Monday, January 30, 2012

Mandy's Book of the Week (1/30)

Hi!  I hope you are all prepared to have an awesome week!  I've been super busy planning a spring full of awesome teen events.  I was on Talk of the Town on KTLO radio last Friday talking about some of it and will go back on the air February 27th to talk about March's events in detail (I'll post a link to the audio for last week when it becomes available).

Anyway, on to book of the week!

I just finished this book yesterday, but it was so good I wanted to go ahead and share it today.

If you like horror stories, this book is right up your alley.  It reminded me a lot of a Stephen King novel.

Alex's parents died when she was 14.  A year later, she was diagnosed with a beast of a brain tumor.  Finally, at age 17, the doctors have decided there is very little left that can be done for her.  Sure, they can do experimental stuff that may or may not extend her life, but nothing is guaranteed.  Alex decides that she's done with treatment and is going to live the rest of her life, however long that is, the way she wants.  Carpe diem, if you will.

One day, Alex skips school and heads into Michigan.  She is taking her parents ashes to sprinkle in Lake Superior, as they wished, but this involves quite a bit of hiking.  Enough that she'll be gone several weeks.

On her second day in the woods, she runs into a little girl, Ellie, and her grandfather and their dog.  Ellie has an attitude as big as she is (her father was recently KIA in Iraq) and the dog was her father's dog during the war.  While chatting over coffee, something happens.  The grandfather drops dead.  The animals go berserk.  Alex's head feels like it is going to explode.  Once the pain subsides, she realizes all the electrical equipment has stopped working.  What is going on?

Eventually, Alex persuades Ellie, who is freaking out, to come with her to the nearest ranger station.  However, on the way they fall near a ledge, causing all their supplies except a few to tumble over the side, and they divert to a nearby camping site for help.

When they get to the site, they cannot believe their eyes: there are two teens eating a person.  And I mean really digging in.  This begins the real journey.  What was that pain (and why did it cause Alex's sense of smell, long ago lost to cancer, to come back?)?  What happened to Ellie's grandfather?  And what the heck happened to those kids?

This is a great story for everyone who likes horror or mystery.  There is a very little bit of a love story, but it is so tiny and secondary to everything else that I probably shouldn't even mention it.

I returned this book today, so it is ready and waiting!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mandy's Book of the Week (1/16)

This week's book is what they tend to call an "issues book," basically meaning that it is a piece of fiction that deals with some sort of issue that teens could possibly deal with.

Doesn't that cover look romantic?  This book is NOT a romance.  As we learned last week, don't judge a book by its cover!

This book is about Nick and Caitlin.  Nick is that hot popular guy at school who is completely out of reach of your typical girl.  Caitlin used to be fat, but she lost a lot of weight over the summer and now Nick wants to date her.

Being that she is not used to all this male attention, especially from someone like Nick, she goes out with him and they quickly fall in love.  But then he gets controlling.  And eventually verbally abusive.  And soon he starts hitting her.

But here's the thing: Nick does love Caitlin.  He loves her so much that his life is dominated by the fear of her leaving him.  In order to keep her, he thinks that he has to make her feel like absolute crap about herself so that she'll be too downtrodden to leave.

It was a hard book to read, emotionally.  It was hard for me to find sympathy for either Nick or Caitlin.  How many times did my parents tell me that you leave a boy/man that hits you?  And yet, Caitlin stayed and stayed and stayed some more.  She even went back after Nick hit her the first time.  And Nick, in the beginning, just doesn't view any of his controlling or abusive behaviors as a bad thing.  That is, until Caitlin gets a restraining order and he is forced to attend a class for men who beat their girlfriends and wives.

Once this book got going, I couldn't put it down.  It is very engaging and easy to read.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Mandy's Book of the Week (1/9)

I was hesitant to read this week's book.  I was hesitant to read it because I didn't like the cover (I'll hang my head for shallowness now).

The cover is still not visually appealing to me.  I mean, a lighter?  Some words?  There is a reason that book covers have been getting big makeovers and that's because people really do judge a book by its cover.

I regret that I didn't pick this book up sooner.  It is a mystery and a thriller all rolled up into one ugly cover.

Ok, I'll quit talking about the ugly cover now.

Vera's mom took off when she was 12 and she's lived with just her dad ever since.  The one true constant in her life has been her best friend Charlie.  Eventually this childish, best friend love begins to transform, but Vera doesn't admit it to Charlie.  She barely admits it to herself.

Once Charlie and Vera get to high school, things start to change.  Vera is on the academic track while Charlie, who COULD be on the same track, has been convinced by his dad (who beats his mom) to take a different path.  Charlie starts getting detention and eventually falls in with the "detentionheads," the kids who spend practically their whole lives in detention.  One of the girls, jealous of the attention that Charlie gives to Vera, starts spreading rumors, namely things that Vera said about Charlie (like that his dad beats his mom, which is the family's dirty little secret), causing Charlie to start spilling Vera's secret (that her mom used to be a stripper).  There is a huge falling out.  And the downward spiral begins in earnest.

This book reads in a split format; some of the chapters are from the present and some flash back to the past.  Sometimes that can be irritating, but it really works in this book.  It is super easy to follow and there are some really funny chapters written by the dead kid (that'd be Charlie) or Vera's dad.  Did I not mention that Charlie was dead?  My bad.

Ignore the cover.  PLEASE ignore the cover.  This book is so good that it was shortlisted for a major award.  Come get it!