March 2008


 

Daniel’s doesn’t feel in control of his life.  He is a senior in high school and seems to have everything going for him.  He just received word from Cornell that he has been accepted and everyone is excited – except him.  Daniel knows he doesn’t deserve the early acceptance into Cornell.  He feels like a cheater. 

Daniels parents found a doctor that agreed to diagnose Daniel as ADHD which allowed him more time for his SATs.  He has never felt comfortable with this decision, but his parents insist he deserves his spot at Cornell despite how he got it.  With his feelings unsettled about his future, he begins to notice a group of kids that are on the fringe of school society.  The outcasts.

Misty and twin brother Marc are of mixed race in Birmingham, AL where thoughts of the civil rights movements are still fresh on peoples’ minds.  They are frequently referred to as “stray” or “mutt” by their peers and struggle to maintain the motivation to attend school.  Misty and Marc, together with their friends Val and Eric, begin to visit an abandoned furnace and discover a wild mushrooms growing in the dank and dark building.   They decide to eat the mushrooms hoping for a wild ride.  They discover animalistic instincts they didn’t know they had after ingesting the mushrooms and shift into wolves, leaving behind their humanity.   At first, this transformation is short, but as they continue to make the transformation their ability to stay in wolf form gets longer and longer.

Daniel and Misty begin to form a relationship.  Daniel just wants an out from his pre-determined life.  Misty is looking to the future.  She invites him to join the pack and sets Daniel’s life on a very different path.

While this book isn’t a MUST read, it is enjoyable and a unique concept for a werewolf story.  The language is rough (sometimes crude) and there are many sexual situations between various couples.  This is definately not a book for the typical middle school reader.

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Wanderer has just arrived on Earth and been implanted into her new host.  She has lived on seven worlds before coming here.  She is arriving toward the end of the alien invasion when very few humans remain.  The aliens are known as “souls” and are a peace loving type that don’t know of violence or lying.

Very few humans remain on Earth.  When the remaining humans are discovered, they are captured by Seekers – the closest thing to a police force the “souls” have.  Once captured, they are prepared for implantation where a small cut is placed at the base of the skull and the “soul” is put in the body.  The “soul” connects to the body and takes control.  The first experience the “soul” has is the receiving of the host body’s memories.  Typically, the host recedes and leaves the “soul” alone to continue life as usual.  For Wanderer, this didn’t happen.

Since the only humans left are ones that are rebels, placing a new “soul” into an adult has become risky.  The rebels seem to resist the implantation since they know what is happening.  The Wanderer was granted this request because of her experience on so many other worlds and has proven herself as a strong and brave “soul.”  Melanie is the name of Wanderer’s host and Melanie doesn’t go away quietly.

Melanie remains active and talks to Wanderer all the time.  Melanie bombards Wanderer with her memories of life so much so that Wanderer feels the same feelings that Melanie did when she had control over her own body.  Melanie hides the memories that Wanderer needs though.  A Seeker has been assigned to Wanderer in order to get information about the human rebels that worked with Melanie.  Melanie is strong enough to block those memories from her. 

Eventually, in a weakened state, Melanie allows something to slip through the wall she has constructed to keep Wanderer away from the people she loves.  She shows her memories of Jared, the man Melanie desperately loves, and Jamie, her younger brother.  These memories overwhelm Wanderer and she physically aches for Jared and Jamie herself.  Melanie knows where they might have gone into hiding since she was captured.  She convinces Wanderer to go search for them and when the chance presents itself she slips away from the Seeker and sets off to find the people THEY love.

When Wanderer finally stumbles upon the rebels she is both elated and terrified.  She is so relieved to know that Jared and Jamie are both alive and well, but at the same time, is frightened for her own life.  Wanderer endures weeks of isolation and deprivation once in custody while the rebels decide what to do with her.  Slowly some people warm up to her and begin to allow her some freedom around the hideout, but she is never alone.  They are afraid she is there to get information to take back to the Seekers and then come back and capture them all.  It takes a very long time for them to see that she has no intention of turning anyone in to the Seekers.

The story is complex.  Not only is there the issue of Melanie loving Jared and the Wanderer loving Jared because of Melanie’s memories; we also have Ian, another member of the rebels.  Ian takes it upon himself to become a permanent fixture in Wanderers life.  He is friend and protector and begins to have feelings for her and her alone (not Melanie since he didn’t know her prior to the invasion).

The story ends on a note of hope.  It is an emotional ride from beginning to end – all 631 pages.  Any science fiction fan will enjoy this story, but I think Stephenie Meyer may have done for science fiction what she did for fantasy when she wrote Twilight.  THE HOST is set in enough of a realistic setting that even people who aren’t sci-fi fans will enjoy this story.  I want to read it again, but I have so much else to read that I can’t right now, but THE HOST is definately on my “to be read again” pile.  I hope Stephenie Meyer writes another novel after she finishes with the Twilight Series.

 

Janie gets sucked into other people’s dreams.  She tries to stop it, but can’t resist the overwhelming pull.  She first noticed it happening when she was eight-years-old.  Janie has witnessed everything from the typical falling dream and standing naked in front of a crowd dream to World War II battle dreams.  Most of the time she is just an observer.  Even if the dreamers ask for her help, she can’t manage to do anything.

Janie’s life has been hindered by this “curse.”  She found out early that sleepovers weren’t good for her.  The close proximity of the other girls caused her to experience their dreams and not get any rest for herself.  It doesn’t have to be nighttime for this to happen though.  Anytime someone around her is asleep – she gets sucked in – at school, on the bus, driving down the road, etc.  When she is in someone else’s dream it looks as if she is having a seizure.  All she knows is that she loses feeling in her limbs and becomes paralized.  The more frightening the dream, the faster the numbness occurs.

