23. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Steam-punk, Tammy, Teen Books

Waistcoats & Weaponry (Finishing School, #3) by Gail Carriger, 298 pages, read by Tammy, on 02/20/2015

waistcoats & weaponry Sophronia continues her second year at Lady Genevieve’s Finishing School for Ladies of Quality. This semester they learn how to use a fan as a defensive weapon. This is especially usually if the fan has blades on the tips. Sidheag receives an upsetting letter from home dealing with werewolf politics of grandfather’s pack. While attending the engagement party of her brother, Sophronia, Dimity and Soap end up on an unexpected adventure on a stolen train. To their surprise Monique is also on board the train but who is she working for and what are they up to?

20. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Kira, Teen Books · Tags:

A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley, 265 pages, read by Kira, on 02/13/2015

wanting s Charlie Duskin is a shy but talented musician, who spends every Christmas at her grandparents, except this year, not only is her Mom dead, her Granny has recently died as well.  Next door to Grandpa lives Rose, who has ignored the girl from the city for years, but now that Rose wants to take a scholarship year off in the city, she realizes that Charlie may be her ticket out of the small backwater town she lives in, that Chamarblebarrlie visitsSmall Waterfall in Ku-ring-gai Chase NP, Sydeny, Australia.  This is a fine coming of age story.  I liked that people besides the main protagonist experience growth.  This book is recommended for those who liked Eleanor and Park (which I loved).

20. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Award Winner, Fiction, Sarah, Teen Books

The Program by Suzanne Young, 405 pages, read by Sarah, on 02/19/2015

  Sloane and her boyfriend, James, live in a world where suicide has become an epidemic among the teens.  The only cure is the Program which cures your depression, but sends you back hollow without your memories.  They vow to each other to stay safe and protect each other through anything, but how can they stay strong enough to avoid the Program?

This is an intense book that I really enjoyed reading.  What if you could wipe out all of the memories that make you sad?  Would it be worth it to lose your identity in the process?  I highly recommend “The Program.”

17. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Paula, Teen Books

If I Stay by Forman, Gayle, 201 pages, read by Paula, on 02/13/2015

In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck…

A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make–and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

 

12. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Teen Books

The Story of Owen by E.K. Johnston, 312 pages, read by Angie, on 02/11/2015

Owen Thorskard comes from a long line of dragon slayers dating back to the Vikings. His aunt Lottie is one of the most famous dragon slayers of modern times. After Lottie is hurt battling a dragon the family moves to the rural Canadian town of Trondheim, which is thrilled to get its very own family of dragon slayers. Owen’s father, Aodhan, takes on the duties of protecting the area while Lottie and her wife Hannah train Owen. Siobhan McQuaid meets Owen his first day of school when they are both late for English. She is a musician and is soon asked to become Owen’s bard. Turns out dragon slayers used to always have a bard to tell the tales of their heroics. But modern dragon slayers are all corporate or military and the charm of the profession is no more. Lottie and Aodhan want to bring back the traditional role of dragon slayers and they want to start with Owen. Siobhan and Owen train together and Siobhan learns more than how to fight. Turns out the dragons are moving into the area in larger and larger numbers and the fear is a new hatching ground has been established. They have to find a way to stop the dragons before their area becomes just another Michigan.

I loved this book! I had never heard of it until it became one of the sixteen contenders for School Library Journal’s Battle of the Books. I am so glad I was introduced to it. It is such a fun story. It is an alternative history where dragons do exist and they feed on carbon. So as the world became more and more industrialized more and more dragons appeared. I loved all the little details we learned about the world like the fact that Michigan had to be abandoned because the auto industry drew so much dragon attention it was overrun or like the fact that Queen Victoria was the only non-dragon slayer to be inducted into the Order of St. George for moving a hatching ground and enabling travel between England and Scotland. There were lots of little things like that that made the story even more charming. But the true star of this book was Siobhan. She narrates The Story of Owen in such a charming and humorous way. Through her we learn more about the world, the history of dragons, music and dragon slaying. I also really loved that there were no romantic feelings between Owen and Siobhan. They are friends and partners and that is it. It made for a nice change of pace to other teen books. I am definitely putting this series on my to-read list.

12. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Steam-punk, Tammy, Teen Books

Curtsies and Conspiracies (Finishing School #2) by Gail Carriger, 310 pages, read by Tammy, on 02/11/2015

curtsies The second book in the Finishing School series. Our young heroine, Sophronia has now been attending Mademoiselle Geraldines Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality for six months and her first major reviews are coming up. Will she pass the normal reviews of social skills of a high class Victorian lady to Mademoiselle Geraldine’s satisfaction? How will she do with the reviews of the real lessons of the school – being a spy? Sophronia enjoys sneaking around the school, a floating dirigible with multiple levels and ships connected together, at night to visit the ship’s boiler room as well as eavesdrop on the teachers’ quarters. Who among her friends can she trust? What about the teachers? Who is the schools secret patron? Someone high up in the queen’s inner circle, a vampire, a werewolf or other business interests?

10. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Sarah, Teen Books

If I Stay by Gayle Forman, 201 pages, read by Sarah, on 02/09/2015

Mia is out for a family drive and her whole life changes in an instant.  Her stresses about life choices, music vs boyfriend, are all put on hold as she has to make the most important decision of her life.  Will she stay or will she go on to be with her family?  This was a memoir of sorts as Mia flashes back to memories and re-lives her life so far.

This dark tale emphasizes how important family is to your back story and how music can infuse your life and influence it like nothing else can.  This was another one I was wishing I had the cd to while I was reading!

07. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Mystery, Paula, Teen Books

Paper Towns by Green, John, 305 pages, read by Paula, on 02/03/2015

When Margo Roth Spiegelman beckons Quentin Jacobsen in the middle of the night;dressed like a ninja and plotting an ingenious campaign of revenge;he follows her. Margo’s always planned extravagantly, and, until now, she’s always planned solo. After a lifetime of loving Margo from afar, things are finally looking up for Q . . . until day breaks and she has vanished. Always an enigma, Margo has now become a mystery. But there are clues. And they’re for Q.

Printz Medalist John Green returns with the trademark brilliant wit and heart-stopping emotional honesty that have inspired a new generation of readers.

 

06. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Historical Fiction, Teen Books

Like Water On Stone by Dana Walrath, 368 pages, read by Courtney, on 01/25/2015

1914, Ottoman Empire: The Donabedian family members have a good life. They mill grain, grow grapes and spend warm summer evenings playing music with friends and neighbors on the rooftop. Unbeknownst to the younger family members, unrest is brewing and their lives are about to change forever. The three youngest siblings are the stars of this story. There’s Shahen, who dreams of moving to America, Sosi, Shahen’s twin sister, who has recently fallen in love with a local boy, and Mariam, the five-year-old baby of the family. As political discontent grows, neighbors advise the family to leave, but their father firmly believes that their Turkish and Kurdish friends will help protect them from the soldiers. Unfortunately, things begin getting bad very quickly. The eldest sons are arrested and later massacred along with other men of fighting age from the village. One night, word comes that violence is on its way. The parents make the brave and devastating decision to send their remaining children off into the night. The three siblings then begin an epic journey over the mountains with little more than the clothes on their backs. All along, an eagle keeps watch over the family and helps to keep the children safe as they hide from soldiers and traverse the unforgiving mountainous landscape.
This novel-in-verse is one of the more heart-wrenching tales I’ve read in recent memory. It’s also the first time I’ve read any fiction about the Armenian Genocide of 1915. This family’s story is heartbreaking, but even worse is the knowledge that these children were the lucky ones. They manage to escape the worst of the violence and are spared from seeing what happens to their parents (though we do, thanks to our friend, the eagle). Since this novel is written in verse, it moves very quickly. The language is beautiful, even if the subject matter is not. The narrative cycles through each of the siblings in addition to the eagle. Readers will breathlessly turn the pages to see what happens to these kids. The inclusion of the eagle adds a touch of magic realism, as well as an effective quasi-omniscient narrator. The end of the book includes an author’s note, a glossary and a list of resources for further exploration of this horrific historical event.
06. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Courtney, Graphic Novel, Science Fiction, Teen Books

The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple, 304 pages, read by Courtney, on 01/24/2015

