Flashback June 2011

And now, a look at what I was reading in June 2011:

The Lucky Kind by Alyssa B. Sheinmel: “Nick’s life [has been] charmed — lucky, even. He has a wonderful family (put Rob and Nina down in the “pretty great parents in a YA book” category), he lives in a nice apartment in Manhattan (average by Manhattan standards, not richy rich), he has a great best friend, Stevie, and a girl, Eden Reiss, who he’s been crushing on for years. Seriously, any reader would want to have Nick’s life. The phone call from Sam Roth shatters all that — but only in Nick’s head, because it shatters how Nick sees his life and those around him. Sam and his existence represent numerous betrayals and secrets: that his father had another child. That his father gave that child up for adoption. That his father put his name on a registry indicating he would want contact with that child, should the child wish. That his father and mother both knew all this, and never told Nick.”

Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper: “Writing the plot part of Fallen Grace was challenging, because it sounded so doom and gloom! Poverty and orphans and a stillborn child. Stolen shoes and stolen identities. But it’s NOT doom and gloom! It’s the opposite of doom and gloom! The bond between Grace and Lily is loving and kind. No matter what happens to them, no matter what possessions they pawn or lose, no matter the trials and tribulations that are heaped upon them, their bond remains strong. Each roadblock is one that Grace matter-of-factly confronts. Abused in the workhouse? Leave, find a place to live, find a way to make money. No money for rent? Figure out what can be pawned. Feeling down? Use bits of scrap newspapers as inspiration to weave stories to entertain your sister. Grace does not deny how dire their situation gets, but she has determination and drive.  Grace also has standards; she’d rather deal with the daily uncertainty of the Seven Dials than the guaranteed food and shelter of the training center, because the training center came with a man who felt he was entitled to the young girls.”

Tighter by Adele Griffin: “Jamie, seventeen, is spending her summer as an au pair at ritzy Little Bly, Rhode Island, taking care of eleven year old Isa McRae while Isa’s dad works in Hong Kong. The only other person in the large beachfront estate is the housekeeper, Connie, a disapproving local woman. It turns out, there are things Jamie wasn’t told about Isa and the McRaes. There’s an older brother, Milo, fourteen, who turns up unexpectedly, spoiled and handsome. Then there’s Jessie, last year’s au pair, a free spirited girl who Isa adored. Jessie, who along with her boyfriend, Peter, died in a plane crash the year before. Even creepier, it turns out that Jamie looks like Jessie. Jamie is seeing the ghosts of the two lovers, and is somehow drawn into the echoes of the drama, heartache, and betrayals of the year before. But is she really seeing Jessie and Peter? Or is something else going on?”

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman: “Eon is a twelve year old boy. He has been training intensively for years to get the opportunity, along with a handful of other boys, to be selected by a magical dragon, thus becoming a Dragoneye. Sword work is difficult, because of an accident years ago that left Eon lame. Eon is gifted with magical gifts, able to see energy and dragons. He and the master who discovered him as a slave on a salt farm believe that these gifts will be enough to have the Rat Dragon choose Eon. Eon has a secret. Eon is actually Eona, a sixteen year old girl. Eon’s world is one with strict laws and beliefs about class and gender. A female Dragoneye? Ridiculous! Discovery means death. How far will Eon’s charade go? And who else will be swept into the intrigue?

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray: “A plane full of teen beauty queens crashes on a remote tropical island. No, really. What I’m fast appreciating about Libba Bray is that she’s always doing something different as an author; but, each time, it’s awesome. It’s like she’s the Meryl Streep of authors. Without the accents. Wait, Gemma Doyle was British so I guess maybe that counts? Anyway, so far Bray has given us a historical fiction lush with fantasy; a road trip that explores life, death, and spirituality; and now a satire about commercialism, beauty, and modern priorities and pirates. What’s next, westerns? (Actually, I know the answer is the Roaring Twenties. But still.) Here’s the short pitch: America’s Next Top Models plus Lost multiplied by Arrested Development.

Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon: “Ai Ling is seventeen. At the first betrothal arranged by her loving parents, not only is she rejected by the bridegroom and his mother (Ai Ling is too tall; her father left the Emperor’s court in disgrace years before), she discovers something disturbing about herself. Ai Ling can hear other people’s thoughts. When Ai Ling’s father leaves on a short trip to the Palace, he gives her a jade necklace. Weeks pass, then months, and her father does not return. Ai Ling and her mother do not hear from him. Money grows tight; a neighbor appears, insisting that Ai Ling’s father owes him money and that Ai Ling must marry him to excuse the debt. Ai Ling had earlier heard the disturbing thoughts of this man and suspects the debt is fake. Ai Ling decides that she has only one option: leave to find her father. Without telling her mother, she heads off and discovers more about herself, and her world, than she ever dreamed possible.”

Attack of the Vampire Weenies and Other Warped and Creepy Tales by David Lubar: “These are true short stories. Sometimes, you just want a quick scare or quick laugh. Short short stories like this are also perfect for readalouds during class or camp visits. Lubar rarely gives any ages for the main characters in these stories, which makes it easier for any reader to relate to this collection without it being either too young or too old. There is also a lot of karma — bad things happen, yes, but they tend to happen to kids who are being mean or self centered or cruel. Let’s put it this way: deciding to torment your sister by inviting real vampires to her fake “vampire weenie friends” party (complete with snarky comments about sparkle) will not end well. Sneaking out of the house? Will not end well. Tormenting a locked up vampire? Will not end well. Taking someone else’s ear buds? Will not …. well, you get the picture.”

Huntress by Malinda Lo: “The sun and the seasons have disappeared. The Fairy Queen summons the human king to visit him. The King, suspicious in part because many believe fairies to be a myth, sends his son Con instead. Taisin, a talented student from the Academy of Sages is chosen to go along, as is her fellow student, the less magically talented Kaede. Only three guards will accompany them as they travel north. With each mile they travel, the devastating impact of food shortages is seen. It also becomes clear that something is happening to the boundary between the lands of fairy and human. Odd creatures are reported. The small party is attacked, both physically and mentally. Will they even be able to get to the lands of the Fairy Queen? And what waits them there?






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