Monday, December 20, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Author: Rick Riordan
Reading Level: 3rd-6th grade
Location: J Riordan
Since their mother's death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane.
One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a "research experiment" at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives.
Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them —Set— has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe - a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.
Bottomline: Fun book with thrilling adventure. The sibling narrators take turns telling the story and it's interesting seeing different perspectives. I was a bit rusty in my Egyptian mythology, but the author did a good job helping share the background stories. I enjoyed this book, not as much as the Percy Jackson series, but I'm still interested to see where the story goes.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Author: Ally Condie
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Condie
In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.
Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s barely any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one . . . until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.
This book reminded me of The Giver, in that the government, or City Officials, controls everything about the "Society". Everything in the Society is controlled, predicted and sorted. The story starts out with the main character, Cassia, going to her Match Banquet, where she will meet the man she will marry when they're 21. Cassia starts to see flaws in the "Society" and realizes that her freedom is what she wants the most, especially with the boy she loves.
Bottomline: This is a good addition to my favorite dystopian stories. The controlled environment always get me thinking. I love the realization of better things, and the love and freedom that is prohibited, and all more desirable. I enjoyed this story and am anxious for the next installment in this planned trilogy!
Friday, November 5, 2010
Author: April Lindner
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Lindner
In this contemporary retelling of the classic novel Jane Eyre, Jane Moore finds herself literally penniless after the death of her parents. Unable to continue at college, Jane secures a nanny position for the daughter of reclusive rock star, Nico Rathburn and moves into his estate, Thornfield Park. Jane, always practical and pragmatic, quickly finds herself falling for her enigmatic but handsome employer but he has his eye on a wealthy photographer for the rich and famous. She knows it's impossible but has to wonder if Nico will ever see her as anything more than the nanny? In the midst of it all, Jane begins to realize that Thornfield Park hides a terrible secret. Jane knows that the creepy noises and the mysterious, midnight fires are no accident. Will she figure out the mystery before she becomes the next target?
Monday, November 1, 2010
Author: Lauren Kate
Location: YA Kate
Fallen by Lauren Kate is another book about a girl who has two guys interested in her ( Shouldn't we all!), but it is nothing like Twilight. Yes, Luce will eventually have to choose between them, but one of these guys is really bad and the other is pure good. Will you be able to tell which is which? And why does Lucinda keep feeling like she knows Daniel? The supporting characters are quite interesting themselves. I guess when you're enrolled at a boarding reform school with a cemetary on the grounds that can be expected. From tattoos to earrings, scars and tracking bracelets to those who would just as soon fight you as have you breathe there is a whole cast of characters... Luce isn't really a reform school candidate, but after what happened at her old school she didn't have much choice. She is trying to figure out how to fit in and avoid the true reformers without even realizing what is going on around her.
Bottom Line: This book is not one that gives background on the characters or the situation at the beginning. Instead you must put things together as the story is revealed throughout the book. This bothered me at first, but after a bit I was able to figure out some of the story. If you like a bit of mystery and romance, and memorable characters this is an enjoyable, well written read. There is a sequel to the book, Torment, which I look forward to reading as there was much more to the story. The next book of the story (Passion) comes out in 2011.
Update- There will now be more books coming out after 2011.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Author: Melanie Watt
Reading Level: Picture Book
Location: JE WATT
Chester is back with his fat red marker! After stealing author Melanie Watt's art supplies and eating her computer mouse (which, by the way, tastes like chicken), Chester decides that he will write a better story than Watt ever could. In his first attempt at storytelling, Chester steals the lines from a familiar Christmas poem with a few additions of his own. Watt decides to inform Chester of his mistakes and attempts to assist him in his writing venture through post-it notes. After learning what elements make up a story, Chester makes a couple interesting attempts and gloats until his marker finally runs out of ink.
This humorous installment in the Chester series goes beyond the predecessors by having Chester write most of the narrative. A real treat the continuation of having Chester writing the inside flaps of the book cover and copyright page. His mischievous nature comes out in the narrative and also in his little drawings. What makes this series particularly interesting is the artistic style. Watt uses a combination of 3D-Computer, pencil, and watercolor that makes it a feast for the eyes. Many of the pages consist of lined paper where Chester, who is done in watercolor, writes with his red marker. The author's voice is made apparent by using post-it notes written in pencil usually scolding Chester.
Bottom Line: All of the Chester books are just so much fun to read and this one is no exception. This is a great story to help teach preschool to second grade about elements of a story and still have fun doing it. Even if you are a child at heart, you will love this book and Watt's storytelling.
Friday, October 8, 2010
Friday, October 1, 2010
Author: Jackie Morse Kessler
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Kessler (once it comes in)
Lisabeth Lewis is having a tough few weeks. She refuses to speak to her best friend after they had a big fight over Lisabeth's supposed eating disorder. Her boyfriend is going to eventually leave her because she is getting so fat. Then some guy shows up at her door and drops off a package with old fashioned scales and the message "Thou art famine!" Now Lisa has a black steed to ride around the world and a new job as one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Lisa loves the freedom of her new job, but will she be able to inflict the pain of hunger on others as easily as she does herself?
After reading the plot summary for Hunger, I was not very interested in reading it. I love fantasy, but this just sounded absurd. I am so glad that I took the time to read this amazing, short novel! Lisa's voice is so genuine as a teen who is intelligent and witty but suffering from an eating disorder. At times her narration had me smiling, and other moments I found myself crying for her. The secondary characters, like the boyfriend and the best friend, played small roles in the book and existed primarily to highlight Lisa's internal problems. The only other character I found extremely intriquing was Death; hopefully we will hear more from him in later books. The fantasy element is obviously quite prevalent in this novel and utterly enjoyable, but I felt that the realistic portrayal of a girl suffering from anorexia made this book memorable for me. I appluad the author for this extremely inventive mash-up of fantasy and realism and I can't wait for her next book, due out next year.
The Bottom Line: Hunger was a terrific, short read that tackles a difficult subject with an inventive fantasy plotline. Even though there will be more books about the other horsemen, this is a stand-alone novel. No cliffhangers! If you enjoy fantasy or quick reads you should definitely pick this one up. Fans of realistic fiction who don't mind a little fantasy should give this one a try as well.
The publisher provided me with an advanced reader's copy of the book for this review. Hunger has an expected release date of October 18, 2010. The library should have a copy as quickly as possible.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Title: Immortal Beloved
Author: Cate Tiernan
Location: YA Tiernan
Reading Level: Young Adult
Nastaysa (Nasty for short), an immortal human, has been content with drowning her past and memories in parties, drugs and alcohol for hundreds of years. She has never cared about those she hurts by her actions, even when her choices lead to the death of innocent people. Until one night, she watches as her best friend Incy, another immortal, mercilessly breaks the spine of a London cabbie, causing Nasty to reevaluate her own actions. Nasty flees London and her current friends for America and a rehab house for disillusioned immortals. At first Nasty has a tough time adjusting to their organic farm, green way of living, and endless chores. It doesn't help that the gorgeous "viking god," Reyn, inexplicably treats her with barely veiled contempt every time he interacts with her. But as she begins to adapt to her situation, memories that were seemingly crushed forever start coming to the surface forcing her to deal with her painful past. Will Nasty be able to confront her issues and become a functioning member of the house? Can she discover the cause of Reyn's disdain for her?
I think this was a great first book with an engaging main character to start out a new trilogy. Nasty's authentic voice with its sarcastic wit and jaded sensibility is perfect for an indifferent immortal who has lived through too many lifetimes of pain and disappointment. The multiple flashbacks to her past kept the story from dragging and added interest to Nasty as a character. She is certainly not perfect but is still a very sympathetic, relatable female character so I was cheering for her the whole time. My only complaint with this novel was the romance aspect. Reyn is quite mean to her and treats her pretty badly throughout much of the book. The only thing that made her attraction to him bearable, in my mind, is that she acknowledges the inexplicable nature of her feelings for him. However, I do feel that the author will explore their relationship in future installments so I think the romance will really improve. Other than his actions toward Nasty, Reyn has potential to be an intriguing character so I'm hoping the author will do a little more with him in the next book. I also thought the magick aspect of the immortals was imaginative and well done. Even though we did not get to see much of it in this first book, I feel like it will take center stage in the next two books.
The Bottom Line: Immortal Beloved was a great first book in the Cloth trilogy. Nastaysa is an awesome character. Even though some aspects of this book, like the romance, and magick could have been fleshed out more, it was still an interesting story. Bonus... it doesn't end on a cliffhanger! If you enjoy fantasy, fantasy/romance or historical fantasy, you should like this book.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Author: Thomas Marent
Location: 577.34 MAR 2010 (in the adult area)
rainforest is a DK book that was reviewed in the Oprah magazine O. As with any DK book the pictures are very important and these are great pictures! The pictures start with a few panoramic views. You'll see animals you recognize and some you don't. In the Arms and Armor section you might be left asking, "What's that?" See if you can find all the critters hiding in the Deception section. There are a few pictures of creatures being eaten by another and mating, but none are graphic in any way. Lots of colorful frogs, snakes and butterflies. Also a full spread sequence series of a cicada coming out of it's shell. Check out the bats living inside a leaf on page 323,or the fantastic shot of a strangler fig on page 160 (Guess how it got that name.) or maybe say eehhh when you see the millipede on page 344. This photographer definitely spent numerous hours in the rainforest. Wonder how many mosquito bites he has? Just check out the pictures of other animals that have to endure mosquitoes too.
Bottom Line: This book has amazing pictures of all kinds of rainforest animals and plants (mostly animals) with just a few sentences about each picture. There is a page or two of text at the beginning of each section. Read it if you want to learn more or just skip it and read the captions as you enjoy the pictures. This book is worth the trouble of placing a hold to see it. You'll want to share it with friends or family so you can eeww and wow together. And yes parents this adult book really is ok for children of all ages.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Author: Suzanne Collins
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Collins
This review contains no spoilers for Mockingjay but may contain details from the two previous books in the Hunger Games series. If you have not yet read The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, skip ahead to The Bottom Line.
Mockingjay picks up about one month after the events of Catching Fire. With her home destroyed, Katniss resides in District 13 with the few refugees that survived the Capitol's bombing of District 12. President Coin and the rest of the leaders of District 13 are managing the rebellion and need Katniss to be their Mockingjay, the symbol and hope of the rebellion. Unfortunately, the physical and emotional damage Katniss suffered in the arena coupled with her guilt over the fate of Peeta has left her emotionally unstable and unwilling to be used as a pawn for yet another cause, however noble. As the rebellion takes hold in more districts and her fellow citizens fight and die brutal deaths in massive numbers, will Katniss give them the strength they need to continue their struggle? Or will she retreat from the spotlight, unwilling to be the cause of more death and destruction?
I find it difficult to discuss this book, not only for fear of giving away any of the major spoilers, but also because reading this book was so emotionally draining. While the first two books set up the country of Panem, its controlling government and the brutality of the games, Mockingjay introduces the reader to the horrors of war and the atrocities both sides, of any war, are willing to commit. Make no mistake, the blood runs freely in Mockingjay. Even the characters that are spared remain forever altered by the experience. The book has a lot of action and many characters die making it impossible to put down but difficult to read at times.
I've heard a few complaints about Katniss in this book but I thought her character was written perfectly. I got frustrated with her at times, but her actions are consistent and understandable in the face of all the ruthless brutality she encounters. The other characters, both from the first two books, and the new ones introduced in this installment, added a lot of interest to the story. I enjoyed seeing how their stories all played out, even if I was upset about some of their fates. I particularly loved getting a different perspective on Finnick and Prim; I just fell in love with both of them in this book.
The Bottom Line: This was a great ending to a unique and amazing series! Even though Mockingjay was extremely bloody and depressingly sad it was a magnificent ending to the series. I think fans will love it! If you have not yet read the Hunger Games trilogy, it is truly one of the best for both teens and adults, so give it a try!
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Author: James Dashner
Location: YA Dashner
Age: Young Adult
Thomas, with no memories of anything, is delivered to a controlled guarded place called the Glade. The only residents are teenage boys. Everyday these boys are trying to stay alive, with the supplies given weekly, as they attempt to solve the massive maze. Thomas soon becomes a runner for the maze and things start happening - including a mysterious girl being delivered with a message that she's triggered the "end".
Bottomline: This was an excellent story that kept me on edge! It has a slow start as Thomas tries to get his bearings, and figures out who is friend or foe. But, once the climax started, I couldn't put it down! I'm anxious to read the sequel because the book definitely leaves you hanging!
