27. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Classics, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Rachel, Teen Books

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis, read by Rachel, on 02/27/2014

The Pevensie siblings travel back to Narnia to help a prince denied his rightful throne as he gathers an army in a desperate attempt to rid his land of a false king. But in the end, it is a battle of honor between two men alone that will decide the fate of an entire world.

A battle is about to begin in Prince Caspian, the fourth book in C. S. Lewis’s classic fantasy series, which has been enchanting readers of all ages for over sixty years. This is a stand-alone novel, but if you would like to see more of Lucy and Edmund’s adventures, read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the fifth book in The Chronicles of Narnia.

 

27. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Steam-punk, Tammy, Teen Books · Tags:

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles 1) by Marissa Meyer, read by Tammy, on 02/09/2014

This was an enjoyable steam-punk retelling of Cinderella. Cinder is a cyborg mechanic who can’t remember her life before the accident that claimed her parents and made it medically necessary to replace her leg and other parts with machinery. She was adopted but her new guardian dies before he is able to bring her home to his wife and daughters and tell them why he has adopted a cyborg child. She works to make money for her stepmother and keep their household afloat though they treat her like a servant.

A plague is running rampant throughout their country and attacking young and old, rich and poor alike. Her favorite sister becomes ill days before a ball is planned. She tries to encourage her sister by telling her how she met the prince when he brought an automaton to her shop for repair and how he invited her to the ball. She promises to get the prince to dance with her sister if she will just get better and be able to go to the ball.

The prince has troubles of his own. His father is gravely ill with the plague. The ruler of Mars is on her way with an entourage to discuss peace talks that all his advisers believe is a prelude to war. Of course, the prince could marry the queen of Mars and make her his Empress ensuring peace but would that really be the best thing for both planets?

27. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Paranormal, Tammy, Teen Books · Tags:

Beautiful Darkness (Caster Chronicles # 2) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, read by Tammy, on 02/16/2014

Now that Lena has made it past her 16th birthday and managed to break the family curse of being chosen for either dark or light without any say in the matter, she is trying to cope with the cost. The death of her beloved Uncle Macon. And still she will have to make a choice…. light or dark caster. Ethan thinks she will have to choose by her seventeenth birthday as the song they can both her has changed from sixteen moons to seventeen moons.

But Lena’s not the only one trying to figure out who she really is and dealing with her family’s past. Ethan has some personal discoveries of his own to make. Will Lena choose light or dark? Will she and Ethan make it through these choices together or has to much changed?

26. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocolyptic, Dystopia, Fiction, Jane, Teen Books

Maze Runner by James Dashner, read by Jane, on 02/20/2014

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade-a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up-the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.

Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

26. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fiction, Jane, Teen Books

Prodigy by Marie Lu, read by Jane, on 02/13/2014

Injured and on the run, it has been seven days since June and Day barely escaped Los Angeles and the Republic with their lives. Day is believed dead having lost his own brother to an execution squad who thought they were assassinating him. June is now the Republic’s most wanted traitor. Desperate for help, they turn to the Patriots – a vigilante rebel group sworn to bring down the Republic. But can they trust them or have they unwittingly become pawns in the most terrifying of political games?

26. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fiction, Jane, Teen Books

Legend by Marie Lu, read by Jane, on 02/06/2014

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

23. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Teen Books

All the Truth That's in Me by Julie Berry, read by Angie, on 02/21/2014

Judith and her best friend Lottie disappeared. Lottie’s body was found and Judith came back with her tongue cut out two years later. Judith has to deal with her mother and brother’s contempt and the contempt of the people in her village. She keeps her silence and hasn’t told anyone what happened to her. Then her village is attacked and the one person who can help them is the man who kept her prisoner. Judith pours out her heart to Lucas, her childhood love, but only in her head. It is only after she makes a friend and decides to learn to speak again that Judith comes out of her shell.

This was a book I didn’t want to put down. Judith’s story is given out in little bits throughout the book and you are never really sure what happened to her. She is treated like a pariah in her village because she doesn’t speak, but once she finds her courage and her voice things are different. My only beef with this book was the fact that the time and place was so vague. It seemed to be Puritan New England, but that is never specified. However, I really enjoyed Judith and Lucas’s story and how their relationship grew throughout the book.

18. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Teen Books

Reality Boy by A.S. King, read by Angie, on 02/17/2014

Gerald Faust is The Crapper and has been since he was five and on reality tv show Network Nanny. Gerald’s family was dysfunctional and Gerald had anger issues. Issues that made him poop when he got mad; so he pooped on the dining room table, in his mom’s shoes and in a dressing room at Sears. But the show didn’t show all the family issues like his older sister Tasha who tried to kill him and his other sister numerous times, or how his mom always sided with psychopath Tasha and never believed Gerald or Lisi. The Crapper has followed Gerald throughout his life creating more anger issues and causing him to be put in special ed even though he doesn’t belong there. Gerald has no friends and no future until he finally gets the courage to talk to his crush register number 1 girl (Hannah) at work. Gerald starts opening up to Hannah and discovers he isn’t the only one with a messed up life.

I loved this book. It was raw and real and kind of made me uncomfortable at times. Gerald had a horrible, hidden life that is revealed during flashbacks to the show. Gerald’s story really makes you wonder about everyone who has ever been on a reality show and how messed up their life is because of the notoriety they received. Having your secrets and problems revealed on national television can not be good for you. Gerald and Hannah are equally messed up and you will applaud them when they finally take a stand and demand a better life. This book was fresh and creative and unique and a truly enjoyable read.

16. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Teen Books

Into the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst, read by Angie, on 02/16/2014

The Wild is real and it is hiding under Julie’s bed. It likes to steal her shoes, but other than that it is manageable. Julie lives with her mom Rapunzel and her brother Puss in Boots. Her grandma Goethel owns the Wishing Well Hotel. All the characters are happy to have escaped into the real world, but then someone sets the Wild free and suddenly everyone is trapped in the stories again. It is up to Julie to figure out how to set them free again. She has to work around the stories and try to not get caught in one. An ending will mean the end of Julie and her life.

I really enjoy reading fractured fairy tales and this one didn’t disappoint. It was fun and entertaining. I loved how Durst wove all the fairy tale stories together and made them real. Julie is the perfect hero for our story; she is spunky and smart and determined. I really enjoyed trying to identify the stories as she came upon them in the Wild.

15. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

Ōoku: The Inner Chambers, Volume 1 by Fumi Yoshinaga, Akemi Wegmüller (Translator), read by Courtney, on 06/02/2013

In Edo period Japan, a strange new disease called the Red Pox has begun to prey on the country’s men. Within eighty years of the first outbreak, the male population has fallen by seventy-five percent. Women have taken on all the roles traditionally granted to men, even that of the Shogun. The men, precious providers of life, are carefully protected. And the most beautiful of the men are sent to serve in the Shogun’s Inner Chamber…2/7

15. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

Ōoku: The Inner Chambers, Volume 2 by Fumi Yoshinaga, Akemi Wegmüller (Translator), read by Courtney, on 06/05/2013

In this 17th Century Japan the Shogun is a woman…and the harem is full of men. R to L (Japanese Style). Curious about why female lords must take on male names, the Shogun Yoshimune seeks out the ancient scribe Murase and his archives of the last eighty years of the Inner Chambers–called the Chronicle of the Dying Day. In it’s pages Yoshimune discovers the coming of the Redface Pox, the death of the last male Shogun, and the birth of the new Japan; In Edo period Japan, a strange new disease called the Red Pox has begun to prey on the country’s men. Within eighty years of the first outbreak, the male population has fallen to a quarter of the total female population. Women have taken on all the roles traditionally granted to men, even that of the Shogun. The men, precious providers of life, are carefully protected. And the most beautiful of the men are sent to serve in the Shogun’s Inner Chamber.

15. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

Who Is AC? by Hope Larson, Tintin Pantoja (Illustrator), read by Courtney, on 07/27/2013

In this breakthrough graphic novel from the award-winning author of Mercury, there’s a new superhero in town—and she’s got kick-butt cyberpowers.

Meet Lin, a formerly average teenage girl whose cell phone zaps her with magical powers. But just as superpowers can travel through the ether, so can evil. As Lin starts to get a handle on her new abilities (while still observing her curfew!), she realizes she has to go head-to-head with a nefarious villain who spreads his influence through binary code. And as if that weren’t enough, a teen blogger has dubbed her an “anonymous coward!” Can Lin detect the cyber-criminal’s vulnerability, save the day, and restore her reputation?

With ingenious scripting from graphic novel phenom Hope Larson and striking art from manga illustrator Tintin Pantoja, this action-packed story brims with magical realism and girl-power goodness.

15. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Teen Books

Golden Girl by Sarah Zettel, read by Courtney, on 07/27/2013

In volume two of the American Fairy series, we catch up to Callie LaRoux in Hollywood, the seat of power for the Unseelie Court. Callie and Jack obtain jobs with MGM studios, which seems to be the best way of going about finding Callie’s parents and settling this whole prophecy business. Things start to go awry when Jack and Callie witness a young starlet, Ivy Bright (think Shirley Temple), about to be kidnapped by fairies. They rescue her with the aid of a well-known singer, Paul Robeson, who, in spite of being human, seems to know an awful lot about fairies. In the meantime, Shake is back, but not nearly as powerful as he was. Callie and Jack know they must be getting close to Callie’s parents, but there’s so much going on with Callie’s arrival in Unseelie territory that they get stalled just trying to keep themselves alive.
I was really excited about this sequel since I loved the first book in the series. This one just fell kind of flat for me. The plot has a lot of action, which will surely keep many fans entertained, but it seemed to lose some of the historical detail in exchange for action sequences. I’m still more than a little confused by the Paul Robeson and his role in the whole thing. He appears near the beginning of the book and then disappears from the plot for nearly half of the book. The Ivy Bright storyline is predictable at best, annoying at worst. Overall, the heavy reliance on action makes the book feel convoluted and considerably less magical than its predecessor. Here’s hoping the third book can manage to pull everything back together; I would really like to see the series redeem itself, especially since the concept is so good.

15. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Fiction, Poetry, Teen Books

Smoke by Ellen Hopkins, read by Courtney, on 07/24/2013

In spite of the fact that “Burned” was not my favorite of Hopkins’ books (a statement which will likely get me in trouble with many of my teens, for whom this is a much-beloved favorite), I was still anxious to read “Smoke”, its sequel. It had never occurred to me that there might even be a sequel to “Burned”, which so clearly stood on its own, but then, well, Ellen went and wrote a sequel.
This picks up more or less where “Burned” left off. Pattyn Von Stratten is now on the run after the death of her father. She has nowhere to go and no one left to turn to. She meets a girl her age who agrees to put her up for the night. There, Pattyn meets the rest of the girl’s family- all immigrants. In spite of the cultural differences, Pattyn begins to feel more at home with this new family than her real one.
In the meantime, Pattyn’s sister, Jackie, is still at home with the rest of the family and dealing with the aftermath of what happened in the family garage that fateful night. With Pattyn gone, Jackie has no one left to turn to. She’s not even remotely upset about what happened to her father, but she cannot accept her mother’s failure to acknowledge the trauma that Jackie has endured. The family’s continued adherence to the LDS church means that the family secrets are not to be discussed. Gradually, Jackie’s pain turns to anger as she begins to heal with the help of a new boyfriend.
This is a relatively tame book for those who are familiar with Hopkins’ oeuvre. The main themes center around the aftermath of abuse. This is, ultimately, a survivor’s tale. Pattyn and Jackie each have very different approaches to healing their psychological wounds, but each does so in a way that feels true to their character. There are times when the narrative drags, but readers who loved Burned will undoubtedly love meeting back up with the Von Stratten sisters and will rejoice in their triumphs over their troubling family situation.

I received this ARC from the publisher at the ALA Annual Conference. Smoke officially publishes in September 2013.

15. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fantasy, Fiction, Teen Books

Crap Kingdom by D.C. Pierson, read by Courtney, on 07/19/2013

Tom Parking is an average guy who’s always dreamed of being the next Harry Potter or Percy Jackson. His life is pretty mundane until he is approached by a curious looking fellow named Gark who tells Tom that he is the Chosen One. Against his better judgement, Tom follows Gark into a dumpster which actually does turn out to be a portal to another kingdom. Believing his wildest dreams have come true, Tom gets pretty excited at the prospect of saving a kingdom. Until he actually gets a good luck at it. The whole civilization is more or less constructed out of trash. The denizens all don mismatched thrift-store clothes and the drink of choice tends to occasionally set its consumers on fire. Tom quickly discovers that this kingdom is kind of, well, crappy. The King is exceedingly cynical, to say the least. He also hates Tom. As it turns out, Gark, though tasked with tracking down the chosen one, is also about the least popular citizen of the kingdom, mainly because he has hope for the future. The rest could care less and have no inclination to change. In fact, the kingdom doesn’t even bear a name; when circumstances require, one can simply “mumble unintelligibly for the length of the average kingdom name”. Tom is less than impressed. In fact, he turns them down as his life proves easier without the nameless kingdom in his life (he was told he could be in charge of the Rat-Snottery, but it wasn’t enough to clinch the deal). So they find someone else: Kyle, Tom’s best friend. Kyle is everything Tom isn’t; athletic, focused, good with girls, etc. Kyle excels where Tom failed to impress and Tom finds himself actually starting to regret his initial choice to turn his back on the crappy kingdom.
While the setup is definitely amusing and unexpected, the rest of the book isn’t as funny as I had hoped. The moral of the story becomes a bit heavy-handed and the pace lags substantially in the middle of the book. Tom can be an irritating character at times, while Kyle is kind of bland. Nevertheless, readers will still be able to relate to Tom’s sense of opportunity lost. After all, haven’t we all regretted turning down an opportunity at some point in our lives? Overall, however, an entertaining read for teens, particularly any teen who has ever dreamed of becoming a “chosen one”.

15. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Fiction, Poetry, Teen Books

To Be Perfectly Honest: A Novel Based on an Untrue Story by Sonya Sones, read by Courtney, on 07/15/2013

Colette is the daughter of a major Hollywood actress and has developed a knack for lying to escape from her mother’s shadow. She’s known for lying about anything and everything. Colette and her little brother even make a game of pretending its their birthday at restaurants to score free desert. When Colette’s summer plans are abruptly cancelled due to her mother’s filming schedule, Colette is convinced it’s going to be the worst summer ever. On the way to the middle-of-nowhere town that the filming is taking place in, Colette spots a gorgeous guy on a motorcycle and decides that maybe summer won’t be so terrible after all. She is even more pleased when biker-guy begins to pay attention to her. Colette worries, however, that her mother’s fame will ruin this relationship just as it has so many others, so she lies about her age and background. What Colette doesn’t count on is that her new boyfriend may be hiding a few secrets of his own.
This is the quintessential fun summer read. Since it’s written in verse, the story moves extremely quickly. Colette is fun and sarcastic, if a bit naive. Her little brother is charming, though his lisping quickly starts to feel like a cutesy convention. Readers may see the twist coming, but will likely be entertained enough by the humor and pacing to forgive the somewhat cliched ending.

This novel comes out in late August. I received this ARC from the publisher at the ALA Annual Conference.

14. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Teen Books

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George, read by Angie, on 02/12/2014

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow is the retelling of the fairy tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon. George does a fantastic job with this reimagining. I am not really familiar with the original tale, but I loved it! This is the story of Pikka, the ninth child of a poor woodcutter family. Her mother was so disgusted at having another worthless daughter that she didn’t give her a name. The girl’s life changes when she catches a white reindeer and it gives her a name and the ability to speak to animals. It changes further when the isbjorn (the white bear) asks her to come live in his palace for a year. The palace is made of ice and filled with strange creatures and markings. The girl finds herself drawn into the isbjorn’s world and wants to find out more about his curse. When he is taken away to marry the troll princess she must find the palace east of the sun and west of the moon to save her true love.

I loved this story. I loved the fact that it was filled with Norse mythology and Norse words. I am fascinated by this culture even though I know little about it. Pikka is a strong girl despite the treatment she receives from her mother. She is brave and is filled with drive and spirit; just the kind of heroine I like in my books.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

PLUTO: Urasawa x Tezuka, Volume 006 by Naoki Urasawa, read by Courtney, on 01/31/2012

A new vision based on Astro Boy – “The Greatest Robot On Earth” R to L (Japanese Style). Pluto… Sahad… Goji… Abullah… Mysterious figures somehow involved with the serial murders of the great robots of the world. Europol’s top robot detective Gesicht has been put on the case, and he’s mere steps away from discovering the horrifying truth behind the killer and his motives… Little does he realize that he’s also steps away from discovering a horrifying truth of his own… Masterfully crafted science fiction and suspense at its best! In an ideal world where man and robots coexist, someone or something has destroyed the powerful Swiss robot Mont Blanc. Elsewhere a key figure in a robot rights group is murdered. The two incidents appear to be unrelated…except for one very conspicuous clue – the bodies of both victims have been fashioned into some sort of bizarre collage complete with makeshift horns placed by the victims’ heads. Interpol assigns robot detective Gesicht to this most strange and complex case – and he eventually discovers that he too, as one of the seven great robots of the world, is one of the targets.

So, I know there are more volumes to go, but seriously, there aren’t many characters left! I’m still fascinated by this series, probably because I’m not sure where it’s headed.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

PLUTO: Urasawa x Tezuka, Volume 005 by Naoki Urasawa, read by Courtney, on 01/27/2012

A robot may not harm or kill a human being. Article 13 of the Robot LawsAdolph, a member of a robot hate group, is being used as a pawn and hunted down by the members of his own brotherhood. He must now turn to his worst enemy for protection–Gesicht, the robot who he believes killed his own brother.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

PLUTO: Urasawa x Tezuka, Volume 004 by Naoki Urasawa, read by Courtney, on 01/27/2012

A powerful, destructive force in the form of a tornado is killing the great robots of the world one by one. Who or what could be behind this whirlwind? Be it man or robot, it now has its sights set on Atom, the most advanced robot ever created–and Atom is ready to dive right into the eye of the storm.