Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Singled Out by Sara Griffiths

Taylor is a great pitcher who hoped to get a baseball scholarship for college.  However as she slacked off in school work and her grades went down scouts stopped coming to see her play.  During summer league she was offered a chance to attend an elite all boys school for her senior year and to try out for their outstanding baseball team. Hoping that was her ticket to college she accepted.  As one of only three girls now enrolled in Hazelton Taylor faced many challenges.  Some boys at the school were not happy with girls being allowed in and began pulling stunts to jeopardize the girls.  They successfully set up one and she was discharged and later scared off another.  Sam, one of the boys in the group decides to help Taylor and although she doubts his sincerity at first they work together to keep Taylor safe.

Singled Out is a fun, quick read.  Taylor has so many obstacles in her way but she manages to stay calm and focused in every situation.  Taylor's dad is a very supportive parent and only a phone call away (the school is a boarding school.)  Sam is a boy most girls would love to have on their side and as a boyfriend. I thorougly enjoyed Singled Out and plan on reading Thrown a Curve, also by Sara Griffths. I recommend it for fans of baseball stories, teen romance and reluctant readers. 

Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Bancroft Press via Netgalley.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Written in free verse Under the Mesquite is the story of Lupe and her family not only dealing with her mother's illness and death but it is also a view into the life of Mexican-Americans.  Wanting their children to have a good education and a better life than possible in Mexico, the family moves to a border town in Texas although they visit their relatives often.  We learn about the move, the birth of more siblings, the dad working far away, the siblings relationships, the mom's illness and the aftermath of her death.  The writing is beautiful and sprinkled with spanish words and phrases.

Since I now work in a school with many native Spanish speaking students I have already introduced this book to some students.  Many have never read a book written in this style and between that and the Spanish they are lining up to check it out.  Recommended for 5th grade and up.

Read it as an arc courtesy of Lee & Low Books via Netgalley.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Planet Middle School by Nikki Grimes

Told in short poems Planet Middle School explores so many themes it's hard to believe the book is only 154 pages and a delightfully quick read.  Joylin is a tomboy and an awesome basketball player.  She tries to teach her artist younger brother to play in the hope that their dad will notice him more.  She's dealing with her body changing against her will and her best friends (one a boy, one a girl) are trying to make her understand she's still the same person.  She's experiencing her first crush.

This book is recommended for girls in grades 6 and up.  Reluctant readers will be drawn to it's quick pace and easy to read style while appreciating Nikki Grimes' understanding of what tweens/young teens are going through.  I laughed and cried and loved it from the opening poem to the closing one.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Hidden by Helen Frost

When she was 8, Wren was in a car at a gas station (her mom ran in to pay for gas and a drink) that was stolen during a robbery. Hiding in the back the driver never knew she was there and she stayed hidden for two days in his garage. The man's daughter, Darra, also 8, discovered Wren and left her food and planned to help her. Wren overhears the abuse Darra and her mom receive from the dad. Wren manages to escape and Darra always wonders how and blames Wren for her dad going to jail. Six years later the two girls meet face to face for the first time in a sleep-a-way summer camp. At camp, Wren and Darra take turns telling their story.

Helen Frost has crafted an amazing work of fiction. Told in two voices the first being Wren's in free verse. Darra's is written in a form that Frost devised herself. You read about this in a "notes on form" section at the end. Then, you need to reread part of the book to see what she has "hidden" for us to help understand even more of the story. That is what takes this from a very good book to an amazing piece of work.

Recommended for readers who enjoy novels written in free verse or are looking for something new. Recommended for reluctant readers as the story moves along at a nice pace and is only 145 pages. While it is contemporary it could also pass for adventure if your readers are looking for something in that genre.  It is truly a remarkable book.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ditched by Robin Mellom

Justina and Ian have been best friends ever since he caught his girlfriend kissing another guy and Justina stopped kissing any and all of boys. However Justina has slowly fallen in love with Ian and chooses prom night to get back to kissing and letting Ian know her feelings for him. From the blue dress, dyed shoes, contant spilling and staining of her dress, driving drunk kids around, jealousy and so much more, the evening unravels and Justina is ditched on prom night. Telling her story the next morning in a 7-eleven to two ladies, we laugh and cry and figure out what really happened even before Justina puts the puzzle pieces together.

