Bad Girls Don't Die

Bad Girls Don't Dieby Katie Alender

Alexis is a photographer, a loner, a trouble-maker, a class-skipper, a protester, an independent with pink hair.  She lives a big, old house with a big, old tree in the front yard.  Her mother is a workaholic trying to move up the corporate ladder.  Her father is frustrated and spends most of his time watching sports with his friends.  Her sister Kasey is only a couple years younger but insecure and needy with a capital “N” to the point where she acts much younger than her age, which could explain why she is so obsessed with collecting dolls.  Lots and lots of dolls.  Alexis is Kasey’s champion, her rock, her support system so it is Alexis who is really the only one who begins to see the change in Kasey.  Kasey is having blackouts, not remembering being in a place when Alexis clearly saw her there.  Kasey is conversing when seemingly no one is there to talk back.  Kasey has sudden violent episodes.  Kasey is stealing from her classmates.  Kasey’s eyes sometimes flash brilliant green when in fact they are blue like the sky.  What is going on with Kasey and what is Alexis going to do about it?

Reaction: I picked up this book because of the cover.  Really, who could resist it.  I don’t usually pick up ghost stories; in fact, I don’t know of many in teen lit.  I’m sure they’re there, I’m just not aware of them, though I enjoyed this one so much I might have to seek out some others.  As much as I enjoyed the creepy ghostly elements, I enjoyed the story because of the characters and their relationships.  When I started the book and read Alexis’ description I thought, oh no, another book about some loner teen with no friends who will suddenly make friends with some relatively popular people.  And, ok, that happened, but it was done in a great way.  First of all, Alexis’ lack of friends was well explained and it wasn’t that she had no friends, she doesn’t didn’t feel close to any of the people she hangs out with.  There were certainly times in my life when i could relate to that.  Second, the supporting characters, the “to-be” friends, turned out to be more than Alexis thought they would be.  For instance, Megan, the cheerleader.  From the beginning, Alexis envies Megan because she supports many of the same causes as Alexis but Megan usually finds a more receptive audience, mostly because she is more tactful in her approach.  When Alexis finds out there is more to Megan than just the cheerleader, it’s not really a shock.  What I like the most, though, was how devoted Megan was to cheerleading.  Just because she turned out to be an intelligent, nice, helpful person with some issues of her own did not mean she could not also be a devoted cheerleader.  The ending does wrap up a bit too neatly but I still found it satisfying.  Alender writes a very good, relationship-driven yet spooky ghost story.

Check out: A much more eloquent review from Lenore @ Presenting Lenore.

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Bad Girls Don’t Die

Bad Girls Don't Dieby Katie Alender

Alexis is a photographer, a loner, a trouble-maker, a class-skipper, a protester, an independent with pink hair.  She lives a big, old house with a big, old tree in the front yard.  Her mother is a workaholic trying to move up the corporate ladder.  Her father is frustrated and spends most of his time watching sports with his friends.  Her sister Kasey is only a couple years younger but insecure and needy with a capital “N” to the point where she acts much younger than her age, which could explain why she is so obsessed with collecting dolls.  Lots and lots of dolls.  Alexis is Kasey’s champion, her rock, her support system so it is Alexis who is really the only one who begins to see the change in Kasey.  Kasey is having blackouts, not remembering being in a place when Alexis clearly saw her there.  Kasey is conversing when seemingly no one is there to talk back.  Kasey has sudden violent episodes.  Kasey is stealing from her classmates.  Kasey’s eyes sometimes flash brilliant green when in fact they are blue like the sky.  What is going on with Kasey and what is Alexis going to do about it?

Reaction: I picked up this book because of the cover.  Really, who could resist it.  I don’t usually pick up ghost stories; in fact, I don’t know of many in teen lit.  I’m sure they’re there, I’m just not aware of them, though I enjoyed this one so much I might have to seek out some others.  As much as I enjoyed the creepy ghostly elements, I enjoyed the story because of the characters and their relationships.  When I started the book and read Alexis’ description I thought, oh no, another book about some loner teen with no friends who will suddenly make friends with some relatively popular people.  And, ok, that happened, but it was done in a great way.  First of all, Alexis’ lack of friends was well explained and it wasn’t that she had no friends, she doesn’t didn’t feel close to any of the people she hangs out with.  There were certainly times in my life when i could relate to that.  Second, the supporting characters, the “to-be” friends, turned out to be more than Alexis thought they would be.  For instance, Megan, the cheerleader.  From the beginning, Alexis envies Megan because she supports many of the same causes as Alexis but Megan usually finds a more receptive audience, mostly because she is more tactful in her approach.  When Alexis finds out there is more to Megan than just the cheerleader, it’s not really a shock.  What I like the most, though, was how devoted Megan was to cheerleading.  Just because she turned out to be an intelligent, nice, helpful person with some issues of her own did not mean she could not also be a devoted cheerleader.  The ending does wrap up a bit too neatly but I still found it satisfying.  Alender writes a very good, relationship-driven yet spooky ghost story.

