Wednesday, August 16, 2017

23 Minutes by Vivian Vande Velde

After a freak accident, Zoe Mahar developed the ability to rewind and redo her present actions for up to 23 minutes. Zoe uses her gift to resolve small mishaps, but when she gets caught in a deadly bank robbery, she must use her ability to save lives. This includes the life of a handsome stranger and young private-eye, Daniel, who sacrifices himself to save Zoe. Tapping into her talent, Zoe goes back in time to reintroduce herself to Daniel before the robbery and strategize how to resolve the incident peacefully.

Velde’s story is a fast-paced thriller sure to keep readers glued to its pages until the end. But aside from the time-travel chase, there is real depth and emotion behind Zoe Mahar. Readers meet foster-care teen Zoe after she has stolen her classified psychiatric evaluations. Zoe is tired of her abusive past determining her present conditions. She juvenilely believes she can erase her emotional past with her records robbery. Trying to dispose of her paperwork, she runs smack into the bank robbery. As she tries to untangle the bank robbery with Daniel, Zoe learns that she must accept her past and rise above it so she can focus on helping others. One criticism of Velde’s story is that Zoe’s lengthy sarcastic reflections sabotage the story’s pacing from time to time. Otherwise plan to read this addictive book in one sitting.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin

Pinmei and her Storyteller grandmother, Amah, hear rumors about the Vast Wall the new Emperor is forcing his subjects to build. Pinmei and Amah think they are safe from the Emperor on their mountain until the Emperor’s troops arrest Amah. The Emperor will release Amah if someone delivers the Luminous Stone That Lights the Night to him. Pinmei and her mysterious friend, Yishan, begin a quest to find the stone. As their journey progresses, Pinmei sees the truth behind Amah’s folktales and uses the stories’ insights to guide their path.

When the Sea Turned to Silver is the third book based on the world Lin created with When the Mountain Meets the Moon. Readers follow the three stories of Pinmei, Amah, and the Black Tortoise of Winter. For Pinmei and Amah’s chapters, they both share fairytales to either pass the time or uncover clues about the Emperor’s true motives. With the Black Tortoise, he describes his odd imprisonment, his need for a rescuer, and his eventual release. Along with their stories, Lin provides full-page, colorful illustrations and small character sketches to give vivid imagery and depth to her world. Some readers may find it difficult to remember the important details and characters from the abundant fairytales Amah and Pinmei share because Lin revisits these fairytale elements repeatedly to craft her book. Otherwise, a quick read full of fantasy, faith, and friendship for ages 12 and up.