Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from January, 2012

Welcome to Bordertown

Welcome to Bordertown is a collection of YA urban fantasy stories and poems by numerous authors and is edited by Holly Black and Ellen Kushner.

Inside this large volume are thirteen short stories, one graphic novella, and eight poems – all of which are centered on the city of Bordertown. Bordertown sits on the edge of the human world and elfin realm and is a place where different rules apply. Neither magic nor technology is highly reliable there and runaways and fantasy-lovers find refuge here – sometimes.

It’s not a perfect place. Many find that they are leaving one kind of prejudice behind for another. But it is a place where music, art, and imagination flourish and people learn more about themselves.

Yet nobody has been able to enter Bordertown for thirteen years. For whatever reason, the way was blocked. On the side of Bordertown, only thirteen days passed. But now that is has reopened both sides are crashing together in the confusion of new residents, new technology, and all sorts o…

Where Wildflowers Bloom

Where Wildflowers Bloom is an inspirational historical romance by Ann Shorey.

Twenty-year-old Faith is haunted by the Civil War, which is only recently over in 1866. Her small Missouri town of Noble Springs only plagues her with memories of her father and brother, both of whom died in the war – and she’s desperate to leave.

Her grandfather, the only family Faith has left, has strong roots in the town though. His mercantile is a common shop among their neighbors, and he only recently turned over the reins to Faith to manage, causing rather a bit of scandal in Noble Springs for having a female manager, which is practically unheard of.

Despite her managing the store, she knows that only her grandfather can sell – and it’ll be necessary if her dream to travel west to Oregon with him to start a new life free of the constant reminders of their heavy loss will ever happen. But as she’s trying to work out how to broach the subject to him, Royal Baxter returns to town.

For years Faith has constant…

You Against Me

You Against Me is a YA contemporary novel by Jenny Downham, author of the bestselling Before I Die.

Eighteen-year-old Mikey is trying to hold everything together. His sister Karyn has been sexually assaulted by Tom Parker when she partied at his house. She’s become terrified of leaving their home, refuses to go back to school, and only just got the courage up to report what happened the day after. His mom is handling it by drinking more – so Mikey is juggling work, taking care of his little sister, and watching Karyn disintegrate. He needs to be a good brother and seek revenge – right?

Sixteen-year-old Ellie Parker is shaken by the crime her brother has been accused of. She’s being named the only witness and his best chance of getting off. Everyone is telling her what a liar and loser Karyn is – and she tries to agree. Her brother says he didn’t do it, after all. That would make Karyn a liar then… So she needs to be a good sister and defend him – right?

When Mikey and Ellie meet, Mikey’s…

The Colonel's Lady

The Colonel’s Lady is a Christian-based historical romance from Laura Frantz.

Roxanna Rowan is determined to reach the remote Kentucky fort her father is serving at – now that her mother has died and her betrothal has ended in humiliation, she has nothing left in Virginia. She’s desperate to reunite with her father, whom she’s always been close to, and with whom she hasn’t seen in a long time – due to the war for America’s independence in the year we are following: 1779.

However, once the campaign returns to the fort Roxanna is told her father died in action. She has no options, no family, and no money. She’s in strange, wild land not quite civilized among the immense dangers of battle. To brave leaving the fort’s walls without her father by her side seems impossible.

So, when Colonel Cassius McLinn, an Irish patriot highly respected by his soldiers, invites Roxana to stay on as scrivener, her father’s position, she feels she has no choice but to accept. He’s offering her wages and safet…

The Project

The Project is YA thriller by Brian Falkner.

It all begins when trouble-making buds Luke and Tommy call The Last of the Mohicans the most boring book in the world in front of their principal. They’re given a goal: prove the book is indeed the most boring book in the world through an outside source, and not only will they be allowed to do their report on another novel, but they’ll also avoid punishment on their latest escapade.

During that particular research, Luke learns of a book called Leonardo’s River. There is only one remaining copy surviving, and it has been misplaced over the last one hundred years. Apparently, this is the most boring book in the world. And it’s so rare and so weird, that there are people offering two million dollars from it!

Before he’s able to continue his study to get Tommy and him out of trouble, a major flood is starting and they volunteer to help out at the library. There they assist in moving the books tucked away in the basement to higher ground – and that…

Tiffany's Table Manners

Tiffany’s Table Manners for Teenagers is fiftieth-anniversary edition from Walter Hoving, a former chairman of Tiffany’s of New York.

This is a little book of manners – specifically targeted at teens. Walter Hoving went home and wrote this after having lunch with his grandson (according to the introduction).

You get the step-by-step instructions for everything you may have wondered about. Such as: what is that fork for? Or: what do I do if I drop my utensil on the floor? And a ton more!

