Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Failing Test by J.M. Pierce

Here's a blurb from goodreads about this book:  Test Davis has always been a blur to those around him. He's a shadow like a million other kids--not smart enough for the academic team, not beast enough for the football team, not stuck on himself enough for the drama crowd. In all things Test is just...not, which is why no one ever notices him.

But what happens when someone does notice him-- Nicole Paxton, a cheerleader, no less? What happens on the night that Test finds out there's nothing average about him and that a powerful gift has been hidden within, secretly waiting to be set free and alter his life forever? The question is, will that power save him and those he loves or tear them apart?

The story of Test Davis pulled me in right away.  I became absorbed into what was going on with him, would he wind up with Nicole, would he and his mother mend their tenuous relationship?  To be honest the book was a little heavy on the description, which made it somewhat long as well.  I was grateful that the story was as strong as it was.  The character of Cliff, who comes towards the later portion of the book was fantastic.  Overall, I enjoyed it and would give it 3 swaks.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Evil? by Timothy Carter

Here's a very brief blurb about Evil? from Mr. Carter's site:  Stuart didn’t think what he’d done in the shower was evil. It was his own body, and he can touch himself wherever he wants, right? The people at his church disagree, however, and Stuart suddenly finds himself an outcast and on the run from people who want to punish him for his sin. Has the entire town gone crazy? Or is something supernatural going on...?

I won a copy of this book from Nerds Heart YA ( *my dang computer is giving me fits about posting a link* and want to thank the author for signing the inside and sending it off to me.  I'm going to check out other works of his as well.
Stuart's day starts out rough when he gets discovered by his younger brother "pleasuring himself" in the shower.  He had no idea how quickly things could get so much worse in his little Canadian town.
Stuart is such an awesome character.  His hobby is conjuring demons to question them regarding the realities surrounding his religious upbringing.  Not your average hobby.  One would think the townsfolk would be more concerned with the fact that Stuart is gay, than with his masturbation habit.  Throw a couple of fallen angels into the mix and this story is rockin'. 
I read this in one day.  Stuart made me laugh, I loved his wry sense of humor.  I would recommend especially to boys ages 14 and up.  4 big kisses!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Return the Heart by T.K. Richardson

Here's a brief summary from T.K. Richardson's site:  What if your gift was a curse?

To a casual passerby, Lilly Paige is anything but special. As a seventeen year old, she is faced with all the complications of a teenager, but deep down there is much more. Lilly has a gift, though sometimes it seems to be a curse.

Lilly can peer into the hearts of others - their deepest, darkest secrets are there for Lilly to see - but to what end? Raised by aloof parents, Lilly has been independent her whole life, but soon she will need to rely on her friends to evade an evil that has sold her gift to the highest bidder on the black market. Lilly and her four closest friends are immersed in a dangerous game of cat and mouse, that will not only reveal more about Lilly's gift, but also her link to an old Russian prophecy.

I loved this book!  And I'm not biased because T.K. is my friend.  The growing love story between Lilly and Seth was wonderful.  I liked the suspense surrounding the Russian prophecy that they were a part of.  It kept the pages turning quickly for me.  I reveled in them taking down some of the bad guys.

Lilly was realistic for a 17-year-old girl.  She had self-doubt as so many teenage girls do, as well as a refreshing innocence about her.  Seth was a well mannered, well intentioned, highly intelligent young man.  Claire and the twins, Kyle and Andrew round out the group.

I did feel Lilly's lack of parental involvement or concern was a little troubling, but I liked her Aunt and Uncle.  The lack of parents is nothing new in YA lit and I felt this was handled well by T.K.  I just personally find it disturbing and I felt for poor Lilly. Sheesh, I almost forgot, the cover rocks too!  I did throughly enjoy this book and would recommend for ages 13 and up.  Four big smacks!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Quick Word About Changes

I've been thinking about re-working my blog a bit.  So, I just decided that change is a good thing and delved in and made them.  I've felt this blog needs to reflect more of what it has actually evolved into.  Sooo, it's now called YA Literature Lover. YA'LL come on in and have a look around. :) Thanks for visiting.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

Here's a brief summary of the book from Amazon:  Seventeen-year-old Jenna Fox awakens after more than a year in a coma to find herself in a life—and a body—that she doesn't quite recognize. Her parents tell her that she's been in an accident, but much of her past identity and current situation remain a mystery to her: Why has her family abruptly moved from Boston to California, leaving all of her personal belongings behind? Why does her grandmother react to her with such antipathy? Why have her parents instructed her to make sure not to tell anyone about the circumstances of their move? And why can Jenna recite whole passages of Thoreau's Walden, but remember next to nothing of her own past? As she watches family videos of her childhood, strange memories begin to surface, and she slowly realizes that a terrible secret is being kept from her. Pearson has constructed a gripping, believable vision of a future dystopia. Here's a link to a site for the book - Who is Jenna Fox?

