Thursday, September 27, 2012

High School Pick: The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls


The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls
by Julie Schumacher
Delacourte Press
2012
227 pages

Forced into a mother-daughter book club, four very different girls have to spend time together. CeeCee would probably never talk to Adrienne or Jill, but because of a teeny tiny car accident, she’s being punished.

Adrienne feels as if she’s being punished by her mother. Her mother seems distant and argumentative. Adrienne has never known her father, and feels neglected by someone who’s never even seen her. When she tries to get answers out of her mother, her mother answers questions with other questions. Their household is entirely dysfunctional. Adrienne breaks a few rules and curfew, but she’s still a quiet girl with her head on straight. The same can’t be said for other members of the dysfunctional book club.

Wallis is an enigma to the other girls. She lives in the woods, but no one has ever been to her house. Her mother never attends the book club, and Wallis always has an excuse for her absence. The other mothers seem worried but it never occurs to them to investigate.

The book club decides to read only books by women authors and begin with a short story “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Then they read Frankenstein and question whether the monster is good or bad; they finish with The Left Hand of Darkness. No wonder the girls were bored, and confused! What a weird list of books/stories to read! No wonder they called the club Unbearable!

A few poignant moments when I almost loved CeeCee, and readers will probably like Adrienne and be stumped by Wallis’s “problems.” Jill is the most “normal” character of them all. Girls with mother problems will empathize with Adrienne.

Recommended grades 8-up. Some mature topics and talk. No details. The terms lesbian, slut and hermaphrodite are used in girls’ conversations. Not for younger readers.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I purchased this book for my library. Caution: I used Follett’s advice on grade level. Actually, I think grades 8 and up. Parents of middle school may not want to answer questions about hermaphrodites.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Book Giveaway: Recipe For Trouble


I have ONE copy of Recipe For Trouble. Win your free copy of this fun new tween read complete with tween friendly recipes!

Post a comment on the blog. Please include your first name, city, state, and email address.

Deadline for posts is October 15 at noon MST. Winners will be notified on October 15. Please check your email. Winners must respond to my email notification within 24 hours. The book will ship from New York City courtesy of Sourcebooks.

Read the next post for the full review. Here's a fun recipe from the book (with permission):

Jeremy’s Pastalicious Cupcakes

Spaghetti Cupcakes

Makes 6

1 Cup tomato sauce

4 ounces ricotta cheese

3 ounce Parmesan cheese

8 ounces shredded mozzarella

1 tablespoon milk

1 egg

1 package pre-cooked whole wheat spaghetti

1 package of turkey meatballs


Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the tomato sauce, ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, grated mozzarella cheese, 1 tablespoon of milk, and 1 egg.

3. Pour the cooked spaghetti into the bowl with the tomato sauce cheese mixture. Toss the spaghetti in the mixture, making sure to coat all of the noodles.

4. Add spoonfuls of the mixture into greased muffin tins. It can come up to just below the top of each opening. Press down so the noodles are packed into muffin tin—they will apart if not packed enough.

5. Dip the turkey meatballs intomato sauce and the top of cupcakes. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

6. Bake for eighteen to twenty-two minutes.

7. Let cool for a few minutes. Run a butter knife around each one to loosen.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tween Pick: Recipe for Trouble (with recipe)


Recipe for Trouble
by Sheryl Berk & Carrie Berk
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
171 pages
with recipes, ideas and tips
Excerpt of Winner Bakes All included

What happens when four friends start a cupcake company and each one starts growing up and apart? Is Peace, Love and Cupcakes doomed for failure?

The girls each go their separate ways for the summer, and Lexi is sad. She is looking forward to fifth grade and a new season for launching the success of their company. She visits her flamboyant, fun, and flirty Aunt Dee in New York City. Dee is a tornado of energy and ideas. She takes Lexi to see all the sights: museums, Central Park, trendy restaurants, extravagant shops, and they even experience nirvana off a real New York City hot dog vender's cart. Lexi can't believe a hot dog can taste so good!

Lexi uses all the experiences, sights, and sounds to write new cupcake recipes. She is inspired by the great masters' paintings in the museum and can't wait to share her recipes with her friends.

Kylie comes home from summer camp with great news. She had the time of her life and met such interesting new friends. In fact, she wants one of her new friends to join the cupcake business. Lexi is hurt, and a little furious. She thought Kylie was her bff, and she doesn't want any more members in Peace, Love and Cupcakes.

Trouble is brewing between the two besties, and the girls have a few spats and misunderstandings as the orders for cupcakes begin rolling in.


The business is running smoothly when Lexi realizes she has a crush on Jeremy. The other girls try to help shy Lexi let her feelings be known, but it's not until the school production of "Romeo and Juliet" that Lexi conquers her fears.

Recipes and tips for cupcakes are a nice addition to the mix (pun intended). Girls will love the idea of a tween business and the friendship that is threatened. This is a sweet little book written by mother and daughter team Sheryl and Carrie Berk. Great fun!

Recommended grades 4-7.

Here is a fun recipe from the book (with permission):

Jeremy’s Pastalicious Cupcakes

Spaghetti Cupcakes

Makes 6

1 Cup tomato sauce

4 ounces ricotta cheese

3 ounce Parmesan cheese

8 ounces shredded mozzarella

1 tablespoon milk

1 egg

1 package pre-cooked whole wheat spaghetti

1 package of turkey meatballs


Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the tomato sauce, ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, grated mozzarella cheese, 1 tablespoon of milk, and 1 egg.

3. Pour the cooked spaghetti into the bowl with the tomato sauce cheese mixture. Toss the spaghetti in the mixture, making sure to coat all of the noodles.

4. Add spoonfuls of the mixture into greased muffin tins. It can come up to just below the top of each opening. Press down so the noodles are packed into muffin tin—they will apart if not packed enough.

5. Dip the turkey meatballs intomato sauce and the top of cupcakes. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

6. Bake for eighteen to twenty-two minutes.

7. Let cool for a few minutes. Run a butter knife around each one to loosen.


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

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mythology Pick: Fury


Fury
Book 1, The Fury Trilogy
By Elizabeth Miles
Simon Pulse
2012
370 pages

Fury captivates from the first pages; teens are likely to be swept up in the teen gossip and behavior, popular cliques and mean girls, hot guys and buff athletes, Christmas parties and double dating. This novel is a guilty pleasure for “Gossip Girl” junkies.

Ascension High School has its “ins” and “outs,” and once you’re out there’s no getting back in. Chase has learned the hard way to put on a false front in order to be popular. No one gets too close to Chase—he doesn’t want them to know his family’s problems and poverty. He pretends to be part of the rich crowd and playing football has made him part of their crew.

Em is happy that Zach is finally noticing her, but she can’t give in to her own selfish passions. Zach is her best friend’s boyfriend after all. Three beautiful and mysterious girls keep showing up on the scene and soon it’s pretty clear they’ll stop at nothing to get revenge.

Once you’re marked, you’re theirs. And they don’t forget. And they don’t forgive. Revenge is sweet.

The cover has beautiful teen eye appeal with the fire-red haired temptress, and this itself will likely help the book jump off book store shelves. The ending sets up nicely for the next in the series. Although the book is supposed to be about revenge and the Furies, they are only a small part. I expected them to make an earlier and more pronounced presence. Maybe book 2 will unleash their full potential.

Recommended grades 9-up. Some talk of sex, teen partying, drinking, bad behavior, suicide. Not for middle school.

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

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Adventure Pick: The Orphan King


The Orphan King
Merlin’s Immortals, Book 1
By Sigmund Brouwer
Waterbrook Press
2012
220 pages

Thomas grows up serving the monks in the monastery, but he knows he’s destined for still greater things. When his “parent” Sarah dies, she has him promise that he will seek his destiny and save the kingdom. She has taught him to read and write and he knows several languages—far more than one would suspect of a lowly peasant. Who is this boy with great knowledge and unparalleled bravery?

Thomas saves a knight from the gallows, and the knight owes him his loyalty. He also saves a pickpocket and his companion. The three of them join Thomas on his quest to reach Magnus, a mighty castle held by witches more powerful than even the king. Thomas dares to enter its walls and take command. There are those in power who live in the shadows and have secrets that even Thomas cannot expose.

As he ventures forward, Thomas never knows who his friends are and who will betray him. Many want his power, and others seek to destroy anything that will threaten their lives. Who are the Druids and what is it that they seek? What is the evil that has fallen over the land?

A shadowy figure seems to control Thomas’s fate. A mysterious man who appears in disguises seems to hold the key that Thomas is seeking. When will Thomas know his fate? How will he know how to expose the conspiracy if he doesn’t know what he’s looking for?

