Friday, April 30, 2010

Two Titles, One Month

Former Elle editor Lee delivers a standout debut dealing with the rigors of love and survival during a time of war, and the consequences of choices made under duress. Claire Pendleton, newly married and arrived in Hong Kong in 1952, finds work giving piano lessons to the daughter of Melody and Victor Chen, a wealthy Chinese couple. While the girl is less than interested in music, the Chens' flinty British expat driver, Will Truesdale, is certainly interested in Claire, and vice versa. Their fast-blossoming affair is juxtaposed against a plot line beginning in 1941 when Will gets swept up by the beautiful and tempestuous Trudy Liang, and then follows through his life during the Japanese occupation. As Claire and Will's affair becomes common knowledge, so do the specifics of Will's murky past, Trudy's motivations and Victor's role in past events. The rippling of past actions through to the present lends the narrative layers of intrigue and more than a few unexpected twists. Lee covers a little-known time in Chinese history without melodrama, and deconstructs without judgment the choices people make in order to live one more day under torturous circumstances.

A family's conflict becomes a battle for life and death in this gripping and original first novel based on family history from a descendant of a condemned Salem witch. After a bout of smallpox, 10-year-old Sarah Carrier resumes life with her mother on their family farm in Andover, Mass., dimly aware of a festering dispute between her mother, Martha, and her uncle about the plot of land where they live. The fight takes on a terrifying dimension when reports of supernatural activity in nearby Salem give way to mass hysteria, and Sarah's uncle is the first person to point the finger at Martha. Soon, neighbors struggling to eke out a living and a former indentured servant step forward to name Martha as the source of their woes. Sarah is forced to shoulder an even heavier burden as her mother and brothers are taken to prison to face a jury of young women who claim to have felt their bewitching presence. Sarah's front-row view of the trials and the mayhem that sweeps the close-knit community provides a fresh, bracing and unconventional take on a much-covered episode.

Hectic Life, Crazy Schedules

Elise and I have been absent for a while, and for that we apologize.  In our defense, however, we were sucked into the black hole of school!  We have finally reemerged and are ready to take as much reading as we can handle.  We will go back to our two week schedule if you think you can handle it! :)  We should have read the Piano Teacher for April.  We will extend the deadline for that book since we fell behind a bit.  With that said...readers unite!

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

When troubled student Percy Jackson vaporizes his math teacher on a class field trip, he begins to suspect that his life is not what it seems. He discovers that his lifelong reading and attention troubles are all signs that he is a half-blood-a child of the Greek gods. After a summer training session with other demigods and Chiron the centaur, he sets off on a cross-country quest to Los Angeles (the entrance to Hades) with his friend Grover the faun and Annabeth, a child of Athena, to recover Zeus' lost thunderbolt and stop a war between the gods. Along the way, where modern life and mythology intersect to create both humor and excitement, Percy will come to know his father Poseidon, rescue his mother, and discover that he has what it takes to be a hero. Ultimately, Percy learns to trust his friends and his abilities and to choose love over despair.

What we thought...

When I finished the Lace Reader I was really glad I had decided to read it.  At first, I was confused and didn't really understand what was going on.  I also had a hard time investing myself in the characters.  About half-way through, however, I couldn't put the book down.  It was a nice change of pace frin the young adult genre and I don't believe the book was ever predictable.  The ending had me so surprised.  I hope you decide to read it, or if you have, I hope you enjoyed it.  I won't say more just in case some haven't read it but want to.  I will ask one question, Do you think there was an overall message to the book, or do you think it was just meant as entertainment?

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

Towner Whitney, a dazed young woman descended from a long line of mind readers and fortune tellers, has survived numerous traumas and returned to her hometown of Salem, Mass., to recover. Any tranquility in her life is short-lived when her beloved great-aunt Eva drowns under circumstances suggesting foul play. Towner's suspicions are taken with a grain of salt given her history of hallucinatory visions and self-harm. The mystery enmeshes local cop John Rafferty, who had left the pressures of big city police work for a quieter life in Salem and now finds himself falling for the enigmatic Towner as he mourns Eva and delves into the history of the eccentric Whitney clan.

I hope you enjoy this book.  It is a little more serious than the previous books we have been reading lately.  I absolutely loved this book, especially since it was a nice change of pace.

What we thought...

First of all, I'd like to say sorry for taking so long with posting our comments and starting our next book. School has definately taken over our free time. So for the rest of the school year we will be doing just one book a month and when summer begins we will pick back up on two books a month.

I liked 'The Uglies' series until the fourth book. I agree with Elissa, that the ending of the third book was a little cheesy but I was willing to look passed that. If I recommend this book to anyone though I will tell them to not waste there time on reading the fourth book! I liked all of the characters excluding the fourth book ofcourse. I liked it because it was an easy read and a great escape. Its kind of like one of those books that you liked but you don't want to admit that you read it. I say this because its a book written for teenagers. I will admit that I found myself mimicking some of their lingo! I liked that Zane died in book three. Don't get me wrong I thought it was sad and I was surprised but it was kind of a necessary. I like David and I thought that Tally-wa and David were meant for each other. You never stop loving your first love. I also liked the theme of the book. I could see the world turning into that. The future could definately hold many technologies that could turn us into pretties. I believe that we would have a similar conflict too because there are people out there who are completely against altering your body.  So thats all I have to say for now. Janell is trying to catch up so we will hear from her as soon as she's done.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Uglies, Book 1 by Scott Westerfeld

Science Fiction gave a great review of this book.  With a beginning and ending that pack hefty punches, this introduction to a dystopic future promises an exciting series. Tally is almost 16 and breathlessly eager: On her birthday, like everyone else, she'll undergo extensive surgery to become a Pretty. She's only known life as an Ugly (everyone's considered hideous before surgery), whereas after she "turns," she'll have the huge eyes, perfect skin, and new bone structure that biology and evolution have determined to be objectively beautiful. New Pretties party all day long. But when friend Shay escapes to join a possibly mythical band of outsiders avoiding surgery, Tally follows-not from choice but because the secret police force her. Tally inflicts betrayal after betrayal, which dominates the theme for the midsection; by the end, the nature of this dystopia is front and center and Tally-trying to set things right-takes a stunning leap of faith. Some heavy-handedness, but the awesome ending thrills with potential.

Here is a great link on Scott Westerfeld and his trilogy.  Trust me, you will want to finish the series!