Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Hush, Hush

Title: Hush, Hush
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Fitzpatrick

Nora Grey's class seating chart forces her to sit next to a new student at school, Patch. Though he's tall, dark, and handsome, he makes her feel uncomfortable. She's not interested in romance. He's interested however. His interest in her starts to worry her as he starts showing up wherever she is. Is he stalking her? Eventually though, she finds herself drawn to Patch and his mysterious demeanor. She wants to learn more about him.

After a number of strange and terrifying incidents, Nora doesn't know who to trust, including herself. When she finally thinks she has the answers, she finds out how she fits in a struggle between what she never thought could be real and humans. Someone has to make a sacrifice that will change her life forever. The question is, who will make the sacrifice?

The Bottom Line: I thoroughly enjoyed the premise of the book, both realistic and supernatural, but it did take me a while (Chapter 19) to get a real clue as to what was going on (trying to put the very telling cover art to the back of my mind). In the end, the character development won me over and I wanted to hear more from Nora and Patch, not to mention the very real and intense moments that drive them together.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Splendor: A Luxe Novel

Title: Splendor: A Luxe Novel
Author: Anna Godberson
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Godberson

This review discusses the plot points of previous books in the Luxe series. If you have not read the 3 previous Luxe books: The Luxe, Rumors, and Envy, skip ahead to The Bottom Line.

The third book in the Luxe series had quite a cliffhanger ending with Diana heading off to join the army in pursuit of Henry, former maid, Lina, inheriting a massive fortune, and Elizabeth marrying Mr. Cairns to cover up her pregnancy by the recently deceased Will Keller. Henry took off for the army to escape the agony of his love for Diana leaving his scheming wife, Penelope, reeling from his sudden departure. Will Diana and Henry find each other? Will Elizabeth be happy with her new life as the wife of Mr. Cairns? Will Lina be able to keep her past a secret? How will Penelope fair now that Henry deserted her?

So often in these longer series,’ the author uses the conclusion to satisfy the demands of the readers without any consideration to whether these endings fit into the setting, plot, or the character’s personalities (see Breaking Dawn). With Splendor, the fourth and final book, Godberson successfully ties up the loose ends and produces conclusions for her characters that truly reflect the nature of their personalities and the limitations of the society in which they live. Unfortunately, I do believe that some readers will be disappointed in the ending for one of the main characters. I felt that it was completely appropriate and fitting for that particular character but I will admit that I shed a few tears as that conclusion played out. The plot had a few surprises and twists which kept the basic story fresh and interesting. Even though it was sad to see it all end, I loved this final book and I look forward to reading something new by Godberson in the future.

The Bottom Line: Splendor was a well-crafted ending to an entertaining series! Though fans may be a little disappointed in the ending for one of the characters, the author did a wonderful job of successfully concluding this series in a way that remained consistent with the characters and setting of the books. I truly enjoyed all of the books in this series!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

14 Cows for America

Title: 14 Cows for America
Author: Carmen Agra Deedy
Level: juvenile
Location: J 327.676 DEE 2009

This book is based on a true story about a Maasai young man who was in New York September 11th and how he related the event to his people on his return to Kenya. Their reaction is captured in this story.

Bottom Line: This short book based on true events is powerful. The artwork does an excellent job of conveying the feelings of the Maasai people. The last sentence of the book is poignant ,"Because there is no nation so powerful it cannot be wounded, nor a people so small they cannot offer mighty comfort." Make sure to read the end note written by the actual Maasai man and his dedication. You will be touched by the compassion of these warriors.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Pretty Dead

Title: Pretty Dead
Author: Francesca Lia Block
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Block

Fans of Twilight will most likely pick up Pretty Dead as a read-alike. Sadly, many of those fans will be very disappointed. Francesca Lia Block is a talented writer who revolutionized both the fantasy and LGBT genre for teens in the 90s and 00s. When I heard she wrote a vampire story, I had high hopes. I read the book in one day but didn't realize until after finishing it that the reason I was flying through it was because I wanted to finish and read something good.

Quite different from the heroines of other vampire books, the beautiful 100+ year old Charlotte Emerson is constantly in a state of sorrow, despite being immortal, beautiful, well loved and extremely wealthy. It’s as if Block read Poe and Plath and transferred that melancholy into a vampire story, minus the good execution. Charlotte has seen everything from the bombing of Hiroshima, to Woodstock, to September 11th- all at the age of seventeen. She is immortal and perfect in every way. However, she is overcome by her constant wallowing of her immortality. She has a very close relationship with her brother (some scenes suggested a little too close, which was creepy). When he dies in the early 1900s, she tries to continue her life, despite being devastated.In present day when her best friend Emily dies suddenly, she starts to turn back into a human. Things get even weirder when her maker (and decades long lover) William comes back into her life after separating years before! The ending is extremely anti-climatic.

The reader will most likely not connect to the characters. The flowery, pseudo-intellectual prose will not be appreciated by teens looking for a fun vampire story or characters they can identitfy with. Although there are a few interesting moments, it’s obvious that this contrived story was simply Block trying to market off the vampire craze. Instead, it reads like terrible fan fiction you would find on the Hot Topic message board.

Bottom Line: Judging from this letdown, Pretty Dead sounds less like a book title and more like Block's (once present) storytelling ability.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Title: Meridian
Author: Amber Kizer
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Kizer

Death has always been a normal part of Meridian's life. As a child hiding under the blankets, bugs and other small creatures would crawl under the covers and die beside her. Plagued by constant stomach pains and headaches, she became accustomed to them, just as she did the chore of cleaning up carcasses before making her bed every morning. On her sixteenth birthday, a car crashes into a group of her classmates and her body, though untouched, is wracked with pain. She doesn't know what's wrong with her, just that no one will explain or can explain.

She is sent to her aunt's house in a town called Revelation, aptly named for what she discovers there about herself and about the people that choose to live there. She begins to lead a life she never could have imagined, a dangerous destiny, but one that she learns she is more than ready for, especially with a new friend by her side, and the special helpers she finds cloaked as normal people along the way.

Bottomline: This is a fast-paced read and thoroughly well-written. Love, danger, independence, all of these topics are covered and covered well: "I tasted tomorrow on his lips." This is a great book for those teens that like to read about the perceived outcasts overcoming obstacles with a touch of goth and impossibility thrown in. I liked it and am hoping for a sequel!

