Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The 100 (The Hundred) by Kass Morgan

Target audience - Grades 9 - 12

No one has set foot on Earth in centuries -- until now.

Ever since a devastating nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth's radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents -- considered expendable by society -- are being sent on a dangerous mission: to recolonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life...or it could be a suicide mission.

CLARKE was arrested for treason, though she's haunted by the memory of what she really did. WELLS, the chancellor's son, came to Earth for the girl he loves -- but will she ever forgive him? Reckless BELLAMY fought his way onto the transport pod to protect his sister, the other half of the only pair of siblings in the universe. And GLASS managed to escape back onto the ship, only to find that life there is just as dangerous as she feared it would be on Earth.

Confronted with a savage land and haunted by secrets from their pasts, the hundred must fight to survive. They were never meant to be heroes, but they may be mankind's last hope.

I liked the storyline for this novel and can see readers of dystopic societies and science fiction enjoying the multiple plot twists. The chapters are short and the pages are easy to read; the characters deal with realistic situations in an unrealistic back drop, living on a space station, which make them easily relatable. I also appreciated the authors reflections on how a person who never lived on Earth might interpret some of its natural wonders like sunsets or rain storms. The story flips between the different characters who have unconventional names which can be confusing and at times reads like a television series. Perhaps that’s why its already been picked up by the CW station as part of their Spring lineup (March 2014).  Overall, “The Hundred” was a book worth recommending to high school students.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Review: The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars 
by John Green

Book Description:
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.


I have to be honest here and admit that I was afraid to read this book.  Though it's gotten rave reviews from just about anyone who has ever read it, I was terrified of how "sad" this book would be... I tend to shy away from books dealing with death, cancer, war, etc.  

Am I glad I read this book finally? YES.  It was amazing.  This book is going to be known as John Green's masterpiece someday.  This book deals with teens with cancer in the perfect way.  They are not children, they are not adults, they are real teenagers.  They play video games, they question life, they fall in love.  They egg cars, they meet their favorite author...they die.  

While this book deals with the gritty realism of terminal illness, not shying away from the horrific realization that everyone's time comes eventually, it also deals with the subject with the perfect balance of love and hope.  Even as I cried through parts of the book, when I turned the last page I was left smiling.  

A wonderful book that all older readers (including the adults in our lives!) should really read.  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Movie Review: Ender's Game

Ender's Game
Rated: PG-13
114 minutes

Movie Description
The International Military seek out a leader who can save the human race from an alien attack. Ender Wiggin, a brilliant young mind, is recruited and trained to lead his fellow soldiers into a battle that will determine the future of Earth. (description from IMDB.com)

So, I may have mentioned once, or twice, or hmmm...numerous times that Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card is one of my top five favorite novels of all-time. As such, I have to admit that I was *extremely* nervous when they first announced they were going to attempt a movie adaptation. As casting was announced and stills were released, though, and then finally the trailer came out, my anticipation grew until I could NOT WAIT for November 1st.

I am not a midnight release movie-goer, and yet, I seriously considered it for this movie. Happily, I had Friday off from work, so I did end up seeing it on it's first day in the theater!

I am pleased to report that I really, truly enjoyed the movie. Now, it was not as good as the book, but I'd expected that, so the movie lived up perfectly to the expectations I had for it. First off, the casting choices were STELLAR. Asa Butterfield gave an amazing performance as Ender, as didHarrison Ford playing Colonel Graff. I could not have asked for a better actor for either role. Without those two performances having the nuances and depths that Butterfield and Ford brought to them, the whole movie could have tanked. Then add in the excellent supporting cast and the movie becomes a blockbuster just from that respect!

While Sir Ben Kingsley, Nonso Anozie, and Viola Davis played their parts as the other mentors and role models in Ender's life very, very well, this movie is truly about the children who train to become the military heroes of tomorrow. Again, any of these casting choices failing could have been a crucial mistake and thankfully, these people knew what they were doing. Hailee Steinfeldwas *excellent* as Petra Arkanian. I can see why she'd previously been nominated for an Oscar!

Petra, Bean (played by Aramis Knight) and Alai (played by Suraj Partha) all hit just the right notes, first as competitors that distrust Ender, then as staunch supporters that will follow Ender all the way to the end. Watching these actors interact was a pleasure. Even the choice ofMoises Arias as Bonzo Madrid was spot-on. And though we didn't see a lot of her, Abigail Breslindid a great job as Ender's compassionate sister, Valentine.

