Sunday, April 28, 2013

2013 YALSA Hub Reading Challenge - Update #11

Only three books this week, but two were long ones.

One Shot at Forever: A Small Town, an Unlikely Coach, and a Magical Baseball Season by Chris Ballard

Set in the late 60's and early 70's, this is the true story of a small midwestern town and it's little team that could. Like all great baseball stories, this one is about more than baseball. When a young, liberal teacher comes to Macon to teach English, he shakes up the conservative town and only ends up coaching the baseball team because no one else wants the thankless job. 

Lynn Sweet, never intending to hang around Macon for long, ends up making a profound difference in the lives of his students and players. Sweet is the kind of teacher we all wish we had, whose lessons extend far beyond the classroom walls. His students demonstrate that some of the lessons we need to learn, and those that stick with us the longest, can't be measured by a standardized test.

Like Mike Lupica, another of my favorite sporty writers, Chris Ballard tells an engaging story that is accessible even to those of us who don't care much about sports.

The Isle of Blood by Rick Yancey

The Monstrumologist, book three.

When Dr. Warthrop sets off on a quest with a new apprentice to find a monster that no one has ever seen (or at least lived to tell about), Will Henry is left behind. For the first time since the death of his parents, he has a chance at a normal life. But Will Henry no longer fits in with a normal family, and despite himself, he misses Warthrop and feels that his place is wherever the doctor is. When Warthrop's assistant returns to tell Will Henry of the doctor's death, Will Henry is convinced that the man is lying. 

Will Henry is soon on Warthrop's trail, and then on his way to Socotra, the Isle of Blood. On the hunt for a mythical monster that kills so violently that the sky literally rains blood and then builds nests from the scattered human remains, Will Henry will need to confront the darkness in his own soul.

Well-written, creepy gothic horror, suitable for adults and mature YA readers.

The Diviners by Libba Bray

The Diviners (the first in a new series, hooray!) is my favorite type of book--a blend of genres, fun to read and difficult to classify. It's a mix of fantasy, historical fiction, mystery, and suspense, with a dash of romance thrown in for good measure. Bray has painstakingly researched the Roaring Twenties and her gorgeous prose brings the period, and her characters, vividly to life.

After getting in trouble back in Ohio, Evie O'Neill's parents send her to New York to stay with her uncle. An expert in occult matters, he runs The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--known by the locals as The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies. When Uncle Will is asked to help the police investigate a series of brutal, occult murders, Evie comes along for the ride. Will her ability to "read" objects help her solve the crimes or make her a victim?

Evie is not the only character with a special gift. There's also a pickpocket on a mission to find his mother, a Ziegfeld girl hiding from a dangerous past, a numbers runner with healing powers, and a museum employee who is more (and less) than he seems. Despite the supernatural elements, these characters are well-developed and realistic.

The audio version is delightful, and some of the expressions that felt a bit forced when I read them were much more natural while listening. 

No comments: