Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Carrier of the Mark



Title: Carrier of the Mark
Author: Leigh Fallon
Level: 12 and up
Location: YA Fallon

Within the first couple chapters of Carrier of the Mark I was apprehensive about continuing. It seemed to be following what I call the Twilight formula (Wait! Read the explanation before you decide not to read the book.) A girl moves to new place with her father, no mother in picture. The first day of school there’s a great looking guy that she is attracted to, but he acts weirdly towards her. Her new BFF and her associates warn her not to bother. There are rumors about his family. Then she meets his sister who seems to like her. He saves her when there is an accident. Sounds too familiar, but that is where this book continues on a different course. In Carrier of the Mark the mark has nothing to do with vampires or werewolves. Instead Megan, Adam DeRis and his siblings are marked as vessels for the four elements; originally created by the goddess Danu, who managed the elements keeping them aligned to maintain a perfect balance. Now that Megan, the fourth element, is present they must fulfill their true purpose. They have a protector, provided by an ancient order, The Order of the Mark, and a group called the Knox, who wants to take their powers for their own use. Megan has to learn how to call on her element and control it in time for the alignment that can only take place during the summer solstice, all without being found by the Knox. Oh, and she must figure out a way she and Adam can be together with fullfilling the 5th prophecy.

Bottom Line: Once I was past the similarities to the beginning of Twilight I found Carrier of the Mark to be interesting. The premise of a Celtic goddess who created humans to give her abilities to, a secret sect, the history of the marked ones and the Knox who are after them will keep you reading even if you aren’t into the romance between the teens.

Spy spy again true tales of failed espionage

Title: Spy Spy again true tales of failed espionage
Author: Tina Holdcraft
Level: 9-14
Location: J 327.12 HOL 2011

This colorful book is mix of comic type drawings and text with enough interesting stories and facts to keep reader’s engaged. You might not even realize you learned some history too. It covers ancient civilizations through 1985 and includes Greenpeace, Russian submarines, captured spies, and just plain bad plans. Of course spies sometimes have short lives so deaths are also mentioned, but nothing is graphic. The how hard can it be chapter is one parents may want to preview for younger readers as it mentions Mata Hari and describes how she was able to attract people to try and learn their secrets. There aren’t any details, but there may be a few questions after reading it.

Bottom Line: This book will appeal to anyone interested in spies. With colorful panels and short stretches of text it’s perfect for a browsing or reluctant reader looking for short interesting stories as well. It’s written with a slant towards boys, but girls can enjoy it also, I did. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself wanting to share the remarkable stories with others.

The Unwanteds

Title: The Unwanteds
Author: Lisa McMann
Level: 8-12
Location: J McMann L.

The Kirkus Reviews blurb on the cover of The Unwanteds is,” The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter.” I would say it’s mostly Harry Potter as the leader of the country creates a dystopian world, but outside of their country the rest of the world is still functioning the same as always. In Quill thirteen year olds attend the annual Purge where the high priest Justine classifies them as wanteds, who attend university, necessaries who become the laborers, or unwanteds, who are shackled and put on a waiting bus for the ride to their deaths. The unwanteds are shocked when upon reaching the Death Farm and being turned over to the eliminators the entire area changes. They are welcomed to Artime by Mr. Today, an amazing wizard, who tells them they were unwanted because they are creative and imaginative which someone reported to the government when they displayed it. The government finds creative thinkers to be a weakness. In Artime the unwanteds have a chance to nurture and develop their creative skills as they also learn to fight with magic. They all know if they are ever discovered Quill will do it’s best to kill them so they can never contact their families. But what if you had a twin who made it through the Purge and was still in Quill? What would you do?

I thought The Unwanteds was a thoroughly imaginative story with characters that grew as the story progressed. I couldn’t help but feel for the teens as they tried to get past the betrayals that brought them to Artime and those that occur later. The family relationships will make you wince and silently cheer. Mr. Today was superb. He is the kind of teacher and leader we would all like to have in our lives. The magic is amazing.

Bottom Line: The Unwanteds has more magic than you can wave a wand at. You may wish you could perform some of the fantastic imaginative spells. Mr. Today is perfect as the wizard who gently leads the thirteen year olds on their journey of learning their creative crafts and reconciling their feelings for the families who let them go so easily. Join the world of Artime with the teens who thought they were going to their death and instead found a creative paradise. The Unwanteds will keep you enchanted.



Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Book Review: Beautiful Chaos


Title: Beautiful Chaos
Authors: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Garcia

Spoiler Warning: Beautiful Chaos is the 3rd book in the Caster Chronicles. If you have not yet read Beautiful Creatures and Beautiful Darkness, skip ahead to The Bottom Line. This review has spoilers for the first two books.

If you thought Lena claiming herself in Beautiful Darkness was an end to all Ethan and Lena’s troubles, you were completely wrong. Lena’s claiming has left the town of Gatlin on the verge of a full-scale apocalypse, sweltering heat waves, massive earthquakes and ravenous locusts are just a few of the things bent on destroying Gatlin. If that isn’t enough, Ethan is losing memories – parts of his life are simply vanishing from his mind – including the taste of Amma’s cooking. However, when the world is falling apart this time, Amma, Macon and the rest of Lena’s caster family is powerless to stop it. The caster’s abilities are backfiring and Amma is delving into magic darker than any before. Will Ethan, Lena and their friends figure out a way to put a stop to this chaos before it’s too late?

Wow, this was an amazing book! I enjoyed the 2nd book in the series but it did not entirely live up to my expectations. However, Beautiful Chaos, was a home run in every way. I was pretty annoyed with Lena after the last book. In this book, Lena is starting to develop a little more as a character and you understand her past actions much better by the end. You also get some absolutely fascinating glimpses into Seraphine’s past before she was dark caster and right after she was claimed.

Ethan is experiencing a multitude of problems in this book which lends the story its darker tone. The events of the last two books coupled with the plethora of problems he faces in this book help him to develop into a more complete character while simultaneously giving him a bleaker outlook on his situation. Through Ethan’s narration, you really sense the foreboding atmosphere descending on the once-peaceful town of Gatlin. Everything seems to be swirling hopelessly out of control and the stunning cliffhanger ending does nothing to relieve the tension. Have some tissues handy, you will need them! Now that my faith in this series is restored, I am happily looking forward to returning to Gatlin for the fourth and final book. It should be amazing!

The Bottom Line: If you enjoyed the first two books in the Caster Chronicles you will LOVE this one! All of the problems from previous books are nothing compared to the absolute chaos that descends on the people and town in this book. The cliffhanger ending is a little hard to take, but it makes sense for the larger story. Fans will ravenously devour this one and be waiting on pins and needles for the final book due out in 2012.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Legend

Title: Legend
Author: Marie Lu
Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Lu


In the future the Republic of America, once known as the western United States of America, is at war with the eastern colonies. The plague is a constant threat, especially if you can’t afford a vaccine. Ten year olds report to a guarded stadium for The Trial, which decides if one gets to go to college and which one, or even high school. Others will be sent to factory jobs and those that fail are sent to labor camps never to be seen again.

