Friday, July 30, 2010

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

An update on the Romeo and Juliet star-crossed lovers theme, this novel is told in the alternating voices of Brittany Ellis,a rich, blonde suburbanite who seems to be perfect and Alejandro Fuentes, a rough, poor gang member, trying to keep his family safe. This unlikely pair are forced together as chemistry partners for a project. Set in the burbs of Chicago, the trials and tribulations of this sympathetic couple makes a read that you just can't put down.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Nation of Amor Book Trailer

A Nation of Amor by Christopher McConnell

Set in Chicago's West Town neighborhood, the story begins in the 1960's with the Matos brothers, Angel, Bobo and Reynaldo. Frustrated with the way the Puerto Rican community is treated, the brothers form the Latin Kings street gang as a way to protect their people. McConnell, a native of Chicago's West side, vividly captures the dialogue and culture of the street. Told in alternating narratives by several main characters, the story paints a realistic portrait of tough choices, politics, corruption, gentrification and the immigrant experience.

Crank by Ellen Hopkins

On a summer trip to visit her long absent father, seventeen-year-old Kristina, a dutiful young girl and straight-A student, is introduced to meth aka crank. She immediately gets caught up in the unfamiliar yet captivating lifestyle of a crank addict and develops and alter ego - Bree. Once Kristina "shakes hands with the monster" her alter ego of Bree begins to take over, sending her life spiraling out of control, with devastating consequences. Hopkins, a former poet, writes the novel in free verse which gives the story even more impact. Hopkins also writes a short author's note to the reader, revealing that the story references her own struggle to save her daughter from "the monster."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I'm Down: a Memoir by Mishna Wolff

Mishna Wolff presents her amusing, bittersweet memoir about growing up with a divorced, white father who truly believes he is a black man, and begins a crusade to make his daughter "down." A sensitive, hilarious and hip story about an awkward white girl's struggle to fit in, in a working-class black neighborhood. Readers will relate to the author's challenge to develop her own identity in the midst of being pushed and prodded by her father and others to be what they want her to be. A highly recommended read.

Spanking Shakespeare by Jake Wizner

Shakespeare Shapiro hates his name, yet despite his angst, he is a lovable character that manages to see the humor in any situation. Wizner's portrayal of Shakespeare is never boring, in fact, he pushes the adolescent humor to the limit. As Shakespeare enters his senior year of high school, he humorously narrates the process of writing the memoir of his embarassing life. Adolescent male readers will find much material here to snicker about as Shakespeare puts his witty pen to his family, friends, and his quest to get a date.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

As the story begins, Percy Jackson seems like a typical, contemporary 12-year old from New York City - with a few extra problems: he has ADHD, he's also dyslexic, his father left before he was born, and he's been kicked out of six schools in six years. Unfortunately, things are going to get worse....Percy discovers that he is a demigod, i.e, he's half-human, and half-god, his father being Poseidon, God of the Sea! As if that isn't enough, he discovers his best friend is a satyr. Riordan has written a humorous and exciting adventure story that puts a contemporary spin on classical mthology. The first book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Read the book, then see the movie!

Brisingr by Christopher Paolini

The third book in the Inheritance Cycle finds Eragon and Saphira facing many new challenges in their quest to assist the Varden in destroying Galbatorix and his empire. Brisingr reveals long-held secrets that help to fill gaps in the story; though there are less battle scenes, they are more intense than in the previous two volumes. Fans will have to wait for the eagerly anticipated fourth book though to see how the quest ends. Readers of Fantasy, especially those who favor the work of J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, will enjoy this engaging series.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ruined: a Ghost Story by Paula Morris

Beat Voices: an anthology of Beat Poetry by David Kherdian

Kherdian presents a collection of American poetry by and about the Beat Generation, featuring such poets as Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Gregory Corso, Diane di Prima and others.
David Kherdian lived in San Francisco during the 1950's and '60's during the height of the beat movement, until "the Hippie invasion of Haight-Ashbury." His introduction presents an intimate look at some of the "Angel-headed Hipsters" of that influential literary and cultural movement. Many of the Beat poets were themselves influenced by William Blake and Walt Whitman, to name a few. The poetry of the Beats heralded a revolution that shaped future generations of poets. This book serves as an insightful introduction to the era and the poets that defined that era. Ms. Monegato