All in all this is an illustrated, old-fashioned, fun book of manners. Half of the things talked about in Tiffany’s Table Manners I’ve never even heard of! I felt like I was a first-class passenger on the Titanic while I was reading it.

Jam-packed with interesting factoids and new questions (with the insistence of using your right hand all the time, I have no idea how a left-handed person could ever be polite!), I found Tiffany’s Table Manners to be entertaining, informative, and fascinating.

And, really, …

Dragonswood

Dragonswood is a YA fantasy novel by Janet Lee Carey.

Still reeling over the recent death of their king, Wilde Island’s already paranoid people become even more riled when a cold-hearted, dangerous witch hunter arrives.

Tess, a seventeen-year-old blacksmith’s daughter, is aware of the tensions – especially regarding the uneasy pact between dragons, fairies, and humans. However, she still enters the forbidden Dragonswood – a mysterious, magical sanctuary set apart for the use of dragons and fairies. She’s drawn there, especially after each particularly bad beating from her malicious father, or after yet another death of a newborn sibling.

But someone has spotted her on her excursions to Dragonswood. Now, Tess finds herself in the midst of an accusation that could take her life: witchery.

She manages to escape, with the unanticipated help of a dragon, and flees with her two best friends. If they’re caught, they will die.

Her guilt weighs on her as she sees how she’s ruined her friends’ lives…

Chasing Mona Lisa

Chasing Mona Lisa is a historical fiction novel by Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey.

In August 1944 change is on the brink in Nazi-occupied Paris. Civilians have become liberators, military men have become heroes, and their liberation draws nigh. But the Third Reich is still a strong, determined opponent and they have need of a bargaining chip.

Reichmarschall Hermann Goring, Hitler’s right hand man, has been collecting art – or, rather, stealing art – from those whom they’ve imprisoned, as well as Paris’s own Louvre. But the Parisians have been careful to keep the location of their national treasure the Mona Lisa a closely guarded secret and constantly on the move.

Yet there may be an informant inside the rebellion, and Goring is making it his number one priority to find and leverage the priceless painting.

Swiss OSS agents Gabi Mueller and Eric Hofstadler have been sent to Paris to aid in its liberation – and now they have a new goal: get to the Mona Lisa before Goring. It may very well be …

First Day on Earth

First Day on Earth is a YA contemporary novel by Cecil Castellucci.

Mal is on the outside and doesn’t care much about looking in. School doesn’t matter – why should it? He doesn’t care about grades, about friends, about what people think – about anything. Why should he? After all, he was abducted by aliens’ years ago – and he plans on returning with them the first chance he gets.

Of course, no one else believes him. They tell him that disappearing for three days and having no memory of the time period was just a breakdown, something explainable, something real. But he knows the truth. He has to believe it was more.

Otherwise he might have to stay in this world where his dad left his mom a broken shell, a woman who drinks the days away and is scorned by others. Otherwise he might have to live this life.

He needs to know for sure. He wants proof that he was abducted. He needs that hope.

Then one day at his abductee support group he meets Hopper. Hopper tells him something that might finally …

Reaching Through Time

Reaching Through Time is a YA contemporary fantasy book containing three novellas written by Lurlene McDaniel.

In What’s Happened to Me? we meet Sarah. She wakes up in a gorgeous estate with no memory of who she is, where she came from – nothing. But a young, handsome man named Heath de Charon tends to her every need, attentively taking care of her as he explains he found her, unconscious, on his property. Her attraction to him is strong, but she begins to hear voices – voices urging her to “come back”. In her confusion, Sarah knows one thing: she needs to find out where she belongs.

When the Clock Chimes is the second novella in Reaching Through Time and features Drake, a teen boy who is happy to find a summer job that won’t require he be up and about too much, as showing off his imperfection and hobbling walk is not his favorite thing to do. His wish is granted when he is hired on with a professor needing help cataloging his artifacts – but isn’t as pleased when he realizes he has to …

The Scorpio Races

The Scorpio Races is a YA fantasy novel by Maggie Stiefvater.

Whoa.

What can I say here? I went into The Scorpio Races with little to no knowledge about what it was about, trusting in the author to deliver an excellent story, as she’s done with the Shiver trilogy. Now that I’ve read it, devoured it, and been absolutely dumbfounded by it – well, how can I give a synopsis? If I do, I know that you won’t have the same experience I did – but if I don’t, what if you don’t read it?

Here’s what I’ll do – I will give a slight summary of the basic plot for those of you who want/need it. I’ll make identifying marks “---“ to indicate where the description is. Then, those of you who want to have the no-previous-knowledge experience can just look for the ending “---“ to read some adjectives I would use to explain my flabbergasted response to The Scorpio Races. Sound good? Alright, here goes:

-------

Nineteen-year-old Sean Kendrick has been involved in the Scorpio races since he was very young. In fac…

Ingenue

Ingénue is the second novel in the YA Flappers series by Jillian Larkin.

