Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Cosmic was Dr. Peggy Sharp's top ten books to read for 2010. Dr. Peggy Sharp conducts yearly workshops on What's new in children's literature?

Cosmic is about a twelve year old boy who looks like he's thirty years old because of his height and facial hair. Twelve year old Liam takes full advantage of his mistaken age. Sometimes it fun when on the first day of school the principal mistakes Liam for a teacher. Or when he convices a car dealer to let him test drive a Porsche. Luckily for Liam he has great parents that watch over very carefully. Except when Liam cons his way into being the adult chaperone on the first space ship to take civilians into space. It is all fun and games, until the ship is stuck 230,000 miles from home. Liam learns being mistaken for an adult is not good.

I enjoyed reading this book. There is a lot of factual information about space, flight, astronaunts, math, etc. For those who enjoy science and adventure, this would be a good choice.

Posted by Lisa

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dramarama by E. Lockhart

Sarah Paulson is stuck in a small Ohio town dreaming of making it big on Broadway. When she meets Demi at an audition for summer theater camp her life is changed forever, as is her name when Demi rechristens her Sadye.
Demi and Sadye become inseparable and count the days until they can leave Ohio for camp. Wildewood is a revelation to them both, but especially to Demi as he can be openly gay and completely himself with theater people. He's also extremely talented and lands parts in two big shows. Not Sadye. She is cast in small, insignificant (to her) parts and has fights with Demi about their dwindling friendship. As the summer wears on, Sadye learns much about her talents, her weaknesses and how to make the most of what you have.
Dramarama is smart, funny and immensely readable. Even if you don't care for musical theater or know much about it, E. Lockhart makes you care. This book would be perfect for teens who enjoy Glee or who are interested in reading something different from the paranormal love triangles or dystopian stories currently dominating YA lit. I think E. Lockhart is a brilliant writer who really knows how to portray realistic teen characters. I will be reading more of her books.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

In rural Ohio, friendships and a beautiful girl prove distracting to a fifteen-year-old who has hidden on Earth for ten years waiting to develop the Legacies, or powers, he will need to rejoin the other six surviving Garde members and fight the Mogadorians who destroyed their planet, Lorien.

A easy read, hard to put down action pack novel. I was surprised how much romance was involved. It was a young adult book, so I am not too shocked. I am number four reminded me of the Twilight series. Instead of an average girl falling in love with a vampire, we switch to an alien boy falling in love with a beautiful girl. I guess teenage girls love boys with extraordinary powers. This book should appeal to teenage girls and boys. Who are you dating?

A Nest For Celeste by Henry Cole

Celeste, a mouse longing for a real home, becomes a source of inspiration to teenaged Joseph, assistant to the artist and naturalist John James Audubon, at a New Orleans, Louisiana, plantation in 1821.

Henry Cole's book has a mix of adventure, history, surprise, enemies, death, and sweetness. One of the surprises is how Audubon would kill the birds in order to paint them. Audubon wanted to capture the birds in certain poses to show life. But Audubon would kill them and pose them up with pins. Celeste starting talking with the birds and get them to pose certain ways in order to save their lives.

Celeste has many challenges to save herself. I would recommend this book to 4th and 5th graders. I enjoyed it, but not loved it. I would give three out of five stars. This book would be for the animal lovers.

Posted by Lisa

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Heist Society by Ally Carter

