Saturday, December 27, 2014

12/27/14 review from Saleena



Out of the Easy is a YA Mystery set in 1950s New Orleans.  Josie is the daughter of a prostitute who is trying to make a better life for herself when she suddenly finds herself in the middle of a murder.  I loved the sassy nature of Josie, she is a flawed character who is doing the best she can.  I am not a huge fan of the traditional mystery story, so this took me awhile to read (combing two of my least favorite types of books:  historical and mystery makes me drag my feet a bit)  but I did think Sepetys did a good job and enjoyed the story.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

12/16/14 from Saleena

This is, as you can see from the cover, not a deep serious book.  It's about three teens who find out that their local meat packing plant has created a zombie viral element, and is ignoring all logic (and laws) and using those tainted cows anyway for human consumption.  This is a fun book, it works logically, and actually highlights the plight of illegal immigrants (as the first whistle blowers to the problems were all deported).   If you want a fun, quick zombie read...this is one for you!




This is a fiction book in a graphic novel format.  The setting is cheerleaders vs the robotics team in a high school.  There isn't enough money for new uniforms for the cheerleaders, unless they take it from the robotics club.  The principal has decided that the student council will decide who gets the money; prompting both groups to insanely compete for the presidency.  When they go too far, it looks like all is lost; until they decide to collaborate and enter a robot deathmatch....if they win, they all get enough for their respective causes; but can they make this unnatural cooperation last?   A fun read with humor and a bit of realism, so I definitely recommend this.


Salt is in poetry format, set in the 1800s and alternates between the voices of a white village boy and a Native American boy from a nearby settlement.  The talk of war (War of 1812) is spreading and is causing tension.  Can two boys remain friends despite being on opposite sides of the war?  I thought the book was very well done, but not an especially exciting read.  This would probably work best in a classroom setting with a teacher explaining things as the reader moves along.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

11/8/14 more reviews from Saleena

I was really hopeful for this book, all about a boy who discovers that there is a book that defines who is to be bullied & that he is the "lucky" one.   I thought the book would be about the experience, or perhaps how he fought against it....but instead it was just blah.  Yes, he is bullied, and is fighting to reveal the truth about the book; but the reality is that he isn't handling things well at all; and seems to only want the book so he can pick someone else to take his place....the style it's written in is very informal; but it's first person so we are IN his thoughts as he talks about the book in two tenses....and I never saw the character seem....emotional, except in a "I'll get them back" sort of way.   So, all in all, while I had hoped that this would be a great book about fighting back, little man wins, type of thing; it ended up being more of a not so great book, with characters you just don't care about.   Sad.....=(



I thought THIS book was going to be a saccharine sweet bit of nothing set in the 60s music industry.....instead, I got a romantic yet thoughtful story of the music business, family and a bit of a mystery to solve (with a murder!).   I was very pleasantly surprised at the depth to the book and how much I enjoyed the adventure.   Give this one a try, as I'll be buying it when it releases in Jan.






I, like many others, am a huge NPH fan.  I like how talented he is, how down to earth and his great sense of humor.  Writing his book in the Choose Your Own Adventure style was perfect....and just like those stories...I read it "out of order" or front to back like a regular book.....(I always used to do that, loved figuring out how they got to that ending and seeing all the possibilities).   Yeah, I'm THAT person....haha.....but this bio is fun, insightful and interesting.   I think anyone who is a fan would enjoy reading it.





I love all the Georgia books that Rennison has written, so I was determined to try her new series.  Unfortunately, I didn't love it as much as I'd hoped to.  It has funny moments, and sad ones...and I don't think it's BAD ....it's just not....awesome.  Ah well......I tried.







Now THIS!   THIS is an amazing debut.  This is Chupeco's first book....and it's a horror story.....and it's creepy and deep and twisty and all the things you REALLY want a horror story to be.  It features two different "ghosts" (one is really a demon) both of Japanese origin....and several people (living) who can see them.  Okiko is the main ghost, and the whole story is written from her point of view.  Okiko is a world famous ghost (in real life) and her legend spawned hits like The Ring and other creepy tales from Japan.  She encounters Tark and his odd tattoos that seem to call to her; and she glimpses an odd creature that seems to be attached to them & him.  What the purpose of the tattoos is and how they tie Tark to this creature is what the reader discovers along the way.....what we also see is that Okiko is no longer tied to Japan but goes wherever people threaten or harm children and she wreaks vengeance on them for their crimes.   I can't say more without giving away the whole story, but it's really really good and you need to go read it NOW!


ttfn
Saleena

Friday, October 31, 2014

10/31/14, review from Saleena

YOLO is in the series with TTYL, TTFN and L8rG8r.....and covers the first part of their college experiences.  All of the girls are in separate colleges and dealing with various parts of their lives; sororities, dating, roommates and loneliness....and of course, they have each other to text and call when things get bad.
There are some intense moments in this book because the girls are a bit older, but still, I love the humor and honesty of the characters and the writing.  I always have to remind myself that these aren't real people....which is the best compliment I can give to Lauren Myracle....she's THAT good.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Review of Young Sherlock Holmes: Black ice by Ananya S.

Review of Young Sherlock Holmes: Black Ice

Sherlock Holmes has seen it all: strange murders, insane yet creepy villains, and terrifying plots that threaten entire nations. He’s been kidnapped and nearly killed on multiple occasions. Surely, there’s no way Sherlock’s sleuthing can get any more dangerous – so he thinks. However, everything changes when a dead man is discovered in a room next to Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft…who is found holding a knife. Naturally, the police assume Mycroft has killed the man, but Sherlock knows better; now, he must only prove his brother’s innocence by finding the true culprit. Sherlock’s investigation takes him from the dark corners of London to snowy Moscow, Russia – from old friends to old enemies. As he begins to piece together the truth, he realizes that a trap is slowly being drawn around him…
Black Ice proves to be rather different from its predecessors, Death Cloud and Red Leech. For instance, Sherlock spends much of the novel without his companions, Matty  aand Virginia and more time around adults, such as his brother, Mycroft, and his tutor, Amyus Crowe. The novel explores the theme that evil has many faces in addition to themes of loyalty and betrayal – nothing is ever as it seems. In terms of plot, the case is intriguing, but there is a little too much fighting; it almost feels like the novel is about how Sherlock escapes his captors than how he saves his brother from an unjust death. Lastly, Sherlock is developed based on his relationships with his elders, rather than his relationships with characters his age, as in the first two books. This shift provides a look at a different side of him as the novel takes on a slightly darker tone. Overall, Black Ice is an intriguing and exhilarating follow-up to Red Leech, even if there is a little too much fighting.

~Ananya Swaminathan

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

10/21/14 (Saleena's reviews)

How They Choked is Bragg's look at famous failures that turned out to be good things.  It is an ok read; but not as exciting a read as her other book, though I think it might be because of the format....she explores people like Marco Polo, Vincent Van Gogh and Amelia Earhart among others.








How They Croaked is a fun look at a bunch of "famous" deaths including Beethoven, Poe and Pocahontas.  She cites what happened, what was done and how it might have been different if it were a modern day problem.  Lots of information packed into a small book.







Now, THIS was a book I just had to try....c'mon "Evil Librarian?"  Worth a least a look, and Knudsen does a good job....basically their school has been targeted and their new librarian is actually a demon who is planning to kill everyone at the school in his bid for power in the lower realms. (Where is Buffy when you need her?)  Fortunately Cynthia is immune to his charms, unfortunately, she is only a teen who up until this actually happened, never believed in demons, etc...so she has NO idea what to do.
I loved the play of real life moments with crisis moments; but I especially loved when Knudsen would have us inside Cynthia's head, where she's quietly freaking out because her crush is RIGHT THERE.....while she's supposed to be focused on saving the world.....it's a fast, fun read and perfect for what ails ya.  Give it a try!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Young Sherlock Holmes: Red Leech by Ananya S.

Review of Young Sherlock Holmes: Red Leech

Sherlock Holmes is at it again. While eavesdropping on a conversation between his brother, Mycroft, and his tutor, Amyus Crowe, Sherlock discovers that one of the world’s most famous assassins might be a mere bike ride away from him. Intrigued, he decides to investigate the address in question. However, Sherlock’s minor investigation proves to have consequences when the criminals decide to kidnap his best friend, Matty, after discovering them on the premises. In order to save Matty, Sherlock, Amyus Crowe, and Crowe’s daughter, Virginia, journey to America. Gradually, they find themselves entangled in a plot that threatens the fate of the entire nation – a plot that must be kept secret at any cost…
Andrew Lane once again creates an intricate plot that includes a lot of action and suspense. He skillfully develops the characters of Sherlock and Virginia as well as the relationship between them. Lane also introduces Sherlock’s love of the violin in this book, which refers to the adult Sherlock’s violin-playing in the Conan Doyle books. However, Matty remains relatively undeveloped; consequently, his only purpose in the novel appears to be rescuing Sherlock from the dangerous situations that Sherlock manages to get himself into. Additionally, the main antagonist seems similar to that of the first book in the Young Sherlock Holmes series, Death Cloud, in a few notable ways. For instance, in both books, the villain’s plan threatens the well-being of an entire nation. Furthermore, both antagonists suffer from physical deformities and health issues. Despite these similarities, Red Leech remains different enough from the Death Cloud to be a nice read and a satisfying sequel.

