Monday, July 23, 2012

The Survival Kit

This is one of those books that centers around the death of a family member. Okay, let me just say that I don't usually tend to go for this type of book. It's not that I'm insensitive or anything, it's just that I don't particularly enjoy the slow plot and heavy mood. This one, despite being that topic, was so much better than I expected. I really liked it. So, give it a try: The Survival Kit by Donna Freitas. 
To an outsider, Rose Madison has it all: she's a beautiful cheerleader, dating the quarterback of the football team. Recently, though, her mother has died of cancer and those other things ceased to be important. Her only lifeline to cling to is the survival kit from her mother that she found after the funeral. Inside is:
-an iPod
-a picture of peonies
-a crystal heart
-a silver construction paper star
-a box of crayons
-a tiny handmade kite
The kit goes unopened for the first few months; the memories are too painful and Rose can't think about anything except keeping her grieving family together. Eventually, though, the kit gets opened and she starts to puzzle the meaning and purpose behind each object. An unexpected source of comfort and help is Will Doniger: star player on the hockey team, the family's landscaper, and surprisingly the only one who can understand what she's going through. Can loss lead to love?
Okay, I may have stolen that last line from the book jacket. It's cheesy, I know, but accurate. Anyway, I liked The Survival Kit because it was sad but not stiflingly so, and didn't spend the whole book in a state of depression. It brought in light here and there, and occasional humor. The characters are really well fleshed out and the plotline is interesting and new. Like I said: I enjoyed it even though I don't usually like these types of books, so you should give it a try too. It might just surprise you. Go get it at Kettleson.
One last thing. Have you prepared for the zombie apocalypse? Well, this is right up your alley. There's going to be a zombie-apocalypse-themed event at the library this Friday. Check out the sidebar for more details. You should come, it'll be cool!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dreams of Significant Girls

Wow. This was a really cool book. It's kind of like the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series--with three people--except a little more mature and condensed into one book. It got a little slow in the middle, but really picked up at the end. Anyway, I'll let you judge it for yourself; here's Dreams of Significant Girls by Cristina García. Ta-daa!
In the summer of 1971, three very different girls are sent to a high-class Swiss boarding school (a summer camp for the rich--French classes, horse riding, cooking classes, etc.) for the summer months. Vivien's the daughter of a persecuted Cuban dignitary, escaping a summer of family troubles and estrangement. What she can't leave behind are her worries about her expanding waistline and self-consciousness. Shirin is an Iranian princess--and acts like it. Resenting being sent to the school by her parents to "socialize," she doesn't believe any of the girls will hold her interest. Ingrid has never been a rule-follower, relying on herself only and growing up way too fast. Sent as a last resort by her parents, she doesn't intend to make it a tame trip. 
When the three meet, they inexplicably take to one another. Through three summers and an odyssey of hi-jinks, failures, crushes, triumphs, tragedies, and revelations, they manage to change each other's lives. And find themselves in the process.
This book is awesome because it touches on such a big range of cultures and issues and experiences. I'm not going to say it was better than the Sisterhood series, but it was as good in a different way. It was almost rougher somehow, more intense and very moving. Highly recommended. (Noted: high school maturity level). It resides at Kettleson. Seriously, try it out.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Book of a Thousand Days

Okay, this is a book that works for practically any age. I could see younger kids liking it, and even as a high schooler I really enjoyed the book. Shannon Hale never disappoints. It's kind of like a twist on a fairytale, but takes it so much farther than that. A good book for a rainy day. Mkay, this is Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale.
Dashti is a maid to Lady Saren, a part of the royal family of a realm named Titor's Garden. When Lady Saren learns that she's being forced to marry a man she fears, she flatly refuses. In retaliation, her father locks her and Dashti in a tower to "teach her obedience." The tower is guarded by soldiers, and there is only a tiny flap open to the outside. As time passes, the food starts to run low and Saren withdraws into herself. They are visited often by suitors--one welcome, the other decidedly not. Saren orders Dashti to speak to them, even though it's a crime worthy of death to impersonate royalty. Dashti must play the role again and again in order to save them from both the tower and the dangers outside. She starts to learn how to take control of the situation in order to help her Lady and herself, and surprises herself with her talents. She begins to believe that even a lowly maid, can get a happy ending.

So yeah--it's kind of a fairytale but with a new perspective. I really liked the mentality of Dashti, who's one of those unlikely heroines you can't help but love. It's not one of those cotton-candy-and-twittering-birds type stories, which I like; too much happy just gets boring, y'know? The characters are very structured and unique, and most are instantly likable. I would recommend this to anyone.  Go give it a try at Kettleson, Blatchley, or Mt. Edgecumbe.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Shadowing: Hunted

Got a spooky story for you guys! Well, more of a supernatural story, but it's definitely suspenseful. It's kinda like a prequel. Ish. It sets up for the main event, which will probably come in a later book. Still, it was a fairly good read all by itself--very short, but good. And now: The Shadowing: Hunted by Adam Slater.
Ever since he was a child, Callum Scott knew he was different. He saw ghosts, though they never seemed to see him. They just went about their business, indiscernible from the living save for their translucence and style of dress. He learned to keep quiet about the whole thing, even to his mother who brought him up after his father left when he was small. When his mother died while Callum was still young, he searched in vain for her ghost. Somehow, though, the only ghosts he ever saw were strangers.
Now in eighth grade, Callum is living with his brusque grandmother in a small town. Things are starting to change, though. He's started to have visions of children being killed by a brutal and terrifying creature--and these visions are coming true. Determined to find out what the creature is, he warily enlists the help of others who know about the supernatural world. Together, they learn that the once-a-century occurrence--the Shadowing--is about to start, weakening the divide between the world of the living and the demon realm. The lone creature will be the least of their problems; demons are gathering anxiously at the barrier waiting to break through. Callum must figure out how he can use his power to stand against the demons--while trying to survive being hunted by the mysterious creature.
Okay, like I said, it's short but pretty intense. I easily read it in a sitting, unable to put it down. I'll be interested to read the next book in the series. I liked the book because, although it traveled a somewhat familiar path in plot, the imagery was very well done and the characters were unique and likable. Give it a try,  especially if you like supernatural books. It's at Kettleson.