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Monday, June 29, 2009

Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs

Title: Oh. My. Gods.
Author: Tera Lynn Childs
ISBN: 9780525479420
Publisher: Dutton Children's Books

"If Phoebe Castro can keep her grades up and have another stellar cross-country season, her dream of attending USC with her best friends is only a track scholarship away. She's made all her plans, so it's a complete shock when her mom announces she's marrying a mysterious stranger and moving them halfway around the world - to Greece.

Phoebe's stuck on a secret island in the Aegean, attending the super-exclusive Academy, where her new stepfather is the headmaster and the kids are anything but your average students - they are descendants of the Greek gods, superpowers included. That's right, Greek gods are no myth! If Phoeve thought high school was hard, she knows this is going to be mortal misery.

Securing that scholarship seems like Phoebe's only ticket out of Greece, but training and maintaining her grades will be grueling, even without a sabotaging stepsister from Hades and a gorgeous guy - what a god! - who might be her Achilles' heel. One thing is for sure - summoning the will to win and finding her place among the gods could be Phoebe's toughest course yet."

This was such a fun book! When I saw it was a spoof on Greek mythology, I wasn't really sure what to think. But it was really done wonderfully. The story is very funny and clever - it pulled me right in from page one.

It's definitely a girly story, but it's such an interesting concept that almost anyone could get into it. There is, of course, the typical high school drama... but with a twist. I really loved studying mythology in school and this brought all of those stories back.

I'd recommend this book to almost anyone - but especially girls... from middle school, up. IT's definitely one to try. I'm excited to see that the second book came out recently. I'll definitely be looking for that title soon :).

Other blog reviews:

Friday, June 26, 2009

Push by Sapphire

Title: Push
Author: Sapphire
Publisher: Random House, Inc

"Precious Jones, an illiterate sixteen-year-old, has up until now been invisible: Invisible to the father who rapes her and the mother who batters her and to the authorities who dismiss her as just one more of Harlem's casualties. But when Precious, pregnant with a second child by her father, meets a determined and highly radical teacher, we follow her on a journey of education and enlightenment as Precious learns not only how to write about her life, but how to make it her own for the first time."

This book was a lot more intense than I thought it was going to be. I had heard that it was a depressing story, but I figured I could handle it... because I'm just that kinda YA Librarian :). And handling it wasn't the problem - it was more the sinking in of the story. Once you realized what was going on, it's almost so far away from my reality that it was almost fantasy. I do understand that it's not, but it was hard for me to digest.

I must say that this book is absolutely only for the most mature teens and older. I do get that most teens these days live this book as reality (especially in the area I work), but it's a much heavier book than most can deal with.

Other blog reviews:
Apooo Bookclub
The Black Urban Times
Global Grind
The Beautiful Struggle

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Title: Leviathan
Author: Scott Westerfeld
ISBN: 9781416971733
Publisher: Simon Pulse

"Leviathan begins in 1914, with Europe on the brink of war. Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife have just been assassinated, and political intrigue and panic have engulfed the region.

This sounds familiar, but the fault lines in this conflict are not exactly as you remember them from history class.

In this world, the powers align themselves in two opposing philosophies: Either you're a CLANKER, who puts faith in machinery, in intricately tuned gears and cranks that operate logically and according to man-made design, or you're a DARWINIST, who takes Charles Darwin's revolutionary findings a step further and begins evolving living creatures into tools to advance society.

So the question is, do you oil your war machines, or do you feed them?"

I was a little worried about how complicated this story seemed. When you read the summary and all, it kinda feels like you're going to be learning a whole new language to get through this book. But those worries flew out the window once I got through the first few chapters.

I've always enjoyed Westerfeld's books - and this one was no exception. You may not fully understand everything that's being said, but a little ways in you'll notice that it doesn't matter completely. The story carries you along and the language gets stuck in your head - kinda the way the language of Uglies does.

This book doesn't come out until October of this year (another reason I love my job... ARCs!!!), but I totally recommend you look for it when it does. And it is another start to a series - so I'm really excited for when the next one comes around (whenever that may be!). I'm pretty sure guys are going to love this one - because it's really technical and science-heavy. Of course, not just for guys, but it's got that edge to it :).

I also loved the illustrations throughout the book - it just added to the experience, and honestly helped me get an idea of what things looked like. I have a good imagination, but it's kinda stretched a little thin on this one. But it's a great book! Go read it!

Other blog reviews:
Reading Rants
An interview with Scott Westerfeld at My Favorite Author
And Westerfeld's own Blog

I didn't find many reviews out yet - I think the ARCs are just making their way out there. But I'm sure there will be more soon! It's just that good of a book :).

Saturday, June 20, 2009

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

Title: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Author: Ken Kesey
ISBN: 9780141181226
Publisher: Penguin Classics

"Boisterous, ribald, and ultimately shattering, Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is the seminal novel of the 1960s that has left an indelible mark on the literature of our time.

