Thursday, June 30, 2011

Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley

Meet Corrinne. She's living every girl's dream in New York City—shopping sprees at Barneys, open access to the best clubs and parties, and her own horse at the country club. Her perfect life is perfectly on track. At least it was. . . .
When Corrinne's father is laid off, her world suddenly falls apart. Instead of heading to boarding school, she's stripped of her credit cards and shipped off to the boonies of Texas to live with her grandparents. On her own in a big public school and forced to take a job shoveling manure, Corrinne is determined to get back to the life she's supposed to be living. She doesn't care who she stomps on in the process. But when Corrinne makes an unlikely friend and discovers a total hottie at work, she begins to wonder if her life B.R.—before the recession—was as perfect as it seemed.

Poor Corrinne! She was born with her daddy's credit card in her mouth and no limits. She shops and demands the best. She's self-centered, egotistical and full of herself in Manhattan.
Then her daddy gets laid off and Corrinne's life becomes B.R. (before recession) and A.R. (after recession). Her family can't afford the few houses, maids, cooks, clothes, cars and lifestyle they once lived. So Corrinne and her brother are shipped off to grandparents in Texas. No way is Corrinne going to enjoy her time in the Lone Star state. But little by little she is taken in with the friends she makes and their way of living. She's surprised to learn she CAN wear a $24.99 dress and look good in it.
Loved Corrine's vocab and thoughts at the beginning of the book and watching as she changed. She became more aware of others, learned a work ethic and opened her eyes to the love of family.
Book ended too soon or abruptly for me but other than that, it was enjoyable.

Rating:PG 13
V: None
L: None that I can remember
S: Kissing

Want to buy it?

25% test (p. 72):
"...friends. See you after the game."
As, so this is tailgating. The all-American ritual of hanging out in parking lots and eating unidentifiable grilled meats out of pickup trucks. In the city, we would never do this because we use cars to get from place to place, not as party furniture. The whole scene seems rather disgusting, and I hope that it forces me to lose my growing appetite.
I am relieved to see that the young people dress up somewhat for the event. Getting ready, I worried that my outfit--a soft gray linen dress with a pink cardigan--might be too extreme. Because I lack pride or any feelings other than hatred toward Broken Spoke, I had no desire to wear gray. But ultimately I decided there's no use in sticking out more than I already do, so I wore it anyway.
I need to iPhone this tailgate scene to my father in Dubai. Seeing me here might change his attitude. he says football is for meatheads; real gentlemen golf and play polo, games of skill, not brute force. I don't exactly agree, but I am willing to use anything to my advantage. of course, the eight-hour time difference is making it a bit difficult to get ahold of him.
Since Tripp galloped off with his friends, I am left with Grandma, Grandpa, and their group of friends, which appears to includes the entire town.
Grandma pulls me up to a large group of ladies wearing Mockingbird gear."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Books, exactly how they work

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

Lily Sanderson has a secret, and it’s not that she has a huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Unrequited love is hard enough when you’re a normal teenage girl, but when you’re half human, half mermaid like Lily, there’s no such thing as a simple crush.

Lily’s mermaid identity is a secret that can’t get out, since she’s not just any mermaid – she’s a Thalassinian princess. When Lily found out three years ago that her mother was actually a human, she finally realized why she didn’t feel quite at home in Thalassinia, and she’s been living on land and going to Seaview high school ever since, hoping to find where she truly belongs. Sure, land has its problems – like her obnoxious, biker boy neighbor Quince Fletcher – but it has that one major perk – Brody. The problem is, mermaids aren’t really the casual dating type – when they “bond,” it’s for life.

When Lily’s attempt to win Brody’s love leads to a tsunami-sized case of mistaken identity, she is in for a tidal wave of relationship drama, and she finds out, quick as a tailfin flick, that happily-ever-after never sails quite as smoothly as you planned.

