Being Sloane Jacobs

April 24, 2014 by

Being Sloane Jacobs Being Sloane Jacobs

By: Lauren Morrill

Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life.

Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice-hockey player who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks.  Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over.

When the two Sloanes meet by chance and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie-and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home.  It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself. [From the book jacket]

Why I picked it up: After reading several books in a row that ended tragically, I was looking for something that didn’t leave me feeling down in the dumps.  When I saw the book’s cover, it looked like it was would be a fun romantic read.  I really enjoyed seeing how the girls discovered new things about themselves and that just because someone’s life looks more glamorous, things are not always what they seem.

 Why I finished it: I really liked the modern twist on the Prince and the Pauper story.  Both characters had issues to overcome but it was handled in a way that you were more focused on the girls’ journey than their obstacles.  The pacing of the story kept me interested and I was able to finish it on a long car trip.  You do have to ignore the fact that no one seems to recognize that the girls switched places (yes, they look similar but surely someone has seen them before!).

 I’d give it to:  Anyone who has wondered what it’s like to try a new life or is looking for a fun romantic read.

I’d give it:

4 stars

Reviewed by: Ashley (Haggard Library)

Hollow City: The second novel of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

April 23, 2014 by

Author:  Ransom Riggs
(this review from inside the book flap)

Welcome to the world of peculiar people.  A world of telepathy and time loops, of sideshows and shape-shifters.  A world populated with adult “peculiars”, murderous wights, and a bizarre menagerie of uncanny animals.

The extraordinary journey that began Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children continues as Jacob Portman and his new found friends journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world.  There, they hope to find a cure for their beloved headmistress, Miss Peregrines.  But in this war-torn city, hideous surprises lurk around every corner.  And before Jacob can deliver
the peculiar children to safety, he must make an important decision about his love for Emma Bloom.

Why I picked it up:  I thoroughly enjoyed the first book so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Hollow City:  the second novel of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

Why I finished it:
I must admit I had a bit of a struggle getting into his second novel.
It would have been helpful if the author had a put a brief summary in the beginning of the book.   The first novel was published in 2011 and the second novel in 2014.  I found  myself looking up some of the strange names such as wights, hollows and hollowgasts and trying to remember some of the children’s peculiar talents.  The vintage photography is as amazing as the first novel.  The pictures alone will keep you turning the pages in this unique novel.

I’d give it:
4 Stars


Reviewed by: Beverly (Davis)

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)

April 22, 2014 by


The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) [movie/play], performed by the Reduced Shakespeare Company

PLEASE don’t run away! I know William Shakespeare might be intimidating, at best droll, but give the Reduced Shakespeare Company (RSC) a chance!

Shakespeare is the Liam Neeson of secondary school - he is after you, he will find you, and your teacher is liable to butcher it all before the end. Once we agree on that, here is my counter offer: run through all of Shakespeare’s plays in one perfectly concise hour-long play! Think of it as introduction to whet your appetite for future reading.

The RSC consist of three men – Adam, Reed, and Austin – and they perform abridged versions of Shakespeare’s plays, including three (!) encores of Hamlet. Trust me,  you’ll want to sit through every single encore. Their play will make you laugh, it might even leave you singing, and, most importantly, it will allow you to enjoy Shakespeare (and his humor!) in a hilarious, refreshing way.

I’m recommending it today because it is one of the funniest plays I’ve experienced (second only to A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum, but that’s another post for another day). In fact, I never turn down an opportunity to see this play performed live. I like it so much that I want to tell you ALL ABOUT IT, but I can’t because I would hate to give any of it away. Besides, I can’t tell it as well as these guys can, anyway.

Instead, I will share this Youtube clip of the RSC performing Othello to give you an idea of their approach.

I leave with one statement of caution: this is not a substitute for reading the plays! Watching this will (probably) not prepare you for a comprehensive exam. That said, I do believe we learn better when we are enjoying ourselves, so if this will introduce you to - or even highlight, if you’ve already read his works - the humor inherent to Shakespeare’s plays, it may help you relate to the material better.

Lastly, if you are already a fan of the Bard: if you haven’t seen this already, pick it up immediately! You are going to love this most of all.

It appears I can only review things that I enjoy – five stars!

Reviewed by Seti (Haggard)

The Orphan Train

April 21, 2014 by

The Orphan Train

Christina Baker Kline

Orphan Train is a beautiful story that weaves together the past and the present of two women, one young and one old.  Molly is a troubled teen and a foster child who winds up helping an elderly widow clean out her attic, instead of spending time in juvenile detention.  Vivian is a 91-year old widow who resides in a Victorian mansion in Maine.  At first glance, the two women appear to have nothing in common, but their stories and backgrounds are surprisingly similar. Vivian Daly was born Niamh Power and moved from her birthplace in Ireland to a tenement in New York to an orphan train headed for the Midwest.  The “Orphan Trains” of the early 1900s moved homeless, destitute city children to the Midwest to live with families.  Some of the orphans had better luck than others.  Vivian was bounced around from home to home, some of which had deplorable conditions before finally landing with a stable family where she found peace and happiness.  Molly, a seventeen-year-old, is a neglected half Native American child.  Her father was killed in an accident and her mother is in jail.

 The story unfolds in the present day when Molly meets Vivian and they begin working together to clean out her attic.  As the two of them begin to share stories, an unlikely friendship develops.  The narrative follows both characters as they change and grow.  This is a deeply emotional and satisfying story.

Racing Savannah

April 18, 2014 by

Racing-Savannah-coverRacing Savannah

By Miranda Kenneally

They’re from two different worlds.

He lives in the estate house, and she spends most of her time in the stables helping her father train horses. In fact, Savannah has always been much more comfortable around horses than boys. Especially boys like Jack Goodwin – cocky, popular, and completely out of her league. She knows the rules: no mixing between the staff and the Goodwin family. But Jack has no such boundaries.

With her dream of becoming a jockey, Savannah isn’t exactly one to follow the rules either. She’s not going to let someone tell her a girl isn’t tough enough to race. Sure, it’s dangerous. Then again, so is dating Jack…

(Summary taken from book jacket).

Why I picked it up: Racing Savannah wasn’t my first choice. The book I initially wanted to review was a disappointment. I was determined to find something to latch onto, and that’s when I found Racing Savannah. 

Why I finished it: How could I not? Racing Savannah, the fourth book in a six book series, is a sweet and charming story. While I haven’t read any of the other books in the Hundred Oaks Series, I’m definitely going to  after reading this book. I loved the chemistry between Savannah and Jack and loved the way they bonded over Tennessee Star (Jack’s horse). I know very little about horses and even less about horse racing, so getting a little glimpse into that world was really great. Overall, I enjoyed Mirranda Kenneally‘s writing. Finishing her book was effortless and I would recommend it to romance readers looking for a well paced story.

I’d give it: 3 stars

3 stars




Reviewed by Milen (Harrington Library)

Half Bad

April 17, 2014 by

Half Bad
By Sally Green

I’m not usually into supernatural books or books about witches and things, but this one was really good. That’s probably because I considered it to be more about the plight of Nathan, and less about witches and magic. So if you’re looking for a book with lots of magic and spells, this might not be the one for you. But if you want a book with an interesting main character and some weird family dynamics, you should check it out. In Half Bad, there are white witches and black witches, and Nathan is half and half. Black witches are supposed to be the “evil” ones, but the stuff the white witches put Nathan through, like being locked in a cage and, well, basically torture, put a serious gray area on the white/black good/evil argument.

This is the first book in a series, and I think it’s mostly meant to show Nathan’s childhood and set up the world and relationships for us. There were a couple parts that slowed down a little, but I still really enjoyed it, and I definitely look forward to the next book in the series.

 Reviewed by: Nina (Haggard Library)

The Screaming Staircase

April 16, 2014 by


Lockwood & Co. #01: The Screaming Staircase CoverThe Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co: Bk. 1)

By Jonathan Stroud

Unabridged CD production read by Miranda Raison

For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions.

Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest, most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive.

Set in a city stalked by spectres, The Screaming Staircase is the first in a chilling new series full of suspense, humor and truly terrifying ghosts. Your nights will never be the same again . (Summary from Goodreads)

Why I picked it up:

I was introduced to Jonathan Stroud and his Bartimaeus trilogy through audio books.  His writing flows perfectly in the audio format.  When I saw that he had a new series, I decided to listen rather than read the first book since I enjoyed his first series in this manner.