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Title: Skinned
Author: Robin Wasserman
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Wasserman

Lia Kahn was perfect: rich, beautiful, popular — until the accident that nearly killed her. Now she has been downloaded into a new body that only looks human. Lia will never feel pain again, she will never age, and she can't ever truly die. But she is also rejected by her friends, betrayed by her boyfriend, and alienated from her old life.
Forced to the fringes of society, Lia joins others like her. But they are looked at as freaks. They are hated...and feared. They are everything but human, and according to most people, this is the ultimate crime — for which they must pay the ultimate price.
This is a book about learning what's important on the inside, not on the outside. Lia has a reality-check when she becomes the epitome of what she and her friends despised- a "skinner" - a mechanical copy of her previous life. Her family, friends, and even her boyfriend have a hard time excepting Lia's new form and Lia herself is having a hard time moving on from being rejected from her previous life. She has to decide what she wants and how she feels - and if she even can feel.

Bottomline: I enjoyed this book. If you like the dystopian stories (Hunger Games, City of Ember, Uglies) then this the book for you. This is a start of the Gripping Trilogy and it should be exciting - I'm intrigued!

Monday, November 2, 2009


Title: Shiver
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Stiefvater

Sam has the unique ability to turn into a wolf during the winter and a human boy during the summer. He lives with others like him in a house as human and in the woods as a wolf. During the winter, Sam longingly watches a girl he saved from his pack years earlier. Grace is obsessed with the wolves that live behind her house. Even though they attacked her as a child, she will never forget the beautiful wolf with yellow eyes that allowed her to live. When the wolves are hunted by a group of men from her town, Grace encounters a wounded, suddenly human, Sam at her doorstep. Their mutual attraction is immediate and intense. Sam knows that if he turns back into a wolf, he will most likely never become human again. As Grace attempts to find a cure for him, Sam begins unearthing some dark secrets about his pack and their yearly activities. Can Sam come to terms with his upbringing and his adopted family? Will Grace and Sam beat the odds and find a way to be together?

Although the plotline of shiver is relatively familiar, the author’s writing made it special. She really immerses the reader in the story. I felt like I could actually smell the woods in the winter as the cold seeped into my bones. Normally, I would say that the relationship between the two characters was shallow, but she does a wonderful job of developing their relationship slowly along with the story. This book is by no means perfect, and in some instances, the parallels to Twilight are far too obvious. The enthusiastic gushing over Sam’s eyes really started to wear on me by the end. However, the storyline was well executed and the ending satisfying, making it an enjoyable read.

The Bottom Line: If you love Twilight, give this one a shot. I think it’s perfect for fans of that novel, particularly ones who enjoyed the romance factor. If you are tired of the basic Twilight-esque plot, pass this one up. There are more creative stories to enjoy in this genre.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Magician's Elephant

Title: The Magician's Elephant
Author: Kate Dicamillo
Level: J
Location: J Dicamillo K.

I feel I must write this review with very little about the characters for if I describe them, I am likely to spoil your discovery of them. I will say that almost all of them are missing something and mention Leo Matienne, the policeman. When Leo first appears he is defending the elephant so I think the reader will know this a good, kind person. Pay attention to Leo if you want to try to figure out what is going to happen. The begining of the book is bit of a bummer, as in a downer, but I urge you to keep reading. There are moments of true understanding and the story does brighten.

Bottom Line: Kate Dicamillo is a master of story weaving. While I thought the book was well written I'm not sure who I would recommend it to. If you already have a love of reading books this one may be for you. Kate's books also appeal to adults so if you are an adult who loves children's stories this is a must read. How can an elephant, who can't even talk, play such a big part of the story? Well, it is a magician's elephant so shouldn't it be special. Many of the people in the story think it is. Find out how it brings them all together.

The Magican's Elephant

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Wyrm King

Title: The Wyrm King- Beyond Spiderwick book 3
Author: Tony Diterlizzi and Holly Black
Level: J
Location: J Diterlizzi T.
Diterlizzi and Black have redeemed themselves! For anyone who did not read my review of book 2 I'll just say I was disappointed and hoped this, the final book of the series, would be better. It is! There is plenty of action, interaction of characters, and a satisfying ending for both the book and the series.

Spoiler alert- if you have not read the other books in the series skip to the bottom line. Nick discovers that after all the effort to get the giants into the sea it wasn't such a good thing to do. His family is torn apart and he is thinking to put forth so much effort and fail again just isn't worth the trouble. The nixie's are back, though a bit more cooperative this time. Almost all of the characters from the previous books show up to help as they learn why the giants are needed. What could make them need fire- breathing giants? Read the book to find out.

Bottom Line: A satisfying book to end to the series. Nick, his brother, and Laurie are joined by the Grace siblings, and they receive help from an unexpected source. There will be plenty of action as you try to find out why it takes seven people to fix what is still a giant problem and just what a wrym king is.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Battle of Jericho

Title: The Battle of Jericho
Author: Sharon Draper
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Draper

This book is about three friends who are pledging to join an elite high school group, The Warriors of Distinction. The main character, Jericho, has always been on the outside and is very pleased when he is invited to become a member of the pledge group. Everything seems to be going his way, especially when the girl he has a crush on agrees to go out with him. When a girl sneaks into the pledge group, the stakes are raised even higher- every pledge must complete all activities or no one will make it into the group. Jericho is an excellent trumpet player and must decide between playing his trumpet in a competition where he will be observed by a representative from Juilliard and doing a pledge week activity. As the week goes on, we see the pledge week activities go from bad to worse. Jericho must decide how far he will go to fit in with this elite group.

The Bottom Line: I loved this book and think everyone should read it. It makes you think about what you are willing to do to be part of a group. You really get inside of Jericho’s head to see the struggle he goes through and you really get to think about the decisions that you would make if you were in his situation.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Title: Impossible
Author: Nancy Werlin
Location: YA Werlin
Reading Level: Young Adult

Are you going to Scarborough Fair
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine

This song isn't just a pretty tune, it's a series of instructions, or tasks, for the girl to complete in order to be his true love. But, what if she doesn't want to be his true love and she's cursed unless she completes these tasks?

Lucy Scarborough learns why the women in her family go insane and she must complete these "impossible" tasks before she also goes insane and the cycle continues.

Bottom line:
I really enjoyed this book! The song, "Are you going to Scarborough Fair" was constantly in my head as I read. I loved how clever and original this story was. It has a little fantasy, a little mystery and a little romance. It's a quick read and a great story!