Check out: A much more eloquent review from Lenore @ Presenting Lenore.

Bones of Faerie

Bones of Faerieby Janni Lee Simner

Liza lives in a world much different from our own.  Liza’s world was changed when humans and faerie fought a horrible war, devastating both sides.  Liza has been brought up to believe that anything and everything to do with the faeries is bad, especially magic.  When her baby sister is born with pale, pale hair, a sure sign of magic, her father takes the baby to a hillside in the middle of the night and leaves her there to die or be taken by her own kind.  That is the world Liza knows.  When Liza herself begins to show signs of magic, she flees her small town to save herself and to save others from the horrors of her burgeoning powers.  With Liza goes her old cat Tallow, Matthew, another member of her town who is harboring his own secrets, and Allie, a young healer only just beginning to learn her own craft.  As Liza, Matthew, Allie, and Tallow embark on their journey, Liza begins to learn that the ideas drilled into her from birth may not be true, and magic may just be a saving-grace for her ravaged, war-torn country.

Reaction: Bones of Faerie is so much more than a fairy story.  It is also about war.  Liza is brought up to believe that the side of the humans was right and the faerie’s was wrong.  This black and white story of war does not do justice to the nuances of the actuality.  In real life, the humans were just as horrible to the faeries, possibly even more so, than the faeries were to humans.  War is not black and white but full of more shades of gray than possible for any one being to understand.

The story is also about abuse.  Liza’s father is verbally and physically abusive, unable to see past his own warped views of the world.  When Liza is late to work, he lashes her back leaving welts and bloody cuts.  If he were to find out that Liza was exhibiting signs of magic, he would not hesitate to slit her throat and kill her just as he killed his baby daughter.  What was fascinating, though, was the fond memories Liza carried of her father.  He taught her to hunt, to walk softly, use a bow and arrow, and to cleanly skin her kill.  He taught her many other survival techniques that come in handy to Liza while she is on her journey.  I think it is a sign of a truly great author to show the humanity of the monster.  Liza remembers both the good and the bad of the only father she’s ever known.

Of course, this story is about faerie.  It is also about so much more.  It is gripping and captivating.  It grabs you from the first line of the first chapter and carries through to the last line of the last chapter.  I cannot say enough about the awesomeness of this multi-layered tale.

Also: Janni Lee Simner wrote a short story that takes place in the same world as Liza’s called Invasive Species, which you can read here.

The Glass Maker's Daughter

Glass Maker's Daughterby V. Briceland

Risa is the daughter of one of the seven most prominent families in Cassaforte, and because of her status, her future is to be decided by the gods during the Ritual of Scrutiny.  As the day for the ritual approaches, Risa is excited, wondering which of the two gods will pick her to study at their school, but when the Ritual of Scrutiny is performed over Risa, the unthinkable happens.  She remains unchosen, something that has never happened in the history of Cassaforte.  Stricken and ashamed, Risa retreats within herself and her craft, making beautiful glass bowls, but what Risa doesn’t understand is that the god’s have not maligned her but have a different fate in mind.  Not long after the day of the ritual, the power-hungry prince tries to take over Cassaforte and, in the process, begins to ruin the magical foundations that have helped Cassaforte stay a prosperous and peaceful country.  It is up to Risa and a rag-tag group of new friends to find a way to stop the prince before he ruins the entire kingdom.

Reaction: A solid, classic fantasy tale.  While I do love stories about fairies, vampires, and magic in our time, this story takes fantasy back to its roots, and that was refreshing.  Because of what I would consider the “classic” fantasy elements, some may find the story predictable but I found it to be comforting.  Also, Risa may not be liked by all.  She’s stubborn, a bit immature, a bit self-centered, and can be impulsive, but I liked this about her.  She was a very real teenager; teenagers are often stubborn, immature, self-centered, and impulsive.  But at her heart, Risa truly wanted to do the right thing, whether she chose the proper path to get there or not.  The supporting characters added flare to the story.  Milo, the fun-loving city guard and possible love-interest.  Milo’s sister, Camilla, who is the opposite of Milo, a very serious, studious guard, who is in love with a very serious, studious glass-maker.  Ricard, the People’s Poet who sings horrible, rhyming songs and whose one good song causes Risa lots of trouble.  And more, too many to mention.  If you enjoy more traditional fantasy like Robin McKinley or the Crown/Court Duet, I don’t believe you’ll be disappointed with The Glass-Maker’s Daughter.

