This is a very weird book. It is a very funny book, also profane, and a little profound maybe. The basic plot is like something out of a 1960's atomicThis is a very weird book. It is a very funny book, also profane, and a little profound maybe. The basic plot is like something out of a 1960's atomic-science fiction movie: two high school boys witness the unwitting unleashing of giant killer praying mantises on an unsuspecting town! All these bugs want to do is is eat--they eat humans, as well as each other--and mate. And maybe eat their mate while mating. If the bugs aren't stopped, they will rapidly multiply and take over the world! But oh no, they're UNSTOPPABLE! They were created in a secret lab experiment in the 60's, by some really twisted scientists trying to come up with the world's best soldier, and it's going to be really hard to undo that experiment. Then there are the two young men who get caught up in this horrific carnage--Austin, who loves his girlfriend Shannon but who is also having strong feelings for his best friend Robby, who came out as gay a few years ago. It's going to be up to the three of them to save the world and maybe perpetuate the human species. This book is a story of love and sexual identity and the end of the world, and the bonds of friendship and the hopes of small town boys who yearn to get out of their dead-end lives, as well as a story of a lot of blood and guts and sci-fi hilarity. The book is really funny! But also gross at the same time, which is also funny. Austin styles himself a historian, so he's writing down everything that happens to himself and his friends, in what he feels is a detached objective manner. He also is documenting his ancestry, weaving in the stories of what happened to his father and his grandfather and his great-grandfather who came over on the boat from Poland. So there are a lot of details in this book, some of which weren't necessarily needed, as well as crude teen-boy language. (There's also a lot of repetition--every time Austin gives someone's name, he gives both first and last name, which drove me crazy by the end of the book. And he started chapters by repeating what had just happened previously. I think it was his pseudo-historian writing style, trying to be that impartial observer, but it got old fast. Just my opinion.) Austin is confused about sex, and misses his older brother who is serving in the military overseas, and Austin also has been bullied, and is now thrust into a really scary situation. This book is just a great mashup of everything. I finished it laughing with tears in my eyes, for Austin and his tribulations and his heroic efforts, but I was also a wee bit annoyed. I can't decide whether to give it three or four stars. I had fun reading it, but I was also frustrated with the writing style. Definitely recommended for only high school and up, for the mature content. (But then again, there's a lot of IMMATURE content as well! Ha!)...more
This is only the second book I've ever read about mermaids, I think, definitely the first one in a long time, and it was fun! A very interesting mythoThis is only the second book I've ever read about mermaids, I think, definitely the first one in a long time, and it was fun! A very interesting mythology/worldbuilding, where the mer people are descended from residents of Atlantis, and they live in several different kingdoms, some of which have tentative peace agreements with each other. 16 year old "merl" Serafina is a princess, the daughter of the Regina of the kingdom of Miromara (which is always ruled by a female), and as the story opens she is nervous about the big Dokimi ceremony she's about to undertake. It's like the official debut of the princess, where she is declared the official heir and betrothed to a neighboring merman prince at the same time. But it involves her having to stand her ground while a fierce creature sniffs her over, basically tasting her blood to make sure she really is of royal lineage--if she's not, she could die! She also has to cast a songspell to prove her worthiness to rule. I liked the use of magic in the book; it's done via singing, as of course mermaids are known for their siren voices, but also with light, and even blood. Serafina is worried not only about the ceremony, but about meeting her intended, Prince Mahdi, again after not seeing him for two years. When they were 14, they seemed to hit it off and she likes him; but she's heard that he's now changed, is rebellious and hanging out with slutty girls. And soon she has far bigger worries: an attack by a rival kingdom that injures many, including her mother, and sends Sera and her best friend Neela fleeing for their lives, chased by bad mermen!
A great deal of the story involves a nightmare Sera is having, of a coven of legendary witch-mermaids chanting about 'seeking the five' to stop the rise of an evil force. Through Sera's travels she meets 4 other mermaids, all of whom have had the same dream, and who discover they are linked together in this battle to combat the evil creature Abbadon. They have to work together to decipher clues and make their way to the witches, learning more about the history of their underwater realm and about their own ancestors, the Six Ruler Mages of Atlantis. The book ends on a very intense cliffhanger, so be ready to read the sequel whenever it comes.