Here is the unforgettable story of a mental ward and its inhabitants, especially the tyrannical Big Nurse Ratched and Randle Patrick McMurphy, the brawling, fun-loving new inmate who resolves to oppose her. We see the struggle through the eyes of Chief Bromden, the seemingly mute half-Indian patient who witnesses and understands McMurphy's heroic attempt to do battle with the awesome powers that keep them all imprisoned."

I was a little bummed that this book took me a week to read... but that seems to be the way it is when it comes to classics for me. Alas. I enjoyed this book a bit more than I expected. I've been told about it for years, but I finally got around to reading it.

The point of view and the subject makes for quite an interesting story. I was pretty well intrigued by what was going to happen. There was a little bit of the "edge-of-your-seat" stuff, but nothing too suspenseful. I did wonder through most of the story about whether any of the inmates in the asylum were actually in need of psychiatric help.

But the road to recovery for the men on the ward is very complex and wonderful. I'd definitely recommend it for anyone who would like to get into reading more classics. This one is a great story and keeps you interested.

I was only able to find a few other blog reviews that weren't movie related. I haven't seen the movie, but apparently it's the big thing when you talk about this story. Here are those few reviews...

Other blog reviews:
Educating Petunia
Audrey's Blog

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong

Title: The Awakening (Darkest Powers Series #2) Author: Kelley Armstrong
ISBN: 9780061662768

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers


"If you had met me a few weeks ago, you probably would have described me as an average teenage girl - someone normal. Now my life has changed forever and I'm as far away from normal as it gets. A living science experiment - not only can I see ghosts, but I was genetically altered by a sinister organization called the Edison Group. What does that mean? For starters, I'm a teenage necromancer whose powers are out of control; I raise the dead without even trying. Trust me, that is not a power you want to have. Ever.

Now I'm running for my life with three of my supernatural friends - a charming sorcerer, a cynical werewolf, and a disgruntled witch - and we have to find someone who can help us before the Edison Group finds us first. Or die trying."

This book was just as good as I was hoping it would be! I loved the first book - The Summoning - and would recommend it to pretty much anyone. It's a great fantasy/realistic fiction book that easily toes the line.

The story almost immediately picked up from the first book and kept the whirlwind going throughout. You definitely get a lot more information about other characters in this story and it's a very interesting look at who's on what side.

In short... I'd recommend this series to almost anyone - but I already said that. I guess that's all I've got! Perhaps I should write my reviews as son as I finish the book. But I really did love it!

Other blog reviews:
Book Chic Club
Graeme's Fantasy Book Review
Karin's Book Nook
Darque Reviews
The Story Siren

Friday, June 12, 2009

Hotlanta by Denene Millner and Mitzi Miller

Title: Hotlanta
Author: Denene Millner and Mitzi Miller
ISBN: 9780545003087
Publisher: Point, Scholastic Inc.

"Designer clothes. Gorgeous boys. Family secrets. Major drama. They don't call it Hotlanta for nothing!

The Duke twins, Sydney and Lauren, live the life: They attend the fanciest school in Atlanta, they live in the most exclusive neighborhood, and they only date the hottest guys. And their secrets are the darkest around.

When their estranged father is released from prison and a murder is committed, their lives are plunged into a whirlwind of tabloid scrutiny, vicious gossip, and shocking revelation. Lauren, always a party girl, and Sydney, bent on Ivy League perfection, can't trust anyone. Not their mother, not their rich stepfather. Maybe not even each other."

As urban fiction goes, this book wasn't very urban :). Well yes, it's set in a city (making it urban), but the story isn't as gritty as the genre implies. That doesn't really take any of the enjoyment out of the reading - but if you're looking for hardcore urban lit, this isn't going to be it. But if you're looking for African American chick lit, you've found it!

I really enjoyed reading this book. It was a bit disconnected because it's written from the two sister's perspectives - every other chapter. You almost forget who "she said" is. That and the fact that it leaves you on a complete non-ending are my only complaints about the book. It's definitely filling a void in literature (the young adult af am chick lit void), and doing it well.

The story pulls you right along - and, of course, you find yourself siding with one sister or the other. But it's a quick and fun read that I'd recommend for the middle YA reader. It's got a bit more topic/language stuff than I would give to a middle schooler... but not enough for a upper level high school student. So, it sits pretty well in the middle.

Other blog reviews:
The H.Y.P.E Teen Blog
Powell's Books
Readers Rooms (it's about the third entry down)
And an interview with the authors from Publishers Weekly

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Newes from the Dead by Mary Hooper

Title: Newes from the Dead
Author: Mary Hooper
ISBN: 9781596433557
Publisher: Roaring Brook Books

"Anne Green can't move a muscle, can't open her eyes, can't scream. She lies paralyzed in absolute darkness, terrified by her final memory - being hanged. Is she in purgatory? Hell? Was she buried alive? An innocent woman caught up in a nightmare, Anne Green is trapped with her racing thoughts, her burning need to revisit the events - and the man - that led her to the scaffold.

Meanwhile, a shy young medical student attends his first dissection and notices something strange as the doctors prepare their tools... Did her eyelids just flutter? Could this corpse be alive?

