Friday, January 18, 2013

Moonglass, by Jessi Kirby (fiction) - seaside mystery, running to forget

book cover of Moonglass by Jessi Kirby published by Simon Schuster
A  moonglass pendant,
Some childhood memories,
Innumerable questions -
All that Anna has left of her mother.

Tumbled roughly in sand and waves for countless months and years, seaglass goes from sharp shards to a smooth and frosted beauty. Anna's mom always called it "moonglass" as she found the best pieces while walking the beach during a full moon.

Losing her mother as a toddler, staying away from the seaside town where Mom grew up, returning at last with her father - maybe the tossing and tumbling of her life will finally stop for Anna, maybe she'll find out why her mom died, maybe she'll finally stop running away from memories and find herself.

This is the paperback cover to look for at the independent bookstore; your local library may have the darker blue hardback edition.

What do you search for when you walk along the beach?

Book info: Moonglass / Jessi Kirby. Simon & Schuster, hardcover 2011, paperback 2012. [author's website] [publisher site]

My Recommendation: Mom just walked away from her, walked away from her toddler daughter waiting on the beach, walked into the waves and never came back out.

When Dad’s job takes them back to the beachside town where her parents met and fell in love, Anna thinks that the years following her mother’s death might not keep unhappy secrets buried deep enough, so she keeps her distance from Dad, from people at her new high school, from the shore lifeguards.

Running helps Anna meditate away (well, ignore) her problems and worries, so she tries out for the cross-country team, cheered on by her new sorta-ditzy friend Ashley who truly does think that retail therapy and meditation can fix anything. Having to move in the middle of high school stinks… but being able to hear the waves every night, the same ocean that her mom listened to growing up, that counts as a small plus.

Dad has strictly warned Anna away from the beach lifeguards who work for him at the state park – after all, he was a lifeguard with quite a reputation here at this same park as a teen, where he met her mom, where they lived as newlyweds.

But Tyler isn’t the crazy lifeguard, like Dad was, and he helps Anna explore some of the old cottages left vacant when the seashore became a state park. Maybe some clues about Mom can be found in the neighbors’ left-behind bits and pieces…

Why won’t Dad tell her more about Mom and their past?
Can Anna reconcile what she thought she knew about her mother with what people in her mom’s hometown are remembering?
Why would Mom just walk away, under the moonlight, into the sea?
  (One of 6,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Fish in the Sky, by Fridrik Erlings (fiction) - everything changes at age 13?

book cover of Fish in the Sky by Fridrik Erlings published by Candlewick
Math on Monday mornings,
Bullies in the gym shower,
Long-legged girls who ignore him...

Why would 13-year-old Josh want to be at school when he could be nestled into an almost-cave on the rocky seashore, wondering when his dad will come back again from his cargo ship voyages, when his strange cousin will move out, when anything in his life will make sense?

As his own translator from the Icelandic, Erlings captures this teen boy's voice and ever-circling worries perfectly. Listen to the first three minutes of the novel here, as Josh wakes up on his thirteenth birthday and finds his long-traveling father's gift.

Another great book from Candlewick Press to pick up at your local library or independent bookstore.

What would you do with a stuffed falcon, staring at you from its tree branch perch those black eyes?

Book info: Fish in the Sky / Fridrik Erlings; translated from Icelandic by the author. Candlewick Press, 2012. [about the author] [publisher site]

My Recommendation: A stuffed falcon? That’s what Dad sent Josh from the ocean freighter for his 13th birthday? Yet another thing that’s not understandable in his universe, like why the girls allow themselves to be chased at recess or how no one stands up to the bullies who throw underwear in the showers after PE or why Mom lets his 17-year-old girl cousin move in with them.

She’s in trouble back home, this Trudy, and Josh is sure that it won’t be better at his house with her here. Mom has transformed his huge walk-in closet into Trudy’s room, so this girl who’s practically a stranger has to walk through his room to get anywhere!

School is even worse than being home: the agony of morning math with the headmaster, the giggling girls who send knowing looks but never walk with him during break time, the torture of PE class and the mean locker-room monitor and the bullies who pick on everyone different than them.

Josh decides that he’s learned enough for now and forges a series of excuse notes to stay away from seventh grade; if Mom weren’t so busy with two jobs, she’d do it, right?

How will Josh and Peter work on their film about falcons with Trudy barging in all the time? And a growing guy needs his sleep; doesn’t that girl ever turn down her music? Wait, it’s too quiet in Trudy’s space – has she snuck out after promising mom that she’d behave? Dad’s calling from shore – why isn’t he on the cargo ships, like always?

The confusion of becoming a teen and trying to understand other people wanders through Josh’s days and dreams in this coming-of-age novel, translated from the Icelandic by the author. (One of 6,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Adaptation, by Malinda Lo (fiction) - bird disasters, brain waves, conspiracy, love and mystery

book cover of Adaptation by Malinda Lo published by Little Brown
All flights grounded due to bird accidents.
Panic, chaos, cellphone systems overloaded.
Desert car crash, coma, 27 days lost...

Lucky their flight was delayed, but their headlong car trip from Phoenix to San Francisco lands Reese and David in a super-secret hospital near Area 51- and it gets weirder.

Extraterrestrials, conspiracy, visions that Reese can't explain and can't erase, comfort in Amber's arms, what is going on??

As authors often do, Lo wrote Adaptation  while listening to playlists of songs that evoked different characters and scenes; listen to her 12 favorites here and read her reasons for selecting each one.

So, aliens among us or not??

Book info: Adaptation / Malinda Lo. Little Brown, 2012. [author's website] [publisher site] [book trailer]

My Recommendation: All flights cancelled due to multiple plane crashes with birds? After her dismal performance at the national tournament, now her debate partner David will be stuck with Reese even longer, as they drive from Phoenix to San Francisco – and it all goes crazy.

Speeding across the Nevada desert near Area 51, their rental car flips when a bird flies into it, and the teens wake up 27 days later in a secret military hospital. Confidentiality statements signed, they’re taken home to their very anxious parents, and Reese’s dreams (or nightmares) begin.

She sees doctors from the secret hospital in town – or does she? David doesn’t call her anymore – did he ever realize that Reese had a crush on him? These dreams of dripping yellow, of a red here, a red there – after-effects of the concussion?

Meeting Amber was a welcome change, with her punky pink hair and her see-it-all attitude for the city she’s visiting while she apartment-sits for her uncle. Reese is a bit mystified that Amber is attracted to such an average person as herself, but relishes the attention and affection.

Her best friend Julian helps Reese paint her bedroom to match the glossy reds and yellows of her dream-nightmare-dream, asks her more about Amber than she really knows, and answers the call for help when David finally contacts her to discuss his dreams, the same dreams, the same doctors seen where they shouldn’t be.

How could her scars heal so quickly?
Is Amber more than she seems? Has their relationship gone too far, too fast?
Why are those doctors following Reese and David?

The city is different without bird song, without any birds anywhere…   
(One of 6,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.