Going Bovine

From Rosalia Millan
author: Bray, Libba
Going Bovine
Cameron Smith is a sixteen year old focused on being a slacker, and doing as little as possible.  There is nothing really wrong with his home life, he just feels overlooked and has decided to exploit that for all it’s worth. Everything changes when he contracts Creutzfeldt-Jacob or “Mad Cow” Disease and Dulcie, a punk rock angel, tells him that if he finds Dr.X he can be cured and he can save the world.

This book has a really great road trip adventure story that focuses on the importance of living life, without being overly heavy and trying to beat the reader over the head with a message.  The author makes sure that Cameron gets a chance to experience everything, the good and the bad, without dwelling on Cameron’s disease. The adventure that Cameron and Gonzo go on is all about parallel dimensions and possible time travel, but the reader isn’t bombarded with a bunch of technical science terminology so that even those that are not really into science fiction can enjoy this work.  I completely understand why this book was selected as this year’s Printz Award winner.  It’s an entertaining adventure story with a lot of depth to it.

A Trace of Smoke

From Michele Lauer-Bader
author: Cantrell, Rebecca
titl: A Trace of Smoke
While a work of fiction, “A Trace of Smoke” documents the gay culture in 1931 Berlin, between the two world wars. Hannah Vogel’s brother, openly gay and a lounge singer, is murdered. Hannah, a crime reporter,  is determined to discover who murdered him. The story is rich in detail and at the same time, a page turner. Highly recommended with excellent character development.

The Skin I’m In

From Rhea, Teen Book Reviewer
author:  Flake, Sharon G.
The Skin I’m In
As the title and cover suggest the book is about an African American girl struggling with her racial identity, and more. Maleeka Madison attends an inner city school and is relentlessly teased by her classmates for her homemade clothes, her very dark skin and even her good grades. She is especially bullied by a girl named Charlese who makes her do all her homework and copies from her during tests. Despite all the work Maleeka does for Charlese she is often insulted and abused by her. Although, she knows she should not put up with any of the teasing and bullying, Maleeka does not have the courage to stand up for herself.

All of this changes when a new English teacher Miss Saunders arrives at McClenton Middle School. Miss Saunders takes an interest in Maleeka realizing her talent in writing. She tries to distance Maleeka and Charlese as she is very bad company for Maleeka. It is, however, hard for Maleeka to completely break free of Charlese. In the end, Charlese forces Maleeka to vandalize school property and deserts her when Maleeka is caught in the act. Finally, Maleeka gets the courage to stand up for herself and clear her name. She acquires a feeling of self worth and understands that it is important to like yourself for who you are and not what others may tell you.

In my opinion, the novel is very realistic and describes well how life is for kids in inner city schools. In the beginning, it was weird to read the kind of language and the way the characters spoke but as you go along the story it seems real and you don’t mind. Even though, we don’t live in those circumstances, one can empathize and you do feel good that Maleeka and Ms. Saunders win in the end. I would definitely recommend this book to my friends

Mortuary Confidential: Undertakers Spill the Dirt

From Jackie Cantwell
author: McKenzie, Kenneth and Harra, Todd
Mortuary Confidential: Undertakers Spill the Dirt
A compilation of true stories by morticians and funeral directors across
the U.S.  Each chapter’s author is identified by a hobby or interest he
pursues outside his career.  There are 5 sections: “First calls and
removals”, where the worker is informed there’s a body that needs to be
picked up from a nursing home, a private home, etc.  A memorable chapter
is “Roadblock” about a man new to the business, who loves snowy winters,
until he has to do a removal by himself and accidentally drops the body.
The section “Where art meets science” has an anecdote called “The glass
eye and other expectations” which gives a sense of how difficult the
profession can be when survivors don’t give enough information.  By far,
the most moving chapter is “Lesson: never go to bed angry” in “Family
matters”, where a young woman learns one of life’s most important lessons
too late. Reading it could change your life.  “The killer customer”,
features a remorseful biker named Snake whose mother has died.  “Wake
combat” in “Wakes, funerals and burials” tells the almost-unbelievable
tale of two brothers brawling at their father’s wake. And in the “In our
private lives” section, “The tapestry of life” tells the sorrowful tale of
a funeral director who had to bury two of his friends.  The book is funny,
sad, and evocative.

Conspirata : a novel of ancient Rome

From Rita Gross
author:  Harris, Robert
Conspirata : a novel of ancient Rome
This is the second installment of a trilogy about the last days of the Roman Republic.  Imperium, the first volume, depicts Cicero’s rise to power in the Senate.   Conspirata picks up the story as Cicero is serving his term as Consul.  Both books are narrated by Tiro, who is Cicero’s slave and private secretary. Tiro is credited with the invention of short hand, writing Cicero’s biography and is an eyewitness to all that unfolds.

The year of Cicero’s Consulate is plagued by treachery.  Enemies plotting against the Republic and Cicero’s life proliferate.  The political maneuverings are full of twists and turns and could serve as a textbook for political intrigue.  This is a gripping page turner.  I highly recommend both of these books to anyone who enjoys a thrilling read.