Monday, July 29, 2013

Swans and Klons by Nora Olsen

Swans and Klons by Nora Olsen

Set in a future dystopian society where men have degraded into a useless non-intelligent state, women run the Society that sixteen year old Rubric lives in and there are no males at all except for the ones who live outside of the wall in the Land of the Barbarous Ones. Women are either human or Klons, who have been "genetically modified" to be stronger and more hard working so that they can be slaves. When Salmon Jo, Rubric's schatzie, which is a German word that means sweetheart - the book uses German words periodically as well as some made up words - finds out that Klons are humans just like they are and that in reality there have not been any genetic modifications, the two girls set out to free the Klons in an adventure that has it's downfalls, but tends to conveniently work out fine for Rubric.

I found the setting to be underdeveloped. If the women have the scientific technology for producing babies entirely outside of a human body, then surely they should have the technology for communicating with the rest of the world. In fact, they most likely would need to since they probably could not have all the raw materials necessary for that kind of technology all in that one small area.

I was also sad that an all female society would have slavery. I had hoped that it would be more utopian than that.

I did not really like the characters either. Rubric seemed very selfish and self-centered and none of the other characters were very well developed.

I got this book free to review from Netgalley.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Clara's Heart by Joseph Olshan

Clara's Heart by Joseph Olshan
I found this book to be well written and captivating, but rather disturbing. It is the story of David, who ages from 8 to 13 during the story, and Clara, the Jamaican housekeeper who is his best friend. David's parents have a troubled marriage and eventually they divorce leaving David spending more time with Clara than with his parents during the time the story takes place. Venturing into voodoo and sexuality, the story takes some bizarre twists and turns which I found rather disturbing. I have not seen the movie, but I looked at a trailer for it and the characters are not the way I pictured them from the book. It looks like the movie may be lighter than the book, which has some dark parts. I plan to watch the movie soon. I got this book free to review from Netgalley.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Finding Colin Firth by Mia March

Finding Colin Firth by Mia March

It's chick lit about chick flicks and motherhood and marriage and relationships.  And it's really good!  I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story that meshed the stories of three women in a small town in Maine together.  And Colin Firth?  He is making a movie and part of it is set in their town.  Will they get to see him? 

Bea is 22 years old when she receives a letter from her mother, who passed away a year earlier.  Bea's mother wrote that Bea was adopted, which Bea had never known.  She goes to the small town of Boothbay Harbor Maine, to see and perhaps meet her birth mother.

Veronica is Bea's birth mother who got pregnant and abandoned by her boyfriend and family at age sixteen.  She has moved back to Boothbay Harbor this year to try to resolve lingering issues and she has always hoped that her daughter would someday find her.

Gemma is a reporter who was recently laid off from her job and who just found out she is pregnant.  She and her husband have different goals for their lives and Gemma decides to spend a few weeks in Boothbay Harbor where she was going to visit a friend and attend a wedding to try to think things out.

When Gemma is asked to write a story about Hope Home, the home for unwed teens in town, the three women's lives are entwined as they befriend one another. 

Fraught with references to Colin Firth movies (the only one I have seen is "The King's Speech" and now I think I want to watch some others), homemade pies, romance, regrets and hope, I found this to be a lovely book and I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Closed Doors by Lisa O'Donnell

Closed Doors by Lisa O'Donnell
Eleven year old Michael tells the story of the secrets that he hears listening behind closed doors - about his town, gossip, and the thing that left his mother battered. They tell him to say that she fell down the stairs, but he and everyone else knows that is not the truth. The story is set in a small town on an island in Scotland in the 1980s. Afraid that the town will gossip about her and place the blame on her, Michael's mother is afraid to tell anyone what happened to her, but hiding things does not make them go away. This is a disturbing story about disturbing events, as seen through the eyes of an 11 year old boy. It is well a written book about a tragic event and the way that people gossip and judge one another as seen through the eyes of a child who learns about things that children his age should not need to know about.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
Told alternately in the voices of seventeen year olds Josh and Nastya, this is a sad, yet compelling story of how they deal with the tragedies that life has dealt them. It is a story of friendship and love and tragedy and hope.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Keeper of Reign by Emma Right

Keeper of Reign by Emma Right
I got this book free to review from Netgalley. It sounded interesting, but it is poorly written with awkward wording and some editing errors. It is confusing and just not really worth struggling through to the end. I got about 1/3 of the way through it and started skimming to see if it would get better, but it really does not.
It is Christian themed about creatures who are half elf and half fairy who are trying to save parts of a secret book from the bad guys. Jules and his four younger siblings set off on a journey to find their mother and or her book and or their grandparents - all of whom have disappeared. Because they are small, they face horrible dangers like birds and insects who want to eat or capture them. I cannot recommend this book.

Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn

Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn
Incredibly suspenseful, amazingly creepy and disturbingly gruesome, and a fantastic book. I don't like gruesome usually, but this book is intriguingly different and full of the unexpected. YA Paranormal romance with some really creepy and gruesome twists. Annaliese is 17. She has been missing for a year. She remembers nothing. The last thing everyone saw of her, she was screaming and covered in blood. Then, she disappeared. Now she is back. But she is not Annaliesse anymore even though everyone thinks she is. So, who is she? What happened to her? Can she escape her destiny? This book is chillingly creepy and suspenseful and unique and different. I actually enjoyed it a lot even though gruesome is not usually my genre. The suspense and the plot are so intriguing that it just makes an amazing book.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Brightest Kind of Darkness (Brightest Kind of Darkness, #1) by P.T. Michelle

Brightest Kind of Darkness by P.T. Michelle

I got this book and read it after having read "Ethan", a shorter companion book. I found "Ethan" to be a bit confusing and thought I would understand more if I read this book. I still found quite a bit of it confusing. Nara dreams about the next day every night and uses that as a guide to do well each day. It works for her until she interferers. When she dreams that a bomb goes off in her high school, she calls in a bomb threat and saves people - or so she thinks. But, then she meets Ethan, who she really likes, she loses her dreams and strange things start happening. People who like teen paranormal romances will most likely enjoy this book. I found some of the plot elements too unbelievable and odd though.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Shadow Embraced (Haven, #1) by Cheree Smith

Shadow Embraced by Cheree Smith

Scar - short for Scarlet, is a violent teenage Dhampire (half human and half vampire) who is taken from the human world to a school for teenage vampires, werewolves and witches. She participates in an underground fight club albeit not necessarily willingly. She has a boyfriend named Daemon and she fights to hide the fact that she is a Dhampire since they are feared and usually killed. Fighting her inner demon - and occasionally letting it loose, she saves the students at her school from a power hungry teacher gone astray. The story is quite violent and could use better editing. I got the book free to review from Netgalley.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Magical, fantastical, chilling, amazing, creative and superb. I totally enjoyed this paranormal mystery story. Blue's mother is a psychic and Blue herself amplifies other people's psychic abilities. When a spirit talks to her and she sees him, her adventure begins with Gansey - just Gansey, and his friends Adam, Ronan and of course Noah. None of them, except for perhaps Noah, had any idea just how bizarre things would get as they searched for a ley line. Wonderfully imaginative book. I highly recommend it and look forward to reading the next one.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

So sad, beautiful, sad, amazing, sad and lovely. A bit overdone on the romance/sex part, but just a great story of overcoming hopelessness and despair and a teenage love story and more.

The Book of Nonsense (Sacred Books #1) by David Michael Slater

The Book of Nonsense by David Michael Slater
Daphna and Dexter are 12 year old twins whose mother died in a tragic accident shortly after they were born. Their father has carried on their mother's career of rare book dealing and travels a lot. A couple of days before their 13th birthday, he comes home from a trip with yet another set of rare books. Daphne goes with him to sell the first book at a new book store full of books about magic that she has been visiting all summer. When her father meets the ancient bookstore owner, things begin to get strange. She is convinced that the bookstore owner has hypnotized her father or something. She and her brother are then drawn into a mystery trying to save her father and save the book from the bad guys. It is a cute magical mystery story for middle school kids.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

My Isl@m: How Fundamentalism Stole My Mind - and Doubt Freed My Soul by Amir Ahmad Nasr