Day is considered a criminal and the number one enemy of the Republic. His fingerprints don’t show up in any government records. He’s trying to hurt the Republic and help his family survive. He’s tough, resourceful, observant, and skeptical. He makes bombs, but doesn’t kill people or try to hurt them unnecessarily. He can emphasize and sympathize with others. He seems to be the complete package, combining the good traits of both Peeta and Gail from Hunger Games. He’s more up front than Four in Divergent.

June lives a privileged life with her brother, the only family she has, and attends the top college where at age fifteen she is in her final year. She has a problem following rules, but is totally committed to the Republic. She seems a little gullible at first, but that might be the circumstances of grief. She comes off as a bit of a brat at first, but she starts growing and changing early on in the story. She has the physical abilities of both Katniss (Hunger Games) and Triss (Divergent) plus some. She’s better at faking than Katniss and can figure out when she has been played in time to do something about it.

Both of these characters try to avenge a loved one’s death. Both are very intelligent. Imagine what might happen if they shared information and started connecting the dots when things don’t make sense.

Legend has plenty of action, a change to try to figure things out, suspense, and a bit of romance. A fan of Hunger Games or Divergent here’s a book for you! I really liked the use of a different font and color for the two characters. It made it easy to switch back and forth between the two narratives. The end of the story is a slight disappointment as it could be the end of the story, which isn’t a great ending, actually a fizzle after all the suspense, but it is also written in a way that leaves an opening for more. After all, can they really let the Republic get away with what they know it is doing now.


Bottom Line: Liked it, liked it, liked it! I’ve already recommended the book to three people while writing this review. By the second time I picked it up I didn’t want to put it down until I finished. Legend is a fast read dystopian full of action in what may be a series or trilogy. It has a strong likeable male character, Day, and a strong female character, June, who will grow on you as she grows through the book. Nothing is ever as it seems in a dystopian world and once these two stop fighting each other they uncover the Republic’s secrets and cover ups. Guys will like this one. For fans of Hunger Games and Divergent this is a must read (Unless you hated Mockingjay).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cinder

Title: Cinder
Author: Marissa Meyer
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Meyer (released January 3, 2012)

In this inventive, futuristic retelling of Cinderella, Cinder works as the top mechanic in New Beijing. As a cyborg, part human and part machine, she attempts to keep a low profile, hiding her abnormalities from the rest of the population to avoid being ostracized. Unfortunately, Cinder catches the eye of the sexy Prince Kai who is struggling with the pestilence spreading through New Beijing as well as the unwanted attentions of the ambitious and ruthless Lunar queen. A marriage alliance with Luna would mean the total takeover of New Beijing but what happens when the Prince unwittingly falls in love with Cinder, the cyborg with a mysterious past? It seems that war with Luna is brewing and Cinder may be involved in more ways than one.

There is a lot to love about this book so we’ll start with the good things. The story is incredibly unique and avoids the pitfalls of sticking zealously to every aspect of the classic Cinderella tale. Cinder is a wonderfully realistic character.  She is tough and confident, but has insecurities and flaws which hold her back at times. In other words, she is not perfect but it is her imperfections that make her genuine. She still has a lot to learn about herself and the world around her which should make for some interesting, future books. The supporting characters also show some depth, particularly Prince Kai and the doctor.

Now for the bad stuff, I really had only one legitimate complaint for Cinder and it is that the descriptions, particularly in the beginning of the book, are horribly lacking. This book takes place in New Beijing (what was once China) and yet none of the characters are described as having any features that one would associate with Asian people today. With the disturbing lack of diversity in young adult literature, I felt this was a wasted opportunity. This lack of descriptive information holds true for the droids (robots that serve humans) and overall setting as well. Considering this is a futuristic novel with a cyborg as the main character, I definitely expected more details than what was provided 150 pages into the book. Of all the books I have read, this is the first time I have ever had this complaint so I tend to think it valid for this title.

This one issue aside, I definitely enjoyed Cinder. It kept me reading ravenously to the early morning hours to see how it would all end and yelling in exasperation when I realized that it was the first in a series.  I have a feeling Cinder will have to work hard to get to her happily ever after, no magical fairy godmothers here! I, for one, am looking forward to the ride.

The Bottom Line: Cinder is an imaginative, futuristic spin on the classic Cinderella story that wisely avoids the pitfalls of sticking too close to the original material.  The likeable main character is both strong and vulnerable. I have a feeling readers will be happy to cheer for her through the upcoming books in this series. Fans of dystopia and fantasy should definitely find something to like here although I think it will appeal more to girls.

The publisher provided me with an Advanced Readers Copy for this review. Cinder will be released on January 3, 2012

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nicholas St. North and the battle of the nightmare king



Title: Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King Book 1 of The Guardians series
Author: William Joyce
Location: J Joyce W.
Level: 7-10 years old

This is the first book in The Guardian series and quite a good start. Nicholas St. North captured me and even after reading the last page I was still in its grasp. It is a well written, imaginative, adventure that is almost a prequel to Santa Claus. This is not a Christmas story and there is no mention of the jolly fellow. Instead it is a story of Omberic, the wizard who protects the town of Santa Claussen, and the man in the moon finding someone who can help them defeat Pitch, the nightmare king And no this book is not likely to give you nightmares. I haven’t read a book like this since The Tale of Desperaux. If your child isn’t reading at the level of this book read it to him/her. You will be creating a childhood memory.

Bottom Line:
I loved it! Imaginative and adventurous. Slightly scary in a what’s going to happen way. Nicholas St. North is not jolly or caring at all, but with the help of Omberic and a little girl he begins to transform into a different person. Who knew Santa had such a colorful past!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fateful

Title: Fateful
Author: Claudia Gray

Level: Young Adult

Location: YA Gray C.

Fateful is the story of Tess Davies, a ladies maid who will accompany her family on a voyage to the United States. She has been saving every cent so she can leave the troubled family and stay in the states when the ship makes port. The ship is the Titanic. Think you know this story?

The night before the ship sails Tess is sent on an errand in the dark. A stranger grabs her and saves her from a wolf. Then he tells her to get away from him as fast as she can. Both the wolf and the stranger are on the Titanic. The rich have many secrets.

The attitudes and secrets of the Lisle family are believable, as is the treatment of foreigners. The American rich treating the serving class of Europe well felt like a stretch to me. If you are willing to overlook this there are love stories to discover. Tess falls hard for her love even while she is questioning his intentions and putting herself in life risking situations for him. Mikhail, the Russian, drips evil. His malice is felt even before he is seen. And the stranger who saved her? He is tormented by his own secrets.


Bottom Line: Fateful is a new take on the Titanic. Of course there is a love story, but this one has more than class differences and a sinking ship to overcome. In this story werewolves are on board. I loved the ending; such a dramatic twist!

Vordak the Incomprehensible How to Grow Up and Rule the World





Title: Vordak the Incomprehensible How to Grow Up and Rule the World

Author: Scott Seeger

Level: 8-12 years old

Location: J Seeger S.


Vordak the Incomprehensible has written a guide to ruling the world. Who better to write it than the villain with the biggest ego. Vordak will guide you through all aspects from choosing a villain name, costume and lair to information about superheroes and how to issue an ultimatum. He really wants you to succeed (So he can be the second in command and take your spot if something should happen to you.). You’ll be thankful he went through the trouble of torturing interviewing seventeen illustrators before choosing John Martin. John’s drawings, which are plentiful, really help illustrate Vordak’s instructions and add to the humor. If you enjoy this book, and what person with a brain wouldn’t, look for How to Rule the School on library shelves now.

Bottom Line: Funny! I laughed out loud while reading How to Rule the World. Anyone who likes absurd humor will want to read this book, especially third and fourth grade boys. Plus there are plenty of drawings. Some take up almost an entire page! (Hint if you have a book report and the book has to be a certain number of pages.) I’ll be looking for How to Rule the School to find out what diabolical evil Vordak is planning now.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Past Perfect

Title: Past Perfect
Author: Leila Sales
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Sales

Newly single and heartbroken, Chelsea is about to start her perpetual summer job as a reenactment actor at Essex, a colonial village. Coming back to Essex for the summer unfortunately guarantees a hot, itchy costume and endless, ignorant questions from summer visitors but it also ensures that she gets to work with best friend, Fiona, and won’t end up running into the ex-boyfriend, Ezra. However, Chelsea gets a big surprise on the first day when Ezra shows up working at Essex as well. As if things could not get any worse, Chelsea finds herself falling for a cute guy who works over at the Civil War reenactment park across the street, currently at war with the Essex crowd. With all these complications, Chelsea is in for a life-changing summer she will never forget.


When I started this book, I figured it would be the typical girl-is-heartbroken-but-falls-for-a-better-guy-so-everything-is-perfect type of book. While those books can be a nice escape, the unrealistic situations can get a little annoying. However, this book was much more and really exceeded my expectations in many ways. First off, it takes place in a colonial reenactment village, much like Williamsburg which is so familiar to anyone living in this area. So the setting was unique and led to some fun situations and hilarious asides from Chelsea. Speaking of Chelsea, her narration is absolutely perfect. Her observations of the people and events around her, even when flawed, are accurate to a teen going through her predicament. She is a very real character as are her parents particularly her father, the cynical history buff.

I also loved the war between the two reenactment villages. It added a nice layer to a book that, on surface, is just about a girl dealing with an upsetting break-up. The other characters are relatively stock, but the relationships between the major characters such as Chelsea, her parents, her best friend, and the love interests help to make this book stand out among some with similar themes. I’m not saying that it is incredibly deep, but if you like this genre, Past Perfect is definitely something special.

The Bottom Line: I surprisingly loved Past Perfect. From the colonial reenactment village setting to the main character’s insightful discoveries about the people and relationships in her life, this one is a wonderful addition to the chick-lit genre.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Nest for Celeste


Title: A Nest for Celeste
Author: Henry Cole
Reading Level: Grades 3-5
Location: J Cole
A Nest for Celeste is the charming tale of a little mouse that lives alone under the floorboards of the dining room at the Oakley Plantation near New Orleans. Along the way she is befriended by Joseph, the assistant to John James Audubon and a bird, Lafayette, who helps Celeste find her way home. Celeste is a brave little mouse that survives the constant bullying from 2 rats that also live at the plantation, the watchful eyes of the family pets and a dreadful storm that sweeps her far away from home. The illustrations by Henry Cole, found on almost every page are wonderful and reminiscent of Garth Williams’ illustrations.
The Bottom Line:
I loved this story! I really cared about Celeste and rooted for her at every turn. The illustrations are beautiful and bring the characters alive. This will make an excellent read-aloud for families with children younger than the target audience.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Memory Bank

Title: The Memory Bank
Author: Carolyn Coman, Rob Shepperson (Illustrator)
Reading Level: 8 to 12
Location: J Coman

The Memory Bank is the story of Hope Scroggins, who lives with her beloved sister Honey and the Dursley-esque parents they share. In fact these parents are SO horribly awful that one day, when the sisters disobey the rule against "no laughing", they banish Honey forever, telling Hope that she must simply "forget" her.


Hope knows that she HAS to find her sister again, before her memories of Honey fade. But before she can even begin to look, she's whisked away to the World Wide Memory Bank, where her accounts are in disarray...

There she learns about the process of how dreams and memories are kept safe. She also learns that there's a group of misfits called the Clean Slate Gang who want to destroy the Memory Bank, and all of the dreams and memories kept there. What she doesn't know is that Honey has been picked up by the Clean Slate Gang, and they're heading right for the Memory Bank.

The story of how Hope makes her way through this brewing conflict and rescues her little sister is full of tension and suspense, set in a vividly imagined world of strange machines and wonderful characters.


Bottomline:
I had a love/hate relationship with this book. I loved the main character, Hope, as she searches for her abandoned sister, Hunny, and her adventures in the Memory Bank. I hated the horrible parents who just don't care about their children and abandon Hunny because she was laughing too much? Why are author's writing about these horrible, neglectful, apathetic parents? What's the purpose? Anyway, this book had great illustrations that augmented the story. What I didn't understand was the extra storyline of the misfit children trying to sabotage the Memory Bank with lollipops? And the ending was a bit ambiguous. Anyway, overall it was a cute book!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Red Glove



Title: Red Glove
Author: Holly Black
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Black




After the shocking ending to White Cat, Red Glove picks up where the first book left off. Black doesn’t spend much time rehashing the first book but she makes just enough references to the first story to refresh your memory. Cassel and his mother are spending the summer in Atlantic City running scams. Cassel is trying to keep his mind off Lila until the love curse his mother put on her wears off. He is looking forward to school in the fall until he finds out that Lila has enrolled at the same prep school. If life isn’t complicated enough, just as school is getting started there is a death in Cassel’s family. The Fed’s contact Cassel and ask for his help in solving the murder.
The Bottom Line:
Red Glove is just as smart and thrilling as the first book in the series. There are many twists and turns along the way as Cassel tries to solve this mystery. I anxiously await the third book in the series, Black Heart. While you wait, go to www.thecurseworkers.com and read Lila Zacharov in 13 Pieces, a short story told from Lila’s point of view.

Bloodlines

Title: Bloodlines
Author: Richelle Mead
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Mead (when it comes in)

When alchemist, Sydney, is tasked with the undesirable assignment of watching over Moroi princess Jill Dragomir, she knows that she can make no mistakes if she wants to silence her detractors. She heads to Palm Springs where she, Jill and Jill’s guardian, Eddie, will be enrolled in an exclusive, human private school to hide Jill away from enemies in the Moroi world. Along for the ride is fellow alchemist, Keith, as well as intriguing, Moroi royal, Adrian.

Once in Palm Springs, Sydney begins to settle into a routine, attend classes, get Jill to regular feedings, banter with Adrian and contend with self-absorbed Keith. However, all is not as it seems at the school or with Sydney’s Moroi acquaintances. Some of the students have strange tattoos which are rumored to boost intelligence, mood or athletic ability. Plus, Jill’s unhealthy attachment to Adrian coupled with her problems adjusting to the student dynamic has combined to keep Sydney on her toes. Unfortunately, Sydney has a lot of unanswered questions and no one will give her any information. Whatever action she takes, she needs to do it quickly because her existence in Palm Springs is even more dangerous than she ever imagined.

