23 May 2011

Joplin Missouri

Although I live in upstate New York I have lots of family in Southeast Kansas and Southwest Missouri. On Friday I left New York to come visit them. On Sunday we had a big lunch at Cheddars in Joplin, Mo. My brother and his wife and three kids, other brother and his girlfriend, my mom, and my best friend. Afterward we went to JoAnn's to shop for fabric to make my four year old niece a pageant dress, then back to my brother's house and chatted for a while. It quickly got really dark, the power started to flicker, and when I opened the door trees were doing circles. We spent the next half hour trying to keep three children under the age of five in the back hallway without freaking them out. It was really loud and we lost power for a while, but it came back and we went back to watching tv.

Turns out we were lucky. A tornado was probably forming over the house and skipped us over. Lots of people weren't so lucky, though. The Jo Ann's where we shopped at a few hours earlier is completely gone. So is the high school and one of the two hospitals, as well as miles of houses and businesses. My brother quickly got called in to his job with the police department, and my sister in law responded to a call for nurses not long after that. They've told me a lot of stories, but they're all so heartbreaking I don't think I can post any here. What I can say, though, is that things are bad. Really bad. The water's not safe to drink and there's not enough of it to give pressure for the fire department to put out fires started by the storm. Hundreds of people have no homes. Many of them are injured, and enough are injured badly and the hospitals are running out of blood. There is debris everywhere and rescuers are still finding people in wreckage.

It always hits close when something like this happens. Right now I can say that if you want to donate money please contact the Red Cross. Better yet, if you can please donate blood this week. They really, really need blood at the blood banks. Also, since the high school is gone, I'm going to try and coordinate a book donation drive to get books to restock the high school library when it gets built again. It probably won't be for a few years, but I know that fiction from the library was the joy of my high school days, and I'd hate for some of these students to miss their opportunity because of this storm. I know I have some good-quality hardcovers that I can give to a good cause, and I bet some of the rest of you do, too. I'll post more on this when I get in touch with the high school librarian in the next month and get more info on what they need and when they might need it.

10 May 2011

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

EVERY GIRL who has taken the test has DIED.

Not it's KATE'S TURN.

It’s always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate’s going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won’t live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he’ll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he’s crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she’ll become Henry’s future bride, and a goddess.

If she fails...

After reading the summary of this book I expected another close rehashing of the Percy Jackson series. I am SO glad I decided to give it a try, though, because this book was great! If you're like me and worry about another re-do of Gods and Goddesses fighting eachother and causing epic battles among humanity in the process, then rest assured that this book is none of that. These Gods and Godesses actually seem to care somewhat for humanity (I know, this might be a hard stretch for the Greek and Roman pantheon, but it works well). Instead they are all about free will, justice, and caring for people, even if they are not above a little manipulation to get what they personally see as the best outcome to help the greater good. Kate is a great character. She's a mature teenager that pulls off both facets of that title without seeming to be an adult in teenager guise. The people around her are all characterized well and their actions are logical even when they are unpredictable. Kate's mother is wonderful, being a good mother and still portraying her illness well. The connection between Kate and her mother was very touching, heartbreaking, and made me cry a few times. The plot is great, and although I don't want to divulge a lot of it in fear of wrecking some of the great twists I will say that it kept me riveted the entire time I read the book. I will be greatly looking forward to the sequels in this series.

This book was provided to me free through NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. I thought it was so great I went out and bought a hard copy for my library after reading.