Finally got to read this one and I wasn't disappointed. I love Raina Telgemeier's work. This is a funny, sweet, brilliantly illustrated memoir of a suFinally got to read this one and I wasn't disappointed. I love Raina Telgemeier's work. This is a funny, sweet, brilliantly illustrated memoir of a summer road trip she took with her younger sister, younger brother and mom. They drove from California to Colorado for a family reunion in their VW van, stopping at tourist attractions along the way, and the sisters bicker and fight in typical sister fashion. Flashbacks (on yellow-tinted paper, I loved this idea!) tell us how Raina longed for a sister to play with, but now regrets it because Amara gets on her nerves; family holidays and spats and job worries, etc. And things don't go as planned for Raina when they get to the reunion, either. This is just a really cute and realistic look at families, how they're not perfect, but they're full of love nonetheless. ...more
Okay, a book about genetically altered teens who can breathe underwater and telepathically communicate with dolphins? Who are on the run from the goveOkay, a book about genetically altered teens who can breathe underwater and telepathically communicate with dolphins? Who are on the run from the government and have to fight sharks, giant squids, and each other as they try to find a safe haven? I am so there! This book was a lot of fun, even with the slightly preposterous concept. But really, science fiction can cover everything, so why not talking to dolphins? I'm ready to read the sequel for sure. Give this one to fans of Maximum Ride, for the gene splicing and the chapters with suspenseful cliffhanger last sentences, and to any kid who loves dolphins, or to a reader of The Hunger Games who wants a shorter, lighter dystopian adventure. Set underwater, did I mention it's underwater? Interesting to read this one fairly soon after I'd read Atlantia, also set underwater but much more serious and supernatural in tone. Those kids can't breathe underwater without equipment; not nearly as fun!...more
A graphic novel story of one summer in the life of Rose and her friend Windy, spent at their families' lakeside cottages. They swim, ride bikes, talkA graphic novel story of one summer in the life of Rose and her friend Windy, spent at their families' lakeside cottages. They swim, ride bikes, talk about their families, do typical lazy summer day stuff. They sometimes watch R-rated horror movies that they rent from the convenience store where they also snoop on the drama going on with the older high school kids who work and hang out there. Rose has a bit of a crush on one boy, and Windy, the younger friend who's not quite into boys yet, teases her about it. Rose is introspective, quiet; Windy is chubby, energetic, still a kid, addicted to soda. There's also family drama between Rose's parents, involving their attempts to have a second child, and at the end the two plotlines converge, that of Rose's mother and of the store clerk boy's girlfriend. I liked this okay, but wasn't wild about it. Maybe because I'm no longer a teen with long boring summers of nothing much to do, and reading this really reminded me of those days, and I didn't particularly feel like going back there? I was a little bored reading this, just like on a boring summer day. Which on the other hand would be a complement, then, that it successfully evokes a time and place and feeling in the reader. The art is very good, for sure (still not sure why it won a Caldecott Honor, I think they were trying too hard to include graphic novels. The content of this is definitely at the upper upper end of Caldecott purview, with F-bombs and some other YA words.). ...more
This is a creepy, tense thriller, that starts out slow and builds to a very exciting conclusion. 15 year old Eli has been living with his mother, fathThis is a creepy, tense thriller, that starts out slow and builds to a very exciting conclusion. 15 year old Eli has been living with his mother, father and 2 sisters for the past 6 years in an underground bunker, a huge compound with multiple rooms, fully equipped with amenities and a decade's worth of food and supplies. His billionaire father had the compound built in case of nuclear war, and when suddenly one scary night it happened, Eli and his family were hustled into it. Sadly, his grandmother and twin brother were left behind, and in his grief Eli has become a sullen loner teenager, afraid to be touched by anyone. His sisters have developed weird personality quirks, like only speaking in a British accent. And his mother is pregnant again--she's already had a few babies underground. Then he discovers that perhaps his father has been lying to them all along... This book really does have creepy overtones, but thankfully it never goes where you think it might go, never gets fully nasty. Just vaguely unsettling. And there are surprises. Good for readers who like dark creepy psychological books with some action....more
Mexican-American high school senior Gabi tells her story of senior year in a journal, which includes drawings from her zine, and poems she writes as sMexican-American high school senior Gabi tells her story of senior year in a journal, which includes drawings from her zine, and poems she writes as she develops her skills in a poetry writing class. She suffers from low self-confidence, in both her ethnicity (being a light-skinned Latina) and her body issues (overweight). She also has issues at home--her father is a meth addict and his story isn't so great--and her mom is clingy and doesn't want her to leave home for college, which is Gabi's dream. And of course there is drama with her friends, from teen pregnancies to sexual identity, as well as Gabi's budding romantic relationships with a couple of guys. Gabi is a funny, nervous, charming, marvelous character. Her poems are fun to read, especially to see how her voice grows throughout the year. The journal is peppered with Spanish phrases, most explained loosely in context, so there's a great Latino flavor to the story, grounding it in its cultural setting. Content and language are high school, not middle school-appropriate. my only negative is that the cover is really weird--maybe if the color choicse were different, I might have liked it better. I understand the metaphor of Gabi feeling like she's "in pieces" as illustrated by the collage from her zine, but it's really an offputting image for me. I think only a few teens will pick this up because of the cover, which is a shame....more
Another great book from McGinnis and a sequel as good as the first book. Taking place ten years after Not a Drop to Drink, Lucy, the little girl fromAnother great book from McGinnis and a sequel as good as the first book. Taking place ten years after Not a Drop to Drink, Lucy, the little girl from that story is now 16 and living happily with Lynn, her mother figure (the teen who was the main character in the first book). Lucy doesn't know any world but the place she lives, the pond that provides their water, her friendships with Vera, Stebbs and a possible romantic future with Carter. But when polio strikes down many of the community and strangers who come straggling in for help, Lucy's world is shattered. She must separate from Carter and all she's known, setting out with Lynn to try to find a new place to live that will be safe and sustaining. Thus begins the hardest of road trips--a journey on foot from Ohio to California, braving the elements, lack of water, difficult terrain, and trying to avoid any people along the way, because in a world with hardly any water and no amenities, Lucy has to follow Lynn's example, against her own cheerful disposition, and not trust anyone they meet.
I loved going back into this harsh world and reacquainting myself with Lynn, who is tough, gruff, and amazingly strong, yet full of heart (she just never ever wears it on her sleeve). It was cool to see her grown up, and in the position of mother, and to see little Lucy coming into her own. The relationship between the two women is awesome. And Lucy's sense of humor was a great leavener in some pretty grim scenes. I've read quite a few post-apocalyptic survival stories, but I definitely rank these two up at the top for realistic setting and suspenseful plots and well-rounded characters you remember long after you put the book down....more
I really hate to give a book only 1 star, but I just didn't like this one and had to force myself to finish it. I felt the writing was very sloppy andI really hate to give a book only 1 star, but I just didn't like this one and had to force myself to finish it. I felt the writing was very sloppy and much in need of editing; I marked up my copy with a lot of typo-corrections. There were poor vocabulary choices: repeating the same adjectives or verbs multiple times on one page, and limited character descriptions--seemed like every guy the heroine met was "blankly handsome", as in, "ruggedly handsome" and "devilishly handsome", two phrases she used in the same scene! to describe two different men!-- and I just found the often stilted language hard to read. It read like fanfiction or a really lame romance novel. It has a unique setting, sort of--a weird magical forest with red moss--but not much was done with the setting otherwise. The strange otherworldly "species" of characters she meets are never named, and not really described enough to be a distinct 'species' at all, in my opinion. They have different-colored eyes. Big whoop. She spends more time explaining that they are NOT vampires than explaining what they really are; I suppose that comes in the sequel, but I shouldn't have to wait for a second book to have such major questions answered. I also don't get the blurbs about this book that say "fairy tales are real", when there's no references to any fairy tales that I've ever read. Just a dark spooky forest with weird people in it. I just couldn't buy it that Angelina, our heroine, would take one look at Nicolai, who's sorta kinda the bad guy at first--and fall instantly in love (again) with him. (He's supposed to be her long-lost husband from her previous life, and this fact was drummed into the reader many times, just in case you had forgotten that, hello, they've been married before and they're IN LOVE for ALL TIME.) He just creeped me out, he wasn't romantic at all. I found the creative character name spellings too twee for words ("Ctephanyi"? Really?), and when you're getting distracted by names, you know you're not enjoying a book. I'm not really sure how this got nominated for the Buckeye Teen Book Award, but it'll be interesting to see how well it fares in the voting when more teens have read it. I don't mean to be harsh, just giving my opinion. This book is like a pretty good first draft, that needs a lot of work to be better....more
