Thursday, March 31, 2011

Book Review: Exposed, by Kimberly Marcus


Exposed is a fascinating novel about a situation that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Kate and Lizzie have been best friends forever. Once a month they have a Saturday Night Slumber, and never miss this. At one Saturday Night Slumber, Lizzie says things about Kate’s boyfriend that maybe she shouldn’t have, and they end up sleeping separately with Kate downstairs and Lizzie upstairs. After that Kate won’t have anything to do with Lizzie, no matter how much Lizzie apologizes.

Eventually, Kate tells Lizzie that Lizzie’s brother, Mike, raped her at Lizzie’s house that night. Of course Mike flatly denies that it was rape. So begins a story that the reader knows has no possibility of a happy ending.

Lizzie has aspirations of being a photographer and is assembling a portfolio to send to colleges. With this event, she has lost her best friend, her brother, and her will to take photographs. Her entire life has changed. She is treated differently at school and has difficulty with her boyfriend, Brian. 

I can’t tell you how the book ends, but as I said, I don’t think it’s possible to make everyone happy, and of course they aren’t. But there is hope and some healing is taking place.

The book is written in free verse, very sparse, but everything that needs to be said, is said. I’m not a big fan of free verse, but since I admire Ellen Hopkins’ books, I’ve been willing to give others a try, and Kimberly Marcus does an excellent job with this format. 

Give this to teens, particularly girls, who like realistic, edgy books. Also, fans of Ellen Hopkins or other free verse novels. It’s a very quick read—free verse and around 250 pages, so reluctant readers might enjoy this one.

Published by Random House, February 22, 2011
ARC obtained from Random Buzzers (Thanks!!)
255 pages


Rating: 4/5





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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Book Review: The Lipstick Laws, by Amy Holder


The Lipstick Laws is a funny and thought-provoking book about high school girls and cliques. April wants so badly to be in the popular crowd that when Britney pays attention to her, and actually asks her to eat at the popular table, April cannot resist.

The “friendship” escalates, and April goes to great lengths to reinvent herself and conform to Britney’s requirements. Eventually April signs a contract stating that she will follow the seven “Lipstick Laws,” which in April’s opinion serve to only elevate Britney’s status as the most popular girl.

When April breaks one of these laws, she is ostracized, embarrassed, and humiliated repeatedly. Working in a high school myself, I find it hard to believe that these girls were able to reach this level of cruelty without being disciplined. The PE teacher, specifically, was way too naive to be dealing with high school girls.  Matthew, April’s crush, is also too clueless to be believable. But these episodes are necessary to the plot, and can be excused for the story’s sake.

I liked the progression of April. She is out for revenge, forms her own gang of Lipstick Law rejects, and without realizing it, they become much like Britney and her gang.  It takes April a while, but I found her slow realization and maturation to be realistic. The plot is somewhat predictable, but it ends the way one hopes, so that’s not necessarily a bad thing. 

I think high school girls will enjoy this book.  Amy Holder’s story is funny and over the top, but also, hopefully will subconsciously make teens realize how damaging bullying at school can be and also what is the definition of a “friend.”  Don’t get me wrong; this book isn’t deep or preachy. High school years are hard – there’s no doubt about it – and this book, while being entertaining, also has a message.  Maybe it will help some teens to mature a little faster.

Published by Graphia, April 4, 2011
ARC ebook obtained from NetGalley
240 pages


Rating: 3/5





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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Book Review: The Dark and Hollow Places, by Carrie Ryan


Oh my, Carrie Ryan just keeps it going. I continue to be mesmerized by her series, and just completed The Dark and Hollow Places.
 
This book is told from Annah’s point of view (be aware there may be some slight spoilers from the first two books here.) Annah is in the Dark City and continues to wait for Elias’ return. But she ends up meeting Catcher who knows where Elias and Gabry are. Annah hooks up with Catcher to get to them, but in the meantime, the city is being run over by a huge hoard of Unconsecrated, there are thousands of them, and there appears to be no escape. Elias is back with the Recruiters, but they’ve rebelled against the Protectorate, and they are now in charge. The Recruiters are not nice either. They are holed up at the Sanctuary, an island off the coast of the Dark City.

So, which way to turn? To the recruiters, who would imprison them in order to control Catcher, or to a hoard of Unconsecrated (sometimes called Plague Rats, in this volume)?

None of our beloved characters are EVER safe in this book. It is a constant battle for survival, trying to outwit the Recruiters and avoid the Unconsecrated.  They still long for freedom, and you know Ryan is going to put them through hell in hopes of attaining it. And these characters ARE beloved. This book is heart-wrenching, and takes your breath away at the close calls and misery they sometimes must endure. 