Ditched is a funny story. It will appeal to girls who enjoy contempory, romance, humorous and chick lit. As a fast moving book reluctant readers will appreciate the quick pace although the chapters do alternate in length. The chapter headings are cute and the few pictures add pizazz.  The dialogue about kissing and how boys kiss is precious and those experienced will get a kick out of it as will those who have never been kissed!  Justina's only vice is kissing boys (of which she has abstained from for a while) but there is underage drinking, smoking, and sex going on around her.   Robin Mellom incorporates responsibility in with partying and as a designated driver on prom night Justina does show her intelligence and maturity.  After reading this book which I recommend to high school girls most will dream about having a boy like Ian as a boyfriend.

Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Disney Hyperion via Netgalley. Ditched will be published early January 2012.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Veronica Roth has given us a future Chicago where people have been divided into five factions.  They are Abnegation (the selfless),  Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), and Erudite ( the intelligent).  Each year the 16 year-olds are given aptitudes tests and then attend a choosing ceremony where they either stay in their home faction or choose to join another.  Beatrice was born Abnegation but chooses Dauntless.  She also learns that she is divergent and later struggles to figure out exactly what that means.  Meanwhile in Dauntless she and the new initiates are put through three stages of training in which survival is not the only outcome needed.  You also need to be in the top ten otherwise you are kicked out and become factionless.

Beatrice, now Tris in Dauntless is small but due to the training becomes strong.  Physically and mentally.  She also becomes close with one of the trainers and their relationship slowly becomes romantic.  The story twists and turns.

Staying up late to finish this book was not a smart thing for me to do.  I thought about it all night whether I was dreaming or awake.  I even woke up thinking about it.  Divergent will be compared to many books.  It starts off like The Giver by Lois Lowry and parts of it are similar to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (receiving jobs in the former and survival in the latter) but Divergent is so much more.  It is a little more violent than I expected but I stuck with with it and loved it and of course I am now anxiously awaiting book 2.  Recommended for science fiction fans and those who enjoy dystopia books.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan

A Long, Long Sleep
Marketing copy book description :      "Rosalinda Fitzroy has been asleep for sixty-two years when she is woken by a kiss. Locked away in the chemically-induced slumber of a stasis tube in a forgotten sub-basement, sixteen-year-old Rose slept straight through the Dark Times that killed millions and utterly changed the world she knew. Now, her parents and her first love are long dead, and Rose—hailed upon her awakening as the long-lost heir to an interplanetary empire—is thrust alone into a future in which she is viewed as either a freak or a threat. Desperate to put the past behind her and adapt to her new world, Rose finds herself drawn to the boy who kissed her awake, hoping that he can help her to start fresh. But when a deadly danger jeopardizes her fragile new existence, Rose must face the ghosts of her past with open eyes—or be left without any future at all."
     A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan is an incredible, frightening, disturbing, riveting, and hard to put down book.  As I read it I realized how confused I was and even stopped a few times to discuss it and other science fiction with my twenty two year-old son.  He reminded me that dystopian literature is science fiction but it is usually a commentary on our current society or current state of politics.  While I'm not sure if this was a dystopia, his comment  helped me understand a bit more but truthfully the further into the book I went the more I understood. 
     A Long, Long Sleep is unlike any book I've read in recent memory. While not about vampires, witches or angels there is a different force at work and we can only hope that Sheehan's vision of the future is just that, a vision and not a prediction.   While Rose starts off as weak and demure her power and intelligence grows faster than her weakened body can heal.  Sadly she was treated horribly her whole life by her parents and told that she was not smart, not nice and not able to run the company that would one day be hers.  The way they treated her, verbally and by putting her in stasis is cruel and unjust and I can only hope they suffered.  But I digress.
     Rose is smart.  Brilliant actually.  And Sheehan has created some other characters that will resonate with readers too.  Otto, an alien/human, can't verbalize what he is thinking but communicates by speaking in another's head and by (what we call) IMing or chatting on line.  Brendan, the boy who finds Rose and awakens her and protects her is a dreamboat.  Xavier, the love of Rose's life is hard to figure out considering how Rose flits in and out of his life due to stasis but their love was deep and sincere.  Their story is told in bits and pieces and seems impossible at first (some of my confusion) but becomes clearer. The landscape Sheehan lays out is mesmerizing as are the modes of transportation, the advanced technology and of course the idea of stasis.
     While I was lying in bed reading I was tempted to close up the book and save if for the next day.  Boom.  Major twist.  Had to keep reading until I finished! I do have questions though but I won't ask them until the  fall when everyone I recommend this book to will have read it and we can sit down and discuss it.  Recommended for fans of sci-fi although there is enough romance to keep newbies to the genre interested.  Fans of paranormal fantasy will also be drawn to it.  Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Candlewick Press via Netgalley.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Always a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Always a Witch
     Starting off just about where Once a Witch ends (click here for my review) Tamsin and her family are preparing for her sister Rowena's wedding. It is advisable to read that book first although it's not absolutely necessary.  After a visit from a stranger with a bizarre talent, new words in the "book," and a conversation with her grandmother, Tamsin heads back to 1887.  This time she travels without Gabriel, her sort of boyfriend.  She needs to warn the Greene family about the
plans of the vicious and damaging Knight clan without endangering Gabriel.  Tamsin also knows that there is a decision to be made that will have lasting repercussions for her and her family.
     Tamsin once again proves her strength, intelligence and bravery.  Jessica, Cook,  and Isobel are intriguing characters in the enchanting setting of
New York in 1887.  Gabriel is an important part of the story and I for one can never get enough of him.  This is an easy reading paranormal adventure and romance that teens will devour.  McCullough has written a quickly paced page turning book that is hard to put down.  While the ending was satisfactory, I wouldn't mind hearing more about Gabriel and Tamsin and their life together.
     Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via Netgalley.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Populazzi by Elise Allen


