Title: Some Boys
Author: Patty Blount
  Pages: 347
 PublisherSourcebooks Fire
               Published: August 5, 2014                     Ranking: 4/5    

Some girls say no. Some boys don't listen.
When Grace meets Ian, she's afraid. Afraid he'll reject her like the rest of the school, like her own family. After she accuses Zac, the town golden boy, of rape, everyone turns against her. Ian wouldn't be the first to call her a slut and a liar.
Except Ian doesn't reject her. He's the one person who looks past the taunts and the names and the tough-girl act to see the real Grace. He's the one who gives her the courage to fight back.

He's also Zac's best friend.

Some of the most common books in YA these days (barring any vampires or other questionable romantic partnerships) deal with ‘hard issues.’ From Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why and its compelling take on suicide to Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls and its honest portrayal of eating disorders; it isn’t necessarily that the genre’s getting darker; it’s just finally talking an honest look at the life of its readers.

Some Boys stands out from many of the books in this genre, brining to the forefront, not just sexual assault, but the problems that surround the subject as well. Some of the most compelling characters in the book, including Grace's own family engager in victim blaming, ‘slut shaming’ and other biases most of us would like to pretend don’t exist in the back of our minds but probably do in some form or another. The entire book is a wonderful invitation to think, sympathize, and wonder what we would have done differently. This, on top of the two main characters who alternate back and forth in narration allowing anyone to build more rapport with both, makes the book incredibly engaging; much more than most I have read.

Unfortunately, for all of the good it does during the middle of the book, establishing what rape is, vehemently showing that it is rape even if you’re drunk, etc. The ending really ruined it for me. Grace has to be ‘saved’ by Ian and the only reason people believe her is when video evidence comes to light showing that she clearly said ‘no..’ It undermines so much of the work Blount had done earlier in the book showing the nuances of the issue.

Aside from the ending, the book is perfect; at once thought-provoking and compelling. It should be on everyone’s to-read list to learn more about the issue and everyone’s to-love list once you get to know the characters.

Maybe just ignore the last few chapters…


How (Not) to Fall in Love by  Kathryn Homes 
Release Date: February 3, 2015

Seventeen-year-old Darcy Covington never had to worry about money or where her next shopping spree was coming from. Even her dog ate gourmet. Then one day, Darcy’s car is repossessed from the parking lot of her elite private school. As her father’s business hit the skids, Dad didn’t just skip town, he bailed on his family.
Fortunately, Darcy’s uncle owns a thrift shop where she can hide out from the world. There’s also Lucas, the wickedly hot fix-it guy she can’t stop crushing on, even if she’s not sure they’ll ever get out of the friend zone. 
But it’s here among the colorful characters of her uncle’s world that Darcy begins to see something more in herself...if she has the courage to follow it

Bet Your Life by  Jane Casey  
Release Date: February 3, 2015

Jess Tennant has now been living in a tiny town on the English seaside for three months, and is just beginning to relax and think of it as home after the traumatic events of last summer. But in the small hours of Halloween night, a teenage boy is left for dead by the side of the road. Seb Dawson has a serious head injury and may not survive. Jess might not have liked Seb much, but surely he didn’t deserve this. The police don’t seem to be taking the attack very seriously, but Jess can’t just let it go, and she takes matters into her own hands.

As she investigates, Jess discovers that Seb was involved in some very dangerous games. A secret predator around girls, he would do whatever it took to abuse them, from lying and blackmail to spiking drinks. Could a group of vengeful victims be behind his attack? Or is there someone else with a grudge against Seb, who will stop at nothing to silence him?

Soulprint by  Megan MirandaRelease Date: February 3, 2015
Seventeen-year-old Alina Chase has spent her entire life imprisoned on a secluded island—not for a crime she committed in this lifetime, but one done by her past self. Her very soul is like a fingerprint, carried from one life to the next—and Alina is sick of being guilty.

