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


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


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


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 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.