January 31, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday (3)

This week's topic is great book club picks.   Honestly, I feel I am a terrible judge of book club picks.  In my teen book club we generally talk about the book for five minutes - ten, max.  After that it's just an excuse to get together and go out to eat (which is always a good time.)   Anyway, enough about my lazy book club.  Here's my list of books that we've read or I think we should read.

1. Life As We Knew It - Susan Beth Pfeffer
This book made me super uncomfortable because of the uber-realistic way Pfeffer portrayed an end of days situation.  This was one that I probably would not have picked up on my own, but because we read it for book club I got to widen my horizons a little.  Also, it made me want to fill my basement with batteries and canned goods.  On the plus side, I feel I am slightly more prepared for the Armageddon. 

2. The Hunger Games series - Suzanne Collins
I know, I know, obvious choice, right?  I can't help it.  I just have so many feelings about these books and I need to talk about them with everyone I encounter that's read them.  When we read them for book club it was my third time reading them and I was so excited to talk about them as a whole series, but then one of our members didn't finish the third by our meeting and it was like, what can I say without spoiling everything.  Ugh.  I think it might be time for a reread.  Definitely before the movie comes out.

3. Hate List - Jennifer Brown
This is an 'issue' book, which usually makes for good discussion.  It's a school shooting story from the point of view of the shooter's girlfriend, Val.  Everyone thinks she had something to do with it because they made a 'hate list' together and that's how he chose his victims.  It's about her struggle to cope and move on.  I thought it was extremely well done.

4. Bumped - Megan McCafferty
I wanted to love this book, I really really did.  I love the Jessica Darling books (who doesn't, right?) and I had such high hopes for Bumped.  I think it would be interesting to discuss because I didn't connect with it.  I really want someone to try and sway me to their side, so I guess this is a challenge?  Tell me why you loved this book please!

5. Wherever Nina Lies - Lynn Weingarten
I actually sat in on my town library's teen book club when they did this book because the author came and did a discussion/signing.  Lynn is such a great, fun author to come talk to a group.  I loved how this book was done with the pictures and the clues and it was so interesting to hear the process of how she wrote it.  It's the story of a girl whose sister went missing two years earlier.  She finds a drawing in a second hand shop that was done by her sister and sets off on this road trip with a guy she barely knows to find her and bring her home.  There's mystery, art, and one heck of a story to be told.


6. The Mockingbirds - Daisy Whitney
I loooooved this book, and they just put a new cover on it.  It's another 'issue' book, but I think those are some of the easiest to talk about at a book club.  They inspire the strongest emotions.  I can't wait to read its sequel, The Rivals.  Hell, I can't wait to re-read The Mockingbirds.

 7. A Blue So Dark - Holly Schindler
A story about a girl whose mother is a schizophrenic artist and how that affects her own life and art.  I chose to read it because I thought the cover was incredibly striking and it turned out to be a great and thought provoking read. 

8. White Cat - Holly Black
I didn't expect to love this series as much as I do.  Holly Black created a fascinating world of magic and fabulous narrator in Cassel.  It's a little disorienting at first because you know nothing, but the fun in it is jumping right in and finding things out along with Cassel.  They also just put a new cover on this one, which I kinda love.

9. Shine - Lauren Myracle
I first heard about this book when the controversy over the National Book Awards nominations happened and I knew that I had to read this book.  It's the story of Cat, whose former best friend Patrick is in the hospital because he was beaten and left for dead because he's gay.  This is our current book club pick.

10. Winter Town - Stephen Emond
I haven't read this one yet, but I've heard great things.  We try to read all different genres in our book club and we haven't done any graphic novels yet.  I think this would be a great way to introduce that genre without overloading those who don't fully embrace graphic novels.  (That would be me.  They give me headaches.)

I can't wait to see what everyone else recommends, they may even go to the top of my book club's to-read list!

