Sunday, February 26, 2012

Shine by Lauren Myracle

Growing up is one of the hardest things to face. Personally, I found the entire concept difficult, from puberty to the pressure to change what books I read. Shine is in part about growing up. When we are young we shine, the world shines. Then bad things happen, and the shine is lost.

When Cat was young, she was best friends with Patrick. Then Cat started to distance herself from him and from all of her friends. The book starts with an article describing an attack on Patrick. His skull was bashed and a gas pump was taped to his mouth. Because of the trauma and the gas fumes, Patrick ended up in a coma.

The crime seems to have been a hate crime because Patrick is gay. Local police believe that the crime was committed by someone just passing through, maybe some college kids from the nearby city. Cat thinks that someone in her town knows more than they are saying. She feels that she owes it to her old friend to find out who hurt him, even as others work to keep the truth hidden. It now sounds like a John Grisham novel.

Shine is definitely ultra-dramatic and ultra-Southern. It reminds me a bit of the movie Winter's Bone. All those Southern staples are there, the church goers and the fallen sports hero and the crystal meth. I ended up guessing the ending fairly early in the book. It seemed like the obvious solution, and the obvious solution is usually the right one. In this case, it was also a pretty sad solution as well. Not to give too much away, but I understand why Cat didn't want it to be true. Unfortunately, yet another part of growing up is facing that ugly truth. Sometimes we trust the wrong people and sometimes we think our greatest protectors let us down. When we find out the truth, it turns the world upside down. But then we can move forward and move on, let go of the pain from the loss of childhood. We can shine again.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Fracture by Megan Miranda

Question: What would you do if you knew someone was going to die? Would you try to warn them? Would you try to save them? Would it even matter? For a teen book, Fracture brought up a lot of tricky questions about life and death.

The story starts when Delaney fell through the ice. She stayed under the water for 11 minutes until her best friend Decker pulled her out. After all that time, Delaney actually died. She was in a coma and technically brain dead, but miraculously she awoke. Despite the oxygen deprivation, Delaney had no brain damage. Everything was normal, except now she sees strange lights around people who will die soon. Sort of like that Twilight Zone episode.

Delaney meets another young man who can sense death, Troy. She hopes she can learn more about her new ability, but it soon becomes apparent that Troy can't be trusted. In order not to give anything away, I'll just say that he's a very bad man. There are even a couple scenes in the book where he is physically chasing Delaney that gave me chills.

Meanwhile, other than the new ability, or maybe because of the ability, Delaney becomes detached from her friends and family. Her parents are experiencing a special kind of grief because even though she isn't dead, she's definitely not the same person. And, because we need to get some romance up in here, Delaney has this whole big Dawson/Joey thing going on with Decker. It's obvious with those two, no matter how many tight-sweater Taras he dates or how many inappropriately old male nurses she hangs with.

I honestly expected Fracture to be yet another vaguely paranormal book in the vast sea of teen books. I lucked out because Fracture was incredibly enjoyable, the writing was actually good, and the discussions of life and death bring up a lot of very good points. You can definitely do a lot worse than Fracture, and it's nice to have an option from the grating and melodramatic Twilight series.

I received my copy of Fracture from Netgalley. It's available for sale now.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Gathering Storm: The Katerina Trilogy by Robin Bridges

Katerina is a young Russian noblewoman who dreams of being a doctor. Unfortunately, her destiny seems to be marrying some nobleman and living a domestic life. Still, Katerina studies Latin and old medical journals in her free time. She plans to apply to schools in other countries where women may be able to practice medicine.

When taking only this characteristic into account, I for one am all for Katerina as a main character. Gotta love a girl who goes after what she wants, even if it isn't the societal norm. Of course, there's more to the girl than grand dreams. Ever since she was a little girl, Katerina has been able to raise the dead. She considers it to be a curse and hides this talent away from everyone. Russia at that time was very anti-dark magic, and necromancy is one of the darkest arts, so hiding is ideal.

Unfortunately, Katerina's talents catch the attention of a classmate whose family is all witches and blood drinkers. Their brother, the Prince Danilo, is impossible for Katerina to resist. An accidental use of powers also brings her close to the tsar's son George, who is basically Mr. Darcy. The story gets its stride, and it's basically a whir of parties, balls, undead soldiers, vampires, werewolves, and more parties.

All in all, this was another excellent beginning to yet another series. I really like the historical aspects of the story, mixing in fantasy and horror with actual Russian history. Knowing the tumultuous history on the way for Russia and the world, it should be very exciting to see what sort of adventures are next for Katerina.

I received a copy of The Gathering Storm from Netgalley, but in full disclosure, it expired before I finished the book. So I bought a copy for my nook. It's available for purchase now.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bossypants by Tina Fey

I was so excited when I found out that Tina Fey was writing a book. Seriously, it was at the top of my list. It's just that stuff got in my way, and I couldn't get an advanced copy, and the ebook was kind of pricey, and I just never took the time to borrow a copy from work. So, a couple weeks ago (A month?) I reserved a copy at the library, and then let it sit around a couple more weeks until this past weekend I took the plunge and actually read it. I'm glad I did that instead of wait until it's due back, but try to keep it a few extra days to finally read it but then fail and rack up late charges. Not that this has ever happened to me before.

On to the book, it was everything I've come to expect and love in my memoirs. There's just something I love about reading the stories that actually happened by the people who lived them. Bossypants starts off with Ms. Fey's childhood and teenage years. I was pleasantly surprised to notice some memories shared with one Liz Lemon on 30 Rock. For the most part, her childhood was as nerdy as anyone might expect.

Later stories were about Fey's career. The stories about Saturday Night Live made me minorly jealous and wanting to work at a sketch comedy show. It was interesting how she doesn't really talk much about acting on SNL, just writing, and she doesn't consider herself very good at impressions. I also liked reading Fey's view of her run as Sarah Palin.

Tina Fey is a funny woman, and so easy to relate to. There are so many times when I would watch 30 Rock and think about how much I was like Liz Lemon, which isn't always a flattering thing. It's wonderful to read about the woman who created Liz Lemon and so many other characters.

P.S. Both Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling talk about what a fantastic person Amy Poehler is and I hope she's the next comedienne to write a book.