Thursday, September 30, 2010

Revolver-- Marcus Sedgwick

A really good writer leaves something for the imagination. S/he describes a scene in detail but leaves the truly horrific part for you to create in your mind. I can read gory horror books and feel fine, but the creepy-left-to-our-imagination scenes... that's what keeps me up at night!

Marcus Sedgwick accomplishes the balance between detail and not over-writing perfectly. Revolver takes place in the arctic circle during the gold rush. When Sig discovers his father frozen to death on the ice, he knows his whole life will change. But when Wolff shows up and torments Sig, his emotions go from sadness to utter terror. Wolff believes that Sig's father is hiding gold and will do anything to retrieve it. Sig and his sister Anna do everything they can to appease Wolff, but he still brutalizes them believing they are lying. Sedgwick weaves threads of this tale together, allowing the reader to figure out some things on their own and leaving enough mystery to keep the pages turning.

For whatever reason, Wolff's character scared the crap outta me. It was like he had no moral compass and couldn't see beyond his own personal desires. Wolff was adept at both physical and emotional torment. He was animalistic but just human enough to make me get up and make sure my doors were locked at night.

I would recommend this book to youth who like thrillers, pager turners, short chapters, and stories about harsh landscapes. This book would be especially good for boys. While there isn't anything graphically described in detail, it's still not for the faint of heart.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mock Printz Nominations!

After many agonizing meetings, my librarian cohort Paige and I have settled on an official Mock Printz list for this year. It's always so hard to choose, because inevitably something amazing will be published after we've already made our list...

And the nominees are (in no particular order):

Nothing-- Janne Teller
A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend-- Emily Horner
The Water Seeker-- Kimberly Willis Holt
Black Hole Sun-- David Macinnis Gill
Revolver-- Marcus Sedgwick
Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty-- G. Neri and Randy Duburke, Ill
They Called Themselves the KKK-- Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Wicked Girls-- Stephanie Hemphill
Finnikin of the Rock-- Melina Marchetta
Last Summer of the Death Warriors-- Francisco X. Stork

OK, you have your list! Now start reading and let me know what you think about our Mock Printz selections. And, if you want more information about the Mock Printz event, email

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Water Seeker-- Kimberly Willis Holt

Taking place from 1833 through 1859, The Water Seeker is a fictional tale of what life was like on the prairie and along the Oregon Trail. Mostly historical fiction, but with a light touch of magical realism, this novel is a meandering but compelling story of a boy and the adults who find their way into his life.

Amos is the son of Jake, who is a trapper by chosen trade but a dowser by god given gift. While Jake is away trapping, he leaves Amos to be raised by his brother and his wife, then later the neighbor and her five sons. It isn't until Amos is almost 14 that his father comes back to claim him... and take him on the journey of a lifetime, out west on the Oregon trail. Amos learns about himself through those who care for him. After watching Jake work as a dowser, Amos realizes that skill is living within him, too. And after years of sketching eerily accurate portraits, he learns his mother (who died giving birth to him) was a talented artist. But it isn't until he meets Gwendolyn that Amos learns what it means to be a man and see beyond the surface and first impressions.

This novel is appropriate for all ages of teens, and would be especially appealing to those who loved the Little House on the Prairie books but have outgrown them.