~Ananya Swaminathan

10/10/14 Reviews from Saleena

Brendan seems to have everything; he's a wrestler, has a pretty girlfriend, decent grades.....but Brendan just knows something feels off.....he can't figure out what it is.  Then he meets Angel and learns about being transgender.  Can that be what he wants?  Can he ever be happy if he does admit to it?
This book is SO powerful, and the fact that it's in verse just makes it doubly so.  The sparse words that reach out and smack you in the face; the emotions that won't let go.  I love that Clark doesn't actually resolve Brendan's confusion, because there is such a spectrum out there.  The characters feel so real and their story is so intense that it won't leave you for a long, long time.


The Story of Owen is amazing in a whole OTHER direction.  This book is set in an alternate universe; with cars & technology; but ..well, with dragons who are drawn to the carbon emissions & stay for the crunchy, yummy humans that are found near it.  Owen is a dragon slayer, it's his family job, and his destiny; but the story is told by Siobhan, his bard.  It's also the story of two 16 year old's figuring out life and how to survive all the dangers of their world (including the dangers of high school).  Johnston does an amazing job of creating the world and the characters.  Once you start reading you won't be able to stop....it's so good!


I gravitated to this one just because I had to see what Black and Clare could do as a pair, given that I already adore their individual writings.  You know what?  It was pretty darned cool.   The Iron Trial is given to all youngsters who might have magical potential.....most think it's exciting; but Call has been raised to think of magic users as evil and he approaches the task with the intention to fail.  When he passes in spite of himself, he is sure that he is about to be killed....but he finds that magic school isn't awful all the time.  Sometimes, he actually likes it....and is getting pretty good at it.  But there's a war going on; and whether Call likes it or not; his dad AND the school have all been keeping secrets....and one of them will change EVERYTHING.
I really enjoyed this story, it was fun, fast-paced and a joy to read.  I can't wait to read the next installment.

So, Blood of Olympus is the final book in the Heroes of Olympus series...and boy, is it a doozy!  Riordan does a bang up job of bringing all the various story arcs together in a wild ride of a story that readers will NOT be able to put down until they finish.  I don't want to say too much for fear of spoilers, so let's just say, the fate of the entire world rests in the hands of these teens....and right up until the last second, you won't know for sure if they win or lose......it's AWESOME!




Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Review of Young Sherlock Holmes: Death Cloud by Ananya S.

Review of Young Sherlock Holmes: Death Cloud

Sherlock Holmes is an intelligent fourteen-year-old who leads an ordinary sort of life. As his mother is ill, his father serves in the army, and his brother pursues a career, Sherlock is sent away to the countryside to live with his aunt and uncle. Here, Sherlock meets an eccentric tutor named Amyus Crowe, and his life takes an extraordinary turn. During an outdoor lesson with Amyus Crowe, Sherlock stumbles upon a body. His interest piqued, Sherlock finds an overwhelming desire to solve the mystery behind the body and the strange “cloud of death.” Sherlock’s curiosity takes him from country fairs to dark corners of London as he pieces together a murderous plot that threatens his best friends…and the whole of Britain.
Death Cloud by Andrew Lane is a suspenseful read filled with red herrings. Its riveting plot keeps readers interested until the very last page. Additionally, Lane includes interesting character development; when characterizing Sherlock, he doesn’t focus too much on the strengths or weaknesses of the character. He instead tries to offer a more balanced portrait of Sherlock. Lane also makes Sherlock more relatable to today’s teenagers. Furthermore, Virginia Crowe, Amyus’s daughter, is portrayed as modern in terms of her views on gender equality, despite the fact that she grows up in a time period when women are expected to wear dresses and become housewives. Overall, Death Cloud is a thrilling start to Andrew Lane’s Young Sherlock Holmes series.

~Ananya Swaminathan

Thursday, September 18, 2014

looong overdue post from Saleena 9/18/14

Ok, so between vacation & generally being crazed this summer, I haven't posted as much as I should have....so here is what I have read in the last few weeks.....

This is a book that was sitting on my TBR (to-be-read) pile for awhile, I got it at Book Expo in May.  I am very sad it took me so long to read it, as it was truly a great read.  It is a quick biography and an inside view of why Don't Ask Don't Tell was a horrible governmental policy; as well as how the repeal of that policy has affected the military personnel.  It is written by Stephen Snyder-Hill, who is best known for asking a question about the policy to the Republic candidates at the Republican convention, and being booed by the entire group of attendees...and since it was a video question, it & the response quickly went viral.  Stephen is matter-of-fact in his delivery of events, much as you'd expect a soldier to be; and he details how he and his husband have become gay rights advocates, although they never set out to be.   I really enjoyed this book, I think it speaks to teens, adults and anyone who wonders what it's like to live in the closet....and it is also a great tool to show that just being gay doesn't mean you can't be anything you like (and you don't have to fit a Hollywood stereotype).

The Twelve-Fingered Boy is quite an adventure to read.....it starts off in a juvenile detention center, and then follows the two boys after their escape as they try to escape and evil mastermind using only their own mental powers.....Jacobs has written a great tale of woe & super-powers...it's like a comic book, but without the pictures (and I mean that as a compliment).   Fast paced, lots of adventure and an ending that leaves you chomping at the bit to read the sequel....highly recommended.







