Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Dead and Buried

The Dead and Buried
by Kim Harrington

Jade's a small town girl in a big, new town, which means new cliques at school, new gossip, new teachers, a new home, and her first ever brand-spanking-new ghost.

It turns out that the only reason Jade's dad and stepmother could afford their amazing new home is because someone had died in it just months before.

And that someone didn't leave with the body.

Now Jade must not only deal with all the usual problems a new senior in a new school must cope with, but she now must also figure out who murdered the girl who lived there before.

If she doesn't catch the murderer soon, her little brother could suffer at the ghost's hands.

Final thoughts: Harrington has an interesting take her on Du Maurier's Rebecca, though it might have been nice if she hadn't brought up the original work within this one.  Once I knew what was up, I got distracted by trying to figure out which character was which in comparison, though that shouldn't be a problem for people who've never read the classic.  Jade's a bit bland as a character and I never really feel for her situation.  Her brother's cute, but only randomly there and more inserted as a plot device than an actual character.  I never really felt much for Donovan and Kane because they just didn't have much of a presence.  It's a simple story that really could have been fleshed out more, but still does a decent job maintaining interest.

Rating: 3/5

Monday, November 18, 2013


by J.A. Souders

Sometime in the future, after wars have decimated the land, Mother leads her people to an underwater paradise called Elysium.

Here, the world is perfect.  The air is perfect.  The city is perfect.  And Evelyn's life is just about perfect.

She wakes, gardens, plays the violin, and learns how to govern.  She is the Daughter of the People.  She is the perfect genetic specimen, designed to take over for Mother when the time comes.

She knows her place and she knows that the Surface is dangerous and filled with evil Surface Dwellers who will destroy her world if given a chance.

Then everything changes.

Evelyn's perfect world begins to unravel after she meets a Surface Dweller, who doesn't seem that bad, and she finds out secrets about herself and Mother that make her question everything she's ever known.

Final thoughts: I read through this at lightning speed.  While not the best thing ever written, it's still a compelling dystopic tale that keeps the reader glued.  Genetic perfection has been discussed before in other novels, but this world, where those considered to be genetically inferior are shot by coded turrets, is definitely scary.  Big Brother doesn't need to watch your every move when there are guns to take out anyone who challenges the rules or isn't the genetic ideal.  The brainwashing element was introduced very well and made for a more compelling story.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


by Shelley Hrdlitschka

Allegra is 17 and a new student at a performing arts high school that she's wanted to attend for years.  With parents who are both musicians, she was brought up to follow in their footsteps, even though all she really wants to do is dance.

She lives for dancing and dancing lives in her.

Unfortunately, though Allegra has mastered most elements of musical theory, her new school requires that her class schedule be "balanced" so she has to take a theory course instead of just pure dance classes.  As a compromise, her teacher offers her the chance to transpose a simple melody into a full orchestration for credit, rather than repeat work she's already done.

In finding her musical voice, Allegra also finds her personality, which had previously been hidden in social anxiety and panic attacks.

She also finds love.

Final thoughts:  While this started off very well, it veered into very uncomfortable territory.  While never stated outright, Allegra seems to have mild Asperger Syndrome.  She has a very difficult time with crowds and with relating to peers. She also has intense obsessions with her projects like her musical composition and her dancing.  She doesn't know how to be like all the kids around her and she fixates on her slightly older teacher to an extreme.  The ending feels oddly placed and unreal, especially in this day and age.  About halfway through, I almost put it down, fearing that I knew where the story was heading.  And while it didn't go exactly where I thought it would, it got too close for comfort.

Rating: 2/5

Monday, November 11, 2013

Lauren Yanofsky Hates the Holocaust

Lauren Yanofsky Hates the Holocaust
by Leanne Lieberman

All her life, Lauren Yanofsky has had to deal with her cultural history.  Her dad is a Holocaust historian and often shares his knowledge with her.  Her family is Jewish and sends her to Jewish camp every summer where stories about past atrocities are taught.

Lauren just can't seem to get away from the Holocaust.

She privately declares to herself that she's no longer Jewish, though she's not sure how to truly de-convert.  She leans on her friends for support and tries to live as non-Jewish a life as possible outside her home.

However, things are never that easy.  

Her best friend suddenly decides to join the smokers outside every day.  Her other friends join a prayer group and get parts in the school musical.  And her crush plays Nazi war games with his friends, wearing swastika armbands and shooting each other with water pistols.

She can't get away from the Holocaust no matter how hard she tries and she's trying very hard.

Final thoughts: This one is deep and sometimes difficult to read.  It's focused on a time in high school when teens are really just struggling to figure out who they are and where they fit in.  At times, Lauren feels more like a thirteen year-old girl instead of a junior in high school.  Her awkwardness around Jesse seems out of place for someone her age.  Her brother is written as if he's autistic, though it's never specifically stated; his side story sometimes seems out of place at times.  I'm just having a hard time figuring out how I feel about this one.

Rating: 3/5


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