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).