July 2, 2015
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda
By Becky Albertalli
“Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.” (from the publisher)
Why I picked it up: This book was recommended to me on Goodreads. I liked the cover and the description.
Why I finished it: I LOVED this book. Simon was such a sweet, geeky character, and the mystery of who “Blue” might be keeps you wanting more. Simon’s friends are also pretty amazing too.
I’d give it to: Fans of Openly Straight (Konigsberg), geeky characters, romance, and musical theatre.
Star Rating: Five stars
Reviewed by Ashley (Davis Library)
July 1, 2015
Title: Ender’s Game
Author/Artist: Orson Scott Card
Why I picked it up: This was on the reading list, and my parents had purchased it for my older sibling at the time. When he was done with it, I decided to read it. When I first saw the book, the summary on the back piqued my interest. The cover of the book, featuring a spaceship flying towards a distant planet, was also quite intriguing.
Why I finished it: Ender’s Game is a fast-paced novel about a boy named Andrew, also known as Ender. He is born into a society where genii are needed in order to combat the threat of an alien species named Buggers. These aliens have already attacked twice, known as the First and Second Invasion. His parents already had two children, but their children were not fit to go to Battle School, a place where kids learn strategy and train for the real war. Ender, their third child, is chosen to join their ranks. This is significant because in the futuristic world Card describes, two children is ordinarily the maximum for parents. However, the government allows them to have a third child, Ender. He faces many challenging problems and situations, some due to his especially young age when he initially joins Battle School. He meets and exceeds every expectation.
Who I would give it to: I’d give it to middle school students, readers who enjoy science fiction (and even those who don’t), as well as those looking for a good book that isn’t too long.
Star rating: 5 stars
Reviewer: Derex (Plano teen)
June 29, 2015
The Walls Around Us
by Nova Ren Suma
On the outside, there’s Violet, an eighteen-year-old dancer days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement.
On the inside, within the walls of the Aurora Hills juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom.
Tying their two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries…
What really happened on the night Orianna stepped between Violet and her tormentors? What really happened on two strange nights at Aurora Hills? Will Amber and Violet and Orianna ever get the justice they deserve—in this life or in another one?
Spooky, sad, and oddly beautiful, The Walls Around Us is a gorgeously written book about three girls and how their stories connect and converge, and about what will happen when the truth brings all three girls together again. This one definitely sucked me in and kept me up late, and the unexpected conclusion… So well done! If you enjoy this one, make sure to also give 17 & Gone a try!
Reviewed by: Lara (Haggard Library)
June 26, 2015
by Meaghan McIsaac
Imagine growing up abandoned by your parents and relying on each other to survive. This is the life of the Brothers of the Ikkuma Pit. These young boys have known no other world outside of the Ikkuma Pit. They struggle to survive and train their Little Brothers. Their Little Brothers are received at the top of the pit when they hear them whimpering or crying. Each Little Brother is given to one of the boys and they become their sole responsibility, teaching them how to survive in this environment. Once they reach the age of 16 years they have a celebration called the Leaving Day. It is their entry card into an unknown world where no one has returned. Their lives turn upside down when one of the Little Brothers, Cubby is kidnapped by a troll-like predator and Urgle, his Big Brother is determined to find him. Urgle and two of his Brothers embark on a quest to rescue him as they encounter adventure after adventure.
Why I picked it up: When I read the inside cover of, The Boys of Fire and Ash, I was definitely intrigued. I was not disappointed by this book at all. You just kept turning the pages not only to discover their next misadventure but the mystery surrounding Cubby.
I’d give it to: Anyone who enjoys Dystopian novels as well as an action-packed adventure.
I’d give it: 4 stars
June 24, 2015
The Game of Love and Death
By Martha Brockenbrough
Antony and Cleopatra. Helen of Troy and Paris. Romeo and Juliet. And now . . . Henry and Flora.
For centuries Love and Death have chosen their players. They have set the rules, rolled the dice, and kept close, ready to influence, angling for supremacy. And Death has always won. Always…. Could there ever be one time, one place, one pair whose love would truly tip the balance?
Meet Flora Saudade, an African-American girl who dreams of becoming the next Amelia Earhart by day and sings in the smoky jazz clubs of Seattle by night. Meet Henry Bishop, born a few blocks and a million worlds away, a white boy with his future assured — a wealthy adoptive family in the midst of the Great Depression, a college scholarship, and all the opportunities in the world seemingly available to him.
The players have been chosen. The dice have been rolled. But when human beings make moves of their own, what happens next is anyone’s guess.
(Summary from the book cover flap)
Why I picked it up:
I read a starred review of it in Booklist and thought that the plotline was intriguing.
Why I finished it:
I fell in love with Henry and Flora and wanted to see how they would fare against two such formidable forces as Love and Death. Love and Death were portrayed in human guises throughout the story, manipulating people and events and creating an element I haven’t experienced in a novel since The Book Thief.
I’d give it to:
Advanced teen readers (grades 9 and up) and adults who enjoy sophisticated storylines.
I’d give it:
Reviewed by: Connie (Parr Library)
June 22, 2015
5 to 1
By: Holly Bodger
It is the year 2054 in the walled city-state of Koyanagar, in India. Gender selection has made the ratio of 5 boys for every 1 girl; girls are considered valuable commodities. The women that created Koyanagar decided to make the process of marriage fair by forcing boys to go through a series of tests in order to win a wife. Sudasa, the main female character, does not want to be part of this process of marriage. It is revealed that the process may not be as fair as originally intended. Kiran, one of the boys submitted to the tests, purposely sabotages his prospects for a wife. He, too, struggles with the uncertainty of marriage in Koyanagar.
Somewhat reminiscent of the Hunger Games, this story is told from the two perspectives of Sudasa and Kiran, in verse and in prose.
Why I picked it up: I came across this book in professional literature and the premise seemed interesting.
Why I finished it: The story is somewhat dystopian and I enjoyed how traditional beliefs tied seamlessly into the futuristic setting. The tests were not as powerful or conflicting as those presented in other dystopian novels, such as Hunger Games. If anything, it seemed almost too gentle.
I’d give it to: Anyone who likes dystopian romances.
I’d give it:
Reviewed by: Diana (Harrington Library)
June 17, 2015
By Emmy Laybourne
“The luxurious celebrity cruise launching the trendy new diet sweetener Solu should be the vacation of a lifetime. But Laurel is starting to regret accepting her friend Viv’s invitation. She’s already completely embarrassed herself in front of celebrity host Tom Forelli-the hottest guy ever!-and she’s too sick to even try the sweetener. And that’s before Viv and all the other passengers start acting really strange.
Tom knows that he should be grateful for this job and the chance to shed his former-child-star image. His publicists have even set up a ‘romance’ with a sexy reality star. But as things on the ship start to get wild, he finds himself drawn to a different girl. And when the hosting gig turns into an expose on the shocking side effects of Solu, it’s Laurel that he’s determined to save.
Emmy Laybourne, author of the Monument 14 trilogy, takes readers on a dream vacation in Sweet that goes first comically, then tragically, then horrifyingly, wrong! ” (from the publisher)
Why I picked it up: Another librarian was in the process of reading it and recommended it to me. She is a big fan of the Monuments 14 trilogy (also by Laybourne), and after hearing her tell me about, I wanted to read it.
Why I finished it: I had to see how it ended. It finished in a COMPLETELY different direction than it began. The book started out funny as Laurel and her friend Viv board the ship, meet celebrities, and get used to their new posh surroundings. The book then begins to deal with issues of body image and addiction. Finally, it turns into a full-on horror story. This book gave me nightmares the night I finished reading it (and that does not usually happen). It was CREEPY! Make sure you have a strong stomach before you read this one.
I’d give it to: Fans of Monument 14 and horror stories.
Reviewed by Ashley (Davis Library)
June 15, 2015
Title: Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke
Author: Anne Blankman
When the first book ended, Gretchen Muller and Daniel Cohen had barely escaped to England before Hitler could find them. Gretchen now goes by the name Gisele and lives with the Whitestone family. She is still in high school and has plans to become a psychoanalyst. However, Daniel is miserable reporting mundane news stories after being a hard-hitting reporter in Germany. When Daniel receives a disturbing telegram, he feels he must return to Germany despite the risks involved. Gretchen finds out that Daniel is wanted for murder and she has to face her greatest fears to try to rescue him. As the duo gather proof of Daniel’s innocence, they uncover information that will not only clear Daniel’s name, but also ruin the credibility of Hitler and the Nazi party. This well-researched historical fiction novel filled with mystery, suspense, action, and romance should appeal to a wide audience.
Why I picked it up: I placed a hold on Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke because it is the follow-up book to the popular Prisoner of Night and Fog. I loved the first book and couldn’t wait for this one to come out.
Why I finished it: The novel was filled with edge-of-your-seat action and I had to know what would happen to Gretchen and Daniel.
I’d give it to: Fans of the first book in the trilogy: Prisoner of Night and Fog.
Star Rating: Four stars
Reviewer: Renee (Parr library)
June 12, 2015
Things We Know By Heart
by Jessi Kirby
When Quinn Sullivan’s boyfriend, Trent, dies suddenly, her life stops completely. She can’t move on, can barely get out of the house, and constantly keeps count of the days since she lost him. She tries to get closure by writing to and meeting the people who received Trent’s donated organs. Only one of them doesn’t write back, and that’s the recipient of Trent’s heart, the part Quinn held most dear. Against her better judgement, she searches tirelessly for Trent’s heart, and the person now surrounding it. Eventually she finds Colton, and the more she tries to stay away from him, the more she finds herself lured in.
This is a pretty fast-paced love story. But I loved that although Quinn was hurting through much of it, she also had a very supportive family. In fact, my favorite relationship in the book might be between Quinn’s sister, Ryan, and their Gran. I’m glad there was a balance between Ryan forcing Quinn up and running and Quinn finding a love of nature with Colton, rather than just having Colton be the sole reason for her climbing out of her grief. But… Colton is pretty cool too.
Reviewed by: Nina (Haggard Library)
June 10, 2015
Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling
By Lucy Frank
“This raw and gorgeous novel in verse will plunge you into the precarious world of illness, where summer love seems like a distant memory and the future is anything but certain.” – from inside flap
Chess is sick, although she hopes that maybe if she doesn’t speak about or acknowledge the painful, frightening, and embarrassing symptoms she is feeling, they will somehow go away. But when she becomes sick enough that she has to be admitted to the hospital, it isn’t so easy to avoid acknowledging her illness, especially with her hospital roommate Shannon, a brash and rude loudmouth whose motto is “Don’t take stress, give stress.” The only thing Chess and Shannon have in common is the illness they share–or is it?
Why I picked it up: I like verse novels, and the main character has the same name as me, although her nickname is different.
Why I finished it: Story in verse can be a difficult thing to get right, but when it’s done well, it can be very emotionally gripping and powerful. Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling is done very well. I especially enjoyed the distinct voices of the different characters, especially Chess and Shannon, and Frank does a great job with the pacing, keeping up a good level of suspense that made me eager to know not only what would happen to them, but also about their slowly, carefully revealed pasts.
I’d give it:
Five stars. With a sparse amount of words, Lucy Frank is able to breathe more life into her characters than some authors can with thousands of words. This is definitely one of the best verse novels I have ever read.
Reviewed by: Francesca (Davis)