Monday, June 30, 2014

Side Effects May Vary - Abandoned

Pity the book about teens with cancer that isn't The Fault in Our Stars. I tried the first four chapters of Side Effects May Vary, but the magic isn't there.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Fire with Fire

It's been awhile since I bought Fire with Fire, the second in Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian's trilogy about teenage revenge. It's been sitting patiently on my Kindle, waiting for a good flight. Yesterday was the day and it was worth the wait. I was immediately plunged back into the world of Kat, Lillia, and Mary, all seeking revenge on the popular kids who've done them wrong.

Looking back at my review of Burn for Burn, I really enjoyed the first in the series. The second ramps up the drama even more; everything is more intense and with bigger consequences. I love the subtle differences in the characters' chapters: Lillia describes what others are wearing, Kat uses slang and curses, and Mary seems completely disconnected.

There is a surprising plot twist that reminds me of E. Lockhart's recent, brilliant We Were Here. It makes me want to reread the first two books in the series while I eagerly await the third, Ashes to Ashes, which will be released in September.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Two Boys Kissing

"You have no idea how fast things can change. You have no idea how suddenly years can pass and lives can end. Ignorance is not bliss. Bliss is knowing the full meaning of what you've been given."

With writing as beautiful as David Levithan's, the plot is often beside the point. Happily, the plot of Two Boys Kissing is interesting. Craig and Harry are two teenagers who decide to break the record for the world's longest kiss, over 32 hours. The day of the kiss unfolds in a series of vignettes about other gay boys--one rejected by his family, another starting a new relationship, others who have been together for a long time. The characters are all connected by the event of the kiss. Best of all is the narration, a chorus of men who passed away from AIDS and who look down on the story with wisdom. "We wish we could show you the world as it sleeps. Then you'd never have any doubt about how similar, how trusting, how astounding and vulnerable we all are."

This book could be a lifeline for a reader struggling with sexual identity. For that reader, there are plenty of quotes to hang on to:

"Some of our parents chose to banish us rather than see us for who we were. And some of our parents, when they found out we were sick, stopped being dragons and became dragons layers instead. Sometimes that's what it takes--the final battle. But it should take much, much less than that."

"There are all these moments you don't think you will survive. And then you survive."

Powerful quotes and an engaging plot that could make all the difference for a reader.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Geography of You and Me - Abandoned

"If you were to draw a map of the two of them, of where they started out and where they would both end up, the lines would be shooting away from each other like magnets spun around on their poles."

That's exactly my feeling about Jennifer E. Smith's The Geography of You and Me…we started out close, but ended up very far away. After weeks of trying and reading multiple other books in between, I had to give up on this novel. I'm not sure why I had such a hard time slogging through it, but I realized today that I was doing anything to avoid continuing the book. I deleted it from the Kindle and am ready to move on!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Because of Mr. Terupt

I'm always fascinated by the bond that my elementary teacher friends have with their classes. Spending all day in the same room with the same kids, the teacher becomes another parent to the students.

Because of Mr. Terupt demonstrates the power of this bond. A group of fifth graders have an incredible teacher who enriches their lives until a tragedy strikes and they all try to decide who is to blame.

After Wonder, I've noticed an increase in middle grade novels told from multiple perspectives. It really works in a classroom setting like Because of Mr. Terupt. The short chapters and different voices keep growing readers engaged. Author Rob Buyea tells too many perspectives of the same even for my taste, but I can see middle grade readers getting attached to a character and wanting to know their thoughts.

Best of all, there's a sequel, Mr. Terupt Falls Again. In a twist only a fifth grader could love, Mr. Terupt's class is the only one in the school that will loop he next year. Readers can jump straight to the second book. I'm not in a huge rush to read it, but I'll get there. It's so short and already on my Kindle, so why not?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Bird Box

What's up, guys? Oh, just reading the scariest book I've ever read. Seriously. I started reading Josh Malerman's Bird Box at almost my usual bedtime and ended up staying up all night reading. It's that gripping and spooky.

Summary from Most people ignored the outrageous reports on the news. But they became too frequent, they became too real. And soon, they began happening down the street. Then the Internet died. The television and radio went silent. The phones stopped ringing. And we couldn't look outside anymore. Malorie raises the children the only way she can; indoors. The house is quiet. The doors are locked, the curtains are closed, mattresses are nailed over the windows. They are out there. She might let them in. The children sleep in the bedroom across the hall. Soon she will have to wake them. Soon she will have to blindfold them. Today they must leave the house. Today they will risk everything.

At one point of another, everyone is afraid of the dark. But what if the dark is of your own creation and the only way to stay safe? Living in a world of blacked out curtains and blindfolds, Malorie and her friends know that fear lurks at the edge of their vision. Malerman is amazing at putting the reader in their position. His descriptions keep the ability to visualize just out of reach, which amplifies the horror. There are multiple scenes with characters finding their way around houses, blindfolded, with their hands occasionally brushing against something terrifying that they can identify, or even worse, that they can't. 

Told in alternating chapters between Malorie's present escape with her children and flashbacks to her time in a safe house with other strangers, the reader is filled with sadness for what is going to happen. We know that Malorie is alone in the present, so every interaction with her friends in the safe house looms with upcoming disaster. I didn't want to get attached to these doomed characters, but I couldn't help it. They were so brave and hopeful. 

I anxiously watched the percentage of my Kindle, hoping this wouldn't become a series, so I was happy when Malerman wrapped Bird Box up as a stand alone novel. If this is the excellence of his debut novel, I can't wait to see what he comes up with next.