Thursday, December 27, 2012

Review: Personal Effects

Personal Effects
by E.M. Kokie
Book Description:
Ever since his brother, T.J., was killed in Iraq, Matt feels like he’s been sleepwalking through life — failing classes, getting into fights, and avoiding his dad’s lectures about following in his brother’s footsteps. T.J.’s gone, but Matt can’t shake the feeling that if only he could get his hands on his brother’s stuff from Iraq, he’d be able to make sense of his death. But as Matt searches for answers about T.J.’s death, he faces a shocking revelation about T.J.’s life that suggests he may not have known T.J. as well as he thought. What he learns challenges him to stand up to his father, honor his brother’s memory, and take charge of his own life.
Wow. This debut novel blew me away. Before I tell you why, let me note that this book is getting what will probably be my last gold star for the year!
This book was touching. This book was funny. This book was everything. I ran the gamut of emotions right alongside Matt as he discovered who his brother actually was...and who that makes him.
This book touches on some heavy topics. Grief, homosexuality, abuse, love, and it does it all while still feeling natural. Matt is a fully realized character surrounded by people that have interesting facets, as well. The way that even characters who are no longer in the story manage to become fleshed out as the tale progresses...that takes talented writing and storybuilding.
My heart broke for this character and then rejoiced as he was reborn into a stronger, more complete person. Well done. Impossible to put down and well worth reading. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays!!!

We're going to take a little break here on the blog for the holidays, but I promise to come back with reivews/interviews/and more great book stuff after Christmas.  :)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Review: Path of Beasts

Path of Beasts
by Lian Tanner
The Keepers, book three
Book Description:
The city of Jewel is in peril once again, as it is held captive by the frightful Fugleman, his band of Blessed Guardians, and an army of merciless mercenaries. There's no doubt that Goldie and Toadspit want to get their city back, but how can a small group of children fight against such overwhelming forces of evil? And how, as Goldie is determined, can they avoid bloodshed in a war that will set thieves against soldiers, and trickery and deception against a mighty cannon that shoots cannonballs bent on destruction? As Toadspit fights the Fugleman in a duel to the death, Goldie must face her hardest task yet. If she is to save the city, she must walk the mysterious Beast Road, deep inside the Museum of Thieves. No one knows where it goes and no one has ever returned from it.
An amazing end to the trilogy. While I felt that things were not quite as strong in book two as they were in the first (which I absolutely loved!), I am sooo pleased to say that book three did not disappoint in the least. Goldie, Toadspit, Bonnie, Mouse, and even Pounce team up to save their city, defeat the evils they could face directly, and even indirectly, and each finds the place they belong forever.

Strong characters, an intriguing and danger-filled plot, and a Museum that once again left me longing for a chance to explore it... this book packed quite the punch. I cannot wait to read more from this author, even though this particular story may be finished.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review: The Humming Room

The Humming Room
by Ellen Potter
Book Description:
Hiding is Roo Fanshaw's special skill. Living in a frighteningly unstable family, she often needs to disappear at a moment's notice. When her parents are murdered, it's her special hiding place under the trailer that saves her life.

As it turns out, Roo, much to her surprise, has a wealthy if eccentric uncle, who has agreed to take her into his home on Cough Rock Island. Once a tuberculosis sanitarium for children of the rich, the strange house is teeming with ghost stories and secrets. Roo doesn't believe in ghosts or fairy stories, but what are those eerie noises she keeps hearing? And who is that strange wild boy who lives on the river? People are lying to her, and Roo becomes determined to find the truth.

Despite the best efforts of her uncle's assistants, Roo discovers the house's hidden room--a garden with a tragic secret.

Inspired by The Secret Garden, this tale full of unusual characters and mysterious secrets is a story that only Ellen Potter could write. 

It's been a long time since I've read The Secret Garden, but as I was reading this book based on it I found things coming back to me. I liked Roo as a character, finding her brusque, but understandably so. I thought that the new setting on an island at an old children's tuberculosis hospital was creepy and interesting. It gave a really remote feeling that would have been hard to come by otherwise in a modern retelling and allowed for a very distinctive secretiveness surrounding Roo's new friend, "the river spirit."

The backstory and description of the garden held me captivated and I found myself wanting to see it. When the family reunites over the garden's restoration, I felt touched. Things wrapped up very quickly at the end, though, and I was left wanting just a little more.

