Review: 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

Cover of 172 Hours on the Moon

172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad. Little, Brown & Company. 4/17/2012

It’s been decades since anyone set foot on the moon. Now three ordinary teenagers, the winners of NASA’s unprecedented, worldwide lottery, are about to become the first young people in space—and change their lives forever.

Mia, from Norway, hopes this will be her punk band’s ticket to fame and fortune.

Midori believes it’s her way out of her restrained life in Japan.

Antoine, from France, just wants to get as far away from his ex-girlfriend as possible.

It’s the opportunity of a lifetime, but little do the teenagers know that something sinister is waiting for them on the desolate surface of the moon. And in the black vacuum of space… no one is coming to save them. *

Back in February, I blogged about receiving a big batch of ARCs in the mail from whatchYAreading? and promised to review each ARC as I read it (as close to the publication date as possible). Earlier this month, on April 17, 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad was published in the United States.

PLOT

What a spine-chilling read! If you don’t remember, I wanted to read this novel because I thought sending 3 teenagers to the moon in an attempt to jump start the NASA space program was easily the worst idea in the history or future of ideas. As it happens, according to Harstad, sending teenagers to the moon is the worst idea of all ideas ever. While I did expect this novel to be creepy — hello, check out the glossy eye & reflected moonscape on the cover! — I did not at all expect this to go from just plain creepy to completely chilling. I’m so incredibly happy it did. Everything that can go terribly wrong in this book does so, and there is absolutely no coming back.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot for fear of spoiling something, but let me leave you this small suggestion: read Harstad’s novel during the day time in bright sunlight. The sun will become your best friend during this read, and the moon . . . well, I was scared of the moon for a week.

The NARRATORS

This novel is told from the 3rd person perspective, and while each chapter is told from a limited, singular point of view, the point of view does change between chapters. The majority of the story-telling is done by the three teenagers — Mia, Midori, and Antoine — but at times other astronauts pitch in for a unique perspective on the events unraveling. This narrative quilt lends depth & intricacy to the story, while at times also jarring the reader out of a particular narrative style or focus. This was actually very well-done, and I rather enjoyed the narrative styles of each character.

Mia wanted to go to the moon to bring some fame to her band — this cover summary is actually a little misleading, and I think Mia in the novel is much more interesting than this snippet might have you believe. She is definitely fame-centric, but she’s also bitter and spunky and determined. The story around how Mia gets to the moon & then how Mia handles the moon is a very engaging one in its entirety, though she did get on my nerves some at the beginning.

Midori wants to escape her restrictive Japanese lifestyle — this is spot-on for what Midori’s doing on the moon. In Japan, she was a Harajuku girl and she really believes she’s instantaneously more grown up the second she wins a spot to the moon in the lottery. She’s got a spark of modern feminism & a dash of pride about her culture — Midori brings into play a feminist independence, but when she desires comfort, she shares a Japanese folk tale with Mia & Antoine. The folk tale, as it happens, might be the most disturbing part of this entire novel.

Antoine wants to get very, very far away from his ex-girlfriend — which is probably a good thing because he starts the book off stalking her and it’s totally creepy. Antoine is a quiet, kind of watch-what’s-happening person, and while in the beginning that’s channeled to some mild-stalking-creepiness, it’s channeled to a more observant, self-sacrificial goodness once the first disaster strikes on the moon. Antoine’s storyline is sweet, subtle, and subdued, which gives it extra creepy points as the plot unravels.

My FINAL THOUGHTS

I can’t quite decide if I missed some things while reading or if there are gaps in the story line. The end felt a little rushed to me, but I expect this is because it was 2 am and I couldn’t stop reading because I was so disturbed by what was happening & just needed to reach the end. There are bits & pieces of romance throughout, and they are both expected and not overbearing. The familial ties & dramas between the three teenagers and their respective family units might be my favorite on-Earth bit of development. I plan to reread 172 Hours at a slower pace (and in the sun!), but that might be a while yet because this book really did freak me out. And I loved that, but I don’t need to revisit the moon anytime soon.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

* Summary from barnesandnoble.com

What does that rating mean?