Quick, clean, fun read. A mermaid story from the very beginning.
Lily is a mermaid princess whose (dead) mother is human and father is a mer king.
Lily was given the chance to see what living among the "terrapeds"and falls for Brody, who doesn't know she exists except as the swim team manager.
Lily's neighbor, Quince, is a pain in her fins next door neighbor who happens to like Lily. Only Lily can't figure this out through 1/2 the book and the rest of the book is how she doesn't like Quince, she likes Brody.
When Quince kisses Lily, their futures change and Lily has to reveal her biggest secret to him.
I liked the story. I didn't know it was a trilogy until I was into the book. But this is okay to stand alone. No real cliff hanger for the second book. Sounds like the second book will be from the viewpoint of Lily's cousin who despises her.
I wish the author would've fleshed out Brody and Shannen (BFF) a little bit more. Especially when it came to them finding out Lily's secret.
Lily uses tons of sea-inspired vocab and swear words like: "son of a swordfish,""blowfish," and "damselfish" (personal favorite).

Rating PG
V: No
L: No
S: kissing

Want to but it?

25% test (page 73):
Meet me at Seaview Beach Park at three.
I slipped the note under Quince's front door first thing in the morning and then disappeared. A night's lack of sleep hadn't cleared things up for me, and I needed a full day to figure out how to explain...well, him.
As the sun heads west behind me, I sit staring out at the ocean horizon. Still not sure how I'm going to proceed.
How do you tell a guy you're a mermaid? And that's he's turning mer, too? I've spent three years fantasizing about telling Brody, but this is different. Quince is different.
He doesn't say anything when he walks up behind me, but I feel him. In the sand, in the air. Everywhere. For a minute, I let the tension--or maybe it's the bond, I still can't believe I'm bonded to Quince Fletcher--crackle between us. I'd always heard the bond was an addictive high. I never..."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Poke the Box by Seth Godin

We send our kids to school and obsess about their test scores, their behavior and their ability to fit in.
We post a help wanted ad and look for experience, famous colleges and a history of avoiding failure.
We invest in companies based on how they did last quarter, not on what they’re going to do tomorrow.
So why are we surprised when it all falls apart?
Our economy is not static, but we act as if it is. Your position in the world is defined by what you instigate, how you provoke, and what you learn from the events you cause. In a world filled with change, that’s what matters — your ability to create and learn from change.
Poke the Box is a manifesto about producing something that’s scarce, and thus valuable. It demands that you stop waiting for a road map and start drawing one instead. You know how to do this, you’ve done it before, but along the way, someone talked you out of it.
We need your insight and your dreams and your contributions. Hurry.

I was given this book as part of a promotion of The Domino Project.
Good motivational/self-help/quotable book. If you need a kick in the butt, this is a good read for you.
Lots of good examples and quotes.

25% test (p. 21):
"...mediocre as long as the product, the service, or the organization isn't totally broken.

There's never a problem getting a posse together to fix the broken. The upside for you (and the challenge) is to find the energy and the will to challenge the mediocre.
When in doubt...
Look for the fear. That's almost always the source of your doubt.
Where did the curious go?
If you visit Penguin Magic online, you'll see video after video of stunning mind-reading, metal-bending, shoe-tying magic. And in the videos, the magicians are on the street, performing for passersby. A well-done illusion leads to a lot screaming. The audience can't believe it. It's a miracle! Satan! And then, curiosity.

"How did you do that?"
Every once in a while, I'll perform an illusion or some technical shortcut and someone won't ask how. People have been indoctrinated so completely by their jobs that they don't want to know how something works, they're willing to accept that perhaps the law as of nature don't work as they expect, and by the way, can I have the remote?"

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Band of Sisters by Annette Lyon

When the war on terror calls their husbands to duty, five LDS women are left behind to fight battles of their own: Kim, newlywed and pregnant, frightened of what the future might bring. Brenda, struggling to manage three unruly boys and a crippling bout of depression. Jessie, secretly grappling with mixed feelings about her emotionally abusive husband. Marianne, wrestling with a rebellious teenage daughter. And Nora, the seasoned Army wife with perfect hair, an immaculate home—and an ill-tempered mother dying of cancer. Knowing the separation of deployment is extremely difficult, Nora gathers the wives every week to share lunches and burdens. In good company, they worry over safety in the field and stability at home and offer one another counsel and comfort. But as their personal crises build, each woman faces the risks of forming deep bonds of trust. And when tragedy strikes, they must confront the painful realities of war that pull families apart and bring friends together as sisters.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I felt like each women was a dear friend of mine. Reading their struggles and joys connected me to each story and character.
Annette has done an amazing job in writing and drawing me in. Thank you for this glimpse of a life I haven't seen yet. I have more empathy and compassion for this part of our culture we don't think about or know about.
I found myself wiping away tears several times and that is hard to do.

Rating PG
V: None
L: None
S: None

Want to buy it?

25% test (p. 69):
Chapter II: Kim
October 7, 2009, 9:47 PM
The computer chimed, and Kim leaned forward to read Justin's instant message.
Miss u.
She smiled, feeling giddy as if she were flirting with her boyfriend over the Internet. Sometimes that's what it felt like--as if she and Justin were still dating, since they'd been married for such a short time when he left. Sitting in a pair of Justin's old sweats, she set aside her bowl of Kellogg's Frosted Flakes--tonight's dinner--to respond.
Miss u 2.
She pressed ENTER and sat back with her bowl. She scooped a bite as she waited for Justin's next response. He'd said he had about fifteen minutes before needing to report on duty. It was morning for him--well after breakfast--but bedtime for her.
After all the talk about husbands at today's lunch, she missed Justin even more than usual. The apartment felt bigger, emptier. And there was a little worm of guilt in her chest that she still hadn't told him about the baby. The wives all knew now. It was "high time" her husband knew, as her mother would say. At least, she'd say that if she knew.
Legs crossed, Kim bobbed one foot up and down, sending on Pooh Bear slipper bouncing. Justin bought them for her at Disneyland on their honeymoon. He'd almost gone for the 101 Dalmatians ones, but she'd talked him out of it, saying that they were a little too close to something Cruella DeVille would wear."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

We Hear the Dead by Dianne K. Salerni

It started out as a harmless prank. But soon enough, spiritualism was the fastest growing movement of the nineteenth century, and Maggie Fox was trapped in a life of deceit.

Meticulously researched by the author, We Hear the Dead reveals the secret of how the Fox sisters faked their rapping sounds and their motives for inventing the séance and founding spiritualism.

I began the deception when I was too young to know right from wrong. No one suspected us of any trick, because we were such young children. We were led on by my sister purposely and by my mother unintentionally. Only with the passing of time did I come to understand the consequences of my actions. As Doctor wrote to me: "Weary, weary is the life by cold deceit oppressed."

My sister has used the word "deception." I object to her use of that word, for I do not believe that I have ever intentionally deceived anyone. Maggie has a different understanding of all the events that have happened since that night in Hydesville forty years ago. To her the spirits were always a game. For my sister Leah, they were a means to an end. For my mother, a miracle. And for me, they were my life's calling. I have no regrets.

Interesting story! I didn't think I'd heard of the Fox sisters and the start of Spiritualism but the more I read the more I remember hearing/reading about them. I also Googled the sisters and read the exact account as the book, only the book has more embellishment/emotion/story/characters (you catch my drift) etc.
The writing kept me involved in the story as well as the characters. I enjoyed watching Maggie grow up and struggle with her deception. She was easily swayed by those she loved to continue with the 'rappings" of the dead. Until she meets and falls in love with a handsome explorer who wants Maggie to give up everything for him. His family will not accept her and he believes if he can change her, they will. I was bugged that Maggie couldn't see he wanted someone different though he loved her.
Kate is the youngest sister who came to believe she really could speak with the spirits.
Leah was the bossy older sister who used and abused her sisters for money. The only one in the family who truly didn't know it was a sham was the mother. The father moved to the house he was building for his family and we never hear about him again. Sad for the mother! Did she ever miss him?
The story pulled me right in and I enjoyed reading it from the bright, fun beginning to the sad, dark end.