Alright, I am a huge fan of the Vampire Academy (VA) series so I was excited about this spin-off. I was not a huge fan of Sydney in the VA books but I absolutely loved her in this book! Right from the beginning you are introduced to Sydney’s alchemist world, her family and her upbringing. You begin to understand the reason she is stiff and uncompromising but you also realize that she is smart and passionate about her work. She has become one of my favorite characters and I can’t wait to see how much she is going to change throughout this series. Adrian’s dynamic personality and sarcastic humor were a welcome addition to this book. I am also anticipating great things in the development of his character. A few characters from VA make cameo appearances with one big shocker addition at the end that should make the next book very interesting. Even though this is a starter book that sets up the Bloodlines series, it is still an entertaining, exciting book. I had a few plot twists figured out about midway through but there was quite a surprise near the end.

If you have never read any of the VA books, you should have no problem jumping into this series. Even though some characters carry over, Richelle Mead successfully crafts this as a stand-alone. She adequately explains the dynamics of the Moroi and Strigoi so the average reader will be able to get into this series without having read the VA books.

The Bottom Line: Bloodlines is a wonderful beginning to this VA spinoff series! Sydney is a strong, exciting main character who will carry this series well. If you were a fan of the Vampire Academy books, you should absolutely love this first book. Those who enjoy the paranormal or the paranormal romance genre should definitely give this book a try.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bless This Mouse

Title: Bless This Mouse
Author: Lois Lowry
Location: J Lowry
Reading Level: Grades 2-4

This is the story of Hildegarde, the leader of over 200 church mice that live at Saint Bartholemew’s. Hildegarde keeps busy making sure all the mice are safe and warned of any impending dangers. The annual Blessing of the Animals (including cats) is coming up and Hildegarde has a plan. Unexpectedly a few careless mice are spotted by parishioners, now Hildegarde must plan how the mice are to survive a visit from the Great X. Who will survive?

The Bottom Line
This is a sweet simple story. There are many new vocabulary words that are well defined in the context of the story but may be difficult for the intended audience. The black and white illustrations by Eric Rohmann are adorable. This book will make an excellent family read-aloud.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

White Cat (Curse Workers series, Book 1)

Title: White Cat (Curse Workers series, Book 1)
Author: Holly Black
Location: YA Black

This is the first installment in Holly Black’s Curse Workers series. Curse workers have special powers. They can change your luck, memories, feelings, dreams and more with just a touch. And since curse work is illegal they are all con artists or part of mob families.

Our main character is Cassell Sharpe, a high school student at a private school in the east. Several years ago Cassel killed his best friend, Lila, the daughter of a powerful mob family. The strange thing is, he doesn’t remember why, but he knows he did. Fast forward to the present and Cassel finds himself sleepwalking and he wakes up on the roof of his dorm, an instant You Tube sensation. The school promptly suspends him and he moves back to live in his family home. While at home he encounters a white cat hanging around the barn, the same cat that has recently been showing up in his dreams.

As we meet the other members of Cassell’s family, he tries to explain why he killed his best friend, why he doesn’t remember and why this white cat keeps showing up.

Bottom Line
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I listened to the audio version and found Jesse Eisenberg’s (Social Network) narration to be spot on. Although some books are very clearly aimed at a YA audience, this story deals with themes that all ages can appreciate; family, jealousy, love and mystery. There are twists and turns in the plot that I didn’t expect. I highly recommend that you read White Cat by Holly Black. Check out the first chapter on the author’s web site www.hollyblack.com .

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Abandon

Title: Abandon
Author: Meg Cabot
Location: YA Cabot

Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can't help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she's never alone . . . because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back. But now she's moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid.  Only she can't. Because even here, he finds her. That's how desperately he wants her back. She knows he's no guardian angel, and his dark world isn't exactly heaven, yet she can't stay away... especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.  But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld.

Bottom line:
A modern Hades & Persephone story. This book had a lot of potential, but it didn't quite make the target. I had a hard time following the story (with partial flashbacks everywhere) and then the climax finally happened in the last few pages with a "huh?" cliff-hanger. I admit I'm curious to see where this story goes, but with some hesitation.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Gathering


Title: The Gathering (Darkness Rising, Book 1)
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Armstrong, K.

The Gathering is the first in Armstrong's latest YA trilogy, Darkness Rising. For fans of her first YA trilogy, Darkest Powers, you will find similar themes of seemingly "normal" teens who find they have special powers and how those characters band together to figure out what's happening in their world- not to mention the possibility of medical experimentation.

While I associate Darkest Powers with more paranormal elements and the macabre (after all the main character sees ghosts and the group of characters meet while living in a home for teens with diagnosed mental disorders), The Gathering focuses in on one teen girl's town on Vancouver Island, secluded and controlled by a medical research corporation. Intensive medical check-ups by doctors ranked the best in their field is considered an annoyance to the teens, but a perk to the adults who have relocated their families to this secluded place. Free health care anyone? Folklore from native Canadian tribes and daily interaction with wildlife, in particular cougars, makes Maya's story an interesting read.

Maya has an uncanny ability to work with animals; she helps heal and rehabilitate injured wildlife in a make-shift animal hospital and has run-ins with the cougars who frequent the forests around her home. She feels "different" and has a birthmark resembling a paw print on her hip. When mysterious deaths occur and questions of Maya's birth parents arise, she turns to her closest friends for support. The introduction of Rafe, the newest resident in town, and not exactly a welcomed addition, adds to the mystery and shakes up Maya's daily life. Is this tiny town more than what it seems?

Bottom Line: I can't say that the similarities to all of the recent YA books with teens morphing into other creatures made me want to read this book. I know what you're thinking...vampires, werewolves, what's next? What made me read it is Armstrong's strong writing; the characters are unique, the setting is unspoiled and fresh, and her honest perspective of teens always makes a good YA read. I have to say I'm an Armstrong fan for both her adult and YA books. An interesting note: see if you can find the subtle jabs explaining differences between Canada and America. I had to smile a couple of times and nod my head in agreement.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Zero Gravity - Astronaut Academy

Title: Astronaut Academy zero gravity
Author: Dave Roman
Level: 10-14
Location: graphic novel j astronaut vol.1

Zero Gravity is the first book in a new series of graphic novels that take place in space. This one is older than our other space related graphic novels. The story focuses on the students, who seem to all have crushes on other students, and teachers of the school. The dialog in the book was a bit awkward. It reads almost like it was translated from Japanese, the way people for whom English is a second language might translate literally or phrase words differently. I tried to think of it as being translated and that helped some. Also the story itself did not flow smoothly to me. Each chapter is started by a character introducing him or herself and speaking from his or her view point. Eventually characters are introducing themselves for a second or third time. While there was a story line it felt disjointed. We never find out why Hakita Soy came to astronaut academy and are left guessing about why he is sad. There is some humor. The drawings were good and the black and white panels are easy to follow. So Zero Gravity is alright, but I would rather read the younger space graphic novels Missile Mouse or Zita the Spacegirl. I haven’t ruled out giving the second volume a chance.

Bottom Line: I was looking forward to reading Zero Gravity, the first book in the Astronaut Academy series, which focuses on the students and teachers at the school. I am a bit disappointed due to awkwardness in the dialog and story line. Also with so many graphic novels in color this one is black and white. It is older than other space graphic novels (10-14). I didn’t hate it, but I would much rather read Missile Mouse or Zita the Spacegirl. I’m hoping the second volume will redeem the series for me.