Why I finished it:

Oh the goose bumps I felt as I drove through the dark on my way home from work!  I haven’t listened to a good ghost story in a very long time! I was so absorbed I almost missed my own street!  Miranda Raison’s narration immediately captures the listener and propels them into the story.  Each of the characters has a very distinct voice which clearly reflects their personalities and their reactions to the horrifying circumstances in which they find themselves.  The storyline is fast paced yet expertly controlled by Raisin as she pauses and accelerates at just the right moment for theatric effect. The effect is delightfully chilling! I can’t wait for the next book in the series which I totally plan on listening to as well!  I only hope that Raison is once again the reader!

 I’d give it to:

I’d give the book itself to all lovers of horror.  I would recommend it in print as well as CD as the story is expertly written by a very talented author.  Also, anyone interested in reading books on the 2014 TX Lone Star List for young adults.  A worthy addition to the list!

I’d give it: 

 Reviewed by: Connie (Parr Library)

Don’t Even Think About It

April 15, 2014 by

don't even think about itDon’t Even Think About It
by Sarah Mlynowski

“Olivia sank even farther. They can hear me worrying about my dumbness! And now they can hear me worrying about worrying about my dumbness. It’s a friggin’ house of mirrors.

As if you didn’t already have a good enough reason to skip out on that yearly flu shot (ouch!). What if one of the possible side-effects to that supposedly innocuous inoculation was the ability to read other people’s thoughts? Well that’s exactly what happens to the unsuspecting students in Bloomberg High School homeroom 10B. The day after they receive their flu shots, students in 10B begin developing strange symptoms—not only can they hear their own thoughts, they can hear everyone else’s too! Luckily, hearing one another’s thoughts lets them know they aren’t losing their minds. Vowing to keep their new abilities secret, the students of 10B begin meeting regularly. Some have secrets they don’t want spilled, and feelings are bound to get hurt. No one is immune to having their mind read, and nothing is a secret anymore. How long will their super-human abilities last? How long can they hide what they’ve become from their families, friends, and teachers?

This was a thoroughly enjoyable read that I could not put down! The characters that seem rather one-sided at the onset of the book develop more than just ESP after their ill-fated flu shots; they gain new perspectives on their lives and their relations to other people. You will definitely relate to at least one character in this book. Mlynowski, who lives in New York, says she got the idea when she noticed a tall, brown building with no windows while walking through the Tribeca neighborhood. It got her thinking about what the creepy-looking building could possibly be used for… a school for students with ESP, of course! With extra thick walls to block their mind-reading abilities! Mlynowski will be following up Don’t Even Think About It with a second book due out in 2015, Think Twice—can’t wait!

Reviewed by: Jocelyn (Davis Library)

Kill Me Softly

April 14, 2014 by

Title:  Kill Me Softly

Author/Artist:  Sarah Cross

Why I picked it up:  The title of this book truly intrigued me.  Also, the cover features a white rose with crimson blood pooled around it.  The inside summary tells about a town where fairy tales come alive.

Why I finished it:  I loved the many fairy tale allusions and the semi-plot twist at the end.  A lover becomes a murderer.

I’d give it to:  Fairy tale lovers.

Star rating:  4 stars


Reviewer:  Emily (Plano teen)

While Beauty Slept by Elizabeth Blackwell

April 11, 2014 by

beauty slept  Summary:  A beautiful princess lies in a sleep so deep it is close to death. Was Sleeping Beauty revived by a prince’s kiss? What really happened in that tower so long ago?

While Beauty Slept re-imagines the legend through the lens of historical fiction, telling the story as if it really happened. A Gothic tale of suspense and ambition, love and loss, it interweaves the story of a royal family and the servants who see behind the glamorous facade, following the journey of a young woman as she lives out a destiny that leads her to the brink of death. (from Goodreads)

Elizabeth Blackwell  presents a beautifully written retelling of  the story of Sleeping Beauty from the perspective of Elise, a servant in the castle and companion to the real prncess.  This book is a beautiful retelling of a beloved fairy tale full of historical detail.  It is not a quick read but one that will be sure to appeal to fans of fairy tales and historical fiction alike.