In fact, that was one of the things that left me just a hair disappointed as I came out of the theater. Though I know how difficult it can be to pick and choose which aspects of a story are tackled in a movie adaptation, the complete absence of any reference to Peter and Valentine's subplot as influences on Earth's political government, leading to Peter Wiggin becoming the Hegemon (ultimate head of politics on Earth) I felt was glaring. Without this being mentioned at all in this movie, I don't understand how a sequel, if one is ever made, would be tackled as each story following this first one touches on Earth's politics fairly heavily...

I also understand that the timeline had to be tightened up and as such, the focus on the battle school virtual battles became a visually stunning and continuous plot for this movie, but I worry that viewers who have not read the book will not understand the emotional devastation that Ender faces as he becomes more and more isolated and feels more and more empathetic to the race that Earth is trying to destroy. In fact, the movie is restructured in such a way that Ender's isolation is hardly apparent and the empathy that Ender feels for the "buggers" is not apparent until after the culminating events of the movie.

However as a purely visual medium for a shortened/less layered version of the classic story, this movie was pretty epic. The battle room scenes were everything I hoped for, the blend of technologies and Earth and space vistas were breathtaking and I left eager for more.

My friends know that I'm pretty cheap frugal when it comes to seeing movies in the theater...and I liked this one enough that I'm considering going again... let that sink in, people. I may PAY to see this movie a second time. That's the highest endorsement I can give it.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

So, today at work I'm dressed as Annabeth Chase from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan. So much fun. I think I hit it pretty well on the nose. 

*And for those of you sticklers, yes, I know that in the series it is a Yankees cap that Athena gives Annabeth, but...the Red Sox won the World Series last night, so I had to support them, LOL! 

Is anyone else rocking a character-based costume today??

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Review: The Turning

The Turning
by Francine Prose

Book Description:
A dark house.
An isolated island.
Strange dreams
and even stranger visions . . .

Jack is spending the summer on a private island far from modern conveniences. No Wi-Fi, no cell service, no one else on the island but a housekeeper and the two very peculiar children in his care. The first time Jack sees the huge black mansion atop a windswept hill, he senses something cold, something more sinister than even the dark house itself.

Soon, he feels terribly isolated and alone. Yet he is not alone. The house has visitors—peering in the windows, staring from across the shore. But why doesn't anyone else see them . . . and what do they want? As secrets are revealed and darker truths surface, Jack desperately struggles to maintain a grip on reality. He knows what he sees, and he isn't crazy. . . . Or is he?

I have to be honest. I wanted to like this one a lot more than I did. The idea was spooky and I liked the beginning, but I got bored reading. I actually found myself trying to skip to the end just to see what happened, because I was too impatient to wait until I naturally got there.

I didn't really connect to any of the characters and though I found the house to be cool and liked the remote setting, I don't think it was enough for me. Sadly, I just didn't enjoy it overmuch.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Review: The Fifth Wave

The Fifth Wave
by Rick Yancey

Book Description:
After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie's only hope for rescuing her brother--or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

An excellent read.  This book feels real.  Cassie has to deal with being alone, trying to decide if anyone can be trusted.  When she realizes that anyone could be one of them... how can she trust anyone ever again?  Then Cassie meets someone that she desperately wants to trust... 

Her devotion to finding and saving her brother is admirable and heartbreaking.  Seeing in the alternating chapters what is happening inside the camp he's been taken to... I found myself wanting to yell through the book to the characters letting them know what was going on with each other.  Though I could see where things were going most of the time, Yancey's writing still kept me on the edge of my seat.  

For older readers looking for a thrilling, can't put it down type of science fiction read. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Review: The Gathering Storm

The Gathering Storm
by Robin Bridges
The Katerina Trilogy, book one

Book Description:
As she attends a whirl of glittering balls, royal debutante Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, tries to hide a dark secret: she can raise the dead. No one knows. Not her family. Not the girls at her finishing school. Not the tsar or anyone in her aristocratic circle. Katerina considers her talent a curse, not a gift. But when she uses her special skill to protect a member of the Imperial family, she finds herself caught in a web of intrigue--and pulled between two young men who belong to very different and warring royal bloodlines. The time has come for Katerina to embrace her power as a necromancer, but which side will she choose--and to whom will she give her heart?

This book was very intriguing and yet at points it was also frustrating.  

