Flashback January 2010

A flashback to what I was reading in January 2010:

All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon and Marlee Frazee. From my review: “The poem itself is deceptively simple; describing a day in the children’s lives, but also describing all of us. It shows what we share and have in common. The illustrations (pencil and watercolor) reflect the text and deepen it. They are full of details; each time you read the book, you see something new, a new connection. When does part of one scene appear in another? What people appear and reappear in the illustrations? It’s more than a guessing game, a searching game. It underscores how we are all connected. The family and people in the book reflect our world: different colors, different shades, different ages. It’s not a big deal, in that it’s not part of the text or done with a “look! look! look!” feel; it is a big deal because we need to have and see multicultural families in books, and yay, here is a beautifully illustrated one with two children of color on the cover.”

Soul Enchilada by David Macinnis Gill. From  my review: “Bug is fierce and independent, has a mouth on her, isn’t afraid to stand up for herself. “Diplomatic” is not in her vocabulary. During high school, her aggression and drive found a use on the basketball court; now, she drives fast delivering pizzas. What is great about Bug’s whole in-your-face persona? She’s going to need it to take on the demon Mr. Beals. Playing nice, being quiet, being soft isn’t going to save your soul. Literally. Soul Enchilada is a perfect mix of humor and supernatural. The chapter headings are fun, and the supernatural world Gill has built manages to both scare you and make you laugh out loud. The threat from Mr. Beals and Scratch (the Devil) is very, very real. But you also have djinn hunters who track djinn and their visas (that is the ISIS, International Supernatural Immigration Service) and quick jokes such Judge Hathorne, whose “family has a long history of presiding fairly and objectively” over contests between the Devil and humans.”

A Taste for Red by Lewis Harris. From my review: “Svetlana used to be Stephanie, until it dawned on her that she is really a vampire and demanded her parents start calling her Svetlana. What vampire is named Stephanie, anyway? The clues to Svetlana being a vampire: only eating red food. Sleeping under her bed. Heightened senses. Reading another’s thoughts and sometimes even controlling them. At first, when I began this book, I thought that Svetlana came from a vampire family. When I realized she did not, and that her parents were unaware she was a vampire, I thought this would be about a lonely formerly homeschooled girl who believes herself to be a vampire. Within a few pages I discovered that wasn’t true, either. Svetlana does have supernatural powers. Vampires do exist. It turns out that Svetlana has simply misidentified what she is; a hunter of vampires rather than a vampire.”

Ice by Sarah Beth Durst. From my review: “Cassie is an interesting main character. She’s stubborn and driven; close to the father that raised her; and so content with life at the research station that she doesn’t even want to go to college. Rather, she wants to complete a remote degree so she never has to leave the only life she’s ever known. Her mother’s fairy tale past and bargains change everything Cassie thought she knew. Her mother didn’t die in a blizzard; rather, Gail truly was the adopted daughter of the North Wind who bargained away her unborn child to the Polar Bear King in order to escape the North Wind and live with Cassie’s father. The North Wind found the family and angrily attacked the family, blowing Gail to the country of trolls where she has been captive ever since. So in other words, Cassie’s only parent has lied to her. So in other words, Cassie’s only parent has lied to her. Not only that, but Cassie’s relationship with her father is closer than many teens because it’s not just been the two of them; it’s been the two of them in a research station that rarely houses more than a half dozen people. Cassie has modeled her future on continuing in her father’s footsteps. All that is shattered, not only because the Polar Bear King has claimed her for a bride, but also because her father lied.”

The Museum of Mary Child by Cassandra Golds. From my review: “Once upon a time. There was a girl. There was a doll. There was a city. There was a prisoner. There was a museum. There was a madhouse. And there were birds. Heloise is raised by her godmother and a housekeeper. Her memories of how she arrived at the Cottage are sketchy. The rules of her godmother are odd. Both love and imagination are forbidden. All Heloise wants is what she cannot have — a doll. When she finds one hidden in the floorboards of her room, the doll whispers “you may call me Maria.” The dark secrets that haunt and govern the lives of Heloise and her godmother are about to be revealed.Bold This was one crazy book; both terrifying and reassuring, full of hate and love and the impossible.”

