Thursday, August 14, 2014

(August 2014) Topic of the Month: Superheroes!


August's Topic of the Month is officially Superheroes! So to kick it off, we have decided to list a few superhero novels that may interest you! Throughout the month we will be reviewing and posting little blurbs about our favorite superhero-filled novels. Hope you enjoy!!!

Here are a few that we have already read, or will be reading in the future, to start you off:

Read by: B
Here is the GoodReads summary of the book: Fourteen-year-old Zach Harriman can feel the changes. The sharpening of his senses. This incredible stregnth. The speed, as though he can text message himself across miles. The confidence and the strange need to patrol Central Park at night. His dad had been a hero, a savior to America and a confidante of the president. Then he died, and the changes began in Zach. What Zach never knew was that his father was no ordinary man-he was a superhero, battling the world's evil. This is a battle that has been waged for generations and that knows no boundaries.

Read by: C
Here is the GoodReads summary of the book: Four thousand years ago the world's first super human walked the earth. Possessing the strength of one hundred men, skin impervious to attack, and the ability to read minds, this immortal being used his power to conquer and enslave nations. Now plans are in motion that will transport this super human to the present, where he'll usher in a new age of tyranny unlike anything the world has ever seen.
Determined to stand against them, using power they have only just begun to master, is a ragtag group of young heroes. For them this first test may be their greatest...and last. (Cue dramatic music!!!)

Read by B and C:
Here is a part of the GoodReads summary of the book: What do you do if you can deadlift a car, and you spend your night flying to get away from it all? If you're fifteen-year-old Avery Pirzwick, you keep that information to yourself. When you're a former jock turned freak, can you afford to let the secret slip? But then Avery makes some friends who are as extraordinary as he is. He realizes they are more than just freaks together, maybe they have a chance to be heroes. First, though, they have to decide whether to trust the mysterious Cherchette, a powerful would-be mentor whose remarkable generosity may come at a terrible price. 
Our thoughts on the book: Dull Boy is one of those great books that was never truly discovered and given proper credit. It was definitely an awesome story with amazing characters that were just ordinary, everyday people that were finally allowed to become something greater than themselves. Everyone has to read this book!


Here is a part of the GoodReads summary of the book: Andrew Bean might be a part of H.E.R.O., a secret organization for the training of superhero sidekicks, but that doesn't mean that life is all leaping tall buildings in single bounds. First, there's Drew's power: Possessed of super senses - his hearing, sight, taste, touch, and smell are the most powerful on the planet - he's literally the most sensitive kid in school. There's his superhero mentor, a former legend who now spends more time straddling bar stools than he does fighting crime. And then there's his best friend, Jenna - their friendship would be complicated enough if she weren't able to throw a Volkswagen the length of a city block. Add in trying to keep his sidekick life a secret from everyone, including his parents, and the truth is clear: Middle school is a drag even with powers.

Read by: B and C
Here is a link to B's review.
Here is a part of the GoodReads summary of the book: Ever since becoming an IWP-Individual with Powers-Marvin Maywood has dreamed of joining the Core, a group of gifted heroes who save lives and stop crimes. But because he's a homeless teenager who is forbidden to use his amazing powers, wanting and achieving that dream are two very separate things.
But when Marvin saves a family from some dangerous hoodlums with his enhanced strength and speed, his chance to try out for the Core comes at last. The opportunity seems like a dream come true-until he realizes that the idyllic hero life he imagined is just a mask for the corrupt reality. And when a beloved hero is murdered, Marvin is suspected of being the villain behind the crime.

Read by: B
Links to B's review.
Here is a part of the GoodReads summary of the book: Nerds features a group of unpopular students who run a spy network from inside their school. With the help of cutting-edge science, their nerdy qualities are enhanced and transformed into incredible abilities! They battle the Hyena, a former junior beauty pageant contestant turned assassin, and an array of James Bond-style villains, each with an evil plan more diabolical and more ridiculous than the last.

Read by: C
Here is a part of the GoodReads summary of the book: Book #1 in a series about teenagers that were tampered with as babies - injected with a combination of drugs that were designed to leave them with super abilities. Over time the teens start to find each other, form a team, and search for answers and the man who did this to them. 
My thoughts on the book: Overall, I thought it was a decent superhero novel. I believe Kim Jewell is one of those authors that was never truly discovered. So many people have never heard of this novel and I definitely recommend it. Plus, don't let the cover fool you! The book may be about a few years old and it was an enjoyable read! The second book is also out and I believe the third book is still in the works.

