Posts tagged ‘Advanced Reader Copy’

The Absolute Value of Mike

Title: The Absolute Value of Mike
Author: Kathryn Erskine
Pages: 256 pages
Publisher/Date: Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. c2011
Reviewed from ARC furnished by author
Release Date: June 9, 2011

Since I realize ARCs (Advanced Reader Copy) are not the finalized book and can go through the editing process still, I figured I’d quote from GoodReads.com rather than the ARC itself. The cover image was also taken from GoodReads.com.

Mike tries so hard to please his father, but the only language his dad seems to speak is calculus. And for a boy with a math learning disability, nothing could be more difficult. When his dad sends him to live with distant relatives in rural Pennsylvania for the summer to work on an engineering project, Mike figures this is his big chance to buckle down and prove himself. But when he gets there, nothing is what he thought it would be. The project has nothing at all to do with engineering, and he finds himself working alongside his wacky eighty-something- year-old aunt, a homeless man, and a punk rock girl as part of a town-wide project to adopt a boy from Romania. Mike may not learn anything about engineering, but what he does learn is far more valuable.

Okay, be prepared for some family issues. Mike’s great-aunt is named Moo (as in the cow) and is as blind as a bat, but not ready to admit it. His great-uncle is named Poppy (like the flower), and is so overcome with grief by his grown-up son’s death that he stares at the blank television all day, every day. The town project involving adopting this Romanian boy gets put on the shoulders of Mike since no one else is really all that competent at putting things together. The colorful cast of characters in a small secluded town reminded me of Gilmore Girls. Moo especially came to life to me as the stereotypical grandmother. I heard Moo’s voice in my head.

I read a portion of it to a group of fifth graders, doing a grandmotherly voice for Moo, and I felt like a rock star being able to read from a book that hadn’t been published yet. When I told them I was going to raffle it off and give it to one lucky student, the class went crazy. I was a little concerned about some mild swearing. It’s not like it’s the f bomb or anything like that. But when I grew up, “crap” was considered a swear word. My cousins (ages ranging from 10-13) have assured me that no, “crap is not a swear word.” When that changed happened, I don’t know, but I haven’t been able to adapt my thinking to that attitude. So I will admit I was a little concerned.

But the story is a team-work tale, showing the power of working together. It doesn’t matter that Mike isn’t a great architect like his father, because he organizes the rag-tag group of towns people. And while the ending leaves readers wondering if they really will be able to accomplish their goal, I like where it leaves off because the other plot points become resolved. Something different than Mockingbird, but still satisfactory.

Deadly

Title: Deadly
Author: Julie Chibbaro
Bound Galley ISBN: 9781442414877
Pages: 295 pages
Publisher/Date: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, c2011.
Reviewed from ARC furnished by Traveling ARC Tours
Release Date: Feb. 22, 2011

Since I realize ARCs (Advanced Reader Copy) are not the finalized book and can go through the editing process still, I figured I’d quote from GoodReads.com rather than the ARC itself. The cover image was also taken from GoodReads.com.

A mysterious outbreak of typhoid fever is sweeping turn-of-the-century New York. Every week more people fall ill, and despite thorough investigation, there’s no cause in sight. It’s not until the city’s most unlikely scientist — sixteen-year-old Prudence Galewski — takes a job as an assistant in a laboratory that the evidence begins to fall into place. It seems one person has worked in every home the fever has ravaged: Mary Mallon, an Irish immigrant dubbed “Typhoid Mary” by the press. Includes a historical note by the author.

I’m not sure how accurate this description is of the book, because first off a dozen isolated and infected houses does not — in my opinion — equal an outbreak sweeping the city. Secondly, the evidence would have eventually fallen into place with or without Prudence’s assistance. In any case I thought that for a book that covered an investigation of a medical disease, author Julie Chibbaro did a reasonable job in maintaining suspense and intrigue for audience’s attention spans. Her author’s note in the back explains that she moved up the timeline in order to better convey the entire investigation, and that many of the characters were actual people whose names and actions she took from accounts of the outbreak. In that aspect I can appreciate her striving for accuracy.

I can also appreciate the portrayal of the attitudes of that time period, varying from the prejudice against the “dirty Irish” to the suspicion of how a healthy person could unintentionally infect others. The author really delved into how sceptical people might be to believe in things that have recently come to light in the community. We learn about cells in schools, but we don’t think like Prudence does about just how things are held together and we don’t just “float away” if we’re made of these microscopic loose entities.

Prudence’s relationships with her supervisor Mr. Soper and a scientist named Jonathan had me slightly confused, and never really felt fully developed. Her feelings and her actions never mesh, leaving readers questioning whether she really does have this romantic fascination with him. Maybe that was the author’s intention, but I felt like something was missing. However, I did appreciate that, since her close friend has moved away and was growing distant, she had someone to turn to in the form of the female doctor, who served as inspiration for Prudence to further her own education and scientific inquiry.

