Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Melissa’s Picks’ Category

vanishingVanishing Girls is an engaging, fast-paced new Young Adult fiction by Lauren Oliver, author of Before I Fall and the Delirium trilogy.

Dara and Nick seem like pretty typical sisters. They love each other; they hate each other. They are jealous of each other; they protect each other.  Anyone who has a sister (or three, like me!) could relate to a lot of the family dynamics. Toss in the extra pressure from high school–the gossips, the parties, the hookups–and Nick finds the relationship with her sister to be especially challenging.

The story is told in terms of “before” and “after.”  Before is anything that happened with Dara and Nick prior to a major car accident. Dara was popular, a little wild, a little out of control. Nick was the good girl, studious, quiet, and competent in picking up the pieces after Dara drank too much or got hurt in a relationship.

After, of course, is what happened after the accident.

Oliver weaves the Before and After parts together to reveal some surprising truths about their relationship with each other and with their best friend, Parker. I don’t want to reveal too much because one of the things I loved about the book was the unexpected plot twist.

I’d recommend this book for anyone who liked Gone Girl or Before I Go to Sleep.

Check the WRL catalog for Vanishing Girls

Read Full Post »

cemeteryCharlaine Harris is the author of several popular adult fiction series (Sookie Stackhouse, Aurora Teagarden, and the recent Midnight, Texas series).  In this adult graphic novel, Cemetery Girl, she teams up with author Christopher Golden, who has written both adult and teen fiction (Secret Journeys of Jack London), and illustrator Don Kramer, who is known for numerous projects at Marvel and DC Comics.  The team has created an engaging and dark story about a girl who calls herself Calexa Rose Dunhill.

The story opens with the girl being dumped in the cemetery — presumed dead.  When she wakes up a few panels later, she only has fragmented memories of her previous life. It is enough for her to realize someone wanted her dead. She is scared to call the police or even leave the cemetery because she doesn’t know who was after her or why.

While she’s working out how to find food and stay safe, she witnesses a group of young people performing a black magic ritual in the cemetery. In their efforts to bring a friend back from the dead, they kill the friend’s sister as a blood offering. Calexa has to figure out how to tell the girl’s family what happened without putting herself in danger.

The plot moves quickly and is well-illustrated to add a sense of danger to the story. I particularly enjoyed the disjointed images from Calexa’s memories. There is a frustration in not having everything clearly seen that made me feel connected to what Calexa must be feeling.

This is the first in a trilogy.  Looks like Book 2 will be available in October 2015.  I can’t wait!

Check the WRL catalog for Cemetery Girl

Read Full Post »

body-finderViolet Ambrose has been hearing sounds, or seeing colors, or smelling smells that others can’t for as long as she can remember.  She calls them “echoes,” and they come from dead things.  Vi’s cat, Carl, helped her figure out that the echo is a unique signature of the thing that died.  That same echo clings to the one that did the killing. Poor Carl got kicked out of the house many times because Vi couldn’t stand the smell attached to the cat after it killed a mouse or a bird.

Violet, for the most part, has become used to the extra sensory information. There was only one time, when she was younger, that the echoes compelled her seek out the source and she found the remains of a young girl.  That changes when a serial killer appears to be hunting in her hometown and Violet finds the hidden remains of another teenager.  She decides to test her abilities to identify the killer — which puts her in danger.

If that’s not enough to complicate a teen’s life, Vi has suddenly noticed her best friend, Jay, in a new way. The awareness speeds up her heart rate and makes her stomach do flips. She’s not sure what changed over the summer, but it’s hard now to just be casual best friends. It’s also tough because other girls have noticed him, too.

The “real life” aspect of school, friendships, first love, and family provide an appealing contrast to Violet’s special abilities. She’s a normal teen with normal problems, who also senses echoes of dead people.  Part of the story is told through the point of view of the killer, which is appropriately creepy, particularly as Violet gets closer to uncovering his identity.

I would recommend this book if you enjoyed teens solving crimes like in The Naturals, by Jennifer Barnes or Virals, by Kathy Reichs.

This is the first in the Body Finders series.

Check the WRL catalog for The Body Finder

Read Full Post »

fireopalI picked up this Young Adult book for the new themed book discussion we have going at the library.  April’s topic was Elizabethan England. The English invasion of Ireland, and Ireland’s support by Spain provide important plot points for the book.

Maeve is the daughter of a fisherman. One night while walking home, she sees a lady in white who gives her two potions – one to protect her mother and the other to protect herself.  An unfortunate encounter with the town bully breaks the bottle with her mother’s potion. Without the potion to protect her, Maeve’s mother eventually falls into a coma-like state. When her sister succumbs to the same condition, Maeve must go on a quest to save them.

Maeve’s quest to free her mother and sister is intertwined with an ancient conflict between the goddess Danu and the Valkyrie warrior Uria. The  story was made richer by these elements of Irish folklore.

