Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick

The novel Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick is brilliant. Told from two intertwining perspectives, one of a deaf boy named Ben and the other told by a blind girl named Rose. This beautifully crafted novel is told in part by words and pictures. Separated by fifty years Ben and Rose are so different, yet so similar. They both deep down yearn for something that they’ve never had, and together, separated by history go looking for it. This is a great read. If you enjoy double perspectives, interesting plot twists and fantastic characters this is a novel for you.

Jolie, 15

Thursday, August 25, 2011

the Unwanteds, by Lisa McMann

In the thrilling and imaginative novel The Unwanteds, Lisa McMann tells the story of thirteen year old Alex Stowe. Set in a society called Quill where the stiff minded and intellectual are treasured and the creative are sentenced to death, lives Alex and his twin brother, Aaron. Since a young age Alex knew he would be unwanted. He found pleasure in drawing pictures in the mud, which was the extent of art in a vast, desolate, and slowly rotting Quill. Aaron on the other hand was the embodiment of what Quill strived to be, strong, intelligent, and not at all influenced by his emotions, or so he would like to think. This exciting, fast paced novel is like a mash up of The Hunger Games and Harry Potter, with its dark theme and magical touches it truly is a great read.

Jolie, 15

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

After Obsession, by Carrie Jones & Steven E. Wedel

Those of you who are interested in the supernatural world will be drawn to "After Obsession" written by Carrie Jones and Steven E. Wedel. At a high school in the state of Maine, characters such as Aimee and Alan have to face reality, as well as uncover the meaning of their strange gifts. Aimee thinks that Alan is the man of her dreams—literally. She believes that she was given the power to see into the future from her late mother, and that it is her responsibility stop unfortunate events of the future. Alan also has a gift and trusts nature, due to his Native American roots, and has a connection to Aimee that he cannot describe, nor understand. Aimee and Alan must team up in order to … well you’ll just have to read to find out!
Dana, 15

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Published by Little, Brown BYR
Published on December 27, 2011
Source: from publisher at BEA

Why We Broke Up, by Daniel Handler, is a very unique book. Composed of vignettes based around objects from Min Green and Ed Slaterton's relationship, it's unlike any other book I've read. Each object is linked to an explanation by Min, who tells the story of the item and how it contributed to the rise or fall of their relationship. Each account builds their relationship from the ground up, from when when Min first talked to Ed, to the first hint of incompatibility, to their break-up. Min, a smart and independent high school student, is a funny heartfelt narrator, recounting each event perfectly. The reader falls in love with Ed as Min does, sees Ed's flaws as Min does, and in the end, understands why she must break up wit him.

This novel will make you laugh and make you cry, not to be cliche. I would recommend it for readers ages 13 to 16.

~Cassidy, Grade 10

Saturday, August 20, 2011

In Darkness, by Nick Lake

Trapped under the rubble and lifeless bodies of the Haitian earth quake, Shorty feels like hope is lost. In the ever growing darkness he finds it hard to see the light, until he feels something. A presence reaching out towards him through time, and in it he finds hope. In the Darkness by Nick Lake reaches across history to tell the story of suffering and forgiveness, hardships and breaking points, and most of all that when everything seems dark there is always light to be found.

Jolie, 15

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ashes, by Ilsa J. Bick

"Ashes," written by Ilsa J. Bick, is the definition of suspense. Bick’s main character, Alex, hates being pitied, and she doesn’t want people to treat her differently, or protecting her, based on the fact that she has a brain tumor. She believes that if the doctors couldn’t do anything by this time to help or cure her, then she should let nature take its course and try to be carefree. Alex’s nervous Aunt Hannah wishes that Alex would come home safe and sound; however, Alex doesn’t want to be bothered anymore, so she runs away to the mountains. On her journey, she meets a young girl, who is very stubborn, just like her. They are having a campfire when suddenly; all of the wildlife in the area seems to be facing death in the most terrifying ways. These are such horrific sights for young two girls to endure; however, what they don’t realize is that this catastrophic event was just the beginning of a scarring journey. You will be at the mercy of each page, if you daringly pick up Bick’s eerie Ashes.

Dana, 15

Icefall, by Matthew J. Kirby

Matthew J. Kirby created a book with two major themes of: trust and well...winter. "Icefall" takes place in the winter with a royal setup of kings, queens and warriors, efficiently trained with spears. I appreciate the hint of medieval times and mythology; however there ware many characters and each one has an unorthodox name. At times, Icefall is hard to follow as far as location or who is speaking. Although, if you like an adventure and take this reading seriously, then go for it!