This is a biographical novel about Louis Michaux....and it is informative and amazing....in fact, my only problem with it, is that it is a biographical novel...which means MOST of it is factual, with a few liberties taken to add conversations they know about but don't have copies of, things like that....but what it means in reality (and in a library) is that it's a hard sell.....it's not just facts, it's not just fiction but a mix....my hope is to get people to read it, and then encourage them to research and find out which is which.....I had no idea who Louis Michaux was, and now that I've read of his fight to improve literacy in Harlem, to improve the lives of African Americans in the 60s and his passion for his books, I need to find out more.   Everyone needs to read this book, it's important not to forget individuals who influenced a generation, including Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.  ....and countless others who aren't famous but had their lives vastly improved by one man who insisted that they learn their history and read more books.


Savage Fortess is a fun, fast read for anyone jonesing for a new Percy Jackson book.....=)  This one used the Indian pantheon of gods, and a reluctant hero who fulfills a prophecy.   I really enjoyed it, and I think teens who love mythology based fiction will too.


Finally, I read (and re-read) the five first Birds of Prey trade paperbacks, and plan to finish catching up (once I replace the two middle volumes someone lost....sigh).   I love Oracle, she is a badass librarian and these books are just fun to read.


That's it.....go out & read people!!!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

House of Silk review by Ananya S.

Review of The House of Silk

It is winter 1890, and Sherlock Holmes and his good friend, Dr. Watson, are relaxing by the fire. Suddenly, they are interrupted by a mysterious man who appears – a client. The man, Mr. Edmund Carstairs, proceeds to tell Holmes and Watson about The Flat Cap Gang, a criminal group in Boston. The gang had murdered a man and destroyed several precious paintings. Carstairs, wanting justice, had hired police to track the gang down; all of the members were subsequently caught, except for one…and that one member wants revenge… Intrigued by Carstairs’ story, Holmes and Watson are drawn into the darkest corners of 19th-century London. Slowly, the case itself only becomes more confusing as the stakes are raised higher; eventually, Holmes comes to hear of the “House of Silk.” Despite many warnings, he and Watson investigate the mysterious and dangerous name; however, the consequences of their curiosity could prove to be fatal…
The House of Silk, by Anthony Horowitz, is a satisfying albeit dark novel. The mystery is very well developed, with clues subtly slipped into the text. Horowitz includes many unexpected plot twists, but none of them seem far-fetched, and all fit with the storyline. Additionally, Horowitz has a good grasp of the Holmes-Watson dynamic; this, along with his tone, makes The House of Silk feel like an authentic Sherlock Holmes story. Overall, The House of Silk is a dark yet enjoyable read.

~Ananya Swaminathan 

Thursday, August 07, 2014

8/7/14



This is the sequel to Anna Dressed in Blood and finds Cas desperate to figure out what happened to Anna after she sacrificed herself to save him & his friends.  When he finds out that she is in Hell, being tortured by Obeahman he is determined to find a way to rescue her.  But doing so will mean going against some very powerful entities....and might cost Cas his life......
Blake has written a worthwhile sequel that is creepy and awesome and ends satisfyingly.  I love the characters and their interactions and am hoping for more adventures of Cas and his friends....but even if I don't get them, I will savor the time I spent with them in these two books.

We Were Liars is a classic example of an unreliable narrator......Cadence isn't intentionally misleading anyone, she genuinely can't remember what happened the summer everything fell apart.  The reader is along for the ride as she tries to untangle the knot that is memory & the things not-said by her well meaning family.  The ending isn't one that I expected but that made me savor the journey even more......definitely read this.....it was really, really good.


Scar Boys is the name of the band that Harry is a part of......in the initial stages, we are told that this story is a (rather long) essay to a "faceless admissions guy" about who Harry is.  Along the way we learn about how Harry got his horrible scars, his tortured psyche and also his journey into being healthier and stronger.  I love all the musical references, with the chapter titles being song titles as well as the music being an element that ties everything together.  Technically this is historical fiction as it takes place in the 80s *cringing a bit because I was THERE and it doesn't feel that long ago*  but it doesn't feel historical as much as it feels relevant......really about growing, and pain and heartbreak....and rock and roll......this is a really, really good books that should be enjoyed by more people.....read it and pass it along   =)  Saleena

review of Born Confused by Simran B.

Born Confused Review by Simran B.

Plot Summary:  Dimple Lala is just a 17 year old girl in New Jersey, struggling with the one question we all face during these teenager times. Who am I? She is caught in between two different worlds, trying to find the perfect balance and harmony between them. She feels as she is too Indian for the Americans, and not Indian enough for her own heritage. As the book progresses, Dimple realizes that it doesn’t have to be an either-or choice. She understands that she can be both, and discovers the balance she was once looking for. She understands that she doesn’t have to be embarrassed to express her Indian culture, and realizes that being different is perfectly fine.  

