Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Recent Reads

It's been awhile since I've mentioned good books I've read lately so I thought I'd do a quick post about that. Most of the books I read are recommended to me by my mom. She's a librarian in a children's library so a lot of them are young adult fiction. They really are my kind of read though. They're usually short and sweet which is about all I have time for these days! One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Summary: "Eleven-year-old Delphine has it together. Even though her mother, Cecile, abandoned her and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, seven years ago. Even though her father and Big Ma will send them from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to stay with Cecile for the summer. And even though Delphine will have to take care of her sisters, as usual, and learn the truth about the missing pieces of the past.

When the girls arrive in Oakland in the summer of 1968, Cecile wants nothing to do with them. She makes them eat Chinese takeout dinners, forbids them to enter her kitchen, and never explains the strange visitors with Afros and black berets who knock on her door. Rather than spend time with them, Cecile sends Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern to a summer camp sponsored by a revolutionary group, the Black Panthers, where the girls get a radical new education.

Set during one of the most tumultuous years in recent American history, one crazy summer is the heartbreaking, funny tale of three girls in search of the mother who abandoned them—an unforgettable story told by a distinguished author of books for children and teens, Rita Williams-Garcia."

My thoughts: I love the strength that Delphine exhibited throughout the book. It was such a confusing time in her life and she did a wonderful job staying composed through all of it. She was the mother figure her sisters needed when she was longing so badly to have one for herself. This book was also a good history lesson at the same time. You really don't learn too much about the Black Panthers in school. Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
Summary: "Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her off to live with an old friend for the summer while he works a railroad job. Armed only with a few possessions and her list of universals, Abilene jumps off the train in Manifest, Kansas, aiming to learn about the boy her father once was.
Having heard stories about Manifest, Abilene is disappointed to find that it’s just a dried-up, worn-out old town. But her disappointment quickly turns to excitement when she discovers a hidden cigar box full of mementos, including some old letters that mention a spy known as the Rattler. These mysterious letters send Abilene and her new friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, on an honest-to-goodness spy hunt, even though they are warned to “Leave Well Enough Alone.”
Abilene throws all caution aside when she heads down the mysterious Path to Perdition to pay a debt to the reclusive Miss Sadie, a diviner who only tells stories from the past. It seems that Manifest’s history is full of colorful and shadowy characters—and long-held secrets. The more Abilene hears, the more determined she is to learn just what role her father played in that history. And as Manifest’s secrets are laid bare one by one, Abilene begins to weave her own story into the fabric of the town."
My thoughts: This was a sort of coming of age book and Abilene very much resembled a Scout character. The story got a little hard to follow at parts because it kept alternating between what was happening in the present and what happened about 30 years before. Also, it's about a 400 page book and it honestly could have been about half that long. There was a lot of description in the stories and in the end it all came together nicely. The last 30 pages were the best and I couldn't put it down at that point. Overall, I loved hearing about the town's past through the voice of Miss Sadie the Diviner. It was also fun to read about the role of each of the townspeople and how they play into each other. Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper (a Corretta Scott King award winner)
Summary: "Eleven-year-old Melody has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always. And there's no delete button. She's the smartest kid in her whole school—but no one knows it. Most people—her teachers and doctors included—don't think she's capable of learning, and up until recently her school days consisted of listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons again and again and again. If only she could speak up, if only she could tell people what she thinks and knows . . . but she can't, because Melody can't talk. She can't walk. She can't write.
Being stuck inside her head is making Melody go out of her mind—that is, until she discovers something that will allow her to speak for the first time ever. At last Melody has a voice . . . but not everyone around her is ready to hear it. "

Here's what it says on the back cover: "Words have always swirled around me like snowflakes - each one delicate and different, each one melting untouched in my hands. Deep within me, words pile up in huge drifts. Mountains of phrases and sentences and connected ideas. Clever expressions. Jokes. Love songs... But only in my head. I have never spoken one single word. I am almost eleven years old."
My thoughts: I first thought this book was pretty predictable which was ok because it was a good story full of great characters. It definitely was full of surprises and kept me reading. It was so fascinating to see inside Melody's mind and the way she wanted to present herself to a world that only saw her as a disabled child in a wheelchair. She definitely had a voice and she wanted to make it known. And she did. I was so proud of her and how she had the world figured out at 11 years old. I definitely recommend this one.

My sister-in-law recommended these next two to me. They're the first 2 books in a 3 book series. They were really good and made for some good entertainment reading. They are pretty similar to the Twilight series if you liked those at all. They're written by a first time LDS author (they don't have any churchy stuff in them though) and they really were pretty good. The third book came out last month but my library doesn't have it yet and I'm too cheap to get it.The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum
Summary: "Move over Edward - Dante is bound to eclipse you!" - Emily Watts, bestselling author

His past. Her future. Can love bring them together in time?
Abby's senior year of high school is going according to plan: good friends, cute boyfriend, and college applications in the mail. But when Dante Alexander, foreign-exchange student from Italy, steps into her life, he turns it upside down. He's mysterious, and interesting, and unlike anyone she's ever met before. Abby can't deny the growing attraction she feels for him. Nor can she deny the unusual things that seem to happen when Dante is around. Soon Abby finds herself drawn into a mystery whose roots reach into sixteenth-century Florence, and she uncovers a dangerous truth that threatens not only her future but the lives of those she loves.
The Golden Spiral by Lisa Mangum
Summary: "The hourglass door has closed behind Dante, sending him back in time to hunt down Zo, Tony, and V. Abby knows that Dante, as a Master of Time, is the only one who can stop them from destroying time itself. She also knows that he will need her help. But almost immediately, things start to change, and Abby’s worst fears are realized when Zo begins targeting her past specifically.
As Abby’s world fractures around her, she must face a terrible truth: either Dante didn’t make it through the door, or he is lost forever. So with Dante’s blueprints in hand, she begins construction on a new door, a new time machine that will either save Dante—or doom him.
With each new change that ripples into her present, Abby's life continues to spiral out of control. Her relationships with Jason, Natalie, and even her family are threatened to the breaking point—and beyond. Zo’s power is greater than Abby ever imagined, but as she struggles to free Dante, she receives help from an unexpected—and unlikely—ally."
My thoughts on both books: These were very entertaining, quick reads. She did a good job telling the story without leaving too many open ends. It was believable enough and a fun concept to write about. Abby was a little similar to Bella in a lot of ways but there also were enough differences. I can't wait for the third book!

So there you have it for now. What have you read lately that I need to get my hands on? Any recommendations?


Melissa said...

Thanks for the book recommendations!! I read Moon over Manifest too and loved it- especially the last few pages. You have read The Help, right?? I wish we could see the movie together!! We read A Christmas Carol for book club this month- if you haven't read that one yet, it is a must read. But you can wait until December. We read it for a "Christmas in July" sort of thing and a way to bring some "cold"er thoughts to our HOT summer.

Alice-Anne said...

thanks for these...always looking for a good (easy) read (these young adults help when my brain feels like mush...which is all the time with young kids, right? :)

stu said...

Sorry for the comment hiatus. Can't say I've read those books, but your wild west week looks awesome!