolds, Kyra learns she's to wed her 60 year old Uncle and she becomes defiant, because she doesn't want to.

After witnessing repeated violence brought upon her family and those in her "community", claiming it's the way of God, she has to make a choice to be broken and live that life, or leave.

This was an interesting novel and I'm not sure how I feel about it. I think because I'm an adult I wanted it to be longer and for the author to dig a little deeper, for it to be more detailed. I'm sure for teen readers, this is probably "just enough". It was an interesting story and Kyra, the protagonist, was unique enough to keep me reading but I'd like to know more, to have more character development and then more story. I'd also like to know some more backstory- what brought people to this cult and what made them stay.

I'll be interested to see what my high school readers think as this book circulates. (213 pages)


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Book 20 (2011): The Deadly Sister

This is one of the worst books I have ever read. I had the entire thing solved by page 40. By page 100 I was so frustrated with the lame story, the poor dialogue, the repetitiousness of everything, and I'm not a fan of the characters' backstories, nor did I like the author's writing style, that I did something I never do. I honestly can't remember a time I did this: I flipped to the back of the book and read the last chapter. Then I returned it to the library.

Terrible young adult fiction. Just terrible. (310 pages)


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Book 19 (2011): Bliss Remembered

I loved this book, written by Frank Deford! Such a sweet story and reading it was blissful.

The story is of an older woman- Sidney, in her 80s, who is dying of cancer. She wrote her memoir and then decides to tell her grown son, Teddy, part of her story. She remembers about her trip to the '36 Olympics, in Berlin, of meeting a handsome German, her romance, coming home, the war...

Though this is a fictional story, it feels like it's real. Using the first person narrator and then switching between the voice of mother and son, it's pure delight. The elder Sidney is feisty and fun. Teddy is a charming son.

I loved how Teddy heard part of his mother's story of her past and then called to gossip with his sister about it; that tickled me because it is so real, what real folks would do. He captured all these people perfectly, giving them all so much charm.

Not only are all the characters wonderful, Deford's told a fascinating story, weaving in history to modern times, using flashbacks. And it's a strong story, creative, and several twists, none of which I saw coming because it was so finely told or because I was so enamored with the characters. I didn't want it to end.

This is one novel I strongly recommend! Most people don't often recommend a book to me, so when someone does I really do try and read it. My father strongly encouraged me to rad this one, and I am so happy I did!(351 pages)


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Book 18 (2011): Everlost

Everlost, a young adult novel by Neal Shusterman, is pretty awesome. As a newly minted librarian in a high school library, I'm diving into teen fiction slowly. I'm thrilled to have stumbled on this novel along the way.

Don't let the fact that I called it a teen novel throw you off because it's worth reading, regardless of your age.

In this story, people die and don't get to heaven. On their journey from the moment of death outward the light, the stumble and end up in a place called Everlost.

Nick and Allie don't survive their respective car crashes and now their souls are stuck between life and death. They have to figure out how to survive in this world, that's only populated by dead children.

It's a place full of magic but also scary and dangerous. They meet a young (Dead) woman who's anointed herself the leader of the dead children and calls herself Mary HighTower. Is she good or is she evil?

There's a ruthless ogre who tries to control Everlost and he's known as The McGill.

I'm amazed at the fascinating take on this idea of ghosts among us, and a ghost/ soul survivors community, how they live, how the move, the rules about haunting. The twists and turns of this story, the use of history to blend in the tale of Allie trying to get back to her family is just amazing.

I don't feel I've done a good job of making this sound enticing to read. I don't want to give away some of the best secrets of the book, so I'm trying to be vague. It's not dreary and morbid as it sounds. It's a unique and super creative twist on the concept of ghosts here on Earth.

My only drawback is that the ending is most certainly left open for a sequel. I hope if Shusterman goes that route, he makes is a trilogy and stops, rather than turning it into a series.(377 pages)


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Book 17 (2011): Nineteen Minutes

Nineteen Minutes is my favorite Jodi Picoult book. Lots of my students have been reading it lately so I decided to re-read it myself.

The story is about a boy, Peter, who goes into his high school, armed with 4 guns, and kills students and injures others. The story is what led to this tragic, yet fictional, event. The story is told from the voice of Peter, one of the living victims Josie, Josie's mom, Peter's mom, and the police detective in charge of the case.

The characters are strong and their voices powerful. I've worked in education for a long time now and I can see how something like this could happen in real life. Yes, we've seen this story in the headlines, the most memorable being Columbine.

I admire Picoult and she's long been a favorite author who's graced my shelves. (455 pages)