Melissa shares this review:
Wait for Me is a novel about a Korean girl caught up in her mother’s expectations of success. Mina has no hope of achieving all that her mother desires for her. But instead of living with her mother’s angry, resentful disappointment, Mina tells lie upon lie to create the image her mother expects. It was easy to start the lies, easy to make her mother believe them, once she got the help of Jonathon Kim, the only son of the mother’s longtime friend.
Mina has a plan, based on more lies, for how she will escape from her mother once she graduates from high school. Once she is on her own, she’ll tell her mother the truth.
Mina has a younger sister, Suna, who has a hearing disability. Sometimes Suna takes out her hearing aid so she can find quiet and comfort in her own world. Suna’s observations interspersed with Mina’s chapters give another perspective to events during that hot summer before Mina’s senior year of high school, the summer Mina meets Ysrael and her perspectives change.
Wait for Me will appeal to anyone interested in other cultures, as well as anyone who has felt overwhelmed by someone else’s expectations. This is also a love story, and a story about sisters, and a story about growing up.
The book is beautifully written by An Na, who won a Printz Award for her first novel, A Step from Heaven. The audiobook is read by Kim Nai Guest. She does an excellent job in bringing Mina and Suna to life.
Check the WRL catalog for Wait for Me
Check the WRL catalog for the audiobook Wait for Me
Andrew shares this review:
One of my colleagues and I were looking over a cart of books when I pulled this from the shelf. “Sounds too magical-realist,” she said doubtfully. I was still intrigued by the title, and decided to give it a few pages. I took it home and immediately plunged into Clay Jannon’s world, which Robin Sloan writes with anything but magical realism.
Clay’s career is stuck in neutral, a bad place to be in cutting-edge San Francisco’s Web-design world. Along about the time the last of his savings is headed to pay the rent, Clay is desperate enough to take anything. A sign in the window of a dim little shop (overshadowed by the neon of the strip club next door) advertises “Help Wanted,” and Clay enters Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.
If the store is surviving on actual, you know, book sales, Clay can’t tell it. Working the overnight shift, he rarely has any customers except a girl from the club dropping in for the latest bestseller, which Mr. Penumbra doesn’t stock. What he has, in his queerly shaped store, are tall shelves packed with volumes written in languages and letters Clay can’t decipher. Odd people sometimes duck in to pick up select volumes and duck back out after putting them on their special accounts.
With nothing much to do overnight, Clay starts building a virtual copy of the Bookstore to aid him in finding stuff from the collection. Then he starts adding data from past circulations and finds a pattern that amazes him and astonishes Mr. Penumbra. His discovery leads to another, and another, and the whole chain of discoveries leads Clay right back to the place he really started.
Sloan does a great job with the characters, from the friends who support and encourage Clay to the avuncular Mr. Penumbra. The characters play off one another, co-operating and offering their skills as Clay carries out his quest. But it’s the idea behind the story that really intrigued me—that there’s an exciting new frontier at the intersection of print and technology, and that advocates of both need to remember it. And even if writing about books on a blog is only building a little cabin on the edge of that frontier, well, that’s enough for me right now.
Check the WRL catalog for Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
Melissa shares this review:
Charlie Bucktin is a loner. He’s a smart, bookish boy who doesn’t have many friends in his small Australian hometown in the 1960s. He’s working his way through his father’s library of classics when a knock sounds on his bedroom window. Charlie is surprised to find Jasper Jones, the town’s “bad boy,” asking him to slip away into the night and lend him a hand.
The story unravels a mystery and the events lead to Charlie uncovering many adult secrets. The knowledge forces him to grow up quickly in the face of racism, adultery, abuse, and disappointment.
“I would have been free of all this. I would have stayed safe in my room. I might have read a little longer. Then I would have slept like I used to. I would have woken as I normally would have. None the wiser. Much the lighter. I’d never have known Jasper Jones, I’d never have shared his story, I’d never have known this awful brick in my stomach. Misery and melancholy and terror would just be words I knew, like all those gemstones I collected in my suitcase that I never knew a thing about.”
Jasper Jones is a Printz Honor Book. The plot is well-developed and the characters are complex. The mystery is interesting, but it’s Charlie’s personal growth that makes it memorable. There were many passages I wanted to slow down and reread in the book. Observations about how people behave, questions about his actions, doubts about what he thought he could count on. Passages that made me stop and think or just had a unique turn of phrase that made a particularly vivid picture in my head.
I started listening to this as an audiobook and loved the performance by Matt Cowlrick. Cowlrick has a lovely Australian accent that really brought Charlie to life. I was so interested in finding out how the book ended that I also checked out the book so I could finish it without having to drive around and around the block.
Reviewers have listed this as appropriate for ages 12 and up. There is some bad language and appropriately stupid puns. The topics covered are definitely of an adult nature. There’s a lot here to facilitate a good book discussion for both young adults and adults.
Check the WRL catalog for Jasper Jones.
Check the WRL catalog for Jasper Jones in audiobook format.
Jessica shares this review:
“If she sink, she be no witch and shall be drowned. If she float, she do be a witch and must be hanged.”
