Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tease by Sophie Jordan

I just love this series...it's such a guilty pleasure...a GREAT summer read.  The last one in the series comes out in November...mark your calendar!!!

Book Description via Amazon

A young college woman gets schooled in life, sex, and love in New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan’s sizzling New Adult romance series—where three Ivy League suite-mates testing their boundaries as they seek higher knowledge of just how far they can go.
A born flirt and good-time party girl, Emerson has never had a problem finding a willing guy. She’s always chosen her hook-ups carefully, and she's never broken her three cardinal rules:
Never let them see the real you.
Never fall in love. 
Always leave them begging for more.
Then comes Shaw. A hotty from the wrong side of the tracks, he’s immune to her flirtatious banter and come-hither smile. After rescuing her from a disastrous night at a biker bar, he doesn’t even try to take her to bed—he calls her a tease and sends her home instead. Unable to resist a challenge, or forget the sexy dark-eyed bad-boy biker, she vows to bring him to his knees.
But instead of making Shaw beg, she finds herself craving him. For the first time in her life, she’s throwing out her rulebook. Suddenly, she’s the one panting for a guy she can’t control. A guy who won’t settle for anything less than the real Emerson, who forces her to do things she’s never imagined, including facing a past she thought she'd buried.
A guy who just might leave her wanting more . . .

Monday, July 21, 2014

Conversion by Katherine Howe

I absolutely loved this book, partly because we just visited Salem this year and I "relearned" about that time in history, and I am fascinated by it.  The book opens with Ann Putnam in 1706 (*the* Ann Putnam of Salem Witch trial fame) and then moves to Colleen in present day Boston.  Howe did a lot of research and used those facts and testimonies within the novel, sometimes the truth is better than fiction.  And while most of us know the details about the witch trials, the book still leaves the reader guessing how it is all going to end.

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up—Howe skillfully blends a modern medical mystery based on real events with the historical Salem Witch panic to create an engaging story. The prelude begins with Ann Putnam arriving at her minister's house in Salem, Massachusetts in 1706, finally ready to confess her part in the Panic more than 12 years before. Ann's tale continues in between glimpses into the life of Colleen Rowley, a senior at the exclusive St. Joan's High School of Danvers, Massachusetts in 2012. The pressure in the final semester is intense for Colleen and her classmates, who are all competing for places in top colleges. Her usually uneventful morning is disturbed, first by an apparent seizure of the very popular Clara Rutherford, and then by the unexplained replacement of the young AP History teacher. As the semester continues, more girls fall victim to a panoply of symptoms. Meanwhile, Colleen begins work on a research paper for the history substitute on an actual person absent from Arthur Miller's The Crucible. Amid a growing media circus, diagnoses are offered and then dismissed. The protagonist's research persuades her that the cause of the Salem Witch trials was far from supernatural and that the same "force" might be at work at St. Joan's. The author convincingly writes in the voice of current and historical teens, and major characters undergo significant growth in this intense tale. Howe's use of red herrings and the "ripped from the headlines" narrative will keep readers guessing until the final reveal.—Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Vacationers by Emma Straub

Is it possible to like a book without really liking any of the characters??? I say it is definitely a yes for this book.  While I don't agree whole heartedly with the review below "the novel is warm..." or the idea that "The Vacationers is a summer read for sure..." Some of the scenes were so uncomfortable and dysfunctional...everyone, at some point, can relate to having some sort of family drama.  And my idea of a summer read is a little lighter, with a little less snark but to each his own.  This is definitely worth your time though, the writing is amazing, and funny, really funny.

