Friday, November 7, 2014

Double Feature Friday

Blue Sargent has been told her entire life to stay away from the Aglionby Academy boys.  Aglionby boys come from upper-class, wealthy families, and they will do nothing but cause her trouble.  It's not too hard for Blue, who attends the public high school in Henrietta, Virginia.  She occasionally sees them at the pizza place she works at during the evenings, but keeps her distance.  Blue comes from a long line of female psychics,  her mother, her aunts, and their collection of female friends.  Only, Blue isn't psychic, but anytime she's near one, she increases their power.  Blue isn't sure why her energy increases their abilities, but she doesn't question it.  
However, Blue meets Gansey and his pack of "Raven Boys" and is instantly drawn to them.  Ever since she can remember, her family has told her she will kill her true love. This has never been a problem- until now.  She begins helping the boys as they try to locate the dead king, Glendower, who they think is buried somewhere near their private school.  Blue is able to use her energy to help the boys try to find a ley line that will them lead them to Glendower.
This is the first book of the Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater, the third book, Blue Lily, Lily Blue was just released, so I thought I would give the series a try.  It's very out there- lots of supernatural, paranormal, and to me a bit confusing.  I like it, and I have students who love it, but I have had the second book on my desk for about a week, and can't bring myself to open it.  The writing is amazing, very detailed and full of beautiful language, but I didn't find myself loving this one.

Jam Gallahue lost her true love.  This sent her over the edge, unable to get out of bed, stop crying, or return to her herself.  Unsure of how to help her, her parents send her to The Wooden Barn, a boarding school for the emotionally fragile, in rural Vermont.  At first, Jam begs to come home, but her parents insist she stick it out for the first semester.  She is placed in a Special Topics in English class, with only four other students.  The class is focusing on Sylvia Plath, and given special journals to write in, as Plath did.  When the five students write in their journals, they are transported back to the tragedy that has sent them to The Wooden Barn.  For Jam, that means feeling Reeve's arms around her again.  They begin calling the place they return to Belzhar.  But what happens when the journal is filled?  As the students make their way through the semester, they form a tight bond.  Will this bond be strong enough to make them want to leave Belzhar, or stay there forever?
I had a hard time putting this book down.  It's short, and the tragic stories of the students kept me interested.  The ending is a big, twisty surprise, I thought I had it figured out, and wanted to see if my theory was true.  The biggest issue was with Jam and her obsession with her lost love.  She had only known him for 41 days, but then again, that is why she is at The Wooden Barn in the first place.  I would recommend this book to students because I think they would also want to know what happened to Jam.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


It's the last weekend before school starts.  A group of five kids, just about to start their senior year, go out to celebrate their final Saturday night of freedom.  Maxie has just moved back, after being gone five years.  Emma and her neanderthal boyfriend, Brendan, Chloe, Anil, and the loner Felix are headed out together, even though none of them are really good friends.  The night is kicked off with alcohol and drugs, but ends in a truly terrifying way.  The tragedy catastrophically changes each one of them.
Ghosting is told from each character's point of view, with Emma's little sister, Faith, also having her own chapters.  I'm not a fan of novels written in verse, but I picked this one up randomly, and wanted to find out what happened.  It's a VERY quick read, written as if you are in the mind of each character.  It gives all different perspectives of what happened that night, and the ever-lasting effects.  I liked this book OK, and would recommend it to a student looking for a quick read.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Strands of Bronze and Gold

Welcome to Wyndriven Abbey.  Mississippi, 1855.
Sophia Petheram has a wealthy godfather.  A godfather that has given her gifts of jewels, clothes, riding lessons, for her entire seventeen years.  And even though she has never met him, she is leaving her siblings in Boston to go live with him on his plantation in Mississippi.  Her mother died when she was an infant, and with the sudden death of her father, Sophie is going to live with M. de Cressac and his wife.  Only when Sophie gets there, she discovers his wife has been dead eighteen months.  It's too late for her to return to her family, she would be a burden to them, so she stays.  In the beginning, Sophia is charmed by M. de Cressac.  He has traveled all over the world, and gives her costumes and dresses to wear from different cultures.  He makes sure all of her needs are tended to.  Sophia even begins to fall in love with him, imagining what it would be life to be his wife.  Gradually his dark side begins to show.  He owns slaves, which Sophia is strictly against.  He has been married four times, but refuses to discuss his former wives.  He doesn't allow her to go into town, or attend church, and Sophia becomes very lonely.  She intends to leave at Christmas, when her family comes to visit, but de Cressac keeps his lock firmly on her.  As Sophia begins to discover the truth of Wyndriven Abbey, she realizes her godfather is much more dangerous than she thought possible.
This novel is a twist on the fairy tale of BlueBeard.  I had not read the story, and Googled it, so what happened in the novel wasn't a huge surprise.  There is a ghost element, so this would be a great book to give to students who like historical fiction and ghost stories.  I read this based off of a strong recommendation of a book club member, and when she discussed it at the meeting, many students were also interested in reading it.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Dustlands Trilogy

