Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Dead Girls Don't Write Letters by Gail Giles

I know I've read this tiny little book before, but couldn't find my rating on it anywhere. So at least it was a quick re-read! Giles' books are always a hit with reluctant readers at my high school, but I remembered toward the end of this one that I wasn't a fan of the ending. I'm not going to give it away in my review, but you might be left with a air of disappointment after finishing.

Sunny has always been the daughter who is ignored and teased by her sister and parents. Now that Jazz is dead, killed in an apartment fire, her dad is a drunk and her mother is a pill-popping depressed loser. Until Sunny receives a letter in the mail from Jazz. Next thing you know, Jazz is back in the family home. Maybe. Is she really back? Why? How?

First Shot by Walter Sorrells

I can see why this adventure mystery is a hit with teenage boys at my school. It's a bit cheesy with the coincidences, but has enough of the Goonies flair to make the plot work. David Crandall's mother was murdered and his own dad is arrested two years later. But his mother had a history of cheating, and even her own father ripped off the family's military school. Didn't he? Maybe. It's up to David, his grade school trailer park trash friend Leo and a crack shot Mississippi beauty queen to solve the crime.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Monster by Naoki Urasawa

Stop the presses, folks! I, Sarah Hill, actually LIKED this manga graphic novel! It's like a creepy episode of ER, and I love me a good medical mystery. Dr. Tenma is a Japanese man who moved to West Germany in the 1980's to learn brain surgery. He becomes the best, and tries to climb the political medical ladder, but decides that patients are more important than hospital directors and their doctors. Unknowingly, he creates a monster who preys on the innocent. I actually want to read the next volume--who knew this was possible for me? :)

Zombies Calling by Faith Erin Hicks

I'm on a graphic novel kick today since I'm trying to lighten my airline load for ALA Annual. While this short little thing paid homage to all zombie movies ever created, I think the humor fell short. Some of the moments are meant to be snarky, but just made me roll my eyes. Maybe teens would read it with a fresh mind? But I just wasn't impressed.

Maximum Ride: the Manga by James Patterson and NaRae Lee

I liked this as much as the original Maximum Ride book (Patterson, don't dumb down books because you're writing to teens!), and at least it didn't take me as long to read it! Shorter and sweeter if you need the Cliff's Notes version of the Maximum Ride series. I don't even want to write anymore.

Zombie Haiku by Ryan Mecum

Two words.



I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It by Adam Selzer

Heehee....I'm still giggling about this quick little zombie read. It's nice to read books that make me giggle! Example from page 14:

"The bulk of the crowd is made up of girls who are clearly hoping to become Will's One True Love (or at least his prom date). They're walking around flashing smiles that show no cavities and wearing clothes the nearly do show a couple of them."

Example from page 128: "The first clue that they aren't very bright is that not one of them can spell worth a damn. None of them have any idea of the difference between 'your' and you're,' and half of them say 'should of' instead of should've.' Ugh."

See? I'm the perfect reader for this book! Thanks, Mr. Selzer from Chicago, for making me like another zombie book.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Three Incestuous Sisters by Audrey Niffenegger

Wow. This little picture book has got me thinking. It's like a fairy tale with really cool pictures and I found myself thinking, "Why did she do that?" Can't wait to ask the author at ALA Annual next week! The artwork is sparse and hauntingly beautiful--so glad she explained the process in the back of the book for idiots like me. I'm even wondering why the word incestuous is in the title--did I miss something? Can't wait to have some friends read this one and see what they think!

Dead is the New Black by Marlene Perez

I was a big fan of Unexpected Development by Marlene Perez--who doesn't love a book with a bra on the cover? This little series is popular at PCHS and I can see why. It's cute, fluffy, and a little strange. I don't know about you, but I would worry if the head cheerleader came to school dressed in black and dragging a coffin behind her. But things are always a little weird in Nightshade. Daisy is the only woman in her family with no special powers, and she's feeling a little left out. Her dad left the family, her mom is always busy being a psychic for the cops, and her sisters can move things at will. But Daisy has Ryan, her friend who is looking pretty cute lately. And she's asked to try out for the cheerleading team. And she's a pretty good mystery solver, too. Someone has to figure out why vampires are running around Nightshade!

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, Read by Caitlin Greer

I'm reading lots of books about mysterious bad boys....

Nora is tempted by two new boys at her school. Patch, is a dark, brooding boy who plays pool and is very mysterious. Elliott moves into town with his friend Jules and the two of them seem to be the perfect match for Nora and her best friend, Vee. But Nora's birthmark on her wrist means that she isn't a normal human. She is an ancestor of a fallen angel. And, oh, that means things are messed up. Nora is forced to be in the middle of a battle between fallen angels and some who haven't fallen yet, but will. Choices are made and minds are controlled. Through it all, Nora must trust her instincts about who to trust. And who to love.

