Monday, August 29, 2011

NEWS: First glimpse of Hunger Games Trailer

The first glimpse of one of the trailers for the Hunger Games was released last night at the MTV's Video Music Awards.  Here it is:

Get More: 2011 VMA, Music

Get More: 2011 VMA, Music

Get More: 2011 VMA, Music

Let us know what you think.  Will you be going to the theater to see it?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

REVIEW: Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Audience: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Time Travel/Fantasy

Summary: Gwen was not supposed to be the "gifted" one, the individual who possessed the time travel gene.  It was supposed to be Charlotte, who has trained all her life to complete the Lodge's quest to close the circle.  But when Gwen is suddenly transported to the 19th century, it becomes clear someone has made a mistake or has her mother lied about her birthday all these years? If so, why?  Also, there is the handsome Gideon, who is supposed to aid Gwen in her time travel adventures.  How do all these new people and the mysteries of her family fit together in Gwen's life? Who can she trust?  Read Ruby Red to find out.

Lucinda's Thoughts:  I really enjoyed this book.  Being a historical romance and fantasy novel fan, it has several elements that really caught my interest. Also, Gwen is a spunky, likable character that seems resourceful, yet down-to-earth and this serves to keep the reader involved in her story. 
Because of her likability,  Gwen's unexpected jaunt to the past and the subsequent mysteries revealed by her journeys were sufficiently intriguing to keep my interest.  In addition, as the book progresses, Gwen's eccentric family furthers the deepening of the plot and also helps to bring up additional mysteries that should be answered in subsequent novels in the series.  Gwen's meeting with the enigmatic historical figure Count De St. Germaine also sparks off new sets of questions that Gideon and Gwen must answer.  Questions like- who is behind the attempt on their lives as they seek to leave the Count's time period?  What is the Count's true purpose?  Is Gwen doing the "right" thing by allying herself with the Lodge or should she trust Paul and Lucy? 


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

REVIEW: Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Audience: Young Adult/Teen
Genre: Dystopia, Horror
Series: Escape from Furnace #1

Summary: Alex is a school bully and, along with his best friend, makes a habit of breaking into empty homes and robbing them. But he's never been a killer. Then, after he's set up for a crime he didn't commit, Alex is sentenced to life imprisonment in Furnace, a nightmarish maximum security prison for kids created years ago after gangs of kids and teens went on a killing rampage known as the Summer of Slaughter. Even if he can survive the viciousness of his fellow inmates, how long can he withstand the sadistic guards and unimaginable monstrosities that will surely kill them all? For Alex, the answer is clear: he must find a way to escape the inescapable prison.

Tracy's Thoughts: 
Part dystopian thriller and part horror story, Lockdown is relentlessly paced and often quite bleak, even grotesque. Furnace is populated by teenaged gang members; sadistic, blacksuited guards with superhuman abilities; and freakish mutated dogs. Plus there is the majorly creepy warden and the terrifying creatures known as wheezers. And yet, there are also lighter moments to briefly alleviate the grimness. Alex's budding friendship with his cellmate Donovan and another new inmate, Zee, adds depth and a bit of light humor to the narrative. But then the tension and danger are ratcheted up all over again. Lockdown actually reminded me of a teen version of TV's Prison Break (the earlier, good seasons), with a horror twist. It's probably not for everyone, but will likely appeal to fans of Darren Shan, James Patterson's Maximum Ride series, or Dashner's The Maze Runner. Reluctant readers who like a bit of horror and a lot of action will gobble it up.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

REVIEW: Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Rating: 2.5/5 Stars
Audience: Young Adult/Teen
Genre: Magical Realism, Dark Comedy

Summary: Sadly, high school slacker Cameron Smith's fondest memory is from his childhood trip to Disney World when he nearly died. Now he's been diagnosed with  Creutzfeld Jakob's (aka mad cow) disease, and it is official: His life sucks. But then Dulcie, a frustratingly elusive punk-rock angel shows up at the hospital and assures Cameron there is a cure! All Cameron has to do is escape from the hospital and track down the mysterious Dr. X, a time-traveling physicist, and save the world along the way. What follows is a crazy road trip in the company of Gonzo, a paranoid, video-gaming dwarf and Balder, a Norse god in the guise of a lawn gnome.