The book did leave me wanting to reread The Secret Garden. Since I probably won't have time (and because a co-worker keeps telling me that the movie is one of her favorites of ALL TIME), I checked out the movie version instead. This will allow me to revisit the original story and see if there was a little more at the end and what things may have been left out in this newer version. 

Good for readers finishing elementary school and in middle school. A quick and intriguing retelling of one of my favorite classic childhood tales.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Review: Hidden

by Sophie Jordan
Firelight, book three
Book Description:
A dangerous journey.
Shattered bonds.
Undying passion.

Jacinda was supposed to bond with Cassian, the "prince" of their pride. But she resisted her fate long before she fell in love with Will—a human and, worse, a hunter. When she ran away with Will, it ended in disaster, with Cassian's sister, Miram, captured. Weighed down by guilt, Jacinda knows she must rescue her to set things right. Yet to do so she will have to venture deep into the heart of enemy territory.

The only way Jacinda can reach Miram is by posing as a prisoner herself, though once she assumes that disguise, things quickly spiral out of her control. As she learns more about her captors, she realizes that even if Will and Cassian can carry out their part of the plan, there's no guarantee they'll all make it out alive. But what Jacinda never could have foreseen is that escaping would be only the beginning. . .
Have you ever read a book and been desperate for the main character to get together with one of the love interests...soooooo badly...even though you know it will never happen? Yeah.  That's how I feel when I read the books in this series.  I don't want to ruin it for you since this is the last one, but... I thought she ended up with the wrong guy!!

Aside from my heartbreak, this was a very good ending to the series. I still love how Jordan can make these books steamy and adventurous without getting too graphic! The draki are still amazingly cool, there's plenty of action and adventure, and I loved how Jacinda and her sister both really figured out exactly where they needed to be in the end.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Review: Dead is a Killer Tune

Dead is a Killer Tune
by Marlene Perez
Dead Is series, book seven
Book Description:
High school freshman Jessica Walsh is a Virago—a woman warrior who must protect her hometown from danger. And in Nightshade, California, trouble is always lurking. At the town’s Battle of the Bands, Jess’s boyfriend, Dominic, and his band, Side Effects May Vary, are up against Hamlin, a band so popular, their fans follow them everywhere. Soon, the competing musicians are doing risky, illegal, and even fatal things—and claiming that they heard strange music that compelled them to do it. Can Jess and her friends track down the tuneful tyrant before it’s too late?
I love this series and I love Jessica as the new main character. It's great to see some of the main characters from the first five books in the series make cameos, but the new crop of "Scooby Gang" keeps things going just fine! I really like the Virago angle and still find Nightshade to be a town full of mysteries.

I thought that the Pied Piper element of this story was very well done. I loved the way that it integrated into the battle of the bands. The introduction of some new characters and elements also paved the way for some intriguing romantic developments...

These books may not be stellar literature, but they are one of the series that I have to read as soon as the new book comes out. Each book is just a fast, fun little foray into an intriguing world and I rip through these almost *too* quickly. If you're looking for a quick read, I would wholeheartedly suggest the first book Dead is the New Black.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Review: Tempestuous

by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes
Twisted Lit series, book one
Publication date: Dec. 18, 2012
Book Description:
After a mistake with big financial consequences topples her throne, former "it girl" Miranda Prospero is bitter: she finds herself stranded in a crazed new world, holding court among geeks and misfits at a mall Hot Dog Kabob stand. Then, she gets her chance for revenge. When the storm of the decade snows in the mall workers and last-minute shopaholics for a long winter's night, Miranda sets out to get back at the catty clique who was behind her exile. But there's a complication. She somehow gets handcuffed to sullen loner Caleb. With him (literally) bound to her side, Miranda learns more in one night about her own heart, and human nature, than she ever did as prep royalty. With this twisted take on Shakespeare's The Tempest, authors Kim Askew and Amy Helmes prove again that, from Juliet's grief to Cordelia's rage, no one knew about teen angst better than the Bard. His wisdom holds up nearly half a millennium later.

Review: This is the fun start of a series with an interesting theme.  The authors plan to revamp different classic tales and put out modern versions.  This first book, based on Shakespeare's The Tempest, was a fun ride.  Though some things have been changed from the original version and most of the characters have different names, there are definite pieces from the original that can still be found in this version.

This story takes place from Miranda's point of view, and Prospero (or here, her father) is not involved in the story at all.  Miranda has fallen from grace, falsely accused of being the ringleader of a massive school-wide cheating ring.  Now, to make reparations, Miranda must work in a disgusting fast food job at the mall.  On the positive side, Miranda's made some great new friends, including her new bestie, Ariel. 

When she and most of the other mall workers get snowed in at the mall during a freak blizzard, Miranda suddenly has a lot of problems to tackle! Ariel's surprise birthday party must be reimagined, her skeezy ex-boyfriend and her old frenemies are also locked in the mall causing trouble, someone is robbing the high end mall stores, and worst of all, she finds herself handcuffed to a boy that is so not her type.

With some *very* creative problem solving that had me laughing throughout, it was very fun to follow Miranda's wild and crazy night.  I liked the elements of romance that pervaded the story and I liked that those who needed a comeupance got it in one way or another...

There were some times that the characters sounded a little like they were in the wrong time the authors had tried to use vintage dialogue from The Tempest and it didn't quite work, but aside from that, I thought this was a very fun update.  I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Exposure.

Friday, December 7, 2012

What's on My Hold List?

Welcome back to
"What's on My Hold List?"
This is the December 2012 edition!
One of the most beautiful things about working at our Library is that I know what's coming out and what we'll be getting and I can put the books on hold right away!
by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

by Kate Messner
by William Alexander
by Katherine Applegate

*If you click on each title, it will take you to the book on for more information. :)*
So, these are the books I'm waiting anxiously to get my hands on...
what are YOU waiting for??

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Review: See You at Harry's

See You at Harry's
by Jo Knowles
Book Description:
Twelve-year-old Fern feels invisible. Her dad is always busy planning how to increase traffic to the family business. Her Mom is constantly going off to meditate. Her sister Sarah, who's taking a "gap year" after high school, is too busy finding ways not to work; and her brother Holden is too focused on his new "friend" to pay attention to her. And then there's Charlie: three years old, a "surprise" baby, and the center of everyone's world.

If it wasn't for Ran, Fern's best and oldest friend, there would be nowhere to turn. Ran is always calm, always positive. His mantra "All will be well" is soothing in a way that nothing else seems to be. And when Ran says it, Fern can almost believe.

But when their lives are unexpectedly turned upside down, Fern feels more alone than ever, and responsible for the event that wrenches the family apart. All will not be well. Or at least, all will never be the same.
What a book! I have to warn you...the cover of this book is deceiving. When you pick it up, you might think this is a light read with a slight romance, or something fun for summer... you will get way more from this book than you were expecting!

This is a book that deals with a family. A close knit family and their relationships. A family dealing with children coming of age and a family dealing with the worst sort of grief. While Fern is our narrator, and a great one at that, each family member is fleshed out and becomes a strong part of the story. Even Fern's extended family, her friends, seem like real kids that you could meet.

This book felt so authentic that I found my heart breaking as I was reading. I was sad, I was angry, I smiled, I laughed. I felt like a part of the family almost. It was completely gut-wrenching to deal with what Fern's family must face.

I cannot help but give this book a huge GOLD STAR for being simply amazing.

I can't recommend this one enough. If you haven't read it yet, and you like realistic fiction, this would be a great one to pick up ASAP!! 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Review: A Confusion of Princes

A Confusion of Princes
by Garth Nix

Book Description:
You'd think being a Prince in a vast intergalactic empire would be about as good as it gets. Particularly when Princes are faster, smarter, and stronger than normal humans. Not to mention being mostly immortal.

But it isn't as great as it sounds. Princes need to be hard to kill—as Khemri learns the minute he becomes one—for they are always in danger. Their greatest threat? Other Princes. Every Prince wants to become Emperor, and the surest way to do so is to kill, dishonor, or sideline any potential competitor. There are rules, but as Khemri discovers, rules can be bent and even broken.

Soon Khemri is drawn into the hidden workings of the Empire and dispatched on a secret mission. In the ruins of space battle he meets a young woman called Raine, who challenges his view of the Empire, of Princes, and of himself.

But Khemri is a Prince, and even if he wanted to leave the Empire behind, there are forces that have very definite plans for his future. . .

