Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Wow, Wow, Wow - I feel like that is all I have been saying lately but it happened *again*...I fell in love.  This is like nothing I have read in a long, long time.  I have attached a New York Times review for the synopsis because lets face it they are paid to write better than me (or is it I???)  This part is just where  I gush and profess my love for this author and this book.  She has created this place, Thisby, that is both familiar and other worldly - it is fantasy without being too fantastical (yeah not even sure that is a word.)  There is adventure and love and loss.  Which brings me to her characters - Puck and Sean - their love story made my heart skip a beat without being overdone or too teenagey (now there's a word.) I am not a horse person perse, but this book may have changed that. 

New York Times Book Review


The Ride of Their Lives

Maggie Stiefvater’s violent, stand-out fantasy, “The Scorpio Races,” is set on the fictional island of Thisby, in either a near past or a dystopian future where there are cars and radios but no mention of television or the Internet. Here, young men are drawn to the barren beaches of the Scorpio Sea each November to compete in a brutal race astride capaill uisce (CAP-ul ISH-kuh), commonly known as water horses.


By Maggie Stiefvater
416 pp. Scholastic Press. $17.99.(Young adult; ages 13 to 18)
Stiefvater, most recognized for her “Shiver” werewolf romances, not only steps out of the young adult fantasy box with “The Scorpio Races” but crushes it with pounding hooves. Adapted from Celtic legend, the meat-eating mounts of this inventive, tightly woven tale have the ability to lull their human riders into a stupor whereby the fairy horses can then carry them back to the ocean to be devoured.
The two likable and well-realized main characters have been born and raised in this rough and isolated but tightknit island society. Kate Connolly, or Puck, as she is called, has already lost both her parents to the capaill uisce. Now her older brother Gabe is threatening to leave the island, and the only way Puck can keep her impoverished family intact is to enter the Scorpio Races and win the pot.
Sean Kendrick, another orphan and locally lauded for his ability to calm the capaill uisceshares Puck’s fierce determination. Sean works for the callous owner of Thisby’s largest horse yard; he has ridden Malvern stables’ champion stallion Corr to victory in the last four races. Now 19-year-old Sean is ready to call his life his own.
Two sides of the same coin, their stories told in alternating first-person, Puck and Sean both love Thisby and its horses. Yet Puck embodies forward-looking progress in challenging her beloved islanders’ exclusion of women racers, while Sean looks to the ancient pagan traditions surrounding the water horses as a way to preserve what is best in Thisby. This chasm engenders a romance, born of mutual respect. But of course, both riders can’t win, and this tension drives the novel to its bloody but satisfying conclusion while leaving the stall door open for further installments.
Stiefvater’s descriptions of the small island community, from the gossipy butcher shop to the sacred hush of the Malvern stables, are poetically rendered and steeped in a belief system that feels entirely real. The pull between the island’s pagan past and it’s seemingly Catholic present creates a well-constructed metaphor for teenagers struggling to understand current frictions between religion, politics and pop culture. The islanders’ fight to maintain their heritage even as their economy lags behind the mainland’s — and of the Americans who show up to watch the races — also feels relevant to those suffering the effects of recent financial upheaval.
If “The Scorpio Races” sounds like nothing you’ve ever read, that’s because it is. Thecapaill uisce are exhilarating, frightening creations, far more fascinating in their quivering, carnivorous rage than lovelorn vampires or angsty fallen angels, the current paranormal darlings of Y.A. literature. Stiefvater has successfully plumbed lesser-known myths and written a complex literary thriller that pumps new blood into a genre suffering from post-“Twilight” burnout.
Jennifer Hubert Swan is the middle-school librarian at the Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School. She blogs at Reading Rants.

Review by 
4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·   rating details  ·  4,885 ratings  ·  1,472 reviews
It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.
Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Well the Newbery committee got it right in 2011!  What a book, what a story, what characters...amazing.  When I first heard this was last year's Newbery pick I was a little didn't scream read me.  First, the time period is not one of my favorites - WWI and The Great Depression - *sigh* it's too, well, depressing.  But the book is anything but...this book has it all...laughter, tears, tenderness...perfect.  This is a YA book but it definitely has a lot of adult appeal.

