“Spirits of the high mesa” Floyd Martinez

Rated 5 stars ***** 1997. Arte Público Press. 192 p.

Spirits of the high mesaThrough young Flavio’s eyes, readers are taken on a journey as he remembers the Indian/Mexican way of life spent growing up on a ranch in New Mexico. There everyone depended on the land, the old ways, and on each other. Flavio’s grandfather El Grande was an important man who respected the ways of his ancestors. Everyone turned to El Grande in good times and bad, observing traditions that had been the same for years. He taught Flavio the old ways, and how to work the ranch, but then the Gringos came with electricity.

Electricity made villagers give up traditions in favor of new ways of living. It meant the building of a new sawmill to chop down the forest, which brought more Gringos to build new homes, new roads and changes that would forever change Flavio’s life. Despite everything, El Grande stood firm in his desire to stay with the old ways and to retain his dignity – the most important thing he owned.

This powerful coming-of-age story won the 1998 Pura Belpré Honor Award for Narrative. It’s filled with memories of a time when life was simpler, as well as the love between a grandfather and grandson. It will resonate with readers, as it kept me thinking long after the last page was turned. Though there are many Spanish phrases and words, they are important parts of the narrative.

Highly recommended for ages 13 and older.

“Just Lucky” by Melanie Florence

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. ebook. To be published September 17, 2019. Second Story Press.

Just LuckyFifteen-year-old Lucky has been living with her grandparents her whole life. Lucky loved living with them, and spending time with her best friend Ryan. They’d known each other since they were seven years old, and were inseparable.

When her grandfather suddenly passed away, things began to change. Her grandmother had been forgetting things, but her forgetfulness began to get worse. When she accidentally set the kitchen on fire, and was sent to the hospital to be diagnosed, Lucky believed she’d get better and they’d return home to her regular life. While she waited for that to happen she was at the mercy of Children’s Aid, so was placed into a foster home.

The first foster home she was put into turned out to be a nightmare, so she was moved to a second one, then a third. As foster home placements mounted, and her grandmother grew worse, Lucky’s hopes of returning home disappeared. Just when Lucky felt as if her luck had taken a turn for the worse, something happened to give her faith in people again.

I loved, loved, LOVED this book. Lucky’s story made me scream, it made me mad, it made me happy, and it made me cry – all hallmarks of a great book.

Highly recommended for ages 14 and older.

“How quickly she disappears” by Raymond Fleischmann

Rated 4 stars **** ARC. ebook. To be published January 14, 2020. Berkley (Penguin Random House)

How quickly she disappearsIn 1921 Elizabeth’s twin sister Jacqueline disappeared without a trace when they were just eleven years old. Twenty years later Elizabeth lives with her husband and daughter in a small Alaskan town, still believing her sister is alive. When a stranger flew his bush plane in to deliver the mail he introduced himself as Alfred Seidel, a fellow German. He invited himself over to stay in her house, and Elizabeth felt obligated to take him in.

Alfred insisted he needed to stay in town longer to do repairs on his plane but, instead, killed a local Indian who was Elizabeth’s best friend. After being captured he insisted on speaking only to Elizabeth. When he told her he was involved in her sister’s disappearance she’s sure he’d lead her to Jacqueline – even though he claimed he would only give her a little bit of information at a time

As their relationship grows more intense, and in between flashbacks of growing up with Jacqueline, Elizabeth reveals her fascination and hatred for Alfred. He insisted she must complete three favors for information about her sister but, desperate to do whatever he wants, Elizabeth doesn’t know Alfred has many more secrets he’s not revealing.

The suspense kept me eagerly turning pages to find out what happens, but I was not happy with the ending. I thought it should have had loose ends tied up, instead of leaving everything to the reader’s imaginations, so I gave it 4 stars instead of 5.

Recommended for Adults.

 

“Breaking Dawn: Twilight #4” Stephenie Meyer

Rated 5 stars ***** 2008. Little, Brown and Company. 756 p.

BreakingDawnThis last book in the incredibly successful “Twilight” series is so much better than the others. Of course everyone knows Bella and Edward get married, as that was so inevitable. What wasn’t expected is her sudden pregnancy, and what happens because of that pregnancy, which is the reason for the book. Her entrance into the world of vampires has been expected since “Twilight,” but new things about this world are revealed to readers, which are very unexpected.

“Breaking dawn” breaks new ground in that Bella is much more self-assured and, though she does have a few insecurities, I think she’s finally grown up. There is a lot more laugh out loud humor, especially from Jacob, that will keep readers chuckling. The love between her and Edward is so much more pronounced, which shows me that I was right in choosing him over Jacob.

