Books & More
"The memory of having been read to is a solace one carries through adulthood. It can wash over a multitude of parental sins."
— Kathleen Rockwell Lawrence
Monday, September 19, 2016
Different, modern, and a little dark
Title: I am Princess X
By: Cherie Priest
Having already read and enjoyed Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker and Dreadnought (very steampunky and dark books), I was a little uncertain as I approached her first young adult novel, I am Princess X. As it turned out, though my concern about it being too dark was somewhat well founded, I really enjoyed the book. Of course, I personally prefer a bit of darkness to my plots. And this book had just enough to make you care a lot about the characters and what they were/had been going through, but not so much that you would be particularly uncomfortable.
The subjects Cherie Priest addresses are the loss of close friends and children at a young age, the risks of the deeper and darker parts of the internet, and cybersecurity in general. So yeah, very mature and relevant topics going on in this book.
A slow and somewhat sad start leads the reader into a fast-paced scavenger hunt, as May and her new friend Trick hunt for clues about the mysterious accident that took May's friend Libby from her five years earlier. Snippets of the the webcomic about Princess X, the character that May and Libby made up when they were kids, are interspersed among the text. These pages dole out the clues that only May—and the reader—can recognize making for a unique read.
I highly recommend this book for readers ages 16 and up who are looking for something different, modern, and a little dark. It could also be a great stepping stone into reading graphic novels in general. Give this teen read a try and see what you think about its unconventional and very refreshing format.
Sunday, August 28, 2016
Title: A tyranny of pettitcoats: 15 stories of belles, bank robbers & other badass girls
By: Jennifer Spottswood (ed.)
A tour through history narrated by fifteen young women give us a glimpse of what their lives were like during important moments in American history. From pirates in the British colonies, the Yukon Territory, Deadwood South Dakota, and finally to 1968 Chicago, these stories show readers that girls can be powerful no matter what time period they live in. Historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich said it best: "Well-behaved women seldom make history."
Wednesday, August 17, 2016
Life goes on
Title: The Voices Beyond
By: Johan Theorin
Öland is like paradise to the nearly 12-year-old Jonas Kloss. He is going to spend the last summer of the 20th century at the family resort, Villa Kloss, and earn some spending money by painting decks for his Uncle Kent and Aunt Veronica. Little does he know that an evening outing in the sound will turn out to be a nightmare experience: a ghost ship suddenly appears and capsizes his rubber dinghy. To save his life, Jonas has to reach up to the gunwale and climb aboard, only to find a horrific scene of massacre, with dying or dead seamen reaching out to him for help. He screams and flees to the boathouse of Gerlof Davidsson, a retired ship captain.
The ghost ship is not the sole tragedy in this story, only the beginning of a tale of greed and betrayal, murder and sabotage. Nor is Jonas the only one to suffer a childhood trauma. In the summer of 1930, 14-year-old Gerlof was working as a gravedigger in between times at sea. Mysterious knocking noises from the ground prompted him to disinter and reinter Edvard Kloss, Jonas’ grandfather, and frightened to death one of the two surviving Kloss brothers. Digging along with Gerlof was a younger boy, Aron Fredh. The following summer, Aron’s stepfather told Aron that they were sailing to America. The stepfather, a Communist, was lying; the SS Kastelholm was headed for the Soviet Union.
The Voices Beyond (2015) is the 4th volume of Theorin’s quartet set on the island of Öland, where the author regularly visits and collects supernatural tales. The first three installments are Echoes from the Dead (2008), The Darkest Room (2009), and The Quarry (2013). Gerlof Davidsson acts as a main character to connect story lines throughout the quartet. Unlike the previous three parts, The Voices Beyond goes beyond a single time and place, chronicling three boys’ experiences during three different summertimes, and detailing Aron’s life in the Soviet Union from the era of Stalin to the new Russia. Even though Aron’s resolute longing to come back to Öland ends in tragic disillusionment, the author finds hope in the octogenarian Gerlof and young Jonas: sometimes our mind wants to let go, but our bodies are unwilling. Life goes on.
Monday, August 1, 2016
Title: Walk on Earth a Stranger
By: Rae Carson
Leah Westfall, better known as Lee, knows about hard work and how to take care of herself. She’s grown up with her parents in a small town, not far from the 1829 gold rush that took place in northern Georgia. Now, gold has been found in faraway California, and seemingly everyone wants to strike it rich. Even her good friend Jefferson wants Lee to come with him to California, where life will be easy. Lee doesn’t want to get caught up in this gold fever because she has a secret—for as long as she can remember, she has been able to sense gold hidden deep in the earth. While no one knows about this sixth sense, there have been rumors in town that her family has a stash of gold somewhere on their property.
One day, Lee comes home and finds her parents have been murdered. Her Uncle Hiram shows up in town very soon after her parent’s deaths to claim the Westfall land as his own. It becomes clear that her uncle is aware of the rumors of gold on the property. Lee realizes that he must be behind her parents’ deaths, and decides that she must get away while she can. And so begins Lee’s journey to California. She disguises herself as a boy and joins the crew of a boat to meet up with her friend Jefferson and connect with a wagon team headed to California. Along the way, Lee meets many people headed west for the same reasons—the potential to get rich and live a better life in California. But just getting to California may be hard.
Lee has other worries, as well: Will her fellow travelers find out that she’s really a girl? Will her uncle find her?
Will they all make it to California in one piece?
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Fun with history
Title: My Lady Jane
By: Cynthia Hand
1553 turns out to be a very interesting year in England. King Edward VI has been poisoned and apparently is dying. Soon, his cousin Lady Jane Grey will take the throne—but for only nine days. You see, there is also the issue of the Edians, who can change from a human into an animal and who are both feared and respected. One of Edward’s closest advisors, John Dudley, is plotting to get rid of Edward and marry his son Gifford to Lady Jane.
Edward, who has been locked in a tower, manages to escape. Meanwhile, Jane learns that her new husband Gifford is an Edian horse who becomes human at night. (Of course, Jane is the last to know.) Edward’s sister Mary, angry that the line of succession has skipped her, removes Jane from the throne by showing up with an army and imprisoning her. As Jane and Gifford sit in the tower of London, they learn that Edward is still alive. They escape imprisonment and set out to find him and help him do away with Mary. Edward eventually makes it to his grandmother’s house, far away from London. In the course of his journey, he gets help from a Scottish girl named Gracie and his sister Elizabeth, who insists that they ask the French for help.
With a growing army of Frenchmen and a group of unsavory Edians whom Gracie knows, the time has come to take back Edward’s throne from a power-hungry queen.