Monday, December 31, 2007

Dragonhaven by Robin McKinley

I love teen fantasy and was really hoping this book would be great, but I've found I can't even get through it. The problem is that Jake, the teen narrator, is telling the story of what already happened to him when he went on an overnight camping trip in his father's nature preserve and discovered a dying dragon. He rescued her baby dragon which of course imprinted on him as the mother. I love the premise for this story, but Jake is soooo long winded in telling it. He repeats himself over and over. I can just hear some of my teen boys who should love this story crying out "but nothing happens!" It just goes on and on and on. Nay!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Betwixt by Tara Bray Smith

Betwixt intertwines a complex maze of dust, fey, other world connectedness, teenage angst, and characters who know themselves yet are scared of their own strengths and power. Mystery, relationships, independence, love and fear spin throughout the story. The writing is well crafted. The characters' responses and intuitions, consequences and narrative lead the reader into the unveiling truths and evolving roles and power shared by the main three characters. Intentions and motivations are not always clear and the story feels deliberately unresolved.

I would offer the book to teens who enjoy a complex story and who aren't looking for a feel good book. Great cover. It is a strong debut YA novel, but not really possessing a timeless quality for Thumbs Up.


Head Case by Sarah Aronson

This book is about a head, well, Frank's head that is. He was the cause of a terrible accident that killed a man and his girlfriend and left him paralyzed from the neck down. He was drinking so many people think he should be in jail instead of at home. I really thought this book was terrible. No character development to speak of. It is a quick read. There is a website where people post their opinions about Frank and why he should be in jail. One anymous poster supports him and that is sort of a mystery throughout. Nay x's 1000!

Carpe Diem by Autumn Cornwell

Vassar Spore's Dad is a Efficiency Expert and her Mom is a Life Coach and they want Vassar to go to...yes, you guessed it Vassar. Vassar (the girl) has her life planned out years in advance and nothing will mess it up, until her Grandma blackmails her parents to send Vassar to Asia to help her during the summer. Vassar hates the idea, but of course, begins to live more on-the-edge like her artistic and flighty Grandma. The characters are really unlikeable and exaggerated, so NAY for me.

General Winston's Daughter by Sharon Shinn

This is a huge YAY for me. Averie travels to the wild land of Chiarrin to be near her father, General Winston, and her fiance Morgan, who is moving up the ranks in their military. Unlike most of her people, Averie wants to immerse herself in this new culture and befriends a Chiarrin girl who becomes her maid. Averie is a smart girl, except she has been extremely sheltered and now she realizes how different the world is that she thought. Different perspectives on imperialism are show through the Averie's family, the Chiarrin maid and Lieutenant Ket Du'kai, a handsome (of course) man whose own land was overtaken by a larger nation. The different lands are extremely well-done by Shinn and I was totally lost in this novel that is really a romance, but could also appeal to some fantasy fans. YAY.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Something Rotten by Alan Gratz

NAY. I won't bore you with too many details, but Horatio, our narrator, is a wise-cracking, supposedly smart kid who finds himself in the midst of a thoroughly predictable caper taking place in the fictional paper mill empire of Denmark, Tennessee. The Prince family's patriarch is dead, and uncle Claude married sexy Trudy, the widow, and Hamilton deals with seeing his father's last message to him on a security camera by getting drunk and dumping his girlfriend, Olivia, who is an environmental activist concerned about the toxic waste being dumped by the plant into the Copenhagen river.

The language isn't realistic, the characters are flat, and there isn't a plot twist in sight. This one might entertain someone who just read Hamlet.. if they like picking up on parodied names, and getting the little "jokes" sprinkled through the story.

T.W.O.C. by Graham Joyce

Matt and his older brother Jake used to steal cars together. Now after Jake dies in a car accident that Matt was involved in, Matt is haunted by Jake's ghost. He continues to steal cars and gets sent away to a rehab camp where he, of course, unites in an unlikely friendship with the only two other campers there. They strike out together and Matt finally gets closure on the accident and figures out exactly what happened that night.
I liked it better than I thought I would, but it's a NAY. Keep it around for guys who like cars? FYI: it's filled with an awful lot of British slang.

Time of the Eagle by Sherryl Jordan

Avala is the daughter of two healers from two very different societies. She grows up in her mother's nomadic tribe and eventually leaves to fulfill her destiny of uniting four tribes in an uprising against the evil emperor. It was a good enough read, and didn't suffer for being a sequel, but it's no award-winner. NAY, but keep it around to give to the readers who liked Clan of the Cavebear and that sort of thing.

Zane's Trace by Allan Wolf

Zane Guesswind has a tough life: a family riven by mental illness, substance abuse and suicide, plus his own epilepsy and grief. To exorcise his demons, Zane writes obsessively with permanent markers on his bedroom walls and later on the dashboard of the 1969 Barracuda he commandeers and drives to Zanesville, Ohio. There he plans to shoot himself at his mother's graveside with the heirloom pistol she used to kill herself. En route, he meets the intriguing Libba and assorted characters who each hold a piece of the puzzle that is Zane. (From
This book was confusing and hard to follow, but painted a good image of how mental illness can effect those both directly and indirectly involved. I thought that there was a lot of stream-of-consciousness writing to it. It did not appeal to me and has hardly been checked out at my library, so it must not appeal to many teens either. I give it a NAY.

Slam by Nick Hornby

Boy: 16, likes to skate, skateboard that is. Worships Tony Hawk, even has a poster in his room that he talks to, but no, he's not a mental case. Then, his girlfriend gets pregnant and wants to keep the baby. That is basically the novel, he has flash forwards to what his future will be. A good book, that teen boys will probably enjoy, but overall, I say Nay.

In the Name of God by Paula Jolin

Nadia is a Syrian teen who always wanted to live a devout Muslim life, but gradually gets drawn into her cousin's more radical thinking until by the end of the book she is ready to be a suicide bomber. I won't spoil the ending, and there's a lot of other stuff going on with family dynamics and a surprise twist about who has ratted out whom to the authorities and why. An intriguing point of view that we don't usually get to hear much about, but it wasn't particularly well-written, so I gave it a NAY. I'm very curious to see what others think of this one, though.

How Ya Like Me Now by Brendan Halpin

After Eddie's dad dies, his mom descends into drug addiction, but he managed to keep the household going until his mom loses everything and ends up in rehab. This sends Eddie to live with his aunt and uncle in Boston, where he attends a challenging alternative high school in the inner city where he and his cousin are two of the only white kids.
And.... that's about it. It doesn't seem like anything really happens, or Eddie or his cousin change too much. His mom inevitably gets out of rehab and gets back in touch and everything ends up predictably. NAY.

The Whole Sky Full of Stars by Rene Saldana

Barry and Alby have been best friends since kindergarten, and now Alby is in trouble with loan sharks but doesn't feel he can tell Barry about it. He does, however, feel he can exploit Barry's boxing talent by conning him into fighting in a cage match and acting as his manager so they can split the money.
Even though this is a super skinny book and a quick read, it didn't hold my interest enough to finish it. The two main characters are so broadly drawn -- Alby's a weasel, Barry's a ridiculously stand-up guy trying to help his mom since his dad died -- that it wasn't worth the time. NAY.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Fire From the Rock

Sylvia Patterson is shocked and confused when she is asked to be one of the first black students to attend Central High School, which is scheduled to be integrated in September 1957, whether the citizens or governor of Arkansas like it or not. Before Sylvia makes her final decision, smoldering racial tension in the town ignites into flame. When the smoke clears, she sees clearly that nothing is going to stop the change from coming. It is up to her generation to make it happen, in as many different ways as there are colors in the world.
I do think this is a good book, but there is something about it that is preventing me from giving it an enthusiastic yay. Draper addresses many issues in this book such as segregation/integration, racial hatred towards both Black and Jewish people, friendship between a Black teen and a Jewish teen, non-violent father and militant son, first love, and making tough decisions and she created a main character who is strong and likeable. My main problem is that I think some of the situations in this book seem a little unbelievable to me (like the fire for instance). I can't wait to hear how others feel about this one. For now, I give it a MAYBE.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Taken by Edward Bloor

Bloor takes on lots of social issues here in a story about a kidnapped teen. As the disparity between the rich and poor grow, kidnappings in the year 2035 become commonplace. Despite strong security, Charity wakes to find herself in an ambulance with some strange captors. Bloor creates a very exciting tale, though some plot elements were just too simple and the social commentary just didn't quite ring true to me. Decent read but a NAY.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Angel Isle by Peter Dickinson

This is a sequel to The Ropemaker, but takes place 20 generations later. Saranja returns to her decimated homeland after some type of magical catastrophe. There she realizes that the epic tales from her childhood are true, and that she, along with cousin Maja and a young man named Ribek, must seek out The Ropemaker to reign in the people performing bad magic.
I found this book to be long, tedious, and boring. I didn't care about any of the characters, didn't like the references to the magical Ropemaker and his clan of magicians (made little sense without the original), and I really don't see the teen appeal. Nay.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Leap of Faith by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Abigail is kicked out of school for stabbing a bully. No one listens to her side of the story and it happens that the bully is the principal's son. She is sent to a Catholic school and though she is told she doesn't have to become Catholic, she decides to in order to anger her parents who never listen to her. By the end, she really does believe in God, forgiveness and redemption. I think it was a bit heavy handed. I give it a nay.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Strange Relations by Sonia Levitin

Marne is a non religious Jew who goes to Hawaii for the summer and stays with her aunt's Lubavitch family. She had wanted a summer in paradise but ends up helping out with her aunt's day camp, doing decidely unparadise kinds of stuff and learning all about how the ultra religious live, with rules and blessings for everything. She meets a boy which complicates things a bit. While I found this a good book and like the things Marne learns, there were a couple of issues I have with it. First of all, since I'm Jewish, I could understand most of what was going on in the family. I don't know if non-Jewish teens could make sense of it all. Marne wasn't always a likeable character, not that she had to be but, what did she expect inviting herself to live with a family with 7 kids? Finally, there was a whole side issue about Marne's sister who was kidnapped and never found. It seems to have been added to get Marne to understand God's agenda, but somehow, it seemed unnecessary. Nay

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

For Now by Gayle Friesen

I have both positive and negative thoughts about his but I think there is enough good to give it a YAY. Jes' family is becoming "blended", with her step-dad and step-sister moving in. Jes is funny and incredibly cynical and is amazingly truthful about her family's situation. This is such an honest and completely clear look at divorce and how everyone is affected. I though Jes and her friends were well constructed characters and brought a great reality to this novel.

Unfortunately, some odd things are left out and it almost seems like a sequel. Still, it is a YAY.

Not LIke You by Deborah Davis

15-year old Kayla and her mom move to a small town in the desert to start over. However, her Mom still struggles with alcoholism and Kayla finds refuge in a questionable relationship with an older guy. This has been done a thousand times before so, NAY.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Unwind by Neal Shusterman is a definite YES! I found myself thinking about it and telling people about it as I was reading it. The premise is pretty basic--a not-too distant future where abortion is illegal but teens can be harvested for their organs up to the age of 18, a process called "unwinding". As a result, there's a lot of runaway "unwinds" and a whole lot of juvey cops chasing them. Connor, Risa, and Lev form an unlikely trio of runaways who overcome many obstacles and dangerous, action-packed situations leading to a dramatic climax. Although the premise is grim, there's funny parts, too. It really made me think and I think teens will definitely enjoy it. YES!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sam is a likeable character who loves skateboarding and Tony Hawk ( a famous skateboarder) who hangs in his room on a poster. Sam worships him so much that he actually talks to the poster. But no, he's not mentally unstable. His life is going great until his ex-girlfriend Alicia tells him that she's pregnant and keeping the baby. Sam's own mother was 16 when she had him so it sort of runs in his family.
I finished this story in one day. The setting is England and is Hornby's first novel for young adults. I found the novel appealing and the English setting didn't detract from the story. While I would recommend to teens, I didn't think it was award worthy. I give it a Nay.

The Black Book of Secrets by F.E. Higgins

Ludlow runs away from his abusive drunken parents in 19th-century London, climbs onto the back of a cart, ends up in a small mountainside town with a corrupt mayor, and takes up with a pawnbroker named Joe...but not just any pawnbroker--the Secret Pawnbroker, who acts as a confessional for all the skeletons in the closets of the townspeople. Ludlow's job is to write these confessions down in the Black Book of Secrets, where they are kept forever.

This is kind of a fun little read, but the narration, alternating between first-person told by Ludlow, third-person bits of story about life in the town, and first-person confessions from various townspeople (the butcher, the baker, the bookseller...I kept waiting for a chapter on the confessions of the candle-stick-maker) got confusing. Not a bad book to be snowed in with, but not an award-winner either. Having read much better, NAY.