When Cara moves to a new neighborhood and a new high school, she follows her best friend's plan to climb the rungs of a ladder of boys to reach the top rung and be the Supreme Populazzi.  The goal is to be the most popular girl, have the most most popular boyfriend and rule the school.  The plan seems to be working although along the way Cara jeopardizes her grades, her relationships with her parents, best friend and the boy on the first rung of the ladder.

The premise of the book is fascinating and it was a very enjoyable read.  The cover is eye catching and the writing will attract even the most reluctant readers.  My favorite part of the book is the relationship between Cara and Archer, the boy on the bottom rung.  Archer is a gem of a character through the end.  The only drawback is the length of the book at 400 pages.  Most reluctant readers will be taken aback by that.  However, I found the ending quite satisfying and all readers sticking with the book should feel the same way.  Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via Netgalley.   Populazzi by Elise Allen will be published in August 2011.  Cover courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Flip by Martyn Bedford

Imagine waking up in someone else's bed, room, house, body.  That is exactly what happens to Alex as he wakes up one day as Philip, also known as Flip.  Turns out Alex was hit by a car and is in a coma miles away in another part of England but his brain/spirit/soul is alive and well inside of Flip.  

Martyn Bedford actually has us believing that this is possible.  He also has us really liking Alex as a person as we see him dealing with this situation he has found himself in.  In observing Flip's family and friends Alex learns more about his own.  Not usually popular with the girls Alex gets to see what it's like to have girls attracted to him.  

There are many terms in this book American readers will need to figure out the meanings of.  Some will be familiar many not.  I enjoyed them and the writing and the book.  Recommended for readers who enjoyed Andrew Clements Things Not Seen and science fiction fans.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter

Uncommon Criminals (A Heist Society Novel)
(For a complete synopsis please see amazon, b&n, or borders websites)
The highly anticipated sequel to Heist Society was worth the wait.  In Uncommon Criminals, Ally Carter has written a fast paced and page turing teen crime thriller.  Wanting to savor the book I purposely read it in spurts over two days.  

Kat is a brilliant young girl in her chosen field and once again proves she has a good heart.  The budding romance with Hale is believable as is Kat's naivety.  Carter gives us just enough of the other teens to whet our whistle but there are certainly more stories to tell.  And Marcus.  Oh, I just wonder where she is going with him!   Recommended for fans of the the first book, The Gallagher Girls books, mysteries, romance and friendship stories.  