From Booklist

Moon Over Manifest*Starred Review* After a life of riding the rails with her father, 12-year-old Abilene can’t understand why he has sent her away to stay with Pastor Shady Howard in Manifest, Missouri, a town he left years earlier; but over the summer she pieces together his story. In 1936, Manifest is a town worn down by sadness, drought, and the Depression, but it is more welcoming to newcomers than it was in 1918, when it was a conglomeration of coal-mining immigrants who were kept apart by habit, company practice, and prejudice. Abilene quickly finds friends and uncovers a local mystery. Their summerlong “spy hunt” reveals deep-seated secrets and helps restore residents’ faith in the bright future once promised on the town’s sign. Abilene’s first-person narrative is intertwined with newspaper columns from 1917 to 1918 and stories told by a diviner, Miss Sadie, while letters home from a soldier fighting in WWI add yet another narrative layer. Vanderpool weaves humor and sorrow into a complex tale involving murders, orphans, bootlegging, and a mother in hiding. With believable dialogue, vocabulary and imagery appropriate to time and place, and well-developed characters, this rich and rewarding first novel is “like sucking on a butterscotch. Smooth and sweet.” Grades 5-8. --Kathleen Isaacs --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Thirteen Hallows by Michael Scott and Colette Freedman

Just OK will probably continue with the series but it will not be on my stalker list (ya know like the sequel to The Passage, The Twelve, due out August 28, 2012 - but whose counting???)

Book Description via
The Thirteen Hallows

A new adult novel from Michael Scott and Colette Freedman...
The Hallows. Ancient artifacts imbued with a primal and deadly power. But are they protectors of this world, or the keys to its destruction?
A gruesome murder in London reveals a sinister plot to uncover a two-thousand-year-old secret.
For decades, the Keepers guarded these Hallows, keeping them safe and hidden and apart from each other. But now the Keepers are being brutally murdered, their prizes stolen, the ancient objects bathed in their blood.
Now, only a few remain.

With her dying breath, one of the Keepers convinces Sarah Miller, a practical stranger, to deliver her Hallow—a broken sword with devastating powers—to her American nephew, Owen.
The duo quickly become suspects in a series of murders as they are chased by both the police and the sadistic Dark Man and his nubile mistress.
As Sarah and Owen search for the surviving Keepers, they unravel the deadly secret the Keepers were charged to protect. The mystery leads Sarah and Owen on a cat-and-mouse chase through England and Wales, and history itself, as they discover that the sword may be the only thing standing between the world… and a horror beyond imagining.
The Thirteen Hallows is the beginning of a spellbinding new saga, a thrilling tale of ancient magic and modern times by a New York Times bestselling author and an award-winning playwright.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler

I have been reading about this book alot lately in the blogosphere and it sounded very interesting (and let's face it anything with Facebook in the description catches my attention!)   I also love books told in alternating narratives - I like seeing things from different perspectives.  It was a very cute, very quick read...nothing earth shattering but fun.  It is also fun to contemplate what my younger self would think of my life via my Facebook posts (perhaps that I drink too much wine *ahem* but that is for a very different blog post.)

Up next I am moving to an adult novel The Thirteen Hallows by Michael Scott and Colette Freedman....I need to get out of high school for the moment :)

Book Description via
The Future of Us
It's 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They've been best friends almost as long - at least, up until last November, when Josh did something that changed everything. Things have been weird between them ever since, but when Josh's family gets a free AOL CD in the mail,his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they're automatically logged onto their Facebook pages. But Facebook hasn't been invented yet. And they're looking at themselves fifteen years in the future.

By refreshing their pages, they learn that making different decisions now will affect the outcome of their lives later. And as they grapple with the ups and downs of what their futures hold, they're forced to confront what they're doing right - and wrong - in the present.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

This is such a breathtakingly beautiful book - it tells the tale of the horrifying relocation of the Lithuanians by Stalin during WWII.  It was a subject I knew little about (I am ashamed to admit) and one that will now stay with me for a lifetime.  A must, must, must read.

From Booklist

Between Shades of Gray*Starred Review* Sepetys' first novel offers a harrowing and horrifying account of the forcible relocation of countless Lithuanians in the wake of the Russian invasion of their country in 1939. In the case of 16-year-old Lina, her mother, and her younger brother, this means deportation to a forced-labor camp in Siberia, where conditions are all too painfully similar to those of Nazi concentration camps. Lina's great hope is that somehow her father, who has already been arrested by the Soviet secret police, might find and rescue them. A gifted artist, she begins secretly creating pictures that can--she hopes--be surreptitiously sent to him in his own prison camp. Whether or not this will be possible, it is her art that will be her salvation, helping her to retain her identity, her dignity, and her increasingly tenuous hold on hope for the future. Many others are not so fortunate. Sepetys, the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee, estimates that the Baltic States lost more than one-third of their populations during the Russian genocide. Though many continue to deny this happened, Sepetys' beautifully written and deeply felt novel proves the reality is otherwise. Hers is an important book that deserves the widest possible readership. Grades 7-12. --Michael Cart