Monday, April 30, 2012
When a ghostwriter is offered the chance to write the autobiography of a former Prime Minister, he jumps at the chance, but as he starts reaching back into the past, he learns more than is safe to know.
This was just exceptional in every way- a perfect tense thriller with teasing hints of veiled reality, no gore, but a lucid and wonderfully written book.
So freaking good.
When Guy's best friend Anoop convinces him to join the school Forensics Club (to meet girls), they have no idea that they will encounter some real mysteries.
Guy's voice was clear and distinct, and his relationships and world felt very real. Anoop, Maureen, and other supporting characters were drawn with grace and humor.
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Wally/Valentina is an interesting protagonist - adopted from a Russian orphanage at 5, she is now 16, and a runaway in NYC.
Her crew of fellow runaways follow her leadership, and when she finds a hint to her past, they help her try to discover what it means, although danger soon follows.
Well done, and very cinematic.
When Rain's ex-bestie Wendy is found dead in Central Park, the media is quick to paint Wendy as a party girl who was headed for disaster, but as Rain tries to find out more about the last hours of Wendy's life, she discovers layers of lies and betrayal.
Rain and Wendy were both very believable characters, and their relationship to each other and to others felt very realistic. The NYC private school thing was nicely done, showing the strata of society these girls were around, without making it over the top Gossip Girl style, and the supporting characters were fleshed out as well.
I felt that it took Rain a little too long to figure out what happened, but, that said, I really liked this well-written mystery.
This was very much a sequel- I don't know if it would stand alone, but luckily I had read Bumped, so was able to jump right in without getting too lost.
Harmony and Melody, twins raised apart in a near future where a virus has affected human reproduction, and female fertility ends at around 18, are international celebrities for both being pregnant with twins. In Bumped, the girls find each other, but Harmony was raised in a kind of God-fearing commune situation, and Melody on the Outside, is putting her surrogate skills up for sale in a bidding war.
Melody's hired star inseminator Jondoe falls in love with Harmony, and is the father of her twins, instead of Ram, the husband she has inside the commune...
OK, I'm going to stop with the annotating.
While thought provoking and timely in addressing women's reproductive rights, this didn't really stand alone, and the ending was very wrap-it-all-up and happy endings for everyone to feel realistic, even in the surreal world they lived in.
Monday, April 23, 2012
Aliens land in the Australian desert pleading refugee status, but it is only a short time until they attack.
At the point the novel starts, the only human-controlled areas are North and South America- the Free Territories.
A team of 6 teen commandos have all kinds of training and surgery to pass as Bzadians, and they attack the center of the Bzadian control, at Uluru.
Daft but fast and fun- a little too predictable though.
That said, these stories ranged from the utterly bleak ( T.C. Boyle's The Siskiyou was very disturbing) to the absolutely haunting (Lydia Millet's Zoogoing- I've read it 3 times, and it is still echoing in my mind) to looks at what water deals taking place now might mean for the American Southwest (in Paolo Bacigalupi's stunning The Tamarisk Hunter).
These stories all have a common theme, but the incredible slate of authors each use their own inimitable voices, and the chorus of them together is powerful.
The protagonist, named Anne Blythe (over the top, no?) is so desperate to be in a relationship that she pays $10,000 to an arranged marriage service.
This book just made me depressed. Without spoiling the "plot" for other readers, this just painted Anne as a sad and lonely and rather pathetic woman unable to live without a partner.
I thought women had come along way, baby, but you'd never know it from reading this.
I felt insulted as a woman and a reader by just about everything in this book, and am profoundly disappointed, as after reading Spin, I had thought I'd found a fun, new writer writing about realistic women, but I just have to say, read Marian Keyes instead.
Teen's bodies are rented by Elders, adults who survived the Spore Wars and have utilized advanced medical technologies to the point where "250 is the new 100", and the wealthy Elders have technology that will allow them to enter and control a teen's body (while the teen is put into a medically induced comatose mental state).
There were just too many plot holes here- I really enjoyed it but it had major problems, conceptually, and in many ways it read as a mash-up of other popular dystopian novels.
Would be popular with theater kids.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and of course remembered the public frenzy when her senior project to fake a pregnancy to study stereotypes and expectations of teen parents came out, and it was great to read and get more insight into the whole thing.
Very ordinary book, reminded me so much of The Magnolia League it felt like deja vu, and unexceptional in every way. Too many plot holes, including how the girls were never carded, never mentioned fake IDs, never explained how no one noticed Olivia lived alone... too much nonsense to type out.
A pandemic on an island, the government shuts it off, and survivors struggle.
I liked it, but it had too many plot holes, and not much of a resolution.
In a future where humans have achieved universal material comfort, celebrity or major talents are the only way to stand out. At a special school for teens who may prove exceptional, Susan and a group of friends are looking for a way to stand out. Susan's best friend Fleeta has already burned out on a drug called happistuff, and Susan is trying to angle for recognition points by dating Derlock, a rising celebrity.
The group finds a chance to achieve what would be epic fame, by stowing away on a Mars-bound spaceflight, only to discover that Derlock is a sociopath, and that the rest of them have more skills than they ever thought.
This was such a good read, and I REALLY loved the Notes For The Interested, a great way to give the math behind the plot without endless adult-style exposition- the reader has the option to just read the adventure, or to read the adventure and also the Notes and gain some interesting knowledge.
