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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Thieves Like Us, by Stephen Cole

I can see why this book would appeal to teenagers. There's action. Kids are getting to do really cool things (like drive sweeeeet cars, like drink, like save the world and make big money doing it). There's some mystery. Thinly veiled sexual innuendos (from the kid I think is 13 or 14). Everybody's so freakin' cool. There's no parents, no school, no one telling them no. Geez, I can see why teenagers would love the book. Mostly boys, but some girls too.

But I didn't like it. It was alright, I guess, if you're into that kind of story. It was mindless read for me. I like books that make me think a little bit, stick with me. Heck..I finished this one 5 minutes ago and I'm already forgetting enough of it that I'm having to thumb back through it. Oh well.

From the publisher's blurb...

Jonah Wish, a brilliant computer hacker, is the newest addition to an elite group of teen outlaws all hired by the same mysterious benefactor, Nathaniel Coldhardt. Each of them offers a unique talent: Patch is a one-eyed locksmith; Motti can dismantle any electrical system; Con's charm is truly mesmerizing; and Tye can detect a lie with more precision than a polygraph. Under Coldhart's watchful eye, this motley crew races from a high-tech underground conference centre to exotic locations where they hunt for priceless ancient artefacts that may bring riches . . . or the secret to eternal life.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Star-Crossed, by Linda Collison

I didn't put this one down. I even felt compelled to share a few lines with the darling boyfriend while he cleaned his house last night. I rarely "share" until I'm done with the book.

I'm not usually one for "adventure girl" stories, but this is the second one I've read recently that I just loved (the other being "Hattie Big Sky"). Patricia is a strong, strong character who manages to be a lady, even though she's doing a lot of distinctly not ladylike things. Doing things I couldn't imagine doing even at 30. I got all caught up, wanting her to win. And, in a way, she did.

From the publisher's blurb...

Patricia Kelley has been raised a proper British lady--but she's become a stowaway. Her father is dead, and her future in peril. To claim the estate that is rightfully hers, she must travel across the seas to Barbados, hidden in the belly of merchant ship.

It is a daring escapade, and the plan works--for a time. But before she knows it, Patricia's secret is revealed, and she is torn between two worlds. During the day, she wears petticoats, inhabits the dignified realm of ship's officers, and trains as a surgeon's mate with the gentle Aeneas MacPherson; at night she dons pants and climbs the rigging in the rough company of sailors. And it is there, alongside boson's mate John Dalton, that she feels stunningly alive.

In this mesmerizing novel of daring, adventure, tragedy, and romance, Patricia must cross the threshold between night and day, lady and surgeon, and even woman and man. She must be bold in ways beyond her wildest dreams and take risks she never imagined possible. And she must fight for her life--and her love.

Saint Iggy, by K.L. Going

I love it when I can pick up a book and know exactly who I'd recommend it to. Five pages into it, I was planning "the sell" to one of my TAs. That sell amounted to "I couldn't stop thinking about you while I read this. You ARE this kid."

Iggy's a special case. His home life, quite frankly, sucks. He just wants to make a positive difference, somehow, somewhere. And he does, but not quite the way he expects. I give this 2 big thumbs up..and maybe even a toe.

From the publisher blurb...

'I am not so bad a person once you get to know me.'

When Iggy Corso gets kicked out of high school, there's no one for him to tell. His mother has gone off, his father is stoned on the couch, and the phone's been disconnected, so even the social worker can't get through. Leaving his public housing behind, Iggy ventures into the world to make something of his life. It's not easy when you're sixteen, have no skills, and your only friend is mixed up with the dealer who got your mom hooked. But Iggy is . . . Iggy, and he has the kind of wisdom that lets him see what no one else can. K. L. Going's third novel is a haunting achievement about a young man's tragic search for meaning in a world that to him makes no sense.

Just in Case, by Meg Rosoff

Odd story. Very odd. Just (nee' David) has decided to hide from Fate, because he beleives Fate's out to get him. And maybe Fate is. I think it's a coming of age story, with a twist. I think it's coming of age in one's own mind, not just merely (!) in the ways that people think we must grow up. I also happen to think he's got some serious psychological issues. But a REALLY good story. REALLY good.

From the publisher blurb...

Justin Case is convinced fate has in for him.
And he's right.

After finding his younger brother teetering on the edge of his balcony, fifteen-year-old David Case realizes the fragility of life and senses impending doom. Without looking back, he changes his name to Justin and assumes a new identity, new clothing and new friends, and dares to fall in love with the seductive Agnes Day. With his imaginary dog Boy in tow, Justin struggles to fit into his new role and above all, to survive in a world where tragedy is around every corner. He's got to be prepared, just in case.

Hattie Big Sky, by Kirby Larson

WOW! Loved it. Easy to read and get lost in. The POV of a girl on her own, during World War 1, trying to save a land claim. Just amazing. I've handed this one to several people lately. I just love it.

From the publisher blurb...

Alone in the world, teen-aged Hattie is driven to prove up on her uncle's homesteading claim.