I liked the idea of the Russian aristocracy being filled with paranormal beings and I loved Katerina as the main character.  She was strong and her power was interesting. I thought that the emotional roller coaster that Katerina experiences as events unfolds was very realistic.   

What frustrated me, though, were the Russian titles.  The author explains that each aristocrat would have a formal title and then a nickname, but to try to keep track of all the different princesses and counts was confusing at times.  It took until I was more than halfway through the book before I was able to easily distinguish the different MAIN characters of the book.  

Aside from that, I ended up enjoying this book a lot.  The historical setting was vibrant and beautiful.  The types of vampires and necromancers were interesting to read about... I definitely plan to continue the trilogy when I get time. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Books I Can't Wait to Get My Hands On: November Edition

Here are some books being released in November that I can't wait to read!!

After Eden by Helen Douglas
A mysterious boy... is he really from the future?

Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger
Sophronia continued adventures at a very deadly finishing school...

Hostage Three by Nick Lake
When you are the least important hostage,
your life suddenly becomes worth a lot less...

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher
Zoe spills her deepest secrets to a death-row pen pal...

Pawn by Aimee Carter
Will Kitty take on someone else's life for fame and power?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Gold Star Review: The Diviners

The Diviners
by Libba Bray

Book Description:
Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."

When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first.

Creepy and fun!  

This book is set in the 1920's, which is one of my FAVORITE historical eras. So glamorous.  Speakeasys, flappers, jazz...New York City must have been one happening place.  I would have loved to have seen it.  As it is, I envy the clothes and the sense of freedom that the flappers must have felt.  

I loved the way this book unfolded.  It was subtle at first how all the different characters were going to end up intermingled into one big story. I liked how they all fit together eventually like puzzle pieces.  I found the reason for them developing their psychic abilities intriguing and I'm desperate to get my hands on the next book ASAP! 

The serial killer story was gripping and while it had it's gory moments, it wasn't overwhelming. It was the perfect blend of creepy and compelling.  I found the language to be helpful in this...even when Evie was staring at a gruesome murder or was learning grisly details, her horror was offset with her attempts at humorous colloquialisms, "And how!," "Jeepers Creepers." Those moments were helpful to deflect a little bit from the grotesqueness of the crime scenes.  

With fun language, a sit on the edge of your seat plot, and great characters, I have to give The Diviners a GOLD STAR.  I will most definitely read book two, Lair of Dreams, as soon as it hits the shelves! 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Review: A Girl Called Problem

A Girl Called Problem
by Katie Quirk

Book Description:
Thirteen-year-old Shida, whose name means "problem" in Swahili, certainly has a lot of problems in her life -- her father is dead, her depressed mother is rumored to be a witch, her family bears the weight of a curse, and everyone in her rural Tanzanian village expects her to marry rather than pursue her dream of becoming a healer.

So when the elders of Litongo make a controversial decision to move Shida's people to a nearby village, Shida welcomes the change. Surely the opportunity to go to school and learn from a nurse can only mean good things. Nonetheless, mysterious calamities plague Shida's people after their move. Desperate to stay, Shida must prove to her people that life can be better in their new home.

I found this book to be surprisingly easy to read and very interesting.  I learned about a period of African history that I knew nothing about previously.  I loved that Shida wanted so desperately to become a learned woman, a nurse, and that, though she met some resistance, there were people who supported her dream and that she persisted to help make her dream come true.  I liked the mystery aspect of this book and was pleased with how things worked out.  

A different book than I would normally read, but one that I would recommend! 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Review: Lost in the River of Grass

Lost in the River of Grass
by Ginny Rorby

Book Description:
A science-class field trip to the Everglades is supposed to be fun, but Sarah's new at Glades Academy, and her fellow freshmen aren't exactly making her feel welcome. When an opportunity for an unauthorized side trip on an airboat presents itself, it seems like a perfect escape–an afternoon without feeling like a sore thumb. But one simple oversight turns a joyride into a race for survival across the river of grass. Sarah will have to count on her instincts—and a guy she barely knows—if they have any hope of making it back alive.

Oooh. I was already kind of terrified of the Everglades and now, boy, I don't ever want to step foot in them without a majorly seasoned tour guide.  This book was one dangerous encounter after another.  I loved how as Sarah faced the possibility of death over and over, she became more and more capable.  She is truly a survivor.  One who when push comes to shove, must learn how to become more able on her own...one who will do whatever she must to survive. 