My Isl@m by Amir Ahmad Nasr
I think this book should be a must read for high school and college students. Everyone else should read it too, but I think it should be required reading in schools. It may be too controversial to make it in high schools, which is sad, because I think that high school students would benefit from reading it - I recommend it for grades 11 and 12 and totally definitely for college.
The book in an intriguing and interesting story of how Amir, a Sudanese Arab living in Malaysia, entered the blog sphere when he was in college and became part of the social media events that have been transforming Muslim countries.
He tells about anti-Jewish indoctrination and hatred that was taught at one of the Muslim schools he attended as a child, which his parents disagreed with and they took him out of that school. Sadly, many Muslim schools do teach children to hate Jews and the US and to pray for their deaths.
Amir chronicles his struggles with the Muslim religion and religion in general which lead him to read many atheistic and philosophical books and articles.
In the end, he chose to participate in Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam which says that God is Love and sounds very much like it holds many of the same ideals as Christianity.
He did not explain how he reconciled himself with the wife-beater verse and others like it in the Koran.
Amir sees the internet and social media as a way to change the face of Islam and to make it a kinder, gentler, more open religion. I appreciate his youthful optimism and certainly we have seen that social media can indeed make a difference in politics.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Pure by Terra Elan McVoy

Pure by Terra Elan McVoy
I had heard about the purity ring thing before and saw it discussed on a tv documentary about teen sexual behavior. The purity ring concept was seen as being over the top creepy and controlling on that show. This book shows that side of the purity ring concept as well as how it looks and feels to people within and on the fringe of it. Fifteen year old Tabitha goes to church with her friends because her parents are not Christians - or at least not church attenders. Her best friend Morgan's parents are really into the whole purity thing and give her a purity ring with a big ceremony and such after the girls attend a purity conference at church. Morgan gives Tabitha a purity ring of her own and they along with 3 other girlfriends wear their rings proudly for years. Until one girl renigs on her purity promise and the 5 girls have major trouble within their friendships. Toss in Tabitha's new boyfriend and the near riots at school caused by Morgan's purity group chanting before school, and a whole slew of issues erupt. I think that jr high and high school girls will enjoy this book.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Language of Sparrows by Rachel Phifer

This book brought me to tears more times than I could count.  It is a beautiful story of overcoming sorrow.  Fifteen year old Sierra cannot even remember her father who died two years earlier.  Why is that?  Why is it that an old man in her neighborhood is her only friend?  Sierra, her mother, Luca, and his son Nick, and Sierra's mother all have issues to work through.  Together, with some prayer, in this beautiful novel they do that.  I got this book free to preview from Netgalley.  I found it amazing and I highly recommend it.

Second Hearts (The Wishes Series #2) by G.J. Walker-Smith

Second Hearts by G.J. Walker-Smith
Ok, since the first book had the first few chapters of this second book in it, I was curious enough to buy it and read it. It was ok. I guess that Adam's whole attraction to and love of Charlie is simply sexual. He lies to her about his goal of staying in New York and is rather a jerk. Charli shows some spunk in dealing with the rich bitches and Adam's mom, but she is still rather wimpy in ways. She whines about having nothing to do while he is at school all the time. Why couldn't she take some initiative and get her GED and/or take some classes? With all that money she could buy a better camera and take her portfolio to magazines and become a National Geographic photographer or something. I really don't know what she wants out of life, nor it seems does she. I liked all the fairy stories, but I did not think it was a great romance or anything.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Saving Wishes (The Wishes Series #1) by G.J. Walker-Smith

Saving Wishes by G.J. Walker-Smith
I had a difficult time relating to and understanding the characters in this book. Charli, a 17 year old high school senior, has serious low self-esteem. And then along comes Adam, who has been drawn to her hometown due to a photograph that she took and had made into postcards, one of which, his aunt, Charli's French teacher, sent to him. He is inexplicably in love with Charli, and really, I never can figure out why. Both of their characters seem flat and not well developed. The first part of the book is kind of boring. Then, all sorts of secrets and plot twists come out which make it more interesting. You finally get to see some of Charli's personality. I got this book free from Netgalley.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Next Year In Israel by Sarah Bridgeton

Next Year in Israel
This book is not really about Israel. Israel is just the setting where Rebecca goes to school after attempting suicide due to years of being bullied at her school. She enjoys her 4 months in a school in Israel while learning to be her own person rather than the wimpy victim that she had been for years. 

