Saturday, December 31, 2011

Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler's The Future of Us

Asher and Mackler's The Future of Us is a total mash up of decade-specific pop culture!  I grew up in the 90's, where the plot of the story takes place, and it was a blast from the past to see references to beepers and Discmans.

The story is told from the point of view of two high school students, Emma and Josh, who live in 1996.  1996 offers the introduction to the home PC, dial up Internet, instant messages, and email accounts for the general populace.

What Emma discovers the first time she logs on to her computer is Facebook (which doesn't become relevant until the turn of the century).  Emma and Josh see themselves 15 years into the future, and don't like what they discover.

The two kids discover how small changes in the present can greatly impact the future: down to spouse, career, location, and happiness.  Ultimately, the two teens learn a very important lesson....

I thought seeing how two kids from the 90's respond to Facebook was hilarious!  For me, Facebook and other social media is so ingrained in my lifestyle that I can't see myself without it.  I don't think twice about logging into Facebook to read other status updates or post my own.  And they are usually one or two lines and just as insignificant!

I'm sure that the writers' vision of the story ended the way it was supposed to.  Throughout the novel, Emma and Josh are logging onto Facebook to see how their present day choices impact the future, and we see what's to come of them.  As the reader, my wish is to see what happens to Emma and Josh post Facebook. Since we aren't able to see into our own futures, or get an epilogue for that matter, I see why the story ends the way it does.

Now, every time I make a decision, I can't help but wonder what impact it will have on the future me!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

April Henry's Girl, Stolen

Henry's Girl, Stolen is an action packed tale of a teenage girl, who is also blind, who has been kidnapped by mistake. 

Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of her stepmother's SUV when someone steals it, not realizing that she is in the backseat. When her kidnappers realize that she is in the car, and is blind, Cheyenne must succumb to the realization that she might never make it home alive.

Personally, I don't know anything about what it's like to be blind, or the coping skills that a blind person must master to be independent and successful in life.  I think Henry's portrayal of Cheyenne's character gives a lot of insight into how a person with a visual handicap might live, and subsequently how they are treated in society.

The story is told from two perspectives, Cheyenne and her kidnapper Griffin's. The reader is allowed to see how the victim and perpetrator struggle with their situation, and try to figure out what to do.

I also think this novel is good for young teens to read, simply because it allows them to put themselves in Cheyenne's situation.  Kids don't often think they can fall victim to kidnapping or other tragic circumstances, and hopefully kids will see how important it is to be aware of their environment.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Caroline Hanson's Love is Fear- Not for kids

You know how authors will say that their books are like their babies?  Well I feel like this one is a niece or nephew, or maybe even a distant cousin, because I got to read it before it was published.  Needless to say, my review might be a bit biased.  Just a little.

Valerie Dearborn finds herself in a pickle... again.  This time it's  not just the metaphorical one that signifies one being in trouble (catch my drift?).  Val is an empath, which is a type of supernatural being which can provide balance between weres, vamps, and now fairies.  Unfortunately, all the supes have their own agendas, and want to use Val for their own purposes.

I'm oh so excited that Hanson has brought back more of the historical aspect with the disappearance of Roanoke settlers.  She provides a fantastical explanation: that the Fey king tried to protect all the living fairies in a spell gone wrong.

I'm predicting that the next book will give more explanation of the Fey agenda.  Also, there's some drama between Rachel, Jack, and Val that needs to be addressed. Oh, and all the trouble Val's gotten herself into with Lucas.  How will this all pan out?

Oh, and ooh la la! Val and Lucas finally do it already. Bown-ch-ch-wow-wow! The scene goes on forever and it is HOT!

As I read, I thought of several songs that could go with the characters and the plot lines.  With some of them, you have to take the song out of context and look at the lines individually.  With author's permission, maybe I might do an additional blog with the soundtrack.  But for your reading pleasure, here is a song that Hanson thought fit Val's character, and I agree.

Snow Patrol- Out in the Dark

Enjoy!  I know I did....

Monday, December 19, 2011

Douglas Dorow's The Ninth District

Dorow's The Ninth District is a suspense thriller about a bank robber and an FBI agent.  Anyone who has read or watched a suspense thriller has seen one with a heroic FBI agent that saves the day, right?

