Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

In typical Harlequin Teen fashion, steampunk and romance combine to create a kick-butt female protagonist and a few swaggering heartthrobs. Surprisingly “clean,” there’s an assault and a few kisses, but nothing that screams trashy romance. The action is constant, and Finley is learning about her powers. Since hitting puberty, she’s gotten superpowers, but isn’t sure why. She finds out her secret past when she runs into a young gorgeous Duke. He, of course, has his own powers, and the two of them combine to solve the mystery of their parents and save the Queen of England, of course. Despite the steamy cover, the action isn't sexual at all--mild flirting and cheesy conversation. No one picks up a Harlequin Teen book for serious literature, and this book fit my need for something fluffy after the ALA conference.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Touching Snow by M. Sindy Felin

Wow...I understand why this book was a finalist for the National Book Award. It’s jarring, true, and grabs at you. The Kliatt reviewer was right on the nose with comparing this to The Color Purple. Abuse is nasty, and Felin manages to portray the abused and victims in a light that isn’t done very often. Karina’s family is Haitian and suffering from the abuse of The Daddy. He’s cruel and their mother doesn’t stick up for them. In fact, she’s willing to allow him to come back home (again) if he promises to never hit the girls again. Yeah, right, mama, but, hey, he pays the bills, right? There is a lesbian story thread, too, but really it’s a story about abuse.

H.I.V.E The Overlord Protocol by Mark Walden

Even though this is #2 in the H.I.V.E. series, you don’t need to read the first book to know what’s going on. Otto is still a student at the Higher Institute of Villainous Education, and he’s invited to attend a funeral of his best friend’s father. But Otto and his friend Wang are surprised by ninjas when they arrive in Tokyo. Yes, ninjas. Cypher, a villain more evil than most, is trying to take over the world, and the two boys must rely on their training to save the world.

I can’t help but think of this book as the foil of Harry Potter. The kids are training to be evil! Yet somehow manage to be good. Or maybe just better than some of their more evil peers. I mean, really, even evil people should follow the rules, right?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Bully by Paul Langan

Little Darrell moves from Philadelphia to California and has to deal with a new high school without his lifelong friends. Darrell is short and skinny and the local bullies latch onto him on his first day. He doesn't know how to fight them--so he gives them $ every week and suffers. Eventually he makes friends, and really finds a home with the wrestling team and reading the book Hatchet. Really, I think the book had lots of cheesy parts. Read Payback instead.

To Timbuktu; Words by Casey Scieszka and Art by Steven Weinberg

Awwww, this book is so sweet! Casey and Steven begin dating overseas during college. When they graduate, they decide to travel together across the world--nine countries in all. Casey is a writer and teacher, while Steven is an artist (and can teach, too). The two of them create their story together. It's entertaining because the reader learns so much about China, France, Morocco, Mali, Vietnam, Laos, etc. And, really? It makes me want to not really see any of the countries besides China. I'm not too into roughing it. :)

Lessons from a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles

I hate when I read a book and then realized halfway through that I've read it! But for some reason I didn't review it--maybe I was on vacation?
Anyway, Laine is a sad, lonely little girl when Leah, the most popular girl in school, befriends her. Leah loves the attention, even if she has to suffer through the "special" attention she gets from Leah in the upstairs closet. The two grow apart when they get older--Leah gets wild and crazy while Laine becomes reserved. She doesn't think she's gay, yet Leah keeps reminding her of what they did. Leah won't drop it, and Laine eventually confronts her about it--why did it happen?

The words "gay" or "lesbian" or "bisexual" are never mentioned in the book, although the reader knows what's going on. It's an interesting take on why the abused often become the abuser.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Death Mountain by Sherry Shahan

With a better cover and title, this book could sell a lot more, I bet. Really, it's the only realistic adventure novel I've read lately with female protagonists. And that's a great thing! Girls like to read Paulsen and Hobbs, too!

Erin is on her way to her mom's, but doesn't want to go. She's lived with her grandma for the past year (her dad is a famous photographer who travels the world) because her mom took off with no explanation. But now mom wants a visit from her teenage daughter. And so Erin isn't too upset when her bus ticket is stolen. She might as well hitch back, but finds herself going hiking with two new friends. Erin's backcountry skills come in handy when a freak thunderstorm separates the group and Erin and Mae must try to survive and find their way back to civilization. The descriptions of survival are awesome--the reader learns tons of valuable information about the Sierra Nevada mountains. I was a bit annoyed with the ending--wouldn't the girls rush to the nearest campfire to announce that they are found? But the School Library Journal reviewer was spot on--give this to fans of Paulsen and Hobbs.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Here Lies Bridget by Paige Harrison

