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Friday, July 31, 2009

Shooter by Walter Dean Myers

Title: Shooter
Author: Walter Dean Myers
ISBN: 9780064472906
Publisher: Harper Collins

"Cameron: "Deep inside, you know that whoever gets up in your face gets there because he knows you're nothing, and he knows that you know it too."

Carla: "What I'm trying to do is to get by—not even get over, just get by."

Leonard: "I have bought a gaw-juss weapon. It lies beneath my bed like a secret lover, quiet, powerful, waiting to work my magic."

Statement of Fact: 17-year-old white male found dead in the aftermath of a shooting incident at Madison High School in Harrison County.

Conclusion: Death by self-inflicted wound."

I've heard about this author for years - mostly because he's asked for all the time. So I decided to give his book a shot and was not disappointed. The story is about three high school seniors who find themselves involved in something much more than any of them expected.

One of the most obvious things about this book is the way it's written - all done in interview format. You never get the normal look into the speakers thoughts or feelings except for what they say in the interviews. This makes the book a very fast read, but you do feel as though you know the characters.

Now, thinking back on the story, I realize that the actual action in the book is only like one days worth. Beyond that it's looking back to see where things went wrong, who these people are, etc. But it's a pretty cool story and makes you think a bit about consequences and actions.

I'll absolutely continue to recommend this book to any teen - I've been recommending Myers for years because of his popularity. But now I get to talk about him with more knowledge. I'm definitely a fan.
Other Blog Reviews:
Reading Now
399 Hard Line

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Boot Camp by Todd Strasser

Title: Boot Camp
Author: Todd Strasser
ISBN: 9781416908487
Publisher: Simon and Schuster

"In the middle of the night Garrett is taken from his home to Harmony Lake, a boot camp for troubled teens.

Maybe some kids deserve to be sent there, but Garrett knows he doesn't. Subjected to brutal physical and psychological abuse, he tries to fight back, but the battle is futile. He won't be allowed to leave until he's admitted his "mistakes" an conformed to Harmony Lake's standards of behavior. And there's no way to fake it. Beaten, humiliated, and stripped of his pride, Garrett's spirit is slowly ebbing away. Then he hears whispers of an escape plot. It's incredibly risky - if he's caught, the consequences will be unthinkable - but it may be his only way out."

This book was an insane and crazy story about a boy who is thrown into boot camp. It's raw, intense, and sometimes a bit scary. But it's a great read and keeps you interested throughout the whole story. It was a little obvious where it was going to go (or where I hoped it would go), but it was a crazy ride getting there.

The story is a great book for the "reluctant reader" - it's an easy story to get into and a hard one to put down. It's also a look into a place that's not often seen. I mean, at least a realistic look into what life in a boot camp might actually be like. I know it's probably a little exaggerated for the story, but it's still really interesting.

I'd absolutely recommend this book to teens of any age. It's a crazy topic, but it's done well and anyone can relate to it. I've heard good things about this author before... and I'll be looking for others of his books in the future.

Other blog reviews:
OMS Book Blog
Teen Troves
Karin Librarian
Simply Books
The Happy Nappy Bookseller

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Carbon Diaries 2015

Title: The Carbon Diaries 2015
Author: Saci Lloyd

ISBN: 9780823421909
Publisher: Holiday House


"The enviro's gone completely mad.

After the Great Storm hit London, everyone was like, It's 2015 already. Stop global warming now. So the gov volunteered Britain to be the stupid guinea pig freak and ration carbon while the rest of Europe flew to Ibiza on holiday.

At first it was weird - blackouts, looting, fuel shortages. But I still had my lifeline - my band, the dirty angels. And the hope is that Ravi would notice me. Eventually.

But then everything got bare twisted. All winter the country was a frozen tundra. Then after months of no rain, Europe literally caught fire, and the mayor had riot police shoot protesters with live bullets! I'll give him a carbon footprint - right in the arse.

Now, as I write this, the highest-category storm in history is headed straight for us. People have died all around me this year, and I'm dead scared. I just wish things would go back to normal, but I don't know what that means anymore."

This book is a very interesting mix of science fiction story and global warming commentary. Throughout the whole book, you get the feeling that any of these things are possible. It's actually a little scary when you think about it - the idea of having to ration carbon. But also very interesting at the same time.

I loved that hte book was written in a diary format - especially how it seemed to have pictures and printouts taped in it. It just made the flow of the book very smooth and logical. And it gave you a sense of time frame for all of these disasters and things going on. It makes you wonder how much could happen in a year.

I'd absolutely recommend this book to literally anyone. It does have a few British-isms that you have to decode, but there's a glossary in the back if you're still confused. But this book is good for both guys and girls... and of almost any age. I was just impressed at how much more I liked it than I thought I would.