Fantasy blends with historical fiction and romance in this first novel of “The Tudor Witch Trilogy”. Set in England in 1554 readers are immediately placed in the time of Princess Elizabeth, who has been sent into exile at Woodstock Palace by her half-sister Queen Mary. Political tensions are running high and there is talk of treason. Just months ago young Princess Elizabeth found herself as a prisoner in the Tower of London after being accused of conspiring to overthrow the Queen. As no true evidence can be found she is instead sent faraway to crumbling Woodstock Palace. And so sets the scene for Meg Lytton, the Princess’s newest hand maiden. Meg has a powerful gift, one she must hide from all. She comes from a long line of witches and is very much one herself. But there is no room for witches in Catholic England and should she be revealed she would be hanged. However, Meg soon finds the Princess has an interest in the craft all her own and often calls on Meg and her aunt to help her see into the future and answer the always pressing question, “Will she ever be Queen”? But Meg and her aunt must exercise the most extreme measure of caution as the famed witch hunter Marcus Dent has taken an intense interest in Meg and wishes for her hand in marriage. Things only get worse as Meg learns her own family is conspiring against the Queen and her association with the Princess puts already exiled Elizabeth in further danger. When it seems all is going wrong and there is no one Meg can trust, in walks Spanish priest in training, Alejandro de Castillo and suddenly everything is beginning to look a little better and a whole lot more dangerous…
Check the WRL catalog for Witchstruck
Jennifer D. shares this review:
What Leena expects to be a perfect senior year at boarding school begins to fall apart from the first moment she sets foot back on campus. She’s excited to be living in Frost House with her two best friends, and will have a room to herself until their other friend returns from a semester abroad. Leena can’t wait to be out of the dorm, and moving into Frost House is a special treat because it was repurposed as women’s housing just for her and her roommates. Her excitement is soon dulled, however, by the news that she will be sharing her sanctuary with a roommate after all.
Celeste is eccentric, arty, and attention-seeking. So when she starts to complain about Frost House, Leena doesn’t quite know what to believe. Leena loves living in the old house and feels completely at home. Celeste feels like she is being watched, claims her belongings are being tampered with, and swears it smells like something died in her closet. Could Celeste be making it all up or is there really a presence in the house that Leena can’t sense? Why would Leena feel so comfortable in the house if there was really something wrong? Celeste certainly has a history of being unreliable, but even Leena can’t argue with the strange, if disparate, effect Frost House seems to have on them both.
Frost is not your usual haunted house story, and you may end the story with as many questions as you began. With that said, I enjoyed the layers author Baer built, each one adding more and more depth to the story than the last. Are the events of the story the result of a character’s psychological deterioration, a haunting, or something more mundane?
Check the WRL catalog for Frost.
Lizzy shares this review:
Drew, the voice of the book, is a seventh grade sidekick in training. Drew, aka “The Sensationalist”, goes through middle school while fighting crime. Or at least he would be if his “super” would do anything besides drink in a bar. But besides that, life is awesome for Drew. He also has to deal with his crush on his best friend, Jenna. After getting a kickball to the face a year ago, he finally confessed he likes her. Sadly though, all those plans must go on hold as soon as a super villain escapes from prison. Is the Dealer coming back? Between listening to bad advice and learning right from wrong, Drew carries quite a load on his shoulders. With hilarious characters and great descriptions, Sidekicked is truly an amazing book.
Check the WRL catalog for Sidekicked.
Jan shares this review:
High school junior Dean is starting a normal day in his Colorado suburb, riding his school bus in a future not too different from now, where every child has a minitab that keeps them continuously connected to the Network. Suddenly, strange hail filled with stones and sticks inundates them so terribly that his bus crashes, killing the driver and over half the students. The survivors of the crash are helped into a nearby superstore by the resourceful driver of the nearby elementary school bus. She goes looking for help and eight teenagers are left to look after six small children as the world goes crazy.
From an old fashioned TV they learn that a volcanic eruption in the far away Canary Islands have set off a chain of catastrophes such as the strange hail and earthquakes which have caused the release of chemical weapons. Things are looking very bleak. How will these eight teenagers survive? Will they able to care for the six small children who have unexpectedly become their responsibility?
Monument 14 only covers 12 days, but an amazing amount of action is squeezed into less than two weeks. Like Ashfall (about which I previously posted), Monument 14 starts with a natural disaster that is beyond the control of people, but unlike Ashfall it then delves into the man made disaster of the released chemical weapons. Monument 14 focuses less on the action and more on the psychology of the previously carefree teenagers and the children who are now their responsibility. There are many characters to keep track of, but they are well drawn with some being likable and others distinctly less so. The teenagers already know each other from high school, but travel different social circles. The teenagers who were popular aren’t necessarily the ones best suited to the extremes of their new situation.
Monument 14 suggests that during an apocalyptic event a superstore is a great place to take shelter, as it has everything you might need–food, medicine, bedding, clothing, and camping supplies to start with. In reality, it may be a terrible place because everyone will want the same supplies and you may have to fight for them. In Monument 14, the store has strong, automatic “riot gates” that close and lock the children in. More importantly, it also locks everyone else out, but other people want to get in, adding to the tension and plot twists.
Monument 14 has enough action to keep you on the edge of your seat and enough post-apocalyptic problems and psychology to keep you thinking long after the last page. It ends in a cliffhanger and the story continues in the sequel, Monument 14: Sky on Fire.
Check the WRL catalog for Monument 14.
Check the WRL catalog for Monument 14: Sky on Fire.
Jennifer D. shares this review:
They were only supposed to stay long enough to bury her grandmother. Sarah’s mom had never talked much about her childhood and the visit back to her ancestral home was meant to be brief. Then, plans change, and suddenly they’ll be spending two weeks in Amber House.
When a house has been around as long as Amber House has, it is bound to have a lot of history hiding behind its walls. After all, three hundred years is a long time. Sarah decides to uses this opportunity to explore the estate, and perhaps unearth the treasure of diamonds rumored to be hidden on the grounds. But Sarah soon finds that Amber House hides many more secrets.
Being in Amber House brings out an interesting new ability in Sarah. She begins to see visions, a talent common to the women in her family line. Apparitions of her ancestors linger around every corner – but are they trying to help or harm her?
Check the WRL catalog for Amber House.