                                       Book #2:                                       

Read by: C
Here is a part of the GoodReads summary of the book: Brad Baron is used to looking lame compared to his older brother, Blake. Though Brad's basically a genius, Blake is a superhero in the elite Justice Force. And Brad doesn't measure up at his high school, either, where powers like super-strength and flying are the norm. So when Brad makes friends who are more into political action than weight lifting, he's happy to join a new crew-especially since it means spending more time with Layla, a girl who may or may not have a totally illegal, totally secret super-power. And with her help, Brad begins to hone a dangerous new power of his own.
My thoughts on the book: Even though this book focuses on the villain aspect of the superhero world, I loved that the universe was one that showed the corruption within the heroic society and how the villains were just trying to set things right. The book also dealt with the constant clash of what we as humans consider to be good and evil. Definitely read this book!!!

A Rose for Melinda by Lurlene McDaniel

A Rose for Melinda
This review was written by: B
Received: Library
Publication Date of Book: August 2002
Stars: (5/5)

Cancer isn't the worst ting that can happen to a person.  And neither is dying young.  Taking life for granted, living badly-these things seem far worse to me.  In many ways-ways that count-I'm the luckiest girl in the world.

Melinda Skye was a bright, intelligent, and driven little girl.  To her, Jesse Rose was her best friend, a boy deeply attached to all things Melinda.  From first grade and on, these two were joined at the hip.  Leaning on and confiding in each other like only best friends do, it was no surprise when they felt something more towards each other later on in the book.  This story is one of loss, love, and life beautifully written through "letters, journal entries, e-mails, doctors’ reports, and instant messages."

From a young age, Melinda and Jesse connected with each other.  Jesse even attended Melinda's first ballet recital for the Nutcracker, presenting her with a single rose that he bought all by his little self for the end of her performance.  When Jesse's parents started to have problems and decided to separate and divorce, Jesse was still young, and the Skye family was there for Jesse and practically took him in as one of their own.  The Roses were very grateful towards Lenny and Elana, Melinda's parents, because Jesse's mother had to work while Jesse was supposed to be brought home from school.  Jesse was deeply against going to an after school care program and preferred to spend his time with Melinda and her family.  The Skyes even made him his own room in their basement.  It was because of this arrangement that Jesse and Melinda had a very hard time adjusting when Jesse has to move away with his mother.  Separated, the two decide to email each other so that they could keep in touch no matter what.

As they grew up, Melinda became an amazing ballerina, working hard to fulfill her dream of becoming a prima ballerina and work for a huge dance company.  As she worked her way up the ranks, she got more important parts in the annual Nutcracker performances and was invited to an elite dance opportunity taking place during her summer vacation.  She later became best friends with Bailey, a boy-crazed girl at her school.  At the same time, Jesse got into skateboarding and began to have problems with his father who started to want to become more involved in his son's life.  Jesse is conflicted with this due to his loyalty to his single mother and her decision to go to college while his now married dad lives in New York with his new family.  During all of this, Melinda and Jesse talk about all of the previously mentioned things above contained in their personal messages to each other.  Despite their distances, can these two fall in love, especially at such a young age?

Suddenly, Melinda collapses during one of her special dance opportunity classes and is rushed to the hospital.  It is here that she finds out that she has leukemia.  She is only in her beginning teens and has a promising future ahead of her.  Everyone has to bear with it one day at a time, including her and her parents and friends.  Melinda wants to see Jesse soon, and he can't wait to get to her, but what will happen after they see each other for the first time in years?  Will what they feel for each other make it through all of the e-mails and phone calls, or was it all just a dream?  And most importantly, will Melinda make it through these tough days or lose the battle against her disease?

There are certain authors whose books I can continuously read, over and over again, year after year.  People like Rick Riordan, Darren Shan, Neal Shusterman, and...Lurlene McDaniel, are just a few.  Lurlene McDaniel always seems to amaze me.  Despite the fact that this book was only a short novel that consisted of 208 pages, it packed an amazing punch.  All of her books do.  By punch I mean that her stories leave me thinking about them for days.  She puts a lot into those pages, so much so that you wish it was longer.  They're beautifully written and full of heart and soul.  This is one of my favorites of hers.

