Tuesday, October 30, 2012

16 and Not Pregnant - Yet

Melody is having a bad time of it lately. Her friends tease her, her parents are disappointed, and her teachers are concerned. Why? She's already sixteen years old, and she still hasn't gotten pregnant. Twisted high school pact? Sort of. Reality TV? Kind of. Alternate universe? Bingo. Welcome to the weird world of Bumped by Megan McCafferty.

In Melody's version of the future, a virus has destroyed the fertility of everyone over the age of 20. For the human race to survive, then, it all depends on the teenagers.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Killing Fields Revisited

It wasn't easy for me to read Never Fall Down, not because of a complicated plot or language, but because of the horrifying and true story it tells. It is the story of Arn Chorn-Pond told in his words by the author Patricia McCormick.  When Arn is ten years old, the Khmer Rouge takes over Cambodia forcing him and his family as well as all the residents of his town, to march to camps in the country. They are separated by gender and age into different camps and work the rice fields for 16 hours a day, with little or no food.  Many children fall ill with malaria and die.  Arn and the others live the constant fear that someone will accuse them of disloyalty to the regime or laziness and they will be killed.  He knows that groups of adults are regularly killed in a mango grove nearby.  It is a living hell.  When he is recruited to play music with others to mask the cries of those being killed, he knows that it will be a way to further his chances of survival.  In a genocidal regime in which 1/3 to  1/2 of the population was killed, Arn survived and escaped after five years of torment.  His natural street smarts, his talent with music, and his inner strength were the keys to his survival from the brutality of a depraved government.  If you have read Night by Elie Wiesel and felt the power of that story, then this will be another story for you to read.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Three quarters dead, 100 percent CREEPY

It's almost Halloween so that means I get to talk about a pretty chilling ghost story I just read called Three Quarters Dead.  Although the author Richard Peck writes about all kinds of things, his other supernatural stories--Ghosts I Have BeenAre You in the House Alone? and The Ghost Belonged to Me--are also fast and frightening reads.  Despite having a Gossip Girl cover, it is so much more than a novel about popularity, peer pressure, and the desire to be part of a powerful clique, although these issues set up the supernatural part beautifully! 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Native American in Paris

 "It's 1888 and Paris is a city drunk on its own beauty . . . "

This is the setting for Black Elk in Paris. Its a time in history when the Eiffel Tower was revealed and some were not impressed.  Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show from America is performing and with the show is a medicine man, Black Elk.   He is left in Paris and can only think of going back home.  He is desperately homesick.  Readers will relate with this feeling when leaving home for the first time.  It could be a deep sadness or even come with physical symptoms.  While spending this time in Paris, Black Elk meets Tic-Toc, a doctor and the family he cares for.  One of the daughters, Madou, is fascinated with the medicine man and tired of the conventions and limitations of the time.

Horsley writes this historical fiction about an actual Native American character that did in fact go with Buffalo Bill to Paris.  If you would like to know more about the man and his life check out Black Elk Lives by Esther Black Elk DeSersa.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bachelor Style Dystopia

The Selection by Kiera Cass sounded a lot like an episode of The Bachelor, so I was a little hesitant to pick it up as I have never been a fan of the show.  However, I have been on a dystopia reading spree so I thought I would give it a chance, and I am so glad I did.  It's more of a bloodless dystopia as the major oppression is a fairly strict caste system, that grew out of the remains of the United States.

Sixteen year old America is chosen to be on The Selection, a contest where the Prince will chose the woman he wants to marry.  Unlike every other girl America doesn't want to be there, because she is already in love with someone else.  As she gets to know the Prince, she realizes that he is actually a decent guy and she begins to enjoy her time at the Palace.  She also begins to realize that there are many more problems facing their country than the general population knows about.  These problems give hints of exciting things to come in the sequel, which will be out early next year.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Yay, October!

It's that time of year again--the perfect opportunity to read stories that will make you scared to be alone in your house. And what better way to send shivers up your spine than with that quintessential creature-feature, zombies? The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan serves up the perfect blend of suspense, terror, and gore to make you wish you still had that nightlight.

Mary lives in a small village in the middle of the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Through all hours of the day and night, she and the other villagers are plagued by the incessant moans of the Unconsecrated--undead humans longing for warm flesh. The only thing that separates the living and the dead is a chainlink fence, and when Mary's mother reaches through it to be bitten by her Unconsecrated husband on the other side, lives are torn apart in a way no one imagined.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Just Another Story About a Girl and Her Dragons

Menolly doesn't just love to play music -- she's really good at it. But on her world, only men are allowed to be musicians. Menolly's not good at things that are "women's work," but she's way better at playing the harp than most men. She hardly ever got to play, and at the beginning of the book, even that was taken away from her and she was forbidden from ever playing music again. Ever. I don't know about you, but I wasn't at all surprised when she ran away. I was surprised at what she found, though...Dragons!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

What would your super power be?

One of the awesome things about super hero comics and movies (or I guess really movies based on the comics) recently is how much thought goes into the super hero as a character. Before it used to be a bunch of hokey tag lines with some POW! and BAM! bubbles. Now super heros are people. In some cases, they're kind of a hot mess. (I'm looking at you "Watchmen.") Even if they aren't a full blown walking catastrophe they're still complicated, with secrets and broken families and popularity issues. Perry Moore's "Hero" takes a look at one budding super hero, Thom Creed, who might be approaching hot mess territory. His mother ran off on him and his father. His dad used to be a super hero before a tragedy that resulted in his disfigurement, expulsion from the super hero league, and a lot of deaths. Now Thom has started having weird seizures which may or may not be related to the fact that he can now miraculously heal things. And that's just the tip of the secrets iceberg. When he catches the eye of the local super hereos, he ends up starting on a journey that will reveal his secrets along with the secrets of all those around him. He could end destroying the world... or saving it.