The book has a lot going on. Her brothers join the resistance fighting English solders; a Spanish ship is wrecked off the coast, and Maeve nurses one of the sailors back to health. On top of it all she keeps firm her belief that her mother will get well. All the little details and descriptions made the story more enjoyable for me.  And I liked the way the myths and Maeve’s current day mixed and influenced one another.

Looking for books with quests, princesses, or mythology? You may also enjoy:

Check the WRL catalog for The Fire Opal

Read Full Post »

whatiremembermostWhen I’m in the mood for a good story that will make me laugh as well as cry, I check to see if Cathy Lamb has written anything new. After finding this 2014 publication that I had missed somehow, I eagerly settled in for an escapist read.

Grenadine Scotch Wild decided to disappear from her old life. She left her husband, her house, her job, and her high society lifestyle after she was arrested for aiding her husband in questionable business investments.

She picked a small town in Central Oregon to start over.  It didn’t take long for her to find a job as a bartender and make a few friends.

It did take some time and a bit of luck to earn enough money to afford to live somewhere besides in her car. But once that was settled, her talent for design and outgoing personality took her to a new level of success. If only that court case, made worse by her husband’s demands to move back home, wasn’t hanging over her head…

I liked the supporting characters of the book — from the quirky bar patrons to the hunky boss to the unscrupulous husband to the creepy killer. This outstanding cast complemented the page-turning story.

Lamb skillfully weaves back story with current story to complete a tapestry of Grenady’s life. This is more than one woman’s search for career success, it’s her search for answers and justice. I liked Grenady, and rooted for her all the way to the last page.

Check the WRL catalog for What I Remember Most

Read Full Post »

cleanThis urban fantasy/science fiction novel started as a free serial on the Ilona Andrews web site. The authors — Ilona Andrews is the pen name of a husband and wife writing team — wanted readers to have a chance to comment on the story as it developed. They published the weekly entries as a book in 2013.

Dina Demille runs a bed and breakfast in a small Texas town. When she pulled out her broom to fight off an intruder, I assumed she was a witch. But the story surprised me. The Inn is lodging for otherworldly visitors, and Dina is an Innkeeper, someone whose duty is to provide sanctuary.

When something evil begins killing family pets, Dina encourages her new neighbor (whom she suspects is a werewolf, another alien lifeform) to take care of his territory. The arrogant (and handsome) man pretends he doesn’t know what she’s talking about, so Dina takes it upon herself to get involved even though it means risking her neutrality. She can’t sit by and let a vicious killer hurt her human neighbors.

Dina discovers that the enemy forces are too powerful for one person to handle. She ends up forming an alliance with her werewolf neighbor and a vampire soldier to kill the intruders and find out who sent them to Earth.

This was a quick read with lots of fast-paced action and witty banter. The unexpected alien aspect of the story was engaging. Part of me wanted to keep reading just to figure out how all this galactic stuff fit together. And part of me kept reading just because Dina was such a “normal” character in extraordinary circumstances.

The second book of the Innkeeper Chronicles is being developed on the web site, but catch up on the story by reading Clean Sweep first.

Check the WRL catalog for Clean Sweep

Read Full Post »

marcelointherealworldMarcelo is a seventeen-year-old who hears music in his head as a result of mild autism.  His dad, Arturo, is a lawyer. Despite Marcelo’s plans to work at Paterson, the special school he attends, and help with the stables, his father pressures him to spend the summer at his law firm in order to experience the “real world.” The deal is that after spending the summer in the law firm, Marcelo can spend his senior year at his special school or he can choose to go to the regular high school.  Arturo is betting Marcelo will want to go to the regular high school after seeing all that the world has to offer.

Marcelo understands that his parents want him to be more self-sufficient, but he is very concerned about what the “real world” involves. To him it means engaging in small talk with other people, refraining from talking about his special interests, shaking hands and looking people in the eye, doing things that have not been scheduled in advance.

The book shows Marcelo overcoming the challenges of the summer job, his friendships with Jasmine, his coworker in the mail room, and Wendell, the obnoxious, privileged son of another lawyer in his dad’s firm.  Most interestingly, though, it addresses how Marcelo responds when he realizes the law firm is protecting a shady business that has been sued due to a faulty product.

I also really enjoyed the discussions Marcelo had with his rabbi friend about various aspects of religion.  Lots of food for thought, especially as Marcelo struggles with doing the right thing once he uncovers information about his dad’s law firm. I loved how the ending really opened my eyes to what it meant for Marcelo to be a part of the “real world.”

I would recommend this book for a discussion group.  There is a lot here to consider and talk about.

My colleague Nancy recommended I listen to the audiobook.  Hearing Marcelo’s voice as he talks about himself in the third person really brought his character to life for me.

Check the WRL catalog for Marcelo in the Real World

Check the WRL catalog for the audiobook of Marcelo in the Real World

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 32,328 other followers

%d bloggers like this: