Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Fourteenth Goldfish

The Fourteenth Goldfish
by Jennifer L. Holm

Hardcover, 208 pages
Published August 26th 2014 by Random House Books for Young Readers

Wow, you never know what you're going to get with a novel by Holm. Every single one is so different from the rest. It is awesome. Kind of like opening a present on your birthday or Christmas - you know it's likely something good and something you want - you just don't know if it's going to be warm and cozy or fun to play with. This venture into the sci-fi realm was pretty fun. Ellie's grandfather has discovered how to reverse aging and of course tests it on himself. As a result he gets banished from his own lab because no one recognizes him. He ends up moving in with Ellie and her mother (his daughter). This proves a little awkward as he is now physically and hormonally, a teenage boy with the tastes, humor and personality of a grouchy old man. Trust me, this is not an ideal combination. As the familial relationships are tested in a variety of ways, each individual learns a lot about themselves and their relatives.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Pranks and Attacks!

Pranks and Attacks!
Tao: The Little Samurai #1
by Laurent Richard
illustrated by Nicolas Ryser
Hardcover, 63 pages
Published January 1st 2014 by Graphic Universe 
 
 
Tao is an energetic (sometimes) little guy at samurai school. He causes all sorts of mayhem and laughter as he interacts with his fellows students and instructors. His antics are somewhat reminiscent of Dennis the Menace. Despite the setting of a samurai school, the situations he gets himself into will resonate with many young readers. Each page is it's own little vignette of Tao's life. They start with a wise samurai adage that illustrates Tao's personality perfectly. The illustrations are a perfect fit and will entertain readers of all ages. Young fans of Big Nate and Diary of a Wimpy Kid will appreciate these volumes as well.

Jack the Castaway

Jack the Castaway
The Berenson Schemes #1
by Lisa Doan
Hardcover, 140 pages
Published April 1st 2014 by Lerner Classroom
For years, Jack Berenson's parents have flitted about the world trying one get-rich-quick scheme after another. Jack was quite content to live a peaceful and stationary life with his aunt. Unfortunately she died and Jack's parents made the decision to reclaim him before moving onto their next venture - a snorkeling business in the Caribbean. Without any other options Jack tries to make the best of his situation and keep himself and his parents safe. However, that is quite difficult as his parents have no concept of rules and safety. As a result, Jack ends up stranded on a deserted island. He uses his smarts to make a shelter, find food and water and even friends of a sort. The big question is, will his parents find and use their smarts to retrieve their one and only son?
This series opener is a fast and fun read for kids around 3rd grade. The black and white illustrations well-done and add to the quirkiness of the story.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Locker Ate Lucy!



The Locker Ate Lucy!
Eerie Elementary #2
by Jack Chabert
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published August 26th 2014 by Scholastic Inc. 
 
 
Hall monitor, Sam Graves, is back to save the day once again! His school is aptly named, Eerie Elementary. It is living up to its name by wreaking havoc every chance it can. Sam's friends Lucy and Antonio are determined to help Sam in his daily battle to keep the students safe. Then Lucy is swallowed by her locker and the boys have to venture into the depths of the school to find her. While there they just might uncover the secret to the school's mysteriously creepy soul. This is a perfect choice for those 2nd and 3rd graders that think they love scary books, but aren't ready for truly frightening tales.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Always, Abigail

Always, Abigail
by Nancy J. Cavanaugh

Hardcover, 314 pages
Published August 5th 2014 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Abigail and her two BFFs are set to realize their life-long dream of being middle school Pom Girls. Up to this point everything they have done was with the dream of pom squad in their heads. Then the unthinkable happens and Abigail is in a different homeroom than the other two. In fact she doesn't have a single class with them, not even lunch. This causes their friendship to be strained as there are secret jokes that AlliCam share, leaving Abigail on the outside. To make matters worse, the dreaded horror of a teacher, Miss Hendrick, creates an assignment where the students have to write "friendly" letters to a partner that she assigns them. Of course, Abigail gets partnered with the most outcast girl in the entire school. Being associated with Gabby is not going to help her already lagging reputation. Always, Abigail presents a fairly realistic view of the roller coaster that is middle school. The format is super reader friendly and will engage many readers with all the lists, diary entries, and doodles. Fans of Dork Diaries will be sure to enjoy this new book that hopefully will become a series.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Ick! Yuck! Eew!

Ick! Yuck! Eew!
Our Gross American History
by Lois Miner Huey

Hardcover, 48 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Millbrook Press

Many kids learn to love history by focusing on the grosser things that have happened. I see this all the time in the library I work at. This book is perfect for them, showing a vivid picture of how life was in our early years as a country. Whether it's the lack of indoor plumbing or personal hygiene conveniences, we had kind of a smelly history. Bugs thrived in peoples hair - real or fake and leeches were a common medical cure. Anyone reading this book is bound to gain a greater appreciation for all of the modern privileges and technology we now enjoy.

