I Believe in Water edited by Marilyn Singer

ibelieveA collection of stories written by popular authors touching on many different situations and dilemmas  teens have faced for generations.

 

We’ve got funny and sad. We visit Christianity, Buddhism, snake handlers and Judaism among others.  Each story is unique and interesting to consider.

 

My favorite was “The Boy Who Called God She” by Nancy Springer.  I liked it because I’ve often wondered about God being a She.   Will I be a girl in heaven or just me?  What do you think?  If you read this book let me know what story you liked the best and why.

 

What I really enjoyed was seeing so many points of views that are different but also the same.   I recommend this book 100%.

 

 

 

 

Teen Book Battle:Sci-Fi Advisory/POD by Stephen Wallenfels vs. In the After by Demetria Lunetta

Pearls Of Death

by Stephen Wellenfels

Aliens have invaded Earth!  (Or at least their spaceships have landed – we don’t actually see them.)  They have sucked all the energy out of the atmosphere.  Nothing electronic works anymore and they zap every human they see.

This well-worn sci-fi scenario is told in alternating chapters from the viewpoint of two survivors.  The first is Josh, who is trapped inside his home in a middle-class neighborhood with his Father.  The second is Meg who is inside a parking garage waiting for her Mother to return to their car.

The alien invasion quickly becomes the background noise as the two teens learn to navigate their new reality.  It is now a world which features the worst examples of humans under siege – and the best.

I didn’t expect much from this book because of the plot and the silly title, but it was surprisingly good!  I’m looking forward to the next installment because (of course) this is part one of a new series.  Is there ANY other kind of YA novel?  What happens next for Josh and Meg?

by Demetria Lunetta

by Demetria Lunetta

This book is told in a series of flash-backs and fast-forwards. Green insect creatures begin to attack humans. They are fast and are attracted to sound, but thankfully hunt humans mostly during the day because they don’t see very well.

Fourteen year old Amy is able to hide inside her own home because it is protected by an electric fence powered by solar panels.  One night while on a scavenge run for supplies, she finds a toddler inside a grocery store and takes her home.  Amy and “Baby” must communicate by sign language because they have to be quiet, but they form an unbreakable bond of love.

Years later, they are discovered outside by members of a group from a survivor’s colony called “New Hope” and are taken there.  While they are  grateful to find that they are not alone, that there are still other humans in the world – and happy for the food and shelter they are given, they do not like the new rules that are forced upon them.

Amy acted as an adult and made her own decisions during her years of exile with Baby, but now she is forced to attend school and is treated as a child.  Plus, she is separated from Baby more than either of them want.

This book was quite good, and has some unusual developments – but I can’t divulge them because that would be a spoiler-alert.  Some of the puzzles will probably be answered in the sequel which is due for release in June.

Both of these books were worth reading and I’m pretty sure I’ll be checking up on their next installments!

 

 

 

 

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Hidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern-Day Child Slave by Shyima Hall

hidden girl

I love a good memoir. There is nothing like reading about other people’s lives to give you some perspective. And, if I’m being honest, the crazier the person’s life is, the more intriguing I find the story. And Shyima Hall had a pretty crazy childhood. She was born in Egypt, to a family that lived in poverty. She was one of many children and her father was rarely around and Shyima raised most of her younger brothers and sisters starting when she was very young. Despite the poverty and neglect, Shyima describes her young childhood with her family as a happy time. Everything changed when she turned eight and her parents sold her into slavery to a rich Egyptian family.

Slavery is legal in Egypt and Shyima was one of many slaves owned by this particular family. The family routinely hit all their slaves and called them names and mocked them. Shyima worked 20 hours a day on one meal a day. And she was eight years old. Things got even worse when “the Dad” got into legal trouble and fled Egypt. The family got rid of all their slaves, except one, Shyima. The family brought Shyima with them to America. They built a storage closet in their garage that served as Shyima’s room. They never brought her new clothes, never got her medical help, never gave her any kind of education. Shyima describes a scene where she was terribly sick, had to work a twenty hour day and carefully snuck some medication when she was cleaning a bathroom, but she was terrified the family would find out and punish her.

Her ordeal finally ended when a concerned citizen made an anonymous phone call to the police department and Shyima was rescued. Shyima was finally allowed to go to school, to learn to read and write and get the education we take for granted in the U.S. She graduated from high school and became a U.S. citizen. She has learned to trust people and develop relationships. And she has become an advocate for human trafficking and slavery. Her story is one of triumph.

While I enjoyed the story, I found it to be pretty slow and anti-climatic. The last half of the story is devoted to after Shyima’s rescue and it just dragged on and on for me. I finished the first part of the book in a few days. It took me weeks to finish the book. While I am happy for her outcome, I feel like the book could have been wrapped up quicker. I would give this book three out of five stars.

Six Word Summary Showdown – A Liar and Her Dog by Gennifer Choldenko

Notes from a Liar and Her Dog

A misfit in her own family.
or
Lying is a way of life.

Celebrate High Five Day!

I love a good high five.  I hate it when you high five someone and they are not into it.  There should be rules of high five etiquette.  You should be required to match the intensity of the person you are high fiveing (is that a word?).  Having said that, I also enjoy a good fist bump.  I especially like to BLOW it UP!  Why doesn’t anyone want to do that anymore?  So it is a little lame but it is fun!  Celebrate today with a few fist bumps, a bunch of high fives and a ton of good FIVE books from your library.

