Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Book Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Let me just say that I don't read teen romances...anymore.  Unlike fantasy or mystery or historical fiction, teen romances tend to appeal only to teens, or maybe I'm just a jaded, middle-aged librarian!  I mean when I was a teen, I read romances all the time and loved them--if you haven't read  Mrs. Mike, a classic first published in 1947, you are missing out on some serious, sob-inducing romantic tragedy.  But several friends, whose taste in books I trust implicitly, recommended Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, and I was happy to find that a good teen romance knows no age limits!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Book Review: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

This is a World War II book, set in a period that doesn't seem to run out of
 material for stories that touch us in a deep way.  Tough, smart women are the heroes of this novel, young women using their considerable talents and skills to serve their country in a time of war. I felt pulled into this story because I liked these characters so much that I felt empowered just reading about them.  Maddie is a skilled pilot and mechanic, not the most socially adept, but ethical and loyal. Queenie is smooth and cultured and speaks German fluently and so she is quickly chosen to work in intelligence.  These two young women are drawn to each other and become loyal friends. As Queenie says, they make a "sensational team".  The first half of the book is narrated by Queenie and the second half by Maddie. We find out at the beginning that Queenie has been captured by the Germans in France and is narrating her story to her captors.  As her story unfolds, we find out more and more about how she came to be captured.  We also learn of the strength of her friendship with Maddie.  If you are looking for romance, you won't find it in this book.  Instead, it's a story of friendship and loyalty between powerful women. Read Code Name Verity and you'll feel inspired to tackle challenges in your life.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Book Review: "Counting Backwards" by Laura Lascarson

Taylor lives a troubled life with her mother.  She runs away and steals a car.  Her father convinces authorities to put her in a "therapeutic boarding school", Sunny Meadows.

Already stressed Taylor sees the fence and guards as they arrive.  She suddenly realizes Sunny Meadows is a maximum-security facility.  Angry with her father for sending her to this place she immediately feels trapped.  His last words to her are"Your anger is bigger than you ".  He leaves and at once she can barely breathe.

Her only thought is to run, to escape Sunny Meadows.  Run is a common theme for this story.    Running is how Taylor deals with her feelings and problems.  She makes plans.  In the meantime, she deals with bullies and quirky friends.

Eventually, she realizes the only way out is to pretend and go along with the game.  Then she will run. 

"Counting Backwards" portrays one girl's journey through a psychiatric correctional facility revealing her emotions and reactions to her fellow inmates and those who are there to help her. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Book Review: "Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer" by Katie Alender"Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer" came into my library in November and I was like "OMG I HAVE to read this!!!" The cover is amazing (hot pink bodice!) AND it says "Let them eat cake... and die!" on the back with a Marie Antoinette lookalike holding a giant knife. How can you say "no" to this book?! Very loosely (like almost not at all) based on Marie Antoinette's death, it's a great read with lots of descriptions of Paris and some fun characters.

Colette Iselin attends a fancy all-girls school and when the opportunity arises to travel to Paris with her class, she jumps on it. Little does she know she's flying into a murder spree: wealthy Paris socialites have started turning up beheaded. As if that weren't enough to ruin the trip, Colette discovers a portrait at Versailles that looks exactly like her and a creepy woman wearing 18th century garb starts stalking her.  Colette knows she's involved in the murders somehow but how? And what can she do? Her pampered, stuck up friends are basically useless and she only has a few days before she'll be the one losing her head.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Pawn by Aimee Carter

This book intrigued me when I first read the description on the back cover. It has a strong female character, Kitty Doe, who I instantly loved on the first page of reading. Before I go any further, you have to understand that this is another , yes, another dystopian novel.  It has a similar theme to Divergent in that everyone in society is ranked after taking a test at age seventeen. They are branded on their necks with a number from I-VII to show their level in society. Kitty can't read and unfairly is ranked a III. She looks a lot like Lila Hart, the daughter of the Prime Minister (This story takes place in Washington D.C.---no President??). She's given the opportunity to live in misery as a III forced to leave the people she loves or join the most powerful family in the country as a VII taking the place of Lila Hart, who has died under mysterious circumstances. Of course Kitty agrees, but then finds out there is a catch. Lila secretly fostered a rebellion and Kitty agrees with it. If she doesn't play her part, her boyfriend, Benjy, will be killed. She's also slated to marry Knox, "Lila's" fiance in six months. He's a very likeable guy. Kitty, as Lila, becomes a pawn in the political intrigues of the Hart family. There are so many twists and turns in this story. The characters are great and Lila as Kitty is constantly faced with decisions of what is the right choice. Will the pawn, the weakest piece that takes the brunt of the attack, move forward against impossible odds, and become the most powerful piece in the game? Read and find out.