Lida, Jules, Boone, and Gia are all at the Alice Marshall School for different reasons, and they are pretty well developed characters. I'm still not totally sold on Lida and Jules reasons for being there, but hey, fiction is all about suspending disbelief, and it worked for the book.
I know that these Purity Balls really do happen, but it is so far from my experience that I have no idea how realistic this book was. I don't think they do them in Rhode Island, lol!
Shelby is struggling to keep the promises she made to her dying mother, but when her father wants her to participate in the Princess Ball, she worries that her promises she made her mother will counteract the vows she is supposed to make to her father about living a pure life. She figures out, with the help of her best friend Jonas, that the thing to do is to break the purity vows before the ball, so she won't be lying (???)
So Shelby starts to look for a guy to have sex with, completely overlooking Jonas, who is so obviously in love with her...
Ugh. I don't know.
The ending was kind of silly- a real John Hughes moment, but unrealistic.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Monday, April 16, 2012
Monday, April 9, 2012
Focusing on a group of surgeons at a prestigious teaching hospital, this was a fascinating look into the minds and backgrounds of some of the most talented and dedicated doctors in the world.
I can't imagine where Sanjay Gupta found the time to write a novel, but I'm so glad he did, and I am still thinking about some of the situations the surgeons encountered.
This was a fun read, with some solid characters and a refreshing protagonist in Chloe.
I did like it that Chloe had good relationships with her family, and I found the issues her grandmother faced were handled with great sensitivity..
This had some good characterizations, and an interesting twist, and I read it in on great gulp.
It was a good read, a quick read, and one that went very well into some over-trod territory, and came out with an interesting look at how appearances can be deceiving and how motives can get so twisted.
Follow up to Oliver's Delirium, which I felt was a much stronger book.
In Pandemonium, Lena is in the Wilds, and fighting the system- it's very much a middle book.
Ok read, but nothing spectacular.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Jazz can never escape his father's legacy- a serial killer who brought his young son to murders, training him to be a killer too. Now Billy the Butcher is in jail, and Jazz is trying desperately to stay home with his demented and cruel grandmother until he is 18, and can't get sucked into the foster system.
His life is as good as he imagines it could be- he has a best friend and a girlfriend, but when bodies start turning up in his small town, he feels the town's eyes upon him, and wants to solve the crimes to prove his innocence and to try to right some wrongs.
This was powerful writing, and Jazz was a really unique protagonist.
I really liked the voices- all of the characters were well drawn and fleshed out, even minor characters had memorable scenes.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
After how much Sadie Walker is Stranded, I was almost loath to start this one, but this title did not disappoint.
NYPD cop Jack is badly hurt in a Can Head fighting incident that left his partner dead, and he is off duty to recover. His wife and kids want to get out of their fenced in Staten Island zone, so they set off for a terrifying road trip to the Adirondacks, to Paterville Family Camp, reputed to be safe and secure.
After getting there, though, Jack and Christie find there is a hideous sinister side to the outwardly jolly camp, and their vacation turns into a nightmare.
Well written, well plotted and cinematic, this was pretty awesome.
Monday, April 2, 2012
The Michigan State Spartans, a major player in college basketball, have a stong team with one truly exceptional freshman player in Malcolm McBride- a one-and-done guy who will play NCAA for one year to become eligible for the NBA draft. His offense skills are already legenday, and like Lamar Odom, Kobe Bryant, and Magic Johnson, he will enter the NBA draft and go pro as soon as he can. His appetite for victory and his arrogance/confidence make him a bad team player, but the coach wants this prodigy player to take them far.
The Troy University Trojan are a total cinderella team- like Gonzaga in 1990, they have played far beyond everyone's expectations, and the future of the school's program will change based on their performance at the Championship, and their coach has suddenly stepped into the big leagues. Their 'star' player is defense player Roko Bacic, a red-headed Croatian who moved to America in high school after his uncle was assasinated for uncovering mafia corruption in the war-torn country. Growing up in rural Alabama, Roko's only scholarship offer came from the low-seeded school, but a team who may be tighter than the Spartans.
There are actually fantastic characterization of almost all the other players, and of the coaches as well- I really felt like many of these were very fully fleshed out, with lots of shades of grey...The writing seemed strong and descriptive to me, and I loved the kind of moral ambiguity that made most of the book so strong.
Sonia Ocampo was born the night a terrible storm beset her small mountain hamlet, but as she was born, the storm cleared, and miraculously, not a single villager had died. Since her birth, Sonia has been treated as a bearer of blessings, the girl to ask for prayers to cure sickness, create love, make it rain. She is exhausted from bearing the wishes of her community, and takes a chance to leave to work in the City, a long voyage by train. She knows she will miss Pancho, a young poet/bike taxi driver
In Casa Mason, the home of wealthy widow Katerina Mason, she is a housemaid rather than a angel, and she is sexually harassed by the son of the house.
When she finds her brother is missing and finds that he too was trying to come to the City but never made it, Sonia and Pancho leave to try to rescue her beloved brother.
When the Debauchery club doorman, Will, saves Araby from overdose one night, she begins to see that there is more to life than she knew, and soon has to decide for herself what is right and what is wrong, rather than what glamorous tattered gown she should wear to go party every night. Steampunky romantic plague-ridden dystopia- awesome!