Jillicious Reading: December 2008


Let it Snow: Three Holiday Romances
by John Green, Maureen Johnson & Lauren Myracle

Summary: Three popular authors each contribute a romance to this interconnected collection. A Christmas Eve snowstorm in a small, Southern town helps three teens discover (or rediscover) love. The three plots all come together at the end of the book and make for a warm, holiday read.

Thoughts: I loved this trio of stories! The characters were quirky, funny, and real. The authors each wrote with a unique voice, yet the three story lines all connected beautifully. I hope they write a sequel collection… maybe in time for Valentine’s Day!

The Luxe

by Anna Godbersen

Summary: The privileged teens of Manhattan live a whirlwind life of high society, dark secrets, betrayals, and forbidden romance. But, it’s not 2009, it’s 1899! Young socialites Elizabeth Holland, her younger sister Diana and best frien-emy Penelope Hayes have all fallen for the wrong guys and find themselves in a web of lies that threatens to ruin all of them.
Thoughts: Ooo… so delicious! The Guilded Age, New York City, catty girls, forbidden romance, scandal….what’s not to love? 🙂 This is a juicy novel that makes the reader so glad there is a sequel and a third volume on the way!

Hippie Chick
by Joseph Monninger

Summary: Lolly loves the sea and is an expert sailor. But one night when she takes her little sailboat out, disaster strikes. The boat capsizes, and Lolly finds herself injured and alone in the dark water. She is about to give up hope when a group of manatees arrives. Lolly is able to hold onto one as it makes its way to warm waters. Through a unique connection with these endearing animals. Lolly finds hope and a chance for survival.

Thoughts: I am crazy about manatees, so when I saw what this was about I couldn’t wait to read it. The title is a bit deceiving because it sounds like a lighter, “chick lit-ish” novel when in fact it is a story of survival. I found it to be a mesmerizing story that made me love manatees even more! I was also intrigued with the author’s notes that mentioned the many accounts of manatees and dolphins coming to the aide of humans over the years. I loved the idea of a connection with the animal world that is beyond understanding. What can I say? I am still hoping Ariel and Sebastian are singing and dancing somewhere “Under the Sea!” 🙂

The Great Wide Sea

by M.H. Herlong

Summary: Not long after their mother’s death, Ben and his two younger brothers are shocked when their father sells their home, buys a sailboat, and announces that they will cruise the Bahamas for the next year. Forced to leave everything he knows and obey his father-captain’s orders, Ben gets angry and finds no escape on the small boat. Then their father disappears overboard one night; the boys have no time to wonder what happened as they find themselves struggling to save their own lives in the fierce Atlantic Ocean.
Thoughts: This is a gripping adventure that keeps the reader captivated as Ben and his brothers fight to survive. I loved these boys and was heartbroken by their grief and their devotion to each other.

The Secret of Laurel Oaks

by Lois Ruby

Summary: Lila & her brother travel with their parents to Louisiana where the family decides to stay at the Laurel Oaks Plantation, considered to be one of the 10 most haunted places in the United States. At first the scares appear to be gimmicks to create a haunted experience for the guests. But then the presence of real spirits becomes undeniable, one in particular seeming to reach out to Lila. It is the spirit of a slave girl who was desperately wants Lila’s help in finding answers and ultimate redemption.
Thoughts: This is an intriguing ghost story with a unique historical perspective. I was so interested to read that this story was written after the author stayed in a real inn like the Laurel Oaks Plantation! Yikes!

How it Happened in Peach Hill

by Marthe Jocelyn

Summary: Annie serves as the assistant to her mother, the clairvoyant and spiritual adviser “Madame Caterina.” Annie has perfected the skill of eavesdropping around town to gather information for her mother to use in her fortune telling sessions. Mother and daughter are foced to move from town to town frequently to escape exposure. When they arrive in Peach Hill, however, Annie tires of the swindling act and wants to settle down. She longs to make friends and maybe even find romance. Annie proves to have some tricks of her own as she looks to make a future for herself.
Thoughts: What an engrossing novel. Annie is a hoot; I loved her spunk and sense of humor! You can’t help but be pulled into her story and to root for her to break free from her mother’s con to find out who she really is.

