Friday, April 29, 2011

Behind the Text: Bill Folman

Check out Behind the Text for an exclusive look at what Bill Folman, author of The Scandal Plan, has to say about writing and his advice to aspiring writers!

New Feature! Behind the Text

Hey there, Bookenders! Behind the Text is a new feature I've added to share with you the words and wisdom of published authors with whom I've spoken! I have been contacting authors whose books I've reviewed, and you can find out what they have to say under the "Behind the Text" tab.

Enjoy, and happy readings!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Andi Alpers is an only child. She wasn't always, though. Just a year or so earlier, she lost her younger brother Truman to a devastating accident, and now Andi's simply struggling to survive each day. But that's easier said than done. Andi's failing school, her mother's mentally breaking down, and her father is an award-winning geneticist with little time for family. Soon, though, things start to change as Andi's dad checks her mother into a psychiatric hospital and drags Andi with him halfway across the world to Paris. They stay with friends of the family, one of whom is a renowned historian who recently made a discovery: the jarred heart of Louis Charles, the imprisoned son of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. Andi becomes wrapped up in the story of the lost child when she finds the diary of Alexandrine Paradis, Louis Charles's companion and servant. And one night in the old catacombs, the history and the past collide into one dangerous - if not deadly - adventure for Andi...

Revolution won an Odyssey Award and has several highly acclaimed reviews. I found the book well-written and enthralling...and a little too scary for my liking, but nevertheless, I couldn't put it down. It's not that the story itself was scary or involved traditionally scary elements like vampires or werewolves or other supernatural creatures; rather, I was frightened because of the thematic elements discussed. Andi has issues for which she takes medication, but that doesn't stop her from contemplating suicide a few times throughout the book. Her mother's mental health is deteriorating, which is something I find worrisome to contemplate. Add to the fact that Andi's father is doing genetic testing on a centuries-old heart of an eight-year-old boy, and I find that this is not a book to be reading home alone at night.

Other thematic elements include drug/alcohol use and abuse, implications of sex, parental issues, and moderate profanity. My recommendation is for teens ages fifteen and older.

Happy readings!

On the Shelf: Looks by Madeleine George

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Scandal Plan by Bill Folman

Never in the course of American history has the public encountered a presidential candidate who is as honest as he proclaims. Until, that is, Senator Ben Phillips decides to run for the presidency. Phillips is lagging way behind in the polls and a victory is utterly inconceivable. But then an idea flits into renowned campaign strategist Thomas Campman's mind: Sin will make him human. Campman creates a plan so crazy, so incredulous, so...scandalous that it just might work. Before long, the rumors and reporters are underway on the quest to uncover the "truth" Campman created: that Phillips had an extramarital affair years ago. Not long after, other absurd claims come out about Phillips ranging from more affairs to drinking problems. Campman's scandal may be racing out of control, but Phillips poll points are racing to the top! The Scandal Plan by Bill Folman all culminates in one 24-hour block that is as breathtaking as the initial accusations against Phillips...

Folman creates a vivid Washington, DC scene that brings readers straight to the heart of America and straight behind the curtains of politics. Filled with many laugh-out-loud, oh-no!, and is-it-true? moments, once you start The Scandal Plan you will not be able to put it down. Refreshing, original, and just crazy enough to work, The Scandal Plan is a turn-of-the-century novel about love, loss, lust, likability, and how it all factors in to politics.

The novel contains thematic elements including alleged affairs (obviously!), alleged drinking problems, marital issues, some sexual content (though nothing obscenely graphic), and a multitude of curses. I'd advise this book to teens sixteen and older strictly because of those factors.

If you're looking for a sassy, funny, smart comical book with some twists more unforeseeable than a twister itself, then pick up The Scandal Plan by Bill Folman!

Happy readings!

On the Shelf: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John

The question: What do you get when you add a few hard-rocking teenagers, one annoying little brother, one mysterious quest to famous musicians' houses, and a deaf band manager? The answer: Dumb, Seattle's newest Battle of the Bands winner. Piper, the main character, went deaf around age 6 and life hasn't gotten any easier for her eleven years later. Five Flavors of Dumb opens with an impromptu rock concert in front of her school, and soon thereafter Piper finds herself agreeing to manage Dumb. The trouble is, she can't hear them. But she can see enough and feel enough vibrations to know that they're not good. So she brings in some help, and things begin to change for Dumb. Before long, they're composing songs, visiting famous musicians' houses, and they even land a gig. But trouble and chaos are soon to ensue... from Piper's parents who just can't seem to understand her, to breaking school rules, and even to finding love, Dumb is about to get really smart about some things really fast!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was humorous, had a great theme, and presented a view that many people would never even consider. It really made me think about what my life would be like if I was deaf or if my parents didn't understand me. John brings to the literary world an exciting new character in Piper that puts a fresh spin on people's perspectives. I would recommend it for readers fourteen and older.

Five Flavors of Dumb contains a moderate level of profanity, one or two thematic elements dealing mostly with parental issues, and some romance that escalates into a few kisses Piper will not soon forget.

All in all, Five Flavors of Dumb, is a refreshing read with well-developed, three-dimensional characters who really seem to bring Dumb and all of its flavors to life. Embedded with humor, romance, and some things to think about, John has created a wonderful book for any and all readers.

Happy readings!

On the Shelf: The Scandal Plan by Bill Folman

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Two-Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt

Road trips are supposed to be fun, especially when you're going on one with your boyfriend or girlfriend, right? Wrong. A few days before Courtney and Jordan are leaving on their road trip to college, Jordan breaks up with Courtney for a mysterious Internet girl. So now Courtney's stuck spending a few days in the car with her ex, his rap music, and his phone that won't stop ringing. She's also left trying to figure out who the Internet girl is, and why Jordan would break up with her for someone he's never actually met, especially when things were going so well between him and Courtney. With a mystery to unravel and a temper to control, Courtney has to grin and bear it to make to college. But Jordan's not telling the truth, for reasons of his own, and secrets are about to be revealed that will rock their worlds forever...

Two-Way Street is told in alternating points of view through various points in time, all leading up to one big, climatic event that is as unforgettable as Courtney's and Jordan's breakup. This is simply a great book. Barnholdt creates an atmosphere in which the reader understands both Courtney's and Jordan's perspectives. I truly felt torn during the book because I had no idea what I would do in either of their situations. The characters are well-developed, and it is easy to sympathize - and in some cases, empathize - with Courtney and Jordan. The plot flips back and forth between the road trip and the events leading up to it, including the night Courtney and Jordan met.

The book contains moderate profanity/cursing, some thematic elements (parental issues), and does openly talk about sex. Cigarettes and alcohol also make appearances throughout the course of the novel. I would recommend this book for teens ages fifteen and older.

Happy readings!

On the Shelf: Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John