Jillicious Reading: April 2011

4.26.2011

Mockingbird
by Kathryn Erskine

Summary: “The Day Our Life Fell Apart” is the day Caitlin’s brother Devin was killed.  Caitlin and her father are trying to “Deal With It,” but moving on with life is not easy.  Caitlin has Asperger’s syndrome and dealing with her emotions does not come naturally for her.  How will Caitlin be able to deal with this loss when she not only misses Devin but also needs his help in figuring out the world? 
Thoughts: I am a fan of books told from the point-of-view of a character with autisim or Asperger’s.  When done well, these narrations allow readers an authentic view of life from a different perspective and a chance to develop empathy for others.  And, Mockingbird is definitely one that does this well.  Caitlin is a credible, endearing narrator.  She makes you laugh-out-loud on one page and breaks your heart on the next.  Her father is also a realistic character as he is struggling with his own grief as well as trying to help Caitlin deal with the situation in her own way.  A huge fan of To Kill a Mockingbird, I thoroughly enjoyed the allusions to the classic novel and the way these references enriched Caitlin’s story.      

Visit Kathryn Erskine’s website for more information about this author and her award-winning books.  

Love the paperback cover! 

             

4.25.2011

Ruby Red
by Kerstin Gier

Summary: Gwen’s perfect cousin Charlotte has been preparing her whole life for time travel; so the family is shocked when it’s Gwen, not Charlotte, who inherits the time travel gene.  With no warning or training, Gwen is launched into the mysterious past with only the accompaniment of the arrogant, annoying, but breathtakingly handsome Gideon. 

Thoughts:  I was completely captivated by this fantasy, mainly because of the main character Gwen.  She is a “normal” kid with a hilarious sense of humor used to taking a back seat to her perfect cousin Charlotte.  Her observations and reactions to her changing circumstances are believable and amusing.  The quirky family, their strange house, the fast-paced adventure, the intriguing mystery… all are well-imagined and absorbing.  The book (soon to be a trilogy) was written by a German author and, after its huge popularity in Germany, was translated into English this year.  I am delighted that it was and can’t wait for book two, Sapphire Blue

4.22.2011

Hidden
by Helen Frost

Summary: When Darra’s father steals a car, Wren is hiding in the back seat.  This accidental kidnapping changes the lives of the two girls forever.  Years later they come face-to-face and try to make sense of what happened that ill-fated day. 

Thoughts: Helen Frost is a truly incredible author.  The way she weaves stories so creatively through poetry is amazing in itself; but then, she goes beyond using inventive forms to tell secondary stories and to beautifully play with words and themes!  Fascinating! Hidden is a unique, absorbing story.  The plot is original and seems to be straight from the headlines of today’s world.  I liked these two girls – particularly Daria and how she made the right choices even when adults around her were not.    

Click here to read more about Helen Frost and her award-winning writing.       

4.20.2011

TLA 2011!
The Texas Library Association Annual Conference is always a highlight of my spring.  Time with my librarian friends, dining with publishers, talking about books, and meeting authors…. what more could you want??  This year’s conference in Austin was no different.  Here are just a few pics with some favorite authors:    

Time with Paola Bacigalupi, author of the multiple-award winning Ship Breaker, at the Little, Brown event. 
What a fabulously interesting guy!  So happy for him and his success! 



What??  THE Daniel Handler?? LEMONY SNICKET?? 
I can’t believe I got to meet this hilarious, delightfully-quirky author!  

4.06.2011

Paradise
by Jill S. Alexander

Summary:  Paisley has been drumming as long as she can remember.  Her heart is set on playing at Texapalooza in Austin, Texas  Paisley is sure a performance at this music fest is just what she needs to kick off her career and get out of her small town.  But, when her band gets a new lead singer…. a hot, velvet-voiced boy from Paradise, Texas….. Paisley starts to wonder what she really wants.        

ThoughtsParadise, Jill S. Alexander’s 2nd YA novel, is a Texas treasure.  I loved the setting, the music references, and the down home feel.  The characters are realistic and engaging, and I fell head-over-heels for the singer from Paradise.  Oooolala… be still my heart!  Even those whose life is not all that similar to Paisley’s experience growing up in a small Texas town will be able to relate to her desire for acceptance from her parents and her passion to see the dreams of her heart come true.  The ending really surprised me and kept me thinking long after I closed the back cover.  I look forward to discussing it with other readers!   

Visit Jill S. Alexander’s website to read more about this Texas author and her charming novels. 

Firelight
by Sophie Jordan

Summary:  Jacinda is draki – a shapeshifter descended from dragons – and her mother uprooted the family from the pride where Jacinda grew up, where she fit in, where she was valued.  Now, she is trying to live a “normal” life in a new town and a new school, and she is doing anything but fitting in.  But, when Jacinda lays her eyes on him, she comes alive.  Could there be hope for her after all away from the pride?  Or, does the secret he is keeping threaten her very existence?

ThoughtsFirelight is a sizzling, romantic fantasy. It offers a unique twist on the paranormal romance, stars interesting characters, and ends with a cliff-hanger that leaves you wanting more!  Luckily we don’t have to wait long; the sequel Vanish will be released in September 2011.  The love story between Jacinda and Will is intense and mysterious.  I was captivated from the beginning and couldn’t help but wish I had an inner-dragon too!  🙂  

Interesting noteFirelight has already been optioned for a movie!  Be sure to check out this mesmerizing novel before it hits the big screen. 

Click to read more about author Sophie Jordan, Firelight, and upcoming sequel Vanish.   

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