Monday, June 20, 2011

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Sunny lives in Nigeria but was born in America. She is a great soccer player but can't play because she's albino and can't be in the sun for long periods of time. While staring into a candle one night Sunny has a vision of the end of the world and she learns soon afterwards that she is a Leopard person - someone who has some magical abilities. While most Leopard people come from families with magical powers, Sunny is a "free agent" so she has no background training in her abilities. With the help of three friends she begins to learn what powers she naturally possesses and what things she will be able to learn with time. Being a Leopard is not all fun however. An older, powerful magician is killing children in their community in order to summon a being even more evil than himself and Sunny and her friends are tasked with finding and stopping him. This fantasy is very different from anything else I've ever read which is saying something. I got a little confused at times with the different characters because there is a lot of dialogue but the world in which Sunny lives is unique and intriguing. A good read for people who like fantasy and magic but are getting a little weary of Harry Potter and Twilight knock offs.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal

After her 16th birthday princess Nalia receives a shock. Due to a prophecy predicting the death of the princess before age 16, the king and queen had their daughter switched with a commoner at birth and had both girls put under a spell to make everyone believe in the imposter. Now that the 16th birthday has passed the read princess is coming to assume her place in the palace and the false princess - who is actually named Sinda - has to leave immediately to live with an aunt who didn't even know she existed. Sinda is reeling from her change and especially because she had to leave her best friend Kiernan behind without even saying goodbye to him but she tries to adapt to her "real" life. But after a betrayal by someone she trusted she discovers that she has huge magical abilities which will be dangerous if she doesn't receive training. Sinda ends up back in the city where she finds that there is even more deception at the palace and that she might not be the only false princess. Sinda starts off a little meek but as she has to deal with more and more events she emerges as a strong woman, especially when she has the help of equally strong Kiernan. I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next and how Sinda was going to save the royal family from the lie they have been told. You also learn who the bad guy is somewhat early on and I wondered if that would lessen the excitement but that was not a problem at all. A really exciting story but also well-crafted.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I'll be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Sam and his younger brother Riddle have been on the move since they were stolen by their mentally unstable and criminal father. Sam hasn't been to school since the second grade but he has educated himself through lots of reading. Sam knows that Clarence is a criminal but since his father has largely left him and Riddle alone, Sam has gone along whenever it is time to leave town. His life changes when he wanders into a church and hears Emily Bell sing. The two teens are drawn to each other even though Sam tells her nothing of his background and life. Emily's parents are suspicious at first but they are won over - her father the music teacher when he hears Sam's amazing talent at playing the guitar, and her mother the nurse when she meets Riddle and realizes that he needs nurturing. But when Clarence realizes that his sons are spending time with the family he decides it's time to move again. This mystery kept me riveted wondering if and when the boys would escape their father and even if they would survive all the things that happen to them. The story is written in a sparse (despite the length of the novel) way broken up into many small chunks that nearly all end with a cliffhanger or twist of fate. I either loved this style or was annoyed by the preciousness of it, I'm not sure which.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Rosebush by Michele Jaffe

Jane awakens in the hospital unsure of how she got there. Her family tells her she was the victim of a hit and run accident - or was it a suicide attempt? Jane remembers going to a party with her two best friends the night before but not much else after they arrived. Her room is filled with flowers including several gifts from a secret admirer all of which include a sinister promise that they will meet soon and finish what they started. Jane is sure she wasn't trying to kill herself and begins to believe that someone was purposefully trying to kill her, especially after she receives a threatening phone call. The problem is, no one else believes her since no one else heard the phone ring. Is Jane going crazy or is someone actually stalking her? And if she's not losing her mind, which of her trusted friends is the killer? This is a book that made me wake up early because I couldn't wait to read to the end to find out what was going on. A really enjoyable read!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Z by Michael Ford

Josh lives in a post-zombie world. 15 years before many people suddenly began turning into zombies due to a mutated flu strain. While not actually "living dead", these zombies were not able to think or feel as people anymore and they spread the virus through bites and blood. The only way to stop the infection was to burn the zombies, a task that was taken on by Torchers. Josh has never seen any real zombies but he does enjoy playing a videogame where he plays a Torcher. Because of his talent in the videogame he is recruited to play a real life version of the game where he works with his team to hunt and destroy animatronic versions of zombies. Charlie, the cute girl who recruited him, also introduces him to the drug Z which allows you to think more like a zombie while reducing your inhibitions. Josh is having a great time but the more he plays the game the more he realizes that there are some secrets that are being kept from him. This is a good action book with a few twists I didn't see coming. The ending is wide open so either the author intends to write a sequel or it's just meant to keep you thinking.