Overall, an interesting presentation of “Typhoid Mary” that really lends readers to sympathize with Molly, who never really asked for this notoriety and attention to begin with. Readers are encouraged to think through the department’s actions, and draw their own conclusions of what could have and what should have been done.

Delirium

Title: Delirium
Author: Lauren Oliver
ISBN: 9780061726828
Pages: 442 pages
Publisher/Date: Harper Collins Publishers, c2011.
Reviewed from ARC furnished by Traveling ARC Tours
Release Date: Feb. 1, 2011

Since I realize ARCs (Advanced Reader Copy) are not the finalized book and can go through the editing process still, I figured I’d quote from GoodReads.com rather than the ARC itself. The cover image was also taken from GoodReads.com, although it’s very different from the cover on the ARC, which I like better. (And did it take anyone else more than one look to see the face behind the lettering?)

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -the deliria- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

Lena (short for Magdalena) is counting down the days until she gets the operation that will prevent her from ever “contracting” love, an awful disease that can cause irrationality, impulsiveness, and other unwanted symptoms and is blamed for the evils of the old world. After an interrigation and operation, every teenager is paired with a member of the opposite sex, receives training for their dictated profession, and lives the life they are assigned. It’s rumored that there are Invalids on the either side of the fence who haven’t been cured, but people who sympathize with these ghosts in the trees are quickly taken care of. Intent on escaping the curse of her family’s history of suicide and sympathizer, Lena is looking forward to the operation. Until, she glimpses a face that changes her life and makes her question everything she’d previously accepted.

This is my first exposure to Lauren Oliver (at this writing, I haven’t read Before I Fall yet) and I’m determined to read more of her work. Her emotions are evocative, her characters are multi-faceted, and you’re drawn into this world really understanding the fear that Lena has of becoming her mother and suffering the same fate. Her evolution is gradual and conflicted, and she struggles to come to terms with her changing view of the world. Lena’s choices are not easy, and Oliver doesn’t take the easy way out with any of them.

The details are extraordinary. Each chapter is introduced with a quote reflecting the impressions, beliefs, and teachings of this distopian society. Whether it’s the distortian of Romeo and Juliet into a cautionary tale of the dangers of love or the nonexistance of fairy tales and poetry. The book is vague about not only how this society became established, but also the specifics of the operation, and that really emphasizes the blind acceptance that all the citizens exhibit.

This book reminds me of Uglies meets Brave New World, and it’s a wonderful love story in the middle of a loveless world. So take a chance on love!

Virals

Title: Virals
Author: Kathy Reichs
ISBN: 9781595143426
Pages: 456 pages
Publisher/Date: Razorbill, c2010.
Reviewed from ARC furnished by Traveling ARC Tours
Release Date: Nov. 2, 2010

Since I realize ARCs (Advanced Reader Copy) are not the finalized book and can go through the editing process still, I figured I’d quote from GoodReads.com rather than the ARC itself. The cover image was also taken from GoodReads.com.

Tory Brennan, niece of acclaimed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan (of the Bones novels and hit TV show), is the leader of a ragtag band of teenage “sci-philes” who live on a secluded island off the coast of South Carolina. When the group rescues a dog caged for medical testing on a nearby island, they are exposed to an experimental strain of canine parvovirus that changes their lives forever.

As the friends discover their heightened senses and animal-quick reflexes, they must combine their scientific curiosity with their newfound physical gifts to solve a cold-case murder that has suddenly become very hot if they can stay alive long enough to catch the killer’s scent.

Fortunately, they are now more than friends they’re a pack. They are Virals.

Although I’ve watched the TV show Bones for years, this was my first exposure to Kathy Reichs, whose books are the inspiration for the television show. This is her first foray into teen fiction. Tory reminds me a lot of Temperance, a brillant but socially unstable teenager. I mean, come on, what fourteen year old do you know who would spend her free time cleaning and cataloging shells, which is how we first meet Tory. Tory describes her relationship with her female classmates as just not clicking “with any of the resident Mean Girls,” calling them “terrible, horrible, despicable fembots [...] shallow and vapid, and never showed the slightest interest in their superficial world. So the disdain had been mutual.” (65) She’s self-deprecating about her looks, which is proven wrong by the end of the book. Although I wish she had at least one GIRL friend, instead of all these guys who live on the same island as her. I realize I sound like her father and his annoying … girlfriend(?), but seriously! The girls can’t be all bad. Hannah proves the most promising, but things just don’t seem to work out with her.

Tory is obviously the leader of this group of friends/virals. She convinces and coerces her guy friends to go on one outlandish adventure after the other, most of them illegal. The fact that the guys eventually cave into her demands and blindly follow her lead speaks either of their loyalty to her or their stupidity. Because let’s face it, Tory gets lucky, sometimes extremely lucky, in her discoveries. She just happened to be there, she just happened to do this, things just happen for Tory.