Before the World Was Ready

Before the World was Ready
Stories of Daring Genius in Science
by Claire Eamer
art by Sa Boothroyd
Hardcover, 125 pages
Published July 11th 2013 by Annick Press 
 
This is a fun group biography of people who were ahead of their time when it came to ideas of how things work or should work. Though their peers may have thought them crazy, we today know that they were brilliant and contributed greatly to our current society. The format is like that of a chapter book. The sections are short and accompanied by cartoon-style illustrations. The reader will not only learn about the great thinkers themselves but how the world and society has changed over the years. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Burn Out

Burn Out
by Kristi Helvig
ebook, 272 pages
Published April 8th 2014 by EgmontUSA 
 
From Goodreads.com:
  Most people want to save the world; seventeen-year-old Tora Reynolds just wants to get the hell off of it. One of the last survivors in Earth's final years, Tora yearns to escape the wasteland her planet has become after the sun turns "red giant," but discovers her fellow survivors are even deadlier than the hostile environment.

Holed up in an underground shelter, Tora is alone--her brilliant scientist father murdered, her mother and sister burned to death. She dreams of living on a planet with oceans, plants, and animals. Unfortunately, the oceans dried out ages ago, the only plants are giant cacti with deadly spines, and her pet, Trigger, is a gun--one of the bio-energetic weapons her father created for the government before his conscience kicked in.

When family friend, Markus, arrives with mercenaries to take the weapons by force, Tora's fury turns to fear when government ships descend in an attempt to kill them all. She forges an unlikely alliance with Markus and his rag-tag group of raiders, including a smart but quiet soldier named James. Tora must quickly figure out who she can trust, as she must choose between saving herself by giving up the guns or honoring her father's request to save humanity from the most lethal weapons in existence.
 
My thoughts:
 I liked this, I think. It was strange and an odd setting, mostly in an underground shelter. The end was fairly abrupt, so I am sure there will be another one. I just don't know yet if I will read it or not.

A Snicker of Magic

A Snicker of Magic
by Natalie Lloyd

Hardcover, 320 pages
Published February 25th 2014 by Scholastic Press 
From Goodreads.com:
  Midnight Gulch used to be a magical place, a town where people could sing up thunderstorms and dance up sunflowers. But that was long ago, before a curse drove the magic away. Twelve-year-old Felicity knows all about things like that; her nomadic mother is cursed with a wandering heart.

But when she arrives in Midnight Gulch, Felicity thinks her luck's about to change. A "word collector," Felicity sees words everywhere---shining above strangers, tucked into church eves, and tangled up her dog's floppy ears---but Midnight Gulch is the first place she's ever seen the word "home." And then there's Jonah, a mysterious, spiky-haired do-gooder who shimmers with words Felicity's never seen before, words that make Felicity's heart beat a little faster.

Felicity wants to stay in Midnight Gulch more than anything, but first, she'll need to figure out how to bring back the magic, breaking the spell that's been cast over the town . . . and her mother's broken heart.
My thoughts:
I thought I had written my review a long time ago for this book. But I can't find it and it has been long enough since I read it that I don't remember the details, thus the copy and paste from goodreads. However, I do remember that I loved this book. I was lucky enough to not only get an e-galley from NetGalley, but I also received a print ARC from the publisher. I had so much fun reading this book and I am always able to give it to readers that come in my library. Seriously, who can resist that cover?! 

Ava and Pip

Ava and Pip
by Carol Weston

Hardcover, 211 pages
Published March 4th 2014 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Ava and Pip are two very different sisters from an extremely "word nerd" family. Obviously, their parents particularly love anything palindromic, but other word play is often heard around their dinner table. Ava is the younger of the two and also more outgoing and social than her older, more emotional sister, Pip. Despite their differences they do love each other even if they don't always get along. Shy Pip, decides to throw a birthday party but her plans are thwarted by a new girl in town who happens to unknowingly throw an even bigger party the same night. Ava decides to take her writing skills and get revenge on Bea, the new girl and cause of Pip's latest emotional stress. Ava writes a story that thinly veils her animosity towards Bea. There are surprisingly results all around when everyone finds out the truth behind Ava's award-winning short story.  This is a wonderful book for girls in upper elementary and middle school. The characters are real in their emotions and actions with family and friends. I won't be surprised if I hear this title in the upcoming Newbery buzz.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Body in the Woods

The Body in the Woods
A Point Last Seen Mystery
by April Henry
Hardcover, 263 pages
Published June 17th 2014 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The three main characters are all quite unique, yet they have a certain dynamic that makes them interesting and even entertaining to read about. Ruby's obsession with patterns, especially in a crime setting make her a little hard to be friends with. Nick has his own obsession with living up to the memory of his Iraqi-war-hero of a dad. Then there's Alexis, who's only real obsession is keeping her mother's condition a secret from everyone. As new volunteers with Portland's Search and Rescue, they are kind of thrown together. When they respond to a search for an autistic man, they find a body instead. For a variety of personal reasons, they have a hard time just sitting back and letting the police track down the murderer. As they uncover evidence will the detective in charge listen to them or will it be a case of "The Boy (or girl) Who Cried Wolf"?
A fun, and clean, young adult murder mystery series with engaging and likeable characters.