January 27, 2012

Naomi & Ely's No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Title: Naomi & Ely's No Kiss List
Author: Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Pages: 240
Publisher: Random House Children's Books

From the flap:
Naomi  <3 Ely.
And she's kinda in love with him.
Ely <3 Naomi.
But he prefers to be in love with boys.

Naomi and Ely have been inseparable since childhood-partially because they've grown up across the hall from each other in the same Manhattan apartment building, and also because they're best friends.  Soul mates.  Or are they?  Just to be safe, they've created a NO KISS LIST- their list of people who are absolutely off-kissing-limits for both of them.  The NO KISS LIST protects their friendship and ensures that nothing will rock the foundation of Naomi and Ely: the institution.
Until Ely kisses Naomi's boyfriend.  And a fateful piece of gum in the wrong place at the wrong time changes everything.
Soon a rift of universal proportions threatens to destroy their friendship, and it remains to be seen whether Naomi and Ely can find their way toward new soul-mate prospects...and back to one another.

Okay, so Naomi and Ely are best friends.  Naomi loves Ely.  Ely loves boys.  Ely kisses Naomi's boyfriend and their relationship gets shot to hell.  The story goes between a whole lot of different view points telling the story of Naomi and Ely's time apart.

This book has been on my to-read list for a long time.  I read Dash & Lily and Nick & Norah and liked them both, so I figured why not read this one?  I am kinda sad to say I didn't wind up liking this one as much as the other two.  I think a lot of the fault lies in Naomi.  First off, there are symbols in her chapters that sometimes replaced words and sometimes seemed to be there for no reason.  They were really tiny and took me right out of the story.  I also just didn't really like her.  All of the characters talked about what a bitch she was and there was very little shown in the story (until the end) to tell the reader otherwise.  If you're going to make a bitchy character that's fine.  I'm all for bitchy, it just can't be her only personality trait.  I needed a little bit more to connect with her.

On the flip side, I did really enjoy Ely.   He is a runner.  When things in his relationships get intense, he bails.  Most often, in teen tv shows and YA books we see the runner characters from the point of view of the people being left.  Ely's perspective really put the reader right in there and showed how he felt and why he was running and that he did really want to change.  I think my favorite part of the book was when Ely had his meeting with the Dairy Queens and they knocked some sense into him.

My favorite character out turned not to be either Naomi or Ely.  It was Gabriel, the building doorman.  I love anyone who makes a good Buffy reference.  And a good mixtape.


January 25, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (2)

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Author: Melissa Walker
Pub. Date: 5.22.2012

From Good Reads: Sophomore year broke Clementine Williams’ heart. She fell for her best friend’s boyfriend and long story short: he’s excused, but Clem is vilified and she heads into summer with zero social life.

Enter her parents’ plan to spend the summer on their sailboat. Normally the idea of being stuck on a tiny boat with her parents and little sister would make Clem break out in hives, but floating away sounds pretty good right now.

Then she meets James at one of their first stops along the river. He and his dad are sailing for the summer and he’s just the distraction Clem needs. Can he break down Clem’s walls and heal her broken heart?

Told in alternating chapters that chronicle the year that broke Clem’s heart and the summer that healed it, Unbreak My Heart is a wonderful dual love story that fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Susane Colasanti will flock to.

I read Small Town Sinners last year and really liked it so I can't wait for this!

January 24, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday (2)

It's a freebie week for Top Ten Tuesday so I'm going to go back and tackle Top Ten Favorite Book Quotes.  These are in no particular order.