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, June 2014: Here's the funny thing about family: there's no one you love more than your relatives, and yet they're also the people who push your buttons the most. Emma Straub has captured this dilemma in her pitch-perfect second novel The Vacationers. The Post family’s vacation to the Balearic island of Mallorca is one fraught with jealousy and quiet secrets. It's an anniversary for parents Franny and Jim, who are making amends for some rocky marital misgivings; their son Bobby and his much-maligned older girlfriend Carmen have a financial favor to ask; and high school-age daughter Sylvia has made it her mission to lose her virginity to her Spanish tutor. The novel is warm--not just for the sunny beaches that surround Mallorca, but for the compassion and humor that Straub imbues in her characters. The Vacationers is a summer read for sure, but you'd be hard pressed to find a smarter one. --Kevin Nguyen

Monday, July 7, 2014

Girls Like Us by Gail Giles

Girls like Us is told in alternating narratives,  from the perspective of Biddy and Quincy.  Both are a product of the special education system or "speddies" as Quincy refers to them, who are paired to live together to try and make their way in the world.  Each girl has a uniquely different voice and each has seemingly insurmountable obstacles to overcome.  This book broke my heart in so many ways.  Sweet and kind Biddy, distant and angry Quincy, both have led an unbelievably tragic life, both have been failed by a broken system.   And while this seems like an overly depressing book, there is a great deal of hope.  A very well deserved Starred Review. 

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In compelling, engaging, and raw voices, 18-year-olds Biddy and Quincy, newly independent, intellectually disabled high-school graduates, narrate their growing friendship and uneasy transition into a life of jobs, real world apartments, and facing cruel prejudice. Obese and illiterate Biddy has more emotional intelligence than Quincy, whose normal brain development was shattered when her mother’s boyfriend hit her with a brick when she was six. Biddy’s limited cognitive capacities spring from oxygen deprivation during birth as well as lifelong deprivation of nurturing. Paired by a social service program, the girls are made roommates in a live-work placement where they share a small apartment at the home of a wealthy, sensitive, and supportive widow, Elizabeth. Biddy cleans and provides physical assistance for Elizabeth, while Quincy, who loves cooking, works at a market. Biddy and Quincy share deep secrets and narrate lives heartrendingly full of anger, abandonment, and abuse, including explicit, realistic descriptions of two rapes. But with the help of patient Elizabeth and the support they gain from each other, they are empowered to move forward with strength and independence. Giles (Dark Song, 2010) offers a sensitive and affecting story of two young women learning to thrive in spite of their hard circumstances. Grades 8-12. --Francisca Goldsmith

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Half Bad by Sally Green

This is something new in the already saturated paranormal market.  Nathan is a half black/half white witch trying to figure out his place in the world.  I love the concept that nothing is entirely bad or good, everyone has capacity to be both.  The white witches are supposed to be the "good" ones, yet some of them act horrifically.  And conversely, the black witches are supposed to be "bad" and yet there are some really good ones that help Nathan along the way.  No spoilers but Gabriel is one of my favorite characters.  The book ends with a big cliff hanger, which I kinda hate, especially in a brand new series (because I have no patience).  This is a young adult novel but has lots of adult appeal...and it has already been option to be a movie, so its going to by HUGE.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Black and white, good and evil. Is it really that straightforward? For 16-year-old Nathan, it is not; he is neither. Born the illegitimate son of a white witch mother and a black witch father, he is a Half Code, kept in a cage, beaten regularly, and toughened up for when he turns 17 and receives his three gifts. Both black and white witches want him, hoping he will lead them to his father, the most powerful, evil, and reviled of all black witches. Both plan for Nathan to fulfill his vision and their ultimate goal: he will kill his father. But Nathan has no desire to kill anyone; he wants only to escape his shackles and gain his freedom. First-time author Green has written the first in what looks to be a horrifying, compelling trilogy that pushes the boundaries of what we believe to be good and evil. With racial overtones of such diverse titles as Roots (1976); Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852); Run, Boy, Run (2003); and the Harry Potter books, this will stretch the reader’s tolerance for graphic torture while mesmerizing with mystery and heart-stopping adventure. Nathan’s survival is tenuous and marvelous—and only just beginning.