Tuesday, May 27, 2008
By Meg Cabot
(YP FIC CABOT)
Em Watts is an online gaming geek. She and her best friend Christopher, geeky but cute, despise the fashion obsessed contingent of their school's population. Em's point of view changes drastically after she is hit by a plasma TV at a record signing. When she wakes up a month later, she knows right away that something is different. Her voice is different for a start, then her sister keeps looking at Em like she doesn't know her. But what is really unusual is when celebrities, like socialite Lulu Collins and hottie musician Gabriel Luna, sneak into her hospital room to talk to her. And why do they keep calling her Nikki?
Meg Cabot took on several heavy subjects, such as medical and business ethics, and made a story that is fun and thought provoking. Airhead is the first in a series, and it is a good thing too, since Em's story takes on enough issues here for a half dozen books at least. Em is a down-to-earth character who talks tough and uses big words, but who also genuinely cares for the people around her and is smart enough to quickly understand what is happening--one of my favorite traits in a character. Her lack of reaction to the changes in her life is somewhat puzzling, but it is also consistent in how she deals with her snarky younger sister. The cliffhanger ending has me dying for the next book in the series, which is due out this time next year.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Lock and Key
by Sarah Dessen
YP FIC DESSEN
Ruby was making it fine on her own despite her mother's disappearance. Her landlords were just busybodies, and she definitely didn't want to move in with her sister that she hadn't seen for ten years. Ruby doesn't get much of a say in it though, and before she knows it Ruby is living in a Swanky house watching her brother-in-law (the CEO of a website similar to MySpace) build a pond in his backyard. That is, when she isn't watching her cute neighbor swim his nightly laps in the pool. Ruby doesn't trust anyone, and she certainly doesn't need anyone. She finds though as she gets to know her sister again that life isn't always what it seems. When one of her friends needs a friend, she realizes it is up to her to help.
Ruby's tough exterior seems to melt away quickly, but to be fair, she has a lot of incentive to accept this second chance. Both Ruby's sister, Cora, and her brother-in-law, Jamie, are fun and interesting characters. The time it takes to get to know Cora is well worth it. Nate provided interesting contrast, while Ruby's other friends add color and fun to the story.
It took me awhile to get into this book, in large part because of alcohol and drug abuse (normally a deal breaker for me). Since this is a story of second chances, I kept reading, and I'm glad that I did. My one complaint would be that I would have liked to have some dates added to the story. It took me awhile to get a grasp of the time frame. However, the writing was good and I really liked the characters. As always, I want to know what happens to the characters next!
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
The Keys to the Kingdom Series, Bk 1
by Garth Nix
J FIC NIX
Arthur is having another asthma attack as he lays on the grass during P.E., when suddenly two men appear. They're debating between themselves about a key. The one tells the other that since Arthur is about to die, the key should be given to Arthur. Strange things begin to happen though once Arthur has the key. Arthur's asthma is eased, but a plague descends on his home town. Their is only one place that Arthur can go to find answers and hopefully a cure for this new infection, the House.
In the House, Arthur meets many strange people, including Suzy, one of the children led away by the Pied Piper many centuries before. Together they must escape dinosaurs and Mister Mondays' servants Noon and Dawn.
Garth Nix, author of the Abhorsen trilogy, does not disappoint in this newer series. From the beginning, Arthur shows concern for greater things, so that his later courage and resolution is entirely in character. From the beginning, the book is non-stop action, but there are also many shades of gray in the problems that Arthur faces which add depth to the story.
Books one through five are available now at the library, and book six will be available late this summer.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
by Chris Crutcher
YP FIC CRUTCHER
When Ben Wolf finds out that he has a terminal illness, he decides to use the time that he has left to LIVE! He joins the football team, goes on a date with the girl of his dreams, and stands up to his overbearing Civics Teacher. Smart as a whip, Ben finds that every day has something new to teach him, and that even though his time is short, he can still make life count.
Ben challenges the adults around him all the while calmly accepting his own fate. Ben is Mr. Fix-it for all the people in his life, including his super cool younger brother (Big Wolf), his bi-polar mom, and the town drunk. He finds that he can't fix everything though. Hey-Soos, a dream visitor, helps Ben by asking the right questions. A surprise twist of fate makes Ben realize that he has a lot to be thankful for.
Ben's acceptance of his own death wasn't too believable, even with the few moments of mourning thrown in. I kept wondering if Ben took after his mom even more than he knew. I still really enjoyed the book though. The football scenes were intense. With the action narrated in the first person point of view, I felt like I was in the game too--a scary thought! Dallas Suzuki was also very believable to me: tough exterior, vulnerable interior. Ben's big younger brother, Cody, was not so believable, but he was thoroughly likable. What I liked about the book is that through deciding to live, Ben helped those around him to live once he was gone.
Friday, May 9, 2008
Nature of Jade
by Deb Caletti
YP FIC CALETTI
Jade has anxiety problems. On top of that, her friends are getting more extreme...more boy crazy, more grade conscious, more Christian. Her mother is trying to live her life for her, going to dances as a chaperone even when Jade herself doesn't go. Talking to Abe, her psychologist helps, and he challenges her to look beyond the obvious things in her life. Then one evening, through the zoo's online Elephant Cam she spots a boy standing in the elephant viewing area. He has a small baby with him, and she wonders what the connection is. Is the boy the baby's father, brother, uncle? Her curiosity peaked, Jade signs on to volunteer in the zoo's elephant exhibit. She bonds with the new baby elephant and its mother, and worries about an older female elephant that has seen many hard times. As the people in Jade's life begin to spiral more and more out of control, Jade finds an inner strength.
Jade makes for an interesting character. Her anxiety problems seem real, but since she has mostly gained control of them, those issues are not melodramatic and don't take over the plot. The boy's problems however are pretty massive, more than any of them seem to acknowledge. I'd have liked to see more resolution there. Each chapter opens with notes from a book on animal behavior--an author note about that would have been interesting. All in all though, Jade was fun to read about, and I find myself really interested in elephants now!
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
by Gordon Korman
J FIC KORMAN
Capricorn "Cap" Anderson has spent his entire life on what's left of a hippy-style commune. He has been home schooled by his fierce grandmother. His hair is long and shaggy and he wears homemade shoes. He's never seen a TV, rarely used a phone, and has had very little contact with the outside world. He doesn't know a single person his own age or even in his own generation. All that changes though when his grandmother is hurt, and she has to spend several weeks recovering. Cap moves into a foster home until she gets better.
Abruptly Cap is faced with modern life, and modern life in Claverage (C-Average) Middle School no less. The "popular crowd" quickly zeros in on Cap for bullying. As part of a prank, Cap is elected eighth-grade class president. An assistant principal looks the other way as Cap becomes target for spit balls, phoney press conferences in non-existent rooms, and other mean-spirited pranks. Through it all Cap stays true to the ethics of the sixties that his grandmother has taught him (All you need is love...and a little duck tape) and wins the heart of the student body. Of course, driving the school bus to the hospital in a police chase doesn't hurt his popularity either. Before long, Tai Chi in the morning on the school lawn becomes a social event and Tie-dye is the new fashion. When Cap goes missing just before the big dance of the year, chaos commences.
This book is classic Gordon Korman...funny, funnier, and even more hilarious with every page! Cap is a thoroughly likable character: kind and conscientious without a touch of malice. Which is good, because there is more than enough malice in the characters around him. All that changes with Cap's influence as each character undergoes a change of heart.
A fun, lighthearted read.