Jenna is slowly regaining her memories after a terrible car accident.  She's trying to work out who exactly Jenna Fox is.  The key lies in a mixture of who she once was, before the accident, and who she has become since the accident.  She has learned a great deal about the new Jenna, and things that were done in the name of saving her life.  There are several points when choices must be made that involve what's right or humane. 

The writing was tight and suspensful.  I was continually surprised by various turns of event.  Jenna's inner struggle with her own questions of humanity were thought provoking.  I liked this book.  It brought about thoughts of where we are going as a society with our technology and life saving abilities.  Who's making those decisions of who receives the best care possible and all life saving measures?  More importantly, who's deciding who doesn't?!  The cover is pretty jazzy.  No sex, swearing or substance abuse.  I say 13 and up.  I give it a solid 3 swaks.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd

Here's a brief summary I took from It’s Dade’s last summer at home. He has a crappy job at Food World, a “boyfriend” who won’t publicly acknowledge his existence (maybe because Pablo also has a girlfriend), and parents on the verge of a divorce. College is Dade’s shining beacon of possibility, a horizon to keep him from floating away.

Then he meets the mysterious Alex Kincaid. Falling in real love finally lets Dade come out of the closet—and, ironically, ignites a ruthless passion in Pablo. But just when true happiness has set in, tragedy shatters the dreamy curtain of summer, and Dade will use every ounce of strength he’s gained to break from his past and start fresh with the future.

I've had quite the run of "boy" books lately. :)  Dade can only think of getting out of his small town and escaping to college.  He really has no one in his corner other than Pablo who's periodically abusive to him.  I think Pablo cares for Dade, but that scares him at the same time.  By the way, that in no way justifies his abuse, but might explain some of it.

Then Dade meets Lucy and Alex.  Lucy is his sounding board and helps Dade to come to grips with who he is.  Dade falls in love with Alex and he shows him what love really feels like.  A love free of abuse, where you are valued and not hidden away.  Dade's mother abuses pills, his father is pulling away and losing himself in an affair, while Dade has a drinking and drug use problem. 

Like life, there was joy, passion, wonder, sadness, grief and cruelty.  I believe being who you truly are holds deep happiness for most people and for some it's too terrifying.  I'm a strong believer in the LGBT adolescents being represented in literature.  This is a great read.  While the ending does have a certain amount of tragedy, there is hope and hapiness for Dade.  The cover is pretty cool really.  Due to sexaul content, excessive drinking, and some druge use, I would say 17 and up.  I give this book a solid 3 1/2 roses.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Here's a brief bit from Ms. Collins site: Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she's afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her more is that she's not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can't prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

I can't believe this, but I apparently forgot to review this book on my blog after reading it.  Let me just say that I really love this book!  Suzanne Collins is the master at storytelling.  It was a pleasure to rejoin Katniss, Peeta, Gale, and the whole gang.  The Capitol nows sees Katniss as a threat.  In a deviously planned twist, she quickly finds herself back in the arena.  How will things turn out for she and Peeta this time?  Will she be forced to prove through marriage her love for Peeta, dashing all hope of ever being with Gale?  This book was fabulous and so quick for me to read.  I can not wait for Mockingjay!  No sex or swearing, so I would give an age ranking of 12 or 13 and up.  Solid 4 stars on this one!  Sorry about spacing off the review until now.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Food, Girls and Other Things I Can't Have by Allen Zadoff

Here's a brief rundown from Mr. Zadoff's site: Life used to be so simple for Andrew Zansky—hang with the Model U.N. guys, avoid gym class, and eat and eat and eat. He’s used to not fitting in: into his family, his sports-crazed school, or his size 48 pants.

But not anymore. Andrew just met April, the new girl at school and the instant love of his life! He wants to find a way to win her over, but how? When O. Douglas, the heartthrob quarterback and high school legend, saves him from getting beaten up by the school bully, Andrew sees his chance to get in with the football squad.

Is it possible to reinvent yourself in the middle of high school? Andrew is willing to try. But he’s going to have to make some changes. Fast.

Can a funny fat kid be friends with a football superstar? Can he win over the Girl of his Dreams? Can he find a way to get his Mom and Dad back together?

