Tag Archives: ARC

this world we live in by Susan Beth Pfeffer [ARC]

I have been a fan of the Moon Crash Trilogy since before it was even called the Moon Crash Trilogy…  Since before it was approved to become a trilogy, even!  I have been following Susan Beth Pfeffer’s blog — http://susanbethpfeffer.blogspot.com — for a couple of years now, and I have been anxiously following the development of this world we live in since she first mentioned approaching her editor with the idea for a follow-up story.  I have done my best to stay away from the spoilers on the blog, and I have waited as patiently as possible, but the wait is finally over!  I received my ARC on Monday, and I finished it last night…  Let me just say, “Whoa!”  Even though the other two books have some freaky disasters and frightening situations, this book definitely takes the cake.  I will do my best to give you a decent idea of the story without giving away too much of the plot…  And, if you know me, I may even lend you the ARC so you can see for yourself before the March 31, 2010, release!

It’s been almost a year since the fateful day when the moon was hit by a meteor.  Modern day conveniences, like electricity and running water, still haven’t been fully restored.  No one knows if they ever will.  Miranda, her mother, and her brothers (Jon and Matt) are doing the best they can to survive on the meager supplies of canned foods they get from Town Hall every week.  They’re fortunate that they have a wood stove to keep them from freezing to death, since the shift in climate meant that winter started in about August and still hasn’t let up — even though it would normally be spring by now.  They’re especially lucky to have each other, since so many people have died from cold, sickness, and starvation already.  Jon and Matt do the majority of the wood chopping, and Miranda helps her mom with upkeep tasks like cooking and cleaning.  With occasional trips to forage for supplies in abandoned houses, they are getting by… but barely.

Jon and Matt decide to go on a fishing trip to bolster their food supplies, and return with a bit more than just fish.  Matt met a girl (Syl) during this 3 day trip, and the two have already “exchanged vows,” thus considering themselves married.  Adding this extra person to the family creates a whole lot of tension, since food supplies are already scarce, but Matt insists that he loves Syl and she is not going anywhere.  It seems, however, that adding Syl to the equation is practically nothing compared to when their father (Hal) returns with his new wife (Lisa), their baby (Gabriel), and three of their traveling companions (Charlie, Alex, and Julie).  With six more mouths to feed, everyone starts to worry that the food will run out in no time.  Will they be able to find enough food in abandoned houses?  Or will they find a way to get more food from the town?  Will they have to leave Howell in search of a better-functioning city after all?

People who read the first two books will be glad to learn a lot more about what happened to characters from both Life As We Knew It and the dead & the gone…  And people who haven’t read the first two books should go back and start reading them NOW!  Seriously…  Don’t start this book until you’ve read the first two!  You’ll thank me later.

Happy Reading!

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr (ARC)

Well, I had this and read it before it was released, but it seems that my laziness caused my post to be a couple of months after it hit the bookstore shelves. Nevertheless, this book ROCKS and I have been recommending it to people who enjoyed Sara Zarr’s other book, Story of a Girl.

Jennifer and Cameron were childhood friends… Basically, they only had each other. So, when Cameron suddenly disappeared, Jennifer was heartbroken. All of the other kids at school told her that Cameron was dead, and her mom only said, “I’m sorry.” instead of denying it, so Jennifer thought it had to be true. Fast forward to high school. Jennifer is now “Jenna,” and she is the polar-opposite of her childhood self. No longer fat and a social outcast, she still can’t stop thinking of Cameron. So, when he shows back up in her life, she is not really sure what to think or do. How do you handle a situation like this? I don’t think I would have done any better than Jenna… What about you?

Happy Reading!

the dead & the gone (td&tg) by Susan Beth Pfeffer [ARC]

td&tg coverLet me just start off by saying that Susan Beth Pfeffer is completely, amazingly awesome for passing along the ARCs of td&tg to fans (like me) who have been dying to read this follow-up to LAWKI! I literally screamed and then jumped up and down — in the middle of my library! — when I found out I was among the chosen few to receive an ARC. Now that I am finally done reading it, the ARC is making its way through the hands of the other YS librarians, but I will certainly loan it to anyone else who stops by the library and asks. For the most up-to-date news about td&tg — like if Ms. Pfeffer has any more ARCs to raffle off from the Bolivian hat! — check out her blog at http://susanbethpfeffer.blogspot.com/. And now, on to the review:

In td&tg, we follow the lives of the Morales family (of NYC). When a meteor crashes into the moon, resulting in natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis, Papi is away (in Puerto Rico) to attend a funeral, Mami is called in to work at a hospital in Queens, and their eldest son, Carlos, is in California with the Marines. This means that 17-year-old Alex is now responsible for his younger sisters, fourteen-year-old Briana and twelve-year-old Julie. Alex knows that it will be tough to be the head of the household, but he reassures himself that it is only temporary. Mami will soon come home from the hospital, and Papi will return from Puerto Rico as soon as airplanes start flying again. Right?

Unfortunately, things are not as simple as he initially thought. Much like Miranda, in LAWKI, Alex goes through a very quick maturation and learns the true definitions of hard work, sacrifice, and love. When food supplies start to run out, Alex makes some very tough decisions — skipping meals so his sisters can eat more; sending Briana away to work at a convent so she will have ready access to fresh food, which also frees up more food for Alex and Julie; stealing from other people’s apartments to reinforce his families supplies of food, clothing, and other necessities; and doing other, terrible, things he never could have imagined in his previous life for the sake of a few more meals.

In stark contrast to Miranda’s house with a wood stove, in the suburban setting of LAWKI, the Morales family must try to survive in a contemporary NYC high-rise apartment building. How will they stay warm once the oil in the furnace is gone? When the natural gas and electricity stop, how will they cook their food or boil their drinking water? At times, it seems that all hope is gone, but Alex and his sisters cling to life with their strong Catholic faith and their hope for a future in which they will be reunited with the rest of their family.

Sometimes gross, often heart-breaking, but always enthralling. This would be a great book for a reluctant reader. (Just make sure s/he doesn’t have too many anxiety issues!)

Happy Reading!

Before I Die by Jenny Downham

bid coverWarning: The character in this book has a terminal diagnosis. DO NOT recommend this book to people who want an inspirational/positive book about someone who overcomes their cancer diagnosis!

I received this ARC along with a letter praising Jenny Downham for her amazing story and exclaiming that this manuscript was “fast-tracked” to publication because it was so great. I thought to myself, “Isn’t that what all the publishers want you to believe?” Well, after reading the book, I have to admit that I was a little hasty in my judgment. This book WAS amazing in so many different ways. I like Tessa’s “honesty” and raw emotion. She has leukemia and knows she has very little time left — so she compiles a “to do” list. Number one is, quite obviously, sex. What teenager doesn’t constantly think about sex in then first place, let alone if they know they will die soon? But to think that this is just a book about a “to do” list would be completely missing the point. Just imagine if you were told that you had only months left to live. What range of emotions would you have to deal with on a daily basis? Would you be able to focus on fun things in the time you have left, or would you be too crushed to even try and get anything more from life? I think anyone who reads this book will come out feeling a little depressed but also a little more alive.

Happy Reading!

Holy box of books, Batman!

This morning, I received a HUGE box of YA galleys… I’m talking THIRTY FOUR “advance reader” copies — some of which are for books that aren’t released yet! What does this mean?!? AWESOME SUMMER READING PRIZES!!! Lots of thanks and a big shout out to Heather Doss of Bookazine!

And, for those of you who need specific authors, titles, and plot summaries to whet your appetite, I have decided to include a few:

  • Busted by Phil Bildner [August 28, 2007]
  • Jock? Cheerleader? Total nerd? Doesn’t matter. You’re busted. In Phil Bildner’s second novel, he puts to good use his experience as a high school teacher as he propels us through a series of interwoven stories about kids doing things they’re pretty sure are wrong. There’s a violated “zero tolerance” policy on a senior field trip and the cruelest bully high school has ever seen. Throw in a gambling ring and a group of honor students doing very non-honor things and every crowd gets busted somehow.

  • Guyaholic by Carolyn Mackler [August 14, 2007]
  • V Valentine is the queen of meaningless hookups… until a fateful hockey puck lands her in the lap of Sam Almond. And things with Sam are different — meaningful. So now what? With humor and compassion, Printz Honor winner Carolyn Mackler takes readers on an unforgettable ride of missed exits, misadventures, and the kind of epiphanies that only come when you’re on a route you’ve never taken before.

  • How to Get Suspended and Influence People by Adam Selzer [February 13, 2007]
  • It all starts with an assignment. Leon’s “gifted and talented” class has to make educational videos for the sixth and seventh graders. Leon originally chooses “sex ed” as his subject in the hopes of showing a flash of boob. But as time goes on, his project starts to mean something. He wants to tell the younger kids that puberty is tough, but what they’re going through is normal. After researching the avant-garde movement, Leon crafts his video in the style of Fellini: La Dolce Pubert. It’s deeply disturbing yet comforting. But when the gifted program’s director sees it, she suspends Leon—and he finds himself at the center of a townwide debate over censorship. Who gets to decide how far is too far?

  • What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones [June 5, 2007]
  • My name is Robin. This book is about me. It tells the story of what happens when after almost 15 pathetic years of loserdom, the girl of my dreams finally falls for me. That seems like it would be a good thing, right? Only it turns out to be a lot more complicated than that. Because I’m not gonna lie to you — there are naked women involved. Four of them, to be exact. Though not in the way you might think. Don’t get me wrong — my girlfriend’s amazing. But the way things have been going lately, I’m starting to believe that the only thing worse than not getting what you want, is getting it.

  • The New Policeman by Kate Thompson [January 23, 2007]
  • Who knows where the time goes? There never seems to be enough time in Kinvara, or anywhere else in Ireland for that matter. When J.J.’s mother says that what she really wants for her birthday is more time in her day, J.J. decides to find her some. But how can he find time for her, when he barely has enough time to keep up with school and his music? And where will he get time to find out if the shocking rumor is true—that his great-grandfather was a murderer? It seems as though J.J.’s given himself an impossible task. But then a neighbor reveals a secret to him—there is a place where time stands still. J.J. realizes he’s the only person who can make the journey, but to do so he’ll have to vanish from his own life. And when J.J. disappears from the village, enter the new policeman. . . .

  • The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin [September 7, 2006]
  • It all starts when Matthew observes a heroic scene in a convenience store: A man named Murdoch puts himself between an abusive father and his son. Matt is determined to get to know this man. And when, amazingly, Murdoch begins dating Matt’s mother, it seems as if life may become peaceful for the first time. Matt and his sisters have never before known a moment of peace in a household ruled by their unpredictable, vicious mother. And so, after Murdoch inevitably breaks up with her and the short period of family calm is over, Matt sees that he needs to take action. He refuses to let his family remain at risk. Can he call upon his hero, Murdoch? And if not, what might his desperation lead him to do? A thought-provoking exploration of self-reliance and the nature of evil and a heart-wrenching portrait of a family in crisis, this is Nancy Werlin’s most compulsively readable novel yet.

  • Zane’s Trace by Allan Wolf [August 28, 2007]
  • Zane Guesswind is running from one death straight toward another — his own. Taking off in a stolen 1969 Plymouth Barracuda, armed with his brother’s driver’s license, a six-pack of Mountain Dew, a jumbo pack of Sharpies, and a loaded gun in the trunk, he’s headed for Zanesville, Ohio — to kill himself at his mother’s gravesite. He’s got no rearview mirror and no more worries. But when Zane picks up Libba, a hitchhiker also on her way to Zanesville, he gets a lot more than a girl who wants the last word in any argument. With each mile marker that he passes, Zane gets farther from the life he knows and closer to figuring out who he is. This suspenseful novel is a fast-moving read with a supernatural twist — and an insightful look at families and how we can only escape them when we accept the way they are.

So yeah… Summer Reading is on the way, and I am really excited about the programs we will be having! If you live in or near East Greenbush, you should definitely be signing up and coming in to participate. This year’s theme is Get a Clue @ Your Library for Tweens (and younger kids) and You Never Know @ Your Library for YAs. For the purpose of the SRP, Tweens will be any students entering 3rd-5th grade in the fall and YAs will be any students entering 6th-12th grade in the fall. For more info, check out newsletter, which can be found on our website: http://www.eastgreenbushlibrary.org… Or, you may even see me when I come to visit your school!

Happy Reading!

Busted by Phil Bildner

If nothing more, this book was an incredibly engaging read. I seriously could not stop reading it for more than 5 minutes without needing to go back to it. Every time a patron or a coworker needed my attention, I lamented the fact that I had to stop reading in order to help them. Nevertheless, I love my job, so I did what was requested of me… And then ran back to read some more!

In about 4 hours — a “broken” 4 hours, mind you — I read this book from front to back. Rather astonishing if you are privy to how many of my books need to be renewed so that I can finish them! Some of the passages are scandalous; others shocking; and some are simply chilling. Most importantly of all, though, this entire book rang true to me. As a former high school student AND a former high school teacher, I found myself drawing parallels between these characters and the students, teachers, and administrators I have known. Bildner certainly didn’t hold anything back, and I think it would behoove a lot of adults to pay attention to books and movies that portray this reality.

The only thing that I disliked about this book is the sudden ending. Perhaps that will be changed before the final draft is published. I think I will have to re-read this book [in its final form] just to try and wrap my mind around the whole thing a little better. It worked as a whole, but a few parts felt stiff and jagged. Like I said in my earlier post, though, this is an advance reader copy. I guess it may simply be that the “suddenness” of the ending left too many questions with me. But, that may have been Bildner’s point in ending the book like this. Sure, you know what happens with most of the characters… But that last little nagging question keeps popping up. What about him?

If you need to know who he is and why I care what happened to him, though, you’re going to need to read the book.

Happy Reading!