Posts tagged family

Under the Egg

A great art history mystery…

Under the Egg by Laura Marx FitzgeraldUnder the Egg

Only two people know about the masterpiece hidden in the Tenpenny home — and one of them is dead. The other is Theodora Tenpenny. Theo is responsible for tending to the family’s two-hundred-year-old town house, caring for the flock of unwieldy chickens, and supporting her fragile mother, all on her grandfather’s legacy of $463. So, when Theo discovers a painting in the house that looks like a priceless masterpiece, she should be happy about it, but Theo’s late grandfather was a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and if the painting is as valuable as she thinks it is, then her grandfather wasn’t who she thought he was.

When Theo’s grandfather passes away, he leaves her with a mystery to figure out…”Look under the egg.” When she discovers what she thinks is an unknown, perhaps lost or stolen masterpiece, Theo discovers a completely different side to her grandfather. Armed with her knowledge of art history and a new best friend, Theo sets out to the museums of New York to find what’s really “under the egg”. The answer is closer than she knows. (more…)

The Glass Casket

Love, Death, and Magic

The Glass Casket by McCormick TemplemanThe Glass Casket

Death hasn’t visited Rowan Rose since it took her mother when Rowan was only a little girl. But that changes one bleak morning, when five horses and their riders thunder into her village and through the forest, disappearing into the hills. Days later, the riders’ bodies are found, and though no one can say for certain what happened in their final hours, their remains prove that whatever it was must have been brutal. Rowan’s village was once a tranquil place, but now things have changed. Something has followed the path those riders made and has come down from the hills, through the forest, and into the village. Beast or man, it has brought death to Rowan’s door once again. And this time, its appetite is insatiable.

This was a fantastic read from start to finish. The storyline itself has a very dark, fairy tale-like quality to it. Templeman’s writing is very vivid, splashing across the pages in vivid whites and reds. Definitely not for the faint of heart, but something to read well into the night. Despite being a very dark horror/fantasy driven plot, there’s a love story at its heart. Which begs the question…how far would you go to be with the one you love? All in all a very engaging read. This is Templeman’s second novel and I’ve read great reviews about her debut novel The Little Woods. It’s so hard to find great mysteries for young adults, so I’m looking forward to reading that as well. On a side note, I don’t know why it’s called The Glass Casket. From the cover and the title I expected a darker Snow White-ish retelling, but the glass casket does not factor in that much of the plot. If anyone else who reads this has any insight, let me know.

Age 13+

Publisher: Delacorte Press (February 2014)

ISBN: 9780385743457

Available as an eBook

Image from www.goodreads.com

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from the publisher.

"The Dragon's Tooth" book cover

Action-packed Fantasy (with a bit of history and mythology, too)

The Dragon’s Tooth by N. D. Wilson

In the middle of America (Wisconsin, to be precise), twelve-year-old Cyrus Smith and his older siblings Antigone and Daniel are living their everyday hum-drum lives. Of course, their version of “hum drum” involves living parent-less, managing a run-down motel, and eating pancakes for just about every meal while pretending to the outside world that all is well. But when a strange tattooed man claiming to know their deceased father shows up, a strange turn of events (and one wild taxi ride) takes them to Ashtown and the steps of the Order of Brendan, the secret society of famous explorers throughout history. Thrown headfirst into a world of conspiracy, secrets, and adventure, they fight to prove themselves and stay alive in what is a sometimes crazy, sometimes scary, and always entertaining journey.

N. D. Wilson, author of the 100 Cupboards series, has created an adventurous and magical world that could almost exist in your own backyard. Think Harry Potter but in America and with real historical people as characters. (more…)

julia karr - xvi

Everything Is Not What It Seems

XVI by Julia Karr (Book 1 XVI Series)

Every girl gets one. An XVI tattoo on the wrist—sixteen. They say they’re there for protection. Some girls can’t wait to be sixteen, to be legal. Nina is not one of them. Even though she has no choice in the matter, she knows that so long as her life continues as normal, everything will be okay. Then, with one brutal strike, Nina’s normal is shattered; and she discovers that nothing that she believed about her life is true. But there’s one boy who can help—and he just may hold the key to her past. But with the line between attraction and danger as thin as a whisper, one thing is for sure…for Nina, turning sixteen promises to be anything but sweet.