Jersey Tomatoes are the Best by Maria Padian

Henrietta - "Henry" - and Eva have been best friends since elementary school. Henry is a champion tennis player and Eva is a ballerina who has just been accepted to a prestigious summer program in New York. Both girls have overbearing parents and they compare stories to see which girl has it worse at any particular point. For the first time they are going to be apart as Henry heads to Florida for a competitive tennis camp. Life changes for both girls in different ways. Henry finds herself flourishing away from her father's trash talk. With advice from David, a player who is on the brink of playing professionally, she learns new tricks to improve her game and for the first time in her life finds herself falling in love with someone. Eva, meanwhile, is struggling. Her dancing is better than ever and she quickly gains the attention of the damanding ballet instructor. But her health is failing as she refuses to eat in order to maintain the body size she believes she needs to succeed. This book tells each girl's story in alternating chapters. The voices are realistic and you really care about both Henry and Eva and the choices they make.

Eggs Over Evie by Alison Jackson

Evie lives with her mother while her father lives across the lake with his new, young wife. Evie's father is a celebrity chef and Evie is trying to follow in his footsteps by taking a cooking class at the rec center. Her teacher seems to be a grown up hippie and her cooking partner seems to take an instant dislike to her. Evie's home life is hard too with her mom beginning to date and her beloved dog living with her father. To top everything off, her new stepmom announces she's pregnant and expecting twins. It's up to Evie to find a way to make all the parts of her life work for her again. This is not a deep book but it is realistic and enjoyable. Each chapter also includes cooking tips and one of Evie's recipes which makes it more fun!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Girl, Stolen by April Henry

Cheyenne is sleeping in the back of a car while her stepmother goes into a pharmacy to get Cheyenne's medicine. When Griffin sees the Escalade with the keys in the ignition he steals the car without even realizing that Cheyenne is there. Although he intended just to steal the car and give it to his father - who makes his living out of selling stolen vehicles and parts - now Griffin faces serious charges. Cheyenne's situation is even more serious because she has been blind for three years so she has virtually no chance of escape. On the positive side, she can't identify her kidnappers so she hopes they will eventually let her go. Griffin is working hard on his father, Roy, to do just that and things look hopeful for Cheyenne until Roy learns that Cheyenne's father is the founder of Nike. Now Roy wants to ask for a ransom for Cheyenne in exchange for her freedom...

Death Cloud by Andrew Lane

This is a story about Sherlock Holmes as a teen. Sherlock is looking forward to his summer break so he is surprised when he learns he will be spending the break with an aunt and uncle he barely knows in the country. He is even less excited when his brother arranges for a tutor for Sherlock over the summer. His time in exile becomes more interesting when he meets Matty, a homeless boy with lots of street smarts. And then Sherlock's life takes a dangerous turn when he stumbles across a dead body covered in red sores while out with his tutor. He observes a cloud hovering over the body and Matty reveals that he saw a similar body and cloud just a few days earlier. With the help of Sherlock's tutor and his daughter, the two boys begin investigating the mystery and what they find is the surprising work of a demented genius. This book is full of action and you don't have to know about Sherlock Holmes to enjoy the story.

You Wish by Mandy Hubbard

Kayla's 16th birthday stinks. Her mom throws her a huge, pink party when all she wants is a quiet night at home. Her best friend shows up three hours late because she's out on a date with the boy Kayla has a serious crush on. When Kayla blows out the candles on her four tier pink cake, she wishes that her birthday wishes will finally come true because they never do. The next morning she is surprised to find a pink pony with a picture of an ice cream cone on its flank in her backyard. The day after that she wakes up to a room full of gumballs. Each day a new birthday wish from her past comes true with funny results. Kayla doesn't remember many of her wishes from her childhood but she does remember what she wished for last year - a kiss from Ben, her crush. She knows that she has to end this curse before that wish comes true and ruins her friendship with Nicole forever. This is a funny, light book that still contains a few important realizations for Kayla.

Deadly by Julie Chibbaro

Prudence is bored at her charm school classes. She is much more fascinated by scientific books and would especially like to figure out how to stop illness. When she gets an opportunity to work for Mr. Soper at the city health department she jumps at the chance to be his assistant. With Mr. Soper she begins to investigate an epidemic of typhoid fever. Thanks to Prudence's careful notes they discover that all the cases of typhoid can be traced back to a cook named Mary, even though she herself is completely healthy. Mary violently resists coming in for any testing so Prudence and Mr. Soper have to work together with a female doctor to find some way to stop Mary from spreading the illness to anyone else. All while Prudence realizes that she is falling in love with her boss, learning the truth about her father who has been missing for many years, and figuring out what she wants to do with her life. This book is based on the real mystery of "Typhoid Mary", a woman who carried the typhoid germ without being sick herself.