So, I bought the next book, which is called a "short story" - This year at Home"
This Year at Home
Honestly - it is just the last chapter of the book Next Year In Israel.  It really should just  be in the first book.  I think adding it on later is a sad attempt at getting more money by selling it separately.
It is a nice ending for the story, but is not a separate book.

Since You Asked... by Maurine Goo

Since You Asked by Maurene Goo
Holly Kim is in 10th grade and writes for the school newspaper. When she accidentally turns in a column that she edited into a satire instead of the correctly edited copy of the column, she gains her own newspaper column and notoriety in school. She talks a lot about her Korean parents not understanding the American culture and her struggle to fit in and do what she wants. She chronicles her adventures with her three best friends, Carrie, Liz and David and talks a bit about racism and culture and high school culture. The book is cute and high school kids may enjoy it. I got this book free to review from Netgalley.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Mind Readers by Lori Brighton

The Mind Readers by Lori Brighton

Frightening, disturbing, teen romance paranormal thriller. Cameron is 17 years old and has lived her entire life with her grandmother hiding her mind reading abilities. She is tired of running and hiding and of being afraid to try to help people when she knows other people are going to do something bad. When devastatingly handsome Lewis comes along and tells her that he can take her to people who will help her to use her mind reading abilities in a positive way - and that these people were friends of her deceased father - she goes with him willingly. But, all is not paradise there either. She hears crying at night and finds that Aaron, who is running the place, has kidnapped children with psychic powers in order to use them for his own purposes which he claims are noble, but she doubts that. And what about Lewis, who claims to love her? Ending with a cliffhanger, the next book promises to be similar. I got this book free to review from Netgalley.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

The Spectacular Now
I read this book because it is on a list of books to read before the movies come out. It starts out with a sort of Ferris Buhler feel. Sutter is a happy go lucky, usually drunk high school senior who loves life. Then his girlfriend breaks up with him and he begins going out with Aimee - just to boost her confidence. In the end, he does boost her confidence, but he is still drinking to find happiness, which is just sad. It will be interesting to see how they change it as a movie.                  

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Untimed by Andy Gavin

Steampunk time travel. Interesting and imaginative. Charlie's dad and Aunt Sophie travel most of the time and his mother and everyone else cannot remember his name. Months after some unusual police officers come searching for his father, Charlie sees one of the police officers winding himself and follows him down a hole that lands him in London in 1725. Once there, Charlie meets Yvaine, who is also a time traveler. She teaches him that girls can travel forward in time and boys can travel backwards and the Tick Tocks - the mechanical men - hunt down the time travelers and kill them. After they accidentally get Ben Franklin killed and change history, Yvaine and Charlie travel back and forth in time to find his father and aunt and try to set things right again. This is a fun and imaginative time travel story for teens and adults.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley

Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley
Creepy psychological thriller about a girl who was kidnapped at age 13 and returns home at age 16 with no memory at all of what happened during those three years. Through therapy, she learns that she has multiple personalities that helped her deal with that time and an earlier time in her life when she had also been abused. The book deals with her treatment and trying to contact and erase or else merge with her various personalities. The book is sad and disturbing and very well written.

Through the Door by Jodi McIsaac

Through the Door by Jodi McIsaac
Cedar's boyfriend Finn, the love of her life, disappears without a trace before she can tell him that she is pregnant. When their six year old daughter Eden begins opening doors to other places - like opening her bedroom door to Egypt, Cedar tries once again, with the help of a friend, to find Finn, who used to talk about magic as if it were real, to see if he knows what is going on with Eden. When she find's Finn's family, her mother, Maeve, freaks out and is full of hatred towards them. I thought that Maeve was too secretive and I did not like her character. It is an interesting Celtic magical story, but had loose ends, like Cedar's friend Jane, who we never hear about again once her role is filled and Cedar's job - do they try to contact her when she just disappears? The book is well written and edited, but the characters seem to lack depth. I got this book free to review from Netgalley.