Thursday, January 30, 2014

My Ramblings on Runner by Carl Deuker

Runner by Carl Deuker
Author Website

But the weather-beaten sailboat Chance Taylor and his father call home is thirty years old and hasn’t sailed in years. One step from both homelessness and hunger, Chance worries about things other kids his age never give a thought: Where will the money come for the electricity bill, grocery bill, and moorage fees? So when a new job falls his way, he jumps at the opportunity. He knows how much he will earn; what he doesn’t know is how much he will pay. (from goodreads)

My Ramblings:
I'm slowly workign my way through my TBR pile. In part because I'm trying to save money (why buy new books when you have at least 50 unread on the shelf??!) and in part because I know I picked these books up for a reason, and I want to know what it is. 

This one is pretty easy to get into. Chance is a bit of an outcast, his mother left, his father is a drunk who has issues keeping a job and their home is a 30 foot sailboat that hasn't sailed in forever. Chance and his father have no money and no prospects, so when Chance is approached with an offer that would solve all their problems it's easy to see why he says yes. Chance loves to run, and there are people who need things picked up and delivered and doing so would make Chance some quick money. So he says yes, and basically becomes a drug carrier and worse, he begins to pick up packages that aren't drugs, but are much, much worse. I'm not going to say what they are, you'll have to read the book to find out. 

For the most part this one moves along well, there were a few moments where I thought the foreshadowing was a little too obvious, like when the girl Chance likes keeps suggesting he research how easy it would be for people, drug smugglers in particular, but even illegal aliens and terrorists, to come in by way of the coast. However, keeping her interested in the issue as well as with what was up with Chance gave Chance an outlet that he needed when he was ready to get out of the game. 

The ending of the book moved a little too fast for me, but I liked how it ended. It was sad on several fronts, but at the same time you really were able to see how Chance was going to make it. He had made some incredibly stupid and dangerous mistakes and people were hurt, but he also made the right choice when it counted and was able to come out of it in a way that made you feel like in the end he would be alright. 

Overall this was a good, quick read that I think a lot of people would really enjoy. I think that it would draw in any reluctant readers (especially boys) and I plan on adding it to my library collection with my next book order. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

My Ramblings on And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
Release Date: January 28th, 2014
Author Website
Book Provided by: NetGalley

When high school senior Paul Wagoner walks into his school library with a stolen gun, he threatens his girlfriend Emily Beam, then takes his own life. In the wake of the tragedy, an angry and guilt-ridden Emily is shipped off to boarding school in Amherst, Massachusetts, where she encounters a ghostly presence who shares her name. The spirit of Emily Dickinson and two quirky girls offer helping hands, but it is up to Emily to heal her own damaged self.

This inventive story, told in verse and in prose, paints the aftermath of tragedy as a landscape where there is good behind the bad, hope inside the despair, and springtime under the snow. (from NetGalley)

My Ramblings: 
This is an odd one for me. For the bulk of the book I really enjoyed it. I liked how Hubbard spun the story, alternating back and forth between Emily's life now, at boarding school, and the events that led up to her boyfriend Paul committing suicide in the school library a few month before. It was a great way to piece the story together, since you for more and more information about why Emily was the way she was and what secrets she was hiding.

The other story thread, which dealt with Emily Dickinson and how her poetry and presence helps Emily heal was also really interesting. As Emily begins to heal, she connects to Dickinson and also begins to write her own poetry. I loved that Hubbard included Emily's poetry in the pages, it was one more way to connect Emily's feelings with what she going through. Which was a lot, and none of it was something that should be easy to deal with, so having her find an outlet though poetry was wonderful.

Which brings me to some of the things I struggled with. Without giving too much away, her boyfriend committing suicide is only one bit of the puzzle. Emily is dealing with her role in leading him to that point, and the fall out of what happens after. The secondary characters, Paul, Emily's parents, her Aunt Cindy and even to a lesser extent her new room mate aren't fully formed, and there are some behaviors that are alluded too and thrown away that really could have been explored more.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

My Ramblings on Bull Rider by Suzanne Morgan Williams

Bull Rider by Suzanne Morgan Williams
Author Website

All it takes is eight seconds . . .

Cam O'Mara, grandson and younger brother of bull-riding champions, is not interested in partaking in the family sport. Cam is a skateboarder, and perfecting his tricks—frontside flips, 360s—means everything until his older brother, Ben, comes home from Iraq, paralyzed from a brain injury. What would make a skateboarder take a different kind of ride? And what would get him on a monstrosity of a bull named Ugly? If Cam can stay on for the requisite eight seconds, could the $15,000 prize bring hope and a future for his big brother?

My Ramblings:
Lately I've been trying to work my way through my TBR pile. I have books on there that I picked up at NCTE 3 years ago and that, for one reason or another, I just never picked up. This is one of those books. If you know me at all you would know that this book should have been picked up and read immediately. A book about bull riders? Totally up my alley.  Still, it sat, just waiting to be read for years. I finally picked it up this weekend and read the whole thing in one sitting. It is such a great book.

At the center of the story is Cam, a kid who is a bit of on outcast in his own family. he lives and works on his family ranch and he comes from a long line of championship bull riders, but riding bulls has never been Cam's thing. It was really his brother Ben who shone in the arena. Cam preferred to spend his time riding his skateboard. Until Cam's world falls apart. Ben is injured in Iraq and suddenly Cam's life is spiraling out of control. Ben can no longer take care of himself and he definitely can't ride bulls anymore. On a whim Cam decides to ride a bull and he discovers that he has some of that innate talent as well. He's hooked on riding not only for the adrenaline rush, but for how it makes him feel connected to his brother. So he takes on a challenge to ride the baddest bull around, Ugly. If he can do it he'll be able to show Ben that anything is possible, and also win enough money to get Ben back in game, this time as a breeder instead of a rider.

Watching Cam navigate the massive changes in his life is really interesting. You can see the struggle as he deals with being the one left behind. First when Ben goes to war and then again when everyone has to take care of Ben once he's home. Seeing him come into his own and help Ben find his way as well was great.

This is a great book, especially for kids who are dealing with family members who are deployed or who have returned and are injured. This is a very honest look at how life changes and how you can get through it. I'm very glad that I finally picked this one up!