Dana, age 15

Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Schanzer

Published by National Geographic Children's Books
Published on September 13, 2011
Source: from publisher at BEA

Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem, by Rosalyn Schanzer, is an historical account of the infamous witch trials during the 16th and 17th centuries. The book manages to be exciting while being informing as well. It traces its origins to a mysterious illness that was afflicting the population of the colonies. The author leans toward the theory that two girls took advantage of the strange sickness and used it to get their revenge upon enemies of their family, unwittingly discrediting or murdering dozens. Setting the scene perfectly, the book begins with a passage explaining the Puritans' ideals, strict social mores, and fears of the "spirit world."

Overall, this 144 page book explains the Salem Witch Trials, in its entirety, in an interesting and thoughtful way. I would recommend it to readers aged 10 to 14.

~Cassidy, Grade 10

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch

Published by Scholastic
Published on September 1, 2011

The Eleventh Plague, by Jeff Hirsch, follows Stephen Quinn, who is among the remnants of the human race after an apocalyptic turn of events. Born a survivor, Stephen travels with his father and grandfather around the ruins of America, searching for anything worth money. Due to illness and a resulting accident, he loses his grandfather and his father falls into a coma. All by himself, and controlled by his animal instincts, Stephen comes across Settler's Landing, a civilized, but dystopian, community. They take him in, despite his being rough around the edges. The book chronicles the battle between Stephen's barbaric, animalistic self from his years as a nomad and his refined, more human self.

This 278 page novel is a long, but action-packed read. I would recommend it to readers ages 12 to 15.

~Cassidy, Grade 10

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Between by Jessica Warman

Published by Walker & Co
Published on August 2, 2011

Between, by Jessica Warman, is a dark mystery that follows Liz Valchar as she struggles to remember, as well as come to terms with her own death. After her rather illegal birthday party, on her dad's boat, Liz wakes up to find her dead body floating in the harbor. Before she can begin to understand what's happened, she meets Alex Berg, a schoolmate of her's who died a year earlier. Neither can remember the exact circumstances surrounding their deaths nor their lives. As Liz remembers her living self, she is unsure whether her former self had any depth of character. She was a petty, extremely popular, rich girl on the outside. However, part of Liz remembers herself as a grief-stricken, love-sick little girl who just anted to be liked. As the police try to understand what happened the night of her death, and question whether it was an accident or a carefully planned murder, Liz struggles with her own morality.

This novel is full of mystery, introspective questions, and suspense. I would highly recommend this book very highly to readers ages 13 to 17.

~Cassidy, Grade 10

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier

Published by Amulet Books
Published on August 1, 2011

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier follows its titular hero, Peter Nimble, as he quests to help a kingdom in need. Born an orphan and a victim of an accident that left him blind, Peter's life has been one hardship after another. Forced into thievery by his unfortunate situation, he is constantly trying to make peace with himself, all while imagining a life where he's actually happy. When he meets the mysterious, magical Haberdasher, a traveling salesman, Peter's dismal existence is transformed. Peter steals the Haberdasher's box, which is filled with Fantastic Eyes and pops a pair in his own eye sockets one day. He's magically transported to another land where he meets a cast of interesting characters and is sent on an endeavor to save a kingdom that vanished into thin air. This new life he's been plunged into reveals to Peter that he's so much more than a common thief.

This 381 page novel is filled with adventure and excitement. I'd recommend it to readers ages 10 to 12.

~Cassidy, Grade 10

Monday, April 11, 2011

Rock Star by Adrian Chamberlain

Published by Orca Book Publishers
Published on March 1, 2010

Rock Star by Adrian Chamberlain is about a teenage boy struggling in school and at home. He is attempting to find meaning in his life. Duncan turns from a bass guitar player in his school's orchestra to a rock star by joining a heavy metal band. In his transition to fame, Duncan becomes too preoccupied with his stardom and begins to lose his friends ans his father's respect. With the help of his father's girlfriend, Duncan is able o find balance and discover there is more to becoming a guitar hero than just playing in a band. This 114 page novel exposes the challenges and heartache of adolescence. I would recommend this book for young adults ages 13-16.

Ellen M., Age 16

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Best Foot Forward by Joan Bauer

Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons
Published on June 7, 2005

Best Foot Forward by Joan Bauer is about a teenage girl, Jenna Boller, who is attempting to recover from the death of a friend and find closure regarding her father's imprisonment. Jenna is a member of Al-Anon, which helps people who have alcoholics in their lives. She also works at a shoe store, Gladstone  Shoes. Jenna's father is in prison after she turned him in for driving while drunk. Work keeps her busy and also keeps her mind off her father. Her life becomes even more complicated when she meets Tanner Cobb, who was caught stealing. He gets a job at Gladstone Shoes in order to make up for what he has done. This 181 page novel is a quick read and exposes the challenges many young people face. I would recommend this coming of age book to young adults ages 12 to 15 who enjoy inspirational stories about characters their own age.

Ellen M., age 16