blo Teens Read and Write: August 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

17 Again

When my mom and sister came back from the video store with this one I gave them a ton of crap for it, but when we started watching it I was eating my words. I was pleasantly surprised by this movie, and as much as I make fun of Zac Efron he was actually really really good.

It starts out in 1989 with a 17-year-old Mike O'Donnell (Zac Efron) as the high school jock but without the big fat jerk attitude. His whole future is resting on this basketball game where the big college scout is checking him out. But just before the game starts he figures out that his girlfriend is pregnant and decides that he wants to support her and the baby instead of going to college, so he runs off the court kissing the girlfriend Scarlett hello but his college dreams good-bye.

Jump forward 20 years to see a depressed and separated Mike (Matthew Perry) who works as a sales rep and lives with his nerdy and now rich best friend Ned (Thomas Lennon) because he and Scarlett are getting a divorce. Mike has become a whiny jerk who feels like he has missed out on all the great things in life because he gave up his dreams to be husband and dad. (Once again proving my point that children are youth sucking dream killers.) So his wife is divorcing him and his kids don't want to have anything to do with him either.

While reminiscing at this old high school about his glory days a strange janitor asks him if he'd like to go back and then disappears. Later that night while driving home Mike spots the mysterious janitor about to jump of a bridge and while trying to save him, Mike falls in too. When he awakens he is "17 Again" and must figure out what his purpose is and find a way to change back, so he and Ned tell everyone that he is Ned's long lost son and off he goes back to his old high school.

This movie is really funny. Really really funny. What makes so hysterical is the best friend Ned. He notched this up to a must see. Ned is to this movie what George (Rupert Everett) was to My Best Friends Wedding. His house is decked out with everything Star Wars/Lord of the Rings/ and any fantasy movie/book you can think of. He wears pointed fairy ears and his bed is a replica of the hovercraft that Luke Skywalker rode around in. And then his attempts to woo the gorgeous principal are an absolute hoot!

Mike first goes to school dressed in the identical clothes that he saw K-Fed wear. He doesn't realize he looks 'like a douche' but Ned does and takes him shopping with his Black AmEx card for cool clothes and a $100,000 car. Now everyone wants to be Mike's friend.

He has to contend with his daughter's moronic, sex-crazed criminal element boyfriend, his son being bullied and humiliated by the moronic boyfriend, and of course he realizes he's still madly in love with his wife. She's drawn to him too but freaked out by the fact that she has this connection with a 17-year-old!

The scene where they are dancing and their son walks in on them is a riot. And then Scarlett's date shows up and Mike is not happy, and then there's the scene with Mike it the Sex Ed class and the teacher is handing out condoms to everyone, including his daughter...Mike freaks out and hilarity (and an emotional scene) ensues. I could go on and on.

I thought this movie would be a big fat waste of time and now, I've gotta tell you, get your hands on this move and watch it. It's laugh out loud funny and a great family flick for everyone of all ages to enjoy together!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Our First Win in a Book Giveaway!

We are thrilled to be winners in a giveaway for Cold Streak! A great big bundle of thanks to Eleni at La Femme Readers for having the contest!

Cold Streak by Lewis Aleman looks like a great read.

Laura's family is brutally murdered, and she finds herself on her knees praying for things she never could have imagined. Her dark journey of revenge takes off as she hunts her family's killers, while being chased down by a troubled detective, his lovelorn partner, and an inner voice that grants her no peace. Her quest lures her through an explosive music scene, down unlit alleyways, to the edge of a towering church rooftop, and into the nightmarish landscape of her own mind. Will she get her justice before time runs out? Will her own lust for vengeance consume all that is left of her in the process?

Thanks again, Eleni! I love a good thriller and this looks fabulous.

Just a reminder, we will be rolling out our first giveaway next week so keep an eye out. Then we will have a chance to make other bookaholics as happy as Eleni has made us!

Has anyone read Cold Streak yet? What did you think?

Here's the trailer. Looks a bit gorey!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Eyes Like Stars

Eyes Like Stars: Theater Illuminata, Act 1
by Lisa Mantchev
Pub: July 2009
368 pages

"All her world's a stage.
Bertie Shakespeare Smith is not an actress, yet she lives in a theatre.
She's not an orphan, but she has no parents.
She knows every part, but she has no lines of her own.
That is, until now...

