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Teen Picks (14-19yrs)
Here are our picks for Teens, 14-19 years old!
London 1889, steam power reigns supreme and electricity has been outlawed. The lives of women are severely restricted. Feminine brains, accomplishments and spirit are overlooked by a male dominated society, while manners, fashion and decorum count for much more in the eyes of matrons, mothers and suitors. A good marriage (of which they have little choice) is one of the most defining events a young woman’s future holds. Two extraordinary young women are bound to this unbending Victorian standard of judging women, and they are quite unhappy about it.
Miss Mina Holmes, the niece of the famous Sherlock Holmes and daughter to Mycroft, struggles to show her uncle that females can “remain separate from their emotions in order to make accurate and important observations and deductions…” . Just as knowledgeable and able as her famous relatives, very few opportunities to prove herself have been presented to her.
Miss Evaline Stoker, the sister of the Bram Stoker (who is currently writing Dracula) also strives to prove herself. A legacy bestowed upon her by the Stoker family blood, she's this generation’s vampire hunter (much to the chagrin of Bram who really wanted the inheritance), “ This is what…my family legacy required of me: bravery, strength, and sacrifice. For the good and safety of all.”. The issue with this destiny? The previous hunters have all but eradicated the vampire scourge, and the one time Evaline faced a vampire she froze at the sight of blood. She is looking for a way to redeem herself in her own eyes for her past failings. Then a mysterious note delivered to both, issued by a source whose past lends credibility because of her associations, however dubious, summoning them to an investigate, on behalf of the crown, a series of questionable suicides and a disappearance.
Both leap at the chance. But can they overcome their rivalry, since they both have something to prove, before another body is found?
This is a fast paced, solid read with a whole lot going on between the covers: a love triangle for Miss Holmes, an inappropriate suitor for Miss Stoker, a time traveler, a disturbed cult leader, vampires, steampunk, a missing mother, a sister who keeps trying to find you a husband (whether you want one or not), and much more. Now, don’t get me wrong, while it does have a lot going on, it doesn’t lose focus on the mystery central to this book, while also hooking you into wanting read the next installment, so you can get the solution to a few of these peripheral mysteries. While delivering a satisfying conclusion to this first book in the series.
The story is told in alternating chapters from Miss Holmes’ and Miss Stoker’s points of view, so you are never confused about whose POV you are observing events through. Each of the women has a very distinct personality and ideas about how things should be handled, so you never get bored. The beginning is a hair slow, since a whole bunch of information needs to be related to the reader to understand this version of reality. This is over fairly quickly and you are caught in the grip of a high octane mystery.
I would recommend this mystery to any female reader (there are several male characters in it, however I don’t think this is the audience this book is written for) age thirteen and above.
It all started with Casper Morales. A lover, a vampire who didn’t kill his victims as he should have. He spread the virus, vampirism, until it threatened to engulf the whole world. That’s when Coldtowns were created, the place where the infected went so they wouldn’t spread the disease further. Where they wouldn’t be tempted to bite another human becoming a full vampire, not just cold, and spread the disease further.
It all starts when someone forgets to close a window at the party. That’s how they got in, that’s why all Tana’s friends are dead. Wading thru her friend’s blood Tana finds two survivors, of sorts, Aidan her ex who has been infected by the disease, and a vampire in chains. This is where Tana’s journey begins, where she is forced to make bad decisions in worse situations.
This is an oddly compelling book. Almost noir in style, it tells the story of many characters who all make desperate decisions who have to choose between bad and worse. The shifting perspectives allowed the book to move forward at a quick pace and allowed you understand why the characters did what they did. This book is dense and complicated and occasionally horrifying, not the type of book I normally read. However I could not put it down, nor read anything else until I was done. It shows the decay beneath the slick gloss of reality shows, media and life.
I would highly recommend this book to any one (however mainly females as I am not sure how a male reader would feel about it) over the age of 16, who is looking for a vampire story which in no way romanticizes them, but shows them as the apex and capricious predators they are.
Maggie’s world’s been tilted unexpectedly; her mother has remarried (after a suitable amount of time after her father’s death) the marriage itself isn’t the issue, the step-dad in question is. Val carries an inordinate number of shadows around with him, ones which cannot be explained away by weird lighting and sometimes look like multi-legged alien creatures. This is a huge issue, because the shadows may mean he is a magic user, which is forbidden in Newworld. But the even bigger issue is why Maggie can see the shadows in the first place? No one else can. During Maggie’s grandmother’s generation, the gene which was responsible for making magic users was sliced out of all who carried it. Science, not magic, is now used to control and restrain the cobies, or the gaps in reality, which threaten their world. When Maggie meets the gorgeous Casmir, another immigrant from the Oldworld, who has heard of Val and has a guess about his shadows…..well things get out of hand quickly.
I am a fan of Robin McKinley’s writing and have been for years. I never have to worry about her letting me down with a story, and this book is no exception. I loved every minute of reading it. I even learned how to use the shop’s KOBO eReader in order to read the digital advanced reader copy of the book, which is saying something!
I enjoyed how Robin slowly doles out information in the story, letting you slowly learn about the world and become invested in the characters she has created. Here she does a great job of weaving, of all things, origami, grief, animals (as pets, no talking roles for them here), magic, the supernatural and high school all into one story without any one theme/plot device distracting you from the story, all the while keeping the Newworld recognizably similar to our own, to further help connect with her audience.
