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Thursday, October 28, 2010

YA Paranormal Pick

Tyger Tyger: A Goblin Wars Book
Tyger Tyger (A Goblin Wars Book)
by Kersten Hamilton
Clarion Books, 2010
308 pages

Everything was going as planned in Teagan Wylltson's life--she has a dream job at the zoo as part of the primate research team working with Cindy, the zoo's chimp who communicates with Teagan using sign language. Looking forward to college and a great scholarship, Teagan has no time for a boyfriend or any problems in her life. Everything is great until Finn Mac Cumhaill arrives on her doorstep.

Finn is loosely related to Teagan and brings with him all kinds of Irish legends. Goblins, shapeshifters, and shadow creatures begin to arrive at the Wylltson's house. Lucky for Teagan, Finn is the next Mac Camhaill to fight Goblinkind.

This novel is full of Irish legends of goblins, shapeshifters and cat-sidhe. Although goblins may not be a sexy as vampires, they are scary and devious. Hamilton introduces readers to new beings in the paranormal genre. Readers who enjoy a good paranormal read like Shiver or The Forest of Hands and Teeth are likely to enjoy Tyger Tyger, and Finn is just as dreamy-licious as Edward (Twilight).

Girls especially will like the characters of Finn and Teagan.
Recommended grades 7-up. Mild language.

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

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Middle School Pick


by Dotti Enderle
Calkins Creek, 2010
142 pages

Historical fiction at its best, this novel delivers the story of drought stricken Texas in 1883. Jesse lives on a small farm with his older brother Ethan and his mom and dad. Life is tough, but the boys don't complain--it's how things are back then--work all day and go to bed dog tired every night. Crops are dying and it's tough keeping enough water for the stock and the family. Everyone is praying for a good rain.

Then when it can't get any worse, wirecutters cut barbed wire fences and use water on private land to water their cattle. Jesse's family wages war against the wirecutters. Every drop of water is precious, and the thieves need to be caught.

Ethan gets in trouble with a gambling debt and steals from the family's savings. He is disowned and kicked out of the family home. A mysterious drifter shows up and gets a job on the farm, but Jesse is suspicious of his intentions--and rightly so.

Enderle has an ear for Texas dialect and her characters come to life through dialog. Jesses says, " That devil sun..."; Ethan says, "Think those scoundrels will come back tonight?"

Quick reading. Reluctant readers will probably have no trouble with this book. Cover has appeal for young readers and Jesse will be a character they like.

Recommended grades 5-8.

FTC Disclaimer: I got this book from another librarian who received it from the publisher. I did not receive any monetary compensation for this review.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dystopian Fiction Pick

Incarceron (Incarceron, Book 1)

by Catherine Fisher
Dial Books, 2010 (orginally published in Britain in 2007)
442 pages

Provocative, compelling, thrilling, dark, dangerous, gritty, and disturbing. This is a book that I dreamt about for a week after reading it. Not a novel that one will soon forget. Although it takes about thirty pages to set up, from there on, the reader will be enveloped in a fantasy world gone wrong. Creatures beyond description haunt Incarceron's walls.

The setting acts as a character in this dystopian fantasy. Incarceron is a prison that was set up to house the worst of all society--it has been sealed up for centuries and has evolved into a living, breathing, thinking entity. Like Hal, the computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey, the prison takes over. It sees all and knows all. No one has ever escaped except one man; one man who has become a legend, a myth, and a fairy tale. Only Sapphique has escaped and knows the way.

Finn is not like the other prisoners; he remembers Outside. He is sworn to his oath brother Keiro and is tied to Gildas, a Sapienti who seeks the Outside. Because Finn sees visions, he is known as a starseer. He even has dreams of Sapphique leading him from Incarceron.

The warden of Incarceron holds the fate of the prison, and his daughter Claudia will marry and become Queen of the realm. That is, until she finds a key that unlocks Incarceron. Claudia and Finn are able to communicate through this key.

On the Outside, life seems perfect, and it is except that there is no freedom. "We are chained hand and foot...enslaved to a static, empty world where men and women can't read, where scientific advances of the ages are the preserve of the rich, where artists and poets are doomed to endless repititions and sterile reworkings of past masterpieces. Nothing is new. New does not exist. Nothing changes, nothing grows, evolves, develops. Time has stopped. Progress is forbidden." (Incarceron, p. 243)

Once Incarceron is threatened, the realm will tremble.

Book Two: Sapphique due out December 2010.

Highly, highly recommended grades 8-up. May not be suitable for younger readers due to violence. No sex, no language.

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

Friday, October 22, 2010

High School Pick


by Mindi Scott
Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster), 2010
315 pages

Seth McCoy has an abundance of problems: a mother who isn't at all a mother or authority figure, a brother full of anger, bandmembers who argue all the time, and a ton of guilt and self-hatred for letting his best friend die last summer. Not only that, he's mad at childhood friend Kendall and he's trying to win the favor of a new girl Rosetta who has troubles of her own.

