Sunday, September 29, 2013

MY MOTHER'S SECRET by J.L. Witterick

Author J.L. Witterick captures the incredible fear and sacrifice during WWII for those who hid to avoid death and those who risk it all to provide the hiding places.

Helena begins the story with memories of her mother's bravery.  When Poland is brought into the war and the Nazis invade, Helena watches as her mother bravely opens her home to German officers and soldiers at the same time she offers hiding places for two Jewish families and a frightened young German soldier.

As the pages are turned, Witterick reveals the stories of those hidden by Helena's mother.  One family is squeezed into a tiny cellar while the other is crowded above the pigsty in the barn.  Neither knows of the others' existence.  The German soldier, afraid for his life, welcomes the cramped attic as his hiding place.  Amazingly, all survive and all are forever grateful for the sacrifice of a brave Polish woman.

MY MOTHER'S SECRET is an excellent complement to other Holocaust stories like ANNE FRANK: DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL and NIGHT.  Based on a true story, it gives readers a real look at one of the most horrific times in modern history.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

SMOKE by Ellen Hopkins

One night in a backyard shed, life went up in smoke for Pattyn and Jackie.  Pattyn had already lost her true love Ethan and the baby they would have shared. Jackie had lost her innocence at the hands of the one person she thought she could trust.  The final blow comes as Pattyn is forced to defend her sister from their father's cruel fists and is left standing in the shed with a smoking gun.

Pattyn hates to leave her distraught sister and her other siblings, but she knows her actions would probably result in a long prison term.  If she flees and lets some time pass, maybe her mother will come to her senses and tell the authorities the actions of her oldest daughter were justified.  Pattyn packs a few meager possessions and all the money she has, hops on a bus, and heads for California. 

Jackie is left at home to deal with their father's funeral and the hateful looks of the members of their judgmental congregation.  Stunned that her mother not only ignores her daughter's rape at the hands of a teen bully, but also shockingly refuses to allow anyone to press charges because she smitten with the father of the young rapist.  Without Pattyn to protect her, Jackie fears she might lose her mind.

Both teens struggle to recover from current events and past tragedies to regain control of their lives.  Will they learn to trust again and find love in their new lives?

Author Ellen Hopkins takes the characters from her previous novel BURNED to the next level.  In SMOKE readers will get a chance to reconnect with Pattyn following the loss of her baby and Ethan, and her sister Jackie, another victim of their father's ugly treatment.  Hopkins's fans will not be disappointed.

Monday, September 16, 2013

ARE YOU EXPERIENCED? by Jordan Sonnenblick

Rich Barber is fifteen and completely annoyed with his parents.  Having older, over-protective parents who don't let him do anything is really cramping his style.  It's almost impossible to have a girl friend and even more difficult to develop his talent on the guitar when playing in a band usually involves staying out later than his parents allow. 

In an effort to advance his relationship with Courtney, Rich agrees to figure out a way to attend a protest rally to play his guitar.  After lying to his parents, Rich joins Courtney at the protest and begins to play some of the standard 60's protest songs.  When no one reacts to his music, Rich starts to think maybe he should have paid more attention when Courtney mentioned what the group would be protesting.  The group is a rather strange mix of people including an ancient old lady in a wheelchair complete with oxygen mask and IV.

Rich is relieved when Courtney tells him the old woman has a request.  It's a Bob Dylan tune most people recognize by the title "Everybody Must Get Stoned."  It seems like a strange request, but Rich knows the song and begins to play.  That's when all hell breaks loose.  The next thing Rich knows, he is sharing a jail cell with his father.  Needless to say, Dad isn't happy and the argument that follows results in the most amazing experience Rich could ever imagine.

Author Jordan Sonnenblick takes readers on a time traveling adventure back to the 1960's, the era of hippie culture and the three wonderful days of Woodstock.  To the teens of today, this may seem like ancient history, but Sonnenblick uses the universal love of music to communicate his story.  Rich's experience allows him to better appreciate his father's past, and both father and son learn to connect on a whole new level.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

SYLO by D.J. MacHale

Living on an island isn't for everyone.  Tucker Pierce and his family moved to Pemberwick Island in Maine from Connecticut, and he loves island life.  Some of his friends feel differently and want to leave as soon as possible.  That time might actually be sooner than they think.

There is a mysterious death and then a second one.  Tucker and a couple of his friends witness a flying shadow like object and a startling explosion along the beach.  Suddenly a secret branch of the U.S. Navy known as SYLO lands on the island and begins a takeover. 

Tucker and his friend Quinn think something is fishy.  When they both discover that their parents are somehow involved with SYLO, they conclude the mysterious virus blamed for the continuing deaths of the islanders is a fabrication of SYLO, and they plan to blow the whistle.  The first thing they have to do is get to the mainland, but that's not going to be easy.

D.J. MacHale is the creator of a new series sure to attract fans of dystopian fiction and apocalyptic dramas.  SYLO promises enough thrills and chills to keep readers up all night to finish.