Heist Society is one heck of a book. I wanted to read it because it is so popular with teen girls, but I wasn't very excited about the prospect. However, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Ally Carter is a great, entertaining writer and Heist Society is a fast-paced, wonderful ride.
Kat Bishop comes from a notorious family of thieves, art thieves to be exact. When the book opens she is a resident at a posh boarding school, having left the family business to attempt life as a normal teen. When her friend Hale purposely gets her kicked out of school she rejoins her family and finds herself right back in the thick of the action.
An art collection has been stolen from a very wealthy, very scary Italian and he wants it back. Mr. Taccone believes Kat's father has stolen the pieces and if she doesn't recover them her father will pay. What should she do?
Teeming with lively teen characters and interesting adult ones, Heist Society is a clever page-turner that will appeal to girls thirteen and older. Carter has created a new series that will attract teens who enjoy adventure, romance and humor.
The second book in the series, Uncommon Criminals, hits the shelves in June.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fancy Nancy fans will love Jane O’Connor’s newest title, Fancy Nancy Aspiring Artist! Full of the same bright, colorful illustrations from Robin Preiss Glasser, Nancy is enjoying spring break and taps into her creative side with paints and markers while exploring the masterpieces of world-renown artists such Matisse and Degas to name a few. Full of O’Connor’s rhyming text and excellent vocabulary, Nancy introduces the reader to different art types on each day of the week with Sunday being the final “art exhibit” day for the neighborhood. An excellent title to include into masterpiece art programs for elementary or preschool age children.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Swordhand is Singing by Marcus Sedgwick

My Swordhand is Singing uses the origins of the vampire legend in Eastern Europe to create a chilling and dark story of the supernatural. Peter and his father Tomas have finally settled in as woodcutters in a small village in the forest after wandering for years. Their business is flourishing and they are beginning to be accepted by the villagers. After several mysterious deaths and the arrival of gypsies in the village, Peter realizes that strange secrets surround his family, several held by his own father. When he bravely violates village rules to help a friend, he encounters the horror among them and joins forces with a fiery gypsy girl to save the village.
This is the third Sedgwick novel I've read and they've all been excellent. He writes the father/son relationship especially well and his depiction of the supernatural is terrifyingly believable.
I really enjoyed reading about the original vampire legends and how much they differ from the vampire myth of today.
Sedgwick is a master of atmosphere, describing the setting so well that I could feel the cold, the chill, the darkness of a winter in the forest.
His books are perfect for boys or girls who like setting and the supernatural over fast-paced, plot-driven novels.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lips Touch by Laini Taylor

Nominated for a National Book Award in 2009, Lips Touch is the first young adult novel written by Laini Taylor. It is composed of three stories that take the reader into a world of goblins, demons, hell, curses and kisses. Sound incongruous? It all makes sense when you realize that kisses can be dangerous.
The first story in the book,Goblin Fruit, is the strongest and my favorite, maybe. Kizzy is a high school student who longs to be beautiful, alluring and attractive to men. But she's not. This makes her the perfect victim for goblins who prey on girls just like her. When a new boy starts school and is immediately attentive to her she responds, though she's been warned by her grandmother to be alert to beautiful men and situations that seem too-good-to-be-true. As relations quicken between Kizzy and Jack she ignores the signs her grandmother is sending, until one final moment of decision. This story is highly sensual and evokes the feelings and atmosphere of Goblin Market, the famous Christina Rossetti poem, perfectly, yet with a modern sensibility.
The second story, Spicy Little Curses Such as These, is set during the British Raj and centers on a curse. At birth Anamique is cursed with the most beautiful voice ever heard, but one that would kill any human who happens to hear it. She lives her life in silent motion, begged by the servants to never utter a sound. At 17 she falls in love with a damaged war veteran and struggles with her desire to tell him of her love. Will the curse be violated or will she remain without a voice? This story didn't capture my interest as much as the other two, but I think it is mainly because I don't really care for the time period or subject matter. It has nothing to do with Taylor's writing.
The third story is longer than the other two and maddeningly fascinating. Hatchling relates the tale of Esme, a sheltered fourteen-year-old whose life changes dramatically when she wakes up one morning with one blue eye and one brown eye. From this she discovers her mother's shocking history as a "milk sacrifice" to a frightening race of soulless vampire/werewolf like creatures. Hatchling felt Eastern European, black forest, wolfish and dark. I loved it. I think this may be my favorite story.
The illustrations by Taylor's gifted husband, Jim di Bartolo, help create the right atmosphere for her writing.

