Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Book Review~Blood Red Road by Moira Young

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I was reluctant to read this one. Not sure exactly why. I saw it being promoted around its release date and read some reviews, but something made me hesitant. I eventually acquiesced and bought a copy.

Now that I have finished it, I am willing to admit that it was a decent story with some truly likeable characters. However, the writing style/language was a huge distraction for me. It's written in what some are calling a poetic or prose style. But, as far as I'm concerned, it's written in a backwoods, backwards English that made my grammar driven mind cringe. I can honestly say that it took till the very end of the book for the bad English not to interfere with my reading of this book. I just don't see how the writing style added to the book. Though I thought the story was gripping and exciting, I wish I would have just gotten it from the library rather than spending money on it.

Saba and Luce are twins who live out in the desert with their half crazy Pa and little sister Emmi. When Luce is kidnapped, Saba swears that she will find him. Saba tries to dump Emmi with an old friend of her mother's, but Emmi ends up following Saba and the two must find a way to put up with each other. They set out on their search and end up on quite the adventure, meeting both friends and enemies along the way.

Book Review~Divergent by Veronica Roth

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When I saw all the promos for this book, I knew I'd have to read it eventually, just took me a little longer than I would've liked. Already cataloged and put the copy I bought in our school library. Now I just need to find a way to get a few more copies!

Beatrice and her brother Caleb have turned sixteen, which means it is now time to decide which faction they will choose to be a part of: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, or Erudite. Having both grown up as Abnegation, it is assumed that at least one of them will choose to remain. Once they have chosen, there is no going back.

Beatrice "Tris" discovers that there's something different about her and is warned not to discuss these differences with anyone. She soon finds herself part of a world where she must fight-physically and mentally, for a position among the top 10, or face the possibility of being factionless.

It is difficult to continue without giving away too much detail. Just trust me, as the story unfolds, it just keeps getting better and as the end of the book approaches you'll want to read slower to make it last as long as possible.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Book Review~The Magician King by Lev Grossman

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Perhaps I would have enjoyed this a little more if I had let some time elapse after finishing The Magician, but I enjoyed The Magician so much I couldn't wait to see what happened next. It wasn't a bad second installment, but I did get a little bored. It was lacking the excitement, on the edge of your seat, stay up all night feeling that the first one instilled in me.

Quentin is brought back to Fillory by Elliot, Janet, and Julia. We quickly learn that not making it into Brakebills has taken it's toll on Julia and her journey into the world of magic is slowly told throughout the book. Even though Quentin is king of Fillory, he is still unhappy. He craves excitement and adventure since living in luxury doesn't seem to be enough for him. Quentin's journey lands him and Julia back in the real world with no clue how to get back to Fillory. While searching for a way to get back, Quentin reunites with Josh where he finds a new love interest.

When all is said and done, and Quentin's big adventure is over, he finds himself longing to be back where he started, as King of Fillory.

Thanks to Penguin, Viking and NetGalley for access to this title.

Book Review~The Magicians by Lev Grossman

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I have wanted to read this book for so long and finally purchased it when I received access to the second one via NetGalley. Wish I hadn't waited so long!

Quentin is a highly intelligent teen who arrives for his first college interview only to find the old man who was to interview him has died. He has a strange interaction with one of the EMTs and soon finds himself transported from the cold Brooklyn streets to the warm, sunny campus of Brakebills, a college for magicians. After a strange exam, Quentin is taken to a room where a seemingly never-ending stream of people come to interview him. Quentin knows something is very different about this school, but is not quite sure what it is. All he knows is that it is more exciting than the alternative and he desperately wants to pass.

It doesn't take long for Quentin to decide to stay at Brakebills rather than going back to Brooklyn to finish his senior year of high school. The existence of a college for magicians allows Quentin to hope that his obsession with Fillory, the magical world from a series of children's books, might actually exist too.

Book Review~Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close

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The story was cute, but nothing too eventful happens to any of the characters. It was kind of like watching reality TV that hasn't been edited or embellished to make it shocking and gossip worthy. Something that did appeal to me was that you had to figure out at times how the stories were connected. Though I can honestly say, from start to finish I really didn't have a clue, nor did I really care, which character was which. A decent read, but wouldn't put it at the top of your list.

Thanks to Alfred A. Knopf and NetGalley for access to this title.

Book Review~Brooklyn, Burning by Steve Brezenoff

Kid (yes, that's what "he" calls himself) has been living on the Brooklyn streets, in warehouses, and in the basement of a bar ever since his dad packed his stuff and told him to get out. He has a tendency to fall in love with other lost musicians-first Felix and then Scout. He somehow manages to surround himself with some caring adults who gently try to push Kid to make safe(r) decisions. He becomes the prime suspect in a warehouse fire for which he doesn't want to seem to admit he's not guilty of, not even to the police. Kid's guilt lies not in his responsibility for the fire itself but in who he lost in the fire. Kid must deal with his father's prejudices over his seemingly indeterminate sexual identity when the police release him into his parents' custody.