The transformations (or “flares” as the characters call it) in the book from normal human to super senses pack mood are well done. And although I can’t speak for the accuracy of the science behind all these things, they are clearly explained for even the non-science person like myself to understand. I’m not sure I would want this to be an ongoing series unless they take their show on the road (so to speak), because as I mentioned the conincidences would just add up if more than one murder, espionage, crime ring, etc. existed on such a tiny island. The writing is suspenseful, with the book beginning halfway through and then back-pedaling to catch the reader up to speed. It’s an attention-grabbing technique that works here. I might be interested to read her adult stuff, now that I’ve had some exposure to her style.

Someone’s review on Goodreads compared this book to Scooby Doo meets Nancy Drew meets Animorphs. Yes, the book is a mystery, but I personally think that’s where the comparisons stop between Nancy Drew and Tory (ok, they live with their fathers too, but Nancy seems just too wholesome to be hanging around Tory.) Although the ending does follow the “I would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for these meddling kids” format that Scooby Doo is famous for, I’m not so sure about the Animorphs comparison either. The teens don’t become werewolves, and if anything I would compare it to Rogue’s power in X-Men, because they came in contact with the animal and then started reflecting it’s “powers,” aka the amplified senses, strength, and stamina.

And I know it doesn’t show up well on the cover, but yes those are dog faces in the VIRALS letters. Nice touch in my opinion, although the cover is already eye-catching. Look for the sequel to come out summer 2011.

Dewey’s Read-a-thon Hour Six

I have just finished my first book for the 24-hour Read-a-thon and it was…..

The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi. Although it says on the back cover that it was “Inspired by stories by the likes of the Brothers Grimm, James M. Barrie, and L. Frank Baum”, I found myself comparing it to Star Wars more than anything else. I’ll explain in my review post of it, which I probably won’t get done until tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, I am officially, unofficially declaring tomorrow “CATCH UP DAY!” Paint the town red (Ketchup=Catch up) and do all the stuff you were supposed to do today. For me, it will be blogging all the books that I have so woefully fell behind in blogging. Don’t believe me? Here’s the picture to prove it:

And if you think that’s bad, in honor of the hour 5 challenge (which I didn’t do on time because I wanted to finish a book) here’s a picture of the books that are waiting for me. The three stacks on the left are ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) from ALA, and the two stacks on the right are ones from the library. And I’m pretty sure I have more ARCs in my bedroom. My mom is pretty good about not yelling at me about stacks of books, as long as I keep them centralized. You’ll notice they’re all stacked under the table that serves as my “desk” since the internet got moved to the basement.

While they’re certainly not “out of sight out of mind”, it being a glass table and all, I think it bears a striking resemblence to another desk made out of books, don’t you think?

And now that I’ve given everyone something to look at, on to more reading! And actually, I probably will end up taking a break and going to see Mem Fox speak in a couple hours, because she lives in AUSTRALIA and when am I ever going to get the chance to see her again?

Oh, and if anyone is interested in my multitude of ARCs that I seem to have accumulated, please feel free to drop me a line. I’m willing to spread the love and share the wealth.

Freefall

Title: Freefall
Author: Mindi Scott
ISBN: 9781442402782
Pages: 315 Pages
Publisher/Date: Simon Pulse, c2010
Reviewed from ARC furnished by We Love YA Books
Challenge: The Contemps Challenge
Publication Date: October 5, 2010

Since I realize ARCs (Advanced Reader Copy) are not the finalized book and can go through the editing process still, I figured I’d quote from GoodReads.com rather than the ARC itself. The cover image was also taken from GoodReads.com.

How do you come back from the point of no return?

Seth McCoy was the last person to see his best friend Isaac alive, and the first to find him dead. It was just another night, just another party, just another time where Isaac drank too much and passed out on the lawn. Only this time, Isaac didn’t wake up.

Convinced that his own actions led to his friend’s death, Seth is torn between turning his life around . . . or losing himself completely.

Then he meets Rosetta: so beautiful and so different from everything and everyone he’s ever known. But Rosetta has secrets of her own, and Seth will soon realize he isn’t the only one who needs saving . . .

Seth McCoy has had a lousy summer. The last person to see his friend Isaac alive, Seth is also the first one to find him dead under the rose-bush in front of Seth’s trailer. Racked with guilt, he has spent the following months trying to drink until oblivion and starts school hating the world. Then a chance encounter with a new classmate begins to change Seth’s thinking as he realizes that there are other people with just as many problems. Will this unlikely pair of high schoolers be able to save each other, or will more damage result from their relationship?