The Glass Maker’s Daughter

Glass Maker's Daughterby V. Briceland

Risa is the daughter of one of the seven most prominent families in Cassaforte, and because of her status, her future is to be decided by the gods during the Ritual of Scrutiny.  As the day for the ritual approaches, Risa is excited, wondering which of the two gods will pick her to study at their school, but when the Ritual of Scrutiny is performed over Risa, the unthinkable happens.  She remains unchosen, something that has never happened in the history of Cassaforte.  Stricken and ashamed, Risa retreats within herself and her craft, making beautiful glass bowls, but what Risa doesn’t understand is that the god’s have not maligned her but have a different fate in mind.  Not long after the day of the ritual, the power-hungry prince tries to take over Cassaforte and, in the process, begins to ruin the magical foundations that have helped Cassaforte stay a prosperous and peaceful country.  It is up to Risa and a rag-tag group of new friends to find a way to stop the prince before he ruins the entire kingdom.

Reaction: A solid, classic fantasy tale.  While I do love stories about fairies, vampires, and magic in our time, this story takes fantasy back to its roots, and that was refreshing.  Because of what I would consider the “classic” fantasy elements, some may find the story predictable but I found it to be comforting.  Also, Risa may not be liked by all.  She’s stubborn, a bit immature, a bit self-centered, and can be impulsive, but I liked this about her.  She was a very real teenager; teenagers are often stubborn, immature, self-centered, and impulsive.  But at her heart, Risa truly wanted to do the right thing, whether she chose the proper path to get there or not.  The supporting characters added flare to the story.  Milo, the fun-loving city guard and possible love-interest.  Milo’s sister, Camilla, who is the opposite of Milo, a very serious, studious guard, who is in love with a very serious, studious glass-maker.  Ricard, the People’s Poet who sings horrible, rhyming songs and whose one good song causes Risa lots of trouble.  And more, too many to mention.  If you enjoy more traditional fantasy like Robin McKinley or the Crown/Court Duet, I don’t believe you’ll be disappointed with The Glass-Maker’s Daughter.

Library Loot: April 22-28

Library LootLibrary Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Alessandra that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

This week wasn’t nearly as big as last week.  Here’s what I checked out:

Forest of Hands and TeethMy re-checkouts:

I currently have 61 checkouts and 14 holds.  I did a big clean-out this week and took back books I didn’t think I was going to read in the near future.

Jolted: Newton Starker's Rules for Survival

Joltedby Arthur Slade

Newton Starker is the last in the Starker line.  All of his Starker relatives, except for his cranky great-grandmother, have died from lightning strikes, his mother being the most recent victim.  No one knows why lightning so regularly strikes down the Starkers.  Scientific tests have come up with nothing and Newton refused to believe it’s a family curse because that simply isn’t logical.  Newton, in an attempt to live a long life, decides to attend the Jeremy Potts Academy of Higher Learning and Survival.  At J.P. he not only gets an intellectual education but is also taught survival skills, like which plants are edible and which will kill you and how to craft shelter in the wilderness.  Newton arrives at school with the idea that he will excel at everything, be top in his class, and be of interest to all.  Things don’t turn out exactly the way Newton hopes and he has a few very important life lessons to learn if he is going to not only survive but actually live his life.

Reaction: I really wanted to like this one but the characters held me back from true like.  There were a lot of good things.  I really enjoyed the format.  The chapters were, mostly, short.  Interspersed with Newton’s story were newspaper articles about his family, facts about landmarks, emails from the headmaster, tips from the Jeremy Pott’s survival guide, Newton’s recipes, etc.  I really enjoyed the fact that there school uniforms were kilts because of Jeremy Pott’s distant Scottish relatives.  This is just one of the examples of the author’s humor, which is laced throughout the story.  My favorite part of the novel had to be Josephine.  Newton calls a French chef he knows to order some truffles for an assignment, but Newton’s French isn’t so hot so he’s not exactly positive that he ordered what he wanted to order.  Sure enough, along with the truffles, the chef sends Josephine, a truffle-sniffing pig.  Josephine is smart.  She finds anything Newton asks her to find and she’s probably the best friend he’s ever had.

Holding me back from truly enjoying this novel was my inability to connect with the characters.  Newton is a bit too egotistical for me.  I know this is in large part due to how he was raised, an only child who may die every time he goes outside, what parent wouldn’t be over-protective, and his lack of socialization, see again over-protection and his mother’s assertion that he should never have friends.  The thing is, though, he always went to a school with other students so he maybe shouldn’t have been as full of himself as he was.  Also, I just wanted a bit more transformation from him, though I suppose in such a short novel that would have been unrealistic.  I also though Jacob was a bit of a pushover.  He seemed to take whatever Newton dished out, though it is nice of him to be loyal.  And I didn’t quite get why Violet liked Newton.  Maybe it’s because he could compete with her and they were similar, loners who thought they were going to be the best at everything?  I just thought she was a bit too forgiving in the end.  I mean, he left here there!  He did come back but I’d still have been a bit mad.

Jolted does have a lot of thing’s going for it — formatting, humor, interesting and unique plot — and not everyone will have my same issues with the characters — honestly, there were lots of times when Newton was very likable, but mostly they were times when he wasn’t interacting with anyone.  I think it will be a satisfying story for readers looking to fill the void until the last Percy Jackson comes out.

A link to a more positive review: The Happy Nappy Bookseller