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Missing - Books 1 & 2

Title: Found (The Missing, Book 1)
Author:Margaret Peterson Haddix
Location: J Haddix
Reading Level: Ages 9 to 12

The first chapter starts in an airport, in an empty terminal. An unscheduled airplane suddenly taxi's in, and the airport workers can't seem to communicate with the pilot. Eventually they enter the airplane and there are no adults to be found - and every seat is occupied with a baby.
Jumping ahead 13 years later, we meet Jonah. He's adopted and he's cool about it. He starts receiving mysterious letters in the mail saying, "You're one of the missing". So he and his sister, Katherine, and best friend, Chip, who also found out that he was adopted, start to investigate where they came from and who is sending the notes.

*Skip to the Bottom Line if you haven't read 1st book*

Title: Sent (The Missing, Book 2)
Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix
Location: J Haddix
Reading Level: Ages 9 to 12

Thrilling sequel to Found and it was exciting. This is a series about time travel and children stolen out of time - and how those responsible are trying to return the children back to their time. Jonah and his sister go along with two brothers back to the 1400's. These brothers are the famous Princes in that went missing in the Tower of London. The author did a good job writing about this story in history and I found myself looking online for more information. This is going to be a 7 books series, so I'm trying to think of other famous missing children in history (Charles Lindbergh's son, Virginia Dare, etc.) who this author could write about. This should be fun!

Bottom Line:
What an interesting story! Margaret Peterson Haddix is good at writing thrilling stories that keep you on the edge of your seat. These books are no exception. I'm interested in the story, and care about the characters so I'll be anxious to see how it will all work out!


Title: Fire
Author: Kristin Cashore
Location: YA Cashore
Reading Level: Young Adult

Fire is heralded as the prequel to Kristin Cashore’s debut novel Graceling but the events in Fire occur about 50 – 80 years prior to Graceling and only one character carries over into that novel. This book takes place outside the seven kingdoms in a land called The Dells. Its inhabitants have never heard of those who are “graced” instead they contend with the lawlessness that characterized the rule of its last king and his corrupt advisor who are both now dead. Monsters also exist in this land, beings with a spectacular, bewitching beauty that have the power to enchant all those who look on them.

Fire, daughter of the king’s late advisor, is the only living human monster in the Dells. She is conflicted about her monster existence but has a moral bearing. Those who knew her father, blatantly mistreat Fire or are so wary of her abilities that they avoid her at all costs. She herself is initially timid and unassuming for fear of becoming the evil, degenerate being that was her father. She is also in danger from other monsters who desire to consume her. In addition to her natural beauty, Fire wields the power to control the minds of most everything around her, but does so reluctantly and only to protect herself. She wishes to live a quiet, unremarkable existence surrounded by her few friends. However, with her ties to the crown, her unique powers could be used to aid the new king as he steers the land toward a more peaceful existence.

Initially, I found the main concept of this book uninteresting, who wants to read about another beautiful girl with problems? I gave it a shot because I loved Graceling and think Cashore’s writing is phenomenal. Once I started reading, I found myself instantly hooked on this new land, the idea of monsters, the creepy character from Graceling, and on Fire herself. The characterization of Fire is absolutely brilliant. I enjoyed watching her overcome her struggles and blossom into a spectacularly realized character by the end. Even though this book is very much about Fire, supporting characters generate interest as well and are far more complex than what one finds in the traditional fantasy novel. The romance was obvious from the beginning but I found that it played out in a very satisfying, if not surprising, way. Since the Dells is a warring, contentious land, the suspense really builds in this book and it has some great action sequences from the middle to the end. I honestly enjoyed every second I spent reading this book and I will be in impatient anticipation for the next.

The Bottom Line: If you liked Graceling, you will enjoy Fire, but give it a shot either way. The story is imaginative, creative, and enthralling. For me, I loved it just as much as Graceling. Recommend it to teens and adults who enjoy fantasy, action, and a little romance.- Please forgive the massive review, I liked it so much and just got carried away ;)

My Soul to Take

Title: My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers, #1)
Author: Rachel Vincent
Location: YA Vincent
Reading Level: Young Adult

The main character, Kaylee, has these "panic attacks" - meaning that she has this uncontrollable urge to scream when she sees a person "with a dark shadow". She knows they are going to die soon. A new friend, Nash (a football jock who is gorgeous), helps her through her screaming urges, and helps her learn about who she really is. Cute romance included.

The main climax of the story is that healthy young girls are dropping dead with no apparent reason and Kaylee and Nash want to find out why. They even get help from a grim reaper. Very exciting.

Bottom Line:
The cover of this book drew me in and I ended up enjoying myself with the story. It was a quick read, and the author is very descriptive in her writing and she kept the story flowing. If you're interested in the paranormal genre - and want to start branching out from the usual (vampires, werewolves, etc.), then this is a book for you! This is starting a new series (Soul Screamers) and I'm hooked!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Blood Promise

Title: Blood Promise (Vampire Academy, Book 4)
Author: Richelle Mead
Location: YA Mead
Reading Level: Young Adult

This review vaguely discusses the plot points of the 3 previous Vampire Academy books. If you have not yet read Vampire Academy, Frostbite, and Shadow Kiss, skip ahead and read the bottom line.

When Blood Promise begins, Rose is in Russia trying to locate Dimitri and killing any Strigoi that wander across her path. She knows she needs to carry out the promise she made to Dimitri, but is still emotionally reeling from the events in the last book. Meanwhile, Lissa is back at the Academy with Adrian attempting to master more facets of her spirit powers. She misses Rose terribly but manages to make a friend in the new headmaster’s enigmatic daughter, Avery. Under Avery’s influence, Lissa’s powers become darker and on the other side of the ocean, Rose encounters one of the hardest personal struggles she will ever face. Will Rose find the strength to fulfill her promise to Dimitri? Will Lissa face the darkness that slowly envelopes her?

One of the fears in reading such a long series (a reported 6 books!) is that the middle books will function primarily as filler for the meatier content to come at the end of the series. Therefore, I am thrilled to report that this 4th book in the Vampire Academy series contains the same amount of fresh content, exhilarating action, and emotional turmoil that readers have come to expect from this series. Richelle Mead introduces a few new characters in this book which help the story feel crisp and exciting, as does Rose’s journey in Russia, a place where she knows little of the language and culture.

I find it very difficult to talk about the plot of this book without giving anything away. I will say that I found Mead’s writing impressive in this installment simply because she makes Rose’s emotions so palpable. The reader really feels Rose’s insecurity about her identity and place in the world as well as her anguish over the task to which she is committed. I did not feel as invested in Lissa’s problems but that part of the story still worked very well. Without revealing too much, I think Vampire Academy fans will be extremely pleased with this book, there is sadness, but also a fraction of hope to carry through to the next installment.