I liked the idea of this book, the mermaids and their magical mythology; liked the vocabulary and incantations taken from a series of world languages--so not everything magical is spoken in Latin, but also in Greek, Romanian, etc. There's a nice multicultural feel to the story; the other mermaids are from other lands. And the humans are called 'terragoggs', which is very unique. But I thought the characters were a little young for 16, and they talked about eating candy and wearing designer mermaid clothing in a very shallow tweeny way. Sera's supposed to have growth as a character, learning to rely on herself and to let go of her fears, etc, but it took forever for that to happen. Also, as much as the setting and magic were unique, I kept getting thrown out of the fantasy by phrases that indicated actions that could not possibly happen underwater. "She slapped her tail on the water" to make a noise to distract the enemy: really? When she's many fathoms below the surface? Slapping only happens at the top of the water, where there is air, and the girls only surfaced once, in a cove, so you know that the rest of the time they are at the bottom of the ocean. Where no one slaps anything. The amusing notion of the mermaids and mermen riding 'hippokamps'--we are led to believe they are sea horses--was okay until the sound of their 'hooves' occurred. Even if they were some creature other than the sea horse we are familiar with, they surely would not have legs and hooves underwater! It was almost as if the story was written for a land-based society and then the author changed her mind and went back to change things to a water society. (They live not on a street but on a 'current', and use 'currensea' to buy things. Groan.) They had buildings and chairs and tables, and curtains, which also threw me off. It was too human-like in some ways, and therefore corny, while in others it was very otherworldly and marinelike. This may just be me nitpicking, and a teen or middle grade reader (which is the age I'd recommend this to) won't notice such details, but I did feel a little disappointed whenever this sort of thing pulled me out of the story. Overall it's a fun story, once you get into it, with action and magic and bad guys and a very creepy evil creature, and a tiny bit of romance, and hey, they're mermaids so if you like mermaids, you'll love this book!
I read an advance electronic copy of this book from Netgalley.com--which was the very first book I've ever read on my new Kindle paperwhite, so that was fun! (though the formatting was a little wonky, I guess because it was not the finished copy)...more
This is a fun time-travel-with aliens-twisty story. I listened to it on audio over the course of a few weeks, unfortunately, just in little bits and pThis is a fun time-travel-with aliens-twisty story. I listened to it on audio over the course of a few weeks, unfortunately, just in little bits and pieces at a time, so I don't remember a whole lot about the plot. But I definitely enjoyed it; the diskos concept (of disks that are portals to fixed points in time, usually where a disaster occurred) is fun. Tucker is a great everyman reluctant hero character, caught up in weird circumstances and just trying to get back home. Great for middle school readers. Makes you think--what would YOU do if you had the chance to time travel, but weren't sure where or when you'd end up?...more
A sweet, quiet book written in verse, about a 7th grader, Josie, who happens to have cerebral palsy. She has some speech difficulty, and her arm and lA sweet, quiet book written in verse, about a 7th grader, Josie, who happens to have cerebral palsy. She has some speech difficulty, and her arm and leg are affected, but she can communicate just fine with others. She lives on her family's farm (which has been sold off in parcels for subdivisions, so it is no longer a farm), with her single mom and her grandmother. The whole family loves to garden and grow things; her mother is studying for her nursery management degree, and the book is full of flower and vegetable metaphors. The story takes place over a year, as Josie meets a new boy, Jordan, who becomes her friend, seeing past her disability to revel in their shared love of science and plants. Josie ditches her summertime therapy sessions to spend as much time as possible with her friend, before he leaves for science camp, but of course she gets in trouble with her mom for lying, and suffers jealousy over his time spent with other girls. Her changing relationship with her grandmother is also a key part of the book. The poetry is beautiful, with lots of nature imagery, showing how their whole house blooms when the family is together. Good book about friendship, and for showing how to treat people who are different, by respecting what's on the inside for it may surprise you. ...more
A suspenseful sci-fi novel with some great twists and turns! Marshall lost his twin brother Austin 3 months ago in a car accident; Marsh was driving,A suspenseful sci-fi novel with some great twists and turns! Marshall lost his twin brother Austin 3 months ago in a car accident; Marsh was driving, and is wracked with guilt as well as grief. Ever since, he has been walking around in bare feet, a rather unusual way to grieve, his parents think--but it's because he is determined to find a "thin space." This would be a spot, hard to see, where the barrier between our world and the next is thinner, so the living can enter the world of the dead. Marsh desperately wants to speak to his brother again, but not necessarily for the reasons you might think. He meets Maddie, a girl his age who moves in next door, and this complicates his search for a thin space because he is sure there is one in her house; but how can he get inside to search without revealing to her his mad quest? I can't talk too much about this book for fear of spoiling too much; it's just a really cool and clever book! It's suspenseful, dark, and keeps you guessing; an excellent psychological study of survivor's guilt, with a supernatural bent. Ohio author....more