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Crepe Makers Bond by Julie Crabtree

With the opportunity to read an advanced readers copy of The Crepe Makers Bond I knew I wanted to read Discovering Pig Magic. However, this is not really necessary for readers new to the series and I say series because surely a third book will be written in Nicki's voice.  Discovering Pig Magic had M narrating and in The Crepe Makers Bond it is Ariel.  Ariel loves cooking and creating recipes and she shares them with us at each chapter break.  She is inspiring me to try some of them and won't be surprised if others do too!  However her jealousy and selfishness surface when M moves in with her family to finish up 8th grade because her mom has taken a job in another city.  Throughout the book hints are dropped about Nicki possibly keeping secrets which could be the premise of the third book (and touched upon near the end.)

While aimed at the YA audience this book will also work for middle graders who enjoy stories about friendship and cooking.  I would also recommend it to those who enjoyed The Secret Ingredient  and The Teashop Girls by Laura Schaefer (both reviewed below.)  Read as an ebook ARC courtesy of Milkweed Editions via Netgalley.

Discovering Pig Magic by Julie Crabtree

Given the chance to read Julie Crabtrees's newest book enticed me to read Discovering Pig Magic first.. I would have loved this book when I was in junior high. Mattie (aka Miss M and "M"), Ariel and Nikki are each dealing with very mature situations and have each other to confide in and support. Crabtree doesn't hold back on what they discuss or what they are thinking although we really only hear M's voice. Recommended for girls who enjoy stories about friendship, crushes, honesty and the idea of magic. While amazon has this as a book for ages 9-12 I would suggest 12 and up. Now I can read "The Crepe Makers' Bond."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Karma by Cathy Ostlere

Called Maya by her mother and Jiva by her father, Maya is half Hindu and half Sikh.  To get away from their Indian families who frowned upon their marriage Maya's parents emigrated to Canada which is where she is raised.  However, after the death of her mother, Maya and her father travel to India to return the ashes from whence they came.  When riots break out Maya is separated from her father and winds up far away in a desert village.  After witnessing violence and horrors Maya becomes mute and her story continues through Sandeep, a village boy who also has a story to tell.

Written in free verse poems first as Maya's diary and then as Sandeep's, this 500+ page books flies by.  The story is engrossing in both Maya's words and Sandeep's.  Cathy Ostlere writing is simply gorgeous and Maya's story is both heartbreaking and endearing.  It is hard not cheer for the growing relationship between Sandeep and Maya and to not cry for their losses.  Truthfully I would have been happy with a few more pages set sometime in the future tying loose ends together (trying not to spoil anything here) but will settle for my imagination or another book someday. Recommended for fans of historical fiction, romance, journals and free verse.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Nerd Girls : The Rise of the Dorkasaurus by Alan Lawrence Sitomer

Tired of being bullied by the popular girls, three girls team up to try to win the school talent show and end the reign of bullies always winning.  Alice, aka Allergy Alice, Barbara aka Beanpole and Maureen aka Mo (the fat girl) find the true meaning of friendship as they nearly become convinced they are losers for ever.
     For most of this book I was reading with a smile on my face and laughed out loud in many spots.  When Alice's tragic background came to light I had tears in my eyes.  Sitomer sure knows how to twist a story.  Recommended for grades 6 and up and all middle school girls who have ever been bullied.
Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Simon and Schuster via Netgalley.  Nerd Girls : The Rise of the Dorkasaurus will be available July 5, 2011.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder

The Day Before
Amber arranges to spend the day before (an event revealed about half way in) alone.  At the aquarium she meets Cade who is doing the same thing.  There is an immediate attraction and connection between them and so they spend the rest of the day together.

Starting a book late at night is a bad idea.  Especially one as enthralling and page turning as "The Day Before" as I could not put it down until I finished it.  Amber is a likable person dealing very maturely in a sad and unfortunate turn of fate but we hope with the love and support of her family and her new relationship with Cade she will make the best of a bad situation.

Written beautifully in verse Lisa Schroeder has Cade and Amber dealing with life experiences not many teens have dealt with in life or in books.  When Cade's reason for spending the day alone is revealed it touched close to home for me.  The references to movies and music made me smile and Schroeder cleverly used them to help move the story along.  Recommended for reluctant readers as it is fact paced.  Recommended for those looking for a little romance and or family/friendship story.  Truly a remarkable book.  Read as an ebook courtesy of Simon & Schuster.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Now is the Time for Running by Michael Williams

Now Is the Time for Running
Imagine witnessing the brutal beatings and murders of your family and village.  All you have left is your brother, although older than you he has the mind of a child.  With a homemade soccer ball, and his brother's special box, Deo and Innocent head to South Africa in search of peace and the possibility of finding the father they never knew.  The trek from Zimbabwe to South Africa is tough including crossing a hazardous river and a dash through a dangerous animal preserve .  These scenes are two of the best I have ever read before.  Without spoiling, I do want to say Innocent's stash of goodies in his box is brilliant.

