Friday, December 19, 2014

Guest Review: Snowed In, by Rachel Hawthorn

Guest Reviewer Joette B. read Snowed In, by Rachel Hawthorn. She found this Michigan-based coming-of-age story entertaining.

"(In Snowed In), A mother and daughter leave Texas to start a new life on Mackinaw Island, MI in the winter. They are going to open a bed and breakfast in a historic Victorian home. It tells the story of a teenage girl adjusting to new hardships, winter, and falling in love. It's interesting to read more about winter on Mackinaw Island and teenage relationships"

Joette B. would recommend Snowed In to others.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Eleven, by Patricia Giff

What if your life wasn't really what you thought it was?

Young Sam is plagued by this question when, while snooping in his grandfather's attic for his birthday present, he discovers an old newspaper clipping containing a photo of his younger self. The only words Sam, who suffers from near-crippling dyslexia, can identify are his first name and the word "MISSING". Suddenly his whole world comes crashing down. If he is, indeed, "Missing," then where are his parents? Who is the man he has been calling "grandfather" all these years? Was he kidnapped? Who is SAM? 

Could these questions be the source of Sam's recurring nightmares about a castle a boat and a storm at sea?

If ONLY he could read that article!!

Then Sam is paired up with the surly and unapproachable Caroline for a class project. The two form an unlikely friendship, and Sam recruits Caroline, who loves to read, to help him solve the mystery. But time is running out. Can the two uncover the answers in time? 

Eleven, by Patricia Giff, is a fantastic, fast-paced mystery aimed at the tween audience, but older readers (even adults) will love it too and enjoy piecing together the clues as Sam and Caroline unravel them. There is a sense of urgency throughout this story, but readers will breathe a sigh of relief when all is revealed and things aren't as bad as they first seemed (the book ends happily). 

You won't be able to put this one down! --AJB

Brides of Rollrock Island, by Margo Lanagan

As you may have guessed from previous reviews, I like stories about fantastical sea creatures. Always have. So when author Margo Lanagan took a stab at the Selkie myth, I had to read it for myself. I was not disappointed.

(Side Note: Some may say Selkies are related to mermaids, but, really, the two aren't anything alike. To simplify, Selikes are women and men--yes, men too--who can shapeshift from seals into human form. To make one stay human, simply steal and hide their seal skin.)

The Brides of Rollrock Island is set on a distant, isolated island and takes place over several generations, and there is a lot going on. So pay attention. (this is NOT light reading, people) At the center of the story is Misskaella, who was born with the uncanny ability to communicate with the seals who make the shores and beaches of the island their home. Misskaella was not a pretty child, among other things, and the residents of the island never failed to remind her of her shortcomings. As she grows, she learns to use her unusual gift to draw out the women living inside the seals. She then sells these women, these "sea-wives," to the island's men...and makes quite a healthy living doing so. But the effect on the island's population is devastating: Families split when men trade their human wives for sea wives, children lose their mothers when a sea wife finds her stolen skin and returns to the sea without so much of a backwards glance, hearts break, and the witch laughs at it all. This is the revenge she'd hoped for. The story of Rollrock Island, and the revenge brought upon it by Misskaella, is told from six points of view--including that of the witch herself. It's not a happily-ever-after sort of story. In fact, it's quite uncanny and creepy. But it IS beautifully-written and memorable. And once you get into it, you'll want to keep reading.

Read this if you've enjoyed complex realistic fantasy stories like Maggie Stiefvaer's Raven Cycle or Bennett Madison's September GirlsDefinitely recommended! --AJB

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Game Day Saturday!

School is nearly out for the Holidays! Yippee!!
We know you have gifts to wrap, cookies to bake and people to see,  but if you need a break from all that rushing around, then stop by the Teen Department on Saturday December 20, to play a board game!

We have our new game Tapple, and of course, old favorites like Scrabble, Pictionary, Jenga and Yahtzee available for some good old-fashioned fun.

Bring a friend, or find one here at the Library.

And don't forget to sign up for the Winter reading Program while you are here; you could win some great prizes including books and gift cards.