It’s interesting Meyer left the ending a little open ended, as if she expected to continue the not-quite-over conflict in another book. However, it’s been 9 years and nothing else has been written, so I guess she left it to the reader’s imagination to come up with our own sequel. That’s too bad. I would’ve liked the series to continue, and to have had some unanswered questions be answered. Goodbye Edward. I’ll miss you.

Now that I’ve reread the entire book series, I’m off to watch the movie series again. Can’t get enough of Robert Pattison aka Edward.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

“Eclipse: Twilight #3” Stephenie Meyer

Rated 5 stars ***** 2007. Little, Brown and Company. 629 p.

Eclipse“Eclipse” continues the exciting story of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen by adding Jacob Black as a love interest, with both vying for her attention. Despite her feelings towards Edward, Jacob is sure she’ll choose him while Edward is determined to step away if that is her desire. Bella is unable to make a decision, as she loves both of them, but will have to make a choice whether she likes it or not. In the meantime, the Cullens and werewolves from La Push are forced to team up to try and stop an army of newborns who have one goal in mind – to kill Bella.

It’s easy for readers to split into Jacob vs. Edward camps, as each have redeeming factors. On the plus side Jacob is tall, dark haired, muscled, handsome, very fast, generates extremely warm body heat, understands Bella, and would do anything for her. On the negative side he’s at least 2 years younger, is a bit immature, and can change too quickly into a werewolf (especially when angry), which could be dangerous to Bella.

Edward’s positives points are that he’s tall, lighter haired than Jacob, chiseled and incredibly handsome, has mesmerizing eyes and breath, is very fast, has a velvety speaking voice, understands Bella, and would do anything for her. On the negative side he’s extremely cold, as hard as marble, is so strong he could accidentally crush Bella if he’s not careful, and regularly needs to hunt for blood since he is a vampire.

There are many instances where Jacob and Edward clash, including some humorous ones and, when you’re done, you’ll have to decide. Who would you choose? I like Jacob, but find myself in the Edward camp. His gentleness, protectiveness and incredible love for Bella are too hard to resist.

Meanwhile I’m still annoyed at Bella, as she continues to find too many ridiculous reasons to be insecure around Edward, keeps getting in his way, and generally gets on my nerves.

Recommended for 14 and older.

“New Moon: Twilight #2” Stephenie Meyer

Rated 5 stars ***** EBook. 2006. Little, Brown and Company.

NewMoonIn this second book of the wildly successful “Twilight” series, Bella is heartbroken because Edward broke up with her. He told her he didn’t love her anymore, and felt it would be best if he and his family went away forever so she could move on with her life as if he’d never existed. True to his word, he disappeared – taking her heart and sanity with him.

Without Edward, Bella falls into a deep depression, which goes on for seven months. Her only escape from the unbearably lonely days and nights without Edward is time spent with Jacob Black, a young Native American from the nearby reservation who is an old family friend. As her friendship with Jacob intensifies, she learns of how he and others from his tribe turn into werewolves to protect their land from vampires – their natural enemies. As she continues spending time with him, she wonders if he can be enough to help her forget Edward. Could the love of a younger, but handsome and strong teen werewolf, help her forget the unforgettable and breathtakingly handsome vampire who broke her heart?

Bella is at her worst in “New Moon,” as she goes on and on about the hole in her body Edward left when he disappeared. She refuses to try to heal herself, and wallows constantly in self-pity. Readers will quickly get annoyed with her. The very bright spot in the book is the character of Jacob Black who, though briefly mentioned in “Twilight,” gets full billing in “New Moon.” Again make sure to read the book before you see the movie, as Taylor Lautner’s handsome face will forever be associated with Jacob.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

“Life and death: Twilight reimagined” Stephenie Meyer

Rated 5 stars ***** 2016. Little, Brown and Company. 387 p.

LifeAndDeath“Twilight”, the beloved story of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2015. In this version, Meyer worked a little creativity into the original story by casting a female vampire, Edyth Cullen, into Edward’s role, while handsome Beau Swan replaces Bella as her irresistible human love interest.

Most of the original adventures of these love struck lovers in the little town of Forks unfolds before readers as we see Edyth through the eyes of Beau, who is struck dumb by Edyth’s beauty. Readers have the chance to see their love story live again through Beau’s eyes as she sweeps him into the heights of ecstasy as only an enticing vampire can do.

I will admit that readers should expect a few surprises in this version, but I won’t give them away. You’ll have to read to the very last exciting page to find out to what I refer. Like me, you might get inspired to read the series all over again.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.