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In my days, we had dial up Internet, and all of our video games were pixelated!

The Internet.  It is so big I have not yet found the end of it, and that is not for lack of trying.  What really slows my Internet exploration is Facebook.  I can be quite distracted by Facebook.  Mostly because my sisters post 8 million photos and I have to go through and make sure that all the pictures of me are not too silly.  They almost always are, but that is okay, I am exceedingly silly.  The point is, if there was a point to this at all, that the Internet before Facebook was slightly less distracting.  There was also less of a chance of people finding out things about you, like your favorite muffin or just how much you love cats.  But what if you stumbled upon your Facebook page before Facebook even existed?  What if you saw your future via status updates and decided that you did not like what you saw?  Would Facebook make you change your future?  That is what Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler explore in The Future of Us.

 

Emma and Josh are two normal high school students just trying to survive in 1996.  This is before iPods, before smartphones, and in a time when less than half of American high school students had ever used the Internet.  So when Emma’s dad sends her a computer and Josh’s mom receives and America Online CD-ROM, Josh’s mom naturally gives Emma the CD.  Seems pretty basic, right?  Wrong!  Emma logs on to discover herself on Facebook, fifteen years in the future.  She can see where she goes to college, who she is still friends with, and who she is married too.  She convinces Josh to come over (no small feat, she did reject him stunningly six months earlier) and they peer into his future as well.  Knowing your future could be pretty cool, right?  Get to see if you made all the right choices and such.  But Emma hates her future.  She is set to go change her Facebook page entirely, and she really doesn’t care what she has to do to ensure her perfect future.  But can Josh let her change her future when it could ruin his own?

 

My attention was grabbed and held by this book because of the attention to detail.  It may seem silly, but all the little mentions of things like Discmans and Green Day and how cool and new cellphones are is what kept you rooted in 1996.  If you do not remember that, it can make the Internet and the discovery of Facebook less amazing.  In order for you to be wowed by how far in the future they are seeing you need to be solidly rooted in the past.  The teens in this book were all wonderful teens in terms of characterization.  Even the bit players who you only met briefly were nicely fleshed out in a way that made them more than two dimensional caricatures.  Parts were a little bit predictable, but that did not make them any less satisfying when they happened.  In fact, most of the time I spent wanting them to happen, so I was always very happy when the predictable finally occurred.  That sentence might not make sense right now, but if you read the book, you will see exactly what I mean.

Reading Books about Horses Makes Me Cry.

It does!  I have ridden and been around horses since I was seven years old, and nothing is ever going to change the fact that horses are awesome.  So when you give me a book about two girls from New Hampshire going on a road trip to save an old horse, well that pretty much guarantees that I am going to be weeping like a leaky faucet all over everything.  If you too feel like crying over horses, or just reading the road tripping adventures of two New Hampshire girls, then you should check out the newest addition to our collection. And did I mention the cowboys?  There are totally cowboys.

Finding Somewhere by Joseph Monniger is the story of two girls; Hattie and Delores who decide to give Hattie’s favorite horse a chance to be just that, a horse.  Speed has been a patient farm pony all his life, giving children pony rides and generally being a well-behaved animal.  Now on the eve of his death, Hattie has decided that she cannot just watch him be put down; he needs the chance to be free.  With the help of her best friend Delores, the two girls abscond with the horse in the dark of night and drive off to find an open place out west where Speed can finally be a free horse.  Along the way they’ll have to dodge phone calls from parents, a cop or two, and figure out exactly where they want to go after this adventure?  Is New Hampshire the place for them, or is there a reason that they were so desperate to help this horse be free?

The two girls in this book are absolutely wonderful.  I loved every moment of their adventure together.  I had my doubts that Mr. Monniger would be able to really capture that feeling of having a best friend that you would do anything for, even break the law, just to ensure that she would be safe and happy.  I can say for certain that he captured that kind of awe-inspiring friendship so well it made my heart ache.  The more difficult relationship to accurately portray was probably the one between Hattie and Speed, I mean, it is pretty one-side, with Speed being a horse and all.  But once again you really got the sense of just why Hattie was so desperate to do anything to save Speed, and how much him being happy meant to her.  It does tread the fine line between helping and harming an animal from loving it too much, and I was glad to see this issue addressed and handled well through the interactions of all the characters.  A  wonderful book about a not so epic journey that ends with new beginnings for all.  Read it.