This book is a phenomenal introduction for new author Mindi Scott. All the characters come alive and seem multi-faceted. Seth, the main character and the reader’s point of view, is trying really hard to hoist himself out of the self-destructive rut he has found himself in after Isaac died. In a way, it seems it was Isaac that influenced Seth’s bad decisions in the first place, and it’s almost better for Seth that Isaac is no longer around to encourage his detrimental actions. Seth, though, feels like a traitor for thinking that, and defends Isaac against any who might slander Isaac’s questionable reputation.

It also seems to help Isaac’s old girlfriend Kendall, as she is in her own cycle of bad decisions. It takes her longer than Seth to realize the effect that Isaac has had on the both of them. I started out liking Kendall, who the author engagingly described as having “stop sign red” hair that she wears in pigtails with extremely short skirts, because she just seemed like a fun person to be around. She has a spitfire personality, describing Seth and her as nonenemies during an awkward period of their long friendship. But there’s a major curveball at the end of the book that really changed how I thought of her, and I wish I’d had the time to go back and reread her character from the beginning, knowing what I did at the end.

Rosetta is another complex character sho has suffered more in her life than you originally realize. She’s very admirable in her convictions and doesn’t seem to mind if people think differently of her because of them. It’s interesting to see her interact with Seth, because she is so different from him in the beginning and they get off to such a laughable, horrific introduction.

Seth’s life is so complicated and the changes he makes (and even the ones he fails to make) are so drastic that I thought the author could have gone into a little more detail regarding Seth’s transition. He could be considered an alcoholic, alludes to the fact that he’s done drugs, is not entirely sure what happened that night after his band’s performance when he wakes up next to a half-naked girl, and is fed-up with school in general. His transformation is admirable by the end, but the author breezes over one or two of these problems, undoubtedly to add brevity to the novel. I especially would have wanted to see more of his budding romance with one of the characters, which is sweet in an awkward and naive way. Maybe I’m just cynical, but their friendship progressed so steadily that I have a hard time believing in their spontaneous sexual interlude when the opportunity arose. Maybe I just appreciate a long courtship as opposed to an intimate relationship, since I was never one of those one-night-stand hook-up kind of girls when I was a teenager.

In any case, the characters are engaging and appealing and I wouldn’t let the minor quibbles prevent me from either enjoying the read or recommending it to others. Give Freefall a try, and take a look at your own life and ask yourself what changes you could make to it. You might be suprised, just as Seth is, by what happens.

Beat the Band

Title: Beat the Band
Series: Sequel to Swim the Fly
Author: Don Calame
ISBN: 9780763646332
Pages: 390 pages
Publisher/Date: Candlewick, c2010.
Reviewed from ARC furnished by Publisher
Publication Date: September 14, 2010 (That’s TODAY!)

Since I realize ARCs (Advanced Reader Copy) are not the finalized book and can go through the editing process still, I figured I’d quote from GoodReads.com rather than the ARC itself. The cover image was also taken from GoodReads.com.

It’s the beginning of the school year, and the tenth-grade Health class has to work in twos on semester-long projects. Matt and Sean get paired up (the jerks), but Coop is matched with the infamous “Hot Dog” Helen for a presentation on safe sex. Everybody’s laughing, except for Coop, who’s convinced that the only way to escape this popularity death sentence is to win “The Battle of the Bands” with their group Arnold Murphy’s Bologna Dare. There’s just one problem: none of the guys actually plays an instrument. Will Coop regain his “cool” before it’s too late? Or will the forced one-on-one time with Helen teach him a lesson about social status he never saw coming?

With ribald humor and a few sweet notes, screenwriter-turned-novelist Don Calame once again hits all the right chords.

The summary is correct, in that there is some vulgar humor, but it’s similar to the stuff found in the first book by Calame. It’s not necessary to read Swim the Fly before this one, because this one is told from Cooper’s point of view. This book is funny. It’s absolutely hysterical in some parts, like when the basement loses power with four guys and two girs in the same room, or when Cooper intentionally rips some smelly farts in order to discourage someone from sitting next to him. Irreverent, girl-obsessed, immature Cooper is still causing trouble for himself and his friends, Matt and Sean, and it’s amazing what they put up with from Coop. But you can tell that these guys have been together for a while and are used to putting up with each other, and it’s the camraderie between the three of them that attracts you to the story.

Just as Sean and Matt go through a transformation of sorts in the first book, and Cooper has his own by the end of the book. Another character who goes through a transformation is Helen. Helen puts up with a lot of ridicule from her classmates, and it’s refreshing to see a realistic reversal of fortune by the time of the Battle of the Bands. Her strength is admirable, and her plight is extremely sympathetic for girl readers who might have personally been the butt end of the popular clicque’s jokes.

Here’s hoping that Don Calame continues the story from Sean’s point of view next. This is an author to pay attention to.

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