1. "There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy, and the tired." - The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

2. "Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels.  But old men are guilty if they forget what it was like to be young." - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling

3. "When I was little and I would get worried about stuff at night and it would keep me up, my mom would always ask, 'What's the worst that could happen?'  She thought this was very comforting - she thought it would make me realize that the possible mistakes on my 2nd grade math homework would not have broad repercussions on my quality of life.  But that's not what happened.  What happened was that I got to thinking about the worst thing that could happen.  Say that I am worried that there are mistakes on my 2nd grade math homework.  Maybe my teacher Ms. Chapman will yell at me.  She won't yell, but maybe she'll gently disapprove.  Maybe her gentle disapproval with upset me.  And maybe I'll start crying.  Everyone will call me a crybaby, which will further my social isolation.  And because no one likes me, I'll turn to drugs for comfort and by the time I'm in 5th grade, I'll be strung out on heroin.  And then I'll die.  That's the worst that can happen." - "A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle," Let It Snow, John Green

4. "Maybe happiness didn't have to be about the big, sweeping circumstances, about having everything in your life in place.  Maybe it was about stringing together a bunch of small pleasures.  Wearing slippers and watching the Miss Universe contest.  Eating a brownie with vanilla ice cream.  Getting to level 7 in Dragon Master and knowing there were 20 levels to go." - Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Ann Brashares

5. "'I Wanna Hold Your Hand.'  First single.  Fucking brilliant.  Perhaps the most fucking brilliant song ever written.  Because they nailed it.  That's what everyone wants.  Not 24/7 hot, wet sex.  Not a marriage that lasts a hundred years.  Not a Porsche or a blow job or a million-dollar crib.  No.  They want to hold your hand.  They have such a feeling that they can't hide.  Every single successful love song of the past fifty years can be traced back to 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand.'  And every single successful love story has those unbearable and unbearably exciting moments of hand-holding.  Trust me.  I've thought a lot about this."  - Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

6. "I tended to give a book a chance and another chance and another, sometimes seeing it all the way to the end, still hoping for it to turn out different.  Maybe I was confused about what you owed a book.  What you owed people, for that matter, real or fictional." - Stay, Deb Caletti

7. "You don't have to be a genius to know what happens in a play.  One guy gets the girl.  And the other guy dies." - Inside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn, Sarah Miller

8. "We volley a bit back and forth.  Then Mrs. Connors blows her whistle to stop and explain the retarded scoring system in tennis where the numbers don't mean anything and love doesn't count for anything." - Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson

9. "I wish friends held hands more often, like the children I see on the streets sometimes. I'm not sure why we have to grow up and get embarrassed about it." - Anna and the French Kiss, Stephanie Perkins

10. "It is our choices, Harry, that show us what we truly are, far more than our abilities." - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling

January 18, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (1)

 Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Title: The Disenchantments
Author: Nina LaCour
Pub Date: 2.16.2012

From bn.com: Colby and Bev have a long-standing pact: graduate, hit the road with Bev's band, and then spend the year wandering around Europe. But moments after the tour kicks off, Bev makes a shocking announcement: she's abandoning their plans - and Colby - to start college in the fall.
But the show must go on and The Disenchantments weave through the Pacific Northwest, playing in small towns and dingy venues, while roadie- Colby struggles to deal with Bev's already-growing distance and the most important question of all: what's next?
Morris Award—finalist Nina LaCour draws together the beauty and influences of music and art to brilliantly capture a group of friends on the brink of the rest of their lives.

I feel like I've been waiting to read this book forever.  Every time I check my to read list and it still says pre-order I'm amazed. 

January 17, 2012

Happy Release Day!

Some titles that are new today:

 Fracture by Megan Miranda
A lot can happen in eleven minutes.  Decker can run two miles easily in eleven minutes.  I once wrote an English essay in ten.  No lie.  And God knows Carson Levine can talk a girl out of her clothes in half that time.
Eleven minutes might as well be an eternity under water.  It only takes three minutes without air for loss of consciousness.  Permanent brain damage begins at four minutes.  And then, when the oxygen runs out, full cardiac arrest occurs.  Death is possible at five minutes.  Probable at seven.  Definite at ten.
Decker pulled me out at eleven.
I cannot express enough love for this book.  It's in the running for my favorite book that I read last year.  My review is here.