Fallen by Lauren Kate

Luce Price is dreading her transfer to a boarding school for troubled kids. She doesn't quite fit in, but since she's always suffered from "seeing" things, she's on medication and just not quite right. At the decrepit school, she meets new friends and has to decide which group of students she's going to belong to. Cam is cute, friendly, and treats her right. But Daniel is mysterious, always looking at her, and keeps her distance. And, come on, people, this is a teenage girl. She has to go for Daniel, right?

The book is a little too long for me and needs some tighter editing. I can only handle so much "Woe is me" before I get bored. I don't want to give away the ending, but there is a reason why Luce is drawn to Daniel. She can't stay away. She's fallen.

Friday, June 18, 2010

DN Angel by Yukiru Sugisaki

This is volume 1 of a manga series and I understand why it's a hit. Daisuke is an 8th grader who gets a surprise when he turns 14. He discovers that his mom and grandpa have been training him to take over the family business (art theft!). Whenever he comes into contact with the girl he loves, he changes into a studly man named Dark who steals art. But then he changes back to Daisuke. So the bulk of the novel is about the first few thefts and Daisuke trying to learn how to control his change.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

I love John Green. I think I've stated that pretty clearing in previous posts on Blogger and Twitter. And my private facebook page where I once had a status that said, "I'm breathing the same air as John Green!" I have all his books autographed (Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns) and I've kinda nicely stalked him at conferences to catch a glimpse of him and his yeti.

So I was thrilled to hear that he was co-writing a novel with David Levithan of Boy Meets Boy and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist fame. Livithan is the king of gay YA lit and I knew the two of them could kick out an awesome YA novel. And I wasn't disappointed.

One Will Grayson lives in Evanston and the other Will Grayson lives in Naperville. The two meet unexpectedly and their lives intertwine in a good way. One Will is poorly dealing with his openly gay friend Tiny Cooper and a possibly gay girl Jane who is awfully cute. The other Will is dealing with depression, being a closeted gay, and only loving an online friend named Isaac. The two meet in Chicago at a porn store (heehee) and both grow up in a good way throughout the novel. I love reading books where homosexuality is treated honestly, and things aren't sugarcoated here. No, censors, there's no gay sex, but there are plenty of jokes, witty comments and John even uses the word snarky. At least I think it was John's word choice! :)

Can't wait to get this book autographed next week in DC!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley

You know a book is going to be good when the main character dies in the first chapter from choking on a gummy bear! So I thought this light hearted satirical novel about fitting in as a teenager was pretty entertaining. Things wrapped up a little too nicely at the end, but at least Charlotte learned that there is more to life then the track star stud at her school.

The format makes the book--cool pink on each page, a clear transparent cover and skinny pages.

World War Z: an Oral History of the Zombie War

I've been complaining about bad zombie novels lately, but this one sucked me in because of its format. I'm a sucker for oral histories, even, evidently, if they are about the zombie apocalypse. The author has a way of making the zombie event pretty darn possible. The interviews take place all over the world and explain how governments messed up and what solutions to the zombie problem didn't work. My favorites were the everyday housewives who stood up, took over, killed zombies, and created new safe worlds for their families. And the military men and women who did whatever it took to survive, even when the government didn't care. So this isn't your typical novel, which is probably why I liked it!

The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove

Wow. You do NOT want to mess with Natalie Hargrove! She's obsessed with winning Palmetto Princess at her school and she doesn't really care who gets in her way. She's conniving, uncaring, and manipulates her friends, boyfriend, and underlings like crazy. Her boyfriend has to become Palmetto Prince and when his stiffest competition is intoxicated, she decides to play a practical joke. But, of course, things go wrong. Natalie and her boyfriend cover everything up, lie like crazy, but things still don't work out the way they should. This quick read is like a spooky Lifetime movie where everyone gets what they deserve!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Zombie Blondes by Brian James

Hannah Sanders moves to a new town with her loser dad, and she tries hard to fit in. And, I'm sorry, but I'm sick of reading books about female characters with low self-esteem who want nothing more than to be a member of the cool, bitchy it crowd. Can you tell I feel strongly about this crap? I mean, really, where are the strong kick-ass characters in the zombie/werewolves/fairy novels? Must the girls make stupid decisions because they are tempted by the cute evil boy?

Hannah, in her stupidity, doesn't notice that most of the people in her town are zombies until they practically drain her blood in the locker room as they are dyeing her hair blonde. Ugh.

Borrrrring. It's like watching a horror movie and wondering why the dumb pretty one runs to the bathroom to escape the bad guy. Stuppppiddd.