Recommended for any history buff and any lover of English history and King Arthur legends and knights of the round table stories.

Grades 7-up. No language. Some bawdiness—It’s medieval England, my goodness!

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

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

High School Pick: Wanderlove

Wanderlove
by Kirsten Hubbard
Delacourt Press
2012
335 pages

Bria Sandoval’s world is falling apart. She just finished graduating high school and had big plans for a trip to Europe with her BFF’s, but when the other girls have other plans, Bria is left in the wind. On top of that, her long-term relationship with Toby is over. Bria doesn’t know what she wants to do; her passion for her artwork is drying up, too. She makes a snap decision and buys a ticket for a guided tour of Central America.

Bria imagines it in her head—pristine, sandy beaches, warm ocean breezes, a beautiful flower in her hair, a long, flowing skirt and sandals--but what she pictures is far from grim reality. She arrives in Central America and joins a group of older-–way older—folks. The elderly folks love a guided tour with quiet hotels and clean sheets, but Bria longs for youthful adventure.

When she meets bad boy backpacker Rowan and his humanitarian minded sister Starling, Bria sees a world she wants to enter. The two siblings have traveled extensively and lived on a few dollars a day, crashing at dirty hostels and eating local fare. Their hippie-like existence calls to Bria, and she abandons her boring tour and joins them.

Bria visits Mayan villages, jungle vistas and beaches of Belize. She joins in on Rowan’s wonderlove. He’s running from his past and she’s running to a new life. Their adventure awakens feelings in each of them, and Bria will never be the same.

Recommended grades 9-up. Mature situations.

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

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Child Pick: Underground


Underground
by Denise Fleming
Beach Lane Books (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division)
2012
40 pages

Underground is a world often unseen by adults and children. Denise Fleming’s new book identifies the various animals that nest and hide food underground. Did you know that most rabbits do not dig their own holes? They often dig shallow holes or use other holes abandoned by woodchucks or chipmunks. Foxes, too, are known to use the woodchucks’ old digs to raise their young.

Other species that live at least part of their lives underground include the Trapdoor spider, salamanders, toads, and moles. The creature identification pages feature a picture of each creature and how they use their holes underground: for food storage, living quarters, and nurseries for their young.

The illustrations in the book are made using pulp painting which is a papermaking technique using cotton fiber that is then poured through hand-cut stencils. Finally, the artist adds details using pastel pencils and copy transfer. The effect is a beautifully rendered picture that feels and looks like a painting done in pastels, watercolors, and pencils. The attention to detail is remarkable; the animals are beautifully rendered, and the furry ones seem cute and cuddly even when digging in the dirt.

The cover of a wide-eyed boy watching ants disappear underground will captivate. What child hasn't wondered where the ants go?

The copy rhyme and rhythmic pattern is perfect for early readers. Children will quickly pick up the wording of this book and likely “read” it to themselves after only a few readings.

This is a must have for any collection of picture books.

Highly, highly recommended ages 3-up. A fun read aloud.

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

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Book Giveaway: Exciting Wartime Spy Thriller

Shadow on the Mountain
by Maggie Preus
Amulet (Abrams)
2012
304 pages

I have 10 copies of the arc (advance reader copy) of Shadow on the Mountain compliments of Amulet (Abrams) up for grabs.

Read about the book from the publisher's website:

"About the book
Shadow on the Mountain recounts the adventures of a 14-year-old Norwegian boy named Espen during World War II. After Nazi Germany invades and occupies Norway, Espen and his friends are swept up in the Norwegian resistance movement. Espen gets his start by delivering illegal newspapers, then graduates to the role of courier and finally becomes a spy, dodging the Gestapo along the way. During five years under the Nazi regime, he gains—and loses—friends, falls in love, and makes one small mistake that threatens to catch up with him as he sets out to escape on skis over the mountains to Sweden.
Preus incorporates archival photographs, maps, and other images to tell this story based on the real-life adventures of Norwegian Erling Storrusten, whom Preus interviewed in Norway."