The Bottom Line: If you have not read this series, start reading Vampire Academy now! I truly enjoyed the emotional, exciting and hopeful journey that Blood Promise delivered. My favorite of the series by far will have fans impatient for the next installment. The next book, Spirit Bound, has a reported release of May 18, 2010.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Catching Fire

Title: Catching Fire
Author: Suzanne Collins
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Collins

This review discusses some of the major plot points of the first Hunger Games book. If you have not yet read The Hunger Games, skip ahead to the bottom line.

Katniss and Peeta return home from the terrors of the Hunger Games with the Capitol upset about the “act of rebellion” that allowed them to both escape with their lives. When Katniss effectively ended the Hunger Games with the deadly berries she did not expect her rash decision in the arena to inspire uprisings in the districts. However, when she embarks on the victory tour with Peeta they see the tension and unrest on the faces of those that come to applaud their success. Katniss herself has trouble discerning her own reasoning behind her actions on that day. Did she do it because she loves Peeta or does she really love Gale? Was it in defiance of the Capitol? All Katniss knows is that she must convince her fellow citizens that she never intended to defy the Capitol or her life, and the lives of her family and friends, will come to a gruesome end.

I don’t want to give anything away about the storyline of this amazing sequel. My brief summary only encompasses about the first thirty pages of the book. After that, the action really picks up and there are some truly surprising plot twists. I continue to love the character of Katniss. She is a mentally and physically strong, intelligent young woman but she continues to be inexperienced in dealing with her emotions, especially when it concerns her romantic preference. I definitely think fans of the series will be separating into Team Peeta and Team Gale after this sequel. The story was exhilarating and well crafted. Suzanne Collins continues to build on the world of Panem making it even more intriguing than in the first installment. The only drawback to this book is its spectacular cliffhanger ending which leaves the fans in agony for another year. The next book should be another action-packed, suspenseful, but potentially heartbreaking journey.

The Bottom Line: Catching Fire was a wonderful sequel to the critically acclaimed Hunger Games. It is intriguing, suspenseful, and action-packed with a little romance sprinkled in for good measure. Fans will not be disappointed with this sequel and will be clamoring for the next book due out next year. Team Peeta all the way!

Friday, August 21, 2009

David Inside Out

Title: David Inside Out
Author: Lee Bantle
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Bantle

High school senior, David Dahlgren has a pretty good final year of high school ahead of him. He is becoming one of the stronger runners on his track team, applying to colleges and hanging out with his friends. David’s life takes a complicated turn when his best friend, Eddie, comes out of the closet and his girlfriend, Kick, suddenly decides she wants to take their relationship to “the next level.” David’s doubts about his own sexuality coupled with his long-time crush on track teammate, Sean, worsen when Kick decides to make their relationship more physical. While David tries to rekindle his desire for Kick, his relationship with Sean takes an exciting turn for the better.

David Inside Out seems like the classic “coming out” novel and it certainly has all the elements. What makes this novel standout is the author’s convincing characterization of David as a conflicted teen. His authentic voice allows the reader to really experience the emotional roller coaster of David’s first love which is complicated by his own internal discord. The text is clear and concise without any flowery language or unnecessary digressions. With his unique writing style, Lee Bantle turned what could have been another typical novel about first love and embracing ones sexuality into an authentic representation of truly difficult life experiences.

The Bottom Line: I absolutely enjoyed this book! I think this could definitely appeal to guys particularly due to the short length and concise writing style. Recommend this to teens who enjoy realistic fiction, GLBTQ fiction, and stories about first love.

The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad treasure Hunt

Title: The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Treasure Hunt (a Judy Moody & Stink book)
Author: Megan McDonald
Reading level: J
Location: J McDonald M.
In the Mad Treasure Hunt the Moody's are headed to Ocracoke Island for the third annual Pirate Island Treasure Hunt. If they are the first to figure out the five clues to win all sixteen pieces of eight they will when a gold doubloon and a ride on the Queen Ann's Revenge II, a pirate ship! Of course they aren't the only ones trying to win. See if you help Judy and Stink as they solve the puzzles to find the hidden clues, earn the pieces of eight and find the final piece, all while keeping the ten pirate rules.
Bottom Line: This is a quick read with color pictures that both guys and girls can enjoy. I liked trying to figure out the riddles with Stink and Judy.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom

Title: Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom
Author: Eric Wight
Level: J
Location: J Wright
This is the first book in a new early chapter book series. I'm glad we were able to get it. Guys try it! It's short (short chapters), has a picture on almost every page, and mixes regular chapter book style with graphic novel. In the Closet of Doom Frankie's Mom is tired of trying to get him to clean his room and tells him as long as the mess stays in the door she won't say anything. Sounds good to you? It gets so bad even Argle, his dog, won't sleep in his room anymore! Frankie has a great imagination and with all the stuff in that room he's having a great time. Will he be able to handle the consequences?
Girls the way the graphic novel style shows Frankie's imagination may remind you of Babymouse. He also has a sister, Piper,who makes a few short appearances in this book.
Bottom line: Read it! Once again -short, plenty of pictures, mixed with graphic novel style, and Frankie's imagination adds adventure. Reluctant readers may enjoy this book. The next title will be Frankie Pickle and the Pine Run 3000.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Theodosia and the staff of Osiris

Title: Theodosia and the staff of Osiris
Author: R.L. La Fevers
Reading level: J
Location: J LaFevers

In Theodosia and the staff of Osiris, the second book of the series, Theodosia's father is having daily visits from the police because mummies from all the London museums keep showing up in the lobby of his museum (He's the head curator.)! As she tries to figure out what is causing the nightly mummy migration she just knows the Serpents of Chaos must be connected to it. How is she going to investigate, fix the problem to clear her father, find out what the Serpents of Chaos are up to and stop them when she has a new governess who doesn't let her have more than a minute to herself? Theodosia is very resourceful and finds some new unexpected ways to get help. Can she also help Will with his secret? There are spies all over the place. You may be surprised to find out which ones are spies for the good side and who is behind the Chaos scheme. There's even a secret society that think Theodosia is an Egyptian goddess!

