Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What I Read Wednesday

Slow reading this week because I've been too tired to stay awake very long at night.

The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley
Andrew Brawley lost all of his family in one night, in a horrible accident for which he blames himself. Since then, he's lived in the hospital where his family members breathed their last. He works in the cafeteria during the day and sleeps in an empty wing at night. His truest friend is a comic he created, about a man named Patient F. His enemy is a social worker who he refers to as Death because she always shows up to when people are dying. Drew is drawn into the life of Rusty, a patient who is brought in with severe burns on most of his body, a victim of a hate crime. I loved this book. There were parts of it that seemed almost surreal, but in the end, the author brought it all full circle.

Orphan X (Evan Smoak)
Evan Smoak was a boy taken out of the East Baltimore projects to become a government weapon. He breaks free from the program and uses the skills he learned to help people who are desperately in need of this help. As good as he is at covering his tracks, he isn't perfect and he soon realizes that someone is after him.
This was a good thriller crime novel. It was an easy read that kept me engaged.

What are you reading?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

What I Read Wednesday

Fallout (Crank)
This is the last book in the Crank trilogy. It's told from the POV of three of Kristina's children and basically chronicles the fallout of Kristina's addition and choices through the lives of her children. I didn't like it as much as the other ones, but it still provided an interesting and sad perspective.

We Are the Ants
This book was so engaging. Henry Denton periodically gets abducted by aliens. He never knows when it will happen, and he never knows where or when he will be returned (usually missing some of his clothes). The aliens tell him the world will end on January 29, 2016 (hilariously, I started reading this book on January 28), but Henry has the power to stop it by pressing a red button. Henry, however, isn't sure he wants to, after all, he doesn't know if life is worth living. His boyfriend killed himself and left no reason behind. His brother is a bully and loser who drops out of school and gets his girlfriend pregnant. His beloved Nana has Alzheimer's. His mom is a sad, tired waitress and his dad, well, he's been out of the picture for awhile. In the midst of this, Henry is being bullied by a popular classmate, one who professes his love to Henry behind closed doors.
Most of the book is set in the reality of Henry's life, mixed in with wondering if he should press the button or let the world end how it may fall.

The Whites: A Novel
I started reading this book and then I brought it to school for silent reading time. Then I left it at school and had to stay home with a sick Tommy the next day. Then I managed to leave it at school again, so to say my reading of this book was choppy would be an understatement. However, I still enjoyed it.
Billy Graves is a nightwatch sergeant who keeps in touch with old police friends from the wilder days. Each person has a white, a criminal who got away with murder. Suddenly, the whites start dying and Billy is trying to piece together who is behind it and why, all the while struggling with whether he really cares.
I did struggle to keep track of the many different characters in this book, but that could have been due to my choppy reading. Overall, it was a good detective novel!

Quake (Pulse)
The last book in the Pulse series. I enjoyed this one, it was a good mix of sci-fi and dystopia.

What are you reading?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

What I Read Wednesday

Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist
I was a senior in high school when the WTO protests happened in Seattle. As such, I don't recall much about them, but I do remember going to college and seeing a lot of anti-WTO information at my university. I never much understood it, so I was pretty grateful for this for giving me a chance to learn about something new. The real WTO protests in Seattle were among the largest the US had ever seen and very well organized. The police were overwhelmed, meetings were canceled and antiglobalization became a somewhat understood thing after the battle in Seattle.
This book chronicles that day, from shifting points-of-view. Victor, a 19 year old who ran away from home three years prior intends on selling drugs to protestors to make enough money to leave Seattle forever; however, he quickly learns that these aren't the type of protestors who are interested in drugs. Victor's father also happens to be the police chief of Seattle and we see his perspective, as well as two other police officers and a representative from Sri Lanka, who is hopeful that his meeting with President Clinton will bring good things to his small nation. As the day unfolds, it becomes clear that no one is having the day they imagined. Chief Bishop is unable to handle the crowd peacefully and with each decision he makes, he is pushed closer and closer to discovering his son amongst the protestors.
I was enthralled by this book. It was real and emotional and I was absolutely on edge through most of it.

American Housewife: Stories
This book was delightfully twisted. The housewives in this story are certainly not Stepford Wives. They are vengeful, crazed, murderous, reality stars and more. I loved each short story. They were just macabre enough to enjoy and find darkly humorous. Loved the premise and the different viewpoints offered within these stories.

Tremor (Pulse)
This is the second book in the Pulse series which sets forth a dystopian world in which one twisted man has given people powers that involve telekinesis, among other things. As always, these powers are not always used for good and it becomes a battle between two opposing sides. I've been trading these with my students and I am looking forward to reading the conclusion!

Glass (Crank Trilogy)
This is the second book in the Crank trilogy. I think it was very difficult to read, but also so important--especially as someone who lives in a state with a ridiculous meth problem. While I can't pretend to understand why anyone would want to do meth, this book has helped me understand the unbelievable pull meth has on its users--done in part by presenting the drug almost as a character. This book picks up a year after the last, where Kristina is now raising a mostly healthy son. He cries a little more than she thinks he should, but otherwise, he seems unaffected by her drug use. Kristina, unfortunately, is still affected and is constantly fighting the pull of meth--a battle she loses. Kristina is not likable at all. As a mom, it's hard to watch her choose drugs and men over her son, but it's realistic. Although there are some heavy adult themes in here, I still think this is a worthwhile book for teens.

What are you reading?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

What I Read Wednesday

I am slowly cranking through books on this mostly tired back to work schedule of mine. Is it summer yet?

The Wrath and the Dawn
This is based on A Thousand and One Nights, which is not something I'm inherently familiar with, so I did a brief scan of the synopsis before reading this. I feel like it deepened my appreciation for this book. Khalid, the 18 year old boy king, is a harsh and unforgiving ruler. As daybreaks, his new bride is found strangled to death and by night, he has a new bride doomed to a death sentence. This is what makes Shahrzad's offer to marry Khalid so stunning, but Shahrzad has a plan to stay alive and extract revenge on Khalid for killing her best friend. As dawn breaks, Shahrzad's storytelling has so captivating Khalid that she will live to see another day. As time and Shahrzad's stories go on, she discovers that the boy king is not the cruel monster she thought and she finds herself falling in love with him. I loved this, and I can't wait to read the sequel... which my library, sadly, does not yet have!

Crank
The author based this book on her own daughter's drug addiction, so that made it that much more powerful to me. It took me awhile to get into this book because it was written in prose, but I loved the story of Kristina who on a summer visit to her father became Bree, a crank addicted girl who is willing to lose everything she once knew for her addiction. This is, I believe, a great book for teens. It doesn't gloss over the never-ending hold that an addiction will have on you.

What are you reading?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

What I Read Wednesday

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams: Stories
This is a collection of Stephen King short stories that were never officially published in a book, though some of them have been out for awhile. Before each story, he gives a forward and dedicates it to another author. While I'd read some of the stories before, others were unfamiliar. Mostly, it was a collection of macabre--some supernatural, some human. I loved it!

The Infinite Sea: The Second Book of the 5th Wave
The second book in the 5th Wave trilogy. This continues with Cassie Sullivan and her friends, trying to survive an alien race intent on wiping out humanity in various waves. As far as sci-fi dystopia, this is pretty engaging.

What are you reading?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

What I Read Wednesday

I only read one book this week. Back to work exhaustion, plus I'm in the middle of by The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King, which is great.. but really long and has also caused some bad dreams as the title mentions, so I'm taking it slow.

Nod
The premise of the book is that one night, none of the world sleeps--save children and a few adults, about 1 out of 10,000. Everyone brushes it off as maybe a weird fluke or some sort of disturbance in the radio waves until it happens again. And again. Scientists and doctors discuss how long one can reasonably live with no sleep, but by this time, humanity has started to crumble. The non-sleepers mistrust the sleepers. Everyone mistrusts the children. It's ugly and manic and exactly what I feel would happen if I stopped sleeping. The honest thought of this made my skin crawl, the frustration of wanting to sleep but being unable? Night after night? No thanks. I quit.
I felt a little let down by the ending of this book, but I mostly enjoyed it.

What are you reading?

Monday, December 28, 2015

What I Read...in December

Hi! I am a terrible book blogger, huh? I'm reading, just not finding time to wrap it all up. 2016 resolution to get back on track with that. Since we're in the midst of an ice storm and I'm all caught up on cleaning and laundry and my kids are tired of spending time with me, I figured I should get this done now before another Wednesday comes and goes. Anyway, I hope you're looking for books to read because I've got them!

More Happy Than Not
Aaron lives in the projects in the Bronx. He's grappling with his father's suicide (in their bathtub) and how to best balance his girlfriend and his friends. In the midst of this, Aaron begins to develop an attraction to his friend Thomas and this makes him consider whether or not he should get something called a Leteo procedure, which makes you forget painful memories--like your father's suicide and struggling with your sexuality. As the story unravels, it appears that Aaron's life on the surface isn't quite as his life is beneath, something that is slowly unfolded to both Aaron and the readers. This novel grabbed me. I thought it would be more sci-fi because of the Leteo Institute, but it wasn't, not at all. It was real and painful to go through Aaron's journey along with him, to realize that he had more behind him than even he realized.