The Dream Thieves


The Dream Thieves
by Maggie Stiefvater

Hardcover, 439 pages
Published September 17th 2013 by Scholastic Press

I don't think I have ever felt such a discrepancy between how much I liked the first and second books of a series. I don't know if the difference was that I read the print copy of the first and listened to the audio of this one. I stuck with it though, which is saying something as I really didn't like it. I am not sure I would have stuck with a print copy. I feel like I was on some bizarre drug-induced trip while listening to it - it was that random and scattered. Or maybe if I had been tripping I would have enjoyed it better?! I have said it a million times and I am going to say it again - if movies, video games, comic books, and TV shows all need ratings - why not books? That way the reader (or parent of the reader) might have an idea of what they are getting into before it starts. This book had an excessive amount of bad words - words that aren't allowed in a PG-13 movie so why so abundant in a teen book? I don't remember that being a problem in the first book, though I tend to be able to ignore it more easily when printed as opposed to being constantly voiced aloud through my earbuds. The characters frequently were taking drugs and other adult situations were mentioned. Up until this point I have loved everything by Stiefvater. I don't know if I will be back for any more of this series.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Coming of Age

A Coming of Age
by Timothy Zahn

Mass Market Paperback, 294 pages
Published July 1st 1986 by Baen Books (first published 1984) 
I received a free copy via NetGalley

First, I want to talk covers. I was super excited when I saw this available on NetGalley as I 
thought it was a new book from Zahn. I had no idea it was a reissue of an earlier book.
 The above cover is for the Kindle edition. Then as I was telling my husband about it, 
he said he had a paperback of it and it had this cover:
That image is from Goodreads, sorry it is blurry. But I really didn't like this cover either. Then I noticed this cover on Goodreads and I think I like it best of all three.
Now here is a summary of the story from Goodreads:
The first colonists to reach Tigris thought they had found Eden... but the planet had a horrifying effect on their children. Babies born there developed frightening telekinetic powers at the age of five. No one could control them -- and as the changelings grew and became aware of their abilities they initiated a bloodbath of chaos and violence that nearly destroyed the planet.

Two centuries after the Lost Generation, Tigrins have learned to cope with their strange planet and its effects. But a new threat is rising. In secret a medical researcher is experimenting with the TK ability. His guinea pigs are stolen children; his object, to extend their powers past adolescence and into adulthood. If he succeeds, Tigris faces disintegration.


I can't really add much to it as it has been quite awhile since I read it. I did enjoy it and think teens today will appreciate the story. However a better cover would do wonders to sell it.
 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Game On

Game On
Max Flash: Mission 1
by Jonny Zucker
illustrated by Ned Woodman
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published November 1st 2013 by Darby Creek Publishing
I received a free e-galley via NetGalley.

As a double-jointed son of magicians it is only natural that Max becomes part of the act with his escape abilities. He is a little surprised when he finds out his parents have an underground headquarters where they act as secret agents for an even more top secret agency, the DFEA. Max is now being asked to become an agent as well and is ready to head out on his first mission. He gets to battle monsters, race cars and live in the virtual world of computer games (think Tron) as he hunts down a rogue bad guy from a new game. Armed with awesome gadgets and his own unique abilities Max is the perfect kid for the job. This is the first in an action-packed intermediate series that will entertain readers, particularly boys, in the 2nd grade on up. This will also be a great choice for older but reluctant readers. The black and white illustrations throughout are well-done and add a graphic novel feel to the story.

Super Schnoz and the Gates of Smell

Super Schnoz and the Gates of Smell
by Gary Urey
illustrated by Ethan Long
Hardcover, 156 pages
Published September 1st 2013 by Albert Whitman & Company
I received a free e-galley via NetGalley. I also received a free galley from the publisher via a giveaway.

Andy Whiffler has always stood out in a crowd. He has often been teased and ridiculed by his peers. All because he was born with a gigantic nose. Andy doesn't really mind, because thanks to his gigantic nose he has a fabulous sense of smell. He collects smells of all kinds, even those disgusting ones that no one else wants to be around. When his school, appropriately named James F. Durante Elementary School, is shut-down due to some kind of toxic spill, Andy and his friends form a super-team to find out what is really going on. Andy embraces his enormous honker and discovers it has the ability to make him fly. Now known as Super Schnoz, he goes where no other kid can go to get to the bottom of the icky smell. Oh yeah, he might do a little sneezing to battle the evil group of fiends that is trying to take over the world one polluted city at a time!

The Show Must Go On!

The Show Must Go On!
Three-Ring Rascals Book 1
by Kate Klise
illustrated by M. Sarah Klise
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published September 10th 2013 by Algonquin Young Readers 
I received a free e-galley via NetGalley

When Sir Sidney begins contemplating retirement from circus life he advertises for someone else to take his place. After interviewing numerous potential ringmasters he meets Mr. Barnabas Brambles who seems like the ideal candidate. As a test, Sir Sidney takes a week's vacation leaving Mr. Brambles in charge. He is given the circus schedule and specific instructions on how to care for Sir Sidney's beloved animals. Once he is on his own, Mr. Brambles starts doing things his own way which is a lot different from what he was told to do. Will Gert and Bert, the circus mice, be able to do anything to stop Mr. Bramble's greedy ways? This adorable new series by the sister team of Kate and Sarah Klise is sure to entertain readers in the 2nd grade on up!

Spit Feathers

Spit Feathers
The Lobster Chronicles #3
by Jessica Scott kerrin
Hardcover, 140 pages
Published August 1st 2013 by Kids Can Press 
I received a free e-galley via NetGalley
 
From Goodreads.com:
Ferguson is trying to help his grandfather figure out his legacy. His grandfather doesn't want to have any regrets, like his old friend McDermit, who famously caught a giant lobster but regretted not returning it to sea. So when another giant lobster is caught in their fishing community and put up for auction, Ferguson cooks up a plan with his grandfather to bid on the lobster and set it free. Will this be his grandfather's legacy or will the town's richest man ruin everything? Spit Feathers is the third book in The Lobster Chronicles, a trilogy about how life changes for three boys in a small coastal town when a giant lobster is caught. Each book describes the same events through a different boy's eyes, making for three suspenseful, believable stories and an engrossing reading experience.
 
My Review:
I have not read the first two - I actually thought they were about talking lobsters, from the covers and the title. For some reason I decided to read this one from NetGalley. I enjoyed it. A sweet story of a grandfather/grandson relationship and how it affects the boys daily life and friendships. This would be a good realistic fiction book for boys 2nd grade and up. 

Waluk

Waluk
by Emilio Ruiz
Illustrations by Ana Miralles
Hardcover, 52 pages
Published November 1st 2013 by Graphic Universe (first published January 1st 2013)  
I received a free e-galley via NetGalley

Waluk is a young polar bear cub who feels abandoned by his mother. He sets off on his own to find some food. Not knowing how nor being quite strong enough to hunt on his own he decides to steal bird eggs. Eventually he encounters a fellow loner who is on the other end of the lifespan. Manitok is an old bear who is getting thin and losing his teeth so he is no longer the best hunter. Together the two explore their dwindling habitat looking for food and encountering humans at various times. This graphic novel isn't about a cute and cuddly little polar bear - though he is cute. It is about polar bears trying to survive in a melting world where humans - both good and bad - are around every corner. The illustrations are gorgeous! Readers will learn a great deal about these creatures as they read the well-illustrated story.

Inhuman



Inhuman
by Kat Falls

ebook, 276 pages
Published September 24th 2013 by Scholastic, Inc. 
Received free e-galley via NetGalley
First off, fabulous cover! (Both of them, though the first is the one I saw on my kindle when I read the book). This book is perfect for today's teens (and adults) who love futuristic dystopian post-apocalyptic action! Kat Falls does a fabulous job of creating a world that brings to mind many other fictional worlds, but is all her own at the same time. Lane finds the East full of not just survivors and infecteds of the plague, but also strange creatures that are reminiscent of the infamous and macabre, Dr. Moreau. Seeking out her father becomes more than a personal quest as she gets to know the people who are living where she thought no humans could live. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Bed for Fred

A Bed for Fred
by Lori Zoss
illustrated by Cheri Polk

Hardcover, 24 pages
Published November 16th 2013 by Hugo House Publishers
Fred has outgrown his lovely red bed. His dad wants to surprise him with a brand new big-dog bed. However, when Fred can't find his bed or his Dad, he grows worried and begins searching everywhere for them. His friends try to help him by showing him what they think of as good sleeping places - the cricket discovers a pile of leaves and the frog spies a log. Yet it is the wise old owl that helps Fred settle down and return home where his father is waiting with the surprise.
This is a cute, rhyming picture book about the big step from a baby bed to a big-kid bed. The illustrations are pleasant and the story fun. However, some of the rhymes seem a tad awkward and forced. Overall it gets the point across in a sweet way.

I received an e-galley via NetGalley.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Playing Dead

Playing Dead
Zombie Kid Diaries #1
by Fred Perry and David Hutchison
Paperback, 128 pages
Published July 3rd 2012 by Antarctic Press

An obvious parody of the popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid books with thinly veiled nods to Pokemon and various video games. However, I liked it more than I thought I would. Considering I am not much of a zombie fan, this is the second book in that genre I have read in the past couple weeks. (I liked Zombie Baseball Beatdown more). Bill has a rather unfortunate life made even more so by some of his mother's questionable cooking. Despite his new zombieness, Bill continues to do his regular things like going to school and doing just enough homework to keep a B-/C+ average then spending his free time mastering video games. He is in middle school now so there are all sorts of kids to deal with, including bullies, of course. This format will be popular for reluctant readers (mostly boys) who like humor and kind of gross zombie things.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Tesla's Attic

Tesla's Attic
Neal Shusterman and Eric Elfman

Hardcover, 256 pages
Published February 11th 2014 by Disney-Hyperion 
 
 
Nick moves with his family into his great-aunt's old house. He knows things are off to a rough start when a toaster falls from the attic and leaves him with stitches. He immediately decides to have a yard sale to clean all the junk out of the upstairs so he can have his bedroom there. The yard sale ends up being wildly successful and opens up a crazy world of adventure for Nick and his new friends. Danger comes from unexpected places and a secret society wants the terrible toaster along with other random household items he disposed of. What is the connection between everything and how will he handle everything? Shusterman's new series is a fun science fiction adventure with humor, drama, and mystery. A great choice for kids 5th grade and up.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Gated

Gated
by Amy Christine Parker

Hardcover, 352 pages
Published August 6th 2013 by Random House Books for Young Readers 
 
So apparently a newish sub-genre of the ever popular young adult dystopians is the teen finding out they are actually part of a cult when they thought they were the normal "saved" ones that were going to survive the end of days. The Compound by S. A. Bodeen is a great example of this. Another recent title is Escape from Eden by Elisa Nader. I didn't really know what this book, Gated, was about going into it. So I will not say much here other than the above to ruin it for anyone else wanting to read it. I think if I had known more going in it might not have been as intense and exciting of a read. I like that it is a complete novel and hopefully there won't be another one, but knowing the current trends, there probably will be:(

A Bag of Marbles: The Graphic Novel

a bag of marbles
by Joseph Joffo and Vincent Bailly

Paperback, 128 pages
Published August 1st 2013 by Graphic Universe

This is a graphic novel memoir based on the bestselling true story of Joseph Jaffo. It follows the boys over a lengthy period as their life in Paris changed due to the war around them and the infiltration of Nazi soldiers. As Jews they were being persecuted, though they were pretty much too young to fully understand. So when the two boys are sent on a journey to get to a free zone and find their elder brothers, they see it as kind of a game. Eventually reality hits and they grow up. I liked the way this was portrayed as I think it will appeal to middle-school and older aged kids. Particularly boys who may be reluctant to read, especially historical fiction or biography, will be drawn to this format and be able to learn from such an accessible graphic novel. The artwork was decent, but sometimes the faces were a little too skewed and were a bit creepy to me.  

Strange Foods

Strange Foods
by Michael J. Rosen
Library, 32 pages
Published August 1st 2013 by Lerner Publishing Group

From Goodreads:
You might think anchovies and fruitcake are pretty weird foods. But wait until you hear about durian, a huge, spiky fruit that smells like gym socks. Or salmiakki, the licorice with a salty, fishy taste. And don’t forget kopi luwak, the coffee made from…poop! Discover all kinds of unusual foods from around the world!

My Thoughts:
The gross-factor will always attract readers - particularly young yet reluctant readers. Strange Foods is full of funny illustrations as well as photos of some of the most bizarre things that people eat around the world. The presentation is attractive and will find an audience with many kids. 

Welcome to the Tribe!

Welcome to the Tribe!
Tub & Tumtum #1
by Flora Grimaldi and Bannister
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Graphic Universe

Tib finds a smallish red dinosaur but no one in his village believes him. All the grown-ups say dinosaurs disappeared a long time ago and all the kids just like to tease Tib about the birthmark on his face. Tib makes friends with Tumtum anyhow all the while trying to get others to see him. When the village is threatened by an unknown yet vicious predator, the hunters think maybe Tib did see a dinosaur and off they go to hunt him down. Tib, of course, must save his friend and the result of the hunt might surprise you a little. This is a fun little graphic novel for kids (1st-3rd graders will probably appreciate it the most).