Janie has an alcoholic mother, an unknown father, and is extremely poor.  She lives on the “wrong” side of town and has one loyal friend.  She lives in isolation in order to avoid being stuck in someone’s dream. 

A new addition to her life is Cabel.  He lives in her neighborhood and seems to be a loner.  She has several interactions with him throughout the book, but their lives become intertwined when she has to let him know about her problem while they are on a school trip together and she is stuck on a bus for several hours with her napping classmates being sucked into one dream after another the whole way.  Cabel must help her through.  This is a comfort to Janie as well as a new stress.  She grows to like Cabel very much, but when she begins to get sucked into his gruesome dream and hears some particularly damning rumors about him, she questions her feelings for him.

With the help of an unlikely person she meets at the nursing home (and some books from the library), Janie begins to gain a little control over her “curse.”  The reader will be sucked into the dreams with Janie.  Your heart will go out to her and cheer as she makes her way through life given the obstacles she must overcome.  WAKE is a very inventive story and I can’t wait for the sequel.

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Miranda Bloom’s world has been turned upside down.  Her mother, a famous romance author, has decided to move to England in order to research her next book, but isn’t planning on taking Miranda.  Instead she has to move into her father’s house and live with her step-mother, Peyton, and her step-sister Hannah – neither of which want her around EVER.

Miranda attends Notting Hill Independent School for Gifted Children a.k.a Geek High.  She is the most gifted math student at school and is known as The Human Calculator – which she hates because being a Human Calculator is pretty useless since everyone has regular calculators. 

Miranda isn’t popular at Geek High.  She has two loyal friends, Charlie and Finn.  Charlie is a very talented artist and Finn is brilliant with computers.  In fact, to shake things up this year, Finn has created a tell-all website at geekhigh.com.  When word gets around about the website and a story is posted about the queen bee of the school the principal accuses Miranda of being the creator of the website.  She assures the principal she doesn’t have anything to do with it, but refuses to reveal the author. For punishment she is forced to plan the Snowflake Gala – an event that isn’t very popular with the students.

On top of dealing with living in a house where she is considered a guest and being forced to plan the Snowflake she has to deal with the guy she’s been crushing on for two years fall for Hannah.  Her principal also blackmails her into joining the competitive math team again even though she wants to be on the high school’s literary magazine instead.

Throughout all the stress of the semester, Miranda manages to learn a lot about herself while at the same time pulling off a wonderful Snowflake Gala.  Her relationship with her father drastically improves and she and Hannah even form some kind of bond.  Even though the story is a bit predictable, Miranda is an enjoyable character that you’ll want to see win in the end.  You’ll be happy to know that GEEK ABROAD, the sequel will be available May of 2008.

I admit I won’t be reading every day during Spring Break.  I’ll be going to visit my parents and getting an eye exam one day. (Be sure to stop by the library the Monday we come back from Spring Break to check out my new glasses!)  I’ll also be going to lunch and a movie with a friend of mine.  I’ll be painting a little at my house too.  BUT—-other than that, I plan to sleep, sleep, sleep and read, read, read.  This is my reading plan:

Wake by Lisa McMann

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

A Novel

Prey by Lurlene McDaniel

Prey

Unleashed by Kristopher Reisz

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Now, my reading list may totally change depending on the mood I’m in when it comes time to make the decision, but at least I have a plan.

What is your plan?  Leave some comments and tell me what you plan to read.

Friday, March 7th, 2008 over 85 people showed up at the Whittier Library to read!  From 7 – 11 PM. 

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Here is just one example of how packed we were in the library.  Pizza, chips, soda, water, and candy filled the plates of everyone while they curled up in their special place to read. Everyone signed in with the page number they were starting on when they arrived and before they left, they listed the page number they were on at the end of the evening.  As a group, we read over 3,500 pages during the evening.For those of you that missed this Read-A-Thon, don’t worry.  We’ll have another one next Fall.  

 Wuthering High

Miranda Tate is heading back to Bard Academy after at a brutal summer working for her step-mother at her boutique, In The Pink, which sells everything imaginable that is pink.  Miranda refers to it as In The Puke and spends most of her time there sitting at the cash register completing her required summer reading of Moby Dick.  Miranda is excited about returning to school until she finds out that her sister, Lindsay, is going to be joining her there after running their father’s new Land Rover through the front of In The Pink.

Once on campus, Miranda reunites with her friends Blade, Samir, Hana, and of course Heathcliff.  She is disgusted to see that Lindsay, who is desperate for the approval of anyone popular, has fallen into the clutches of Parker, Bard’s Queen Bee.  Miranda also meets her new dorm monitor, Mrs. P, who happens to be Sylvia Plath and gets off on the wrong foot right away.

Miranda also has to deal with her feelings for Ryan – the boy that broke up with her at the end of the previous school year.  She can’t decide if she still has feelings for him or not, but feels jealous when he continually gives Parker attention and begins to hang around Lindsay.  Mirandra knows she loves Heathcliff but has to keep in mind the rule the school places on them.  They aren’t supposed to have any romantic or physical contact or Bard will send him back to Wuthering Heights.

When Lindsay disappears, like a couple of the other Bard students, Miranda, Samir, Hana, Blade, Heathcliff, Ryan, and Parker all end up entering the forbidden forest to find her.  What they find are pirates roaming the island, one of the faculty members behind all the trouble, and Lindsay causing part of the problems. 

Can Miranda and her crew save the world again and put everything back into balance?  Who does Miranda choose, Ryan or Heathcliff?  To see how Moby Dick plays a part in this Bard Academy novel read MOBY CLIQUE by Cara Lockwood.  While it can be read as a stand alone novel since the author gives background information to catch up the reader, it will be more enjoyable if the other two novels in the series are read first. 

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