Harlequin Teen is pretty good at finding books that will sell to teens in bookstores. The cover on this chick book is wonderful, isn't it? I mean, look at the little daisies! :)

Bridget is a bitch--no getting around it. But her life starts to fall apart when she realizes that she's alienated herself and no one wants to be around her anymore. Then there is a car crash and she dies....kinda. She's in limbo and has another chance to go back and make things right. I know, I know, this story has been done before, but it still makes for a decent, quick, fluffy read.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Destroy All Cars by Blake Nelson

I really like Blake Nelson--he's like America's YA version of Nick Hornby. I was a fan of Rock Star, Superstar and enjoyed Prom Anonymous and Paranoid Park.

James is a teen on a mission--we're killing the environment and he'll rant and rave until everyone starts to hear him. He's not goth, but he's depressed. He wants all cars destroyed and can't bear to have his dad buy him one. He's in love with his ex-girlfriend. Maybe. Or maybe he loves every girl who shows interest in him? James is a rebel. Sometimes. But he also cuts out the elbows in his shirts because it makes his shirt look worn out. lol. Oh, and he doesn't wash his hair much.

All in all, James is a slacker activist. And who doesn't want to read about a rebel with a cause?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Burn by Suzanne Phillips

Whoa. This YA book tackles bullying like Gail Giles. Hard-hitting and nail-biting, the action careens out of control for Cameron Grady. He's bullied at high school after a coach mistakes him for a girl at the first athletic meeting of the year. From then on, lead football jock and his buddies torment the heck out of Cameron. Fire holds some solace for Cameron, but eventually his anger takes over and he does something terrible. Horrible. I couldn't stop reading. I know several PCHS high school boys who would eat this book up--and they are mainly the ones who spend a lot of time in in-school suspension. Books like this are for them--it shows abuse, anger management, crime, stupid adults, and caring adults. Just enough of a mixture to show that there is help out there, even for boys like Cameron. Or them.

Burned by Ellen Hopkins

Pattyn is Mormon and not happy with her life. Her dad is a drunk and her mom just keeps popping out babies that Pattyn has to take care of. When a non-Mormon boy starts showing her attention, Pattyn jumps at the chance to receive any type of positive attention. But this isn't allowed. When discovered, she is sent to the Nevada wilds to live with her outcast aunt. And Pattyn blossoms. She meets a college boy. She questions whether she wants to be Mormon. And she plans on how to get away from her dad and his family.

But when Pattyn returns home, she is the one who is abused by her dad and shunned by her church. Pattyn is the one who discovers she is pregnant. And she may not be able to deal with it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

In the Company of Others by Jan Karon, Read by Erik Singer

I know I blog a lot about YA books, but when I was a young adult, I read the heck out of Christian fiction. My mom is the librarian for my hometown Christian Church, and I used to help her catalog books with the old cards and pockets. I read everything Janette Oak wrote, as well as tons of other historical Christian series. So when I saw the newest audiobook by Jan Karon at my local public library, I had to see what Father Tim was up to. The cover was unbelievably pretty, too. I'm also a sucker for audiobooks with Irish accents, so I knew I would be in for a treat!

Father Tim and his wife Cynthia are on a vacation to Ireland, returning to a guest lodge where he was a guest in his single years. But their vacation takes a turn when Cynthia injures her ankle, requiring rest, and when they get sucked into the lives of their innkeepers. As always, Karon tells the tale of family in crisis and Father Tim (and God) are able to help. This type of Christian fiction is the best--not preachy, but very inspirational.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

This author's Jellicoe Road won the Printz and I was a little confused by it. So I wasn't excited about starting her fantasy read. But I was impressed and am anxious to see if it will be popular in my high school library. Really, I think it's an adult fantasy because of the complexity of the writing, but my circ stats will show if I'm right.

Marchetta's world-building skills are awesome--her creation of lands, rulers and traditions is top-notch. The reader really loves Finnikin and his love interest Evanjalin, and the character interest is what kept me reading instead of the plot. Their love affair is pretty darn romantic and frustrating! All in all, a good fantasy book to give to fantasy fans....I don't think they will be disappointed.

Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson, Read by Tim Cain

I wasn't thrilled with the first book in this series, Chains, but I thought I would give the sequel a chance because so many librarians like it. Mehh....I don't.

I love historical fiction, but I just couldn't get into this tale of Curzon. He's a former slave who has enlisted into the American army during the Revolution, at least until his old master reclaims him. The book shows the injustice of slavery pretty clearly, and the hardship of soldiers and citizens during the American Revolution. The history facts were what I liked--but I just had a difficult time believing the voice of Curzon.