Reading this book immerses you in a film noir world. That's the best way to describe it. You feel as if you're going to look up from the text and seeReading this book immerses you in a film noir world. That's the best way to describe it. You feel as if you're going to look up from the text and see the world around you is in deep black-and-white, with shadows lurking around the corner and a haunting sad musical score playing in the background. Or maybe that's just my overactive imagination, but I couldn't put this book down. The story is simple: it's 1948, Alice's older sister Annie suddenly shows up in the hospital in a coma, beaten to within an inch of her life, and Alice wants to find out who did this to her and why. But there are so many layers to these characters and to the story! Annie walked out of their L.A. home four years ago, and Alice hasn't seen or heard from her since, so there's a second mystery: where has Annie been all this time and why did she leave? And why didn't she ever contact Alice, her sister, who idolized her and missed her deeply? Then there's the rumpled private investigator who shows up in Annie's room, dropping hints of urgency and saying Annie worked for him. And because Alice and Annie's parents, a former chorus girl still looking for fame and her Hollywood studio publicist husband, have barely parented them at all, only using them as props as parties, it's up to Annie on her own to get to the bottom of this mystery, no matter the danger. And soon she's in it up to her eyeballs, snooping around ratty bungalows and meeting stars, starlets, corrupt cops and thugs and all types of shady characters. There were so many twists and turns to the plot, it was a real humdinger of a story! Great setting; the author shows a good eye for historical detail. Annie and Alice's relationship is complex, as Alice has to reconcile her memories of her sister with what she learns about her now. And just like in a film noir, there are disappointments and not necessarily a truly happy ending. But it's fast-paced and full of action and surprises. ...more
Wonderful romantic fantasy set in a unique world, where half the population are Reds, with normal human red blood, oppressed by the other half of theWonderful romantic fantasy set in a unique world, where half the population are Reds, with normal human red blood, oppressed by the other half of the population, the super-powered, super-rich and super-spoiled Silvers. Silvers can hardly be killed, when they can teleport or shoot fire out of their hands or influence others' thoughts. Mare is just a poor Red thief, trying to keep her family together despite the mandatory army conscriptions of her 3 older brothers and her looming conscription as well. The Reds fight (and die in) the neverending war for the Silvers. But when Mare's circumstances change and she's brought into the palace of King Tiberius, she not only gets a glimpse into the everyday lives of Silvers, but she turns out to have a special Silver-like ability herself! Caught up in palace intrigue and the rising rebellion of the Scarlet Guard, will Mare be able to find out who she really is in this world, and can she trust who her heart is drawing her toward?
This book is FUN! Great for readers who love Kristin Cashore's Graceling and Bardugo's Grisha trilogy, or Cinda Williams Chima's Seven Realms books The Demon King. I loved the varieties of magic, the palace politics, and the twists and betrayals and romance. Kept me guessing, which is a great thing in a book. Looking forward to the sequel....more
Another great series to point Harry Potter fans toward! Twelve-year-old Callum has been raised by his dad ever since he was a baby; all he knows aboutAnother great series to point Harry Potter fans toward! Twelve-year-old Callum has been raised by his dad ever since he was a baby; all he knows about how his mother died is that it happened when he was a baby, and at that time his leg was damaged. Now he limps and can never play sports, and he has no friends. His father has always told him how horrible Mages are, that magic is not something you want to use, and that it only leads to bad things. But now Call's shown he has the capacity to use magic, and he's been summoned to take the Iron Trial, a screening test to see if he qualifies to join The Magisterium, the mysterious underground (literally! in caverns!) boarding school for budding Mages. His father tells him to fail, on purpose, so that he'll never be picked to be a Mage's apprentice at that horrible place. And Call thinks he has failed, miserably, even without trying--he's made a mess, things are exploding, etc. But then it happens--he's chosen! Against his father's angry protests. And thus begins his education and training in the ways of Elemental Magic, for as he begins painfully to learn, "Fire wants to burn, water wants to flow, air wants to rise, earth wants to bind, and chaos wants to devour." This spooky refrain is the mantra of the Mages, and soon Call is embroiled in a mystery concerning his father and his own past, and is confronted with elemental creatures and magical enemies that threaten to overwhelm him just as he is finding friends who trust him and a place to belong.
