Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ah, the craziness of reading a million books for Garden State book award ballots has started....and this is my first selection, and honestly a pretty good way to start.  I had already read the previous title, Shakespeare Bats Cleanup.  Though I don't feel like you needed that extra insight to enjoy this title.  In this book, Kevin is dealing with his father dating (and he's not sure he's happy about it) and his confusion with girls (he is dating a pretty girl, but not sure he likes her much any longer.....and is really liking a girl who shares his love of poetry). This book in verse was fun and a quick read.

 Nickel is my new favorite leading man.  He is only 12, but much older in terms of experience, thus how he lives alone, and keeps himself both alive and prospering.  Nickel is essentially the person you call when you need something done, whether its general private investigation stuff (checking up on cheating spouses, etc) or slightly illegal.  He also helps young children free of charge, especially if it involves catching child predators (which is what he does when he's not on a paying gig).  In this adventure Nickel is asked to find a teen's younger sister who has disappeared, and in the course of the investigation he uncovers a child slavery ring.  This is definitely NOT a title for the very young, but is a fast paced and exciting adventure with real feeling characters and scenarios right out of Law & Order or another detective cop show.

Karma is a tale in poetry format of a girl who is going to India with her father in order to perform final burial rights for her mother.  Unfortunately for them, the timing of their trip coincides with the assassination of Indira Gandhi and they are caught up in the rioting in the city of Dehli.  This is a very fast read, but very affecting.  I also think, the characters feel current even though they are in fact from the mid-1980s.  I think teens with cultural ties to India will enjoy this tale, but also those unfamiliar with the culture will find it a fascinating look at a historical period that there isn't much written about.

Leverage is a touch read....not because it's bad, but because it's about the evil human beings sometimes do to each other.
   Lynn Visible looked like a terribly cutesy book......and while it is definitely a light read, it was fun.  Lynn is a fashionista in training, dreaming of the day she wins Project Runway.  Of course, in her small town, no one understands her style and she often faces stares, rudeness and outright nastiness regarding her "out there" looks.  Then, a true fashion icon finds one of her custom made shoes (Ok, so it flipped into her salad when Lynn fell).....and then suddenly Lynn is an IT know, the one EVERYONE wants to be like and be with.  How she handles her new fame is sweet and of course it has a happily ever after.  This was a fun fluffy read, not cutesy (as in I want to puke rainbows after reading) but definitely to be taken with a grain of salt.  That said, I think I know a few girls who would really enjoy this on a nice relaxing snow day home from school   =)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hautman writes this book in many voices, which I really enjoy (it's fun seeing things from various perspectives).  The gist of the story is that a young man walks into the police department confessing to a murder.  The book is told in flashbacks from varying points of view with occasional "current" looks at what's happening at the police department.  I flew through this book, soooo good, and also so intriguing as you see Shayne confessing to things as you see others discussing them and who they hold responsible.  A very interesting concept and a very very rapid fire story.

I do listen to what other people tell me about books, but usually only people I while I saw all the hype about this book, I didn't pick it up.  Then I got it assigned to me, so I reluctantly pulled it off the shelf....and WOW!  This is a quick read, multiple voices told confession style (I did this, so and so did that). Trash revolves around three kids who reside and work in a giant landfill.  They gather what they can to survive from the piles and piles of garbage.  Then one day they discover something that changes everything.......and at that point, these three brave boys are on the run from the law, while trying to solve a mystery the law doesn't want solved.  Such a great book.....such a terrible cover.....

Caitlyn has Asperger's Syndrome (a form of autism) and is doing just fine.  Then, her brother dies in a terrible way that leaves her family completely devastated, and she is trying to figure out how to fix things, and how to deal with emotions she never asked for (she tells the reader many times how bad she is at emotions).  This is a very powerful book and I fell in love with this! (though bring a tissue or two).

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I greatly enjoyed the first book Virals, and was excited to read the second.....and found to my delight that I was not disappointed.  In this volume the group of teens accidentally genetically altered by an experimental Parvo virus go on a treasure hunt....literally.  They are determined to discover Anne Bonney's long lost treasure in an effort to save the RITI institute.  If they can't do it, then the Institute will close and they will all be seperated forever.....which would be dangerous as their wolfish powers are still largely unknown to them and they are trying to keep them a secret in an effort to avoid being specimens themselves.   I enjoyed the ride from beginning to end on this one.....=)

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Nickel Plated is one of the most amazing books I've read this year.  It's a mystery, it's a's got real people and realistic situations.....and Nickel is a kid that I would love to take home and give a real home to (though he probably wouldn't accept).
Nickel is officially either a runaway (or maybe dead?) from the Foster care system.  We find horrible details dribbled out about Nickel's previous homes and also sneaky bits of his past that aren't so horrid.  The basic story is that Nickel is the guy you call when you need something done, whether that something is to see if your husband is cheating, find your missing child or break into your friend's house and get back incriminating pictures.  Nickel is hired to find Arrow's sister Shelby and this task (which he does pro bono as it involves exploited children) leads to a crazy ride to save Shelby and not end up dead himself.  Read this book if you enjoy edgy realness in your mysteries.