Aided by three teens with their own ulterior motives, Alina manages to escape. Although she’s not sure she can trust any of them, she soon finds herself drawn to Cameron, the most enigmatic and alluring of the trio. But when she uncovers clues from her past life, secrets begin to unravel and Alina must figure out whether she’s more than the soul she inherited, or if she’s fated to repeat history.
Title: Egg & Spoon
Author: Gregory Maguire
Pages: 475
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Published: September 2014
Rating: 5/5

            A fantasy set in Tsarist Russia.
            Elena Rudina lives in the impoverished Russian countryside. Her father has been dead for years. One of her brothers has been conscripted into the Tsar’s army, the other taken as a servant in the house of the local landowner. Her mother is dying, slowly, in their tiny cabin. And there is no food.
            But then a train arrives in the village, a train carrying untold wealth, a cornucopia of food, and a noble family destined to visit the Tsar in Saint Petersburg — a family that includes Ekaterina, a girl of Elena’s age.
            When the two girls’ lives collide, an adventure is set in motion, an escapade that includes mistaken identity, a monk locked in a tower, a prince traveling incognito, and — in a starring role only Gregory Maguire could have conjured — Baba Yaga, witch of Russian folklore, in her ambulatory house perched on chicken legs.

            After being gone for a week, what’s a better way to start writing again than with an amazing book?... Actually, a terrible book would be better- complaining is much more fun than gushing, as Egg & Spoon often points out as well. Nevertheless, what we have here is a book we must praise, so praise we shall!
            The first plus of this book is the setting of 19th century Russia itself, with all of the fantasy and intrigue that it entails, though undoubtedly less gloomy than what may be expected. We start in a starving rural town of a couple dozen people, go to a luxury train and equally-opulent Saint Petersburg, and have a journey within Baba Yaga’s famous house. Everything gets exquisite detail without it becoming over-the-top, with the strange justification that it is all the writings of one of the Tsar’s former advisors, who is charmingly philosophic in his hopeful letters from imprisonment. The advisor brings up the main morals of the story in a way that makes it seem like rambling, but always linking back to the story at hand. The actual main characters are even quirkier, as we mostly follow Elena, a girl single-mindedly focused on family and food, Ekaterina, who has to learn to care for others after her abandonment by her parents in a London school, and Baba Yaga, the wonderfully anachronistic force of nature who cares for nobody’s sass. The problems over these ladies’ heads? The magic and weather of the world, which becomes more and more erratic as they travel. The source and resolution of these problems? Beautiful. It gives a heartfelt moral that everyone can follow, with a strange “is it magic or not?” feeling upon it’s conclusion. Since the only (slight) complaint I have is its length of near 500-pages, I can only assume the thought came from early apprehension of the size and scope of this story.
            If you feel hungry after taking the time to read this, that’s normal- your brain will be the satisfied one with Egg & Spoon- but if you can’t help it, have a nice breakfast with this solid tale. See you all on Friday!

Release Date: February 17, 2015

Sophomore Hallie Calhoun has just endured the most excruciating six months of her life. Once the rumors about her and the preacher's son, Luke, made their way around school, her friends abandoned her, and Hallie has completely withdrawn.
Now, on a hike in the Smoky Mountains with the same people who have relentlessly taunted her, Hallie is pushed to her limit. Then Hallie, outgoing newcomer Rachel, and Jonah—Hallie's former friend—get separated from the rest of the group. As days go by without rescue, their struggle for survival turns deadly. Stranded in the wilderness, the three have no choice but to trust one another in order to stay alive . . . and for Hallie, that means opening up about what really happened that night with Luke.
From the catty atmosphere of high school to the unpredictable terrain of the mountains, this novel is a poignant, raw journey about finding yourself after having been lost for so long.

Vendetta by  Catherine Doyle 
Release Date: February 24, 2015

For Sophie, it feels like another slow, hot summer in Cedar Hill, waitressing at her family’s diner and hanging out with her best friend Millie. But then someone moves into the long-abandoned mansion up the block--a family of five Italian brothers, each one hotter than the last. Unable to resist caramel-eyed Nicoli, Sophie finds herself falling for him -- and willfully ignoring the warning signs. Why are Nic's knuckles cut and bruised? Why does he carry an engraved switchblade? And why does his arrogant and infuriating older brother, Luca, refuse to let her see him? As the boys' dark secrets begin to come to light, Sophie is confronted with stinging truths about her own family, too. Suddenly, she's torn between two warring dynasties: the one she’s related to and the one she's now in love with. She'll have to choose between loyalty and passione. When she does, blood will spill, hearts will break. Because in this twisted underworld, dishonor can be the difference between life and death.