Bottom Line: Whenever I picked up this book I had to keep my eye on the clock because even if I thought," I'll just finish the chapter", I would end up reading more. There is an Indiana Jones feel to this title. And like Indiana Jones, Theodosia often receives help from unexpected people and seems to have luck on her side. While there is plenty of adventure in this book the length and details keep me from recommending it for reluctant readers. I hope to see Theodosia again.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Ghostgirl: Homecoming

Title: Ghostgirl: Homecoming
Author: Tonya Hurley
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Hurley (will be released July, 1 2009)

This review discusses major plot points from the first ghostgirl novel. If you have not yet read Ghostgirl, skip ahead to the bottom line.

At the end of the first Ghostgirl novel, it seemed as though Charlotte’s afterlife was really looking up. She graduated her Dead-Ed class and was moving on to what she thought was the final stage of her journey. Instead, Charlotte and the rest of her classmates end up in a phone bank where they act as a conscience for teens making tough decisions. Charlotte quickly becomes frustrated over this unfortunate turn of events and with her lack of phone calls and visitors, she turns into her old, insecure self. However, when Charlotte’s friend, Scarlet, needs some ghostly help for her ultra popular, self-absorbed sister, Petula, she turns to Charlotte for help. Will Charlotte be able to come up with a plan to save Petula and Scarlet? Or will the two sisters be the newest students to Dead-Ed?

Ghostgirl: Homecoming was another exciting, humorous romp with Charlotte as she wades through her insecurities and gains a better understanding of herself. The writing is not amazing but it is adequate and can be quite creative at times. The language of the teens, both alive and dead, is accurate and not overdone. Even though most of the characters are one-dimensional, they manage to feel very real and their relationships with each other are wholly authentic. The plot is intriguing and has an ending that is touching without being overly sentimental. Even though the story had some minor flaws, it was still a pleasure to read and Ghostgirl fans should love this latest tale about the afterlife of Charlotte Usher

The Bottom Line: With this sequel, Ghostgirl is really turning into a wonderful series for teens. With its unique, exciting storyline and fun characters, it has broad teen appeal, but I think it is especially good for younger teens. Ghostgirl: Homecoming is a sequel, if you have not yet read the first Ghostgirl, pick it up before starting this one.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Title: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Author: Carrie Ryan
Reading Level: YA
Location: YA Ryan

Mary lives in a colonial-esque village surrounded by fencing that separates the village from the forest. The forest is off limits as the "unconsecrated" or zombies, roam freely and often try to breach the fence to attack the living. Generations have lived a simple life of survival, always dependant on the "sisterhood," a religious order that runs the community in all ways, taking away the need for commerce or free-will. The goal of the villagers is to survive and that is all they know. Mary questions this existence and soon events in the village cause her to seek out answers.

Bottom Line: I love a good post-apocalyptic novel and this one had me hooked for awhile, but then hoping for it to be over ASAP. I thought the characters weren't really developed until close to the end of the novel and this kept me confused trying to figure out why the protagonist was thinking and doing different things. I like the imagery, the discovery, and self-discovery, but then when the end finally came, I was thinking, huh?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Suddenly Supernatural: Unhappy Medium

Title: Suddenly Supernatural: Unhappy Medium
Author: Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
Reading level: J
Location: J Kimmel

In Unhappy Medium, the third book in the Suddenly Supernatural series, there is alot going on. Jac agrees to attend a music conference at a resort- if Kat can come with her. What seems like a great opportunity for the friends to spend time together turns out to be anything but that. It's an old resort and you know what that means. I'll just say boys, moms, murder, Orion, a spirit that doesn't know it's dead and a black cloud (And not the kind you're in when you have a bad hair day, can't find anything to wear and your mother is bugging you.).

Although more complex with a bit more mystery feel, this book is just as straight forward, true to the voice of girls this age, and easy to follow as the previous titles in the series.

Bottom Line: My favorite in the series so far. I haven't found a future title for this series yet, but I have a feeling there will be more so if you want a humorous, interesting, authentic read that includes things you might be dealing with yourself pick up Unhappy Medium and keep in eye out for future titles. What you're not a medium? Everyone has friend problems like Kat encounters at some time. Are you as good of a friend as she is? (sidenote - The author consulted with a reknown medium when writing this series.) For reviews of earlier titles search Suddenly Supernatural.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules

Title: Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules
Author: Jeff Kinney
Call Number: J Kinney
Reading Level: J

Greg Heffley is back and still surrounded by morons. The scrawny protagonist we have grown to love! Greg has been forced to join the swim team by his dad and hates it. His best friend Rowley is back from South America and getting all the attention from the peers much to Greg's jealousy. Rodrick, Greg's older aspiring rock star brother, is featured much more in this book as his band hopes to make it big. As you can expect, many crazy antics get in their way. Kinney has proved that he is more than a one book author and consistently keeps the character development and plot strong for a great series.

Bottom Line: Just like the first book, this is great for reluctant readers. If you have ever been the "wimpy kid", or had an older sibling, you can identify with Greg Heffley's hilarious view of the world.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The City of Ember

Title: The City of Ember (unabridged audio recording)
Author: Jeanne DuPrau, read by Wendy Dillon
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: CDS YA Duprau J.

"There is nowhere but here" the children are taught in the city that has no sky, stars, or moon. The sunshine comes from floodlights that blast during 12 hours of the day. At the age of twelve, Lina and Doon have completed their schooling and are assigned the jobs they will have for the rest of their lives, Lina as a messenger (who is paid 20 cents to run across the city to deliver spoken messages for individuals) and Doon is a pipeworker, spending all day below ground in a massive maze of tunnels and secret doors.

The decaying city is starting to have problems maintaining electricity and is running low on a limited supply of food, lightbulbs, and other necessities that the mysterious "builders" have left them. For 250 years, the people of Ember have lived without questioning their existence in this place that is all that they know, strangely simple and economical- no telephones, re-using all items and nothing is thrown away, and also modern with the expectation of electricity, but soon a secret box is found. What is inside the box is how Lina and Doon discover what was meant to be discovered years before.

The Bottom Line: I really got drawn in to this story, especially with it's hints at the reasons behind the existence of Ember being pre-apocalyptic. I think a younger reader would be interested in this story as well and the content would be fine for an 8-12 year old.

Wendy Dillon's reading of the characters was really well done and the small sounds inserted in different places to represent the fast-moving river and crowds forming helped the story rather than distract from it. I know this one has been out for awhile, but I'm ready to read the next in the series. I won't be watching the movie, at least not until I finish the series. I don't want to ruin what I imagine Ember to be.

Fragile Eternity

Title: Fragile Eternity
Author: Melissa Marr
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Marr

This review discusses major plot points from the first two books in this series. If you have not yet read Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange, you may want to skip ahead to the bottom line.