Tracy's Thoughts:
I really expected to LOVE this book. After all, I adored Bray's (totally different) Gemma Doyle Trilogy, and Going Bovine did win the 2010 Michael Prinz Award, edging out Rick Yancey's The Monstrumologist—which I did love. Plus there's this super-cool book trailer:

I expected a trippy, action-packed, fun road adventure. All ingredients for total awesomeness. But... I think Bray got a little sidetracked by her own brilliance. At times the pace seemed agonizingly slow—especially the CESSNAB episode—and the subtext a little heavy handed. Basically, though genuinely funny and fascinating at times, the book just seemed too contrived and self-aware for my liking. Still, I am glad I read the book. The "bro-mance" between Cameron, Gonzo, and Balder was unusual and compelling, and Bray is a pro when it comes to capturing snarky teenage dialog. Readers interested in philosophy and the nature of reality may especially enjoy reading this one.

Confession and questions: I listened to this book in audio format, so perhaps that had something to do with my underwhelming response. Have any of you found that some books just don't work in audio format? I'm not blaming the reader—he actually did a fine job—but I can't help wondering if  the pacing or constant exposition would have played better in print. Or perhaps I just expected too much? For those of you who have read the book, what did you think? I'm curious.

Monday, August 15, 2011

DUAL REVIEW: The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Audience: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Dystopia/Zombie

Summary:  Set in a world after the "Return" (a viral apocalypse), the village is the only life and home that Mary has ever known. Constantly on guard against the Unconsecrated (infected individuals that die and come back as zombies, the village allows Mary to be only two things- a wife to a man she does not love or  a Sister (a member of the religious order that rules the village.)  However, Mary dreams of the Ocean, which she had heard of in the tales that her mother told her as a child.  Will Mary ever achieve her dream and catch a glimpse of a life outside the village?

Lucinda's thoughts:  I really enjoyed this book.  Mary is a very complex character and does not always do what a traditional teen heroine would do.  She is strong-willed, a bit selfish, and determined.  But it is these qualities that allow her to survive in her world.  The love quadrangle in the book only further illustrates Mary's strength.  She is determined not to settle.  Mary's character coupled with the suspense present throughout the book as to whether or not Mary will achieve her dream and just plain survive, makes for an engrossing read.  On the whole, I highly recommend picking this book up from the library and getting drawn into Mary's world.

Tracy's Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Tracy's Thoughts: 
I reviewed this book a while back, when I selected it for our Book Picks for Juniors and Young Adults list. I really enjoyed it then, and still remember it fondly. The reason for the less-than-perfect rating? For me, the book seemed to lose momentum midway through as I lost interest in Mary's romantic troubles altogether. It was really the claustrophobic, secretive community and Mary's unwavering determination to escape despite the perils that really grabbed me. That said, I love Carrie Ryan's writing in this book and the complex character of Mary. Here's what I had to say way back when:

If you enjoy bleak, heartbreaking, beautifully crafted horror stories look no further. Mary lives in a terrifying world surrounded by fences that are constantly under threat of attack by the Unconsecrated. The Unconsecrated are zombies, although the word is never used. Mary and the others of her village are taught that they are the world’s last survivors of a terrible virus and that they must follow the rules laid out by the Sisters if they wish to survive. But Mary dreams of another life, holding fast to her dream of seeing the ocean—her one glimmer of hope as she faces a series of tragedies and betrayals. I loved that this is not another glossy paranormal romance with a happy ending guaranteed. There is real tragedy here—people suffer, and people die. Mary is not a character that is always easy to root for; she is undeniably flawed, sometimes selfish, and often fickle. The conflict between Mary’s “duty,” her understandable fear of what lies beyond the fences, and her own dreams is what makes this story so memorable and—in spite of the zombies—relatable. Also, Ryan’s writing style has a wonderful flow and elegance to it, with a compulsive readability that will have you turning pages long into the night.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

REVIEW: Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Rating: 5/5 Stars
Audience: Young Adult/Teen
Genre: Realistic Fiction

Summary: Still reeling from her father's death, 17-year-old Amy Curry and Roger, a 19-year-old college student with troubles of his own, set out on a cross-country road trip from California to Connecticut. Along the way, they veer away from their tightly scheduled travel plan, taking detours that force Amy to face her own grief and fears.