Fallen by Lauren Kate. From my review: “Fallen is a book full of secrets and puzzles waiting to be discovered by Luce and the reader. The Sword & Cross is an unusual reform school, and I turned the pages trying to figure out what exactly was going on with the school, its staff, and its students. This is the first of a series, and because only a fraction of my questions were answered, I look forward to the next book in the series. Trailers and the book website let the reader (or at least the reader who has read about this book online!) in on one of the big secrets: angels, fallen angels specifically, are involved. The book jacket itself doesn’t give this away. Since you’re reading this online, I’ll assume the fallen angel bit isn’t a terrible spoiler because, well, as I said, just check out the official website. But even with that knowledge (somehow, a fallen angel is involved…) it’s still fun and suspenseful trying to guess who is and isn’t an angel, and who is and isn’t a good guy, and what that even means, and why are they all at this weird school, anyway?”

Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman. From my review: “Charles Darwin had faith in science; his wife, Emma Wedgwood, had faith in religion. Despite having opposite beliefs on the role of God in science as well as life after death, the two married and had a long, happy marriage of mutual support and love. How?

Hold Still by Nina LaCour. From my review: “Some books you rush through, wanting to know what happens next. Some you savor the writing, so take your time. And others, like Hold Still, you pick up, read a few chapters, then stop, do something else, anything else, because it is almost unbearable. Ingrid is dead; the book starts with Caitlin finding out about it. “I watch drops of water fall from the ends of my hair. They streak down my towel, puddle on the sofa cushions. My heart pounds so hard I can feel it in my ears.” Ingrid and Caitlin were best friends; the type of best friends who only needed each other’s friendship during their freshman and sophomore years. Now Ingrid is gone, and Caitlin wonders how, why, could she have said something about Ingrid cutting herself? She also knows that Ingrid had been clinically depressed, and on some medication or other since she was nine. The opportunity to get inside Ingrid’s head and perhaps answer the question “why” comes when Caitlin finds Ingrid’s last journal.”

Heist Society by Ally Carter. From my review: “Katarina Bishop, 15, ran away to boarding school with the hopes of leaving her family and her past life behind her. Alas, just when she thinks she is out, they pull her back in. The family business? Stealing. Long and short cons, pick a pocket or two. A powerful criminal believes that Kat’s father, Bobby Bishop, stole his art collection. The only way to save her father? Find the real thief and steal back the collection. Kat is rusty from being out of the game; and it’s more than a one person job. She’s going to need all the help she can get to pull off this heist. What is good? Every. single. page. Likable characters that you want to spend time with, plenty of humor, great action, a wee bit of art history, a variety of exciting locations, strong female characters, and cute guys. What more does a reader want? You know the crew from Ocean’s Eleven? Now imagine that they had kids who are now teenagers; teens raised in the world of cons and stealing. That is Kat’s world; the one she tried to leave, because, you know — stealing. Kat gets dragged back to save her father (when this movie is made, and I cannot believe it’s not optioned yet, George Clooney has got to play Bobby Bishop).”

Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone. From my review: “This is a nonfiction book with an opinion, and not just an opinion that is being voiced. It’s an opinion that wants to be persuasive. It’s not so much about the women who underwent the testing; it’s more about prejudice and institutional sexism. The intended reader of this book was born after both Ride and Collins went into space. To an adult (and particularly an adult whose school photo books had “what I want to be when I grow up” with “boy jobs” such as “astronaut” and “girl jobs” such as “teacher” or “mother”), that sexism is so understood and expected that every now and then I thought, “c’mon, how can you not know that?” I had to remind myself that today’s teens don’t know what it is to be told no, they can’t do something based on sex; or to have the rules be made in such a way as to exclude them from participation.

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