Monday, December 30, 2013

Spirit and Dust

Spirit and Dust  by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Teen psychic Daisy Goodnight works with local police and the FBI to solve murder cases.  Her talent for speaking with the dead is deemed "useful" even if the evidence she uncovers is not admissible in court.  But when the dead bodyguard she interviews gives her more questions and no answers, and the trail to a kidnapped girl leads to the Egyptology exhibit Chicago's Field Museum, Daisy learns that being a kick-ass psychic detective might be a lot more dangerous than she originally thought.

Ghosts, witches, magic, a jackel-headed god, and a tyrannosaurus rex, plus a hot young FBI agent and a good-looking son of the Mob, combined with fast-talking, smirky dialogue. Think "The Mummy" meets "Indiana Jones" and you won't be far off.

Action, adventure, some bloodshed, some death, and a few steamy kisses.  Although this is a sequel to Texas Gothic, the story stands alone well--and begs for a sequel!

Recommended for readers ages 14 to adult.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Boston Jacky

Boston Jacky: being an account of the further adventures of Jacky Faber, taking care of business   by L.A. Meyer
audiobook read by Katherine Kellgren

That rascal Jacky Faber is back in town--Boston-town, that is.  Her shipping business is nearly broke, her Irish friends are unwelcome, and her true love Jaimy still hasn't returned from an extended stay in the Orient.  Undeterred, Jacky buys the Pig and Whistle Inn to save it from bankruptcy and this raises the ire of the Women's Temperance Union...and her own dearest friend.  

Can Jacky's impulsive nature be tamed before she ends up back in Judge Thwackham's court?

Maybe.  Maybe not.

I'll only give one spoiler: the thing with Jaimy is definitely not untangled in this book.  For more details, you'll have to read it yourself.

Recommended for fans of the series, ages 14 to adult.  Some cussing, some violence (mostly off-page).  As always, the audiobook edition read by Katherine Kellgren is superb.


Lexicon  by Max Barry
audiobook narrated by Heather Corrigan and Zach Appelman

Are you a cat person, or a dog person?
Choose a number between 1 and 100.
What is your favorite color?
Do you love your family?
Why did you do it?

For reasons he (and the reader) do not understand, Wil Parke has been attacked in an airport restroom, asked several nonsensical questions, and then kidnapped at gunpoint by an enigmatic man who calls himself Tom Eliot.

In a time shift, street hustler Emily Ruff is asked the same nonsensical questions and eventually recruited to a mysterious organization that promises to teach her to be more persuasive.

How do these things come together?  


Using a volatile combination of action sequences interspersed with scientific (but never boring!) explanations about brain research and neuro-linguistic programming, the author drags the reader deeply into this deeply violent, disturbing story of modern life and the power of words as weapons.  

This book was included on the 2013 School Library Journal "Best Adult Books 4 Teens" list. It will definitely thrill some teens, but readers are warned that violence and cussing completely saturate the story.

Recommended for readers who can survive the cussing and who enjoy action, suspense, and contemporary dystopic fiction.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Losing It

Losing It.  (short stories)  Keith Gray, ed.

“It hurt.  A lot.  There was a lot of blood too.”   Of course, Keith Gray is talking about being hurt in soccer practice…

With this quick start, Losing it is about just that.  Ten short stories of losing your virginity from some vary famous British authors, including Melvin Burgess, A.S. King, and Patrick Ness.  Jase wants to lose his virginity even if he loses the soccer championship as a result; Emma wonders why she did it;  Finn’s grandmother gives some great advice; Charlie and Ant are just fooling around until the right girl comes along- aren’t they?

At times, the British slang gets in the way, but more often the stories themselves talk around the sex part of the story that teens might well lose interest.  Teens won’t learn anything new here, nor will they gain any new insights, although some stories are quite poignant: The White Towel (Bali Rai,)  a story of not-too-distant India, and Finding It (Anne Fine) from the sex ed teacher’s point of view that teens will shrug off.

In reality, there is very little actual feeling here.  While some stories actually deal with emotion, (Different for Boys, Patrick Ness and Age of Consent,  Jenny Valentine) most are simple stories of wanting sex.  The stories are more “feel good, sweet” stories.  In only two of the stories the act of losing one’s virginity is observable.  In one of those stories, the actual references to sex are black boxed out, creating more in your imagination than there would be if left in the narrative.  The reality of being protected during sex is never taken seriously.  This would have been a stellar opportunity!

Kissing, gay friends, gltbq, masturbation, Star-Trek sex, violence

Of Beast and Beauty

Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

Princess Isra is a “smooth skin.”  One of those living in the city under the dome, away from the desert and the “monstrous: those reptilian-skinned creatures.  Isra is also hiding a secret- she knows she has scaly skin and her royal family is hiding it from the population, because even in the royal domed city, those who are part “monstrous” are kept in a partition.  What is also known is that Isra will someday be the blood sacrifice her people need to feed the magic roses that keep the city intact.

Then Gem, a monstrous, is captured inside the city, trying to capture the magic roses to help the desert people.  As their friendship builds, Isra is challenged to find whether everything she knows is actually true. 

Beautifully told from Isra’s and Gem’s points of view, the reader is left wondering just who the “beast” of the story really is. This unique Beauty and the Beast story is marred only by the Biblical reference that tries to incorporate the Adam and Eve story.

Kissing, religious views, strong female character, violence

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Finny and the Boy from Horse Mountain

Finny and the Boy from Horse Mountain  (ARC)  by Andrea Young

14-year-old Finny loves horses, and works at an elite show-jumping stable in exchange for riding lessons.  When she sees an emaciated horse by the side of the road, she arranges to adopt him (without telling her parents or the stable manager), and dreams of their success together.  However, the horse is huge, untrained, and potentially dangerous.  Can they ever find happiness together?

Yes, of course they can.  

All it will take is a handsome boy who happens to be a horse trainer, a kindly horse rescue lady who happens to be a retired world-class show jumping trainer, and a competent veterinarian who happens to enjoy under-billing kids for treatment and services

Of course there are other impediments to happiness, like the Snobby Rich Girl, the Loving but Neglectful Mom, and the Greedy Uncle straight out of Central Casting.

The first third of the book was fraught with plot and terminology errors.  However, the final two-thirds of the story rose up a bit from the mundane, ending with sweet romance and a thrilling horse race.  Horse-loving readers may roll their eyes at some of the goofs, but they will read to the end and cheer at the finish line.

No cussing, no sex.  Some bullying, some violence, some kissing.  Grades 6 and up.