Haunting, thrilling, and impossible to put down, Newes from the Dead is based on the true story of the real Anne Green, a servant who survived a hanging in 1650 England only to awaken on the dissection table. Newes from the Dead concludes with an excerpt from an original 1651 document that recounts this chilling medical phenomenon."

This story is truly creepy - at least the idea of it is. Of course, it's worse because it's a true story! Can you imagine being hanged for a crime you didn't commit in the first place - only to wake up later and realize you didn't die after all?!? Just the idea of it gives me chills.

Well, this is historical fiction - which is not my typical genre. But the story is so captivating, that you really can't put it down. It is told from two perspectives: Anne, herself and one of the attending medical students. I was a little worried that there wouldn't be much dialog - I mean, it's told from a girl's perspective who can't talk, can't see, can't move, etc. That's a recipe for a boring book - but Hooper managed it perfectly. Also, the other commentary from the student seemed like it might be mostly internal too - because he had a stammer and couldn't speak easily - but there's tons of action and dialog and intrigue.

I'd recommend this to anyone looking for historical fiction - especially if you need it for a class or something. It's an easy read and the story is very interesting.

Other Blog Reviews:
About Books
The Ya Ya Yas
Write Away
And an Author Interview

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle

Title: Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks
Author: Lauren Myracle
ISBN: 9780525477433
Publisher: Dutton Books

"Wealth, privilege, and way too many pastel-tinted opinions... that's Carly's life. And guess what? It's. Getting. On. Her. Nerves.

Carly wants to be real, and she's always counted on her little sister, Anna, to love her and support her - and tell her how right she is. But when Anna turns "hot" over the course of a single summer, everything goes weird. Suddenly Anna's swimming in the deep end with the big girls - the plastic-perfect-pretty girls - while Carly watches, hurt, from the kiddie pool. And of course there are boys involved, complicating things as boys always do."

I've read a few other things by Myracle, and have loved it all. She just has this way of writing that is so light and fun and easy to read. This book was no exception.

This book has "great summer read" written all over it. It's absolutely cheesy, but that's what makes it so fun. A lot of the story is about the sister dynamic. And I'm not gonna lie... it makes me wish I had a sister - even though some if it is a bit rocky. Brothers just don't supply that kinda fun bond. Alas.

I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun, light, summer read. Especially if they're already into chick lit. I'm pretty sure the other reviews agree with me.

Other blog reviews:
Pop Culture Junkie
Frenetic Reader
Reading Keeps You Sane
Y.A. New York
Harmony Book Reviews
(and many more out there)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Title: Catching Fire
Author: Suzanne Collins
ISBN: 9780439023498
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: September 1, 2009


Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and lontime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol - a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fuele an unreast she's afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she's not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can't proe, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying."

I was absolutely elated to get my hands on a copy of an advanced reader copy of this book! Thank goodness for BEA. :)

The story is just as amazing as Hunger Games - in a bit of a different way, but it keeps exactly the same feeling as the first book. I promise I'm trying not to give too much away, but I honestly wasn't expecting where this book was going. There are twists and turns that I couldn't have imagined!

I would be lying if I said I didn't actually make noises while I was reading (*shock!* *gasp!* *eek!!* etc). So, those of you who are going to have to wait for this one, it's totally worth it. At least you're not like me - and have to wait tons longer than you for the next book. Read it as soon as it comes out! I promise you won't regret it. :)

Other early blog reviews:
Educating Alice
The Reading Zone
Word for Teens
Kids Lit

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Shortie Like Mine by Ni-Ni Simone

Title: Shortie Like Mine
Author: Ni-Ni Simone
ISBN: 9780758228390
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corp

"What happens when the girl everyone least expects gets the guy all the chicks want...?

Sixteen-year-old Seven McKnight is fierce, fly, and fabulous. With a cute face and a tight waist, she can rock Apple Bottom jeans and stilettos like nobody's business, but she's got her share of issues. It's not easy being the thickest one in her clique or hiding that her rebellious twin sister Toi is playing wifey to the neighborhood thug. And Seven is definitely not happy that she's feelin' the school's hottest baller, Josiah, especially since he's dating her high maintenance girlfriend, Deeyah. But when Deeyah decides to play Josiah and his worst enemy against each other, she'll have everyone facing off in the worst way. The question is can Seven try and get things right or does she end up trying to save herself from major heartbreak?"
As you've probably read, I'm still really new to the "urban fiction" genre. So anything I say about it, please take with a grain of rice. This book was a lot of fun! I really cared for the characters soon after I started reading. I felt like I could easily identify with Seven - even though I don't live the same type of life she does.
I do worry that the love story is a bit unrealistic - I mean, how many girls actually get the guy that's completely unreachable? But perhaps that's what makes the story so fun - it's a little Cinderella like that (not that she changes in any way).
Also, this book is really good on the whole language issue - so it's great for even middle school readers. It does have some issue driven topics, but it's no more than any urban teen knows about or deals with every day. So I'd really recommend this to any teen who wants urban fiction - even if it is a little bit unrealistic :).
I searched for other blog reviews, but there really wasn't much out there! So, here is the other review I found:

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