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, 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'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'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's AWESOME!

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...