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

I used to be.  Back in the day when I thought there was a guy under my bed waiting for me to fall asleep so he could grab me.  And maybe I was still a little frightened when things were really quiet in the dorm of my undergrad college and I was sure that everyone had disappeared from campus.  The dark is also kind of daunting when I am camping at night and the trees move and it could be a bear or a murderer or a squirrel.  So while I am not afraid of the dark, I do have a healthy respect for it.  But what if you could not stop being afraid?  What if your fear was ruling your life?  What would you do if someone told you they could get rid of your fear forever?  Would you do it, no matter what the cost?

Patrick Carman’s Dark Eden tackles this question.  First you meet Will Besting.  He has been scared for a long time, and his therapist has finally told him that there is nothing more she can do to cure him.  He has only one last option, to go away on a retreat with six other incurable teens to finally overcome their fears.  Will is against going, he is fine living his life in constant terror.  But once his parent shave decided that he is going, there is no stopping it from happening.  Good thing that Will just happened to download the other six patients’ audio files, and a map of the retreat area.  Now Will exists in a world where he knows everything about everyone, and he is just going to hide away until the week is over.  That was the plan before he saw the monitors, before he saw what happened to Ben, and before he decided to trust one of the six.

 

This book intrigued and at points overwhelmed me.  You see all the action through Will’s eyes, and at points it can be frustrating, not knowing everything at once.  The good thing about this book is that is connected to a website that allows you to explore more about the book, audio files, diaries, video, etc.  The downside is that apparently only the first segment is free.  I did have fun rummaging around the site though.  All in all, Dark Eden is a book with an interesting premise, and an author who has the know how to pull it off.  I fell like this could have been a silly idea coming from anyone else, but the book and all of the multi-media additions; make for a really interesting experience.  Definitely not the book to miss.

Doublespeak and big brother.

So this weekend I may or may not have dressed up as a zombie librarian and shuffled through streets scaring people. If you did see my awesomely bloody visage and it frightened you, I would be sorry but that was totally what I meant to do! Before I ran around as a zombie, I did have the time to read a fabulous new dystopia book that we just added to our collection here at the Tucker Free. I highly recommend coming on over to check it out!

Scored by Lauren McLaughlin takes place in a world that is pretty much identical to where we live now. Parents still work, kids go to school, and everyone lives in harmony for the most part. Well, the kids live in harmony as long as they hang out with their score group and maintain their scores no matter the cost. See in this future, a private corporation decided that if kids were scored based on the choices they made and the friends they had, they would work harder to be better. If you score above a 90, then college is paid for and you are pretty much set for life. Score below a 70, and you can kiss all your hopes and dreams goodbye. Imani has always been an above 90 girl. Her best friend Cady, was in the 90s once, but has fallen to the low 70s and it does not look like she will be able to move her scored up anytime soon. You are supposed to stick with your score gang. Imani is supposed to hang out with the other 90s. But how do you forget your best friend? How does some faceless corporation who is watching your every move decided that one person’s actions affect you, even if you have no idea that they were doing something. More importantly, how do you deal with an unscored boy deciding that he wants your help to take down a system that holds the key to changing your future?

Zombies + Pizza = A pretty decent weekend!

So this weekend I found myself with a little down time in the evening.  The other half was wrapped up in course work, so of course I had to be super studious by his side!  And by super studious I mean reading a whole bunch of amazing and incredible books.  Mine have fewer diagrams of human bodies, but they have way more magic and unexplained phenomena.  All the hard work of reading led to a brief pizza break, a viewing of a truly epic horror film, and then more reading!  All in all, a truly satisfying October weekend.

Unforsaken by Sophie Littlefield had me at zombies.  Though in all honesty it was not the zombies that kept me reading.  Instead, it was the amazing characters and the awesome adventure they went through.  Which more than made up for the fact that the zombies in this book are very much in the background.  Hailey is a sixteen year old girl with the amazing ability to heal.  This power is hers because she descends from the Banished, who came to America from Ireland centuries ago.  Healing, however, is not her only power, that would be too simple.  Hailey can also create zombies, but only if she tries to heal someone when it is too late.  She is finally getting a chance at a normal life, after surviving some unimaginable hardships she finally has a home with her Aunt Prairie and little brother Chubs.  That is all shattered after a secret call to her secret boyfriend Kaz.  Someone tapped the line.  Someone knows where she is living.  And that someone just kidnaped her aunt and brother.  Hailey and Kaz go on a cross-country journey to save their loved ones and protect the Banished from mysterious forces who would exploit them.  They can only hope they’re not too late.