This is a difficult yet must-read book encompassing topics such as political cruelty, refugee abuse, drug addiction and a young boy devoted to his mentally disabled brother. Deo is a character that we care deeply about.  It is quite violent at times. When given the chance to play soccer and compete in a tournament to get his life on the right track you will be cheering Deo on as I did.  A stunning piece of historical fiction.  Recommended for those who enjoyed A LONG WALK TO WATER by Linda Sue Park reviewed here and Shooting Kabul by N. H. Senzai reviewed here which are written for younger readers but in a similar vein and fans of historical fiction and adventure.  Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Hatchette Book Group via Netgalley. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Where She Went
"Where She Went" takes place three years after "If I Stay" ends and flashes back and forth quite often.  It is told through Adam's point of view and focuses on what he went though after the accident that killed Mia's family and the three years since Mia left for Juilliard and New York and "dumped him."

Adam makes us see that being a rock star is not always so glamorous.  Being in the limelight, having a movie star girlfriend, being recognized everywhere he goes can't erase his feelings for Mia and the hurt that is eating him up.  Adam has a strong voice and it's interesting hearing this love story with his lyrics and thoughts.

I enjoyed this as much as the first book and although not necessary to read "If I Stay" first it is suggested to do so.  Read as an ebook arc courtesy Penguin's Young Readers Group of via Netgalley.

The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

 The Last Little Blue Envelope
Starting off a few months after 13 Little Blue Envelopes ends, The Last Little Blue Envelope is a worthy sequel.  I would recommend reading the first book first although it is not absolutely necessary.  Maureen Johnson does a good job of filling in the blanks for a new reader.

Ginny heads back to London when she is contacted by Oliver who has acquired the last envelope after it and Ginny's belongings were stolen from Greece.  Her uncle Richard is thrilled to have her for the Christmas holiday and although her love interest Keith is now involved in another relationship he is also happy to see her.  Oliver blackmails Ginny for half the profit to give her the information from the 13th letter.   Keith, his girlfriend, Oliver and Ginny set out for an adventure through Europe to obtain the pieces needed to assemble the final work of art.

This is a face paced story and Ginny is a very likable girl.  The other characters are well drawn and make a funny foursome traveling in a tiny little car (Ginny is stuck in the back seat with Oliver who is 6 feet tall) and readers will laugh at Keith's actions towards Oliver.  Although Oliver and Ginny start off on bad terms it is easy to see the ice beginning to melt.  Johnson's writing makes you feel like you are dining in a cafe in Paris, walking along a canal in Amsterdam, or stranded with a broken down car in a field of sheep. While the ending is satisfying I wouldn't be surprised to see another book about Ginny and her college adventures.

If you enjoyed the first book you will certainly enjoy this one.  If you like adventures stories, light romance, light humor or stories in Europe this book is for you.  Read courtesy of HarperTeen via Netgalley.

Friday, May 20, 2011


 Starcrossed Marketing Copy : Helen Hamilton has always known she’s different from the other teens on tiny Nantucket, but it’s not until Lucas Delos moves to town that she realizes just how special she is. Facing Lucas in the halls of high school, Helen’s possessed by a powerful need to kill him--and she almost succeeds. But when their mutual hatred of each other transforms into desire, Helen and Lucas discover they are both Scions--descendants of Greek gods--and that their two families have for centuries been engaged in a deadly blood feud. As Lucas teaches Helen to use her powers, which include flying, controlling lightning, and an immunity to weapons (in addition to her gorgeous face, which she’s inherited from a certain namesake whose own face “launched a thousand ships”), the two grow ever closer--but can never be together until they find a way around the curse that’s destined to keep them apart.