Taylor is a magnificent and imaginative writer. Her prose is lush without being flowery and gorgeous to read. I am truly in love with her. Her next YA novel will be released in October. I have baited breath.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

Brief Summary: Considered by many to be mentally retarded, a brilliant, impatient fifth-grader with cerebral palsy discovers a technological device that will allow her to speak for the first time.

I thought this was a powerful book. I really enjoyed the entire book. I think 5th graders might not initially be interested in the book when you describe it to them. Once they get started, they should be hooked. I think kids would relate to the main character Melody in a different way. It tells what her life is like at school with cerebral palsy. She notices things about people that others would not. The ending is not what you would expect.

Posted by Lisa

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Katniss is Cast

Reports are abounding today that Jennifer Lawrence has been cast as Katniss in the Hunger Games film. She starred in Winter's Bone. Has anyone seen it? Any thoughts on her playing Katniss? She doesn't look like how I envisioned Katniss, but all opinions are that she is a great actress and will do the part justice.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Exposed by Kimberly Marcus

Exposed is a novel in verse that recounts the experience of Liz after her brother is accused of raping her best friend, Kate.
Liz and Kate have been friends since elementary school, "forever-bests", who spend one Saturday a month sleeping over at each other's houses and spending time alone without their boyfriends. This particular Saturday they get into a nasty argument as Liz insults Kate's boyfriend for being a wet blanket and Kate takes offense. Liz tears off to sleep in her room leaving Kate on the couch.
The next morning, Kate is gone.
When Kate won't speak to her or let her apologize, Liz assumes that she is still upset over their argument. But as days turn into weeks she realizes that something more is troubling Kate and she demands to know what. When she finds out that Kate has accused her brother, Mike, of rape she wishes she had never asked.
Marcus does an excellent job at creating the conflicting emotions that Liz experiences as she tries to decide who to believe. Her passion for photography is interwoven through the story, giving us a look at the world through Liz's eyes as she photographs her surroundings.
Though I usually cringe at the thought of reading verse novels, the few that I've read I have really enjoyed. There is something so to the point, yet elusive in their form that works very well in relating dramatic and forceful stories.
This is a convincing novel that does not have a neat solution. For readers who like a firm ending, Exposed won't do. It creates more questions than it answers.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thursday Three: The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Define "Normal" and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian

Last weekend while home sick with stomach nastiness I read three YA novels I've been wanting to read for ages. Here are my brief thoughts about them:

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Quite controversial and banned in many schools across the country, this novel IS very racy and deals with lots of issues parents might not feel comfortable having their young teens read about: sex, drugs, drinking, masturbation, abortion, mental illness and sexual abuse. Written by fifteen-year-old Charlie in the form of letters to an unknown recipient, it chronicles his life during his freshman year of high school. He has a very unique voice and his mistakes and successes are equally fascinating. This is a good novel that has a strong narrative and the challenges Charlie faces are believable. It should not be suggested to a teen if you're not sure of their background or family persuasion.

Define "Normal" by Julie Anne Peters
This novel is a perfect middle school read that centers on two girls, middle schoolers themselves, who are paired together for peer counseling. Jazz is a "punk" who dresses in black and changes her hair colors frequently. She hates her mother and is struggling to break out of her parents stranglehold. Antonia is a "priss". She gets good grades, follows the rules and has a horrible home life. Her mother is mentally ill and stays in bed all day while Antonia is expected to care for her two younger brothers, run the household and do her homework. This book says a lot about stereotypes, judging others by their appearance and letting others help when you are ashamed to ask them for it. A very sweet story with a happy ending.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
While dealing with many of the same issues as Wallflower, along with racism, alcoholism and poverty, this novel adds humor and pictures to give extra spice and vigor to the issue novel. Junior is a Native American who lives on a reservation and decides he wants to attend the "white" school in town instead of his reservation high school. This choice brings him more heartache and joy than he could have anticipated. His misadventures are grin-inducing, but I found this book lacking for some reason. It didn't feel cohesive or as seamlessly written as Wallflower and I thought Junior was a punk most of the time. Maybe I just don't enjoy teen male humor?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Twelve-year-old Abilene Tucker is the daughter of a drifter who, in the summer of 1936, sends her to stay with an old friend in Manifest, Kansas, where he grew up, and where she hopes to find out some things about his past.

