The Tightrope Walkers

July 31, 2015 by

{A260D5A1-72CE-470A-A44E-503E38A3BF4A}Img400The Tightrope Walkers by David Almond

A gentle visionary coming of age in the shadow of the shipyards of northern England, Dominic Hall is torn between extremes. On the one hand, he craves the freedom he feels when he steals away with the eccentric girl artist next door, Holly Stroud—his first and abiding love—to balance above the earth on a makeshift tightrope. With Holly, Dom dreams of a life different in every way from his shipbuilder dad’s, a life fashioned of words and images and story. On the other hand, he finds himself irresistibly drawn to the brutal charms of Vincent McAlinden, a complex bully who awakens something wild and reckless and killing in Dom. In a raw and beautifully crafted bildungsroman, David Almond reveals the rich inner world of a boy teetering on the edge of manhood, a boy so curious and open to impulse that we fear for him and question his balance—and ultimately exult in his triumphs.

Really beautifully written story about a boy balancing on the edge between youth and adulthood, violence and art, his family’s history and the future he might earn for himself, war and peace, hate and forgiveness, fantasy and reality, life and death… It’s a very bleak, brutal story at times, and an unbearably lovely one at others, and one that will haunt me for awhile to come.

Not an easy book for sure, but definitely a rewarding one for fans of realistic/historical fiction. Plus, tightrope walking!

Happy reading!

Reviewed by: Lara (Haggard Library)

Night

July 29, 2015 by

NightTitle: Night

Author/Artist: Ellie Wiesel

Why I picked it up: I picked it up because my friends were telling me that I had to read it and that it was a good book.

Why I finished it: I finished the book because it was very deep and fulfilling to read. I think that the book covered the World War in the eyes of someone who actually went through the pains of the war and I thought that was brave and interesting to read.

I’d give it to: High schoolers.

Star rating: 5 stars

Reviewer:   Sriram (Plano teen)

Devoted

July 27, 2015 by

by Jennifer Mathieu

Devoted will lead us into a movement called Quiverfull.  A religious group that follows a strict, patriarchal religion.  Rachel is one of 10 children and has just turned 18.  She spends the majority of her time cooking, helping the younger family members with schooling and taking care of their needs.  She has to follow a strict code of dress, guidance and a future that has been laid out before her with no alternatives.  Rachel has always questioned some of these motives, beliefs and choices.  She begins to discreetly investigate the outside world while her family sleeps and uses her father’s computer to search a world she is unaccustomed too.  Through texting she discovers the life of a fellow follower who  has been dis-communicated from the movement.  Rachel has to make some painful decisions but this new journey will lead her to self discovery.

Why I picked it up:  A controversial subject caught my interest.

Why I finished it:  Curiosity was the main reason I had to finish this book.  I was trying to grasp the significance of living in this type of movement and understanding the motive of those who choose this type of life.

I’d give it to:  Anyone who enjoys controversial subjects.

4 stars

OCD, The Dude, and Me

July 24, 2015 by

OCD, The Dude, and MeOCD, The Dude, and Me

By Lauren Roedy Vaughn

From the first day she began at her alternative high school, Danielle Levine has obsessively chronicled the highs, lows, and really lows of teenage life in her “me-moir,” a sacred, color-coded, locked binder kept securely boxed under her bed wrapped in a pillowcase. OCD, The Dude, and Me offers up an intimate, humorous insight into the life of one charmingly obsessive outcast. Danielle fastidiously archives her experiences through essays, rants, journals, e-mails, and other written exchanges with an observant wit. In a year filled with the unexpected, including surprise friendships, a glorious feeling of self-acceptance, and a life-altering viewing of The Big Lebowski, Danielle realizes she may not be as alone as she thought. (From inside flap)

Why I picked it up: I’m a huge fan of the Coen brothers’ film The Big Lebowski, about a laid-back, L.A. slacker known as The Dude, who happens to share his legal name, Jeffrey Lebowski, with a millionaire whose wife owes money all over town, and has a bunch of mistaken-identity adventures with his friends Donny and Walter. I also enjoy epistolary-style novels, where the story is told through the main character writing to others, or, in this case, herself.

Why I finished it: There is more to this book than meets the eye when you first begin reading. Danielle is utterly unique, and though she starts out convinced that this is a bad thing, I couldn’t help but fall in love with her quirky style and sense of humor. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that Danielle has a dark history that is still affecting her today, and watching her slowly come to terms with this and learn to embrace herself wholeheartedly as a worthwhile person made me want to cheer while also moving me to tears.