Ryan, once again, makes the reader feel connected to these characters and long for them to achieve all their hopes and dreams. There’s romance and tenderness as well as terror. All I can say is she’s done it again… keep it coming!

Recommend this to supernatural fans of all ages. It’s a sure thing….

Published by Delacorte, March 22,2011
ARC obtained from Random Buzzers (Thanks!!!)
374 pages (Qualifies for my 350 Page Book Challenge!)
 

Rating: 5/5





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Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday Memories -- Officer Buckle and Gloria

Welcome to my new meme, Monday Memories, where I'd like to feature favorite books we've loved from the past. You can link to an old review, or write something new about a beloved book from your past. Really, what's important is not the book, but why it is memorable to you. So, have fun reminiscing, and add your link below, so we can all enjoy your memories.
My son was not a reader when he was little (he still isn't.) But, this book, Officer Buckle and Gloria, by Peggy Rathmann, was a huge hit with him. We would read this OVER and OVER and he would belly laugh through the whole thing. That dog just cracked him up, and he couldn't get enough of it. This book won the Caldecott Medal, but at that point, I didn't even know what that was, and it's certainly not why I read the book to him!

Share one of your cherished book memories!
1. Do a Monday Memories post on your blog. Copy my button and link back here, so others can see all the other posts.
2.  Enter your Monday Memories link in the Link List below.
3. Visit some other blogs who have posted their links.









Back to Annette's Book Spot Homepage Copyright © 2011 Annette's Book Spot. All Rights Reserved

Sunday, March 27, 2011

In My Mailbox -- Borders' Going Out Of Business Edition

I happened upon a Borders that was closing while exploring an unfamiliar mall. It's weird that I keep getting emails about a Borders that is closing that is over an hour away from me, but no emails about this one, that is about 40 minutes away!  Anyway, I thought this was going to be a boring IMM week, but after I walked through those doors, I was doomed. I'm only going to tell you about the books that I'm going to read -- I got about double this amount to put in the library. These were all marked 40 to 50 percent off, and then I got my extra 10%, for my Borders Rewards.


 The Lover's Dictionary, by David Levithan
White Cat, by Holly Black
Glimmerglass, by Jenna Black
Stork, by Wendy Delsol
Inside Outby Maria V. Snyder

I, of course, need more books on my TBR like I need a hole in my head. But of course, that doesn't matter. I can't wait to get to these!

Also, I got a new audiobook from the library:


I listened to the first Flavia De Luce mystery and absolutely loved the narrator, so I decided to get the audio version of this one. The only problem is that I just found out I won this book through Random Buzzers, so I might end up reading at least part of it. 

So, I'm understandably excited about my new books for this week. How about you? What did you get? Make sure you go to visit The Story Siren to see all the other blogs participating in IMM this week! Thanks for stopping by.

And...I've been messing with my blog design. Trying to simplify. If you are reading this in a reader, you might want to check it out and let me know what you think. I'm still not sure I'm finished....





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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Book Review: We Are All Welcome Here, by Elizabeth Berg


We are all Welcome Here is the first Elizabeth Berg novel I have read. I actually listened to the audio book, which was read by the author, and enjoyed it very much.

Paige Dunn contracted polio at the age of 22, when she was pregnant, and her daughter, Diana was born while Paige was in an iron lung. Paige is determined to keep her daughter, even though her husband has abandoned her. Paige hires a nanny, Peacie, for her daughter, who takes care of her for the three years she is confined, and then (as Paige is paralyzed from the neck down) takes care of Paige and Diana after Paige is able to come home.

At the beginning of the story it’s 1964 and Diana, our narrator, is 13 years old. She is a typical teenage girl, except for her mother’s condition, and trying to survive a summer in Tupelo, Mississippi. Paige is an exceptional woman, who refuses to let her disability define who she is. She’s amazingly upbeat and realistic about her situation, and tries very hard to be a good mother to Paige.

The story is not very long, and not a lot happens. There are problems with the social worker, because Diana is caring for Paige by herself over night, which must be kept from the authorities. We are in the heat of the civil rights movement, and LaRue, Peacie’s husband gets involved, and ends up in trouble. And, Elvis Presley is from this area, so Diana is a big fan. This isn’t to say that the story didn’t keep my interest. The characters are well defined and fascinating. The book is based on a true story, but I’m sure the fairy-tale ending is probably not part of the truth. We are left with a very happy ending. The ending happens so fast, I kind of felt cheated. Like, I listened to the whole thing and now you are going to tell me in 30 seconds that this wonderful thing happened and they all lived happily ever after?

Elizabeth Berg is an absolutely wonderful narrator. The voices were distinctive and authentic.  The southern accents, the “old lady,” and the African American dialect were done very well and added much to the story, for me.

This is an adult novel, but there may be some mature teens that would enjoy this story. It’s an accurate depiction of the early 1960s, and of the devastating consequences of polio.

Published by Random House, 2006
Audiobook obtained from the library
208 pages


Rating: 3/5






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Friday, March 25, 2011

Happy Friday! Let's Explore Some New Blogs!

Over at Parajunkee's we're asked about some facts about ourselves:

Q. Inspired by the inane twitter trend of #100factsaboutme, give us five BOOK RELATED silly facts about you.

1.  I'm the student (nerd) that used to walk down the hall with a book in her nose during break.

2.  I'm a librarian now, but started out as a math teacher -- kind of a strange background

3.  I don't have a book case in my house. I have some old books in boxes, but mostly give all my books to the library when I'm finished.

4.  I do collect books for my other hobbies, though. I have lots of cookbooks and also sewing and embroidery books.

5.  Sometimes when I finish a book, I can't remember the characters' names. I'm better about this since I blog--that's one reason I do, because I used to read so fast, I'd forget books as soon as I started the next one. Now that I write about books, I remember them a lot better.

Over at Crazy-For-Books, the hop is discussing series books:

 "If you could physically put yourself into a book or series…which one would it be and why?"

I would say, off the top of my head, probably the Luxe series. I want to dress up like that and dance like that.....


So, make sure you visit some of the awesome other blogs participating in the hops! Have a great weekend, and thanks for visiting!



Back to Annette's Book Spot Homepage Copyright © 2011 Annette's Book Spot. All Rights Reserved

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Book Review: The Dead-Tossed Waves, by Carrie Ryan


When I tell people I’m reading a book about zombies, they look at me funny. The Dead-Tossed Waves is so much more than a zombie book. It’s about survival, adventure, family, romance, and even explores what it means to be “alive.”

The main character, Gabry, is the daughter of Mary from The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Gabry has lived a sheltered life, and has been very careful to stay away from the Mudo (which were called the Unconsecrated in the first book.) But her teenage friends, and in particular, Catcher, wants to climb the wall and explore the old abandoned amusement park. Gabry submits to peer pressure, and is very happy when Catcher keeps her behind the others so they can share their first kiss. Suddenly all hell breaks loose as a Breaker attacks the group. A Breaker is a new kind of Mudo introduced in this book and they are fast. They attack like lightening, and as Gabry’s friends are attacked, she escapes back over the wall.

So now the group is either turned into Mudo or they are captured by the Militia and have to stand up to the Council in the village and accept their punishment. Catcher is in neither of these groups – Gabry knows he was bitten by a Mudo, but she is desperate to find him before he turns. But that means going past the walls of the village and risking everything.

This story goes on, building tension, and becoming more and more dangerous for these characters. Ryan writes so you feel like you are right next to these characters. You cry for them, and root for them, and when they are hurt, you hurt right along with them. Here’s an example of what I mean:

Cold terror seeps through my bones, tightens my muscles. In my head I’m just screaming pure panic, trying to swallow it back and focus on what needs doing. Trying to put one foot in front of the other. Not lose sight of Catcher since he’s the only one who knows where the path is. (p. 225-6)

The story is also about Gabry finding out the truth about her past and coming to terms with her fears and her guilt. I think that’s what makes these books special. They aren’t just all running and chasing and killing. These are characters that must come to terms with a world much different than our own, without the security that we feel and Ryan writes incredibly realistic, insightful characterizations that get you thinking about how you would deal with this world and these situations. Here’s an example of that:

I realize that life is risks. It’s acknowledging the past but looking forward. It’s taking a chance that we will make mistakes but believing that we all deserve to be forgiven.  (p. 324)

How can she do that? How can she write such intense TERROR, and then write such insightful thoughts? To me, that’s what is special about Carrie Ryan.

I need to hurry up and finish writing this, because I have a copy of The Dark and Hollow Places sitting right here by me waiting.  I need to KNOW what happens!

I recommend, simply, that you read these books. Even if you aren’t a “zombie” person – please give these a try. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Published by Delacorte, 2010
Copy obtained from the library
404 pages (Qualifies for my 350 Page Book Challenge!)


Rating: 5/5





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