Welcome to Theatre Illuminata, where the actors of every play ever written can be found behind the curtain. They were born to play their parts, and are bound to the Theatre by The Book - an ancient and magical tome of scripts. Bertie is not one of them, but they are her family - and she is about to lose them all and the only home she has ever known."

When I started this book, I was not captivated, but it was either read Eyes Like Stars or stare out the window for the three hour drive. I chose wisely.

The book gets off to a slow and confusing start - and admittedly, straight fantasy is not my thing, so maybe to others it won't be confusing at all. Anyway, we begin with Bertie in her room, which is a stage set and shortly thereafter we learn she's getting the boot... conflict right from the start.

I honestly can't tell you where the turning point was, but one minute I'm slugging along and the next I'm tripping over my dogs because I can't tear my eyes from the pages long enough to ensure safe passage from the car to the front door.

My favorite part of the book - other than the one-of-a-kind world Lisa Mantchev created - is the characters we get to meet in a new light. Ophelia and Hamlet from...well,Hamlet, the wonderfully obnoxious fairies from a Midsummer Night's Dream, MacBeth, pirates from the Little Mermaid...the list goes on and on. And don't worry, you don't have to be familiar with the plays to get all the jokes.

I've read reviews saying Bertie comes off younger than seventeen, I say many seventeen-year-olds are like Bertie, some are just better at hiding it. Bertie is wildly entertaining, a Queen of Improvisation, and caught in a love triangle right from the start. That's always fun!

I'd peg this a must read. At one point the story felt a little Inkheart-ish, but it was fleeting, leaving Eyes Like Stars a unique and entertaining read. And don't you just love the cover? Who wants her hair?

Have you ever had a book start out so slow that you almost put it down, but you keep going and BAM! it turns out to be fantastic?

Our Blog Rocks! Lori Said So!

Thank you Lori at Psychotic State for honoring us with the 'Your Blog Rocks' Award. We are humbled and grateful. Now we would like to give the award to 5 other fantastic bloggers!

And the winners are.....
Thanks again, Lori. Congrats to all these great bloggers and keep it up!

The Lemonade Award! Thanks Jessica!

Yay! Another award!

Thank you so much to Jessica at a Book Lover's Diary for the bestowing on us the wonderful Lemonade Award.

The Lemonade Award is a feel good award that shows great attitude or gratitude. Here are the rules for accepting this award:
- Put the Lemonade Award logo on your blog or post.

-Link your nominees within your post.
-Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.

-Share the love and link to the person from whom you received the award.

Our nominees are:

You guys are great! And thanks again, Jessica!

Tuesday Teaser - The Graveyard Book

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. I found it today over at Ryan G's Wordsmithonia

Here is how it works:

Grab the book you are currently reading (anything at all)
Open the book to any random page.
Share 2 "teaser" sentences from anywhere on the page.
Please Make Sure They Are Not Spoilers!
(Don't Give Too Much Away) Just enough to pique our interest.
List the book and author so other participants can get their hand on it if they choose to read it as well.

For This Week I Have:

There was a hand in the darkness and it held a knife. The knife had done almost everything it was brought to that house to do, and both the blade and the handle were wet.

And this is from the first page! Love this book. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Do you think this is a great opening? What are some of your favorites?

Monday, August 24, 2009


Hey guys, if you love The Darkest Powers series (I do!) here's some good news...

The third in the Trilogy isn't out until next year but Kelley Armstrong has the first 3 chapters posted on her website if you want to take a look.

I haven't decided it I want to read them yet because I might be miserable with only being able to read this 'teaser' and then have to wait.

What are you going to do? And if you do read it, give me your opinion...Do you like it? Do you think I should read it? Tell me, tell me!

BUT BE AWARE... if you haven't read the first two books in the series, there will be spoilers in these chapters so read with caution! And let me know what you think!

Mega Book Giveaway Coming Soon!

Our first book giveaway is coming soon!!!