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Review: Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams

Waiting cover image

Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams. Paula Wiseman Books. 5/1/2012

Growing up, London and Zach were as close as could be. And then Zach dies, and the family is gutted. London’s father is distant. Her mother won’t speak. The days are filled with what-ifs and whispers: Was it London’s fault?

Alone and adrift, London finds herself torn between her brother’s best friend and the handsome new boy in town as she struggles to find herself—and ultimately redemption—in this authentic and affecting novel from award-winning novelist Carol Lynch Williams. * 

Back in February, I blogged about receiving a big batch of ARCs in the mailfrom whatchYAreading? and promised to review each ARC as I read it (as close to the publication date as possible). Today, on May 1, Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams was published.

I stayed up all night to read this book (I’m kind of a middle-of-the-night reader), and I couldn’t put it down for two reasons. First, the prose style is quick — Williams puts the reader very deep in London’s head, and on occasion a single page is single sentence thought. Second, the unraveling of the plot and the emotions is slow, but intense, and I didn’t want to abandon either London or Zach in the middle of their heartbreaking story. But let’s get on the particulars, eh?

The PLOT

This is a Christian novel, but it is not a hand-comes-out-of-page-to-slap-you-in-the-face-with-Christianity Christian novel. Zach and London are the children of missionaries, and each character has a personal (read: therefore different) relationship with Jesus and God. There are several secondary characters and families in this novel who are also Christian, who are a part of the Church social circle, and collectively & individually those folks have a personal relationships with Jesus and God. This is not, however, a preachy novel. I wouldn’t classify Waiting as an evangelical novel. It’s a novel with Christians at its center, and one of them has completely lost faith & love (the mother), and one of them hides, literally, at the church (the father), and one of them can’t quite figure out how to find comfort in two dead people — Jesus & Zach (London).

The plot isn’t so much active as it is pensive, but the novel is engaging and does move forward at a good pace. London is deep inside her own head in the beginning, and so are we, and as she tries to emerge from her silent bubble, we begin to understand what’s happening around her with her family and with her friends. London is a master of burying secrets, from the reader and from herself, and as she begins to interact with the other main characters again–Taylor (her brother’s best friend) and Lauren (her best friend)–we begin to see that while she didn’t exactly lie, she left out large pieces of the truth. The reveals aren’t shocking or irritating, though, and I was never once upset or annoyed with London for being unable to tell the story straight. There was an honesty in how London was able to put the events around Zach’s death back together again.

The NARRATOR

As this novel is sunk so deep in London’s mind, I’m pretty sure I covered much of what could be said about London as a narrator in the plot section. The plot is tied inseparably to London’s mind, and the most fascinating aspects of this novel were to see how little bits of dialogue with other characters changed London’s thoughts and forced her to reconcile a new piece of the puzzle around Zach’s death. She had buried much of his death so deep — much like her mother and father — but unlike with them, we see people trying to ease London out of her silent reverie.

London’s change from the beginning of the novel to the end of the novel is honest and saddening and sweet all at once. Her realizations about those who love her and those who can’t love her anymore is both heartbreaking and heart-healing all at once, and those are emotions London feels so deeply in this novel. Being so set in her mind, Williams makes it impossible to escape the sometimes throat-closing pain and lonliness felt my London, which very slowly becomes replaced once again by a liveliness.

My FINAL THOUGHTS

A little past half way, London has this revelation: she is still alive. What this moment means in the novel is incredible, and it’s a simple revelation with serious and lasting impacts on every single person around her. How this moment acts as a contrast to Zach’s death, and his void, is a subtle but brilliant stroke of story-telling by Williams. So I put here so you’ll be sure to watch for it.