For years, sixteen-year-old Hattie's been shuttled between relatives. Tired of being Hattie Here-and-There, she courageously leaves Iowa to prove up on her late uncle's homestead claim near Vida, Montana. With a stubborn stick-to-itiveness, Hattie faces frost, drought and blizzards. Despite many hardships, Hattie forges ahead, sharing her adventures with her friends--especially Charlie, fighting in France--through letters and articles for her hometown paper.

Her backbreaking quest for a home is lightened by her neighbors, the Muellers. But she feels threatened by pressure to be a "Loyal" American, forbidding friendships with folks of German descent. Despite everything, Hattie's determined to stay until a tragedy causes her to discover the true meaning of home.

Over a Thousand Hills I Walk With You, by Hanna Jansen

WONDERFUL story. I really, really enjoyed this one. The POV of the young girl, and how she literally transformed from the innocent to the "know-to-much" personality. It's a limited interest, especially since high school students won't remember the Rwandan tragedies in the 90s, but there will be those who are very intrigued.

From the publisher's blurb...

Before one fateful April day, Jeanne lived the life of a typical Rwandan girl. She fought with her little sister, went to school, and teased her brother. Then, in one horrifying night, everything changed. Political troubles unleashed a torrent of violence upon the Tutsi ethnic group. Jeanne’s family, all Tutsis, fled their home and tried desperately to reach safety. They -- along with nearly 1 million others -- did not survive. The only survivor of her family’s massacre, Jeanne witnessed unspeakable acts. But through courage, wits, and sheer force of will, she survived. Based on a true story, this haunting novel by Jeanne’s adoptive mother makes unforgettably real the events of the 1994 Rwandan genocide as one family experienced it. Jeanne’s story is a tribute to the human spirit and its capacity to heal.

The Girl from Charnelle, by K.L.Cook

Now, let me be clear. I really, really enjoyed this book. However, I'm waiting for the consequences. I think my moral compass is spinning, trying desperately to find something to learn from this story line. I mean--nothing happens? We just go on? Daddy still loves you, and he never ever knows what you've done? And excuse me--your older brother and sister know what you're up to, and don't tell your dad? Sure, this stuff happens, it's realistic fiction. But come on.

From the publisher's blurb...

It's 1960 in the Panhandle town of Charnelle, Texas -- a year and a half since sixteen-year-old Laura Tate's mother boarded a bus and mysteriously disappeared. Assuming responsibility for the Tate household, Laura cares for her father and three brothers and outwardly maintains a sense of calm. But her balance is upset and the repercussions of her family's struggles are revealed when a chance encounter with a married man leads Laura into a complicated relationship for which she is unprepared. As Kennedy battles Nixon for the White House, Laura must navigate complex emotional terrain and choose whether she, too, will flee Charnelle. Dramatizing the tension between desire and familial responsibility, The Girl from Charnelle delivers a heartfelt portrait of a young woman's reckoning with the paradoxes of love. Eloquent, tender, and heart-wrenching, K. L. Cook's unforgettable debut novel marks the arrival of a significant new voice in American fiction.

Defining Dulcie, by Paul Acampora

Not the typical "teen underdog" story. I mean, what high school student would be willing to be a school janitor (for a co-op position). But, it would appeal to the quirky set.

From the publisher's blurb

After Dulcie’s dad dies, her mom decides that the two of them shouldreinvent themselves in California. Dulcie’s decision? To steal her dad’s ’68 Chevy and head back home to Connecticut. Once Dulcie gets there she meets Roxanne, a girl whose scary home life makes Dulcie think that she just might have landed in the right spot at the right time. Luckily for Roxanne, Dulcie Morrigan Jones is a girl with a storehouse of strength and generosity of spirit that stretches on for miles.

Quirky, uplifting, and written in a spare prose, Defining Dulcie is about the connections we make, the resilience of the human spirit, and the absurdities that keep life interesting. It is a debut not to be missed.

Promise Me, by Harlan Coben

This is an interesting story. I'm not sure many high schoolers that I know would be interested in it. But, it is rather timely and "newsy." Nice study in how things can very suddenly go terribly wrong.

From the publisher's blurb...

It has been six years since entertainment agent Myron Bolitar last played superhero. In six years he hasn't thrown a punch. He hasn't held, much less fired, a gun. He hasn't threatened or been threatened. He hasn't called his friend Win, still the scariest man he knows, to back him up or get him out of trouble. In the past six years, none of his clients have been murdered-a real positive for his business.

But all that is about to change. Because of the simple urge to protect two neighborhood high-school girls from the all-too-dangerous and all-too-common mistake of getting in a car with a drunk driver, Myron has them make him a promise: If they are ever in a bind but are afraid to call their parents, they should call him rather than get in a car with someone who's been drinking. Several nights later, the call comes at 2:00 am, and true to his word, Myron picks up one of the girls in midtown Manhattan and drives her to a quiet cul-de-sac in New Jersey where she says her friend lives.

The next day, the girl's parents discover that their daughter is missing. And that Myron was the last person to see her. Now, in a desperate attempt to fulfill a well-intentioned promise gone nightmarishly wrong, Myron must become a hero again to save a young girl's life.

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