Monday, December 30, 2013

These Broken Stars, by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner: The Titantic Sinks in an Outer Space Blue Lagoon!

These Broken Stars
Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Hyperion: New York, 2013.
ISBN: 9781423171027
ARC provided by publisher
Book Club Recipe suggestion: These Broken Ration Bars (aka Date Bars with Almond and Coconut)

Ms. Lilac La Roux and Major Tarver Merendsen were passengers of the Icarus, the finest, newest and most technologically advanced spaceship across the many galaxies.  Tarver is a war hero, recently returned from battle and being paraded around and shown off by the military on tour.  Lilac is the only child of the richest man in the universe.  Now, though, they are the only two survivors after disaster befalls the ship.  Stranded on a strange planet, they must survive both the unknown planet, strange whispers they are hearing, and their mutual discord if they have any hopes of living long enough to repair the beacon that will signal their SOS.  But, as they grow to develop a slow-burning bond that is more than mere friendship, they begin to wonder: are they really better off being rescued?  Fast-paced, dramatic, and unexpected, this is a spectacularly fun, engrossing, and totally accessible Sci-Fi title filled with adventure, romance, and intrigue.   It is a STRONG recommendation for anyone who likes their Sci-Fi light on the Sci and heavy on snappy writing, adventure, high-stakes, and romance.  I’m looking at you, readers of this blog. 

This super title came into my orbit (see what I did there?) this summer when I was lucky enough to be working at the best bookstore in all the lands (all of them).  One of my fellow booksellers and I were chatting about what we’d been reading and she’d just finished it.  She summed it up as…Titanic in space.  And she’s TOTALLY RIGHT.  OMG you guys.  It was a tonic to my 13-year-old self, she of the three viewings of Titanic in movie theatres and listening to the CD so much it broke (that must have been awful, sorry, family).  I’m pretty sure I’d re-read this at LEAST three times in a row if I were 13.  I’d go one step further and add that it’s like Titanic in space with shades of Outlander and a healthy dash of Blue Lagoon… Which is why, readers of this blog, I suspect that the vast majority of you will more than dig this.  Even the dudes.  I’m not genderist (okay, well, ladies will probably dig it a little more).   


Now, let us take a walk with my brain through this super fun read together, in bullet form, because my brain is unable to form full paragraphs and desperate for some vacation!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Roomies, by Tara Altebrando and Sarah Zarr: Minifridge vs. Microwave - let the negotiations begin!

by Tara Altebrando and Sarah Zarr
Little Brown: New York, 2013
ARC reviewed provided by publisher
The summer before you go to college is a big one – you’ve got to pack your room up, say goodbye to your oldest friends, leave your childhood behind, and you’ve got to figure out which roommate is going to bring the mini-fridge.  Elizabeth and Lauren are about to start their freshman year at UC Berkley and have received the news that they will be roommates.  Elizabeth reaches out to Lauren, and the girls strike up a conversation that spans the course of a summer that is filled with personal growth, the challenges of change in family ties and childhood friendships, the increasing complexities of adult decisions (and not just about that minifridge), and romance.  Though they’ve never met, they rely on each other to get through it all – nervous as they are about their own burgeoning friendship not working out.  This is a strong recommendation for adult female readers for the nostalgic reasons (remember when?) and for high schoolers looking to make their own leap into the vast world of college roomie-dom (or college kids in it!)!
This is such a fun book you guys.  I really enjoyed reading it!  There’ s a lot to love as a book pusher for teens (the frank way old bonds get tested by new challenges, how its okay to realize you may not be bff’s forever, interracial dating, dating, sex, complex family decisions, parenting your parent, etc. etc.), but there’s also a lot of just sheer enjoyment of walking down memory lane.  I mean, many of us went to college/university, and many of us can recall the nervous feeling you had when you found out who your roommie was going to be – let alone if they’d be a friend!  It’s a fun exploration of a really pivotal time of life.   
Two thumbs up – and a great gift idea for that high school senior in your life if you are last minute holiday shopping…

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Aristole and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Saenz: and make this Pocho starry-eyed along the way

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Benjamin Alire Saenz
New York: Simon and Schuster, 2012.
ISBN:  978144240892

Aristotle, or Ari, as he prefers to be called, is fifteen, introverted, bored, and a bit of a loner.  While teaching himself to swim at the local pool, he meets Dante.  Dante is fifteen, extroverted, artistic, has a way with words, and can swim.  Dante offers to teach Ari to swim, and the boys develop a quietly powerful friendship.  Ari’s boundaries begin to be chipped away by Dante’s curiosity, and he begins to ask himself questions about his family, himself, and his world.  When Dante’s family needs to move away for the year for his father’s job, their friendship is tested by distance and, over the course of the year, by the admission of one of the two that he is not attracted to girls.   This story is beautiful, simple, and yet complex on many levels.  It is a strong recommendation for teens 14 and up, and adults.  Every library with an ounce of self-respect should have this in their catalog!

This book is nearly impossible to summarize.  That’s not because it’s super complex, or because I don’t want to spoil it, but the exact opposite (well, except the spoiling part – I hate Uncle Spoiler!).  The story itself is relatively simple as a realistic look into the worlds of two boys and their families, the nuances and secrets that all families have, their related personal growth and search for identity, and the increasing acceptance of self that is true of many coming of age stories.  But this is not a simple coming of age story.
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