05. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Leslie

Chasing the Milky Way by Erin E. Moulton, 283 pages, read by Leslie, on 02/24/2015

 Lucy Peevy has a dream–to get out of the trailer park she lives in and become a famous scientist. And she’s already figured out how to do that: Build a robot that will win a cash prize at the BotBlock competition and save it for college. But when you’ve got a mama who doesn’t always take her meds, it’s not easy to achieve those goals. Especially when Lucy’s mama takes her, her baby sister Izzy, and their neighbor Cam away in her convertible, bound for parts unknown. But Lucy, Izzy and Cam are good at sticking together, and even better at solving problems. But not all problems have the best solutions, and Lucy and Izzy must face the one thing they’re scared of even more than Mama’s moods: living without her at all.

Lucy is a very strong female character and this is a great read for girls especially.  Lucy and her neighbor Cam try to overlook that fact that Lucy’s mom is on the brink of a breakdown and are determined to try and fulfill their dreams of college by winning a robot competition.  Lots of action for boys here, too, as Lucy, Cam, her sister and mother take off on a road trip that they will never forget.  This book reminds us that everyone has a journey and not all of them run smoothly or as we hope they will.  Perseverance and love are the main messages that everyone will take away from this read.  Highly recommended.

05. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Leslie

The Eighth Day by Dianne K. Salerni, 309 pages, read by Leslie, on 02/23/2015

 In this riveting fantasy adventure, thirteen-year-old Jax Aubrey discovers a secret eighth day with roots tracing back to Arthurian legend. Fans of Percy Jackson will devour this first book in a new series that combines exciting magic and pulse-pounding suspense.

With lots of books with ties to the King Arthur legend, this one is refreshing in its portrayal.  Jax is orphaned and living with a guardian he does not like, who is barely older than he is, and he doesn’t understand why he can’t live with his relatives.  He doesn’t like where he lives, his guardian’s friends and he is determined to figure out how to get out of the situation.  Unfortunately, he has inherited his father’s power of persuasion and his guardian, trying to protect him from his destiny as much as possible, does Jax a disservice by keeping him in the dark.  And by doing so, Riley Pendare almost destroys that which he is charged with protecting.

A great book for reluctant readers of the male persuasion, this has just about everything they could like in a book.  It has magic, King Arthur, good guys, bad guys trying to overthrow the world as we know it, a girl to protect, and a teenage boy who keeps trying to figure it all out.  Highly recommended for all.

05. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Leslie

Sojourn by R.A. Salvatore, 309 pages, read by Leslie, on 02/16/2015

Far above the merciless Underdark, Drizzt Do’Urden fights to survive the elements of Toril’s harsh surface. The drow begins a sojourn through a world entirely unlike his own–even as he evades the dark elves of his past.

In this 3rd and final book of the trilogy, Drizzt leaves the Underdark for a life on the surface, or so he hopes.  At first, he again lives the life of a hermit and although the sun makes it difficult for him, he is determined to find his place in this world.  He eventually meets a blind Ranger, who befriends and teaches him what he needs to know about his new world.  Drizzt comes to the conclusion, with some help, that not all deities are bad, and that living the life of a Ranger is what he is meant to do.  Although tragedy dogs him through the first part of the book, he learns his way and finds the place he is meant to be.

A very good conclusion to the trilogy, in my opinion.  While it does leave open the chance for his character to appear in other Forgotten Realm books, it was finished in a satisfactory manner.  I thoroughly enjoyed the whole series and recommend it to anyone.

05. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Leslie

Exile by R.A. Salvatore, 343 pages, read by Leslie, on 02/11/2015

 “As I became a creature of the empty tunnels, survival became easier and more difficult all at once. I gained in the physical skills and experience necessary to live on. I could defeat almost anything that wandered into my chosen domain. It did not take me long, however, to discover one nemesis that I could neither defeat nor flee. It followed me wherever I went-indeed, the farther I ran, the more it closed in around me. My enemy was solitude, the interminable, incessant silence of hushed corridors.”

In this second book of the trilogy, Drizzt decides that his only way to escape his family and the dark elves way of life, is to live by himself in the depths of his underworld.  He is afraid to interact with any others he meets, until he comes to the realization that he is slowly becoming that which he hoped to avoid.  He decides that he needs to reverse this by hoping that if he goes to the dwarven city and living with whatever fate they decide for him.  He had saved the life of one of them and wants desparately to find out if he is the good person he wants to be.  After living with them for a time, he and his companions learn that his mother has sent someone after him, to try and appease their goddess. Drizzt then decides that he needs to set out again, hoping to outrun his heritage and his mother’s determination.

I enjoyed this book, as much as the first, and it was much faster to read, maybe because the tempo of the book was not as much set up and explanation as it was actual action.  You get to really feel for Drizzt and the fate of his life.  It’s easy to see parallels in real life, to compare what people you know have overcome to be the people they want.  A very good read if you enjoy fantasy settings.

 

04. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Leslie

Homeland by R.A. Salvatore, 343 pages, read by Leslie, on 01/25/2015

In exotic Menzoberranzan, the vast city of the drow is home to Icewind Dale prince Drizzt Do’Urden, who grows to maturity in the vile world of his dark elf kin. Possessing honor beyond the scope of his unprincipled society, can he live in world that rejects integrity?

As the first in a trilogy, the book was a very long read, but the story didn’t really drag on and on.  Drizzt is born into a matriarchal society where the women worship Lolth, the Spider Queen.  To get ahead in society, houses plot against each other, the women become priestesses to Lolth and the men are considered drow and unimportant.  Drizzt is born to be sacrificed to Lolth to gain favor for their house and is saved only because the second son murders the first son just as he is born.  He is raised and trained to become a weapons master and becomes one of the best in Menzoberranzan.  Although he doesn’t become aware of it until he is grown, his father is the current weapons master and trains him to be better than he is.  His father also imparts to him a sense of right and wrong, something that doesn’t happen in their world.  When his father sacrifices himself to Lolth to save Drizzt, Drizzt sets off to live alone in the Underworld in order to escape living in a society he hates.

I really did enjoy reading this book, but unless you are a fan of fantasy and the Forgotten Realms books, it may not be for you.

02. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza, 470 pages, read by Leslie, on 12/30/2014

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Mila was never meant to learn the truth about her identity. She was a girl living with her mother in a small Minnesota town. She was supposed to forget her past—that she was built in a secret computer science lab and programmed to do things real people would never do.

Now she has no choice but to run—from the dangerous operatives who want her terminated because she knows too much and from a mysterious group that wants to capture her alive and unlock her advanced technology. However, what Mila’s becoming is beyond anyone’s imagination, including her own, and it just might save her life.

This is a series that I will probably read all the books as they are published.  I really liked this book, an android who has no idea she is an android, is becoming more and more human.  Mila struggles with what she believes are memories of a father who never really existed, finding out she is not who she thought she is, coming to terms with the fact that she really loved the woman she had thought of as her mom, and then determined to become who she wants to be and not a military machine.  I’ll have to wait until the other books come out to find out if she accomplishes the last one.  Highly recommended, even to boys!

02. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery

Scarpetta by Patricia Cornwell, 500 pages, read by Leslie, on 12/23/2014

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Leaving behind her private forensic pathology practice in Charleston, South Carolina, Kay Scarpetta accepts an assignment in New York City, where the NYPD has asked her to examine an injured man on Bellevue Hospital’s psychiatric prison ward. In the days that follow, Scarpetta; her forensic psychologist husband, Benton Wesley; and her niece, Lucy, who has recently formed her own forensic computer investigation firm in New York, will undertake a harrowing chase through cyberspace and the all-too-real streets of the city; an odyssey that will take them at once to places they never knew, and much, much too close to home.

I really enjoyed this Scarpetta book more than the last one I read.  This one had more twists and turns than I remember seeing in awhile.  Some of her books had gotten a bit predictable, almost bordering on typical and boring to me, but this one kept me on edge.  I recommend it to those who enjoy her books and those like it.

04. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

Marie Antoinette Serial Killer by Katie Alender, 296 pages, read by Leslie, on 11/30/2014

16139598 Colette Iselin is excited to go to Paris on a class trip. She’ll get to soak up the beauty and culture, and maybe even learn something about her family’s French roots.

But a series of gruesome murders are taking place across the city, putting everyone on edge. And as she tours museums and palaces, Colette keeps seeing a strange vision: a pale woman in a ball gown and powdered wig, who looks suspiciously like Marie Antoinette.

Colette knows her popular, status-obsessed friends won’t believe her, so she seeks out the help of a charming French boy. Together, they uncover a shocking secret involving a dark, hidden history. When Colette realizes she herself may hold the key to the mystery, her own life is suddenly in danger . . .

I enjoyed this story more than I thought I might.  A definite first for me, bringing back the ghost of a queen to take revenge on the descendants of those she thought of as friends.  While they did not exist in her real life, it makes for a great storyline.  Definitely will appeal to girls more than it will to boys, not enough blood and gore to make up for the definite female storyline!

04. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Leslie

Sidekicked by John David Anderson, 384 pages, read by Leslie, on 11/24/2014

16248141 Andrew Bean might be a part of H.E.R.O., a secret organization for the training of superhero sidekicks, but that doesn’t mean that life is all leaping tall buildings in single bounds. First, there’s Drew’s power: Possessed of super senses – his hearing, sight, taste, touch, and smell are the most powerful on the planet – he’s literally the most sensitive kid in school. There’s his superhero mentor, a former legend who now spends more time straddling barstools than he does fighting crime. And then there’s his best friend, Jenna – their friendship would be complicated enough if she weren’t able to throw a Volkswagen the length of a city block. Add in trying to keep his sidekick life a secret from everyone, including his parents, and the truth is clear: Middle school is a drag even with superpowers.

Of all the superpowers you could ask for, enhanced senses would not be among them.  Drew not only has, in his opinion, the worst superpower you could ask for, but he finds himself assigned to be the sidekick of a super hero who no longer wants to be a super hero.  He and his friends are all sidekicks for super heroes, and they train at school in a secret basement during lunch periods.  Their city seems to be a magnet for evil super powers and it’s up to him and his friends to try and figure out what is going on.  However, there is a traitor in their midst and none of them are safe.  I can see that boys might find this appealing more than girls, but there is plenty of attraction for the girls to pick this up and read it.

03. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

Inhuman by Kat Falls, 375 pages, read by Leslie, on 11/16/2014

13517617 America has been ravaged by a war that has left the eastern half of the country riddled with mutation. Many of the people there exhibit varying degrees of animal traits. Even the plantlife has gone feral.

Crossing from west to east is supposed to be forbidden, but sometimes it’s necessary. Some enter the Savage Zone to provide humanitarian relief. Sixteen-year-old Lane’s father goes there to retrieve lost artifacts—he is a Fetch. It’s a dangerous life, but rewarding—until he’s caught.

Desperate to save her father, Lane agrees to complete his latest job. That means leaving behind her life of comfort and risking life and limb—and her very DNA—in the Savage Zone. But she’s not alone. In order to complete her objective, Lane strikes a deal with handsome, roguish Rafe. In exchange for his help as a guide, Lane is supposed to sneak him back west. But though Rafe doesn’t exhibit any signs of “manimal” mutation, he’s hardly civilized . . . and he may not be trustworthy.

Lane is a typical teenage girl, lots of friends, worried about school and peer pressure.  She and her friends don’t think too much about what’s on the other side of the wall that surrounds their half of the country, but when she is arrested after helping her friends send a drone camera over the wall, she thinks, she learns more about the other side than she ever thought she would.  All her life, her father has trained her how to survive, without explaining why.  After being told that he has been arrested for going through the wall and given the option to go on a mission to save him, she knows why she was trained.  Things are not as she imagined on the other side of the country and she finds herself torn between two boys, one with connections and one with street smarts.  A good start to a series, both boys and girls will find themselves enjoying this story.

03. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

Rapunzel Untangled by Cindy C. Bennett, 294 pages, read by Leslie, on 11/06/2014

16225157 For one thing, she has a serious illness that keeps her inside the mysterious Gothel Mansion. And for another, her hair is 15 feet long. Not to mention that she’s also the key to ultimately saving the world from certain destruction. But then she meets a boy named Fane, who changes all she has ever known, and she decides to risk everything familiar to find out who she really is.

In this Rapunzel story, the author approaches it as if there was never a fairy tale, at least from the characters’ view.  Rapunzel has the long hair, she is kept isolated from the world, and she is, unknown to her, a kidnap victim.  Rapunzel is home schooled because of a supposed illness, but she has the Internet to connect herself to the outside world.  She finds herself investigating FaceBook and ends up friending Fane, a boy her own age.  Without any friends, this proves too tempting to her to resist.  As Rapunzel begins to question her loneliness and her life up to this point, she learns more about her mother than she could have ever imagined.  After a while, her luck in keeping her mother in the dark, runs out.

A definite winner for girls to read, it is different enough to keep the reader engrossed.  A good read to recommend.

03. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Tandem by Anna Jarzab, 431 pages, read by Leslie, on 11/01/2014

15829686  Sixteen-year-old Sasha Lawson has only ever known one small, ordinary life. When she was young, she loved her grandfather’s stories of parallel worlds inhabited by girls who looked like her but led totally different lives. Sasha never believed such worlds were real–until now, when she finds herself thrust into one against her will.

If you’ve ever spent time wondering if there was a parallel universe and you might have a better life, this might be the book for you.  Sasha is taken to a universe that isn’t quite the same as the one she lives in.  She is a match in looks to a princess in this other world, but it’s nothing like she could have imagined.  Sasha spends a lot of time trying to figure out how to get home again but finds herself caring for some of the people she meets, including the boy who kidnapped her.  A thoroughly enjoyable story, very imaginative and appealing.

04. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Science Fiction, Teen Books

The Neptune Project by Polly Holyoke, 341 pages, read by Leslie, on 10/26/2014

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With her weak eyes and useless lungs that often leave her gasping for air, Nere feels more at home swimming with the dolphins her mother studies than she does hanging out with her classmates. Nere has never understood why she is so much more comfortable and confident in the water than on land until the day she learns the shocking truth—she is one of a group of kids who have been genetically altered to survive in the ocean. These products of the “Neptune Project” are supposed to build a better future under the waves, safe from the terrible famines and wars and that rock the surface world. Fierce battle and daring escapes abound as Nere and her friend race to safety in this action-packed marine adventure.

I enjoyed this book very much, probably because of the solution the characters have to global warming, which I have not seen explored before like this.  I feel for Nere and her friends as they try to make sense of what they have become and how they try to cope with their new world.  Very enjoyable and I think that both boys and girls will enjoy this novel.

04. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery

The Haunting of Gabriel Ashe by Dan Poblocki, 288 pages, read by Leslie, on 10/22/2014

The Haunting of Gabriel AsheGabe and Seth used to play make-believe games in the woods behind Seth’s family farm. It was the perfect creepy landscape for imagining they were up against beasts and monsters and villains.

Just as Gabe’s decided he’s outgrown their childish games, though, it appears that their most monstrous creation could be real.

Gabe and his family move in with his grandmother after their house burns in a fire.  Eager to escape the labels he endured at his old school, Gabe makes friends over the summer with Seth, who lives nearby.  After school begins, Gabe is accepted into the somewhat popular crowd but learns that his friendship with Seth may cause those labels to begin again.  Gabe and Seth had spent the summer playing a game in the woods, that Seth used to play with his brother, until he disappeared.  Gabe and Seth find themselves caught up in something that pulls Seth’s new friends into it’s evil.  Can the boys figure out the mystery and bring it to an end?  This is going to be very popular with both boys and girls, despite the main characters being boys.  Very suspenseful and it keeps you on the edge of your seat.

03. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

A Matter of Days by Amber Kizer, 276 pages, read by Leslie, on 10/15/2014

15927598On Day 56 of the pandemic called BluStar, sixteen-year-old Nadia’s mother dies, leaving her responsible for her younger brother Rabbit. They secretly received antivirus vaccines from their uncle, but most people weren’t as lucky. Their deceased father taught them to adapt and survive whatever comes their way. That’s their plan as they trek from Seattle to their grandfather’s survivalist compound in West Virginia.

Highly recommendable book for both boys and girls.  Along the way to find their uncle and grandfather, Nadia and Rabbit show a knack for avoiding trouble, for the most part.  However, after they begin traveling with Zack, you just want to yell into the book that they need to hide their vehicle better, when they leave it to explore a nearby mall.  Along the way, they rescue a dog, a bird and a little girl.  It’s a feel good story, even when you aren’t sure that their uncle and grandfather are going to be at the final destination.

03. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Leslie

Rogue by Lyn Miller-Lachmann, 230 pages, read by Leslie, on 10/10/2014

16101109Kiara has Asperger’s syndrome, and it’s hard for her to make friends. So whenever her world doesn’t make sense—which is often—she relies on Mr. Internet for answers. But there are some questions he can’t answer, like why she always gets into trouble, and how do kids with Asperger’s syndrome make friends? In Rogue, author Lyn Miller-Lachmann celebrates everyone’s ability to discover and use whatever it is that makes them different.

Kiara is home-schooled after hitting another student with a lunch tray.  When Chad and his family move in across the street, she sees another chance to finally make a friend.  When things go from bad to worse, Kiara proves herself to be the kind of friend that everyone should have.  I think this is a book that all kids in school should read.  It tells the story from the viewpoint of the character with Aspberger’s and it may make some students understand the workings of the disorder a little better.  A good recommend book.

03. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Leslie

Fallout by Todd Strasser, 258 pages, read by Leslie, on 10/06/2014

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When an unthinkable nuclear attack occurs in an alternate-reality 1962, Scott is forced into his father’s bomb shelter with his family and neighbors, where they rapidly consume limited supplies and fear the worst about the fate of the world outside.

I see the appeal this will hold for boys, not so much for girls, since the main characters are boys.  What would have happened if the Cuban Missile crisis had happened and not been averted?  In Fallout, Strasser takes this on and we get a glimpse of what it might be like to anyone stuck in a fallout shelter.  Nothing happens as planned by Scott’s father, he hasn’t thought about a lot of supplies they needed, didn’t think about what would happen when his neighbors, who don’t have a shelter, try to come in, and how to keep from going slightly crazy while they wait out the radiation levels.  If you are somewhat of a survivalist, or thinking about it, this book could give you some good ideas.

03. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Paranormal, Teen Books

Pivot Point by Kasie West, 343 pages, read by Leslie, on 10/03/2014

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“A girl with the power to search alternate futures lives out six weeks of two different lives in alternating chapters. Both futures hold the potential for love and loss, and ultimately she is forced to choose which fate she is willing to live through”

Addie lives in a community of people who have powers that most people don’t.  They keep their community a secret from the world, whether to better retain their powers or eventually hold sway over normal humans, it isn’t really clear.  After her parents divorce, she goes to spend some time with her father, but before going, she uses her power to see which of two futures would she rather live with.  While it might seem nice to have some kind of ‘super’ power that others don’t, this book points out that it might not always be a good thing.

06. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Science Fiction, Teen Books

SYLO by D.J. MacHale, 407 pages, read by Leslie, on 09/29/2014

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Does Tucker Pierce have what it takes to be a hero when the U.S. military quarantines his island?

Fourteen-year-old Tucker Pierce prefers to fly under the radar. He’s used to navigating around summer tourists in his hometown on idyllic Pemberwick Island, Maine. He’s content to sit on the sidelines as a backup player on the high school football team. And though his best friend Quinn tells him to “go for it,” he’s too chicken to ask Tori Sleeper on a date. There’s always tomorrow, he figures. Then Pemberwick Island is invaded by a mysterious branch of the U.S. military called SYLO. And sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option for Tucker, because tomorrow may never come.

The more I read this book, the more it pulled me in, cannot wait to read the sequel.  While it does have a girl as one of the main characters, the factors of football and military espionage and intrigue will probably draw the boys to read it before the girls.  I loved the twist, that the characters kept expecting the military presence to be the bad guys, but then they can’t figure out if they are or not.  Very riveting read, I would recommend to any reader.

06. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

Icons by Margaret Stohl, 428 pages, read by Leslie, on 09/18/2014

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After an alien force known as the Icon colonizes Earth, decimating humanity, four surviving teenagers must piece together the mysteries of their pasts–in order to save the future.

While I’m sure that many readers of a younger age will enjoy this dytopic novel, I was not so enamored with it.  There was just enough suspense and action as to be interesting but I just did not care for the plot.  We never really find out anything about the aliens except for the fact that they invaded Earth and put icons in certain cities to control the humans that were left.  The teens, who figure out that they have abilities that may overcome the alien technology, never really seem to click together.  I would not recommend it to younger teens.