What happens to the time?

I promised myself to add a blog at least twice a week, but as poet Robert Burns–one of my favorites, I might add–said, “The best laid schemes of mice and men gang aft awry.” Howsoever, I’m back and full of more reviews. This post is about stories that show hope for those whose lives have taken a wrong turn.  Hope all has been good for you and you’ve been productive.  Sarah.

Alison does know horses.

Whirlwind

Alison Hart

Jasmine Schuler is in foster care because she attacked Hugh Robicheaux with a hoof pick.  But Robicheaux had just accused Jas’ grandfather of killing Whirlwind, a valuable mare, by giving her yew to munch on. Her grandfather suffers a heart attack, leaving Jasmine nowhere to go. And Jasmine is sure of the truth—Hugh is the culprit.  She is relieved to discover that Whirlwind is not dead; that a look-a-like, but less valuable horse, was poisoned instead; for the insurance money. At first Jas is not keen on being in foster care, but when she ends up at horse rescue farm run by the no-nonsense Miss Hahn, things begin to look up. She still has to wear a tracking anklet because she attacked her nemesis, but she does have some freedom. The insurance company decides to prosecute the evil Robicheaux and needs Jasmine’s help in finding the real Whirlwind.  Plus, the good-looking Chase seems to have an interest in her and her problems. The book, a sequel to Shadow Horse, is fast paced with death threats and intrigue, plus a little romance thrown in for good measure. Horse lovers will enjoy all the horse talk and other readers will enjoy the mystery and romance.

BIBLIO: 2010, Laurel-Leaf/Random House Children’s Books/Random House, Ages 12 +, $7.99

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Young Adult

ISBN: 978-0-375-86005-8

This one should be at every school.  I read it one night and cried copious tears.

Want to Go Private?

Sarah Darer Littman

Abby isn’t looking forward to high school.  She just knows it’s going to be the same as middle school where she was the “smart girl” nerd.  But her best friend, Faith, embraces the changes and begins to branch out, making Abby feel more isolated.  Plus, at home, she doesn’t think her family cares about her.  She’s ripe fruit for an online sexual predator, “Luke,” who convinces Abby he alone loves and listens to her.  Even though a boy at school expresses interest in her, Abby doesn’t believe he could really be attracted to her.  And Luke warns her that he is the jealous type who might harm the school boy.  The more Luke isolates her emotionally, the more she’s willing to participate in his sexual games.  Eventually he convinces her to run away with him.  In the end, the FBI is able to track them down and rescue Abby.  Plan to stay up until you finish this book and make sure to have plenty of tissues on hand.  School internet safety classes should make this required reading.  It’s a compelling read and a horrifying story.

BIBLIO: 2011, Scholastic Press/Scholastic, Inc., Ages 12 +, $17.99.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Young Adult

ISBN: 978-0-545-15146-7

This one made me want to yank the protagonist away from the fellow to whom she loses her virginity, but she does manage to out grow him without getting pregnant.

Audition

Stasia Ward Kehoe

Hard as it is to write a novel in regular prose without getting wordy, try writing in verse.  That’s a whole ‘nother level of succinctness.  On top of that, to write so the emotions show through and the plot advances seamlessly is masterful.  Ms. Kehoe wrote a winner of a book.  Sara, who has lived her sixteen years in small town Vermont, where her dad grows apples and her mother is a driven business executive, wins a year’s scholarship to the prestigious Jersey Ballet.  Now four states away from her home, Sara is lonely and overwhelmed and soon enamored of the handsome, compelling, twenty-two year old Remington.  Her dancing grows stronger, but her body aches all the time and she isn’t quite good enough for the solo parts.  Still, she does make tentative friends and, with the help of her English teacher at the private school she now attends, discovers a gift for writing.  Is dancing really what she wants, she now wonders.  Is it wrong for her to make love with Rem?  Probably, but she likes being his dance-creating muse.  Until he begins to distance himself from her and selects someone else to perform the dance Sara helped Rem create.  In the end, she realizes ballet will always be a part of her, but it is not what she wants totally.  Not enough to put up with the pain and rigor and constant dieting.  So she heads home to Vermont—wiser and stronger.  A bit more description of what the many ballet terms mean would have been nice, but all-in-all an excellent read.

BIBLIO: 2011, Viking/Penguin Group, Ages 14 +, $17.99.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Young Adult

ISBN: 978-0-670-01319-7

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