Will makes the mistake of mooning the all girl's school down the road and his punishment is to help out with the school musical (which is indeed a punishment for this boy who is desperate to keep his "coolness factor" at the all boys school he attends).  Through the course of his involvement, Will makes some friends, meets a girl and starts to come to terms with the loss of his father.  Though this book is set in Australia, little translation is needed (except for some sports terms, and I just kinda skipped right by them).......this was a really solid realistic fiction book.

Wisdom's Kiss is set many years after Princess Ben but in the same fact Princess Ben appears as Queen Mom Ben and the grandmother of the main character.  The entire story is told through notes and letters to and from major and minor characters, and has lots of humor, a bit of danger and a touch of romance.....all in all a fun story.  Knowledge of Princess Ben isn't really necessary, but does make it all more fun (though I must confess, I loved Princess Ben better than Wisdom's Kiss)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Scrawl was a book I fully expected to hate....after all a book about the hard life of a bully and a trouble maker?  Really?  So I admit I approached this book with a prejudice, and was promptly sucked in despite it........the main character "pops" is writing this journal as punishment for some vandalism.....and he alone is the one in a room with a guidance counselor writing his life and answering questions, the other boys are cleaning the yard and helping the custodian.  Pops hasn't had an easy life, but he's not excusing this, nor does he apologize.....he doesn't bully everyone, just thinks of it as the way things are.  This book is AMAZING!  And heartrending......and many many other adjectives and I shall make a better effort to not judge either characters nor books in the future......

This is a sweet, and young title that takes place in Italy just after WWII.  The main characters live in an orphanage hoping and praying for a family.  They are quite young, and it is a quick read from a point of view not often seen; discussing war orphans and abandonment from the child's viewpoint.

Dark Song is indeed a dark novel.  Giles looks at how easy it is to tap into the dark side of human nature given the right (or wrong) circumstances.  I don't want to say too much, as it'll give it away, but the essence is a family that is shattered by betrayal and economic upheaval. Watching how they each contribute to the shattering of their teen daughter, as well as how her attitudes, upbringing and personality traits fit the recipe for disaster is hard to watch, but easy to makes for a quick but tough read.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

This was such an intriguing book.  Donna is struggling through the death of her father and the ripple effect that death had on her family.  In the course of her struggles, she finds that she finds it soothing to help others with their grief and sorrow.  She is determined to enroll in school to be a mortician though her family seem to feel it's a terribly unhealthy and horrible decision.
Donna's story is so interesting to me.  I love that there aren't any books on this topic, and I really really love the way this story plays out.  This is a MUST read book for anyone who enjoys realistic fiction.

Riding Invisible is another example of a wonderful book with a terrible cover.  It looks like a western or a cowboy book (a huge NO TOUCH book in my library).  However I was assigned to read it and am so happy I did.  This is actually the story of Yancey and his family.  His brother suffers from a mental disorder that is tearing the family apart, and Yancey runs away as he doesn't feel safe in his home....and the last straw was when his brother threatens Yancey's horse.  The book is written as a journal, and has drawings in it as Yancey is an artist.  I really really enjoyed this title, Yancey is a sensitive boy dealing with a horrible situation in the best way he knows how. I also love that his savior is a work from Mexico who simply wants to do good things ....there are so few positive images of latinos out there......

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Since Flanagan officially ended the Ranger's Apprentice series, but felt there were outstanding questions left to answer, he compromised and put together this book....which is a collection of stories around various characters and situations that sort of put the finishing touches on the stories.  I loved the handling of this, and it definitely left me satisfied, all questions answered, things are over, time to move on (though I confess, I will mourn the series for awhile, it was amazing).  So, don't start with these tales, but if you've read the others, this will definitely help you to move on and feel like you don't have any unanswered story threads hanging over you.