Eve & Adam

Eve & Adam
by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate

Hardcover, 291 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Feiwel & Friends

Evening Spiker was hit by a car and seriously injured. Her mother, the powerful and intimidating, Terra Spiker, is ruthless in getting Evening immeditatly moved from the ER to the private hospital at her own research complex. At first Evening thinks this happened just because her mother likes to control everything. With the help of a mysterious boy named Solo, Evening soon realizes her mother has all sorts of secrets to hide and Evening is one of them. Her mother gives Evening a project to work on - create the perfect boy. Thinking it just a game she proceeds to make her dream guy. It's only after lots of drama and some action that Evening realizes her creations, Adam, is just another of her mom's secrets.
I liked some parts of this novel. Solo, I definitely liked. Evening, not so much. I know she was just in a serious accident, but she is pretty dense most of the time. I was not a huge fan of her best friend either - another clueless girl with an even stupider boyfriend who causes all sorts of problems. Nothing super fantastic but kind of a fun read for teens who like simple sci-fi with some romance and a little mystery.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Defy

Defy
by Sara B. Larson

Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published January 7th 2014 by Scholastic Press

Alexa and her twin brother are witness to their parents' murder at the hands of an evil sorcerer. To save themselves they join the king's army, Alexa cutting her hair and disguising herself as a boy, Alex. Their ruse lasts for several years and the twins are so skilled in combat they become part of the elite guard of the crown prince. Things begin to spiral out of control in the kingdom and in Alexa's own life. She finds herself struggling to maintain her secret while also trying to sort out what is really going on in the world around her. And the prince who has always been regarded as a spoiled, whiny, nuisance? Maybe there is more to him than meets the eye?
Defy is an exciting action fantasy with some romantic elements thrown in for good measure. I am definitely looking forward to more!

A Tangle of Knots

A Tangle of Knots
by Lisa Graff

Hardcover, 240 pages
Published February 5th 2013 by Philomel 
From Goodreads:
Told in multiple viewpoints, A Tangle of Knots is a magnificent puzzle. In a slightly magical world where everyone has a Talent, eleven-year-old Cady is an orphan with a phenomenal Talent for cake baking. But little does she know that fate has set her on a journey from the moment she was born. And her destiny leads her to a mysterious address that houses a lost luggage emporium, an old recipe, a family of children searching for their own Talents, and a Talent Thief who will alter her life forever. However, these encounters hold the key to Cady's past and how she became an orphan. If she's lucky, fate may reunite her with her long-lost parent.

My Thoughts:
A Tangle of Knots is an magical tale of families and cake. Each chapter is from a different person's perspective, seemingly unrelated to the rest. Though the reader can begin to see the tale that is being intricately woven with each passing page long before the characters themselves know what is going on. The layers of mystery and magic combine to make a wonderful modern-day fairytale sure to be enjoyed by all. The cake recipes sprinkled throughout are an added bonus.   

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Mark of the Dragonfly

The Mark of the Dragonfly
by Jaleigh Johnson
Hardcover, 400 pages
Expected publication: March 25th 2014 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Wow! What a fun read! Full of exciting adventure, marvelous characters and a mulit-layered story as well, what more could you ask for?
Piper has grown up in Scrap Town Sixteen where she has scraped along since her father's death. The scrappers survive bizarre meteor showers that deliver objects from another world to their poor town. The people scavenge what they can and try to sell it to get enough food to last until the next storm. Piper wants more than that. She dreams of using her mechanical repair knowledge in a city and making something of herself. So when an opportunity shows up on her doorstep she takes it and runs. Along the way she meets an assortment of characters who will either help or hinder her quest for a better life. This story is full of magic and adventure in a steampunkish, alien-world kind of way.  And I love that it is a complete story - no cliff-hanger ending promising more and more and more until the love is crushed into the ground. Though if the author does write anymore, I will be right there to read it!

(And a gorgeous cover to top it all off!)
Recommended for 4th grade on up.

I received a free ARC compliments of the publisher!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Glitch

Glitch
by Heather Anastasiu 
Paperback, 308 pages
Published August 7th 2012 by St. Martin's Press

From Goodreads:
In the Community, there is no more pain or war. Implanted computer chips have wiped humanity clean of destructive emotions, and thoughts are replaced by a feed from the Link network.

When Zoe starts to malfunction (or “glitch”), she suddenly begins having her own thoughts, feelings, and identity. Any anomalies must be immediately reported and repaired, but Zoe has a secret so dark it will mean certain deactivation if she is caught: her glitches have given her uncontrollable telekinetic powers.

As Zoe struggles to control her abilities and stay hidden, she meets other glitchers including Max, who can disguise his appearance, and Adrien, who has visions of the future. Both boys introduce Zoe to feelings that are entirely new. Together, this growing band of glitchers must find a way to free themselves from the controlling hands of the Community before they’re caught and deactivated, or worse.