Frannie in Pieces: Save the Blues for Last by Delia Ephron

After Frannie's artist father dies, she finds a handmade jigsaw puzzle in his studio that she assumes was a birthday present (early for once) for her. She keeps the puzzle a secret from her mom and stepdad and works it late at night, when things start to get weird and she finds herself in the puzzle. By day she's stuck working at a summer day camp, a job that her mom has foisted upon her, and making up with her best friend, with whom she's estranged basically for just having a boyfriend.
I won't give any spoilers as to what Frannie finds in the puzzle and how it (of course) helps her deal with her father's death and reconcile with her mother. But I will say that I just didn't buy the magical realism. This book should have either just dealt with a girl dealing with her father's death, or it should have gone all the way into the mystical instead of leaving us trudging through chapters about the annoying fellow counselors at the camp. NAY.

Stoneheart by Charlie Fletcher

In a moment of anger, George breaks off the stone head of a dragon at a London museum and thus enters the world of un-London. Statues and gargoyles come to life and they are after George and what he now has. A statue of a solider arrives to help him through the new world and he also meets Edie, who is also of this world but doesn't know her place in it. It is a neat concept and done fairly well with some cool creatures, but there was nothing really special here so I give it a NAY.

The Chaos Code by Justin Richards

The Chaos Code is a Da Vinci Code-type adventure featuring 15-year old Matt and his archaeologist father. Matt is stuck staying with his dad during vacation, but his dad is missing, someone trashed the house and someone or something ambushes Matt. The teen then finds clues that lead him to stay with his Aunt and then to an adventure around the globe looking for a long lost treasure and his father. Decent book, but it dragged in the middle as Richards set up the ending and stereotypical bad guy, so...NAY.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Quaking by Kathryn Erskine

Quaking captures Matt's intensity as she moves to yet another home of a distant relative. Abused, isolated, bereft after her mother's death she tries to remain inconspicuous, flees from bullies, and cowers from conflict. And then she doesn't.

Erskine's writing is amazing and I could palpably feel Matt's panic and anxiety that alternates between paralysis and flailing. I also admire her stance against the war propaganda her Civics teacher seeks to entrench in his students.

I'd like to discuss this book with the group as I am aware of my leanings toward this topic (opposite to my aversion to THE PROM topic), so I acknowledge my bias. YAY for now.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Swan Maiden by Heather Tomlinson

(Forgive me, I know this isn't my group, but it was already on my bedside table. I can remove this if it's a problem)

This is a perfectly readable fantasy about a girl with a controlling mother and powerful sisters with cloaks of swans down, who get to go off and learn to be sorcerers while she learns to be a chatelaine at home. This sucks, until she discovers that she, too, is a swan maiden, and her cloak was hidden under her parents' bedding. This precipitates a marriage proposal from the local poor shepherd she's been crushing on, a trip to her feminist aunt's castle to complete her education, and a shocking realization that her mom is an evil *****. Entertaining, but nothing special, so NAY.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

How It's Done by Christine Kole MacLean

I thought this book was very good but a little old for Thumbs Up! I felt like it was an identity/coming of age story for older teens (16/17 - 19) or adults in their 20s. MAYBE for me; I'm curious what others think.

A Synopsis of this book (by me):
This is a good story about a high school senior, 18 year old Grace, learning who she is & finding herself - which she does with the help of her new boyfriend, Michael, a professor at a local college. She doesn't have a sense of who she is partly because her father is a very religious and conservative Christian - so she is always told what she believes until she meets Michael and he asks her if she really believes the same things. When her father finds out about their relationship he permits her to see him once more to end things. When she tells Michael that her father wants her to end the relationship, he decides they should get married. After they are engaged, she decides to have sex with him (she was a virgin). During their engagement she worries she may be pregnant (once again struggling with who she is and her beliefs) and worries that Michael may not be the right person to spend the rest of her life with & that she might not be ready for that & that her life will pattern her mothers (where the husband tells the wife what to do; wife is in the shadows).

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Beastly by Alex Flinn

Okay, I love Beauty and the Beast. It's my favorite archetypal tale. But do we really need this many retellings? Yet another one here, and not that memorable. Beast is a spoiled NYC rich kid, and when he gets transformed by the witch (who, of course, is the pudgy unattractive new girl in school) his dad freaks out and basically buys him his own brownstone in Brooklyn so he doesn't have to deal with him. And Beauty is the unpopular girl who turns out to have a huge crush on this jerk just because he gave her a rose corsage that his bitchy girlfriend didn't want. Blech. NAY.