I heard about this book, and thought "oh god ANOTHER zombie novel"....but I was wrong and they (yes, THAT they, the ones who know all) were right......this is a zombie novel, but done differently than any I've ever read.  In this novel, we are introduced for the first time, the concept of kindness and mercy.....of remembering that zombies used to be ACTUAL people....and the author explores the idea (very scarily and accurately) that once people become immune to hurting others (even if they are zombies) that it doesn't take long before they begin targeting others....after all, if you enjoy plucking wings off flies, or beating up animals, it's a small step to human abuse and imagine those sickos have access to actual human shaped creatures to play with.....and are REWARDED for said activities.....yeah, it's scary......and Maberry does an awesome job of making these points, while still telling an exciting, suspenseful and intriguing story.  I literally stayed up for hours to finish this book....and cannot wait to read the sequel.

I grabbed this book, probably on a recommendation and most likely because it won a Newberry......and I really enjoyed it.  I really didn't understand why it was classified as SF until I got further into the story, but having been a huge fan of Wrinkle in Time, I completely got all the references the author threw in.  I figured out some of the plot twists before the protagonist did, but I think that was the point.....and I think for anyone who wants a "soft" scifi novel (doesn't feel like scifi, though it technically is) When You Reach Me is the perfect hit........though I do wish it were in a more modern setting....I don't know why it's set in the late 70's......that was my only dislike, but not a big enough distraction to take away from my enjoyment of the novel.

I had been waiting for this novel to come out since the LAST one.....which is pretty much par for the course for me and many other Pierce fans.  Beka Cooper is one of my favorite characters, and I am guessing this is the last in this set for this character, though who knows.  Beka is on the run to find the royal heir who has been kidnapped and sold to slavers in a plot to take over the kingdom.......and because she is on the run, the novel goes at a breakneck pace from start to finish.  Pierce throws in plenty of twists and lots of well as a few moral anti-slavery messages......another AMAZING fantasy adventure from one of my favorite authors.....not to be missed!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The premise of this title is that it is the winning selection from a Freshmen English assignment.  It's a combination of text and drawings (ala Wimpy Kid) and it's really funny.  Larkin Pace just wants a good camcorder so he can become the director he dreams of being.  He goes through a variety of jobs and schemes to try and earn money, and has the usual family drama of being a 14 year old boy.  I really enjoyed this book and it was a very quick read.  If you liked Diary of a Wimpy Kid, try this one!

Midnight Palace is a creepy ghost of a tale set in 1930s Calcutta, India.  Two orphans are saved from a creepy character at the beginning of the novel and readers are left wondering what happened and why they are being hunted.  When the story picks up 16 years later (what is their predetermined age of majority) everything moves at the pace of a runaway railroad car.  I can't say too much or I'll give away the story twists, but there is a lot going on, with lots of suspense and ghostly activity.  This is a perfect title for middle schoolers looking for a creepy story to read on a dark and stormy night.

I heard all the press about this title, and was skeptical........but WOW!!!  The writer did an amazing job with this story.  There is irony, snarkiness, and just plain a talking dismembered was awesome, and am kinda hoping they turn this into a tv series....I would LOVE it much more than any vampire tale (of which there are a ton).  Story synopsis:  Sam is leading a pretty bland life, having dropped out of college to flip burgers until he figures out what he wants out of life.  Then he meets Douglas, who calls himself a Necromancer, and tells Sam he considers him a threat. Sam has one week to figure out how his small, sad life of being nobody has changed into an exciting, magical, dangerous life where he is a target....and how to fix it.....or things will get ugly.   Can't wait for the next one.....and yeah, there BETTER be a next one!   =)

Friday, October 07, 2011

Adios Nirvana was a very compelling read.  I thought sure it was all about the band (because of the guitar in the imagery).....but no (thank goodness, as I'm not a huge Nirvana fan).  It's about recovery and family and so much more.  Jonathan is mourning the death of his brother...his twin brother......and really isn't sure that he has much to live for.  Then he is assigned to write a biography of a local man who fought in WWII as a way to pass English (and really to not flunk his entire Junior year of high school).  He reluctantly agrees, and in discussing the events of David's life, Jonathan finds meaning in his.......This sounds like a shmaltzy book, but it is gritty and real and the character of Jonathan is whiny and annoying and feels like someone you know.  I couldn't put this down, see how you feel about it.

