Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Wrap-Up List by Steven Arntson

"Sixteen year-old Gabriela has just received a disturbing letter, sent by a Death—an eight-foot-tall shimmering creature with gills. The letter is short and to the point: Next Wednesday her Death, Hercule, will escort her into the afterlife whether she’s ready or not. Gabriela is devastated. Dying is bad, but dying without ever having kissed Sylvester Hale is even worse.

Gabriela isn't the only one in need of a first kiss—three of her friends would love theirs too. She’s determined to put their romantic affairs in order before her time runs out. There is one last hope, though: Gabriela might be able to trick her Death into letting her go...

It’s a week of firsts for best friends, but Gabriela has to play it smart. Otherwise, this week will be her last."

I really wasn't sure what to expect when starting this book--the summary's not great at answering all the questions. I was able to learn more about it when starting: it's set in a world where Deaths are routinely seen among the human population, and they're in charge of taking people away when they die. Only 1% of all deaths are "departures" like Gabriela, where the person is notified beforehand. Okay, so for my actual thoughts. It was a pleasant surprise to find out that the book's not actually all about the first-kiss drama. It's kind of a part of it, but more of the story and plot is focused on working out Hercule's clues about her pardon (her get-out-of-jail-free card, if you will) and about unraveling unanswered questions about her family history. Sure, some relationship stuff's in there too, but it's extremely weak. The general plot's not straightforward at all, either, it takes you on a little ride. An unexpected thumbs up, for surprisingly likable and funny characters and a good storyline. It's at Sitka High.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg

"Chasing Fame.
Chasing Love.
Chasing a Future.

Emme has long lived in her best friend Sophie's shadow. She writes songs, and Sophie sings them. It's always been like this, and feels like it always will be.
Sophie will stop at nothing to be a star. Even if it means using her best friend and picking up a trophy boyfriend, Carter.
Carter is a victim of a particular Hollywood curse: He's a former child star. Now all he wants is a normal life. But being normal is about as hard for him as being famous.
Ethan has his own issues -- a darkness in his head that he just can't shake. He's managed to sabotage every relationship he's even been in. Emme's the only girl he's ever really respected... but he's not sure what to do about that.

Emme, Sophie, Carter, and Ethan are all students at a performing arts high school, where talent is the normal and fame is the goal. But sometimes, being in the spotlight isn't as important as the people you're sharing it with."

I kinda love books like this. I don't know what it is, but it was a likable fast read that I got into really quickly. All the characters (erm, except Sophie) are hugely likable and unique and get you rooting for them pretty much off the bat. It was funny, sweet, and really not that cheesy. I sped right through it and found myself sad when I finished. To anyone even remotely interested in the performing arts, I suggest you should read this. Even if you're not, try it out. You may find yourself convinced. So, for a light, good, book... go get this one at Kettleson!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

"A wonderfully entertaining coming-of-age story, Northanger Abbey is often referred to as Jane Austen’s “Gothic parody.” Decrepit castles, locked rooms, mysterious chests, cryptic notes, and tyrannical fathers give the story an uncanny air, but one with a decidedly satirical twist.

The story’s unlikely heroine is Catherine Morland, a remarkably innocent seventeen-year-old woman from a country parsonage. While spending a few weeks in Bath with a family friend, Catherine meets and falls in love with Henry Tilney, who invites her to visit his family estate, Northanger Abbey. Once there, Catherine, a great reader of Gothic thrillers, lets the shadowy atmosphere of the old mansion fill her mind with terrible suspicions. What is the mystery surrounding the death of Henry’s mother? Is the family concealing a terrible secret within the elegant rooms of the Abbey? Can she trust Henry, or is he part of an evil conspiracy? Catherine finds dreadful portents in the most prosaic events, until Henry persuades her to see the peril in confusing life with art."

Um, so, I don't really know how much of a Jane Austen girl I am. I mean, it was short, so there's that, but it wasn't exactly overly thrilling. I think the only way I could describe the style is by saying that the writing's just like any other book, but elevated to the consistency of syrup. The sentences can literally go on for four or five lines and are a veritable maze of colons, semicolons, and commas. I had to read some stuff three times. And, honestly, the story was pretty normal. I suppose it might have been seen as "thrilling" and "satirical" in her time, but that was bland-ified (I don't even care that that's not a word) over time. And it moved very slowly in the beginning. I was almost two-thirds into the book before Northanger Abbey was even mentioned. So, it was fine. I got through it, and was maybe interested by a couple bits here and there. If you're the kind of person who likes classics, go right ahead. You might enjoy this one; it was really just a normal book that happened to use thicker language. It wasn't completely enjoyable for me, but you never know. It's at Kettleson.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

"It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn't given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen."

This book, for me, lived up to the hype I'd heard about it. The pacing was steady--you couldn't really call it fast-moving--but for some reason it was really compelling and hard to put down. It was simultaneously calming/hypnotizing with the scenes and narratives and also incredibly gripping and nerve-wracking with the plot. I don't know how it managed it, but it was. The intensity increased tenfold as it got near the end, and I was basically riveted. One of the wonderful and terrible things about this book, too, is that it's not predictable. I really didn't know what would happen up until the end. So, yeah, it kinda put me through semi-minor emotional trauma. Maggie Stiefvater has no boundaries. But anyway, my highest recommendations. Seriously, go try it out. You won't be disappointed--a little short of breath and shell-shocked by the end, maybe, but not disappointed. Go forth to Kettleson, SHS, or MEHS! Don't make me come over there...