Lots of fun action set in a nifty magical realm, with some clever surprises. Great story of friendship, fitting in, learning to trust, etc. Kind of reminded me of Harry Potter a little (including the Hermione-like smart girl character and the various Masters with their own agendas) but also a little of Star Wars and how Luke and other Jedi learn to use the Force. I can't wait for the next volume of this five-volume series!...more
This book is a very well written realistic look at cyberbullying and its consequences for not only the victim but the bully. Told from the points of vThis book is a very well written realistic look at cyberbullying and its consequences for not only the victim but the bully. Told from the points of view of four teens, two in high school (victim Lara and her former best friend Bree) and two in 8th grade, their younger siblings Sydney and Liam. The book opens with Lara attempting suicide as a result of spiteful things said about her, and to her, by a boy on Facebook and through IM. Eventually we learn the truth behind the bullying, and follow as Lara struggles to make progress with her healing, while the bully has to deal with how what they did ruins their own reputation when the truth is known, and threatens to tear apart their family. There's some true "backlash" here. The book has some suspense, is up to the minute technology-wise, and I also liked the portrayals of the parents involved; it's not often in teen novels that you get well-rounded adult characters. The daughters are clearly influenced by their mothers for better or worse, and it is an interesting portrait of families. The younger siblings have a good storyline too, as they have to deal with their sisters' actions. Recommended for middle school readers (no language) and up; is not preachy but just a good realistic novel.
Another funny action-packed story from the wacky mind of Carl Hiaasen. 14-year old Richard sets off to find his missing cousin Malley, who lied to herAnother funny action-packed story from the wacky mind of Carl Hiaasen. 14-year old Richard sets off to find his missing cousin Malley, who lied to her parents about heading early to boarding school and instead ran off with an older guy she met online. She is now calling Richard with cryptic messages that lead him to believe she's being held against her will. And his companion on this road trip into the backwoods of Florida is "Skink," also known as Clinton Tyree, or The Governor, a crazy-seeming wild-haired one-eyed homeless old guy whom Richard meets in a very funny way on the beach and soon is helping Richard in his adventure, although also scaring him and confounding him with his oddball ways (shower cap hat, roadkill-eating, and more!). As is usual for a Hiaasen novel, there are some nice environmental themes--this is now the second YA novel I've read that has connections to the ivory-billed woodpecker!, but also very weird and memorable characters (gar fisherman brothers "Nickel" and "Dime" come to mind), goofy coincidences and outlandish slapstick action. I would be fine giving this book to a 7th or 8th grader, because although the premise seems like it has the potential to get very mature and icky, nothing happens that you think might happen when a creepy guy kidnaps a young teen girl. There's just the *potential* for it to happen, which really adds to the suspense and drama. And then something funny happens and you just find yourself laughing out loud! Kind of a weird juxtaposition. The bad guy is a bad guy alright but he's also very stupid! And he gets his just desserts in the end. There's no foul language spelled out, just intimated, which I found a nice change of pace from other YA novels. I do know that after reading this book I will think twice about ever going on a Florida river cruise.......more
Nice baseball picture book about Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak during 1941 season. Talks about how it was an example for the country of how to perseveNice baseball picture book about Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak during 1941 season. Talks about how it was an example for the country of how to persevere against obstacles and to root together as a nation just as we entered World War II. Nice acrylic illustrations, stylized to have long arms and long legs, emphasizing the physical nature of the sport. Extensive bibliography and sources for quotes, and a more detailed version of the story is given in the author's notes....more