Here are what others are saying:

"STARRED REVIEW
"Newbery Honor winner Preus infuses the story with the good-natured humor of a largely unified, peace-loving people trying to keep their sanity in a world gone awry. Based on a true story, the narrative is woven with lively enough daily historical detail to inspire older middle-grade readers to want to learn more about the Resistance movement and imitate Espen’s adventures."
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"A closely researched historical novel... relates this wartime tale with intelligence and humor...Ms. Preus deftly uses together historical fact (Espen is based on a real-life spy) and elements of Norwegian culture to conjure a time and place not so terribly long ago."
—The Wall Street Journal

"Margi Preus, who won a Newbery honor for Heart of a Samurai, returns with another riveting work of historical fiction... This fine novel, which includes an author’s note, a timeline, a bibliography and even a recipe for invisible ink, is based on extensive research... The result is an authentic coming-of-age story, perfect for readers fascinated by the diary of Anne Frank or Lois Lowry’s classic, Number the Stars."
—BookPage

If you would love a chance for a copy, please post a comment to the blog and include your first name, city, state, and email contact address. Sorry, we can only ship to U.S. addresses.

Deadline for posts is September 26 at noon MST. Winners are chosen randomly by Randomizer. Winners will be notified after noon on the 26th. Please check your email. Winners have 24 hours to respond to the email and send me their mailing information. Books will ship from New York courtesy of Amulet (Abrams).

Don't miss this fascinating ya title.

Start posting and good luck!
Pamela


Friday, September 14, 2012

HUGE Book Giveaway: Raised by Wolves--Win the ENTIRE set!


Raised by Wolves (2010) 418 pages
Trial by Fire (2011) 357 pages
Taken by Storm (2012) 314 pages
By Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Egmont

I have 3 FREE SETS of books and temporary tattoos up for grabs for 3 LUCKY winners! yes, that's 3 complete sets to 3 lucky people! With tattoos, of course!

I can’t believe I almost missed this series! It wasn’t until the publication of book 3, Taken by Storm, that I heard increasing buzz over Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ paranormal romance series; now I’m a rabid (ha, ha, pun intended), avid fan of Bryn and her pack of strays. You won’t want to miss this exciting series.


Read my review of the series here!

Simply post a comment on the blog here or on the review post on the blog. Please include your first name, city, state and email contact address in case you win. Deadline for posting is Thursday, September 27 at noon MST. Winners are chosen randomly by Randomizer. Winners will be notified by email on September 27. Please check your email. Winners have 24 hours to contact me with their mailing information. Books will ship from New York courtesy of Egmont!

Good luck and start posting! Pamela

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Graphic Pick: Drama

Drama
By Raina Telgemeier
Graphix (Scholastic)
2012
240 pages
Full color illustraions (graphic novel)

For all theater GLEEks and musical theater buffs, for all the stage crew, lighting peeps, sound dudes, scenery builders, and costume designer GLEEks, Raina Telgemeier has created a fun graphic novel about your world.

Callie loves the theater but soon realizes that she is not gifted with a voice that will earn her parts in the middle school production. She’s happy to be on the team anyway; she is proud to build the set and props for her school’s productions of “Moon Over Mississippi.” When cute twin brothers Justin and Jesse appear on the scene, Callie starts crushing. She’s not the only one interested in the brothers either.

Justin is the outgoing one, the talented one; Jesse is the shy brother who doesn’t seek the footlights and the greasepaint. Callie befriends both brothers and is surprised when Jesse spills his secret.

When leading roles are passed out, Justin is disappointed. There’s a big dance coming up and Callie hopes that Justin will ask her.

Drama happens on the stage and behind the scenes. The show must go on; Jesse uses his hidden talents to save the production.

Telgemeier tells a teen tale full of heart through her words and heartfelt illustrations. Smile, her first graphic novel , got rave reviews. I have no doubt, Drama will satisfy teen readers. Several cultures are represented by her characters, and fans of LGBT genre will identify with some characters and their problems.

Recommended grades 7-up. LGBT content. One main character clearly identifies himself as “gay.” The other teen characters do not “freak out” when he admits it. It is not a big deal for any of the kids. No sex. No language.

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


This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

YA Pick: Revived


Revived
by Cat Patrick
Hachette Book Group
2012
336 pages

Daisy remembers very little of the crash…one minute she was on the bus with her classmates; the next minute she is living a new life. Twenty-two of the children died but were “revived” through secret technology and a program designed to keep them safe and study them. Every time Daisy “dies,” she and her “parents” have to find a new city to live in with new identities. If they stay, they compromise the program. Too many people asking too many questions would blow the cover of one of the most outrageous medical and ethical scandals.