Here is the book trailer:
Friday, August 20, 2010
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA MEYER
In this short story, we are given a closer look into the brief life of Bree Tanner and the events surrounding the creation of the vampire army from Eclipse. Stephanie Meyer fleshes out the characters of the vampire army, including Bree Tanner. This story opens up with Riley creating his vampire army of newborns and concludes with the aftermath of the battle between the Cullens and Victoria.
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is a quick, enjoyable read. The tone and rhythm of the text is similar to the Twilight series. My main issue is that there was no break in the text. It was difficult to be able to find a place to stop for a break.
The Bottom Line: This is a nice supplement to Eclipse. If you enjoy Stephenie Meyer's writing style and are looking for a more in depth look into the world of Twilight, then I would definitely check it out from the library.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Based loosely on the characters in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, The Fool’s Girl has an entertaining storyline that unfortunately, starts to really drag in the middle of the book. I wanted to love this book because I am a huge fan of Shakespeare, but the character development and the plot did not live up to the suspense and romance that the interesting concept promised. Unfortunately, the action in the book stalls after Violetta narrates her background story to Will Shakespeare. Violetta’s background is richly detailed and entirely gripping. However, after that point, Rees creates the majority of the remaining suspense in the storyline by having Violetta get repeatedly abducted and rescued at random points throughout the rest of the book.
Since the novel lacks in the action department, I expected some serious character development while the rest of the story played out. However, Rees only comes on the verge of truly fleshing out her characters, particularly Violetta. The book is narrated by a few different characters including Feste, Will Shakespeare, and Violetta. I felt that the book, and the character of Violetta herself would have been much better had Violetta had more of a narrative voice. Even though she had all the makings of a memorable heroine, strong and passionate, I never truly connected to her. This made the romance between Violetta and Stephano seem stale and contrived. The scenes with the two of them lacked any spark or passion. Once the suspense let up in the middle, Violetta’s seemingly hollow actions, and her half-hearted romance with Stephano made the rest of the story a chore to finish.
I will say that it is obvious Rees spent a lot of time researching Elizabethan England. She expertly details the city of London, its cultural and political atmosphere as well as a few of the historical figures of the time period. She also thoroughly describes the fictional city of Illyria to such an extent that the reader can easily immerse themselves in this picturesque country by the sea.
The Bottom Line: I was definitely not a big fan of this book. It has its strong points, but I never really connected to the characters and the story fell flat for me in the middle. If you enjoyed Celia Rees’ previous books, you may really like The Fool’s Girl, so I would suggest giving it a chance. If you like Shakespeare, definitely give it a try, but I would suggest checking it out from the library.
The publisher of this book sent me an advance readers copy for this review. The Fool's Girl will be released in the U.S. on July 20, 2010.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Title: This World We Live In
Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Pfeffer, S.
*Sometimes called The Last Survivors Trilogy, this title follows the events of the companion novels Life As We Knew It and The Dead and the Gone. If you have not read these novels, please stop reading as there are spoilers in this review.
It's been a year since a meteor hit the moon causing the Earth and it's inhabitants to struggle to survive a global catastrophe, massive starvation, floods, tornadoes, climate change, and disasters unimaginable. In this novel, Miranda and her family from Life As We Knew It continue to live as best they can, rationing supplies, scavenging abandoned houses for the things we all take for granted. In a twist of fate, Alex Morales and his sister Julie from The Dead and the Gone become a part of Miranda's life.
This World We Live In Susan Beth Pfeffer Book Trailer - Funny bloopers are a click away
The Bottom Line: While we got to know the characters very well in the first two novels, this addition completes what I feel is an authentic and moving series of books with characters that are unforgettable.
Author: Libba Bray
Location: YA Bray
All 16-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school—and life in general—with a minimum of effort. It’s not a lot to ask. But that’s before he’s given some bad news: he’s sick and he’s going to die. Which totally sucks. Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure—if he’s willing to go in search of it. With the help of a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf and a yard gnome, Cam sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America into the heart of what matters most.
Bottomline: This was an interesting read - a bit of adventure, a bit of fantasy, and a bit of "is this real or is it a dream?". He definitely comes across some interesting things on his road-trip, including: a talking gnome, a cult obsessed with being happy, snowglobes, spring break Party houses, etc etc. I wasn't really liking the story at the beginning, but it pulled me in and I really wanted to know if Cameron would achieve his "quest".