This is one of those books that really doesn’t lend itself well to summarizing, but I’ll do my best. There are several groups of characters that exist in several different dimensions (realities?). We have our world, with two of the main characters. Then there’s the world of the Wrenchies, a post-apocalyptic wasteland where only the children are technically “safe” from the Shadowsmen, a terrifying entity that attacks anyone “of age” with the purpose of turning their victims into more Shadowsmen. Then there’s yet another dimension with super-heroic adult versions of the Wrenchies as portrayed in the Wrenchies comic book that appears in each of the first two dimensions (our world and the Wrenchies’). The story began a few decades ago when a pair of brothers enter a cave and encounter one of the Shadowsmen. The story picks up later when one of the brothers is an adult living next door to an adolescent boy named Hollis. Hollis doesn’t fit in well with his peers. He wears a superhero outfit everywhere he goes and would prefer to be in his fictional worlds rather than the real one. He finds a totem hovering in the air outside his window and jumps to grab it. He’s then pulled into the world of the Wrenchies, who regard him with a sense of wonder and include him in their group without question. As things get weirder, a character known as “The Scientist” pulls the heroes in through a portal similar to the one Hollis came through. Now they all need to work together to defeat the scourge of Shadowsmen who are also taking advantage of the rifts between dimensions.
There’s a lot of unusual stuff going on in this graphic novel and it’s occasionally hard to explain exactly what’s happening, which means it’s not for everyone. It’s very gritty and violent, which one might expect from roving bands of armed children wandering around a post-apocalyptic world. The treatment of the kids is simultaneously disturbing and heart-warming. In spite of the extreme violence that comprises daily life in the world of the Wrenchies, the bonds they create amongst each other are strong and true. Add in some interesting philosophical dilemmas and you have a thoroughly fascinating, if somewhat disorienting, story. The artwork is lavishly detailed and full-color, making this a graphic novel you can really sink your teeth into. In fact, repeated reads may be required to fully appreciate the experience. I have a feeling one would notice something new upon each read.

06. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Paranormal, Teen Books

(Don't You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn, 336 pages, read by Courtney, on 01/22/2015

Gardnerville is not like any town you’ve been in before. Not only is it so remote that it’s only accessible via train (and that only within the last few decades), its residents never get sick and they live far longer than the average person. Prospective residents travel from far and wide for a chance to live within the confines of Gardnerville; the only people accepted are those with life-threatening illnesses. In that sense, Gardnerville is a life-saving town. Something of a paradise. But nothing comes without a price and this town is no exception. There’s a four-year cycle of escalating calamity. In a first year, someone might be mad at someone else and accidentally turn them into an animal. In a forth year, one might see the kind of catastrophe that befell Skylar’s family. Skylar’s sister, Piper, led dozens of the town’s teens on a midnight parade down to the railroad bridge where they all proceeded to jump, many of them to their deaths. Piper now resides in the town’s correctional facility, a place known for taking in troublemakers and turning out hollowed-out husks of human beings. Skylar’s pretty sure that’s where Piper is, anyway.
As the book opens, it’s another fourth year. It’s also late in the year, which is making everyone extra nervous. Skylar’s been living in a drug-fueled haze ever since Piper went away. She takes a pill made from some of the Forget-Me-Not flowers that grow in Gardnerville. Within minutes of taking them, Skylar begins to forget. When she isn’t under the influence of the pills, she’s wishing she had more. Something is nagging at her though. She keeps finding the tape recorder that she and Piper used to use when they were kids. It’s not the only reminder of Piper that she keeps stumbling across, which makes her decide that it’s time to start remembering so that she can get her sister out of the correctional facility and start addressing some of the town’s darker secrets.
There is so much going on in this book that it’s really difficult to summarize. The mythology of the town itself is a bit messy and explanations come very late. Skylar is an unreliably narrator since she’s constantly taking the pills to forget everything. The main narrative alternates with flashbacks that are presumably recorded onto the tape recorder that seems to turn up wherever Skylar has been. The people that surround Skylar don’t seem any more reliable than she does, which only adds to the disorientation.
While I generally love oddball books, this one was just a little too convoluted to make me fall head-over-heels. I did enjoy it, but even with all the craziness, I was able to figure out the major twist, so that was kind of disappointing. I can’t help but think that the confusion is just a bit over the top. It takes forever for the book to get to the point and when there is exposition, it comes in big chunks rather than being seamlessly intertwined with the plot. I had a like/hate relationship with Skylar, who frequently frustrates as she continually drugs herself. She never asks the questions the readers want her to ask and it feels as though she alone is the one dragging out the plot. Still, the concept was intriguing and the writing was decent. Adventurous and patient readers will likely find this entertaining.

06. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Dystopia, Graphic Novel, Horror, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Deadman Wonderland, Vol. 6 by Jinsei Kataoka, 212 pages, read by Courtney, on 01/14/2015

In yet another brutal and intriguing volume, Shiro tries to learn how to cook in order to cheer up Ganta, who has sunk into a deep depression.  It doesn’t really work.  In the aftermath of the prison break, the warden moves things in a new direction.  It is decided that the public will now be shown what “monsters” the Deadmen are.  Behind the scenes, prison officials are now turning regular prisoners into brain-washed Deadmen.  Every time anything gets better in this series, something devastating is sure to follow.  Still, very imaginative, if a bit disturbing.

By the time this book even starts, Kit has had an interesting life. As an orphan, he was picked up by a traveling circus and was known for his show riding before his age hit the double digits. Times changed though and Kit gave up the circus circuit for a more stable life as a servant to a nobleman. Life is uneventful until one night, when his master comes back to the house late at night, bleeding out from bullet wounds. As it turns out, the kind man that Kit thought was a relatively normal fellow is actually one of the most notorious highwayman in the country. In an attempt to go and seek help, Kit dons the clothes his master, Whistling Jack, grabs his French Bulldog, Demon and flees on his horse, Midnight. Jack instructed Kit to go and find a witch in the woods right before scrawling out an indecipherable will. After a daring escape that nearly gets Kit killed, he manages to stumble upon the very woman he was supposed to find. The witch informs him that he must now finish his master’s quest, which involves a number of fantastical beings whose existence was previously unknown to Kit. Kit tries to refuse, but since not completely the quest will end in his death, Kit has no real choice to but to comply. The quest? To rescue a fairy princess who is betrothed to the King of England. Finding the princess is easy. Getting her to cooperate is another matter altogether. Dodging both human and fairy enemies, Kit and Princess Morgana have little more than their wits to rely on as they seek safe passage to neutral territory.
This swashbuckling adventure story is a little bit slow to start with, but picks up steam as the main characters reveal themselves. The plot is very involved and the pacing is a bit quirky. Real historical details add a realistic edge to an otherwise whimsical tale. The occasional footnote provides clarifications primarily of the historical nature. Throughout are illustrations of various scenes and characters. The timing of the illustrations can be disruptive from time to time, but they’re a nice overall addition. There’s a lot of clever wordplay, though some of the vernacular may confuse younger readers. Fans of fantasy or historical adventure won’t be disappointed.

05. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Fairest by Marissa Meyer , 222 pages, read by Angie, on 02/04/2015

Fairest is Queen Levana’s story and what a story it is. While this doesn’t really change my opinion of the evil queen it does explain a bit about how she got to where she is. Basically Luna royalty is messed up. Levana and her sister Channery aren’t even sad when their parents are murdered. Channery becomes queen and just wants to sleep with every guy she is attracted to, doesn’t care about politics and loves tormenting her little sister. The torment began very early when Channery forced Levana into a fire that horribly disfigured her. This caused Levana to become really good at glamour so no one can see what she really looks like. Levana becomes obsessed with one of the royal guards and tricks him into sleeping with her and then marrying her basically by taking on the glamour of his dead wife. Levana is a pretty twisted character and does a lot of things that make you doubt her sanity. But crazy is often exciting to read about. This doesn’t really give a lot of info about the other books in the series but we do get glimpse of Cinder and Winter’s beginnings and of course how Levana became fixated on Earth.

05. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fantasy, Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber, 196 pages, read by Brian, on 02/05/2015

vampireRaven, a 16 year old girl, who lives in Dullsville, maybe the most boring place on earth.  Until a new family moves into a creepy old mansion.  The family never comes out of the mansion and creepy butler does all the shopping.  Raven is a dedicated goth and the fact the people of the town jokingly calls this new family vampires, peaks her interest even more.  After seeing the son, Alexander, out a night, she instantly falls in love.  Raven, really wants a vampire kiss and will do anything to find out if this is a family of vamps.

 

04. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Dystopia, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

Deadman Wonderland by Jinsei Kataoka, 224 pages, read by Courtney, on 01/13/2015

After the failure of their last attempt at getting a data chip out of Deadman Wonderland, Scar Chain regroups and tries again.  Ganta decides to try training and Shiro remains…well, Shiro.  DMW remains one of the darker and more intriguing manga series I’ve come across in recent memory.

04. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Teen Books

We Are The Goldens by Dana Reinhardt, 208 pages, read by Courtney, on 01/04/2015

Nell and Layla have always been close. They were born scarcely over 9 months apart and were so intertwined as kids that Nell called herself “Nellalya”. Now they’re in high school, Layla a junior and Nell a freshman. Their relationship is starting to strain as Layla becomes more secretive and begins pulling away from Nell. Nell still looks up to her sister and eventually discovers that reason for Layla’s recent behavior. Layla is involved in a romantic relationship with her art teacher. Rumors have been circulating about the relationship, but since the teacher is young and handsome, it’s not the first time such rumors have gone around. This may, however, be the first time the rumors were actually true. Nell is torn between wanting to tell someone about this relationship and keeping her sister’s secret. What’s a good sister to do?
While the plot mostly centers on Nell’s obsession with her sister, We Are the Goldens is really more about Nell coming of age. Nell is learning some very serious lessons while she’s trying to figure out what’s going on with her sister. Prior to high school, Nell’s identity is tied to her sisters and it is only when she realizes her sister’s judgement is skewed that Nell begins to learn who she is as a person. Nell makes some terrible choices too, but she at least learns from them and uses them to inform her decision-making process when Layla’s secrets appear to be getting out of control. Overall, a good read for fans of realistic fiction and family drama. The short length and brisk pacing means this can be read in a single afternoon.

04. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kristy, Paranormal, Romance, Teen Books

The Young Elites by Marie Lu, 355 pages, read by Kristy, on 01/29/2015

TheYoungElites.jpgAfter the blood fever, an often deadly sickness, spreads through the land, many infected died a painful death. The ones who don’t die are left with peculiar markings. Some of the survivors develop magical powers, including the protagonist of the novel, Adelina Amouteru.  When Adelina escapes from her cruel father, she finds herself in the midst of the Young Elites, a group of magical youth who seek to take the throne.

The Young Elites is a dark, sexy young adult novel that never has a dull moment. I loved watching Adelina develop her dark powers and her relationship with Enzo (the leader of the young elites).

04. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Poetry, Teen Books

Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann, 114 pages, read by Angie, on 02/03/2015

Poetry is not something I pick up and read very often. I don’t have anything against poetry I just like prose more. I am always glad to be introduced to interesting poetry however. I heard about Poisoned Apples through School Library Journal’s Battle of the Books and decided to give it a try. I am glad I did. The poems are a mix of contemporary and fairy tale themes. They deal with the things women have had to deal with forever: sex, body image, a male-dominated world, etc. They speak of things that are not always spoken about. These are not happy, light poems but dark and disturbing at times. They are beautiful in both their message and their words.

03. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki (Illustrator), 320 pages, read by Angie, on 02/02/2015

Rose and her family spend every summer at the beach. There she has her summer beach friend Windy. This summer the girls are somewhere between being kids and turning into teenagers. Rose’s family is also having a difficult time this summer. Her parents are fighting and her mom is not acting like she usually does. Rose gets irritated with her mom throughout the summer. There is a also a teen boy that Rose has a crush on. He works at the store where the girls go to get candy and horror movies. Unfortunately the teen boy has gotten his girlfriend pregnant and this is causing all kinds of drama with the kids at the beach and jealousy from Rose.

First of all this is a beautifully drawn book. I love the fact that it is not in your traditional black and white but colored in shades of blue and purple. I love that there are a variety of panels to tell the story depending on what is needed at the time. The story itself was a bit boring to tell the truth. There is drama and some interesting bits, but it is mostly Rose and Windy hanging out and talking about things like boys and boobs and babies and parents and such. It is exactly what two preteen girls would probably talk about, but it doesn’t make for exciting reading. There are a couple of bigger issues going on with the teen pregnancy and the mom’s miscarriage but they weren’t the focus of the story. I really wanted more growth from Rose and Windy. They seemed like the same immature girls at the end of the summer that they were at the beginning.