Saturday, January 1, 2011

This has been one busy week!

So for the last week or so, I have been especially busy reading.  I certainly spent more time doing that than cleaning my house!  Here are some of the YA books that I read:

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up–In this grim debut novel, the Doyles hide the terrible secret that 16-year-old Mackie is a changeling who was swapped for their real son when he was a baby. In their town of Gentry, there is an unspoken acknowledgment that a child is stolen every seven years in an uneasy bargain for the town's prosperity. Mackie's struggles to go unnoticed are made more difficult by his severe allergies to iron and other metal, his inability to set foot on consecrated ground such as his minister father's church, and his tendency to become severely ill around blood. Now he is dying. When a classmate's baby sister is abducted and a Replacement left in her place, Mackie is reluctantly drawn into the age-old rift between the Morrigan and the Lady, sisters who lead the two changeling clans who live underneath Gentry. Mackie agrees to help the Morrigan maintain the unwitting townspeople's goodwill in exchange for a drug he needs to survive. Meanwhile, he and his friends plot to rescue Tate's stolen sister from the Lady. Yovanoff's innovative plot draws on the changeling legends from Western European folklore. She does an excellent job of creating and sustaining a mood of fear, hopelessness, and misery throughout the novel, something that is lightened only occasionally by Mackie's dry humor and the easy charm of his friend Roswell. The novel ends with a glimmer of hope, though the grisly and disturbing images throughout may overshadow the more positive ending. Still, teens who enjoy horror and dark fantasy novels will no doubt flock to the shelves for Mackie's story.

Personally, I felt like this book was a little slow to start.  Maybe its because I wasn't familiar with "changelings", but some of the terms were beyond me.  However, I really loved the character development.  Before reading this novel, I was looking at reviews on Amazon and was concerned that I wouldn't like the characters.  But you know what?  I did.  I really did.  I felt like Mackie and Roswell were in a typical teenage relationship.  Teens do turn there relationship feelings on and off at a drop of the dime.  I loved the unconditional love that Mackie's sister provided too.  Thats what families are like.  I would definitely recommend this book to both boys and girls.  And compared to a lot of the YA out there, I felt like there was minimal obscene language and limited sex scenes.  Probably better geared to teens in 8th grade and up. 

I'll also include a book trailer from YouTube:

Next I really enjoyed:
Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan

First there is a Before, and then there is an After. . . .The lives of three teens—Claire, Jasper, and Peter—are altered forever on September 11, 2001. Claire, a high school junior, has to get to her younger brother in his classroom. Jasper, a college sophomore from Brooklyn, wakes to his parents’ frantic calls from Korea, wondering if he’s okay. Peter, a classmate of Claire’s, has to make his way back to school as everything happens around him.

Here are three teens whose intertwining lives are reshaped by this catastrophic event. As each gets to know the other, their moments become wound around each other’s in a way that leads to new understandings, new friendships, and new levels of awareness for the world around them and the people close by.

I was a sophmore in college when the Twin Towers fell.  I can remember where I was and what I was going to do that day...and I live in Wisconsin.  I cannot even be able to begin to fathom what it would have been like for New Yorkers, especially teenage ones.  This book deals more with the relationships that 3 teens forge after the horrible aftermath of 9/11, and less of the logistics, the whys or why nots.  The characters are real and sincere.  These teens could be teens that you know or that you are friends with.  Each one deals with the events that follow 9/11 differently, but need each other in ways that they never knew they could.  With very few YA books dealing with the September 11th terrorist attacks this one is a good reminder that this is our recent history and that teens and adults alike need to remember what it is like to be able to count on our communities.  Loved this book!

Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu

Everyone has a secret. But Lucy’s is bigger and dirtier than most. It’s one she’s been hiding for years—that her mom’s out-of-control hoarding has turned their lives into a world of garbage and shame. She’s managed to keep her home life hidden from her best friend and her crush, knowing they’d be disgusted by the truth. So, when her mom dies suddenly in their home, Lucy hesitates to call 911 because revealing their way of life would make her future unbearable—and she begins her two-day plan to set her life right.
My take?  I liked that this book covers a subject that is new to contemporary lit. for teens.  I really wanted to like this book as a whole, and it is a relatively quick read, but I had a really hard time liking the main character.  I felt like she was too indifferent about her mom dying.  That her mom passing away wasn't as important as not letting people see her house.  I can see how this book would appeal to teens (and adults).  If you don't know anyone who is a hoarder, this is a voyuaristic way of taking a peak into someone else's life.  Worth reading, but not my favorite.
Here's the book trailer via YouTube:
And lastly...
Deception: A Haunting Emma Novel by Lee Nichols
Seventeen-year-old Emma has never really felt a part of her family. Then her parents leave her alone in their San Francisco antique store/home while they go on “vacation.” They don't come back, and Emma can't reach her brother, Max. Max's friend Bennett appears, claiming to be her guardian, and whisks Emma to Boston, where he enrolls her in school and slowly reveals that she's a ghostkeeper, someone who can see and call forth ghosts. So that's why Emma's been seeing all those weird people in period costumes! After a strong start, this fantasy drags until the revelation of Emma's powers. Then it's full speed ahead as an evil force gathers strength and leads Emma's friend into the dangers of the ghostly world.
I love, love, loved this book!  I am so excited for the next one to come out.  I found the characters to be so likeable, as well as, intriguing.  When Emma Vaile's parents and brother mysteriously disappear and Bennett, Emma's longtime crush, suddenly appears as her guardian, Emma gets more than she bargains for when she moves into Bennett's east coast home.  She finds more out about herself than she ever bargained for.  I loved the way this book ended with a cryptic message. Everything about this book was an A+ for me!
That concludes this week's books.  Watch for next week's reviews on, Paranomalcy by Kiersten White, Guardian of the Gate by Michelle Zink, and Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers (and maybe a few extras!)  Happy reading!

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