I’d give it: 5 starsFive stars. Danielle’s informal and unfiltered style of writing might get her in trouble in her senior English class, but it makes for an excellent read. You don’t have to be a fan of The Big Lebowski to enjoy this book, but you may find yourself becoming one.

Reviewed By: Francesca (Davis)

Mark of the Thief

July 22, 2015 by

Mark of the thiefMark of the Thief

By Jennifer A. Nielsen

When Nic, a slave in the mines outside of Rome, is forced to enter a sealed cavern containing the lost treasures of Julius Caesar, he finds much more than gold and gemstones. He discovers an ancient bulla, an amulet that belonged to the great Caesar and is filled with a magic once reserved for the Gods — magic some Romans would kill for.

Now, with the deadly power of the bulla pulsing through his veins, Nic is determined to become free. But instead, he finds himself at the center of a ruthless conspiracy to overthrow the emperor and spark the Praetor War, a battle to destroy Rome from within. Traitors and spies lurk at every turn, each more desperate than the next to use Nic’s newfound powers for their own dark purposes.

In a quest to stop the rebellion, save Rome, and secure his own freedom, Nic must harness the magic within himself and defeat the empire’s most powerful and savage leaders.

(Summary from inside the book cover)

Why I picked it up:

I loved Jennifer A. Nielsen’s Ascendance Trilogy  (The False Prince, etc.) and was eager to read more of her work.   The fact that it was set in ancient Rome was an added plus for me.

 Why I finished it:

  • Nic is a slave with attitude who is unwilling to accept his lot in life and is determined to succeed in spite of the deck being stacked against him.
  • In spite of his getting into tight situations and then out and then in again, he never loses sight of his goal – freedom and reuniting with his sister.
  • Not knowing who to trust or how to use this newfound magic, he refuses to be used by any of Rome’s power brokers …in spite of the fact that there’s a death sentence hanging over his head.
  • Adventures, twists and turns are on every page and at times not only are they reminiscent of Percy Jackson but also the Hunger Games (as in the scenes in the Roman Coliseum).

 I’d give it to:

Anyone who liked the Acendance Trilogy plus lovers of adventure, mythology and historical fiction set in Rome.

I’d give it: 

 Reviewed by: Connie (Parr Library)

The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind

July 20, 2015 by

girlsilencewindThe Girl Who Could Silence the Wind

By: Meg Medina

Sonia Ocampo’s birth brings about the end of a tremendous storm in the village of Tres Montes. After this, she is considered good luck and carries the prayers of her townspeople in the form of tiny milagros sewn onto a shawl she wears. When a village boy disappears and is found near-death, the villagers plead with Sonia to help him. She prays for him, but the boy dies, leaving Sonia to question her gifts. Sonia’s Tia senses that she needs a change of scenery and helps her get a job as a maid in a wealthy home. Shortly after arriving, she finds out that her brother has gone missing. Sonia decides that she must do everything she can to save her brother.

Why I picked it up: I have been reading stories within the genre of magical realism and this is a new title with those characteristics.

Why I finished it: While the ending seemed hasty, I enjoyed how Sonia grappled with the expectations of her fellow villagers and learns to defy them in her own way.

I’d give it to: Fans of books by Laura Resau and readers that like books with magical realism.

I’d give it:

3 Stars

 

 

 

Reviewed by: Diana (Harrington Library)

Harrison Squared

July 15, 2015 by

harrison squaredHarrison Squared

by Daryl Gregory

Harrison Harrison—H2 to his mom—is a lonely teenager who’s been terrified of the water ever since he was a toddler in California, when a huge sea creature capsized their boat, and his father vanished. One of the “sensitives” who are attuned to the supernatural world, Harrison and his mother have just moved to the worst possible place for a boy like him: Dunnsmouth, a Lovecraftian town perched on rocks above the Atlantic, where strange things go on by night, monsters lurk under the waves, and creepy teachers run the local high school.

On Harrison’s first day at school, his mother, a marine biologist, disappears at sea. Harrison must attempt to solve the mystery of her accident, which puts him in conflict with a strange church, a knife­wielding killer, and the Deep Ones, fish­-human hybrids that live in the bay. It will take all his resources—and an unusual host of allies—to defeat the danger and find his mother.” – summary from Goodreads

I loved this book! There was an overall eerie tone with clever comic relief throughout the story. I loved all the characters, but especially Harrison’s aunt, Aunt Sel. This has been one of the best books I’ve read this year and I’m hoping it gets at least considered for an Alex Award. Oh…you don’t know about the Alex Awards? They are books in the Adult Fiction section that have teen appeal. Check out this years winners here.

