Friday, March 2, 2012

Don't Stop Now (fiction) - road trip, kidnapping, more than best friends?

The morning after graduation!
A whole summer of freedom before college...
Until Lillian gets Penny's whispered message - "I did it."

Why does Lillian feel so certain that Penny has set up her own kidnapping? Anyone normal would just run away from that jerk sometime-boyfriend Gavin or her crazy family (Penny's mom buys everything from TV home shopping shows, even their food).

Lillian and Josh have the perfect friendship, so he knows that she must try to find Penny, even if it means going all the way from Chicago to the Pacific. Only clue they have - some guy Penny met on her only vacation lives in Portland. Josh's old Chevy doesn't have air-conditioning, but he does have his dad's credit card for a few more weeks, so off they go.

From the Cheese Castle in Wisconsin to the Corn Palace in South Dakota and beyond... Josh and Lil see every weird roadside attraction they can find. But will Josh ever see how much Lillian loves him, really loves him, before she leaves for college and he wanders the world to create the perfect rock band?

Book info: Don't Stop Now / Julie Halpern. Feiwel & Friends, 2011. [author's website] [author's blog] [publisher site] [book trailer]

My Recommendation: That odd voicemail from Penny – has she been kidnapped? And she called Lillian instead of her overbearing boyfriend… maybe it’s up to Lillian and her best pal Josh to make a cross-country road trip to find the quiet teen.

Lillian wasn’t Penny’s best friend during senior year, she was her only friend. Her boyfriend Gavin says they shouldn’t be all lovey-dovey during school, so Penny respects that (more than he respects her after school hours). Lillian and Josh know that she met a nice guy from Portland when her family went on vacation – maybe Penny sneaked off to see him or maybe not.

Laid-back summer plans out the window, Josh and Lillian jump into his old van and head toward Portland. Determined to visit unusual places during their last trip together before college, the friends amass t-shirts and strange photos along the way. Lots of time to think, out in the wide-open spaces of the plains – Lillian wonders why Josh has never figured out that she loves him as more than a friend.

Emerging from the Badlands, Lillian’s phone is filled with missed calls from the FBI about Penny’s disappearance! What has that pathetic girl gotten herself into? Did she fake her kidnapping or was it real? How will Lillian and Josh find her in Portland? How will Lillian let Josh know her true feelings before they go their separate ways to start college?

A quirky road trip, a beautiful friendship, and a quest combine to give more answers than Lillian and Josh knew they were seeking. (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy courtesy of the publisher.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Book of Time (fiction) - time travel, conspiracy, danger

Time traveling... can anyone who finds the stone statue do it?
Will any coin in any sun-ray work?
Which way - and when - has Sam's father gone?

Happy Leap Day as we leap through time and history with Sam on this World Wednesday.

Worrying about an upcoming judo tournament and the neighborhood bully should be enough for Sam to cope with in his small Canadian hometown. But his father has slipped into deep depression following the car wreck that killed Sam's mom and has somehow vanished from his locked-tight bookshop!

Sam has no time to warn his cousin Lucy that he's found a clue to his father's trail and no way to know that it will send him hurtling through time!

First in a trilogy with many twists and turns, as Sam finds himself in places historic and obscure during his attempts to control his travels through time and find his father.

Book info: The Book of Time / Guillaume Prevost, translated by William Rodarmor. (Book of Time trilogy #1). Arthur A. Levine Books, 2007 [author interview] [publisher site]

My Recommendation: Sam’s dad became more and more distracted after Mom’s death, but now he’s disappeared entirely! Searching for clues in Dad’s antique bookshop in Sainte-Mary, Sam uncovers a secret room in the basement and an ancient stone statue.

Hmm… a stone carved with slots in each sun-ray and a slot-sized old coin nearby. Just put that coin in that slot, and – whoosh - Sam is transported from the basement! But where?

The Canadian teen finds himself at the monastery of Iona in medieval Ireland! The monks are preparing for an attack by marauders intent on stealing their treasures. Somehow Sam can understand their ancient Celtic dialect, but will he be able to save their priceless books and relics?

Fitting another coin into the stone statue where he landed takes Sam to the French battlefields of World War I, then into an Egyptian pyramid during its construction! Meeting Ahmosis, son of Setni, gives him hope of returning home, as the young man tells Sam that his father was also a time-traveler and had discovered some rules about the way that the stone statues and coins work.

But can Setni’s advice help Sam find his father, whenever or wherever he is? What about getting home to his grandparents and cousin? Just how many more stone statues are scattered around the world, anyway?

Sam’s adventures continue in The Gate of Days (book 2) and The Circle of Gold (book 3), with Rodarmor skillfully translating all three thrilling books of the Prevost trilogy. (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy courtesy of the publisher.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Always a Witch (fiction) - Time travel, magic battle, prophecy

Face her sister's wrath or buy the world's most unflattering bridesmaid dress?
Stay here to be with true love Gabriel or travel back in time to save the world?
Why doesn't Tam ever have any easy choices?

As the first book in MacCullough's duet ended, high school senior Tamsin Greene learned that she does indeed have a witch Talent and is one of the few skilled at time Travel. Oh, and that somehow she is now keeper of the Domani, the magical object that keeps the malign Knight family of witches under control.

No wonder Alistair Knight goes back in time to help his ancestors keep the Greene family from creating the Domani... no wonder Tamsin time Travels to stop him.

Twisted witch souls, lust for power, a big magical battle - be sure to read Once a Witch (book 1 - review) before you race through the conclusion of this exciting duet.

Book info: Always a Witch / Carolyn MacCullough. Clarion HMH, 2011. [author's website] [publisher site]

My Recommendation: Tamsin can’t let evil Alistair Knight go back in time to wipe out her family! Yes, she knows that time Traveling is dangerous, but the fate of the Greenes – and of all unWitch humanity - hangs in the balance.

Few can Travel, and no one else can repel another witch’s Talent or take it away - finding her magic Talent late is better than never, Tam decides, even if she doesn’t want to be “most powerful of them all,” as her grandmother reads the prophecy from the past and future pages of the Greene family book.

Clues indicate that Alistair intends to contact his 19th century relatives with information they could use to ambush the Greenes and prevent them from creating the Domani which controls the powers that witches have over mere humans. So Tamsin decides to get into the Knight household before he can arrive in 1887. Surely Gabriel will be able to draw her back into the present before her sister Rowena’s wedding next weekend…

Posing as a lady’s maid, Tam finds that more than just modern conveniences are lacking in the huge house. The matriarch, La Spider, is using highly unconventional means to retain her youthful appearance and to control her grown son and daughter. And the son is experimenting with ways to use humans, such a bother when they are used up…

Blood and a dungeon, an uncanny stone statue, a stealthy war of magic power that bustling New York City cannot even see – will Alistair succeed in giving Liam Knight the key to defeating the Greenes? Can Tamsin stop the Knight family without stranding herself in the past? Why are the pages of her grandmother’s prophecy book blank past the day Tam left for 1887?

The prophecy heard in Once a Witch (review) echoes over and over through the closing book of the duet, as Tamsin strives to do what’s best for her family without destroying the world. One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.