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Author: Maryrose Wood
Location: J Wood M.
Have you ever watched someone's children who acted like animals? Well Penelope Lumley's charges really do. After being told she is old enough to leave Swansburne Academy for Poor Bright Females Penelope starts her first job (at 15) as a governess. She soon learns the three children were found living in the woods and act like wolves. Not only must she teach them how to dress and speak instead of bark, she must also have them ready to dance and socialize at Lady Constance's first Christmas party . Odd things happen. It seems someone is trying to lure the children into behaving in a way that would send Lady Constance running. Who is trying to sabotage Penelope's efforts with the children? Will she be fired before she can find out and will the children survive without her protection? It is clear Lady Constance has no clue about children and does not wish to form a relationship with them. Lord Ashton is away at his club quite frequently or hunting. (He and Mr. Aldo are the ones who found the children.) Although he does not attend the Christmas party he invites several of his hunting friends from the club. It is unclear exactly what he has been saying about the children to them. There are a few other characters who seem questionable and a few household staff who are Penelope's allies.
Bottom Line: I thought this was an enjoyable read and will pick up the next book to find out more answers to the background of the children and Penelope. I also want to learn if my hunches about who is causing trouble are correct. The book is set in a time when carriages are used, but don't let that turn you off. The language isn't old fashioned or hard to understand. There are just enough possible clues and new questions to keep me reading and the story moving along. You may think you have some of the answers! I felt for Penelope and shared her compassion for the children, who are really sweet kids. I too was trying to figure out the answers to the many questions that arise around the party.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Author: Richelle Mead
Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Mead
This review may discuss some major plot points from the four previous Vampire Academy books. If you have not yet read Vampire Academy, Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, and Blood Promise, jump ahead to The Bottom Line.
Since Spirit Bound is the fifth book in this six book series, I don’t want to say too much about it for fear of accidently giving something away. After returning from Russia, Rose comes back to the academy to take her final test to become a guardian. With Lissa’s help, Rose is still committed to finding a way to restore Dimitri’s soul, but she needs the help of dangerous Moroi prisoner Victor Dashkov, to accomplish this goal. Will Rose find a way to change Dimitri or will he strike at her first?
Although the main focus of the book seems to be on Rose’s quest to try and change Dimitri back from an evil Strigoi to his original state as a Dhampir guardian, Richelle Mead has a few other plot threads forming or coming to a conclusion in this novel. I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of plot threads that were resolved in this book even as frustrating new storylines opened up for, what should be, a truly exhilarating finish to the series in the next book. I continue to be impressed by Mead’s writing as she does an amazing job juggling her multiple plot threads while also deepening her characters in a way that is consistent with their personalities. I have never been a huge fan of Lissa or Adrian but I have a deeper appreciation for both, particularly Lissa, after reading this novel. She finally evolves into the loyal friend that Rose deserves, instead of just existing as the best friend that Rose must protect.
For the Dimitri lovers out there, he does make an appearance in this book and the scenes with him are equal parts captivating and heartbreaking. All I will say is that I love how Mead handles Dimitri’s character in this book. She writes him perfectly and consistently in this installment, even though it is upsetting at times to witness the changes in him.
The Bottom Line: I am obviously a huge fan of this series. I think it is the best fantasy/vampire series out there for teens and adults. In this 5th book, Richelle Mead closes off some plot threads and creates some crazy new ones to carry over to the final book in the series. So read Spirit Bound, start forming your conspiracy theories and get ready for the final installment, Last Sacrifice due out on December 7, 2010.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Author: Heather Swain
Location: Available soon
Zephyr is an elf who starts at an erdler, or human, high school. She desperately wants to fit in, but doesn't always understand the lingo that the other students use. She quickly makes friends and starts to get involved, including signing up for a tv commercial audition. But, she makes an enemy of the most popular girl at the school, Bella, and drama starts ensuing, including a new love interest.
Bottomline: I didn't enjoy this as much as I thought I would, but it was a cute story. I got a little frustrated with Zephyr and her antics, but then I realized how old she was. It was a cute high-school, romance, story with a twist of fantasy. I did like how it all turned out, so I was happy in the end!