If you like survival stories, ones that will keep you on the edge of your seat, this is a good one! 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Mini Reviews: The Lost Prince and The Iron Traitor

The Lost Prince
by Julie Kagawa
The Iron Fey, book five

Book Description:
Don't look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them.

That is Ethan Chase's unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he'd dare to fall for.

Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister's world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myth and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten.

I liked the change-up, getting to see the Nevernever from someone else's perspective. Someone totally human. Ethan is tough, but totally terrified inside and that made him easy to relate to and still feel like a true hero. I loved how desperately he tries to save Kenzie from what he knows to be dangerous and I loved getting to see Meghan and Ash and PUCK (MY FAVORITE, CAN YOU TELL?) again.

The Iron Traitor
by Julie Kagawa
Iron Fey, book six

Publication date: Oct. 29, 2013

Book Description:
After his unexpected journey into the lands of the fey, Ethan Chase just wants to get back to normal. Well, as "normal" as you can be when you see faeries every day of your life. Suddenly the former loner with the bad reputation has someone to try for—his girlfriend, Kenzie. Never mind that he's forbidden to see her again.

But when your name is Ethan Chase and your sister is one of the most powerful faeries in the Nevernever, "normal" simply isn't to be. For Ethan's nephew, Keirran, is missing, and may be on the verge of doing something unthinkable in the name of saving his own love. Something that will fracture the human and faery worlds forever, and give rise to the dangerous fey known as the Forgotten. As Ethan's and Keirran's fates entwine and Keirran slips further into darkness, Ethan's next choice may decide the fate of them all.

I love Ethan and Kenzie's relationship. I think that they work just as well together as Meghan and Ash did. I'm anxious to see how they cope after the events of this book... in fact, I'm desperate to see what happens next because the cliffhanger this book leaves you on... WOWZA.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Review: Little Fish

Little Fish 
by Ramsey Beyer

Book Description:
Told through real-life journals, collages, lists, and drawings, this coming-of-age story illustrates the transformation of an 18-year-old girl from a small-town teenager into an independent city-dwelling college student. Written in an autobiographical style with beautiful artwork, Little Fish shows the challenges of being a young person facing the world on her own for the very first time and the unease—as well as excitement—that comes along with that challenge.

This book is perfect if you are going to be going to college for the first time or even if you are just going through a totally new phase in your life. It's easy to read, easy to relate to, and made me laugh out loud in spots. Ramsey chronicles her first year in college through lists, journal entries, and zine articles. Each page felt as new and different and exciting as Ramsey's foray into Baltimore...her very first city experience.

As some one who occasionally has trouble following comics or graphic novels, I'm very pleased to report I had no trouble at all with this one. Each character is distinguishable from the others and are introduced in ways that make them pretty easy to remember. It's just like making new friends in real life. In fact, I found myself heartbroken to leave them all behind at the end of the year...and I'd actually love to read about Ramsey's sophomore year to catch up with them again!!

As a book set in college, this is not a book for younger readers but I think that older high school readers and those already in college will relate to and thoroughly enjoy this one!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Review: Infinityglass

by Myra McEntire
Hourglass, book three

Book Description:
No time like the present.
No time in the present.
No time left.

From the moment the Hourglass group violated the rules of the space time continuum to rescue a murdered loved one, time has been in flux. People from other centuries slide into our time, intruding into our space, threatening our world.

Frantically seeking a way to turn back this tide, the Hourglass begins a search for the legendary Infinityglass, tracking it to the city of New Orleans, a place where the past rests easily with the present.

Quiet, reliable Dune, the group's favorite geek, is selected to travel to the Crescent City and somehow retrieve the renowned object.

But there's a problem.

Because the Infinityglass is not an object, it's a person.
A beautiful, headstrong dancer named Hallie, a girl so enticing Dune can't take his eyes off her.

And time is not on her side.

I love this series.
They are fun, romantic, and while time travel doesn't always make sense in general, at least here it seems clear enough on the surface, and there are rules set in place so that there are consequences if things are not done properly.

But... back to the swoony-ness! Dune. Ah, Dune. He was very hot (and smart!! Which I love...) in this book. Even better, I really wanted to BE Hallie. She was cool, confident, smart...and yet, totally human. She was a kick-@ss character.

The setting. New Orleans. *sigh* Every book I read set there just makes me want to get on a plane immediately. I really need to see N'orlens soon. SOON!

I'm sad that this was the final book in the series, but I was satisfied. I hope to read more from Myra McEntire someday.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Review: The Case of the Deadly Desperados

The Case of the Deadly Desperados
by Caroline Lawrence
Western Mysteries, book one

Book Description:
When twelve-year-old P.K. (Pinky) Pinkerton's foster parents are murdered by Whittlin' Walt and his gang of ruthless desperados, Pinky goes on the run and is forced into hiding with Ma's priceless last possession: the deed to a large amount of land and silver mines in the Nevada Mountains. But relying on disguises will only keep Pinky hidden for so long, and the desperados are quickly closing in . . .

I loved this book SO much more than I ever thought I would. 

 P.K. is a spunky, interesting (maybe autistic) main character that I had no trouble rooting for... I loved all of the side characters. There were mean desperados, and helpful townsfolk, a new "foster" parent to look up to, and even an appearance by Samuel Clemens himself! The mystery was great and the setting was way more interesting than I'd thought it would be. 

 I found myself smiling as I read along and hope to read the follow-up soon!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Review: Savage Fortress

The Savage Fortress 
by Sarwat Chadda

Book Description:
After three weeks of vacation, Ash Mistry is ready to leave the heat and dust of India behind him. Then he discovers a gleaming gold arrowhead hidden in the sands---a weapon used to defeat evil King Ravana in legend.

At least, Ash is pretty sure it's only a legend . . .

But when Lord Alexander Savage comes after Ash, the legends are suddenly way too real. Savage commands an army of monstrous shapechangers called rakshasas, who want only to seize the arrowhead and restore Ravana to power. As they hunt Ash through magnificent fortresses and brutal deserts, he must learn to work with a powerful rakshasa girl named Parvati, and find the strength within himself to fight on no matter what. Because this isn't just a battle to stop the end of the world. It's a battle to stop the end of reality as we know it.

No pressure.

I thought that the Indian Mythology that was the background for the story was really interesting.  I had a hard time, though, because I didn't really like Ash and I couldn't connect with him as the story went on.  I felt like he made bad choices a lot.  

I think some readers will really love the action in this book. It just wasn't the book for me. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Review: Relic

by Heather Terrrell
The Books of Eva, book one

Book Description:
When Eva’s twin brother, Eamon, falls to his death just a few months before he is due to participate in The Testing, no one expects Eva to take his place. She’s a Maiden, slated for embroidery classes, curtseys, and soon a prestigious marriage befitting the daughter of an Aerie ruler. But Eva insists on honoring her brother by becoming a Testor. After all, she wouldn’t be the first Maiden to Test, just the first in 150 years.

Eva knows the Testing is no dance class. Gallant Testors train for their entire lives to search icy wastelands for Relics: artifacts of the corrupt civilization that existed before The Healing drowned the world. Out in the Boundary Lands, Eva must rely on every moment of the lightning-quick training she received from Lukas—her servant, a Boundary native, and her closest friend now that Eamon is gone.

But there are threats in The Testing beyond what Lukas could have prepared her for. And no one could have imagined the danger Eva unleashes when she discovers a Relic that shakes the Aerie to its core.

This post-apocalyptic dystopia opens a new series that is both an exciting tale of self-discovery and one of great societal commentary. In Eva’s world the polar ice caps have melted and modern civilization was destroyed. Survivors turned to a simpler lifestyle, one more easily controlled by those in power. It's a cold world, both climatically and in temperament. Eva feels stifled and longs to learn more about her world, an opportunity she can't turn down once she decides to undertake The Testing.

Slowly, you get to piece together New North’s history as Eva uncovers startling revelations about her own hidden background. Deft world-building creates a believable society in an icy clime with a strong and well-rounded main character. Eva’s choices for the future left me anxious to see her tale continue in the series’ next installment. I found this to be a refreshing new addition to the dystopian field.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Mini Reviews: The First Graphic Edition

The Earl and the Fairy, volume 1
by Ayuko

Book Description:
Lydia Carlton is a fairy doctor,one of the few people with the ability to see the magical creatures who share our world. During one of her rare trips to London to visit her father, Lydia’s quiet life is suddenly transformed when she is rescued from kidnappers by a mysterious young man!

Edgar Ashenbert claims to be descended from the human ruler of the fairy kingdom, and he urgently needs Lydia’s help to find and claim his birthright, the legendary sword of the Blue Knight Earl. Things will never be the same for Lydia as she is pulled into a dangerous quest against dark forces!

