June 29, 2010
As a boy, Carlos wanted nothing more than to big like his big brother, Alex, a smart, tough member of the Latino Blood. Carlos’ world flips upside down when Alex chooses to get jumped out of the gang, not for his family but for a girl. A gringa.
Carlos, his younger brother and Mama all return to Mexico where they can live in safety until Carlos too joins a gang. Alex thinks he knows the answer. Bring Carlos up to Colorado.
But ties with a gang aren’t all that easy to break and Carlos isn’t willing to leave the fast life behind, not when it means going back to school and doing homework. Still, he can have a bit of fun tormenting Kiara, the straight-A student assigned to shepherd Carlos around his new school.
For her part, Kiara gives as good as she gets and soon she has Carlos way off balance.
When Carlos is set up on a drug charge, one of the university professors steps forward to take responsibility and take him into the family’s home. Kiara’s home. Now Carlos is around her 24/7 and even when they aren’t together, he can’t seem to get her out of his mind. Still, he can’t act on his feelings — it would mean pulling her down to his world and disappointing her parents who have risked so much to help him.
This is the sequel to Perfect Chemistry and an excellent book for summer reading. Why summer reading? Because that way when you stay up late to find out what happens (ask how I’d know), you don’t have to get up early for school the next morning.
Elkeles writes with true honesty for teens. This means that they deal with things that might not be suitable for younger readers — there is “on camera” drinking and drug use and sex as well (although the act itself is off camera). This isn’t voyeuristic as all is essential to the plot and none of it is treated flippantly, but it is something you might want to know if your child is a younger advanced reader.
Elkeles characters are beautifully complex and well worth getting to know. Carlos may be a gang member but she still shows him playing action figures and soccer with Kiara’s kid brother, someone he seeks to protect. Kiara, the outdoorsy, brainiac isn’t an angel either although her pranks are nothing compared to the world Alex has come to know. Secondary characters from the Professor to Tucker, Kiara’s best friend, are just as well drawn and sure to help pull in readers looking for a great novel.
June 26, 2010
Princess Addie and Princess Meryl may be sisters but the two are almost opposites. Fair Meryl wants nothing more than adventure, practicing sword play whenever she has the chance. Darker Addie would rather sit quietly and compose another artful piece of needlework, combining color and story.
But then disaster strikes, threatening Meryl’s life. The wait for the King’s return, hoping he will bring answers. Instead he brings resignation, prepared to await his daughter’s death.
Addie agonizes — she knows Meryl would face any dangers to save her life, is she not willing to do the same for her sister. So fearful Addie disguises herself and flees into the countryside to find the help they need. Bravery and magic, love and determination bring her to the answer so many so many have sought for so long.
In many ways, this tale is typical high fantasy — an epic journey means that a youthful protagonist must leave the comfort of the palace to face monsters of various kinds. Magic can help but magic alone is not the answer. A shy young woman must find the bravery to love herself, love others and even find respect for an age-old enemy.
Levine’s story doesn’t rely on fantasy conventions to keep the reader enthralled. She delivers a fully developed plot with well-rounded characters and a carefully considered world complete with history and folklore — no more or less true than our own.
The reading level for this middle-grade novel is low enough to aid a reluctant reader while the characters and story are advanced enough not to insult this reader by delivering childish fair. Though this story has humorous elements throughout, it is slightly more serious than Ella Enchanted but a rewarding princess story none-the-less. Fans of the Newbery Honor Novel (Ella Enchanted) would do well to pick this one up too.A good choice for a young fantasy lover but probably better for girls than boys.
June 15, 2010
And here is the new cover for Captured, the second book in the Prometheus Project series.
I have a special treat for you from author Douglas E. Richards. He kindly provided me a jpg of the cover art (see below) for the latest editions of Trapped and Captured. I liked the old art but this? Wow. Stronger covers. Bolder images. Someone did a bang up job.
There are three books (Trapped, Captured and Stranded) in the Prometheus Project series and they are truly a must read for young science lovers. I’ll give you the new cover art for Captured in the next posting.
June 7, 2010