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Saturday, May 15, 2010
This review discusses the plots of the first two books in the Darkest Powers series. If you have not yet read The Summoning and The Awakening, skip to The Bottom Line.
The Reckoning begins right where the last book left off. Chloe, Derek, Simon, and Tori have once again escaped the clutches of The Edison Group, this time with a little help from Andrew, an old friend of Derek and Simon’s dad. Andrew is also a supernatural, though not a genetically altered one, so he brings the group to his mansion in the middle of nowhere and introduces them to his supernatural friends. Even though Chloe and her friends are happy to be finally safe, the creepy, old mansion holds even more terrifying secrets about the Edison Group’s past experiments and the horrific failures that resulted. Why has Andrew brought them to a place with such a bad history? Can Andrew and his friends really be trusted?
I can’t say too much about the plot of this book without giving a lot away. Even though the writing is still great for this series, this book definitely moved more slowly than the first two. Armstrong tries to keep the plot moving, but much of the action that takes place in the first half is minor and fails to build on the suspense that carried over from The Awakening. The book does start to pick up around the middle and it really explodes in the last quarter. Armstrong does a wonderful job of deepening a few of the main characters in this last book, particularly Chloe, Derek and Tori. The reader gets a little more insight into Tori’s motivations and loyalties. Plus, Chloe finally figures out which boy she prefers, which I think will be a surprise to no one. As a whole, I really enjoyed this book. Even with the dragging plot in the beginning, I liked the way Armstrong developed her characters. The ending is fantastic and action-packed. This was a great ending to the series and I think fans of the books will definitely enjoy it.
The Bottom Line: The Reckoning was a great ending to the series even though it did lack some of the excitement present in previous books. The characters are a little deeper and the ending is utterly thrilling. With this last book, Armstong ties up the story nicely while leaving a few threads dangling presumably for her next young adult series.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Author: Christina Meldrum
Monday, May 3, 2010
Author: Sarwat Chadda
Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Chadda
Billi Sangreal longs for a normal teenage life of dating, friendship and even homework. But Billi is the only female member of the Knights Templar so her days normally involve dismembering ghuls (the undead/vampires), exorcising demons and nursing the frequent injuries that come with it. She’s tired of the constant responsibility of fighting creatures that no one knows exists and dealing with the demands of her father, the head of the Templars. Then she meets Mike. He’s totally hot and seems to understand the stress of all Billi's responsibilities and her issues with her controlling, emotionally absent dad. Mike is perfect, but is he too good to be true? Or does Billi have feelings for Kay, her childhood best friend and the Templars new oracle? Nothing in Billi’s life comes easy and with a new threat surfacing from the Grigori (fallen angels) is Mike the wrong guy to trust?
I was not even going to pick up this book at first. I thought it would be like every other paranormal fantasy romance all wrapped up in a neat little package. Boy, was I wrong about this title! Billi is a great character, a tough girl who just wants to be a girl, instead of fighting for her life every other night. Disappointingly, the other characters are rather stock but that didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the story. Billi’s father and Kay, do have fleeting moments of depth but the reader really does not get much insight on their feelings and motivations. This was really my only complaint with this title as I would have loved to learn more about Kay. Aside from the lack of characterization, I loved the plot and the heart-pounding action sequences it produced. With this book, Chadda creates a truly unique fantasy tale by interweaving Templar myth with religious tales, like that of the Grigori and the angels. He allows the romance to take a backseat to the action which fit with Billi’s character and the demands of her life. In all, this was a great book with a compelling main character and an original, fantasy storyline.
The Bottom Line: If you are tired of the typical fantasy plot recycled in numerous YA books out right now, try Devil’s Kiss. The story is wholly original with plenty of action to keep both male and female readers interested. Plus, the vampires are *gasp* actually evil! If you give it a shot, I guarantee you won’t regret it. I didn’t :)
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Author: Vivian French
Location: J French
Bag of Bones is the second book in the Tales from the Five Kingdoms series and it's another good story. I felt readers would need to read the first book Robe of Skulls to really know what is going on in this one since there really isn't any explanation for why things are the way they are or background on the characters. Something is brewing in this story. Deep magic isn't practiced in the Five Kingdoms, but a witch gets in that does try to practice deep magic. I say try because her spells don't always work the way she wants. Of course, this can only be trouble as the crones' loom begins to stain. There is a ball planned where Queen Bluebell is to announce her successor. The only problem is her only child ran away years ago.
