Friday, July 30, 2010

Featured Author: Neal Shusterman

Mr. Shusterman's books reward the reader with a rich bounty of things to think or wonder about that are sometimes intense, sometimes humorous:

Bruiser by Neal Shusterman, 2010.
In Bruiser, Mr. Shusterman has taken an intriguing concept and built a supernatural story that may leave you thinking long after the final page is turned.  What happens when any pain, physical or emotional, is taken away?  While reading this book I kept thinking of the Bible phrase, "he taketh away the sins of the world."  And then wondering - Is there a flip side, a dark side, to salvation?  Brewster Rawlins aka Bruiser is described as a sasquatch, a hulking teenager of 16 years, with eyes that are an ugly pea green.  Voted by his classmates as "Most Likely to Receive the Death Penalty."  What no one knows, since Brewster keeps to himself, is that if he cares about you, he automatically takes away your injuries or pain as his own.  Bruiser is told from four points of view; Tennyson and Bronte who are twins, and Brewster and his brother Cody.  Tennyson and Bronte live with parents on the verge of divorce, and Brewster and Cody live with their abusive Uncle Hoyt.  Brewster's point of view is told in free verse.  The first chapter starts with Tennyson's point of view when Brewster asks his sister Bronte out on a date to play miniature golf.  Every book I've read by Neal Shusterman has been a thought-generating, and a gratifying read.  Bruiser is no exception.  My rating: 3 and a half stars

Everlost by Neal Shusterman published in 2006 is the first book in the Skinjacker Trilogy. Everfound, the third book in the Skinjacker Trilogy, is scheduled for publication in May 2011. Everlost begins with two cars that accidentally crash.  A passenger in each car dies; Nick and Allie. As they feel themselves moving through a tunnel towards a light, they bump each other off course and don't get to where they are going.  They wake up in Everlost, an in between place for lost souls where there are only children and teenagers.  Nick and Allie take different approaches to the people and circumstances of their new existence.  Will they choose complacency, choose to be in Everlost, or will they find the strength to get to where they are going?  Everlost is a terrific adventure-fantasy in an unpredictable setting.  My rating, so far, for this trilogy: 4 stars

Unwind by Neal Shusterman, 2007.  Unwind takes place in a dystopian society where organ harvesting of every part of the body is not viewed as death for the donor.  In this future society a war was fought between the Pro-life and the Pro-choice armies over reproductive rights, and now there is no abortion.  A "Bill of Life" was passed that ended the war.  The Bill of Life gives parents the right to choose, when their child is between the ages of 13 and 18, to have them "unwound".  Every part of the body is used to help someone else, including brain parts, skin, nerves, limbs, etc. so that technically the unwound person is still living.  One of the horrifying parts of this story is that that the person being unwound is awake and conscious (pain-free) during the whole procedure.  Sometimes the body parts retain a memory of skills, thoughts, or emotions, that the recipient then experiences.  This is a story of dismembering as well as remembering.  Three teens, Connor, Risa, and Lev, who do not want to be "unwound" try to escape. Unwind is a science fiction thriller that gives one serious moral issues to think about as we move out of the current infancy of organ harvesting.  My rating: 4 stars   Unwind movie website

Antsy Does Time by Neal Shusterman, 2008.
I have not read this - write your review in the comments section below.  Library Catalog Summary:  Fourteen-year-old Anthony "Antsy" Bonano learns about life, death, and a lot more when he tries to help a friend with a terminal illness feel hopeful about the future.

Darkness Creeping: Twenty Twisted Tales by Neal Shusterman, 2007.   A collection of horror tales. Tell your tale, write your review in the comments below!  Library Catalog Summary: Imagine being trapped forever in someone else's nightmare, with no means of escape. Or caught on one of the most terrifying roller coasters of all time, when suddenly the tracks ahead just disappear. Enter the world of Darkness Creeping, where hollow-eyed skulls arrive in the mail and nothing is as it seems... a collection of masterfully creepy stories so horrifying, you may have to read them twice to remind yourself they're not real.

The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman, 2004.
I have not yet had a chance to read this book.  It won the 2005 Boston Globe Horn Book Award.  Library Catalog Summary: A Brooklyn eighth-grader nicknamed Antsy befriends the Schwa, an "invisible-ish" boy who is tired of blending into his surroundings and going unnoticed by nearly everyone.  Write your review in the comments section below.

Neal Shusterman Books & Audiobooks in the Library Consortium
Neal Shusterman website

Neal Shusterman conducts a tour of his home including his awards, where he writes, art work, and home theater, May 15, 2009.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Seaside Thriller

The She by Carol Plum-Ucci
The She is thriller that takes place along and off the South Jersey shore.  Something called Ella Diablo Agujero (she-devil of the hole)  has been eating boats to freighter ships for over a century.  Since Evan Barrett was a child he can sense and hear when The She is present.  "My dad says he believes in something out there, though he doesn't say it when Mom's around, because she starts in on him.  I don't talk about The She, but I'm always listening, waiting." (page 8)  One night when Evan is nine he hears his parents on the ship to shore radio as something takes their freighter and sucks it under.  The story does a fast forward to Evan, who is now seventeen, and living with his older brother Emmett.  Evan is sent to visit Grey, a classmate who has checked herself in to a mental-health facility after a boating accident.  Evan and Grey begin to help each other with their personal demons and nightmarish experiences.  The She treads a creepy line between reality and the unexplained and possibly supernatural.  Is there a rational explanation for The She, or is there a hungry and jealous being in the deep sea?  My rating: 3 stars

Carol Plum-Ucci author website

Monday, July 12, 2010

SYNC YA Literature into Your Earphones

2 FREE Audiobook Downloads Each Week
July 1 - September 1, 2010
Teens and other readers of Young Adult Literature have the opportunity to download and listen to bestselling titles and classics this summer.  Each week from July 1 - September 1, SYNC is offering two FREE audiobook downloads. The audiobook pairings will include a popular YA title and a classic that connects with the YA title's theme.  For example, Frank Beddor's The Looking Glass Wars, a popular series with strong allusions to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, will be paired with Lewis Carroll's classic.  There's no required sign-up, personal details, or credit card information required.

If you miss the week for an audiobook that you want you may also be able to borrow the audiobook through Merrimack Valley Library Consortium's (MVLC) Overdrive, using your library card barcode. 

SYNC will also invite listeners (13+) into online discussions with librarians, publishers, authors, narrators, and other listeners about the featured books.  Visit SYNC to download the following books to your player to take wherever summer might lead you.
Available July 1 - July 7
The Angel Experiment by James Patterson
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Available July 8 - July 14
Over the End Line by Alfred C. Martino
The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
Available July 15 - July 21
Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Available July 22 - July 28
The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Available July 29 - August 4
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
Available August 5 - August 11
Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Available August 12 - August 18
Beastly by Alex Flinn
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Available August 19 - August 25
Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston
A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare
Available August 26 - September 1
Handbook for Boys by Walter Dean Myers
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Friday, July 9, 2010

New Historical Fiction by Karen Cushman

From the first sentences, through dialect and authentic description, Newbery Medal winner Karen Cushman's newest historical fiction, Alchemy and Meggy Swann, conveys you to 1573.  Elizabeth I is on the throne, but Shakespeare has not yet begun his plays.  Medieval ideas are beginning to fade, and a new way of thinking and beliefs are starting to take hold.  Meggy arrives from the country at her father's impoverished house on Crooked Lane, in London, with her goose Louise, and little else, only to discover that her alchemist father does not welcome her there.  Meggy is crippled and uses two sticks to walk.  She possesses a quick wit and a sharp tongue, and uses them to protect herself, and to forge a new life in a crowded and dirty city.  Cushman includes a quote by Carl Jung at the beginning of the story : "The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances; if there is any reaction, both are transformed."  Meggy the true alchemist in the story both transforms and is transformed through her choices, and the people she meets, during her struggles with life in London.  This book includes a map of old London, and an author's note with historical resources.  A fast, highly enjoyable read.   My rating: 3 and a half stars

Karen Cushman's website