Wednesday, June 19, 2013

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

Carey and her younger sister Jenessa are lost. They are hidden. But they are together. They have been taken from their abusive father and sequestered away in a run-down camper in the middle of a huge state park by their meth-addicted mother. She leaves them to fend for themselves for weeks at a time, but they manage to survive, and in many ways form a complete family with each other. But then some unexpected visitors show up: a social worker and Carey's father. They take the girls out of the woods and try to give them a new life that's very different from their old one. The past in the woods, and their present in the real world clash and meld together in very unexpected ways. And together, Carey and Jenessa then must face the secret of the white star night that changed them forever.

This YA debut by Emily Murdoch takes a terrible, harsh setting and plot that seem pretty unbelievable and brings them so alive that you can't stop reading. The characters and what they say and feel are so real, that it gave me some real moments of extreme emotion. So, if you can find this one, don't let it pass you by.

Tapestry of Fortunes by Elizabeth Berg

There are so many topics or themes in Berg's new book that intrigued me. As soon as I ordered it for the library, I knew I wanted to read it, but I didn't. It sat on the shelf. Sometimes it was read by other patrons. And sometimes it sat - waiting for me. So one fateful day, I picked it up, and in a couple I days I read it. It was not a mistake of fortune.

In the book, Cece Ross, a motivational speaker, mourns her best friend's passing by changing her own life. She finally heeds the wishes of her friend by getting rid of things she doesn't need, taking a long break from her job, giving back to others, and finding out what the rest of life will hold. Cece feels it will be difficult to do these things, but after consulting her many fortune telling items, she decides it is, indeed, the exact right time. So she sells her house and moves in with three other women, into a beautiful, old house. She starts to volunteer at a hospice, and she takes her new friends on a road trip that they will never forget. And neither will I.

Tapestry of Fortunes was a wonderful surprise for me, full of truth and joy and a realness of character that will stick with me for a long time. So, if I were you, I'd check your Taro cards and then heed them - and pick up this great read!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Taken by Erin Bowman

A patron who likes to read the same kind of YA lit as I do recommended this to me after she checked it out. I'm so glad I did! Because, you know, I've always wondered what it would be like to just be living as part of a great big social experiment where my entire life, and death was controlled by a secret government I knew nothing about. Haven't you wondered that?

All kidding aside, this book, which is first in an upcoming series, is full of great details, relatable characters, action, and emotion. Although it relies on some of the stock elements in recent dystopian YA literature, Bowman makes these elements seem original and gives them, yet again, a new, fresh spin.

In the story, Gray Weathersby lives in a world that simply seems from a long time ago. There is no electricity or running water. The townspeople grow all their own food and build their houses. But the real surprise is that there is something really wrong with the town of Claysoot. Its boys disappear at the age of 18. They know it's coming, they prepare, but in the end, something just takes each boy on his 18th birthday, including Gray's brother Blaine. Forever. There is also the fact that there is a giant wall surrounding the town, and no one has ever climbed over it and survived. That is until Gray and his girl Emma get really angry after Blaine is taken, and they want answers. And the answers are beyond the wall.

I love finding first time authors that have talent, and Erin Bowman is very much one of these. Give her first novel a try, and you won't regret it!

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Remember the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray? I loved that movie. Well, take that premise, of reliving the same day over and over again until you get it right, and then turn it around a bit. Life After Life is about a girl who gets to start over - and over again. It's a book that's really like no other.

Ursula is born on a terrible, snowy night in 1910. Or is she? Yes, she is. And each time she is born, she gets a little bit further in her life before a tragedy strikes to take it all, and she starts all over again. Does anyone notice this strange reliving? Well, Ursula finally does. She comes to think of herself as sort of clairvoyant, experiencing deja vu when in a situation that requires a judgement, a decision. If she can just make the right choice or avoid the tragedy she feels is coming, she will probably live her life a little longer - before it begins again. While this may seem a little too weird, a little too redundant, Atkinson makes it extremely readable and the characters extremely real.

I found myself holding my breath at each turn Ursula must make, thinking, "Oh, please let her live past this this time." It was also a revelation learning how each turn, each decision could mean so much, life or death. How many decisions in our own lives mean the difference between a good, happy, long life and a sad one or a tragically short one. It's probably good we don't know these things in reality, but it was very entertaining to find out in the fantasy with Ursula.