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.
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.
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?
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!
So I picked up a book I would have never in a million years chosen to read, and decided to give it a shot. I went through a few basic stages that one goes through when reading a new book they are not sure about. First there was disgust; I could not believe I was reading this book that was written in such a convoluted way. The second was despair, this book would never end! After disgust came grudging respect, the plot was picking up and things were coming together, I hated life a little bit less. Lastly was acceptance and love. While I may have wanted to throw the book across the room when I started, by the end I was so involved in reading it I would not have heard if someone had thrown my entire book collection across the room.
The book that had me so emotionally confused was As I Wake by Elizabeth Scott. Poor Ava wakes up in a room she doesn’t recognize, surrounded by people she doesn’t recognize, being told who she is and that everything will be okay. She just has a minor case of memory loss. Ava is convinced that something isn’t right; she remembers nothing about the world she lives in, but keeps having flashbacks to a world she feels is where she belongs. A world filled with a nasty government, secret agencies that spy on you, and Morgan. All of these memories jumble together with impressions of people she vaguely remembers, she knows her friends, but in a very different world then the one she lives in. Is she really the Ava that everyone says she is? Or is there another world out there, one in which she truly belongs?
This book did not impress me at first. The book is written from Ava’s point of view, so for the first few chapters as she is struggling with what is happening to her, you are struggling right alongside her. You keep waiting for the explanation that will make everything clear, that will let you truly grasp what is going on in this book. Fortunately, as Ava figures things out, what has happened to her becomes clearer, the writing style fleshes itself out, and just like Ava is gaining balance in her world, the writing of the book gains balance as well. Elizabeth Scott does a good job of separating what is happening in the world where Ava is and the world where she remembers being. The characterization of the people in the different worlds is done wonderfully and helps to add to Ava’s confusion, as well as helping her solve some problems she is facing. This is a book that I feel I am going to have to revisit, just because there is so much happening under the surface that I feel like things were explained to me and I completely missed them when I was caught up in the action of the book. Overall, As I Wake is a wonderful work and I hope you come to the Tucker Free Library to check it out for yourself!
So this weekend I was a bus warrior. I traversed the route from New Hampshire to Boston and from Boston to NYC. Along the way I battled boredom, hunger, and the weird smelly guy that always seems to want to sit next to me. Thanks to this book, a granola bar and throwing bags on the seat next to me I survived. Barely. The latest addition to our Young Adult collection was riveting enough to keep me thoroughly entertained during this journey, and that speaks words in and of itself. It also happens to be a wonderful book modeled after one of my all-time favorite Greek plays (and yes, I have all-time favorite Greek plays) Lysistrata.
Shut Out by Kody Keplinger is a book that focuses on the unique solution a few ingenious girls come up with for a heinous problem. At Hamilton high school, the biggest rivalry is not with another school, but is between the football team and soccer team. This rivalry has been going on for so long that no one on either team really knows why it started. What they do know is that they love pranking and terrorizing each other beyond reasonable belief. Who gets caught in the middle you may wonder? The girlfriends. Constantly ignored or shoved aside so that their boyfriends can continue this stupid feud. They have had enough, especially when a freshman soccer player is seriously injured due to a prank. Lissa, the girlfriend of the quarterback comes up with an ingenious plan in order to end the feud once and for all. She convinces the girlfriends of all the players to go on a hookup strike. Until the boys decide to be friends, they won’t get any action. The plan seems to be working, but what happens when the boys start working together? Will the hookup strike go on too long? Or will the girls finally win back their boyfriends once and for all?
This was a weekend of epic reading. I wish I had been reading these books while punching a shark. Or jumping out of a flaming dirigible. Or building a log cabin out of toothpicks and unicorn tears. But alas, I read these books on my couch, which is epically awesome in its own way, but nowhere near as cool as a couch made out of live badgers. Then again, I cannot imagine a live badger couch would be very comfortable. Or conducive to reading. Thankfully my couch is, and I therefore spent some quality time reading The Power of Six and the haunting Sweetly.
The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore is the long awaited sequel to the thrilling I Am Number Four. This is a continuation of Four, Sam and Six’s adventures, with the added bonus of number Seven! While at times I found I Am Number Four to be slow and tedious, I never felt that way with the sequel. Talk about fast paced and riveting. The constant switch between Four and Seven, noted by slight but noticeable text changes, was well executed. We go easily from chapter to chapter alternating between Four and Seven, following two stories at once. You never feel lost or out of place, and everything flows together very naturally. When it comes time for the separate stories to merge, it is such an awesome back and forth that you just do not want to put the book down. I loved all the action in the sequel, most of the set up was taken care of in the first book, so we can really get into the alien slaying action. Now questions are answered in this book, and in a very satisfying manor. Things that could be ridiculous are handled in a wonderfully believable way as well, not once was I left feeling like the author pulled an answer out of thin air just to appease me. While the first book left me a little wanting, the sequel has only left me wanting more. You can trust that this librarian will be on the edge of her seat until Mr. Lore deems it time to release the next book.
I love fairy tales. I love fairy tale retellings. I have never had a retelling haunt my dreams quite like Sweetly by Jackson Pearce. Seriously, this book made me wake up in the middle of the night panicking, and I don’t even have a ton of woods around me. The writing is wonderful and descriptive, and I love the heroine. You all know how rare it is for me to love a heroine. They really need to be awesome to win my respect and Jackson Pearce has written an extremely awesome heroine. Sweetly is the story of Ansel and Gretchen, a brother and sister who lost Gretchen’s twin one fateful day in the woods. After their mother died and father remarried, they knew their step mother held no love for them. This was confirmed when she kicked them out of the house the moment that Gretchen turned 18. Glad to be able to get away from the forests of Washington which haunted them, the siblings drove as far away as humanly possible. All the way to South Carolina in fact. It may have been bad luck, or fate, that made their car break down in the middle of a washed up town. Things look up when the pretty woman who runs the local candy shop lets them stay with her in exchange for doing some work around the house. While Ansel is trying to impress the pretty Sophia, Gretchen is being draw to Samuel, a loner who seems to know more about what is happening in the woods around town that anyone cares to know. What is going bump in the woods at night? And does Gretchen really want to find out?