Sam is a skater (the board not the ice) and idolizes Tony Hawk.  He is also a product of a teen pregnancy, and is well aware of the consequences of not being careful when having sex.  He is therefore caught completely by surprise when he too becomes a teen father.  Sam's dilemma and his way of dealing with it are unique to him and are a realistic portrayal of all the drama a boy also goes through when he finds he's about to become a father.  The only problem I had with the book was the few instances of "time travel" when he skips ahead to see things that will happen......they are kind of jarring in a realistically set novel and the reader is left wondering, are they real or dream?  Why are they there?  I don't know, but I did enjoy meeting Sam.....perhaps you can read the book and tell me what you think?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

This was a wonderful but difficult read.  Chayil sets the scene with Gittel as an Orthodox Jew living in a sheltered environment.  When she sees her best friend's sexual abuse by her brother, she has no words to explain what happened.  Worse, her friend can't explain it either and all of her pleas for help go unanswered, so she kills age 9.   Gittel is wracked with guilt, especially as in the aftermath, everyone tries to pretend that her friend Devory was ill or insane or better yet, never one speaks of it and yet Gittel cannot forget.  In the afterword the author says that she based this fiction on her own experiences and those of friends all unspoken and invisible......this is a beautifully written, heartwrenching story.   

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Three Rivers Rising is a fictional look at the Jamestown Flood in the 1800s. Its in poetry form (which makes for a fun quick read) and alternates to several different characters viewpoints. The main story is a forbidden romance between Celestia (upper-class, wealthy) and Peter (working-class). They meet because Peter works at the summer hotel they are staying in. Their story is juxtaposed with several townspeople and their general lives. Then the flood comes and lives are changed forever. I really enjoyed the nod towards history but completely made up people, and now I want to read some history books and learn more. Check this out, especially if you have to read historical fiction, because as a poetry book, it goes fast!

This is another historical poetry style fiction novel, set in the 60's with a family that bears a striking resemblance to the Manson family. Ostow puts us in the head of one of the girls. She explains how she became part of the family, why she stays and most of all, why she participates in the evil things she is told to do. This is a frightening look into how and why a cult functions.

Shut Out has an intriguing premise. When the soccer and football teams don't get along, the girls decide they've had enough. Their cuddling, no sex, nothing until they declare a truce. Keplinger essentially has done a modern version of Aristophanes' play Lysistrata, and she even references it several times in the book. I'm not sure this is the strongest book I've ever read, but it was definitely fun....a literary equivalent of eating a bag of chips.....and I will definitely recommend this to fan's of Dessen and other romantic novels. (plus now I am very interested in reading Lysistrata, so hey, call it a gateway

I deeply adore James Howe's books The Misfits and Totally Joe. I understand James wanting to go back and flesh out Addie a bit more, but honestly, I wish he had gone and quickly gone over stuff we've already read and then go somewhere new. Instead we have Addie's story in poetry format going over events we've already seen. I suppose it's only because I adored the other books SO much that I am disappointed in this, because I didn't feel like there was anything new.....and I did like Addie, so it would have been nice to see or find new things or have new situations for them to address as characters. Nonetheless, I will always love James Howe and will never hesitate to recommend his books =)
Iron Queen is the 3rd book in Kagawa's Iron Fey series, and it's continuing as intensely as it began.  Meghan Chase has to challenge the imposter Iron King in order to save all of the Fey from the iron that is poisoning their realm.  What she wants to do is run away and live happily ever after with her Winter Prince, but when one is royalty, and especially a half breed with the mysterious power over iron, one seldom gets a happier ever after.  If you like tales with fairies and magic, you'll like this series.

Who knew a book about a boy playing bridge with his aged uncle would be so very fascinating?  Ok, so perhaps I skipped a lot of the technicalities....(Sachar nicely has a whale at the top of all the technical areas, so you can skip to the synopsis......and I did as I found myself completely lost with all the rules).  Sachar's tale is more about the human elements than the cards, which is why this is such a good tale, however the point is made that 50 years ago, Bridge was the game of choice, and it IS challenging and demanding......and sadly dying out.......makes me want to try and have a bridge league........if I could figure out the rules.........So, the story, Alton's uncle (his "favorite" according to his family due to his immense wealth) needs someone to help his play bridge because he's become blind.  Alton begins for the first time to see his great uncle as a person and not just a grumpy old man everyone kisses up to.  He also discovers some skeletons and scandals in his own families past........can he help his uncle win the Bridge National Tournament?

Blood Wounds is a multi-faceted tale.  On the surface it's the story of a girl who's father has gone on a killing spree, and now threatens her new step-family.  Under the surface is the story of a blended family, but one that isn't honest and is falling apart under the strain.  Under that is the story of Willa, struggling to keep herself together in a family where she feels small and unwanted.  All in all, this was a very well told tale that allows the reader to watch as layer after layer is peeled back until all that is left is the truth.......or at least each person's version of that truth.  A quick but deep read that would be best appreciated by those who don't mind a thoughtful read.