I enjoyed reading this book, but realized once I started to write this review that Kid's story might just be a little too neatly wrapped up. I have my doubts that a kid who finds himself living on the street would be fortunate enough to find not just one, but two, adults who truly have his best interests at heart. While there seems to be some debate about whether Kid is male or female, I have a hard time imagining a girl's father would have such issue with his daughter's sexual identity that he would kick her out of the house. I read the book thinking Kid was a boy, and still do even after seeing there's some debate over this.

I would definitely recommend this book for teens, especially those trying to figure out where they stand on the sexual identity spectrum.

Thanks to Lerner Publishing Group, Carolrhoda Lab and NetGalley for access to this title.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Book Review~Deviant by Adrian McKinty

Danny Lopez finds himself relocating to Colorado with his stepdad because his mom got a job running a new casino. He is enrolled in a local school that follows the Direct Instruction method: kids and teachers cannot talk other than to read from the scripted lesson of the day. Danny is befriended by Tony, the girl who lives across the street. There's a local scandal that Danny and his new friends start to investigate: someone is kidnapping cats and killing them. Danny decides to try and catch the killer on his own and things don't go quite the way he planned.

Danny was likable enough and the storyline kept me wanting to read to find out who is killing these cats and whether they move onto humans. But, there was a little something missing. The secondary characters were not very developed, actually Danny's skateboard was more developed than the characters were-the trick references were lost on me, but would surely appeal to skateboarders.

Thanks to ABRAMS, Amulet Books and Net Galley for access to this title.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Book Review~The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

Kate has given up her high school years to take care of her mom who has been beating cancer for three and a half years longer than the doctor's prognosis. Kate's mom has her drive them to Eden, Michigan so that she can die in the town she was born. Kate enrolls in high school and is an immediate curiosity in the small town. She ends up reluctantly agreeing to go to a party with the local beauty/head cheerleader Ava. She soon discovers there's no party and Ava plans to leave her stranded in the middle of nowhere. Things quickly take an unexpected turn when Ava hits her head in the river and Kate decides to save her even though she is afraid of water and cannot swim. A stranger appears offering to help and Kate promises to do anything if it will make Ava live. Kate soon finds herself facing the prospect of becoming the wife of Henry (who is actually Hades) if she passes a series of tests.

I really enjoyed this book! It was a good, fast read! I was thrilled to find out it is part of a scheduled trilogy and can't wait to read the next one!

Thanks to HarlequinTEEN and Net Galley for access to this title.

Book Review~Lost Voices by Sarah Porter

Luce is fourteen-years-old and stuck living in Alaska with her uncle who she tries her best to avoid, especially when he's been drinking. After nearly being raped by him one evening, Luce abruptly finds herself being rescued underwater. She discovers that she is now part of a group of mermaids that were all transformed after something equally horrible happened to them. Luce discovers that the mermaids use their voices to enchant people on boats, but no human ever seeing or hearing a mermaid can be allowed to live. Luce struggles with this, she does not hate humans the way the other mermaids do. Luce retreats to her own cave to practice her singing and becomes a bit of an outcast. Things change drastically when a new girl, who shows the shimmer of a possible mermaid, is changed.

I did not like this book at all and was dismayed when I discovered it is the first in a planned trilogy!! The story barely limped its way through to the end! The characters were annoying and the whole premise just did not resonate with me at all. I had been excited by the prospect of a mermaid story, but was sadly disappointed.

Thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books and Net Galley for access to this book.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Book Review~I, Emma Freke by Elizabeth Atkinson

When Emma discovers that her mom (who seems to be more of a kid than Emma is) tells her she's going to be home schooled, she figures this will help her escape from the misery of being teased for being so tall, skinny, red-haired twelve-year-old with a name that describes her when spoken aloud (am-a-freak). Being so different from her mother, Emma wonders if she's adopted. When she's invited to attend a family reunion by the Freke side of the family, she thinks everything will be explained once she meets these long lost relatives. When she arrives at the reunion, and discovers there are very specific rules and a rigid schedule to follow, she realizes there may not be as much wrong with her unstructured life as she thought.

A very cute story! Will definitely recommend it to my students!!

Thanks to Lerner Publishing Group, Carolrhoda Books and NetGalley for access to this great read.

Book Review~The Crepe Makers' Bond by Julie Crabtree

Ariel, Nicki, and Mattie are three best friends about to head into their last year of middle school. When Mattie finds out her mom plans to move, she & Ariel decide the only solution is for Mattie to move in with Ariel. What they think will be a fantastic year turns ends up threatening their whole friendship.

There are recipes for the dishes that Ariel makes throughout the book, a very cute addition. The lessons about friendships and family are abundant and the story will definitely be enjoyed by girls of all ages.

Thanks to Milkweed Editions and Net Galley for access.

Book Review~The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy

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Vivienne de la Mare gets her two young daughters ready to evacuate their home on the island of Guernsey before the Germans invade. They are waiting in line for the boat when Vivienne decides it is better for them to stay. When the Germans do arrive, a couple of them settle into the house next door. Vivienne is troubled by their presence. They are the enemy, but they are kind to her. One of the men intrigues Vivienne and they soon become lovers. She is walking a thin line, worried that people will discover her affair, but unable to stop at the same time.