In this sequel to Wicked Lovely, Aislinn is attempting to balance her new status as fairy queen and her growing feelings for Keenan with her relationship with human boyfriend, Seth. Keenan still displays affection for the new Winter Queen, Donia, but still wants a relationship with Aislinn so that their court will grow stronger. Niall, the Dark King seen in Ink Exchange, grapples with his now more sinister nature while remaining a loyal advocate for Seth. While Seth broods over the complications and restrictions of being the mortal lover of an immortal fairy queen.

Since I enjoyed Wicked Lovely, I had high expectations for Fragile Eternity which really fell flat by the end of the book. Many of the characters make drastic changes from their original form in Wicked Lovely and the more interesting characters don’t get enough attention. As Summer Queen, Aislinn becomes melancholy, whiney, and na├»ve throughout most of the book. Seth also makes some extremely gullible decisions and never realizes this fact which does not fit with his character in Wicked Lovely. Melissa Marr spends half of the book trying to convince the reader that Keenan is evil but fails to sufficiently prove this fact through his own narration or actions.

There were a few characters that helped to make this book readable. Niall was a welcome breath of fresh air to the story. He is original and his unpredictability makes him a fascinating character. However, he makes too few appearances and has very little to do in this book. I really liked Donia. Her character begins to grow a backbone in this book and she becomes more defined throughout the story. Sorcha, the High Queen, was a welcome addition to the cast of characters but I don’t feel as though she should have took on a narrative role. Though Bananach, who represents War, was slightly disappointing in this book, I feel like she has a lot of potential for future installments. Unfortunately, the story itself lacks direction and a discernable climax which makes it far less exciting and less satisfying than Wicked Lovely. I like that the story takes place through the eyes of multiple characters but I think this occurred too often. For the next book, Marr might need to either cut out the narration of less important characters or make the book a little longer so the story can be more complete.

The Bottom Line: Fragile Eternity was not a terrible book but it fails to hold up the high expectations set by Wicked Lovely. If you read the first, you will want to read this one because the story has a lot of potential. The fallout from many of the things set up in this book should be very exciting to witness in the next installment.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Suddenly Supernatural: Scaredy Kat

Title: Scaredy Kat (Book 2 of Suddenly Supernatural series)
Author: Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
Reading Level: J
Location: J Kimmel

Kat and Jac are back. Jac is still having problems with her controlling mother and Kat is telling her Mom less as she seeks some independance. This time around the story centers on the house next door instead of school.

Kat decides to use the house next door for part of her class project. While taking pictures of the house she accidently snaps one of a boy looking at her. She goes over to meet him and can't figure out why he seems to ignore her. Maybe it's because the house has been empty for a least two years! The boy isn't the only one she encounters at the house. Join Kat and Jac as they try to figure out who the boy is and why he doesn't see Jac. Oh, there is a new character she first sees at the house that may be around awhile. This character seems to have everyone blushing!

Bottom Line: If you liked School Spirit you should like Scaredy Kat also. This second title has the same quality as the first, another likable fairly quick read. It again appeals to girls around 8-12 and deals with some of the issues that arise as one reaches for the teen years (moms, guys, figuring out what's going on with you).

Saturday, May 2, 2009

City of Glass

Title: City of Glass
Author: Cassandra Clare
Reading Level: YA
Location: YA Clare

This review discusses major plot points from the first two Mortal Instrument books. If you have not yet read City of Bones and City of Ashes, skip ahead to the bottom line.

This third and final installment of the Mortal Instruments trilogy opens with all the Shadowhunters returning to Idris to face an inevitable battle with Valentine. Even though Jace disapproves of Clary going along, she wants to meet up with a warlock who has the power to cure her comatose mother. Upon arriving they realize that Valentine’s attack is indeed imminent and his spies have ears all over Idris. While the Clave argues over himself and the final Mortal Instrument, Valentine prepares a deadly and devastating attack to begin a final war. Everyone who has not yet died in the last two books returns with a few new faces to attempt to thwart Valentine’s selfish plan to acquire the final mortal instrument and desecrate the race of shadowhunters.

Although I enjoyed the previous two books, City of Glass exceeded all my expectations for this trilogy. I enjoyed the change of scenery to Idris and the author does a good job describing this fantastical country and the city of Allicante. Many of the main characters become even more compelling as the author makes them more complicated in this final book. I have always considered Jace to be a deep, multi-layered character, but the author really delves into some of the other character’s feelings and motivations which make the book all the more satisfying. I also loved the deepening relationship between Alec and Magnus. The author succeeds in making their relationship intricate and genuine, instead of using them as the token gay couple. In the end, I love how all the story threads wrapped up in this book, it was truly an enthralling, action-packed conclusion to a very imaginative trilogy.

The Bottom Line: City of Glass was a great ending to the Mortal Instruments trilogy. The author does not shy away from violence, but it is not overdone. Amidst all the action, the characters deepen and the story becomes more intricate resulting in an exciting, satisfying conclusion.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Really Nice Prom Mess

Title: A Really Nice Prom Mess
Author: Brian Sloan
Reading Level: YA
Location: YA Sloan

Cameron Hayes is excited to go to his senior prom, especially when his date is the most attractive girl at school. The problem is, he would much rather be at the prom with...his boyfriend. They are both deeply in the closet and forced to go on double dates with girls to avoid anyone knowing about their sexuality. Things get worse when Cameron picks up his date. Virginia, the crass, foul-mouthed (and homophobic) bombshell beauty. The entire novel is a hilarious tale of one night involving parties, fights, a high-speed police chase, a go-go dancer and plenty of drama! Brian Sloan uses very realistic teenage dialogue and you can't help by continue to turn the page with this edgy novel. The characters are refreshingly honest and easy to relate to.
Bottom Line: This is a very underrated page-turner that is a must read for older high schoolers. Brian Sloan is a very talented writer in the YA genre and I really wish he would write more. One warning: Don't read it on a school night because you will be up all night waiting to see how the night of madcap adventures all end.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Title: Hunted: A House of Night Novel
Author: P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
Location: YA Cast
Reading Level: Young Adult

This review may discuss some plot points from the previous House of Night books. If you have not yet read the first 4 books, you may want to skip ahead to the bottom line.

Zoey and her friends are back in this fifth novel in the House of Night series. They have escaped the House of Night after evil Neferet raised the demon god, Kalona, as part of her plan to wage a war on humans and rule the race of vampires. Zoey must stay true to her goddess and, with the help of her friends and family, defeat the combined power of Neferet and Kalona.