And Then There were Gnomes- Guinea Pig Pet Shop

Title: And Then There were Gnomes- Guinea Pig Pet Shop Private Eye #2
Author: Colleen Venable
Level: K-3
Location: Graphic novel juvenile guinea vol.2

This series takes place in a pet shop with a variety of animals whose cages are mislabeled. Sasspants the guinea pig is a voracious reader, which is probably why that cage has the correct animal label. Hamisher, the hamster wants to be friends with Sasspants and is constantly making up mysteries to be solved so he can be the sidekick. So when a real mystery does need to be solved it takes a bit of convincing for Sasspants to get involved. Will they be able to solve the mystery before all the mice disappear?

Bottom Line: This is a short, humorous, graphic novel for the younger readers who like rodent pets (mice, hamsters, guinea pig and chinchillas) and mysteries. There are plenty of details in the pictures to add to the story and the panels are easy to follow. A rising second grade and fifth grader gave it two thumbs up.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Beauty Queens


Title: Beauty Queens
Author: Libba Bray
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Bray

Printz Award winner Libba Bray, begins her latest novel, Beauty Queens, with the dramatic plane crash of an entire plane full of Miss Teen Dream contestants. Those who survive find themselves on a deserted island with no adults or food and worst of all, no beauty products! Led by Miss Taylor Rene Krystal Hawkins from Texas, the girls focus on staying pageant-ready by practicing their dance routines and relishing all that weight they are losing. But the island is not entirely uninhabited and these Miss Teen Dreamers are in more danger than they ever imagined. As despair and hunger set in, the girls begin to drop their fake personalities and all that competition to band together and survive in style, learning about themselves in the process. Will the Miss Teen Dreamers make it off the island to write a tell-all book about their experiences? Will they fall for some hot, reality-show pirates? Will they break a nail in the process?

I am a huge Libba Bray fan and have adored her other novels, so I was fairly confident I would feel the same about Beauty Queens. From Bray’s snarky humor to the “commercials” for various beauty products like “Lady Stache Off” and reality shows like “Captain Bodacious IV: Badder and More Bodaciouser,” that appear between chapters, this book was a lot of fun from start to finish. I really did not think I would get attached to any of the characters since they are all beauty pageant contestants but Bray deftly reveals their real personalities and the various reasons they got into pageants. I have to say, I loved all the characters in the end, even the super ditzy one. If I were on a deserted island, I would definitely want Taylor Rene Krystal Hawkins on my side; maybe she could teach me to break the bad guy’s necks.

One of my favorite things about this novel is Bray’s message that you don’t need Lady Stache Off, eye creams, wrinkle-remover creams, tanning creams, bleaching creams, breast implants, breast reduction, butt implants, lipo, botox or anything designed to make all girls look like cookie-cutter, carbon copies of each other. It’s good to be different. So when our society tries to put you in a box and make you conform to our social mores or our narrow standard of beauty, be confident and live the life you want. I am thrilled that Bray delivered her message in this hilarious, exciting romp with some amazing beauty queens. Oh, and she does throw in some hot pirates!

The Bottom Line: Beauty Queens is just amazing! Libba Bray does a great job of delivering a hilarious story and great characters while simultaneously slamming our image-obsessed, reality show culture. This is a book that makes you proud to be a girl, no matter your age, and I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Missle Mouse Rescue on Tankium3

Title: Missile Mouse Rescue on Tankium3
Author: Jake Parker
Level: juvenile
Location: juvenile graphic novels

Missile Mouse Rescue on Tankium3 is just as great as the first Missile Mouse. It has colorful, easy to follow panels of intergalactic action. In this story Missile Mouse takes on King Bognarsh, who has enslaved an entire planet and Blazing Bat, who has been hired to kill him. In the last story Missile Mouse’s partner turned out to be a traitor. This time he is reluctantly paired with a robot when he would rather work with something that has a brain, heart, and conscience. He soon changes his mind when he realizes Agent 44 has his back. The drawings still have a Star Wars feel. The story moves along quickly and is over too soon. How long will we have to wait for the next Missile Mouse?! A least there is a bonus. Check the back of the book for a guide to Missile Mouse’s universe. It includes weapons and ships.

Bottom Line: Another solid Missile Mouse story from Jake Parker. The story is constantly moving with plenty of action and colorful panels of creatures from other planets. Anyone who liked the first book in this series will like Rescue on Tankium3 also. I loved it!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Divergent

Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Roth

Divergent was being compared to Hunger Games before the book ever came out so for those of you who are wondering just how alike they are, here it is. Both are dystopian young adult books with adult crossover appeal. Each has a female main character who is separated from her family, faces tough situations and decisions, is disliked because of where she is from, has an ally die, and a least one person who wants her dead. Unlike other popular teen series the main character in this one has only one love interest and it’s more realistic. I found this refreshing.

The dystopian world in the book is divided into five factions that eradicate those qualities they believe were responsible for the world’s disarray, meaning they live their lives based on one aspect of human personality. At sixteen everyone takes an aptitude test to help them determine which faction they belong in. Then at a Choosing Ceremony all declare which faction they want to belong to. Once the ceremony is over those who transfer factions might not ever see their families again. The choosing is the easy part though. If they don’t pass the initiation they could become factionless, which is described as worse than death. Tris, the main character, has a bit of a different experience with the aptitude test, and isn’t sure which faction she will choose until she cuts her hand for the ceremonial drop of blood into her chosen faction’s bowl.
Initiation begins for Tris as soon as the last sixteen year old has chosen a faction. Within an hour she’s not sure she will survive it. The faction doesn’t seem to stand for what she thought it did. She’s not sure who to trust and knows if the secret she is trying to keep hidden is discovered everything could be over for her. Luckily for Tris, she has an unknown ally. She is surprised on Visiting Day when her mother shows up and even more surprised by what occurs during the visit. By the time she realizes who her ally is she also knows something is not right and whatever that something is, it’s growing.

Bottom Line: Divergent is an action packed dystopian novel. When I reached the last hundred pages I couldn’t put the book down! If you liked the Hunger Games series you will probably like this series also. Be aware this is not a copycat so it isn’t going to be just like the Hunger Games. While both have a female main character, a love interest, and a need to stay alive all of these aspects are very different in Divergent. Even the violence is different. I liked the Mom in this book, but to write anything about her would give away part of the plot. She is an unexpected, but welcomed personality in the story. The ending was left so open I am interested to see what direction Ms. Roth will take with the second book in the series. I will be recommending this book to many teens and adults.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Passion

Title: Passion a fallen novel
Author: Lauren Kate
Level: young adult
Location: YA Kate

Passion is the third book in the Fallen series. This series is based around main characters that are fallen angels and the mortal one of them loves, Luce.
The series in two minutes: In Fallen Luce was drawn to both Daniel and Cam. She fell for Daniel, but had to leave the Sword & Cross school when she unknowingly told Sophia Bliss something that could put her life in danger and could lead to a final death. In Torment Luce started to learn about angels and Announcers. She was troubled by Daniel’s distance, questioned his love and anguished over family she lost in past lives. In Passion Luce visits past lives to learn about her love for Daniel and his undying love for her. She is determined to find something that will help them stay together in the present. But there is someone who doesn’t want to see Luce and Daniel together.

