Friday, November 4, 2011

LIttle Women and Me (fiction)

Fun Friday with a blast into the past, as a middle-school girl is launched back into the pages of Little Women - no cellphone, no jeans, no kidding!

It seems like the world of Little Women is so much simpler than modern life, but Emily finds that even in 1861, human nature keeps things interesting. And the personalities of those March girls!

So, can Emily change the parts she dislikes about her favorite book? Will her actions as "the middle March" fix it or spoil it?

You're sure to find the original Little Women at your local library or indie bookseller, but if you'd like to read Emily's favorite online -free!- in a variety of formats, visit Project Gutenburg here.

Book info: Little Women and Me / Lauren Baratz-Logsted. Bloomsbury, 2011. [author's website] [publisher site]

Recommendation: Emily jumps into the assignment to change something in a classic novel – she can’t change her real-life family, can she? Being a middle sister is just so annoying…

Back in the pages of her favorite book, Little Women, Emily tries to decide on just one thing to change: Prevent sweet Beth from dying? Keep Papa out of the Civil War fighting? Have boy-next-door Laurence marry Jo instead of silly Amy?

Suddenly she is whirled into the book itself – as middle March sister Emily!! What a different world - life for 13 year-old girls in 1861 means corsets and needlework, not jeans and text messages.

As she lives through the events chronicled in the novel’s pages, Emily tries to fit into the story without giving herself away as a time-traveler. School isn’t mandatory for girls? Hooray! Reading aloud to grumpy, demanding Aunt March? Yikes! Long evenings at home with sewing instead of the internet? Urrr…

Key events in the story are just around the corner – can Emily change things enough to keep Beth alive or make Laurie realize that he loves his best friend Jo instead of her sister Amy? And what will happen to Emily when the last page of the book is turned?

Whether reading this before or after Little Women itself, readers will see 19th century life and Alcott’s classic tale in a deeper way through Emily’s humorous adventures and misadventures. (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy courtesy of the publisher.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Icefall (fiction)

As the glacier above the wooden fortress creaks and groans...
As the fjord begins to ice over, with no word from home...
As the royal children and their guardians realize that treachery is locked into their hiding place with them...

Our world Wednesday book takes us to the far North and far, far back in time, when the people who would become the Vikings battle winter's fiercest blasts sent by the gods, as well as attacks from mere mortals.

Singing odes of gods and kings, reshaping history to suit the ears of the victors, skalds tell countless stories from memory. Is it Solveig's destiny to walk the storytellers' path, instead of being a dutiful daughter to the king?

Another wonderful, unusual tale from Matthew J. Kirby, who brought us The Clockwork Three.

Book info: Icefall / Matthew J. Kirby. Scholastic, 2011. [author's website] [publisher site]

Recommendation: Solveig wonders if winter will trap them in the mountain fort, waiting for word that her father has defeated an attacking king, listening to the glacier creak, worrying, worrying.

The king had sent her, her young brother the crown prince, and her older sister Asa away from the battle for their safety. When his best warriors arrive to protect them in the hidden fortress, Solveig knows that the berserkers would rather be fighting alongside her father instead of guarding them as the fjord ices over.

As the cold nights grow longer, the king’s storyteller gives them tales of the gods and of great battles. The skald finds that Solveig has an ear for story and a memory for detail – would she like to learn the storytelling arts? Finally, something worthwhile for this middle child – not pretty enough to marry off to forge an alliance, not a boy to be a warrior-prince.

A sudden outbreak of illness in the fort – a curse? Poison? The plague? Secrets told, promises broken, tempers flaring among the restless warriors. Will their father triumph over the invader who tried to steal Asa as his bride instead of negotiating? Will young prince Harald survive the winter? Will any of them?

A story from the days when storytellers kept history and hope alive through their ballads and odes, Icefall brings readers to the glacier’s edge, watching with Solveig over the stormy sea, hoping that the sails in the distance bring news of victory instead of danger. (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy courtesy of the publisher.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

After the Kiss, by Terra Elan McVoy (fiction) - one kiss, one photo, several broken hearts

Modern technology - friend or foe?
Starting over again - easy or hard?
Broken trust - mend or abandon?

A novel in verse with two voices, two viewpoints, and countless ripples of intersecting lives and repercussions....

Book info: After the Kiss / Terra Elan McVoy. Simon Pulse, 2010. [author's site] [publisher site]

Recommendation: Starting her senior year in a new city, Camille kisses a cute boy just once, starting a painful chain of events as a cellphone photo of “The Kiss” gets back to his girlfriend, Becca.

Camille journals her longing to be with her boyfriend back in Chicago (her dad’s job makes them move so often) or with her best friend in San Francisco instead of being on the fringes of this group of lifelong friends who hang out at the lake house on weekends, savoring one last school year together. At least the puppies at the animal shelter in Atlanta accept her and love her.

Becca’s poems reflect her world – her adoration of haiku-writing baseball catcher Alec, her shock at causing a fender-bender accident and having to get a coffeehouse job to pay the repair bills, and her helplessness after seeing the photo of “The Kiss.”

Camille does her writing after school in Becca’s coffeehouse, but neither one knows the identity of the other until one heartstopping afternoon. Can Becca’s future include Alec? Is happiness waiting for Camille in Chicago?

Alternating chapters of poetry and journal entries look for answers on how life can go on when plans don’t go according to plan. (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy courtesy of the publisher.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Morpheus Road: The Light (fiction)

Happy Hallowe'en on this Mysterious Monday...

A monstrous creation becomes real.
The created stalks its creator with malign intent.
[cue eerie, spooky music and more than a few nightmares]

The graphic novel character that Marshall invented visits him in his dreams, then in the dark corners of night, and then...his best friend Cooper disappears and is presumed dead. Marsh knows that Coop's not dead - ghosts just don't lie about such things.

This is the first book in D.J. MacHale's frightening Morpheus Road trilogy. Marshall's adventures (and nightmares) continue in The Black (book 2) and The Blood (book 3) - find all three at your neighborhood library or independent bookstore. And be sure to have a flashlight near your bed at night - who knows when Gravedigger might visit your dreams?

Book info: Morpheus Road: The Light / D.J. MacHale. Aladdin, 2010. [author's website] [publisher site] [book trailer]

Recommendation: Graphic novel fan Marsh creates “Gravedigger”– long black coat, pickaxe over his shoulder, grinning white skull. Drawing helps him forget just a little how his photographer mother died 2 years ago, trapped in the ancient temple she’d just captured on film. Her assistant brought back her photos and this golden glass ball covered in weird designs, but couldn’t bring her back.

Sketches packed away as school ends, Marsh looks forward to summer with his wild friend Cooper. But Coop has done one crazy thing too many, and his parents take him up to their old lakehouse – no cell phone, no computer, lots of time to get his act together.

When Marsh’s dad is out of town, eerie things start happening – a breeze that traces patterns in the powder on the counter when no windows are open, a gravelly voice on the phone that says “You must journey along the Morpheus Road,” Gravedigger luring him to the deserted gym with blood-covered walls…

Gravedigger is just a character from his own imagination, right? But that bony hand on Marsh’s shoulder felt too real, and Gravedigger keeps showing up, talking about the Morpheus Road.

Coop disappears from the lakehouse, so Marsh and Coop’s sister head up there to help search. When Sydney starts seeing Gravedigger too, then maybe Marsh isn’t just imagining this, and they all might wind up dead! 352 pages for those who love to be frightened... (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy courtesy of the publisher.