Wow! Amazing book. So amazing, suspenseful and surprising, and I will not spoil it here. A story about friendship, family, love, and a life of privileWow! Amazing book. So amazing, suspenseful and surprising, and I will not spoil it here. A story about friendship, family, love, and a life of privilege that's not as perfect as it seems. A story about a girl who is trying to remember what happened to her, and what happened to her family. A good story for summer, and for dreaming that you are as rich as the Kennedys; wouldn't you want to live this life too? Perhaps not, after reading this book. It is set on a private island near Martha's Vineyard, where a wealthy family has spent every summer for generations, living in their huge houses surrounded by beautiful things, to play in the surf and drive their motorboats and laze around in the sun eating fancy lobster meals prepared by the staff whose names they don't even know nor do they care to know. Seventeen year old Cadence "Cady" Sinclair narrates the book, telling the story of her fifteenth summer as well as her 16th and 17th summers, in flashbacks and in the present, and the structure is very important to the suspense of the story. I found this a really fun read, as well as an emotional read. Full of interesting characters: Grandad the quirky family patriarch, whose three daughters have plenty of issues beneath the surface of their perfect lives, and their three teen children, Cady, Mirren and Johnny, cousins who grew up inseparable and share a strong bond of friendship. And the handsome Gat, a friend who is as close as family for all the summers he's spent with the Sinclairs. Four friends who call themselves The Liars.
If you read this, don't reveal the ending to anyone! After I finished it, I had to immediately go back and reread certain parts, it was so well done that I didn't see the ending coming. Great book!...more
This book is totally "brass"! That's League of Seven steampunk slang for cool, awesome, exciting, and terrific. Archie Dent lives in an alternate 1875This book is totally "brass"! That's League of Seven steampunk slang for cool, awesome, exciting, and terrific. Archie Dent lives in an alternate 1875 America, a United Nations of cooperation between Yankees and 6 tribes of Native Americans in the Iroquois Confederacy. In Archie's world, Cherokee and Muskogee Indians are as commonplace as Latinos and African-Americans in ours; in Archie's world, all boats are submarines, flying is done in steam-powered airships, and electricity is a forgotten, forbidden evil. Archie's parents are members of a secret society that has the important mission of keeping an eye out for the escape and return of giant scary Mangleborn monsters that want to enslave all of humanity. And this action-packed story begins with some serious action, as Archie's parents become controlled by a Manglespawn--smaller but no less nasty creatures-- and it's up to Archie and his clockwork Machine Man companion/guardian Mr. Rivets to try to rescue them, while fighting for their very lives! Along the way, Archie will team up with the highly skilled girl warrior Hachi and a funny mechanical genius named Fergus, and encounter more sinister monsters, alternate versions of historical figures we know such as Thomas Edison and Nicola Tesla, and even tangle with a mecha-ninja. Will Archie be able to stop the evil Mangleborn from taking over? Or is mankind doomed to failure? Is this the moment when a new League of Seven, legendary figures who alone can defeat the Mangleborn, is being formed? Find out by reading The League of Seven!
I just adored this book. The steampunk setting is cool and cleverly described; loved the pneumatic mail system (an 'inter-net' of tubes! Ha!) and other nods to modern tech done in steampunk style, everything in brass or leather, the clever alternate history of not only the USA but also Europe and other countries thrown in for good measure. Excellent worldbuilding without dragging down the story. Frequent sprinkling in of Latin and other languages, and some clues to solve, and terrific characters who grow throughout the book as they learn their own strengths and/or embrace their pasts. Funny dialogue and witty comebacks, too! And the Machine Men (clockwork robots, basically) are really nifty. Great book to share with Percy Jackson fans or fans of Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld and other steampunk stories, but also anyone who loves a rollicking good story. I read an ARC of this book and I can't wait to share it with several young readers....more
Oh my goodness. Loved this book about a bookseller and the quirky characters in a small island town. I am sniffling a bit, but in a good way. AJ the mOh my goodness. Loved this book about a bookseller and the quirky characters in a small island town. I am sniffling a bit, but in a good way. AJ the main character undergoes wonderful growth, there's a couple of quiet romances, and a ton of literary quotes and references and nifty book-related passages. I predict this will be a hit with many book discussion groups. I picked it up because I love Gabrielle's teen novels, so I wanted to see what she would write for grownups. Turns out she wrote an excellent book that just happens to have adults as the main characters but could be easily read by a teenager too, especially an intelligent bookish aspiring writer-teen like the character Maya, found in this story. I loved her! and I think I know several like her. I would have no qualms giving this to them. No sex scenes, yay! An author who appreciates that that is totally fine being left up to the imagination. It's not an important part of the story, and just like in classic Hollywood films, is perfectly fine being left "off camera." Hope that didn't sound too prudish, I love a good bedroom scene as much as anyone, but in the right sort of book. At any rate, this charming book is about the literary lives of its characters, their mental lives, as much as it is about their physical lives. And after reading this I want to go visit as many small town bookstores as I possibly can!...more
An excellent survival story, set in the near future. Sixteen year old Lynn has grown up living alone with her mother in rural Ohio, where they live inAn excellent survival story, set in the near future. Sixteen year old Lynn has grown up living alone with her mother in rural Ohio, where they live in the basement of their farmhouse and defend the farm's pond from any visitors. Water has become exceedingly rare in this post-natural disaster world, and so lives depend on having a source of fresh water. Lynn has learned how to shoot a rifle at anyone who comes near. When tragedy strikes her mother, and she finds a helpless family has squatted in the nearby woods, Lynn has to fend for herself, putting her hardearned survival skills to the test. But her mother never really told her that some people can be friendly, or about how to deal with them. Especially not about how to cope with a little kid, or a boy her age.