Gracie,Gubble,Prince Marcus, Marlon and his nephew Alf are all part of the action again. I do wish Marlon had more lines. He was so funny in the first book, but has a smaller part in this second one. There are a few new characters which include an orphan named Loobly and some rats. Some of the rats are kind of funny. Once again it is very clear who the good and bad characters are. The deep magic witch will have you routing for the good guys even more than Lady Lamora did.
Bottom Line: Bag of Bones , the second of the Tales from the Five Kingdoms series,is another good read with likable characters you'll cheer for and characters you'll love to despise. It's humorous and has a twist on a classic fairy tale with a prince who would never fit into the Disney realm. I recommend it to both boys and girls. Even children who aren't reading chapter books yet can enjoy this story if it's read aloud.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Author: Lauren Kate
Location: YA Kate
There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori. Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move. Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce–and goes out of his way to make that very clear–she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.
This book was well written, and the story was so mysterious that I couldn't predict what would happen next. I want to say more about the story, but it was slowly revealed and I don't want to ruin it for you! Enjoy!
Bottom Line: This book somewhat reminded me of Twilight with the idea of star-crossed lovers - but the premise and characters are different enough that it was another engaging story. I look forward to the sequel, just because there is much left to be resolved!
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Tohru Honda is an orphaned 16 year old high school student. She has had a hard life, but doesn't let it get her down. Due to various circumstances, she ends up living with her classmate Yuki Sohma and his two cousins, Kyo and Shigure. What she doesn't realize is that the Sohmas have a secret... when they are distressed or hugged by a person of the opposite sex, they transform into one of the animals of the Chinese zodiac!
It is not difficult to understand why Fruits Basket is so popular. Natsuki Takaya has created a believable fantasy world full of vibrant characters. As you follow Tohru through her interactions with the Sohma family, it feels like you are growing with them and sharing in their adventures. Everything is not so sweet in this fairy tale. There is a dark side to this tale that shows how there are many layers to life. It also shows you how resilient people can be and how to overcome pain and obstacles in life. You can go from laughing out loud on one page to running for a box of kleenex to dry your tears on the next.
The artwork is fun and very emotional. Even with a few panels, Takaya makes the emotions fly off the page. I also enjoy the backgrounds of each panel. You could easily miss something if you read too quickly. My only wish is that all of the pages would be in vibrant color, although it is not needed with Takaya's style.
Natsuki Takaya received a Kodansha Manga Award for shojo manga in 2001 for Fruits Basket. More recently, she was nominated in The Female Cartoonists and Comic Book Writer's Hall of Fame category in the 2009 Lulu Awards.
Bottom Line: A great story with beautiful artwork. Once you start reading you won't want to stop. Even if you are not a reader of manga or graphic novels, you will enjoy this series. A must read for teens and adults alike.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Author: Stephenie Meyer, Young Kim (Illustrator)
Location: (Available Soon)
When Isabella Swan moves to the gloomy town of Forks and meets the mysterious, alluring Edward Cullen, her life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. With his porcelain skin, golden eyes, mesmerizing voice, and supernatural gifts, Edward is both irresistible and impenetrable. Up until now, he has managed to keep his true identity hidden, but Bella is determined to uncover his dark secret...
This was well done. I enjoyed the manga style of illustrations and it was neat seeing a different portrayal of the characters, as opposed to the movie. The illustrations are mostly in black and white, and color is used to convey emotion - especially his eye colors.
Bottom Line: I enjoyed this graphic novel, and I enjoyed the movie - but they are definitely different in portraying the characters - in their looks and personalities. If you're a Twilight fan (and especially a manga fan), then this is a must-read!
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Author: Sid Fleischman
Location: YA Fleischman S.
The Bottom Line: The novel is an easy read with young adult themes dealing with the brutality of the war, death, and revenge. The story is filled with the humor of people who are familiar with oppression. The author ties in the reality of the annihilation of Jewish Children to a well-crafted tale of love, family and redemption.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Author: Lynne Jonell
Reading Level: Juvenile
Location: J Jonell J.