Another aspect I enjoyed is Maggie; she is funny, clever and strong. While things may be rough in her life and she has a wicked step-father, she never whines about it. She avoids him, thinks to herself, “Val will not ruin this….” all the while fretting how she is hurting her mother. Maggie never becomes a whiny kid who mopes around rather than trying to figure out the best solution, in a bad situation, making the book a joy to read, but Robin walks a fine line here, since Maggie never sounds so upbeat that she becomes dopy, which is the other side of this coin. I cannot say enough good things about this book!
I would recommend it for female readers (or open minded males, since there are several strong guys in the story) 12+.
If you have not read any of Robin McKinley’s other books I would highly suggest you try Sunshine, The Blue Sword and Hero And The Crown immediately! I hope Robin will write a sequel to this book!
While there is a great resolution to the story and you don‘t feel like you‘ve been gypped, there are so many question left open, I REALLY hope there is a sequel……Please?
Sophronia fought against her parents sending her away to finishing school, now she cannot imagine being anywhere else. Just as her mother imagined, Sophronia is learning how to dance, pour tea and curtsey as any proper lady should. However the other classes offered at the floating school (did I mention the school is located on a dirigible?) are a bit more exotic…poisons, self-defense, information gathering and reconnaissance. Ultimately, her finishing, should she pass all her exams, will turn out a fine polished young spy into society.
The school is all atwitter when a trip to London is announced by the headmistress. Sophronia suspects the reasons for this sudden excursion are far more complicated than meets the eye, since it doesn’t make sense that the school would uproot itself merely to witness a historical event, no matter the supernatural implications. Adding to the excitement is a debut ball, several kidnapping attempts and a flamboyant vampire. Well things are about to get very interesting!
For those of you who have read the five books in the Parasol Protectorate series, this is a very interesting YA series, as they are a prequel to those books. You get to meet Genevieve Lefoux as a precocious ten year old and Lady Sidheag Maccon and begin to understand how she was able to lead a werewolf pack as a human. I found it great fun to meet these characters again and learn more about their origins.
For those of you who have not read anything in this universe before, never fear! While it is set in the same world and has a few carry-over characters, you do not have to have any knowledge of them in order to understand and love this book.
Carriger does a great job in setting the reader up for success, without her writing becoming formulaic. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is charming, witty, humorous, adventurous and filled with intrigue. I found that the notion of women out in society (high or otherwise) would make excellent spies during this period, with a bit of training, since ladies’ intelligence was often overlooked, and the school helped them to take full advantage of this flaw in society. I also enjoyed the fact that while there are many strong male characters, Sophronia never relies on them to save the day. Rather she relied on herself and her training to figure out what is afoot and to thwart other people’s machinations.
I would suggest reading Etiquette & Espionage, the first book in the series before you start on this one, as it will give you a firmer grasp the complexities in this installment in the series.
I would recommend this book to any female 14 and above, or very open minded males of the same age (but this I think is mainly aimed at the female audience).
It is no secret that I am a fan of Jasper Fforde’s writing; you should see the happy dance I do when an advanced reader copy of a new book is unwrapped in the store!
However many of his first in series books have a single fatal flaw… the first third of the books are slow, seriously slow---but, after you get thru this first third, they zip by and you can’t wait for the next book to come out! (The rest of the books after the first in series do not suffer from this flaw.) It’s proven to be a significant hurdle for less patient readers (I do what I can to reassure them to stick with it).
The Last Dragonslayer does NOT possess this flaw. The book reads like a song; from beginning to end it is graceful and flowing.
Jennifer Strange lives in a world where metal, machines and magic live side by side. She runs the Kazam, an employment agency for wizards, since her boss disappeared a few months back…. add to this the fact that magic has been slowly fading from the world, making her magicians harder and harder to hire out, Jennifer has enough problems on her plate.
Then the visions start.
Around the world wizards with the ability to foresee the future are inundated with a single vision, the death of the last dragon is at hand. With this vision Jennifer’s world tilts, all the signs point to Big Magic and Jennifer is in the thick of it!
While this book is billed as a Young Adult, it is suitable for any age. It would read a bit on the cozy side for an adult, and there isn’t any teen age angst in sight!
This book is all about choice. Choosing to do the right, best or necessary thing, because Jennifer understands the value of this freedom. As a foundling, she works as an indentured servant at Kazam, and will work there until her eighteenth birthday (unless she chooses to stay). So when presented with a choice it is important to her to actively make a decision, instead of just doing her duty or letting it flit away. This theme is repeated through out the book, in great ways, never with a heavy hand.
I seriously cannot say enough great things about this book! If you are a fan of any of Jasper’s series, or need one to cut your teeth on, I would recommend this book for you!
Life has changed very little after the Big Magic episode in the Dragonlands, in the adventures recounted to us in The Last Dragonslayer. Jennifer Strange is still the acting manager of Kazam Mystical Arts Management, the largest employment for wizards. She is still struggling with making ends meet, finding work for all the wizards, and with the loss of her much loved quarkbeast. However things have changed in the realm of magic. After a brief depletion of wizardrical power, the levels have started to rise….slowly. This is good news, people are slowly starting to turn to magic again.