My Thoughts:
Man, I wish I could remember. I know I read it - over a year ago. I know I liked it... I gave it 4 stars on goodreads. But for the life of me I can't remember enough details to really write a review on.  





 

The Girl Who Owned a City (Graphic Novel)

The Girl Who Owned a City
Graphic Novel
O.T. Nelson
and others
Hardcover, 125 pages
Published April 1st 2012 by Graphic Universe

All the grown-ups have perished due to a deadly virus. Now the kids are struggling to survive. Gangs are formed and battles are fought. Children are forced to grow up way before their time as they protect their home, their food supply and each other. Some groups are more organized than others making them more of a target for those less efficient than them. This is the case of Lisa and her "city" of followers. This graphic adaptation of the novel by O. T. Nelson is well-done, though as often is the case, the original is better. The book is fine for 5th graders and older, yet I would have to say the graphic novel is better suited for 7th grade on up as some of the events are more disturbing when viewing an illustration as opposed to reading just words. 

The Different Girl

The Different Girl
by Gordon Dahlquist
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published February 21st 2013 by Dutton Juvenile 
 
On a secluded island live four girls that are identical in all except hair color...one is blond, one brunette, one redhead and one with black hair. The girls know nothing of the world away from their private paradise. They have a routine and are very precise and calm in everything they do. Their predictable world is drastically changed when May is shipwrecked on the shore. May is a totally different type of person than they are used to. The narrator is one of the girls so the tale is told in her straight-forward tone - full of naivety and questions about the way things are. A story with minimal characters in a small locale has a powerful message of humanity. A futuristic dystopian world is hinted at but everything is so focused on the island it hardly matters what's out there.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Nightmare City

Nightmare City
by Andrew Klavan
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published November 5th 2013 by Thomas Nelson 
 
From Goodreads:
  
Tom Harding only wants the truth. But the truth is becoming more dangerous with every passing minute.
As a reporter for his high school newspaper, Tom Harding was tracking the best story of his life—when, suddenly, his life turned very, very weird. He woke up one morning to find his house empty . . . his street empty . . . his whole town empty . . . empty except for an eerie, creeping fog—and whatever creatures were slowly moving toward him through the fog.
Now Tom’s once-ordinary world has become something out of a horror movie. How did it happen? Is it real? Is he dreaming? Has there been a zombie apocalypse? Has he died and gone to hell?
Tom is a good reporter—he knows how to look for answers—but no one has ever covered a story like this before. With the fog closing in and the hungry creatures of the fog surrounding him, he has only a few hours to find out how he lost the world he knew. In this bizarre universe nothing is what it seems and everything—including Tom’s life—hangs in the balance.
 
My Thoughts:
 
A brilliant piece of young adult fiction! Klavan is fabulous at writing thrilling, fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat page-turners! And the best part...he does it with wholesome main characters who have morals and values. He is not afraid to have them be religious - though it is not the main point of the story, it is part of who the character is. The books are clean - no foul language, no adult situations - something almost unheard of in today's teen literature. There is trauma and some drama and some violence, but it is not explicit in any way. If you haven't yet read any young adult novels by Klavan - do so. And have your kids, especially teen boys read his books. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Meltdown Madness

Meltdown Madness
Looniverse #2
by David Lubar
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published June 25th 2013 by Scholastic Inc. 
 
Strangeness still surrounds Ed. He just wants to be on the soccer team, but he first has to sell 30 chocolate bars. Sounds easy, right? Not when your brother suddenly can control the weather and turns the heat waaaaay up! How is he supposed to sell melted and deformed chocolate bars? Maybe the guy at the new Curiosity Shop can help him? Or maybe things will just get worse? Read this second volume of Looniverse to find out. This is such a fun story for 1st-3rd graders. The illustrations are fun too!

Switchers

Switchers
by Kate Thompson

Kindle Edition, 220 pages
Published June 18th 2013 by Open Road Media Young Readers

Young Tess keeps to herself, mostly because of her big secret - the ability to change into any animal at any time. So she is quite bothered when a young man seems to be stalking her at the bus stop. When she finally begins to trust him she finds out they have a lot in common. And for some reason the city's rats are summoning them to the home of a dotty old lady who also knows their secret. This little jaunt escalates into a full-fledged quest to "save the world". The Earth needs to be rescued from the krools that have emerged from the North Pole and are taking over the planet with cold and snow. Only problem is, the military doesn't know the two of them, in an alternate form, are not the enemy and are launching missiles at them. I wasn't a big fan of the ending and I don't think I will move onto the next one.
I did enjoy this book but I know I would have liked it a lot more if a couple things had been different. Number one, the characters seemed older - like 16 or 17 - than the 13 and 14 years old that they were said to be. Maybe it is the fact that they were in Dublin and kids act older than they do here? I don't know. I have really liked everything else I have read by this author - The New Policeman Trilogy for one - but the writing in this one seemed a little more awkward and unpolished. 