How far should you go to be the person you really want to be?

Andrew is about to find out.

Usually, it's girls who are so body concious, or maybe guys just don't talk about it as much.  It was refreshing to see this from a guy's perspective. 

Andrew has a sister who's a pain, an over protective mother, a self-absorbed father, and a huge crush a girl at school.  I loved Andrew's sense of humor.  He was a great character, very real.  He finds himself falling in with the football team, but leaving his old friends behind.  If you reinvent yourself, do you have to turn your back on everything and everyone that came before?  Is it worth it to do so?  In the end where will Andrew find himself?  I believe Andrew finally starts asking himself the tougher questions like: Are the people who liked you as you were from the beginning better or just different?  Shouldn't you do things because they make you happy, not to make others more accepting of you?

I enjoyed this book alot.  I like the fact that those larger messages were there, as well as the fact that the main character was not the drop dead gorgeous guy that all the girls swoon over; he was something much more attractive, real.  Humor coupled with realistic issues kept the pages turning for me.  A memorable part was where Andrew and a rival teammate were discussing their favority poets out on the field.  The cover is cool too.  No sex or swearing, I would say 13 and up.  I give this 3 1/2 roses!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Marcelo In the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

Here's a brief summary from Mr. Stork's website: Seventeen-year-old Marcelo Sandoval hears music no one else can hear, part of the autism-like impairment no doctor has been able to identify.

Marcelo is tagged with a "developmental disorder" because of his pervasive interest in God and all things religious and because he does not relate to others as expected. He's always attended a special school where his differences have been protected. But the summer after his junior year, his father demands that Marcelo work in his law firm's mailroom in order to experience "the real world." There Marcelo meets Jasmine, a beautiful and surprising coworker, and Wendell, the son of another partner in the firm. Marcelo learns about competition and jealousy, anger and desire. But it's a picture he finds in a file — a picture of a girl with half a face — that truly connects him with the real world: its suffering, its injustice, and what he can do to fight.
I realized while reading this book that there is a entire segment of our population, those with disabilities that are under represented in literature today.  So many young adults have ADHD, Autism spectrum disorders, OCD, etc.  Do they not deserve to read about characters who face those same challenges?  Characters who are portrayed as strong and capable, not broken and less than those without disabilities.
I loved Marcelo In the Real World!  He lives in a tree house and that in itself rocks.  He's thoughtful, smart, unique, naive in a beautiful sort of way.  He is pure of heart and just such a phenomenal person.  My son had his own disabilities that he grapples with and I know many other children who do as well.  It was wonderful to see a character with disabilties portrayed in such a capable, heartwarming manner.  There were times where I found myself laughing out loud at things Marcelo did or said.  I wanted to defend him against Wendell and his father.   Seeing his relationship develop with Jasmine is great. 
One of my favorites parts is when Marcelo is talking about his school, Paterson (not the real world) and says:  For all the pain I saw at Paterson, it is nothing compared to the pain people inflict upon each other in the real world....Only how is it possible to live without being numb to it or overwhelmed by it. 

I even think the cover is kinda' magical in its own way.  I enjoyed this book and give it four roses.

Monday, July 5, 2010

By the Time You Read This, I'll be Dead by Julie Anne Peters

Here’s a blurb from Ms. Peter’s website: Daelyn’s been the victim of bullying throughout her life and now she’s simply counting down the days until she can commit her final act on Earth. It’s destiny that she finds a Web site to help her in her quest. She has the motive, the means, and the determination. Then she meets this boy, Santana, who makes her examine her choice of death over life. But is he too late to save her? And is she too damaged to save him?

As a writer it is difficult to approach scary subjects sometimes. But being brave enough to dive in completely, is going to result in a better book. Julie Anne Peters presented the subjects of bullying and suicide in raw honesty. Daelyn was bullied from kindergarten on. She was once an overweight child. While she’s no longer fat, Ms. Phillips understands that it’s the mental self-image that most often sticks with a person and drives those inner demons.

I adore Santana, the guy who begins talking to Daelyn. He’s charming, smart and just plain funny. While he’s not so conventional looking, as I’ve learned over time, true wisdom and life’s greatest lessons can come in the most unlikely packages. This book counts down the days until Daelyn’s final Day of Determination.

While the ending didn’t tie everything up and spell it all out plainly for you, it worked for me. It made me think and consider things long afterward. The cover is gorgeous!  I loved the discussion questions, the suicide prevention information and signs to watch for in the back. I’m giving this book 3 roses.

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