07. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Mystery, Teen Books

She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick, read by Courtney, on 05/20/2014

Laureth Peak’s father has taught her to look for recurring events, patterns, and numbers–a skill at which she’s remarkably talented. Her secret: She is blind. But when her father goes missing, Laureth and her 7-year-old brother Benjamin are thrust into a mystery that takes them to New York City where surviving will take all her skill at spotting the amazing, shocking, and sometimes dangerous connections in a world full of darkness. She Is Not Invisible is an intricate puzzle of a novel that sheds a light on the delicate ties that bind people to each other.

07. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Mystery, Teen Books, Thriller/Suspense

Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell, read by Courtney, on 05/18/2014

Rule One—Nothing is right, nothing is wrong.
Rule Two—Be careful.
Rule Three—Fight using your legs whenever possible, because they’re the strongest part of your body. Your arms are the weakest.
Rule Four—Hit to kill. The first blow should be the last, if at all possible.
Rule Five—The letters are the law.

Kit takes her role as London’s notorious “Perfect Killer” seriously. The letters and cash that come to her via a secret mailbox are not a game; choosing who to kill is not an impulse decision. Every letter she receives begins with “Dear Killer,” and every time Kit murders, she leaves a letter with the dead body. Her moral nihilism and thus her murders are a way of life—the only way of life she has ever known.

But when a letter appears in the mailbox that will have the power to topple Kit’s convictions as perfectly as she commits her murders, she must make a decision: follow the only rules she has ever known, or challenge Rule One, and go from there.

Katherine Ewell’s Dear Killer is a sinister psychological thriller that explores the thin line between good and evil, and the messiness of that inevitable moment when life contradicts everything you believe.

07. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fantasy, Fiction, Romance, Teen Books

Poison by Bridget Zinn, read by Courtney, on 05/12/2014

Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend.

But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart . . . misses.

Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?

Kyra is not your typical murderer, and she’s certainly no damsel-in-distress—she’s the lovable and quick-witted hero of this romantic novel that has all the right ingredients to make teen girls swoon.

07. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books

The Klaatu Terminus by Pete Hautman, read by Courtney, on 05/10/2014

In a far distant future, Tucker Feye and the inscrutable Lia find themselves atop a crumbling pyramid in an abandoned city. In present-day Hopewell, Tucker’s uncle Kosh faces armed resistance and painful memories as he attempts to help a terrorized woman named Emma, who is being held captive by a violent man. And on a train platform in 1997, a seventeen-year-old Kosh is given an instruction that will change his life, and the lives of others, forever. Tucker, Lia, and Kosh must evade the pursuit of maggot-like Timesweeps, battle Master Gheen’s cult of Lambs, all while they puzzle out the enigmatic Boggsians as they search for one another and the secrets of the diskos. Who built them? Who is destroying them? Where — and when — will it all end?

07. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Romance, Teen Books

Splintered by A.G. Howard, read by Courtney, on 05/05/2014

Alyssa Gardner has spent her entire life trying to separate herself from the legacy of her grandmother, Alice Lidell (i.e. the Alice of “Alice in Wonderland” fame). It’s bad enough that Alyssa hears the voices of insects and the occasional plant, she doesn’t need to be reminded that crazy runs in the family. Each generation of women in Alyssa’s family begins to go mad shortly after coming of age. Alyssa has been dreading what seems to be the inevitable. After a visit to her mother in the mental hospital, Alyssa becomes convinced that madness might not be at the root of all this. She instead finds herself stepping through the proverbial looking glass and stumbling into Wonderland. She accidentally drags her best friend/crush, Jeb, through with her. Once in Wonderland, she has to perform a series of tasks in order to break the curse that has been wreaking havoc in her family for decades. Unfortunately, it’s very seldom that anyone in Wonderland will tell her the whole truth about anything and there’s this gorgeous Morpheus character making things more confusing…Can Alyssa break the curse and free the remaining female members of her family? 

