Wednesday, May 6, 2015

GAME SEVEN by Paul Volponi

Game Seven
I was so glad to stumble across this new book by Paul Volponi.  I know several readers who read and reread anything he writes.  GAME SEVEN won't disappoint them.

Julio is sixteen and dreams of playing shortstop for the Cuban Nacionales.  He was raised with baseball in his blood.  He has memories of playing catch with his father and still plays with the glove Julio Sr. gave him.  Unfortunately, the man who taught Julio to play may become the reason Julio isn't chosen to represent Cuba. 

His father was a star pitcher for the Cuban team until he defected to the United States.  Julio Sr. made the decision to leave his wife and two children behind on the fateful day six years ago when his name was erased from the Cuban baseball record books.  

read more

The Unwritten Vols 1-3

Hey guys, look who's back! I have to apologize for my long absence, but school has been a grind this year and between that and my own writing, doing a proper review has been difficult. I'm in the midst of reading a darn fine book that I'm holding off to review until June because I'm not quite done with it. Instead, I'm going to review a series of graphic novels called the Unwritten by Mike Carey.6471550

read more

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Big Reveal, or Not

There are two kinds of people who watch movies or read books like The Sixth Sense or Fight Club which rely on big secrets for their intrigue. There are those who like to figure out what the big surprise of the story is going to be before it gets revealed and those who like to wait to be surprised by the story when it reveals its secrets in its own time. (Among movie-goers, there is a subset of the first kind who likes to blurt out the surprise midway through the movie, spoiling the fun for everyone within earshot. These people are called "jerks." I confess to being a recovering jerk.)

The story in Scott Sigler's new book, Alive, is one which relies heavily on big secrets and big reveals. Don't worry, I'm not going to spoil any of them.

read more

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Certain Slant of Light and Under the Light by Laura Whitcomb

Whether or not they contain ghosts, many books have been described as haunting. Laura Whitcomb's writing is definitely that, especially in her imaginative take on ghosts, A Certain Slant of Light and the follow-up novel, Under the Light.

For more than a hundred years, Helen has been a ghost with no way to communicate with the living. She can see people, but they can't see her -- until one day when someone looks right at her. James is a teenager, alive and well, and he wants to get to know her. The more they talk, the more is revealed about Helen's past, as she struggles to remember her life. How did she die? Why can James see her? Light reveals shades of darkness and traces of hope as Helen struggles to recall her life -- and James begins to make her a part of his life.

I strongly recommend reading A Certain Slant of Light first. Though I suppose you could read Under the Light on its own, trust me, if you know the characters went through in the first book, it will make the second book all the more poignant.

Trivia time: The title of the novel comes from an Emily Dickinson poem.

read more

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

Jennifer E. Smith has managed, with The Geography of You and Me, to write a YA romance that is a lot more about coming of age and finding your way then it is all the traditional dramaramaof teen love. Frankly, this is a story that readers who have little interest in romance will actually enjoy which is great. It's about connecting with somebody, about finding someone you like and getting to know them (in the most old fashioned of ways - through postcards!) rather than the sort of "he loves me/I love him/maybe I love another him more/tingly kisses/heavy petting" love triangle business that seems to be everywhere. (Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course.)

For a large part of The Geography of You and Me Lucy and Owen aren't even in the same country, let alone dating. The novel dwells more on the sudden connections that people can make and their sometimes surprising staying power. This might make it the most romantic of all scenarios after all but that is neither here nor there. It's a good read with good characters and a lot to say about family and that is what mattered to me and why I enjoyed it.

read more

Monday, April 27, 2015

Listen to some books this summer with SYNC

If you haven't listened to an audiobook before, here's your chance to try them out.

If you're already a fan of audiobooks, here's your chance to pick up some titles you may have already wanted to listen to.

The annual SYNC: YA Literature Into Your Earbuds promotion, which gives away two complete audiobook downloads a week--a current young adult title along with a thematically paired classic or required summer reading title--starts up again next week, on May 7. Each audiobook is available for free for one week only, based on a set schedule, so take a look at the schedule and start planning.

This year's lineup includes:

You must have the (free) OverDrive app or software installed on a smartphone, tablet, or computer to download the audiobooks, and based on previous years' procedures, I'm assuming you'll also have to supply an email address. But did I mention the audiobooks are free?

read more

Friday, April 24, 2015

Schottenfreude by Ben Schott

As an English major and later an English teacher, I observed a disturbing trend among some of my peers: a startlingly large number of them were positively gleeful about their inability to do math. I was always somewhat horrified by their protests of, "Oh, I'm an English major, I don't do math" -- I mean, it wasn't like I expected them to teach calculus or anything, but they were whipping out calculators to add pairs of two-digit numbers. By the time they stopped groaning about having to do math, found their calculators, and turned them on, I'd already done the arithmetic in my head. Still, they seemed quite content -- proud, even -- that simple math was beyond them. Their einmaleinswiedergabeschw├Ąchenstolz astonished and stuck with me.

What, you didn't know there was a word for that?

read more

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Big Game by Daniel Smith

Oskari REALLY doesn't want to go through the ritual hunt required by his village. What does spending the night out in the woods and killing something, anything have to do with signifying that he has become a man? As Oskari is heading to the hunting grounds he and his father discussed as his best chance for killing an animal, the sky opens up and a helicopter full of paramilitary men lands and proceeds to prepare for their mission - which happens to be shooting down Air Force One. As the plane goes down, the President is ejected from it in an escape pod. Oskari finds this pod, releases the President and they figure out just what is going on.They realize that they are now the prey being hunted. Now, the President must rely on the survival skills of this boy-in-the-process-of-becoming-a-man if he wants to get out of this wilderness alive. 

The book is now a movie slated for release on June 26th, 2015 and is rated PG-13. It should be an action packed adventure. 


read more

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Troubles of Johnny Cannon by Isaiah Campbell

Can a book for younger readers (middle school aged) combine aspects of  the  Civil Rights Movement, the Cold War and Cuba and still be entertaining? After reading Isaiah Campbell's The Troubles of Johnny Cannon I would definitely say yes.

read more

Monday, April 20, 2015

Utopia, Iowa by Brian Yansky

In the small town of Utopia people live very long lives and possess some very interesting quirks. One boy and his family are all very lucky, one of the school teachers always knows what is going to happen with the weather, there is an amazing batch of strawberry jam that shows up a few times of year courtesy a particularly gifted gardener and aspiring teen screenwriter Jack Bell sees dead people.

The crazy thing about Jack is that his "gift" isn't even the most amazing one in his family.

This is just how it is in Utopia. Some people believe in all the mystery, others do their best to ignore or even debunk it. Whatever. It's all live and let live mostly but then a girl dies at the local private college, (which includes coursework in mind reading, fortune-telling and teleportation), and starts visiting Jack. The problem with Alice is that she doesn't know how she died and the dead always know how they died. She wants Jack to sort it out and soon enough he discovers that her death is not the worst thing to happen in Utopia and rather is just the start of things getting a lot worse, especially for the guy stuck in the middle of it all.

read more