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.