August 24, 2016 by



by Bernard Beckett

Anax thinks she knows history. Her grueling all-day Examination has just begun, and if she passes, she’ll be admitted into the Academy—the elite governing institution of her utopian society. But Anax is about to discover that for all her learning, the history she’s been taught isn’t the whole story. And the Academy isn’t what she believes it to be. In this brilliant novel of dazzling ingenuity, Anax’s examination leads us into a future where we are confronted with unresolved questions raised by science and philosophy.

So, recently I decided to take a month and reread a bunch of books I’d read before at some point that I loved, but that I didn’t actually remember much about anymore. This book came out in 2009, and I read it when it was new and all I remembered was being kind of blown away by it. It’s tiny–only 150 pages long–but it is really interesting, and really powerful, and there are some serious twists! And even though at this point there are a billion dystopian fiction novels out there, this one still surprised me. If you have a thing for philosophical questions about the nature of intelligence, or robots, or are bored with the typical dystopia or are just looking for something short, give this one a try!

Happy reading!

Lara (Haggard Library)

Traitor Angels

August 22, 2016 by

Traitor Angels

by Anne Blankman

Six years have passed since England’s King Charles II returned from exile to reclaim the throne, ushering in a new era of stability for his subjects (except for Elizabeth Milton). The daughter of notorious poet John Milton, Elizabeth has never known her place in this shifting world—except by her father’s side. By day she helps transcribe his latest masterpiece, the epic poem Paradise Lost, and by night she learns languages and sword fighting. Although she does not dare object, she suspects that he’s training her for a mission whose purpose she cannot fathom.

Until one night the reason becomes clear: the king’s men arrive at her family’s country home to arrest her father. Determined to save him, Elizabeth follows his one cryptic clue and journeys to Oxford, accompanied by her father’s mysterious young houseguest, Antonio Vivani, a darkly handsome Italian scientist who surprises her at every turn. Funny, brilliant, and passionate, Antonio seems just as determined to protect her father as she is—but can she trust him with her heart?

When the two discover that Milton has planted an explosive secret in the half-finished Paradise Lost—a secret the king and his aristocratic supporters are desperate to conceal—Elizabeth is faced with a devastating choice: cling to the shelter of her old life or risk cracking the code, unleashing a secret that could save her father…and tear apart the very fabric of society. (Summary taken from cover flap)

Why I picked it up:

I enjoyed Anne Blankman’s previous books Prisoner of Night and Fog as well as Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke.  Although this one is totally different, I thought I would give it a try.

Why I finished it:  This unusual work of historical fiction includes actual historical figures such as Thomas Milton, Galileo and King Charles II along with historical events such as the Great Fire of London and the Plague of 1666 all wrapped up in an intriguing mystery full of romance, hidden clues and dark secrets.   As the mystery slowly unraveled I had to continue my journey through a plot that (for better or worse) frequently reminded me of The DaVinci Code.

 I’d give it to:  Teens who like their historical fiction with a taste of adventure and intrigue. Not to mention like their heroines to be strong young women with a will of their own who are determined to break convention.

I’d give it: 3 stars


Reviewed by: Connie (Schinmelpfenig Library)




The Things They Carried

August 19, 2016 by

The things they carriedTitle:  The Things They Carried

 Author/Artist:  Tim O’Brien

Why I picked it up:  I was interested in this book because of the great reviews it had and seemed very interesting to me.  I enjoy suspenseful and dramatic stories and this one definitely fit the bill.

Why I finished it:  The stories were gripping and very interesting.  I just had to finish the book to know the stories and overall experience of the characters of the book.

I’d give it to:  I would give this to teens and young adults looking for a good war book.

Star rating:  5 stars

Reviewer:  Justin (Plano teen)

Animal Farm

August 17, 2016 by

Animal farmTitle:  Animal Farm

Author/Artist:  George Orwell

Why I picked it up:  There are two reasons why I decided to read this book.  First and foremost is the fact that I was required to read it for this coming 9th grade year.  The second reason is because I have read a few of George Orwell’s other books, such as 1984, and really enjoyed them.

Why I finished it:  This book first started off in a farm, where the perspective was placed upon the different animals on the farm.  It talked about how they interacted with each other, how they fulfilled their different roles on the farm.  However, one day, the animals on the farm revolted upon their owner, and ended up ruling the barn.  They created their own society, with the one animal on top, named Napoleon.  This is when I realized that this book was a reference to the French dictator Napoleon.  As I kept on reading, I found more and more references, and that was the biggest reason I finished the book.

I’d give it to:  I would recommend this book to anybody.  Depending on how you interpret the story, you either could get a very interesting fiction story about animals taking over a farm, or a very unique way of referencing a dictator.

Star rating:  5 stars

Reviewer:  Justin (Plano teen)


August 15, 2016 by

TeardropTitle:  Teardrop

Author/Artist:  Lauren Kate

Why I picked it up:  This book interweaves romance, mystery, fiction, and ancient myth all into one package.  Personally, I picked up this book because of its fictional content.  I enjoy anything fiction, from science fiction to fantasy, and this book fits right into this range.  However, this book also includes action and mystery, which were two other appealing aspects of the book.  After reading the compelling back cover of the book, I was instantly drawn in.  The plot twists and the interesting backstory is sure to keep you up at night.

Why I finished it:  This book is beautifully crafted, combining many genres into one.  Therefore, I wanted to see how the book ends, especially with all the fast paced action.  Furthermore, Lauren Kate manages to include serious topics in the backstory, prevalent in today’s society, which can teach the many young adults of today’s society a lesson.  All in all, this book pulled me right in with its interesting facades and significant social commentary.

I’d give it to:  This is an easy read perfect for any teen who wants to relax with a compelling story.  It would appeal to male and female readers alike, because of the balanced gender of the characters.  It is perfect for anyone who enjoys slight action and an interesting background.  Furthermore, with its inclusion of romance, mystery, and fiction, this book would appeal to a wide range of audiences.

Star rating:  4 stars

Reviewer:  Nicky (Plano teen)

VIII by H.M. Caster

August 12, 2016 by


Title: VIII

Author: H.M. Castor

VIII is a fictionalized account of Henry the VIII’s early years. We’ve all heard or read stories from history about Henry VIII,  his six wives (two of whom he had beheaded), and other horror stories of his reign. VIII shows the tender and compassionate side of Henry during his younger years, and in the beginning you can’t help but wonder how did this sweet boy turn into such a terrible person by adulthood? H.M. Castor uses historical records and entertains Henry’s transition from the sweet young boy in his young years to the time he comes to power. Highly readable and enjoyable, if you like any historical fiction this is a fun read.

Why I picked it up: I enjoy historical fiction and reading of the antics of Henry VIII.

 Why I finished it: I just had to know how Henry became the curmudgeon that he did.

I’d give it to: Recommended for YA readers who are interested in a light introduction to Tudor history or fans of Katherine Longshore’s Tudor fiction.

I’d give it: 3.5 Stars

Reviewed by: Andrea H. (Haggard Library)




The Rook

August 10, 2016 by

Dear you,
The body you are wearing used to be mine… Do you know the name of the body you are in? It’s Myfanwy. Myfanwy Alice Thomas… You are probably aware of this next part already, since if you are reading this then you have survived several immediate threats, but you are in danger. Just because you are not me does not make you safe. Along with this body, you have inherited certain problems and responsibilities…

I recently came across a Doctor Who read-alikes list, and found The Rook, by Daniel O’Malley. It was described as X-Men in London, featuring a paranormal secret government agency. Enter Myfanwy (rhymes with Tiffany) Thomas, a woman in a position of great power in this agency, with one slight problem: all of her memories are gone. She must figure out who betrayed her, making sure no one finds out she doesn’t have a clue what’s going on, all while dealing with the everyday paranormal disturbances that plague Britain. The story was topped off with that famous British humour and wit, keeping things light and intriguing. Also: no unnecessary romantic plot plagues the characters. It’s the end of the world as they know it, and they do not feel the need to suddenly develop feelings for co-workers. And I feel fine with that.

The Rook is an adult fiction book, and a long one at that. I’d recommend it for Doctor Who fans and older teens, who feel ready to take on a challenge. This one is well worth its length.

I’d give it four stars (well, 4.5, but no halfsies for us.)

Reviewed by: Anna, at Parr Library

August 8, 2016 by

Plano Public Library System

Title:  The Forbidden Orchid

Author:  Sharon Biggs Waller

Plano Public Library System

The forbidden orchid

Staid, responsible Elodie Buchanan is the eldest of ten sisters growing up in a small English market town in 1861. The girls barely know their father, a plant hunter usually off adventuring through China, more myth than man. Then disaster strikes: Mr. Buchanan reneges on his contract to collect an extremely rare and valuable orchid. He will be thrown into debtors’ prison while his daughters are sent to the orphanage and the workhouse.

Elodie can’t stand by and see her family destroyed, so she persuades her father to return to China once more to try to hunt down the flower—only this time, despite everything she knows about her place in society, Elodie goes with him. She has never before left her village, but what starts as fear turns to wonder as she adapts to seafaring life aboard the tea clipper The Osprey, and later to the new sights, dangers, and romance of China. She comes to find that both the world and her place in it are so much bigger than she’d ever dreamed. But now, even if she can find the orchid, how can she ever go back to being the staid, responsible Elodie that everybody needs? (from the publisher)

Why I picked it up:  I read Ms. Waller’s first novel, A MAD, WICKED FOLLY and I loved it!   So, I thought I would try another book by this author and I was not disappointed.

Why I finished it:  This book does start a little slowly, so give it a chance.  Once I had an idea that Elodie was going to travel to China with her father, I was anxious for the adventure to begin.  The father/daughter relationship between Elodie and her father is very unusual.  There is also a romance in this book and I was hoping that they would wind up together.

 I’d give it to:  Fans of historical fiction and good writing.

Star Rating:   Five stars

Reviewer:  Renee (Parr library)




The Scorch Trials

August 5, 2016 by

The Scorch TrialsTitle:  The Scorch Trials

Author:  James Dashner

Why I picked it up:  The Scorch Trials begin where the Maze Runner ends.  As the sequel to the Maze Runner, and a fan of it myself, I felt compelled to read it.  The action the book interweaves as well as the backstory of the book were one of the many reasons I picked this up.  As a fan of both action books and dystopian/utopian books, this book fit my style perfectly.  The originality of the plot just added to the list of appealing reasons for choosing this book.

Why I finished it:  With the fast paced action and constant plot twists I was not able to put the book down.  The action alone compelled me to finish the book to the end.  Furthermore, the circumstances the characters go through are so heart-wrenching it kept me reading at night.

I’d give it to:  This book is perfect for fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent series.  Any teenager who enjoys dystopian, utopian, action, and fiction will definitely enjoy this book.  As the sequel to The Maze Runner, fans of James Dashner will not be disappointed.  The flowing and simple language of the book allows the reader to focus on the heart-wrenching and fast-paced action.

Star Rating:   Five stars

Reviewer:  Nicky (teen)


Bone Gap

August 3, 2016 by

Bone GapTitle:  Bone Gap

Author:  Laura Ruby

Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps.

So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. But Finn knows what really happened to Roza. He knows she was kidnapped by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember.

As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap, acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a tale of the ways in which the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.  (Taken from publisher).

Why I picked it up:  I am a sucker for an interesting cover.  This story actually lives up to the image on the cover.  Hint:  The cover gives a clue about one of the characters in the story.

Why I finished it:  Finn and Rosa were fascinating characters and I loved their story.  The book was full of surprises and I didn’t know what was going to happen until the end.

I’d give it to:  I think many teens would enjoy this unusual, very original story!

Star Rating:   Four stars

Reviewer:  Renee