The Pregnancy Project by Gaby Rodriguez
It started as a school project…but turned into so much more.
Growing up, Gaby Rodriguez was often told she would end up a teen mom. After all, her mother and her older sisters had gotten pregnant as teenagers; from an outsider’s perspective, it was practically a family tradition. Gaby had ambitions that didn’t include teen motherhood. But she wondered: how would she be treated if she “lived down” to others' expectations? Would everyone ignore the years she put into being a good student and see her as just another pregnant teen statistic with no future? These questions sparked Gaby’s school project: faking her own pregnancy as a high school senior to see how her family, friends, and community would react. What she learned changed her life forever, and made international headlines in the process.

The Vampire Diaries, Stephan's Diaries #5: The Asylum by L.J. Smith, Kevin Williamson, Julie Plec
The hunters become the hunted...Driven from their hometown of Mystic Falls, both Stefan Salvatore and his brother, Damon, arrived in Europe looking for a fresh start. But Samuel, a wealthy and cunning vampire, has other plans for them. First he ruined Stefan's peaceful existence and now he's framing Damon for the most gruesome murders London has ever seen.
United against their common enemy, Stefan and Damon are stunned when they realize that the source of Samuel's rage lies in their past—tied up with the woman who forever changed their lives. Haunted by the memory of Katherine, the brothers find that their uneasy alliance is tested. Can they overcome their rivalry to defeat Samuel before he exacts his final revenge?
Based on the popular CW TV show inspired by the bestselling novels, Stefan's Diaries reveals the truth about what really happened between Stefan, Damon, and Katherine—and how the Vampire Diaries love triangle began.

Hallowed (Unearthly #2) by Cynthia Hand
For months Clara Gardner trained to face the fire from her visions, but she wasn't prepared for the choice she had to make that day. And in the aftermath, she discovered that nothing about being part angel is as straightforward as she thought.
Now, torn between her love for Tucker and her complicated feelings about the roles she and Christian seem destined to play in a world that is both dangerous and beautiful, Clara struggles with a shocking revelation: Someone she loves will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.
In this compelling sequel to Unearthly, Cynthia Hand captures the joy of first love, the anguish of loss, and the confusion of becoming who you are.

Tempest by Julie Cross
           -BONUS free short story Tomorrow Is Today available on nook and kindle
The year is 2009.  Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it’s just harmless fun.
That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.
Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.
But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler.  Recruit… or kill him.
Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world.

In Darkness by Nick Lake
Bloomsbury is proud to be the global publisher of In Darkness, a stunning tour-de-force set in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake. "Shorty" is a Haitian boy trapped in the ruins of a hospital when the earth explodes around him. Surrounded by lifeless bodies and growing desperately weak from lack of food and water, death seems imminent. Yet as Shorty waits in darkness for a rescue that may never come, he becomes aware of another presence, one reaching out to him across two hundred years of history. It is the presence of slave and revolutionary leader Toussaint L'Ouverture, whose life was marred by violence, and whose own end came in darkness. What unites a child of the slums with the man who would shake a troubled country out of slavery? Is it the darkness they share . . . or is it hope?
Raw, harrowing, and peopled with vibrant characters, In Darkness is an extraordinary book about the cruelties of man and nature, and the valiant, ongoing struggle for a country's very survival.

Lovetorn by Kavita Daswani
Can you find love when you think you already have it?
Shalini is new to L.A. Not new like from New York City new—or even Kansas new. New like from India new. And in the U.S., she has it all wrong: the way she dresses, the way she talks, the way she wears her hair. And then there is the ring, which makes her way different from everyone else—because Shalini has been engaged since she was three to Vikram, back in India.
Shalini’s life has been turned upside down. She doesn’t fit in, her mom is depressed, and email is no substitute for being with Vikram.
But when she meets Toby at school, Shalini’s heart gets turned upside down, too. Just looking at Toby makes her stomach flutter. She thinks she loves Vikram, but he never made her feel like this.
In Lovetorn, Shalini discovers that your heart ultimately makes its own choices, even when it seems as if your destiny has already been chosen.