Tiger's Curse is a fairy tale style adventure where the handsome prince has been imprisoned in the form of a tiger, and a young girl many hundreds of years later, has been selected to break the curse.  I really enjoyed the adventure and am looking forward to reading the next volume, although sometimes the tortured romantic angle felt a bit off sometimes (at least to me).....perhaps it's my personal desire for a "happily ever after".......see what you think?  Lots of puzzles and adventures with a touch of romance make this a perfect hit for girls looking for light romantic reads.

Dark Eden is where seven students are sent when they cannot face their fears.  Their psychologist arranges for all of them to undergo a secret treatment that will once and for all cure their debilitating fears.  Will is determined to remain separated and not to give in....especially as he watches the cures and the mysterious ailments that follow them.  Can Will figure out what's going on before they catch him and force him to take the cure?  This was a great fast adventurous ride, though I'm not sure I'm quite satisfied with the it and tell me what you think

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Though sisters, Rosie and Skate couldn't be more different: Rosie seems weak and hopeful about her father coming back from jail, while Skate is bold and decisive and tries to cut off any ties with him. As the story unfolds, though, it becomes clear, through narration that alternates between the sisters, that Skate's togetherness is anything but strong and that Rosie is stronger than she appears. One thing that appalled me about this story was that the drunk father was anything but mean and violent. He was the opposite (which bothered me more). Also, I liked how the progress of the plot unraveled the true identities of the sisters. I recommend this to everyone because I find it kind of like a "coming of age" novel...

<3 ~Deblina Mukherjee~ <3

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My book review (from the Garden State Teen Book Awards Phamplet) for The Summer I Turned Pretty:
Every summer since before she was born, Belly's spent time at the beach with her family and her mom's best friend's family. This summer will be different, Belly can feel it. She's turning sixteen and she's determined to prove that she's not a kid anymore. But Belly's caught between the past and the present; clinging on and letting go; Jeremiah and Conrad. This summer is her turning point towards womanhood and she can just feel it. This is not a regular book full of fluff, but a spectacular read. Please read this book to find out how her summer turns out and how she will feel about it.

~Deblina Mukherjee~

My book review (from the Garden State Teen Book Awards Phamplet) for The Devils Paintbox:  
When orphans Aiden and Maddy Lynch first meet trailrider Jefferson J. Jackson in the spring of 1865, they’re struggling to survive on their family’s drought-ravaged Kansas farm. So when Jackson offers an escape they naturally take it. This book is about their journey to this place that is supposedly the end of all their troubles. The book's plot was not very interesting and was expected. The language in the first pages were atrocious, but overall, the book was OK and selective readers might like this book :)
~Deblina Mukherjee~

My book review (from the Garden State Teen Book Awards Phamplet) for Tofu Quilt
Yeung Ying leaves Hong Kong to spend the summer with her Uncle Five and his children in mainland China. When she recites classical Chinese poems for him, he rewards her with a special treat. The poems in this book reveal her struggles to be a writer in a sexist 1960's China... The thing is that I have read lots of books with this theme (except the settings have been different)... The book would have been more enjoyable if there was a twist or something unique about it :)
~Deblina Mukherjee~

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

I am Number Four I had high hopes for, the movie looked awesome (though I haven't seen it yet) and it has a great concept and a good cover.......sadly, no matter how much I wanted it to be amazing, it was only alright. I kept trying to make it amazing, kept talking to myself, "wasn't it cool when such and such happened?" but alas, my feeling upon ending the book was satisfaction as having finished, but that was all.  No need to rush out and find out more (even though it did have a bit of a cliffhanger ending) wish to ever revisit it.....just....ok, finished, one more there you have it.....

Glimmerglass on the other hand, blew my mind!  I love when authors include fairy as a bit of world that's always been this case it's Avalon... a sovereign nation near Europe with its own borders and everything.  The main character runs away to Avalon to meet her father in the hopes of having a normal life unlike the one she's been living with her alcoholic mother.  Unfortunately for her, she doesn't have the pre-requisite knowledge of how treacherous the Fae can be.......and off goes the story.......intrigue, double crosses, angst this book has it all.....oh and romance too....sweetly flavored for teens but fun for all.......definitely a thumbs up for this one!