Saba and Lugh are twins, born at the midwinter's moon, to parent's who live a solitary life on Silver Lake.  The world has been ravaged by dust storms, and the only other person they see is their neighbor, Procter.  Saba and Lugh's mother died in childbirth, leaving a distraught father who reads the future in the stars.  It's up to Lugh and Saba to take care of their little sister, Emmi, and take care of their homestead.  After a violent dust storm, that leaves the earth covered in red dirt, 5 riders appear.  They kill Lugh and Saba's father, and take Lugh off with them.  Saba is determined to find him.  She leaves Emmi and heads toward the nearest town.  However, she is captured and forced to become a cage fighter, where she discovers the "red hot."  The anger inside her that pushes her beyond her limits.  Saba must do whatever it takes to get away, and be reunited with Lugh.

The first thing you need to know about this book is- the grammar is crazy.  Saba has lived an uneducated life, with only her father and twin brother.  And the author writes like Saba talks.  Which is like a hillbilly.  BUT, Saba is a great female protagonist.  She is strong and caring, and loyal.  She also makes very, very stupid mistakes.  As the trilogy continues, Saba joins the revolution trying to overthrow the controlling dictator.  A great apocalyptic thriller, fast-paced with lots of action.  I read these three in quick succession.  Highly recommended for those who loved The Hunger Games and Divergent.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Burn for Burn

Lillia, Mary, and Kat are not friends.   That is what makes their secret revenge pact so perfect.  Circumstances bring them together, and they decide to work together to get even with those who have wronged them.    
Lillia is the perfect daughter.  She is pretty, popular, and beginning her senior year at Jar Island High School.  However, something happened to her over the summer.  Something that has changed her,  and made her fiercely protective of her younger sister.  She will do anything to make sure her sister is not hurt in the same way she was, even if that means getting even with one of her closest friends.
Kat is from the wrong side of the tracks.  Her mother died when she was younger, and her father has not recovered.  Kat is free to roam the island as she pleases, but she is lonely.  She is determined to get back at her former best friend, who has been spreading viscous rumors about her.
Mary is returning to the island after being gone a few years.  She left after something terrible happened to her, and she wants to see the culprit pay.
As the girls begin their revenge, the pranks turn cruel, but it is too hard form them to stop.  They won't stop until they feel they have gotten justice.
This is truly Mean Girls 2.0.  The events leading up to the girls getting revenge are cruel, and they stunts they pull get out of hand fast.  I love Jenny Han, and this book was really, really good.  It ends with a giant cliffhanger, and there are 2 more books to finish the story of these unlikely friends.  I am really interested to see where this story goes.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Paper Valentine

Need a spooky read for Halloween?  Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff is a great ghost story that will get you in the creepy mood!
Hannah sees ghosts.  Not just any ghost, but the ghost of her best friend who died 6 months earlier.  Only in ghost form, Lillian is cruel, full of hate and jealousy.  Hannah's town of Ludlow is trying to deal with the hottest summer on record, when young girls begin to be murdered.  The serial killer leaves paper hearts, candy, and cheap toys arranged around the body.  Hannah's mother, worried about her since Lillian's death, keeps Hannah on a short leash.  Having her walk her little sister to band camp, go straight to work at her cousin's photo store, and come home.  At the photo shop, Hannah sees the pictures of the crime scenes, and then begins seeing the ghosts of the murdered girls.  As Hannah tries to piece together the murders, she begins a relationship with Finny Boone, the town delinquent.  He keeps popping up when Hannah needs someone, but could he have anything to do with the murders?  Hannah must figure it out before she ends up like the others.
This was my choice for my Book Club's Halloween pick.  Ghost stores were always my favorite when I was younger.  I grew up with Fear Street as a staple in my library, but don't read a lot of them now.  "Where are the scary stories?" is a question I get asked the most, and this will be one I direct students to.  The writing is beautiful, full of similes, and metaphors.  The character of Hannah is very quirky, but she really comes to stand up for herself in a way students will relate to.  I thought this was a great book, and I am going to look into others from this author.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

The Infinite Sea is the follow-up book to The 5th Wave.
The 5th Wave was my favorite book of 2013.  I think because it caught me by surprise.  It was nothing like I thought it would be, and I couldn't wait to read the second book in the series.  The Infinite Sea picks up right where The 5th Wave left off.  Cassie Sullivan is trying to survive the alien apocalypse.  The aliens have been attacking in waves.  She has figured out what the 5th wave is, and is trying desperately to stop it and save Earth from the alien invasion.  I don't want to give away too much of the book, but The Infinite Sea is extremely action packed.  Lots of alien fighting.  It also explores a minor character from The  5th Wave, telling the story mostly from her point of view.  This is one of my go-to recommendations for students.  The writing is excellent and fast paced.  I can't wait for the next book.

The book is being adapted into a movie, due out in 2016.