Spoiler Alert: If you have not read the first two books in this series you may want to skip to the bottom line. You may remember the ending of Torment had Luce jumping into an Announcer and then the other angels and Nephilim following her. Passion begins with the introduction of a new unnamed character who says he is taking care of things himself. It is obvious that everyone else at the meeting is terrified of him. From there we are back with Luce as she comes through the first Announcer on her search to figure out a few important things about herself, her lives, and her future.


There is a good amount of Announcer travel in Passion. Luce gets a glimpse into some other lives as she tries to figure out why she loves Daniel and why he loves her. All the while Daniel is desperately chasing her through Announcers missing her by minutes. The other angels are trying to find her also because if she changes anything there will be a ripple effect through time. So just how many times can you watch yourself die or relive the anguish of losing the one you love because of your actions before wondering if it’s worth continuing? Both Luce and Daniel learn something from their past lives. I found the visits to past lives interesting, but I like historical fiction. If the time travel is not something you enjoy reading, be warned almost the entire book will be just that.
There is a character who shows up in Luce’s Announcer claiming to be there to guide her. He’s a bit creepy. At times he seems helpful, but he also seems to get upset with Luce so I had to wonder just what he was guiding her toward. Make sure to pay attention to this character.

Bottom Line: Some series can maintain the same quality and interest level throughout all of the books. Others seem to lose it in one book and make the reader wonder if they should continue with the next in the series. Passion is the book in this series that just doesn’t live up to the standard. The majority of the book takes place through Announcer travel to past lives of Lucinda and Daniel as she learns about their love and he tries to find her. While I enjoyed this aspect of the story, there came a point when I wondered how long it was going to continue before they would discover what they needed to learn. After all Luce has a “guide” in her Announcer. Once Luce realizes she will always love Daniel and everything they go through in each life is worth the small amount of time they have together the story really gets moving. We learn about the angels' fall from Heaven and what someone is doing to keep Daniel and Lucinda apart. I’m glad I read Passion, but I can’t say I enjoyed it as much as the previous titles in the series. Leaving a couple past lives out would have helped it. I won’t give away the ending, but I expect the final book in the series, Rapture, to be action packed.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Squish- Super Amoeba

Title: Squish Super Amoeba(vol.1)
Author: Jennifer and Matthew Holm
level:juvenile
Location : coming soon to J graphic novel Squish


Super Amoeba is the first book in the new Squish graphic novel series by the Holm sister and brother team. If you recognize their name from Babymouse be warned there is not a drop of pink ink in this book. It has definite boy appeal. Don't walk away girls! You may like this series too. Squish is a school aged amoeba who has to deal with a bully who is way bigger. He loves reading super hero comic books, tacos and twinkies. His best friend, Pod, is working on solving global warming, sort of. Sometimes Pod doesn't seem like the best amoeba friend. There is a bonus at the end of the book; a science experiment and how to draw Squish.

Bottom Line: This book is a great start to the new Squish series about an amoeba. I liked being able to read Squish's comic book with him. There is some humor and actual science (very unobtrusive to the story) I actually like the book better than the last Babymouse- Mad Scientist ( sorry Babymouse) and want to see how it will develop.

Lunch Lady and the Bale Sale Bandits


Title: Lunch Lady and the Bake Sale Bandit
Author: Jarrett Krosoczka
Level: juvenile
Location: J graphic novel Lunch

How dare someone steal the goodies from a school bake sale! Who doesn't love cookies and cupcakes!? The lunch lady will find out. While it may not take long to figure out the culprit, this book is a fun read with humor, action, and of course the Lunch Lady's special gadgets for solving a mystery. You'll be entertained and perhaps wondering just what those lunch ladies are thinking when they look at you like that in line.

Bottom Line: Lunch Lady and the Bake Sale Bandit is an entertaining, light read full of action and humor. The bandit is menacing. Lunch Lady knows how to handle a scooter like a pro dirt biker. I liked it of course.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Title: Wrapped
Author: Jennifer Bradbury
Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Bradbury (when it comes in)

As a young socialite in 1817 London, Agnes Wilkins’ life is full of parties, balls and other social gatherings all designed to find her a husband so she can settle down in matrimonial bliss. While Agnes understands her social position, her adventurous spirit is certainly not ready for all the restrictions that come with wife and motherhood. While at a party thrown by one of her suitors, Lord Showalter, Agnes takes part in the unwrapping of an Egyptian mummy and unwittingly falls into a treasonous conspiracy and an ancient curse. Now, with the help of a cute, intelligent British Museum employee, Caedmon, she must unravel a mystery, avert the curse and save the British Empire in the process. Not too bad for a proper English girl!

I thought this book was a lot of fun from beginning to end. Agnes is a remarkably intelligent, fun heroine. I was rooting for her the whole time. I figured out the mystery pretty early on in the story, but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment in seeing it all play out. The romance was sweet if not predictable and rounded out the story nicely. I particularly loved the ending of this one. The author made some great choices for her heroine that was entirely fitting with her character. Even though the book had a clear, satisfying ending, I suspect we will see more books starring Agnes in the future. I will be looking forward to it!

The Bottom Line: Wrapped was an inventive, fun story with a lot of action, intrigue and a little romance. Even though this is a teen book, it has no objectionable material and would be an ideal novel for tweens and young teens who are just starting to read young adult novels. Give it to girls who enjoy books with strong heroines, adventure and romance, particularly those who like a regency or Victorian setting.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wishful Thinking


Title: Wishful Thinking
Author: Alexandra Bullen

Level: YA
Location: The library does not currently own a copy. This book was given out at a conference and was to be published in 2011.

Hazel has a pretty dreary life. She was adopted as an infant, her Mom passed away when she was young, she's lived in foster homes ,and she now lives with a man, Roy, who's relationship to her is unclear other than he loved her Mom. It seems taking pictures with an old camera that belonged to her Mom is the only thing that gives her any happiness. Then on her eighteenth birthday Roy hands her an envelope with her birth certificate inside.

After researching her mother's name Hazel discovers she will be at an event only four bus rides away. Determined to met her mother, she takes the one dress she owns to a seamstress whose card was inside it to have a seam fixed, only to have the person in the store tell her they are closed. On her way out the dress falls out of her bag and catches the seamstress' eye. After a few questions she agrees to take the dress and tells Hazel to come back in two hours. Hazel realizes when changing in the ferry station that the dress is different, but it looks so good on her she doesn't care and is off.

So how would you feel to finally be meeting your real mother, in a great dress and looking better than you ever have, and realize that you are at her wake? Hazel scrambles out of the restaurant as fast as she can and walks onto a ferry in a daze. She's thinking life is unfair and she wishes she had gotten to know her mother first. Exhausted from all the emotion Hazel lays her head down on her arms. When she awakens things don't look right. She doesn't even recognize the ferry she is on! In the dress bag she finds a note that explains her dress had the power to grant a wish. Hazel is now in a place where her mother was before Hazel was even born. She has her chance to get to know her mother.

I found taking Hazel's journey of gaining confidence, finding her real mother, helping her and making some tough choices very enjoyable.