"Starcrossed" is a fast paced action adventure, romantic mythological story.  Yes, that sounds like a lot in one book but as page after page goes by in this 500 page novel you will experience it all.  Helen and Lucas are wonderfully written characters and Lucas's love for Helen is warm and genuine.  One can't help root for them to be able to defy their fates.  Lucas's family and Helen's friends are terrific co-stars and I enjoyed the budding romances there too.

Josephine Angelini has written an amazingly complex book.  Although quite long I never lost interest and honestly I was not prepared for the twist near the end.  I had hoped it was a stand alone but now I will anxiously await book two.  Readers familiar with Greek Mythology will love this and those not familiar may choose to do some further reading. 

It will be very surprising to not hear in reviews that there are many similarities between "Starcrossed" and "Twilight" and to tell you the truth they are hard to ignore.  However, this does not distract from the fact that "Starcrossed" is an engrossing and original story based on Greek mythology.   Recommended for YA fans of mythology and romance.  Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Harper Collins via Netgalley.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

The Goddess Test (Harlequin Teen)
In order to give her dying mother more time and one last chance to say goodbye to her, Kate agrees to spend six months with Henry.  She also agrees to take a test that will determine if she is worthy of becoming immortal, marrying Henry and ruling the Underworld along side him for eternity. In this version of a Greek myth, Henry is Hades, once married to Persephone.  For nearly a century Henry has been trying to replace Persephone and every possible girl has been mysteriously murdered.  Agreeing to the deal for purely selfish reasons at first, Kate slowly falls in love with Henry.

Kate is a loving daughter having spent four years taking care of her dying mother.  While she doesn't have many friends she is loyal to those she has.  She is a very likable girl.  Henry is god what else can I say!  Ava is easy to dislike and James is someone I'd like to get to know better.

Aimee Carter has written a book very different from other mythology retellings.  She is a new voice in YA literature and a very welcome one.  Having read this book a while ago but not blogging right away I've recently reread it and enjoyed it as much as the first time.  The second time around I understood the beginning much more clearly.   I look forward to the next installment and hope to get to know James a little more and wonder if a love triangle is being created.  Recommended for fans of mythology, romance and contemporary fiction.  Read as an ebook arc courtesty of Harlequin Teen via Netgalley.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell

Ten Miles Past NormalPublisher's description: "Janie Gorman wants to be normal. The problem with that: she's not. She's smart and creative and a little bit funky. She's also an unwilling player in her parents' modern-hippy, let's-live-on-a-goat-farm experiment (regretfully, instigated by a younger, much more enthusiastic Janie). This, to put it simply, is not helping Janie reach that "normal target." She has to milk goats every day…and endure her mother's pseudo celebrity in the homemade-life, crunchy mom blogosphere. Goodbye the days of frozen lasagna and suburban living, hello crazy long bus ride to high school and total isolation--and hovering embarrassments of all kinds. The fresh baked bread is good…the threat of homemade jeans, not so much."

There's nothing like an upbeat feel good book. TEN MILES PAST NORMAL is just that. The writing is fluid and conversational and Janie is a strong, intelligent almost 15 year-old girl who is just beginning to pave her way in the world.

I love how the cute boy Janie has a crush on turns out to be just a cute boy. I admire Janie and Monster's understanding that although they have chemistry the age difference is too big for now. I appreciate how Janie's parents give her space in dealing with school, farm life and her social issues. The historical story weaved in about the civil rights endeavors of some of the townspeople was informative and enlightening. The literary references made me smile (cows that type, gotta love it.)

This is one of those books I wish hadn't ended quite so soon. I really enjoyed it and will recommend it to tweens and young teens.

Read as an e-book arc courtesy of Simon and Schuster. It will be published in March 2011.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Shine by Lauren Myracle

ShineSince the day Cat was attacked by one of her brother's friends she has closed herself off from family and friends.  Being raised by an aunt who turned a blind eye to the attack and believing her brother saw it and did nothing has ruined their relationship and she has cut herself off from her best friend, Patrick and all her girlfriends.  After Patrick is grossly and brutally attacked and is lying in the hospital in a coma, Cat becomes determined to find out who did this as she is convinced the police won't. 

Cat questions everyone in her tiny town and takes the bus to another town for the internet access in the public library (imagine not having a computer and the internet at your fingertips).  From the church ladies to the young brother of one her old friends, from drug users to those that make it and sell it, from the library and gay bar to a college boy from another small town Cat begins to put the pieces together.

Cat is a smart, brave and resilient girl and I'm so glad she came out of her shell to help Patrick.   This is a  gritty story much different from any other Myracle book I have read.  The story takes place out of the comfort zone of most YA readers but it is riveting storytelling nonetheless.  Recommended for older YA readers.  Read as an ebook arc courtesty of Abrams books via Netgalley.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt

Okay for NowAt the start of Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt I almost put the book down. Doug Swieteck (a character from The Wednesday Wars) is beaten up by his brother for a signed Joe Pepitone baseball cap (the first thing Doug ever owned that was not a hand-me-down)and quietly admits to his other brother beating him up before he's drafted into the army and to his dad having "quick hands." However I kept going and proceeded to read the book in one day. Doug moves to a small town in the Catskill Mountains and has life changing experiences. He befriends a girl and a librarian/artist, gets a job, finds caring teachers and develops an appreciation of the art of John James Audobon. The librarian helps Doug understand Audobon and the plates of paintings of birds on display in the library. His job delivering groceries introduces him to the townspeople including a writer who owns one of the Audobon paintings sold out of the book in the library (Doug begins a mission to have all the plates returned).Doug's brother is accused of robbing a hardware store and the grocery store and Doug needs to deal with the changing attitudes of the townspeople and school staff as they assume he is guilty by association. There is so much going on here and Schmidt had me rooting for Doug throughout the book. There are twists and turns (spoilers I can't discuss) and you too will root for Doug. This is an amazing book and I love it. If you haven't read The Wednesday Wars read that one now as this one is not being published until April. Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via Netgalley.

P.S.  OKAY FOR NOW  is now available.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group by Catherine Jinks

The Abused Werewolf Rescue GroupStrange things are happening to Toby including being found naked in a dingo pen. When Reuben and Father Ramon try to convince him that he is a werewolf neither Toby nor his mom will believe it.  However, when Toby is kidnapped by a group of people who abuse werewolves by making money off of them fighting and destroying others, Toby begins to believe. 

A companion novel to The Reformed Vampire Support Group (for review click here) this book is just as clever and just as funny.  Many characters return in addition to Reuben (the vampires rescued him from captivity), Nina the 15 year-old vampire and her mother.  Toby's story is told in first person and as the story progresses his intelligence shines through as his powers grow.  He is a compassionate boy and looks out for others.  A quick and enjoyable read. Recommended for fans of vampire and werewolf stories.  Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via Netgalley.  The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on April 4, 2011.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Two books being published soon!!

We'll Always Have Summer
Just received this book as an advanced readers copy :)  Will read it soon and blog about it but I wanted to let some of you know it's coming especially those who have read THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY and IT'S NOT SUMMER WITHOUT YOU (Ally and Adriana especially).

Have your read STORMBREAKER and the other 7 books in the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz?
Well, the last book in the series is due out March 22, 2011 so hurry up and do it :)

Scorpia Rising: An Alex Rider Novel

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Once a Witch Given the chance to read ALWAYS A WITCH as an arc I needed to read ONCE A WITCH first. After some of the vampire books and most recently angels in UNEARTHLY (which I loved) click here for review I almost skipped this but I'm glad I didn't. It's a quick read with an interesting story line.  Everyone in Tamsin's family is a witch with a special "talent"  that is revealed at the age of eight.  Her grandmother can read minds.  Her sister can persuade people to do as she pleases.  Her friend Gabriel can find things.  Although Tamsin is already in high school her talent has not appeared and she has always felt like an outcast.  When mistaken for her sister, Tamsin enlists Gabriel's help to find an object for a stranger.  So begins an adventure that finally brings Tamsin's talent to light and so much more.

Tamsin is a strong intelligent girl. Gabriel, her friend and potential boyfriend has a minor role in the book but lights up the page whenever he is around. I enjoyed the New York setting and walking through Grand Central Station will never the same. The book reminded me a little of SAAVY (a kids book by Ingrid Law) where each kid had a different sort of "talent" called a "saavy." Recommended for YAs that like otherworldly stories. Now I'm ready to read the sequel!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Looks like The Maze Runner is on it's way to becoming a movie.  To read the LA Times article click here.
The Maze Runner (Maze Runner Trilogy, Book 1)