Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Eyes of the Woods by Eden Fiece


I haven’t read a vampire novel in quite a while, so I appreciated the somewhat new take on an old stereotype.   The beginning felt a bit stilted to me; the dialogue was very formal.  But after the world building was mostly completed, everything seemed to smooth out and flow easily. Eden is only 15, I hope she keeps writing.  Since she can produce a fast paced, interesting twist on vampires at the age, I’m looking forward to seeing and reading what else she writes with more life and writing experiences. 

Favorite quote: (loc. 1749)

    “I don’t even have to look up anymore, Eris.  You’re a sky full of stars.”

Goodreads summary:

Eris Helgren knew her life was about to end. A daughter of the Priory--a generations-old family who protected their territories from nightwalkers--Eris was strong and independent. But on her birthday, her father would announce her betrothal. A year later, she would be forced to marry.

What Eris didn’t know was that the very beings she hunted were watching her, and that being tamed wasn’t what would kill her after all. 

In a land where the woods were forbidden and the laws meant life, Eris will have to make a decision that could bring peace between enemies, or war among friends.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Living by Matt de la Pena


Shy, a half Mexican, half American teen boy is working on a cruise ship this summer to earn money for his family.  It should be easy right?  Hand out towels; smile and make small talk; collect tips.  But on his first voyage he is unable to save a man who jumps overboard.  On his second voyage, someone is asking questions about the jumper, prying at Shy for answers.  All of this happens before earthquakes occur, and tsunamis hit the cruise ship, sinking it.  Finally, the cover makes sense, and the action starts! Eighty. Pages. In.  I’m afraid most of my students won’t give it as long as I did.  (My daughter bailed out at thirty pages or so.)  Once the action starts, it’s fast and furious.  Sinking ships, sharks, disease, conspiracy, and danger lead to the end, only to find out. . .there is a second book. Argh! The end paper says The Hunted coming fall of 2014, but I can find no reference to it on the web! Mr. de la Pena’s fans will have to wait.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales


Elise has talent and issues.  She must decide which she’ll allow to come to the forefront as her school life and her night life start to merge.  Should she stay invisible?  Or be who she’s meant to be? 

I laughed out loud reading this book, earning myself funny looks from the freshman walking by my desk.*  It’s for anyone who ever felt like a misfit, an outsider, or someone who is waiting for their “real life” to start.  Ms. Sales, the author, clearly remembers high school, its various players, and the rumor mill.  The parents are a bit clueless, but sympathetic characters who clearly love their daughter.  Yea. 

Several of my students read this last year and liked it.  We’ll look for more from this author. 

      *p.76  "Then I went in to get scoliosis-tested, and it turns out I don’t have scoliosis, so that was one success.  But also I wasn’t wearing a bra today, which Lizzie Reardon noticed as I was putting my shirt back on after the scoliosis test, so by the end of the day, everyone at school had heard that I was probably a lesbian.  Because if there’s one thing we know about lesbians, it’s that none of them wear bras."  

Goodreads summary
     Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

    Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

OCD, the Dude, and Me by Lauren Roedy Vaughn

OCD, the Dude, and Me Goodreads summary:

With frizzy orange hair, a plus-sized body, sarcastic demeanor, and "unique learning profile," Danielle Levine doesn't fit in even at her alternative high school. While navigating her doomed social life, she writes scathing, self-aware, and sometimes downright raunchy essays for English class. As a result of her unfiltered writing style, she is forced to see the school psychologist and enroll in a "social skills" class. But when she meets Daniel, another social misfit who is obsessed with the cult classic film The Big Lebowski, Danielle's resolve to keep everyone at arm's length starts to crumble.

Stacey says:

Danielle chronicles her senior year of high school as a misfit.  She has OCD, anxiety issues, and no friends.  She does have family who love her; she sees them as perfect.  She wasn’t always the way she is today, but it’s quite a while into the story before we realize that and even further before we find out why she changed.  

In spite of all the angst that Danielle has, OCD, the Dude, and Me is hopeful. She makes friends with an older woman while on her school trip to London, and a boy from her “social skills” class.  It’s through Daniel, we get clues about Danielle’s past.  I’ve never seen The Big Lebowski, but it plays an important part in Danielle and Daniel’s bonding and healing.  

Those who feel alone will recognize Danielle as a kindred spirit.  Perhaps those same people will grow in acceptance of themselves as Danielle does.  Isn’t that why we read, to find others like ourselves, or to experience life through someone else’s eyes?  This is a good book for that purpose.  

Read July 27, 2014