September 17, 2014 by

Shiver #04: Sinner CoverSinner

By Maggie Stiefvater

Cole St. Clair has come to California for one reason: to get Isabel Culpeper back.  She fled from his damaged, drained life, and damaged and drained it even more.  He doesn’t just want her he needs her.

Isabel is trying to build herself a life in Los Angeles.  It’s not really working. She can play the game as well as all the other fakes…but what’s the point?  What is there to win?

Cole and Isabel share a past that never seemed to have a future.  They have the power to save each other and the power to tear each other apart.  The only thing for certain is that they cannot let go.

(From the book cover flap)

Why I picked it up:

I am an avid Maggie Stiefvater fan especially her Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy so I was delighted when she published this companion book following the lives and romance of Cole St. Clair and Isabel Culpepper.

Why I finished it:

I must admit I was disappointed. Cole and Isabel are so damaged and self-destructive and realistically drawn (thanks to Maggie’s incredible writing talent) that I really hated them.  Maybe they were too realistic!  If you’re looking for the original heart and soul of the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy you will be disappointed.  This book is heavy on angst and light on paranormal romance.  The only thing that kept me reading was the fact that Maggie Stiefvater was the author!  I just wasn’t crazy about these particular characters from the story.  Give me Grace and Sam!  I was content to end the wolves’ story there.

 I’d give it to:

  • Anyone who liked the characters of Cole and Isabel in the original trilogy and wanted to know the rest of their story.
  • Anyone who loves Maggie Stiefvater no matter what she writes!

I’d give it:   3  stars


Reviewed by: Connie (Parr Library)

College Success Guaranteed

September 16, 2014 by

Title: College Success Guaranteed – 5 Rules to Make It Happen

Author: Malcolm Gauld

As a lifelong teacher, Malcom Gauld has watched thousands of kids go off to college. Some return to visit after their first year exuding the vibe of conquering heroes. Others look, well, pretty bummed out. In this book, Gould offers a plan to help the new college student complete year number 1 as a member of the first group. With anecdotes from current college success. It is a short, non-preachy, fun, and slightly irreverent primer that can help you get off to a strong start toward the “best four years of your life.”

Why I picked it up: As the mother of one college graduate and another child currently in college, I was interested to see what practical tips the author had to offer. I was not disappointed.

Why I finished it: I found the advice in this book to be practical and easy to follow. I enjoyed the comments by actual college students who Mr. Guald interviewed for the book. Very insightful.

I’d give it to: Any teen about to start college.

Star Rating:   Four stars

Reviewer: Renee (Parr library)




September 15, 2014 by

shelter  Shelter by Harlan Coben

 Shelter is the title of the first book in the Mickey Bolitar series written by Harlan Coben for young adults. In Shelter we meet      Mickey Bolitar, the fifteen-year old protagonist whose life has been turned upside down …  his father has recently died in a car  crash,  his bereaved mother is in rehab, and Mickey is not only living with his Uncle Myron of whon he is not particulalry fond but is also attending school in the United States for the first time in his life.

Rather quickly Mickey manages to acquire a girlfriend at his new high school and, almost as quickly, she disappears. Mickey, along with his 2 sidekicks attempt to solve this mystery.  It does not hurt that Mickey is skilled in the martial arts and is quite talented on the basketball court.  Other elements that intensify the mystery include an elderly woman referred to as ‘the bat lady’ who lives nearby and tells Mickey that his father is not dead.  Let me not fail to mention the pictures of holocaust victims hanging on the walls of her decrepit house.

Mickey and his friends, Ema and Spoon do succeed in solving the mystery of the missing girlfriend but the appeal of this book is that it has so many layers.  This book, the first in the series,  leads to so many other hidden mysteries and unanswered questions surrounding Mickey and his family that you cannot wait for the next book to be published.

WARNING:   If you are up to a plot that is understatedly convoluted and a too-often, larger-than-life, perfect protaganist, then this is a series you will want to read.

At this time Shelter is followed by 2 other  titles in the series, entitled Seconds Away and Found.


100 Sideways Miles

September 12, 2014 by

20493997[1]100 Sideways Miles

by Andrew Smith

Finn Easton has grown up in the shadow of his heterochromatic eyes, his epilepsy, and the emoticon scar on his back. But even more than that, he’s grown up in the shadow of his father’s super popular science fiction novel, starring a character named Finn with heterochromatic eyes, epilepsy, and an emoticon scar on his back. Finn wonders if he’ll ever get out of his father’s book and be able to make his own choices and live his own life, and with the help of his best friend Cade Hernandez, his first love Julia Bishop, a road trip, a storm, and a case of mistaken identity, he just might!

From the author of Winger and Grasshopper Jungle, 100 Sideways Miles is poignant and hilarious, and Andrew Smith fans won’t be disappointed.

Full disclosure: I might have already read this book twice in the last ten days. Watch out—you just might be compelled to do the same!

Happy reading!

Reviewed by: Lara (Haggard Library)

The Isobel Journal

September 11, 2014 by

isobel journal The Isobel Journal by Isobel Harrop

Isobel’s story isn’t told in a fluid series of events. Instead, a hodgepodge of sketches, collage, and short musings offer a snapshot of who she is. The reader gets a sense of Isobel’s likes, dislikes, friendships, family, love, and heartbreak. Some of my favorite quips are:

“I like to play ‘Pretend I am Beyonce’.” [turn page] “But I wouldn’t mind being her sister, Solange, either.”

“Sometimes I shouldn’t be allowed to dress myself.”

“My spirit animal is any fat hairy baby animal”

“Sometimes people look like owls and you have to capture that.”

I heard about this book a while back and put it on hold. At the time, the book was still on order through the library, so I waited impatiently for it to come in. Finally, I got that email telling me the book was waiting on the hold shelf. I poured over the pages and drank in the illustrations. I laughed at Isobel’s humor and was inspired by her perspective.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in graphic memoirs, Tavi Gevinson’s Style Rookie blog and Rookie mag, illustrations, and basically anybody with a creative mind.

Love and Other Foreign Words

September 9, 2014 by

Love and Other Foreign Words

By Erin McCahan

Summary:  Josie lives her life in translation. She speaks High School, Friends, Boyfriends, Break-ups, and even the language of Beautiful Girls. But none of these is her native tongue – only her best friend Stu and her sister Kate speak native “Josie”. So when Kate gets engaged to an insufferable guy, Josie is determined to break them up. As battles are waged over secrets and semantics, Josie is forced to examine all translations of the word “love”, her feelings for the boy who says he loves her, the sister she loves but doesn’t always like, and the best friend who hasn’t said a word.

Why I picked it up:  I was hooked from the first line of the synopsis – I can so relate.  Growing up as an introvert fascinated by language, I survived teenager-hood by living “in translation” – observe, define, then imitate to fit in.

Why I finished it:  I can’t play this cool – I loved this book. For so, so many reasons.

Josie is an amazing rare character – one who actually seems as super-smart as the author describes.  As Josie is “gifted”, this leads to discussions on what “gifted” means in real life, which is so rewarding for readers also labeled as “gifted” – expect a lot of “OMG, that is SO true” moments.

The author also walks the fine line of a subtler flavor of romance – take note, other authors! – while grappling with Josie’s attempts at a more mature understanding of the idea of “love”.  The result is both refreshing and relatable.

The book was often just SO FUNNY, yet so relatable – your life, but with better one-liners:

“’I’m going to run to get coffee,’ he says. ‘You want anything?’

‘World peace, a goat, and a chocolate chip scone.’

‘I’ll see what I can do.’

… he places a tissue-paper-wrapped scone on my desk. ‘They were out of goats,’ he says.

‘What about world peace?’

‘The woman ahead of me got the last box.’

‘Was she wearing a sash?’

‘She WAS wearing a sash.  Was that significant?’

‘It was Miss America.  Did you get her autograph?’”

Humor, relatable issues and characters, well-written narrative – I could keep gushing, but this is getting embarrassing.  Read Love and Other Foreign Words; in Josie’s words, it’s “Pperfect”.

I’d give it to: fans of Rainbow Rowell; “gifted” teens – actually, ALL teens; homo sapiens.

I’d give it: 5 stars (no really, it’s that good)




Reviewed by Alyssa (Davis Public Library)

Burn for Burn

September 8, 2014 by

Burn for Burn

Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian

Revenge is best served by three burned girls in a small, quaint, island town.

Kat, Lillia and Mary are three very different girls but have similar goals in mind. Together they form a trio to bring down Alex (for cheating), Rennie (for being a generally awful person) and Reeve (see reason for Rennie). As the plotting and scheming begins will the next step they take be too far?