Christina Adnoid has lived a sheltered life because her father has felt the need to protect his little girl since her mother died in a laboratory explosion. Christina is lonely and becoming restless when she meets Taft, a "Happy Orphan", from the Loompski Orphanage through the fence that keeps her safe from the rest of the world. Suddenly she is thrust into an adventure which involves the magical properties of zoomstone, zoom for short, and where she has to make difficult decisions in the midst of terrible danger. If she doesn't succeed, she will lose everything and everyone she loves to the threat.
The Bottom Line: This is an imaginative and exciting tale filled with action and fantastic events. Read it if you love adventure and fantasy.
Friday, March 5, 2010
Author: Malinda Lo
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Lo
This book opens in a fairy-tale world of mythical beings, magic and evil stepmothers. Ash, still grieving the recent death of her beloved mother, is dumbfounded when her father returns from a long trip with a new wife and daughters in tow. Shortly after, Ash is left alone in the world, except for the evil stepmother and stepsisters. They initially treat her like family, but after a not-so-stunning revelation, Ash is relegated to a role as housekeeper and cook. So begins this tale which just seems like another remake of the, often used but never really interesting, Cinderella story. But don’t give up on it yet! This story is dark and completely beautiful which is exponentially better than any fairy-tale remake or rehash that I have read in a long time. Ash does meet a prince named Sidhean who is a fairy that knew her mother. She also befriends the king’s huntress Kaisa. Both of these two characters show her the kindness she is denied by her stepfamily. It is her developing relationship with both characters that help define this book and set it apart from so many others in this genre. Of course, the question in the end is still, how will she have a happily-ever-after? But I think for this book the real question becomes, with whom will Ash have her happily-ever-after?
The author really does a wonderful job with this story. The book is not long and the author uses every well-placed phrase to further develop her characters and their relationships with each other. The author makes a real effort to bring layers to all her characters and meaning to their actions, whether good or bad. Some characters do still fall flat, despite these efforts. However, the three main characters while not as complex as I would like, still shine bright in this creative re-telling of an all too familiar tale.
The Bottom Line: It sounds like the same old fairy tale, but Ash is a quick, romance with great characters and a unique storyline. Read it if you enjoy a more untraditional happily ever after.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Friday, February 5, 2010
Ethan Wate lives in a small, old southern town in South Carolina where nothing much happens and everything is always the same. As a member of one of the older families in town, he is treated well, gets decent grades and is quickly becoming one of the stars on the basketball team. However, since the death of his mother, none of this matters. He can’t wait to leave Gatlin and its antiquated ways behind. That was before he met Lena Duchannes. As the niece of the town recluse, Lena is anything but welcome in Gatlin. Although Ethan knows he should avoid befriending this social pariah, he can’t seem to leave her alone. It doesn’t help that she was making appearances in his dreams long before they ever met. As Ethan gets closer to Lena, he learns her haunting family history, and the reason she dreads her upcoming 16th birthday. Lena’s very being depends on them learning the secrets of an old artifact which played a central role in the beginning and horrific end of a love story that would forever alter generations of Lena’s family.
It took me awhile to write this review because I loved the book so much. The authors do a wonderful job of realistically portraying the small, southern town of Gatlin. They expertly describe the scenery, sounds and people of this place so much so that the reader feels like everything in the book could possibly exist. I enjoyed Ethan as the narrator throughout the book. Many fantasy novels, especially ones that include love stories, have female narrators, so I though Ethan was a nice change of pace. The love story between Ethan and Lena develops very well, but I never felt as though it was the main focus of the plot. In my personal opinion, the real driving force for the plot lies in Lena, her intriguing family members (like creepy Uncle Macon and Boo) and their history. They kept the book moving for me and the relationship between Ethan and Lena was more of a pleasant side effect. I wish it would have wrapped up a little better, but it does not leave you with a cliffhanger. I don’t want to give anything away, but Beautiful Creatures was a wonderfully crafted story with interesting characters and the perfect setting. Don’t miss it!
The Bottom Line: It’s obvious that I loved this one! It is not my favorite of 2009, but it is certainly up there. Read it for the hauntingly, mysterious storyline and the realistic, not-too-sweet love story. This is the first in a planned 5 book series. I assume the next will be released around December 2010.