Picture Perfect by D. Anne Love

Okay, so here's the other book I couldn't remember a thing about. Once again courtesy of Amazon: Phoebe is about to start high school when her mother works her way up in her cosmetic sales job so ridiculously fast that she basically goes away on a business trip and decides not to come home. While Phoebe wrestles with her mother's abandonment of the family, an interesting woman moves in next door and starts getting friendly with her dad, which worries Phoebe. Okay, now I'm remembering things... her dad's a judge, and he tries a hotbed of a case that gets people in the small Texas town accosting him (drama!), and Phoebe's really whiny. Broad brushstrokes, not that interesting a story. NAY.

Bloom by Elizabeth Scott

Wow. Even after reading the description on Amazon, I still barely remember reading this book. Apparently, Lauren is not very popular, but is dating one of the most popular boys in school, which she thinks should bring her happiness and of course doesn't. However, Mr. Popular is secretly celibate, and basically only likes being with Lauren because she doesn't pressure him into having sex. Then the synopsis tells me that she has an affair with the mysterious Evan, who was her stepbrother at some point. Since this book left zero impression on me, even with a soap opera storyline like that, it's definitely a NAY.

Good As Lily by Derek Kirk Kim & Jesse Hamm

On Grace's 18th birthday, she is sold a pinata by a mysterious old woman in the park, and apparently what it ends up containing is Grace herself: at ages 6, 29, and 70. Hilarity and insight ensues as Grace tries to hide them from her parents and explain them away as relatives to her friends, and in the process ends up healing the pieces of herself that need healing in each of her aspects. It's a charming story, but not award-worthy. Also, the story barely touches on the source of the title, which is that Grace never feels as good as Lily, her older sister who died when Grace was six. A nice read, but a NAY.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Soul Eater by Michelle Paver

Well, this book is #3 in a sequel. I read the first 47 pages and was a little interested in the story but it was very obvious that it was a sequel - too many things left open. So it's a NAY for me.

The Silenced by James DeVita

In this futuristc dystopian novel, it is after the Millenium War and the Zero Tolerance government is cracking down on young people, encouraging a completely homogenous society. Marina and her two friends begin a grafitti campaign encouraging resistance as the government and school crack down even further.
There's lots of suspense and twists and turns, but the characters are pretty predictable. The most interesting part of the book is the afterword, in which the author talks about the White Rose, the resistance group that stood up to the Nazis upon which the book is based. MAYBE for now; I'd like to hear what others think.

The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod: Eighth Grade Bites by Heather Brewer

Vlad had enough trouble with eighth grade without the added problems that come with being a vampire. He's the product of a marriage between a vampire (his dad) and a human (his mom), both of whom mysteriously died (or did they?) in a fire three years ago. With the disappearance of Vlad's English teacher, the arrival of a very odd substitute, and a black-clad stranger who seems to be after him, Vlad's life turns very exciting very quickly.
It's a cute story, and a good way to give something more age appropriate to the younger set who are interested in vampires, but it didn't grab me enough to finish it. NAY, but make sure it's on your shelves.

My Swordhand Is Singing by Marcus Sedgwick

Peter and his father Tomas are woodcutters who have moved around a lot and finally settled down outside the small village of Chust in the great eastern European forests. Strange things start to happen and the dead don't seem to stay dead and Peter must finally confront his father and the secret he's been keeping from Peter all his life.
It's a quick read, and a fine little gothic tale, and a nice return to the true origins of vampire stories. I'd recommend it to readers with a taste for the creepy, but I don't think it's an award winner. NAY.

Back Talk by Alex Richards

Gemma gets to leave Idaho for the big city to work a dream internship at a hot TV show in New York City. She of course has ridiculously wealthy roommates and is trying to fit in. Think Gossip Girls or Devil Wears Prada -- only without a lick of any redeeming qualities whatsoever. A big, huge NAY. In fact, it's such a big NAY that I'm making an executive decision and pulling it from the list to save y'all the time.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

Oooh! This one is good. Hale based this book on the Grimm fairy tale "Maid Maleen", but really came up with a story that felt new and vibrant. Dashti is maid to Lady Saren and finds on her first day of employment that she and Saren are to be locked in a tower for seven years. Dashti is a true and loyal servant, spending much of her time trying to make life bearable. She discovers as time goes on that her lady is mentally fragile and has been terrified by something that happened in her past. Dashti must use her own wits and fortitude for their very survival.
I really like this book. The prose was lyrical, the characters were fully dimensional, and the romance was convincing. YAY!

Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy

Alice Tully is living a secret life. Six years ago, three little girls went out to play, but only two came back. One of the friends, JJ, was convicted of the crime but released when she turns seventeen. She was given a new name and life, one that was finally free of the fear and abandonment that shaped herearly years. But now the media is revisiting the story, a shady detective has turned up in Croydon looking for JJ, and Alice finds that her old life might always come back to haunt her.

This book was good and creepy. Cassidy doesn't shy away from seedier imagery and makes few excuses for JJ's behavior. It is a good character study, a swift read, and high interest. Yay.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Freak by Marcella Pixley

Twelve year-old Miriam is bullyed by the popular girls at her middle school. She is an ugly duckling with a popular, pretty older sister who fails to support her against the bullys. All of the other characters are older than Miriam so I didn't feel the book was too young. I just didn't like anyone in this book, but I think it makes a great point in how to stand up for yourself. So for now, a maybe.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Bullyville by Francine Prose

Bart's family (his mother and himself) gain national attention when he is sick from school and his mother stays home with him which is on September 11th. So, his mother's life is spared but unfortunately, his two timing dad was in the towers that day. Bart is offered a scholarship to the Baileywell Academy which is notorious for bullying. So, we have a story about bullying which in my opinion, isn't really well done. Bart is in 8th grade and this would be for younger ya's. Big Nay for me.

Gym Candy by Carl Deuker

A great read for football fans. The author has some great play by plays that make the reader feel like you are right on the sidelines. Mick Johnson is a running back and football is his life. He will do anything to stay on varsity, including taking steroids. Deuker does an excellent job of character development and Mick's character is very raw and real. The reader experiences the journey that an athlete takes by beginning steriods and getting hooked. Boys will really respond to this book and I hope it is on the top 20. The ending is very climatic. Huge YAY.

All-In by Pete Hautman

I thought this was solid - don't know about award-worthy. Will definitely appeal to poker players; however, I did think the poker theme/poker terminology might make it difficult for non-poker players (younger teens & teens that don't know anything about poker). A MAYBE for me right now.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Echo by Kate Morgenroth

Echo is the story of a boy who was present, and perhaps more, at the tragic death of his little brother. A year later, his life is a living hell, and he decides to end it all after a particularly horrible incident at school. This book turns into a groundhog day-like situation with escalating confusion (or enlightenment) about what really happened, both at school and in the original incident. There's a bit of a let down twist at the end with a very modern issue being high-lighted.

UPDATE: At first I wrote that it was a maybe, but I was distracted at the time, and had completely forgotten about the scene that really disturbed me with the gay teen in the bathroom. It was never clear that this scene had actually happened, but it felt exploitative and unnecessary. NAY.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

One Good Punch by Rich Wallace

This book is short.. very short. A boy must decide whether or not to tell the truth when he's busted for drugs in his locker. His decision could either ruin the life of his childhood friend, or ruin his chances of running track in a good university, getting out of town, and making a life for himself. Oh, and his possibly lesbian friend from forever really wants to have sex with him but he's to weirded out and doesn't want to. Chapters of the book are devoted to descriptions of what it feels like to run up and down hills, and obituaries of people who have lived their whole lives in the dying city of Scranton.

It's a guy book, I guess. I had trouble relating to the character, I think the author was trying for average and came up with sort of bland instead. Some sections of the book rang true.. and his parents aren't alcoholic but the story spends more time with his friend Joey's parents, who are. I'm giving it a NAY.

The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney by Suzanne Harper

I was so inspired by yesterday's meeting I read the rest of the book last night, and I am happy to report that its a YAY. Sparrow is a girl who has gotten very good at keeping secrets and yearns for a "normal" life, one without nagging from beyond the grave, six crazy sisters, a grandmother who enjoys jujitsu, and a mother who can't pay her bills and a father who disappeared long ago. She thinks she can start fresh in a new high school, but a handsome poltergeist shows up demanding to be heard, so she's forced to change tactics, and slowly realizes that a web of lies will not a clear conscience make. Excellent clean fair, though its certainly aimed at a female crowd.

The authors undercuts the timelessness of the tale with brand dropping (Lucha Libre, which is soooo outdated, and Victoria's Secret) and one major typo (years instead of ears), but the story is strong and the characters of Sparrow, her ghosts, and Jack, the surly kid at school are sympathetic and interesting. Its a solid story on it's own but leaves definite room for the further adventures of Sparrow, psychic wonder.