Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ink Exchange

Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr

In this sequel to Marr's daring fairy tale, Wicked Lovely, the reader follows the life of one of Aislinn's friends, Leslie. Leslie, a minor character in the first book, is a troubled seventeen-year-old girl whose life has been turned upside down. Her mother has abandoned the family; her father is an alcoholic, and her brother is a drug addict who has even sold Leslie for drugs.

Leslie keeps her dark life secret from Aislinn, who has become more distant now that she is the Summer Queen (Leslie does not know this). Leslie believes that her way to free herself from her past is to get a tattoo. She feels that the marking of her skin will truly make her belong to her. However, Leslie is unaware that the Dark Court has been using the tattoo parlor she frequents to suck the emotions from mortals and that the Dark King himself has taken an interest in her.

Along with Leslie, the reader is given more background on Niall, another minor character from the first book. Niall is a former member of the Dark Court who possesses an unusual and dangerous talent. He also has a history with the Dark King, Irial.

Irial is the third main character of this book. In him, the reader sees not only the darkside, but the good trying to come through in some small way. We learn that being a king is not all that it is cracked up to be.

I found this book to be much more fast paced than the first one and actually even better than its predecessor. I highly recommend it to readers of the first book; it will not disappoint.

Warning: Contains drug and alcohol use, sexual references, references to rape, and foul language.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Sea of Monsters

The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

A little note of disclaimer on this book, it is the second in a series and I just realized I never reviewed the first book, The Lightening Thief. The first book is awesome and a great read for middle schoolers on up. I especially like to recommend it to my boys who are a little reluctant to read.

This book picks up about a year after the last one. Percy Jackson, our hero, is a demigod or hero (the son of Poseidon and a mortal woman). Percy spent the first twelve years of his life not knowing his true identity, that is until a centaur and a satyr found him and brought him to Camp Half-blood, a summer camp for demigods.

In the first book, Percy goes on a quest with his satyr pal Grover and another half-blood named Annabeth to retrieve the lightening bolt of Zeus. Now, Percy must save his beloved camp as well as his best satyr friend. With the help of Annabeth and a baby cyclops, Percy journeys into the Sea of Monsters to save Grover and bring back the one thing that will save the camp.

Deterring Percy on his quest is the new activities director for the camp, Tantalus, and an evil half-blood named Luke. Percy also faces his normal disadvantages, such as being unlucky and dyslexic, not to mention being one of the least favorite person of some of the gods. Did I also mention all the monsters he will have to face along the way? Hey, it is all in a day's work for a thirteen-year-old hero.

I really enjoyed this book. I find Percy to be an every man's hero and a good role model to kids who may feel like they don't fit in or who struggle academically/socially. I once again recommend this book to middle schoolers on up (upper elementary would probably enjoy it as well).

Friday, October 24, 2008


Private by Kate Brian

Never have I read a novel so lacking in any kind of moral fiber or general humanity as this book. Private is all about Reed Brennan a fifteen-year-old girl from small town America who has just received a scholarship to attend a prestigious private boarding school. Reed brings to this wealthy school little money and a lot of baggage.

At Easton, her new school, Reed meets the Billings Girls, a group of rich girls who live in the best dorm on campus. Reed learns from them to forget about herself and do what the others want with little or no consequence for their actions. I was sickened by how Reed went from a girl who didn't care if she was popular to a girl who only went to this new school to be popular.

The characters seemed very one-dimensional filling in stereotypes found so commonly in young adult literature (I use the term literature very loosely here). There was no moral growth of any kind from the characters and in the end Reed succumbs to the pressures of the cool girls and does whatever they say with little to no resistance.

Unless you are dying to read a vapid, shallow read with nothing to it, I suggest you stay far away from this book.

Note: Sexual situations, Foul language, Drinking and Drug use

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Gregor the Overlander

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

I just finished listening to Gregor the Overlander. This is a fantasy story about an eleven-year-old boy (Gregor) and his two-year-old sister (Boots) who fall down a shaft in their New York City laundry room into an underground world. In this world, humans live side-by-side with giant bats and cockroaches.

Gregor, whose father disappeared two years ago, learns that his falling into the Underland was prophesied centuries ago. He is the one who will be the "warrior;" the one who will defeat the evil giant rats and bring light to the Underland. Gregor doesn't see himself as a warrior, just as a kid who is trying to get him and his sister home.

Gregor, much like Frodo Baggins of Lord of the Rings fame, is sent on a quest with several inhabitants of the Underland, including two members of the human royal family and two cockroaches. Along the way the group encounters mental and physical challenges that tests the group's strength and resilience. An action-packed adventure reminiscent of Lord of the Rings or The Lightening Thief, young readers will enjoy the story of Gregor, an unusual hero of extraordinary talents.

While I thoroughly enjoyed this tale and look forward to the next installment, I did not care much for the reader on the audiobook version. I highly recommend this book, especially for middle schoolers, but suggest maybe skipping the audio version.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Vampire Kisses

Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber

Have you ever been the odd man out? Have you ever felt like an outcast? Well, if you have you are in the same boat as Raven Madison. Raven is the goth chic at her all preppie school. Her town is so boringly suburbia that she has nicknamed it Dullsville.

Live in Dullsville is pretty horrible for Raven. She is constantly being bullied by soccer snob Trevor. She only has one friend, a farm girl named Becky, and her once cool hippie parents have fallen under Dullsville's spell. Raven feels all alone, until one day when she sees a mysterious figure standing in the attic window of the abandoned mansion in town.

Raven starts to investigate and even breaks into the mansion to discover the secrets of the new family who has recently taken up residence. Her snooping leads her to Alexander, the seventeen-year-old, home schooled only child of the family. Alexander is the man of Raven's dreams. A goth guy who sleeps all day and is as misunderstood as Raven.

Tension rises between Raven and her new beau Alexander when Trevor begins to spread rumors that Alexander and his family are vampires. Could this be true? It would mean the answer to Raven's biggest wish, to be a vampire, but is she ready for eternity?

Although this book is in the vampire genre, it is all about acceptance and being different. Teens who love books like Twilight will enjoy this tale of young love, but so will those teens who have ever felt like an outcast. It is also a nice quick read; I read it in a day. This book is the first in a series, so those who enjoyed this first book can get more of Raven and Alexander.

Warning: Contains sexual situations and inappropriate language

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Doomed Queen Anne

Doomed Queen Anne by Carolyn Meyer

Another book in the Young Royals series (see Beware, Princess Elizabeth), this book follows the life of Anne Boleyn, second wife to King Henry VIII and mother to Queen Elizabeth I. Readers are introduced to Anne at thirteen when she is in France and reuniting with her older sister Mary, mistress to the King. We are then taken back to when she was just six years-old and sent away for the first time.

The most intriguing parts of this book start when Anne leaves France to join the court of King Henry VIII. Anne starts off as a sweet girl who is trying to over come her deformities (a sixth finger on one hand and a large mole) and her dominating older sister. As the years go by, Anne is turned from a sweet young girl into a manipulative woman bent on becoming queen, even though there is already one.

Anne plays a complicated game of cat and mouse as she lures the King to her. It is interesting to see how the King at first loves her and then discards her for another. It would be fascinating to read his side of this story, but alas at over forty in this book, he does not qualify as a "young royal."

Once again, I recommend this book to readers who enjoy historical fiction or who want to learn more about Anne Boleyn. It is a quick read that would be perfect for a rainy weekend.

Beware, Princess Elizabeth

Beware, Princess Elizabeth by Carolyn Meyer

Beware, Princess Elizabeth follows the life of England's Queen Elizabeth I, from her father's death to her coronation. Meyer does an excellent job of introducing teen readers to the life of someone they have no doubt heard of, but know little about. Even this adult reader learned a lot from this book, but I'm not sure how much is fact versus fiction.

Told from the perspective of Elizabeth, the story spans eleven years. Readers will be intrigued by Elizabeth's patience as she first lives through her nine-year-old brother's reign as king (a mere six years), where she watched as her brother was controlled like a puppet by his two maternal uncles. Then, Elizabeth must suffer through the rule of her sister, Mary, as she burns Protestants at the stake and imprisons Elizabeth.

The book not only gives readers a look at Elizabeth's life, but also but what life was like for the ruling class in 16th century England. Courtly manners are observed as well as strange customs, such as Elizabeth being required to attend the birth of the next heir to the throne. There is also some political material as we learn of the two Seymour brothers (Elizabeth's brother Edward's uncles) and there goal of seizing power for themselves, and the use of marriage to gain power.

Overall, this book does a wonderful job of introducing readers to Elizabeth and proves to be a quick read. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, especially fans of the Dear America: Royal Diaries books. This book too is part of a series, Young Royals, other women such as Anne Boleyn, Bloody Mary, Catherine of Aragon and more are the subject of the others in this series.

The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch

The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney

This is the first book in a fantasy series that follows the trial and tribulations of thirteen-year-old Thomas Ward. Tom, born the seventh son to a seventh son, is starting his apprenticeship, but instead of being a farmer or a blacksmith, Tom is going to be a Spook. Spooks protect the people of the county from the supernatural: witches, ghosts, boggards, etc. Each county has a Spook and it is a thankless but important task.

Spooks are almost as feared as the creatures they hunt. Old Gregory, Tom's mentor, has had 29 apprentices, some who have lived, some who have fled, and some who have died. Tom, it is prophesied, will be Gregory last apprentice and he has a lot to learn about his trade. One thing he needs to learn, never trust a girl with pointy shoes.

As we follow Tom through his first few months of training, we are given the basic understanding of what a Spook is and how Tom isn't ready to be one. As young heroes are apt to do, Tom messes up in a big way, but is determined to clean-up his own mistake. At times his naivete is frustrating, but the reader is compelled to keep reading.

Young readers will enjoy the adventure as well as the fantasy aspects of this story. While older readers will want to delve further into Tom and Gregory's world. I found this book quite enjoyable and I look forward to reading the sequel. I not only recommend this book to middle school and up, but I also recommend the audiobook which is done quite nicely as well.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Pretties by Scott Westerfeld

In this sequel to Uglies, readers are taken from the "ugly-side" of Tally Youngblood's teenage life to the "pretty-side." It is a few months after the pretty operation and Tally has fallen in with a popular clique of teens, The Crims. The Crims are made-up of past uglies who use to pull pranks and other tricks. Tally is a legend among them since she use to actually live in the Smoke, with *gasp* ugly adults.

Tally no longer remembers her mission, to distribute the cure to the bubbleheaded pretties. She is just interested in staying "bubbly" and hanging out with the leader of The Crims, Zane. David is just a distant memory, thanks in part to the operation and memory modification by the evil Dr. Cable, but things change in Tally's life when someone from her past resurfaces.

Tally then must fight, fight the pretties, fight the specials, and fight her best friend Shay. She must also find a way out of her gilded cage, a cage she might not want to leave. Readers of the previous book will find this a nice continuation of the storyline and the cliffhanger ending will leave you wanting more (the third book is entitled Specials).

Just like Uglies, Pretties is a great book for those who like light sci-fi stories. There is something in it for everyone: action, adventure, cool technology, romance, and teens fighting the system. It is also a great series for those looking for a series of books to read. I recommend it to all.

Warning: Contains teenage alcohol use and mentions sex.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

When I Crossed No-Bob

When I Crossed No-Bob by Margaret McMullan

Set against the backdrop of 1875 Mississippi, When I Crossed No-Bob is the story of twelve-year-old Addy O'Donnell. Addy's pappy ran away a few years ago leaving Addy and her momma to try to eek out a life in post-Civil War rural Mississippi. Life is proving to hard for Addy's momma so she leaves Addy behind and strikes off for Texas and Addy's pappy.

Left by herself at the wedding of two strangers Addy is taken in by the newlyweds, Frank and Irene Russell. It is with great trepidation that Frank (star of McMullan's How I Found the Strong) takes Addy in, after all she is a no-good O'Donnell. O'Donnells are known for two things, being the meanest people to ever walk this earth and living in the swamp of No-Bob.

Addy tries to prove her worth to the Russells as she deals with not only her own misfortunes but those of a state and a county trying to come back from a war that literally tore our country apart. Topics such as poverty, independent rule and most importantly racism are dealt with by Addy and in the end she will have to decide if she is her own person or if she is nothing more than an O'Donnell.

Readers will find Addy endearing and many readers will be able to connect with Addy on a personal level. Whether you have had a hard life, grown-up in a rural area, had a family reputation that wasn't so good, been abandoned by your parents, or just felt like an outsider where ever you went, you will see yourself in Addy. And through her struggles, maybe you will find out a little about yourself as well.

I think that it is important to note her that McMullan does an excellent job of dealing with the topic of racism and that children today could benefit from the lessons taught in this book. There are however terms that were common in the time period (1875) that might offend some readers. However, it is this realism that makes the book that much more realistic and powerful.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fabulous Terrible: The Adventures of You

Fabulous Terrible: The Adventures of You by Sophie Talbot

I just finished reading a new book, Fabulous Terrible: The Adventures of You. This fantasy novel that revolves around a foster kid who goes to boarding school is different than any book I have ever read; it may even be the first of its kind on the market. What makes this book different is the main character, it is you.

The book is published by Chooseco, who is famous for their Choose Your Own Adventure line of books. I know as a kid I was an avid reader of them. Remember: dying in the books doesn’t count if you still have you hand on the previous page. Similar to those books you are the main character, however you do not have to choose any paths in this one it is straightforward story.
I must admit that I wasn’t too into the main character being me, because I know I’m not that person and I just couldn’t feel like it was me. However, I must admit that once I got past the “you look around” stuff, I found an actually really good fantasy chick-lit book.

As I mentioned already, the story takes place at a boarding school and you are a foster kid who has just received a full scholarship to the elite private school. You are different from the rest of the kids, not only because you do not have parents or money, but because you also have the power to see the future. A secret you are vehemently hiding.

Things do not go well for you at your new school as you are trying to hide your secret and being plagued by someone out to get you, perhaps the rich girl you ticked off the first day of school. There are definitely some twists and turns in this book, enough to make you want the sequel, Fabulous Terrible: The Adventures of You: Chloe to come out sooner than October. I definitely recommend this book to those out there who love chick-lit with a fantasy twist or those looking for a good light read.

Warning: Contains bad language.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Confessions of a Teen Nanny: Rich Girls

Confessions of a Teen Nanny: Rich Girls by Victoria Ashton

If you have read previous entries in this blog, then you know at least one thing, I am a sucker for sequels. I can't get enough of them. If it was me every book would have at least one. That is the reason I completely devoured this book after reading Confessions of a Teen Nanny.


This book takes place one week after the previous book ended and we once again find Adrienne and Liz babysitting the same spoiled kids. This book evolves around Adrienne trying to win her boyfriend back and Cameron trying to win Deb of the Year. To top it all off Liz, is worried that something is going on with Parker behind her back.

With the same poor girls in a rich girl world theme of the last book, this book leaves New York City for the snowy slopes of Aspen. It also introduces the new character of Grumpus, an imaginary friend with way too much power. The book also leaves the reader hanging at the end, prompting them to go out and read the third book in this series, Confessions of a Teen Nanny: Juicy Secrets. I can assure you that in the near future you will see a review of this third book on this blog.

I have really enjoyed this series so far, except for one thing. I keep wondering why these rich families are hiring teenage (high school) girls to watch their kids instead of college students or professionals. It is explained that the Warners can't get anyone, but I can't believe they scraped the bottom of the barrel yet. It leaves me to believe that this book might have been written just to be sold to the YA market; I hope that this is not the case.

Warning: Contains teenage alcohol and drug use.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Confessions of a Teen Nanny

Confessions of a Teen Nanny by Victoria Ashton

I was recently in my local dollar store when I came across a book I had been wanting to read, Confessions of a Teen Nanny. I was so excited to find this book and for only a $1 too. I recently went on a vacation and began the book on the long car trip home. It was such a good book I read it in one day (it is pretty short at around 200 pages).

This is the story of Adrienne Lewis, a junior in high school, who attends the most prestigious public school in New York City and who has just started a nanny position for one of New York's richest families. Unfortunately for Adrienne, with this new high paying job comes a bratty genius kid, an overbearing never there mother, and a seventeen-year-old wild child rich witch who is out to steal Adrienne's boyfriend.

A Nanny Diaries for teenagers, readers are introduced to the hideous side of New York's wealthy upper society. Ashton, who in her bio reports to be an elite private school alum who has socialized with the upper class, is probably a socialite in disguise, however she does not curb any of her punches thrown towards the fictional families in this book.

Betrayal is an underlying theme of this book as Adrienne learns that the rich teen queen, Cameron is not really her friend, and that boyfriends and jobs are not forever. Adrienne's best friend and fellow nanny, Liz, also learns some lessons of her own as the story flashes from one girl's experiences to the other. Overall this book is great for lovers of chick-lit or books about the upper class.

This is the first in a series of books.

Warning: This book contains underage alcohol and drug consumption, as well as descriptions of sexual situations.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Incantation by Alice Hoffman

For those readers who are looking for a quick read that is well-written and touches on a serious topic, Incantation is the book for you. Today most people believe that the only time that the Jewish people have been persecuted was during the Holocaust; Hoffman's book sheds light on a different time period of hatred and genocide.

It is the dawn of the 16th century and Estrella is a sixteen-year-old girl living in Spain. Estrella thinks of nothing but getting married and always living next door to her best friend. However, her world is suddenly turned to darkness when the evil monster of hatred shows its face in her small town.

The Jews, who have been either forced to convert to Catholicism or live in a ghetto, are facing more and more persecution. Now, as in Nazi Germany, neighbor has turned against neighbor, turning in Jews who were pretending to be Catholic. The bodies and books are burning as Estrella's life and her family are changed for ever.

This book touches on a serious topic through the eyes of a teenager. A quick read for those who enjoy historical fiction. I recommend it to all.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Mob Princess: For Money and Love

Mob Princess: For Money and Love by Todd Strasser

I have to start out by saying that it took me less than a day to read this awesome book!! I first heard of the Mob Princess series about a month and half ago when I attended a conference where Todd Strasser was speaking. Strasser is known for his wonderful serious young adult fiction such as, Give a Boy a Gun. However, he has actually written over 120 books including some that might be known as guilty pleasure reads. When speaking about his books, Strasser made the comment that after he writes a serious book he likes to write a fun one, the Mob Princess is considered one of his "fun books."

I must say that I was a little skeptical about reading a book about a teenage girl written by a middle-aged man. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how well Strasser wrote the character of Kate. She seems more than girl; she is a human being.

Kate, is the sixteen-year-old daughter of Sonny Blessing (head of the Blessing Organization), and as the title implies her father's business is a mafia-type organization. On the day that Kate breaks-up with her boyfriend, everything in her world falls apart. A rival organization is trying to take over her dad's territory, her mom is leaving her dad, her dad is cheating yet again on her mom, and her thirteen-year-old brother is as clueless as always.

With Kate's father having to deal with her mother and his girlfriend, Kate is left to help run the family business. This leads to her enlisting the help of her extremely loose best friend, Randi, in an armored car robbery and meeting with the son of the rival family's boss.

Kate is trying to be a normal teenager, but is that even possible in her family, especially when she has gone and complicated things further by falling for Nick Blatteria, her father's enemy's son? This is a trilogy, so Kate has at least three books to fix everything. I recommend this book to lovers of chick mafia books or just chick-lit in general.

Warning: Contains alcohol usage and sexual content.


Masquerade by Melissa de la Cruz

This sequel to Blue Bloods picks up a few weeks after the last book ended. Schulyer's grandmother has just completed her cycle, thanks to an attack by a Silver Blood, and Schulyer has traveled to Venice to find the only person who can help her, her grandfather.

Schulyer's grandfather, Lawrence, has been separated from the family for centuries now, but he is the foremost expert on Silver Bloods. While dealing with the past attacks, which have thankfully stopped, Schulyer must deal with her loss of family, her mother's coma, and her feelings about two different boys, not to mention the fact that she is a half-vampire. The book really goes into Schulyer's new relationships both with Jack, the cute vampire who is promised to his twin sister, and Oliver, her Human Conduit.

Schulyer is torn between the two boys, just as she is torn between her two halves. Her blood is literally battling it out for control of her and she is starting to feel the need to feed. Double identities seems to be a theme throughout this book, hence the name Masquerade. No one knows who the Silver Bloods are, people are falling in love with the wrong people, and the true revelations have begun with the 400 ball (where the true name or angel name of each teen is revealed).

For those teens or adults who loved the first book this book is not a disappointment, in fact I found it better than the first reading it in a mere two days. In a world where vampire fiction is ruling the best seller lists, this book only furthers readers love for the blood drinking romancers who walk the night. A must read for those who love elitism fiction or vampire fiction.

Warning: This book contains foul language, alcohol usage, and graphic sexual content.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Wicked Lovely

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

This is not your typical fairy story. If you go into this book thinking it will be a happy-go-lucky sweet tale, you might as well put the book down before you even open it. This is a tale of the dark side of the fairy world, a side known to few humans. Only those humans gifted with “the sight” can see the fairies and the dastardly deeds they get up to, only those like Aislinn.

Aislinn has always been able to see the fairies; a fact that she has to keep hidden or they might blind or kill her. It is a gift she inherited from her mother and grandmother. The only way Aislinn can keep herself safe is to follow the rules. Rule #1 Don’t let the fairies know you can see them, Rule #2 Fairies are hurt by holy people and holy symbols, and Rule #3 Fairies cannot go near steel.

Aislinn is lucky enough to have a best friend who happens to live in an old train car, made of steel. His home is one of her few fairy free areas, but not even the train car can protect her from her feelings about the new fairy in town. Torn between her love for her best friend and her loathing/infatuation with the fairies, Aislinn is placed into a world that few authors have explored.

I found the premise of this book extremely interesting. Aislinn is not your typical fantasy hero, her best friend has tattoos and lives life more on the dangerous side, while she frequently thinks about sex and stays out late on school nights. Those older teens who are a little bit of a rebel with feel a connection to Aislinn while traditional fantasy fans will find the world of the fairies darker and more intriguing than most. I look forward to reading the sequel, Ink Exchange.

Warning: This book contains alcohol usage, sexual content, foul language, and general adult situations.

Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy

Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter

I found this sequel of I’d Tell You I Love, but Then I’d Have to Kill You actually better than the first book. Readers are brought back to Gallagher Academy, in this book about teenage girl spies, a few weeks after the last book ended. Cammie “the Chameleon” Morgan is dealing with the aftermath of her ill-fated romance with normal townie Josh and the fact that something is going on at Gallagher that she has not been informed about.

This time Cammie is facing not only a broken heart, but a secret that could change Gallagher Academy and its girls forever. Cammie and her friends will have to once again put their spy skills to the test as they figure out what the headmistress, Cammie’s mother, is hiding. I don’t want to give it away, but the secret is sure to thrill loyal female readers and have them begging for yet another book in this series.

On the relationship front, Cammie will have to use all of her girl skills, as lacking as they are, to deal with the fact that she can no longer see Josh (government order). Let’s just say that becomes harder than she thinks it will be. Once again, female readers will enjoy seeing the typical teenage girl side of Cammie, but without the amount of angst that was in the previous book.

I highly recommend this book to girls of all ages, just make sure you read the first book first or you may be completely lost.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

An Abundance of Katherines

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

After reading Green's Looking for Alaska and hearing the author speak, I was really excited to read An Abundance of Katherines. I had originally shied away from the book thinking it would be yet another whiny book about a boy being dumped; I was wrong. I dare say, this book was better than Looking for Alaska, in fact it is probably the best buddy road trip book I have ever read.

I know what you are thinking, "Sarah, didn't you just say this was about a boy getting dumped?", yes it is, but it is also about a road trip. The main character Colin, a child prodigy that feels washed-up at age 17, has been dumped by his 19th Katherine. You see, he only dates girls named Katherine, K-A-T-H-E-R-I-N-E, no C Catherines, Katies, Kates, or Kathys need apply. Now his Muslim American best friend, Hassan, wants to take him on a road trip to get him out of his dump funk.

The book centers around the boys journey to Gutshot, Tennessee (for all of you anagramers out there like Colin, this turns into: See Teens Not Thugs), where they meet Lindsey Lee Wells and her mom. It is here that Colin begins to theorize about dumpers and dumpees and how you can break a relationship down into a mathematical equation.

It is an interesting premise for a book. Two boys, one a prodigy the other a hilarious Muslim American, go on a road trip and discover friendship and mathematical equations along the way. I really recommend it to anyone looking for a great novel that isn't your typical YA fare.

Note: This book does contain graphic language, alcohol use and sexual situations.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

I just got done reading one of the best books ever!!! I don’t usually give books a five star rating, but this one I had to, maybe because I myself am a librarian (but not an evil one I am undercover bringing down the evil librarians here in Hushland). This book has it all, action, adventure, cool gadgets, magic, and best of all lots of humor.
The book is told as if it is the true story of Alcatraz Smeadry, hero of the Free Kingdoms. Alcatraz is a thirteen-year-old kid who has never known his real parents and who has been shuffled from foster home to foster home because of his tendency to break things. Alcatraz in the book defines himself as not a nice person and is out to dispel the myth that he is some great hero.

Everything in Alcatraz’s life changes on his thirteenth birthday when he receives his inheritance from his parents, a bag of sand. From there he meets his eccentric grandpa, Leavenworth Smeadry, a famous occulator who tells Alcatraz about the Free Kingdoms and the evil librarians, who have stolen his bag of sand. There are more Smeadrys and other interesting characters in this novel, including a thirteen-year-old female knight, a 6’5” anthropologist weapons’ lover named Sing, and a babbling Quentin Smeadry. The Smeadrys are out to save the Free Kingdoms and stop the evil librarians.

I would love to tell you more about this book, but some of my fellow librarians are coming my way. All I can say is if you can find this book read it!!! I will be back with more Smeadry updates as soon as the sequel has been smuggled here into the Hushland.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Skulduggery Pleasant

Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy

Yet another wonderful fantasy novel from an Irish author! Maybe it is the reach history of fairies and leprechauns that comes from Ireland that makes its authors so good at telling original fantasy stories for kids. This time author Landy invites readers to the magical world of skeleton detective Skulduggery Pleasant.

Along with Stephanie, a young girl who has just inherited her late uncle's estate, we are introduced to a world of magic most mortals know nothing about. Skulduggery, a snappy dresser not to mention a hysterically funny elemental mage, is our guide into this world. Formerly human, but now a magical skeleton, Skulduggery is out to stop the evil Serpentine from stealing the scepter of the ancients. Stephanie is the key to it all and it his job to protect her and also take her under his wing.

Now, I must admit that this whole story is of course fantasy, but I did find it hard to believe that an immortal skeleton detective would pick a twelve-year-old girl to be his new partner, even if her uncle was his friend. Besides this little bit, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it for upper elementary to adults. I especially enjoyed the audio version which includes an interview with Skulduggery himself at the end. Can't wait for Landy's next installment in this good versus evil series.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska by John Green

When I first picked up this book I assumed it would take place in Alaska, boy was I wrong. It turns out that Alaska is the name of a girl. Alaska is the new friend of Miles Halter. Miles is the main character, but the story is about both of them.

You see Miles has just started his junior year at a new boarding school in Alabama. Miles doesn't have a lot of friends at his public school in Florida and hopes things will be different as he searches for his "great perhaps."

Every character in this book as a certain quirk that doesn't necessarily define them, but more accentuates their personality. Miles is obsessed with last words. Alaska collects books and plans on someday reading most of them. Miles' roommate, Chip, is a genius who memories the capitals of countries for fun. There is even a Japanese rapper in their eccentric group.

Together the four struggle to find their place in this world and to solve the last words of one man, "how will I ever escape this labyrinth?" If you are looking for a touching coming of age story with some edge and depth to it, this book is for you. I found this book to be different than anything I had read before. It is a great book for older teens and adults alike.

Note: There is graphic language, sexual descriptions, alcohol, drug, and tobacco use in this book.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Memoirs of a Teeange Amnesiac

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

Imagine forgetting the past four years of your life. That’s what has happened to sixteen-year-old Naomi. Due to an accident, Naomi has forgotten all about her parents’ divorce, her mother’s new family, her dad’s fiancĂ©e, her boyfriend, her best friend, how to drive, and much more. For Naomi, it is like waking up in the life of a different person.

With the help of the new boy at school, James, and her best friend Will, Naomi begins to put her life back together and tear it down again. Naomi does not like the life the girl she was had picked for herself, so Naomi begins to change it. This confuses those around her who liked the old popular and cool Naomi to the new one.

This book really is a deep read. There are several difficult topics that Naomi must deal with including: sex, her adoption, and her mother’s affair. After finding out about Naomi’s life, it is no wonder her brain has decided to forget it.

Adding to the mix of Naomi’s life is the self-destructive James. James is the one who discovers Naomi after her accident and she is immediately in love with her. However, James has problems of his own, problems he wishes he could forget like Naomi did. This relationship along with Naomi’s relationship to Will and her boyfriend, Ace, all add to the depth of this book.

I really recommend this book to older teens and adults. It is a different take on the typical amnesiac storyline and it has enough emotion, depth, and heart to really affect the reader.

The Will of the Empress

The Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce

A surprise addition to Pierce’s two magic circle series (The Magic Circle and The Circle Opens), this book rejoins Tris, Daja, Sandry, and Briar as they meet up once again. The four are now eighteen and have seen a lot in their short lives. Their magical connection has been closed, much to the dismay of Sandry, due to the others wanting to keep their now adult thoughts to themselves.
In a bit of a road trip book, the four travel to Namorn, Sandry’s mother’s homeland, to inspect Sandry’s lands there. As always, trouble follows the magical siblings. This time an evil empress named Berenene dor Ocmore wants to keep Sandry in Namorn in order to keep her money there, she also wants the four as powerful mages. Being strong willed the four will play by nobody’s rules but their own.
Now that the four are grown-up, the book is more grown-up too. Issues of love, rape, murder, and kidnapping are all prevalent throughout the book. Pierce also delivers on her promise to include more homosexual characters into her books as one of the main characters discovers their true sexuality.
Fans of Pierce’s work will not be disappointed as she weaves together (just like Sandry) magic, adventure, love, and friendship. This book has it all and will keep you wanting more. I only hope for another unexpected sequel about four of my favorite fantasy characters.
As a side note, this book is available in a full cast audio version. The audio version is narrated by the author herself and is done extremely well. The music and cast fit the story perfectly and add to this wonderful novel.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Rebel Angels

Rebel Angels by Libba Bray
The sequel to A Great and Terrible Beauty.

This story picks up a few months after the last book ended (warning there are spoilers to book one in this review so if you haven't read the first book stop reading now!!!!). Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are about to celebrate Christmas, but they don't want to seperate for the holidays.

Together the three concoct a story about Ann being Russian noblity in order for her to stay with Felicity. They just have to be together so that they can continue to enter the realms and search for the mysterious Temple, the only thing that can bind the magic now that Gemma has destroyed the runes. They also have to discuss a new mysterious teacher who has arrived at Spence.

As the girls journey into the realms, they meet new and old friends and enemies. Pippa is still in the realms, but this is worrisome since it is only a matter of time before she will turn evil. There are also new people in the realms such as the Gorgon and the Untouchables.

Back in the real world, the girls are dealing with family issues. Ann's cousins want her to be their governess, Gemma is falling in love and dealing with her father's addiction, and Felicity has a new sister and an old dark secret. Not to mention the fact that they still haven't found Circe!!!

For anyone who has read the first book, this is a must read. For anyone who hasn't read the first book, what are you waiting for!!!! I can't wait to read the final book in this triliogy.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Death Collector

The Death Collector by Justin Richards

I found this mystery a little unusual. I don't know if I would clasify it as science fiction, fantasy, or both. Throw in the fact that it takes place in 19th century London, and you have one super cross-genre book.

This is the story of a pickpocket, an industrialist millionaire, a vicar's daughter, a knight of the Brititsh Empire, and a lowly museum clerk. The story begins when a young pickpocket named Eddie picks the wrong pocket.

The pocket that Eddie picks belongs to George who works at the British Museum. Two of George's collegues have just been murdered over some journals belonging to a scientist. George has in his possession the last surviving page of the final journal.
I don't want to go into too much detail, but the book does involve mechanical men and dinosaurs. To discover what else happens to Eddie, George, and the rest, you will just have to read The Death Collector by Justin Richards.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Great and Terrible Beauty

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

Let me just start off by saying that this was an awesome fantasy novel. I couldn't wait to read the second book in this trilogy.

A Great and Terrible Beauty is the story of Gemma Doyle, an English sixteen-year-old. Gemma has spent her whole life in India, but has recently been sent to an English finishing school. Strange things start to happen to Gemma and she discovers that she is the last member of a secret magical group called "The Order."

On top of her magical powers, Gemma has to deal with a lot of turmoil in her life. Her family is a complete mess. She is hated by the other girls at school and to top it all off a strange boy keeps following her.

I really recommend this book to any teenage girl who loves fantasy. I do warn you that at times you can't put the book down and at others it is kind of slow. The girls can at times be whiny and there are confusing homosexual undertones even though none of the girls is gay (not stated in book). Overall, I would really recommend this book to a mature reader and especially adults, it is a great crossover novel.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Seventh Tower: The Fall

The Seventh Tower: The Fall
By: Garth Nix

Tal lives a really sheltered life. He has never left “the Castle,” home to the seven orders, including his own orange order. The world he lives in is completely dark, the sun is hidden behind a thick mist called the veil, and the only light in the Castle and its seven towers are the lights from sunstones.

Sunstones are one of the most important things in Tal’s world. They give them light, heat, create music, act as weapons, heal people, tell time, and most importantly, they allow entry into the shadow world, Aenir. Aenir is where each of the Choosen must go to when they are thirteen in order to obtain their Shadowspirit. Without a Shadowspirit, a Choosen will become an Underfolk, the people who act as servants and do all of the labor in the Castle.

Unfortunately, in order to enter Aenir, Tal must have a primary sunstone. Tal’s family lost theirs when his father disappeared on a secret mission. Now Tal’s only hope to save his siblings and his gravely ill mother is to climb the tower into the forbidden area and still a sunstone. Doing this leads Tal into a world he never knew existed where shadowspirits harm instead of protect, where the world is covered in ice, and people actually live outside the Castle.

To find out what Tal discovers in this new world and if gets his sunstone, you will have to read The Seventh Tower: The Fall by Gareth Nix. This is the first in the series and I will warn you that the first book is hard to put down and leaves you wanting to read the next one.