Daisy’s real parents are told that their daughter died. Her new parents are actual handlers in the program and unrelated to Daisy. She likes Mason who has a kind heart and seems to genuinely care about her; she is less thrilled about mother Cassie who is cold and distant.

The overseer of the program is known only as God –the all-powerful and all-seeing. He determines the fate of all his subjects and their handlers. When someone gets out of line, God decides if they will be “revived.” No one has ever met him in person; they obey his commands on the phone.

When Daisy moves to Omaha, she makes friends with siblings Audrey and Matt. For the first time she finally has friends and she wants to put down roots and never have to move away again. Life is never perfect, and it’s not long before she finds out her new friend Audrey is dying of cancer; if only Daisy could use the revive medicine to save her. Daisy decides to risk it all to help save her friend’s life.

Can Daisy trust her secret with her new friends? What will happen to the program if the public finds out about it? What will happen to Daisy?
Revived is an interesting ya novel and will resonate with teens who loved The Adoration of Jenna Fox and Genesis Alpha. Readers may want to know the character of Audrey a bit better; she is barely introduced before she is sick. The relationship between Matt and Daisy is sweet and tender; Matt needs a shoulder when his sister is sick.

Recommended grades 7-up. No language. No sex.

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

Monday, September 10, 2012

Hilarious Romp: A Bad Day for Voodoo

A Bad Day for Voodoo
By Jeff Strand
Sourcebooks Fire (Sourcebooks)
2012
251 pages

Darkly entertaining, ghastly yet inspiring, hysterically macabre, this is one ya novel I will never forget. I don’t believe I’ve ever laughed so hard while trying to read at the same time. Tears were soon streaming down my face as I attempted to focus on the hilarious, raucous, and wickedly entertaining A Bad Day For Voodoo. Jeff Strand is funnier than any prime-time sit-com ever recorded. His dialog is dead on and full of teen snark and venom.

Best friends Tyler and Adam hate their history teacher Mr. Click. Tyler is mad because he studied for a test he aced, yet Mr. Click gives him a zero and accuses him of cheating. Tyler didn’t copy any answers; another student copied off him. Best friend Adam figures they can get even and his answer to a mean history teacher is to visit a voodoo store in a seedy part of town and purchase a voodoo doll of Mr. Click. He presents the weird doll to Tyler, who is astonished and at a loss of words. I mean, who does that? Who buys a voodoo doll?

Adam encourages Tyler to just give it a try. Maybe the voodoo won’t work at all. Then there’s no harm done. Tyler puts a pin in the doll’s knee the next day in class and Mr. Click’s leg shoots off, bleeding and all. The class is terrified. The police and an ambulance are called. The boys are freaked out and Tyler hides the doll. Everything would have been just fine (well, not for Mr. Click) if Adam had left it at that. He’s afraid that Tyler will rat him out to the police, so he buys a voodoo doll of Tyler as insurance. The kids are joined by Tyler’s girlfriend Kelley as they try to race against the clock to get back to the voodoo shop and try to turn the curse around.

The rest of the novel involves a car jacking, a band of not-so-bright car thieves, four murders, one death, a careening car chase, a crazy taxi driver hyped up on Red Bull, a strange family with even stranger beliefs, one zombie fight, a gunshot wound, a pizza cutter wound, a car crash, one case of grand theft auto, a bleeding ear and two missing toes…oh, and about a zillion laughs! Who knew violence and mayhem could be so much fun?

When the boys are fighting off Zombie Mr. Click (he has escaped the morgue—oh, did I mention he died?-- and now he is a zombie with his leg attached, well, sort of, attached), Zombie Click is trying to fight Adam… Tyler tells the story, ”He (Click) pounced on top of him…so I grabbed the back of Mr. Click’s gown and tried to pull him away. The gown tore. This was officially the worst day ever.”

What’s worse than a zombie eating your friend’s face? Worse than a crazed zombie attack? Seeing your teacher as a naked zombie, of course!

If you mixed equal parts of Joan Rivers’ spot on one-liners, the comedic brilliance of Larry the Cable Guy, and the comic insight of Will Rogers, you might come close to Jeff Strand’s writing. A Bad Day For Voodoo reminded me of the movie “Adventures in Babysitting.” The kids have to travel around in dangerous parts of town where they meet more than their fair share of urban problems.