Perhaps my favorite part of this whole novel is how central each individual person is to the people who are in their lives. In a way, each individual is a little center of their own universe, and it’s unavoidable that our choices will create waves that will affect those closest to us the most and those farthest from us the least. London and Zach create very different waves, but they are like two stone thrown into a pond at a very close distance — their waves inevitably overlap and push back on one another.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

* Summary from barnesandnoble.com

What does that rating mean?

Review: Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler

Bittersweet cover

Simon Pulse, 1/3/2012

Once upon a time, Hudson knew exactly what her future looked like. Then a betrayal changed her life and knocked her dreams to the ground. Now she’s a girl who doesn’t believe in second chances, a girl who stays under the radar by baking cupcakes at her mom’s diner and obsessing over what might have been.

So when things start looking up and she has another shot at her dreams, Hudson is equal parts hopeful and terrified. Of course, this is also the moment a cute, sweet guy walks into her life—and starts serving up some seriously mixed signals. She’s got a lot on her plate, and for a girl who’s been burned before, risking it all is easier said than done.

It’s time for Hudson to ask herself what she really wants, and how much she’s willing to sacrifice to get it. Because in a place where opportunities are fleeting, she knows this chance may very well be her last….*

This is not a novel to be read without an adequate (and by adequate, I mean approximately 3 dozen) cupcakes on hand. Why? Because each chapter begins with a very delicious cupcake description, a cupcake for every possible problem life throws your way. If you don’t have access to delicious, cupcake goodness, you’ll be in agony for the rest of your reading experience.

THE PLOT

The first fifty pages of this book packs in quite the back story, and it’s one of the few books I’ve read with a prologue that is completely necessary. And let me let you in on what the synopsis doesn’t tell you (and don’t worry, it’s all right there in the prologue): Hudson’s dashed dream is Olympic-level figure skating and the big betrayal is her father cheating on her mother, which ends in divorce.

In a series of fortunate events, Hudson’s life collides with Josh’s, a high school hockey player who desperately wants her help on the ice. But instead of coaching  just  Josh, Hudson ends up teaching all the Wolves how to skate better, the linchpin in their ten-year losing streak. In return, she asks for undisturbed ice time so she can put a routine together for a skate competition that comes with the higher prize of a $50,000 college scholarship.

While bits and pieces of this plot seemed entirely convenient, I’m old enough to know that life does have a tendency to throw what one wants or needs into the mix at eerily precise moments. Of course, what one wants or needs isn’t always compatible. While reading, I found myself continuously doubting which path Hudson should take.

THE NARRATOR

Hudson is a high school girl, the local Cupcake Queen, and under the bizarre impression she can hold the aforementioned title and remain under the radar of her peers.  Her voice, as a first-person narrator, was typical of most other female first-person narratives I’ve read in YA. The action carried more of the story than her narration did.

I must admit to being continuously frustrated by Hudson’s party line: I am not selfish. Or rather, her tendency to change the subject / offer excuses when other characters made a point to mention to Hudson her increasingly selfish behavior throughout the story-arc. This isn’t to say this particular characterization is not spot-on, and there is a very good Moment of Self Realization towards the end that I enjoyed immensely because of this characterization. But still, it’s annoying and a reader should be prepared to want to smash a few of Hudson’s cupcakes in her face.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Much of this book references back to Hester Prynne, and I have no idea why. Yes, Hudson is reading The Scarlet Letter in her English class; yes, plenty of high school girls have felt condemned and ostracized by their peers. But those connections are weak, and often actually missing several larger Points of The Scarlett Letter, and doing nothing to add depth to either the plot of this novel nor to the character of Hudson. There were a few moments where the out-of-place Hester references almost made me stop reading. I feel a need to admit to that here.

The ending (the final two chapters, specifically) made the entire read worthwhile, though. Ockler leaves certain plot lines unfinished.  These plot lines represent realities that Hudson must accept, as they are, for her to make a giant leap in personal growth. I won’t spoil whether Hudson does or doesn’t understand what she’s facing at the end, but that the option is left up to the character, and not easily solved by the author, was especially meaningful.