The Boy Who Dared

by Susan Campbell Baroletti

Summary: Helmuth Hübener was the first teenager tried and convicted as an adult in the Nazi Germany’s high court for conspiracy to commit treason. In this novel, author Baroletti tells Hübener’s story as he sits in prison awaiting execution in 1942. Hübener remembers his childhood during Hitler’s rise to power and how he started off as an ardent Nazi follower. Then he began to question his patriotism, secretly listened to BBC radio broadcasts, and finally dared to write and distribute pamphlets calling for resistance. This is a captivating story of the pursuit of truth and real heroism in one of the worst times in history.

Thoughts: This is an outstanding book. The alternation between Helmuth’s jail cell and his flashbacks to the events that led him there is very effective in telling a gripping tale. The fact that this is based on true events and followed by author’s notes and photographs of young Helmuth is truly sobering.

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You!


by Neal Shusterman

Summary: Following a fatal car crash, Nick & Allie collide on their way to the light. No longer living they find themselves in Everlost, a limbo for lost souls. Here they discover other lost souls and new rules for “living.” Nick begins to settle into this next existence, but Allie will stop at nothing to find her way out.

Thoughts: I am glad I finally had the chance to read this Shusterman novel. Although I knew the premise, the book was very different than I expected. I enjoyed the creative twists and turns. This was a selection of one of my book clubs, and I was so intrigued with the excellent discussion this novel produced. This is a favorite of many of my students who are eagerly anticipating the next volume of the trilogy.


by Marcella Pixley

Summary: Miriam is different from her classmates, and that’s fine with her. However, it’s not fine with her sister Deborah, who has recently grown in beauty and popularity and doesn’t really like Miriam’s individuality and “freakishness.” Things worsen between the girls when handsome family friend Artie moves in, and they desperately compete for his attention. At school, things are even worse for Miriam as she becomes the target of a vicious group of popular girls. Eventually Miriam has enough and finds the strength to stand up for herself.
Thoughts: This is a powerful book about bullying and the terrible pain it causes. I loved Miriam, her individuality, and her strength. Her story was captivating and kept me quickly turning the pages to see if she would evenutally triumph.


Diamond Willow

by Helen Frost

Summary: A series of diamond-shaped poems tell the story of Willow who lives in a remote area of Alaska. In effort to save a beloved sled dog, Willow embarks on a dangerous journey that tests her strength and ultimately reveals untold family secrets.

Thoughts: This book is amazing! I loved the way the author told the story so flawlessly and creatively through the diamond shapes. Don’t let the cover deter you – this is beautiful book worth opening!


The Dead and the Gone

by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Summary: In her book Life as We Knew It , Ms. Pfeffer told what happened in a rural town after an asteroid hit the moon and caused normal life to come to a halt. In this companion novel, the author describes how the same global disaster plays out in New York City.

Alex Morales, the seventeen-year-old son of a working class Puerto Rican family, is at home with his two younger sisters when the asteroid hits; their mother is at work, and their father is visiting Puerto Rico. Despite hope and fervent prayer, the parents do not return home. Alex is forced to do whatever it takes to care for his sisters in a terrifying catastrophe.

Thoughts: Surprisingly, I enjoyed this novel more than the first (which I also really liked!). The combination of the metropolitan setting, the absence of parents, and the family’s religious faith intensified the story for me. I think those who liked the first novel as well as guy readers who didn’t necessarily relate to the female character in Life as We Knew It will all be pulled into this companion tale.

The Compound

by S. A. Bodeen

Summary: Ever since their world was destroyed by a nuclear attack, 15-year-old Eli and his family have lived in the Compound, a state-of-the-art bomb shelter built by his billionaire father. Despite having every comfort, Eli is haunted by the fact that his twin and his grandmother were left behind. After six years in the shelter, the food supply begins to diminish and several unanswered questions begin to surface. What is really going on in the Compound? And, will Eli figure it out before it’s too late?

Thoughts: Whoa. The Compound is an intense, psychological thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat! The unique premise, the intriguing characters, and the many plot twists make for a compelling thrill-ride of a novel. I look forward to more novels by S. A. Bodeen!

I, Q: Independence Hall

by Roland Smith

Summary: When Quest’s (“Q” for short) songwriting mom marries rock star Roger Tucker, he and new stepsister Angela join the duo on the road for a national concert tour. Add to this an old roadie named Boone, a dog, the paparazzi, mysterious characters, possible terrorists, magic tricks, and the CIA and you get one suspenseful, fast-paced adventure!

Thoughts: What a fun novel! I loved the twists, the turns & the James Bond references. I can’t wait for the next volume in this exciting new series!


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