Zach’s Lie

June 23, 2009

Zach's Lie

Zach’s Lie by Roland Smith

Jack Osbourne has always lived a normal, suburban life with his parents and sister. Until the night he is woken up in the middle of the night by men who threaten to kill him, his mother and his sister if they don’t do exactly what they say. That was the night that changed everything. The night his father was arrested for drug trafficking, forcing he, his mother and sister into the Witness Protection Program. The night he became Zach Granger.

The Grangers live in a tiny town in Nevada’s Ruby Mountain, where everyone knows everything about everybody. Zach and his sister “Wanda” have made new friends, and their mother is on her way to opening a bookstore right in the center of town. Things are finally starting to look up. Will Zach’s family be safe here in their new haven, or is it just a matter of time before the danger from their past catches up to them?

Zach’s Lie is a great suspense thriller, perfect for fans of Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider series; I can’t wait to read the sequel, Jack’s Run.


The Fetch

June 23, 2009

The Fetch

The Fetch by Laura Whitcomb

Calder is a Fetch, an otherworldly escort who appears to people on death’s door. If a soul decides that it is ready to die, it is his job to use his key to open a door, through which lays the path to heaven. In general the living can not see him, and he is not to interfere with the soul’s decision. He knows that someday, he must choose a squire, a dying soul to whom he will offer his key, acceptance of which will apprentice them into a “life” as a Fetch. It has been over 400 years though, and Calder has yet to find the right soul. Until he sees her. A beautiful young woman, weeping for the dying soul of a baby boy. A woman that he is certain can sense his presence.

His overwhelming desire to meet this woman leads Calder to do the unthinkable. He convinces a dying soul to let him use his body, an action that creates havoc between the delicate balance of the real world and the afterlife. What Calder doesn’t realize is that the woman who fascinates him is Alexandra Romanov, the Empress of Russia, and that body he has taken belongs to Grigori Rasputin. What follows is a spiritual and epic story set in the midst of the Russian Revolution, where worlds dangerously begin to collide and overlap.

Overall, despite being a little slow in spots, I really enjoyed this book. Going into it, I didn’t know about the historical context of this story, with Whitcomb offering an explanation about the mystery which surrounds the Romanov family. Without this context, this would have just been another book about a supernatural being. I would definitely recommend this to teens who like the otherworldly books, but are looking for something with a little more depth.

The Eternal Smile

June 23, 2009

eternal smile cover

The Eternal Smile by Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim

I have to say, one great thing about Gene Luen Yang is that I’m always caught off guard by his books. As in American Born Chinese, you never really know which direction the stories in The Eternal Smile are going. Co-written with Derek Kirk Kim, this trio of short graphic novel stories combine human nature and fantasy in a way that really makes you have to stop and think, especially when you realize that in each story, not everything is what it initially appears to be.

There is Duncan, who harbors princely aspirations; Gran’pa Greenbax, a frog who thinks money is the key to the world; and Janet, a 9-5 sales representative who longs for an African prince to come save her. Each one learns a life lesson is a most unexpected way.


June 17, 2009

Forever by Pete Hamill

I’ve put off writing about this book for a while now. I loved it so much, I’m not sure I can really do it justice without giving away the magic of the book.

Forever begins Ireland during the 1740s. Cormac O’Connor is a boy who learns that he is half Irish, half Jewish in a time and place where the only acceptable heritage is to be an English Protestant. After the death of his family, he accepts the Irish vow to avenge his father’s death by ending the familial line of his father’s killer, the Earl of Warren.

This vow takes him on an adventure, crossing the Atlantic to the bustling port city of New York. Through a series of events and encounters, Cormac is granted immortality (this is where I don’t really want to ruin the plot). His immortality comes at a price though….he may never again leave the island of Manhattan. Doing so would be considered suicide, a death that would prevent him from ever joining his family in the afterlife of the Otherworld. The story then follows Cormac through the ages as he tries not only to really live, but also stay true to his original vow of avenging his father’s death.

It’s been a really long time since I’ve loved a book as much as I loved this one. It weaved a wonderful story, combining history together with a bit of magic. I’m kind of sad that it had to end.

BPM (Beats Per Minute)

June 17, 2009

BPM (Beats Per Minute) by Paul Sizer

I saw that another librarian had read this, and I just had to check it out. BPM (Beats Per Minute) tells the story of Roxy, a New York City DJ who is trying to work her way up through the clubs as she struggles to maintain her personal life. After a chance meeting with a recluse DJ legend, her sets start to improve until she finally has a chance to fill in for a friend at one of the hippest clubs in the city.

Overall, the story was good, but not great. What really made me love the book was the attention to detail. Each page has a song listed at the bottom, a sort of tracklist/mixed tape for the book (which can be found on I-Tunes). There was also a Liner Notes section that pointed out various background type details in the panels throughout the book.

Paul Sizer really captured what it is like to love music and spinning; in the forward of the book he claims that this is his “love letter to the two things he’s loved since he was a kid.”

The Girl Who Could Fly

June 17, 2009

The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester

Piper McCloud knows that she is a little different than the other people in Lowland County…mainly because, well, she can fly. And flying makes someone different, which in Lowland County is not a good thing. For eleven years, Piper’s parents have kept her questionable gift a secret by homeschooling her, keeping her busy with chores and forbidding her to fly.

However all the years of secrecy are broken at a town picnic when Piper, in a desperate attempt to win friends, uses her gift to catch a fly ball in a baseball game. Between the frenzied newspaper and TV reporters, and the whispering townspeople, the quiet life that the McClouds’ had built for themselves seems destroyed.

Until Dr. Hellion arrives.

Dr. Hellion works for a government agency that seeks out “extraordinary” children, inviting them to attend an institute where they will learn to control their gifts. Piper makes the decision to go with the doctor, thinking that this will be best not only for her, but for her family as well. At the institute (which is really a thirteen level, state of the art, underground facility hidden in the Arctic), Piper meets children who are also different, among them the electrical Kimber, super-intelligent Conrad, size shifting Violet and the weather controlling twins, Nalin and Ahmed Mustafa. The institute seems too good to be true, and soon Piper learns they are all in danger….but is it too late to do anything?

When I first read about this book, I couldn’t help but feel it was a total rip-off of the X-men (which happens to be one of my favorite comics). However, this was also the same thing that attracted me to the book so much. After reading it, I realized my initial impression was kind of right…but I liked the characters and the story so much, I just didn’t care. This is a great book for boys and girls who are superhero fans, but need something more substantial to read.

No Such Thing as the Real World: Stories about growing up and geting a life

May 14, 2009

No Such Thing as the Real World: Stories About Growing Up and Getting a Life

I wanted to like this. I really did. I mean M.T. Anderson, An Na, K.L. Going, Beth Kephart, Chris Lynch and Jacqueline Woodson? That is some heavy talent in the teen fiction world. But these stories…most of them just fell completely flat for me.

That said, there were a few bright points. Chris Lynch’s story about a teen who learns some hard truths about his recently dead father when he takes over the family pawnshop made you wonder if it is better to know the truth or live with your perception of someone. Jacqueline Woodson’s story of a gay dancer questioning the meaning of family was interesting. For me, the strongest of the collection was “Survival” by K.L. Going, a story where a girl learns the hard way that you can’t always count on the people closest to you.

Overall, not really the best collection of stories. The coolest thing about the book is the contest that the editors are running. Teens between the ages of 14 and 19 are invited to submit a short story about a single, life changing event. The winner will have their story published in the paperback edition of the book. More info about that contest can be found on the HarperTeen website.