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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
Inside A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

Flashback October 2011

And now, a look back to what I reviewed in October 2011.

flashback 3 500x307 Flashback October 2011

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King. From my review: “I enjoy Stephen King’s books; when I 

compare books I read to him, it’s a very big complement. If I had to pick only one author that would still be read a hundred years from now, it would be Stephen King. For all that, for all that I love The Stand and The Shining and his other books, I think it’s his short stories that are his most powerful. Building a world in hundreds of pages? Easy, you have hundreds of pages! Building that same world in a handful of pages? Now that is talent. King writes horror, and I enjoy the horror he writes, but some of his most terrifying writing has not been about vampires and killer cars but about the loss of a child, the death of a sibling. These are the types of stories in Full Dark, No Stars. They scare the reader because they hold up a mirror to show something the reader doesn’t want to see, a window into what they fear is happening in the house next door.”

Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt. From my review: “The voice! Doug’s voice! I adored it, was swept away by it, not just in how Schmidt captures a thirteen year old with a chip on his shoulder trying not to be “that person” who strikes out in anger, but also how Doug reveals information. Look at [this]  simple quote … — “I hate that we had to come here” — and how in those few words we find out so much about Doug. It’s not the town he hates, but the fact that his father lost a job, that they had no options, that it’s a step down, that they “had” to do this. Again and again, Doug reveals information he doesn’t realize he’s revealing. It’s a thing of beauty, actually, to go through the book and find instance after instance of this.

Shine by Lauren Myracle. From my review: “Black Creek, North Carolina is a poor, rural town, a place without jobs, unless it’s making and selling meth. It’s a place, a setting, a culture, that is usually overlooked in literature unless to show “white trash” and make redneck jokes. Yes, there is brutality and drug use and poverty; Cat’s father tells a story of his childhood about rats coming into his room, and his shooting one, and his mother using it for rat stew because why let the meat go to waste? Myracle does a beautiful job of depicting this rural area and its inhabitants with both compassion and honesty. It’s not entirely hopeless, but neither is it romanticized. Here is Cat: “My heart, as I closed the cabinet and rose to my feet, was a small dead creature. If I could bury it in the woods, I would.”

Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey. From my review: “I love stories about the power of story, and the power of belief in story. Guardian of the Dead begins as a boarding school story. Ellie, 17, left behind as her parents travel the world celebrating her mother’s remission from cancer, has distanced herself from her old friends (she chose a boarding school in Christchurch New Zealand far from her hometown in the North Island) and interests (Tae Kwan Do). Even her choice of best friend is safe: Kevin is popular and handsome, but is only interested in friendship. As Kevin brings a reluctant Ellie into his circle of friends, the reader would think, “oh, that’s what kind of story that is.” Except the reader knows that Mark Nolan has told Ellie not to go out alone after dark — and she forgets the conversation, forgets he liked her laugh, only remembers (but doesn’t know why) that she’s not supposed to go out alone after dark. Well, that’s strange. And it only gets stranger.”

The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson. From my review: “Jenna. Locke. Kara. Three teenage friends who did everything together. Including died together. Well, at least their bodies died; their minds were saved. Two hundred sixty years later, Locke and Kara’s stored minds and memories are made part of new, perfect, synthetic bodies. A second life. Everything and everyone they knew is gone. During those years, Locke and Kara existed, had been aware, been there for each other in the dark void. Now they are in new bodies . . .  a little taller. A little stronger. A little more good looking. A little more perfect. Can two people who went through what they went through really be the same people? With manufactured bodies and downloaded memories, are they people?”

You Are My Only by Beth Kephart. From my review: “Sophie, 14, is protected by her mother: home-schooled, cautioned against leaving the house, moving often go keep themselves away from the No Good. In their latest rented home, Sophie looks out the attic window and sees a boy and his dog. Sophie leaves the house to say hello, and meets Joey. Her first friend. Emmy’s four month old baby daughter is missing. She put Baby in a swing, realized she needed a blanket, went into the house to get one: 28 steps to the house, 13 steps upstairs to get the blanket, 13 steps down, back outside, and Baby is gone, one yellow sock left behind. Two stories entwined, Sophie and Emmy, as Sophie searches for the answers to her odd peripatetic life and Emmy searches for Baby.”

Substitute Creacher by Chris Gall. From my review: “Substitute teacher day! The children in Mrs. Jenkins’s class think they know what that means. Fun, games, pranks. They don’t expect… a Substitute Creacher instead of a Substitute Teacher.

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma. From my review: “Two years ago, Chloe and her older sister Ruby were at a party at the reservoir. Dares and drinking, one thing leads to another, and Chloe’s classmate London Hayes is dead and Chloe leaves town, leaves Ruby, and goes to live with her father out of state. It’s two years later. Chloe is coming home; returning to the town she left, the friends she left, returning to her sister, Ruby. Two years away, and something seems off. Not quite right. Something is different with the town, with Ruby. At a party, Chloe comes face to face with the biggest difference of all; with something that just shouldn’t be. Oh, how to do this without spoilers! How to explain the spell of Ruby, the web she weaves around all who know her. To know her is to love her. And as I write this, trying to both explain the magic and wonder of this book without revealing too much, I find that all I can write about is Ruby. All I want to write about is Ruby.”

Uncommon Criminals: a Heist Society Novel by Ally Carter. From my review: “Kat Bishop, 15 (the teen thief introduced in Heist Society) returns with a new criminal caper. Last time around, Kat was the girl who left, who tried (and failed) to get out of the family business. This time around, things start with Kat being a bit too good at it. She’s known as the girl who robbed the greatest museum in the world; she’s also been taking on projects to return artwork stolen by the Nazis to their rightful heirs. Truth be told, her friends and family, especially Hale and Gabrielle, aren’t happy that most of those projects have been solo. Things change when Kat is approached and asked to steal the Cleopatra Emerald; or, rather, steal the Emerald back for its original owner. Problem is, the Emerald hasn’t been displayed in over 30 years. And, it’s cursed. And, her Uncle and other family members have said not to. But her father and Uncle Eddy are down in South America on a “project” and it’s just the type of challenge Kat wants to take on. Unfortunately for Kat, the job turns out to be more than expected. Fortunately for Kat, she’s thick as thieves with a bunch of thieves. Teen thieves, that is.”

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About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is lizzy.burns@gmail.com.

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