If you haven’t read Vixen, the first novel in this series, you are looking at some major, inevitable spoilers in this review of Ingénue if you persist in reading it! I strongly recommend that you don’t – enjoy the series in order and go pick up a copy of Vixen!

For those of you who have read Vixen, we’ll begin the synopsis now…

Last we left our main characters we were in 1923 Chicago. Lorraine Dyer had recently exposed the innocent-appearing Clara Knowles as phony with a scandalous past – only to lose her lifelong best friend Gloria Carmody in the process.

Gloria, in the meantime, had begun to live a secret, speakeasy life as a nightclub singer – and fell for the handsome black pianist Jerome Johnson. Her taboo love affair caused ripple effects that sent the two of them running from the ever-present mob.

Then there was Clara Knowles, the revealed former flapper queen, who feared her relationship with the charming, gor…

Flyaway

Flyaway is a YA/middle-grade contemporary novel by Lucy Christopher.

It’s a long held tradition that thirteen-year-old Isla and her dad go out to watch the swans fly in to winter at the lake. But this time, something goes wrong. As they’re running across the fields to get a good view, her dad falls. And when she gets to him, she can tell something is seriously wrong.

Time blurs and distorts as an ambulance is called, and Isla tries her hardest at being strong – not shedding a tear. But at the hospital it all begins to sink in – her dad is not well. And instead of watching the fear and worry reflected in her mother and brother’s faces, Isla wanders in her shock and sees a head of brilliantly red hair.

The hair is on a boy named Harry’s head. He stays in the children’s ward – one of the oldest, at thirteen. Harry, unlike the kids at school, finds the swans just as fascinating as Isla and her dad. It’s comforting and helpful to have someone to look forward to seeing when she goes to the hos…

You Don't Know About Me

You Don’t Know About Me is a YA contemporary reimagining of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Brian Meehl.

Billy Allbright has spent the entire sixteen years of his life on the move with his mother. They’ve never stayed in one place very long as she is constantly either on the run from authorities who aren’t too pleased she’s defaced a store (or replace with another establishment) in the name of removing the Devil or running towards a new destination that she believes needs their services of cleansing.

Having always been home-schooled and involved in this lifestyle, Billy is sheltered and knows very little about the way others live. But when Billy receives a fancy Bible in the mail it contains more than the story of Christ’s resurrection – it also contains knowledge that his mother has been lying about his father, whom he never met, being dead.

Finding out about his mother’s deception throws Billy into a tailspin, and he makes the decision to ditch the Bible camp he’s suppos…

Icefall

Icefall is a YA adventure thriller set in ancient Nordic times by Matthew J. Kirby.

Solveig was no happier than anyone else when her father the king sent her, her brother the crown prince, her beautiful older sister, members of the household staff and an army of soldiers to a concealed fortress tucked between mountains and ice. It’s a cold, lonely, and unpleasantly long winter.

Yet the king set them there for their safety, as a sudden war was upon them. But their safety may or may not be what they’ll find in the fortress. Solveig’s sister has been quiet and guarded since they’d arrived, and when suddenly an act of betrayal leaves them shocked in its wake – the conclusion is that there is a traitor in their midst.

It could be that instead of hiding the royal children from the kingdom’s enemies, they might be tucked in close with them – sitting ducks in an increasingly claustrophobic environment. Suddenly the many ways that they can be killed seem numerous – and there is no escape from the…

Sass and Serendipity

Sass and Serendipity is a YA contemporary retelling of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, by Jennifer Ziegler.

Daphne and Gabby Rivera are sisters but are nothing alike.

Daphne, fifteen, is a romantic soul – she dreams of proms and marriage and love. She’s on the cheerleading squad and tends to be a peppy, cheerful girl without a care in the world. She’s always ready and waiting for that epic love to be right around the corner. And when the new guy, Luke, moves to town she’s sure she’s found the One.

Gabby, seventeen, is a practical soul – she works, studies, and looks at life as it is. She helps pay the bills and if she does any dreaming it’s only about leaving their small town far behind her. Love and romance couldn’t be further from her priorities. In fact, human interaction in general has never been Gabby’s strong suit. The only person she can really put up with is her loyal, longtime best friend Mule – he’s always been there for her and puts up with her perpetual grumpiness like n…

Wonderstuck

Wonderstruck is a new novel by Brian Selznick.

Ben and Rose both feel lost.

Ben, in 1977, has only recently lost his mother. Then when tragedy strikes again in his life, he finds himself yearning to find the father he’s never known – desperately unraveling small clues to try and find him.

Rose, in 1927, spends her time scrapbooking pictures and articles about a beautiful, mysterious actress. She rejects the teacher that arrives at her house to teach her lessons – his lessons are too hard for her to accept. So, when she reads a certain headline in the newspaper she sets out to find a piece of her life she’s missing.

