Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sing Me to Sleep

Sing Me To Sleep by Angela Morrison
Publication Date: March 4, 2010
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 301
Keywords: winter, choir, travel
Format Read: signed ARC from author (thank you so much!)

Beth has always been "The Beast" - that's what everyone at school calls her because of her awkward height, facial scars, and thick glasses. Who could love a best? Beth's only friend is geeky, golden-haired Scott. That is, until she is selected to be her choir's soprano soloist, and recevies the makeover of a lifetime. Suddenly, everyone wants a piece of Beth. Things only get better when her choir travels to Switzerland and Beth meets the mysterious Derek. They have an incredible whirlwind affair that makes Beth realize, for the first time, she too can find love. She's no longer The Beast. In Derek's eyes, she's a beauty. But then Scott makes a heartbreaking confession to Beth that leaves her completely torn. Should she stand by sweet, steady Scott or follow the dangerous, passionate feelings she has for Derek? And there's an even bigger problem: Derek's got a secret...one that could shatter everything.

This book took me completely by surprise. On the surface it seemed like it would be another summer-fling story, but the girl learns she really loves her friend back home. This was not the case. Angela Morrison created a story so deep it was hard to pull out of. I thoroughly enjoyed the choir atmosphere, being involved in three different choirs myself. Music was described perfectly, how it takes hold of a person and transports them to another universe to unite with the world.

I'll admit I was taken aback by the sudden twists in the plot. I thought I knew how the book would end, but I was mistaken. It was a good mistake, and I am extremely glad I was wrong. Although I was disappointed Beth's character changed from Beast to Beauty rather quickly, I was blown away by the characterization of Derek. He was easily one of the deepest and most fantastically written characters I have seen in a while.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Going Bovine

Going Bovine by Libba Bray
Publication Date: September 22 ,2009
Publisher: Delacorte Books
Pages: 480
Keywords: friendship, road trip, travel
Format Read: library book

Summary: All sixteen-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school- and life in general- with a minimum effort. It's not a lot to ask. But that's before he's given some bad news: he's sick and he's going to die. Which totally sucks.
Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure- if he's willing to search for it. With the help of Gonzo, a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf, and a yard gnome who just might be the Viking god Balder, Cam sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America of smoothie-drinking happiness cults, parallel-universe-hopping physicists, mythic New Orleans jazz musicians, whacked-out television game shows, snow-globe vigilantes, and disenfranchised, fame-hungry teens into the heart of what matters most.

I was surprised from the start. I knew it was going to be good (after all, it's Libba Bray we're talking about), but it was so different from a Great and Terrible Beauty. Cameron suffers from mad cow disease, and Dulcie, the cute and caffeinated angel helps him to find the cure before he dies. Subtle hints of nothing in the beginning turned out to be plot twisters and key concepts at the end of the novel, and something as simple as snow globes can change the world. Everything in this novel is based around small coincidences that chain together, ultimately altering the course of someone's life.

Each character was so intricately developed. Dulcie became a loved friend, and I began to feel as though I knew her, predicting when she would pop up and disappear again throughout the story. It wasn't in a "this story is predictable" sort of way, but a "I know this person so well" sort of way. And Balder, the talking yard gnome was easily the funniest character of the story. Bray did an excellent job of mixing humor with Norse god myths. In addition, the mix of time travel and other dimensions always adds a nice touch to any novel.

I was quickly pulled into Cameron's strange world of talking objects, fire giants, and Dr. X, the man who has the cure. Once again, Bray has done well. Below is a quote from the back of the book I rather enjoyed:

"Saving the world. That's impossible. Insane. Still. A cute. I could be cured. That's what she said. And some little atoms come awake inside me, swirling into a question I can't shake: 'Why the hell not?' I could have a chance. And a chance is better than nothing."