Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Walk on Earth a Stranger



Walk on Earth a Stranger  by Rae Carson

For her own safety, and to elude capture by the wicked uncle she is sure murdered her parents back at their little homestead cabin in Georgia, Leah disguises herself as a boy and flees West, to California and the gold recently discovered there.

While travelling, Lee must not only conceal her true identity, but also her most dire secret:  she can sense the presence of gold.  Small nuggets, deeply buried veins, gold buttons or rings, and even gold dust caught under a fingernail call to Lee like a sweet song.  She knows that some would call this talent "witchcraft."  She also knows that in California, her power might make her very, very rich.

But first, she has to get there.

With rich, round characters and plenty of fascinating little historical details, Lee's engrossing journey from Georgia to California kept me turning pages.

Some blood, some violence, and some cussing but no sex...so why is this book presented on the SEX IN THE LIBRARY blog?

I'm so happy you've asked!

The author includes a small group of  men in the wagon train group headed west.  Without much detail provided, it is clear to the astute reader (and made more clear by the author's note at the end of the story) that these are, in fact, gay men.  It is not a huge plot point, and that's the beauty of it:  at last, teen literature has matured to the point where a character's sexual preferences are no longer the Central Issue of a book.  In fact, the young men's status as "confirmed bachelors" is less of a conflict point than the status of another character who is Presbyterian instead of Methodist.  These details are important, but they are not The Problem.

The story clearly leads to a sequel, but stands alone with a satisfying point of pause while we wait, patiently (or not) for the next volume.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

I am Princess X


I am Princess X  by Cherie Priest

May is still mourning her best friend Libby, who died a couple of years ago when the car went off a bridge.

But maybe Libby didn't die.

The comic character created by the girls, a princess with blue hair, red Chuck Taylors and a katana suddenly shows up in graffiti all over Seattle.  Then, May finds clues hidden in a webcomic: clues that lead her all over town, with a trail that might end with the discovery of a hiding, still-alive Libby.

This quick-moving story is interspersed with pages from the Princess X comic, and features action, adventure, friendship, mystery, and NO ROMANCE.  Extra points for racial and gender diversity among characters that does not feel forced or tokenistic.  

Things get a little name-droppy in the Seattle department, but at least the author used to live here and understands that just because there's a Starbucks on every corner doesn't mean that most natives actually buy coffees there.  

Recommended for readers of print and graphic novels, ages 12 to adult.  

Monday, April 18, 2016

Swagger


Swagger  by Carl Deuker

Jonas Dolan doesn't have a lot of post-high-school prospects until a canny basketball coach helps him improve his game--and his grades.  For the first time, Jonas considers going to college.  But then the family moves from California to Seattle, and all the friends, coaches and teachers supporting Jonas are too far away to help much.

In Seattle, Jonas finds a new friend.  Levi is also a talented basketball player, but halfway through the season, Jonas discovers why Levi seems so withdrawn and depressed, especially when Coach Hartwell is nearby.  Although Levi begs his friend to keep quiet and pretend that nothing is wrong, Jonas knows that he will need to do something.

But, what?

Excellent characters facing a truly horrible situation.  I even read   made sense of    didn't die during the basketball sequences.  (Basketball lovers will love the basketball parts.  Me, not so much.)  Overall, a strong story, recommended for readers (especially sports fans) ages 14 to adult.








Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Reckless (series)


Reckless  by Cornelia Funke

Jacob Reckless is 12 years old when he discovers the secret in his father's abandoned study:  a mirror that can transport him into a magical world of fairies, witches, dwarves and shapeshifters.  He spends  twelve years exploring and exploiting the magic, and thinks less and less often of his sickly mother and lonely younger brother...until the day that younger brother Will finds the mirror portal and immediately falls into trouble in the Mirrorworld.

German author Cornelia Funke's skillful blend of traditional magic tropes (child-eating witches, enchanted apples, princesses spelled to sleep until kissed awake) and fantastically horrible original creatures fills the quest to save Will from certain doom with a dark (very dark) charm.  

This series was originally cataloged and shelved with the children's collection at KCLS; on review, the series will be shifted to the teen collection due to adult characters, somber themes, blood and violence, and references to sexual situations in later volumes.  It is much darker and more violent than this author's Inkheart series...and it is possibly a stronger story because of the darkness.

Highly recommended for ages 12 to adult.  

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Orbiting Jupiter



Orbiting Jupiter  by Gary D. Schmidt
Jack is twelve years old when his foster brother comes to live with the family on their little farm in Maine.  Joseph Brook is fourteen years old, recently released from a facility called Stone Mountain.  And he has a daughter named Jupiter, whom he loves deeply although he has never seen her.

The story is slowly revealed, in tiny, agonizing bits.  Jack narrates with clear eyes and a farm boy's practicality:  that you can tell all you need to know about someone from the way cows are around him.  That leaving a guy to get beat up while you go find a teacher is not okay.  And that being family means you've got somebody's back.

Just when things are looking brighter for Joseph, the end of the book comes crashing down.

What this book is: sweet. compelling. impossible to ignore.
What this book is not: easy.

Highly recommended for readers ages 14 to adult.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Rebel Mechanics


Rebel Mechanics:  all is fair in love and revolution  by Shanna Swendson

The year is 1888.

In our history, the American colonies broke away from England more than a century earlier, but in this timeline, the British still rule the New World colonies because the magisters control all access to magic that provides power for everything from wool mills to private cars.  But now an underground rebel group is developing alternative energy sources:  electricity, steam, and other fuels that require no magic and are available to everyone, regardless of social class.

Young Verity Newton has come to New York City to work as a governess, and finds herself immediately surrounded by the factions of the rebellion.  Her employer, handsome Henry Lyndon, seems sympathetic to the scientific cause, although he is a magister by birthright.  Her new friends, Lizzie, Nat, and the dazzlingly handsome Alec, are outright rebel mechanics.  Where does Verity belong...and with whom?

The annoying romantic triangle resolves soon enough (whew) and the action sustains the narrative throughout.  This is a ripping good adventure, and probably first in a series.  No cussing, small amounts of blood, a few kisses, and plenty of scientific curiosity. Recommended for readers ages 14 to adult.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Rebel of the Sands



Rebel of the Sands  by Alwyn Hamilton

Amani has great plans to get out and away:  out of Dustwalk, away from the mines.  Out of the desert and away from the bullies.  Out of her uncle's reach, away from a husband who might be chosen for her.

Nothing goes according to Amani's plan, and the adventure begins: a windswept mixture of Arabian Nights and the Wild Wild West, with secret heroes, a train robbery, desert horses made from sand and magic, and a concealed oasis.

All this, and romance too, with a strong-willed main character and a colorful cast of supporting folks including the Rebel Prince, shape-shifting twins, and many hidden secrets.

First in a series--but the story does not stop on a cliffhanger, which is nice.

Recommended for ages 12 to adult; no cussing, some blood, a few kisses, no sex (yet).