Skullcrack

By Ben Bo

Place: Publisher & Year: Minneapolis: Lerner Sports, 2000

Genres: General fiction, adventure, paranormal

ISBN: 9780822533085

Intended audience: Young adult

Number of pages: 159 (161 including Editor’s Note)

Setting: Mulligan, Ireland (County Sligo) and Storm Island, Florida (near Cape Canaveral)

Time period: Contemporary

Plot summary: Jonah Ebbers has one good thing in his life – the surf at Craxkull Point.  This is where he heads when he needs to get away from his alcoholic father, the kids at school, and the voices in his head.  When he is in the water, riding a wave, he is at peace with the world.  Unfortunately, he can’t surf forever.  The strange voice and girlish apparition he can almost see at times is disturbing him more frequently, on top of his father making a fool of himself at the tavern and spending all of their money on alcohol.  Jonah wants a normal life with a future worth looking forward to, but he will have to examine his past to find it. Continue reading

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Howl’s Moving Castle

By Diana Wynne Jones

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: Harper Trophy, c1986, 2001

Genres: Fantasy, steampunk

Series: Howl’s Moving Castle; 1

ISBN: 9780064410342

Intended audience: Young adult

Number of pages: 329

Setting: Market Chipping, Porthaven, and Kingsbury, Ingary & Wales

Time period: No stated time period in Ingary.  The Wales setting is a contemporary time.

Plot summary: Sophie Hatter was born the eldest of three – a terrible misfortune in Ingary.  While her younger sisters are sent off to learn magic and baking, Sophie is destined to run the family hat store.  That is, until the Witch of the Waste enters the store one day and lays a curse upon Sophie.  Sophie soon discovers that she has been transformed into an old woman.  To undo the curse, Sophie must leave the hat store and find someone willing to help her, but she won’t be able to speak of the curse. Continue reading

The Green Room: Mai Huli ‘Oe I Kōkua O Ke Kai, Respect the Ocean

By Deborah Turrell Atkinson

Place: Publisher & Year: Scottsdale, AZ: Poisoned Pen Press, 2005

Genres: Mystery, adventure, suspense

Series: Storm Kayama Mysteries; 2

ISBN: 9781590581988

Intended audience: Adult

Number of pages: 275 (including Glossary and References)

Setting: Oahu, Hawaii

Time period: Contemporary

Plot summary: Storm Kayama has recently started her own law practice.  She barely has time to worry about getting clients before she has her first call brought to her by “coconut wireless”.  Storm’s first client is a friend of her cousin, Nahoa, a professional surfer.  Storm can’t afford not to take divorce cases and agrees to take Stephanie Barstow as a client.  Her son Ben will be competing in the same surfing contest as Storm’s cousin, while Stephanie’s soon to be ex-husband, Marty, is planning to start a new surfing competition on Oahu’s North Shore.  Storm soon finds herself hitting the waves, as well as, questioning whether or not some of the recent surfing accidents really were accidental. Continue reading

Precious: Based on the novel Push

By Sapphire

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: Vintage Contemporaries, c1996, 1997, 2009

Genres: General fiction, urban lit, street lit

ISBN: 9780307474841

Intended audience: Adult

Number of pages: 177 (180 including Reader’s Guide)

Setting: Harlem, Manhattan, NYC

Time period: 1987 – 1989

Plot summary: Sixteen year old, Precious Jones lives an extremely hard life.  Born and raised in Harlem, she has been raped by her father and abused by her mother in a variety of ways since she was a small child.  She bore her first child at the age of twelve and is pregnant again at the age of sixteen.  She is illiterate, obese, and has no friends or self-esteem.  Her life changes radically for the better when she is expelled from her traditional school and enters a pre-GED program. Continue reading

Six Kinds of Sky: A Collection of Short Fiction

By Luis Alberto Urrea

Place: Publisher & Year: El Paso: Cinco Puntos Press, 2002

Genres: Short stories, general fiction, magical realism

ISBN: 9780938317630

Intended audience: Adult

Number of pages: 146 (includes an afterword)

Settings: Range from Rosario to the outskirts of the city dump in Tijuana, Mexico and various locations in the US, including the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

Time period: 1970’scontemporary

Description: This collection includes six stories which are followed by an afterword: “Mr. Medoza’s Paintbrush”, “Taped to the Sky”,  “First Light”, “A Day in the Life”, “Father Returns from the Mountain”, “Bid Farewell to Her Many Horses”, and “Amazing Grace: Story And Writer”.  In the author’s words – “the book is some kind of downward spiral.  It starts out all full of jokes and ends in fire and poverty and death.  It reflects an early fascination with escape, then deals with returning, then staying put and dealing with it, whatever it is” (p. 145).  While this is an accurate description of the collection, it’s not a depressing spiral, but rather an uplifting one.  In the non-joking stories, Urrea’s characters find grace and beauty in their situations. Continue reading