Perfect for fans of:

Neil Gaiman

China Mieville

Robin McKinley

Kurt Vonnegut

 

The Fire Horse Girl

July 13, 2015 by

The Fire Horse girlTitle: The Fire Horse Girl

Author: Kay Honeyman

Jade Moon is a Fire Horse – the worst sign in the Chinese zodiac for girls, said to make them stubborn, reckless, and far too headstrong. While her family despairs of marrying her off, she dreams of traveling far beyond her tiny village, living out a story as big as her imagination.

Then a young man named Sterling Promise offers Jade Moon and her father an incredible opportunity: the chance to go to America. As they travel, Sterling Promise’s smooth manners and Jade Moon’s impulsive nature strike sparks again and again. But America in 1923 doesn’t welcome Chinese immigrants, and when they are detained at Angel Island – the so-called “Ellis Island of the West” – Jade Moon uncovers a betrayal that destroys all her dreams. To get into America, much less survive there, she will have to use every bit of her stubbornness and strength to break a new path…one so brave and dangerous that only a Fire Horse girl could imagine it. (Taken from cover).

Why I picked it up: Kay Honeyman is coming to our library to help kick off our NaNoWriMo program this November. I wanted to read her novel before I met her.

Why I finished it: I finished the novel because the story was great. I was not aware of the problems that the Chinese emigrants faced when they came to America in the 1920s. I loved Jade Moon’s determination and strength.

I’d give it to: Anyone who enjoys a good historical fiction novel.

Star Rating:   Four stars

Reviewer: Renee (Parr library)

 

 

Denton Little’s Deathdate

July 10, 2015 by

denton little

Denton Little’s Deathdate
by Lance Rubin

In Denton Little’s world, everyone knows when they are going to die. And Denton Little is going to die tomorrow. So what would you do if you knew it was your last day? Get your first hangover? Cheat on your girlfriend? Spend time on Facebook? Tell everyone all the meaningful things you never said? Maybe find out why some mysterious dude claiming to know your long-dead mother shows up at your funeral (you hold them before you die now… so you can attend) with some cryptic messages? Denton has a chance to do all these things!

This book is fun. A little morbid. But fun. I like how for the most part, it’s a pretty general teen book with the usual teen drama, but there is obviously some weird nefarious plot going on in the background. And of course everyone knows when they’re going to die, which is interesting. Recommended for fans of sarcastic characters and dark humor.

Reviewed by: Nina (Haggard Library)

Slaughterhouse Five

July 8, 2015 by

Slaughterhouse-five : or, The children's crusade, a duty-dance with deathTitle: Slaughterhouse-Five

Author/Artist: Kurt Vonnegut

Why I picked it up: I really don’t know how to describe this novel. It features time travel, World War II, and aliens that already know how the world will end. Kurt Vonnegut’s elegantly crafted masterpiece tells the tale of Billy Pilgrim, a man undergoing the infamous bombing of Dresden during World War II while also about to die decades later simultaneously. Although the book features that confusing main principle, the greatest thing about the novel is how it engorges itself on the absurdity. Vonnegut aptly reflects the confusion whether it’s regarding the bombing of Dresden itself or the Tralfamadorans and their unique views on time through Billy, letting him act as both the passive protagonist and sometimes as a reflection of the reader via his dubiety. The whimsical tale is brimming with social commentary with a statement about the follies of war to match every innuendo and joke Vonnegut pens. The message isn’t overbearing in the slightest though, in fact, you may be laughing too hard to notice it as it’s hidden under a nice, thick veil of satire that would surely impress Voltaire himself.

Why I finished it: The book was too peculiar and funny for me to even think of never finishing. The story’s nonlinear fashion really urges you onward towards a satisfying completion so that you may comprehend the entirety of the plot. This book isn’t exactly conducive to stopping in the middle because you really don’t know what the heck is going on until the end.

Who I would give it to: Anyone who appreciates satire, science fiction, or really anybody who just likes to spend time chortling between pages turns deserves to read this.

Star rating: 5 stars

Reviewer: Jay (Plano teen)