Rated 3 stars *** (Bane Chronicles #10). ebook. Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster). 2014.
Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood are finally going on their first date. Despite Magnus’ pretended indifference, he’s really fallen hard for Alec and is hoping their date will get off to a good start. Despite his best efforts, a werewolf, a waiter and other assorted characters intercede to make this date more memorable than he’d planned.
In this short story, Cassandra Clare uses her patented wit to share the awkwardness of a first date between a Shadowhunter and Downworlder. Fans of Magnus and Alec will enjoy reading about how their romance began.
Recommended for readers aged 14 and older.
Rated 4 stars **** Fjallbacka #5. ebook. ARC. To be published May 1, 2014. Pegasus Books. (First published in Sweden as Tyskungen in 2007.)
Erica Falck has just finished her maternity leave and is supposed to be working on her latest crime novel. Instead, she finds herself fascinated by her mother’s 60-year-old diaries and the discovery of a Nazi medal. Wanting to know more about what made her mother change from the fun-loving person described in the diaries into the unemotional and unloving person she knew, Erica decides to take the medal to Erik a local historian for further study.
Soon afterwards Erik is found brutally murdered, and Erica finds herself embroiled in a 60-year-old in which her mother was entangled. The diaries reveals names of a current Nazi sympathizer, the historian’s brother who survived years as a German POW, and a local woman suffering from Alzheimer’s. Each of them holds a part of these tangled threads, which soon leads to even greater mysteries and shocking truths for Erica and her detective husband to sort. Erica’s quest to find out more about her mother’s past will forever be tangled in her own future.
“The Hidden Child” uses multiple voices and viewpoints to untangle the mystery of Erik’s murder and the diaries. At first, the constant changing of voices between characters was a little disconcerting but as the story progressed it became vitally important to the storyline. Camilla Lackberg’s careful research into the historical importance Sweden played during World War II will also be an eye-opener.
Recommended for Adult readers.
Rated 5 stars ***** Published February 18, 2014. ARC. Simon & Schuster.
Sixteen-year-old Rowan Areno is tired of her strict parents telling her what she can and cannot do. Her best friend Nadia’s parents allow her to leave the house in cute little shorts and tops, and let her do whatever she wants. Roe is jealous of their leniency, and frustrated because her police officer father runs a tight ship. Having been caught in the past, she is extra careful the day she decides to cut school with Nadia to meet a couple of guys. Within minutes of their arrival Nadia is convinced to go to a beach party with them and, despite knowing Roe has to be at work in a few hours so can’t go, has no problem ditching her.
Of course Roe’s dad catches her but, when he takes her home for the usual lecture, he is called out on a call for a suicidal jumper at a nearby bridge. Roe has no idea this call will forever change her life because it results in her dad falling so deeply into depression he commits suicide.
She and her mother are left to pick up the pieces of their lives, with both falling deeper and deeper into their own sadness and depression. Roe is angry with her dad for leaving her without a reason and without a note, and is not willing to be lifted out of the dark hole of sadness she’s dug for herself. It takes months but soon, the only thing keeping her head above water is her relationship with Eli. Eli had also been at the bridge with her father on that infamous day and, since his dad had been killed in Iraq, his empathy enables her to slowly climb out of the pit she had dug for herself and realize life can go on for those left behind.
“Me Since You” takes a usually-not-seen look at suicide and the effect it has on those left behind who suffer through the stares, suspicion, and questions of “why?” Wiess uses a term called the “ripple effect” to teach readers how one seemingly random act by one individual can affect a multitude of people.
Recommended for ages 16 and older.
Rated 5 stars ***** Published February 25, 2014. ARC. Blue Sky Press (Scholastic). Includes a map showing The Path of Hurricane Katrina, a Katrina Timeline 2005, Interesting Facts about New Orleans and the Great Flood and an Author’s Note.
Zane’s father was killed before he was born, so no one is more surprised than he when his mother insists he travel to New Orleans to spend time with Miss Trissy, a great-grandmother he never knew existed. He reluctantly agrees to go as long as his dog Bandit can come, but immediately hates the heat and smells of New Orleans.