This slow up-tick in magic has not gone unnoticed however. King Snodd has taken a keen interest, and is not above using his title to influence how magic is used….so he can turn a profit. Appointing Kazam’s rival, Blix (the owner of iMagic, the second largest management agency) as Official Court Sorcerer, King Snodd (and some well chosen minions) are out to try and control all of magic. The only thing standing in their way is Jennifer, who will do her level best to follow The Great Zambini’s vision, of magic belonging to all.
This was a great follow up to The Last Dragonslayer, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I love the fact Jennifer Strange relies on herself to figure out solutions to the problems presented to her. While she may ask for assistance or input on her plans, she never passively accepts what the world dishes out to her. Even if on occasion the remedy is even crazier than the problem is!
I also enjoyed the fact that the villain in the next book is introduced in this one, creating excitement for the next installment in this series. And while this may be included in The Song of the Quarkbeast, it doesn’t distract from the story. In fact it adds another layer of interest to it.
I cannot say enough good things about this book. It is an exciting and fun romp thru the Ununited Kingdoms, filled with magic, mad capped hijinx and unexpected courage and good sense. If you have never read this series, you do need to start with the first book. If you have never read Jasper Fforde’s writing, this would be a great series to start with!
Rory Deveaux has an exciting year ahead of her: her parents accepted a temporary position teaching law at the University of Bristol in England! Rory will be attending Wexford, a boarding school, in the heart of London. It will be a bit of a culture shock for this Louisiana native, however there isn’t much which will dampen her enthusiasm for this new, if temporary life.
“In our lifetime those who kill the news world hands them stardom and these are the ways on which I was raised.” (pg. 139)
Then August 31st comes around and a body is found, one which parallel’s the first Ripper strike in 1888. Instantly, London (and the media) is transfixed by the news of a new Ripper copycat…..there isn’t any physical evidence, video or leads. Until one lone witness steps forward, Rory.
“Fear can’t hurt you….It’s a snake with no venom.” (pg. 260)
The Name of the Star was nominated for an Edgar award this year, and I can see why. This is a fantastic read. I loved every second of it! This Ripper novel never allows itself to get mired down in all the theories, facts and innuendo surrounding the historical case. The author has done a great job in adding paranormal elements into this story and expanding it beyond just a standard copy cat novel (I am trying to not give away all the wonderful twists and turns Maureen takes us on, while trying to tell you Why I Loved This Mystery!).
The characters are smart and witty, without teen angst weighing it down. The mystery and its conclusion are fantastic - you think you know exactly where it is going, then it makes a left hand turn and you are left wondering and burning the midnight oil in order to finish the book!
I would recommend this to girls 14+ (or open minded boys since there are a number of great male characters) as it is told exclusively from Rory’s point of view. 14 AR points.
It has been several months since Rory’s last adventure, and we find Rory in Bristol (England) on the mend from her horrific injuries inflicted by the Ripper copycat. One of her required (by her parents) recuperation appointments is with a therapist, which Rory isn’t overjoyed about, especially because she can’t actually talk about what happened to her, since the official version of that night is quite different than the true events.
What really occurred is buried under so much red tape and an Official Secrets Act, Rory isn’t allowed talk about it. The silence is suffocating…. Things start to look up when out of the blue her therapist suggests Rory should return to London, Wexford and her old life. Rory leaps at the chance. She soon discovers that the Shades are the ones actually behind her return and have a keen interest in her future. They no longer have the means to dispel/destroy destructive or anguished ghosts since all their terminuses were destroyed or lost in the battle to stop the Ripper copycat. Then it is discovered that Rory is now a human terminus - meaning she is able to eliminate ghosts by simply touching them. Returning to Wexford brings home the point she has been avoiding her future is no longer a clear path lying in front of her. School no longer holds the importance it once did; passing or failing mean little. It isn’t until she meets a new therapist named Jane who helps Rory break through her silence and apathy and realize exactly where she need to be.
The Madness Underneath is the follow up to last years Edgar nominated book, The Name Of The Star. While this is a transition book it has a decent mystery which carries the book. I seriously cannot wait to see where this series goes after the cliffhanger of an ending. It does however focus mainly on Rory and the new landscape of her life, rather than on the ghosts haunting London, which was a bit of a disappointment.
I would highly recommend The Name Of The Star to anyone looking for a creepy, suspenseful and atmospheric read. Once you become invested in Rory and her life, I would recommend The Madness Underneath - the ending and the events leading up to it are absolutely riveting.
This summer, sixteen-year-old Violet is staying wither her dad, who is an up-and-coming Seattle Area artist. Violet is over the moon when her father’s biggest client, the Yamadas, commission him to paint a mural in their corporate headquarters in Tokyo. Being a huge fan of all things Japanese, including manga (she is in the process of inking her own book; she’s an artist herself) this is a dream come true. Plus she can hang out with her friend, who is also in Tokyo all summer! However the trip takes a darker turn when the Yamadas’ house is broken into and three Van Gogh sketches are stolen.
Emulating her favorite manga detectives, Violet begins to investigate the theft, leading her thru the streets of Seattle, Tokyo and Kyoto; meeting artists, businessmen and Yakuza members. This is a trip she will never forget!
This is a fantastic book. Leading the reader through an action packed series of clues, events and blind alleys, Violet is a strong character, relying on herself to find solutions to the problems facing her, as well as showing passion for her art and the evolution of her own story line. Showing how every day events can influence and inspire someone when writing a story. Even when she is down, she is never a shrinking violet.
I also enjoyed reading the street scenes in Japan, the interactions between the characters (which are not always what they seem to be) and viewing Seattle thru someone else’s eyes. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a fun, fast and action-packed read this summer. This is a great book. (YA 12 - 16).
Agnes lives in London. In her time, Napoleon has returned for a second time and is threatening all of Europe with his war machine. On principle, the normal social scene of London marches on, with Agnes in tow. This is her year to make her debut and make a smart match, the year when she trades her dreams of adventure, her studies and cleverness for the small world of marriage, children and societal expectations. Lord Showalter’s is the first party Agnes will attend during her debut season, and during the party an Egyptian mummy is unwrapped. Agnes believes this will be as close as she will ever come to her dreams of travel and adventure, until one small act - her filching of a small dog statue - has her destiny taking an unexpected left turn into parts unknown.
I absolutely loved this book. It deals with London at a time when Egyptian mummies were looked on as curiosities instead of great cultural artifacts. Then spies, intrigue and two kids who are trying to make their own place in the world. You get a fast paced and fun look into 1815 London and how war affected them. Plus Agnes is clever and resourceful, never simpering or filled with teen angst -- which makes her a great heroine.
It is set in history versus trying to teach it, which is another great thing about it. I would recommend this book for any girl (there is a strong male lead in it as well, but the story is told exclusively from Agnes’s point of view, sorry guys) from ages 11 - 15. 11 AR points.
Griff Shaw is a Centurion, an angel who escorts the souls of those who have been victims of violent murders the other side. Being a murder victim himself, and unable to let go of his past landed him his current assignment. While on a routine retrieval, he takes pity on a prostitute whose been murdered in a seedy motel. Since the dead keep whatever they look like right before their death including their clothes (and she wasn‘t wearing a whole lot) he bends the rules and thru some jiggery pokery she is allowed to change her final appearence.
This lands him in hot water with his bosses since she wasn’t a prostitute; but an investigative reporter who wrote her killer’s name down while Shaw’s back was turned for her partner to find, thus changing her partner‘s, Kit Craig’s fate, to one filled with rape and murder. Now Griff has a choice, does he follow his bosses plan, or team up with Kit to nail the exposé and solve her best friend’s murder……..and perhaps his own.
I had some trepidations when I started this book, I have read some really bad books based around angels. However this one surprised me, I really enjoyed reading it. Kate is a Rockabilly reporter who fits well with Griff Shaw’s ‘50’s hardboiled P.I. mindset. Kate is snarky, clever, hard-headed reporter who won’t stop until she gets truth. This is a dark, gritty and twisting story which does not shy away from violence, but doesn’t use it gratuitously either. It does not dwell on religion or uses the angel angle with a heavy hand.
The book is an urban fantasy edging towards noir and geared more towards the female audience, I think, than to a male. I would recommend this to any urban fantasy mystery reader looking for something new to read!
Violet lives in London in the year 1865 with her mother and two childhood friends. Her mother is a Spiritualist by trade and is all the rage in London. However Violet is conflicted about this fame, since it often means duping those in grief…… since her mother’s is a fraud. Violet’s mother manages to land an important engagement at an Earl’s estate, one which could open doors to much more important members of society. Everything is going according to plan, until Violet starts seeing real ghost…. One in particular, a sixteen year old girl, who won’t leave her alone until Violet solves her murder.
I could not put this book down! It is a novel placed in history, which slyly slides in real issues of the day which correlate to many of today’s issues without diminishing the story a bit. I found it had far more substance than a good portion of the teen novels I have read recently for work. I cannot wait to see if a sequel to this novel is published!
I would highly recommend this book for a girl (since it is told exclusively from Violet's point of view) from ages 13-18. It would make a good cozy read for an adult as well who likes historical novels.
Izzy Brannick has a very long and impressive lineage. While most people prize, politicians, celebrities and rebels in their family tree, Izzy has more unusual branches on hers. For centuries, her family has hunted monsters, or, to use the more civilized term, Prodigium, becoming their boogie man in turn. However, thru the centuries of campaigns and fighting, the Brannicks have dwindled down to just Izzy and her Mom.
Finn, her older sister, has gone missing a few months earlier. On a routine hunt, Finn and Izzy were tracking a coven of witches. Finn went in, while Izzy stayed behind, and she hasn’t been seen or heard from since. Finn’s tactical belt is the only evidence that she had ever set foot in the house. She and her mother searched, ran down every clue and still came up with nothing. However monsters don’t keep convenient hours, and before Izzy is ready, they have to continue on with their duties.
In this case Izzy must go undercover in Ideal, Mississippi’s local high school. A ghost is on the loose and causing some serious bodily harm to a faculty member and threatens the rest of the school…..Izzy must now navigate the labyrinth of cliques, fashion, boys and magic. To solve her case, without becoming attached to the people around her, this is a job. Friends are a luxury she cannot afford…..right?
School Spirits is a parallel series to Hawkins’ Hex Hall series. Meaning, it is set in the same world with vampires, ghosts, fae and witches. However, none of the characters from that series pop up in this book. School Spirits is a solid mystery, with promising multi-book plots, such as her missing sister Finn, the prophecy that Izzy will let Torin out of his mirror and what exactly is going to happen with Dex? This book has the potential to start a new urban fantasy-ish YA series, and I cannot wait to see where we go next.
I would recommend this book to any girl 11-16 (sorry guys, I don’t think you are the targeted demographic here) who is looking for a fast paced, Buffy The Vampire Slayer -esque - mystery.
The one critique I have of this book, is it is missing the snarky humor found in the Hex Hall series, and I realize Hawkins cannot make the two series the same. However it would have been entertaining to see more sly humor embedded into this mystery.
When Sophie discovered the truth powers as a witch, the fact they come from a less than angelic source, she makes the decision to have them removed. So never has to worry about her demon based powers posing a threat to those she loves. However when she arrives in London for the ceremony she discovers, that she isn't the only one whose powers demonically based, and they don't seem to have the same moral dilemma Sophie has about using them. To make things even more complicated The Eye is bent on hunting her down and will kill anyone who gets in there way......and they are sending Archer Cross, her former crush, after her. But its' not like they have any feelings for each other anymore....
I recommend this for girls 15 and up.
12 AR ponts
To navigate the uncertain waters of her new school Amanda chose three very different people to help guide her. However Callie, Nia and Hal have no clue she chose the three of them as guides… until they are pulled into the Vice Principals office for an act of vandalism committed by Amanda. This event coupled with Amanda’s dissaperence sets events into motion, revealing to the three reluctant friends, everything they thought they knew about Amanda Valentino is a fabrication…. Even more puzzling Amanda still some where in Orion leaving clues and exposing secrets some want to forget.
I absolutely loved this book! I would recommend this book for female readers from 12-16 years old since it is told exclusevly from Callie’s point of view.Why do I love this book? The author does a great job in drawing you into the mystery, which extends beyond Amanda herself. You want to know what happened to Callie’s mom, why she chose Nia and Hal (do they have secrets which need to be told?) and who her mysterious fourth friend is. The author sprinkles in enough answers and revalations to keep the reader from becoming frustrated. However for each answer found another unanswered questions pop up.
The companion website is fantastic as well! One important detail, you must read the book before you do any serious perusing thru the site. There are forums about the book, which contain spoilers if you haven’t finished the book yet. One fantastic feature which keeps readers connected to the book- every week a mini mystery is posted on the site. These mysteries are all related to events in the book, inviting fans to speculate over the character’s motives and significance of events. These mini mysteries are written by Nia, Callie or Hal and they also respond to theories posted by the fans. The site keeps young readers reading and using deductive reasoning! And you don’t have to participate on the forums in order read them. It also encourages posting of fan art work, short stories and poetry submitted by the readers.
11 Accelerated Reader points.
Amanda is still missing and Vice Principal Thornhill has been attacked at school. Nia, Callie and Hal continue on with their investigation into Amanda’s disappearance, which overlaps with the attack when they discover a note from Amanda in his car. As they continue on, the trio discover they are not the only ones searching for Amanda---the people who they have been taught all their lives to trust; police, doctors---they have less altruistic and more sinister reasons in their search. Even the Amanda Project (their website) the three suspect someone is feeding them information, using them to find her, or even worse using the information they have generated for their own purposes….Nothing is as it seems to be, even Amanda herself.
This is a great follow up to the Amanda Project Invisible I, continuing to expand the conspiracy and mystery which surrounds Amanda. Told from Hal’s perspective, which allows the series to open up to the male readers, however these books do have to be read in order so they do have to be open to reading stories from the female perspective as well. The online website, the Amanda Project, is still fascinating. The weekly mini mysteries, the interaction with the main characters, the ability to ask questions and put forth your theories about what is happening is one of the best things about this series. I would recommend this series to girls (or open minded boys) who are looking for a good mystery and spare time to devote to the website when they become a fan to help locate Amanda and help her out! I cannot wait for the next book coming out in a few weeks, Shattered, told from Nia’s perspective and about her time with Amanda and the trios continued search for Amanda and the truth.
9 AR Points
Sixteen-year-old Gwen lives with her extended and eccentric family in an exclusive London neighborhood. In spite of her family's peculiar history she'd had a relatively normal life so far. The time traveling gene which winds it way though the female line of her family is supposed to have skipped over her generation. So she is stunned when she starts taking leaps into the past. Gwen is totally unprepared for time travel, the fancy clothes, a mysterious secret society, and Gideon, an obnoxious know-it-all and of course a guy.....
This is one of the few time travel books which has both a believable (as far as time travel goes) premise for the traveling as well as one of the best beginnings of a series I have read in a while. The book has a complete plot in and of itself, as well doing a great job in setting up plot lines for the rest of the series. I really enjoyed reading it!
I would recommend this book for girls between 12 and 17.
11 AR points
Ronnie’s life has recently gone through a massive upheaval; her father burnt out in his job moved the entire family to a rural town in Oregon to open a B&B. The ray of light in her life is Karen, a ten-year old girl Ronnie baby-sits who shows her the wonder of her new world. However all of this comes crashing down when on a run Ronnie finds Karen’s lifeless body floating in the river.
This is a fantastic book, I could not put it down! This is not a light read, it is an atmospheric story which deals with death, isolation, friendship and drug abuse. The novel tackles these topics in new and interesting ways, without succumbing to the clichés you see in many teen novels. I would recommend this to female readers (since it is told exclusively from Ronnie’s point of view) around 15-18.
7 Accelerated reader points
2010 Edgar Award Nominee
All the Fairies have disappeared from The City….. There is no one left to grant wishes, no one is going from rags to riches overnight and Beauty is left scrubbing the floors instead of going to the ball. All that is left is their dust, a cheap imitation of their once powerful magic. For Henry Whelp, the son of the notorious wolf who murdered Little Red Riding Hood and her Grandmother, things are not easy in The City. Everyone assumes that violence runs in his blood…. But when he stumbles upon an underworld conspiracy which might link the fairy’s disappearance to the illegal dust trade…. Henry begins to believe his Dad was set up…..
I really enjoyed reading this book. The author used a Chandler-esque writing style which adds a layer of grit and realism to this fairy tale cast. Weston also did a great job in creating a city where its inhabitants can be cast in very different roles than what we are familiar with them playing. While not hitting the reader over the head with the normal fairy tale clichés normally found in this style of writing.
I would recommend this book for a boy (since it is told exclusively from Henery’s point of view) from 13-17.
9 Accelerated Reader Points
At the breakfast table Lizzy watches the words of her father’s morning newspaper swirl and coalesce into a headline announcing the death of her best friend. Fourtunately Bizzy, her larger than life grand mother has been watching her closely, and knows what is happening to Lizzy. She has grown into her inheritance, passed down from her ancestor Morgan le Fay, she has become a Death Catcher. Destined to stop the unjust and early deaths of people around her. Even more strange, her destiny is intertwined with Drake Westfall, the last descendant of King Arthur….
This was a really great read. The book is written as a defense paper to her English teacher, of “Why I should Pass English Even Though I Didn’t Turn In My Final Project“. The wry humor at the beginning of each chapter keeps the book from becoming to heavy or slow. It also (don’t tell the young readers) demonstrates concepts you would be taught in an English class; such as setting, mood, analysis or dialogue for example. This is a reinvention of the Arthurian Legend and prior knowledge of it is not required in order to read this book. The author does a great job of touching on key points and retelling it without it ever dragging or seeming out of place. I would recommend this to any girl needing something new to read.
12 AR points
This is a story about a girl who lives in a planned society. Where she is told what to wear, what to eat and what to dream. She is also told who she is going to marry, at her matching ceremony. A few days later she opens up the information on the boy she was matched with, only to see someone else's face on her display. This is not suppose to happen The Society does not make mistakes like this. She begins to question what she has always know and finds there is more to her world than she has ever thought possible.
This is a great book! It is fast paced with great characters this is a great introduction this type of fiction. I would recommend this to any YA reader looking for something new to read!
13 AR points
The sequel to Matched, it follows both Cassia and Ky in their search for each other in the outer provinces. Both also discover startling revelations about The Society and those who are fighting against it.
12 AR points
Sherlock Homes, Mr. Spock, Data and Grissom hang in spots of honor on Colin’s bedroom wall. Not because he likes Star Trek, CSI or adventures- but for the characters' cool use of logic and their completely rational minds, and their emotions are kept in check, since sentiment is not an advantage in solving problems. Colin’s own talents of observation and deduction are put to the test.
During lunch, a nine-millimeter hand gun goes off. While the gun is found, the culprit is not. However high school being high school, everyone knows Wayne Connelly is the one who brought the gun to school. He is a bully, a tough guy, and all around obnoxious to his fellow classmates. Even the police have zeroed in on him and believe he is the culprit. Colin knows Wayne is innocent and sets out to prove it.
Did I mention Wayne has terrorized Colin for years? And that while Colin’s powers of observation and intelligence are far superior to most people’s, he does have a couple of problems: he doesn't like the color blue, shrill noises and needs to use index cards with facial expressions drawn on them as cheat sheets to know what people are feeling….this mystery will push Colin beyond where anyone thought he could go.
I enjoyed read this book. It is Sherlock Holmes-meets Monk-meets Harriet the Spy. While it has bits from each of these, the voice of the story is unique and strong enough to keep those influences from ever becoming distracting.
I also enjoyed how the authors took situations in which you expect a stereotype to occur and fooling you by avoiding them. A prime example is Colin and his PE class. Colin has a note from his parents asking that he be excused from participating due to his Asperger’s Syndrome. However, the gym teacher is having none of it. This is where you expect of any number of fictional encounters with unpleasant and sadistic PE classes. Turning the situation on it’s head, in the class Colin learns how to throw a free throw by a teacher who is good at his job and listens to his students;
“There, Fischer," Mr. Turrentine said. His expression was blank. “Like that. You’re a damned basketball prodigy. Now retrieve your ball and get back in line.” Colin turned to chase after the basketball, then stopped as a thought occurred….”Mr. Turrentine,” he asked. “Are you God?” “No…I’m a gym teacher. I work for a living.”
I also enjoyed there was a back story which was alluded to (previous cases and enemies) but never fully explained. They give the book added depth and allowing for growth of the characters in what I hope will become a series. This is a great guy book (ages 11-15). Plus is has some great humor in it as well!
Is it a coincidence that Zora imagines the Gator King which lurks in the marshes just outside of Eatonville, waiting to devour human souls. While at the same time a decapitated man is found on the railroad tracks. While the two girls investigate the Gator King they stumble on secrets, racism and envy which lead them to the killer and save their town.
This is the only piece not written by Hurston herself to ever be endorsed by the Zora Neale Hurst Trust. Hurst was an influential novelist and anthropologist who was an important figure in the Harlem Renaissance during the 1920s and early 1930s. This book is told from Zora’s best friends point of view, Clairre who investigates with Zora.
It is a good book for kids around 13-16 years old.
5 Accelerated Reader points
2010 Edgar Nominated Book
On Mary Shane’s 17 birthday didn’t start out anything like she had hoped- waking up naked in a display bed in Crate & Barrel, with a monster hang over, bleeding and being gawked at through the windows. He day goes from bad to worse as it progresses, culminating in her own murder. But as they say, Death is only the beginning…. She returns and views her life through the eyes of seven people, all she discovers had plenty of reasons to want her dead. However only one actually pulled the trigger and she only has one chance to stop her own murder.
While I think this book has a great premise to it. It also does a great job in exposing the self-serving motivations people can have when dealing with each other. I think it would be a good example book if someone wanted to hold a mirror up to the reader’s actions and call them into question. Having said this, I must say this was my least favorite of the Edgar nominated books. I had a real problem connecting with Mary, she was so very shallow I found it very difficult to empathize with her as her plight worsened. There were other reasons I didn’t care for it, but this was my major issue.
I would recommend this book for a female reader from 16-18 years old.
2010 Edgar Nominated Book
14 Accelerated Reader Points
Hayley and Taylor Ryan share a special bond, one which goes beyond the normal identical twin relationship most come to expect. They share a supernatural bond, one which, among other things, allows them to know when an unexpected and unnatural death has occurred….. In this the second installment in Olsen’s young adult, Empty Coffin Series, Port Gamble is shocked when English exchange student, Olivia Grant, is stabbed to death during a Halloween party. Suspicion immediately falls on to the host Brianna and her boyfriend Drew, however they are not the only suspects….. Hayley and Taylor’s best friend, Beth Lee is under suspicion and they will need to work fast to help find the real killer. Gregg Olsen, keeping true to his true-crime roots, has produced a series which creates crime novels for YA readers ‘ripped from the headlines’ (similar to “Law & Order” style)-- in this installment the Amanda Knox case is at the fore front. However while the Knox case is the basis, Olsen has created new twists and turns in the book so you never feel distracted by it. The book also does a great job in furthering the mystery surrounding the twins themselves. What exactly is it they can do? How long have they had this affinity? Where does this knowledge come from? And who is after them? And why? The answers to these questions make me very interested in seeing where the next book (called Guilty) will take us next! I would recommend this to any YA reader looking for an easy beach read (or study break for those who are still in school). It is fast paced and action packed murder story with a touch of paranormal added in for spice. I would suggest it to female readers or open minded male readers -- as it switches perspectives often, however Hayley and Taylor are the dominant narrators. Ages 14 and up. [First book in the series, Envy, is now available in a softcover and Gregg will be signing copies of those as well!]
Vera Dietz has been in love with her best friend Charlie for as long as she can remember. So when he betrays their friendship and then dies under mysterious circumstances a short time afterwards she is conflicted. She has more pieces to the puzzle than the police, her friends and adults around her. However the decision to clear his name is a complicated one, which will bring to light more than just the circumstances of Charlie’s death. It will reveal what ultimately sent him down the path to this ending in the first place, taking all of Vera’s courage to see it through.I liked reading this novel. However it is a very real story touching on serious problems; drinking, abuse, abandonment and secrets we all keep and how they affect us. The writing is excellent and doesn’t succumb to teen melodrama while it tackles the grim realities of life.This is not a book for young reader, ages 16- and up I believe would enjoy this.10 Accelerated reader points.
A year has passed since the events in Lafayette Cemetery, where the Bowman Curse finally came to an end. Rebecca is back in NY and is cautiously happy when her father floats the idea of going back to New Orleans for spring break, while he works. This time will be different, with her best friend Ling coming with her, Rebecca is excited/trepidatious about returning to her other home again. A definite upside will be seeing Anton Grey….
However while texting the news to Anton, she runs into a boy with striking blue eyes, who saw her walking thru New Orleans the year before with Lisette…the ghost at the heart of the Bowman Curse. And he is asking for her help, to find a missing locket, otherwise he is staring down eternity as a ghost. If things weren’t complicated enough Toby (one of the families caught up in the curse), who blames Rebecca for what happened the previous year, is back in New Orleans and is looking for revenge. Since Lissette isn’t there to exact vengeance on (and since she was a ghost a bit difficult), Rebecca will just have to do.
This was an interesting follow up to Ruined, a book I read and loved last year. I enjoyed catching up with Rebecca, and enjoyed how the author was able to slide a new ghost into her life.
The only critique I have is - this installment had much stronger social commentary in it (how gentrification is a double edged sword, or volunteer opportunities and strategies available to people to help their cities), which was not as subtly or as deftly woven into the plot, and I think that detracted from the ultimate focus of the book, the ghost haunting New Orleans and Rebecca. Having said this, I did enjoy reading the book and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys atmospheric and slightly gothic ghost stories. I enjoyed the characters and returning to New Orleans with Rebecca.
And I cannot say enough great things about Paula’s treatment of ghosts and the conclusion of the story is absolutely fantastic. You do need to read Ruined first, otherwise the events in Unbroken will seem a bit disjointed and hard to follow.
I would recommend this for a female reader (sorry guys, it is told from Rebecca’s point of view exclusively), 10+.
Cassie’s mother taught her how to read people; their clothing, accessories, tastes and language. From a very early age her mother honed her natural talent for looking at people and understanding who they are and what they want. This helped her mother earn a living as a psychic/medium. This all came to a stop when Cassie was twelve, and discovered her mother’s empty dressing room and lots of blood. The police told her it was unlikely her mother survived the attack and her body has yet to be found. Five years later Cassie is approached by the FBI; somehow her talent has attracted their attention, and they want her to join a very special program. The Naturals, a handful of other teens with similar(ish) abilities have been gathered to help solve both cold and current cases. The team’s talents are put to the test when a killer mimicking Cassie’s mother’s disappearance targets her in a strange game of cat and mouse. This book was a quick and solid read, drawing teens into a world often seen on television; “Lie To Me“, “Criminal Minds“, “Profiler“, “The Mentalist“, “Psych“ without the madcap humor. While you can see these influences, they are not distracting - they add layers to this well documented (at least in fiction) phenomenon. I liked the fact that while Cassie can read your history thru your clothes, actions and such, applying this knowledge to her own life doesn’t work. Her own heart is a mystery to her, posing a problem when she entangles herself in a love triangle. In addition, the other Naturals are an interesting group to read about - the statistician (who should never be given coffee), the liar (has no love for Cassie), profiler (who has a dark secret of his own) and an emotional reader (who loves to make you uncomfortable). The Naturals is a straight suspense crime novel filled with twists and turns you expect to find in this genre. I enjoyed reading it, and look forward to the next installment in the series. I would recommend this to a female reader 15+ (there are several very strong male characters in the book, and if you have an open minded male reader they may like it) since it is told exclusively from Cassie’s point of view. If you are looking for a fun Christmas present (as this book comes out in November) I would recommend it as a good holiday break read.
There are three types of Others in the world: Weres, Demons and the Darkest Others, Vampires. Weres are only dangerous around the full moon, if they can’t afford the anti-change drugs available on the black market (being a were-chicken, raccoon or skunk, well, many people find all sorts of ways to come up with the money for these drugs. Surprisingly enough actual werewolves are rare). Being a demon is a catch-all term, meaning whatever law enforcement want it to mean, mostly you are not human enough for them (although I think the fallen angels would be offended if stuck with this label). Vampires? Well, they are the only ones who are unable to conceal what they are, and the only ones who are universally outlawed. This is why the Voodoo wars started; vampires were tired of being persecuted and fought back. Ultimately they lost the war, but at a great cost to humans. One of the remnants of the war are bad spots, places which feel wrong, evil, places you just never venture to. One sits directly behind the mansion where Sunshine is being held, an unwilling meal for a vampire who is in worse shape than she is. This is one of my all time favorite books, and one of the best vampire stories I have read. I enjoy the fact that the characters have backstories which are alluded to, however not always fully explained., thereby allowing you to guess, assume or just flat wonder if they really are good guys or bad guys. You are dropped into the story in the middle of the events and you take off from there, learning quickly what is going on through the dribs and drabs of information slowly doled out thru the book. It is a great method for telling a story. I enjoy the fact, again, the vampires are portrayed as being evil, other, alien, predators. Even Constantine, a sort of ally, isn’t an angel nor does he pretend to be. I love the fact that Sunshine isn’t a victim. Sarcastic, bitchy, stubborn and interesting, yes, but a victim no. I cannot say enough good things about this book. It has been out for ten years, and I have read many other books with vampires in them during this time, and I still think that Robin McKinley nailed it. Her reluctant heroine, iffy ally and evil nemesis are still a compelling read after all this time. If you haven’t read it, you should.
“Can u pick up milk on ur way home?”, an seemingly innocent text Kari received from her folks. However when you parents are spies and work for the Agency…well things are not always as they seem. In this case? Definitely not. This single text propels Kari and her brother Charlie (a 7yr old adorable genius) to go on the run. They discover their parents are being hunted, declared to be traitors by the very Agency they have worked for, for years. Together with her friends, Kari devises a daring strategy to clear her parents’ name and get their live back. All they have to do is break into the Agency…. This is a spy thriller, or an action movie in book form. It does an excellent job in consistently keeping the plot moving forward, it never drags. Hitting all the notes you are looking for in a spy thriller, close escapes, disguises, chase scenes, a mysterious stranger and double agents. This book is never dull. Two Lies and a Spy does a great job in giving a definite resolution to this story, without frustrating the reader by ending on a huge cliffhanger, while piquing your interest for the next book. I will be interested to see where the sequel takes these plots, as this book has set up a number of complicated and interesting story arcs which show real promise for future books. I would recommend this book for a girl (or open minded boy) 13-14 years old; who is looking for a fun and easy read after finishing their homework.