Along side with the issue of trying to discover who you are, Born Confused deals with the issue of trying to live up to your parents’ expectations. This issue is a crucial part of the book, as at the beginning Dimple fails to understand what her parents truly want of her. Albeit, as the book continues on, Dimple develops a closer relationship with her parents, and realizes they are not all that different from her, and can surprisingly relate to what she is going through.

At the same time, the books hits on the issue of maintaining relationships, as Gwyn, Dimple’s best friend suddenly just assumes that Dimple has a perfect life, due to still having parents that are still together and love each other, and as to having an intact family. However, Gwyn fails to see that while this is true, all of this does not equal to a perfect life. As I mentioned before, Dimple is going through some tough times of her own, such as the “identity quest” to discover who she actually is and how she fits inside this world. This issue of maintaining relationships, and the way that Gwyn suddenly jumps to the conclusion of Dimple having a perfect life, is a fantastic way to incorporate the message of “things aren’t always what they seem, especially if you are looking in from the outside”.

Now, while there are several other key points in the book, these are only three of them. (After all, how can I tell you the others? That would just be spoiling the book for you! You’ll have to read the book to find out the rest!)
Overall, Born Confused is a wonderful book of a typical teenage struggling with several issues in her life and trying to deal with them all. While the book is a bit lengthy (500 pgs), and takes a while to take off, it is filled with enriching detail, and is one that will keep teenagers engaged. Once the book takes off, you will definitely get hooked, and will just want to keep reading! Now, what are you waiting for? Go ahead, grab this book of the shelves, and start reading!

*A side note* While reading this book, keep your mind open, and be prepared for the unexpected!


book review from Ananya S.

Review of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (book)

It’s been a year since Lucy and her older brother, Edmund, have last visited the magical land of Narnia. As Peter is preparing for college and Susan is in America, the two siblings are forced to stay with their obnoxious younger cousin, Eustace. One of Eustace’s favorite pastimes, in fact, is mocking Edmund and Lucy about the “imaginary” land of Narnia…until a painting on the wall comes to life. Finding themselves on the ship of King Caspian, Edmund, Lucy, and Eustace (the latter not so enthusiastically) join the crew on a journey to the end of the world.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is, however, largely Lucy’s and Eustace’s book. It is through them that Lewis explores his most significant themes, such as temptation, change, and faith. Eustace, originally annoying and selfish, is tempted by cursed gold and transforms into a dragon. After observing the crew’s support and his cousins’ compassion for him in his cursed state, he vows to become more helpful and considerate. Lucy, meanwhile, discovers a book of spells; one of these spells could make her the most beautiful girl in existence…but would ultimately lead to the destruction of worlds. As we discover Lucy’s inner conflicts and insecurities, we are also exposed to her unwavering faith in Aslan, the creator of Narnia; when the ship is in its darkest hour, it is Lucy who saves the crew with her belief in Aslan.
Through thorough characterization of Lucy and Eustace, C. S. Lewis, the author of The Chronicles of Narnia series, explores the ideas of loyalty, temptation, faith, redemption, and (ultimately) of growing up. Overall, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is both an interesting beginning to the adventures of Eustace in Narnia and a satisfying conclusion to those of Lucy and Edmund.  


~Ananya Swaminathan

Friday, July 18, 2014

7/19/14

Only have one book to report on this week; working on a few more and actually re-read some books because I needed some "comfort reads"

So here is my lone finished selection:

Panic is a game....an illegal game that the kids in high school came up  and have kept going for years.  It's a game focused on challenging people's worst fears.  There is a high payout (which is the best incentive to play) because everyone contributes $1 a day for the entire year.....no exceptions.
Heather never planned to play, but then she was heartbroken over finding out her boyfriend was cheating and jumped in....and then life hands her new incentives to keep playing.....Dodge is playing for revenge.....he wants to pay back those who hurt his sister so many years ago when she played.....but for both of them; playing Panic will change everything, win or lose.

I had heard lots about this book, and finally jumped into reading it; and Oliver does a good job of keeping you engaged with alternating chapters from Heather and Dodge's point of views.  I was really worried about how it all would end as the stakes kept escalating....and then when Oliver found a way to bring a happy ending (of sorts) I felt disappointed......I don't know what I wanted.....it was just all so...."happily ever after".....I felt like it was lie; but I don't know that I would have liked a "and then they all died" ending either....so, you read it, tell me what you think.....=)
Saleena

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

7/8/14


Now for some teen reads and also my apologies for the long delay....finding time to read has been difficult as has finding time to post)

McCutcheon Daniel's life is rough...he's a junior MMA fighter, which is illegal, so he can't really talk about it; but he trains hard so he can be a champion...and also so he can make money to take care of his little sister.  His dad gets most of the money, which he gambles or drinks away; and it's definitely not fun.  Then a teacher starts pushing him to try for the lottery to a better school.....but can a better school really help him or is he stuck?   This is not a happier ever after story, but it's real and it's hard and it's really good.  I hated the ending; but not because it was bad, but because it made sense but I wanted somehow for M.D. to get a fairy tale ending from his very rough life story.....then again, a fairy tell happily ever after probably would have ruined the whole story...so, read this if you're looking for real-ness......street level grime & grit......and characters that speak to you.


Yes, I read Frozen...but not THAT Frozen.....this one is about a girl who is being brought up by very well-to-do people; but she hasn't spoken a word since being found almost dead in the snow when she was a child.  She doesn't remember much, but when she finds some pictures of her long-dead mother, memories start to come back....and so does her voice......but sometimes when things begin to thaw, bad things come to the surface......and remembering how her mother died, and who her mother was might endanger her not only her future but her life.   This is a historical fiction, which isn't usually my first choice to read; but I really enjoyed it.  I liked all the mysterious clues and also her honesty as she struggles to deal with her past and what she wants from her future.  My only criticism is that the ending was a bit too.....easy.....maybe I'm too cynical though....see what you think

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

6/10/14


Read this one while sitting in various lines at BEA in NYC, and now I know why it's been on everyone's top list....it is pretty amazing.   It's a bit hard to explain....and that's one of the reasons I love it; but think of it as a book version of one of the best "bad" SF flicks.....and you'll understand!  Basically there is a virus that is accidentally released that turns everyone who touches it into giant grasshoppers....who then eat everyone who ISN'T a grasshopper.....and also make sure to lay lots of eggs so that there are millions MORE grasshoppers....and only a handful of teens can figure out how to stop it......there's humor and sex and violence......what more could you ask for?




Finally got around to reading Legend; which everyone is talking about.....and though I may not read the rest; I do understand the appeal.  It's exciting reading with action happening non-stop.......and maybe one of these days I'll get around to reading the next one......but if not, at least I won't feel so out of the loop.....=)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

5/28/14

Coldtowns are essentially areas of cities that have been blocked off and left to the vampires......you see vampires have been discovered to be real; and turning "cold" means you have acquired the vampire hunger and virus; but until you drink human blood, you aren't really a vampire....but you are dangerous as all you think about is killing humans and drinking their blood.  These coldtowns were created to contain the problem; but unforunately, vampires just look cool....and the weblinks of their parties aren't helping.  Tara knows for a fact that vampires are dangerous.  She has a scar from where her mother tried to kill her.  She has internal scars too, but no one pays any attention to them.  Then the party happens......it seemed like a normal teen party....but someone opened a window; and a vampire (or two or three) got in....so Tara passes out from drinking and wakes up to a house full of corpses.  She finds only two others in the house, a vampire who says he'll help her; and an ex-boyfriend who has been infected.  Tara rescues both of them, and they are off to Coldtown......and what happens from there, well, it's just wow.....
Holly Black has created a nonstop adventure; capturing our fascination with vampires as well as some of the gruesomeness of their society.  Tara is just the perfect protagonist; and I feel like she's someone I'd love to hang out with.....or maybe I just feel like she's a lot like me....who knows?  Regardless, this isn't a brand new book, but it only came out last year...so if you haven't tried it.....please, go get it right now!  Really, it's that good.



Hunger is the beginning of a series Kessler started all starring teens as various riders of the apocalypse....yeah, you know, harbingers of death, etc, etc.....I grabbed this one as it had been one I'd meant to read for awhile.   Lisabeth is in denial that she's anorexic...but the reader will know it right away.  She thinks it's a delusion when she is told that she will be Famine; but it turns out that it isn't.  As Famine she can starve things or feed them, depending on what she herself imbibes.....and asking her to eat or drink in large amounts is definitely a problem.   I loved how Kessler incorporated the issues of anorexia with the supernatural embodiment of Famine....I can't wait to read the rest of the series.

Perry's Killer Playlist is the sequel to Crazy European Chick; and gives the reader just as crazy of a ride as its predecessor.  This time Inchworm is given a European tour; and Perry decides to just pop in and check if Gobi is around at a bar they mentioned they might meet up in......and when she is.....all hell breaks loose.

This is a nonstop thrill ride and I can't believe neither have been optioned for movies....but it's ok, the movie I saw in my head was AMAZING!

I can't say too much or I'll give away everything, but go read both books......it's worth it, and they are VERY fast reads.







Croak is another one that I had been wanting to read.....and it was definitely worth checking out.  Lex has major anger issues so she's sent upstate to live with her uncle for the summer....how this is supposed to help, she has NO idea.  When she arrives, she finds that Croak, the town he lives in, is actually a dimensional portal; and that her anger issues are caused by her gift...she is a Reaper.....(they call them Grimms) and much to her surprise, she's really good at it.  Then people begin to die mysteriously....can Lex figure out what is going on and stop it?
I cannot wait to read the next one!