The year is 2150 and women’s rights and the freedoms we enjoy today (at the moment) are just a memory. The world that 15-year-old Nina Oberon lives in is frightening to me. Frightening because it’s all too plausible. The Governing Council controls the populace through the Media. Through the Media girls are “trained” to become a sex-teen when they turn sixteen. There’s even a guide for this transition. How to dress and act to attract guys. Girls become adults at sixteen, identified by a tattoo on the wrist – XVI. This becomes an invitation (unwanted or not) that girls are ready for sex. Girls don’t have many choices, they either marry above them or get accepted into the FeLS (Female Liaison Specialists) program. (more…)

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“If you had one day left to live, what would you do?”

Fracture by Megan Miranda (Book 1 Fracture Series)

By the time Delaney Maxwell was pulled from a Maine lake’s icy waters by her friend, Decker Phillips, her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead. But somehow Delaney survived—despite the brain scans that show irreparable damage. Everyone wants Delaney to be fine, but she knows she’s far from normal. Pulled by strange sensations she can’t control or explain, Delaney now finds herself drawn to the dying, and when she meets Troy Varga, a boy who recently emerged from a coma with the same abilities, she is relieved to share this strange new existence. Unsure if her altered brain is predicting death or causing it, Delaney must figure out if their gift is a miracle, a freak of nature—or something else much more frightening….

The plot of this novel is very similar to The Body Finder Series by Kimberly Derting, but has thrilling psychological aspects that make it unique. The story is told from Delaney Maxwell’s POV as she tries to navigate the ups and downs of life after death, literally. Fracture is an apt title in many respects. Throughout the story we see the fracturing of Delaney’s home life, friendships, and her own sanity. (more…)

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

History Turns Into Itself in This Newbery Winner

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Jack Gantos has a whole summer planned full of baseball, history books, and war movies when suddenly, caught in the middle of his quarreling parents, he becomes “grounded for life,” ruining everything. Even though he lives in the dying town of Norvelt (originally founded by Eleanor Roosevelt to help poor families) and there’s not much to do, when his mom volunteers him to help an aging neighbor type up the town’s obituaries, he’s less than thrilled. Soon, though, Jack finds himself absorbed in the town’s history and the “original” Norvelters, as his spunky neighbor calls them, and he’ll do anything to get out of house arrest and over to help her in her task. Soon he’s involved not only with the obituaries but in a feud with an old man who ride’s a trike, play-acting the Grim Reaper, distributing Girl Scout cookies, digging a fake bomb shelter, and a near-constant nose bleed, not to mention a potential murder. Suddenly his summer is anything but dull!

Described as “melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional,” Dead End in Norvelt is a most-times funny and sometimes heart-breaking story of a boy coming of age in an old town past its prime full of wacky yet believable characters. Both darker and lighter themes blend with Gantos’ humor as Jack finds himself imbedded in nearly everything going on in town. The relationships between Jack’s parents and himself are enough to fill a book, but author Gantos has woven an entire town’s worth of personalities and interactions together seamlessly. (more…)

It's Milking Time

A Beautiful & Authentic Midwestern Picture Book

It’s Milking Time by Phyllis Alsdurf, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher

In the interest of full disclosure, I feel I should tell you something: I fell in love with It’s Milking Time before I opened it.

Based on author Phyllis Alsdurf’s own childhood on a Midwestern dairy farm, this book has a lyrical story, a description of the daily chores a daughter shares with her father each evening as they milk and take care of their cows. Each two-page spread is a beautiful illustration that supports Alsdurf’s simple, straightforward narrative, a step-by-step introduction to evening tasks on a small family dairy farm. The story goes beyond that, though, sharing not only chores but the loving relationship between a father and daughter as well as the relationship between humans and animals.

