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Archive for March, 2014

Rose and the Lost Princess by Holly Webb

Posted by Caitie F on March 30, 2014

Title: Rose and the Lost Princess
Author: Holly Webb
Hardcover: 256 pages
Pub Date: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Rating: ++++

Summary from pub:

Now an apprentice magician, Rose is asked to help find a very special missing person

Turning the worn pages of her spell book, Rose can’t believe how much her life has changed. Once a poor orphan, she is now an apprentice to the king’s chief magician. But when the country’s beloved princess vanishes, everything changes. As rumors of dark magic fly through the city, the king asks Rose for help. She must find the missing princess, before all is lost.

Review:

I adored the first book in this series, so I was hoping that this book would be just as good. My expectations were a little high for the second book in the series.

It is still very good. Rose is wonderful, the setting is great, and there is still a talking cat. The issue I had was that parts of the book, especially the ending, felt very rushed. The story was still entertaining and I still enjoyed reading it. There is a lot of tension between the magical and not magical and the slow build was perfect, which might be part of the reason other plots felt rushed.

The story is very good, there is a lot of mystery and suspense. This series feels very middle grade, which is not a bad thing. Reading it as an adult, it is easy to figure out what will matter later in the story. I wonder if younger readers will pick up on that so quickly too.

This was a good second book and I will still read the series, but it wasn’t as good as the first. The first was completely self-contained while this felt like it said “to be continued. . .” at the end. .

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Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

Posted by Caitie F on March 25, 2014

Title: Hyperbole and a Half17571564
Author: Allie Brosh
Paperback:: 384
Pub Date: Oct 29, 2013
Publisher: Touchstone
Rating: +++++

Summary from pub:

This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative–like maybe someone who isn’t me wrote it–but I soon discovered that I’m not sneaky enough to pull it off convincingly. So I decided to just make a list of things that are in the book:

Pictures

Words

Stories about things that happened to me

Stories about things that happened to other people because of me

Eight billion dollars*

Stories about dogs

The secret to eternal happiness*

*These are lies. Perhaps I have underestimated my sneakiness

 

Review:

I never read Allie Brosh’s blog, but I was familiar with her art, I have seen the clean all the things image in that form and many others. I went into this book knowing not very much.

And I loved it. It was funny. It was smart. It was a little heart-breaking.

It has an insightful look at depression. Of course it isn’t how everyone experiences depressions, but it showed how it can affect a person. These serious chapters made the book. Otherwise, it would have just been a silly book of stories about her dog. Instead, it is one of the best books of the year.

There are a lot of really funny stories about her dog. There were times I had tears streaming down my cheeks from laughing so hard.

Everyone older teenager and adult should read this book.

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Under the Egg by Laura Marz Fitzgerald

Posted by Caitie F on March 18, 2014

Title: Under the Eggunder the egg
Author: Laura Marz Fitzgerald
Hardcover: 256 pages
Pub Date: March 18, 2014
Publisher: Dial
Rating: ++++

Summary from pub:

When Theodora Tenpenny spills a bottle of rubbing alcohol on her late grandfather’s painting, she discovers what seems to be an old Renaissance masterpiece underneath. That’s great news for Theo, who’s struggling to hang onto her family’s two-hundred-year-old townhouse and support her unstable mother on her grandfather’s legacy of $463. There’s just one problem: Theo’s grandfather was a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and she worries the painting may be stolen.

With the help of some unusual new friends, Theo’s search for answers takes her all around Manhattan, and introduces her to a side of the city—and her grandfather—that she never knew. To solve the mystery, she’ll have to abandon her hard-won self-reliance and build a community, one serendipitous friendship at a time

Review:

Under the Egg is a mystery that takes place in New York City that combines a great character, some art, and a little history to make for one of the best middle grade books of the year.

Theo is wonderful. Her grandfather just passed away and she is taking care of everything as her mother is unstable. She is smart and always paid attention when her grandfather showed her the art of the city, which comes in handy when she tries to figure out where this painting came from and if her grandfather stole it. She is persistent and brave, which comes in handy many times.

She learns that she can’t do it on her own and starts making many friends that can help her. It does a great job of showing that even the strongest and smartest need to let other people ni sometimes.

There is a lots of talk of art in this book, so if you have a middle grade reader, be ready for them to ask to go to an art museum sometime. It can make even the least interested person want to see more!

This book also shows a history of World War II that isn’t taught in schools.History buffs will love to learn more about what happened in the war and science kids will love to see how they remove paints and date painting. This book truly has something for everyone.

I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a middle grade mystery that also has a lot of heart.

 

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Saving Baby Doe by Danette Vigilante

Posted by Caitie F on March 16, 2014

Title: Saving Baby Doesaving baby doe
Author: Danette Vigilante
Pub Date: Mar 20, 2014
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Rating: ++++

Summary from pub:

ionel and Anisa are the best of friends and have seen each other through some pretty tough times–Anisa’s dad died and Lionel’s dad left, which is like a death for Lionel. They stick together no matter what. So when Lionel suggests a detour through a local construction site on their way home, Anisa doesn’t say no.

And that’s where Lionel and Anisa make a startling discovery–a baby abandoned in a port-o-potty. Anisa and Lionel spring into action. And in saving Baby Doe, they end up saving so much more.

Review:

There have been many discussions about needed more diversity in YA books and I agree completely. This is a very diverse world and everyone should be able to find books that relate to their lives, especially young teenagers. There aren’t many books about teens living in the projects and I am so glad I found this one. Teens should see their situations in books.

I also think it is very important for young teens to read stories about kids that are much different than themselves. It helps everyone understand each other better and really can put things into perspective.

This book will pull at your heart so many times. I found myself tearing up at several moments and getting mad at our systems in place even more.

These kids is this book are caring people who do the right thing and get in trouble for it because of where they live and how they look. A humiliating thing is done by the hospital to the girl and I was so angry that it would happen in this country.

This book looks at so many issues facing teens today – poverty, absent parents, teen pregnancy, drugs, violence, death, and so much more but it is not an issue book. It is a book about people and the things they face every day.It doesn’t get preachy. There is one character that tries to help Lionel and gives advice, but it still is written in a way that makes it feel like it doesn’t preach.

What this book does best is that It shows both teens and adults as they are; some are good, some are bad, but most are just very complex people trying to do what they can for those that they love.

This book will not leave my mind any time soon and that is a great thing. I hope we see many more books like this in the young adult market.

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Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Posted by Caitie F on March 13, 2014

Title: Side Effects May Vary side effects
Author: Julie Murphy
Hardcover: 304 pages
Pub Date: Mar 18, 2014
Publisher: Balzar + Bray
Rating: ++

Summary from pub:

The Fault in Our Stars meets Sarah Dessen in this lyrical novel about a girl with cancer who creates a take-no-prisoners bucket list that sets off a war at school—only to discover she’s gone into remission.

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs. So she convinces her best friend to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge as it is about hope. But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission, and now she must face the consequences of all she’s said and done.

Review:

When I read the description of the book, I was really excited. It sounded like a unique story with a fresh voice. Yet I was also wary because there was a comparison to John Green and when books get compared to my favorites, they rarely live up to it.

This one wasn’t even close. I didn’t care about any of the characters at all. Frankly, Alice was a bitch. She was one before she got cancer and she was one after too. Does she change throughout the book? Yes, but she always goes back to just being nasty and she constantly blames other people for it. She is so self-centered and is the perfect example of how you shouldn’t act.

Harvey was a good person, but he was so dense and naive that I didn’t care about his chapters either. I loved that he cares about people, but his entire world revolved around one person who treated him like shit. That made the caring about others seem so fake and ingenuine. I hate the term “friendzone” but that is what it felt like he thought he was in. If only he could do more, then she would finally love him. It is just not my kind of character.

I don’t have to like characters to like a story, in fact I enjoy stories with unlikable characters. I have to care about something in it and I just didn’t. The only reason I even finished the book is that I thought it might have an awesome ending. The ending was just okay.

While the premise was cool and the writing was fine, this book was a big miss for me. Have you read any books lately that you thought you would love and didn’t? I think a big reason I didn’t like it is the phrase “The Fault in Our Stars meets Sarah Dessen”. Those are two of my favorites and it put my expectations way too high going into this book.

 

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The Secret Side of Empty by Maria Andreu

Posted by Caitie F on March 12, 2014

Title: The Secret Side of Emptysecret
Author: Maria Andreu
Hardcover: 336 pages
Pub Date: March 11, 2014
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Rating: +++++

Summary from pub:

What’s it like to be undocumented?  High school senior M.T. knows all too well.  With graduation and an uncertain future looming, she must figure out how to grow up in the only country she’s ever called home… a country in which she’s “illegal.”

M.T. was born in Argentina and brought to America as a baby without any official papers. And as questions of college, work, and the future arise, M.T. will have to decide what exactly she wants for herself, knowing someone she loves will unavoidably pay the price for it.  On the way, M.T. must navigate first love, letting go of her childhood friends as they begin a life she can’t share, a difficult relationship with a father who grew up a world away and a mother struggling to find her way in America.  What is it like when the only country you’ve ever known says you don’t belong?  The Secret Side of Empty offers an intimate, often surprising glimpse into a story you often hear on the news but have never heard told this way before.

Review:

This book. This is the book we have been waiting for in young adult realistic fiction. It is a book that will change opinions and change lives. It tells a story that needs to be told and needs to be read.

There is so many stories on the news about illegal immigrants and they can be very judgemental and not look at the actual people involved. This shows what it can be like for a teenager going into adulthood trying to figure out how to live.

It is powerful and moving, and it is also just a wonderful story. M.T. has to try to protect her family, while figuring out what her options are. She has to sit and listen to fellow classmates talk about illegals like they aren’t people with lives and problems. She also falls in love and tries to enjoy it and just let some of all the crap in her life go and be in the moment.

Everything in this book is wonderful. I love that there is so much with her family. Her mother ended up being my second favorite character. They all deal with their situation in a different way. I didn’t always like what some of them did, but the reader really sees why and how it happened.

This is truly a novel that can change how some people see the world they live in. It will challenge your assumptions and it is a book that can show a side of life that most of us cannot even imagine.

I hope a lot of people read this, especially teenagers. It is one of the best young adult novels I have ever read.

 

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Ask Again Later by Liz Czukas

Posted by Caitie F on March 11, 2014

Title: Ask Again Laterask
Author: Liz Czukas
Paperback: 336 pages
Pub Date: March 11, 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen
Rating: ++++

Summary from pub:

Despite what her name might suggest, Heart has zero interest in complicated romance. So when her brilliant plan to go to prom with a group of friends is disrupted by two surprise invites, Heart knows there’s only one drama-free solution: flip a coin.

Heads: The jock. He might spend all night staring at his ex or throw up in the limo, but how bad can her brother’s best friend really be?

Tails: The theater geek…with a secret. What could be better than a guy who shares all Heart’s interests–even if he wants to share all his feelings?

Heart’s simple coin flip has somehow given her the chance to live out both dates. But where her prom night ends up might be the most surprising thing of all..

Review:

This is such a fun and clever romance surrounding the most over-hyped night in high school – prom.

Heart gets two invitations to prom from guys she is not interested in, so she decides who to go with with a flip of a coin. Instead, she gets to experience both.

The chapters go back and forth between the two versions of her night and it is really a cool way to tell the story. I love it when you see the two groups she would be with intersect and how they react to what has happened to her. There is a point when both nights intersect into one story line, showing that really, it didn’t matter who she went with, what mattered is where she ended up.

This isn’t a groundbreaking book or anything, but it is a lot of fun and if you want to read a sweet prom romance, go get it!

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The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain

Posted by Caitie F on March 9, 2014

Title: The Shadow Princeshadow
Author: Bree Despain
Hardcover: 512 pages
Pub Date: March 11, 2014
Publisher: Egmont
Rating: +++++

Summary from pub:

Haden Lord, the disgraced prince of the Underrealm, has been sent to the mortal world to entice a girl into returning with him to the land of the dead. Posing as a student at Olympus Hills High—a haven for children of the rich and famous—Haden must single out the one girl rumored to be able to restore immortality to his race.

Daphne Raines has dreams much bigger than her tiny southern Utah town, so when her rock star dad suddenly reappears, offering her full tuition to Olympus Hills High’s prestigious music program, she sees an opportunity to catch the break she needs to make it as a singer. But upon moving into her estranged father’s mansion in California, and attending her glamorous new school, Daphne soon realizes she isn’t the only student in Olympus who doesn’t quite belong.

Haden and Daphne—destined for each other—know nothing of the true stakes their fated courtship entails. As war between the gods brews, the teenagers’ lives collide. But Daphne won’t be wooed easily and when it seems their prophesied link could happen, Haden realizes something he never intended—he’s fallen in love. Now to save themselves, Haden and Daphne must rewrite their destinies. But as their destinies change, so do the fates of both their worlds

Review:

I love a good retelling, especially when they are retellings of Greek mythology and this retelling is a wonderful twist on my favorite myth – Hades and Persephone.

Haden has a LOT to prove on his quest and Daphne does not make it easy for him. She is not a pushover and is not interested when he tells her to come with him. Mostly, she just tries to stay away from this creepy guy, and is more interested in befriending Tobin and finding out more about the disappearing girls, including his sister. She is so strong and wants what she wants and will let nothing get in her way. Too bad most people around her have made a deal for their riches and their fame, which makes everything more complicated.

This book is told from two perspectives which I love. It seems to be something you either love or hate, but I thought it was done so well. I liked knowing more than the characters and seeing how Haden would tell Daphne his true purpose. It builds the tension for the reader and makes for a more interesting read.

Daphne was the best character in the book and made it worth reading still the couple times it got a little slow.

This is just the first in the series and I am so excited to read more, especially with that ending!

 

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Half Bad by Sally Green

Posted by Caitie F on March 7, 2014

Title: Half Bad18079804
Author: Sally Green
Hardcover: 416 pages
Pub Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Rating: +++++

Summary from pub:

In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and fifteen-year-old Nathan, who is both. Nathan’s father is the world’s most powerful and cruel Black witch, and his mother is dead. He is hunted from all sides. Trapped in a cage, beaten and handcuffed, Nathan must escape before his sixteenth birthday, at which point he will receive three gifts from his father and come into his own as a witch—or else he will die. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust—not even family, not even the girl he loves?

Review:

I find it so hard to believe this is a debut, but it is. This wonderful, incredibly written, complex, exciting, and horrifying novel is the first thing author Sally Green has had published. Every fantasy book I read for the rest of the year will be compared to this.

This is not a book for the faint of heart. It is gruesome and sad. At times, it is a very dark book. Yet Nathan is not a dark character. Nathan is an outcast, but Nathan remains hopeful and strong. The white witches can’t trust him because he is half-black witch and if he reached out to the black witches, well, he doesn’t know what would happen but it probably wouldn’t be good. They do murder quite often and his father is the biggest baddest witch of all. Of course the white witches are not synonymous with good and people are never what they seem to be on the outside.

You can read this as a parallel for so many things. There are the simple things like being the only stepchild in a family, having a disability, or being the weird kid. You can also see it as tackling bigger issues as immigration, racial relations or child abuse and its consequences. The author meant it to be a story, but it will make you think about many of these things.

This is the type of fantasy book I have been waiting for. The battle between “good” and “evil”. A teenager stuck in the middle who goes through hell. The witches.

The second book does not come out until at least next year and I am waiting eagerly to read more. This is a great book for anyone who likes fantasy, horror, or just great stories with wonderful writing.

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Panic by Lauren Oliver

Posted by Caitie F on March 4, 2014

Title: PanicPanic_HC_JKT_des4.indd
Author: Lauren Oliver
Hardcover: 416 pages
Pub Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Harper Collins
Rating: ++++

Summary from pub:

Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most

Review:

When I read the description, I thought that this book looked like it would be okay. People doing crazy and dangerous things isn’t really my speed. Well, I was just wrong.

This book surprised me. I have read a couple books lately that really look at a more diverse range of income. Young adult characters tend to be middle or upper class, while many readers are not in either group. It bring a fresh and much needed voice to the young adult market and that is what took this book from good to great.

Everyone has a reason for being in the Panic and not many of them are it in for the glory. Some need the money. Some need revenge. All need to win and it is very dangerous.

This book isn’t just about these stunts and competitions, it is about the people and the desperation they feel to make their lives better. I was so invested in Heather and Dodge and wanting them to succeed, especially Dodge. He didn’t always do the right thing. In fact, he did some VERY wrong things, but it is hard to blame him.

Panic made me cheer and it made me cry. It was a wonderful read and I can’t wait to see what everyone else thinks.

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