Highly, highly recommended grades 7-up. This is a no-brainer: Don’t miss this book! You’ll be sorry you did. No language, in fact, when Tyler cusses he does so by saying: s-word, f-word, etc. No sex. Zombie violence. Hilarious gun-fight between the ring of car thieves.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I purchased this book for my library. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Zombie Pick: Undead

Undead
by Kirsty McKay
Chicken House (Scholastic)
2012
272 pages

Freakishly fun, bizarrely brazen, and monstrously macabre, Undead is a real zombie laugh riot! Don’t start this book unless you plan to stay up all night finishing it! Undead is the most fun I’ve had since last year’s funny zombie novel Bad Taste in Boys.

A bus full of kids returning from a ski trip stops for lunch along the road. Bobby hates the weather, hates her school mates, hates the trip and, moreover, hates changing schools and countries yet again. Her mother’s job has brought them to Scotland, where the weather sucks. She’s just over it. No one can blame her when she stays behind on the bus skipping lunch.

The chaperone tells Smitty to stay on the bus, too. One minute their classmates are kids…the next minute, they’re changed…and dead….or undead. Pretty and popular Alice runs to the bus. She saw her friends change but she ran. Now it’s the kids against the zombie apocalypse.

The snow storm makes it impossible to drive but the kids have to figure out an escape. They meet up with Pete, a classmate who fled the scene and hid out in a gas station. When the zombie horde advances, Smitty uses a lit cigarette to ignite the fuel pumps and credits the movie "Diehard" for the idea--you gotta hand it to Bruce Willis--he knows how to blow stuff up. The teens' next step is to find shelter and a phone. No one can get a cell signal and landlines aren’t working.

Just when they are about to give up, they see a castle…yes, a real castle. Where better to fight off an attack of slow moving undead?

What is changing normal people into zombies? Who is behind it and why? Why isn’t someone looking for them? Where are the authorities?

Laugh out loud teen antics and name calling will have readers in stitches.


The two boys, Pete and Smitty, are opposites and constantly at war.
When they see a sign for a castle, Pete says, “It’s a castle!”
“So?” says Smitty.
“Fortification.” Pete’s eyes gleam.
Smitty frowns at him. “Thanks, but you’re not my type.’”

Protagonist Bobby is hilarious and feisty! I wouldn’t want anyone else by my side if I had to fight off zombies. Spot on dialog, snarky teen humor, hilarious zombie attacks, zombie fighting gone silly, and a great tale will have hordes of fans reading and loving this new ya novel. This is a “don’t miss” title for all zombie fans!

Highly, highly recommended grades 7-up.

One of the boys moons the group, no language, some zombie violence, Diehard explosions, and a super-sweet kiss.

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

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)




The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano
By Sonia Manzano
Scholastic Press
2012
224 pages



Evelyn (Maria) Serrano is sick of the barrio; she’s sick of Mami’s plastic flowers and cheesy slipcovers, sick of the lacy doilies Mami puts under every knick-knack, and sick to death of her mother’s pathetic attitude and slave like behavior (the book is set in the 1960s). Evelyn will never become a slave to her husband or household. She’s a free-thinking girl with moxie and a mouth that sometimes gets her into trouble!

When Abuela comes to visit, tension soon fills the apartment. Mami and Abuela fight over everything. Abuela was raised in Puerto Rico and remembers the turmoil and people being fired upon by the army. She doesn’t want her people to forget their struggles. Her cause is now the barrio. She wants to join the young men who are marching and protesting for better housing, jobs, education, and cleaning up their tenements. Mami wants nothing to do with the young “hippies” and forbids Evelyn from joining their ranks—forbidding something--the one way to insure that your child will do just what you don’t want them to do!

Evelyn fights the good fight and sees what her countrymen (and women) are fighting for. She has an “a-ha” moment or two and finally embraces her given name: Maria.
The back cover quotes from Julia Alvarez, Pam Munoz Ryan and others believe that this book is important for history and the Latino struggle. This is a good book to pair with common core non-fiction and Latino studies. The cover has no wide ya appeal; however, maybe the publisher was trying to attract the historical fiction few (I won't say crowd because historical fiction is not a "cool" genre to most teens).

Recommended grades 7-up. No language. No sex.

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

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Paranormal Pick: The Hallowed Ones

The Hallowed Ones
by Laura Bickle
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2012
320 pages

Mesmerizing, harrowing, scary, creepy, and compelling, The Hallowed Ones will have teen readers on the edge of their seats and up all night as they race through the pages of this smart new ya novel.