An excellent updated version of Malala's original autobiography. I enjoyed getting to know her mother a little bit more through this book, and seeingAn excellent updated version of Malala's original autobiography. I enjoyed getting to know her mother a little bit more through this book, and seeing some of what she has done since the first book came out. It's basically the same book otherwise, with perhaps more flowing English than before (better co-writer? or Malala's English has much improved since moving to England), and having reduced the parts that gave a more extensive history of Pakistan and the Taliban as well as how her parents met and her family background, all things that are not as interesting to a young reader, I would think. You get more of a sense of her relationship with her brothers, also, in this version, which again would be appealing to kids and teens. Either way, they're both important books for girls and all teens to read. The biggest thing that shines through is Malala's courage and optimism....more
I've been intrigued by Malala's story for awhile, and was glad to be able to finally read her book. I admire her courage, honesty, innocence, determinI've been intrigued by Malala's story for awhile, and was glad to be able to finally read her book. I admire her courage, honesty, innocence, determination and earnestness. The book was a very interesting read; she did a good job of interspersing her family history with the checkered political history of Pakistan and Afghanistan, while keeping the story of her own life moving forward toward the tragic shooting that she dramatically opened the book with. She included lighthearted anecdotes too, which was important among all the heartache and injustice. I appreciated getting to learn many Pashto and Arabic words and customs, and from her descriptions of her home in the Swat Valley I wish I could one day travel as a tourist there. I'm now reading the Young Readers' Edition of I Am Malala, written by Patricia McCormick, and it is an interesting comparison....more
Very cute picture book! The vegetables on the farm see the farmer hanging up his tighty whities on the clothesline, and they wonder what those thingsVery cute picture book! The vegetables on the farm see the farmer hanging up his tighty whities on the clothesline, and they wonder what those things are. Socks? Hats? When the carrot explains, they all want to try them on. Hilarity ensues, first as the veggies have to comically pile on top of each other just to reach the clothesline, and then as they wear the undies in various wrong places. Again, Mr. Carrot comes to the rescue, which is especially helpful when some of the veggies get wedgies from wearing the wrong size briefs! The adult in me was rather confused as to how a tomato or an onion could actually get a wedgie, knowing human anatomy is not at all like veggies, but the kid in me just giggled at the rhyme and the absurdity and let it go. ...more
Mim Malone is my new favorite literary character. No wait, the handsome and noble Beck Van Buren is. On the other hand, I also loved the incurably entMim Malone is my new favorite literary character. No wait, the handsome and noble Beck Van Buren is. On the other hand, I also loved the incurably enthusiastic "hey hey I'm Walt!" This book is full of such wonderful, quirky characters and heartfelt emotion, with funny laugh-out-loud thoughts and observations by Mim, as well as beautifully written language to savor. Mary Iris Malone or "Mim" impulsively hops a Greyhound bus in Mississippi after getting some devastating family news. She doesn't tell either her father or stepmother that she's decided to travel all the way to Cleveland to visit her sick mother--because she doesn't like her stepmom, but also because, well, as she puts it, "reasons are hard." There are multiple reasons why Mim decides she has to make this journey, but ultimately, she's trying to find her real home. She feels uprooted from her childhood home in Ashland, Ohio, since her parents' divorce and her father's remarriage and their move down South. She also is dealing with seeing a therapist, who may or may not be able to help her with her mental demons. So, armed with her mother's lipstick "war paint" and a spunky attitude, "Mim" is off to find out some truths. Along the way, she meets some heroes and some villains, and learns that not all heroes are perfectly good, nor are all villains straightforwardly evil. I heartily recommend this book to older teens and anyone who knows what it's like to feel alone in the world, wanting a friend and a place to call home. Would make an interesting read-alike with Adam Rapp's Punkzilla, which has a similar premise (including the letter-writing format) but is much darker and not as optimistic. I much preferred Mosquitoland to Punkzilla, not least of which because the narrator is a much more likeable character, and also, doesn't write in stream-of-consciousness runon sentences. But they both have the dingy gas stations and seedy characters found in any good road trip novel....more