We'll be giving away a multitude of books (in the double digits) and have several winners so keep an eye out because you do not want to miss this.

Getting extra points will include being a follower and subscriber and having us on your blogroll, and... you'll get extra points for already being a follower, or subscriber or already having us on your blogroll. So thanks for all of you with us already and you will get extra points for your support!

We're excited and can't wait to give away some books!

So what book(s) would you love to see included in our giveaway...What are you dying to read? We'd love the input and will try to include at least some of your choices!


By Shannon Hale
Pub: April 2005
400 pages

Have a thing for fairy tales? You know, like Cinderella, the Frog Princess, and all those frilly princess stories? Well, this is a princess story that has its frilly moments, but also quite a few touching, funny, and pretty hard core moments as well.

Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee is the Crown Princess of Kildenree. Ani's aunt tells strange tales and unlocks a new language for Ani - the language of animals. But when her aunt is banished, and Ani finds people don't trust her because of her 'gift' she strives to be normal and live up the the high standards a Crown Princess should possess.

But, Ani doesn't think she fits the part very well, and she finds out that neither did her mother. Soon, she is sent away to be the Queen of a foreign land that seems to hold all kinds of trouble and Ani is right in the middle of it.

This whimsical tale weaves action, turmoil, and exiting unexpected turns throughout the plot. Also, a bit of a romantic twist kept my girlish self interested. Ani is probably one of my favorite princesses ever, simply because she is easy to relate to.

I personally get bored very quickly with back and forth dialogue but I found that even the conversations in this book kept me intrigued because if I skipped around, I was sure to miss something. Here is what Stephenie Meyer had to say about this book. "Shannon Hale's book reignites my love of reading-that joy of having the time of my life with a great story." If the author of Twilight said that, it has to be a good book, right?

Of course, I have to give you my opinion of the book, and I give it a thumbs up. A fun story that produced some of my favorite quotes and that got me to read it aloud in the accent that I thought Ani might have had. A story that does that to me has to be one of my favorites. I hope you can add it to your favorites list as well!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Girls and Vamps!

Chasing Ray has a great post about girls loving bloodsucking vampires.

There is a panel of authors giving lots of interesting opinions. I read it but haven't had a chance to comment. Check it out and put in your two cents! The discussions are always fantastic with a lot of interaction between the folks who comment!

And just for fun, here is the latest New Moon trailer with a bit of commentary from Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner, yeah, I know the characters aren't real...unnfortunately). Enjoy!


Yes, we won another award! Rachel, the goddess of generousity over at Book Wars was kind enough to give us a Super Comments Award. Thank you for the honor.!To pay it forward, here are our picks:

Okbo Lover

Tanita Davis at Guys Lit Wire

Nikola at Nikola's Book Blog

Congrats and keep sharing those lovely comments with everyone!

Alyssa, Jake, Gregory and Anna


We get to now vote for our choices for the Zombie Chicken Awards thanks to our award from Lisa at Book Blab. These are tough choices because we have met so many wonderful bloggers with fantastic blogs but here goes.

Here's a bit about the award...

The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken - excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all.

Here are our choices:

Congrats! We love you and your blogs!
Alyssa, Jake, Gregory and Anna

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Is anyone else having trouble commenting? Rachel Connell and Lisa Jemus were kind enough to let us know that they couldn't post comments on our new blog. Thank you ladies for the heads-up.

Well, all of us went on and were able to post comments. The only trouble we had was once we couldn't see the verification box to put in the funky letters. All we did to fix that was hit the TAB key and that took us directly to the verification box and all went through fine.

If you are having trouble commenting please contact us at We appreciate the help.

And about that Zombie Chicken...

Lisa over at Book Blab generously gave us our first award! Yes, it is the prestigious Zombie Chicken and she was kind enough to send me a message (see below) when our comments weren't working.

Hey Alyssa! I have been trying to post a comment on your blog today but I'm having trouble so here goes!

I LOVE your blogs, and I'm not sure if you've had one of these before but I wanted to give you an award! You are one of the most supportive and nicest book bloggers out there, PLUS your blogs ROCK!

Here is the award link!

Thank you again Lisa!


Here is my addition to Marg and Eva's Library Loot.

Okay, you have got to understand that our local library rarely has great literary loot... I mean readily available on the shelves. You can order anything but we live in a rural area and the library is barely bigger than my bedroom! So when I go, I never expect to find any of the new hot picks at my finger tips. However, today I was proven wrong.

I did put in requests for many books (Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins? I'm 103rd on the list so it will be a while folks). But I have to tell you that I found two great new books that I have heard wonderful things about.

Savvy by Ingrid Law (which I heard about at the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Conference that I just went to from the agent and editor that were involved in getting it published) and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman which I had also heard is fabulous.

So you better believe I snapped them up pronto. How thrilled am I? And I have got to tell you that I read the first couple of pages of The Graveyard Book on my way home (Well, my mom read me the first couple of pages while I was driving us home) and I am totally hooked. Let me give you the first line of the book...

There was a hand in the darkness and it held a knife.

Don't you love it! And the following lines just get better. I can't wait to read it. Although now my brothers and I (and my mom) are fighting over who gets to read it first!

I also found Thirsty by M.T. Anderson which is an oldie vampire book but looks good. A magical day at the library for a bookaholic!

Have you ever found surprising gems at your library? Are you a fan of Neil Gaiman? What do you think of the first line of The Graveyard Book?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Ugly Truth

I know what you thought when you first saw the trailer or poster for this bad boy, "Holy Crap! It's Gerard Butler!" That's what I said the first time I saw it which was quickly followed by my mom asking me "What's he been in?" Commence eye roll.

And here's the content warning. First off this is rated R but in relation to other R's out there, this is is on the light side. There isn't much nudity (Wait, come back!) You only see one guy's bare bottom one time as I recall, there is a fair amount of swearing and generous doses of sexual content, innuendo and suggestive language. Now that THAT'S out of the way...

Abby (Katherine Heigl) is the producer of a failing morning talk show that hires a vulgar but intelligent host of a late night show where he, Mike (Gerard Butler without his Irish accent) tells people The Ugly Truth about the relationships between men and women. (Basically. men are pigs, women should deal with it, and love is a fallacy.) She's high class and...well, he isn't but they are forced to work together because this guy's antics get ratings.

As is expected shenanigans ensue but they end up being friends and then more... blah blah blah. Okay, the ending is predictable but it's a hilarious ride.

The man of her dreams happens to live right next door, gorgeous hunk doctor Colin (Eric Winter), and control-freak Abby needs help to snag his interest. As much as she can't stand Mike's attitude, she realizes that he can help her. The movie gains momentum and laughs when Mike starts "training her" to woo Colin.

Constantly funny with rarely a dull moment. The scene with vibrating underwear isn't as racy as it sounds, just funny. You have to see it for yourself to get the full belly laughs. The story is generic and you know the ending just from watching the trailer, but you get so caught up in the comedy that you don't care!

All in all this is definitely worth seeing... for older teens. But if you're one of those people who is easily offended then you should leave this one alone. However if you're not and want to have a bazillion laughs and a knee-slapping good time, go check it out and let me know what you think!

Teaser Tuesday

Here's my teaser for Psychotic State. I'm currently reading King Dork by Frank Portman.

I bought into the idea that he had been killed in an ordinary car crash for several years. But gradually I started to pick up on little hints that it wasn't quite that straightforward.


Mary Lindsey has written a paranormal romance, one of my favorite genres, called Soul Purpose. It's not out yet but I'll be sure to let you know when it is. But she just put out a book trailer on YouTube and I wanted to share it because I think it's great. Soul Purpose is about...

Sixteen-year-old Lenzi Arnold assumes she's going crazy when she begins hearing voices. After discovering the cause, she wishes it were that simple.Lenzi learns she has the ability to interact with spirits and help them resolve issues that keep them earth-bound. She discovers that she is a recycled soul who has done this for many lifetimes with her protector, Alden.The problem is that she has past-life amnesia and doesn't remember any of it—especially Alden, who acts like they are best friends or maybe something more…and she's not sure she can handle her own problems, much less those of pushy dead people.Alden has to convince Lenzi of her special purpose before the Intercessor Council discovers there is something wrong and discontinues her soul. He must also prepare her to battle Nicaragua Smith, an evil spirit who has haunted her since the Civil War.SOUL PURPOSE follows Lenzi through her struggle to reconcile the rebellious, underachieving girl she is, with the powerful, confident woman she was in her past lives.