It's amazing how close the edge can be in a freefall. Seth's brother Jared feels betrayed when Seth quits the band in favor of school. Seth finally decides to straighten up and fly right, returning to school and taking extra classes in order to graduate on time. He confronts his own stage fright and joins a new band. Rosetta and Kendall help him see that it was not his fault that Isaac died. Able to grieve and move on, Seth is a victor.

A coming of age novel for the 21st century. Dirty, gripping, and raw, but finally equally uplifting and soaring. Mindi Scott scores with this novel.

Highly recommended grades 9-12.
Not for middle school readers: sex, violence, drugs, alcohol, parties, and language

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher but did not receive any financial compensation for my review of blogpost.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Realistic Fiction

Angela 1
by David A. Bedford
Eloquent Books, 2009.
188 pages.

Angela moves to a new town with her mother and sister after her parents' divorce. Although school is exciting and Angela has no trouble making friends, things aren't as pleasant as they sound. Her history teacher is making waves with some citizens who don't like his teaching methods--they prefer that teachers not have an opinion.

Angela and her friends uncover some suspicious activities being covered up by her principal, too. What happens when teen-agers fight the good fight? Will adults and authorities believe them?

This first novel in a series of three introduces Angela and her friends as activists and moral teens, trying to do the right thing. There is quite a lot going on in this novel; I suspect the follow-up novels will help clarify a few things.

The cover art and style of the book seem quite off-putting to the teen market and the price ($25.50) is steep for many teen buyers and certainly libraries.

Ages 13-up due to "adult" crimes like corruption, mis-use of funds, slander--terms that younger students are not usually familiar with.

FTC Required Disclosure: The author sent me a copy of his book to review. I received no monetary compensation for this review. I would recommend this book more whole-heartedly if it were packaged for the mass-market with a new cover and a better, more affordable, price. In its current format the book looks like a high school reader produced by a textbook company.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Curse of Deadman's Forest

The Curse of Deadman's Forest (Oracles of Delphi Keep)The Curse of Dead Man’s Forest (book 2, Oracles of Delphi Keep)
By Victoria Laurie
Delacorte Press, 2010
423 pages.

As the forces of evil continue to build, Ian Wigby and his sister Theo try to fulfill the 3,000 year old prophecy that they can save the humanity with the help of four other magically gifted children yet to be revealed. The third child is called the healer and can only be found if the children enter the portal—a time travel portal near their home in Dover, England. But, the stakes are high—the prophecy foretells of Ian’s death if he enters the portal again. The children are sure they can’t stay in Dover and wait for evil forces to find them, but they can’t enter the portal and risk Ian’s death either.

A magic sundial found in the second box reveals the way to solve each riddle.

This series is sure to delight readers of all ages. Anyone who liked Harry Potter, Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief series, and A Series of Unfortunate Events is likely to love this book. Part magic, part Greek mythology, part adventure, this novel sets a break-neck pace for page turners. Suspenseful and satisfying.

Highly recommended ages 10-and up.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher along with book one. I did not receive any monetary compensation for my review or blog posting.

YA Crime Thriller

The Interrogation of Gabriel JamesThe Interrogation of Gabriel James
By Charlie Price
Farrar Straus Giroux (fsgteen), 2010
168 pages

Gabriel James is just trying to get on with his life—but two murders and two funerals have the police questioning him. Gabriel knows all the players, and the police want to know what he knows or suspects. Told through a series of interview questions and flashbacks, Gabriel reveals the truth.

How much blame does Gabriel have in what happened? Did his actions cause the murders? The closer he comes to the truth, the more secrets are revealed about his mother’s dark past and his own father.

Sometimes the past is best buried forever. A compelling read, high-paced drama, and each action gets a severe consequence—sometimes more severe than Gabriel can deal with.

Teens who like realistic fiction and police and crime novels are likely to enjoy this one.

Recommended grades 9-up.
Some mature subjects, violence, sexual situations.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this copy from the publisher and did not receive any monetary compensation for my review or blog.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Best New Series

Oracles of Delphi Keep

Oracles of Delphi Keep
Victoria Laurie
Delacorte Press, 2009
549 pages

The first in a series of books by a debut author is a magical story of two orphans, a castle and orphanage, an English earl, and the white cliffs of Dover. But it’s much more than that, part adventure, part magical tale, it reminds readers of A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Lightning Thief series (Riordan) with a bit of Harry Potter magic thrown in.
A baby arrives on a dark and stormy night in 1930, carried by a mysterious horseman, and Ian is entrusted to be her older sibling and look after her.

Ian loves adventure and fancies himself a great explorer someday. He dreams of romantic places and amazing discoveries. One day he and Theo are exploring among the cliffs of Dover near the Keep, when Ian discovers a fantastic black box. He unearths it and takes it back to the Keep to try and open it. The box is decorated with strange markings but try as he might, Ian cannot open it.

Ian and Theo uncover a 3,000 year old prophecy and are astonished that their names are written down. They have been called upon to save the world from forces that will be called together to destroy humankind.

Readers who enjoyed Riordan’s The Lightning Thief and the Harry Potter series will love this novel. Rollicking great fun and a real page turner. ‘

Highly, highly recommended. Ages 10 and up.

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