Melinda and Jesse were so cute together when they were little.  The letters that they wrote to each other from first grade started out with Jesse signing his name from "Signed, your friend" to "Your friend" changed to "Your very good friend."  It's really adorable.  As they get older, you really get to see more into their lives, their dreams, and their struggles.  While it may sound that you only get to hear from Jesse and Melinda, you also get to read things from each of their parents' perspectives.  This was really interesting.  Not only did you get to see the hardships that the two teens face through Melinda's treatments, but you are also able to see into the eyes of what parents must go through in these situations.  I can't even imagine what people must go through when their children get sick.  It's unthinkable.  However, I think that Lurlene McDaniel does a great job portraying this.  She's an amazing author whose written over fifty young adult books.  That's a huge achievement!

I felt like Jesse and Melinda were real people.  The problems they went through were what people today have to experience all the time, divorce, sickness, relationships, and loss.  While this type of writing, in letters, conversations, and the like, may seem odd or unapproachable, but it was brilliantly executed in this book.  McDaniel outdid herself with this one.  Melinda just felt so real.  She never gave up on her dreams and desires, no matter what happened to be thrown in her path.  She was a true fighter, a true hero.  Jesse was also a true hero.  He fought for what he wanted and for Melinda, giving up so much so that he could give her things that would make her happy during the rough patches, including his skateboard.

A Rose for Melinda was ultimately awe inspiring.  It was heartfelt and a truly great read.  I think that many teen girls would love this story and all that it represents.  It definitely deserves a roaring five stars for its unique voice and inspiring presence in literature today.  I hope you have the chance to read it because if you do, I think that you won't regret it.  Maybe, you'll love it as much as I have and share my same feelings!

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Night Road by A.M. Jenkins

This review was written by: C
Received: Library
Publication Date of Book: May 2008
Pages: 368
Stars: (3.5/5)

Short summary of the story:
Cole appears to be your normal everyday eighteen-year-old boy, aside from the fact that he's a vampire. Well, his kind prefers the term hemovore, or "heme" for short. Cole once lived in a small Ohio settlement until he was accidently turned by Johnny, an ancient heme, that, in the present day, has been running a fully functional heme colony at a location known as the Building. Cole enjoys the road and stops by occasionally to catch up with old friends. His most recent visit, however, is quite different. Johnny has requested Cole's presence and has a favor to ask, he wants Cole to train Gordon, the colony's most recent accident.
Cole, whose abilities lack in the mentoring department, holds little faith in himself for this task. He reluctantly agrees and hopes that he won't repeat the mistakes of his past. He is joined by Sandor, the one who turned Gordon, as they hope to make the young man an independent heme, who will eventually fend for himself and not draw attention to their kind. They hope that their travels on the road will allow Gordon to easily transition into his knew lifestyle, but there are so many well-thought-out plans that never go as expected, especially when you have a moody teen heme and a brooding Cole to contend with.

I was so glad when I discovered that A.M. Jenkins stuck with so much of the original vampire lore that I have grown to love, and I also enjoyed her own little twists to the hemes. Her characters were modern, yet held shattered pieces of their pasts that hinted at years of existence. These pieces appeared as relics of the hemes origins that they would never release, it gave them something to hold onto that brought back both happy and despairing memories. I found Cole to be the most interesting character. He viewed himself as an object outside of time, one that would forever witness the deaths of those around him as he was allowed to live. This is why he enjoyed the road so much, he would never stay too long in one place, so that he would never become attached. He also believes that it is impossible for hemes to die, even if the sun burned them to their very bones. He thinks that their shreds of existence, their consciousness, would still be tied to their remains, forever alive and unable to escape.
The hints at his past were perhaps my favorite aspects of the book. Cole was once an avid photographer and artist, taking photos and drawing his surroundings to remember important places, emotions, or events of his past. I found it to be quite sad when he would flip through his photographs and discard the snapshots that he could no longer recall.
Overall, I decided to give a rating of 3.5 stars because I felt that the story took a while to pick up. I did enjoy the events that transpired within the lives' of the characters (Jenkins did a phenomenal job at hinting and revealing the past lives of her characters, especially Cole), but I felt that the happenings of the story blurred together as Cole, Gordon, Sandor were just constantly moving from place to place. Many of the areas they passed through were similar and I just wish there had been a little something to give more edge to the story and maybe a bit more delving into each characters' past.

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn

This review was written by: B
Received: Library
Publication Date of Book: June 2014
Pages: 256
Stars: (5/5)

You can only feel bad for so long when someone else's pain is hurting you, too.

Complicit was a mind boggling book that was not only gripping, but also a  heartbreaking and amazingly executed novel.  I imagine that the less you know of the story, the more you will love it and find it hopefully intriguing.  So, I will try to keep that in mind while I review Kuehn's masterpiece.

Jamie Henry has had a tough life.  This doesn't mean that he's had a few ups and downs, but that he lived in a horrible neighborhood where his mother was shot while both he and his sister, Cate, were at home.  At the age of six he was ripped from his house and life so that he could be placed with a new, privileged family whose own two biological children died.  As replacements, Cate thrived in this new environment while Jamie suffered.  However, with time and a new psychiatrist to aid him, Jamie eventually learned to cope and get better, enabling him to live his life comfortably.  Strangely, with time, Cate turned into someone else.  She played mind games, took drugs, and ran around town like she owned the place.  Then, she was taken away for the unthinkable, burning down the local horse barn.  It was in this accident that a girl was caught in the fire, Sarah, who owned one of the horses residing in the barn.  Sarah was Scooter's, Jamie's best friend's, girlfriend.  After Cate was given her sentence, Scooter abandoned Jamie, leaving him lonely and desolate.

Now, Cate's out of confinement and ready to come after her brother.  Jamie has no idea what she wants.  He only knows that he's scared to death of her and whatever she's coming to do.  His life's looking up, and he can't let it fall apart.  Jamie's a skillful pianist, recently got a gem of a girlfriend, and is at the top of his class.  What more could he possibly desire?  Then it comes gnawing at him.  Answers.  Cate keeps calling him, badgering him, threatening him about how he needs to know.  Jamie's confused.  What must he know?  He can't remember anything before he was six years old.  His memory is locked up tight.  Jamie's only recollection of his childhood is the sweet, sweet smell of cigarettes that surrounded his mother and her long, dark hair. With Cate lurking around, he reverses and reverts to old habits from his young and faraway past.  He's anxious, agitated, and paranoid.  He once had a well known habit that included him ripping out his eyebrows, an action that's now returned.  The oddest thing of all is that, when he's overcome by extreme emotion, his hands go numb and he loses all feeling and function in them.  Cate's creeping closer, menacing and cold.  What does she mean to do, and why do all of these things keep happening to Jamie?  Will he ever finds the answers that will finally put to rest the questions driving him, pushing him around, trying to escape, or will he be doomed to a life of hidden truths, truths that Cate's not supposed to tell?

I love psychological thrillers, and this is such an excellent reason why I do.  Kuehn writes a story that takes you through time with a constant swing from Jamie's present to his past and back again, time and time again throughout the entirety of her novel.  Jamie's life is so damaged, a broken story that is so heart wrenching and initially shattered to pieces.  The issues surrounding his hands and their numbness is a very intriguing part of the book.  No doctor has been able to figure out the reason behind it or what disease it could be attached to.  His diagnosis falls flat of everything they know or can even understand.  However, I found it very strange that Cate knew what diagnosis he should be given or at least was familiar with it.

Cate and Jamie's relationship is truly unique and such an interesting aspect in Complicit to see unfold.  The two by themselves are unique alone.  Whenever Cate calls Jamie, she's nice to her little brother one minute and then suddenly enraged towards him the next.  Her past, which I won't spoil here, is unlike any other I've read about.  She's a true enigma.  Jamie himself is interested in the subject of fate and all that it means.  Even though this is interesting, I felt that it could have been elaborated on more in the book.  It seemed almost a slight background fact that could have been more. Both characters have a mental instability that will leave you wanting more and more from them.

This story was beautifully written from Jamie's very own point of view.  His story was powerfully explored and supported by his strong presence.  Whenever he was upset, I found myself upset as well.  When he was frustrated at Cate, I was frustrated with Cate to the point where I wanted to throw something.  Jamie's the character that's fun to see inside of, a person whose world is so different from your own that you can't help but want to know more.  Every chapter was relatively short.  This added to the initial suspense of the novel.  I was able to read this book within the capacity of two days, and that's not because it was only 250 pages.  It's because I was so invested in the story that I never wanted to put it down.

I'm sure that many people will be able to unravel the mystery surrounding Cate and Jamie's life before it is revealed at the end of Complicit.  However, I found the ending just as great despite this.  Everything was revealed and laid out at just the right moment.  I must say that, even though I knew how some of the story had to end, I didn't expect the conclusion to play out like it did.  At the end I myself was left broken and full of sorrow.  Kuehn wrote with an insanity and complexity, so much so that I was frozen at the end.  Rereading the last chapter over and over again.  My wheels are still turning from the aftereffect of this book.  I don't know how to get over it.

There are some dreams you can't wake up from.

These are called nightmares.
-Jamie Henry

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