25. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Noelle, Paranormal

Rooms by Lauren Oliver, 320 pages, read by Noelle, on 11/06/2014

Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family, bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna, have arrived for their inheritance. But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls.

21. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Tammy, Teen Books

Where she Went by Gayle Forman, 264 pages, read by Tammy, on 11/17/2014

where she wentThe sequel to If I Stay, the story starts three years after the last book. This time the story is told entirely from Adam’s point of view as well. Adam is still dealing emotionally with what happened after Mia’s accident. The story tells how he is coping (or not) with his band’s sudden fame and his own popularity in the midst of his sadness and anger. A moving work that has a lovely ending.

 

20. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein, 304 pages, read by Angie, on 11/19/2014

Alexandriaville has been without a public library for 12 years. Luigi Lemoncello is a famous inventor of games and puzzles who grew up in Alexandriaville. He has turned the old bank into the most amazing library ever and in order to celebrate its opening he holds a contest for 12-year-olds. The winning twelve 12-year-olds get to attend a lock-in at the library. It turns out to be more than a lock-in though. The library is full of games and puzzles the kids have to solve in order to find the way out of the library. The winners get to be Lemoncello’s spokesperson. Kyle is one of the twelve lucky kids selected to participate in the lockin. He is a huge fan of Mr. Lemoncello’s games and does a great job with all the challenges in the library. He is joined by other kids from school, some friends some not. The kids eventually pair up into two teams to solve all the puzzles. The other team is headed by Charles who is your typical bad guy with a superiority complex. The kids learn how to operate within the library and how to be true to Lemoncello’s dream for the perfect library space.

This book is a librarian’s dream book full of puzzles that require library knowledge to solve. The kids learn about the dewey decimal system and how the library is set up. The games are tricky using books and rebuses and library cards. The library itself is more wondrous than any library could ever be. I love how the characters are constantly referencing book titles; you could create a pretty good reading list from the titles listed in these pages. My only complaint was the characters. They are all pretty stereotypical with little depth. I think this is a book kids will gravitate towards though…who doesn’t love puzzles!

18. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Lisa, Teen Books

Althea & Oliver by Cristina Moracho, 366 pages, read by Lisa, on 11/18/2014

What if you live for the moment when life goes off the rails—and then one day there’s no one left to help you get it back on track?

Althea Carter and Oliver McKinley have been best friends since they were six; she’s the fist-fighting instigator to his peacemaker, the artist whose vision balances his scientific bent. Now, as their junior year of high school comes to a close, Althea has begun to want something more than just best-friendship. Oliver, for his part, simply wants life to go back to normal, but when he wakes up one morning with no memory of the past three weeks, he can’t deny any longer that something is seriously wrong with him. And then Althea makes the worst bad decision ever, and her relationship with Oliver is shattered. He leaves town for a clinical study in New York, resolving to repair whatever is broken in his brain, while she gets into her battered Camry and drives up the coast after him, determined to make up for what she’s done.

Their journey will take them from the rooftops, keg parties, and all-ages shows of their North Carolina hometown to the pool halls, punk houses, and hospitals of New York City before they once more stand together and face their chances. Set in the DIY, mix tape, and zine culture of the mid-1990s, Cristina Moracho’s whip-smart debut is an achingly real story about identity, illness, and love—and why bad decisions sometimes feel so good.

17. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake by Julie Sternberg, 192 pages, read by Angie, on 11/15/2014

Eleanor is best friends with Pearl and gets to spend several afternoons with her each week. That all changes when Pearl is assigned to be the buddy of new girl Ainsley. Now Pearl and Ainsley are spending all their time together and Eleanor is feeling left out. She has also been given the lead in the school play where she has to sing and she has to hug Nicholas, a boy she may or may not like. Eleanor his having a hard time dealing with all of this and makes a big mistake. She tells a secret she isn’t supposed to know and may have just ruined her friendship with Pearl forever. She has to work really hard to make up for what she has done.

This is a novel in verse that doesn’t read like one. It reads more like a regular book with very short paragraphs. I really like novels in verse so this style made the book a bit awkward for me, but I think will make it easier for kids to grasp. Eleanor is one of those characters that seems to be pretty common right now. She is a regular girl dealing with regular problems like school and friends and boys. It is a an awkward time for girls and she is a character that I think girls that age can relate to.

08. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki (Illustrator), 320 pages, read by Courtney, on 10/19/2014

Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It’s their getaway, their refuge. Rosie’s friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose’s mom and dad won’t stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It’s a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

In This One Summer two stellar creators redefine the teen graphic novel. Cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, the team behind Skim, have collaborated on this gorgeous, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about a girl on the cusp of her teen age—a story of renewal and revelation.

08. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Fiction, Teen Books

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu, 208 pages, read by Courtney, on 10/18/2014

Everyone knows Alice slept with two guys at one party.

But did you know Alice was sexting Brandon when he crashed his car?

It’s true. Ask ANYBODY.

Rumor has it that Alice Franklin is a slut. It’s written all over the bathroom stall at Healy High for everyone to see. And after star quarterback Brandon Fitzsimmons dies in a car accident, the rumors start to spiral out of control.

In this remarkable debut novel, four Healy High students—the girl who has the infamous party, the car accident survivor, the former best friend, and the boy next door—tell all they know.

But exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end there’s only one person to ask: Alice herself.

08. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Fiction, Teen Books

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, 371 pages, read by Courtney, on 10/11/2014

A brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

08. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Fiction, Teen Books

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld, 599 pages, read by Courtney, on 10/06/2014

Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she’s made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings…

Told in alternating chapters is Darcy’s novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the ‘Afterworld’ to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved – and terrifying – stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.

08. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Jungle of Bones by Ben Mikaelsen, 224 pages, read by Angie, on 11/06/2014

Dylan steals a car and ruins a farmer’s field because he is mad at his mother. He is also mad that his father went to Darfur and was killed. His mom packs him off with his uncle Todd for the summer. Todd is an ex-marine and doesn’t take any of Dylan’s crap. He is taking Dylan on a trip to Papua New Guinea (PNG) for the summer. They are going to be looking for a WWII bomber that was shot down in the jungle. Todd’s father and Dylan’s grandfather was the only survivor. Dylan bucks authority at every turn even when it is in his best interests like taking malaria pills or learning how to survive in the jungle. Once they get to PNG, Dylan still keeps blaming others and being stupid. He compounds his stupidity by getting separated from the group and getting lost in the jungle. He does everything wrong and almost ends up losing a leg. Yet he still doesn’t take responsibility for his actions. It is not until he is on his way home that he grows up a little bit.

I thought this book was interesting. I really enjoyed the WWII story and the search for the plane. Unfortunately that is interrupted by Dylan’s trip into stupidity. He is one of the least likable characters I have read in a long time. Even at the end I didn’t really believe his transformation because he was just so unlikable throughout the book. I was actually wishing he lost his leg at one point. I think some kids will enjoy this story of survival and growing up, but I fear some may be completely turned off by how horrible Dylan is.

08. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Poetry

Another Day as Emily by Eileen Spinelli, 240 pages, read by Angie, on 11/07/2014

Suzy’s little brother becomes a hero when he calls 911 for a neighbor. Suddenly Suzy is second fiddle in the family and Parker is getting all the attention. Suzy’s and her best friend Alison are taking part in Tween Time at the library during the summer and learning about the 1800s. Suzy is also friends with Gilbert, a young man who does odd jobs around the neighborhood. Gilbert is accused of stealing from one of the neighbors, but Suzy is sure he didn’t do it. When Suzy learns about Emily Dickinson at the library she decides that maybe it is time to give up being Suzy and start being Emily. She wears white dresses and becomes a recluse. However, being a recluse is hard work and Emily misses some of the things she did as Suzy.

I enjoy novels in verse and this one was fairly well done. I liked the family dynamic of Suzy’s family, but I felt like most parents would not have put up with the recluse nonsense. I did think it was pretty realistic how Parker got more attention than Suzy and she got jealous. That is something a lot of kids have to work through. I am not sure how familiar kids today would be with Emily Dickinson and her poetry.

08. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Charlie Bumpers vs. the Squeaking Skull by Bill Harley, 160 pages, read by Angie, on 11/07/2014

It is Halloween and Charlie is determined to have an epic holiday. He doesn’t want to take his younger sister trick-or-treating like he does every year. He wants to go to his friend Alex’s house in a wealthy neighborhood. he thinks big houses equals big candy. He also wants to have an epic costume but his mom is really busy. Charlie enlists the help of his art teacher to make his bat costume. Now the only thing he has to worry about is the fact that Alex plans to show scary movies at his house. Charlie doesn’t like scary movies at all. His brother Matt helps him out by de-scarifying him and telling him scary stories. This is another hit for the Charlie Bumpers series. I think Bill Harley does a great job of writing about things that all kids worry about and making the stories relatable.

08. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome by Bill Harley, 155 pages, read by Angie, on 11/07/2014

Charlie is back in his second adventure. This time his class is putting on a play. Charlie really wants to be the evil sorcerer, but Mrs. Burke assigns him the part of the nice gnome. The nice gnome actually has a lot of lines, but he is nice and that is not what Charlie wants. He tries a lot of different things to get out of the part from trading parts, changing the lines to be more funny and doing a horrible job during rehearsals. Nothing works and Mrs. Burke just becomes disappointed in Charlie. Charlie has to resign himself to being the nice gnome. At home he is rebelling against walking his dog even though that is his assigned job. He doesn’t think it is fair that he is the only one who has to walk the dog. Charlie is dealing with things a lot of kids have to deal with: school issues, chores, wanting to be cool. I think this is a really good series for younger readers. There is a lot about Charlie to like and identify with. He is not a bad kid he just doesn’t always make the best decisions.

05. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm, 208 pages, read by Angie, on 11/04/2014

One day Ellie’s mom brings a teenager home. She claims this young Melvin is actually grandpa Melvin. He has found the fountain of youth, which turns out to be a jellyfish. Of course he experimented on himself and reversed the aging process. Only problem is that his lab has been bought out and they are pushing Melvin out; of course there is also the fact that he looks 15 instead of 75 like he is supposed to. So Melvin moves in with Ellie and her mom and starts going to school with her. Melvin and the mom do not get along. Melvin doesn’t respect the fact that Ellie’s mom has chosen a career in drama instead of following in his footsteps with science. Melvin also doesn’t fit in at school since he still acts, dresses and talks like a 75 year old man with no respect for anyone else. Ellie however kind of likes having her grandpa around. She has found that middle school is a whole new world compared to elementary school. Her best friend has moved on to the world of volleyball and Ellie doesn’t find it easy to make friends. Soon Melvin has pulled Raj (scary goth kid who is actually pretty nice) into their circle and concocted plans to break into his lab and steal his jellyfish. Ellie is also finding that she fits in with the science world of Melvin a lot more than she does with the drama/theater world of her parents.

I thought Ellie was fantastic as a character. She is trying to find her way in the world and trying to figure out who she is just like everyone else. She doesn’t feel like she fits in with her family or her friends anymore and has to find where she does fit. I liked the fact that the complete misfit Melvin actually teaches her more about being herself. Melvin doesn’t care if he fits in; he just does what he wants when he wants to. Ellie develops an appreciation for science and a better relationship with her grandpa through this process. I really like well done coming of age stories and this one is excellent.

02. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Double Reverse by Fred Bowen, 125 pages, read by Angie, on 11/01/2014

So sports books really aren’t my thing and this one wasn’t really that different. I can see it finding fans with sports-loving boys, but I really wanted a bit more plot. It was more football plays than plot. The book tells the story of Jesse who is starting freshman football with a team that has a terrible quarterback. Jesse’s brother Jay has always been the quarterback in the family but he is off playing college ball. When the quarterback is injured Jesse decides to try out even though he doesn’t look like a quarterback. Turns out he is really good, knows all the plays and even writes a few of his own. His move allows big kid Quinn to handle the ball and bit and little guy Langston to get some game time. The team needs a kicker which they find in soccer girl Savannah. Turns out that even though none of them look like ideal player they all got game. I enjoyed the fact that the characters defied the expectations of their looks to be who they wanted to be on the team, but I wanted a bit more meat to the story. It was a lot of play-by-play and little character or plot development.

02. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Courage for Beginners by Karen Harrington, 304 pages, read by Angie, on 11/01/2014

Mysti dreams of going to France one day, but first she must survive 7th grade. She knows it is going to be a difficult year when her only friend Anibal decides to conduct a social experiment wherein he becomes a hipster and cool. In order to do that he has to ditch Mysti and in fact become a super jerk. Mysti is stuck on loser island with fact-filled Wayne Kovok (my name is a palidrome) and superhero Rama Khan (*not really a superhero but her name invokes it). Things at home aren’t much better. Mysti’s mom is agoraphobic and never leaves the house. This isn’t a huge problem because dad is there to take care of things. When dad falls out of a tree and ends up in a coma things go downhill fast. Mysti is forced to take care of the family and try and stretch their meager supplies. She eventually has to figure out a way to get additional supplies when the family accepts the fact that dad isn’t coming home anytime soon.

This is a story about acknowledging your situation and then taking steps to change the things you can change and accept the things you can’t. Mysti takes a while to figure things out, but she eventually starts standing up for herself both at school and at home. It helps that Rama Khan is there to boost her up when she needs it. I enjoyed Mysti as a character, but I did get a bit frustrated by the story. These types of novels are all about the kids taking charge of their situations and becoming more resourceful which is great. And usually the parents are gone or withdrawn from the kids life. However, there is generally a bit more realism to the story. I thought Mysti’s home and school life were very realistically portrayed. I could see trying to cope with a disabled parent and dealing with friends who abandon you. What I couldn’t buy was no one realizing what Mysti’s home life was like. It should have been a red flag at the hospital when the dad is there for weeks and weeks and no one comes to visit and the doctor has to talk to the mom on the phone about dad’s care. It should have been another red flag when you have a 12 year old walking to the grocery store and only buying what will fit in her backpack. The neighbors should have noticed that the mom never left the house and stepped in. You would have thought even the school would have noticed. I guess I just wanted someone to realize what Mysti was going through and give her a break. It was an excellent book aside from that point.

02. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord, 218 pages, read by Angie, on 11/01/2014

Lucy’s dad is a photographer and loves to move his family around a lot. This time they have ended up on a lake in New Hampshire. One day they move in and the next dad takes off on a photo shoot in Arizona. Luckily there is a lot to occupy Lucy’s time. She immediately meets their neighbors, the Baileys, and becomes friends with Nate and Grandma Lilah. They come to the lake every summer, but this one might be the last because Grandma Lilah is not well. Nate introduces her to the loons of the lake and Loon Patrol. Every day they head out on the lake to check on the pair of loons who are nesting there. Lucy also finds out about a photo contest her dad is judging and decides to enter. She too is a photographer and gets Nate to help her with the contest. During her quest for the perfect shots she learns more about the area, Nate’s family and herself.

I really enjoy Lord’s writing. She is a wonderful storyteller and really makes the world she is writing about come alive. I like that Lucy is a regular girl, but one with a special talent. She is learning to see the world through a photographer’s eye and the world opens up around her. She is able to see things that others might not or might not want to see. Her photos show how vulnerable Grandma Lilah is and reveal how much Nate doesn’t want to accept that his grandma has dementia. Lucy also works hard to convince herself that she is good enough for her absent father. It seems that everything she does it to please him until she realizes how to please herself. Even though there is a lot going on in this book, it is a quieter story with more depth than action.

29. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Lisa

All Four Stars by Tara Dairman , 288 pages, read by Lisa, on 10/26/2014

Meet Gladys Gatsby: New York’s toughest restaurant critic. (Just don’t tell anyone that she’s in sixth grade.)

Gladys Gatsby has been cooking gourmet dishes since the age of seven, only her fast-food-loving parents have no idea! Now she’s eleven, and after a crème brûlée accident (just a small fire), Gladys is cut off from the kitchen (and her allowance). She’s devastated but soon finds just the right opportunity to pay her parents back when she’s mistakenly contacted to write a restaurant review for one of the largest newspapers in the world.

But in order to meet her deadline and keep her dream job, Gladys must cook her way into the heart of her sixth-grade archenemy and sneak into New York City—all while keeping her identity a secret! Easy as pie, right?

28. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Noelle

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty, 396 pages, read by Noelle, on 10/28/2014

So, once I realized that the secret would not be revealed in the first few chapters, I was entirely too impatient to wait.  I’m not proud, but I looked up “the secret” online.   I was worried it would be one of those books where the secret was NEVER revealed and I just couldn’t take it any more.  Of course, soon after I looked it up, it was revealed in the book.  So, if you decide to read this, you might want to be a tad more patient than I was.  The secret IS revealed a little less than halfway through.

Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .
Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

Acclaimed author Liane Moriarty has written a gripping, thought-provoking novel about how well it is really possible to know our spouses—and, ultimately, ourselves.

 

23. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Just Jake by Jake Marcionette, Victor Rivas Villa (Illustrations), 160 pages, read by Angie, on 10/22/2014

Jake has just moved with his family from Florida to Massachusetts and isn’t happy about it. In Florida he was the cool kid with tons of AWESOMENESS. However, his awesomeness doesn’t seem to have followed him north. He has problems making friends and his cool factor is near the bottom. His one saving grace is the kid cards he makes. They are trading cards of all the kids both in his old school and his new one. I didn’t realize this book was written by an actual 12-year-old until the end. It actually makes me feel a bit better about it. As I was reading it I thought the story was a bit unsubstantial and juvenile, which makes sense when you consider the author. However, I thought it was a great effort by young Marcionette. I think this book will appeal to fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Patterson’s Middle School series.