Bottom Line: In Wishful thinking Hazel's character ( She's the main character.) develops through out the story. The story has great secondary characters. I wasn't sure about Wishful Thinking when I picked it up, but I found it wasn't predictable and enjoyed the characters development. The ending brings it all together nicely even if it isn't the one some reader's will expect.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Hereafter

Title: Hereafter
Author: Tara Hudson
Level: YA
Location: Coming soon (pub date 06/07/2011)

Amelia is a ghost, but she doesn't know who she is or how she died, other than she knows she fell off the high-rise bridge and wakes up with nightmares of drowning. She doesn't feel anything until she helps save a drowning boy who can see her. From there, her existence has meaning and she starts to remember who she is. All would be happy, except for the entrance of a fellow ghost Eli with his own objectives.

The Bottom Line:
I really enjoyed this book. The story was well-developed and unpredictable, and the romance was very sweet. I couldn't put this book down and really cared about the characters. I hope there is a sequel!

This advance copy was provided by the publisher via NetGalley.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Unearthly






Title: Unearthly
Author: Cynthia Hand
Level: YA
Location: YA Hand C.


Unearthly isn’t just another teen angel novel. It is one of the teen angel books you must read. Clara didn’t even know she was an angel, well part angel, until she was 14. Now at 16 she is starting to have visions of her purpose. This totally changes her life as completing your purpose is a major goal for angels. Her whole family moves to Jackson Hole so she can be closer to finding and completing it. She knows very little about being an angel however, and she can’t even fly yet. Will she even be ready in time for her purpose. That is if she can figure out exactly what she is suppose to do? Of course there is a guy, ok two guys, but the relationships are very different from those in Fallen or Twilight. I have to say I like them better. These are good guys who want to do the right thing. Good guys don’t make choices any easier though. The last couple chapters may surprise you. Make sure you have some time when you start this book because you won’t want to put it down. What bothered me about this book is there is obviously another to come and I don’t know how long I’ll have to wait! I want it now!

Bottom Line:This is a must read angel book about a part angel, Clara, trying to figure out and complete her purpose while also living a normal looking life. That's a normal life in the new town her visions brought her to and with the blackouts the visions can cause at any time. It doesn’t hurt that it was a good looking guy in her vision that brought her to Jackson Hole. I can’t really explain what it was I liked so much about this book, but I can tell you I could not put it down- literally. I stayed up all night reading it.


note: Hallowed will be the next title in the triology. It will be available in January 2012.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Delirium

Title: Delirium
Author: Lauren Oliver
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Oliver

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. When cured from the "disease" you also can enjoy this clarity, this freedom from bondage of emotions, fear and passion.

Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy. But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.



Bottomline:

A action-packed dystopian story, a mash-up of Lois Lowry's, "The Giver" and Ally Condie's, "Matched". This interesting plot line is filled with emotion and breaking of rules and about living your own life. There are some unanswered questions at the end, so hopefully the story will continue, even though it has a clincher of an ending!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wildefire


Title: Wildefire
Author: Karsten Knight
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: not yet released

Ashline Wilde is having a tough year. The psycho actions of her sister, Eve, forced her to transfer to an exclusive boarding school in the middle of northern California. Ash makes friends easily and seems to be getting her life back on track, but weird things keep happening. She gets chased by cyclopean monsters and, along with a few friends, seems oddly compelled to obey the summons of a blind girl. Ash soon discovers that she and her new friends are reincarnated gods and goddesses, tasked to carry out secret, separate missions to save the future of their race. As Ash begins to grow into her powers, Eve shows up with some new skills of her own, seemingly hell bent on creating havoc. Will Ash and her fellow gods and goddesses come to terms with their identity and face their fates? Or will the forces standing against them win out in the end?

Alright, I have to say that the above plot summary was definitely not my best. If you want a more in-depth description of the storyline (with quite a few more spoilers) check out the author’s website. I have to say, that I absolutely did not love this book. I tried very hard to like it. I usually adore paranormal/mythology stories plus this book has an amazing cover! The plot seemed promising and the main character, Ashline, is strong and likeable, but I could not get into Wildefire.

In the end, I really think the shallow, uninspired writing sank this story. This is the classic case of a writer telling you qualities about a character but failing to show anything through the character’s actions. All the characters felt flat and their interactions seemed robotic as a result. I was not the least bit empathetic to their plight. The romance, which should have been a pretty good side story for the plot, was hollow and lacked any convincing emotion. This should have been a great book, the plot had a lot of promise, but it did nothing for me. What a shame!

I will say though that just because I did not like this book, does not mean that you will not enjoy it. I have spoken with quite a few people who loved it and would recommend it. I don’t consider myself a picky reader. I mean, I enjoyed The Goddess Test, a book that plenty of reviewers completely disliked. So I would say to approach this one with caution and definitely check it out from the library or read a little bit of it in a bookstore before you consider purchasing it.


The Bottom Line: I was definitely not a fan of Wildefire. The superficial writing failed to connect me with the characters so I ended up being completely apathetic to their challenges and the story as a whole. If you enjoy supernatural books revolving around gods and goddesses, give it a shot but also try The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter.

The publisher provided me with an advanced reading copy of the book for this review. Wildefire by Karsten Knight has an expected release date of July 26, 2011

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Nerd Girls- Rise of the Dorkasaurus

Title: Nerd Girls- Rise of the Dorkasaurus

Author: Alan Sitomer

Level: J

Location: This books is due out in July 2011. The publisher supplied an advanced copy. Look for it to be purchased soon.

Maureen, better known as Mo, is not a popular girl in her school. When she finds out the threePees (You know them, the pretty, popular and perfect girls.) are planning a possibly fatal joke on the new girl she decides to intervene. The threePees plan to sit next to Alice, who seems to be allergic to everything, and eat peanut - butter and banana, sandwiches with mango marmalade on wheat. Then they'll film her reaction on a phone. Mo doesn't know what Alice's allergic reaction will be, but she puts a stop to it in a way that lands her on Youtube with more hits by the minute.

While her Youtube debut doesn't make her more popular she does find herself eating lunch with a grateful Alice and Beanpole Barbara, the school klutz. Alice, nicknamed Q by the group, decides they need to hit the threePees where it hurts, the school talent show. Figuring out their talent is a problem. Follow the girls as they put together their talent, face fears, and form their own group of friends.

Bottom Line: This is a humorous book every girl can relate to. After all who hasn't been teased about something in middle school, felt like a dork or faced the challenge of making friends. Find out the way these girls take on the popular girls and come out winners. Nerd Girls will have you smiling and turning pages.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Water Wars


Title: The Water Wars


Author: Cameron Stracher


Reading Level: Young Adult


Location: YA Stracher


Welcome to a future where water is more precious than gold or oil-and worth killing for Vera and her brother, Will, live in the shadow of the Great Panic, in a country that has collapsed from environmental catastrophe. Water is hoarded by governments, rivers are dammed, and clouds are sucked from the sky. But then Vera befriends Kai, who seems to have limitless access to fresh water. When Kai suddenly disappears, Vera and Will set off on a dangerous journey in search of him-pursued by pirates, a paramilitary group, and greedy corporations.


Bottomline: I didn't like this one as much as I hoped, and I'm a big fan of dystopian stories. The author tried too hard to make it jammed-packed with thrilling adventures, and each chapter left off with a plot twisting cliff-hanger. I was determined to finish it, but the ending didn't even resolve! I suppose it's open for a sequel, but I'm not sure if I'll be interested in reading it.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Wither


Title: Wither
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA DeStefano (should be at the library in a few weeks!)