Ben’s story is told all in words, like a traditional novel, whereas Rose’s story is told in pictures only – almost like a silent movie. Both of these children are setting off alone in a world that doesn’t seem to have room to fit them and despite being fifty years apart, their stories mirror and complement each other in striking ways.

Brian Selznick is, of course, the author o…

The Summer I Learned to Fly

The Summer I Learned to Fly is a YA coming-of-age novel by Dana Reinhardt.

Drew is thirteen-years-old in 1986 as this story takes off. We get the sense that an older Drew is telling the story.

She’s a loner and an obedient daughter to her single Mom, working diligently at their cheese shop. Drew carts around her best friend, her rat, everywhere with her in her backpack – against the rules - and has been reading her deceased dad’s Book of Lists without her Mom’s knowledge. She found the Lists by accident, but savors every second of getting to know a father that died before she had any memory of him.

As she spends her days in routine, happy to spend her days with her crush, Nick, who is older and works behind the counter in-between surfing – one night at closing, things change. Drew meets Emmett Crane.

He’s eating the cheese shop’s castoffs because he apparently likes their food, has a cut on his cheek, and is very friendly with Drew’s rat – not to mention oddly knowledgeable about rats i…

iBoy

iBoy is a YA sci-fi novel by Kevin Brooks.

Tom was just a normal, teenage guy walking home from school – thinking about Lucy and how she had asked him to come over to talk about something. He was hoping it’d be about more than helping to straighten out her brother’s recent inclination toward unsavory friends and wondering how early he could come by without seeming too eager.

Then his whole life changed. An iPhone, thrown from a high balcony, collides with his skull at such speed that shattered fragments of it imbed themselves in his brain. Next thing he knows, Tom wakes up in a hospital alive, but different.

Somehow he is now a walking App. As the doctors talk about organs and muscles in the body that ordinarily he would never know a single thing about, his iBrain rattles off dictionary-like explanations. It doesn’t take Tom long to find out that his way of thinking and his way of life may be forever altered.

Before he gets the chance to adjust to his new way of life, though, he finds out…

Ship Breaker

Ship Breaker is an award-winning YA sci-fi/dystopia novel by Paolo Bacigalupi.

Nailer is a teenage boy working as a ship breaker in America’s Gulf Coast region. His small size is prized as he can go into the smaller, tighter areas that others cannot in order to scavenge valuable metals and other materials out of the old, grounded, rusted oil tankers they find.

Making quota is extremely important – because if you’re fired… well, you’re probably not going to last long. The climate and culture leaves very little wiggle room for a non-useful person. So, Nailer does what he needs to do to survive. Only problem? He won’t stay small for much longer. Natural growth will soon leave him without value. Then what will he do?

But then he finds a new, gorgeous clipper ship beached from a recent storm. At first his mind races with trying to figure out how he could possibly claim this wreckage as his (and coming up empty), but then when he and Pima, one of the only fellow crew members he trusts, board i…

Death Sentence

Death Sentence is the third book in Alexander Gordon Smith’s YA horror series Escape from Furnace.

If you haven’t been keeping up with the series, this review will have inevitable spoilers for the first two books - Lockdown and Solitary. You’ve been warned!

Alex has now tried to break out of the terrifying, underground prison Furnace Penitentiary twice. He almost made it this time. Almost.

But he was caught. And now he is being punished.

This punishment is even worse than going in solitary, where he was sure he was losing his mind. This punishment assures him he will lose his mind – literally. He’s being turned into a minion of Furnace, a muscled twin of the other blacksuits.

The shadowy, treacherous warden is determined to have Alex forget himself – but the only way to survive is to try and remember.

This time it’ll be a lot harder to escape… since the prison is his mind.

I have read each of the Escape from Furnace books and have found them to be creatively disturbing, grisly thrillers. D…

Dragon's Keep

Welcome to the first post of 2012! Let us begin another fantastic year of reading here at the Bibliophile Support Group! Without further ado:

Dragon’s Keep
is a YA fantasy novel by Janet Lee Carey.

Rosalind is a beautiful princess, an ancestress of Evaine, of the forgotten Pendragon royal lineage, and the prophesied 21st queen, the one Merlin said would end wars and bring honor back to their banished throne on Wilde Island.

Yet only her mother, the current Queen, knows the truth of her “loveliness”. On her ring finger she has not a finger but a dragon’s talon – ugly and sharp. She wears gloves at all times and not one person outside the queen knows of her disfigurement – of her flaw.

Constant streams of healers are brought to Rosie, but no one cures her ailment – or is even allowed to know of it before they begin trying to heal her. It seems impossible that a six-hundred-year-old prophecy could be about her.

But when a lethal dragon seems to target her directly and takes her to his cave, R…