Friday, August 15, 2014

Six Strings by Jen Sanya Williamson

YA sci-fi romance


Riley Witt is running out of time.

Battling Alzheimer’s disease, Riley’s grandmother Mary suffers from memory loss, mood swings, and a tendency to wander off.

As senior year approaches, Riley has to face the reality that the one person she depends on most is slowly fading. Making matters worse, when Mary does remember the past, she tells tales of time travel and visions. As Mary’s version of the past gets more confused, Riley knows they are running out of time together.

But when Riley discovers a guitar belonging to a famous rock star at Mary’s house, the truth behind the crazy tales finally comes out.

SIX STRINGS tells the story of Riley’s journey back to 1973 where she enters a world of music, long-lost family, and first love. Her adventure is all about discovering her past, understanding her present, and figuring out how to step into her future.

Time travel stories (especially ones involving love) can sometimes go awry, especially because there's so many of them out there. It takes a certain spark to make one stand out in the crowd, and for me, that spark was Mary. I immediately found myself sympathizing with Riley, whose beloved grandmother is descending into Alzheimer's. When I was a senior in high school, my grandfather (whom I was very close to) was also suffering from Alzheimer's, so I could completely relate. It's terrifying when someone you've known your whole life goes through days when he/she can no longer recognize you.

Riley's story goes from there. I loved all the characters in the present: her dorky father, strict mother, and loyal best friend (who might also be in love with her!!). Her adventure to the 1970's gives us a whole new set of character, including a grandfather she never had the chance to know, an arrogant musician who turns out to be Riley's real father, and Lucas, another musician who might be the one for Riley ... if only he wasn't living 30 some odd years in the past! There is also a teenage version of Riley's mother -- who behaves very, very teenagerish indeed. 

I'm really interested to see where this series will go, especially with the growing relationship between Riley and Lucas. I also kind of adored Nathan, Riley's 'platonic' best friend, and want to see how/if that relationship develops as well. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

YA Fantasy

This second novel begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine's island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.

Complete with dozens of newly discovered (and thoroughly mesmerizing) vintage photographs, this new adventure will delight readers of all ages.

I read Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children a few years ago with my book club. I was ambivalent about the book -- I liked the idea of shaping a novel around found antique pictures, but there was something a bit too creative writing workshoppy about it. I felt the pictures drove the plot, rather than the characters' motivations, and that isn't a great thing.

I found myself liking Hollow City a  lot more. Place has a lot to do with it -- the children are thrust into 1940's wartime Britain, and the dangers are both real (falling bombs) and fantastical (wights and hollows). On the way, the gang meets more peculiar children (they actually seem to be everywhere, which was a bit implausible, but whatever), discover hidden strengths, and fight to save their beloved Miss Peregrine. The twist at the end was something I didn't expect, but on retrospect there were clues. 

Best of all, I found myself relating more to Jacob, our protagonist. For the first time in his life, he isn't an ordinary rich kid. He's special, even among children with extraordinary qualities. But does he want to follow in his grandfather's footsteps, or does he want to go home and reunite with his parents? His dilemma resonated with me. 

After months of barely even glancing at books, this was a great, quick read. Perfect for summer!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

I'm Back!

I've been sick. So sick, in fact, that I barely read anything for almost a month. And this is really sick, because I'm the girl who can lie on the bathroom floor with the stomach flu, burning my way through vampire paperbacks and middle grade romances. I used to enjoy having the flu, because it meant having more time to read. 

So instead of reading, I lay on the couch and watched a lot of Netflix. I watched the entire Eureka series, and I'm halfway through Warehouse 13, what my boyfriend refers to as 'sci-fi lite.' Every once in a while I glanced longingly at the dozens of books waiting to be cracked open, but I just didn't have the energy.

I'm happy to say that I'm finally feeling better, and back in the wonderful world of reading. I have a review of Ransom Riggs' Hollow City coming up, and a mother-daughter reading session that I actually did back in June (my mother keeps bugging me about reading the next book in the series!). I also have a bunch of overdue library books I need to return, but we won't talk about that. Errr.

Anyway. It's good to be back. :)