Quick Review
Okay. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it either.  This one reads right to left which *always* throws me off, so I'm sure some of the problems I had were from that.  I got a little confused about some of the male characters motivations, too, but reading book two might help clear some of that up... 

by Ayun Halliday and Paul Hoppe 

Book Description
Before you write me off as a delusional psycho, think about what it's like to be thrown into a situation where everyone knows everyone... and no one knows you. Sadie has the perfect plan to snag some friends when she transfers to Plainfield High—pretend to have a peanut allergy. But what happens when you have to hand in that student health form your unsuspecting mom was supposed to fill out? And what if your new friends want to come over and your mom serves them snacks? (Peanut butter sandwich, anyone?) And then there's the bake sale, when your teacher thinks you ate a brownie with peanuts.

Quick Review
I loved the way this was drawn and I thought the story line was easy to follow.  I got really frustrated with Sadie, though. I hated her continuous lying and ended up really angry as I was reading. This one's also a book for high school and up due to some mature themes. 

The Year of Beasts
by Cecil Castellucci and Nate Powell 

Book Description
Every summer the trucks roll in, bringing the carnival and its infinite possibilities to town. This year Tessa and her younger sister Lulu are un-chaperoned and want to be first in line to experience the rides, the food . . . and the boys. Except this summer, jealousy will invade their relationship for the first time, setting in motion a course of events that can only end in tragedy, putting everyone's love and friendship to the test.

Quick Review
This book is half graphic novel, half regular prose.  I found it confusing at first because the two parts seem to follow very different stories and it's not until much later in the book that you realize how they intertwine.  Not my favorite book, but an interesting read. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Review: The Voyage of Lucy P. Simmons

The Voyage of Lucy P. Simmons
by Barbara Mariconda

Book Description:
Ever since her parents died, Lucy's house has magically awakened. An enchanted flute plays when danger is near. A sparkling mist unlocks drawers of family secrets. A mysterious woman named Marni arrives.

The magic helps Lucy keep her house out of the hands of her greedy Uncle Victor. As Lucy and Marni fight to stop Victor, Lucy makes unexpected friends and discovers the power of courage. But will it be enough to prevail in the face of her evil uncle? 

I liked this one a lot. It has a great atmosphere to it.  You could feel the magic in the air as the house responds to Lucy's wishes.  I felt really bad for Lucy as she lost her parents and had to deal with her greedy uncle.  I was extremely happy when she found Marni and her new friends.  Watching Lucy transform into a stronger, more confident girl was great and I can't wait to see where her adventures take her in following books. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Review: Never Say Die

Never Say Die 
by Will Hobbs

Book Description:
When the motto of your village is "never say die," you have a lot to live up to. . . .

At home in Canada's Arctic, Nick Thrasher is an accomplished Inuit hunter at fifteen. About to bring home a caribou for his ailing grandfather, Nick loses the meat to a fearsome creature never before seen in the wild. It's half grizzly, half polar bear. Experts will soon be calling it a "grolar bear."

Returning to his village, Nick receives a letter from the half brother he's never met. A former Grand Canyon river guide, Ryan Powers is now a famous wildlife photographer. He'll soon be coming to Nick's part of the world to raft the remote Firth River in search of huge herds of migrating caribou. Ryan also wants to learn what Inuit hunters are saying about climate change in the Arctic. He invites Nick to come along and help him find the caribou.

Barely down the river, disaster strikes. Nick and Ryan are both thrown into the freezing river and find themselves under a ceiling of solid ice. With nothing but the clothes on his back and the knife on his hip, Nick is up against it in a world of wolves, caribou, and grizzlies. All the while, the monstrous grolar bear stalks the land.

I actually enjoyed this book a lot. It was full of action and danger.  It was a book that made me look things up, but not like I was learning stuff in school, more like I was just so curious to see if the nature-related stuff was real or not.  This book made me think about how we're affecting the environment and how that will reflect back and affect us later on.  I liked how Nick stays true to his heritage, even as he thinks about the larger world.  This book was very different from what I normally read, but it was a good one! 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Review: I Represent Sean Rosen

I Represent Sean Rosen
by Jeff Baron

Book Description:
Sean Rosen knows what he wants. A ten-million-dollar deal with a big Hollywood studio. The only problem is, he's a kid. And he's busy with school. And he lives far from Los Angeles or New York City. But Sean does have a laptop and a phone, and he's smart. He's about to have the ride of a lifetime as he discovers the ins and outs—and dos and don'ts—of becoming one of the youngest movie moguls the world's ever known.