Other blog reviews:
Librarian by Day
Reading Rants!
Rhiannon Hart
Vulpes Libris

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Title: Slaughterhouse Five
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
ISBN: 9780440180296
Publisher: Dell Books

"Slaughterhouse-Five is one of the world's greatest anti-war books. Centering on the infamous firebombing of Dresden, Billy Pilgrim's odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we are afraid to know."

I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this story. In the first couple of chapters, I was a little confused about where it was going and how it was going to get there. But once I got the rhythm of the book, it flew for me.

I did get a little confused every once in a while with all of the time traveling - about who was who and where they were and where he was... it just got a little much for me at times. But it was a very interesting commentary and kept me involved at the same time. You honestly had no idea where you were going to leap to next.

I do know that there have been lots of questions about this book in the past - and even some challenges on it. But I really think it has something interesting to say and a very unique way of saying it. I haven't done any research on the challenges or the reasons for them (something about sexual content, I believe), but I'd still put this book in people's hands.
I'd definitely recommend this book to students looking for a classic to read. It's pretty interesting, but because it does have some of the sexual "content," I'd say it might be best for the older reader. The ones who can handle that sort of thing :).

Other blog reviews:

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Beauty Shop for Rent... fully equipped, inquire within by Laura Bowers

Title: Beauty Shop for Rent... fully equipped, inquire within
Author: Laura Bowers
ISBN: 9780152057640
Publisher: Harcourt, Inc

"Hypothetical question of the week: If you were forced to have an extra body part implanted on your back, which would you choose? A finger, ear, breast, or noise?

Abbey Garner is used to killing time by reading questions from the snarky tabloids in Granny Po's struggling beauty shop. It's not like there are a lot of customers to help, anyway. Mostly just the feisty Gray Widows, who are there to primp, polish, perm... and, of course, gossip.

Abbey is there to work - to get a head start on the million dollars she intends to earn by the time she's thirty-five. She doesn't have much time for boyfriends, parties, or hanging out with friends. But with the arrival of a trendy young woman who rents the beauty parlor and turns it into a modern-day spa, at least Abbey has a chance to make some real money.

Then all this fades into the background when Abbey's mother, who abandoned her on Granny Po's doorstep four years ago, suddenly shows up with a wild scheme of her own."

This is a great story that is very cute, but fairly serious issues mentioned a the same time. I do have to say that it's not so based in reality just because it's very rosy and everyone does and says the things they're supposed to. Not so much how it works in the real world.

But the story is a lot of fun and I feel like I know these characters in real life - especially the older ladies. I read this book so fast and was very into it the entire time. I was a little worried about how it was going to turn out - but I was pretty satisfied when I finished.

I'd definitely recommend this to plenty of our teens - especially girls. I think they can definitely identify with the story and if not, the characters.

Other blog reviews:
Becky's Book Review
Shelf Elf
The Book Muncher
And the author's own website

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Smile by Donna Jo Napoli

Title: The Smile
Author: Donna Jo Napoli
ISBN: 9780525479994
Publisher: Dutton Children's Books

"Hers is the most famous portrait in the world. Who was she? Who was the person behind the smile?

She is called Lisa, short for Elisabetta. When Elisabetta is fifteen, she will be betrothed to one of the nobles of Florence. Hopefully he will not be too old, or too mean, or too ugly. She longs for romance, to marry for love, but she knows that this is not the fate for most girls like her.

Even though she does not think she is beautiful, Elisabetta catches the eye of her father's famous friend, the great Leonardo da Vinci, who insists he will one day paint her portrait. It is Leonardo who introduces Monna Elisabetta to Giuliano de' Medici. He is the heir to the most powerful and wealthy family in Florence. He is young and fair and swears his love to the girl he calls Monna Lisa. But Florence is changing, and as Elisabetta soon finds out, it is a dangerous time to love a Medici. Again, her fate is not within her control."

I was actually a bit surprised by this book - it went in a totally different direction than I thought it was going to. There was more emphasis on her life before being painted and her time with da Vinci than it did. Once I got into the story, I did enjoy it. It just didn't go the way I thought it was going to.

After reading the book, I've decided that's not a complaint. It was very interesting to think about what the woman was like up until the time of her portrait being done. I don't know how realistic the view of her life is, but it's very interesting. I also enjoyed a bit of the social commentary throughout the book - mostly because this is a part of history I'm not overly familiar with.

As historical fiction, I definitely enjoyed it. I've read a couple other things by this author and have always loved them. I'd absolutely recommend any of her books to any age teen. They're all great historical books - especially if ya need one to read for school.

Other blog reviews:
The Slant Reviews
Sarah Miller: Reading, Writing, Musing...
Mouth Shut Reviews

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Peeled by Joan Bauer

Title: Peeled
Author: Joan Bauer
ISBN: 9780399234750
Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons

"Something's rotten in apple country!

Hildy Biddle is a high school reporter eager to stand up for the truth. She's just waiting for a chance to prove herself as a journalist, and yearning for a big story. The trouble is, the town's biggest story stars... a ghost. Not a very easy interview!

This ghost has the town in a tizzy, and the local paper is playing up people's fears with shocking headlines of eerie happenings and ghostly sightings. Hildy's determined to discover what's really going on, but her desire to uncover the truth is making some people awfully nervous.

Does the truth have a chance ot being heard over all the buzz?"

What a wonderful story! I've heard good things about this author in the past, and I'll definitely say good things about her in the future. I'm definitely glad I finally picked up one of her books. Perhaps now I'll backtrack and look at her older stuff!

The story is so cute! It's all apple related, which makes it super delicious. It's such a light, wonderful story that is funny, clever, and smart. I absolutely recommend this book to anyone looking for a good realistic story - especially girls.

I'd recommend this book in an instant for girls of any age - literally. Especially if they have an interest in being a journalist. The story is a great look at the realism around a high school journalist. But it's a fun story and anyone can appreciate that.

Other blog reviews:
Reviewer X
Bookshelves of Doom
Never Jam Today

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Umbrella Academy: Dallas

Title: The Umbrella Academy: Dallas
Author: Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba
ISBN: 9781595823458
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

"The team is despondent following the near apocalypse created by one of their own and the death of their beloved mentor Pogo. So it's a great time for another catastrophic event to rouse the team into action. Trouble is - each member of the team is distracted by some very real problems of their own. The White Violin is bedridden due to an unfortunate blow to the head. Rumor has lost her voice - the source of her power. Spaceboy has eaten himself into a near-catatonic state, while Number Five dives into some shady dealings at the dog track and The Kraken starts looking at his littlest brother as the key to unraveling a mysterious series of massacres... all leading to a blood-drenched face-off with maniacal assassins, and a plot to kill JFK!

Through the first part of this story, I was honestly very confused. I felt like I'd missed a first part, but I'm not sure that I did. It does give a review of what's going on at the beginning, but parhaps I wasn't good enough to let it sink in :).

Because I had a little trouble keeping up with what the story was doing in the first few segments, this story probably was a bit more complicated to me than it is to other people. Though, once I figured it out the story was it was high fantasy, really.

I'd definitely recommend this graphic to anyone who loves comics and such - perhaps they'd do a better job understanding it than I would :). But I really did enjoy this story, so no time lost. Enjoy it!

Other blog Reviews:
Fictions: PROPAGANDA reviews
Weekly Comic Book Review
Every Day is Like Wednesday
Comics for Serious

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Title: Fahrenheit 451
Author: Ray Bradbury
ISBN: 0345410017
Publisher: Del Rey books

"The system was simple. Everyone understood it. Books were for burning, along with the houses in which they were hidden.

Guy Montag was a fireman whose job it was to start fires. And he enjoyed his job. He had been a fireman for ten years, and he had never questioned the pleasure of the midnight runs nor the joy of watching pages consumed by flames... never questioned anything until he met a seventeen-year-old girl who told him of a past when people were not afraid. Then Guy met a professor who told him of a future in which people could think. And Guy Montag suddenly realized what he had to do..."

I finally finished reading this book from cover to cover. I had tried to read it a few years ago and for some reason I wasn't getting into it - I probably wasn't in the right mindset for this kind of book.

As a Librarian, it's a bit frightening to think about a time when books are illegal and are all burned. That's just something that is so foreign and I hope never comes to pass. But the story of what people would be like in a world like this is very interesting.

Sometimes the commentary is a bit hard to follow - just because it's a bit flighty. Once you get into the cadence of it, it's not to bad. I've also not read too much about the social implications of the story (like essays and such), so I'm not sure what the opinions are out there. But I like the story as a science fiction book... but to actually analyze, it's (again) interesting.

I'd definitely recommend this to any of my teens who are looking for a good classic to read. It's a story that's keeps you involved and wondering what's going to happen next. This is good for all ages as well - but probably best for ninth grade and up - both girls and guys. A good read!

Other blog reviews:

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Jason & Kyra by Dana Davidson

Title: Jason and Kyra
Author: Dana Davidson
ISBN: 9780786836536
Publisher: Hyperion Paperbacks

"Jason Vincent is a basketball star and one of the most popular guys in school. Brainy Kyra Evans isn't. But she doesn't much care what people think. Under normal circumstances, Jason and Kyra would live in their separate worlds until graduation. Fate intervenes, however, when the unlikely duo is paired up for a class project. Kyra soon realizes that Jason is not the dumb jock she anticipated. And Jason finds himself telling Kyra things he can't even tell his best friend.