Rating PG
V: Intense mob scenes
L: None
S: None

Want to buy it?

25% test (p. 106):
""The spirits are very wise, of course," murmured Leah, who had turned back to her letter.
"Mrs. Mott went so far as to ask me, I continued, "If I couldn't manage to contact a spirit of some historical fame and acquire testimonial from him regarding women's rights."
Leah's hand faltered and dropped a blob of ink at this news, and she had to reach for a blotter. "What is your point, Margaretta?"she asked in annoyance.
"Do they actually believe, or are they using--"
"They have chosen to publicly state that they believe," Leah said, fixing me with her no-nonsense eye. "That is good enough for me, and it should be good enough for you."
Upon those words I had to be content. Amy Post believed in the spirits, or claimed that she believed, and because I shared most of Mrs. Post's views regarding the abolition of slavery and the rights of women, I was not averse to including support for these progressive issues in our spirits' messages. Part of me wondered whether the feminist portion of Mrs. Post's nature did not admire Leah's gumption at making a living at tricks worthy of Mr. P. T. Barnum himself."

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Overprotected by Jennifer Laurens

Ashlyn: A lonely society princess living in New York City.

Daddy hired you to be my bodyguard.

Colin: Childhood enemy, now her protector.

Daddy thought I’d be safe. He thought I’d never fall in love. He thought he could keep me forever.

Charles: obsessed with keeping her safe, keeping her his, he hires the one person he knows she could never fall in love with: Colin.

Daddy was wrong.

Daddy wants to protect his little girl, little girl (18 years old) wants to grow up. Old bodyguard feel in love with her and was getting too familiar, new bodyguard is respectful and she falls for him.
Ashlyn is whiny and honestly doesn't do anything mature to have her father trust her. Her father is overbearing and overprotective. He really needs to cut the apron strings. Her mother comes on to the new bodyguard.
Predictable plot. A few grammar errors. No character growth.
Quick and clean read.

Rating: PG 13
V: Kidnapping
L: None
S: tension

25% test (p. 61):
"...apartment?" Mother seemed uninterested in meal. He elbows were planted on the table and her eyes were glued to Colin.
I glanced at Daddy, eating in silence , like me. Every now and then his light blue eyes rested on Colin with interest.
"I have a place on Charles Street."
"Have?" Mother's brows arched. "You're keeping your apartment?"
As if he sat on hot colas, Colin shifted.
"A smart move," Daddy piped. "The sign of someone who is prepared."
"Yes, but he's employed here. As long as it doesn't have anything to do with your level of commitment," Mother said.
I rolled my eyes.
"I'm committed, Fiona." Colin reached for his water goblet. He seemed jittery, like he had been earlier in the car. Was he uncomfortable in the spotlight? A grin slipped onto my lips just as Colin's eyes me mine.
My smile vanished, but I held his querying gaze until his attention shifter to his half0eaten meal.
"Are you dating anyone, Colin?" Mother asked.
His fork paused before cutting into the duck flesh.
"Fiona, we don't need to interrogate the boy," Daddy chuckled.
"I'm not interrogating." Mother finally picked up her fork. "Just catching up with an old family friend."
"It's his business, not ours." Daddy's tone sharpened even though he smiled. I knew the silent encoding well: topic over.
"How did it today go?" Daddy waited for Colin's answer. My nerves prickled.
"Everything went well," Colin said without a hitch.
"I expected as much. Ashlyn's an obedient girl. You won't need to report to me unless something comes up." Daddy's firm tone was meant to remind both Mother and Colin of Colin's job--in spite of sharing a meal with us and being an old family friend.
Colin nodded. "Yes, sir."
Rebellion scraped my spine raw. An obedient girl? And why did..."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lost Boy, Lost Girl: Escaping Civil War in Sudan

One of thousands of children who fled strife in southern Sudan, John Bul Dau survived hunger, exhaustion, and violence. His wife, Martha, endured similar hardships. In this memorable book, the two convey the best of African values while relating searing accounts of famine and war. There’s warmth as well, in their humorous tales of adapting to American life. For its importance as a primary source, for its inclusion of the rarely told female perspective of Sudan’s lost children, for its celebration of human resilience, this is the perfect story to inform and inspire young readers.

