28. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Award Winner, Courtney, Historical Fiction, Teen Books

The War Within These Walls by Aline Sax, 176 pages, read by Courtney, on 02/16/2014

The War Within These Walls follows a young Polish boy whose Jewish family has been moved into the ghetto in Warsaw by the Nazis. Like so many others, Misha’s family endures devastating conditions. Misha begins to sneak through the sewers just to find food for his family. Eventually, his little sister joins him as well. Until she fails to return, that is. As things go from bad to worse, Misha joins his fellow Warsaw residents in one final stand against the Nazis.
The Warsaw Uprising is not addressed in YA fiction much, if at all. This slim novel brings the events of that struggle into focus with a sparse verse-like narrative and somber blue-grey drawings. It’s a lovely, if devastating, story about an important chapter in our collective history.

29. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Award Winner, Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Teen Books · Tags:

Sex & Violence by Carrie Mesrobian, 304 pages, read by Courtney, on 01/03/2014

Evan has been moving around his entire life. Thus, he has perfected the art of being the New Guy. As the New Guy, Evan focuses entirely on meeting girls. He has no male friends to speak of and goes from girl to girl. He’s always had good luck with girls and views them as little more than conquests. Friendship with girls who won’t sleep with him aren’t really worth his time. Then Evan sleeps with the wrong girl. She’s a girl with a violent ex-boyfriend (who is unfortunately friends with Evan’s roommate). Evan gets beaten up so badly that he’s pulled out of school by his father and taken to live in the small rural community in Minnesota that his father grew up in. There, everyone knows everyone else. Evan quickly discovers that he cannot simply spend the summer hiding from everyone and everything. Slowly, bit by bit, Evan begins to make actual friends, both male and female. Still, Evan is haunted by the repercussions of his beating and has trouble even thinking about going back to his old way of living.
Evan’s perspective is a unique one in YA lit. Evan isn’t really the most likeable of characters, but it doesn’t take the reader long to figure out that it’s not entirely Evan’s fault. Evan’s mother is long absent and his wealthy father is more comfortable with computers than people. As Evan begins to open up to his new friends, he begins to reassess the way he thinks about both women and relationships.
The ending is little on the tidy side and the final chapters portraying Evan at the public school feel like they’re rushed and possibly unnecessary. Otherwise, it’s compelling read about issues rarely addressed from the male perspective. This would likely make a very interesting book for discussion groups.

12. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Award Winner, Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Science Fiction, Thriller/Suspense · Tags:

Divergent by Veronica Roth, 487 pages, read by Kira, on 09/09/2013

Enthralling and Exciting.  I did Not want to put this down.  And the book stayed with me for days afterwards.

It also reminded me of several other books – the initiation and bullying kept reminding me of Ender’s Game, and The Giver, as well as somewhat like Tamora Pierce’s Alana series (and also Tom Brown’s Schooldays, and Lord of the Flies, but Not that bad).  I enjoyed this book a lot, and look forward to the 2nd and 3rd books.  I’m even considering purchasing Amazon’s companion minibooks told from Four’s perspective – and normally, I don’t buy books, I keep my collection at the Library.

DivergentFactionsdivergent junpdivergDIVERGENT

31. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Award Winner, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Tracy

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak , 552 pages, read by Tracy, on 08/06/2013

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

30. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Award Winner, Children's Books, Drama, Eric, Fiction · Tags: , ,

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech, 280 pages, read by Eric, on 08/29/2013

13-yr-old Salamanca retraces with her grandparents the route taken by her mother when suddenly she left Sal and her father, and went to Lewiston, Idaho. Along the way, Sal tells her grandparents the story of moving from Kentucky to Ohio, and of how Phoebe, a new friend, also had a mother leave. The journey west combines with stories of the past to determine the future of Sal’s family.

This novel won the Newbery Award in 1995, and deserves all the praise it has gotten over the years. It is a powerful exploration and celebration of life, loss, new love, and mature love. Creech gives Sal’s voice an aching, coming-of-age truthfulness that should be experienced by everyone, and not just middle readers. If you’ve not done so already, read this book!

25. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Award Winner, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick, 263 pages, read by Angie, on 08/24/2013

Imagine a love that transcends time; a love that will manifest seven times. That is the story of Eric and Merle or Erik and Melle. The story starts at the end in the year 2073 on the strange island of Blessed when Eric and Merle meet. But this is not the first time they have met; this is the last. We see each previous time as we travel backwards to the beginning. Eric and Merle are always present and always on Blessed Island, but they are not always the same lovers. Sometimes they are brother and sister, sometimes mother and son, sometimes father and daughter and sometimes doomed lovers. We learn their stories in each chapter until we get to the beginning and find out how their doomed love began.

This was an amazing book. The storytelling was pretty much perfect and I really couldn’t put it down. I loved Eric and Merle each time we met them and I really liked that they were not always lovers. Sedgwick explored all the types of love in their seven lives. I like the mystery of the island and its secret side with the dragon orchids which may or may not make you eternally young. I liked that some of the other characters seem to travel through time with our lovers. Their lives are intertwined and doomed to repeat over and over again. I think my favorite story might have been The Painter, but I enjoyed them all. This is a spooky, fascinating love story that will really stick with you.

21. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Award Winner, Dystopia, Fiction, Tammy, Teen Books · Tags:

Divergent by Veronica Roth, 487 pages, read by Tammy, on 08/03/2013

divergent  In dystopian Chicago,  society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to a specific virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). One day a year all citizens who are now 16 must select the faction they will belong to for the rest of their lives. All sixteen year olds take a test to determine which faction they are best suited for but the choice is left up to the individual. Most choose the faction they grew up in, but not all.Our heroine, Beatrice, is growing up in the Abnegation faction and now must decide does she stay with her parents or does she follow who she really is? If she changes factions she will rarely ever see her parents or brother since not only are living quarters determined by faction but also career paths and marriage options.

During the initiation into her chosen faction, Beatrice renames herself Tris. The initiation is daunting but Tris also has a secret, one that she doesn’t fully understand herself but that she’s hiding on fear of death.

This book has won numerous awards including: ALA Teens’ Top Ten Nominee (2012), Children’s Choice Book Award Nominee for Teen Choice Book of the Year (2012), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2014), dabwaha for Best Young Adult Romance (2012), Goodreads Choice for Favorite Book of 2011 and for Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction (2011)

16. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Award Winner, Fiction, Science Fiction, Tammy · Tags:

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, 324 pages, read by Tammy, on 08/15/2013

In the distant future planet Earth has barely survived attack by an alien race referred to as the “Buggers” for their bug-like appearance. Even though Earth was able to drive the enemy back everyone is waiting for the day when the alien force returns even stronger. All children are monitored as toddlers to early school age to see if they have what it takes to become part of the planets defense force especially leadership material. Young Ender Wiggin is deemed the perfect candidate to be trained up as the commander of the whole military force. He leaves his family at age 6 for rigorous training. He is constantly watched and tested by the teachers and military leaders who believe he may be the only chance for Earth’s survival against the enemy that they know so little about and understand even less. But is Ender clever enough and strong enough to be what the military is looking for? How can a child accomplish what no adult has been able to do so far? Ender's game

02. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Award Winner, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction · Tags:

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple, 330 pages, read by Angie, on 06/29/2013

Bernadette is one of those characters that you just can’t get out of your head. I loved every minute of this book and found myself laughing out loud at times. Maria Semple takes an entertaining tale and makes it even better in the way she delivers her information. We learn about the life of Bernadette through a series of documents: emails, faxes, FBI reports, hand written notes, news articles, etc. This packet has been assembled and given to Bernadette’s daughter Bee. Through the packet of information we learn that Bernadette was once the hottest thing in architecture, but had a break down and ran away to hide in Seattle. She is married to Elgin Branch one of the hottest acquisitions Microsoft ever made. She is being harassed by her neighbor Audrey because of her wild blackberries. And she has become so agoraphobic that she has hired a virtual assistant in India to do everything for her from making dinner reservations to getting prescriptions to booking a trip to Antarctica. It is the trip to Antarctica, a reward for Bee getting straight As, that really throws Bernadette for a loop. Everything starts falling apart and Bernadette disappears. It is up to Bee to figure out what happened and where her mother went.

I loved this book and would recommend it to anyone. I listened to the audio version and it was hilarious! I love how snarky Bernadette is and how she pokes fun at everything from Canadians to prep school moms (they are gnats!) to Microsoft to herself. There are a ton of wonderful instances in this book that I wanted to relisten to. I will admit to being just a bit let down by the ending, but the rest of the book was so entertaining that I am giving it a pass.

27. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Award Winner, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Food, Kira · Tags:

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender, 292 pages, read by Kira, on 06/13/2013

On her 9th birthdayparticularsadness cake  Rose discovers that she can taste the emotions of the people who prepared the food she eats; thus discovering the emptiness and discontent her Mother represses.

This is a story of attempting to forge meaningful connections within one’s family and beyond.

The atmosphere reminded me of that found in the title “A Certain Slant of Light”, though Sadness is far more realistic and grounded (yes it contains a small amount of magical realism).

26. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Award Winner, Elizabeth, Fiction, Food, Mystery

The Long Quiche Goodbye by Avery Aames, 326 pages, read by Elizabeth, on 06/22/2013

The Long Quiche Goodbye

Sometimes after I finish a particularly dark or weighty book, I like to add something light to my reading diet. The Long Quiche Goodbye by Avery Aames, which won the Agatha Award for Best First Novel in 2010, was just the sort of dessert course I needed. It is no masterpiece of beautiful writing nor is it innovative in its plot – it is simply a fun, relaxing cozy mystery.
Cheese seller and amateur sleuth Charlotte Bessette has just expanded the family cheese business. But on the night of her grand reopening, her landlord is murdered just outside of her store – and her grandmother is the prime suspect. Charlotte works to find the guilty party to save her grandmother from prison.
The Long Quiche Goodbye is an enjoyable read. If you’re in the mood for a light, quick cozy mystery, this book is for you.