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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Somebody Please Tell Me Who I Am (YA)

Book #22 Read in 2014
Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am by Harry Mazer and Peter Lerangis (YA)

I liked Mazer's historical trilogy which started A Boy at War, so I was excited about this book.  Like the series, this book was a quick read.  It told the story of Benjamin Bright, a teenager who enlists in the Army upon high school graduation, despite the protests of his parents, best friend and fiancĂ©e.  Ben is injured in the line of duty and returns home with a traumatic brain injury.  He needs to re-learn vocabulary, how to do simple tasks and who his family members are.  This book gives good insight to what someone with a TBI might face and also the stress of this injury upon family and friends.  The ending was a little too nicely tied up for me but I guess I should have expected that from Mazer's other books.  Overall, a decent read.

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made (YA)

Book #21 Read in 2014
Timmy Failure:  Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis (YA)

This was a cute, quick read.  Timmy Failure is a young boy who has his own detective agency, partnered with Total, a polar bear.  Timmy tries to solve various cases with varying degrees of success.  There is a lot of humor in this book (some of which may be over the heads of the targeted audience) and cute illustrations throughout the book.  Timmy is a likable character and I see that a second book is coming out next week.  This book was fun.

Forgive Me Leonard Peacock (YA)

Book #20 Read in 2014
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick (YA)

This is a gritty, emotionally powerful young adult novel detailing the mental ramblings of Leonard Peacock, a teenager who decides to kill a classmate and then himself on his birthday as a way of putting himself out of his misery.  Leonard is highly intelligent and highly messed up.  He does try to reach out for help in his own dysfunctional way with limited success.  His parents ignore him, his classmates avoid him and he really has no connection with anyone except his Holocaust Studies teacher and his elderly neighbor. 

This book was a hard one to read and a hard one to put down.  It is a raw, inside look of a mentally ill person.  Readers will hope that Leonard is saved in time and given help.  This was my first book by Quick and I enjoyed it.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Butter (YA)

Book #19 Read in 2014
Butter by Erin Jade Lange (YA)

Butter is the nickname of an obese teenager.  He decides that he has had enough of life and creates a website detailing his plans for enjoying his last meal on New Year's Eve, a meal that will cause diabetic complications enough to hopefully kill him.  The website takes on a life of its own and the popular kids at school begin to include Butter in their plans...but are they really his friends?  Will he go through with his suicidal plan or reach out in time for help?

This book has a great voice to it.  It reminded me of the voice in the young adult book Fat Kid Rules the World...and that isn't just because both main characters were larger than life--literally.  This book is powerful and will keep readers engaged.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Arrangement

Book #18 Read in 2014
The Arrangement by Suzanne Forster

This book reminded me of the book Gone Girl....I didn't really like any of the characters or find anything redeeming about them...but I had to finish the book to see what happened to them.  In The Arrangement, Allison was swept overboard and her husband, Andrew, is blamed.  She is then found...or was she?  It turns out that Andrew replaced his wife with Marnie, a deformed local girl who was also thought to be dead.  He wants to use her to flush out Allison's true killer so that he can be freed from suspicion.  A long line of suspects exist, including Allison's dysfunctional mother Julia and her mentally ill brother. 

This book has good twists and turns in it.  As I said above, none of these characters are truly innocent and some are not even decent people.  That being said, readers will want to see what happens to them, if they get their just desserts and how this book will end.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Dog Called Homeless (YA)

Book #17 Read in 2014
A Dog Called Homeless by Sarah Lean (YA)

This was a cute book for elementary children....though it had a lot going on in it.  Cally's mother is killed in a car accident; Cally's father cannot bear to talk about his wife and how he misses her.  Cally then stops talking at all, communicating through nods and gestures and, with her new friend Sam, through sign language.  Cally connects with a stray dog she named Homeless, and Sam and his mother.  Eventually Cally finds her voice and connects all of these players in ways that might surprise readers.

