Thursday, May 30, 2013


Reboot  by Amy Tintera
Dystopic action adventure and zombie romance.  What's not to love?
5 years ago, 12-year-old Wren Connolly was shot and killed.  178 minutes later, she woke up.  Now, she's a Reboot, a dead soldier working for the government to protect the peace of the living humans who have--so far--survived plagues, starvation, drug addiction, and the violence of the slums.  At least, that's what she's been told.
When she agrees to train Callum (who was only dead for 22 minutes, and thus is still "mostly human") Wren begins to look beyond the orders she is given.  She begins to recognize that her own emotions are not gone.  She even begins to fall in love with Callum.
But time is running out for Callum.  Wren is going to need all her Reboot strength and all her human cunning to escape...and she's going to need the other Reboots to help her do it.
Nonstop action, quite a lot of violence and bloodshed, but minimal cussing and nudity, and a few delightful scenes of romance and tenderness.  Fans of the Hunger Games will eat this up. 

(Ohh, bad zombie pun, sorry!)

Recommended for readers ages 12 to adult. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Lucy Variations

The Lucy Variations  by Sara Zarr
Lucy Beck-Moreau was world-famous as a child prodigy at the piano, but at age 16, minutes before taking the stage at an illustrious competition in Prague, she walked away from the piano.  Her family was furious, but Lucy was adament: she did not want to spend her life competing and performing anymore.
Eight months have passed, and the family's attention is now focused  on Lucy's 10-year-old brother Gus, who is preparing for his first major public performance.  Lucy wants to help Gus, but she can't help being intrigued by the new piano teacher: a former prodigy himself, Will is attractive, attentive...and married.
Lucy's social development was clearly impaired by her years of grueling practice and performance scheduling, but with the help of a few friends, she's learning to relate to her age-mates.  The characters are well-rounded, the dialogues are terrific, and the relationships (even the inappropriate ones) are compelling.  This is a well-written story of a teen who is beginning to make decisions for herself. 
Recommended for ages 13 to adult.  A few kisses, and a bit of underage drinking, but nothing to alarm most readers.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sex, Lies & Cookies

Sex, Lies & Cookies by  Lisa Glasberg

Tired of Martha Stewart perfection?  Or even Red Green’s sort of “perfection?”  Or maybe Martha Stewart meets Dr. Ruth with a plate of cookies?  Who wouldn’t want a book by this title? 

Radio personality “Lisa G” is lately known as part of Howard Stern’s radio group.  Most people choosing this book would expect to learn more about Stern, I’ll bet.  In fact, there is very little. 

What is here is one woman’s rise to become a radio personality.  From the time she was in junior high, Lisa wanted to be on radio, and this was to be the driving force behind her every thought, career move, and radio preparation.  Her voice on the radio allowed her to accept the love she didn’t feel in childhood and could not accept from her lovers.  Of which there were many:  “The nice thing about having people love you for your voice is that you don’t have to be anywhere near them while they’re listening to you.  You can be far, far, away.  And that’s how I liked it.  Unfortunately, I carried that fear of intimacy into my personal life.  I loved men, and I loved sex with men, but that whole relationship give-and-take thing?  I wasn’t such a fan of that.  My idea of a giving relationship with a man was to bake him cookies and take them over to his apartment while wearing a fur coat and nothing underneath.  And that’s not giving- that’s giving it away.”  However, we really don’t see that she does love sex.  In most of her relationships, she complains about her lack of fun in sex.  Perhaps she wants us to feel sorry for her lack of relationships also?  Perhaps she wants us to feel much more the career focus because of the lack of fun in sex?

This pretty much sums up the book- a swing through her many (poor) relationships and sex life, when what we wanted was the inside scoop on radio stations. The best section relayed her adventures with HOT 97, a hip-hop station in New York.  The idea of photographing her foot next to Shaquille O’Neal’s foot is a hoot.   We get that Lisa is unapologetic about her single-minded career focus:  “Men get rewarded for going after their careers single-mindedly.  And if they get married at age forty-eight . . . no one even raises an eyebrow.  But if a woman spends decades on her career, doesn’t get married, doesn’t have kids. . . well, I don’t need to tell you the kind of reaction that gets.”  Pretty current theme in popular non-fiction literature now.  

But let’s go back to the title:  it wasn’t leading us astray.  Sex, lies (in relationships) and cookies.  The cookie recipes are great.  Especially the lemonade bars and “Losing my cherry cookies.”  In fact, all of the cookies are deliberately placed for emphasis in the story, with little quips within the cookie story.  Cookies are such a focus that the “epilog” is a treatise on how to stage and produce a cookie party, broken down by steps months in advance.
This is billed as a memoir, and in light of recent problems with the facts within memoirs, Lisa admits that some of the facts are rearranged chronologically or combined to make more sense.
Originally we read this as a possible adult-to-young-adult focus.  We don't recommend it for teen readers.  We would recommend it to adult women for the beach this summer.  It doesn’t go beyond that.  And at $25.99, get it from the library or wait for paperback.  But it is fun.
Finally, a new favorite quote came from this book:  “That which does not kill you gives you a story to tell later.”

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Diviners

The Diviners by Libba Bray
Evie McNeill is a thoroughly modern flapper, exiled from her Ohio hometown for revealing the unwholesome secrets of the son of a powerful local man, and sent (happily) to live with her uncle at the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition and the Occult in Prohibition-era New York City. 

Once there, it becomes obvious to Evie and the reader that the "creepy-crawlies" aren't confined to Uncle Will's museum.  There are strange things afoot...and one of them is a serial killer, returned from the dead and determined to finish the grusome rituals that will release the Beast and drop Hell on the waiting world.

With a huge cast of characters, lots of historical context, accurate political, social and musical references, this book is a terrific immersion into 1920's New York.  It's also a ripping good mystery and thrilling horror story with just a touch of romance.

The audiobook read by January LaVoy is outstanding, and successfully created all the suspense, terror, and fun of the book in the front seat of my pickup truck.

Pos-i-tute-ly adorable book trailer available online HERE.
Search for "Diviners Radio" on You Tube to find episodes of the story interpreted as a radio play

With blood and guts on the page, this book may be overwhelming for squeamish or timid readers.  Be bold if you are able.   Highly recommended--I'm can hardly wait for the second book!