  Stolen Away by Alyxandra Harvey
For seventeen years, Eloise Hart had no idea the world of Faery even existed. Now she has been abducted and trapped in the Rath of Lord Strahan, King of Faery. Strahan was only meant to rule for seven years, as Faery tradition dictates, and then give up his crown to another. But he won't comply, and now chaos threatens both worlds.
The only one who can break his stranglehold on the Faery court is his wife. . . Eloise's aunt Antonia. Using Eloise to lure Antonia, Strahan captures his wife, desperate to end the only threat to his reign. Now Eloise must become the rescuer. Together with her best friends Jo and Devin, she must forge alliances with other Fae, including a gorgeous protector named Lucas, and Strahan's mysterious son, Eldric-who may or may not betray them.

My first Top Ten Tuesday!

This week's topic (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) is Top Ten Books I'd Recommend To Someone Who Doesn't Read ______.  I'm going to take a step away from YA for a minute and go with kids books.  Let's start with picture books.

The Sea of Bath by Bob Logan
The super cute adventures of a confused sea captain in uncharted waters.  Sea monsters, divers, and a boat named SOAP all keep this captain company through his voyage.

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
This is the story of a boy who finds a small flower in a train track and tends to it.  It begins to grow and grow until he needs the entire city's help tending to his garden.

 Princess Hyacinth, the Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated by Florence Parry Heide
Just like the title says, Princess Hyacinth floats.  Her parents sew rocks into her clothes and make her wear a heavy crown to stay grounded.  One day, she takes a balloon from a balloon man and decides to go for a fly.  The only problem is the man doesn't hold onto the string!  Luckily there's a boy named Boy ready to bring her back down to Earth.

Morris Goes to School by B. Wiseman
One of those books that brings me right back to being a kid.  It's something about the illustrations, I think, that sticks out so clearly in my mind.  Morris goes to buy some candy, but doesn't know how to count his change.  The candy man suggests he go to school to learn how.  Hilarity ensues.

Itsy Mitsy Runs Away by Elanna Allen
This is my absolute favorite picture book of late.  Itsy Mitsy doesn't want to go to bed so she decides to run away.  She tells her dad she's taking the show on the road and he helpfully reminds her of all the things she needs to pack.  The illustrations are the cutest and Mitsy is fiercely adorable. 

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
I remember this being one of the first books that I read on my own and I was very excited about it.   It is a lovely story about an unlikely friendship.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
This was the first REALLY BIG BOOK that I read when I was younger.  I loved it then and I still love it now.  In fact, we're reading it for our book club next month.  The cover on the left is the one I had when I was little (and is probably still in my basement somewhere) and the right one is the one my sister got me for Christmas last year (!!!). 

Harry Potter - J.K. Rowling
What list of kids books would be complete without the epic tale of the Boy Who Lived?  I've read these books so many times I've lost count.  If you haven't read them, read them now.

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
This is one of those books that I never read as a kid.  It was a choice between this, The Westing Game (see below), and Bridge to Terebithia.  I wound up seeing the movie when I was in my late teens and loved it (Rory Gilmore,  Lucky Spencer, and immortality, what's not to love?).  I finally checked out the book last year because I wanted to see how different it was from the movie (there are few, but major differences) and it did not disappoint at all.  It's a thinking book, just like the cover says, "What if you could live forever?"

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
Finally, we've come to my favorite kids book ever.  The Westing Game is the story of sixteen people brought together to hear the will of Samuel W. Westing, an eccentric millionaire.  The will turns out to be a puzzle and whoever solves it will inherit Mr. Westing's $2 million fortune and his company.  This cover is the one I had when I was younger.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my first Top Ten Tuesday, I sure did.  These are some of my favorites and hopefully they're some of yours too.  If not, what are you waiting for?