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It’s not easy being green

Earth Day 2014

Our planet is at a turning point. The massive global migration underway now from countryside to cities will demand huge investments in energy, water, materials, waste, food distribution, and transportation over the next 25 years. If the right investments are made now, this unique opportunity will be the catalyst for dramatic changes in the built environment and the fight against carbon emissions and climate change.”

That’s right – there’s hope!!

Earth Day is about HOPE!
How cool is that.
To celebrate, and to get your Earth Day gears rolling, here are a few hopeful reads revolving around environmental issues.

Flush
Carl Hiaasen

Pretty sure you can’t do Earth Day without including at least one Carl Hiaasen title.  It just wouldn’t be right.  Also, at some point I just had to blog a book about poop.  Had to.

Seriously, though – this is a very lightweight romp of a read.  It’s fun, fluffy, and so simple it almost doesn’t make it.  But Hiaasen has thrown in enough really great characters (Lice, anyone?) just enough of a very serious issue to keep this real.  And it will make you laugh – promise.

 

Saving the Planet and Stuff

Gail Gauthier

Also on the lighter side, also hilarious, but a little bit more chewy, Saving the Planet and Stuff is the story of a digital native trapped for the summer in the wilds of Vermont with his ultra-environmentalist grandparents.  A bit of intrigue, the slightest whiff of romance, and loads of snappy dialogue (internal and external) make for a fun adventure.  Yes, there’s lots of focus on genuine issues, but they don’t get beaten into your head with a stick – just illuminated enough to inform and generate some interest.

 

 

 Empty

Suzanne Weyn

 

Fossil fuels depleted to zero.  Category Six hurricanes.  Life as we know it, gone forever.

Hopeful, you say?

Actually, yes.  Oddly.  Empty definitely starts out on the dark side of ecological disaster.  And it stays there, whipping characters through horror, fear, desperation, and desolation for almost 200 pages. It’s a high paced, page-turner of a read, as an array of teens use their wits, luck, and sheer determination to survive the catastrophic effects of climate change.  This one will leave you thinking twice about turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth and car-pooling to save gas, but it will also leave you feeling like you have the power to make this all work.  Highly recommend.

A Happy and Hopeful Earth Day to you all!

 

Book battle: Against the odds

Both of our contenders want more out of life than what society or their families want for them.  They will achieve their goals in any way they can.  But which book tells a better story ?

Today’s battle is:

Spirit’s Princess by Esther Friesner

vs

Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer

FIGHT!!

First up: Spirit’s Princessprincess

Set in ancient Japan, before there was a written language, Himiko, tries to find her own path in life.  Himiko’s father is the chieftain for the Matsu clan and the family would like nothing better than to have a dutiful and obedient daughter.  Himiko wants more out of life.

Next: Bloody Jack

bloody jack

Jack Farber is a cabin boy aboard the H.M.S. Dolphin.  Tired of living on the streets of London with a gang of orphaned children begging for money to buy food, a life at sea is just the change needed.  Seeing the world and having adventures is a dream come true, but hiding your secrets can be stressful.  Jack is a girl named Mary.

Verdict: BLOODY JACK WINS

Both books start slowly, so have patience, the action picks up in the middle.  The reason for the slow start maybe because both books are begins of series (Bloody Jack has 10 books currently and Spirit has one more book).  Spirit’s Princess didn’t grab me it was ok.  The overall story is interesting but the author does take her time to set up the story for the next book.  I also didn’t like the way Spirit’s Princess ended, it was abrupt and at a critical moment in the story (angry me).

Bloody Jack gave me the feeling that I was reading a diary and I could see Jack’s growth as she learned more about the world and herself.  I also enjoyed the way the dialogue changed as she switched locations.  On the streets of 18th century London she speaks like a Dickens character (“the girl what stole me clothes “), after becoming a ship’s boy she takes on the language of a sailor, and as she becomes more educated, words and phrases change.

Any:/ Rule Breaker The Chalk Girl by Carol O’Connell

Just 1 book in a series of 12

Book 12 in a series

This is a rule breaker because it is not YA – it is an Adult Book.  The plot of the story is a troubled policewoman who solves a murder that is tied to an earlier crime that was committed by some HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS years ago.

The blurb on the jack sounded interesting and it WAS a fairly good story.  However, it also promised that “Mallory” (the policewoman) was the successor to Lisbeth Salander, Stig Larrson’s hero.  She isn’t.

The first part of the story was fast paced, but once you figured out “who did it” the story should have ended.  Instead, it dragged on with unnecessary scenes featuring an earlier suspect that nobody cared about.  Maybe the author thought readers were still unable to solve the clues that had already been given?  Anyway, I plowed through the last part unwilling to miss a possible plot twist, but there wasn’t any.

In the end, I feel like I devoted more time to reading this book than it was worth.  Part of it is my own fault because I didn’t realize that this book was the 12th book in a “Mallory” series  starring the same detective until well into the story.  The fact that the story was able to be read as a “stand alone” book is a credit to the author.  Not everyone can do this.

What I don’t understand is the appeal this policewoman has on readers to generate the clamor for twelve books (or more) about her.

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Who’s Your Hero?

The new Captain America movie came out lst week and I know that I’m going to have to take my son to see it. He has watched the first movie more times than I could possibly count. It got me thinking- who’s your favorite superhero?

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