I liked this re-imagining well enough. Many of the updates from the original were rather inspired. The plot tends to get bogged down in endless details and the sexual tension, while entertaining at first, wears thin quickly. I really wanted to see Alyssa strike out on her own, but it didn’t really pan out like that. Slightly formulaic and a bit on the angsty side, Splintered is more a book for the die-hard paranormal romance fans looking to branch out from the high school setting.

07. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Courtney, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

Attack on Titan, Volume 01 by Hajime Isayama , read by Courtney, on 05/01/2014

I picked up this series because my teens are massive fans and our anime club has watched several episodes. The premise is interesting enough: a race of massive humanoid creatures known as Titans have destroyed enough of humanity that the entire remaining population lives within the concentric walls of a single city. One hundred years goes by without any attacks and humanity has developed a false sense of security. Eren Yeager joins the guardians of the wall and dreams of a life outside. Then the Titans return. Destruction and bloodshed ensue.

I didn’t really get into the manga and a lot of that might have been due to the translation. Unless the writing wasn’t very good to begin with. Sometimes it’s hard to tell. I kept stumbling across lines like “Your father, Dr. Yeager, said…” and unless there’s something seriously wrong with Eren, I’m guessing he knows that Dr. Yeager is his father. I might have forgiven it once, but it happened multiple times alongside other examples of clumsy translation. I’ll leave this one to my teens. 

05. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Jessica, Romance, Teen Books

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry, read by Jessica, on 06/04/2014

So wrong for each other …and yet so right.

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with “freaky” scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. 

But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible. 

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

05. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Kristy, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Cress by Marissa Meyer, read by Kristy, on 05/24/2014

Cress is the third book in the Lunar Chronicles series. Cinder and her fugitive crew are focused on evading capture while simultaneously attempting to overthrow the evil Queen Levana. Their only hope lies in getting Cress, a professional hacker, to help them. Their plans go awry when the group is suddenly separated, leaving them crippled when they need each other most. Will they manage to stop Kai’s marriage to Levana, thus saving Earth from utter devastation?

This book was fast paced and a great read. My only complaint is that this book ended on a major cliffhanger when I thought the series would be over. I am now anxiously looking forward to the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

05. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Graphic Novel, Kristy, Teen Books

Blankets by Craig Thompson, read by Kristy, on 05/26/2014

Blankets is a graphic novel that focuses on a young adult named Craig as he explores and ultimately denounces his faith in Christianity. Blankets weaves Craig’s playful yet sad tale by displaying his sibling rivalry with his brother and his first passionate romance. The illustrations are beautiful and do a great job or portraying the erratic emotions of this adolescent boy.

05. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Award Winner, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Multicultural Fiction, Tammy, Teen Books

The Chosen by Chaim Potok , read by Tammy, on 06/03/2014

chosenA beautifully written story of two teenage Jewish boys who become friends even though they are from different Jewish traditions. The narrator, Reuven, is from a modern Orthodox Jewish family with an intellectual Zionist father. While Danny is an academically gifted son and heir to a Hasidic rebbe. Set in 1940s Brooklyn the two young men form a deep friendship that lasts into adulthood. They struggle through adolescence, family conflicts and crisis of faith during the Holocaust when the stories reach the U.S. together. The two fathers clash over intellectual and spiritual matters and of course have conflicts between themselves and their sons. Though the book explores religious differences between the two Jewish traditions the struggles reflect on issues we all face no matter what religion or family background.

 

03. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Teen Books · Tags:

Fire : tales of elemental spirits by Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson, read by Kira, on 05/29/2014

fire1 hellhound5 stories around the motif of fire beings.  I preferred Robin’s tales over her husband Peter’s (big surprise, since I’d never heard of him before).  The best tale was called Hellhound, about a demon who changed sides.  Peter’s tales had some very excellent sections, and then other parts seemed liked they needed fleshing out (also, could have done without the sexism – no it was a made-up time, so did Not need to be part of the context).

02. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Teen Books

Chalice by Robin McKinley, read by Kira, on 05/22/2014

chalice2chalice3chalice - Copy - Copy  Beekeper Mirasol is unexpectedly chosen as the next Chalice, the most important adviser to the Master.  I was absolutely delighted with this tale.  Previous Chalices usually used water, or some milk, rarely blood.  But Mirasol’s element seems to be honey.The pacing, the worldbuilding, the level of tension, was perfect for me.  I am now seeking out all of Robin McKinley’s works.-Gold-Plated-Chalicechalices - Copychal - Copylggoblet - CopychalicecircleArdagh_Chalice - Copy

01. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fiction, Jane, Science Fiction, Teen Books

The Pledge by Kimberly Derting, read by Jane, on 05/29/2014

In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she’s spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It’s there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she’s never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed.

Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can’t be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country’s only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime.

01. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Jane, Science Fiction, Teen Books

The Taking by Kimberly Derting, read by Jane, on 05/15/2014

A flash of white light . . . and then . . . nothing. 

When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ’n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn’t aged a day. 

Everything else about Kyra’s old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men. 

Confused and lost, Kyra isn’t sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin’s annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra’s father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own?

28. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Paranormal, Teen Books

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake, read by Angie, on 05/28/2014

The old gods are dying. Hermes is wasting away, Athena has feathers growing inside her, and Demeter has become the floor of the desert. Athena and Hermes are on a quest to find out why they are dying. Demeter tells them to find Cassandra to help them. Cassandra is not an old one, she is a reincarnated prophetess living the life of a teenage girl with no idea who she once was. She is happy predicting sporting events and coin toss. She is happy with her boyfriend Aiden, her best friend Andi and her brother Harry. Her world is turned upside down when she starts having visions of gods dying or being attacked. She has no idea what is going on. Athena and Hermes track Cassandra through the witches of Circe (where they find Odysseus). Along the way they are attacked by Hera, Poseidon and Aphrodite who are waging war against them in the hopes of stopping their deaths. Cassandra is awoken to her true heritage once Athena gets a hold of her. She also finds out that Aiden is Apollo and he doesn’t appear to be dying like the other gods. She will have to decide whether to run or fight as war wages around her.

I absolutely loved Anna Dressed in Blood and Girl of Nightmares so I had high hopes for this book. I didn’t hate it, but I also didn’t love it. I thought it moved pretty slow. It is the beginning of a series so it is setting up who everyone is and what is happening, but not a whole lot happens other than that. It also ends in a bit of a strange place where you are not sure how things are going to play out in the future. I really enjoy books that put the old gods in the modern world and I enjoyed seeing how Athena and Hermes and the rest had adjusted to life today. I wish we would have gotten more backstory on what they had been doing for the last 2000 years and why they are suddenly dying after all this time. Maybe those questions will be answered in future books.

27. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Teen Books

Unthinkable by Nancy Werlin, read by Angie, on 05/26/2014

Fanella has been trapped in Faerie for 400 years. The curse on her family has finally been broken, but she finds she is under another curse and she cannot die. Because Fanella started the curse on the Scarboroughs and doomed each generation of Scarborough women to be sent to Faerie, she feels she should die now that the curse has been broken by Lucy. The Faerie queen tells her she too must perform three acts in order to break her curse. Fanella jumps on the chance before she is told the acts must be of destruction and on her family in the human world. Fanella will do anything for the chance at death so she agrees. Then she is also told if she doesn’t complete the acts the original curse will be reinstated. Fanella goes to her family and convinces them she has been freed from Faerie. She begins her acts of destruction; first destroying safety, then love, then hope. All the while she is trying to work through her feelings for her family and her new feelings for Walker, the handsome friend of the family who has taken an interest in her. 

I didn’t love this book. Perhaps if I had read the first book where Lucy broke the curse I might have been more invested in it. I found I got really frustrated with Fanella’s tendency to just jump into things and not think them through. I loved her Faerie companion though. The Queen turns Ryland (her brother) into a cat and sends him into the human world to advise Fanella. He is full of snarky comments and truly adds a humorous touch to the book. I have to admit I was a bit disappointed in the ending as well. Fanella spends all her time working towards her death, but in the end chooses to live out her life (with Walker of course). I found it typical and not surprising but a bit of a muddle to the story. Not a bad book, just not my favorite.

21. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Teen Books

The F- It List by Julie Halpern, read by Angie, on 05/20/2014

Alex is not speaking to her best friend because she slept with her boyfriend the night of her dad’s funeral. So she spends the whole summer dealing with her grief over her dad. She goes back to school ready to forgive Becca only to find out she has cancer. So the friendship is back on and Becca shares her bucket list with Alex. They call it the f*** it list. Becca has been working on this list since she was 12 and it has a wide range of things she wants Alex to take care of for her. While Alex is working on the list, she starts hanging out with Leo. And when I say hanging out I really mean making out. Alex is obsessed with horror movies and Leo shares her love of the genre. But Alex is a very closed off person who comes off as not very nice. She doesn’t want to open herself up to her feelings for Leo and drives him away instead. 

This book didn’t end up being exactly what I thought it was going to be. I assumed it would be more about Alex and Becca’s relationship and dealing with Becca’s cancer. Instead it was more about Alex and Leo’s relationship and Alex dealing with her feelings. That was fine, but I felt like it was a little misleading. This is also not a book for the younger teen crowd. There is a LOT of language and a lot of talk about sex and a lot of well described make out sessions. Nothing wrong with that either, but it might shock (or educate) younger readers (and their parents). I enjoyed the story of Alex as she dealt with her grief over the loss of her dad, her fears about Becca and her new relationship with Leo. It was a fast read just not suitable for younger audiences. 

A fairy tale-like story.  The rulers of Montagne have been rumored to possess and use magic.  But this has been only a rumor.  Grandmonther (queen mother) Benificence, her two daughters Wisdom and Temperance, along with an orphan named Fortitude and a miller’s son Tips all end up at Wisdom’s wedding to the neighboring and coveting kingdom.  Its a pretty fast paced, fun tale, written mostly in letter, epistolary format. wisdom's kiss wisdom-s-kiss

10. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

The Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman, read by Angie, on 05/10/2014

Timothy Hunter is approached by four strange men. These men talk of magic and offer to show Tim the magical world. He is sent to the past with the Phantom Stranger. He learns about magic in the present day with John Constantine. He travels to other realms with Dr. Occult. And he is taken to the end of the universe with Mister E. Along the way he is pursued, tempted, tricked and educated. All of this is to give him the choice of a life of magic or a life of science. But does he really have a choice? I enjoyed this book and its look into the world of magic; however, I do think I would have gotten more of the references if I had been reading other comics related to this one. It seems like many of the characters are drawn from other stories, which I haven’t read, so I didn’t get as excited by their appearances as I would have if I knew who they were.

10. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri (Author), Randy DuBurke (Illustrator), read by Angie, on 05/09/2014

During the summer of 1994, Chicago and the nation were glued to the news stories of eleven-year-old Yummy. Yummy was a shorty member of the Black Disciples trying to prove his worth to the gang leaders. He shot into a crowd of his rivals, but missed them all and instead hit 14-year-old Shavon. The murder of a young girl by an even younger boy shocked the nation and brought the harsh realities of inner-city Chicago to light. Yummy went on the run, but was eventually gunned down by his own gang members when they got tired of all the media coverage. This story is narrated by a fictional classmate of Yummy’s who wants to find out what happened to Yummy and why he turned out the way he did. It is a fast read and one you will not want to put down.