Marbury Lens is an odd but interesting little story.  The lens in the title refer to the glasses the main character finds when on vacation in England.  They allow him to see another dimension, actually throwing him into his other self's life........and the experiences are quite addicting.  You never really do get a good answer as to whether the glasses are real or a powerful delusion, but either way the Smith has managed to give an excellent look at how powerful mental addictions can be and wrapped it into an intriguing SF story.......give it a try, it's worth it

Finally we have Gemini Bites.....I ate this book up like a chocolate cake!  Ryan sets up the premise of these two twin siblings who absolutely hate each other, and then in the middle of the rivalry is a boy......and they both are intrigued and seduced by he a vampire as he claims? Is he into boys or girls?  Using Garret as a catalyst, Ryan takes us on a ride and the reader won't know up from down until the end..........loved it!
This book is probably the most unique book I have ever read in my life! From the beginning to the ending there was none of the traditional good vs. evil plot... They were all intermingled and part of something bigger and much more significant. In addition to the engaging plot, there is a lot to learn about Hispanic culture from this book. Dia de los Muertos is explained in great detail to the point where the reader will feel like they are in the story themselves. The only parts of the book that I would never like to reread again are the scary demonic descriptions :)
~Deblina Mukherjee~

Thursday, July 28, 2011

This is my review (from the Garden State Teen Book Awards Phamplet) for Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X Stork:
This book is probably one of the best stories I will ever read in my whole entire lifetime. After finding out that the narrator/main character had a type of autism, I expected the book to be about all his miseries and sorrows about his condition. Another sob story. Not. He had an unexpected (but realistic) outlook on life and questioned himself thoughtfully about his own behaviour throughout the story. What I loved the most about the book was how Marcelo overcame his internal conflict about whom he should help, his lovable father or a deprived girl with half of a face missing because of a faulty windshield. Over all, I think that people who like awesome stories with good plots and endings should read this book :)
~Deblina Mukherjee~

My book review (from the Garden State Teen Book Awards Phamplet) for The Reformed Vampire Support Group:

This book was part romance, part adventure, and part drama, which I liked a lot. It was not full of fluff like the other fictional "modern vampire" books I have read. Many readers will fall in love with this book (and the characters, plot, theme, setting, and almost everything else) once they start reading it. And just in case the reader of this review was wondering, there is supposedly a werewolf in this book because no vampire book is complete without a werewolf!!! I loved this book and so will all the future readers of this book... B-)
~Deblina Mukherjee~

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

This ARC, Dear Bully isn't due out for a few more months.....but I am so glad I got hold of it.  This is a simple format, authors send notes or letters to their bullies, or themselves as bullies.....yet it is extremely powerful to hear all the stories and even in snippets feel the pain that bullying causes and see the scars that do not always heal.  I will be purchasing this book and am hoping to do a program with it as well in Oct for Bullying awareness month. 

Incredible as it is to believe, Spies of the Mississippi is a factual book.  There actually was an arm of the government with a sole purpose of keeping integration from coming to their state.  It is a scary look at how far people will go to support their ideologies, even if they are incredibly damaging.  This should be required reading for ALL American History classes, and I highly recommend teachers read it and add some of the information to their lessons.......yes slavery and other events in American History were evil (Trail of Tears anyone?) but hiding them, or racing through them (yes I gave you the bare minimum now let's move onto something less guilt inducing) doesn't help.....everyone needs to understand how bad it was so that we can make sure we NEVER go there again!  Ignore the past at your peril......strong and intense reading but really really well written.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Review for Clara's War: One Girl's Story of SurvivalEven though I have read many books about the Holocaust, I have never read a book like this one ever before. In the middle of hiding Clara's family and the others seemed more realistic than any other characters in fictional stories about the Holocaust I have ever read about. The book never exaggerated their discomfort, but just gave a blunt description, which seemed to catch my attention more and was much more effective. Over all, I loved the book and the only part I hated was when Clara's sister died while trying to escape the fire. Realizing that she was so close to freedom was heart-wrenching for me, but I am glad that everyone else survived. I would definitely recommend this book to everyone.
~Deblina Mukherjee

Saturday, July 02, 2011

I have been a fan of Alex Sanchez since his first novel.....and I am sooooo happy to be able to read another of his titles!  This time he has chosen to approach the sadly misrepresented issue of bisexuality.  Mr Sanchez deals with the subject with a very light touch and with enough info given to satisfy yet with enough vagueness to allow each person to find their own favorite line is from Kimiko who, when asked "do you think I'm a bisexual" replies" Only you would know".......Perfect answer for anyone who has every questioned their sexuality!  Now to the story synopsis......4 friends, Kimiko and Sergio are besties, and Sergio identifies as bi, while Kimiko as a butch lesbian (likes dressing as a boy, but doesn't want to BE a boy).  Lance and Allie are also best friends, and Lance identifies as gay while Allie who never questioned her straightness, is now wondering if she is bi or gay due to her attraction to Kimiko.  The entire story revolves around the two couples as they interact, date and generally try to figure themselves and their relationships out.  Sanchez has also included the role of families in the novel, by having each teen's family dealing with their sexuality in differing ways, and some of the teens still in the closet about themselves.  All in all, this was an engaging and quick read, all about relationships and being a teen trying to figure out who you are.