I had no idea the extint of the war in Sudan. I remember hearing about the wars while I was in high school. The book is told from the viewpoint of John and Martha, who ended up in America where they married. Told in their words, John and Martha weave a tale of human resilience.
Thousands of children were orphaned during the war. My heart broke for all the hunger and pain and sorrow they went through. And the adults who tried to help them.
John and Martha have a happy ending, which is nice!

Rating: PG (for war theme, death and hardship)
V: yes but not in detail
L: None
S: None

25% test (p. 39):
"...would last for years. It was probably good that I didn't know what lay ahead for Tabitha and me.
As soon as dawn lightened the sky, we moved on. The adults were afraid the government-backed militia that had attacked us could still be nearby, and they wanted to keep us moving as fast as we could away from our village. Nyanriak had her own five kids to take car of, but she knew that Tabitha was too little to keep up with the rest of the group. She asked a man named Deng to take care of Tabitha. He often carried her on his shoulders. I followed close behind, watching Tabitha's feet dangling above my head as Deng marched along. I was always looking up to make sure that my little sister was safe.
The next day we came to a village, and the people there ave out group a gourd for water, dried kernels of corn to boil for food, and a pot to cook in. Such simple things, the gourd and the pot, but without them it was hard to eat or drink. We were thankful to the villagers and warned them that the militia was moving through the area, leaving death and destruction in their wake. I the weeks ahead, as we moved from village to village, we sounded the alarm, spreading warnings as we went.
As the fighting in the south grew worse and more villages were attacked, more and more people joined us, including elders who tried to keep everybody in line. For us Dinka, elders are the respected adults who guide us and care for us. When elders in our group saw a small child too tired to walk, they would carry the child. I wasn't carried very often, and I didn't want to be because I needed to follow whoever was..."

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams

In one moment it is over. In one moment it is gone. The morning grows thin, grey and our lives- how they were- have vanished. Our lives have changed when I walk in on Lizzie my sister holding a shotgun. Twelve year old girl Hope's life is turned upside down when her older sister Lizzie becomes an elective mute and is institutionalized after trying to kill herself. Ever since their dad died Hope and Lizzie have relied on each other from a young age. Their mother is a reluctant and unreliable parent at best, who turns tricks to support the family. Throughout the course of this lyrical and heartbreaking narrative readers and Hope discover that the mother is prostituting Lizzie and it’s up to Hope to bring the truth to light to save her sister. With raw and haunting writing reminiscent of Ellen Hopkins and Elizabeth Scott, Carol Lynch Williams is a promising new YA voice.

This story was intriguing and devastating. I wanted to choke the mother, be friends with the girls and build them up, thank the kind neighbor and go to the police.
Written a lyrical narrative, the story is from Hope's point of view. Hope and Lizzie are not only sisters, they are best friends, taking care of each other since they were six and seven. Their daddy was killed in a motorcycle accident and their mom can't hold a job so she turns tricks to support her family.
It's hard to put the book down even when the story hurt my heart.

Rating: Adult
L: swearing sprinkled throughout
V: mean and absentee parent
S: prostitution

25% test (p. 121):

"We move to the side of the road,
the whole world gray
like Florida becomes
in a good rain.

Mari pulls out a
sanitary napkin.

Put that away,
I say, looking
toward the road
Somebody might see it.

You want me to go deaf?
she says.

She plucks the filling from a
couple of pads
and puts a wad in each ear.

I'm ready now, let's go.
Mari motions with her chin
and I can just see
cotton coming from her head
like her stuffing has come loose."