So you won’t think I’m overly infatuated with this book (and maybe I am), I’ll let you in on a secret: I showed this book to an authentic dairy farm girl, and she loved it too. My soon-to-be Mother in Law grew up on her father’s Wisconsin dairy farm, and she gave It’s Milking Time her official seal of approval and accuracy. (more…)

No Safety in Numbers

Let’s Go to the Mall!

No Safety in Numbers by Dayna Lorentz (Book One TBA Trilogy)

(Review based on Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of the book.)

Hundreds of people go to the mall everyday, but for 4 teens, a trip to the mall could be deadly. Marco, Lexi, Shay and Ryan have come to the mall for reasons all their own. Marco works as a busboy at a mall restaurant. After being chased by school bullies in the parking garage, he discovers a device attached to the AC unit for the mall. Lexi is out with her parents for some family time, which rarely happens because her mother is a state senator. Shay just wanted to escape the house her family has just moved into, but she had to come with her grandmother and sister. Ryan is running an errand for his older brother, a QB for the local football team, of which he is a member too.

Told from alternating points of view from these four teens, we start to get a picture of what each of them is like and how they handle the situation at hand as their world descends into chaos. We also start to get a feel for each of their personalities, which I hope the author will delve into more in the remaining two books in the trilogy.

The tagline for this trilogy in “Contagion meets Lord of the Flies in a mall that looks just like yours.” I haven’t read LOTF, yet, however I know the story. I thought Contagion was a huge bore. My favorite disease on the loose move is Outbreak. Dustin Hoffman rocks! Sorry, getting off topic a bit. (more…)

Starters

What If Your Mind & Body Were No Longer Your Own?

Starters by Lissa Price (book one in Starters series)

Review based on an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC)

In a dystopian world in which only the very old and very young have survived, sixteen-year-old Callie is trying to make it on the streets while taking care of her sick younger brother. After the Spore Wars tore the country apart–only the weakest members of society, old and young, received the limited vaccine and survived–there was a strong division between rich and poor. Starters (the young) have virtually no rights, while Enders (adults age sixty through their hundreds) control all. Callie is an unclaimed Starter, legally unable to take a job and with no surviving parents or grandparents as guardian, giving her and her brother little choice but to squat in abandoned buildings to avoid being rounded up and sent to a terrible institutions.

When Callie hears of a company willing to pay Starters under the table, she ends up at Prime Destinations where, with the technology of a neurochip, Elders can “rent” the bodies of Starters for recreation and be young again. Creepy? Yes. Easy money? So it seems. But when Callie’s neurochip malfunctions and she wakes up in the middle of a rental–in her own body but with the belongings and credentials of a wealthy Ender–she discovers that she has been rented for a malicious, illegal purpose, and the high-suspense race to the truth begins. (more…)

The Great Wide Sea

Surviving Stormy Seas & Family Alike

The Great Wide Sea by M. H. Herlong

When their mom is killed in a car accident, fifteen-year-old Ben Byron and his younger brothers Dylan and Gerry are devastated, struggling to put the pieces of their family back together even as their own father becomes distant. Unable to cope with the pain of memory, their father packs them off to Florida where he buys a 30-foot sailboat and insists that the family–broken as it is–sail around the Bahamas for one year. Ben is beyond angry at the loss of first his mother and now his familiar everyday life. Not only must he take care of Dylan and Gerry as his dad remains emotionally absent, but now he must follow the “captain’s” orders, maintaining the boat day in and day out in the middle of nowhere. Things are shaky at best between Ben and his father, and in these close quarters, tension and frustration flare. When the three brothers discover their father missing one morning in the middle of the ocean, they work together to try to find him until a storm carries them off course, shipwrecking them on a small, deserted island with little for food our resources. It becomes up to Ben and his brothers to survive the elements while piecing together their lives and relationships with one another, all the while hoping for a rescue.

The Great Wide Sea is a book of survival and force of will, but it is also a book of emotional frailty and relationships, focusing on a fractured family of boys and men, a husband who has lost his wife and children who have lost their mother and, for a time, any connection to their father. Herlong creates a compelling narrative on multiple levels in this coming-of-age story about resilience, love, and hope.

(more…)

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