Tell me what you think and if you want to give her direct feedback, head over to Mary's blog post. She also has a cool website where you can learn more about her and also follow her on twitter.

What do you think of book trailers in general? What do you like in them and what do you not? Do you have any favorites? Put in a link if you do!

Monday, August 17, 2009


For a while I was truly a bit afraid to read this book out loud. Of course, you'll have to read it to see what I mean.

Meggie and her father live a normal, book lovers life; until a villain from their favorite book escapes the pages and lands straight in their living room. All of a sudden, Meggie is thrown in the middle of a world she's only read about. She must learn how to change a story that's already been written.

This book starts with a bang in the very first chapter. In fact, it was probably the book that got me caught up in the intriguing world of fantasy. It is a fresh idea that takes a book lover to places-well, places they only read about.

Although the ending to this book didn't quite prepare me for a sequel, do to the fact it seemed so resolved, it definitely wasn't disappointing. One of my favorite lines in the book is the last sentence. "As Moe had said: writing stories is a kind of magic too." This book isn't only fun for thrill seeking readers, but gave me, as a wannabe writer some food for thought.

To cap it all off, I do personally recommend this book, but of course, you'll have to read it yourself to come to your own opinion. I have read Inkheart at least three times in the course of a year, and I like it so much I will probably read it many, many more times.


Over at Nikola's Book Blog you can win two, yes I said two, fantastic books. They are Katherine Neville's The Eight and The Fire. It's a great chance to get your hands on some great reading material and if you haven't seen Nikola's blog, you're in for a treat!

Check it out! Contest ends 8/28.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Okay, I don't know what happened but yesterday our blogroll just up and disappeared. I think blogger ate it. Many nice people responded to my plea of help and some said it had happened to them but the blogroll came back eventually. Well, I have waited a day and nothing so I am putting them back on again.

So if you were on our blogroll but don't see yourself now, please be patient as I am getting them back on. Anyone who is a follower will go on and I'll be putting everyone else on in the next few days. It would really help if you were on (or want to be on) my blogroll, if you would send me an email with your blog link and I promise to get it on! Send it to

I love all my fellow book bloggers and will work desperately to get them back on...and hopefully find even more great ones!

So be patient and help me if you can.

P.S. I'm traveling over the next few days but will still be working on it. Happy weekend everyone!


Lisa over at Book Blab has a great giveaway for 360 Degrees of Longitude which is a book she highly recommends on her review. It's a true story about a family's trip around the world. I thought it sounded like a great read. I'm usually not a big non-fiction fan but this one sounded like a blast! Check out her blog and sign up to win a copy! (Contest ends 9/1.)

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Remember when we showed you the different covers (with different titles) for the first Harry Potter book? Well, I just found a great new blog called My Life is an Effing Fairy Tale and she did this fantastic post comparing US vs UK covers.

It's great and I want to steal her idea for a future blog but in the meantime, go take a look at the post and be sure to comment. It's great fun to see the different opinions and the Twilight UK cover is...uh...Okay, I'm speechless. You'll just have to look for yourself!

You'll see I already did still the idea on the small scale. Here are the two versions of The Summoning. The one on the right is the US version and I don't know that the one on the left is the UK but they used it somewhere. What do you think?

Thanks Sarah for a great post and for inspiring me!

Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


We are participating in the One Shot, hosted (I guess that the right word) by Colleen Mondor of Chasing Ray. She picked the region or country - in this case South East Asia - and we pick books about that area or by authors of that area. With a little help from Colleen and her friends over at Chasing Ray, we were able to decide on three great books.

Be sure to check out the reviews for all three; Song of the Buffalo Boy, Cracker! The Best Dog in Vietnam and The Killing Sea. There's someting for everyone! And go to the Chasing Ray sight to get a list of other bloggers who did the same. It's a great way to check out wonderful reads that you might never have discovered.