Fantastic plot, wonderful concept and some beautifully created characters.  Littlefield gives herself a solid base on which to make crazy things happen in Unforsaken, and I loved every minute of it.  The powers that Hailey and her family have are understated in the best way.  They never discover an ability that can magically save the day, they have to rely on their wits and the power they already have and have mastered.  The action was superb.  All too often a girl can be overshadowed in a story like this by her oh so hunky boyfriend.  While Kaz does sound oh so hunky, he never becomes the main action guy.  He and Hailey are truly equals in all of the action scenes and plotting and that makes it wonderful to read.  They work so well as a team that I had no trouble believing that two sixteen year olds could take down this mysterious and evil corporation.  The back story is given to the reader in wonderful little hints and subtle remembering of the past.  Never feels out of place, never feels forced and it always is relevant to what is going on at that point in the story.  Overall, I loved this story and cannot wait to get my hands on its companion title!

There are more things on heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

So it was rainy, and dreary, and gross.  The weather this weekend was remarkably like that of Prague.  Prague happens to be a city in which most of the book I read this weekend takes place.  Coincidence?  I think not!  I controlled the weather via my reading choices!  Next time I’ll read a book about fire raining down from the sky and see what happens.  Anywho, the book I read this weekend had some fabulous word creation, great mythology, and a heroine who grew on me like a tumor.  You hate it at first, then get used to it, then when it is removed you kind of miss it in a weird way.

My reluctantly liked heroine came from a book by Laini Taylor called Daughter of Smoke and Bone.  Karou fills her sketchbooks with picture of monsters that don’t exist, and tells tales of what they do in their far away world.  Only, their world isn’t so far away.  In fact, it is accessible via a portal just 10 minutes away from her apartment.  Karou has always known these monsters, they are her family.  They are, in fact, the only part of herself that she is very sure about.  But the world is stirring around her, and more creatures are coming out of the woodwork.  Is there something more to Brimstone’s tooth business than meets the eye?  Is there a reason that scorched handprints have been showing up on all the doors?  And who is the stunningly beautiful man who Karou senses following her, and why did he try to kill her?

This book had a heroine who I was sure was going to make me want to hurt myself rather than finish reading about her.  I was all set to hate her.  And then she had to turn out to be kind of awesome.  She never became a blundering wreck, she did not immediately fall for her one true love, and even when she did, she was very reasonable and controlled about the whole thing.  Karou had wonderful perks and some great flaws, and I would let her travel by my side if I had to kick some otherworldly angel booty.  The romance storyline was wonderfully done and meshed in well with the books mythos and world creation.  At no time did I find myself not believing the world that Ms. Taylor was creating, even though it was very far-fetched.

There is nothing better than a Slayer.

So I have always loved me some vampire slaying action.  Since Buffy showed up when I was in middle school, I have loved the idea that there is someone out there destroying these devious creatures of the night.  I like my blood exactly where it is thank you very much!  So last night, when I was home alone and totally vulnerable to vampire attack, I decided to read a book about a vampire slayer, in the hopes of deterring any blood-sucking demons hoping to leap through my windows.  Since I was not attack by a vampire, I am going to say that it was successful!

The wonderful Heather Brewer decided that she could not just leave the world of Vladimir Tod without giving us Joss’s side of the story. The Slayer Chronicles: First Kill takes us back to the beginnings of Joss McMillan’s journey toward becoming a full-fledged slayer.  The road is not always easy, but Joss takes on the deadly task of becoming a vampire slayer to avenge the death of his beloved younger sister, Cecile.  Joss saw Cecile being drained by a vampire at the tender age of ten, and since then has been training towards killing the monster that took her from him.  Through his hard work and dedication, it looks like Joss may have a shot at becoming the most awesome slayer of them all.  That is if he can keep the other slayers from turning on each other.  And if he could just stop asking questions about exactly why the slayers are doing what they do…

Ms. Brewer weaves another fascinating tale, and this one all about slayers.  It takes some getting used to, especially after reading all of the Vladimir Tod books and knowing how vampires interact with one another and the world at large.  Beyond Joss, you are hard pressed to find a slayer who does not believe that they are fighting soulless evil monsters who are things rather than people.  That being said, the interactions, albeit brief, between Joss and the vampires have amazing potential.  The slayers are pretty two dimensional, but we are introduced to eight or so at one time, and they all just seem to be about the killing.  It is a promising start for what will undoubtedly be another amazing series by Heather.  Wing by the library to pick it up!