I have to say, sadly, that I was disappointed in this book. I LOVED all of Garth Nix's other books and so I was *super* excited when I found out this one was on its way. I loved the premise and I thought it was going to be amazing.

Unfortunately, though the premise is indeed intriguing and I liked the setup of the book very much, I found myself completely losing interest just over halfway through. I made myself continue, though, and found the ending to be quite good. It was sad that really it was the introduction of romance into the story that seemed to derail it for me...

I wish it could have been what I hoped.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Mini Reviews: A Tween Edition

My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer
by Jennifer Gennart

Book Description:
Twelve-year-old June Farrell is sure of one thing—she’s great at making pies—and she plans to prove it by winning a blue ribbon in the Champlain Valley Fair pie competition. But a backlash against Vermont’s civil union law threatens her family’s security and their business. Even when faced with bullying, June won’t give up on winning the blue ribbon; more importantly, she won’t give up on her family. 

Quick Review:
I really enjoyed this title. I think it's a lot more serious than the cover leads readers to believe. It handles the issue of families with homosexual parents very well. I'm glad I read it. Probably best for 5-7th grade readers.

Dying to Meet You
by Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise
43 Old Cemetary Road, book one

Book Description:
This is the story of the churlish, child-hating sixty-year-old children’s book author Ignatius B. Grumply, who rents an old Victorian mansion in Ghastly, Illinois, for the summer . . . only to find it already inhabited. Enter eleven-year-old Seymour Hope and the vivacious, “old as dirt” writer-ghost Olive C. Spence. The ensuing tale of unlikely roommates is cleverly, seamlessly told in letters, newspaper articles, Grumply’s work-in-progress “Ghost Tamer” manuscript, and winning illustrations by M. Sarah Klise.

Quick Review:
Cute. I love all the different "media" used to tell the story. The letters, the newspaper articles, etc. It was a fun read. A great read for grades 4-6.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review: Unspoken

by Sarah Rees Brennan
The Lynburn Legacy, book one
Book Description:
Kami Glass is in love with someone she's never met—a boy she's talked to in her head since she was born. This has made her an outsider in the sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale, but she has learned ways to turn that to her advantage. Her life seems to be in order, until disturbing events begin to occur. There has been screaming in the woods and the manor overlooking the town has lit up for the first time in 10 years. . . . The Lynburn family, who ruled the town a generation ago and who all left without warning, have returned. Now Kami can see that the town she has known and loved all her life is hiding a multitude of secrets—and a murderer. The key to it all just might be the boy in her head. The boy she thought was imaginary is real, and definitely and deliciously dangerous.
This was my very first Sarah Rees Brennan book and I wasn't quite sure what to expect, except that I had heard great things about her earlier series. Well, if that series compares at all to this book, I will most certainly be going back to read the Demon books.
This book sucked me right in. Perhaps it was the smart protagonist. Perhaps it was that she was quirky and had an imaginary friend that she talked to in her head. Perhaps it was her devoted friends and a town full of dark secrets. It was everything. The atmosphere....the characters...the danger...the tortured romance...
I cannot wait to dive back in to Kami's life in book two. It cannot come out fast enough.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Review: A Fractured Light

A Fractured Light
by Jocelyn Davies
A Beautiful Dark, book two
Book Description:
When she wakes up in unfamiliar surroundings, Skye knows something terrible has happened to her. It's not until she hears Asher, the dark, rebellious angel she fell in love with, that the memories come flooding back. She tries to put the past behind her, but she knows she'll be forever haunted by the ruthless betrayal that almost took her life.

Skye returns home, but with the knowledge of who she really is, nothing can ever be the same. As she tests the limits of her newfound powers, Skye discovers that she's capable of far more than anyone could have imagined. Both the Order and the Rebellion want her for their side as war between the factions looms. She can't forget the terrifying truth she now knows about the Order, but something holds her back from embracing the Rebellion.

Picking up right where the first book left off, Skye must now deal with the fallout of finding out who she truly is, and being unsure of where she really belongs.  With ties to both sides in a holy war, Skye must decide who she feels more beholden to...or does she.  What I truly loved about this book was that though Skye falls in love, she does not let that emotion define her (unlike some other paranormal heroines...*cough* *cough* Bella *cough*). Skye chooses to forge her own path, regardless of the consequences. 