So read on and thanks to Colleen and everyone else who participated!

Alyssa, Jake and Gregory


Song of the Buffalo Boy
By Sherry Garland
Pub: April 1994
288 pages

Loi didn’t ask t be different. Yet, the people of her small village in Vietnam treat her like an outsider because she’s the daughter of a Vietnamese mother and an American soldier—a human reminder of the Vietnam War. Only Khai, a buffalo tender, sees her for who she really is. But when he professes his love for Loi, his parents disapprove of the match.

When she is promised to a violent middle-aged man instead, Loi escapes to Ho Chi Minh City where she plans to reunite with Khai, marry, and go to America. After months of waiting and no sign of Khai, she is granted passage to the United States—but if she leaves Vietnam alone, will she ever find her beloved Khai? If she stays, will she miss the chance to meet the father she has dreamed of for seventeen years?”

I’m not much for romances, but I was enthralled with Song of the Buffalo Boy. Not only was the relationship between Loi and Khai incredibly sweet, but Sherry Garland kept us guessing up until the very end. America or Khai?

Song of the Buffalo Boy gave me some eye opening insight to life after the Vietnam war. Mrs. Garland must have done a ton of research... the detail of the simple farming life and the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City were vivid and compelling. The landscape, the country and its culture become an integral part of the novel.

The characters are easy to relate to and I became very attached to the main characters and the outcome of their lives. I put myself in Loi's shoes and asked myself what I would do in her situation.

The book shows Loi's journey to find answers outside herself and also within. The relationship with her mother is poignant and shows how children often judge their parents without truly understanding the paths their parents have journeyed and the reasons behind the choices they have made.

All and all, Song of the Buffalo Boy is a great book that keeps a steady pace and your interest. It's a quiet story with depth and meaning, that touches on prejudice, cultural beliefs, family loyalty, acceptance, forgiveness and of course love. It's a novel with a lot to offer.


Cracker! The Best Dog in Vietnam
By Cynthia Kadohata
Pub: Oct 2008

This book tells the story of a Vietnam War hero...well, two actually and one isn't human. It's told from two points of view. A young soldier named Rick Hanski and a German shepard named Cracker.

Rick was a small town man who was going to inherit his father's hardware store but that didn't interest him. Instead he enlisted in the military and ends up as a dog-handler but is paired up with the meanest dog in the division.

That would be Cracker who has a sad back-story. Originally an impressive show dog, an injury forces her out of the show circuit and she is given a young boy as a pet. Here she is happy but unfortunate circumstances put the boy's family into an apartment that doesn't allow dogs. With just a few weeks to get rid of the her, the boy, Willy, found an ad in the paper that said the US army needed German Shepards and Labradors to go to Vietnam. Shortly after, Cracker is taken away from her beloved boy and shipped off across the world.

She was unhappy and confused and snapped at everybody who came near her kennel, even biting one poor guy. Rick is assigned Cracker and attempts to win her trust. Finally cracker and rick became best friends and she would listen to every word he would say and she could find bombs, trip wires, and people she never made a mistake she was good. All training was done and they were off to Vietnam.

Ricks first mission in Vietnam was keep 40 men safe by finding booby traps and helping to set up ambush sights. Fast becoming the best team in Vietnam, Rick and Cracker are picked to go on a secret mission with Special Forces. Rick and Cracker have many great successes where Cracker shows her bravery but none are so impressive as when they end up being ambushed by the Viet Cong.

When they disembark off a helicopter on this particular mission, Cracker immediately knows something is wrong but no one will listen to Rick when he tries to warn his companions. Shortly after, shots ring out and the entire squad is peppered with bullets flying everywhere. Rick goes down wounded and Cracker immediately covers him with her own body to protect him. He needs to get to his weapon and fire back so he is forced to kick off Cracker who then runs off into the jungle.

After the battle, Cracker is no where to be found and while Rick wants to find her, he is too badly wounded and has to be taken away to get medical care. Cracker is gone and Rick is devastated. Weeks and months go by. Alone in the jungle, Cracker desperately looks everywhere for Rick.

