Friday, August 31, 2012

"Tales of the Madman Underground" by John Barnes



Historical fiction, Realistic Fiction, Friendship

Ages 14+

544 pages





Karl Shoemaker is now one of my favorite characters. If I went to high school with him, I totally would have been all over that. His  dad is dead, his mom's an alcoholic, pothead, hippie that steals his money, and his teachers are jerks that force him into group therapy at school year after year. Karl works five jobs, takes care of the house, is kind of psychotic, and is a recovering alcoholic himself as well as his mother's enabler.

This book covers the span of only a few days in Karl's life, but the characters are so well-done and the Karl's voice so incredibly and unbelievably real that I knew this book was sure to change my life. Even though the story takes place in the 1970s, the story does not feel dated, and truly celebrates the way physically and emotionally abused kids and teenagers can lean on one another to overcome anything, and also how adults in their lives can do the simplest things to help them in the biggest ways.



Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You by Peter Cameron
Crazy by Han Nolan
Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

Happy Reading!

Friday, August 24, 2012

"Reality Check" by Peter Abrahams





















Mystery, Sports, Romance

Ages 13+

352 pages




Cody's girlfriend moves out of state to go to a boarding school and he breaks up with her. After sustaining an ACL injury playing football, Cody drops out of high school and get s a job. When he discovers that his ex-girlfriend has gone missing from her boarding school, he drives up there and tries to solve the mystery of what happened to her, all the while keeping his identity hidden.

While the plot of this book does indeed sound like an interesting mystery, the writing is poor and the characters are unrealistic and unlikeable. The author, Abrahams, typically writes books for adults, and the way this young adult novel reads, it feels like he was trying way to hard to dumb it down for the kiddos, while having mature plot points like sex and drinking alcohol.

There are much better teen mystery options than this book. Perhaps Mr. Abrahams should just stick with writing for grown ups.





The Interrogation of Gabriel James by Charlie Price
Boot Camp by Todd Strasser
Blank Confession by Pete Hautman

Happy Reading!

Monday, August 20, 2012

"Code Name Verity" by Elizabeth Wein




















Historical fiction, Friendship, Espionage

Ages 14+

352 pages





The plot of this book is hard to explain, as the character's names change with their missions, and to give you their real names would be to give away important parts of the story.

Overall, this is the story of two amazing girls who manage to make their way into the British Royal Air Force. Over the years, the two of them become best friends, but don't often work together.

One night they find themselves together in a plane, which is fired upon by Nazi forces. One girl parachutes out and is captured by Nazis, while the other girl crashes the plane and is taken in by the Resistance.

You get to read both girls' tales from their own points of view, but it's winding and twisty, and it's hard to tell what the truth is.

Kiss me Hardy! (You'll get that if you read it!)



In Darkness by Nick Lake
All Woman and Springtime by Brandon W. Jones
Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli

Happy Reading!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

"The Lightning Thief" by Rick Riordan

Fantasy, Mythology

375 pages

Ages 10+





Percy Jackson is the son of Poseidon. He is also dyslexic and had ADHD.

Strange things have always happened to him throughout his life.

He eventually learns that he is a demi-god and that the Greek myths are not myths at all.

Percy and his friends venture into the Underworld and Olympus to return items stolen in order to start World War III.


The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"All the Broken Pieces" by Anne E. Burg


Historical Fiction, Novel in Verse

224 pages

Ages 11+



Matt Pim is a 12-year-old  half Vietnamese boy who was rescued from war-torn Vietnam after the war. He was adopted by an American family at 10.

This novel in verse is Matt's story of trying to remember his past in Vietnam, his baby brother, and his birth mother.

My Assessment:

I read this book as assigned reading but I thought it was pretty good. I would not have liked it when i was 12, but I think it would be a great book for a teacher to assign along with The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien for high school seniors.

If you like reading memoirs or historical fiction about children who overcome adversity and violence, you would likely enjoy this book.



A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
The Breadwinner Trilogy by Deborah Ellis

Happy Reading!

Monday, August 13, 2012

"The Infernal Devices" by Cassandra Clare

I just finished reading The Clockwork Angel and The Clockwork Prince, the first two in a planned trilogy by Cassandra Clare. The Clockwork Princess, the final installment, will be released on March 19, 2013.

These two books impressed me quite a bit. I would have to say that Cassandra Clare is now one of my favorite authors. I read the first three books of her first series, The Mortal Instruments, and plan on reading the fourth and fifth novels, which have already been published, and the final novel in the series, City of Heavenly Fire, which is planned for publication in March 2014.

The Infernal Devices trilogy is a prequel to The Mortal Instruments series. Devices is a fantasy/steampunk story set in the late 1800s of London. Instruments is an urban fantasy series set in modern-day New York City. Devices might be a harder sell to teens who are sickened by anything "historical" or "old," but they might feel inclined to read it if they have already been hooked in by Instruments.

Okay, so, The Infernal Devices trilogy is about a 16-year-old girl, Tessa, who has just found out that she has the magical ability to transform into any person, so long as she can touch something that once belonged to them. Once she transforms into someone one time, she can then transform into the person at will without touching one of their belongings. This talent makes Tessa an extremely valuable tool (weapon?!), because not only can she become any other person physically, she can also access their thoughts and feelings while she is transformed.

Of course, there is a romantic element in this series, which really kept me reading. There is Will, the brooding, emotionally-marred, witty one that can't seem to decide whether he loves or hates Tessa, and Jem, the thoughtful, caring, but physically ailing one, who at first seems to be only a friend for Tessa. As usual we have the "who do I really love" and "who really loves me" story, but Clare is a better storyteller than that, and fleshes out the story with amazing characters and a twisting plot that keeps you turning the pages.

I'm so excited to read The Clockwork Princess when it comes out, but in the meantime I have lots of books to read for class, for various practicum events, and other stuff!

The Clockwork Angel book trailer:

Happy Reading!

Friday, July 6, 2012

"Bridge to Terabithia" by Katherine Paterson

Realistic Fiction, Friendship, Loss

163 pages

Ages 10+


Jess becomes friends with Leslie, the girl who moves in next door. 

The two of them create another world, Terabithia, in the woods behind their houses. 

In Terabithia, the two of them are royalty. 

Leslie teaches Jess how to be brave. 

When Leslie is gone, Jess is left to rebuild Terabithia, which is not the same without its queen.


Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

"Princess Academy" by Shannon Hale

Fantasy, Royalty

314 pages

Ages 10+


Miri is a 14-year-old girl from Mount Eskel. She lives with her father and her 18-year-old sister.

Her sister works in the quarry with her father and Miri does the house work because she is too small to work in the quarry.

One day men arrive from the lowlands where the king lives and announces that all of the girls ages 12-17 will be taken to the Princess Academy where they will learn to be proper ladies.

A year later, the prince will come and choose one of them to be his future wife. The girls are treated very harshly by their teacher, but forge great friendships.

The prince chooses Miri's friend, and Miri returns to Mount Eskel where she plans to start a school to teach everyone in her village to read.


Twelve Dancing Princesses Series by Jessica Day George
The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine
Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris

Happy Reading!

Monday, June 18, 2012

"Ella Enchanted" by Gail Carson Levine

Fantasy, Fairy Tale

232 pages

Ages 8+



In the tradition of Cinderella, Ella is the daughter of a widower who has lost all of his riches.

In order to better his social position, her father marries a woman with two evil daughters.

He leaves Ella with them while he tries to regain his wealth and she is left to be their house slave.

Unfortunately, at birth Ella was cursed by a fairy to be forever and always obedient.


Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Mira, Mirror by Mette Harrison
Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

"The Invention of Hugo Cabret" by Brian Selznick

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Steam punk, Illustrated novel

533 pages

Ages 9+


Hugo Cabret, a 12-year-old orphan boy spends his days winding the clocks in a 1930s Paris train station and attempting to fix the one thing he has left of his father--a broken automaton.

Hugo befriends a girl, Isabelle, whose godfather owns the toy booth in the train station where Hugo has been stealing parts to fix the automaton.

Along the way, Hugo and Isabelle learn that Isabelle's godfather is one of the most famous original filmmakers and that Hugo's automaton was the old man's invention.

Once Hugo repairs the machine, he discovers that the key Isabelle wears around her neck would fit its key hole.

The two of them activate the automaton, and it draws a magnificent picture of a scene from Hugo's late father's favorite film, made by Isabelle's godfather.



Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
The Iron Giant by Ted Hughes
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Coming up next:

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Happy Reading! <3

Thursday, June 7, 2012

"Found: The Missing, Book 1" by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Found: The Missing, Book 1 by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Mystery, Time Travel

320 pages

Ages 8+


Jonah has known his whole life that he was adopted as a baby. His friend Chip just found out he was also adopted as a baby.

The two of them begin receiving mysterious messages about the circumstances of their adoptions.

Jonah and Chip learn that they were plucked from the past by time traveling humanitarians and given up for adoption to 21st century families.