The Brothers Torres by Coert Voorhees

The Brothers Torres is set in Borges, New Mexico where it may look and feel different compared to where you live, but the universal themes of brothers, family relationships, school, peer pressure, a first girlfriend and changing friendships are the same experience of teens everywhere.  Frankie, the younger brother, is easily identifiable, as he could be attending your school.

  Readers will root for him as he tries to remain loyal to himself and his family as his older brother/school soccer superstar makes new friends who take him away from the decent, hard-working upbringing that they have shared till now. You will find yourself laughing, wincing and shedding a tear for Frankie as he does his best to do the right thing for his family, best friend and new girlfriend under difficult circumstances.

The colloquial Mex-Tex phrases throughout the book add street-reality to the story, as Frankie is forced to mix with the gang that he is trying to save his brother from. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that I really enjoyed reading this book, and would certainly recommend it for older teens who are interested in looking into a life both similar to and different from their own.
Oh, and there are some spectacular fire ant-hill explosions and mouth-wateringly vivid descriptions of the authentic Mexican dishes on Los Torres menu. SM

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater

The story of The Scorpio Races is a unique story and one that I haven't heard before. Thisby Island is a remote island with a small population. The island and it's inhabitants are fairly quite and keep to themselves. All of this changes each November when residents and tourists alike flock to the annual Scorpio Races held along the island's beaches. Each year young racers compete on horse back to become the champion of the races. The only thing different about these horses are that they are water horses- they do not like to be tamed. They're deadly. Not only is there a need to be the best horse back rider but there is also a need for survival in order to cross the finish line. Deadly horses are not enough to keep Puck away from the races. Winning the race is the only way to help her family survive and keep her and her two brothers together.

One would think that a book that encompasses adventure, fantasy, a little romance, and man eating horses would have something for just about everyone, guess again.

Scorpio Games was among 25 other books I found on a list (Pinterest of course) called "25 Series to Read if You Love the Hunger Games". I decided that I was going to choose a couple of the books and give them a try. Well, most of them were pretty good and I did end up reading the entire series that followed. All except one... Scorpio Races. With so many of the other books being great or even (dare I say it) better than the Hunger Games, I dived into reading this particular book with high hopes. My hopes stayed high for the first chapter, the second, the third, and by that point I was reading in hopes that something exciting just had to happen so I continued on. Nope. With this book being just over four hundred pages long, the most excitement occurred in the last thirty pages (and no, you can't skip to the end otherwise nothing would make sense.) Maybe if a was an avid horse rider or even a horse enthusiast I would have enjoyed this book a little more. But just being a fantasy lover was not enough to suffice. This is why this reviewer would not recommend adding this to your "Must Read List" and maybe crossing it off of your "If I have Time List".


Friday, December 12, 2014

The Good Sister, by Jamie Kain

The Good Sister by Jaime Kain has been described (on Goodreads) as "The Fault in Our Stars meets The Lovely Bones," and I feel that is an apt assessment of this sad, but oh-so-good page turner. There's also a bit of We Were Liars mixed in.

The Kinseys are the picture-perfect example of a dysfunctional family. There's the former hippie mom who is determined to hold onto her flower-child roots. The former-hippie-now-reformed (but also absent) father. Sarah, Rachel, and Asha grew up in this crazy, messed-up household where the normal rules of the world didn't really apply. Despite the so-called "mellow" vibe of their California community, no one in the Kinsey household is really happy.

And ever since Sarah died, things have been even worse. Sarah, the "good" sister of the title, was the glue that held the family together. She was the sun the rest orbited around, built their lives around. With her gone, everything falls apart.

A lifelong leukemia patient, Sarah knew early death was almost a certainty. Everyone knew it was coming. Just not like this. Not in a hiking "accident" that may not have been all that accidental. Told from the three sisters' alternating viewpoints (with Sarah's perspective from the afterlife bringing an element of magical realism to the story), the true story gradually unfolds, uncensored. And it is a truth that's painful and far more complex and convoluted than the reader could imagine. Everyone's secrets come spilling out, and no one is who they first appear to be. 

Especially Sarah. Saintly, golden Sarah.

Saintly? Yeah right!

To say more would give too much away.

The Good Sister can currently be found on our New Book Shelf. Read it if you're looking for a complex mystery that will keep you guessing until the end. 

Definitely recommended! --AJB