Friday, March 28, 2008

Cover-Up: Mystery at the Super Bowl by John Feinstein, Read by the author

I think I've purchased just about every book Feinstein has written for my library because they are so popular. Cover-Up has been out for awhile and I've been meaning to read it, so I jumped at the chance to listen to it. It was read by the author, and I hope he doesn't read anymore. The reading wasn't as good as it could've been. Too monotone for me.

Steve and Susan Carol are back as the famous kid sports reporters. They have already solved mysteries at the U.S. Open and the NCAA Final Four basketball tourney, and now they tackle the Super Bowl. Things are different though because Steve is let go by USTV and finds two new jobs--a newspaper and CBS. Susan Carol has to work with the star of a boy band who says "dude" a lot but serves as eye candy. They both use their connections to talk to big football stars and expose a cover-up about the Dreams offensive line being on HGH. There are lots of convenient coincidences because everything works out in the end. But, this is a decent mystery for young kids. To me, it's not really a high school book, but I purchased it because of the topic. Any book about football will be read.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Skim by Mariko Tamaki, drawings by Jillian Tamaki

I received this young adult graphic novel yesterday through Junior Library Guild and figured it would be a quick read. For a graphic novel, it wasn't. Lots of words and lots of concentration required on my part. I'm trying to become a better graphic novel reader, really, I am. I know I'm supposed to do more than just read the words, so I'm trying to really "read" the pictures. But it's difficult.

However, I enjoyed this read. Kim (or "Skim") is a girl at a private school who doesn't quite fit in. She's Goth--kind of. She's Wiccan--kind of. And she doesn't care when a popular guy at school commits suicide. And she doesn't really care when his girlfriend breaks both arms "falling" off a roof. Kim's best friend isn't much a friend. And then Kim gets a crush on a teacher. And the teacher lets things go on a little too long, gets scared, and moves away. But Kim is crushed and finds a new friend to help her manage.

Kim is a typical kid, and that's one reason why I enjoyed this tale. Her parents are divorced and her mother swears that work is more fulfilling than marriage. Her father is dating someone who makes ceramic mugs. The guidance counselor at school thinks that Goth kids require more counseling because they embrace death. The Wiccan group turns out to be an AA meeting. And the list goes on.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Master of the Delta by Thomas H. Cook

Oooooo--I loved this adult mystery!! I even had to go back and re-read portions of it to see where I was misled. That's my sign of a great book!

Jack Branch is a teacher at the local high school, just like his father. Except his dad suffers from depression which led to the "incident" (otherwise known as shooting himself in the head). Now the dad stays in his ailing plantation home and writes a biography of Lincoln. Jack is an interesting teacher--his favorite class is on evil in history and literature. Jack finds a student to "adopt" and tries to help Eddie, a student who is the son of the Coed Killer. So this is the story of Eddie and Jack, along with the other students in the class. The suspenseful novel doesn't end how you expect--so prepare to be shocked!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Dreamhunter: Book One of the Dreamhunter Duet by Elizabeth Knox

The Spring Break Best Book Award Winner!

After Book two of this duet won the Printz Award, I felt guilty that I never read the first one. I've had this book in our school collection since it was published and never read it. In fact, only one person last year even checked it out.

But now it'll be displayed front and center. Whoa-is it good!

Laura and her cousin Rose are 15 and finally able to Try. This means that they can try to cross the border to the Place, where they can catch dreams and return them to the normal people. Laura's father found the Place years ago when he disappeared off a stagecoach. Upon returning, it was discovered that people who slept around him all had the same dream. Hence, a new product was discovered. Dreamhunters go to the place, sleep, and return to share their dreams. Some share the dream in the Rose Palace, like Rose's mother. Some work for the government, like Laura's father. And some discover how to do bad things with nightmares and dreams. Dreamhunter is powerful, amazing, and kept me reading hurriedly to the end. I can't wait to read the sequel!

Take Me There by Susane Colasanti

After reading and loving Colasanti's When It Happens, I eagerly snatched this advance reading copy at the ALA conference in January. I truly believe that When It Happens is one of the best young adult romances out there and highly recommend it to my students. So I was a little disappointed in Colasanti's new romance. I was a little confused as I read it and had to keep referring to the first few chapters. Rhiannon is upset because Steve broke up with her. James is Rhiannon's friend who wishes she would like him as more than a friend. Nicole just broke up with Danny and likes her teacher. Brad is beating up Sheila. Gloria is after Steve. See how it gets confusing? The problem with the alternating narrators is that I never felt like I really got to know any of the characters, which resulted in confusion. The narration switches from Rhiannon to Nicole to James. Tricky. It could have worked with a little more editing and focus. It just didn't quite get there for me. I'll still buy this novel for my library, but I won't push it as much as her first one.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Riddle by Alison Croggon

I stopped reading this young adult novel on page 199. And I can't believe I did. I LOVED the first book in the trilogy, The Naming. I'm not sure why I can't struggle through The Riddle, but my time is valuable. I have a pile of other books to read that won't slog on like this one.
Maerad is on a journey to find the treesong with her teacher Cadvan. So far, that's all they've done. Traveled. Fought something occasionally. And Maerad is really good about being depressed and feeling sorry for herself. Maybe that's why I don't want to continue reading. So, I won't be reading the third book in the series, either. Too bad, because I really thought this series had so much potential. I'll be interested to hear what my students think about The Riddle and The Crow.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Size 14 is Not Fat Either by Meg Cabot, Read by Kristin Kairos

I think I'm finished with my adult Meg Cabot books now. This one completed the Heather Wells run of audiobooks. Heather isn't that funny anymore.

Heather Wells is an ex-pop star who now is serving as an assistant dorm director. She's nosy. She's smart. And she keeps getting involved in the murders in her dorm. Or, excuse me, residence hall. New York College insists that their students live in residence halls. Heather is in love with her ex-boyfriend's brother, who also happens to be her landlord. So things are messy. Her dad finally gets out of prison, too. After 20 years. So, while this book is a mystery, there's a lot of drama and love mixed in there, too. If you lived the first book, Size 12 is Not Fat, then read this sequel.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Curse of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz

I love when the sequel is just as good as the first book! Lutz doesn't disappoint in this hilarious adult novel. The first book, The Spellman Files, won the Alex Award because of the giggling opportunities. I mean, really, how often do you read mysteries that make you laugh? Lutz really reminds me of Janet Evanovich because her characters are easy to love. But Lutz makes me laugh more than Evanovich.

Izzy Spellman is in trouble. Well, it seems like she is cursed. She keeps getting arrested. Her parents' cute new neighbor is suspicious and Izzy can't figure out the mystery. So, what does she do? She breaks and enters, he gets a restraining order against her, and she tracks his movements with a GPS. What is going on? Her parents are having a strange midlife crisis of some sort and her sister is still addicted to a strange friendship with Henry. Let's just say that Izzy's life isn't boring. She is my favorite fiction private investigator--and I read a lot of mysteries!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Luxe by Anna Godbersen

I'm so glad that Simon Pulse is pushing a historical fiction young adult novel. I know the publisher is pushing this as a Gossip Girl-like book, and I guess it is. The setting is New York City, 1899, and the main characters are rich girls, just like Gossip Girl. But, obviously, society has its own set of restraints. Elizabeth Holland is in love with the stable boy, but her mother needs to her marry the rich playboy for the money. The rich playboy has been messing around with Elizabeth's best friend, but ends up falling for Elizabeth's sister. Oh, the twisted games of love! :) It makes for a quick read though, and I highly recommend this chick lit book to girls. I've always loved romantic historical fiction, and hopefully this is will turn on girls to that genre.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Crazy School by Cornelia Read