As a whole, Hunted was a very disappointing book. It is 323 pages and encompasses three days of Zoey’s life after she and her friends flee the house of night at the end of Untamed. The writing is atrocious as always, but normally an engaging plot makes up for this fact. However, very little occurs in this book and by the end, it really feels like the storyline and the characters just ran in circles. It was while reading this book that I realized that between the first book in this series and the fifth, only a few months have passed in Zoey’s life. This drawing out of the series, particularly obvious in this installment, seems a lame attempt on the part of the author to squeeze as much money out of the series as possible. This is extremely frustrating since I know a good amount of teenagers who truly wasted their money for the sloppy mess that is Hunted. For the next book, the authors might want to attempt to use their limited writing abilities to extend the storyline past a few days of Zoey's life while actually adding depth to the plot and characters.

The Bottom Line: This was a terrible book. Untamed really gave me high hopes for this series which came crashing down in this fifth installment. If you are a fervent reader of the series then you have probably already read Hunted. If not, I suggest you skip this one. Trust me, you won’t miss a thing.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Composer Is Dead

Title: The Composer Is Dead
Author: Lemony Snicket
Reading Level: J
Location: J Snicket

Someone has killed the composer! The question is who did it...

Instruments such as the Harps, the Violins and the Trumpet are all personified in this cleverly funny mystery. As the detective tries to solve the murder, all the instruments are suspects with questionable motives...but plausible alibis. I knew this would be a witty, fun read coming from Snicket who crafted the dark humor A Series Of Unfortunate Events books and established himself as the Tim Burton of modern children's literature. One great line is when the narrator describes the composer as no longer composing, but "decomposing". Many classical music references are made that the adults can enjoy too. You may even learn a thing about orchestras and symphonies. Accompanied is a CD with Lemony Snicket narrating and followed by a performance by the San Fransisco Orchestra. Despite the grim subject, the story is in a picture book format suitable for young elementary school children who can appreciate a well-crafted darker comedy.

Bottom Line: Snicket once again proves that he doesn't need a 300+ page chapter book to develop a captivating storyline. I recommend this book to any fan of classic music or a silly but creative plot with a surprise ending.

Suddenly Supernatural: School Spirit

Title: Suddenly Supernatural: School Spirit
Author: Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
Level: Juvenile
Location: J Kimmel

School Spirit is the first book in the Suddenly Supernatural series. In this book we meet Kat whose Mom is super cool, but a bit of an embarrassment to Kat. I know you're thinking my life would be sooo much better if my Mom was cool. But is your Mom a medium who has seances with weird noises coming out of the room and drops in temperature that make you shiver when you have the most popular girl from school over. And did you suddenly start seeing people who say haven't eaten a meal in awhile and wear clothes that are so far out of style because - oh yeah- they're dead.

Talking to people no one else can see doesn't exactly help you make friends in middle school or survive without taunting, but Kat makes friends with a new student, Jac, who has her own secret and Mom problems. Together they try to figure out what happened to the faded girl in the library and how they can help her.

Bottom Line: A fairly quick, likable, somewhat humorous, middle school read. This book should appeal to any girl who is trying to fit in and avoid embarrassing teasing. So that would be all girls tween or older and those who survived middle school. Look for more titles in the Suddenly Supernatural series this summer.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Graveyard Book

Title: The Graveyard Book
Author: Neil Gaiman
Location: YA Gaiman
Reading Level: Young Adult and kids 8 and up

Nobody Owens is a pretty weird name for a normal little boy, but Bod does not live an ordinary life. Bod lives in a graveyard with his adoptive ghost parents, his protector and graveyard caretaker, Silas, and all the other ghostly inhabitants. Now it may seem like a graveyard would be a terrifying place to live, but most of the ghosts are kind, and even though Bod is alive, they accept him as one of their own. However, the graveyard does house some very frightening and dangerous apparitions. The demented ghouls, who move between this world and a dark, evil dimension, are always searching for a new recruit to their ways. As well as the Sleer, an ancient spirit that protects the oldest grave. Deep below the earth, the Sleer guards an aged treasure and is always on the lookout for a new master to ensnare in its lair. Although these creatures seem scary, the real danger lurks in the world outside the old graveyard. The man named Jack seeks for the baby, now boy, who escaped from his murderous clutches. Bod loves life in the graveyard, but he yearns for the real world and all of its knowledge. Will he always exist as he is in the graveyard, alive but not really living? Or will he be able to face the man Jack and claim a life for himself outside the graveyard’s walls?

This was a fun, mysterious, and imaginative read. Bod is such a well written, engaging character that young people will instantly relate to him and enjoy accompanying him on his adventures. Neil Gaiman is an extremely talented writer and he seamlessly weaves scary moments into Bod’s everyday existence without the story ever becoming too frightening. The many intriguing ghosts who people Bod’s existence add an enchanting supernatural aspect which helps to make this book so unique. The Graveyard book is truly Gaiman at his best!

The Bottom Line: I know I did not do justice to this amazing book. It is unique, heartfelt, and utterly enjoyable. It won the Newberry Medal for a reason so give it to kids and teens who like fun characters and a suspenseful yet good-natured tale.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Series Review: Runaways

Title: Runaways
Author: Brian K. Vaughan
Location: YA Runaways Vol. 1-7
Reading Level: Young Adult

Have you ever thought that your parents were evil? If you are like most teens, the thought has crossed your mind at least once. But for Nico, Karolina, Molly, Chase, Alex and Gertrude it's a reality. After witnessing their parents kill a girl in a sacrificial ritual, they quickly learn that the parents they loved are actually super-powered villians! Together they unite as one they try to defeat their evil parents.

Along they way, they discover that they also have unique superpowers, like flying and heat. The teens have their own distinct personalities that make the story funny and interesting. For me, one of the coolest things about the series is Gertrude, a sassy girl with purple hair who has a genetically engineered dinosaur that can listen to her thoughts and attack at will! The series has enough twists and turns that you will be dying to get the next book in the series. Look for cameo appearances from Marvel superheroes like Iron Man and Spider-Man.

Bottom Line: If you are looking for an original story with great characters that you can identify with, soap opera drama, thrills and laugh out loud moments, read this series. Even if you don't like superheroes or even graphic novels, you may find this to be surprising. There is something for everyone.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Envy: A Luxe Novel

Title: Envy: A Luxe Novel
Author: Anna Godberson
Location: YA Godberson
Reading Level: Young Adult

Another gorgeous cover meets with another fun, satisfying glimpse into the lives of the elite women in 1900’s New York. Penelope blackmailed Henry into a loveless marriage. Elizabeth is still grieving the death of her secret husband, Will. Diana is attempting to get over her love for Henry, and Lina continues her climb up the social ladder.