With romance, secrets, and a much stronger heroine than might appear on the surface, this trilogy (assuming the last book is as good as the first two) is truly one of my faves in the paranormal field.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Review: Girl of Nightmares

Girl of Nightmares
by Kendare Blake
sequel to Anna Dressed in Blood
Book Description:
It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on.

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.
These books induce just the right amount of shivers. Blake has mastered the art of creating a world inhabited by all the things that go bump in the night, but not leaving you afraid to sleep after reading...

The hell that Anna was trapped in was creepy and there were moments when I was truly afraid for Cas...then knowing that what he might be returning to was not really any better? You know those moments when you have to keep reminding yourself that "It'll work out's so and so and they can't really die"... Yeah, I was doing that a lot.

As good as the first.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Review: Liar and Spy

Liar and Spy
by Rebecca Stead
Book Description:
Seventh grader Georges moves into a Brooklyn apartment building and meets Safer, a twelve-year-old self-appointed spy. Georges becomes Safer's first spy recruit. His assignment? Tracking the mysterious Mr. X, who lives in the apartment upstairs. But as Safer becomes more demanding, Georges starts to wonder: what is a lie, and what is a game? How far is too far to go for your only friend?

I love Rebecca Stead's books. Though this one is very different from When You Reach Me, it still has the same ability to slowly unfold a much deeper story than expected. Stead draws readers into a world where a boy is trying to adjust to a new home...but as you read, you realize a LOT more is going on than first showed on the surface. 
The layers that slowly peeled away to reveal the underlying issues were masterfully done. It wasn't until just before Georges would address or discover an issue that I would suspect the very thing about to happen. Scenes, word choices, character motivations were all carefully written so that none of these things were evident straight on. Amazing.
I also have to mention how wonderful each of the characters in this book are... not just the kids, but also the parents. They each have little quirks that bring them to life and the way that they interact with one another was wonderful. This is also a great book for modeling families that truly work and support one another. So nice to see in today's world.
A short, sweet, and satisfying read.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Movie Review: Breaking Dawn, Part 2

Breaking Dawn, Part 2
*Based on the book Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
I am going to try to make this review as spoiler-free as possible for people who haven't yet seen the movie, but if you haven't read the book yet, you may just want to skip the entire review as I'm sure I'll end up ruining something for you...LOL. 

I am extremely excited to say that I've now FINISHED the entire Twilight Saga. I have read all the books, I have seen all the movies...I'm happy to be done.  And while the movies are fun to watch, they're not really stellar.  No one is going to argue that they should be winning awards, right? was fun to see the last one, finally!!

In case you've forgotten, here is a basic description of the storyline:
To be irrevocably in love with a vampire is both fantasy and nightmare woven into a dangerously heightened reality for Bella Swan. Pulled in one direction by her intense passion for Edward Cullen, and in another by her profound connection to werewolf Jacob Black, a tumultuous year of temptation, loss, and strife have led her to the ultimate turning point. Her imminent choice to either join the dark but seductive world of immortals or to pursue a fully human life has become the thread from which the fates of two tribes hangs.

Now that Bella has made her decision, a startling chain of unprecedented events is about to unfold with potentially devastating, and unfathomable, consequences. Just when the frayed strands of Bella's life--first discovered in
Twilight, then scattered and torn in New Moon and Eclipse--seem ready to heal and knit together, could they be destroyed... forever?

Okay, let's get down to it...

These are the things that I liked:
The battle sequence... there was all sorts of dramarama going on here.  Grudges finally fought out. Revenge taken for previous deaths.  Heads were literally flying all over the place.  There were moments when I full-on jumped in my seat...

I loved how Bella and Jacob fought, then finally reconciled over Nessie excuse me, I mean Reneesme, LOL. (Still the worst baby name, ever!!) In fact, Jacob had some of the funniest moments in the whole movie based on his relationship changing with Bella and Edward now that he's imprinted.
There were some other really funny moments, too, based on Bella's not being able to control her own strength when she first turns. Sort of a hulkish, "You don't want to see me when I'm angry" :P

Happily, these were also the moments when Kristen Stewart was actually able to show emotion! She smiles, she frowns, she yells, she pouts...she actually does it all in this movie.  No more one face wonder! 
Sooo...aside from some CGI issues (baby Reneesme looks ridiculous) and some poor makeup choices (some of the characters looked a little freakish)... I think this is actually my favorite movie in the series.  Mostly, it's just because I can't stand Bella in New Moon or Eclipse, I just spend all my time wanting to scream at her... ugh. However, once she becomes a vampire, she actually grows her own personality again which is LOVELY! 
My final verdict - Campy fun and worth seeing if you've seen the first four movies.  You'll notice some differences from the book, but that's okay, too. This makes for a much more action packed and satisfying movie.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Review: Splintered

by A.G. Howard
Publication date: January 1, 2013
Book Description:
This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.