It doesn’t take Miss Trissy long to set Zane straight on his heritage, reminding him he’s not “multiracial or biracial” as he’d previously called himself but is mixed. Even though Zane looks white she reminds him his dad’s face is what she sees, not his blond hair or green eyes. Zane had never looked at himself that way before, and this lesson is just the first in many he learns during his stay in New Orleans.
When news of an impending hurricane reaches them, they plan to evacuate. However Bandit runs away, Zane runs after him and is separated from Miss Trissy. When the hurricane hits, he and Bandit are stranded in Miss Trissy’s house as the floodwaters reach to the attic where they have gone for safety. He is rescued by a passing boat but soon learns the hurricane and the flood it generated affected thousands of lives besides his own. Half drowned, starving, and unable to find shelter anywhere, including in the overcrowded Super Dome, he and his rescuers stumble on seeking help that is short in coming.
“Zane and the Hurricane” uses real life events and accounts from real people to tell the story of the people of New Orleans who were abandoned by those in authority who should have helped but didn’t. Their sufferings during and after the storm are recounted for those who may have forgotten, or didn’t know about what happened that fateful day in 2005.
It is an eye-opening read and is recommended for readers aged 10-14.
Rated 3 stars *** Bare Knuckle series. Published March 1, 2014. ARC. Darby Creek Publishing.
Mr. Chilton rescued Luc from his hard life in Quebec four years earlier. Luc is not sure, but thinks he might be sixteen or seventeen years old. He doesn’t talk much and likes to see Mr. Chilton happy, so has become their breadwinner in his new life in The Bowery. It’s now 1874. Every day he boxes in a nearby bar while Mr. Chilton pockets (or drinks) his winnings then they head to a flophouse for the night.
Luc doesn’t like violence, but is content with this life and routine until Mr. Hardt shows up with a couple of kangaroos, one of which is a baby. Luc’s tender heart breaks when he sees how the adult kangaroo is pushed to fight and is ultimately killed. He doesn’t want the same thing to happen to the joey, so decides to kidnap it.
Unfortunately Luc barely speaks English and doesn’t know where to go. The only thing he knows how to do is fight, but will that be enough to help him and his baby kangaroo survive the mean streets of The Bowery and stay ahead of Mr. Chilton and Mr. Hardt?
“The Giant” is a quick read for reluctant readers, especially boys, and is recommended for ages 11-16.
Rated 3 stars *** To be published May 13, 2014. ARC. Amulet Books.
Diggy was left on his father’s doorstep when he was born, then his mom left town on a tractor. Over the years, he has managed to hide the hurt of being abandoned (and many tractor jokes) while establishing a great relationship with his dad who everyone calls Pops. Diggy and Pops prank each other with tricks and jokes in preparation for their yearly April Fool’s Day assaults, and enjoy their time together.
As a member of 4-H he takes pride in training steers and competing with them at various county fairs, pretending his sudden interest in steers and 4-H had nothing to do with the beautiful (but older) July Johnston. Now that July has moved on to a greater leadership role in the organization, Diggy has been picked as her successor to win the purple ribbon and the $12,000 prize at the upcoming Minnesota State Fair with his steer, Joker, and he will do everything in his power to make her proud.
Everything is going great for Diggy until Wayne Graf gets dumped in his driveway by his drunken dad. Fourteen-year-old Wayne’s mom has just died so his father dumped him because he is angry that Pops is his real dad. Diggy is incensed to learn he has a half brother but soon gets even more upset when Wayne decides he wants to also compete against Diggy in the upcoming fair with a steer of his own. On top of that he insists Diggy should find his real mother who dumped him 13 years ago, starts looking up information about her without Diggy’s permission, starts hogging up Diggy’s personal time with Pops, and horns in on Diggy’s time with July.
With all of these issues piling up Diggy and Wayne quickly become enemies, trying to outdo the other and win the State Fair with their steers. What follows are hilarious pranks, fights, arguments and general mayhem as they set about learning what it really means to be brothers and what it means to be a family.
“Steering toward Normal” is a good read for boys, especially boys interested in learning about country life, how to train steers, and learning more about 4-H.
Recommended for ages 11-14.