Dreamfire by  Kit Alloway 
Release Date: February 24, 2015

Unlike most 17-year-olds, Joshlyn Weaver has a sacred duty.  She's the celebrated daughter of the dream walkers, a secret society whose members enter the Dream universe we all share and battle nightmares.  If they fail, the emotional turmoil in the Dream could boil over and release nightmares into the World.
Despite Josh's reputation as a dream walking prodigy, she's haunted by her mistakes. A lapse in judgment and the death of someone she loved have shaken her confidence.  Now she's been assigned an apprentice, a boy whose steady gaze sees right through her, and she's almost as afraid of getting close to him as she is of getting him killed.
But when strangers with impossible powers begin appearing in the Dream, it isn't just Will that Josh has to protect--it's the whole World.

  Title: The Hot Zone
Author: Richard Preston 
  Pages: 448
               Published: July 20, 1995                     Ranking: 5/5    

A highly infectious, deadly virus from the central African rain forest suddenly appears in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. There is no cure. In a few days 90 percent of its victims are dead. A secret military SWAT team of soldiers and scientists is mobilized to stop the outbreak of this exotic "hot" virus. The Hot Zone tells this dramatic story, giving a hair-raising account of the appearance of rare and lethal viruses and their "crashes" into the human race. Shocking, frightening, and impossible to ignore, The Hot Zone proves that truth really is scarier than fiction.

I'm going to hazard a guess and say that when a book notifies you on page one about the lifespan of a virus and how, under no certain terms, you should be concerned about contracting/suffering/dying in a horrific matter from said virus, you should probably guess that the rest of the book is not going to be a pleasant experience.

And by not pleasant, I mean people-becoming-living-corpses-as-they-rot-from-the-inside-out.

If you're a squeamish person, you might want to stop reading now.

Despite the fact that the panic over Ebola has essentially died in the US, I still wanted to find out some more about the virus, so what better to do than pick up the book that started the original terror in the US? The Hot Zone is as fascinating as it is horrifying, gripping and repulsing all together; a combination that makes you speed through the book all the more. Preston is a master at this craft, coupling horrifying descriptions of death with a parallel tale of the little known time when Ebola was nearly released in Virginia. Even decades later, it's enough to give you pause, a feat almost never accomplished by the non-fiction books I read.

Now, admittedly, there are a few downsides to this being an actual account of history; namely the fact that everyone seems to be named Jones. This was the only confusing part of the novel; the sheer number of confusingly named characters. Still, if this; complete and in-depth reporting, is the biggest complaint I could make about the book, you know it has to be absolutely spectacular.

While most definitely not the book I would recommend to anyone overly squeamish, it is wonderful for everyone else, even those who would profess no interest in science. The most terrifyingly horrible and wonderful stories tend to be true and this book is a prime example.

Hello readers! This week I have a little trailer for you all, for a quirky book about a boy on the search for his father- only not quite so straightforward:

It is 1895. Stan is on a mission to find his long-lost father in the logging camps of Michigan. And he's embellishing all of it in his stupendous scrapbook. 

There are many things that 11-year-old Stanley Slater would like to have in life, most of all, a father. But what if Stan's missing dad isn't "dearly departed" after all? Who better to find this absent hero/cowboy/outlaw than manly Stan himself? Unfortunately, Stan's fending off his impossible cousin Geri, evil Granny, and Mama's suitors like Cold-Blooded Killer Stinky Pete. If only he could join the River Drive, the most perilous adventure of all, where even a fellow's peavey is at risk.

It's a wild ride for Stan as he finds out about true manliness. But at least Stan has his scrapbook, full of 200 black-and-white 19th-century advertisements and photos, "augmented" with his commentary and doodles. 

Just looking at the trailer for this book had me excited. The video itself has a few dozen old illustrations and advertisements, with the book promising much more, along with aforementioned "personal touches"in drawings and comments. This book personally reminds me of one of the books I had put onto my top five list, October Sky. Despite being almost a century apart in setting, I still get the feeling of someone searching for a purpose in life, or even for approval by someone they care about. But instead of rockets and autobiography, we can have a lumber camp with our comedic and (mostly) true story So suffice to say, I'll probably picking this up when it releases on February 24th! See you all in my next article!

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