The Ninth District is unique in a few ways.  The point of view switches back and forth between the perspectives of Special Agent Jack Miller and The General, the-crazy-killer-bank-robbing-mastermind.  Through alternating perspectives, Dorow builds character and allows the reader to get to know the characters.  He also fills the reader in on plot clues, at the just the right times, which allows the reader to fill in pieces of the plot.

Earlier I said that he builds character.  You do get to know all the characters really well, except for The General.  As the reader, I would like to explore more of The General's motivation and even his psychological health.  Why did he shoot and kill a pregnant woman? What about his life made him so heartless?

Maybe I wasn't reading closely, but I'm hazy on how the FBI agents learned the identity of The General.  Miller comes to the realization of what TG is after on a family outing.  When he calls his partner Ross, we learn that the FBI already had information on TG. And then we are all of a sudden have a search warrant and we are in TG's apartment..... I really wish that detail wasn't left out, as Dorow takes so much care to include all the other necessary details.

Overall, it was a nice break from some of the other genres I have been reading lately.  I wasn't at all disappointed, and I downloaded two more suspense thrillers.

Thanks, Doug!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Stephanie Nelson's Craved

Nelson's Craved is a story of supernatural beings cohabiting in the small town of Flora, where someone has been killing witches for their blood.  Cool concept, right?  I think it's best if I review this novel with "glows" and "grows," since this is her first book and I am but a novice reviewer.

Glows:  I love the catchy names she has for the businesses in the town.  Gwen Sparks, our witchy heroine, owns a bookstore called "Broomsticks."  The local coffee shop is called "Espresso Self."  Her take on vampires becoming addicted to witches' blood, called brew (another catchy name), is interesting.  Overall, the plot is suspenseful and engaging.  The love scenes are steamy, and the characters are likable enough to keep interest.

Grows: Since Nelson created an entire city dedicated to supernaturals, there needs to be some back story on how this came to be.  She briefly mentions that the humans didn't want to live with them, and that leads me to believe that there are some segregation issues or past events that need to be explained.  Nelson develops Gwen's character nicely, but I feel like the other characters are superficial.  What made Aiden Blake fall in love with her so quickly?  Why does Fiona seem like such a ditz?

There were also some editing mistakes that drove me a little batty.  There was a discrepancy in how long Gwen had been out of the relationship with Micah. It doesn't have that great of an impact on the story, but still.  There was also some grammatical mistakes, but that could've been formatting issues.

I can see the direction that the next novel is taking, and it will be suspenseful and entertaining.  I do feel like there are some other plot lines that could be followed, especially if we get more back story on Flora.  I could see Ian endanger towns full of humans to get to Gwen- and then maybe humans and sups might have to overcome their differences and work together.

I did enjoy reading the book, and I will read the other Gwen Sparks installments.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Mark Edward Hall's The Fear

I tried my hand at horror again, and I thought this was pretty good!  Honestly, I was pretty scared because the cover looks all creepy (I'm learning that the horror stories with religious connections and EXTREME gore are the ones I have a hard time with).  I am guilty of judging books by the cover (I do it all the time), and this is one instance when I'm glad I didn't.

The Fear is a novella, about 65 pages and a pretty quick read.  The story centers around socially awkward Mitch, who has some serious "momma issues."  He wakes up from a living nightmare, completely covered in blood, and afraid.  Legitimately, seriously, afraid and he can't figure out why.  The nightmares are similar to the ones he had as a boy that were connected to a string of mysterious murders in his small town of Eden.

As Mitch solves the mystery behind his nightmares and the murders, you will find that there's more sustenance than just gore and scary images.  Irony is a bitch, Mitch.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Brian Selznick's Wonderstruck

If you don't like this book, then I'm calling the doctor.  Something's wrong with you.

But seriously, Brian Selznick writes for a versatile audience.  Kids from the age of 9 all the way to the oldest of adults can find something to appreciate about this book.  He combines immaculate illustrations with text to complete an entire story.

Ben, an orphaned and deaf boy, goes on a journey to find his father and discovers much, much more about himself.  I don't want to reveal too much more of the plot because I want you to discover Ben's story with him, and have a "wonder struck" feeling of your own.

Usually I don't have a preference for a novel in regards to the physical book or download.  In this case, I would recommend buying the book if you can.  There is just something about turning the pages and seeing the story unfold in your lap.

Even though I'm writing about Wonder Struck, let me just go ahead and put in my endorsement for The Invention of Hugo Cabret.  Brian Selznick, I wish I had half of the talent that you have in your pinky finger.