Ann Brashares is best known for her Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series.  This is her first science fiction novel.  It's a time travel adventure, and the main idea is that a group of travelers came back from a horrible future trying to stop that future from ever becoming. But t they seem more afraid to do anything at all due to the worries of paradoxes....and then Prenna begins to do the unthinkable...she starts to fall for Ethan....what happens then just might change everything.....
I enjoyed this, it was a bit of a slow starter but it was a pretty good read.  The paradoxical time travel issues were the most interesting aspect to me.....I wasn't feeling the romance; but then, I am an old lady...and jaded from one too many romance novels.....so, give it a try and see what you think.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

5/17/14

I really enjoyed this book.  It was sweet and fun with a lot of character.  Perfect for middle school readers....basically Abby has always known that her father was Indian and had returned to Mumbai before she was born; but she's never met him and has always wondered about the lack of contact.  When she has a severe allergic reaction to coconut on day, questions compound and Abby's mother admits that her father never really contacted her back or acknowledged her existence.  Abby is determined to find out why and then stumbles on to the fact that her father might indeed be a Bollywood superstar.....what happens from there is a fun ride (with some real emotions).....definitely a quick, fun read.


In the fourth book of the Virals series, Reichs is beginning to explore whether or not there might be continuing consequences to the genetic "gifts" the Virals have....and of course, there is a mystery to solve and enemies hiding everywhere.   This continues to be a fun read, grab it for a quick adventurous ride.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Review of Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Ananya Swaminathan

Review of Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks is a heartwarming story

of an 8-year-old boy named Max and his imaginary friend, Budo. Unlike most books

that involve imaginary friends, Memoirs is told from Budo’s point of view.

Budo is Max’s five-year-old imaginary friend. Although Max has needed him

all this time, Budo fears that Max will eventually stop needing and believing in him;

if that were to happen, Budo would disappear. Budo, wise beyond his years and still

somehow endearingly naïve, provides quirky yet profound commentary on the world

around him. From Max’s ASD to a robbery at a gas station, he touches upon

quintessential truths that make readers wonder what, if anything, marks the

difference between the “real” and the “imaginary.”

As we learn more about Max’s school life, Budo introduces Mrs. Patterson,

one of Max’s teachers. However, he instinctively knows that there is something

wrong with Mrs. Patterson and that there is a disaster waiting to happen. When

Budo’s suspicions are confirmed, he must get help from both “real” and other

“imaginary” friends to save Max. However, by doing so, Budo threatens his very

existence…

Although essentially a story about a boy and his imaginary friend, Memoirs

goes above and beyond in every way; it tackles themes of love, friendship,

sacrifice, and growing up while remaining engrossing and relatable to a teenage

audience. From quirky start to bittersweet end, Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend is

an original, heart-stirring tale.

Ananya Swaminathan

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

book review from Aditya Venkatesh


Around the World in 80 Days
By Aditya Venkatesh


Classics bore me. Flat out. Those are pretty much the only books we read in school, and analyzing symbolism more than reading the story doesn’t help matters. Then, one day, to my immense surprise, I found a classic that was, not only bearable, but also kind of interesting! Around the World in 80 Days, by Jules Verne, is actually a pretty exciting story about how Phileas Fogg places a huge bet (20,000 Euros, which is the equivalent to over 1 million Euros today) that he can travel around the world in just 80 days. And oh yeah, there are no planes… just trains and boats (we are in the 1800s). Not the express trains we have today, but the ones that go maybe 30 mph. As it turns out, having to bear the boredom of travelling thousands of miles at a snail’s pace is the least of Fogg’s problems. Fogg runs into foreign cops for false accusations, undertakes an unexpected rescue mission, fights through Native Indian attacks, and faces numerous other crises; can Fogg make it home in 80 days and win his bet, or is this bet merely a pointless, overambitious attempt to make some quick money? An intense thriller with so much at stake, this book is a classic because it is actually a book worth reading - not because it has a lot to analyze. Keep an open mind and be patient for the first few pages, and you could be surprised that a book written in the 1800s actually has you turning those pages.

3/14/14....and apologies for the long delay

Yeah, it's that time of year again....to apologize for forgetting to post stuff....and for missing complete titles....sigh.....so, consider it done and back to the reviews:



Master of Deceit is a balanced and informative look at Hoover and the FBI during his administration.  It is not, by nature or design, an exciting story...but is definitely informative and would be useful to someone doing research or looking at the history of the FBI.  I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a book to begin research with as it is well researched and has lots of source notes.