In the end, the boys, along with Jonah's sister and another time travel adoptee, get catapulted to the 15th century.


Unwind by Neal Schusterman
The 39 Clues Series by various authors
Tunnels by Roderick Gordon

Coming up next:

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Happy Reading! <3

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"Crow" by Barbara Wright

Crow by Barbara Wright

Historical fiction

304 pages

Ages 10+



Moses Thomas is a 12-year-old African-American boy living with his family in 1898 Wilmington, NC. More than a half century after emancipation, blacks and whites have been coexisting in Wilmington fairly peacefully.

However, when the editor of the black newspaper writes an editorial suggesting that white woman can be attracted to black men, the white supremacist Red Shirt militia rises up and takes the city by force, shooting and stabbing black men and setting fire to black businesses.

Moses is forced into the realization that the fair world his father tried to create for him does not yet exist, and that in the face of hatred, logic and reason mean nothing.


Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood
The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

Coming up next:

Found: The Missing, Book 1 by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Happy Reading! <3

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Best of the Best...FAIL!

So, I tried, not very valiantly, to complete the Best of the Best challenge. However, my MLIS coursework proved to be more time-consuming that had initially thought. Oops! New plan...

I am going to review here all of the teen and children's books I read. I may throw in a few adult books every now and again if I feel they may be of interest to teens, or if I just find them super awesome!

At least I'm not the only failure...

Happy Reading! <3

Saturday, April 21, 2012

"How to Save a Life" by Sara Zarr

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr is the story of two teen girls, a 17-year-old and an 18-year-old, who, though very different in terms of their personalities, beliefs, and life experiences, find a way to fit into each other's lives after being forced together.

Jill has been raised by her mom and dad, who are wealthy and educated and live in a prosperous neighborhood in Colorado. The story begins one year after Jill's father died in a car accident. Jill's mother, seeking to give her love to another decides to adopt a baby from a pregnant teenager.

Mandy has been raised by a mother that never wanted her and a long string of her mother's boyfriends. At 18, Mandy discovers she is pregnant, and seeking to give her unborn child a better future than her own, takes a train to Denver to meet a widow looking to adopt her baby. The struggles that both girls face are realistically portrayed and both elicit sympathy from the reader--Mandy especially.

The parallel stories of a girl who lost her perfect father and a girl who never had one to lose, and how the two of them could find a new family in each other.

How to Save a Life reminds me of:

Dawson's Creek's Jen Lindley played by Michelle Williams

This is not the greatest video, and you should all watch every season of Dawson's Creek for a full understanding of the enigma that is Jen Lindley, but how awesome is it that this video is set to the song, "How to Save a Life," by The Fray?

This one's better!

Jack telling Jen that she is his "soul mate" can only be truly appreciated by those who watched every episode of this show...

Where the Heart Is: A pregnant 17-year-old rebuilds her life after being abandoned by her boyfriend at a Wal-Mart. Based on the the book Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts.

Trailer provided by Video Detective

Next review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor


Happy reading! <3

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"Shine" by Lauren Myracle

Shine by Lauren Myracle was like an indie drama where Matthew Shepard meets Appalachia country meets depression-era feminist literature meets Southern mystery. The multiple plot points dealing with sexual orientation, small town politics, rape, meth use and addiction, family, parentlessness, and the struggles of young people in the Appalachian region come together to create an environment that seems both foreign and familiar. The story has a ghostly sadness to it, but it is also full of hope.

Things Shine reminds me of:

The Girl by Meridel Le Sueur

Matthew Shepard

Hounddog starring Dakota Fanning 

HOUNDDOG: Movie Trailer. Watch more top selected videos about: Movie Trailers, Afemo Omilami

Undertow starring Jamie Bell 

Next review: How to Save a Life by Sarah Zarr

Happy reading! <3

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Best of the Best

I've been thinking a lot about what I'm going to write for my first blog entry and what I'm going to write about for all of the following blog entries. While perusing YALSA's blog The Hub, I came across a posting with information about YALSA's 2012 Best of the BestReading Challenge.

Challenge objective: Read/listen to 25 of the 80 titles on YALSA’s 2012 Best of the Best list to finish the challenge. Bonus objective: read/listen to all 80 titles to conquer the challenge.

To register for this challenge, you just have to leave a comment on The Hub's post, here: Best of the Best Challenge

The real challenge: Where to begin?!

Hmmm...perhaps with Lauren Myracle's Shine, one of the Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults 

I'll keep you all updated along the way, providing reviews and other related stuff that I find amusing and/or interesting.

Happy reading! <3