I gave this book 3 stars, however I am still contemplating giving it 4 stars. I liked how attached I got but the authors started to take it in another direction that was a bit strange for me. You’ll have to read to see why.

And speaking of a cliffhanger, I have begun the second book Fire with Fire and totally plan on reading on to the third book Ashes to Ashes (which is coming out soon). I will recommend this to anyone who wants a great beach read, realistic fiction, revenge-ness and a bit magical.

Reviewed by: Maggie (Parr Library)

Isla and the Happily Ever After

September 4, 2014 by

islaIsla and the Happily Ever After

By: Stephanie Perkins

Isla has had a crush on Josh since freshman year at the School of America in Paris. They both live in New York City and the summer before their senior year, Isla sees Josh in a restaurant. She has just has mouth surgery and loopy from pain medications. Thus, her shyness regarding her crush deteriorates. He decides to make sure she can get home safely and she does not remember what she said or did. This, of course, leads to embarrassment and she is nervous about confronting Josh when school begins back in Paris. Isla is surprised to learn that Josh has feelings for her, too. However, things become more complicated when Isla’s best friend since childhood, Kurt, takes much of her attention. The fact that Josh is a politician’s son does not make circumstances any easier. Will they stay together?

Why I picked it up: I had been eagerly awaiting this title because I enjoyed the author’s first two books: Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door

Why I finished it: Full disclosure: books that have romantic plots do not usually interest me. Stephanie Perkins has a way of making characters experience both awkward and real situations. Sure, there are the squirm-worthy and swoon-worthy moments that seem only perfect for fiction. However, there is an appropriate level of realism when the word “love” is thrown around. In this story, getting to the end is a fun journey.

I’d give it to: Fans of the author’s previous books and those who like a good romantic plot with Paris as a setting.

I’d give it: 

3 Stars




Reviewed by: Diana (Harrington Library)

The Giver

September 3, 2014 by

The Giver

Lois Lowry

How would you like to live in a perfect world, where everyone looks the same, follow the exact same rules and laws and are governed by a single authoritative person called the Chief Elder? Sounds good, right? But what if with all the “sameness” there are no colors, no memories of the past and no emotions. This was the exact description of the world Jonas, the 12-year-old protagonist that has an ability to “see beyond” lived in. Soon through an electoral process to assign jobs and internships to the upcoming adult generation, Jonas finds his world changing and begins exploring the mysteries of the not-so-perfect community. Can Jonas do anything to help save his community by bringing back those memories that makes us humans unique? Find out more in the best-selling novel trilogy by acclaimed author Lois Lowry.

Nipun (Teen Reviewer)

New Minecraft Mod Teaches Code While You Play

September 2, 2014 by

Do you like to play Minecraft? Do you have an interest or an introductory knowledge of coding and want to learn more? If you answered yes to either of those questions mark October 2014 on your calendar, the launch of LearntoMod to the general public!

Like many kids, Stanley Strum spends a lot of time building things in Minecraft, the immersive game that lets your create your own mini-universe. The game has many tools. But Stanley is one of many players taking the game a step further by building entirely new features into the game. And, more than that, he’s also learning how to code.

He’s doing this with a tweak to the Minecraft game, called LearnToMod. Modifications like this, called “mods,” are a big part of the game’s runaway success. But this particular mod helps kids learn to create their own mods. For example, Strum built a teleporter that whisks him to a random location within the game world. Another lesson teaches kids to write the code to create a special bow that shoots arrows that become “portals” between different locations in the game, allowing them to reach spaces that would otherwise be quite difficult to access. It’s like being able to create your own cheat codes.

Strum is one of 150 students who are now tinkering with LearnToMod, an educational add-on teaches you the basics of programming while creating tricks and tools that you can use within the Minecraft. The mod will be available to the general public in October, and its creators hope it will help turn Minecraft into a kind of gateway drug for computer programming.

“Kids are already spending ridiculous amounts of hours on Minecraft,” says Stephen Foster, the co-founder of ThoughtSTEM, the company that’s built the LearnToMod module. “So we thought this would be a good way to help them learn skills.”

Interested in learning more about LearntoMod? Click on the link here to read the original article by Klint Finley for WIRED magazine.