Dawn is a girl who's trying NOT to think about certain things, though of course, once you decide not to think about something, it's all you think about........and the reader will know her secret long before Dawn is willing to discuss it.  I enjoyed this novel, but thought some parts of it were too.....I guess convenient is a good word.  For instance, Dawn's father left $200, 000 behind when he disappeared, and they have only used about $20,000 of it in two years.  With her mom on disability and all the gadgets etc, it seems like they should've gone through more of it.......and the question of whether or not they keep the money was kind of left open (or if it wasn't I missed it).......I also think the ending was a bit too pat.......while I personally like a convenient ending, everything tied up in a bow, as a reader I find myself discontent with it and feeling like it's unrealistic.  So, read it for yourself and see what you think.....

My Boyfriend is a Monster v 1, is a fun zombie romp of a novel.  This is a very fast read, not much new, but also not completely horrific, so perfect for those not into "realistic" horror graphic novels......FUN!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Red Glove is book 2 in the Curse Workers Series, following White Cat....and it is just as suspenseful and intriguing as the original.  In Red Glove Cassel is caught between multiple opposing forces, the Feds (who want him to turn state evidence) the Zacharov's (leading crime family & also the family of his lady love) and his own family's criminal past & present, due to the death of his brother.  How Cassel solves his dilemma and also tries to figure out how to be a good person in spite of his upbringing and talent is what makes Holly Black an exceptional writer.  The journey is amazing and I think all of us will be anxiously awaiting the next installment.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Here is my review for After by Amy Efaw:
Before I read this book, I thought that mothers who commited such evil crimes with their babies were either mentally disturbed or just plain evil. End of story. Except it turns out that the decisions that these mothers make are influenced by many outside and internal influences.  
In all honesty, I had a tough time reading this. It made my stomach churn because the thought of a baby left to die in a dumpster just makes me want to puke. Not only that but a few of the scenes where she is remembering the birth are slightly graphic.
The ending of the book was slightly unexpected to me. It seemed to come out of nowhere. In this way, it was actually better than several endings I had been expecting. After is a heartbreaking novel, but it is something that everyone should read to understand how nothing in the world is as simple as it looks. I strongly recommend this book to young readers so they can understand that decisions are never simplistic.

by Deblina Mukherjee

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturday, June 18, 2011

I discovered the tv series "Bones" early this year (only about 5 seasons behind the curve...sigh) and then found that Reichs writes books that the series is based loosely I read one, and enjoyed it, though it might be awhile before I read a lot more (mysteries not being my fav) when I heard she was writing a book for YA, I was simultaneously excited and worried.  Excited, because I already knew she was a great writer, and worried because, well, let's face it, sometimes when adult writers pen a book for teens they talk down to them or assume that it means they can get away with shoddy writing (sad but true).  I am pleased to report that Virals is Amazing!  It had a nod toward her popular character of Dr. Temperance Brennan with the main character being her niece (and also a budding brilliant scientist); but what it did NOT have was pedantic or patronizing writing or a heavy hand with the character's "teen-ness".   I love the mix of science fiction and mystery, and I love the "never gets old" trick of having the teens being smarter than the adults think they are......and the addition of a genetic altering of their consciousness.....just genius!  I really really liked this book, great pacing, fun mystery lots of suspense and characters that felt real not invented.   I can't wait for the next installment!

The Replacement, first of all, has one of the coolest and creepiest covers ever! (see left)  The main character is a changeling, in the fae sense of it.....he was traded as a young child with a human child.  He is one of the very few to live past the first few weeks, and now that he's a teen, he is desperate to fit in and tries to hide his strange quirks from others.  Then another child disappears and he is put in a position to try and make a difference....should he just keep sliding by or try to change something that has been working for years?  I loved reading creepy, so sad and yet hopeful and romantic......*big sigh*  Definitely give this one a try!

Sweet Venom is one that won't actually be out until this fall, but I got the ARC (Advanced Reader's Copy) and it just sounded fun.....and it was.  Childs has 3 main characters, who are triplets separated at birth and all related to Medusa....yes, THAT Medusa.  They have to save the world from monsters and keep from being killed, all while still trying to figure out how to get along with these relatives they've never met.  I really couldn't put this book down, and I don't know how I'm going to be able to wait for the sequel (cliffhanger But, I highly recommend this to readers who enjoy Percy Jackson and other mythology based fantasies, and the library will definitely be buying it as soon as it's released!