As for this book, there were many heavy plot points for a book geared towards readers of such a young age.  There was the death of Cally's mother, disabilities, homelessness and other issues that could make this need to be a read aloud book so that discussion of these topics could happen.  Overall, it was a good, quick read.

Double Click

Book #16 Read in 2014
Double Click by Lisa Becker

I received an ebook of this copy from the author to review a long time ago and I woefully neglected it....and now that I read it (in one day!) I don't know what took me so long to get to it!  Double Click is the sequel to Click:  A Love Story, which I loved.  These books are told totally in emails...between friends Renee (and her boyfriend Ethan), Shelly, Ashley (and husband Greg), Mark and in this book, Mark's new girlfriend Cassidy.  The emails are funny, telling and real.  The characters are developed through this format in a way that makes one appreciate Becker's great writing.  I recommend these books.  I am hoping that there will be a book 3...and if I score a review copy of that one, I promise not to take forever to read it! 

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Certain October (YA)

Book #15 Read in 2014
A Certain October by Angela Johnson (YA)

I have enjoyed Johnson's books The First Part Last and Heaven and A Certain October kept that streak going....Scotty is in a train crash with her friend Kris and her younger autistic brother Keone.  Scotty feels responsible for all that happens after the crash and tries to heal--inside and out.  This is a good, quick read that has elements of teenage romance, humor and characters that one will care about. 

The Reading Circle

Book #14 Read in 2014
The Reading Circle by Ashton Lee

I received an ARC of this book....the review will posted closer to the book's April publication date.....

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

If You Find Me (YA)

Book #13 Read in 2014
If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch (YA)

This book will break your heart but you will not be able to put it down.  Carey was kidnapped by her mentally ill mother at a young age.  She practically raised her younger sister and will do anything to protect her.  As a teenager, her father finds them and brings them to his home. Carey begins high school and realizes that she knows nothing of "normal" life.  The  things she endured in her mother's trailer may keep her from ever feeling truly normal.  Can she get past her horrible history?

Carey and her younger sister Jenessa will immediately grab the hearts of readers.  Their stepmother Melissa is wonderful.  This book is young adult realistic fiction that blends a compelling plot with a young romance.  I recommend it.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Words with Fiends

Book #12 Read in 2014
Words with Fiends by Ali Brandon

This is the third book in a great cozy mystery series.  Darla owns a bookstore, inherited from her aunt, but seems to have a knack for doing some investigatory work on the side.  She gets assistance in her crime solving from Hamlet, her late aunt's big black cat.  Hamlet has a way of knocking out books whose titles help solve the mystery. In this book, Darla's martial arts sensei is murdered and Darla begins her own investigation.  Of course, Hamlet has to help along the way.

I love this series.  At first this one was a little hard for me to get into as I love Hamlet and the bookstore setting and most of the action in this book took place in the dojo.  But the book's ending made it worthwhile and Hamlet once again was in the forefront.  I cannot wait for book #4.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Hiss and Tell

Book #11 Read in 2014
Hiss and Tell by Pam Johnson-Bennett

Johnson-Bennett is a cat behaviorist and each chapter of this book details one of her cat cases.  Some are heartwarming; some are humorous.  All provide good tips to use when dealing with some bad behavior by your own cats.  Johnson-Bennett writes well; the sections flow nicely.  I recommend it for the cat lovers.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Clockwork Scarab (YA)

Book #10 Read in 2014
The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason (YA)

This is a novel where the main characters are Mina Holmes, niece of Sherlock, and Evaline Stoker, sister of Bram.  In this steampunk young adult novel, the two are pressed into service to find out why young socialites are turning up dead.  Both girls bring a set of skills to the investigation--Mina, her brains and Evaline, her vampire slayer strength and speed.  The two try to figure out how to work together, in order to save other socialites from being killed. 

I enjoyed this novel a lot and hope that there is more in this series.  The two main characters were well written and interesting.  The steampunk element was subtle and well-connected to the plot.  Secondary characters such as Dylan and Pix were engaging.  I recommend it.