I thought this book was well written. It was a historical fiction with a bit of a mystery twist. I am not sure how much the kids will connect with it. If kids are doing a historical book report I would highly recommend it. It was an enjoyable read for me. It had some interesting facts and there was no slow points. A fast read. Thumbs up.

posted by Lisa

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Lauren Oliver’s first novel, Before I Fall, was one of my favorite books last year. Dynamic and beautifully plotted, it’s a masterpiece of YA literature. When I heard that Oliver had a new book in the works I mentally noted it and was later pleasantly surprised to find Delirium offered as an ARC on NetGalley.

Oliver possesses that most desirable of qualities for a writer – the ability to engage a reader to the point of obsession. The minute you open the book (or load it onto your screen in this case) she throws magic reading dust in your face and you are instantly sucked into her story. On reflection, you realize her plots are not all that unique, nor are her characters, but her writing is wonderful and she turns her familiar stories into ones you’ve never heard before.

Especially with Delirium. This is another dystopian-with-a-romance novel, the combination that has become money in the YA lit publishing world. In this instance, Lena, our heroine, lives in a society that has banished love. Love is an infection, a disease that is despised and feared. At the age of 18 every citizen undergoes an operation, a procedure, that cures the disease. They’re also told who they will marry and what job they will perform in society. It’s the summer before Lena’s 18th birthday and a few months before she’s to undergo the procedure and she just happens to … fall in love. With Alex, a mysterious young man who has ties with “resistors”, those who are trying to overthrow the government. Gentle Lena has always obeyed, though she isn’t without questions and Alex’s influence propels her to question even more, even speculate about living a different life, a life in the “Wilds”, an unregulated area inhabited by the “Invalid” population. The story reaches its climax a few days before Lena’s procedure – will she choose duty or love?

Oliver has written a brilliant novel with complex plotting and with twists and turns that will leave you breathless. The only problem I have with the novel is Lena, the main character. I think she suffers a bit from the “Bella Syndrome” – an uninteresting, plain girl who is desired by an exciting, charismatic man. What does Alex see in her? Lena does change during the novel, however, and by the end I liked her.

This is the first in a planned trilogy and I will read the others. I really like Lauren Oliver and am very pleased she writes for teens. They deserve someone this smart and talented writing books for them.

I kindly received this ARC from HarperTeen through NetGalley. It will be released on February 1, 2011.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sapphique by Catherine Fisher

Sapphique, the sequel to Catherine Fisher’s brilliant YA fantasy, Incarceron, captured my imagination from the first chapter. From there it led me on an enchanting, enthralling and breathtaking journey, which is hard to write about without revealing spoilers or even plot lines that are best discovered by the reader.

I will tell you this- if you like fantasy, read these books. If you don’t like fantasy, read these books. They are the perfect fantasy novels for non-fantasy readers (me) because the world Fisher creates is entirely accessible and magical and peopled with strong, complicated characters.

Oh, the characters! The haughty, yet vulnerable Claudia; arrogant and resilient Keiro; gentle and intelligent Jared; conflicted and tormented Finn; and my favorite, the overlooked yet vital Attia.

I can’t say enough about these two novels. And though I would love to read more about the characters I’m glad it won’t be a trilogy. It ended on a perfect note.

Hollywood has noticed these books and Incarceron will be made into a movie starring Taylor Lautner as Finn. I’m a bit scared about this turning into another Twilight cheese-fest, but I don’t have to watch the movie, do I?