Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Tabula Rasa by Kristin Lippert-Martin

Egmont, 2014

Sarah is in a the Center, head clamped into a halo, waiting for the drilling to begin.  She knows this is all part of the process for her and others in the hospital suffering from PTSD.  She takes her meds like she's supposed to, until one day an orderly hands her a note that reads:

"Take one pill at a time, at 24-hour intervals.
24 hours exactly.
Remain still after taking."

And the chain of events to fight and survive begin....

Sarah doesn't know her past very well because they are being erased one at a time to ease her PTSD...or is that what's happening?  The Center is creating a tabula rasa experience by slowing taking all things Sarah may have known through interactions and previous knowledge and giving her a completely blank slate.  A new start in life.  What the patients don't know is this is only the surface of what the Center is doing for its patients.  Sarah was complacent, at the least, with her decision but the truth about what the Center is truly about begins to crumble and her past life and memories they are trying so hard to erase is coming back, making connections...

At first she only knows bits and pieces, but slowly she realizes why there are people slowly hunting her down, who will stop at nothing to see her dead.  As the bullets fly and the people she knows dies, Sarah runs for her life straight into a stranger named Thomas, who has his own reason for being part of the Center's takedown.  Their relationship is tentative at first, not knowing who to trust or why each one should but when the walls surrounded their mysteries come down, doubt is replaced by a solid partnership and assurance which grows stronger between the two.

Together, Sarah and Thomas make a formidable alliance against the adults tracking their every move through stealth and state-of-the-art devices.  With Sarah's strength and daring paired with Thomas's finesse with computer hacking, both prepare for the battle ahead.  They meet both friends and strangers who become enemies or allies, which only adds to the fury that burns in Sarah when she finds out what that initial first cryptic message really means.  But can she survive an army of mercenaries with the help of one?

New YA author Kristen Lippert-Martin writes a story filled with action, plot, motive and deceit. Readers will instantly get drawn into the chaos fighting alongside the characters while the plot will keep them on the edge of their seats, waiting for more of the truth to be revealed.  This book will attract readers who love high intensity situations.  Think of movies like Mission Impossible or Taken and that is the mood Lippert creates through words and what mental images come to the readers mind.  This is one considered an ultimate page-turner!  Recommended upper JH/HS

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Reading Challenge 2015

When I started thinking about a personal reading challenge, I began to think about those books I kind of shy away from or don't read as much.  Once I started thinking about this, I decided to make a list and my 2015 reading challenge was born.  Here's the list that will not only challenge me to read, but also stretch my reading comfort level.  
Plus,'s fun :)  

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

Little Brown, 2015

Hazel, Ben and Jack have grown up together in the town of Fairfold, knowing it’s the most interesting on earth to live.  Tourists flock to this small town to see the main attraction in the middle of the forest, and sometimes they don’t come back.  The children have been brought up to know they should never act like tourists or they too, may disappear.  They keep iron and oatmeal in their pockets and don’t venture into the woods on a full moon.  They hang special herbs on their lintels and wear them in small bags around their necks.  They do this because Fairfold is a truly different, one where humans and faeries live side by side.  There is a reason the residents protect themselves from the faerie folk as well as the other magical and dangerous creatures of the forest that are from another realm.  And the main attraction?  A beautiful boy with horns, asleep in a glass casket that is unbreakable.

Hazel and Ben are brother and sister and when they were little, they played at being a knight who kills evil creatures and the boy who can sing them into submission.  As they grow older, their child play is forgotten and other people and attentions take over.  Now as teens, they go to parties where Hazel kisses the boys and Ben hangs out with his best friend Jack, who himself has an interesting past.

But things in Fairfold begin to unravel, especially when the boy with horns wakes up.  The morning after, Hazel wakes up knowing she had something to do with his awakening but keeps her secret hidden.  When Ben and Hazel decide to search for the beautiful boy with horns, Jack warns them not to, asking them to take heed of his warnings.  They decide to pursue the object of their fascination regardless, not knowing that this awakening has also roused a most terrible monster of the forest who will wreak havoc and destroy anyone who stands in its way.  There is only one solution, but can Hazel and Ben meet the challenge or will they be destroyed as well? 

 A popular sing-song rhyme all of the kids in town know goes like this:
There’s a monster in our wood. 
She’ll get you if you’re not good. 
Drag you under leaves and sticks. 
Punish you for all your tricks. 
A nest of hair and gnawed bone.
You are never, ever coming…
And the one thing they’ve learned is to never ever say the last word.  It’s too late now….

Readers can tell with this novel that Holly Black knows how to write fantasy.  From the setting to the characters to the thickening plot, Black puts her special spin on the story, weaving a beautiful type of lyric onto the pages.  She makes her characters real but has a gift of also making things other than human come to life.  The forest and town aren’t just places, but living and breathing entities, just like the characters.  The main characters in this novel are dynamic and so different from each other but yet maintain a triad that can’t be broken without breaking the storyline.  It wouldn’t work without the trio…those three characters belong together.  It’s been awhile since I’ve read urban fantasy, and am glad this is the book to take me back there again.  Fantasy readers will very much DEVOUR this book and be satisfied with an ending to the tale without hanging on the strings of a sequel (although the adventures could continue in a completely different realm).  HIGHLY recommended for upper junior high and high school.  Even better, it'll be published January 2015!