Hey, Charleston!

Hey, Charleston!
The True Story of the Jenkins Orphanage Band
by Anne Rockwell
Illustrated by Colin Bootman
Library, 32 pages
Published November 1st 2013 by Carolrhoda Books 
 
This is a fascinating non-fiction picture book about the beginning of Rag music. It all started with a pastor of a small church in Charleston. The tender-hearted man began taking in orphans and caring for them. He not only saw to their basic needs, he taught them to care for themselves. The group outgrew his home and they found an old warehouse that was turned into an orphanage. The only problem was the prison next-door. The prisoners were loud and vulgar which was not the examples the pastor wanted for his charges. His decision to teach the boys music may have seemed like a small and rather insignificant thing, but it would change the course of all of their lives in a major way. It also would have a lasting influence in the world of music as well. This beautifully illustrated book is sure to get some attention when awards are being handed out this year!

(P.S. It did not win any awards:( )


 

Blackwood

Blackwood
by Gwenda Bond

Kindle Edition, 416 pages
Published September 4th 2012 by Strange Chemistry 
 
Living on Roanoke Island would be interesting for anyone. It is a place steeped in mystery and history due to the disappearance of 114 of the original settlers. Miranda is a misfit among her peers, affected in many ways by her ancestors who have been tied to the island and all of its curiosities. Things get even more bizarre when another massive disappearance occurs taking 114 people of today. What is the connection to the island's past? Where are the people and who is responsible? Miranda's life is complicated further as her father is one of the missing and a boy from her past returns and entwines his life and purpose with her own. This was a decent read in the paranormal historical young adult genre. However it wasn't fabulous.

Blood Zero Sky

Blood Zero Sky
J Gabriel Gates

Paperback, 373 pages
Published October 1st 2012 by Health Communications 
 
From Goodreads:
Unprofitables are banished to work camps to pay off their credit. Other tie-men and women look on apathetically. "Fair is fair. Everyone knows you shouldn't use more credit than you are worth to the Company. "They turn their attention to the next repackaged but highly coveted N-Corp product on the market, creatively advertised on the imager screens that adorn virtually every available flat surface. All the while, their mandatory cross-implants and wrist-worn "ICs" keep them focused on the endless cycle of work and consumption to which they are enslaved.

May Fields the CEO's daughter would like to believe she is above all that. Head of N-Corp's marketing team, the young woman who has almost everything anyone could want spends her days dreaming up ingenious ways to make workers buy more of what they already have and don't need. Even before May discovers that the Company is headed for its first loss in thirty years, she is feeling the stirrings of dissatisfaction with the system that has given her everything she's ever wanted . . . except the freedom to be herself.

When she is kidnapped by a member of the Protectorate a secret order dating back to the American Revolution May is suddenly faced with the frightening truth of what the Company's greed has done to our most basic human rights. Will she embrace who she is and join the battle to restore America's democratic freedom, or put her blinders back on and return to her safe and passionless life?

More prediction than fiction, "Blood Zero Sky "is a riveting, nonstop, and suspenseful gaze into the looking glass, destined to rise with the zeitgeist of our times to become the anthem of a generation.
 
 
My Thoughts:
 I really did try to read this. But I did not like the author's style at all. I did not care for the main character. I did read some ways in, but the only thing I liked was the premise. I should have known that there was something wrong when they needed to include such a lengthy summary to try to intice people to read it.

Buried: A Goth Girl Mystery

Buried
A Goth Girl Mystery #1
by Linda Joy Singleton
Paperback, 257 pages
Published March 8th 2012 by Flux
From Goodreads:
 A new, darker paranormal mystery series from award-winning author Linda Joy Singleton—featuring popular goth girl Thorn from The Seer series

Thorn Matthews is a Finder, a person with the psychic ability to find things just by touching an object. The visions she gets from objects—events and memories—are what guide her to the things that need to be found.

When Thorn locates a mysterious locket, it leads to a shocking and grim discovery. Now she’s implicated in a crime and surrounded by people she’s just met at her new school, any one of whom could be hiding a terrible secret. To clear her name, Thorn reluctantly uses her music skills to enter a school talent competition, which she suspects is part of the killer’s cover. Could one of her new friends be a murderer?


My thoughts:
This was an interesting young adult mystery with a supernatural edge. However, I felt it a bit shallow at times - superficial might be a better term. It had potential to be deeper and more intense, but it just wasn't. Though I do know a certain group of girls that would appreciate it. I kind of liked Thorn's character, but I liked Jay's better. I didn't think much of any of the others. I liked it okay, but I didn't love it as much as I wanted to. I don't think I will be reading any others in the series.