Tracy's Thoughts:
Family dysfunction, drama, romance, adventure, laugh-out-loud humor, and some awesome playlists make Morgan Matson's debut novel an epic read indeed. This is a fast-paced book, but the characters' friendship builds slowly and believably. Being stuck in a car with a virtual stranger for hours on end could easily go very wrong very quickly, but Amy and Roger manage to build a special rapport, developing in-jokes, travel rituals, and shared experiences. Amy is struggling with her guilt over her father's death and feeling isolated from her mother and twin brother; Roger is still hung up on his ex and baffled by the sudden break-up. Tension builds as readers wonder where Amy and Roger will go next, how they will cope with their respective problems, and when/if they will confide in each other. Their conversations are fresh and real, and I quickly became invested in the characters because they felt so genuine and likeable. But that all sounds so serious! The magic of Amy and Roger is that it tackles the characters' true-to-life problems in a way that is fun, uplifting, and often very, very funny.

Also, there are whimsical cartoons, receipts from real hotels and diners (including Louisville's Brown Hotel!), and other items of interest interspersed throughout the book to document their journeyand enhance the story itself. And the playlists Amy and Roger (mostly Roger) create along the way, as I said, are awesome. They perfectly represent the characters and their journey, with selections ranging from Led Zeppelin, the Eagles, and Billy Joel to lesser-known indie acts like Alexi Murdoch, Damien Rice, and Owl City. I've made it a personal mission to track down music from "hip" unfamiliar bands like Jack's Mannequin and the Lucksmiths.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to teens (and the young at heart!), especially those who love a good road trip novel. What begins as a simple road trip from Point A (California) to Point B (Connecticut) becomes an adventure-filled, heartwarming journey as Amy and Roger embark on separate missions that somehow become intertwined. The travel details are authentic and seamlessly integrated into the story, and each of Amy and Roger's detours is important on its own while serving as an integral part of their journey as a whole.

Full disclosure: This book was checked out from the Bullitt County Public Library.

Monday, August 8, 2011

REVIEW: Another Monster at the End of this Book

Rating:4/5 Stars
Audience: Preschool/Toddler
Genre: Picture Book

Summary:  There is a "Monster" at the end of the book!  In this sequel to The Monster at the End of the Book, Elmo is added to the mix and helps Grover face the "Monster" that lives at the end of the book.

Lucinda's thoughts: Elmo is a good contrast to Grover and adds some funny variation on the theme of the Monster at the end of the book.  With added methods of preventing readers progression to the end of the book, Grover is his usual funny lovable self.  This book could also be used to show the concept of opposites, using the contrast of Elmo and Grover. 

REVIEW: Cold Vengeance

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Audience: Adult
Genre: Suspense/Mystery

Summary: Agent Pendergast continues the quest to answer the mystery of his wife's past  and the events that led her murder on the African savanna years ago. Ranging from the Scottish moors to the Louisiana bayous, Pendergast's quest will revisit old characters like Vincent D'Agosta and others. 

Lucinda's thoughts:  As a long-time reader and fan of Agent Pendergast and his antics I have looked forward to this book from the time I found out it was going to be published.  It did not disappoint.  With the cliff-hanging escapes and intellectual adventures that Preston & Child fans have come to expect, this book was a truly fun adventure.  While it will not win any book awards, this tome will thrill fans of Agent Pendergast and add a enjoyable chapter to the ongoing life of the fictional Agent Pendergast and his cohorts.

REVIEW: The Girl in the Steel Corset

Rating: 2/5 Stars
Audience: Young Adult/Teen
Genre: Steampunk

Summary:  After fighting off the advances of a wicked employer, Finley Jayne seeks to unite her dual supernatural nature with the help of a handsome, young duke, Griffin King,  who also shows signs of supernatural powers.  While attempting to reconcile her two halves, Finley attempts to thwart a plot to harm Victoria, the aging monarch and finds herself making some extraordinary new friends in the group that surrounds the Duke.

Lucinda's thoughts:  I picked up this book because I was intrigued by the title and the cover art. However, the book did not live up to the promise of its title or cover.  While an entertaining enough read, it fell flat with me.  I could not seem to get attached to any of the characters as their development was very superficial. In addition, there are too many of them to allow for any real attachments.  Of course, the fast paced fight scenes and kung-fu fisticuffs are entertaining and there is an evil plot to replace Queen Victoria with an automaton thrown into the mix.  On the whole, though, I was severely unimpressed by this book.  I would give it a pass and just admire the pretty cover art.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

New blog for the Bullitt County Public Library

Tracy and I had an idea to create a blog that would give patrons of the Bullitt County Public Library an idea about some of the books Tracy and I are reading that are available here at the library.  We hope to create a blog that would allow readers to provide opinions, summaries, and general discussion about any of the books we have posted about; as well as providing our patrons with a forum for some of their great reads. So stay tuned for some great reading ideas.........
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