Rating: ★ ★ ★
*Summary taken from BarnesandNoble.com
Note: this review originally posted on MHLit Society -- found here.

Review: The Stalker Chronicles by Carley Moore

Cover image of "The Stalker Chronicles"Sophomore Cammie Bliss has long been labeled a stalker by her peers, but when a cute new boy named Toby arrives at her small town high school, Cammie has a chance to be “normal.” Trouble is, she can’t really help herself and she’s up to her old tricks of “intense observation and following” pretty quick. Making things worse, her younger brother is dating one of the most popular girls in the school, her parents have separated, and her dad has begun to watch their house most nights. Cammie has simply got to figure out why she behaves the way she does, and end it once and for all. *

Back in February, I blogged about receiving a big batch of ARCs in the mail from whatchYAreading? and promised to review each ARC as I read it (as close to the publication date as possible). Earlier this week, on March 27, The Stalker Chronicles by Carley Moore was published, and here is my promised, honest review.

PLOT

I think the summary does a pretty good job at letting you know what the plot is going to be all about, except maybe it places too much emphasis on Cammie’s parents’ divorce and her dad also having stalker tendencies. I honestly wanted more of this plot arc, and felt disappointed at the end when basically nothing came of it. However, I’ve got the distinct feeling there will be more to Cammie’s story in future books. Or perhaps I’m just really hoping for that because  nothing was adequately resolved by the final page. From the book summary, from “Cammie has simply got to figure out why she behaves the way she does, and end it once and for all,” I really expected a conclusion at the end of this novel. I was disappointed without one. The book ends, quite literally, in the moments before something more happens in regards to her parents’ divorce, and when everything in high school–things with Toby, things with her brother, and things with her best friend–have hit this unsettling calm point. An, I think, obviously unresolved point; a point that leaves me with the distinct “calm before the storm” feeling and I won’t lie, I’m a little bummed I didn’t get the storm and only got the lead-up.

And because I thought it several times while reading, I’m just going to say it here, too: I don’t understand why, with Toby, Cammie decides to change from “stalker” into… well, whatever might be more “normal” behavior for a teen girl  pursuing her crush. Because that is essentially the main plot of this novel: how Cammie pursues Toby. Perhaps Cammie is a little over-the-top (she does, at one point, go through his garbage), but I’m not sure “normal” is particularly good or interesting.

THE NARRATOR

Cammie is a very well-written narrator, which is good because I spent the majority of this novel only inside her head. I don’t mean that in the typical first-person narrator way (this is a first-person narrator), but Cammie doesn’t do a whole lot of talking to other people. This is because of her casting as a stalker. She spends a lot of time on the sidelines just watching people and narrating inside her own head about it.

Cammie’s narrative includes anecdotes from the present day revolving around Toby; her brother, Henry; and her parents’ divorce. But mixed in amongst this present-day plot arc is Cammie’s telling of prior stalking incidents, incidents that she self-admits have built up this horrible reputation for her. What I think is always kind of a thing with first-person narrators is that level of unreliability they create within their own story. Each person has their own perception of how events unfold and relationships grow, and within that is an unavoidable creation of unreliable narration. However, when Cammie is narrating, both past and present, but especially past, she only presents “the facts”.  I never felt like she had much of an emotional attachment to herself, to what she had done or the reputation she’d created for herself. Which doesn’t make me question her much as a narrator — getting the facts, the chronological sequence of events, right isn’t that hard. It’s when perceptions and emotions are brought into play with the facts, that her character would be further developed and her motivations deeper understood by me, the reader. As it was, I felt like I was getting a very dry history lesson. I can’t say I understand why Cammie is a stalker other than she has always been one. Of course, I don’t think Cammie knows why by the end of the book, either, even though that’s the question she set out to answer from the very first page.