I loved this story for the action and suspense, but also for the great character development. Lynn undergoes all sorts of growth as she figures out how to be a friend, how to trust strangers, how to love. Good for middle school readers who want a good survival story; has violent acts but not too gory; some swearwords but no f-bombs....more
Interesting futuristic tale (ahem, okay, I'll call it a dystopian) about a girl who's been imprisoned in solitary confinement for over a year, thinksInteresting futuristic tale (ahem, okay, I'll call it a dystopian) about a girl who's been imprisoned in solitary confinement for over a year, thinks she might be insane--she can't touch anyone's bare skin without causing them excruciating pain, killing them. When a teen boy is moved into her cell, she's not sure how to behave, she's been alone for so long, not ever hugged or loved by her parents. She's seriously messed up. But soon she and Adam discover that he is immune to her deadly touch--and things get interesting from there. this one took me a while to get into, because of the way it's written. The writing style in the beginning (first person) is very stream of consciousness, poetic, long sentences with some thoughts crossed out, which was annoying until I got used to it. But when the action picks up and the inevitable fight against authorities kicks in, I couldn't put it down. And the final scenes introducing some new characters guarantees I'll read the next book.
Very cool futuristic thriller. Reminded me a bit of Divergent (there are weapons training scenes ala Dauntless initiation) and other dystopians, but tVery cool futuristic thriller. Reminded me a bit of Divergent (there are weapons training scenes ala Dauntless initiation) and other dystopians, but this one is set in Cleveland in only the very near future, so that was cool. And the genetically engineered power these teens have is pretty awesome: the ability to cause fear by emitting psychic energy from their brains! Good local scenery, action, camaraderie among teammates despite the main character Miranda's amnesia.
First book in a trilogy, and it was nominated for the Buckeye Children's and Teen Book Award....more
I loved this book! Lots of fun puzzles to figure out, and a cool setting: what librarian wouldn't enjoy reading a story set in the world's most high tI loved this book! Lots of fun puzzles to figure out, and a cool setting: what librarian wouldn't enjoy reading a story set in the world's most high tech no-budget-spared fancy razzle dazzle library?! But I also liked the game aspect, that the main character loves to play board games, that very oldfashioned thing, as well as video games of course. Cute characters who show a little growth, and funny characters like Mr. Lemoncello who sprinkles his dialogue with book titles: "There's no dead end in Norvelt, not today!" etc. Very clever. So happy it won the Buckeye Children's Book Award, it really deserves it....more
This Newbery Award winner is adorable! And funny and sweet. Flora rescues a squirrel from a vacuum cleaner accident and soon becomes convinced he is aThis Newbery Award winner is adorable! And funny and sweet. Flora rescues a squirrel from a vacuum cleaner accident and soon becomes convinced he is a superhero. She tries to keep him hidden in the house from her mother; at night, Ulysses the squirrel types on her mother's typewriter and communicates with Flora! There are various adventures with a neighbor's cat and other close calls with death; a new friend next door who's a nerdy fun boy; characters who grow and have a change of heart. It's silly and dramatic like a comic book, with lots of adorable line drawings, but also very philosophical and literary at the same time. I can see why the Newbery committee liked it so much. ...more