When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.
I LOVED this book. I was simultaneously torn between wanting to desperately tear through it to find out all the crazy/wonderful things that would happen and wanting to put it down periodically so that I could savor that first reading for just a little bit longer.

Howard wrote some ravishingly dark imagery in her version of Wonderland. Every time you think you recognize something from the original, there is a creepy and distinctive twist. Even Alyssa turns out to have facets that you would not expect. The characters have motivations that make for a more intriguing and power hungry tale than Carroll's version and ultimately, you as the reader have no idea who may survive this twisted place.

I'm having trouble even formulating an effective way to describe exactly how much I loved this book. Suffice it to say that even though I received a review copy, I will most definitely be buying my own hardcover copy in January so that I can read it again and ooh and ahh over the gorgeous aesthetic details (the cover, OMG!) inside and out while I do...

For now, let me just say I'm giving it a GOLD STAR and that I demand you all READ IT!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Review: Struck by Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal

Struck by Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal
by Chris Colfer

Book Description:
Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal follows the story of outcast high school senior Carson Phillips who blackmails the most popular students in his school into contributing to his literary journal to bolster his college application; his goal in life is to get into Northwestern and eventually become the editor of The New Yorker.

At once laugh-out-loud funny, deliciously dark, and remarkably smart, Struck By Lightning unearths the dirt that lies just below the surface of high school.
Hilarious and dark.  This was a laugh out loud book that also made me feel really bad for Carson.  He makes some awful choices, but you can't help but understand his desire to succeed... There's a lot of bad language in this one, so I would recommend it for high school (and older) readers. It's short and funny, so if you're just looking for a quick book to read in a weekend, this would be a good choice.  It's a gem.
Oh, and here's the movie trailer (it comes out in January!):

Friday, November 16, 2012

Teen Review: Howl's Moving Castle

Howl's Moving Castle
by Diana Wynne Jones
Book Description:
Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl's castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there's far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.

Teen Review:
Don't read this book because if you love the movie, you'll love the book so much more! It tears you apart and it's just fab. There's no better way to explain it.  - Deanna

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Island of Silence

Island of Silence
by Lisa McMann
The Unwanteds, book two

Book Description:
Following the life-altering events at the conclusion of The Unwanteds, the stark world of Quill and the magical haven of Artimé are now home to whoever wants to live there, whether they are Wanteds, Unwanteds, or Necessaries.

In Artimé, Alex Stowe and his friends continue to hone their artistic magical spells while welcoming newcomers, wondering how long this peace between Quill and Artimé will last. Alex is stunned when Mr. Today comes to him with a very special request—one Alex questions his readiness for, until circumstances offer a dramatic answer.
And back in Quill, Aaron Stowe, Alex’s twin, faces a very different path. Devastated by his loss of status after Justine’s defeat and seething with rage toward Alex, Aaron is stealthily planning his revenge and return to power.

This is a series that I will tell you I unabashedly enjoy. It has a very similar feel to Harry Potter, but takes a very unique spin on the arts. I envy Lisa McMann's imagination when I read about the artistically inspired spells the kids use in Artime. 

As in Harry Potter, this second book has taken the series to a slightly darker place.  While Artime is still a thriving, beautiful, and creative place, the political repurcussions of opening Artime to everyone are felt throughout the land.  While the Artimeans are busy battling the Quillians, they also discover that something sinister may be occuring outside of their land, as well. In fact, even as Alex is trying to wrap his brain around being groomed to lead Artime one day and also deal with his evil twin's sinister plotting (which gave me shivers, btw...kid's got real power issues!), several of Alex's friends go missing and Alex finds himself in charge much earlier than expected. 

