Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

A different approach to the ever-popular vampires and fairy genre - and it really works!

Evie's never known "normal." She bounced around in foster care until her special talents were discovered when she was eight, and since then she's been an agent under protection of the International Paranormal Containment Agency. Her best friend is a mermaid, and she's homeschooled at the IPCA between capture-and-tag assignments. But really, she's a teen who dreams of hanging out at the mall, having a locker, and going out for pizza with friends.

When the IPCA is infiltrated by a supernatural being they can't identify, Evie's whole world is rocked off it's boring old rails. Before it's over she makes a friend, loses a friend, finds herself, and saves the world (while wearing a really pink prom dress).

The book's got a satisfactory completion, yet still leaves itself open to becoming a series. And I'd buy that - I really liked the characters, they experience realistic angst and emotions, and the action (while supernatural and weird) was also believable.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Spanking Shakespeare by Jake Wizner

Although he's really just an unremarkable kid beginning his senior in high school, nonetheless Shakespeare Shapiro believes he's got it rough. His younger brother is popular and dating an actual girl. He's got a funny name. His friends are weird.

But it's that conviction that his life is tragic (while it's decidedly *not*) that makes Shakespeare's story so interesting. It's that teenage certainty that the world revolves around you, and the sun shines only on your planet.

Shakespeare's funny, and the book contains the biographical stories that make his "senior memoir" required for graduation. Will he learn anything by writing his story? Will he win the memoir award? What kind of a big finish will it take to complete the tragic tale? I enjoyed every minute, finding out.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Centuries of June by Keith Donohue

Wow - not what I expected, and yet so, so good.

A guy lands on his bathroom floor, bleeding from the head, in the middle of the night. But just as this occurs to him as a potentially very bad thing, another man appears in the room. Our hero is able to get up, his head wound begins to heal - and a strange parade of visitors to the bathroom begins.

With the overarching storyline of events leading up to the the man's late-night bathroom trip, the bulk of the book is short stories as told by each new visitor to the bathroom. They're from all across time, and each is a fantastical gem on its own. But who brained the man? And what's the link between the tales? It's a story worth the wait.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Any man of mine

by Rachel Gibson

Forgiveness is often hard to come by. Autumn has had nearly six years to come to terms with the way Sam LeClaire, hockey great, broke her heart and left her alone and pregnant. Since the paternity test, he's been an alright dad, but by no means stellar. One conversation changes his view on his own behavior.

Sam has always known that his behavior was reprehensible. He's never felt bad about most of it either. He also never realized how much of an impact his actions had on his child. Sam sets out to put as much effort into fatherhood as he does with hockey. If he happens to realize that the biggest mistake of his life was not having a wild fling in Vegas, but rather walking out on his bride in a callous, heartless manner, then so be it.

I read this in an evening. Autumn and Sam are not the most well-rounded characters, but Gibson manages to make their story ring out with the force of a plexiglass rattling check into the boards nonetheless.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Between shades of gray

by Ruta Sepetys

Think back to your childhood history classes. How well do you remember Hitler's atrocities? How about Stalin's? This is the fictional story of one family taken from their home in the middle of the night.

Lena is a proud Lithuanian girl. Her father is a respected university worker. She sees no reason anyone should want to harm her family and that is why the invasion is such a shock. In some ways, her family is lucky. Mother and children are allowed to stay together through their journey and hardships. Lena's naivete is a problem for her at times, but she also has skills that aid her family a great deal.

Amazingly, throughout the story, Lena manages to see hope in many ways. She makes a friend early on and learns the true meaning of trust. Like any coming of age story, Lena's is one which shows her beliefs being proved both right and wrong.

Lena's story is powerful. It is a reminder of a time in history that many want to forget, but no one ever should. I had two other people read this book before I even returned it to the library.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai

Concerned for the welfare of a favorite library patron, a children's librarian bumbles into an unplanned cross-country roadtrip. But is she trying to save 10-year-old Ian, is she trying to save herself, or is he saving her?

The more you love libraries, librarians, and children's books the better you'll like this novel: Lucy the librarian is a story evangelist, spreading joy and discovery through the books she thinks are important. And without making you embarrassed about the books you haven't read, the author peppers the novel with children's books and characters that you DO know (or are almost certainly familiar enough with to understand).

I loved the way that Makkai keeps you guessing the whole book. What happens? Do they get caught? Do they go to Canada? Is she in jail? (Plus, she makes it hard to find out by sneaking a peek at the last page!)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos

Margaret is a lonely woman with a mansion filled with valuable objects - inkstands, figurines, teapots, and soup tureens. When she decides to take in a boarder, it's important that the objects agree to the situation and get along with anyone Margaret brings into the house.

Wanda is a lost woman, searching for a lost love; she's a perfect fit as Margaret's renter.

Together, the women find friendship, form a great community of motley souls, and heal their hearts. By breaking things.

I listened to the audiobook, and I have to admit I couldn't wait to get in the car to listen some more. It's an odd, captivating book about people out near the fringes of sanity and society. I enjoyed the unexpectedly twisty plot; with several subplots and characters blooming into life, just when I thought I knew where their stories would converge, the book took me off in another direction.