Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lisa Scottoline. LOOK AGAIN

After so many dystopians and fantasies, I was ready for a mystery! I had heard that Lisa Scottoline was going to be on a lunch panel that I attended at the Texas Library Association Conference last week, so I wanted to read one of her books. I'm so glad I did. I have another great mystery writer to recommend!

Ellen Gleeson's life changes dramatically one day because of a postcard in the mail. The postcard has a picture of a young boy with a caption that says, "Have you seen this child?" The picture looks remarkably like her own son. She decides to let it go. Surely it's a coincidence.

However, being a reporter, it was really hard for Ellen to let it go. She began researching her son's adoption. As she digs deeper and deeper, she gets a sinking feeling about the whole situation. What would she do if indeed her son wasn't really her son. What if he was kidnapped? What would she do with that information?

That's really all I need to say. I don't want to spoil any more of the plot, and it's a pretty intriguing concept without me saying much more.

I loved it! It was an emotional ride. I enjoyed the journey with Ellen. Of course, since I'm a mother, I could feel her anguish. There were real unexpected emotional sections that pulled at my heart. Ellen is a great character! I loved her boss and her father too. Anyone who picks this one up won't be able to put it down!

This is an adult mystery, but appropriate for high school teens.

Check out Lisa Scottolline and her other books here.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Lauren DeStefano. WITHER

Rhine and her twin brother are orphans because their parents were killed in a bombing at their medical facilities. They were working on a cure for the disease that has infected the human race. Females die at the age of 20, while males die at the age of 25.

The virus has caused a trend of kidnapping young girls and selling them to polygamous men who are anxious to bear offspring before they die. The men want to carry on the future generations, in hopes for a cure. For many of the girls, who are orphans living on the street, it's a better life for them.

But for Rhine, it's not a better life. Even though the life that her and her brother lead is tough, she is free. Unfortunately, she is tricked into answering an ad for a job and gets kidnapped. She's snatched with a group of other girls to a secret location. Three of the girls end up at a mansion where they are set up to become brides of Linden Ashby. His current bride is 20 and ill, so Linden's father is getting back ups for him.

Rhine realizes that she will be trapped there for the rest of her life, if she doesn't find a way to escape. The other two girls don't seem bothered by it. They even seemed enamored with the glitzy life they will lead at the mansion. However, Rhine is determined to escape and find her brother. She doesn't care about the money, the parties, and the fancy clothes. She just wants her freedom.

Authors are getting very creative with dystopians. I thought I'd heard it all, yet this book is very original. The idea that we could eventually genetically alter humans is intriguing. Furthermore, positing that doing so could have a greater negative impact is certainly plausible to me.

This book is well written. The inner conflict that Rhine feels is realistic and honest. The other characters are believable. The variety of reactions to being kidnapped and forced to marry are portrayed well in the other two girls. The are mysteries to uncover, as well as puzzles to solve. I loved it! I'm anxious to read the next book in the trilogy. It's called FEVER.

From what I can tell, this is Lauren DeStefano's first book. We've had a lot of great first books recently! There is a great new crop of authors out there today. Certainly, DeStefano is one to watch.

Check out the author's website here, and the website for the trilogy here.



Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sophie Flack. BUNHEADS

Hannah is living out her dream dancing for the prestigious Manhattan Ballet company. Ever since she was a little girl, she's sacrificed and worked diligently to work her way up to this point. She's enjoyed every minute of it. Her daily life consists of rehearsals and multiple perfomances, as well as yoga and pilates workouts. She lives and breathes for her dancing career. She is is currently dancing in the corps de ballet, meaning she isn't a soloist, so she works even more diligently hoping to be promoted to star.

One rare night off, Hannah visits her cousin's West Village restaurant to eat dinner where she meets handsome Jacob. She falls for his verve and his excitement about exploring everything the world has to offer. He wants to learn Italian to watch Fellini movies without subtitles. He's majoring in philosophy and art history and ecology.

Jacob and Hannah hit it off right away, but Hannah has a strict schedule and she has to cancel on Jacob often. Jacob is patient, but Hannah realizes that he won't wait on her forever. She must decide what her true priorities are before it's too late.

I've always been fascinated by the world of ballet. I took ballet briefly as a young girl (didn't we all?), but I don't really remember much. I've always considered it such a beautiful art. But I realize the strength involved too. Ballet dancers are a curious combination of strength and beauty. I love the details about being a dancer that this book offers. The author was a dancer for nine years with the New York City Ballet, so this is an accurate account of the daily life of a dancer.

Intellectually, one knows that being a dancer takes a lot of work, but to read about the day to day schedule of a ballet dancer is something different. I realize now how much these dancers really give up to live this life. Also, the toll that the schedule takes on their bodies is enormous, particularly considering that they do not nourish themselves like an athlete would. They actually try to do so much on so little food. It's amazing and a little frightening.

I really enjoyed the book. It's a well written, fascinating look into the inner workings of a ballet company. For more about the author check our her website here.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Laini Taylor. DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE

"You were true to her, even if she was not to you. Never repent of your own goodness, child. To stay true in the face of evil is a feat of strength."

DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE is one of the best fantasies I've read in a while. Laini Taylor is truly a gifted writer. Let me tell you right up front that my review won't even come close to doing it justice. But I'll forge ahead anyway.

Karou is a mystery to those around her. She attends art school, most of the time. But she tends to disappear from time to time, and she returns from these trips with injuries or illnesses. Her best friend has learned not to ask her about the details of her mysterious personal life.

What her friends at school don't know is that Karou was adopted as a baby into a family of chimaera, or what one might call monsters. Her father figure, Brimstone, is an interesting combination of lion, ram and dragon.

Although Karou has already moved out to her own apartment, she still visits Brimstone and his chimaera friends often at his shop. When she disappears on those mysterious trips, she is collecting odd items for Brimstone, who needs them for his sorcery. He's not forthcoming about what he does with these rare items. In fact, he's not forthcoming about a lot of things. Karou's own history is a mystery that she wonders about often. Then Karou meets an intriguing, beautiful angel named Akiva, who nearly kills her.

Karou discovers that she and Akiva are enemies on the opposite sides of a war between the chimaera and the angels. But Karou also feels an unusual connection to Akiva. Perhaps he can help unlock the mysteries of her past.

This is an original fantasy complete with fascinating characters, epic battles, and a fiery romance. The writing is exquisite. Laini Taylor has created a rich world that is pure perfection down to the tiniest detail. I was so delighted to see that this will be a trilogy!

You won't be able to put this one down!

Check out the author's website here.

And one of the trailers: