Sunday, February 21, 2010

Once in a Blue Moon by Leanna Ellis

Bryn Seymour is attending a NASA celebration for the 40th anniversary of the moon landing when she is introduced to Howard Walters, who whispers something about a lunar landing conspiracy in her ear. Soon after, Bryn discovers her mother knew Howard before she died, and goes back to find him and see if she can get some answers about the mysterious circumstances surrounding her personal tragedy. She also meets Howard's son, Sam, and an undeniable attraction is immediately formed.Through these two very different men, Bryn learns to finally let go of the sorrows she's held onto for so long.

I have long been a fan of Leanna Ellis' writing, and reviewed her last book here. This newest story, however, beat all the others out of the race. By far my favorite! Ellis writes a compelling story about presumed crazy ideas but makes it seem completely natural. There is a bit of an intoxicating relationship between Sam and Bryn - when Sam gives a smoldering look to Bryn, I swear I felt it myself! An absolute pleasure to read.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Handbook For Lightning Strike Surviviors by Michele Young-Stone

I was very much looking forward to reading this book, as lightning strike survivors is not a common subject to read about. What I got was a lot more.

The story follows two seemingly unrelated kids, Becca Burke and Buckley Pitank, as they navigate broken homes, adolescence, troubled adulthoods, and all sorts of bad decisions along the way. They do not know each other and spend most of the book miles apart. What links them, however, is that Becca is a lightning strike survivor and Buckley has lost loved ones to lightning strikes. Ultimately, these details will bring Becca and Buckley together, acknowledging the idea that it is indeed a small world.

Michele Young-Stone writes the lives of Becca and Buckley very thoroughly. Each story was fascinating in it's own way, rich with character and cause and effect from realistic situations. Unfortunately, I felt distracted by having to switch back and forth between lives, and instead was tempted to read one story all the way through and then return to read the other in it's entirety. I did enjoy the little excerpts from the Handbook itself. There is little actual happiness within the stories, making it an emotional read. Push all the way to the end and the reader may feel like a survivor themselves.

Monday, February 8, 2010

An Unfinished Score by Elise Blackwell

When Suzanne Sullivan learns of her lover Alex's death over the radio, it takes every ounce of willpower to continue making dinner for her family without letting on that something is out of the ordinary. Within a couple of weeks, she is contacted by Alex's wife Olivia, who demands she finish the musical composition her late husband was writing when he was having his affair with her. This proves to be a difficult task, one Suzanne has to complete while simultaneously tending to both her unhappy marriage and her best friend's sensitive needs. And what she discovers along the way may pose more questions than answer them.

AN UNFINISHED SCORE is rich with musical history and theories (including how you can read a person through the music they write). Blackwell writes with flowing, poetic prose that will grab you and drop you smack in the middle of Suzanne's sad emotions. The story is one of heavy burden- the reader will have their own strong opinion of what is right and wrong and yet will still find themselves rooting for Suzanne throughout her decisions. The last 60 pages in particular kept me up into the wee hours of the morning!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tagged by Mara Purnhagen

Kate Morgan arrives to her small town high school one January morning to commotion over a giant graffiti gorilla that has been spray painted on the side of the building. When more gorilla grafitti shows up around town, it sparks a debate in class over art versus vandalism. The students of Cleary High spend the next few weeks debating and trying to figure out who did it- the tension culminating at an MTV televised birthday party for rich social snob Tiffany Werner. And the whole time, Kate finds clues linking the culprit to someone she is starting to like romantically.

TAGGED is a great book that will get teen readers to think about what defines art. The main character Kate can sometimes be annoying, but Kate's best friend Lan is a strong secondary character, as well as both of Kate's parents, who play their own central roles in the community. Eli is especially dreamy. The story is very realistic, with real-life consequences and real-time reactions to events. This could have happened to anyone's high school, anywhere in the US.

Debut author Mara Purnhagen writes smoothly in the teenage girl voice, especially when it came to Kate's thoughts and concerns over Eli. TAGGED is a short book with a colorful cover that is sure to get teen girls to pick it up.

For a sequel, I found myself craving more of mean girl Tiffany. It would be neat to have a book from her point-of-view!