Recuperating, Rick wants to look for her himself but his injuries prevent him from doing so. He calls in every favor and uses any connection he can think of to try to find her, buy nobody has any luck. And then...okay I can't give away the whole book. But for those who want a happy ending, I can assure you that you will be please with the final pages of the book.

The story has good action but it is the relationship between Rick and Cracker that holds your interest. I also enjoyed the insight to the Vietnam war and the dog handler division in our military. Adding Cracker's point of view works well in the story and never becomes silly or cheesy.

I highly recommend this book in general but if you're a dog (or animal) lover, you can't miss reading Cracker, The Best Dog in Vietnam, for a heartwarming and satisfying experience.


The Killing Sea
By Richard Lewis
Pub: April 2008
256 pages

This is a compelling story that follows two kids struggling to survive and find family and safety during the aftermath of a massive tidal wave.

It's written by someone who should know. Richard Lewis lives in Indonesia, experienced the 2004 tsunami firsthand and worked as a relief worker in the days and weeks following the tidal wave.

Sarah is spending Christmas sailing around Indonesia with her parents, brother, and a mangy cat they found in a gutter called Surf Cat. But when tragedy strikes and the massive tidal wave leaves her mother dead and dad missing she is forced to forge forward to find a safe refuge and medical care for her brother, who is getting increasingly worse.

The other character you follow is young Ruslan. He is a native of the island, Aceh, and fancies himself an artist. He works at a local coffee shop where he meets Sarah and her family before the disaster. When the wave strikes his father, the local mechanic, is aboard a ship close to shore, or so we think. Ruslan finds a letter from his father explaining that he actually went to meet his mothers relatives in a dangerous rebel-occupied area and didn't want his son to worry. Now Ruslan must traverse the dangerous coast line, avoid military soldiers and rebels, and find his father without getting killed.

The story is written with chapters alternating perspectives between Sarah and Ruslan, which worked but it did take a bit of getting used to. The book kept me intrigued until the very end. Each chapter set up a cliffhanger ending which kept me reading throughout the night.

The characters feel very real and I felt I could relate to how they handled their problems. I held my breath at some parts, worried and unsure of what would happen next. Ruslan narrowly escapes on a motorcycle while dodging bullets from military soldiers. He also gets attacked by a giant python, Sarah has to deal with a water buffalo trying to jump into her boat, and both of them have to steal a jeep to avoid another deadly military attack. Lewis brings the reader along for the ride, puts you in the middle of the action and makes you care about the characters.

The Killing Sea is a wonderful book which I enjoyed immensely. Lewis' first hand accounts add a fabulous realism to the characters experiences. I recommend this novel to anyone who likes action, suspense, and just plain awesome!

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Midnight Charter

By David Whitley
Pub: Sept 1, 2009
336 pages

Do you need something? Well you aren't going to get it if you don't have something worthwhile to trade...not in Agora anyways.

Mark comes from the slums of Agora, only managing to escape the deadly plague because his father sold him. Lily is the servant who takes care of Mark in his new home. In their world where everything -including their lives- can be bought and sold, their only goal is survival.

When the two get a chance to switch lives, they take it. Lily goes outside in the world and Mark remains in the tower, acting as a servant to the mysterious Count. While Mark moves up in fame and fortune, becoming a wondrous astrologer, Lily starts the first Almshouse for the poor. Both of their lives remain entwined, seemingly by destiny. But when Lily discovers the Midnight Charter -started by Agora's founders- she realizes that her city and its elite have some very serious secrets. She and Mark are forced to make dangerous decisions...some that may alter the very future of Agora itself.

Creative and interesting, but also a book that makes you think. The Midnight Charter does have a distinct message hidden in it, but not the cliche messages that often bore one to tears when reading a YA novel.

In the beginning the book slid along quickly and smoothly, keeping me completely mesmerized by Agora's political intrigue and intertwined secrets. As the book slows down a bit, you are attached enough to the characters to continue reading. And if you stick with it to the end, well, the revealing of the mysteries was all the reward I needed.

Overall, I recommend this book for people who enjoy hidden meanings spiced masterfully with entertainment. I would read this book again, simply to uncover more and more of the secrets.
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