I will say that Cammie does have some very interesting insights into confronting her own reputation, insights that are earnest and had me, at one point, exclaiming out loud, “Yes, exactly!”

FINAL THOUGHTS

Once again, I’ve found a book with a Hester Prynne reference. It’s brief, it comes late in the book, but it’s there. This has quickly become the thing that annoys me most in YA novels with female leads.  I give a detailed explanation as to why this bothers me so much in my review of Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler over at MHLit. I won’t repeat myself here, but seriously, a Hester Prynne comparison grates my nerves.

There are several meaningful threads of teenager-ness woven into this story, and the interconnectedness of reputation and relationships is particularly interesting. I do hope that Moore publishes more books in The Stalker Chronicles because I think Cammie deserves to sort out herself and her family, and I think the reader deserves to know what happens, really happens, to everyone as the deal with toughness of what’s going on.

Rating: ★ ★

* Summary from barnesandnoble.com

What does that rating mean?

“The Hunger Games” film, my initial thoughts

Since lots of people keep asking what I thought of THE HUNGER GAMES movie:

1. I really enjoyed it, and overall I’m happy with the film as an adaptation of the book. I think the acting was great — because we’re in Katniss’s head in the book, I never realized that she can’t talk in the arena for fear of being found — I think Lawrence did a phenomenal job with facial expressions and silence. I think the setting was imaginative and the costuming was superb.

2. In the same way I needed to reread the book series to get past the initial shock of the horrible things occurring, I will need to see this movie again to get beyond the shock of seeing children killed on screen. That was way worse on screen than in my own head. And yes, I cried as much in the movie as I did in the book.

3. I don’t instantly hate Gale in the movie (thanks Hemsworth!), but I’m still Team Peeta all the way.

4. At the end of it all, I realized some of my favorite scenes and lines were left out. And then, I realized that I LOVED THAT. I’m happy that the movie left me some scenes to only enjoy in the book… and the movie created some scenes for me to only enjoy in film (I really loved seeing Seneca manipulate the Games and I’m intrigued about how the decision for two winning tributes was explained).

All in all, I’m very content with the film, but I’m even happier that it made me just want to pick up my book copy of THE HUNGER GAMES and spend more time with *my* Katniss, *my* Peeta, and *my* Panem.

I do have more thoughts, but if you want to know those, leave a comment down below about something you want to discuss about the film.

Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

When Clara Gardner learns she’s part angel, her entire life changes. She now has a purpose, a specific task she was put on this earth to accomplish, except she doesn’t know what it is. Her visions of a raging forest fire and a mysterious boy lead her to a new high school in a new town but provide no clear instruction. As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she’d have to make—between the boy in her vision and the boy in her life, between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. . . . When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?.*

PLOT

I should say that I haven’t read a lot of novels with angels as the main fantastical/mythical (I’m not really sure how to classify angels) component. In fact, I think I’ve only read two fantasy series with angels as a component; one where the angels are cross-breading with humans, similar to Unearthly, and in the second the angel was really just a side benefit to all the demon stuff going on. So for me this is still a pretty new idea, a place in literature I haven’t been often, and Cynthia Hand certainly created a very fun angel-world to visit. There are angels, half-angels, quarter-angels, and the neat tricks of each angelic level is pretty darn fascinating. There is a suggestion that, at least in the world of the novel, these types of human-angel hybrids are historical nuisances (either being feared by humans or hunted by full angels), and they have a long history of hiding what & who they are.

From the description above, I predicted the arc of the story to be: first, about Clara learning that she’s part angel; second, about what she can do as a quarter-angel-human; and third, about her mysterious task, the one she was “put on this earth to accomplish.”  However, at the beginning of the novel Clara already knows she’s a quarter-angel-human (though there is a flashback scene to her finding out). Clara knows what she’s supposed to be able to do as a quarter-angel-human, but she mostly sucks at it (she spends a majority of this novel learning how to fly, which is both humorous and frustrating, for Clara and for the reader); and there are a few great moments of Clara doing something angelic and her mother being surprised by it either manifesting at all or manifesting so soon (which, if you can’t tell, suggests Clara is a special quarter-angel-human). Finally, Clara has her mysterious Purpose, which turns her into a bit of a stalker, and really, the entire plot of this novel is redeemed by the larger Purpose plot. It takes a long time to unravel and get anywhere (there is all the angelic training, and moving, and general teenage stuff to do, too), but when it starts moving, it’s pretty interesting and very action-packed.

THE NARRATOR

Clara seemed a very typical teenage girl narrator: she found her inner narrations more funny than they were and she focused on tidbits of life around her that were obviously missing the point (which was interesting for me to notice as a reader as I was “in her head”). There is an odd tension between first-person point of view and Clara seeming to be aware of an audience listening to her; it’s unclear to me after reading this if Clara was supposed to be conscious of an audience (if the story-telling aspect of this narration was, on purpose, emphasized) or if that was just the way the narration kept leaning. In a few places Clara seemed to be consciously narrating & commenting on the story, and in other places her first-person voice seemed more natural, less self-aware.  Either way would have been a fine choice, but each way lends its own stylistic impacts to a story-arc, and the wavering between the two styles threw me off in specific places. Not in a strong, distracting way, but it was noticeable none the less.

Clara does, however, make far too many “literally” jokes. I’m very proud she actually knows what the word “literally” means, and I’m glad she never literally laughed her butt off, or literally split a rib laughing, but still. Not using a word incorrectly does not mean one needs to use the word correctly at every available & correct opportunity.

As a complicated quarter-angel-human teenager girl, Clara made some decisions that were flawed from one perspective of the plot, but commendable from another. She was still making some interesting choices at the end of the novel that lead the plot into some twists that, while predictable, were reached in interesting ways. This book is followed by its sequel, Hallowed (1/17/2012), so though Clara’s story in this novel ended without making much forward progress on her flaws or concerns, there is still room for her to grow.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Like most books that will come up for $0.99 review, I purchased this book because of it’s price point, and then I read this book because I’d purchased it (weird line of action there, I know). It was a quick read for me (a few hours total), though I did find myself missing key world rules & dynamics and having to re-read in places.  This novel was definitely entertaining enough to read at a slower, more careful pace so as not to miss important bits of information; especially the important bits of subtle action that propelled Clara into a sudden climax.

I will probably, eventually want to read Hallowed to know how things progress for Clara and co. The side kicks in this novel (her little brother, two potential love interests, and several other part-angel-humans) are obviously going to be involved in future books in more impactful ways. And I am sucker for good side kicks.

Rating: ★ ★ ★

* Summary from barnesandnoble.com

What does that rating mean?

The best mail contains books.

A few weeks ago I left a comment on a whatchYAreading? blog post, and the reward for that was tremendous! I won all these books!

Big thanks to whatchYAreading? for hosting this giveaway on their blog. And be sure to read the comment thread along with the blog post (assuming you clicked that link there) because there is a very interesting & important discussion happening about book  bloggers, librarians, and publishing companies, and the intersection of all three in the promotion of reading.

But really, let’s get to the books now. Here’s how I got the books below: Christine from whatchYAreading? sent me an email telling me to pick 6 of 12 titles, and I did, and she mailed them to me. Publisher information & date of publication is noted in the captions of the covers, and I expect to post a review for each book, if not on the day of publication, in the appropriate month of publication.

So, these are the six books I picked and why.


Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 3/27/2012

The Stalker Chronicles by Carley Moore

I’m the first to publicly admit that in mid-school and high school I was a tad boy crazy. I really liked flirting with boys; having dates to all the dances (fact: I attended every dance from 6th grade to 12th grade; at first because I was on the committees, and at the end, just to have this fact); and having someone to stand in the impossibly long lunch line for me as long as I promised to hold his hand for the period.