Funny at times, but ultimately not as good as I'd expected.  This book was a fairly quick read, but I didn't really feel enthusiastic at all once I'd read it.  Sean never really learns not to lie and doesn't have to face any real consequences for all of his deceptions... I kind of found that disappointing and unrealistic.  If you love books where you really see inside the character's head, you might like this one, but I don't think it'll be a hit with everyone. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Review: Red

by Alison Cherry

Book Description:
Felicity St. John has it all: loyal best friends, a hot guy, and artistic talent. And she’s right on track to win the Miss Scarlet pageant. Her perfect life is possible because of just one thing: her long, wavy, coppery red hair.

Having red hair is all that matters in Scarletville. Redheads hold all the power—and everybody knows it. That’s why Felicity is scared down to her roots when she receives an anonymous note:
I know your secret.

Because Felicity is a big fake. Her hair color comes straight out of a bottle. And if anyone discovered the truth, she’d be a social outcast faster than she could say strawberry blond. Her mother would disown her, her friends would shun her, and her boyfriend would dump her. And forget about winning that pageant crown and the prize money that comes with it—money that would allow her to fulfill her dream of going to art school.

Felicity isn’t about to let someone blackmail her life away. But just how far is she willing to go to protect her red cred? 

Cherry’s first novel may overtly seem to have a somewhat silly premise, but underneath the “ginger” focus, there is a really strong commentary on superficiality and social standing. I found myself questioning the distribution of power based on appearance and the lengths that desperate people will go to in order to protect their deepest secrets. Inner strength and self-acceptance are also strong themes that run throughout the book. While you might giggle your way through this fast-paced tale, you'll also find you've thought while reading it.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

United We Spy - Book Trailer

Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls series is finally coming to an end.
By now, you've read:


But are you ready for United We Spy??

Find out if Callie survives until graduation on September 17th!!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Review: Zebra Forest

Zebra Forest 
by Adina Rishe Gewirtz

Book Description:
When eleven-year-old Annie first started lying to her social worker, she had been taught by an expert: Gran. “If you’re going to do something, make sure you do it with excellence,” Gran would say. That was when Gran was feeling talkative, and not brooding for days in her room — as she did after telling Annie and her little brother, Rew, the one thing they know about their father: that he was killed in a fight with an angry man who was sent away. Annie and Rew spend their days under the birches and oaks of the Zebra Forest, telling stories about their father the pirate, or pilot, or secret agent. But then something shocking happens to unravel all their stories: a rattling at the back door, an escapee from the prison holding them hostage in their own home, four lives that will never be the same.

I had no idea originally if I was going to like this book or not.  I was very surprised that not only was it a super quick read... but, I also found myself unable to stop reading.  The story was a little far-fetched at first (though it tapped into my childhood fears that some random prisoner from a local jail would break into our house *exactly* like this one does...), but the way that Gewirtz writes is so emotionally compelling that I didn't care any more if the story seemed entirely plausible. 

Both Annie and Rew's reactions to their father's sudden reappearance in their lives felt absolutely real.  The intense resentment at having thought their father was dead, only to learn he'd been alive all that time and that they could have visited him.  The hope that maybe he'd been falsely imprisoned, though they really knew he was guilty. Their anger at their grandmother for lying to them, even as she was having trouble coping with reality.  

I really liked how the book ended, too.  Things were emotionally satisfying, but also realistic.  Well done. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Review: The Testing

The Testing 
by Joelle Charbonneau

Book Description:
It’s graduation day for sixteen-year-old Malencia Vale, and the entire Five Lakes Colony (the former Great Lakes) is celebrating. All Cia can think about—hope for—is whether she’ll be chosen for The Testing, a United Commonwealth program that selects the best and brightest new graduates to become possible leaders of the slowly revitalizing post-war civilization. When Cia is chosen, her father finally tells her about his own nightmarish half-memories of The Testing. Armed with his dire warnings (”Cia, trust no one”), she bravely heads off to Tosu City, far away from friends and family, perhaps forever. Danger, romance—and sheer terror—await.

If you devoured The Hunger Games and having been struggling to find something with just the same bite to it, look no further.  This is the book you've been waiting for... it is the closest I've come yet to the experience I had reading The Hunger Games. 

This book has the same danger, excitement, self-sacrifice, a hint of romance...and left me DESPERATE to get my hands on the second book.  I highly recommend this one. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Allegiant Poster Contest!

Aren't you excited?!