The only fault I found with this book was that it left off with huge plot cliffhangers!! While a few questions were answered, many more were raised, and I'm going to have a hard time waiting for book three to find out what's really going on at the Island of Silence!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone
by Laini Taylor
Book Description:
Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?
Wow. This is a beautifully written, dark fantasy. The word choices are just gorgeous and kind of made me want to read out loud. The descriptions of Prague gave such an atmospheric feel to the book, but it was the descriptions of the "other" world that were really vivid and unforgettable.
Karou is an interesting character. She is outgoing and perfectly at home with who she is...though she doesn't quite know who she is! Watching her discover the secrets of her past was captivating.  The way that she interacts with everyone around her made me laugh...and when she met Akiva, it made me shiver.

The sequel, Days of Blood and Starlight, just came out so if you like dark fantasies give this one a try and you won't even have to wait for the second one!

Friday, November 2, 2012

What's On My Hold List?

Welcome back to
"What's on My Hold List?"
This is the November 2012 edition!
One of the most beautiful things about working at our Library is that I know what's coming out and what we'll be getting and I can put the books on hold right away!
by Moira Young
Dust Lands, book two
by Kerstin Gier
Ruby Red Trilogy, book two
by Carrie Harris
Kate Grable novella
by Sophie Jordan
Firelight novella
*If you click on each title, it will take you to the book on for more information. :)*

So, these are the books I'm waiting anxiously to get my hands on...
what are YOU waiting for??

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Review: City of Lies

City of Lies
by Lian Tanner
The Keepers Trilogy, book two
Book Description:
Goldie Roth is a trained thief and a skilled liar. Along with her friend Toadspit, she's supposed to be one of the Keepers of the mysterious Museum of Dunt. But although she desperately wants to be a Keeper, she will not leave her sick parents to do so. But when Toadspit's sister Bonnie is stolen, he and Goldie are forced to follow the child-stealers to the neighboring city of Spoke. Along the way, Toadspit too is captured, and Goldie is caught up in the Festival of Lies, where every word she says means something else and no one can be trusted. There, Goldie discovers some dangerous secrets—secrets that the child-stealers will kill to protect. She will need all her skills as a thief and a liar if she is to survive and save her friends.
While I did not love this book as much as I did the first book in the series, Museum of Thieves, I did enjoy it a lot. I think that what was missing for me here was the actual Museum of Dunt.  It was such a huge PRESENCE in the first book and almost all of the action in this story takes place elsewhere. I did love following Goldie's adventures again and thought it was neat to see more of the larger world in this dystopian series, but I can't wait to get back to the Museum in book three!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Wishing you all

...And don't forget, the Library Sheriff is reminding you to return your books on time... OR ELSE!!! Mwahahaha...

Review: The Drowned Cities

The Drowned Cities
by Paolo Bacigalupi
Book Description:
In a dark future America where violence, terror, and grief touch everyone, young refugees Mahlia and Mouse have managed to leave behind the war-torn lands of the Drowned Cities by escaping into the jungle outskirts. But when they discover a wounded half-man--a bioengineered war beast named Tool--who is being hunted by a vengeful band of soldiers, their fragile existence quickly collapses. One is taken prisoner by merciless soldier boys, and the other is faced with an impossible decision: Risk everything to save a friend, or flee to a place where freedom might finally be possible.
I had heard how great Ship Breaker won awards, even... but I just hadn't had time to read another dystopian book in the last year or so that wasn't already high on my priorities list. Well, I'm gonna have to make time to go back and read it now, because the companion book was stellar.
This book is set in a dark, war torn dystopian United States (well, what's left of it, that is...). It is gritty and violent and compelling. There is no romance and really little hope. Yet... you read continuously searching for the seeds of hope and finding little hints that it may yet be there to find.
Reminiscent of the darkest portions of The Hunger Games, Bacigalupi is an author for those readers who do not want their gritty future tied to romance... this is for a more hard core, action seeking science fiction reader. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Review: It's Kind of a Funny Story

It's Kind of a Funny Story
by Ned Vizzini
Book Description:
Like many ambitious New York City teenagers, Craig Gilner sees entry into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School as the ticket to his future. Determined to succeed at life—which means getting into the right high school to get into the right college to get the right job—Craig studies night and day to ace the entrance exam, and does. That’s when things start to get crazy.

At his new school, Craig realizes that he isn't brilliant compared to the other kids; he’s just average, and maybe not even that. He soon sees his once-perfect future crumbling away. The stress becomes unbearable and Craig stops eating and sleeping—until, one night, he nearly kills himself.