A closeknit Amish settlement is threatened by an epidemic from the Outside. When people vanish with no explanation and news from the Outside is that "something" happened, Katie and her childhood friend Elijah go to the next town to check on the whereabouts of Elijah's older brothers. What they find is eerie. The town seems deserted. There are no people about. Elijah's brothers are not at the furniture store where they work, but there are bloodstains left behind. The Elders tell the Amish community to pray and that God will take care of everything.

Katie discovers a young boy just beyond their fence. The Elders say that no one can leave and no one can enter; they are afraid that whatever is killing people may come on their land and infect them. Katie disobeys and carries the boy to the barn where she raises puppies. She nurses Alex back to health and he tells her about the Outside and what he has seen.


Alex is from Canada and was in the U.S. looking at universities and seeing a girl he met on the Internet. She was studying biology in the lab when the breakout occurred. Alex sees the "vampires" firsthand. These vampires are a cross between vampires, wolves, and super-fast, super-intelligent zombies. Think "I Am Legend" and "Resident Evil." They can plan and plot and they have speech. They also have an insatiable appetite for blood. Alex thinks the Amish are safe in their community because they live on hallowed,or blessed, ground. The "vampires" cannot attack holy places.

There is gossip that people are safe in synagogs, temples, shrines, mosques and other holy places. Even a coven of witches seems safe due to their pagan "religion."

When a whole family of Amish are murdered within the settlement, Katie and Alex have to clean it up. But who let the vampires in? And where are they?

The ending sets up for a sequel. If there's not a sequel, I will be surprised and saddened. Katie is a refreshing heroine with spunk and guts; she's not the little "mousehe men of her community cherish.

Highly, highly recommeded grades 7-up. One mention that Katie "lies with" Alex but not mention of what actually happens. Fade to black, ahem. Vampire creature violence and gore.

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

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

Teen Pick: Circle of Silence

Circle of Silence: The Story Turned Deadly
By Carol M. Tanzman
Harlequin Teen
2012
281 pages

Dangerous and dark, Circle of Silence is a teen read that could have been ripped from the headlines. It will leave you uncomfortable and a little sickened.

News girl Val and her news team produce the campus news show. They report the usual things: all the new clubs available for freshman to join, an interview with a new administrator hired on campus, the football team has their first game—just run of the mill typical high school news. When the letters “MP” start appearing tagged all over campus, no one gives it a second thought. Maybe it’s someone’s initials; maybe it’s Marshall Prep, another school nearby who is their upcoming football rival. Kids are starting to talk and wonder who’s behind the tagging.

The next week, a couple of funny pranks occur and the mysterious initials are left at the scene. The news team knows it can’t be Marshall Prep; the big football game has already taken place. Who is pulling the pranks and why?

A group of loners and misfits are secretly meeting and making plans to be the talk of the school. The tension between the members is palpable. When their leader dreams of bigger and meaner pranks, the sheep in the group follow him blindly along until someone ends up in the hospital. The pranks are becoming increasingly dangerous and deadly.

Can Val’s media team break the story before someone else gets hurt? Is Valerie herself a target? Will anyone in the secret group step up and away from the danger? How long can a group keep a secret before turning on each other? Could your biggest enemies be closer than you think?

The cover is bland and a real missed opportunity to attract teen readers who are likely to walk right by the tepid cover art.

Recommended grades 9-up. Mature situations. Language.

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

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Paranormal Series Pick: Raised by Wolves, Trial by Fire, Taken by Storm


Raised by Wolves (2010) 418 pages
Trial by Fire (2011) 357 pages
Taken by Storm (2012) 314 pages
By Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Egmont

I can’t believe I almost missed this series! It wasn’t until the publication of book 3, Taken by Storm, that I heard increasing buzz over Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ paranormal romance series; now I’m a rabid (ha, ha, pun intended), avid fan of Bryn and her pack of strays. You won’t want to miss this exciting series.

In book 1, Raised by Wolves, Bryn is orphaned when a Rabid kills her parents. An alpha male saves Bryn and allows Ali to raise Bryn as her own daughter. Bryn grows up human but “raised by wolves.” She begins to feel the pack’s mentality, strength, and sense their thoughts and wild desires. Callum, the pack’s Alpha, promises to keep her safe no matter what.

When Bryn disobeys Callum and discovers a teen Were who’s been turned by a rogue wolf, memories of that bloody attack on her parents begin to haunt Bryn. Chase and Bryn are too much alike, and soon they are sharing thoughts without needing to speak them aloud. The man who turned Chase is the same man who killed Bryn’s parents and now he’s after her.

Bryn needs Chase’s help to save newly turned werewolves; when she does, she becomes the pack’s alpha. She can’t go home because she is home for all new, young wolves. Callum has a strong bond with Bryn, but from this day forward she is in charge of her own problems.



Trail by Fire (book 2) continues this fascinating story. In fact, the second book is my favorite. I could not stop reading once I turned the first page. Fair warning: don't open this book unless you have a few hours to read it cover to cover!


Old enemies deliver strange packages and send cryptic messages. When a teen wolf shows up broken and bleeding and between shifting back to his human form, Bryn knows it is the work of Shay, her arch-rival and Alpha male of another pack. He’s been gunning for Bryn for a long time, and she knows she will have to face him and defeat him if she is to keep her own pack safe and free.


New characters are introduced and new threats move into the pack’s sphere—a threat that may take them all down.



Taken By Storm is a brilliant tour de force! Bryn continues to fight off enemies and comes into her own as a leader. She remembers the lessons Callum has taught her and tries to emulate his energy and wisdom in tough situations. Byrn’s pack is in danger—wolf females are rare and Bryn’s pack is mostly female and weaker than the other large packs. She will need help to defend them. In order to survive and defeat her strongest foes, Bryn must decide to pay the ultimate price to save her pack.

Brilliantly conceived, masterful storytelling, a deft hand that controls a taut and thrilling plot, and simmering passion and tension between the main characters makes this series the most compelling paranormal series in recent memory. Barnes manages to make me believe in werewolves and long for their pack mentality. Bryn is a strong female protagonist who chooses to save her pack no matter the threat to herself. Readers will devour this series and growl for more!

Highly, highly recommended grades 7-up with this warning: book 1 is harmless, books 2 and 3 talk more about mating. Chase and Bryn begin to spend the nights together. Also, when a human changes from wolf back to human, he/she is naked. No details about anatomy though. No language. Book 3 has one example of language.

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

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)









Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mystery Pick: Madhattan Mystery

Madhattan Mystery
By John J. Bonk
Walker ( Bloomsbury)
2012
292 pages

Fun, free-spirited, and fantastic, Madhattan Mystery is a madcap mystery adventure in New York City.

Lexi and Kevin McGill travel by train to New York when their father marries step-mother Clare and takes a trip to Europe. The kids will stay with their Aunt Roz, an eccentric, over-the-top actress—think Auntie Mame and you’ll have Roz.

While at Grand Central Station, Lexi steps into the fabled Whispering Gallery, where a whisper from one corner of the giant room can be heard hundreds of feet away due to the acoustics. Lexi overhears two mysterious men whispering about a secret heist and she overhears “needle, track sixty-one, Grand Central, oval disk, park, jewels.” Lexi knows these guys are up to no good.

The next day’s newspaper confirms her fears. Cleopatra’s fabled jewels are missing from the “Queen of the Nile” exhibit. Lexi feels terrible. She may know who did it, but how does she convince grown-ups? She mentions her plight to her younger brother Kevin and snarky, flippant, abrasive "friend" Kim Ling Levine, a girl who lives in Aunt Roz’s building. Kim is a wonderful character—she’s flippant, feisty, fierce, and near-genius! Her dream is to be a news reporter, and she’s unstoppable when tracking down clues.

The tween threesome finds track sixty-one and follow clues to find the jewels. The thieves know who Lexi is and where she lives. The kids will have to be careful to solve the crime and put the bad guys behind bars before the bad guys are onto them. Can three tweens solve “The Crime of the Century” and collect the reward?

I loved Aunt Roz—she is the epitome of a bright Broadway star whose with moxie—a middle aged actress still chasing the dream but ending up with smaller and smaller parts. She knows the score but won’t let it get her down. She’s like the Unsinkable Molly Brown.

Lexi is cute and a red-head—finally! A red head protagonist with strength and wit has been missing in kid lit for a long time. And what can be said of Kim Ling—I wanna be like her when I grow up!

Girls and mystery lovers will devour Madhattan Mystery .

Highly, highly recommended grades 5-up. No language.

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

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)