January 14, 2012

Entwined by Heather Dixon

Title: Entwined
Author: Heather Dixon
Pages: 480
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

From bn.com:  Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it's taken away. All of it.
The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation.
Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest.
But there is a cost.
The Keeper likes to keep things.
Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

 I had passed over this book two or three times before I picked it up to read.  I saw it on the shelves of my local bookstore and decided I didn't need to read it.  A week or two later I found out it was $0.99 on nook and almost bought it, but then changed my mind.  That same day I went to the library and saw it sitting on the shelf.  At that point, I figured that maybe the fates were trying to tell me to READ THIS DAMN BOOK.  Who am I to ignore signs like that?  

Our girl Azalea is the eldest of 12 siblings named after flowers.  They all love dancing more than anything else, but have it taken from them after their mother dies and they go into a strict mourning period.  One day a bout of curiosity gets the best of Azalea and she winds up finding an old secret passage in the castle.  This passage leads to a magical forest that is home to the mysterious Keeper and a dance floor where the girls can dance their hearts out without anyone finding out.  Everything has a price, however, and when Azalea decides it's too much to pay she has to figure out a way to keep her family safe and out of Keeper's grasp.

I actually thought this was a bit of an odd choice for a story until I found out that it was based on the Grimm's Fairytale The Twelve Dancing Princesses.  Being a sucker for source material, I ran right to the Grimm's version right after I finished Entwined.  I was surprised that only the basic framework of the story was taken from it and everything about where the Princesses go at night was changed.  I really enjoyed how the magical elements weaved their way throughout the story.  I also really liked the revolving door of suitors for the girls.  If you like magic or dancing or pretty dresses, odds are you'll like this one.  I definitely did.

2012 Challenges

I'm going to attempt 5 contemporaries for 2010, 2011, and 2012.

10 Sophomore YA books in 2012

I am super excited (and a little nervous!) to be attempting these challenges this year.  To learn more/sign up for the Completely Contemp Challenge go here.  For the Sophomore Reading Challenge go here.  Good luck everyone!

January 12, 2012

Blood Wounds by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Title: Blood Wounds
Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Pages: 248
Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books

From bn.com:  Blood can both wound and heal …
Willa is lucky: She has a loving blended family that gets along. Not all families are so fortunate. But when a bloody crime takes place hundreds of miles away, it has an explosive effect on Willa’s peaceful life. The estranged father she hardly remembers has murdered his new wife and children, and is headed east toward Willa and her mother. Under police protection, Willa discovers that her mother has harbored secrets that are threatening to boil over. Has everything Willa believed about herself been a lie? But as Willa sets out to untangle the mysteries of her past, she also keeps her own secret—one that has the potential to tear apart all she holds dear.

Okay, so the above description pretty much covers the plot summary.  I definitely thought that this book was going to be more of a thriller than it turned out to be.  Pfeffer took great care in setting up the family dynamics in the beginning and really laid out how Willa felt about everyone.  We’re then dropped right into the action.  They find out her father killed his family and was on the run, probably towards them.  The family goes into hiding and the initial conflict is, surprisingly (to me at least), wrapped up pretty quickly.  Willa decides that she needs to go to her former hometown to go to pay her respects and go to her sisters funeral.  After that we really start to dig in to the relationships between everyone.  It was very interesting to see how the family dynamics shifted as the story went on.

I really liked how Willa’s memories came to the surface as she revisited the places of her past.  She spent so much of her life sweeping events and memories under the rug that once she started revisiting them, she couldn’t stop.  It changed her whole perspective on the people she had come to know as family and how they treated each other.

I’ve read one of Pfeffer’s other books (Life As We Knew It) and she has this way of putting normal people in these extraordinary circumstances and really showing you who they are and what they’re made of.  I want to say that I enjoyed this book, but I don’t really think that’s the right way to put it.  I’m glad I read it, but the situations in it don’t exactly make it a pleasurable read.