Wasdin doesn't talk down to teens, indeed I'm not sure he specifically was writing to teens; but it was a required reading book for me, and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.  Yes, there were those very typical macho things contained within it; a little bit of testosterone and a bit of swagger...but then, getting into the SEALs is a big deal and a challenge and SEAL Team Six even more selective...so he probably can be forgiven....I especially like that he equated some of his mental strength to his years of physical abuse; the ability to distance the mind from unpleasant and hurtful circumstances is real and made his story a lot more personal and human.  He even shares his regrets for how he is less demonstrative and more distant than he'd like to be given his job and his background.   I really enjoyed this, and think it would be very appealing to anyone wanting information on how the military works, or who just enjoys realistic contemporary reading.

By contrast, I also read The Warrior's Heart...which WAS a rewrite specifically done for teens from a title done for adults.   Evidently he did a good job, since it was a bestseller for him as an adult title....but as a teen book, it kind of falls flat.   The author decided to try his story in a sort of "choose your own adventure style"....using a lot of "what would you do" portions....but overall it comes off like he's talking to a little kid....and a bit patronizing.....I don't know if that was an editing decision, or if the person working with him to redo his story for a younger audience didn't know the age range they were trying for (everyone under 18 is a little kid mentality maybe?)...but I didn't enjoy it at all.....it definitely seemed more "I am awesome" with lots of swagger and less substance.


This title is really an overview of the Buried Life project; who are they, why did they start it, etc.  It is a really quick read with parts that seem a bit like Post books (pictures with slogans) and pages of more in-depth text on some that they have chosen to focus on.  This is a fascinating book and an interesting project.





Code Name Verity I read awhile ago, and just forgot to blog about it....and I really think it is one that lots of people should read.  It is in two parts; both set in WWII Europe....part one is a captured girl, who says she's a spy, telling her story while being tortured about her friend, and about her life.  Part two is the pilot's story .....she is the best friend of the spy and is also behind enemy lines, but not captured.   This book is not for young children as it contains graphic descriptions of terrible things done to the spy....but it is an amazing story using just enough facts to ground the reader in the correct history; but with a story that just grabs you and won't let go until the ending.



Discovering Black America is a wonderful resource.  It contains exactly what it says it does....the history of Africans brought to America, what happened to them, the various circumstances that brought them there; and travels through the ages to the present day. The book is in sections so one can see pre-colonial times, then Colonial times, and so on.   This is a handy resource for anyone looking for a quick overview of history...and leaves you with many interesting names and places that you can do further research on should you wish to.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

2/27/14

 I started watching the Animal Planet show "My Cat From Hell" on Netflix...and fell in love with the show and Jackson Galaxy, the Cat Daddy himself....so when I saw he had a book; I had to read it.  I loved it so much!  He is brutally honest about how he got to this place in his life, talking about his addictions and problems but also about how the animals in his life have helped him; and how helping people has become his life's work.  I also appreciated his difficult journey of becoming a pet expert without a degree as well as how careful he is to always suggest veterinary help for all medical problems.  If you haven't seen the show or read the book, you should....you won't regret it.


The Fairy Ring was a fun, quick read about the scandalous way two young girls fooled the world into believing they had photographed fairies.  I knew some of the facts; and have even seen them incorporated into some SF shows I've seen (Torchwood being one that comes to mind the fastest)....I think this is a fun and interesting book for anyone interested.


This book is exactly what it purports to be; a look at various scenarios in books, movies and art that depict the end of the world through the ages.  Of course there are many more than 50; and the author admits it was difficult to choose favorites; but it was an interesting and fun book to read.

Friday, February 07, 2014

2/7/14

This is the week where I get lynched by all the "proper" librarians who appreciate "high literature" and all that it entails.....sigh.......ok, no way out but through.......
Brides of Rollrock Island is a heavy favorite with every English teacher and major literary person....partly because Lanagan has been nominated for several awards and has won many of them.....and if not won then got high honors.  I was assigned to read this....and frankly, I was dead bored.  A story with Selkies....yes!  I love myths and fairy tales.....but this wasn't it.... It felt like it took forever to get anywhere....and when we did get somewhere...I just didn't care.....too many words; not enough story.....but, again, I am a nobody who just wants a rollicking good story not lots of beautiful language and thrilling symbolism and such.....
Now here, this is a good story....yeah it's a biography....but it's informative and witty and moves along quickly.  I like a good biography; and Blumenthal wrote a very good one....she points out Jobs flaws as well as his assets.....I really enjoyed this book.
And here we have another literary gem......one that bored the heck out of me...so it must be really very good according to all the "in the know people"......this one is a dramatic look at a teen pregnancy...and this teen is sent to Spain to give birth in secret and then come back and continue her life as if nothing happened.   I will grant you that the author did make very pretty pictures of the feeling of Spain; but the whole thing just felt....blah......I didn't feel like I connected with the main character, I felt like the whole thing was just rambling......sigh......yes, the language was beautiful......but I just hated reading it......

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...