I interlibrary loaned this adult novel and it kept me entertained. Madeline (I love that name) takes a job as a teacher at a crazy school. It's for kids just out of prison or for those kids who need one last chance. It's expensive, and parents who don't care or just don't know what else to do dump their kids there. The leader is crazy, too. He has a helicopter that he's learning to fly and believes in cruel methods of "treatment." He spies on everyone--even his own teachers. And we learn later that he has a dirty little secret, too. Madeline is recovering from a scare in her own past and helping the kids is helping her. But soon she doesn't know who to trust when two of her students supposedly commit suicide. Madeline is the prime suspect, but she knows she didn't do it, even though she hallucinated and vomited incessantly the night of the murder. And so here goes the mystery. Of course, everything works out in the end, just like every satisfying mystery.

This read was entertaining, but I'm not sure what I'll remember the plot if you ask me about it. The title will help me at least.

Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going, read by Matthew Lillard

There aren't too many books out there about fat kids--even though we know there are tons of them in the United States. This book has been out for a few years and I finally got around to listening to it. It's good. Mainly because it's about a fat kid who doesn't end up drastically losing weight in the end to become the perfect kid. Yes, things get better, but he's not pounds thinner. Basically Troy discovers that there are worse things than being overweight. He meets Curt, the local guitar hero, who is also homeless and addicted to OTC meds. Curt drafts Troy into his band on a fluke one night, but they both follow through. Troy takes lessons from the local punk band drummer and Curt practices hims, too. But Troy realizes that being fat is nothing compared to not having someone who loves you. Sure, Troy lost his mom to cancer years ago. But Curt doesn't have anyone besides friends. No parent or sibling to love him. Troy has his dad (even though he is a Marine who occasionally still barks orders) and his younger (and buff) brother who is the typical jock and everything Troy hates. But both love Troy, even though he weighs almost 300 pounds. Punk rock fans, read this. Or if you just feel like raging against the world, you'll like this one, too.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga , read by Scott Brick

Fanboy doesn't have much of a life. He lives for his conversations with his only friend, a lacrosse jock who happens to like comics too. Until Kyra comes along. She's goth and believes in Fanboy. She loves the graphic novel he's writing and gives him the attention he needs. But her relationship with him isn't perfect. She is always skipping school and acting moody. He never knows what she is going to do next. They disagree and she blows up at him. It isn't the perfect relationship, but since it is all he has, Fanboy loves it. At the end of the book, Fanboy finds out that Kyra isn't what she seems.

I liked the narration of this book, but didn't like Fanboy. He was so very whiny. I know some kids feel like they don't have any friends, but this boy took it to the extreme. He pushed friendly kids away and made things worse than they seemed. He didn't know how to have a functional relationship. If you want to read a Barry Lyga novel, read Boy Toy--it's so much better!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Gossip of the Starlings by Nina de Gramont

This adult novel is due to be published in June and I can't find any other reviews. This is one case where I feel that I might be way off-base on my review. Oh well.

Catherine is a rich, snooty girl who is always friends with the other beautiful rich people. At her new boarding school, she is instantly befriended by the famous Senator's daughter, Skye, and is befuddled by the relationship. The two of them are instant friends, yet Skye yearns for her old friendship of Susannah at her old school. Catherine is dazzled by Skye's famous family and old money and sucked into her world. Despite Susannah's jealous warnings, Catherine becomes Skye's world.

I felt like I had read an older version of this book before, but new drugs had been added. I know I’ve read a lot of prep school books, and I’m not sure if this book was a good addition to the genre. I KNOW the book will be talked about. The publisher is already pushing it. And it is shocking and a decent read. But I’m not wowed by it. I felt like the author crammed all sorts of “good” stuff into the book—famous politician’s daughter, uncaring father, gorgeous poor boy, Venezuelan cocaine runs, boarding school trouble, teacher/student affair, mean/lying girls. Oh, and horses. I admit that I liked the horse parts best.