Craig’s suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, isolated from the crushing pressures of school and friends, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.
I really need to listen to my teen readers at the library more often. The trouble is I usually have such a huge stack of books that I'm dying to read any way that when a teen suggests a book I tell them, "oh yeah, I'd like to read's going on my list" and then it takes ages for me to get to it...
I had three different teens recommend this book to me. I'm so glad I finally picked this one up. It was indeed a great story! Others have said this, but it bears repeating...for a book about a suicidal teenager, this was actually a surprisingly funny book. Vizzini manages to make this book feel achingly "real" precisely because it covers such a huge range of emotions. There are NO one dimensional characters and the plot is utterly realistic. What a well done book.
I highly recommend this one (and I'm going to check out the movie...I want to compare it to the book...)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Review: Live Through This

Live Through This
by Mindi Scott

Book Description:
If Coley Sterling’s best friend would stop hating her, if her dance-team captains would lighten up, if her friends would stop asking her about Reece, the geeky sax player she’s crushing on—then her life would be perfect. Right? After all, Coley’s stepdad is a successful attorney who gives Coley and her siblings everything, and her mother will stop at nothing to keep them all happy and safe—including having escaped ten years ago from the abuse of Coley’s real father. But Coley is keeping a lot of secrets. She won’t admit—not even to herself—that her almost-perfect life is her own carefully crafted facade. Now, Coley and Reece are getting closer, and a decade’s worth of Coley’s lies are on the verge of unraveling—along with the life she thought she knew.
This. This is a doozy of a book. It is gripping, it is un-put-downable. Once I had gotten about 20 pages in, there was no stopping. I read straight through until the last page, tears streaming down my face in several spots, shivers running down my spine. I could not tear myself away.

This is not a book for everyone. The author doesn't really worry about being very open about what's happening between Coley and her boyfriend, or Coley and the person who has crossed the line with her... For some people this book may be a little too much. Too hard to read.

I would really only recommend this book to very mature readers in grades 11 and up.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Review: Pandora Gets Greedy

Pandora Gets Greedy
by Carolyn Hennesy
Pandora series, book six
Book Description:
Pandora is off to Rome in search of Greed. With a little magical help, Pandy and her friends pose as servants for a Roman senator. But the hard work leaves little time to search for evils—not to mention dealing with the senator’s bratty daughter. When a feud breaks out between the senator and Julius Caesar, Pandy finally gets the courage she needs to search for Greed. But there is an odd twist. The Greek gods are in town on a "family reunion" with their Roman counterparts. Are the double gods just a coincidence or are they here to help her?
While I love this series, I had a hard time getting into this particular volume. I don't know if it's that it starts out with Pandora having forgotten what she her mission, or that it took a few chapters to build into the larger story, but something just felt like it was lacking... as I continued into the story things evened out again, but I had a really hard time at first.
Once things picked up again, I loved seeing the Greek and Roman god counterparts interact. It was fun to see them working together and sometimes against each other as they waited for Pandora to complete her quest. Pandora's friends also continue to grow closer and closer as a unit, bonding and protecting one another whenever they can.
The next book in the series is the final one and though this book was not my favorite in the series, there is NO WAY that I'm not going to read the last one and find out how it all ends! 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Review: Seraphina

by Rachel Hartman
Book Description:
Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.
It has been a little while since I have read a story about dragons that has left me in awe. It's not that the dragon books out there aren't's that they all seem to have very similar lore these days. Not so in Seraphina. Though I have read books where dragons could take human form before, Hartman writes about this process and other dragon-y aspects in such a way that it felt utterly new and brilliantly done.
I could picture the painful process of a giant dragon folding in on itself to take Saar (human) form. I could empathize completely with how they must feel trapped and utterly alien amongst humankind. I understood their mathematical and scientific brains, revolted by human feeling and floundering as emotions they did not want flooded their systems.
Hartman manages to convey excellently drawn perspectives of both humans and dragons as they beome embroiled in political strife. Seraphina, who can see both perspectives, is the perfect narrator. Her struggle to fit in, yet hide herself from scrutiny is fascinating. Her relationship with dragonkind draws readers in effortlessly. Her struggle to fight off feelings for the one man she should never pursue...
A phenomenal fantasy debut, absolutely recommended to all fantasy readers, and well worthy of a shiny, shiny (dragon scale shiny, LOL) gold star: