Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sci-Fi Thriller

The Gardener
The Gardener
by S.A. Bodeen
R.R. Donnelley and Sons Company, 2010.
232 pages

Following close on the heels of her runaway YA hit novel The Compound, S.A. Bodeen has managed to do it again! She continues to write a taut sci-fi thriller that has technology, genetics, medical ethics, moral issues, and a great story. This page-turner will keep even the most reluctant reader interested. This is a must-read--and would make a great Hollywood movie.

Mason knows there are secrets his mother is keeping from him, but he has no idea how complex the secrets are until the reality explodes in his face. After an accidental encounter with a patient at his mother's workplace, Mason finds himself rescuing the strangely beautiful girl--a girl with no memory and no past. As he gets deeper into the mystery, serious doubts about his own mother's past, including her Master's degree from Duke and her past employment with a large laboratory TroDyn, complicate their own safety.

What Mason finds is unbelievable and will change his life forever. What would you do to save someone?

Highly recommended for all YA collections grades 7 and up.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I purchased this book for my middle school library. I received no monetary compensation for this review.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Paranormal Pick

The Haunted (The Hollow, Book 2)
The Haunted (Book two, The Hollow Trilogy)
by Jessica Verday
Simon Pulse (Simon & Shuster), 2010
467 pages

Abbey returns home to Sleepy Hollow after a couple of months at her aunt's farmhouse trying to gather her sanity after the death of her best friend.

Thinking she's safe to return home, Abbey tries to get back to normal and begins to be tutored by her science partner Ben. That's during her waking hours. Her sleep is still tortured by weird dreams of Caspian--another love. He simply won't leave her alone. But that's not the worst of it--Caspian can never be with Abbey because he is already dead--a ghost only Abbey can see. Can she ever be happy stuck between two worlds?

Readers who like a gothic love story will like this one; however, book one, The Hollow, should be read first.

Recommended grades 9-12.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for my review.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ghostly Pick

Three Quarters DeadThree Quarters Dead
by Richard Peck
Dial Books (Penguin), 2010.
208 pages

Sophomore Kerry Williamson doesn't fit in. She sits alone at the end of a lunch table where three fabulous, popular girls gather for lunch. Kerry eavesdrops on their conversations, longing to be like them. Tanya is the queen of all; she rules the group. She is perfect--from her flawless skin to her long blond tresses.

When Tanya invites Kerry to sit with them, Kerry fells like it's a dream come true and she can't believe her good fortune. She is suddenly living the part of a popular girl, that is...until a terrible accident ruins everything. Time passes. Seasons change. And then out of nowhere...Kerry gets a text message from Tanya.

She's thrilled. Maybe all these months she has been stuck in a bad dream. Three Quarters Dead is a great high school clique novel with a ghoulish twist. Honestly, readers won't be able to put this one down. Anyone who loves a ghost story or a thriller will love this book. Peck is a masterful storyteller.

Highly recommended. Grades 7 and up.
Publishing release: October 26, 2010

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this ARC in a box sent to me from a fellow librarian. I received no monetary compensation for my review.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

YA Pick

Gimme a Call (Magic in Manhattan)

Gimme A Call
by Sarah Mlynowski
Delacorte Press, 2010
301 pages

What a "novel" idea for a ya novel! In one of the freshest and funniest books of the year, Devorah (Devi) Banks has a real chance to change her past and her future! After dropping her cell phone in the mall fountain, Devi finds it only calls one number--hers. But it isn't calling her today--it's calling her in the past. Senior Devi realizes that she is calling her freshman self.

She's wasted the last three years of high school going steady with Bryan. Now she wants to warn her freshman self to stay away from him. Freshman Devi won't listen and is only convinced when future Devi tells her secrets that no one else could know. Freshman Devi is quite funny, but senior Devi is funny and insightful--or maybe hindsightful--no such word, I know. Of course, she's lived the past three years and can figure out what to do and what not to do to change her future.

When future Devi convinces freshman Devi, their worlds are turned upside down. Great fun!

The cover art seems an odd choice. Unless the intent was "less is more," I would say that the odd use of white space is ineffective. Teens will likely not be drawn to the cover, and that's a shame. They will miss a treasure of a book.

Recommended for ya collections grades 7-12.

FTC Disclaimer: I bought this book for my library and received no monetary compensation for this review.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Graphic Pick

SilverFin: The Graphic Novel (A James Bond Adventure) (Young Bond)
Silverfin: A James Bond Adventure
by Charlie Higson & Kev Walker
Disney (Hyperion Books), 2010 (American publication date)
160 pages (graphic novel)

Beautifully illustrated in full color, the action will keep the pages turning. Young James Bond arrives at Eton for the school year. He is immediately sought to compete in a triathlon with American kid, George Hellebore.

Young James travels to Scotland to see his Uncle Max, who just happened to be a spy--and he warns his nephew against becoming a spy. There's something in the water at Loch Silverfin, and it's up to James to figure out what it is and destroy it. Of course, George Hellebore and his evil father also show up in Scotland.

Readers will love reading about the boy James Bond--when he's young and still vulnerable. Great storytelling and fantastic graphic format. Reluctant readers will be drawn to this books.

Recommended for graphic collections grade 7-up.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from another librarian who receives ARCs from publishers. I was not influnced by this fact and it does not impact this review in any way. I received no monetary compensation for my review.

Friday, September 17, 2010

High School: Mean Girls Pick

The Debs: Love, Lies and Texas Dips

The Debs: Love, Lies, and Texas Dips
by Susan McBride
Delacourte Press, 2009
293 pages

Think Mean Girls with a Texas swagger and a Houston drawl. The storyline follows four debutantes as they prepare to be Rosebuds--the creme de la creme of Houston's country club set.

There's Jo Lynn, spoiled, pampered, beautiful, cunning, and two-faced. Jo Lynn--the girl with an eye for designer duds and Vera Wang dresses. Jo Lynn--the girl with the perfect quarterback boyfriend who dreams of quarterbacking at Texas Tech.

There's Mac, the nice girl.

There's Laura, the girl who always has to be second best to Miss Perfect, Jo Lynn.

There's Ginger, granddaughter of one of the staunchest debs in memory. Ginger--who has to maintain the family name.

The drama unfolds as the girls prepare to be presented at the event of Houston society: The Rosebud Ball.

What happens when false rumors are posted on myspace? Will someone have to step down?

Girls who love gossip and drama will love this read. It's like Gossip Girl, Texas style.

As a good ol' Texas girl myself, I enjoyed looking at how the uber-wealthy live.

NOT RECOMMENDED FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL. Recommended for grades 10-12.
Sex, some language, adult situations.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from a fellow librarian. I received no monetary compensation for this review.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

YA Pick

I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to be Your Class President

I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want To Be Your Class President
by Josh Lieb
Razorbill (Penguin), 2009.
302 pages

This debut novel for young adults by screenwriter Josh Lieb whose credits include t.v. shows The Simpsons, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and NewsRadio is hilarious! Readers who liked the Wimpy Kid series will probably eat this up.

Oliver is not just your ordinary middle school kid. He really is a genius of unspeakable evil and he really does want to be the class president. He takes $500.00 in bingo winnings and invests in stock--soon he finds himself a billionaire. But, everyone knows a kid can't buy and sell stocks or companies or take over the world until he's at least 18 years old. Oliver finds a "patsy" to act as the head of his company: Sheldrake Industires.

Running for class president proves harder than running a billion dollar corporation. Middle school is not for the faint of heart! Snarky comments and funny illustrations with Oliver's footnotes on almost every page make this book memorable.

Highly recommended grades 6-12. Anyone with a sense of humor should enjoy this book.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I bought this novel for my middle school library. I received no monetary compensation for my review.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

High School Pick

Rikers High
Riker's High
by Paul Volponi
Viking (Penguin), 2010
246 pages

Gritty and disturbing, Riker's High follows a few weeks in the troubled life of Martin--Prisoner #40 at Riker's High, a dentention center for minors. Martin is in for a minor criminal offense, but thanks to an insane youth criminal system--one that gives him a "free" lawyer who won't listen to him, who tells him he's guilty though he assures her he's innocent, who sends him back to jail because she tells the judge she's not ready--the same lawyer who won't answer the phone even though Martin calls nearly 100 times. A system where on the next attempt, the judge is sick and Martin's trial is moved another two weeks. Martin is at the end of his rope.Surviving in a detention center is no easy feat. It's rougher inside that out on the streets with the gangs.

The world of Riker's High is a warped one--where there are no rules and even the good guys aren't the good guys. Readers won't easily forget this novel. Volponi shows us the youth criminal system in all its ugliness.

Violence, language, prison sex, suicide.
Not recommended for collections under grade 9.
Recommended for grades 10-12.

FTC Disclosure: I originally bought this book for my middle school library since it had good reviews from library publications. One said okay for grade 8. After reading it and reviewing it, I sent my copy to the high school. I received no monetary compensation for my review.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Paranormal Pick

13 Treasures
13 Treasures
by Michelle Harrison
Little, Brown and Company, 2010.
355 pages

A remarkable debut novel from a new voice across the pond (England). 13 Treasures is truly a treasure of a book. Tanya's mother forces her to go to her grandmother's spooky family estate far from the city. Tanya thinks the old mansion is creepy and overgrown and especially can't stand being around Fabian, the estate manager's son. At least her mother allowed her to take her trusted dog Oberon with her.

Soon, the house's dark side is revealed and Tanya is given a charm bracelet with 13 weird charms. A gypsy woman, considered a witch by townsfolk, gives Tanya a strange compass that seems to be broken.

Fairies, good and bad, want Tanya to come to Hangman's Wood. With Fabian's help, Tanya hopes to solve her family's mystery and fix its tainted past and free herself forever from the fairies.

Harrison has a gift for setting and tone. For example when describing Tickey End (love that name for a town) Harrison writes, "It was also the kind of town where everybody knew everybody, and if you were a stranger curtains would twitch as you walked past."

Masterful storytelling! 13 Treasures is a quick read--a real page-turner. Readers who love mystery, gothic elements, fairy tales, and things that go bump in the night will love this tale.

Highly, highly recommended: grades 6-10.

FTC Required Disclosure: I bought this book for my middle school library. I received no monetary compensation for this review.

Funny Pick

Dork Diaries 2: Tales from a Not-So-Popular Party Girl

Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not-So-Popular Party Girl
by Rachel Renee Russell
Aladdin, 2010
279 pages, with illustrations.

Readers familiar with Nikki will welcome her back. This second installment is equally as funny as the first book.

Nikki finds herself in a dilemma: she has a date for the dance with oh-so-hot Brandon, a plan to meet her two best friends and dress alike for the Halloween party, and has a job face-painting young ballerinas at their ballet Halloween party. How will she do all three things in three places at the same time?

Nikki is hilarious in how she handles her problem, and the outcome is satisfying. Girls will love this book. Laugh out loud funny, sarcastic and snarky Nikki is such a dork that you have to love her!

Highly recommended grades 5-9.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I ordered this book from a book jobber for my library. I received no monetary compensation for this review.

It's a Girl Thing

Sweet Treats & Secret Crushes
Sweet Treats & Secret Crushes
by Lisa Greenwald
Amulet Books, 2010
291 pages.

Three friends find out how important being a true friend is when a blizzard keeps them standed inside their apartment building on Valentine's Day. The largest blizzard to hit New York City in twenty years threatens to ruin the big day unless Olivia, Kate and Georgia can figure out a way to keep busy, make friends, spread cheer among the apartment tenants, and exchange valentines with each of their "boyfriends."

Georgia Chen has the answer. Her family owns the Chinese restaurant on the ground floor. Chen's has been known for its lavish Valentine's Day dinners in the past, but the blizzard threatens not only to close them down for the day, but their prepared food will go to waste. The girls agree to write fortunes and make fortune cookies. The plan is to distribute them to the tenants of the building. Only Olivia knows that the fortune cookies from Chen's actually do foretell a person's future fortune. She has a plan to give the best cookies to the people who really need them.

The author's previous book My Life in Pink and Green was a crowd pleaser. Girls who liked The Teashop Girls or Coffeehouse Angel will probably like this novel. Recommended for grades 5-8.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I got the ARC from the publisher. I received no monetary compensation for my review and was not influenced by the publisher in any way.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Paranormal Pick

Wings (Aprilynne Pike (Quality))
by Aprilynne Pike
Harper Teen (Harper Collins Publishers)
293 pages

Fellow Utah native Stephenie Meyer, says of author Aprilynne Pike's novel, "Wings is a remarkable debut."

It is a truly unique novel that had this reviewer engaged from the moment I picked it up. You think you know all about fairies, trolls, King Arhur, Merlin and Avalon, but then you read Wings.

Highly readable and thoroughly engaging, paranormal and romance fans will love this book. Readers may believe in fairies after meeting Laurel--just a normal girl who happens to be home schooled and never has seen a doctor. Oh, and Laurel never remembers being injured or bleeding either. The truth is--Laurel doesn't have red blood at all--she discovers her cells are actually plant cells. If that isn't strange enough, she soon encounters others like her and must choose between her "human" life and a life with the fairies.

Recommended for YA collections grades 8-up. Some violence--but it's against trolls, not humans.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from a fellow librarian who gets ARCs from publishers. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Realistic Fiction-YA Pick

Heart to Heart
by Lurlene McDaniel
Delacourt Press, 2010
214 pages
Heart to Heart (Lurlene McDaniel)

Elowyn and Kassay have been best friends--nearly sisters--since seventh grade. Kassey practically lives at Elowyn's house--a huge mansion with BOTH parents at home--parents who dote on their only daughter and her best friend. Kassey, on the other hand, comes from a quiet home where her mother works long hours and her father has been an absent parent ever since the divorce. It's no wonder, then, that Kassey is invited to go on every vacation with Elowyn.

The friends are insepearable in high school--a force to be reckoned with on the varsity volleyball team. That is until Elowyn gets a boyfriend. Kassey feels like a fifth wheel but continues to support her friend Elowyn. On her sixteenth birthday Elowyn gets a new car. Everything is great until Elowyn has a fight with her boyfriend and crashes her car.

Elowyn survives the accident but never regains consciousness. Since she filled out the organ donor section on her license, her parents decide to donate her organs in the hopes that someone's life will be made better by Elowyn's death.

Arabeth is sixteen and needs a heart. Born with a diseased heart, she has lived a life of loneliness--having been home schooled and much too sick to attend public school or even play with other kids. Arabeth's life is changed when the phone call comes in that there is a heart available for her. After her transplant, Arabeth doesn't quite feel right. She begins to like things she never has before--lilacs and French countryside decor, for example--the things that her donor--Elowyn--loved. Is there such a thing as "cellular memory?" Can an organ- a heart-carry memories of its donor?

Heart to Heart is a poignant tale of friendship, love, loss, and life regained. Highly recommended for teens.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book in a box sent to me by another librarian. She gets many ARCs from publishers. In no way did this influence my review of this novel.