Wither opens on a world suffering from the aftershocks of excessive genetic engineering. Every person born into the second generation dies a premature death, at the age of 20 for women and 25 for men. This has resulted in mass hysteria among the public and kidnapping of young women who are then forced into polygamous marriages. Rhine Ellery lives a cautious and difficult life with her brother until the day she is knocked out and thrown in a dark truck with numerous other girls. Rhine becomes one of three girls chosen to be the new wife of Linden Ashby, the governor’s son.

Expecting a life of abuse and rape, Rhine is surprised to find that Linden is respectful of her and kind. However, his father, Vaughn is a scientist determined to find a cure for his son before Linden’s 25th birthday. Vaughn’s quest to heal his son knows no bounds and he will try anything, no matter how cruel, to reach his goal. Although Rhine begins to love her sister-wives and even makes a friend with servant boy, Gabriel, she must find a way to escape the house before Vaughn decides to experiment on her.

Wither is Lauren DeStefano’s debut work and what a story she created! Although the world that Rhine inhabits is very dystopian, DeStefano shuns excessive world-building and instead focuses on developing convincing relationships between her characters. Not one character is wholly good or bad and their interactions with each other are the heart of the book. In some cases that might make for quite a dull storyline but Wither keeps you on your toes until the very end. This was a truly fascinating debut and I look forward to getting my hands on the next book in the series.

The Bottom Line: Wither was an intriguing dystopian book by a talented debut author. The storyline is inventive but read it for the amazing characters! They are the heart of the book. Fans of dystopian fiction, particularly the new release Across the Universe, should really enjoy this one. It also might appeal to readers who enjoy YA fantasy as well.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ruby Red

Title: Ruby Red
Author: Kerstin Gier
Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: May 10, 2011

Gwyneth has been living in the shadow of her cousin, Charlotte, most of her life. Charlotte is the pretty one, the smart one, the talented one, and the one who has the gene. That is, the time traveling gene that has run in their family for hundreds of years. Charlotte has spent her life being trained for when she is sixteen and she makes her first journey back. Except for when the time comes, it is Gwen who ends up going back instead. When she comes back from her time jump, her life has changed. Her worries about school, homework and clothes have been replaced by worrying about what century she might end up in and when it will happen. The only other person in her time who can go back is Gideon, who is great-looking but doesn’t seem to think much of her and isn’t afraid to show it. Can she and Gideon work together to complete their secret mission in the past or will whoever is out to stop them succeed?

Ruby Red takes a bit of time to get into, but once you do you won’t want to stop. It is the first book in a bestselling German trilogy that is now being translated into English. It left me waiting to learn to read German to read the next one early. The story takes place in London so it has a nice European feel to it with things like the mysterious butler and the old house with hidden doors that they live in. It’s fun to hear about the clothes and customs of the past as Gwyneth goes back. Gwyneth and Gideon are likeable characters who you will be cheering for.

The Bottom Line: This book has ghosts, time travel, secret societies, mystery, action and romance. Once the story gets going it’s a quick read. My main complaint is that I don’t want to wait until the next two books come out to see what happens which is pretty much the best complaint a book can have.

The publisher provided me with an advanced reader's copy of the book for this review. Ruby Red has an expected release date of May 10, 2011.

Putting Makeup on Dead People



Title: Putting Makeup on Dead People
Author: Jennifer Violi
Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: July 26, 2011

Donna comes to a startling revelation at the funeral of a classmate. She wants to be a mortician. She hasn’t cared about much since her father died four years ago but she can feel that this is something she really wants. She has just been going through the motions with her friend and family but with this decision, everything in her life starts to change. There is a quote from Rumi in the book that says, “Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are a hundred ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” Donna decides to try to find her way to do that, whether it is spending time with her new Wiccan best friend, learning to “love the whole person” in mortuary school, being with her new artist boyfriend, or just finding out who she is.

Right after reading this book, the grandmother of someone close to me died. I was always horrified by the idea of looking at dead bodies and had always managed to avoid it in the past. I’m so glad I read it because it really helped me understand that the funeral, the makeup, the viewing, they were all for us, the people who were still living. And the people who do the work behind it are giving dignity to our loved one and the chance to mourn and say goodbye for us. This was the perfect book at the right time for me. Even without this, it is an excellent story.

The Bottom Line: Putting Makeup on Dead People is an excellent book about finding yourself in the face of what other people think is right for you. And you can find out a little bit about being a mortician along the way.

The publisher provided me with an advanced reader’s copy of the book for this review. Putting Makeup on Dead People has an expected release date of July 26, 2011.

Shine


Title: Shine
Author: Lauren Myracle
Level: Young Adult
Release Date: May 1, 2011

Cat and Patrick had been inseparable best friends when they were young until Cat had a run in with Tommy, a boy in her school. After that, she withdrew from everyone including her friends, her brother who was once her hero, and Patrick. When she hears the news of Patrick’s attack that left him in a coma, she knows that it is time for her to stop ignoring the world around her and figure out who did it. Patrick was always open about being gay and his attack is viewed as a hate crime but the sheriff of their small North Carolina town blames it on people just passing through. When Cat starts investigating, she finds out secrets she couldn’t have imagined about the people she’s known all her life.


Shine has a very atmospheric feel of a small town Southern community which is at turns charming and repellent. This is a very real-feeling mystery. You can imagine that in Cat’s place you would want to do the same thing to help figure out who would do such a thing. The crime is horrific and might be hard for sensitive readers to handle, but it is sadly not that far off from what you might read in the papers. The mystery will keep you guessing, but the book is just as much about Cat and the choices she makes about how she wants to live her life.


The Bottom Line: Shine is a great book whose characters and story stick with you long after you finish it. It’s a mystery but it’s also a book about saying “yes” to life, even when it’s hard.


The publisher provided me with an advanced reader’s copy of the book for this review. Shine has an expected release date of May 1, 2011.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Mercy


Title: Mercy
Author: Rebecca Lim
Level: Young Adult
Release Date: May 17, 2011

Mercy wakes up in the body of a young girl as she has many times before. She can remember little bits of the last couple of times she has “soul jacked” people. The only thing that is constant is her dreams of Luc, the boy who is her touchstone, and his warnings of the deadly intentions of his eight brothers. This time she finds herself in the body of Carmen, a high school girl on a school bus to Paradise, population 1503. She knows nothing about Carmen or what she should be doing while she is stuck in her body. Mercy finds out that Carmen and her class are in Paradise to join with the local choir in a concert. Her host family is still trying to recover from a tragedy almost two years before. Their daughter, Lauren, was taken from their house. Everyone has given up hope except for Lauren’s cute twin brother, Ryan. Should she use her time stuck in Paradise to help find Lauren or should she worry about herself and Luc’s dire warnings?

Bottom Line:
If you like supernatural fiction but are tired of vampires or weak willed heroines, this is a good book for you. It is the first book in a series, so there are lots of unanswered questions but that is to be expected.

The publisher provided me with an advanced reader's copy of the book for this review. Mercy has an expected release date of May 17, 2011.