Flashback December 2011

A flashback to what I reviewed in December 2011!

In the Woods by Tana French. From my review: “A deliciously good, ice-chilling mystery. This is Rob’s story, and he is a storyteller, knowing just what to tell us and when. “What I warn you to remember is that I am a detective. Our relationship with truth is fundamental but cracked, refracting confusingly like fragmented glass. It is the core of our careers, the endgame of every move we make, and we pursue it with strategies painstakingly constructed of lies and concealment and every variation on deception.” The reader is warned, but there are surprises to be had.”

Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard. From my review: “Secrets, lies, half truths, manipulations: that is the story behind Paper Covers Rock, the story leading up to the death of Thomas and what happens after. What type of story that is depends on whether or not you believe Alex. Whatever you believe about him,  there is also much about sex and power; while Miss Dovecott is a teacher, a person to be respected, she is female and young and pretty and the students find ways to make her uncomfortable. As for each other, “there was no worse label at an all-boys school than “gay.” What would someone do to avoid that?

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley. From my review: “Some things don’t come back; like Cullen’s cousin Oslo, dead from an overdose. Some things may come back, like the woodpecker that people believed was extinct until one self-important and pr-savvy professor came to town. In the town of Lily, Arkansas, eager, dream filled teens leave town, sure of bigger and better things that await them, and return because of heart break or sick parents or accidents. Lily, where things come back . . . . sometimes. Will Cullen’s missing younger brother be one of those things that come back?

Supernatural: Bobby Singer’s Guide to Hunting by David Reed. From my review: “Bobby Singer’s brain is leaking memories. He has some blanks in his memory, and he doesn’t think it’s alcohol related. Things aren’t were they are usually kept, like the grenade launcher. And he just cannot remember how he got home from Ashland. Where are the car keys? Where is the car? If Bobby was anyone else, well, there would be a medical explanation. Bobby is a hunter, hunting all those things that go bump in the night that are real: vampires, demons, werewolves, ghosts, well, you get the picture. Before Bobby loses all his memories, he wants to pass down some of his knowledge to Sam and Dean Winchester. Welcome to Bobby Singer’s Guide to Hunting.”

A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young. From my review: “Charlotte has a problem. Harlin thinks she has asthma, because she has attacks and carriers an inhaler. It’s not asthma; the inhaler is a prop. Sarah believes Charlotte is psychic, because she’s observed Charlotte’s odd actions and interactions with others. Charlotte isn’t psychic. It’s not asthma; it’s not psychic power. It’s the Need. A physical need, an ache, that drives Charlotte to go into buildings, across town, walk up to strangers, and in that moment, and not until that moment, to know, suddenly, everything about that person: past and present, to look into their soul, to see their future, to tell them what they need to do to help themselves. Find a lost child. Go to the doctor. Always, the people she touches believe her and do what she says. They may be dazed, or confused, but the Need is quieted — until next time.”

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. From my review: “Lina is plunged into a strange new world, and while the reader can anticipate, a little, just how bad it will get, Lina is teenager in 1941. She doesn’t know; she is protected by her age, protected by her parents, and protected by living in 1941 and not knowing, as the reader may, that Stalin’s occupation of the Baltic states (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia) will result in massive deportations. She does not know that they will be sent to Siberia, to the Gulag; that Stalin will be responsible for the deaths of twenty million people. So, if at times Lina takes risks or is thoughtless in what she says — she doesn’t know. As for how much the reader knows? I had a vague, general idea. After all, I’m a child of the time when the USSR still existed. I knew, vaguely, generally. I did not know the details; like, for instance, that people like Lina and her family would be sentenced for twenty-five years. That when the prisoners are dumped in Trofimovsk, the North Pole, after 440 days of travel and forced labor, that they would have to make their own shelters with scavenged materials, while the Soviet military live in buildings and eat food sent by the Americans.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, illustrated by Maira Kalman. From my review: “Min Green and Ed Slaterton have broken up. She gives him a box: a box, full of objects from the time they dated, from October 5 to November 12. The arty girl (no, don’t call her that) and the jock. Along with the box is a letter, Min’s letter to Ed, explaining — why we broke up. Explaining to Ed, explaining to herself, why they got together and why they broke up. This is Min’s story, her long, glorious, honest letter to Ed about how and why they got together, and fell in love, despite — or maybe because of — being so different.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. From my review: “One night, a monster visits thirteen year old Conor O’Malley. He will make three more visits to Conor, then demand something in return. The next morning, Conor is not sure whether the visit of the monster yew tree was real or a dream. Real life is nightmare enough. His mother is ill. His father is in America with his new family and rarely visits. His grandmother is formal and distant. At school, he’s the boy whose mother is ill. At best, he’s whispered about. At worst, he’s the target of bullies. And now the monster visits nightly at 12:07. Demanding what Conor cannot give.

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel. From my review: “Victor Frankenstein, the teenage years. What made the boy into a man who was driven to create the monster?

Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker. From my review:Small Town Sinners treats the subject matter with respect. Lacey and her friends are all good kids; Lacey’s family is loving and warm. She’s asking these questions because the two dimensional portrayals of Hell House have become real and the and the old answers don’t hold up. This is a good girl’s rebellion; no sex, no drugs. Rather, the heart of the rebellion is should Lacey continue to believe just because she’s been raised to believe? Is “I was raised this way” a legitimate way to lead the rest of one’s life? There’s a lot of adults who never ask themselves this question, including Lacey’s parents.

Tell Me A Secret by Holly Cupala. From my review: “Miranda — Rand — is the good daughter. Xanda — dead Xanda, whose name isn’t spoken aloud by her family — was the bad daughter, the daughter of late nights and fast boys and cars, until the accident that took her life five years ago. Xanda had secrets that Rand could only wonder at; Xanda had a life that seemed exotic and wonderful. Who Xanda was, and her death, has shaped Rand and fractured her family. Rand was twelve then; she is now the age Xanda was. Five years later, Rand has a secret of her own. She’s pregnant. This secret will force Rand and her family to finally look at the truth about themselves, about Xanda, and about her death.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. From my review: “Killer horses. There are some reader who just need to know “killer horses.” I am not one of those people. Sorry, but I was never one of those girls who went through a horse phase. So, in other words, for me, Stiefvater had to work for it to make me fall for The Scorpio Races, and fall I did. What made me fall: the setting of Thisby. A small, isolated island except for the tourists who come for the Scorpio races and come to buy horses. The world where capaill uisce are real, and iron and bells and salt and circles can help tame them. A world where water horses kill and people view it as tragic and sad, but not unexpected. Thisby and the capaill uisce are from Stiefvater’s imagination (though based on the myths and stories of man-eating water horses), and so, too, is the time. It’s a world of cars but no Internet. It’s familiar, but slanted. Thisby is so real that midway through I began to wonder, half seriously, if I could visit.

White Crow by Marcus Sedgwick. From my review: “Rebecca, 16, is spending six weeks of summer vacation with her father at the seaside town of Winterfold. It’s not a relaxing vacation: she and her father are barely speaking. Her boyfriend doesn’t call. She is alone and lonely when she meets up with Ferelith. Strange, brilliant, uncommon Ferelith. A friendship grows between the two teenage girls, a friendship born of loneliness and something more. Ferelith has been waiting, waiting for something. Or someone. And now Rebecca is here, lovely Rebecca, who doesn’t know or understand who Ferelith is. Ferelith wants to explore Winterfold’s dark past, and she wants company, whether or not Rebecca is willing.”

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