I got this title based on a recommendation from a fellow librarian (Tyler Rousseau).  It's a comic that examines war......and is a great read whether you're looking at a fun look at a made up world, or a deep examination of the futility of war.......and it's a fast read......definitely worth getting and trying.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

I have always been a HUGE fan of Shannon Hale, and regret that it took me this long to read this addition to the Bayern series.  I think I most heavily identified with the main character of this book.  She has a huge amount of self doubt and self hatred that she needs to work through in order to succeed.......and no one knows how much pressure she's under because she quietly does what needs the whole talking to trees thing?  Wow, if I could talk to animals or trees, I would be a happy camper indeed......I am now thinking I should go back and re-read the series......I might, though I have to admit my "to read" pile grows every who knows....

Cosmic is one that was recommended to me by several sources, and I finally got to it...and quite enjoyed it!  Liam is a little kid who has developed early so is constantly getting mistaken for an adult.  Boyce takes this into a comic turn when he allows Liam and his "daughter" (really a classmate that he talks into posing as his daughter) end up on a space mission.....and because Liam is the "adult supervision" when things go wrong, it's up to him to try and fix it while trying to act like the adult he isn't.  This is a fun book with a lot of heart and is great for all ages........a quiet little treasure you might miss, so please go read it!

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Ok, so here's where I tick off a whole lot of people.....I am a huge SciFi/Fantasy reader......but I have found out that I am NOT a huge fan of dystopic fiction.....maybe it's a middle aged thing, maybe it's just that I am sappy and like happy endings.....I don't know.....but I have tried, several times, to read both of these books, and just can't enjoy sue me for being a bad librarian.........or for going against the pack.........but there it is....I've admitted it....I DON'T like these books.  I am sure they are well written and am happy that so many people love them and I am happy to recommend them to anyone who does enjoy dystopic fiction......but it's not my, let's go read about Unicorns and Dragons ok?

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

I heard about this from Diana Tixier Herald at one of her presentations at NJLA. I was a bit leery, because it IS a zombie book and let's face it, there are a plethora of zombie novels out right now. I read it, and within one chapter was like WHOA!!! This is not just a zombie book, but is also a look at politics, the cultivation of fear and why some groups NEED you to be afraid, how we as people handle infectious diseases and also, about news and entertainment industries and how they work. Sounds like a lot, but what's most important (at least to me) is that it is a great STORY!! Here's the plot in a nutshell (and trying very hard not to give anything away).....George (aka Georgia) and her brother Shaun are bloggers along with their friend Buffy. They are invited to tag along with the 2039 presidential nominee, which is a huge deal as they are the first bloggers to be treated as a true news agency. Blogging IS a true news agency ever since the Rising, which is when the cure for cancer and the common cold revealed their "small" side effect......the dead rise and turn into predatory zombies. Unfortunately as George and Shaun follow their candidate they are caught into a conspiracy of epic proportions and they must find the truth and try NOT to join the undead. Cannot say enough times how much I loved this novel.....please read it and tell me what you think! (The So Bruns Library doesn't currently own it, but we are ordering it and will have it soon with a copy in the teen room and the adult fiction areas).


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Magic Under Glass is a sweet romantic fantasy for teens.  It begins with a young teen leaving the roving performance troupe for a chance to better herself performing for a "real gentleman".  She soon discovers that the clockwork figure she is supposed to sing with, is actually a bespelled faery prince.......and she is the only one who can save him.  This novel teems with spells, evils to overcome and the like with a subtle flavor of a moral lesson underneath (but very subtle so it doesn't ruin the story).  The ending is left open so one can only hope the story will continue.  I did enjoy the story and the characters and I think young teen girls will love it too.

The Gardener is a creepy scifi that is just this side of plausible.  It begins when a strange girl is awakened by a DVD and then bolts crying "beware of the gardener!  All along the way readers are carried in a storm of "what is happening" and "oh no!" running along with the main character to find out what happened to the young woman, if & how he can help and how it all ties back to science.  I can't say much or it'll ruin the story, but it was a wild and fun ride that was over too quickly.   A nice bit of future possibilities w/o all the dystopic angst in too many books lately (at least too many for me anyway)

Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, review by Nina Soukhanovskii

Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton.  A Quote to Consider: “With a shiver of foreboding he saw his marriage becoming what most of...