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!