Fade Away by Harlan Coben, Read by Jonathan Marosz

I didn't blog about it, but I know I liked Coben's Tell No One, which was on the Illinois Abe Lincoln Book Award list a few years ago. I picked up this audiobook at the Casey Public Library and wasn't disappointed. In fact, I was reminded of Dick Francis and his great horse jockey character Sid Halley. Coben's created Myron Bolitar, a basketball has been who is now a sports agent. He's called back to star on a pro basketball team to find out what's happened to a missing teammate. Even though Myron hasn't played "real" ball in years because of his bum knee, he's able to infiltrate the team as the new scrub. Myron has a long history with the missing teammate (like, um, sleeping with his fiancée years ago) and the mystery delves deeper into gambling, the mob, and even a wild conspiracy group from the 1970s. Coben writes an awesome mystery! Love his snarkiness.

Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr

I remember I wasn't a huge fan of Wicked Lovely, so I'm not sure why I attempted this sequel. I love the dark world of fairies, but Marr's version seems too full of superficial characters and not enough depth for me. I get the whole dark romance thing with tattoos, and I like how the tattoo bounds the wearer to the dark side. But the relationship between the dark and light fairies just never seemed believable to me. Cassandra Clare does it better. Or at least more in my style.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Clover by Clamp

I'm not going to do this book justice, so if you're a manga fan, just laugh at me for being ignorant. First of all, I had to figure out how to read the dang thing from right to left. I mean, really, I knew that, but in comic strip format, what about top to bottom? Things weren't making sense! I mean, yes, the pictures were pretty, and lots were in color. And there was a fairy thing who was a four leaf clover which meant that she had tons of magical powers. And a Black Ops agent was was supposed to protect her and take her somewhere, even though she was more powerful than him. And the two were connected somehow through this famous female singer who had loved the agent. Ugh. See? I can't even give you a plot. I'm just not a manga person.

Project 17 by Laurie Faria Stolarz

I've had this book in the library for years and never picked up, but now I feel like I'll be able to recommend it to kids wanting to read a mystery. Basically it's Blair Witch Project story. Each chapter is labeled with a kid's name and we hear their story as they visit a local closed mental hospital. Derik, the film's director, is looking to win a contest so he doesn't have to work in his parents' diner. He collects a ragtag team of teenagers to help him film a reality visit to the hospital grounds. It's scary, of course, and love is in the air. There are plenty of laughs, groans, romance, and freaky moments for the reader. It's clear that the six teens are there to help a former resident of the Home, whether they admit it or not.

Dead Connection by Charlie Price

Great cover, eh? Murray is a teenage kid who hangs out at the local graveyard. Why? Because he can talk to the dead. And, honestly, the dead are a lot cooler than some of the alive people in his town. The graveyard caretaker doesn't mind Murray hanging around, but the caretaker's daughter, Pearl, thinks he's trouble. Or maybe cute. But, for whatever reason, she tries to make his life a living hell, and then feels bad and makes it up to him. The two teenagers solve a local murder mystery, due to Murray's psychic ability and Pearl's tenacity.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

I was a big fan of Ryan's first book, The Forest of Hands of Teeth, so I've been on hold for this companion novel since the beginning of May.

Gabry's mother is Mary from the first book, but it takes awhile for us to figure out what has happened in the time past since the first book. Gabry isn't strong like her mother and has no desire to venture into the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Or to cross the ocean that is also full of the Mudo, or the Unconsecrated. Or you can call them zombies. But one night a cute boy tempts Gabry to cross the fence with friends and a Mudo causes all sorts of trouble. Gabry is forced to leave her comfortable village and rely on clues from her mother to get to somewhere in the forest. With the help of Catcher, her first kiss, and Elias, a stranger who saves her life multiple times, the young people bravely head into the unknown.

Overall, I liked the first book better, but I think that's because I liked Mary better than Gabry. Gabry is a bit whiny and her self-doubt gets old for the reader. But, heck, yeah, I'll be waiting for her next book. I want to know what happened to Gabry, Elias, Mary and Catcher!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Moonlight: a Dark Guardian Novel by Rachel Hawthorne

I zipped through this werewolf novel last night and was actually quite impressed! It's a cute, fluffy read, but pretty well done. I'm not a fan of the girl on the cover though.

Kayla's parents were shot by hunters when she was little and her shrink believes that she should face her fears. So she returns to the forest with her adoptive parents and ends up loving it. The next summer she becomes a sherpa--a forest guide. Everything feels just right except for the feeling that someone is watching her. And, of course, Lucas, the head sherpa is hot and lovely, but so is Mason, the professor's son. Kayla and other sherpas lead Mason's group into the forest for the study of wolves, but all sorts of things go wrong. The plot only covers about two weeks of Kayla's life, but it moves along very quickly. It's easy to see why this is a successful series. Book #4 was published in March 2010.