Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

December 19, 2014 by



by Meg Wolitzer

If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be  at home in New Jersey with her sweet British  boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching  old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing  him in the library stacks.

She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English.

But life isn’t fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead.

Until a journal-writing assignment leads Jam to Belzhar, where the untainted past is restored, and Jam can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But there are hidden truths on Jam’s path to reclaim her loss.

From New York Times bestselling author Meg Wolitzer comes a breathtaking and surprising story about first love, deep sorrow, and the power of acceptance. (Book Jacket)



Girl on a Wire

December 17, 2014 by

Girl on a WireGirl on a Wire

By Glenda Bond

Sixteen-year-old Jules Maroni’s dream is to follow in her father’s footsteps as a high-wire walker. When her family is offered a prestigious role in the new Cirque American, it seems that Jules and the Amazing Maronis will finally get the spotlight they deserve. But the presence of the Flying Garcias may derail her plans. For decades, the two rival families have avoided each other as sworn enemies.

Jules ignores the drama and focuses on the wire, skyrocketing to fame as the girl in a red tutu who dances across the wire at death-defying heights. But when she discovers a peacock feather (an infamous object of bad luck) planted on her costume, Jules nearly loses her footing. She has no choice but to seek help from the unlikeliest of people: Remy Garcia, son of the Garcia clan matriarch and the best trapeze artist in the Cirque.

As more mysterious talismans believed to possess unlucky magic appear, Jules and Remy unite to find the culprit. And if they don’t figure out what’s going on soon, Jules may be the first Maroni to do the unthinkable: fall.

(Summary from inside the book cover.)

Why I picked it up:

Two of my favorite adult books are set in the circus so I thought I’d read one for teens. I admit that I was first attracted by the cover with the high-wire walker.

Why I finished it:

There was no way that I wouldn’t finish it! I couldn’t help but feel that I was with Jules step-by-step on the high-wire as she attempts more and more dangerous feats at greater and greater risk. The narration is heart-stopping and the behind-the-scenes glimpse of the life of a circus performer is fascinating.  Mix that with a dash of magic and romance and you have a winner!

 I’d give it to:

Anyone who likes a gripping story with plot twists that will keep them guessing.  An interest in the circus is not essential but it is a unique ingredient that adds to the “flavor” of this magical mystery.

I’d give it: 

 Reviewed by: Connie (Parr Library)


The Cure for Dreaming

December 15, 2014 by

The Cure for Dreaming
by: Cat Winters

Olivia is taking interest in the women’s suffrage movement, a fact that upsets her father. When she attends a theatrical performance with friends, she is hypnotized by an out-of-town hypnotist named Henri. Olivia is easily manipulated by Henri in her hypnotized state and this has her father thinking. He hires Henri to hypnotize his daughter so she will know her “proper place” by “seeing the world as it truly is” and when she ever has a temper, Olivia will only be able to say “all is well”.

Olivia then sees the world as it truly is with sad women becoming transparent and fiendish men appearing as reptilian monsters. If anything, Olivia’s hypnotized abilities had made her more devoted to the women’s suffrage movement. The surrealism of imagery in this story is perfectly symbolic for the tensions during women’s suffrage movement at the time.

Why I picked it up: I enjoyed the author’s previous book, In the Shadow of Blackbirds, and had to read this one.

Why I finished it: This book echoed the theatrical suspenseful qualities of the author’s previous book and I had to find out if Olivia would overcome her hypnotized state.

I’d give it to: Anyone who likes supernatural historical fiction or fiction about the women’s suffrage movement or feminism.

I’d give it: 3 stars

3 Stars




Reviewed by: Diana (Harrington Library)

Shades of Grey

December 12, 2014 by

2113260Shades of Grey

by Jasper Fforde

Some of you may already be familiar with Jasper Fforde, as his book The Last Dragonslayer is a Texas Lone Star selection for this year. If not, consider yourself introduced!

The premise: Eddie Russett has above-average red perception and is looking to move up in the world. However, while accompanying his father to the backwater village of East Carmine, all his plans are turned upside down and he finds himself smitten with a Grey named Jane and caught up in a number of mysteries with very dangerous solutions.

Shades of Grey is a really interesting mix of science fiction, mystery and humor involving a dystopian society with a hierarchy based on the colors one is able to see, and it’s the first in a series, with the next book due out in 2016. If you’re looking for something smart, quirky and philosophical, check this out!

Other similar books to try:

Railsea by China Miéville

Genesis by Bernard Beckett

A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty

Happy reading!

Reviewed by: Lara (Haggard Library)

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future

December 10, 2014 by

81b37cd4781fd48e525165ce7bd85f6fGlory O’Brien’s History of the Future
By A.S. King

Glory O’Brien isn’t like other teens. She’s a photographer, a feminist, and her mother committed suicide when she was a young girl. The tragedy causes her not only to question the things other teens find important, but also to wonder what her own future holds. Will she end up like Darla? The answer might come in the form of a decomposed bat that her friend Ellie convinces her drink. Together they drink the bat, and together they gain a sort of super power – to see the infinite past and future of every person they look in the eye. This power shows them each different stories, and the picture that starts to emerge to Glory is full of scary future scenarios, especially for women. Will Glory be around to find out if her visions come true? And if she is, what part will she play in this terrifying future?

Although this book has a bit of a depressing start and an upsetting sounding future, there is an underlying hope, as there is in all A.S. King’s novels. I think Glory’s message is an important one that a lot of teen girls could stand to hear. Feminism isn’t just a 1970s fad that’s already done its job, and being aware of women’s issues doesn’t make you old-fashioned. It’s ok to stand up for and respect ourselves.

Reviewed by: Nina (Haggard Library)


December 8, 2014 by


By: William Ritter

Abigail Rook has just arrived in New Fiddleham, a city in New England, and is in need of a job. She meets the eccentric R.F. Jackaby, who is much like Sherlock Holmes if he passed through a Doctor Who episode. It turns out that Mr. Jackaby is an investigator of supernatural cases and is in need of an assistant because his previous one turned into a frog. On a trial basis, Abigail joins Jackaby on his supernatural investigations. The first case she agrees to join begins with a dead man with a hole in his chest and blood all over his room. Thus begins a string of murders that the Chief Inspector of New Fiddleham is trying to stop. Jackaby is not exactly loved by this police in the city, but they have to agree that he has a certain knowledge of oddities in the city. And the murderer is anything but human.

Why I picked it up: The title in script on the cover grabbed me because it screamed: “historical fiction!” which I love unabashedly…

Why I finished it: …with the above said, it was the supernatural plot, the characters, and the humor that kept me reading.

I’d give it to: Sherlock Holmes fans (books, movies, or TV series, it does not matter) and fans of Doctor Who that would like to give some supernatural historical fiction a go.

I’d give it: 5 stars 

5 stars

Reviewed by: Diana (Harrington Library)

Like No Other

December 4, 2014 by

Like no otherWe have an Advance Reader’s Copy of Like No Other by Una LaMarche for one lucky reader of the teen blog. An Advance Reader’s Copy is a pre-publication paperback copy of the book. This version may contain small errors and it is distributed to book reviewers and librarians to promote the book. This title was published in July 2014.

Devorah is a consummate good girl who has never challenged the ways of her strict Hasidic upbringing. Jaxon is a fun-loving, book-smart nerd who has never been comfortable around girls (unless you count his four younger sisters). They’ve spent their entire lives in Brooklyn, on opposite sides of the very same street.

Their paths never crossed…until one day, they did. When a hurricane strikes the Northeast, the pair becomes stranded in an elevator together, where fate leaves them no choice but to make an otherwise forbidden connection.

Though their relationship is strictly forbidden, Deborah and Jax arrange secret meetings and risk everything to be together. But how far can they possibly go? Just how much are they willing to give up?

In the timeless tradition of West Side Story and Crossing Delancy, this thoroughly modern take on romance will inspire laughter, tears, and the belief that love can happen when and where you least expect it. (Taken from the cover).

To participate in the drawing for this book, send an email to with Like No Other in the subject line. Include your phone number and the Plano library branch where you would like to pick up the book. We will have a drawing for the winner of the give-away on Monday, December 15, 2014. One must be a resident of Plano, Texas in order to qualify for the monthly book giveaway.

Good Luck!



The Vanishing Season

December 4, 2014 by

The vanishing seasonTitle: The Vanishing Season

Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson

Girls started vanishing in the fall and now winter’s come to lay a white sheet over the horror. Door County, it seems, is swallowing the young, right into its very dirt. From beneath the house on Water Street, I’ve watched the danger swell.

The residents know me as the noises in the house at night, the creaking on the stairs. I’m the reflection behind them in the glass, the feeling of fear in the cellar. I’m tied – it seems – to this house, this street, this town.

I’m tied to Maggie and Pauline, though I don’t know why. I think it’s because death is coming for one of them or both.

All I know is that the present, and the past are piling up, and I am here to dig.

I am looking for things that are buried. (Taken from the cover).

Why I picked it up: A coworker recommended that I read this book. She read it and loved it. I knew that many people raved about her previous book, Tiger Lily. I plan to read that book next.

Why I finished it: I wanted to know what was happening to all of the girls that disappeared.

I’d give it to: Teens who like a supernatural thriller that isn’t too scary.

Star Rating:   Four stars

Reviewer: Renee (Parr library)


If I Stay

December 1, 2014 by

If I stayTitle: If I Stay

Author/Artist: Gayle Forman

Why I picked it up: I picked up If I Stay because one of my close friends wanted to see the movie premiere with me and I don’t like seeing movies without reading the books first.

Why I finished it: Mia’s an interesting character. I loved that she was a cellist and into classical music because that’s not something you see very often in young adult books. There were a lot of things in this book that were very well done. They never seemed awkward and the writing flowed very nicely. I loved the theme of music throughout the novel and how music and the characters’ love for it tied so many things together. I also liked that the relationship between the characters. They had their problems, but they always worked things out by discussing what was going on. The characters were all very mature and acted like mature adults…even the teenagers.

That being said, at many times I felt that the characters were too perfect. Mia is a pretty, extremely talented high schooler with a few close friends and an undeniably bright future ahead of her. Mia’s boyfriend, Adam, is a punk rocker who at the same time manages to be sensitive, caring, and understanding in every situation. Mia’s parents are super cool with everything, even when she comes home after drinking at a New Year’s Eve party. I just found some of the characters unrealistic and while for the most part it made for a good story, at some points I was thinking, “No one in real life would act like that.”

I’d give it to: Overall, it was a worthwhile read. Anyone who enjoys books that make you both cry and laugh at the same time would enjoy it.

Star rating: 4 stars

Reviewer: Bhavana (Plano teen)

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation: Vol. 1, The Pox Party

November 28, 2014 by

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation: Vol. 1, The Pox PartyThe Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation: Vol. 1, The Pox Party

By M. T. Anderson

It sounds like a fairy tale. He is a boy dressed in silks and white wigs and given the finest of classical educations. Raised by a group of rational philosophers known only by numbers, the boy and his mother — a princess in exile from a faraway land — are the only persons in their household assigned names.

As the boy’s regal mother,  Cassiopeia, entertains the house  scholars with her beauty and wit, young Octavian begins to question the purpose behind his guardians’ fanatical studies. Only after he dares to open a forbidden door does he learn the hideous nature of their experiments — and his own chilling role in them.

Set against the disquiet of Revolutionary Boston, M. T. Anderson’s extraordinary novel takes place at a time when American Patriots rioted and battled to win liberty while African slaves were entreated to risk their lives for a freedom they would never claim. The first of two parts, this deeply provocative novel reimagines the past as an eerie place that has startling resonance for readers today.

(summary from Goodreads)

Why I picked it up: I’ve read another book by M. T. Anderson, Feed, and I really enjoyed his style of writing. I’ve also read about the history of African slaves during the American Revolution as well as the real-life “experiments” that took place around that time and purported to test the abilities and faculties of non-Europeans, and I was hoping that Anderson’s portrayal of this history would be as pointed and haunting a read as the future-dystopian novel Feed.

Why I finished it: I wasn’t disappointed. Anderson’s writing in this book echoes the style of the time period (at times I found myself needing to break out the thesaurus), but under the formal prose and verbiage the pain and anger Octavian feels is quite poignant–in fact, the formal style often highlights the horrors that Octavian suffers at the hands of those who claim to own him and have taken control of his fate away. For example:

“Above all, brought up among the experiments and assays of these artists and philosophers, I was taught the importance of observation. They showed me how to be precise in notation, acute in investigation, and rational in inference. After I watched them pet a dog for some days, then drown it, and time its drowning…after such experiments as these, I became most wondrous observant, and often stared unmoving at a wall  for some hours together.” (p. 9).

I often found myself sickened and enraged by the behavior and the hypocrisy of the so-called “scientists” that have made Octavian their experimental subject, but that was balanced by the admiration I felt for Octavian as he learned to recognize them clearly for what they are, and learned to defy them and their assertion that he is nothing but their property, their “specimen” with which they will prove that Africans are lesser than Europeans and deserve to be enslaved.

I’d give it to: Anyone who likes big words, historical fiction, and has a strong stomach–Anderson doesn’t spare the gruesome details, whether it’s everyday life or the fortunes of Revolutionary war.

Rating: 5 stars

5 stars



Reviewed by: Francesca (Davis)