Once We Were Brothers
Elliot Rosenzweig is a respected man in the city of Chicago. Known for his philanthropic ways, as well as for being a Holocaust survivor, no one questions or doubts that he's anything less than a wonderful man. Until he's attacked at a gala event and accused of being a high-ranking Nazi official, Otto Piatek. Although he denies claims that he lived through the Holocaust in a vastly different way, he also drops charges against Ben Solomon, his attacker--a Holocaust survivor who once lived closely with Piatek and claims he would recognize him anywhere. A friend brings Ben to Catherine Lockhart to defend his case, a case she originally sees as a losing battle, until she the evidence begins to unfold itself.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Simon Spier is struggling with how to reveal that he's gay, plus also... all the normal teenage stuff. Through the means of social media, Simon begins emailing another gay boy at his school, a boy who goes by the moniker Blue. Simon begins to hint pretty strongly at who he is, but Blue doesn't reveal himself as easily. This, of course, causes angst in Simon as he tries to guess Blue's identity, while also trying to figure out how to tell his parents and his friends. I loved this book. Loved it. Simon and his friends were so real, but I think I loved his parents the most. This was just an all-around wonderful read.

The Game of Love and Death
I was afraid this book would be too much like The Book Thief, with Death as an actual character, but it wasn't. Love and Death play a game, involving two babies--Flora and Henry. Living only blocks apart but being born into different worlds, the game is over if Flora and Henry can put aside their differences and fall in love... or if they don't. In one case, Love wins. In the other, Death. Of course, a game isn't without its fair share of meddling, in this case by Love and Death taking on human forms. In the end, only one will prove to be more powerful. And in the actual end of this book, I was in tears.

We Are All Made of Molecules
This book was good, albeit a little too easily tied together. Stewart is 13 and smart, although socially awkward (perhaps on a spectrum, even). 14 year old Ashley is socially with it but intellectually not. The two are brought together when Ashley's mom gets divorced, starts seeing Stewart's dad and Stewart and his dad eventually move in. What follows is an adjustment period for everyone, especially Ashley. I liked this book for what it was, an engaging story and easy entertainment.
Nicolette lives in a world where faeries are real, where she's saddled with no parents and an evil stepmother and two step-sisters. Yes, this is definitely Cinderella with a twist. On her 16th birthday, she discovers a hidden workshop in her house and discovers that although faeries are banned in her world, she can make magic just like her mom. I loved this book for the magical twist on Cinderella. Although it was nothing new, it took the old and made it new.

Mosquitoland
Mim Malone is drug from the Midwest to Mississippi, aptly dubbed Mosquitoland, by her father and new stepmother after her mother becomes ill and is hospitalized. After finding what she thinks is a letter from her mother begging for her to visit, Mim steals her step-mom's money and gets on a bus for Ohio. Along the way, she meets travelers, some good and bad, and discovers quite a bit about her family and who truly loves her.

Challenger Deep
This book. Wow. I feel like YA books either glamorize or gloss over mental illnesses, but this book did neither. Caden Bosch is on a ship headed for the Challenger Trench. But Caden Bosch is also a high school student who is suddenly... changing. No longer attentive in class or to his friends and family, Caden has lost himself. He finds himself by walking miles a day, until his feet bleed, and by trying to learn about the ship and the crew and why he's on this journey. This book seamlessly weaved together Caden's real world and Caden's surreal world, but it made mental illness real and stark. There was nothing glamorous about what Caden was going through, but you felt for him, really felt for him. He didn't ask for the tricks his brain was playing, nor did he ask for his world to be suddenly rocked. There were times when this book was almost too hard to read, but in the end, it all came together. In a world where we like to ignore mental illness and certainly don't fund it enough, this book should be read by everyone.

Wolf by Wolf
The year is 1956 and in this dystopia, the Nazis won World War II. Hitler lives to seize more and more control of Europe, Asia and Africa, as the Aryan race takes new, terrifying power. Yael is a death camp survivor, a victim of Nazi experiments who is left with the power to alter her appearance. She uses this power to enter the Axis Tour, a sort of Nazi Amazing Race with the winner holding the Iron Cross and representing the great Aryan nation. Yael enters as the only female winner, a girl named Adele Wolf, with the ultimate goal of winning and then killing Hitler, hopefully being the spark to start a revolution. Through this, Yael remembers the dead who came before her and wonders if she can be ruthless enough to win at all costs.
I loved this book because I mean, who hasn't wondered what if? What if Hitler won? What if Japan joined in alliance with Nazi Germany? Where would it end? Although this book doesn't answer that question, it certainly explored it.

The Walled City
Told from he perspective of Jin, Mei Yee, and Din, life inside the Walled City (a real historical thing--look it up!) is both bleak and dangerous,whether you are a criminal, a girl forced to work in a brothel or a street kid trying to survive, it isn't easy. Jin ran away from home after her sister Mei Yee was sold into sex slavery. She suspects Mei Yee is in one of the brothels, but must figure out how to find her. Din is a rich kid who made a mistake and now must earn his way back into his society. The three stories come together in one tale of survival. Loved this story and loved the very brief piece of history within it.

What are you reading?