The two grow closer and begin to fall in love. But things are moving way too quickly, and Kyra doesn't know if she is ready to take the next step in their relationship. Being together means navigating challenges - but staying apart may be impossible."

This book is a wonderful romantic story with a bit of emotional baggage. The story is very much predictable, but that's one of the things that makes it a good read - you know where you're going to end up. I'm not sure how realistic it is - the whole outcast/popular relationship thing, but this book makes you want to believe in it. I really enjoyed reading this book and plan on passing it along.

I would recommend this to girls, mostly... and probably in the 9th grade and up range. There is definitely a lot of discussion about sex and the things that go along with it - but it's a safe story. The characters are very real about discussing those things, which helps the awkwardness of the topic.

Otherwise the story is very emotional and a bit heavy at times. And there were a few points where months passed in the blink of a page. That was one little thing that bothered me, but it makes sense why the time passed so quickly. And I must say that these are the most well-spoken teenagers in the country! :). So, I wonder if "realistic" is a good tag for this one. But it's a good, uplifting love story.

Other blog reviews:
Tiger Reviews
YA Reviews Wiki

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Neptune's Children by Bonnie Dobkin

Title: Neptune's Children
Author: Bonnie Dobkin
ISBN: 9780802797346
Publisher: Walker & Company

"A dream vacation at the Isles of Wonder theme park becomes a nightmare when biological terrorism causes the death of every adult on the Islands. Younger teens and children survive, only to face the resulting horror and the chaos of a world without authority. The figure of King Neptune, symbol of the Islands, unites them as they begin to build a society within the park, safe from the outside dangers.

Led by a group called the Core, made up mostly of former park workers' children, the survivors slowly organize their world. But when mysterious events bring danger, some of the Islanders begin to wonder if their home is as safe as they think and if their leaders can really be trusted. As suspicions grown and rivalries intensify, the stage is set for a war that will determine the future of everyone on the Islands."

I was a little worried about the premise of this story - and even through the first couple of chapters. It's just an intensely sad and upsetting for the first bit there... and I was worried it would continue throughout the whole book. Luckily, I was wrong!

The story takes a turn to the interesting social dynamics of leadership and followers and all. I don't know that the story is quite reality when it comes to what kids would actually do if left to their own devices... but one would hope, I suppose.

It is left to where there could be a second book - detailing what happens after this story. But I haven't seen anything about a next one... so I'm going to keep my eyes open for another book. I will probably recommend this to the older sci fi lovers... I'm not sure if the original issue would be appropriate for younger readers, but maybe.

Other blog reviews:
Karin's Book Nook
Becky's Book Reviews
Jen Robinson's Book Page
Bookworming in the 21st Century

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner

Title: The Red Necklace
Author: Sally Gardner
ISBN: 9780803731004
Publisher: Dial Books

"The winds of change are blowing through Paris in the winter of 1789, both for France and for our hero, a striking and mysterious Gypsy boy named Yann Margoza. He was born with a gift of knowing what people are thinking and an uncanny ability to throw his voice, and he has been using those skills while working for a rather foolish magician. That work will soon end, however, and on the night of the magician's final performance, Yann's life will truly begin. That's the night he meets shy Sido, an heiress with a cold-hearted father, a young girl who has only known loneliness until now. Though they have the shortest of conversations, an attachment is born that will influence both their paths.

And what paths those will be! While Revolution is afoot in France, Sido is being used as the pawn of a fearful villain who goes by the name Count Kalliovski. Some have instead called him the devil, and only Yann, for Sido's sake, will dare to oppose him."

In my opinion, this book was the perfect historical fiction novel. It has all of the interesting elements that make a great story - mystery, suspense, love, hope, etc. The characters are all so unique and interesting that you can't help but love them. You honestly start to care about what is going to happen to them all - well most of them... except for the evil characters :). The language of the book is so rich that it just pulls you in and keeps you intrigued. It's very well written!

One thing that does bother me about this book is the cover art. Yep, that's it! The cover art! See, the girl on the front cover is a Blonde aristocrat-type. I would have liked to see the actual girl character - who is dark-haired and meek. I dunno, that's just one of those things that bothered me a little. But if that's it, we're doing great!

The book doesn't really leave you on a cliffhanger, but it certainly leaves room for MUCH more story. I really hope there is a second book to keep the story going - just because there are so many conclusions to the story that are possible.

I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone looking for historical fiction. It's a great story that keeps the reader interested. There is a little complication with the names (mostly the non-first string characters), just because I tended to forget who was who. But it's an intense and interesting book that I plan on recommending to just about anyone.

Other blog reviews:
Wondrous Reads
Monster of Books
Em's Bookshelf
Bookshelves of Doom -- Where I learned there WILL be a sequel!! Woo hoo!!!

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