I was surprisingly taken in by this book. Historical fiction is not my favorite genre. The author did quite well with this one. I would definitely recommend it.

Thanks to Hyperion for the ARC.

Book Review~Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

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So, I found this book in the "library" at a resort I went to in Jamaica. I've always been a fan of the zombie genre, so I figured I'd give it a shot. It was awesome!! Great YA book!
Benny Imura and his brother Tom have never really been that close. Benny blames Tom for the death of their parents and Tom just wants to protect Benny from any further pain. Now that Benny is 15, it's time for him to figure out what job he's going to start so that his food rations don't get cut in half. It would make sense if Benny became his brother's apprentice and learned the ways of the zombie bounty hunter, but the last thing Benny wants is to have to spend time with his brother. When all other options are exhausted, Benny must relent and join his brother. He quickly learns that much of what he thought about his brother, zombies, and life in general is really not all that cut and dry and he starts to realize there's much more to his brother then he thought.

Book Review~Also Known as Rowan Pohi by Ralph Fletcher

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Dealing with his mom leaving after his dad did time for burning her with an iron, Bobby is spending the last few days of summer hanging with his two best friends. They decide to pull the ultimate prank and create an imaginary boy to apply to Whitestone, the nearby private school. They are all flabbergasted when Rowan is accepted and set to start in just a few days.
Bobby impulsively decides to pretend to be Rowan and goes to the new student orientation. He enjoys himself so much, he decides to continue the charade just a bit longer. When a couple of bullies from Whitestone threaten to tell the headmaster he's not really Rowan unless he pays them $10 a week, Bobby declines. He's pulled from class, suspended, and a hearing to decide Bobby's fate is scheduled.

I enjoyed this book tremendously! Bobby Steele, aka Rowan Pohi, was a really likable character! I would definitely enjoy reading more about him-sequel anyone?!?

Thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Clarion Books, and Net Galley for allowing access to this great read! I will definitely be adding it to our school's collection and recommending it for the students to read.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Book Review~Bumped by Megan McCafferty

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If a virus existed that made women infertile after the age of 18, what would would society do to ensure continued procreation? Bumped takes on this premise by describing a society where a teenage girl's highest aspiration is to find the right couple to agree to have a baby for; the wealthier, the better. Some girls even enter into birthing contracts where in exchange for their services they receive a car, college tuition, and sometimes even a tummy tuck after giving birth.

The story centers around a pair of identical twins who were separated at birth. Melody ended up with a well-to-do family in New Jersey while Harmony has been raised in a Pennsylvania religious compound that has girls get married as soon as they are able to have children. Harmony decides to find Melody in an effort to save her. Harmony ends up being mistaken for Melody just as the ultimate partner has been found for her. Chaos ensues while each girl gets the chance to explore how different life could be.

I'm sure many young adults will enjoy this book as it was an easy read. The idea was interesting, but fell short in its delivery for me. Some of the references to the drugs used to make casual sex more comfortable and the masSEX parties where the main aim was for the girls to all get pregnant at the same time were approached too lightly with no mention of the repercussions of such actions.

Thanks to HarperCollins, Balzer + Bray and NetGalley for access to this egalley.

Book Review~Those That Wake by Jesse Karp

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Those That Wake presents a society not too far off from our own where people are focused on their cells more than on the people they walk by. What they don't realize is that there is a power that is taking control over their minds making them unaware of how many decisions are being made for them.

The main characters, Mal, Laura, Mike and Remak have become unplanned allies. Strangers, they all discover through one means or another that no one knows them anymore. As, or perhaps because, they try to figure out what has happened, they discover that their lives are in danger. Fighting together, they try to overcome the power that has made them the forgotten.

An interesting idea for a book, but a little too abstract for my taste. I thought the characters were never fully developed and the ending was mostly predictable. Yet somehow the book left me with more questions than answers. Maybe that was the idea?!?

Thanks to Houghton Mifflin, Harcourt and NetGalley for access to this egalley.

Book Review~Dust & Decay by Jonathan Maberry

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Benny Imura, Nix Riley, Tom Imura and Lilah, the Lost Girl, are planning on going east out into the Rot & Ruin in search of a jet that they saw fly over Mountainside at the end of the first book. Tom has been training Benny and his friends, so they will be prepared to protect themselves. There are the zombies of course, but they're not the real danger. There are bounty hunters out there that will stop at nothing to get revenge on the Imura's and their friends.

This was a satisfying sequel to the first book, Rot & Ruin, and I hope there will be more to come. What I like about the series is that even though Tom is a zombie killer, the only zombies he quiets are for families in search of closure. He teaches Benny to value life and humanity by acknowledging that zombies were once human themselves. It's an interesting take on the zombie genre and I cannot wait for future installments!

Thanks to Simon & Shuster for access to the eGalley!