Waiting for Gonzo

gonzo

Title: Waiting for Gonzo

Author: Dave Cousins

Publisher: Flux

Release Date: January 8, 2015

Waiting for Gonzo, has moments of comedy, touches of friendship, and a lot of family dynamics. The family in question is the Osbournes, who have just moved to the middle of nowhere England. Son Oz, is attempting to fit in with his classmates, and in the process makes a mistake; he drew a mustache on a photo in the school hallway, of Isobel “Psycho” Skinner. Psycho Skinner happens to be a neighbor and repeatedly terrifies Oz with her giant dog. He causes a car accident which results in his mother breaking her arm. And ultimately embarrassing his only new friend.  Yet, Oz’s mistakes are nothing compared to what he finds out about his sister, Meg- she is pregnant.

The entire story is told in letters Oz writes to G, his  not yet born nephew that he has affectionately nicknamed Gonzo. He holds nothing back, the trouble he had making friends,  Meg’s indecision when it about how to handle the pregnancy and Meg’s plans to rob a bar. These moments are retold with the sense of humor only a teenage boy could muster.

Since You’ve Been Gone

since youve been gone

Title: Since You’ve Been Gone

Author: Mary Jennifer Payne

Publisher: Dundrum

Release Date: Jan. 24, 2015

This book is about a very serious subject, at a time when it is all over the news; domestic violence. Since You’ve Been Gone shows just how serious this topic can be for those families. We meet Edie just as she is about to flee to London (from Canada) with her mother to escape her abusive father. They can not tell anyone where they are going, or even that they are going. Once in London, Edie must once again restart her life, hiding the fact that her mother works nights, and must leave Edie alone.

Until one morning when Edie wakes up to find that her mother has not returned from her new job. Edie is determined not to alert the police and end up in foster care, or worse back with her father, so she sets out to find her mother herself, while maintaining her school presence.

This is where the story lost me. I can not imagine my mother disappearing and still managing to make it to school the entire week, pretending like nothing is wrong. During this time the “bad” boy at her school takes an interest with her, and she admits to him about her mother. That weekend, together, they begin the quest to track down Edie’s mother. All the while they are able to stop to flirt over lunch. (Again another detail that just doesn’t sit right with me!)

The book keeps true to the serious nature of domestic violence and the sadly realistic outcomes in these situations, but  I just could not put myself into Edie’s shoes and make the same decisions.

The Bodies We Wear

Bodies we wear

Title: The Bodies We Wear

Author: Jeyn Roberts

Publisher: Random House Children’s

Release Date: September 23, 2014

I have been marinating on this review for a while. The setting is distinct, a somewhat future city, riddled by a new drug; Heam. Users are reported to view heaven, or in some cases hell, while on Heam. Overdoses are common, those that do survive are left with vein like blue scars radiating from their heart all over their chest. With such obvious markings, those people are completely ostracized by the community.

We meet Faye, a 17 year old, who overdosed on Heam when she was just 11 years old. Faye’s father owed money to a drug dealer and Faye received the punishment for his crimes. Young Faye and her friend, Christian, were attacked and given large does of Heam, resulting in both of them overdosing. Gazer, a retired police officer, happened upon the pair and could only save Faye while Christian died. Yet, Faye did not have visions of heaven on Heam, she viewed hell. When Gazer tires to bring her home, her mother, seeing her scars, refuses to let her in and abandons her. Gazer becomes Faye’s guardian and trainer. It became her mission to find the four men who attacked her and get her revenge.

One night while stalking one of the men outside a bar, she meets Chael who seems to know way to much about her, even calling her by the nickname that Christian used to tease her with. Faye and Chael grow increasingly close, and Faye discovers unrealistic facts about who Chael really is. This is where my mixed feeling come into play.

I really enjoyed the writing and character development, yet the discovery that SPOIL ALERT! Chael is actually Christian’s soul inside another boys body, seems far fetched in comparison with the rest of the plot. Christian eventually dies again, and Faye has the choice to move on with him, or go back on living in the real world without him.

Faye chooses to keep living without him, knowing that he will be there in the afterlife. There are many deeper realizations that she makes which I am not going to go into, but it really empowers the reader. Faye may love Christian but she still has to live her life to the fullest, even without him. I loved that she had the courage to make the tough decisions and hopefully inspires the reader to do the same.

This was my first time reading anything by Jeyn Roberts, but I think I will have to visit her dark and cruel world again.

Skink: No Surrender

skink

Title: Skink: No Surrender

Author: Carl Hiaasen

Publisher: Random House

Release Date: September 23, 2014

I admit, I think I would love anything that Carl Hiaasen writes whether that is an adult or children’s novel. Skink is no exception as his first YA selection!

Skink: No Surrender follows teen Richard as he searches for this cousin Malley, who has run away with a guy she has met online. I know, red flags all over the place here. Richard meets the title character, Skink, on the beach hidden in a pretend sea turtle nest, the night that Malley runs away. It turns out Skink is a former governor of Florida, who left office and has been living off the grid protecting the environment ever since.

As the police attempt to find Malley, Richard and Skink form their own investigation and go on the hunt for missing Malley. It is no surprise that they soon realize the online guy has used a false name, and taken Malley into the Florida wild lands. With hints from Malley, given to Richard in secret messages over the phone and Skinks own survival skills this pair creates a humorous and exciting adventure.

A great realistic fiction title with an important environmental message.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

to all the boys

Title: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Author: Jenny Han

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers 

Release Date: April 2014

I loved this book! We meet Lara Jean, who has written and kept a letter to each of the five boys she has “loved”. Her letters explain what she likes about them, and is her way of moving past these crushes. Lara Jean keeps these letters in a box safely in her closet, at least she thinks so. That is until one of the most popular boys at school, Pete, who she wrote a letter to in middle school, comes up to her with letter in hand! As soon as she gets home Lara realizes that her box and all of the letters inside are missing, probably a victim of her dad’s purging to goodwill.

The big problem is that these letters included one to Lara Jean’s neighbor, who was just crushed when Lara’s older sister broke up with him. That’s right, she was, and kind of still is, in love with her sister’s ex-boyfriend. We follow along as Lara Jean faces her challenges and changes in her family’s routine. And I could not get enough!

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before ended way too soon, but I hear that Jenny Han is writing a sequel! I will be first in line!

Order this title now!

 

 

Faces of the Dead

faces of dead

Title: Faces of the Dead

Author: Suzanne Weyn

Publisher: Scholastic

Release Date: August 26, 2014

This historical fiction novel combines fact, suspicious rumors, and magic to create a fictional tale of King Louis XVI and the French Revolution. Faces of the Dead follows Princess Marie-Therese, the daughter of Marie Antoinette, as she escapes into the unraveling city of Paris with the help of her almost identical looking friend, Ernestine.

Marie-Therese makes friends with a boy her age, Henri,  who works cleaning in the wax museum. Their feelings for each other grow as they experience the hardships of going hungry, loosing friends, and watching the daily executions at the guillotine. They are provided for by Mademoiselle Grosholtz (later Madame Tussaud) as she is forced to create death masks of those killed, and witness the magic of her attempts of reviving the dead.

I will not pretend to be an expert on the French Revolution, or any historical event for that matter. Suzanne Weyn reveals the  licenses she took while writing the novel, and the various conspiracy theories that led to her the liberties she took. While I appreciate the effort, and the plausibility, I never felt connected to the characters. Marie-Therese is  torn between finding a way back to her family, and staying with Henri, but as a reader, I didn’t care which way she went. I want to be rooting for the main character, and torn apart when fate turns the wrong way. This just did not happen.

With more development, this book could be a solid choice for a historical fiction novel.

The Fairy-Tale Matchmaker

Fairy Matchmaker

Title: The Fairy-Tale Matchmaker

Author: E.D. Baker

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s

Release Date: October 1, 2014

 

Another adorable outing by E.D. Baker! I believe this will be the beginning of a new series, which focuses on Cory Featherling. Cory is a fairy, and must find a job to fit her skills. Readers meet Cory as she follows in her mothers footsteps, and becomes a tooth fairy, which does  not pan out well. She is determined to quit, but the Tooth Fairy Guild has other ideas, plotting against her every move.

Cory wants to help people so she takes odd jobs(and this is where it gets fun) such as mowing the lawn for three terrified pigs (they are hiding from a horrible wolf) and babysitting a little boy, Humpty, who seems to always be climbing something. She also helps Marjorie Muffet with a spider infestation, Sally inventory her sea shell collection, and even Santa Claus who is being harassed by the press! Many of her friends also seek dating advice from her, and Cory is happy to set them up along the way, even if it doesn’t turn out perfectly each time.

Fairy-Tale Matchmaker got a little slowed down by all the characters, however amusing they were, but once it got going readers will root for Cory to find out where she belongs in the world.