This novel is just like the other Luxe novels with all the scheming, backstabbing, and romantic liaisons of the last two. What makes this novel better than its two predecessors is the change of location from New York to Florida, where Penelope, Henry, and all the rest are vacationing. As always, the characters are fun and interesting and I really enjoyed the way all the different storylines played out in this book. I’m excited to see where the next book will take everyone, particularly Diana, and how the author will successfully tie up some of her loose ends. It should be fun!

The Bottom Line: Envy is a quick, entertaining read with engaging characters. It has a lot of teen appeal and fans of catty chick-lit should enjoy all 3 novels in the Luxe series. Be on the lookout for the next novel Splendor, released October 27, 2009.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Diary Of A Whimpy Kid

Title: Diary Of A Whimpy Kid
Author: Jeff Kinney
Location: J Kinney
Reading Level: Juvenile

Greg Heffley is surrounded by morons, as he calls them. Being a scrawny middle school student, isn't easy for Greg, but things seem worse when his mom makes him start writing in a diary. First off, he refuses to use the word diary. Instead, he draws pictures and fun stories of his life as a whimpy kid. His family and friends are very interesting charachters like when he deals with his four-year-old brother who is lead singer in a garage band. Also, his best friend Rowley who he gets into mischief with. Greg's story is very fun to read and the cartoon drawings are hilarious. Whether you have been, are in or will be middle school, you will be able to identify with the crazy fun antics of Greg. I actually laughed out loud several times.
Bottom Line: For a fun, quick read try Diary of A Whimpy Kid. Great for reluctant readers. You will love to look at the honest and hilarious side of the trials and tribulations of middle school.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Beyond Spiderwick chronicles book 2: A giant problem

Title: A Giant Problem
Author: Tony Diterlizzi & Holly Black
Location: J Diterlizzi
Reading Level: juvenile

Nick Vargas and his stepsister Laurie are the main characters once again. Older brother Jules helps out some this time. You will need to have read book 1, Nixie's Song, before reading this book. There is no explanation to catch you up on what happened in book 1. Actually, having waited a while for the book to come in, it took me a couple pages to remember and figure out what was going on. If you are hoping for a connection to the Grace family you won't find it until the very end (as in the last page) when they are waiting to let the Vargas clan know what they found out about the giants.

The giants seem to be waking up in groups and are causing quite a bit of destruction as they fight for territory. Jack Noseeum isn't much help as he is almost blind, so the Vargas kids are on their own to figure out how to stop the giants. Mermaids and something like a hobgoblin are introduced in this book. The hobgoblin like creature is a bit of a let down since it doesn't help much or have the charisma of Hogsqueel(from the Spiderwick Chronicles). Taloa, the nixie in book 1, has taken off to look for her sisters herself. The mermaids are the only creatures who can help, but remember, fairies can't be trusted.

Bottom Line: A Giant Problem is ok. That's about all the enthusiasm I can muster for it. I didn't hate it, but I definitely felt a bit disappointed while reading it. It lacks something the other Spiderwick books had- just doesn't grab you. It may be that the characters just aren't developed enough to form a connection with the reader.The ending gives the reader an idea about the third book, The Wyrm King, and I can only hope the writers will discover what was missing in this one as the third book is suppose to be the last in this series that had a promising start.

series review: Pebbles Plus Looking at Animal Parts

Title: series review of Let's Look At
Author: Wendy Perkins
Location: JNF
Reading Level: children

The titles in this series are for young children. Each spread has 2 lines of good sized text and a full page picture. There is a simple 5 word glossary at the end. Great photos of the animals that children are sure to love. Although not all pictures demonstrate the text, most show exactly what the words describe.

Bottom line: This is a good series to introduce animal parts, how the part is used, and how they are adapted for different animals. The titles can be used with preschool aged children. Indian River owns the following titles: Let's look at animal teeth, eyes, ears, and feet.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Title: Graceling
Author: Kristin Cashore
Location: YA Cashore
Reading Level: Young Adult

This story revolves around Katsa who is the niece of a king in one of the seven kingdoms. Katsa is unique because she is graced; she was born with the uncanny ability to perform a special skill. Unlike some other gracelings whose talents are swimming or archery, Katsa’s grace is killing. She is employed by her uncle as his primary enforcer and assassin. Katsa secretly despises her position so she joins an underground society devoted to righting the wrongs that are committed by people in power. While on a rescue mission for her society Katsa meets Po, a prince graced with fighting. Together Katsa and Po have to travel to one of the other kingdoms to solve a mysterious kidnapping and possibly multiple murders. They soon realize that the mystery has deeper implications than either expected and if they do not act, the whole land will be in peril.

This may sound like the typical fantasy adventure tale, but it is entirely unique. In her debut novel, Kristin Cashore uses stellar writing to create an extraordinary world peopled with fascinating characters. Katsa is a wonderful heroine. She is incredibly strong, and even though she grows and matures emotionally throughout the book, the defining elements of her character remain intact. Po is another fleshed out character whose relationship with Katsa is one of the best aspects of the novel. The action sequences are exciting, the plot is entirely engaging and the romance provides the finishing touch to one of the best novels of 2008.

The Bottom Line: I can’t say enough good things about Graceling. Give it a try and I guarantee you will love it! Even though this book is marketed to teens, the characters are not specifically teenaged, so adults who enjoy fantasy should love this book as well. Be on the lookout for Cashore’s next book, Fire, which comes out on October 6, 2009

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Stuck In Neutral

Title: Stuck In Neutral
Author: Terry Trueman
Location: YA Trueman
Reading Level: Young Adult

Stuck In Neutral is the deeply moving tale of 14-year-old Shawn. Shawn has Cerebral Palsy and is profoundly developmentally disabled. He cannot eat or move his body without help from his parents. The worst part is that he is very intelligent and fully aware of all his surroundings but cannot communicate at all. Despite feeling guilty for being so dependant on everyone, Shawn remains happy with a positive attitude. Things become problematic when his father considers killing him to put him out of the misery he thinks he's in. Of course, Shawn cannot verbalize his feelings and tell his dad that he doesn't want to die. Stuck In Neutral won the prestigious Michael L. Printz award.

Bottom Line: Giving insight into a little-known disorder, Stuck In Neutral is a beautiful, well-written story of love and feeling helpless. It is one of the most depressing books I have read, but also one of the most profound and moving.