Saturday, October 29, 2011

Open Minds

by Susan Kaye Quinn

Kira Moore lives in a world of eerie silence.

It's the twenty-second century, and everyone can read minds, except for Kira. Her inability to share thoughts with her classmates leaves her hopelessly at the bottom of the social ladder, and she even has to wear a special hearing aid so her teachers can whisper their lectures. Things most young teenage girls look forward to, like college and boyfriends, are completely out of the question for a zero like Kira.

The one bright spot in Kira's life is her friendship with Raf. He's the only person who seems to care about her in spite of her freakish inability to communicate. But everything changes when Kira accidentally knocks Raf out--with her mind.

Terrified, Kira doesn't know what to do until Simon, a good-looking senior with a slightly dangerous reputation, reveals that he and Kira are both mindjackers, rare people who can control thoughts. He teaches her how to use her ability to fool everyone into thinking she's a normal mind-reader, and warns her that no one can ever find out what she really is. Tormented by the lies, Kira pushes her family and Raf away, spending time with Simon instead. After all, Simon is the only person who really understands her.

But Simon is about to pull Kira into a sinister clan of mindjackers who are being hunted by ruthless government agents. In this treacherous underworld, Kira discovers that her mindjacking abilities go way beyond what anyone has seen before, which puts her and everyone she loves, including Raf, in unspeakable danger.

I've seen stories about mind-reading before, but never one so thoroughly consistent and chillingly believable. Kira Moore rocks. Her quest to find her place in the world and to save the people she loves had me on the edge of my seat. I highly recommend this book for readers age twelve and up.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Heart of a Samurai

Margi Preus
Amulet Books 2010

When a storm at sea takes Manjiro's fishing boat far from the coast of his beloved Japan, he fears he will never see his home again. After months on a desert island, he and his companions are rescued by terrifying barbarians who hunt the oceans for great whales. No foreigners are allowed to land on Japan's shores, so Manjiro has never seen men like these. At first frightened, then curious, Manjiro gradually befriends the captain of the ship, who offers to take him back to America, a land that no Japanese person has ever seen before.

In this story of courage and overcoming prejudice, Manjiro discovers a new life in America, but never loses his longing for his homeland. In the end, he becomes instrumental in forging the first friendship between the two nations he had called home.

This book is a fascinating fictionalized biography of a man who brought two cultures together for the first time. Recommended for readers 11 and up.