When I first saw the title, and then cover, of this novel, I was a little skeptical. (I’m just now coming around to accepting pink as a color.) However, when I read the synopsis–Cammie has some stalker, boy-crazed tendencies–I knew I had to give this novel a shot. Now that I’m older I can read about the insane things teenage girls do to catch a boy’s affections without cringing because finally I don’t see myself in the character. Thank goodness for growing up!


Little, Brown & Company, 4/17/2012

172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

“Everyone said sending teenagers into space would be their opportunity of a lifetime…” (qtd. from BarnesandNoble.com synopsis).

Sending teenagers into space seems, to me, like a colossally bad idea. Absolutely nothing about this plot concept should go right, and I’m very intrigued about all the things that will be going wrong. But of course, something should go right somewhere… right? maybe?

Also, only one of the three main teenagers has her culture identified (Japanese, from Japan), and I’m left wondering where Mia (I’d assume English descent) and Antoine (I don’t have a guess) are from; there is the opportunity for cross-cultural perspectives to come into major play in a sci-fi-esque YA novel. To me, that seems like a large load to handle, but I’m also totally on board that rocket ship to see where this goes.


Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, 5/1/2012

Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams

Zach and London grew up as the children of missionaries, spending formative years of their childhood in Africa and Latin America. And then Zach dies, and everything becomes shambles, and London wonders if Zach took his own life or if it was, somehow, her fault.

I’m a very big fan of “sibling books” — that is, books that focus around the relationship between siblings and the identity siblings form as individuals and as related to one another.  When Zach dies, London must figure out how to cope with this loss: both of her brother and a strong part of her identity.

I’m most curious to see how the redemptive process takes place in this novel; I’d like to know if London’s feeling of responsibility has a seed in truth and I’d like to know how much the religious tones of the book play into the redemption of London–with her family and within her self.


Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 6/19/2012

The Wild Queen: The Days and Nights of Mary, Queen of Scots by Carolyn Meyer

The reason I want to read this book requires a less in-depth explanation: I really like historical fiction.

For some reason, though, I never seem to read YA historical fiction. Or rather, I haven’t read much historical fiction in YA that is primarily historical fiction. I’ve been reading plenty of steampunk and historical fantasy and time travel stories in the last few years, but it’s been a while since I’ve read “pure” historical fiction in YA.

I’ve never read or heard of Carolyn Meyer, and this is apparently a grave oversight on my part as a historical fiction lover and an avid YA reader.  She’s written a ton of books similar to this one, and I’m hoping The Wild Queen proves a nice entrance in her work.


Hyperion, 6/26/2012

Secret Letters by Leah Scheier

This is a book about a girl who discovers Sherlock Holmes– a detective she admires and longs to work with in an escape from her aristocratic country life–is her biological father. But then, he’s dead and she’s trying to solve a mystery, and I’m betting things get real outta hand.

This is a book that I hope to love for it’s backdrop against Sherlock Holmes, but I will be undoubtedly (and maybe unfairly) critical of this backdrop, as well.

Of course, I should probably do a bit of a refresher in Sherlock Holmes (the Sir Arthur Canon Doyle works, not the various adaptations or remixes) before I get around to reading this novel. I loathe to be critical through a musty critical lens; it may need to be dusted off a bit first.


Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 7/10/2012

Lost Girls by Ann Kelley

It seems the official cover for this novel has not yet been released, so I will not be sharing the cover of my ARC either.  There is a possibility the cover may change, I suppose (I’ve seen it happen between ARCs and published copies), and if you’re anything like me, the cover helps inform your initial  judgment of a novel.

As far as I can tell, this is a novel in the same flavor as The Lord of the Flies, except a little modernized and with girls. I can’t tell you how excited I am about the prospect of GIRLS trapped on a deserted island fighting for their lives and trying to figure out why one of their friends is dead and where their boatman has disappeared to.