Fill out a raffle ticket at the desk in the Youth Room.
We’ll announce the winners on Mon. Sept. 16th.

Must be in grades 6 – 12.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Review: Colin Fischer

Colin Fischer 
by Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz

Book Description:
Colin Fischer cannot stand to be touched. He does not like the color blue. He needs index cards to recognize facial expressions.

But when a gun is found in the school cafeteria, interrupting a female classmate's birthday celebration, Colin is the only for the investigation. It's up to him to prove that Wayne Connelly, the school bully and Colin's frequent tormenter, didn't bring the gun to school. After all, Wayne didn't have frosting on his hands, and there was white chocolate frosting found on the grip of the smoking gun...

I thought this was an interesting mystery.  It's from the perspective of Colin, a boy with Asperger's Syndrome.  His highly analytic mind, coupled with a separation from emotions, makes him a brilliant investigator.  Like his idol, Sherlock Holmes, Colin knows that he can discover who actually brought the gun to school.  Along the way, he makes a highly unlikely friend and learns to acclimate to school and being social with his peers, maybe even finding a girlfriend... 

A quick read with a good mystery from a unique perspective.  

Monday, August 26, 2013

This is Not a Test

This is Not a Test 
by Courtney Summers

Book Description:
It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

Gritty and real, this zombie apocalypse survival story gripped me from start to finish.  Definitely for high school readers, as opposed to middle schoolers, there's a lot of very real mature things happening as these teens try to survive.  As a reader that prefers realism to a perfect happy ending, I very much enjoyed the fact that Sloane's story does not shy away from the horrors of a zombie "infestation." It would not have felt as authentic to me if Sloane suddenly became a perky rah-rah kind of girl and everyone survived. 

Happy ending hunters may not like what they find here...but, readers looking for a more true-to-(fictional)life experience will appreciate this compelling tale.  

Friday, August 23, 2013

Review: Insignia

by S. J. Kincaid

Book Description:
The earth is in the middle of WWIII. The planet’s natural resources are almost gone, and the war is being fought to control the assets of the solar system. The enemy is winning.

The salvation may be Tom Raines. Tom doesn’t seem like a hero. He’s a short fourteen-year-old with bad skin. But he has the virtual-reality gaming skills that make him a phenom behind the controls of the battle drones.

As a new member of the Intrasolar Forces, Tom’s life completely changes. Suddenly, he’s someone important. He has new opportunities, friends, and a shot at having a girlfriend. But there’s a price to pay...

Have you enjoyed books like Ender's Game, Epic, Feed, or Ready Player One?  Did you love the movie "Starship Troopers?"  Are you excited to see "Ender's Game" on the big screen this November?  Then this is another GREAT book choice for you!

This book may be on the longer side, but you would never know it once you start reading.  It is fast-paced and will totally suck you in.  I couldn't stop reading once I started!  The characters are interesting, the world is startling familiar, yet believably futuristic, and as soon as I finished I requested the second book.  

Video games. Giant fighting robots.  Evil corporations.  
Mind control.  Devoted friends.  

A winning combination. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Review: Siege and Storm

Siege and Storm 
by Leigh Bardugo
The Grisha Trilogy, book two

Book Description:
Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can't outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling's game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

A stellar second installment in this dark fantasy trilogy.  (Check out my review for book one, Shadow and Bone)  Again, Bardugo's world feels alive and real in a way some authors struggle to achieve.  The eastern European feeling is evident throughout and I still felt like I could just step into Alina's world and feel the Darkling's power threatening everyone. 

The shivers that I felt reading the first book were ramped up a notch and I found myself unable to stop reading as I dove deeper and deeper into Alina's desperate situation.  I loved that she was torn, unable to stop thirsting for power, but conscious that she must keep herself in check to save her people.  

I cannot wait to see how this darkly fascinating story ends. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Books I Can't Wait to Get My Hands on: September Edition

Here are some books being released in September that I can't wait to read!! 

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
Time travel to assassinate a loved one... 

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake
The ancient gods start fighting each other to survive.

The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White
A human daughter of the Egyptian gods... 

The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason
Sherlock's niece teams up with Bram Stoker's decendent 
to solve crimes.

Monsters and humans alike mix in walled "coldtowns." 

Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst
A girl chased by a magic-wielding serial killer must unravel her past. 

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Fan fiction and first love. 

A Radiant Sky by Jocelyn Davies
The final book in a trilogy about an angel caught in a heavenly war

The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman'
They call it "the killing day." Creepy!