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.

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 and read Lila Zacharov in 13 Pieces, a short story told from Lila’s point of view.


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 .

Thursday, September 15, 2011


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.